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Sen. Sanders on The Colbert Report 1/2012

4 Jan
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Vermont Introduces Resolution to Amend US Constitution, Ban Corporate Personhood

29 Dec

http://morallowground.com/2011/01/23/vermont-introduces-resolution-to-amend-us-constitutionban-corporate-personhood/

23rd January 2011  (dated but relevant) 

It’s been one year since the US Supreme Court decided that corporations are people and money is free speech. The disastrous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission rulingdestroyed over a century of restrictions on corporate influence of our nation’s electoral process, accelerating the already alarming corporate takeover of American politics. The consequences of Citizens United were almost immediately felt in the form of a $290,000,000 special interest spending orgy in the 2010 midterm elections. Much of this money represented foreign corporate interests, and it played a significant role in the conservative resurgence that saw Republicans re-gain control of the House of Representatives.

Justice John Paul Stevens’ stirring dissenting opinion argued that “the Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the states to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process.” Stevens also wrote: “Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”

In that spirit, Vermont state senator Virginia Lyons has introduced an anti-corporate personhood resolution in the state legislature. JRS 11 is a “joint resolution urging the United States Congress to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution for the states’ consideration which provides that corporations are not persons under the laws of the United States or any of its jurisdictional subdivisions.” The resolution continues:

“Whereas, free and fair elections are essential to American democracy and effective self-governance, and

Whereas, individual persons are rightfully recognized as the human beings who actually vote in elections, and

Whereas, corporations are legal entities that governments create and can exist in perpetuity and simultaneously in many nations, and

Whereas, they do not vote in elections and should not be categorized as persons for purposes related to elections for public office, and

Whereas, corporations are not mentioned in the United States Constitution as adopted, nor have Congress and the states recognized corporations as legal persons in any subsequent federal constitutional amendment…

Whereas, the Court in Citizens United has created a new and unequal playing field between human beings and corporations with respect to campaign financing, negating over a century of precedent prohibiting corporate contributions to federal election campaigns dating to the Tillman Act of 1907, and

Whereas, the Citizens United decision has forced candidates for political office to divert attention from the interests and needs of their human constituents in order to raise sufficient campaign funds for election, and

Whereas, corporations are not and have never been human beings and therefore are rightfully subservient to human beings and the governments that are their creators, and

Whereas, the profits and institutional survival of large corporations are often in direct conflict with the essential needs and rights of human beings, and

Whereas, large corporations have used their so-called rights to successfully seek the judicial reversal of democratically enacted laws passed at the municipal, state, and federal levels aimed at curbing corporate abuse, and

Whereas, these judicial decisions have rendered democratically elected governments ineffective in protecting their citizens against corporate harm to the environment, health, workers, independent business, and local and regional economies, and

Whereas, large corporations own most of America’s mass media and employ those media to loudly express the corporate political agenda and to convince Americans that the primary role of human beings is that of consumers rather than sovereign citizens with democratic rights and responsibilities, and

Whereas, the only way to reverse this intolerable societal reality is to amend the United States Constitution to define persons as human beings and not corporations, now therefore be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives that the General Assembly urges Congress to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution for the states’ consideration which provides that corporations are not persons under the laws of the United States or any of its jurisdictional subdivisions…”

Constitutional lawyer and 2004 Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb helped draft the Vermont resolution. “This is the first state to introduce at the legislative level a statement of principles that corporations are not persons and do not have constitutional rights,” he told AlterNet. “This is how a movement gets started. It’s the beginning of a revolutionary action completely and totally within the legal framework.”

JRS 11 has a pretty decent chance of passing. Vermont is known for its progressive politics. The nation’s only openly socialist US Senator, Bernie Sanders, hails from here. The Green Mountain State was the first to abolish slavery, and the first to legalize same-sex marriage via legislation, not litigation. The Vermont state senate also voted to impeach George W. Bush and to shut down a nuclear power plant. “We have a citizen legislature in the state,” newly-elected governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, told Democracy Now! “We are not beholden to the special interests. We fight for our constituents in their best interest.”

The citizens of Vermont certainly know that the Citizens United ruling is definitely not in their best interests. And instead of sitting around and just bitching about the corporate takeover of America, they’re actually doing something about it. By declaring war on corporate personhood, they’re setting a fine example for the rest of the nation. What isyour state doing?

To get involved, or for more information, contact:

Move to Amend- http://movetoamend.org/

Free Speech for People- http://freespeechforpeople.org/

Fix Congress First- http://www.fixcongressfirst.org/

The Story of Citizens United v. FEC (2011)

29 Dec

The Story of Your Enslavement (extremely graphic)

21 Dec

There Is Only One Issue In America – Steven Van Zandt (for Huffington Post)

12 Dec

I was obsessed with politics in the ’80s. I’ve recovered and I’m feeling much better now thank you.

By the time I realized, as interesting as it was, I’d better stop this stuff and try to earn a living, I had discovered many of our social problems and quality of life issues could be traced to the same political source: our corrupt-by-definition electoral system. The solution to the problem was as easy to discover as the cause: The elimination of all private finance in the electoral process.

I was working doing most of my research in the area of our foreign policy since WWll, whatever fell under the umbrella of international liberation politics, but I examined and analyzed a fair amount of local issues as well.

I wanted to know how things work? Where’s the power? Who’s pulling the strings?

The economy of the world came down to the unholy trinity of guns, drugs and gasoline — military industry, drugs (legal and illegal), and energy — and now I would add agribusiness as the fourth controlling commodity, and always with the enabling bankers never too far out of sight making their profits far too often from wars and slave labor.

While that readily explained the suffering of the Third World, it didn’t immediately answer why in America it was possible for so many people to be unhappy with our government’s decisions, both foreign and domestic, when we’re supposedly living in a democracy.

A quick analysis of our electoral process revealed the obvious answer. The simple fact is we do not live in a democracy. Certainly not the kind our Founding Fathers intended. We live in a corporate dictatorship represented by, and beholden to, no single human being you can reason with or hold responsible for anything.

The corporation has but one obligation, which is to increase profits for it’s shareholders by any legal means necessary by the next fiscal quarter.

They have no moral, patriotic, social, environmental, generational or even sustainable responsibility. They have only a short-term economic mandate and their only responsibility to society is to stay within the law to accomplish it.

This doesn’t mean corporations shouldn’t exist or even that their directors are evil by their very DNA. It has been a legally acceptable basic flaw in the form of our capitalist system that allows corporations to operate without a moral compass or obligation to society — but that’s a discussion for another day.

The law is rarely a problem because the corporations’ legal obligations are pretty much designed first and foremost for their maximum profit by the legislation created by the legislators belonging to our two national political parties, both of which are wholly bought, sold and controlled by Wall Street. The banks and the corporations. In other words the game is rigged. Feel like a sucker? We all do because we all are.

The manipulation, aided by a very willing media also owned by the corporations, has made things easier beginning with what has become the amazing Orwellian staple of every newscast, selling the public on the lie that the Dow has somehow become America’s scoreboard!

We’re all hypnotized, rooting for them like they’re our home team at a football game, cheering for THEIR scoreboard mindlessly forgetting WE’RE THE AWAY TEAM!!

You think your congressman is working all day to get you a job? He may want to. He or she is probably not a bad person. They probably want to do the right thing. But they can’t. Long-time Capitol Hill staff and campaign strategists tell me the average legislator spends one-third of their time (or more) every day raising money or on activities related to raising money.

Yes, they are “elected” which creates the mass delusion of democracy to keep the masses from rioting, but congressional races are costing millions of dollars and some Senate seats are going for tens of millions each, and they’re predicting well over one billion dollars for the next presidency.

That’s some democracy we’ve created there, isn’t it?

Of the people?

By the people?

For the people?

What people?

Democracy in America is a sick joke and the masses aren’t laughing anymore.

Yes, we can demonstrate. We can march. We can write and sign petitions to our Representatives. We can occupy.

And we should because it’s healthy to vent, and we don’t feel so all alone. But the truth is, other than the value of venting, we’re wasting our time. It is naïve to expect political results from any of these activities.

Our representative can give us lip service. A lot of sympathy. Empathy even. But we don’t pay their media bills, gabeesh?

We need to eliminate all private finance from the electoral process.

And let’s not be distracted by “reforms.” Let’s spare ourselves the unnecessary discussions about transparent disclosure, or the conflict of interest of foreign countries buying favorable treatment, or protection after protection being gutted by dangerously diluted regulations, or trying to impose this limit or that limit, etc., etc., etc.

Campaign finance doesn’t need reform. It needs elimination.

To accomplish this we must overturn Buckley v. Valeo, one of the two or three worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court.

The ruling makes the extraordinary decision that money is protected by the First Amendment.

Presumably Chief Justice Gordon Gekko presiding!

These smartest guys in the room actually decided that spending money is the equivalent of free speech. You might wonder why no one in that smart room stood up and said wait a minute, if money is speech, isn’t lack of money lack of speech?

You know, as in the rich get to talk, and the poor don’t? How are the non-moneyed classes represented by this decision?

I guess nobody stood up then, but it’s time to stand up now.

In fact, I am now introducing a new pledge to be signed by our legislators. Of both parties. Indies too. Everybody’s welcome.

THE PLEDGE FOR A DEMOCRATIC AMERICA

(We’ll need someone more educated than me to draw it up, or we can copy Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, but it would go something like this.)

I, The Undersigned, pledge to overturn Buckley v. Valeo and eliminate all private finance from the electoral process, thusly restoring America to it’s democratic principles. I may take corporate, PAC, SuperPAC, or Chinese money to get elected or reelected (martyrdom accomplishes nothing), but upon my election I will make campaign finance elimination one of my immediate top priorities.

Now somebody should be starting a new Third Party whose platform is dedicated to this one idea. Twenty-five years ago that’s what I’d be doing right now.

But the need for a Third Party aside, this idea applies for everyone. Just as much for the Tea Party on the right as the 99 Percenters on the left (the corporate oligarchy actually has no Party affiliation, it just looks Republican).

Both groups should adopt this issue. The Occupiers need not agree on anything else, because frankly nothing else matters, and a bit more focus on the root of our problems for the Tea Party certainly wouldn’t hurt them either.

Let’s see who’s serious about representing the “people.”

And you know what?

We might be pleasantly surprised at how many congressmen and senators sign this thing who would rather be doing something more dignified with their lives than spending half their time begging for money.

The Vote Heard Round the World — The Video

9 Dec