Thursday, January 21, 2010

Whose Country Is It, Anyway?

To whom does the country belong? I think we know the obvious answer, but how accurate is it? Does it belong to corporations, Big Corp, as I call them, when I refer to them as a collective body? Or to labor unions? Or small business? Or any number of sub-groups within these groups that have a special interest in influencing government?

Perhaps the government belongs to the government. All the various departments that comprise the government and the bureaucrats that run them. How about the military, and the Military Industrial Complex, that Eisenhower warned his countrymen of in 1961."?

How about Congress? To whom does it belong? Does it belong to the country? The people? We elected them right, all those various senators and district representatives, and sent them to the Congress, didn't we? Sure we did, or did we?

And then there's local government. To whom does it belong? And state government?

The obvious answers to the questions--"Whose country is it?" and "To whom does the country belong?"--is: "It's the people's country. It belongs to them."

I'm not so sure, now.

Perhaps the people's ownership of the country has always been a myth. A bedtime story told to the gullible, and the overly-trusting. Perhaps the Bill of Rights was added, not only to address the concerns of states like Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York, but to give the people a false sense of ownership, not only of their individual liberties, but ownership of the nation We, the people, formed to promote, in part, the "general welfare." We read:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The people, we're told, ordained and established the Constitution on behalf of the people of the United States.

If that's the case, I'd say we need a return to a people-centered government, to people-centered institutions, and a people-centered country, but I'm not sure if we've ever had such a government.

To document how this assault upon the people's rights has eroded our individual and collective rights, would require a book all its own.

No, this blog entry is not going to be a history lesson, nor a analytical treatise of the U.S. Constitution. It's merely a reminder of how far the institutions that the people formed--as a way to balance the use of power, through a system of checks and balances, and to discourage abuse--have conspired to coalesce power, and to deny the people the rights ascribed to them by the document we call our constitution.

Today, Thursday, January 21, 2010 (and I don't exaggerate), could go down in our history as the day this country's democracy became saturated by corporate money, and influence, and the people's welfare was supplanted by "corporate welfare." And since I'm not a constitutional scholar, I'm going to let those who're called the fourth branch of government to run it down for you.

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I included the Jonathan Turley video clip above to show you how a constitutional scholar viewed today's decision. I imagine it might have been similar to what the designers and builders of the Titanic might have rationalized when hearing that the ship sank: "How could it sink! It was designed and built to be unsinkable."

Despite Turley's hope that something can be done to offset the political advantage given to corporations, he doesn't address what, or how; he merely states that we have to develop more competing political parties, and use the legislative process to circumvent the potential of abuse around today's decision. But when you can buy off politicians, and as many as you'd like, either with threats, or outright support through political ads, don't expect too much opposition.

Now, take a look at this next video segment. At first you may be tempted to call it hyperbole, and unrealistic. But then before you do that, I want to remind you of the damage that corporate money, with some restrictions, has already achieved. We now have a health-care reform bill in doubt, the result of Republican delay tactics, and the diluting demands from politicians who held the bill hostage by threats of voting against the bill, giving the Republicans a filibuster majority. These politicians to the man and the woman have been bought by the Health Care industry, and weren't about to pass a bill that offered real health reform without adequate monetary compensation, the promise of millions of new members (customers) for health insurers.

Here's the next video:

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This Supreme Court decision is so far-reaching, so potentially disastrous for our democracy, so all-inclusive in its sheer magnitude, the only recourse we may have, unless ways and means can be found (not ruling out an amendment to our Constitution, provided corporate gods will allow it to go that far), will be for the people to rise up, and overthrow the government it installed, and the Constitution it formed, to wrest from corporate hands the democracy upon which this country was built.

Unless means are found to rein in this potential corporate hegemony, we may be seeing the end of our civil liberties, and the beginning of a new government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.

Here's what the president, himself a Constitutional scholar, released today when the Supreme Court Justice's ruling was announced:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 21, 2010

Statement from the President on Today's Supreme Court Decision
With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is 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. This 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. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.

And if you think these corporations will act with restraint, then think back over what has transpired over the past several decades, culminating in a shadow banking system, and unscrupulous financial practices, that nearly bankrupt this country, and brought it to the brink of economic collapse, a collapse that we usually refer to as a depression. And not just us here in the United States, but the entire world. The trend is to give corporations greater access to government, and a louder voice, usually to drown out the wishes of the populace.

A hat tip to Ernesto over at Sevens Devils Dead for first bringing this issue to my attention


GrannyStandingforTruth said...

I tell you the USA is getting more depressing day by day. If all the people in America who are disturbed by this got together and formed a PEOPLE'S CORPORATION that was more powerful than all the corporations in the USA, I wonder who would America be for then? Oh well, pinch me, I'm daydreaming. *sigh*

Black Diaspora said...

Granny, corporations have money to burn. They give billions away in bonuses.

I'm not so sure if we can compete on their level. Yet, we've got to find a way to exert leverage.

But at anytime Big Corp can undo what a previous administration has done, or a previous court has ruled, simply by buying off the current one.

I think this ruling by the Supremes is the biggest threat to our civil liberties ever.

It may take a few years for it to happen, but Big Corp, if nothing is done to stop them, will be running this country.

Ernesto said...

BD, thanks for blogging about this. I've been busy at work and at home lately or I would have put my thoughts together a few days ago when it looked like this nightmare was taking shape. This is truly a worst case scenario. We were already about 80 percent there (corporatocracy), but this is the final nail in the coffin. Obama now has to raise about a billion dollars to get re-elected in 2012. Where will that money come from? He will be even more of a hostage to Wall Street. His actions will be in even more stark contrast to his rhetoric. I have always thought that WE the people are the only ones that can put an end to this. Here's what we need to do:

It will take nothing less than a Constitutional Amendment to save us now.

Black Diaspora said...

@Ernesto: "It will take nothing less than a Constitutional Amendment to save us now."

I think you're right. It's interesting that Turley dismissed an amendment as a possible fix, and emoted over the ruling as a championing of free speech, as though it's an absolute.

And we know it's not. Community standards still prevail regarding pornography, and it's still illegal to yell, "fire," in a crowded theater.

Who in their right minds would champion using the Constitution, and the individual rights it accords, as a vehicle to destroy the democracy it was set up to create?

It was a real stretch to give to corporations the status of person. Will they now be able to own weapons? What a Pandora's box they have opened!

I'll take a look at the link you provided. Thanks.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Maybe, Congress or the people ought to look into limiting the term of Supreme Court Judges.

Black Diaspora said...

GrannyStandingforTruth said...
"Maybe, Congress or the people ought to look into limiting the term of Supreme Court Judges."

Granny, I'm for anything that'll work.

Ernesto said...

BD...the one thing about this that can really galvanize people from across the political spectrum against this ruling is that it basically sells out U.S. soveriegnty to any corporation, foreign or domestic. Imagine all the money the governments of Saudi Arabia and China have to buy U.S. politicians now. Even the most conservative right-winger can't sleep well at night when they realize what is going to happen.

Black Diaspora said...

I agree. It's one those unintended consequences when you're in a rush to give one political party a decided edge over the other.

But corporations are equal opportunity abusers, and will turn against the Repubbas, if they don't continue their historical support of corporations over the welfare of people.

So if Repubbas were corporate whores before, they'll have to maintain that posture, or be turned out for a better deal, and more willing whores.

But how much of the United States have we sold off to the Arabs and the Chinese already?

They're keeping that under wraps, and aren't revealing, as they once did, who's buying up the country.

We haven't had non-partisan support before from the Repubbas; perhaps now they'll get over themselves, and do what is best for the country, rather than for their party--and find ways to defang a ruling that's bad for them as well as democracy.

c.c.-kathy said...

Black Diaspora,
All these horrible news events got me down a little bit. Thank you for keeping me informed of these issues, and also, I want to thank you for setting a tone here of respect and logic. I tell you, that is so rare today on some blogs.

o.t.(just finished reading my first James Baldwin book, I can't believe I had never read him before, but at least i have a whole bunch of books to look forward too)

Black Diaspora said...

Thanks, kathy. I haven't read Baldwin in years. I wonder just how relevant his writings are today.

I suspect that he's still on the mark, despite the appearance of racial progress.

c.c.-kathy said...

Yes, still on the mark, sometimes I had to put the book down, and just contemplate his words.

Ernesto said...

"perhaps now they'll get over themselves, and do what is best for the country, rather than for their party"

I would be beyond shocked. They have about as much loyalty to this country as the corporations that own them. It's more likely there will be even more "blue dog" Democrats to join forces with those soul-less (expletive)s.

Black Diaspora said...

"Yes, still on the mark...."

kathy, you've inspired me to read Baldwin, again. It's been years since last I read him. It's time to reacquaint myself.

"They have about as much loyalty to this country as the corporations that own them."

But the Repubbas aren't paying a price for their disloyalty, and neither are the corporations.

Instead, they're being rewarded. And if Brown's election is seen as a protest vote, it's a strange kind of protest--we've given the Repubbas ammunition with which to do more harm, not less.

Ernesto said...

"it's a strange kind of protest"

Here is the conundrum: the Democrats get in and do nothing for their base. Their base stays home the next election cycle and the Republicans get back in and wreak even more havoc. Rinse and repeat...for the last 30 years.

Black Diaspora said...

Granted. But how many George Bushes can one country endure?

GrannyStandingforTruth said...


Would you show me how to make my handle black. Send me in an e-mail.

Ernesto said...

BD...we already survived two, which is a sign of what gluttons for punishement the American electorate are.

Granny, what I do is choose the "Name/URL" option and just type in my name without a URL.

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