From the press release:
Sanders’ Saving American Democracy Amendment would make clear that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people and that corporations may be regulated by Congress and state legislatures. It also would preserve the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. It would incorporate a century-old ban on corporate campaign donations to candidates, and establish broad authority for Congress and states to regulate spending in elections.
This needs to be done.
Corporations have their hooks into every politician at almost every level, and right-wing media has done a nice job selling people on the idea that corporations ARE people.
The only way we will ever have a responsive government is if we get the corrupting power of money out of the game.
Ideas should be introduced and debated on an even playing field and live and die based on their merits — not on a marketing campaign by whoever spends the most.
A fact sheet linked from Sander’s press release makes a strong case:
Before Citizens United, corporations had to abide by the ruling in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce that limited their participation in elections to political action committees. PACS are funded by voluntary contributions from the employees of a corporation, as opposed to the general treasury fund. The Supreme Court also determined that limitations on corporate spending in elections were permissible in McConnell v. FEC, a decision that upheld portions of the McCain-Feingold reforms that aimed to reign in corporate electioneering.
Because of Citizens United, corporations are now allowed to tap into their profits to spend money advocating for or against candidates of their choosing. Even worse, they can do it anonymously. By undermining the very concept of campaign finance laws, like the ones limiting individual contributions to candidates, the Citizens United decision even threatens a 1907 law passed by Congress prohibiting corporations from directly contributing to candidates. If we don’t take action, before we know it, the Supreme Court could rule that corporations can directly to contribute to candidates for public office.
Read the proposed amendment here.
I’d love for this to pass, but I doubt there’s a chance of that happening.
It seems that MSNBC has taken swift action against one of it’s liberal stars for donating to three Democrats in the recent midterm campaign cycle.
Keith Olbermann SUSPENDED From MSNBC Indefinitely Without Pay
The major crime, it appears, is not requesting permission from NBC brass before doing so.
Over at another cable outlet, one that pretends to be “balance” for the super biased liberal media, standards are different.
Let’s take a look at the journalistic ethics of Fox News:
- Allowed Glenn Beck to attend, host and promote Tea Parties across the nation
- News Corp donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association
- Fox News sponsored several Tea Parties, providing millions in free advertising
- Fox “reporters” at the anti-Democrat protests were caught stage-managing the crowds to push a particular message
- The cable outlet coordinated attacks on specific Obama Administration employees by fabricating false stories (Media Matters has a nice summation, “2009: A Year of Fox News Political Activism”
- The Media Matters piece also mentions that they allowed sleaze operative Dick Morris to raise money on air.
- In coordination with lie-merchant Andrew Breitbart, Fox launched a sustained campaign of falsehoods and misinformation about ACORN
Anyway, you get the idea.
By the way, Fox personalities regularly make appearances to pump up the conservative base and donate money to conservative candidates like clockwork.
I’m counting down to hear the snickers and feigned outrage from the right. And I’m also sighing and rolling my eyes in advance of hearing:
“MSNBC is exactly like Fox!”
No it isn’t. Not even a little bit.
- Keith Olbermann Suspended From MSNBC Over Political Donations (lezgetreal.com)
- Olbermann contributed to three Dems (politico.com)
- Olbermann’s checkbook (washingtonmonthly.com)
So let me get this straight.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is coming out as a strong advocate for outsourcing jobs overseas — so businesses don’t have to pay Americans to do the work:
As suggested by the title of this excellent ThinkProgress article, dozens of foreign companies are donating money to the Chamber, which in turn has launched a $75 million campaign to attack Democrats on the issue of — you guessed it — job policy.
In fact, there are a number of companies (listed in the article) that exist only to outsource jobs to their respective countries.
Despite the petulant denials of the Chamber, public records show that money from foreign donors IS part of $75 million aimed at bringing Democrats down.
To be clear, money from foreign companies goes into the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) account, which is the same account used to fund the attack campaign:
On Tuesday, appearing on Fox News, Josten claimed that only 60 multinational companies are members of the Chamber, and it receives only $100,000 from its foreign affiliations. However, ThinkProgress blew this claim out of the water with proof that the Chamber is accepting at least $885,000 in direct donations from over 80 other foreign firms (in addition to the multinational members of the Chamber like BP, Siemens, and Shell Oil).
The Chamber refuses to disclose who is funding the effort, preferring to operate in a cloud of secrecy. We’re just supposed to take their word that nothing hinky is going on.
Nope. Sorry, that’s not going to happen. Recent polling is showing that the American people aren’t going to take the Chamber’s word for it, either.
But an important part of the story is being missed. The Chamber boasts proudly on it’s own website of working against the interests of working Americans:
Promotions to join the Chamber have included promises that foreign firms obtain “access to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and everything that it does” as well as pledges to help the foreign firms promote free trade policies in America. Chamber staffers from the Chamber’s Business Councils have claimed they help their foreign (and domestic) members wage a “two-front battle to knock down trade barriers abroad and keep our markets open at home.” Currently, the Chamber has attacked Democratic lawmakers for resisting a free trade deal with Korea.
We have an U.S.-based organization that takes foreign money to promote anti-American trade policies and sending jobs overseas.
So, we’ll see in a few weeks how much influence this despicable organization has on the electoral process.
It looks like the liberal media has finally shown its true colors after disclosing they are spending millions to elect Democrats into office.
Oh, wait — it was News Corp (owner of Faux News), and they just spent another million to get Republicans back in office:
Conservatives from mainstream newspapers to the blogosphere immediately decried the move, lambasting Fox, and….well, no.
The donation, to the extremely right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce, follows another $1 million gift to the Republican Governor’s Association earlier this year.
Imagine the outcry had the situation been reversed.
At least there is transparency to disclose this fact — not that it will make any difference.
Fox lost whatever claim it had to being a news organization long ago, and has regularly confirmed their status as a propaganda arm of the GOP by their on air sponsorship of the Tea Party rallies and manufacture of race-baiting non-stories designed to whip up their low-information following.
The American Progressive Party linked to an illuminating article outlining the 14 Points of Fascism .
NOTE: The above 14 Points was written in 2004 by Dr. Laurence Britt, a political scientist. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of: Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile).
To summarize, they are:
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
5. Rampant sexism
6. A controlled mass media
7. Obsession with national security
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
9. Power of corporations protected
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
14. Fraudulent elections
Read the article and see if the similarities with the current political movement on the right are superficial or go to its heart.
Update: A YouTube reminder of who we are talking about:
- The Historical Danger Of The Tea Party (themoderatevoice.com)
Andrew Sullivan posted this on The Daily Dish the other day.
From Sullivan and Wikipedia:
An ant mill is a phenomenon where a group of army ants separated from the main foraging party lose the pheromone track and begin to follow one another, forming a continuously rotating circle. The ants will eventually die of exhaustion. This has been reproduced in laboratories and the behaviour has also been produced in ant colony simulations. This phenomenon is a side effect of the self-organizing structure of ant colonies. Each ant follows the ant in front of it, and this will work until something goes wrong and an ant mill forms. An ant mill was first described by William Beebe who observed a mill 1,200 feet (365 m) in circumference. It took each ant 2.5 hours to make one revolution. Similar phenomena have been noted in processionary caterpillars and fish.
Sullivan remarks that this is a great metaphor for the long-term effects of “epistemic closure”.
The term, appropriated from philosophy, means (in terms of the political blogosphere) the tendency for conservative media to become untethered from reality — accepting no new ideas or entertaining or discussing in any meaningful way ideas which they disagree with.
Sounds about right.
So it seems clear that the Republicans haven’t learned from the past — or simply think the gains outweigh the negatives.
Thomas Frank detailed in his terrific book What’s The Matter With Kansas? how the wealthy conservative elite used wedge issues in local Kansas politics to turn a formerly blue-collar state that voted Democratic into a GOP stronghold.
Frank outlines how the conservatives thought that abortion, gay-baiting, anti-science issues could be used as issues to turn the working-class away from bread and butter issues like jobs, healthcare and education. While they had folks in a lather, the Republican leadership found ways to fool workers into thinking progressive taxation and other policies that bolster the poor and middle class were evil.
The elite, monied conservatives didn’t really care about those issues. They did (and have done) nothing to achieve their stated goal of outlawing abortion. The war on science (teaching creationism, lying about global warming, halting stem cell research) were all just handles to move the uninformed masses to support tax cuts for the rich, eliminate regulation of their corporate masters, and line their pockets in lobbyist cash.
Then something happened. The whipped up rabble in Kansas started running candidates who actually believed the things that were only wedge issues for the elite. The old Republican guard was voted out, and the new, radical Republicans took over Kansas politics and sent these nuts to Congress.
With the news last night of wins by Tea Party candidates in Delaware and New York, it’s clear that the genie is out of the bottle again.
The Tea Party “movement” was started with Astroturf seed money from Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks. They and their sponsors in the health insurance industry thought they could whip up low-information voters to halt legislation that would put an end to the insurance fat cats’ practices of collecting money and providing little service.
Now, by golly, those folks are actually running candidates and sending Republicans packing.
In the short term, this may be good news for the Democrats.
However, the more the Tea Party mentality catches on, the harder it is for a representative democratic society to operate.
Tea Partiers have no serious proposals to better the country. They have a list of unfocused complaints centered on the black man in the White House.
You could ask why their concern for fiscal responsibility didn’t manifest itself until after January of 2009. After all, The Bush Administration created an unfunded entitlement program that added billions to the budget deficit Plus he started two expensive wars that have seen billions in taxpayer dollars disappearing into a cloud of incompetence and corruption.
Or take the idea of lost freedom (because providing access to healthcare is “socialist”). Were these people in a coma when Republicans very publicly supported the idea of warrantless wiretaps, imprisoning people without due process, kidnapping people from around the world and torturing them?
Dialogue and a free exchange of ideas isn’t possible with people this far gone. They know everything they “need” to know, and no amount of education or presentation of facts is likely to get a one of them to reconsider the nonsense they are spouting — or even offer any proposal of how to fix the very things they are complaining about. It’s a minor victory to get them past the factually challenged talking points they regurgitate like good little sheep.
And now these sheep feel empowered.
So, the more candidates like Christine O’Donnell (R-Venus) win primaries across the nation, the more the Republican party will lean in that direction to try and gather those voters under their rapidly shrinking tent — taking the dialogue further to the right, and away from an arena where discussion of liberal and progressive ideas will be countenanced by the rabidly partisan right wing.
I hope I’m wrong, but the cheering from Democrats rings hollow in my ears.
We need to bring the discussion back to reality, and the more we demand that real ideas and solutions be discussed by our lawmakers, the better off we will be as a society.
Update: Matthew Yglesias seems to agree with me.
Update 2: Andrew Sullivan, too:
I wonder if this doesn’t represent some kind of tipping point for the right, the moment their asinine, vacuous Palinist blather really did meet the reality of this country’s profound problems and the need to confront them rather than escape into a fantasy world of cultural paranoia, religious extremism and neurotic nationalism.
- Christine O’Donnell brings unlikely Tea Party triumph to Delaware (guardian.co.uk)
- The spread of the TEA party movement (tfa.net)
- FreedomWorks Refuses To Endorse DE Tea Party Favorite Christine O’Donnell (huffingtonpost.com)
Quite honestly, Stewart is one of the few folks who are doing the most basic journalism out there.
Republican positions depend on people being distracted and deeply enraged — about gossamer nothing issues. Under the cold light of facts, the Republican record and their myriad tangle of lies, dishonesty and hypocrisy are readily apparent to anyone with half a brain.
The rest of the corporate media establishment spend a lot of time being “fair” and pretending that all arguments carry equal weight — when a simple look at the facts (easily obtainable records, video, audio recordings) could easily cut to the heart of the matter.
Instead, the lazy, ratings-driven media creates a false “two-sides” dichotomy that bears not resemblance to reality.
Position A: The moon is a rocky object that orbits the earth
Position B: The moon is a hole cut in a big black sheet that makes up the sky
In the mainstream media, what we would see is an interview of the a supporter of position A, followed by something like this nonsense:
“…but detractors say that people who hold Position A are part of a NASA cover-up, and the moon is merely the light coming from behind the big sheet that wraps the earth. Back to you, Vance.”
And that’s assuming that there aren’t more sides to the story — as there are in most complex policy issues.
Stewart knows this game, and educates his audience to be media savvy.
Unlike Fox, the Daily Show host has a young audience that will continue to grow as the elderly who regularly view Murdoch’s monstrosity die off, leaving no one to replace them. The Colbert Report, which follows Stewart’s show, also has a vibrant, smart younger viewing demographic.
That’s why, Easley argues, Stewart and the hilarious Stephen Colbert are such a threat to Fox:
Fox News has made no secret of their distaste for Colbert, and especially Jon Stewart, and it is pretty obvious why. Colbert and Stewart are educating an entire generation of younger viewers to critically think about what they see in the media. The long term health of Fox News is going to depend on their ability to attract and retain younger viewers. These are the same viewers that are watching Jon Stewart expose and mock Fox News on a nightly basis. This is why FNC goes out of it’s way to impugn the credibility of Stewart anytime they can.
This is a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dismal mediascape.
The Republican war on science and intellectualism has taken its toll, and the consumers of right-wing pabulum often display pride in their ignorance and lack of education.
For those in the reality-based community, the nation would be better served to develop serious news sources that use the reporting basics Stewart uses to good effect on his nightly comedy program.
Truth and facts are a killer to failed Republican ideas. And they know it.
- Jon Stewart Highlights Anti-Muslim Bigotry at Fox News (redstateprogressive.com)
- Jon Stewart Skewers Fox News And MSNBC For Skewed Coverage Of President Obama (mediaite.com)
- Jon Stewart Vs. Fox News: Media Fighting Fair [Media] (gawker.com)
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