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Government The Almighty Buck United States Politics

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

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  • Re:*Sigh* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kwyj1b0 ( 2757125 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @06:19AM (#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.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @06:53AM (#44421341) Journal

    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.

  • by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @06:57AM (#44421351) Homepage

    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.

  • Ecuador (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @06:59AM (#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 []. 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" []).

    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.

  • by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:01AM (#44421635)

    You have things really backwards.

    These guys got financial support because they were pro-NSA from 2010-2012. Nobody should be surprised that they were still pro-NSA in 2013. It's not like you can send a Congressman $50k and buy his vote. He'll take your $50k, vote his heart, and if he voted against you he'll use your money to buy an ad trumpeting how uncorrupt he is.

    In the US you can't actually get large sums from a tobacco firm. You can get $5k. If they have a PAC you can get another $5k. Per PAC. The reason these NSA guys are up to the $40k range isn't that NSASpySoft cut a $40k check, it's that people working for NSASpySoft cut checks adding up to $40k. The pro-NSA guys got basically a month's fundraising from these folks, so it's not like anybody is worried about losing his next election bid if he pisses the NSA. They're worried that voting against the NSA would look weak on terror, which would piss of a certain segment of voters.

    SuperPACs complicate things because their donations are unlimited, but a) they can't co-ordinate with a candidate, b) they tend to be run by ideologues who don't understand how they sound to normal people, and c) they get charged commercial rates for ads (candidates get the lowest rate charged). So SuperPAC money didn't have much practical effect on last cycle's elections. They might fix that in 2014, but who knows.

  • Re:*Sigh* (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 1s44c ( 552956 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:36AM (#44421839)

    Laws affect everyone. So, can they receive any money at all?

    They should be paid wages by the government and they should be voted in or out by those who have an interest in the issues. They should not be running massive publicity campaigns.

  • Re:Ecuador (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @08:40AM (#44421861)

    True, but public media is a thin line of defense that is very quickly being eroded. Saying that state-run media is relatively free of corporate influence is like saying that their politicians and power brokers are relatively free of corporate influence... i.e, not by much if at all.

    You do not have to look far to see the cracks. I have already Mentioned Spain governments firing any reporter that steps out of party line - and in Spain the banks own the two main political parties, lock, stock, and barrel. BBCs behavior in the drum beating leading up to all the latest decade plus of middle east wars is worse than shameful - following Tony Blairs US set agenda to the T. In Australia the government cant cut the ABCs budget enough year after year, so now they might as well be a private interconnected company given that they have to go hat in hand to advertisers just to make basic broadcasting costs. New right wing goverment set to win big the next election there will probably be the final nail in the ABCs coffin.

  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @10:40AM (#44423239)

    So as a private person I want to buy an ad for a cause I believe in.

    And I want a pony.

    It happens to be that there are 2 major candidates, and the cause I believe in is also the main cause championed by one of those candidates. Will I be allowed to run the ad, even though in effect it is an ad for one of the candidates, even if that's not my intention?

    I would argue against being able to run such an ad because it appears to be an attempt to influence an election even if that was not the true intent. It is indistinguishable from an attempt to influence an election.

    How will you possibly define in law what kinds of ads indirectly benefit one candidate over another? If you can't, this is a huge loophole.

    With the duck test. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it's a duck. How about: "Any advertisement that would appear to a reasonable person to be an attempt to influence the outcome of an election shall be punishable by a fine of up to one milliion dollars and up to one year in prison." It's generally pretty obvious what sort of thing an advertisement is intended to sell.

    What if I run a news organization and I decide to give more favorable and extensive coverage of my favorite candidate, in effect contributing to him the equivalent of millions of dollars in ads? It's hard for me to see how you can define a law to get around such things without also seriously impacting the freedom of the press to report on political stories.

    Coverage is not the same as advertising. I think your example would be acceptable. As you say you cannot realistically get around this sort of thing. I don't think it is all that harmful. The one thing I would do is make it illegal for anyone else to pay the news organization to favor one side over another. If large sums of money are changing hands then that should be investigated as a possible attempt to influence an election.

    Suppose I want to volunteer to help one campaign over another.

    That's fine. You are free to use your time as you wish.

    That's equivalent to giving them my salary,

    No it isn't. There is a limit to how much you can influence an election with just your time. Donating money should be limited to a fair amount such that the rich do not have any significant advantage over the poor in terms of influencing the outcome of an election. I think somewhere between $50 and $250 per person would be a reasonable amount.

    since my salary is what my labor would normally cost.

    Your labor is only worth that in your own field. If you get a job bagging groceries you would not get paid more than anyone else. Besides it is irrelevant what your salary is. That doesn't give you the right to exercise undue influence over an election. One man one vote. That is what a representative democracy stands for. Any attempt to corrupt that voting process or to corrupt the politicians who make the decisions should be illegal.

    Is volunteering like that then allowed?

    Volunteering your time should be allowed. Contributing more than say $250 to a compaign should not be. The latter can unfairly influence the outcome of an election in a way that the former cannot.

    What if I'm a CEO and my salary is $30 million dollars?

    Then you will be annoyed when you discover that using your money to attempt to exercise an unfair influence over the outcome of an election is against the law. You will be allowed to contribute up to the per citizen cap however.

    Can I use my own car while helping the campaign, in effect giving the campaign a contribution in the form of gas and wear-and-tear?

    Yes. And you will also be able to wear your clothes. Neither is realistically able to affect the outcome of an election.

  • Re:*Sigh* (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @12:32PM (#44425009)

    What "unrestricted power"?

    The power of the purse. The power to buy whatever laws you want. The power to force the government to do your bidding.

    Two things.

    1. The NSA has detailed records of all communications of corporate CEOs/boards of directors, stockholders, etc etc, and all their family, friends, associates, business connections, etc. Not hard to blackmail someone when you have the power to ruin them and anyone they may care about (It would be tragic if your son/daughter/SO/etc were to...).

    2. If (1.) above fails, there's always the fact that government has the ability and a monopoly on the use of deadly armed force. Government can literally put a gun to their head (or their family, etc) to compel them to do whatever they want.

    Bottom line?

    Monopoly on armed force plus total information awareness > campaign/bribe cash.

    POTUS could have Gates or Zuckerberg or anyone else killed.

    Remember Michael Hastings(RIP)?


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