Thursday, January 19, 2012

Unhappy Birthday to You, Citizens United!

Yet another Black Friday will dawn in America tomorrow. The infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision will enter its Terrible Twos and toddle its corpulent corporatist self into a third year of obscene existence.

More than a hundred raucous birthday parties will be hosted and attended by demonstrators protesting the unprecedented infusion of billions of dollars of democracy-destroying anonymous money into politics. From Move to Amend, the activist group which has spearheaded the drive for a constitutional amendment to overturn C.U. -- 
Inspired by our friends at Occupy Wall Street, and Dr. Cornel West, Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark the second anniversary of the infamous Citizens United v. FEC decision!
Follow the link above for a grab-bag of tools of the activist trade for tomorrow's day of dissent. Move to Amend has instructions for getting a permit, courthouse maps, constructing a freeway banner, making costumes, the lyrics to "The Corporate Personhood Song", even a skit to perform, complete with downloadable sound effects.
Occupy the Courts will be a one day occupation of Federal courthouses across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday January 20, 2012. Move to Amend volunteers across the USA will lead the charge on the judiciary which created — and continues to expand — corporate personhood rights.
Americans across the country are on the march, and they are marching OUR way. They carry signs that say, “Corporations are NOT people! Money is NOT Speech!” And they are chanting those truths at the top of their lungs! The time has come to make these truths evident to the courts.

Approximately 110 events have been planned thus far. In New York City, Occupiers were appealing a denial of their permit request to gather at the Foley Square federal courthouse complex, on grounds that it would interfere with both a citizens' and judge's swearing-in ceremonies.

In Washington, D.C., participants will gather on the steps of the Supreme Court just before noon to perform a song and dance routine by "The Supremes" with a giant 28th Amendment sign as a backdrop.

It's estimated that the 2012 edition will go down in history as the most staggeringly expensive presidential campaign ever. It's already proving to be not so much a battle between two right of center puppet conservatives vetted by the oligarchy, but a true Battle of the Billionaire Oligarchs, with the prize going to the biggest spender -- who, thanks to the corrupt Supreme Court, can remain anonymous. The putative contenders and their campaigns are already being rendered superfluous -- a fact brilliantly satirized by Stephen Colbert and the SuperPac over which he has no legal control.


Kat said...

Well, I'm thinking that there will be more people at this year's protest than last. I'm hoping.
It would be nice if some of the war on the middle class people turned out.

Denis Neville said...

Reclaim Democracy for the People!

"Rarely have so few imposed such damage on so many. When five conservative members of the Supreme Court handed for-profit corporations the right to secretly flood political campaigns with tidal waves of cash on the eve of an election, they moved America closer to outright plutocracy, where political power derived from wealth is devoted to the protection of wealth. It is now official: Just as they have adorned our athletic stadiums and multiple places of public assembly with their logos, corporations can officially put their brand on the government of the United States as well as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the fifty states." – Bill Moyers, forward to “Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It” by Jeff Clements

“Citizens United is not just about wonky campaign finance and ‘money in politics.’ The corporate take-over of our Constitution worsens the lives of almost every American.” – Jeff Clements

Corporations Are NOT People: Author Jeff Clements in Conversation with Bob Herbert

Support the People’s Rights Amendment:

The Doktor said...

Another great one Karen! And, this article has the PERFECT title, love it! ( just in case my opinion matters at all )
I can't help but wonder (and hope) whether the President will mention CU again in the SOTU speech on Tuesday and ask Alito if he still thinks CU won't radically alter American elections by allowing unlimited anonymous cash payments... I dream big.

@Anne Lavoie; I'll print who my links are to BTW.

I just heard something horrifying, maybe I missed it and you all have seen this already but when I hear about drones flying over North Korea I don't like it, but when I hear drones are flying over North Dakota ( Daily Kos ) targeting Americans for theft it scares the shit outta me! Bankers can steal trillions but a guy steals a cow and he's gonna get tracked down with everything we got...

DreamsAmelia said...

@The Doktor--The Washington Post had an extensive series last year about the myriad drones, many miniature, being used to track and photograph protesters, even to snoop into people's houses looking for pot plants. It was in the paper paper so I don't have a link right now.

But it gets wearisome, the divide between people who do, and do not, read the news. The ones who do not, believe they are dealing with a paranoid schizophrenic personality when they encounter those of us that do regularly read a wide array of newspapers from around the world--Even Hemingway was legitimately tracked and bugged by the FBI, but his complaints were dismissed by his friends as signs of degeneration and paranoia, until the unsealing of records at last vindicated him. It would equally not surprise me in the least if we can thank the FBI for Martin Luther King, Jr.s, assassination. (And no, I do not believe there are any credible 9/11 conspiracy theories. If you simply stick to public records based on FOIA, you don't need to make this stuff up).

Read enough, and you'll look like a run of the mill paranoiac. It gets too frustrating, so you tend to not have substantive conversations with folks who don't read, and who thus live in the real fantasy world....

They say truth is stranger than fiction, which is why I often need to retreat to fiction, for my sanity!

Valerie said...

Well, it looks like Obama is vetoing the XL-Keystone Pipeline - for now. As the e-mail I received from Credo Action pointed out

"This is why activism matters.

Six months ago, the Obama Administration was set to approve one of the single most environmentally disastrous fossil fuel projects imaginable.

Today, it's dead. . .

But President Obama didn't reject Keystone XL because he wanted to. Or because he thought it was the right thing to do. Or because he thought it would help his re-election campaign. He rejected it because you made him do it."

It is certainly an uphill battle to wrest our country out of the hands of the corporations. But involvement in protest is really our only hope. Bill Moyers made this clear in his last show; our politicians will only work on our behalf if we force them to.

I sincerely believe this only happened because it is an election year and liberals like us have stood firm about not to voting for a corporate shill. I have no doubt, if Obama thought he could get away with it (read: all Democrats would give him their vote out of fear of the other and regardless of what he does) Obama would have allowed this legislation to pass.

We need to take courage from this small victory and take it with us to the courts today.


Anne Lavoie said...


Small victory it might be. I understand that Keystone XL is not really dead. Even before Congress forced him into this 90 day deadline decision, re-routing plans were occurring and continues, according to various western based news sources (non-liberal, non-environmental ones). So I don't see that much has actually changed. It could still happen, but no longer imminently.

I'll be very surprised if Obama isn't playing this both ways as he usually does. Killing it, temporarily.

But he did teach us to Hope!

Valerie said...

I wondered about that, Anne. It DID seem like a big thing for Obama to take a stand on considering the free ride he has given BP. I remember when he tried to put off the decision on the XL Pipeline until after the election - THAT stunk to high heaven.

In any case, we are making a loud enough noise to have Obama running a little scared - and I think that is a good thing.

Meanwhile, Occupy is strengthening. As much as the media tries to marginalise it and the politicians try to use the courts and the police to silence and smother the movement, it endures.

I think pretty much every member of the 99% understands that money is corrupting the political process. Wouldn't it be great if we could find a way to come together on just this one issue and demand change? I imagine THAT would have the oligarchy shaking in its shoes.


Denis Neville said...

@ Valerie and Anne Lavoie

Obama's delay of Keystone XL oil pipeline decision is not a cause for celebration.

Delay doesn’t equal victory.

Obama emphasized that he did not see the rejection as a definitive statement on the pipleine project itself. “This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people.

Kicking the Keystone XL oil can down the road until after the 2012 election, when the political pressures will be much less for a lame duck president, is a transparent political ploy by Obama to appease his environmental base.

It is amazing to see the praise of Obama (aka the Incredible Pivoting President) for his “leadership” and “courage.”

Will they be praising him when he approves it after the 2012 election?

Karen Garcia said...

Here are my NYT comments du jour (on Krugman and Brooks respectively, again on Mitt, Mitt, Mitt of whom I am sick, sick, sick)

Mitt Romney is indeed doing us all a favor by choosing such an inauspicious time (for him) to be running for president. The glare of public scrutiny on the unfairness of the tax system and political pay-to-play has never been stronger.

The Citizens United decision (it turns terrible two today) has a few billionaires literally owning the campaigns of some of the nuttier GOP candidates. The candidates themselves are almost superfluous, having no control over the SuperPacs advertising in their names. The cable news shows, for their part, have ceded their responsibility to act in the public interest because of the enormous profits they're raking in this election year. Instead of informing us, they torture us with debate/reality shows geared toward the lowest common denominator.

But, oh so serendipitously for the voting public, Mitt has proved incapable of mastering the fine art of political schmooze. On Thursday, he lashed out at an Occupy supporter who had simply asked him what he plans to do for the 99%. He accused the questioner of having an un-American, divisive agenda. Huh?

The coddled, scripted lives of the oligarchs have weakened them in this Age of Occupy. When they're exposed, they throw veritable temper tantrums. Mitt has more in common with the cluelessly greedy hedge fund managers suing the suffering Greeks in a human rights court than he ever will with the average voter. His entitled arrogance is his Achilles heel.


Mitt is not a relaxed, laid back person. Watching him on TV, he seems to be constantly on the hopped-up defensive, and has resorted to the babbling of bullet points. Asked about those 100,000 mythical jobs he created during his stint as a financial raptor at Thursday night's debate, he burst out with non sequiturs about protecting capitalism from Obama's welfare state. I think the pressure is getting to him. His red-faced lashing out at an Occupy protester earlier in the day was a bit of a shock and departure from script, and may presage the cracking of the plastic facade.

If Mitt feels uncomfortable talking about his Mormon history, then he fits right in with the Mormons polled in a recent survey by Pew, who feel rejected by the American mainstream. It cannot be psychologically healthy for him or anyone to suppress and deny their whole belief system, family history and way of life. Romney is always accused of not having a core. The truth may be that he simply can't reveal his true core. It would destroy him politically.

Mitt should quit while he's ahead. Nothing, not even a presidential nomination, is worth the destruction of one's physical and mental health.

Denis Neville said...

The Zeppo President?

Frank Rich, “Mitt Romney! If any belief unites our polarized nation, it’s the conviction that Romney is the most transparent phony in either party, no matter how much he’s now deaccessioning hair products.” – Obama’s Original Sin, New York Magazine, 7/03/11

David Brooks disagrees, “Mitt Romney is Zeppo [Marx]. He doesn’t spin out one-liners. He’s not the rambunctious one. He’s just the earnest, good-looking guy who wants to be appreciated.” – The Serious One, NY Times, 11/07/11

Is the robotic, android Mittens (aka Rombot the Ripper), serving as the Plutocracy’s representative, fit to be the Zeppo president?

Karen says, “The truth may be that he simply can't reveal his true core. It would destroy him politically.”

Charile Pierce, “Mitt Romney: The Real Austerity Candidate,” reveals that true core:

“Comes now this pure piece of manufactured product, this vacant replicant of American plutocracy, to lecture a country in the middle of a fragile recovery from an economic disaster brought on by the other soulless replicants on the topics of our vanishing work ethic, and the great moral cleansing power of onrushing poverty.”

“He is the real austerity candidate, the guy who will run the ball here for the banksters who are crippling Europe, and a lot of Europeans, with economic strategies that keep themselves afloat while children die of preventable diseases, and guaranteeing that whatever recoveries there will be in places like Ireland and the UK will be the sole property of the people who most deserve them. This is what Willard Romney would like to bring to America. He just has to convince enough people that the pain will be imposed upon the undeserving Them. It is a vicious puppet show of a campaign he's running.”

“He has embarked on a divisive campaign of misdirection, hoping against hope that nobody notices that he mortgaged himself to his ambition on an adjustable rate, and that he's underwater on his soul.”

Denis Neville said...

Tom Tomorrow: The Romdroids

Kat said...

A gig writing op eds at the NYTimes means never having to say you're sorry. In fact, it may mean doubling down on your wrongheaded notions.
I have been reading Ha Joon Chang's 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism" and it is difficult to read it without imagining each chapter as a rejoinder to a specific Times columnist whether it is the the "sweatshops and schools will save the developing nations" Nicholas Kristof, NAFTA supporter Krugman, "values matter" Brooks, or Mr. Star Ups Friedman, there is something for everyone.
Obviously, we can't wait around for the right spokesperson to come along (and I'm not saying any of you are doing that)-- so occupy your federal courthouse today!
(and check out the book)

Kat said...

Oh-- and I meant to post this the other day.
Here is a politician who issued a statement on MLK day that does not water down his message:

Anne Lavoie said...


Thanks for giving us more clarity on Obama's Keystone XL 'decision'. Sometimes I question myself when I hear leading environmentalists like Bill McKibben and others crow about the Keystone 'victory', because it sure doesn't look like one to me.

I have to wonder where they are coming from with all this celebratory talk. These aren't naive kids, they are adults and they should know better. More than likely, Obama whispered to Bill that he 'would stand with them', wink wink, and you know what that means - You get hope, he gets votes, then we all get screwed. His usual campaign ploy.

McKibben is an Obama shill. Ralph Nader pointed out last fall that he cancelled Nader's speech at a rally in DC after inviting him, saying at the very last minute that there was not enough time left, then let the other speakers drone on endlessly. He told speakers not to mention Obama by name, and he and his followers were wearing Obama pins and t-shirts at the rally.

That was before either of Obama's 'decisions'. They have done their part by being loyal and not criticizing him, and now they are so drunk on the Kool-Aid that they take his hollow announcement as a sign of victory. Well their claims of winning sure aren't based in reality.

That's the point though - Question reality and buy the Obama illusion. Get on board the Obama Love Train. Feel the spirit? Win the future!

It's like a cult.

Anne Lavoie said...


Thanks for the link to Barbara Lee's MLK statement. That's more like it!

Too bad the first Black President would whitewash MLK's message, but what can we expect from that Warlord.

By the way, corporate sponsors of the literally and figuratively whitewashed MLK Memorial (white stone) include Goldman Sachs, GM, Boeing, BP, ExxonMobil, DuPont, Coca Cola, GM, Disney, Ford, etc. I read that they decided not to even include quotes from 'I Have A Dream' because it was 'too well known', so no need.

To see the corporate sponsor list as shown by their logo's, go to:

Will said...

Did you see Barry channeling Al Green last night at the Apollo? It appears he only sold *most* of his soul to the Devil, because this is actually pretty good:

Oh well. I guess everything is A-OK again. Our Savior is back, baby, and this time he can sing too!


"Cat" will do said...

Here's the NOW HAPPENING court issue of the week that merits our attention: (per the times jan 18) Privatize the public domain?

"The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a federal law that restored copyright protection to works that had entered the public domain.

By a 6-to-2 vote, the justices rejected arguments based on the First Amendment and the Constitution’s copyright clause, saying that the public domain was not “a category of constitutional significance” and that copyright protections might be expanded even if they did not create incentives for new works to be created.

The precise number of affected works is unknown but “probably number in the millions,” Marybeth Peters, the United States register of copyrights, said in 1996.

The law was challenged by orchestra conductors, teachers and film archivists who said they had relied for years on the free availability of such works."

Public domain not significant?? major bummer, folks.

vive l'occupation!

Anne Lavoie said...


Thanks for the link. Hey, wasn't that a mirror Obama was holding and looking into as he sang 'I'm so in love with you'?

Denis Neville said...

@ Anne Lavoie

The Obama “Love Train” is crowded…and filled with $$$$$

“Of all the worldly passions, lust is the most intense. All other worldly passions seem to follow in its train.” – Buddha

Obama loves “Love Trains” so much…with their huge donations (and those “folks” are not buying illusions). An Obama fundraiser, also a top Wall Street banking executive, said that reports of Wall Street antagonism toward Obama "are exaggerated and overblown.” “It probably helps from a political perspective if he’s not seen as a Wall Street guy.” They don’t have to beg to get on board. They already have their “Get Out of Jail Free” cards. Welcome aboard!

Gee, ever wonder why hasn’t there been any prosecution of the massive criminal fraud by the banksters?

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, were partners for years at a Washington law firm that represented a Who's Who of big banks and other companies at the center of alleged foreclosure fraud, a Reuters inquiry shows.

Do you suppose there is a Love Train Connection there?

William Black discusses Gretchen Morgenson’s and Louise Story’s NY Times article,
“Financial Finger-Pointing Turns to Regulators,” that contains a spectacular charge against the Obama administration’s financial regulatory leaders.

“Senior former regulators are willing to be quoted by name asserting that Obama’s (not Bush’s) financial regulatory leaders are blocking lawsuits against fraudulent financial elites and their anti-regulatory co-conspirators because they fear embarrassment. That would be a disgraceful policy. Indeed, it is hard to think of a worse reason for granting the elite white-collar criminals that caused the crisis and the Great Recession immunity from prosecution.”

Let’s put Obama on the last train to Clarksville!

Denis Neville said...

Obama’s “Love Train” Destination…

On the final night of this fall's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, Obama will deliver his acceptance speech at Bank of America stadium, where there are more skyboxes to sell to the 1%.

Bank of America stadium???

“It doesn’t matter whose name is on the stadium, President Obama has a record to run on holding Wall Street accountable, and there will be no doubt which candidate in the race is willing to stand up to Wall Street.”

Or so the DNC says.

Denis Neville said...

Follow the track that the Obama “Love Train” is on…

Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel connects a few data points.

• Last Friday, Jame Dimon demanded that all the players (except the actual homeowners) get locked into a room until some leader solved the housing problem he and his buddies created.

• On Sunday, the Administration promised, for what seems the bajillioninth time, to really do something about foreclosures.

• On Monday, the Democrats confirmed that Obama will accept his nomination at Bank of America stadium.

• On Wednesday, Shawn Donovan rolled out the latest incarnation of the foreclosure settlement–one which still helps just a small fraction of families suffering because the housing bubble crashed.

• And now the Administration has a meeting planned for January 23–what sounds like just the meeting Dimon demanded–to iron out the last bits of such a minimally helpful settlement. There are two details of this meeting that are especially noteworthy.

First, only the Democratic Attorneys General appear to be invited.

Even better? This meeting is in Chicago! The one thing that’s in Chicago, of course, is Obama’s campaign headquarters. (Outgoing Chief of Staff and now campaign Co-Chair and former–future?–JP Morgan exec Bill Daley? He lives in Chicago!)

“So to ‘solve’ the foreclosure problem, we’re going to invite a bunch of people–but only the Democrats–to Obama’s campaign headquarter city to hammer out something that really only helps a fraction of those affected.”

“Yes we can.”

Does anyone seriously think that Team Obama is listening to Occupy Wall Street?

Denis Neville said...

Derail the Obama “Love Train”

Yves Smith at nakedcapitalism has issued an appeal:

“Call Your Attorney General Today to Oppose Big Obama Push to Get Mortgage Settlement Deal Done”

“The latest bit of corrupt behavior is that the Obama administration has a full court press on to push the heinous ‘multi-state’ settlement deal over the line… it appears the President wants a talking point, ideally for the State of the Union address or as shortly thereafter as possible… the administration is putting far more pressure on the dissident and skeptical Democratic attorneys general…The Administration is ramping up ‘a deal is almost cinched’ reports with Obamabot news outlets like NPR. This is a classic deal/salesmans’ tactic: to create the impression of momentum when there is fact is often none.

“Leaving the AGs free to investigate and increase the pressure that is already building up in the system is the best chance we have to deal with widespread fraud. The attorneys general really need your support. It helps them to hear that their constituents appreciate them standing up to the banks and the Obama administration. PLEASE call them TODAY. If you can’t get through, send an e-mail.

“Please also sign the petition from Campaign for America’s Future (it has some talking points if you need them for the AG calls). I know it is futile to ping Obama, but they will collect the number of people who sign, and that will in turn bolster the dissident AGs.

“Please call today. Unlike Congresscritters, who get a lot of constituent mail and phone calls, AGs get much less in the way of messages from state citizens, so your calls will make a difference.”

Neil said...

Yes Karen, it is an unhappy birthday. But given our current duopoly, does it matter who funds the Democrats or Republicans, or in what amount? Neither party represents the people’s interest. As expressed by Anne on Obama’s campaign ploy: "You get hope, he gets votes, then we all get screwed."

What about a third party candidate? Bush v. Gore shows us that the electoral college elects the president, not the popular vote. How many of the 538 electoral college electors (all nominated by their state political parties) would cast votes for a third party candidate, even a popular one like Ross Perot in 1992? Perhaps zero, like Perot got with 19% of the popular vote, almost 20 million poplar votes in ‘92.

What about a write-in candidate? Consider this, from Wikipedia" "In some states, if a voter wants to write in a candidate for President, the voter is also required to write-in the names of candidates for elector". Does anyone know their elector?

Karen wrote "It's estimated that the 2012 edition will go down in history as the most staggeringly expensive presidential campaign ever…with the prize going to the biggest spender…"

What does that say for the American voter, that their vote will be the result of campaign ads, and not their own critical thinking?

The Blog of Legal Times reports the following numbers for the Occupy the Courts January 20th demonstration:

Several hundred people at the U.S. Supreme Court; 12 arrested
About 150 in Boston (29 degree weather)
Roughly 100 in San Francisco
40 in West Palm Beach (Florida weather)
50 in Chicago (in driving snow)

Even on this article, few of the comment are about Occupy the Courts - just an observation, not a criticism. (thanks Denis for some great links). BTW, my permit for Occupy the Courts in Ocala was denied. The GSA said they have not been issuing permits for Occupy the Courts on federal property in the Middle District of Florida, in agreement with the U.S. Marshals and Homeland Security. You can read more here

We are governed by a duopoly under an impenetrable, arcane rule of law that favors wealth and the status quo, the one percent. While I favor overturning Citizens United for a number of reasons, I don’t see how it makes much difference to the presidential election, which is just a very expensive dog and pony show.