Consensus - Political Antidote [New Grime Dubstep Instrumental Video](HQ) (by Con Sensus)
When American colonists declared independence from England in 1776, they also freed themselves from control by English corporations that extracted their wealth and dominated trade. After fighting a revolution to end this exploitation, our country’s founders retained a healthy fear of corporate power and wisely limited corporations exclusively to a business role. Corporations were forbidden from attempting to influence elections, public policy, and other realms of civic society.
Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end. The states also imposed conditions (some of which remain on the books, though unused) like these*:
Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
Corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.
Corporations could not own stock in other corporations nor own any property that was not essential to fulfilling their chartered purpose.
Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm.
Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making.
For 100 years after the American Revolution, legislators maintained tight controll of the corporate chartering process. Because of widespread public opposition, early legislators granted very few corporate charters, and only after debate. Citizens governed corporations by detailing operating conditions not just in charters but also in state constitutions and state laws. Incorporated businesses were prohibited from taking any action that legislators did not specifically allow.
States also limited corporate charters to a set number of years. Unless a legislature renewed an expiring charter, the corporation was dissolved and its assets were divided among shareholders. Citizen authority clauses limited capitalization, debts, land holdings, and sometimes, even profits. They required a company’s accounting books to be turned over to a legislature upon request. The power of large shareholders was limited by scaled voting, so that large and small investors had equal voting rights. Interlocking directorates were outlawed. Shareholders had the right to remove directors at will.
In Europe, charters protected directors and stockholders from liability for debts and harms caused by their corporations. American legislators explicitly rejected this corporate shield. The penalty for abuse or misuse of the charter was not a plea bargain and a fine, but dissolution of the corporation.
In 1819 the U.S. Supreme Court tried to strip states of this sovereign right by overruling a lower court’s decision that allowed New Hampshire to revoke a charter granted to Dartmouth College by King George III. The Court claimed that since the charter contained no revocation clause, it could not be withdrawn. The Supreme Court’s attack on state sovereignty outraged citizens. Laws were written or re-written and new state constitutional amendments passed to circumvent the (Dartmouth College v Woodward) ruling. Over several decades starting in 1844, nineteen states amended their constitutions to make corporate charters subject to alteration or revocation by their legislatures. As late as 1855 it seemed that the Supreme Court had gotten the people’s message when in Dodge v. Woolsey it reaffirmed state’s powers over “artificial bodies.”
But the men running corporations pressed on. Contests over charter were battles to control labor, resources, community rights, and political sovereignty. More and more frequently, corporations were abusing their charters to become conglomerates and trusts. They converted the nation’s resources and treasures into private fortunes, creating factory systems and company towns. Political power began flowing to absentee owners, rather than community-rooted enterprises.
The industrial age forced a nation of farmers to become wage earners, and they became fearful of unemployment–a new fear that corporations quickly learned to exploit. Company towns arose. and blacklists of labor organizers and workers who spoke up for their rights became common. When workers began to organize, industrialists and bankers hired private armies to keep them in line. They bought newspapers to paint businessmen as heroes and shape public opinion. Corporations bought state legislators, then announced legislators were corrupt and said that they used too much of the public’s resources to scrutinize every charter application and corporate operation.
Government spending during the Civil War brought these corporations fantastic wealth. Corporate executives paid “borers” to infest Congress and state capitals, bribing elected and appointed officials alike. They pried loose an avalanche of government financial largesse. During this time, legislators were persuaded to give corporations limited liability, decreased citizen authority over them, and extended durations of charters.
Attempts were made to keep strong charter laws in place, but with the courts applying legal doctrines that made protection of corporations and corporate property the center of constitutional law, citizen sovereignty was undermined. As corporations grew stronger, government and the courts became easier prey. They freely reinterpreted the U.S. Constitution and transformed common law doctrines.
One of the most severe blows to citizen authority arose out of the 1886 Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. Though the court did not make a ruling on the question of “corporate personhood,” thanks to misleading notes of a clerk, the decision subsequently was used as precedent to hold that a corporation was a “natural person.” This story was detailed in “The Theft of Human Rights,” a chapter in Thom Hartmann’s recommended book Unequal Protection.
From that point on, the 14th Amendment, enacted to protect rights of freed slaves, was used routinely to grant corporations constitutional “personhood.” Justices have since struck down hundreds of local, state and federal laws enacted to protect people from corporate harm based on this illegitimate premise. Armed with these “rights,” corporations increased control over resources, jobs, commerce, politicians, even judges and the law.
A United States Congressional committee concluded in 1941, “The principal instrument of the concentration of economic power and wealth has been the corporate charter with unlimited power….”
Many U.S.-based corporations are now transnational, but the corrupted charter remains the legal basis for their existence. At Reclaim Democracy!, we believe citizens can reassert the convictions of our nation’s founders who struggled successfully to free us from corporate rule in the past. These changes must occur at the most fundamental level — the U.S. Constitution.
Is a country a business?
I ask, because, I’ve never thought of it that way…but, it seems there are many who believe it is, that a running a country is like running a business. Or that it IS running a business. It’s clear that the GOP think this. All their candidates boasting about their business acumen, as if the purpose in running a country were to turn a profit. The say that Obama is inexperienced… He clearly has experience as a public servant and community organizer, so, I can only assume they mean he doesn’t have experience running a business.
I kind of always thought that running a country was about acting in the best interests of its people.
Businesses don’t generally seem to be concerned with the welfare of their workers over, say, profits.
I mean, I’m sure there are businesses that DO act in the interests of their workers. Those are often not the most “successful” (at least, materially speaking) businesses. Clearly,it’s been shown that profit-sharing, and caring for employees, etc. are good for attracting the best workers and holding on to them, which can make a business stronger, but it seems the bottom line is generally better for those who exploit the fuck out of people, the environment, etc., without conscience or second thought.
So, this is what the GOP think running a country is. I mean, it’s no surprise or mystery that this is what they think.
But I just don’t get it.
A country is NOT a business.
The purpose of our country is not to maximize profits for capitalists.
I mean, didn’t we unite as a nation “in order to form a more perfect union” and to uphold our “inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”?
I don’t recall reading anywhere in any of our founding documents that our purpose, as a nation, was to maximize profits, expand, crush the competition, and at all costs to hold that bottom line.
Am I the crazy one here?
Romney Nomination in doubt – Brokered Convention likely
According to this article, Ron Paul may still be in the running for POTUS. Honestly, I thought he’d already dropped out or been eliminated or something, so this comes as a surprise to me.
While I think RP is largely a whack-a-doodle, I have to say that, at this juncture, in some respects, I find this news heartening. I can not speak to the veracity of the claim, but if it is true, it really means, to me, that there are a lot of people that are sick and tired of the same old bullshite, and really do want some change, because this guy, if nothing else, IS different.
There ARE some policy matters regarding which I do agree with RP, of course, including reduction/elimination of foreign meddling and military waste, marijuana legalization, and a few other things. On the whole, I think his brand of “libertarianism”, however, is likely only to empower corporate fascists to screw over the nations poor and wreck the environment even more than the status quo. I think his policy on education is disastrous. I believe he would throw American workers to the corporate fascist dogs to eat for lunch. He would dismantle environmental protections and leave us all choking on smog and drinking sludge. I also most definitely DO believe he is a racist, and his policies would do harm to women, homosexuals, and minorities, especially, and I don’t think that’s a fair trade-off for legal pot and/or fewer illegal wars. I would never, ever vote for the man.
But, I’ll tell you the truth. If the election were to come down to either Santorum or Romney v. Obama v. Jill Stein (Green Party) and whomever else, I would throw in with Obama, just to keep Romney or Santorm out. Honestly. Lesser of two evils, and all that.
But if it comes down to Obama v. Ron Paul, I think I will vote my conscience, for Jill Stein of the Green Party, and let the chips fall where they may, because there really wouldn’t be a lesser of two evils, in such as case, in my opinion, just two different colors of relatively commensurate evils. So, RP’s potential resurgence, if so, as I see it, lifts a burden from my shoulders, and frees me to vote my conscience.
I know that, as unfortunate as it may be, in none of the above cases will the Green Party prevail. Dr. Stein’s platform is, imho, lightyears ahead, and with infinitely greater potential to do good for the American people, the world, the environment, etc., but she has little relevant political experience and nobody outside of Lexington, MA and the Green Party has ever even heard of her. And while the GOP and the Dems are both whores to the corporate fascists, I do believe Obama’s policies are more progressive on some matters reflecting on health care, civil rights, women and minorities, and the environment. He did try to get us a public health care option (albeit, failed). While his first term has been disappointing in many aspects, I can not deny that he has also done us some good and made some progress; that progress may seem miniscule, and only in some directions, while sliding backwards in others, true, but I believe Santorum or Romney would jettison us so far backwards our heads would spin, and I am horrified at the prospect of either of them in the Whitehouse. I’d rather have 4 more years of Obama, and would vote accordingly.
#politics #potus #election #ronpaul
AlterNet 6 Pathetic Right-Wing Attempts to Defend the Indefensible Citizens United (Debunked) By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet Posted on February 23, 2012, Printed on February 26, 2012 http://www.alternet.org/story/154274/6_pathetic_right-wing_attempts_to_defend_the_indefensible_citizens_united_(debunked) Imagine this: in a week when the latest presidential campaign finance reports reveal a growing list of million-dollar donors to super PACs, right-wing bloggers and Republican lawyers are defending the Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United decisions as maligned by media and of course, liberals. The apologists are saying there’s nothing corrupt going on; it wasn’t caused by Citizen United anyway; it’s people not corporations writing the checks; it’s only free speech; it’s always been done; and it’s good for democracy. Let’s unmask these silly assertions one by one. It might come as a shock to the right, but Americans who care about democracy can see through their charade. 1. Denying corruption. Does anybody seriously think that any of these donors, who are some of the most accomplished businessmen in America, are just handing over millions as if they were giving a dollar to a homeless person and walking away? Or might they be investing in something, as, say, political venture capitalists? Don’t even answer that, but go to the next assertion by the defenders of these super-citizens: that their donations are being given to groups that have no relationship whatsoever to the candidate’s official campaigns. It’s simply a coincidence, nothing more, that super PACs are doing the mudslinging for specific candidates—while official campaign ads are pure as snow. Nope, Newt Gingrich does not owe anything to casino owner Sheldon Adelson, whose family’s $10 million gift to a pro-Newt super PAC has kept Gingrich’s campaign alive. And when they met in Las Vegas this month, you can be sure that Newt felt no pressure nor did he talk about the campaign. Neither does Rick Santorum owe anything to William Dore or Foster Friess for their big checks to another ‘independent’ and miraculously sympathetic super PAC. Prove there is quid pro quo corruption going on here, responds James Bopp, the GOP’s attorney behind the Citizens United case. Where’s the evidence, he asks on online forums. Surely Bopp is correct: the founders wanted to create a system dominated by patrons who would have enjoyed golf with King George III (if he were alive today) and feel no fealty. Seriously, even the New York Times has reported that Adelson seems to be playing Gingrich and Romney’s support of Israel against each other, to ensure that whoever gets the GOP nomination will take a hard line, including the possibility of a military strike against Iran. That is what he is buying. And to summarily dismiss pesky polls showing that a majority of Americans disapprove of the ruling and are losing confidence in the electoral process could not be more off base. 2. Shifting the blame from Citizens United. It is true that the Supreme Court has deregulated campaign finance laws since the mid-1970s—a trend that transcends single decisions. But Citizens United was special, and did many things including watering down the legal definition of what constitutes corruption—saying it’s not anything that might ingratiate a candidate or officeholder. Nice, eh? Justice John Paul Stevens, in his Citizens United dissent, called the majority’s view of corruption “crabbed,” meaning excessively narrow, and pointed to the congressional record behind a 2002 ban on soft money (an earlier big money loophole) that discussed interlacing activities that looked like corruption to the Court, when it upheld that ban. But who has time to read 100,000 pages? The biggest claim by right-wingers such as Mediaite’s Dan Abrams is that Citizens United did not lead to today’s explosion in super PAC activity, and it is “shameful, inexcusable and distorted” for the media to say so. “This argument is wrong,” countered Fred Wertheimer, one of Washington’s most respected campaign finance reform advocates, writing this week. “A little history is in order.” The apologists say it wasn’t Citizens United, but technically, a lesser-known case that followed, SpeechNow v. FEC, that lifted the $2,500 per-person contribution limit to PACs in the primary (Adelson’s donations were 4,000 times that limit; Harold Simmons and Contran Corp were 5,640 times that limit. Adelson told Forbes this week he might give $100 million to help Newt.) It’s tough, but sometimes you have to do what Wertheimer did—read the actual ruling and cite it. Here it is, with the key words italicized by Wertheimer: In the operative sentence of the SpeechNow decision, Judge David Sentelle writing for the full D.C Circuit Court of Appeals stated: Thereafter, the Supreme Court decided Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010), which resolves this appeal. In accordance with that decision, we hold that the contribution limits of 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(1)(C) and 441a(a)(3) are unconstitutional as applied to individuals’ contributions to SpeechNow. (Emphasis added). So, uh, yeah, Citizens United lit the fuse behind the super PAC explosion. 3. Saying people, not corporations, are writing checks. Once again, if you put on the blinders, that narrowly can be said for donations to super PACs. Indeed, most of the million-dollar or more contributions have been made by corporate executives as individuals, not by their corporate treasuries. But who says super PACs are the only game in town? They are not. The other legal entity that is collecting really big money—to be spent exactly the same way as the super PACs are helping the GOP’s presidential contenders—are political non-profits, such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which has set a 2012 fundraising goal of $300 million and does not have to disclose donors. Seven Democratic senators wrote to the IRS this week urging it to investigate whether “social welfare” groups were engaging in potentially illegal activity. (Prediction: the IRS will say yes, but only after the 2012 election is over.) The federal judiciary’s deregulation of political contributions to groups making anything but independent expenditures does not end with super PACs. It makes sense that individuals with feelings for a candidate would donate to a super PAC supporting them in the race’s early phase, whereas corporations would wait to donate to a non-profit (whether Rove’s GPS or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) after the GOP nominee is chosen and without revealing their identity. 4. Hiding behind free speech. As the Republican National Lawyers Association blog said this week, quoting Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent speech to South Carolina’s Bar, “I don’t care who is doing the speech—the more the merrier… People are not stupid. If they don’t like it, they will shut it off.” Moreover, other defenders of this view such as the ACLU’s national board say what’s the big deal—the wealthy are paying for democracy; better them than you or me, right? And plenty of money is being thrown around by Ds and Rs, canceling any side’s advantage. There are many problems with that thinking. The first is that it still gives outsized influence in the electoral process to the richest people and institutions. Anyone who has seen a reality TV show may have noticed that the richest Americans don’t exactly have the same "issues" as the rest of the country. Second, when a few loud perspectives dominate the airways and debate, it eclipses the voices of people of lesser means and discourages their participation and confidence in the process. As such, wealth-driven political speech isn’t free. It’s very expensive. And the costs are not just monetary, but measured in the public’s eroding trust in representative government and the elections. 5. 'It’s always been done.' Anybody who follows money in politics knows that every campaign surfaces new ways to get around the legal limits that are intended to keep elections free from corruption and encourage debate. However, as Democracy 21’s Wertheimer again notes, “The argument is wrong.” This year is not like past elections. In 2004, millions were given to the Swift Boat PAC attacking John Kerry and financier George Soros also gave millions to two pro-Kerry PACs. However, both were illegal and Wertheimer said that all these “PACs paid substantial fines to the FEC [Federal Election Commission].” “If these PACs had properly complied in 2004 with existing campaign finance laws, the contributions from individuals to the Swift Boat PAC and to the two pro-Democratic PACs would have been limited to $5,000 per donor per year,” he wrote. “The bottom line is this: the ability of corporations, labor unions and individuals to give unlimited contributions to super PACs making independent expenditures to influence federal elections flows directly from the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case.” 6. The absurd claim that it’s good for democracy. Anyone who has read this commentary can draw his or her own conclusions. What’s clear is that the Supreme Court has unleashed a new campaign finance regime, with Citizens United being its signature ruling. That the mainstream media or others do not cite the follow-up ruling, SpeechNow, does not change their fundamental critique or analysis. There are as many serious constitutional reasons for imposing limits on what is spent in campaigns as there are for taking a less restrictive approach. However, whether 2012’s spending is by wealthy individuals in super PACs or wealthy corporations in non-profits is another distinction without much difference. The point is the 2012 presidential campaign—and this will be true in races for Congress and other competitive contests, including electing judges—has been marked by enormous loopholes and ways for the wealthy to spend political money with impunity and in some cases anonymously. The remedy is not necessarily censoring the wealthiest people and institutions, but balancing their participation with Americans of more modest means. Whether that comes from constitutional amendment campaigns, appointment of the next Supreme Court justice to rebalance the Court, or a revitalized Congress that is not afraid to legislate and challenge the Supreme Court remains to be seen. In early 2012, super-donor and super-PAC spending is what our democracy looks like. But that is not what it is supposed to look like. Steven Rosenfeld covers democracy issues for AlterNet and is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008). © 2012 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved. View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/154274/
“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom,” — Michael Ellner
We dodged another shut-down bullet, but only until November 18. That’s when the next temporary bill to keep the government going runs out. House Republicans want more budget cuts as their price for another stopgap spending bill.
Among other items, Republicans are demanding major cuts in a…