DARK MONEY, LIGHT REASONING

When contributions become bribes

If you are under forty years of age, you probably don’t know about the concept of “equal time” for radio and television. It was a rule codified by the Communications Act of 1934, and it required broadcasters to allow candidates to purchase airtime at the same rate as their “most favored advertiser,” meaning at the lowest possible rate. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rightfully was concerned that broadcast stations could easily manipulate the outcome of elections by presenting just one candidate’s point of view while excluding those of all other candidates.

I’m a former broadcaster and I remember times of having a candidate talking and joking on the air with the morning crew for twenty minutes. Afterward, I had to send a letter to all the other candidates offering them the same time. Of course, games were sometimes played. If the “snake handler Nazi” candidate demanded equal time, the station gave him twenty minutes on Sunday at 4AM.

The equal time rule should not be confused with the now-defunct FCC fairness doctrine, which was introduced in 1949. It required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the policy in 1987.

This brings us to Citizens United v. FEC (Federal Election Commission), a 2010 Supreme Court case whose ruling asserted that corporations are people and removed reasonable campaign contribution limits. This allowed corporations and unions to use dark money in attempts to influence election results by advertising for or against one or more candidates. Wow, how did we get here?

Neither you nor I have the time to get into the details of this outrageous decision, but the highest court in the land said in no uncertain terms, that they 1. Don’t believe that disclosing who gives a candidate money helps democracy and 2. Corporations have the same first amendment rights as individual people. Okay, I get it, money talks and nobody walks, but why can’t we know exactly who is talking?

Corruption is as old as language because once a person could communicate with another they could give in order to get. The essence of quid pro quo was around long before the Latin words, quid, pro and quo were invented. The phrase means something for something, and after a person has been given something, especially something of great value, that individual typically will deliver something in return. Politicians are like kids set loose in a candy store and told their parents won’t be back for an hour. They know that eating too much candy is wrong, but hey, no one is there to stop them.

Our campaign financing system is broken and the only way to fix it will be getting these less than honest grifters out of the candy shop. Even the more moderate and semi-honest politicians in both parties complain about how much time they waste making phone calls to donors and Super PACs. They already get paid handsome salaries for doing their jobs, so why should they be allowed to fund raise on our dime? The annual compensation for most Senators, Representatives and Delegates is $174,000, and they get more when in leadership roles. They also have great healthcare insurance and average pensions of $74,028. Why do they beg for money? Because they need as much as possible to buy more advertising than their challengers. Simply put, that corporation, you know, that “person,” will pay whatever is necessary to put their candidate’s message on the air UNEDITED and UNCENSORED. They can say whatever they want.

A television or radio station doesn’t have to take political advertising but should they sell one political ad they must take commercials from other politicians until they are sold out. Candidates rush to buy their advertising schedules early to insure they get on the air. A few years ago, I was researching political advertising for a major firm and one candidate bought so late there were only a few spots available. They lost.

The term “dark money” is unique to the United States. Our unreasonable laws allow “nonprofit organizations” to raise funds for the purpose of influencing elections without requiring disclosure of their donors. These monies are dark, sinister and secret by their very nature. In fact, they are NOT dark; they are invisible.

Those political con men and women who talk about how they want politics and government to be transparent are full of shit. Two congresspeople, Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene and Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, have raised between $1.4 and $1.5 million in donations by teaming up to hold rallies in states they don’t even represent. By the way, it’s a two-way street. Representative Liz Cheney has reported to the FEC a $2.4 million bankroll, which is major moola for Wyoming. You see, the wind blows both ways and the dollars fly to anyone with a presence and controversial tail wind.

Call it what you will, but that money, regardless of its origin, is a damn bribe. If I give you money, you must profess my beliefs. For example, a candidate or congressperson can raise oodles of cash by stating belief in the BIG LIE. It doesn’t matter if deep-down inside they don’t believe what they are shoveling, the more shit they sling the more money they get.

SOLUTION? End Citizens United and pass a law requiring the disclosure of all political contributors or donators. Any “non-profit” that buys a political ad, must have a website detailing all monetary donations and sources. Also, anyone running for, elected to, or filing to be on the ballot for any federal office must disclose the last three years of their tax returns. None of this is unreasonable but should it all happen you’d quickly see many corrupt sons of bitches running out the door.

Transparency is better than darkness. As the Washington Post says, “Democracy dies in darkness.” True, that.

BRAND NEW BOOK

We knew that the great divide in America would have a major effect on the presidential election in the year 2020, but something else was lurking that we didn’t anticipate. The world suffered a global pandemic of Covid-19, and everything changed. The lockdown motivated one author to write MASHED POTATOES: Covid, Cancer & Comfort Food. The cover ironically claims the book is a “humorous” recollection of 2020, but one might ask, “Where was the humor?” This is a work of survival to motivate those who desire to get beyond Covid-19, beat cancer and defend our precious Democracy.  The world got Covid, the writer got cancer and we all ate copious amounts of comfort food. It’s time to swallow the truth, survive the madness, take a large spoon and savor some delicious MASHED POTATOES. Get some here. 

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A MODERATE PROGRESSIVE

The Real Way to Beat Trump

We are going to be riding a roller coaster for the next year and a half and it’s going to be turbulent. Politics might be a blood sport, and some say each party eats its young, but the distance between winning a primary and a mandate to lead are damn far apart. The ruthless sports tactic of taking out one player, even if it means your disqualification, has hurt America from its inception.

One might say that the only time we were united as a nation happened when we broke away from Britain. But even then, there were doubters and conspiracies. Look to Aaron Burr, a former US Vice President, who was arrested in Alabama on charges of plotting to annex Spanish territory in Louisiana and Mexico. He was going to set up an independent republic and, oh yeah, in 1804 he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel and got away with it. Richard Burr, who sits in Congress today, is a 12th cousin of Aaron Burr, proving that treason is not transferrable in a democracy.

This brings us to the current Democrat slate of those who want to be President. One could say that Donald Trump, with his populace bombast, has made everyone believe anyone could be president. And some believe just about anyone would do a better job than the present occupant at the White House.

The title of this piece might sound oxymoronic, but I mean it as “a thing.” There will be many words that Trump will cart out along with childish names to denigrate those running against him. His obsession with “socialism” is strange. No reasonable person in America will turn their back on capitalism. We have socialistic programs, but the common man doesn’t know what socialism is. And despite how oxymoronic it sounds, the average American voter has no idea what he or she doesn’t want.

We all want things to get better, and the base meaning of progression means that ideas and systems move forward, and those who make progress happen are progressives. When change occurs too fast or is perpetrated on the masses without a clear explanation of why it’s good for them, it’s easily attacked. In 2020, Trump will make a pitch that nothing should change. He will attack the demonic democrats as creatures from a murky place of socialism and will probably even use the word “communism,” which at this point has no street value. Trump will be talking to older, rich white people and white nationalists.

Joe Biden represents a difficult challenge for Democrats who think that every force from Trump must be met with an equal amount of energy pushing against him. The danger is younger, more vigorous souls want to push twice as hard in the opposite direction, making them look like leftists. That can create an opportunity for Trump to sell against their “radical” viewpoints and “extreme” changes that will be “too risky” as the economy is doing so well. Someone who believes they can modernize their approach without selling out what they’ve stood for over the years just might be the person needed to get rid of the orange Putin puppet in the White House.

Hillary Clinton didn’t win the 2016 election because of the massive number of swing voters and on-the-fence Republicans who didn’t trust her. Oh, we can thank the Russians for most of that, but she has been demonized from her days as first lady. People of his generation will be okay with Joe Biden, but the younger Bernie Sandersettes will need a progressive in the VP slot. So, there’s a way to balance the ticket. It’s a good reason for Ms. Harris and Ms. Warren to be protected in the long race to the ticket.

After a few hours of productive drinking, a voter from South Carolina pontificated about how “you democrats” can beat Trump. He declared what the party needed was a “WHITE MAN” to run against the Donald. At first I was aghast at his chauvinism, but I got it after some thought. Here was guy who voted for Trump but now has doubts about whether he’s a good idea for the next four years. He’s unabashedly saying that people in his state don’t believe a woman can make a good president. Wow, gender is still a thing. But then, I did see Confederate flags in many of his neighbors’ front yards. Have we progressed as a nation?

The prescription for beating Donald Trump is simple. First, keep investigating him and surely some deep dark secrets from his past will surface. Keep monitoring all he does currently and magnify anything he does improperly. Pass a law to make every candidate disclose their tax returns and examine Trump’s carefully. He must be seen for what he is, a grifter politician with no care for the common man.

Next, find a strong candidate with instant brand recognition. It’s okay if the person is a salt-of-the-earth moderate. Mix that person with a feisty hard-working progressive VP who can be the attack dog against the sellout swamp dweller, Donald Trump. Keep your eye on the prize and bring the party together under one message and one creed, like Obama did back in 2008. Moderate progressives with positive messaging are what America needs.

And to all those rich Democratic donors, please do give your money to your favorite candidate, but hand America a big favor sometime around June 1, 2020 by pulling all your money out of the stock market. Donald Trump will melt into a puddle like a wicked witch. Don’t worry, you’ll be withdrawing the money at a high and you can always pour it back into the market after the election. That will make all the rich 1% Republicans feel good about electing a Democrat. Hey, it’s cheaper than lubricating Super PACs and wasting your money on idealistic baby candidates who are clearly not at all ready for prime time.

Impact of Trump on America

The book that tells it like it is…

Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs shows how we’ve wasted our GOLD on bad wars and corruption. While GOD is there for many people as a spiritual enrichment and the provider of glowing feelings, the truth is just praying and believing will not change our major arc. We don’t determine who gets a GUN. We aren’t sure if we have paramilitary groups ready to storm the White House or a White Castle. There is no control of weapons. The GOOFBALLS with the power constantly try to manipulate us into spending more money on bombs and tanks and wars. When all of our institutions are infected with neglect and fall in disrepair, we will only have ourselves to blame. This book is not an antidote for the left or right, it’s an accelerant to move the middle off their collective asses to go do something positive for America.

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