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A reader, who asked to remain anonymous, sends along the following (slightly edited) email:
There are many reasons to move to public financing of elections, the chief one of which is that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that our current system for electing public officials is fundamentally corrupt. Now we have another compelling reason to do away with private financing of election campaigns: America’s enemies have discovered that fastest and easiest way to gain access to American policymakers is to get involved in political fundraising.
According to the criminal complaint against one of the alleged Russian spies arrested over the weekend:
Cynthia Murphy last year was assigned the account of a New York-based financier described as a fundraiser “for a major political party” who is “a personal friend” of a Cabinet member’s. “Try to build up little by little relations with him moving beyond just (work) framework,” said an intercepted communication from “Moscow Center.”
How easy is it to get close to an American politician by becoming a fundraiser? Really, really easy. Just look at the recent ranks of those who sought to bolster their shady business schemes by decorating the walls of their offices with pictures of themselves with American politicians – pictures taken at fundraising events: Norman Hsu, Scott Rothstein, Hassan Nemazee. The list goes on and on.
You don’t even have to run a Ponzi scheme to become a major political donor. The Navy Veterans Association set up a PAC, NAVPAC, ran it for eight years, gave away well over $100,000 in campaign contributions and never disclosed the identity of a single donor to the PAC. The PAC claimed that all the money it raised came from donors that gave less than $200 a year and therefore their identities did not need to be disclosed. Didn’t the lack of donor information make the FEC suspicious? The fact that the Navy Veterans Association was a massive fraud was discovered by two reporters at the St. Petersburg Times.
It would be extremely easy for a foreign intelligence service to infiltrate and compromise an American political party and gain access to America’s secrets by gaining inside access to American politicians.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”