Friday, October 8, 2010

U.S. [S]Chamber of Commerce

Flags Of The WorldIf the reports are correct, then we're seeing President Obama's prediction come true, as well as the predictions of a number of other Washington insiders, who warned--giving First Amendment, free-speech rights to corporations will engender a strain on our democracy never before seen in this country, as corporate and foreign money is used to influence policies and elect candidates who can contribute, in some fashion, to their bottomline.

When Obama sounded the alarm during one of his addresses to the American people, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito visibly shook his head--a serious breach of decorum. Alito had to know the can of worms that he and the court had opened. Yet, his shake of the head was a clear indication that he was deeply perturbed to have it brought to his attention in a forum that didn't allow him a rebuttal. If Alito could have looked ahead to the following article in the Christian Science Monitor, would he have ruled differently?

The focus of particular attention this week is the US Chamber of Commerce, a powerhouse in campaign financing with funds directed largely to the coffers of Republican candidates.

Liberal groups say the Chamber – which has budgeted $75 million to support its favorite candidates this year, almost exclusively Republicans – is using foreign money as part of its huge campaign war chest, which would be illegal. Chamber officials deny the charge.

But it's hard to know for sure, because under federal law the Chamber doesn't have to detail the sources of its campaign spending.

At the time of the Supreme Court decision, I wrote about this under the title, Whose Country Is It, Anyway?, and scolded Jonathan Turley, noted U.S. Constitution scholar, for praising the decision, seeing it as a victory for free speech. With this recent revelation, I wonder if Turley still believes that free speech was served as a result of the Supreme Court decision to extend a First Amendment right to corporations, effectively paving the way for an eventual corpocracy, if steps aren't taken by Congress to bring a halt to this corporate take over of our most precious freedom--to practice our democracy without undue influence either from within or without our country.

Embattled Democratic candidates, the target of Chamber-funded campaign ads, are crying foul, some pointing to the need to revisit last January’s US Supreme Court 5-to-4 decision in the Citizens United case, which makes it easier for corporations and labor unions to influence elections through campaign advertising.

Why must there be this supposed natural-enemy battle line drawn between labor and management? One of the reasons: Management has never been reluctant to put profits ahead of workers, treating them more as disposables than assets. Now that these multinational corporations have the workforce of countries like China, India, and others, from which to draw their labor, outsourcing of production is becoming more and more commonplace. So it follows that these multinational corporations, as well as government-backed foreign corporations, will do whatever is necessary to influence outcomes favorable to them.

And if that means backing "free-market" forces within our country with money--which is mostly synonymous with Republicans, their more likely targets--so be it. We have Tea Party Goers chafing at the idea of socialism, but backing a "free market" ideology which is nothing more than an "outsourcing" of American jobs. How long will it take them to recognize the real enemy to our democracy, our economy, and the continued growth of our middle class?

What we're seeing is an assault upon our democratic process--Supreme Court decisions that favor corporations, and government entities (think the recent eminent domain ruling), lobbyists paying out record sums of moneys to buy off legislators, and now, insult upon insult, foreign money pouring into our elections--so much so that what we now have is not an actual democracy, but a democracy in name only.

Multinational corporations will fly the flag of any country that will give them the most bang for their buck, whether it's China's cheap labor practices--demanding from some of its workforce 35-hour shifts at 31 cents an hour to make an American corporation's products to be sold back to us--or India's cheap labor practices.

Not only can't American workers compete in this global marketplace, they're virtually at a disadvantage--one of the reasons why we're hearing such terms as "economic patriotism" being thrown about these days. Unions, and out-of-work Americans, are often seen as the problem, with the results that they're viciously attacked from some quarters. What these workers need, instead, is more time to retool, or, in some cases, extended unemployment insurance.

The irony: I'm told that many American jobs aren't being filled, because too many Americans don't have the requisite skills, training, or education to fill them. And these aren't a handful of jobs, but millions of them--enough to put quite a dent in our unemployment numbers.


Greg L said...


I believe we arrived at a complete corporatocracy in America years ago and the recent supreme court ruling only finishes the job. Even if it could be reversed, we would still have the outsized influence of lobbies and the moral hazard insurance policy being extended by the Federal Reserve and various organs of government to those considered too big to fail. Hence, we all have to witness the spectacle of certain groups laying claim to the holy grail of free market capitalism while they run to ensure its suspension at the behest of those who don’t wish to be subject to its discipline.

The brutal truth is that the political apparatus must be controlled to prevent the eventual clamor from the people calling for justice to be addressed. Otherwise, that could result in things like anti-trust laws, the re-implementation of Glass Stegall and other sorts of things that could impair profits. It’s not as if they wouldn’t be making money with sensible regulation and limits on political influence, but in their view it simply wouldn’t be enough.

Foreign money is probably influencing our political system already. Although foreign lobbies are supposed to be registered as such, there’s little doubt that sort of money is finding itself among domestic lobbying organizations. Basically, the political system is for sale and that's the basic problem.

I just see our political and economic systems moving inexorably towards collapse—a collapse under their own weight and the more stuff like this happens, the closer we get to that eventuality. That in and of itself may not be a bad thing as that sets a better stage for reform. But in the interim, the situation is definitely jacked up.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg: "I just see our political and economic systems moving inexorably towards collapse—a collapse under their own weight and the more stuff like this happens, the closer we get to that eventuality."

True. The shocker is that the system still stands, and didn't collapse years ago.

Retribution may be swift or slow, depending on the enormity of the offense and the number of people involved.

Only this morning I learned of another Wall Street, stock-market scam sweeping the nation.

Unknown to many, some greedy investors have set in play forces that will return to the source from which they sprung, and do so with a vengeance.

Although the words of Irving Berlin's song were prompted apparently because we were embroiled in a war overseas, they are no less relevant today as when he first penned them.

God bless america, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless america,
My home sweet home.

Jeremiah Wright called for a curse, rather than a blessing, upon America for its current and historical brutality against people within the Americas, and around the world--as a way to put an end to that brutality.

Yet, it's my hope that God will save America. But America may be beyond saving in the long-term, such has been the "chickens" that it has hatched here and abroad, that will "come home to roost," to use Wright's analogy.

There are many reasons why people should play fair. Yet, those intent on scamming the system can't think of one, or lack the moral compass to find one--and it is that lack which set the scams in motion in the first place.

To further underscore America's decline, I heard today that someone threw a book at President Obama during one of his stops. I don't have the skinny on it, but I'm sure it'll come to light by and by.

Kathy said...

BD, the book incident happened in Philly I think, it wasn't a big news item in the US. You have to look for a foreign newspaper to find it, I guess.

My best guess is that we are going under or heading toward a major war and chaos. I hope not, but it doesn't look very good.

Kathy said...

BD, on China's cheap labor practices, actually I see it as American corporations using the cheap labor, poluting with abandon, and killing the environment and people of China and India. It's horrible.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

We're headed for destruction caused by greed if people do not wake up. I believe that they are trying to back American's up against a wall and force them to work for cheap labor. It is as if they're saying indirectly if you want a job then you'll work for cheaper wages too or we'll take our jobs elsewhere. What I mean is that it is like they are trying to bring the serfism system right here to America by force.

Ernesto said...

It will take more than an act of congress to fix what's broke, since congress is what's broke. We need a constitutional amendment for clean elections, to end once and for all the pay for play and revolving door between lobbyists and politicos.

Black Diaspora said...

@Kathy: It doesn't look good. Yet, we don't seem able to bring an end to our self-destructive behavior. Yes, China, in the years ahead, will have a great deal more than just its growing pains with which to cope--unchecked progress can wreak untold damage on its environment.

As economies go, China has moved into the number two slot with a GDP ahead of Japan, and rapidly overtaking our own.

If people aren't bonkers now, a number one China will be the impetus to push them over the edge.

Black Diaspora said...

@Granny: Corporations are enriching themselves at our expense. If they're not careful, workers will be plentiful, but consumers will be scarce.

The "serf" analogy is spot on. Relationships have changed. If unions complain, their jobs are outsourced. If they keep their mouths shut, then they're shut out, and are forced to watch as the middle class in this country disappears.

Black Diaspora said...

@Ernesto: I think you're right. Nothing short of a Constitutional amendment will fix the problem, as Congress lacks the will, or is too compromised, to do so.

For the moment, not enough Americans are astute enough, or informed enough, to force this change. The Tea Party says it's the size of government with which it disapproves, but no where do I hear that the Party is opposed to the congress being bought, and therefore bossed by lobbyists.

Could it be that this AstroTurf movement is, itself, bought and bossed? The Koch brothers are running, but they can't hide.

Ernesto said...

BD...yes the Tea Party is the loud little handful, the same creeps that brought us the trillion dollar wars w/o end. They represent the gilded interests and no one else, certainly no one that can actually see past their nose at what is truly amiss in our political landscape. The great majority of people can see this, but they cannot seem to get a voice on TV or radio. So the internet, for the time being anyway, is the only place we can rally en masse.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

I've noticed that no polling people have called me at all. Usually, around election time my telephone is ringing off the hook. I asked around and everyone I ask told me that they weren't getting any this time either, except Republicans. Republicans are the only ones they've been calling.

Remember during the presidential elections how they kept changing the number of electoral votes needed for President Obama to win the nomination for a president candidate, well I believe they are up to their old tricks again. They are trying to discourage the people from voting. I pray that they don't fall for it and get out and vote, especially blacks. However, some blacks have fell for the deception and seem to have jumped ship. I pray that they come to their senses before election day.

Black Diaspora said...

@Granny: Granny, Republicans/Tea Party folks see themselves as shoo-ins this time around, and on express track to taking over the House and the Senate.

Polling people probably think it's a waste of time to call Democrats when the outcome is this certain.

We have been hearing it for weeks: The Republicans are going to take back Congress. We heard it so much, that it almost seems orchestrated, and a foregone conclusion.

I'm beginning to think that some Democrats have come to believe this, too, and are staying home. Why vote when the outcome has already been determined.

Many Republican agents, and supporters, have used liberal blogs to discourage voters--casting Obama as the worse of the worse. Some blacks have fallen for this political tactic, not fully appreciating the deceitful strategy in play by the opposition party.

"However, some blacks have fell for the deception and seem to have jumped ship. I pray that they come to their senses before election day."

The opposition has hammered away at Obama from day one, to shatter his image, his message of hope and change, and have done so unabashedly. Bush, for all the mess he got us in, and all the mess he did, was never treated with the disdain we're seeing directed at Obama.

What Democrat called Bush a liar to his face and during an important speech to Congress and the American people? What military officer, during Bush's administration, refused to see Bush as the Commander-in-Chief? I could go on.

I will be blogging about this in the near future. There's something afoot here that's old, but with a new twist.

People need to wake up and vote. Our system may be corrupted by money, but I think Republicans are stuffing more of that corrupt money in their pockets than Democrats.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]If the reports are correct[/quote]

If only you stopped right there.
This would have been noted as the first post that you have submitted that I agreed with without reservation.

Black Diaspora said...

"...the first post that you have submitted that I agreed with without reservation."

Oh, c'mon! You know you want to come over to the Left side of reality. We're getting so much revisionist history from the Right, I thought I'd provide a little of my own.

Constructive Feedback said...


Indeed some on the right have a problem with "revisionist history".

However, the biggest ailment that the Black community is suffering from today is the problem with the "Pro forma Grio" who are embedded within with an ulterior motive.

They SELL BLACK PEOPLE FORWARD with claims that, upon looking back upon - never came to be. This is of course except the realistic agenda that they had - the attainment of institutional seats of power.

I was just about to write a blog post about the ever SCALING claim of "This is an important election for Black people"

1965 - We can get the first Black principal if we vote

1970 - We can get the first Black city councilman

1975 - County board member

1980 - Mayor

1985 - US Rep

1992 - Several Black secretaries in the Presidential administration if we vote for the Democrats



BD - Explain how all the actions of these "Pro Forma Grios" has benefited the people that you visit in your prison service projects?

Black Diaspora said...

CS, you make a compelling case against black, liberal officeholders and for replacing them with either conservatives or whites.

Blacks have forgotten how well we fared under whites, and the conservative agenda of Republicans.

We blacks should go back to the future, and follow the political course that will assure us the social, political, and economic advancement we all seek.

How could we have ever believed that black officeholders would operate in our best interest, in the way that whites and conservatives of the past have operated in our best interest.

On television recently, a news station did a retrospective, a historical walk down memory lane, and there in big block letters was this storefront sign proudly stating: Negroes For Goldwater.

Now, those Negroes were on to something: They knew that Goldwater would be better for blacks, and black interests, than a liberal counterpart.

So, CS, I repent: I won't stand with this black president, nor will I vote for another black for elected office, and I sure as hell won't vote Democrat--that is, while I'm still asleep. I can't say how I'll respond when I'm fully awake and this nightmare is behind me.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]How could we have ever believed that black officeholders would operate in our best interest,[/quote]

My good friend Black Diaspora. I am not sure where you live in the USA.

It is my opinion that this "Black elected official" thing that you and other Progressive-Fundamentalists are caught up on as they seek out the "BLACK Consensus Candidate" in Chicago - but aren't making note of how THEY are complicit players in the present failed condition in the Southside.

You see I have noted that the local muckraking television reporter does more for BLACK SOCIAL JUSTICE by being blind to WHO is in OFFICE that is failing the Black, White, Hispanic and Asian communities but in stead they focus on THAT the office holder is SCREWING UP.

As I see it - My friend BD - we struggled for OPPORTUNITY TO SIT IN THE ELECTED SEAT and to be the community leader rather than be relegated to "community organizers".

The proof of your misalignment comes when we see POPULAR OFFICIALS who fail to deliver and yet they don't receive the REBUKE from you and other progressive-fundamentalists.

Instead all they need to do is to rattle the CHAINS of what would happen if the WHITE CONSERVATIVE were to get the seat and this is enough to have Black people FUNCTIONALLY "vote against our best interests".

I would love for you to detail the COMPETENCIES that your favored ideology that HAS CONTROL over our community has engendered upon our people?

Black Diaspora said...

@CF: "As I see it - My friend BD - we struggled for OPPORTUNITY TO SIT IN THE ELECTED SEAT and to be the community leader rather than be relegated to "community organizers"."

And that, my friend, is the heart and soul of the problem: Our struggle for representation. Unalienable Rights were unalienable for everyone but blacks.

And yet, we're expected to acquit ourselves in ways that are outside of the mainstream. The mainstream is corrupt. And it doesn't matter what politicians hold the seats of power, unless the corrupt system is abolished, it will do little good to play musical chairs, and keep kicking out the bums only to replace them with more bums.

"The proof of your misalignment comes when we see POPULAR OFFICIALS who fail to deliver and yet they don't receive the REBUKE from you and other progressive-fundamentalists."

You can't speak for me. You know almost little or nothing about the political arena in which I fight, or the methods I've chosen with which to fight.

To be sure, I'm a progressive, only because my true politics reach beyond what is practiced today. But a "fundamentalist"? You have me all wrong: There's nothing fundamental about how I perceive the world. In fact, my perspective is downright revolutionary. Not only would you not be able to identify with my politics, you would consider it extreme, and radical.

"Instead all they need to do is to rattle the CHAINS of what would happen if the WHITE CONSERVATIVE were to get the seat and this is enough to have Black people FUNCTIONALLY "vote against our best interests"."

History is my teacher. You're asking blacks to seek "salvation" from among those (white conservative[s]) who played a pivotal role in creating the problem in the first place.

He who created the problem cannot solve the problem.

He (they) will continue to bring their failed policies and solutions to the problem, exacerbating them, rather than fixing them, under the guise that the solution must be as onerous, and as painful as the problem itself.

"I would love for you to detail the COMPETENCIES that your favored ideology that HAS CONTROL over our community has engendered upon our people?"

My "ideology" isn't favored. It's too radical, and doesn't serve the "interests" of the puppetmasters who really pull the strings, and play the music to which we all dance.

Therefore, I'll adhere to the Hippocratic oath which states, "Do no harm," but in my case, do as little harm as possible. The ideology on the Right, I'm afraid, is the ideology that speaks from both sides of its mouth. It says one thing, but does another. It's this duplicity that disturbs me, and which I find unelectable.

So I'll continue to vote liberal, despite your perception of harm, for fear that the evil that lurks in the hearts of men will be unleashed at a rate, and to a degree, that will envelop us all.