The Supreme Court Rules On Campaign Finance

Thursday, January 21, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.

From NPR’s “Watching Washington” Blog:

The Supreme Court Scrambles Politics — Again

Many people will hear about Thursday’s landmark Supreme Court decision freeing corporations to mount political campaigns and say the court has blown up politics as we know it.

By bringing corporations (and by extension, labor unions) back into the electioneering fray, the court has restarted a spending war Congress had tried to restrain over the past generation — most recently with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, best known for its co-sponsoring senators, John McCain (R-AZ) and Russell Feingold (D-WI).

So long as they do not give to candidates directly, corporations can spend whatever they wish to support or oppose candidates for president or Congress. They are free to exercise their rights of free speech under the First Amendment. Just like citizens. Their rights cannot be suppressed on the basis of their “corporate identity,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The ramifications for this year’s congressional elections and the 2012 presidential contest are sure to be profound. What does it mean, for example, for an investment bank such as Goldman Sachs, which had the cash to pay $16 billion in compensation to its employees for 2009, when a major issue before Congress this year is a tax on those bonuses? (Read the whole column here).

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has launched an online petition against the decision. The text reads:

Unlimited corporate spending on campaigns means the government is up for sale and that the law itself will be bought and sold. It would be political bribery on the largest scale imaginable.

This issue transcends partisan political arguments. We cannot have a government that is bought and paid for by huge multinational corporations. You must stop this.

From The Courthouse News Service:

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Supreme Court today killed a central part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and ruled that corporations may spend as much as they wish to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress. The 5-4 vote left intact limits on corporate gifts to individual candidates (read the whole story here).

Following the decision, George Will declared the ruling as a radical defense for freedom of speech. In reply, E.J. Dionne argues that will amount to a corporate take over of politics.

Also see here for the story on the Court’s ruling on campaign finance reform from RealClearPolitics.

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The Reform of the Democratic Presidential Nomination Process

Monday, November 23, 2009 \AM\.\Mon\.

The Democratic primary election rules direly need to be reformed. Admittedly, it would seem at first glance that raising this issue seems to be a bit premature. Yet the primary election rules that will affect 2012 and beyond will be set by the DNC at the 2010 convention. This is especially true since DNC Chair Tim Kaine has already created a Democratic Change Commission, which will recommend changes to the Democratic Party’s rules for the 2012 presidential nominating and delegate selection process so that 2012 and beyond never becomes the quagmire that 2008 was. The Democratic Change Commission will address three issues: 1) changing the window of time during which primaries and caucuses may be held 2) reducing the number of super delegates and 3) improving the caucus system. The Commission must issue its report and recommendations to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee no later than January 1, 2010. Therefore criticism of the current system now is quite appropriate as it affects the future shape of a system that governs the way Americans may exercise their civic duties.

Looking back on the Election 2008, I fully agreed with Hillary Clinton supporters advocating for the abolition of the caucus system. At the time, of course, Obama supporters were suspicious that such criticism was due to anger that Clinton lost the Democratic presidential primary.  This may have been true for some; but the evidence, I think, overwhelmingly shows that the caucus system is flawed. Read the rest of this entry »


Let’s find the fallacy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 \PM\.\Tue\.

Yesterday The Nation‘s John Nichols wrote a rather scathing piece about President Obama: the piece is entitled “Whiner-in-Chief” and the first line reads, “The Obama administration really needs to get over itself.”

Of course, I tend to agree with perspectives like that. 🙂  But near the end of the piece Nichols tries to argue that the country isn’t as divided as the White House thinks, and along the way, he makes a heckuva non sequitur:

Read the rest of this entry »


The Future of American Elections: Online Voting?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 \PM\.\Wed\.

It seems that technological development has made its mark on all sectors of daily life. Why not the democratic process?

The arguments seem reasonable.

The city of Honolulu, Hawaii implemented an “all digital” election in recent local elections, i.e. the ballots were cast either on the Internet, or by phone. This experiment hasn’t made a statement either way for other levels of government. But what would it mean, if millions of people voted from the comfort of their own home — how much hassle and money, in terms of state and federal spending, could be saved if we employed a “digital democracy?”

There are more than 500 million units of fixed-line and mobile telephones in a country of about 305 million. And some 223 million Americans enjoy internet access, the majority of which is broadband.

Read the rest of this entry »


Levin on the Palin Phenomenon

Thursday, February 5, 2009 \PM\.\Thu\.

As the election becomes more a matter of history than immediate emotion, it is a good time for sober analysis of what went on in the 2008 election. Yuval Levin has a very good analysis in Commentary Magazine of the phenomenon that was Sarah Palin’s candidacy. In framing the controversy he makes an interesting distinction:

In American politics, the distinction between populism and elitism is further subdivided into cultural and economic populism and elitism. And for at least the last forty years, the two parties have broken down distinctly along this double axis. The Republican party has been the party of cultural populism and economic elitism, and the Democrats have been the party of cultural elitism and economic populism. Republicans tend to identify with the traditional values, unabashedly patriotic, anti-cosmopolitan, non-nuanced Joe Sixpack, even as they pursue an economic policy that aims at elite investor-driven growth. Democrats identify with the mistreated, underpaid, overworked, crushed-by-the-corporation “people against the powerful,” but tend to look down on those people’s religion, education, and way of life. Republicans tend to believe the dynamism of the market is for the best but that cultural change can be dangerously disruptive; Democrats tend to believe dynamic social change stretches the boundaries of inclusion for the better but that economic dynamism is often ruinous and unjust.

Both economic and cultural populism are politically potent, but in America, unlike in Europe, cultural populism has always been much more powerful. Americans do not resent the success of others, but they do resent arrogance, and especially intellectual arrogance.

Addressing how Palin’s candidacy turned this cultural fact into a firestorm, he says:

Read the rest of this entry »


A Prayer

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 \AM\.\Tue\.

O Father in Heaven,

Today we stand at a crossroads, and we ask humbly for Your guidance.  We pray for the graces to discern with open eyes and a clear understanding of Your intent for us this day.  Help us to be humble, to not let overweening pride or human ideology come between us and Your holy plan.  Let not our will, but Yours be done in this election, and provide us with the strength and courage to face the future regardless of the outcome.  Let the charity in our hearts never die; may our faith in You never wane; may our hope never extinguish.

Read the rest of this entry »


Defend Marriage. Defend Life. Protect the Future.

Monday, November 3, 2008 \PM\.\Mon\.

Readers in California, please don’t forget that as you attempt to chose a pro-Life candidate for President of the US you are also being called to defend marriage by voting Yes on Proposition 8. Whether they are beloved friends, co-workers or relatives, we all probably all know gays and lesbians that we love and care deeply about; many of them may be in long-term loving relationships. But let’s not fool ourselves, a “marriage” between two people of the same sex is not a marriage in Christ. It is not love in the way Christ called us to love one another and the more we head down this path of destroying the institution of marriage, the further we move down the road to our own destruction as a society.

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