Narrative Over Principle: The Perils of Believing Your Own Propaganda

I’ve not got a whole heck of a lot to add to this very good paragraph from Glenn Greenwald on the whole hubbub over the propriety of the Obama Administration’s entirely speculative suggestions (with the backing of Think Progress) that the Chamber of Commerce’s election ads are funded, at least in part, by foreign contributions:

The controversy over Chamber of Commerce election funding raises a very real and important  issue:  the genuine threat posed to our political system by unknown funders who can pour massive amounts of money into negative ads while hiding who they are.  The White House’s arguments about the need for more disclosure are largely correct, although that legitimate issue has been obscured by reckless, sloppy and somewhat McCarthyite behavior in accusing the Chamber of Commerce — with no evidence whatsoever — of using nefarious “foreign money” to pay for these ads, and then demanding that the Chamber reveal its funders in order to prove its innocence.  That is lamentable both because guilty-until-proven-innocent attacks are inherently misguided, and more so, because that attack has obscured the genuine issue over the dangers posed by undisclosed sources of campaign money.

While not something that interests me much (we are talking about politicians and their spokespeople, after all), Greenwald goes on to document that claims such as those being made by the Administration through Robert Gibbs are incredibly hypocritical given their own past history. 

John Cole vehemently disagrees with Greenwald’s calling the Administration out on this, citing Greenwald’s complaints as yet another example of how Democrats are expected to “just sit there and take” outrageous attacks from the Right without firing a few hard shots of their own. 

There are, unfortunately, a whole host of problems with Cole’s assertions (which include various other complaints about Left-of-Center critics of the Administration).  Certainly, I’m not at all convinced that the Democratic Party is inherently less willing to play dirty than the Republican Party – they’re both very large political parties that are quite aware that they exist for the sole purpose of winning elections

But beyond that, I cannot for the life of me understand what is so horrible about a liberal writer with a large liberal following fact-checking claims made by a purportedly liberal administration and holding their feet to the fire over those claims when they turn out to not only be dubious, but also entirely hypocritical.  It may well be that reporting on such claims and hypocrisies is harmful to Democrats’ chances in the upcoming election (though, realistically speaking, I can’t see how it would have any effect whatsoever), but in the long-run liberals qua liberals will be vastly better off listening to the complaints of people like Greenwald than to Cole’s defenses.

Why?  Because, for all the talk of “epistemic closure” and the insulated bubble-world of the conservative media, it is ignorance of principled dissent and a willingness to condone lies and half-truths in the service of electing one’s adopted team that enable it. 

That way lies madness, and not only madness but also an ideologically nihilistic movement that views its aims as nothing more than opposition to the other party.  Such movements are, frankly, incapable of governance, believing their own propaganda, deeming the naked pursuit of power as an end unto itself or insisting on an agenda that has no grounding in reality, even as it has plenty of grounding in the information they deem reliable.  They’re also, unfortunately, really good at maintaining internal discipline. 

The problem with the Bush Administration was never that it was too conservative – indeed, conservative complaints about the Bush Administration are largely accurate.  Instead, the problem was that conservatives were unwilling to criticize it or Fox News for its falsehoods, eventually coming to believe them, even as they spent years largely keeping their complaints about the Bush Administration’s habits bottled up (those who did otherwise are basically personae non-grata nowadays). 

Now we see the result of those lies and half-truths: a highly-moblized conservative movement in which it is not enough to simply hold a recognizably conservative philosophy, but it is instead increasingly a necessity to fully buy into the conservative media’s deeply inaccurate factual narrative, and in which actual policy proposals are virtually non-existent beyond “hit the liberals where they’ll hurt.”  And “hit the liberals where they’ll hurt” sounds like a perfectly legitimate governing strategy if, in your insular world, liberals (and those willing to collaborate with them) are to blame for all of our problems.  So you wind up using all this mobility to support candidates based primarily on the strength of their opposition to the other side and on their ignorance of facts that differ from the narrative in the conservative media.  In short, you get Christine O’Donnell instead of Mike Castle, Carl Paladino instead of Rick Lazio (wait, Lazio was a pretty crappy candidate to begin with), Sharron Angle instead of Tarkanian or Lowden, and so on. 

And sure, the GOP will still likely pick up the House and maybe the Senatem but history shows that the vast majority of that will be due to the still-awful economy and the fact that it’s a mid-term election.  True, some of it will nonetheless result from the high levels of conservative mobility resulting from lies and half-truths of the conservative media.  And no doubt the GOP as a whole will have more proudly and strongly “conservative” elected officials than ever before. 

Will this be enough to offset the loss of a Senate seat in Delaware, and possibly the defeat of Harry Reid in Nevada caused by this insistence on a hyper-partisan narrative?  Maybe, maybe not.  Certainly, though, it will not be enough to counter the incapacity for serious governance caused by the insistence on narrative over principle. 

And that’s why liberals should heed folks like Glenn Greenwald, should be skeptical of groups like Think Progress and Media Matters, and should absolutely encourage rather than discourage those liberals who insist on holding the Obama Administration (and, for that matter, Congressional Dems and the Progressive media)’s feet to the fire on matters of real principle and, most importantly, on matters of factual accuracy. 

With only a handful of exceptions, politicians (and their spokespeople) lie and mislead as a matter of course, and not because of the letter after their name but because they are politicians.  And the letter after their name doesn’t mean that they’re terribly interested in a particular set of principles over the long run, regardless of whether they say or do some things you may like, and even if they may be interested in those principles in the short run.  The worst thing adherents of a political philosophy can do is think otherwise, and trust that a politician (with some small number of exceptions) is actually interested in the long-term health of that philosophy or in speaking the whole truth as a matter of principle. 

The short-term loss of a handful of additional seats (and, frankly, I’m skeptical that holding one of your team’s politicians’ feet to the fire has any effects) is, by any metric, well-worth the long-term maintenance of intellectual rigor in your ideological group.

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59 thoughts on “Narrative Over Principle: The Perils of Believing Your Own Propaganda

  1. Mark:

    The WH, Cole, TP and MMA are most certainly correct in every respect, you Greenwald, the CC and all their hacks in the mainstream media are incorrect. Staggeringly, BLUNDERINGLY incorrect.

    When it comes to “corporate” money, all funds are foreign …. because all funds are global, because of the neoliberal deregulation of international capital flows. It’s stupid to even argue the point. Of COURSE there’s “foreign” money in the Chamber’s American political coffers and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.

    The only way to even try to counteract it is to POINT THAT OUT as often and as loudly as possible.

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    • @jfxgillis, This stretches things to the point of absurdity – if all corporate money should be deemed “foreign” on the grounds that “all funds are global,” then virtually any money that has passed through the hands of a corporation is equally “foreign.”

      And why suddenly complain about this now? Will Obama or the DNC be giving back any money they have received from corporate-funded PACS or, for that matter, from corporations directly? At a minimum, will they be refusing such donations in the future? Unlikely and unlikely.

      If the complaint is that they’re trying to make some sort of point about Citizens United, then I’ve got no idea what the point is, since that decision had nothing to do with foreign contributions, which are just as illegal as they’ve always been.

      Still, if the Administration and Think Progress were trying to make the point that all corporate money is foreign money, whether or not it’s illegal, and therefore there’s a very real need to prohibit corporate independent expenditures in order to prevent foreign influence, then fine. I’d disagree with that, but it’s a point worth discussing.

      But that is not what they’re doing – they’re certainly not asking to ban PACs in addition to reversing Citizens United, and they’re frankly only using it in the purely electoral context of “don’t vote for people supported by the Chamber” rather than using it in a way intended to restart a national conversation about corporate involvement in elections. Indeed, neither the Administration nor Think Progress is making the point that all/most Chamber expenditures are foreign-sourced since the Chambers members are basically all corporations. The Administration/Think Progress are saying specifically that the Chamber is illegally spending money from foreign-owned companies on its electioneering ad campaigns, without any actual evidence much beyond “the Chamber of Commerce has foreign dues-paying members.” It’s pure speculation and a groundless accusation of law-breaking.

      Like Greenwald said, if they were simply saying, look “these ads are from a corporate-funded group which has some foreign donors. We don’t know whether they’re using those foreign donations for nefarious purposes, and we certainly hope they’re not, but the point is that this underscores the need for stronger disclosure requirements,” then no problem. I even happen to agree with that completely. But that’s not the focus that they’ve provided, instead using it as a platform for totally unsubstantiated allegations in the hopes of discrediting a political opponent. That does not deserve anyone’s applause.

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      • @Mark Thompson, I agree 100% with your general point– that its bad to “defend the administration” regardless of principle. That way lies incompetently prosecuted unnecessary wars, politicization of the administration of justice, deficit-funded revenue reductions & Medicare expansions, madness, etc.

        But I don’t think it’s a fair point in this case.

        The argument is, the Chamber of Commerce (the US one, not to be confused with local ones) raises money from foreign sources, puts it into an account with all its other money, and sends money from that account to Republican candidates.

        Now, if that isn’t true, then Cole et al are doing bad. But as I understand it, that is the story here.

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        • @Elvis Elvisberg, The link doesn’t work. But unless your link provides evidence that Think Progress, et al have not previously provided, the problem here is that there’s no actual evidence for the allegation that it all goes into one pot. Saying that it all goes to the same 501(c)(6), as every TP accusation I’ve seen does is meaningless, because the 501(c)(6) literally is the Chamber.

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      • @Mark Thompson,

        No, I’m sorry, it’s not a stretch and it’s not absurd, in fact, it’s definitively not not-absurd.

        In fact, it’s perhaps the single most fundamental core point of contact, conention and conflict between the institution of globalized capital flows and the existing order of nation-state sovereignty.

        Capital knows no country. Marx said that 150 years ago and it was true then and it’s true now (of course, it took him a few hundred thousand more words to say it than the mere four I took, but same thing).

        You, and the mainstream media and the Chamber of Commerce, of course, would like to pretend that it’s absurd. What surprises me is Greenwald buying into it.

        “Corporate Funded PACs” prior to Citizens United were not funded by corporations but rather by individuals associated with corporations (or sectors, in many cases). Now whether those individuals funded it in the interests of global capital may or may not be the case in any individual case, but the net net net was the the money came from a human being with certain human charateristics, like being a carbon-based life form.

        I even happen to agree with that completely.

        Pardon my harshness, but who the hell cares? In this current American election, the interests of global capoital what to BUY THE OUTCOME to serve the interests of global capital, and if they do, they won’t be expanding disclosure requirements on the expenditures of funds to influence elections to serve the interests of global capital.

        While you and Greenwald are pissing around on some pointless and trivial side issue like whether there’s some smoking-gun check for a million dollars that the Dems can wave as “proof,” interests not committed to the the United States are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to manipulte the electorate.

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        • @Jaybird,

          In my 15 years of capital markets experience, I have never seen something that is so divorced from the reality of how capital flows really work.

          Company X raises $100 million via a private placement through three domestic state pension funds and that’s foreign money? Bullshit.

          What Karl Marx said may be true, but it just muddies up the waters to argue global capital as an abstract term when it’s real investors with real capital from real sources looking to put it somewhere. That is no different than what happens here with domestic capital. I work for a global capital markets firm so I do know a couple of things about this.

          Seriously, why should I even have to explain this?

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        • @jfxgillis, you understand that the language you are using is *ENGLISH*?

          Seriously, if all money is foreign, then money that I (American Citizen) donate out of my pocket is also “foreign” which, in turn, leads one to the conclusion that “money being foreign is trivial”.

          It doesn’t matter if foreign money enters the election. There is no money that is not foreign. Not even mine. Not even yours.

          Not even the DNC’s.

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        • @Jaybird,

          No, Jay, money that you donate, personally, as a human being, would come from a carbon-based living entity. You would, I presume, donate on the basis of what you think is best for the country you love.

          If, through the workings of your human consciousness, you happen to think that your humane interests, including American patriotism, coincide with the interests of global capital, well, at least I know that’s the result of a human decision, as juvenile, short-sighted, misguided and deluded as that may be. That I don’t mind.

          I assure you. Your affection for global capital is not reciprocated. Global capital doesn’t love America, doesn’t hate America, has no interest in America whatsoever except to the extent that it serves global capital sole interest: Return on Investment.

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      • @Dave,

        Distinguish for me then, between the “American” million dollars Newscorp gave the Republican Governor’s Association and the “foreign” profits Newscorp earns from, say, Sky TV, or, for that matter, distinguish it from its Australian subsidiary.

        Until you do, and you can’t, because the
        price on Newscorp’s equities
        is derived from all it’s concerns, not just its American interests, your “bullshit” is not just bullshit, but empty bullshit that doesn’t have an argument behind it.

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        • Dave, Jay and Simon:

          I have replies to all of you awaiting moderation apparently because I included links to, for Dave, Newscorp, for Jay, Vodafone, and for Simon, Royal Bank of Scotland.

          The first because an Australian company with global reach and an “American” subsidiary made two separate million-dollar donations to Republican campaigns, the second because Vodaphone half owns Verizon Wireless, my IP, and the third because RBS wholly owns Citizens Bank, where I kjeep my money.

          Oh, and the fact that I myself am integrated into the free flow of global capital in no way vitiates my argument.

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        • @jfxgillis, my argument isn’t that your argument is vitiated, it’s that your argument that every dollar is foreign leads to the conclusion that foreign money is trivial because there is not a single dollar that is *NOT* foreign.

          I think you want to argue that money is fungible so that a dollar paid to corporation X “to pay dues” is indistinguishable from a dollar donated to corporation X to be laundered before it is given to Hillary Clinton (or whomever).

          Right?

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        • Jaybird:

          You misunderstood my claim.

          My claim is not that every dollar is foreign, my claim is that every CORPORATE dollar is foreign.

          Now, I do understand that there are in fact oodles of tiny, independent corporations that may indeed be functionally “American,” i.e, stock owned by carbon-based living organisms who hold full sway over corporate affairs and employ a handful or two or three of other carbon-based living organism.

          But once you get beyond a certain size, where the company needs access to globalized capital, they aren’t American anymore. The investors rule, and they do so according to a sole interest: Return on Investment.

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        • Jaybird:

          And no, I’m not making the “money is fungible” argument. If I were, I would have made it (it happens to be true, but that argument is made elsewhere on this thread).

          The argument I’m making is that Multi-National Corporations cannot BY DEFINITION operate in the best interests of any given nation-state insofar as those operations degrade the MSN’s sole interest, Return on Investment.

          To make it clear. Assuming Rupert Murdoch accepted American citizenship in good faith, as a person he may vote and argue and donate as he himself thinks best for the future of the USA and his fellow citizens.

          Newscorp, however, cannot donate based on the best furutre of the USA and all Americans, it can only act to maxmize Returns.

          For you or I, a vote or a donation is a reflection of thoughts, values, beliefs and ideology. For Newscorp, a donation is literally and only an investment on future returns.

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        • Jaybird:

          Wow. You don’t see a difference between carbon-based living organisms making choices about the best future of their own country and non-corporeal fictive legal global entities making choices on the sole criterion of maximizing profits?

          REALLY?

          You don’t get that?

          Well, okay I guess.

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        • @jfxgillis, I don’t see the difference between “thoughts, values, beliefs and ideology” and “ROI”, no.

          They seem like two ways to say the same thing… only using deliberately happily loaded language for the first part and unhappily loaded language for the second.

          “I care about eternal questions, you are lead by your heart on your sleeve, they’re an emotional mob.”

          Same thing. Different people value different things differently. (And when you’re crazy enough to see a corporation as a collection of people, it gets even nuttier.)

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        • Jaybird:

          I don’t see the difference between “thoughts, values, beliefs and ideology” and “ROI”, no.

          I said okay. I guess that someday you will, and until then there’s no convincing you. It’s a clash of First Principles.

          However, you are most certainly wrong that a corporation just a collection of people, since the corporate entity as such possesses rights, immunities and privileges not possessed by any individual person in the collection, not even by the collection of persons as persons, and has attributes that exist only in the corporation as legal construction.

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        • @jfxgillis, Jay has made most of the point I was trying to make by asking about your bank account. I do still have a couple of things to add, though.

          The idea that there is a Giant Pool of Money swilling around the world economy seeking the best possible return is a helpful abstraction for some purposes – economists use it in models and lawyers use it in financial law. It is, however, just a model. Like all abstractions it doesn’t correspond exactly to the facts on the ground. In reality money does not behave homogenously even though it is fungible because in fact investment decisions are not made by a fluid flowing to the point of highest return in the landscape of the world economy, but by individuals deciding to invest or disinvest for all sorts of reasons – maybe they need the money to buy a cat, maybe they believe the corporation concerned is about to enslave the population of the US. Who knows? Most money doesn’t actually move much and what does rarely moves for political reasons.

          The political risk of investing in developed economies is miniscule – the effects of policies on profits are generally small and actually quite unpredictable, so the possible policies of the US government are an almost completely insignificant component of investment decisions . Did you consider the policies of the Scottish government – indeed whether there even was a Scottish government – when you opened your Citizens Bank account? A few wingnuts sell their shares and buy gold whenever a Democrat wins the presidency but its about as significant a phenomenon as actors threatening to move to Canada when a Republican wins.

          Why then do corporations donate money to political campaigns? Well, for the most part they don’t. One or two businesses – oil and energy, for instance – have an obvious business interest in government policy and really I can’t object to the idea of their campaigning on those issues and for politicians who support their views. Its quite directly related to the “thoughts, values, beliefs and ideology” of the carbon based life forms who own and run them.

          Given the extremely low (possibly negative) actual returns on political donations and the fact that political campaigning is not an activity authorized by most corporate charters, I suspect that any corporate managements who’ve been donating to campaigns for reasons of their own political preferences are opening themselves up to shareholder lawsuits from those who support the other party or at least to having their shares take a hammering from those who realize such spending is generally wasted when their identities come out.

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        • Simon K:

          Jay has made most of the point I was trying to make by asking about your bank account.

          Is that the stupid but amusing point I mentioned earlier? It’s still stupid, but it’s ability to amuse faces the problem of diminishing returns. To reiterate: The fact that I, a carbon-based living organism, may also be integrated into the free flow of global capital has nothing whatsoever to do whether the question of whether I, a carbon-based living organism, want the social organization of the country I live in, as constructed by myself and 300 million other carbon-based living organisms, to be determined by the interests of global capital.

          OF COURSE “global capital” is an abstraction. At this point in human civilization, the most concrete form it takes is a few packets of bytes communicated electronically.

          I dispute this:

          Most money doesn’t actually move much …

          this:

          the effects of policies [of developed economies] on profits are generally small and actually quite unpredictable

          and this:

          Given the extremely low (possibly negative) actual returns on political donations

          Want me to link to, say, total dollar-volume of global currency trading, or total dollar-volume of global equities markets for a single day. Listen your self. “Money doesn’t move much.” Dude, when money DOESN’T move is when there’s a problem. The actual precipitating event of the Sep ’08 finanical market wasn’t the Lehman bankruptcy, but the freeze-up in the “commericial paper” market. Look it up.

          And this is just crazy:

          Well, for the most part they don’t.

          Since from Teddy Roosevelt’s day to earlier this year, corporations were barred or extremely restricted in their campaign donations.

          For the record. RBS did not own Citizens when I first opened the account, it was a supposedly “American” bank. However, given events today with respect to the Red Sox successful purchase of Liverpool FC greatly facilitated by RBS, I now feel quite kindly toward the Royal Bank of Scotland. I have a new team of lovable losers to root for.

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        • @jfxgillis, RBS has owned Citizens Bank since 1988. That makes you too old to believe in fairy tales about evil international capitalists. Capital flows are precisely as threatening as your bank account ie. not very.

          There’s a bunch of work about the effectiveness of political spending on influencing elections and changing policy. I suggest you look it up – it doesn’t work the way you think it does. Corporate spending doesn’t buy policy, by and large, or at least is very ineffective at it.

          Regarding the vast numbers that get quoted for daily ForEx and equities trading, etc – this is small amounts of money moving very fast, not large amounts of money moving. Don’t confuse flows and stocks. The thing you’re interested in is the total capitalisation of the US stock and bond markets (which is an even more staggeringly vast number) versus the amount of money moving into and out of those markets internationally. That ratio is infinitesimally tiny – international flows have almost no effect on US markets. For extra credit, take a look at how those total capitalization numbers are impacted by major policy changes like healthcare reform or the Iraq war – if you can spot these events on a chart you have very good eyesight. So clearly those evil international capitalists don’t really care so very much about US politics …

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        • Simon K:

          I suggest you look it up –

          I suggest you cite it. I watched the fucking health insurance companies destroy Clinton’s reform proposals with my own two eyes.

          this is small amounts of money moving very fast, not large amounts of money moving.

          What’s the idea, the same five dollah Murican chases the same three pounds sterling 150 million times a day?

          Don’t confuse flows and stocks.

          No. I’m not. And even if I were, so what? The capital invested in the total capitalization of the U.S. stocks and bonds market is itself global already anyway. By definition.

          You would think the fact that I pointed out earlier that Citizens is wholly owned by RBS would’ve given you a clue on that.

          The capital undergirding the “American” stocks and equities markets is in no sense American because capital knows no country.

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        • @jfxgillis,

          1. I’ll spend time looking up papers for you when you show signs of paying attention.
          2. Approximately, yes. That’s how money works.
          3. You have completely missed the point. Reread what I wrote – I didn’t say anything about whether the money is “foreign” or not. I don’t care. I said its presence it insensitive to politics. If you don’t understand why that’s important, please think about it before you write another reply.

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      • Simon K:

        1. In other words, you don’t have any “papers.” Got it.

        2. Then why didn’t Agentinia just pay back the IMF the same five dollars at a time “really fast” rather than defaulting? For that matter, why didn’t Texas tycoon Tom Hicks pay back RBS a small amount really fast to keep Liverpool FC? (Some think that was his plan anyway.)

        3. Then why does capital spend money on politics? Why does K Street exist? Why ids the Chamber spending so much in this, the first election in which it’s legally allowed to spend opaque dollars on political ads? If there’s no return it’s a violation of fiduciary duty on the part of the corporate sponsors.

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  2. I have a theory about the left-leaning and the centrist bloggers. They are caught in an uncomfortable position of defending the indefensible — they invested in Obama, and now much of the right’s criticism is being revealed as on the mark, but the bloggers can’t admit it, because they fear being associated with Beck and Limbaugh and Coulter and the rest, so they are either writing about cultural sunjects or they are silent — maybe a McDonnell or Palin slam every once in a while, or they are pissed about a civil liberty violation — but the central issues are embarrassing to them.

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  3. The short-term loss of a handful of additional seats (and, frankly, I’m skeptical that holding one of your team’s politicians’ feet to the fire has any effects) is, by any metric, well-worth the long-term maintenance of intellectual rigor in your ideological group.

    Because the most intellectually rigorous groups are the ones who succeed in the marketplace of ideas? I don’t think so. Honesty is a virtue, and thus its own reward, but it doesn’t lead to political success.

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    • @Mike Schilling, I think you misunderstand me a bit here. The point is that, while lying is and always will be a part of electoral politics, there’s a very real need to have people in good standing within the ideological movement (as opposed to the party writ large) making sure the movement doesn’t start believing its preferred party’s bullshit. The notion that calling that bullshit out will have a meaningful effect on a national election, one way or another, seems to be lacking in evidence. To the contrary, just about everything we know about national elections in our two-party system is that -with some very rare and narrow exceptions – they are almost entirely a function of factors that have nothing to do with campaign strategy or tactics.

      Intellectual rigor certainly does not win elections, and I wasn’t trying to imply that it does. But intellectual rigor does mean that, when one’s preferred team is in power, that team will be prepared to govern well and to pursue policies that make a certain amount of sense from one’s ideological point-of-view. Presumably, one who subscribes to a broadly-defined political worldview is interested in politics for the purpose of advancing that worldview, and not for the purpose of electing people with a particular letter after their name.

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  4. Even if you assume the “ebil for-ner” attacks are valid- and not just an effort to out-hannity Sean Hannity- the problem is that these attacks are lousy politics as well.

    If the Administration wanted to play the foreign money card, they needed to set up the demonization scheme by “demonstrating” in some form, over the course of the last two years, that this scary Chinese currency was negatively impacting the lives of voters (for obvious reasons.) But they haven’t made any sustained effort to do such. Accordingly, this extremely provocative charge- which Obama is in a tenuous position to levy- is being made at the eleventh hour with no clear rhyme or reason as to why the thing is bad. I guess if you think foreigners are bad and simply referencing them will work to scare voters into voting for Democrats, there is some logic to it. But that’s merely another way of saying there is no logic to it.

    All of which is to say that even if you support what they were trying to do, the manner in which they did it is pathetic. The idea that the best way to win votes with 10% unemployment is to attack the Chamber of Commerce might just be the best metaphor for this Administration’s ineptitude we will ever see. At least, I hope it is.

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      • @Mark Thompson, so i haven’t followed the COC story that closely. What appears factual is that a variety of foreign companies and groups have given money to the COC which put it into a big pot of money which they are using for political adds. That seems to be exactly against the law. What am i missing?

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        • @greginak, There’s not any actual evidence that the COC put the money from the foreign corps into the same pot of money from the domestic corps. and then used that pot of money for political ads. The TP reports that keep asserting this as fact just say “the foreign companies give money to the same 501(c)(6) that is funding these attacks.” Which sounds really bad until you recognize that the 501(c)(6) is just the Chamber itself, not a separate sub-account of the Chamber’s. Based on TP’s logic, no trade organization with foreign members would ever be permitted to engage in election-related activity.

          By the way – none of this should be interpreted as me saying “no way, no how is the CoC violating the law.” It’s just that I’m saying there’s no more evidence that they are than there is for any number of other groups, and the accusations are based on pure speculation.

          Basically, once you get past the insinuations, TP’s actual evidence amounts to no more than the rather mundane revelation that the Chamber of Commerce has foreign members, something that wasn’t ever exactly a secret.

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  5. One of the takes on this that makes sense to me is that this is actually a tactic to explain the losses after the fact.

    “The American People still agree with us, the Democrats, it’s just that they were duped by all of the foreign money poured into the election in 2010 which is the only reasonable explanation for the outcome of the vote. Democrats still have the moral mandate that they received in 2008!”

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    • @Jaybird, well who would ever think money might influence elections…geez

      FWIW just about every american ideology, left , right and middle, can already point to tons of polls showing majorities supporting their beliefs. And not even poorly worded polls necessarily.

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      • @gregiank, influence? Sure.

        But let’s take the CofC money out of this election entirely. Whoosh! It’s gone.

        What changes come November?

        Will the Republicans still take the House? I think they will. The only difference is, maybe, 2-3 seats.

        Will the Republicans still pick up seats in the Senate? Yes they will. What’s the difference there? I don’t see difference, myself.

        Now… since we dropped all of the CofC money, are there any analogous funds on the side of the Democrats?

        What happens when we get rid of those?

        Does the balance go back to the way it was before?

        Personally, I think it does.

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        • @Jaybird, One might wonder why it was the Repub’s nixed the bill said all money spent on campaign/political ads had to be openly disclosed and then are benefiting from piles of money whose source does not have to be disclosed.

          How much of diff does the COC money make: beats me. I just personally wish we could try to do something to lessen the out sized influence money has so our elections don’t seem bought and paid for.

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        • @gregiank, check this out:

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Funding_Accountability_and_Transparency_Act_of_2006

          That bill apparently passed and was signed by Bushitler himself.

          Were you talking about a different bill?

          govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s110-3077

          This one appears to have died in committee. Tough to blame that one on Republicans, per se.

          What are you talking about?

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  6. No, not referring to either of those. There was a bill up this session in response to the Citizens United ruling which, if i remember correctly, said all poli donations had to be public. The R’s did the filibuster thang on it ( or at least the half ass version of the filibuster involving cloture rules and such).

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    • @gregiank, you mean the DISCLOSE act? The “H.R. 5175: Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act”?

      Read about it here:

      govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-5175&tab=summary

      I’m not sure that the bill did what you seem to think it did.

      Or were you talking about a totally different bill?

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        • @gregiank, given that you said that the bill did, let me quote you here, “all money spent on campaign/political ads had to be openly disclosed and then are benefiting from piles of money whose source does not have to be disclosed. ”

          If the bill did not, in fact, do that but did, in fact, do something else, waving this away as “argue about this or that detail” is waving away what I consider to be “the truth”.

          The DISCLOSE Act did a handful of things. Let’s go through them. (Yay! Details!)

          Section 101 prohibited donations by:
          1) Government Contractors who make more than 10 Mil.
          2) TARP recipients.
          3) People who entered into negotiations over some oil/gas thingamajig.

          Section 102 applied the existing ban on foreign individuals to foreign corporations but had two *MAJOR* exceptions for domestic corporations that donate domestically but that also get money from foreign corporations after they followed the rule that they could donate but it had to be a “segregated fund”:
          1) No money from terrists.
          2) The fund couldn’t be run by a terrist.

          Section 103 defines stuff.

          Section 105 talks about the intertubes.

          Title II stuff talks about bookkeeping stuff.

          Subtitle B talks about rules for Corporations (including charitable giving but specifically dealing with to politics but they all involve such things as the aforementioned segregated funds) and touches on disclosure formats.

          Subtitle C talks about lobbyist rules.

          Title III talks about

          Forcing organizations to disclose to shareholders the political spending and then gets into the boilerplate stuff that all bills have discussing legal review and then talks about how they don’t have to disclose stuff if it means bomb threats.

          Please go and check my work above… but I’m pretty sure that the DISCLOSE act does not ensure that, and let me quote you here, “all money spent on campaign/political ads had to be openly disclosed and then are benefiting from piles of money whose source does not have to be disclosed. ”

          What the bill did was make sure that corporations had to say such things TO THEIR SHAREHOLDERS.

          Please, go back and check my work.

          govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-5175&tab=summary

          The DISCLOSE act wouldn’t have fixed the problem we’re yelling about here. Blaming the Republicans is fun but, honestly, the upcoming loss ain’t because of the CofC’s .5% budget that comes from foreign membership dues.

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