Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 3, 2011 1 Tamuz, 5771

Stephen Colbert, Karl Rove and the mockery of campaign finance

By Dana Milbank




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The comedian Stephen Colbert flew down to Washington this week to parody the nation’s campaign finance laws. But there was a flaw in his plan: The campaign finance system already is a parody.

Standing on a platform outside the Federal Election Commission, Colbert boasted about how he had won the FEC’s blessing to create a “SuperPAC” to raise unlimited funds. “I do have one federal election law joke if you’d like to hear it,” the new head of Colbert SuperPAC offered.

“Knock knock,” Colbert said.

“Who’s there?” responded the crowd of about 200.

“Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions.”

“Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions who?”

“That’s the thing,” Colbert said. “I don’t think I should have to tell you.”

Pretty good, as anonymous-donor jokes go. The PAC man returned to his stump speech. “I do not accept limits on my free speech,” he said. “But I do accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Fifty dollars or less, please, because then I don’t have to keep a record of who gave it to me.”

Fifty bucks? Come on, Stephen: That’s petty cash.

Colbert set out to prove how flimsy campaign finance limits have become since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, and the SuperPAC he created is egregious enough, allowing contributions of any size. But what he proposes to do isn’t nearly as abusive as what’s already going on. While Colbert’s PAC has to release the names of people who give him more than $200, the campaign finance vehicles preferred by Karl Rove allow individuals to give millions of dollars to elect candidates without the donors’ names becoming public.

The structure of Colbert SuperPAC is so limited that, campaign finance experts said, there was no need for him to seek permission from the FEC. And that’s the trouble: The real campaign finance abuses are more horrible than Colbert’s fiction.

The Supreme Court, in five straight campaign finance decisions, has largely wiped out post-Watergate campaign reforms and, in the case of corporate contributions, undone nearly a century of law. Adding to the anarchy, Congress has been unable to agree on legislation requiring donors’ disclosure. For those who violate what’s left of the law, there is little risk of punishment because the FEC, paralyzed by a partisan split, has been unable to agree on much enforcement.

“It has long been said that the FEC is designed to fail, and now it has,” says longtime campaign finance lawyer Brett Kappel.

The result of all this, Kappel said, is that “a very small number of extremely wealthy people can have an extraordinary effect on elections without being identified.”

Of the $5 billion or so expected to be spent on the 2012 federal elections, nearly $1 billion is likely to be of the unlimited “independent expenditure” type. The corporate cash tends to come from a small number of private businesses owned by extreme liberals or conservatives looking to elect like-minded candidates. This fuels the polarization that has brought Washington to a halt.

Colbert posed as if he were testing the limits of the law. He offered to give the FEC commissioners back rubs and, on his Comedy Central show, likened them to Abercrombie & Fitch models. He came up with slogans suggestive of a fat-cat scam, such as: “Change is coming and I hope a lot of large bills, too,” and “It’s BYOB, Bring Your Own Billions.”

But when he sat at the FEC witness table, Colbert spoke no more than a sentence before the commissioners gave him their blessing (the one controversial element of his plan, involving Comedy Central parent Viacom’s role, was resolved the night before). The one dissenting commissioner wanted to give Colbert even more latitude to operate secretly.

Down on E Street, Colbert, escorted by officers from the Federal Protective Service, walked around with an iPad equipped with a credit-card reader. “Anybody else got a credit card?” he asked as he swiped. “Let’s charge it. You don’t mind if I sign for you, right? I’ll take the cash while I’m waiting. Oh, foreign money! Thank you very much.”

As a “Colbert Report” producer barked orders to her cameraman (“Gonzo, wide shot!”), Colbert remarked that Rove, who works for Fox News while guiding the American Crossroads SuperPAC, should thank him for undermining the campaign finance system. “I just made it perfectly above-board legal to talk about your SuperPAC on air and to use your corporate show to promote your SuperPAC in any way,” he said.

Alas, when it comes to making a mockery of campaign finance law, American Crossroads is way ahead of Colbert Nation.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on Dana Milbank's column by clicking here.


Previously:



07/01/11 President Puts Up His Dukes, As He Ought To
06/28/11 Rod Blagojevich verdict: All shook up
06/27/11 Progressives voice their anger at Obama
06/24/11 ‘Mission accomplished,’ Obama style
06/22/11 Jon Huntsman's first step toward oblivion
06/21/11 Scott Walker finds making bumper stickers is easier than creating jobs
06/20/11 A day of awkwardness with Mitt Romney
06/06/11 Hubris and humility: Sarah Palin and Robert Gates on tour
06/02/11 The Weiner roast
06/01/11 Congress clocks in to clock out
05/30/11 Hermanator II: No More Mr. Gadfly
05/24/11 How Obama has empowered Netanyahu
05/24/11 Pawlenty bends his truth-telling
05/20/11 Default deniers say it's all a hoax
05/18/11: Gingrich gives voice to moderation
05/17/11: Donald Trump and the House of Horrors
05/16/11: The medical mystery of Mitt Romney
05/12/11: The body impolitic: Schock photos should tempt lawmakers to cover up
05/10/11: Muskets in hand, tea party blasts House Republicans
05/09/11: The GOP debate: America -- and the party -- needs the grown-ups
05/05/11: Mitch Daniels, an alternative to scary
05/03/11: Obama's victory lap
05/02/11: How the journalist prom got out of control
04/28/11: Obama's birther day: Why did he lower himself by appearing in the briefing room?
04/27/11: Obama, lost in thought
04/24/11: Andrew Breitbart and the rifts on the right
04/22/11: Ten Commandments for 2012
04/21/11: Obama likes Facebook. Facebook likes Obama.
04/18/11: Without Nancy Pelosi, Obama is adrift
04/15/11: If progressives ran the world
04/14/11: Faith in political apostasy
04/13/11: One man's revolution is another's political expediency
04/11/11: Shutdown theatrics
04/06/11: Paul Ryan's irresponsible budget
04/05/11: Robots in Congress? Yes, we replicant!
04/04/11: Robert Gibbs, Facebook and the White House corporate placement service
04/01/11: Haley Barbour, the fat cats' candidate
03/31/11: Republican freshmen in House shut down compromise, and possibly the government
03/30/11: Coburn and Durbin, the dynamic duo of the debt crisis
03/28/11: The Obama doctrine: A gray area the size of Libya
03/24/11: Dems as Weiners
03/23/11: Obama's quick trip from tyrant to weakling
03/17/11: Who's afraid of Elizabeth Warren?
03/15/11: The underwear flap over Bradley Manning
03/10/11: In Senate's debt debate, talk isn't cheap
03/09/11: With Obama's new Gitmo policy, Administration officials had some 'splainin to do
03/02/11: Issa press aide scandal is like bad reality TV
02/25/11: Jay Carney: Mouthpiece for an inscrutable White House
02/14/11: The Donald trumps the pols at CPAC
02/09/11: Arianna Huffington's ideological transformation


© 2011, Washington Post Writers Group