US politics/Jose

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Thu Dec 2 19:26:53 MST 1999

>>Lastly, I'm not quite sure what Jose means about the national committees
of the
Democrats and Republicans being bagmen engaged in extortion (Jose, you have
remember there are a lot of non-US based people on this list, who need to
have things
explained a bit more sometimes when US-based people are writing on US

Sorry, that does require a bit of explaining...

Back in the days of Theodore Roosevelt, the government banned political
contributions by corporations. A totally meaningless reform; the corporate
bosses simply take the money, pay it to themselves as salary, and then bribe
the politicians with it as individuals.

Around the time of Watergate, a limit was put in on the amount of these
contributions. When it went to the Supreme Court, these robed reactionaries
of the ruling rich said that was okay only in the sense it was voluntary.
The government included as apart of the campaign finance "reform" public
financing of major parties, and the Supreme Court said, okay, to get
government financing it was okay for the government to set contribution and
spending limits; but not otherwise. People who chose to forego government
financing but an expanded field to do whatever they wanted.

As a result, contributions for "party building" as opposed to "candidate
electing" purposes became unregulated; this is the socalled soft money that
now abounds in American politics. They only thing you CAN'T do with it (in
theory) is buy an ad saying vote for Joe Schmoe. But you CAN buy Joe Schmoe,
because on election day you hire a thousand people and go door-to-door in
the honorable Schmoe's district and take people to vote. Of course, if
Schmoe is a firebrand Black radical Democrat, you focus all your efforts on
the ghetto. If Mr. Schmoe is a good, God-fearing born again Republican
Christian you head out to the most reactionary burbs you can find.

As a result, the politicians through the Democritan and Republicrat national
structures have been shaking down corporations. Being a "good corporate
citizen" now means donating a million each to each side in the general
elections. And there are also all sorts of lesser non-election-campaign
committees, foundations and so on shaking the corporate money tree. So much
so that Time Warner recently got fed up and announced they would no longer
give any money at all to any of these things, and instead took a few million
dollars to increase election coverage by Time, CNN, and several Time-Warner
local cable news channels, like New York One. Presumably these were the
funds they had budgeted as payoffs, I mean contributions, to various and
sundry non-political political committees.

Not that Time Warner has a more "moral" corporate leadership than the rest,
but now that it owns CNN it was particularly vulnerable to charges that it
has a specific political agenda that it is trying to push through this
network. Given CNN's international standing, and the fact that it makes most
of its money from international distribution, and you can see the pigsty
rules that apply to "domestic" networks might well get CNN in trouble

And of course when you control as much of the media as Time Warner does, as
a practical matter is gets pretty hard to take reprisals against you.
Because next thing you know you have teams of investigative reporters from
Time, Fortune, Money, CNN and New York One breathing down your neck. Not
that Time Warner execs would stoop so low as to order the harassment of
their political enemies like that vulgar interloper Murdoch. But they do
just happen to know where bodies are buried and skeletons rattle in closets.
An anonymous tip here, a suggestion there, and --voila-- instant scandal.

Maybe TW execs wouldn't do that, but how many American politicians are going
to have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to a company that can go after
you with books, magazines, movies, cartoons, news networks, soap operas and
even world championship wrestling? Not to mention several professional
sports teams.

So there's some of the details my first post lacked. I know it must sound to
people from civilized (by capitalist standards) countries that I'm making
all this up, but it's the truth.


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