|Progressive Calendar 01.25.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 24 Jan 2010 21:17:18 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.25.10 1. Govs/trans/env 1.25 5:30pm 2. Peace walk 1.25 6pm RiverFalls WI 3. 3CTC env forum 1.25 7pm 4. Amnesty Intl 1.25 7pm 5. Health/Ellison 1.26 12noon 6. Rwanda 1.26 5pm 7. Green retrofit 1.26 5pm 8. Davidov/Masters 1.26 6:30pm 9. Reappoint Dolan? 1.26 7pm 10. Ron Jacobs - Don't look back just walk away from the Democrats 11. Alex Cockburn - The great leap sideways 12. Sen Feingold - The Supremes have opened the floodgates 13. Ralph Nader - Shredding democracy/ Supremes bow to King Corp 14. Chris Ketcham - The trouble with corporate personhood 15. ed - Prayer response (haiku) --------1 of 15-------- From: Russ Adams - Alliance for Metropolitan Stability <russ [at] metrostability.org> Subject: Govs/trans/env 1.25 5:30pm Alliance for Metropolitan Stability Governor Candidate Forum on Transportation, Land Use and Environment It's 2010, and in less than a year Minnesota will elect a new governor! This January, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability and partner organizations will host the first-ever candidate forum on transportation, land use and the environment. We want to make sure that whoever is elected as Minnesota's new governor knows how important these issues are for the health and well being of our state. Governor Candidate Forum on Transportation, Land Use and the Environment Monday, January 25 Hill Ballroom, Kagin Commons, Macalester College, St. Paul 5:30 pm: Registration and music begin. People who arrive before 6:15 will be able to vote on which questions are posed to candidates. 6:30 - 8:30 pm: Candidate forum Eight candidates are confirmed so far (four from each of the major parties) and there are more to come. With your help, we can demonstrate to these candidates that Minnesotans who will vote in the upcoming election care about transportation, land use and environmental issues. Please join us! Hosted by: Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, 1000 Friends of Minnesota, Fresh Energy, ISAIAH, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, Minnesota Public Transit Association, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and the Sierra Club. --------2 of 15-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 1.25 6pm RiverFalls WI River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from "Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact: d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------3 of 15-------- From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com> Subject: 3CTC env forum 1.25 7pm THE NEXT 3CTC ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM A FREE SCREENING OF: WORLD IN THE BALANCE- THE POPULATION PARADOX A GLOBAL SNAPSHOT OF TODAY'S HUMAN FAMILY, Produced by Nova MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 7:00 PM MAYDAY BOOKS 301 CEDAR AVENUE SOUTH WEST BANK, MINNEAPOLIS The world's population is increasing at exponential rates and is now at over 6.5 billion with the expectation that it will increase to 9 billion by 2050. Every species has a carrying capacity in relation to its habitat. Because of the tremendous adaptive powers of human beings, our species has spread out over the entire planet to even the remotest regions, including the poles. Thus, our habitat is now worldwide. Most ecologists and conservation biologists maintain that Homo sapiens has already exceeded its carrying capacity not only in terms of agricultural land use, but the availability of freshwater, clean air and other vital ecosystem services that we depend upon for survival. It is not merely a matter of producing enough food to feed all those hungry mouths. All of the basic resources upon which we depend are rapidly being depleted, even minerals and rare-earth elements. We have greatly altered the nutrient-cycles and hydrology as well as accelerated geological processes, and the pollution of capitalist industry is ubiquitous, having invaded all four of Earth's matrixes, including the biosphere. Human beings are the most powerful force for change-both negative and positive-on the planet. That is why it is essential that we get our numbers under control. The controversy is over how best to achieve that since population becomes an issue that involves race and gender as well as rich and poor and consequently becomes a matter of equity and social and economic justice. Join us to view the film and participate in what promises to be a lively discussion. The event is sponsored by the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities (3CTC). It is free and open to the public. The Clean-Energy Vigil to Cool Down the Planet takes place on the plaza outside the bookstore at 5:00 PM (Weather permitting), followed by the 3CTC Business Meeting at 6:00 PM. All are welcome. For more information, EMAIL: christinefrank [at] visi.com or PHONE: 612-879-8937. --------4 of 15-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 1.25 7pm Augustana Homes Seniors Group meets on Monday, January 25th, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the party room of the 1020 Building, 1020 E 17th Street, Minneapolis. For more information contact Ardes Johnson at 612/378-1166 or johns779 [at] tc.umn.edu. --------5 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Health/Ellison 1.26 12noon Here's a chance for SINGLE-PAYER, UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE activists--or at least a REAL PUBLIC OPTION (or other issues such as HOME FORECLOSURES and JOBS?) A CHANCE FOR ACTIVISTS TO BE VISIBLE! MOVE-ON.org has organized this in Minnepaolis: Emergency Rally for Health Care:Tues.JAN. 26 @ NOON @ Rep.Keith Elison's Minneapolis office Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) Minneapolis Office, 2100 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411 --------6 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Rwanda 1.26 5pm Dear St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow! All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 1/26 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 1/27, 10am "International Tribunals, History Told by the Victors and the Geo-politics of Africa (w/Peter Erlinder), Part 1" William Mitchell College of Law professor Peter Erlinder is the lead counsel in the Military 1 Trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). In a talk in Minneapolis, Erlinder outlines the history of international tribunals, projects the course of the International Criminal Court, analyzes the workings of the UN and discusses the context of both the 90 days that became known as the Rwandan Genocide AND the geopolitics of Central Africa. Set your dvrs to record this talk. --------7 of 15-------- From: Carol Carey <ccarey [at] historicsaintpaul.org> Subject: Green retrofit 1.26 5pm Historic Saint Paul Presents: Green Retrofitting Today's Homes for Tomorrow Tuesday, January 26, 2010 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. SPNN Open House 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Panel Discussion Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) Studios 375 Jackson Street, Suite 250 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101 Historic Saint Paul convenes a panel discussion of construction, environmental, and preservation professionals to explore the opportunities and challenges of implementing green retrofitting strategies in Saint Paul's traditional building stock. The event will be cablecast in partnership with SPNN over Saint Paul's public access television. Panelists: Erin Hanafin Berg Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and the National Trust for Historic Preservation Jimmie Sparks Neighborhood Energy Connection Philip Waugh Collaborative Design Group Billy Weber Center for Sustainable Building Research Mike Williams Minnesota GreenStar Enter the building at the 375 Jackson Street entrance. Parking is available on-street or in the small surface lot at 6th and Jackson Streets. --------8 of 15-------- From: Carol Masters <cmasters [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Davidov/Masters 1.26 6:30pm You Can't Do That! Marv Davidov, Nonviolent Revolutionary: Marv and I are scheduled to read/tell stories of the peace movement Tuesday Jan 26, 6:30 pm at St Martins Table UPSTAIRS, 2001 Riverside. Free and open. --------9 of 15-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Reappoint Dolan? 1.26 7pm New Broom presents A forum on Mpls Police Chief Dolan: should he be reappointed? Tuesday January 26 7pm Walker Church basement 3104 16th Av S Mpls Mpls Police Chief Dolan was originally appointed in 2006. His 3 year term is up this January 2010. If he is reappointed, he would be untouchable for another three years, because the city would say it cannot afford to buy out his contract. So now is the time to consider options. If Dolan is not reappointed, he would be interim chief until a search for a new one is completed. There is no need to act in haste, though Rybak, who favors Dolan, might like to have us do so. During Dolan's three years, the city of Mpls has had to pay out $15 million in citizen claims against misbehaving police. Most of whom were never disciplined, some awarded medals. Dolan's standard reply when anyone but the mayor tells or asks him something is "You can't tell me what to do." PANEL: MICHELLE GROSS: Founder and president of Communities United Against Police Brutality. She has been a police accountability activist for more than 20 years and was chair of the outcomes subcommittee of the CRA redesign working group for the City of Minneapolis in 2001-2002. She is active on political prisoner issues, especially around the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. She is a member of the infrastructure committee for the National Lawyers Guild, Twin Cities chapter and is a volunteer with the RNC 8 Defense Committee. DARRYL ROBINSON: Vice-president of Communities United Against Police Brutality. He is a survivor of police brutality and was lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit by CUAPB that forced the Minneapolis Police Department to adopt a number of policy and practice changes. More recently, while engaged in copwatch at a homeless shelter in downtown Minneapolis, Darryl was accosted and beaten by Minneapolis police in July 2008 in an attempt to seize his camera and instill fear in other video documentarians prior to the RNC. Despite serious injuries in that attack, Darryl was involved extensively in copwatch and protest at the RNC and he continues to document police misconduct at homeless shelters and other locations. DAVE BICKING: Member of the Mpls Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA), which recently released an 18 page report on the performance of Chief Tim Dolan in relation to his impact on Civilian Review. The report rates Dolan as "far more negative than positive", especially in the area of imposing discipline on officers. The NEW BROOM Coalition is a group of engaged citizens concerned with the quality of local government. Our goal is to clarify the meaning of actions taken by elected officials as they affect us as citizens, analyze the effects and ensure that everyone is aware of what is happening to us in our name. We will name names and call out the truth, sweeping away the debris left by the usual smoke and mirrors. We will also identify and challenge those who have failed us in the performance of their public trust, holding them accountable for their failures. -from the website at newbroomcoalition.net contact: Dave Bicking 612-276-1213 dave [at] colorstudy.com --david shove 651-636-5672 shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu --------10 of 15-------- Don't Look Back Just Walk Away From the Democrats By RON JACOBS CounterPunch January 22 - 24, 2010 The left needs to organize the unorganized. The working people, the unemployed, the young, and the restless. The right wing has their core group of supporters who organize around fear of the other. The liberals have those who believe in the myth of American equality because they have no class analysis. The Left needs to organize the rest and they need to do so without the Democratic Party. It should be quite clear to almost every left-leaning American by now that the Democrats are nothing more than another wing of the party that works for Wall Street and the Pentagon. To continue to work for and elect their candidates is self-defeating. As the first year of the Obama presidency has clearly shown, not only do the Democrats support the right wing agenda, that support makes it easier for the right wing to put their candidates into power. Why? Because after promising progressive reforms and then failing to deliver, voters tend to either not vote or vote for the right wing candidates out of anger and frustration. This occurs because the current system provides no alternative. There is no progressive third party or grassroots movement to support such a party. There is not even a grassroots movement that vocalizes the desires of millions for a fair and just society where people's needs come before Wall Street's profits and the Pentagon's wars that help protect and expand those profits. So, the Democrats step in as they have always done and pretend that they are the party that will address these desires. There was a time when such an argument was plausible. From FDR to LBJ, the Democrats were the party that passed many reforms making life better for America's working people. They even passed bills outlawing racial segregation. Of course, this occurred because of immense pressure from the Left--pressure a hundred times greater than the pressure from America's right that the Democrats claim has caused them to compromise on virtually every progressive piece of legislation during the current period. Yes, there was a time when that claim could have been made. Today's Democratic Party however, is not that party. It is the party of Wall Street as much as its opponents are. It is the party of war as much as the GOP is the party of war. Sure, there are a few congresspeople under the Democratic mantle that oppose the greed and bloodlust of Wall Street and the Pentagon, but they are such a small minority they are irrelevant. Indeed, if they truly wanted to be effective, they would leave the Democrats as soon as possible. Nowadays, when leftists and progressives align themselves with the Democratic Party and its positions, they also align themselves with the reactionaries that run the Republican Party. When leftists and progressives align themselves with the Democrats, they align themselves with those who have sent billions of US dollars into the coffers of the war industry and hundreds of thousands of US men and women into combat for the princes of oil and finance. When leftists and progressives align themselves with the Democrats, they tell the people of the world that they support the transfer of America's wealth to the bankers and insurance industry through bailouts and so-called health care reform. When leftists and progressives align themselves with the Democrats, they tell the American people that they are willing to give lip service to the concerns of America's workers and poor, but when it comes right down to it, those workers and poor will have to figure out on their own how they will get jobs that no longer exist. Jobs that are not being created because the Democrats and the GOP bailed out the banks instead. The Democratic Party has never been the party of the people. It served the slaveowners of the US South until the Civil War ended that foul practice. Then it served the slaveowners' successors: the cotton and sorghum producers that kept their workers in serflike conditions and never saw a lynching they didn't like. In terms of America's growing industrialization, the Democrats were right there with the GOP pushing through legislation favorable to capital and (at best) ignoring the conditions of American labor. As mentioned before, the Democrats' best years in terms of serving the working and poor people of the United States came during the years between 1936 and 1968, when they passed legislation like Social Security and Medicare and pushed through laws outlawing racial apartheid in the United States. Also, as noted before, this occurred only because of extreme pressure from mass movements of progressive and leftist opponents of the anti-worker and racist policies of the government in Washington. Even then, however, the role the party played was designed more to diminish the strength of those movements. Nonetheless, the reforms occurred because of the movements, not in spite of them. In terms of economics, today's Democrats resemble the Democrats of old more than they do the Democrats of the New Deal and the Great Society. They are in the pay of today's equivalent of the slaveowners--the global capitalists that roam the world searching for labor pools easy to exploit because of their desperation and national governments willing to brutalize workers into submission just like the slavedrivers and field bosses of old. Not only are they in their pay, but they push through legislation like NAFTA designed to make that search for exploitable labor and new markets easier and more profitable than it already is. On the domestic front, it was the Democrats under Bill Clinton that dismantled the system of public assistance for women with children and it is under Barack Obama that a new commission designed to bypass the Congress on the question of possibly dismantling Social Security was recently set up. As if one needed more convincing, after the recent defeat of the Democratic candidate in the Massachusetts special election, an op-ed appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The piece was written by a mainstream Democratic party member who blamed the left wing of the party for the defeat. It was time, said the writer, to move back to the right in order to win the next round of elections. In other words, try and steal the traditional GOP voters away from the GOP instead of going after the traditionally unorganized mentioned at the beginning of this piece. In case I haven't made it clear already, the writer in the Journal is what the Democrats really are. The party is not interested in genuinely addressing the concerns of the poor, the newly unemployed and the rest of America's disenfranchised. That is why most of these voters (many who voted in 2008 for Obama) stayed home in Massachusetts this last time. They understand that the Democrats are for someone other than them and they won't be lied to again. Unless the Left gets it act together, they are willing to let the chips fall where they may--even if that means a resurgence of the GOP. I can't be emphatic enough, there is no reasonable reason to waste a dollar or a moment of your time campaigning for the Democratic Party. Barack Obama's campaign based on false hope and promises and the subsequent reneging on almost every promise of change should be enough to convince any left-leaning or progressive person in the United States who voted for Obama in 2008 that the time has come to end this relationship for good and forever. Like the cheating and lying spouse that keeps asking for one more chance after you find them in bed with your enemy once again, there comes a time to end the relationship. Not only have the occasional moments of bliss and the crumbs that say I care become fewer and fewer, they are no longer enough. The denial so many left-leaning Americans have lived with in their relationship with the Democrats is causing more harm then it is worth. Walk away, close the door behind you and begin the work required to build a real force for progressive change in the United States. Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625 [at] charter.net --------11 of 15-------- The Great Leap Sideways By ALEXANDER COCKBURN CounterPunch January 22 - 24, 2010 It's actually some 30 years ago, but to me seems only yesterday that we were howling for Paul Volcker's blood. As Fed chairman back in Carter-Reagan time he was the great deflator, ratcheting up interest rates and hurling widows and orphans out into the snow. And here he is now, the shining knight of the left, for months languishing in obscurity as head of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, now mustered to Obama's side to preside over the White House's Great Leap Sideways into economic populism. He's been tasked with promoting legislation that will haul the banks back into the Glass-Steagall era when the paltry sums in your checking account weren't immediately securitized and packaged into a CDO squared. We await the dispatch of Larry Summers, off on a secret mission to study the economy of the Aleutians and report back in a year, as the White House stokes the fire under Treasury Secretary Geithner for his secret bailout of AIG when he was chairman of the New York Fed. Say this for the President and his political advisors. It didn't take long for the message from Massachusetts to sink in, that voters across the board deem Obama a dud and creature of the banks. All the same, I don't think we can have much confidence in the Senate to leap to the left with quite the same alacrity. That may be Obama's secret thought, too. Only a few days ago chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Chris Dodd, securely stowed in Wall Street's pocket and on his way to a profitable lobbying perch when he soon returns to private life, was expressing doubts about even considering legislation of this nature. This being America, the U.S. Supreme Court returned fire that same Thursday with its Citizens United v. FEC decision striking down ancient laws and precedents and giving corporations their First Amendment rights to have nine fingers on the nation's political windpipe instead of eight - which was the status quo ante which editorialists bizarrely lament as a Golden Age of electoral probity, only now destroyed by Chief Justice Roberts and his black-hat gang of judicial activists. There's doleful talk of a "return to the era of the Robber Barons". I thought we had Barons' Homecoming a generation ago, though Citizens United v FEC does, even more brazenly than usual, blare the message that in America corporations rule and that the Supreme Court is their errand boy. Some try to garner comfort that the ruling applies to unions as well as corporations. Unions spent about $400 million in the 2008 election cycle, a collective expenditure that left them reeling. They face declining membership and falling dues revenue. Financially these are inauspicious times and the corporations simply have more swag. Can Obama recover the initiative? This leap sideways in the direction of the left comes eleven months behind schedule, and politics is an unforgiving time-keeper. He should have been holding that Thursday press conference last February, when he still had favorable winds in his sails. Instead he wasted most of the year destroying all prospects for decent health reform. The best we can hope for now is rejection by the House of the Senate's bill, with the whole awful package dumped in the shredder. Maybe the White House should try some new imaginative approach, like combining preventive health care with airline security. All people going through the TSA's full body scans would get, gratis, a full diagnostic printout, from teeth to tumors and the right to free consultations at health clinics run by the Department of Homeland Security. [I expect Obama to fiddle while his job and party burn. It's who he and his party are - shills to the bone for our corporate masters. -ed] --------12 of 15-------- Key Points About the Citizen's United v. FEC Decision The Supremes Have Opened the Floodgates By Sen. RUSSELL FEINGOLD CounterPunch January 22 - 24, 2010 The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC has opened the floodgates to corporate money in federal campaigns in ways we haven't seen for nearly a century. While for decades corporations have been able to set up special accounts, called PACs, to accept contributions and spend them on political activities, they have not been allowed to spend money from their vast corporate treasuries in connection with federal elections. Citizens United v. FEC has changed all that. In this case, the Court took a narrow campaign finance issue and decided a much broader one - whether a century of laws protecting against corruption in government, laws which have been repeatedly upheld as constitutional, should suddenly be overturned. While the core of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), often known as McCain-Feingold, isn't affected by this decision, the decision does eviscerate longstanding campaign finance law. Below are some key points about the decision, and how the Court's move to overrule Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1991) and portions of McConnell v. FEC (2003) will undermine our democratic process. The Core of McCain-Feingold Isn't Affected It's important to note that the central provision of McCain-Feingold , the ban on unlimited "soft money" contributions from wealthy interests to political parties, still stands. Even though the Court has allowed independent corporate spending on campaigns, the ban on soft money contributions will continue. Emboldened by this decision, opponents of campaign finance reform will almost certainly argued that the political parties must now be freed from the restrictions of the soft money ban, so this important reform must be defended. Nonetheless, the Citizens United decision seriously undermines campaign finance laws as a whole, bringing about an unprecedented rollback of reforms created to strengthen our democracy. How Unlimited Corporate Spending on Advertising May Impact Campaigns Corporations have huge war chests that far exceed current spending in our political system. During the 2008 election cycle, Fortune 500 companies alone had profits of $743 billion. By comparison, spending by candidates, outside groups, and political parties on the last presidential election totaled just over $2 billion. That is a lot of money, but it's nothing compared to what corporations and unions have in their treasuries. The Supreme Court has now allowed unlimited corporate spending on campaigns. That means, for example, that Wall Street banks and firms, having just taken our country into its worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, could spend millions upon millions of dollars on ads directly advocating the defeat of those candidates who want to prevent future economic disaster by imposing new financial services regulations. Congress Acted to Curb Corruption for a Reason Congress long ago placed reasonable limits on corporate spending in order to preserve the importance of individual citizens' votes and to curb corruption, and the appearance of corruption, in government. Congress struck back against the power of the trusts with the Tillman Act, and passed the Federal Election Campaign Act in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Then, after many other scandals in the years that followed, including the controversy surrounding overnight stays in the Lincoln Bedroom and exclusive White House coffees for big donors, it passed the BCRA. The Court's decision, while it does leave the core of McCain-Feingold intact, in many ways takes us back to the era of the robber barons in the 19th century. The Court Ignored Longstanding Legal Principles In its ruling, the Court ignored several time-honored principles that have served for the past two centuries to preserve the public's respect for and acceptance of its decisions. This decision runs contrary to the concept of "judicial restraint," the idea that a court should decide a case on constitutional grounds only if absolutely necessary, and should rule as narrowly as possible. Here, the Court did just the opposite -- it decided the constitutionality of all restrictions on corporate spending in connection with elections in an obscure case in which many far more narrow rulings were possible. The Court also ignored stare decisis, the historic respect for precedent, which Chief Justice John Roberts termed "judicial modesty" during his 2005 confirmation hearing. It's hard to imagine a bigger blow to stare decisis than to strike down laws in over 20 states and a federal law that has been the cornerstone of the nation's campaign finance system for 100 years. Finally, the Court ignored the longstanding practice of deciding a case only after lower courts have fully examined the facts. Here, because the broad constitutional questions raised in the recent reargument of the case were not raised in the court below, there is no factual record at all on which the Court could base its legal conclusions. Just a little over six years ago in the McConnell opinion, the Court said that the prohibition on corporations and unions dipping into their treasuries to influence campaigns was "firmly embedded in our law". The only thing that has changed since then is the composition of the Court. It is deeply disappointing that this Court, and particularly its newest members, had so little respect for precedent. This decision will surely undermine public confidence in the Court as well as damage our nation's political system. Russell Feingold is a United States Senator from Wisconsin. --------13 of 15-------- Shredding Democracy The Supremes Bow to King Corporation By RALPH NADER CounterPunch January 22 - 24, 2010 Yesterday's 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission shreds the fabric of our already weakened democracy by allowing corporations to more completely dominate our corrupted electoral process. It is outrageous that corporations already attempt to influence or bribe our political candidates through their political action committees (PACs), which solicit employees and shareholders for donations. With this decision, corporations can now directly pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars. Without approval from their shareholders, corporations can reward or intimidate people running for office at the local, state, and national levels. Much of this 183 page opinion requires readers to enter into a fantasy world and accept the twisted logic of Justice Kennedy, who delivered the opinion of the Court, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas. Imagine the majority saying the "Government may not suppress political speech based on the speaker's corporate identity." Perhaps Justice Kennedy didn't hear that the financial sector invested more than $5 billion in political influence purchasing in Washington over the past decade, with as many as 3,000 lobbyists winning deregulation and other policy decisions that led directly to the current financial collapse, according to a 231-page report titled: "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America" (See: WallStreetWatch.org). The Center for Responsive Politics reported that last year the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $144 million to influence Congress and state legislatures. The Center also reported big lobbying expenditures by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) which spent $26 million in 2009. Drug companies like Pfizer, Amgen and Eli Lilly also poured tens of millions of dollars into federal lobbying in 2009. The health insurance industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) also spent several million lobbying Congress. No wonder Single Payer Health insurance - supported by the majority of people, doctors, and nurses - isn't moving in Congress. Energy companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron are also big spenders. No wonder we have a national energy policy that is pro-fossil fuel and that does little to advance renewable energy (See: OpenSecrets.Org). No wonder we have the best Congress money can buy. I suppose Justice Kennedy thinks corporations that overwhelm members of Congress with campaign contributions need to have still more influence in the electoral arena. Spending millions to lobby Congress and making substantial PAC contributions just isn't enough for a majority of the Supreme Court. The dictate by the five activist Justices was too much for even Republican Senator John McCain, who commented that he was troubled by their "extreme naivete." There is a glimmer of hope and a touch of reality in yesterday's Supreme Court decision. Unfortunately it is the powerful 90 page dissent in this case by Justice Stevens joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Justice Stevens recognizes the power corporations wield in our political economy. Justice Stevens finds it "absurd to think that the First Amendment prohibits legislatures from taking into account the corporate identity of a sponsor of electoral advocacy." He flatly declares that, "The Court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation." He notes that the, Framers of our Constitution "had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind." Right he is, for the words "corporation" or "company" do not exist in our Constitution. Justice Stevens concludes his dissent as follows: "At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics." Indeed, this corporatist, anti-voter majority decision is so extreme that it should galvanize a grassroots effort to enact a simple Constitutional amendment to once and for all end corporate personhood and curtail the corrosive impact of big money on politics. It is time to prevent corporate campaign contributions from commercializing our elections and drowning out the voices and values of citizens and voters. It is way overdue to overthrow "King Corporation" and restore the sovereignty of "We the People"! Remember that corporations, chartered by the state, are our servants, not our masters. Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representative John Larson (D-CT) would encourage unlimited small-dollar donations from individuals and provide candidates with public funding in exchange for refusing corporate contributions or private contributions of more than $100. It is also time for shareholder resolutions, company by company, directing the corporate boards of directors to pledge not to use company money to directly favor or oppose candidates for public office. If you want to join the efforts to rollback the corporate concessions the Supreme Court made yesterday, visit Citizen.Org and freespeechforpeople.org. Ralph Nader is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel. --------14 of 15-------- The Trouble with Corporate Personhood Freedom of Speech for a Fiction By CHRISTOPHER KETCHAM CounterPunch January 22 - 24, 2010 I often correspond with a long-time Washington DC operator named Leigh Ratiner, who spent 40 years in government, serving under Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Reagan, with cabinet-level posts in the Defense Department, under the Secretary of the Interior, in the Department of Energy, and in the State Department. Usually I'm prompted to contact him while investigating this or that instance of criminality or stupidity in the federal government. We're in conversation a lot. "Chris, no disrespect intended," Leigh once wrote, "but I'm not sure yet that you truly understand how profoundly corrupt the government really is. Lying, perjury, devious deception, law breaking have been a constant pattern in the American government for several decades and have driven us to the point where it has become impossible for an intelligent person to trust the government". Leigh sometimes goes on for pages like this. In the annals of lying and devious deception we can now add what will hopefully be remembered as one of the foulest decisions - but not a surprising one - by the Supreme Court to be imposed on the American public, namely the majority opinion in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. I'll let the New York Times summarize: "Corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We'll spend whatever it takes to defeat you". Or, better yet, as Leigh Ratiner puts it: "Obama's failures amount to a thimble of sugar compared to this decision, which is equivalent to a truckload of oil barrels filled with rat poison. The spending limits the court overturned were the unlimited sums of money that Lockheed, Boeing or Bank of America can take out of the corporate treasury and give to NBC in exchange for a two minute spot attacking a candidate without the stockholders' permission. This is gigantic". Par for the course in the dying republic, where judges with the regularity of sun-up defend corporate interests against the public interest. But what's compelling here is that the decision hinges on another longstanding idea, which is that corporations have the rights of living breathing people. The Supreme Court claims in this matter to be defending the corporate right of free speech. The laws of corporate personhood go back to the 1860s, in decisions offered by judges with close ties to the very corporations whose rights they were asked to judge. Corporate citizens, needless to say, have been a plague upon the land ever since (Joel Bakan, the law professor, has correctly observed that corporate citizenship often accords with sociopathic behavior, the kind of behavior that as a society we do not tolerate from individuals). In any case, corporate freedom is not a constitutional right, and corporations do not very much care about freedom of speech, press or assembly as it involves the individual. What a corporation cares about it is its collective endeavor. To provide a collectivist institution with the rights of the individual, to announce a corporation as a citizen, is one of those wonderful juridical inventions that could only be taken seriously in a system where law is exploited to veil reality and to render lies as truth. As Leigh Ratiner notes, no intelligent person can trust such a system. And as regards "corporate persons," Ratiner asks the right question: "If they are natural citizens and commit crimes, why don't we liquidate them as punishment (since they can't be put in jail)? Of course, the answer is that if you liquidate them it will hurt the economy and the innocent shareholders. But doesn't that make it very clear that a corporation is not a person who can be put in a cage or hung by the neck until dead? That's the kind of person the Founders were trying to protect". Right - so, for example, I can't take a corporation out in the backyard and bury it alive. I can't smack a corporation flat across the face and break its nose. I can't take a corporation's head and split it with an axe, nor can I chop off all its fingers, nor stab out its eyes with a rusty screwdriver, nor burn off its flesh with a blowtorch, nor flay it with an electric sander, nor stomp its kneecaps with a sledgehammer, nor cut its head off and parade it around the room on a broomstick, nor use its entrails as a rappel rope, nor smash its testicles with a spiked bat, nor do any of the things that really should be done to corporations these days - if they were people - but which one would never do to a human being. If only corporate persons would finally show their fleshy faces. Christopher Ketcham, a freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY, is writing a book about secessionist groups in the US. You can write him at cketcham99 [at] mindspring.com. [Dogs and cats are neutered so they won't spread beyond the ability of the environment to sustain them. For the same reason, now that corporations are persons, all those - CEOs and stockholders - getting in total $10Mil or more per year must be neutered so they cannot reproduce. Since some may have already done so, their inheriting descendents must be neutered also; they could save the family jewels only by signing away all inheritance. -ed] --------15 of 15-------- When I pray to God it says Undelivered prayer - returned to sender. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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