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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
"Brownbaggers Not Teabaggers!" | Press Release
Vigils Against War Funding Spread Across Nation
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) organized "brownbag" lunch vigils against war funding at noon on Wednesday, January 20th, at the district offices of 22 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
On February 17th, PDA will be joined by CODEPINK, AfterDowningStreet, Democrats.com, the California Nurses Assn./National Nurses United, and United for Peace and Justice in holding brownbag vigils outside (or inside) at least 36 congress members' offices.
Brownbaggers are demanding commitments to vote against more money for war. Slogans on their posters include: "Healthcare not Warfare," "Corporations out of Politics," "Bailout Main Street not Wall Street," and "Brownbaggers not Teabaggers".
Vigils have been planned in the following districts: AZ-5, CA-6, CA-9, CA-10, CA-18, CA-22, CA-23, CA-40, CA-42, CA-45, CA-46, CA-48, CA-50, CA-53, FL-9, FL-10, FL-17, ID-01, IN-9, MA-1, MA-2, MA-3, MA-10, MI-9, NY-18, NY-28, OH-13, OH-17, PA-02, PA-7, PA-15, WA-2, WA-3, WA-6, WI-3, WI-7. These are almost all at noon on Wednesday the 17th, but a few are at odd times, so check the details: http://tinyurl.com/brownbagvigil
Brownbaggers are asking members of the House to publicly commit to voting No on any bills that fund wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen, and to publicly urge their colleagues and the House leadership to make the same commitment. As lesser steps in the same direction, PDA is encouraging congress members to cosponsor HR 2454, calling for an exit strategy from Afghanistan, and HR 3699, prohibiting any increase in the number of U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan. Congress members' commitments are tracked at http://defundwar.org
"We have to choose between jobs and wars," said PDA's national director Tim Carpenter. "The American people are on one side, but our so-called representatives in Congress are on the other. The Supreme Court is busy increasing corporate control of our elected officials. We need to be busy enforcing the people's control before it is too late."
"Without wasteful war and military spending," said PDA's deputy director Laura Bonham, "we could have healthcare, jobs, housing, education, retirement security, environmental sustainability, diplomacy and foreign aid. No longer will we take seriously anyone's claim to support these things while voting to fund more war."
Jeff Cohen is a media critic and lecturer, founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, where he is an associate professor of journalism. Cohen founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986.
Why We Can't Afford to Let Obama Give Bush's War Criminals a Free Pass
Punishing the guilty for deeds they committed in the past is the only way to show the world that we are truly on a new path.
By Charlotte Dennett | Alternet
In a week when one-year report cards on the Obama administration were piling up and not all the grades were good, Americans searching for the real change we heard so much about on Obama's campaign trail were hit with some news that would send his grades plummeting. Late last Friday, we learned that Obama's Department of Justice plans to go easy on John Yoo and Jay Bybee -- the two assistant attorney generals under Bush who penned the infamous torture memos. For those who have been working long and hard in the accountability movement to make sure no one -- not even presidents or their top advisors -- is above the law, this was a serious setback.
As part of that movement, I was appalled. Not just because I want to see those who committed crimes in office punished rather than excused. Not just because I want to see the Obama White House restore accountability to government rather than cover up crimes committed by the former administration. And not just because Yoo and Bybee memo'd-up legal opinions stating that torture techniques as egregious and illegal as waterboarding were acceptable. No, there is a deeper question in play here: Why were they really asked to render these opinions in the first place?
That's a question I had to grapple with while writing The People v. Bush, a book that shows how U.S. citizens might prosecute George W. Bush and his advisors for crimes committed in office. When President Obama ordered the release of more "torture memos" by Yoo and Bybee to the public in April 2009, I watched--with a mixture of horror and fascination--the repercussions unfold. First, came words of outrage from the CIA and leaders of the Republican Party about Obama "endangering America's national security." This was followed by indecision and capitulation to the right on the part of the Democratic Party leadership. And through it all, in what I call "the week from holy hell,' came brave calls for the lawyers' prosecution by bloggers, journalists, and even, tentatively, the New York Times. But no one was putting Yoo and Bybee's memos in their proper context, a context that would explain their actions and leave no doubt as to their culpability. Read more.
BILL MOYERS: Make me an offer I can't refuse. That's what President Obama said, when he talks about health care reform during his State of the Union last week.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen medicare for seniors and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Let me know. Let me know. I'm eager to see it.
BILL MOYERS: Dr. Margaret Flowers took him at his word.
MALE VOICE: Can I help you?
DR. MARGARET FLOWERS: Well, last night the President gave his State of the Union address, and I'm a physician. I'm the Congressional Fellow with Physicians for National Health Program.
BILL MOYERS: The very next day she was outside the White House with a letter urging the President to revive the idea of single-payer healthcare. Medicare for all.
MALE VOICE: We can't accept anything, so you'll have to send it through the mail.
BILL MOYERS: The Secret Service turned Dr. Flowers away, but she didn't give up. She tried again the next day in Baltimore, where once again, President Obama made his offer to hear ideas on health reform and once again, she tried to deliver her letter.
DR. MARGARET FLOWERS: Is there somebody here who's in charge that can have somebody who's a representative of the President, come and take this?
BILL MOYERS: This time, she and her colleague, Dr. Carol Paris, refused to move when security told them to, because Dr. Flowers said, "We didn't want to continue to be excluded, marginalized and ignored."
They were arrested.
DR. MARGARET FLOWERS: And we haven't been heard. They continue to exclude us. Read transcript, watch video.
Personal Corporatehood: Coping With the Reason Divided of Citizens United
By Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D. | Truthout
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."
...Just imagine the benefits. When someone asks you for a favor, you can off-puttingly reply, "I have to check with my board of directors at next month's meeting; someone will get back to you then." When you want to meet with your Congressperson on matters you feel strongly about, the receptionist will announce, "Senator, a corporation is here to see you," which will likely get you instant access. If you go public, you can sell shares in yourself and make a tidy sum (just be sure to retain a controlling interest). If someone irritates you or has something you want, you can likely get the Marines sent in to deal with them. You can avoid having to appear personally at court hearings, sending your hired-gun attorney instead. And you can't be thrown in jail, since a corporation itself cannot be imprisoned. See?
At the end of the day, we "natural persons" can try and fight city hall on this one, or we can get in the game and embrace the benefits of artificiality. In a world of surfaces, where profiteering masks as politics and gerrymandering as justice, this may well be the best of all strategies for survival. Read more.
By David Swanson
Congresswoman Donna Edwards' bill proposing a Constitutional Amendment to deny corporations the free speech rights of persons in the form of unlimited election
bribery spending has now been cosponsored by: John Conyers, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jim McGovern, Keith Ellison, Chellie Pingree, Barbara Lee, Andre Carson, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Betty Sutton, Raul Grijalva and Ed Markey.
With the exception of Carson, these congress members are also all cosponsors of the Fair Elections Act, which seeks to address the fairness of our elections by providing public financing for campaigns.
Approaches to fixing the corporate ownership of our elected officials are proliferating, and many organizations and individuals will be backing more than one of them. Here are some of the courses of action already underway:
By Dave Lindorff
There were two points in President Obama’s State of the Union address that provoked resounding and universal applause in the chamber from the assembled senators and representatives of both parties. One point was when the president said he wanted to start his job-creation program “in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss.” The other point was when he said, “While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.”
Tomgram: Robert Lipsyte, The Commercials Are the Super Bowl | TomDispatch.com
Tom of TomDispatch wrote: As Robert Lipsyte, former New York Times sports columnist and host of PBS's LIFE (Part 2), makes clear, the Super Bowl is our highest holy day, not for the celebration of the game itself but for the ads. This year, college quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother made non-stop news for the 30-second Super Bowl advocacy commercial they did for Focus on the Family, a Christian group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. It's been the talk of the Internet and, writes Lipsyte, though no one knows quite what the ad will contain, "whatever happens, the controversy put the game’s spotlight back where it belongs -- on the advertising."
Lipsyte makes his own declaration early: "I am a Super Bowl ad fan. I'd rather go to the bathroom during a third-down play than miss a commercial. You’ll want to know my all-time favorites." And then he uses those favorites to take us on a wild ride through the weirdnesses that our Mad Men and Women caught in past superbowls, and so the zeitgeist they helped to define, especially leading up to and during the eight losing seasons of the Bush administration. He explores their eerie prescience, as in the 1999 Super Bowl ad "Kenyan Runner": "a black African runner in a singlet, loping barefoot across an arid plain. White men in a Humvee are hunting him down as if he were wild game. They drug him and, after he collapses, jam running shoes on his feet. When he wakes up, he lurches around screaming, trying to kick off the shoes... Colonialism anyone? Racism? Forcing our values on developing countries? Mission accomplished."
Or how about on the domestic front, the ad "Money Out the Whazoo": "imagine a middle-aged man wheeled into an emergency room. Doctors and nurses turn him over and someone says, 'He has money coming out the whazoo.' A hospital administrator officiously asks his distraught wife if they have insurance. A doctor calls out, 'Money out the whazoo!' The administrator says, 'Take him to a private room.' The tag line was: 'You should be so lucky.' This was 2000. The sponsor was E*Trade, the online stock gambling outfit. How did they know that the economy was going to tank just when the health-care system would go up for grabs? And catch a wonderful TomDispatch audio interview with Lipsyte.
In 1987, an evangelical Christian missionary in the Philippines, Pam Tebow, sick and near term, ignored doctors’ advice to abort her fifth child. How could they know he would grow up to win a Heisman Trophy and lead the University of Florida to two national titles?
Twenty-three years later, before he even turned pro, Tim Tebow made himself the player to beat in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIV by starring in a 30-second commercial for Focus on the Family, a Christian group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. That the ad would run represented a reversal of CBS’s long-time policy against advocacy ads. At this late date, it is still not certain if Tim’s creation myth will be included in the commercial, or even if the ad will be aired at all.
Whatever happens, the controversy put the game’s spotlight back where it belongs -- on the advertising.
Super Bowl Sunday is America’s holiest day, our all-inclusive campfire, and with 100 million viewers, almost half of them women, about as close as we get, without a presidential election, to taking the national pulse. The ads tell us who we are and where we are going. Read more.
The Supreme Court’s seismic January ruling that corporations are free to spend unlimited amounts of their profits to advertise for or against candidates may have been the latest shakeup of campaign finance – but gaping holes already allow corporations to spend enormous sums without leaving a paper trail, a Raw Story investigation has found.
Campaign finance experts confirmed that though disclosure rules remained intact in the new Supreme Court decision, there are effective methods to circumvent them.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, an attorney and campaign finance expert at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, said corporations already effectively end-run campaign finance law by shuffling money through trade associations.
“One of their favorites right now is spending through trade associations,” Torres-Spelliscy said.
Trade associations are considered tax-exempt non-profit organizations under US law. While they must report contributions received from other corporations to the Internal Revenue Service, the document itself remains confidential and is not made available to the public. Read more.
Congresswoman Donna Edwards has just introduced a Constitutional amendment, together with Congressman John Conyers.
Questions Linger About Full Payments to Goldman Sachs: Kucinich Dissatisfied With Geithner's Answers
Questions Linger About Full Payments to Goldman Sachs
Kucinich Dissatisfied With Geithner's Answers
By Mike Lillis | Washington Independent
To hear Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner tell the tale, the federal officials negotiating the taxpayer bailout of American Insurance Group had no choice but to provide full payment to the company’s trading partners, including Goldman Sachs.
“There was no way, financial, legal, or otherwise, we could have imposed haircuts, selectively default on any of those institutions, without the risk of downgrade and default,” Geithner told lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week.
Don’t tell that to Rep. Dennis Kucinich. The Ohio Democrat — who heads the committee’s domestic policy subpanel — says that federal officials had plenty of leverage to push Goldman for a lesser payout, but simply chose not to use it. Indeed, an investigation by his office, Kucinich says, found that Goldman was already preparing to take less than 100 cents on the dollar for the complex, AIG-backed securities it held at the time. He’s charging that Geithner — who headed the New York Federal Reserve when it funneled billions of dollars through AIG to other firms — simply put Goldman’s interests above those of taxpayers.
“There was only one way for Goldman Sachs to get all of the billions they claimed from AIG, and that was if the New York Fed voluntarily agreed to give it to them,” Kucinich, the populist former mayor of Cleveland, said in a little-noticed exchange with Geithner last week. “If the Fed had fought for taxpayers, Goldman would have had to take some losses and the cost to the people could have been minimized.” Read more.
They just can’t stop themselves:
A day after bashing lobbyists, President Barack Obama’s administration has invited K Street insiders to join private briefings on a range of topics addressed in Wednesday’s State of the Union.
The Treasury Department on Thursday morning invited selected individuals to “a series of conference calls with senior Obama administration officials to discuss key aspects of the State of the Union address.”
The invitation, which is addressed to “Friends,” emphasizes in bold and italics that “this call is for background information only and not intended for press purposes.” It advises callers to tell the operator “you’re joining the ‘White House Briefing Call.’ ”
Apparently everyone in the White House learned the wrong lesson from the Massachusetts election. It’s not that the country loves Republicans, it’s that they hate DC insider deal making. You can’t claim that you’ll “end the outsized influence of lobbyists” one night and then give them exclusive access you consciously try to hide from the press the next day, and expect that people will find it credible.
UPDATE: Dave Johnson from Seeing the Forest emails that the Hill article is a mischaracterization of the call:
I joined two of these calls. The invite came to me through a progressive organization. They were not secret. They were not organized by the Treasury Dept. There were no “lobbyists” asking questions on the calls unless you consider progressive organizations that are C4s to be “lobbyists”.
The calls were following up with details on specific issue areas from last night’s speech. Nothing more.
I have been very critical of Obama in the past and continue to believe that having Geithner in the Cabinet undermines his Presidency and progressives. But this story is completely false and is clearly intended to undermine the Obama Administration’s credibility with progressives.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) testified before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration at a hearing examining the Supreme Court’s recent ruling to allow unlimited corporate spending in elections.
“The Supreme Court has issued a decision inflating the speech rights of large faceless corporations to the same level of hard-working everyday Americans,” Kerry stated in testimony following Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), co-author of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. “In doing so, the Court has struck at the very heart of our democracy, a democracy in which corporations already have too much influence.”
The full text of Senator Kerry’s testimony, as prepared, is below:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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]