AOC Campaign Finance Primer Goes Viral

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

Wow. 16 million hits as of Friday and counting. Leave it to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) to show how to turn a campaign finance primer into a viral video.  Certainly the first time a congressional hearing on strengthening ethics rules for the executive branch reached such a huge audience.

This is a must-watch clip. I hesitate to add much commentary, as anything I write will likely not add all that much, and might instead only distract from the original.

Nonetheless, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes! I will hazard adding some commentary.

I only ask that you watch the clip first. It’ll only take five minutes of your time. Just something to ponder on what I hope for many readers is a lazy, relaxing Sunday. Please watch it, as my commentary will assume you’ve done so.

How to Explain What’s At Stake with a Complex Subject 

I’ve spent many, many years thinking about how business influences public policy – and trying to get people to understand some of the details of how that’s done, in a variety of contexts.

Here, AOC breaks down one aspect of the problem, and clearly and succinctly explains what’s the deal, in terms that’ve obviously resounded with people and led them to share her primer with their friends.

Quip, then Clear, Simple Statement. She opens with a self deprecating aside – perhaps a bit too self-deprecating, as she doesn’t pause long enough to elicit many chuckles. Am I imagining a  sense of “What’s she up to?” emanating from the (sparse) crowd in that quick initial establishing shot of the hearing chamber?

And then explains what she’s up to:

Let’s play a lightning round game.

I’m gonna be the bad guy, which I’m sure half the room would agree with anyway, and I want to get away with as much bad things as possible, really to enrich myself and advance my interests, even if that means putting my interests ahead of the American people.

I’ve enlisted all of you as my co-conspirators, so you’re going help me legally get away with all of this.”

Framing. Turning this into a lightning round taps into popular culture. Most TV viewers know what a lightning round is, certainly far more than regularly watch congressional hearings on C-Span.

And using the Q & A format requires those summoned to testify at the hearing to affirm each of her points. This reminded me a bit of the call and response technique that some preachers employ.

By structuring this exercise in a lightning round format, each witness can only answer yes or no, allowing little room to obfuscate – I’m looking at you, Bradley A. Smith, chairman of the Institute for Free Speech (IFS). (Here’s a link to the Washington Post op-ed AOC refers to: Those payments to women were unseemly. That doesn’t mean they were illegal.)

AOC has no time for any waffling, “Okay green light for hush money, I can do all sorts of terrible things, It’s totally legal now for me to pay people off…” She’s not just working from a great script – but is quick on her feet as well. Nice!

Simple Language, Complex Points

The language is simple, and sounds like the way ordinary people speak – “bad guy,”   Followed later by “super bad guy.”


“Okay great.”


“Okay, so, awesome.”

I think it’s easier for her to do this, because she’s not a lawyer.  Even when she’s discussing questions of legality, she doesn’t slip into legalese — “super legal” isn’t the sort of phrase that would trip easily from the tongues of most lawyers– even recovering ones, or those who got sidetracked into politics.

Repetition of One Point: This is All Legal

AOC channels Michael Kinsley’s observation, “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal.” I hesitate to repeat that saying here, as for political junkies, it’s been been heard all too many times before.

AOC fleshes out the details of a message many Americans understand: the system is broken, and under the current laws, no one’s going to jail for doing any of this stuff. Instead, this is standard operating procedure in Washington. And that’s the case even though as this May headline for report by the Pew Research Centre’s headline makes clear: Most Americans want to limit campaign spending, say big donors have greater political influence.

Those interested in details know much of what AOC exposes already; this viral video takes that message to several million more who haven’t bothered to parse specifics.

No wonder Trump singled out the dangers of socialism in his State of the Union address: he’s not the only one who’s rattled.

She closed by zeroing in on what a president can get away with. The subject of the hearing is strengthening ethics rules that apply to the President, so it’s logical for her to go here. This is not some virtue-signalling cooked up by Resistance types to preach to the converted about the well-publicized flaws and failings of Trump:

It’s already super legal, as we’ve seen, for me to be a pretty bad guy. So it’s even easier for the president of the United States to be one, I would assume.

To which she gets assent.


One point critics of AOC like to emphasize is that she occasionally garbles information, makes mistakes, and gets details wrong.

See, for example, the response the IFS  posted  on its website attempting to discredit AOC for skewering their chairman Smith during the hearing, AOC Doesn’t Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story.

Although I see the as a good college try, after a careful read, I think the IFS does anything but.

The IFS response attempts to play gotcha on AOC’s discussion of a payoff to cover up a skeleton in the candidate’s closet, by inserting the issue of whether that is a campaign or personal expense (and therefore, what type of funds could be used).

But Smith wrote in his WaPo op-end about the Trump payments to women:

Yes, those payments were unseemly, but unseemliness doesn’t make something illegal. At the very least, the law is murky about whether paying hush money to a mistress is a “campaign expense” or a personal expense. In such circumstances, we would not usually expect prosecutors to charge the individuals with a “knowing and willful” violation, leading to criminal charges and possible jail time. A civil fine would be the normal response.

Yes, saying “it’s totally legal for me now to pay people off” in certain ways may be stretching the point.  But not breaking it.

Similarly, the IFS quibbles over how dependent political candidates are on large corporate donations:

 “Special interest” money does not dominate campaign coffers, even of the candidates you don’t like. This ties in to Ocasio-Cortez’s earlier assertion that a campaign could be entirely funded by corporate PAC donations. That’s true in the abstract – there’s nothing in the law to stop a candidate from trying – but completely divorced from the reality of how campaigns are funded. Notably, Ocasio-Cortez did not name any examples of this sort of campaign, because there aren’t any.

Her lightning round is clearly a hypothetical – and that AOC can’t  list any examples isn’t really to the point. A campaign doesn’t have to be 100% funded by any single type or combination of corporate PAC donations for corporations and their executives to have immense influence. If you doubt that, IFS, please take a look at this major study by Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, and Jie Chen, Big Money—Not Political Tribalism—Drives US Elections, and please get back to me. Their study shows the irrelevance of corporate PACs to the realities of corporate domination of political finance.

Congressional Hearings Can Be Riveting

I’m old enough to remember when the Senate Watergate hearings were broadcast on public television. Those were the days! They began in May 1973, finished in November and especially during the summer, when I turned twelve years old and there was no school to attend, I was riveted.

That was a different time, and a different country . To broadcast hearings gavel-to-gavel was unusual, to say the least. Most hearings were not broadcast, and never reached a national audience. Nor was there any C-Span either.

Here AOC takes the occasion of a sparsely attended hearing to take a message to millions of Americans:

We have a system that is fundamentally broken. We have these influences existing in this body, which means that these influences are here in this committee shaping the questions that are being asked of you all right now.

Last Wednesday, this lightning round, then on Thursday, she introduced the Green New Deal. Not a bad week’s work.

I can’t want to see what comes next.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Brindle

    AOC has great skill in understanding how language works, it is kind of mesmerizing watching her thinking and talking on her feet—she intertwines big narratives with smaller ones seamlessly. Just brilliant.

    1. notabanker

      She is gifted. She has demonstrated remarkable poise in her reactions to Pelosi. She refuses to sling dirt, instead acting in deference to her power with a confidence that her own principles will eventually prevail. It’s an incredibly wise approach and extremely counter-intuitive to most.

      1. WestcoastDeplorable

        Are you freaking nuts? “She is gifted”? With what, a huge mouth? She can’t even use proper English; the phrase should be “New green deal” not “Green new deal”. She’s put spin in the phrase itself, hearkening back to FDR days (i.e. “New deal”). Did you even read the bullet points of her proposal? If not here’s a list:

        1. pretzelattack

          she summarized a complex subject quickly and made it understandable. wtf are you to tell her or anybody what to call the green new deal? we know where the phrase came from.
          claiming the list of distortions you linked to as the bullet points of her proposal is dishonest. what’s your proposal to deal with the climate crisis?

        2. pierre


          For one, she was able dislodge a ranking Wall Street Democrat in the primary. That’s political talent.

        3. notabanker

          Lol, yup, I’m freaking nuts.

          Thanks for the link, I hadn’t seen that draft of the proposal. I’ve been too busy reading the one they actually submitted.

          1. Skip Intro

            The GOP and probably other industry-driven blowholes have been pumping out various bogus versions of the GND. Cool that we actually got one here.

            1. Knute Rife

              Oh, but they couldn’t be, because WaPo says there are no bogus versions out there and AOC is seriously in error because she said there are.

        4. Plenue

          No, Green New Deal is correct. We already had a New Deal. Now we need another one, this time focused on the environment.

          1. ymcpa

            Except her Green new deal has plenty of stuff in it that has nothing to do with the environment, like a minimum income guarantee. Plus she expects the who economy to run off renewable energy in a really short time. The technology isn’t available to make that happen. I guess the thinking goes that if you give a tight deadline, scientists will work harder and will create that technology. Maybe that will happen. More likely there won’t be enough power generated by that deadline. Then what happens? Increasing nuclear is probably the only way to completely get off hydrocarbons. I’m sure she is against nuclear power. Nuclear power has waste, but at least it can be stored and it doesn’t pollute the water, air, or soil. The new reactors used in Europe are safer than the old one’s, but obviously there is always a risk of accidents. At some point people will realize that renewable can augment the current power grid but can’t completely replace it. Then you have to decide do you burn fossil fuels and pollute the air, water, and ground or do you use nuclear power and risk a potential accident in the future.

        5. Scott1

          Actually she or anyone can say it either way.
          When all these characters crawled out of the woodwork or from behind cinderblocks
          (not you in particular), it was a movement,
          I said it was used to censor people. ‘Don’t write
          that sentence, you may misspell a word.’

        6. JBird4049

          She is not a speaker on par with Obama; certainly not as polished, with a prepared smooth farrago of a speech that last long, says little, and means less. So what? I can understand somebody might disagree with her proposal to deal with the current situation, but at least it is one. I don’t see any other proposal.

          Aside from attacking her for doing her job, which is to work on legislation that deals with the real problems that Americans face, or for her delivery, I suggest that one should push their own legislators to do something other than minioning for their “donations.”

          1. Procopius

            When asked why he did not urge Holder to prosecute some banking executives, Obama said, “A lot of what they did wasn’t illegal.” Luckily for him nobody thought to reply, “So that means that some of what they did was illegal, amirite?” I think he successfully predicted that they would fail to call him out. Still, she’s young and gaining experience. I think she’s a better natural orator than him (although he’s very good, very talented).

            1. timbers

              “We didn’t prosecute some illegal stuff banker executives did.”

              Many are writing Obama was a great speaker.

              I never noticed. He always took too long to say anything of point or that got my attention and I moved on before he did…if he did.

              1. Michael C.

                I agree. He often seemed to me be giving a speech to seductively make you feel good rather than giving a speech to intellectually make you think good. (I know, it’s” well,” but I liked the balance.)

        7. Alex V

          I know, I mean she even misused “much” while speaking off-the-cuff:

          “and I want to get away with as much bad things as possible”

          How dare she butcher the Queen’s English in such a reprehensible manner, especially in front of her betters. Immediate censure and satisfaction is demanded.


        8. Trick Shroade

          Setting aside the irony of a Trump fan mocking someone’s big mouth and improper use of English can you tell us some of the specifics that you disagree with her on?

        9. Sean McAleavy

          Westcoast Deplorable, thanks for pointing out the obvious. Of course, she would word it as Green new deal. That you can’t see the brilliance in naming it that really shows you in a poor light. But this is typical of attacks on AOC, you’ve got nothing so you nitpick and grasp at straws and it only makes you and Hannity and Tucker Carlson and the rest look more foolish than usual. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez gets stronger by the day as you and your ilk get weaker. She is the future and you can’t stop her because she is not in it for her own enrichment and personal gain. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know you don’t believe that because you don’t think it is possible for somebody to selflessly fight and strive for the greater good without ulterior motives. But people can and some people do. And one of those people is my girl AOC!

      2. Oso

        by supporting pelosi, calling her a progressive she shows acknowledgement of her role in the system. it may be the confidence that her principles of being part of the club will prevail. if you pay any attention at all to the system you’d understand it isn’t broken, it works as designed.

    2. Catman

      This past summer right around the time she went to Iowa with Bernie that she was on a Sunday morning talk show. The host asked a question that was pointed and would pin most pols into a corner they’d likely not want to be pinned to. AOC hesitated, thought, and said, “Yes, i’ll grant that. I agree with that.” or something very similar.
      Her hesitation and then acceptance told me two things:
      1. She knows herself and she’s not frightened by it. Other pols lapse into meaningless nonsense and think defense first. AOC just moves forward aggressively because she’s confident in what she believes in.
      2. She knows her audience. She understands who she’s talking to.
      Criticism just bounces off someone like that.

    3. BSzafran

      She has done a great job explaining the Obama/Biden Whitehouse years!!! You go girl!!! All of the oil restrictions Obama put out when he and cronies bought shares in big oil that didn’t have restrictions, Boom get rich quick! All of the overseas money that got earmarked to help struggling economies that no one can figure out where it went!

  2. Joe Well

    I had already seen the Now This video, and what is striking to me is that we have social media content producers like Now This that are willing to treat AOC seriously and give a platform for her ideas, unlike the TV news or most newspapers. Now This and AJ+ (Al Jazeera social video) specialize in making videos viral, so they are the proximate cause of this video going viral, unlike some earlier AOC videos.

    Now This is owned by Group Nine Media which is an independent startup that has received millions in venture funding as well as a significant investment by Discovery Media, according to Wikipedia.

    Also, Facebook’s role is interesting because they are still allowing at least some left-leaning videos to go viral.

    How much longer will we have these outlets before they turn into CNN, MSNBC, NYT, etc.?

    1. Big River Bandido

      Agree with the content of your post.

      But the “musical” underscore in the video is irrelevant and annoying.

      1. Joe Well

        I really wonder if there has been any kind of research into the value of the canned music. I assume they’ve run tests with and without music and the with music succeeded, and of course they aren’t making enough money from I dividual videos to justify professional scoring, not to mention the rush to post first.

        On the flip side, that annoying video background music might be a Proustian time machine in decades hence, since I cant imagine it still being used much longer.

  3. Ashburn

    Thanks for this, JLS. I was very impressed with AOC when I first saw her campaign video in her race against Joe Crowley. Since that time she has become a force of nature not just in Washington but across the country and internationally. I believe she is most impressive politician I have ever seen and I am in my late sixties. She is simply thrilling to watch and I think she appeals to many outside of her progressive base. Naturally the Washington Post, with its neocon and neoliberal editorial page, will use every tool at its disposal to discredit her and any other progressive.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      On your international point, see the link to a South China Morning Post op-ed piece that I posted in today’s Links.

    2. Hepativore

      The thing that worries me is that congress might find some way to remove her or shut her up if she continues to ruffle neoliberal feathers like this.

      While it would be a very extreme measure, do you think that Congress might try to place her under Censure, and possibly even try building a case for Congressional Expulsion on bogus charges? It would be a very underhanded thing to do, but on the other hand, the neoliberals in both parties in Washington D.C. probably want to mount her head on a wall at this point.

      1. a different chris

        They will counter-attack at some point, well beyond Pelosi’s sniffy comments (who does Nancy think is her base, at this point?).

        But AOC is taking a skill that we’ve learned to hate in another context, and using it where she should: “Move fast and break things”. The things that are getting broken are the political channels the Empire intended to strike back with. Everything they reach for she’s already got there first. They expected her to be a feminist POC and she showed up and hit them over the head with the GND. So they go to attacking that and find her, on a wildly popular YouTube, attacking the heart of how they got elected.

        I can’t wait until they try to turn on the “Fully Functioning Death Start” and find her cackling at the controls.

        Ok, I’m not as sanguine as the above post sounds. But this is different, people. We got a chance.

          1. Adam1

            That’s probably a reasonable call as it’s been done before in NY to get rid of undesired candidates. Although unless her favorability drops I would bet it blows up in the establishments face as she just defeats the holder of the new district. If I were her though I’d really avoid small planes & boats, tunnels and dark alleys for the foreseeable future.

          2. market socialist

            They can’t – Chuck Shumer is up for reelection in 2022, and they don’t want her running against him.

      2. flora

        AOC isn’t beholden to the corporate donor/lobbyist/consultant owners of the Dem estab. If she isn’t spending 30 hours a week dialing-for-dollars, and is free to represent her voters interests, she might give other Dems ideas, especially the younger ones…. Gasp! can’t have that! (/s)

        see also dialing-for-dollars:

        1. Procopius

          I believe she already has. They aren’t covered by the press, because they aren’t yest seen as real threats, so I don’t remember most of their names. There’s one from Michigan, a Muslim, and a Mother, I think named Tlaib, who caused a lot of pearl clutching and fainting when she said the quiet part out loud, “We’re gonna impeach the motherfucker.” I think their numbers are still small, but I think they’ve found ways to get past the DNC and DCCC, and I think more of them are going to do it in 2020. I hope, anyway.

    3. Ignacio

      In Spain AOC received attention when she defeated Crowley and stop. But that win won t’t be the last political surprise she brings to newspapers in Europe. At least I hope.

    4. vidimi

      agreed. she is the best politician in the world. unbelievable instinct and a charisma to match. she will be unstoppable. if trump wins a second term then the silver lining will be AOC 2024.

  4. JohnnyGL

    I saw this one on Friday….captivating…and jaw-dropping. I almost couldn’t believe she just got as blunt as that.

    I wonder if she’s preparing anything to get a little revenge on Pelosi for the brilliantly withering scorn she dropped on the GND, turning it into the “Green Dream”. I found myself laughing and annoyed at the same time.

    Pelosi knows she’s got a grip on the reigns of power and she’s happy to rub it in the face of the new freshman class of what she sees as little more than noisemakers (not to dismiss the power of the noisemakers, they’ve done more than I could have anticipated).

    AOC and friends have cards to play….let’s see how they play them. They can’t directly attack her, of course, they need her. But they can get attention, pressure and embarrass her to take various actions.

  5. John Zelnicker

    Thanks for posting this, Jerri-Lynn.

    AOC is incredibly creative. This session of Congress is going to get very interesting.

    A typo in the first quote from her lightning round: “…which I’m sure half the round would agree with anyway…”; should be room.

    At first I also thought your comment that the Ferguson, et al., piece showed the “irrelevance” of PAC’s was also a typo since it seemed so counter-intuitive to me. I had to go read the article to make sure, and I was wrong. Apparently, much more of the campaign money comes from more direct large contributions.

    It seems like I always learn at least one new fact from your posts.

  6. Susan the Other

    AOC is not reacting to Trump’s socialism challenge. She is ignoring it as if it came from someone unqualified to be president. Imagine that. Or from masterful legislators so compromised by corruption they will only change when they get good and frightened. It might take a while because they have been too impervious to fear anything for so many decades they might not realize they are in danger. They might as well be very, very stupid. No, she’s not taking the bait. Instead, she is pointing out what a corrupt thing both branches of government are, the legislature and, even worse and more dangerous, the president, and not merely because he is controlled by the military. She’s playing chess for now. Checkmate will probably come from left field in the form of an economic collapse. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    1. Ashton Harris

      And that economic collapse will come from Socialism and these far left policies if they are ever implemented. What a great idea, lets try Socialism, where it has failed everywhere it has ever been tried and is personally responsible for tens of millions in poverty and tens of millions of deaths. Lets just give out free this and free that to everybody and bankrupt our economy. What excellent ideas! You leftists really need to educate yourselves to the facts and realities instead of just toting the party line. You are indoctrinated puppets! Economics and Politics do not run on feelings. It takes fact and logic!

  7. Wukchumni

    I’m old enough to remember when the Watergate hearings were broadcast on public television. Those were the days! They began in May 1973, finished in November and especially during the summer, when I turned twelve years old and there was no school to attend, I was riveted.

    I too watched a lot of the hearings, and although some of it was beyond my ken as a 11 year old, it was a primer on politics, down & dirty, warts and all.

    AOC has been fascinating to watch, and she’s fearless for all the right reasons, as opposed to 99% in politics that are fearless for all the wrong reasons.

    1. charlie sheldon

      I was 25 when the hearings were held and as I recall they actually started in the winter of 1973. I am sure of this because at the time I was a lobster fisherman, off Cape Cod, and the previous fall we lost 400 traps to the Russian fleet and were nearly wiped out. That winter, all winter and through March and April, maybe into May, I rigged new groundline in the living room, miles and miles of 5/8 poly rope, 50-trap strings, splicing endlessly, 300 splices a string, and while doing this as I sat hunched in the cold house (this was the year of the Arab oil embargo, gas shortages, heating oil shortages, panic of another kind) I had the TV on, a 14 inch black and screen, one channel, and I was watching the hearings – Sam Ervin, Hoard Baker. I was watching when Butterfield dropped that there were tapes, I remember that, and I remember John Dean, too. So I am pretty darn sure those hearings started in the winter, earlier than May. Your comments brought back memories, as you can see….

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          I just inserted the link into the post, and the word “Senate” before Watergate hearings, to clarify. I also remember clearly the House proceedings that were broadcast the following summer.

    1. ambrit

      In general, ‘Kardashian’ denotes the triumph of Wealth over Civilization.
      On another front: ‘Kardashian’ is a newer synonym for; “Bright shiny thing with no intrinsic value.”

  8. ambrit

    Fascinating as this is, I worry that AOC might get the “Rosa Luxembourg” treatment from the present day power elites.
    Murder has become a standard operating procedure for American operatives overseas; see drone warfare as an example. The logic of Empire predicts that in general, the tactics used by the Empire overseas will be brought back to the Homeland for eventual use against domestic ‘enemies.’
    The ‘Tinfoil Hat Cadres’ can cite numerous examples of domestic killings with suspicious ties to internal politics. In the main, these ‘examples’ of evil are tied to individuals and smaller groups of the power elites. I fear that political murder has become normalized inside America’s political classes.
    Many here joke about “Mr. or Mz. ‘X’ better not take any small airplane flights for the foreseeable future.” It may be a ‘joke’ to us, but it certainly is not a joke to those viewing their impending demise from 10,000 feet up in the air.

    1. Hepativore

      They probably will not have to go to that much trouble. They can always invent a quasi-legal or illegal procedure to remove her from the senate, like the example I gave above with Censure or Expulsion. Plus, this will be officially-sanctioned by Washington D.C. and all of the major media outlets will be able to portray it as getting rid of a troublemaker who did not want to be a team player.

      1. philnc

        Freuddian slip that, “… remove her from the senate”? Actually, there have been open calls from within the establishment to primary her, or most recently, to gerrymander her House district out of existence. But that would just free her up to run for US Senate. It has been suggested that possibility might cause Sen. Schumer to put the kabosh on any effort to eliminate her district. As for a primary challenge, while it certainly would mean lots of walking around money for a select group of Democratic political consultants (the Republicans seem to have slurped up all the foreign regime-change work for this cycle), given AOC’s position as the first or second most popular politician in the country (right up there with Bernie), that seems like a fool’s errand.

    2. False Solace

      They’re still laughing at her so violence is unlikely right now. When that changes, when right-wing media stops calling her an airhead and starts directing fear and anger her way, that’s when she’d better get a really good security detail.

      1. Isotope_C14

        It didn’t help Paul Wellstone.

        Though they tend to do this sort of thing when they aren’t a household name.

    3. John k

      Right now she’s just a gadfly to be ignored, would still be true if senator.
      Bernie is the present and clear danger, or will be if when he announces, because presidency too powerful.

  9. grayslady

    There is a certain “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” aura about AOC–only this isn’t a movie. I also hope she knows better than to trust anyone in D.C., unlike Mr. Smith.

    I saw this video the other day, and what struck me was how AOC’s lack of legal education prevented her from wasting her five minutes. Those trained as lawyers seem to be too worried about adding information into evidence or whether they might be accused of leading the witness. As a consequence, the five minutes of questioning is usually wasted in not being able to craft a story. This is congress, not a courtroom. AOC understands that she is allowed to use any tools at her disposal. She reminds me a bit of Alan Grayson, who, in spite of being a lawyer, understood how to paint a simple story for the American public. His speech with two charts on the Repub plan for health care (1. Don’t get sick; 2. If you do get sick, die quickly) were a master class on how to address issues forcefully and effectively.

  10. Summer

    Summary: Are you are pemitted to be a bad guy in Congress and absolutely evil as President?

    And the scary part?

    The 3rd branch, the Judicial branch, is still open for further discussion.

  11. Summer

    And what speaks more volumes about the state of alleged democracy in the USA?

    That people fear for the life of someone speaking the truth.

    Yeah, progress…things getting better all the time (wink,wink)

  12. Adam Eran

    Nice to know that anyone is saying this in a public forum.

    In a bit of coincidence, I heard and adviser to Jerry Brown recite the current political system’s creed, saying that just because candidates get money from special interests doesn’t mean they’re captives to those interests. It was astonishing to hear because the speaker said this without the slightest hesitation…The rest of us in the room paused for a moment.

    I replied that psychological studies demonstrate that if I give you a piece of gum, not millions in campaign contributions, you’re likely to be more favorably disposed to what I say.

    …so we agreed to disagree. Personally, I’ve interpreted reciting this creed as a kind of initiation…the prerequisite to belong to the religion that currently governs the country, not as something the guy actually believed. Like Michael Corleone’s recitation at his children’s christening… Sure, it’s a toxic religion, but there are so many of those…the cult of vengeance, for example (why else would Americans incarcerate so many people).

  13. jfleni

    The “Nancy – Crats are furious and very disturbed. AOC had better watch her
    back, Don’t trust any member of the Nancy-Crat MD mafia especially!

  14. Phenix

    AOC is an activist. She speaks like an activist. Her line of questioning is similar to a lot of the alt left activist/comedian/news channels on YouTube. I am glad that she is there but I think that this is not an act but how she talks about the issues. I do not follow her very closely but she hits the normal millennial talking points at least the points I hear from my peers. Its nice to be heard.

    I am interested in what NY does with redistricting. AOC could loose her seat like Kucinich.

    1. woof

      I wonder how much of America knows that where Donald Trump grew up in Queens NY is only a very short distance from the Queens edge of AOC’s 14th Congressional district.

    2. none

      AOC could loose her seat like Kucinich.

      It will be great if they do that. It means she can primary out Schumer in 2022.

    3. rob

      Now that would be the second way they would deal with her. To change her district. I don’t know how safe those district zones are in that area,everyone else near by wouldn’t want their elbow room crowded out either….BUT…… That kind of a power play gets results that no one even sees happening, even as it is happening right before their eyes.

      Te first way is the trojan horse ,of course. Having any other representative “join” her fight, so as to sabotage it from the inside and smear her good intentions by proximity….. all to nullify her good grace to the great unwashed….voting public.

      What I hope she gets is in the vernacular of a football offensive line, while she and the few new fresh”women” class are the running backs and recievers,get some linemen in there to deflect the coming assaults… cause you know they are gonna try. She needs back-up. Cause she is a target, at this point.
      Go team AOC

    4. Phil in KC

      Results of 2020 census won’t be available to NY state legislators until at least early 2021, and a court challenge could delay any boundary changes to her district for at least a year, so potentially she’s good until early January of 2025.

      However, she will turn 35 in 2024, making her eligible for the Presidency. Now wouldn’t that be a Green Dream?

  15. Wyoming

    My interpretation of the relationship between Pelosi and AOC.

    I don’t think at all that Pelosi is out to crush AOC. She certainly does not agree with most of AOC’s policies (after all Pelosi’s path to power was different and she is irrevocably wedded to it) but I think she operates on a different plane here.

    Pelosi’s rise to power was arduous and her success came from her brilliance in overcoming a wide range of obstacles. She is focused, smart, relentless and ruthless. She earned her power and will not give it away. (what she uses her power for is not really relevant in this discussion)

    I think she recognizes in AOC a woman not that dissimilar to herself but separated by a couple of generations. She will not try and destroy her as AOC is not a meaningful threat to her and she can leverage politically from AOC’s huge impact in ways only Pelois is likely to know how to do. She will make AOC earn her own power by proving she can overcome obstacles and has the smarts and fortitude to take what she wants in spite of what her opponents do to stop her (opponents come from all directions in politics) – just as she did. That kind of behavior is what Pelosi respects. She could have prevented AOC from being on the committee she used as a platform for the above exposure of corruption but she did not – and it is certain that Pelosi was aware of the potential for AOC to use it to her advantage, or not. So AOC just passed a test…there will be many more. She may eventually fall, or she may be one of the rare occurrences of someone rising to prominence and changing the world. She is where she is at at 29 years old! I am sure that scares the crap out of her political opponents as anyone can see tremendous upside for her should she continue to develop. Here’s wishing her luck – we need people like her more than any other kind by far.

    1. John k

      I’d take it, but sounds wishful. Never underestimate incompetence. Pelosi is where she is not because of brilliance but because she is the bag lady.
      Pelosi might have made a deal to get her support for speaker, which was more important to her.
      Or she might think that AOC would quiet down once she got up on the totem pole, just as she would have done.
      Seems unlikely for somebody that believes in the rich and powerful Uber alles would otherwise support somebody that wants to topple that temple.

      1. Hepativore

        Somehow, I do not think that Pelosi is an ally to progressive liberals like AOC, considering how gung-ho she was to put forth Paygo the moment she was reelected for her position. If anything, she sees Democrats like AOC and Ro Khanna as being disrespectful upstarts who need to learn their place. As we speak, Pelosi is meeting with medical insurance company representatives in private and assuring them that they do not have to worry about Medicare for All.

        I do not think that Pelosi is to be trusted. Even when the Democrats had a super-majority in Congress 2006, she was a big reason why all we got out of it was more neoliberalism.

    2. notabanker

      AOC’s appointment to Fin Svcs is an interesting one. House Oversight Environmental sub committee is useful to Pelosi to have AOC go after Trump, but I’m not sure what Pelosi gets out of the Fin Svcs committee. A quid pro quo for Speaker support makes some sense on the surface.

      Interesting as well, AOC turned down an appointment to the Select GND committee and explained it as a timing issue, being asked after her previous two appointments and not having the bandwidth to take on the Select committee and do her job well.

      I can read some things into that:
      – AOC values those two committee assignments. She’s pretty wise to not bite off more than she can chew.
      – That Select committee is pretty meaningless. She got the resolution she wanted introduced.
      – Did Pelosi underestimate her early and then try to bury her with work? Or did she force her to compromise either the spotlight she will have tearing people up on FS and Oversight or the content of the GND resolution?

      I think you have two very savvy political women facing off here, both know it, and both are working a long term game of chess. The generational gap is a huge advantage and disadvantage for both. For now, they are going to leverage it/each other and play their roles. Sometime before the DNC convention in 2020 pieces are going to be played that changes the dynamic. The outcome of that will dictate the path post 2020 convention. The odds of a progressive House are slim. Progressive President a little better. AOC will need Pelosi especially with a Progressive Presidency. Pelosi will need her with a Progressive President. Centrist President relegates AOC to noise in terms of actual House business.

      Will be interesting.

    3. Alex V

      Pelosi is not smart, which is different from clever or devious, which she is.

      Smart would be able to think beyond one news cycle or election.

  16. Lynne


    Yes, she makes good points and it’s effective if you can stand to listen to her. I forced myself to do so because this came so highly recommended. But to be a critic, if she doesn’t lose that cute little vocal fry, she’s not going anywhere. It’s like nails on a blackboard. Every single woman I know who uses it is a mean girl wannabe, and the ones I hear using it who I don’t know have been (up to now) clueless 10%ers, so I have a hard time getting past my instant visceral dislike to focus on what she’s saying.

      1. Lynne

        Yes. Most recently popularized by Kim Kardashian. Sometimes sounds like the speaker is too lazy (or considers their audience to be not worth the effort) to take a decent breath and project from their diaphragm. Especially common among women in their 20’s, and while armchair psychologists theorize it is a vocal technique used to try and make themselves less threatening, in my experience, it’s really more a marker of arrogance.

          1. Lynne

            Yes. It’s a much more natural projection of authority to learn how to breathe properly and project. The voice carries better and is naturally more authoritative without tricks. Wasn’t she in a theatre group? That should have been something she learned as a newbie theatre participant. We were taught it in 7th grade. She’s smart enough to do that and needs to use it.

            1. makedoanmend

              “…a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

              …or in this case, judged by their record and intent – not by the timbre of their voice…

            2. ArcadiaMommy

              Go ahead and criticize when you are speaking at her level – when do you speak at multiple events? Perhaps Ms. O-C needs some practice? My voice gets quite worn out even during a normal day. Her voice is fine. Her ideas are exactly what this country needs and those ideas are more important than the tone of her voice. She is a woman, her voice is higher pitched than a male voice. Get over it.

    1. Janie

      She’s two – plus generations younger than I amd lives across the country from me, so of course her speech patterns and vocabulary are different from mine. It took me decades to overcome my mother’s similar approach: she ignored the content of anyone’s remarks if a grammatical, usage or pronunciation error was made.

      Three cheers for AOC!

      1. Late Introvert

        Ya, this is not too good. I don’t like the way she talks? Should have learned it in 7th grade? smh

      2. Lynne

        Yes, and I object to identity politics just as much as I object to a politician using cheap manipulative tricks, especially when it’s one I want to succeed, yet who will turn people off with the tricks. Especially when there’s every reason to believe that she knows better.

    2. Michael C,

      I have to say, I never heard a bit of what you are saying. All I hear is what she is saying, and the calm demeanor she has saying it. It’s very impressive to me seeing this come from a 29 year old.

  17. John Ashley

    what was this round of yes or no to accomplish?
    Who thought all the members were pure and untainted?
    Seemed a waste of time and tends to be a little too close to “see mommy how smart I am”.

    Waste of time. Better to use the 5 minutes or a couple of 5 minute rounds to dig into one issue on something she has a shot at changing and that is NOT presidential funding.

    1. John k

      If boring, everybody knows, nothing to see here…
      Wouldn’t have gone viral… 16mm by Friday… and likely millions more by now. Just what is needed to bring new activists in, hopefully encouraging others to copy her and primary Corp dems. The 2020 presidential cycle is starting, same as for all representatives and 1/3 of senators. Plus thousands of state wide elections.
      Bernie said he couldn’t do it alone, neither can the two of them.
      What scares Corp dems is not so much AOC but her copycats… the more idealists, the better.

  18. VietnamVet

    AOC is exposing the corruption of paid politics. Virginia Democrats, Donald Trump, and Jeff Bezos illuminate the dark secrets that the plutocratic system uses to keep the connected in line. This is breaking down. Oligarchs are at war. Neoliberalism is stealing life away from the little people and destroying the world. She is a noble in the good old fashion classical sense. Compare her to Adam Schiff. This is visceral. This is good versus evil.

    1. Ashton Harris

      She is exposing corruption in paid politics while meanwhile she has nearly 1 million dollars in dark money she hid off the books in an LLC. Sounds like a hypocrite to me! Do as I say not as I do. Hopefully she gets the fines and jail time she deserves.

  19. Octopii

    Brings back fond memories of Alan Grayson’s rundowns of the republican healthcare plan (if you do get sick, die quickly) and socializing losses (now we all own the red roof inn).

      1. timbers

        That Greyson grilling is awesome….for example the Fed lending $3,000 per every New Zealand resident “because global markets” or specifically in this case global money markets.

        Janet Yellen was on TV recently and said Powell may have to cut interest rates because “global markets.”

        I’d like to meet this Mr Global Markets. He seems like a very powerful dude.

    1. Clark

      AOC was even more riveting than Alan Grayson. I’d forgotten about the Bernanke grilling, although his marvelous skewering of the Fed general counsel (Alvarez, I think his name was) about where all the gazillion dollars of bailout money went was also pretty special. “Answer the question.” “Congressman, I did answer the question.” “No you didn’t. Answer the question.”

  20. voteforno6

    We’re going to see more of this in the future…remember, AOC doesn’t do “call time,” so she’ll have plenty of opportunities to engage in hearings like this.

  21. Kael

    She and the panel missed an important opportunity to point out that what gets you on a committee is raising money from the industry regulated by that committee. Instead they just said there is no illegality in working on related legislation.

    Maybe this uniquely Article I corruption, didn’t fit with her The President Is Even Worse thesis. But she has the skills to tie it to Article II, revolving door scams. I hope she does so soon.

  22. polecat

    I know that Big Oil is a baddie nic on AOC’s quiver, but why not hit at the black heart of HighFinance,, and their kin, WhiteShoeBoy Big-n-Legal … who are, mostly likely, some of the biggest, and most manipulative donors around. I think loosing arrows constantly the earl cos., to the exclusion of other nefarious principals might loose some steam, especially when most of the country’s citizens rely considerably on FFs as a means of fueling their ground transport, to say nothing of air travel. An example : She could hit Biden by name, with regard to his imput … and substantial influence, in passing legislation that has only screwed a generation .. or few !!
    So, if she’s serious for change, for the better, for the Commons, she needs some specific bulleyes to aim at, many of whom are within her own party !

  23. Richard

    It’s not clear to me how this hearing happened, Can anyone enlighten? Can AOC just schedule her own hearings on her own topics, call her own witnesses? I have no idea how those committees work.

  24. Parker Dooley

    Apologies to Barry Manilow, but—

    I’ve been alive forever
    And I wrote the very first law
    I put the weasel words together
    I am power and I write the laws

    I write the laws that make my wealth increase
    I write the laws of war and other hateful things
    I write the laws that let the poor folks die
    I write the laws, I write the laws

    My home lies far above you
    But my claws are deep into your soul
    Now, when I ignore your cries
    I’m young again, even though I’m very old

    I write the laws that make my wealth increase
    I write the laws of war and other hateful things
    I write the laws that let the poor folks die
    I write the laws, I write the laws

    Oh my greed makes you dance
    And lets you know you have no chance
    And I wrote foreclosure laws so you must move
    Dejection fills your heart
    Well, that’s a real fine place to start
    It’s all for me it’s not for you
    It’s all from you, it’s all for me
    It’s a worldwide travesty

    I write the laws that make my wealth increase
    I write the laws of war and other hateful things
    I write the laws that let the poor folks die
    I write the laws, I write the laws

    I write the laws that make my wealth increase
    I write the laws of war and other hateful things
    I write the laws that let the poor folks die
    I write the laws, I write the laws
    I am power and I write the laws

  25. Carla

    “Their study shows the irrelevance of corporate PACs to the realities of corporate domination of political finance.”

    Jerri-Lynn — did you mean, the “relevance” of corporate PACs, etc.???

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      No, I didn’t — and perhaps could have worded the point better. As John Zelnicker picked up on above:

      “At first I also thought your comment that the Ferguson, et al., piece showed the “irrelevance” of PAC’s was also a typo since it seemed so counter-intuitive to me. I had to go read the article to make sure, and I was wrong. Apparently, much more of the campaign money comes from more direct large contributions.”

      So, any time someone tries to obfuscate by emphasizing corporate PAC money doesn’t matter per se, that doesn’t demonstrate corporate money doesn’t matter. Many corporate donations aren’t channeled through corporate PACs.

      If the point still seems unclear, click on the Ferguson et al link, and scroll through, especially beginning with the material under the heading Measuring Formal Campaign Money Is Very Difficult and continuing through the end of their summary. That’s a clear and straightforward explanation of the point.

      And if doing that doesn’t resolve the confusion, let me know, and I’ll try to clarify further.

  26. Gregory Etchason

    The remarkable thing is she held a panel of “so called” experts to yes/no responses. Quite a feat given the tendency of experts to answer question they wished were ask and not the questioned asked. I believe AOC has a unique “stick”. Her main strength is she is attempting to use power and not act like a man. Her sexuality is completely disarming to the “older white guys”. I believe
    her weakness may be when attempts are made to buy her off with money and Celebrity, namely a highly paid TV gig. Media personalities objectivity is eroded by concern for preserving their bloated salaries.

  27. remmer

    Coming late to this thread, but had to comment. I saw the AOC clip soon after it became viral, and I loved what she did. No one else would have been so blunt and made such a big point about campaign finance in such a short time.

    Those of us who write about campaign finance — from Ferguson et al. on the left to Smith et al. on the right — know that no campaign ever has or ever will be financed entirely by corporate PACs, and that corporate PACs haven’t been an important source of campaign funds since the late 1970s. But 99% of the people who saw AOC’s clip don’t know that. To them “corporate PAC” simply means big money from big business. That’s the important point and that’s the point she made.

    But I had two problems. Corporate PAC contributions are not “dark money.” Most people see “dark money” simply as one of the vaguely bad things that make our campaign finance system bad. That could be why she used the term. What worries me is that she used it because she doesn’t know what dark money is. If she’s going to keep making these short clips about campaign finance, and I hope she does, she should find someone who knows the law and can prevent her from making mistakes that undermine her larger argument.

    And I was disappointed to see her focus on Trump’s payments to mistresses. Brad Smith is right about that — it was unseemly but probably not illegal. And they wouldn’t matter much even if they were illegal, because they have nothing to do with her main argument about how campaign money influences government policy. FDR, Eisenhower, and JFK all had mistresses, so if they were running today, they might have to pay some people off, too. The MSM makes a big deal of the payoffs because the #Resistance hopes they can be used as legal weapons to remove Trump. They are a distraction from the real problems with our campaign finance system and how they undermine our democracy, and AOC should not allow herself to be distracted.

  28. Eureka Springs

    Well this is the first time I have heard her voice. It’s no wonder so few people were in the room. I would have to support her from way, way out in the parking lot. I’m going to read/hear her tweets posted by lambert in an entirely different way now. And I don’t put this on her but whoever added that keystone cop music must be playing for the other team.

    Great stuff to be sure. Big kudos for anyone pointing out the problems are systemic.

  29. Eclair

    My retired husband watches C-Span and I regularly stop by and listen to the congressional speakers drone on. And on. And on. In a monotone. Dog, it’s sooooooo boring. (A feature, not a bug, maybe?)

    Finally, someone to liven up those hearings! AOC was perky. She was loud and fast and definitely not monotonous. She spoke in short, understandable (well, I had to look up ‘lightening round’) sentences. She connected with her people. And, she is gorgeous to watch.

    Her face has the characteristics that made Princess Diana so magnetic. Huge luminous eyes, shiny hair that looks like it was just shampooed and brushed (not dyed, poofed with a curling iron and sprayed into an impenetrable helmet). Great bone structure. Here the comparison stops, since Princess Di was smart to keep her mouth closed most of the time.

    Yeah, AOC has a ‘smart mouth.’ Honed, probably by working the tables and bars in Queens. As a beautiful young woman, you don’t survive in that milieu unless you you can fend off the aggressive males and make ’em laugh as you do it.

    If she is not yet a ‘perfect storm,’ she is on her way to developing into one.

  30. JerryDenim

    Wow. Now that’s good television. It’s like watching a non-fiction version of “Bullworth”, but AOC is not an old, white, male, incumbent Senator and she was never a dirtbag before she decided to put all the nasty, inside, open secrets of our political system on the record.

    No wonder her star is rising faster than a Space-X rocket. For every commenter here lambasting AOC’s voice or grammar, there’s a twenty-something or thirty-something that normally tunes out polticians that suddenly is interested in what she has to say because she looks like their friends and she speaks like them as well. I for one am relived she doesn’t sound any thing sound like Barrack Obama’s fake, folksy but polished, black man emulating a white mid-westerner voice. What a market-tested Madison Avenue scam.

    Surely her millennial style of speaking is no less off-putting than any number of white, male rednecks who have been considered top-flight politicians and Presidential contenders, even in the Democratic Party. I used to visibly cringe every time I had to endure any clips of John Edwards speaking. One of his favorite words was “dunnit”. As in, “Dunnit Ocazz-E-O just make yr Blue-dawg blood boil?” (Improper conjunction, of ‘does-not’ or possibly ‘does-it-not’) His frequent usage of a made-up, improper hick contraction was made worse by him pronouncing it as a diphthong. “Duun-Niit” Gross! Give AOC a break and maybe ask yourselves if it’s really her speech that bothers you, or is it her age, sex, appearance etc.

  31. Ramp Rat

    How can so many folks miss the facts on this Green Energy. (wind solar)
    1 Green does not work in a 10 flight cold water walk up in Chicago -any time let alone winter
    2 Wind/Solar do no and cannot replace any fossil fuel plant, coal, oil, gas (book “Dumb energy”
    3 Instead of “NO Nukes this culture would be a lot better off if people knew of the writings of a man – now deceased named Petr Beckmann, here is a short piece from Wiki:

    Beckmann was a prolific author; he wrote several electrical engineering textbooks and non-technical works. By 1968 he had founded Golem Press, which published most of his books, including The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear (1976), which argued in favor of nuclear power during the height of the anti-nuclear movement by contrasting the cost, in human terms, with the equivalent costs of the alternatives available. Beckmann also wrote A History of π, documenting the history of the calculation of π. He published his own monthly newsletter, Access to Energy, which since September 1993 has been written by Arthur B. Robinson. look up AccessTo Energy a series of essays on energy. Beckmann was an electrical engineer from

    Here are two links:

    4. Not only is Solar gone for 1/3 or 1/2 of the 24 hr rotational period, its not efficient.

    Forgetting for a moment whether or Not AOC has much of an understanding of these issues, Who will build up all this stuff in a decade? the millennial?

    I am hopeful some people will in fact research energy!
    much of the thinking on this vital issue is fractured and way out of the realm of possibility

Comments are closed.