Saturday, January 30, 2010

solution to corporate personhood

Start taxing corporations the same as taxing a person's income and watch
corporations deny their personhood.
Or, allow people the deductions corporations get like deducting all
operating expenses.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Supreme Hacks overturn Democracy

When Exxon is able to buy key Congressional seats that will determine
their profit margin, and do it without any adverse consequences, the
system that leans heavily toward the moneyed interests becomes that much
more powerful and the common man gets a shorter end of the equation.
Unfortunately, the great dumbing down has given Republicans enough
leverage with the electorate to have a large portion of the working
class support a party diametrically opposed to best interests of the
vast majority.
The Court's flawed decision will hasten the trip to corporate feudalism
and a permanent serf class beholden to the corporations that rig markets
and pay scales for the benefit of the wealthy elites. In essence a
fascist state based on feudal principles will be the result of this
convoluted decision unless a Constitutional Amendment is passed or
certain members of the Court are impeached and replaced with honest
brokers who will overturn this bizarre edict made by Justices who are
nothing more than corporate hacks in black robes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

a useful fiction

Democracy in America is a useful fiction
By Chris Hedges
January 24, 2010

CORPORATE FORCES, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest.

Inverted Totalitarianism

Much of the outrage expressed about the court’s ruling is the outrage of those who prefer this choreographed charade. As long as the charade is played, they do not have to consider how to combat what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of "inverted totalitarianism."

Inverted totalitarianism represents "the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry," Wolin writes in "Democracy Incorporated." Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.

Inverted totalitarianism is not conceptualized as an ideology or objectified in public policy. It is furthered by "power-holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions," Wolin writes. But it is as dangerous as classical forms of totalitarianism. In a system of inverted totalitarianism, as this court ruling illustrates, it is not necessary to rewrite the Constitution, as fascist and communist regimes do. It is enough to exploit legitimate power by means of judicial and legislative interpretation.

Corporate "Persons"

This exploitation ensures that huge corporate campaign contributions are protected speech under the First Amendment. It ensures that heavily financed and organized lobbying by large corporations is interpreted as an application of the people’s right to petition the government. The court again ratified the concept that corporations are persons, except in those cases where the "persons" agree to a "settlement." Those within corporations who commit crimes can avoid going to prison by paying large sums of money to the government while, according to this twisted judicial reasoning, not "admitting any wrongdoing." There is a word for this: It is corruption.

Corporations have 35,000 lobbyists in Washington and thousands more in state capitals that dole out corporate money to shape and write legislation. They use their political action committees to solicit employees and shareholders for donations to fund pliable candidates. The financial sector, for example, spent more than $5 billion on political campaigns, influence peddling and lobbying during the past decade, which resulted in sweeping deregulation, the gouging of consumers, our global financial meltdown and the subsequent looting of the U.S. Treasury. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $26 million last year and drug companies such as Pfizer, Amgen and Eli Lilly kicked in tens of millions more to buy off the two parties. These corporations have made sure our so-called health reform bill will force us to buy their predatory and defective products. The oil and gas industry, the coal industry, defense contractors and telecommunications companies have thwarted the drive for sustainable energy and orchestrated the steady erosion of civil liberties. Politicians do corporate bidding and stage hollow acts of political theater to keep the fiction of the democratic state alive.

Conscripted Constitution

There is no national institution left that can accurately be described as democratic. Citizens, rather than participate in power, are allowed to have virtual opinions to preordained questions, a kind of participatory fascism as meaningless as voting on "American Idol." Mass emotions are directed toward the raging culture wars. This allows us to take emotional stands on issues that are inconsequential to the power elite.

Our transformation into an empire, as happened in ancient Athens and Rome, has seen the tyranny we practice abroad become the tyranny we practice at home. We, like all empires, have been eviscerated by our own expansionism. We utilize weapons of horrific destructive power, subsidize their development with billions in taxpayer dollars, and are the world’s largest arms dealer. And the Constitution, as Wolin notes, is "conscripted to serve as power’s apprentice rather than its conscience."

"Inverted totalitarianism reverses things," Wolin writes. "It is politics all of the time but a politics largely untempered by the political. Party squabbles are occasionally on public display, and there is a frantic and continuous politics among factions of the party, interest groups, competing corporate powers, and rival media concerns. And there is, of course, the culminating moment of national elections when the attention of the nation is required to make a choice of personalities rather than a choice between alternatives. What is absent is the political, the commitment to finding where the common good lies amidst the welter of well-financed, highly organized, single-minded interests rabidly seeking governmental favors and overwhelming the practices of representative government and public administration by a sea of cash."

Antidemocratic Instruments

Hollywood, the news industry and television, all corporate controlled, have become instruments of inverted totalitarianism. They censor or ridicule those who critique or challenge corporate structures and assumptions. They saturate the airwaves with manufactured controversy, whether it is Tiger Woods or the dispute between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. They manipulate images to make us confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge, which is how Barack Obama became president. And the draconian internal control employed by the Department of Homeland Security, the military and the police over any form of popular dissent, coupled with the corporate media’s censorship, does for inverted totalitarianism what thugs and bonfires of books do in classical totalitarian regimes.

"It seems a replay of historical experience that the bias displayed by today’s media should be aimed consistently at the shredded remains of liberalism," Wolin writes: "Recall that an element common to most 20th century totalitarianism, whether Fascist or Stalinist, was hostility towards the left. In the United States, the left is assumed to consist solely of liberals, occasionally of ‘the left wing of the Democratic Party,’ never of democrats."

Skillful Orchestration

Liberals, socialists, trade unionists, independent journalists and intellectuals, many of whom were once important voices in our society, have been silenced or targeted for elimination within corporate-controlled academia, the media and government. Wolin, who taught at Berkeley and later at Princeton, is arguably the country’s foremost political philosopher. And yet his book was virtually ignored. This is also why Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney, along with intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, are not given a part in our national discourse.

The uniformity of opinion is reinforced by the skillfully orchestrated mass emotions of nationalism and patriotism, which paints all dissidents as "soft" or "unpatriotic." The "patriotic" citizen, plagued by fear of job losses and possible terrorist attacks, unfailingly supports widespread surveillance and the militarized state. This means no questioning of the $1 trillion in defense-related spending. It means that the military and intelligence agencies are held above government, as if somehow they are not part of government. The most powerful instruments of state power and control are effectively removed from public discussion. We, as imperial citizens, are taught to be contemptuous of government bureaucracy, yet we stand like sheep before Homeland Security agents in airports and are mute when Congress permits our private correspondence and conversations to be monitored and archived. We endure more state control than at any time in American history.

Transformed Citizenry

The civic, patriotic and political language we use to describe ourselves remains unchanged. We pay fealty to the same national symbols and iconography. We find our collective identity in the same national myths. We continue to deify the Founding Fathers. But the America we celebrate is an illusion. It does not exist. Our government and judiciary have no real sovereignty. Our press provides diversion, not information. Our organs of security and power keep us as domesticated and as fearful as most Iraqis. Capitalism, as Karl Marx understood, when it emasculates government, becomes a revolutionary force. And this revolutionary force, best described as inverted totalitarianism, is plunging us into a state of neo-feudalism, perpetual war and severe repression. The Supreme Court decision is part of our transformation by the corporate state from citizens to prisoners.

Copyright © 2010 Truthdig, L.L.C.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent, writes a column published every Monday on Truthdig. His latest book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

YouTube - Rich Man's War

Monday, January 18, 2010

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

How could the health care issue have turned from a reform that was going to make Barack Obama ten feet tall into a poison pill for Democratic senators? Whether or not Martha Coakley squeaks through in Massachusetts on Tuesday, the health bill has already done incalculable political damage and will likely do more. Polls show that the public now opposes it by margins averaging ten to fifteen points, and widening. It is hard to know which will be the worse political defeat -- losing the bill and looking weak, or passing it and leaving it as a piñata for Republicans to attack between now and November.
more here:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

O'Reilly spills the beans
The operative words from Billo:
"If you go after Obama in an 'unfair' way I'm going to mock you."
In essence O'Reilly admits Fox is unfair toward Obama.
Well there goes fair and balanced down the rat hole.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

YouTube - American soldiers are waking up

Friday, January 01, 2010

Good riddance Decade of disgrace


Strange Days Indeed

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

(Image: Troy Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: gravem / Flickr)

Most peculiar, mama. Hoo.
- John Lennon

I know, I know, the decade doesn't really end until next year, but whatever to that. The calendar police can come and arrest me, because I'm calling this damnable decade over and done with first thing Friday morning. To hell with it, and anything that looks like it. The odometer is rolling, and I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

I mean, what else can you say about a decade that began when the world didn't end? Everyone woke up on Y2K-plus-one expecting to find fifty million computers transformed into inert paperweights because of a glitch in the calendar software, and when that didn't happen, there was a bewildered sigh of relief. Prophesies of doom have always been a part of the show on the eve of triple-zero years - Did they call it Y1K back in 999? - and the advent of 2000 was no different. The trains ran (mostly) on time as usual, planes didn't tumble out of the sky and things rolled along exactly as they had the day before the end of the world failed to come to pass.

The last night before this finally-fading decade began also ushered in the last year of the Clinton administration, a night that was almost certainly that administration's finest hour, though very few were aware of it at the time. On New Year's Eve 1999, terrorist plots were underway to attack Los Angeles International Airport, the Amman Radisson Hotel in Jordan, several religious sites in Israel and the USS The Sullivan Brothers at dock in Yemen. Thanks to the leadership of the United States and broad international military, intelligence and police cooperation, every single one of the intended millennium terrorist attacks was thwarted. The Clinton administration began the new decade by proving beyond doubt that the will and intent of terrorists can be stopped, that explosions and death are not a fait accompli whenever a plot is undertaken and that the US and its allies can, with proper preparation and execution, derail and defeat even the best laid plans of dangerous men.

The lesson, tragically, did not take hold during the subsequent administration.

There have been a hundred billion words written and spoken about the calamity that befell this nation on September 11, 2001. Who did it, how it happened, who was responsible and what it all means: these questions and a thousand others have been poured over endlessly since the attacks took place, a cottage industry of investigation and speculation ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. From Unocal pipelines through Afghanistan to theories on controlled demolition and even to missiles instead of airplanes, from Congressional investigations to "Nobody could have anticipated," the debate over how and why 9/11 took place has raged since that first plane appeared on the New York horizon.

One event above all others, however, remains paramount in the cause-and-effect nexus of 9/11: the presidential election debacle of 2000. Nine months before the attack, the Supreme Court leaned on a preposterous Equal Protection argument and handed the White House to a man who became, in the fullness of time, the worst president in the history of the office. The disastrous Bush administration, staffed from stem to stern by deranged neoconservatives like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, failed to follow up on any aspect of the anti-terrorism efforts of the Clinton administration - incoming NSA Director Condoleezza Rice famously ignored the voluminous al-Qaeda files left for her by outgoing NSA Director Sandy Berger, reading them only after the attacks had taken place - and likewise ignored a blizzard of warnings about an impending attack, including the now-infamous Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001. As far as failures go, for the decade's first presidential administration, these were just for openers.

It is not at all difficult to argue that if the broken election of 2000 had not taken place; if the right-leaning majority on the Supreme Court did not take rank partisanship to the highest and lowest levels by giving that election to their party's man instead of letting the votes be counted in the proper fashion; if Al Gore had been allowed to assume the office he rightly won, his administration would have continued to pursue the rigorous Clinton-era anti-terror policies that had successfully defeated those would-be millennium murderers. In other words, but for the sad and sorry electoral debacle at the outset of this decade, two tall towers would still stand in New York City, the Pentagon would be whole and there would be no hero's graveyard in that field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Three events - half a dozen terror attacks thwarted in the final year of Clinton's stewardship, followed by the ersatz ascendance of a brigand and his band of fools who came to power by way of a broad-daylight fraud that would make even Tammany Hall blush, followed by a day of horror that should have never been allowed to happen at all - came to define these last ten years. All that came to pass is aftermath, a deadly chain of events loosed by those three truths. For all his myriad flaws, President Clinton was the most significant anti-terror leader in American history, but the hard work of his administration was ignored by a bunch of Bible-beating absolutists who thought they knew better. Their failures - "failures" being used loosely, because a few special people got rich at our expense, and it's awfully hard to call that an accident - are our inheritance.

You know the rest all too well. Nearly 5,000 of the best soldiers America has to offer are dead. Almost 50,000 more are wounded, most of them permanently. Bush's wars have cut down a full third of America's combat strength, leaving us with fingers crossed that no other would-be foes decide to see if this punch-drunk champion can be taken down. Less important than the lives lost is the very present truth that hundreds of billions of dollars got spent to no good end, except to make a few people you'll never meet rich. The economic calamity still enveloping this nation should be called "The Iraq Depression," as it is a simple, bloody and absolute fact that we would all be better off in every measurable way had Bush not ignored Clinton's good work, had Bush not assumed an office he did not win and had this nation not been taken into the nightmare that defined these last ten years.

Those three realities are what birthed the disgraced and disgraceful American era we were forced to endure these last ten years, and will suffer still for many more years to come, thanks to the myriad nightmare consequences of the failed decade that opened the close of what was known as the American Century. Things are different now, at least on the surface, but the cancer remains. The last ten years were not up to us - we voted, and our votes were cast aside in the most cynical fashion imaginable, with ghastly consequences - but the next ten years are an open book.

Let's see if we can do better this time.