Nailing Scalps To The Newsroom Wall

[ Posted Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 – 17:02 UTC ]

The CBS newsmagazine show 60 Minutes and the Washington Post may have just clinched a Pulitzer Prize, for their bombshell reporting on how some bought-and-paid-for congressmen did the bidding of Big Pharma for campaign cash and, as a direct result, made the opioid crisis in America worse by limiting the enforcement powers of the Drug Enforcement Agency. But, Pulitzer consideration aside, they've already won an even-more-impressive award: a politician's scalp, metaphorically nailed to the newsroom wall. The television show and the companion print articles appeared Sunday. Tuesday morning, the White House announced that former Representative Tom Marino had been withdrawn from consideration for the job of running the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy -- a job more commonly referred to as "the drug czar."

To state all of this in a slightly different fashion, journalists did a bang-up job of exposing what on the face of it appears to be not only blatant garden-variety corruption, but also a rather inhumane disregard for human lives at the expense of both corporate profits and campaign cash. It also highlighted how major corporate lobbyists can essentially write their own legislation, which will then be passed by a supine Congress without a single voice being raised against such self-serving legislation. That is what good journalism is supposed to do -- hold our elected officials responsible for their heretofore hidden actions.

Tom Marino was the first and most obvious target of this investigation, so it was satisfying to see him take the first fall. But there may be further ripple effects, as there is plenty of blame to spread around in this whole shameful episode. Why did nobody in Congress heed the voices at the D.E.A. who were raising big warning flags? Why did the Justice Department sit idly by and barely even weigh in? Why did President Obama sign the law (with no signing ceremony, signaling it wasn't something anyone was all that proud of)?

Those are all pretty general targets for shaming. There are still many Freedom Of Information Act requests left unfilled in connection to the story, so there may be further specific revelations about individuals. But other specific targets already exist. While Marino was the author of the law that stripped enforcement powers from the D.E.A., Representative Marsha Blackburn was also heavily involved with the push to pass it. Blackburn is currently running for a Senate seat from Tennessee, and her opponents have already started slamming her for her participation in the process. If she loses her race (either in the primaries or to a Democrat next year), then she will be the second political scalp this story will have reaped.

There are two others who have been caught up in the wake of this story, but neither one is probably at all that much risk politically. Senator Orrin Hatch was instrumental in getting the D.E.A. to stop complaining about the bill, but he's either going to retire next year or else he will be re-elected in a landslide in Utah. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill was caught in an apparent untruth in the aftermath of the story, but if she apologizes publicly and corrects the record she will likely not pay much price for the gaffe (McCaskill claimed she had been undergoing medical treatment at the time and thus "wasn't here" when the vote was taken, but records show she had returned to the Senate days before the vote and had already finished her medical absence).

So the story will likely only derail the political careers of Marino and (possibly) Blackburn. Still, that's a pretty impressive outcome for the excellent investigative journalism which produced the story. It may sound overly crass (or even racist, if you look to the origin of the phrase) to speak of "scalps nailed to the wall," but whatever metaphor you choose, journalism won big this week. A drug czar nominee and a wannabe senator aren't the biggest trophies ever won in journalism; that distinction still remains with the Washington Post, Woodward and Bernstein, Watergate, and Richard Nixon. But they're still pretty impressive.

Since we're indulging in being crass today, we'll finish up by going even lower. Because another interesting story popped up over the weekend as well, although it (so far) hasn't gotten much attention. Larry Flynt paid for a full-page ad in the Post, offering up to $10 million for any information which leads to the impeachment and removal from office of Donald Trump.

This is not exactly "investigative journalism," or at the very least it is a lot closer to how the British tabloids play the game. Offer to pay a lot of money for a story, and you may flush some sources out of the woodwork. Ten megabucks is enough for you to not care what happens to your career in the future, for many people in Washington. And Flynt has successfully used this methodology before.

Flynt, in fact, already has several political scalps hanging on his wall. During the impeachment and trial of Bill Clinton, Flynt issued an offer of up to a million dollars to anyone with any provable sexual dirt on any of the members of Congress who were being so sanctimonious about Clinton. This led to the production of The Flynt Report, which exposed several dirty secrets from the Republican side. The biggest fallout came from the revelation that Bob Livingston had had an affair. When The Flynt Report was published, Livingston was in line to become the next speaker of the House. He not only withdrew from consideration after Flynt's magazine appeared, he resigned from Congress as well.

There are two interesting footnotes to this story. They prove that even offering a million bucks per story wasn't enough to air all the Republican dirty laundry and hypocrisy. Livingston was replaced in his district by David Vitter, who went on to get caught in the "D.C. Madam" prostitution ring. Interestingly, it was Hustler magazine which initially recognized Vitter's number in the call lists for the D.C. Madam, meaning Larry Flynt broke this story, too.

The second footnote is even worse. Because with Livingston out of the picture, the compromise candidate for speaker soon emerged: Dennis Hastert. Hastert has since pled guilty to the charge of molesting young boys as a high school wrestling coach and paying hush money to one of the victims. So not even Larry Flynt's million-dollar offer snared everyone guilty of sexual sin. Both the man who replaced Livingston in the House and the man who won the speakership instead of him were eventually exposed as sexual hypocrites (and, in Hastert's case, a child molester).

Now, you can argue that what Flynt does isn't journalism at all, but more of a political hit job. I won't quibble over terms. In my opinion, both types of dirt-digging have been proven to be effective. I am glad that a shill for drug companies won't be overseeing the government's reaction to the opioid crisis, but I am also curious to see what Flynt comes up with. When you shake the tree in such a spectacular fashion, you never know what's going to fall to the ground, especially considering Trump's entire past. Flynt's ten-million-dollar offer may come up with things that never would see the light without such financial incentive. After all, even the best investigative journalists around can't compensate someone who comes forward at the risk of their entire career. Flynt can. Such tactics may even be more effective, in the end, than Bob Mueller's entire investigation. And even if Flynt isn't ultimately successful in coming up with an impeachable offense that removes Trump from office, who knows what will else will come to light as a result (even if it falls short of the impeachment goal)?

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


36 Comments on “Nailing Scalps To The Newsroom Wall”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    It was good news about Marino and I'll happily take anything Flynt can unearth.

  2. [2] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Re "(Or even racist, if you look to the origin of the phrase".)

    It is historical and undeniable fact that at least the plains tribes of Native Americans routinely took the scalps of their vanquished enemies (who were almost invariably also Native Americans, of rival tribes) as evidence of their courage and their victories in battle.

    Worrying that mention of that practice could constitute 'racism' simply represents an egregious level of hyper political correctness of the very sort that causes conservatives to ridicule liberals.

  3. [3] 
    Kick wrote:

    I may not always agree with something that a peaceably assembled group is saying/doing nor agree with everything a "rag" I don't like is reporting, but the events surrounding this "DEA debacle" are a perfect example as to why the rights of the people and of the press should never be infringed.

    I don't happen to care for Larry Flynt's magazines either, but I will defend his right to print them ALL... DAY... LONG.

    I don't think you can live as recklessly as Trump has for 30 years and not leave some baggage along the way... I can't think of something more patriotic to do than to try to get to get this moron out of office. ~ Larry Flynt

    I said it before, and I'll say it again: Not everyone with the ability to write a big check is necessarily inherently evil. Obviously, Larry Flynt is expecting some information that could remove Trump from office for writing a big check, but as long as he's not breaking the law, I don't see that as an entirely bad thing. I'd do the same if I were Larry, but then I'd never be Larry because... okay, I digress and I'll just leave that right there.

    He said the phones would be manned all day for the next 2 weeks and that he'd release any legitimate information right away. I think he should release the information to Robert Mueller and allow him to make that decision. Godspeed, Larry. :)

  4. [4] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    So this is what it is like to have reliable interwebs...

    While tonight's commentary is dedicated to Journalisim doing it's job....

    I must confess a small amount of surprise that you did not take the easy opportunity to point out that not only did a "Big Pharma" toady get taken out. The person removed also would have been in charge of aspects of the enforcement and recommendations for the enforcement of drug laws as they pertain to Marijuana.

    Given that "Big Pharma" not only bought congress to pass legislation harnful to the general populace, they have also been on the buying end of making sure Marijuana remains a schedule one substance that results in prison sentences of a longer duration than that of a Meth fiend with a gun who is a serial squatting pedophile.

    Given the history of "Big Pharma" pushing their chems over herbs. "Big Pharma"s involvement in not only making sure their drugs get priority and "legal" subsidies as well as being legal to advertise on public airwaves (which I happen to be against), as well as the "it's ok to be a legal addict but god forbid you use a plant" midset should be pointed out at every chance under this "administration".

    Failure to do so will only allow the Kebler "jail them all and make private prisons profitable" Elf to be victorious in his race to install his harmful vision of America...

    Just sayin... #MALTFA

    Making America Like The Fifty's Again ...

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Worrying that mention of that practice could constitute 'racism' simply represents an egregious level of hyper political correctness of the very sort that causes conservatives to ridicule liberals.

    That's an interesting perspective. How do you define political correctness?

  6. [6] 
    John M wrote:

    C. R. Stucki [2]

    "Worrying that mention of that practice could constitute 'racism' simply represents an egregious level of hyper political correctness of the very sort that causes conservatives to ridicule liberals."

    Again, not really. It actually is a very valid concern because of the stereotyping of Native Americans concerning the practice of scalping, and how it has been used against them to denigrate them and portray them as "savages" unlike the "civilized" white settlers.

    Even tough it is an historical and undeniable fact that Colonial American officials frequently and regularly offered cash bounties or rewards for every Native American scalp that was brought in, including even those of native American children. This practice was carried out by more than one successive American governor for over 100 years from the early 1600's to at least the mid 1700's from more than one colony, including those of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

    So the taint of deliberate genocide connected with it is a little more serious than just "hyper political correctness."

    Stop the knee jerk ridicule, and start really listening to what each other is saying. You might actually learn something.

  7. [7] 
    John M wrote:

    "Though" not "tough"

    What I am getting at, which is what drives liberals up a wall whenever conservatives trot out the it's "just political correctness" label is that it totally white washes, dismisses and ignores the legitimate grievances, wounds and injuries of the other side that were originally brought up and have not been addressed in any meaningful way in the first place. If you focus on ONLY the fact that Indians engaged in scalping, then you totally miss the fact that more scalping was probably actually done by white settlers committing genocide against Native Americans rather than the other way around.

    It's Confederate statues and Blue lives vs Black lives vs ALL lives matter, and let's make it about disrespecting the flag and anthem rather than the reasons behind taking a knee in protest is happening in the first place, all over again.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Watching Attorney General Sessions testify before a congressional committee can be summed up in one word: painful.

    In fact, too painful to watch any further or ever again.

    Just a fleeting observation.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Based on comments thus far, C has a lot to learn about the Native American experience on Turtle Island.

  10. [10] 
    Paula wrote:

    John M: i>It's Confederate statues and Blue lives vs Black lives vs ALL lives matter, and let's make it about disrespecting the flag and anthem rather than the reasons behind taking a knee in protest is happening in the first place, all over again.

    "Conservatives" can't ever seem to respond directly to issues, generally because they got nuthin' -- so they deflect and redirect.

  11. [11] 
    Paula wrote:

    Oops. John M: It's Confederate statues and Blue lives vs Black lives vs ALL lives matter, and let's make it about disrespecting the flag and anthem rather than the reasons behind taking a knee in protest is happening in the first place, all over again.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Get ready for a barrage of comments from those here that do not believe that Big Money corrupts politicians.

    Who among us are you referring to?

  13. [13] 
    Kick wrote:


    Anyone that says it's okay for Democrats or any candidate to take Big Money and that taking Big Money will not lead to the candidate representing the interests of where they got the money from.

    I regret to inform you that your arbitrary definition of "Big Money" is chump change to many people, myself included. Having contributed checks to multiple candidates in amounts that far exceed your "Big Money" definition yet were equal to or less than the amounts allowed by federal law, I can assure you that I never accepted nor expected anything in return for said contributions and was never offered anything in return for my "Big Money" contributions with the exception of a chicken dinner and some peas and carrots at "meet the candidate" type dinners.

    Your assertion that any politician who doesn't meet your monetary purity test are therefore "Establishment [Insert Party Name Here]" who are inherently evil is laughable at best in my opinion, but I respect your right to believe that your definition of "Big Money" corrupts absolutely and any other thing I find ridiculous and not necessarily true no matter how many times you type them into the comment box. :)

  14. [14] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Elizabeth M

    I believe the generally accepted definition would be something on the order of "Saying anything that could possibly be interpreted as negative, regardless of how factual or true, about anybody who might have any conceivable claim to minority status." (which in actual usage pretty much means everybody and anybody except white males.)

    Feel free to give me your own understanding of the term.

    John M.

    Your"Historical and undeniable fact" about colonial Americans offering bounties for Indian scalps is a total falsehood, as in Big Fat Lie.

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Your"Historical and undeniable fact" about colonial Americans offering bounties for Indian scalps is a total falsehood, as in Big Fat Lie.

    Whereas your pronouncements, C, about the original inhabitants of North America are the absolute truth of the matter?

    What motivates a person to imply that racism has not and does not now characterize the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples and their governments on this continent?

  16. [16] 
    Kick wrote:


    While Bernie did not run a true small contribution campaign he showed that it is possible and made people believe it is possible.

    Donald Trump made people believe it is possible to run a zero contribution campaign that is self-funded, but the truth and BS campaign rhetoric are two totally different things.

    Seriously, though, Don, if receiving a $100 contribution campaign is awesome and acceptable and meets your "campaign finance purity test," then following that logic to its natural conclusion would mean that a candidate who accepted no funds whatsoever would be as politically pure as the driven snow and a completely untainted representative of "we the people."

    For example, in a presidential election there are 120-130 million people voting over the last few election cycles.

    Just 1% of those citizens contributing 100 dollars to Colin Kaepernick to run a small contribution campaign for the Senate in 2018 against Dianne Feinstein would total 125 million dollars. Seems like enough to be competitive.

    Why do you think 100+ million people in 49 other states and the District of Columbia should collectively concern themselves with writing a check for any amount to fund the campaign of either DiFi or CoKa or any other candidate in any other state not named California?

    You might want to adjust your "optimistic" fund raising fantastical numbers way downward to account for the FACT that my relatives and those of many others who live in places like Podunk, Arkansas, don't give a fig regarding who represents the ________ <--- [insert expletive here] that reside in ________ <--- [you know the drill]. :)

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The problem with definitions of political correctness, C, is that they are like excuses, everybody has one. :)

    I understand political correctness to be the avoidance of language or behavior that would be offensive to a group of people.

    It is not a cover-up of the truth of the matter or a way to change the reality of a situation but, rather a way of being respectful of an issue without changing the substance of it.

  18. [18] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Elizabeth M

    Perhaps you overlooked the fact that the "Historical and undeniable fact" came from John M, and my response was directed to him.

    Regardless, I have made no such implication as the one you describe.

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki

    Your "Historical and undeniable fact" about colonial Americans offering bounties for Indian scalps is a total falsehood, as in Big Fat Lie.

    Two things:

    1. Educate yourself:

    2. If education is not your "thing," Google is your friend.

  20. [20] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Again, Big Fat Lie. Do you believe everything found on the internet? Try Googling "gullible".

  21. [21] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Trending right now at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website:

    spurious "of a deceitful nature or quality"

    righteous 'morally right or justifiable'

    Kafkaesque 'A nightmarish quality'

    mike "microphone"

    moron “a very stupid person”

    Someone's been watching the news today.

  22. [22] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Liz [24]: very well put.

    Like some liberals (e.g., Bill Maher), I'm certain that some attempts at political correctness are little more than nonsense promulgated by overeager zealots and college professors. The completely stupid concept of "microagression" springs to mind.

    One of the reasons that conservative attacks on political correctness work is the inherent silliness of alot of it.

    On the other hand, conservatives overplay that hand by using it as an excuse for rank insensitivity, as when Don Imus called black members of a women's basketball team "nappy headed".

    C.R.'s definition, "Saying anything that could possibly be interpreted as negative, regardless of how factual or true, about anybody who might have any conceivable claim to minority status.", with it's inclusive defensive clause, is right in line with the apparent Fox News definition, as inferred by comments by most of their commentators and guests.

    While the phrase, 'anything that could possibly be interpreted as negative' sounds benign, it covers a lot of territory, from slips of the tongue to flat-out supremacist speech. By defining it thusly, they defend the former, while providing 'air cover' for the latter.

    In the sensible center, it boils down to being careful to avoid inadvertent slurs and hackneyed stereotyping (what CW was doing), and to being somewhat sensitive to a listener's perspective, not because we have to, but because we honestly don't want to make another human being's life more depressing than it already is.

    As for those on the receiving end, well, they know a veiled insult when they hear one, right?

  23. [23] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    oops. nothing in [29] should be italicized.

  24. [24] 
    John M wrote:

    C. R. Stucki [21]

    "Your"Historical and undeniable fact" about colonial Americans offering bounties for Indian scalps is a total falsehood, as in Big Fat Lie."

    C. R. Stucki [27]

    "Again, Big Fat Lie. Do you believe everything found on the internet? Try Googling "gullible"."

    Wow, REALLY Stucki??? Are we now going to deny facts and history because we don't like or agree with them? Are you preaching "alternative facts" now? Is this really Michale in disguise? Are you going to start denying that the Holocaust ever actually happened now also?

    For your information, I was taught in both High School in Baltimore, Maryland, and at Florida State University history classes in Tallahassee, Florida, in addition to the MANY sources I can find on the internet, about how both sides, both Native Americans and White Settlers, practiced scalping against each other. It is, all your denials to the contrary, a well known historical FACT. Thank goodness I did manage to receive at least a somewhat balanced education regarding history.

    You might want to reference:

    1.) Connecticut and Massachusetts colonial officials offering bounties for the heads of murdered Indigenous people and later for only their scalps during the Pequot War in the 1630s.

    2.) Massachusetts creating a scalp bounty during King William's War in July 1689. During Queen Anne's War, by 1703, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was offering $60 for each native scalp. During Father Rale's War (1722–1725), on August 8, 1722, Massachusetts put a bounty on native families.

    3.) During the French and Indian War, in June 12, 1755, Governor William Shirley of Massachusetts Bay colony was offering a bounty of £40 for a male Indian scalp, and £20 for scalps of females or of children under 12 years old.

    4.) In 1756, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Robert Morris, in his Declaration of War against the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) people, offered "130 Pieces of Eight, for the Scalp of Every Male Indian Enemy, above the Age of Twelve Years," and "50 Pieces of Eight for the Scalp of Every Indian Woman, produced as evidence of their being killed."

    These are only a few examples found with very superficial research.

    Where is YOUR proof that these documented cases with multiple sources are "A BIG FAT LIE???"

  25. [25] 
    John M wrote:

    I might also point out that ALL of the examples cited above are taken from OFFICIAL COLONIAL GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS. To deny their existence is like saying the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are FAKE documents.

  26. [26] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki

    Again, Big Fat Lie. Do you believe everything found on the internet?

    Now, now, Stucki... people will think you're missing a quite a few brain cells if you need to ask someone who just corrected your falsehood whether or not they believe everything found on the Internet.

    Try Googling "gullible".

    Try Googling:

    ** 1749 Proclamation of Edward Cornwallis, twin brother of the Archbishop of Canterbury and uncle of Charles Cornwallis.

    That, in order to secure the Province from further attempts of the Indians, some effectual methods should be taken to pursue them to their haunts, and show them that because of such actions, they shall not be secure within the Province.

    That, a Company of Volunteers not exceeding fifty men, be immediately raised in the Settlement to scour the wood all around the Town.

    That, a Company of one hundred men be raised in New England to join with Gorham’s during the winter, and go over the whole Province…

    …That, a reward of ten Guineas be granted for every Indian Micmac taken, or killed.

    ** British Scalp Proclamation 1756, Governor Charles Lawrence -- still on the books in Canada

    And, we do hereby promise, by and with the consent of His Majesty’s Council, a reward of 30 pounds for every live male Indian prisoner, above the age of sixteen years, brought in alive; or for a scalp of such male Indian twenty-five pounds, and twenty-five pounds for every Indian woman or child brought in alive: Such rewards to be paid by the Officer commanding at any of His Majesty’s Forts in this Province, immediately upon receiving the Prisoners or Scalps above mentioned, according to the intent and meaning of this Proclamation.

    ** Phips Proclamation

    ** Massachusetts Bay Colony scalp bounty

    ** Captain John Lovewell, the most famous scalp hunter of the 18th Century
    - Winnipesaukee
    - Wakefield: They paraded their Indian scalps through the streets, Lovewell himself wearing a wig made of Indian scalps. The bounty paid was 1000 pounds (100 per scalp)
    - Battle of Pequawket


    Or don't Google them and continue to believe whatever worldview you please. It is a FACT that the colonists paid a bounty for scalps of Indians.

    Class dismissed.

  27. [27] 
    Kick wrote:


    But for many chumps 200 dollars is a lot money. And it is not money they can easily afford to contribute to political candidates. And these people probably don't like like being thought of as chumps.

    "Chump change" is a term that means a small or insignificant amount of money; it most certainly does not mean that the person who would give a small amount is a chump. If it did, then myself having given $200 dollars or less on many occasions to local candidates qualifies as a chump... and a proud chump too for supporting multiple candidates to represent me at the local level. I don't think these poor downtrodden people you seem overly concerned about would much like being referred to as "Small Money" either, and by that I mean: Way to miss the point entirely, Don! You're choosing to argue semantics and insinuate that I was belittling people who contribute small amounts to political campaigns... nice try, though. However, if you can wrap your head around your own argument there, perhaps you can fathom the concept that you're belittling people who have more to give and denigrating and labeling any politician who would accept it.

    I set the 200 dollars limit (200 primary, 200 general) because it seemed that candidates could raise enough money with a 200 dollar limit.

    And I'm fully cognizant of the fact that many people giving that $200 might be contributing a large percentage of their weekly pay and that others are simply able to write large amounts of money that they made while sitting on their tails and collecting their dividends.

    You have to draw the line somewhere.

    Yes, I know. The federal government actually does that for individual contributors. It's a relatively small amount to many people and a fortune for others so I'm not sure why you feel the need to redefine it to a fraction of said amount and lump, label, and denigrate those who choose to accept the federally defined contribution from those who can afford to give that amount.

    But my 200 limit is subject to change if the participants feel it needs to be raised or lowered.

    So instantly and with little fanfare, the candidate I support with my $201 might go from being an "Establishment [Party Name]" to an acceptable candidate? We're not worthy. /sarcasm off

    This is no more a purity test than demanding that a candidate take a position on any other issue.

    Please don't even try to explain how your "One DEMAND" is NOT a purity test. I know very few voters who are single-issue voters with a "one demand" purity test.

    Of course, there could be some candidates not influenced by Big Money contributions.

    Hallelujah... Amen... and finally some truth escaped your keyboard.

    But these would be the exception rather than the rule and would probably be happy to not have to take the Big Money contributions.

    Depending on which part of the country they were from and the cost of living/doing business, I concede this might be true for a small fraction of candidates who had no need to air television commercials.

    Trumps campaign was a Big Money campaign. It doesn't matter whether he self-funded with his own Big Money or someone else's.

    So I guess a rich candidate like Mark Cuban or Michael Bloomberg who self funded wouldn't meet your "One Demand"? If that's true, then I think your purity test should at least be redefined as "Two With a Very Good Chance of Being More Demands."

    A candidate that accepts no contributions? Really grasping for straws, aren't we?

    But for many straws they don't need anyone's money. And it is money they can easily afford to contribute to themselves as a political candidate. And these people probably don't like being thought of as straws. :)

    If taking "Small Money" deems a candidate worthy of being on "your side," then naturally taking "Zero Money" should produce the worthiest of candidates, n'est-ce pas?

    Do you really believe that every Big Money contribution going into Feinstein's campaign will come from California?

    Straw man down... somebody call the wambulance. *LOL* However did you pull that nugget out of your calculation that 1% of the 130 million voters nationwide would give $100 to DiFi or Kap? Pretty sure the Koch Bros weren't the "Small Money" donors you were suggesting should be willing to contribute to Feinstein in order to prove she was a worthy candidate. I'm fully aware that people contribute to candidates in other states since I'm one of the people that's been doing it for decades.

    They might even be fortunate enough to be able to afford to contribute even more than the 200 dollar limit to small contribution Senate candidates and in their own congressional district so they will send contributions to other small contribution candidates in other congressional districts and states to make it possible for more small contribution candidates to be successful and help out small contribution candidates in districts where the citizens are not as fortunate to be able to fund their own small contribution candidates.

    Okay, so now they can actually contribute more than $200 as long as they spread it around to others, making your "One Demand" not really so much a "demand" as it is a "suggestion."

    And 1% of 125 million is 1.25 million- not 100+ million.

    Again, you missed my point... which I assure you was NOT about mathematics. The point was that the vast majority of those 100+ million voters are already meeting your "one demand" by contributing $0 to candidates. The scenario you've outlined above would allow those of ample means to contribute vast amounts of money to candidates all over the United States as long as it's distributed in amounts you deem worthy. This is already happening all over the United States but with contribution limits as set by the federal government. You've basically defined the system that's already in place and just lowered the numbers to a fraction of those already in place... the federal individual limit of $2,700 versus your limit of $200, which you concede could be adjusted upward if people think it's too low, and to that I simply say: It's too low. :)

  28. [28] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Once again you bring up the legal limits. The legal limits were set by the Big Money legislators that will not bite the hand that feeds them. That is why the legal limits are not sufficient.

    Oh Don, you're just thinking too small.

    Tell you what, you want the smell of money in politics to make people run? Trump is your key.

    Think about the Emoluments clause in the Constitution: “no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

    Just today, we heard opening statements in the first ever case regarding that clause brought against Trump in D.C. Court. Trump's lawyers presented the defense that Trump was “engaging in ordinary business transactions, not in exchange for anything."

    The judge stated in reply, “Just because it's a business transaction doesn't necessarily mean it's not an emolument."

    Consider what this line of reasoning, if it is upheld by the Supreme Court, would mean for your cause: the Trump defense is essentially the defense that every politician gives when accepting a large campaign donation.

    Now, unfortunately for your side, in McDonnell v. United States, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), (the case regarding the Virginia Governor who did favors for, seriously, a tobacco-oil salesman, in return for use of a Ferrari, a gifted gold watch, family vacations, and other goodies) the Court ordered McDonnell's conviction vacated on the grounds that the meaning of "official act" does not include merely setting up a meeting, calling another public official, or hosting an event.

    So that's a legal loophole that potential donors could pilot a starship through, but the issue was of a matter of state law, so it might have been sufficiently narrow in scope that:

    If, on the other hand, SCOTUS finds against Trump in this case, it opens the door for an enterprising opponent of big money donors such as yourself to start researching big donors, for signs of foreign businesses, and, perhaps with the help of a GoFundMe campaign, bring suit against candidates who accept money from those donors, asserting that it violates the Emoluments Clause. The Clause extends its authority to include the holder of "any office of profit or trust", not just federal officials, so every politician in America would theoretically fall under its jurisdiction.

    Even if such cases didn't ultimately win in the high court, such a tactic might chill the donation stream coming from obvious multinationals, like big oil and pharma, at the very least, for a couple of years, maybe longer. And the gate-keepers would be the politicians themselves, fearing the lawsuits.

    That's a lot more effective than threatening to withhold a measly two hundred bucks from a local pol. Like he'd care.

    Think bigger.

  29. [29] 
    Kick wrote:


    The reason for dropping to 200 dollars is 200 dollars is sufficient to raise enough money and is an amount that keeps all contributions relatively equal.

    If only the cost of doing business across the entire country were "relatively equal," you'd have a point, but it isn't so you don't. You're attempting to put equal limits on candidates and citizens who donate to them across the entire country where the cost of living and the salaries of a candidate's constituents vary quite a lot, and while your limit might be a sufficient amount for a local candidate in parts of the South, it's quite obviously going to be insufficient in most states across the country and anyone running at the national level.

    I don't care what the limit set by the federal government is.

    Obviously you care very much and think the amount is too high or there'd be no need to insist that candidates who accept it are part of the evil "establishment" just for accepting a campaign contribution that doesn't meet your definition of "sufficient to raise enough money and is an amount that keeps all contributions relatively equal."

    Just because something is legal doesn't make it right. If you see someone drop a 100 dollar bill it may be legal to pick it up and keep it, but it's not right.

    Not relevant to the discussion and yet another straw man argument proving nothing regarding the subject matter.

    And the legal limit set by the Big Money legislators is not right in my opinion.

    If you think it's "not right" and candidates who accept amounts over $200 up to federal limits will not receive your vote, then you quite obviously care what the legal limit is.

    One Demand voters are not a single-issue voters. This is the typical bullshit you keep repeating like your claim of purity.

    If you're going to refer to candidates who don't meet your "One Demand" as "establishment candidates" that accept money in amounts that you claim are "not right" and will not limit themselves to amounts you deem "sufficient," then I fail to see why you'd get too bent out of shape if I defined your "one demand" as a purity test. If "One Demand" voters are not single-issue voters, then you might want to reconsider its name and/or cease using language like "this is no more a purity test than demanding that a candidate take a position on any other issue;" <--- that bullshit was all yours, and I'm not the one who insists that my "One Demand" isn't a single issue when I've read your comments for months wherein you insist candidates you support have to meet your "One Demand" and people who contribute to political campaigns have to "pick a side" based on your "one demand."

    So only candidates that don't need to air television commercials could run a campaign in California with 125 million dollars?

    I said I agreed that the amount you find "sufficient" and "right" might actually be so for a local candidate who didn't need to run television commercials. I'm not sure what part of that statement has confused you, but I think your problem lies in your inherent need to redefine my comments. Try NOT twisting my words into your own agenda and using limiters like "only" that I never said and perhaps you'll avoid your self-created confusion.

    Not really sure what that has to do with a candidate that is not corruptible by Big Money being a rare exception rather than the rule.

    Twisting my words to fit your agenda and then wondering why they don't actually fit your agenda shouldn't really come as a surprise. :)

    No. A rich candidate spending their own Big Money does not meet the ONE demand. The demand is that candidates finance their campaign only with small contributions. The one contribution a rich candidate makes to their own campaign is not a small contribution. It is not two demands.

    1. The candidate cannot receive more than the amount you feel is "right" and "sufficient" from individual campaign donors.
    2. The candidate cannot self-donate an amount over the amount of $200 nor allow others to do so on their behalf. I'm guessing you don't realize that there's not a candidate anywhere who could meet that test... even if you thought they did.

    Desperation does not look good on you.

    Sorry, not desperate... speaking of which, who is the one insisting people "pick a side" and insisting that anyone who doesn't meet his "one demand" is the "other side" and keeps trolling the author of the blog. Your projection is obvious and looks familiar on you. :)

    Huh? That is just nonsensical gibberish. What is wrong with you?

    So we've established you don't know what a straw man argument is or the fact that there is not a candidate in the country who doesn't self-contribute in amounts that exceed your "One Demand" as defined by campaign finance rules of the FEC.

    Once again you bring up the legal limits. The legal limits were set by the Big Money legislators that will not bite the hand that feeds them. That is why the legal limits are not sufficient.

    So despite your protestations to the contrary, you really do care what the legal limit is and anyone who can't meet your "One Demand" is denigrated and labeled as picking the "wrong side" even though you admit you voted for someone who picked the "wrong side," as did we all, which makes you no different from the rest of us despite your protestations to the contrary. Who knew campaign finance reform could be so difficult? ;)

  30. [30] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:


    The problem beyond the unrealistically narrow conditions you put on campaign limits, is that you postulate that big money is bad without ever offering any proof that it is true. You just want us to accept it, but many of us see money in politics as a much more complex and nuanced issue than just: money = bad. I asked you before if you could come up with another democracy to which political funding was much lower and show that country produced noticeably better politicians. No reply. Can you demonstrate how a big money candidate once elected sold out to all the big money players? What specific legislation did that candidate support that they would not have normally supported? Was this true for all issues/big money contributors or just a few?

    For example, you rag on Clinton as a big money candidate but when this came up early in the campaign, I took a look at her voting record in the Senate as well as who were her large contributors, and though I did not agree with every vote, for the most part she was quite solid in voting how I would have expected by her campaign rhetoric and general political views. I'm just not seeing the threat of the windmill you are tilting as an absolute and nothing you have written about the subject has gone deep enough or offered up anything to change that...

  31. [31] 
    Kick wrote:


    The 200 dollars is enough to run campaigns. Just because you say it's not does not make it true.

    Right back at you, Don; just because you say it's enough does not make it true. I conceded that I thought it might be enough in certain circumstances like a local election in certain parts of the country, and then you proceeded to twist my words to fit your agenda and suggested that if I meant one thing I obviously meant the opposite about a hypothetical race in California. I meant nothing of the sort. You assumed a load of bullshit. I'd need all kinds of other information regarding state election rules, population, cost-of-living statistics, number of donations that obviously wouldn't all give $200 (most donations would likely be less if the average is $27 per Saint Bernard), and numerous other factors would determine whether or not $200 would be enough for a hypothetical unnamed race in "Unnamed City, California," and whether or not it was enough to fit your Kaep takes on DiFi Senate race scenario in California never entered my mind; that was your agenda and NOT mine.

    By the by, I can assure you that a guy like Kaep would self-contribute in an amount that exceeded $200 because so would every candidate with a pulse. In San Francisco, that would consist of Kaep unselfishly buying lunch for a dozen volunteers manning his outreach phones and casually reaching into his pocket out of the goodness of his heart and paying cash... and with one swift move and a nice tip for the delivery service, Kaep becomes an "Establishment Democrat" because he self-funded in an amount that exceeded your "One Demand." Hope it was a good lunch, you bunch of establishment hacks. No one is going to meet your "One Demand" whether they claim to do so or not. People will self-fund in much larger amounts because they're good people who are going to make sure their volunteers are at least fed and given coffee for the hours of tireless work they're going to put in, and they're going to fill their gas tanks multiple times out of their own pockets and pay the telephone bill, light bill, and water bill so people can flush the darned toilet. These are all campaign expenses that are part of campaigns that sometimes a candidate will pay for themselves, particularly in the early stages of a campaign.

    You said the 200 dollars would be enough for some local races for a local candidate that doesn't need to run Television ads. That certainly implies that it won't work for a candidate that is not local and does need to run television. Perhaps you don't understand what you wrote.

    Perhaps you decided I meant more than what I said:

    Depending on what part of the country they were from and the cost of living/doing business, I concede this might be true for a small fraction of candidates that had no need to air television commercials.

    You then decided I meant "only candidates that don't need to air television commercials could run a campaign in California with 125 million dollars."

    Not what I said, Don. I said nothing about $125 million dollars and nothing about a hypothetical race in California. What I wrote wasn't complicated. I said your $200 contribution limit per person might be enough in a local race depending on what part of the country it was in. It might actually be enough for a local race in California depending on a slew of other factors (see above). Duh.

    I will let you in on a "little secret," and by "little secret," I mean a FACT that a lot of people are already keenly aware. One size almost never fits all. Things are different all over the country. The $200 being "right" and "sufficient" and "enough" would depend on many factors that are relevant in some parts of the country and not others. One size does NOT fit all. People and things and issues are all different and have different sets of rules all over the country. The diversity is what makes this country so great, in my opinion. ANYONE attempting to slap any kind of a "one size fits all" label on anything/everything applying one set of rules that are restrictive and allow no flexibility to account for our diverse political landscape in 50 states and DC and God knows how many cities, counties, parishes (Louisiana), boroughs (Alaska), etc. is simply thinking "small."

    I am aware that there may not be any candidate anywhere that currently meets the criteria. That is the problem I am trying to solve and you would prefer to avoid.

    You might continue with that talk of "avoidance" BS with CW, but saying that I'm avoiding an issue just because I disagree with your imposed limits is utterly nonsensical. I'm "all in" with overturning Citizens United and many similar reform efforts.

    Have a nice day, Don. I'm done with this discussion for now. I disagree with this approach of yours primarily for the same reasons I disagree with block granting Medicaid back to the states, and even with those asinine block grants the federal government would set each state's Medicaid grant based on an estimate of each state's spending and not a fixed amount that would assume a "one size fits all" for every city, county, parish, borough, and state in the entire country. But just because I disagree with the amount of your imposed donations and your labeling and denigration of candidates who don't agree to self-limit donations and even their personal contributions to meet your "One Demand"... any candidate with a pulse, to be honest... that sure doesn't mean I'm against campaign finance reform. :)

  32. [32] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:


    One good example of Big Money and corruption can be found in the article above.

    No that's a general example. I want specific politicians that voted different than their voting record would predict because of large campaign contributions by players that that legislation would impact.

    It doesn't matter if there are any other countries that have lower campaign funding. I don't live or vote in other countries.

    Total cop out. If your theory is sound you should be able to demonstrate it by looking at other democracies...

    And none of your other questions are legitimate questions.

    Translation: you are unable or too lazy to do the research to answer them.

    "That's a bullshit question."
    -Marisa Tomei
    My Cousin Vinny

    Channeling Your inner Michale is not helping your argument in the slightest...

    The point is what we have been doing (voting for Big Money candidates) hasn't been working (see Clinton-Trump 2016 for just one example), this can work so there is no excuse for not trying it.

    Define "working"... You would have a hard time finding times in this countries history that the country was better off, and the few you would find would have more to do with the fall of other countries rather than some better way of dealing with big money in politics.

    You ask why Not One Penny was taken seriously and few if any seem to take up the call for One Demand? The former was not completely half assed like the later.

    I have accused you before of marketing speak. This is why. You dodge rather than answer questions and take the easy route when ever possible. How many years have you been working on this? And you are up to 9 Participants and no candidates signed up. Pretty much speaks for it's self doesn't it?

    Thanks for the discussion. Better luck next time.

    You do know that we basically just laughed at Michale whenever he pulled that petty crap, right?

  33. [33] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:


    I do actually answer questions.

    Not really. You provide canned rhetoric responses instead of directly answering questions.

    How is "Not One Penny" not half-assed and One Demand is half-assed?

    Not One Penny has support. One Demand does not.

    One Demand has a plan to achieve the goal.

    A plan that no one wants to follow is not much a plan...

    I am responding to the marketing speak of those supporting and defending the Big Money Democrats.

    No, you are avoiding questions that are evidently too hard for you to answer.

    You can laugh all you want. But you are laughing at misconceptions that you need to be true to justify your unjustifiable positions.

    Actually, I'm trying to get you off your ass and use your brain. One Demand is not a bad idea. But it needs work and there needs to be a there there. You want support but you don't want to put in the work to make your idea worth supporting. I'm throwing fairly softball questions at you in hope you will come up with researched, thoughtful answers that attempt to prove your idea. And maybe by coming up with those answers you can flesh out your site into something that would be valuable to visit. Something One Demand is currently lacking.

    It is quite possible you are laughing alone and anyone else reading this is laughing at you. I know I am.

    Dude, grow a thicker skin. Kick gave you long, fairly well reasoned responses and you dismiss her as though you won the argument. I have never respected Michale when he tried to pull that crap, and I certainly don't respect you for trying to copy his lame style.

  34. [34] 
    Kick wrote:


    Thanks for the discussion.

    You're welcome, Don. If you take away anything from it, I hope it's the fact that not everyone who disagrees with your methods or definitions is someone who disagrees with your goal, and there isn't likely to be a politician in the United States who could meet your limitations to contribute $200 or less to their own campaign, particularly in the early stages, which would limit a lot of very capable Americans who wished to serve their communities and their country.

    Better luck next time.

    You can keep your "luck," Don; we've all seen how well that's been working for you. :)

  35. [35] 
    Kick wrote:


    I can assure you that Bashi is not laughing alone. I believe if you're going to define every politician in America as "Small Money" or "Big Money," and denigrate any politician who doesn't meet your rigid definition to neither accept nor self-fund in amounts greater than $200, you ought to at least have some proof at the ready in order to back up your assertions.

    Your requests for specific information are a ridiculous standard to meet.

    Gee, Don, that statement you made there sounds an awful lot like my argument against your "One Demand," with the notable exception that information regarding campaign contributions is public record and costs nothing to obtain and have at the ready to prove your assertions.

    Case in point: On July 12, 2012, Bernie Sanders accepted $10,000 from American Crystal Sugar, an anti-labor conglomerate. At the time Bernie accepted their campaign contributions, American Crystal Sugar was already months deep into one of the most contentious labor disputes of the decade to date. In September 2011, American Crystal Sugar had already locked out 1,300 workers across three states: North Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. These workers belonged to the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers Union, and they were locked out by American Crystal because they refused to ratify a labor contract. American Crystal then sued the locked-out workers in an effort to have their unemployment benefits revoked.

    Yes, I quite obviously chose Saint Bernard as an example because he's the one you approve of from the top of your high horse while you denigrate the rest of us for voting for "Big Money" candidates and accuse us of choosing the wrong side. There is not a politician alive who can meet your "One Demand," and with the inflation that invariably follows when a Republican president is in office, there never will be, regardless of whether or not you think they do or you think they come closer.

    Campaign rhetoric and reality usually are two very different things. :)

  36. [36] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:


    The need to justify Big Money as a corrupting influence was not the issue at hand. 80% of citizens already agree that Big Money is a problem (like you said the same goal).

    You are using a general statistic as proof of a very specific conclusion. The questions are not bullshit, they are there to see if YOUR answer is a workable one. There are a million ways to deal with big money. Why is your way the right one? Because you say it is is not enough, which so far is about as much as you have provided.

    As far as I know there is not an active politician alive that does meet the criteria for One Demand.

    Funny that...

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