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Telecom Immunity Flip-Floppers Got More Telecom Money 277

Posted by kdawson
from the stark-example dept.
ya really notes a nice analysis by Maplight.org indicating that those Democratic representatives who changed their vote on telecom immunity between March and June received on average 40% more in contributions from telecom interests than those Democrats who held firm. Maplight asks, "Why did these ninety-four House members have a change of heart? Their constituents deserve answers." Across both parties, representatives who voted for immunity in June had received almost twice as much telecom money as those who voted against. Wired's coverage includes a quote from Larry Lessig, who is on the Maplight board: "Money corrupts the process of reasoning. [Lawmakers] get a sixth sense of how what they do might affect how they raise money."
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Telecom Immunity Flip-Floppers Got More Telecom Money

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  • Save Money (Score:5, Funny)

    by kmsigel (306018) * on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:44AM (#23967237)

    We could have outsourced this flip-flopping to India for a lot less than was paid to members of congress.

  • by IonHand (646698) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:48AM (#23967285)
    US Constitution, Article 1, Section 9: No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
    • by Romancer (19668) <romancer@deaths d o o r .com> on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:51AM (#23967333) Journal

      Holly... Why didin't I hear about this like a thousand times during this debate on immunity?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_post_facto_law [wikipedia.org]

      • by autocracy (192714) <slashdot2007.storyinmemo@com> on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:03AM (#23967577) Homepage

        You never hear about it because the phrase primarily is interpreted as applying when somebody passes a law that marks an individual guilty. Making them not guilty isn't so much of an issue (whatever would we have done with slavery laws then?). eggoeater's quote from the wiki addresses that.

        What that basically means is that Congress can't say "John is guilty" (bill of attainder), nor can they say "Wearing blue socks on July 4th, 2007 is illegal" if they pass the law on July 5th, 2007 or later.

        Although, I admit when thinking about it now, that changing a civil liability law retroactively may not be tested. Curiouser and curiouser.

      • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:19AM (#23967861)

        Because it doesn't apply. Laws that retroactively make things legal are not ex post facto under the Constitution. The wikipedia article you cite specifically states that, and that it applies to the telecom bill (to be fair, that probably got added after you referenced it).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by orielbean (936271)
        Look, you quoted the wiki and did not read the end of the US section... "Finally, Calder v. Bull expressly stated that a law that "mollifies" a criminal act was merely retrospective and not an ex post facto law. The current debate over granting telecoms retroactive immunity for their part in warrantless wiretapping is one that does not invoke the ex post facto clause in the U.S. Constitution."
    • by eggoeater (704775) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:54AM (#23967391) Journal
      Who marked parent offtopic?
      Unfortunatly they'll probably get away with it. From Wikipedia:

      A law may have an ex post facto effect without being technically ex post facto. For example, when a law repeals a previous law, the repealed legislation no longer applies to the situations it once did, even if such situations arose before the law was repealed. The principle of prohibiting the continued application of these kinds of laws is also known as Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali.




    • by bugnuts (94678)

      My understanding is that they aren't making it legal, merely that you cannot sue them.

      • by zappepcs (820751)

        Interesting? Can't sue them for what?
        I believe that they have broken their privacy commitments. That being a civil matter, they would still be open to litigation... or so the thinking goes. It remains only to find someone to get the full information of who they spied on, and what was monitored.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pichu0102 (916292)

      You speak of that as if politicians care about the law unless it meets their own ends.

    • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:48AM (#23969369) Journal

      Where is the post facto law?

      Existing law at the time gave the telecoms immunity. The problem is that they had to prove that they were provided with a lawful request. Now don't confuse a lawful request with the legality of the program, for this purpose, it is that someone presented them with something otherwise authorized by law that showed the government had th authority and ordered the taps. A simple order o r authorization by the AG would be sufficient.

      The problem is that the administration classified that information and it would be a felony to disclose that information to anyone. The immunity bill doesn't give immunity, it provides a vehicle in which immunity that was already existent at the time can be accessed without disclosing state secrets or causing someone to commit a felony in the simple act of their defense.

      I'm not sure how people can have such strong opinions and think things like the constitution is at risk when they don't even know the facts about the situation. Typically I would ignore posts like this because I figured the smart people would sort it out. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be happening and now it is being claimed that there is a buy off on congress. And the map light project does this without naming any sources, providing their data showing before or after contributions, methodology or anything that I would consider to be the facts surrounding the situation. For all we know, they simply stated their opinion. It is purely amazing that half backed accusations and suggestive opinion can rule the thoughts of people who have all the tools necessary to validate claims in front of them but fail to do so for whatever reason. I think it is something to do with an ideolocracy of some sort where Ideology trumps life and facts.

      BTW, if you look at this site, [pogo.org] you see a difference in amounts reported. If you look at this PDF [pogo.org] you can see this in action. So yes, some verifiable numbers, data sets and all that is quite important in making the accusation that our leaders are being paid off. Hell according to the PDF, there is around a 11-15% difference between the candidate and PAC reporting in Dick Gepheardt's reporting alone.

  • Accountability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hags2k (1152851) <hags2k@NospaM.gmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:50AM (#23967331)
    Where is the accountability for this kind of thing? Is it a matter of the information not being readily available, or is it just that people don't bother to do the research and find out just who is lining their leaders' pockets?

    When a presidential candidate simply speaking about not taking money from lobbyists is considered a "bold move" by many in the media, it becomes terribly difficult to have faith in any of our political leaders, at least for me.
    • Re:Accountability (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CauseWithoutARebel (1312969) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:00AM (#23967507) Journal

      It is available, but it is obtuse. A nice place to find such information is OpenSecrets.org [opensecrets.org]

      And the accountability? It's with you. With me. With our neighbors and fellow slashdotters. We are a Democratic Republic, we are supposed to keep our elected officials in check by removing them or not re-electing them when they become corrupt or simply stop representing our interests, which means one of two things is in play here:

      1) The American people, generally, support wiretapping without oversight and don't want to see telecoms punished even if their support of the program was illegal

      or, more likely:

      2) The American people do not fully educate themselves on these sorts of matters and don't have a full grasp of the implications involved in allowing it. They have abdicated their responsibility of oversight of the government.

      We are a lazy and selfish people, my friend. It's going to take some serious suffering on our parts to change that.

      • Re:Accountability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hijacked Public (999535) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:48AM (#23968313)

        It's with you

        Which is why it can't work. Often, on Slashdot, the answer to a problem is that people need to educate themselves and then, for sure, they'll make choices we all agree with. If they only understood all there was to understand about a given topic the world would be a better place.

        And maybe that is true, but it isn't possible. If we start our list of stuff to be concerned about by looking at the front page of Slashdot we find: Telecom Immunity; Bell puffing up the P2P problem; the offensiveness of WTF; whether we should spend money exploring other planets; China's internet censorship; security on the web; and the big one: a SCOTUS decision on the 2nd Amendment.

        Even if you can keep up with all of that, Slashdot is just 1 web forum and it is mostly tech focused.

        And even with this limited scope you can find plenty of fundamental misunderstandings. Some people above us right here in this discussion have linked to a Wikipedia article about Ex Post Facto. Those linkers obviously either couldn't be bothered to read all the way through the article or they just didn't get it, because it doesn't apply to the discussion at hand. Look at the comments on the SCOTUS story and there are people writing about how Governments grant people rights, which is about as low level a failure at understanding the concept of rights as there is.

        So I don't see education or keeping up with things or people getting more involved as a solution, there is just too much data to work with and getting to it is often arduous. And plenty of it is just beyond their ability to understand. The RTFA meme here didn't come up by accident, and half the time the submissions don't link to actual raw information, they link to a blog summary of an AP story of the highlights of the content of a press release about a paper someone wrote.

        Even with a somewhat techy, science oriented, crowd there is still an inability to identify and get at the facts behind any given subject. If our discussions in this limited arena constantly devolve into one Overlord Welcoming post after another, how can we expect anyone else to pay attention past the face on their big screen TV telling them what to think?

      • Re:Accountability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sm62704 (957197) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:26AM (#23968971) Journal

        There is a big, glaring problem with this - multinational corporations. The corporate owned media has convinced voters that if you vote for anyone but a Republican or a Democrat you've wasted your vote.

        That way, the corporatti only have to bribe two candidates for any given office with "campaign contributions". So it doesn't matter which of the two candidates the corporate media even MENTIONS loses, they win.

        So a vote for a Democrat or a Republican is a wasted vote. You might as well stay home and be painted by the corporate media as "apathetic".

        I used to split my votes between Democrats and Republicans. Now I split them between Greens and Libertarians.

        I'd like to see some REAL campaign finance reform, not the sham reforms McCain has touted. I want it to be against the law to contribute to more than one candidate in any given race, on the grounds that contributing to both is a thinly veiled bribe. And I'd like it to be a felony to contribute to any candidate you aren't eligible to vote for.

        Pigs will fly first.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Atario (673917)

          So a vote for a Democrat or a Republican is a wasted vote. You might as well stay home and be painted by the corporate media as "apathetic".

          I used to split my votes between Democrats and Republicans. Now I split them between Greens and Libertarians.

          You might as well make another copy of this, only swap "Republicans" and "Libertarians", swap "Democrats" and "Greens", and change "apathetic" to "fringe". No third party will ever take hold because of our winner-take-all, first-past-the-post mindset.

          We seriou

    • Re:Accountability (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hijacked Public (999535) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:00AM (#23967511)

      is it just that people don't bother to do the research and find out just who is lining their leaders' pockets?

      Because that would just be an exercise in sorting out which candidates get their pockets lined by people you agree with. And it would just be a snapshot. By the next day a different set of people, with whom you might not agree, would be buying the votes.

      And you'd also find out they are all on the take, so whether you agree with any of it or not you have no ready replacements available.

      Then you'd end up highly cynical about politics, and government in general, and you'd be here on Slashdot looking for any opportunity to spread that cynicism to people who show any sign of not yet being fully cynicised.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gewalt (1200451)
      Honest men are kept honest by fear of repercussions from not being honest. What's the repercussions for these lawmakers for corrupting their office? Additional campaign contributions?
    • by Solandri (704621)

      Where is the accountability for this kind of thing? Is it a matter of the information not being readily available, or is it just that people don't bother to do the research and find out just who is lining their leaders' pockets?

      You get a chance to hold them accountable in November. But for some reason everyone always figures their Congressman or Senator is just fine, it's all the other ones who are corrupt.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sloppy (14984)

      They are only accountable if we want them to be. Most people are still considering voting for either McCain or Obama. In other words, most people don't want them to be accountable.

      If the people wanted accountability, the symptom would be that in the November election, McCain and Obama would both lose to someone else, as would many incumbents in Congress.

      But only about 1% of Americans see a problem with legislation being purchased. Oh, they say they don't like it, but their actions in the voting booth

    • by Pichu0102 (916292)

      Accountability doesn't exist because it's not surprising that they do this anymore, and that generally, we have no way of getting out of it. It's a choice between asshole A and asshole B. Either way we vote, we lose, and third parties? Voting for them is a waste, you really think the same assholes who screw us over when they're put in office are going to care about how the people feel on issues?

      What's worse, most governments across the world seem to be taking on America's example, and since our political sy

    • I'll tell you where it is: with the people who care about their rights being taken away by corrupt politicians.

      And what can we do about it? The answer is contained in the second amendment, which was reaffirmed yesterday by (only) five of the gang of nine. The founders made a lot of mistakes, but they were absolutely right when they codified that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is a prerequisite to maintaining a free state.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dragonslicer (991472)

      Where is the accountability for this kind of thing? Is it a matter of the information not being readily available, or is it just that people don't bother to do the research and find out just who is lining their leaders' pockets?

      Most Americans are more concerned about the government letting gays get married or average citizens owning guns.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      Where is the accountability for this kind of thing? Is it a matter of the information not being readily available, or is it just that people don't bother to do the research and find out just who is lining their leaders' pockets?

      While the issue of campaign donations is interesting, it would help to listen to what the Democratic leadership has actually said about their motivations.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/19/AR2008061901545.html [washingtonpost.com]

      The war spending bill, for example, includes $162 billion for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and an additional $95 billion worth of domestic spending on programs such as unemployment insurance and higher-education benefits for veterans. Bush, who had threatened for months to veto the legislation, said he will sign it.

      Leading Democrats acknowledged that the surveillance legislation is not their preferred approach, but they said their refusal in February to pass a version supported by the Bush administration paved the way for victories on other legislation, such as the war funding bill.

      The Democratic leadership traded de facto telecom immunity for increased veterans benefits & increased unemployement payouts.

      They literally allowed their votes to be bought by the Republicans.
      AND it was their strategy all along.
      /Shame

  • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:53AM (#23967371)
    This Congress is probably the best reason we should throw EVERYONE who is an incumbent out the door, particularly those who have been in place more than 1-2 terms - from BOTH sides of the aisle. Republicans are holding to big-government ideals rather than conservative ones, and haven't been worth much since Gingrich left; and Dems haven't done much of anything but posture and "investigate" with committees that have done nothing but waste taxpayers time (suing OPEC? WTF?), and NO ONE is working together well. The ONE argument that Obama has going for him, in my mind (being a conservative) is that he's relatively inexperienced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jollyreaper (513215)

      This Congress is probably the best reason we should throw EVERYONE who is an incumbent out the door, particularly those who have been in place more than 1-2 terms - from BOTH sides of the aisle. Republicans are holding to big-government ideals rather than conservative ones, and haven't been worth much since Gingrich left; and Dems haven't done much of anything but posture and "investigate" with committees that have done nothing but waste taxpayers time (suing OPEC? WTF?), and NO ONE is working together well. The ONE argument that Obama has going for him, in my mind (being a conservative) is that he's relatively inexperienced.

      One way to avoid the corruption problem: 100% public financing of ALL campaigns for elected office with the provision of equitable free air-time from all media outlets. Any sort of contribution or gift to a politician, monetary or otherwise, will be seen as a bribe and prosecuted as high treason.

      I had really high hopes for Obama since, with the bulk of his donations coming from average joe Americans, he had no big business interests to be beholden to. that's the biggest flaw for conventional campaigns, the

      • No thanks. Maybe somewhere in between, but I think this is a BAD idea - we'd get way too many people involved who would just see running for office as a free paycheck. Plus, there are plenty of business interests which would be shut out of the political process who should have genuine reason to be involved because they would be affected by taxation and regulation.

        Public financing would also likely reduce much voting to the lowest common denominator and result in stupid people voting for stupid things.
        • by XanC (644172) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:30AM (#23968017)

          The real answer is to reduce the power of government to the point where it simply isn't so critical exactly who holds what office. Right now, it matters a whole lot, because the federal government is basically unrestrained.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jollyreaper (513215)

          No thanks. Maybe somewhere in between, but I think this is a BAD idea - we'd get way too many people involved who would just see running for office as a free paycheck. Plus, there are plenty of business interests which would be shut out of the political process who should have genuine reason to be involved because they would be affected by taxation and regulation.

          We've had how many years of over-representation of business interests in government? Forgive my lack of sympathy and concern if we were to actually redress this issue.

          Public financing would also likely reduce much voting to the lowest common denominator and result in stupid people voting for stupid things. We need to re-work some of the way lobbying and influence peddling is done in politics, but we need to be careful we don't reduce everything to mob rule.

          How could we be any more LCD and stupid than we are right now? At least with 100% public financing, those people we do send to Washington will be able to do as they see fit without having to be concerned with whoring to big pocket donors for reelection capital. The only people they have to worry about satisfying are their constituents. And whe

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Thuktun (221615)

        Any sort of contribution or gift to a politician, monetary or otherwise, will be seen as a bribe and prosecuted as high treason.

        Impossible. Perhaps you've forgotten, but the Constitution enumerates what can be considered treason, and this isn't it.

        From Article III, Section 3: [cornell.edu]

        Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

        • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:02AM (#23968521)

          Impossible. Perhaps you've forgotten, but the Constitution enumerates what can be considered treason, and this isn't it.

          From Article III, Section 3: [cornell.edu]

          Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

          Semantics. I can argue that people who cause harm to the United States are thus enemies. Taking their bribes and working their agenda against America thus constitutes treason.

          But to be less sneaky, I'd rather just pass an amendment that elevates bribery to the same level of infamy as treason.

  • by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:53AM (#23967385)
    ... companies will flock to politicians. It's one big protection racket.
    • The biggest problem for the USA, it seems, is to change legislation so that it is possible for more political parties to gain influence.

      If you have more political parties, it should be possible to elect people who are convinced that change is necessary and are able to pull it off.

      Here in Belgium, after some high profile corruption cases involving political parties, laws where introduced which set caps on political contributions, and which alotted government money for campaigning to the several parties, ba

      • All you're basically saying is, "these two groups got it wrong, so if we throw more groups at the problem, maybe we'll find a solution." The end result is whoever has the most interesting personality will win.
    • by Abcd1234 (188840)

      As opposed to no regulating at all, it which point they can happily do whatever the hell they want, wiretapping included.

      Yes. That's *so* much better.

      • It seems you do not know what the whole story is about. The government was doing the wiretapping, and demanded companies comply with their requests. Normally, if someone wiretaps you, you can take them to court for violating your rights. Only when the government does the wiretapping do you not have that option. The rights violation has still occurred, however.
    • It's one big protection racket.

      Bingo. The temporary backbone that our representatives had while they voted against telecom immunity was just a blip on the radar. The "fix" is in now. Somebody forgot to make their regular protection payments (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) and a lesson was made. "Don't pay up and see how difficult we make doing business in the US." The political system works for those that pay to play. Money flowed freely, laws were bought and paid for, and the citizens were fucked in the as

  • by tji (74570) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:55AM (#23967407)

    In the '06 elections, the Democrats won overwhelmingly, taking back control of both houses of Congress. Many of us had high expectations after that.. I mean the public sentiment was about as obvious as it could ever be.

    But, what the hell have they brought us? Certainly no meaningful change on the war effort. And no backbone when it comes to any of the tough issues. When the issues get difficult, they fold like lawnchairs.

    What a broken system we have.

    • by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:03AM (#23967571)
      "I mean the public sentiment was about as obvious as it could ever be."

      It's like voting for Kodos after 6 years of Kang. All you're voting for is a different name for the same thing. The public, it would seem, is easily fooled.
    • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:17AM (#23967821)
      Finally, you understand why a two party system is just marginally better than a one party system and why a system that tends toward a two party system is bad.
      • by BobMcD (601576) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:32AM (#23968059)

        Finally, you understand why a two party system is just marginally better than a one party system and why a system that tends toward a two party system is bad.

        In my opinion, our system really IS a one party system.

        I also have a suspicion that this is a direct result of the outcome Civil War, and was designed to prevent that sort of thing from ever happening again.

        In that way, our 'two party' system is actually WORSE, due to the deception involved.

        • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:55AM (#23968397)

          In my opinion, our system really IS a one party system.

          Essentially, yes. All you get is a change of paint every four years. The two parties being in power for so long created a stagnant system of politics, where the same financial interests are in the background and where backroom deals and agreements decide the major issues. Voter choice is minimalised, since there is nothing a voter can do when both parties in power have the same stand on most issues.

          The "brilliance" of the system is that you can always point and say, "but other parties and candidates are free to run and try to get elected", which is true theoretically, but not practically. The system is rigged in a way to support major power blocks. It's the difference between taking the stairs and climbing the wall. Small and mid size parties have no chance of existing and building public support from there, which prevents voters giving support to smaller parties and taking it away from larger ones. A large amount of propaganda is part of the problem.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Talderas (1212466)

      Democrats didn't actually win Congress, it make look like it, but what actually happened was the Conservative Republicans just didn't go out and vote for the Republicans that had been betraying Conservative principles.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by autophile (640621)

      In the '06 elections, the Democrats won overwhelmingly...

      In another universe, maybe. In my universe, they captured a little over 50% of the seats. That's hardly an "overwhelming" win.

    • by Thuktun (221615) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:01AM (#23968509) Homepage Journal

      In the '06 elections, the Democrats won overwhelmingly, taking back control of both houses of Congress.

      A 49%/49%/2% split in the Senate and a slight 54%/46% majority in the House is not what I would call "overwhelming" in any fashion. If you're looking for activity, you shouldn't look to a body that's evenly split on one side and without a veto-proof majority on the other side.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/110th_United_States_Congress [wikipedia.org]

      Blaming Congressional Democrats for not getting done what they wanted is highly disingenuous, regardless if you agree with them or not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "Blaming Congressional Democrats for not getting done what they wanted is highly disingenuous, regardless if you agree with them or not."

        I would not blame them, but rather thank them for not getting done what they wanted.
      • a slight [sic] 54%/46% majority in the House is not what I would call "overwhelming" in any fashion.

        On the contrary, it's completely decisive. All government funding must run through the House, and can only pass with a majority. The only thing the Democrats really had to do to fulfill their promises was to stop the war in Iraq, which they could have done trivially by staying in bed and not voting to fund it. They failed utterly in this.

        So, with all due respect, f*** them and the horses they rode in on. That goes double for anyone who gets in my face about "wasting my vote" or "handing victory to the

  • Brilliant Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr_nazgul (1290102) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:55AM (#23967427) Homepage
    The solution for this is simply put:
    1) Corporate contributions directly or indirectly are banned from politics.
    2) Only individuals can donate, and there are limits placed on how much one person can donate.
    3) Politicians become honest.
    4) Pigs grow wings and fly.
    • The problem is there will always be a loophole as long as politicians are able to pass legislation affecting the economy. You're trying to patch things up on the wrong end of the problem, and you'll end up repeating this process forever. The only way to fix it is to ban politicians from manipulating the economy. Then companies will then have no interest in them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Fastfwd (44389)

      This is already how it mostly works in Canada(not step 4). I think it is a good step but it is not a perfect solution.

    • by SirGeek (120712)

      1) Corporate contributions directly or indirectly are banned from politics.
      2) Only individuals can donate, and there are limits placed on how much one person can donate.

      2.3) Lower the max amount that an individual can contribute to $ 250 instead of $ 1000. (forces them to get 4 x the contribution)

      2.5) An State level board investigates the contributions (i.e. opensecrets.org) and it investigates/fines where you see more than 1 contribution from a single address using variations of the same Name (Alan Smith, A. Smith, Alan B. Smith, A. B. Smith, A. Bob Smith, etc). If any irregularities are found, the politician is fined 5x the amount of the contribution and the contribute

  • Man are they cheap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alextheseal (653421) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:56AM (#23967439)
    $8,359 to sell out this country. Didn't Spitzer spend more on some of his romps. Come on Senators, have some pride.
    • by Rob Simpson (533360) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:05AM (#23968569)
      "I don't know which is worse...that everyone has his price, or that the price is always so low."
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      $8,359 to sell out this country. Didn't Spitzer spend more on some of his romps. Come on Senators, have some pride.

      That's typical for the price of a congressmen on almost any issue. Instead of belaboring the fact that they are so cheap, we should take advantage of it. If SourceForge put together a PAC representing stereotypical slashdot interests - maybe even with a voting system for which issues to prioritize, I'd probably support it with a couple of hundred dollars of bribery fodder.

  • I'm willing to bet that if you examine this phenomenon for most any big issue you will find much the same behavior. Oil, automotive, energy, media, name any BIG well funded topic and I'm betting you will see this same sort of activity occuring. In fact I think articles pointing this out for the RIAA\MPIAA have been posted in the past.

    Bravo that there's a big spotlight on this but I'll be WAY more excited when this hits mainstream press. Unfortunately the mainstream press is as much a PART of the problem as they are a potential way of informing the public - especially now that ownership rules have been relaxed

  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:57AM (#23967457) Homepage

    This won't receive media coverage. The ecosystem of for-profit media, for-profit corporations, and for-profit government officials have no interest in their constituents.

    They don't need their constituents.

    The media will give you only two false options that have zero real policy differences, the gerrymandered lines ensure the "proper" parties are elected. They will avoid offending any of their advertisers by reporting things as unimportant as blatant vote-buying to purchase immunity. Instead we'll get to hear about things that are of no importance: sports, celebrity gossip, and political bickering that passes off as dialogue.

    But hey, new iPhone next month! Who's already waiting in line? The best Germans will have theirs first...

    • Agreed. I think there should be very strict rules on any sorts of news coverage, including restrictions on campaign donations, and heavy, if not outright restrictions on parent companies 'owning' media networks. No good can come of one company owning a drug company and a news company who should 'investigate' it.

  • Politicians are bought and paid for. Oh, wait. Its always been that way, and always will be.

  • Money does not corrupt reasoning. Greed in an uncoerced, free market demands efficiency from all involved parties. What does lead to corruption is when a force-backed entity - such as the government - gets involved in the money game, with the promise of financial protection through favorable legislation. Companies and cronies will immediately seek out corruptible politicians - to do otherwise would be to risk seeing unfavorable legislation passed.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:01AM (#23967533)

    The Internet allows us to track these offenses and organize against the offenders far better than ever before. We need to start funding challengers against every Vichy Democrat who voted for this bill and against every Republican on general principle. And if Obama really goes along with this shit, if he really proves himself to be just another politician, well fuck him, too.

    "Reform the system from within," we're told. "Be part of the solution, not part of the problem." At what point do we decide that the system cannot be reformed from within, cannot be reformed from without, and must be overthrown in its entirety? That'll make for some nasty times to be sure but will such measures be forced upon us by necessity?

    • Meet me at the Capitol. I'll bring the torches, you bring the pitchforks.

      I'm only half kidding.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jollyreaper (513215)

        Meet me at the Capitol. I'll bring the torches, you bring the pitchforks.

        We'd be going after corrupt politicians who control the nation's military, not Frankenstein's monster. Realistically, there's no way to compete against that kind of firepower without defections from army and guard units in the region.

        I'm only half kidding.

        Same here. The last traditional coup attempt in this country was during the 30's, the robber-barons wanted to oust FDR but were ratted on by the man they tapped to lead their forces.
        http://www.corporatemofo.com/stories/030928warracket.htm [corporatemofo.com]

        Since then, the last effective coup we h

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:01AM (#23967543) Homepage

    Privatize the power to conduct a legal prosecution. Imagine the possibilities.

    -Lying government witnesses could be targeted for prosecution by defense attorneys.

    -Police who break the law could be targeted for prosecution by civil liberties organizations.

    -Politicians who take bribes could be prosecuted by rich constituents.

    -Prosecutors who pull a stunt like Nifong did in the duke rape case could prosecuted for unlawful prosecution and other charges by the victim's family.

    The fact is that until the government loses its monopoly on trying criminal cases, the key parts of the government like prosecutors' offices, police departments and bodies politic will be largely immune from the consequences of their actions.

    • by danzona (779560) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:59AM (#23968471)
      Privatize the power to conduct a legal prosecution. Imagine the possibilities.

      How can replacing a government function with a group that has government like powers possibly become anything other than the government? In the US we had a system to do all the things you describe, then it got corrupt. The only possibility that I can imagine is that the private prosecution would be corrupted too.

      Any group that has authority over others is going to abuse that authority. The trick is to grant enough authority to get the job done, but at the same time limit the authority and therefore limit the abuse. It is apparently a very difficult trick.
  • C. Montgomery Burns; "Damn their oily hides!"
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:05AM (#23967613)

    It occurs to me that many of these monies come from government-blessed monopolies. Can they then take such a large portion of their profits and use it to purchase votes? This is a self-amplifying cycle if I've ever seen one.

    I can't recall any law that would prohibit it, but perhaps there really should be one...

  • by objekt (232270) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:09AM (#23967685) Homepage

    A majority of Democrats are still against the bill (105 for-128 against), whereas the Republicans almost unanimously support it (188 for-1 against).

    From TFA:
    All House Members (June 20th vote:)
    Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint gave PAC contributions averaging:

    $9,659 to each member of the House voting "YES" (105-Dem, 188-Rep)
    $4,810 to each member of the House voting "NO" (128-Dem, 1-Rep)

    • by objekt (232270)

      Also interesting to note that the Dems who switched votes are apparently getting than the Republicans

      $8,359 to each Democrat who changed their position to support immunity for Telcos (94 Dems)

      $9,659 to each member of the House voting "YES" (105-Dem, 188-Rep)

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      Because the onus is on the Dems to repeal this crap. 'Change' means not supporting the status quo.

      Fair or not, they set up the expectation themselves.

  • by Kainaw (676073) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:10AM (#23967701) Homepage Journal

    So, we allow companies to donate money to our lawmakers. The companies donate more money to lawmakers that vote for laws in a way that benefits the companies. Why should it be different? Should we only have companies that donate money to lawmakers who vote for laws to run the companies out of business?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Eoika (1123009)
      The lawmakers are supposed to make laws that protect the people, not protect a small group of companies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:12AM (#23967755)

    It frustrates me to hear people say that government simply wants to bail out the telecoms, as if all they were doing is caving to big business.

    My honest opinion is that those pushing this bill don't care at all about the interest of telecoms in this matter. The real reason is they don't want it to come out in court just what they were doing on behalf of our government.

    The bill prevents people from suing telecoms for doing something on behalf of the White House. The case is to be thrown out on that grounds. Now, if you were suing the telecoms about this, don't you think the question of what the White House asked for would come up? Don't you think that in order for a meaningful trial to happen, that information would have to come out?

    And from there, it's revealed that the White House has been asking for your phone conversations, in matters that have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism or any of the other things this administration claims it's acting for. And some Democrats probably know this, and don't want to get blamed for it either.

    But. Let's also not forget that some Democrats are doing the right thing on this. I checked the roll call, and found that my representative voted no, as did the rep for the district I lived in before. So I can safely say that no one I voted for is behind this. :P

  • by darjen (879890) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:15AM (#23967801)

    Why do we allow our government this power to begin with? Immunity wouldn't be an issue if they weren't spying on us in the first place. Let's place the true blame where it should be - on congress, not the private companies.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Actually, the spying was done at the behest of the executive branch, not the legislative, so we can really only blame congress for giving them immunity.
      • by darjen (879890)

        They executive branch was using legislation like the original FISA, passed by congress, to justify their spying.

  • The masses don't care enough to want answers. The masses are willing to overlook certain indiscretions if they believe it was done to further their safety. So what if some rules were bent to let the Feds listen to terrorists talk on the phone?

    Even if they did care, at this point people are too worried about being able to afford gas to get to work to pay any attention to this.
  • it is just not going to happen that fine upstanding civic-minded citizens who happen to be able to pay for a full and frank airing of views on important issues will be able to "buy" the vote.

    .
    .
    .

    CUT! PRINT! Thanks, SW, here's a little something for ya.

  • C'mon, people. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone any more. EVERY politician in Washington accepts bribes. They've made it legal under the guise of "campaign contributions." The sad problem is that, oh, 99.9% of Americans couldn't give two shits about it because they are to desensitized, skeptical, jaded and mostly plain ignorant and lazy to do anything about it. Every single scumbag in Washington needs to be thrown out of office and we need to start from scratch. It's a big, festering pit of corruption

  • We have the finest politicians money can buy, and they're selling well...

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