Archive for campaign finance reform

Are Corporations People or Not? If They Are, We Can Put Them Involuntarily In Conservatorship

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Corporations are people 2

Republicans, led by the vocal charge of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been saying corporations are people, too.

Then in 2010, the Supreme Court with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, determined that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to exercise their freedom of speech to buy elections and run our government.

In my mind, it's human beings that are people and corporations are strictly legal entities. And now it comes down to the distinction. Because if corporations are people, I want them treated that way.

If I make a series of bad, irrational or even questionable actions as an individual I can be deemed a threat to myself or others. I can be forced to appear in court and prove my competency or I can be institutionalized or made to report to a conservator. My rights can be taken away from me.

Using the Citizen's United ruling, can't we, as a stock holder (meaning someone with a vested interest in the well-being of the "individual) or purchaser of a company's product, petition the court and make them appear before a judge and prove to be competent enough to avoid supervision? Can you imagine the competency hearings that could spur on?

Outrageous, of course. That's taking the ruling way too far. But didn't the Supreme Court do the same thing?

They gave corporations the right to make donations large enough to sway elections and therefore impact my well-being. So why can't the shoe be put on the other foot? Just think about it for a minute.

show on other footThe reason there's local courts is to handle local issues, violations of laws. There are state Supreme or Superior courts to review those when justices may have made a mistake. There's Federal Appeals courts to review possible mistakes by Superior Courts. And there's the Supreme Court to review those possible misrulings. What happens when the Supreme Court makes a mistake? They can be guilty of that just as easily as any other court.

Well, like with your iPhone, we have an app for that.

MovetoAmend.org has been created to put some sanity back in America after the egregious Citizen's United ruling. They want to see it change -- recent elections have proven we need to take steps to protect our votes and now. MovetoAmed makes the argument is that with unlimited corporate money in the election process individuals rights are being trampled.

Remember Orwell's 1984 with big brother looking over our shoulder. We scoffed. Then come 2013 and Snowden's revealing the vast big brother of the NSA. It became reality.

So if you think corporate takeovers of this country isn't possible, you're naive.

Dissenting Justice Stevens wrote:

". . . corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

~Supreme Court Justice Stevens, January 2010

The video below demonstrates how we CAN and MUST take corporate and special interests out of political campaigns. It's really a hopeful few minutes, definitely worth a look-see.

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Tell Mitch McConnell, Three Strikes And You're Out

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three strikes

Two days ago, Mitch McConnell was invited into a closed door, very private meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office. The topic was the stalemate over the continuing resolution, or more specifically, a CLEAN C.R. The meeting was among POTUS and the majority and minority leaders of both houses. Small, exclusive group.

Afterwards the Speaker (John Boehner) and the House Minority Leader (Nancy Pelosi) went to the mic and the press with their thoughts on the meeting. The Senate majority leader (Harry Reid) also addressed the fourth estate. Of the four invited guests, only one was "asked" not to speak. It's not that he wasn't part the the meeting. It's that his party, specifically Boehner "induced" him to keep his yap shut because he's a questionable ally right now. He's Mitch McConnell. STRIKE ONE

Well, things didn't get much better for him the following day. He was asked to answer some questions up on Capitol Hill and he wasn't prepared. So he got an assist from Rand Paul. With McConnell hot wired, meaning his mic was on and recording, he was taped as he was being schooled in the Republican Party talking points from the junior senator. (See Laffy's Post here for video). And it seems neither knew what they were talking about -- so they both came across and wandering nomads in the desert of Republican fools -- laughing stocks on all media. STRIKE TWO

Now comes another day, another goof. McConnell asks the Supreme Court and receives their permission to address them on the topic of eliminating all limits on campaign contributions. The case SCOTUS is going to hear is on Oct. 8th, the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case, It challenges the aggregate limit on contributions by an individual donor.

In simple terms, this new case which McConnell is fronting, will ask the court to allow anyone or any group (see Citizens United case) to contribute unlimited monies to any candidate. Basically it's allowing the purchase of an office to the highest bidder.

Two groups promoting campaign finance reform, the Public Campaign Action Fund and USAction, have purchased air time in Kentucky,  Their ads aim to challenge McConnell to explain his opposition to campaign finance restrictions.

The Senate Minority Leader is going to have two Kentucky candidates licking their chops going after the senator over this ad. McConnell faces a GOP primary challenge from Matt Bevin. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is the leading Democratic candidate in the general election. You know you're in trouble when the same ad benefits your opponents from both your own and your adversarial parties. STRIKE THREE

If any of you folks out there have some empty boxes you want to get rid of, please send them to the senator's office. Looks like he's got a move coming up and with the government shutdown, packing supplies might be gone by the time the election rolls around, and he has to ready his office for this replacement.

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Hopelessly over-optimistic wishes for 2013

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Every January 1st,  the L.A. Times has a tradition of posting a list of their wishes, many which coincide with my own. Most never get fulfilled, some get partially granted, and others come true.

Here are a few samples from this year's "over-optimistic" wishes and hopes. Last year, five of their 27 dreams came true. This time the Times includes wishes for:

The almost unimaginably tragic deaths of 20 elementary school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut — at the hands of an emotionally disturbed young man armed with an arsenal of weapons — to finally prove the catalyst for action rather than just words when it comes to meaningful gun control legislation.

The IRS and the Federal Election Commission to put a stop to special-interest groups making a mockery of campaign finance laws by collecting and spending huge donations anonymously through PACs disguised as charities.

The U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8 once and for all, eliminating the ban on same-sex marriage in California. While they're at it, the justices should do away with the section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally wed in their home states.

Further progress in extricating U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, so that the U.S. and its allies can transfer responsibility for security to Afghan forces even earlier than the projected 2014 deadline.

The Supreme Court to reaffirm the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to clear changes in their election procedures with the Justice Department or a federal court.

Congress to hammer out a plan to overhaul the nation's dysfunctional immigration system that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million people who are already here illegally and also provide for enforcement of immigration laws at the workplace and along the border.

Congress to treat problems as problems, rather than opportunities to push the nation to the brink. Enough with the "fiscal cliff" and debt-ceiling crises. How about some genuine commitment to solving problems?

An end to congressional threats to defund Planned Parenthood.

More at the link.

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Letter: "I am a Republican. This year I voted Democrat. Why? It was their attitude."

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Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re “Obama again: Swing states seal second term,” Nov. 7

I worked as a poll worker in Santa Fe Springs for 15 hours on election day.

I was elated to see the young and middle-aged men and women, senior citizens and the physically challenged with their wheelchairs, walkers and canes — all taking the time to come to the precinct and vote.

I translated in Spanish for about 30 people, some first-time voters. Some were immigrants who had recently become U.S. citizens. One woman from Ecuador had tears in her eyes and thanked me for assisting her in voting.

Near the end, an older gentleman arrived with two young men. He told me: “They have to stop playing their games or watching TV. They need to come to vote. They are the ones who will inherit this country.”

Juanita Meraz
Santa Fe Springs

***

I am a Republican and have been for the last 30 years. However, I am an American first. This year I voted Democrat. Why?

Because the Republicans became the “Republi-cants” and “the party of no.”

I expect the Republicans to work with the Democrats. Not doing so is anti-American, and I am an American first. So if they want to know why they lost — it was their attitude.

Elliott Brender
Villa Park

***

It was with a deep sense of shame that I watched fellow Americans have to wait two to three hours to cast their votes. I waited five minutes to vote. This is a problem easily fixed by adding polling stations.

Doubly shameful is the use of the electoral system — antiquated and unfair to voters of all parties, a system that makes the votes of those in “swing states” more valuable than the rest of the country.

I suspect that these issues will not be dealt with until the day before the next election.

Robert Shapiro
Long Beach

***

Though I'm not ready to accuse the mainstream media of contriving a too-close-to-call presidential contest in order to bolster audience attention, I will affirm that my faith in American democracy has been fortified by the reelection of President Obama.

After all, how could anyone who has been awake the last four years not be aware of our president's hard-earned accomplishments?

As the campaign slogan said: Osama bin Laden is dead; General Motors is alive. One doesn't have to be a fastidious fact-checker to acknowledge that truth.

Indeed, with 303 electoral votes compared with Mitt Romney's 206, this contest wasn't even a particularly close one. Thank goodness.

Now the president can get back to the business of governing our nation without the distraction of a seemingly endless, often inane campaign.

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

***

Cheerleading for the failure of an American president and just saying no in Congress are not winning political strategies.

The silent majority spoke, and Republican/“tea party” extremism was rejected soundly. This is not a center-right country.

Alan Segal
San Diego

***

Some claim Romney lost because of the 47% remarks and Superstorm Sandy. During his concession speech, I could see the real reason he lost — there was no diversity among his supporters.

More than the dismal economic and social policies he wanted to implement, failing to recognize that the time of white control of government and politics is over alienated the new majority.

If the GOP continues to be led by the nose by the tea party, it will be as irrelevant nationally as it is in California. That's just fine with me.

Raul Valdez
Alhambra

***

If there were ever a case to be made for campaign finance reform, the amount of money spent on this election is it.

How many homeless shelters could have been provided? How many Head Start programs could have been funded? How many unsafe bridges could have been repaired or replaced? How many college scholarships could have been funded?

What a waste of money on all that campaign literature that went straight from my mail box directly into the recycle bin, unread.

The time for meaningful campaign finance reform is now. And it should come from a citizens committee because the politicians have no objectivity or interest in making meaningful changes.

Ed Hieshetter
San Diego

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Banks flood Mitt Romney's campaign with donations, 3 times more than to Pres. Obama, most skewed to one party in decades

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Big Banks overwhelmingly support Willard Romney as the GOP presidential nominee, but that was to be expected. After all, the guy bathes in cash and eats hundred dollar bills for appetizers (and he doesn't care who he hurts making his zillions). What's even more disturbing are the numbers, not to mention who they favor.

Via The Miami Herald:

Employees at the five largest U.S. banks by assets, including Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., had given Romney about $600,000 through the first three quarters of 2011, according to the most recent filings available from the Federal Election Commission.

The second-largest recipient of bank employee contributions, President Barack Obama, had far less, about $200,000, the Observer analysis showed.

Financial institutions really, really, really do not want to be regulated, which, of course, is why they should be. Doing away with financial reform, specifically repealing Dodd-Frank, has been a GOP mantra this election season, as Big Banks are doing all they can with their enormous donations to influence who does what:

Donations from commercial bank employees and PACs to Republican candidates for president and Congress made up 68 percent of the total so far. Should that pattern continue, it would mark the most skewed to one party the spending has been in more than two decades. For all of the 2008 cycle, bankers gave 52 percent of their money to Republicans. [...]

In Congress, commercial bank employees and PACs have given $5.4 million to Republican candidates, while giving $2.4 million to Democrats, according to the latest data from the Center for Responsive Politics. That's a 69 percent edge to Republicans so far.

According to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, between 1999 and 2008, the financial sector spent more than $1 billion on campaigns.

And now that the Supreme Court has gifted us with their lovely 2010 Citizens United decision, the Republican nominee's slogan should be, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

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Quickie- Democrats: Plus $21.4 million, GOP: Minus $17.5 million

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Today's Quickie, via the Miami Herald:

The Republican National Committee raised $19 million in the past three months but is still $17.5 million in debt. [...]

The Democratic National Committee raised $38 million in the same April-to-June fundraising period. The DNC has $21.4 million in the bank.

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, Chamber of Commerce, Koch brothers: $432089543890t480p92380934398.

Campaign finance reform: Priceless.

That was today's Quickie. Was it good for you?

 

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America needs Meg Whitman's self-serving $100 million.

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You know what makes me really cranky? Like, wanting to throw something cranky? Like, telemarketers better not mess with me cranky? Knowing that we desperately need campaign finance reform but instead, we're being blocked at every turn, aided and abetted by the Supreme Court's splendid little Citizens United decision.

What prompted my little burst of frustration?  Reading that a candidate for the governor of my own state is spending $531,378 per day on her own hateful little campaign trying to hide what a despicable, self-serving failure she is instead of that money going to people with needs... like food and doctor appointments and hospital stays and places to live and education.

Read it and weep... and weep:

The reports, which cover the candidates' expenditures in the five-week period ending June 30, show that Whitman spent $19.7 million in that short span, or $531,378 per day — most of it after the June 8 primary election. Brown, who had no major opposition in the primary, has spent $377,000 since the beginning of the year.

The Republican, who has spent nearly $100 million since launching her campaign, poured millions into TV and radio ads to attack her Democratic opponent and, after winning the nomination, to moderate the conservative image she projected in her primary effort. Her campaign also made extensive use of charter airplanes, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in bills.

She's some patriot, isn't she? Thanks Meg, et al.

And that is what makes me really cranky.

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