Monthly Archives: January 2009

Fairness Doctrine, ownership caps update

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell warned against a return of the Fairness Doctrine and related media industry regulations that would limit free speech, in remarks to the Media Institute on Wednesday.

“Should it return again, as several current Members of Congress have called for, I doubt it would wear the same label. That’s just Marketing 101: if your brand is controversial, make a new brand. The Doctrine could be intertwined into other communications policy initiatives that are more certain to move through the system, such as localism, diversity or net neutrality,” said McDowell.

Here’s the latest:

Here’s a good background piece from George F. Will on the subject, from late last year.

As I’ve discussed and as indicated by McDowell, this effort to regulate speech and the media industry may come in a variety of names: Fairness Doctrine, ownership caps, localism, diversity and network neutrality, among others. So as a sidebar, for the benefit of future discussion I would like to develop a single term that refers to all such efforts. Perhaps “free media restrictions,” “media freedom restrictions,” “free speech regulations” or “Fairness Doctrine, etc,” or “free speech industry regulations.”

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Filed under Fairness Doctrine, Media, Statism

Kansas: “Woman’s Right to Know and See” introduced

Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe) has introduced pro-life legislation in the Kansas legislature, announcing the bill Monday at a capitol press conference in Topeka. The eight page piece of legislation, titled The Woman’s Right to Know and See, currently has 38 co-sponsors.

HB 2076 would:

  • Require that 24 hours prior to an abortion, pregnant mothers be provided a list of free sonogram locations along with information on free counseling assistance and perinatal hospice services.
  • Require that 30 minutes prior to an abortion, pregnant mothers must be offered a copy of the sonogram and a chance to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
  • Require abortion clincs to post signage inside the building ensuring that pregnant women understand their rights.
  • Require the state to produce a “standard information video,” and website including a series of ultrasound images of a developing baby.

Kinzer is an articulate pro-life voice and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and this bill figures to be the major pro-life vehicle this session. Even if it does pass both chambers, however, it awaits Governor Kathleen Sebelius‘s desk, who vetoed anti-abortion legislation last year. The thinking is surely to continue to fight the good fight and simply force the governor to veto, if that is what she chooses to do.

Given that this bill simply guarantees access to information and free services, however, this may be a tougher veto for Sebelius. If the bill were to become law it would be an incremental victory and advance for the pro-life movement. In that sense this approach is strategic and subtle. Yet, for legislation centered on access to information and full disclosure, it is fairly comprehensive, and in that sense, quite aggressive.

Stay tuned for updates…

Additional resources:

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Filed under Abortion, Kansas Politics

Follow up: Grisamore, Lampe introduce similar bills

Sherri Tucker of the Lee’s Summit Autism Support Group weighed in on yesterday’s post about Rep. Grisamore’s insurance mandate legislation. A few notes in response:

HB 79, introduced by Rep. Sara Lampe (D-Springfield), also addresses this issue. The bill summaries suggest that the two pieces of legislation are similar: both require insurance companies to cover costs of care related to autism spectrum disorders.

HB 79 was pre-filed on December 1 of 2008. I reserve the right to correct myself, but I believe that’s about as early as one could have pre-filed legislation for this legsilative session. As indicated by the bill number, Grisamore’s was filed later. However, Grisamor has a handful of bi-partisan co-sponsors and his bill appears to be the one gaining traction. Lampe has only one co-sponsor, Charlie Norr, a fellow Democrat. There are a couple possibilites here:

1. The bills are similar but for whatever reason, key committee members and lawmakers at large simply feel Grisamore’s is a better bill.

2. As a member of the majority party, Grisamore’s bill is more likely to attract majority support, and he is more likely to be handed a political victory by House leadership and the majority than Lampe, a Democrat.

I’d put my money on option number 2, but it could be a little bit of both: Grisamore’s could be more finely tuned. I also haven’t read both full bill texts yet so I don’t know what the specific differences are.

On the isue of DESE and school districts providing quality support to children with autism, I certainly understand the frustration.From people close to me I’ve heard a lot of stories about the frustrations these families face in trying to get the best care for their child.

I don’t know what legislative efforts are in play this session, but I would direct you to Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst‘s (R-Manchester) legislation last year that offered special needs scholarships for these kids to receive services from a provider the parents felt best served the child’s needs. The bill was dubbed Bryce’s Law, after Dwight’s grandson, who had autism and died from health related complications. Dwight’s grandson meant the world to him. I saw his eyes would light up whenever he would talk about Bryce and the time they would spend together every week.

It is a tragedy that this bill was defeated by public school groups working to protect the status quo, and fearful of any possible reform that might put the needs of students ahead of their own. I’m having problems with the House website at the moment – it looks to have been revamped, maybe they’re still working some of the kinks out – but it will be interesting to see if Dwight re-files that bill this year. If so, maybe Dwight will guest post on Principally Political to talk about the legislation.

Thanks for joining the conversation, Sherri, and I hope this helps answer a few of your quetions.

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Filed under Education, Health Care, Missouri Politics, Principally Political

Grisamore makes emotional case for insurance regulation

Rep. Jeff Grisamore (R-Lee’s Summit) has once again introduced a bill in the Missouri House of Representative imposing new regulations on the insurance industry. His legislation would require health insurers to cover costs of care related to autism spectrum disorders.  Last year his bill passed committee but failed to make it out of the House.

For Grisamore, the issue is personal: he had a child with special needs who died of health-related complications. But it’s also political: Grisamore is socially conservative but also something of a social welfare activist. He told me in 2006 that the previous year’s Medicaid reform was morally wrong, from a Christian standpoint. On his personal website and in last year’s campaign literature, he boasts endorsements from all the major defenders of the today’s public school system status quo.

Grisamore passionately stated his case to the Lee’s Summit Journal:

The fact that autism spectrum disorders are not already covered by insurance companies is grossly discriminatory and is an emerging civil rights issue of our day (emphasis added).

Having served and continuing to help many children with autism and their families has given me a deep passion to make sure we secure every possible source of funding and services we can for them (emphasis added).

Rep. Grisamore’s attempt to impose another mandate on health benefits plans threatens to further regulate an exceedingly regulated industry while raising the cost of an increasingly hard-to-afford product. That’s to say nothing of the moral problem accompanying any government intrusion into mutual, voluntary exchanges of goods and services between two free parties (in this case the policy seller and purchaser).

I want to ascribe the best intentions to Grisamore on this sensitive subject.  However, I simply can’t agree with his proposal at this time. This could be a tough political issue for free market conservatives to handle, but I think we can do that by expressing sincere sympathy and offering personal support for individuals and families affected by autism, explaining the practical cost of more regulation of the insurance industry and continuing to defend liberty and the capitalist system.

Post Script: I am willing to consider any new information, evidence or argument in favor of this proposed legislation. If emerging science reveals, for instance, that autism is in fact a type of condition already covered by a health benefits plan, then I would consider supporting legislation that ensured that insurance companies abide by the product policy and cover the costs of care.

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Filed under Health Care, Missouri Politics

Fairness Doctrine

The advent of complete Democrat control in Washington, D.C. portends a possible return of the Fairness Doctrine, and in the coming weeks I will devote a series of posts on the potential re-imposition of this nasty bit of statism. My interest is to learn more about the issue, inform my readership of the same and prepare to write a feature commentary about efforts to revive this and other restrictions on media.

The Fairness Doctrine was a Federal Communications Commission regulation on licensed broadcasters requiring that an equal voice be given to both sides of any controversial issue. In place from 1949 to 1987, the rule stifled programming while pushing the limits of constitutionality. Leading Democrats on Capitol Hill have signaled that they favor a return of the regulation, while Republicans are generally opposed. Beyond philosophical reasons for support or opposition (belief in governmental control vs. belief in freedom from such) are purely political ones: the Fairness Doctrine would likely destroy talk radio, a lively, popularly-aimed conduit of conservative thought.

While still a senator, Barrack Obama‘s press secretary wrote that Mr. Obama did not support re-imposing the Fairness Doctrine but did support caps on media-ownership, among other things. Ownership restrictions could similarly suppress the dynamic forum that is talk radio, and this may be the strategy Democrats pursue to do so. In a public debate, Democrats would probably have a much easier time defending innocuous “media ownership rules” than a regulation like the Fairness Doctrine which could easily be as censorship and a violation of free speech rights.

As I track developments and continue to comment in the days ahead, please share your opinion and any suggested sources on this issues. Thanks!

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Filed under Fairness Doctrine, Obama, Statism

McCaskill fails to offer solutions on Gitmo

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) supports President Obama‘s decision to close Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, but appears to have no alternative idea as to what to do with the enemy combatants currently held at the facility.

Located in Guantanamo  Bay, Cuba at the oldest overseas U.S. Naval Base, the facility currently holds around  250 terrorist detainees, according to Joint Task Force Guantanamo. More than half of the over 700 detainees ever in custody at Guantanamo have been released, and the Pentagon reports that at least 61 of those have resumed their terrorist activities against the United States.

Two days after taking office, President Obama announced that the detention facility would close within one year. During the campaign he said America’s moral standing in the world had been damaged by its treatment of detainees. McCaskill echoed those concerns this week, as reported by Missourinet.

However, in 2007 she agreed with 93 of her colleagues in expressing the Sense of the Senate that detainees held at Guantanamo should not be transferred to American soil. The state’s senior Senator, Kit Bond (R),  opposes Obama’s decision to close the facility, questioning what would become of the detainees.

Sen. McCaskill joins Mr. Obama and the European left in criticizing our holding of terrorists at Gitmo, yet offers no solutions. If she has, she should speak up: I searched her Senate website and found no mention of the issue, let alone any proposal on the matter. Obama has said that to hold enemy combatants at Gitmo is the easy thing, and that closing it down and finding different options is in fact the right thing, but the hard thing to do.

His words could have applied to Sen. McCaskill, who in criticizing Gitmo has done the easy thing, but has failed to do the hard work of identifying solutions.

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Filed under Militant Islam, Missouri Politics, National Security, Obama

How will the the Obama movement’s image change?

Recently a young president came into office and immediately launched a charm offensive. He spoke of bi-partisanship and promised to “change the tone” in Washington. That president, of course, was George W. Bush, who left office last week the object of widespread unpopularity and intense media ridicule.

President Barack Obama has soared to high office on the wings of hope and change. He promises to transform our small politics into something bigger. His supporters believe that together we can make America and the world a better place. Yes We Can.

So, how do you start doing that? Naturally, by accosting the outgoing president in the rudest of ways, in the most inappropriate setting. Sherman Frederick of the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes about Obama supporters booing President Bush at last week’s inauguration.

This bit of news might seem a bit old hat by now,  but I think it is an interesting occurrence to examine through this lens: how will the image of Obama and the movement he inspired change during the course of his presidency?

Obama supporters pride themselves on bringing change to Washington, on moving beyond old political divisions and promoting a spirit of cooperation and bi-partisanship, yet in their first appearance in Washington, their actions are nothing less than acrimonious.

As far as Obama’s personal image, well, that is also sure to evolve. Will his cool personal vibe be revealed as less than the total picture, something short of a wholly precise depiction of the man?

On Thursday, Obama visited the press corps and became irritated when a journalist asked him a question, as reported by The Politico. The episode was reminiscent of Obama’s seeming frustration during the campaign when he was asked by reporters during press conferences about topics he did not want to speak about. It will be interesting to see how such incidents, should they continue, affect Obama’s public image moving ahead in his presidency.

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Filed under George W. Bush, Obama, Obamamania