Archive for the ‘elections’ tag
Barack Obama is way too far to the right to be my ideal candidate, yet in America’s binary system, there is no way I’d vote for anyone else. Mitt Romney is a travesty, and his sort of politician is anathema to me. When I was 22, I might have voted for the Green Party’s Jill Stein, but since the Electoral College matters in a way it shouldn’t – in an ideal world – I’ll cast my vote tomorrow for Barack Obama.
Wow! That would be great news. Not Thelonious Monk dancing (YouTube) great, but close…
For years, the IRS has done little or nothing to check the rise of overtly political groups that claim a special tax-exempt status in order to funnel secret money into election-related advertising.
But in a sign that the agency may be waking from its slumber, the IRS has sent detailed questionnaires to several Tea Party organizations — and possibly other political groups — to determine if they truly qualify for the 501(c)(4) designation intended for groups whose exclusive purpose is to promote social welfare.
Should any group currently calling itself a 501(c)(4) have its designation denied or revoked, tax experts said the consequences could be severe, including fines of 35 percent or more of the money they raised in secret.
And the groups might have to make donors’ names public.
The tax code requires 501(c)(4) groups to be operated “exclusively” for social welfare purposes — which does not include intervention in political campaigns. The IRS has allowed the groups to engage in political activity as long as it was not their primary purpose. But for many of these groups, it’s hard to see what other purpose they could possibly have. It’s also hard to see why a political group would file under section 501(c)(4) instead of under Section 527 — the part of the tax code explicitly designed for political groups including PACs and super PACs — other than to hide its donors. Like the C4s, the 527 groups are allowed to raise unlimited funds and pay no taxes. They just have to disclose who donates money.
Reform groups have been pressuring the IRS to enforce its rules for months. In February, a group of Democratic senators sent a letter to the IRS, which stated: “It is contrary to the letter and spirit of the statute for political organizations formed primarily to advocate for a political candidate or to run attack ads against other candidates to take advantage of section 501(c)(4).”
(click here to continue reading IRS May Make Political Groups Pay Dearly for Keeping Donors Secret — And Out Them.)
That is exactly why – hiding their donors from public scrutiny. The IRS shouldn’t drag their feet, but do this now, before the 2012 election…
I strongly support this legislation! If Citizens United gave corporations the right to speech, at the very least, citizens should know who is contributing the cash to fund political campaigns. Public companies eventually have to report such expenditures, but every corporate entity should have the strength of their convictions, and sign their name to policy they support.
Imagine if each of the vicious attack ads staining the presidential campaign had to name the five biggest donors paying for the propaganda, and end with an “I approved this ad” statement from the attack group’s chief operative.
This thin ray of sunlight is at the heart of a new House proposal to repair some of the damage done to American democracy by the Supreme Court decision allowing campaigns to be flooded with unlimited, and largely cloaked, corporate, union and other special-interest contributions.
The Disclose 2012 Act, introduced by Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, is a tighter version of the 2010 bill that was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster. The new measure would require disclosure of donor names within 24 hours for contributions of $10,000 or more — making it hard for “super PACs” and other money vehicles to take advantage of loose reporting deadlines. Union and corporate leaders and others would have to own up to sponsorship in their ads, while informing shareholders and union members how their money is spent politically. Lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club would also have to disclose their campaign spending more clearly.
(click here to continue reading Sunlight on Secret Donations – NYTimes.com.)
Via Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s website, this summary:
The “DISCLOSE 2012 Act”
THIS BILL HAS 4 MAJOR REQUIREMENTS TO IMPROVE THE DISCLOSURE OF CAMPAIGN-RELATED SPENDING BY CORPORATIONS AND OUTSIDE GROUPS. IT WILL:
1. ENHANCE PUBLIC REPORTING, BY CORPORATIONS AND OTHER OUTSIDE GROUPS, OF CAMPAIGN-RELATED ACTIVITY: All corporations, unions, other outside groups, and Super PACs will have to report, to the FEC, within 24 hours of making a $10,000 campaign expenditure or financial transfer to other groups which can then be used for campaign-related activity.
2. REQUIRE CORPORATIONS AND OTHER OUTSIDE GROUPS TO STAND BY THEIR ADS: All leaders of corporations, unions, other outside groups, and Super PACs that make campaign-related Ads, will have to stand by their ads and say that he/she “approves this message,”. In addition, this bill will require the top financial contributors to be disclosed in the Television and Radio advertisements.
3. REQUIRE CORPORATIONS AND OTHER OUTSIDE GROUPS TO DISCLOSE CAMPAIGN-RELATED SPENDING TO SHAREHOLDERS AND ORGANIZATION MEMBERS: Corporations, unions, and other outside groups will have to disclose their campaign-related expenditures to their shareholders and members in their periodic and annual financial reports. This would also require these groups to make their political spending available to the public, through a hyper-link to the FEC, on their websites.
4. REQUIRE LOBBYISTS TO DISCLOSE CAMPAIGN-RELATED EXPENDITURES IN CONJUNCTION WITH THEIR LOBBYING ACTIVITIES: All Federally registered lobbyists will have to disclose their political expenditures in their Lobbying Disclosure reports in conjunction with the report of their lobbying activities.
To read the full text, click here (PDF, 29 pages).
The Sunlight Foundation blogs its support:
The bill will create robust reporting requirements for Super PACs, corporations, unions and nonprofit organizations that decide to make campaign expenditures. It will also require reporting of transfers by those groups to others making such expenditures, to prevent the money laundering that makes it easy to hide huge campaign contributions.
DISCLOSE 2012 will also require ads to contain disclaimers by the top officials of such groups, similar to the stand by your ad mandates required of candidates. In addition, shareholders and members of outside groups will be informed of campaign spending, and lobbyists will be required to report their spending on independent expenditures and electioneering communications.
When the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case, it hung its hat on the theory that systems were in place to ensure unlimited corporate and union spending would be disclosed on the Internet. The Court was, at best, naïve. Because the Court created a whole new kind of spending, there was no disclosure system in place. (And the moribund Federal Election Commission would never be able to create such a system through a rulemaking process.) DISCLOSE 2012 creates that system of transparency and as such should receive wide support from members on both sides of the aisle.
Early primary spending has demonstrated that previously unheard of expenditures will become commonplace and overwhelm the 2012 elections. At a minimum, voters have a right to know whether the Super PAC that paid for an ad they just watched is tied to a candidate, or was funded by corporation or union with very special interests. Candidates will know who is footing the bill for ads that support their candidacy, even if such ads are technically not “coordinated” with their campaigns. With DISLOSE 2012, the voters will know too.
(click here to continue reading House Democrats Introduce DISCLOSE 2012 – Sunlight Foundation.)
These jokers are also not really serious about running for the presidency, though at least they went through the motions, unlike the other grifters we mentioned yesterday.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Friday evening and early Saturday.
The Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday that Gingrich and Perry failed to submit 10,000 signatures of registered voters required to get their names on the ballot for the March 6 primary.
“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10k signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the party announced on Twitter.
The rejection is a significant setback for the Gingrich campaign since he is leading the polls in Virginia among likely Republican voters and is seen as a strong contender for the nomination.
Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures, and Gingrich’s campaign said it submitted 11,050 signatures. State party officials spent Friday night validating the signatures.
(click here to continue reading Gingrich, Perry disqualified from Va. primary ballot – Virginia Politics – The Washington Post.)
compare and contrast to President Obama:
President Obama was the first presidential candidate to submit his signatures Dec. 2.
The Democratic Party of Virginia certified his signatures Friday. He was the only Democrat to qualify for the ballot so the State Board of Elections will cancel the primary. All Virginia delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be cast for him, said Brian Moran, party chairman.
My quick internet search didn’t yield an answer to this question: has this happened in the past? Has a party’s nomination ever been derailed because a candidate wasn’t organized to fulfill the requirements in a particular state? I’ve followed politics pretty closely my entire adult life, and can’t recall this happening before, but maybe my memory is faulty.
So, unless something changes, only Romney and Ron Paul are actually on the VA ballot. Can we stop pretending the other grifters are serious candidates now?
Seems strange not to do what is necessary to get on the ballot in VA, unless these candidates are actually not serious about running for president, and are just going on book tours, supported by other people’s money…
Four Republican presidential candidates – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Ron Paul — submitted paper work in time to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot.
No other GOP contender will be on the Virginia ballot. Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman did not submit signatures with Virginia’s State Board of Elections by today’s 5 p.m. deadline.
(click here to continue reading Bachmann, Huntsman, Santorum not on Va. primary ballot | Richmond Times-Dispatch.)
Can we please stop discussing these non-serious candidates now?
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that Rahm Emanuel is to remain on the ballot. I haven’t decided who I might support in the mayoral race, but am pleased with this result:
On Thursday, the Supreme Court’s seven justices overturned the ruling of the appeals panel, though two of the justices issued their own reasoning for allowing Mr. Emanuel to run. In the majority’s opinion, which was written by Justice Robert R. Thomas, a Republican, the justices raised sharp questions about what the appellate court had concluded, suggesting that such issues of residency had essentially been settled in this state for 150 years — until this week.
“Things changed, however, when the appellate court below issued its decision and announced that it was no longer bound by any of the law cited above,” Justice Thomas wrote, continuing later, “but was instead free to craft its own original standard for determining a candidate’s residency.”
The opinion repeatedly cited a case from 1867, in which an Illinois resident had been appointed as a judge, but had been challenged for not meeting a five-year residency requirement because his family had lived in Tennessee for eight months. That long-ago ruling — in the judge’s favor — focused on his intent (he refused to sell his Illinois law books, for instance), not on his physical location, the justices found. The same principles, the justice wrote, control Mr. Emanuel’s case, “plain and simple.”
Under the appellate court’s decision, the justices said, all sorts of circumstances would now come into question: Where does a member of Congress who spends several days a week in Washington reside legally? What about a state legislator?
“Under the appellate court’s test, considerable doubt would arise as to whether any of these people could meet a residency test that requires one year of ‘actually living’ or “actually residing’ in the municipality,” the majority wrote.
(click to continue reading Court Allows Emanuel on Ballot for Chicago Mayor – NYTimes.com.)
and from the WSJ:
Mr. Emanuel was born in Chicago, owns a house here and represented the city’s North Side for three terms in Congress before he moved to Washington in early 2009 to work for President Obama. He didn’t move back to Chicago until October.
Objectors cited his absence to disqualify him. Mr. Emanuel argued that even though he moved to Washington, he maintained his residency by renting out his house instead of selling it, paying property taxes, keeping his cars registered in Chicago and voting in city elections. He also stored family heirlooms in a locked crawl space in the basement of his home.
Mr. Emanuel further argued that Illinois law provides an exception for candidates who leave the state on business for the U.S. government. The appellate court ruled that a person running for office must be physically present in the city and the government exception applied to voters but not to candidates.
In their opinion, five of the Illinois Supreme Court justices chastised the appellate court for its “mysterious” analysis that it said resulted in “tossing out 150 years of settled residency law in favor of its own preferred standard.”
The justices said that under the appellate court’s analysis, congressional representatives living in Washington or state representatives living in Springfield would be constantly subjected to “confusion” with respect to their residency.
Instead, the court upheld the long tradition of using “physical presence” and “intent” when interpreting residency questions in Illinois. It also said that the only way to lose residency once established is through “abandonment” of the physical presence, also a question of intent.
In Mr. Emanuel’s case, the court said, he did not abandon his residency because his intent was clearly to remain in his Chicago house. “The candidate left many personal items in the Hermitage House, including his bed, two televisions, a stereo system, a piano, and over 100 boxes of personal possessions,” the court said.
(click to continue reading Rahm Emanuel Can Stay on Ballot, Court Rules – WSJ.com.)
I also object to the residency law on principle. Voters should be allowed to make up their own minds if a carpet bagger would best represent the interests of the city. Chicago should not have this silly paternalistic law on the books. Once in office, or serving as police or whatever, then perhaps1 residency rules could pertain: does seem to make sense that an Alderman should reside in the district the Alderman is representing, at least after the election. Would it really matter if a police officer lived in Gurnee, but worked in the Lakeview district?
But the one year prior to running rule seems a bit bogus, to me.Footnotes:
- maybe [↩]
In case you haven’t heard, last October Chicago’s Mayor-For-Life, Richard M. Daley suddenly announced he wasn’t running for re-election. Within a week, Rahm Eamanuel quit his job as Chief of Staff for Obama, and announced his candidacy for mayor.
He’s having some difficulties:
CHICAGO — With only a month to go until Election Day, more than $10 million in campaign money and an overwhelming lead in the polls, Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, was disqualified on Monday from appearing on this city’s ballot for mayor. A panel of Illinois Appellate Court justices, in a 2-1 ruling, found that Mr. Emanuel failed to meet a state code stipulating that candidates for mayor reside in the city they hope to lead for at least a full year before an election.
Mr. Emanuel maintains that his time in Washington, which ended in October, was always meant to be temporary and ought not affect his legal status as a resident of Chicago. He filed a motion with the Illinois Supreme Court late Monday to stay the appellate court decision and expedite an appeal.
(click to continue reading Rahm Emanuel Tossed Off Chicago Mayor Ballot – NYTimes.com.)
The decision was split 2-1. The majority opinion is seductively argued. Basically, they build upwards from the idea that the Chicago election law is conjuctive and not disjunctive—in other words, it is an “and” not an “or.” Where there is an “and” in a statute, that means that two distinct, non-redundant elements are necessary. The two elements in question here: (1) Is candidate a qualified elector? and (2) did candidate “reside” in Chicago for a year before the election?
The majority finds that he meets the first element but fails the second and, therefore, fails to qualify. The reason he fails the second, they argue, is because the legislature must have intended “reside” to mean something different from merely “have a voter-qualifying residence.” Here they draw a distinction between “constructively” residing (think of this as “residing as a matter of law”) and “actually” or “factually” residing (think of this as “residing in the common sense”). Emanuel’s attorneys anticipated this problem by arguing that he meets an exception to this requirement as he was away due to business on the behalf of the United States—typically considered a “service member” exception, i.e., you don’t want soldiers to lose their residency because of their military service. However, the majority doesn’t think this applies to candidacy but rather only to voting. Citing a case called Ballhorn, the majority holds in other words that legislators wanted candidates to actually live in a place in order to represent it:
Those [residency] requirements ensure “that those who represent the local units of government shall themselves be component parts of such units.” This intent of the legislature moved the majority to find that Emanuel failed to meet the intent of the legislators in creating these requirements. The majority is concerned, so they say, about the rules of “statutory construction” which require them to respect the legislature’s intent in writing laws. One of the basic rules of statutory construction is that courts shouldn’t assume words are superfluous or redundant, and that if something was included, it was included for a reason. If the legislature had merely wanted candidates to be qualified voters for a year prior to elections, rather than qualified voters who also resided in the district for a year, then they would not have made a distinction.
Importantly, the majority did not give a Rule 316 certification, meaning basically that they added a hurdle to Emanuel’s appealing their decision. Had they given the certification, it would have gone straight to the Supreme Court.
(click to continue reading Make Sense, Be Honest: Emanuel’s Ballot Access – Gapers Block Mechanics | Chicago.)
If you recall, Cecil Adams argued that Emanuel *should* be on the ballot, but we’ll see what the Supreme Court of IL has to say, as I’m sure the appeal is being furiously written right now.
Whether or not, Emanuel has further options is unclear…
What happens if the state Supreme Court declines to take the case or affirms the decision of the appeals judges that he cannot be on the ballot—and that would also mean, says Tenenbaum, that Emanuel would not be eligible to be a write-in candidate—can Rahm take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court?
“The only way to get to the U.S. Supreme Court is through a petition for certiorari, and [Rahm] would have to raise a United States Constitutional issue,” Professor Tenenbaum said. “I have not seen one, although he could try and argue that if residence has one meaning for voting purposes [Rahm has consistently voted here] and another for candidacy, it denies equal protection, but that would probably be a stretch.”
(click to continue reading Northwestern Law Prof on Rahm’s Prospects Now – Felsenthal Files – January 2011.)
With startling arrogance and audaciously twisted reasoning, two appellate judges ignored more than 100 years of legal precedent, invented a new definition of “residency” and ordered Rahm Emanuel off the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot.
With the election just four weeks away, the appellate panel voted 2-1 to reverse the decisions of the Chicago Board of Elections and a Circuit Court judge. It’s an adventurous, flawed ruling that has immediate and profound consequences. The case is headed to the Illinois Supreme Court, but the ballots are headed to the printer — without Emanuel’s name. Early voting begins Monday.
In a blistering dissent, Appellate Justice Bertina E. Lampkin accused her colleagues, Thomas E. Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall, of “careless disregard for the law,” and harshly criticized them for refusing to ask the Supreme Court for an expedited review.
Lampkin accused the majority of ignoring case law that clearly supported Emanuel’s argument —including a significant case in which Hoffman prevailed.
“The majority’s new standard is ill-reasoned and unfair to the candidate, voters and those of us who are charged with applying the law,” Lampkin wrote. The decision “disenfranchises not just this particular candidate but every voter in Chicago who would consider voting for him.”
…Instead, the two appellate justices twisted themselves into a pretzel to come up with an argument to disqualify him. Insisting that they had “no Supreme Court directive” on which to rely and hanging their hat on an interpretation found in a case they acknowledge “lacks precedential force,” the justices decided that the phrase “resided in” has one meaning when applied to voters and another when applied to candidates.
This distinction, Lampkin notes, “is a figment of the majority’s imagination” and “a standard that the majority just conjured out of thin air.” In the process, the justices disregarded a case that has guided residency rulings for 122 years, she wrote.
“An opinion of such wide-ranging import and not based on established law but, rather, on the whims of two judges, should not be allowed to stand,” Lampkin wrote. Amen.
(click to continue reading Rahm Emanuel knocked off mayoral ballot – chicagotribune.com.)
Cecil Adams wields his logic knife1, and slices, dices the controversy about Rahm Emanuel’s residency.
I appreciate and respect Rahm. Sure, he’s profane, but so am I when I’m not typing, and he’s got a great sense of humor. And I believe he should be on the ballot.
Still, there’s that nagging issue. It’s called the law.
Please, spare me the melodrama. While wacky things have been known to happen in Illinois courts, under any reasonable reading the law squarely favors Rahm.
(click to continue reading Straight Dope Chicago: Does Rahm meet the residency requirements to run for mayor?.)
Chapter 36, Section 3.2(a) of the Illinois Compiled Statutes includes the following provision:
A permanent abode is necessary to constitute a residence within the meaning of Section 3-1 [which says who's allowed to vote in Illinois]. No elector or spouse shall be deemed to have lost his or her residence in any precinct or election district in this State by reason of his or her absence on business of the United States, or of this State.
Nonetheless, it seems clear the Illinois election code is meant to cover similar situations: if you go to work at the White House, or become an ambassador, or perform some comparable public service, you retain your state residency during your absence. It’s not necessary to delve into who’s currently renting your house or any other such nonsense.
(click to continue reading Straight Dope Chicago: Does Rahm meet the residency requirements to run for mayor?.)
Seems pretty straightforward to me, especially since the main people raising objections seem to have solely political motivations.Footnotes:
- whatever that is, I assume my metaphor is not so obscure as to be confusing. I’ll admit to needing more coffee [↩]
Not sure if this changes anything, but amusing nonetheless:
George W. Bush’s bombastic return to the world stage has reminded me of my favourite Bush anecdote, which for various reasons we couldn’t publish at the time. Some of the witnesses still dine out on it.
The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.
Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.
Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”
Endorse Obama? Cue dumbfounded look from British officials, followed by some awkward remarks about the Washington weather. Even Gordon Brown’s poker face gave way to a flash of astonishment.
(click to continue reading Bush: “I probably won’t even vote for McCain” | Westminster Blog: The latest on UK politics | FT.com.)
More on why Russ Feingold losing his seat to a Tea Party Know Nothing is a travesty…
Civil liberties advocates lost a Senate stalwart Tuesday night when Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) was defeated by Ron Johnson, a little-known plastics manufacturer whose shibboleths against health care reform and government spending tapped into populist anger.
For years, Feingold was one of the few — and sometimes the only — voice in the Senate skeptical of the government’s increasing demands for domestic surveillance power and control of the internet. He was one of 16 Senators who voted against the Communications Decency Act of 1996, an internet censorship bill later struck down by the Supreme Court, was the only Senator in 2001 to vote against the USA Patriot Act, and he introduced a measure to censure President Bush for his illegal warrantless wiretapping program.
“Senator Feingold was a true champion of civil liberties,” said Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, based in Washington, D.C. “He spoke out against the Patriot Act and the dramatic growth of government surveillance programs when many other Senators stood by silently. His voice and his commitment to the Constitutional rights of all Americans will be missed.”
In 1997, before many Americans were online, Feingold set out to repeal the CDA, which criminalized sending “indecent materials” to minors on the net, even before the Supreme Court heard the case.
“One can be a speaker, a publisher and a listener using the internet,” Feingold said, years before the term Web 2.0 became trendy. “The threat of the Communications Decency Act is its undeniable ability to stifle this free-flowing speech on the Net.”
Feingold was a maverick in his own party, strongly opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and voting against the TARP bank bailouts. Unlike many Democrats, however, he embraced his vote on health care reform, saying there was nothing wrong with helping to get the uninsured health care.
(click to continue reading Civil Liberties Watchdog Feingold Loses Senate Seat | Threat Level | Wired.com.)
Well, that was a disappointing result, wasn’t it? Quite a somber mood today in Progressive corners of the country, in contrast to 2008 where it seemed as if we had finally turned a corner. Russ Feingold lost to some climate change denier, John Boehner is going to be the first orange Speaker of the House, and Harry Reid will still be Senate Majority Leader in all likelihood. Bleh.
I’m disappointed that the Democrats ran shitty campaigns, perturbed that Barack Obama has been so centrist and milquetoast that liberals couldn’t or wouldn’t rally around him, and even more discouraged that the nation’s electorate allowed themselves to be swayed by talking points, duped by false statements, and swayed by the gazillions of advertising dollars that flooded the election. Chief Justice John Roberts is partially culpable, with his judicial activist over-reach, allowing corporations1 to purchase elections for their minions.
California voted to keep the Drug War farce alive, Rick Perry won reelection as Texas Governor, the GOP is already planning to shut down everything beneficial to our country, except military spending, of course. Serial liar Mark Kirk won in Illinois, helped in no small part by the $8 million in outside money spent against Giannoulias. Alan Grayson lost, with a probable result that future Democrats will not speak frankly and candidly in the future about the Rethuglican juggernaut. Even the despicable Rick Scott and Marco Rubio won in Florida.
Bright spots? A few I guess, if you squint. Both Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman lost, California’s ridiculous Prop 23 lost, Barney Frank and Lloyd Doggett both retained their seats, and maybe Ken Buck lost to Michael Bennet.
Big sigh, in other words. Not to mention, the GOP/Tea Party are notoriously poor winners – cocky assholes when they lose, even worse in victory. Insufferable bastards, nearly each and every one. Since these tactics worked so well in 2012, I expect 2014’s election cycle to be even more toxic – more corporate dollars involved, more lies and liars, and our country will suffer.Footnotes:
Outside my polling location. On the other side of this demarcation, a Rahm Emmanuel volunteer was collecting signatures to put Emmanuel on the ballot for Mayor.
Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone1
In 2008, we voted with electronic voting machines2, today, the ballots were paper: selection of a candidate was made by using a pen and connecting a line from one side to another. Wonder what happened to the electronic machines? I’m happy, actually, to use the older style ballot, seems like it would be easier to conduct a recount with this kind of document as opposed to a digital record.
If you hadn’t heard, the increasingly partisan U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become one of the biggest funders of attack ads against Democrats, thanks to generous contributions from Rupert Murdoch, and elsewhere…
The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors. The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project. The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections.
(click to continue reading Think Progress » Exclusive: Foreign-Funded ‘U.S.’ Chamber Of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads.)
and the USCC is trying to wiggle past any critical news coverage with obfuscation:
In fact, neither the [Washington] Post nor the [New York] Times “refudiated” the ThinkProgress report. Both merely quoted Chamber of Commerce officials who only discussed the limited “AmCham” funds, only one of several avenues for foreign funding of the Chamber. Both articles recognized that there is no outside oversight of the Chamber’s money flow. “Money, however, is fungible,” the New York Times editorial board explained, “and it is impossible for an outsider to know whether the group is following its rules.” As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes, “The Chamber still hasn’t addressed in any detail the core allegation against it.”
Only Gillespie has made the “charge of illegal criminal activity.” Although it is illegal to solicit foreign funds for electioneering, the essential fact is that there are no disclosure requirements that provide oversight to know whether or not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is obeying the law. The Chamber successfully lobbied to kill the DISCLOSE Act, which would have closed the loopholes opened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
This all stems from the Citizens United case, of course, which is going to upend politics even more in coming elections, tilt the balance even more towards the wealthy. Pathetic, but we are rapidly becoming a third world country, with crony capitalism, an eviscerated middle class, etc. etc., yadda yadda.
Think Progress has a nice visual aid of what the USCC’s policies translate into: attack ads on Democrats.
I tried to find a list of the member companies of the USCC; I’d like to know them so I could conduct my own personal boycott, but they keep this information quite secret. As if they are embarrassed, or something. Remember, not long ago, Apple, Inc. resigned from the USCC over the USCC’s wrongheaded climate change stance. Who is left? I assume corporations like ExxonMobil, Home Depot, News Corporation, but who else? Oh yeah, even Exelon quit the USCC last year.
Sounds like the perfect task for former President Clinton: he seems to genuinely love campaigning, kissing babies and shaking hands. The Democratic Party would be foolish not to give Clinton free reign to create a Never-Ending, Traveling Campaign Circus. Give him a bio-fuel bus like Willie Nelson, and send him around the nation…
[Bill] Clinton is getting credit for helping to resurrect the candidacy of Congressman Kendrick Meek, who gave up his safe seat to bid for the Democratic Senate nod. Meek was the presumed nominee for months, but then he got hit with a free-spending challenge from real-estate billionaire Jeff Greene, who made his money by buying credit default swaps that rose in value when subprime borrowers defaulted on their home loans. The “meltdown mogul”—as Meek dubbed him—pumped roughly $25 million into television and radio ads and mailings to likely primary voters. Not surprisingly, he surged in the polls.
Greene’s spending overwhelmed Meek and it appeared that another wealthy newcomer—like California Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, California Republican Senate nominee Carly Fiorina and Connecticut Republican Senate nominee Linda McMahon—might beat a buy a nomination that had been expected to go to a candidate with more experience but less money.
When Meek was at his weakest point, however, Clinton stepped in to campaign for the congressman, stumping in a state where the former president remains extremely popular with Democratic voters.
Then came a series of revelations about wild parties on Greene’s former home in Los Angeles—complete with appearances by boxer Mike Tyson and Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss—and intoxicated romps aboard the billionaire’s private yacht.
The combination of Clinton’s campaigning—the ex-president attended five fundraisers for the congressman, sent two fundraising e-mails on his behalf, and then appeared at rallies in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties—and the sin-at-sea stories swirling around Greene shifted the dynamic of the race at the close.
(click to continue reading Sex, Drugs and Bill Clinton: Florida’s Ugly Senate Primary | The Nation.)
Clinton was never my favorite Democrat, but nobody can deny he is good ((usually) at campaigning.
All the talking head blather about the upcoming mid-term elections must be taken with a peck or two of salt. Are the Tea Baggers really going to sweep out the old guard?
Nothing has changed. The GOP is still a Southern regional white people party. From the latest NBC/WSJ poll:
The GOP has a HUGE generic-ballot edge in the South (52%-31%), but it doesn’t lead anywhere else. In the Northeast, Dems have a 55%-30% edge; in the Midwest, they lead 49%-38%; and in the West, it’s 44%-43%.
And there’s this:
Consider: 60% believe the current Congress is either below average or among the worst, an all-time high in the survey; the percentage viewing the GOP favorably (24%-46% fav/unfav) is at an all-time low; the numbers for the Democratic Party aren’t much better (33%-44%, and the “very negative” for the Dems matches an all-time high); nearly six in 10 say the country is headed in the wrong direction; and 64% think the U.S. economy hasn’t yet hit rock bottom (“Recovery Summer,” anyone?).
Everyone hates everyone in DC, but they still hate Republicans the most.
(click to continue reading GOP still a regional party.)