Thursday, 19 July 2012
Bill Moyers Essay: Fighting Disclosure, Killing Democracy July 19, 2012 In this web-exclusive video essay, Bill Moyers addresses the failure of the DISCLOSE Act, and calls out politicians who fight tooth and nail to hide the truth about the wealthy few who purchase and corrupt American democracy...
Our politics took a nightmarish turn this week. Senate Republicans twice blocked a vote to require corporations, unions, and obscure organizations hovering in the shadows to tell us who’s putting up the millions and millions of dollars for all the propaganda assaulting the public during this political year.
The bill the Republicans killed was already a weak parody of its original intent. It wouldn’t even go into effect until after the November auction when the buying and selling of the White House, Congress, state legislatures and courts will have been completed, and the dark money will have done its dirty work. By then a vast pall of secrecy will cover the tracks of the secret donors. The knife plunged into the heart of democracy will have been wiped clean of the fingerprints of those who wielded it. The public will not even know who owns title to our government.
Both our political parties are up to their necks in this corruption; it was Barack Obama, you’ll recall, who tossed public funding under the bus four years ago, then hauled in huge sums of money from Wall Street fat cats he later promised to protect from public wrath over their ill-gotten gains. And when there was just a brief chance to reform carried interest, the trickery that enables the Mitt Romneys of the world to pay a tax rate far below working people, Wall Street Democrats like Chuck Schumer helped to snuff it out in the cradle.
But the Republicans, once the party of Lincoln – “government of, by, and for the people,” remember? – the Republicans have thrown their soul into the bargain.
Once upon a time they said, “Let there be light.”
Here’s Ronald Reagan in l988: “We need full disclosure of all campaign contributions….”
Here’s the first George Bush in l989: “Disclosure - full disclosure - that’s the answer.”
Senator John McCain in 2004: “What reform does is create transparency, equality, and participation…”
Senator Scott Brown in 2012: “Attack ads, from unaccountable, outside groups that spend millions of dollars from anonymous donors portraying their opposition unfairly and misleading voters are wrong.”
Once upon a time even Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was for transparency. Even Mitch McConnell sang, “Let the sunshine in.” In l997 he said disclosing campaign donors and spending “should be expedited so voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate.” Three years later he called for “real disclosure” and asked, “Why would a little disclosure be better than a lot of disclosure?”
That was then. Now Mitch McConnell has become a walking alibi for corruption. He lines up every Republican in the Senate – every one of them - to protect their secret donors. And he does so twice in one week.
Why? Because they have made it their mission to prevent majority rule. And because they are no longer a conservative party. The noted political scientist Sheldon Wolin, in his book Democracy Inc., writes that the Republican Party is now radically oligarchical – programmed to advance corporate economic and political interests and to protect and promote inequalities of opportunity and wealth. There’s the nightmarish future: a government run of, by, and for the rich, while everyday Americans are left to lives of lowered earnings, chronic insecurity in the workplace, and a vulnerable old age.
This is why secrecy is a must. Because that vision – of a nation no longer fair, no longer just – cannot possibly win free and open elections conducted as honest competition. The majority of Americans – citizens of a country born in what one historian calls “the age of democratic revolutions” – would never choose to be governed by the few at the expense of the many. Politicians required to play by the rules, to openly confess that their loyalty has been purchased and forced to identify the highest bidders, could not possibly survive the scrutiny. So they must bend the rules to conceal their transactions. In doing in democracy, their safety is in secrecy, and we must be kept in the dark.
A Bill Moyers interview on The Colbert Report..
The following outline is to help you understand what a Corporation was intended as... and what it has become...
There seems to be some misunderstanding of what Corporations are and what they have become as Mitt Romney illustrates with his "Corporations Are People" comment...
Note: The Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on money that can flow to help/promote political campaigns is against the first amendment (i.e. money has free speech rights /first amendment protection!!!! I didn't even know money could speak.)
The above statement made many people angry, including Stephen Colbert...
So the following are definitions and comparative examples to better understand the modern Corporate structure...
What is a Corporation?
Basic dictionary definition:
a : a group of merchants or traders united in a trade guild b : the municipal authorities of a town or city
: a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession
: an association of employers and employees in a basic industry or of members of a profession organized as an organ of political representation in a corporative state
A legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners. Corporations enjoy most of the rights and responsibilities that an individual possesses; that is, a corporation has the right to enter into contracts, loan and borrow money, sue and be sued, hire employees, own assets and pay taxes.
The most important aspect of a corporation is limited liability. That is, shareholders have the right to participate in the profits, through dividends and/or the appreciation of stock, but are not held personally liable for the company's debts.
Corporations are often called "C Corporations".
Compare and Contrast:
Context to understand some of the strange rules Corporations are allowed (more than an average person/family for sureb)...
In other words, besides free speech rights for corporate money, there are ways for corporations to get out of paying taxes and a whole bunch of other nonsense that seems to be just part of the reason for the present financial chaos.
Compare and Contrast - Case Study
A Shell Corporation: Switching fundraising approach by creating a company (approx 4 mins into video) - this new company is called a 501 (c)4 - Allows donations from unknown donors , notice the dramatic increase in donations! (the example used is Karl Rove's Super Pac and a new one he created to shield it);
To compete with Karl Rove, Stephen creates his own Shell Corporation (this approach allows corporate donations in secrecy as their shareholders or customers may object to their practices)...
The following video is the amusing result of the above two videos...
To fight a few rich people from taking over American "Democracy" through the cover of "Corporations As People", Senator Sanders has been trying to pass an amendment to fight the Citizens United Ruling through a Senate that is owned by Corporations (which is why I saw no point in helping).
About the Amendment to fight the Citizens United ruling...
"The corporate barbarians are through the gate of American democracy. Not satisfied with their all-pervasive influence on our culture, economy and legislative processes, they want more. They want it all."
Corporate money in politics has gone from bad to worse.
Politicians, if opposed to Wall Street or even big pharmaceuticals, have to fear a possible Add attack by corporate money in the electoral process (that's how you scare a politician into being corrupt!!!)...
Warning that "American democracy in endangered," Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted and secret campaign spending by corporations on U.S. elections. The first constitutional amendment ever proposed by Sanders during his two decades in Congress would reverse the narrow 5-to-4 ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission.
Why is there so much money in politics for the 2012 election?
Because of what's at stake. If this works, then with the November election, as long as Romney is still running, you will be able to say with complete confidence that the United States now belongs to a few old rich men. Just like at the time of the American Revolution. History has brought to USA back to where it began! I guess it's true, history does repeat itself.
The elections are being bought because the US have become and "Winner Take All" Oligarchy...
Moyers & Company 101: On Winner Take All Politics from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.
From Bill Moyers.com In its premiere episode, Moyers & Company dives into one of the most important and controversial issues of our time: How Washington and Big Business colluded to make the super-rich richer and turn their backs on the rest of us.
Bill’s guests – Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, authors of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, argue that America’s vast inequality is no accident, but in fact has been politically engineered.
How, in a nation as wealthy as America, can the economy simply stop working for people at large, while super-serving those at the very top? Through exhaustive research and analysis, the political scientists Hacker and Pierson — whom Bill regards as the “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson” of economics — detail important truths behind a 30-year economic assault against the middle class.
One reason for the purchase of Democracy is the lucrative private prison business that many top level GOP officials (including Dick Cheney) are involved in...
In this essay, Bill reflects on Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams for America. Below, revisit Dr. King’s evolving theories of social and economic justice through his speeches, including the one given in Memphis just before his assassination.
Bill Moyers Journal Essay: On Equality from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.
Bill Moyers Journal: Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.
Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander on Injustice Two talented lawyers who’ve dedicated their careers to fighting inequality, Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson, join Bill Moyers on the Journal to examine justice and injustice in America 42 years after King’s death.
Alexander believes that King would be deeply troubled by the remaining inequality in America. As she tells Bill Moyers, “I think Martin Luther King would be thrilled by some of the individual progress of African Americans, but stunned, absolutely stunned and saddened, by the state of African Americans as a whole today.”
Stevenson adds that to reach King’s dream, America must address the causes of poverty, “I think in America, the opposite of poverty is justice. I think there are structures and systems that have created poverty, and have made that poverty so permanent, that until we think in a more just way about how to deal with poverty in this country, we’re never gonna make the progress that Dr. King envisioned.”
Both believe that America’s policies of mass incarceration continue the cycle of poverty. America is the largest jailer on the planet, with 2.3 million people behind bars. But the policy of mass imprisonment, unique among industrialized nations, disproportionately affects minorities, especially African American men. One in 100 adults in America is behind bars, but one in nine African American men aged 20 to 34 is behind bars. Much of this arises from the “war on drugs.” According to Human Rights Watch, African American adults have been arrested at a rate 2.8 to 5.5 times higher than white adults in every year from 1980 to 2007. Yet, according to government statistics, African Americans and whites have similar rates of illicit drug use and dealing.
Prisons for profit(PBS): "Corporations are running many Americans prisons, but will they put profits before prisoners?"
From Fareed Zakaria:
The chart below shows the number of prison inmates per capita in the United States compared with other major countries. The incarceration rate in the United States is more than three times that of Iran, six times that of China, and ten times that of Japan. (Source: The Economist via blogs.cfr.org/lindsay)..."Another chart on America's prison population from GOOD Magazine showing U.S. incarceration rates per 100,000 over time."
Also at stake is an investigation into securities fraud by the Bush Administration and thier allies (who are supporting Mitt Romney tooth and nail).