Friday, January 22, 2010

Well, Kiss Yer Keester Bye-Bye, Dear Citizen

The Supreme Court has decided that corporations can spend as much money as they like on political campaigns of whatever stripe they wish. So, if you thought the citizens of this country were laboring under a de facto corporateocracy now, ah, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The sluice gates are now opened by an “activist court” explicitly ignoring its usual regard for stare decisis. So far, the usual “conservative” talking heads are remaining amazingly quiet about their usual hot-button rants about “activist courts,” which certainly was a huge part of this decision.

And I haven’t yet heard from John McCain whose McCain Feingold Act of 202 has now been eviscerated. Presumably he’ll make disapproving noises. But it now remains to be seen how or whether Congress will move to blunt this ruling by making more laws that can somehow balance corporate $$ power and a For Sale congress, though making such changes will require a fox rebuild his very nice, well stocked chicken cop.

So, I won’t hold my breath. Nor will I hold my breath in hopes that The Public will wake up and connect the dots that lead from corporate electioneering directly to laws that benefit corporations at the expense of the dear Public that can’t connect the dots. Or wake up enough to understand that Corporations are not People and shouldn’t have the same “rights” as people. And change the laws accordingly. Nope, no breath holding on my part.

But here’s a real simple dot that, I think (hope?) most people can connect? Imagine, for example, a ballot measure allowing the citizens of SLO County to form a non-profit municipal power company offering clean, alternative energy to all county residents. Imagine the amount of citizen-raised funds needed to publicize and promote support for such a ballot measure. Now, imagine the amount of money available from oil companies, coal companies, PG&E that can now be brought to bear, in unlimited quantities, to defeat such an initiative. Imagine how much finite media is available locally, the square inches of ad space in all the newspapers, ad time on TV and radio. It’s limited and all of it can be bought by one side or the other. And run 24/, thereby totally controlling the flow of information available.

Guess who wins that election? Guess who loses. Right.

Uh, Oh, Ron’s Asking Annoying Questions Again.

Over at

Sky High

Yesterday’s story in the Business section of the L.A. Times by W.J. Hennigan was about “A big bird, aging gracefully – The first 747 made its maiden commercial flight 40 years ago today.”

Forty years? Oy, how time flies. Seems like only yesterday, my husband and I went down to the start of the north runway at LAX , the longest runway at the time. We parked with several other people and walked to the fence and waited. You could do that in those far away days. We were waiting to see the very first 747 come in and soon enough she did. She sure looked big, she sure sounded big, she seemed to take forever to get overhead and touch down, but just how big that plane was didn’t really hit home until she had taxied back to the terminal and pulled in next to a parked 707.

With that juxtaposition, the size hit home, right in the solar plexis. It was interesting evidence of how critical experiential spacial “body sense” and juxtapositioning is. My body sense-memory already had a “feel” for the size of the 707, having stood next to one, have flown in them, so I internally “knew” how big that plane was. And it was big. But seeing the 747 next to the 707, it hit home; there’s Big and then there’s HOLY COW THAT’S BIG!

Indeed, George Lucas offered his own 747 moment in the opening of 1977’s “Star Wars.” Coming in overhead, (like I was again standing at the end of LAX’s north runway) was Princess Leia’s space ship and I said, as it passed over head, “Wow. That’s Big.” To which Lucas slyly replied, “You think that’s big, watch THIS!” as the theatre’s dolby sound system rumbled and Darth Vader’s massive battleship passed overhead for what felt like hours.

For quite a while afterwards, those big birds coming into the north runway (the longest one at the time that could accommodate them) remained startlingly unusual enough to trigger a double take. Now, of course, they’re considered the norm and 707s look like little puddle jumpers. Thus do we quickly adjust to “mission creep,” whether it’s size or anything else, the outlandish and outrageous soon becoming the new norm.

Well, happy anniversary, Big Bird.


Ron said...

Thanks for the link, Ann, and if anyone knows someone named Richard Schmidt -- the person that wrote this excellent piece:

-- please send him over to my blog. I think he will find it very, very interesting.

Schmidt wrote:

..."leaders of the garden have lost their way. We were promised a nonprofit community-serving educational institution, but instead we’re getting a level of commercial development in the Valley of the Morros that dwarfs even the rejected vision of previous capitalist speculators. All of this plays out just beyond the public view..."


"In the article we read the garden will bring us a 3,500-acre “world-class, visitor-serving attraction” with a gondola, zip lines, nine restaurants, and 1.5 million visitors per year. Absent from the story is mention of a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater (that’s four to five times the capacity of SLO’s PAC!), the parking lots needed to support such commercial development, and the purported $40 admission charge to this “garden,” a price surely aimed at rich tourists and not at serving locals or any educational purpose."

And, oh yeah, also tell him, "Welcome to Los Osos."

Shark Inlet said...


You may have missed Newt on NPR telling us that this was a victory for the middle class. The guy who followed Newt made it quite clear that for all Newt's complaints about Obama's millions of union dollars, unions are pikers in the big money game.

It was also interesting to me that Newt seemed to feel that corporations are entitled to the same rights as actual humans. (Interestingly enough, however, corporations don't a pulse nor are they able to serve prison time for actions any real live human would be imprisoned for doing, like, say, recklessly endangering the lives of others.)

And to our good buddy, the confused muckraker Ron ... if the issue you raise about Pandora is not about her behavior as Parks commissioner, it is not the problem you suggest ... or are you gonna tell us that the Botanical garden is in some way a branch of public government?

I would certainly hope that she would recuse herself from any SLO Botanical discussions about who to hire, but if no one else submitted a bid it is hard to argue that the Garden shouldn't be allowed to accept the bid if they think the price fair.

alabamasue said...

What I don't understand is, why is Ron so fixated on the past? Trying to demonize Pandora et al seems to be useless. Since this guy doesn't live or own property here, what is his agenda? My guess is that he is spazzed out by the thought of a sewer in his area (yes, it is coming. Sorry)
Another hilarious issue he brings up: He thinks he could be eligible for a literary prize. Um, no.

Alon Perlman said...

707 test flight, you don’t get more old skool than this upside down roll. Watch it till “let’s not do this again”.

Churadogs said...

Inlet, David Brooks had an interesting take on the Supreme Court ruling and that is it's likely to threaten small businesses as big corps move in to "buy" congressional special protective laws and subsidies and government goodies, thereby shutting out all small businesses and new enterprises. If so, THAT will get the attention of a lot of people. There's already a move from some large corporations to push for real campaign finance laws -- ostensibly they tired of being hit up for $$$$ all the time. IF this new ruling galvanizes Americans of all stripes to clean up our wretched campaign laws, then it will ultimately be a good thing. And IF the ruling finally gets "conservatives" to shut up about "activist judges" "legislating from the bench" that will be a really, really good thing, since less hypocrisy in the world is always a good thing.

Mike Green said...

When my one billion coordinated cells is judged to be the equivalent of a few thousand uncoordinated idiots we have a problem.
The definition of "person" shouldn't be that difficult.

Churadogs said...

Mike greene: Yup, you're right, however, changing that original ruling will require majorities in both houses and a president who opposes personhood for corporations who will appoint and confirm new Supremes who will vote to overturn the original ruling and any others upheld later by this court. And getting THAT to happen will be damned near impossible now since corporations have every right (and now, unlimited funds) to see to it that such anti-personhood-for-corporation politicos and candidates NEVER, EVER get into office so they can NEVER, EVER appoint a Supreme who will overturn that ruling.

And who sez it doesn't matter who's President?

Alon Perlman said...

The legal precedent that turned Corporations into "People" took place a long long time ago. I'm not sure when. Anybody know?
I hope this posting doesn't hurt the feelings of any corporations.

Churadogs said...

I believe it was shortly after the turn of the century, the age of the Robber Barons. Deja vu, anyone. Will have to Google it to get the exact date.

Shark Inlet said...

Alon and Chura ... if you listen to Thom Hartman sometime he'll cite the one or two key Supreme decisions and outline the individuals and organizations who have promoted this transition. Probably it's in one of his two hundred books too, but it is far easier to listen to the show.

I also think that when Sandra Day O'Conner comes out vehemently against the ruling and when even middle-of-the roaders are scratching their heads asking why we've just opened the floodgates for Hugo Chavez to try to buy our election through the use of Citgo cash it seems pretty clear that this was the choice of an activist court.

I used to have more respect for Roberts because he was typically oriented toward more narrow questions and wouldn't stand for this sort of thing.

I really wonder whether the framers of the Constitution really meant to allow Corporations (like, say the East India Company ... should they have wanted to spend their untold wealth to influence US elections) to spend money in this way.

In theory, Corporations are obligated only to their shareholders ... people who can donate individually should they want to have their free speech to influence an election. So, presumably if shareholders didn't like the way a corporation spend their money on politics, they could vote in a new board of directors and then the directors could make a change in the policy.

However, this seems to me largely like the the complaints Republicans have had for years about Union dues being spent on campaigns without the express permission of the Union members.

Churadogs said...

I love the idea of China, Inc. coming in an buying Senators and Congresspeople. They've got enough dough to own congress outright. And Republicans don't have a leg to stand on to complain when that happens. After all, it's the free market, right? Bwahahahah. Yep, America. Kiss yer kiester goodbye.

Alon Perlman said...

China is now a leader in the production of green goods.
So even as we "Go Green" we are mortgaging our future and imbalancing our trade.
We are also not moving to "transition Cities".
Without getting too deeply into it it has to do with energy and food local production. (Avoid conveyence costs and the Carbon footprint thereof)
There is a group starting out through St. Bennies

The problem with the Global economy is when you mix producers with no internal regulation (or just minor consessions) and highly regulated high workforce costs contries, you won't get a level playing field.

Kiss Our keisters goodbye?
Some of us can't hire the help to help us bend over that far and others already have overcommited and will need to pull their heads out to see daylight first.