Terrible news? Well, maybe...

Jeff Golden

Picture 12 I'm just back from a huge rock n' roll fundraiser for Haiti relief here in Ashland.  Ran into a few progressives who were in full-blown grief.  Not about Haiti, but about today's Supreme Court decision sanctifying unfettered bribery in Congress.

  The elimination of all limitations on corporate contributions is stunning in the perversity of its timing:  on the heels of the process we've watched over climate change and health care legislation, throwing the gates open to more, much more corporate money in politics sounds like a sick joke.  Or perhaps George Bush's farewell gift to America.

  So here's my shot at a silver lining: we now have the opportunity to abandon the whole enterprise of limiting campaign contributions, which is just too hampered by legal vulnerabilities and loopholes to ever be effective.  Remember the gyrations that led to the ugly camel of McCain-Feingold, and how much confusion and how little improvement came out of it?  With all the existing constraints (even without today's decision), I seriously I doubt that an effective federal law to limit contributions could be passed and sustained. 

  So now we're free to put all our energy for this issue into the other alternative: public financing.  My understanding is that it's legally bulletproof as long as it's voluntary.  Which would make our key task to persuade a critical mass of people to withhold their votes for candidates who won't run with public funding;  not a cakewalk, but more promising than any other approach I can see.  If you think we're too far away from building sufficient support for public financing, see if this essential site cheers you up.

  If you know a better strategy, please share with the class.

Comments

  • Tim Riley (unverified)
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    Better yet... redefine corporations as "artificial persons" without human rights granted by the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Corporate entities are legal entities and not people. They do not deserve the right to free speech, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They are near-immortal, amoral, economic machines and they should not be allowed to take over our nation, as they will if legislative change is not made before the next election. This is really urgent as hundreds of millions of dollars will overwhelm any candidate, regardless of whether that candidate is publicly financed.

    http://site.pfaw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=media_2010_01_pfaw_calls_for_constitutional_amendment

  • David (unverified)
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    The Supreme Court decision also opens the door for labor unions, not just corporations. Also, they will not be able to contribute unlimited amounts directly to a candidate, but may spend what they please on behalf of a candidate. The money must be disclosed as well.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    It's a victory for advocates of the First Amendment. Sorry that some people believe in denying it to political opponents.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Tim Riley (unverified)
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    Labor Unions are not people either. Why let corporations and unions make unlimited expenditures in one-sided campaigns without any controls from the candidates or without any accountability for exaggerations and outright lies promulgated on the night before the election.

    It does not make sense to give an amoral economic machine the right to say and pay anything to preserve profits made by electing corporate candidates unaccountable to voters overwhelmed with PR deceptions just prior to an election. Allowing deep-pocketed corporations to say and do anything the night before an election is not a victory for free speech.

    Let corporations operate within the law; don't let them elect the legislators who will make the law for them. don't let BIG money with PR campaigns win over honest candidates with good ideas that would benefit the people. Take the immortal, amoral economic engines out of the political game by denying them the rights reserved for human beings. http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/145331/really_simple%3A_we_need_to_get_rid_of_the_perverse_notion_of_%22corporate_personhood%22/

  • Jim Labbe (unverified)
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    Interesting. I agree that focusing on public financing is a good approach.

    But perhaps the Supreme Court decision is also a reason to redouble our efforts at election reform that modernizes our democracy with strategies that put people back into politics.

    To me, that might start with fusion voting and then move on to instant run-off or preference voting. Both will reduce winner take-all politics and give more power and meaning to the individual's choice at the ballot box. That would be a start in getting more people engaged.

    Campaign finance reform will always be an uphill battle. But putting people back into politics is the best and most sustainable strategy for keeping money out of it, or at least limiting its influence.

    As Aristotle wrote centuries ago, "If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost."

    Jim

  • db (unverified)
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    Would it be possible to define political expenditures as not tax-deductible? My biggest worry is that corporations will call their political expenditures as "business expenses" and thus deduct them.

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    You are wrong to think that public funding of campaigns is legally bulletproof. Federal district court in Arizona recently struck down the provision of Arizona's law that provides a candidate with an increment of funds, should her privately financed opponent exceed a certain threshold in spending. Thus, privately funded candidates in Arizona will now be able to vastly outspend the publicly funded ones, and the state cannot make up any part of the difference. This is based on another U. S. Supreme Court decision from last year, Davis v. FEC. In addition, the U.S. District Court of Connecticut struck down that state's public funding system, because it discriminated against minor party candidates.

    Anything that takes away the ability of moneyed interests to buy elections will be struck down by the present Supreme Court. The answer is to enlarge the Court by 2 members, which can be done (and has been done 8 times) by Congress. See www.packthecourt.com.

  • Greg D. (unverified)
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    Remember the scene at the end of the "Lord of the Rings" where the Elves, recognizing that their time has passed, all board the ship and sail into the sunset?

    I am inclined to believe that in the United States the age of the individual, and in particular the individual political activist, has passed. It may be time to board the ship and sail into the sunset.

    Or perhaps our corporate masters can just open some camps where troubled individual thinkers can be retrained and have their thoughts corrected to the path of right thinking. Just Do It!

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    I believe David's comment above is correct; the long-standing restriction against direct corporate or union contributions to political candidates remains for federal elections (the Oregon Supreme Court ruled this limitation unconstitutional for state and local elections years ago).

    Basically, this ruling simply overturns the restrictions on independent exenditures that were included in McCain-Feingold, which many of us believed all along was unconstitutional.

    Although the ruling dealt specifically with corporations, everyone agrees it applies to unions as well. It is not quite the radical change that's being touted.

    Curiously, if the case had involved Michael Moore's Farenheit 911 (which came out just before the 1984 election) instead of Dick Morris's hit piece on Hillary Clinton, I wonder if the reaction would have been the same--on either side.

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    Jeff, your childish view of this, representative of what is so wrong with so many people in this country but particularly in the NW, is not optimism or trying to turn lemons into lemonade. It's denying reality at all costs to others and society, trying desperately to figure out a selfish angle (ie.g. an illusion that let's one maintain his or her personal reality to whatever disadvantage that causes others), rather than grow up and take genuine political responsibility.

    Public financing is a childish, escapist illusion. You can't mandate everyone do it and frankly, the kind of people who try to make this a signature statement of their political values in this time and in this culture are not competent to govern. M66 and M67 at best are going to pass by a slim majority, rather than by the mandate they should, because the escapist mindset you bespeak has elevated incompetent, selfish, dumb people to governance. I've met many of them and they are personable enough, many of them even have degrees from some of the most elite educational institutions in the country. Only a handful of them are wise people with a high level of talent for governance, and that handful are not the people the majority who share the mindset you argue for here speak highly of or even know: They are not back-slapping self-interested politicians who get elected from our side of the aisle by flattering the egos of those left in the active base, much less the electoral majority on our side.

    The reality of yesterday's decision is that it's fundamentally corrupt. The intellectual dishonesty in Kennedy's key quote is papable:

    Distinguishing wealthy individuals from corporations based on the latter's special advantages of e.g., limited liability, does not suffice to allow laws prohibiting free speech. It is irrelevant for First Amendment purposes that corporate funds may "have little or not correlation to the public's support for the corporation's political ideas." Austin, supra, at 660. All speakers including individuals and the media, use money amassed from the economic marketplace to fund their speech, and the First Amendment protects the resulting speech.

    He fraudulently represents the distinction between corporations and human beings as simply being one of special advantages rather than the fact corporations are not human beings, and therefore have no First Amendment rights on first principles. And it is not established precedent to this date that human beings can band together, in any form, to avoid the liability of defamation that is part and parcel of First Amendment rights or, as he even more audaciously asserts, that this flows logically from the First Amendment. His final conceit about individuals using money amassed from the economic marketplace is a total non-sequitur logically, apparently thrown in with the belief most would not recognize it as such.

    What the 5-4 majority has intentionally done here is to undermine respect for the rule of law in the heretofore meaning of the word "respect". By being intellectual dishonest in this way, their intent is to undermine genuine respect as a pretext to justify an authoritarian model of "respect" as "fear of the rule of law". Republican grassroots are fine with that because they are fearful cowering people who need that kind of authoritarian environment to control their anxiety. Libertarians have just become idiotic selfish freaks because a philosophy ultimately rooted in running away from society can't lead anyone to any political action except running away. (There, have I sufficiently offended across the spectrum so the idiots here can't shriek anyone who doesn't agree with their deluded reality isn't a progressive/liberal/Democrat whatever?)

    People like you need to grow up and recognize that you have to make a choice between supporting politicians because they pander to how people like you seek to run and hide to maintain your own personal selfish reality --- Wyden and Merkley fall into this category --- supporting leaders with guts, wisdom, and integrity (and recognizing they are few and far between, but lesser folks can be encouraged to strive for that standard). Wyden not only voted FOR Roberts, he defended Roberts, and he and his staff were obnoxious and critical of all of us who called, wrote, and talked to him that Roberts was as dishonest as the day is long in the confirmation hearings. Wyden was and is all about playing ball in DC and knowing how to tell the fool wing of the base here in Oregon what they wanted to hear to pump up their own egos and live in their own escapist reality. Merkley is not even that "talented", yet. But he proved he really liked that corporate-heavy DSCC money last time around, and in the wake of this ruling there's know reason to believe he won't learn very quickly as the DSCC quickly adapts as needed to raise much more of it.

    Brown's triumph in MA was already an example of the same kind of cynicism on the right. He was both used by power interests for their own selfish goals, and he used them for his own selfish goals. He was just lucky to have run against somebody who had been playing that kind of cynical game so long and well she thought she didn't even have to do show up to win.

    Wayne Morse was the last Democrat in Oregon that met that standard and we haven't had a Wayne Morse since then because the kind of whining, selfish, childish people haven't wanted someone who first tells them to quit whining and being so selfish and childish.

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    The element of this decision that is profoundly troubling is the extension of legal status of corporations as people. (Unions are treated differently under this larger legal definition, even if they are treated the same for the purposes of this ruling.) It should make conservatives panic as much as liberals, but for different reasons. With this ruling, the Supremes have given rights to non-Americans to exercise enormous influence over our elections. Corporations are not national citizens. They have none of the responsibilities that our citizens have, yet they have many of the rights. So now foreign entities may spend freely to pervert our policies.

    Jack, you asked about a Michael Moore movie (a poor example, because it was released in the theaters, but I get your point); let me put a different hypothetical to you: how would you feel having a multinational corporation heavily involved with, say, Hezbollah, spending millions to elect a slate of anti-Israel politians?

  • alcatross (unverified)
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    Jack Roberts commented: ...the Oregon Supreme Court ruled this limitation unconstitutional for state and local elections years ago

    Thanks for reminding us of this, Jack... Interesting to read all this hullabaloo here against this SCOTUS decision In the middle of an issue campaign where six (6) public employee unions have provided over 90% of the funding for the M66/67 proponents.

    I guess what's good for the goose isn't necessarily always good for the gander.

    (BTW, the YES campaign is out-spending the opposition 2 to 1...)

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    Interesting to read all this hullabaloo here against this SCOTUS decision In the middle of an issue campaign where six (6) public employee unions have provided over 90% of the funding for the M66/67 proponents.

    I guess what's good for the goose isn't necessarily always good for the gander.

    Alcatross, you're apparently example of the childish ignoramuses on the other side of the aisle, if this statement reflects your honest beliefs.

    The answer to your idiotic statement is that's because one's a goose and the other's a snake. Unions have a very different fiduciary obligation from corporations which makes it perfectly morally acceptable for unions to participate in elections (geese), just like it is perfectly morally permissible (but probably ill-advised) for employee PACS (geese, too), but not corporations (snakes). Unfortunately for snakes, if you can't chase them away with relatively little effort, you chop off their heads when their very poisonous presence is a threat to human welfare. You do your best to chase away pest geese by non-lethal means, so they can live for you to eat them another day if you are so inclined.

    And for those who have tried it, the meat of certain species of rattlesnakes can be pretty tasty too --- maybe because it doesn't taste like chicken or any fowl.

  • Janice Thompson (unverified)
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    Janice Thompson of Common Cause Oregon here with a few points.

    1) Limiting campaign contributions to ballot measure campaigns have consistently been found unconstitutional. The legal rationale behind contribution limits in candidate races relates to corruption or the appearance of corruption. In ballot measures the people are serving as law makers and the legal reasoning is that there isn't one person to potentially be corrupted by the contributions. I'm not saying that big contributions in ballot measure races isn't of concern and that is why we're tracking those dollars. But factoring them into a discussion of candidate campaign finance regulation isn't relevant from the legal perspective.

    2) No law is legally bulletproof and there are a range of permutations of public financing program design. This means that the legal concerns raised in the Davis case mentioned above can be addressed without throwing out the concept of public financing reform. The Davis case is another distressing example of judicial activism, but not a surprise as it and the Citizens United case illustrate that John Roberts' respect for precedent seems to depend on the topic.

    3) There is no one silver bullet solution. I agree with Jeff Golden that public financing is part of the solution. Changing the size of the Supreme Court didn't work for Roosevelt but is worth discussing. The Citizens United case may also be a tipping point in moving forward the work of activists against corporate personhood. It may be time for a constitutional amendment on this topic. An important point for me is that these ideas aren't mutually exclusive.

  • Jeff Golden (unverified)
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    Janice, this is an exceptionally clear, helpful post. Thank you.

  • rw (unverified)
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    I found it interesting that the Teabagger King, in an NPR evening interview, ranged up Unions right next to multinationals as the ones to benefit, trying to wipe away the point that, overwhelmingly, this decision will favor those with alignments to power and money, profit not populicsm. He attempted to posit an alignment via this decision between labor and megacorporations with a greater GDP than most nations, and many nations combined. While Unions once were pretty powerhouse, they have NEVER been THAT large. I found it to not be a slight mismatch such as Gala Apples vs. Pink Lady Apples... it was definitely Oranges and Rutabagas,to my mind.

    Somehow

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    Janice, a little help on one point. In explaining why limitations have been struck down for ballot measure campaigns, you write "In ballot measures the people are serving as law makers and the legal reasoning is that there isn't one person to potentially be corrupted by the contributions." OK, yeah. But isn't the damage to democratic deliberation obvious if, say, Fortune 500 companies have unlimited ability to buy spots opposing a ballot measure that would make taxes more progressive?

  • David Wright (unverified)
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    Very curious, the assertion that by invoking the First Amendment SCOTUS has elevated corporations (and, presumably, unions) to the status of "personhood".

    In particular, these comments:

    Corporate entities are legal entities and not people. They do not deserve the right to free speech Take the immortal, amoral economic engines out of the political game by denying them the rights reserved for human beings. [C]orporations are not human beings, and therefore have no First Amendment rights on first principles. The element of this decision that is profoundly troubling is the extension of legal status of corporations as people.

    Just to review, here's the full text of the First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Point #1, there is no "right to free speech" in this amendment. Congress is prohibited from making laws abridging speech. Big difference. In other words, the First Amendment grants no rights per se, but prohibits the government from interfering in assumed natural rights.

    Point #2, "people" are only mentioned in this amendment with regard to assembly and petitioning the government for redress of grievances. In fact, the mention of "freedom of speech" is grouped with "freedom of the press", which clearly would apply both to individuals and companies (corporate or otherwise). The First Amendment is about checks on government, not about granting rights to humans or even citizens.

    So tying back to point #1, when SCOTUS enforces the prohibition against government interference in free speech, that has everything to do with keeping government in check, and virtually nothing to do with whom or what government was abridging.

    There are many other ancillary issues that could certainly be argued, chief among them whether money equals speech (which is a concern whether you're talking about organizations or individuals). But this ruling doesn't seem to do what so many people here are worried that it does.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Public financing, voters getting independent data from reliable sources, not the corporate controlled major outlets, and regular use of strikes and boycotts.

    It could just work. Education has to be key, and people can't continue to be so bone lazy. Ultimately corporate America's campaign to make everyone a fat, uneducated, naive mom or dad, has tilted the playing field to the point that it may be too late.

    This is also happening in the context that almost everywhere else in the world is getting better. The US and Russia have become like old sparring partners turned drinking buddies turned sad alcoholics. The rest of the world is moving forward and progressively so.

    I think the more realistic scenario is that the US increasingly expects everyone else in the world to put up with you crap, and when they don't we'll try to kill them, like we did the people of Iraq. Eventually they'll win. That's the only silver lining I see.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    "our crap", obviously. Interesting that random cat steps produced "you". She's taking this leopard party stuff seriously.

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    Jack, you asked about a Michael Moore movie (a poor example, because it was released in the theaters, but I get your point); let me put a different hypothetical to you: how would you feel having a multinational corporation heavily involved with, say, Hezbollah, spending millions to elect a slate of anti-Israel politians?

    With Voltaire, I would disagree with their purpose but defend their right to do it.

  • Janice Thompson (unverified)
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    Jeff G. - I'm not saying I agree with the legal reasoning regarding contributions to ballot measure campaigns, just explaining that discussions of campaign finance reform regarding candidates and ballot measures are two very different topics from a legal perspective.

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    I've been musing about the consequences of re-directing corporate political donations. First off, it seems that the parties will suffer immediately. Second, it seems that PACs will also suffer.

    The worst possible result is that religious organizations are corporations. Although they are subsidized via tax exemptions, if the rationale of the court's "free speech" decision holds true for all then religious corporations will also start giving directly to candidates. Unfortunately will be subsidizing the inception of theocracy in America and the end of separation of church and state.

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    Oh, and the other question is what will happen to lobby outfits? If all the major donors are giving directly to candidates, what is there left for the lobby to do? They will be hampered in their main business of bundling money from various sources for donation as they see fit -- or will they?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "With all the existing constraints (even without today's decision), I seriously I doubt that an effective federal law to limit contributions could be passed and sustained."

    You're probably right on this, Jeff. As a nation we just don't seem to have the intelligence and the ethical standards to create a fair, democratic (note the small 'd') system in the political arena. We do have a model, however, that refutes the First Amendment argument. That is, the rules of parliamentary procedure used in Congress, state legislatures and many other organizations. With rare exceptions, members restrain their desire to speak in conformity with the rules. On the other hand, try going to a hearing conducted by some committee in the senate or the house and exercising your "freedom of speech" while ignoring the chairman's gavel and objections and see how much help the first amendment is to you when you are carted off to jail and charged with some crime.

    "So now we're free to put all our energy for this issue into the other alternative: public financing. My understanding is that it's legally bulletproof as long as it's voluntary. Which would make our key task to persuade a critical mass of people to withhold their votes for candidates who won't run with public funding; not a cakewalk, but more promising than any other approach I can see. "

    The Brits used to have a system that wasn't as bribe-oriented as ours, but they seem to be lowering themselves to our standards. It still comes back to that legendary event after the Constitution Convention when someone asked Ben Frankling what they had wrought. His response: "A republic, if you can keep it." Well, we haven't done a very good job keeping it a democratic republic, have we?

    As for the unions, perhaps if corporations weren't spending so much to destroy them and their members unions would be happy to spend les of their funds on political campaigns.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Lee, lobbyists do more than just hand over envelopes of money. Though they are indeed the Bag Men of politics in a certain way, or, perhaps, more exactly, the middleman/influence-peddling launderers.... there are those who also are tasked to actually SPEAK, to dialog on behalf of this group view or that. And many businesses may lack the ability to research, contact and so forth - so the middle man who aggregates the contact lists and summaries will still have a place, one thinks.

  • Tim McCafferty (unverified)
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    Posted by: Bob Tiernan | Jan 22, 2010 12:53:41 AM

    It's a victory for advocates of the First Amendment. Sorry that some people believe in denying it to political opponents.

    Bob Tiernan Portland ///////////////////

    I always like to hear from those true conservative Liberians at times like these. I remember the fuss put on about Reverend Moon owning the Washington Times, and Republicans poo-pooing the scream.

    I wonder the sound they are going to make when it's time to explain why the Chinese Communist Party should wish to invest in American Politicians of their choice. Maybe Mommar Kadafi can find a Governor's race to buy, and finally get that property to put his tent.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Jack Roberts:

    Curiously, if the case had involved Michael Moore's Farenheit 911 (which came out just before the 1984 election) instead of Dick Morris's hit piece on Hillary Clinton, I wonder if the reaction would have been the same--on either side.

    Bob T:

    Certainly. Note that those in the majority on this one ruled that all were protected, rather than smacking down big bad corporations just to be able to shut up the unions as well.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Russ Feingold (of Feingold-McCain) and others have interesting related articles at counterpunch dot org. Paul Craig Roberts, former under-secretary in the Reagan administration has an article on health care in which he notes the ominous presence of corporations.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Jeff Alworth:

    Jack, you asked about a Michael Moore movie (a poor example, because it was released in the theaters, but I get your point)

    Bob T:

    Since when does a film (documentary or any other kind) need to be shown in theaters in order to earn that designation?

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • andy (unverified)
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    What is it with the idiot liberals and their fear of all things corporate? All you need to form a corporation is to fill out a form and mail in a few bucks. Doesn't change who you are or what you believe in just because you signed your name on a form and created a corporation.

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    Minimizing how this SCOTUS decision will effect US politics is a mistake. Consider a few numbers. Total candidate spending in the 2008 presidential elections was $1.7 billion. That doubled the old record. One corporation, Exxon Mobil, had $45.2 billion in profit that year - profit that is greatly effected by federal law and policy. Exxon Mobil could have equaled total campaign spending with less than 4% of its post tax profits!

    That is one corporation. Consider the other energy corps, financial corps, pharmaceutical manufacturers, big ag, weapons manufacturers, media corps, etc. The potential flood of political money is enormous.

    There is no way without limiting contributions that public financing can compete with corporate money, even if political spending is not deductible. Voters already bristle at "welfare for politicians." Imagine the prospect of billions of dollars in tax money going to candidates instead of schools, roads, and healthcare. There is also no way that unions can generate enough money to compete.

    Claiming that the First Amendment mandates this decision is ludicrous. The resulting damage to democratic governance will make yelling "fire" in a crowded theater seem a trivial prank.

    I think Meek has it right. Enlarging SCOTUS with the aim of reversing this judicial coup may be the only way to preserve what is left of the republic.

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    After thinking it over I'm not sure this will change things all that much. Corporations already control Washington through lobbying, campaign contributions, PACs and front organizations like FreedomWatch; they'll just be able to be more open about it now. And that might be a good thing, if they're foolish enough to openly identify themselves. Would people be more or less likely to vote for a candidate if Goldman Sachs was identified as paying for his ads?

    The only real solution, of course, is to reduce the role of money in politics by enacting campaign spending limits -- but that won't fly until a couple of the right-wingers on the court die or resign.

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    andy,

    Like most conservatives, you are unable to think beyond duality: good/evil, capitalism/socialism, white/black. Calling those with more sophisticated thinking "idiots" does not make you look smart, it only makes your limits more apparent.

    As for me, I frickin' love corporations. Some of my favorite toys are made by corporations. I just do not want corporations running my country.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "After thinking it over I'm not sure this will change things all that much. "

    Juan Cole at juancole dot com has similar thoughts, but John Dean at truthdig dot com is more concerned. The latter has links to the court's decision (183 pages) and other points of related interest.

  • verasoie (unverified)
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    I prefer Alan Grayson's approach: tax the contributions into oblivion, with a 500% excise tax. Taxing something doesn't make it illegal, just discourages it.

  • Brian Collins (unverified)
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    One of the things that troubles me about the consequences of this SC decision is that corporations and unions will be able to spend unlimited amounts on advertising, but contribution limits still strictly limit the ability of inidividuals to give to candidates. So an individual could give millions to a nonprofit to attack a candidate, but could not give millions to a candidate so they can respond. My fear is that candidates will effectively lose control of their campaign messages because they will not have the resources to get their message out, becaue it will all go to nonprofits that have no limits.

    Given the horrible state of supreme court jurisprudence on campaign finance law, I am wondering if it would be better for the nation to have a system like Oregon's, where we have no limits on contributions to candidates, but a very strong, transparent reporting system (all contributions must be reported online no more than 7 days after they are received).

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    Color Me Green: M66 and M67 at best are going to pass by a slim majority, rather than by the mandate they should, because the escapist mindset you bespeak has elevated incompetent, selfish, dumb people to governance.

    Elucidate please--It was the people that govern, the legislature, who passed the laws that the business lobby has since tried to reject via M66/67. How could those who govern increase the chances of passage of 66/67? Even if the entire legislature was Dem and had voted to pass the legislation 100% the other side would still have collected signatures and brought it to the ballot---how is that the legislature's fault?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Minimizing how this SCOTUS decision will effect US politics is a mistake."

    The bankruptcy of Air America, noted on Kari's thread that follows this chronologically, should add perspective to the arguments about people's activity on the Internet offsetting corporate spending. This is true to some extent, but the overwhelming resources available to corporations definitely tilt the playing field in their favor.

    Fortunately, there is consolation in knowing, as the Pledge of Allegiance tells us, that we are one nation, ..., indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Yeah, right.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Jeff, I totally missed the fact that multi-nationals (and let's also talk about the interlocking boardrooms featuring all the standard Gatekeepers, if you want some of that old-timey Malcolm X thought leadership that can be retooled for new and niftier words, but still holds....) now have a formalized nod from the Judiciary to do as they please so long as they are minimally holding hands with someone on this side of the citizenship line.

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    Under the SCOTUS ruling, the next president may be chosen by the Saudi royal family. The Chinese government may decide whether chair of the US Senate finance committee is reelected. Vladimir Putin may find it easier to effect US behavior by threatening the reelection of the Congressional foreign relations committees than the Soviets ever did with their massive military.

  • JJ Ferguson (unverified)
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    Bill, as mentioned on the FB thread by someone, you can kiss net neutrality good-bye.

    The Saudis don't have to choose the Pres, because he doesn't run the show, and they already control those that do.

    This ruling casts violent civil disobedience in a new light, does it not?

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    Color Me Green: M66 and M67 at best are going to pass by a slim majority, rather than by the mandate they should, because the escapist mindset you bespeak has elevated incompetent, selfish, dumb people to governance. Elucidate please--It was the people that govern, the legislature, who passed the laws that the business lobby has since tried to reject via M66/67. How could those who govern increase the chances of passage of 66/67? Even if the entire legislature was Dem and had voted to pass the legislation 100% the other side would still have collected signatures and brought it to the ballot---how is that the legislature's fault?

    Ms. Mel Harmon, I can't tell if you're question is serious or not, but you might want to work on the snarky NW tone problem you have like too many limp Oregon "progressives". I will answer give you an answer, though, for you to stew on.

    The Oregon electorate is fairly evenly divided between Democrats whose activist base are navel-gazing escapists; Republicans whose activist base are fear-driven headcases; and NAVs whose loud-mouthed segment (can't have an activist base when you don't stand for anything) are smug dimwits. Get it? Pretty evenly divided --- so left to their own devices, the electorate will generally not accomplish much.

    In case you were sleeping in civics class, we have a representative form of governance. The kind of people who have chosen to put themselves forward for "leadership" are really good at being pandering politicians to that divided electorate. And absolutely too incompetent, stupid, and selfish to actually lead, as the close margin on M66 and M67 proves.

    Leadership is the ability to inspire the electorate to do the right thing, such as support M66 and M67 by a 10% or so margin. Being an imcompetent, stupid, selfish pandering politician that plays to the activist bases and who throws up his or her hands when the election results don't exceed the low expectations one has for the activist segment of the Oregon electorate. (And in case you STILL don't get it, I assure you, support for M66&M67 is not straight party line or even class based.)

  • (Show?)

    You know, my initial reaction was that Jake's note re. the Saudi royals was a bit over the top; but then there's this:

    "[T]he largest shareholder in News Corp., Fox's parent company, was none other than Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud of Saudi Arabia."

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    Now David Wright and Bob Tiernan, I don't know whether either or both of you are Libertarians, or just pretend to be so. Your arguments at least demonstrate why you gotta love Libertarians for their rabid support for civil rights, and you have to give them props for TRYING to make reasoned arguments, but you gotta keep a short leash on them because they are just plain rabid and it's gone to their brains.

    David, your goal is to find a hyper-technical way to read the First Amendment that allows you to speak positively about this intellectually dishonest decision. Unfortunately, the problem is you are either intellectually dishonest yourself, or just an obtuse idiot to think a specific hypertechnical reading which favors your goal has ANY validity. Here's how an person of average intellect CORRECTLY parses the First:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (by whom?), or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (by whom?); or abridging the freedom of speech (by whom), or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    And of course, we find the missing subjects of those phrases right there at the start of the Constitution: We the People of the United States in Order to form a more Perfect Union, blah, blah, blah..

    Now, hyper-technical but mentally challenged David and Bob, there also is no mention of Corporations in the standard version of Constitution. I suppose the super-secret Revised Standard Libertarian Version could have a mention of them in there somewhere, just to clarify what the Founders really meant don't you know, but I prefer to stay away from cultish re-stylings of fundamental documents. So in the real world, corporations don't have any Constitutional rights that Congress has to respect.

    Corporations are statutory creations and what Congress giveth, Congress can take away if it has the balls. In this case, Congress has given corporations or people who the right to bring corporations into existence, which perforce includes the ability to "speak", as well as a shield from liability for specific reasons. It is well established Congress has the absolute right to limit commercial speech by corporations in a way they cannot limit speech by real human beings. Furthermore, Congress has the arbitrary right to silence corporations by preventing or ending their existence, something Congress can't do to human beings. So corporations in truth have no Constitutional rights at all. None.

    And before you get any not-so-clever ideas, since the Court has said money is speech and endorsed the right of corporations to spend money/speak, since in corporations individuals don't own the corporation's money, the corporation does, it is the speech of the corporation to which the Court has unconstitutionally given First Amendment protection.

    In the face of those irrefutable facts, the Court majority in their intellectually dishonest decision did not actually cite a Constitutional basis, and certainly did not engage in hyper-technical Constitutional analysis, for their bald-faced subversion of our Constitution.

    In this decision, they are daring Congress and the people to do stand up to them, just like Bush who appointed two of them did. Congress didn't then and there is little reason to suspect most of those in their now. The majority just saw a gravy train and the path to life-time tenure open up to them. The biggest problem they are going to have is becoming venal enough to fight off even more venal people who want their seats. You'd think a Libertarian would worry we have exactly the opposite of what the Founders intended: A cowering Congress, an imperial, ultra-activist, right-wing, non-elected Court, and a President who has imperial status at his disposal (but who actually seems to be another example of skilled politician but incompetent leader who cannot even exercise power sparingly and responsibly.)

    So David and Bob T., if you want to continue to spout your particular childish, anti-social Libertarian sophistry, you might want to think about doing it somewhere where you won't look so damn stupid.

    Oh, and don't forget, Wyden voted for and aggressively (nastily) defended Roberts when the Democratic base in Oregon was calling on him to reject Roberts. Wonder what kind of promises Roberts actually gave Ron privately? He sure hasn't abided by the public promises Ron petulantly castigated critics for challenging.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    Oh my, oh my! Color Me Green has certainly put me in my place! And the current Legislature as well. How will we ever recover from his scintillating wit and sharp tongue?!

    Hey CMG---as long as you are looking into your crystal ball, tell me who's going to win the Democratic Primary for Governor, okay? Here's a fact that seems to have escaped your attention---the ELECTION IS TUESDAY. So we don't know by what margin 66/67 will/won't pass until that evening at least. It could well be over 10%--who knows?!

    And the legislature DID lead, you inane twit. They lead by cutting the budget where they could and then passing legislation to balance the budget via moderate tax increases on businesses and wealthier individuals. Then the business lobby used the initiative process to try and undo what the legislature did.

    By the way, you do realize when you state that we have a "representative form of government" in one breath and then call those very representatives "incompetent", "selfish", "dim-witted", "stupid" and "headcases" that you are actually slamming not only yourself but every other Oregonian in the state, don't you?

    The legislature is a representative body---so yes, there are some that are self-serving and selfish. But there are some---I would argue the majority---that serve because they truly want to make a difference. They want to try and improve the state they live in not only for themselves but for everyone.

    As for the legislators leading on the ballot measures themselves, most I know have been canvassing, phonebanking and talking to their constituents to make the case for the legislatures budgetary decisions, explaining why they were made and why passing the measures are so important and how/why the measures will affect the lives of all Oregonians, their constituents included. You know---LEADING people to vote YES.

    How about this? Since you clearly know better than everyone else, why not state your real name here and tell us what public office you have or currently hold or for which office you are going to be running soon---because clearly if you know so damn much and are so much better informed and more intelligent than the current crop of representatives it would be a shame for you to deny the people in your district and state the benefit of your experience and judgment. So, put up or shut up. I'm tired of idiots blaming the legislature for these ballot measures.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "By the way, you do realize when you state that we have a "representative form of government" in one breath and then call those very representatives "incompetent", "selfish", "dim-witted", "stupid" and "headcases" that you are actually slamming not only yourself but every other Oregonian in the state, don't you?"

    There's some truth to this, Ms. Mel, but not entirely so. Our choice for the most part is limited to what the Democratic and Republican parties give us, and that is often a chance to decide which we perceive to be the lesser evil.

    We can vote for some other candidate, but the herd mentality ensures that our vote will count for nothing more than a protest. In your list of categories of politicians you left out the corporate and Likud Party accomplices who appear to form the largest groups of candidates. But there is no doubt at the national level there are more than a few who are "incompetent", "selfish", "dim-witted", "stupid" and "headcases."

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    And the legislature DID lead, you inane twit. They lead by cutting the budget where they could and then passing legislation to balance the budget via moderate tax increases on businesses and wealthier individuals. Then the business lobby used the initiative process to try and undo what the legislature did.

    Frankly, Ms. Mel Harmon, you are a typical dull-witted, apparently Democratic, Oregonian. Leadership has absolutely nothing to do with casting votes. Any fool, even you, can cast a vote. Here's a flash about the way democracy works, representative or otherwise. To win you have lead and make the case so that a majority supports you. Not sit around with your clique of losers and tut-tut while looking down your nose at how all those who vote against you just don't recognize your superiority and rightness. In this case these means motivating a majority of the electorate to vote for these two measures.

    By the way, you do realize when you state that we have a "representative form of government" in one breath and then call those very representatives "incompetent", "selfish", "dim-witted", "stupid" and "headcases" that you are actually slamming not only yourself but every other Oregonian in the state, don't you?

    I'm sure in your circle you're used to having this kind of meaningless idiocy accepted as "profound".

    First, as noted before and which you seem to be too dense to grasp, I am most pointedly slamming the incompetence of the individuals in office not abstract "representative government". So your inane pronouncement here is as empty as your head.

    Second, I didn't vote for virtually all of those I'm criticizing because I don't live in their districts. And last time around year I didn't vote for either of the two who represent my area because one of them is exactly the kind of selfish, stupid, dull-witted fools I'm slamming. (Which is not to say I voted for an opponent I didn't vote in that race at all.) The other actually is a reasonably intelligent and quite decent person, and a reasonably talented leader, whose fiscal positions, including opposition to M66 and M67, I just happen to fundamentally disagree with politically. And who I mainly spend time apologizing to for embarrassments on the pro side, which seems to include you.

    And third, yes, I am fully aware I am slamming the stupid, navel-gazing portion of the electoral majority, the people who voted for the pandering incompetents currently in office that are incapable of leading by motivating a healthy majority of the electorate to vote for these two eminently sound tax measures. About 1/2 of that 50% majority of the 70% voting out of the maybe 40% of Oregonians who are registered voters comes down to about 7% of Oregonians, which evidently includes you.

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    As for the legislators leading on the ballot measures themselves, most I know have been canvassing, phonebanking and talking to their constituents to make the case for the legislatures budgetary decisions, explaining why they were made and why passing the measures are so important and how/why the measures will affect the lives of all Oregonians, their constituents included. You know---LEADING people to vote YES.

    That's not leading that's obnoxiously talking at people to vote YES. The fact is the couple of elected officials I talked to, and a couple of the phone bankers who've called would do more by shutting up because I'm sure they have cost votes. There was one phone banker, though, I had a great chat with once I told her to save her breath because my spouse and I had already voting "YES". We had a nice little gripe session about how people like you and most of the Democratic majority in the legislature were incompetent idiots, and how it would be because of ignorant fools like you and them the measures would go down if they do. She was so happy to talk to somebody that wasn't an obnoxious "NO", but who also wasn't a mindless obnoxious fool like you on the "YES" side that I finally had to say that I had to go so she could get back to calling. So how do you like that? Made the rest of my day.

  • steve (unverified)
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    I could easily be wrong, but it seems that big-money organizations already have such a huge advantage in the media that it is hard to imagine how it could get much worse. There are a lot of people, but unfortunately not a majority, who ignore the media or at least understand how to filter it.

    Maybe this will be a wake-up call to the Dem party (or someone) to build up communication capabilities. There should be well-researched but readable position papers email blasted to all Dems and others who sign up. There should be an email address or web site where individual questions are answered. There should be an effort to get Dems and like-minded people together at the neighborhood level for monthly beer/pizza/whatever to discuss issues and network. These local groups should be organized into a huge nation-wide tree which transfers opinions and information up, down and sideways. Local groups would compete for placement on a publicized "perfect turnout" list after each election. In summary, better (or at least some) real organizing could be an effective countermeasure.

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    David Wright,

    The US Supreme Court in 1976, ruled spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech.

    The case was Buckley v. Valeo.

    Here is a good starting point for research on the precedent:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckley_v._Valeo

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Or perhaps George Bush's farewell gift to America.

    So, what as Obama done vis a vis corporate America that would lead you to think this isn't his "hello"?

    This shit never cuts both ways. I want to see an executive order enshrining 'net neutrality. imho, THAT is what you will remember this ruling for. Our kids are likely to never experience the 'net as we have known it.

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    Combine the case RyanLeo highlights:

    David Wright, The US Supreme Court in 1976, ruled spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech. The case was Buckley v. Valeo. Here is a good starting point for research on the precedent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckley_v._Valeo

    with whose speech it is by Buckley v. Valeo that the majority actually is giving Constitutional protection:

    ... since the Court has said money is speech and endorsed the right of corporations to spend money/speak, (and) since in corporations individuals don't own the corporation's money, the corporation does, it is the speech of the corporation to which the Court has unconstitutionally given First Amendment protection.

    with what I've already noted about corporations inherent lack of any Constitutional rights due to their lack of any right of existence:

    Corporations are statutory creations and what Congress giveth, Congress can take away if it has the balls. In this case, Congress has given corporations or people the (legal permission) to bring corporations into existence, which perforce includes the ability to "speak", ... Furthermore, Congress has the arbitrary right to silence corporations by preventing or ending their existence, something Congress can't do to human beings. So corporations in truth have no Constitutional rights at all. None.

    We have a Court who has been hoisted on it's own petard of Buckley v. Valeo, and a prima facia case the majority has violated both of the oaths they take (that's right, for those who may not be aware, Federal judiciary members take two when they are sworn in).

    The first oath they have violated is their pledge to protect the Constitution by their unconstitutional extremist judicial activism of extending First Amendment rights to corporations, usurping the powers reserved to Congress to control the speech of corporations (as already shown):

    I, (name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

    The second is the oath to do impartial justice and to actually carry out their Constitutional duties (unlike the President and Members of Congress!), since they have unconstitutionally extended First Amendment protection to corporations:

    I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as (office) under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.

    Grayson's proposal is cute and the kind of attention-grabber I would expect from him. And without a doubt it's a good idea to make it costly for corporations to benefit from this criminal act by the majority until the right thing can be done.

    But just doing this would condone this attack on our Constitution. Congress has to undo the damage has been done by: 1) passing new laws immediately reclaiming it's right to control the existence and therefore the speech of corporations the Court has treasonously usurped, 2) passing a Constitutional amendment that ends any say the Court will ever have on the matter, and 3) convening an inquiry into whether the Court majority has committed impeachable offenses with this ruling.

    It's striking how in the last few days some apparent Libertarians who profess to be such lovers of the Constitution and the rights of human beings have resorted to trying to get whatever illicit propaganda advantage they can out of this, rather than actually defend the Constitution and the rights of human beings.

    The Democratic Party has reached a crossroads in the last few years whether it will ignobly abandon the values representing working people it has represented for so many years, and from which it has slowly and disgracefully been walking away. The Republican Party long ago already decided that sanity and political responsibility just wasn't what they want to be about. If the comments a few posted here are even close to representative, it appears the Libertarian movement is also at a crossroads whether it will just become just another whacked-out fringe political cult, or will actually defend the values for which it claims it stands.

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    Here is the slip opinion for Citizens United v. FEC:

    http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf

    As you can tell from reading, there are two issues: 1. Corporate Personhood and 2. The First Amendment and Money.

    From a scanning of it, these cases pop out:

    NAACP v. Button (1963) - Political speech as free speech

    Buckley v. Valeo (1976) - Spending money in elections is free speech

    First Nat'l Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978) - Corporations as individuals

    Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) - Previous precedent which limited corporate spending in elections

    McConnell v. FEC (2003) - Case dealing with McCain Feingold

    I caution against misconstruing what a corporation is. Any for-profit or nonprofit organization can incorporate for the sake of limited liability, 501(c)(3) status to exempt income from taxation, and on.

    Basically any organization that has a Board of Directors has incorporated, thus it can be referred to as a corporation regardless of size.

    I need to re-read Citizens United v. FEC again because the reasoning for both is a bit obtuse and the cited cases give a much clearer answer as to how both the majority and minority came to their positions.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    I caution against misconstruing what a corporation is. Any for-profit or nonprofit organization can incorporate for the sake of limited liability, 501(c)(3) status to exempt income from taxation, and on.

    And many do. I wish someone would have considered them enough to at least put a waiver on the $150 minimum, if the entity doesn't make that.

    If you want to cite examples from further back, how about Karl Marx? Corporate personhood, while people more and more are treated as statistics, is a better example of commodity fetishism than he could have ever dreamed.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    There is another side to corporate contributions to politicians. Sometimes it is a case of politicians (like Tom DeLay and his gang) shaking down the corporations instead of the corporations buying the slimeballs. Note this Corporations Speak Out Against SCOTUS Ruling, Call On Congress To Approve Public Financing Of Campaigns from ThinkProgress.

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    I need to re-read Citizens United v. FEC again because the reasoning for both is a bit obtuse and the cited cases give a much clearer answer as to how both the majority and minority came to their positions.

    RyanLeo's comment here is key, although his intent in making it is not clear. The reasoning is more than obtuse, it in fact is not logically sound because Scalia and Kennedy intentionally at several turns conflate the notion of associations of individuals with the concept of an artificial person to avoid having to directly state and deal with the unsoundness of their position that arises from the key point WHO is actually speaking when a corporation (artificial person) spends money to speak, and hence whether the Congress does have the right to regulate that speech.

    Associations of individual are NOT synonymous with the corporations they create, non-profit or otherwise. Once an association takes the step of bringing an artificial person into existence with the financial assets that are the speech at issue here, the First Amendment analysis solely applies to that artificial person, not the association of human beings who are the actors for that corporation. This is because the ownership of the actual money, the speech, in question passes to the corporation. It no longer resides with the human beings who (may have) formed the corporation or the liability shield doesn't work.

    The logical contradictions which flow if this are not the case are numerous. Two are fairly straightforward. The first logical contradiction arises because corporations can exist for which there is no direct or even defined association of human being with First Amendment rights. In fact, they most likely are the numerically most numerous in the US since this is how corporations intentionally erect not only layers of shields of liability, but shields against public transparency. Corporations A and B can create corporation C, and in that case there is no association of human beings that have formed corporation C. At least not in any legal sense because the jurisprudence is clear and longstanding that the owners of corporation C are corporations A and B, not the human beings who (may) own corporations A and B. Yet the court is trying to assert corporation C's First Amendment rights flow from the First Amendment rights of the human beings with whom corporation C is legally synonymous.

    The second contradiction is that they let stand that the Congress can require individuals who create or are empowered to act on behalf of the corporation (the artificial person that has no corporeal form) to identify themselves when making political speech. The right of human beings to anonymous political speech is one of the oldest precedents in our legal system and the right to be free from compelled political speech (ie. to not speak anonymously) is virtually synonymous with our First Amendment protections. A court purporting to be defending a broad interpretation of the First Amendment with this decision has put itself in the fundamentally contradictory position of actually limiting this most long standing and broadest aspect of First Amendment protection. Of course, that's because they aren't defending legitimate First Amendment rights of corporations here at all.

    The history of the Roberts court is that of never hesitating to assert the primacy of their opinion over what the Constitution actually says and logically sound arguments when they need to in service of their ultra-extremist judicial activism. Depending on what he meant by it, RyanLeo's cryptic caution "against misconstruing what a corporation is", is actually not relevant to the defect in their argument. In fact, Scalia atempts to obfuscate that defect when he irrelevantly refers to common-law corporations of academics and such in this matter where the Constitution has in fact spoken.

    Maybe you can just cut through the lack of clarity in your comments here RyanLeo, and just say whether you embrace or abhor the majority opinion? The issues raised here aren't dealt with in the majority opinion because their opinion depends on sidestepping the structural logical fallacies inherent in it.

    (I have only skimmed the minority opinion in dissent because in that skim it appears to be an unpersuasive combination of a quibble over legal processes, an emotive appeal about the consequences of this ruling that I agree are very bad and inevitable, and a weak argument in the stare decisis section III whether or not Buckley and Bellotti affirmed corporations are just people too. No argument I detected that the majority's opinion falls under it's own weight as enormously logically invalid and an attack on the Constitution itself, the bottom of p. 40 is as close as Stevens gets. At the bottom line, these 9 are all in one of the most exclusive clubs in the world and membership has it's privileges.)

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    The history of the Roberts court is that of never hesitating to assert the primacy of their opinion over what the Constitution actually says and logically sound arguments when they need to in service of their ultra-extremist judicial activism.

    Isn't curse the activist judiciary a right wing rallying cry? I don't mind an activist judiciary, if they're doing their job and unpacking the logic with rigor. Faulty application doesn't mean the system is faulty.

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    Zarathustra,

    Back to Marx, shoot I can go back even further.

    How about the joint stock companies that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th sons of aristocracy cobbled together to buy royal colonial charters in order to lead expeditions in what was then known as the "New World?"

    In many respects, one can make an argument that much of the settling of the original 13 US colonies was a corporate endeavor. The puritans who founded much of New England were not much better in being right wing religious zealots who left England because they believed dancing was the jig of the devil.

    We have quite an interesting history if you don't read the revisionist crap.

  • Space Camera (unverified)
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    There are two kinds of people in America. There are those that produce jobs and those that consume jobs. This was GREAT news for those that produce jobs. Why should they have equal say. Now it IS more equitable. You have peons with little say, and movers and shakers with as much say as they can afford.

    "Money talks and bull shit walks". That is the oldest of American maxims, and now we finally are supporting it in the courts!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "There are those that produce jobs and..."

    And there are two kinds of people producing jobs. Those that are a benefit to society and those that are detrimental, some to the point of causing death and serious damage to people's health. Now, it seems that people running tobacco corporations, destroying the environment, putting out dangerous prescription drugs and the like are in a position to buy a Congress that will clear the way for them to do their killing and destruction in the name of corporate profits.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Dartagnan:

    The only real solution, of course, is to reduce the role of money in politics by enacting campaign spending limits

    Bob T:

    The best way to reduce the role of money in politics is to reduce the government's power to pick winners and losers.

    Dartagnan:

    but that won't fly until a couple of the right-wingers on the court die or resign.

    Bob T:

    Don't try to predict things as if it's all that black and white. After all, it was Scalia, Thomas, Rhenquist and O'Connor who were on the right side in trying to slap down the pro-corporation side in Kelo v. New London which resulted in the other five removing property rights as a built-in safeguard against blatant corporate/state abuses of power.

    And I'm still waiting for one of you guys to examine Scalia's reasoning in defending the property rights of the pot grower in Florence in the Kyllo decision by refusing to let new technology change the definition of "search" as it was understood by the Framers. Did you send him a Thank You card yet?

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    There are two kinds of people in America. There are those that produce jobs and those that consume jobs. This was GREAT news for those that produce jobs. Why should they have equal say. Now it IS more equitable. You have peons with little say, and movers and shakers with as much say as they can afford. "Money talks and bull shit walks". That is the oldest of American maxims, and now we finally are supporting it in the courts!

    Yea, and it only took five Ivy League educated elitists whose only private sector experience is at a few corporate law firms, and who never "produced" a job in their lives (unless you count any household help they hire, I suppose), to do it. (Not to excuse three of the other four who are Ivy League educated elitists, and the fourth who is just a rich elitist, who clearly couldn't argue their way out of a paper bag when it comes to actually defending the working people all those who "produce" jobs need to take those jobs so they don't have to do the real work themselves.)

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    Did you send him a Thank You card yet?

    Didn't send him a "Thank You" card because I'm one of those who believe motive matters Those decisions were decided on the basis of anything but the same motives that have nothing to do with their Constitutional obligations and that led them to subvert the Constitution in Citizens United.

    I did, however, make phone calls to elitist Democrats who supported the Kelo decision and who opposed the efforts of Representatives like Peter DeFazio who worked to pass legislation that in practice would reverse the majority in Kelo. Did you, you freak?

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    That last thing got garbled:

    "Those decisions were decided out of motives that have nothing to do with their Constitutional obligations and that led them to subvert the Constitution in Citizens United."

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    So true RyanLeo. Case in point Oregon was really Hudson Bay Co., well into the 19th century. Portland Cricket Club, 1847, predates most English clubs.

    Agreed about the revisionist crap. I was horribly scandalized, during the TEA antics, that no progressives seemed to have a grasp of the actual facts. All the grade school renditions without coming close to realizing the role John Hancock played in the Boston business community. Ditto not realizing that the major "dumping" of tea into the market, was being done by the British!

    I'm one of those who believe motive matters

    Not best pleased with Dems, eh? At least some right wingers are up front about their reprehensible motivations. Anymore I'm reminded of a quote about the diff between Catholics and Protestants, liturgically. "Catholics do all the right things for all the wrong reasons, and Protestants do all the wrong things for all right reasons". Is that not the Dems and Reps today?

  • Color Me Green (unverified)
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    Anymore I'm reminded of a quote about the diff between Catholics and Protestants, liturgically. "Catholics do all the right things for all the wrong reasons, and Protestants do all the wrong things for all right reasons". Is that not the Dems and Reps today?

    Couldn't agree more. I doff my cap to you sir.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Color Me Green:

    David, your goal is to find a hyper-technical way to read the First Amendment that allows you to speak positively about this intellectually dishonest decision.

    Bob T:

    Come on, Color, that statement is not very intellectually honest in itself.

    Color Me Green:

    Here's how an person of average intellect CORRECTLY parses the First:

    <i>"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion</i> [by whom?]<i>, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof</i> [by whom?]<i>; or abridging the freedom of speech</i> [by whom]<i>....</i>
    

    Now, hyper-technical but mentally challenged David and Bob, there also is no mention of Corporations in the standard version of Constitution.

    Bob T:

    Nor is there any mention of non-profit organizations, trade unions, or think-tanks. So what. The point here is that the First Amendment section on speech is about the government having no authority to limit speech itself, no matter who is exercising it. That's why the ACLU also opposed the restrictions that were just thrown out. The intellectual dishonesty is introduced when you or someone else tries to insert a modifier in the form of a possessive pronoun (sorry, but you can't simply borrow the "missing subjects" from the Preamble). You might have a case if there is a Constitutional conflict created by leaving this out, but I don't see it. And no one should imagine one, either.

    Color Me Green:

    I suppose the super-secret Revised Standard Libertarian Version could have a mention of them in there somewhere, just to clarify what the Founders really meant don't you know

    Bob T:

    I don't need any other version than the one that was written in the late 1700s, and it still clearly says that speech itself is protected from government restrictions rather than the government having the authority to decide who can exercise that right. You really need to be careful here. After all, look what happened after your side's views on property rights won out, following inventive precedent after invented precedent modifying and qualifying "taken" and "public use", in Kelo v. New London. It's not a pretty picture. Even the ACLU (again) and the NAACP supported the Kelo side.

    Color Me Green:

    Corporations are statutory creations...

    Bob T:

    Again, there are numerous valid reasons for this which even you can acknowledge, but the fact still remains that they are an organization as much as a trade union, charity, non-profit, or think tank. In the end it still comes down to people doing the speaking.

    Columnist Stephen Chapman has responded to points such as your, as such:

    "It is often argued that corporate speech may be banned because corporations enjoy certain privileges afforded by law. But it's a longstanding constitutional axiom that the government may not require the surrender of constitutional rights in exchange for state-furnished benefits -- say, barring criticism of Congress by residents of public housing.

    "Critics fear that freed from constraints, giant corporations will burn vast sums to help or hurt politicians. In reality, most business people are not about to plunge into divisive election campaigns, for fear of antagonizing customers.

    "Apple and Microsoft are not going to be squaring off to see who can elect the next president. In Illinois, corporations have always been allowed to spend money on elections. They rarely take any noticeable role".

    By the way, which is it -- corporations can be called people so they can be taxed, and then have that designation removed so they can be silenced?

    If I thought you really cared when Big Business is bankrolling one side of an issue and that this in itself should make you wonder, then I would have expected the pro-Light Rail side in 1998 to vote against that measure (North-South) because it was heavily supported by corporations and outspent the opposition ten to one. So much for that. Just another example of progressive looking the other way when it's convenient.

    Color Me Green:

    You'd think a Libertarian would worry we have exactly the opposite of what the Founders intended: A cowering Congress, an imperial, ultra-activist, right-wing, non-elected Court, and a President who has imperial status at his disposal (but who actually seems to be another example of skilled politician but incompetent leader who cannot even exercise power sparingly and responsibly.)

    Bob T:

    I'll go with Chapman again:

    "In the end, the right to speak does not mean the power to control the political process. It merely means the right to convey views that citizens are free to reject -- which, if they distrust corporate power, is exactly what they are likely to do.

    "Corporations have the freedom to communicate what they want. But the people still have the ultimate right: the right to say no".

    Color Me Green:

    So David and Bob T., if you want to continue to spout your particular childish, anti-social Libertarian sophistry, you might want to think about doing it somewhere where you won't look so damn stupid.

    Bob T:

    I never consider it stupid to defend the First Amendment. The speech that's most important to us is political speech, not stuff like cookbooks. Freedom is tough sometimes, isn't it? Some people can handle it, and other cannot. I'll side with the ACLU on this one, thank you very much.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Bob T:

    "The point here is that the First Amendment section on speech is about the government having no authority to limit speech itself, no matter who is exercising it."

    The government does limit speech, and in most cases people (and the Supremes) go along with it.

    Beyond the old one about shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater, there are the (government) laws against libel and slander. There are also (government) laws against revealing classified and personal privacy information.

    Then, in two branches of government - Congress and the Supreme(?) Court - the controlling authorities (government officials) within them decide whether you can speak or not. Exercise your First Amendment rights - your freedom of speech - in committee hearings or in the court and if you don't shut up when you are told to do so you will very likely be carted off to jail.

    What the Supremes came up with this week was the old law of who has the power decides the rules.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Why thank you, Green.

    Bob T. has a good technical point, though. As he pointed out, it doesn't say by whom. Deliberately, most likely, as that would have put the slave issue back into play. The fact is that at the time the document was written, about 5% of the British population had the vote. You had to be land owning, Anglican and male, for starters. The US greatly expanded that to all white males of legal age. Still wasn't what we consider democracy, today. As society has evolved that has been expanded.

    Of course that doesn't mean I support "corporate suffrage". They aren't people. The current trends are more akin to enshrining Marx's commodity fetishism into law. I've always thought that a weakness of ALL law is that it assumes what "people" are. It's not defined anywhere, and, anymore, even biologists don't have a hard and fast concept of species. So do we not continue to evolve? Are all hominids "human"? We only don't deal with it because we don't have any blurry lines to define. If a Neanderthal were discovered, would he be a person? What if I speciate? Am I still a human? Sounds pedantic, I know, but I insist that it's the basic fuzziness in the assumed, common language definition that gives an opening for things like corporate personhood. It's way too black and white...only it's not. If I could convince a court I wasn't human, you could kill me with impunity. What about when humans are eventually cloned, augmented or modified? Are they livestock or humans? If any humanity is human, and we put human genes into an animal, is it human? What about growing a pig embryo from what started as a human ovum? Is that human?

    I say we give basic rights to anything sentient, and let the case law sort out the implementation. I find it equally horrifying that a corporation has equal speech rights, and that someone could kill my companion animal and the court would only award me the $25 I paid the humane society. FWIW, Lewis & Clark, right here, are world beaters in pioneering that line of thinking.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Zarathustra:

    The fact is that at the time the document was written, about 5% of the British population had the vote. You had to be land owning, Anglican and male, for starters. The US greatly expanded that to all white males of legal age.

    Bob T:

    I don't believe this is correct, but is an assumed "fact" that is repeated by so many that it's accepted as the truth. I see nothing at all in the Constitution about these so-called requirements. You could be a non-land owner and vote if you lived in certain states. And some states allowed free blacks to vote, and even non-citizens. If you say that the Constitution did not grant women the vote, or blacks specifically, it can be pointed out that it doesn't even give white Anglican land-owning males the right to vote.

    Zarathustra:

    Still wasn't what we consider democracy, today.

    Bob T:

    Even in 1789 it was better than Castro's "Cuber", which many progressives think is so wonderful ("Gee, why have elections of the leader is giving us what we need for 50 years?")

    I think you need to look at what people expected from such a society. So long as it was letting people create their own niche in the world, far more than was possible in Europe and elsewhere, many felt the vote was not as necessary as it has become. Even a hundred years later at the height of the women's suffrage movement there were organizations of black women who opposed women's suffrage. Why, you might ask? Because, as they saw it, this was a way to get even "further behind", i.e. (using 1880's 50.15 million for this example), with the starting figures of 43.4 million whites and 6.6 million blacks, granting the vote to women meant that (roughly) for every black woman to get the vote there would be six to seven white women with votes. Just telling how many people saw this at the time.

    Just stop repeating that nonsense about how only "land-owning white Anglican males" could vote and that it's in the Constitution somewhere.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Learn to fucking read Bob. I said that about Britain, and it is correct.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Bot t: "Even in 1789 it was better than Castro's "Cuber", which many progressives think is so wonderful "

    The progressives I know don't think Cuba is "wonderful" because we don't see things in extremes. There are aspects of life in Cuba that are very much regrettable, but there are also other elements that are commendable. Cuba has had doctors in less developed countries for years and some of them were among the first in Haiti after the earthquake struck despite this fact being almost completely ignored by the American media.

    Despite being under an inhumane and cowardly embargo, Cuba managed to come in 39th on the World Health Organization's report for year 2000 for attainment and delivery of health care while the "greatest nation on earth" came in at 37th. Given the rising costs of health care in the United States and more and more people uninsured it should come as no surprise if those positions were reversed in 2010.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I just sent this to a Republican friend

    http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/news/press-releases/2010/01/bipartisan-policy-center-launches-debt-reduction-task-force

    with the message that Republicans should drop the attack dog strategy and start discussing actual solutions.

    Since I have been complimented for using binary in a sentence, I will use it here.

    It is a binary frame of mind to say "agree with me or I get to say that "Castro's "Cuber", which many progressives think is so wonderful ".

    One view of the political spectrum is a circle: moderates are for a wider dialogue and discussions of solutions, extremists of any sort want the world seen in a black or white, "us or them" framework where no one is allowed to talk about gray areas.

    Before talking about Constitutional interpretations, I'd suggest reading what Justice Rhenquist said on the subject.

    No one would call him a progressive, but I find it hard to believe he would have supported the majority.

    Of course, his "my job is like an umpire calling balls and strikes" successor doesn't see that as his job here.

  • Jeff Golden (unverified)
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    Bill B: "The progressives I know don't think Cuba is "wonderful" because we don't see things in extremes. There are aspects of life in Cuba that are very much regrettable, but there are also other elements that are commendable". THANK YOU.  A huge amount of our problem in this an almost any other thread is binary thinking: here, that Cuba is either GOOD or EVIL.  I spent a month there in 1998.  There's an internal military presence that I wouldn't choose to live around;  I choose to live here.  AND...I remember a truthful propaganda billboard I saw there that said (in Spanish) "Hundreds of millions of the world's children will sleep in the street tonight.  None of them are Cuban."     Some of them are North American, though.  Thanks, Bill

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Jeff:

    With the tragedy in Haiti I finally was motivated to read a book - "An Unbroken Agony" by Randall Robinson - I have thought about for some time since I listened to the author on Book-TV (C-Span).

    Given America's role in Haiti, Cuba (see "The Politics of War" by Walter Karp) and other parts of the Caribbean no informed American is in a position to be proud of this nation's role in that region from the time of Jefferson to Bush the Lesser. Of course, those who are shielded by impenetrable ignorance like the reverend(?) Pat Robertson can concoct any claptrap that comes to their warped minds.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Zarathustra:

    Learn to fucking read Bob. I said that about Britain, and it is correct.

    Bob T:

    Fine, potty mouth. But just the same, aside from the "Anglican" requirement is sounded exactly like what some would say about America from 1789 to the early 1900s. And my history lesson is just as valid.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden:

    There are aspects of life in Cuba that are very much regrettable, but there are also other elements that are commendable. Cuba has had doctors in less developed countries for years and some of them were among the first in Haiti after the earthquake struck despite this fact being almost completely ignored by the American media.

    Bob T:

    Oh, whoop-dee-doo.

    Bill Bodden:

    Despite being under an inhumane and cowardly embargo, Cuba managed to come in 39th on the World Health Organization's report for year 2000 for attainment and delivery of health care while the "greatest nation on earth" came in at 37th.

    Bob T:

    That's misleading as well (Cubans are, on average, healthier than us, because of their diet). This is one thing I don't get about you -- that despite the oft-repeated Franklin quote the Cubans don't need liberty because they're so secure (sort of). Here's your cradle-to-grave health care, and if you criticize the leader you'll go to prison for years. No thanks.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Jeff Golden:

    AND...I remember a truthful propaganda billboard I saw there that said (in Spanish) "Hundreds of millions of the world's children will sleep in the street tonight. None of them are Cuban."
    Some of them are North American, though.

    Bob T:

    Yet another superficial statement. Why aren't there any homeless there (if it's actually true). Do they let tourists see every place on the island? Is there a law against being homeless? Do they have American-like housing codes that in effect limit housing units and even make it illegal for several families to live in one house or apartment?

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden:

    Despite being under an inhumane and cowardly embargo...

    Bob T:

    Oh nonsense. I'd get rid of the so-called embargo in a second, but let's not blow it out of proportion. The embargo is an excuse Cuber and friends use to explain a crappy economy (among other things). Most of the rest of the world trades freely with Cuber, and even American drugs and medicines get there via foreign branch plants. Besides, Cuber shouldn't need us at all, as if we don't exist. If it's so great there (people have a right to everything, I guess) why do they need our stuff? (They get most of it anyway).

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • rw (unverified)
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    Yet another superficial statement. Why aren't there any homeless there (if it's actually true). Do they let tourists see every place on the island? Is there a law against being homeless? Do they have American-like housing codes that in effect limit housing units and even make it illegal for several families to live in one house or apartment?

    Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, Bob? That was incoherent.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "I'd get rid of the so-called embargo in a second, "

    Bob T: I'm always delighted when the good sense you are capable of comes to the surface, however, ...

    "but let's not blow it out of proportion. The embargo is an excuse Cuber and friends use to explain a crappy economy (among other things). Most of the rest of the world trades freely with Cuber, and even American drugs and medicines get there via foreign branch plants"

    I believe your suggestion of the ameliorating influences of other nations ignoring the embargo is exaggerated. Regardless, the embargo is an American attempt to punish Cuba for Castro's ejection of the American corporate/Batista dictatorship alliance that our government in all of is unabashed hypocrisy supported.

    Why is this a cowardly embargo? First of all, it pits the most powerful nation, despite its apparently limitless capacity for folly, against a small, economically weak island. Then there are the politicians who recognize the folly of this embargo but who lack the moral courage to stand up and say so. More reasons why our national moral authority and image are so tarnished.

    Try a Google for "Cuba embargo" and you'll find plenty of arguments against this shabby game.

    Then there is the other element that the embargo denies Americans the freedom to travel there to see for themselves and try to determine what the truth might be. Another example of American hypocrisy.

    For the record I do agree with you that Cuba's economic system is part of Cuba's problem, but who are we Americans with tens of millions of children living in poverty and tens of thousands dying each year for lack of health care to be self-righteous?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "In 2005, Gregory Craig Defended A Canadian Businessman Convicted Of Violating The U.S. Embargo Of Cuba. ("Canadian's Trial In Cuba Embargo Case Nears End," The [Peterborough, Ontario] Examiner, 7/29/05)" http://www.barackbook.com/Profiles/GregoryCraig.htm

    Looks like it can be hazardous for people if they ignore the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden:

    I believe your suggestion of the ameliorating influences of other nations ignoring the embargo is exaggerated. Regardless, the embargo is an American attempt to punish Cuba for Castro's ejection of the American corporate/Batista dictatorship alliance that our government in all of is unabashed hypocrisy supported.

    Bob T:

    Batista was overthrown (a good thing, but that doesn't automatically mean that it was replaced with anything dood) because we barely supported him compared to earlier decades since 1898. The US gov't gave itself an obligation (which many Cubans supported) to make sure it remained stable down there and sometimes prevented strongmen from taking power, but FDR started putting this on the back-burner and we paid less attention (for better or worse). There had been a campaign in Cuba (pre-98 I think) to become part of the US, modeled after Texas, which is why they have a single star on the flag as Texas does. I really doubt that the embargo started because of punishment for ousting Batista - it was more like part of the Cold War stuff. stupid or not. After all, there were numerous other countries that ousted someone we preferred, and we don't have embargoes on them (big holes or not).

    Bill Bodden:

    Why is this a cowardly embargo? First of all, it pits the most powerful nation, despite its apparently limitless capacity for folly, against a small, economically weak island. Then there are the politicians who recognize the folly of this embargo but who lack the moral courage to stand up and say so. More reasons why our national moral authority and image are so tarnished.

    Bob T:

    Well, at least you didn't call it a "blockade", which many idiots do. Still, while I agree it's a stupid policy my point is that Cuba shouldn't need us at all. Or anyone. In fact, Castro uses the fact of the embargo (which is loaded with holes you could sail a super-freighter through) to keep the population in a certain frame of mind as do many dictators who need all kinds of enemies, and to blame for his crappy economy. Even the Soviets realized after a while that all Cuber could do was supply raw materials in exchange for having an ally in the west.

    Bill Bodden:

    Then there is the other element that the embargo denies Americans the freedom to travel there

    Bob T:

    Yes, and as I see it this is a violation of my right as an individual to choose to travel there (very anti-free market). If I ever get a chance, I'll go on a tour to follow the route of the US forces from where the landed in 1898, following the route to San Juan and Kettle Hills. But I can't, or at least not openly. At the same time, how do you feel about Castro's policy on people wishing to come here, even in a raft - by shooting them and if they still alive afterwards, jailing them.

    Bill Bodden:

    ...to see for themselves and try to determine what the truth might be. Another example of American hypocrisy.

    Bob T:

    It's doubtful that the way it is down there is a secret to most of us who are interested in looking into it. On the other side, there are the people who refuse to find out what the real Che was like and they wear those stupid T-shirts despite the fact that the guy believed in murdering potential opponents (based on his opinion), and couldn't even make a decent toothpaste when he ran some production in Cuber.

    Bill Bodden:

    For the record I do agree with you that Cuba's economic system is part of Cuba's problem, but who are we Americans with tens of millions of children living in poverty and tens of thousands dying each year for lack of health care to be self-righteous?

    Bob T:

    Are you saying that you'll give up your right to vote, and to express yourself (question authority) in return for an alleged "health care for all" regime? Interesting. I thought political rights were more important than all others, or close to it.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Color Me Green:

    Didn't send him [Scalia] "Thank You" card because I'm one of those who believe motive matters[.] Those decisions were decided on the basis of anything but the same motives that have nothing to do with their Constitutional obligations and that led them to subvert the Constitution in Citizens United.

    Bob T:

    Nonsense. What you're saying is that feelings (often of what one thinks the document should say) count more than what the document actually says. In this case, the actual wording protected people like Kyollo from a government re-defining "search" to satisfy their, well, "feelings" on the matter of drugs.

    By the way, why are you afraid to use your real name?

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Green Avenger (unverified)
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    [Violent rhetoric removed. -editor.]

  • (Show?)

    OK. Let's jump on this quickly and clearly. No way you're welcome here with this last entry, or anything close to it.
    Please weigh in here, folks, no matter where you stand on the boundaries of what's welcome on BO.

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