Monday, October 12, 2015

The oligarchy of campaign cash brought into focus

This is an amazing team article from Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen and Karen Yourish that appeared in the New York Times on Saturday. It rips the mask off on who's really pulling the strings in our alleged democracy, and as you can guess, it isn't anyone you or I or about 99.9% of Americans associate with.

The authors note that 158 families and their businesses have already ponied up $176 million toward the 2016 presidential campaign, and not surprisingly, when you're paying that much, you're not listening to the candidates, the candidates are listening to you. This is especially true with the clown car of candidates in the Republican Party.
....regardless of industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs. While such measures would help protect their own wealth, the donors describe their embrace of them more broadly, as the surest means of promoting economic growth and preserving a system that would allow others to prosper, too....

In marshaling their financial resources chiefly behind Republican candidates, the donors are also serving as a kind of financial check on demographic forces that have been nudging the electorate toward support for the Democratic Party and its economic policies. Two-thirds of Americans support higher taxes on those earning $1 million or more a year, according to a June New York Times/CBS News poll, while six in 10 favor more government intervention to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly seven in 10 favor preserving Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are.

Republican candidates have struggled to improve their standing with Hispanic voters, women and African-Americans. But as the campaign unfolds, Republicans are far outpacing Democrats in exploiting the world of “super PACs,” which, unlike candidates’ own campaigns, can raise unlimited sums from any donor, and which have so far amassed the bulk of the money in the election.

The 158 families each contributed $250,000 or more in the campaign through June 30, according to the most recent available Federal Election Commission filings and other data, while an additional 200 families gave more than $100,000. Together, the two groups contributed well over half the money in the presidential election -- the vast majority of it supporting Republicans.
And it goes on from there, noting that many of these elitist of the elite live in the same communities, run in the same social circles, and truly believe they are special individuals deserving of better treatment (which makes you wonder why they need to pay off politicians to protect their position and give them more advantages if they're truly that special).

I was tipped off to this amazing story in this weekend's New York Times by the great Charlie Pierce, who wrote about it in his Esquire Politics column today, and Charlie also noted the silence of the Sunday talk shows on this story the day after it came out. It's almost like those in the corporate media depend on campaign ads from the SuperPacs set up by the super-rich described in this article, and therefore they don't want to give attention to the ridiculous levels of influence these handful of families have on our political process and the policies that exist as a result. Almost....

Pierce also reminds us of the absurdity of the reasoning behind the Citizens United decision, which allowed these SuperPACs under the theory that they were "independent" from individual candidates.
This is the only piece written so far on the 2016 elections that actually matters, because it makes clear and plain the fact that almost everything else written or broadcast on the subject resides in some vague narrative shadowland between fairy tales and theater criticism. And it also is a ringing tribute to the profound wisdom of Justice Anthony Kennedy who, as we never should forget, reassured us that:

"Independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of,​ quid pro quo corruption."
Noooooo, of course not. Scott Walker didn't drop out of the presidential race because he was losing donors right and left, but because he wanted to set a good example for the rest of the GOP, riiiight? And the Wisconsin Club for Growth shelled out $167,000 to help Rebecca Bradley win a Milwaukee County judgeship not because they wanted to help the Federalist Society hack advance in her career in the hopes that she would repay their favors after her buddy Scott Walker put her on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but because they had a massive desire to guarantee fairness on the bench for their few dealings in Milwaukee County. Suuuuuure.

Anyone wonder why Robbin' Vos and the ALEC-owned WisGOPs in the State Legislature are having a hearing tomorrow on a bill that would do away with the independence of the Government Accountability Board and coordinate unlimited dark money to go toward "issues" in Wisconsin elections? After reading that New York Times article, you shouldn't have any questions at all, other than "Why aren't we breaking out the torches and pitchforks on these politicians and their scumbag puppetmasters?"

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