Bob Brown Speaks Out Against Recent Supreme Court Decision on Election Finance

by jhwygirl

Former GOP legislator (2 in the state house, 23 in the senate), Secretary of State and 2004 gubernatorial nominee Bob Brown recently wrote an editorial slamming the recent SCOTUS decision regarding election finance law.

The comments on that piece mystify me. There are people actually defending The Company (as in the Anaconda Copper Mining Company)….it’s almost 1984-esqe (and believe it or not, I’ve heard the same kind of defense of ACM in conversations I had that concerned Smurfit, of all things. That the union there killed Smurfit, as opposed to The Company, which took care of everyone.)

That being said, state Attorney General Steve Bullock testified in the U.S. Senate on the dangers this decision presented to Montana and other states that had laws designed to quash corporate influence on our elections. Check the video:

After the hearing, Senator Jon Tester spoke on Bullock’s testimony:

“I’m proud my colleagues got to hear Steve’s smart, common sense insight today.

“As Steve told the Senate, this Supreme Court decision will affect political races in Montana and across the country-at all levels. Special interests have too much influence already, and this decision only gives them more power.

“Our elections need to be about people, not corporations. Corporations don’t vote. People do.”

I point all this out because of two things. One being to point out that it isn’t just Democrats that see the potential for serious concerns with our elections because of that court ruling – we’ve got a prominent state Republican who’s dedicated damned near his whole life to public service here in Montana speaking out to not only the potential for devastating effects on the election process but to the example of such that can be found in our very own history.

Secondly, absent the obvious, we have an election coming up, and I’ve yet to hear our sole-and-only congressional Representative Dennis Rehberg say a gosh darn thing about the ruling. You’d think he’d have something to say – considering the clear example presented in Montana history, yet alone our very own state laws and constitution – but I guess that big oil money is more important to him than the sanctity of our election process.

  1. klemz

    What is politicians speaking up going to do about it? The Supreme Court can’t and won’t reverse its construction because of political pressure.

    • JC

      Uh, because Congress can speak up and ride the populist wave against corporatism by leading a push to amend the Constitution to redefine corporate personhood.

      Of course I don’t think the Rehberg has any inclination to do that either He’d rather amend the constitution to prevent gay marriage.

      He might change his mind, though, if the race between the Rehberg Ranch and the Sieben Ranch goes badly though.

      • klemz

        Fair enough, if you think that’s what’s actually happening here. However, what you’re talking about requires actual initiative and a collective will. What I see is a lot of people simply sputtering off cheap words to score political points.

        • JC

          “What I see is a lot of people simply sputtering off cheap words to score political points.”

          Yep–I’d call that modern politics. Pretty depressing, really.

  2. ButteAmerica

    Look on the bright side.
    Now that corporations are people, too, we can draft them and take their property by eminent domain.

  3. gag me

    Corporations are made up of people, they have rights in the process just like everyone else. This rant against corporations is silly. The supreme court is not political, they attempt to interpret the Constitution independent of prevailing political pressure. Deal with it, just as you have an agenda, so do they.

    What do you say about political pressure brought on by organizations such as Acorn or Move On? I would guess you think they are ok????

    • JC

      “Corporations are made up of people, they have rights”

      Um… point to where in the Constitution it says that corporations have rights.

      Yep, just what I thought. You can’t. Unless you’re a judicial activist, that is.

      Supreme Court “not political?” Then explain 5-4, Bush v. Gore. What did that have to do with “interpret[ing] the Constitution independent of prevailing political pressure.”

      And what do either Acorn or Move on have to do with the Supreme Court decision? Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Except they serve as a dog whistle to conservatives and republicans.

      With a spoon, gag me, with a spoon.

      • gag me

        Point to where it says gays. Yep, just what I thought. You can’t. Unless you’re a judicial activist, that is.

        To your second point 5-4 bush was simply upholding and enforcing election rules.

        To your 3rd point – Acorn as well as move on, do you they not influence elections? If we stomp on corporations then we should also stomp on these organizations and then where do we ultimately draw the line?

        • JC

          The Supreme Court decision unleashed all corporations, including nonprofits and labor unions. It just happens that the size of the impact is commensurate with the size of the money behind the corporations.

          In other words, unleashing a corporation with a mega-billion dollar market cap far outweighs a labor union or a nonprofit that has no market cap, and relies on contributions to survive.

          Your argument for treating regular corporations with kid gloves because it may hinder a nonprofit is nothing but crocodile tears.

          Your first point makes no sense, so I won’t even look at it.

          Your second point about Bush v. Gore being a simple case about enforcing election rules is laughable. And it wasn’t a case about “enforcing election rules.” It was about interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Article II.

          There is nothing simple about a case where a single Supreme Court vote swung an election for president, and changed the course of history.

          It was pure politics. The 5 Justices who voted for Bush were all appointed for their posts by either Reagan (with George HW Bush as VP–and president of the Senate) or by George HW Bush.

          So yeah, politics played a part. Payback for Pappy’s having gotten them where they are, and another in a long line of strings pulled by Pappy to get his puppy into power.

          • klemz

            I agree with most of what you said, except that it’s an overstatement to assert that the five justices who voted for Bush did so because of their appointments. Souter was appointed by Bush I, and Stevens by Nixon. the fact of the matter is that, with the exception of Clinton’s two appointments, there was a huge Democratic drought between 1968-2009.

        • klemz

          Corporations are strictly legal identities and their rights are abridged in regard to some constitutional protections (such as the Fifth Amendment). Gays, on the other hand, are expressly afforded the full gamut of constitutional protections under, among other things, the Equal Protections Clause of the 14th Amendment.

          Is that sufficient?

          Second, ACORN and Move On are corporations; they are 501(c)(3) corporations as defined under Title 26 of the US Code and actually in-corp-or-ated by the the Secretary of State in their state of in-corp-or-ation.

          • gag me

            Yep, I know all of that and just because an organization falls under the premise of a 501c3, it is my opinion they should not be afforded any other rights as it pertains to the election process. Not every corporation is this bad global juggernaut and furthermore how can we truly differentiate between a regular old corporation and one that is funded almost entirely by an activist billionaire.

            Why do we continue to fight corporations, they create jobs and opportunities. Now they might not be those great government jobs but these corporations helped build America. This is plain and simple, if you disagree you believe in the socialist direction this country is headed in. I believe in people, the constitution and yes corporations and to limit ANY corporations involvement in the political process is limiting democracy at the time we need it the most.

          • problembear

            corporations in the latter part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st are internationally owned and could care less about this country. that is why they are more than happy to take jobs away from the good old usa in order to make more money buying stuff and having stuff made in china, mexico, Philippines, and anywhere else people will work for nothing. only trouble is they have outsmarted themselves- they took so many jobs away there is no longer any middle class left to buy their stuff.

            wake up gag, and stop carrying water for profit driven boardrooms who could care less about this country and who would slit your throat for an extra nickel’s profit. they are selling this country down the river and taking democracy with them.

          • klemz

            “This is plain and simple, if you disagree you believe in the socialist direction this country is headed in.”

            What? Who’s fighting corporations? As I said before, obviously its within the police powers of Congress to limit the constitutional rights of corporations because they’ve successfully done so before. step back and you’ll realize that this holding is pretty specific. The power to regulate political expenditures is not the power to destroy.

          • JC

            “if you disagree you believe in the socialist direction this country is headed in.”

            Nice to know we have to agree with gag me, or we’re socialists.

            Next he’ll be telling us that corporations have greater rights of expression than socialists.

            Since when did “social” become such a derogatory term? i hear nothing more than regurgitated McCarthyism and John Birchism going on here.

          • Not every corporation is this bad global juggernaut and furthermore how can we truly differentiate between a regular old corporation and one that is funded almost entirely by an activist billionaire.

            If you’re going to keep lying in such an atrocious manner ‘gag me’, then you’re really not worth arguing with. You have no facts upon which your opinions are based.

        • petetalbot

          Last time I checked, gag me, gays were people and as the preamble says: “We the people … .” (It doesn’t say, “We the corporations … .”)

          • gag me

            Wulfgar, what facts would you like? The facts about all corporations being bad or the one that shows George Soros giving over $15 million to moveon in the 2004 election. My friend, there is no need to lie, we are a world full of facts and bull.

          • JC

            What’s the difference between Soros’ contributions to MoveOn and Bob Perry’s donations to “Swift Veterans for Truth”? Absolutely nothing.

            But you mischaracterize Citizen’s United when you try and argue contributions.

            The case was about corporate expenditures. The right of corporations to spend as much money as they want to influence elections–not how much they can contribute to campaigns.

            Big, big difference.

          • Nice response, JC, but it still misses the point that ‘Gag Me’ is a simple partisan liar.

            In 2004, took in approximately $60 million in donations. George Soros has contributed about $1.5 million. Linda Pritzker has donated about 4 million, but you don’t see the butt puckered right bitching about that. It’s obvious that Gag Me is an ignoramus, but when he writes this:

            one that is funded almost entirely by an activist billionaire.

            then he’s showing himself to be a liar.

            Notice please, he avoids telling anyone what Soros is supposed to get for his money. That would lead him down a path I think he’s too scared to go.

          • gag me

            There is no difference with the two. It was 15 million. I don’t care, if he can do it so can anyone else. My point exactly, everyone has a voice.

  4. Big Swede

    I did a little experiment. I went to the Billings Gazette and did a advanced search of “Conrad Burns Abramoff”.

    What I got was 234 responses and after scrolling through those articles the majority were written in the few months preceding the Tester/Burns election. So many in frequency that for many weeks this fake scandal appeared every other day.

    But don’t take my word for it search it for yourselves.

    Lee Enterprises is a corporation, isn’t it?

    • JC

      Abramoff getting arrested and pleading guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials is a fake scandal?

      Or is the fact that Burns hasn’t been convicted of any wrongdoing in relation to Abramoff make it a fake scandal?

      B.S., you hang out with gutter material like Abramoff–and he and Burns did hang out–you’re going to be tarred and feathered as a politician.

      Sorry your boy got burned by hangin’ in the wrong crowd. But whether or not Burns did anything illegal, Montana voters decided they didn’t like his proximity to corrupt politics and criminals like Abramoff.

      So what’s your point about Lee being a corporation?

  5. gag me

    You guys are truly socialists, there is no two ways about it. You hate what our country is and what we do. I starting following this blog to better understand how you think and it is becoming clearer and clearer to me.

    I have the solution, you idiots take your perfect utopian society where everyone gets a long and sings kumbaya by the fire, ride their bikes to work (actually none of you would work) and has everything given to them by the government – take half the country, call it United States of Obama.

    I’ll take the other half that believe in hard work and the individual. I would guarantee you would be either bankrupt or demolished by terrorists within 5 years and looking for us to bail you out.

    Who do you think protects you from all that is bad out there. I am fairly sure it is american military people with american made planes and weapons made by american corporations. Are you using a computer, there is a good chance it has the name of an american company on it, oh yeah this internet thing – my guess is it is provided to you by an american company. You people are so damn blind!

    • JC

      You are blinded by your own delusional views of your fellow countrymen, gag me.

      And even if we were socialists, so what? Can’t Americans be socialists too? Or is it unpatriotic to have divergent views? Americans must hew to your narrow world view, or they aren’t worthy of everything that this country has to offer?

      You are prejudiced gag me, and think that your flag-waving ways are better than anybody else’s. Truth is, your view of America is an anachronism with little bearing in either the Constitution or law, judging from I ‘ve seen you write here. You have no idea what any of us are about outside of your preconceived notions of socialists vs. “real ‘mericans.”

      “So damn blind!”

      “But why lookest thou on the mote which is in the eye of thy brother, but perceivest not the beam which is in thine own eye?”

    • Your a friggin’ fascist.

  6. problembear

    now you listen to me gag, you little pissant. i owned and operated my own business. wrote paychecks for snot noses like you, worked 7 days a week 70-80 hours/week on average until big corporate box stores undersold my little mom and pop operation into insolvency….

    when you actually know something about hard work then and only then can you lecture me and tell me what i believe in. until then, i will tell you what i believe in: i believe in free enterprise. but the sort of monopolistic stranglehold that big corporations exert over this country’s dying economy has virtually killed the free enterprise system that you obviously romanticize about. those days are over. if you don’t believe me, just try to compete with them, and good luck getting a living wage out of them if you decide to go to work for them.

    you are a fool to trust that internationally owned corporations have your and this country’s best interest at heart. they are after as much money as they can steal from the treasury of this country before they move somewhere else to vaccuum up the spoils and leave you for dead.

    • problembear

      by the way-gag, you better bone up on your history if you are going to argue the true nature of what it is to have an idea of what the spirit of america is all about. it is about individual liberty which corporations despise. and it has been this way since the magna carta. aristocrats always manage to get serfs like you to pick up your sad little pitch forks and fight their battles for them. meanwhile they are robbing you and your country blind while your back is turned.

    • I’m sorry, but I have to break in here.

      That was gold. As good as the best of the very best of Olbermann.

      That’s all. Continue.

  7. problembear

    gag me. it is certainly your right to believe as you wish. in fact if you would like, i would be more than happy to drive you out to the frenchtown club where you can stand on a soap box that i will supply and i will hold your hat while you tell all the irish-owned smurfit corp workers just how much corporations are doing for our country…..

    please be aware that a good health care and hospitalization plan would be advisable before you agree to the trip though…

  8. I think that with the inclusion of “gag me” as our token demented wingnut, we can conclude that 4 & 20 has hit the big time. Craig does his linkapaloozas every now and again, Swede has his non-sequiters and off topic rambles, and Eric shows up every now and again to show us what willful stupidity really looks like. But No, GM is a full on hard-core freeper head case. Trust me, peeps, wear this like a badge of honor, you socialist hippies, you.

    With luck, y’all will soon be able to do your own version of the Saturday Hatemail-a-palooza. Believe me when I tell you, this is a good thing.

  9. Bobsthebeesknees

    Bob Brown is a great guy and should have been Governor instead of the Bloviator.

    But he had a 120lb blond gorilla on his back during the whole campaign.

    • Actually, it’s not what he had, it’s what he didn’t, and that was the votes. You might want to consider that before spewing such shit like :

      (Brown) should have been Governor instead of the Bloviator.

      Welcome to democracy and the rule of Constitution, pal. Enjoy your stay.

      • Bloviator's punching bag

        Was it cheap drugs, guns or dogs that got your vote?

        Because years later the Bloviator’s still only about his dog, his pickup and himself.

    • problembear

      i agree that mr. brown is a great guy. his stance on this issue is just one of many examples of his even-handedness and his honesty.

  10. gag me

    Brief history: I was adopted at a young at instead of being aborted. Started a business during college, failed. Started another, almost destroyed by big bad corporate america, innovated, improved, competed, sold business to competing corporate titan, made money, moved to montana (part time).

    Public school education for high school, private school in college (paid for it on my own) while working on my business. Enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Problembear, I am truly sorry for your struggles. However for every story like yours there is a story like mine. I guess I was either luckier, smarter, better looking or just simply better than you. But hey, that is America.

    On the bright side problembear, you actually seem somewhat intelligent, use it for something meaningful, my guess is if you used that emotion to compete you might still have the business today.

  11. gag me

    Its all about jealousy isn’t it. FYI, I have been fortunate enough to have met several Smurfit employees . . . great americans. its all true, i know it just pisses you off, how can someone actually succeed without someone else’s help. I am beginning to understand why you lost your business and honestly it might have made america a better place.

    • problembear

      no america is in the place it is because sellouts like you are willing to shill for aristocrats and laugh at the workers misfortune, as long as your pockets are full….

      you should write a book for us gag. tell us all how to live the american dream. just like old ben cartwright come down from the ponderosa and with great patronizing arrogance tell all the dirt farmers how to live….

      good luck with all that hubris you carry around.

    • Educate yourself before you insinuate that there was no support for Smurfit or even Stimson mill here at this blog.

      • Nobody makes it all by himself. Not even the most iconic self made fictional characters like Howard Roark.

        As for Smurfit, there was a lot of schadenfreude here, jh, from a couple of posters, who pointed out how the workers were paid a lot more and why should the poster, ahem, contributor, feel sorry for them, profiting as they were from the plunder of the forest and with all those even less fortunate to compare to.

        Ben Cartwright? Is that so last century, or what?

  12. gag me

    Are you all serious? I thought this blog was serious? What I am missing, and your damn right I am insinuating each of you are nothing compared to those poor people at smurfit. actually i shouldn’t say that, I don’t know any of you, but the smurfit people are good people. Too bad the unions screwed it up.

    I’m working on a book, you are all part of the project, I guess I should have mentioned that.

    can i get a response on my 2 americas idea? I am hoping to get support from folks like you that way neither of us will ever have to deal with each other ever again, well at least until you need our help.

    This is as happy as I have been in awhile, thanks to all and keep it up, it is excellent book material.

    • JC

      So I suppose you think Sir Michael Smurfit is just a fine fellow? That he deserves his, and the Smurfit employees deserve theirs?

      • gag me

        That is life, and as far as I am concerned whining gets you know where. In fact if you knew a damn thing then you would know that several of the smurfit employees are being picked up by . . . . . .wait for it . . . . . wait for it . . . . . . one more second. . . . . other corporations, although sadly enough, out of state. Montana is a horrible state to do business in, not very friendly (Take a look at this blog for example).

        By the way the guy running smurfit is pat more or something, I could give a shit about Sir Michael Smurfit. Yeah it sucks but it is just as much montana’s fault as it is his.

        • JC

          “That is life”

          You can’t have it both ways. Either you support the corporation and its playboy owner, or you support the workers.

          When the owner lays off his workers while he buys new yachts, invests in his golf course, and lives in a tax haven, well, you can be good with that, if you want.

          But don’t expect me to think your concerns for the workers is anything but a charade.

    • problembear

      you are the one making yourself the champion of corporate america here gag. go ahead and teach us all about how those corporations have made america strong for all of us…

      is it by their short-term greed leading to the worst recession since the great depression? or is it by lobbying congress to pay off all their debts because they are too big to fail?

      or is it the way mouthpieces like yourself spout about being self sufficient and working harder? all the while defending corporate america who just helped themselves to several bail-outs and then helped themselves to bonuses…

      tell me how i should feel bad about going broke while our grandkids are being robbed to make those bastards whole?

      go on. we’re listening about all the good things corporations do for us gag. enlighten us.

      • Ryan Morton

        which corporations are you talking about p-bear? NMCDC, MAEDC or Walmart, Inc? are corporations the new red scare or something?

        • problembear

          the corporations who have the power ryan are the ones that are the real threat which will destroy representative government on the federal level with unlimited ability to bribe our politicians thanks to the recent debacle of this supreme court decision. like j-girl said. some people actually still argue that anaconda was right….

          which of course is gag’s right. it is just that when a real fat duck flies over my blind and sets his wings in front of me like gag did with his obviously childish and ignorant belief in his vision of corporate america’s good intentions i can’t resist touching off both barrels….

          if you read the international news there is angry foment growing in the public accross spain and russia and sweeping accross all parties and all economic strata against the big world corporate ripoff/so-called free enterprise/aristocratic thievery while middle classes suffer more and more…

          there is anger out here in america against big corporations – health care leeches who bribe our politicians and then put the screws to us with higher rates…big banks who deserved to be bankrupt giving themselves big bonuses.

          there will be hell to pay when this giant in middle america wakes up. trust me.

          i am just taking pot shots compared to what will happen when america wakes up to who is really ripping them off.

          • gag me

            So is it about healthcare companies and banks or all of corporate america?

            Also, I truly don’t care about what your buddies in russia and spain are doing, this is the United States of America, we lead.

            My advice to you is to consider moving to one of these countries and join them. I’ve been to both, you would fit in well.

          • problembear

            advice? you do that too gag? is there no end to your talents?

            the middle class will know no boundaries when it awakens to the thievery and the dishonesty of your heroes mr gag.

            america fought and won against aristocracy once before…

    • Ryan Morton

      sounds like a crap book… and two americas? i’ve read that book, atlas shrugged. hated it. but if that’s what you want, see ya later!

    • problembear

      by the way gag- judging by the sample of writing you exhibit here, you might want to hire a pretty good ghostwriter and a roomful of good editors before shopping the missive…. just sayin. wouldn’t want you to ever fail at anything. might dent that glorious batting average of yours.

      • gag me


        • problembear

          you’re the one touting how great corporations are gag. you do the homework. i’ll reload….

        • JC

          What was it, $700 billion to Wall Street? Some pretty important corporations there that the free market system had to prop up to keep the world economy from failing.

          Glad they got them there first amendment rights so they can tell us all about it by buying the politicians that serviced them a new term in office.

          • gag me

            Um, what was it, something like $1 Trillion spent on social security and medicare/medicaid in 2009. Plus a good chunk of the $700 billion has been paid back, can’t exist in a world without an economy. I don’t mean to support the bailouts but once again to vilify all corporations for what a few did on wall street is irrational. Punish those who did wrong.

            How can we start selecting who is afforded first amendment protection and who isn’t? At the end of the day who are corporations? They are made up of shareholders, employees, customers, etc. . . . Do those voices mean anything to you?

          • JC

            Ok, so you’re up with the U.S. backing the risky behavior and welfare of corporations, and down with the U.S. backing the security of elderly and poor citizens.

            We get it gag me. You think corporations are superior beings, more worthy of protection.

            Constitutional protections, who gets them? That’s easy. Flesh and blooded citizens of this country.

            And what are corporations made up of? They’re made up of paper, money and power. They have no voices but the human ones that speak through them.

            The Declaration of Independence states:

            “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “

            The creator did not imbue corporations with a voice or with an unalienable right. Corporate law granted them an existence to serve people.

            But when certain people use their corporations wealth and power to lend a megaphone to their individual or collective voices, then it becomes necessary to regulate that corporate voice.

            You don’t have to agree, gag me. But when enough citizens see the damage that corporate personhood will do to their country–when the corporation becomes more powerful than the individual–then they will either amend the Constitution, or this country will fall.

  13. problembear

    haven’t had this much fun since last november, gag. but i have to go to work tomorrow. you keep coming back now.

    anyone else wants him i’m gonna have to pack up the decoys now 4 and 20 ers…. i leave the blind to you….

    • gag me

      you work? Lawyer, government employee, nonprofit director?

    • gag me

      JC, you are missing my point – you are generalizing all corporations. Despite what you might think, and I know you are smarter than this, it was a few large financial institutions that were, along with many other entities part of the global financial crisis.

      I never said nor do believe that corporations are superior. I do however believe they are important part of our country and to that end should have the right to be part of the election process.

      You actually made my point by saying “They have no voices but the human ones that speak through them” – Those human voices have no say via the corporation?

      As a side thought, do you think the financial crisis was soley a result of these corporations or did our government play any part?

      I truly appreciate your point of view, I am really just trying to understand. Thanks.

      • JC

        I generalize corporations because they are created and regulated similarly according to law. Sure, there’s different categories of corporations, but that’s besides the point.

        There is no such thing as a good corporation or a bad corporation. As with a gun, corporations are morally neutral entities. It is the person(s) in control of the corporation that lend it its identity. That person already has the same rights as those bestowed upon other persons. As with a gun, a bigger corporation does not give that person greater 1st (or 2nd) amendment rights.

        A gun does not have a right. It is but a tool by which an individual can exercise a right–it does not hold the right itself. Nor should a corporation hold the right to convey a person’s 1st amendment right–that is reserved to the individual–a corporation is a tool that can and should be regulated.

        Finance crisis? In a faux-free market where corporations have effectively transferred risk onto the public, you have to look at why the government (or the people) would allow that.

        The fault of the financial crisis is crony capitalism–where corporate interests and government become so entwined you cannot separate the two. And as long as crony capitalism reigns, you will never be able to reform the system so as to allow a free market to prevail.

        When corporations have access to unfettered government backing whether TARP or the Fed, why should they allow things to change so that they have to shoulder all the risks of their operations?

        The simple presence of all the vulgar bonuses that Wall Street is handing out attests to the pleasure by which they indulge themselves at the public trough, and government acquiescence.

        • gag me

          I actually agree with virtually everything below the gun paragraph, frankly you lost me there. Not sure how the 2 can be compared in the realm of election finance rules and rights.

          Most corporations pay taxes, guns do not. If you are a tax paying entity then surely you deserve a say. I think it is safe to say that this is where we can agree we to disagree, both arguments have some validity.

          That being said, I have no problem with your thesis if we can make all corporations tax free entities.

          • JC

            Corporations don’t pay taxes.The people who own them do. Whether it’s shareholders, owners or members, it is they who sign the checks to the IRS.

            It is an illusion that corporations have any characteristics of individuals. People want to anthropomorphize corporations. We may as well say “dog” and then give canines all of the things corporate 1st amendment protectionistas want to.

            “My dog has the right to bark as much and as loud as he wants!” Well, no he doesn’t. There are laws to regulate that.

            “My dog pays taxes. See that license on his collar?” Well, no, he doesn’t pay taxes. HIs owner does.

            “My dog bit my neighbor, it’s his fault, not mine.” Well, no. Liability again rests with the owner.

            There is absolutely no difference between a corporation and a dog, as far as first amendment rights go, in my opinion.

            But at least a dog is warm and fuzzy and loyal, and gives me a thank you when I reward him for a job well done.

            When’s the last time a Wall Street corporation has done that for you?

  14. gag me

    Corporations don’t pay taxes? Sorry man, they do, as well as the shareholders and other owners. You can debate how they pass it down to consumers and blah, blah, blah but the fact remains they write checks to Federal, State and Local governements. Didn’t I just hear about how Smurfit owes missoula money, what is that exactly? I am fairly sure it is not a charitable gift.

    • JC

      “They write checks”

      Who is the “they” that is writing a check. A corporation is a figment of a piece of paper. It is not a corporeal being that has the ability to write anything.

      Again, you’re anthropomorphizing a bloodless, soulless artifact of law.

      Without a person to wield the pen to write the check, a corporation could not pay a cent of taxes.

      Again, I defer to Lassie, the wonder dog who saved all of those made-for-tv lives. Lassie made a lot of money. Yet her empire was controlled by a corporation–a corporation with a person at the helm, and who signed the checks.

      Yet I would not say that Lassie has any first amendment rights. Why should a legal construct built around her success and fame be allowed to do so?

      Is it fair to say that Lassie pays taxes? Or is it the corporation surrounding her? Or is it the owner who writes the check that pays the tax?

      For me the answer is simple. It is the flesh and blooded that owns the corporation and signs the check that pays the tax.


      This is the basic philosophical difference between factions in Citizen’s United. Some people want to create corporations in their own image with all the rights and privileges attendant to citizenship.

      Most of the rest of us see through this fallacy and intuitively know that a corporation should not be granted the rights and privileges of citizenship, and should remain a simple, and passive construct of law intended to serve the people, not compete with them for rights.

      • Ryan Morton

        “For me the answer is simple. It is the flesh and blooded that owns the corporation and signs the check that pays the tax.


        So, humans pay corporate taxes and own the corporations but don’t make corporate speech? The corporation – the figment of our legal imagination – can speak but not pay taxes? I’m confused.

        • JC

          “corporate speech”

          There is no such thing. There is individual speech. The corporation is just a megaphone amplifying the voice of its owners and executives.

          Nothing more.

          I’ve been watching that new scifi show called Caprica. One of the plots is where this wealthy and powerful corporate owner creates an avatar and transplants the memories of his daughter into it, and it gains a semblance of consciousness.

          Take that avatar, and incorporate it. Teach it how to write and sign checks. Teach it how to make its own ads for tv. Then give it first amendment rights to speak freely. Maybe some second amendment rights to defend itself. Maybe the right to vote.

          Where does it stop? And where does that leave the flesh and blooded?

          I realize that is taking it to a stretch.

          But for many of us that stretch started by giving a non-living entity a first amendment right. If you see the rest of my hypothetical as silly, then defend your 1st amendment argument for corporate rights using your same reasoning.

  15. problembear

    gag me is right about one thing. of course not all corporations are evil. but that is not the point of this original post. the point of the post is that this supreme court ruling gives corporations more power over our democratic process and that cannot be considered a good thing by anyone reasonable.

    rewarding bad behavior only encourages more of it… anyone who has raised a three year old can testify to that. giving corporations more freedom to bribe our politicians will only produce more messy situations like the one we are trying to dig ourselves out of and more temper tantrums from the three year old who doesn’t get his way.

    the question is will we continue to reward bad behavior. gag me says yes. give them all the ice cream they want until they throw up on the rug again…. and we are asked to clean it up.

    • gag me

      Valid point but you are merely assuming that this gives corporations more power over our democratic process. You do not know that anymore than I know or don’t know that, we are both assuming. If we elect the right people into office, with the right moral character, regardless of being liberal or conservative we should not be concerned – but we should welcome all perspectives.

      Everyone (and to beat this to death, I believe corporations should be included) has a voice in America.

      I’m done – nevertheless interesting debate.

      • JC

        “If we elect the right people into office, with the right moral character, regardless of being liberal or conservative we should not be concerned”

        So you’re assuming that access to power does not corrupt the righteous politician?

        Conversely, when you believe this sort of thing, then it is never the politician who is responsible for his corrupt behavior–it is the voter who elected him.

        I think the history of elected officials in this country would lead one to believe that it is nigh impossible to come up with enough politicians to meet your lofty goal.

  16. problembear

    reasonable people usually assume that money equals power. it is childish to believe otherwise. your faith in good upstanding candidates somehow winning against corporate sponsored candidates with more money to spend on tv ads is naive and unbelievable.

    the voice of america should not be the voice with the most money. it should be the voice of the people.

  17. problembear

    that last sentence should read… the voice of america should not be the voice with the most money, it should be be the voice of the majority of the people.

    right now money drowns out the majority. that is what is the essence of what we are talking about here gag- and as we all know money is the root of all evil.

  18. gag me

    So effectively you are saying we need a classless society? I am fairly sure people still vote, not corporations.

  19. gag me

    No one in this society deserves any more or any less than any one else. What you earn or do not earn is what you deserve, if it leads to political influence and that is what you choose, so be it. However because this a democracy everyone has that same opportunity. That is what makes this country so great.

  20. problembear

    but please gag me….you’re the one with all the answers. please preach to us some more about that tiny fraction of america that agrees with you ….

  21. gag me

    Come on, don’t play the poll game.

    Come on, free speech is free speech.

  22. problembear

    don’t tell me or anyone else what to do here you pompous bag of nothing…..

  23. problembear

    “More specifically, 61% of Americans think the government should be able to limit the amount of money individuals can contribute to candidates and 76% think it should be able to limit the amount corporations or unions can give.”

    pulled that quote right out of your link gag.

    choke on it.

    • problembear

      80 % or 76% ? take your pick… i like those odds gag.

      doesn’t look like you and your band of crazies has a lot of company over there.

  24. problembear

    The 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case underscores the tension between protecting free speech and giving certain groups or individuals undue influence over election campaigns. Another poll question asked Americans to weigh the two considerations and say which is the greater priority for them: placing limits on how much individuals, corporations, and unions can contribute to campaigns or protecting the rights of these groups to freely support political campaigns. By 52% to 41%, Americans say placing limits on contributions is paramount for them.

    more quotes from your link gag….

    are you gagging yet?

  25. problembear

    that last salvo seems to quiet gag down considerable…..

    eating ones own links can take awhile gag….

    take your time. i’m always here for you….. reloading.

  26. gag me

    you are a bitter man, all that anger because you lost your precious little store to corporate america. My point is campaign money is free speech, that is what the supreme court decided and that is what that poll indicates.

    polls are the most ridiculous things in the world, hell most americans can’t even identify montana on a map yet we should all have faith in a random poll of people that were most likely interrupted during an intense night of watching american idol. Give me a break.

  27. problembear

    this one’s for j-girl….

  28. commonsense

    First off corporations are entities, NOT people! Everyone within a corporation should absolutely be able to have a voice and therefore, be protected under the 1st amendment whether or not they are speaking on behalf of themselves or the corporation has paid them to speak on behalf of it’s interests. What is NOT ok, however, and this is why the SCOTUS decision was a bad one, is to go one step further to basically classify the corporation (an entity) as a person yet not apply any of the campaign finance restrictions (i.e. campaign donation limits, American citizen requirements, etc.) that apply to those within the corporation and every other PERSON.

    Meaning that any one giant corporation (GE, Haliburton, Exxon, etc.) can spend more than the entire electorate on every candidate it wants if it so chooses while individuals are still limited to a maximum $2,300/candidate whether or not the corporation is mostly owned by the Chinese, the Iranians, (insert country name here), ships it’s operations overseas (creating all those good paying AMERICAN jobs); or simply just continues to rape (too strong of word?) and pillage the AMERICAN people for every cent they have so they can maximize their profits as quickly as possible so they pay (b)millions of dollars in executive bonuses instead of (how does the Republican’s prized trickle down theory go?) investing it in their AMERICAN workers or expanding their operations to create AMERICAN jobs. Instead of the “Senator from Montana” we’ll have the “Senator from ExxonMobile!, Aetna, etc.”

    The truth is, some of these giant corporations have damn near bankrupted this country (if we aren’t considered bankrupt already) by shipping their jobs overseas, buying their raw material overseas (GM/Stillwater Mine), and inflating the price of their goods and services charging AMERICANS more for the exact same products you can get cheaper in other countries (prescription drugs).

    Gag me, you come here telling people they are unAMERICAN and should move to some other country but really, if these are the principles that you Republicans proudly proclaim yourselves to be “true” AMERICANS, real patriots, over…you are nothing but a FACIST and as UNAMERICAN as they come!!!

    • JC

      Remember that the case was about expenditures, not contributions. While individuals may be limited to a $2300 contribution, we can spend as much ourselves as we want. We can produce our own ads, and pay 10’s of thousands to air them, for instance.

      What this case will mean, is that corporations can expend unlimited money on elections directly, instead of having to funnel them through more traditional conduits like a 527 organization or a PAC. They don’t have to set up a front for their campaign activities anymore.

  29. gag me

    what is truly sick is that none of you have faith in the American people. we the people still elect our officials. if a corporation (which you all seem to claim have no rights), whether public or private, made of people (as most of you contest) wants to spend all of their money in order to exert their influence, I contest there is no problem with that, they still have to convince the voting public. Last time I checked a $100 bill did not walk into the voting booth and voted. IT IS FREE SPEECH!!!!!!!!!

    Furthermore, I am not sure what planet you live on, but money is not unlimited. SOME corporations are to blame for almost bankrupting this world, but so was our government with failed/misguided policies of both the Clinton and bush admin.

    You guys are just way too bitter, get the chip off your shoulder.

  30. gag me

    i have changed my mind, you are right. Get rid of the corporations, give the people everything they need, take away the capitalist incentive, limit free speech, get rid of the wealthy. my eyes are opened, I am humbled. I recognize now where I went wrong in my thinking – what really turned me however was I learned that corporations do not pay taxes, I was way screwed up.

    We are not a society of equals, no one is born with the same chances and opportunities.

    We should be confident that the government knows best.

    Global warming is going to kill us.

    Healthcare is a right.

    Capitalism is bad.

    Guns have no place in our society.

    Al Gore was screwed in 2004 by the supreme court.

    What else? I am like a sponge soaking this up, I feel liberated already.

    • JC

      You’re not soaking up what we’re saying, that’s for sure:

      1) Nobody has advocated getting rid of corporations, doing away with capitalist incentives, limiting individual free speech, or getting rid of the wealthy. These are all preconceived notions of yours about what we say

      2) Society of equals? On paper maybe, sorta. But when many are born with a silver spoon, and some are born with a different skin color in the ghetto, no we don’t agree that that is to be “born with the same chances and opportunities.”

      There are different starting points in life. After that the law attempts to level the playing field. But those who start off life with an advantage end up succeeding at a greater rate.

      3) Most of us are skeptics about government competency, though realize that the government is more competent than the private market when it comes to things like health care insurance. Where the private market has failed (elderly, the poor and disabled, children, and veterans) the government has succeeded (Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, and VA).

      4) Global warming is not going to directly kill us. The consequences of warming will have widespread effects that will have varied, though predictable results: climate change, increased storm intensity, geopolitical strife, population migration, altered food production, loss of species and biodiversity.

      5) None of us are absolutists when it comes to guns, and I’d say that most of us own guns and hunt, or support those in our family or friends who do. Some of us have guns for protection. What sets us apart form you, is that we agree that to a degree there should be regulations covering gun ownership.

      6) Al Gore lost his election in 2000, not 2004, because the Supreme Court intervened in the election and didn’t allow votes to be counted in Florida. Bush lost the popular vote, and would have lost Florida and the election had not the Court stopped the counting of people’s votes.

      What else?

      You need to wring the sponge out first before you try to start soaking anything up with it. Otherwise you end up with a dripping mess sorta like the one you set out above.

      • gag me

        This is good, it is what needed.

        1)Thanks for the clarification

        2)How do we solve this? I’m born into a wealthy family (silver spoon) johnny is born cross town to crackhead mom – how do we level this out?

        3)Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, and VA are successful (Before I thought the exact opposite, I guess it is kind of like that corporate tax mistake I was making)

        4)No setting apart, I am learning

        5) Electoral college = bad

        I am trying to wring out the sponge, you are helping!

        What else?

  1. 1 Maybe I Changed My Mind… « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] light of our current discussion over Constitutional rights for non-humans, I thought that with this week’s change in policy for carrying weapons in National Parks, that […]

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