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POLL: Will The Next Government Break The Stranglehold of Money on Politics?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

In this week's JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with Public Citizen president Joan Claybrook and Common Cause president Bob Edgar about the pervasive influence of money on our elected officials.

Edgar said:

"The defense industry, the auto industry, the banking industry, the health care industry -- they're in both parties. They're funding the elections on both sides. And it just points out that lobbyists aren't bad in and of themselves, but it's the amount of money that they put into the system that corrupts the system."

After taking our poll, please discuss in the space below.


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Comments

@Griffin Jones,

LOL. Thanks Griffin for your very succinct and entertaining description of our situation. Ralph Nader says that we must "subordinate the corporate entity to the will of the people": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ChNYDs-OkE .

Yes it does look as though money will soon break the stranglehold of political regulation. I am considering selling fresh air in a jug for enough income to maintain my supply of the dwindling fresh water and 8 daily ounces of soylent green (with Chinese melamine nutrient).

At least the collusion of great wealth holders is now exposed for all to see as billionaires are bailed out using wages we have not yet earned. There is wine and honey at the top but only pee trickles down. "Thank you Great Overlords for you generous rainfall."

Why is anyone listening to a man convicted in France and showing absolute disrespect to the French Government even after his conviction was upheld by the French Supreme Court? Soros Conviction

Consider also his involvment in the Bank of England, regarding the Thai Bhat and Rosia Montana in Romania.

Thank you Mr. Moyers for featuring your OSI employer who doesn't care to "spread the wealth around" when it comes to paying his 2.2 million dollar fine to the French government, and has done all he can to protect his precious metals investments in Romania by keeping Rosia Montana's gold mine from getting developed - after 10 years of development and 300 million dollars was invested.

The village would own 20% of the mine, be able to live off of more than berries and mushrooms they can pick, but you Mr. Moyers are more interested in your former employers ideas and the elevation of elitist liberalism which is what he represents.

You and those like you are why America is down, failing to recognize that free loans that no one has to pay back, with no money down, have little securitization value because there is no deposit to prime the federal reserve system to provide for these funds no longer being a "chose in action."

Simple solutions but liberalism says "regulate and do not trust the people, because George Soros is dishonorable all will be." Brilliant!

You are oblivious to George Soros "financial engineering" which historiclaly has caused these types of financial collapes.

Mumia writes, "Corporations are basically running the government, and citizen groups have almost no effect on policy" - that's why I recommend the PROFIT Act solution. It gives citizens the power to create responsible behavior in corporations. Email me at christopherdunn7@hotmail.com, of lend your support to send the idea to Obama, by googling: change.org "the PROFIT Act"

Joan Claybrook and Bob Edgar, I was intrigued by your appearance on Moyers' Journal. Indeed, I was most intrigued to see how fast Ralph Nader's name would come up. The only presidential candidate who is confronting the stranglehold of money on politics is Ralph Nader, and Nader desperately needed media exposure since he has no corporate money (unsurprisingly).

Oh, and Joan Claybrook, I'm sure you'll find this interesting: Ralph Nader created your organization--Public Citizen. You probably remember that, because he handed control of the organization to you in 1972. So naturally we Nader supporters might expect you to mention his name at least once during your interview with Bill Moyers.

I strained my hearing to detect Nader's name, but instead, the closest I got to that was to hear Bob Edgar refer to the "founder of Ms. Claybrook's organization." I had to laugh. So the deal is that every liberal bends over backward to avoid mentioning Ralph Nader--a media blackout of Nader's campaign.

Oh and the irony gets sweeter: Ralph Nader has explained, often and in detail, why he repeatedly runs for president. Ms. Claybrook, you, your organization and similar organizations are, with each passing day, becoming more and more effete. Corporations are basically running the government, and citizen groups have almost no effect on policy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORkQxgXBI40 .

Suing companies doesn't work anymore; laws are basically written by companies in the industries being regulated; and government agencies can scarcely be embarrassed into regulating sanely. The NRDC must repeatedly sue to force the EPA to regulate pollutants, and the EPA has been so favorable to industry as to repudiate the EPA's ability to regulate CO2 emissions. And when you win in court and force regulators to stop an unethical corporate practice, the regulators change their regulations to nullify the victory.

The public citizen groups have been defeated by corporate power, and now the only hope of getting this country moving away from complete destruction is to get directly into the political process and affect legislation that subordinates corporate power to the sovereignty of the citizens.

There is no time for Nader to run for the House, spend 16 years there, then move to the Senate for six years, then run for president. Corporations are running the government now. We are potentially looking at the end of the republic next year. It's not a time for playing games, and it's not a time for a media blackout of the only candidate who has a concept of what we're facing and how to control it. You are aware I hope, that Bush has voided your right of Habeus Corpus by signing the "Military Commissions act of 2006": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibpdwFjPMWE&feature=related

Ms. Claybrook, if I go to GTMO, I want you to say hello to me. Of course, I'll ask you "Why didn't you do anything to stop this?" You have an organization and access to television programs; we are in the twilight of the republic; your participation in the media blackout of Ralph Nader's campaign was not only an astounding betrayal, but it was also dangerous.

There was a revelation today that the Treasury department changed a regulation behind the scenes and banks were able to cash in to the tune of $140 billion. AIG got their $85 billion FED loan restructured so that they can receive $150 billion as a part of the $700 billion bail out. President-Elect Obama wants to bail out the auto industry to the tune of $25 billion but President Bush is opposed. It looks as though the banks and Wall St., where the most money is located, have the upper hand - except for maybe Lehman Bros. There are many articles published by watchdog groups about corruption in government and the billions that it costs taxpayers. When the little people demand universal healthcare, education and good jobs that enable us to provide food, shelter and clothing for our families we are demonized as socialists and lazy good for nothings who want something for nothing. Clearly the power lies on the side of the financial elite with the money. Not even big automobile manufacturers can compete with them. I am left with the hope that enough people will get enough information from the internet and other media outlets that we will finally cry out with one voice for reform.

The public will have to demand a change.
Massive boycotts and Congressional calls may be needed to break the strangle hold of Corporate money in government. The last 8 years has been the largest power & profit grab by corporations in history and that tells you a lot.

For the public to think their vote was all that is required to change government I say WAKE UP!
And stay awake; turn off corp broadcasts; find alternate, independent sources of news, entertainment, products and services then call/email congress routinely.
YES, we can;
but it depends on "We the people"

If the money spent by the candidates during this poll is anything to go by, Obama has to collect5,00,000 dollars perday during his next 4 years.Lobbyists are only legalising this collection.Americans must understand how this caused the current meltdown.

have crafted a solution to transform capitalism, called the PROFIT Act. That stands for the Productivity, Responsibility, Opportunity FIT Act. The legislative act would create a matching of incentive and penalty to create responsible profits. The fund, a small percentage of an organization's profits, would accrue for all employees, to be drawn upon for retirement benefits. It would be an augmenting fund, in addition to Social Security and other retirement funds.

The catch, and how it transforms capitalism, is that the fund would be reduced to the extent that the company settles or has a judgment against it for a tort. Currently, if a company commits a tort, only the corporate coffers or the corporate officers can be held liable. The PROFIT Act fund would be accessible to augment the traditional funds.

Consider an example of how the PROFIT Act can transform capitalism. A janitor sweeps mercury off a table into a shop-floor drain, which flows into a lake. He does this daily, week after week, year after year. Twenty years down the road, neighbors living by the lake begin to die from the poisoning. Currently, the questions get asked, whether you can hold the corporate officer liable if he walked by the shop floor around that time each day. Currently, capitalism overlooks the value of all the other employees who also may see this janitor's actions. Whistleblowing laws aim to protect individuals, but provide inadequate incentive and protection.

The PROFIT Act aligns people with responsible profits, and is beneficial for corporations. Currently, the rising insurance and litigation costs are hurting the bottom line. The PROFIT Act reflects a shift in cost, from those associated with harmful behavior, to an employee benefit, the long-term retirement benefit.

This idea has been shared with people in all walks of life, and they all find that it makes sense. It couples a benefit with a responsibility in a way that allows the free market to act more responsibly.

A solution like the PROFIT Act is only one of many that can be crafted based on a new insight I have had into former dean of Yale Law School, and now federal judge, Guido Calabresi's famous framework. I have written a book to explain how the greater significance of his framework has been missed. Moreover, I go beyond a description of a tool that I term the Calabresi theorem, which shows how to craft balanced legislation, to show how the tools of law and economics fit into a broader understanding of social institutions in which capitalism plays a valuable role in altruism.

I encourage people to consider the PROFIT Act, the new Calabresi theorem and the discovery I have made about altruism as necessary to transforming capitalism, and to achieve the ideals, of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and equality: slightly, rearranged, those spell, acronymistically, HOPE FOR ALL (Happiness Of Pursuit, Equality FOR A Liberated Life).


Christopher Dunn


Madison, CT

P.S. It will take a program such as Bill Moyers' to bring this idea and others I have written about to the attention of people. One person, myself, trying to promote this message needs the power of a show like The Journal to air an interview on the effort I am making to champion this balanced solution.


I decided not to include my JOE-THE-PLUMBER HYPOCRISY DEPT. article in the post below, to later discover there it was. Here’s my answer to Bill’s question.
Only two days before voting day, it dawned on me how very inappropriate and how very hypocritical were the Republican charges, catalyzed by Joe the Plumber, that Obama was a “socialist” who wanted to “re-distribute other people’s money.”
I wrote my friends a letter pulling together an amazing number of SPECIFIC ways, in many different areas, that corporate/rich money influenced legislation and leadership to “redistribute the wealth of America” UPward,” for 7 ½ years, to the great detriment of democracy, the middle class and the poor, and ultimately of the economy itself! That letter was also a sort of summary of so many ways that money has a “stranglehold on politics.”
The Economic meltdown that that “stranglehold” led to was followed by $ 850+ Billion Dollar Bail-outs/Gift$ from the Public Treasury, with very few strings attached. So, it looks like “they did it to us” again, and either (1) we didn’t learn very much, even though the Average American saved nothing, but went into debt these last two years—for the first time since the Depression, or (2) big money influenced the writers of the Bail Out Legislation to NOT stand up for the public’s interest, in spite of all the reassuring rhetoric. So maybe we ought to start getting clear about WHO it is that “sells us out,” and, as Harry Truman would say, “Give ‘em hell!” And also getting clearer about all the many ways money strangles politics and a healthy body politic.
I think we will need to “self-create” many concerned citizens’ “Watch Dog Groups” all across the land, who will meet and strategize, speak out to the public and up to the sell-outs, showing some passion, commitment, courage, attention, focus, and assertiveness--that we haven’t evidenced heretofore. And more of us need to write more letters to the editors, online, etc. . A Pledge statement for candidates to sign and commit themselves to before being elected, supported by a million-citizens group that holds them to it, might help.
It will help greatly if Obama really wants to “clean up” government. And I agree with Max K. that IF real change happens, it can only happen if millions of us keep the PRESSURE, the spotlight, and the accountability assertiveness and questioning focused upon our legislative processes, our legislators and other leaders.
I believe Thomas Jefferson said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Not many of us can stay eternally vigilant, much less “bird dog” 635 Congresspersons and over 4, 000 lobbyists, and the many and various corporate means of influencing our (supposed) representatives and leaders. The more one learns, the deeper and worse things seem. So, the prognosis doesn’t look great. AND America overcame its racism and elected Obama! So all concerned citizens could do worse than to act on THE AUDACITY OF HOPE and dare to seriously work to restore Constitutional government and the American Dream!

Only a couple of days before voting day did I realize what was so very inappropriate and so very hypocritical, with Republican charges that Obama was a "socialist" set upon "redistribution of other people's money." a la Joe the Plumber's remarks.

I pulled together an amazing number of specifics, in widely diverse areas, showing how Big Money has paid for govt. to allow and force a radical "redistribution of wealth" in America UPward to the already rich/corporations while taking increasing bigger chunks of money from the pocketbooks of the Middle Class and the poor.

The pervasiveness and entrenchment and variety of ways wealth undercuts democracy and the well-being of Average Americans points at the difficulty of real change.

I AGREE WITH Max K.: IF change will happen, it can only take place if millions of us learn how to keep the PRESSURE, the spotlight, and accountability-pursuits directed at those who legislate and/or lead us!

[IF THERE IS ROOM FOR A CITIZEN LETTER PULLING TOGETHER MANY AND VARIOUS WAYS OUR ECONOMY AND INDIVIDUAL AMERICANS HAVE BEEN CHEATED/ROBBED/DEFRAUDED BY THE BIG RICH THESE LAST 7 1/2 YEARS, HERE IT IS:]

JOE-THE-PLUMBER HYPOCRISY DEPT.
Obama is called a “socialist” because he dares to admit he wants to “share the wealth” a bit (i.e., give middle class people some long (nearly eight—8—years) overdue relief and tax at previous tax rates the top 5 % of the people/people making above $ 250, 000.00.

The latter are people who have already enjoyed, for 7 ½ years!, unusual to incredible prosperity, in contrast to the middle class and the poor. They’ve done so because of a number of intentional factors, including tax breaks and radically lowered tax rates and never before tax opportunities (such as small businesses being able to take all their depreciation tax benefits for trucks and equipment purchases in one year, thus saving a bundle of money).

McCain and Republican “spinners” have charged Obama with the almost-crime of “redistributing” “other people’s money.! ”) This is so disingenuous and hypocritical! Six (6) years of Republican control of the White House and Congress, with virtually all legislation milking the middle class and poor to advantage big corporations/the rich, led to a great and absolutely radical shift of wealth away from the middle class and upward to the already wealthy! And they talk of Democrats initiating “class warfare” and Obama being a “socialist.” Talk about “The Big Pot calling the Little Pot ‘black!’” Talk about “straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel!” Talk about lying hypocrites.

McCain’s saying he was against the inappropriate Bush tax cuts before he embraced them (to win the Republican base, one hopes) is one of several flip-flops perpetrated seemingly for Presidential campaign purposes. But if one takes seriously McCain’s positions, then one should love his Bush policies, for that’s what they are. Under Bush, we have literally had constant 10 % tax cuts for the rich for 7 ½ years, along with radical “de-regulation” or “unregulation” of most financial and corporate behavior!...No regulation or supervision is like opening the barn door and letting anything go out or in! It opens the door to greed, cutting corners, then ignoring responsible standards protecting shareholders and citizens alike, then committing wholesale fraud, lying about known no-good investments while raking in commi$$ions, fee$, etc. AND PAYING CEO’$ multiple hundred$ of thou$and$ to million$ of dollar$, $tock option$, golden parachute$, etc., regardless of their poor leadership and the corporation’s down-spiraling performance, even with the greatest breaks ever... Since McCain has publicly boasted of being “the greatest De-regulator” (until recently) that makes him doubly guilty of choosing to wear the Bush economic mantle.

Left out is another massive reason for the radical “re-distribution of wealth” under the Republicans: the “legislated redistribution of wealth.”

This has several facets. The first is Bush’s loyalty to the corporate rich. They gave him more monies in his campaign chest the first day he announced he was running for the Presidency than the previous Republican candidate (Dole) raised during his entire campaign! The 4, 000 plus (more than doubling) of corporate lobbyists under Bush II, in addition, more than doubled corporate access and influence upon Congressmen, in addition to the PR spearheading/cheerleading/legislation-proposing by the U. S.’ Chief Executive, i.e., Big Corporations’ Chief Lobbyist.

Thus, Bush quickly invited the CEO’s of Big Energy to the White house, for example, and let them dictate our nations energy practices in lieu of a policy, virtually discounting and ignoring important Research & Development and Investments Funds exploring various types of “alternative energy” and “clean energy.”

Thereby, the Bush Administration insured:

(1) the happiness of American oil and coal companies,
(2) the U. S.’s 70% dependence upon foreign oil,
(3) excess billions of profits for energy companies for years
($ 40 billions of profits for Exxon in one year, for example),
(4) the transference of billions of American petro-dollars to terrorist or
terrorist-promoting states, and
(5) the U. S. being caught flat-footed without any significant means of
(a) “clean energy” (to stop global warming) or
(b) alternative energies (to undercut the surge
in gasoline prices.)

This avoidable but radical increase in energy costs was economically devastating for tens or hundreds of millions of American Middle Class/poor and their families and many businesses also, both directly (triple prices per gallon of gasoline) and indirectly in terms of radically higher food prices and increased materials prices. Talk about an intentional radical redistribution of wealth!

Under Bush, the number of (well) paid lobbyists more than doubled (to more than 4, 000); they seem to have been quite successful buying and selling Democratic and Republican congressmen, buying and often writing legislation, buying earmarks, loopholes, etc. for their client corporations (4,000 to influence 530 House members and 100 Senators = 4., 000 lobbyists per 630 = 6.3 lobbyists per congressman or woman, both sides often mutually “doing well by doing good,” at least for each other. Campaign costs are so high that the corporations became welcome sources of contributions, and lobbyists often put on campaign dinners for their favorite legislators, etc. Randy Cunningham (air ace), Dick Abramoff (the President’s friend), and Ralph Reid (who delivered the Evangelical Christian vote to Rove and Bush) are examples of those who later received millions for influence peddling, sometimes resulting in fraudulent claims and even representing opposing parties simultaneously, such as Indian tribes and casinos, bilking millions from each, etc. These factors, too, worked to “take other people’s wealth” and “re-distribute it” to the richest people in America .

I don’t have time to write up the story of how a Republican White House and a Republican controlled Congress basically together gave Big Energy, Big Pharma, Big Banking and Financing, Big Food and Agribusiness, and Big Business the legislation they wanted that worked to the detriment of the Middle Class and the poor. Credit card companies won the right to commit “legal usury,” and rather quickly raised their fees for one (1) day late, $ 1.00 over credit limit, partial payments, etc. from $ 5.00 to $40.00 and $ 50.00, along with an increase in APR’s by about 10 points per offense. (Figure that and misleading minimum payment requirements-- the average person will take 42-45 years to pay off many times their original loan and debt. The wealth moved upward, the average American went more in debt, and many of the Middle Class, with no increase in real salaries for 10 years and with increasingly high prices, many losing jobs to overseas job transfers, mergers, and “downsizings,” dropped below the poverty line. Republicans blocked minimum salaries for service and entry workers, etc. for ten (10) years, while Congress increased their own salaries three (3) times. The Average American not only didn’t save money the last two years, but actually had to go “in the hole” (“in the red” for the first time in the 70 years since the Great Depression!). That’s called “redistribution of the wealth” on a scale much larger than the modest proposal of Obama.

In the last two months, the lie has finally been given to the dominant myth pushed by Republicans since Ronald Reagan, namely, that unregulated, unsupervised Free Trade will naturally correct itself and work like the “Invisible Hand” of Adam Smith to naturally regulate itself to the benefit of everyone. I taught Utilitarian philosophy and ethics of which laissez-faire capitalism was a part. “Laissez faire” basically means “Hands off!” no governmental interference! But it was shown to be inadequate and even unethical by the time Jeremy Bentham, one of the founders, died. His son, John Stuart Mill, a philosopher, made it very clear that some governmental regulation of the economy was needed and necessary both for reasons of health and safety, for the protection of society and for the welfare of workers.

It is the failure of that fairy tale, manifested by the economic meltdown and credit flow freeze among the world’s/U.S.’s biggest banks/insurance mega-monsters (including the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers), that led President Bush to advocate “Socialism” as usually defined by Conservatives. He asked Congress for a $ 700 Billion dollar Government Bail-Out of U.S. Financial structures—and that’s just the beginning!

In other words, Bush-McCain policies = privatization of Free Trade profits until the meltdown/crash/crisis of trust comes. But they are “socialists”/believe in socialism of Free Trade problems (especially those caused by greed, fraud, and lack of proper and responsible regulation and supervision!) by Government-provided loans, investments, buying of assets or shares, and giveaways (buying up of relatively worthless mortgages and loans) when the economy is tanking or freezing up.

The Republicans under another President Bush got away with doing the same thing after the Savings and Loan debacle in the ‘70’s or 80’s! They reverted to “socialism” and “redistribution of other people’s wealth” then, too.

We do so, it seems, when “capitalism” goes belly-up after the rich have gotten to enjoy another round and long period of unsupervised, unregulated (laissez-faire) crime, corruption, big give-aways to the wealthy and their friends, and just bad loans and poor business sense.

That nation-wide Saving & Loan episode of “socialism” cost the government/us taxpayers(that’s you and me) only $ 85, 000, 000, 000.00 direct cash plus associated administration costs. (McCain benefited from that boondoggle and was one of five Senators to appear in a room all at once to apply pressure to a lowly regulator in behalf of his true pal, social friend, and head of an Arizona S & L, Keating. The “Keating Five” were reprimanded by their own Senate Ethics Committee).

McCain-Palin scream “socialism” when Obama advocates a more `equitable tax arrangement, somewhat like the one in place when the U. S. under Bill Clinton had a great and growing economy where everybody saved money, got richer, and lived better and with less anxiety, and the government paid off much of the national debt and had a significant surplus waiting for President Bush II. Bush, however, has waged two wars incompetently on humongus “credit card” loans from China, Japan, etc with costly APR’s. (for our children and grandchildren to pay off--that’s instead of us being honest about money and costs and us paying for our wars through a little sacrifice, as we Americans have always done!), radically increased the national debt and the deficit, and now says socialist salvation by Government is the only way to save capitalism/the U. S. economy. etc. We need less, not more, of those Republican economic policies/practice that led to both of those economic meltdowns/crashes/freezes.

In East Texas, when an 800 pound Gorilla calls a little monkey names for doing what the Gorilla did 20 to a 1, 000 times to a 1, 000, 000 times as much, or more, we call that “The Big Pot calling the Little Pot ‘black’.”

Obama isn't the first to use the internet as a tool to raise funds, but his campaign certainly perfected it. As one who was signed on to his website, I received messages every day and each finished with the big red "DONATE" button--$5 or more. Knowing that my small contribution was part of a huge groundswell of other small contributions gave me hope. I knew full well that there were large contributions too, but I was ok with that.

I was not ok with the McCain campaign's lies and vicious personal attacks against Obama and Biden.

Here's a suggestion. Allow campaign ads, but not lies. Require each ad to pass a Factcheck review and to include a seal of approval at the bottom, much like the warning on a cigarette pack.

Break the stranglehold of money on politics? Only in your dreams. It can't happen and it never will happen because the world as human beings know it will end before minds can reach that level of enlightenment. We are very far, far away from evolving to that point and overpopulation will inundate the planet before we do.

As long as there are lobbyists in Washington; there will be government corruption. Corruption is built into the system. It is also necessary to limit election spending and prevent dirty politics. There should be a non-partisan appraisal of candidates with factual documentations of their qualifications. We need trained statesmen not popular dictators in public offices. They should serve the people; not vested interests of the rich and powerful.
There should be an all out effort to assure that citizens vote, every vote is counted and that candidates are voted into office in accordance with having more votes than any other candidate no matter where they live.
Right now, we need the Democrats in office to get us back to a Democratic form of government.

Except for a few from other planets, most of the blogs have some good points.
I submit that Obama first needs to decide on Job#1 and then 'git'er done'. The
World watches us. We share
the most concern with them
about our financial world.
Unified, roll-up-sleeves ap-
proach has a good chance of
success. Once again, a demo-
crat could save us from our own greed.

No. The biggest problem facing our political process is campaign financing. We need major campaign finance reform (and while we are at it...we should toss the Electoral College, too). As is stands, candidates believe they need to raise virtually limitless amounts of cash in order to run a winning campaign (and based on today's electoral climate, they are correct). So, both major candidates are raising massive sums to use as leverage to influence the voters. The candidates are taking advantage of the broken campaign finance laws, and are beholden to their big money investors. Can a politician get elected and turn their back on the big money that helped get them elected so that they can try to push for major campaign finance overhaul? Not likely. Those big contributors like pulling the strings, and will probably fight tooth and nail to keep things as they are. I think the only way a politician could do this would be to run a small budget campaign (heavily reliant on the internet and other low cost advertising methods). This candidate would not enter office with the massive debt to his or her investors. This could never happen...right? I think anything is possible.

Will the next government break the stranglehold of money on politics? No.

"The defense industry, the auto industry, the banking industry, the health care
industry -- they're in both parties. They're funding the elections on both sides”!
It is a camouflage to evade the real issues – a term known as “turning the blind eye”!
In an over night decision of “$850 billion dollars” the major flow of funds was only to one side “money party” – up direction! They did not even consider distributing to any other party.
I am not naive to believe that such corrupt funding is justified. It will not “break
the stranglehold of money on politics” and is not a solution to the fear, crises,
depression etc. people have been expose and forced to deal with it.
“Subject to distortion and manipulation - elections offer an alternative to violence” but no solution to the problems! Sooner or later people will have to face the reality that no person in government cares more about you than yourself!
“To break the stranglehold of money on politics” is to EMPOWER the PEOPLE to participate in power “TO EXPRESS THEIR WILL ON AL ISSUES! In a dictator ship such a wish is unthinkable, for an article in a paper of 2008 10 21 states, “Forget about a constitutional convention - the House rejected even studying the idea”! Should the people be denied to participate in power?

It would take an intentional breaking away from the money and influence system and Obama, far from signaling that he is interested in making that break, embraced it with both arms. Likewise, there is no strength in the Congress to change.

Molly Ivins always identified this as the number one issue and she was right. My God, a two year run for the presidency! This kind of excess will prove time and time again that moneyed elections don't get you the best candidate, they get you the best candidate money can buy.

Until you have campaign reform across the board, nothing will change.

Americans need changes such as TERM LIMITS, CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, and the COMPLETE REMOVAL OF LOBBYISTS from all political offices across the land.

The President and the members of Congress are all candidates at one time or another and depend on the money to spread the misinformation they use in their campaigns to keep voters from banding together behind the real issues that are critical to voters. The issues critical to voters may threaten the flow of special interest money flowing into a campaign and cause the candidate to lose. The candidates then become the captives of the special interests and represent them. Someone like Barack Obama may be the kind of person who will have the courage and intelligence to bring up the issue and begin to make real headway toward a solution, but it would be difficult.

Between corporate money, lobbyists and fundamentalist religion things in "gods country" will stay the same until hell freezes over. But for all of you who complain, move to another country. You'll discover there is more than one "gods country".

beecham writes:"we will likely continue to put our heads in the sand, .."

Frankly, imv, it is our media which continues to put our heads in the sand. Really, it is true that the media will not report what is too controversial to report. There seems to be a sort of agreement that a certain level of murder and mayhem is ok to report "in the public interest". But there is, beyond that, no media interest in reporting ideas and events which could break the stranglehold of market forces on we the people. The joy of the Internet is that slowly those media giants are losing hold of people's minds and hearts. There are still a few outlets, like this one, which allow true freedom of speech.

The future belongs to those who can cooperate, share resources, and contribute to the diverse tapestry which is the future of mankind. Everyone is needed to save the planet, to end terrorism, to create beauty which nourishes the human soul and to build a wholesome culture in which the children may develop themselves and express who they really are. Competition should be relegated to games.

Of course not. Is that a serious question? Do you actually believe Obama isn't yet another corporate lap dog?

The stranglehold of money (corporations) on politics has never been stronger. And until we recognize our true situation, we will never break that stranglehold. No, we will likely continue to put our heads in the sand, hold our noses and vote democrats, because they are supposedly better than the republicans.

Governments worldwide have been rendered impotent due to this ongoing bribery of elected officials, thinly disguised as lobbyists. It is up to the citizen to ASK the tough questions of their representatives and get away from this 'my country right or wrong' or 'my leader right or wrong'. We have become complacent and apathetic in our tired old way of politics,and start to get away from our own little special interests and look to the whole picture.When we see the whole picture perhaps Democracy can be won back from those who wish corporate anarchy to continue.

Bill,
You have bought into the "Obama broke his promise" McCain campaign line.
He was one of two presidential candidates who even returned the form sent by Midwest Democracy Network and checked the box Yes, with the addendum that he would agree to DISCUSS public financing with his opponent if he was the candidate.
McCain did not even bother to return the form. That is so far from a promise I can't believe you and your guests bought into the nonsense.
Thanks for the good discussions.
Sue Thompson

The current Presidential campaigns demonstrate that the trend towards spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the media will continue to climb with every passing election, thus guaranteeing that all Presidents will be beholden to the Big-Money interests. The same demonstration was made by the current financial meltdown and subsequent bailout.
Until the media begins to report to the people basic facts about the super-dangerous stagnation and degeneration of the human brain, there can be no hope of averting WW III, the ultimate arbiter of our fate.
The fact that the human brain is degenerating can be seen by anyone who is shown the signs and symptoms, the most obvious being the activities on Wall Street.
Our great educational institutions, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc., have no knowledge of the brain's degeneration and, it seems, has no interest in learning about it.
The last and only hope for a correction is by explaining what is happening and why it is happening, and that can only be done through such television programs as Bill Moyer's Journal, NOVA, etc.
The question, then, is why don't the producers of such documentary-type programs take an interest in what is happening to the human brain??
The answer is that unless Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc., have the information, or knowledge, the producers won't touch it. They require "experts" to point the way, and yet the "experts" are completely in the dark and, most likely, will remain in the dark until a higher authority gives them the okay. But it is not in the best interests of the higher authorities to upset the status quo.
Thus, we face an impenatrable wall of silence. Knowledge of the brain's degeneration, therefore, cannot be made known. This impasse cannot be broken by Nature by any means short of WW III, which is fast-approaching. Nature will have Her way, regardless of the intransigence of the media and the academy. Nature's plan for the race is that the human brain continue to evolve in a specific direction, i.e., towards Cosmic or Super-Consciousness. All obstructions blocking this evolution will be removed either voluntarily by man himself (through knowledge) or forcefully by global catastrophes, revolutions or nuclear war.
This is where we stand at this particular moment.

I voted for Nader to break the stranglehold of the two party system of money that has broken America and brought Liberty precariously close to her knees. Why don't you vote for him too?

=
MJA

Seems to me that "one man-one vote" trumps the right of monied interests to exercise free speech via huge contributions...but I am currently in a minority opionion group on that count. We'll need a new band of Supremes to reassert one man one vote principles as it pertains to campaign finance. Until then, all's fair, unfortunately.

Moyers made such a great case for both Democrats and Republicans being in the pockets of big-money, special interests. But that was followed by his sickening sea of platitudes about how our votes make a difference. Is he so immersed in the establishment that he can’t see that if there is going to be change, it must come from outside the two major parties? PBS gave little to no coverage of the third party candidates, yet they are the only hope for changing the course of America back toward a constitutional democracy. PBS is no different from the other networks. They all just follow the money.

Third party candidates need a champion in the media. Right now that champion is C-SPAN. But C-SPAN just doesn’t have the viewership to do the job. Moyers needs to own up to the fact that, although their tactics may vary, the evolution of America is independent of which party is in power. America needs PBS to stand up for real change by giving substantial coverage to the third party candidates. PBS can play a critical role in saving our republic, or it can continue to be a part of the force moving America toward extinction. Their vote really does matter.

Continuing my thought by focusing the point:

Is Obama's advantage in recruiting free and cheap manpower to get out the vote for the Obama ticket bad for politics?

You might have mentioned the price charged to attend Obama's acceptance speech at the convention: six hours of labor, which at $20 an hour translates into a free $150(remember the taxes that Obama doesn't need to pay) of work for Obama just to sit in the nose bleed seats. How many tens of thousands of people contributed that to the Obama campaign?

And was that unfair given McCain's lack of inspiration to those who are willing and able to contribute free labor?

Even the people who are paid to work for the Obama campaign get paid less than McCain pays and they are expected to pay their own way. Isn't Obama's appeal an unfair advantage because he's able to get people to work for him for much less than any of the other candidates.

And one of the news reports indicated that only 2 of Obama's staffers are in the top 15 by compensation, presumably with McCain's staffer making up the other 13. So, even with much more money to spend than McCain, Obama pays his people less, presumably because he is a more attractive employer. Is that unfair?

Should the campaign staffers be government workers so the candidate isn't beholden to those who worked so hard for him, and did so at below market rates, presumably expecting to be rewarded once the candidate wins?

I just caught part the end of the McCain campaign press conference on Cspan Friday afternoon. According to my understanding of what was said, the ad buys in support of McCain will be $10 million higher than those for Obama in the days the McCain campaign argues is the most critical time for getting votes, and that includes what they figure was $5 millon for the infomercial.

Of course, the McCain campaign in looking at the combined McCain plus Republican party spending and comparing that to the combined Obama plus Democratic party spending.

What you didn't discuss is the public funding of the presidential campaign which limits that campaign spending without limiting the party partnership spending and fund raising.

For various reasons, partly the presure from McCain and Obama, the 529s weren't a major factor until it seems the past month in the presidential campaign, and the 529 activity seems to be attacking Obama.

The Obama campaign has focused on building a party organization to match the Republican Party organizations, and collecting donations is a key way to get people to commit - its easy to contribute $25 or $50 with a credit card on the web, and now you have a new customer with a direct connection to Obama, and hopefully to the Democratic party. The next step is to get them to help with the campaign, even in small ways. The Democrats relied heavily on unions and other groups for this part of the effort while the Republicans held and hold tighter ownership. And for the most part, the Democratic party didn't even try to put together organizations in states dominated by Republicans. (The reverse is true for Republicans in Democratic states.) While the 50 state strategy has been officially the policy for the Democratic party, Obama has been putting money into it, but probably much more important, free and cheap manpower.

In this case money seems to have bound the loser rather than the winner, so I am not sure whatcan be said about that. But the US Constitution @ Art. II, Sec. 1 states: "The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States." So how is that a third of them have voted prior to next Tuesday? Is this not potentially grounds for challenging the election?

To me the solution is so very simple. No organization, whether it's ATT, ITT, The Sierra Club, The Moral Majority, Microsoft, AARP, or even The Boy Scouts should be allowed to give money to a candidate running for political office. Instead, only individuals, citizens, should have the right to donate to candidates. If an organization feels strongly about an issue then they should encourage their members, employees and others,to contribute. Additionally, we should set a limit on how much any individual can donate to any single candidate. In my opinion there's no difference between a political contribution and a bribe. Under my plan, everyone who donates has equal opportunity for access. One of our greatest presidents once said, "Government for the people and by the people." Today however it's turned into government for big business by big business. And who controls large businesses? A small group of executives and their Board of Directors control big business. When money controls access to affect change then Democracy is lost.

The Preamble to Code of Ethics for the Society of Professional Journalists states:
...public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility.

I feel that my time invested in watching a slanted discussion with a former Democratic Congressman and someone who had an association with the Carter Administration was not well spent. I would have been more interested in a more thorough and honest discussion, more facts and fewer opinions from Ms. Claybrook would have more informative.

MONEY--IS THE WHORE WITH GREAT DESCRIPTIVE NARRATIVE--IN BOOK REV;DRESSED IN THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS--RICHES --SPOILS OF WORLD--ASTRIDE A STEAD--THAT--ONLY A DEVIL MIGHT-CHAMPION--CORPORATE VOICE --IS DEAD PRESIDENTS THE--MONEYCHANGERS--LIVE

MONEY--IS THE WHORE WITH GREAT DESCRIPTIVE NARRATIVE--IN BOOK REV;DRESSED IN THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS--RICHES --SPOILS OF WORLD--ASTRIDE A STEAD--THAT--ONLY A DEVIL MIGHT-CHAMPION--CORPORATE VOICE --IS DEAD PRESIDENTS THE--MONEYCHANGERS--LIVE

If citizens put overwhelming pressure on their elected representatives, we might be able to break that stranglehold. Without that pressure, it won’t happen.

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