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Letters to the Editor

Harmful ruling

October 8, 2010

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To the editor:

The old saying is: “You can’t fight city hall.” What are your odds fighting a multibillion dollar corporation? In their absolutely devastating ruling (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Jan. 21, 2010), the conservative U.S. Supreme Court gave huge international corporations the unlimited ability to financially back any candidate they want, for as much money as they want.

Let’s look at BP (British Petroleum), as just one of hundreds of examples. When the Republicans were in power they were REALLY good to BP and oil companies. Regulations? The Republicans let the oil companies write them. Inspections? The Republicans slashed the number of inspectors, and turned a blind eye toward oil companies throwing parties for the oil regulatory agencies (complete with prostitutes). Hey, what could happen?

Democrats, rightly, have held BP’s financial feet to the fire for the Gulf disaster (over Republican protest). For BP, would it not make financial sense for them to pour millions of dollars into hundreds of individual congressional races, electing Republicans, who would more likely vote that BP has already paid enough? This could save BP billions of dollars. What’s to stop them?

In races all over the country the reports are flooding in. Republican candidates are spending unprecedented amounts of money on advertising. This ruling by the conservative Supreme Court has the potential to absolutely destroy our democracy and make a mockery of what this country says it stands for. Wake up, America!

Daniel Patrick Schamle,

Lawrence

Comments

jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

Individual monetary contributions are still limited. Corporate advertising is now unlimited.

This "conservative" court acted in such a way as to overturn decades of campaign finance regulation, in complete contradiction of the conservative principle of respecting precedent.

They have in fact taken away power from the government (ie. we the people) with this decision.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

jafs (anonymous) replies… “Where does the government get the power to limit individual monetary contributions?”

That is the point. Government assumes power and the courts acting in our name limits them. This action worked just as it is supposed to work.

No, the only way new powers can be granted to the government is through constitutional amendment. Courts have stretched this and healthy arguments have ensued. The Commerce clause gets a healthy work out and a lot of stretching. The issue of whether we are simply applying old interpretations to new circumstances is a good one to argue. That is not the case here.

Be careful here. A conservative backlash could use the courts to take away power that your perceive the government has. This kind of issue works both ways.

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jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

There's an article on my home page today about political consulting firms.

From the article "this is creation of narrative. Her life right now has nothing to do with the lives of people working in call centers,...but your goal is to make it appear you can identify with them."

Just one of the consultants involved makes $90,000/mth in addition to various bonuses.

One of the heads of the company has his own "created narrative" on his web site, which neatly fails to mention that he was in charge of Columbia/HCA when it committed Medicare fraud, resulting in a $1.7 billion settlement to avoid criminal charges, and was ousted by the board.

"Consultants will find the one or two little things and magnify them to make it appear the candidate is someone who has overcome difficulties and triumphed in the end."

I find it remarkable that this sort of thing isn't obviously bad and wrong to everyone, regardless of political affiliation.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

This is the biggest bunch of hogwash I have seen recently - starting with a false premise of first amendment rights and personhood. The only question is the government’s ability to restrict actions by the citizens in whatever grouping we organize ourselves. Just where does the government derive the power to limit corporations buying copy or megabytes?

You government focused people seem to constantly forget that the constitution granted power to government. Power not granted rests with us. Where did we grant them such power??? That is the only question.

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BABBOY 3 years, 6 months ago

Doesn't any one work anymore?

How can there be such long winded responses?

I do not even remember what the subject was.

They should get rid of the direct reply, impossible to read.

Blabbering idiots all of you.....

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independant1 3 years, 6 months ago

Contributors/Doners to Nancy Pelosi campaign coffer/war fund - E&J Gallo Winery $100,700 $100,700 $0 Akin, Gump et al $91,600 $54,300 $37,300 American Fedn of St/Cnty/Munic Employees $86,000 $3,500 $82,500 United Auto Workers $84,500 $0 $84,500 National Assn of Realtors $79,600 $0 $79,600 Teamsters Union $79,500 $0 $79,500 National Education Assn $73,500 $0 $73,500 Air Line Pilots Assn $71,500 $0 $71,500 Laborers Union $71,250 $0 $71,250 National Assn of Letter Carriers $66,000 $0 $66,000 Plumbers/Pipefitters Union $64,600 $0 $64,600 Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union $64,500 $0 $64,500 Sheet Metal Workers Union $63,500 $0 $63,500 American Medical Assn $63,100 $0 $63,100 AFL-CIO $62,800 $0 $62,800 Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $62,500 $0 $62,500 United Food & Commercial Workers Union $58,500 $0 $58,500 United Transportation Union $58,200 $0 $58,200 Wells Fargo $57,750 $7,750 $50,000 American Federation of Teachers $54,750 $0 $54,750

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salad 3 years, 6 months ago

Here's what this ruling does in relative terms to our "voice":

Joe citizen: you get whatever breath you can muster and yell.

Unions: You get a bull horn.

Corporations: You get a stadium sized 1,000,000 watt PA that's loud enough to show up on a seismograph.

Isn't that fair?

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hail2oldku 3 years, 6 months ago

"scott3460 (anonymous) replies… Union leaders are more readily accountable to their membership for the choices they make. If the individuals who fund union activities with their dues are unhappy with the political choices, union elections can fairly easily change that leadership very easily. "

ROTFLMAO - Stop it, you're killing me.

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jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

The majority opinion is quoted in wikipedia:

Kennedy wrote "If the 1st amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from, ...citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech".

Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe criticizes the decision as follows:

"Talking about a business corporation as merely another way that individuals might choose to organize their association with one another to pursue their common expressive aims is worse than unrealistic; it obscures the very real injustice and distortion entailed in the phenomenon of some people using other people's money to support candidates they have made no decision to support, or to oppose candidates they have made no decision to oppose".

I believe that's what I've been saying.

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jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

And, I disagree with your characterization of the publication as "general" - it is quite specific is describing the individual, citizen nature of the rights, and goes on to enumerate them, starting with the 1st:

"Right to freedom of religion, speech, etc."

So the clear interpretation of those rights is that they are rights which individual citizens of the US are entitled to.

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jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

The granting of the legal status of "legal person" to corporations happened in the 1800's - do you have any evidence that they were considered to have 1st amendment rights preceding that decision?

Or any source that claims, as you do, that the 1st amendment protections of speech and religion properly belong to groups as well as individuals?

Your argument about assembly is flawed - the right of individuals to assemble is guaranteed - prohibiting them from doing so is unconstitutional on that basis. There is no need to consider a separate right of a corporation, in order to guarantee the rights of the individuals. And, the right to assemble is, in fact, preceded by the words "of the people" in the 1st amendment. The word "individual" does not appear in the Bill of Rights at all. Are you claiming that a corporation is in fact one of "the people" or that the language should simply be ignored?

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TinkyWinky 3 years, 6 months ago

jafs (anonymous) replies… Your position is not supported by the official publication of our government, which states what I quote in my post, that the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are individual rights granted to citizens of the US.

Well then the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms is an individual right as well. Case closed, don't need to worry about our guns. But wait, could the Obama regime with its criminally biased DOJ be speaking out of both sides of its mouth?

Corporations pay taxes, they get a voice!

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jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

Having done some research, I have found no support at all for starr's contention that the 1st amendment rights of speech and religion are meant to apply to corporations, or that they have been viewed that way - I have, on the other hand, found support for my view.

From the government publication entitled "Our American Government" printed by the US Government printing office:

pg 3 - The Bill of Rights is a series of constitutionally protected rights of citizens. The first eight amendments set out or enumerate the substantive and procedural individual rights associated with that description (The Bill of Rights).

Thus my understanding that the Bill of Rights refers to individual rights (of citizens) is supported.

The recent SC decision was a 5-4 decision, which means that 4 out of 9 SC Justices agree with my view that this is a bad idea, and not warranted. Justice Stevens is quoted as saying that corporations "are not human beings" and are not in fact "members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

Even the majority opinion is couched in the terms that it is as an "association of citizens" that a corporation is granted rights, as an extension of rights granted to individual citizens.

I would argue that description may fit a group like the NRA, since the group is composed of individuals in order to make their voice heard politically - but that it is a poor fit for a large multi-national corporation, since that group is composed of hundreds of thousands of people at all levels whose "association" exists for many non-political reasons, and that a statement or advertisement by a corporation is not a good reflection of some sort of commonly held views.

Imagine, for example, another association, a health club - members of the club go there for exercise, employees work there to make a living - if the president of the club were to advocate for certain political ends, he/she could certainly do so as an individual but could hardly claim to be representing the political views of the members and/or employees, unless they all had been consulted and agreed that was the case.

One particularly disturbing thing about this decision is that, given the current globalization we have, a multi-national corporation may indeed be composed of many who are not even US citizens at all.

So far, I have found no evidence that the 1st amendment rights to speech and religion were intended to apply to groups, or have been viewed that way. It is, instead, by virtue of the granting of "legal person" status (which is a "legal fiction"), or viewing a corporation as an "association of individuals" that they have been granted rights more properly belonging to individuals.

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independant1 3 years, 6 months ago

Private Corporations w/stockholders (unlike unions) contribute to both party's coffers. They usually hedge their bets and contribute to both sides of the aisle. for example Microsoft Corp 2008 Total Contribution Dollar Amount to Republicans $1,724,362 (14% of total) Average Contribution Dollar Amount to Republicans $947 Total Contribution Dollar Amount to Democrats $5,128,578 (41% of total) Average Contribution Dollar Amount to Democrats $832

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TinkyWinky 3 years, 6 months ago

eh oh Corporate America,

I enjoy what you have done to build this great nation. Some of you don't like corporations, you would like the government to be single party rule and all production state controlled.

You should look at this video if you are on the left of the spectrum for some clarity on this issue. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y-yFoD03Ls

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George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

JAFS says

We don't have a right to political spending.

We have a right to freedom of speech.

Then either limit it for all or let it be free. Speech is bought and paid for in our society. This whole thread is a simple political effort to limit those who disagree with certain notions. Lots of rationalization but no real thought. Why can everyone else play except corporations?

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orangechubb 3 years, 6 months ago

Someday we will elect an honest third party candidate and they too will be corrupted. Kinda like a lot of people thought when they voted for Barry.

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Hoots 3 years, 6 months ago

Get over yourselves on the bad Republicans or bad Democrats rants. Both parties do it. They just pick different pets in the political classroom. Maybe someday we will get an honest third party or the American voter will scream loud enough and this game of bribery will be stopped. Greed has no party and you the voter have no sway as long as the big corperate money continues to flow.

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Sigmund 3 years, 6 months ago

I have no problem with any candidate receiving cash from any domestic person or corporation as long it is fully disclosed, but putting that aside for now:

Obama biggest recipient of BP cash "During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records." http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36783.html Obama biggest recipient of BP cash, Politico.com, by Erika Lovely

BP was fined under the Bush Administration (2005) , the largest total penalty to that point under any Administration.

"All of that would lead workers to believe BP is a safe employer – not like the BP with a refinery in Texas City, Texas that blew up in 2005 killing 15 workers and injuring 170, the BP that OSHA slapped with its second largest total penalty ever -- $21 million – for safety violations at Texas City that led to the massive explosion, the BP that OSHA hit with its largest ever fine -- $87.4 million – last fall for failure over four years to comply with the terms of its settlement agreement to correct the potential hazards at Texas City."

It was the Obama Administration that gave BP and Transocean a Safety Award for the Deepwater Horizon well and they were about to get another but it was postponed because it blew up killing 47 workers.

"Just last year, the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) gave BP and Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, Safety Awards for Excellence –SAFE awards. MMS bestows these on offshore oil and gas corporations for “outstanding safety and pollution prevention performance.” Again this year, BP was a finalist for a SAFE award. After the Deepwater Horizon explosion, MMS postponed announcement of this year’s winners." http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/labor/99487-safety-awards-that-endanger-workers-lives- Safety awards that endanger workers’ lives, TheHill.com, By United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard

Don't let facts get in the way of your ideological rant, but where are you guys when I need to make a bar bet?

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fancy80 3 years, 6 months ago

ummm...wake up Daniel Patrick Schlame. Nothing new here, both sides have been doing this for EVER.

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budwhysir 3 years, 6 months ago

I myself believe that BP will benefit greatly from the free press and publicity that has been generated by this.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

Could there actually be a first amendment issue here rather than a partisan debate? The right to vote for and advocate for an elected official of your choice is fundamental to our system. Do corporations have that right? If Mr. Moore can do what he does, why can certain corporations not do the same?

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SLOPOKE 3 years, 6 months ago

This could be the straw that set's all hell to break out.... People are having to deal with so many , crucial ,Live or Die , so to speak , situations. The Elders are trying to fix new problems with old methods. Keep doing the same thing over an over expecting different results. Our younger generation is totally LOST..... Friends and Brothers....... Our time is almost up !! Something is gonna give, sooner than later.....

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Healthcare_Moocher 3 years, 6 months ago

It is amazing just how uninformed wearing rose colored glasses makes you.

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BigDog 3 years, 6 months ago

For those who support capping the amounts corporations can spend on political campaigns ..... Would you also favor capping the amounts unions can spend on political campaigns?

The AFL-CIO and SEIU are planning to spend a combined $88 million or more on the upcoming elections.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704125604575449913707878130.html

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mbulicz 3 years, 6 months ago

Stop pointing fingers about WHO is getting this money and start addressing the REAL problem: amending our Constitution to write out corporate interests and cap their donations and lobbying. Dems and republicans are on the payroll for countless corporations and special interest groups.

Of course, if they did this, every member of Congress would lose all the goodies from their lobbyists / special interest groups. Thus, it will never happen. Our politicians are bought and paid for and now work for the wellbeing of the bottom line, not the wellbeing of the people.

We are in serious trouble if we do not address this ruling.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 6 months ago

Dear Leader's campaign website for the 2008 election was set up to accept untraceable cash. No one will ever know who was greasing the skids for him.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 6 months ago

"I have not spent a nickel at a BP station since the Gulf Oil spill."

They seem to be doing fine without your nickel.

BTW, scottie, if money buys elections, then I guess that would explain how Obama got elected? Or I suppose you think the nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars he spent to buy your vote was all from the lunch money of poor school children and the sewing money from poor little old ladies.

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scott3460 3 years, 6 months ago

"The old saying is: “You can’t fight city hall.” What are your odds fighting a multibillion dollar corporation?"

One of the answers must be voting with your dollars. If the corrupt politicians are going to allow unfettered corporate influence, then we starve them of cash. Find out what you are supporting with your purchasing power and then spend accordingly.

I have not spent a nickel at a BP station since the Gulf Oil spill. They don't have any of my money to purchase right wing politicians. I don't buy crap at Walmart and therefore don't support slave labor and destructive environmental policies by China. Starve the MFers of cash and they no longer have the money to ship your jobs overseas, pave creation with strip mall and destroy our democracy. Cash is their lifeblood, so bleed them dry.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

Who is involved in oil and weapons?

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0208-05.htm

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/4120/we_arm_the_world/

http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/walsh/execsum.htm

http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/03/24/spy.network.probe/index.html

http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

The Carlyle Group: BOD - http://www.angelfire.com/indie/pearly/htmls/bush-carlyle.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2003/mar/23/iraq.theobserver

The Big Guys Work For The Carlyle Group What exactly does it do?

To find out, we peeked down the rabbit hole.

FORTUNE Monday, March 18, 2002

By Melanie Warner

Are you the sort of person who believes in conspiracies--the Trilateral Commission secretly runs the world, that sort of thing? Well, then, here's a company for you. The Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C., buyout firm, is one of the nation's largest defense contractors. It has billions of dollars at its disposal and employs a few important people. Maybe you've heard of them: former Secretary of State Jim Baker, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, and former White House budget director Dick Darman. Wait, we're just getting warmed up. William Kennard, who recently headed the FCC, and Arthur Levitt, who just left the SEC, also work for Carlyle. As do former British Prime Minister John Major and former Philippines President Fidel Ramos. Let's see, are we forgetting anyone? Oh, right, former President George Herbert Walker Bush is on the payroll too.

The firm also has about a dozen investors from Saudi Arabia, including, until recently, the bin Laden family. Yes, those bin Ladens.

http://www.carlylegroup.net/thebigguys.htm

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 6 months ago

Our BP stocks are rebounding slowly but surely. Thank you Republicans.

"...the potential to absolutely destroy our democracy and make a mockery of what this country says it stands for. Wake up, America!"

Our democracy is under attack, what this nation stands for has been made a mockery of and America has awakened--in the past 21 months.

May a god who regulates prostitution bless.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

According to Open Secrets the oil and gas industry are still spending 73% of the special interest money on republicans

Why is our military still in Iraq and Afghanistan? Oil control

Why is our military in Iran,Iraq,Afghanistan,Yemen and Pakistan? Oil control

How do the republicans think? CRIME AGAINST DEMOCRACY : PNAC's policy document, "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination. Many PNAC members held highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century

Elliott Abrams / Gary Bauer / William J. Bennett / Jeb Bush /

Dick Cheney / Eliot A. Cohen / Midge Decter / Paula Dobriansky / Steve Forbes /

Aaron Friedberg / Francis Fukuyama / Frank Gaffney / Fred C. Ikle /

Donald Kagan / Zalmay Khalilzad / I. Lewis Libby / Norman Podhoretz /

Dan Quayle / Peter W. Rodman / Stephen P. Rosen / Henry S. Rowen /

Donald Rumsfeld / Vin Weber / George Weigel / Paul Wolfowitz /

Behind the scene:

Newt Gingrich / George Herbert Walker Bush / James Baker / Vice Adm John Poindexter

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

According to Open Secrets the oil and gas industry are still spending 73% of the special interest money on republicans

Why is our military still in Iraq and Afghanistan? Oil control

Why is our military in Iran,Iraq,Afghanistan,Yemen and Pakistan? Oil control

How do the republicans think? CRIME AGAINST DEMOCRACY : PNAC's policy document, "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination. Many PNAC members held highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century

Elliott Abrams / Gary Bauer / William J. Bennett / Jeb Bush /

Dick Cheney / Eliot A. Cohen / Midge Decter / Paula Dobriansky / Steve Forbes /

Aaron Friedberg / Francis Fukuyama / Frank Gaffney / Fred C. Ikle /

Donald Kagan / Zalmay Khalilzad / I. Lewis Libby / Norman Podhoretz /

Dan Quayle / Peter W. Rodman / Stephen P. Rosen / Henry S. Rowen /

Donald Rumsfeld / Vin Weber / George Weigel / Paul Wolfowitz /

Behind the scene:

Newt Gingrich / George Herbert Walker Bush / James Baker / Vice Adm John Poindexter

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scott3460 3 years, 6 months ago

And all the Chamber of Commerce ads you see on TV are being funded, in part, by foreign multinationals who like the right wingers support for offshoring Amercian jobs. That is another shameful and treasonous consequence of the right wing philosophy of "free" (as opposed to fair) trade policies.

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kansastruthteller 3 years, 6 months ago

It seems that you are just using the issue of companies contributing to political campaigns as a smoke screen to cover (albeit poorly) your real agenda which is to bash republicans.

And it is Interesting that you cite BP in your tirade against republicans since Obama in 08 was the biggest recipient of their political dollars.

You could have saved some ink by simply writing. Me like dems, me hate republicans.

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grammaddy 3 years, 6 months ago

Agreed, SCOTUS really screwed up on that one.

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