Thursday, October 10, 2013

There's too much money in politics. Your tax money, specifically.

A hilarious op-ed at the Los Angeles Times, with my commentary.

A liberal nightmare at the Supreme Court?

Three key high court cases that could dramatically shift U.S. constitutional law to the right are likely to hinge on the vote of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. 
By Eric J. Segall 
The Supreme Court will hear three cases during the 2013-14 term that might dramatically alter the landscape of constitutional law. Campaign finance reform, abortion and the separation of church and state are all on the agenda. When the dust settles, if the conservative justices hold sway, Americans could find themselves living in a different country. As has been the case in recent years, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's votes will likely be decisive in each case.
The irony is that the "different country" Segall refers to is the country Americans would have if they determined these matters by popular vote, rather than by what Justice Kennedy's mood is on a particular day.  
First on the docket is campaign finance. In Buckley vs. Valeo, the court in 1976 held that the dangers of corruption justify significant government regulation of direct campaign donations by groups and individuals.
When you give money to a candidate you like, it's "corruption".  When a politician gets elected and uses taxpayer money to buy off corporations and voting blocks, it's "liberal government".
But it did not allow the government as much leeway to regulate independent expenditures by those groups and individuals to advance the interests of a candidate or campaign. After Congress tried to place some limitations on the political expenditures of corporations and unions, the court, in 2008 in Citizens United vs. FEC, granted corporations and unions the same rights as private individuals to make independent political expenditures.
The Court found, to the astonishment of progressives, that corporations and unions were comprised of private citizens. After all, didn't the Constitution say specifically that none of the First Amendment protections apply to citizens acting in groups? Yea it did. Right next to the right to abortion.
The Citizens United decision, however, did not address the important distinction made in Buckley between groups or individuals giving money directly to a candidate or campaign versus the independent expenditures.
I feel so much better knowing that GS-15 Lois Lerners are parsing my contributions to make sure I'm not corrupting the political process.
All of that may change. In McCutcheon vs. FEC, to be argued Tuesday, the court will hear a case brought by a Republican donor from Alabama and the Republican National Committee challenging limitations on aggregate contribution limits to political parties and candidates. Although this case does not directly challenge the distinction made in Buckley between contributions and expenditures, conservative amicus briefs are urging the court to abolish that distinction and invoke the 1st Amendment to prohibit the regulation of campaign contributions 
Given Kennedy's long-standing antipathy toward campaign finance reform (he wrote the Citizens United opinion), as well as the other conservative justices' belief that money equals speech, this case could be the knockout punch that limits legislative efforts to reduce the corrosive effects of money on political campaigns.
Let's talk about corrosive effects of money on political campaigns.

First, there's the "corrosive" effect of individuals acting alone and in groups who contribute to help the candidate they support get his message to the voters. We need, of course, laws against citizen participation in politics, if we are to protect our democracy from corruption.

Second, there's the corrosive effect of trillions of dollars expropriated from taxpayers at gunpoint and trillions of dollars borrowed from China (to make up the gap when the working stones annually run short of blood) to purchase and suborn and bribe massive blocks of government-pre-ordered voters  (buy now, while supplies last!) to keep the North Pole district in Washington churning out the free checks in the mail, payoffs to compliant corporations, pork, free food, free cellphones, etc.

Your $40 contribution to your favorite pol skirts "corruption". The government's $40,000 annual contribution to their favorite voter, multiplied by scores of millions of voters,  or $500,000,000 contribution to their favorite corporation, to secure the re-election of... the government? Well, that's hope and change.
Not surprisingly, a host of public interest groups and law professors are lining up on the other side. Justice Elena Kagan is on record as being vehemently opposed to using the 1st Amendment as a blunt tool to stifle campaign finance reform.
Justice Kagan, who is "vehemently opposed to using the First Amendment as a blunt tool to stifle campaign finance reform", was a loyal employee of the Clinton and Obama administrations, where 90% of administration employees were employed to direct tax-payer monies expropriated at gun-point for delivery to appropriate and grateful corporations and voting blocks. Do you think the scrupulous future Justice spoke up about that at Cabinet meetings?

We have too much money in politics. Too much of your tax money, that is. 


  1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 10, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    This calls to mind the "discussion" I had with Hooter about Detroit. He read on some idiotic left-wing website that the problem with Detroit was "boom and bust capitalism". Amusing, I know, in light of this:

    Detroit’s municipal pension fund made payments for decades to retirees, active workers and others above and beyond normal benefits, costing the struggling city billions of dollars...

    How much each person received is not known. [no records were kept] But available records suggest that the trustees approving the payments did not discriminate; nearly everybody in the plan received them. Most of the trustees on Detroit’s two pension boards represent organized labor, and for years they could outvote anyone who challenged the payments.

    --- NYT (9/25/13)

    Naturally, some folks in Detroit are cruising for a bailout after handing out cash in wads. Detroit City Councilwoman, JoAnn Watson, demanded some "bacon" from President Lackwit:

    "Our people in an overwhelming way supported the re-election of this president and there ought to be a quid pro quo and you ought to exercise leadership on that," said Watson...

    "After the election of Jimmy Carter, the honorable Coleman Alexander Young, he went to Washington, D.C. He came home with some bacon," said Watson. "That's what you do."

    --- HuffPo

    Exactly. Just as Egnor says.

    Well, needless to say, the votes were cast and the "bacon" is on its way. At a time when the US is allegedly about to default on its bond obligations, the Chinese are muttering about their interest payments, the government is cutting off death benefits to the families of fallen soldiers, and Lackwit is threatening seniors with a suspension of Social Security checks,

    [T]op White House officials came to Detroit [with $320 million] and vowed to help the bankrupt city fight crime, improve mass transport and eradicate blight.

    Yeah. Better mass transit and blight remediation is what they need. How about high-speed rail? New art for the Renaissance Center? A hockey arena?

    1. Yes Admiral, it’s outrageous that poor people and struggling workers want the officials they elected to help them. Those lazy poor just vote, vote, vote, and expect things to get better. What were they thinking? Why can’t they be more like the billionaires giving millions to politicians while expecting nothing in return? Lazy bums.


    2. Ironically, it's the red states that receive federal subsidies.


    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 10, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Well, besides being a joke of an article (6 of the top ten states listed are blue states), this is even more absurd:

      [E]ven as fiscally conservative lawmakers complain about deficit spending, their constituents don't want to give up the Social Security checks, Medicare benefits, and earned income tax credits that provide a safety net for the struggling middle class.

      Then why do those "conservatives" continue to vote for people who promise and attempt to do just that?

      Son, if somebody shows up on my front porch with money, I'll take it. And when I take my Social Security, that will be no "subsidy". In fact, if you lived here you would know that high income Social Security taxes subsidize everybody else. If I had that money back and invested in even CDs, my monthly SS payout would be far higher.

      In fact, your goog doesn't even define what a "subsidy" is. Not all "spending" is a "subsidy". Here - let me read the dictionary for you so you'll be able to do crosswords when you're on disability:

      subsidy: a direct pecuniary aid furnished by a government to a private undertaking

      Federal spending on Interstate highways is not a "subsidy".

      Federal protection and tax benefits to ethanol producers is a "subsidy". Federal tax benefits to home mortgagees is a "subsidy". Free contraceptives are a classic "subsidy" to support a private undertaking. :-)

      But in any case, it has nothing to do with Egnor's point. I'm just having a little fun.

    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 10, 2013 at 3:08 PM

      re: Popeye's "poor people and struggling workers"

      Once a popular young politician, disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was ordered to spend 28 years behind bars on his convictions for racketeering, bribery, extortion and tax crimes.
      --- CBS Detroit