January 26, 2010

Democracy Blues

“Democracy is dead!” let us cry, let us shout,
Democracy ist tott, let us whale, let it out.   
Our North, our South, our East and West,
Our working week and Sunday rest,
It’s dead, “its deeeaaaaad!!!” in theory and in deed,
Our noon, our midnight, our talk, and our lead.
So let airplanes and fighter jets, and even a drone
Go moaning way up high, yes, and make known,
By scrawling on the sky, “You suckers ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”  

Not exactly Auden.
But consider the latest Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, as the last nail in the coffin. As pointed out by The Center for Public Integrity, the still-existing ban on foreign involvement in political advertising and elections does not refer to corporations operating within the US but are controlled by those who are overseas. “With the corporate campaign expenditure ban now being declared unconstitutional,” says J. Gerald Hebert, executive director and director of litigation at the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center, “domestic corporations controlled by foreign governments or other foreign entities are free to spend money to elect or defeat federal candidates.” As Greg Palast writes, “there is nothing that stops, say, a Delaware-incorporated handmaiden of the Burmese junta from picking a Congressman or two with a cache of loot masked by a corporate alias.” The implications of what Palast refers to as the “hidden money funding, whether foreign or domestic” unleashed by the Court’s 5-4 decision means that foreign investors, like the Chinese, who hold mortgages on our Treasury will raise alarm about the costs of government spending, and have a direct inroad into buying the White House and Congress for opponents to government spending.


snarky mc snarkster said...

The minority opinion in Citizens United should prove interesting. There should have been grounds on equal protection for a refusal to turn the Court's work into an exasperation of existing inequalities of protection. This could have all been argued on the basis of the First Amendment. For instance, its not that crazy to argue that the political speech of whistle blowers is currently not protected, neither shouters of fire! in a crowded theater, but that of corporation are regardless of its truth value. Public employees also cannot post on bulletin boards political advertisements but private companies can. Keep campaigning in poetry!

snarky mc snarkster said...

you may also be interested in reading this:


Pietro de Simone said...

considering how the law has never been a strength of mine I thank you for the input.

Pietro de Simone said...

snarky's post made me wonder, as Glenn Greenwald pointed out...War on Terror detainees suspected of wrongdoing can be held against their will for any indefinite period of time - and are not protected by First Amendment protections but corporations are?

Interestingly, Greenwald admits deep ambivalence about the ruling but is a First Amendment "absolutist" enough to argue that the majority got some things right in their decision. AFter perusing some of the comments to his blog. I realize, as Justice Stevens did years ago, that money is NOT speech but only property that is used, amongst other purposes, to buy and spend other means, facilitators, and venues FOR speech...and thus should be limited and not granted First Amendment protection.

Needless to say, I also cling to my original argument against the majority that corporations aren't people, and therefore are not protected by the First Amendment either. The Constitution was written by and for We the People, not We the Corporations. Corporations, furthermore, are only business constructs, as one of the posters in Greenwald's comments section writes, with one legally mandated purpose: to make as much $ as possible, and therefore aren't engaged in political speech to be protected.

If corporations are somehow equivalent to natural beings - how come they don't have the right to vote? or should they? perhaps carry fire-arms?