Dude Reform

On February 3, 2010, in Background and Research, Corporations, The Public, by Tiffiniy Cheng

The US Chamber of Commerce wants to be thought of as our public guardian. But, we simply can’t trust them. They’re trying to pass off their Stop The CFPA campaign as a friendly one, complete with spooky music. I have been asking our facebook fans and twitter followers if bad press is good press in this case. I’m not sure. This campaign is BS marketing, or rather dude reform.

So, above is Mr. Luntz. His “secret” memo leaked the other day — he apparently is the mastermind behind getting Republicans and big corporate dudes to respect and publicly empathize with the pain out there. The way these dudes are talking about it is so disingenuous I hope people despise it when they hear about it.

The problem with political discourse, and that is what we all are engaged in every day even if we don’t know it, is that these statements are so extremely well marketed that our less-politically educated friends believe these statements as long as they are said – no facts need to be used, just some passion, just some quip. Yet, statements from the left are so steeped in facts and boring language, they don’t get lodged in our brains. Our hope is in education and a revived political class or maybe even party. We should each keep educating each other on how to construct a fact-based and merit-based understanding of any given issue. I trust my own ideas because I have done the research and seen who stands to benefit from top-down, trickle-down policies. The Tea Party movement, for example, as detailed in a New Yorker article may be against Wall Street but pointing at half-baked indicators: “A second-generation Chrysler dealer, whose lot had just been shut down, complained that the Harvard-educated experts on Wall Street and in Washington knew nothing about automobiles… The district’s congressional representative, Geoff Davis, brought up the proposed cap-and-trade legislation favored by Democrats, and called it an “economic colonization of the hardworking states that produce the energy, the food, and the manufactured goods of the heartland, to take that and pay for social programs in the large coastal states.”

Wall Streeters are Republicans and don’t like social programs. They want to end Medicare and Lloyd Blankfein said so himself — they lobby against the majority and ask you to help them. They’re greedy, selfish bastards that have taken your hard work in states all across America and turned it into debt they can keep shuffling around and big government helps them.

What do we need? Not bigger government, we need quality government that work to keep themselves out of the market and helping just the filthy rich, they need to keep the playing field leveled so that there is the freedom and possibility for us Americans to have and create the kinds of jobs and lives we want.

Some tidbits from the memo:

“You must acknowledge the need for reform that ensures this NEVER happens again.”

WORDS THAT WORK. If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the bad decisions and harmful policies by Washington bureaucrats that in many ways led to the economic crash must never be repeated.

When addressing the crisis, never forget its impact on your audience. Above all else, never EVER minimize the pain.

From Think Progress:

The most dishonest argument is that financial reform would “punish” taxpayers while rewarding “big banks and credit card companies.” In reality, top financial industry lobbyists are not only fighting proposed oversight regulations, but have said recently that they are opposed to “any regulation” at all.

Luntz, ever the publicity hound, leaks his memos out to the media to claim credit for the Republican charge against reforming Wall Street. While he is certainly a driving force behind much of the GOP misinformation, a closer look at his client list reveals that he is in fact being paid by the finance industry:

Hey dude, why would the CFPA be bad for the majority of Americans again? Now, back it up with some facts that answer the whole question and aren’t taken out of context. Well, at least let’s get our friends to do that.

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Supreme Court lifts the ruse

On January 21, 2010, in The Public, by Joe Costello
This Court now concludes that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance
of corruption.
That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt.
– US Supreme Court, Citizens United vs FEC

That might be the biggest punchline in the Court’s chock-full of laughs decision removing the already limited restraints on corporate control of the election process. Never has the First Amendment been brought so low in service of the few trampling on the rights of the many. But that’s what the Court’s for, isn’t it?
We’re going to hear much wailing from good government and campaign finance folks, but really, the Court did us all a favor. It removed the ruse. All you have to do is peruse Open Secrets for a few minutes to see how pervasive and powerful corporate money is in our political process. Or as Justice Stevens noted in his worth reading dissent:

So let us be clear: Neither Austin nor McConnell held or implied that corporations may be silenced; the FEC is not a “censor”; and in the years since these cases were decided, corporations have continued to play a major role in the national dialogue.

Over the course of the last century pretty much every effort to rein in corporate power has been a dismal failure. Today, political and economic power is concentrated in mega-corporations to an extent not reached even at the height of the Gilded Age. And one government institution, more than any other, has both created and protected corporate power, it is the Supreme Court. So, today’s decision certainly has much precedent.

This republic and the modern corporate structure were birthed in the same era, and at the very best conducted an uneasy relationship. At the dawn of the first Gilded Age, the great grandsons of America’s second president John Adams, Henry and Charles Adams would warn in their “Chapters of Erie”:

“And yet already our great corporations are fast emancipating themselves from the State, or rather subjecting the State to their own control, while individual capitalists, who long ago abandoned the attempt to compete with them, will next seek to control them. In this dangerous path of centralization Vanderbilt has taken the latest step in advance. He has combined the natural power of the individual with the factitious power of the corporation. The famous “L’Etat, c’est moi” of Louis XIV represents Vanderbilt’s position in regard to his railroads. Unconsciously he has introduced Caesarism into corporate life. He has, however, but pointed out the way which others will tread. The individual will hereafter be engrafted on the corporation, democracy running its course, and resulting in imperialism; and Vanderbilt is but the precursor of a class of men who will wield within the State a power created by the State, but too great for its control. He is the founder of a dynasty.”

In fits and phases over the course of the next 150 years, the republic has tried to address the questions of corporate power, never with much success. The main obstacle being the question of corporate power requires a fundamental grappling with the basic structures of power. Questions that have for the most part been strenuously avoided for over a century, that is, since the corporations gained enough power to stifle debate. The real underlying question of corporate power has to do with fundamental political physics. Power is like gravity, it attracts. Once you create a mass of power, such as a giant corporation, it automatically begins attracting all the power around it. The only way to stop it is by breaking it up.

This was understood a hundred years ago in the anti-trust debates and the thinking of such people as Louis Brandeis. It was wisdom of the old republic. Democracy, any self-government, is inherently decentralized. Yet this notion was lost and no more so with the New Deal, which made an assertion that the power of corporations could be measured with an equal and opposite governmental force. But anyone without blinders can see clearly in 2010, this approach has failed.

The Court’s decision allows us to have a more fundamental debate, one in which the power of our mega-corporations is put front and center. A debate that gets to fundamental issues of power across our society, and thus to the very question of what we call government. The US constitution was once a radical and visionary document on implementing self-government. After 200 years, it is now used to thwart those very ends.

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TOMORROW A BIG DECISION ON OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM.  Should corporate spending trump all?

This article in the LATimes lays out the issue very well and is certainly worth the read. The point is that corporations planned to expand their powers through the judicial system a while ago. They have been successful at pushing the idea that their campaign dollars are free speech. The end vision for them is that elections will be determined solely by money and they would by default win. I  have written here before on this issue -  money is not free speech because money is a unit of measurement in and of itself and free speech is an inalienable, indivisible right that is not quantifiable and shall not be quanitfiable. No one’s free speech is more valuable than another’s.

“Corporations are pitching a bizarre product — a radical vision of the 1st Amendment. It would give corporations rather than voters a centralrole in our electoral process by treating corporate political spending as protected speech. If this vision becomes reality, businesses and other big-money players will spend billions either hyping their preferred candidates or running attack ads against elected officials who don’t support their preferred agenda. Voters will be forced into a couch-potato role, mere viewers of the electoral spectacle bought and paid for by wealthy companies.”

Americans will have a lot of soul-searching to do when the Supreme Court makes their announcement, most likely tomorrow. You can join us in opposing this measure now, so that we can stand up for ourselves and our society and so that future generations can learn from those who stood up against bad decisions for society. Public Citizen is leading an effort against this upcoming decision (if the decision is for corporate spending). — Please sign up for Don’t Get Rolled”