Monday, August 6, 2012

"Freedom of Speech" For Rich Guys Has a Different Meaning

Freedom of speech for rich guys is different than freedom of speech for you and me:  Comments on the Disclose Act.

From Disclose Act petition on
"What is the final difference between one $10,000 check and 1,000 $10 checks?," asked Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, co-author of a bipartisan 2002 campaign finance law. "Other than the impact on trees, very little. So why should one be free from having to disclose its origin?"

The CNN article on outside political donors in which McCain was quoted seems to initially support the "Both parties are the same" meme, but if you continue to read the article, you will notice something else:

Nearly 700 independent political groups have poured more than $187 million into 2012 campaigns nationwide so far, according to FEC records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. More than $41 million of that has come from groups that disclose only a limited amount of information about their donors, or none at all.  
About $140 million of the total has been spent by conservative groups, with most of that laid out during the Republican presidential primary battles, according to the group, which runs the campaign-finance website

Yes, that's right.  140 million over 187 million means that about 75% of those contributions from "independent political groups" has come into and been spent by conservative groups.  

So the Democrats introduced the Disclose Act, which met its death at the hands of Senate Republicans.  The Republicans put an interesting spin on this:  

"Democrats can call this bill whatever they want, but they cannot conceal its true intent, which is to encourage their allies and discourage their critics from exercising their first amendment right to speak their mind," (Minority leader Senator Mitch) McConnell said.

As is often the case when I read such twisted Republican logic, I just can't think of what to say.  Why don't the citizens of this country have a right to know who is funding which candidates in our elections?  And if some organization really believed in a candidate, why would they be "discouraged" from exercising their "freedom of speech" (Repubtalk which means "giving great big bundles of cash to a candidate who will support our interests")?

Some Republican/TeaParty websites actually accompany propaganda against the Disclose Act with pictures of people with their mouths taped shut.  On the tape the words "Disclose Act" are written.  I guess their base actually believes that insisting that the mega-rich people tell us to whom they are giving their bundles of cash somehow interferes with the freedom of speech of the attractive young lady with her mouth taped shut?
The the Republicans try to compare unions with mega-rich corporate types:

Republicans also complained that the measure gave an unfair break to labor unions, which typically contribute to Democrats. Unions have to disclose their expenditures, but individual members' dues would most likely fall below the $10,000 threshold for disclosure.
"What is the final difference between one $10,000 check and 1,000 $10 checks?," asked Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, co-author of a bipartisan 2002 campaign finance law. "Other than the impact on trees, very little. So why should one be free from having to disclose its origin?"

What's the difference between one $10,000 check  and 1,000 $10 checks (presumably from middle class people who are struggling to pay bills)?  Come on, McCain... are you really that clueless?  I didn't vote for you in 2008, but I did respect you.  Now.. not so much.  And the hypocrisy from someone who co-wrote a campaign finance law.  No, these are not your parents' Republicans!  

Do you remember why we have unions, McCain and the rest of the Republicans?  Hello?!!?  The rights that unions fought for would be gone in a year or two if the Republicans have their way.  Isn't that obvious? 

Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, says ... "But unions already disclose the amount they spend, and its source -- members' dues -- is a known quantity, she said.
"What we don't know is who is bankrolling these patriotic-sounding but vague and unfamiliar groups which are funded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by individuals, by corporations and trade associations," she said. "... We don't have good enough and routine enough information about union spending to these outside groups, but we have no information from the other side." (emphasis added)
Labor groups now have to report political expenditures of more than $5,000, though they don't have to disclose individual members whose dues are pooled to provide that money. Philadelphia labor lawyer Richard Poulson told CNN that's not a break for the unions, just a reflection of the comparative wealth involved.
"The Republicans are essentially crying foul because individual union members are not wealthy enough," said Poulson... "If we were to go back to square one, I don't think anyone on labor's side of the fence is particularly happy the floodgates have been opened with respect to political spending," Poulson said. But he added, "Workers are never going to have as much money as the bosses, and that's just a fact. And you shouldn't punish workers for banding together to get some sort of a voice in the process."  
One of the conservative movement's biggest triumphs over the past few decades has been the complete villainization of unions.  There are millions of people in this country who have forgotten why we needed unions, why we had them in the first place.  These same people buy the "union thugs/unions bosses" slogans while they seem to forget that corporate chieftains are usually much bigger, much more influential, and much more destructive bosses and thugs.

No sense repeating any more of the article, but certainly worth a read if you actually believe that both parties ARE the same.Because that article should make it crystal clear --- again--- that the "Both parties ARE the same" meme is a myth.

No, Both Parties are NOT the same!  

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