Before mariner starts his main topic

Bon Voyage to Jim Lehrer. He was a newscaster when the news was real and meaningful and more of the moment than broadcasting is today; for much of mariner’s life MacNeil and Lehrer were mariner’s go to newscasters. (Those were the days when news did not have to make a profit – it was a public service. Since Sixty Minutes in 1977, not only did news have to report news, it had to entertain – the beginning of pundits, gossip and, if not fake, trumped-up news.)

– – – –

As to the main topic, evidence of plutocracy and corporatism:

֎ Top twenty corporations in lobby expenses:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $58.2 million (versus $64.1 million in 2018)

Open Society Policy Center: $48.5 million (versus $31.5 million in 2018)

National Association of Realtors: $41.1 million (versus $72.6 million in 2018)

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $28.9 million (versus $27.5 million in 2018)

American Hospital Association: $22.2 million (versus $19.9 million in 2018)

American Medical Association: $20 million (versus $19.8 million in 2018)

Business Roundtable: $20 million (versus $23.2 million in 2018)

U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: $18 million (versus $29.8 million in 2018)

<Facebook: $16.7 million (versus $12.6 million in 2018)

<Amazon: $16.1 million (versus $14.2 million in 2018)

National Association of Manufacturers: $14.6 million (versus $9.5 million in 2018)

NCTA — The Internet & Television Association: $14.2 million (versus $13.2 million in 2018)

Boeing: $13.8 million (versus $15.1 million in 2018)

Comcast: $13.4 million (versus $15.1 million in 2018)

Northrop Grumman: $13.3 million (versus $11.9 million in 2018)

Lockheed Martin: $12.9 million (versus $13.1 million in 2018)

United Technologies: $12.7 million (versus $10.1 million in 2018)

National Association of Broadcasters: $12.7 million (versus $14.2 million in 2018)

CTIA — The Wireless Association: $12.4 million (versus $11.4 million in 2018)

Southern Company: $12.2 million (versus $12.3 million in 2018)

֎ WHO’S AFRAID OF THE IRS? NOT FACEBOOK. The social media behemoth is about to face off with the tax agency in a rare trial to capture billions that the IRS thinks Facebook owes. But onerous budget cuts have hamstrung the agency’s ability to bring the case. [ProPublica]

֎ WHAT FORMER LAWMAKERS WHO WENT TO K STREET ARE UP TO: More than a dozen lawmakers who lost their seats or chose to retire in 2018 announced they were heading to K Street (‘Lobbyist Street’) last year. The former representatives are allowed to lobby their former colleagues . . . [Politico]

֎ EFFORTS TO REFORM FINANCE CAMPAIGN LAWS in the United States invariably disappoint or enrage some people. In 1976, Sen. James Buckley (R-NY) became the latest in a long line of politicians to take his outrage all the way to the Supreme Court. He argued Federal Election Campaign Act limits on campaign spending violated free speech rights. The Supreme Court agreed, and the act was amended to allow unlimited spending by political candidates. This decision opened the floodgate of political advertising that pours through television sets from coast to coast in the run-up to a major election. [Wikipedia]

֎ LET NO GOOD DEED GO UNPUNISHED. The latest attempt to level the financial playing field among federal candidates was the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. Coming together in relative solidarity, Republicans and Democrats sought to ban non-federal contributions to campaigns, limit spending by federal candidates and also ban political issue ads from airing within 30 days of an election. This development might have been music to the ears of those Americans weary of listening to the steady stream of political advertisements that emanate from radios and televisions every four years. However, several aspects of this law were challenged less than a year after it was enacted. The U.S. Supreme Court has subsequently struck down many provisions of the act. [Wikipedia]

֎ The DISCLOSE Act (S. 3628) was proposed in July 2010. The bill would have amended the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit government contractors from making expenditures with respect to such elections, and establish additional disclosure requirements for election spending. It went nowhere. [Wikipedia]

For many decades mariner’s position on campaign financing has been twofold: (1) All financing for an elective position, local, state or federal, is limited to the jurisdictional boundaries of that specific election subject to local election regulations. (2) The election of the President and other inter-jurisdictional positions (including referendums) are funded by the Federal Election Commission and disallow private funding.

There is an underlying belief that explains the Supreme Court’s willingness to be complicit in unfair election practices: Money and speech is the same thing and protected by the First Amendment – an idea the Supreme Court has upheld a number of times. The flaw in this philosophy is that a zillionaire has a zillion votes and the common man has one – if they’re lucky.

Ancient Mariner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.