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April 18, 2014

Krauthammer: I No Longer Support Disclosure in Campaign Donations, Because Zealots Will Destroy Free Speech Rights By Ruining Lives and Wrecking Careers

I think this problem can be subsumed under my general political observation that "People are just awful."

And there's really no way around that, is there?

Best we can do is mitigate the harm by making government smaller, thus limiting the harm that people can inflict when they gather into Battleclans for Tribal Warfare.

And of course that's not happening any time soon.

[Full disclosure and complete transparency] used to be my position. No longer. I had not foreseen how donor lists would be used not to ferret out corruption but to pursue and persecute citizens with contrary views. Which corrupts the very idea of full disclosure.

It is now an invitation to the creation of enemies lists....

Sometimes the state itself does the harassing. The IRS scandal left many members of political groups exposed to abuse, such as the unlawful release of confidential data....

The ultimate victim here is full disclosure itself. If revealing your views opens you to the politics of personal destruction, then transparency, however valuable, must give way to the ultimate core political good, free expression.

Our collective loss. Coupling unlimited donations and full disclosure was a reasonable way to reconcile the irreconcilables of campaign finance. Like so much else in our politics, however, it has been ruined by zealots. What a pity.

The whole column is worth reading, but I can't quote it all, of course.

Kevin D. Williamson has more thoughts on the related issue of the militarization of the speech police.

Down in Travis County, Texas, where the stink of cronyism has Republicans in the legislature and Democrats in the bureaucracies sniffing each others’ tails like opportunistic stray dogs, University of Texas regent Wallace Hall is facing the possibility of criminal prosecution for helping to expose the bipartisan scandal of Texas politicians’ seeking preferential treatment for friends and family in university admissions....

In a sane world, Wallace Hall would get a medal for bringing attention to wrongdoing by elected officials, but the university establishment and the political establishment relish their comfortable symbiosis.

Others dream of prosecution, too. The political class is infatuated with speech regulations (which we are expected to call “campaign-finance laws”) because its members harbor a self-interested desire to set the terms under which political contests are fought. That is corruption, and a particularly nasty sort of corruption at that: corruption dressed up as a reform crusade....

The irony here is that it is the ones doing the prosecuting are the ones who should be prosecuted. It is against the law to use IRS resources for political vendettas and to maliciously prosecute citizens to further partisan political interests. Those are serious crimes — serious because they pervert the fundamental relationship between citizen and state. But we are enduring what Sam Francis called “anarcho-tyranny,” a situation in which the government either refuses to or is unable to enforce its most fundamental laws — e.g. controlling the borders, ensuring that its revenue agents are not engaged in an unhinged political jihad with an eye toward stacking elections, etc. — while at the same time it seeks to regulate the minutiae of citizens’ lives with all the terrible moral ferocity of David Frum on a Tuesday afternoon espresso bender.

Meanwhile, Harry Reid -- who is more and more simply a monster -- continues making it clear that the Party of Government has personal interests, and it will stop at very little in vindicating those personal interests:


I note again that it is a scary thing when high-ranking officials of the Party of Government take challenges to their authority so personally.

You don't want a cop taking a small amount of attitude personally, and you sure as hell don't want the Majority Leader of the Senate doing so.

Or Sheldon Whitehorse of Rhode Island, who apparently took it quite personally indeed that Tea Party groups were seeking the same sort of tax status as myriad progressive groups.

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posted by Ace at 05:39 PM

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