salon.com — Last week, while the national press corps was busy pretending the tiny Iowa caucus was the only news in America, a major ruling out of Montana paved the way for a likely U.S. Supreme Court showdown over the role of corporate money in politics. In the case, which was spearheaded by the state’s Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock, Montana’s top court restored Big Sky country’s century-old law banning corporations from directly spending on political candidates or committees. Legal experts believe that upon appeal, this case will come before the nation’s highest court. While there, it could serve as the first test of the precedents in the infamous Citizens United decision that essentially allows unfettered corporate spending in campaigns. It’s interesting because while this case is rooted in Montana, I think that it does have implications for politics throughout the country.
dailykos.com — The real story is not about Mitt Romney and the various fortunes of the Not Romneys. The real story is not about Rick Santorum emerging as the Not Romney of the moment at the most propitious moment. The real story is not about Newt Gingrich possibly preparing to get mean and nasty as if he ever was anything else, or Ron Paul continuing to dupe the willingly duped, or Rick Perry searching in vain for coherence, or Michele Bachmann withdrawing and thus proving that pretty much anyone is capable of at least one moment of clarity. The real story has nothing to do with the candidates or the horse race or the schadenfreude that attends observing the Republican freak show or the volatility of the polls. The real story is that there's a story. In January. Ten-and-a-half months before the general election. The real story is the absurdity of a system that is so broken we don't even pay attention to how broken it is.
robertreich.org — Mitt Romney was then and still is the candidate of big money. In the last weeks before the just-completed Iowa caucuses, Romney spent over $3 million relentlessly torpedoing Newt Gingrich with negative ads — cutting Gingrich’s support by half and hurtling him from first place to fourth. But Romney kept his fingerprints off the torpedo. Technically the money didn’t even come from his campaign. It came from a Super PAC called “Restore Our Future,” which can sop up unlimited amounts from a few hugely wealthy donors without even disclosing their names. “Restore Our Future” is to Mitt Romney’s campaign as the dark side of the moon is to the moon. And it reveals the grotesque result of the Supreme Court’s decision a year ago in Citizen United vs the Federal Election Commission, which reversed more than a century of efforts to curb the influence of big money on politics.
slate.com — On the rare occasions when the world talks to you in stereo, it’s a good idea to set aside your knitting and listen. This week, Americans got their first good look at what super PACs — political organizations that can receive unlimited corporate contributions and make unlimited expenditures for federal candidates — have wrought in Iowa. At the same time, the Montana Supreme Court issued a stunning opinion last Friday, upholding the state’s law limiting corporate election spending. Think of the two as a sort of woofer and tweeter for life in a post-Citizens United world.
commondreams.org — Pity poor Newt Gingrich. Alright, I admit it’s hard to muster much pity for Gingrich. Still, he now stands as not the first, but the most recent, prominent victim of the Supreme Court’s abysmal decision in Citizens United v. FEC. So if you don’t have any sympathy for Gingrich, at least feel profound worry about the state of our democracy — and make sure you do something about it. There are many reasons to believe a Newt Gingrich candidacy was and is inevitably doomed. But it’s nonetheless the case that his downfall in the Republican Iowa caucuses is due in significant part to a full-scale, Citizens United-enabled attack advertising campaign.
robertreich.org — The defining political issue of 2012 won’t be the government’s size. It will be who government is for. Americans have never much liked government. After all, the nation was conceived in a revolution against government. But the surge of cynicism now engulfing America isn’t about government’s size. The cynicism comes from a growing perception that government isn’t working for average people. It’s for big business, Wall Street, and the very rich instead. In a recent Pew Foundation poll, 77 percent of respondents said too much power is in the hands of a few rich people and corporations. That’s understandable. “Big government” isn’t the problem. The problem is big money is taking over government.
alternet.org — Rarely have so few imposed such damage on so many. When five conservative members of the Supreme Court handed for-profit corporations the right to secretly flood political campaigns with tidal waves of cash on the eve of an election, they moved America closer to outright plutocracy, where political power derived from wealth is devoted to the protection of wealth. America has a long record of conflict with corporations. Wealth acquired under capitalism is in and of itself no enemy to democracy, but wealth armed with political power — power to choke off opportunities for others to rise, power to subvert public purposes and deny public needs — is a proven danger to the “general welfare” proclaimed in the Preamble to the Constitution as one of the justifications for America’s existence.
slate.com — Richard Cordray was the safe choice to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Ohio Democrat didn’t clash with bankers over TARP oversight, like Elizabeth Warren had. She, as Republican ad-makers are now telling Massachusetts voters, is a Harvard professor who loves Occupy Wall Street. Cordray is a five-time Jeopardy! champion and a former state attorney general. Easy sell. So Cordray went through the nomination junket. Democrats put him up for a vote. Shortly after 10:30 a.m. today, he was filibustered by all but one Republican. President Obama, who’s watched a number of nominations fall before Mitch McConnell’s buzzsaw, tromped down to the White House briefing room to share his outrage. Republicans blocked Cordray because, having lost the fight over whether the CFPB should exist, they want to prevent it from functioning. Filibuster is a fine, accurate word for this, but a better word might be nullification. And this GOP attempt at nullification will probably work.
huffingtonpost.com — Yesterday I introduced a resolution calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A similar resolution has been offered in the house by Rep. Ted Deutsch of Florida. I do not do this lightly nor have I ever done this before. The U.S. constitution is an extraordinary document which has served our country well for over 200 years. In my view, it should not be amended often. In light of the Supreme Court's disastrous 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case, however, I see no alternative but a constitutional amendment.
slate.com — What OWS has accomplished — its organizational and ideological deficits notwithstanding — brings to mind the famous Margaret Mead quotation: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” That small group — and we should not forget how few were actually involved in OWS — has altered American political debate in a few short months. But two urgent questions remain: How will the president turn his newfound devotion to progressive era principles into actions? And what will OWS do next? Here’s one idea. If OWS wants a government where the will of the majority will not be blocked by a powerful but small minority, demanding that Democratic leaders seek fundamental filibuster reform might be a great place to start.