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A Supreme Victory for Special Interests

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Posted on Jan 21, 2010
Bossie at the Supreme Court
AP / Lauren Victoria Burke

Citizens United President David Bossie, right, meets with reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Thursday after the top court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

By John Dean

The conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has given a monumental victory to special interests—i.e., the big money corporations, the folks who already dominate Washington politics—with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy (who wrote the court’s opinion), have gone out of their way to further obliterate serious efforts to reform out-of-control campaign spending—spending that conspicuously distorts democracy in favor of those who can buy political influence. This ruling is of the same judical activism ilk that produced Bush v. Gore, not to mention the ensuing eight years of a disastrous Bush/Cheney presidency from which the nation has yet to recover. Understandably, President Obama is flummoxed

This decision is long, at 183 pages. It includes a powerful dissent by the four centrist justices (there are no liberals on this court). And the ruling is chock full of nuanced information that spells out what Congress can and cannot do to reform our dysfunctional and money-hungry election system. This is not a ruling that lends itself to instant analysis. Those who follow this subject far closer than I do will be figuring it out for days, if not months. However, I would recommend the following sites for a quick take on the ruling: Slate (good overview), SCOTUSBLOG (which has followed the case closely), and, in particular, The Brennan Center (which filed an amicus brief in the case and will be leading the way in sorting out the full meaning). To understand what the court majority did, scroll down to about Page 88 of your .pdf reader and read the dissent written by Justice John Paul Stevens, and joined by Justices Ruth Ginsburg, Steven Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. It is an eye-opener. 

Aside from the fact that the majority ruling reeks of conservative politics, what I find most striking about conservative judicial activism typified by this ruling is the fact that the justices involved are totally out of touch with reality. None of the men involved in this historic decision have been elected to anything, ever. They have no idea how difficult it is for elected officials to deal in the contemporary money-flooded milieu of Washington. The work experience of those who have further opened the floodgates for money in politics is restricted to the executive branch, high-priced law firms, or the chambers of the lower federal appellate courts. Not since the late Justice Hugo Black, a former U.S. senator who retired in 1971, has the court had a member of Congress on its bench, someone who can explain the real world to the other justices. These conservative justices live in a bubble, and they have little true understanding of what they have done, other than, of course, to know that they have taken care of conservatives, the so-called Citizens United who filed this lawsuit. (Yes, David N. Bossie, the president of Citizens United, is the same fellow who worked overtime to impeach President Bill Clinton.)

After I fully digest this decision and speak with friends in Washington who have long been concerned that the Bush/Cheney legacy that now controls the high court might do as they have in fact done, I will share further thoughts about the damage this ruling will bring, and what can and will be done. For this ruling has the potential of being even more pernicious than Bush v. Gore, since it reaches not merely the presidency but every elective office in the United States. Conservatives may not know how to govern when they are in power, but they sure know how to make certain that centrists, progressives and liberals are not given a sustained opportunity to work their will.


John Dean served as Richard M. Nixon’s White House lawyer for 1,000 days and is the author of several books, including “Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush” and ” Conservatives Without Conscience.”

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BeanerECMO's avatar

By BeanerECMO, January 29, 2010 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

I also see that I had put a B instead of an M for union donations - no wonder the skepticism. But DaveZx3 has provided a more complete breakdown from opensecrets.

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By archivesDave, January 28, 2010 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment

DaveZx3:
Thanx Dave, FINALLY some stats we can perhaps halfway
believe.

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By wildflower, January 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm Link to this comment

ReDaveZx3: “All the industry sector donation contributions”

Yes, if only those five justices had a sliver of the wisdom of our Framers and/or Justice Stevens, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor:

“. . . And whereas we have no evidence to support the notion that the Framers would have wanted corporations to have the same rights as natural persons in the electoral context, we have ample evidence to suggest that they would have been appalled by the evidence of corruption that Congress unearthed in developing BCRA and that the Court today discounts to irrelevance. It is fair to say that “[t]he Framers were obsessed with corruption,” Teachout 348, which they understood to encompass the dependency of public officeholders on private interests, see id., at 373– 374; see also Randall, 548 U. S., at 280 (STEVENS, J., dissenting). They discussed corruption “more often in the Constitutional Convention than factions, violence, or instability.” Teachout 352. When they brought our constitutional order into being, the Framers had their minds trained on a threat to republican self-government that this Court has lost sight of. . . ”

(pp 61-62)
JUSTICE STEVENS, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG, JUSTICE BREYER, and JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR join, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf

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By archivesDave, January 28, 2010 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment

Iv’e tried to get involved in some other feedbacks with The Nation, Huntington, etc and I must say, this site beats the h-ll out of most of them: 
Most of you here are really sharp and I’m proud to have
found a home here.

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By wildflower, January 28, 2010 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

Re BeanerECMO:  “It only seems as if the ‘bad’ (Big Oil, Big Wall Street et al) corporations are the focus of those efforts.”

Understandable, of course, since “Big Oil and Big Wall Street” are the ones who are guilty of doing the most damage to the environment and the world economy. Also, BeanerECMO, remember that many of the non-profits that you mentioned like Green Peace etc. would not even exist if it weren’t for big oil and coal corporations poisoning and polluting our air, water, and land.

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BeanerECMO's avatar

By BeanerECMO, January 28, 2010 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

Thanks DaveZx3. It’s even more stark than what I had seen.

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By BeanerECMO, January 28, 2010 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

Thanks DavZx3. It’s even more stark than what I had seen.

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By DaveZx3, January 28, 2010 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

All the industry sector donation contributions shown on this page are for the 2008 presidential election quoted by Federal Election Commission data on the opensecrets.org website below.

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=H01


SECTOR                   TOTAL                                         DEMOCRAT   REPUBLICAN                
Agribusiness         $9,510,783   $3,849,714   $5,638,124

Communications/Electronics   $46,034,171   $35,929,169   $9,957,318

Construction         $20,708,374   $9,353,692   $11,301,441

Defense           $2,889,645   $1,640,811   $1,234,344

Energy & Natural Resources   $11,359,213   $4,476,825   $6,869,133

Finance, Insurance & Real Estate   $132,302,697   $71,004,460   $61,169,590

Health           $41,912,484   $27,949,554   $13,868,329

Lawyers & Lobbyists       $95,114,558   $74,174,551   $20,871,969

Transportation         $7,879,241   $2,903,390   $4,955,288

Misc Business         $83,670,725   $53,440,413   $30,042,798

Labor           $1,218,200   $1,160,355   $56,495

Ideological/Single-Issue       $54,660,137   $37,687,082   $16,814,652

Other           $166,417,338   $109,051,394   $56,824,753

If you want to know why we cannot really reform healthcare, look at the special interest money donated to Democrats by Lawyers (who would take a big hit with tort reform) and the health industry.

I am not quite sure yet what these figures represent, but I thought I would post this just so you could look at a website that may be more believable than the Heritage Foundation to find out where and who money comes from and who it goes to in campaigns.  It is one of the best sites I have found. 

.

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By wildflower, January 28, 2010 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment

TEST QUESTION:
Who was the freethinking radical that made the statement below?

“It cannot be so readily concluded that the right of political expression is equally necessary to carry out the functions of a corporation organized for commercial purposes. A State grants to a business corporation the blessings of potentially perpetual life and limited liability to enhance its efficiency as an economic entity. It might reasonably be concluded that those properties, so beneficial in the economic sphere, pose special dangers in the political sphere. Furthermore, it might be argued that liberties of political expression are not at all necessary to effectuate the purposes for which States permit commercial corporations to exist ? I would think that any particular form of organization upon which the State confers special privileges or immunities different from those of natural persons would be subject to like regulation, whether the organization is a labor union, a partnership, a trade association, or a corporation.”

ANSWER:
“Who was this free-thinking radical? None other than the Court’s leading conservative of the time, William Rehnquist.”

http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=corporations_take_the_court

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By BeanerECMO, January 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment

Just as all decisions have concerns, so did this one, but it really has/had no bearing as the FEC also has additional regs on the ‘foreign’ issue. But, Al G would agree with y’all ‘cause he said there was no guiding authority re: foreign donations (Buddist monks).

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By wildflower, January 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

Re BeanerECMO:“This law was not part of the decision rendered by SCOTUS”

Believe SCOTUS would disagree with your thoughts on this:

“The issue was raised by Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent in the case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: “It would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans.”

Stevens continued: “The Court all but confesses that a categorical approach to speaker identity is untenable when it acknowledges that Congress might be allowed to take measures aimed at preventing foreign individuals or associations from influencing our Nation’s political process. … Such measures have been a part of U.S. campaign finance law for many years. The notion that Congress might lack the authority to distinguish foreigners from citizens in the regulation of electioneering would certainly have surprised the Framers.”


http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0110/32151.html

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By BeanerECMO, January 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

Existing election law (2 U.S.C. 441e) prohibits “a partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in a foreign country” from making a direct or indirect campaign donation or expenditure “in connection with a Federal, State, or local election.” It also blocks donations or expenditures of this kind to a political party committee or “for an electioneering communication.”

And, http://www.politifact.com rated the ‘argument’ by BHO as “Barely True.

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By archivesDave, January 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

BeanerECMO:
Yup, just as I concluded, you DID pull them out of a
Cracker Jack Box!....
H.F. probably throws darts at the same board as ACORN!

I did vote for Goldwater in ‘64, but he and Lyndon also probably used similar sources for their stats!

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By BeanerECMO, January 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

BTW, the canard thrown up by Dean, Obama et al is completely specious, to wit: A federal statute prohibits persons who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents (that is, holders of “green cards”) from contributing any money to candidates for state or federal office, or to American political parties. The provision was originally enacted in the 1970s. In the 1990s, the statute received some public attention when it was alleged that fundraisers for the Democratic Party and its candidates were attempting to circumvent the law by raising money from foreign sources, including the People’s Republic of China.

In 2002, the law was amended with the adoption of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act—also known as “BCRA” or “McCain-Feingold.” The amendment made clear that the foreign money ban applied to state as well as federal elections, a position that the Federal Election Commission had taken under the old wording of the statute.

This law was not part of the decision rendered by SCOTUS, and the law is still in effect. Unfortunately, all those millions of dollars accepted by the BHO campaign are still in the war chest.

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By BeanerECMO, January 28, 2010 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

Unfortunately, I don’t have that capability as BHO does. Those were just published by The Heritage Foundation. But, what the heck, facts clearly are not required to dissent.

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By garth, January 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

One must remember that the sole purpose of a Corporation to make a profit.  A government, I would guess, has something quite different has its sole purpose; if it has a sole purpose.
If Beaner’s number are valid, it just points to the fact that we no longer have a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people.  We do not have inalienable rights.  We are in fact extensions of corporation or joint residents in a country under a constitutionally cock-eyed government. 
As history has shown, in a democracy, the loudest voice gets the attention, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and so on.

Beaner, as Al Franken used to say on the radio, “I think you pulled those numbers out of your arse.”

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By Cole..., January 28, 2010 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Getting a bit lost here. Cannot figure who is quoting who and what is their own thought. As much as I dislike old Hen Ford I do agree with him in that he wanted to make and price a product which his workers could buy. Suffice it to say there is a relationship between business and labor and it is not always easy.
Suffice it to say, also, that trolls have a job and get paid by the line and lie and do not need to be in a union. Why would they need to caracterize union executive boards as “thugs”? Would the business boards be above thuggery?
This Subpreme Court five are certainly thugs by this latest decision which should be the subject of this thread. Robes and all the previous dignified looking group of five negated States Right to twist the election of 2000 into a george thought he won therefore he did, a one time only decision. Thugs may change but the thuggery goes on and so does the Trolling.

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By DaveZx3, January 28, 2010 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

By BeanerECMO, January 28 at 11:07 am #

“Big Business Donations: ~$1.6 B; ~41%/59% - Dem/Rep
Union Donations : ~$680B; ~92%/8%; Dem/Rep”

These statistics point out an important fact often overlooked, and that is that corporations are not automatically right-wing in their politics.  In fact, it is fairly evenly split when you look at where corporate money actually goes.  The above statistics are indicative of that, and other statistics I have seen show more of an even split amongst Republicans/Democrats when it comes to corporate financial donations.

The ratio and amounts of union donations are even more significant. 

The supreme court decision will certainly increase corporate campaign donations, but where is the proof that this would benefit only the right wing candidates?

When Martha Coakley’s campaign was falling apart, it was big corporations, (insurance, pharma, medical, etc) which came to her emergency Washington fundraiser and donated large sums.  I thought these corportaions were against health care reform, yet they bailed out the pro health care candidate. 

Another thing I cannot understand, is that if the US Jewish population historically votes 80% Democratic, why are they always described as linked up with the right wing military industrial complex and US corporatism?  You would think that the vast amounts of corporate money controlled by the Jews would be
generously donated to their leftist candidates. 

It all seems to be a huge smoke and mirrors game to me. 

I only raise some of these questions because I have not had the chance to do any digging recently regarding these subjects.

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By archivesDave, January 28, 2010 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

BeanerECMO:
I have to side with Night-Gaunt on this one:
I think u pulled your ‘stats’ out of a Cracker Jack Box!
But once again, you are both begging the issue, that
of being black or white, right or wrong, etc.
It’s definitely a symbiotic relationship and EACH one is equally important to WE the people and each one DOES create jobs!
Now,...if we could PLEASE stick to the issue here:
That of a very treasonous act perpetrated on all of
us by an out of control Supreme Court!

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By Night-Gaunt, January 28, 2010 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

Unions provide protection for workers who without them the businesses would fail. Without unions we would be in the same position as in 1890. Where do you get those numbers from? Any links I can check?

Where do unions get $680 Billion? Don’t you mean million?

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By BeanerECMO, January 28, 2010 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

By garth, January 27 at 6:17 pm #

I am not apologist; although business provides jobs; unions don’t (except for their executive board thugs).

Big Business Donations: ~$1.6 B; ~41%/59% - Dem/Rep
Union Donations : ~$680B; ~92%/8%; Dem/Rep

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By Night-Gaunt, January 27, 2010 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

I’ve got no problem with that BeanerECMO, only individuals have rights. This is different from collective bargaining.

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By garth, January 27, 2010 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

By BeanerECMO, January 27 at 5:12 pm #

Thom Hartmann reported that about 150 billion dollars went to 156 of the top executives at Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Chase Manhatten, and CitiGroup.  That accounts for about one percent of the Gross National Product, the GNP.  The GNP is about twelve trillion dollars.
Exxon broke record profits under Bush with more than 40 billion dollars in 2006 and 2007.  The health insurance companies and the PHRMA are declaring record profits for 2008.
The unions you mentioned, on the other hand, are being hammered, by business-type apologists like you.  Membership is being driven driven down.
The battle you foresee is like a Mrs. Gable’s Card Shop versus Microsoft. 
Get real.
I hope your health insurance and retirement are taken care of.
Or maybe, you should just keel over and die before your world comes crashing to an end.

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By BeanerECMO, January 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

Y’all must remember that corporations mean all corporations, which include SEIU, UAW, Teamsters, NEA, AFSCME, NBPP, Greepeace, WWF, PETA et al, as well as Big Oil, Big Pharma (which was onboard with Obamacare), GE, AIG et al. And, all are liable for civil suits, but it only seems as if the ‘bad’ (Big Oil, Big Wall Street et al) corporations are the focus of those efforts.

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By Cole..., January 27, 2010 at 10:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Boy! What a fine list of comments! I agree with all of them.
The concept of “One man one vote” never existed—- it became ‘one man/one woman one’ vote but that’s another story—-, the indigenous native indian was immediately excluded, and the slave was demoted to 5/8 of a man and even then his fraction vote was given to his white master.

The “corporate personhood” was a bastardization of the false start. First, Corporates do not speak. There only line of communication is via a printed page, so the corporate voice is a typewriter! The corporate typist has a vote, and his typed page an unlimited number more. As noted in the comments the “corporate person” is not bound by citizenship.
Thus the Subpreme Court rendered the ‘vote’ moot.

On another note: the idea promoted by wealthy and corporates that ‘Govt is bad and does not create jobs’ is incorrect. The Govt buys the products like ships of war, fightplanes, bombers,tanks, guns bullets and on and on, and even pays for developments of those and pays bountiful for cost overruns. The Govt pays for troops and mercinaries. and Trolls. And Politicans. 

The idea promoted by the Corporates and wealthy than social projects are bad—like public education and health care—very bad! is bogus, it’s the updated slave idea. The slave states did not educate the slaves, what for! Welcome to the new “We the People, USSA—United Slave State of America”. P.S. don’t bother to line up to vote that is now taken care of.

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By garth, January 27, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Robert Caro points out in one of his books on Lyndon Johnson that Johnson was the source of campaign money for a lot of the congressmen.  The Brown Brothers of Brown & Root, later to become KBR, provided the cash, and it was in piddling amounts. 
Caro saw a sheet of paper with the congressman’s name and the amount he was asking for.  It was usually around a couple of hundred dollars.
That was one-stop shopping.  All you had to do to get the money was stay on the good side of Johnson.
Now, we have a sort of auction.  All the Senators and Congressmen who have nothing but cash on their minds can make themselves available, so to speak.
The State of the Union can become The State of the Campaign Coffers.  All those hogs can stand in front of the CEOs and jump up and down with their hands in the air and an empty shopping bag next to them, yelling, “Me!  Me!  Me!”

The President will become openly useless.

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By wildflower, January 27, 2010 at 12:46 am Link to this comment

Re DaveZx3: “Criminal activity does not get waived. . . for a corporation.”

But five justices did ignore what Justice Stevens referred to as a “virtual mountain of research on the corruption,” which leads us back to the gross injustice involved in this Supreme Court decision. Our government was designed to protect the rights of the individual and the right of self-governance.  By bribing politicians through campaign donations and taking over the election process, corporations have become a major roadblock in maintaining our self-governance.  In giving these corrupt corporations unlimited power to influence our Nation’s elections, the justices have created an undue burden on ordinary Americans.

Re DaveZx3: “It is not that there is anything wrong with business law or criminal law, so much as laws are indiscrimately enforced to favor special people, incorporated or not.”

True, but I believe the situation we are facing is more complex than laws being enforced indiscriminately. Corporations do not want government telling them what to do, but corporations have repeatedly demonstrated they believe they have a right to tell “we the people” what to do, which politician should be elected, and what laws we can and cannot have.  The EPA, for example, was created to protect human health and to safeguard the environment—air, water and land.  Yet, the polluter corporations like Massey Coal work to undermine our laws and believe they have the right to poison groundwater and place the lives of people at risk – conduct which I believe ultimately makes them Enemies of the State.

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By DaveZx3, January 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

By wildflower, January 26 at 5:38 pm #

“is only fair and just that the corporate should be equal to a natural person when it comes to punishment for their crimes.”

I see that I did not word my last statement correctly, and so I left that confusion.  I have to be more clear. 

When it comes to criminal activity, EVERYONE, the natural person, and the corporate employee, who is also a natural person with regard to criminal activity, are held accountable equally.  Criminal activity does not get waived because you work for a corporation, CEO right on down.  All are criminally liable if found guilty of criminal acts.  This is criminal law.  The corporation doesn’t go to jail, the employees do when convicted of criminal acts. 

But, in addition to criminal law, there is also tort law.  An example might be where lightning strikes a dynamite factory, which blows up and takes the private house next door with it.  The dynamite corporation committed no criminal act, but the homeowner sues them for damages to his house based on some features or principles of tort law.  A jury could find the dynamite factory liable, even though they are not indicted criminally.

If the dynamite factory is incorporated, none of the employees can lose their personal property due to a judgement against the corporation.  Only corporate assets can be used to pay a civil judgement.

However, if the dynamite factory is not incorporated, anyone who has ownership in the factory could be liable to pay the settlement with company money or with personal money.  So a sole proprietor could lose everything just because of a lightning strike on his property.

To summarize, incorporation only protects corporate employees for cases brought against them in civil lawsuits, not against indictments brought against them in criminal cases.  The distinction is very important to understand how business law works. 

This is not to say that the law always works, and that is another story.  Laws are supposed to be enforced, and when they are not, everything breaks down.  I think that is more of what we have going on in some of the cases you speak of.  It is not that there is anything wrong with business law or criminal law, so much as laws are indiscrimately enforced to favor special people, incorporated or not. 

The only people who are legally shielded from criminal activity are those with diplomatic immunity, and also INTERPOL, who have recently been declared above the law of the USA, even for crimes committed in the USA.  And that is another story also.

Laws need to be enforced, and criminals need to go to jail.  Period.  That would go a long way towards righting many of the wrongs in our society.  Law enforcement - it is the job of the executive branch, so call the White House and harass them about it.

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By wildflower, January 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

Re DaveZx3: “The corporate “person” replaces the natural person to take the blame and pay the civil penalties.  But the natural person is always held accountable for his criminal activity.”

And needless to say, this is grossly unjust. If a corporate person is equal to a natural person when it comes to free speech, then, it is only fair and just that the corporate should be equal to a natural person when it comes to punishment for their crimes. Dean Baker gets it and has the right idea:

“The court effectively said that corporations have the same rights as individuals in the political sphere. . . .

But corporations are creations of the government. The economic privileges granted to corporations are set by governments, not by the Constitution and certainly not by nature. Specifically, the limited liability of the shareholders in a corporation is a special privilege that governments grant to corporations.

Because of limited liability, the individuals that own a corporation can poison our water, sell dangerous products to our kids or cripple their workers and not pay for the damage they have caused because the government limits their liability to the value of the stock they own. While there may be good economic arguments for giving corporations the privilege of limited liability, there certainly is no moral or legal argument that corporations, or more properly their shareholders, must be granted this privilege.

This allows for a simple route around the Supreme Court’s ruling. Consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling, corporations can be given the right to engage in whatever political activity they wish. However, to get the benefit of limited liability, a corporation would have to sign away its right to take part in election campaigns. It could not contribute to political campaigns, engage in any lobbying efforts on legislation or appointees or take out issue ads.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-baker/leveling-the-political-an_b_436344.html

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By DaveZx3, January 26, 2010 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

By wildflower, January 25 at 8:52 pm #

“You continue to emphasize the free speech rights of corporations, but I note you say nothing about their “limited liability” privilege, which comes along with this. Real persons have real obligations and corporations have limited liability.”

Wildfloer, Limited liability is only for the employees of a corporation, not the corporation itself.  And the limited liability only pertains to civil suits, not criminal prosecution.

If Joe Blow, Sole Proprietor makes some honest mistakes making his widgets, and some people die or get injured, he can be sued by the victims, and his personal assets used to pay the victims.  If he committed criminal acts, he is also subject to criminal prosecution and fines or jail time, depending on the judge.

If Joe Blow, Corporate Executive, makes some honest mistake in making widgets, and some people die or get injured, his corporation is sued by the victims and corporate assets used to pay the victims, but not his personal assets.  He has limited liability for civil suits.  But if he committed criminal acts, he is also subject to criminal prosecution and fines or jail time depending on the judge.  If the corporation’s executives conspired to commit crimes, they are all subject to criminal prosecution. 

All corporate employees are subject to the same criminal prosecution for crimes that their non-corporate counterparts are subject to.  But the corporate employee cannot lose his house in a civil suit.  That is what limmited liability is all about.
The sold proprietor or partner can lose his house in a civil suit.

Keep in mind, that you do not have to commit a crime to be held accountable in a civil suit, and that is why the corporate concept of limited liability is so important.

Why should someone lose his house just for making a mistake on the job, which may not even have been his fault?  People incorporate mostly for just this reason.  The corporate “person” replaces the natural person to take the blame and pay the civil penaltiess.  But the natural person is always held accountable for his criminal activity. (depending on the judge and jury)

I hope that explains it.

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By archivesDave, January 25, 2010 at 10:04 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ:

RIGHT ON BRO!!!!....YOOU the MAN!!!
Quid Pro Quo….I like that one too.

Keep in mind though, we the people, still have the where-with-all: This Fall, EVERY congressperson is up. 
Now, do we have the balls to use some of these proposals/drafts as litmus tests for the candidates to support b4 we consider voting for them?

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By wildflower, January 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment

Re DaveZx3: “there is a lot of resentment about corporations having rights similar to “real persons”, but we are missing the point as to why that is necessary.”

You continue to emphasize the free speech rights of corporations, but I note you say nothing about their “limited liability” privilege, which comes along with this. Real persons have real obligations and corporations have limited liability.

If an ordinary citizen knowingly dumps toxic chemicals such as chromium, arsenic, mercury, lead, copper in somebody’s drinking water over and over again and each time causing bodily harm to persons who drink the toxic water what do you think happens to this person?  The real person, of course, is subject to criminal prosecution while the so called corporate person pays a fine.

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By JDmysticDJ, January 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment

There is way too much psycho-babble on this thread; the same kind of psycho-babble that the 5 justices used to state their opinion. According to their psycho-babble, denying the King the right to rule by decree would be an infringement of the King’s right of free speech.

Let’s tell it like it is. These 5 Justices are guilty of treason. They have betrayed the cause of democracy and freedom, they should be stripped of their citizenship and deported to any country that would have them, and if no country would have them, they should be incarcerated at Guantanamo, or at one of the many dark site prisons where political prisoners are kept.

Is this harsh treatment? Not as harsh as the treatment American democracy will receive as a result of this decision. Apparently these Justices believe the most powerful should have the freedom to indoctrinate the masses, and the masses should have the freedom to be indoctrinated.

As an aside, regarding the dangers and injustice of foreign entities being able to influence, and effectively control the politics and governments of sovereign nations; what’s the big deal? The C.I.A. and other intelligence organizations, U.S. Presidents and administrations, the U.S. Congress, U.S. Diplomats, and U.S. Corporations have been doing that for decades.

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By Anarcissie, January 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

Actually, besides a Constitutional amendment, Congress has the power to rule certain issues off-limits for the Supreme Court.  Article 3, Section 2 reads in part, “In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.”  Congress could pass a regulation stating that the enumerated and implicit rights mentioned in the Constitution applied only to natural persons.

I am pretty sure you are quite right in guessing Congress will do no such thing, but they do have that power.

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By archivesDave, January 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment

Patrick Henry:
In reviewing your comments made on 24 Jan, I need to
apologize to a degree since you offered a very comprehensive, penetrating link at the bottom that
I finally got around to viewing.
Several excellent solutions are offered including comments by Keith Olbermann*, that we all need to seriously consider:  I very much appreciate your posting them.
Thanks again!
* I don’t have a lot of respect for many of Keith’s
views but he certainly hits it spot on here!

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By PatrickHenry, January 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

By archivesDave, January 25 at 12:34 am #

Well Dave, since you or I cannot outlaw corporate personage, It solely rests upon the congress to do so.

Now I agree that “we the people” need to get off our collective arses and petition our congresscritters to do their job “or else”.  I further suggest we throw out some of the cushey encumbents who have grown fat with such campaign contributions.

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By starfish, January 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

I would also point out that anyone who openly threatens to kill the president will not get anywhere by claiming a First Amendment right to “freedom of speech”; it is against the law to threaten to kill the president.

So that is an “abridgment” of free speech.

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By starfish, January 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt:

I think everyone but you assumed that in the instance I mentioned there was no fire and that yelling “fire” was malicious.

BTW, I am unaware of any law on the books making it a crime not to yell “fire” if there is a fire.

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By Night-Gaunt, January 25, 2010 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

“For example, you cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater.”-Starfish

Must I keep explaining how you, & others, got that wrong? You, & others, abridged the saying. Let me give it in full;

“You can’t wrongly shout fire in a crowded theater.”

Why, you ask? Because if there is not fire then the resulting stampede out with injuries and possibly death would be a crime. Unlike when there is a fire to not shout it would also be criminal negligence or worse. Now if you would have thought about it first you would have understood your error. So please think before you recite—-it will make more sense.

If you don’t understand the concepts then how can one possibly understand all that is going on? Including this Supreme Court of the USA reactionary radical move that further undermines both the judiciary & our Constitution in general.

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By wildflower, January 25, 2010 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

Re DaveZx3: “If you are against corporations being able to have free speech”

Believe it’s rather obvious this case wasn’t about the “free speech” rights of corporations – everybody knows they have it including the justices.  No, the issue was really about equal protection under the law for privileged state created corporate persons and the justices knew this as well – some just pretended it wasn’t for less than honorable reasons. 

To ignore the real issue/problem and to give “state created corporate persons” unlimited power to influence the elections of ordinary citizens who have not been granted the same “limited liability” privileges as “state created corporate persons” is unjust and immoral.  It not only creates an unjust burden on the ability for ordinary Americans to maintain our right of self-governance, but it also threatens the sovereignty of this Nation.

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By Major Domo, January 25, 2010 at 9:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There may be a pending case to test if a foreign owned company can influence Congress. Remember the USAF airborne tanker bid between Boeing and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS)using Northrop Grumman as their US partner? Well, this ruling now opens a flood gate for EADS to influence Congress to award them the contract without further questioning instead of Boeing a totally US contractor.

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By garth, January 25, 2010 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

What is Free Speech, or should I say what is Fee Speech?

I suggest that the internet with its websites such as Truthdig offer a slightly alernative point of view. These websites, according to a recent study, get a lot of their information from the print media.  That’s where they are open to slander and libel.
The comments of casual readers to an article, on the other hand, is somewhat of “conversational in nature.”  This conversation should be free in every sense of the word. 
The only way a reader can discern the validity of a comment or take meaning from the it, that is “Who is nuts and who is making sense?” is the words that they type.  No more CEOs or Managers walking into your office or cubicle and telling you what “THEY THINK”.  It is just you, unenemcumbered with the fear of losing your job, or projecting in others the notion that you are not a true believer.
I heard an interview on CNN last Sunday of a man in a diner in Massachusetts.  He said he voted for Brown because the Congress is bickering and getting nothing done.  His phraseology went without comment and without question.  What did he exactly mean by this claim?
They, the Madness Party, control the media and the conversation.

To the point:

I think that Schumer’s speech was just that a speech.  Like the Senator from Vermont, O’Leary’s, and the Congressman for CA, Waxman’s, protests for investigations, it will go no where.

One thing though that piqued my interet was that I knew long beforehand what the vote would be.  Now, I know nothing of Supreme Court Legalese.  I listen to the laymen’s translation on the news to get an idea of what is at stake.  Yet, I knew as soon as Roberts combined these cases what they were after and what the final ruling would be.  How’s that?
I do have a feeling for the ideological views in politics, but despite my wishful thinking that ideology and politics were outside the realm of Supreme Court jurisprudence, my gut told me that these Justices were going to vote for the Corporations. 
I was right!  Should I be a Supreme Court Judge, or should we plug in some values to a computer aided software product, or have we all gone insane?

I saw Justice Roberts on film storming the election offices in Florida in 2000.  Is this the type of character we want heading up the Supreme Court?

I don’t care who tries to refute the above cliam, I saw it.

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By starfish, January 25, 2010 at 7:52 am Link to this comment

Rezv 1000:

Congress had passed many laws “abridging” freedom of speech.

For example, you cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater.

Congress has also passed laws against libel and slander.

Plus, as Justice Stevens pointed out in his opinion:

“Yet in a variety of contexts, we have held that speech can be regulated differentially on account of the speaker’s identity, when identity is understood in categorical or institutional terms. The Government routinely places special restrictions on the speech rights of students, prisoners, members of the Armed Forces, foreigners, 44 and its own employees. When such restrictions are justified by a legitimate governmental interest, they do not necessarily raise constitutional problems. In contrast to the blanket rule that the majority espouses, our cases recognize that the Government’s interests may be more or less compelling with respect to different classes of speakers, cf. Minneapolis Star & Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Comm’r of Revenue , 460 U. S. 575, 585 (1983) (“[D]ifferential treatment” is constitutionally suspect “ unless justified by some special characteristic” of the regulated class of speakers (emphasis added)), and that the constitutional rights of certain categories of speakers, in certain contexts, “ ‘are not automatically coextensive with the rights’ ” that are normally accorded to members of our society, Morse v. Frederick , 551 U. S. 393, 396–397, 404 (2007) (quoting Bethel School Dist. No. 403 v. Fraser , 478 U. S. 675, 682 (1986) ).

- - -

footnote #44 —See, e.g., 2 U. S. C. §441e(a)(1) (foreign nationals may not directly or indirectly make contributions or independent expenditures in connection with a U. S. election).

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/08-205.ZX.html

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

What will you think when foreigners—who own parts or even all of some American corporations—use the great wealth of those corporations to swamp the airwaves and print media with stories, true or untrue, that are calculated to get legislation passed that is favorable to their own country?

What will you think when the oil sheiks of the Middle East use their control of certain American corporations to get legislators elected who will favor the interests of the Middle East oil sheiks?

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By truedigger3, January 25, 2010 at 3:49 am Link to this comment

Re:By john crandell, January 25 at 1:02 am #


John,
Obama is not the new FDR.
That story is nothing but a classic smoke and mirrors and pure PR bullshitting to give the impression that Obama is the new FDR and he is coming with the new New Deal.
No siree, Obama is a part and parcel of the Finance/Military/Industrial complex or their water boy. Take your pick, the results are the same.

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By BR549, January 24, 2010 at 10:48 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind, January 25 at 1:56 am #
“BR549: You make a lot of interesting analogies but your arrogance matches
that of the rich and powerful you dis (even though they deserve it). For some
reason, you and ArchiveDave seem to think you are the only ones who know
JUST how dangerous this Supreme Court is and how these 5 monsters are all
part of the plan to undermine everything we believe in. You sneer at the
Everyman, too:”

Talk about paranoia? Boy did you miss the boat on that discussion. Any
comments I made about the common man were accurate; neighbors trees do
fall on our lawn mower sheds and yes, we do desire to take care of our families
while we also hope that our politicians are working as hard at working honestly
as we are. Then there are the armchair participants who blindly sit back and
wait for someone to give them an entitlement check. There’s nothing arrogant
about it. How did I misrepresent that segment of the population?

As for the Supreme Court; all one has to do is look at the results at the end of
that day. No matter how you mix up the dice, the country and all the people
who have needed a change for the last 9, no, make that 22 years, have just had
to bend over once again. I think you need to read what I did say before
generating your own conclusions half way down my response.

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By DaveG, January 24, 2010 at 10:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Inherit The Wind - well said.

and to everyone who keeps trying to get me to accept that everyone and every thing deserve free speech— Does my coffe table get free speech as well?  It must according to you.

As soon as my coffee table says something, I will let you know.

I wonder which will happen first though…my coffee table talking or you realizing that corporations cannot speak.

No one and no law has ever prevented any citizen’s free speech in this area.  The CEOs and boardmembers have always had just as much free speech as I did but they were not (until recently) allowed to use the corporations assets (from which they are supposed to be legally seperated) to magnify their own personal voice.

It sounds like theft to me.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 24, 2010 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment

BR549:
You make a lot of interesting analogies but your arrogance matches that of the rich and powerful you dis (even though they deserve it).

For some reason, you and ArchiveDave seem to think you are the only ones who know JUST how dangerous this Supreme Court is and how these 5 monsters are all part of the plan to undermine everything we believe in.

You sneer at the Everyman, too:

People are so consumed with their families, their jobs, maybe some dispute with a neighbor’s tree falling on a shed.

Yeah, but that’s really what our lives SHOULD be like.  Quite frankly, my family DOES come first.  A society that does not aim to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” is, IMHO, worthless.  The “contract” you and I have with our fellows and our nation SHOULD be self-serving, namely you or I, and what is closest to us, our families, need to BENEFIT from that social contract or we have no need or obligation to have any loyalty to it.

This may sound simple, but when you or I send our children off to war, if that simple idea isn’t the reason, then we mustn’t send them.

“Life” IS about your neighbor’s tree falling on your shed, not about Federal Reserve policies in DC. “Life” is also about whether your elderly mom can see a doctor and not have to spend her month’s rent to do it.

But we are stuck—those actions taken by those characters in Trenton and DC and in the other state capitals and by the 5 on the Supreme Court impact us, and impact us directly.

I think just about everyone posting here on Truthdig, even the ones who hate my posts and whom I abhor as well, ALL know EXACTLY what this is all about, not just you and ArchiveDave.

And, yes, I have an elderly parent and elderly in-laws that must navigate the treacherous Medicare system, now with the add Bush medication reimbursement labyrinth, so the policies enacted far away by the bastards and bitches in Congress, the courts and the Executive branch DO impact my life, my family, and the “tree falling on my shed”.

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By john crandell, January 24, 2010 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment

How do you like THIS special interest (quoting international law expert Francis A. Boyle):

“According to today’s New York Times, flying home on his way back from Pakistan, Secretary of “Defense”  Gates “relaxed on the 14-hour trip home by watching ‘Seven Days in May,’ the cold war-era film about an attempted military coup in the United States.” Gosh, that’s really relaxing! All of a sudden out of nowhere Gates resurrects this ancient film and ostentatiously lets the New York Times and the other media know that he is watching it on his Pentagon plane home. Obviously, Gates is sending a threat to Obama and the civilian “leadership” in America: You risk a military coup if you do not do exactly what we in the Pentagon tell you to do. This is no idle threat. And it can happen here in America. Just remember the plutocratic sponsored military coup attempt against President Franklin Roosevelt that was thwarted by retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler under similar economic and political conditions. If it had succeeded that anti-FDR coup would have established a fascist dictatorship in America. I am not comparing Obama to FDR by any means. But the historical parallels should be obvious to everyone. And remember that Bush’s General Tommy Franks publicly stated that in the event of another major terrorist attack on America, the American people would demand that the military shut the civilian government down. In other words, Gen.  Franks too publicly threatened a military coup against this Republic’s democratically elected civilian leadership.”

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By archivesDave, January 24, 2010 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment

BR549:
Powerful wisdom in your comments my friend:
You’ve reignited some of my faith in this feedback/blog.

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By archivesDave, January 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment

Patrick Henry: Nope, sorry, the ball’s totally in OUR court!  See, that’s the problem, we’re ALL shifting the ball and not truly willing to take action to the
extent that Patrick Henry (The First) did…Sadly, I find myself often located in the former category as well.

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By Shift, January 24, 2010 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

It’s clear what is happening to the American People.  Corporate influence is attempting to mold life in the corporate image.  It is doomed to failure but not before a time of hardship and a likely World War is endured.  The Presidents decisions are pro-corporate despite his misleading rhetoric.  The Congress is for sale and the court is filled with pro-corporate judges.  Talk is mostly useless and there is no serious activism to counter balance the corporatist system.  We are there and now the only consideration is to what degree of Fascism we are faced with.  It does not look good.

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By BR549, January 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

archivesDave, January 24 at 7:10 pm

I think there are a lot more people who feel that something is terribly wrong but they haven’t yet been able to come to grips with the depth of the evil involved. As someone had stated on Rock Creek Free Press (I think) months ago (great paper, by the way), it is easy for someone to believe in the “small lie”, like the “I did not have sex with that woman” lie from Clinton, because many people tell those type of lies in their everyday life and it has become accepted on all the soap operas, but to be forced to embrace the lies and deceptions on the level of the recent Supreme Court decisions and all the politician’s cover-ups and distortions that are now being brought to light about 9/11, Rex84, that Oswald couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn door; it’s enough to totally overwhelm the average mind. What happens, then, is that people grab another beer, go back to their BarcoLoungers, and tune out by watching yet another inane football game.

People are so consumed with their families, their jobs, maybe some dispute
with a neighbor’s tree falling on a shed. It’s hard enough for THEM to maintain
any degree of integrity in their own workplace and at home, let alone have to
continially monitor the integrity of those big buck politicians who are
suspiciously always trying to convince us of why we need them so much.

If we had a vote tomorrow about who was going to be selected to go into the taxpayer paid for “doomsday caves” around the country, should some catastrophic event ever actually take place, one might envision perhaps three viable scenarios coming out of a democratic system. One plan might suggest that members of each race draw straws in order to see who would be on the ark, so to speak. A second plan might be to just get as many farmers, nurses, welders, carpenters and the like and throw them inside. Yet a third scenario would be to scale down the necessary functions within a microcosm of a society and proportion those positions out among whomever was qualified.

As it stands now, were anything to happen, all the wealthy, those that have become nothing but useless festering boils in our culture, are all posturing themselves to steal all the lifeboats, with little regard to the long term survivability of the species or the planet as a whole. I can see it all now. Each one of them would be barking orders and expecting someone else to do the work for them, but there wouldn’t be enough of the Indians, just too many chiefs. Can’t you just see George Soros, Gordon Brown, and David Rockefeller arguing and telling each other to clean the toilet or take out the trash? These people are totally inept.

If we were to ever face a severe natural catastrophe and our leaders had been truly committed to the survival of the human race, there would be only a small handful of qualified leaders that the remaining population would require to properly function. All the rest of the “leaders”, as they call themselves, would have to bite the bullet like the rest of the planet and take their chances topside.

Imagine having Hilary Clinton getting her ass booted off the list because some illiterate Guatemalan papaya farmer was a far more valuable asset to the survival of the species. Wouldn’t that be a kicker?

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By PatrickHenry, January 24, 2010 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment

The ball is in Congress court.

http://politicalirony.com/2010/01/21/things-you-can-do-about-todays-supreme-court-decision/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+politicalirony+(Political+Irony)

Foreign and corporate money has been infecting elections since this country was founded.

Never this blatently.

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By archivesDave, January 24, 2010 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt and elisalouisa:
Your comments are spot on, succinct, and most timely!
You appear to be some of the very few in this blog/feedback who truly understand the gravity of this and refuse to continue the typical Right vs Left banter that most are caught up in!

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By Blackspeare, January 24, 2010 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

And then there is the “Law of Unintended Consequences.”  This ruling will permit foreign entities to influence US politics.

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By Howie Bledsoe, January 24, 2010 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, it´s over.  Even bloody revolution is down the tubes.  Glab your ankles and caugh, folks, because the future don´t look pretty. This is Orwellia in it´s finest.  One good outcome, of course, will be the nullification of our useless and degrading “voter” charade that we must sit through every 4 years. “Democrats” is so blasè, whouldnt it be funner to vote for “The Carlyle group” or something? Or maybe, just maybe, we wont vote in the “old fasioned sense.” Maybe our votes will be in the form of who´s products we buy.  Maybe if we dont buy certain products, then a certain corporation will falter.  No, never mind, that could never work.

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By starfish, January 24, 2010 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

(excerpt from an article by Greg Palast)):

=========================

Right now, corporations can give loads of loot through PACs. While this money stinks ..., anyone can go through a PAC’s federal disclosure filing and see the name of every individual who put money into it. And every contributor must be a citizen of the USA.

But under today’s Supreme Court ruling that corporations can support candidates without limit, there is nothing that stops, say, a Delaware-incorporated handmaiden of the Burmese junta from picking a Congressman or two with a cache of loot masked by a corporate alias.

(snip)

Hidden money funding, whether foreign or domestic, is the new venom that the Court has injected into the system by its expansive decision in Citizens United.

We’ve been there. The 1994 election brought Newt Gingrich to power in a GOP takeover of the Congress funded by a very strange source.

Congressional investigators found that in crucial swing races, Democrats had fallen victim to a flood of last-minute attack ads funded by a group called, “Coalition for Our Children’s Future.” The $25 million that paid for those ads came, not from concerned parents, but from a corporation called “Triad Inc.”

Evidence suggests Triad Inc. was the front for the ultra-right-wing billionaire Koch Brothers and their private petroleum company, Koch Industries. Had the corporate connection been proven, the Kochs and their corporation could have faced indictment under federal election law. As of today, such money-poisoned politicking has become legit.

So it’s not just un-Americans we need to fear but the Polluter-Americans, Pharma-mericans, Bank-Americans and Hedge-Americans that could manipulate campaigns while hidden behind corporate veils. And if so, our future elections, while nominally a contest between Republicans and Democrats, may in fact come down to a three-way battle between China, Saudi Arabia and Goldman Sachs.


http://tinyurl.com/yju3mbb

=========================================

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By elisalouisa, January 24, 2010 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

It is legal for corporations that have interests in other countries to influence who are candidates are. This is a global takeover of our country.
It’s amazing how for years you go along and what is happening doesn’t make
sense. Why certain laws are passed, why such and such wars are being fought
and the reason is because your mind is fixed in one tunnel. You have been
brainwashed from childhood toward thinking a certain way, namely, we vote for
those who represent us and they follow the will of the people. What a laugh.
The global economy which many of our representatives in Congress told us we
would benefit from sent our factories to other countries. Wall Street benefited,
as the corporations made huge profits from the slave labor other countries
provided. Wall Street knew where to put their money and worked with our
representatives to open new avenues in countries that would provide the cheap
labor. The chickens are coming home to roost now with high unemployment
and a bleak future ahead. Meantime Wall Street was given tax money to feed
their insatiable greedy habits. No strings attached either.
Corporations and banks are now so interwoven with other countries that our
bail out went to foreign banks also. These same corporations that are more
foreign that American now can influence who are leaders are. Each step is a
step closer toward global government. That must be a hard pill to swallow
because it is beyond the thinking of most people.

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By Night-Gaunt, January 24, 2010 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

You’ll notice that part of that global system emanates from here. The point is that these mega-corporate globalists want to mold the earth in their image right from here. Just as the British, French, Italian, German and Belgians did in the recent past. But they want a base first and the present gov’t though serviceable still isn’t to their dictatorial standards. The kluge we have of clashing Republic and Empire will not last. One or the other will give way and the Empire has most of the marbles in this game. We are one step closer to them realizing it.

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By Lynn Demarest, January 24, 2010 at 10:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Voters can fight back: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#/group.php?gid=257774503989&ref=nf

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By archivesDave, January 24, 2010 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

To Inherit The Wind:
No it definitely is NOT the point:  The only TRUE
point is the one we both agree on but you still don’t seem to see just how close we are to this global system that both the Right and Left seem to be in complete denial about.  Have u read ‘Creature from Jekyll Island’ yet..?
This Fall’s elections are probably our country’s last
hope and a hell of a lot of folks besides Sen. Feingold are going to have to IMMEDIATELY get behind some form of meaningful campaign finance reform!

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By starfish, January 24, 2010 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind:

Unfortunately for us, the two Supreme Court justices most likely to retire any time soon are Stevens and Ginsburg; the five “bad” Justices are quite young by Supreme Court standards. So, even if Obama gets to appoint two Justices, he will most likely only be replacing Justices we like.

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By starfish, January 24, 2010 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

archivesDave:

The moneyed interests ran this country from its beginnings. At the start of the 20th century, reformers such as President Teddy Roosevelt tried to limit the influence of the Big Money Boys by trying to break up their monopolies. For the next 40 years, other reformers tried to decrease the ability of the Big Business Boys to call the shots in our governing bodies, and passed legislation to rein in the ability of some very wealthy people to buy legislators and get legislation passed that they wanted passed. The Big Money Boys fought vigorously against any reforms that protected workers’ lives and/or financial well-being.

Now, thanks to an increasingly right-wing, corporation-friendly Court we are returning to the days when the corporate boys ran the country in their own self-interest.  Historically, the Supreme Court—until the Warren Court—saw its role as protecting the interests of the wealthy and the propertied, but not protecting the rights of ordinary Americans.

Call me if THIS Supreme Court ever rules in favor of an individual who is suing a corporation.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 24, 2010 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

ArchivesDave:

Better go further back into your archives and look at Chief Justice Roger Taney, who staunchly and deftly defended slavery and the uprooting of ALL rights for those with darker skins. He even overturned compromises between the slave and free states to protect slavery.  Read the Dred Scott decision.

But that’s not the point.

The Supreme Court was able to easily define rights of citizens vs corporations when Earl Warren was CJ and there were liberal, sensible justices. Even Nixon flubbed with his appointment of Harry Blackmun, a TRUE Conservative, not an activist radical reactionary like Rehnquist, one of his other disastrous picks.

Nixon, picking the young, radical reactionary Rehnquist, was looking to put on the court someone who’d be there 30 years, long beyond Nixon.  Scalia, Kennedy and O’Conner were Reagan’s shot at the same (O’Conner was not quite what he expected). Bush one did the same with Souter and Thomas—Souter was his mistake (for which I’m grateful), but Thomas has been what they wanted.

So, since Nixon, GOP Presidents have been seeking to achieve EXACTLY the USSC makeup we have now, to radically change and re-write the Constitution to protect the corporate interests Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes were sworn to defend.

Hopefully, one or more will have to leave the court before the end of 2012, the sooner the better.

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By Paolo, January 24, 2010 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

The court was correct in its ruling.

Under McCain-Feingold, a book publishing CORPORATION that advocated the election or defeat of a candidate could be prohibited from publishing within 60 days of an election.

This question actually came up in the case. Chief Justice Roberts asked the attorney for the defense if such a publisher could be prevented from publishing. He answered that, under McCain/Feingold, it could be.

Of course, labor unions are also corporations. Should THEY be prevented from publishing and advocating their positions 60 days before an election?

How about Disabled American Veterans? That’s also a corporation. Should they be prevented from spending money before an election? How about charitable corporations, like United Way?

Newspapers and magazines are also corporations. Should they be forbidden from publishing their recommendations before an election? Oh—they should be “excluded” from the law? On what grounds? That their opinions and facts are better than those of any other corporation?

What about equal protection under the law?

The bottom line is that, no matter how much a corporation (or an individual) spends in an attempt to persuade people to vote a certain way, the people are still free to agree or disagree with that opinion. History is full of examples of candidates who won elections, despite being significantly outspent.

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By archivesDave, January 24, 2010 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

To Night-Gaunt & Inherit The Wind:
You guys truly amaze me when you argue about where all of this mess began: 
Please, get a grip and go back to where it fundamentally began with JP Morgan and the rest of the ‘robber barons’.  I seriously doubt neither of
you read my earlier blog yesterday. Our entire economic structure was built on a faulty
foundation of the Fed Reserve and HAS to eventually
collapse.
Unfortunately, unless we wake up very quickly, it will ‘collapse’ into the next global economic superstructure being prepared right now by such
‘luminaries’ as the G20, IMF, UN, WTO, BRIC, ETC.

So do us all a favor guys and stop arguing about
‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’,
when this ‘Titanic’ is almost to the edge of the ‘iceberg’.  Focus on the MAJORS, not the minors.
archivesDave

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By BR549, January 24, 2010 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3, January 24 at 5:46 am

“If you are against corporations being able to have free speech, representing their interests and spending money to promote their interests, why do you miss the fact that most, if not all, scientists work for corporations, and these corporations promote their corporate interests and spend large sums of money to promote these interests?”———-> All of those scientists and corporate executives ALREADY GET a chance for their voices to be heard, as individuals, and their interests expressed, at the ballot box, like the rest of us. To also have these same people, in effect, now voting twice, undermines the whole reason we have a voting system. Why would the founding fathers have bothered to even set up a bicameral legislature if they hadn’t foreseen that possibility?

.... and for Inherit The Wind, January 24 at 10:45 am
“I’m not sure about the 5th, but Kennedy is obviously very sympathetic to the anti-American destructive aims of Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts”,———-> It truly boggles the mind how sociopaths like Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, can have such a deep loathing and disrespect for themselves, their own grandchildren, the oath they took, and the country they swore to serve, and could have progressed so that up into the structure of our government; almost as if they were one more self-destruct button that humanity is now finding it had been hardwired with. I guess the founding fathers hadn’t yet developed a sense of how to cull these sociopathic personalities from poisoning the system.

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By starfish, January 24, 2010 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

footnote #44 from Justice Stevens’ opinion:  “See, e.g., 2 U. S. C. §441e(a)(1) (foreign nationals may not directly or indirectly make contributions or independent expenditures in connection with a U. S. election).”

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/08-205.ZX.html

- - - - -
How will we feel when foreigners—who own parts or even all of some American corporations—use the great wealth of those corporations to swamp the airwaves and print media with stories, true or untrue, that are calculated to get legislation passed that is favorable to their own country?

How will we feel when the oil sheiks of the Middle East use their control of certain American corporations to get legislators elected who will favor the interests of the Middle East oil sheiks?

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By starfish, January 24, 2010 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

And regarding another comment here about abridging speech,  Justice Stevens pointed out:

- - - - -
“The Government routinely places special restrictions on the speech rights of students, prisoners, members of the Armed Forces, foreigners, and its own employees. When such restrictions are justified by a legitimate governmental interest, they do not necessarily raise constitutional problems.”

http://tinyurl.com/y854pxj
- - - - -

The government constantly “abridges” freedom of speech. For instance, you cannot yell, “fire” in a crowded theater.

There are also the libel and slander laws; I don’t see the Court overturning those laws, do you?

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By starfish, January 24, 2010 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

It is absurd to suggest that until this ruling corporations did not have “speech” rights in elections.

—from the Wash. Post:

“It simply isn’t true that federal law gives corporations no voice in politics, since they can set up political-action committees (PACs) that take donations from their employees and shareholders. What corporations haven’t been able to do is pay for political activity out of their treasuries. And with good reason: Even a small corporation can bring far more money to bear on a candidate than all but the wealthiest individuals.”

http://tinyurl.com/yl7rxdp

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By Inherit The Wind, January 24, 2010 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

Tony Wicher, January 24 at 4:17 am #

This idea that corporations should be the same as people as individuals - it’s absurd. There are plenty of laws that apply to corporations as corporations and not to people. It’s called corporate law. These are laws that are passed by Congress. What is to prevent Barney Frank from introducing a bill making it a criminal offense for corporations to spend any money at all to influence the political process, whether by buying ads for or against politicians or by hiring lobbyists to send to Washington?
********************************

I have never understood that.  Corporations cannot killed, do not grow old, don’t have survivors and heirs, and can live for generations.  Most importantly, when a corporation commits a criminal offense it cannot go to prison.

They MERELY exist to prevent the stock-holders and officers of the corporation from
a) having to pay taxes on the corporation’s profits to them.
b) insulate them from the results of their mis-management and personal greed.

So, if corp MegaOil makes a “mistake” using a single-hulled super-tanker that’s fundamental unsafe, and spills enough oil that it takes $10 billion of the tax-payers’ money to clean it up, the officers who SHOULD have known that tanker was unsafe and chose to risk OTHER PEOPLES’ environment don’t go to the clink.

When ConthePublic PowerCorp consistently pollutes a major river used for drinking water, fishing, commerce and swimming, and KNOWS it’s destroying this resource, none of the officers can go to jail—the “legal person” made the decision.

The Supreme Court legacy of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush is the greatest threat to the continuation of our democracy and freedom.  4 of the 5 are COMPLETELY committed to creating a power structure dominated by the privileged few in a new feudal state and structure, where dissent is outlawed.  I’m not sure about the 5th, but Kennedy is obviously very sympathetic to the anti-American destructive aims of Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts.

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By DaveZx3, January 24, 2010 at 1:46 am Link to this comment

By wildflower, January 24 at 4:28 am #

Without regard for the emotional issues involved or whether Murkowski or any organization is right or wrong in their assumptions, in this country, we do get to plead our case, even if it goes against what most scientists think. 

If you are against corporations being able to have free speech, representing their interests and spending money to promote their interests, why do you miss the fact that most, if not all, scientists work for corporations, and these corporations promote their corporate interests and spend large sums of money to promote these interests?

Do you not think that many large corporations have spent large sums of money promoting the concept of global warming?  Do you not see that many corporations are poised to make even larger sums of money when and if cap and trade becomes law? 

Why do you automatically assume the corporations on the side of global warming are correct?  Why is Murkowski and like-minded corporations questioning the concept automatically wrong?  The science and issues have obviously not been adequately debated or established.  Otherwise, manipulating scientific data would not have been necessary.

Why do you not see both sides as having “special interests”?  Don’t tell me Al Gore’s corporation has not positioned itself to make billions promoting global warming and carbon credit trading. 

Besides, this thread is about corporations having rights to represent and defend themselves through speech.  I can see there is a lot of resentment about corporations having rights similar to “real persons”, but we are missing the point as to why that is necessary.

Obviously, if you want to tax and sue corporations, you have to give them freedom to represent and promote their interests.  To hold each individual employee tax accountable for profits of the corporation is impossible, and to hold employees legally accountable for errors of the corporation is equally impossible.  So there must be a collective legal entity to exercise the rights and obligations of the group.

To hold groups collectively accountable is a good thing, not a bad thing.  But to be accountable, there must be rights to represent and defend interests.  Taxation without representation is not a good thing. 

Very rich people will promote their interests one way or the other, whether through a corporation they are employed by or own stock in, or a private foundation they have some control over, or just personally. 

The question is whether or not a person with some money can spend all or some of that money promoting their commercial or personal interests. 

I guess if the government can tell us we have to buy health insurance, then it will eventually be able to tell us exactly how, why, where and when to spend other money also.

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By kukai, January 24, 2010 at 1:00 am Link to this comment

The United States of America is suffering from dementia, and the prognosis is not good.

My country, ‘tis of thee,
Stronghold of big money, of thee I sing;
Land where health care’s denied,
Land where our freedoms died,
From every mountainside
I hear “chi-ching”!

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By wildflower, January 24, 2010 at 12:28 am Link to this comment

Re DaveZx3: “When does it become a “special” interest? 

Alaskan Senator Murkowski’s attempts to gut the U.S. Clean Air Act on behalf of big polluters is a good example of special interest politics at work, and as usual it’s not good for the health and welfare of U.S. citizens:

“Ms. Murkowski, joined by 35 Republicans and three conservative Democrats, proposed to use the Congressional Review Act to strip the agency of the power to limit emissions of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. . .

The agency has declared carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to be a threat to human health and the environment and is moving to write regulations to restrict emissions from vehicles, power plants and other major sources. The action could impose significant costs on the economy but would also rein in production of the heat-trapping gases that most scientists link to worrisome changes in the global climate. . .

. . . Her effort was applauded by a broad swath of industry, agriculture and energy lobbies, which fear the prospect of what they consider capricious and heavy-handed regulation by the E.P.A.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/science/earth/22climate.html?scp=3&sq=Alaska epa&st=cse

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By Tony Wicher, January 24, 2010 at 12:17 am Link to this comment

This idea that corporations should be the same as people as individuals - it’s absurd. There are plenty of laws that apply to corporations as corporations and not to people. It’s called corporate law. These are laws that are passed by Congress. What is to prevent Barney Frank from introducing a bill making it a criminal offense for corporations to spend any money at all to influence the political process, whether by buying ads for or against politicians or by hiring lobbyists to send to Washington?

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By MARK OF THE BEAST, January 23, 2010 at 11:11 pm Link to this comment

Politics, as the younger brother of Religion, does a great job of keeping the minds of the so-called enlightened class off of the big picture. 

It’s incredible how a few words from the SC can generate such a flurry of activity amongst those who mistakenly believe their opinions matter, and that somehow they can have an impact on the outcome.  They have another reason to keep busy for a while. 

And becoming more evident is the possibility that the “intellectual” sub-groups are so engrossed in their fruitless processes, that the truth could be laid out in front of them, and it would not even be noticed.  The glory of deceit. 

Is there any joy in watching the people as they struggle to digest and counter this latest stirring of their political soup?  There are those of us who would say so.

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By Night-Gaunt, January 23, 2010 at 10:30 pm Link to this comment

Yes but it has been elided to corporations which are not people. The petition part has been perverted to the legion of well paid for agents for those corporations to get what they want. No rights for corporations just people.

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By Andy, January 23, 2010 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I no lawyer but the decision seems to make sense considering The constitution’s first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  Luckily the court will not use the same reasoning should a child pornographer come in front of the court.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 23, 2010 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, January 23 at 6:00 pm #

This is all part of the slow coup process that has been in motion since the election of Ronald Wilson Reagan.
*************************************

Absolutely!  But it actually began with Richard Nixon and his appointment of William Rehnquist to the USSC.  EVER trick and legal back-flip that the 5 engage in was pioneered by Rehnquist, and perfected by his intellectual ally (but utter despised enemy), Antonin Scalia.

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By archivesDave, January 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm Link to this comment

This will turn out to be one of the DARKEST days in our nation’s history and propels us hell bent into the (here now) NWO and new global currency system.
And just WHERE are all the Christians & Conservatives
on this despicable TREASONOUS act?...
I’m turning in my lifetime conservative/ libertarian
membership:.... they make me want to vomit!!!

btw, I would really like to know, just how many out there have at least perused Griffin’s book, ‘The Creature From Jekyll Island’...It truly amazes me how
the Right and left love to argue about the beginning
point of all this economic mess.
J P Morgan, back in 1907 conceived the Fed Reserve
and it too him six yrs to ram in thru Congress in a
midnite pre Christmas session.  Well guess what guys,
we’re in a time warp of exactly ONE HUNDRED YEARS and 2012 or 13 will probably be the time when a new
global currency will be introduced and at that point
we can all kiss whatever sovereignty we have left,
BYE BYE!
archivesDave

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By Jean Gerard, January 23, 2010 at 5:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Would a reverse spin (as in tennis) redirect this Supreme atrocity?  Organize
public outrage to make anti-corporate contributions the MAIN focus of the
next election.  Outrage organized by a widespread, broadly representative
Citizen’s Action for Fair Elections (CAFE) (or some such easy-to-remember
name, get information out that no candidate who accepts corporate money will
get MY vote, and follow through with information that uncovers and publicizes
all such contributions. 

Or broad information campaign and advertising NO CANDIDATE WHO ACCEPTS
CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS WILL GET MY VOTE, and pre-campaign try to
entice candidates to voluntarily forego such contributions as a move that
proves their personal integrity.

Hard to believe that under the present citizen apathy such a movement could
be organized, but if it were it might work.  It might also be used as a first step
toward real campaign reform, using the previous organization to mount a
follow-up.  Yes?  No?

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By Night-Gaunt, January 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

This is all part of the slow coup process that has been in motion since the election of Ronald Wilson Reagan.

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By starfish, January 23, 2010 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

The five conservative justices purposely EXPANDED the original Citizens United case just so they could overturn earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions that had been made before Alito replaced O’Connor:

- - - - - - - -
(excerpt from:  http://tinyurl.com/ydhke9k  )

The original case before the court seemed an improbable vehicle for such a dramatic re-examination of campaign funding regulations.

Brought by Citizens United, a nonprofit group, against the Federal Election Commission, the case presented a seemingly straightforward question: Do campaign finance restrictions on corporate spending apply to Citizen United’s plan to run advertisements for an anti-Hillary Clinton documentary at the peak of her 2008 presidential run?

But the high court ended up in a much broader examination of constitutional issues that questioned the entire system that has been built up over decades to regulate the role of corporate money in politics.

Ever since justices first heard arguments on the Citizens United case last March, they have gone to UNUSUAL lengths before rendering a decision.

The court scheduled a RARE RE-ARGUMENT in September — a month before the fall term officially began. And justices ORDERED lawyers from both sides to EXPAND their SCOPE to address not just the corporate electioneering issue at play in Citizens United but the constitutionality of all limits to corporate political speech.

Thursday’s decision was even issued on a day the court does not normally deal with such issues.

- - - - -—
(emphasis added)

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By Night-Gaunt, January 23, 2010 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

Sorry Starfish just the first one the others were for other people. I thought the new paragraphs would be sufficient.I was lazy.

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By Cole..., January 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you accept that what is best for the big corporations is best for the country (e.g. ‘what’s good for GM is good for the country’ ) then this Subpreme Court decision is a gem. And if you accept that the big corps own the Congress and the Govt then this decision confirms that the ‘best’ has been delivered.
What we have is no longer a representative democratic republic, what we have is a Corporate Monarchy—who is the King? We won’t know until the corporates start killing each other and the one left standing will be King.

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By wildflower, January 23, 2010 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

Re Starfish: “. . . the Court takes an important first step toward restoring full constitutional protection to speech that is ‘indispensable to the effective and intelligent use of the processes of popular government.’” [Thomas]

I’ve been reading the SCOTUS decision a bit at a time and what has become really clear to me is that these five justices have a very poor understanding of democracy and the kind of system our founders fathers had in mind so that ordinary Americans could engage in self-governance – of course, it could be these justices are just completely corrupt individuals.

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By starfish, January 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt:

I never mentioned “Philology” or “revolution” or “the French Revolution,” so why did you address those comments to me?

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By starfish, January 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

Many people think the U.S. Supreme Court has historically been the guardian of the America people’s rights. it has NOT.

Historically, the Supreme Court was the guardian of the moneyed interests and property and business owners. It was not until the Warren Court (1953 - 1969) that the Supreme Court saw its role as protecting the American people from the abuses of the government and Big Business.

Since the days of the Warren Court, there has been a steady decline in the number of liberal Justices and a steady increase in the number of Conservative Justices. Now the worst of the worst on the Court finally have Kennedy (instead of O’Connor) as their swing vote. Unfortunately for us, Kennedy appears to be (1) easily swayed by the reasoning of Scalia, or (2) easily intimidated by the ridicule of Scalia. We might note that in any important case where Kennedy has been the hard-to-win-over vote, the Chief Justice has assigned Kennedy to write the Court’s opinion; that both massages Kennedy’s ego and keeps him from backsliding into listening to the reasoning of the centrist Justices. I might note there are no longer any real liberals on the U.S. Supreme Court; the four who might seem that way seem that way only in contrast to the ultra-conservatives (fascists) on the Court.

In his separate concurring opinion in the case we are discussing, Justice Thomas wrote that this ruling is an important “first step.”:

THOMAS: “By striking down §203 (of McConnell v. Federal Election Comm’n ), the Court takes an important first step toward restoring full constitutional protection to speech that is ‘indispensable to the effective and intelligent use of the processes of popular government.’”

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By Night-Gaunt, January 23, 2010 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

Blackspeare you are confusing speech with bribery. Typically done by Conservatives like you. Since our politicos run on money given, instead of everyone of them getting the same amount and unlimited access of the airwaves, we get a system that can be bought by the highest bidder. Those are the corporations, most of whom are as conservative or more so than you. Labor is out gunned 17 to 1. And the rest of us don’t get a full blip.

http://lastdaywatchers.blogspot.com/2010/01/forwardactions-of-obama.html

starfish, January 22 at 7:47 pm #

If corporations are to be considered to have the same First Amendment rights as people, can the death penalty also be applied to corporations (as it can be to people?)

We use to, every 5 years if they were shown not to have bettered the population they were dissolved, if so then another 5 years of life. They are long overdue.

To Keep and Bear Arms? They do already. Ever heard of Blackwater? Revolution? Who do you think manufactures both the bullets and the guns? Fielding troops in the same or larger numbers than our own military and propping them us too.

We saw how the French Revolution turned out so stop with the bloody analogies. We avoided that with our own unless you would like to be one of those murdered by the new state?

Philology is the study of the origins and meaning of words, you must mean philosophy.

http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4773613&ct=7868979

Keith Olbermann‘s two commentaries on this situation are worth listening to on MSNBC.

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By wildflower, January 23, 2010 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

Good to see some business leaders get it:

“Forty-one business leaders from a diverse cross-section of industries sent a letter to Congressional leadership in response to the Roberts’ Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC. According to the distinguished group, the Fair Elections
Now Act is the most comprehensive response to yesterday’s terrible decision.”

“Yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court makes it imperative that Congress pass the Fair Elections Now Act,” said Alan Hassenfeld, chairman of Hasbro. “It is long past the time to stop requiring that our elected officials moonlight as telemarketers raising money for their re-election campaigns rather then devoting all their time to solving the problems before this nation. Is there a difference between campaign contributions and bribery?”

http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?
c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4773613&ct=7868979

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By Cole..., January 23, 2010 at 10:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can that be the difference between a demo and a repug? The demo will vote (often)‘for’ something to not look “negative” and the repug will vote (more often)‘no’ with a “desire to be negative”.

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By starfish, January 23, 2010 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy were three of the five Republican-appointed Justices who had, all through their Supreme Court careers, been advocates for states’ rights, yet had ruled to deny the Florida Supreme Court the right to rule for Florida in the Bush-Gore presidential election in 2000.

It is hypocritical for Kennedy (who wrote the Court’s majority opinion) to try to make us believe that corporate money will not swamp all other “speech” in any election, or that money cannot and does not influence how matters are decided .

- - - - - - - -
—from the Wash. Post:

  “The justices also ignored the possibility that a vast influx of corporate money into elections will promote corruption. Never mind that, as recently as June of last year, Kennedy himself acknowledged that corporate campaign spending can cloud an official’s judgment, when he wrote an opinion ordering West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin to recuse himself in a case involving a company whose CEO had spent $3 million to get Benjamin elected.” http://tinyurl.com/yl7rxdp


The article goes on to point out:

  “It simply isn’t true that federal law gives corporations no voice in politics, since they can set up political-action committees that take donations from their employees and shareholders. What corporations haven’t been able to do is pay for political activity out of their treasuries. And with good reason: Even a small corporation can bring far more money to bear on a candidate than all but the wealthiest individuals.” http://tinyurl.com/yl7rxdp

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By starfish, January 23, 2010 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

Bush appointed Roberts and Alito, and the senate Republicans approved their appointments.

The Democrats (some of them) simply went along for the ride, but you cannot hang responsibility on the Democrats for the fact that Roberts and Alito are on the Supreme Court—that deed was done by Republicans.

All five of the Justices who rendered this awful decision were appointed by Republican presidents.

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By starfish, January 23, 2010 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

Alito and Roberts were going to be approved by the Republican MAJORITY in the senate no matter how any Democratic senator voted.

So, in the interest of not appearing to be negative for the sake of being negative—and since, according to their testimony to the senators, both Roberts and Alito hadn’t said such outrageous things that it would have been unconscionable to vote against them—many Democrats voted for their appointment, just to be courteous.

But I stress that the Republican MAJORITY HAD THE VOTES to approve both Roberts and Alito no matter how the Democrats voted.

If I were a senator, I would still have voted against both men because I was suspicious of both of them (and felt negative toward both), but maybe that’s one reason I am not a senator.

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By screamingpalm, January 23, 2010 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Well said Samson.

I see a lot of blame directed at Bush so I’ll even go one further to remind everyone that Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law. We should give credit where it’s due. You also can’t throw all the blame on Bush for those justices when the Dems gave their approval.

Sheesh I feel sick when I have to defend W, but fair’s fair.

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By Arabian Sinbad, January 23, 2010 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

Another step backward in the reactionary regressive path of official America intended to arrest progressive thought and improvement on the abuses of the so-called American democracy!

The so-called Supreme Court is a body of privileged reactionary individuals at the service of and in the pockets of the big businesses and corporations.

America will always continue its regressive path towards self-destruction as long as it has the following institutions:
1. The CIA;
2. The Military-Industrial Complex;
3. The so-called Supreme-Court consisting of a bunch of reactionaries.

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By Samson, January 23, 2010 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

Remember, Roberts and Alito are both on the court with the full approval of the Senate Democrats.

We see today how the Republicans use the filibuster to block what they don’t like.  The Democrats of course had the same power to use the filibuster, but they regularly chose not to do so.

When someone has the power to block something, but they choose not to do so, then they are approving of it.

Just remember, Roberts and Alito, two of the five votes who just issued this attack on our democracy, are on the court with the full blessings and approval of the Senate Democrats.

Which means, if you really want ‘Change’, the Democrats are not the answer.

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By starfish, January 23, 2010 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

“It would be a simple matter to pass a Constitutional amendment stating that rights enumerated or implied by the Constitution applied only to natural persons, and not to entities created by governments.”

That would be nice if it would work, but it won’t.

In the past the Court’s conservatives (Scalia, etc.) have written that if The People didn’t like the Court’s ruling in some case, it was up to our legislators in Congress to pass laws (or initiate a Constitutional amendment) correcting the fault the Justices had found in that case.

But this Supreme Court has just struck down laws passed by our Congress, which supposedly was elected by The American People to represent the wishes of The American People.

The five conservative Justices have now sent a ‘shot across the bow’ of Congress that—as long as these five maintain their five person majority—they will strike down any law passed by Congress that tries to take away corporations’ First Amendment “rights.”

Therefore, no matter what law Congress passes that takes away any First Amendment “rights” of corporations to drown this country’s elections in corporate money, THIS Supreme Court will strike down those laws.

And the chances of amending the Constitution is ANY way we would like—since the corporations would quietly be threatening any members of Congress with funding of their rivals—are pretty slim to none.

Plus, the chances of the states ratifying the amendment—since the corporate money would already be flooding the airwaves and print media with FALSE claims—are also pretty slim to none.

I would also urge us all to be on guard, since corporate lawyers, of whom there are tens of thousands, are going to flood Internet bulletin boards such as this one with their corporate legal jargon that is replete with phony Constitutional arguments.  They will sound persuasive because they will be so “learned,” but those arguments will be just as dishonest as Scalia’s arguments often are.

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By Paolo, January 23, 2010 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

As a libertarian, I have somewhat different take on the subject of spending limits on elections.

Of course, if you set up a government that is not bound by strict constitutional limitations, it is INEVITABLE that you will get pressure groups trying to spend money to pass their particular programs.

Why do you think pressure groups of all kinds spend money on lobbying? Because there are no longer any practical limits on what Congress can do. It is now a war of all against all.

If we lived in a free society, where Congress’ power were limited to the 17 enumerated powers in Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution, there would be no need for this ruling at all.

The key is to LIMIT GOVERNMENT POWER, rather than LIMIT PRIVATE CORPORATIONS’ right to buy media time. But if governments are empowered to do anything, you will inevitably have groups lining up, ready to buy influence for their particular, selfish interests.

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By starfish, January 23, 2010 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

This Supreme Court majority is determined to help the corporate interests over all other interests.

I believe I am correct in noting that no individual has won a U.S. Supreme Court case against any corporation since this conservative majority took over (after Sandra Day O’Connor retired).

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