Obama on Campaign Finance Reform and Gun Control

Barack Obama opted out of government financing for his first presidential campaign and he has also opted out of any government funding of his current campaign. President Obama, in fact, set a goal of raising $1 billion for the 2012 campaign. He initially ruled out superpac funding but has recently formed a superpac because he didn’t want his campaign to disarm itself against the political opposition. His campaign surrogates can meet with the super-funders but can’t solicit money.

The Sunlight Foundation found that Obama has raised more money from Wall Street over the past 20 years than any other politician. The total he has raised from Wall Street is about $42 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

About six months into President Obama’s current term, a group of Foreign Service officers did a fairly unusual thing: they wrote a letter to Obama raising a concern that he was appointing too many fundraisers and persons closely allied to him politically. They were concerned that Obama was violating the unwritten rule that no more than 30 percent of ambassadorial appointments should be political in nature. Obama then reportedly dialed down on his politically-related ambassadorial appointees. Yet, he did appoint major fundraisers to be U.S. ambassadors to Japan, the United Kingdom and France.

“Bundlers” are mega-fundraisers who gather up large campaign contributions from a number of donors. Way back in November 2009, the Center for Responsive Politics reported that 24 of Obama’s high-profile nominees had been bundlers for Obama. Collectively, they had corralled $10 million.

Coming up to more recent times, on October 28, 2011 the New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau reported that the Obama campaign was working with 15 bundlers who were linked to the lobbying industry. They had collectively raised more than $5 million for the campaign. Technically, they were not lobbyists, because they were not registered as federal lobbyists with the U.S, Senate. Two of the bundlers, at least, were linked with major corporations: Sally Susuran with Pfiger and David L. Cohen with Comcast.

Given President Obama’s track record, anyone interested in campaign finance reform should not expect anything to happen on it in the national government until 2017, at the earliest, if Barack Obama wins a second term.

Gun Control

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chief policy adviser told the media that Bloomberg and his team are still waiting for President Obama to carry out his promise made to Rep. Giffords (D-AZ) that he will do something on gun control. This promise was made shortly after Giffords was severely injured with a gunshot to the head. It is extremely unlikely that this promise will be fulfilled before November 2012, because President Obama is very unlikely to risk incurring the wrath of the National Rifle Association.

The other major firearms issue that Obama has faced is the very embarrassing program labeled “Fast and Furious,” whereby guns were allowed to be purchased near the Mexican border, with the goal of tracking them to drug cartels. Some of the guns were later used in crimes of great violence. At least three White House officials knew about the operation but a senior official said there was nothing to prove that the White House knew of the “investigative” aspects.

The extent to which there is this burning desire to get as many guns into the hands of Americans as possible was illustrated by two happenings in the past year. The GOP-controlled U.S. House passed a bill requiring states that issue permits allowing the residents to carry concealed weapons to recognize the permits issued by every other state. Thus, states with stringent training or age requirements would need to recognize permits issued by states with very lax requirements.

The second happening was the Virginia legislature repealing a law allowing the purchase of only one gun a month. Why people should be allowed to have an unlimited number of guns in their possession defies any logic about community safety.

There is a fascinating counterpoint to tales of the Wild West, centering on gunfights, as opposed to the open availability of firearms today, even the right to carry concealed firearms. Adam Winklere, in his book, Gun Fight, noted that state and local governments routinely banned concealed weapons in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Even Dodge City and Tombstone required “new arrivals” to turn their guns over to authorities while in town.

Gun control is a misnomer when regarded in terms of a ban on assault rifles and preventing unstable or mentally ill persons from posssessing firearms. These measures are largely palliative in nature: the handgun is the major instrument of crimes resulting in death or serious injury. The most effective type of gun control would be to ban the manufacture and importation of handguns and handgun parts.

Unless I fall prey to laziness, I will do a longer piece on gun, or firearms control at a later date.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s