The Watering Hole, Thursday, June 21st, 2012: $$$$

(R)Money emailed me the following opinion piece, summarizing much of the wrongness which is the result of the SCOTUS’ “Citizens United” decision. I don’t think I could add much to this:

The Best Government Money Can Buy

Tuesday, 19 Jun 2012 10:35 AM
By Susan Estrich

“My friend Kathleen and I have had a running debate for decades now about whether it is possible to bring reform to the marriage of money and politics.

I’ve been in favor of all kinds of regulations (including those that as a campaign manager I drove a truck through) limiting the role of money, and wealthy donors, in elections.

Kathleen has argued from the beginning that “my” limits wouldn’t work in practice and shouldn’t survive constitutional scrutiny in theory, and that the best and only workable system is one that allows unlimited contributions but requires immediate disclosure. [Personally, I think that Kathy is completely wrong: “immediate disclosure” is unworkable and probably unenforceable.]

And now we’ve both lost.

My failure is, of course, the most apparent. The regulations haven’t worked. You could blame the Supreme Court for making it impossible (You can’t have regulation if it isn’t comprehensive, and you can’t be comprehensive with all these Super PACs and independent committees operating outside the system.), or you could argue that with so much at stake, people will always find loopholes. In either event, it is clear that the so-called limits on campaign contributions only limit those who don’t want to contribute even more.

People are spending six and seven and now eight figures — eight figures! — to support their candidates.

This might be fine (or at least better than total failure) if we had full disclosure of who was spending what on whom. We don’t.

Today’s news accounts of record spending are based in part on the decision by Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson to contribute some $10 million to a Mitt Romney Super PAC, bringing their contributions to date to a total of $35 million in this presidential race. That’s a lot of money. But at least the Adelsons are upfront about what they are doing.

In fact, there are other groups collecting money out there, in just as large chunks, who are not revealing who is giving it to them. No disclosure. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in the landmark Citizens United case (which turned on the spigot of unlimited corporate cash) went on and on about the value of disclosure — but guess what. This campaign season, you can give millions to an organization like American Crossroads (aka Karl Rove’s group) and remain anonymous.

No accountability. No disclosure. And therefore, no ability to find out exactly what anyone is getting for their money.

Make no mistake: Published or not, candidates know who’s helping them, particularly when it gets to seven or eight figures.

Forty years after the infamous 1972 election, the election in which cash changed hands in exchange for favorable treatment by regulators, the election that spurred reform of our campaign finance system, we have returned to where we were — but with many more zeros, greater sophistication and no guarantee of disclosure. And whoever wins this election probably won’t change a system that worked for him or her, either at the presidential or congressional level.

Decades ago, when I first thought about running for office, what turned me off was the amount of time my friends who were candidates had to spend raising money. Politics, I understood, is not for people who like policy, but for people who excel at selling: cars, encyclopedias, themselves.

In the years since, a bad system has gotten worse than I ever could have imagined. It’s not just that the numbers have sprouted zeros, but that we’ve lost all vestiges of post-Watergate shame. Nothing embarrasses anyone.

Back in the 1988, when I explained the rules (antiquated now) about raising soft money and creating a party-based Victory Fund that could accept unlimited contributions, Michael Dukakis looked at me aghast (could I possibly be right?) and said he simply wouldn’t be comfortable with someone donating more than $250,000. He understood, as any honest pol will admit, that when someone is giving you that kind of money, how could your judgment not be affected?

Today, $250,000 is kid stuff.

And here’s the worst part. From all I know, the Adelsons care deeply about public policy issues, including support for the state of Israel. They have so much money that they don’t really need anything in exchange. But for many of those giving, a six-, seven- or eight-figure contribution is peanuts compared to the benefits they stand to reap if their favored candidate is elected.

The best government money can buy. And we don’t even know who is doing the buying.”

Yup…what she said.

This is our daily open thread — I’m sure that all of you have something to say, so have at it!


116 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Thursday, June 21st, 2012: $$$$

      • The Teabaggers and the Bug-f***-crazies from Planet Paul agree with us on this one issue …. now if only they could leave off with the ‘Sheriff is a N*****!’ bullshit and get into the streets with us on this *one* thing!

  1. “We” are doing the buying, every time we vote for a candidate because s/he/it is “pro life” or “pro guns” or “against taxes.” A vast majority of Americans have been raised to choose a candidate based solely on his or her stand on those three issues, and nothing else. Anything else is too complicated, anyway. Right?

    Ok – add gay marriage to the group. And anti-immigration. Just keep it simple, keep it white, keep it “christian” and you get the vote of about a third of the electorate. They buy it.

    It will be interesting to see if all this money results in overkill. Could there be a point of diminishing returns, where more money does little to add to the vote for the “chosen one”? Could there be a point where too much advertising actually creates a backlash, and diminishes the vote for the “chosen one”?

    This election is one for the sociologists. There could be a few PhDs coming out of this.

    • I think it is entirely possible to make the case to the voters that billionaires are trying to own the government. Spending large sums on the campaign didn’t help Fiorina, Whitman, or McMahon, and that was in a wave election.

      • the president demonstrated just how powerful a few sentences can be against the hundreds of millions of dollars spent. his immigration speech swung Hispanic voters almost 30 points….

    • It’s a good point. All these ads must state who paid for them. If the ad doesn’t say approved by Obama or Romney, then it is a propaganda ad. The public may get tired of them. I remember years ago, a person was running for a county judge position and she sent out multiple robo calls to the same people. As I was working outside the polls handing out literature, I had several people say to me that they were NOT going to vote for the person that sent all the robo calls. People were angry.

      • There are dirty tricks in this area as well. Some candidates will intentionally robocall with their opponent’s name and message for just that reason – that it makes people mad and hence turns voters against the robocaller.

  2. Here’s a primer on the laws around this wholesale SCOTUS-approved corruption:×2900602

    And here’s a ‘fun game’ from the NYTimes – play to learn how to subvert your democracy…. includes the fun fact that as a ‘social advocacy’ group or 501 c4 (such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads SuperPAC), you can give as much as you like, for them to ‘educate the public’ about an issue (‘gay people are perverts – now you know’ – or to be ‘fair and balanced’ the controversial David ‘Betrayus’ Petraeus ad). And guess what? 501 c4s don’t have to say anything about where the money comes from – you don’t know who’s hands are up Karl Rove’s ass when he’s on Fox News spewing his fascist trash.

    “And whoever wins this election probably won’t change a system that worked for him or her, either at the presidential or congressional level.”

    As I was trying to say in my post the other day, *that’s* why it’s irreversible – no one who will be (s)elected from 2012 onwards will be so without being bought-and-paid-for by the money that be benefits from the law.

    Some future Edward Gibbon might reach into the history of outr times and call the Citizens United decision the day that America’s democracy ‘crossed the Rubicon’ – ‘or Jumped the Shark’ – take your pick…..

  3. My BIL works for Adelson as an attorney. He told me that Adelson treats his employees like crap.

    Since we don’t know where all this money is coming from, we can start rumors by asking questions like, “Is it true that the Chinese government contributed millions of dollars to Karl Rove’s pack?” or something similar and just start passing these “questions” around the Internet. This is how rumors start with “whisper down the lane”. You start by asking a question which eventually turns into a statement.

    We must be on the offense with these creeps. President Obama is good on offense. He boxed Romney and the Republicans into a corner with his immigration policy.

    • Questions you’ll never hear on Fox:

      “Who the f**k pays you Karl to say the sh*t you come up with?”

      And you’ll never hear it anywhere else because Karl doesn’t show up anywhere else….

      • Fox is the ONLY place where Rove is welcomed.

        So let’s come up with some questions? Where do you think the money comes from? Saudi Arabia? Israel? We have no idea if this money is coming from outside the United States.

        • its not Israel, there are enough Christo-fascists backing Israel to bring back Jesus for them over here (Adelson). The Saudi-Fox connection *should* be a slam dunk …. I bet there’s a bunch more from the Gulf states (Halliburton is a Dubai corporation, don’t ya know?). Then for the big multis, Exxon etc, the amount of income/shareholders from overseas ought to count? China – no mugs in China, they are probably playing both sides to keep the trade regulations loose.

    • Yes, I heard, just the other day that Rove is gobbling Saudi knobs for 2 mil a job…

  4. You know this issue is the one this the Teabagger/Crazy from Planet Paul in your family and you agree on …..

    …. all you have to do is figure out a way to explain to them that they are being brainwashed and that they want to be helped…..

  5. In the great Ayn Rand tradition, Ron Paul gets Social Security Checks while he preaches that it is unconstitutional and says YOU shouldn’t get it.

    • Sessions attitude about potential fraud supports what I said the other day about cons would rather not help those in need if anyone can cheat and get something they shouldn’t qualify for.

    • Couldn’t resist leaving a comment. Some twit wrote that he’d been looking forward to the show because Bristol is a “normal person.”

    • I suppose she coud always go the Kim Kardashian / Paris Hilton road and ‘make a video’…. ? Would appeal to the ‘Male 15-30’ demo?

      • I could be wrong but even with her extensive reconstruction project I don’t see Bristol as bait for young men. Of course, Kim and Paris are both repellent pigs so I probably am wrong.

        • I don’t think you are wrong. This woman is going to be a grandmother in another 14 years, who’s gonna be interested in that?

    • They can have all the reality shows they desire. I’ll stick to actual reality. It will not be hard to never see any Palin on any show.

    • But wait! Todd is going to be on a Game show, too. The show will be called “Stars Earn Stripes” and be hosted by General Wesley Clark…

      I’m not kidding.

    • I wonder if my Christo-fascist BIL in Toledo is planning on voting for this ignoramus in November …. what a fascinating exercise in wilful stupidity this man and anyone who supports him are conducting.

    • Who knew so many people are fluent in ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew? Or do they think Jesus spoke English?

    • Found this entertaining from the bible site:

      NIV Waterproof Bible – Camo: Sportsman Edition

      review: Because its waterproof the highlighter smears everywhere

      BOTTOM LINE Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Joe…shared the story of his conversion to Christianity at a Frisch’s Big Boy.


    • I found it amusing. Science textbooks are revised in light of new information. The Bible? Not so much.

  6. $1.1B in rebates from health insurance companies that did not spend the ACA-required 80% of subscriber premiums on healthcare expenses…12.8 million Americans will receive rebates this year, with an average value of $151 per household

    (rebate subject to SCOTUS approval; your mileage may vary)

  7. Aetna Hides $7 Million in Political Spending; Crew Calls for Greater Disclosure

    …Aetna has contributed more than $3.3 million to the American Action Network (AAN) and nearly $4.5 million to the Chamber of Commerce.

    AAN is a shadowy 501(c)(4) organization that broke both tax and campaign finance laws in its quest to influence the 2010 elections, and the Chamber is one of the biggest political players. While corporations traditionally pay dues to the Chamber, in 2010 Aetna reported dues of just $100,000 – almost $4.4 million less than Aetna contributed to the Chamber in 2011. These payments indicate Aetna surreptitiously has spent well over $7 million to influence Americans at the polls.

  8. The stupid. It hurts.

    Yes, Iraq Definitely Had WMD, Vast Majority Of Polled Republicans Insist

    How misinformed are Republicans about world affairs? If presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s assertion that Russia is “without question our number one geopolitical foe” is any indication, then the answer would appear to be very.

    A new poll supports that theory.

    The poll, constructed by Dartmouth government professor Benjamin Valentino and conducted by YouGov from April 26 to May 2, found that fully 63 percent of Republican respondents still believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003. By contrast, 27 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats shared that view.

    • The ones that Saddam gave to Assad that he’s been using on his own people …. oh wait he hasn’t ….

  9. Of course, assuming this isn’t a lie, had Zimmerman not chased down Martin in the first place… NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

    So when do we get to hear Trayvon’s version of what happened? Oh, that’s right. Never.

    George Zimmerman’s Reenactment Of Trayvon Martin Shooting (VIDEO)

    Zimmerman said Martin had been on top of him, slamming his head against the ground and smothering his mouth and nose with his hand and arm. The tape shows two butterfly bandages on the back of Zimmerman’s head and another on his nose. There are red marks on the front of his head.

    “It felt like my head was going to explode,” he said.

    • The truly strange part of this is you have a Rambo/Walker wannabe getting his ass handed to him by a 17 year old. I really want to see him try to sell that one to a jury.

    • Prosecutor: “Mr. Zimmerman, at what point in your duties did you feel that as an armed self-appointed neighborhood watch captain your life was endangered by a teenager with Skittles?”

    • They are really gonna shit themselves when they see the rebates coming from the health insurance companies thanks to ACA.

  10. One political party is living in an alternative reality.

    63 percent of Republicans in a new poll believe that Saddam Hussein had WMDs when we invaded in 2003, despite even George W. Bush’s acknowledgment that he didn’t. 64 percent also believe that Barack Obama was born in a foreign country, even though we have the long-form birth certificate from Hawaii. This alternate reality is sustained by a 24 hour propaganda network, and hermetically sealed in a bubble, impervious to an intervention.

    We are reaching a democratic crisis of some sorts. One major political party refuses to accept empirical truths:

  11. Just talked to my RW salesman buddy who was telling me that public sector unemployment is at around 4% while private sector is at 8+%. First time I have ever heard of public sector UE rate but it sounds bogus as hell.

    • Next time I stop at the light to chat with the Vietnam vet with a sign on the corner – I’ll ask him if he’s public or private sector…. let’s get some data here.

    • Oh dear me – that’s frightening.
      Why the hell would ‘dear old dad’ think that’s a grand idea?
      As if motorist would be looking out for a toddler in a drinks crate!

  12. How do they even count that? Once you’re not working, you’re just unemployed. Past work history doesn’t reflect if your next job will be public or private.

  13. So….The Dow Jones lost 250 points today. Gotta wonder if the word is out on the Wall st that the SCREWEDUS has decided to strike down the entire HCRA…??


    • The Repubs have ideas for health care if the SC nails ACA. They are all the same ideas that have been working but put forth by the Repubs!

    • Yeah And the jobs they refuse to create. Unless there’s a real future in womb control specialists///

  14. Bad news for Romney: 18% of Americans won’t vote for a Mormon. Good news for Romney: 43% of American’s don’t know what his religion is.

    Our dumb country.

    • Mormons are just like everyone else. Except they think God lives on another planet. And black people really aren’t people. And multiple marriages are sort of ok. And Jesus visited America.

      Ok, they really aren’t like everyone else.

    • I think she’s pissed as hell, and she knows she should have hauled in Rove’s ass when we told her to.

      Faiz may have reminded her of that. 😉

  15. Out of all I’ve read and watched about the Fast and Furious ‘gunwalking’ case, did anybody ever throw the Reich’s words back in their face, that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’? The killer may have had an F&F weapon, but had it not been one from our agents, the killer still would have had a lethal weapon and used it.

    • As long as Issa fails to call in Mukasey et al to testify about F&F, this whole thing has nothing to do with F&F or the dead agent. It’s about trying to delegitimize the Obama administration.

    • I remember about a year ago, my congresscritter writing an editorial in the local paper lamenting why the the F&F case hadn’t caught fire with the public… they have been after Obama with this for a long time.

      • I kept reading about F&F on troll comments on TP and TPM, but as far as I could tell it was only Fux harping on the story, so I ignored it. Seems like I was right to do so, but this Issa creep is really out of control.

        • I am mystified why they would target the administration that ended the program rather than the administration that started it… oh wait. Issa is a Republican.

        • “this Issa creep is really out of control”
          I hope he doesn’t take to stealing cars again.

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