Friday :: Feb 18, 2005

Who's Paying The Piper?

by pessimist

You all remember the old adage of the source of power in the world, the one that goes "He Who Has The Gold Makes The Rules"? In today's game of global power politics, money talks and everyone walks - everyone human, that is. There is something very strange going on in the world of campaign financing, and the import of what conclusions I can draw are disconcerting. Let's start at the beginning:

Political Puzzler: Bush Gets Fewer Repeat Donors
The Bush campaign has used barbeques as its favored 'donor maintenance' events. Maybe that's not sufficient anymore.”

Politicians stand in awe of President Bush's ability to extract dollars from donors: $94.5 million in the 1999-2000 cycle, $274.2 million in 2003-04. In both campaigns, he raised expectations to levels no previous candidate had dared, and then beat them.

Now comes another number that seems to shatter the conventional wisdom. Political scientist Michael Malbin finds that just 30 percent of Mr. Bush's donors for 2000 came back and gave again for 2004.

That's right: Among the donors who put George W. Bush in the White House, seven out of 10 decided not to help him stay there.

Seven out of ten no longer support King George with voluntary contributions? So just who is paying the bills of the Republican National Committee?

More than just counterintuitive, this fact is roughly the inverse of what rules of thumb and past studies would suggest. Republicans might have expected to have had a virtual key to the bank accounts of old donors: an incumbent president, immensely popular within the party, rallying the nation in wartime while delivering on tax cuts, judicial nominations and other promises vital to the party's base.

This should indicate that party supporters would be increasing their contributions, not withholding them. What gives?

If this seems like a mystery, the man who crunched the numbers would agree. Michael Malbin runs a small think tank called the Campaign Finance Institute, affiliated with George Washington University. He's one of academia's leading experts on campaign finance. For this project, he compared the 2000-cycle and 2004-cycle lists of donors giving more than $200 to each presidential candidate. He and his grad students checked for misspelled names and other data-entry problems. Malbin's assessment so far: "I still don't quite understand what I think I am seeing."

Neither do his colleagues in the small world of campaign finance scholars. "I watched him do it," says Clyde Wilcox, a political scientist at Georgetown University who has studied the motives of political giving. Some of Wilcox's grad students even worked on the project. "He did a really careful job," Wilcox says.

These researchers may welll have done a 'really careful job' in looking at the data they chose. But like an explorer who sets out in the wrong direction initially, they don't know where they are, much less where they are going. Let's look at a few things that just might point out where things are and where they are going - and why the money from recognizable sources is drying up:

Wishing for more Jeffords

As the Washington political scene becomes ever more governed by bulldog enforcement of partisan doctrine, I appreciate more and more [Vermont Senator James] Jeffords' principled stand for democracy four years ago this spring. A seven-term Republican congressman before becoming a Republican senator from Vermont, Jeffords took a look around in the spring of 2001. Given what he called "the president's veer to the right, and the poisoning of our democratic process of government," Jeffords changed parties, becoming an Independent but declaring his intention to vote with the Democrats.

Two years after his change of party, Jeffords told the National Press Club why he remained glad of his decision. "Pundits asked after last November's election: Will the president over-reach with his Republican majorities in the House and Senate? Well, President Bush hasn't just over-reached, he has set a new standard for extreme partisan politics that on many occasions has been supported by the Republican-controlled Congress."

Extreme politics are again taking over Washington, with Republican leaders again pushing for slavish adherence to the party line. There are explicit threats to members who break ranks. Tom DeLay, the House majority leader whose ethics violations have prompted repeated rebukes by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee, engineered the replacement of that committee's Republican chairman by someone more sympathetic to him. Two new Ethics Committee members contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund in the past several months.

The clear message to Republicans is that the wise course is to bow to power, not to integrity.

But some Republicans are dissatisfied with the Bush agenda on issues ranging from Social Security to the dangerously growing budget deficit. Perhaps it's only a fantasy, but as I watch honest debate and legitimate questions get squeezed by partisan bullies, I wonder if there are any other Republican members of Congress who squirm at the destructive policies being forced down their throats and value democratic principles above party.

It's too soon to see whether Republican promises of retribution will result in Jeffords' ouster. Even if he is forced out in 2006 by his former party's power tactics, history will remember Jeffords for his political courage.

Vermonters From Both Parties Back Jeffords

Sen. James Jeffords may be a man without a party, but he has plenty of high-powered friends. Facing his first re-election bid since leaving the Republican Party, the Vermont independent on Wednesday got an endorsement from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and a boost from Republican Gov. James Douglas, who said he will not campaign against Jeffords because he "has served the state well." Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and newly elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also has endorsed Jeffords.

Leahy said he will do everything he can to ensure his re-election next year. "Jim has shown the kind of independence you expect in Vermont," said Leahy, adding, "I look as this as a Vermonter, not as a Republican or Democrat."

Douglas said that although he will support any "qualified Republican" who runs for Jeffords' seat, he will not "actively campaign" against the senator. "I will support my ticket but Jim's a great friend and has served the state well and I'm not going to work against him," the governor said.

Jeffords, whose first 26 years in Washington were as a Republican, infuriated GOP leaders four years ago when he became an independent, saying the party had become too conservative for him. The move gave Democrats control of the Senate until the 2002 election.

James Barnett, the state Republican chairman, said Wednesday that Douglas' declaration will not deter the party from challenging Jeffords. "We will field a strong candidate and will wage an aggressive campaign," Barnett said. "I think the governor has a long-standing friendship and I understand that he is not going to be out there pounding away at Senator Jeffords."

Senator Jeffords is a symbol of what might just be going on. I've written several times about those I named True Conservatives, and in my opinion Jeffords rates as one of these. These people do see the damage to the nation being done by Bu$hCo in their quest to rule the world through the use of 'shock and awe' militarist terrorism, and they see no reason to support such actions. The sad part is, they don't see fit to oppose these actions very often, either.

I'm not so sure why this is just yet, but suffice it to say for now that the actions of King George and Bu$hCo have inspired reflection, and this is visible in the reduction of support for King George.

But there are certainly other avenues for opposition by True Conservatives to the Royal Edicts. The following story is a classic example of political slant, with the lead buried deep inside the story. Despite this glorification of Utah Republicans as rebels standing up against that mean Federal Bully King George Bu$h and his 'No Child Left Edjimicated' Act, there are some useful nuggets contained within it:

Utah GOP Lawmakers Rebel Against Bush Law

For the second consecutive year, Utah's conservative Republican legislators are rebelling against President Bush's education centerpiece, angry over what they see as an unfunded federal mandate.

The Utah House passed a bill directing education officials to give priority to state education goals over the No Child Left Behind Act, and to spend as little state money as possible to comply with the federal program. The bill was handed to the Senate on Wednesday. The legislation and a companion resolution represent the sharpest denunciation among 35 states taking up measures on No Child mandates, said the sponsor, Republican Rep. Margaret Dayton. Dayton said she doubted the legislation would lead to federal sanctions against Utah or the loss of any of the $107 million the state receives in federal education aid.

Last year when Utah threatened to opt out of the No Child program, White House and education officials put on a full-court press at the Utah Capitol, lobbying to salvage support for the law and warning the state it could lose federal funding. But legislators say they expect no such visits this year, and Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch extended an invitation to the new education secretary, Margaret Spellings, who was sworn in Jan. 31.

The Senate put a stop to Dayton's legislation to take Utah out of the No Child program last year. Senate President John Valentine, a Republican, couldn't say Wednesday whether the latest bill would gain the support of his chamber, but he said he accepted the word of federal officials who promised to defer to Utah on some education goals.

Now that the Utah Republicans are finished grandstanding about what a fine job they are doing protecting the educational prospects of the children of Utah, we come to the real story - which gets short shrift, sadly:

Opposition to the No Child program has united Democrats and Republicans, the teachers' union, the Utah School Boards Association and the conservative Eagle Forum. "We believe the federal government, contributing only about 7 percent of our budget, should not control 100 percent of what we're doing in Utah," said state Superintendent Patti Harrington.

Utah takes exception to many mandates detailed in the more than 2,000 pages of federal legislation and regulation. One, for example, requires states to compare the academic achievement of third-graders in each school with the results of last year's third-graders. Utah officials see more merit in measuring the progress of the same set of students as they advance from second to third grade.

I mentioned some useful nuggets in that story. Let's look at them.

Last year when Utah was bucking Bu$hCo directives, they were subjected to a high-pressure campaign to keep them in line through the threat of the loss of federal education funds. This year, no such pressure campaign is immanent. No fear here! What changed? Could it be that Utahans are united in their effort to oppose Bu$hCo despite their persoanl differences? There just might be an important lesson here - Bu$hCo is a paper tiger that can't stand up to concerted and united opposition from across the political spectrum. Thus, divide and conquer is their only successful tactic.

This brings us to the point of my post: if people are withholding their money from the Republican Party, and for some of the reasons I've illustrated above, then how do we explain this (from the first linked article):

But consider the flip side: The data also indicate that the universe of political givers may be much bigger than anyone thought. That would explain how, even after losing more donors than most candidates ever enlist, Mr. Bush could raise nearly three times more money in 2004 than he did in 2000.

So where is this money coming from?

One possible source is international corporations seeking favor from the Son King through the use of campaign contributions. We know that the bulk of the coronation expenses were such donations, so this isn't such a stretch to imagine.

Another possible source would be the Carlyle Group. While their records are mostly secret, what public information exists indicates that the current world scene is making them a whole lot of money. There is no doubt that there are many ties to the Republican Party within the known membership of Carlyle, so I consider this another possible source of Bu$hCo revenue.

Another possible source - again with proven historical precedent - would be the diversion of funds from legitimate programs for black ops. While I hardly suggest that the military or the CIA are the source of such funds, the creative accounting practices they pioneered in such actions could easily be adapted for use by other entities with the proper connects. For instance, just how much of the money allegedly being paid to Halliburton is really going to them? Could it be possible that they are just the cover operation for the siphoning of funds for political purposes that can't easily be traced?

There are other possibilities, but the main thing to remember is that the peace and freedom of the world is being subverted regardless of who is really behind this. Watergate's Deep Throat is again in the news lately, and his advice to Woodward and Bernstein is still very pertinent. Follow The Money. This 'New World Order' trumpeted loudly by the Son King's father isn't represented openly by the individuals or corporations who are benefitting handsomely from the actions of the hijacked American national military against the rest of the world, but benefit they do. They will make themselves known by their actions in spending all of this looted pelf, for what purpose is it if it isn't used in some way? Can they really be so disciplined that they aren't going to explode in an orgy of flaunting their wealth in some extravigant manner? If you doubt this, go back and review the coronation photos and tell me that extravagant excess wasn't the rule of the day.

By their actions we will know them.

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pessimist :: 7:57 AM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!