Jun
05
2015
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The obligatory ‘Reminder that I am an Amazon affiliate’ post.

You may have noticed the new language on the sidebar. It seems that (H/T: Hot Air) the Federal Trade Commission has updated its disclosure suggestions; and since I am an active Amazon affiliate in Maryland I thought it best to put up a permanent notice.  Alas, I am not in a position where I have to disclose my links to the gaming, video game, or speculative fiction publishing industry, mostly because I don’t have any. Or, at least, any that involve them sending me free stuff.

But the day is young! …Well, OK, it’s almost evening.  But you know what I mean.

 

 

Jul
04
2014
4

Congress gets rush of oxygen to brain, will resume travel disclosure.

Smart of them.

House Ethics Committee Chairman Mike Conaway said Thursday that his panel would undo its controversial decision to delete the requirement that lawmakers list free trips they receive on their annual disclosure reports.

“We will reverse that decision,” Conaway said during an appearance on a local radio talk show in his Texas district. “Heard first in Brownwood, Texas,” the Republican told listeners, one of whom provided a recording to National Journal.

National Journal first reported earlier this week that the Ethics Committee had quietly deleted the disclosure requirement behind closed doors and without any public announcement.

I understand that this was a bipartisan bit of idiocy – Ranking Member Linda Sanchez signed off on i… (more…)

Apr
21
2014
12

Why I no longer support full disclosure of political donations.

It’s because of things like this:

On the Friday, April 18, All In show, during a discussion of the firing of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich for simply donating to a political campaign opposing same-sex marriage, guest Richard Kim of the far left The Nation magazine intoned that he found it “disturbing” that gay activist friends of his have expressed interest in “targeting” more people who have made similar donations, and who have declared they should “find out where they live.”

Speaking as a same-sex marriage supporter: I find it ‘disturbing,’ too.  Except that in my case when I say ‘disturbing’ I mean ‘deadly dangerous to the Republic.’ It was bad enough when Proposition 8 opponents (I make no secret that I would have voted against it), having lost a legal referendum, decided to ignore the state legislative process and successfully managed to get a state constitutional amendment declared unconstitutional. But this is even worse. This is the road that you go down when you eventually hope to set up proscription lists*. (more…)

Jan
10
2014
8

Mildly dissenting on Mark Levin, SCF, and disclosures.

Over the last day or so there has been a fair amount of debate about whether or not Mark Levin should have disclosed a fairly consistently large purchase history by the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) of his book before he endorsed the organization.  The ire is mostly directed at National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Brad Dayspring, Communications Director, for tweeting this Thursday:

 

No doubt if Mark Levin responds to this post, he will point out that I’m unforgivably not appropriately famous, but: I feel that I must not only concur with Brad Dayspring that some disclosure may have been appropriate (although ‘fishy’ was probably, ah, too confrontational), but I must also disagree with Erick that there is a reductio ad absurdum argument requiring the NRSC to acknowledge their connection to k*i*d*d*i*e p*o*r*n (I ain’t about to link the two in Google searches).

Let’s start with the facts.  I’m presenting these facts with no opinions on meanings, or assumptions.  These are simply the undisputed facts as I have found them.

  • SCF has spent $427,006 on purchases of books by Mark Levin since September 10, 2013.
  • Mark Levin has promoted the SCF both on his show and on Twitter/Facebook multiple times during that same period.

So, taken together: what do these two facts mean?  Given Levin’s character/beliefs/ideologies, and given SCF’s penchant for wanting to provide conservative materials and books at events or as gifts… very likely, nothing at all.  Like-minded individuals and groups tend to like, buy, and talk about the same things.  However, disclosures are not intended to explain why an inappropriate relationship is just Jim-dandy.  Disclosures are intended to avoid even the appearance of impropriety by making sure that everyone knows existing relationships.  In fact, disclosures exist precisely to prevent anyone from believing the relationship is inappropriate.  It is not even mildly offensive to expect someone to do this: it is simply a good and ethical practice.

However, it is also an annoying practice, which is why people find it at best a chore, and worst a minefield.

Consider this scenario: you are, say, a video producer and you have clients.  You’re also a writer.  That means that you’re often in the position of having the opportunity to write about a video you’ve made for a client.  The temptation is to give a glowing report on the video you’ve made (as you’re often in complete agreement with whatever the video says) without mentioning that you were paid to make it.  The problem is – like it or not, – this automatically causes some people to doubt the veracity of your endorsement.  It’s not always fair, but it is understandable.  At this point, you have a somewhat annoying choice: get someone else not financially tied to it to write their thoughts, or else write it yourself and provide a disclosure.

And if you do the former, you will still get the inevitable comments from people to the effect of “Oh? You like the video you were PAID TO MAKE? SELLOUT SCUMBAG!!!!!”

We live in a world where the SCF and Mark Levin largely agree with each other on political issues.  We also live in a world where Politico’s Chief White House Correspondent quietly embeds advertisements in what appears to be news.  In both cases, when money changes hands, it’s just better to go ahead and let everyone know, Hey, I love X, Y, and Z: and I would even if we didn’t have a relationship that involved money.  People don’t like to feel tricked.  They like to know when they are being targeted by an ad.  If they aren’t – but you could still see how someone else might think otherwise – well, it’s best to let everyone know that’s not what is happening.  It’s not that hard, and it’s not asking that much.

On Erick’s take that Dayspring’s opinion warrants airing of any and all relationships of his own, I think that said take fails the fallacy test.  I don’t think anyone was suggesting that Levin disclose all relationships he has with anyone for any reason, prior to mentioning them.  This was about a specific disclosure of financial relationship.   So I guess all this is to say that I don’t really have a problem with Brad Dayspring’s take on Levin’s non-disclosure**.

I suppose my advice to both parties would be this: to Mr. Levin, I would (humbly, and non-famously suggest) that a quick acknowledgement that the SCF is a great customer (in addition to being a great ally) is not the worst thing in the world.  To Mr. Dayspring, I’d suggest that he may want to consider modifying histTwitter opinions to sound less confrontational and more conversational.  Maybe saying “should’ve disclosed,” as opposed to “fishy” (which carries an tone of indictment)?

Now, if everyone could get back to hating each other for completely different reasons, that would be great.  Or, here’s a radical thought: go smack around the Democrats.  They’re always worth smacking around.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*I promise you, Mark Levin’s publisher would have made him aware of an Amazon purchase of several hundred thousand dollars.

**Full disclosure: RedState has had a bit of a problem with Brad’s takes on a bunch of other stuff.

Dec
19
2011
3

#rsrh Nancy Pelosi’s (Nancy WHO?) problems with disclosure.

So.  Roll Call notes this:

In May 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi took to a podium in the Capitol to introduce a half-dozen economic experts she had convened for a meeting on how to jump-start the economy. The group had met for several hours with top Democratic leaders, and Pelosi invited them to speak publicly on their perspectives on economic growth.

What Pelosi did not mention is that one of the men in the group was her son’s boss and a partner with her husband in more than a half-dozen investments, including one that generated more than $100,000 in income for the Speaker’s family last year.

The problem here is not that what Pelosi did here was illegal.  The Roll Call article is right: it’s actually not.

(more…)

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