January 21, 2010

Responding to the Supreme Court's new free political speech opinion, Obama hits his "fat cats" theme.

"With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."

For big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests... including labor unions.

135 comments:

Montagne Montaigne said...

Your "critique" is incoherent. If the "big win for labor unions" was so great for Obama, why would he oppose it forcefully?

Part XXVVIII of have-it-both ways, grouse-at-any-intellectual-cost whining about everything Obama says and does. Enough!

Gabriel Hanna said...

This is the same Obama who reneged on his pldege to accept publica campaing funds?

Montagne Montaigne said...

Instead of this ridiculous meta-conversation pitched to bitch about Obama, why don't you simply state whether you approve or disapprove of this decision, and why?

rhhardin said...

Bankers are middlemen. They take capital from where it is not needed and supply it to where it is needed.

Both sides win, even after the banker takes a cut. The banker's cut is limited by competition and how good he is at organizing information. His cut is in payment for doing that well.

When the government takes the role, nothing new is ever discovered, and eventually every move of capital soon goes to support zombie activities and losses.

The government however does not go out of business as a reward. It doubles down.

The fat cat has no such protection. He has to be of actual service or he dies.

Original Mike said...

Pathetic. Even though I didn't vote for him, I really did expect more from him than tired old populism.

El Pollo Real said...

For big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests... including labor unions.

Not to mention the trial lawyers!

Politics, Islamism and more... said...

Been there - done that.

avwh said...

"Mr. Obama issued a statement – a rare instance of a president immediately weighing in on a ruling from the high court – and said his administration would work with Congressional leaders “to develop a forceful response to this decision.”

As opposed to the Christmas crotch bomber, when it took him, what - 3 or 4 days for a response? Guess we know which is more important to Obama - $$ that the Republicans might tap, not national security or the war against Islamofascists.

And the same Obama who said with a straight face, they were too busy working on solving problems to get their message across to the American people, right?

edutcher said...

Why do I get the impression the evil Mr. Soros just took one on the chin, somehow?

WV "repayew" What Wimpy will do tomorrow.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Are only "fat cats" spending money on influencing elections?

Money is the only thing that can fight political power--unless you want to resort to guns. Incumbents have huge advantages that their challengers do not have.

Obama reneged on his promise to accept public campaign financing when it suited him. He used people with money, including fat cats, to help get into office. Not surprising to me that he, or any other incumbent, would like to pull that ladder up after him.

Synova said...

Obama had the opportunity to go along with the "new rules" set up to make elections more fair, so they couldn't be bought, and, in fact, promised that he would.

Then he went back on his promise, which benefited him very much because he was bringing in so very much money.

The rule he had promised to obey would have benefited him if he didn't have the backing of so many people, he'd have been simply *given* the money to make up the difference.

So I think we can assume with a fair amount of certainty that Obama's committment to campaign funding reflecting the voice of everyday Americans only came into play when it meant he got lots and lots of money. If "the voice of everyday Americans" was weak, he'd have taken the matching funds.

But the most important point is this... The Obama campaign outspent McCain at least 2 to 1.

Is Obama asserting that it *is* possible to purchase an election? He didn't actually win by that great a margin, so that's a incredible claim to make... that it's the money...

Montagne Montaigne said...

Seriously, conservatives are about as concerned with the polity as suicide bombers. You would cut off your nose to spite your face.

Hey, I know what would improve our political system. Torrents and torrents of corporate money. Great idea, and Obama's against it so it must be a great idea.

Conservatives = Hamas

Gabriel Hanna said...

Montaigne, if Obama's against the corporate money why did he take it in 2008?

Ann Althouse said...

"Instead of this ridiculous meta-conversation pitched to bitch about Obama, why don't you simply state whether you approve or disapprove of this decision, and why?"

I strongly approve, because I support free speech, I believe the Constitution matters, and I am disgusted by politicians' efforts at controlling what people can hear. As it was, rich individuals already had the right to spend their own money on political messages. Groups of people deserve an equivalent right to political speech.

campy said...

if Obama's against the corporate money why did he take it

To keep it out of the hands of Evil, of course.

Dogwood said...

Much ado about nothing. Corporations can now make contributions directly, rather than making contributions through PACs or 527 groups, the names of which are used to obscure the source of funds.

Direct contributions, combined with first dollar itemized reporting, can bring much needed transparency to campaign finance.

Nichevo said...

Effing Conflicting edits! OK, rewind...

Montagne Montaigne said...

Your "critique" is incoherent. If the "big win for labor unions" was so great for Obama, why would he oppose it forcefully?

Um, hypocrisy? Or as you say below,

have-it-both ways, grouse-at-any-intellectual-cost whining about everything Obama [doesn't like]. Enough!

Yeah, that works too.

why don't you simply state whether you approve or disapprove of this decision, and why?

She's Ann Althouse, bitch! She doesn't have to heed your conversational dictates! Just ask Robert Cook. Meanwhile, how do you feel about the case? No, don't bother, little in the Universe interests me less than your feelings.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Hah! To paraphrase Mr Dooley, Obama is a sort of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Money. When people want to spend their money to promote their political views, Obama wants to take it away from them and bestow it appropriately, on his own.

He, like Gov. LePetomane, has deemed it unsafe for our use (we're such children).

Sofa King said...

Your "critique" is incoherent. If the "big win for labor unions" was so great for Obama, why would he oppose it forcefully?

Is this a trick question? The obvious answer is that his politicking will not change the decision but does improve his populist appeal. Win-win.

Brian said...

Easy Montagne. We're just trying to get the "real" reason Obama responded in this way. After all, you yourself have called Obama the "kissing cousin" of Bush as far as how he's handled issues of foreign policy. We know how you rate Bush; it is not a big leap then to take what Obama said with a grain of salt and try to see (politically) where he's positioning himself.

I interpret this as Obama trying to make an opening and get back on the good side of fellow liberals. The auto bailouts, TARP, big bank bailouts have cost Obama support among his base, who had hoped Obama would stand up to big business interests and give ordinary Americans a voice. You know, social justice and all that. Instead, Obama has come to big business's rescue, after they ran their companies into a ditch after the collapse of credit markets.

TARP was intended to shore up the mortgage market; he could be forgiven for overseeing that Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae didn't go insolvent, because the American dream is built on the availability of credit for the housing market. But declaring the big investment banks "too big to fail" and bailing them out? To the liberals who viewed Wall Street as the epitome of economic injustice, it must have been a bitter pill to swallow. You can lay the blame all at Bush's feet, but Obama's been the president who bailed these suckers out.

KLDAVIS said...

This isn't about whether "fat cats" will have influence in the political process, it's about where their money goes. This creates an alternative market for corporations to push for political change. The current market is the lobbyists, which funnels all the cash and benefits to the politicians in power. This decision makes it possible to take the case directly to the people, to put politicians in power who agree with the policies of the corporations, rather than have them secretly pay off the existing politicians to hold their nose every time its convenient.

Dogwood said...

Hey, I know what would improve our political system. Torrents and torrents of corporate money.

The corporate money is already involved in influencing campaigns, it is just laundered through PACs, 527s, corporate executives and board members, etc., etc.

You can't seriously expect government to grow and become increasingly more intrusive into every aspect of our lives and businesses, and then expect those affected by that government intrusion to just stand aside and not try to influence the outcomes of political campaigns.

The money was already there, it will just be more transparent now.

AllenS said...

Fuck Barack Hussein Obama.

SteveR said...

I think some people cannot differentiate between regular font and italicized font.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Maybe if Obama and other politicians didn't try to meddle in huge sectors of the economy like health care and energy, didn't shovel out money to people building and the like, maybe corporations wouldn't need to try to spend money to influence them.

Big Energy and Big Pharma gave him and his Democratic allies money for that reason--they'll give up the freedom they lose to regulation for a guaranteed spot at the trough.

I don't know why the Left doesn't understand that.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Another Obama pivot to take minds off a devastating health care defeat. If populism doesn't work he'll roll out a new plan tomorrow.

Dogwood said...

OT: Air America closed before Gitmo!!!

Nichevo said...

Blogger SteveR said...

I think some people cannot differentiate between regular font and italicized font.


What I can't do, it seems, is type in strikeout here. Do you know what the tags are for that?

Kirby Olson said...

It would seem that it would hurt Democrats more, but there are plenty of Democratic billionaires like Soros.

Obama is upset because he played that card last time and had an 8-1 advantage over McCain.

This time around with that card being played against him, as it will be, he's going to find himself at a disadvantage. So naturally he will start screaming that it's unfair, and that it's racist.

The entire judicial branch is against him: not only the policemen of Cambridge, but now the Supreme Court.

It's racist.

The Ghost said...

Its funny but the "fat cats" gave more to Obama than McCain by a wide margin ...

What this ruling also does is reduce the influence of lobbyists ... corporations will no longer have to go thru lobbyists to voice their opinions, they can just run an ad ... and we get to see it instead of it happening behind closed doors ...

t-man said...

We all just watched the spectacle of the Pharma and Health Insurance industries meeting behind closed doors with the White House, and in exchange for protections in pending legislation, agreeing to massive ad buys to support the Administration's proposals. But it would be supposedly corrupt this pristine system for a Massachusettes local chamber of commerce to buy an ad supporting Scott Brown due to his opposition to Obamacare.

This decision was a strike against the big government/big corporation symbiosis that liberals pretend to be against.

PatCA said...

After Tuesday night, does he honestly think anybody believes that he is NOT in cahoots with fat cats?!

Go back to school, Axelrod, maybe the Brown School of Advanced Populism.

Synova said...

Is bashing "fat cats" really populism? I'm sort of serious about the question because what I think of as populism, say, from Palin or anyone else, is this sort of "regular people are smart and effective and I have a truck and watch organized sports" sort of thing. You know, "bedrock of our society" verbiage. And none of that really involves holding up "big" anything as a boogy-man.

Maybe I don't understand what populism is.

Because I see "everyday" as a way of saying ordinary and uninteresting - the little guys. I could expect populists to reject the notion of "little guys" in favor of "lords of the universe" or images of workers with bulging pecs and pugnacious expressions standing in front of something mechanical.

Perhaps I'm wrong about what the word means and it really does mean vilifying employers and producers in order to gain the trust of the little people.

Peano said...

Mr. Obama ... said his administration would work with Congressional leaders "to develop a forceful response to this decision."

Oh, by all means. We need The One to deliver a forceful response to crush this recognition that corporations have a right to freedom of speech.

I wonder what kind "forceful" response Bambi thinks he has the authority to make. Is he going to overrule the Supreme Court? Abolish the First Amendment? The man's arrogance knows no limits.

garage mahal said...

At minimum, we should require that congress display their corporate sponsorship patches on their suits, like NASCAR, so we can see what corporation owns them.

Brian said...

Following up, I may have attributed something Robert Cook said about Obama's foreign policy being the "kissing cousin" of Bush's to Montagne. If I did so, I'll apologize. I get the two of them mixed up sometimes, because they often argue from the same vantage point.

That said, this was a 5-4 decision; it could easily be swayed again by a future SCOTUS pick, and a future case that winds it's way up to the SCOTUS, and is selected to furthur "refine" this ruling. It could be another Pres. Obama pick, for all we know.

The real smackdown is to McCain and his signature legislation.

Mark O said...

"Congress shall make no law . . .."

An inconvenient phrase.

God, I love that phrase.

jayne_cobb said...

Well if there's one thing that's sure to fix the economy it's describing businesses as evil. I mean it's not like we need oil, banks, or health insurance.


I guess this answers the question of how Obama was going to react to recent political setbacks.

kcom said...

"At minimum, we should require that congress display their corporate sponsorship patches on their suits, like NASCAR, so we can see what corporation owns them."

I think that's the first thing you've ever said, Garage, that I've agreed with. It's an excellent idea. I'm still laughing.

jayne_cobb said...

Garage,

That is actually a great idea and I fully support it; although I can't imagine anyone taking money from Target anymore.

Pogo said...

Cuba has very few successful businesses. Obama must think it is full of saints.

A shitty place to live, their utopia.

Give me fat cats and individuals in pursuit of their self-interest any day.

Pogo said...

Yeah, and props to garage for the NASCAR corporate-logo-for-Congressman idea.

Gahrie said...

"At minimum, we should require that congress display their corporate sponsorship patches on their suits, like NASCAR, so we can see what corporation owns them."

I think that's the first thing you've ever said, Garage, that I've agreed with. It's an excellent idea. I'm still laughing.


Robin Williams said it first and better......

jimspice said...

The intended purpose of freedom of speech is to ensure a free and open marketplace of ideas. Of course we all know that our marketplace is by no means "free." The concentration of money in the hands of a relative few creates an inherently skewed balance.

I'd suggest one way to correct this would be to establish an opposing viewpoints fund, to which both individuals and groups would contribute matching funds (perhaps over a certain threshold) for any money spent on political speech. This would apply to actors large and small, and both would be able to draw from the fund as well.

Maguro said...

jimspice - You realize that there were rich and poor people in America when the founders wrote the First Amendment? I mean, income inequality isn't some new development that they never could have anticipated. Clearly, they thought free speech was worth having even if everyone couldn't afford a printing press.

Synova said...

I think McCain/Feingold sort of tried that.

How about, instead, we just go with the idea that anyone has the right to say what they want to say and fund it themselves, and anyone else has the right to disagree or oppose them and employ speech in return.

Gabriel Hanna said...

At minimum, we should require that congress display their corporate sponsorship patches on their suits, like NASCAR, so we can see what corporation owns them.

Fantastic idea. The President will need logos from Time-Warner, Goldman-Sachs, General Electric, Citigroup, IBM, Microsoft, J P Morgan Chase...

http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cycle=2008&cid=N00009638

Ralph L said...

They'll have to wear cathedral-length trains to fit all the logos. Yhen they'd have to rebuild the Capitol to fit every congresscrook.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

At minimum, we should require that congress display their corporate sponsorship patches on their suits, like NASCAR, so we can see what corporation owns them.

Yep. I agreed with this idea in the other thread when fls said it too.

The more money donated the larger the decals. Its a great idea.

edutcher said...

garage mahal said...

At minimum, we should require that congress display their corporate sponsorship patches on their suits, like NASCAR, so we can see what corporation owns them.

For once, we agree. God, that feels strange to say.

The Ghost said...

for the Constitutionally illiterate what Obama apparently opposes is the exercise of free speech ... you know the first amendment ...

conservatives liked the ruling not because Obama is against it ... note that most conservative pundits had already approved of it long before Obama spoke out ...

jayne_cobb said...

DBQ,

How about a square inch for every 50 thousand dollars?

Steven said...

Is it speech?

Then the First Amendment protects it. The Amendment has no clauses providing any excuse for restriction of speech based on the speaker.

This is not hard. Speech is speech. Speech by corporations is speech. Speech by criminals is speech. Speech by foreigners is speech.

You don't like it? You can speak in favor of repealing the First Amendment, then. Go ahead.

Synova said...

Something we should also keep in mind is that this doesn't necessarily *help* conservatives. It's just as likely to help Democrats. And wasn't part of it repealing a prohibition of some sorts of ads close to the election? Opening that up opens it up for both parties.

If Democrats are thinking that the situation of the last election obviously benefited them and the change would have benefited Republicans, then that is short sighted in extreme. In either direction, actually... if Republicans are thinking this will obviously benefit them more than Democrats. Things change.

It's a little bit like the dynamic Jon Stewart described talking about Scott Brown... the rules were changed to solve the problem of a Governor appointing a replacement Senator because they didn't want Romney appointing a Republican to John Kerry's Senate seat... only, if the rule had been left the way it was Romney still wouldn't have appointed anyone at all and Brown would not have just won this Senate race.

Things change.

The rules will still be the same for everyone, and that is enough.

Kirk Parker said...

Nichevo ,

The tag you're looking for is <s>, but don't bother trying: blogger doesn't support it. :-(

Lem said...

The supremes decision struck terror and fear at the hart of this administration, as shown by the immediate response.

It was as if a plane load of union money was in danger of falling into the hands of the alGop.

Peter V. Bella said...

"Hey, I know what would improve our political system. Torrents and torrents of corporate money. Great idea, and Obama's against it so it must be a great idea.

Conservatives = Hamas


Sooooooooo, Mr. Broke Back Montana, only torrents and torrents of union money is OK in our system.

Union money goooooooooood.
All other money baaaaaaaaaad

Maybe if, you semi-literates- including the President and Shumer- had read the fucking thing you would have noticed it applies to unions. So, now instead of unions spending tens of millions to actually provide healthcare for their members, they can waste tens of millions on bribing politicians with contributions.

To use your own Montana math-
Liberals=Taliban+Al Queda+Nazis+Facists

Peter V. Bella said...

Hey garage,
would they have to wear their union patches too? Look for the union label?

I swear, I never met so many semi-literate selective readers in one place.

rhhardin said...

The more the government regulates, the more interest there is that's willing to pay for favors.

Kirby Olson said...

Q. If Obama is not a fat cat what is he?

A. He's a j'accuse jacuzzi-meister.

AlphaLiberal said...

Do these corporations given expanded rights include foreign-owned corporations?

And, do these corporations given expanded rights include foreign AND state-owned corporations?

So, could Vladimir Putin could set up shop and knock off a troublesome Congresscritter? Hugo Chavez already has companies, right? Saudis? OBL?

Is there any such limit specified by the legislating jurists?

AlphaLiberal said...

Anyone? Anyone?

And could that, then, be a one-world government, just ruling one nation?

Anyone? Anyone?

And would that, then, be "ironic"?

Anyone? Anyone?

Synova said...

Alpha, did you just say that the Supreme Court opinion would allow Putin to murder Congressmen?

Please... put the bottle down.

AlphaLiberal said...

No, actually I didn't say that, Synova.

See, that's called asking questions and thinking through implications.

Simpler for the simpler minds: Can Citgo also influence US elections?

And can you identify any problems for our country out of that?

David said...

Obama directly, immediately and intemperate attacks a Supreme Court decision.

What is this, Dred Scott II?

Obama is racing for the bottom.

AlphaLiberal said...

Why should the Supreme Court's actions be above criticism?

Maybe it's the black robes.

So, none of the experts here can tell us if Venezuelan-owned Citgo could use any of their $32 billion in revenues to affect US elections?

Let's have that sovereignty conversation again.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Labor unions represent what percentage of large donations?

And yet, conservatives still bitched about it.

I'm trying to look at the other arguments... by Dogwood et al, to the effect that this merely provides better transparency of an ostensibly, already incorrigibly corrupt system. But my prejudice is to believe that Republicans are for it because they are more easily seduced by the shallow arguments that only money can buy.

Oh, and speech in the Congress is already regulated by the timing of who can speak, and when. As occurs in every organization. The dumbest oversight in this whole charade is the idea that campaign finance regulated speech when, in reality, it regulated the volume of the speech. I'm inclined to believe that the first amendment pertained to freedom of content, not freedom to shout others down and drown out their voices. And in a democracy where we should take one vote per person for granted, allowing more money to make your own view appear more popular should be our lowest priority. Say what you want and put it out there as much as you want. But there is no reason to believe that campaigns shouldn't be fairly regulated.

What's next, will the more influential and powerful candidate be allowed to filibuster a presidential debate and prevent his opponent from answering questions?

Louder speech is not equivalent to more voices. And it certainly isn't equivalent to freer speech. If anyone here should know that, I would. Take it from me. Otherwise, I'll filibuster your fucking site and spam it with more comments than any single one of you is capable of. Hell, I already do!!!

Go SCOTUS!

bagoh20 said...

"Part XXVVIII of have-it-both ways, grouse-at-any-intellectual-cost whining about everything Obama says and does. Enough!"

Can't we find someone more important and incompetent to complain about? Nope.

t-man said...

Okay, AL. Now that your factually incorrect post from the prior thread has been exposed, you spray out another argument. In fact, the Court specifically mentioned the issue of foreign owned corporations. That issue doesn't save the current law from being overbroad.

If Congress wants to craft a law targeting foreign owned or controlled corporations, they are free to do so. Just like the ban on foreign contributions to candidates, foreigners are afforded few constitutional protections. Maybe that's where Chuckie Shoe should focus his hearings. He can get the younger, even more idiotic Kennedy who is Chavez's best buddy to testify.

Synova said...

"Can Citgo also influence US elections?"

I don't know. Can they? Can they buy votes? Does money win elections? Did Obama buy the presidency?

What is it? That a glossy enough advertisement or catchy tune or professionally produced video will mind control gullible voters?

Might this be why the State Democrats thought they could run an ad claiming Brown wanted to turn rape victims away from emergency rooms and thought that the only reaction would be drooling acceptance?

bagoh20 said...

Ritmo said: "I'll filibuster your fucking site and spam it with more comments than any single one of you is capable of. Hell, I already do!!!"

I got nothin'

AlphaLiberal said...

t-man, thanks for your opinion. What about until then?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Althouse should have got her own version of McCain-Feingold and applied it to me.

Synova said...

"And in a democracy where we should take one vote per person for granted, allowing more money to make your own view appear more popular should be our lowest priority. Say what you want and put it out there as much as you want. But there is no reason to believe that campaigns shouldn't be fairly regulated."

So, basically...

Obama shouldn't have broken his promise but should have taken the matching funds and limited his spending to the same amount McCain spent so that no voices could be drowned out?

For democracy?

Are you people *really* claiming that Obama purchased the Presidency?

AlphaLiberal said...

Synova, if you are arguing money doesn't affect elections you are naive.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Obama shouldn't have broken his promise but should have taken the matching funds and limited his spending to the same amount McCain spent so that no voices could be drowned out?

For democracy?

Are you people *really* claiming that Obama purchased the Presidency?


Give the legislation a generation to cleanse the system of the endemic corruption it takes for granted and then I'll hold Obama to the same disadvantages that a candidate from The Party of Money should hold himself to, if he had any decency.

Nice on the "you people" thing, BTW.

Mark said...

Is bashing "fat cats" really populism? .... And none of that really involves holding up "big" anything as a boogy-man.

I think Jonah Goldberg wrote a book that addresses your question.

AlphaLiberal said...

Synova, Obama didn't purchase the Presidency, no. I never saw so many volunteers. He did kick McCain's and Palin's asses in the fund raising area, yes. And it helped, Grade A swag.

But, by t-man's theory, Chavez could dump money against candidates tomorrow. Maybe he could buy some results until Republicans are done filibustering the next campaign finance reform bill.

After all, allowing foreign companies, and foreign state-owned companies to dump money against American candidates appears to be the law of the land today and until Congress passes a new bill.

Right, t-man? That's your interpretation?

Mark said...

Anyone get the impression that Obama is setting up his excuse for the Democrats getting pasted in the midterms?

Also, considering how much money those "Fat Cats" contributed to his '08 run, I'm wondering how that's going to play out for he re-election campaign fund. (Of course, he could always start renting out Air Force One. (OTOH, that last joy ride didn't work out so well...)).

Gabriel Hanna said...

Not that Alpha Liberal has any idea that the ruling allow allows foreign corporations to buy American elections.

He's just making that up.

Synova said...

"But, by t-man's theory, Chavez could dump money against candidates tomorrow. Maybe he could buy some results until Republicans are done filibustering the next campaign finance reform bill."

And who do you think Chavez would chose to support, who would take his money, and what would the results be?

Please let this happen!

And if you recall... it was your candidate Obama who just blew off the *last* effort at campaign finance reform. He pledged his support for it and then just blew it off.

So I sort of think that you guys lack some credibility on this issue, but go right ahead and keep up the "Republicans are evil and owned by big-money" spin.

Mark said...

Alpha, do a little research on how much that Soros guy spends on American politics, and get back to me on how this decision changes much vis-a-vis foreign influence.

Personally, I'd rather have any contributions from Citgo or Gazprom be up front and out in the open, instead of being laundered through some "eccentric" Hungarian into things called "MoveOn" and "MediaMatters", etc.

Synova said...

Yes, I'm just pretending for a moment that it makes any sort of sense that foreign corporations are some special case compared to foreign individuals.

Just like AL is pretending that he doesn't think it's really important to restrict freedom of speech in the name of fairness.

And you know... bringing up someone like Chavez as a boogy-man is just really... dumb. Like Chavez giving money to a candidate in the US, particularly for a major office, wouldn't be even worse than calling that Shilling fellow a Yankee fan.

It's not a scary scenario. It's an "oh, dear god *please* do that" scenario.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Soros is an American citizen, Mark. But he is Jewish, an emigrant, and speaks with a funny accent. So if you wanted to go the xenophobia route on this one, you might have to outsource it to fully accredited xenophobes, like Cefardord, for instance.

Nichevo said...

"I'm inclined to believe"

Hey, fuck the fucking Supreme Court, Ritmo has a feeling!

I mean an inclination. Oops. Well, either way, we've just eliminated the need for one third of the Federal government! Lop off that judicial branch! Streamlining operations! Woohoo!

Ritmo is the new SCOTUS, Obama is the POTUS, who becomes Congress? Robert Cook?

Synova said...

Soros isn't American?

WTF?

Henry said...

I've already heard liberal friends bemoan this decisions. I think that what liberals love about campaign finance reform is the idea of reform, not the actual legalisms of reform, nor its actual outcome.

So when campaign reform is struck down, they are bereft. The idea of reform has been lost. The fact that it was already lost, that the loss was in the legalisms necessary to define it, that the loss is evidenced by actual outcomes, never occurs to them.

McCain-Feingold was signed in 2002. In 2010, can anyone point me to any evidence that our political environment is fairer, more open, less expensive, or less corrupted than eight years ago? I'm willing to entertain any evidence at all.

Synova said...

Okay, thanks Ritmo... that was a weird moment.

OTOH, why does Soros get the influence he gets while other big-money "drowns out the voices of everyday Americans?"

What's the difference? Big money is big money.

If Bill Gates goes all out, how is that any different than if Microsoft does?

Nichevo said...

Synova, do you know Soros' story? He was a Kapo - no, Kapo has a specific meaning - he was in essence a collaborator with the Nazis, a bagman for them; then after that he came under the Soviets' aegis and no doubt collaborated with them to survive as well. A real survivor. (I wonder how his personal security is, it must be formidable. Fen, call your office.)

AlphaLiberal said...

OK, make me download it and see for myself.

Supreme Court:
We need not reach the question whether the Government has a compelling interest in preventing foreign individuals or associations from influencing our Nation’s political process. .

And, from Justice Stevens:

The majority never uses a multinational business corporation in its hypotheticals. .

No, that would be the real world.

Henry said...

I would add that as far as I can see the fat cats are doing better than ever. Sure they have to put with a little scapegoating, but they still write legislation and they still walk away with the money.

For this ideal of "reform" we give up the ideal of "free speech."

I like ideals that mean something tangible. Free speech is sensory. You can read and hear it. You can follow the money that funds it.

"Reform" is intangible. It is the glorification of a negative, a non-entity.

AlphaLiberal said...

Alpha, do a little research on how much that Soros guy spends on American politics, and get back to me on how this decision changes much vis-a-vis foreign influence. .

He's an American citizen.

Synova said...

You might be right, Henry. There's a whole lot of loving the *idea* of various things without any seeming care over whether or not the idea works or even if it is net neutral instead of outright destructive. This might be the same sort of case. People have to be seen to *care* about the right things and campaign reform is a big one.

Or else they're just hoping that the next Republican candidate will be as gullible and moronically honorable as McCain and voluntarily shoot him or herself in the foot by following the rules.

Rules not applying to Democrats, of course, even when they've taken personal pledges to follow them.

Synova said...

Oh, and still waiting for the Democrats to do something about influence buying in Washington.

Okay...

I lied...

I was never waiting for that to happen.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

It's all money. You're aware that corporations are legally regulated as if they were "persons", aren't you? Just big, silly, faceless ones whose interests are controlled by a board focused on profit and not necessarily any ethical or public issues. That's one of the things Ralph Nader always used to bring up, to little or no avail.

But anyway, why argue over Soros versus AIG? The point is whether they are all flattened and determined to have one vote, one voice, and not a louder one. Or not. You're clearly sympathetic to the latter. I'm not saying Soros should have a voice that Pfizer shouldn't, am I? Either way it's corrupting and aligns the political system with short-term financial and sectarian interests at the expense of the long-term interests of the nation.

But if you want to distinguish individuals from corporations in this, you've got to bone up on the Nader, basically. But he's a lone voice on that one and largely irrelevant to the debate anyway. Besides, his view appears opposite yours. I don't know anyone who argues that a corporation should have more rights than that of a natural person. The person is the unit of sovereignty according to how most Americans and other free people view the concept.

AlphaLiberal said...

Hugo Chavez is loving this ruling.

JAL said...

David Obama directly, immediately and intemperate attacks a Supreme Court decision.

What is this, Dred Scott II?


Yeah. Weird. Maybe he should go to law school or something.

He might take a class on Constitutional law.

His high school American history must not have covered checks and balances.

t-man said...

AL -

You really should put a paper bag over your mouth to prevent going unconscious from hyperventilating.

As to independent corporate spending on political advertisements for federal elections, the law today is no different that it was before McCain-Feingold went into effect. Prior to today's decision, state laws varied concerning corporate expenditures. If the country could withstand shady political advertisements by foreign companies for over 200 years, I think we can survive for the time it might take Congress to remedy any problems.

Isn't your coffee break over? Shouldn't you go back to sticking pins in your Scott Brown voodoo doll? It would be more effective that your splenetic attempts to argue a point.

Synova said...

Geez, Alpha.

All that means is that *foreign* contributions and corporations and businesses are a separate issue.

Or are you really suggesting that we ought to decide first and foremost what limitations are appropriate relating to foreigners and then blanket apply them to Americans?

Or do you approve of the ruling and just wish that it specified an exception for foreign entities? If that's the case just say it... "I approve of free speech and the SC opinion asserting that the *speech* is free, with the single exception that it should have specified that this does not apply to foreigners or foreign corporations."

Say, what did you think of that British mailing campaign to voters in Ohio?

Wasn't that just darling?

JAL said...

Local radio guy is upset about the decision as he feels that the right to free speech is an individual right and entities (corporations, etc.) are not individuals and are therefore not guaranteed that as a right.

Any thoughts? (Is that covered in the decision?)

AlphaLiberal said...

Thanks, t-man! I know when conservatives start sputtering out the insults they have lost the argument.

And Synova's squirming! Priceless!

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Ritmo Brasileiro said...

The Supreme Court has become a place for presidents to stock their balance-check with partisan ideologues that they believe will rubber stamp their philosophy. In such a case, yeah - who cares if Obama bad mouths those lackeys? It's not as if the Greedy Onanism Party (GOP) didn't do the same when the bench was filled with the same liberals who upheld civil rights, a right to one's own body, preventing public prayer from being used in a coercive manner, and other things that certain people had or have a lot of problems with.

Synova said...

"Either way it's corrupting and aligns the political system with short-term financial and sectarian interests at the expense of the long-term interests of the nation."

Do corporations not have long term interests?

Anyone is prone to look short term and sectarian, so that's no huge shocker. And businesses can do so as well.

But do you really think that, say, Microsoft doesn't look long term? Henry Ford thought far enough ahead to figure out that it would be better for him and his company if his employees made enough money to buy cars. Industry thinks about where they will find employees with the right educations years down the line. Also, say, anyone putting money into research is thinking ahead, designing vehicles or planes for the next decade and decade after that are thinking ahead, or building public works or nuclear plants... just how many years does it take for "big pharma" to bring a new product to market?

It's the rest of us who are likely to insist that because nuclear power doesn't solve all of our problems *right now* that it's not worth pursuing. Etc. Etc.

Synova said...

"And Synova's squirming! Priceless!"

I'm squirming?

And you're the one who thinks that invoking Chavez is somehow an unanswerable taunt?

Seriously... Chavez.

I'm not squirming, I'm boggling.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I love debating Synova because she's like the only con who doesn't realize how silly the talking points really are.

One-by-one,

To re-cap:

1. "Do corporations not have long term interests?"

Not if the reimbursement structure is focused on short-term gain. You really have pay more attention. This has become a huge issue in the debate on corporate governance, which seems to have totally passed you by.

2. "But do you really think that, say, Microsoft doesn't look long term?"

Companies that innovate in the beginning of a disruptive technology are naturally inclined to grow. Bill Gates' practical theft of his competitors ideas notwithstanding, he and his company played an important role in driving the growth of a new industry (but not as much as the release to the public of that government-incubated enterprise known as "the internet". But as for the majority of companies on the DJIA and the rest... not so much. They've felt free to be a teensy bit more innovative, but that's due to the influence of the creative class that grew up around the tech industry.

3. "Henry Ford thought far enough ahead to figure out that it would be better for him and his company if his employees made enough money to buy cars."

Uhhhh... you'd best read up some Jill LePore on the history of Taylorism and Ford's disingenuous incorporation of it into his own business practices. But I digress. Read my response to your #2 and that should be sufficient for purposes of historical comparison between tech lately and the auto industry in the 1920s.

4. "Industry thinks about where they will find employees with the right educations years down the line. Also, say, anyone putting money into research is thinking ahead, designing vehicles or planes for the next decade and decade after that are thinking ahead, or building public works or nuclear plants... just how many years does it take for "big pharma" to bring a new product to market?"

You're entitled to your pabulum but I'm starting to get sleepy from it and answered with enough relevant responses for you to consider. But since you mention it, if you want an exercise in planned obsolescence, pharma's a great example. They put all their bets on marketing the hell out of everything until their pipelines dried up. Now there's really no innovation. They think there are no markets big enough left to justify developing something cause they don't see rewards, but that dudn't stop them from getting on the bandwagon and claiming that impending government regulation of health care was going to put a check on their greed by doing cost-clinical benefit analyses of their toys. So, Fran Collins at NIH is now picking up the slack and licensing compounds that any scaled operation can test to smaller, interested companies for development on a smaller (but needier) population. Fuck pharma. And fuck their propaganda. If there's any left. Those with enough brains to see the writing on the wall jumped ship long ago.

Synova said...

That's fine, Ritmo.

Now explain how other people avoid the trap of short term thinking.

Pull up some examples of long term thinking and trot them out so we can see the difference.

I think someone built a cathedral that took generations, once.

I don't think anyone voted on that.

Henry said...

Ritmo wrote The point is whether they are all flattened and determined to have one vote, one voice, and not a louder one.

And you would accomplish this how?

Before you get into any details, you need to distinguish between vote and voice. They aren't the same thing.

Now, give us particulars.

Synova said...

And while you're at it, explain why the process the government puts in place for pharmaceuticals to bring a product to market has no effect whatsoever on the economic behavior of those companies.

Or be bored.

Whatever.

Just pretend you gave me pithy things to chew on defending the notion that corporations are particularly short term in their goals while, presumably, our *untainted* politicians think beyond their next election.

Because I'm all sorts of persuadable there.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

What particulars, Henry? Years of legislation was struck down in one fell swoop by four ideologues and a liberal and, as far as I can tell, you think that's just swell. Cons like Gingrich say the legislation was.... "complicated!". That's their complaint. As far votes and voices go, we're talking about influence-peddling. Even the cons that actually play the game (i.e. politicians) aren't playing dumb and pretending to be so thick as to realize how simple that issue is.

So, no. I don't have to give particulars. Years of multiple legislative acts that had been upheld for some time should be particular enough - assuming you care to look into it.

And as far as cathedrals go, those were built by people focused on creating a physical symbol of eternity, dedicated to ideas that were explicitly non-temporal. The kingdoms and fiefdoms in which those cathedrals were built, OTOH...

People who care about America's long-term interests can obviously rise to the top - if you only give them half a chance and don't raise generations of Americans to think in sound-bites and force them into a culture afflicted with the political equivalent of attention deficit disorder. I mean, in the eighties and nineties, it was Crossfire. And Tim Russert wasn't much better. Simply getting one side to yell louder than the other doesn't solve a single problem and encourages each side to become more entrenched in ignoring their common interests. Who even uses the word "civics" anymore? I get the impression that poor Pogo thinks the DMV is a communist relic. I mean, come on! At least you're not so far gone as to believe that such a thing as a national, common interest - any national, common interest - in how the system works is a lost cause? Is all legislation bad? Should we repeal murder laws and help enrich the financial interests of hit men and bodyguards? I mean, hell! They're people too, aren't they? They have skills and need to feed their family, don't they? They have skills that the economy should reward, no?

It's because I can satirize your view that easily that David Chase created The Sopranos. Follow the themes in that series. It's all about how the most venal asshole in America feels that everyone else should redeem him (and you all will) if he simply pleads that he was contributing to the economy and trying to make a buck. And it was a huge hit! And you know why? Because there was, unfortunately, a lot truth to it in the minds of America.

That's how corrupt this all is.

Mark said...

Yes, George Soros is a U.S. citizen. But that makes him not-evil in exactly the same way it makes George Bush not-evil. Alpha, do you believe W. was on "your side"?

Well, I don't think George Soros is on my side, or on the side of the Constitution.

Take the venom of this link with as much salt as you want, but the actual facts are, well, factual:

George Soros: Open Society and Open Borders

Soros is an odd bird, definitely one of the geniuses of his generation. But someone who can willfully bring whole economies down for personal profit (no matter how "noble" his ultimate goals may be) is not someone you want to lose sight of in a knife-fight.

Synova said...

What put a nail in conservative's already bad opinion of McCain/Feingold was Obama making a promise in the interest of campaign finance reform to do the right thing and reject the big money in favor of matching funds... a measure promoted as a major element in reforming the evils that focused on big money and campaigns.

And all *you people* thought it was wonderful.

Trick me once...

Mark said...

What all this "Corporations have rights!" outrage ignores is that corporations come in all sizes, from simple Chapter S corporations to General Motors.

The big difference from a practical political standpoint is Chapter S corporations don't get government bailouts.

This ruling is a net plus for all the corporations who fall below the "I can buy one or more Congressmen" threshold. Which is of course most of them.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Here we get Synova's admission that if this were a true democracy, her party wouldn't win.

And again, with the "you people" verbiage.

What have you got against people, Synova? Are they trickier to deal with than, you know... money? Does it distress you that they are not easily reduced to such fungible things?

And of course, Mark's admission that he thinks money should play a role in buying elected officials is a refreshing one. He was apparently just jealous that the bigger guys had more money to peddle influence with than he did. So I guess that's a start.

Maybe some day he'll understand that money corrodes the process no matter who funnels it in.

Nah!

Mark said...

Ritmo, money always has and always will buy elections.

That's why Obama reneged on his promise to use public financing. He had more. (Wonder how his fat cat backers are feeling tonight....)

But thanks for the insult. Shows I'm ticking off the right people.

1jpb said...

The most hilarious comments are from the conservatives who think that corporations need more of a voice because the gov is in their business and gov is growing.

Y'all got the chicken and egg backwards. Corporations love gov contracts/subsidies/competitive advantages/high entry barriers for possible competitors. Now they'll be able to get even more. Hence bigger gov, not smaller.

Suckers.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...
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Ritmo Brasileiro said...
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Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Ritmo, money always has and always will buy elections.

Maybe in a country that was headed for financial collapse. And now, thanks to you, it will be once again.

That's why Obama reneged on his promise to use public financing. He had more. (Wonder how his fat cat backers are feeling tonight....)

See the discussion you missed between me and Synova on this. Things take time to straighten out. And they would have.

But thanks for the insult.

Anytime!

Shows I'm ticking off the right people.

Those people are apparently those of us with enough integrity to separate out a private interest from the public interest. And all people who are capable of identifying such a thing as a "conflict of interest". You have ticked all of them off. And insulted all of them. And a full frontal assault on the long term viability of your nation will be the result.

When Rome falls I will laugh at you from afar as I watch your fellow former citizens roast you in the ashes of your petty little fucking pretzel stand... or whatever picayune business you are so proud to not only be the proprietor of, but to kill your nation for.

Peter V. Bella said...

You people are really insane. The whole thread is on corporations. The rulling also incuded unions- those unions that spend millions on political campaigns, yet refuse to provide health care insurance for their memebers.

Can't you people read. It was not just corporations included in the ruling. Corrupt criminal unions were too. The ruling was fair and balanced.


BTW, I hope none of you bashers ever land a job in the provate sector. You will be working for the enemy.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Yes! Fair and balanced! (And did you have to pay a royalty to say that, Pete? Just curious.) Because our interest in keeping special interests from bankrupting the nation should go out the window in order to give unions a cut of the corruption! It's all about fairly sharing a slice of the corruption, you see! So sez Pete, anyway.

At this rate as long as the private company we should all work for is chartered in a country that isn't finding new and ever more interesting ways of bankrupting itself, then we'll be in good hands. But if you clean the grill at Mark's pretzel stand, things might not be so good.

Mark said...

Those people are apparently those of us with enough integrity to separate out a private interest from the public interest.

This of course assumes you can differentiate between the two, or are willing to do so. I supported Bush's strategies post 9/11 because I believed them to be in the public interest. (I still do.)

I don't know what private interest I might have had in supporting those policies, but I'm sure you can imagine some for me.

I myself can only support the things that I believe are the best for the country and for myself. I concede I may be wrong in either or both.

But I am damn well suspicious (to say the least) of anyone who is absolutely sure of either.

Mark said...

And Ritmo, if I were selling pretzels, I'd be providing relatively healthy food to the masses at a very affordable price, yes?

And if I were employing 50 pretzel sellers, I'd be providing reasonably priced food to the masses while providing a living wage to the vendors?

And dude, pretzel stands don't have grills.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

It's heartening to watch you make enough progress to realize that determining what's in the public interest is difficult enough for an average voter, Mark. And then you crash and burn by leaving unaddressed the implicit assumption that someone with a bigger purse would have an easier time and should have a bigger reward for making that determination.

Here's how it works: More interests, more concerns. If you have more money, you're already voting with that (and policies that affect that) in mind. So why you should have additional influence in the campaign to secure interests that only the market has any business determining, is beyond me. And if your candidate wins, who do you think he will feel indebted to? The voters who elected him or the moneyed interest(s) that propagandized and swayed that vote?

The candidate has the answer. And he knows who he works for. And that person wants money, not reform of the nation's system of finance. And he doesn't give a shit if we're in enough debt to be working for China. He'll skip town and settle in the Bahamas once a few Yuan buy what you'll need a wheelbarrow to cart around in an equivalent amount of dollars.

The politicians know who they work for. And the more you outsource their hiring decisions to those with a megaphone big enough to buy what happens at the ballot box, the further removed they become from what their constituents need.

It really isn't that complicated. You have outsourced what was once the citizenry to a coalition of companies. And it's a really, really stupid idea.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

How do they heat soft pretzels, then?

JAL said...

Chavez could dump money against candidates tomorrow

IIRC Chavez already tried to buy American votes by offering to provide heating oil to the poor a couple years back. (Those were the ones the Americans were letting freeze to death.)

Didn't young Joe (the greenie)Kennedy go for it? (But I think Chavez didn't come through with much, if any.)

See -- Chavez tried to buy Massachsettes and as seen a couple days ago, it didn't work.

Mark said...

Ritmo, you are a treasure. Figure it out. Do a little research. Find out what the word "grill" means.

In the meantime, don't try to impress anyone with your intellectual skills.

Steven said...

AlphaLiberal? I already answered your idiotic question before you asked it. To wit:

Is it speech?

Then the First Amendment protects it. The Amendment has no clauses providing any excuse for restriction of speech based on the speaker.

This is not hard. Speech is speech. Speech by corporations is speech. Speech by criminals is speech. Speech by foreigners is speech.

You don't like it? You can speak in favor of repealing the First Amendment, then. Go ahead.


If you think American democracy is so weak and so fragile that it needs special protection from mere speech by minions of Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin, go ahead and advocate repeal of the 1st Amendment. You have the right to advocate it. Go on, here's a statement for you to repeat:

"I, AlphaLiberal, believe American democracy to be so weak and the American people so stupid that we need to amend the Constitution to limit the application of the First Amendment. Otherwise Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin will destroy America."

Go ahead, say that.

Mark said...

And Ritmo, to address your less stupid arguments, the problem with regulating political speech is again one of differentiation.

If I'm against PelosiCare, am I against Obama?

Under McCain-Feingold, that's not an easy question to answer, and lawyers love questions that aren't easy to answer.

So my Pretzel-stand company is at-risk if we do any media (including putting up a "WTF" web site) speech against it.

So McCain-Feingold was at root an anti-populist act, even if that wasn't what either McCain or Feingold intended. Speech where you have to consider the cost of lawyering up to defend isn't, if fact, free.

So feel liberated, Ritmo. If anyone actually thinks your writing is worth something, you won't have to worry about being sued for it.

Synova said...

"What have you got against people, Synova? Are they trickier to deal with than, you know... money? Does it distress you that they are not easily reduced to such fungible things?"

Why do you distrust people so much that you want to control speech? Protect the people from themselves? From their poor judgment? Protect them from hearing stuff you don't like?

"Here we get Synova's admission that if this were a true democracy, her party wouldn't win."

Huh? Because I said that *your* party makes a lot of noise about campaign finance reform but no one has the integrity to follow rules or keep promises if they can avoid it? Was McCain extra virtuous for sticking to his promises or just extra stupid?

And then you say... well, the campaign finance reforms should have been given more time to work out better. More time for the fairness to happen? All that happened was people found more work-arounds and ways to raise cash that followed the letter and blatantly violated the spirit of the reforms.

At what point was anyone going to suddenly discover the spirit of the reforms? No one can trust the other side to do so and anyone would be stupid to handicap themselves that way.

And that's even assuming that there wasn't any constitutional issue of free speech or expression involved... which isn't the case.

This has nothing at all to do with which party would win or some fantasy where I think that allowing anyone to buy time for television ads without sending the donations through a PAC or one of the Parties instead of through an actual campaign is going to suddenly advantage Republicans.

Heck, it's entirely likely that if Coakley and the Dem party in Mass didn't have to pretend not to know each other for financial purposes "this ad is not approved by Martha Coakley or the Coakley for Senate campaign" she wouldn't have gotten tarred with that damaging Brown emergency room denial thing which they, and not she, put out.

I've not noticed any reticence by the Democrats when it comes to getting in bed with big business, big industry, or big money of any sort. Why would I think that conservatives would benefit particularly over Democrats?

You need to trust people to, in aggregate, make strong decisions or at the least to make mistakes that aren't dire.

If you don't trust people, trust voters, the only alternative is to attempt to control what they think by controlling what they hear.

People, in aggregate, are trustworthy. They don't need someone protecting them from ideas, not even ideas presented in slick advertising.

If you don't trust people, maybe I'm not the one who is worried about having a real democracy.

Roger J. said...

I am interested in Mr Obama's charge to congress to create legislation to subvert the SCOTUS decision--Mr Obama is Huey Long in black face.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Just like the ban on foreign contributions to candidates, foreigners are afforded few constitutional protections.

Except for those that want to kill all of us of course.

Calypso Facto said...

It's too bad this has devolved into Dem v. Rep again, because I agree with Gabriel that it's really about incumbents v. challengers. McCain-Feingold had bipartisan support because it helped incumbents of both parties lock in their already more than 90% re-election success and protected their campaign war chests against one type of threat.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Protect the people from themselves?

Which "people"? GlaxoSmithKline? General Motors? AIG? Bear Stearns?

Most thinking people understand that these are corporations. They are artificially constructed entities and cannot be equated to persons with natural rights. They do not get to vote in the political process. They do not require a voice.

And it's about time that they shut the fuck up. At least during the campaign when the important thing is that voters get to hear what the candidates themselves and other human persons (with a vote have) to say.

If you don't get a vote in the political process then there is no argument for your need to influence the election.