Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Money Democracy … what can be done? … by gimleteye

At EOM, we have put our magnifying glass on the distortion of campaign finance to serve an unreformable majority on the Miami-Dade County Commission. Ours is just one example, because the power of corporations to dominate the US political system is on display everywhere.

The winner in yesterday's special election for the Tampa area House seat in the solidly GOP district was Money. Money aimed to persuade voters that the enemy is government and that big business is your friend.

In the special election, there was $12 million of it. Money was the winner because "corporations are people" and people can't compete with corporations who represent the narrow interests of top executives and shareholders.

My GOP friends complain about the money of unions, but it's not even close to a fair comparison. For the radical right, unions are "bogeymen". Manufactured targets of opportunity, the same way "planners" at the state agency, The Florida Department of Community Affairs, were until Gov. Rick Scott decapitated the agency once and for all. To what end? To make it easier for corporations to profit from Florida's sprawl.

Here is a recent editorial from the New York Times: draw your own conclusions when it comes time to vote.

The Democrats Stand Up to the Kochs
MARCH 10, 2014

Democrats have for too long been passive in the face of the vast amounts of corporate money, most of it secret, that are being spent to evict them from office and dismantle their policies. By far the largest voice in many of this year’s political races, for example, has been that of the Koch brothers, who have spent tens of millions of dollars peddling phony stories about the impact of health care reform, all in order to put Republicans in control of the Senate after the November elections.

Now Democrats are starting to fight back, deciding they should at least try to counter the tycoons with some low-cost speech of their own. Democrats may never have the same resources at their disposal — no party should — but they can use their political pulpits to stand up for a few basic principles, including the importance of widespread health-insurance coverage, environmental protection and safety-net programs.

The leader of this effort has been Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, who has delivered a series of blistering attacks against the Kochs and their ads on the Senate floor over the last few weeks. In addition, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has set up a website,, to remind voters of just what the Kochs stand for, and why they raised $407 million in the 2012 election. And individual candidates are making sure voters know who is paying for the ad blitz.

“The billionaire Koch brothers,” says one of the people quoted in an ad released Monday by Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, who has been the object of one of their blatantly false television barrages. “They come into our town, fire a refinery, just running it into the ground, leaving a mess.” Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina reminds voters that the Kochs and their allies have pressed for high-end tax breaks that burden the middle class.

Mr. Reid’s comments have gone to the heart of the matter. In his most recent speech, he pointed out that the fundamental purpose of the Kochs’ spending is to rig the economic system for their benefit and for that of other oligarchs. They own an industrial network that ranks No. 14 on the list of the most toxic American air polluters, and got their money’s worth in 2010 by helping elect a Republican House majority that has resisted environmental regulation.

“That Republican majority is, in fact, working to gut the most important safeguards to keep cancer-causing toxins and pollution that cause sickness and death out of the air we breathe and the water we drink,” Mr. Reid said. “Without those safeguards, the Koch brothers would pass on the higher health care costs to middle-class Americans while padding their own pocketbooks.” He called it “un-American” to spend lavishly to preserve tax breaks and end workplace safety standards.

Republicans quickly rushed to the cameras to demand an apology on behalf of their benefactors, furious that anyone would dare interrupt an industrialist in the process of writing a check. But Mr. Reid made it clear no apology would be forthcoming.

What the Kochs want — and polls show they have a strong chance of getting it — is a Senate led by Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, now the minority leader, who promises in his latest campaign ad to “be the leader of the forces that take on the war on coal,” the most polluting power-plant fuel. Nothing could be better for the owners of Koch Carbon, and they are willing to spend whatever it takes to make it happen. But they are finally encountering some resistance.


Al Crespo said...

Dear EOM,

I gotta disagree that the culprit in yesterday's election was money. Money played a part, no question,, but Alex Sink was he BIG problem. She was a terrible candidate when she ran for Governor and that's why she lost. While I didn't focus too much attention on the latest race, I'm willing to bet that she was as terrible, if not a worse candidate this time.

Some people just shouldn't run for public office, and Alex Sink is one of those people.

Anonymous said...

We have to have a realistic view of yesterday's race. First, for the last 40 years that district has elected a republican congressman. That they elected another one just makes it 41 years. Second, that she lost by only about 3,000 votes is a miracle given their history alone. Third, given the amount of money that was spent by the republicans, it should have been a much larger win. Fourth, given that she was not from that community, she had to do a lot to mitigate that homey feeling and community relationships developed over many years that people enjoy with their members of Congress, particularly since they had one person serve them in that role for a number of decades. And finally, Bill Young was a very powerful member in the House of Representatives and over the decades brought back a lot of money to that community and to the state. It makes sense that instead of going forward, a few more people wanted to hold on to the security blanket, maintain what they could from his legacy, and questioned if she could approach filling the gap. It has nothing to do with ACA or how the midterm elections will turnout. People love ACA, and more and more are enrolling everyday. So, let's look at that race for what it really was. . .

Anonymous said...

Jolly won with a plurality of the vote, not a majority. That means that more than half the voters in his district did not vote for him. This says a lot for a district that is majority Republican. Less and less it appears voters are not casting along party lines. The Dems need to take advantage of that. The Dems also need moderate, progressive candidates.

Sink is a great person. I have sat with her several times. She keeps her own notes on a legal pad. In contrast with other politicians I have sat with who have an assistant doing everything.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Crespo too. Sink is a terrible campaigner. I'm not sure why because she is a very personable woman.

Anonymous said...

With women beginning to understand the massive collective political power they hold, she needs to stay in play. Perhaps an appointed position for a while. We have to get more thinking women running for office so that when an opening exists, they can run and win.