Friday, January 22, 2010

Supreme Court Addresses THE WRONG PROBLEM!

Does anyone else notice a certain "light headed" sensation after the Supreme Court decision announced today? (January 21, 2009) You should. Another seriously major foundation stone of your civil liberties has been painlessly extracted by the neo-con monkeys masquerading as Supreme Court Justices.

Has good old MeanMesa careened off the road again? Hardly. During the autocracy, the W's fear campaign persuaded the Congress to dump the centuries old habeas corpus idea in favor the would-be-dictator's unending appetite for total domination of the country. In that case, since most of the hill billies and bigots who comprised his mindless base couldn't even begin to understand the change, the W was able to herd his evil scheme through -- completely under the head lamps of a discredited corporate media entirely complicit with his plan.

However, this latest outrage by the Supreme Court Neo-Cons is so stinky that not even an uninterested citizenry and an utterly corrupted media can provide much cover. Let's get to some specifics.

The Original Court Case

The whole affair emerged from a bit of a tantrum from a group named Citizens United. This unimaginative piglet was the unholy progeny of a bunch of neo-con corporatist dollars and a dismally unsuccessful clutch of "film folk," perhaps the remnants of an ersatz company of hymn writers for late night, dirty shirt preachers. Citizens United made an almost entirely fallacious film about Hillary Clinton to be broadcast during the 2008 primary campaign which, they hoped, would keep the W's half witted base on fire a little longer.

The Election Commission ruled that the film was so much an amateur political contrivance that it amounted to a campaign contribution. As such it was, they argued, subject to the campaign rule that required a disclosure of the funding sources which had sponsored the thing. Citizen United's corporate masters, already embarrassed by the incredibly meat handed "bad craftsmanship" of the piece, ordered that the names of the film's "money people" remain secret.

They claimed that it was a First Amendment, free speech matter.

Long story short, the case made the perilous journey to the neo-con Supreme Court. The specific decision being sought was whether the film was to be protected as "free speech" or if it were so outrageously corporatist  and political that it had to be considered a "campaign contribution."

As one might expect, the neo-cons on the Court expanded the question so it then came to focus on whether there was any limit whatsoever to the amount of money that corporations could spend -- not as direct gifts to a candidate's campaign -- but to create "side show" "public service" material such as the Hillary Clinton film and broadcast it, paying the costs outside the regulations of the election laws.

The Decision

Naturally, the five neo-con ideologues -- activist judges of the lowest calibre, appointed by Republicans -- voted in favor of the corporate interests. The extremely unsettling ramification of the decision was that corporations are people, enjoying the entire Bill of Rights protection to freedom of speech as defined in the First Amendment to our Constitution.

Although the traditional limit on campaign contributions ($2,300 for an individual, natural PERSON) remained in place, the decision made legal absolutely any amount of money spent on the "side show" material by anyone with the ambition to spend money in such a manner to overwhelm an otherwise democratic election. Any otherwise democratic election.

What exactly does this mean? If you, an idealistic MeanMesa visitor, canvass door to door among your neighbors to raise money for your favorite candidate, and, as a result, you are able to proudly deposit $200 in his campaign war chest for the purchase of a few television ads, it is entirely legal for the Acme Chinese Crap and Trinket Corporation to show up with a nice check for $100 million and launch its own campaign for your candidate's sleazy, neo-con competitor.

If anyone complains, the Acme Chinese Crap and Trinket Corporation can simply chuckle, saying "Because our corporation is actually a person, it enjoys the absolute protection of the First Amendment's free speech clause. We can do whatever the hell we wish. So screw off."

Further, it now -- after this decision -- no longer matters if the Acme Chinese Crap and Trinket Corporation is, quietly, a joint venture between some greasy little neo-con puppet company in Delaware and General Xang, the Peoples Liberation Army's torture, execution and penitentiary organ removal program's military supervisor -- the man who actually authorized the $100 million dollar check. General Xang intends to "take down" your candidate, and this Supreme Court thinks that's just fine.

The neo-fascists in the Supreme Court have decided, once and for all, that this is precisely what the founding fathers had in mind for our Constitution and our country. Nice, huh?

Benito Mussolini was the last famous example of such a decision that corporations were people and that they had just as much business directing the course of government that ordinary citizens, actual people, did. The idea sucked swamp water then, and this crappy decision sucks swamp water now.

However, General Xang and Mussolini aside, we can frame this threat in more readable terms. Let's say that there is a Congressional candidate who says big banks should pay back their TARP money. He has raised $200,000 for his campaign, and it looks good for him to win.

Then the Hugeolicus Bank and Risk Everything Group decides that it will finance 1,000 television ads and six full length, exciting Hollywood movies about what a jerk he is. Total cost? Say the bill runs $100 million dollars. This sounds like a lot of money, but should this candidate actually become a Congressman, his insistence on collecting the TARP account will amount to $20 BILLION dollars. Hugeolicus, very reasonably, sees the $100 million as an excellent investment.

It is yet another outrage inflicted on Americans by the W's autocracy -- especially the nasty Supreme Court Justices he slithered through the Senate. What a joke. We all thought that they had "paid back" for the favor in full when they appointed him President in 2000!

The Dissent

Rather than rehash all the comments made about the decision, MeanMesa will offer the following links to some fairly balanced, immediate responses to the ruling. The entire majority and dissenting opinions are also on the web for MeanMesa visitors who would like to take a look at them. Most rational Americans -- conservatives and liberals alike -- are so freaked out about this that they are jumping out of their boxer shorts.

An Voice of America article offered some of the text of the ruling. Here are a few samples of what both neo-con and more progressive voices had to say.

Conservative and libertarian groups welcomed the Supreme Court decision, including Steve Simpson with the Institute for Justice.  He spoke to reporters in front of the Supreme Court.

"The Supreme Court recognized today that the purpose of the First Amendment is to allow individuals and Americans to speak out as loudly and as robustly as they please," he said. "That applies whether an individual chooses to speak out alone or whether he chooses to associate with others and speak out as a group."

The court's liberal four-member minority opposed the change.  In his written dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said the ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation.

A written statement from President Obama at the White House said the high court's decision opens the way to a stampede of special interest money in American politics.

Among those speaking out in opposition was Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York.

"Today's ruling, decided by the slimmest of majorities, guts our system of free and fair elections," he said. "The bottom line is this.  The Supreme Court has just predetermined the winners of next November's elections.  It won't be Republicans.  It won't be Democrats.  It will be corporate America."


Bob Edgar is president of the monitoring group Common Cause: 

"We need to recognize that money has influenced the debate here in Washington for too long," said Edgar.  "All you have to do is look at the housing crisis, the investment crisis, the banking crisis.  Even this health care debate was already tainted by how much money had flooded into the system.  The elected officials in the House and Senate are going to end up serving special interests even more than they do today and not the public's interest."

For additional information, MeanMesa encourages interested visitors to also review the following commentary.

From Forbes:
From the Wall Street Journal:
From the Christian Science Monitor:
For a complete text of the ruling:

The Mistaken Certainty

Now, all of this might be seen as little more than a fundamental disagreement between authoritarian neo-cons and progressive liberals, but MeanMesa sees a foundational difficulty with the entire debate. Perhaps the flash and fury of the different views obscures this rather troubling foundation. It is upon this foundational question -- the reliance upon an accepted, yet unacceptable axiom -- that the discussion should be addressed.

What, exactly,  is the mistaken certainty?

It seems that all parties offering opinions about the decision have already jumped over an otherwise strikingly difficult conclusion. It is that conclusion, not the superficial arguments about the legitimacy of various ways to pursue it which reaches the status of a MeanMesa Mistaken Certainty.

All these positions are based on the idea that having enough money will win any election.

Once this idea is accepted as fact, the Supreme Court's ruling heralds a political environment where corporations, entities which, by definition, have both extravagant and available money and utterly self-serving ideas, are empowered to dependably deliver whatever candidates they wish into the government. The ugly proposition has a strong and convincing basis in fact when we look at the results of corporate money already.

The health care reform debate is an excellent example. Health insurance corporate money has hosted all those ambitious to be obstacles. The up and coming struggle for banking regulation will be the next case of corporate interests against everybody else's interests. Beyond that, legislation to limit carbon emissions will follow along the same path of combat.

However, are we -- or should we -- be willing to accept the idea that the ideas expressed by a politician during a campaign have such little value? Perhaps we should.  Perhaps we have to! In fact, campaigns present very little in the way of actual ideas, and the resulting competition of ideas between them seems to have far less to do with the outcome than what we could derive from the size of their respective campaign war chests.

If we want to know who will win, we look at how much cash he has raised. In fact, when we wish to know which is the better candidate, we measure him by how much money he has to spend of his campaign, not on the quality of ideas which direct his politics. We have begun to settle for campaigns where actual ideas are rather rare, accepting instead drifty generalities about "liberty," freedom," "security," "hope," "change" and "progress."

Good ideas should "trump" lots of money when it comes to winning a political campaign. However, this simple equation disintegrates when the voters participating in that campaign don't demand ideas or even know or realize whether any have been presented.

Then the corporate money -- which should already stink from the beginning -- becomes as good as gold.

1 comment:

  1. The Supreme Court seems to be asleep at the wheel. these are decisions that change history and destiny; and these stooges shouldn't be given that power over our future; based on their past history.