Progressive Calendar 07.07.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2009 04:18:05 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   07.07.09

1. Bicking v Rybak  7.07 9:30am
2. NWN4P vigil      7.07 4:45pm
3. LRT boondoggle   7.07 5:30pm
4. FMLN/El Salvador 7.07 6pm
5. RNC court watch  7.07 6pm
6. Dead poets soc/f 7.07 6:30pm
7. Amnesty Intl     7.07 7pm StCloud MN
8. Coldwater moon   7.07 7pm
9. Friese/peak oil  7.07 7pm

10. Single payer    7.08 10:30am
11. Citizen jury    7.08 11am
12. Cuba send-off   7.08 6pm
13. Kip/health care 7.08 7pm RiverFalls WI

14. Reid Wilson   - Court & corporate political spending
15. Thom Hartmann - Fascism coming to a court near you
16. NY Times      - Pure overreach
17. Chris Hedges  - The crooks get cash while the poor get screwed
18. Clancy Sigal  - Brit natl health service: simple, sensible & civilized
19. ed            - Extraordinary  (bumpersticker)

--------1 of 19--------

From: Dave Bicking <dave [at]>
Subject: Bicking v Rybak 7.07 9:30am

Hearing on Mayor Rybak Campaign Violation to be Held on Tuesday, July 7

Evidentiary hearing, Dave Bicking vs. R.T. Rybak for Mayor campaign
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
9:30 am
First floor courtroom, MN Office of Administrative Hearings,
600 N. Robert St., St. Paul
  (just north of I-94)

Dave Bicking invites the public and the press to attend a public
Evidentiary Hearing regarding the Complaint he has filed against the R.T.
Rybak for Mayor campaign.  The Complaint alleges that the Rybak campaign
has violated MN Statute 211B.02 by listing Green Party City Council member
Cam Gordon as a supporter, without prior written permission to do so.

During the Evidentiary Hearing, both parties will present witnesses,
documents, and arguments before a panel of three Administrative Law
Judges, in a manner similar to a courtroom trial.  Within 14 days, those
judges will issue an opinion as to whether the law was violated, and, if
so, the penalty to be imposed.  Possible penalties are a fine of up to
$5000 and/or referral of the case to the County Attorney for criminal
prosecution as a misdemeanor.  Penalties are based on the seriousness of
the offense and on the willfulness of the violation.

The lawyer hired by the Rybak campaign, Greg Merz of Gray, Plant, Mooty,
has indicated that he will call R.T. Rybak to testify in person.  Bicking
will be appearing without a lawyer, and plans to call three witnesses, and
offer documents which he believes show conclusively that the Rybak
campaign violated the law.  He says, "So far, I have seen no evidence from
the Rybak campaign that gives any indication that they had Cam´s prior
written permission to be listed as a supporter.  It appears to me that the
hearing will be mostly about the seriousness of the violation and the
penalty that would be appropriate."

Dave Bicking filed the Complaint on May 12, 2009.  The next day, Cam
Gordon signed a statement giving permission to be listed as a supporter of
the Rybak campaign.  In a public statement issued the following day (and
entered into evidence by both parties), Gordon made clear that he had told
the Rybak campaign that he would not make an endorsing decision until
after the May 9 Green Party endorsing meeting.  In addition, on March 23,
Gordon asked the mayor´s campaign to remove his name from their website,
saying in an email also entered into evidence that he had asked "not to be
publicly listed as a supporter until after the Green citywide endorsing
meeting on May 9."  Even though Gordon´s name was removed from the
website, the campaign continued to distribute the literature with Gordon´s
name on it for another month.

Bicking says, "This is a serious violation of the law.  Mayor Rybak made a
big deal of his claim that he had the historic support of all 13 City
Council members.  Such perceived unanimity, early in the campaign season,
could well have discouraged other potential candidates.  Indeed, I think
that was the intention.  It harmed the Green Party to be seen as
supporting the DFL candidate, even before potential Green candidates could
have come forward for consideration.  That is exactly why Gordon wished to
withhold any potential endorsement until later."  Bicking points out that
this Complaint only deals with the events before the Complaint was filed
on May 12.

Dave Bicking is a candidate for City Council in Ward 9, endorsed by the
Green Party.  He clarifies, "This is an individual action, though I have
been encouraged by others.  It is not done on behalf of or with the
consultation of Cam Gordon or his campaign, or the Green Party itself, or
any other mayoral campaign."

Bicking will make available all documents in this case upon request.

--------2 of 19--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P vigil 7.07 4:45pm

NWN4P vigil every Tuesday.
Corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenues in New Hope. 4:45 to 5:45 PM.
All welcome; bring your own or use our signs.

--------3 of 19--------

From: joan [at]
Subject: LRT boondoggle 7.07 5:30pm  [ed head]

Central Corridor Community Summit II
Tuesday, July 7
5:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Central Corridor Resource Center
1080 University Ave W., St. Paul

Summit II Goals

 Review and affirm work of the Summit I and Community Statement
 Introduce Community Summit Vision and Principles for Sign-on
 Spoken word artists Deborah Torraine, Tou Saiko Lee
 and Tish Jones will present Summit II Principles
 Take action toward creating written agreement(s) among governmental
entities, community members, businesses, and organization to coordinate
efforts and hold everyone accountable.

To be successful, the light rail line must not only improve mobility, but
must also serve as a catalyst to strengthen and enhance existing and
future neighborhoods, workforces and businesses along the line.

Community Summit, March 7 & 8, 2009
The Community Summit welcomes all community members, small business
owners, organizations, and elected officials.
Light Supper will be served at 5:30 p.m.
Community Summit convenes at 6:00 p.m.

For more information, contact:  Carol Swenson, District Councils
Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, 651.249.6877 or
carol [at]

[These things are often con-jobs by developers drooling for millions of
dollars of our public money. Slick. Professional. Love 'em and leave 'em.
The city gets left with the bill and the wreck. Be on guard.  -ed]

--------4 of 19--------

From: Cherrene Horazuk <cherrene67 [at]>
Subject: FMLN/El Salvador 7.07 6pm

Join us for this exciting event on July 7th! Breny Herrera, a leader of
the FMLN from El Salvador will be in Minneapolis to talk about the FMLN's
electoral victory.

El Salvador 2009 Victory Tour
Featuring Breny Massiel Herrera
FMLN Women's Secretariat
July 7, 2009, 6 pm
At the Center for Changing Lives
2400 Park Ave S, Minneapolis
Free & open to the public

Celebrate the triumph of the left in El Salvador!

At this event Ms. Herrera will share the story of the FMLN's victory in
the 2009 presidential elections.  She will speak about the broad coalition
of unions, feminists, and students that came together with the FMLN to
oust 20 years of extreme right-wing rule in El Salvador.  She will provide
a first hand account of how the people mobilized and organized to overcome
a dirty fear campaign backed up by the threats of US Republican
Congressional Representatives and defend their votes against an
institutionalized system of electoral fraud.

After centuries of violent inequality and repression, a dozen years of
armed struggle against a brutal, U.S.-backed military, and two decades of
rule by the right-wing ARENA party, the Salvadoran people elected the
first progressive president in their country's history on March 15th,
2009. President Mauricio Funes of the FMLN took office on June 1, bringing
El Salvador into a growing community of Latin American nations seeking to
chart an independent economic and political course. Join us to learn about
the platform, plans, and strategy of the new FMLN government - and what
WE can do in the U.S. to support the strengthening of REAL democracy in El

Salvadoran food will be for sale at the event!
Event sponsored by CISPES and FMLN Committee of MN

More background info on the speaker, Breny Herrera:

--------5 of 19--------

From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at]>
Subject: RNC court watch 7.07 6pm

RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing
court information, documentation and etc.  RNC Court Watchers Meetings are
every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our

Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the
streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately
used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to
disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The
RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this
intimidation, harassment and abuse!

Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to
find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent

Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M
participate and help organize RNC court solidarity.
For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at]

--------6 of 19--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Dead poets soc/film 7.07 6:30pm

A couple weeks ago we had a salon on "dead poets and their poetry."  So,
to continue this topic, we will show the film, Dead Poet's Society,
starring Robin Williams, Tuesday, July 7th.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

--------7 of 19--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 7.07 7pm StCloud MN

Saint Cloud Area Amnesty International meets on Tuesday, July 7th, from
7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W. St. Germain,
Saint Cloud. For more information contact Jerry Dirks, 320-251-6491 or
jerry.dirks [at]

--------8 of 19--------

From: Susan Martinson <seasnun [at]>
Subject: Coldwater moon 7.07 7pm

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 The Blessing Moon
7 pm at Coldwater Spring

July's Full Moon is considered the Blessing Moon, a period of energy
before the hard work of harvest.  A time to honor the Spirit of Nature.

Directions: From Hwy 55/Hiawatha in south Minneapolis, turn East (toward
the Mississippi) at 54th Street, take an immediate right (South) ½-mile past
the parking meters, through the cul-de-sac and the gates. Follow the curvy
road left & then right down to the pond, next to the great willow tree.

--------9 of 19--------

From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: Friese/peak oil 7.07 7pm

South Side Energy Commons Presents
Jon Friese: Peak Oil & Energy Descent:
the Extinction of Petroleum Man
What Peak Oil is.  What impact it will have on your life.

July 7, Tuesday, 7pm
Center School
2421 Bloomington Av S Mpls

We will attempt to answer:

What is "peak oil"?  Does it mean the global oil supplies are getting low?
Are we running out of oil? Does that mean we are running out of energy?

If 80% of all goods and services including agriculture depend on oil, how
might peaking of oil supplies affect modern life?

Is this a BIG DEAL?, or NO big deal?
Who says so?  What do they know?  Can we trust them?

Assuming the "Peak Oil" people even know what they are talking about,
what do they mean EXTINCTION of Petro Man?  This sounds alarmist.

Can tar sands, coal, nukes, ethanol, renewable energy and high tech
solutions can save the American way of life?  What about splitting atoms
to make hydrogen fuel?  There's nearly an infinite amount of hydrogen.

The experts are working on this.  They will think of something.  Won't

Jon Freise is a software engineer volunteering with the Twin Cities Energy
Transition Working Group seeking a way to a low carbon future. He has
spent the last several years studying peak oil and the impact it will have
on our lives, economy, and way of life.

Questions?  Call or email Lynne Mayo  LLEN [at]   612-722-7356

--------10 of 19--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: Single payer 7.08 10:30am

July 8th:
UHCAN-MN News Conference, wed, 10:30 am, Schneider Drug (on 3800
university ave SE across from KSTP and near I 280, mpls, 55414).

The theme is:
 1. the crucial need for a single- payer health care system
 2. OUR criteria for a "public Medicare option" (one that will emerge into
SP) and
 3. the need for a state single-payer option.

Speakers so far include: Congressman Keith Ellison (his staff), Mike
Cavlan, Joel Clemmer (MN Health Plan bill for SP), Tom Sengupta
(pharmacist, small business owner), and Bernie Hess (UFCW labor union).
Open to endorsing organizations which gets your organization on the press
release etc, and entitles you to send a speaker to it.

--------11 of 19--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Citizen jury 7.08 11am

KFAI - 90.3FM-Minneapolis/106.7FM Saint Paul and STREAMING at

The Jury is IN. The Citizens Jury, that is, on Election Recounts. After
the longest recount in Minnesota history ultimately giving Senator Al
Franken a 312-vote victory margin over Norm Coleman, near universal kudos
for the integrity of the recount process and the judiciary that decided
the challenge nevertheless left open the question of how and who conducts
Minnesota elections, counts its ballots, especially absentee ballots,
triggers recounts and the tedious work that was left to county and state
elections officials, let alone the State Canvassing Board and subsequent
court trials and appeals.

The Citizens Jury - part of the Minneapolis-based Jefferson Center for New
Democratic Processes - is touted as "an opportunity for a microcosm of
Minnesota's voters to examine and evaluate the recent recount in
Minnesota, along with other recounts, and report on their findings. Not
only will the Citizens Jury's views be made available to the general
public, but the final meeting of the project is scheduled so that the
Citizens Jury will be able to report its findings to a national meeting of
Secretaries of State held in Minnesota July 17 and 18, 2009. We should
have most of its findings available for discussion on July 8th, along with
a larger discussion of election reform initiatives passed with broad
support by the DFL-dominated Legislature last session, but vetoed by Gov.
Tim Pawlenty.

TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and guest co-host TTT Capitol Correspondent MARTIN
OWINGS will talk with election advocates and Citizens Jury chairs about
the latter's Recount report and last session's reform initiatives and why
we ended up with nothing.

 JOHN HOTTINGER, former MN State Senate Majority Leader, co-chair,
Citizens Jury
 REP. LAURA BROD, R-New Prague, Lead Republican on MN House election
 MIKE DEAN, Executive Director, Common Cause Minnesota

--------12 of 19--------

From: Minnesota Cuba Committee <mncuba [at]>
Subject: Cuba send-off 7.08 6pm

Pastors for Peace/Venceremos Brigade Send-off Program
6:00 - 9:00 pm, Wednesday, July 8
St. Albert the Great Church
2836 33rd Avenue South

Foods of Cuba, program, entertainment

$10:00 admission; no one turned away for lack of funds
Refreshments (mojitos, beer, wine) will also be available
Entertainment will include the Afro-Caribe drum group and Rene Thompson
dance studio

Keynote speaker, Ellen Bernstein, staff of Pastors for Peace, has traveled
to Cuba 60 times since the 1990s and recently led the Cuba trip of the
Congressional Black Caucus in April 2009. She is also the author of
*Healthcare in Cuba.*

Pastors for Peace and the Venceremos Brigade are holding the send-off
program for the 15 Minnesotans and other volunteers from the U.S. and
Canada who will challenge the immoral and illegal U.S. blockade and travel
restrictions against Cuba. The program will help raise money for the
Minnesota school bus that will be joining the caravan. Volunteers have
spent the last several weeks painting the bus with a colorful mural
conveying its humanitarian mission. Nationally, Pastors for Peace expects
to collect 100 tons of humanitarian aid during a two-week caravan that
will converge in McAllen, Texas before traveling on to Cuba. They intend
to deliver school buses, construction tools and materials, educational
supplies, medicines and medical supplies gathered in communities
throughout the U.S. and Canada. The Venceremos Brigade will also be
bringing humanitarian aid and will join voluntary work brigades while they
are in Cuba. This will be the 20th travel challenge for Pastors for Peace
and the 40th for the Venceremos Brigade.
gregklave [at]
mncuba [at]

--------13 of 19--------

From: Thomas R. Smith <thosmith [at]>
Subject: Kip/health care 7.08 7pm River Falls WI

Twin Cities health care expert Kip Sullivan will address the future of
health care reform in the US at the River Falls Public Library on
Wednesday, July 8 at 7 p.m.

Sullivan, a long-time health care reform advocate and community organizer,
will discuss the history of health insurance in the US, ideas currently
being proposed to reform our health care system, and how citizens can get
more involved in decision-making.

Sullivan has written one of the most comprehensive critiques of the
current system, The Health Care Mess:  How We Got Into It and How We¹ll
Get Out of It.  He is currently a member of the steering committee of
Physicians for a National Health Plan.

This talk will take place in the upper level community room of the River
Falls Public Library, 140 Union Street.  It is sponsored by Healthy
Wisconsin - River Falls.  Admission is free and open to all.  For more
information call 426-5118.

--------14 of 19--------

Court Opens Door to Possibility of Corporate Political Spending
by: Reid Wilson
Tuesday 30 June 2009

Campaign finance watchdogs are concerned that a little-seen order issued
on the Supreme Court's final day could lead to tens of millions of
corporate dollars being spent on television advertising - an ad blitz
candidates would have difficulty countering.

On Monday, instead of ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election
Commission, the court issued a rare order for further arguments on the
case. The suit sought to test whether corporate contributions to a
documentary slamming then-presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton
should have kept it from being distributed during the campaign.

The case will be expanded, with lawyers for both parties asked to file
briefs answering whether the court should overturn two other landmark

One of those suits was Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the 1990
decision in which the Supreme Court upheld Michigan's right to prohibit
corporations from using money to support or oppose candidates.  The other,
McConnell v. FEC, upheld the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign
Reform Act (BCRA) over the objection of petitioner Sen. Mitch McConnell

By seeking new arguments on those cases, campaign finance watchdogs said,
the court is poised to make a substantial ruling that could have
wide-reaching consequences.

"The court, at the very least, is considering reversing more than 100
years of campaign finance precedent prohibiting corporate spending," said
Paul Ryan, associate legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. "It would
be a pretty large step, and remarkable step, for the court to overturn a
century of public policy."

Specifically, the high court is seeking new arguments on Section 203 of
BCRA, which regulates electioneering communications and prohibits
corporations from running so-called issue advertisements.

"The court is seeking to address a fundamental issue in campaign finance
law, and that is whether corporate money can be used for certain types of
political advertising," said Jan Baran, a partner at Wiley Rein LLP who
published a guidebook for corporations on election law. Baran called the
court's move "a significant order."

Overturning that ban would presumably allow corporations to begin spending
money on political campaigns, either in support of or opposition to a
candidate. It would be the first time since Congress banned corporate
political expenditures in 1947.

If the Supreme Court does overturn either case, the effects on political
campaigns will be dramatic, said Marc Elias, a partner at Perkins Coie who
served as general counsel on Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.)  2004
presidential campaign and who is heading legal efforts for Democrat Al
Franken in the disputed Minnesota Senate contest.

"The ban on corporate spending on federal elections is at the center of
our current campaign finance system," he said. "If that were to change it
would radically alter the system that we have."

The court is substantially different today than it was even in 2003, when
McConnell was decided. With the retirement of former Associate Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor, who voted with the five-justice majority to uphold
BCRA, the court may have shifted against reformers.

"It was thought that Justice O'Connor was the deciding vote who tilted the
court in favor of campaign finance reform, and once she left and Chief
Justice [John] Roberts joined the court, there's been some expectation
that the balance of power was going to shift against campaign finance
reformers," said Rob Kelner, who heads Covington & Burling's Election and
Political Law division.

"This new order seems to point in that same direction," added Kelner, who
has argued against BCRA before the court.

The court's order asks both parties to specifically address whether
justices should overrule either or both Austin and McConnell, and election
law experts are torn as they try to read the tea leaves.

"I don't think the court would have ordered this type of argument if there
wasn't a chance, if not a likelihood, of at least five justices thinking
these cases should be overruled," said Baran, who has argued against some
finance measures before the Supreme Court. Still, said Baran:  "They've
been flip-flopping all over the place."

"You could see the glass half-empty or half-full," Elias said. "If there
were five justices ready to [overturn Austin and McConnell], they would
have done so."

But even hearing the case is an unusual step that worries Ryan, the
prominent campaign finance reform backer.

"We have a long line of precedents, Supreme Court decisions upholding
these restrictions," he said. "I'm hopeful that there are still some open
minds on the court."

Those on both sides see Justice Anthony Kennedy, long the swing vote on
controversial cases, as the fulcrum on which the cases will rest. And
that, in the end, could be the tipping point against reformers: Unlike
O'Connor, who joined the majority in the McConnell decision, Kennedy
dissented from majority opinions upholding bans in both earlier cases.

The re-argument is scheduled to take place Wednesday, Sept. 9. That could
have an impact on the confirmation process of Sonia Sotomayor, President
Obama's nominee to fill a vacant seat on the high court.

Sotomayor's confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin July 13, and
Democrats in the Senate could push for a final vote on her nomination
before they leave for August recess in order to have a full complement of
justices. Given her past experience on the New York City Campaign Finance
Board, Sotomayor is likely to have something to say on the case.

--------15 of 19--------

Fascism Coming to a Court Near You
Corporate Personhood and the Roberts' Court
by Thom Hartmann
Published on Monday, July 6, 2009 by

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: "A system of
government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically
through the merging of state and business leadership, together with
belligerent nationalism."

Get ready.

Last year a right-wing group put together a 90-minute hit-job on Hillary
Clinton, and wanted to run it on TV stations in strategic states.  The
Federal Election Commission ruled that the "documentary" was actually a
"campaign ad" and thus fell under the restrictions on campaign spending of
McCain-Feingold, and thus stopped it from airing. (Corporate contributions
to campaigns have been banned repeatedly and in various ways since 1907
when Teddy Roosevelt pushed through the Tillman Act.)

Citizens United, the right-wing group, sued the Supreme Court, with
right-wing hit man and former Reagan solicitor general Ted Olson as their
lead lawyer.

This new case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, presents
the best opportunity for the Roberts Court to use its five vote majority
to totally re-write the face of politics in America, rolling us back to
the pre-1907 era of the Robber Barons.

As Jeffrey Toobin wrote in The New Yorker ("No More Mr. Nice Guy"): "In
every major case since he became the nation's seventeenth Chief Justice,
Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over
the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the
corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia,
who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on
the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the
values, of the contemporary Republican Party."

And the only way the modern Republican Party can recover their power over
the next decade is to immediately clear away all impediments to
unrestrained corporate participation in electoral politics.  If a
corporation likes a politician, they can make sure he or she is elected
every time; if they become upset with a politician, they can carpet-bomb
her district with a few million dollars worth of ads and politically
destroy her.

And it looks like that's exactly what the Roberts Court is planning.  In
the Citizens United case, they asked for it to be re-argued in September
of this year, going all the way back to the 1980s and re-examining the
rationales for Congress to have any power to regulate corporate "free

As Robert Barnes wrote in The Washington Post on June 30, 2009, "Citizens
United's attorney, former solicitor general Theodore B. Olson, had told
the court that it should use the case to overturn the corporate spending
ban the court recognized in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, as
well as its decision in 2003 to uphold McCain-Feingold as constitutional."

The setup for this came in June of 2007, in the case of the Federal
Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right To Life, in which the Roberts Court
ruled that the FEC couldn't prevent WRTL from running ads just because
they were a corporation.

"A Moroccan cartoonist," Justice Scalia opened his opinion with his usual
dramatic flair,  "once defended his criticism of the Moroccan monarch (lse
majest being a serious crime in Morocco) as follows: 'I'm not a
revolutionary, I'm just defending freedom of speech. I never said we had
to change the king-no, no, no, no! But I said that some things the king is
doing, I do not like. Is that a crime?'"

"Well," Scalia wrote, "in the United States (making due allowance for the
fact that we have elected representatives instead of a king) it is a
crime, at least if the speaker is a union or a corporation (including
not-for-profit public-interest corporations)... That is the import of 203
of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA)."

The idea of Congress passing laws that limited corporate "free speech" was
clearly horrifying to Scalia.  He went after the 1990 Austin v. Michigan
Chamber of Commerce case, in which the MCC was limited in their "free
speech" in a political campaign because they were a corporation.

"This (Austin) was the only pre-McConnell case in which this Court had
ever permitted the Government to restrict political speech based on the
corporate identity of the speaker," he complained.  "Austin upheld state
restrictions on corporate independent expenditures," and, God forbid, "The
statute had been modeled after the federal statute that BCRA 203

The Austin case, Scalia concluded his opinion with four others nodding,
"was a significant departure from ancient First Amendment principles. In
my view, it was wrongly decided."

Scalia also quoted at length from opinions in the Grosjean v. American
Press Co case, "holding that corporations are guaranteed the 'freedom of
speech and of the press, safeguarded by the due process of law clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment,'" and from the 1986 Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v.
Public Util. Comm'n of Cal. case: "The identity of the speaker is not
decisive in determining whether speech is protected"; "[c]orporations and
other associations, like individuals, contribute to the 'discussion,
debate, and the dissemination of information and ideas' that the First
Amendment seeks to foster."

The bottom line, for Scalia, was that, "The principle that such advocacy
is 'at the heart of the First Amendment's protection' and is
'indispensable to decision making in a democracy' is 'no less true because
the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual."

Continuing to quote from a plurality opinion in Pacific Gas, Scalia
"rejected the arguments that corporate participation 'would exert an undue
influence on the outcome of a referendum vote'; that corporations would
'drown out other points of view' and 'destroy the confidence of the people
in the democratic process..."

He even quoted an opinion in the Grossjean case, writing that
"corporations are guaranteed the 'freedom of speech and of the
press...safeguarded by the due process of law clause of the Fourteenth

The Fourteenth Amendment, which says that no "person" shall be denied
"equal protection of the laws," was promulgated after the Civil War to
free the slaves.  But corporations have long asserted that because it says
"person" rather than "natural person" it included giving, in 1868 when the
Amendment was ratified into law, full Constitutional rights under the Bill
of Rights to corporations.  (Corporations are, at law, known as
"artificial persons" and humans are "natural persons" - both have to have
some sort of "personhood" in order to pay taxes, sue and be sued, etc.)

As Scalia wrote in his opinion in FEC v. Wisconsin Right To Life: "...FECA
was directed to expenditures not just by 'individuals,' but by 'persons,'
with 'persons' specifically defined to include 'corporation[s].'"

Chief Justice Roberts weighed in, too, in the main decision.  It's a
fascinating decision to read - and search for occurrences of the word
"corporation" - and here's one of Roberts' more convoluted observations in
defense of corporate free speech rights:

Accepting the notion that a ban on campaign speech could also embrace
issue advocacy would call into question our holding in Bellotti that the
corporate identity of a speaker does not strip corporations of all free
speech rights. It would be a constitutional 'bait and switch' to conclude
that corporate campaign speech may be banned in part because corporate
issue advocacy is not, and then assert that corporate issue advocacy may
be banned as well, pursuant to the same asserted compelling interest,
through a broad conception of what constitutes the functional equivalent
of campaign speech, or by relying on the inability to distinguish campaign
speech from issue advocacy.

Bottom line - corporate free speech rights are Real Rights that Must Be

Justice Souter wrote a rather frightening dissent (this was a 5-4
decision, with the usual right-wing suspects on the "5" side): "Finally,
it goes without saying that nothing has changed about the facts. In
Justice Frankfurter's words, they demonstrate a threat to 'the integrity
of our electoral process, which for a century now Congress has repeatedly
found to be imperiled by corporate, and later union, money: witness the
Tillman Act, Taft-Hartley, FECA, and BCRA.

"McConnell was our latest decision vindicating clear and reasonable
boundaries that Congress has drawn to limit 'the corrosive and distorting
effects of immense aggregations of wealth,' and the decision could claim
the justification of ongoing fact as well as decisional history in
recognizing Congress's authority to protect the integrity of elections
from the distortion of corporate and union funds.

"After today, the ban on contributions by corporations and unions and the
limitation on their corrosive spending when they enter the political arena
are open to easy circumvention, and the possibilities for regulating
corporate and union campaign money are unclear.

"The ban on contributions will mean nothing much, now that companies and
unions can save candidates the expense of advertising directly, simply by
running 'issue ads' without express advocacy, or by funneling the money
through an independent corporation like Wisconsin Right To Life."

Sounding almost depressed, Souter closed his dissent with these words: "I
cannot tell what the future will force upon us, but I respectfully dissent
from this judgment today."

The attempt of corporations (and their lawyers, like Roberts was before
ascending to a federal court) to usurp American democracy is nothing new,
as David Souter well knew. Fascism has always been a threat to democracy.

In early 1944 the New York Times asked Vice President Wallace to, as
Wallace noted, "write a piece answering the following questions: What is a
fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?"

Vice President Wallace's answers to those questions were published in The
New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis
powers of Germany and Japan:

"The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those
who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its
finger on those... With a fascist the problem is never how best to present
the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public
into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."

"American fascism will not be really dangerous," he added in the next
paragraph, "until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists,
the deliberate poisoners of public information..."

Noting that, "Fascism is a worldwide disease," Wallace further suggested
that fascism's "greatest threat to the United States will come after the
war" and will manifest "within the United States itself."

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism the Vice President of
the United States saw rising in America, he added:

"They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty
guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the
spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward
which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that,
using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously,
they may keep the common man in eternal subjection."

Finally, Wallace said, "The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many
people. ... Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must...develop the
ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the
budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal
to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate
oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies
and cartels."

As Wallace's President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said when he accepted his
party's renomination in 1936 in Philadelphia:

"...Out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new
dynasties.... It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes
of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for
control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped
it in the robes of legal sanction.... And as a result the average man once
more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man...."

Speaking indirectly of the fascists that Wallace would directly name
almost a decade later, Roosevelt brought the issue to its core:

"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the
institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to
take away their power."

But, he thundered in that speech:

"Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this
kind of power!"

In just a few months, we may again stand at the same crossroad Roosevelt
and Wallace confronted during the Great Depression and World War II.
Fascism is rising in America, this time calling itself "compassionate
conservatism," and "the free market" in a "flat" world.  The point of its
spear is "corporate personhood" and "corporate free speech rights."

The Roberts' Court's behavior - if this prediction of their goal for this
fall is accurate (and it's hard to draw any other conclusion) - now eerily
parallels the day in 1936 when Roosevelt said: "In vain they seek to hide
behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what
the flag and the Constitution stand for."

Thom Hartmann (thom at is a Project Censored
Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally
syndicated daily progressive talk program The Thom Hartmann Show. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient
Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the
Theft of Human Rights," "We The People: A Call To Take Back America,"
"What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the
Middle Class and What We Can Do About It," and "Cracking The Code: The Art
and Science of Political Persuasion." His newest book is Threshold: The
Crisis of Western Culture.

--------16 of 19--------

Pure Overreach
Will Supreme Court allow unlimited corporate contributions to election
Published: July 4, 2009

With a little-noticed order last week, we fear the Supreme Court has set
the stage for dismantling the longstanding ban on corporate spending in
elections for president and Congress. If those restrictions are
overturned, it would be a disaster for democracy.

The justices considered a case this term about an election-year
documentary made by opponents of Hillary Clinton. The issue was whether
the film could air in the 60 days before an election, a period during
which the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law imposes particularly strict
limits on election-related communication.

The case would have been easy to resolve on narrow grounds. Instead, the
court declared that on Sept. 9 it would hear arguments on whether Austin
v.  Michigan Chamber of Commerce ­ an important campaign finance
precedentf rom 1990 ­ and parts of a more recent case should be

Austin upheld a law prohibiting corporations from spending their money to
elect particular candidates. The Supreme Court rightly pointed out that
corporations, as opposed to individuals, benefit from special laws,
including tax advantages, that assist them in accumulating large amounts
of money. The ban on their spending is needed to prevent the political
process from being overwhelmed and corrupted. The Supreme Court has upheld
the restriction repeatedly.

The court's new order is also deeply troubling procedurally. The question
of overruling Austin was so much not a part of the Hillary Clinton film
case that the parties now have to brief it ­ submit fully researched
arguments to the court ­ for the first time. This is pure judicial

The feverish pace is also disturbing. The court has ordered that the
arguments take place even before the new term starts. The parties, and
interested citizens who want to submit friend-of-the-court briefs, will
have only a short time to parse enormously complicated issues.

The most troubling part of the court's action is the brave new world of
politics it could usher in. Auto companies that receive
multibillion-dollar bailouts could spend vast sums to re-elect the same
officials who hand them the money. If Exxon Mobil or Wal-Mart wants
something from a member of Congress, it could threaten to spend as much as
it takes to defeat him or her in the next election.

It is a nightmare vision, but based on how the justices have come down in
past cases, there may well be five votes for it to prevail.

--------17 of 19--------

The Crooks Get Cash While the Poor Get Screwed
by Chris Hedges
Monday, July 6, 2009
Common Dreams

Tearyan Brown became a father when he was 16. He did what a lot of
inner-city kids desperate to make money do. He sold drugs. He was arrested
and sent to jail three years later for dealing marijuana and PCP on the
streets of Trenton, N.J., mostly to white kids driving in from the
suburbs. It was a job which saw him robbed at gunpoint and stabbed in the
chest. But it made him about $1,400 a week.

Brown, when he got out after three and a half years, was done with street
life. He got a job as a security guard and then as a fork lift operator.
He eventually made about $30,000 a year. He shepherded his son through
high school, then college and a master's degree. His boy, now 24, is a
high school teacher in Texas. Brown would not leave the streets of Trenton
but his son would. It made him proud. It gave him hope.

And then one morning in 2005 when he was visiting his mother's house the
cops showed up. He saw the cruiser and the officers standing on his
mother's porch. He hurried down the block toward the home to see what was
wrong. What was wrong was him. On the basis of a police photograph, he had
been identified by an 82-year-old woman as the man who had robbed her of
$9 at gunpoint a few hours earlier. The only other witness to the crime
insisted the elderly victim was confused. The witness told the police
Brown was innocent. Brown's friends said Brown was with them when the
robbery took place.

"Why would I rob a woman for $9" he asks me. "I had been paid the day
before. I had not committed a crime in 20 years. It didn't make any

He was again sent to jail. But this time he was charged with armed
robbery. If convicted, he would be locked away for many years. His grown
son and his three young boys would live, as he had, without the presence
of a father. The little ones-11-year-old twins and a 10-year-old-would be
adults when he got out. When he met with his state-appointed attorney, the
lawyer, like most state-appointed attorneys, pushed for accepting a plea
bargain, one that would see him behind bars for at least the next decade.
Brown pulled the pictures of his children out of his wallet, laid the
pictures carefully on the table in front of the lawyer, looked at the
faces of his children and broke down in tears. He shook and sobbed. It was
a hard thing to do for a man who stands nearly 6 feet tall and weights 210
pounds and has coped with a lot in his life.

"I didn't do nothing,' " he choked out to the lawyer.

He refused the plea bargain offer. He sat in jail for the next two years
before getting a trial. It was a time of deep despair. Jail had changed
since he had last been incarcerated. The facilities were overcrowded, with
inmates sleeping in corridors and on the floor. The gangs taunted those
who, like Brown, were not affiliated with a gang. Gang members knocked
trays of food to the floor. They pissed on mattresses. They stole canteen
items and commissary orders. And there was nothing the victims could do
about it.

"See this," he says to me in a dimly lit coffee shop in downtown Trenton
as he rolls up the right sleeve of his T-shirt. "It's the grim reaper. I
got it in jail. I was so scared. I was scared I wouldn't get out this
time. I was scared I would not see my kids grow up. They make their own
tattoo guns in jail with a toothbrush, a staple and the motor of a
Walkman. It cost me $15, well, not really dollars. I had to give him about
10 soups and a package of cigarettes. On the street this would be three or
four hundred dollars."

Under the tattoo of the scythe-wielding, hooded figure are the words
"Death Awaits."

He had a trial after two years in jail and was found not guilty. The
sheriff's deputies in the courtroom said as he was walking out that they
"had never seen anything like this." He reaches into his baggy jeans and
pulls out his thin brown wallet. He opens it to show me a folded piece of
paper. The paper says, "Verdict: Defendant found not guilty on all
charges." It is dated Jan. 31, 2008.

But innocence and guilt are funny things in America. If you are rich and
guilty, if you have defrauded banks and customers and investment firms of
billions of dollars, as AIG or Citibank has, if you wear fancy suits and
have degrees from elite universities that cost more per year than Brown
used to make, you get taxpayer money. You get lots of it. You maintain the
lavish lifestyle of jets and spas and million-dollar bonuses. You live a
life of unchecked greed and have too much in a world where most have too
little. If you are moral scum in America we take care of you. But if you
are poor, if you are, say, Tearyan Brown and African-American and 39 years
old with four kids and no job and you live in the inner city, you are in
trouble. No one comes to help you. You don't get a second chance. This is
what being poor means.

Brown found that life had changed when he got out. He had lost his job as
a fork lift operator. And there were no new jobs to be found. He had
faithfully paid child support until his arrest but, with no income, he
could not pay from jail and now he was being hauled into court by the
state every few weeks for being in arrears for $13,000. The mother of his
three youngest boys goes to court with him. She explains that he paid
regularly while he had work. She explains that when she works on the
weekends Brown takes the kids. She asks that he be forgiven until he can
get a job and begin paying again. But there are no jobs.

"I would not be in arrears in child support if I had not been incarcerated
for something I didn't do," he says. "I will never get above ground owing
$13,000. How can I pay $120 a week when I don't have a job?"

Brown lives on $200 a month in food stamps and $40 in cash. Welfare will
pay his apartment for another four months. He is barely making it. I ask
him what he will do when he loses the rent subsidy.

"I'll be homeless," he says.

"My son says come down to Texas," he adds. "Start a new life with me. But
what about my three little boys? I can't leave them. I can't leave them in
Trenton. They need a father."

Brown works out every day. He does calisthenics. He is a vegetarian. He
volunteers at a food pantry. He attends the Jerusalem Baptist Church with
his little boys. "They are church kids," he tells me proudly. "They are
pretty much raised by the church."

He is trying to keep himself together. But he lives in a world that is
falling apart. The gangs on the streets of Trenton carry Glock
9-millimeter pistols and AK-47 assault rifles. When the Trenton police
stop a car or raid a house filled with suspected gang members they
approach with loaded M-16s. A local newspaper, The Trentonian, reports the
daily chronicle of crime, decay and neglect. The lead story in the day's
paper, which Brown has with him, is about a young man named James Deonte
James, whose street name is "Lurch." James was charged in the death of a
13-year-old girl during a gang shooting. He is reputed to be a "five star
general in the Sex Money Murder set of the Bloods street gang." In another
story an ex-con and reputed mobster, Michael "Mickey Rome" Dimattia, was
arrested in his car after a woman behind the wheel was seen driving
erratically. "Mickey Rome," dressed in a black bathrobe with a red scarf
around his neck, was found to be wearing a bulletproof vest, with three
guns stuck in his waistband, and had a crack pipe, crack cocaine and
prescription pills in his pockets. He had been convicted in 1990 of
killing a 17-year-old boy with a shotgun blast to the head. He served less
than three years for the murder. A feature story on Page 4 of the paper is
about a man with AIDS who raped his girlfriend's son 55 times and infected
the boy with the virus. The boy was 9 when the rapes took place.

"There are thousands more guns out there than when I was on the street,"
Brown says. "It is easier to buy a gun than get liquor from a liquor

He says he rarely goes out at night, even to the corner store. It is too

The desperation is palpable. People don't know where to turn. Benefits are
running out. More and more people are out of work.

"You see things getting worse and worse," he says. "You see people who
wonder how they are going to eat and take care of themselves and their
kids. You see people starting to do anything to get food, to hustle or
rob, to go back to doing things they do not want to do. Good people start
doin' bad things. People are getting eviler."

He pauses.

"All things are better with God," he says softly, looking down at the

He is reading a book about the Bible. It is about Jesus and God. It is
about learning to trust in God's help. In America that is about all the
poor have left. And when God fails them, they are on their own.

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Hedges graduated
from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign
correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books,
including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should
Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America.  His most recent book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy
and the Triumph of Spectacle, will be out in July, but is available for

--------18 of 19--------

Britain's National Health Service: Simple, Sensible and Civilized
by Clancy Sigal
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Los Angeles Times
Common Dreams
A former NHS patient has some advice for Americans skeptical of
single-payer, government-run healthcare: You'll get over it.

For the first couple of years I lived in Britain, I was an illegal
immigrant from the United States, visaless with an expired passport and
looking over my shoulder all the time. Even so, from the very first day I
arrived at Victoria Station in London, suffering from bronchitis, I was
accepted in the NHS - the national health scheme, we called it - no
questions asked and no ID required.

After I'd become a legal resident, I asked my doctor why he had taken me,
almost literally off the boat, with so little fuss. Weren't foreigners a
drain on his time and the National Health Service? He shrugged. "If you
come here with a contagious disease, we don't want you infecting the rest
of us. So of course we give you medical care. Purely selfish on our part."

For three decades I used and, being of a hypochondriacal nature, exploited
the British medical system without paying a farthing except for the taxes
taken out of my wages as a working journalist. And that single-payer,
socialistic, government-run, bureaucratized, heavily used, nationalized
health system served me - and 50 million others - very well. In need, I
saw many doctors, with no money ever changing hands. There was nothing to
sign, hardly any papers to shuffle. My primary-care physician ran his
"surgery," his office, with the help of only one receptionist whose job it
was to arrange appointments.

My doctor's waiting room in his storefront office was by American
standards shockingly casual, even a trifle seedy. In what was then a rigid
class society, the waiting room was also a lesson in democracy where
duchesses and dustmen, old and young, rich and poor, waited their turn. It
wasn't perfect. There was the occasional misdiagnosis, crowded hospital
ward, sleepy student nurse. But it worked.

It was all free, including specialists, and I came to believe that
healthcare is a right, not an entitlement I had paid for. This "free" part
sometimes puzzled my visiting American friends. When they got ill in
London, I'd send them to my doctor, who would smile bemusedly when offered
money. Did they appreciate this? Hardly. "Your doctors," they'd say,
"can't be much good, can they?"

Is this too rosy a picture of single-payer, government-run healthcare?
Maybe. Over the years, an underfunded, over-bureaucratized, increasingly
privatized NHS has in some areas turned into a shadow of its former
vibrant self.

Perhaps I was lucky to arrive so soon after World War II, when a
traumatized, bomb-weary public was in no mood to revisit a prewar history
of medical deprivation and the humiliation of means testing. Slowly, over
time, by argument and debate, a consensus had been achieved, by
Conservatives and Labor alike, that, in the words of Edward VIII as Prince
of Wales when he first saw the grinding poverty of the unemployed,
"something must be done."

Recently, the American Medical Assn. responded with skepticism to
President Obama's plea for healthcare reform. In Britain, too, the massed
ranks of the medical profession at first fought bitterly against a
"socialized" service covering all from cradle to the grave. But Labor's
health minister, a firebrand from the mining valleys, Aneurin Bevan,
brought them into line with a mixture of enticements and threats.

The NHS was, and is, a classically English compromise, in which individual
doctors are independent contractors paid by the government according to
the number of their patients. Doctors are free to remove patients from
their list, and patients are free to go elsewhere. Once ideology was laid
aside and the system got working, it was actually quite simple.

Once launched, in an astonishingly short time, a matter of a year or so,
the NHS was accepted by even its worst enemies - the doctors and the
Conservative Party - as indispensable and a civilized way of dealing with
life, illness and death.

Does that sound so awful?

 2009 Los Angeles Times
Clancy Sigal is a writer and former BBC broadcaster who lives in Los

--------19 of 19--------

                     Extraordinary rendition the rich


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