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Monday, October 24, 2016

This is a column about campaign finance reform.

And your eyes glazed over just then, didn’t they?

That’s the problem with this problem. Americans know that government truly of, by and for the people is unlikely if not impossible so long as the system is polluted by billions of dollars in contributions from corporations and individual billionaires. Half of us, according to Gallup, would like to see public financing of campaigns; nearly 80 percent want to limit campaign fundraising.

And yet somehow, the issue seems to lack a visceral urgency in the public mind. William Ostrander understands that all too well.

“There are people that will go nuts over the Second Amendment,” he says in a telephone interview. And not to diminish the importance of self-defense, he adds, but “when you look at the practical character of it, what’s going on in campaign finance corruption is far more injurious to their lives, their well-being and their children’s lives than anything most people have had to deal with with the Second Amendment.”

Ostrander is a farmer in tiny San Luis Obispo, CA, and the director of something called Citizens Congress 2014. Its members include a schoolteacher, a small-business man, a firefighter, a general contractor and a doctor — your basic average Americans — who have collectively invested thousands of volunteer hours to set up a summit (June 2-5) of lawyers, lawmakers, academics, advocacy groups and other experts.

Their aim: to brainstorm strategies and craft a plan of action to eliminate the influence of big money in politics.

Quixotic? Perhaps. But Ostrander says he has commitments from a number of high-profile individuals, including: former labor secretary Robert Reich, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig; and Trevor Potter, the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, who is probably best known for his appearances on The Colbert Report, where he helped Stephen Colbert set up a SuperPAC.

  • Dominick Vila

    The greatest danger to our democracy and freedoms is the influence of money in our political process. A political system that relies entirely on how money is donated, and how powerful – often misleading – their electioneering tactics are, has nothing to do with democracy, a term that at times is over used or meaningless in a society whose primary objective is limited to material values.
    Our problem has little to do with Islamic fundamentalism, China’s economic growth, or Russia’s pathetic expansionism. Our problem is domestic and it is being facilitated by the complacency of mainstream Americans and government institutions more interested in protecting and advancing the interests of a few than those of the majority.

    • TZToronto

      Lincoln was aware internal threats to the United States, although his concerns were probably focused on something else. “Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and
      crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa
      combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their
      military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge
      in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of
      danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up
      amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we
      must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we
      must live through all time or die by suicide.”

      • Mark Forsyth

        Good quote! Here are some others that folks should consider.Starting with Abe: ” I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of our country.Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow,and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” Abe Lincoln; ” Corporations,which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people,are fast becoming the peoples masters.” Grover Cleveland; “The government,which was designed for the people,has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers,the special interests.An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.” Woodrow Wilson;” The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself.That,in its essence,is fascism-ownership of government by an individual,by a group,or any controlling private power.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt .
        I’m not a man who sees a conspiracy every which way I look,but clearly,the pieces are falling in place that gives a picture of a concerted effort to undermine our liberties and create a fascist state.Call it what you like,I call it fascism.When I consider how many Americans fought and died to rid the world of fascism including my father,then I must view rulings such as Citizens United and McCutcheon as nothing less than an abomination.
        Ever since the start of our country,there has been an element that does not want the existence of a Democratic Republic.It lived during the time of slavery.It lived during Reconstruction.It lived during the turn of the century,World War I and through the Great Depression and raised its ugly head in the Morgan/Dupont Conspiracy that arose as a result of the New Deal policies fostered by F.D.R..
        How much will we be content to sacrifice and lose? The time is now for the American People to take action and become the best damn gardeners ever,weeding out every vestige of corruption in our government.Every entity,corporation,bank, and crooked fatcat individual in and outside of government must go.Start by removing those bastard judges from the Supreme Court.If it cannot be done through the vote or other legal means,then their lives should suffer.The poverty being pushed upon the American People is the worst type of violence.It’s time for the people to push back if our Democratic Republic is going to survive.

        • Kurt CPI

          Mark, absolutely true. Pitts is way out there on some things, but on this one I couldn’t agree more. Nothing in the history of rulings is as ludicrous as this. Like you, I don’t see conspiracy theories behind every pulled shade. But this reeks of corruption, collusion, and bullsh*%. No Constitutional scholar could ever equate corporations to people or money to speech. How do we get together to support the reversal of these clearly Constitution-defying rulings?

          • Mark Forsyth

            Spread the word Kurt.Share every questionable act of government with family and friends even if you think they are already informed.Keep the topic alive and the conversation flowing.You and I and many others know that those judges cannot be constitutionally capable of rigorous honesty and pass such trashy legislation.Look at Alito,he cannot keep a straight face.He is crooked and arrogant as John GottiThis is not a Republican versus Democrat thing anymore.We have a one party system with two heads. It does not matter who is president when that person places corporate heads in high government positions.Obama is as guilty as his past two predecessors in this regard.Everything that has been labeled as “too big to fail” is a glaring example of corruption.Banks are not required to report their failed holdings and are allowed to fabricate their own figures.Watch now as in the near future their profits will soar.I have this week been informed by my own bank that it is further reducing the interest rate on savings from 0.45% to0.25%.
            All the signs are there to show that the machinations to consolidate all wealth into the hands of the few and control the people by reducing their collective and individual power,are in gear.This is not fear mongering.It is real.Scream bloody murder to your elected officials.If they fail to respond you will know what action to take.Prepare yourself in all ways possible for the “possibility” that our system of voting may fail to the extent that the people are entirely disenfranchised.
            Keep yourself informed and do not rely entirely on network news.To get a better picture of things than I can provide you may want to research Gerald Celente.Build a good circle of friends,you may need them.

        • Lovefacts

          I agree with everything you said. I’ve been warning people that the US is turning Fascist. They snigger and act like I don’t know what I’m talking about. That is, until I define Fascism via the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Then their expressions change to dawning horror.

          However, on the upside of SCOTUS’s ruling re businesses being people is with that ruling the corporate veil has been, if not shattered, pierced. Prior to the ruling, a the executives/decision-makers were not subject to lawsuits, only the business or corporation was. However, IMO, individual executives are now exposed and can now sue in addition to the corporation for their decisions and actions taken or not taken. This includes foreclosures and, in the case of GM, those who decided against recalling the defective part.

          • Mark Forsyth

            I too have been pounding away at the fascist threat for several years.At first I encountered indifference,but slowly as people have witnessed everything that has been going on over the years,their minds are changing to an extent that they are having “AHA” moments of clarity.I understand what you’re saying about lifting the corporate veil and how the ruling allows for corporate execs to be sued.However,I wonder how many people will actually become aware of that nuance outside of having to use it.And although the ruling makes that allowance,I can’t quite shake the feeling that it is akin to burning down the hen house in order to save the chickens.Without a doubt,C.U. and McCutcheon are further steps towards fascism that most likely would render that seemingly beneficial allowance moot.

          • dpaano

            And, how would the average American come up with the money to sue these people when they have the Corporation’s millions and the Corporation’s attorneys to back them. It seems we wouldn’t have a chance in hell to win any of these cases.

          • Mark Forsyth

            Exactly! And you can bet that the bastards have that figured out too.Set my ass on fire if I’m wrong but I say the sons of bitches are bound and determined to give the entire show away.If they succeed,then corporations won’t merely run the government,they will “BE” the government.They are well on their way when you consider how many former corporate heads hold high office.

          • DurdyDawg

            Then first, get rid of the lawyers (☺). The lawyers are what created every vile policy you’ve endured, or at least they advised and edited. Get rid of the lawyers and the rest will fall on the way side like dominos. These people.. These politicians are criminals, not brainiacs.. Gut out their mouth piece and they can no longer manipulate without the ‘brains’ to guide them through the loop holes of the legalities they turn into law.

  • Grannysmovin

    Government of the Kochs, by the Kochs and for the Kochs..

  • Jim Myers

    There was a time when “One Person, One Vote” was considered as to be representative of a democracy.

    Then we found out that “Corporations Are People.” So, “One Person, One Vote” became a quaint memory.

    Now, we found out that “Dollars Are People.”

    And, democracy faded out of existence.

    • Mark Forsyth

      Keep the faith Jim.We aint dead yet.

      • Jim Myers


        I only hope you are correct.

        • Mark Forsyth

          Here in New York State we have a Republican Senator Patti Ritchie who in her correspondence to me informed me that she opposes public financed elections.She is well schooled in Republican tactics,using the fear factor in her arguments against it by citing the possibility of a reduction of funds that communities rely on for schools,foodbanks,and other public services etc.
          The author of this article is absolutely correct when he says that the people need to wake up.Corporate government has been making war on the people for a long time and regard the people as enemies.We must act accordingly.

          • ChezGA

            Fear factor? Sounds like reality to me. Where do you think the money would come from? Corporations won’t be taxed more to cover the increased cost. It will come from those the government believes are least able to fight back. Remember that those who would try to take our freedoms as US citizens come from all political parties–not just the one(s) you don’t like. IMHO part of the ploy is to keep us fighting each other so we don’t notice how they play us.

          • Mark Forsyth

            Obviously you have not bothered to read my other comments.If you had,you would know that I’m well aware that the problem crosses party lines.You would further know,if you have paid attention to gop tactics and statements for the past thirty years,that propaganda,fear,and division are their favorite tools.They are taken straight from the old Nazi fascist playbook and the gop uses them because not only is the current crop not invested in logic and reason,they do not have a solid and practical solution to our economic problems and most likely never will.That’s because they are not focused on fixing anything but rather focused on the continuation of the processes that funnel more and more money into the hands of those who are already rich and powerful,while they work to destroy every program that has been put in place to help the people.
            You have nothing to tell me.Don’t waste my time with bull shit.You don’t know me,much less are you aware of the level at which I am informed.

  • elw

    Mr. Pitt is correct, if you do not believe him, just read the report put together by the Sunlight Foundation (leak below). We spend so much time hating the other side that we do not realize that the biggest threat to the Constitution is not from that person running for office but the person who funded him or her. It is a diversion that is working to blind us from the true threat we are facing. We must get the money out of politics.

    • Mark Forsyth

      It is a proven tactic of fascism to exploit and cultivate every fissure of disunity and every crack in the common front against fascism.Thier propaganda is designed to distract from the real problem which is them.We all must use our vote as constructively and as often as we can until it no longer works.The trick is to support the candidates who have not already been corrupted even if that means dragging a dependably moral person out of the crowd and placing them on the stump.

      • elw

        I agree, that and getting people out to vote. This is no time accept disinterest from voters.

      • DurdyDawg

        You know, I was really confused and angry that at the end of WWll the allies blamed all German civilians for the atrocities of their leader, actually taking them by arm and walking them all (man, woman and child) through the death camps and destruction as a punishment and as we witnessed or later viewed it on our cable channels we slightly nodded in agreement.. Now we the people are walking in those same shoes.. Most Americans know what’s going on in our political system (which I’m sure most Germans did as well) we know the potential road it’s taking yet just as the German people we ignore and even shake our heads in agreement and the ones who really know get harassed by the very people sworn to protect our (these) freedoms (where in fascist Germany they were simply exterminated).. So, in the end when (if) plutocracy takes full control and someone else saves our lives by ending it, how will they look upon us? Some still alive and breathing lived through all this, others have seen it on film.. We all know what happened then, we must find a way to fight back so that we won’t be escorted within the ruins of what we ourselves could have prevented. Every free thinker needs to get out and vote corruption from our government.. we do vote but ignore the realization that only a presidential vote will not end corruption (as witnessed by the Obama administration) it’s the branches of the tree that keeps the base healthy (or rots it from within).. We need to vote in ALL elections and prune the branches from this underlying disease. Sure, we’re sometimes too busy trying to maintain a living but the pubs don’t have this pressure so they have or take the time to vote in city, county and state elections as well as all g’ment elections and for that reason alone you should also take the time because if you don’t, what ever we win presidential wise, we lose by allowing the majority of one party to vote in scum that will deter our accomplishment. I can’t say this firm enough.. Get out and vote on every election else continue to endure this political tug of war that only benefits the few who keeps it alive. This year (election) we have a chance to express our disdain toward corrupt politicians (be they pub or dem) by not watching the media but evaluating the accomplishments and failures that are on record of those who are running for office. Don’t accept the “lesser of two evils” ..

        • Mark Forsyth

          I feel no sympathy for the German people you mention who were forced to view the insides of the labor camps.I’ve no doubt that there were folks who did not have fascist tendencies,who were scared and perhaps coerced to behave a certain way just to survive.But to be certain,there were indeed German civilians in the same towns as the death camps,who were either complicit or willfully ignorant of the proceedings.The Allies did not make a gross mass roundup of German civilians and force them into the camps to view the Nazi handiwork nor was the entire German population blamed for the horror.
          I do not agree with your take on the present attitude of American people any more than I agree with your assessment of post war German civilians.You have over simplified each scenario and made statements with no evidence.

          • DurdyDawg

            Yet someone has been convincing you that a large portion of America is nothing but liberal commie scum and you fall for it like fried ice cream.. When do you bring out the goose steppers? When do you ignore those who try to do what you’ve been told you should do to these ‘low life’s’..? It has been obvious since the 101st day into 2012 and so far you’ve either joined the hatred or ignored the haters.. Just like the Germans did during their ‘sleeper’ period.

  • Sand_Cat

    It IS the people in Congress. They’re not the only ones, but if they cared, they could pass a law tomorrow doing something about it (much as I’d hate to see it used by the GOP, I believe the Constitution gives Congress the right to decide what is and isn’t subject to review by the courts, so such laws wouldn’t be easily thrown out by our SCOTUS – SCUM OF THE US – either). They could also pass a Constitutional Amendment saying that corporations and other groups are NOT people and have NO RIGHTS WHATSOEVER other than those explicitly granted by Congress, and that money isn’t speech, and that private contributions to politician are bribery – which, as a matter of fact, they are – and anything else they wanted, and speedily pass it to the states for ratification. This is not to say that there aren’t some in Congress who would but are in the [tiny] minority who truly want these reforms, but DON’T EVER SAY THE PROBLEM ISN’T CONGRESS.

    • Mark Forsyth

      Good point Sandy.As you know,so many in our so-called two party system have been bought and paid for and so those who are truly in favor of reform are indeed a minority.I don’t know about you,but I’m planning on supporting every progressive and Independent candidate that I can.There are far too many in government now who are merely promoting the status quo and we really need to get busy getting rid of them.

  • dpaano

    Pretty sad but very true!! We no longer have any say in what goes on in our government. What’s really bad is that people are going to start realizing that and stop caring. Once they stop caring, they’ll stop voting because they think their vote doesn’t count. If elected officials aren’t paying attention to what their constituents want and are only paying attention to the wealthy who are contributing to their election, we, as Americans, lose our voice. This is what the GOP and SCOTUS want to happen. They’ll do anything they can to stop us from voting…..even if it means denigrating our votes entirely.

    • Mark Forsyth

      There most definitely is a segment of the population that would give up and not vote but I doubt they would ever be a majority.Last time I checked there were 14 states supporting the call for an amendment to overturn C.U..A statement was made in the early days of WWII that the only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.I think that is still true today.Given the millions of American People who are already incensed by this insanity,I would wager that nothing is not what’s going to happen.

  • wjca

    If Mr Perkins thinks “Only taxpayers should have the right to vote and the rich should have more votes,” perhaps he should consider running those two ideas together and see how that feels. That is, you don’t get more votes for having more money. You get more votes for paying more taxes. that is, you can influence the way the government works — just not to your personal benefit (i.e. lower taxes for the rich). How does that shoe fit, sir?

  • joe schmo

    Wake up people…. It’s coming….Quoted from Conservative Site response to Harry Reid’s takeover of the Bundy Ranch near Las Vegas, NV….all to put in a Solar Plant… There are plenty of other areas in the desert to put this thing. Millions of acres….

    When America FULLY REJECTS the LEFTIST republican/democrat (same thing)
    MAMMOTH, LAWLESS “leadership,” begins to support THIRD PARTY COMPETITION
    and State nullification… ONLY THEN will Constitutional restoration

    “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” – Thomas Jefferson