Only #Sanders has any credibility on controlling Wall Street and reforming campaign financing

There is only one candidate for president with any credibility when it comes to reining in Wall Street and doing something to end the corrupting influence that Big and Dark Money have over our elected officials.

Compare Bernie

As terrible as right-wing and ultra-conservative ideology is for everyone (including the ‘true believers’ who live with the rest of us 99-percenters), the problem of corruption that comes from unlimited and unregulated money that floods our democracy is one that can actually be solved now if we elect the right people.

http://anticorruptionact.org/

Model legislation exists. See the American Anti-Corruption Act.

 

What can we do?

  • First, get registered if you aren’t and vote in the primaries for Sanders.
  • Second, vote for him in the General.
  • Third and perhaps most importantly, vote Republicans out of every other office on the ballot.

Every. Single. One.

No, Democrats aren’t pure and innocent on the issue of money. Hillary is the largest recipient in pretty much every way, but understand this.

This isn’t about her, and money is absolutely corrupting Republicans in ways that result in far worse outcomes for everyone, economically and socially.

According to OpenSecrets.org, Republican presidential candidates get….

  • 62.6% of all Commercial Bank contributions
  • 70.4% of all Hedge Fund & Private Equity contributions
  • 74.7% of Insurance
  • 88.1% of Oil & Gas
  • 58.6% of Pharma
  • 65.2% of Securities & Investment

….and the list goes on.

Who is the most responsible for our economic woes? See above.

The real icing on the cake is how we got to this sorry state. The single biggest reason is given to us courtesy of the Supreme Court.

The only Supreme Court Justices who ruled for Big Money in the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases were those appointed by a Republican president.

Sanders is the only one talking about overturning these decisions as a condition for any appointments he’d make.

How much more convincing will it take to reach our fellow 99-percenters who prefer Hillary or who think that they’re Republicans?

95 percent

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The Tea Party and Move On: Finding Common Ground? No, Not Where It Matters

This was an interesting conversation. (The audio kicks in correctly at 1:30, so be patient)

First, I applaud the idea of not losing sight of the fact that we’re all human beings. As National Tea Party Patriots co-founder and Citizens for Self Governance founder, Mark Meckler, points out toward the end of the conversation, we shouldn’t objectify each other. I agree, and I humbly admit that I need to keep reminding myself about that.

He and Joan Blades, the co-founder of MoveOn and MomsRising.org, say they agree that there’s common ground on the PROBLEM of crony capitalism.

Unfortunately, it seems that we can add the SOLUTION of campaign finance reform to the list of things that are NOT common ground.

If you don’t want to listen to the whole discussion, go to the 38:50 mark. Listen to the question asked plus the one that follows. Listen to what Meckler says in response to both.

He says that he, like Lawrence Lessig, wants an Article V convention to amend the Constitution. He says he wants it, however, for completely different reasons than Lessig.

Meckler blames crony capitalism not on the people, corporations, and organizations buying our government today. He blames it on the size of government. He posits that private money is basically being driven by self-interest. He says they are motivated to corrupt government because government is so big and so ubiquitous that private money can hardly be blamed for wanting to influence it. This becomes especially apparent when the conversation turns to his belief in the “rational actor theory” and to a basic investment and business principle: return on investment.

He says (and I’m paraphrasing) that if we just shrink government – and I assume he means primarily the federal government – that we’ll see less corruption because the incentives for big money interests to funnel millions and even billions of dollars into the coffers of our elected officials will be diminished because the returns will be smaller.

This sounds to me like he’s exonerating Big Money. He seems to be saying that the government is just too big and too tempting a place not to “invest” in because the returns from those investments are just too attractive to resist.

That is a stunning position to take. It strikes me as blaming the victim instead of the criminal, and it reveals how Meckler presumably distinguishes between right and wrong.

Meckler also says that reforming campaign finance laws is futile. He says the money will just go further underground. So like David Brooks, Meckler doesn’t see the need to reform our campaign finance laws. And while he doesn’t make the distinction, one must conclude that Meckler thinks it’s futile regardless of the size of government.

Which brings me to the question I struggle with endlessly when it comes to finding common ground.

It’s what I call “the morning after” quandary. Now that we have common ground on the PROBLEM, what about the SOLUTION?

Let’s assume for a minute that everyone agrees that crony capitalism is a problem – the problem – that needs to be solved. Great. We now have common ground from which to work.

Now let’s assume we agree that the required action is to get 2/3 of the states to call for an Article V convention to amend the Constitution. We’re not at the solution yet, mind you, but we’ve agreed on an action.

Now here’s where principles, purposes, and goals begin to diverge.

People like Lawrence Lessig (and Move To Amend, Wolf-PAC, I, and lots of others) want to amend the Constitution to reverse Citizens United and McCutcheon in order to get big money and its corrupting influence out of government no matter the size of government.

Lessig (along with Represent.Us and lots of us) also want to significantly reform campaign finance laws through legislation like the American Anti-Corruption Act.

Mark Meckler disagrees. He says so himself.

So, we all work together to get to an Article V convention only to find ourselves in opposition as to what amendments are needed. Some of us want to take the corrupting money out of government, while others want to shrink government and its role in overseeing and regulating how that money is made.

It’s the morning after.

How am I supposed to consider Meckler an ally if we’re this far apart? Hasn’t there been enough conversation and debate yet to come to conclusions with certainty on both the problems and the solutions?

Meckler disagrees with Lessig. That’s his prerogative. Perhaps the question to ask is, “Which of them knows more about the fundamentals of the problems and which one of them has the solutions that will benefit the most Americans?”

They both can’t be right when they’re this far apart.

Joan Blades deserves only our admiration and respect for her approach and her work. She’s an inspiration. But, I’m getting more than a little tired of the left always being the ones who must listen and who must keep moving to the right just to try to find some kind of center or common ground. It’s time for the right to move to their left.

Bernie Sanders recently reminded us about just how radical the right and the GOP have become since the days when Charles Koch was a Libertarian vice presidential candidate who criticized Ronald Reagan for being too liberal. The dangerous ideas and ideology espoused back then have evolved into mainstream conservative and Republican dogma.

Meckler strikes me as simply a kinder, gentler face on it, and I hope people will see and understand that.

Agreeing on the problem is great, but it isn’t enough. There also has to be agreement on how to solve the problem; otherwise, the cure could easily end up being worse than the disease.

As for open dialog and civility, I’d be glad to have a living room conversation with Mark Meckler. He seems from the video to be a nice enough guy. I’d be happy to sit on his deck, have some wine, and look out over his neighbor’s vineyard.

Until the invitation arrives, I’ll just keep doing what I can to support people like Lawrence Lessig who are far more qualified to understand the problems and to know how to solve them than Mark Meckler.

New Website Design Aims to Make Campaign Finance Reports Easier to Find

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

The Pennsylvania Department of State has redesigned the portion of its website that contains campaign finance reports.

Greg Russak‘s insight:

By DEANNA GARCIA
The Pennsylvania Department of State has redesigned the portion of its website that contains campaign finance reports. Spokesman Ron Ruman said the old site design was confusing.

“It was set up in a way that perhaps made sense to candidates or people that file campaign finance reports and that sort of thing,” said Ruman, “but to the average citizen that doesn’t deal with those things a lot it was kind of confusing, it wasn’t necessarily intuitive in the way it did the searches.”

Campaign contributions and expenditures are public information by law and the website that contains the reports has been operating for several years.

“The new campaign finance website, we think, is much more common sense in the way people put information into search, it’s much more intuitive,” said Ruman. “Most people probably come to this website looking for campaign finance reports, so that’s the default search.”

 

Read more at http://wesa.fm/post/new-website-design-aims-make-campaign-finance-reports-easier-find

 

See on wesa.fm

You Do Know That’s an Anchor – the Lie of Supply-Side Economics

I was raised by people born before The Great Depression. Their parents were part of the great migration from Europe at the turn of the 20th century. They rose from hardscrabble and meager beginnings to become the prototypical hard-working, high school educated, American middle class suburbanites who made the Golden Age of America post-World War II so Golden.

All things being equal, their lives followed an arc that worked out to be just about as good as any middle class citizen anywhere could hope to have.

They were not “makers”, nor were they “takers.” Make no mistake, though, it was they who built this country, not the rich, and it will be the middle class who rescues it and rebuilds it again.

Our chances go way up and our recovery will come much faster if some of us in the middle class stop buying into the lie of supply-side economics.

It is not just some failed economic theory. It is a lie perpetrated on Americans by those who stand to benefit from it – the rich and powerful who run our corporations and our government.

Robert Reich spells out again – for the umpteenth time – in his blog, “Why The Three Biggest Economic Lessons Were Forgotten.”

But don’t let the title mislead you. The lessons have not been forgotten, at least not by everyone. Not to put too fine a point on it, the only people who might be fairly accused of having forgotten these lessons are those allowing themselves to be duped by the precious few who benefit by having us forget important economic lessons.

The “precious few” to whom I refer are, of course, the oligarchs in both the private and public sectors. They have duped some of us into believing that trickle-down economics is anything but one incredibly big lie.

To those of you in the 99% who continue to buy into and to perpetuate the lie of supply-side economics, I’d like to ask you a few questions:

Why do you insist on selling yourselves and all of the rest of us in the 99% short by not acknowledging that it is we, not the rich, who are the true engines of capitalism?

Is it not our prosperity and our wealth that improves our economy and allows it to work to everyone’s benefit?

Is it not our purchasing power and our demand for goods and services that makes us and not the rich the true job creators?

Why do you persist in insulting yourselves and the rest of us by believing that all that we deserve in a capitalist economy is what trickles down as overflow from the rich?

It was 33 years ago last month when Ronald Reagan used his inaugural address to vilify the very government he had just been elected to lead. Are three decades not enough time to learn a lesson? Can we not yet conclude that he was wrong? Isn’t it time to abandon supply-side economics and go back in some ways to what we know has worked before?

What’s needed now and more than ever is for the private and public sectors to be brought back into balance in ways that resemble 1946 to 1974 more than 1980 to 2014.

It cannot be denied. The rich have gotten richer while most of us have either stagnated or fallen backward thanks to trickle-down economic theory. We have endured it long enough. If it actually worked, we would now be absolutely swimming in an ocean of opportunities buoyed up for everyone as the economic tide rose.

Anchor-submergedExcept for the very well off, all of our boats have remained tied to the dock while the water has risen up and over our heads. It’s time we all realized that those folks above us on their yachts are not concerned about us. We won’t be floating to the surface to join them if we don’t work together.

Some of you need to stop defending them and understand that the line they’ve thrown you has an anchor attached to it.

Remember when we were kids and we were taught that when we made a mistake the right thing to do was to admit it and to learn from it? Well, here’s your chance. Besides, what do you have to lose? The economic theory you like just hasn’t worked. It was a mistake, and now it’s time for you to admit that and learn from it. It’s time for you to join us Keynesians. History proves that approach works. Supply-side never has and it never will.

The first thing we do is work together on a common goal – getting money out of politics.

When (not if) we get the big and secret money out of our politics, our elected officials in both parties will actually have no choice but to represent us instead of their wealthy donors. Think about it. We still have a voice in our politics. It’s a voice that can be much, much louder in government than any voice most of us will ever hope to have at any corporate shareholder meeting, right?

Once we take back control of government from the rich, then we’ll have representatives with real power to control and contain the corporatists and to end crony capitalism. No, this is NOT Socialism in the scary-red-menace-under-the-bed sense. It’s about doing away with corruption and bringing fairness and balance that benefits all of society.

How and where to begin?

There are lots of grass-roots groups working hard out there to #GetMoneyOut of politics. Pick a few, or pick just one, but do something.

As Kathleen, a Coffee Party friend, advises us, “Get Engaged!”

Check out Coffee Party USA.

http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/

I no longer support or advocate for Coffee Party USA. Click here to read why, and please Comment if you find posts on this site that I missed with this update. Thanks.

They’re a bunch of volunteers keeping Americans informed, and they’re doing a better job of it than the 1% media channels. They are also focused on getting Americans to engage in civil, fact-based dialog meant to find solutions to our social and political challenges. You can find them and join the conversation at their web site, Facebook page, Twitter, and Scoop.it pages. They pride themselves on being inclusive, so you’ll find lots of voices with lots of different perspectives.

https://represent.us/
https://represent.us/
http://anticorruptionact.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/

There’s also Represent.Us. They are led by some really, really smart people who are working to reform campaign finance laws and to put elections back in our hands instead of in the hands of wealthy donors and super PACs. Their work is focused on the American Anti-Corruption Act which would make reform possible tomorrow if more of us demanded it from our elected leaders.

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/

Wolf PACThere’s also Move To Amend and WolfPAC who are calling ordinary citizens to actions in their state capitols and all around the country. Their work is directed toward ultimately amending the Constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that opened the money floodgates into our elections.

History doesn’t lie. It might get written by the victors, but we live in an age now where it’s easy to vet it and to discover and understand the truth. The truth is that supply-side economics does not work.

It’s time some of us let go of the anchor.

UncleSamWantsYou

“I’m capable of it, so why wouldn’t I do it?” – One Engaged Citizen Who’s a Model for Us All


I’m extremely proud to report that Coffee Party USA posted this essay and invited Kathleen as a guest to speak about her experiences on one of their BlogTalkRadio shows, Lunch With Louden.

keep-calm-and-get-engaged-18Kathleen’s laughter is contagious as she happily explains her use of the word, “chatty,” as part of her email ID.  She’s one of the most genuinely engaging people I’ve had the pleasure to talk with thanks to CoffeePartyUSA and the Coffee Party BlogTalkRadio shows, and it’s my privilege to tell her story about her visits to her state legislators’ offices.

Kathleen is too modest to say this, but I will. She’s a model citizen. She shows us all how powerful we as citizens can be. And without intending to (and without wanting any fanfare for it), she offers lessons on how we all can have an impact and more influence in our government.

Kathleen (yes, she’s too modest to let me use her last name) emphasizes throughout our conversation that she’s not some Constitutional expert. She says, “I’m just following my conscience.”

She loves animals, volunteers at an animal shelter and, not surprisingly, has adopted a few! She hosts an annual cleanup of a local beach, and is so genuinely modest that when she bakes desserts around the holidays and delivers them to the local firehouse “just because it’s the right the thing to do,” she won’t even give the fire chief her name.

You can tell by talking with her that Kathleen stays well-informed. She talked about always voting in elections, but says that that was the extent of her involvement with government until recently. Like many of us, she, too, had begun to lose faith in politics, politicians, and in our government.

That was until Facebook and her discovery of groups like Coffee Party USA and Wolf PAC. In fact, she credits a Coffee Party BlogTalkRadio show interview with Michael Monetta, Director of Organizing for Wolf PAC, a grass roots organization intent on reversing the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, for changing her perspective about what needs to change and how she could be part of that change.

That show awoke in Kathleen the possibilities for how she and the rest of us can help to fix our broken political system. The energy and enthusiasm in her voice is electrifying as she says, “He [Monetta] gave me hope that I had lost. He moved me so much that I looked him up on the Internet, and I jumped in with both feet!”

It’s people like Kathleen, Michael Monetta, Harvard Law professor and respected activist, Lawrence Lessig, and thousands of other ordinary Americans across the country who are working to make a difference. They are visiting their elected officials and state houses to encourage them to call for an Article V Convention to amend the Constitution to end corporate personhood and to publicly finance all elections in this country – essentially a reversal of the Citizens United decision.

So what did Kathleen do?

She started out by attending her first-ever public hearing on resolutions in the Massachusetts state house and senate. You hear genuine excitement when she talks about it. “I didn’t know they had hearings! I didn’t know you could just show up and speak!”

So she and some of her new Wolf PAC friends went to the hearings in Boston. Kathleen wasn’t ready to speak, but she sat and she listened to people like Lessig and Monetta and others. She learned, and she became inspired and confident in her newfound knowledge and understanding of what an Article V Convention was all about, and why it’s being proposed as the solution for fixing our broken campaign finance and political systems.

After that, the next step was easy. Kathleen called her state representative and her state senator and asked for a meeting to talk about the resolutions calling for the Article V State Convention.

Literally days later, she was in their offices.

Kathleen started by calling the office of her state representative, James Cantwell. She simply told the aide that she lived in the district and that she, “…had something I wanted to discuss with him.” She was pleasantly surprised when the aide then asked if she preferred coming into the state office or the district office.

Kathleen said, “I was shocked! I had no idea it was that easy!” She said it was easier and less painful than getting an appointment with her dentist, and she’ll emphatically tell you, “It was a lot less stressful than going to the dentist, too!”

Just two days after her call, there she was shaking hands with Representative Cantwell.

“I know you,” he said as they met. Kathleen was pleasantly surprised that he did. You see, she remembered him, but didn’t expect him to remember her. Mr. Cantwell was one of Kathleen’s customers at the bank where she used to work, and she had voted for him early in his political career when he ran for Selectman in the town where they both had lived at the time. Kathleen had also prepared by reviewing Mr. Cantwell’s biography at the state web site where she was able to educate herself on his voting record and even learn about his volunteer work.

This really does reinforce the point that we are our government, doesn’t it? The people we elect to state capitols and to DC to represent us really are our neighbors. It’s something worth remembering when we interact with them, and that we hope they’ll remember, too. It sure turned out that way for Kathleen and James Cantwell.

“It was good to make a personal connection with him,” Kathleen said. “It made the quality of the meeting better. He knew I had taken an interest in him, his history, and his voting record.”

Kathleen also talked about how it was her preparation that really put her at ease.

In addition to his biography, Kathleen spent the night before and that morning reviewing what an Article V Convention is and how it works. She also read up on the Supreme Court’s Buckley v Valeo and Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission decisions. She reviewed the now eviscerated Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (often referred to as McCain-Fiengold), and the notes that she took with her included the House and Senate resolution numbers and who sponsored them.

She spent 45 minutes talking with Mr. Cantwell. Kathleen described it as a pleasant and even personal conversation, and says it would have been easy given the shared history of volunteerism and community to just have a casual discussion.

But, Kathleen was on a mission, and she kept her focus.

She was careful to describe her concern as, “An Article V Convention of the States,” instead of as a “Constitutional Convention.” Why? Because as Kathleen describes it so aptly and with a tone of good humor, “That can scare the hell out of people. The thought of amending the Constitution terrifies government officials.”

She gave Mr. Cantwell a general overview of what she knew about amending the Constitution, what she wanted in terms of an Article V Convention, and then asked him for his support. She’s happy to report that she has it.

The resolution in Massachusetts, however, is in Joint Committees now. Kathleen knows that Mr. Cantwell, not being on the committee, can’t have an immediate impact until it comes out of committee.

Ah, but Kathleen also knows this. “People talk. They go out to lunch together. They pass each other in the hall. Hopefully, he’ll be an advocate and get into conversations with other reps or senators to move the resolution forward.”

She also made a point of telling Mr. Cantwell that she believes that there are good people in Congress who want to do the right things, but that too many of them are too beholden to money. He agreed with her that Congress is broken, and that something must be done about it.

It might surprise you to learn that Kathleen’s political party affiliation was never brought up. Neither Mr. Cantwell nor his aides ever asked her about it. To her credit, Kathleen stayed focused on her concerns. It wasn’t about ideology for her (even though she and her rep share a party affiliation) and she didn’t take an ideologue’s approach. It’s undoubtedly a big part of the reason why Mr. Cantwell allowed Kathleen to do most of the talking, and why she reports him as listening attentively to her.

It was a little different story with her state Senator’s office.

When she called Senator Hedlund’s office, she got an appointment just five days later but it was with the senator’s aide and not the senator.

She resisted the temptation to demand a meeting with the senator. She felt that wouldn’t get her very far. She accepted the aide’s invitation, and they met for an hour.

As opposed to her meeting with Mr. Cantwell, Senator Hedlund’s aide interjected things into the discussion that had nothing to do with Kathleen’s agenda.

Kathleen kept her cool. She said she kept telling herself, “It’s not what I’m here for. It’s not what I’m here for.” She stayed calm. She stayed focused. She kept trying to steer the conversation back to her agenda without being rude. She was there to determine whether or not the senator would support the resolution for an Article V Convention.

Despite admitting having to bite her tongue a little, she still felt a sense of accomplishment afterwards.

“I still felt good,” she says. “The one thing that I took away was that he [the aide] stated unequivocally that the senator takes amendments to the Constitution seriously. In my mind, I said, ‘You don’t think I do?’ I kind of knew that I couldn’t push it, but in the follow-up I would offer him sources and more information about an Article V Convention.”

The more I listened to Kathleen, the more convinced I became that she behaved like a model constituent. She prepared, she stayed focused, and she remained respectful in both offices knowing that was how she would be taken seriously. She could have allowed herself to be distracted by the things the senator’s aide wanted to talk about but with which she disagrees. Instead, she picked out the things they do agree on, and she made sure to even express her gratitude for the senator’s service as she left the meeting.

In addition to meeting with their representatives, Kathleen and other Wolf PAC citizens all over the country make calls every week to their legislators asking them to support resolutions in their states for an Article V Convention. She also supports the American Anti-Corruption Act, a proposal for reforming campaign finance laws that does not require an amendment to the Constitution. “Essentially, whatever fixes the mess we’re in,” she says, “and gets us to the goal of a true democratic government; restoring the power to where it belongs, with the people! Whatever the solution, we cannot rely on Congress. Congress will not self-reform the system.”

Kathleen then quotes what she considers to be one of John McCain’s best comments about money in politics. He said, “Corruption is the impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle…Unlimited amounts of money given to political campaigns have impaired our integrity…Who is corrupted by this system?  All of us are corrupted by it because money buys access and access is influence. I am attacking a system that has to be fixed. This system makes good people do bad things.”

Kathleen agrees, and there are two words of advice that she wants to share with all of us. “Get engaged!”

She explains it this way. “Do something instead of complaining and do something tangible! I read a quote somewhere that, in effect, said…Since political speech equals speech, it follows naturally that more money equals more political speech and less money equals less political speech. Well, we are sending a message that we will make sure politicians hear loud and clear.  We’re drawing a line in the sand and intend on taking our government back and changing the way it functions.”

These are the words of a courageous and committed citizen. It comes as no surprise that the words of other courageous people such as our Founders also resonate with her. “It’s a Government for the People, by the People,” she says as our conversation begins to draw to a close.

There’s a pause before she makes the point all of us really need to understand and remember.

“It’s our government,” she states emphatically. “We’re their bosses. We hired them to do a job, and if they’re not doing their job it’s up to we the people to tell them, ‘Listen. You’re not doing what we hired you to do.’”

Kathleen wants us all to pay attention and do something. To help us, she pointed out another absolutely salient truth that ought to be another rallying cry for citizens everywhere.

“Proposed legislation that comes with a majority of support throughout the country and it doesn’t get enacted? How’s that possible? That’s a clear indication that they are being bought and paid for by special interests. Unless people step up and do something, the status quo will continue and continue and continue.”

“There’s power in numbers,” she reminds us, and then adds, “The Supreme Court declared that money is free speech. Well, I have a voice and that’s free speech. I’m going to use it. If enough people do the same, do we have a chance to drown out the money? I believe we do!”

When asked about her transition from frustrated citizen to more activist citizen, Kathleen offered this simple two-step advice. “First, I found I have power. Second is how easy it is.”

“I was blown away!” she exclaimed.

“I was pleasantly surprised and happy that my state government was responsive. That thrilled me! It gives me hope that maybe things will be ok. This is the first step in fixing what’s broken, and getting our government to respond to the will of the people. This is where we have to start, and I hope it will have a ripple effect. I think we all share similar concerns about what’s happening in the country, but I don’t think anything’s going to happen until we end the influence that the wealthy and corporations have over our democracy.”

Kathleen assures us that it’s not as hard as we all might think. She will tell you that she’s “…not an expert. I’m just a layperson and am just going with my conscience. There are a lot of people like us.”

And, that should be encouraging to us all.

Kathleen doesn’t really consider herself to be an activist. What she says is this. “I’m an American. I’m a proud American, and I don’t want to leave this mess for the next generation. In all good conscience, I can’t. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try.”

The Civil Rights Movement also gives Kathleen inspiration. The question she asks herself is, “Why wouldn’t I do this? It’s not going to require the level of bravery those people showed. It’s like donating blood. I’m capable of it, so why wouldn’t I do it?”

These are questions we should all be asking ourselves.