This throw away line was incorporated as context in the reporting of the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, that turned over the reins of government to the corporations. PAY ATTENTION:
"Justice Samuel Alito noted during the September arguments that foreign-owned media corporations have the same First Amendment rights that American companies do."
Did you read that in any local newspaper? What about in your local or national evening news, did you hear it there?
Last week a summary reported that ABC and NBC together devoted less than an entire 60 seconds to the decision itself, while devoting 30 minutes to John Edwards' love child. Now, the fractured foibles of John and Elizabeth Edwards are admittedly quite titillating to the average American voter; their situation is easy to understand, and requires not a single active brain cell to digest. But, is any aspect of the Edwards' traveling circus something anyone not directly associated with those involved needs to know?
Or, consider this: for five days last week, the California coast was hammered by El NiÃ±o storms. Good Morning America's weather dude, Sam Champion, spent each of those days perched on a saturated hillside in the LA suburb of La CaÃ±ada/Flintridge with a yellow backhoe as backdrop, supplemented by ongoing shots and on-the-scene video reports of an apartment building in Pacifica, a suburb of San Francisco, that was teetering precariously on a cliff, rolled on and on and on. Who in Wichita or Memphis needs to know any of that? Sure, maybe a 30-second spot, because the visuals are captivating. But . . . c'mon Diane and George, hour after hour, day after day, "We take you now to Sam Champion, who's covering the terrible weather situation in California."
Channeling Fiddler on the Roof's Teyve, "On the other hand . . .", let's take a moment to ponder -- seriously -- the interfering role that corporate money played in the health care fights through the greater part of 2009. The pharmaceutical and health insurance industries, always having the GOP in their hip pockets, applied full-court presses to a handful of otherwise little-known Democratic senators and one independent (??) senator from Connecticut, and aired ads that were naught but the most scandalous of lies. The product of their insinuating themselves into the quagmire was a maggot-infested sausage that no one would want, exactly as was their intent from the outset.
As if that invidiousness was somehow inadequate came the January 25 New York Times story, "Insurer Steps Up Fight to Control Health Care Cost." (click here=rss&emc=rss) Health insurer UnitedHealthcare is demanding that, in order to remain in their provider network, hospitals must agree, via contract, to accept a 50% reduction in permitted fees and charges should the hospitals not notify the insurer within 24 hours of a United insured's admission.
Picture a 9-11 calamity, or a Hurricane Katrina, or a California earthquake and the chaos medical facilities would be struggling to deal with, and, oh by the way, some admitting clerk, busy with a ton of other matters, forgot to get that notification in under the ticking 24-hour clock deadline; sorry, ka-ching -- 50% more into the insurance company cash register. For each patient. "Ka-ching!" "Ka-ching!" "Ka-ching!" "Ka-ching!" "Ka-ching!" "Ka-ching!" Ohhh, that's music to an insurance company exec's ears -- more heart-warming, tear-welling beautiful than anything Beethoven or Brahms or Tchaikovsky ever wrote.
So let's not kid ourselves about the lengths to which a corporation will go in pursuit of profits that will drive share prices and, hence, executive bonuses higher.
Bad enough as a severe understatement when it is limited to just US corporations. But Yosemite Sam (Alito), a George W. Bush Supreme Court appointee, has claimed that any corporation, regardless of its domicile, be it Beijing or Moscow or BogotÃ¡ or Havana or Tehran or anywhere, will have (Ooops . . . Scratch that. Replace "will have" with "has") as equal a right as you or I -- as much a "person" as anyone who entered the world by leaving a mother's womb -- to speak its piece. And, oh yeah, money is speech. And oh boy, does ever it talk!
But ah, we return you now to your regularly scheduled programming: you know, the stuff that titillates and entertains the vast majority of those who are easily titillated and entertained.
-- Ed Tubbs
Palm Springs, CA
A post script: As any legislation intended to counter Citizens would be contested all the way to the same US Supreme Court that has held the rights of free speech and free press constitutionally extend to corporations, such legislation would be doomed to fail. It will require a Constitutional amendment that, by definition, immediately becomes as Constitutional as any of the existing seven original articles and 27 amendments, to rectify what is clearly the single most egregious and dangerous decision to have ever departed that august body. It is therefore urgent that such an amending effort commence immediately. To that end the following is offered:
"For the purposes of protections and guarantees afforded to a person, or, in the plural, as persons or the people, under this United States Constitution, and which have been or shall come to be interpreted as such, "persons' and "people' shall constitute and be defined as pertaining exclusively to natural born human beings."
If you agree that urgent action is necessary to combat the Supreme Court's assault on the integrity of governance, and find the proposed amendment applicable to that end, please copy the text of same, and forward it to everyone you know, to every federal legislator, to every state legislator, and to every media outlet.