Archive for the ‘Corporate Personhood’ Category

by jhwygirl

Jim Brown, a Dillon attorney, chief legal council for the Montana Republican Party and executive board member, and legal representative for American Tradition Partnership is pretty proud of his defeat of Montana’s 100 year old ban on corporate funding of elections here in Montana – here he is boasting on Bozeman’s once-and-future state representative JP Pomnichowski’s facebook page:

Brown’s a hypocrite. Just like a lot of stuff we saw from the big government GOP this last session in the Montana state capitol, Brown is proud of his role undermining Montana’s constitution, yet back in May he whined about a commissioner of political practices ruling which allows parties to spend an unlimited amount of cash on staff and other similar services towards a candidates campaign.

Sounds to me like Brown takes all this election law stuff as some sort of game to be won (or lost), regardless of the consequences. Bad for him to lose at the commission of political practices when it involves unlimited money, but somehow great for everyone when it involves the U.S. Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate money.

It’s good to see how clearly the Montana Republic Party positioned itself with regards to undermining Montana’s constitutional ban on corporate funding of elections. It’s chief legal counsel representing the party which sued the state on election law?

Republicans around these parts want to preach and lecture and champion the constitution, yet they’ve no respect for Montana’s. History means nothing, and our forefathers tonight are spinning in their graves.

While the Copper King zombies start plotting their return to state and national politics.

Government is FUBAR, people. FUBAR.

The Montana GOP? Disgraceful.

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By Pete Talbot

Topsy-turvey city council election. Disappointed by the Ward 2 Walzer/Hertz results but I’ll wait for the recount.

More on the council races later. Right now, I’m celebrating the landslide referendum outcome. Seventy-five freakin’ percent! Reminds me why I live here.

By JC

It was only a matter of time till people started coming to the same conclusion that many of us have made recently, that there may be more overlap between the tea party and OccupyWallStreet than is readily apparent. James Sinclair over at howconservativesdrovemeaway draws an interesting comparison of the two movements:

We should pay less attention to the individual lunatics, and more attention to what a movement is really about. Occupy Wall Street, at its core, is a reaction to the increasing power and influence of large corporations. The Tea Party, at its core, is a reaction to the government’s constant interference with private enterprise. But wait a minute—aren’t those things connected?

Bailouts, subsidies, tax breaks, special rights and privileges, regulations designed to restrict competition—to name a few of the many ways the government protects and stimulates corporate interests, and those things are every bit as anti-free market as, not to mention directly related to, the high taxes and excessive bureaucracy that gets Tea Partiers riled up. In other words, aren’t these two groups—Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party—raging against different halves of the same machine? Do I have to draw a Venn diagram here?

Oh, alright, I’ll draw a Venn diagram:

While I might quibble with his characterizations of the two, the important part of his analysis is the following:

Yeah, I’m oversimplifying, but only a little. The greatest threat to our economy is neither corporations nor the government. The greatest threat to our economy is both of them working together. There are currently two sizable coalitions of angry citizens that are almost on the same page about that, and they’re too busy insulting each other to notice.

The overlap between corporations and government — the intertwining of corporations and government — is a fundamental feature of creeping fascism in this country. And it will be the undoing of this country if it isn’t stopped.

We all have been educated about the 3 branches of government, and the separation of powers between the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. What the OccupyWallStreet movement needs to do is illuminate the need for another separation of powers, one between corporations and the government’s other three branches.

Congress and the Courts over the years have created a de facto 4th power in this country. Now the people need to raise up and separate it from the other three branches.

By JC
(This is but the opinion of one Occupier in Solidarity, and not the consensus of OccupyMissoula) 

Many people do not understand what the Occupy movement is all about, and preconceptions and prejudices abound. I have spent most of the last two weeks working to understand this movement and help organize OccupyMissoula. I’m not sure why I stuck my neck out, and devoted all my time, but it has changed the way I look at politics, movements, and my community.

In the words of an elderly gentleman I have known and respected for the 25 years I have lived in Missoula, “this is the most important movement I have seen since the the Great Depression.”

Similarly, last night I had the honor to meet 4 young high school students who had decided to put on suits and come down to the County Court House and OccupyMissoula to “check things out.” We had a great conversation and I felt inspired that our youth feel the same concerns that our more experienced community members do, and felt compelled to participate, and to write about their experience (one of them was a writer for their high school’s newspaper).

It took an article in no less than Fox News, tweeted across the internet in a “Holy Shit” moment to put it all into perspective for me: “The key isn’t what protesters are for but rather what they’re against.” Continue Reading »

 
When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. — Dave Graeber in The Guardian

By JC

One has to look overseas to get some perspective on the movement that is growing in Liberty Plaza just a few blocks away from Wall Street and the World Trade Center. Mainstream American media has turned a jaundiced eye away from the true happenings in NY City. Instead, we will get a few sound bites and scenes of arrests, as the media always looks to the confrontation, instead of the substance of any protest movements on the left. Some of the media will attack them for who they are, posing them as juveniles in nothing more than an extension of their culture wars.

#OccupyWallSt and its rapidly expanding national movement Occupy Together, with occupations in over 52 locations across the country, are truly an organic grassroots organization. They are not faux grassroots pretenders like the Koch brothers’ funded rebranding of the activist right wing GOP and conservative movement as tea partiers. There is little doubt remaining that the tea party only serves as cover for corporatist America and a distraction for the media, so they can ignore the real revolution that is growing in America.

The UK’s Guardian News and Al Jazeera have done vastly better jobs covering the emerging movement as it grows from the ideas of a few organizations like Adbusters, Anonymous and the U.S. Day of Rage.

The following quote from an article in The Guardian clearly examines the birth of the #OccupyWallSt movement as a generational movement built out of other similar movements of the last 40 years. So we undoubtedly will get a bunch of pejorative statements about how they protesters are all young, or unemployed, or college kids, or lgbt, or dress funny, or homeless… And that is exactly why they are protesting. Because our society no longer takes their concerns or needs seriously

Why are people occupying Wall Street? …

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

This movement springs directly out of the anti-globalisation, global justice, and anti-transnational/WTO corporate rallies and protests of the last few decades. Take a look at the protests and accompanying police brutality, and it all begins to look familiar.

The response from the police, and lack of interest from mainstream corporate media and the corporations they are protecting will only serve to amplify the call out to people to join this movement.

When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. Thirty years of relentless prioritising of propaganda over substance, and snuffing out anything that might look like a political basis for opposition, might make the prospects for the young protesters look bleak; and it’s clear that the rich are determined to seize as large a share of the spoils as remain, tossing a whole generation of young people to the wolves in order to do so. But history is not on their side.

We might do well to consider the collapse of the European colonial empires. It certainly did not lead to the rich successfully grabbing all the cookies, but to the creation of the modern welfare state. We don’t know precisely what will come out of this round. But if the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination, as in those first weeks after September 2008, everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favour anyone possibly can.

Is there any question as to why a whole generation is coalescing together to rise up against an establishment that seeks to disempower and repress them? “Grown-ups” will dismiss all of this as idealist leftist propaganda and poo-poo it, and attempt to ridicule and cast it aside. Remember the “don’t trust anyone over 30” mantra of the 60’s protest movement? Payback is a mo-fo. But this movement will not wither in the night, nor will hundreds or thousands of arrests deter it. The only thing that will assuage this movement will be when their voices are heard, and America changes.

Yes, Wall Street is our street. And that point will be hammered home until its ivory tower denizens and police protecters are brought back down to earth.

Feel free to post your favorite article or resource about #OccupyWallSt. We’ll keep posts like this going for the duration of the occupation, so that we can keep abreast of what is going on.

 
“This is a question of whether American democracy itself can beat back a corporate takeover”
— Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula

By JC

I’ll let the voices of a few of Missoula’s leaders in support of amending the U.S. Constitution to restrict corporate “personhood” tell the story (from behind the paywall at a local chapter of a national corporate newspaper chain):

University of Montana professor Vicki Watson thanked the council for bringing the referendum forward and said she wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an official message it erred. She said extending civil rights to corporations “makes a mockery of our sacred human rights.”

“Corporations do not bleed or feel pain. They can’t die in an unsafe workplace,” Watson said.

Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, said she pitched a similar piece of legislation in Helena, and she heard support from Democrats and Republicans all across the state. Hill noted Montana history is laced with stories of big money, such as the Copper Kings, buying influence.

“This is a question of whether American democracy itself can beat back a corporate takeover,” Hill said.

Mary Stranahan… said putting power back into the hands of the people is a huge matter. She encouraged people to seek more information about the national movement from The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, www.celdf.org.

“I think this is one of the most important issues we as a country face in trying to preserve what democracy we have,” Stranahan said.

And to those of you who complained in the comments of my last post on this issue, that the City Council should attend to more important matters, you got your wish: they also approved spending $188,829 on a machine to fill pot holes.

I’m just back from several days of vacation on a (mostly) deserted lake somewhere in NW Montana (and aching legs to prove it), and I’ll have much more to say about this issue in the future. One point I’d like to focus on is the stance that Missoula’s other newspaper publisher (and I presume many other newspapers) has taken in opposition to the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to reserve 1st Amendment rights to the flesh and blooded. That somehow that would affect the 1st Amendment’s bedrock protection of freedom of the press.

I think that debate is a very worthy one to have. What is at stake is not just the fallout from Citizen’s United, but future fallout from a concerted effort by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his activist wife Virginia to reconstruct the Constitution to adhere to an originalist’s (and Tea Party) view that is more in concert with the will of the “Founders.”

 
“Corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as human beings”
— Cynthia Wolken, Missoula City Councilwoman

By JC

Hot on the heals of the “Running on Empty” corporate push to consolidate power in the states, Missoula’s newest Councilwoman, Cynthia Wolken, has introduced a Resolution in Missoula City Council to have the City join with communities across the land calling for a Constitutional Amendment opposing corporate personhood.

Wolken’s Resolution was heard and approved in the Council of the Whole yesterday, and moves to the full City Council at its regular meeting next Monday night. Wolken was quoted behind a paywall in the local affiliate of a corporate newspaper chain as saying:

“I heard an overwhelming sense of despair about government,” Wolken said Wednesday. People don’t believe their voices are heard, especially at the state and federal levels, she said. And they believe campaign dollars are distorting democracy…

“A lot of people feel what they say doesn’t matter because somebody with more money will come along and drown out their voices,” she said at a Committee of the Whole meeting.

She is asking the Missoula City Council to place on the 2011 ballot a referendum to push the Montana Legislature and the U.S. Congress to amend the Constitution and declare “corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as human beings.

“The city of Missoula, unfortunately, can’t fix this problem, but we can give our constituents a voice at the local level to say how they feel about it,” Wolken said.

Wolken’s Resolution represents Missoula’s local entry into a larger national movement focalized by groups like Move to Amend that are pushing for a Constitutional Amendment:

On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.

* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate “preemption” actions by global, national, and state governments.

The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. We Move to Amend.

Move to Amend is chock full of resources intended to help local activists organize and fight in your community and state against corporate personhood. Check it out and get organized and fight the behemoth!

And right on Cynthia! It’s great to see the new Councilwoman in my old ward take up the good fight and carry on the torch! Get your rearends down to City Council Monday night and show your support for Cynthia in her quest to lead Missoula into the national fight against corporate personhood and domination in American politics.

And don’t forget to listen to the great editorial on Montana Public Radio last year by Brian Muldoon describing Citizen’s United and the history of corporate “personhood.”

Text of Resolution after the jump:
Continue Reading »




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