Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Democracy IS for Sale, says the US Supreme Court

While most Americans were chewing over the Immigration, and issues of State v. Federal power yesterday, another ruling, of perhaps greater note, in the long run, was also handed down. It is innocuously titled AMERICAN TRADITION PARTNERSHIP, INC., FKA WESTERN TRADITION PARTNERSHIP, INC., ET AL. v. STEVE BULLOCK, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MONTANA, ET AL.

Americans have (almost) accepted unequal treatment before the law. Most of us shrugged, when Jamie Diamond answering question in the US. Secure in the backing of the US taxpayers (by a private Federal Reserve), this officer of a ‘too-big-to-fail’ bank, JP Morgan Chase, was blasé about his company having lost more than three BILLION U.S. dollars – it was in London, not the US, after all; in “derivatives” so we the US public, need not concern our little heads…

Others groaned, but stayed blasé, but for a different reason. Given that the US Supreme Court held in ‘Americans United’ that Money is Free Speech, and had previously ruled that Corporations are People with their own First Amendment Rights – at least we had our local and state governments. So perhaps this last ruling came as no surprise.

The final nail seems to have been hammered in yesterday, June 25, 2012 (a day that will truly live in infamy), when US Supreme Court struck a death knell for democracy. It ruled that a Montana ban on corporate money, ruling 5-4 that the controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling applies to state and local elections. It wrote that, “The question represented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the state law” and it stated in no uncertain terms, “There can be no serious doubt that it does.”

Let me repeat, according to the US Supreme Court, money is speech, corporations are people, and it is fine for corporations to stack their money against regular folks, in any local and state election? Presumably even for dogcatcher, if they so choose? Whatever happened to democracy, a cherished American value? Honestly, when comedian Steven Colbert set up his Colbert Nation pact for a Super PAC, I thought it was funny! Sadly, today’s comedians speak as much truth, as any Shakespearean court jester.

This goes beyond the pale. Some students used to laugh at Professor Peter Phillips and his alarmist views on Project Censored; who is laughing now? Certainly not anyone of us who are in the 99%...

It is sad that in the US, it is no longer a government of, by and for the people – it is a government of by and for the corporations. Abraham Lincoln must be turning in his grave! Anyone else reminded of George Orwell’s 1984, where robot citizens heard, ‘War is Peace…

Well, folks it has come to pass: the US Supreme Court has killed democracy. So what’s the average person to do? Ideas, anyone?

If you don’t believe me, or if want to sleep out the coming election, here is the text:

Cite as: 567 U. S. ____ (2012)
Per Curiam

No. 11–1179. Decided June 25, 2012
A Montana state law provides that a “corporation may not make . . . an expenditure in connection with a candi­date or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.” Mont. Code Ann. §13–35–227(1) (2011). The Montana Supreme Court rejected petitioners’ claim that this statute violates the First Amendment. 2011 MT 328, 363 Mont. 220, 271 P. 3d 1. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, this Court struck down a similar federal law, holding that “political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.” 558 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (slip op., at 26) (internal quotation marks omit­ted). The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does. See U. S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2. Montana’s arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citi­zens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case.
The petition for certiorari is granted. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Montana is reversed.
It is so ordered.
Source: http://www.supremecourt.gov/

Monday, June 4, 2012

Paul Krugman in NYT, June 3, 2012...

Paul Krugman's piece in the New York Times of June 3, 2012 on "the Republican Economy" raises some interesting questions. He does good anaylsis, and points out what is wrong, but does not offer some details that are part of the dysfunction. Namely, Gingrich's GOPAC word list to use against the Democrats; and Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Plan. If the Left is to make any inroads towards sane consensus, and if this country is not to be sold (due to Obama occupying the White House), Democrats have to look countering these two facts. Yes, the parallel to Know Nothing party's reign of ignorance in US history is there, but this can be changed.

One - start by praising what the right seems to cherish, Capitalism. Then talk about the regulations needed to an unbridled capitalism. Detail how historic regulations have helped most people in the US.

Two - embrace the discussion about the multicultural nature of US society (which started the moment the Europeans landed in what became the US); don't shun it. Talk about the differences of race and religion. Link it to diversity and globalization. Don't follow the path of the Know Nothings and the McCarthy Era.

Three - fund education. A democracy requires basic education and critical thinking skills for its people/ citizens. We cannot take pride in a chorus of 'I know nothing.'

Four - get the press to do what it should - carry its weight in a democracy. Talk about the link to what Project Censored calls Junk News and Real News. Do we as a society need to know more about 'Branjolina', or our politicians and political system?

Unless these are made a part of the conversation, very little will improve.