Monday, March 1, 2010

The Pair on These Two!

Ok, so I'm scanning through my reader today and come upon this about the recent Congressional ethics investigations and exonerations over at DiA:
"Simply because a member sponsors an earmark for an entity that also happens to be a campaign contributor does not, on these two facts alone, support a claim that a member's actions are being influenced by campaign contributions," the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct said in a unanimous statement.
In 2008, the seven lawmakers the committee cleared of any wrongdoing had steered $112m in earmarks to clients of the PMA Group, a lobbying organisation. In that same year, they accepted a total of $350,000 in campaign contributions from those clients. The contributions, they maintained, had nothing to do with the earmarks. And a committee of their peers backed them up. To paraphrase Jon Stewart in another context: I don't think they're stupid. I think they think we're stupid.
By the tone of the people harping on the Citizens United decision which freed domestic corporations and groups from onerous and arbitrary limits in independent expenditures (read: their own political ads without direction from, permission of, and wholly separate from political candidates), you'd think the floodgates guarding our fragile democracy had finally been opened to corporate America. It turns out, however, corporate America just needed to go to the right Congressional offices:
The representatives in question are Democrats Norm Dicks, Marcy Kaptur, James Moran, and the late John Murtha, and Republicans Todd Tiahrt, Peter Visclosky, and Bill Young.
Not surprisingly, and as far as I can tell, the Republicans were all silent on Citizens United. (Indeed, my superficial search shows that two of them may have taken from the case's namesake organization.) And, to their credit, neither the late Jack "Corrupt for his Constituency" Murtha nor Norm Dicks had the cojones to openly criticize the Citizens United ruling. (And yes, Murtha was still alive when the decision came down.) The same restraint could not be shown by Reps. Marcy Kaptur and James Moran.

From Moran's Citizens United press release:
Today’s Supreme Court decision represents a monumental step backwards for American democracy and will allow corporations to drown out the voices of average Americans. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn precedent and allow corporations to spend unrestricted resources on political activities will undermine the public’s confidence that the government is acting in their best interest on issues such as the economy, health care and energy policy.
Not to be outdone in testicular grandiosity, the gentlewoman from Ohio's Ninth district introduced legislation to curb express displeasure with independent expenditures (Official Summary):
1/8/2009--Introduced.Expresses the sense of Congress that the Supreme Court misinterpreted the First Amendment to the Constitution in the case of Buckley v. Valeo because the decision failed to recognize:
(1) that the unlimited spending of large amounts of money on elections has a corrosive effect on the electoral process not simply because of direct transactions between those who give large amounts of money and candidates and elected officials but because the presence of unlimited amounts of money corrupts the process on a more fundamental level; and
(2) other legitimate state interests which justify limiting money in campaigns, including the need to preserve the integrity of our republican form of government, restore public confidence in government, and ensure all citizens a more equal opportunity to participate in the political process.
We need more outrageous hypocrites like Jim Moran and Marcy Kaptur as the standard bearers for restoring "public confidence in government" because we should have exactly much confidence in our government as we have in them. Clearly, direct quid pro quo bribery is much better for democracy than the warping influence and appearance of independent spending.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Just a programming note:

I was flipping through the channels late Saturday night/early Sunday morning and saw that C-SPAN was re-airing the oral argument in the free speech case in the 3rd Circuit case CBS v. FCC. If you want to hear how an otherwise intelligent government lawyer attempt to justify government sanction against the display of part of a human body--and the common sense argument against such absurdity--you can listen to the argument here.

CBS is represented by Robert Corn-Revere, whom I've had the pleasure to meet and work with in the past. He most recently wrote an excellent article for the Cato Supreme Court Review on FOX's battle with the FCC that you can read here.