Debate: Citizens United: Good or Bad?

The Citizens United decision has proven quite controversial, with advocates both for and against it. So why not have a debate?

For those who don’t remember, Citizens United was an organization that made a movie critical of then-candidate Hillary Clinton. The Federal Elections Commission deemed this to be a form of illegal campaign contribution, and fined them. The group appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that money is speech, and companies are people, and since you can’t restrict people’s free speech, companies can give as much money as they want to political campaigns.


Citizens United is a Good Thing.


First up, we have Senator Ted Cruz, who thinks Citizens United is a good idea:

Following Sen. Whitehouse’s 30-minute denunciation of dark money, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, used part of his time to defend the landmark Supreme Court case Citizens United that allowed for corporations and unions to spend unlimited money on political ads and other forms of influence campaigns.

“Citizens United concerned whether or not it was legal to make a movie criticizing a politician

On his Senate web page, he adds (emphasis in the original):

The Obama Justice Department took the position that it could fine — it could punish Citizens United for daring to make a movie critical of a politician. The case went all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court at the oral argument, there was a moment that was truly chilling. Justice Sam Alito asked the Obama Justice Department, ‘Is it your position under your theory of the case that the Federal Government can ban books?’ And the Obama Justice Department responded yes. […] As far as I am concerned, that is a terrifying view of the First Amendment. […] By a narrow five-four majority, the Supreme Court concluded the First Amendment did not allow the Federal Government to punish you for making a movie critical of a politician. And likewise that the Federal Government couldn’t ban books. Four justices dissented, four justices were willing to say the federal government can ban books.”


And now, opposing the motion, please welcome Senator Ted Cruz:

Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley raised concerns about getting meaningful legislation aimed at Silicon Valley passed because the Biden administration and prominent Democrats, who control Congress, could be beholden to financial ties to technology giants.

“Big Tech are the largest financial supporters of Democrats in the country,” Cruz told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday. “And so, to date, we have seen occasional rhetoric from Democrats directed at Big Tech, but when they’re your single-biggest donors, it shouldn’t be surprising that Democrats have been far less willing to engage in concrete action to rein in Big Tech.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed this debate, and will thank our debaters by contributing to their challengers when they come up for reelection. It’s your free speech, after all.

The Vatican Needs to Make Up Its Damn Mind

Washington Post story, two days ago:
Vatican fires gay priest on eve of synod

Washington Post story, today:
Pope urges prejudices be put aside at start of family synod

The Selectively-True Scotsman

BillDo has been on a tear lately against surveys, seeing as how a few of them have been released lately showing that as it turns out, the Catholic rank and file are nowhere near as reactionary as the funny-hatted hierarchy, or as he would like.

I suppose he could have just pointed out that the Catholic church is not a democracy so sit down, shut up, and let the higher-ups tell you what God wants, but I suppose even he realizes that won’t go over well in the 21st century. So instead, he points out the differences between people who attend church services regularly and those who don’t. I guess this is like saying swing voters are more favorable to immigration reform and gay rights than people who consistently vote straight-ticket Republican, and therefore the GOP needs to double down on its anti-gay plaform planks to remain relevant. Or, to put it another way, I don’t know what his reasoning is.

At any rate, it’s clear that he doesn’t care for self-identified Catholics who don’t go to church every Sunday:

Whether someone who “attends Mass a few times a year or never” can be considered Catholic is debatable

(from here)

This takes on added significance when we consider that 4 in 10 of the Catholics sampled do not practice their religion (28 percent go to church “a few times a year” and 11 percent say they “never” attend). That these nominal Catholics are precisely the biggest fans of gay marriage is a sure bet, though the poll fails to disclose the results.

(from here.)

So take note, Christmas-and-Easter Catholics: you’re not true Scotsmen Catholics.

But wait, what’s this?

Catholics make up anywhere between 70 and 78 million Americans

70-78 million out of a population of 315 million is 22-25%, well in line with other surveys of American religion that I’ve seen. But shouldn’t BillDo’s number be 40% lower than mainstream pollsters’, since he doesn’t consider infrequent mass-goers to be True Catholics™?

Surely this can’t mean that he’s happy to count mere “nominal Catholics” when he wants to show off the size of his tribe. We know this can’t be the case because hypocrisy makes Baby Jesus cry. So there must be some other explanation, like anti-Catholic bias among pollsters or something.

Update, Mar. 25, 2013: Carmelita Spats tells me how she tried, and failed, to be excommunicated from the Catholic church, on the grounds that a) she’s an atheist, and b) she had an abortion. But apparently even that’s not enough to be taken off the rolls.

BillDo Teaches Us About Moral Absolutes

BillDo in his
1998 annual report:

March 25

Comedy Central’s “South Park” continued its notorious Christian-bashing, with an episode that linked Christians to Nazis as oppressors of homosexuals. In a segment describing homosexuality throughout history, the character “Big Gay Al” interrupted his commentary to say, “Uh-oh, look out, it’s the oppressors—Christians and Nazis and Republicans.” The scene showed Hitler with a Catholic priest to the right and a Republican on the left—the priest waving a cross, the Republican an American flag.

BillDo in 2004:

George Soros, the billionaire left-wing Bush-hater who funds the website ( has compared Bush to Hitler)

BillDo in 2006:

Want a sample of his politics? In 2005, McCourt took part in a rally, ‘The Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime,’ that compared the Bush administration to Hitler’s regime.

BillDo in his
2008 annual report:

Bill Maher continued his non-stop assault on Catholicism in 2008 by lashing out several times on TV and in movies. After he mocked Transubstantiation early in the year, I said on TV that I would love to step into the ring with him in Madison Square Garden so I could “floor him.” The comment was made in jest, but he kept repeating it all year, feigning victim status. His rant against the pope, made just before the Holy Father visited the U.S. in April, included a comment calling Pope Benedict XVI a Nazi. He apologized (sort of) after we went after him.

So I think the lesson is clear: comparing people to Hitler or Nazis is
unacceptable, and rightfully causes outrage. Right?

BillDo yesterday:


Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on last night’s edition of Penn & Teller’s show. The program aired on Showtime which is owned by CBS:

The Nazis couldn’t have done better.

Ah, but that’s different, isn’t it? Behavior that’s completely
unacceptable in one set of circumstances may be okay in another.
Right, Bill?

BillDo in 2002:

Moral relativism is not only an intellectually bankrupt idea, its real-life consequences can be deadly.

Not until our society comes to accept
what the Catholic Church teaches—that there are moral absolutes and that all
life is sacred—will we turn the corner.

BillDo in 2004:

What I’m a little bit tired of is the same kind of cruel caricature. And I love the way the movie ends. You know, here we have this idea that moral absolutes are bad. We need gray areas. Oh, really? Let me tell you something, Brian, you made this movie. Millions of people have lost their lives in the last century because of selling the idea that there are no moral absolutes. If there are no moral absolutes, we are back to different strokes for different people. We put pizzas into ovens in this country, they put Jews into ovens in Nazi Germany. Yet, that may not have been your intention, sir, but you’re selling an idea which is toxic.

BillDo in 2005:

Pope Benedict XVI knows that a society absent moral absolutes is capable of great evil. His homily on the "dictatorship of relativism" owes much to John Paul II’s encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, one of the most brilliant statements ever written on the relation between morality and liberty.

Hm. Maybe BillDo should learn how to delete embarrassing archives from
his site.

Or maybe the lesson to be learned is that pointing out Billy-boy’s
hypocrisy is like walking up to a barrel filled with slow-moving fish,
with a rocket launcher bolted to the side and aimed straight into the
barrel, and only someone with too much time on his hands, like me,
would bother to actually pull the trigger.

The Ted Haggard Affair

A quick recap of the Ted Haggard affair so far: a man came forward saying he was a male prostitute, that he had been meeting with Ted Haggard for three years, and sold him meth at least twice. After an initial full denial, Haggard admitted that he had bought the meth but not used it. More recently, he admitted to “sexual immorality”, which I guess is as close as he’s likely to get to saying that he’s gay. I think he said about one of the voicemail messages that has surfaced that he was going to see the guy for a massage.

Okay, so what’s wrong with this picture? (Or, alternately, how much schadenfreude can we dig out of it, and what kind?)

Read More