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Comcast PAC Gave Money To Every Senator Examining Time Warner Cable Merger

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the best-government-money-can-buy dept.

The Almighty Buck 133

An anonymous reader writes in with news about money and politics that is sure to shock no one."It's no surprise that Comcast donates money to members of Congress. Political connections come in handy for a company seeking government approval of mergers, like Comcast's 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal and its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC). But just how many politicians have accepted money from Comcast's political arm? In the case of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held the first congressional hearing on the Comcast/TWC merger yesterday, the answer is all of them."

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Seems logical to me that they all need to recuse (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46719975)

So let's see all of the Congress recuse themselves because of a conflict of interest, thus they can't do anything, thus...we're actually better off.

A Word from Ben Dover (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46723719)

Hello America, Glad to See You
Yours,
Ben Dover

Two words: (2)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 7 months ago | (#46725809)

Corporate Oligarchy.

Re:Seems logical to me that they all need to recus (1)

BorisSkratchunkov (642046) | about 7 months ago | (#46725999)

In an ideal world, yes.

In the interim, I like what Larry Lessig has to say [ted.com] .

This is how America ceases to be great (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46719995)

This is how America ceases to be great. We lose our edge, because society gets hijacked and the money flows to the wrong places instead of spurring innovation.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (2, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | about 7 months ago | (#46720073)

America is deluded that they were great to begin with. A super power? Maybe. But 'great'? Wtf.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720163)

Every country thinks they're great

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (3, Insightful)

Michael Monaghan (2932285) | about 7 months ago | (#46720303)

Many countries are great or have been great in their past which includes the US due to their contributions to the rest of the world. To say otherwise is simply being ignorant of the rest of the world.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (3)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 7 months ago | (#46721819)

Actually we're the only country that wasn't blasted into the stone age during WWII. For a brief period of time fear of communists stealing factories kept off-shoring at bay (ironically it Marx used to warn that capital flowing to where labor was cheapest was a problem). A small group of progressives dragged the rest of our country out of the uncivilized mess it was mired in (the American South didn't exactly go along with the the whole Civil Rights thing quietly, and lately they've been pushing voter suppression hard).

I hate to say it, but I wouldn't so much as call us 'great' as I would very lucky. For most Americans prosperity was a temporary blip on the radar they're watching fade away...

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46723489)

The Entire uk wasnt blasted into the stone age during WW2 Only parts of it and for that shit hole London anyways all it did was encourage redevelopment after the war.

Also you had a lot of shitty shotgun shacks up until the 40's

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

dcw3 (649211) | about 7 months ago | (#46724959)

I'd like to challenge your use of the word progressives here. How do they compare to those you would call progressive today?

The only country? (2)

phorm (591458) | about 7 months ago | (#46725799)

Actually we're the only country that wasn't blasted into the stone age during WWII

Canada and Australia say hi...

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (3, Insightful)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 7 months ago | (#46720343)

America is deluded that they were great to begin with. A super power? Maybe. But 'great'? Wtf.

Sorry. Our founding fathers were mostly a bunch of bad asses with really good ideas that they were willing to fight for, and the country that came out of that fight was great.

It's the money grubbing assholes who are fucking it up now by claiming that money = free speech and corporations are people. That means that the ultra rich have at least 10,000 times as much speech as most of us, and that there are a lot of people that have no voice at all. Money should not be equivalent to free speech. Never. It's a fucking travesty that it is, and the people who made it so are destroying our country. I'm not being hyperbolic here.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (2, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 7 months ago | (#46720573)

and that there are a lot of people that have no voice at all.

The reason those people have "no voice at all" is because ... they don't have the money to pay for it. That really does make the point that money is required for the full exercise of free speech. The days of standing on a soapbox on a street corner and reaching a significant number of people with one's speech are long gone.

Money should not be equivalent to free speech. Never.

Then it is a good thing that money isn't equivalent to free speech. Money is, however, as your own statements show, a requirement for full exercise of same. And by extension, telling people they cannot spend their money to pay for speech is equivalent to creating an even larger group of people who have no voice.

I realize that silencing opinions that one does not favor is a common goal these days, but removing the ability to exercise the right of free speech from more people isn't the solution.

As for your problem with that corporations are made up of people who still have rights, well, that's a topic for another day.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (3, Insightful)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 7 months ago | (#46720659)

and that there are a lot of people that have no voice at all.

The reason those people have "no voice at all" is because ... they don't have the money to pay for it. That really does make the point that money is required for the full exercise of free speech.

In this country (the US), yes I'll give you that, but it shouldn't be that way. They've gamed the system so that the more money you have, the more speech you have, but it's a rigged system.

I'm saying that inherently money != free speech, and that the law should reflect that. If we had a constitutional amendment explicitly stating that money != free speech then we could talk sensibly about limiting its corrupting influence. As it is now it has taken pretty much all of the power away from the people. You say "ah, but go out and vote!" Okay, I'll go vote for asshole 'A' or asshole 'B'. Those are my realistic choices. Not much of a choice there, and the billions floating around in politics ensures that will always be the case.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 7 months ago | (#46721259)

In this country (the US), yes I'll give you that, but it shouldn't be that way. They've gamed the system so that the more money you have, the more speech you have, but it's a rigged system.

This "gaming" of the system is called "someone has to pay the bill". Neither print, online, nor broadcast media are free of cost.

I'm saying that inherently money != free speech,

Yes, we've already dealt with the concept that money isn't equivalent to free speech, but that it is a requirement to have it.

then we could talk sensibly about limiting its corrupting influence.

There are already laws dealing with bribery and graft. I suspect that since you are talking about "corrupting influence" in the same article that talks about money being necessary for effective free speech that you want to limit the money spent on free speech. That means you do think that the solution to some people not having money to pay for effective speech is to silence those who do.

Okay, I'll go vote for asshole 'A' or asshole 'B'. Those are my realistic choices. Not much of a choice there, and the billions floating around in politics ensures that will always be the case.

No, it is not the money that limits the number of candidates, it is the system. Both the two party system that results in one candidate from each, and the political environment where good people want to have nothing to do with the mudpit they'd find themselves in. Solving the former would be, well, pretty difficult. No party is going to dilute their own constituency voluntarily by putting up more than one candidate. Solving the latter? That's not going to happen soon, and silencing people you don't agree with won't solve it.

The answer would be viable candidates from other parties. Where are they? Well, they have the same sense of self-preservation that keeps good people off of the tickets for the major parties. And they have, apparently, insufficient message to draw significant voters. Would more money mean a better message? No, it would just mean more repetition of the same message that already doesn't draw voters.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46722693)

Anon because I modded you as above.

Paying the bill: there are other ways. If you say that the wealthy and corporations will not participate in equal election funding, then answer why they wont. I strongly believe it is because they will not have the influence that their moneys currently give them. Which is corruption and bribery in my mind. And this money silences many many many more than no money ever would.

Requirement to have money to have speech: see above, and why does it *have* to be that way?

Bribery and graft: Those laws are not really working and the wealthy are working hard to dilute them further, ( Citizens United, the recent ruling on overall contribution limits ). And again, you are silencing way more people in treating money as speed than if you dont.

For someone who is so adamant that silencing people is bad you seem very in favor of policies that do exactly that. Do you think it is OK for the wealthy to have a disproportionate voice?

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (2)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 7 months ago | (#46724555)

The easiest way to solve the 2 party issue is to disallow party affiliation on all ballots. Only names for the position, listed in alphabetical order on first or last name ascending or descending decided randomly per spot, and ideally per ballot with electronic voting. You either know them, or you don't. Voters can't just pull a red or blue lever. Instant destruction of the 2 party system for many of the lower level positions. As soon as that happens, you may see it bubble on up the hierarchy, as people realize that their segment of the party doesn't really match up with the "national" party view, and diversification ensues. Or so I would hope.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46722667)

Anon because I modded you up ( because you were rated "Troll" when I did, which I dont think was fair ).

"Then it is a good thing that money isn't equivalent to free speech. Money is, however, as your own statements show, a requirement for full exercise of same."

A distinction without much distinction.
If you cant really have speech without money, then allowing money to = speech means that people without money are removed from the exercise of same.

"And by extension, telling people they cannot spend their money to pay for speech is equivalent to creating an even larger group of people who have no voice."

No, telling people that there are no limits on what they can spend to buy an election creates a huge group of people without voice. I'm really not sure how you cant see that.
I have sympathy for the concept of "its mine, I should be able to use it as I like", but there comes a time when "using it as I like" injures others, and that ought not be allowed.

"I realize that silencing opinions that one does not favor is a common goal these days, but removing the ability to exercise the right of free speech from more people isn't the solution."
Ending the treatment of speech = money would not silence anyone's opinions. ( name one person who would be silenced ( no, having to "endure" having the same voice as a poor person for the wealthy is not being silenced ) ).
It would end the "I'm powerful because I have lots of money, so you have to listen to me and run your campaign ( quietly, so the election boards don't see it ) as I like". I believe there is plenty of documentation of the notion that power ( and money = power to an extent ) will influence others.
Why is it OK to silence the less wealthy? That, ultimately, is what is happening.

Corporations are made of people who have rights. And those people already have sufficient ( and for some, more than sufficient ) voice. There is absolutely, positively no need for corporations to add in this mix.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 7 months ago | (#46725401)

Too bad this was anonymous, it's an excellent post.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 months ago | (#46724155)

I was thinking about this the other day. The core problem is not lobbying, because it's perfectly sensible that people with an interest in a particular topic would want to talk to their elected representatives about it. The problem is unequal access to lobbying, and that comes from the massive wealth inequality in the USA and the fact that lobbying is expensive. Perhaps a better solution would be for each member of the electorate to have allocated a certain amount of their representatives' time.

For example, each member of the House of Representatives is responsible for approximately 500,000 people. Assume that they spend on average two hours a day talking to their constituents and the rest is spent in committees, or on holidays (since we're talking about an average). That's 2628000 seconds per year, or around 5 seconds per constituent per year (10 seconds per term). If you want to have a five minute conversation with a representative, then you must find 60 people all willing to give you their time allocations. Or 300 all willing to give you 20% of their allocation. If you want to have an hour-long meeting, then that's 720 people who must give up all of their allowance, or 3600 who must give up 20% (or any breakdown).

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

Lord Lemur (993283) | about 7 months ago | (#46725867)

While plagued with opportunities for abuse, this is a very intresting concept.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (2, Insightful)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 7 months ago | (#46723023)

I have seen the term "free speech" used in a lost of stories lately and am horrified by the number of people who do not even understand the term. It appears that the term "free speech" is hijacked to mean whatever the hell the poster wants it to mean at the time.

It is truly staggering and I am at a loss as to why people make this huge mistake? It is honestly and very interesting social phenomenon to me.

Is this just an American thing? Has your schooling system and/or corporate media engrained some arbitrary and/or politically convenient (yet utterly incorrect) definition or something?

Freedom of Speech == right to convey almost any idea and opinion free of government interference. (with the exception of things like libel/slander/hate speech depending on the country)

How on EARTH is "donating" money to politicians ANYTHING to do with free speech?!

My god people: wake the fuck up. This is nothing more than legalised corruption. Plain and simple.

Regardless of whether or not you believe "donations" should be allowed (and all arguments I have seen to this end have been extremely weak) it has NOTHING to do with free speech and never has.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46725647)

Thank you kind sir.
Could the asshole who started this explain how EXACTLY i cannot give my money to anyone I want?

Of course where politics is concerned, Comcast giving money to Congresscritters is one thing, those TAKING money is totally different.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720439)

In your words I hear jealous butthurt.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 7 months ago | (#46720721)

America was and is great. How can you judge a country's greatness, if not by the quality of life it affords to its people? And the average person born in the US has a significantly higher quality of life than at least 80% of the world's population.

The US could certainly be a lot better, but to say it isn't and never was great smacks of knee-jerk cynicism masquerading as wisdom.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (2, Interesting)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | about 7 months ago | (#46721235)

If you have that few settlers come into a continent as large, virgin and as rich as North America (compared to tiny European countries that had been exploited for millennia in most cases, with very few natural resources) it seems to me that the US standards of living should've been 10x what the rest of the world had, if you take into account that Europe suffered through two world wars on its soil (where the second one especially nearly destroyed it industrially for many years) the US standards of living should've been more like 50x higher for several decades afterwards.

By any metric you can think of unfortunately I don't see life in the US being 10x better than in the rest of the developed first world for the average person (life expectancy, happiness, schooling, health, ...), I mean, as far as you can find out the majority of personal bankruptcies in the US is due to medical expenses, where in the rest of the world getting sick does not automatically mean losing all you've worked for in your life.

Nowadays with the whole 'money = free speech' it seems the table is tilting even more towards large class disparities in the population, and a much bigger division by the haves and have nots. Despite this perversely, due to endless straw-manning by interested parties, a lot of people appear, from the outside at least, to vote for politicians that are actively out to make their life worse: it is of course quite hard to develop an informed opinion when large amounts of money, advertising and content are funneled towards muddying any issue and transforming it into either a partisan dilemma or a who-do-you-like-most uninformed decision.

The general culture of the land also seems to have an extremely strong sense of being defensive any time the country is criticized in any way shape or form, in all countries I've lived in or visited there is not as much animosity when it comes to recognizing their nation's shortfalls: ask any European in several countries, say, about bureaucracy or lack of competitiveness or the impossibility to fire people etc. etc. and you'll never hear the end of it, ask any American about health care (unless of course the ones that have gone bankrupt) and you will just get partisan talking points, these days usually about Obamacare.

The cult of "rugged individualism" that seems to permeate American society is good for some things (very low barriers to starting a business, for example, a feeling of personal responsibility, etc.) but unless it's tempered by some sort of "compassionate government" it is not conducive to having a harmonious society where yes, there are still differences in social status, but they are not as extreme, and there is no risk of anybody in one of the wealthiest nations in the world ending up destitute because their genetic luck ran out and they were in an accident or became sick with an expensive-to-treat condition.

The US might be great from a military power standpoint, no doubts about that, and from a 'can-do attitude' as well, but society should be about a lot more than who has the most money, who can make more money, it's should not be a competition, as much as the gospel in the US seems to be that we are all born equal we really aren't: our parents' social situations are different, our genes are different, many of us have disabilities, everybody should not be held to the same standard in a win-or-die kind of situation.

People should stop thinking "I don't care if by doing X to prevent 'abuse' by that moocher society will be worse for everybody, as long as there are no 'moochers' it's totally fine if everybody is in misery but the really lucky ones", but the odds of that happening are pretty low, when interested parties will do their best to frame all policy decisions in a "you're against the 'moochers' or you are a 'moocher' yourself".

The best country in the world would be a country where everybody has the opportunity to excel, and nobody runs the risk of failing due to its inbuilt safety nets, the US could certainly afford this if there was the will to make it so, now that would be American Exceptionalism I would gladly stand behind.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 7 months ago | (#46721851)

it seems to me that the US standards of living should've been 10x what the rest of the world had ... I don't see life in the US being 10x better

Has it occurred to you that maybe you just had unrealistic expectations?

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (2)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | about 7 months ago | (#46722169)

do you think that a country like the US with the vast, vast, vast natural resources it contains, its economic power, and the amount of extremely bright people that call it their home should not have 10x the standard of living of a small country in Europe with next to no natural resources, much fewer inhabitants, and an industry that was basically razed to the ground a generation ago?

If US society was geared towards making life as good as possible for everybody I am sure by now everybody would be on basic income with free healthcare (especially mental health, which is sorely underfunded right now) and education. People could be free to do what they wanted to do with their life without having to worry about becoming destitute, not being able to eat or have shelter. Of course some people would take advantage of that and live a life of videogames and idleness, but is that reason enough not to provide society at large the option of not being chained to a for-profit job if their don't want to? basic income would be just that, basic, a grocery allowance, a rent allowance for some sort of "government housing" apartment, a very minimal allowance for extras, that's it, if you want more you can always get a job just like now, it's just that if you don't have a job rather than ending up on the street you'll at least be taken care of.

Wouldn't society as a whole be improved by its citizens being able to do what they want instead of what they need to survive? In the end idle pursuits are hollow pleasures, and sooner or later people will tire of them, the vast, vast majority of people are happiest when they feel they are contributing to their well being and to society at large, and the most rewarding form of contribution is to feel you are doing a good job, whatever the "good job" is according to your inclination: some people like to build furniture, others to code, others to cook, etc.

In my opinion the majority of people would still work full time to have a better standards of living, and jobs would eventually have their pay rise based on the willingness of people to do them as opposed to how desperate people are to find one: if a job is rewarding and enjoyable it should pay a lot less than one that isn't, being a professional golf player is a lot more fun than being a dishwasher at a restaurant, why should it also be paying 100x more? just because if you are a pro golfer you can sell more stuff to people that they don't need so the corporations that produce it make more money? how does that help society as a whole?

If this meant that eating out would cost $500 because the line staff had to be paid $50/hour to work there and there would be very few restaurants less, well, that's what will happen: or is being able to go out to eat whenever you want (because you are lucky you have the skills to be in a high paying job) worth having a lot of people working at those restaurants be paid under poverty-level wages and have to have two jobs which makes it impossible for them to improve their situation?

Why does your genetic luck in terms of your hand-eye coordination and your luck in being born to the right parents at the right time have to make it so that you will have an amazingly easier life than somebody who due to a small genetic abnormality was born blind? how fair is that? and how fair a society is that idolizes the former and tries to remove as much help as possible from the latter because somebody somewhere might be "taking advantage of government handouts"? always with the focus towards the few that take advantage of things vs the may that would benefit from them?

This is getting way out of topic, but when you see decisions by the supreme court that corporations are people (who can't be put in jail, though, if a corp does something bad often the worst thing that happens is the CEO leaves with their golden parachute and then it's business as usual) and money is free speech (money that is not accountable, however, where "hate speech" in the form of attack ads is considered totally ok) it's hard to believe the US is as great a nation as it could be if its priorities were different.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 7 months ago | (#46722617)

do you think that a country like the US with the vast, vast, vast natural resources it contains, its economic power, and the amount of extremely bright people that call it their home should not have 10x the standard of living of a small country in Europe with next to no natural resources, much fewer inhabitants, and an industry that was basically razed to the ground a generation ago?

No, I don't think the US should have 10x the standard of living of a small European country. Why would you expect such a thing? We don't have 10x the resources per capita, and even if we did, there's the question of diminishing returns. Additionally, we're still people, with all the murder and rape and greed that entails. You have these absurdly high expectations, and then get all upset when we can't live up to them.

For what its worth, I think you and I are very alike in our politics. I agree with pretty much all your points, just not the conclusion you draw from them. For all its faults, America is still pretty great. I'm certainly glad I was born here, and all of the immigrants I know are extremely thankful to have been able to come here. It could be better, and we should strive to make it better, but acting like its some horrible place doesn't help. It only leads to people giving up.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46721339)

What made America great was not letting people who fail fall to far. If you can not recover because there is no safety net, no one will take any chances and you will stagnate just like any third world country as we see happen after clinton caved and cut welfare. Only the rich can take chances.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 7 months ago | (#46723727)

They were certainly part of something great, at one point.

Sincerely,

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 7 months ago | (#46720271)

We lose our edge, because society gets hijacked and the money flows to the wrong places instead of spurring innovation.

There is a theory that Japan and Germany recovered and prospered so quickly after WWII because their profound defeat destroyed so many entrenched special interest groups that could no longer block progress.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

F34nor (321515) | about 7 months ago | (#46721193)

I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. Its the only way to be sure.

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (3, Insightful)

F34nor (321515) | about 7 months ago | (#46721171)

The term of art you are looking for is "rent seeking behavior"

Re:This is how America ceases to be great (1)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about 7 months ago | (#46724111)

Pretty much. Sadly, as long as voters get their one or two ideological issues supported their representatives in the legislature can do whatever they want.

Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46719999)

Bet on Comcast...Short VZ and T stock tomorrow...

If this is not a bribery then I don't know what is (5, Insightful)

Trachman (3499895) | about 7 months ago | (#46720017)

If fact of donations will be confirmed, then Comcast lost in the court of public opinion. The merger should not be approved on the ground of anti-trust laws, unfair competition and reduced choice by consumers. At the minimum this should send a message to the future senators who will be tempted to take donations of the big business.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 months ago | (#46720063)

Yeah, I'm sure Comcast's management and investors totally feel bad about that whole public opinion thing.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720313)

*rubs nipples*

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46721183)

Yes, because Comcast is already doing so well in the court of public opinion. They are #1 in fact!

http://www.cnet.com/news/comcast-wins-worst-company-in-america/

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (2)

F34nor (321515) | about 7 months ago | (#46721231)

We should be Comcast's management and investors. Instead of bitching cancel your cable contract and buy Comcast stock. It will drive the share price down increasing the rate at which we can buy the sock. At 51% we can kick the fucking board of asshole to the curb and stack upper management with consumer focused executives. At current prices it is $150 per household for about 1.5 years but that should rapidly shift as investors flee the possibility of coop vs. rape prices. Capitalism can be democratic.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 7 months ago | (#46722149)

Trying for a pump and dump are we?

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#46720069)

If fact of donations will be confirmed, then Comcast lost in the court of public opinion

Don't worry, there will be a squirrel event shortly and people will forget all about it. Then the merger will be quietly approved and by the time the rates go up, it will be too late.

If you rely on the general public you will always be disappointed, they are idiots and easily lead and/or distracted.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#46720131)

It's not bribery, it's just a corporate person engaging in free speech. Indeed, our own dear supreme court asserts the view that this sort of activity does not even create the impression of impropriety...

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 7 months ago | (#46720787)

Indeed, our own dear supreme court asserts the view that this sort of activity does not even create the impression of impropriety...

No, the view that they asserted was that it did not violate the Constitution, not anything about the "impression of impropriety".

For the most part, the Supreme Court doesn't rule on if things are right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust -- they rule on if they're allowed or prohibited by the Constitution (or other laws, but most of the time they seem to work based on the Constitution.)

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (1)

F34nor (321515) | about 7 months ago | (#46722533)

But it is prima fascia absurd. If money is protected political speech and speech cannot be regulated than why can't I let Ben Franklin do the talking?

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#46721687)

Impropriety is the act of taking the bribe, not offering it. The issue should be the love of money, not the money itself.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46723875)

Impropriety is the act of taking the bribe, not offering it. The issue should be the love of money, not the money itself.

I can't speak for the US but in my country it's also illegal to offer a bribe to a person holding public office.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#46725703)

In many places it's illegal, but the only real offense is taking the bribe. We shouldn't vote for people who can't resist the temptation, and if they fall while in office, they should be removed post haste. No "punishment" is necessary.

merger might be too big to swallow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720213)

those donations can benefit comcast in ways other than the merger. such as limiting net neutrality legislation, and there is a large number of possible ways of net neutrality. congress could limit mergers with content providers. congress could force cable channel unbundling. congress could avoid encouraging municipal broadband...

the comcast and time warner merger is just simply too big of an issue for politicians to ignore. most households in america get cable, have to pay for cable, have to deal with cable customer service, and know who their cable provider is. comcast and time warner are regularly voted among the most hated companies in america. the average person will know the merger will be close to monopoly, and will be affected. if the merger goes through, there WILL be protests, and at least one person in congress will get fired.

what's cable, grandpa? (0)

Thud457 (234763) | about 7 months ago | (#46724571)

who the hell still pays for cable? cavemen?!
All the smart kids just stream games of throne on their smartphones. HA! You thought you had me there, but see, I didn't say on their itermanets!

The ONLY thing cable has to offer is live events (S P O R T S), and face it, this is slashdot.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (2)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 7 months ago | (#46720369)

If fact of donations will be confirmed, then Comcast lost in the court of public opinion.

Lost public opinion? Maybe on /. but not to most of the voting public. Do you think CNN/NBC/Fox News will feature a story about this? And even if they did, would most people care? The only court of public opinion that matters is political candidates. Giving money to them means more campaign advertising for their candidate, thus is a win in the court of public opinion.

I do agree with you about calling it bribery. Why even bother using the term campaign contribution anymore? "Bribe" is a convenient synonym with fewer syllables.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 7 months ago | (#46721325)

Lost public opinion? Maybe on /. but not to most of the voting public.

This. Most of the voting public looks out into the world and sees that they have only one choice for cable, whether that's Comcast or Time Warner or something else. They realize that a TW/Comcast merger will leave them with exactly the same one choice, maybe with a different name is all ("Timecast"? "Comner"? "Timefinity"?). In this case, one plus one really does equal one. Where's the reduced competition? Same choice before, same choice after.

And costs going up? That's going to happen whether the merger happens or not.

No, there's just not much there for the voting public to latch onto as a serious issue.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 7 months ago | (#46720385)

Why would you care about public opinion if you're buying a monopoly? What is the cable company going to do if you tell them to fuck off? Lick their fingers and rub their nipples? [youtube.com]

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 7 months ago | (#46720831)

Comcast isn't quite a monopoly, and won't be even if they've merged with Time Warner. That said, the number of choices for cable/internet/phone to a specific person tend to be pretty small ... and sometimes the number of choices is one, but often it's two or three. For example, I live in the suburbs of Austin, and can get service from Time Warner, AT&T, Direct TV and Dish Network. Now, the last two are really only good options for cable and not phone/internet, but even so, there's still two choices for that. And Grande is available in some parts of town (but not where I live), and Google is coming too.

And that said, if enough people get pissed off at a true monopoly, the government has been known to step in and tear them apart. They certainly want to avoid that.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 7 months ago | (#46721701)

it probably won't be long until AT&T merge with Comcast

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (3, Interesting)

Lobachevsky (465666) | about 7 months ago | (#46720563)

Donations aren't bribery, because donations aren't payment _for_ anything. A bribe is payment _for_ some political action. It's completely legal to give donations. That's why prostitution is illegal but high-end escorts are legal. The high-end escort asks for a 'donation' and no service is promised. Of course, it's pretty obvious she won't give any service if there's no donation. But she doesn't _promise_ service for a donation. It's just that her reputation as an escort will suffer if she takes the money and runs. If she does turn tricks and the police catch her, she gets off scott free under the story that she independently fell in love and wanted a night of romance wit the John, which had _nothing_ to do with with the "donation". Senators and other politicians are high-end escorts of a different shade.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46722787)

Anon as I modded here.

If donations are not bribery, then *why* did Comcast give money to the people involved in making the decision on it's merger?

I get your high end escort metaphor and I see how it applies, but as long as we are going to allow this, we will continue to move toward plutocracy.
We need to remove money from the election campaigning in it's current form.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46723655)

The problem of US law in a nutshell. As long as you come up with a technicality it's ok, no matter that anyone with a shred of common sense sees there is no difference.

Re:If this is not a bribery then I don't know what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720583)

Shouldn't all those politicians recuse themselves from voting? Or are rules for politicians different from normal.

Peanuts. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720039)

This is all we know about. You'd be a fool to think that millions more didn't seep in to their pockets via other dark money laundering.

Damn, I want my piece! (2)

228e2 (934443) | about 7 months ago | (#46720087)

I work at the FCC (as an Engineer) I want some of that trickle down . . . . :(

Re:Damn, I want my piece! (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#46720159)

I work at the FCC (as an Engineer) I want some of that trickle down . . . . :(

Have you tried discovering that the merger would cause *some sort of treknobabble apocalyptic issue involving scary RF terms and America losing its god-given right to TV*; but expressing a willingness to 'review your preliminary results in collaboration with industry experts' for a modest consulting fee?

Welcome to America! (4, Insightful)

mmell (832646) | about 7 months ago | (#46720155)

We're very proud here. We have the best government that money can buy!

Re:Welcome to America! (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 7 months ago | (#46722933)

You forget that the USA is a capitalist state. You have the cheapest government that money can buy, not the best.

Re:Welcome to America! (1)

MrNemesis (587188) | about 7 months ago | (#46723295)

Oblig. Onion [theonion.com]

One dollar, one vote!

Wolf PAC (2)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | about 7 months ago | (#46720277)

Get money out of politics! http://www.wolf-pac.com/ [wolf-pac.com]

Re:Wolf PAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720413)

wolf pac get money out of politics by putting more money into politics?

Order Of Events (2, Interesting)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about 7 months ago | (#46720291)

It would probably be useful to specify the order of events in TFS, as the current summary implies they received campaign contributions after they started investigating the merger.

TFA is focusing on past campaign contributions - that is contributions before the investigation, seeing as how the investigation just started. Everyone on the committee has received a campaign contribution at some point in the past, even Al Franken. Which is more a statement on the fact that Comcast pretty much contributes to every incumbent's congressional campaign, rather than this being a case of where these senators were specifically targeted.

Which to be clear, still isn't a good thing by any means. This means everyone on that committee has received a contribution at some point. But it's not the same thing as giving contributions to someone when an active investigation is going on, something that would be far shadier.

Re:Order Of Events (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720599)

Why won't they give me a contribution? Is it because I can't potentially make a law, or vote them into some favorable condition? If so, this should be illegal for any of them to vote or rule on anything having to do with Comcast.

Re:Order Of Events (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46721745)

They're far fucking shadier no matter when they got the fucking money.

Re:Order Of Events (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46721783)

The famous saying "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country". I'm just an American fucking citizen so there's nothing I can fucking do except keep my guns ready for that day we take this mother fucker back.

With or without PAC's... (1)

buttfuckinpimpnugget (662332) | about 7 months ago | (#46720299)

This would happen anyway. As long as violent, coercive government exists with power over others it will always be corrupt. The answer is to take the power away.

Liberals should be happy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720339)

Comcast has given Billions to Obama and left wing causes. They run MSNBC as a propaganda arm of the DNC, so all you liberals should be happy that Comcast will become the only cable provider.

Need Law (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720375)

There is no way that any business should be allowed to donate money to the world of politics. Each individual should be able to donate and that donation should be fully disclosed for all to see. But businesses should not be allowed to donate or lobby at all.

Mfrost pist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720431)

Clear 5he couldn't

Dumb and Dumber (3, Informative)

jtara (133429) | about 7 months ago | (#46720519)

San Diego developers already use cable service as a criteria when house-hunting. You want to be in a Cox area! Unfortunately, most of the jobs are in Time Warner areas. Now the service will go from bad to worse...

-- a lucky South-of-Interstate-8 developer...

supreme court says (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about 7 months ago | (#46720795)

Guys, money is free speech.

And LIRC bribery usually involves talking to someone first....

Chuck Schumer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46720801)

The ranking D on the commitee that will be "looking at" the merger had to recuse himself because his brother is in line to reap millions if the deal goes through.

This is what most government is for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46721059)

Most regulations are simply not needed. In huge swaths of government regulation, you find the fingerprints of lobbyists and corporate titans (many of them long dead) who pushed rules to establish congressional oversight. A lot of airline regulation can be traced back to the early days of the fights between Pan Am and TWA (neither of which still exist). This corruption makes it more difficult to any person or company that comes along later. Members of congress are able to campaign on (and raise funds from lobbyists on) promises to (depending on political ties and party) remove/strengthen the regulations, or enforce/grant relief from the regulations. Corporations and their lobbyists work the levers of government to use these regulations as cudgels in competition. Members of congress and presidential administrations and the lobbyists all have a hand-in-glove relationship in this.... they're all using each other and hoping the general public never wises-up.

The only path to getting rid of this garbage is much smaller government... get the Democrats AND the Republicans AND the corporations (who buy them) AND the lawyers (who enable all the abuse) out of as much as possible. We need very few (very clear and basic) laws. Instead of thousands of pages of law on business fraud, we need a two-page law that simply defines fraud and then applies it to all business transactions. If a law takes more than 2 single-space typed pages, it probably has loopholes to enable the lawyers and lobbyists. Same thing for ownership of broadcast rights, etc. Simple and clear, loophole-free, laws.

Why isn't this fucking bribery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46721087)

Because it isn't (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 7 months ago | (#46721225)

Note that they didn't say - "Hey, we're going to do this merger, here's a check for $50k to help you do the right thing." Money that is considered for this "story" goes back to 2009, long before anyone was talking about a merger, or even the NBC/Universal acquisition.

That's not to say the whole system isn't corrupt - people and corporations buy influence with congressman all the time through donations. But this isn't a case of a bribe - it's buying recognition and face time. Something which is not illegal but should be as it skews the perspective seen by those who are making laws.

And, in other news, Ars also reported that: (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 7 months ago | (#46721135)

  • Water is wet
  • The Sun is hot
  • The sky is blue (except for where it's gray)

Re:And, in other news, Ars also reported that: (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 7 months ago | (#46724671)

The weather tonight, Darl.

Continued mostly dark overnight with widely scattered light towards dawn...

PI thank you fOr your time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46721723)

another special JOIN THE GNNA!! distributions 7000 users of fly...don't fear in jocks or chaps BSD has always Believe their you need to succeed the channel to sign

Breaking News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46721939)

U.S. representatives now placing their votes up for sale on E-Bay ;)

News? (4, Insightful)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about 7 months ago | (#46721961)

This would have been news if Comcast didn't give every member of congress that had anything to do with their merger money.

People don't care anymore. The people in power have switched the conversation from us (regular people) vs them (those in positions of power) into us ("democrats") vs us ("republicans"). If you point out that huge corporations bribe congress someone will point out that huge unions bribe congress. If you point out that the oil/gas sectors bribe republicans someone will point out that hollywood bribes democrats. We can't have a conversation about how it is wrong for any special interest to have that much influence just because of $ because we are too busy beating each other over the head.

The argument people have now is: "my special interest should be lobbying, your special interest shouldn't".

Re:News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46724481)

That's the catch-22 of a libertarian individualist. Humans as a baseline are fallible and opportunistic. Collective groups of any type are made of people - corporations, gov'ts, unions, political parties, whatever. Tribalism always creeps back in. Even the noblest of groups can eventually stagnate into existing for their own sake instead of their original purpose, per Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy. This easily extends into exploiting outsiders and other weaker groups. Liberty depends upon decentralized power through checks and balances, yet any group is inherently more powerful than an individual that hopes decentralized power will be enforced. Further. many achievements may not be possible without the collective efforts and resources of a larger group. Thus the contradiction of the philosophical libertarian that says he doesn't trust people, but he distrusts groups more because they are still composed of people and are more powerful than individuals, so it follows that it must be safer to decentralize power down to the individual.

It results in unlimited cynicism with no practical constructive solution, but at the same time it is a valid observation about human nature. I just don't understand the unrealistic belief held by many that experts and leaders can be trusted to be more saintly than everyone else. They are people too.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Re:News? (2)

zarthrag (650912) | about 7 months ago | (#46724539)

Sigh....outlawing lobbying is like getting a 4yo to agree to abolishing cookie jars ... while his/her hand is in it. I don't see a solution to the problem at all. The USA is run by money to the point where it isn't proper to call it anything but an oligarchy.

Always vote against incumbents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46722073)

This is another reason you should always vote against incumbents. Make these bastards get as little for each "donation" as possible.

Oswald Spengler Was Right - (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46723803)

Democracy = Plutocracy

Re:Oswald Spengler Was Right - (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 7 months ago | (#46724649)

America never was a Democracy, it was and is a Plutocracy disguised as a representative republic.

legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46724083)

How is this not illegal?

Countering their best argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46724313)

Comcast says that the merger won't hurt competition because Comcast and TWC don't compete in the same market anywhere.
It may be true that there is no place where both companies offer service to the same customer.

This ignores the fact that a Comcast customer in region C can look at the cable rates in region T served by TWC and compare prices.
    If Comcast charged 10 times as much as TWC, you can be sure that the folks in region C would be talking to their regulators about why they are paying 10 times more that the folks in region T.

Having TWC around to provide a price benchmark is a form of competition that will go away with the merger.
    In this market served by so few friendly 'competitors', this isn't much, but it's about all that's left.
    For Comcast to have managed to get to this position is a tribute to their lobbyists.
    For the folks in govt to buy it is at best gullible.
    The proper response is sure, you can merge,
        and btw, welcome to long overdue common carrier status.

   

This sort of thing... (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 7 months ago | (#46724637)

...should be considered a treasonous level of bribery.

Invasion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46725025)

Looks like USA needs to invade itself to bring democracy. Buying off Senators is not democracy, just in case there's some doubt. Shouldn't all those Senators be struck off for accepting bribes, or are bribes fine in the USA.

It's not just Comcast & what the non-wealthy c (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46725031)

I have absolutely no love for Comcast.

But you would have to be amazingly ignorant to think that this is, at all, unusual. This is the way the US works.

Monsanto, Microsoft, etc. all work the same way.

The non-wealthy are not powerless, because the non-wealthy can organize, raise money, and hire lobbyists. It's difficult, but not impossible.

It's pay to play baby. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46725955)

We nerds have a responsibility to escape the cycle of complaints and do something that may actually influence things. Politicians are afraid to lose their seat before Comcast has given them assurances of lucrative positions for playing ball. We have to at least make one phone call to our senators.

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