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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/24/10

The Arsenal of Kleptocracy

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History moves in fits and starts, traveling stealthily until suddenly it erupts like a volcano and something new is born. Like the pangs of birth, we can see it coming and even more we can feel its presence. After the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Bush vs. Gore, I thought that never in my life I would ever live to see a worse decision than the Supreme Court's ruling yesterday.

The way in which the media has handled the news of this latest decision is case in point of how catastrophic the ruling is. Mainstream internet news sites barely mentioned it and in many cases ignored it completely in favor of movie news and Conan O'Brian's departure from NBC.

Keith Olbermann's resident legal scholar, Jonathan Turley, said last night that he reluctantly came down on the side of the First Amendment. That's all well and good in the academic halls, but in practical terms this is the chloroforming of the First Amendment. The premise long held by conservatives is that because corporations are legal persons they deserve the same right of free speech as actual biological persons. Yet a corporation is an amalgamation of biological persons, so how can it speak?

You can see the perversion, speech becomes money and the more money you have the more free speech you have. The less money you have the less voice you have. The Supreme Court's ruling makes Bush vs. Gore look like a bad call in a PeeWee Football game. Rather than picking one President, the court has institutionalized that from now on money is the true voice of the people. Don't have any money? Then shut the f*ck up!

The original case involved a hit piece movie about Hillary Clinton made by an independent 527 group. The film featured the opinions of Ann Coulter and Newt Gingrich. The lower court ruled that it could not be aired because rather than lobbying for a position about issues, it was about one candidate. Jonathan Turley tried to compare it to Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." That was a ridiculous comparison because "Fahrenheit 9/11" was a movie about a politician already in office that was shown in first-run movie houses to a public that voluntarily paid their money to go see it.

The Clinton movie was about a candidate running for office to be paid for by an independent third party to be aired on the public airwaves. One of the first rulings ever handed down by the FCC was that "the airwaves are free," they belong to the people of the United States. The Supreme Court's ruling says that they belong only to those with the money to purchase them. This will do to politics what pharmaceutical advertisements did for the drug industry.

Your TV commercials will start to look like this: as birds fly across the tundra in the Alaskan sunrise, and maybe a moose snorts out frosty breaths above a beautiful valley, the voice over begins, "We know that there has been a lot of controversy about drilling for oil in the Arctic. But America needs oil to grow our economy and to hold down high prices at the pump. We here at Exxon have been drilling for oil in Alaska for over fifty years and have never had a major accident or spill and we plan to keep it that way."

Well, that all depends on what your definition of major is; it is an opinion and the court ruled that you can't stifle corporate opinion. Your local news programs will lead with stories like, "Local shopping malls were flooded today as shoppers rushed to purchase the new Apple I-phone. A six-inch water main broke today closing one of the cities busiest intersections. City officials dispatched a crew of union workers to repair the problem and though the waters have been stopped for now, city officials report that no progress has yet been made."

We have seen throughout the healthcare debate the influence of corporations. A bill that goes into the law-making machine with the purpose of cutting costs and providing just a modicum of care for the American people emerges as a corporate giveaway. It would enslave the very people that it was supposed to liberate to purchase what they couldn't afford in the first place from the people who set the prices.

We have a Congress that is entirely dysfunctional because of special interest money. We have a President that ran for office as the great populist who, since his election, has become the great corporatist. A President who has continued virtually every policy of the previous administration while offering alms to the crowd with nice speeches and appointing a transgender woman to the commerce department.

The President's first Supreme Court appointee, Sonia Sotomayor, to her credit voted with the minority. But always remember that Sotomayor is no firebrand liberal; she was on John McCain's short list as well. Eighty-six percent of her decisions sided with the corporations, and the US Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street Journal both thought that she was an excellent candidate.

Since the year 2000 our civil rights have been eviscerated. You can be strip searched and detained just for tying to board an airliner, and with what probable cause? Because they want to. You can be stopped at a police roadblock and asked, "Where are you going?" Your answer of "None of your business" will bring you downtown on a charge of interfering with an officer. The officer might ask for permission to search your car for drugs and if you refuse they will detain you, as your very refusal is probable cause enough. If they take three or four hours, well you didn't have anywhere to go, like work, did you? You can just call the office and explain that you will be late because you refused to let the police search your car for drugs.

The government can tap your phone and read your mail. They can search your house without a warrant and arrest you and freeze your bank accounts making your own defense impossible. Now with yesterday's ruling of the Supreme Court you have become no more than corporate chattel. Not since Hitler's Enabling Acts reduced the German population to Hitler's vassals has there been a more diabolical decision, and to think, we overthrew the King of England because of a tax stamp.

If we have learned anything from eight years of the Bush administration and one year of Obama's, it is that corporations can't rule. Greed doesn't work as a form of government. We face an inept Congress and a rudderless White House more interested in public perception than in government good. Just by way of example, those receiving extended unemployment benefits don't show up in the government's unemployment figures. That's in a different box, so when you hear on the news that unemployment is stabilizing, it's bullshit. Around 613,000 applied for extended benefits last month and hence disappeared from the unemployment roles.

There are not enough colors in my paint box to paint this as black as it needs to be. The Dred Scott case, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Munich Pact of 1938, they punctuate our history as points of no return. Ron Paul recently claimed that the CIA has usurped power in the federal government and I tend to take the things that Paul says with a grain of salt, but I no longer doubt that anything is possible. But I do know what is probable. Economic collapse, corporate collapse, blood in the streets or eternal servitude. Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, we are all in the same boat now.

No response is too extreme, general strikes, boycotts, marches or taking to the hills and setting up armed freeholds. Yesterday your free and democratic government was assassinated. Rather than with a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, it was assassinated with the bang of a gavel. Alan Grayson has proposed five pieces of legislation to choke off the expected flood of corporate cash, forgetting that any bill you can pass, can and will be unpassed later. The one party corporate state is born and cooperation is complicity, and complicity is treason.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." John F. Kennedy
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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)

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