Tim McMullen's Missives and Tomes

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Time to Start Putting the "Corporate Person" Behind Bars

Consider signing this petition which endorses 5 new laws, suggested by Representative Alan Grayson, that would help to bring some sanity back to our political system and reign in the corporate criminals and their political graft that have nearly destroyed our system.


The only difference between Bernie Madoff and hundreds of other corporate criminals is that after years of hearing about his abuses, they had incontrovertible evidence, so the Justice department chose to act. Remember the mantra, "Too Big to Fail." The addendum is "Too Big to Prosecute."

As many of you know, I have been ranting for some years about the travesties of corporate deregulation and the devastating hoax of the anti-tax, "free market" fraud that has eroded the efficacy of our fundamental institutions and transferred a huge portion of our national and international wealth to an immoral, multi-national, corporate elite while shifting most of the financial burdens to the middle and lower classes.

Now, in the wake of the most recent economic meltdown of the banking and insurance industries and other financial institutions—a crash that has decimated the life savings and retirement accounts of most in the middle class—the Supreme Court of the United States (a 5-4 majority of political ideologues bought and paid for by corporate money) has now changed the rules completely. They have basically declared that the American people have no right to regulate the control that Big Business has over our political process nor the politicians that they buy and the self-serving laws that the corporate lobbyists push through.

Remember, this configuration of the Supreme Court would not exist if the Supreme Court itself, under the leadership of the most hypocritical "injustice" of the past 100 years, Justice Antonin Scalia, had not stolen the election from Al Gore and handed it to George Bush. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito (That's not true!), two of the gang of five, would not be on this court! In Bush v. Gore, Justice Stevens, in a stinging rebuke to the majority said, "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." How prophetic are those words now as we see these two help to finalize a corporate hijacking of our entire political system.

Chief Justice Rose Bird of the California Supreme Court was impeached and driven from office, ostensibly because she did not support the death penalty; ironically, her successors on the court did not uphold it any more than she did, but they were not impeached. No, she was really taken down by national corporate interests because they were unhappy with a series of opinions over which she presided that supported the liberties and rights of the individual over the criminal machinations of the corporations. Since then, these corporate interests have continued to run roughshod over the rights and interests of workers and citizens in this country.

Why was Governor Gray Davis of California impeached for a comparatively small economic glitch brought on by the malfeasance of Enron and other energy companies which the Bush administration had refused to regulate, especially after the mechanisms that Davis put into play had actually staunched the bleeding, whereas Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has overseen a financial debacle ten times worse, has faced no impeachment furor? It's simple. He supports the rights of corporations to pillage and plunder with impunity.

This recent Supreme Court decision must be fought by every means possible. One of the fundamental findings in Bush v. Gore was that the Florida court had overruled the intentions of the duly elected legislature. That finding by the Supreme Court was very debatable, but it is certainly not debatable in Citizens United v. FEC. For 100 years the American people, through their legislators, have sought to thwart the undue influence of corporations in the political process. This most recent court decision has patently disregarded the interests and intentions of that 100-year effort of the American people by creating a bizarre distortion of personhood and conveying it to corporations. [More to come on this "corporate person." When the first board of directors of a company that knowingly sold a defective product is found guilty of manslaughter or conspiracy to commit pre-meditated murder, a legal theory that I think we should now pursue with all due speed—here we come Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito—they may want to begin to rethink this "corporate person" fiction.]

I urge you to consider signing the petition sponsored by Credo to stop the corporate hijacking of our government.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

This Little Light...

It has been slightly more than a year since I posted this on our "Extended Family Blog," but with the victory of the Republican's "41st" senator in the same week that the Supreme Court of the United States handed down the most egregiously game-changing political decision in a century, this little observation seems alarmingly prophetic. Check it out to see how far we haven't come!

Carolyn is so excited about the inauguration: we have a little shrine to Obama where our regular seasonal displays go. We not only do Christmas and New Years, but we do Valentines Day, St. Patrick's, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year (our niece was adopted from China), etc. Right now the display is one half Aunt Pearl and Bijou (they both passed on two years ago—AP at 102 and Bijou at nearly 18) and we have a great decoupage Christmas plate that has a photo of Aunt Pearl holding Bijou in her lap. To counterbalance that display is a photoshop photo that Carolyn found on the internet of MLK and Barack Obama together. Finally, she has an 8-10 photo of Obama in a frame. At night it has a little battery-powered light turned on it so that it glows brightly in the dark. It is the same kind of light that we have lighting up the Buddha. So we have Buddha and Obama and Aunt Pearl and Bijou all shining in the dark.

I am a hopeful cynic. He is, after all, just a politician, and even if his heart and his mind are in the right place—which, I believe, they are—the irrational ideologies that have replaced reason and human feeling are so deeply entrenched that it may take several generations to change our course. Obviously, it is much easier to decimate and destroy than to repair and restore. The last 8 years (and much of the last 30) have been bent on destroying principles of fairness, justice, equality, peace, and individual freedom while championing greed, corruption, violence, and a gleeful dismantling of the social safety net. It seems to be a complete perversion of Emerson's "Self Reliance": privilege and power rig the system ("pay to play" legislatures and courts defend corporate machinations at the expense of workers and consumers); then the privileged and the powerful demand to be left alone to plunder (aka deregulation and "free markets"); at the same time, those who work hard their whole lives to earn what some CEO makes in a month can have it squeezed away from them by increased health and energy costs, corporate reneging on pensions and benefits, and market manipulation and fraud. What is worse, media consolidation and deregulation has allowed this "bill of goods" to be sold as"Gospel" and to become established wisdom.

I remain skeptically hopeful that we can slowly move to a renewed vision of social progress and freedom and a new definition of Americanism that replaces "Because we can" with "Because it's right." As Thoreau said, "I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government." He also said, "It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience." By the same token, a society of conscientious people is a society with a conscience. I still believe that such a vision can be accomplished, but it will be a long, hard road. Perhaps President Obama can help us begin the journey. We will leave our little lights on for a while yet.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Question to Democratic Leaders: How Can We Make Ourselves Look More Stupid, Ineffectual, and Unprincipled?

From my page on the Democratic Blog: http://my.democrats.org/page/community/blog/timmcmullen

Political cowardice and unprincipled capitulation in the name of pragmatism are impulses that have often caused the Democratic Party to implode. The leaders of the Democratic Party and the grass root supporters of progressive principles need to use the tools at our disposal to pass the most progressive legislation possible.

Horribly compromised or eviscerated legislation is doomed to failure, which is precisely the Republican tactic. Get the Democrats to gut their own proposals and adopt some of the worst of the Republican and Republicrat proposals in the name of consensus building and bipartisanship; then, to a person, Republicans vote against these very compromises. In this way Democrats are coerced and conned into voting for debauched legislation that will ultimately fail, whereas the Republicans can point to the garbage and say, "We were against it!" Pathetically, you Democratic lawmakers fall for it every time.

So stop capitulating! Stop wringing your hands and saying you don't have enough votes. Use the tools at your command to live up to your principles and do what's right. Your battle cry has got to be, "LET THEM TRY TO STOP US!" instead of what appears to be our current motto, "How can we help them make us look stupid, ineffectual, and unprincipled while allowing the United States of Amnesia to perpetually and instantly forget or ignore the fact that it was and is the failed principles and policies of the Republicans and their corporate sponsors that have gotten us into all the messes that we are in!"

Our current grotesquely skewed and unnatural "Supreme" Court, a 5-4 fiasco that was carefully manufactured and purchased by the Republicans over the past forty years, has just handed the criminal corporations one of the most absurd and indefensible decisions in memory. In the future it will be held in as much contempt as the Taney decision: a piece of unprincipled partisan political hokum that is absurd on its face. Nevertheless, corporations will now be able to buy elections like they never have before. Just imagine how much harder it will be in the future to pass any legislation that protects the individual from the corporate criminal. WE MUST ACT NOW!

You Democratic leaders have held back long enough! Haul out the steamroller like they did after 9/11! You had a mandate, but you are losing it daily by letting the Nelsons and the Liebermans and the Limbaughs and the Snowes make you look like ineffectual nincompoops.

Look, you've lost your precious sixty votes, so now do it right. Strip Joe Lieberman of any influence he has. Take away every chairmanship. Demote him NOW—today; do the same to anyone who stood in the way of this legislation in either house. Let them take on their true colors and admit that they are Republicans if they dare. For at least ten months, you will still have a majority. Consider how a public drubbing of the turncoat Lieberman and his ilk would energize the Democratic and progressive base. You might actually have an answer to the manufactured "tea bag" bull.

Get healthcare done immediately by every legal means possible and move on to other important issues like truly regulating the banking and insurance industries, and passing a constitutional amendment to curb corporate power and to counter the most scurrilously activist supreme court in history. This advice is not impractical—it is eminently pragmatic, certainly more pragmatic than the systematic failure we have pursued up to now.
Tim McMullen