A "10%" plan to get big money out of politics

As has been noted, our Democratic Party often resembles a coalition of disparate groups, each working alone on its individual agenda and strategies.  Whether they represent unions, environmentalists or whatever, even when their initiatives enjoy broad popular support, each group too often loses the battle to get legislators to vote for their bills FOR THE EXACT SAME REASON.  Our Democratic and Republican members of Congress are pressured by a deeply flawed and unfair system to reject what is popular and in the best interest of the Country in favor of what will ensure their re-election; namely raising enough campaign funds and avoiding becoming the target of rich and powerful special interests.

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Citizens United v. FEC has made the above named problem a thousand times worse.  

Doug Kendall, writing for Huffington Post, succinctly describes the danger this legislation poses;

To see the significance of this, consider that in his historic run to the presidency, Barack Obama broke every political fundraising record, raising nearly $750 million from more than a million contributors in 2007 and 2008. This sounds impressive until you consider that during 2008 alone, ExxonMobil Corporation generated profits of $45 billion. With a diversion of even 2 percent of these profits to the political process, Exxon could have far outspent the Obama campaign and fundamentally changed the dynamic of the 2008 election, perhaps even the result.

But by so strongly and treasonously siding with corporations at the expense of individual Americans on who gets to govern our democracy, that Supreme Court ruling has forced our hand in addressing a "money in politics" problem that we should have attacked long ago. According to this article in The Hill, our Democratic Congress will work to pass legislation that overturns Citizens United v. FEC by July 4th, so that major corporations cannot commandeer our upcoming election this fall.

A powerful result of the 2008 global recession is that both Progressive and Conservative voters are now enraged with the rich banks and other corporations whose greed, selfishness, and recklessness have cost so many so much. This rare dynamic provides us the VERY RARE opportunity to go BEYOND nullifying Citizens United v. FEC, and ultimately pass much stronger campaign finance and lobbying reform.

But our Democratic interest groups can only take advantage of this huge opportunity if they are smart enough to agree to work together on this goal. Each group should agree to devote at least ten percent of their time and resources to fighting the battle to get big money out of politics. To fight climate change, or for a more fair economy, or for better health care, without also fighting campaign finance and lobbying laws is a recipe for failure. In other words, we can continue fighting, and mostly losing, a thousand individual battles, or we can come together to wage full-scale war to get big money out of politics, and begin to win those individual battles much more easily and at far less cost.

Democratic groups must band together to wage full-scale war to pass campaign finance and lobbying reform now when this very rare opportunity has opened. Our Democratic groups can no longer afford to go it along, fighting and losing battle after battle because our members of Congress are, by necessity, more beholden to the interests who pay for, or can prevent, their re-election than by the American public.

This diary is a call for organized, intelligent action by our Democratic groups. The time has never been more ripe for doing this, and the window of opportunity will not last forever. Let’s seize the day on, and come together to ensure that when Congress acts next month to reverse Citizens United v. FEC, the campaign will serve as a platform for getting our Democratic groups and the voting public aware of how important campaign finance and lobbying reform is to passing strong and effective popular legislation regardless of what that legislation is. We need to jump on the upcoming battle to nullify Citizens United v. FEC, and then swiftly move on to enacting stronger legislation as if all of the other issues we fight for depend on it. In a very real sense, they do.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

The Opportunity to Change

The U.S. Supreme Court decided yesterday that sentencing young people to life in prison without the possibility of parole for nonhomicide crimes violates the Constitution’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment provision. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, upholds basic constitutional principles of opportunity, rehabilitation, and the capacity of young people to grow and change over time.

“A State is not required to guarantee eventual freedom to a juvenile offender convicted of a nonhomicide crime,” the Court said. “What the State must do, however, is give defendants … some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”

Requiring the possibility of parole for youth in nonhomicide crimes is the right decision under the Constitution, and the right outcome for our country. It is no guarantee of release in any particular case, but, rather, a guarantee that our criminal justice systems must provide for careful review to determine whether, years later, young offenders continue to pose a threat to the community.

The decision also recognizes that young people’s brains and emotions are still developing. They must be held accountable for crimes they commit, while acknowledging their greater capacity for change.

The states should respond to this decision not only by abolishing the sentence of life without possibility of parole for young people—which they must do under yesterday’s decision—but also by improving their rehabilitation programs for all people in prison. Better preparing incarcerated people to reenter and participate productively in society is a smart response to the Court’s decision, and is in our national interest.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

The Opportunity to Change

The U.S. Supreme Court decided yesterday that sentencing young people to life in prison without the possibility of parole for nonhomicide crimes violates the Constitution’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment provision. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, upholds basic constitutional principles of opportunity, rehabilitation, and the capacity of young people to grow and change over time.

“A State is not required to guarantee eventual freedom to a juvenile offender convicted of a nonhomicide crime,” the Court said. “What the State must do, however, is give defendants … some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”

Requiring the possibility of parole for youth in nonhomicide crimes is the right decision under the Constitution, and the right outcome for our country. It is no guarantee of release in any particular case, but, rather, a guarantee that our criminal justice systems must provide for careful review to determine whether, years later, young offenders continue to pose a threat to the community.

The decision also recognizes that young people’s brains and emotions are still developing. They must be held accountable for crimes they commit, while acknowledging their greater capacity for change.

The states should respond to this decision not only by abolishing the sentence of life without possibility of parole for young people—which they must do under yesterday’s decision—but also by improving their rehabilitation programs for all people in prison. Better preparing incarcerated people to reenter and participate productively in society is a smart response to the Court’s decision, and is in our national interest.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

The Opportunity to Change

The U.S. Supreme Court decided yesterday that sentencing young people to life in prison without the possibility of parole for nonhomicide crimes violates the Constitution’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment provision. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, upholds basic constitutional principles of opportunity, rehabilitation, and the capacity of young people to grow and change over time.

“A State is not required to guarantee eventual freedom to a juvenile offender convicted of a nonhomicide crime,” the Court said. “What the State must do, however, is give defendants … some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”

Requiring the possibility of parole for youth in nonhomicide crimes is the right decision under the Constitution, and the right outcome for our country. It is no guarantee of release in any particular case, but, rather, a guarantee that our criminal justice systems must provide for careful review to determine whether, years later, young offenders continue to pose a threat to the community.

The decision also recognizes that young people’s brains and emotions are still developing. They must be held accountable for crimes they commit, while acknowledging their greater capacity for change.

The states should respond to this decision not only by abolishing the sentence of life without possibility of parole for young people—which they must do under yesterday’s decision—but also by improving their rehabilitation programs for all people in prison. Better preparing incarcerated people to reenter and participate productively in society is a smart response to the Court’s decision, and is in our national interest.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

Weekly Pulse: SCOTUS Nominee Kagan a Cipher on Choice

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

On Monday, President Barack Obama nominated solicitor general Elena Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Kagan’s nomination has raised eyebrows among progressives. Despite a long career in legal academia, Kagan has published very little. She seems to have studiously avoided taking a stand on almost any controversial issue. Ruth Conniff of the Progressive calls the Kagan pick “a triumph of the bland.”

“Partial Birth Abortion” ban

As a White House aide, Kagan wrote a memo urging President Bill Clinton to support a ban on so-called “partial birth abortion.” At the time, the House had passed a sweeping late-term abortion ban with no exceptions for the life and health of the mother. Clinton asked Kagan whether he should throw his support behind a more moderate Senate version of the same bill. She recommended a “compromise”—a ban with a maternal health exemption. In the end, Congress passed the extreme version and Clinton vetoed it.

Suzy Khimm of Mother Jones characterizes the memo as “more indicative of a political strategy than a legal argument.” In other words, Kagan was giving strategic advice to the president about what would be politically feasible, not legal advice about the government’s powers to regulate abortion. Kagan argued that the president should support the “compromise” position even though the Justice Department thought it was unconstitutional, according to Jodi Jacobson of RH Reality Check.

At TAPPED, Monica Potts argues that the memo gives us little indication of how Kagan would vote on abortion as a justice.

No Harriet Miers

There’s no question that Kagan is possessed of a formidable intellect. Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones quotes one of her former law school students, Elie Mystal, sharing his experience with Kagan on the blog Above the Law:

Like Frodo on Weathertop, there are some wounds that never fully heal. Professor Kagan massacred me intellectually, and brutalized my pride. I got some form of a B in her class (I honestly don’t remember if there was a modifier — I’ve tried to suppress those memories). Kagan was a frightening professor for those who wanted to match wits with the brightest legal minds in the world. For people like me, people who just wanted to get through law school with minimal mental damage, Kagan was nothing short of terrifying.

That’s the best news I’ve heard all day.

Kagan has never been a judge, but that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker in itself. As Steve Benen points out at the Washington Monthly, over a third of the 111 justices of the Supreme Court have had no previous judging experience.

A missed opportunity

Scott Lemieux argues in the American Prospect that Obama is wasting a rare political opportunity to confirm a more liberal justice. Right now, the Democrats still have a sizable, though not filibuster-proof, majority in the Senate. Lemieux argues that Obama is almost certain to get another Supreme Court pick before the end of his term. Then again, he points out, the Democrats are likely to lose Senate seats in the midterm elections.

If Obama were ever going to get a strong liberal on the bench, this would have been the time. No date has been set for a confirmation hearing. Kagan is in Washington today, courting lawmakers.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Diaries

Advertise Blogads