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Archive for November 2009

Game over? Billionaire elites now blatantly rule American politics

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What drives a man or a woman to spend millions of dollars — even tens of millions — of his or her own money to get a job that would place the words senator, representative, governor, or mayor in front of his or her name? For most of us unwashed heathens, the multiple millions of their own money these financial elites spend on their political campaigns represent seemingly staggering amounts.

But viewed in the rarified context of the very wealthy, the amounts are petty cash.

For example, former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman has put $19 million so far into her campaign for governor of California — but that’s barely 1.5 percent of her $1.3 billion fortune.

Whitman has “publicly floated the notion of a record-shattering $150-million campaign budget” — but even if she financed $100 million of that herself, that still would only be 7.7 percent of her billion-dollar-plus wallet.

She wants to be governor of what used to be one of the 10 largest economies in the world. But she takes a back seat to newly re-elected New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in spending your own money to be somebody big. No one in American history has spent so much of his own money to win an election.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

November 30, 2009 at 11:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

FEC unwisely OKs return to cheap private jet travel by members of Congress

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Let’s say you’re Sen. John Dough. You’re running for re-election. You need money. Often, you have to travel to where the money is to get it. Say, in Los Angeles. So you fly. But you wish to avoid flying commercial. Too much time wasted. Too many hassles, mingling among the proletariat in lines and in the damn crowded plane.

Back in the good ol’ days, you’d merely text your old pal I.B. Loaded, CEO of Amalgamated Rules Bender Inc. Loaded’s given you tons of cash over the years for your campaigns. He, his wife and children, his employees, his vendors — all have seen the wisdom of slipping dough to you, your official campaign committee, and, of course, your “Leadership PAC.”

And, of course, Loaded would have his Gulfstream V (I mean, rather, his corporate-owned private jet) fly into Reagan National to pick you up (after, of course, a taxpayer-paid car and driver deposited you, your luggage, and golf clubs there). Loaded himself would be on the plane to entertain you and see to your every need. After you’d both consumed a few hits from Loaded’s stash of 40-year-old Glen Garioch, he’d probably steer the conversation into an arcane tax-policy issue that would likely benefit Amalgamated Rules Bender Inc. to the tune of millions of dollars.

You’d be the only passenger on a sophisticated jet costing $59 million with an hourly operating cost of about $7,000. Yet, before 2007, you’d only pay the cost of first-class airfare to LA — maybe a grand or less, depending on discounts. Then Congress shut the door to corporate-provided air travel by passing the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act.

And this week, those idiots at the Federal Election Commission reopened the door.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

November 20, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

It’s not Congress. It’s legalized corruption. Time to end it.

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Former Rep. William J. Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, is off to prison. In August, a jury told him that bribery, racketeering and money laundering were not acceptable behaviors for anyone, let alone a member of Congress.

As a felon, Jefferson has had equally despicable company: Rep. Andrew J. Hinshaw, R-Calif. (accepting a bribe); Rep. Charles Diggs Jr., D-Mich. (payroll kickback scheme); Rep. Michael Myers, D-Pa. (accepting bribes from FBI agents impersonating Arab businessmen); Reps. John Murphy, D-N.Y., Frank Thompson, D-N.J., John Jenrette, D-S.C., and Raymond Lederer, D-Pa. (Arab businessmen bribery scandal, a.k.a. Abscam).

And Rep. Mario Biaggi, D-N.Y. (extorting money from a defense contractor); Rep. Mel Reynolds, D-Ill. (sex with underage campaign worker, bank fraud); Rep. Walter Tucker III, D-Calif. (accepting and demanding bribes); Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill. (felony mail fraud); Rep. James A. Trafficant, D-Ohio (bribery, conspiracy and racketeering); Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (accepting bribes from defense contractors) and Robert W. Ney, R-Ohio (Abramoff scandal). I’m sure readers can name more.

The collective misfortune of these men is that they got caught. Each undoubtedly said to himself, “I am invincible. I am a member of Congress.” They all assumed membership in the biggest-of-all-members-only clubs provided a get-out-of-jail-free card. But the real reason they believed they could get away with accepting bribes and committing extortion is that members of Congress have been doing it legally for years.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

November 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Lou Dobbs’ next horizon: A Rush to radio?

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I have three stuffed animals at home that I hide when I expect visitors. (Guys don’t do stuffed animals.) But my fuzzy critters serve a purpose. Four years ago, I destroyed my living room TV set by throwing a beer bottle at it in anger and frustration. I had been watching Lou Dobbs.

So, for years, I have been throwing stuffed animals at Lou instead of beer bottles. But now I need throw them no more. Lou no longer haunts my 7 p.m. viewing. He quit his CNN program in a multi-syllabic huff this week. CNN’s venerable, respected chief national political correspondent, John King, will take over in January. I’m sure I won’t have to throw stuffed animals at Mr. King.

But I once considered Lou venerable and respected. He’s a Harvard grad, y’know, a self-touted intellectual giant in matters of finance and economics. That’s why I began watching him years ago. I learned from him things I did not know. But for the past few years, Lou has only taught me the face of intellectual arrogance, bigotry, and unexceptional reporting masquerading as “advocacy.”
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

November 13, 2009 at 11:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Gay marriage loses in Maine: the campaign finance scorecard

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On Nov. 3, 299,483 citizens of the state of Maine were persuaded to tell women who love women and men who love men that they cannot marry. Those Downeasters who voted “Yes” on Question 1 — to repeal a same-sex marriage law — bashed gays, but with a referendum rather than a fist.

Those 267,574 people who voted “no” — which would approve the same-sex marriage law — were not dissuaded by an anti-gay coalition of conservatives and churches wielding more than $3 million, including more than $2 million from out-of-state donors, according to a report by the National Institute On Money In State Politics.

Much of the sparring over the referendum was funded on both sides by groups outside the state of Maine. Given that gay marriage has been a wedge issue for years, that’s hardly surprising. But in Maine?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

November 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Newspaper circulation falls again: Expect more cuts

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If you were a newspaper subscriber last year, there’s a 10 percent chance you aren’t this year.

That’s because paid circulation of daily newspapers nationally fell more than 10 percent from a year ago. Some papers suffered truly horrendous daily circulation losses: the San Francisco Chronicle (down 25.8 percent), The Boston Globe (down 18.5 percent) and The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger (down 22.2 percent), reports Rick Edmonds on his Poynter Biz Blog. USA Today, hit by a slump in travel, fell nearly 18 percent. The circulation of 400 daily newspapers has fallen to only 30 million readers.

This hemoraghing of circulation — the worst ever — will have serious consequences. Expect newspaper staffs, already slashed below the minimum necessary to adequately cover their turf, to be cut further. Expect more shallow, one-source stories. Expect more stories laden with anonymous sources because the poorly paid, younger, inexperienced reporters left on staff won’t have the skill to persuade sources to speak on the record. Expect more wire-service content because local stories won’t get done. Expect corporate newspaper management to continue to stall on finding a business model that enhances the public-service mission of journalism. Expect more style than substance.

Just expect less of what good newspapers used to be. The nation’s newspapers, the constitutionally anointed watchdogs and adversaries of government, can no longer be considered as successful in those roles as they used to be.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

November 1, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized