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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
9/11, Deep Events, and the Curtailment of U.S. Freedoms
A talk delivered to the New England Antiwar Conference, MIT, January 30, 2010.
by Prof Peter Dale Scott | Global Research
Hello everyone! I’m honored to be invited to this important anti-war conference. As I am in the final stages of editing my next book, The Road to Afghanistan, I have been turning down invitations to speak. But I was eager to accept this one, and to join my friends and others in debunking the war on terror, the false justification for the Afghan-Pakistan war.
Let me make my own position clear at the outset. There are indeed people out there, including some Muslim extremists, who want to inflict terror on America. But it is crystal clear, as many people inside and outside government have agreed, that it makes this problem worse, not better, when Washington sends large numbers of U.S. troops to yet another country where they don ‘t belong.
A war on terror is as inappropriate a cure as a U.S. war on drugs, which as we have seen in Colombia makes the drug problem worse, not better. The war on terror and the war on drugs have this in common: both are ideological attempts to justify the needless killings of thousands – including both American troops and foreign civilians -- in another needless war.
Why does America find itself, time after time, invading countries in distant oil-bearing regions, countries which have not invaded us? This is a vital issue on which we should seek a clear message for the American people. Unfortunately it has been an issue on which there has been serious disagreement dividing the antiwar movement, just as it divided people, even friends, inside the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s.
Perhaps many of you in this room know that there was disagreement between Noam Chomsky and myself in our analysis of how America entered the Vietnam War. This did not stop Noam and I from speaking out on the same platform against the war, or remaining friends, even after our public disagreements. There was too much on which we agreed.
Let me turn to today’s topic, the war on terror, by reading a long quote from Noam Chomsky in 2002, with which I fully agree:
"the war on terrorism was not declared on September 11 ; rather, it was redeclared, using the same rhetoric as the first declaration twenty years earlier. The Reagan administration, as you know, I'm sure, came into office announcing that a war on terrorism would be the core of U.S. foreign policy, and it condemned what the president called the "evil scourge of terrorism. " …. International terrorism was described as a plague spread by "depraved opponents of civilization itself," in "a return to barbarism in the modern age.”"
Today it is easy to see the falsehood of the government rhetoric in the 1980s about heroic freedom fighters fighting the “evil scourge of terrorism.” Most of the CIA money in the 1980s went to the terrorist drug trafficker Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, remembered for his habit of throwing acid in the faces of women not wearing burkas. Hekmatyar did not represent Afghan aspirations for freedom, but the interests of the U.S. ally Pakistan. As a true Afghan leader said in 1994, “We didn't choose [him]. The United States made Hekmatyar by giving him his weapons.” To describe Hekmatyar’s men as freedom fighters was a fraud. Read more.
Poll: Americans pretty clueless about politics, world
By John Byrne | Raw Story
Only one in four Americans know how many votes a Senate filibuster requires. One in three know the name of the chairman of the Republican Party. One in two know the Democratic leader of the US Senate.
Health care? Fewer than one in three Americans even know that no Republicans voted for the Senate health care overhaul.
Americans' ignorance about politics isn't new, but the latest results from the Pew Poll suggest few are really paying attention.
Half of Americans don't even know that Stephen Colbert is a comedian. And among those surveyed, only one in three Democrats knew that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was the Democratic leader.
"About four-in-ten (39%) know that Nevada Democrat Harry Reid is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate," Pew reports. "About a third (32%) correctly pick Michael Steele as the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Interestingly, nearly half of Republicans (48%) are able to identify Reid as Senate majority leader compared with just a third (33%) of Democrats. More Republicans can identify Reid as majority leader than can identify Steel as chairman of the RNC (37%)." Read more.
The year is beginning with President Obama proposing more money for war and a budget freeze for most social programs. This is occurring despite the insecure and often desperate financial straits in which most Americans find themselves. The military is coming before the needs of the people.
Last year, President Obama broke all records of military funding. Not only did the DoD budget reach new heights, but so did his war-funding supplemental budgets. Now, Obama begins the year ready to break even those records. He is asking for another $30 billion war supplemental and the next military budget will be a record-breaking $708 billion.
Debate in Congress will not focus on whether this is too much money. If anything, Congress will probably make both budgets bigger. Opposition to war and militarism are views not heard in Congress. There are a few members, some from each party, who speak out against the military budget, but they are marginalized by a Congress working in lockstep with the military-industrial complex. When Eisenhower coined that phrase, his initial draft used "military-industrial-congressional complex," a phrase that seems apt for today.
While we can criticize Obama and the Democrats for their actions, and we should contact Congress and tell them we oppose this funding--call Congress at 202-224-3121 and ask for your senators and representative--it is also a time for those of us who oppose war to reflect on why the anti-war voice is so muted and on what we can do about it.
I recently wrote an article on which I would like your views; read it here. The point of the article was to begin to outline what an effective anti-war, pro-peace movement would look like. I see the peace movement as still trying to restart after the 2008 election. Many were lulled by the corporate media into believing that Obama would be a president who would reduce U.S. militarism. Some in the media described him as a peace candidate. As you can see by looking at Peace Perspectives from 2008, we at Voters for Peace repeatedly reported on Obama's pro-militarist positions; we were not fooled, but too many were.
What would an effective peace movement look like? I'd like to hear your views. Email me at: email@example.com. Here's an outline of my thoughts on the ingredients that a successful anti-war, pro-peace movement includes:
Yesterday the Senate approved legislation to increase the national borrowing limit to $1.9 Trillion. The vote was along party lines, raising the debt ceiling to $14.3 Trillion dollars. Watch Dylan Ratigan explain the ominous implications of that debt load for our national security.
Supreme Court Ruling Spurs Corporation Run for Congress | Press Release
First Test of “Corporate Personhood” In Politics
Following the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to allow unlimited corporate funding of federal campaigns, Murray Hill Inc. today announced it was filing to run for U.S. Congress and released its first campaign video on YouTube.
“Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”
Murray Hill Inc. is believed to be the first “corporate person” to exercise its constitutional right to run for office. As Supreme Court observer Lyle Denniston wrote in his SCOTUSblog, “If anything, the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission conferred new dignity on corporate “persons,” treating them — under the First Amendment free-speech clause — as the equal of human beings.”
A shareholder sued Goldman Sachs Group Inc's (GS.N) board for excessive bonuses and wants bank executives to pay the $500 million in charitable donations that Goldman is making after being criticized for its compensation policy.
Goldman Sachs bonuses substantially exceed what competitors pay "even though, on a risk-adjusted basis, Goldman's officers and managers have performed over the past several years in a manner that is, at best, only average," the lawsuit says.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which runs public transit in the Philadelphia area, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in Delaware's Chancery Court.
SEPTA said Goldman has been allocating nearly half of its revenues to staff bonuses even though the company's performance has been less a benefit of management skill than risks it has taken with investors capital.
"Goldman's employees are unreasonably overpaid for the management functions that they undertake, and shareholders are vastly underpaid for the risks taken with their equity," it said. Read more.
A Supreme Act Of Judicial Treason Against The People Of The United States, And What We Can And Must Do About It
A Supreme Act Of Judicial Treason Against The People Of The United States, And What We Can And Must Do About It
Because of the gravity of the crime against the Constitution committed by a gang of 5 right wing judicial outlaws on our Supreme Court, we are launching two critical action pages at once:
- Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People
- Action Page: Impeach The Supreme Court 5
- Click "Read more" and scroll down for Facebook & Twitter actions, too!
By any fair legal definition, the decision yesterday by The Supreme Court 5 constitutes nothing less than an act of TREASON against the people of the United States. Having read and analyzed the entire 183 page decision and all of its concurring and dissenting opinions ourselves, we are fully prepared to support this accusatory conclusion.
Having so grossly abused its jurisdiction by presuming to decide a question expressly WAIVED by the petitioner in the Court below (p 12), this rogue Supreme Court ruled for the FIRST time that NO corporation can be constrained from unlimited influence over our elections. And even assuming that the Court intended the decision to only apply to American corporations, the Court expressly DECLINED (pp 46-47) to reach the question of whether foreign ownership stakes in American corporations should likewise be given carte blanche to put their thumbs on the scales of our democracy.
Thus, until Congress FURTHER acts (and it must, though it could not have escaped the attention of The Supreme Court 5 that the current Republican minority has vowed to obstruct ANYTHING of consequence that Congress might try to pass), there is now nothing to constrain foreign nationals, even our most sworn enemies, from usurping what even the most die hard Tea Bagger takes as an article of faith, that the rights of citizenship of this country are ONLY for Americans. This must be construed, within the four corners of our Constitution, as deliberately and knowingly exposing the United States of America to harm in the interim, by giving "aid and comfort" to our enemies (Constitution Article 3, section 3), should our enemies now wish to take advantage of this unprecedented and rash decision. In simple Constitutional terms . . . treason!!
Leftists slam capitalism at Social Forum in Brazil
By Associated Press | Yahoo! News | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Tens of thousands of leftists massed Monday to kick off five days of railing against unfettered capitalism at the World Social Forum, a gathering that protests the bankers and other leaders who attend the World Economic Forum at a Swiss ski resort.
Accompanied by thundering drumbeats and samba blaring from sound trucks, a crowd of exuberant activists estimated by police to number 25,000 marched through Porto Alegre waving communist flags and shouting socialist slogans.
They assailed corporate greed as the main reason the world plunged into an economic slump and trumpeted causes ranging from total state control of nations' petroleum reserves to environmental preservation and animal rights in the 10th annual version of the event in this city near southern Brazil's border with Uruguay.
Participants said the forum is especially important this year now that governments from the United States to Europe are moving to play bigger roles in managing the global economy.
In contrast, the World Economic Forum that starts Wednesday in Davos is expected to see fewer leaders than in years past, and U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to clamp down on the size and activity of banks is sure to be on the minds of many of the rich and powerful heading to Switzerland.
"They have driven the capitalist system into chaos," said Sergio Bernardo, a Brazilian human rights activist sporting a bright red shirt emblazoned with the words "Bourgeoisie Stinks!" "We're letting them know we can create a world free of exploitation that will help the poor." Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
Flash! The Supreme Court’s latest 5-4 decision overturning the over 60-year-old ban on corporations giving money to political campaigns is not the end of democracy as we know it, or the onset of fascism in America, as some of hyperventilating progressives have been claiming.
Sure it’s an outrage to say, as the court majority did, that corporations have the same rights as people. But let’s face it: Corporations have long dominated the American political scene. They didn’t need to be free to donate in their own corporate names. They have had their political action committees to do the job, and that’s worked just fine for them, as witness the current state of the two pro-corporate parties in Congress, and the string of blatantly pro-corporate presidents we’ve had for as far back as I can remember.
Legal Defense Fund: Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United Case “Inevitable” | Press Release | CELDF
Continues Long History of Expansion of Corporate Rights over the Rights of People, Communities, and Nature
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is the only public interest law firm in the U.S. that has worked with municipalities to question whether corporate “rights” can coexist with the democratic rights of communities to local self-government.
Those communities have recognized that corporate rights and privileges are routinely wielded to override democratic decision making and undermine efforts to protect the environment and public health, local economies and local agriculture. Through the adoption of local, binding laws, these communities are pioneering a new structure of law which does not recognize the rights and privileges of corporations.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Decision
Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – giving corporations the ability to spend money directly to influence federal elections under the Constitution’s First Amendment – was inevitable. It represents a logical expansion of corporate constitutional “rights” – which include the rights of persons which have been judicially conferred upon corporations. “Personhood” rights mean that corporations possess First Amendment rights to free speech, along with a litany of other rights that are secured to persons under the federal Bill of Rights.
The expansion of corporate rights and privileges under the law has been deliberate, beginning nearly two hundred years ago with the Dartmouth decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that private corporations have rights that municipal corporations – governments composed of “we the people” – did not.
The expansion of these rights and privileges occurred during the 1800s, throughout the 1900s, until today. For those who think that the way to stem this tide is to find the perfect lawsuit, we say, stop looking. It doesn’t exist, for there is no magic bullet.
Rather, in order to reverse decisions like Citizens United, the whole concept of corporate “rights” must be examined, and how corporations possessing “rights” interferes with the exercise of rights by people, communities, and nature. And, it’s not simply that corporations have “personhood” rights. It goes well beyond that.
Answer to the Court: the American Elections for Americans Only Act of 2010
By Brent Budowsky
The elected President and Congress should answer the unelected Supreme Court with by passing what I call the American Elections for Americans Only Act of 2010. According to the recent Gallup poll following the Court decision, 76% of voters believe that elected officials should regulate American corporate political spending. I believe my proposal would garner support from more than 90% of our voters who are tired of outsourcing our jobs, our finance, and our strength in the world and are outraged at the prospect of outsourcing the buying of our democracy and our nation.
In my proposal Congress would prohibit the kind of spending prohibited by McCain-Feingold by any public company, private company, or corporate entity that receives foreign finance or investment. I do not believe the Supreme Court would find this law unconstitutional, but if it did, there should be a constitutional amendment that would overwhelmingly pass because the American people will demand that American elections be for Americans only.
Let’s use the example of major Wall Street firms and banking institutions that would be banned under my proposal from making enormous independent and unregulated campaign donations because they are heavily influenced by foreign finance that often has interests that are against the interests of the United States.
For example, there are sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East that have major stakes in these firms as investors and major relations with these firms as partners and customers. Today the CEO's and corporate boards of major financial institutions have fiduciary duties to serve the interests of what the law calls foreign owners, and because they are dependent on this foreign finance, they are unduly influenced by these interests that often have interests directly opposed to American interests.
Do we want foreign investors who oppose the state of Israel, or covertly support Osama Bin Laden, to influence the spending of many millions of dollars to buy American elections?
Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County Launches Move to Amend The Constitution
By Michael Bonanno | Op Ed News
Interview with David Cobb Helps to Explain Move
In 2006, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County in Northern California wrote the first draft of legislation designed to ban non-local corporations' involvement in local elections. The target of the involvement was financial contributions. In a historic vote, the residents of Humboldt County passed the measure.
DUHC then became an educational organization. It has created programs and facilitated workshops intended to help other localities free themselves of corporate interference of local elections.
Yesterday, The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to the efforts and accomplishments of DUHC.
Once the Supreme Court's decision to give unlimited campaign contribution rights to corporations became official, DUHC launched a move to amend the Constitution to negate the court's decision.
DUHC released the following statement after the decision was announced:
Yet again the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with the ruling elite against the interests of the American people. Today in Citizens United vs. FEC they overturned the flimsy federal campaign finance reform laws afforded by the McCain-Feingold law. Corporations can now spend unlimited money in buying our elections. The Court has legalized corporate bribery of our elected officials.
So if you were already disgusted by the fact that over $5 billion dollars was spent in the 2008 election, watch out. Because the floodgates are now wide open! Read more.
There's great consternation brewing over the recent Supreme Court decision that cements and extends the misbegotten logic of "corporate personhood," and rightly so. Surely one of the most farcical and tortuous doctrines ever established in our system of jurisprudence, this conflated concept has drawn the ire of (small-d) democrats at least as far back as Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in 1816: "I hope we shall ... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
Ethics and politics aside, as a matter of law this extension of power and rights to corporations is woven into the very definitional fabric of our federal legal code: "In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise ... the words 'person' and 'whoever' include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals...." Still, the notion of "corporate personhood" remains something of a misnomer. In our system, as now expanded by the Supreme Court, corporations actually enjoy more rights than individuals do in many ways. To wit: liability shields, rights of transfer, political access and influence, subsidies, laissez-faire regulation, freedom of movement, self-determination, self-governance, tax breaks, etc. In particular when it comes to political speech, corporations are now essentially unfettered in their freedom, something that us mere mortals have yet to fully secure. Consider the language of the Court's recent ruling: "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."
Does anyone else see the ray of hope in this line of reasoning? Apparently, the government can no longer arrest protestors during political demonstrations, if we are to take this literally as a matter of "strict construction." First Amendment advocates have long sought such a validation, yet somehow it took a corporation claiming their speech was impinged to finally motivate the Justices to so rule. Disconcertingly, the Court didn't actually have to address these larger questions, since the facts presented in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission left open myriad avenues of decision that would have been consistent with the longstanding doctrine of "constitutional avoidance." In light of this case, where the Court actively reached for the constitutional questions by calling upon the parties to re-argue and re-brief the issues along broader lines than originally brought forward on appeal, it appears that we in fact do have a Supreme Court headed by those dreaded "activist judges" after all. Read more.
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court rules corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to elect and defeat candidates. One lawmaker describes it as the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case justifying slavery. We speak with constitutional law professor, Jamin Raskin. [includes rush transcript]
Inaction will create 'Congressman from Wal-Mart'
Responding to the Supreme Court's ruling Thursday to overturn corporate spending limits in federal elections, progressive firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) immediately highlighted a series of moves to "avoid the terrible consequences of the decision."
"If we do nothing then I think you can kiss your country goodbye," Grayson told Raw Story in an interview just hours after the decision was announced.
"You won't have any more senators from Kansas or Oregon, you'll have senators from Cheekies and Exxon. Maybe we'll have to wear corporate logos like Nascar drivers."
Grayson said the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling -- which removes decades of campaign spending limits on corporations -- "opens the floodgates for the purchases and sale of the law." Read more.
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-8) has introduced legislation to prevent a corporate takeover of government in America. His “Save Our Democracy” Reform Package (H.R. 4431-4435) aims to stave off the threat of "corpocracy" arising from the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
“The Supreme Court in essence has ruled that corporations can buy elections. If that happens, democracy in America is over. We cannot put the law up for sale, and award government to the highest bidder.” Congressman Grayson said.
Here are the bills that Congressman Grayson has introduced, and what they aim to accomplish:
1) The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act (H.R. 4431): Implements a 500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns.
Statement from Doris “Granny D” Haddock In Response to the Supreme Court’s Decision To Kill Campaign Finance Reform
Statement from Doris “Granny D” Haddock in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to kill campaign finance reform
Ten years ago, I walked from California to Washington, D.C. to help gather support for campaign finance reform. I used the novelty of my age (I was 90), to garner attention to the fact that our democracy, for which so many people have given their lives, is being subverted to the needs of wealthy interests, and that we must do something about it. I talked to thousands of people and gave hundreds of speeches and interviews, and, in every section of the nation, I was deeply moved by how heartsick Americans are by the current state of our politics.
Well, we got some reform bills passed, but things seem worse now than ever. Our good government reform groups are trying to staunch the flow of special-interest money into our political campaigns, but they are mostly whistling in a wind that has become a gale force of corrupting cash. Conditions are so bad that people now assume that nothing useful can pass Congress due to the vote-buying power of powerful financial interests. The health care reform debacle is but the most recent example.
The Supreme Court, representing a radical fringe that does not share the despair of the grand majority of Americans, has today made things considerably worse by undoing the modest reforms I walked for and went to jail for, and that tens of thousands of other Americans fought very hard to see enacted. So now, thanks to this Court, corporations can fund their candidates without limits and they can run mudslinging campaigns against everyone else, right up to and including election day.
The Supreme Court now opens the floodgates to usher in a new tsunami of corporate money into politics. If we are to retain our democracy, we must go a new direction until a more reasonable Supreme Court is in place. I would propose a one-two punch of the following nature:
The Federal Reserve has four main responsibilities: to conduct monetary policy in a way that leads to maximum employment and stable prices; to maintain the safety and soundness of financial institutions; to contain systemic risk in financial markets; and to protect consumers against deceptive and unfair financial products.
WASHINGTON, January 20 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today he senses growing opposition to a second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
“I sense that many Democrats see the Massachusetts election as a wake-up call,” Sanders said. “There is a growing understanding that our economy is in severe distress, a greater appreciation that people are disgusted with the never-ending greed on Wall Street, and a better recognition that we need a new direction at the Fed.
“People do not want another term for the man whose major job as Fed chairman was to protect the safety and soundness of our financial system but instead was asleep at the switch,” he added. “I am confident that more and more senators understand that we need a new Fed and a new Wall Street and will oppose Bernanke’s confirmation.”
Sanders on December 5 placed a hold on Bernanke’s nomination. The term of the central bank chief, first appointed by President George W. Bush, runs out on January 31.
You have health insurance coverage through your employer, so the health care debate isn't much of an issue for you, aside from the fact that you don't want to "pay for someone else's health insurance." Watch this program to see how health insurance companies determine your care.
Senator John McCain, who helped rewrite the nation's campaign finance laws, said Sunday that this week's Supreme Court ruling removing limits from corporate spending on political advertising means that campaign finance reform is dead.
"I don't think there's much that can be done," he told "Face the Nation" moderator Bob Schieffer.
McCain said he was not surprised by Court's decision: "I went over to observe the oral arguments," he said. "It was clear that Justice Roberts, Alito and Scalia, by their very skeptical and even sarcastic comments, were very much opposed to it.
"I think that it was interesting that they have had no experience in the political arena," McCain said. "I was reminded of the story of Lyndon Johnson, when he was vice president, was told about President Kennedy's appointments of all these brilliant people, and he said, 'You know, I wish one of them had run for county sheriff.'"
The Republican senator noted that in prior Court hearing on the issue of campaign financing, Justices Rehnquist and O'Connor had taken a different position. "Both had significant political experience; Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia have none," he said.
"We are going to see now an inundation of special-interest money into political campaigns," McCain warned. "I think that diminishes the influence of average citizens."
Schieffer asked McCain if he thought the issue of campaign finance reform was "dead."
"Oh, I think so." He predicted a backlash would occur when people see the amounts of unfettered money, from corporations and unions, that will go into political campaigns. Read more.
Biden Says U.S. Will Appeal Judge's Ruling in Blackwater Trial
In Baghdad, VP Says He Regrets Contractors' Killing of 17 Iraqi Civilians
By Rachel Martin | ABC News
Vice President Joe Biden today expressed personal regret over the 2007 shooting in which Blackwater guards working for the U.S. government in Baghdad, shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians, and he said the United States would appeal a recent court decision to dismiss the charges against the men implicated in the killings....
"There are American men and women in uniform that were sent home in body bags because of the anger and hatred this created," he said.
Five Blackwater guards were ultimately charged with manslaughter and a sixth pleaded guilty. But last month, a U.S. court dismissed the entire case on a technicality.
Speaking in Baghdad today, Biden said that was unacceptable.
"A dismissal, I want to make clear, is not an acquittal and today I'm announcing that the U.S. will appeal this decision," he said.
The shooting and the lawsuits it triggered have debilitated Blackwater to some extent. The company was kicked out of Iraq and had its license to work there revoked and now the company is operating under a new name -- Xe -- to try to wipe the slate clean and undo some of the public relations damage it has suffered.
The company still maintains that its employees acted lawfully that day, but Iraqi leaders call it a massacre. Read more.
...With the court's decision, corporations will now be able to dip into their huge general treasuries to pay for independent advertising. With their enormous resources, corporations can now vastly outspend the candidates and other outside parties in almost any race....
When the Supreme Court ruled that the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act that Sen. John McCain and I championed was constitutional, it noted that the prohibition on corporations and unions dipping into their treasuries to influence campaigns was "firmly embedded in our law." Yet the court only a few years later has upended that prohibition....
A majority of the court ignored several time-honored principles that have served for the past two centuries to preserve the public's respect for and acceptance of its decisions. One is the concept of "judicial restraint," the idea that a court should decide a case on constitutional grounds only if absolutely necessary, and should rule as narrowly as possible. Here, the court did just the opposite — decided the constitutionality of all restrictions on corporate spending in connection with elections in an obscure case in which many far more narrow rulings were possible.
The court also ignored stare decisis, the historic respect for precedent... It's hard to imagine a bigger blow to stare decisis than the court's decision to strike down laws in over 20 states and a federal law that has been the cornerstone of the nation's campaign-finance system for 100 years.
Finally, the court ignored the longstanding practice of deciding a case only after lower courts have fully examined the facts. Here, because the broad constitutional questions considered by the Supreme Court were not raised in the court below, there was no factual record at all on which the court could base its legal conclusions. Read more.
The war in Iraq had "no basis in international law", a Dutch inquiry found today, in the first ever independent legal assessment of the decision to invade.
In a series of damning findings, a seven-member panel in the Netherlands concluded that the war, which was supported by the Dutch government following intelligence from Britain and the US, had not been justified in law.
"The Dutch government lent its political support to a war whose purpose was not consistent with Dutch government policy," the inquiry in the Hague concluded. "The military action had no sound mandate in international law."
In a further twist, it emerged that the UK government refused to disclose a key document requested by the Dutch panel.
The document – allegedly a letter from Tony Blair asking for the support of the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende – was handed over in a breach of diplomatic protocol and on the basis that it was for Balkenende's eyes only, an inquiry official told the Guardian.
"It was a surprise for our committee when we discovered information about this letter," said Rob Sebes, a spokesman for the Dutch inquiry. "It was not sent with a normal procedure between countries – instead it was a personal message from Tony Blair to our prime minister Jan Peter Balkanende, and had to be returned and not stored in our archives. Read more.
ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:
President Obama used his weekly address to rail against Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate spending in political campaigns -- calling it a “devastating” and “powerful blow” striking at democracy that he intends to fight against.
“The United States Supreme Court handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists – and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in corporate influence,” Obama said. “This ruling strikes at our democracy itself.” Read more.