Return of the Return of the Goo-Goos (or, The Best Candidates Money Can Buy)

The One Percenters are looking for a better class of candidates. True, the 2012 presidential race looks to be between a millionaire and a quarter-billionaire, but the Democrat is a known traitor to his class and the presumptive Repub candidate is just embarrassing. So our financial betters have decided to pay some of their more deserving courtiers to gin up publicity for adding more horses’ arses to the horserace. And, for irony, they call themselves: American Select — I mean, Americans Elect!

From Dan Froomkin at Huffington Post:

Americans Elect, a group trying to launch a third-party presidential ticket, was accused by a prominent campaign watchdog Wednesday of violating tax and campaign finance disclosure laws.
Fred Wertheimer, head of Democracy 21, said in a statement that the group is posing as a “social welfare group” rather than a political organization in order “to keep secret from the American people the donors supporting its political activities.”
Social welfare groups don’t have to disclose who underwrites them — but they’re also supposed to stay out of elections.
Meanwhile, at a kickoff event for Americans Elect at the National Press Club on Tuesday, the group’s leaders described how they intend to put a “nonpartisan presidential ticket” — chosen through an online, open nominating convention — on the ballot in all 50 states. The goal, they said, it to give voters an alternative to the limited choice the two-party system provides.
Kahlil Byrd, the group’s CEO, said it is operating “completely within the bounds” of the law. He noted that unlike a traditional political group, “Americans Elect has no candidate and has no issue.”
As for the donors, he said, the reason they want to remain secret is to avoid political payback. “This is a very tough political environment,” he said. “Retribution is real.”
Byrd also, perhaps contradictorily, described donating to the campaign as “a small act of courage.”…

Very small, indeed. Let’s play these brave souls a tribute on the world’s tiniest violin. Alex MacGinnis at TNR adds a money shot:

… [Americans Elect] announced today that they have secured ballot access in Ohio, after having already secured it in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Kansas, Florida and Michigan. They have collected 1.9 million petition signatures in all, more than halfway to the needed goal of 2.9 million. They are also nearing their $30 million fundraising goal — the bulk of it in chunks of more than $100,000 from about 50 well-heeled backers — and have close to 150 paid staff.
There have been previous efforts by “radical centrists” who take a pox-on-both-houses approach to dysfunction in Washington — last time around, there was Unity ’08, which also sought to nominate a bipartisan ticket online, and then there’s No Labels, which was created recently by a group of Beltway poo-bahs to encourage bipartisan behavior in Washington. But Americans Elect could cause much more of a stir than either of these. Unity ’08 foundered because it could raise money only in $2,500 increments, like any other presidential campaign; but it challenged that limit, and a court ruling last year determined that a ballot-access effort that wasn’t actually promoting a specific candidate does not have to abide by the $2,500 cap. So Americans Elect has been able to raise the pile of money needed to fund a serious ballot-access campaign. Most third-party candidates struggle because they have a hard time getting on ballots after they announce, typically fairly late in the process. But Americans Elect will in all likelihood be on every state’s ballot, or close to it…

Dave Weigel at Slate casts a cold eye on the chances that “Americans Elect Will Save Our Democracy With Secret Money, Probably From Hedge Funds“:

… The group has $22 million. We only know where $1.58 million is coming from. Our only clue about the source of the funding comes, helpfully, from Tom Friedman’s dippy press release column about the group: We know it’s “financed with some serious hedge-fund money.” Which hedge funds? What have they donated to in the past? Which candidates have the people donating to the group donated to in the past? AE is effectively a Super PAC for either 1) bupkis and total failure or 2) a wealthy candidate who can take over all the ballot lines painstakingly bought by AE. (The men featured in a hypothetical candidate round-up at this launch event: sputtering GOP candidate Jon Huntsman, scandalized former Democratic candidate Bill Richardson, conservative Democrat Joe Manchin, and Democrat-turned-barely visible Republican John Hoeven.)
In the meantime, good news: A secretive group funded by hedge funds has secured a ballot line in Ohio. Do you feel better about democracy yet?

The closer from Froomkin, again:

… The group is clearly positioning itself to harness and channel the intense dissatisfaction voters currently have with the candidates the political parties have been offering them. But the goal seems to be more a centrist mash-up of the two parties than a dramatic alternative. The group’s bylaws, for instance, appear to allow its leaders to veto any ticket they don’t consider “balanced.”
And while the group used pictures from the Occupy protests in its presentation on Tuesday, its chief strategist is Douglas Schoen, a pollster and Fox News political analyst who just a few weeks ago penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he asserted that the Occupy Wall Street protesters supported “radical left-wing policies” that “are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people.”

As I have said before, these guys are Goo-goos, the farcical inheritors of yet another unlamented historical oddity from the original Gilded Age. The Very Serious People who pursed up their thin lips against the horrors of Tammany Hall were a mixture of robber barons out to destroy all competition, struggling small-town bidnizmin resentful of the post-Civil-War immigrants and industrialists stealing their captive markets and luring the smartest of their serfs and offspring away from the virtuous Heartland(tm) to the glamorous big cities, pious worthies fearful that technological progress would breed corruption of their sacred values, and the sharpies, grifters and conmen ever ready to part deep-pocketed fools from their money. Today’s Zombie Goo-Goos are no different, just more pathetic — imagine the contempt with which Jay Gould and Martin Lomasney would greet Donald Trump and Douglas Schoen!

65 replies
  1. 1
    Nellcote says:

    Famed PUMA Lady Lynn Rothchild is hooked up with this group too.

  2. 2
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Keep fucking that chicken, America’s Erect.

  3. 3
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Funny. Some guy with a petition representing them hit me up for a signature as I was headed in to the public library this afternoon. I had no idea who/what they were, and he wasn’t very forthcoming, so I said “no, thanks.” He’s either persistent or has a short memory, because he hit me up again when I was leaving.

  4. 4
    Helen says:

    You know the problem the 99%’rs are going to have is the same old, same old. I have a sister who grew up like me. Blue collar, just making it. I got myself an Ivy league Masters degree and she is still a waitress. But she married someone who has semi-rich parents. I make tons more money than she and her husband. She is poor as poor can be. But when she needs something, her in-laws provide it. Her husbands buisness? the parents bought it (and he hasn’t made a penny in 3 yrs. And it’s the 3rd business he’s owned. The others crapped out). The vacations? The parents pay. The funeral for her son? (another wing-nut story that you would not believe) The in-laws paid.

    I have paid for everything I have and I am doing well. But I consider myself one of the 99% and she considers herself one of the 1%.

    If I see one more Ayn Rand quote on her facebook page I am going to lose it.

    Denial is a strong emotion. I am SURE I cannot change her mind. So on we go.

  5. 5
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    You are going with a pro-Tammany Hall take on things? Interesting.

  6. 6
    BGinCHI says:

    @Helen: Resentment knows no bounds.

  7. 7
    Calouste says:

    The group’s bylaws, for instance, appear to allow its leaders to veto any ticket they don’t consider “balanced.”

    The marketing on this group is not good. American Select is obviously a crappy name, so they need something better. I suggest “I can’t believe it’s not Democracy”.

  8. 8
    Dave says:

    Americans Elect? Honestly, why don’t they just call themselves We’re Better Than You, Peasant.

  9. 9
    Suffern ACE says:

    And what pray tell would they do with this election if they were to win it? Show it off to their friends?

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    “Elect a President, not a party”

    This is their slogan.

    It’s moronic on its face, because the reason you have parties is to draw together individuals to find someone to represent their views and elect to office.

    That’s what a party does.

    They’re idiots. Anyone who listens to them is an idiot.

    Because if you vote for an individual, their policy choices should reflect as much as possible those you favor. Belonging to a party helps with that…and provides other individuals with similar views for other offices, so that, this group as a whole, works to put their policy choices to work to craft legislation and, well, you know, FUCKING GOVERN THE FUCKING COUNTRY.

    Pardon my French, but this is just such utter bullshit no matter who the backers of it are…and the people Anne tells us about does not surprise me in the slightest…a stealth outfit of 1% scum. But even if they were not, the idea is still utterly ridiculous on its face.

    Political parties don’t just exist on a whim. Their candidates might (see Nader, Ralph) but the parties bring together individuals to act as a group.

    Oh, and Friedman’s talking about these guys? That removes all doubt. The other day Friedman was reporting talking to yet another magic brown person on the subcontinent, this time about Afghanistan, and the guy told him about an Indian regime in the past that tried to suppress the Afghans, and fell flat on their face. You know, like the Brits, the Russians, and the FUCKING DESERTING COWARD MALASSMINISTRATION and its successor.

    OK, I’ve ranted enough. Onwards.

  11. 11
    BGinCHI says:

    @Calouste: I was thinking this scam sounded like Three Party Monte.

  12. 12
    Zagloba says:

    Aye, and if they’re on the ballot in Ohio, whom do they siphon more votes from — the incumbents who own the stagnant economy, or the obstructionists who are responsible for it?

  13. 13
    BGinCHI says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Mark Penn has to be lurking around there.

  14. 14
    Nellcote says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    They get paid per signature collected.

  15. 15
    Suffern ACE says:

    @BGinCHI: Yep. I’m going to go with Carville, who was on the TV a month or so back ranting about a third party bid, and probably Schoen as well. Pretty much anybody who has been on the old TV with puppy-dog eyes because their bank account isn’t being filled this election cycle.

  16. 16
    Jenny says:


    Famed PUMA Lady Lynn Rothchild is hooked up with this group too.

    That is her Baroness Lady Lynn Forester de Rothchild to you.

  17. 17
    Helen says:

    Until the election laws change, nothing will change. But say to a wing-nut (or anyone) “taxpayer funded elections” and they scream about their precious money. They have no clue how much of their precious money is being spent on lobbyists and their “representatives” doing the bidding of special interests. Unfortunately Citizens United made the pendulam swing even more in this way.

  18. 18
    BGinCHI says:

    @Suffern ACE: You got it. It’s all about attention and face time.

    Ego is what passes for talent in that world.

  19. 19
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Perfect name for someone who needs a tumbrel ride.

  20. 20
    amk says:

    Wasn’t colbert peddling this group on his show recently ?

    “No candidate … no issue ?”

    What the frack is that ?

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Carville, the guy who sleeps with a fucking apprentice to Darth Cheney?

    Carville, the guy who leaked Kerry campaign strategy through said succubus?

    Another asshole who needs a tumbrel ride, stat. Any Dem who hires him is a fucking fool.

  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Jenny: FWIW a baroness would be addressed as Lady [insert name here]. Yes, I have done protocol related work in the past. Would anyone like to know who sits higher at a dinner table, a German Count or a US General? No, I thought not.

  23. 23
    aliasofwestgate says:

    Michigan? As if we dont’ have enough issues with the idiots in Lansing. Snyder and his lot of cronies.

  24. 24
    hhex65 says:

    @Zagloba: they sound like potential “Democrats for Romney” to me, but who knows?

  25. 25
    Menzies says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    OT as hell, but I would, actually. :-)

  26. 26
    Calouste says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I’d like to, but unless your protocol work is in the rather distant past, the US General would take precedence as Germany abolished all aristocratic titles with the fall of the Kaiser.

  27. 27
    xian says:

    let them waste their fucking money. nobody’s voting for a Bloomberg/Friedman jackoff ticket.

  28. 28
    Adrian Haiwei says:

    These guys could be dangerous. Maybe its a stealth platform form a Daniels-Bayh ticket…

  29. 29
    Calouste says:

    Btw, the intention of “I can’t believe it’s not Democracy” is ofcourse to ratfuck Obama by tempting the Jane Hamsher with a Kuchinic/Paul ticket or something like that. But considering the massive popularity of non-Romney in the GOP, it could spectacularly backfire if Romney becomes the candidate and a lot of the GOP flees to whichever non-Romney is on the ICBIND ticket.

  30. 30
    Menzies says:


    I’d imagine some of the bigger houses are given protocol courtesy, though.

  31. 31
    Nellcote says:


    That is her Baroness Lady Lynn Forester de Rothchild to you.

    Actually I call her that bitch that had the nerve to call Prez Obama an “elitist”.

  32. 32
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Calouste: Officially, yes. Socially, no. I found the Germans to be very class and rank conscious. For example, in a conversation with German secondary school teacher who was about 15 years older than I was at the time, he used the familiar “du” for you with me until he asked what my military rank was and discovered that I was an officer. He immediately switched to the more formal and respectful “sie.” Anecdata, I know, but similar situations were repeated throughout my time in Germany.

    And for a US function, you would be crazy to seat a pansy Kraut aristo ahead of US flag rank officer.

    ETA: The French and Italian also still have “titled” aristos.

  33. 33
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Calouste: @Adrian Haiwei: Honestly, I don’t know who the heck it might be. Daniels would need to splain why it is that his wife has now changed her mind and it’s o.k. for him to run. If you’re going to take a motto of “vote for the person, not the party” you’d better have a charismatic person, and that just is not Indiana politician, neither Senator nor Governor. Also, no way you’re going to have a Dennis/Ronald ticket backed by finance guys, even to fuck Obama. I mean the only thing those guys agree on is a less force project in foreign policy and auditing the fed…and both those things aren’t exactly “non-partisian” for our war mongering, wealth loving New York “centrist” radicals.

  34. 34
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @ AL @ top: I have always seen the Goo-Goos as good government people like those who followed the progressives in WI and MN. The people didn’t institute, but administered the first unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation programs in the US. They also got rid of patronage in government employment when they developed a civil service system with exams on merit. But compare them to the current assholes all you want. They are dead and won’t feel defamed.

  35. 35
    Nellcote says:

    via Wikipedia:

    Americans Elect’s web site (retrieved 2011-09-24) lists Kellen Arno as National Field Director and Michael Arno as Ballot Access Advisor for Americans Elect.[10] Michael Arno is the president of Arno Political Consultants.[14]

    Arno Political Consultants, Inc. (APC) is a company based in Lincoln, California. The company was founded in 1979 by Michael Arno.[1]

    The company reports that its former and current clients include the National Rifle Association and R. J. Reynolds.[2]

    APC has frequently been the subject of controversy over its bait-and-switch tactics, bribery, forgery, and other types of fraud in gathering signatures

  36. 36
    Calouste says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    In Germany, everyone with a certain status is addressed as “Sie”, even by people with a similar status they have known for years. This includes anyone with an academic title of Dr., probably some other academic titles as well, officers, members of parliament etc.

    Germany doesn’t have titled aristocrats. German families who held aristocratoc titles before 1918 are allowed to include their former title as part of their surname. So in Germany Georg Graf van Battenberg has the surname “Graf von Battenberg”, where in the United Kingdom, Earl Mountbatten would have the title of Earl and the surname of Mountbatten.

  37. 37
    Helen says:

    Hey Coulast talk about aristocrats. I cannot tell you how disapointed I am in Jane (who you mentioned before). OK maybe I am behind the times; I got back into politics cuzza Jane and Marcy and the libby trial; but I used to think she had a clue. When the whole Weiner thing happened I told her at her place that Weiner would lose. I live in his district and I knew what was going on. She totally blew me off. Turns out Jane was wrong.

    Dunno what my point is – except even the “experts” don’t have a clue.

  38. 38
    Calouste says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I’m hoping for Palin to capture that nomination. Romney would win Utah, and Obama would sweep the rest of the states.

    I also don’t really see who could be on there. The owners of ICBIND are going to torpedo any tea party candidate on the Republican side, so they are not going to have much of an attraction. The main problem they are going to have is that no ballot paper is going to be big enough to contain the egos of both candidates. I mean, we’re talking about the Liebermans, the Byahs, the Heath Shulers, and that’s just the Democratic half.

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Calouste: As I said, in social terms, the Fuerst von Many-syllables-Omygodhisnamejust doesntstop-doesit gets treated as though his title has meaning. I understand what you are saying about the legal status of the titles, but, in Bavaria and Wuertemburg where I lived and worked from 1989-1992, this is how social functions worked. Also, my personal experience was that the demarcation between officer and enlisted was much larger in the mind of Germans than it was for Americans.

  40. 40
    Zagloba says:

    @Helen: Until the election laws change, nothing will change.

    Damn right…

    But say to a wing-nut (or anyone) “taxpayer funded elections” and they scream about their precious money.

    … oh wait, I thought you were talking about something else.

    /Namely: getting rid of the two-party system by instituting proportional representation.

  41. 41
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Also, my personal experience was that the demarcation between officer and enlisted was much larger in the mind of Germans than it was for Americans.

    There was an old Prussian tradition of having higher ranking officers also be nobles. This was a great way of getting rid of younger sons who otherwise would be eyeing succession and possibly causing trouble.

    (Note: This is not exclusively a Teutonic concept.)

  42. 42
    Helen says:

    Oh hey Zag – sorry my “link” thingee is not working. You are talking aout parlimentary elections. Um, not in America. Because Americans LOVE winners and they hate losers. That’s why OWS is so popular. There is only one thing America hates more than they love winners; and that is cheaters. And that is what Wall Street is. A buncha cheaters.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: Pretty much. In the German town where I spent most of my time, my battalion’s motor pool buildings had been the stables and motor pool of Claus von Stauffenburg’s cavalry unit. The Stauffenburgs had been a stunningly significant family in the area for years. I actually met Stauffenburg’s son at a reception.

  44. 44
    Nellcote says:

    Americans Elect Board of Advisors: Names and Connections

  45. 45
    Helen says:

    Not that I would not LOVE a communist or a socialist party but that is not going to happen in America.

  46. 46
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The Crusades was a great method for distracting your younger noble progeny also. In a way daughters were easier: you married them off and they were pretty much out of your hair permanently.

  47. 47
    patrick II says:

    As I have said before, these guys are Goo-goos, the farcical inheritors of yet another unlamented historical oddity from the original Gilded Age.

    I suppose the true believers in the middle way who expect their candidate to do well are indeed farcical. But I think some of the big money is there to create4 a third party candidate who might take away enough undeclared voters from Obama that, when combined with voter suppression and congressional economic sabotage, might put a republican candidate over the top.

  48. 48
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Nellcote: Huntsman-Bayh, and yes, Schoen “the tea party is the future” is in there.

  49. 49
    Amir Khalid says:

    Funny you should mention him. Louis Mountbatten, the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, used to have a street named after him here in Kuala Lumpur.

  50. 50
    Rafer Janders says:


    Not true at all. They don’t create any new titles, but those with titles keep them. I’ve met and known dozens of titled Germans (and they are also still titled French, Austrians, and Italians, among others, even though none of those countries are kingdoms anymore).

  51. 51
    Rafer Janders says:

    To be accurate, nobility as a legal state of being was abolished in Germany in 1919 (i.e. it ceased to confer any special legal privileges), but those with noble titles kept them and are commonly addressed by them.

  52. 52
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yes, but the demarcation between rich and poor was smaller. Germans are concerned with social status; Americans, with money. As a result, however, a poor German does not feel himself to be as inferior to a rich German as we see the division here.

  53. 53
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Quite right about the titles. At parties and other social gatherings I’ve been to, the various Grafs, Herzogs, Prinzessins etc. are addressed by their titles.

    So, for example, I would address Georg Graf [i.e. Count] von Battenberg not as “Herr von Battenberg”, but as “Graf”.

    Nonetheless, legally, all Germans are equal under the law, and being a count, baron, duke etc. doesn’t get you anything other than social cachet.

  54. 54
    debbie says:

    @ Calouste:

    The marketing on this group is not good.

    By calling their leader a CEO, they’ve lost before they’ve begun.

  55. 55
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    This just demonstrates that you don’t really have to be all that intelligent to have a lot of money.

  56. 56
    Douglas says:

    Regarding Germany and concern for nobility… it is *very* dependent on which social circles you’re talking about.

    Amongst military officials and the upper class (and, generally, people who’d attend social functions where abovementioned groups attend), I’d guess so.
    Rural areas of Bavaria (think Germany’s Texas) – possibly.

    Amongst people under 30 in Berlin, or most other big cities? Especially if they’re even slightly left of center? No way.

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Douglas: I am certain that this is true.

  58. 58
    jafd says:

    A couple (possibly) of minor good point about ‘titles of nobility’ is a modern context.

    First, they can be a way of making People Who Have Done Something Worthwhile as prominent as People Who Are Famous For Being Famous. (Or, re my alma mater, the number of people who can name the football coach is several orders of magnitude greater than those who can name the professors who have won the Nobel Prize.)

    Second, a way of giving non-monetary rewards. Perhaps Bain Capital might have created more jobs than it destroyed had Mr. Bain been hoping for a viscountcy upon his retirement.

    BTW, everyone knows the answer to “Do Men Ever Visit Boston?”, right ?

  59. 59
    KCinDC says:

    Weird. I thought most states would require you to have a candidate before getting ballot access. Pretty sure that’s the way it works here in DC.

  60. 60
    ruemara says:


    Ditto. Protocol is useful just in case I get an invite to something fabulous.

  61. 61
    b-psycho says:


    In Germany, everyone with a certain status is addressed as “Sie”

    Too bad that’s just a typo, otherwise I could ask how they get around addressing a high-status person named Geil.

  62. 62
    Yutsano says:

    @b-psycho: German doesn’t elide. So it doesn’t quite work unless you have a strong English accent.

  63. 63
    moderateindy says:

    If I were a rich person that wanted a business friendly atmosphere (i.e. Repubs giving me everything I want) I would be funding a centrist so-called non-partisan candidate that would suck votes away from Obama. Let’s face it, with the dreck that they have running for their nomination, there is little chance of capturing the moderates. Their best hope is to do a Ross Perot, and run somebody that will attract the middle, then rely on your base to come out and vote for whatever candidate you nominate. Particularly when the other side’s base seems less than excited, and the middle hates everyone.

  64. 64
    steve says:

    Meanwhile, at a kickoff event for Americans Elect at the National Press Club on Tuesday, the group’s leaders described how they intend to put a “nonpartisan presidential ticket”—chosen through an online, open nominating convention—on the ballot in all 50 states

    based on how the internet votes for top 100 books lists, if they have a totes democratic open internet vote, the ticket will be Rand/Hubbard 2012!

  65. 65
    rikyrah says:

    the thing is, they have to run actual CANDIDATES. they can’t just have a slot on a ballot for a phantom candidate.

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