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Reversing ‘Citizens United’

Bernie Sanders

American hero Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)  has introduced a Constitutional Amendment to reverse the horrible Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission ruling:

Sanders Files ‘Saving American Democracy Amendment’

 

From the press release:

Sanders’ Saving American Democracy Amendment would make clear that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people and that corporations may be regulated by Congress and state legislatures. It also would preserve the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. It would incorporate a century-old ban on corporate campaign donations to candidates, and establish broad authority for Congress and states to regulate spending in elections.

This needs to be done.

Corporations have their hooks into every politician at almost every level, and right-wing media has done a nice job selling people on the idea that corporations ARE people.

The only way we will ever have a responsive government is if we get the corrupting power of money out of the game.

Ideas should be introduced and debated on an even playing field and live and die based on their merits — not on a marketing campaign by whoever spends the most.

fact sheet linked from Sander’s press release makes a strong case:

Before Citizens United, corporations had to abide by the ruling in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce that limited their participation in elections to political action committees. PACS are funded by voluntary contributions from the employees of a corporation, as opposed to the general treasury fund. The Supreme Court also determined that limitations on corporate spending in elections were permissible in McConnell v. FEC, a decision that upheld portions of the McCain-Feingold reforms that aimed to reign in corporate electioneering.
Because of Citizens United, corporations are now allowed to tap into their profits to spend money advocating for or against candidates of their choosing. Even worse, they can do it anonymously. By undermining the very concept of campaign finance laws, like the ones limiting individual contributions to candidates, the Citizens United decision even threatens a 1907 law passed by Congress prohibiting corporations from directly contributing to candidates. If we don’t take action, before we know it, the Supreme Court could rule that corporations can directly to contribute to candidates for public office.

Read the proposed amendment here.

I’d love for this to pass, but I doubt there’s a chance of that happening.

-Chris

December 8, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Democrats, Elections, Fox News, GOP, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thomas Frank on Newt Gingrich

If you don’t read Thomas Frank whenever you can, you should.

His insight into how the Republican mind works and how the middle class in this nation have been convinced to work actively against their own interests is essential to understanding the mess we are in.

Today on Facebook he posted this nugget from his 2000 book “One Market Under God” nailing pseudo-historian and novelist Newt Gingrich:

My thoughts on Newt Gingrich, circa 1999, from a passage in One Market Under God where I describe the feeling one gets scanning the ideas of Thomas Friedman:

“Each of them is preposterous in its own way, but thrown together they make a truly dispiriting impression, a feeling akin to the first time I heard Newt Gingrich speak publicly and it began to dawn on me that this is what the ruling class calls thinking, that this handful of pathetic, palpably untrue prejudices are all they have to guide them as they shuttle back and forth between the State Department and the big thinktanks, discussing what they mean to do with us and how they plan to dispose of our country.”

Gingrich poses as an intellectual, and fools millions of Republicans who have been spoon-fed the notion that book learnin’ is for evil egg-head, ivory-tower Marxists.

Newt, using the word “fundamentally” or “fundamental” does not automatically strengthen an argument.

This is REALLY the best the GOP can do?

-Chris

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Books, Education, Elections, GOP, History, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Republicans | , , , | Leave a comment

Wow.

Huntsman has risen in my estimation in the pack of Republican presidential candidates by the sheer accomplishment of not being batshit crazy.

I would probably fight against most of what he believes, but he does at least seem to accept and live in the reality the most of us inhabit.

Now this:

Bringin’ Huntsman Back

Apparently those are his real daughters singing and in the picture.

Minus points for Mr. Huntsman on this “ad”.

-Chris

December 1, 2011 Posted by | Elections, Humor, Politics, Republicans | Leave a comment

Deficit Rhetoric vs. Action

Rand Paul at Louisville forum by Gage Skidmore

Image via Wikipedia

Two articles came to my notice today concerning the deficit.

The big news was that Obama’s bipartisan commission on the deficit released their report on cutting the budget deficit:
Panel Weighs Deep Cuts in Tax Breaks and Spending

The lead:

A draft proposal released Wednesday by the chairmen of President Obama’s bipartisan commission on reducing the federal debt calls for deep cuts in domestic and military spending starting in 2012, and an overhaul of the tax code to raise revenue. Those changes and others would erase nearly $4 trillion from projected deficits through 2020, the proposal says.

The recommendations are dead, dead, dead.

Why?

The plan would reduce Social Security benefits to most future retirees — low-income people would get a higher benefit — and it would subject higher levels of income to payroll taxes to ensure Social Security’s solvency for at least the next 75 years.

Italics are mine.

These are the tough choices that country faces, and this is a serious proposal to fix what’s broken. Politically, however, it’ll never fly.

The plan calls for a simplification –and tax cuts across the board– by cutting many popular tax loopholes. The overhaul of the tax code would net a projected $80 billion in 2015.

On the other hand, the Tea Party poster boy, Rand Paul, can’t specify exactly what he would do to slash the deficit:

In Tense Interview With Spitzer, Rand Paul Can’t Name Specific Cut To Balance Budget

Spitzer asked Paul to name specific programs he would cut from health care, Social Security, or defense. But Paul demurred, explaining that he would offer a balanced budget in the next Congress — over 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 year increments, but was still unsure of what to cut to get there. At one point, Paul even suggested that rather than pressing him for specifics, Spitzer should invite liberals and ask “how do you continue to have these programs?”

In other words, complete and utter bullshit.

Serious debate about the deficit is important, but for the Tea Party crowd, allegedly fueled by their deep concern about the deficit, have absolutely no plan to make things better.

It reminds me of the Monty Python skit, “How To Do It”:

Simplistic solutions to complex problems with no understanding and no hard work — that’s the stock and trade of the Tea Party and the Republicans who are trying to channel their activism to continue their campaign to reward the wealthy.

Bolstered by their midterm wins, there’s little hope that the Tea Party Republicans will negotiate in good faith to address the deficit.

Many of them have expressed publicly and privately that they do not want Obama to have a legislative win that he can run on in 2012, so they are quite content to do absolutely nothing and block everything.

We’ll see how it plays out, but it doesn’t look promising.

-Chris

November 10, 2010 Posted by | Debt, Deficit, Democrats, Economics, Elections, Politics, Republicans, Tax Debate | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exactly.

November 5, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Elections, Obama, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elections, Money and Citizens United

http://www.wpclipart.com/money/. Per the licen...

Image via Wikipedia

I watched for two years the coming of the slow-motion train wreck that was Tuesday’s mid-term election.

Of course, the right is crowing that this is a repudiation of liberals and liberal ideology, which of course is wrong.

If this were true, the Blue Dogs would have sailed to reelection, and progressives would have all gone down hard. Instead, it seems progressives did better than the conservative/corporate toadies who call themselves Dems:

Progressives Fare Better Than Blue Dogs In Contested Races

Of the 54 seats occupied by members of the Blue Dog coalition, 27 of them were lost to Republicans. (That includes five held by incumbents who either retired or ran for the Senate.) On the other hand, all but three of the much larger group of Progressive Caucus members up for re-election won their seats, including six out of nine caucus members whose races were rated as competitive.

If anything the elections were the result of these things:

1) The timidity of the Democrats — and their inability to put their message out (and highlight their accomplishments)
2) The shit-ton of money poured into campaigns by secretive, unaccountable front groups in the light of the Citizen’s United Supreme Court ruling. Release the Kraken, indeed.

The New York Times has the critical article on this.
“Outside Groups on the Right Flexed Muscles”

While it is hard to sort out the exact difference they made, their success rate, particularly in races in which Republican challengers would have otherwise been badly outgunned, raises the prospect that a relatively small number of deep-pocketed donors exerted an outsize influence on Tuesday’s results.

Yeah. Classic understatement.

The principle right-wing shadow organ has been the hilariously misnamed US Chamber of Commerce. I’ve written about them before, and they look to be one of the most powerful money-laundering outlets for the Bankster set.

As a side note, I find it hilarious the way right-wing nutbags snarl the name “George Soros” (who funds liberal organizations) but can’t find their voice to say anything about Richard Mellon Scaife, the Koch Brothers, front groups like the US Chamber and media vampire Rupert Murdoch.

Until a way is found to get the oversized influence of huge multinational (and in many cases, foreign) money out of the election process, this country is on the fast march to Fascism.

The unbridled celebration of corporatism is about to begin, and the faith of the true believers is unlikely to be broken by any disaster visited upon us as a result.

If these deluded hordes could be swayed by reality, the BP disaster, Mortgage catastrophe and Enron certainly would have done the trick.

The inestimable Bill Moyers recently gave a speech honoring the late progressive historian Howard Zinn. Entitled “Welcome to the Plutocracy”, it should be read by anyone who gives a shit about this country.

The elder statesman of a dead art (journalism) crafts a lesson filled with all the history needed to highlight the consequences of the regressive direction American voters just chose.

Moyers captures the moment perfectly:

Now let’s connect some dots. While knocking down nearly all limits on corporate spending in campaigns, the Supreme Court did allow for disclosure, which would at least tell us who’s buying off the government. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell even claimed that “sunshine” laws would make everything okay. But after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would require that the names of all such donors be publicly disclosed, McConnell lined up every Republican in the Senate to oppose it. Hardly had the public begun to sing “Let the Sunshine In” than McConnell & Company went tone deaf. And when the chief lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce was asked by an interviewer, “Are you guys eventually going to disclose?” the answer was a brisk: “No.” Why? Because those corporations are afraid of a public backlash. Like bank robbers pulling a heist, they prefer to hide their “personhood” behind sock masks. Surely that tells us something about the nature of what they’re doing. In the words of one of the characters in Tom Stoppard’s play Night and Day: “People do terrible things to each other, but it’s worse in places where everything is kept in the dark.”

In the short term, I am extremely interested in how the alleged principles of the Tea Party zealots breaks against the wall of corporate adulation that is the Republican party.

I’ll be crying into my popcorn as I watch.

-Chris

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Debt, Deficit, Democrats, Economics, Elections, Obama, Politics, Tea Party, Wall Street | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP candidates and violence

at least i'm not a bully

Image by *nimil* via Flickr

So, exactly what to think about the rhetoric of the GOP about “jackbooted thugs”, support for the constitution and threats to liberty and freedom?

In light of the actions of some of them, not much.

These bullies reflexively invoke our founding document but never seem to get around to reading — or at least — understanding it.

Where the Tea Party crowd is concerned, actions speak louder than words.

  • In Alaska, Tea Party phenom Joe Miller’s right-wing militia thugs handcuffed a local reporter for the crime of asking an uncomfortable question
  • In Florida, GOP candidate sent his crew of burly biker henchmen to threaten  his opponent’s staffer who was videotaping an event in a public park
  • Carl Paladino, running for Governor of New York (and known for distributing porn and racist emails) threatened to  “take out”   a reporter who worked for a paper that revealed that the GOP candidate has a love child

The principles of the constitution these bullies pretend to uphold (as opposed to, say, the scary black man in the White House) aren’t ones in my copies of the document.

We’ve seen this behavior before from Tea Party candidates — or at least a similar reaction.

Veep candidate and half-term Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell famously avoid the real press (and encourage others of their ilk to do so).

Must be because they have the option of going on the ever-fawning Fox “News” Channel to have their egos massaged and never have to deal with any, you know, issues.

Word of suggestion: if you can’t stand to answer questions from the press, maybe you aren’t cut out to hold office.

-Chris

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Elections, Politics, Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plutocracy ascendent

Beware The Oligarch

Image by Laurie Pink via Flickr

In the wake of the Citizen’s United ruling by the Supreme Court, unlimited amounts of cash are polluting our election campaigns and buying politicians wholesale.

Robert Reich had a nice piece on his blog Monday about the “Perfect Storm” that threatens our democracy:

“The Perfect Storm”

He hits all the bases:

  • The top one-tenth of one percent of Americans now earn as much as the bottom 120 million of us
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into campaigns with no accountability whatsoever
  • a handful of front groups is laundering the money, and some have taken donations from foreign companies
  • Most Americans are in a bad position (unemployment, debt, mortgages) and taxes are rising and services are being cut
  • Infrastructure is crumbling
  • Politicians refuse to take the most modest step of restoring taxes for top earners (who are now “burdened” with the lowest taxation in 80 years)

Reich comments:

We’re back to the late 19th century when the lackeys of robber barons literally deposited sacks of cash on the desks of friendly legislators. The public never knew who was bribing whom.

Reich is right. And there doesn’t seem to be any hope in sight.

I have no choice but to agree with his gloomy conclusion:

The perfect storm: An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top; a record amount of secret money flooding our democracy; and a public becoming increasingly angry and cynical about a government that’s raising its taxes, reducing its services, and unable to get it back to work.

We’re losing our democracy to a different system. It’s called plutocracy.

-Chris

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Debt, Deficit, Democrats, Economics, Elections, Politics, Republicans, Unemployment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

   

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