Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chuck Schumer on the Fairness Doctrine

If Schumer has clout in the composition of the Fairness Doctrine, it looks like the print media and the web will get a pass. A cynical person might point out that the news mediums getting a pass are the ones that tend to be dominated by liberals. That same person may point out that the main target of the legislation, talk radio, tends to be dominated by conservatives.

The logic worries me almost as much as the concept. Namely, if the government regulates pornography it should regulate political speech. Schumer - "You can't say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another; that's not consistent." Is he really saying that if you believe in the regulation of pornography you have to accept the regulation of political speech? The same logic suggests that if the government is allowed to regulate anything, they are allowed to regulate everything. If Schumer is serious about the choice between regulating both pornography and free speech, or deregulating both, I say bring on the porn. I do not believe that both issues are link an hope that the government is capable and willing to deal with them separately.

How can the republicans stop the Fairness Doctrine? It now appears that they will keep enough Senators to maintain a filibuster. It is going to be close, especially if the Democrats can siphon off a few liberal Republicans. The Republicans have to hope that they can keep enough to maintain the filibuster or pick up the support of a few conservative Democrats. Alternatively, they could try and make it over inclusive. If the Republicans can ad print media and the political websites as targets of the bill, that could be enough to kill it. The only other way I see the Republicans blocking this is to take it to the people and get popular opinion against it to such an extent that the Democrats would defect to the Republican side or not bring it up at all.

This will likely be the extent of the Republican play book for at least the next two years; filibuster, attach poison pills, or use popular opinion to counter the Democratic legislative majority. As a significant minority in both houses of congress and without the presidency their is little else they can do.

Video embedded below.

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