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Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,30 days | from the business-as-usual dept.

Government 284

An anonymous reader writes "The numbers tell the story — in votes and dollars. On Wednesday, the House voted 217 to 205 not to rein in the NSA's phone-spying dragnet. It turns out that those 217 'no' voters received twice as much campaign financing from the defense and intelligence industry as the 205 'yes' voters."

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*Sigh* (5, Insightful)

M3.14 (1616191) | 1 year,30 days | (#44420957)

Seriously. Did anyone expect any other result? Money talks everywhere.

Re:*Sigh* (5, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | 1 year,30 days | (#44420999)

And sadly most americans are too busy voting for the next american idol champion to even understand that the people that they vote into office are being bribed into removing more and more of our freedoms. The media has done their job well, that is they have actively assisted in the dumbing down of america.

Re:*Sigh* (5, Insightful)

kthreadd (1558445) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421329)

Tha'ts pretty much what has happened everywhere else too. That doesn't make it right of course, but it's hardly a problem that is centric to America.

Re:*Sigh* (5, Insightful)

trendzetter (777091) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421455)

It's the American influence, indeed the US is central to the global unrestricted power of corporations.

Ecuador (5, Interesting)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421359)

The media has done their job well, that is they have actively assisted in the dumbing down of america.

You are correct, but lets be clear: "The Media" is overwhelmingly dominated by corporations, and it is not just Americas problem. Those corporations are overwhelmingly interconnected with the interests of a vast array of other unrelated businesses, be it just advertising revenue or outright arms of the same corporation. The mass corporate media is using FUD/muddying the waters/dumbing down just enough to make the majority of voters for political reasons, they are doing so because it is good business for other arms of their corporation and their partners.

This is also the reason the mass worldwide corporate media react so violently, distort the facts as far as to turn them upside down, make unfounded extreme accusations when any country or individual calls out the massive, obviously society destroying conflicts of interest that we have today in corporate media. Imagine what the worlds media combined do when a country starts to pass media and airspace legislation to even up the playing field with more to share the space with social organizations (say 33% government channels, 33% private companies with no other business interests in country, 33% to social groups and organizations)? Well no need to imagine, we have a good example: Ecuador [zcommunications.org] . If your first reaction to naming Ecuador as a shining example is that you start frothing at the mouth, wanting to post AC to educate me on "the human rights abuses", "censorship", "repression"... etc etc of Ecuador - then you are knee-jerk reacting, a product of the pervasive mass media dumbing down we are talking about here. There are even " international press freedom organizations" lining up to condemn the country - all of them with dubious shady origins when you look into the details and all of them making claims that dont add up when you look critically into the facts. If your one of those then you owe it to yourself to read the link provided and do a bit of searching outside of mass media channels on this topic. Ecuador is the only country I know of that is attempting to tackle front on the conflict of interest that dominates mass media today (Apart from some organizations - Wiklleaks Party is trying to make it part of their election campaign in Australia, see "Can we trust the media" [kellietranter.com] ).

For example Rafael Correa told a well known Spanish interviewer Anita Pastor, and a paraphrase, "How could we reform the banking system when 80% of the countries media was owned by banks". As an aside, Anita Pastor during the course of the interview claimed that the worlds press was free and independent. In a stroke of irony she was fired shortly after by an incoming government due to asking the ministers uncomfortable questions during the election campaign. The same government and the other major party in Spain has now passed decrees in true American style,that all election interviews will be controlled, with controlled questions in a controlled marketing directed act. They have even changed the government controlled media so that all stories pass by them before being published. Just like nearly every other western country now. Free press, indeed.

Re:Ecuador (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421501)

Interesting. Edward Snowden applied for Asylum there, and also from the link:

The reality? The new [Ecuadorian] law mandates that corporate media be reduced to a third of the market. Public media will make up one-third and non-profit, community media will make up the other third. This means the media will no longer be almost totally dominated by corporate interests and popular sectors will gain previously closed-off access to the media via community outlets.

The law also bans “media lynching” ? in other words, concerted campaigns of character assassination ? along with any overt political stance, especially in election reporting.

The authority charged with making these judgments is not simply an office of the presidency, as suggested by Time and The Economist. It includes representatives from provincial governments, cultural groups and universities.

Re:Ecuador (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421541)

You are correct, but lets be clear: "The Media" is overwhelmingly dominated by corporations, and it is not just Americas problem.

"The Media" is a collection of corporations. That is the definition. (Or rather, does it matter if the company that sells the news is incorporated?) If you want "the news" to not be dominated with "the media", then you do this by talking to people.

Re:Ecuador (1)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421577)

Sorry your right. I meant to say "interconnected corporations" or corporations with conflicts of interest. - not that corporations per se are bad for media. Also letting mass media information market "news" when it is not news is very controversial (see "Fox News Has a First Amendment Right to Lie – Updated" for a lawyers take [librarygrape.com] ).

Re:Ecuador (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421545)

Also interesting considering media here leaves Ecuador out of the list when it names the countries that have offered Snowden asylum. FTFL [zcommunications.org] :

Free and independent media?

The most striking aspect of the campaign against Ecuador is that the corporate-owned “free and independent” media these outlets wish to defend can be seen to work in unison to generate timely propaganda against “official enemies” ? such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Assange and Snowden.

This is why the discourse of “free press” against “autocratic governments” needs to be questioned.

Corporations are just as willing to prosecute libel suits as governments. Broadcasters can be, and often are, threatened with the cancellation of lucrative advertising contracts for showing critical news and documentaries.

In Australia for instance, GetUp recently had a paid advertisement detailing Woolworths’ ownership of poker machines pulled from Channel Seven without explanation.

In its reporting on Snowden, Time wrote that Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua ? the left-wing alliance supporting Assange and Snowden ? “sport some of Latin America’s more checkered human-rights records”. In reality, this claim holds no weight unless all of the US’s allies in the region are excluded.

Re: *Sigh* (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421431)

American idol was months ago

Now it's the Penant race in baseball and football is starting soon. Add some news from the basketball offseason

Re:*Sigh* (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421073)

Do you think that the defense industry should support those that oppose them?

I mean, okay if you disagree with people, but the whole correlation / causation thing I think is backwards. I think there is a causation, but the lawmakers thought a certain way -> therefore they were paid money.

Re:*Sigh* (5, Interesting)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421245)

Do you think that the defense industry should support those that oppose them?

I mean, okay if you disagree with people, but the whole correlation / causation thing I think is backwards. I think there is a causation, but the lawmakers thought a certain way -> therefore they were paid money.

No, I don't think the defense industry should support those who oppose them. I also don't think politicians care about the issue at all - they care more about getting elected than about governing. Let's say that the No voters felt that what is being doing is truly necessary - I would consider that better than the alternative (they don't care or don't think it is necessary, but are doing it for the money). Because there might be a way to change their mind into thinking that voting Yes is the better alternative.

Right now, I think that the only way to change their mind is to throw more cash at them than the other side - which is something that is beyond most people's abilities (well, the third option is that people wake up and let the politician know that voting No is something that will bite them the next election, but we all know that isn't going to happen in enough numbers to make a difference. I wish I could be more optimistic about the chance of that happening, but I'm not).

I don't think they were paid because they thought a certain way - I think they were paid because the politician wants the money. No point in preaching to the choir - if the politician already believed it was necessary, there would be no need to pay them. It is those who don't care that need the most persuasion.

Re:*Sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421403)

if the politician already believed it was necessary, there would be no need to pay them.

The money is used for their election... if they don't have money, they don't advertise enough, people don't vote for them, someone who has different views ends up in office.

Re:*Sigh* (5, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421349)

You are right. But if there is any doubt why lawmakers are making their decisions it should be removed. No lawmaker should be receiving money directly or indirectly from those who their laws affect, it's a recipe for corruption at worst and reasonable doubt at best.

Re:*Sigh* (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421521)

Do you think that the defense industry should support those that oppose them?

No, but I don't think the defense industry should support anyone else either.

Well, it is our fault (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421157)

We keep telling people to follow the money. Our lawmakers took our advice, they are following the money.

Re:*Sigh* (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421189)

"Campaign financing". They misspelled ILLEGAL BRIBERY, AN ACT OF TREASON, and punishable with 10 years of prison!

How the hell do you Americans just go "Oh well, it is financing for their campaign after all. And we know that money if what elections are all about. Everything is Ok over here."
Americans *love* to sue. So why aren't there at least 100 *million* Americans suing those criminals right fucking now?

Come-ON! You're better than this!
And this would be one of the rare occasions, where you all could go "'MERICA, FUCK YEAH!", and we Europeans would consider that awesome! Seriously. Go ahead. Flag waving and rock music blasting from a huge pickup truck; guys with flags around their foreheads blasting Gatling guns and girls with huge gigantic fake tits cheering for them; fatback fried in lard, battered, and fried in lard again; and all that stuff! (-; I'm joking a bit, but seriously, if you're put those bastards in prison, while doing it, and showed the world what the USA is all about, it would be OK.)

It boggles the mind...

Re:*Sigh* (1)

berashith (222128) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421523)

:)
YYYEEEEEEEHHHAAWWWW

The first problem is that the acts arent as illegal as you think, and it would be very difficult to even sure, let alone win. Now, it would make sense that these acts are illegal, but the guys taking the money are the same people that write the laws. And treason here is punishable by death, because we are freaking barbaric!

Re:*Sigh* (4, Insightful)

flyneye (84093) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421371)

Maybe it's time to quit or reorganize this business of a Senate and Congress. Make it corruption proof with life threatening pitfalls for underhanded activity. We would definitely get a different breed of politician. At this point I'd even settle for zealous nuts over the "professionals" we currently have raping us.

Re:*Sigh* (2)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421567)

These guys are bit closer to zealous nut then professionals. Last time I checked they'd only managed to get both houses to agree to 13 bills. Since they all claim to be convinced the Nation Is In Peril, it strikes me that pros should probably be passing more then one proposal every three weeks. They aren't likely to pass a budget, or a debt ceiling hike without extreme drama. I will be surprised if Federal employees get all their scheduled paychecks on time this year, and won't be stunned if the military gets caught in the gears for once. And nobody in the House seems to mind because they want ot be known as they guy who opposed Obama so strongly that veterans got screwed.

Keep in mind that in most cases underhanded activity is necessary to get something through Congress. Obamacare involved both the "Louisiana Purchase," and a "Cornhusker Kickback." Simply put there're so many veto points that if less then 90% of the country thinks something is a good idea it ain't happening, and when's the last time you heard of a major issue where 90% of the country agreed?

Re:*Sigh* (3, Insightful)

DMorritt (923396) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421473)

America - the best government money can buy.

and those 205 'yes' voters (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44420963)

will receive no cash from defense and intelligence gathering industries for the next election cycle.

Sure they will (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421373)

The industry can't afford to not fund people who's vote they may still need and may still buy if they give enough money. They will receive money as long as those industries have money to spend on buying political friends for their companies, regardless of who gets to be in power or even voted into office. It's not about betting on a single horse, it's about buying hay for all the horses, allowing you all area access into the racing track. The "real bribery" starts when friends and family members of congresspeople get business contracts from the companies that funded the campaigns. To get there, the companies first have to by their way into the political "race track" with campaign funding.

I must thank the NSA (0)

maliqua (1316471) | 1 year,30 days | (#44420965)

i no longer feel as alone when i express how fucking terrible the united states is, thank you for helping to destroy yourselves.
thank you for showing how deep the corruption goes.
thank you for not the 'intelligence' agency for my country

Re:I must thank the NSA (1)

maliqua (1316471) | 1 year,30 days | (#44420973)

not *being*
i fail at english

Re:I must thank the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421179)

Let me assure you that the entire rest of the world feels the same way you do. I'm from New Zealand - we all hate the US. So do the Australians.

It's just a shame our governments end up getting strong-armed by the USA - I mean seriously, wtf does the rest of the world think we're going to do? We've got a few dozen planes - not a single one of them is a fighter jet - and a few boats. The sad reality is that when the USA says "jump", this country is about 20 feet in the air before it has even thought about asking 'why'.

It's about time that the Western world was liberated from them. With force.

captcha: subsists

Re:I must thank the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421377)

Just to clarify, I'm NZ'er as well, and I can say although when I travelled through the US I found the people there mostly great, your foreign policies and global levels of political domination have not won friendship in that area. NZ could go on about region controls, copyright legislation drafted by US (literally, sadly, US dictates our own legislation and we don't have FTA like Australia, which in itself means things like FDA requirements override Australian legislation apparently). Most recently the rapid adoption of new legislation, lack of time in reviewing, against secretive activities make considered law hard... Is difficult to take things like law on "trust", when agencies have been proven recently to act outside the law (GCSB spying on domestic for example), and the law being rapidly changed is to make that legal and inline probably with similar efforts around the world :(

Re:I must thank the NSA (1)

1s44c (552956) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421397)

It's about time that the Western world was liberated from them. With force.

Force is the very worst way to do that. If you can get what you want without killing or dying it's better.

How about stop agreeing to let them put their military bases all over the place and stop giving them all our information? They have no business having records of every bank transfer and every phone call made in the rest of the world. They have no business abducting people from the streets of Europe and flying them around the world for water boarding whilst insisting that water boarding isn't actually torture. They should not be forcing NATO into invasions.

Re:I must thank the NSA (2, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421335)

thank you for showing how deep the corruption goes.

I don't think the corruption here is any deeper than anywhere else on average. The problem is that the dollar amounts and resulting influence are so much larger, and thats because fucking idiots keep finding excuses to forgive politicians that make the government bigger (hell, some even see a larger government as something to strive for.. fucking retards)

When you allow a bigger government, you get corruption on a larger scale. Every. Single. Fucking. Time. Ever. In. All. Of. History.

Re:I must thank the NSA (5, Interesting)

N1AK (864906) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421351)

When you allow a bigger government, you get corruption on a larger scale. Every. Single. Fucking. Time. Ever. In. All. Of. History.

What's so shocking here is that the corruption is so blatant. There's no attempt to hide it. It is, apparently, completely ok in America for politicians to vote based on financial support so why hide it?

There are downsides to 'big government' but to some extent strong government can control or limit corruption. It was recently a big story in the UK that a strategy advisor for the government had worked with a tobacco firm and thus might be behind the governments decision not to push for plain packaging. There was no evidence of anything improper but the possibility was a story. In the US you'd have, actually you have, tobacco firms etc funnelling large sums to your elected representatives directly to stop that kind of thing. The UK definitely isn't close to perfect but businesses appear to have considerably less influence here than in the US and we have far stronger government.

Re:I must thank the NSA (1)

Torvac (691504) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421429)

its legalized corruption, and no chance to have it any other way with this system. and the biggest problem is that it spreads like bad cancer, fucked up US policies defeat common sense around the world and open new ways to bring hell to everyone. and "your either with us or against us" ...

Time to chnage (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44420971)

And why is it, this type of bribery continues? And where are the Republicans standing up saying how they are out for your rights, while they cut unnecessary government? And the Dems, who continued with the path that the Rep, put into place, that are acting as if they had no idea that surveillance was taking place on non-terrorist citizens..

It is time for term limits, and prison time for lobbyists, and politicians that take bribes.

Re:Time to chnage (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421193)

I hear they took a vote on whether to allow bribery to continue too. Can you guess the result?

Re:Time to chnage (2)

91degrees (207121) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421355)

Actually, no.

The lawmakers don't benefit. It's essentially an arms race. The "bribery" comes in the form of campaign contibutions. They're committed to spending that money in order to win the election. Their opponents are forced to do the same. The net result is that the lawmakers and any challengers sacrifice some of their own power but the don't gain anything.

If they voted against this, then their ability to fight the election would be reduced but so would that of their opponents.

Re:Time to chnage (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421457)

On the contrary, it allows them to hire their family members and pay them far more than they are worth. They can hire their buddy's incompetent kid, who can't tie his own shoelaces, and pay him $250000 a year for doing nothing. Then when his political career is over, he gets hired by the people he helped on the way. The whole system is designed to allow corruption.

Never mind the info they are allowed to profit on, that if they were company employees would be considered insider trading [cnbc.com] . Instead it's just another profitable perk of being in office.

Re:Time to chnage (2)

sargon666777 (555498) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421357)

The reason the bribery continues is simple.. We didn't follow the instructions.. Declare independence.. Check... Fight war for independence.. Check.. Build new government.. Check.. Water the Tree of Liberty with the blood of tyrants and kings.. Oops.. forgot that step.. Our own founder Thomas Jefferson said this would happen.. The corruption in a society (and complacency) is a guarantee with a fresh "reset" every once and a while. Nobody wants a war, but trying politicians in courts of their own making with laws that they control under a constitution that is basically dead is just a joke..

This isn't democracy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44420977)

Our congress isn't free. Our congress isn't in the best interests of the people. Our congress is bought, and until the people take a stand nothing will ever change.

Re:This isn't democracy (5, Insightful)

Zimluura (2543412) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421095)

but isn't it stranger than that?
1) we get taxed
2) iirc ~20% federal goes towards defense spending.
3) then some fraction of that goes to defense contractors
4) some fraction of that goes to the defense contractors lobbying budget...
5) which they use to buy our lawmakers into purchasing more of their products for use against us...

Re:This isn't democracy (3, Insightful)

erikkemperman (252014) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421235)

True enough, you're paying for your own oppression.

Government is a business (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421467)

And like any business, the objective is profit. Ideology claims otherwise, but actions speak louder than words.

Observe their actions. Ignore their words. Only then will you understand the true motives of those in power.

Re:This isn't democracy (4, Insightful)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421159)

Hell, this isn't even a representative democracy, let alone a pure one. All those motherfuckers are representing is the almighty dollar, not We the People as the Constitution states that they are supposed to do. They have basically sold one of our most important amendments that was in our Bill of Rights for a quick personal fix of $$$. George Carlin said it best when he said that the U.S. government has been bought and sold a long time ago. They might as well take that money they obtained through bribery and use it to re-write the entire U.S. Constitution--by now it needs it more than ever, because at this point it's clear that all it is is a fucking joke and everyone in the government is just wiping their ass with it anyway, laughing all the way while everyone watches fucking American Idol or the latest knockoff.

Truly sad and fucking pathetic.

Congratulations America (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | 1 year,30 days | (#44420985)

Truly you have achieved the best government that money can buy...

Re:Congratulations America (2)

Bob_Who (926234) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421197)

Truly you have achieved the best government that money can buy...

You mean like GM makes the best car money can buy?

The sad thing is we pay top dollar even though we buy substandard value, hardly worth the price. I mean why be the richest guy on the block if you only wanna drive a Cadillac? Talk about low standards. Casting pearls before swine, or putting lipstick on pigs seems to be the extent of benefit we receive as a society from all our surplus wealth .

Whats the point of being the richest nation on earth if it fails to enrich the vast majority of its citizens? What else was the point of this nation's inception? We already had inequality to begin with, and certainly don't require a political process or economy to maintain that disparity.

Re:Congratulations America (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421273)

I thought "winner takes it all" fits well i US culture, no? From outside it looks like you have a major problem with your general attitude when it comes to competition and decision making.

You seem to think making compromises is a sign of weakness. Changing ones opinions is considered sneaky and sleazy instead of intelligent and smart. Pick your side and then everyone else is suddenly totally wrong, there is no middle ground. Your american dream is to be rich beyond belief, but you can't be super rich is everyone else is not poor, as you will always compare yourself to others. Invidual makes his own happiness, damn the others. You have to live in constant fear of the poor ones in you golden castles, when simply by spreading the wealth around would solve the problem. What are the super rich going to do with their wealth when they die anyways? Leave it to their kids? If they are smart they realize getting everything for free doesn't actually help their kids, but will eventually ruin them.

Re:Congratulations America (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421277)

Because good goverment isn't for sale. Ours is. Hence the current problem.

Correlation and causality (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421003)

What's the surprise?

These industries are more likely to fund people sympathetic to their point of view.
It doesn't indicate that the congressmen switched their votes based on the contribution or lack thereof.

Re:Correlation and causality (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421265)

What's the surprise?

The surprise is that "Campaign financing" is legal in a democracy. There are parts of the world where this sort of thing is outlawed. Politicians are paid - and paid well - from the tax money. They are not allowed to take money from others - that makes them criminals.

Less campaign financing is not a problem, because that works the same way for all politicians. And we get less 'campaigning' to put up with too. :-)

Re:Correlation and causality (1)

1s44c (552956) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421573)

Exactly. Politicians should be civil servants, they should serve the people who voted for them not the private interests that funded their campaign.

But how do you get from here to there? Do enough people believe that the system is wrong in order to vote in people that will change it? Even though the vast majority are easily distracted and don't understand or care about the issues? Even though most will vote out of fear of the other side of the Democrat/Republican alliance getting in?

I, for one, (0)

mandark1967 (630856) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421013)

welcome our smart-investing defense industry overlords who know how to get the most bang for their buck (figuratively speaking) when buying politicians

government privatized (2)

jjbarrows (958997) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421019)

good to see free market applied to governments - you go land of the free(market)

Er (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421027)

I think you might have just run into collinearity. The sort of people who vote against programs like this are the sort of people who aren't going to be in the good books of the defence industry to begin wtih.

That said: if democracy is so bad (and it is), get rid of it. What are you so scared of?

Re:Er (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421289)

Forward bribery vs backwards bribery:

"Vote for this bill and we'll give you money." - illegal.
"We donate to politicians that support us. So if you vote for this bill, you'll get a contribution next election cycle. If you vote against it, we'll donate to your rival." - Perfectly legal.

It's still effectively bribery, but it's a 'polite' form that stays on the right side of the law.

One solution would be to place a cap on the donations that one company of individual could make, but then you'd soon see dodgy accounting being used to work around it - things like companies giving a few thousand employees 'bonuses' on the implicit understanding they must donate to a certain candidate, or creating lots of semi-independent front companies who can each make the maximum donation.

Re:Er (2)

Arker (91948) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421383)

"One solution would be to place a cap on the donations that one company of individual could make, but then you'd soon see dodgy accounting being used to work around it - things like companies giving a few thousand employees 'bonuses' on the implicit understanding they must donate to a certain candidate, or creating lots of semi-independent front companies who can each make the maximum donation."

There's really no way to enforce such a law effectively across the board. In order to have any deterrent value, the penalties would have to be draconian, and the chance of the law winding up tyrannical (by coming into conflict with the first amendment.)

Individuals should, and must, have a right to express themselves by spending their own money on speech. Some individuals being wealthier than others, that is unequal, and those that worship equality will never quit moaning about it, but those that place liberty higher than equality know that for the greater good (the first amendment, in the US context) that's unavoidable.

BUT that doesnt mean that a corporation gets any rights qua corporation. The free speech rights of each employee and each stockholder and each officer personally can be preserved without inventing a new person here - the corporation is simply a legal fiction created by the state to begin with. This is a big part of the problem I am afraid, but nowhere near all of it - we were well down this road before that ruling.

Simply the Best (1)

some old guy (674482) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421029)

We in the USA are blessed by the Great Invisible Puppeteer in the Sky with the best government money can possibly buy.

As a foreigner (5, Insightful)

lesincompetent (2836253) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421037)

Isn't it exactly how congress works in America, the country that legalized bribery?

Re:As a foreigner (2)

korbulon (2792438) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421081)

Legalized bribery ain't nothing new: selling indulgences, rent-seeking - hell, there's probably a wikipedia article about it.

What's so awful is that they're pissing on the very things which were supposed to make America different and "better". Certain tenets were supposed to remain inviolate, and if they were violated it was with the understanding that it was just that: a violation, an illegal act. But no more. That's what's so disturbing: that this shit is apparently completely legal. It's horribly ironic that this violation of the constitution is being perpetrated under the government of a former constitutional lawyer no less.

I guess we should have known better. About a lot of things.

Re:As a foreigner (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421135)

In this particular case, made legal by the Patriot Act and "pardoned" by the other party.

Re:As a foreigner (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421223)

Happily, the problem can be solved.

The Right of Revolution is a fairly fundamental concept. It even formed the basis of the United States' Declaration of Independence in 1776. So while it may not be enshrined within the Constitution, it's an option.

Somehow, I don't think even the Republicans would have the stomach for the open slaughter of US citizens in the streets, were such a revolution to be initiated.

And I'm sure that the rest of the world would be willing to aid the American people - France did it once, and would probably do it again. As would almost all (probably all, actually) other Western countries - we're sick and tired of the US Government trying to tell us how to eat, live, shop and die (and most of the dying I'm talking about would be in the US-initiated wars dating back to at least Vietnam.)
.
captcha: excuse

Re:As a foreigner (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421313)

Somehow, I don't think even the Republicans would have the stomach for the open slaughter of US citizens in the streets, were such a revolution to be initiated.

Feel free to organize such a thing. I'm sure that you aren't going to be labeled a terrorist and put in custody for a couple of years.

Re:As a foreigner (1)

91degrees (207121) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421361)

It's only an option is enough people agree at the same time that it's time for a revolution.

A lot of people simpyl don't care.

Re:As a foreigner (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421381)

And I'm sure that the rest of the world would be willing to aid the American people - France did it once, and would probably do it again. As would almost all (probably all, actually) other Western countries

Most of the rest of the world isn't willing even to help Snowden so I wouldn't count on it to assist any kind of revolution.

Re:As a foreigner (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421547)

Your naiivity is so cute. Your inattention to history is not.

Re:As a foreigner (2)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421167)

Keep in mind that the difference between $41k from the defense industry and $18k isn't actually that big a deal to a Congressman. A Congressman whose doing it right raises the $23k difference every month. Since only 205 of them voted against the bill, as long as Civil Libertarians pony up $5 million they'll actually turn a profit.

So you've basically got it backwards. They got $41k because they were going after the tough-on-terror voters who actually like the NSA program (support goes up from 30%ish to 40%ish if you mention it's supposed to be looking for terrorists). The others got $18k because they were going after the kind of voter who hates the NSA program.

Also, keep in mind that unless you live in India all these fundraising numbers are supposed to be an order of magnitude greater then you're used to. US Congressional districts average 750,000 people, and there are only two serious candidates in each district. Which means that if Congressional candidates spend $0.50 or $1.50 trying to communicate with every individual in the district they're gonna have a $500k budget. Since they have to do this every two years they have to raise $250k a year. Most countries have much smaller districts (both Canada and the UK are about 100k), more parties (and thus more candidates), so spending per voter per election is about the same for a lower house candidate in any industrialized country.

What's different about the US is that a) elections happen every two years (most countries it's four, altho the Aussies have House elected every other year), and b) we also have Senate races and a Presidential race all going on at the same time.

Wedge issue (2)

korbulon (2792438) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421039)

From a purely political perspective, the surveillance-against-citizens promises to be an important wedge issue in the next election cycle. Voters are divided on it, even the politicians are divided on it. We'll just have to wait and see, as unsatisfying as that sounds: in a representative democracy that's how these things are "corrected"... or not.

I hope they just pound the hell out of the people who voted against this bill, be they R or D. I fear that it will all be forgotten one year from now.

This is how the world ends not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Re:Wedge issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421141)

be they R or D

Mod parent up! Getting caught up in R vs D is just what those people who appose what you think want!

No shit... (4, Insightful)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421047)

The Defense Industry lobbyists were smart enough to know which candidates actually liked them, therefore they gave twice the money to those candidates. It's almost like the articles is saying they actually ask candidates what they think BEFORE they cut a bunch of checks.

If you look at the actual numbers the ridiculousness of the "campaign contributions as bribes" theory gets even clearer. A House race costs at least $500k. In extreme cases (ie: Bachman) they cost millions. That's $700 a day for a cheap race. You'd rather have $40k from defense contractors then $18k, but the difference is only 32 days of fundraising for the guy with the cheap $500k race. Somebody like Bachman brings in $22k in under a week. Note that by international standards $500k is a really cheap election for the 750,000-person districts we have. Canadian pols spend in the $50k-$100k range, but a) there are generally three serious candidates in every riding so that works out to $150k-$300k per riding, and each riding only has 100,000 people in it.

In other words if you're a Congressman you pick a side. If you pick the anti-NSA side you get geek donations, grassroots buzz from Civil Libertarians, and a little defense industry cash (Honeywell et al. want to maintain a relationship with you, so you do get that $18k). If you pick the pro-NSA-side you get to be tough on bad guys on TV, and you get a little more defense industry cash. You do not change a side just because somebody offers you a lot of money, because that would look terrible on TV ("He's an EVIL FLIP-FLOPPER"), the new voters you were appealing to wouldn't actually vote for you because they wouldn't trust you, and the ones you stabbed in the back are gonna hate your guts.

Since the GOP won the last go-round tough-on-bad-guys got more votes then Civil Libertarians.

Re:No shit... (2)

Xest (935314) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421131)

"If you pick the anti-NSA side you get geek donations, grassroots buzz from Civil Libertarians, and a little defense industry cash (Honeywell et al. want to maintain a relationship with you, so you do get that $18k)."

In 2008 wasn't there a bunch of buzz about how Obama's campaign was funded far and away by individual donations over corporate donations? It was the little guy that funded Obama's campaign IIRC. Shame it doesn't seem to help much but I'd wager it's because Obama told people what they wanted to hear which at least suggests that the average joe donation is an under-exploited market for a candidate that wants to support the people not corporations.

Re:No shit... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421195)

2008 was a new generation of voters on both sides that thought their idealism would carry the day and wipe opposing views out of the way. Then the Tea Party and President Obama got into office, and their supporters found out how the real world works. Those that had been around a while (including Obama himself), seemed less surprised.

Re:No shit... (2)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421283)

I don't think Obama broke any records last year, but he still had an awful lot of money from small individual donations.

Small individual donations are actually the way all the biggest-money pols make their targets. Personal donations max out at $2,600, and both corporations and PACs are limited to $5,000. SuperPACs can spend unlimited amounts, but they are banned from actually talking to a campaign about strategy, and tend to be run by political novices; so dollar-for-dollar they have so far been extremely ineffective. The way to rake in the donations is be an extre partisan jackass. There are a lot of people out there who just want to stick it to the liberals/conservatives, and will donate $50 to the last person they saw on MSNBC/Fox comparing Boehnor/Obama to Hitler.

Technically this story precedes the SuperPAC era, but it should show you the problems with depending on a SuperPAC to bail out a campaign. Prior to one of Bush's tax cut votes Maine's Olympia Snowe was on-the-fence. So the Club for Growth ran a http://archive.bangordailynews.com/2003/04/24/snowe-ad-puzzles-viewers-experts-tax-cut-advocates-attack-moderates/ [bangordailynews.com] >snarky ad comparing her opposition to France's cowardice in opposing the Iraq War. Problem is Maine's 23% ethnic French. It's also in independent New England, so demanding fealty to the White house isn;t exactly great political tactics.

Re:No shit... (2)

Phrogman (80473) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421267)

So essentially your politicians are a bunch of money-grubbing whores who try to get all the cash they can to ensure they keep their jobs. Moreover, because you have very frequent elections, they probably spend a lot of their time engaged in turning another lobby-group/corporate trick in order to keep the money flowing in so they can stay in power.

Does this leave them any time to actually try to do the things they were ostensibly elected to do?

Re:No shit... (3, Informative)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421367)

Depends.

According to the Founders the federal government's job was to be exactly centralized enough to keep other countries out, therefore it's designed to include an intricate set of Checks and Balances that make it virtually impossible to actually do anything. Constant fundraising is an excellent additional check because it requires they talk to "the people" (aka: that set of people interested in politics, and with sufficient disposal income to donate) instead of law-making.

According to the voters Congressman are magically endowed with a super-human understanding of the intricacies of both Federal law and public policy, therefore they not only have the time to read every bill they vote on (including all bills and amendments for everything that comes before their committee), they also magically understand all it's implications without help from their staffs. They are also able to instantly process any request that comes into their office, and respond with exactly the right combination of information, humor, and grace instantaneously. Which leaves them plenty of time to hammer out budget deals on reasonable terms that don't entirely please anyone, but give everyone a little of what they want. If half of Congress wants to fire all federal employees, and the other half wants to hire thousand more; not to worry Congressman have been granted the wisdom to square the circle by some clause of the Constitution or other. The $2 Billion we spend on staffers to do all this for the MBAs and Lawyers who dominate the Congress is just wasted money and if only we got rid of it there would never be a deficit ever again, everyone could get a tax cut, and we could triple Social Security.

Back in the real world, there's no way in hell an MBA understands a law even until a staffer explains it to him with powerpoint. There's no way a lawyer understands how a law will work in the real world (as opposed to the glorified debating societies we call "courts") until a staffer explains it to him using a bizarre combination of very small words and Latin. Since the country is polarized, almost all of them are in districts where representing the district means mindlessly parroting an ideological line. In practical terms the only thing the constant fundraising actually does is force them to end their conversations with the phrase "And I need money. My staff thinks you can give $500, so make the check out to..."

It's called Free Speech (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421053)

Heard of it? That I can spend more than you is not wrong, it is MY RIGHT to free speech. Get a job! Losers!

Empires fall (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421061)

Dear americans, your empire is going to fall. Not today or tomorrow. But - younger of you may live to see it. Those of you who visited history lessons about not-america (also called "rest of the world") may notice the pattern: Roman Empire, British Empire, Russian Empire and so on.
Yes, your country have lot of weapons. Guess what - romans had it too, russians still have. And yes, there are still many scientists live in US. Guess what - it may not matter that match.
It may end in bloody conflict (see fall of Rome) or as peaceful dismount (see fall of Soviet Union) or as something in-between (British Empire). But - it will end. If history teaches us something, it's "too big army is bad for you".
You guessed right - US military (and NSA is also considered military by us in "rest of the world") is way too big for US economy to support. Since US have not a single border with enemy states, it's army supposed to be about 1/1000 of current size. Yep, you read right: one hundredth. No, you don't need carriers. And no, you don't need that many nuclear submarines. And no, you probably don't need tanks AT ALL, nobody going to invade you any time soon.
And finally - no, world don't need you as policemen.

Re:Empires fall (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421079)

Really? Cuz I read One one thousandth =p Anyone got a list of the 217?

Re:Empires fall (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421209)

Here is a list of those who vote for and against

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-07-24/these-are-217-people-who-voted-preserve-nsa-surveillance

Re:Empires fall (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421171)

They're stuck, would you want that many PTSD individiuals walking your city with Stand Your Ground laws?

Re:Empires fall (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421227)

about 1/1000 of current size. Yep, you read right: one hundredth.

I think I have to sue my mathematics teacher: He taught me that 1/1000 is one thousandth. Now I learn it's one hundredth. Big difference.

Re:Empires fall (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421257)

Well of course this and all other empires will fall. It's basically the second law of thermodynamics applied to societies. The more relevant question is whether the empire which replaces it will also have panopticon spying on its citizens. And my confidence in answering 'yes' is at least 99%. Spying is the future.

I'm not saying I like it, but I think we must focus on the next question, the question of what the state may do with the information they gather. Will we criminalize certain thoughts, opinions and "traitorous" ideologies? Doing so may be hard to resist now it's very easy to identify the people who have them. I think that de-facto outlawing thought-crimes is the real step over the cliff - not the spying itself. We should focus our political energies on making sure that step is never taken, and insofar as it has been taken already, walking it back.

Re:Empires fall (1)

Lennie (16154) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421339)

Openness/transparency (like the article) and facts is the only thing that could still help.

I guess we'll never see this facts on US TV.

OK, they are going to fail.

Military industrial complex (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421105)

We were warned about the dangers of the military industrial complex by one of our best presidents. Eisenhower kept this nation out of trouble (pointless wars and political suicide pacts) and allowed us to enjoy our peace dividends. We should have listened and remembered.

Re:Military industrial complex (3, Insightful)

Lennie (16154) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421325)

I didn't have any mod points for this, but if I did, I would have voted you up.

This is exactly what I was thinking about too.

Many US politicians even presidents (or their family) are involved in oil/energy, guns, medicine for example.

Before they are a politician, they work at these companies and after they've been a politician, they go back working for the same companies.

Anyone hear of the phrase "conflict of interest" ?

You get what you pay for.... (3, Insightful)

Bob_Who (926234) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421107)

....that still doesn't make it a democracy.

As long as our "representational" government is hijacked to represent the majority of dollars instead of people and of free speech, then we've completely strayed away from any sort of democracy at all. I don't know what you call it, but it ain't democracy.

Clearly our voices no longer equate to a level democratic process. Though we may be born equal, our influence under the law extends with our wealth, regardless of its source or of the massive disparity among the citizens.

Whats the point of voting in an auction that always goes to the highest bidder? Nostalgia or denial? We might as well still have royalty because it sure works like a nobility.

Re:You get what you pay for.... (4, Insightful)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421389)

....that still doesn't make it a democracy.

As long as our "representational" government is hijacked to represent the majority of dollars instead of people and of free speech, then we've completely strayed away from any sort of democracy at all. I don't know what you call it, but it ain't democracy.

Clearly our voices no longer equate to a level democratic process. Though we may be born equal, our influence under the law extends with our wealth, regardless of its source or of the massive disparity among the citizens.

Whats the point of voting in an auction that always goes to the highest bidder? Nostalgia or denial? We might as well still have royalty because it sure works like a nobility.

The problem with Citizens United is that the court failed to recognize 2 key facts:

1. The law is not "one dollar, one vote", it's one person one vote. Corporations don't get extra votes per se, but they can afford much bigger megaphones to speak at their representatives with.

2. Giving corporations a "vote" is un-democratic. The corporation is comprised of individuals. Thus, the individuals who control the corporation effectively have an extra vote beyond their individual vote. As a corollary, 98% of the employees of a corporation may oppose a certain piece of legislation, but corporations are not in the least democratic, so the "corporate vote" can be - and often is - directly counter to the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the individuals employed there.

sh17 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421115)

Obtain a co47 of [goat.cx]

Just wait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421119)

It's only gonna bet bigger until there is some grievous abuse of this intelligence to someone famous, popular, and beyond reproach.

CAPTCHA: tempest

there is a name for that (1)

FudRucker (866063) | 1 year,30 days | (#44421153)

it is called fascism

Re:there is a name for that (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421233)

No, fascism is something completely different.
This is simply called corruption - and is unfortunately legal in the US, where people think "campaign donations" aren't bribes.

Re:there is a name for that (3, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421307)

yes it is fascism, the defense industry is out of control, it is exactly the result of ignoring Dwight Eisenhower's farewell speech that included a warning of the Military/Industrial complex, the private sector that stands to make HUGE profits from the contracts of this defense & intelligence industry has bribed these politicians to vote in their favor,

they should all be hanging from lamp-posts like Benito Mussolini was

What a shocker... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,30 days | (#44421201)

Hands up everyone who is surprised by this, I have a bridge for sale...

It is time for real change (2)

portwojc (201398) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421281)

I'm just going to repeat this until either it starts or someone makes a valid argument against it. The states need to call a constitutional convention and fix problems like these. Imagine term limits for Congress - the state reps would pass that because it would mean more churn and a chance for them to get there. Problem one solved. That's just for starters. Fixing problems like what this post is about would be on the table too.

In this day and age of social media and groups who have nothing better to do this should be easy to push right to the front. Just have to work hard to not have it be subverted. Just imagine how pissed off this would make Congress & the President. The founding fathers would be cheering! The world would see how it's really done right.

Re:It is time for real change (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421493)

You're incredibly] naive.

Term limits don't help. The reason the current Congress is dysfunctional is that most of it's guys got elected in the past six years, and they don't have any experience in the herculean task of getting Texas and California to agree. They honestly think that getting nothing done is better for their political futures then reforming the immigration system and passing a budget because all their political experience is from the last three elections, and in those elections a lot more people lost because they didn't suck up to the base enough then lost because they sucked up too much.

They also increase corruption exponentially. For example in the early 90s Michigan passed term limits. In 2001 two Senate terms had passed, so the entire Senate was term-limited. Their political careers were over. So they got their buddies on the compensation commission to recommend a 36% pay increase [toledoblade.com] , and refused to bring it to the Senate floor. At the time pay raises had to be voted down by both houses to not take effect, and all pre-term limits Senators were on a pension scheme where your benefit is based on your last earnings, so essentially these wily old goats got themselves a huge raise for life and they didn't have to vote for it. Term Limits mean your legislators are exactly smart enough to really screw you over, but have no reason to not screw you.

Another example: let's say you're a mediocre Representative. Due to term limits you can't stay a Representative. But you're mediocre, so you ain't gonna be a Senator. Some lobbyist comes through and tells you about all this pork-barrel spending he is supporting, and (incidentally) his firm is seriously considering hiring a guy with your exact resume to a six-figure job the month you get termed-out.

Hell, let's say you're a first-term guy because the previous guy got term-limited. The President has an idea that annoys a powerful group in your district. Most of your voters have barely heard of you, but they have heard of (and respect) the UAW/NRA/whoever. You think the President's idea is great. Do you have the balls to fight the UAW/NRA/whoever, and how do you win? If you're John Dingell it's easy. People voted for you, because they like you. If you're the new guy who got elected because he was the one spewing the exact UAW/NRA/whatever line it's not easy.

News flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421291)

People and corporations donate money to candidates who represent their views and interests. It's the same with progressives like me who donated money to Elizabeth Warren.

They're ALL whores, on every issue (3, Interesting)

argStyopa (232550) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421341)

It's not just 'secret NSA spying'.

Tort reform? You'll find the naysayers got at LEAST 2x from the legal community PACs and lobbyists.

More loans and grants for education, or student loan forgiveness? You'll find that the ones in favor got piles of money from Teacher Unions.

Minimum wage? Unionization? Defense spending?
As the old saying goes: Follow the Money.

opensecrets.org.

Re:They're ALL whores, on every issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421555)

Tort reform isn't going to happen. Yes, the legal community is a strong lobby, but tort reform won't bring the results expected. Tort reform might lower costs 2.5% (on the high side). Even Republicans admit that that's the added overhead for tort cases. So it's a better talking point than something to do. Right now, politicians can claim that if they could just get rid of the stupid lawyers they'd save us all a lot of hassle and money. I live in a state with tort reform limitations. I don't see any difference than when I lived in a state without. You probably live in a state with tort reform already (more than 50% of the states have tort reform) and don't even know it, because the results aren't that amazing.

Not bribery in the obvious sense (1)

Livius (318358) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421365)

Politicians are simply being reward for having the 'right' beliefs. It's not about buying someone's vote once; it's a long-term investment. Lobbies know that it is not necessary to find someone willing to vote against their conscience - they find the politician who already *wants* to vote the 'right' way because they are ideological or misinformed or, in extreme cases, outright mentally ill, and shower that person with so much money that a reasonable or patriotic candidate can't compete. By the time that someone becomes a legislator anyone willing to defend their own constituents or even their country has long since been weeded out.

Paging Captain Obvious (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | 1 year,29 days | (#44421395)

How is this even a story?

Double negative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421417)

From this article, it looks like the lawmakers who voted "no" to NOT stop the NSA's phone-spying dragnet received higher funds Why this complex sentence formation? How about "The 217 Lawmakers who supported continuation of NSA's phone-spying received higher campaign funding from defense and intelligence industries" ?

That would seem statistically significant (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421421)

So much correlation that their might be some causation involved.

The really perverse thing is that that the bribes from the defense contractors are payed with tax money from people who don't get comparable means for influencing their representatives into representing them.

Campaign Finance Reform MANDATORY (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#44421427)

A consideration:
* If you can't vote in the election, you cannot give money.
* A person's name is tied to the gift AND public.

That solves all sorts of issues, mainly so that politicians actually represent PEOPLE, not faceless corporations or generic-sounding PACs.
It also prevents outsiders from rigging an election. Locals only.

Of course, this will never happen, because the politicians will never vote to cut their incomes/perk budgets.

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