Those who have issues with the idea that corporations are given the same rights as people (and in some cases more) have a real reason to be pissed with today's decision from the Supreme Court. NPR reported it was a 5-4 decision, but in the end the tyrannical corporations won the day.
No limits on campaign spending in federal elections. This goes for unions, too, which also has issues (and I'm a union guy). Over one hundred years of law, which didn't work well enough anyway, tossed into the dustbin of history.
It was a free speech issue, the apologists argued. Indeed it was. Free speech for those who can afford it. (About a $1 billion in the last election came courtesy of special interests -- and that's not the U.S. government definition of special interests -- it's the definition most people think is the U.S. government definition of the word) Turn about is, of course, fair play. If corporations can do even more to influence elections (and all but the most naive among us thinks they don't have a negative effect on our electoral process and "representatives"), then the public can do it's part by boycotting the big spenders (not likely) or fighting back in other ways (disinformation, reporting on the politicos who accept the money, violence if necessary).
While CEOs and shareholders like to use the free speech card (and because a lot of people have a short memory, let's remember how the beef industry treated Oprah Winfrey's free speech), I am actually a proponent of free speech and don't see how this has anything to do with the First Amendment in any real world application. (Though I was surprised that the Court included the unions in this, as this country has been nothing but anti-labor and very open about it since the Reagan years). All it does is give the corporations carte blanche to openly buy the candidates and control the issues even moreso than they do now. The major corporations control the media like Fox, ABC, NBC, CNN, The Wall Street Journal -- all of which act as gatekeepers for issues and candidates. Pre-approved candidates get to address pre-approved issues (and that is not conspiratorial -- its ingrained into the system and needs no back door planning to happen) in safe forums. The corporations could spend lots of dough before through PACs, but now they don't even have to do that.
In fact, the only thing really stopping them is whether the union members or shareholders have issues with where the money is coming from -- and that could end up being a legal battle of a different sort.
Going back fairly far in history, you may remember the last time the decidedly conservative Supreme Court was so bold. It was quite some time ago, but you may recall Bush being placed into power by the Supreme Court, which has, if my memory serves me correct, two appointees there courtesy of the man the Court put into power.
And yet people were still surprised. Hell, I actually was when I heard the news this morning. A hundred years of law down the tubes like that in a special session that was ordered to be expedited by Congress.
In all fairness, the ruling in the ironically titled case Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee would have probably come next week, but one can imagine Congress and corporations (and labor unions' more corrupt members) erect at the prospect of the coffers being filled and candidates being bought. It also brings to light an important question: Just what the fuck is Citizens United?
Hop onto the website for the group and the first thing you notice is that is "dedicated to restoring our government to citizen control." Who doesn't like that idea?
If you look at the DVDs being plugged on the site, you start to see the general mindset of Citizens United. There are films panning Michael Moore, Hilary Clinton, illegal immigration, Barack Obama and more. And then there are movies about rediscovering God in America.
David Bossie is the president of Citizens United. If his name sounds familiar to you, it's probably not for his martyr-like support of free speech issues, but rather his investigations in Whitewater and a CBS report that stated he used "police state" tactics to badger the family of Susann Coleman in order to try and prove she committed suicide because she had an affair with Bill Clinton.
That's the kind of guy I want defending free speech and restoring citizen control to government. I'm glad he's on our side.
If you read the citation on Wikipedia, Bossie was accused of editing a video to make sure any positive references to Webster Hubbell were cut out, which led Newt Gingrich to order him to be fired from his position of an investigator for Dan Burton (Indiana Representative). Bossie states he resigned.
But lest you think Republicans are unanimous in their love of Bossie, George H.W. Bush told citizens not to follow the man's campaigns because they utilitized "filthy campaign tactics." If Bush hates you ...
And all of this came about because Bossie was denied the right to advertise the release of his attack documentary Hillary: The Movie.
Democracy and free speech exploited and manipulated (as it always has been, but now it's more open) by one ultra right-wing conservative attack dog with a hard-on for liberal blood. A man Gingrich ordered fired and Bush considered to be underhanded.
What can you say about a man who fights on the same side as those people, yet is vilified for the way he handles things?
If you're a corporation you say, "Thank you."