Sunday, April 19, 2015

Today's edition of the Destructive Influence of Money in Politics

Yesterday I took down the the spineless, two-faced Democrats in the Texas Lege who couldn't say no to the Fossil Fuel Mafia and their money.  We know that even as oil and gas companies lay off thousands in the midst of the most severe market correction in decades, and try to break the labor unions at their refineries, the CEOs get multi-million dollar raises.  This perverted way of "doing business" is all just another day at the office, and not exclusive to Houston's greasy, ivory downtown towers.  Here's a few more of the latest examples of the in-your-face corruption rampant among the oligarchy (I prefer to call it fascism, but that's just me).

-- Teddy Schleifer, the best the Houston Chronicle had at local political coverage (no disrespect intended to Mike Morris), has been snapped up by CNN Politics.  Their gain is our loss.  Best to Teddy, and don't be a stranger, dude.  Jeremy Desel, another local news standout, gives in and crosses over to do PR for NRG.  In the vein of diminished and corporately compromised political coverage, we're left with the TexTrib (a bad joke, I know).  But they did do us the service of providing this latest Texas presidential political consultant scorecard.  So kudos to Abby Livingston and Annie Daniel for that.

-- "Hacked Sony Emails Show Major Democrat-Turned-Lobbyist Urging Support for Republicans".  The co-author of Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act --  legislation that is being gutted even as this is written by Dodd's successors -- reveals his true self.

As head of the movie industry lobbying group Motion Picture Association of America, Chris Dodd—a former Democratic senator and self-styled champion for working families—urged film executives to give financial support to Republican campaigns for election to Congress.

“[W]hile loyalty to a person and/or party is admirable,” Dodd wrote in an email that was among those hacked from Sony, “we also need to be smarter about being supportive of those who are and will be in positions to make decisions that affect this industry.”

What's that whine I keep hearing from Democrats about their being different from Republicans?  More from The Intercept.

Dodd chose not to run for reelection to his Senate seat in 2010, after revelations that he had received a special discount mortgage from Countrywide’s “VIP program.” During his time in Congress, Dodd was a senior member of the Banking Committee, a position that oversaw mortgage lenders.

As he retired, he told the public he would not become a lobbyist — though he soon signed up for the job as the movie industry’s top lobbyist, a gig compensated at over $3.2 million a year.

Dodd’s call for Democratic-leaning movie industry titans to give money to Republicans reveals a simple truth in American politics: Though pundits regularly complain about a bitter partisan divide, those with power and money can simply buy support from both parties. Indeed, the tech industry and much of the movie industry have come together on many major issues concerning intellectual property and privacy, from trade agreements to new cyber surveillance legislation — with strong bipartisan support in Congress.

To think that I once seriously considered supporting Dodd for president in 2008 makes me ill.

-- Alan Grayson on Democracy Now! regarding the dude who flew his gyrocopter to the DC Capitol carrying a message.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Grayson, I assume you heard the story of the gyrocopter that landed on the White House lawn [Capitol lawn]. This mailman named Doug Hughes, basically a flying bicycle, landed on the lawn. He expected to be blown out of the air. But he said he was doing this for campaign finance reform. He had a letter to every member of Congress. I want to ask you, how much does the money that is going to your fellow Democrats and Republicans determine their support for TPP?

REP. ALAN GRAYSON: That’s right. I’m the only member of the House of Representatives who raised most of his campaign funds in the last election from small contributions of less than $200. Thousands of people came to our website,, and made contributions. I am one—one—out of 435. On the other side of the building, over at the U.S. Senate, there’s only one member of the U.S. Senate who raised most of his campaign from some small contributions. That’s Bernie Sanders, who you heard earlier in this broadcast. That tells you something. In fact, to a large degree, in both parties, because of the absence of campaign finance reform, the place is bought and paid for. And the only question is: Do the members stay bought? That’s what the corporate lobbyists stay up late at night wondering about: Is that member going to stay bought?

Now, I was actually in the courtroom when this disastrous Citizens United decision was decided five years ago. Mitch McConnell was two seats to my left. We were the only public officials who were in the courtroom. Mitch McConnell was the happiest I have ever seen him that day. He was literally chortling when the decision was rendered. And I said on MSNBC that night five years ago that if we do nothing, you can kiss this country goodbye. Well, pucker up, because right now the millionaires and the billionaires and the multinational corporations are calling the shots with whatever they want in TPP, whatever they want in fast track—more generally, whatever they want. They get the bailouts. They get the tax breaks. They get the so-called deregulation. They get what they want here because they get what they pay for.

--  An excerpt from the letters Doug Hughes was carrying.

The various mechanisms which funnel money to candidates and congress-persons are complex. It happens before they are elected, while they are in office and after they leave Congress. Fortunately, a solution to corruption is not complicated. All the proposals are built around either reform legislation or a Constitutional Amendment. Actually, we need both — a constitutional amendment and legislation.

There will be discussion about the structure and details of reform. As I see it, campaign finance reform is the cornerstone of building an honest Congress. Erect a wall of separation between our elected officials and big money. This you must do — or your replacement will do. A corporation is not 'people' and no individual should be allowed to spend hundreds of millions to 'influence' an election. That much money is a megaphone which drowns out the voices of 'We the People.' Next, a retired member of Congress has a lifelong obligation to avoid the appearance of impropriety. That almost half the retired members of Congress work as lobbyists and make millions of dollars per year smells like bribery, however legal. It must end. Pass real campaign finance reform and prohibit even the appearance of payola after retirement and you will be part of a Congress I can respect.

The states have the power to pass a Constitutional Amendment without Congress — and we will. You in Congress will likely embrace the change just to survive, because liberals and conservatives won’t settle for less than democracy.

Read the entire letter.  He wrote one for each member of Congress.

I don't think it's anything to get yourself killed over -- or even kill yourself over -- but it's apparent to me that the day is coming when it might have to be.  If our leaders keep failing us.

Peaceful revolution or something less so.  It's up to them.

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