The Eugene McCarthy Gene: Scientists Say DRD4 Drives Ideology

The nature or nurture debate may be over for liberals: scientists have isolated what they believe to be the “liberal gene.” Yes, that’s right. Researchers believe that DRD4 affects people’s ideology. It is ironic that Republicans who oppose evolution may have an evolutionary reason for their position. Of course, this is assuming that people are evolving toward the liberal gene like the fully opposable thumb.

You now know why you feel that need to pledge to NPR, attend Earth Day events, and watch Countdown and Rachel Maddow. It is not your fault. It is in your genes.

The scientists isolated DRD4 on the double-helix of a DNA strand to reach their conclusions. It was not hard to find it was the gene: it was wearing Birkenstocks, a hemp-made shirt, and trying to “really understand” what the other genes were experiencing.

What is clear from President Obama’s positions on torture, privacy, and gay rights is that it is also clearly a recessive gene for some.

Lead researcher James H. Fowler, a professor of both medical genetics and political science at the University of California, San Diego says “[t]he way openness is measured, it’s really about receptivity to different lifestyles, for example, or different norms or customs. . . . We hypothesize that individuals with a genetic predisposition toward seeking out new experiences [a measure of openness] will tend to be more liberal.”

While some may challenge that as a bit of a stretch, my concern is ideologically designed babies. Of course, since opposition to stem cell research and biogenetics is part of the belief structure for some conservatives, they are the least likely to ask for DRD4 to be removed from embryos. However, what of those pesky biogenetic loving libs? Could Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi be working at this very time on an army of test-tube liberal babies? Learn the answer on the next Glenn Beck Show.

Source: NBC

Jonathan Turley

111 thoughts on “The Eugene McCarthy Gene: Scientists Say DRD4 Drives Ideology

  1. Well if it is a real gene (and it seems about half of discovered genes turn out to be not so clear cut) it may not be structural, it may just help produce a product (like a hormone) on an ongoing basis that makes people more liberal; like oxytocin makes people more trusting.

    It would be interesting to see what percentage of people have it. The fact that they think not everybody has it (or it wouldn’t distinguish one group from another) implies some sort of survival advantage for each mode; liberal vs. non-liberal. Kind of like left-handed vs. right-handed.

  2. Given that my older brother apparently lacks DRD4, perhaps through us Beck and O’Donnell can see neandertals evolving into humans before their very eyes.

  3. As long as DRD4 doesn’t open my mind too much … I don’t want to like Glen Beck or all of a sudden be able to understand how Sarah Palin thinks or turn orange like John Boehner … I’ll take some.

  4. Blousie:

    the sun is shining, the wind is blowing, the leaves are turning and Antonin Dvorák’s Symphony #8 in G Major, Op. 88 is on the radio.

    3 out of 4 aint bad, I find myself not much into Dvorak at least this piece. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #5 was just on and I was jamming to that.

    I enjoy music but have no depth of knowledge in that subject.

  5. Blouise I was kidding about a month ago when you said I needed to move North and I said ours is coming to an end but yours is just starting. Sorry for your grey day. We look to end the season November 30 with one maybe two storms not including To-Mas,latest forecast moves it over Eastern Cuba Jamaica and Hispaniola. The poor people of Haiti after all that money was raised, now along with an outbreak of Cholera WILL have to deal with To-Mas.

    I often wonder as the natives become restless do the gods then become angry. Think Ghost Busters, the more negativity created the stronger the force becomes. It seems storms and natural disasters are happening more frequently. Think about what we’ve seen in the last several years and it continues today with the number of lives lost in yesterdays Tsunami.

    Here’s the latest look back as we ponder that question.

    Click anywhere to zoom :)

  6. Byron and Bda,

    Today is a Sibelius day for me … Finlandia fits my mood (google it and take a listen, you’ll see what I mean)

    “I often wonder as the natives become restless do the gods then become angry.”(Bda) … I am either putting much negativity into the ethereal world or I am drawing negativity from the ethereal world … angry gods are a definite possibility!

    (The link was beautiful and stark all at the same time and a little scary)

  7. From the article:

    However, the, subjects were only more likely to have leanings to the left if they were also socially active during adolescence.

    It is the crucial interaction of two factors — the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence — that is associated with being more liberal,” according to the study.

    Does this mean that the gene led to having more friends?

    Does this mean that if you didn’t have many friends, but had the gene, it makes you more open to non-liberal idealogy (or none at all)?

    I would think the cliquish nature of adolescents would mitigate against many becoming liberal. Which would explain a great deal.

  8. Brandenburg #5, also known as the “If you hired me you’d have a harpsichordist who could play this” Concerto.

    Think of the Brandenburgs as a resume.

  9. Gyges
    1, October 29, 2010 at 11:39 am
    Brandenburg #5, also known as the “If you hired me you’d have a harpsichordist who could play this” Concerto.

    Think of the Brandenburgs as a resume.

    love it! lol

  10. Gyges?Blouise:

    since you guy/gal are the resident muscians what did you both just say?

    My education is severly lacking in the arts.

  11. Byron,

    Bach wrote\dedicated\performed the Brandenburgs in hopes of getting a job as a court composer in Brandenburg. The fifth concerto has a (as I understand it) difficult harpsichord solo in it that he wrote specifically to show off his abilities.

  12. “The dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) shows considerable homology to DRD2 … Polymorphisms at the DRD4 gene have been examined for association with a wide …”…

    more from the article:

    “Polymorphisms at the DRD4 gene have been examined for association with a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders and normal behavioral variation.”

    So does this mean if you have the DRD4 gene you are more susceptible to mental illness? Maybe Savage is right.

  13. D P D

    Maybe Savage is right.


    Did you get that from the comments on the linked site, they were rather comical, or is it an original thought? Be honest.

  14. Byron,

    As Gyges wrote: “Bach wrote\dedicated\performed the Brandenburgs in hopes of getting a job as a court composer in Brandenburg. The fifth concerto has a (as I understand it) difficult harpsichord solo in it that he wrote specifically to show off his abilities.”


    You see, Byron … Bach fathered a total of 20 children with his two wives … he had to promote himself …

  15. Buckeye:

    here is the site I was trying to link to:'LO000227L

    I was just asking a question. The Alfred site is at Yale University. It doesn’t say people with the DRD4 gene are psychotic just susceptible to disorders if they have variations in the gene. At least that is the way I am reading it. But it appears you need the gene to have the variations. So it is entirely possible that some liberals are bat shit crazy because of those “polymorphisms”. And therefore Savage would be right in some but not all cases when he asks if liberalism is a mental disorder.

    Since conservatives don’t appear to have the gene we cannot be bat shit crazy. Science answers another mystery.

  16. I think the “liberal gene” idea is probably based on a loosely supported finding that DRD4 may be associated with novelty seeking.

    James H. Fowler of UCSD just came out with an unfortunate soundbite (hint: when a scientist says “we hypothesize” he means “we make an interesting guess that, while it lacks support, may merit study.”)

    For people interested in how this kind of pop “science” makes its way into the media and gets broadcast all over the place, Ben Goldacre runs a blog called “Bad Science”, and also publishes columns in The Guardian.

    The original source of this thing going the rounds of the blogs appears to be a Fox News article that I hope was intentionally written for amusement rather than information.

  17. Gyges,

    Here’s the 1st famous Bach piece I had to perform at the age of 13 … honest to god, it can cause one’s left hand to permanently cramp into a claw

    For a faster tempo go to Youtube but search for Rostropovich doing the same piece.

  18. Bda,

    Then there is my personal, favorite, liberal opus that you poor conservatives would never be permitted to write let alone experience … DRD4 can be fun!

  19. Veteran science journalist John Horgan slices and dices this nonsense in Scientific American’s “Cross-check” blog, “Critical views of science in the news.”

    Take-away comment:

    “Over the past two decades, gene-whizzers have discovered “genes for” high IQ, male homosexuality, religious belief, gambling, attention-deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, dyslexia, alcoholism, heroin addiction, sadness, extroversion, introversion, anxiety, anorexia nervosa, seasonal affective disorder, violent aggression—you get the picture. So far, not one of these claims has been consistently confirmed by follow-up studies.” -John Horgan, Scientific American, October 29, 2010.

    Take-away message: don’t rely on newspapers, magazines, television or the blogosphere to do a decent job of reporting on science. Some specialist sources, if you seek them out, do better than average.

  20. Blouise:

    Bob Seger is great, right up there with Patsy Kline, Willie Nelson and Mozart.

    By the way is that you in your younger days?

  21. I think if I’d never left the small town I was raised in, I’d be as conservative as most of those who stayed. Now why I left, might be a symptom of that gene’s presence, but most of my outlook is from rubbing up against different societies.

  22. Buckeye,

    I still live in the same area of Massachusetts where I grew up–and I haven’t rubbed up against many different societies. I did travel to China in the mid-nineties with an educational delegation. That was definitely an informative experience. Most of my friends have remained liberal like me through the years–but a few have become right-wing conservatives.

    I think much of my outlook on life comes from my parents–one of whom was an immigrant. My parents lived through the Great Depression. They remembered how difficult times were back then. They remembered the days prior to Social Security. They remembered how unions fought to get them better working conditions, paid vacations and holidays, and higher wages. They had a great deal of respect for FDR and were lifelong Democrats. I took the stories they told me to heart. It disheartens me when I hear that some politicians and fellow citizens are working to abolish programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment Insurance.

  23. From what I’ve read mirror neurons in the brain simulate, as your own, actions you see others perform. That’s why watching someone do something is such an effective way to learn to do something. Similarly, a synchronicity of actions, if your a herd animal, works for survivals.

    So, I as a layperson intuitively think that if mirroring and synchronicity are pro survival factors, then for nature to kick it up a notch (by tying a direct, chemically-induced emotional link to such behaviors and instinctive responses: empathy) would seem to confers a greater survival advantage for creatures that live in social groups.

    Humans, apes and monkeys have mirror neurons. I’d be interesting in knowing if other creatures that live in groups and have complex social behaviors such as cetaceans and elephants do also.

    Empathy IMO is a more civilized and evolved trait than not-empathy for the group as a whole and all members should benefit to some degree by empathy being a generally distributed trait. Sociopathy would be the antithesis of empathy.

    Put another way: there are teabaggers and bleeding-heart liberals: which of these groups have evidenced more empathy and which group would you rather have in control of the future of Social Security?

    The second link is an article. The first link is primarily for the picture; it’s the “Awwwwww” of the day IMO:

    Reviews “Why Bogart’s Kiss Is Your Kiss…”

    “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Connect

    The most profound bonds between people begin in our bodies with imitation and synchronized movements.”

  24. Tony,

    Short answer: It’s Friday

    Long answer: Things sometimes get off topic here, there’s a post with something like 1500 comments, roughly 200 of which are on the original topic. Sometimes a topic that’s sort of worn itself out gets used for joking around. It usually happens on Fridays.

  25. lottakatz: A sociopath among empaths has a survival advantage, by being willing to take actions that would cause a normal person emotional pain, like stealing, cheating, or ruthlessly enforcing a contract that will leave somebody homeless and destitute just to make a few thousand dollars. Or deny somebody insurance needed to treat their cancer on a technicality of their insurance contract. Things like that.

    Since most of us are not sociopaths (it is actually a scale of degrees of behavior, but about 1% of Americans would be psychologically classified as sociopaths, or one million adults) we don’t do to the sociopaths what needs to be done: Physically punish them and make their actions illegal.

    By definition sociopaths do not feel shame, remorse, or empathy for others. The only restraint they feel is their own self-interest. They only care about laws that are enforced, so for example if a child is injured and likely to die and they are the only person that can help, unlike us they have to consciously decide to render help or not, and since they do not feel empathy for the child’s pain and won’t feel remorse over letting them die, the computation is entirely self-centered: If letting the child die helps the sociopath in some way (financially, legally, competitively) then no aid will be rendered, and letting the child die won’t haunt them, ever. They don’t have the neural equipment to care.

    In the movies sociopathy usually comes with some betraying personality quirk; like stupidity or compulsive violence or some lack of impulse control, in fact sociopaths fit in the same distribution of intelligence and self-control as the rest of us.

    Smart sociopaths are generally considered more gregarious and friendly than their peers. Partially because they lie without tells or quirks, they can fool a lie detector (human or machine), and also because they feel less fear and anxiety than normals, including social anxiety. Friends are (literally) useful, so they learn what people like to hear and exploit them. Unlike normal people, a sociopath has no compulsion to just be “themselves” or hang out with like-minded people. For a person solely focused on their own selfish interests either of these choices would be particularly counter-productive.

    There are evolutionary advantages to empathy and packs, but that “trust and caring for your fellow man” produces a counter-advantage to sociopathy within the pack; parasites that can *fake* trust and caring while sacrificing others for their own selfish gain.

  26. “They only care about laws that are enforced,”

    You need a little clarity here, Tony.

    True DSM on-point pathological sociopaths don’t care about laws or enforcement beyond its application to their direct person either, only their odds at getting caught.

    Sociopaths are evil because they can’t help it, but most evil actors are evil by choice – like politicians. Compulsion or choice are only going to be mitigation for sentencing at trial. Sociopathic behavior may have a survival advantage for individuals, but it’s detrimental to society by its very nature. That is the very essence of the white hat/black hat dilemma – the good of all v. the good of one. To imply otherwise portrays (and this is where you saved yourself Tony) is to miss the distinction between a symbiotic and a parasitic relationship. Sociopaths – whether driven by genes or by choice – are indeed simply parasites at best and at worst are cancers within the body politic. Their motives past a certain level of analysis are irrelevant, however, to the societal need to constrain their bad acts.

  27. Elaine M.

    Most of my friends have remained liberal like me through the years–but a few have become right-wing conservatives.
    Maybe they have the DRD4 – openess to different choices? I assume it would work both ways.

    I’m not sure, but I suspect your society in Mass. was somewhat different than mine in southern Ohio (one of the three counties in Ohio that are considered Appalachia).

    My parents also lived through the depression and voted straight Republican until I convinced them to not vote for Reagan (I’d been away for a while by then).

    I’ve always found that curious since my dad was a union man, though I’m not sure if that was because he wanted to or had to if he wanted to work in his trade.

    I will say that living in California for 6 years (during the hippie phase) was a real eye-opener for a country bumpkin. :-)

    I doubt if the Reps. will eliminate SS, but they may want to modify it all out of recognition. They will modify the health bill, also, and say it takes care of Medicare. And why would we need Unemployment Insurance when there are so many jobs available, or will be when all those illegal immigrants leave.

    Change you can worry about!

  28. Elaine I think the catholics stuck with the democrats until Reagan. Obama got the catholic vote back. McCarthy was part of the liberal catholic community in Minnesota. He attended St. John’s. The social justice aspect of the catholic faith was much more emphasized when I grew up than it is today.

  29. Buckeye,

    “I’m not sure, but I suspect your society in Mass. was somewhat different than mine in southern Ohio (one of the three counties in Ohio that are considered Appalachia).”

    I agree with that. I guess we might consider that growing up in a certain kind of society or being exposed to many different societies might have a similar “liberal” effect on an individual.

  30. Blouise:

    “Can’t play a cello in that get up …”

    If more women would play the cello dressed like that, classical music would become mainstream. Bubba and Billy Bob would be all over Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 like white on rice or ticks on a hound dog.

  31. @Buddha:

    I think I agree with all that.

    >> Sociopaths are evil because they can’t help it,

    I think because they only calculate the odds of getting caught. Speaking from memory, I believe the distinction between sociopathy and psychopathy is sociopaths have impulse control and do not engage in evil behavior for its own sake, just as a means to an end. While psychopaths require extremes to be stimulated and are the ones more likely to compulsively enjoy the infliction of pain and terror or death.

    >> Compulsion or choice are only going to be mitigation for sentencing at trial.

    Right, I was just saying sociopaths, per se, are like the rest of us when it comes to compulsions; a lack of caring does not make them want to hurt people or do evil. I do not think they are especially driven to commit evil deeds, they just commit more of them because it is the convenient or only route to something they want.

    >> Sociopaths – whether driven by genes or by choice – are indeed simply parasites at best and at worst are cancers within the body politic.

    They are parasites, but parasites reproduce! A sociopathic caveman might purposely exploit the trust of his peer to trick the peer into a fatal trap, for the purpose of stealing his supplies and his women. Then the sociopath reproduces and the trusting dead guy does not. A sociopathic woman might arrange for a rival’s death or murder in the same way, and obtain a reproductive advantage.

  32. Maybe liberals look different. A woman that I have never met before told me I looked liked a liberal democrat. She was one too.

  33. It is inaccurate to say that all Republicans oppose evolution. Most Republicans I know oppose evolution because they oppose bad science. There are even some Republicans who believe in evolution.

  34. Tootie

    There used to be some Republicans that believed in evolution. Just as there used to be some liberals that didn’t. They’ve all gone into hiding until things settle down.

  35. Anybody that opposed evolution because they oppose “bad science” does not understand either science or evolution.

    Nobody can claim Darwin’s evolutionary thesis, the ENTIRE THING, is bad science without indicting virtually all of science ever done. Darwin’s work is quintessential science. People that oppose evolution do not believe in ANY science, period. They reason backward from a fantasy they wish were true, to a thoroughly ludicrous set of premises, and because they would cry if they had to give up their dear fantasy, they insist these ridiculous premises are “true.”

  36. Tony,

    Keeping sociopaths from breeding is a solution that won’t fix the problem. Thoughts are not crimes, but actions can be and not all actions are created equal. Even if you prevented sociopaths from breeding, you’d still have random mutation to deal with. The parasite within the somes of clementia (body of humanity) cannot be eliminated completely without enacting something analogous to Heydrich’s Final Solution.

    To cure the organism (the body politic) by “killing” the parasite (sociopaths) before they can act would be a deathblow to an already weakened and mauled Constitution. It would be eugenics run amok again.

    Focusing on eliminating sociopaths from society is a waste of time.

    Keeping their amoral input from damaging the social fabric by creating legal systems and safeguards to limit or prevent bad actors within our political and legal systems isn’t.

    Our system is breaking because it wasn’t designed to deal with bad actors.

    Our system is breaking down because sociopaths in office and the plain old greedy myopic evil by choice people have beenallowed to not only break same said system, but protected and encouraged by other sociopaths and narcissists within the system who won’t do their job and punish the criminals within the system for fear of damaging their own personal position (another reflection of the “screw everyone else, I got mine” mindset). Example: Obama not only refusing to prosecute Bush and Cheney for their blatant crimes, but then further exacerbating the problem by claiming he as President has the right to execute citizens without due process. One lying sack of crap not doing his sworn job to protect the Constitution and the others simply wiping their asses with Constitution with Imperial Impunity.

    The bottom line is you cannot eliminate the problem by attempting to change human nature without becoming monsters in the process, but you can mitigate damages and possibly recoup by creating legal control systems that are both self-correcting and incapable of political manipulation.

    Sociopaths are like herpes or malaria: you can treat them (and the social controls under which they operate) to limit damage and/or spread but you’ll never be rid of the infection unless/until evolutionary processes themselves operate to remove sociopathy from the range of human behavior.

    The problem is the graft culture of campaign finance and spreading corporatist influence concerned only with personal profits social justice be damned have created a viral creche for sociopaths and narcissists willing to do their profits uber alles agenda for cash that enables their own criminal deficiencies as human beings and failures to act to their Constitutional mandate over their personal agenda(s). This is another reflection of the wrongheadedness inherent in expanding corporate personality: they are not real people but rather a legal fiction all to capable of being exploited by sociopaths because corporations have no internal controls beyond what 1) the controllers want or 2) the government imposes when forced by We the People.

    You don’t fix that problem by eliminating sociopaths.

    You fix that problem by eliminating the ability of those who enable them for their own narrow and usually greedy self-interests.

    The way you eliminate that publicly funded elections with no organizational contributions (from either corporations or PAC’s) and limiting lobbyists to presenting issue papers for proposals to Congress, not letting them write the laws that will govern their industry.

    We won’t be able to mitigate the damage by sociopaths to our systems until we cut off their parasitic food: money.

  37. Correction:

    “Our system is breaking because it wasn’t designed to deal with bad actors.”


    “Our system isn’t breaking because it wasn’t designed to deal with bad actors.”

    Coffee mishap. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  38. @Buddha: Wow, something was definitely lost in translation!

    I have no desire for eugenics or preventing sociopaths from breeding. I am talking specifically about an evolutionary breeding advantage that sociopaths have; I am describing the function of a system without making any proposal whatsoever about what to do about it.

    I am doing that because I think a lot of people make the mistake of believing that other people think just like they do. As an attorney I think you are trained in the opposite (more realistic) approach; but many people do. So I am just trying to give laymen an inkling of how sociopaths *think*, so they have a model to reference when they *do* think about corrective measures. They need to understand that sociopathic amorality and an absence of empathy pays, and pays very well.

    That said, the rest of your post is correct. Law is the way to deal with it; what people think is their own business, it is what they DO to others that may become society’s business.

    As far as politics (and business) is concerned, I think transparency and uniformly enforced regulation are the vaccines against the parasites. They infest our government and corporations because nothing stops them, and I think we need a system such that we do not HAVE to just trust them to do their job.

    Although I can analyze complex interacting systems, you (Buddha) are far better trained for this purpose than I: It is the field of contract law, and the goal is enforceable negative consequences for failing to meet promises (in politics) or duties (in business), along with the prevention of exploitation by people given the power to decide.

    I have signed many a contract that gave me no choice but to actually keep my promises and actually work for my money. I don’t think that is impossible. I am sure it IS impossible to keep sociopathy out *completely*, but I don’t think it is impossible to increase the risks for sociopaths, force them to change their risk/reward calculations, and thereby mediate the negative effects of having them in society.

    But again, I will work my best against any law or system that restrains people for what they *might* do; which is why I also rail against the Bush/Obama systems of “preventive detention.”

  39. @Buddha: I don’t think publicly funded elections will accomplish the goal, because I believe in free speech and think it would be unconstitutional to limit an individual person’s free speech, and unconstitutional to prohibit citizens from getting together and advocating (with money) for a candidate independently. I think Move On both is and *should be* constitutionally protected free speech.

    There are just too many ways to circumvent the system, and without changing our fundamental rights of self-expression and self-funded expression (which I do not want to do) I see no way of getting around it.

    How would we deal with the self-funded billionaires like Romney and Bloomberg and others? Restrict their rights to promote themselves with their own money?

    How would we stop what is currently legal commerce, like selling a rubber chicken dinner for $10,000 a plate? How would we stop the Koch brothers from hiring their own crew and producing and airing their own commercial for their desired candidate?

    Money is like water, it follows the easiest route. Put a halt to campaign contributions from corporations and their money will move to the next weak spot and leak through there. Like direct advocacy.

    I am in the camp that (despite Citizen’s United) corporations are not people and should NOT have the right of free political speech; I think it should be a crime for any corporation to make any attempt to influence politics in any way.

    If *people* want to pool their money for leverage and do that kind of thing they should be able to do that, I just think they should not be allowed to form a corporation for that purpose. A partnership, or co-op, or club, or something else, but not an immortal corporation with limited liability.

  40. Tony,

    See, we are never going to agree on this in this because the root evil that led to Citizen’s United rests squarely in another SCOTUS decision that is unconstitutional gargage, namely Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (the case that says money is protected free speech). It’s a case full of tortured reasoning to justify political greed in the guise of protecting a right and it’s manifest nonsense and has been since the day it was decreed. Citizen’s may be the taproot of corporatist graft, but its seed is found in Buckley‘s attack on the integrity of not just free speech but equal protection as well.

    Free speech is free speech – free and equal to all – and it is precisely by adding money into the equation that you lessen the equality of the right proper. As too the distinction between pure political organizations and corporations, I’ll stipulate that in theory you are correct about groups of individuals acting solely for political reasons as being fundamentally different and closer to operating in accord with the intent of the Drafters, but in today’s reality it’s a distinction without difference due to the negative impacts easing money restrictions in general has created. Graft is the problem, but you cannot remove the mechanism for the legal fiction without removing it from the system in toto. That would be known as a “half-assed job”. 503(c)’s are now more often than not simple puppets of either corporations or super wealthy individuals operating from corporatist or personal profit motives. You have to remove private funding period to fix the systemic problem with elections. “Private funding” is a euphemism for “pay to play”. If you donate enough graft they’ll even let YOU write the law! Woo hoo!

    Horseshit. The money is the problem. It is the fulcrum of corruption. To break that leverage, you must remove the fulcrum. Do this and re-equalize the right of free speech and you have something that is even more in line with the ideal of a government for the people by the people.

    The right to petition should be a standardized form that persons, groups and even corporations can fill out addressing their issue and requested legislative solutions that those in Congress have a deadline for publicly answering or rejecting with cause. Advertising, issue statements and debate time can indeed be mandated to broadcasters for the privilege of being allowed to do business here and if those couple of hundred program hours every two years is too much for them, they can feel free to peddle their wares elsewhere. No money should have to change hands ever to be elected to office. You should just be able to get enough signatures to be on the ballot, meet any other formal filing requirements and win the vote on the merits of your positions.

  41. SB garbage

    I’m not sure what a gargage is although I suspect it has something to with ladies underwear from the 1800’s.

  42. @Buddha: Laws are about issues, and communications are about issues. If people are not allowed to spend their money talking about the various social issues (homosexuality, drug use, alcoholism and drunk driving, etc) then the people that control our mass communications will set the agenda instead.

    I don’t want Fox News being the only voice out there talking about their invented “homosexual agenda,” or the “socialist liberal agenda.” Sitcoms, comedians, talk show hosts on TV and radio, reporters and news programs and magazines all talk all day about the social hot buttons, and it costs money to air them or print them or host them on a website, and it is people that decide whether that money will be spent and on whom.

    I don’t want the guise of “entertainment” (used by Beck, Limbaugh, etc) to be the only way we are allowed to engage in political speech that can reach the entire country.

    I don’t have the law school background to interpret the constitution like an attorney, but I have read a fair amount of Jefferson’s writing and I doubt Jefferson would have objected to a man spending his own fortune to print pamphlets by the thousands and pay men to hand them out all over the country. I imagine he would consider that a man’s right to do with his own money as he saw fit.

    They may not have anticipated the extent to which wealth would be expended in the pursuit of influence; but I doubt they would restrict that in any way.

    As you correctly point out, the probem is graft and corruption. Were they here now, that is the problem to which they would address themselves, but I doubt their solution would include restrictions on speech, or money spent on speech.

    With exceptions for slander, incitement and lies, I believe what the founding fathers would see as political speech (like ad campaigns) is harmless. It is opinion. It is the exchange of information and ideas. Sometimes profoundly stupid ideas, but ideas nonetheless, and other minds can accept or reject those profoundly stupid ideas. Those ideas are not responsible for graft and corruption, and stopping them will not stop the graft and corruption.

    What WILL stop the graft and corruption is better laws that prevent politicians from benefitting from it financially, both while in office and after they leave office. I don’t see campaign finance reform as capable of doing that.

  43. Buddha

    You may have been correct the first time.

    From the Urban Dicionary:


    1. A typo. 2. The amount something is gargled. (also garglage)
    Oops. I tried to type garbage, but I instead typed gargage.

    Not garbage or gargage but an excellent exposition, by the way.

  44. Tony C.

    You make good points, but it is the money in campaigns that allows the most graft-prone candidates to be elected. The more they accept in advertising, the more they owe to their puppet masters. It seems to me to be a vicious cycle.

  45. Tony,

    “What WILL stop the graft and corruption is better laws that prevent politicians from benefitting from it financially, both while in office and after they leave office. I don’t see campaign finance reform as capable of doing that.”

    CFR by itself is simply one step, but a crucial one. If you don’t see taking the primary method of political financial lubrication off the table as impacting corruption, then seriously man, you’re either a troll or blind.

    You say money is the problem yet want to hold on to this love for using it as a political tool by allowing it to remain in play by individuals based on an distinction without difference as pointed out above. Jefferson might have agreed with you in principle but then again he hadn’t lived here for the last 20 years to see exactly what kind of damage unrestricted money can do to the system. Had he, given the rest of his works, I think he’d have been appalled by the post-Buckley damage done to both free speech and equal protection as to take the exact opposite position you advocate. He’d be for publicly funded elections because without the money blurring issues you can best see all the available ideas on the table to assist you in choosing the best one because if anything, Jefferson was all about “the better idea”. If money causes corruption, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    As to worrying about “FOX being the only voice”? If that’s your concern, you should be more focused on Net Neutrality, because without it? There will be no voice at all for anyone but the corporate and the super rich. Our rights are under attack from multiple vectors and any solution will be a multiplexed solution, but CFR must be the spine of that solution. Money is the mechanism of corruption. What I have said in no way weakens free speech, but addresses a core systemic mechanism that can be altered to both protect the rights of citizens and curb corruption at the same time. You don’t eliminate corruption by half measures anymore than a doctor would only try to cure an illness in half of your body and not expect it to flourish again. You can do it incrementally, sure, but the goal is a complete cure. That can’t be done without addressing CFR.

  46. @Buckeye: I’d like you to critically examine your own statement for its implications.

    pecifically, if a politician is “graft rone,” why are they in office? I assume to take graft, or bribes, or for self-enrichment in one form or another. To me that would mean the ads they run in campaigns are just to get into office so they can take graft. Why would they care who pays for their ads? All they care about is getting power so they can take bribes; and the bribes always start after they get into office. The ad payments are just an appetizer before the real personal enrichment starts.

    Sociopathic politicians do not feel they “owe” anybody anything ever. They can screw an elderly couple out of their life savings and leave them homeless without remorse. These are the people that will stop unemployment benefits and destroy lives for their own political interest. That want to make it easier for banks to illegaly foreclose on people’s homes, and insurance companies to deny coverage that can save lives.

    They don’t OWE anybody anything, everything is a transaction, PERIOD. The rich donors understand it the same way: Their donations are an investment, a gamble that pays off by getting a graft-prone politician into office. THAT is their payoff. Once the corrupt politician is in office, then they can buy that vote, and get that politicans to introduce legislation that favors them, and so on, just by paying him.

    Politicians are speaking the truth when they say they do not feel beholden to their donors. They don’t. From the politician’s point of view; those guys got him elected because he can be bought, which serves their purpose, and he doesn’t owe them any favors for doing what served their purpose. It is true he can be bought, but now they have to do the buying. With CFR, he (or she) won’t feel any differently. However he gets there his vote is for sale to the highest bidder.

    CFR is just a sideshow, not the main event.

  47. @Buddha: Then we disagree; the essence of corruption is not campaign finance, it is unconstrained and unaccountable politicians that can lie, cheat and steal without consequence.

    There you go again; saying that if I disagree with you I must be a troll.

    I am all in favor of net neutrality. I am in favor of a strong and independent FEC. I am in favor or strong and enforced constraints; sociopaths pay attention to enforced rules, and the stronger they are enforced the greater the risk and the fewer they will break.

    If you want to control corporations, remove their personhood and thus their freedom of speech, and THAT stops the effect of “money is speech”.

    Corporations aren’t people, they don’t deserve the rights of people, and they don’t VOTE. The vast majority of the time a corporation trying to influence an election is almost by definition making a selfish attempt to corrupt the political process to work against the interests of citizens.

  48. Tony,

    And how does one restore credibility and accountability? By removing the power from monied special interest by removing private financing altogether and making pols once again answerable to all their constituents interests, not just those who coughed up the most cash.

    As to saying you’re a troll? Read better. There was another option there. It is rather curious that all your solutions either have a certain “two steps forward one step back” quality to them. That is a propaganda technique useful to undermine actual progress by creating an illusion of progress but it can also be simply due to either not thinking out or not caring about collateral damage, the true impact of money or the right of free speech and equal protection as they relate to the right to petition or maximizing efficiency in repairing social systems.

    Like I said, there are other options than you being a troll and disagreeing with me has nothing to do with it.

    There are many kinds of trolls. Example(s): bdaman – not a true troll (although he’s said he’s paid before but his posting history says otherwise) in presentation but rather someone poisoned by consuming too much propaganda: a regurgitator. The various incarnations of Wayne/Gerty – the fanatically disturbed and plain ol’ disturbed. The Breitbart crew – pure Neocon operatives paid to disrupt by any means they can. The Juvies – Teens without supervision. The Jim Byrne – stealth trolls who start off offering reasonable sounding statements but twist and degenerate into trollery. That leaves another type left which I’ve seen elsewhere but never here – The Sophist Sophisticate Obfuscator; a troll who offers solutions that appear reasonable on the surface but upon examination have either high associated costs and/or negative consequences that play to corporatist interests – a subtle distractor.

    So far with your half-solutions, you haven’t ruled yourself out as the last type, Tony. That being said, they come in two flavors – the paid distraction/obfuscator and the simply wrong. But there are other things about your posts that tell me you are more likely in the second category. Your near misses at viable solutions analogous to a blind man describing an elephant without knowledge of elephantine anatomy. I’ve said all along that what I find interesting is that others have perceived you as a troll. Personally I think you just don’t think through consequences well enough examining a system you have at best a layman’s acquaintance with. Not with malice per se (which would make you a troll) but rather from not understanding the interplay and interconnectedness of ancillary systems and their attendant issues.

    Restricting corporate personality is only a part of the solution and will be simple (and inadequate) mitigation without CFR being instigated in conjunction.

  49. Buddha,

    BDAman is a troll in the original sense of the word. Pick a random topic that casts Republicans in a negative light. Now look at what BDAman does there. I bet money you get a series of posts that are copy and pasted pieces of propaganda either about some short coming of President Obama or Global Warming being a hoax.

    Just because he sometimes participates doesn’t mean that the vast majority of his posts aren’t plain and simple trolling.

  50. Gyges:

    Bdaman actually knows quite a bit about weather and has come to his opinion about global warming through study and thought. He comes up with some very interesting sites and information as well. On issues relating to weather he is quite informed and capable of discussing the issues. Probably more so than most on this site.

    That you don’t agree with him doesn’t make him a troll. I disagree with him on some things as well and you disagree with me on everything (except maybe beer, wine, cigars, hunting and fishing), does that make us trolls?

    Everybody is entitled to their opinion, some may not have thought about it enough but think it right and some may have thought about it a good deal and read volumes on the subject only to be wrong.

    I don’t think Tootie is a troll either, anyone that is reading John Locke ain’t a troll.

  51. @Buddha: In my opinion it is YOU that hasn’t thought through your arguments, or has done so beginning with false premises. Trying to come up with solutions that produce zero damage is a nice fantasy to have, but I think that is all it is: A fantasy. And the result of engaging in this fantasy is a lack of attention to any real solution that might work, because at this point in our political system none of the real solutions will have zero damages.

    That is my opinion. So yes, all of my solutions produce collateral damage. That isn’t trollish behavior, that is realist behavior. What you want to do is the equivalent of stopping crime without ever risking the lives of anybody, including policemen and soldiers. A nice fantasy that isn’t going to ever happen.

    But you just keep on dreamin’ away the time we have to do anything real, while the problem gets worse every cycle. What happened with the *last* CFR? It got watered down in Congress and created loopholes for all new types of organizations; because the politicians and lobbyists passing the damn thing do not WANT CFR and have smart lawyers that will do anything for enough money, and they found innocuous sounding language that created loopholes big enough to drive a truck through. Result? CFR in name only.

    What will happen with the next CFR? Same thing. Why should they do anything different, and what, precisely, is your plan to force a sitting politician to vote FOR something that *really* hurts their cash flow and gives their challengers a real chance?

    I do not think you do a very good job of considering the issue from their point of view, with their options and resources and responses.

  52. Byron,

    Can you think of the last several times I called someone other than BDAman a troll (I’m not entirely sure that there are several times)? Can you think of the last several times I disagreed with somebody? Unless they’re the same times, I think there may be a problem with your theory that I think BDAman’s a troll because I disagree with him.

    I mean: I’ve defended Tootie as not a troll; I didn’t accuse Jim of trolling; I don’t think YOU are a troll; I don’t think Puzzling’s a troll; etc.

    I think BDAman’s a troll because the best explanation of his motivations fit the definition of trolling. Of course that’s all in my opinion, and you can disagree.

  53. Gyges,

    Oh, bdaman’s a troll alright. I just don’t consider him a professional troll. Most regurgitating trolls aren’t, but simply magpie minions. The culture in which the memes propagated by people like Breitbart and PNAC germinate.


    In re Tootie: Another example of various incarnations of Wayne/Gerty – the fanatically disturbed and plain ol’ disturbed. Troll by compulsion. Not that Tootie is Wayne as Wayne is a demonstrated lunatic of a far darker strain. Tootie has never threatened to kick anyone’s ass here being the primary difference. But Tootie operates under the delusion this is a Christian nation by her definition of Christianity. Troll or not, she’s demonstrably a homophobe and a theocrat. While homophobia is mere stupidity, theocracy and theocrats are as low as fascists and should receive the same level of resistance. Taking power from We the People under the guise of God or the guise of Gucci von Greenback is still taking power from We the People. Disagreement is one thing, being an threat to the Constitution and the DOI in action quite another.

  54. Gyges,

    Of course Byron isn’t a troll, but remember, by his own admission when he first came here he was indeed trolling “looking to piss off some liberals”. He just found out liberals were not the fish he thought they were and decided to hang out and swim instead of throwing rocks in the pond.

  55. Tony,

    And your opinion is simply wrong and based on insufficient understandings of the interrelations and proper functions of law, sociology, psychology and the nature of complex systems in general.

  56. Buddha:

    I regards Tootie, she does believe in Christianity but I think she believes in individual liberty as well. When you start reading Locke and Jefferson it is hard to remain a homophobe or think a theocracy is the way to go.

    Although she does think I am a Marxist so who knows.


    Is it Elk season yet? Do you have to be in a lottery or do you get a tag as a resident? Will you send me some Elk jerky if you shoot one? That stuff (elk meat in general) is awesome.

  57. @Buddha: Excellent, unanswerable fact-free assertions. So I assume you are incapable of answering the question: what, precisely, is your plan to force a sitting politician to vote FOR something that *really* hurts their cash flow and gives their challengers a real chance?

    That’s okay, I do not have a way to do that either, in fact that is why I don’t think CFR is a realistic option, there is no upside for the sitting multi-term politicians that run Congress. That lack of upside is *by design*, the whole reason you want CFR is to unseat them. You might as well be insisting they resign. CFR is a fantasy.

  58. I’m revisiting this thread to express some personal reservations. In my previous comments I had concentrated on providing some illumination from competent sources and some caveats about this whole “scientists say…” feature of modern media and why it has little to do with what scientists (in their peer reviewed papers, not their self-promoting comments to the press) actually say.

    I’m British, and our mainstream political culture is considerably to the left of almost all US politics. Our Conservative Party could nearly all comfortably vote for Democratic Party principles including many considered too controversial in the US. Abortion is a right under the National Health Service and nobody will kill your abortion doctor here. The military here has actively recruited in gay magazines (young fit men with no young children to worry about? Ideal for Her Majesty’s services!) [to be continued]

  59. [Continued] We have had a National Health Service since 1948 and no politician in good standing wants to dismantle that. Other matters long demonized in the most incredible way in the United States are mainstream here (and I could give many examples of things regarded as mainstream there that are anathema in Britain). There really is no way to explain this through genetics without suggesting a radical genetic disparity between Europe and America. This is conceivable, perhaps even plausible, but I don’t see the supporting evidence. I don’t think I’d expect to find, in all the descendants of those people who journeyed to the New World, any great genetic propensity for accepting that things will always be the way they are.

  60. Tony,

    And another nice fact free retort made of bullshit from you too, sport. I lined out more than one option to apply pressure over CFR not too long ago on another thread so I’m not going to repeat it. You obviously weren’t paying attention then so why bother now. Or you’d just conflate it to be some kind of insult to you. Either way, opine as you wish, be as wrong as you wish. I’ll keep on keepin’ on. In the area of law, my opinions may be opinions but they are the opinions of a legal expert with legal training. I think I’ll weigh that into evaluating whether CFR is critical to fix the corruption problem or not against your layman’s opinion of law and politics any day – especially since yours have been all been half measures at best.

  61. @Buddha: There you go, appeal to your own authority, which is another way to tell people “I’m right and he’s wrong. Wrong wrong wrong!”

    My solutions are “half measures” as you call them because they can actually be executed, while your “full measures” cannot. Your “lined out” options don’t answer the question, which you avoid again here. Why would a sitting multi-term politician that benefits greatly under the current system of campaign financing ever vote for real reform that might endanger his seat? If they have power, why would they ever let it come to a vote?

    I think they will all just say the CFR bill is unfair to their party, and favors the other party, and if you don’t want those other evil bastards to get even more power you have to work against this new CFR! And then they will claim “Sure, we need reform, but this isn’t the real deal. What we need to do is work toward *real* CFR, not this travesty.” Or something like that, just like they did with health care reform, Wall Street reform, banking reform, ad infinitum.

    I presume you avoid the question because you don’t have a plausible answer. I repeat that I do not either, I don’t think there IS one, and there are no full measures that will work. At least an executable half measure could do SOMETHING.

  62. No Tony, it’s weighting based on background of the opinionater in evaluation of the systems in question.

    Or do you go to your mechanic for a hear cath? Listen, if we have a question that comes up regarding being a research scientist, I’ll defer to your opinion, until then it’s not an appeal to my own authority to simply point out that the problem is being presented by both someone with specifically appropriate training and experience and an interested layman.

    I stated why I thought you were wrong.

    You disagree.

    Get over it.

  63. Byron,

    My freezers are full of deer (one and a half whitetails and half a muley)and a good sized antelope doe, so no need to kill an elk. I actually like Whitetail better than Elk, but that’s just me.

    It’s a weighted lottery system in CO unless you want to hunt in an unit that doesn’t get a lot of action, then there’s usually left over tickets.

  64. Buddha,

    You may want to clarify which Tony you’re talking to. Mr Sidaway recently ventured in, I’d hate for there to be a misunderstanding.

  65. Gyges,

    In re: “Tony’s”, I had been thinking much the same myself just today. To clarify, I have been addressing Tony C.

    While I’m at it,

    Tony S.,

    I’ve been following your posts on various threads and I’d like to say good show and welcome.

  66. Byron,

    Hey there … do you have any grandkids? I have no idea how old you are so please don’t be insulted if you’re a young whipper-snapper …

  67. I must have the defective DRD4 gene. A quick search shows that DRD4 is associated with Liberalism, promiscuity, novelty seeking behavior, overeating, obesity, ADHD, mood disorders, bipolar disorder, addictions, antisocial behavior, criminal behavior…

    I can feel in my heart that someday our Scientists will find a cure for our defective gene.

  68. Lib Luv,

    Why should we have to be cured. The DRD4 gene is a mutation that is just recurring in many people. I have to say i am mutant and proud. If your not physically hurting yourself or others, or mentally hurting yourself and others, then ithink you can go without being “cured”. No offence of course, just curious about your opinion.

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