Boy, did I say something dumb

When you are impetuous and say something offhanded, you could overstep the mark with someone and need to apologize. Take time to think through your response before you offer your opinion, particularly if it is unsolicited. What you think is fine and dandy could be unacceptable to someone else, so tread carefully. — Somebody’s horoscope in the April 22 Daily News.

Talking about political corruption in a previous post, I cited a New Yorker article about a Russian muckraker. The article, by Julia Ioffe, described how Russian Big Business and apparatchik politics feed other.

I said, “Our politicians are seraphs compared to Russian politicos.”

So dumb. I was sequentially brought to task by:

  • Russ Feingold.
  • Jeff Toobin.
  • Eric Lichtblau.
  • My brother.

I need to apologize. Not only can U.S. politicians be just as corrupt as their Russian counterparts, the Supreme Court has actually legalized such corruption via the infamous Citizens United decision.

And just in case we missed the Supreme point, apparently they’re going to reinforce their rotten opinion with upcoming decisions.

Wanna buy a pol?

Here’s what I got from Russ Feingold:


News leaked this week: the White House is considering an executive order that would require more disclosure from corporate forces trying to influence our democracy.

It’s the definition of corruption for companies to try to win government contracts by influencing our elections. Even the appearance of corruption undermines our democratic institutions and representative government.

We know that as progressives, and the president knows that too. And since Congress has failed to close a gaping loophole that would allow precisely that type of corruption, the president is considering an executive order that would require government contractors to disclose their contributions to groups who get involved in elections.

We need to make sure this proposal actually happens, because corporate lobbyists are lining up against the president’s plan.

Right now, corporate-backed groups are planning to attack the president — and force him to drop any plan to require more disclosure. We know these lobbyists play tough — they’ve stalled this kind of action in Congress for years.

Feingold reminds me that what one courageous Russian muckraker is trying, via Russian courts, to do—get disclosure about certain murky corporate “donations”—is the opposite of what is happening here, where the highest U.S. court has virtually sealed the lips on disclosure of similar corporate “donations.”

And Jeffrey Toobin, in the April 11 New Yorker, wrote “Money Talks,” about the Supreme Court oral argument in Arizona’s Citizens Clean Elections Act, “a law that attempts to do a little something about campaigns in which one candidate has a great deal more money than the others.”

The implications of the Court’s approach are now becoming more clear. In the Citizens United case, the majority decreed…that corporations and other organizations could bypass the old limits by giving unlimited amounts not to candidates but to nominally independent groups that support them. (Corporations, of course, traditionally give more to Republicans.) But the logic of the decision…suggests that in the future the Court will allow corporations to skip the third parties and give money directly to the candidates. It also implies that any limit on the size of contributions, by individuals or corporations, may not be held to be unconstitutional. The Court did suggest that requirements calling for the public disclosure of contributions might pass constitutional muster, but Congress shows no inclination to enact any such rules …

So the vulgar truth about Citizens United, the doomed Arizona law, and related future cases remains: the five Justices appointed by Republicans are thrashing the four appointed by Democrats–to the enormous advantage of the G.O.P. Coincidence? You be the judge.

We U.S. citizens need a muckraker. And maybe someone should investigate the personal finances of the Supreme Five.

Here’s Eric Lichtblau’s heading in the April 22 New York Times: Democrats Sue to Force U.S Election Agency to Reveal Political Donations.

And my brother just gave me articulated hell.

So I am sorry … less for my half-thought-through opinion than for our current Supreme Court. I, at least, know how to apologize.

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