Swift Yachting Democracy

While Tea Bagging Republicans are trying to convince every one that elections are being stolen by imaginary illegal voters,  a finger bowl full of billionaires are buying up air time via Super Pacs to up the negative ad volume to 11. Here are some shocking facts from MoJo.

The 2012 elections are on track to be the nastiest in recent memory. By the tail end of primary season, in May, 70 percent of all presidential campaign ads were negative, up from a mere 9 percent at the same point in 2008. The culprits for this spike in attack ads were super-PACs and shadowy nonprofits, which together dominate the growing universe of outside political groups poised to spend billions of dollars this election season.

Now a new report from the liberal think tank Demos and the nonpartisan US Public Interest Research Group has revealed how what has been called a “tsunami of slime” is funded by a tiny cadre of wealthy donors.

Just 1,082 donors—a group small enough to fit inside a single high school gymnasium—accounted for 94 percent of all individual donations to super-PACs from January 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Those 1,082 donors amount to just 0.00035 percent of the US population.

I’ll just pause a second here while you  mull those last two sentences over …

So, Romney is looking more and more like the loser these days so you ask, what will all this money do when it’s basically betting on another Romney that can’t even deliver a bronze?  Well, how about this thought from Digby?

Romney may very well lose and everyone will say this shows that they failed, despite all their money. But these PACs and 501cs are not just about the presidential race. They are spreading this money around from the top of the ticket all the way to local races and their themes and talking points are all coordinated. I doubt they ever really believed this election was a shoo-in (or even really wanted to rock the boat — it’s not as if they haven’t been doing very, very well under Obama.) But they are setting up a system for the future:

During sessions of the “Weaver Terrace Group,” representatives of the embryonic Crossroads organization gathered with counterparts from groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Tax Reform, and Americans for Prosperity, the funding vehicle affiliated with the billionaires David and Charles Koch. Crossroads served as referee, says CEO Law. “Conservative activists tend to act like six-year-olds on soccer teams,” he explains, “with everyone grouping around the ball and getting in each other’s way. Karl’s idea was that all of these organizations should share information, coordinate polling, reduce redundancy.”

Together with a follow-on ruling by the federal appeals court in Washington, Citizens United knocked several crucial holes in McCain-Feingold. Corporate and union money, for example, could now be used without restriction for “electioneering communications,” meaning radio and TV ads that mention a candidate’s name within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.

More important than the incremental increase in campaign-law porosity, though, was the passionately phrased celebration by Justice Anthony Kennedy of political spending in its manifold forms. Kennedy’s majority opinion declared that “the appearance of influence or access … will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.” Kennedy continued: “The fact that a corporation, or any other speaker, is willing to spend money to try to persuade voters presupposes that the people have the ultimate influence over elected officials.”

In Kennedy’s syllogism, democracy benefits from more speech. Political money is speech. Therefore democracy benefits from more political money.That’s so true. I certainly feel a new found faith in democracy knowing that this handful of billionaires are finally allowed to have the same influence over our government that I do.

Who is the 300 pound gorilla in this pen? Head back to the MoJo article for this tidbit.

The dominant presence among super-PAC donors is Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who’ve given $36.3 million so far. That’s chump change for the Adelsons—in fact, $36.3 million is a mere 0.15 percent of their total wealth. It would take 321,000 American families giving up 0.15 percent of their wealth to match the Adelsons’ super-PAC giving.

So, is ANYONE doing ANYTHING about this?

Representative John Dingell (D-MI), the longest-sitting member of Congress, introduced a bill Thursday designed to force the Supreme Court to reconsider its Citizens United decision. Along with at least ten co-sponsors, Dingell’s Restoring Confidence in Our Democracy Act, would ban corporations and unions from making independent political expenditures. It would also subject Super PACs to the same contribution limits that exist with other PACs. Dingell intends the bill to provide “the factual record which details the negative effects of increased spending in our elections.” That factual record, he hopes, will get the Court to reverse itself, and restore Congress’ power to limit a form of spending that Dingell (rightly) believes has eroded even further America’s “confidence” in “our democracy.”

Dingell’s bill, however, is effectively two bills– one that would require the Court to reverse itself, if indeed the new law were upheld, and the other that would not require the Court to reverse itself but would instead give the Court a chance to address a kind of corruption that so far the Supreme Court has ignored. It is unlikely (in the extreme) that the Court is going to reverse itself. But if framed properly, Dingell’s bill could well map a way for Congress to staunch the corrupting influence of Super PAC spending without forcing the Court to eat its Citizens United words.

Let’s hope John and Bernie can get this thing on to the agenda of their respective bodies. Let’s also just say that I’m not holding my breath until it happens.

28 Comments on “Swift Yachting Democracy”

  1. dakinikat says:

    The Atlantic Wire ‏@TheAtlanticWire

    Sheldon Adelson’s Company Being Investigated Over Money Laundering Charges http://theatln.tc/Pvan5N

    • northwestrain says:

      Not shocked to read that. That’s a quick way to get rich.

      Seems like there are different standards of morality for the ultra rich.

      Even the Internet is being overwhelmed with political ads.

  2. janicen says:

    Since DVRs came on the scene fewer and fewer people are watching commercials. As a result advertisers are paying for product placement within popular TV shows. I wonder how long it will be before a political campaign pays for product placement of the candidate within the shows?

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Jonathan Chait: Why Washington Accepts Mass Unemployment


  4. pdgrey says:

    If I had to choose,# 5and # 6. but it could be everything about him.
    Its not like he hasn’t played this game before while calling other people to release their taxes.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Rachel Maddow spent half her show last night showing how Romney has continuously lied about his tax returns. There’s no way he can expect people to just trust him. His word is sh%t.

      • RalphB says:

        Sh%t is much too kind BB. 🙂

      • dakinikat says:

        Look who likes the article you sent me:

        Bruce Bartlett ‏@BruceBartlett

        Destroys Romney adviser Glenn Hubbard’s WSJ article yesterday, so I don’t have to. http://ow.ly/cJHpt

        appropriately subtitled “Repackaging the Bush agenda, just with austerity, is not the path to prosperity.”

      • Eric Pleim says:

        So YOU’RE the one watching Rachel Maddow! Just kidding.

        Yah what’s in those returns must be some kind of horrendous for Romney to be enduring all the flack he’s taking for not releasing them. That by itself should put him out of consideration. It may yet. I’m cautiously optimistic.

        • dakinikat says:

          The only problem is WHAT would the Republicans do to resurrect some one during their convention if they decide this dude is a dud? Jeb Bush? Newt Gingrich? Oh, the horrors!!!

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Rachel kicked butt big time last night and it was Rmoney’s. The only thing she failed to include was that Rmoney called for Theresa Heinz to release her tax returns when Kerry was running for prez. Mittens has no problem demanding other candidates & their spouses release their returns, but because Kennedy refused to release his way back when, Rmoney feels entitled to refuse to release his – oh, my privacy. I found myself wishing Teddy’s widow would release his returns now to call Rmoney’s & Fehrnstrom’s bluffs.

    • dakinikat says:

      When One Mormon Gossips about Another Mormon Not Paying His Taxes
      Posted on August 4, 2012 by emptywheel


  5. RalphB says:

    People can believe absolutely nothing Rmoney says about anything!

    Romney Campaign Lies About Ohio Voter Suppression Lawsuit Filed by Obama Campaign

    President Obama has filed a lawsuit to maintain early voting privileges for Ohio voters. Mitt Romney is lying about it, arguing that Obama filed a lawsuit in which the president claims that it’s unconstitutional for Ohio to allow military service members to vote early.

    If it sounds stupid to you, that’s because it is.

    As part of Republicans ongoing effort to suppress the Democratic vote this year, Republicans in Ohio revoked early voting privileges for everyone living in Ohio except for military service men and women. President Obama filed a lawsuit to block that law, not because he wants to revoke early voting privileges for military folks, but because he wants to restore early voting privileges to everyone living in Ohio.

    Either because he is extremely stupid or, as is more likely, he is a dirty stinking liar, Mitt Romney took to Facebook today and claimed that President Obama is trying to curtail the voting rights for military voters.

    • RalphB says:

      This one isn’t working. Even hotair has updated their post to admit that Rmoney is lying.

    • surfric says:

      I didn’t know the specifics of this. I did know that what they were charging Obama with could not be even close to the truth, and thank you for telling us why.

      What’s really disturbing is that the Republicans are not even considering whether they should or should not go with such a line of BS because it isn’t so. The only consideration is how likely are they to largely get away with the lie. This is a very cynical view of the American electorate, and I hope they finally get bagged on it.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Mathematician Predicts Wave of Violence In 2020 http://is.gd/NmhHEO

    Guess the peons are going to storm the gated community castles.

    • RalphB says:

      He must be an optimist to think it will take that long.

      • northwestrain says:

        Logical response — yea — duh — so? 20-12=8

        It will take 8 years for the fantastical huge gap between the haves and the growing have nots — the shrinking middle class to reach into the past and redo the French Revolution. ??????

        The privileged ones — the ruling elite are going after the Occupy folks — and trying to jail a few as anarchists. I’m saying that it is the 1% who are the anarchists — they aren’t paying taxes and what they are looting they are stuffing in offshore banks.

  7. ANonOMouse says:

    Those donor numbers are incredible. I knew the plutocrats were pouring mega bucks into this election, but I had no idea the lions share was coming from less than 1100 people. Just unbelievable. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that people don’t throw millions of dollars into an election without the expectation of pay-back.

  8. NW Luna says:

    just 0.00035 percent of the US population.

    America, the land of freedom and opportunity — if you’re in the 0.00035%. That is an atrocious statistic. I hope Dingell’s bill gets some traction, but I’m cynical enough that I won’t hold my breath.

    • dakinikat says:

      Yes. Because all of that human suffering doesn’t make a difference if he’s a success or not. He defines success by how much money and power he accumulates: not by how much his life is used to better the existence of all life and alleviate the suffering of other beings.

    • RalphB says:

      That shouldn’t go over big with middle class voters. I think the sentient ones would appreciate a bit of stimulus very much, wherever it came from.

  9. RalphB says:

    Bizarre and hilarious post from Sadly, No! on wingnut looniness.

    Shit Moat Destroya

    A dope? Perish the thought! Building a moat of runny dog shit on your own property? Not. Dopey. At. All. In fact, the smart set are all doing it. Shit moats are the new kitchen remodels after all, as evidenced by these real estate ads we just came across on Craigslist: