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Saturday, October 16, 2010

This time, it really is Daddy Warbucks' war


"I love money, I love power, I love capitalism."


- "Daddy Warbucks," from the Broadway musical, Annie (1982)



It's not hyperbole, or the overused metaphor of the battle for electoral victory. It's a war for political power - a war fought with ammunition of bucks rather than bullets.

Ho hum, you say? A tiresome analogy?

Look at how much money Tea Party darlings Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell have raised recently: $14 million for Ms. "Second Amendment remedies," compared to only $2 million for her opponent, incumbent Sen. Harry Reid - and that amount is only $5 million short of what the Senate majority leader has raised since he began soliciting for this election cycle back in 2005; and Ms. "I'm not a witch" has raised, since the Delaware primary in mid-September, $3.8 million, twice as much as Democrat Chris Coons.

In this war, O'Donnell and Rand Paul, Angle and Marco Rubio are not political pioneers, but cannon fodder for the super rich backing up the Right's rear flank. People like the Koch brothers push these Kool-Aid® drinking greenhorns out on the front line, telling them they are leading the charge, "taking the country back," and meanwhile, the truly scary maniacs are hiding in the background.

In this war, Gen. Palin raises the  money and Col. Beck raises the hackles of weakened minds, and they are only two of a handful who can control the crazy corporals who are zealously rattling their sabers and flapping their gums on the front lines. It's not that they are smarter or less insane than their troops. They were just out there first.

With groups backed by relentless Republicans, like Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, spending buckets of money on ads against Congressional Democratic candidates that are either misleading or just plainly false, "campaign finance reform in this country is virtually dead," as columnist David Corn put it, Friday, "and that means any entity with a lot of money -- a corporation, a billionaire, a union -- can pour as much cash as it wants into an effort to rig the political system in its favor."

It is up to us, the real America, to not let money win the power it salivates for so greedily. This is our country, and - in this the Tea Partiers are right - we have lost control of it.  Vote, and remind those with riches that money doesn't vote. People do.

- PBG

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Religion poll equates dense, Tea Party dunce demographic to Christian right

"On many important political and social issues, Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement also hold views similar to the views of Americans who identify with the Christian conservative movement..."
- Public Religion Research Institute, October 5, 2010


There may not be much of a surprise here, but a new poll published by the Public Religion Research Institute says that chances are, if you are White, non-Hispanic, call Fox News your "most trusted source of news about politics and current events," and prefer extreme Christian social values, you are supporting the Tea Party and its unhinged cabal of crazy candidates in this year's midterm election.

The biennial poll, conducted by the PRRI every two years since 2006, found that more than half (57%) of those in the ultra-conservative, Palin embracing, DeMint encouraged social conservatives in the Tea Party "consider themselves part of the Christian conservative movement." I guess it could be worse, considering the survey also found that more than 8-in-10 of them call themselves Christians.

 

[caption id="attachment_358" align="alignright" width="477" caption="What would Jesus do? This sign from the October 2, 2010, One Nation demonstration on the National Mall, in Washington, DC, has an idea, one with which the Tea Party may not agree. (photo by Carole Keith)"]wwjd[/caption]

 

To bring home the point that these are not just fiscally-conscious, socially accepting Libertarians, the poll, which PRRI calls the American Values Survey, points out that almost two-of-three Tea Partiers surveyed are against abortion "in all or most cases," and less than 20% support gay marriage. (I would have thought that number was much worse.)

They are also - no surprise here - overwhelmingly Republican, with basically three-of-four saying they always vote GOP, and more than eight-of-ten (83%) saying they will be supporting Republican candidates in November.

Daily Beast columnist and "Wingnuts" author John Avlon, in a March column, called it "Obama Derangement Syndrome—pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism," and says this "demonizing of our president" has "infected the Republican Party."

The more appropriate and timeless quote may be the one from Jonathan Swift, which appears as the epigraph of the John Kennedy Toole classic, "A Confederacy of Dunces." Swift said:
"When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him."

-PBG

Sunday, October 03, 2010

When the election fix is in, Congress is in a fix

"...the current system of privately financed campaigns for election to the House of Representatives has the capacity... to undermine democracy..."
- Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826), Title I


Our electoral system has been stolen from the people who need it most by the people who care about us the least. The irony is that those who fight entitlements the loudest are the ones taking the most from our tax coffers. Corporate money interferes with democracy, beguiles Congress and suckles at the government breast with such unfettered access that the rest of the people are ignored like we are the runt of Mother Country's litter. It is an issue that is Right and Left, front and center.

Republican strategist Mark McKinnon called it a "broken trust," when he addressed the Coffee Party Convention in Louisville, Kentucky on last Saturday. "Congress now ranks sixteenth among public institutions when it comes to trust," he pointed out, "behind big business, and even the media." The people, he said, feel "unable to impact the process because money has taken over the process."

"It's a mad, mad merry-go-round, where Congress endlessly chases campaign cash, and voters can't even get a ticket for the ride."

On September 23, the Fair Elections Now Act came out of committee in the U.S. House. The bill sets up a matching funding system for Congressional campaigns, with fundraising limits based on the number of US Congressional districts in each state. Like presidential elections, Candidates can opt into this fund and run on a more competitive field, or they can opt-out, and collect from big donors. Regardless, under the terms of the bill, "Joint fundraising committees between candidates and parties would be prohibited," publicampaign.org says in its summary.

Unfortunately, Congress adjourned for the fall/mid-term election break before any action could be taken on the floor of the House. In fact, our elected representatives spend far more time raising money to get us to keep them in their jobs than they spend actually doing the work of the people - if by "people" you mean the corporate special interests.

David Donnelly, of the Public Campaign Action Fund, also appearing at the Coffee Party Convention, cited a Roll Call article that estimated that in September alone, Congress was in session only seven days, "but they would have held 415 fundraisers in our nation's capital."

[caption id="attachment_341" align="alignright" width="297" caption="David Donnelly addresses the Coffee Party Convention in Louisville, Kentucky at the end of September. (from livestream provided, via UStream, by 5 Steps Forward Media)"][/caption]

"That doesn't take into account the countless hours we know elected officials and candidates for office spend on the phone dialing-for-dollars," Donnelly added.

It's possible the bill may come to the floor of the House during the lame duck session following the election, especially if the fallout from the Citizens United decision has an obvious and profound influence on November 2. But it will only do that if we come together and call our Congressional leaders and make it happen. They may not know how serious we are, but they know we are here.

"Politicians' and elected officials' antennae are quivering right now," McKinnon said, "because they see what's happening with the Tea Party; they see what's happening here [with the Coffee Party]; they know that something's happening in America and they've got to do something about it."

-PBG