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Character and Ideology Counts More than Money

From Barry Casselman- The Prairie Editor

The problem with those self-styled idealists in both
national parties who want to limit the increasing volume
of money in U.S. elections is that they could not, and
cannot, devise legislation which would accomplish their

As we have seen, following the passage of McCain-Feingold,
the so-called “special interests” always find legal ways to
get around the law’s restrictions. Furthermore, the U.S.
supreme court continually has ruled that contributing
financially to a federal political campaign is a form of free
speech, and can be limited only when there is a clear and
present risk of abuse.

One of the most ludicrous and demonstrably false assumptions
made these days, usually promoted by liberals and Democrats,
is that rich persons and corporations are uniformly conservative
and Republican. In fact, most of the “new rich” are liberals and
Democrats. A new study shows that most of the millionaires in
Congress are Democrats. Some of the richest Americans, many
of them billionaires, give exclusively to Democrats and liberal
causes. One hundred years ago, it was true, “big” business and
corporate moguls were almost entirely Republicans, but that has
long ceased to be so. Today, many of America’s richest citizens
and largest corporations create a liberal public image about
their politics, and routinely choose to support “progressive”
and left-leaning candidates over conservative ones. They respond,
furthermore, to politically-correct pressure from the left much
more often than to conservative interests and principles.

The bottom line is that money does not buy most competitive
elections because good candidates from both parties either have
enough resources of their own, or can raise them from their party’s
supporters. Character, personality and ideology still matter more
in most elections.

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Bribery and Extortion

In short, we have come to believe the problem in Washington is a sort of legalized bribery. If outside interests can only be held at bay, we can and will get better leadership.

But what if we are wrong? What if the problem is not bribery . . . but extortion? What if the Permanent Political Class in Washington, made up of individuals from both political parties, is using its coercive public power to not only stay in office but to threaten others and to extract wealth, and in the bargain pick up private benefits for themselves, their friends, and their families?

What we often think of as the bribery of our national leaders by powerful special interests in Washington may actually make more sense understood as extortion by government officials—elected and unelected. Far from being passive recipients of money and favors, they make it happen. They leverage their positions to shake the money tree for themselves and their political allies. And as we will see, they do so using a variety of methods, many of which you probably have never heard of before.

The assumption is that we need to protect politicians from outside influences. But how about protecting ourselves from the politicians?

Excerpt From: Schweizer, Peter. “Extortion.” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ( iBooks.

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The concern about money and politics is worthy.  But the fixation on billionaires with influence, whether it is the Kochs or  Soros, is aimed at the wrong target.  The larger problem is the corruption of the political class who rigs the game to extort payments from those who can pay.

Once the government justifies its intrusion into every aspect of our commercial and private lives there is too much temptation from morally weak elected leaders to leverage this power into financial gain. Gridlock and temporary measures serve the financial objectives of the perpetual campaign.

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The Immortal Corporation

“Politics is a kind of island in the evolutionary stream—isolated, unchanging, incapable of learning because it is insulated against going extinct. Politics is the last monopoly, the Immortal Corporation. You’ll never see a capitol building with a GOING OUT OF BUSINESS sign hanging out front—even genuinely bankrupt, undeniably insolvent political regimes from Argentina to Greece for the most part go on about their business, even after defaulting on their financial obligations. If the bees in a particular hive make a bad decision about relocating to a new tree, those bees die, and if enough members of a species make similarly poor decisions, that species goes extinct. Consumer products follow a very similar pattern. And if a firm offers enough bad products or makes a sufficient number of bad financial decisions, it vanishes, too (unless it is a politically connected Wall Street bank or an influential manufacturing concern—more about that later). Firms learn from their mistakes and from the mistakes of others. And, like individual human beings, they learn by copying more successful efforts. Individual companies come and go, entire industries rise and fall, but the store of knowledge embedded in our aggregate economic practices continues to grow and to become ever more refined: We really do know how to make much better cars, telephones, and refrigerators than we did in 1960. But we do not have better politics. And politics here means both the formal structures of government and those nongovernmental institutions closely enmeshed with them, for example, the ethanol industry, which is a private, for-profit enterprise that by the industry’s own account simply would not exist without a federal mandate that all gasoline contain a minimum percentage of ethanol in the blend. Government-supported firms such as General Motors and General Electric are properly considered part of politics, as are the specific operations of other private firms that operate through the power of government, for example, Lockheed Martin’s defense-contracting wing.”

Excerpt From: Kevin D. Williamson. “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome.” HarperCollins, 2013-05-01. iBooks.

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Misguided Outrage On Campaign Finance Ruling

From The Cato Institute, A Free Speech Kind of Thing By John Samples
This article appeared on, December 15, 2005.


Eugene McCarthy’s campaign depended on two factors, shifting public opinion and money. Public support for the Vietnam War remained strong for a longer time than we now remember. Only in the fall of 1968 were a majority of Americans willing to say that the Vietnam effort had been a mistake.

McCarthy sensed that his campaign could represent an emerging public sentiment against the war. But to enter the race for the presidency, he needed more than a message, more even than the volunteers that flocked to him that spring.

McCarthy needed money to finance his campaign. He got it. McCarthy received several six-figure donations from affluent individuals deeply opposed to the war in Vietnam. Herbert Alexander, a leading campaign finance expert, estimates that about one-third of McCarthy’s total fundraising in 1968 came from just 50 large donors. David Hoeh, the organizer of McCarthy’s New Hampshire campaign, recalled later that a single “financial angel” saved their media effort at a crucial point.

In our time the men who supported McCarthy’s 1968 effort would be liable for the crime of contributing too much money to a political campaign. Not surprisingly we have many fewer upstart campaigns like McCarthy’s and 98 percent of incumbents win their bids to be re-elected to Congress.

McCarthy himself believed that campaign finance restrictions complicated the lives of candidates and their supporters, increased the influence of special interests, and ultimately made lawbreakers out of people seeking to exercise their right to political association. Most of such laws, he said, violated the Constitution while upholding the privileged status of the major parties. His opposition to campaign finance law was, he explained near the end of his life, a “free speech kind of thing.”


Campaign Finance Reform attempts to reduce the influence of money on elections, but it ends up reducing the power to challenge the status quo. To contend that these laws are necessary to protect government or collective interests should give liberals a pause.  The first amendment was never intended to protect government interests.

Citizens United also centered on first amendment and many believe it was decided largely on the Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart’s assertion that the Government had the right to ban books that “that contained express advocacy if an incorporated entity was involved.”

In its effort to protect us from the negative influence of too much money, the result has been to protect the two entrenched political parties from disruptive challengers from both within its ranks and from out side the tent.  Perhaps this is why the Republicans and Democrats have agreed on past campaign finance reforms.  Bipartisanship alone does not always make for a worthy outcome.

The recent McCutcheon v. FEC ruling has solicited the same reaction as Citizens United.  Even though the per candidate limit was retained the court removed the total limit in an election cycle.

The reaction is predicated on two myths about money in politics.

The first myth is that money is the only source of power.  One result of the campaign finance laws is the number of super wealthy who have run.  Ross Perot, Steve Forbes, John Kerry, Mitt Romney, and some occasional rumblings from Donald Trump did not succeed even with their enormous wealth.  There are other sources of power such as the institutional strength of the established parties, unions and PACS.

The second myth is the belief that big money favors conservative causes,  Both Eugene McCarthy and Obama have proven otherwise.  7 out of 10 of the wealthiest Congressmen are Democrats.  For every Koch there is a Soros.

If we really want Hope and Change we should not short change the means to achieve it.  The court ruled in favor of individual first amendment rights over entrenched government interests.

A true liberal, Like Eugene McCarthy, would have agreed.

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Fighting the Natural Progress of Liberty

Charles Koch writes in The Wall Street Journal- I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society:


A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.

More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. “The natural progress of things,” Jefferson wrote, “is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” He knew that no government could possibly run citizens’ lives for the better. The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle. Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.


The more I read and learn about the Koch brothers the more I like, and the more I detest the vile demonizations from the likes of Harry Reid and his ilk, who are so intellectually bankrupt that all they can muster is personal attacks on the people who actually create the wealth he tries so hard to destroy.