Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Rot and Paralysis at the Core

by ARGeezer Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 06:18:57 PM EST

The US Senate has passed a housing bill Saturday which now will go to the White House. It could have passed Thursday, but Senators refused to accept loss of a favorite feeding trough.  Senator Jim DeMint plays hero.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., delayed the final vote because Democrats refused to allow him a vote on a proposal to ban the companies from lobbying or making political donations to lawmakers.

"We can't have the people who are supposed to watch over these organizations getting money from these organizations," DeMint said. "At least if we're going to ask the American taxpayer to be on the hook for billions, possibly trillions of dollars, let's stop this."

Shining light into the heart of darkness!  Every dog shall have his day!

Two recent events brightly illuminate the scope of the problem in Washington.  Former Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) has a new book called MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK, and Nicole Sexton, a longtime Republican fundraiser and former Director of Finance for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has published a fictionalized account of political fundraising, Party Favors.

Hollings view as a former Democratic Senator
(See bio sketch.)

Bill Moyers Journal, July 25, 2008, PBS

BILL MOYERS: .... The two mortgage giants, (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,) survived scandal and crisis over the years by spending nearly $200 million on lobbying and campaign contributions. We've posted on our website a story by Politico's Lisa Lair, on how insiders helped Fannie and Freddie stave off scrutiny and avoid taxes even as their top executives pulled down multi-million dollar paychecks. THE NEW YORK TIMES also reported, bluntly, that "their rapid expansion was, at least in part, the result of artful lobbying." What a lovely term: 'artful lobbying.'...I talked with FRITZ HOLLINGS: at a Senate office building on Capitol Hill just before his book party.

BILL MOYERS: Why did you write this book now?

FRITZ HOLLINGS: I wrote the book because I could see what was wrong. I was raising money. I wasn't running for reelection.

BILL MOYERS: As a senator in your last term.

FRITZ HOLLINGS: As a senator in the last two or three years that's all I was doing was raising money. And working for the campaign and for the party. The hardest working people in the world are the congressmen and senators. We work from early morning 'til late at night and all weekend and everything else. But we are working now, not for the country, but for the campaign.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

FRITZ HOLLINGS: All the time is fundraisers. All the time is money, money, money, money. In 1998, ten years ago, I ran and had to raise 8 an a half million. The record is there. Eight and a half million is 30,000 a week. Every week for six years.


BILL MOYERS: What do you mean, it's not working? You say you can't get anything done in Washington anymore. What's not getting done?

FRITZ HOLLINGS: Legislation. Anything meaningful. They fill up the tree both sides, it's nothing wrong with Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell, they're durn good leaders and they're doing what the senators want done. And they're all smart senators and they're all responsible people. But they're playing the game and the media hadn't exposed. That's why I wrote it. I'm trying to expose-

BILL MOYERS: The game? What's the game?

FRITZ HOLLINGS: The game is money. I got to get the money to heck with constituents, I gotta get contributors.

FRITZ HOLLINGS: I've talked to the senators; you ask 'em, they know they're not gettin' anything done. And they grown men and they're conscientious women and everything else, they're outstanding. But they know that all they're doing is on a money treadmill. That's all it is.

BILL MOYERS: You write, "When I first came to the Senate 40 years ago, Senator Mansfield," he was the majority leader then.


BILL MOYERS: "Had a vote every Monday morning to make sure"

FRITZ HOLLINGS: To get a quorum.

BILL MOYERS: "To get a quorum. And we worked until five o'clock on Friday every week."

FRITZ HOLLINGS: That's right. We didn't go home on the weekends. We tried to get out Thursday afternoon or night or at least early Friday morning to go to the West Coast for fundraisers. That's why Hollywood and that's why Wall Street has got that much influence. I'm not going to South Carolina. They got no money for a Democrat. I have to travel all over the country.


BILL MOYERS: A constant permanent campaign.

FRITZ HOLLINGS: That's exactly what it is.

BILL MOYERS: Commercial television is the big winner in this because that's where so much of the money goes.

FRITZ HOLLINGS: That's right; the rich have got all the speech they want. The poor got lockjaw. He can't articulate out onto the television. And-

BILL MOYERS: The poor can't. They have no voice.

FRITZ HOLLINGS: Yeah, and that's the trouble. They tell you, don't go waste time and don't go see people and everything. Get on television and get a little tricky television and everything else like that. All these artists have got all kinds of different ways and different things like that to bring up and tricks to play.

BILL MOYERS: The clear message is money has a stranglehold on our democracy.

FRITZ HOLLINGS: You gotta untie that money knot and then begin the government will begin to work.

BILL MOYERS: So, you conclude therefore, if we limit the money, Congress will have time to work for the country, rather than--

FRITZ HOLLINGS: The campaign. That's exactly right.


BILL MOYERS: What do you make of the fact, as you point out in your book, three days before the first presidential primary in Iowa; The New York Times listed the positions of all the candidates on eight important issues. Not one of them on trade or outsourcing of jobs.

FRITZ HOLLINGS: That's right. And they came way out. We had, in South Carolina, since President George W. Bush has been in; we have lost 94,500 manufacturing a net loss. We're getting' some more jobs in BMW in Spartanburg, but a net loss. And they never mentioned it in the early Democratic primaries. They're-


FRITZ HOLLINGS: Because they gotta get the money.

BILL MOYERS: And who gives them the money?

FRITZ HOLLINGS: Wall Street, the banks, and business

BILL MOYERS Yeah, you say presidents negotiate trade agreements not to open markets, but to protect corporate America's foreign investment. That's how you see it.

FRITZ HOLLINGS: Well, I know it. I mean look at the Congress. Under article one, section 8, the Congress shall regulate. Not free-

BILL MOYERS: Regulate--

FRITZ HOLLINGS: Congress regulates trade both domestic and foreign.

BILL MOYERS: And you say in your book that Congress is not doing that.

FRITZ HOLLINGS: They can't do it because they've gotta get the money. You put in a trade bill and down on your head comes THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and the big banks and The Business Round Table and The National Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufactures they're not for domestic. They're for Chinese and Indian manufacturer even The National Chamber of Commerce is not worried about Main Street, Peoria, Illinois; Main Street, Shanghai.

You see, Henry Ford built up the middle class along with organized labor. He said I want the fellow making the car to be able to buy the car. So, he doubled the minimum wage. He put in health care and retirement costs and everything else of that kind, benefits. And so we had a good working relationship between labor and that-- now, all of these trade agreements for the investors to protect their investment in China and India, but, uh-uh forget about labor.

Then a view from a Republican fundraiser.

There is wide-spread acknowledgment, even within the party itself, that the Republican brand is currently poisonous. Faced with massive losses in November, GOP leadership has green-lighted a save-yourself mentality, allowing its endangered members to go against the party line if it means helping their electoral chances.

"There is a phenomenal arrogance like a fog that has clouded people's thinking and ability to see what is real," said Nicole Sexton, a longtime Republican fundraiser and former Director of Finance for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "We have to go down in history as some of the worst messengers. And President Bush has been horrible. Everything he does deems calculated and insincere. The same was true with Bill Clinton but he at least had the ability to seem sincere. With Bush, people are throwing stones and tomatoes at him [and he hasn't changed]."

Sexton, the author of the new book, "Party Favors" (a fictionalized look at the life of a GOP fundraiser), offered a fairly dire assessment of the party in which she used to be a major figure. A native of New Orleans, much of her scorn was saved for Bush, who she derided for his ignorance of the scope Hurricane Katrina's devastation.


As the chief financial officer for the NRSC, Sexton did not put the blame for the GOP's current problems strictly at Bush's doorstep. She talked openly (later admitting that her former colleagues weren't too pleased with her frankness) about how political figures she had once admired had become consumed by the prospect of reelection.

"We need some new blood in the party," she said. "But the problem is that the younger candidates, like John Sununu, are real in danger of losing their seats."

The GOP's outreach is also aging. "We are a direct marketing and a direct mail party and that's a dinosaur in the fundraising world," she said. "Just look at our presidential candidates [this cycle]. Huckabee was the only one that came close to have an Internet presence like Obama. All his money came from the web and he was able to stay in the race till the final hour. Giuliani, I don't know if he was seeing straight... For McCain to literally have imploded twice and still be the candidate is a phenomenal statement about the party."


She also grew wary of the role that fundraising played. Noting that politicians were spending disproportionate amounts of time raising cash, she called for the system to be scrapped in favor of caps on the amount candidates could raise as a whole (not to be confused with a cap on the size of the individual donations) and restrictions on the time period during which they could raise cash.

Now employed by the ONE Campaign, Sexton still is connected to, and eagerly following, the GOP. Before ending the interview she predicted that her party would lose five seats in the Senate this cycle -- an optimistic estimate in a down year. She also projected that McCain would eventually best Obama though her admiration for the latter's political prowess were clearly evident.

"Usually the youth will go to politically rallies and concerts and never show up and vote and they certainly never contributed" she said of the Illinois Democrat's appeal to younger voters. "These people now are leaving college and giving to Obama. It is phenomenal. If you are giving up your beer money for three nights it means you are invested in the guy."
More in Politics...

Any chance of election financing reform being part of the first session's accomplishments in the next congress?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 06:20:51 PM EST
Any chance of election financing reform being part of the first session's accomplishments in the next congress?  


The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 09:54:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THE MOST EXPENSIVE DELUSION IN A DEMOCRACY IS THAT CITIZENS SAVE MONEY BY LETTING THE SELF INTERESTED WEALTHY FINANCE ELECTIONS.  The interests of those with money almost always trump the interests of the majority of the voters.  Voters are easily distracted and have short memories.  Moneyed interests keep their eye on their interests and have long memories.

A good politician can always scare up votes, if they can get their message out.  Fear of loss of access to campaign donations paralyzes their ability to serve the interests of the public where it conflicts with the interests of large donors.  This comes into play in any situation where there is money to be made.

The FDIC approved new rules that effectively allow bond originators to extract anything of value from financial institutions before those institutions have to be taken over by the FDIC, which will then have to be bailed out by the taxpayers.  See Jerome's diary, The Next Financial Scam.  I wrote to my two Senators and my Representative and sent a similar letter to the state paper of record.  My LTE got published.  I got only one response from the elected officials and even it did not directly address the issues I raised.

I do not believe my elected representatives want to see happen what I warned against, but even acknowledging the problem could be political suicide for them.  

Our most basic failure as citizens has been to allow our elected representatives to be purchased as political sex slaves by moneyed interests.  We have done this.  It is our fault.  We should be grateful that there are representatives who are at least uncomfortable about the situation.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 11:28:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think a possible measure is, to give enough public money to the candidates, so they can have a serious campaign without too much fund raising.

Something like 2$ per vote in every house, senate, or presidential election to the party, getting at least 0.25% of the vote should be enough.
Votes to 1% parties like the greens would still have an effect.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 06:50:21 PM EST
I wholeheartedly agree.  The way this has been framed in the US is "Well, I don't want MY money going to elect THOSE scoundrels."  My response is "Well, there are plenty of people who are more than happy to pay for their campaigns, and it is NOT your interests THEY will advocate."  All I can hope is that, as people start to see  the real cost of letting interested parties finance elections, there will be greater support for public finance.  

The Supreme Court has ruled that money donated to political campaigns is equivalent to speech and is therefore protected.  For that reason I believe that a very generous program of public finances is appropriate. Ideally, this would include money for publicly financed responses to third party ads.  I see no justification for the radio and television stations, which are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, not to be required to make substantial time available for free or even more time made available at a greatly reduced price for debates, individual appearances and campaign ads.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 08:37:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Camp Obama, Aug 15-16, meets in LA. Enrollment in LA is now closed. A link to the Obama for America form app and an alledged email sell-sheet, describing training goals, is up at No Quarter (which I tracked back to). Worth remembering is  publicity dating into 2006 comparing Obama for America social networking and group cohesion of canvassers to Republican organization of the so-called silent majority under Ralph Reed.

Also under the thumb of GWB --enactments of unitary executive theory.

More important perhaps than DNC capacity to raise funds and voter registrations in the short-term is one's comprehension of how the president-elect intends to re-deploy masses of unemployed and unemployable youth after Nov 2008.

GWB, 2007 And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. (Applause.) Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. (Applause.) A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

Peenackers always broadcast.

Earlier this month the Chicago Tribune crossed partisan boundaries to elaborate an aspect of US political history to which Mr Obama has frequently appealed. That is federalizing capital such as labor and conscription. However the reporter failed to detail the outcomes of federal projects exemplified by the Civilian Conservation Corps camps (forestry and agriculture, FDR), Peace Corp (venture capital or FDI, JFK), and AmeriCorp (avocational training, WJC). And he failed to identify current bills, S.1128 for example, which amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to provide financial reward for  pupils Gr. 6 - 9 (children aged 11- 14), while indemnifying (§ 165B) federal agents of child labor prohibitions explicitly codified in Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 201 et seq.).

The Orwellian disquisition on totalitarian peace continues.

"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set," he [Obama] said Wednesday. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." Mr Obama reiterated his commitment to US political economy and Mr Bush's explicit call to action in an appeal to "allied" youth, evoking Lincoln at Gettysburg --"The world will little note nor long remember what we say here"-- in Berlin.

BHO, 2008 This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.
Now the world will watch and remember what we do here - what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Is this moment a civil war? If so, if indeed the provinces threaten the empire with insurrection, who are the slaves? Stiglitz, like Roubini, points out the well-worn path from real property to indentured servitude.


The housing bill is H.R. 3221, introduced by Pelosi  to engross related bills from both chambers, passed 2007 to the present and not alread codified in Public Law 110-140 -- H.RES.615, H.RES.1175, H.RES.1363, H.R.6, H.R.364, H.R.2304, H.R.2313, H.R.2337, H.R.2389, H.R.2420, H.R.2635, H.R.2701, H.R.2773, H.R.2774, H.R.2776, H.R.2847, H.R.3220, S.2636. When MSM commentators refer to a bill title now, they are actually denoting a provision engrossed here.

Click "Text of Legislation" to read its table of contents, then select named categorical provisions. And if you enter "H.R. 3221" directly to the thomas.gov search engine, you may be interested to investigate the " New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act" which will overlay EPAct of 2005 and the notorious "Water Bill".

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 10:52:57 AM EST
It is most worrying that the response constituted by BHO's campaign to the challenge posed by GWB's move towards a "unitary executive" itself employs potentially abusive measures such as No Quarter. The legislative direction taken by the democratic congressional leadership is also problematic.  The problem seems to be that the entire "discussion," to the extent it deserves being called a discussion, it conducted on grounds and in terms that have been long and well prepared by RW Republicans.

There are factors that mitigate these dangers. Young supporters of GWB largely had/have "stern parent" hierarchical, authoritarian mindsets. Thus they tend to fall in line behind whatever the leader says.  On the other hand, the young supporters of BHO seem largely to have "nutrient parent" communitarian idealistic mindsets and they project their ideals onto BHO.  However, their ideals vary considerably and these folks are not the "fall in line" sort. (This line of analysis is from George Lakof.) The potential for backlash from the base is very real.

I see the problem of campaign finance as such a basic and stark problem and limitation that it can only be changed if a means can be devised which is likely to have substantial parts survive legal challenge in the next election cycle.  This requires collective courage, which is not significantly on display at this time.  Obama appears to have circumvented the problem with his  web based fundraising, but that is personality based and will be difficult to generalize.  Reform of the formal system will require leadership of which Obama is potentially capable of providing, but he has not shown any clear intention of doing so.  

The most basic problem is that the attitudes and perceptions of the public have been shaped by 30 years of noxious, self serving theories served up by neo-con politicians and neo-classical economists.  Unfortunately, these concepts, through continual repetition, have been wired into the brains of a large portion of the population.  This fact has been and will be skillfully exploited by these same interests to resist any fundamental change that challenges their interests.  

T. Boone Pickins is showing what is needed to change attitudes on a particular issue: $50million and daily ads that hammer away at a problem and, over time, rewire the brains of a lot of people.  What is needed is several other efforts of comparable scope to prepare the ground on other issues, especially campaign reform. Else, our choices could be/(remain?) between various flavors of subtle or not so subtle totalitarianisms.  


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 12:51:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why further abstract problems with or solutions to US imperialist policies which, collectively, define the value system US residents and "allies" support materially and inadvertantly every day? Let's do direct our attention to events, facts not propaganda, such as enacted legislation and extra-legal proclamations, police actions, and financial constraints employed by known US government agents to perpetuate economic inequalities and social inequities.

It is most worrying that the response constituted by BHO's campaign  ...

The internet is a broadcast, telecommunication network. A tool, that's all. It amplifies both noise and news of information by multipoint distribution of "speech". Both noise and news have always been features of human media manipulatives, whether sound or object -- reliquaries, press, ale houses, soapboxes and townhalls, teevees or HTML pages. Some people find noise soothing. Some people are able to filter noise. Observing that discrepancy in intellectual capabilities is hardly a "RW Republican" invention, though it is certainly fashionable today to suggest that it is along side a conviction that US political economy was founded 30 years ago and one's political greivances only find expression in self-identification with legitimate regimes. Deflected examination of dysfunctional group dynamics and evidence that governors, worldwide, are unanimous in their preparations to quash civil liberties is what fetishizing propaganda à Lakoff achieves.

The distress expressed by individuals at nodes such as No Quarter rather illustrates that observation. The number of individuals who are willing to declare allegiance to some symbol yet are unable to identify themselves with representative government and to replace offending legislators who indeed they "own" cannot be understated.

That is a feature not a bug of continuous totalitarian indoctrination.

There are factors that mitigate these dangers. Young supporters of GWB largely had/have "stern parent" hierarchical, authoritarian mindsets.  ...

I understand that John Dean and other authors have popularized these pseudo-psychometric, demographic models since the 2000 presidential election. That is to understate decades of clinical psychology, psychoanalytic treatments, and semiotic praxis ... Piaget, Fanon, Taylor, Adorno, Allen, Drucker, Lacan, Arendt, Barthes ... the knowledge base of the western canon goes on and on. It is deep. The Tavistock Clinic for example was founded in 1920 to formalize palliative treatment of endemic, pervasive combatant disorders emerging from institutional ruin. But US consumers, in particular, are trained to accommodate infantile prescriptions for adult conflicts before voluntarily seeking psychotropic treatment.

Dissociation, that is a feature not a bug of continuous corporate hygeine.

I see the problem of campaign finance as such a basic and stark problem and limitation...

There will be no legal challenges to the premises of campaign financing. Campaign financing is not a "problem"  legislators care to solve. The SCOTUS long ago ruled that money is protected speech, for all practicable purposes, a ballot coefficient and a asset within the US "election" market. Occasionally elected officials renegotiate accounting terms, or game rules, typically after detecting some "competitor" innovation in revenue collection. Mr Obama has demonstrated unequivocably his disinterest in public financing by rejecting the scale "inefficiencies" of restricted funding. If that judgement did not make clear his philosophical and commercial priorities, read again the copy in that splash page: "Own a piece of this campaign" says all one would need to know about mass marketing consumables and the investment quality of finance capitalism, generally.

US voters are buying themselves a cipher and him a 747. cf Piaget on participatory realism.

Solicitations for "private" campaign funding and "soft money" funded broadcast electioneering ought to be abolished. But these are features of totalitarian franchise.

The most basic problem is that the attitudes and perceptions of the public have been shaped by 30 years of noxious, self serving theories served up by neo-con politicians and neo-classical economists.

Again, presentations of normative attitudes and perceptions of legitimate federal governance are not products of the last 30 years of US intellectual history. These are artifacts of relentless, material Euopean feudalism and regency which is, furthermore, based dogmatically on reverence for Platonic-Roman antiquity.

God willing "citizens of the world" will never own a productive asset but our inalienable "right" to make payments in scrip to banks and in blood to the homeland.

T. Boone Pickins is showing ... What is needed is several other efforts of comparable scope to prepare the ground on other issues, especially campaign reform. Else, our choices could be/(remain?) between various flavors of subtle or not so subtle totalitarianisms.

I see, the next opportunity to disrupt US totalitarian jugernaut is to turn-over all incumbents in congress, both chambers. Cold turkey intervention by each voter. Otherwise, legislation that institutionalizes debt production enacted will not be reversed. For every single "short term recommendation" proposed by Paulson and endorsed by BHO on the trail to "modernize" FRB regulatory authority was finalized this weekend.

That is a feature not a bug of continuous totalizing infrastructure.

Mr Pickins retains multiple law firms who employ an army of associates who supply him and his agents legal bases for business decisions. Doubtless he is aware of recent changes to US Tax Code and eligibility of corporate entities for new streams of federal financing. Are you? That's all I'm asking.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 10:17:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly, i find buying elections and governments so much more "civilized" than, say, violent coups.  When coupled with near-complete control of the propaganda machine, i can sleep easily at night.

Relaxing at Berchtesgaden or Sun Valley is so sweet this time of year.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 02:50:47 PM EST
Enjoy your retreat at Berchtesgaden and may you never again be awakened with guns in your face! ;-/

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 03:04:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If money is the only factor why not replace democratic elections with sale of offices by auction?

Perhaps the answer would be to elect the President, auction Senate seats and select House members by lottery. This might produce a wider range of views in the US political system, than if all officeholders are bought and paid for by the rich, in elections which only those approved of by the rich and powerful can enter.

The other answer is to amend the constitution to impose very strict expenditure limits on candidates, require exclusive public funding and mandate tight restrictions on what third parties can spend to affect elections. This would be pretty revolutionary by American standards, but is a more extreme version of the sort of thing most democracies try to do to keep elections fair.

by Gary J on Thu Jul 31st, 2008 at 07:38:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

why not replace democratic elections with sale of offices by auction?

That would be a step backwards from the present system.  Now those with the money get to decide who will run and have a tacit veto over their positions and actions--all without leaving much evidence behind.  Then when things go south they can tell the general public: "Well, you elected these fools."  And so we did.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jul 31st, 2008 at 10:17:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was not suggesting selection of officeholders by auction seriously.

At worst democratic election provides a way of limiting corrupt politician A's period of looting the treasury, even if it just provides corrupt politician B with his turn at the trough.

by Gary J on Thu Jul 31st, 2008 at 10:27:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nor did I think you were serious.  This situation has become satire-proof.  It is hard to laugh at the ridiculousness of ones situation while the rape is in progress.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jul 31st, 2008 at 10:54:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
not suggesting selection of officeholders by auction seriously.  

So you do not believe after all in transparency in government?  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 09:58:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you think about Lessig and Trippi's Change Congress campaign?

Change Congress -- Home

Change Congress is a movement to build support for basic reform in how our government functions. Using our tools, both candidates and citizens can pledge their support for basic changes to reduce the distorting influence of money in Washington. Our community will link candidates committed to a reform with volunteers and contributors who support it.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 02:17:17 AM EST
It's a start. But Lessig is living in MIT World, not Fox World. The Internet is still a rather exclusive and specialised tool, which means that it's not going to reach people who need to be reached.

The point of mass media is that they're mass media. One-to-many organisation with no right of reply is inherently authoritative.

Lessig's campaign probably won't get anywhere unless he also promotes open access to mass media. (And for the purposes of this exercise, Youtube != mass media.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 11:43:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow.  Trippi couldn't run a political campaign to save his life, but he's a visionary when it comes to using the internet to change the way we participate in the political process.  Very cool to see him teaming up with Lessig.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 03:44:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent Post. You should crosspost at Daily Kos and get their take on campaign finance reform etc.

People like Clinton were so enamored at having been accepted by the financiers of political parties that he completely ignored his commitment along with Gingrich to reform campaign financing.

It will be interesting to see if Obama will actually take an activist role in reforming campaign finance in a way which will marginalize the 527s etc. he use das his rationale as to why he didnt take the fed financing of presidential campaigns.

Only time will tell but knowing Obama was a community organizer responsible for registering 100,000 new voters in Chicago and realizing how all his efforts could easily be trampled under by some fat cats giving money to the politicians; I believe Obama will try and reform the system.

by An American in London on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 04:42:26 AM EST
i sure hope you're right...

while audaciously hoping away, maybe this is relevant...

Pam Martens: The Obama Bubble Agenda

That brings us to today's bubble. We are being asked to accept on its face the notion that after more than two centuries of entrenched racism in this country, which saw only five black members of the U.S. Senate, it's all being eradicated with some rousing stump speeches. 

We are asked to believe that those kindly white executives at all the biggest Wall Street firms, which rank in the top 20 donors to the Obama presidential campaign, after failing to achieve more than 3.5 per cent black stockbrokers over 30 years, now want a black populist president because they crave a level playing field for the American people. 

The number one industry supporting the Obama presidential bid, by the start of February, -- the crucial time in primary season -- according to the widely respected, nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, was "lawyers/law firms" (most on Wall Street's payroll), giving a total of $11,246,596. 

This presents three unique credibility problems for the yes-we-can-little-choo-choo-that-could campaign: (1) these are not just "lawyers/law firms"; the vast majority of these firms are also registered lobbyists at the Federal level; (2) Senator Obama has made it a core tenet of his campaign platform that the way he is gong to bring the country hope and change is not taking money from federal lobbyists; and (3) with the past seven ignoble years of lies and distortions fresh in the minds of voters, building a candidacy based on half-truths is not a sustainable strategy to secure the west wing  from the right wing.


The Obama campaign's populist bubble is underpinned by what, on the surface, seems to be a real snoozer of a story. It all centers around business classification codes developed by the U.S. government and used by the Center for Responsive Politics to classify contributions. Here's how the Center explained its classifications in 2003:

"The codes used for business groups follow the general guidelines of the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes initially designed by the Office of Management and Budget and later replaced by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)..."

The Akin Gump law firm is a prime example of how something as mundane as a business classification code can be gamed for political advantage. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Akin Gump ranks third among all Federal lobbyists, raking in $205,225,000 to lobby our elected officials in Washington from 1998 through 2007. The firm is listed as a registered federal lobbyist with the House of Representatives and the Senate; the firm held lobbying retainer contracts for more than 100 corporate clients in 2007. But when its non-registered law partners, the people who own this business and profit from its lobbying operations, give to the Obama campaign, the contribution is classified as coming from a law firm, not a lobbyist.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 05:59:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As Clinton was correct in saying' you cant expect me to disarm unilaterally when it comes to raising contributions'.

We should not let the 'perfect be the enemy of the good' in Obama's case and be positive about his potential.

In his first 100 days; he is going to go head first in campaign financing reforms at the same time as crafting stronger regulations over the financial entities which have gotten us all into this mess in addition to many obvious reforms. If its true; The Democrats will have 60 senators then he will get what he wants through quickly but it will be a slog for awhile if there are less than the 60 senators as fillibusters will impede movement of the bills.

For me to be even thinking of the aforementioned only increases my positive outlook that my life and my cildren's will have the potential for being better with Obama our President.

by An American in London on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 06:14:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the suggestion.  I might try BooMan firsy.  I am actually registered there.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 03:40:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The above was responding to AiL.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 03:40:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cross posted at Booman.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 05:23:05 PM EST
From Peter Viles blog in the L.A. Times, July 19,2008

Both presidential candidates are deep in the embrace of the two-headed lobbying machine known as Fannie and Freddie. From today's L.A. Times story about conservative pressure on John McCain ... to push for a fig leaf of reform in the way Fannie and Freddie operate:

McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was president of an organization, the Homeownership Alliance, that advocates for expansion of low-interest loans funded by the two mortgage giants. Federal records show that Arthur Culvahouse Jr., who is heading McCain's vice presidential search effort, was a lobbyist for Fannie Mae. Former U.S. Sen Warren Rudman, a McCain advisor, was hired by Fannie Mae to lead an internal review of the company's accounting policies that concluded in 2006.

On Barack Obama:

Until recently, one of Obama's advisors on vice presidential selection was James A. Johnson, who once led Fannie Mae. Obama has been one of the largest recipients of campaign contributions from donors associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, receiving $105,849 since he first ran for national office four years ago. That made him the third-largest recipient among the top 25 listed in a recent report by the Center for Responsive Politics, which looked at contributions dating to 1989.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 05:37:31 PM EST
  1. A Democracy is (or should be) a democracy of citizens, not corporations.  Therefore all corporate donations should be construed as bribery and considered a criminal offense.  It is also a theft of stockholders and customers money - money that should be used for producing goods and services for sale and profits for stockholders.

  2. Free speech should be free.  Therefore all paid political advertising should be construed as tantamount to bribing MSM to favour a particular point of view.  As corporations, MSM shouldn't be allowed to be partisan - see 1. above - and therefore obliged to give equal time to candidates - or at least in proportion to their party's vote last election.

  3. Private donations for candidates should be limited to an amount any citizen can afford - say $100 - so as not to favour the rich over the poor - all are created equal and all that.  The rich do not have a right to greater influence/access in a democracy.

  4.  The Supreme Court notion that money=speech shows how debased the US constitution has become.  The rich do not have a right to a greater voice.

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 07:59:19 AM EST

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