Dark Money...

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent the White House an "open letter" laying out a proposed roadmap to economic recovery, coinciding with the organization's "Jobs Summit" underway in Washington. The Chamber plans to spend more than $50 million electing Republicans to Congress in 2010 and here are the highlights of their recovery plan. Cut taxes on the wealthy and business, cut or reduce social security, privatize roads, drill offshore, and log national forests. Although the Chamber loves to point out that more than 96 percent of its member companies are small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, in 2008 about a third of its total revenues came from just 19 companies, according to a Washington Monthly profile of its CEO Thomas Donahue. As journalist Michael Winship notes, "approximately 8 out of every 10 dollars the Chamber gives in political donations go to GOP candidates," and one of the main jobs the Chamber plays is to destroy legislation big business doesn't like without those companies having their fingerprints all over the hit job. As Chamber CEO Donahue told Washington Monthly, "I gie them all the deniability they need." Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in its Citizens United case that the Chamber is a human with full Constitutional rights including the free speech right to both influence laws and even lie in political advertising, they are quickly becoming the biggest of the big players on Capitol Hill, eclipsing even the "dark money" fund that Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie are putting together for the similar purpose of destroying Democratic politicians with carpet-bombing TV advertising campaigns.


Marion Delgado's picture
Marion Delgado 13 years 49 weeks ago

Every step of the way, I remember that Salon's Glenn Greenwald joined Jonathan Turley in endorsing Citizens United. Moreover, Greenwald went much further. He sneered at his readers, whose comments were nearly 100% negative on his article. He said they disagreed with even the dissenting votes, which he interpreted as accepting both the personhood of corporations and the speech quality of spending money. He then added that it was not important if money was corrupting or even destroying electoral democracy - because he was, unlike his readers, a "First Amendment absolutist." However, he hypocritically does not endorse rolling back the various laws against campaigning within 100 feet of a polling place on Election Day. Those laws clearly limit all forms of speech - talking, pamphleting, you name it - and they're exclusively to protect the integrity of elections. But they're harder to obfuscate about.

Greenwald also said the Citzens United case would probably not have much effect on elections - that Salon's readers were hysterical about that, in addition to that being a moot issue, since elections are not a right, but spending on them is.

To sum up: his facts were wrong. His prediction was wrong. His argument was dishonest and hypocritical. And people still suck up to him (as they do to Turley). It's not just the Supreme Court we have issues with.

Jeanie's picture
Jeanie 13 years 49 weeks ago

Why are small businesses even a part of the Chamber of Commerce? Why don't they get a clue and not support an organization that puts the wants of the largest companies over their own good? They're like regular people who support the GOP even though the GOP only supports the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

Jeanie's picture
Jeanie 13 years 49 weeks ago

School Boards absolutely do respond to parents' concern. The main problem they have is that most people DO NOT ATTEND THEM. They DO NOT ATTEND PTO meetings. They DO NOT PARTICIPATE in school events. It's usually the same group of moms who do things and volunteer. Everyone else just complains like this guy Scott.

He may have had a negative situation and a not so great teacher or a teacher with a philosophy of "no homework" (as some have), but that does not mean that public schools are in complete disarray. Pathetic funding (esp. in Arizona), lack of parental involvement, and things like No Child Left Behind are real issues that cannot be ignored.

scandi's picture
scandi 13 years 49 weeks ago

Somehow I have ended up receiving the Friends of the US Chamber email newsletter. I haven't opted out yet because it's been interesting to see what they are up to. This week I was invited to become a member for $50 and receive a free copy of Laura Ingraham's new book, "The Obama Diaries". Some quotes from the newsletter: "...there are still a few voices protecting the free enterprise system and individual initiative that make America great. Every day renowned radio talk show host Laura Ingraham showcases and advocates for common-sense solutions that will bring economic freedom and prosperity back to America. Though it's hard to be heard above the shouts for more spending and bigger government, Laura is a consistent voice for solutions that will get America back to work without bankrupting it". Sure, you betcha.

Jeanie's picture
Jeanie 13 years 49 weeks ago

I never knew just how right wing the Chamber of Commerce was. This myth that conservatives have all the answers when it comes to economics and business falls flat when you look at just what these people stand for and how business leaders operate. Sending jobs overseas saves money for the company, but at what price to the employees who then lose their jobs and their communities that lose that revenue? Fighting against regulations of any kind may save corporations money in the short term, but when humans die because of avoidable and inexpensive (and common sense) actions, who does that really benefit?

And in the case of BP, look how much a pound of prevention would have saved them, both in their reputation and financial future. And yet Laura Ingraham is touted as a business guru. (FYI, I Googled and saw that Laura Ingraham defended Joe Barton and Michelle Bachman about Obama's "overreach" and on being too "aggressive against the free market" by being a meanie to BP by making them set a fraction of their fortune aside for aid to those they destroyed. Even Bill O'Reilly has called her a a "blind ideologue".)



sodisenchanted's picture
sodisenchanted 13 years 49 weeks ago

If you don't have a small business it's hard to understand the pressure the Chamber and the NFIB put on you to join. As soon as you open a new business they come by with their plaques to put in the window and over the cash register and if you say you don't want to join they are "astonished, just horrified". They drone on and on about the benefits like linking your website to theirs which connects you to the entire world and how they have worked for literally hundreds of years fighting for businesses just like yours agianst the giant machine in Washington...

Finally, if you don't have a clear understanding of what they REALLY do, you write a $50.00 check or whatever it is now, just to get rid of them. Dues were $10.00 per year when I started my first business.

nora's picture
nora 13 years 49 weeks ago

Burqua notes:

:: The ethnic costume/coverings of the desert peoples were created for practical reasons -- they provide portable shade and privacy and prevent dehydration.

:: That garments (or lack of them) are given symbolic meaning apart from their practical uses is something that is not permanent but subject to change. To criminalize a garment is to lock it into one symbolic meaning.

:: Pure equality of peoples includes their freedom of expression via their choice of garments -- with or without symbolism.

Jeanie's picture
Jeanie 13 years 49 weeks ago

Can the KKK change their organization into a religious one? Then they can refuse to have photo IDs and say that their religious freedom is being violated if they are forced to not wear their hoods in public.

If they are arrested, can they also refuse to take their burka off for the picture taken of them by the police?

Religious freedom is important, but there are laws that also exist that need to be followed for the good and safety of everyone.

nora's picture
nora 13 years 49 weeks ago

More burqua thoughts:

:: The desert peoples have excelled in artistic creation of textiles and the use of them in garments. To criminalize a garment like the burqua for religious and political reasons is an authoritarian (even imperialistic?) repression of ethnic and artistic expression.

:: Is the future the place where the Ruling Class wears suits and the wage slaves wear t-shirts? The world that lets the Corporate sector alone decide what we can wear is a drab and uncreative world.

:: Terrorism is NOT going to be stopped by banning the burqua. Terrorism has been with us a long time; it is a law enforcement issue, NOT an issue about dress and ethnicity. To criminalize dress is as goofy and draconian as any of the other removals of freedoms of speech and privacy in the name of SECURITY!

:: It would be a much more interesting world if we could be cosmopolitan and allow everyone to dress as they please ethnically and practically. That's diversity. But this rush to SAMENESS is anti-diversity and therefore anti-creativity and anti-expressiveness. We see it in the use of plastic surgery -- used to cut people up and make people look as much like something standardized as possible. Strange and unnecessary practice that says alot about this unhealthy desire to REDUCE differences amongst humans and REDUCE human variety.

:: I think nothing was more BIZARRE and obscene than making the Polynesians wear western costume. How is this any different?

:: All males calling in to comment on this? The usual patriarchal control? Let women wear what they want to wear. Let all people express themselves via their clothing choices.

nora's picture
nora 13 years 49 weeks ago

More and more people are coming down with auto-immune disease and lupus and cannot tolerate sun exposure.

Will banning the burqua and such coverings make it impossible for these folks to protect themselves from the sun and fluorescent lights?

Sort of strange criminalizing clothing. Where will it stop?

BaltoJim 13 years 49 weeks ago

In most cases, my opinions lean towards not restricting personal freedoms, so my first instinct would be to be in favor of permitting the wearing of the full burqua in public. However, the more I think about it, I favor a ban on the wearing of the burqua in public. I do so after giving thought to the anti-establishment clause in the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. The way I see it, if the federal government allows the wearing of a garment that hides the identity of a person only for those who are followers of a specific religion (actually a portion of a religion, in this case) and bans it for everyone else, then it is showing favor to the followers of that one religion over followers of all other religions and/or those who have no religious affiliation. For that reason, I favor a ban on the wearing of burquas in public due to public safety concerns. Otherwise, individuals could hide their identity by wearing a burqua while perpetrating any number of crimes against others. Also, it would make it easier for someone who wants to encourage public hatred towards Muslims to simply put on a burqua and commit a terrorist act.

BaltoJim 13 years 49 weeks ago

The difference regarding the burqua as opposed to other clothing is that is hides a person's face, making it very difficult to identify the person not only if they have committed a crime, but also if they have been a victim or a witness to a crime. This is not the case when someone wears a suit or t-shirt (I'm not very familiar with polynesian clothing or costumes, but if an article of the clothing hides a person's face, I would support a ban on the wearing of it in public, also.). Exceptions could be made for someone who is participating in a public religious ceremony or rite, while they are actively participating in it.

Of course the ban would not eliminate terrorism from the face of the Earth. However, permitting the wearing of the burqua in public COULD certainly aid someone in getting away after they have committed a terrorist attack.

Regarding the fact that males called in to comment on the subject, I did not hear a single caller discuss what a woman should or should not wear based on the fact that they are a woman. It surprises me that, apparently, you are either unaware or OK with a woman being forced to wear a burqua by her husband, which is more often than not the case.

nora's picture
nora 13 years 49 weeks ago

The religious argument is an extraneous argument about the burqua, imo. The freedom of personal expression is the real issue, imo.

Afterall, the government is saying that the government does not approve of what the burqua REPRESENTS. It doesn't matter that it represents different things to different people. The government is claiming that it is a dangerous choice to cover oneself in that way for WHATEVER purpose/reason/choice, not just that religious choice.

Banning the burqua is about banning the garment for whatever choice the wearer wears it. The burqua is not being banned just as governmental religious discrimination, although that is part of the mix, religion is not the only reason. Security is in there too.

Look -- back in the 1960s the U.S. criminalized the use of the U.S. flag's stars and stripes from being used in making clothing or being used symbolicly (burning, etc.). That was done to remove the symbolic power from the acts done by demonstrators/protestors. The government saw that symbolic power as a security threat and wanted to criminalize those actions accordingly. (Our flags are to propogandistic patriotism what religious symbols are to authoritarian religions.)

Freedom of speech won out.

Freedom of speech/expression (religious or otherwise) should win again.

If freedom of speech were put FOREMOST, the government could then take the position that a woman's freedom of speech was guaranteed, and if she did NOT want to wear a burqua and if she was being forced to wear it, then the government could back her up and FREE her by law from the coercion to wear such a garment when she didn't want to. But no. It is not about freeing women at all. This is about the government taking away a freedom (to dress as one chooses) in the name of security.

Free the burqua!

stonesphear's picture
stonesphear 13 years 49 weeks ago

There appears to be a USA that is in the process of being splattered against a wall of lies of it's own creation , and a USA that has been anticipating that event for quite some time. Celebrate. Tough times now and tough times ahead perhaps but the trail through it all is quite scenic to say the least.

jrc007's picture
jrc007 13 years 49 weeks ago

Why is it that when businesses "unionize" and call themselves the Chamber of Commerce it's All-American, good business and terrific - but when a group of underpaid, exploited CITIZENS unionize it's commie-socialist-subversive?

mstaggerlee's picture
mstaggerlee 13 years 49 weeks ago

@Jeanie, re:#5 - Not only are the Chamber's policies (and those of most large corporations in general) dangerously short-sighted with respect to their workforce, I have little doubt that in the long run, they will also prove self-destructive. Nobody in business today seems to be able to see beyond the end of the current quarter. As these mega-businesses strive to cut costs by minimizing their labor expenses (i. e., outsourcing jobs to nations where labor is cheap and wages are unregulated) they impoverish their customer base.

The reason that these fools took the actions they did over the past several years of finding ways to artificially inflate the credit markets in the US was to maintain the ability of our HUGE consumer market to spend willy-nilly. How many 3D-TVs can a family where mom & dad are BOTH out of work afford? ZERO! As the American consumer market loses the ability to purchase on a whim, these companies are going to see the markets they used to sell into collapse, and their own bottom lines will plummet!

It's really pretty simple - NO economy can survive if the only supports are applied to the supply side. Demand needs a bit of help now and again, too!

mstaggerlee's picture
mstaggerlee 13 years 49 weeks ago

Re: the Burqua flap -

Here's what I wanna know - is there an exception to this new French no-face-coverings law to exempt Halloween costumes? Or are they gonna start arresting trick-or-treaters? :-D

sdougreid's picture
sdougreid 13 years 48 weeks ago

The GOP plan for America

Ever since Ronald Reagan lowered taxes for the wealthy and the corporations the tax burden has been shifted to the middle class. Republican anti-union efforts have also driven down wages. With declining revenues, they now claim that we can no longer afford Social Security and unemployment benefits. These are among our most important government programs as they benefit the vast majority of our citizens. With our trillion dollar annual military spending, this is their best idea for balancing the budget?

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