Saturday, July 2, 2011

We’re Well into 2012 Presidential Campaign

It has begun already and that’s too bad, but when one candidate starts running the others have got to follow, I guess.
by Charlie Leck

The caucuses and primaries don’t take place until early in 2012, but those lining up to be president have already started campaigning in those states that will hold the early vote counts. New Hampshire and Iowa are hot-beds of politics already.

The initial fund raising information shows that an awful lot of money will be spent on these campaigns. We will break all past records this year. Bachmann and Obama have clearly demonstrated their abilities to raise huge amounts of money from little givers. Others among the candidates (Romney and Huntsman) are personally very wealthy and will fund their own campaigns if they need to.

Then, of course, there will be the PAC contributions and the labor money and the mega amounts the corporations will contribute.

The wild and funny comedian, Stephen Colbert, recently made a trip to Washington to appear at the Federal Election Commission to await that body’s first campaign fund raising report. He tried to be funny, but, as Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post: “…comedian Stephen Colbert flew down to Washington this week to parody the nation’s campaign finance laws. But there was a flaw in his plan: The campaign finance system already is a parody.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v FEC changed everything. Before we had a lot of petty graft (labor unions sliding hundreds of thousands in cash under a campaign committee’s door, for instance) on both sides. Now the nation’s corporations can anonymously (in most states) donate hundreds of millions of dollars to the candidate of their choice. It was the worst and most destructive decision made in my life time in terms of the damage it does to our democracy. It makes corporations a virtual voter in the system and it certainly gives them an amount of power and voice in the elections that throws the scales completely out of balance.

The Supreme Court, in five straight campaign finance decisions, has largely wiped out post-Watergate campaign reforms and, in the case of corporate contributions, undone nearly a century of law. Adding to the anarchy, Congress has been unable to agree on legislation requiring donors’ disclosure. For those who violate what’s left of the law, there is little risk of punishment because the FEC, paralyzed by a partisan split, has been unable to agree on much enforcement.” [Dana Milbank in the Washington Post]

Now the super-rich can have a huge impact on the results of federal elections without needing to identify themselves. Oh, my! That’s not the way our campaign finance laws were meant to work. Those laws, which were already messy and weak, have been shattered by the Supreme Court.

It’s “BYOB,” Colbert said with a smile. “Bring your own billions!”

I promised another blog on the twisted and staggering errors that Michele Bachmann makes in her chatter. As I did that research I was staggered by the number of non-factual things the woman says. Amazingly, she admits to having this weakness and, because of that, I have some sympathy for her. She has asserted that she will try harder to be factual and not so much off the cuff in what she says. Can I believe her?

I wrote the blog I promised, but I decided, because of all the flak I took after the last one of this sort, that I would submit it to a researcher to actually fact-check what I’d written. It hasn’t come back yet, but I’m pushing.

Columnist Aaron Blake pointed out something about the Bachmann v Media squabbles that I find interesting: “…it could actually be a good thing for the media to savage Bachmann.”

The more she’s savaged, the more it galvanizes her supporters.


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1 comment:

  1. As you stated "It makes corporations a virtual voter in the system and it certainly gives them an amount of power and voice in the elections that throws the scales completely out of balance." What about the Unions? Even while the this law was in effect, Unions were able to dump as much money into campaigns was they wished.
    The difference between corporate and union donations in my opinion is free choice. Corporations are legal entities, that rely on employees and customers to make a profit. Without people, employees and customers, they don't make any money. Therefore if the employees or customers don't like what the company is doing, they can choose to leave for a different company. Every transaction with a company is based on choice. (I will agree that there are some instances where we must deal with a particular company, like they provide power to your house or a drug you must take). Unions on the other-hand are a forced monopoly. If you are a plumber in New York, you are forced to join the Plumber's Union and pay dues to the Union which the Union then spends on candidates of their choosing, not the employee's choosing. Second, if you are a plumbing company in New York, you are forced to hire Union Plumbers. You have no choice in this matter. Hence you are paying Union Plumbers, who pay Union dues, who then donate money to candidates you may not agree with. Finally, if you want to hire a plumber in New York to come and unclog your toilet, that person must be a Union Plumber. Then as a consumer you are forced to hire a company that hires Union Plumbers, who pay Union dues, which support candidates you may not like.
    To wrap the whole thing up, if I don't like the political ties of a corporation I can choose to buy products from a different company, but if I want to get my toilet unclogged I'm forced to pay the Union.