Saturday, January 23, 2010

An email exchange on Citizens United

Identifying info has been redacted

Hey ________,
 XXXX forwarded this to me:

If you're looking for a concise way of capturing (the) supreme court's 
decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission how about: 
"We are all royally, hopelessly fucked for the rest of recorded time."  
It's course, I know but it really does the trick.  (from Huffington 

We may be able to mark this past week as the end of democracy.  This is 
the continuing effect of the Bush years.  If a person isn't 
occasionally depressed, on the verge of dispair, you aren't paying 
attention.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  
Especially knowing that many of our major corporations are owned by 
Arabs, Chinese and others not citizens of America.  The oil cartel can 
buy a company and dump any amount of money into a campaign.  Sounds 
frightening doesn't it?  The cocaine cartel can too.

  My opinion:  McCain Feingold was bad law. I like our senator but he was wrong in this case and many people on both the right and left thought McCain Feingold was great as an incumbent protection law.
  The 1st amendment reads as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Pretty clear isn't it?
  From that text how do you get congress can make laws barring people (in this case the owners and shareholders of a corporation) from political speech? It can be argued that corporations are not persons but the 1886 case of Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad pretty much killed that line of thought for now.  We citizens may disagree but the Supreme Court has ruled in that case and a couple others that corporations are persons in many instances under the 14th amendment.
   From Bradley Smith in an editorial in the January 22 WSJ  "Hopefully, this ruling marks an end to 20 years of jurisprudence in which the Court has provided less protection to core political speech than it has to Internet pornography, the transmission of stolen information, flag burning, commercial advertising, topless dancing, and burning a cross outside an African-American church." click on it for the rest. This ruling also allows many grassroots advocacy groups the chance to speak their piece on issues and electoral contestants as noted several times by the ACLU, hardly a bastion of conservative thought.  
  We've had some of this discussion before, you believe that more restrictive regulation of corporations and people will change behavior, I think that when people or corporations behave badly that I can then exercise my choice to not spend time with that person or buy that corporations goods. I may also use my free speech and assembly rights to encourage others to boycott said person or corporation. I also believe when people infringe on anothers civil rights that then the government should step in but not before. With the exception of slander or libel another's speech doesn't infringe upon my rights. You also have much more faith in government than I do, I have noticed those who are successful in politics are most often egoists and firmly convinced they know best for the unwashed whereas I am only convinced that they are egoists.
  In order to be free one must allow speech that you personally abhor otherwise the only difference between the USA and your favorite oligarchy is a matter of the degree of censorship. 

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