Wednesday, May 14, 2008

From the Crawford ranch to the threshold of federal prison?

The headline above refers not to the president but to one of his guests: Zachariah Zachariah. Wednesday’s Miami Herald has the excellent revelation that “insider trading figure has ties to Bush family.” Thanks, Beth Reinhard, for laying this one out for us.

It’s fitting that this is about insider trading. The currently ruling crowd thinks the law doesn’t apply to them, and they can make up the rules as they wish. Whether it’s war by deceit or signing statements that change the will of Congress, it’s OK for the White House. And don’t worry about making stock market profits on information not available to the public. We don’t care if it’s not fair or legal or moral – just do it.

I’m going to shift gears here and post a link to an article in The Atlantic June issue, just hot from my mailbox, that revealed a lot to me about how Barack Obama has been able to raise a quarter of a billion dollars. Not from so many big donors, according to this long piece in the magazine, but from a ton of smaller donors. Well, we knew that, but … the detail, the detail – how?

There’s also an article with some predictions of how the Obama administration will use the internet in new ways.

Obama clearly intends to use the Web, if he is elected president, to transform governance just as he has transformed campaigning. Notably, he has spoken of conducting “online fireside chats” as president. And when one imagines how Obama’s political army, presumably intact, might be mobilized to lobby for major legislation with just a few keystrokes, it becomes possible, for a moment at least, to imagine that he might change the political culture of Washington simply by overwhelming it.

Now there’s an interesting thought: to overwhelm the political culture of Washington. And this form of money raising through many smaller donors leaves Obama less vulnerable to accusations of influence by big donors. Anyone remember the selling of the Lincoln Bedroom? Too cringe-making.

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