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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Unpleasant Truths

The following essay really needs no introduction, simply because Chris Hedges rarely, if ever, requires an introduction. His writing, like that of Joe Bageant, is always on the side of reality and veracity. Brave New World author Aldous Huxley's biologist grandfather, Thomas H. Huxley, observed, "veracity is the heart of morality". Truth can only be hidden and denied for so long before time and truth seekers reveal its oft times ugly scars and aftermath, yet they search for the truth despite the consequences. Why? Because it's their moral imperative to do so. Read Mr. Hedges' latest. It's really powerful; astute, and full of so much unwelcome truth -- yet the truth it is.
By Chris Hedges

The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.

We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” to “1984.” The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled. 

Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse. 

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake,” Orwell wrote in “1984.”  “We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin uses the term “inverted totalitarianism” in his book “Democracy Incorporated” to describe our political system. It is a term that would make sense to Huxley. In inverted totalitarianism, the sophisticated technologies of corporate control, intimidation and mass manipulation, which far surpass those employed by previous totalitarian states, are effectively masked by the glitter, noise and abundance of a consumer society. Political participation and civil liberties are gradually surrendered. The corporation state, hiding behind the smokescreen of the public relations industry, the entertainment industry and the tawdry materialism of a consumer society, devours us from the inside out. It owes no allegiance to us or the nation. It feasts upon our carcass.
Read the entire article at Truthdig.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hail to the Corporatocracy!

Mr. Obama's "negotiation" made it very apparent whose side he's on -- and it "ain't" ours. A few years from now -- which could be as early as the next election cycle or as far off as...well, it really doesn't matter -- Social Security will be derided by pundits and opponents alike, as being in default (which they already do, but is a total lie) and in need of elimination. Any proponent seeking to shore up the program due to the 33% funding decrease, cumulative over the years, will be debased as being a tax hiker. Remember this year...this month, because this is the date Social Security took a fatal hit from its detractors. The bleeding starts in earnest now. The pronouncement of death is imminent.

Besides adding over $850 billion to the deficit over the next two years, the extended Bush era tax-cut package will include and divert $112 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund, with a reduction in the FICA tax under the pretense of providing economic stimulus and creating jobs. Horrific enough on its own, the new law also mandates that the government borrow $112 billion, much of it probably coming from China, to repay the Trust Fund. This sets a dangerous precedent that opens up Social Security to attacks from those seeking to dismantle or privatize it, and is not the type of investment that will create jobs or put people back to work. Hearkening back to an earlier time when a similar scenario was proposed and the American public was browbeaten by the obsolete idea of supply-side economics (trickle-down economics, or "Reaganomics"), it would appear that our president is firmly in charge of holding the hose as we're showered with the most up to date version, called "piss-on-omics".

Mr. Obama is a turncoat; he's a traitor to the American people. He's a Trojan Horse of extraordinary proportion. He's selling out We the People, and the vast majority of Democrats seemingly don't see this, or refuse to acknowledge it. The heretofore, behind-the-scenes, coup d'etat has taken on a new reality. It's coming out into the open and becoming more visible by the day. But one has to look in order to see, and right now America's citizens are truly diverted by the proverbial bread and circuses. Naomi Klein's "Chicago Boys" are in town (ironic...or is it?) and the push to privatize every social safety-net, and what remains of the commons, has accelerated.

The Bilderberg Group (and, who knows, the CIA?) must be extremely happy with their "plant-of-choice", don't you think? My goodness, he's on the verge of accomplishing in two short years what the conservative caucus has attempted to do in over sixty-five -- bring Social Security to its knees. Undoubtedly, case upon case of Dom Pérignon had been ordered and the corks must have been flying high! Final victory is at their threshold, and Mr. Obama, code name: "the socialist" -- the crown prince of their creation, was their guest of honor. Mr. Obama, the son of the oligopoly, the chieftain of the corporatocracy, reigns high and sits at the right-hand of his makers now. He's accomplished what Messrs. Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush couldn't do (but they certainly paved the way).

Just the threat of austerity programs brought tens-of-thousands of protesters into the streets of Greece, France, and Ireland. What's going to happen here, next year, when the threats become reality? When cuts in programs affect the lives of millions in this country, will we see the same reaction? Or will people even notice? 

The hammer is poised and ready to come down -- while the vast majority of Americans are right underneath. How long will it be before they see the shadow and turn to look up? Unfortunately, it'll be too late by then.

(The embedded video was recorded June 6, 2008 on Obama's chartered campaign plane. Apparently, the press-corps following the "presumptive nominee" was boarded and awaiting Mr. Obama's arrival. It's assumed, and I believe the assumption is correct, that Mr. Obama went from his campaign kick-off at Nissan Pavilion in Manassas, VA, directly to Dulles International Airport, and then after the press was securely locked away, diverted to where the Bilderberg Group was having their annual conference in Chantilly. Coincidence? I hardly think so.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Most Dangerous Man in the World?...Huh?

As I mentioned to a good friend a few days ago, Assange scares the living shit out of our gov-corp. I told her they'll track him down to the ends of the earth, and then wondered aloud why they couldn't do the same with Osama bin Laden. Well, as we know, Mr. Assange surrendered to London police last Tuesday as a response to a warrant issued as part of a Swedish sex-crimes investigation, trumped-up and surely as hollow as a dead oak tree. They've got him where they want him; in jail, without the provision of bail, and tied to a short leash. Mr. Assange is being held in solitary confinement in London with restricted access to a phone and only his lawyers. 

Amazingly, he is being vilified as someone who is a terrorist for releasing diplomatic cables to the world, and even more astonishingly, he has been accused of treason against America -- even though he is not an American. The U.S. government is investigating whether Mr. Assange can be prosecuted for spying against the U.S. government under the 1917 Espionage Act, or other offenses still being conceived and conjured up, and not surprisingly, to me anyway, several Republicans have even called for his death.  

But I wonder if those embarrassing cables were really what staged undoubtedly one of the largest manhunts in modern history? Or was it something else? (No, I'm not referring to the mockingly insane "having-sex-without-a-condom" sexual assault charge.) Was it something beyond even the previously released "Collateral Murder" video, which must have been so embarrassing to the Pentagon and was published by WikiLeaks earlier this year? Is it the yet-to-be "megaleak", promising to disclose unethical behavior at a major American bank? Early next year, Mr. Assange said, WikiLeaks plans to expose tens of thousands of documents that "could take down a bank or two" and promises to "give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms". So is the real barnburner -- the reason Mr. Assange is now considered by many to be the "most dangerous man in the world" (Mr. bin Laden, you've been upstaged), because WikiLeaks is now taking aim at corporate America? 

This is the process and underlying treachery indicative of totalitarian regimes, and obviously the tactics shared by government that bows and serves the elite, the wealthy, the corporatocracy. This isn't what Jefferson and Madison, Washington and Franklin, and countless others thought, or laid their lives and fortunes on-the-line for. All these men believed, and their signatures on either the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution prove it, that first and foremost the unparalleled freedom of a press (i.e., "unrestricted journalism") is paramount to the health and vibrancy of a functioning democracy. As Mr. t is outrageous for any journalist, or respecter of what every American president has claimed is our inalienable, God-given right to a free press, not to join in Assange’s defense." I agree, but I know our corporatist president thinks otherwise.

(In the below embedded video of an interview of Mr. Assange by Stephen Colbert last April, could Mr. Colbert's shenanigan about face pictulating and voice-altering technology be more prophetic? Enjoy.)  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Quo Warranto

The following essay ends by asking a fundamental question: Why not make the result worth the effort? Indeed, if equal effort is required to nibble around the edges of an issue, why not just go right to the root of the problem? If your body has been invaded by cancer, do you leave the malignant cells, if removable, and only treat the symptoms? Isn't treating or masking the symptoms only allowing the cancer to continue to grow...and isn't this tactic tantamount to giving up?

The first step in solving a problem is learning more about the problem, and how and why it became a problem. As I've commented countless times on other blogs, corporate personhood is the disease; the vast majority of our economic, social and cultural problems are only symptoms of that disease. It's due time that we concentrate on removing the malady that afflicts us all.

Why Abolish All Corporate Constitutional Rights (November 2010)

The Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD, www.poclad.org) has educated, advocated and organized for the past 15 years against the rights of corporations to govern. Through historical and legal research, writings, speaking, workshops and strategic discussions, we helped build widespread awareness of what we called "corporate personhood" - the corporate acquisition of constitutional rights intended solely for natural persons that have usurped the rights of We the People to govern ourselves. We worked on this issue before it was popular, fashionable or newsworthy.     

Corporations are creations of the state. As we documented in many resources over many years, they couldn't exist in any form without the legal sanctioning of government. Since citizens are the source of all legitimate power in any representative democracy, We the People have the power to define corporations any way we see fit. We the People have rights and authority. Originally, corporations only possessed privileges bestowed by the state.    

The appointed-for-life US Supreme Court "found" corporations in numerous places in the US Constitution over the past 124 years. These "findings" gave rights to corporations, including many of those in the Bill of Rights. In other words, illegitimate corporate power didn't begin in 2010. The corporate perversion of rights and the Constitution have resulted in the destruction of our communities, economy, politics and natural world in many ways for a very long time.    

POCLAD believes ALL corporate constitutional rights should be abolished. These include at least the following:    
  • 1st Amendment Free Speech rights. Corporations use these rights, meant to protect human beings from the power of the state, to influence elections through political "contributions" (more like "investments"); to advertise for guns, tobacco and other dangerous products over the objections of communities; to avoid having to label genetically modified foods.    
  • 4th Amendment Search and Seizure rights. Corporations have used these rights to avoid subpoenas for unlawful trade and price fixing, and to prevent citizens, communities and regulatory agencies from stopping corporate pollution and other assaults on people or the commons.    
  •  5th Amendment Takings, Double Jeopardy and Due Process corporate rights. Corporations must be compensated for property value lost (e.g. future profits) when regulations are established to protect homeowners or communities. Corporations cannot be retried after a judgment of acquittal in court. The granting of property to a corporation by a public official cannot be unilaterally revoked by a subsequent public official or Act of Congress.    
  • 14th Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection corporate rights. These rights, originally enacted to free slaves from oppression, were gradually extended to corporations by the courts. Corporations have used these rights to build chain stores and erect cell towers against the will of communities; oppose tax and other public policies favoring local businesses over multinational corporations; and resist democratic efforts to prevent corporate mergers and revoke corporate charters through citizen initiatives.    
  •  Commerce Clause-related corporate rights. Corporations have used this section of the Constitution (Art 1, Sec 8), for example, to ship toxic waste from one state to another over the "health, safety, and welfare" objections of communities - claiming the waste isn't actually "waste" but "commerce."    
  • Contracts Clause-related corporate rights. The Supreme Court ruled in Dartmouth vs. Woodward (1819) that a corporation is as a party in a private contract based on the Contracts Clause (Art 1, Sec 10) rather than being a creature of public law. Even though the state creates a corporation when it issues a charter, that state is not sovereign over the charter, merely a party to the contract. Thus, corporations became "private contracts" with the state and, therefore, shielded from many forms of control by We the People.    
Since the problem of corporate constitutional rights is multidimensional, the solution must be comprehensive.    

The threat to authentic democratic self-governance comes from the fact that corporations have been defined as legal persons. As we see it, corporations have exercised this illegitimate status in many ways. Addressing only one or two of those ways won't reverse the profound corporate threat to We the People having ultimate power to govern.    

One hundred and sixty years ago, those who believed the section of the Constitution (Art 4, Sec 2) defining people as property (slavery) was fundamentally immoral didn't call for ending one or two dimensions of slavery. They didn't organize to establish a Slavery Protection Agency, nor ask slaveholders to sign a voluntary code of conduct to treat slaves a little less harshly. They called for abolition of the institution of slavery.    

As a reflection of that thinking, POCLAD and others who hold that defining property as people ("corporate personhood") is fundamentally immoral and a threat to real people and the planet, believe that we should not limit our vision and actions. Let's set out to amend the constitution in a way that abolishes all rights wrongly granted to the corporate form during the last two centuries. Let's put an end to the institution of corporate personhood itself. Nothing less is worth the considerable time and learning, grit and energy required to amend the Constitution.    

Why not make the result worth the effort?    

By What Authority is a publication of the PROGRAM ON CORPORATIONS, LAW & DEMOCRACY, P.O. Box 246, South Yarmouth, MA 02664-0246  Phone: 508-398-1145

By What Authority (ISSN: 524-1106) is published by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy. The title is English for quo warranto; a legal phrase that questions illegitimate exercise of privilege and power. We the people and our federal and state officials have long been giving giant business corporations illegitimate authority. Today, a minority directing giant corporations and backed by police, courts, and the military, define our culture, govern our nation, and plunder the earth. By What Authority reflects an unabashed assertion of the right of the sovereign people to govern themselves.