Tag Archives: Citizens United

A Wish List For 2018

There are several things I would like to see in the coming year.  The following, a not so modest list of them:

  1. I’d like to see the commercial media, print and broadcast, dismantle its long nurtured cottage industry employed in Clinton Bashing.  This has been an on-going activity for the last two and a half decades at least, and I’m finding it tiresome.  I am sure the chattering classes find it amusing to resurrect and inject their old talking points; and there’s a certain comfort in returning to old themes, much like one’s favorite blanket on the bed or pillow on the couch.  However, the plethora of Clinton columns a year past the last election, only indicates to me that Secretary Clinton is living rent free in several editorial heads.  Perhaps, it seems as though they couldn’t live with her, and now they can’t live without her.
  2. It would be pleasing to wake up some fine morning to discover a news broadcast in which the various travel and singular expenditures of the present administration are explored in some detail.  I recall an old bit of wisdom from the sheriff’s department about people who get caught criminal littering: One could be an accident, Two is an indication of trouble, and Three times and it’s deliberate.  Thus we’ve had a Health and Human Services secretary resign, which should have been a message to others — but, we now know the Secretary of the Treasury indulged in excessively expensive travel, followed by a Secretary of the Interior doing likewise. Were this not enough, we have a director of the EPA indulging in what gives every appearance of being truly excessive “security” expenditures.  What does he have to hide?
  3. A little patience is required for my third item: A thorough and accurate report from the Special Counsel.  Perhaps Trump’s opponents are hoping for too much, and his followers are hoping for an exoneration which is not to be.  Whether the President* himself was entangled in a web of deception and conspiracy is relevant but not, I think, the core of the matter.  The important point is that a hostile government, the Russians, sought to interfere, did interfere, and continues to interfere in our democratic institutions and practices.  The more important point is what we, as a nation, intend to do about it. This leads to my 4th wish.
  4. I wish for personal, professional, and tangential issues to be separated from the essential process of addressing Russian interference.  This will take more than beseeching private Internet corporations to “do their duty.”  Further, it will take more than a narrow focus on whether or not that interference had an appreciable effect on the 2016 election.  We need to know what the Russians did, how they did it, and what we can do to prevent “it” in future election cycles.  We need state and local election officials who are aware of the nature of Russian (and other) attempts at interference, who have the resources both in terms of funding and expertise to prevent meddling.  We need federal officials who will take this threat seriously and who will engage with state and local officials to be of assistance in these efforts. What we don’t need is a sham commission rehashing old conspiracy theories about “illegals” voting and fraudulent voting myths. What we do need is a task force with components from the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and the Intelligence Community to take foreign interjections seriously, investigate them thoroughly, and to make thoughtful, rational, suggestions for protecting our most basic freedom — the right to vote.
  5. We need the improvement and enaction of the Voting Rights Act.  Nothing is so central to our Republic, nothing so necessary to the health of our Democracy.
  6. We need a rational statement of what constitutes citizenship, and it’s not the legal fiction including a corporation.  The decision in Citizens United is a major problem for our system of government.  No, my friends, corporations are not people.  They may have property rights, and rights pertaining to their organization and operations, but they are not people — as in We The People.
  7. Wouldn’t it be fine to end 2018 with a new attitude toward rules and regulations. Corporate propaganda has generalized anything commercial interests don’t like into “burdensome regulations.”  However, there are some burdens we should bear with a sense of civic pride.  No, we do not wish our rivers to be polluted and our forests unnecessarily despoiled for profit. Nor do we want our elders placed in care to be ignored, mocked, and mistreated.  Nor do we want to eat contaminated food, or drink contaminated liquids. Nor do we want employers to allow, perhaps even encourage, unsafe working conditions.  Too often the generalizations have been presented to us as ‘fact,’ without a challenge from public quarters asserting the rationale for the rules in the first place.  Those challenges deserve more publicity than they are currently receiving.
  8. Although it’s an election year, wouldn’t it be beneficial if we were to receive more information about POLICY than POLITICS?  The failure to emphasize what a candidate is offering and to focus instead on poll numbers and other electoral data means that politicians are allowed to speak in broad, and often meaningless, generalities.  In this circumstance a politician becomes little more than a human megaphone, his or her popularity based on the cheaper expedient of polling than on a serious consideration of what is on offer.   Granted there have always been demagogues among us — but we really don’t have to encourage them.

And so ends this little list.  We can only hope.

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Filed under media, Politics, Voting

Council of Conservative Citizens and the Problem of Money in Nevada Politics

Earl Holt NV On August 21, 2010 the Friends of Sharron Angle received a $500.00 donation from one Earl Holt, Longview, Texas.  There was another donation from the same source on October 12, 2010, also for $500.00.  However, pouring money into Mrs. Angle’s failed campaign wasn’t Earl Holt’s only interest in Nevada.  On September 30, 2012 the Heller for Senate received $500.00 from the generous Mr. Holt. [LVSun]

Mr. Holt and his organization have come under scrutiny since the Charleston church massacre as the probable source of inspiration for the killer.  From the Associated Press, the Guardian, and Politico. And, now Senator Heller has announced he will give his prize money from Holt to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund. [LVRJ]

The donation is good news indeed, the bad news is that the $500 from Holt’s Hate Band has been in Senator Heller’s account from September 30, 2012 until June 22, 2015 without notice on the part of Heller’s own staff.

This says something about money in politics and Republican money more specifically.

Given the massive costs of running a statewide campaign, especially in the top echelon races, it’s comprehensible that individual donations of relatively small amounts wouldn’t be cross checked for provenance.  However, it’s not like the Council of Conservative Citizens is an unknown group. 

“The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South. Among other things, its Statement of Principles says that it “oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind.” Created in 1985 from the mailing lists of its predecessor organization, the CCC, which initially tried to project a “mainstream” image, has evolved into a crudely white supremacist group…” [SPLC]

Flags As the Republican Party has been co-opted or at least significantly  influenced by the ultra-conservative Tea Party membership, the origins of money are ever more likely to come from organizations which have dubious racial and ethnic agendas – i.e. white supremacists.

Our second “given” is that it is always easier to beg forgiveness than to ask  permission.  Several prominent members of the Republican Party have donated CCC money to charity in the last week, all presumably because the tainted nature of the origins came to light.  Granted this is speculation, but what IF by some miracle the killer in Charleston had not acted on his evil ideation? What if the basis for the hate wasn’t the propaganda of the white supremacist’s associations?  Would those donations still be available to the politicians to buy air time and advertising?

In an era of Dark Money, Big Money, PAC money, and questionable non-profit money – here’s some unsolicited advice:

Well coordinated campaigns have good lines of internal communication.  Policy advocates and specialists should know where the money’s coming from, and the finance specialists should be aware of the image the candidate wants to project.   If a candidate doesn’t wish to be guilty by association with white supremacist groups then that needs to be conveyed to the finance directors with an admonishment to screen donations which appear questionable.

Bluntly speaking, Citizens United, while beneficial to Republican candidates in terms of corporate donations, may have made it harder for individual campaigns to discern the ultimate origins of campaign donations, which when discovered could prove embarrassing – or career ending.  We have a current example – Rep. Scalise, his speech to a David Duke related organization, and Duke’s threat to reveal his connections to other politicians. [HuffPo]

When in doubt – there’s always Google?

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Filed under Angle, campaign finance reform, campaign funds, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics, racism

Here Comes The Dark Money

Dark Money Here comes the money – into the Nevada District 4 Congressional race:

“Crossroads GPS, a conservative group, said Tuesday it has bought $820,000 worth of TV time for ads to start airing today and run through Election Day on Nov. 4. A source familiar with the ad buy said it is aimed at Horsford, who represents the 4th Congressional District.

Paul Lindsay, communications director for Crossroads GPS, confirmed the group’s eleventh-hour spending plans for the campaign, which could be a game-changer, but offered no details.

“We have placed a buy in the Las Vegas media market and have an important message to communicate,” Lindsay said.” [LVRJ]

And what might the “important message” be? It’s that Representative Horsford is in the same political party as the President of the United States.  Horsford, the ads explain, supports the Affordable Care Act.  Yes, that’s the law which restrains some of the more egregious practices of health insurance corporations, requires that comprehensive insurance cover flu vaccinations, and autism screening, and makes shopping for private health care plans more convenient.   Then there’s the almost an outright lie.

The Affordable Care Act cut Medicare.” This prevarication has been one of the pillars of Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act.  Those “cuts” actually: (1) Close the do-nut hole in Medicare Part D prescription coverage until the ‘hole’ is eliminated in 2020; (2) Expands existing coverage for senior citizens; (3) Supports initiatives to support care coordination; (4) Does not reduce benefits from Medicare Advantage (the private option to Medicare); (5) Reduces payments to Medicare Advantage rewarding those providers who improve the quality of their coverage, bringing payouts in line with other areas of Medicare; (6) Helps protect the Medicare trust fund.  [OFacts]

The “cuts” were made to over-payments to Medicare Advantage providers which were higher than payments made to Medicare providers – in essence supplying the private Medicare option with a public corporate subsidy. “Your” Medicare (Advantage) benefits weren’t cut!  What was cut were unjustifiable taxpayer subsidies to private health insurance corporations.   And, maybe we should be reminded that those same “cuts” about which Rove’s Dark Money ads are caterwauling, are the same “cuts” which appear in  Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plans?

Someone doesn’t like “cuts” made to the public funds available to private health care insurance corporations.  Who might that be? We’ll not know because Crossroads is a Dark Money 501 (c) 4 which doesn’t have to reveal the names of its donors. [IBT]  There’s nothing grass-roots about Rove’s organization which takes advantage of the decision in Citizens United to cover the tracks of mega-donors.

“The large donations may renew questions from Sunlight and others about whether Crossroads GPS should be able to file as a nonprofit “social welfare” group under the tax code, allowing it to avoid disclosing donor names. According to IRS regulations, the group’s “primary purpose” cannot be influencing elections, but the group can spend up to half of its money on political campaigning.” [WaPo] (emphasis added)

This goes toward explaining why the GOP was so anxious to attack the IRS for “politicizing” 501 (c) organization decisions?  There are legitimate questions about the “social welfare” activities of organizations like Crossroads GPS, and someone didn’t want those questions answered.

Republicans may see an opening in Nevada District 4 and are willing to unleash the Dark Side Money into the breach. We can hope that the constituent services, and the person campaign style of incumbent Representative Stephen Horsford can overcome the money accreting to the Tea Party Radical campaign of challenger Cresent “Segregation” Hardy.  [NVProg]

Early voting has started, and the GOP base is out in force – as usual – Every. Vote. Counts. GOTV.

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Filed under Nevada politics, Rove

Coffee and the Papers

## There are some headlines that just really aren’t all that surprising, for example, “Nevada Ron Paul backers unfazed by RNC warnings.” [Las Vegas Sun] Hmmm, did someone think they would be?

## Should we go back to having a “War Department?”   Maybe we should, considering presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney’s selection of Neo-Con military and foreign policy advisers.  [Nation] A taste:

“Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. Many hail from the neoconservative wing of the party, were enthusiastic backers of the Iraq War and are proponents of a US or Israeli attack on Iran. Christopher Preble, a foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, says, “Romney’s likely to be in the mold of George W. Bush when it comes to foreign policy if he were elected.”

Oh, goody… just what we need.

## Uh huh, we know there are some people who will not vote for President Obam, and we also know why:

“He was like, ‘Here I am, I’m black and I’m proud,’ ” said Lesia Felsoci, a bank employee drinking a beer in an Applebee’s. “To me, he didn’t have a platform. Black people voted him in, that’s why he won. It was black ignorance.” [NYT] [TAWire]

##  Here’s a classic example of why it doesn’t do to sound off too early on foreign policy questions:

“A Chinese dissident has been given a fellowship at a university in the United States and will be allowed to leave China with his wife and two children, providing a possible solution to a diplomatic crisis for President Obama. The Chinese government is expected to arrange travel procedures for Chen Guangcheng, according to Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman.”  [The Hill]

Some adviser didn’t give candidate Romney a heads-up about speaking too soon, allowing the presumed nominee to say:

“It’s also apparent, according to these reports if they’re accurate, that our embassy failed to put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would assure the safety of Mr. Chen and his family,” Romney said. “If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama administration. We are a place of freedom, here and around the world, and we should stand up and defend freedom wherever it is under attack.” [BostonHerald]

Whilst candidate Romney was jumping the gun, Chen had not requested asylum, and the Administration and the Chinese government were obviously negotiating a deal that would allow Chen to leave China and not have to go through the asylum permission process.  Win. Win.   From the Department of Unsolicited Advice:  In diplomatic processes it is always better to restrain the lip and not shoot from the hip.

## Austerity never begat prosperity, and the French may be finding that out?  See: “The French Election and Austerity in the Eurozone,” The New Yorker. Local election results in Great Britain weren’t pretty for the Austerity promoting incumbents either.  [NYT]  Meanwhile, “Misery Builds for the EuroZone,” Reuters.

## Employers added 115,000 jobs last month (a number less than some Wall Streeters wanted) therefore we have the Administration chasing “analysts expectations.” [Bloomberg] And when we compare the Obama Administrations efforts with those in the Eurozone Austerity Sphere:

“The improvement in the U.S. contrasts with some of the other major economies. Joblessness in the 17-nation euro area increased to 10.9 percent in March, the highest since April 1997, from 10.8 percent a month earlier, data showed this week.”  [Bloomberg]

## A Citizens United tale if there ever was one.  Check out the chart indicating money flowing into the Scott Walker campaign coffers in Wisconsin. Note the number of $250,000+ donors and their locations.

## Chart of the Day:

This doesn’t have to be complicated.  Higher wages create demand. Demand means sales.  More sales mean more jobs.  Austerity never begat prosperity.

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Filed under 2012 election, Economy, Foreign Policy, Nevada politics, Obama, Romney