Archive for Citizens United

Sheldon Adelson: An Evil of Citizens United

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on August 2, 2012 by playthell

 

 The casino owner who would be kingmaker

 Notes On Mitt’s Main Man

In the Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson, our worst fears about the danger to American democracy posed by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizen’s United case have come true.  From the moment this decision was handed down thoughtful Americans recognized that it had the potential to transform our participatory democracy, where the masses ruled, into a plutocracy ruled by a minority of the filthy rich.

An arrogant, vulgar, multi-billionaire; Adelson has no shame in his game.  He kept that dangerous charlatan and intellectual poseur Newt Gingrich in the race for the Republican nomination single handedly with his deep pockets; which is estimate to be around 20 Billion –  and now he has threatened to spend up to 100 million on the coming general election to put Mitt in Office since his first love has crashed and burned.

The presence of arch-Zionist Adelson at Mitt’s speeches in Israel demonstrates that the legal prohibition against collusion or coordination between the Super packs and the candidate is a farce.  One need only listen to the reckless pro-Israel rhetoric flowing from Mitts’ pie hole to recognize who’s paying this piper.

In one of the most activist decisions by a US Supreme Court ever, the present Court overturned campaign laws passed by Congress and State legislatures limiting campaign contributions and granting corporations the same free speech rights as individuals.  The Court also allowed third parties to spend as much money as they can raise on behalf of federal candidates, so long as it is not contributed directly to the candidate.  It was arguably the third worst decision ever made by the High court – right behind the Dread Scott Decision of 1857, and Plessy v Furgueson in 1898.

The theory of the Court is that if the funds do not go directly to the candidate it will not have the same potential for corrupting the political process.  Yet the brief history of American politics since the Citizen’s United decision has shown this reasoning was fatally flawed and the decision is a colossal mistake that could destroy our unique democratic polity.

Justice John Paul Stevens railed against it in his powerful dissent, and the Harvard trained Professor of Constitutional Law in the White House said it was wrongly decided.  Alas, we now know for sure that the potential for special interest money to corrupt our politics is just as great as if they could contribute directly to the candidates – it is a distinction without a real difference – and to continue down this road is folly.

In this instance I am employing the term folly in the sense that the two time Pulitzer Prize winning historian Barbara Tuchman defines it in her broadly learned and deeply insightful book: The March of Folly.  Folly is defined in this grand treatise as the decision of a great nation to pursue a course that all the objective evidence demonstrates is against their best interest.

Since the right-wing majority of the Supreme Court has demonstrated that they intend to take no corrective action by their recent nullification of Montana’s campaign laws – which were written in response to a horrid history of corporate money corrupting the politics of the state – we shall maintain a course that will lead inexorably to the destruction of our democracy.

Alas, Abraham Lincoln’s fear that if the north lost the Civil War “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people” would “perish from the earth,” should be our own.  Because the alternative is the Sheldon Adelson’s of the world: angry racist old white men with a lot of money who are ready and willing to spend it promiscuously to determine the course of our politics.  According to the Wall Street Journal Adelson has already made a down payment of $10 million to Mitt’s super pack “Restore our Future”

Hence the future of our union is as endangered now as it was when Lincoln uttered those words on the bloody battlefield at Gettysburg.  The election of a shallow plastic plutocrat like Mitt Romney, a corporate and shill and Adelson puppet who aspires to be our supreme leader, will surely hasten the demise of our popular participatory democracy.  And we shall surely get the government we deserve.

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

August 2, 2012

Killers of the Dream

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on June 28, 2012 by playthell
                     The Worse Court Ever?

 The Supreme Court Subverts Democracy and Promotes Plutocracy

In a 5-4 decision the United States Supreme Court ruled to overturn a decision by the Supreme Court of Montana upholding the validity of a century old election law forbidding corporations from contributing to candidates in state elections.  The Montana Court ruling posed a direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case, in which the Court held that corporate contributions to political campaigns were covered by the free speech rights afforded under the First Amendment.

This ruling effectively said corporations are people – a sentiment recently echoed by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But since the Montana law banning corporations from contributing to political parties or candidates was prompted by the historic corruption of the political process by corporate money, the people of Montana thought they were standing on solid legal ground.

Yet Justice Kennedy had confidently written an opinion in the Citizens United case arguing that this ruling would not lead to political corruption, or even the appearance of corruption.  It was a naïve view of the corrupting effects of corporate money on politics that flies in the face of history.

Hence the Montana case was welcomed by critics of the Citizens United ruling, because we thought now that we have seen the corrosive effect of the Super packs, with their vast sums of anonymous money, on the integrity of our political process the court would see the error of their ways and reconsider their decision.

Instead, to our horror, the court stood firm and made it clear that there are no exceptions, not-withstanding the history of political corruption financed by corporate interests such as in Montana. The High Court’s decision was so shocking to Montanans that both Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer, and his Republican lieutenant governor John Bohlinger, stood shoulder to shoulder on the Capitol to denounce the Courts ruling.

It was a remarkable event because the Democrats and Republicans in Montana have been embroiled in rancorous partisan battles, in which the Democratic governor has been using a hot cattle branding iron to veto bills coming out of the Republican controlled legislature.  But on this issue they stood united in defense of their century old election law, which has served this state well in terms of preventing corporate money from corrupting their politics.

“Now, Republicans and Democrats don’t always agree on policy matters,” said the Republican lieutenant governor, “but there’s one thing we do agree on, and that is, corporate money should not influence the outcome of an election.”  His remarks were co-signed by Governor Schweitzer, a Democrat, who said “Here in Montana, we have a proud, 100-year history of keeping corporate money out of our elections. Corporations aren’t people, and they should not control our government. Montana stood up for democracy, here at home and on behalf of America, by fighting to keep our ban on corporate campaign spending. The United States Supreme Court blocked our state law, because they said corporations are people. I’ll believe that when Texas executes one.”

The Montana Election Law of 1912, known as the Corrupt Practices Act, was passed during the era of the “Robber Barons,” the newly ascendant Wall Street financiers and “Captains of Industry,” a time when the great American fortunes were being made.

It was just two years after Andrew Carnegie built the first billion dollar corporation, United States Steel.  With no income tax – which was introduced in 1913 – the super-rich had a lot of money to spend.  And in Montana the “Copper Kings,” who owned the world’s richest copper mines were throwing money around among politicians like confetti.

 William F. Andrews

 He bought a Senate seat

 Marcus Daly

 

 He bribed legislators all over the state

The Copper Kings consisted of two ruthless businessmen, Marcus Daly and William Andrews Clark, who used the vast wealth they accumulated from the copper business to monopolize the wealth of Montana.  For instance, Clark owned 13 copper mines and a smelter to process it in Arizona.  He also owned banks, newspapers, a railroad and the town of Las Vegas in the state of Montana.

Marcus Daly, who was an Irish immigrant, owned two Montana towns – Anaconda and Hamilton – plus the richest copper mine in America: the Anaconda mine in Butte Montana.  They were joined by a lesser light, F. Augustus Heinz, a financial speculator who came out from Brooklyn.

In their battle to control the state these men bought most of the state legislature and even a US senate seat from the state.  The bribery was so blatant the United States Senate refused to seat the winner of the election, Williams Andrews Clarke.

None of this corruption would have surprised Thomas Jefferson, who tried unsuccessfully to include an anti-monopoly clause in the Bill of Rights.  Failing that Jefferson declared: “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”  Over half a century later, as the American Civil War was limping to an end, one of the nation’s most famous corporate lawyers wrote the following warning.

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country.  As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed…god grant that my suspicions prove groundless.”

This excerpt is from a letter written by Abraham Lincoln’s to Colonel William F. Elkins, on Nov. 21, 1864.  Well, I don’t know if God was listening, but the right-wing ideologues on the high court has paid him no mind,  Alas Abe’s prediction is becoming prophecy.

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

June 28, 2012