Monday, November 26, 2007

Drunk the Fantasy of Election-Paradise

Another fine poetic offering from the most talented FOTS we are honored to know:

Kubla McKhain

(with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

In Washington did Kubla McKhain
A stately campaign-finance law decree:
Where Potomac, the sacred river, ran
Through Capitol buildings measureless to man
Down to a sunless Chesapeake.

So twice five miles of bureaucratic ground
With lawyers and civil servants were girdled round:
And there were offices bright with those who lobby,
Where blossomed ideas that caused fierce fights
And here were protections that shouldn’t be wobbly,
Enfolded in amendments in the Bill of Rights.

But oh! Those deep rights to speak and petition did cost soft money
And Kubla McKhain in his incumbency did disdain the right
That created a wild marketplace! Of ideas and criticisms funny
As e’er beneath a national media market that shined too bright
A light on his and others’ doings in the Halls of Congress!
Electioneering communications caused turmoil seething
And the mention of his name led to rage and heavy breathing,
A mighty fountain of these Communications must be damned
And comments on congressional doings must be condemned,
Sharp fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
In chatty ads beneath the attacker’s flail:
So mute these communications at once and ever
Stop those nonprofits quartered on the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through Unions and Corporations the sacred river ran,
Then reached the Trade Associations measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla McKhain heard from far
The Reformers’ voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the campaign reforms
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the critics’ storms
From Wertheimer in his raves.
It was a new Sedition Act to stem the tide,
A dark campaign-reform we were forced to abide!

A lawyer with a brief
At the Supreme Court I sought:
He was Bopp from Indiana,
And for WRTL he fought,
Arguing for the First Amendment.
Could he revive within our system
The symphony resplendent,
Of political speech, chaotic as it may be?
Would be a deep delight ‘twould win me,
That with Justices holding so loud and long,
We could rebuild our ancient rights, bar the FEC,
That great Constitution! The First Amendment!
And all who speak should know they are there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
That McCain-Feingold law, those holier-than-thou Reformers!
Weave a brief round them thrice,
Bind them tight with Justice Robert’s thread,
For they on Pew-money hath been fed,
And drunk the fantasy of Election-Paradise.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Poet Strikes Again

Bob Bauer has this, on the new WRTL rule. The last stanza memorializes the fact that electioneering, even where permitted, must be reported:

Warning: whether safely in or out of port,
You owe the government a report
On who it was who paid the freight
For a pre-election ad neither for, nor against a
candidate.

The meter is a little shaky, but that it was done at all is worthy of praise.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Modern Reform-General

From one of my more-gifted FOTS:

The Pirates of Campaign Reform (with due apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan)

I am the very model of a modern Reform-General,
I've campaign information that is topical and political,
I know the Senators of reform, and I quote the scandals historical,
From Watergate to Norman Hsu, in order categorical;

I think I'm well acquainted, too, with matters constitutional,
But misunderstand the Bill of Rights, the simple and amendable,
About the First Amendment I'm teeming with some narrow views,
With many cheerful facts about its unimportance in the news.

I'm very good at spinning and convincing the main Media,
I know the names of reporters many think are Foolish Id-ia:
In short, in campaign matters that are topical and political,
I am the very model of a modern Reform-General.

I know our mythic history, King Feingold’s and Sir Wertheimer’s;
I can answer softball questions, I know reporters’ deadline-rs,
I can quote ad nauseum the crimes of all the candidates,
On NPR I criticize their quests for money in the states;

I can tell undoubted Crooks from the other candidate spenders,
I know the croaking chorus from the Campaign Legal Center!
I can hum a violation when I've heard a complaint before,
And whistle up an editorial from the New York Times Pinafore.

I can write a campaign reform bill in legislative doublespeak,
Yet tell Democracy 21’s contributors the situation still looks bleak:
Please send us some more money so that I can raise my salary,
And send myself and Linda to the beach in style that none will see.

In short, in campaign matters that are topical and political,
I am the very model of a modern Reform-General.

In fact, when I know what is meant by "FECA" and "BCRA",
When I can tell at sight a campaign scandal from some OKRA,
When such affairs as fund-raisers and other things are prohibited,
And when I know precisely what is meant by party “coordinated,”

When I have been successful in completely criminalizing politics,
When I have shorn elections from the money-sucking poli-ticks
In short, when I've smashed all First Amendment rights—
You'll say a better Reform-General has never seen the lights!

For my political knowledge, because I'm close-minded and a snot,
I only see the polemical and not the freedom for which we fought,
But still, in campaign matters that are topical and political,
I am the very model of a modern Reform-General.