Saturday, January 14, 2012

I've Seen the Future

When asked the name of the Lion King, three year-old granddaughter Ireland replied without taking her eyes from the screen, "Dad".

Coming to a parking lot near you - Pizza tycoon and presidential wannabe Herman Cain must have realized that any call to take over the Department of Defense won't arrive for at least a year following the next inauguration, and so he has a different plan for the short term - riding a giant bus around the country reminding people of his "9-9-9" tax plan. Let's hope there's room on the vehicle for, ah, Mrs. C.

There was a big meeting this weekend of Christian bigshots this weekend. They are ready to do almost anything to avoid supporting Mitt Romney for president. The vote went to a Catholic, former PA Senator Rick Santorum. I don't know if this will pay off, but it can't be good news for Texas governor Rick Perry. I, for one, will miss statements from Perry such as "Every barrel of oil that comes from Canada is one we won't have to buy from a foreign country."

We got around to seeing the Planet of the Apes movie. I guess you know you're having a bad day when a 600 lb. gorilla is heaving manhole covers directly at you.

Now to this week's subject. You may recall a SCOTUS decision of a year or two ago referred to as the "Citizens United" decision. It's been described in this space before, but the practical applications of this decision are proving to be breathtaking in this election campaign.
What just happened in Iowa is a good example. Big money donors are still restricted to $2000 or so toward the actual campaign, BUT the same donors can make unlimited donations to "Super Fund" operations that just happen to favor a certain candidate. The Romney campaign spent a little over $1 million getting Iowans to line up for Mitt on caucus night, but the Romney-associated super fund spent upwards of $3 million on negative ads - all aimed at Newt Gingrich.
This normally might have finished off Newt for good, but then Newt's own fund picked up $5 million of so from another sugar daddy, and so he's still around, spreading the gift of Newtism to South Carolina.
Donors to these funds may not have to identify themselves at all, and corporations are using their newfound "personhood". I strongly doubt that they'll ever be called on by shareholders to come clean in some future annual meeting, either. The thing that is supposed to make all this possible is the assumed independence of the funds from the campaigns themselves.
But the "independence" may be more legal than real. John Huntsman's fund, for instance, depends on big donations from Utah's richest man, a guy named John Huntsman Sr., the candidate's father! His company looked over the GOP field, and settled on Jr. And the two never consult on how dad's riches are to be spent.
Yes, the future has arrived in the form of a pinstriped suit bearing money AND the subtle understanding that it does not come without strings. Those without this backing are doomed to continue as history's also-rans. I find myself siding with the bumper sticker that states "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."


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