Blog Archives

Bernie Sanders vs. Citizens United

Just a few days after Los Angeles California voted in a resolution that did not let Corporations be considered individuals, Bernie Sanders has proposed a Constitutional Amendment which will wipe out the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.

Here it is:

Sen. Sanders’ proposed Saving American Democracy amendment states:

SECTION 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.

SECTION 2. Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.

SECTION 3. Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.

SECTION 4. Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.


Whether or not this will get anywhere has yet to be seen… but at least we can count on Bernie to keep it in front of the field during the upcoming elections.

I am curious about the Conservative concept of “Socialism”

“Those in power are blind devotees to private enterprise. They accept that degree of socialism implicit in the vast subsidies to the military-industrial-complex, but not that type of socialism which maintains public projects for the disemployed and the unemployed alike.”

William O. Douglas, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice,  1969

Whenever one of the Conservative (read Republican) members of our Congress, or those campaigning for the Presidential nomination, discuss Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid. or unemployment funding, you are certain to hear the word “socialism” pop up with an extremely negative cloaking. It has happened so frequently that the word has lost any of it’s original meaning (“a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole” – Webster’s) and, indeed, has been connected to everything from community farming to Communism.

Socialism appeared as a concept in the early 19th Century in France (“socialisme’) which came from the concept of “social” (needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities : we are social beings as well as individuals) or “society” (the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community)…a term which itself goes back to the 16th Century.

The fact that our 21st century civilization shows that the need for the companionship of individuals, states and countries in order to face potentially devastating changes in climate, creating non-polluting energy methods to protect our air and water and educating our children to eventually take over the mess that has been made on our watch, is so obvious that many don’t see the forest for the trees.

Our job should be to make the trees visible to all, and especially to the people we elect to office… the people who make the rules and allot the funds to give us those necessary services.

And it’s not like the anti-socialist campaign of the current Conservative is something new, urged on by Corporations that are concerned… apparently by Federal regulation… only of making profits for a limited number of shareholders and executives. Justice Douglas’s quote from over four decades ago points out that it has been present for awhile. In fact, if we go back further to when Eisenhower warned us about the “military industrial complex”, something his whole career had given him great insight into, we see our post-WWII economy as a challenge we never met.

Have you wondered why, in all the discussions of the budget and raising of the debt ceiling, we have not heard people yelling for cuts in the military expenditures that keep our remaining industrial giants flowing in dough.  As a whole “community”, the military/industry mix is about as socialist as you can get. Add to that the VA medical system which provides the closest thing to “socialized medicine” (another concept that Conservatives would like to deny the average guy) that exists in the world today. This system, by the way, is praised by just about every politician, probably out of guilt from sending so many of our young soldiers into a life of crippling disabilities.

It is time to make a strong change of focus in our social environment, something which is not going to happen if we leave the decisions and actions to politicians. Republican or Democrat, they keep their jobs because of election funds for advertising and lobby persuasion with highly focused corporate contributions. As we saw, for instance, in the 1940s and 1950s, many cities lost the public transportation systems of mini-railroads that gave people inexpensive commuting transport … without parking, fuel and other expenses… due to the money spent by the automobile industry on lobbyists and state and federal (and local) political campaigns. General Motors even bragged about it in public.

The question is “how do we do it?” There are no easy answers, but I’m pretty sure it will take a lot of time and will begin on a very local level. Here in Shepherdstown, WV, our recent completion of a 10,000 square foot Community Garden allotting 10′ by 10′ growing plots to locals who have no planting areas in their town houses or  downtown apartments is a good example of modern socialism.  At a very low fee (starting at $20 and going up to $30 if you take three plots), which has paid for deer fence construction and publicity to get members, and with volunteers for construction of the fence (and the donation of land and so much more from a local entrepreneur who has created a neighboring public market to serve local farmers and craftspeople), community interdependence has resulted in community celebration.

This only one concept of local change which can be achieved. Tie that together with activities that follow such as expansion of public libraries (which is part of both education promotion and public interaction), involvement in schools beyond their operations budgets, group purchase alignments for reduction of basic living costs, etc., and you have a good start at what can then expand to the state level… and eventually to the national top. This can also, I would hope, be the start of a new political structure, beginning in local government and expanding upward over time.

Now… if we can only protect ourselves from corporate corruption and maintain the basic concept of “socialism”… that our community organization is controlled by ALL of it’s members and not the artificial “Citizens United” persons funded by the corporate bankbook.

Thoughts in the Afternoon…

While I’ve been waiting at home for the delivery of my SuperFocus glasses (according to UPS tracking they left the Hagerstown UPS facility at around 7:30 this morning… it is now around 1:30 in the afternoon and they are not here yet. Of course, the estimated delivery listing said they would come at “some time” today… so I’m just going to wait.

Anyway, while sitting here waiting, I was thinking about the things that make politicians the servants of corporations with endless supplies of money, while they ignore the needs of citizens who have little or no cash to spare. Notice I didn’t distinguish between Democrats and Republicans… I can cite instances where members of both parties have knuckled under to Corporate funds. Although I must say that, during this season, and especially after the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, the Republicans are a good ten times ahead of the Democrats in raising corporate donations for campaign ads (about $100.00 vs. $1,000,000.00 so far) and, unlike the small players, the Republican contributions have not been attributed to anyone… they are completely secret.

That’s going to make the campaign season a little off center as we watch TV ads and listen to radio shows. It’s going to be the responsibility of blogs like this one to keep all the players honest. So I hope as petitions come up and phone calls need to be made that my readers will be as active as necessary to help us preserve the America that is run by the People and not by the Corporate Elite.

A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Hopefully Not Come…

…and that is taking Medicare private to insurance companies, or letting private corporations voucher it. We’ve seen how overpriced and poorly administered (from a Senior’s point of view) “Medicare Advantage” has turned out, why in hell would we put all of Medicare under the same Corporate boot?

But that’s just what the Republicans want to do… They say, of course, that those of us over 55 will have no changes in our Medicare plans. They forgot to add “yet.”

As Paul Krugmann put it:

Oh, and for all those older Americans who voted GOP last year because those nasty Democrats were going to cut Medicare, I have just one word: suckers!

What will happen to those Seniors who are exclusively dependent on Social Security when they can’t afford to purchase vouchers and are cut out of medical care. This is what the newly proposed Republican budget plan leaves us with.

As for Barack Obama, we are not sure if he will stand up to this concept or will cave in as he has so many times recently. There needs to be a spine in the Presidency, but we are passing more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy and, if we follow the Republican budget plan, we will increase the costs on the “middle class“… the class they want to eliminate.

E.J. Dionne, commenting on Obama’s response to this attack on Medicare, said this:

This will be Obama’s defining moment. Will he stand up for the principle that society takes care of those in need? Or will he cave in? I wish I had confidence in the answer.

Tom Harkin, who I am watching on the Senate floor right now, is pointing out that this is not a way of preserving Medicare, but is really a way of destroying the middle class standard of living and any safety net which we rely on for our ordinary way of life.

“The Republican assault on the middle class is breathtaking,” says Senator Harkin.

And we can only agree.

Here’s what Class War looks like – a Chart

I picked up a very good comparison of the amount of money Scott Walker and his allies in Wisconsin are ready to cut from the budget that effects middle class and union workers to the amount of money given away as tax breaks for the wealthy (reprinted from a Daily Kos post by greywolfe359):

On the left you have the “shared sacrifices” and “painful cuts” that the Republicans claim we must make to get our fiscal house in order. On the right, you can plainly see WHY these cuts are “necessary.” The reason? Because we already gave away all that money to America‘s wealthiest individuals and corporations.

This just mirrors what we’re seeing in Wisconsin, where Governor Walker (R-Koch) claims that ordinary public sector workers need to fork over at least $137 million to save the budget. Problem is, he just gave away $117 million in tax breaks for his corporate pals. This is out and out class warfare. The big corporations in America have decided that they can get even richer by raiding the public treasury. It’s time for the middle class to stand up and defend itself!

Greywolfe359 also gives us this music video for Unions standing up to the Wisconsin Class War:

I just joined The Other 98%… you should, too

Here are their stats:

We are…

Hard-working Americans who are tired of seeing CEOs and lobbyists hijack our democracy to serve themselves at the expense of everyone else.

Middle class Americans who for decades have dutifully paid our taxes while watching the biggest corporations and very wealthiest Americans pay a smaller and smaller share (50% less since 1950).

Citizens tired of borrowing trillions from China, mortgaging our children’s futures in order to give handouts to the wealthiest 2%.

Citizens tired of being ignored amidst the media fascination with the antics and misinformation of the Tea Party, a fringe 2% which distracts us from solving the very real problems facing America.

Disenfranchised Tea Partiers outraged about Wall Street bailouts and the unfairness of a system that gives massive tax breaks to global corporations and the very rich while leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab.

We are all of us…

No matter what creed, color, religion or trade, we’re all in this together. Everyone — from the single mom just scraping by to the richest man on the hill — share a common interest in keeping America the best country on Earth.

We are often too busy to be heard, but we are everywhere. And we are hopeful.

Join us.

I found them when I saw this comparison of George Soros with the Koch Brothers at The Political Carnival: