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08.15 RIDE FOR THE OVERRIDE

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09.24 Talking with Strangers: A Journey to the Heart of the Right

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09.24 How to reduce the risks of carmageddon

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09.24 Earth Could Reach Critical Climate Threshold in Decade, Scientists Warn [we'll all die if denial idiocracy prevails]

09.23 Soil carbon storage not the climate change fix it was thought, research finds

09.23 The New, New Climate Math: 17 Years to Get Off Fossil Fuels, Or Else

09.23 Tribes Across North America Unite in 'Wall of Opposition' to Alberta Tar Sands

09.23 Air Pollution Is Linked to a Diabetes Marker

09.23 Ratifiying the Paris agreement will be a major step but must be the first of many

09.23 Farming on the edge: the Indian salt producers coping with 48C heat

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09.23 Burger King and KFC called out for lagging behind on antibiotic-free meat

09.21 Drugmaker raises price of acne cream to $10,000 a tube [Only in America, land of opportunity...]

09.21 The devastating insulin scandal big pharma is hiding from you [Only in America, land of opportunity...]

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09.21 UN agrees to fight 'the biggest threat to modern medicine': antibiotic resistance

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09.22 What Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton aren’t talking about: Policy discussion is missing from the campaign

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09.24 Channeling Sanders, Clinton Proposes Whopping Billionaire Estate Tax [worldwide normalization of taxes—with full visibility of income and wealth for fairest taxation—must be achieved. Automation is capable of eliminating 45% of jobs NOW, and it will happen rapidly to realize profits.]

09.24 Thousands of Verizon customers are battling data over-limit fees: Money Matters

09.24 HILLARY CLINTON: DEAD-ON COMIC, DULL POLITICIAN

09.22 IACP developed a 10 question survey on pressing criminal justice issues for the 2016 U.S. presidential nominees

09.22 Lies and Lapses on the US Campaign Trail

09.22 Mike Pence, a heartbeat away from the presidency? Now that’s frightening

09.22 Bernie Sanders: The ‘Nation’ Interview

09.22 Whom Should We Blame for Our Deranged Democracy?

09.22 Make the Public Health Insurance Option Central to the 2016 Campaign

09.22 Trump's Giant Conflict of Interest Just Got Bigger

09.22 Meet the Horde of Neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and Other Extremist Leaders Endorsing Donald Trump

09.22 Clinton hasn't won over millennials. And no, sexism isn't to blame

09.22 The Trump Foundation: what's known is shocking. We need to know more

09.21 Campaign Was Not Radical, Says Sanders, Just 'What Most Americans' Want

09.21 Top Six US Problems worse than Terrorism

09.21 Millennials Arrested at Paul Ryan's Office Denouncing GOP's Politics of Hate

09.21 Calling Syrian refugees like me Skittles would be funny if it weren't so cruel

09.21 Trump's plan to seize Iraq's oil: 'It's not stealing, we're reimbursing ourselves' [giggle giggle]

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09.21 SEC Probe Called Possible 'Moment of Reckoning' for Exxon's Climate Crimes

09.21 Warren Skewers Wells Fargo CEO for Greed and 'Gutless Leadership' [8:57 C-Span video]

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09.22 Stopping the War on Children

09.21 Russian planes dropped bombs that destroyed UN aid convoy, US officials say

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09.23 Carney backs green finance to cut emissions and boost growth

09.23 Helicopter money is back in the air

09.23 Wells Fargo's toxic culture reveals big banks' eight deadly sins

09.21 The Coming European Debt Wars

09.21 TTIP 2.0? New Leak Exposes Threats of Lesser-Known TISA Trade Deal

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09.24 Syria bombings leave 1.75 million without running water in Aleppo [videos]

09.24 Larry Sanders, Bernie's Brother, to Fight for David Cameron's MP Seat

09.24 THE COMING CRISIS IN MOSUL

09.23 Eugene V. Debs and the Urgent Need for a New Anti-War Movement

09.23 A Single Migration From Africa Populated the World, Studies Find [we're all distant cousins]

09.23 Obama Puts Syria at Arm’s Length as Carnage Drags On

09.23 The Best News You Don’t Know

09.22 "Indifferent to Yemen's Misery," Senate Approves Massive Saudi Arms Deal [Cardin and Mikulski voted “Yea”]

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  Print view: Dollar Dreams from 'Dollar Bill' Bradley
BOOK REVIEW:

Dollar Dreams from 'Dollar Bill' Bradley

by Gerald E. Scorse
Bradley’s book, We Can All Do Better, has an early chapter, "Uprooting the Root of All Evil," that examines the corruption of politics by checkbooks.

Dollars deliver messages in a new book by “Dollar Bill” Bradley, and the former Rhodes scholar, NBA star, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate has no doubt where the dollars should and shouldn’t be going. They should be pouring FDR-style into job creation, and they shouldn’t be donated to politicians, especially dollars from corporations.

Bradley’s book, We Can All Do Better, has an early chapter, "Uprooting the Root of All Evil," that examines the corruption of politics by checkbooks. “At the core of the Washington culture is money,” the chapter begins. “It burdens politicians with the need to raise it. And when they’ve raised it, it compromises them.”

Bradley writes that he spent $1.68 million running for the Senate in 1978. In 2000, running for the same New Jersey seat, Jon Corzine spent more than $62 million, “most of it his own." While Bradley is scalding about Citizens United, he says the Supreme Court’s wrong-headedness on political donations actually took root in Buckley vs. Valeo in 1976. In that decision “the Court said that the money spent by an individual on his or her own political campaign was political speech, protected under the free-speech clause of the Constitution, and therefore could not be limited. This opened the floodgates for rich people [e.g., Corzine] to finance their own efforts.”

It defies common sense, Bradley says. “In Buckley, the Supreme Court said in effect that it was just fine that the candidate with little money only has a megaphone while the candidate with a lot of money has a microphone.” This laid the groundwork for the corporations-are-people Citizens United ruling, under which “the Supreme Court has approved unlimited contributions by super PACs than can steal elections through widely broadcast lies.”

The black-robed Supreme Court may be clueless and tone-deaf, but ordinary white collar and blue collar workers can easily connect the dots. As Bradley puts it, “There is something fundamentally wrong when a lobbyist—whether representing business or labor—comes to a legislator’s office to plead his client’s case and then four hours later appears at the legislator’s fund-raiser in a nearby restaurant with a $10,000 check. The link between money and policy must be broken.”

What needs to be established (re-established, really) is the link between government spending and job creation: “When it comes to proposed federal action to create jobs, every dollar spent in the current environment of declining confidence in government should go to the establishment of a specific job; people have to see the connection between their tax dollars and job creation....When a government’s credibility has been damaged for whatever reason, it cannot shrink from boldness. It must act in a big way to generate more jobs with a short-term, mid-term and long-term strategy.”

Bradley lays out ideas for all three periods, and he draws on his own childhood to invoke the direct federal job creation that took place under FDR:

“What most people remember about President Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression are the Works Progress Administration, the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, which created jobs for Americans in building schools, parks, roads, dams, bridges. In the small town in Missouri where I grew up, the high school was a PWA project built in 1939. Today, over seventy years later, it stands as a testimony to far-sighted government leadership. We need new public investment in public goods that will last another seventy years....The New America Foundation study estimates that a $1.2 trillion investment in much-needed infrastructure over a five-year period would generate 5.52 million jobs in each year of the program. There is no other stimulus that could create so many jobs and leave behind a seventy-year foundation for economic growth. Given low interest rates, there will never be a cheaper time to float thirty-year reconstruction bonds. Government-subsidized personal consumption (i.e., tax cuts) in the current climate of debt de-leveraging cannot work; public investment that directly creates jobs can.”

Twenty-two state attorneys general, joined by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-OH), have lined up behind a Montana challenge to Citizens United.

Is there any hope for more stimulus spending? For campaign finance reform? It’s hard to imagine the former; as for the latter, it’s easy to imagine but another matter to pull off. Twenty-two state attorneys general, joined by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-OH), have lined up behind a Montana challenge to Citizens United. Bradley’s best-case solution would supersede Buckley and Citizens United with a constitutional amendment “stating that federal, state and local governments can limit the total amount of spending in a political campaign....If that were combined with public financing for whatever amount was permitted by the campaign finance laws, we would have returned government to the people.”

Right now, though, we’re nowhere near returning government to the people; right now we’re heading into the most expensive presidential campaign in U.S. history, bent on handing over government to those with the most dollars.


Copyright 2012 Gerald E. Scorse. Op-eds by the author have appeared on numerous websites and in major newspapers.



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This story was published on June 7, 2012.

 

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