Our country is no longer controlled by, and for, We the People, but instead by, and on behalf of, international banking and multinational corporate interests. While the gradual, almost imperceptible takeover of our government by this corporate fascism has been evolving by design for many decades, it is a coup d'etat nonetheless and has been disastrous for the vast majority of Americans. This blog is an exploration and discussion of how this occurred, and the damage it has done to our democratic processes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Buy an Office? Legal. Sell an Office? Go to Prison.

Donna Smith presents some compelling questions in her article, Two-Faced Corporate Personhood: Elected and Convicted, as to why it's a criminal offense -- a felony -- to sell a political office, yet it's perfectly okay, as sanctioned by the Supreme Court of the United States, to buy one. Read the link here and let me know what you think. 

Also, here's an episode of The Colbert Report dealing with the question of corporate personhood. Although almost a year old, it's as fresh and timely as if it were filmed yesterday. Enjoy Stephen Colbert and The Word...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Free Speech -- Ain't It Great?!

It's really starting to rear its ugly head, folks. Beyond Target's recent $150,000 political donation to a business group backing a conservative Republican for Minnesota governor, News Corp., parent company of Fox News, provided $1 million to defeat Democratic governors in November. There's something about the smell of money when it comes in contact with our democratic political process, isn't there? It stinks!

Last January's Supreme Court decision, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that corporations can spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress is just starting to take hold. This is certainly the tip of the iceberg. As the president indicated soon after that "Dred-ful" decision, "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." It seems the unintended consequences of this anonymous "527" organization, purposely created to torpedo Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential primaries, will leave an even more devastating aftermath than its founders anticipated.

Anyway, watch and enjoy Jon Stewart's humorous rendition of "money channeling"...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

There Are Still Prophets

Joe Bageant knows a lot about America's problems. He also understands America's working class because he's a member. Well, he probably doesn't do too much work, anymore, usually associated with working class folks, but he sure did at one time. He's a writer now. A really good one. I read his latest book, Deer Hunting with Jesus - Dispatches from America's Class War, and it was one of the most influential pieces of truth I've read in a long time. Mr. Bageant's insight, coupled with a biting humor that's unquestionably right-on, left me wanting more. I read his blog regularly and am a loyal disciple, for he is a prophet of our time -- truly. I look forward to reading his next book, due out this fall. The following is his latest article. If you've never seen things through the hologram as he describes them, maybe you haven't been paying attention. Maybe it's time. 

from joebageant.com 
Understanding America's Class System
by Joe Bageant

How about them political elites, huh? Five million bucks for Chelsea Clinton's wedding, 15K just to rent the air-conditioned shitters -- huge chrome and glass babies with hot water and everything. No gas masks and waxy little squares of toilet paper for those guys.

Yes, it looks big time from the cheap seats. But the truth is that when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune. Washington's political class is about as upwardly removed from ordinary citizens as the ruling class is from the political class. For instance, they do not work for a living in the normal sense of a job, but rather obtain their income from abstractions such as investment and law, neither of which ever gave anybody a hernia or carpal tunnel. By comparison, the ruling class does not work at all.

Moneywise, Washington's political class is richer than the working class by the same orders of magnitude as the ruling class is richer than the political class. This gives the political class something to aim for. To that end, they have adopted the ruling elite's behaviors, tastes and lifestyles, with an eye on becoming members. Moreover, it is a molting process that begins with the right university and connections, and culminates in flying off to Washington with the rest of your generation's most privileged and ambitious young moths. (Read the rest by clicking here.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

We're Hiring!

As former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich contends, our government's only real policy to counter a rising unemployment rate is to create job openings in the military. Yes, the military is our biggest jobs program within the Obama administration. Nice, huh? I can't think of a better way to feed the corpo-militarist addiction to on-going war and unending profits. 

Read what Professor Reich thinks about our ballooning DoD budget, and when including Homeland Security, intelligence, and other quasi-military functions, comes to about $950 billion for the next fiscal year. Tell me, how come the Teabaggers never piss-and-moan about this -- the largest contributor to our deficit each and every year?

From robertreich.org
America's Biggest Jobs Program -- the U.S. Military
by Robert Reich

America’s biggest — and only major — jobs program is the U.S. military.

Over 1,400,000 Americans are now on active duty; another 833,000 are in the reserves, many full time. Another 1,600,000 Americans work in companies that supply the military with everything from weapons to utensils. (I’m not even including all the foreign contractors employing non-US citizens.)

If we didn’t have this giant military jobs program, the U.S. unemployment rate would be over 11.5 percent today instead of 9.5 percent.

And without our military jobs program personal incomes would be dropping faster. The Commerce Department reported Monday the only major metro areas where both net earnings and personal incomes rose last year were San Antonio, Texas, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — because all three have high concentrations of military and federal jobs.

This isn’t an argument for more military spending. Just the opposite. Having a giant undercover military jobs program is an insane way to keep Americans employed. It creates jobs we don’t need but we keep anyway because there’s no honest alternative. We don’t have an overt jobs program based on what’s really needed. (Read the rest by clicking here.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses...Not!

"The rich weren't just getting richer; they were becoming financial foreigners, creating their own country within a country, their own society within a society, and their economy within an economy. They were creating Richistan." -- From Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich, by Robert Frank
Robert Frank publishes the Wealth Report, a daily blog that focuses on the lives of the wealthy in this nation -- particularly within their cultural and economic spheres. In a recent article he asks a very meaningful and appropriate question: Do the rich need the rest of America? This made me start thinking, I mean really focusing on what he meant by that. In a 1963 speech, President John F. Kennedy said "a rising tide lifts all boats" to counter criticism about a dam project he was dedicating when opponents suggested it was a pork barrel project. The essence of the statement was, and still is, that economic growth, which raises the GDP of the entire economy, will also raise the incomes of all of the individuals within the economy. But Frank contends that last year was a true watershed, or turning point, for this nation. In his own words, "...last year, the U.S. economy experienced a surprising decoupling." The elite...the rich...corporate America decided it no longer needed you and me.

With sovereign boundaries no longer a hindrance to global expansion and the flow of capital unhindered within most of the industrialized world, the rich and elite take advantage of cheap overseas labor and set-up factories outside the United States that produce products for emerging markets around the world. Under today's rules of globalization, when our government lavishes generous tax cuts upon the wealthy, these investors don't plow their tax savings into factories and other capital infrastructure in our country -- to benefit our workers -- but instead build plants and manufacturing operations in third-world nations in order to take advantage of below subsistence labor rates. Unlike in bygone years, these tax reductions don't -- repeat, do not, get recycled and benefit American workers through job creation. With China and India both on the verge of developing huge appetites for consumables due to their increasingly larger middle-class and urban working-class populations, it seems the currently largest consumer market in the country, the United States, is being scrutinized and leveraged for whatever it has left to offer.

Essentially, the only manufacturing we have left in this country revolves around the making of weapons-of-destruction, which in order to be profitable and marketable (to be "consumable") requires the ongoing creation of wars and conflicts. War is profitable, make no mistake about it. No, not for us, the taxpayer bearing the burden of paying for them, but certainly for the banking cartel and other multinational corporations that thrive the most during these periods. This is one reason the rich get richer, and you and I get poorer.

It seems even the military edge is no longer a trump card for economic expansion. During the last sixty years, in return for receiving a disproportionate amount of the gains from economic growth in our capitalist system, the rich paid a disproportionate percentage of the taxes needed for public goods and a safety net for the majority. Needing both consumers to buy their goods, and people to serve in the armed forces, that unsaid contract created a somewhat "symbiotic relationship" between the elite and the masses. But things have rapidly changed. Not only is the consumer market not as profitable, or needed, but the outsourcing of military-might -- the privatization of the military -- is becoming more of a potential threat. The rich, no longer bound by natural or financial borders, have segregated themselves from the rest of America in ways I've never considered.  

As Michael Lind writes in a article from Salon, maybe we're entering an era where Americans will emigrate to other shores in order to find a better life. Maybe it's our turn to be the undesired immigrant. To read more about this, click here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What Collapsing Empire Looks Like

From Salon
by Glenn Greenwald

As we enter our ninth year of the War in Afghanistan with an escalated force, and continue to occupy Iraq indefinitely, and feed an endlessly growing Surveillance State, reports are emerging of the Deficit Commission hard at work planning how to cut Social Security, Medicare, and now even to freeze military pay.  But a new New York Times article today illustrates as vividly as anything else what a collapsing empire looks like, as it profiles just a few of the budget cuts which cities around the country are being forced to make.  This is a sampling of what one finds:
Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further -- it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation.
Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.
Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.
There are some lovely photos accompanying the article, including one showing what a darkened street in Colorado looks like as a result of not being able to afford street lights.  Read the article to revel in the details of this widespread misery.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Quid Pro Quo

A big thank you to Bly for lending me her DVD of Orwell Rolls in His Grave. Of course I can't lend her video to all of you, so I found the full version at Google Films that you can view right here. It asks the compelling question: "Could a media system, controlled by a few global corporations with the ability to overwhelm all competing voices, be able to turn lies into truth?" In a country where the top one-percent control ninety-percent of the wealth, the film argues that the media system is nothing but a subsidiary of corporate America. This documentary is compulsive viewing for those who want to know exactly why things are the way they are, never improve -- only disintegrate more, and why our "elected" officials never seem to care about us, but only the elite and the money they represent. From Ron Kaufman's review from turnoffyourtv.com, " ...with quotes and phrases from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, this film takes issues that many people may already suspect to be true and presents it with sound and video. The movie is a good presentation of how American society has turned into an oligarchy of frightening proportions. In some sense, Orwell Rolls In His Grave is a pretty depressing film. To think that the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent of the country is in control of the largest corporations, the executive and judicial branches of government and the mass media is something that challenges our notions of freedom and democracy.

As we sink deeper and deeper into the abyss of corporate fascism by continuing to elect and re-elect (and in cases, "un-elect") corporatist politicians who always play to our emotions and never speak the truth, and while the top one-percent -- the elite and their interests -- has two political parties representing them while the remaining ninety-nine percent -- everyone else -- has nobody, keep this is mind: The democracy you think we have, that you were taught about since you were a child in school, is a sham and a mirage and a deceitful lie. But it doesn't have to be this way. You have the power to influence, certainly on a very small scale, but you have the power nonetheless. Commit yourself to learning more, understanding more, and influencing those you know and love. Above all, be skeptical and questioning of everything you hear and see from the major media outlets. Remember, they don't care about educating you to operate in a democracy; they only care about increasing their wealth and that of those they represent, and that means keeping you uninformed -- and misinformed -- about what's really going on.

Watch this...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Anchor Babies & Corporate Personhood

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution -- specifically Section 1 which grants automatic citizenship to anyone born in the United States -- has been a hot topic of discussion for the Republicans this week. It seems a few from the minority party, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, would like to hold hearings in Congress to discuss the 14th Amendment's legitimacy and relevancy, and to, I assume, remove this provision. According to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), as reported by station KSAT  in San Antonio, "It should not apply to 'foreigners' and so it is being totally misinterpreted today." Smith is co-sponsoring the effort to change the way the 14th Amendment is interpreted. They want to do away with "anchor babies", those bundles of joy born on U.S. soil and entitled to full American citizenship. When I initially heard this, and started surfing around the web to find more about it, I was ecstatic! Here's why!

This might be the lure that could eventually bring the light of day to the idea behind "corporate personhood"! Unknowingly...I'm sure...the Republicans will also have to face the scrutiny and questions about personhood as it applies to artificial and non-human entities -- not just the citizenship of "anchor babies". Why, you may ask? Because the whole corporate-dominated paradigm we're living within today, the total framework which allows corporations to have the same rights under the Constitution -- as you, and I, as human persons -- lies within the same section of the 14th Amendment of which they want to deem as invalid. The expansive view of the 14th Amendment, since Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886, has allowed the proliferation of all sorts of "foreigners", as noted by Rep. Smith, to qualify for legal citizenship -- corporations included! 

Do you think the Republicans, or even the Democrats, are going to amend or repeal the 14th and sacrifice their most coveted benefactors? Neither do I. But if they should dare open Pandora's Box, let's insist they insert the word "natural" in between the first and second words of Section 1. That should be all that's needed to break the back of the corporacracy we've been subjected to for almost 125 years.

Amendment XIV
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Corporate Campaign Cash Surges in Post Citizens United World

It's starting. The corporate coffers are opening wide to spend unheard of amounts so Republican candidates can defeat their Democratic counterparts in this fall's midterm elections. This is just a preview of what's going to be spent in 2012, assuming the economy hasn't collapsed by then and we're still a "republic". (Had to throw a little humor in, for those who've already concluded our democratic republic died a long time ago.) 

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm by no means a supporter or advocate for the current ruling party, but it's apparent to me we're just going to go from bad-to-worse if the Republican candidates make inroads in our Congress and Senate this fall. Although, as I've already alluded, there are few members of our legislative branch who are not bought-and-sold by "special interests" (i.e., corporate interests), at least the Democratic Party isn't so in-your-face about it. At least with the Dems there's still a little foreplay involved. With the G.O.P., you get a real screwing without the niceties of touchy-feely and faux caring. Please understand, both parties are going to take from you -- but the Republicans will be more pronounced; Democrats will be more subtle, more wooing.

Like it or not, believe it or deny it, corporatism rules the majority of our governments -- federal, state, or local. It has encroached upon our very way of life, without hardly a whimper or objection. It's become so ingrained in our way of thinking, the way we view and interpret our world, that we look upon it as normal or expected. Watch what happens in the coming months, and extrapolate those corporate dollars, let's say, one hundred-fold (too low?) for the 2012 election cycle. Needless to say, our measly little contributions will be out-shouted by the millions spend by "artificial persons". Don't believe me? Read this.