Progressive Calendar 01.25.10
From: David Shove (
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]>
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.

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

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]>
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] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

--------3 of 15--------

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at]>
Subject: 3CTC env forum 1.25 7pm

Produced by Nova

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] or PHONE:  612-879-8937.

--------4 of 15--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
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]

--------5 of 15--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
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
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]>
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]>
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.

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]>
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]>
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


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

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

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

contact: Dave Bicking 612-276-1213
dave [at]
--david shove
shove001 [at]

--------10 of 15--------

Don't Look Back
Just Walk Away From the Democrats
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

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

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]

--------11 of 15--------

The Great Leap Sideways
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
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
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

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:

The Center for Responsive Politics reported that last year the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce spent $144 million to influence Congress and state

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

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

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

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
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]

[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.

--------15 of 15--------

 When I pray to God
 it says Undelivered prayer -
 returned to sender.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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