Friday, March 5, 2010

#205 Bad Boys in Congress?--Cut Off Their Allowance

As you might a naughty child. After all, they just haven't been keeping up with their chores. Look at the sad state of the Capitol--front steps haven't been shoveled. GARBAGE needs to be taken out. Been collecting for months. And for all the money we pay 'em every week. Tsk.

Sen. Chris Dodd is on the tube lately suggesting a semi-solution: a Constitutional amendment that would effectively overturn the surreal Supreme Court ruling recently which overturned laws against Corporate whore-mongering in state and federal elections. It's more than okay now. Corporations is People, just like you and me, and it/him/her/they have as much right to buy advertising--money = speech--for a high-priced Congressional prostitute as anyperson else, on top of stuffing money directly into the candidate's G-string. All this thanks to another sacrilege committed by those same five altar-boys on the Court--appointments by Reagan/Bush/Bush/Cheney which will demon-haunt the American people for generations to come, alas.

Many years ago, and for two or three, we were charter members (for a small donation) of John W. Gardner's Common Cause, which the liberal Republican (an extinct breed) started up in 1970. The estimable Mr. Gardner was even for a while a working member (Secretary-HEW) of the socially-activist LBJ administration, and was popularly known for his influential and oft-quoted book (a good short read then and now) on improving leadership in American society called Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too (1961), still in wide circulation. The sacred purpose of his populist organization?--to throw the money-changers out of the temple of American Republican Democracy. Mission statement:
Common Cause is a non-partisan, grass-roots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, re-inventing an open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest [shades of George Washington's SOTU], and empowering people to make their voices heard in the political process.
And to make the word flesh: pass laws that keep private money out of public politics, put simply. In effect, let the democratic, progressive income-tax do the speaking for the American people.

Common Cause was surprisingly successful early on, but primarily on the Presidential level. The new "people's lobby" in Congress was instrumental in passing FECA, the Federal Election Campaign Reform Act of 1974, which still obtains today, most recently in McCain v. Obama, each dealing with public-funding protocols in their separate ways. CC also helped bring down a President. It sued Nixon in 1972 over secret, and thus illegal, donations to his campaign organization, the infamous CREEP ... won ... and Tricky Dick was gone two years later. Ironically, Common Cause is one legacy Nixon could have been proud of.

Now, the Roberts-Court ruling goes against just about everything the late (2002) John Gardner's organization stands for. I can already hear the wheels grinding here in North Carolina, which has fairly enlightened laws on the books about corporate campaigning. Basically: noway, nohow. But now at my back I'll hear hurrying near the campaign chariots of Big-Med and Big-MIC (Military-Industrial-Complex)--corporate entities so top-heavy in our state, and, well, the country too. All too obvious as represented in the ice-bound photo above.

But maybe Common Cause to the rescue. I hadn't noticed it in the news for years till up popped Bob Phillips, Director of the North Carolina chapter, on the local news channels. He brought it home. Every single NC law against corporate interference in the public election process is now invalidated by the Supreme Court opinion. Unlimited funds from corporation treasuries can go to pliable candidates from city council to senatorial race. Anonymously. Of course they'll need to identify themselves with something like "Paid for by Americans in Favor of Apple Pie"--but really, will the average voter discern the "sham-corp," as Phillips calls them? There's little hope for transparency here, considering the source, but he's going to his best in the state legislature.

There's little hope in reversing the Court anytime soon, either, short of imprecatory prayer. Or the Dodd amendment. But the latter has it's own built-in liability. A Constitutional Convention. Where all bets are off, and anything goes. Every wing-nutty idea from anywhere over the political spectrum (fill in the blanks) would be in play. Everybody in the know knows that even the THREAT of amending the U.S. Constitution is a dire and dangerous one. And exactly why it might just thaw the freeze-dried hearts and minds under the Capitol dome.

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