Eagle Flies on Friday, Republicans Pay on Monday

In ancient times the Democrats and Republicans actually worked together on a bill for campaign finance reform. Recent events show that we still have a long way to go. If I were a Republican donor I would not be pleased to know that my money was being spent on some tacky ‘Young Eagles’ party.

If one of the old buzzards wants to take some of the young eagles to a strip club, there’s no one to tell him it’s a bad idea. Your donation to the party of family values at work.

It’s worth noting that the buzzard got reimbursed $2,000 for the excursion but got way more than that in business from the GOP. A relationship worth examining– if they care to turn rocks over.

But the Democrats can’t enjoy this too much. There must be some discomfort as both parties spend huge energy in playing up to donors. This time it was the Repubs. Tomorrow it could be the Dems, although Michael Steele does seem exceptionally tone deaf and addicted to perks.

The voracious appetite for money in American politics will continue to grow unless we are able to get some real campaign finance reform. We all have an interest in reining in this corrupting force.

Senator John McCain, of the bipartisan McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, might want to rethink his pledge not to cooperate with the Democrats on anything anymore, because cleaning up our process is putting our ‘Country First’.

UPDATE: The RNC fired a junior staffer, saying she’d been warned before about this kind of thing. So this was not the first time?

Me Vida Local

Okay, terrible name for a column, but it’s been a tough week and my brain is fried.

I’m thinking of how the radical wing of the Republican party wanted to ‘starve the beast’ so that the government wouldn’t get in the way of corporations and organized religious groups. Pretty good job they’ve done of it. Disparaged the process and undermined participation so that most of us don’t bother to vote. Not that the Democrats are blameless. ‘Lesser of two evils’ is getting pretty old. And now the Supremes have declared that corporations are people just like us, with first amendment rights. They already decided that money is a form of speech. Kind of reminds me of the New Age saying, ‘money is just a form of energy’.

We corporeal beings who have limited energy after spending all our money on bills don’t have much of a voice v.s. the landslide of free speaking dollars about to pour into the electoral process. And we can’t stop giving money to big corporations, they are too diverse and ubiquitous. We can’t give them much more than a flea bite.

But I’m not giving up. Fleas can be a real nuisance when there are enough of them.

Me Vida Local will be an occasional post about local alternatives to big business.

Today I’m featuring Stamp Farms in Johnston because I drove by it while visiting a patient and it was open and I needed eggs. Yep. They have eggs.

You can go to the supermarket and pay big bucks for organic, free-range eggs laid by hens that do yoga and get group therapy, that range for miles every day before returning in flocks on their powerful wings to their climate-controlled coop. But you don’t have to.

Stamp Farms eggs are laid by Rhode Island hens on an actual farm and they’re cheap and just as good. I went in and guys were rinsing eggs on a conveyor belt and sorting them into wire baskets. I passed a couple of other farms on Greenville Ave., they probably have pretty good eggs too.

But, no offense, no one goes to Johnston. It’s remote. You can buy Stamp Farm eggs at the East Side Prescription Center on Hope St. in Providence. Natural, organic, local and cheap.

And in anti-corporate mode, East Side Prescription is one of Rhode Island’s last remaining independent pharmacies. Most of the rest were bought up by the chains.

Some blog accused a prominent national pizza chain of selling tomato stained manila envelopes. I don’t know about that. Manila envelopes have fiber, and the glue has a taste you could get used to. Anyway, Rhode Island has so many great pizza places competing for our pizza dollar it’s amazing that anyone would need to resort to foamy white bread with red paste on it.

Me Vida Local List–
Stamp Egg Farms
East Side Prescription Center
Yacht Club Soda

A Few of His Closest Friends

Newt Gingrich must be a very busy man these days. His fund-raising group is selling his personal time to every listing in the Yellow Pages. Who, I wonder, has not been invited to get close to him for a mere few thousand dollars?

But he’s got standards. That’s why he rescinded the invitation he sent to Alison Vivas, when he found out she ran a porn business. (Love for Sale From Politicians).

And his 527 organization has done it again, disinviting the owner of a strip club from the awards dinner she’d paid $5,000 to attend.

Dawn Rizos didn’t need any formal recognition that The Lodge, one of the best-known gentlemen’s clubs in Dallas, was a successful small business.

But when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s conservative group named her an “Entrepreneur of the Year,” she was thrilled by the opportunity to accept the award in Washington and speak about ways to help small businesses.

That all changed, however, when Gingrich realized that The Lodge was a topless bar, not some other business in Virginia. He rescinded Rizos’ invitation to a private dinner and returned the $5,000 donation she made to his group, American Solutions for Winning the Future.

“It was disappointing,” Rizos said. “We were looking forward to sharing our political views with Newt Gingrich.”

Actually, that is so rude to invite, then disinvite someone. And they did it twice. What would Miss Manners say?

Clearly Gingrich is using an organization that does a lousy job of checking out who they beg money from. They must send out tens of thousands of special personal honors and have Newt running from banquet to banquet to greet his new best friends. Funny that he doesn’t have more empathy for people who sell their charm.

Campaign finance reform is a hard sell, because all the people who managed to get elected were able to take advantage of every possible loophole. With so much else going on, this is not the most pressing issue. But the future calls. Though it’s too late to make an honest man out of Newt, we have to do it for the children.

Update– I might have been too easy on Newt. Daily Kos has specifics on how Gingrich and some of his Republican allies flood the professional world with honors and invitations, sometimes mistaken by the recipients as something other than a mass mailing fundraising tool. I have to say that I’m hurt that they’ve neglected to name me ‘nurse of the year’ and they’ll pay for it at the voting booth.

Love for Sale from Politicians

It actually could have happened to almost any politician, but it’s funny that Newt Gingrich’s friends made an offer of intimacy with Newt for money–to the owner of a porn business.

Newt Gingrich’s 527 group sent a letter to porn exec Allison Vivas Wednesday telling her she’d won their “Entrepreneur of the Year” award and inviting her to an “intimate event” with Gingrich.

“You’ll dine privately with Newt,” it reads. A handwritten addendum reads, “Newt is looking forward to finally meeting you face to face — and get your thoughts on cap and trade and Obama’s tax policy.”

Allison’s reply was rather witty, you can read it here…

We not only expect politicians to be all things to all people–we accept that the high price of access to media guarantees that we’ll continue to have billionaires running for office and entertainers getting elected.

How would we make an honest man out of Newt? Well, let me rephrase that–how do we temper the impact of money in politics?

Today, especially with the net, there are infinite layers of mis-identification between the politician and the supporters who put up the big cash. Now, more than ever, we need campaign finance reform. And a vigilant press, so that the intimate details of the deals politicians make to get elected will be exposed. That might even sell papers.