A short while ago I was asked my opinion of Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 US 310 (2010), and some of the new cases coming before the Supreme Court regarding campaign finance laws. While this article is short, it will encapsulate some of my thinking on the issue, and how I answered the question. It doesn’t purport to be a scholarly reply, as I am writing for a more general audience, but I hope that the comments contained herein provides some food for thought.
At its heart is the initial question of whether monetary contributions by individual citizens to political candidates is in fact speech. That question was answered affirmatively in the 1976 case of Buckley v. Valeo, 424 US 1 (1976), which struck down the 1974 amendments to the campaign finance laws pertaining to candidate expenditure, while upholding limits on individual campaign contributions. The central holding that is in fierce debate, namely that campaign contribution limitations are constitutional, has come into some question with the Citizen’s United decision, as well as some slightly older decisions during the first decade of the 21st Century. Read more
To all current and potential users,
THE POLITICUS would like to announce a raffle contest to win a brand new Go Pro Camera pictured above. How do I enter? Read more
The Federal Reserve said that it arranged the choice of more economic easing following the release of August's poor jobs report. Those efforts have been formulated, and were publicized on Thurs. Article resource: Fed Economic Stimuls
Drive down borrowing expenses
The Federal Reserve has decided it is necessary to drive down borrowing expenses even more after a two-day meeting with the policy committee. The Federal Reserve explained that it will spend $40 each month on mortgage backed securities to do this. This will be a 3rd round of “quantitative reason.”
Short term interest rates will stay at historic lows for six months longer than they used to until the end of 2015. The Federal bank has publicized this change in policy.
In 2013 and 2014, the Federal Reserve lowered its growth outlook for 2012 from 2.4 percent to 2 percent. By 2014, the unemployment rate is anticipated to decrease from 8.1 percent to 6.7 percent too.
Stock market rallies following announcement Read more
A bishop in a Mormon church outside Salt Lake City has shined a light on the hypocrisy and selfishness of members of his church by dressing as a homeless man and gauging their reactions to him. David Musselman had a makeup artist transform his face and donned an unkempt wig, fake beard, and glasses. He then entered the church last Sunday and approached churchgoers to see what they would do. He found many of them did not practice what he preached:
"Many actually went out of their way to purposefully ignore me, and they wouldn't even make eye contact. I'd approach them and say, 'Happy Thanksgiving.' Many of them I wouldn't ask for any food or any kind of money, and their inability to even acknowledge me being there was very surprising."
Most of Musselman's church members ignored him, although five of them actually asked him to leave.
Not so long ago, CNN conducted a poll asking American consumers whether or not they felt oil companies were overcharging them for gasoline. The correct answer is obviously yes, but you might be surprised to learn that 2% of the people surveyed felt that they weren’t paying too much for gasoline. Who are these people that feel they’re getting a good deal at the pump?
We’ll tell you who they are. Millionaires. They’re millionaires, or children of millionaires, or people who own the oil companies (but that’s the same as millionaires...or billionaires). They’re people who are millionaires, billionaires, complete idiots, or all of the above. They’re people who own things like airplanes, football teams, and senators. They’re people who have memberships to wine clubs, country clubs, and gentlemen's clubs. They’re people who listen to Yanni, Enya, and Charlotte Church. They’re people who have sex with people who charge a lot of money for sex with people.
They’re people who think this country is headed in the right direction and not for certain death and destruction. Read more
Lately a memory has been haunting me a little bit. It was a television image that I noticed during the frantic, wall to wall TV coverage of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. While firefighters were scrambling through the dust and smoke of New York City, the anchor tossed to a reporter on the Beltway in Washington D.C.. The freeway was packed with federal employees. Some had provisions strapped to the top of their Range Rovers while other were furiously peddling their mountain bikes, as back packs full of canned goods swayed from their perspiration stained torsos, towards Maryland. All were abandoning the city. Lesson: These folks will cut and run.
None of them were even remotely interested in talking with reporters. Think about that for a second. The Washington elite, the people we entrust to fight for our interests, no matter how we define those interests; leaving their posts and fleeing the capitol...and refusing an opportunity to talk with the press! Read more
Free markets and college football. Deeply embedded into the sociocultural fabric of American life, these two time-honored traditions are incompatible. Why is scandalous headline after scandalous headline born from the act of receiving compensation for working hard, an act that is laudable in every other profession? The answer lies in one dogmatic, pious, hypocritical, bloated bureaucracy of a governing body: the National Collegiate Athletic Association. However, with targeted new policies, the NCAA and member schools can enjoy the best of both worlds.
An Environment of Inequity
The collegiate athletic system desperately demands reform. Young men and women are putting in 50-hour workweeks, on top of classes, and all they have to show for it is NCAA President Mark Emmert’s $1.7 million dollar salary. To put it bluntly, the NCAA’s revenues and operating budget thrive off the exploitation and suppression of “student-athletes” with nowhere else to turn for a playing field. Read more
Michael Stinnett - 9/03/2013: Legal rulings such as Citizens United and lax campaign financing laws have undermined the democratic process allowing wealthy donors to buy elections; so-called Super PACs are a pernicious influence on society and should be abolished. A Super PAC, or independent expenditure-only committee, “may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis – the Super PAC's choice – as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates” (Super PACs). The recent ruling protects political spending by corporations in candidate elections, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. In justifying the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that “'If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech'” (The New York Times). Read more
As the director of a nonprofit 501(c)(3), I have had to quickly learn how these kinds of organizations function. I had been an employee, volunteer, and member of nonprofits in the past, but taking a leadership position in one has been an entirely new experience. Now, I understand these organizations are sophisticated endeavors meant to do nothing less than fill in for government.
Where our representative government and its bureaucracy have utterly failed to meet the needs of communities in the US, nonprofits have stepped in. The modern nonprofit is a uniquely American creation, as other developed nations utilize the power and resources of government for education, arts, environment, health care, nutritional programs, etc.
In America, these kinds of “progressive” agendas can be defunded and neglected by local, state, and national branches of government. In response to unmet needs, grassroots groups form to gather resources, provide services, educate, and empower identified populations in their communities. In short, regular people are called and chosen by their neighbors to make what is missing and to scrape together resources. Read more
In the early 1970's, a group of scientists announced that after conducting some tests, they had concluded that the compound ozone seemed to have depleted in the upper atmosphere.
Time magazine ran with the story by suggesting that scientists had discovered a "hole in the Ozone Layer". All of the science turned out to be wrong but not before the media had blamed spray-on deodorant and the U.S. government had issued a ton of grant money and passed laws that controlled people’s lives.
Science had a new hypothesis: Warnings of man-made disaster equals Big Bucks
Since the research on the ozone didn’t really work; leftists re-packaged the scare tactic and called it Global Warming. For two decades they managed to grab federal cash and gain control over people’s lives by scaring the hell out of everyone.
After twenty years and no data to back up their claims; liberal scientists did some more research. This time they conducted focus groups to find out why people didn’t care about global warming. They found that people didn’t care because the globe had not become warmer. Not to be deterred they decided to “re-brand” Global Warming by calling it “Climate Change”. Read more
As we learn that the NSA domestic surveillance is far more widespread and invasive than we knew, the Senate talks tough but flees from action, timidly agreeing to sacrifice our privacy.
The NSA is culling all domestic phone records, and can access internet activity worldwide, but we're scared of our own intelligence industry, so focus one whistleblower stranded in Russia.
And Congress votes down an amendment to put an end to the NSA's radical operations, with those who get defense contractor money voting to keep the programs alive.
Meanwhile, we're assured that the US is safer now that a 25-year-old soldier is behind bars.
Whatever you think of Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, leaks and whistleblowers, they aren't the problem we should be focused on.
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. In this case, the NSA's plans have gone too far, Manning and others like him have manned up, but our political leaders are proving skittish as mice.
You know they're listening, now be heard as your share ideas and a pint or two at your local progressive social club.
DRINKING LIBERALLY Find - or start - a chapter near you.
In May 2009, former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson wrote an important essay in The Atlantic on the origins and implications of the 2008 financial collapse, called "The Quiet Coup."
The financial gloom that swept over the US economy at the twilight of the George W. Bush administration was "shockingly reminiscent" of other Third World, emerging economy crises Johnson had witnessed during his days at the IMF.
In each case, he said, concerns that the financial sector could not pay off the debts it had accumulated caused capital markets to seize up, forcing firms like Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy as fear of insolvency became a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Weaknesses in the banking system "quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy," said Johnson, "causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people." Read more
It seems puzzling that Harvard University would grant tenure, let alone appoint someone to be the chairman of its economics department, who fundamentally doesn't believe in economics. But there it is, all spelled out in a much talked about new paper, "Defending the One Percent," by Harvard economics professor and former Mitt Romney advisor, N. Gregory Mankiw, in the June issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
After summarily dispensing with the arguments offered by those on "the left" for greater income equality, specifically those of Joseph Stiglitz who condemns today's yawning wage gap as not only unjust and obscene but economically inefficient as well, Mankiw concludes his 25-page apologia for the bulging portfolios of today's plutocrats by asserting that taxing the wealthy to support socially useful purposes is just plain "wrong." Read more
Yes. I busted my ass for Obama the first time around.
Opened my checkbook, campaigned, knocked on doors. Did everything I could to see that he carried Florida in the Presidential election.
Not easy in a place where Fred Thompson signs were as common as plastic pink flamingos at the time during the primary and right wing nuts carried Soviet flags outside of local Obama campaign headquarters. Where women thought Palin was the essence of true feminism. I had the lone Obama sign on my lawn in a sea of McCain - Palin cardboard.
But I got the last laugh. At least I thought so at the time.
We had elected a Democratic President and controlled the two Houses of Congress. And we carried Florida.
Maybe something would get done.
Maybe universal healthcare. Maybe peace would come. Maybe a society which would leave behind racism. Maybe repeal of the Bush tax giveaways to billionaires. Maybe we would spend money on people rather than aircraft carriers. Maybe we would stop torturing people. Maybe Gitmo would close.
Maybe. Read more
Its Sunday April 28th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1967, Muhammad Ali refused induction into the U.S. military. The self-proclaimed "Greatest Fighter of All Time" cited religious reasons for staging his most important fight; a fight against institutionalized, senseless killing. Take a moment to process these statements - yes, a fighter by profession and religious person (Ali converted to Islam in 1964) refused to go to war! Ali was fined $10,000, sentenced to 5 years in prison, and was stripped of the world title he had won by beating Sonny Liston. He avoided prison while appealing all the way to the highest court, and lost his heavyweight title the first time the same year he won his case in 1971. Muhammad Ali is the only three-time boxing world champion, and is still one of the most intriguing figures in American history. His reason for refusing conscription was because "I ain't got no quarrel with those Vietcong." Amazing that the government of a "Christian nation" would seek to take everything from a person who was acting exactly in the manner that Jesus would have prescribed. Read more