Tag Archives: campaign finance

Here’s the best news out of that Virginia primary

Okay, we all know now that a very powerful entrenched leader of the national Republican Party and the US House was tossed out by a previously unknown opponent. That’s the politics.

But for the rest of us, it’s more than politics. It’s hope. Eric Cantor outspent his challenger by 26 to 1 and lost. Cantor campaign spent OVER $5,000,000;  Brat spent $200,000.

Money got a big fat slap upside the face last night. Sleep better tonight – everything looks more possible today.

Man, I miss Newt Gingrich

From his SuperPAC, Winning Our Future. It’s art.

2751 comments on a single post. Alas, not mine.

I’ve never seen a number like that. That comment thread is at David Corn’s original MoJo article about the video from a Romney fundraiser where, to quote Corn:

Romney displayed a high degree of disgust for nearly half of his fellow citizens, lumping all Obama voters into a mass of shiftless moochers who don’t contribute much, if anything, to society, and he indicated that he viewed the election as a battle between strivers (such as himself and the donors before him) and parasitic free-riders who lack character, fortitude, and initiative.

2751 Frackin’ comments! Also, class warfare anyone?

UPDATE: In comments, mac adds this (wowza!):

But guess what Moe! Just saw that the original post on HuffPo about the video – which has become the most commented EVER at their site..

167,682 comments.

Yes. 167 thousand comments.

Shit lobbyists say (I know, I’m late to the game)

Lobbyists write legislation, they take your representatives out to lunch (they can pay for it if both diners are standing, not sitting), they throw fundraisers, they abide by absurdly specific rules to avoid appearance of graft and bribery, but nonetheless, Lobbyists influence your government for the benefit of corporate interests.

http://www.unitedrepublic.org

http://www.republicreport.org

http://www.sofapundit.com

“The geezer empire strikes back”

We all know that rich old men, let loose by the Supreme Court’s cavalier and supposedly intellectual exercise in constitutional masturbation, Citizens United, are busy buying  themselves a Presidency.

Received from friend Ed today, this is Frank Rich, that elegant and terse practitioner of the English language,  in New York Magazine:

. . . 2012 may be seen as the election in which the geezer  empire struck back.

Who has ever said it better?

The people’s candidate: not that it matters anymore

Keith Fitzgerald, good guy

Vern Buchanan, my ethically-challenged Congressman, currently (actually I think this is the third time) under investigation by his tribe in the Congressional Ethics Committee, and previously investigated by Fed Election Commission and the FL AG, doesn’t need support from the little people.

A story in my paper this morning looks at funding so far for Vern and his challenger Keith Fitzgerald (go Keith go!).

First quarter funds:

  • PACs: Vern 26.3%; Keith 17.9%
  • “Other”: Vern 19.7%; Keith 0.3%
  • Self: Vern 14.8%; Keith 0%
  • Individuals: Vern 39.2%; Keith 81.7%

And Vern will win the prize. Count on it. USA! USA! USA!

 

Why I’m so proud to be a Floridian

They don’t even bother to hide what they’re doing anymore. They’re for sale to whoever comes up with the check. Gimme the money, I’ll pass you a nice new law. More here.

Something I never ever thought I’d see

An incoming email: 

From Josh Silver, United Republic   Maureen – Jack Abramoff needs you

Evangelicals aren’t the only ones who are down with Israel at war

When you have $22 billion, giving ten million to a guy to publicly advocate for the cause of your lifetime is cheap, especially if he salutes and does it. Sheldon Adelson got his money’s worth with Newt.

In December, Gingrich proclaimed the Palestinians “an invented people.” Israel’s Haaretz daily reported later that month that Adelson approved of the remarks. And Gingrich has said that one of the first executive orders he would sign if elected president would move the American Embassy to Jerusalem.

That embassy pledge isn’t new in American politics. But Gingrich also said that Isreal’s official capital, Jerusalem, must be defended as such. I’m not certain what that means, but I’ll guess that it’s a call to reject sharing the city, a negotiating point in all peace talks. He simply dismisses the fact that Jerusalem is central and foundational and sacred to all three Abrahmic relligions. (Fine from a private citizen, but reckless from a public politician running for Presdient.)

Adelson is an ardent Zionist who advocates for the U.S. to adopt the most hard line policies on Israel, stuff even Netanyahu rejects – the kinds of positions opposed by large numbers of Israelis, perhaps even a majority. Positions that ignore danger, shut down negotiatios and invite war.

At least, he doesn’t pretend. He puts his money where his mouthpiece is. And there’s plenty more where that ten million came from.

This is killing us

A C-SPAN guest this morning noted, in a “in other news, the sun came up this morning” tone, that “the President’s fundraising this quarter is expected to be down; he had to miss ten fundraisers last month because of the debt ceiling talks”.  Ten fundraisers?? So how many are scheduled for August guys? Twenty? How about thirty?  August has thirty one days, so that way he could spend a day at the desk.

During which days by the way, our Congress will be doing the same thing.

Maybe we should go show the Supreme Court what it looks like when real ‘citizens’ are ‘united’.

Guess who’s gonna be the candidate

From The Hill:
Romney: One-day money haul brings in over $10 million

He did it

Tom DeLay convicted. By a jury of his peers under the American system of law. Bet he’s glad he got his turn on Dancing with the Stars before heading to the pokey.

Money laundering. (Tom was reinvesting national Republican money into local races in TX is my memory.)

It’s a brave new Citizens United world

. . . sung to the tune of “It’s a Small World After All” and you may work in the obligatory Huxley verses.

From CPI via Ben Smith at Politico

Republican Third Party Groups — $43,664,661
Democratic Third Party Groups — $6,658,236

Here’s more:

Colorado — Dems: $1.1 million / GOP: $7.6 million
Washington — Dems: $1.5 million / GOP: $4.2 million
Missouri — Dems: $794k / GOP: $7.2 million
Kentucky — Dems: $47k / GOP: $1.7 million

I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. And we don’t know who these people giving the big money are.

I need a shower.

Did you know?: the real Third Rail

We are an empire – and it’s killing us. The growth of this empire is not driven by any perceived need for actual defense – it is being driven by, to use Eisenhower’s phrase, the military-industrial complex pursuing its own interests. To assure control and growth, the defense industry has located plants and materials in all 50 states. Congress critters who vote against any military appropriation, are seen as killing jobs in the district. A brilliantly conceived Catch-22 in which we spin and over which we seem to be powerless.

“. . . the record $708 billion in military spending called for by the Obama administration for fiscal 2011 will be nearly equivalent to the military spending of all other nations in the world combined. When it comes to military appropriations, the U.S. government already spends about seven times as much as China, thirteen times as much as Russia, and seventy-three times as much as Iran.. . . During the Cold War, the United States confronted far more dangerous and numerous military adversaries, including the Soviet Union.   . . . in those years, U.S. military spending accounted for only 26 percent of the world total.  Today, as U.S. Congressman Barney Frank has observed, “we have fewer enemies and we’re spending more money.” 

Where does this vast outlay of U.S. tax dollars go?  One place is to overseas U.S. military bases.  According to Chalmers Johnson, a political scientist and former CIA consultant [the US has] some 865 U.S. military facilities in more than forty countries and overseas U.S. territories. The money also goes to fund vast legions of private military contractors.  A recent Pentagon report estimated that the Defense Department relies on 766,000 contractors at an annual cost of about $155 billion, and this figure does not include private intelligence organizations.  A Washington Post study, which included all categories, estimated that the Defense Department employs 1.2 million private contractors.”

Here.

Campaign finance

When I began this blog, it was my intention to talk a lot about campaign finance reform. I failed obviously. But I thought then and think now that even thought we can’t ever get money out of politics, we can improve things. Corruption and abuse will always be with us – all  we can do is punish it when we find it. But all our jibber jabber about left and right hides the real issue – our problems are not about less government or more government; our problem is  we need BETTER government.

Better government is possible if we can free legislators from their donor base. And the only way to do that is by public financing of elections. It is a tragedy for us all that these congress critters have to start raising money for the next election cycle the day after they take the oath of office. Their constituency is not the people who elected them; their constituency is the people who financed their campaign. That serves us poorly. It’d be nice if, instead of spending half their time sucking up, they could just go to work.

Money for money

BP has their fingers crossed yet again, and a few million residents of the Gulf Coast weep as their way of life disappears. Just another day in the greatest country ever governed by an almost entirely owned Congress.

From today’s New York Times‘ (that paper so thoroughly quoted by Glenn Beck) lead editorial:

“No industry enjoys the array of tax breaks and subsidies that the oil and gas industry does . . . Industry has spent $340 million on lobbying over the last two years to block [initiates to limit the tax breaks]”

So. Let’s see how that goes.

I drive by a big box store with a fully lit parking light six hours after the store has closed and am comforted by the knowledge that those lights can burn on as long as our soldiers keep fighting those wars. Like in Afghanistan, where today is the 277th day of the ninth year of the war.

Nothing short of higher energy prices will change how we behave in this country. Our disgraceful wasteful ways go on. We should be so very ashamed.

Way to go citizen Dewey!

While in a correspondence with an acquaintance from long, long ago (about a dear old friend who is on his way to Hospice care), we discovered that we share an interest in campaign finance reform. I talk about it. He did something about it.

My old Connecticut home

A 2004 citizens’ initiative of which Dewey was a part resulted in one of the best State law supporting public financing. Go read what they did. The group has wound down since their success, and the site is out of date but the story is here. A model perhaps.

Dewey said of their success, “Quite a good feeling.” I’ll bet. Good for him and his fellow Connecticut civic minded folks at CFER.

“American suicide”

That is how a fellow blogger describes what the Supreme Court did last week.  He has a lot of good reading on the subject, so drop by CatchtheLatest. (Also known in these parts as macandcouch and talkandpolitics.)

We’re not in Kansas anymore

The scales of justice. The promise of America. One man, one vote. Equal opportunity.

And now we have – what? – we have Thursday’s Supreme Court decision that cavalierly created an expanded definition of free speech. It gave corporations the constitutional right to directly campaign for or against political candidates and spend unlimited money doing it.

I’ve been trying to organize my thinking about this and write something coherent. But my outrage kept turning it into a rant, which isn’t my style. Now, having read and listened to the arguments pro and con (mostly con), I find two things missing from the discussions.

Number 1: Money – the amount of it.

Equating the potential access and political effectiveness of for-profit corporations with unions and advocacy non-profits is preposterous. And yet we hear it everywhere – ‘it’s not just the corporations! Unions can do it too! And the Sierra club’! So it’s fair!

No. It isn’t. Consider: today, in terms of percentage of donations, unions for instance are heavy hitters, often ranking near the top in some Democratic campaigns. But now, after this very un-democratic ruling, it will no longer be a matter of the percentage of money, it will be a matter of HOW MUCH money.

Unions and non-profits do not have access to anything near the billions in profit in the for-profit world. And industry wide, it’s often trillions in profits. Oil and finance alone could leave every advocacy group in the US gasping for air.

That could be what the Sierra Club competes against. And according to the defenders of this dreadful decision, that’s equal. That’s speech – available to us all.

Number 2: Nationality, allegiance to and who is the person anyway

Corporations have no nationality. Or moral imperatives. They have a single obligation – stay alive and make money for their shareholders.

Their shareholders are not all people. Their shareholders are not all American. Nor must they be. Many of their shareholders are investment funds, pension funds etc from all over the world.

Will we see a rush of foreign corporations rushing to our shores to create new subsidiaries – incorporated in the US of course – so they can have political ‘speech’ too?

Roberts and Alito are young. Even Scalia and Thomas are younger than their liberal counterparts. I guess we may expect more of this.

Shoot self in foot – repeatedly. It’s the American way.

These long excerpts are lifted directly from Eric Alterman’s CAP column this week. He addresses the crookedness of our privatized campaign financing system and the dreadful legislation it produces – while burying legislation in the public interest, but not the interest of those corporate sponsors of our congress. He says it better than I ever could:

While most in the media prefer to focus on personalities of these influential “consensus builders,” “moderates,” and “conservatives,” they would be wiser to obey that old Watergate adage and “follow the money.” For it is the manner in which we finance our elections—rather than the courage or cowardice of any given individual—that determines the shape of the legislation the “system” produces. . .

He gives us some examples:

Two of the top three donors to Olympia Snowe’s (R-ME) 2006 campaign, who voted against the legislation, were Aetna Inc. and New York Life Insurance. Overall, the insurance industry made the largest percentage of donations to her campaign. In June, Sam Stein wrote about Snowe’s relationship with the insurance industry when Democrats were still courting the senator to support reform.

The top two donors to Committee Chairman Max Baucus’s (D-MT) 2008 campaign were Schering-Plough and New York Life Insurance. The combined donations to Baucus’s campaign and his congressional leadership PAC from health professionals and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries totaled $2,488,139 from 2003 to 2008.

Baucus, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) all serve on the Senate Finance Committee and have all played vocal roles in the debate taking strong positions against the public option. These four senators and their political action committees have received a combined $201,403 from Blue Cross/Blue Shield since 2005. . . In July, Mike Ross (D-AR) led a bloc of seven Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a fight to weaken funding to a public health insurance bill.. . the [same] Blue Dogs had raised $1.1 million for their PAC, a majority of which came from health, insurance, and financial sectors. Bendavid singled out Mike Ross for his tough negotiating and his “moderate” positions on health care reform. Eggen reported that Ross alone raised over $1 million from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries in five terms in Congress.

He goes on taking special aim at  former Speaker Dennis Hastert and NY Sen. Chuck Schumer.

He wraps it up:

If Congress adopted a system of the public financing of elections—as is done in most democracies—they would receive better legislation at a miniscule fraction of the cost they now pay indirectly for their penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude toward election funding.