"We, the Corporations...
Update: Sorry about the automatic loading of the Murphy Brown video. Until I can learn the html code that'll disable this, you can turn the volume all the way down on the video itself.
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Of the United Arab Emirates, in Order to form a more perfect Merger, to stab Justice, insure Domestic Campaign Contributions, to Benefit from an uncommon Legal Defense, promote corporate Welfare, and secure the Blessings of the Liberty to ourselves and our Politicians of Choice, do ordain and establish and approve this Message for the United Corporations of America ®."
Somehow, I don't think that's the preamble the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution. But 5 certain activist right wing justices apparently don't have any respect for the intent of the Constitution in Citizens United vs the FEC. Back in 2005, perhaps the Senate Judiciary Committee should've pressed John Roberts a little more diligently when he tried ducking questions about stare decisis.
Here's what the SCOTUS did in a nutshell: Corporations, plain and simple, no longer have to launder their campaign contributions (hereafter referred to as bribes) through political action committees. Corporations are no longer restrained by the $2300 campaign contribution limit to which actual persons remain bound. While the Corporate 5 pretended that this relaxation of 104 years of legal precedent would benefit only American corporations, the high court knew damned good and well that any offshore corporation, say from Israel or Saudi Arabia, need only file papers of incorporation in Delaware to qualify for American corporate citizenship.
This means that if the well-funded al Qaeda network wanted to fund the campaign of another useful Republican idiot like George W. Bush, the Supreme Court paved the way for them to do so. Imagine Osama bin Laden and his $300,000,000 personal fortune bankrolling Jeb Bush's campaign for President while John "Coppertone" Boehner crows about the rule of law being upheld.
Indeed, when Boehner and other Republicans began hailing the court's decision, you could practically see golden arches for eyebrows and golden dutch shells for pupils as Republicans, out-moneyed and outmanned by Democrats, eagerly began licking their chops and rubbing their hands at the prospect of now being able to accept billions in campaign contributions from anyone and everyone.
In the majority ruling, Clarence Thomas actually wrote a dissenting opinion but that isn't as promising as it sounds. In his dissent, Justice Thomas, typically a believer in stare decisis and Constitutional originalism, departed from his legalistic philosophy and any lingering common sense regarding corporate influence on our democracy by saying that the high court didn't go far enough in protecting corporate right to free speech and warned ominously that it was "just the first step."
It's worth mentioning that the bulk of the 183 page ruling, which might as well be called The Fountainhead II, was written by Anthony Kennedy, a reliable swing vote for the court's radical right wing faction.
It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say this was the court's open declaration of war on actual flesh and blood individuals, that they were saying in essence, Corporations have all the rights you do and a good deal more.
Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
OK, just because they can now flood our elections with unlimited amounts of blood money and petrodollars, surely they're bound by the same laws as "natural" individuals, right?
Well, the Rude Pundit recently wondered aloud about the same thing on Twitter when he asked, "If corporations are people, can they be arrested for murder?"
Anyone who's been following Blackwater's exploits or that of other security contractors or of the rise of InfraGard knows that's merely a rhetorical question. Blackwater literally got away with murder in the wake of their bloodiest day in Iraq when they slaughtered 17 innocent civilians in Nisour Sq. without any provocation whatsoever. Judge Ricardo Urbina ruled that federal prosecutors bungled the case so badly the evidence against them was either inadmissable or fraudulently obtained. Blackwater's attorneys have gone out of their way to argue that Erik Prince's merry band of psychopaths cannot be tried for war crimes in civilian courts because they're federal contractors and can't be tried through the UCMJ because they're contractors and not military. They'd shown contempt for Iraqi law by remaining in Baghdad raking in tons of money and elsewhere even after the Iraqi government officially banned them.
Essentially, Blackwater's saying that they're not accountable to any law in the world.
InfraGard is even more ominous. InfraGard is largely made up of at least 350 of the Fortune 500. Beginning modestly in 1996 to fight cyber-terrorism, InfraGard is now a shadow army collecting thousands of new recruits each year. Their own web page states,
While under the direction of NIPC, the focus of InfraGard was cyber infrastructure protection. After September 11, 2001 NIPC expanded its efforts to include physical as well as cyber threats to critical infrastructures. InfraGard’s mission expanded accordingly.
In March 2003, NIPC was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which now has responsibility for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) matters. The FBI retained InfraGard as an FBI sponsored program, and will work with DHS in support of its CIP mission, facilitate InfraGard’s continuing role in CIP activities, and further develop InfraGard’s ability to support the FBI’s investigative mission, especially as it pertains to counterterrorism and cyber crimes.
What they don't tell you is that these corporations have already been deputized by the FBI and Homeland Security to shoot to kill with Blackwateresque impunity anyone and everyone they deem a threat to their infrastructure. To InfraGard insiders, martial law is not a question of if but a question of when. In fact, FBI director Robert Mueller deputized InfraGard four and a half years ago to handle martial law. InfraGard has access to possible terrorist threats that even our own elected officials don't have.
It's the ultimate government outsourcing to corporations and they are actually a part of DHS.
Who Will Benefit and Who Will Get Elected?
Both Republicans and Democrats will benefit from this new ruling. Nakedly corrupt Democratic lawmakers such as John Murtha, Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi and especially Max Baucus are secretly creaming their panties and tightie whities at the prospect of no longer having to go the long way around the bend to grab those money bags.
But history tells us that Republicans, in keeping with their fascist forebears, have always been more simpatico and aligned with corporate interests than Democrats. Any corporation insistent on getting tax cuts, subsidies and deferments and complete deregulation (which is to say all of them) will more than likely get it from a Republican and all they have to do is send a lobbyist to their offices to remind them which side their bread is buttered on.
Out of the 535 members of Congress, perhaps 520 do not belong there. Most of them were financed, to some extent, by corporations with the so-called limitations already in place. Without even these swiss cheesed restrictions in place, even American-based multinational corporations that do not even pay US taxes will now get to decide who our next president is regardless of how miserably unqualified he or she is to hold that office.
Never underestimate the effect cabals such as the Bilderberg group has over public opinion. Bill Clinton, like Jimmy Carter 15 years before him, was an unknown southern governor with no national political or foreign policy experience who abruptly became the Democratic frontrunner who would go on to unseat an incumbent.
We could have done a lot worse than Bill Clinton, true, but with the SCOTUS's revolutionary ruling last Thursday, we're pretty much guaranteed that we will do worse in future elections, starting this November.
Just try to remember: Enhanced visibility should in no way be confused with enhanced qualifications.
The Crux of the Biscuit
...as Frank Zappa would say, is not that corporations have the same exact rights we have but rather that they have exponentially greater rights than that of "natural" persons. Corporations and financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup, MBNA, Blackwater, Halliburton, Blue Cross and AIG regularly enter our homes every day and loot the coffers of tens of millions of American households. But just try even knocking on the front door of any of their corporate HQ with the intention of just talking to one of their executives and see how fast they release the hounds.
The 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act made it virtually impossible for families to claim bankruptcy due to credit card and loan defaults as a result of medical bills while allowing corporations such as Enron, Tyco and Worldcom to use the bankruptcy laws as their plan B.
The self-dealing bankruptcy bill, written by our nation's biggest lenders and rubber-stamped by a GOP-dominated 109th Congress, also allowed them to indulge in usury (including the legal right to jack APR's up to 36%) and wealthy individuals were still able to use the asset protection trust loophole that permits them to hide their money from creditors by buying mansions out of state.
And if you need another indication of where your government's true loyalties lie, survey the economic landscape, take a look at the Dow Jones Average, scan the headlines of record 4Q profits for the bailed-out banks and corporations and decide for yourself who's better off- Main St. or Wall St.?
The Supreme Court's ruling, which sounds suspiciously like an a priori response to an 1886 a priori ruling that granted corporate personhood, was notably made along the hardest of hard line ideological divides. Obviously wanting to see a Republican administration and more Republicans in the legislative branch, the SCOTUS nakedly paved the way for corporations, American and otherwise, to essentially buy any office for any boob who will champion their bottom line.
Witness this episode of Murphy Brown - The Best and Not-So-Brightest. Pay particular attention to the last eight minutes. Thanks to the Supreme Court, we're going to see a lot more idiots like Stuart Best shoehorned into Washington, DC in the future.
The high court's ruling may seem like another nail in the coffin of the rights of individuals and that the system is now officially rigged to favor corporate personhood over our own.
As always, the old political adage of following the money will serve us in good stead. And this illusion that we call democracy and the electoral process, this parlor game, this dumb show that we've been told places the power in our hands, that we're a country of the people, for the people and by the people can once again become a reality.
It all begins with vigilance and even hypervigilance. It will involve ensuring that corporations like ChoicePoint never again assemble lists of many tens of thousands of innocent individuals so the Republican Party can deny us our constitutional right to vote and that those votes won't be counted (or discounted) by GOP-connected corporations such as Diebold or ES&S.
It will mean paying particular attention to which corporation is funding what campaign and drawing parallels between their corporate bottom line and the policy positions taken up by the candidates.
It may perhaps even involve boycotting the goods and services of certain corporations who are obviously buying the candidacies of stupendously unqualified people. This, admittedly, will be the hardest thing to do. Corporate retailers like Wal-Mart give us cheap goods. Corporations give us all of our news and all of our cell phones, cable and satellite TV and internet access.
Even holding up a handmade placard would mean using paper made by a paper mill owned by a corporation, written with a Sharpie and standing on a soap box made by another corporation.
But it's not impossible. We cannot admit defeat and allow corporations to buy our elections more than they already have. Radical special interest groups, corporations, cartels and cabals such as the Bilderberg Group have already given us stupendously incompetent people such as the Bushes, Sonny Bono, Michele Bachmann and the like.
Imagine how much worse it will get unless we stand up and claim what is rightfully ours: Our democracy, our electoral process, our personhood. Because one person should be able to make a difference, not one corporation or cartel.