Flutterby™! : Political cynicism

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Political cynicism

2008-09-29 20:52:32.320785+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

During the last campaign, the armchair quarterbacking following the Dean implosion convinced me that much of the irregularities that appeared among the advisors and in how the campaign was run was simply that a good portion of the staff were finding ways to take all of that spectacular internet fundraising and funnel it to their own pockets. Similarly, when Cam worked on the Clark campaign, and reported later that it cost him a bunch of money, I cynically wondered how many just slightly further up the chain weren't making a decent salary.

Josh Marshall calls out McCain-Palin campaign advisor Rick Davis's shell companies to suck off a couple million bucks o' campaign contributions there. Yet another reason, as if you needed them, to give to issues advocacy organizations that are at least up front about their expenses and salaries, and let the campaigns adopt those positions as they need to attract those voters.

I'm still not sure where to stand on the whole bailout thing. For history's sake I'll point out that the DOW has been ping-ponging all over today, and closed down 778 points, but a few reasons I'm not sorry to have seen the first pass at the bailout shot down hard in the House of Representatives:

  1. Radley Balko catches the recently outspoken Barney Frank (D-MA) talking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac back in 2003 (NY Times article):

'These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''

  1. If the bailout plan really has the possibility to pay back the taxpayers in the way that's being sold to us, why isn't private capital diving on these equities?
  2. I'm all for leaving the decision making to people who honestly have the time to delve into the issues, but it sure seems like everyone who's had time to delve into these issues is screaming "no" to the bailout, and I think it's quite telling that the vast majority of those voting "no" are up for re-election [edit: in contested races].

[ related topics: Cameron Barrett Business Politics Economics Real Estate ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-09-29 23:31:51.45548+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

In the Clark campaign, none of the staffers were paid very much. I can easily believe Cam lost money: I had just sold my house and was looking for work and we ended up eating into the proceeds from the sale of that house (thank you housing bubble -- seriously!) while I worked a few months on the Clark campaign. Family of five on 2000/month.

The other staffers I was working with -- that is, who gave me work -- weren't paid much either. And one of those was a friend of the General's son.

The only sign of excess I saw was a note that went out close to the end of the campaign restricting the use of the chartered jet they were using. Sure, you need a jet to get your candidate around when you're campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire (not that they did a good job of that) but evidently people were taking liberties with that. Considering how much is spent on advertising and transportation, I can definitely see that they're eating the money up.

I also know the CFO and his assistant were looking for places to cut fat in the last days of the campaign. The assistant told me one day that he found a line item that was enough to pay his salary for a year. So, yes, there is waste, but, at least in the primary season, no one wants waste. Perhaps things are different now that each party has just one candidate to support and the candidate has access he didn't have before.

(Still, when you have Ron Paul gathering millions of dollars in a single day for an also-ran campaign, it does make you wonder where the money is going.)

Re: bailout. I'm up in the air. If the returns are really there, then hopefully the private sector will find them. But from my point of view, finance is all a confidence game -- if the government starts buying, people playing the game get more confident and prices start going back up. So maybe that return would be there *with* the government, but won't be there *without* it.

So far, I'm still alive and I have lots of work to do. If I lose my job or my savings or my house, I'll muddle through, somehow. The world doesn't stop spinning just because banks go under.