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Saturday, November 06, 2010


The Urgency of Campaign Finance Reform:
A Meditation on Election Day, 2010
 by Elstun W. Lauesen

Let me begin with a little Ginsberg:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix; Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.

Yeah. Word up.
Here’s what I see. I see the best candidates of my generation destroyed by other people’s madness; people who are well fed and well-dressed, driving through the paved exurbs and hillsides looking for an angry fix; ditto-headed Christers burning for the ancient heavenly connection to explain the random crap in their lives and, in the process, getting manipulated by the political machinery of the Right.
Nationally, the moneychangers, potentates and idol-worshippers that control the political Right purchased the control of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 2nd.
Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010)
The black-robed Justices of the Roberts Court are dominated by an ideology that is structurally anti-human: Capitalism. And the Citizens United case gave voice and standing to corporations in time for this election cycle. The Roberts court had a special sitting to consider Citizens United in September 2009. Most court observers agree that the decision was intended to affect the 2010 election cycle.[1]
The Court struck down a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 § 203 (popularly known as McCain-Feingold) or BCRA that prohibited all corporations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, and unions from broadcasting “electioneering communications.[2]
Justice Scalia joined the opinion of the 5 Justice Majority making explicit an interpretation of First Amendment Rights that vests the ‘rights of Englishmen’ with corporations. In the fine tradition of Judicial Kabuki, Scalia feigned shock at the Dissenters by asking (in effect) “How can you assert that…
“…the rights of Englishmen did not include the freedom to speak in association with other individuals, including association in the corporate form”[3]
The Dissent in this case was written by Justice Stevens and joined by Justices Ginsberg, Breyer and Sotomayor. The Dissent calls out the Right-Wing Court Majority for their ham-handed treatment of McCain-Feingold. Justice Stevens couldn’t be clearer in his condemnation of the Majority. BCRA § 203 was never at issue in Citizens United!
Stevens writes that the Majority “…changed the case so they could change the law”[4]
Stevens goes on to write:
At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.[5]
Where is all the hand-wringing on the Right about activists Judges? (Crickets)
The Rise of the Moloch, The Grand Acquisitors and Their Tools such as Karl Rove and Dick Armey.

With the Citizens United decision in place, legal breath and speech was bestowed upon the godless and soulless corporation. Like the Moloch of old, the corporation could spew gold from its collective mouth. The black-robed Brethren, via Magister Scalia’s invocation cited above, gave personhood to the (collectively) most powerful creature on earth. Well before the Brethren summonsed the powers of the Undead, the servants of Moloch’s Masters, who I call the Grand Acquisitors, were putting in place the machinery to gather Moloch’s gold for the purpose of directing it against those who were regarded as their enemies. The Grand Acquisitors are those for whom acquisition and accumulation of wealth is the highest religion.  I call it a religion, because “acquisition and management of wealth” is what consumes these people fervently. It occupies their thought and defines their vision of the world. While the obligatory few hours occupying a church pew may give them a religious label, the true religion of the Acquisitors is conducted within the corporate shells that host them. The Grand Acquisitors are a network of the richest and most powerful corporations and their directors. Their cloak of invisibility is the ‘corporate veil’ and their loyalty is to no nation, creed or culture; the growth of Capital is the only function that they serve.
To explore a nice schematic of the Moloch, please click here.


There are three components to the machinery that is fed by the Moloch: Aggregators, Taggers and The Horde.
Aggregators are organizations like the ones created by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie (former Chairman of the Republican National Committee) to take advantage of the Citizens United decision and the end of McCain-Feingold. American Crossroads and CrossroadsGPS are two examples of Aggregators. These organizations function as matchmakers.  They match a pool of affiliates with campaigns whose candidates serve the Capitalist cause. In effect, Karl Rove and tools like Rove are the central nervous system for Moloch. So grateful were the Corporate Masters to Clarence Thomas for his good works on their behalf in the Citizens United case, that they gave Justice Thomas’ wife’s Aggregator, Liberty Central, a million dollars after the decision. [6]

Taggers constitute is the new role for the Party establishment. In the case of the Republicans in the 2010 cycle, they needed to support candidates running against Democrats and the Moloch targeted the most viable of those candidates for support.  There is no dearth of ego and ambition on the Right. Bill Maher famously said that Conservatives campaign on the thesis that government doesn’t work in order to get elected so they can prove themselves right. Being against something is much easier than being for something as observed by the late Democratic House Speaker, Sam Rayburn (D-Tx): “Any jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a real carpenter to build it.” Since the goal of the Moloch and its Masters is to gut and debilitate government oversight, controls and regulations, they actively seek politicians who champion ignorance and suspicion of government. In general the priority of the tagging follows this hierarchy.
1. Tagged for Destruction
Politicians who support strong governmental institutions, oversight and regulations of corporations and who are not easily intimidated, seduced or otherwise compromised
2. Tagged for Neutering
Politicians who are compromisers and subject to intimidation by pressure groups and lobbyists; Evan Bayh is a good example of a malleable member of this class
3. Tagged for Support
Hard Right-Wing ideologues who are hostile to government and feel that their job in public office is to get ‘government out of the way’ of business—which, of course, benefits the Corporate Masters

The horde. For the Moloch to effect the change that the Acquisitors want, it has to have a horde of trolls that will spread out into the land and repeat the litany of the Acquisitors: ‘Government is the problem’.  
The truth is, of course, that the government is “us” and is the only means by which ‘We The People’ can balance the power of giant corporations. As long as ‘We The People’ wage war with our own government, we remain at war with ourselves. Such self-destruction neutralizes the only checks and balances against corporate abuse that exists.
The Horde is critical to the absolute rule of the Acquisitors because “the People” provide ratification for the destruction of strong public institutions. This keeps the billionaires from having to bloody their own hands or the hands of their millionaire agents in congress; the Horde will shamble onto the Commons and do the work for them.
Dick Armey, Friedrich Hayek, Contract on America, Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks, The Tea Party Nation and Town Hall Health Care Massacres.
Few have had more of an impact on American politics than Richard Armey, former Congressman from Texas D-26. Armey is an economist with a PhD from the University of Oklahoma and a proponent of Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek and free market economic determinism. When Armey became a politician (first elected to the House of Representatives from Texas 26th District), his public policy initiatives reflected those theories. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the influence of Hayek (8 May 1899 – 23 March 1992) seems evident. Dr. Hayek became entangled in the foundational debates over Great Britain’s Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party, just a few years before Armey himself decided to enter politics.
 In 1978 Hayek came into conflict with the Liberal Party leader David Steel who claimed that liberty was only possible with "social justice and an equitable distribution of wealth and power, which in turn require a degree of active government intervention" and that the Conservative Party were more concerned with the connection between liberty and private enterprise than between liberty and democracy. Hayek claimed that a limited democracy might be better than other forms of limited government at protecting liberty ".[7]
Then in an ironic foreshadowing of what could describe ‘Tea Party Democracy”, Hayek adds: “…but that an unlimited democracy was worse than other forms of unlimited government because "its government loses the power even to do what it thinks right if any group on which its majority depends thinks otherwise”[8]

Dick Armey helped to deliver the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, otherwise known as Bush Tax Cuts 1.  Through his connections with the Koch Brothers, conservative funders of ‘think-tanks’ that provide intellectual fodder and talking points for their allies, Armey was hired to run the Citizens for a Sound Economy, which was funded by the Koch Brothers with millions of dollars to hire academic mercenaries to produce hundreds of white papers on every subject important to the Acquisitors.


Under Armey’s leadership, Citizens for a Sound Economy developed a novel method of boosting its membership and revenues. Through an affiliation with a Republican businessman named J. Patrick Rooney, purchasers of insurance policies also paid for membership in Citizens for a Sound Economy. This practice carried over to FreedomWorks, when CSE changed its name. Only after Rooney and FreedomWorks were sued in a class-action lawsuit that was settled out of court, did the practice end[9].


In his service to his Masters, Armey helped lobby for Bush Tax Cuts 2 and then, in the shell of FreedomWorks, Armey push for tax reform, School choice, Welfare Reform, Social Security privatization, and the Flat Tax.


But the real organizational hand of Dick Armey has been seen in this election cycle in association with the Tea Party Patriots. Army recycled his Contract FOR America and called it Contract FROM America. FreedomWorks organized boot camps for the Tea Party movement, spent $10 M on materials and support targeting town hall protests against the Health Care reform. This latter activity cost Armey his job with the lobbying and legal firm DLA Piper, whose clients had hired the firm to lobby FOR health care reform. Leaving DLA Piper was no big deal to Armey; it left more time for his real job: deliver the Horde for the Moloch.


The handbook distributed by FreedomWorks to the Tea Party network includes instructions on disrupting meetings: "Pack the hall. Yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early. Get him off his prepared script and agenda. Stand up and shout and sit right back down." The memo continued, "The Rep [representative] should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the agenda of Washington."[10]


After CNBC Editor, Rick Santelli’s  ‘Rant heard round the world’ on February 19, 2009 from the Floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange bitching about the Obama Administration’s plan to refinance home mortgages, FreedomWorks’ Eric Odom just magically created a facebook page and a website taking up the clarion whine of Santelli and the rest, as they say, is history. came into existence 12 hours later and by February 20th, Fox News was all akimbo over the ‘Tea Party Rallies’
FreedomWorks was involved in the financing and support of the April 15, 2009 Tax Day protests, and scores of Tea Party rallies around the nation between April 15 and July 4, 2009 including the Independence Day Rallies around the nation. FreedomWorks was involved in the training and planning for the protests held during the Town Hall meetings on Health Care reform. They were involved in the Taxpayers March on Washington in September, 2009 and the first Tea Party Convention in January 2010.
As these gatherings and protests matured, the scope of the attacks fell generally along the lines of Mr. Army’s Contract From America: “Less Government, lower taxes, more freedom.” This is, indeed, the litany of the Acquisitors.
Come Together Right Now, Over Me…
As 2010 rolled on, the political season took on greater importance in the minds of all. The Tea Party movement despite general public misgivings embraced the Citizens United decision. The FreedomWorks and Tea Party Nation networks lauded the opinion in a briefing paper. This despite the obvious fact that the decision had the potential to conflict with the very ‘liberties’ that the ‘movement’ made its priority.
Here in Alaska, even the Wasilla Patriots sent a letter in February of this year to all the media, and local governmental politicians demanding unlimited political speech in the April, 2010 municipal election in which they were planning to support like-minded candidates. They must have gotten their memo from Dick Armey that Citizens United is good for liberty-loving Americans (LaLas). Now LaLas can attack all levels of government at will and clean house and replace them with patriots!
Anyway, the Taggers were at work and FreedomWorks endorsed Marco Rubio in Florida, Pat Toomey , Mike Lee and Rand Paul. Moloch took note. Crossroads USA immediately gave $250,000 to Rubio[11] and similar levels of support are expected from the others, post-election reporting.
The horde has been unleashed and they supported all of these candidates, all of whom won, raising the Republican gain in the Senate to 5.
The total estimate of money spent during this election cycle will be $4 Billion. Much of that money spent on negative ads attacking opponents. Nearly corporations hiding under the cloak of Citizens United will have spent 30% of that money. Next year the totals will be even greater. This year, we learned about Target and Best Buy contributing to a Republican candidate supporting anti-gay positions. We learned about it because the corporations donated to a traditional PAC with reporting requirements. Next year they will be smarter, they will donate through an aggregator with an IRS (c) 4  status and they won’t have to disclose.
The lesson Learned.
Kill Moloch. Destroy the godless, soulless corporate influence in our elections. It is the popular thing to do[12] it is the moral thing to do (all speech is not equal) and it is the sane thing to do (corporations are not human). We have learned the power of the unlimited corporate money in political campaigns to bait, bully, browbeat and boggle the consciousness of the average citizen. Brilliant manipulators like Karl Rove and Dick Armey who serve the interests of the corporation over the citizen will continue to lie cheat and steal elections with impunity as long as they have the power to control the media.
How else can we explain a plastics manufacturer’s ability to convince a majority of the good citizens of Wisconsin that he is a better guardian of their civil liberties than Russ Feingold? Feingold was the only Senator to vote against the USA-PATRIOT Act that conservative and liberal scholars both agree violates our civil liberties. So what is the greatest danger to freedom and liberty—even greater than terrorism--  from which Feingold’s opponent will protect the Badger State? You guessed it: Health Care Reform.
There is no other priority greater than campaign finance reform. That is the lesson from Election 2010.

[5] Justice Stevens, et al, ibid.
[7] ^ secured from Wikipedia Entry at ^ "Letters to the Editor: The dangers to personal liberty", The Times (11 July 1978), p. 15.
[8] ibid
[10] ^ Debates Turns Hostile, New York Times, August 8, 2009

[12] In a Washington Post-ABC News poll in early February 2010 it was found that roughly 80% of Americans were opposed to the January 2010 Supreme court's ruling. The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent)

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