Fighting Back Against The Silencing Of Progressive Voices

Given a few recent political developments this week on the national scale I think it is important to draw attention to them before we start seeing negative local implications.  With Scott Brown winning Ted Kennedy's old seat and ensuring unending threats of filibusters, with Air America radio declaring bankruptcy we are losing their progressive voice in a media medium that was already dominated by the right, and most especially with the conservative majority on SCOTUS siding on the side of corporate personhood and unlimited corporate financial influence on elections which the republican leadership is already openly cheering... we have to act now before the next elections.  Start by signing this:

We will strive to assist affiliates and partners in achieving a smooth transition. Starting at 6 pm EST today, we will provide our affiliates, listeners and users a selection of encore programming until 9 pm EST on Monday, January 25, at which time Air America programming will end.


"Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, said lawmakers have to use the decision to help voters understand how broken the system is.

"This has got to be a wakeup call to every citizen that they cannot allow the big corporations to call the shots on these elections," he said."
"In a powerfully worded, lengthy dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens lamented the decision and called the majority "profoundly misguided." He said, "The court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation." Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Stevens' dissent, parts of which he read aloud in the courtroom."
""As long as they do it independently, they can spend whatever they want," notes NPR's Nina Totenberg. "It will undoubtedly help Republican candidates since corporations have generally supported Republican candidates more.""
"House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio called the decision "a big win for the First Amendment""


"The court split 5 to 4 over the ruling, with its conservative members in the majority.

The decision upends the court's precedent that corporations may not use their profits to support or oppose candidates, and it rejects a large portion of the so-called McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act that the justices had declared constitutional just six years ago."

"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who co-wrote the 2002 campaign reform law with Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), said he was "disappointed" by the decision. But Feingold went further, calling it "a terrible mistake" and saying it ignored "important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent."

"Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president," Feingold added "
"President Obama sharply criticized the decision, saying it gives "a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics" and represents "a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."

In a statement released by the White House, Obama said the ruling "gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington -- while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates." He said he was instructing his administration "to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue" and coordinate with Democratic and Republican leaders on a "forceful response." "


Rep. Grayson of Florida (D) is leading the charge against this and President Obama is getting into it as well.  Here is his weekly address:
Please sign the petition here: & e-mail your representative here:

We all have to scale up our political engagement (myself included) if we want to fight back against the major shift that has happened this week.  So please sign that petition, give Congressman Price a call at 202.225.1784 asking him to support Grayson's legislation (perhaps the NC GA should look at this issue too?), and start finding out how you can get involved with the 2010 campaigns because depending on how things turn out this may be the last time that individual donations and efforts can make a difference in elections.



I wanted to add a quick plug for BlueNC Radio.  James Protzman has started up a weekly internet radio thing, and thinking about the loss of Air America makes me think we need more progressive voices to step up.  Itold James & Ron Stutts that they should have a conversation about bringing BlueNC Radio to WCHL which Ron said was an interesting idea & James said it "could be just the right moment to consider this kind of expansive move."

Anyways here is the link to see info on their next discussion which will be looking at the 3 democratic campaigns for US Senate:

And if you want even more senate discussion, here my OP thread on it:



what it will mean here for local elections. How do you think this will affect the Voter-owned elections program that was just implemented for the first time in our Chapel Hill elections?I signed the petition and I agree with you, Jake, we all must do more. 

As I read about the Supreme Court decisions, I immediately wondered how this might impact town council and county commissioner elections.  Consider what happened a few years ago in Chatham county, when a major San Diego developer, Newlands Corp, wishing to build a 2500-home development near Jordan Lake, basically funded Bunky Morgan and his colleagues' winning campaigns for county commissioners who approved the project.  From Newlands point of view, that was money well-spent.  Fast forward to this fall or 2011.  Some major developer, local or far away, would love to populate the Orange County commissioners or CH or Carrboro councils with developer-friendly people.  In the wake of the 2009 results of the CH council races, this is hardly far-fetched.Another aspect is TV advertising.  CH and Orange County are expensive places to reach with ads, for, because to reach us, the advertiser also has to buy coverage of Raleigh,Durham,Cary, and Fayetteville.  Though inefficient, it may still be worthwhile, and will make for many very interesting corporate boardroom discussions. 

"The Democrats "are thus politically bi-polar. They can never offer meaningful cures for any of America’s real problems because they must always return to the trough of the corporations that cause the bulk of them. "Harvey Wasserman"I can't be emphatic enough, there is no reasonable reason to waste a dollar or a moment of your time campaigning for the Democratic Party. Like the cheating and lying spouse that keeps asking for one more chance after you find them in bed with your enemy once again, there comes a time to end the relationship.Walk away..., close the door behind you and begin the work required to build a real force for progressive change in the United States."Ron Jacobs

In this morning's N&O, former UNC Law School Dean Gene Nichols editorialized against the Supreme Court's decision.  Applying it to local elections, he wrote "If a developer longs to secure a massive project in Chapel Hill, he is free to spend hundreds of thousands to aid a favored council candidate.  It may, in fact, constitute a reasonable component of his business plan."I could not agree more. 

I wonder which candidates the Big Business money would have supported?

If anyone is interested in a constitutional amendment that would declare that corporations are NOT people and the Bill of Rights should and, in fact must, apply to people, not groups of people with money, here's a petition you can sign:

TerriNot saying that you are among them, necessarily ... I've never truly understood what people on the Left have against the word corporation - or the concept behind it.  And I would like one day to understand better, since I am part-owner of many corporations, and have founded several myself.Given that, if we were to modify the legal concept of a corporation as you suggest, would such an entity still be subject to taxation?  If so, on what grounds?  And, what of the international implications of so doing? /steve

First, Terri, although I completely agree with the idea that it makes no sense whatever to consider a corporation - a fiscal entity born of fiduciary interrelationships within a group,  formed on paper for the purpose of creating profit for that group - the constitutional equivalent of a citizen and voter, unfortunately that ship sailed about a century ago. The current Supreme Court just enlarged and refurbished it. The reason it is indeed a bad idea to have given corporations the same standing as individual human citizens will become instantly obvious - if it isn't already - as you see those corporate "voices" howl together to kill the proposed amendment before it makes it through committee.  Failing restoration of a better-drafted campaign-finance reform bill along the McCain-Feingold lines, what might possibly work would be such things as a requirement for all shareholders to approve donations, or bit-by-bit restoration of caps and limitations - but it would be a long and very bumpy road with plenty of culs de sac.  A corporation isn't, by definition, a bad thing when it is formed for effective, efficient management of resources to provide a service or good for benefit of consumers who have both choice among suppliers and recourse to guarantee the corporations' accountability and responsibility. By definition it allows a group to do things an individual cannot - which is both its advantage and disadvantage: It becomes an anti-democratic thing (small d) when it imposes the goal of profit ahead of the common good, when it insulates its members and management from being responsible and accountable, when it abuses employees or consumers with impugnity, or when it removes choice from either group.  Small corporations that participate, lawfully and ethically, in a truly free market can be a boon to the community; but there is an inevitable impulse toward expansion and eventual monopoly that undermines that "lawful, ethical" stuff regarding both employees and consumers.  Imposing a profit mandate over and above supply of essentials - such as utilities and health care, and perhaps even capital reservoirs - poses enormous risks of abuse - as recent history is vividly demonstrating. The large, paper-borne economic entities have developed virtually unlimited resources to outshout and out-gun the individual human citizen/voter/member of society in getting political action to meet their own needs and wishes, regardless of the impact on non-corporate entities.  All men (and women) may be created equal, but there is no equality whatsoever between humans and corporations when it comes to officials dependent on money for campaigning.Which brings me to one last, utterly wishful proposal - that no donated dollars could be used for direct purchase of media time or indirect creation of media-magnet events.  That would solve a large part of the problem, but it would never fly.

Corporations are not people and therefore do not deserve the same rights as people.Corporations can commit serious crimes and never receive the death penalty.Corporations, unlike people, live forever (although that was never the intent of those who created corporations with the intent that they be tools to concentrate capital for large projects for a limited time).Inventor61 - what are you trying to say? (Your on-line name is as anonymous as a corporation). 

... is this worth responding to?  Oh, well... a couple of responses, maybe:Corporations are not people and therefore do not deserve the same rights as people.Deserve?  What rights does a corporation get for being incorporated, anyway?
Corporations can commit serious crimes and never receive the death penalty.Individuals working for corporations can commit serious crimes; a corporation cannot do any such thing.  Corporations can (and frequently are) assessed fines and other penalties for acts carried out by representative persons, in their capacities as employees or other beneficiaries of the corporation.  Should the individuals involved not also be penalized as citizens when they commit crimes?  I'm no lawyer, but, isn't that why we have criminal vs. civil law?  If your corporate-operated Dodge Sprinter hits my mailbox, do I seek compensation from you, your employee driving the truck, your insurance carrier, or your corporation?
Corporations, unlike people, live forever (although that was never
the intent of those who created corporations with the intent that they
be tools to concentrate capital for large projects for a limited time).If it is my wish that a corporation I create survive past my own time, as is definitely the case with all the corporations I have chartered, why is that bad?  I hope that one non-profit I founded, in particular, will LONG outlast me!  Marcoplos Construction, for example, is also a perpetual corporation, so, I expect you feel the same way.
Inventor61 - what are you trying to say? (Your on-line name is as anonymous as a corporation).I'm trying to say that the Quixotic reactions I often see from 'progressives' towards "evil corporations" is both pointless and misplaced. There are no evil corporations.  Only individuals can practice malfeasance against others or to society.  Perhaps you actually rail against a lack of ethics or morals, as do I, but your frequent ire is best aimed at the cause, rather than the effect. By the way, my on-line name is my e-mail address, making both my actual name AND my direct contact information plainly available to OP readers.  Hardly anonymous, and indeed less so than others who do not make their e-mail addresses public.  Back to lurk mode.  

Individuals working for corporations can commit serious crimes; a corporation cannot do any such thing.  That's like saying armies don't kill, soldiers kill.  But nations don't go to war against an individual soldier or even his commanding officer. Corporations are entities - a collection of individuals who form a single unit in order to be able to do things that individuals cannot, via the sum of their resources.  In part, they were formed for the explicit purpose of protecting their individual members, e.g. from liability --  their personal assets are not at risk if corporate assets are put at risk.  If you think these entities cannot commit serious crimes, you haven't been reading the newspapers lately: perhaps the malfeasance of everyone from Enron to Lehman Brothers can be traced to specific individuals within the corporations, but without the collectivity and the legal shield of incorporation, they couldn't have begun to create the degree of mayhem and misery that they did.  As for rights, corporations get certain rights from incorporation, which include the ability to negotiate as an entity representing all shareholders on matters related to the mission of the corporation.  Participation in the electoral process is a right of citizenship; and unless/until we see "one corporation, one vote," that should be an individual right -- notwithstanding the various Supreme Court holdings that for the purposes of campaign, corporations have the same voice a single citizen does. It's true that there's nothing inherently evil about incorporation.  It's also true that if there is evil in the actions of that corporation, it -- like the good it could be doing - is magnified many times larger than the actions of any single person.

you (and the rest of us) are up the proverbial creek without a paddle. No amount of obfuscation can counter-act that.

Maybe you should pick some other organization that I would not like.  I've always been impressed by (and wish I was an investor in) The Carlyle Group.  These are among the guys funding carbon nanotube capacitor research, for example, and if it can be made to work, it is a way we can solve some vexing energy storage problems.

Oh what a misguided group you are! Terms limits will do more to return the power to the people. Begin with congress all the way to the local level.

Would it be too misguided to say I partially agree with you on this one, though it's separate from the basic issue of quid-pro-quo campaign contribution?  You'd have to add in controls on the revolving-door dynamics between holding an elected office and working for industries subject to legislation.

I was glad to see that the President wasn't shy about challenging this ruling in front of SCOTUS directly, and in during one of the most watched speeches he'll give during his presidency.


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