Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Beck Spreads Myths About Food Safety Bill

Beck Spreads Myths About Food Safety Bill

Glenn Beck distorted a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate to claim that food-safety legislation would mean "higher taxes for you," baselessly claimed the bill would drive up food costs, and underplayed concerns about food safety. Beck demonized the legislation as a George Soros-backed effort to "control you."
Beck distorts CBO report to claim legislation means "higher taxes for you"

Beck: Food Safety Modernization Act "will mean higher taxes for you." During the November 29 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck claimed that the Food Safety Modernization Act is "going to mean higher taxes for you as well. Congressional Budget Office estimates between $1.4 billion and up, between 2011 and 2015." Beck said the bill represented a George Soros-backed effort to "control your food" and "control you." [Glenn Beck, 11/29/10]

FACT: CBO said the bill would "increase spending subject to appropriation" -- not taxes. In its cost estimate of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the CBO wrote, "CBO estimates that implementing the bill with the manager's amendment would increase spending subject to appropriation, on net, by about $1.4 billion over the 2011-2015 period, assuming annual appropriation action consistent with the bill." [Congressional Budget Office, 8/12/10]

FACT: CBO said the bill would authorize collection of fees from food manufacturers -- not "higher taxes for you." In its cost estimate, CBO reported:

S. 510 would amend and modify the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to authorize the FDA to collect fees to help defray some of the FDA's costs of performing food safety activities. The bill would create new fee programs including: a facility reinspection and recall fee program for mandatory recalls, an importer fee program for voluntary qualified entities, and a fee program to support accreditation of third-party auditors.

The legislation also would authorize the FDA to collect fees for food (including animal feed) export certificates under the current export certification program. Fees are currently collected for drugs and devices that are issued export certifications.

Fees authorized by the bill would be collected and made available for obligation only to the extent and in the amounts provided in advance in appropriation acts. As a result, those collections would be credited as an offset to discretionary spending.[Congressional Budget Office, 8/12/10]

Beck baselessly claims bill will result in higher grocery prices

Beck: The cost to "you at the grocery story" is "expected to be hundreds of millions of dollars every year." From the November 29 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Cost to the private sector -- you know, you at the grocery store? Now, they haven't calculated that yet, but it is expected to be hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

FACT: Michigan State University professor says bill "isn't likely to make a huge dent" in food prices. As Media Matters documented, Craig Harris of the Food Safety Policy Center at Michigan State University reportedly said that the bill is unlikely to raise consumers' food costs..
Beck is a fine example of the totalitarian propagandist thinking that dominates conservatism. They can't win an argument without lying, so lying it is. The food safety bill passed and we're all better off for it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Obama is The Worse Socialist Ever

Most conservatives in between cashing their subsidy checks and collecting government health care benefits like to blab endlessly about how Democrats are turning the country into a socialist utopia. Socialism has been defined as "Socialism is an economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources." According to recent economic reports Obama and Democrats are thus either the worse socialists ever or Republicans are the same old lying scumbags they have always been - Corporations Post Record Profits As Republicans Call For Eliminating The ‘Insidious’ Corporate Income Tax

Conservatives’ attempts to portray corporations as victims in this economy is dubious for two reasons. First, despite right-wing misinformation, American corporations actually already pay far less in taxes than those in other industrialized nations:

In fact, because of tax havens and other loopholes, many mega-corporations actually pay little to no taxes. The most recent high-profile example is Google, which has used income shifting and other tactics to reduce its effective tax rate to 2.4 percent. General Electric went a step even further. The company not only avoided all corporate income taxes last year, but actually recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion.

Secondly, despite the myths that corporate taxes are “strangling” business, and that President Obama is “anti-business,” a report released today from the Commerce Department shows that American companies actually brought in record profits during the last quarter. With an annual profit rate of $1.66 trillion, the third quarter of this year produced “the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago.”

Still record profits are likely not enough to convince conservatives that corporations have it just fine in the U.S.. Even apologizing to mega-corporations that just dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico isn’t enough. Right-wingers like Gohmert and Ryan will not be satisfied until we give tax-free status to all corporations.
Republicans are lying about the healthy profits of corporate America and Obama because they lack integrity - that is a given - but also because since they have no ideas and proved they cannot govern ( remember the anemic job growth of 2000 to 2008) they must rule by fear. Even more pathetic is they have to manufacture the lies to create the fear. What America should fear is the truth about the contempt with which Republican hold Democracy and a modern regulated capitalism that works instead of crashes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Best Conservative Hack Pundits

The Best Conservative Hack Pundits

George Will is a sanctimonious moralist, a pretentious hypocrite, a congenital liar and a boring pundit, to boot. In these days of red-faced screaming weirdos like Glenn Beck and obvious dolts like Sean Hannity, Will can seem like a harmless throwback to a calmer era in political discourse, but don't let his demeanor fool you: The guy's as utterly amoral as the loudest talk radio shouter, and he's a living example of the truth that there's never any punishment for bad behavior in punditland.

Ever since he stole Jimmy Carter's briefing book, used it to coach Ronald Reagan before a debate, and then appeared on ABC to pronounce Reagan the winner of the debate, Will's been a consummate hack.

He expressed his revulsion at those hick Clintons: "Having vulgarians like the Clintons conspicuous in government must further coarsen American life." Meanwhile he stepped out on his wife back in the '80s, and she responded by throwing all his stuff on the lawn with a note reading, "Take it somewhere else, buster."

He gets away with a lot because he's smart enough to know that occasionally going off the reservation and criticizing the party only makes your position stronger (as long as you're in no danger of being thrown out of the movement entirely, as someone without Will's rich history of service might be). So he criticizes Bush on Iraq and trashes Palin. He also lies about climate change, just because lying about it is what Republicans are supposed to do, and instead of removing Will from their stable of columnists -- or even correcting his columns -- the Washington Post just publishes other columns pointing out that Will lied, thus presenting the reader with "both sides" of the issue.

And his baseball writing is so bad as to defy parody.

Repeat offenses: Dishonesty, feints toward "reasonableness" while remaining doctrinaire Republican, repetition, hypocrisy.

John Fund

That generally sober and good newspaper has had a decidedly silly opinion page for so long that no one really bothers to question it anymore. Perhaps the corporate titans who rely on the Journal's in-depth reportage really need the soothing balm of comfortable lies after pages of hard truths about their soulless work. But regardless of why, the Wall Street Journal editorial page is designed to present a fantasyland in which the rich are always right, and always beset on all sides by the greedy masses and confiscatory Uncle Sam. John Fund, ghostwriter of Rush Limbaugh's "The Way Things Ought to Be," was an editor at that opinion page for years, and has been a columnist there ever since.

His modus operandi is wholly unremarkable. Fund just picks the latest stupid Republican outrage (voter fraud! Black Panthers! ACORN!) and dutifully lies about it, using predictable talking points and the requisite Monday Meeting spin.

Repeat offenses: Constant shameless lying.
There are more at the head link. Amazing these pathetic serial liars, hypocrites and professional propagandists shape not just public opinion, but the general drift of what people talk about. Facts and morals are generally strangled all for the sake of the conservative movement.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glenn Beck Promotes Socialism to West Point Cadets

Glenn Beck Promotes Socialism to West Point Cadets

On his show last Friday, Glenn Beck did something quite unusual for a guy who makes his living scaring people into thinking that America is on the road to communism -- he promoted an idea straight out of the Paris Commune of 1871, an idea considered by the Commune to be a necessary stepping stone in the transition from capitalism to socialism to communism. And, to make it even more special, Beck did this before a studio audience of West Point cadets and faculty members.

Now, the fact that West Point allowed a group of uniformed academy cadets and faculty to be used as props by Beck is a serious matter in itself, and I'll get to that in a minute, but Beck, in his zeal to slam Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, unknowingly promoting a core step towards socialism is just way too ironic to pass up. And what is this step towards socialism that Beck, in all his ignorance, was so enthusiastically promoting? That government employees and officials should never be paid more than what the average citizen earns.

In a 1911 speech about the Paris Commune -- a movement lauded by Marx as "heroic," and said by Lenin to have been "a practical step that was more important than hundreds of programmes and arguments" --Lenin pointed out the Commune's (and apparently now Glenn Beck's) position on government salaries: "And, as if to emphasize its character as a truly democratic, proletarian government, the Commune decreed that the salaries of all administrative and government officials, irrespective of rank, should not exceed the normal wages of a worker ..." I think maybe that crack research team (or research team on crack) that Beck is always boasting about should have done a bit more research for this show.

Now, back to the other issue with this episode of Beck -- the utter impropriety of West Point allowing Beck to use West Point cadets and faculty members for his studio audience.

According to CPT Olivia Nunn of West Point's Public Affairs office, the cadets and faculty members, all from the academy's Systems Engineering Department, were visiting the studios of FOX News as an academic exercise "to watch how news productions are done from beginning to end." The cadets appeared on several other FOX News shows on Thursday, answering questions about why they decided to join the military and their experience at West Point, and the faculty members answered questions about teaching there. All of this was perfectly appropriate. But then, on Friday, they appeared on Beck, which was completely inappropriate. Military personnel in uniform cannot engage in any activity that gives the appearance of supporting any political, religious, or ideological movement.

There is no question that, more than anything else, what Glenn Beck's show consistently promotes would be classified as an "ideological movement," fitting the dictionary definition of "ideology" to a tee: "a system of ideas and ideals, esp. one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy." Whatever the specific topic of any given Beck episode -- whether it's history, religion, politics, or just picking someone to bash for weeks on end -- all are clearly tied into the promotion of this ideology in one way or another. How can a studio audience full of uniformed West Point cadets and military officer faculty members clapping for Beck's overtly partisan rant against Congress not be seen as engaging in an activity that gives the appearance of military support for Beck's "ideological movement?"

As I wrote in a previous post about the problem of Glenn Beck's show being aired on the American Forces Network, and the complaints received by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) about televisions in PXs, gyms, and other facilities on military installations being regularly tuned in to Beck, Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) -- "Contempt toward officials" -- states: "Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

But on Beck's show last Friday, during which Beck spewed his typical contempt towards members of Congress, we had eighteen future Army officers, under the guidance of five faculty members -- four majors and a lieutenant colonel -- clapping on national television for statements that they, as military officers, could be court-martialed for uttering themselves.

As seen in the video above, in addition to being contemptuous towards Congress as a whole, Beck, of course, singled out Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in his rant about members of Congress whose wealth has increased during the time they've been in Congress, even though, according to Roll Call's 50 Richest Members of Congress list, Pelosi is only at number 13. But the wealthiest member of the House of Representatives is a republican -- Darrell Issa of California, whose minimum net worth for 2009, according to Roll Call, was more than seven times the net worth of Pelosi. And Harry Reid? Well, he didn't even make the top 50. But these pesky facts didn't stop Beck from insinuating that there's something suspicious about Pelosi and Reid having money. Exactly what Beck is implying isn't clear, but his intent certainly is -- plant the notion in his audience's heads that Pelosi and Reid have somehow gotten rich as a result of serving in Congress.
Beck and his philosophy are straight out of Marx and Stalin in many ways. Instead of a government collective, beck would have everyone work as obedient and grateful pawns for the corporate collective. The corporations write legislation, tell the lowly peon workers what to do and how to live their lives, have the wage earners right to sue for damages taken away. Marx would be proud that a guy who claims to be against collectivism is doing such a good job of selling it. beck is not only selling collectivism is good at convincing people that corporate collectivism and a powerless nation of workers is patriotic.

Friday, November 19, 2010

David Dreier (R-CA) Flip Flops on Repealing Health Care Reform

Ignoring Petition He Signed, Rep. Dreier Claims GOPers Have ‘Said All Along’ They’ll Keep Parts Of Health Care

Thanks to a coordinated propaganda campaign to smear President Obama’s health care law with misinformation, Republicans have found support on the right for their effort to repeal the law. But while Americans are divided on the law as a whole, “most parts of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, are actually quite popular and any attempt to repeal them could very well turn public sentiment against the repeal advocates.” These include items like tax credits for small business to offer health care coverage (supported by 78 percent of Americans) and a provision stopping insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions (supported by 71 percent).

Asked about these popular provisions yesterday on NPR, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) — who will play a key role in the new GOP-controlled Congress next year as the likely chairman of the Rules Committee — said that the Republicans have “said all along” that they want to keep those parts:

INSKEEP: So given that the law is there, I mean, what do you do with it? What do you do with portions of the law that may seem beneficial to people that are probably Republicans.

DREIER: We have said all along that we want to make sure that provisions there that are in fact beneficial in ensuring that people have access, without a huge expansion of government, we don’t want to repeal. We want to make sure that we have these very very market driven provisions that I just went through and have those put in place.

This is, of course, flat out untrue. In fact, Republicans have been saying “all along” that they want to repeal the entirety of the law. This was one of the key drivers behind the tea party movement and the Republican campaigns they supported this fall. Congressional Republican leaders like future House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have vowed to “repeal and replace” the law with more right-wing reforms. Meanwhile, more extreme lawmakers led by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) have called for repealing the law “lock, stock, and barrel,” irrespective of replacement.
Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) has Obamacare of sorts himself. He is enrolled in a government subsidized health insurance program. Last year it was found that 55 Republicans in Congress were enrolled ina government health insurance program known as Medicare.

Family group demands Florida’s governor-elect stop selling porn

Family group demands Floridas governor elect stop selling porn

A conservative Christian group wants Florida's Republican governor-elect to stop selling "pornography" to Latinos.

The Christian Family Coalition (CFC) is calling for Rick Scott to divest in the website QuePasa which has a partnership with Playboy Mexico. Scott reportedly owns shares of QuePasa worth about $6-8 million -- nearly 15 percent of the company
Odd this "family" group did not object to the fact that Conservative Republican Rick Scott is a criminal who ripped off tax payers for tens of millions when he was running for office.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Republicans Love Subsidized Health Care for Themselves

Rep. Crowley Says GOPers Who Want To Repeal Health Care Law Should Forgo Taxpayer-Funded Health Care

Earlier this week, Rep.-elect Andy Harris (R-MD), who ran on a platform of repealing the recently-passed health care law, ironically demanded access to his taxpayer-subsidized congressional health care plan upon arriving in Washington. Yesterday, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) began circulating a letter among his Democratic colleagues calling on Harris and other members of Congress who want to repeal the new health care law to forego their own government health care plans. In a letter to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Crowley writes, “If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk“:

“If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk,” Crowley writes in a letter to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“You cannot enroll in the very kind of coverage that you want for yourselves, and then turn around and deny it to Americans who don’t happen to be Members of Congress. We also want to note that in 2011, the Federal government will pay $10,503.48 of the premiums for each member of Congress with a family policy under the commonly selected Blue Cross standard plan.”

Conservative members of Congress receiving taxpayer-subsidized health care benefits while opposing the same benefits for the general public is nothing new. During the height of the health care debate, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) identified 55 Republicans who were enrolled in Medicare, the country’s single-payer universal health care system for the elderly. Not one of those Republicans supported offering such a plan to everyday Americans.

Yet at least one Republican has taken up Crowley’s challenge. Rep.-elect Bobby Shilling (R-IL) told ABC’s Top Line today that he will not be taking part in the congressional health care plan, nor will he take part in many other benefits members of Congress receive, like the congressional pension plan. “Congress shouldn’t have anything better than the American people,” he said.
It is part and parcel of the Conservative personality to thank they are entitled to everything, but goodness forbid someone else should get a penny Republicans in their self-righteous wisdom, feel they don't deserve.

What liberal media? Fox's Obama "socialism" smear comes straight from the top. By no known definition is President Obama a socialist. Which says a great deal about the fairness and intelligence of Fox "News?"

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jonah Goldberg Says Liberals Are Fascists, But Fascists Always Flock To The Repulican Party

Neo-Nazis rally in Phoenix to support Arizona’s immigration law

Neo Nazis rally in Phoenix to support Arizonas immigration lawMembers of the National Socialist Movement clashed with counter-protesters Saturday afternoon during their march in support of Arizona's controversial immigration law.

About two dozen neo-Nazis were confronted by more than a hundred people who opposed the group as they approached the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Court Building in Phoenix, Arizona.

The neo-Nazis were marching to protest US District Judge Susan Bolton's ruling that blocked key provisions of the anti-illegal immigration bill SB 1070.

Bolton's ruling blocked sections of the bill that allowed police to arrest and detain suspected illegal immigrants without a warrant and required non-citizens to carry federal immigration documents.

During the march, police in riot gear intervened with tear gas and pepper spray when angry counter-protesters surrounded the neo-Nazi group and attempted to block their march to the federal courthouse.

"Their job is to keep the peace and allow that demonstration group to exercise their constitutional right," former Phoenix police officer Andy Hill told FOX10. "If one side or another wants to cause a problem, wants to be violent, there's not much you can do until they do something."

Two people were arrested for throwing rocks at police officers and protesters. Some minor injuries were reported.

"You don't have to like us but you can't throw things," said march organizer JT Ready.

That neo-Nazis support the immigration bill should not be surprising, according to the liberal blog Think Progress.

In 2006, the author of the anti-illegal immigration law, state Senator Russell Pearce, forwarded an article by a neo-Nazi group to his friends and associates. Pearce apologized for the email, saying it was a mistake and that he did not read it.

In addition, Pearce(R) endorsed Ready(R), the organizer of the neo-Nazi march, when he ran for City Council in the spring of 2006. In June of 2007, the two worked alongside one another at an anti-immigration rally at the state Capitol.

"The lawyers who are credited with authoring it are employed by an organization that has reportedly accepted $1.2 million in donations from the Pioneer Fund, 'a foundation established to promote the genes of white colonials,'" Andrea Nill of Think Progress notes

Right-wing hack Jonah Goldberg, who wouldn't know an historical fact if it bite on the ass, claimed that liberalism is a product of fascism ( even though liberalism was founded by people like Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine). In modern movement conservatism the extreme Right always takes up residence with conservatism.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tea Party Defends Polluters Rights to Give Women and Children Cancer

Tea Party Defends Polluters Rights to Give Women and Children Cancer

An attempt by a Kentucky water district to raise rates in order to meet clean water regulations has become political, with a local Tea Party organization stepping in and arguing that the county should simply ignore federal rules.

The Northern Kentucky Water District is seeking a 25 percent rate increase by January 2012, and according to The Kentucky Enquirer, a major reason for the raise is to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulations that are meant to prevent bladder cancer by "requiring that water utilities nationwide improve their treatment of drinking water to eliminate byproducts left over after chemical disinfection."

"The standard that we have to meet as to whether our water is safe or not is based upon the regulations that are set under the Safe Drinking Water Act and that are administered through the (Kentucky) Division of Water," said Northern Kentucky Water President and CEO Ron Lovan during a hearing last month. "Is our water safe? Yes, we feel it's safe based upon the current regulations. ... That's the standard that we've got to meet."

The EPA, however, is the arch-nemesis of many conservatives, who believe that it overreaches and imposes unnecessary regulations on states, localities and businesses.

But according to Lovan, if the local water district refuses to comply, it could face up to $25,000 per day in fines, the leadership could go to prison and the state Division of Water could possibly step in and take over. He added that the EPA regulations have been in the works since the 1990s and had significant public input.

"It's been years in the making, it was a very public process that they (EPA officials) took a lot of input from a lot of interest groups all around the country," said Lovan. "Whether the Tea Party folks believe that or not, it was a very open, public process before we got to the point where we are today."

During a hearing on the issue last month, Duane Skavdahl, an attorney representing the Tea Party group, lamented that "nobody will take on the EPA."

A Campbell County fiscal court judge recently told the Tea Party that if it was really concerned about the agency, it needed to take it up on the federal level. "What you're going to have to realize is that a federal mandate is the reason that we're involved in this conversation, and you're going to have to be talking to the federal people, and hopefully in a little bit different tone of voice and with different expectations than the way you're laying it out to us," said Judge Steve Pendery.

The Northern Kentucky Water District estimates that 80 percent of the $88 million increase is attributable to the new Safe Drinking Water Act regulations, but Northern Kentucky Tea Party member Garth Kuhnhein, who is a mining engineer, suspects that federal regulators were off on their cost projections.

According to the EPA, the regulations are intended to reduce not only bladder cancer, but also colon cancer, rectal cancer, and health risks to pregnant women and their fetuses. The Northern Kentucky Tea Party did not return a request for comment.
The teatards continue the conservative tradition of ignorant elitism. It does not matter what the science says - rational empirical methods to arrive at the truth - what matters is what the teatards believe. I guess if teatard right-wing conservative stop beleiving in gravity we'll all float away. Except for those who in the mean time have been given a death sentence by the science haters.

Glenn Beck deals in crazy delusions, not facts - The king of conspiracy shamelessly attacks George Soros -- and finally nabs the award he was born to win

Shocking but true: Glenn Beck has not yet been the subject of "This Week in Crazy," the feature that was essentially created to honor 2009's Craziest Man. This week, though, as if he knew that his usual conspiracy-mongering, fake tears and suffocating paranoia just weren't cutting it anymore, Beck aired a series of shameless attacks on George Soros that seemed ripped from the pages of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The message? Financier and philanthropist George Soros is a "puppet master" secretly at the center of a vast conspiracy that aims to destroy our economy and take over the nation through deceit. The proof? A lot of selectively edited quotes, wild innuendo and the fact that Soros "collapsed regimes" in "four other countries."

Beck knows full well that Soros dedicated his life to promoting democracy in Communist nations, which an avowed anti-socialist like Beck should theoretically be championing him for. But Soros is a progressive, and in the Beck world, progressives are socialists are Maoists are Communists are totalitarians, so any enemy of Soros is a friend of Glenn Beck's. Insanity makes strange bedfellows. Look who Beck quotes to support his argument that Soros is one of the secret rulers of the world:

He's known as the man who broke the bank of England. The Prime Minister of Malaysia called Soros an unscrupulous profiteer. In Thailand, he was branded the "economic war criminal." They also said that he "sucks the blood from people."

The prime minister of Malaysia went on to say: "We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews, but in reality it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, and coincidentally Soros is a Jew." (The other quote, about how Soros is a bloodsucking something-or-other, speaks for itself.)

I don't think people who read secondhand accounts of the specials -- or even those who read the transcripts -- can grasp how weird and shameless the entire spectacle was. There were puppets strewn about the set. The camera always watches Beck watching whatever we're supposed to be watching. Beck blatantly flirted with classic anti-Semitic tropes, knowing he'd be called on it but confident his friends would have his back. His taunting response to criticism: If he's a lying anti-Semite, why would Rupert Murdoch allow him on the air?

But the craziest bit of the entire thing came when Glenn Beck accused Soros -- a 14-year-old Jew in Budapest attempting, during the war, to survive the Holocaust -- of collaborating with the Nazis and "helping send the Jews to the death camps." Yes, that happened. Repeatedly.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) Continues Public Mental Collapse Nearly Cries at Idea of Ending Earmarks

Oklahoma's severely mentally disturbed conservative Senator James Inhofe Declares War On DeMint-Backed Earmark Ban, Saying Those Who Support It Are ‘Brainwashed’

While much ink has been spilled exploring the civil war between far-right tea party conservatives and more moderate Republicans, there appears to be a new rift emerging among the die-hard conservative wing in the Senate. Echoing the demands of the tea party movement, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) proposed yesterday a ban on earmarks in the Senate, and is aggressively whipping his colleagues to support it. While Republican leaders offered strong rhetoric on the campaign trail about opposing earmarks, now that the GOP has successfully taken power, they have been cool to DeMint’s proposal.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) — whom National Journal ranked as the most conservative senator in 2009 — has gone even further, declaring “an all-out war within the Senate GOP conference next week to defeat an earmark moratorium.” Inhofe has said he will take to the Senate floor Monday to deliver a “pretty strong statement” against the ban, and to call out DeMint for supporting earmarks before he was against them. DeMint “was really pro-earmark. … He ran as a pro-earmarker” as a House Member in 2004, Inhofe told Roll Call.

In an interview with conservative radio host Ed Morrissey yesterday, Inhofe said people like DeMint who oppose earmarks are “brainwashed,” adding that if his fellow senators vote to ban earmarks they are voting to “trash the constitution and reject their oath of office”:

INHOFE: They’ve been demagoguing this whole thing on earmarks, but you’ll never convince the American people of it because they are so thoroughly brainwashed. You say earmark, they say, oh, earmarks are bad. But then when they stop and define the earmarks, then they think, that is what the Constitution — that is what James Madison said we are supposed to be doing in the House and the Senate.

So my concern is this…these guys will come in and the first vote they will cast is to trash the Constitution and reject their oath of office. I know that sounds extreme, but I don’t want these guys sitting around worrying about whether or not we will not do our job and whether we will cede our power to the president, or not.
Whether earmarks should be completely banned or not is open for sane and rational debate. Inhofe lives in a mental bubble that prevents him from making sane rational arguments. What's wrong with Washington? States such as Oklahoma keep sending mentally deranged do nothing senators like Inhofe back to Washington every year.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanks to Conservatives Conditions Are Ripe for a Fascist-Lite America. Replacing Patriotism with Bitter Nationalism

Conditions Are Ripe for a Fascist-Lite America. Replacing Patriotism with Bitter Nationalism

American politics, as the midterm elections demonstrated, have descended into the irrational. On one side stands a corrupt liberal class, bereft of ideas and unable to respond coherently to the collapse of the global economy, the dismantling of our manufacturing sector and the deadly assault on the ecosystem. On the other side stands a mass of increasingly bitter people whose alienation, desperation and rage fuel emotionally driven and incoherent political agendas. It is a recipe for fascism.

More than half of those identified in a poll by the Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports as “mainstream Americans” now view the tea party favorably. The other half, still grounded in a reality-based world, is passive and apathetic. The liberal class wastes its energy imploring Barack Obama and the Democrats to promote sane measures including job creation programs, regulation as well as criminal proceedings against the financial industry, and an end to our permanent war economy. Those who view the tea party favorably want to tear the governmental edifice down, with the odd exception of the military and the security state, accelerating our plunge into a nation of masters and serfs. The corporate state, unchallenged, continues to turn everything, including human beings and the natural world, into commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse.

All sides of the political equation are lackeys for Wall Street. They sanction, through continued deregulation, massive corporate profits and the obscene compensation and bonuses for corporate managers. Most of that money—hundreds of billions of dollars—is funneled upward from the U.S. Treasury. The Sarah Palins and the Glenn Becks use hatred as a mobilizing passion to get the masses, fearful and angry, to call for their own enslavement as well as to deny uncomfortable truths, including global warming. Our dispossessed working class and beleaguered middle class are vulnerable to this manipulation because they can no longer bear the chaos and uncertainty that come with impoverishment, hopelessness and loss of control. They have retreated into a world of illusion, one peddled by right-wing demagogues, which offers a reassuring emotional consistency. This consistency appears to protect them from the turmoil in which they have been forced to live. The propaganda of a Palin or a Beck may insult common sense, but, for a growing number of Americans, common sense has lost its validity.

The liberal class, which remains rooted in a world of fact, rationalizes placating corporate power as the only practical response. It understands the systems of corporate power. It knows the limitations and parameters. And it works within them. The result, however, is the same. The entire spectrum of the political landscape collaborates in the strangulation of our disenfranchised working class, the eroding of state power, the criminal activity of the financial class and the paralysis of our political process.

Commerce cannot be the sole guide of human behavior. This utopian fantasy, embraced by the tea party as well as the liberal elite, defies 3,000 years of economic history. It is a chimera. This ideology has been used to justify the disempowerment of the working class, destroy our manufacturing capacity, and ruthlessly gut social programs that once protected and educated the working and middle class. It has obliterated the traditional liberal notion that societies should be configured around the common good. All social and cultural values are now sacrificed before the altar of the marketplace.

The failure to question the utopian assumptions of globalization has left us in an intellectual vacuum. Regulations, which we have dismantled, were the bulwarks that prevented unobstructed brutality and pillaging by the powerful and protected democracy. It was a heavily regulated economy, as well as labor unions and robust liberal institutions, which made the American working class the envy of the industrialized world. And it was the loss of those unions, along with a failure to protect our manufacturing, which transformed this working class into a permanent underclass clinging to part-time or poorly paid jobs without protection or benefits.

The “inevitability” of globalization has permitted huge pockets of the country to be abandoned economically. It has left tens of millions of Americans in economic ruin. Private charity is now supposed to feed and house the newly minted poor, a job that once, the old liberal class argued, belonged to the government. As John Ralston Saul in “The Collapse of Globalization” points out, “the role of charity should be to fill the cracks of society, the imaginative edges, to go where the public good hasn’t yet focused or can’t. Dealing with poverty is the basic responsibility of the state.” But the state no longer has the interest or the resources to protect us. And the next target slated for elimination is Social Security.

That human society has an ethical foundation that must be maintained by citizens and the state is an anathema to utopian ideologues of all shades. They always demand that we sacrifice human beings for a distant goal. The propagandists of globalization—from Lawrence Summers to Francis Fukuyama to Thomas Friedman—do for globalization and the free market what Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky did for Marxism. They sell us a dream. These elite interpreters of globalism are the vanguard, the elect, the prophets, who alone grasp a great absolute truth and have the right to impose this truth on a captive people no matter what the cost. Human suffering is dismissed as the price to be paid for the coming paradise. The response of these propagandists to the death rattles around them is to continue to speak in globalization’s empty rhetoric and use state resources to service a dead system. They lack the vision to offer any alternative. They can function only as systems managers. They will hollow out the state to sustain a casino capitalism that is doomed to fail. And what they offer as a solution is as irrational as the visions of a Christian America harbored by many within the tea party.

We are ruled by huge corporate monopolies that replicate the political and economic power, on a vastly expanded scale, of the old trading companies of the 17th and 18th centuries. Wal-Mart’s gross annual revenues of $250 billion are greater than those of most small nation-states. The political theater funded by the corporate state is composed of hypocritical and impotent liberals, the traditional moneyed elite, and a disenfranchised and angry underclass that is being encouraged to lash out at the bankrupt liberal institutions and the government that once protected them. The tea party rabble, to placate their anger, will also be encouraged by their puppet masters to attack helpless minorities, from immigrants to Muslims to homosexuals. All these political courtiers, however, serve the interests of the corporate state and the utopian ideology of globalism. Our social and political ethic can be summed up in the mantra let the market decide. Greed is good.

The old left—the Wobblies, the Congress of Industrial Workers (CIO), the Socialist and Communist parties, the fiercely independent publications such as Appeal to Reason and The Masses—would have known what to do with the rage of our dispossessed. It used anger at injustice, corporate greed and state repression to mobilize Americans to terrify the power elite on the eve of World War I. This was the time when socialism was not a dirty word in America but a promise embraced by millions who hoped to create a world where everyone would have a chance. The steady destruction of the movements of the left was carefully orchestrated. They fell victim to a mixture of sophisticated forms of government and corporate propaganda, especially during the witch hunts for communists, and overt repression. Their disappearance means we lack the vocabulary of class warfare and the militant organizations, including an independent press, with which to fight back.

We believe, like the Spaniards in the 16th century who pillaged Latin America for gold and silver, that money, usually the product of making and trading goods, is real. The Spanish empire, once the money ran out and it no longer produced anything worth buying, went up in smoke. Today’s use in the United States of some $12 trillion in government funds to refinance our class of speculators is a similar form of self-deception. Money markets are still treated, despite the collapse of the global economy, as a legitimate source of trade and wealth creation. The destructive power of financial bubbles, as well as the danger of an unchecked elite, was discovered in ancient Athens and detailed more than a century ago in Emile Zola’s novel “Money.” But we seem determined to find out this self-destructive force for ourselves. And when the second collapse comes, as come it must, we will revisit wrenching economic and political tragedies forgotten in the mists of history.

Mr. Hedges may be right. The current situation is particularly dire because individual Americans have either given up their rights to corporations or the conservative Republican stacked courts - as in the Citizens United case - have handed over human rights to corporations that can buy free speech in the media and buy power in Washington.

How conservatives judges think - 5th Circuit Rules That High School Cheerleader Is Required To Cheer For Her Alleged Rapist

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What people are angry about, if they only knew it

What people are angry about, if they only knew it

Look, America is a very sad place right now, which is what the Tea Party movement and the midterm elections are about. I could analyze the particulars, but then I would be no better than the whole 24-hour media machine - which, given that unemployment is at 9.6%, is lucky that no one has noticed that they don't exactly do their job. If the news outlets were actually reporting, they would tell us the honest and awful truth: the United States is a post-industrial empire in decline, like England or Belgium or worse (is there worse?). There is no next. We are at next.

And truthfully, it would not be so bad, if we could only come to terms with who we are: we are an amazing country still, but not in the way we believe. We are, in fact, kind of nerdy. We decry elitism, and yet it is precisely the high-falutin' stuff that we are good at. We still have the best research universities on the planet - every world survey puts Harvard, Berkeley and Stanford at the top - and we still have companies like Apple and Google that no one else on earth can come up with. And, of course, our creative industries - movies and music - are still our biggest import, even if piracy is deflating their value.

What are we not good at? Dumb stuff, the things they can do in China for cheap, the things we think we're good at, like making cars and clothes.

So, here's the problem for President Obama, and now for all those shiny, happy Republicans who have just been elected: they don't need to speak truth to power; rather, they need to tell the truth to the weak. They need to tell "folks" that their future, maybe even their present, has been outsourced.

Yes, the United States is still the great meritocracy it's always been; but now, if you aren't brilliant or beautiful or both, there isn't much to do, because they can do it cheaper in Shanghai or Mumbai. The Tea Party people should enjoy their rallies, because the rest of it is, indeed, quite bleak.

For the first time in American history, then, social mobility has been replaced with class struggle. Europeans have always been mystified that poor people in this country don't rise up and throw potatoes at Donald Trump - instead, they make him a reality TV star [6]. But that's because everyone here is sure they are going to be rich like him someday, too. Maybe tomorrow.

The American Dream, coupled with government subsidies of utilities and cheap consumer goods courtesy of slave labor somewhere else, has kept the poor huddled masses from rising up. But no more. They know better now. They are, so to speak, "tea-ed off".

To make matters worse, the current president, who is one of those beautiful and brilliant elite people that the world has not left behind, happens to be black. Ouch! This has got to really hurt. And so, all of a sudden, he's a socialist. The funny thing is, in the United States, there's really no such thing as socialism - instead, there are people here who will tell you, without embarrassment, that The Fountainhead [7] is their favorite book ever. They don't think that it's pulp or that Ayn Rand is a nasty lady - they really think it's a good book, up there with Middlemarch and Moby Dick. Howard Roark is a hero and Objectivism is considered a form of human kindness. So, we just don't know socialism here. It's an absurd accusation.

As for anything being a violation of the constitution: the reason that document has survived over 230 years, while others belonging to other republics are replaced as often as one changes the oil in a car, is that its provisions are vague. The "necessary and proper clause" allows Congress to pass any legislation it deems necessary and proper. Kind of hard to define the contours of that one, right? I, for one, am going to trust the experts to figure out what these words mean, which is what we've been doing all along. There's a reason this society is so litigious and lawyers are so busy - it's because Sarah Palin can't be trusted to interpret the bill of rights for us.

So, you see, all this anger is misplaced. No point changing who is in Congress or who is in the Oval Office. Doesn't matter. Just moving deck chairs on the Titanic. Or switching parties in America, which was great while it lasted.

Wasted article sense the people who should read and understand it, won't read it and if they did they would not recognize themselves as the wage slaves they are.

Republicans Do Not Know Why They Won. The Missing Mandate

Live by the Polls. Die by the Polls

Tax cuts: According to exit polls, only 17 percent of the country thinks tax cuts should be a priority for the new Congress. And those that do want tax cuts oppose the way McConnell wants to do it. More than half the country, 52 percent, either wants the Bush tax cuts extended for those making under $250,000 a year or doesn't want them extended at all. Only 39 percent support the McConnell position of extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone. That 52-39 split is identical to the one McConnell cited at the White House health care summit in February as proof that the American people opposed Obama's health care plan.

Spending cuts: McConnell is opposed to federal spending to create jobs, but nearly as many voters want lawmakers to spend money to create jobs (37 percent) as want them to cut the deficit (39 percent). Voters in McConnell's home state of Kentucky are even more bullish on spending: They say Congress's first priority should be spending to create jobs (39 percent), reducing the deficit (35 percent), and applying tax cuts (21 percent).

Health care: Voters do not list repeal of the health care as a top priority. When asked their opinion, 48 percent support McConnell's plan to repeal the law. This is hardly a mandate. Forty-seven percent want either to keep the law or to expand it.
Republicans do not believe in rationalism so it will be interesting to see what magic they come up with to satisfy their opposing objectives. They want to balance the budget, but are opposed to raising revenue. They don't like health--care reform, but will have to take away those parts which have already gone into effect and the public likes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Drama Queen Sarah Palin Complains About Invasion Of Her Privacy On First Episode Of Her Reality Show

Drama Queen Sarah Palin Complains About Invasion Of Her Privacy On First Episode Of Her Reality Show

The first episode of Sarah Palin's new show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," has been placed online and it starts with what is now a familiar lament about the intrusiveness of the press from the former Alaska Governor.

The specific grievance is directed at Joe McGinniss, the freelance reporter who over the course of the summer camped up in the house next to Palin's home in Alaska. And in terms a bit more candid than expressed at the time, Palin offers her displeasure.

"Our behavior has certainly changed this summer because of this new neighbor," she says at the show's onset. "I think it is an intrusion, an invasion of our privacy and I don't like it." Palin later adds, "It's just none of his flippin' business."

Even the soft-spoken first dude, Todd Palin, gets in on the act, saying that his summer fun had been "taken away from us because of a new neighbor next door who is writing a hit piece on my wife. I mean life is about being productive but these people want to seek and destroy."

Todd would go on to build a 14-foot fence between the properties to limit McGinniss' ability to peer in to her property -- an act privacy protection that Sarah sees as a symbolic foundation for solving the immigration debate. "I thought that was a good example, what we just did," she says. "Others can look at it and say oh this is what we need to do to secure our nation's border."

Putting aside the debate over McGinniss' ethics -- as well as the more particular disputes over whether his rental of the house next door was physically intrusive -- there is a certain irony to Palin's lament. She's complaining about her loss of privacy, after all, while being filmed for a reality TV series.

It's illustrative of Palin's larger relationship with the press. The outlets to which she grants access provide the most favorable coverage, whether it be her analyst gig on Fox News or her Alaska-themed show on TLC. Those that probe a bit deeper are brandished as unreasonable.
Palin resigns as governor so she can parlay her new found fame into being a millionaire political-celebrity. Than complains when someone pays attention to her. If she didn't want neighbors she should have bought the house next door and had it demolished. Apparently she makes more money milking the story to play the whiny victim.

Why Bush’s ‘Enhanced Interrogation’ Program Failed

How conservatism has damaged our democracy - Bill Moyers: "Welcome to the Plutocracy!"

Conservative Sheep Herd Elects a Crop of Republinuts

The Crazy Class Of 2010: Meet The New GOP Stars

Allen West (R-FL)

Without a doubt, Allen West is going to become a new star all around -- adored on the right, and a bogeyman of the left. First of all, West built his conservative political career on a particular event from his own military service -- when he tortured an Iraqi policeman, and was proud of it.

Since then, his attitudes on foreign policy haven't changed much: "A nation goes to war against an ideology. We are against something that is a totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology, and it is called Islam."
West betrayed the honor and dignity of the U.S. military, violated the Army field manual, endangered the lives of his fellow soldiers and violated the conventions against torture. What was the reaction of Republicans, hey we have to reward this traitor with a seat in Congress.

Renee Ellmers (R-NC)

What issue did Ellmers run on? Why, it was her vigorous anti-mosque campaigning. Check out this ad, in which Ellmers campaigned on her opposition to the Park 51 "Ground Zero Mosque," calling it a part of a historic Muslim pattern of creating "victory mosques" in places they have conquered:

This led to an interesting interview with Anderson Cooper, in which Cooper pointed out that all religious groups have built houses of worship in places they conquered -- such as the Catholic Church, for example. In response, Ellmers accused Cooper of being anti-Christian.
Ellmers was not around for the protests against building Catholic churches in the 1800s. Apparently she is another conservative that believes the 1st amendment only applies when they're in the mood. Not surprisingly Ellmers has no plan for the economy, education, the environment or any other public policy.

Tim Walberg (R-MI)

Walberg is not actually new -- he's an previous guy coming back, and bringing new levels of The Crazy. He was first elected in 2006, as a Club For Growth primary challenger against moderate Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz. Then in 2008, he was defeated by Democrat Mark Schauer, then came back this year to win by 50%-45%.

So what gets him a place on our list? Well, during his time in the wilderness, as he was climbing back as a candidate, Walberg became birther-curious, telling a questioner at an event that the matter of the president's citizenship wasn't resolved. He also said that if he were Obama, he would show his birth certificate to various public officials and talk-radio hosts -- and that the matter could be handled through impeachment investigations if Republicans won a majority.
Poor little Timmy has the same poor reading comprehension skills as many Republicans. President Obama's birth certificate might be one of the most scrutinized documents ever. Tim will be yet another embarrassment to the intelligence deprived conservative movement, wandering around in a daze asking if anyone has seen his drool cup.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rand Paul Supports Plutocracy for America - Punish Work, Reward Wealth

Rand Paul Supports Plutocracy for America - Punish Work, Reward Wealth

Last night, Kentucky elected Rand Paul (R-KY), the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), to the U.S. Senate. Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Paul announced his intention to do anything it takes to shield the privileged rich and corporate America. Asked if he would end the $830 billion, unpaid-for Bush tax cuts to the rich and return tax rates for the wealthiest bracket to Clinton-era levels, Paul snapped and said such a move would cause a “second great depression” and declared that “anybody who proposes such a policy really is, I think, unfit to be making decisions.”

Paul then clarified his delusional worldview by telling Blitzer that “there are no rich” and “there are no poor.” In Paul’s mind, even taxing yachts would somehow punish the working poor in Kentucky. “We all either work for rich people or we sell stuff to rich people,” concluded Rand:

PAUL: I would say that they must be in favor of a second American depression, because if you raise taxes to that consequence, that’s what will happen in this country. Raising taxes in the midst of a recession would be a disaster for our economy. And anybody who proposes such a policy really is, I think, unfit to be making decisions.

BLITZER: What if they just raised taxes on the richest, those making more than 250,000 dollars a year?

PAUL: Well, the thing is, we’re all interconnected. There are no rich. There are no middle class. There are no poor. We all are interconnected in the economy. You remember a few years ago, when they tried to tax the yachts, that didn’t work. You know who lost their jobs? The people making the boats, the guys making 50,000 and 60,000 dollars a year lost their jobs. We all either work for rich people or we sell stuff to rich people. So just punishing rich people is as bad for the economy as punishing anyone. Let’s not punish anyone. Let’s keep taxes low and let’s cut spending.

Watch it:

Paul has fashioned himself a protector of the privileged class, for instance arguing repeatedly against regulating BP in the wake of its oil disaster. But an honest look at American society reveals a world divorced from Paul’s rhetoric. Many of America’s most profitable corporations, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and ExxonMobil, paid essentially nothing in corporate taxes in all of 2009. In 2007, the latest year for which figures are available from the Federal Reserve Board, the “richest 1% of U.S. households owned 33.8% of the nation’s private wealth.”

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, that is “more than the combined wealth of the bottom 90 percent.” And of course, inequality varies by geography, gender, race, and other factors. A recent study found that the median wealth for single black women was $5 compared to $42,600 for single white women. Meanwhile, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Republican allies fight against working class pay increases, the minimum wage sits at $7.25 as many corporate make as much as $27,000 an hour.

Paul has cloaked his greed and support for the privileged class in a thin veneer he calls “libertarianism” or “constitutional conservatism.” But as he assails programs to help working Americans as “socialism,” he has opposed any cuts to doctors like himself through Medicare.
Paul's world view on economics should make him welcome in the social-Darwinism oriented Republican Partay. Conservatives and right-wing libertarians like Paul believe that wealth is not something acquired through hard work, but a character virtue - i.e. rich people are rich because they're just better than the rest of us. These zealots never acknowledge it is working class Americans who provide the labor to make their wealth possible. Somewhere along the line America has become a country that over values the supposed brain power of the elite over people who actually do things.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Conservative Supreme Court Sold Out Our Democracy

The Conservative Supreme Court Sold Out Our Democracy

Election 2010 is being fought on a wave of campaign dollars unleashed on the American people by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United v. FEC decision. The court, led by a majority of staunch right-wingers, struck down limits on third-party “electioneering” ads based on a tortured interpretation of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

Thomas Mann, a Brookings Institution scholar, wrote that the decision “will likely go down in history as one of the Supreme Court's most egregious exercises of judicial activism.“ Rep. Peter Fazio, D-Oregon, told the Huffington Post last week that “the Supreme Court has done a tremendous disservice to the United States of America… They have done more to undermine our democracy with their Citizens United decision than all of the Republican operatives in the world in this campaign.” DeFazio said he is “investigating articles of impeachment" against Chief Justice John Roberts for committing perjury when he promised he wouldn't be a judicial activist during his Senate confirmation hearings.

The floodgates are open, and American democracy is at risk. But the decision didn’t emerge out of thin air. Rather, it was the culmination of the development, over more than a century, of a bizarre theory of jurisprudence that holds that corporations enjoy the same Constitutional rights as human beings.

For years, it was believed the concept was enshrined in the law by the Supreme Court in 1886, but in his groundbreaking book, Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became People -- And How You Can Fight Back, historian and radio host Thom Hartmann revealed that the principle was in fact the result of what may be the greatest corporate fraud ever perpetrated on the American people.

With the first post-Citizens United election looming -- and the release of Unequal Protection in paperback -- AlterNet caught up with Hartmann to discuss how corporations bought themselves a perverse regiment of civil rights.

Joshua Holland: I'd like to start with a very brief kind of bumper-sticker explanation of ‘corporate personhood.'

Thom Hartmann: Sure. From the sixth-century English law until today there have been two types of persons under the eyes of the law. The first are natural persons, human beings, and the second are artificial persons -- corporations, churches, unions and governments. The reason why there has to be artificial persons is because you have to have some sort of status as a person to be able to own property, pay taxes, enter into contracts, and sue or be sued.

The concept goes back to the sixth century, but it's only in the last 100 years of the United States that anybody has had the weird idea that those artificial persons should be entitled to human rights under the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

JH: So BP and Goldman Sachs have the same constitutional rights that you and I enjoy?

TH: Somewhat. They have not yet claimed their Second Amendment rights.

JH: That's a good thing.

TH: But we're waiting. You got Blackwater, actually.

JH: Yes. I would think they’d be the first on that boat.

TH: The point is that through various claims and cases before the Supreme Court, corporations have explicitly claimed First Amendment free speech rights, Fourth Amendment rights of privacy, Fifth Amendment rights against taking and against self-incrimination, and 14th Amendment rights against discrimination.

JH: Now, although it's been with us for a very long time, it wasn’t until the 1980s that corporate starting breaking it out with increasing frequency. Can you give us just a couple of examples of where corporations asserted these constitutional rights?

TH: Sure. In short form, in 1874 I believe it was, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were passed to free the slaves. The 14th Amendment says that everybody has equal rights under the law.

I think it was clear to the authors, and pretty much to everybody, that they were talking about human beings -- natural persons. But in the 1880s, a decade later, the railroad corporations, which, as a result of the Civil War were the largest corporations in America, started bringing a series of cases before the Supreme Court ... they all started in the 9th Circuit Court in California under Judge Steven J. Field, asserting that because the word "natural" does not exist in the 14th Amendment, that corporations should be considered persons.

JH: Now let me just interrupt you here. If I were to go down to a law school and get out the kind of textbook that maybe a first-year law student would read, it would say that the courts had in fact decided that in the case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. Is that right?

TH: When I first wrote Unequal Protection --the first edition came out I think in 2000 or thereabouts -- I was invited to the Vermont Law School to give a talk on it, and I spoke to about 300 law students, professors and history teachers. And I said raise your hand if you know that in 1886, in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, corporations were given the rights of persons under the reconstruction-era amendments to the Constitution? And pretty much everybody in the room raised their hand and I think the few who didn't just hadn't gotten to that point in their studies. And then I proceeded over the course of the next hour to demolish it basically by reading from the case.

There was a case before the Supreme Court in the 1980s, called First National Bank of Boston v. Belotti, which was one of the first cases in the modern era that really gave corporations the right to participate in political elections. Massachusetts had this law that said corporations could only give money to ballot initiatives that affected their businesses. But the case involved a ballot initiative to regulate gay marriage, and the banks had no rights to spend money on that -- the stockholders' money. And the First National Bank of Boston had broken that law. The Attorney General sued them and won in Massachusetts, and it was taken to the Supreme Court. And in that case, Justice Rehnquist -- who, regardless of what you think of him, was one of the most brilliant jurists of our time -- wrote a dissent in Boston v. Belotti. And in that dissent -- what I'm giving you is my bad paraphrasing of it -- Renquist said, "Back in 1886, in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, this Court, without the benefit of public debate or discourse, decided that corporations have equal rights under the 14th Amendment." Then he went on to say how he thought that it was a wrongly decided case.

Well, it turns out, it wasn't wrongly decided. And even Renquist didn't know it! Forget the law students in Vermont Law School!

JH: Now let’s recap the story. You went down to a dusty Vermont courthouse -- I don't actually know if it was dusty, I'm just making that up ...

TH: The book was dusty! I don't think anybody had pulled it off the shelf in 100 years.

JH: And you found that what the real deal was. Tell me about that, and also tell me who JC Bancroft Davis is.

TH: Yes. Jack Chandler Bancroft Davis is his name. I started out writing a book about Thomas Jefferson's view of America and how we went off track. How we got off the rails. And I wanted to primary source everything in the book, like a good historian would do. And when I came to the 1800s -- when corporations became a major force in America, and led right to the massive accumulations of wealth that were marked the ‘Robber Baron Era’ -- there was a lot of material about how this case had been decided in 1886. And so I thought I ought to read the case so I could quote the exact language. Because nobody was quoting the exact language. Everybody was saying it was decided, but even Renquist in his Belotti dissent didn't quote the exact language. So I went into Montpelier, Vermont’s, old law library and spoke to Paul Donovan, the librarian there. And I said I'm looking for that 1886 case of Santa Clara County v. Southern District Railroad. And he said, ‘Oh, the one where corporations became people?’ And I said ‘Yeah, that one.’ And so he finds the book of Supreme Court proceedings from the term of 1886. He pulls it out, blows the dust off the top, and opens it on the table. This was before they started putting acid in paper in the 1930s, so the pages were still in pretty good shape. And he flipped through it, and he found the case, and he said, ‘Here's the head note. You can ignore that-- that has no legal status.’

And so I sat down and I just read it, all the way through, looking for those magic words that I could put in my book. And they weren't there. In fact, what the case was about was Santa Clara County was charging property tax to the Southern Pacific Railroad. And the way that they calculated property taxes for right of way was by fence posts along the railway. So X number of dollars for every 100 fence posts. And because Santa Ana County was charging a lower rate than Santa Clara County, the railroad was screaming foul, and in fact refused to pay the tax. And this ended up before the Supreme Court. And the railroad made a whole bunch of different arguments. And one of those was that this was illegal discrimination under the 14th Amendment, that they weren't being treated equally under the law by two different counties in the same state.

But the argument that I just described to you was not even referenced in the decision. Because there was a clear and explicit part of California law that gave each county the right to determine their own property taxes. The California law and the California Constitution backed it up.

And at the very end of the case, it basically said that the Court did not feel the need to address those federal Constitutional claims because they were able to find remedies within the California law and in the state Constitution.

JH: So they didn't even consider those arguments, they didn't need to, because they were able to decide the case based on other issues.

TH: Right. One of the core concepts of jurisprudence is minimalism. You always try to-- it's called "judicial restraint" -- you always try to decide a case as narrowly as possible, and if within that narrow band, you can find the remedy, then you don't go beyond that.

And so I read that, and I went back to Paul, the librarian, and I said "I'm not finding in this case what I thought I'd find. I'm baffled." And he said, "Well, did you read the headnote? Maybe that will give you a clue where to find it." You know, as if I'd overlooked something. So I said, "What's a headnote?" And he said, "Well, a headnote is basically Cliff notes -- you know, cheat sheets for lawyers to understand what a case is about without having to read the whole case." They're written by the Clerk of the Court. And so we went back and he found the headnote in the book, and I read the headnote. And there, a couple of paragraphs into the headnote, was this language where the author of the headnote, the Clerk of the Court, said he was quoting the Chief Justice of the Court, saying that corporations are persons and entitled to rights under the 14th Amendment.

So I take my 75 cents, or whatever it was, and my copies of the book, and we very carefully copied it on the copy machine there and Paul put it back on the shelf. Then I went around the corner to an old friend who was a lawyer in Montpelier, Jim Deville, and I laid out my copies on his table. And I showed him the language toward the end of the decision. I said, "Okay, here's the argument, here's the argument, here's the argument, here's the language at the end of the decision." And he goes, "Wow! That's not what we learned in law school!"

And so I went back to the headnote, and I highlighted that sentence in the headnote, and I said, "Well, this is probably what you learned in law school, right?" And he goes, "Holy shit!" And I said, "What do you think?" And he said, "Well, this is why they tell you in law school: don't cut corners and just read the headnotes."

Because occasionally the headnotes are wrong! He said in this case, not only was the headnote wrong, it actually contradicted the decision! And I asked him whether it had any legal status. And he said, "No, there was a 1909 Supreme Court decision that explicitly ruled that headnotes have no legal status."

JH: Now the Clerk ... let's get back to the Clerk just briefly.

TH: Sure.

JH: So this is JC Bancroft Davis.

TH: That's correct.

JH: Tell me a little bit about what you found out about him when you dug into his story?

TH: Well, that was pretty hard to find. Because to the best of my knowledge nobody had ever done anything about him, or looked into him, other than Davis himself -- he had published a number of books. He was quite the dandy. And he was the son of a very wealthy family. His father was the governor of Massachusetts. He had been one of the original incorporators of the New York and Newburgh Railroad, and so he was a railroad guy.

JH: Okay, so basically we're seeing that a lot of what we have taken for granted as legal corporate power, is in a sense a result of what may be the greatest fraud in history.

TH: That's right. And so when I started digging into this, not only did I find out that Davis was questionable-- kind of a dicey character -- but that this was one of a series of cases, tax cases, that all originated in the 9th Circuit in California, with Steven J. Field, and got kicked up to the Supreme Court, in which every single one of them argued that the 14th Amendment gave corporations personhood.

And in the first few, the Court just rejected out of hand. And that was until 1886. And so we started digging into it, and wondered, who the hell was this Steven J. Field guy?’

Field had basically two allies on the Supreme Court, plus Davis, who had no vote. And so we started digging into the Steven J. Field collection at the National Archives, and we found correspondence between him and the railroads that I don't think anybody had looked at in 100 years, if ever. In some of them, the railroad barons were in some cases implicitly, and in one case rather explicitly saying that if he could get them this corporate personhood, they would sponsor him to run for President of the United States in the election of 1888, I think it was, or maybe 1892.

And he didn't actually succeed. In fact, Steven J. Field actually wrote a dissent in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, in which he loudly complained about the fact that they hadn’t established corporate personhood. And you'd think somebody would read the damned thing!! You know?

JH: So we have this ...

TH: What you had was a corrupted Supreme Court, and it had been corrupted by these very, very wealthy and powerful guys who ran the railroads and who were the richest men in America. And you know, that led to what we have now, which is this kind of corporate aristocracy. And there's a direct line between the two.

JH: So let's bring it from the 19th century into the late 20th and 21st. I just want to kind of get a brief sense, if you can give me a couple of examples of how modern multinationals have used this principle in recent years to push back on regulation, etc.

TH: Sure. Nike argued that they had the right to lie in advertising, because they had a 1st Amendment right of speech. That was ultimately, I guess, arguably decided in Citizens United. There was a chemical company that argued that the EPA invaded their 4th Amendment right of privacy by photographing them -- from the air -- making illegal chemical discharges. There had been a number of cases where giant agricultural operations, toxic waste operations, and large chain stores have argued that keeping them out of a neighborhood or community is the same thing as telling a black person he can't sit at a lunch counter. In other words they claimed their 14th Amendment rights. There have been a number of cases over the years where corporations have claimed that they have the right against self-incrimination.

You know, the original corporate laws, when corporations were created in the early 19th century, their books had to be totally public for the mid part of the 19th century, they had to be totally available to the Secretary of State in each state in which they were incorporated. But since the early 20th century they have been able to claim 4th Amendment privacy rights.

JH: Now, a quick aside. Did you catch a story about the town of Monroe, Maine, rejecting corporate personhood? They passed a local ordinance?

TH: Yes. There have been over 100 communities in the United States that have done this. So yes, there have been a lot of communities that have done this. There has not been a case where a community has made this law and it has been challenged and it has been taken to the Supreme Court. What happens more often is that the communities pass the laws, the corporation comes in and says "Okay, we're going to fight you in court." The community looks at what the legal costs are going to be, and the community then repeals the law. And it's happened numerous times.

JH: Now in your book, you have a chapter on restoring government of, by and for the people. And I think you take a fairly optimistic tone.

TH: I do.

JH: Tell me, what is the basis for that optimism? What are you hoping to see happen? How might we restore government of, by and for natural people?

TH: Right. For natural persons. Well, we had a time in this country when African Americans were not fully people. In fact what's so ironic is that in the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court ruled the persons were property. And that was the mirror image of the 2010 Citizens United decision, which ruled that properties can be persons. But over time the idea that African Americans should not have full rights has become unthinkable.

In the early 20th century, if a woman's husband died, she could not dispose of his assets or her assets ... in fact she didn't even have the legal right in most states to decide what religion to raise her child in, or even necessarily to keep her child. A male executor had to be appointed who made all those decisions for her.

And then on top of that there have been times like the late 19th century when the vast mass of working people in the United States have been victims of oppression -- we had kind of descended into a Victorian era kind of serfdom, and the response to that was the rise of the Progressive Movement in the 1880s and 1890s. And the labor movements, and the Wobblies, and all this stuff. Which led to the Progressive Era of Teddy Roosevelt, and then to, again, after the Crash in 1929, the Progressive Era of Franklin Roosevelt.

So what I see when I look at the arc of history in the United States is that we're continuously moving upward towards a more egalitarian, healthier, more (small d) democratic republic. And also that there have been a lot of hiccups along the way -- lot of setbacks. For example, early in the 20th century, there were a number of cases where the Supreme Court actually struck down minimum wage laws, child labor laws, maximum hour laws -- struck all that stuff down, and said that it was a violation of the Commerce Clause.

And I think it was in '36 or '37, when finally enough people on the Supreme Court changed, and Roosevelt was able to start getting into law the things that the Supreme Court, just a generation earlier, had declared unconstitutional. So we've had some major setbacks as a result of the Supreme Court, and as a result of just general public sentiments.

But I think that (small d) democracy ... freedom ... these words are in our DNA as Americans. They're just burnt in there. They're not going to go away. And this oppression of working people by trans-national monopolies--I'm not even going to use the word "corporation" -- is I don't believe something that will stand. I think eventually the pain is going to get so bad that the average American is going to say "Now I understand!" We have a long history in this country of people figuring out that something's wrong, and then figuring out how to fix it. So I'm very optimistic actually.

There are a lot of people who are trying to solve this problem today. And one of the solutions has been legislative, for example trying to just deal with the First Amendment right of free speech stuff, that was addressed in Citizens United. But I think that that's very dangerous, because it doesn't address the real issue of corporate power. It doesn't address the corporations using the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the 14th Amendment. Similarly, there's a movement by some very well intentioned progressives to amend the Constitution, to specifically say corporations don't have First Amendment free speech rights. And I think that that's dangerous also. Because it not only leaves intact the Fourth, Fifth and 14 Amendment rights that corporations are claiming ... and arguably Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendment rights ... but it implicitly recognizes them.

And so I believe that the only way to address this is to amend the Constitution clearly and explicitly to say that the 14th Amendment was intended to free slaves who are natural persons ... and that only natural persons, human beings, have rights under the Bill of Rights, and that corporations are merely the creation of governments. Because they are. They are legal fictions, and they have only those rights and privileges that the individual states decide to give them.

I think if we don't do the whole thing, if we only do it part way, we might end up, at least over a short period of time, worse off than we were, even though we'll think that we had a victory.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America). Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.
*Reprinted for educational purposes.