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Legally Sanctioned Murder of Democracy

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I am not a big fan of hyperbole. Or maybe I am. Either way, I am not looking to overstate the impact of yesterday's decision, but that said, this feels right.


 

Comments

Who cuts olby's paychecks? Oh yeah, I remember now....GE! And they pay him to what again? Make political speeches. Yes, that under the table stuff is so much better.

They pay him to get ratings. I think he could juggle chainsaws as far as they are concerned.

I would bet he didn't vet the revolution talk with his boss before he went to air.

I bet a couple million overpriced light bulbs Obama really wants olby to stay on the air...be a shame if he got canceled.

I am sure your right, I am also GE wouldn't really give a shit if the network wasn't making money.

So, if we're done discussing the future employment potential of the messenger, what about the message?

Corporations flourish by exploiting advantage. They already spend billions on lobbyists to influence legislation: no longer necessary. Does the picture painted by Olbermann really strike anyone as outlandish?

Corporations already owned most of the process and bought most of the legislation. Yesterday's ruling removed the last obstacle to wholesale corporate government.

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

~ Benito Mussolini

FDP

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

~ Benito Mussolini

When I 1st heard this "quotation," it was related to me as

“Corporatismo should more appropriately be called Fascismo because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

So tonight I went looking for both versions. Your's comes up a lot, but not under anything scholarly. While the sentiment is understood, it's likely that the quip was never uttered by Mussolini. Il Duce did write

...Fascism [is] the complete opposite of ... Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production....

Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets, carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied - the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society....

..."The maxim that society exists only for the well-being and freedom of the individuals composing it does not seem to be in conformity with nature's plans." "If classical liberalism spells individualism," Mussolini continued, "Fascism spells government."

in What Is Fascism? (1932). See Political Information Net/Encyclopedia.

Are elected officials required to disclose all the "campaign contributions" they have received?

They are currently. This decision does not allow corporations to donate directly to a campaign or PAC although that would be a logical extension of this finding.

Ah... so practically speaking I'd imagine this mainly applies to corporations advertising for certain politicians?

That's horrifying! I mean, right now corporations don't attempt to influence me with 24/7 advertising... I can't imagine what the world would be like if they did! And now all the politicians will be corporate shills! </sarcasm>

The real difference is that now they can increase their political spending 1,000 fold, but they have to do so as themselves but their donations stay the same.

This decision is indeed horrible and depressing. What really turned my stomach were the pieties in Kennedy's so-called promotion of "the right of the public to be exposed to a multitude of ideas". Yeah, that's the ticket. Now that the "news" divisions of every network are tightly coupled to corporate bottom lines, the "multitude of ideas" pouring forth from the media is truly impressive, isn't it. We now know every sordid detail of Michael Jackson's demise and virtually nothing about how public health care functions in other countries. Does Kennedy truly believe this nonsense, or does he just have no clue about what is going on.

Re: Olbermann undermining his own credibility

user-pic

Wow, I never thought I would agree with Keith but I do. I wish our people would wake up; our rights are quietly being eroded away through our own individual apathy. The best thing that ever could have happened in our republic is if we could have imposed term and spending limits to even the electoral field for representative government, instead we have gone the other direction and given the keys to the palace to the people that need it the least, the rich and powerful. In addition to the other things I just mentioned, the next best thing we could do is overturn the amendment that gives corporations the same rights as a person. Not only would it stop them from usurping democracy in this way, but it would also help solve a myriad of other social issues. Individuals within corporations would be PERSONALLY liable for corruption, environmental disaster, and the like - not the current blanket fines and toothless prosecutions that corporations shrug off as the cost of doing business.

This should be of interest to readers of Glenn Greenwald, one of my very favorite columnists, who flatly disagrees with Olbermann and most of us here:

What the Supreme Court Got Right

I'm also quite skeptical of the apocalyptic claims about how this decision will radically transform and subvert our democracy by empowering corporate control over the political process. My skepticism is due to one principal fact: I really don't see how things can get much worse in that regard.

In other words, this particular issue is just a tiny snag in the vast, smouldering wreckage of America's "democracy".

I have tremendous respect for GG, but this passage is the one that bothers me most:

...Beyond that, the central principle which critics of this ruling find most offensive -- that corporations possess "personhood" and are thus entitled to Constitutional (and First Amendment) rights -- has also been affirmed by decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence; tossing that principle aside would require deviating from stare decisis every bit as much as the majority did here.

Here is where Olbermann (and I) object, but Olbermann's analogy is imprecise. Today's decision isn't the Dred Scott of this issue, that distinction belongs to Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. GG argues that today's case simply amplifies precedent and I think GG has too much respect for precedent here. At some point the country has to reverse its extension of "personhood" to corporations or the democracy is indeed doomed, if it isn't already.

The link you cite indicates that "The Supreme Court never reached the equal protection claims. Nonetheless, this case is sometimes incorrectly cited as holding that corporations, as juristic persons, are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment." The opinion often cited as precedent was only in the court reporter's summation of the case in the headnotes. In actuality, the court declined to address the question of whether or not the Fourteenth Amendment applied to corporations. Therefore, it is erroneous to assume, as many people do, that this case sets precedent on the issue of corporate "personhood."

Tim, Thanks for your link to the Greenwald commentary. He has a point that the decision has precedent, but there is still the issue of the influence of money over government that we as a country are grappling with.

If campaign finance reform and restrictions are irrelevant, if money can be equated with speech, and as long as we grant corporations personhood status no matter what harms they may exact over a community, their workers, or the economy at large, then we need to find another way to get hold of this influence. A mandated shorter campaign season would be a start. Would this also be seen as a restriction of free speech? Can we not balance free speech with improving the function of society? Does campaigning have a track record of halting policy making, of diverting resources from better causes, including the promotion of businesses?

I realize that we are in accord somewhat

GG argues that today's case simply amplifies precedent and I think GG has too much respect for precedent here. At some point the country has to reverse its extension of "personhood" to corporations or the democracy is indeed doomed, if it isn't already.

I'm wondering what suggestions people have for reversing this trend?

KO does hit on something in the close of his comment. His reference to the dark ages may seem like hyperbole, but I think it opens up a can of worms for another topic.

Corporatism is another version of feudalism, in my outlook. The heads of corporations hire underlings for a relative pittance. If the bigwigs at the company screw up, they rarely take the hit; the hard working hourly and low salaried lose out: stock portfolio busts, benefits cut, and/or they lose their jobs altogether. If the company is large enough to exert influence beyond its physical walls and business dealings (Goldman Sachs, for example), others who were convinced to ride their gravy trained are also in the ranks of the screwed; hell, even those who avoided jumping aboard may fall victim to the company's dealings. Will the corporation(s) hire an army to protect the underlings? F no; but they will make will make sure that their upper level talent escapes relatively unscathed.

Even though I feel that there are a number of economic systems at work in this country - capitalism, socialism, corporatism and other forms of feudalism (gangs, sweatshops, predatory lending, and pyramid schemes) - I feel that the latter is posing the most danger at present. Corporations as persons are more interested in their bottom lines (read: covering their asses) than contributing to society; often more than producing a quality product. It's past time that society confronts this nasty creep.

Corporations as persons are more interested in their bottom lines (read: covering their asses) than contributing to society; often more than producing a quality product. It's past time that society confronts this nasty creep.

This is pretty much the way one of my students put it. If we admit corporations as "persons", then we've let in a pack of sociopaths.

and we're reaping what we've sown.

We can put them on Trial for murder if they are individuals, right?

Who all gets the death Penalty, that's the big question, I guess.

Corporations are not people. Yet, this ruling has given corporations a ranking as a favored class, since they collectively control vastly more wealth than even massive groups of individuals, who are now regarded as an unfavored class.

It is the supreme court's responsibility to protect unfavored classes, which it failed to do with Dredd Scott and has failed to do now.

The only way I can see to fix this problem is to amend the constitution to define that a person for the purpose of any consitutional interpretation is NOT a corporation or other government tax construct, and then replace the corporate spending limitations under taxation law.

What Fox and MSNBC are doing needs to be curtailed. It is the job of news agencies to report news unbiasedly.

Also, it is insane to argue in favor of a ruling merely because "things can't possibly get any worse." That is not the future I want for my children. We CAN make the world better, we DO it every day, and we WILL not stop.

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