Tuesday, March 3, 2009


A GOOD RAP ON THE SNOUT SHOULD DO IT: Our over the top tirade in defense of Larry Geller against a personal attack by Ian Lind- apparently because Ian thought Larry “personally attacked” someone- was met by an ”ouch” from Ian today, saying

Whew. I’ve got pretty thick skin, but that was pretty harsh.

We just wanted to show what a personal attack really is and obtusely question the prevalent practice of personally attacking humorous ridicule by calling it a personal attack.

Actually our attitude is that using the English language to its full descriptive potential is not a personal attack and the only sin in poking- or even stabbing- fun is if it’s not funny... even if an especially unconventional sense of humor is required to find it such..

Larry’s sin was presumably a chart showing money bags as check marks for those legislators who support more corporate money in politics and smiley faces on those who would kill the measures in HB 539

And yesterday, after excoriating House Judiciary Chair Jon Riki Karamtsu, the poster child for corporate cash and the author of the now dead, HB 539, for holding an apparent corporate fundraiser- in session, downtown (not in his blue-collar district), and for $150 a pop- Geller warns us that though HB 539 was killed on the floor of the house, some reps aren’t giving up on opening the spigot further instead of banning corporate contributions by inserting the meat of HB 539 in HB 215..

But this morning Lind continued to defend corporate cash still deriding those who would try to take advantage of the fact that the legislature is at present dealing with a flawed law that is currently in the courts. Depending on how you look at it, the law either limits corporate money to $1000 a corporation or takes the caps off entirely.

Lind describes the legal situation quite well but first he says:

To be honest, I don’t think I qualify as a reactionary corporate stooge for trying to deal with some of the complexities of the campaign law and for pointing out where the public debate has gone off track. Nor do I apologize for taking the position that an assessment of risks and rewards should be a natural part of political strategizing.

What is clear is that how people view the proposed “limits” on corporate campaign contributions that were part of HB 539 depends a great deal on how you understand the status quo.

In describing the “status quo” Lind only expounds on the judicial case and the Campaign Spending Commission ruling that caused the circuit court to put the kibosh on the commission’s interpretation until a higher court decides.

But the core of his contention is an argument of misdirection. The court case might be the only “status” that counts if the legislature made the ambiguous law and was refusing to do anything about it.

The real “status quo” is that the people who made the law are at this very moment trying to deal with any “flaw” in the current law and in dong so are deciding the future of corporate money in Hawai`i politics.

And whatever they decide during this session it’s highly unlikely to be changed again any time soon

The broad view shows that as we write some are trying to flood the system with a massive moolah infusion from special interests instead of serving the public interest and just banning it completely, as 22 other states have done.

Does it really matter what the law currently says when the actual status quo is that the legislature is in the process of changing it? And if they are changing it should we sit still for legitimizing what, as Geller points out, is the virtual lifting of all limits by allowing unlimited numbers of $25,000 chunks to go to any number of political action committees as HB 539 would have done?

We and Geller- and dare we say just about anyone not greasing or getting greased under the current system- think that even one corporate dollar to one corporate PAC is one dollar and one PAC too many. But Lind says any limit- apparently even if it’s a fake one- is better than none at all and for some reason he thinks that that precludes any attempt to fully ban corporate money because he seems to think we won’t ever get a ban.

Well, you certainly won’t if you don’t demand or even ask for one.

Even in the name of the political expediency Lind cites, supporting a certain amount of corporate cash instead of a ban makes no sense. You don’t start bargaining over the amount an armed mugger will take from you by offering him five dollars when he wants it all.

It reminds us of the old joke that ends with the punch line “we’ve established what kind of girl you are, now we’re just haggling over price”.

Corporate cash in elections- and corporate influence in general- is actually the result of a uniquely American concept that is cited by many as the root of the dysfunction of not just the US campaign finance system but that of democratic capitalism in general

Its called corporate personhood and can be traced back to a somewhat bizarre ruling - and some say corruptly-divined misinterpretation of the constitution- by the US Supreme Court in 1886 called , Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad.whereby corporations were given the same full consttional rights as actual people whereas previously corporate rights were limited to those of “articifical persons”.

Check out the wilipedia entry linked above if you want to know what’s at the core of the corporate takeover of the country.

But in the absence of an unlikey reversal of the decisions (actually the infamous “Buckley v Vallejo” is based on it in part) or some sort of legislation or constitutional amendment one thing we can do is to eliminate the legalized bribery that is pervelnet in 28 states including Hawai`i.

As we tried to point out in our origianal piece if you start with a “we’re defeated already so we’d better get behind something that sucks” .attitude you may well be a “reactionary corporate stooge”- although we would never stoop to that kind of name calling since reactionary is much too strong to be accurate

No matter what the current law says you can help put a cork in corporate infuence by sending an email to reps@capitol.hawaii.gov telling them to stop the madness and chuck any bill, including HB 215, that doesn’t ban corporate cash in elections into the same trash can onto which they threw HB 539.

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