Daily Caller: Fixing Politics By Force Won’t Work
By Luke WachobThe president is likely correct that more active and attentive voters would make it even harder than it currently is for politicians to betray their constituents’ interests in favor of the positions of financial supporters. Academic research shows that campaign contributions are less predictive of how politicians vote on bills than other factors (“Indicators of party, ideology, and district preferences account for most of the systematic variation in legislators’ roll call voting behavior”), and it stands to reason that more active voters would lead to politicians adhering more closely to voter preferences.But must we address every issue in politics with more coercion? We are worried about candidates feeling indebted to supporters, so we force them to limit the size of the campaign contributions they can accept. We are worried about corrupt acts being hidden, so we force everyone who spends money speaking about candidates to report their activity to the government, even if all they do is mention a candidate’s name near an election. Now we are worried about slumping participation in politics (gee, I wonder what’s scaring them off), and the president has kind words for forcing everyone to vote.It’s an awfully bleak worldview compared to the president’s own remarks in the State of the Union Address in January: “A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears. A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues and values, and principles and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.”If only. A politics where campaign contributions are restricted, political activity is surveilled, and voting is mandatory appeals quite a bit more to one’s basest fears than basic decency.
By Fawn JohnsonThe Senate Finance Committee’s investigations team is highly caffeinated.How else could it have gotten through more than a million pages of documents in the last two years? There is an art to the kind of mind-numbing digging that these sleuths do. They set weekly goals for the number of pages reviewed, but they build in time for breaks. The Republican lead investigator tries to make sure her team spends only half its days in document-review mode and the other half doing something else. Every discovery must be fact-checked; the most important goal is to be as meticulous and thorough as possible, no matter how long it takes.Welcome to the only bipartisan investigation of the Internal Revenue Service in town. The group consists of roughly half a dozen staffers from both Chairman Orrin Hatch’s committee roster and that of ranking member Ron Wyden. They have become chummy over the last few years. Republican and Democratic aides meet regularly to share “hot docs” and observations from their individual perusals. As one aide put it, “There’s no ‘hide the ball’ going on.”
By John O. McGinnisMs. Hollis-Brusky notes that the key belief of this “epistemic community” is originalism—the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted according to its meaning at the time of enactment. While that view dates back to Chief Justice John Marshall in the early 19th century, it is true that, by the middle of the 20th, it had fallen into disrepute in the academy and disuse at the Supreme Court. The great virtue of “Ideas With Consequences” is the way in which it traces the Federalist Society’s revival of originalism and the effects of this revival on legal debate and the direction of the court.In four topics of contention—campaign-finance regulation, state sovereignty, the Commerce Clause and the Second Amendment—Ms. Hollis-Brusky shows how members of the Federalist Society have offered incisive critiques of existing law and suggested originalist alternatives to settled interpretations. Until the 1980s, for instance, the general view was that the Second Amendment protected only a collective right to maintain a militia. Supporters of that view pointed to the amendment’s preamble: “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” They took this phrasing to mean that the “right to keep and bear arms” was to be exercised only for the purpose of assembling a citizen-army.
By Paul KaneSenate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced Friday morning that he would not seek re-election in 2016, citing the lingering injuries from a violent accident on New Year’s Day that has left his vision impaired in his right eye.Reid, 75, was already being targeted by Republicans after five terms in the Senate and likely faced one of the more difficult elections of any incumbent in November 2016. His departure at the end of the term will set off a scramble among his top lieutenants to succeed one of the longest serving floor leaders in Senate history, whose legacy is likely to be very intertwined with President Obama’s for his ability to shepherd the Affordable Care Act and other key Obama initiatives into law.
By Paul SingerIn April 2006, she spoke to 3,000 people for what was billed as the “inaugural Doherty-Granoff Forum on Women Leaders” at Brown University. She rapped the George W. Bush administration for its flawed response to Hurricane Katrina, its “resistance” to scientific evidence and “the largest cut to education in the history of the Department of Education.”But the speech was not the first in a regular series. It was the only Doherty-Granoff forum until senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett delivered the second in 2011. The forum was arranged by Ellen Doherty-Granhoff and husband Michael Granoff, longtime Clinton donors who paid Brown to host the event.Taxpayers paid $1,400 for charter airfare for Clinton and her staff to Providence, R.I., because the speech was an “official” event. Since her campaign chipped in to cover the costs of a fundraiser in Rhode Island the same day, the trip fit within the rules that allow lawmakers — and presidents — to mix political and official events on their itineraries.As Clinton gears up for an expected presidential campaign, her Senate travel records show a sophisticated strategic use of official resources in advance of her last presidential campaign. USA TODAY reported earlier this month that Clinton ramped up her use of taxpayer-funded charters in advance of her 2006 re-election and 2008 presidential campaign, while no other 2008 contenders in the Senate did so.
By Chris MoodyThis election season, nearly every word uttered by presidential candidates during stump speeches will be piped directly into the offices of their opponents in real time. For the first time, live-streaming services are small and inexpensive enough to use on a large scale. While reporters and campaigns rush to adopt live-streaming apps to broadcast directly from the campaign trail using their phones and other devices, groups that specialize in political tracking and dirt-digging are investing in the technology to share video footage they can use to degrade the opposition.In the 2016 presidential election, this $295 red box from LiveStream.com that the tracker used to feed the Santorum clip could be a game-changer. Opposition research — which often drives campaign narratives, defines public perceptions and sinks competitors — thrives on speed. And it’s harder to get faster and more efficient than live-stream video.This thirst for speed derives from a basic tenant about news cycles that every campaign operative knows well: When you’re the first source of information — whether it’s feeding clips to the press or posting on social media — you have the best chance of framing that news to fit your interests.
By Ken DixonTen years after the Rowland scandals embarrassed the state and sent lawmakers soul searching, Democrats are poised to relax restrictions, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano said during a news conference.The lawmakers charged that GOP proposals for tighter campaign financing were left out of the legislation that will be the subject of a public hearing Friday before the policy-writing Government Administration & Elections Committee.“On the eve of this hearing, we are here to reiterate what we think is very important in the deal and the promise we made to the state of Connecticut 10 years ago when we told them if you subsidize and pay for these elections we promise you sunshine and clean elections,” said Klarides, R-Derby. “This bill that we see coming up tomorrow does none of that.”
By John HagemanBISMARCK — North Dakota Democratic lawmakers have requested an opinion from the North Dakota attorney general on whether federal laws and regulations prohibiting foreign campaign contributions apply to statewide, legislative and local candidates.The request, which was delivered to the attorney general’s office Tuesday, comes after it was revealed that state Sen. Lonnie Laffen, R-Grand Forks, reported a nearly $2,000 campaign contribution from a Canadian businessman last year. Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, and House Minority Leader Kent Onstad, D-Parshall, said they are not asking for Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to “draw any factual conclusions with regard to that specific case.”While state law doesn’t specifically prohibit foreign contributions, the Federal Election Campaign Act states that it’s illegal for a foreign national to make a financial contribution in connection with a federal, state or local election, the opinion request states.
By John DillonBefore Sorrell sued Corren, the former candidate sued Sorrell in federal court. That suit seeks a ruling that the party’s email was not a contribution, and that Sorrell’s suit demands excessive punishment.Franco said if Sorrell’s suit is successful, candidates will be discouraged from seeking public financing.“No other candidate should be subject to this kind of bullying that Dean has been put through,” he said. “They would not go through public financing. They would be out of their mind.”