Posted by: Ali Davis | October 12, 2010

Let’s prank some billionaires.

I know most pranks aren’t very funny. Hear me out.

As you have doubtless noticed, this year’s political campaigns are less about real substance and thoughtful argument – or even the usual stupid arguments – than they have been about who has the resources to fill battleships with money and then fire briefcases full of it at TV and radio stations until everyone agrees to vote if they’ll only stop running those awful commercials.

Here in California, Meg Whitman, who has spent $140 million and counting on the Governor’s race, has released a barrage of ads, many of them on the radio so you won’t see that freako thing that happens to her face when she tries to pull the corners of her mouth up into what she thinks a warm smile might look like.

But even though Whitman didn’t give enough of a rat about politics to register to vote until she was 46 and then woke up one day and decided that impulse-buying a Governorship and cutting her own taxes would be a more diverting challenge than collecting Stradivariuses or simply purchasing an island and a big-ass crown, she’s far from the creepiest thing that’s happening.

Thanks to the Citizens United ruling, corporations and the super-rich can now just hook money-hoses up to the election or ballot measure of their choice and pump in however much they want, usually without revealing who they are.

You could have knocked the nation over with a gold-plated ostrich plume when it was revealed that this new set of circumstances tends to favor the interests of large corporations and the obscenely wealthy. Croesus has been trying to claw his way out of the grave just so he can pick a state and Whitman it up.

It will also not surprise anyone to hear that Karl Rove, the ringworm of American politics, has eagerly splashed into the new political cesspool right up to his neck.

What’s amazing is that even with roughly the same code of conduct that used to be in play at the less-reputable ancient Roman orgies, Rove still can’t manage to stick to the rules.

No matter how much filth is already involved in a given situation, Karl Rove is compelled drizzle another bucketful of sleaze over the pile. He’s like a perpetual motion machine for scumbaggery.

Rove’s American Crossroads PAC – founded by and for Republicans who think the Tea Partiers are too low-rent but are terrified of saying it out loud – is largely funded by four billionaires who think the super-rich just don’t have enough say in our legislative process.

Rove’s PAC has also been rubbing elbows (at a minimum – has there ever been a more appropriate time for the phrase ” bumping uglies”?) with the charmers at the Chamber of Commerce, who were soooo not satisfied with just lobbying to keep you from being able to afford chemotherapy.

The Chamber of Commerce, in turn, has been stonewalling questions about their fast ‘n’ easy method for collecting foreign contributions on one side and barfing out cookie-cutter scare-tactic campaign ads on the other.

It’s OK, though, because they are scrupulously keeping those funds in separate cookie jars and one has a Post-it on it that says “Foreign Money! Do not use for campaign ads!” and it hardly ever falls off except when somebody knocks it.

In case you are confused about Republican values at this point: Traveling in foreign countries and trying to understand the points of view of their citizens to help forge better international policy, like President Obama has done, is subversive and bad; taking great, heaving chunks of anonymous financial donations from foreign interests who would like to directly influence our elections is totally not a big deal, so just drop it, OK?

It all makes sense when you spell it out.

…And The New York Times has a story today about yet another anonymous political fund connected to already-powerful corporate interests.

It’s infuriating, yes. Corporations and the individual super-rich now have ridiculous amounts of muscle to throw into political fights. They can produce more ads and buy more airtime and overwhelm uninformed voters with a roar of repeated messages, whether those messages are honest or not.

Here’s the good news:

These guys are vulnerable to pranking, because they are all about return on investment.

Oh, sure, they occasionally join in the screaming about wedge issues like whether to keep members of the LGBT community locked up in parrot cages or how to stop women from even thinking about using birth control or launching serious investigations into whether the President secretly arrived on this planet via Communist meteor – not that any objections to him are about race or anything – but that’s all just to keep the social conservative ground troops interested.

Rest assured, this gang is about piling up great big dragon hoards of money.

And the reason they are spending so much of it now is that they have learned that paying lobbyists and funding politicians who know which side of their bread has the non-dairy genetically modified corn syrup-based processed food spread on it allows them to game the system, jigger the tax rates, power-drill some loopholes, and consequently earn back a great deal more than they invested.

And this is where the prank kicks in.

Though the super-rich can buy the means to bellow as loud and as long as they want, they can’t actually cast our votes for us. (Well, not all of us. Not yet.)

What we need to do – Don’t everybody look over at them at once! – is to let them think that their plan is working.

But just barely working. Make sure they understand that the money oobleck has an effect, but it needs to keep flowing.

Write and talk and post and make videos about the truth. Bug your friends to get out and vote – remind them about that pot legalization ballot measure, if you have to – and do whatever other work you feel compelled to do.

But also keep a phone tree going so we can check in with each other and keep answering polls to make it look like the Republicans are ahead, ideally just by the skin of their newly Invisaligned teeth.

Keep that money flowing: $300 million more, $500 million more, whatever they think it’ll take.

Then vote for whomever you want.

And demand massive, radical campaign finance reform the second he or she takes office and don’t stop calling, e-mailing, actual-paper-letter-writing, and stopping-them-on-the-street-to-bitch-ing until we get it.

The hard fact is that we are screwed for getting laws that actually help the country passed until we can stop the current ridiculously corrupt system of legalized bribery.

The fun fact is that if we play this right, we can make The Koch Brothers and all their friends spend hundreds of millions of dollars with zero return on their investment.

Gone. Goose egg. Vanished into the airwaves, and not even a pennies-on-the-dollar deal to dump toxic waste in national parks to show for it.

And then we can call them to ask if their diamond-studded yacht refrigerators are running. I love that one.


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