Ingots of Speech

January 22, 2012

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Here are a couple of questions every one of us should be asking ourselves because our future hangs upon their answers:

1. Is money speech? and 2. Are corporations people?

Our answers to these questions are more fundamental to the survival of the United States as a democratic republic than most others, because if speech is money and you don’t have enough, practically speaking you might as well be as tongueless as a slug. And if corporations are people, with their vast profits of “speech” and clauses of cash you might as well strap on a yoke, moo at your fellow oxen and resign yourself to mutely pull plows and haul water on the plantations of the biggest mouths among us.

Until the Supreme Court took possession of the concepts, throttled and whipped the life out of them and hung them like trophies on pikes on the road to the prosperity of the few, “speech” had to do with utterances, and “people” were understood to have blood running through veins, breath through lungs and a potential for compassion in their hearts.

The absurdity of corporate personhood began when the Justices of the Supreme Courts of 1819 and 1886 (in the cases of Dartmouth College vs. Woodward and Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad, respectively) tore a page from Genesis, reached down together, grabbed handfuls of the muck of privilege, formed a likeness of themselves and breathed life into it.

Paraphrasing a line from the Old Testament, “So The Court created corporations in its own image, in the image of Privilege It created them, un-man and un-woman It created them.”

Then, adding insult to injury (to those who until then had been the only God-endowed persons on earth), the Court (again aping God, but this time verbatim) said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.” Which is exactly what corporations have been up to since day one. So now we’re left to battle wealth-addicted zombies who prowl the earth for whatever they can suck-up through straws of rolled greenbacks all the while doling War-and-Peace-sized fictions of “free speech” to politicians.

By the clout of ingots of speech do they suck.

This all falls into the category of laws-are-made-first–for-the-folks-who-wrote-them-or-their-providers.

Laws may be laws but interpretations rule. In fact the Fourteenth Amendment to the constitution (which the Supreme Court of 1886 so cynically corrupted to create the “corporate person”) refers to, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…,” then goes on to spell out what privileges and immunities such persons are entitled to. It posits “born and naturalized” persons.  It doesn’t say persons created by legal manipulation. As far as the constitution was concerned, it took nine months of gestation in a woman’s womb to become a person, not a few weeks stewing in the skulls of nine-men-with-an-agenda getting their ducks in a row.

No reasonable person would construe the Fourteenth Amendment’s words the way the Supreme Court did.  What it took was a cabal of justices with the cojones, cynicism, and vast hypocrisy of Newt Gingrich and the empathetic disconnect of Mitt Romney to twist the Fourteenth Amendment into a uterus for corporate persons.

But 1819 and 1886 were then, and this is now, right?

Well, physicists are not so sure about time and we shouldn’t be either. Quantum physics and the theory of relativity have given us some cud to chew regarding to properties of space and time and time’s an uruly thing.  Now we have the Court’s ruling of 2010 in the Citizens United case to contend with.  That decision gave corporate persons the right to “contribute” unlimited amounts of money to influence political campaigns. So the hop from 1819 to 2010 may have been a mere blink. It seems so at least. In practical terms (for the 99%) the lightning-like connections between those two years is monumental. Taking its earlier ruling that “corporations are persons” to the next and obvious level, the Courts of 1819/1886/2010 have now granted corporate persons not only actual being but the power of diamond-studded palaver.

Corporations can now palaver the monumental wealth gained through the privilege and protections afforded natural persons into political power by barking into super-sized mics,  through bank accounts with Koch-sized speakers, over the pesky din of the tiny middle-class purses of gnat-persons and, once and for all, over the mute eloquence of the poor, because today money is “speech” …and therefore (logically) speech means “money”.

Lots more money. SUPER-PACS of money. Enough speech to turn the ears, heads and votes of every natural-born “representative of the people” into a echo chamber of gilded corporate oratory.

As Roshi Bob said the other day,

“If speech is money and money is speech only naturally-born deaf mute persons of the 99% will know the bliss of both silence and poverty.”

by Jim Culleny
1/22/12

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Here’s what I don’t understand:

Why are we surprised when young men trained to hate and kill urinate on the corpses of their enemies? Do we think we’ve developed a sensitive killing aparatus? That our innocent young people remain innocent despite their occupation? Having created sapient instruments of death why do we expect to control their implses?

Hubris? Stupidity? The contraints of morality already overridden by the will to power?

And so militarists rend their garments while we emulate the khans and the samurai.

The Marine Corps later confirmed Waldhauser’s appointment in a statement. It said it was confident ‘an expeditious, full and fair investigation will be conducted, and appropriate action will be taken in response to this incident.’ “

This incident.

The first incident was the killing. Having desecrated the lives of their enemy the desecration of their corpses is somehow out of the bounds of honorable war?

This is not a suggestion that the disrespect of urination is acceptable, but that the first disrespect of killing should not be omitted from the equation. But we should not be surprised when it is, it’s one of the fundementals of the justification for nationalized violence: killing a living being in war is an honorable exercise, desecrating a dead corpse in the same enterprize is not. A corpse is to be respected, life is not.

“…the stress of combat cannot excuse desecrating corpses — not to mention filming it. Such behavior is morally repugnant and suggests a breakdown in discipline.” —NYT editorial 

This as a traditional and very convenient stretch.
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Jim Culleny
1/13/11

Persona Ficta

January 8, 2012

Unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool plutocrat all you have to know about Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate is that he’s a Republican —that should immediately disqualify him.  If that doesn’t do it for you his record as ping-pong champion of policy would be a good back-up rationale for dismissing him — in his political life Romney has advocated more positions than a sex manual. If you’re still on the fence check out the details of his record as full-time job destructor/hatchet-man for Bain Capital —if you are a poor or middle class worker Mitt Romney is not your friend. And finally (unless you believe corporations have hearts and souls), Romney’s declaration that corporations really are persons ought to cherry your no-Mitt sundae.

One thing that should not disqualify Romney, however, is his religion.  If that kind of irrationality is cause for disqualification anyone who expresses belief in any religion ought to be disqualified as presidential material. Though some are wackier than others all religions share a thread of looniness that has the potential for making people do strange things.

Any fundamental religious belief is inconsistent with the rationality required to oversee government, but since in the United States, there is no way a candidate can ever come out as an atheist and hope to be president, if we disqualified candidacies on the basis of religion we’d kill the circus of election seasons. We’d have no candidates at all!  And no TV news viewer could endure months of talking heads going on an on about what this non-existent Democrat had to say about that non-existent Republican.

But wait, Fox, MSNBC and CNN could probably do it! They have the magical means to beat a dead horse and still keep their ratings up. It’s bad enough having to listen to Fox, MSNBC and CNN hammering us 24/7 with no really new news when candidates exist; but continuous coverage of phantoms would be suicide-making,

But I digress.

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On Romney’s disqualification for being a Republican:

For average folks this should be a no-brainer.

Republicans are all about “getting  government off our backs”.  The reason they’re so hot about this is that they want to replace government on our backs with corporations on our backs (government ostensibly belongs to us, but the Republican Party a wholly owned subsidiary of corporations); but given the huge bulk of corporate persons the small backs of working Americans are not spacious enough to accomodate both. To make room on our backs for corporations government has to go.

The goal of the GOP is to load as many corporate persons into backpacks slung from the necks of the working poor and middle class to render them semi-conscious enough by strangulation to be oblivious to their load —or maybe (by erotic asphixiation) bring them to a climax maximized by the pleasure of being throttled by CEOs rather than senators and reps. Republicans want to give us the free-market experience of being screwed by corporations rather than government.

But wait! Republicans, though amazingly shameless, still like their fig leafs.  Their downsizing would keep a small place for government just north of a plumber’s cleavage with enough room to write more laws intended to direct most of the nation’s wealth into the reservoirs of the rich.  Of course, given the limited space provided by our small backs congress would have to share offices with the Koch Brothers and Exxon —a space with a desk just large enough to scribble appreciative checks; but this wouldn’t be much of a change.

Romney is running as a Republican. Enough said.

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On Romney’s Ping-Pongs:

To start with his most recent instant reversal delivered during Sunday’s debate Romney, responding to Newt Gingrich’s demand that Romney set his PAC straight on Gingrich’s record, said he couldn’t legally direct a PAC to alter its ad, then added that he hadn’t seen any PAC adds. Not two or three minutes later he said he had seen an add after all, then detailed it’s contents.

The guy doesn’t even wait for short term memory to expire —doesn’t even wait for its funeral. Mitt launches right into a contradiction before rigor sets in on his original remark. This is not unusual behavior for a politician, but Romney, a well-schooled wind-bag, is constantly pushing the envelope.

Tell Romney what you’d like to hear and, presto! regardless of any previous remark (if you tip him with a vote) he’ll spout whatever you want.

It’s like talking to a robot.  A job-killing Mittbot.

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On Romney as a Job-killing Mittbot.

After making millions by slashing jobs for Bain Capital it’s breath-taking how the man can claim with a straight face that he’s a job creator. As DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, sees it Mitt Romney is not a job creator, he’s a job cremator.

“He was a corporate buyout specialist at Bain Capital,” Wasserman says, “He dismantled companies. He cut jobs. He forced companies into bankruptcy and he outsourced jobs and sent jobs overseas. That’s not a record to write home about, that’s not a record to be proud of, and it’s something voters need to know.”

A corporate buyout specialist’s job is to oversee leveraged buyouts. Leveraged buyouts often involve making a company profitable by slashing jobs. In the USA (especially) labor is one of the very expendible assets of a company and the easiest to get rid of or rob of a living wage. Romney’s success as a buyout specialist made him a fortune at the expense of labor, which consists of natural people who are not corporate persons, but real flesh and blood folks who make a living, not as Romney does, but by being productive.

Real people don’t make their living by destroying jobs. Romney’s specialty at Bain, meanwhile, was to be one of it’s top ghouls; nosing around for near-dead businesses, snatching them from the brink of internment, sucking out whatever life was left in them, chucking aside what was worthless (like labor) and building a mountain of fresh cash that he and the company could feast on into the future.

Ghoulishness is one of the dark sides of modern American capitalism.

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Mitt as Advocate of a Persona Ficta (the Corporate Person)

Corporations are people, my friend,” says Romney. I don’t know if he believes this or if it’s just one of the things he believes needs to be said to win the Republican nomination.  Of course he’s not unique in this, it’s just that he clearly has no shame about it. Nada. His vast wealth renders him clueless that there may actually be a chasm between his life and that of average people, and oblivious that it might even matter. His cluelessness about wealth disparity and it’s effect on real people is what makes him such a bumbler on the campaign trail (pink slips, I’m also unemployed, $10,000 bet).

The absurdity of corporate personhood is something that could only be dreamed up by the most cynical minds. The idea was created to give corporations the same rights as individuals to influence the political course of the nation. It became codified by the Supreme Court in the late 19th century and has been used ever since to direct national policy in such a way that corporations could amass such great wealth and influence that they could co-opt the will of real people.

A corporate person is a legal fiction perpetrated on average Americans to benefit the rich. To make matters worse, in 2010, the Supreme Court doubled-down on its cynicism and ruled that a corporate person’s right to free “speech” could not be limited by law, thereby giving corporate “persons” a huge advantage over natural persons to influence political discourse and policy —and Mitt Romney really like this idea.

Romney, in fact takes the ruse of corporate personhood even further in his answer to questions of wealth disparity. His definition of a corporate person suggests that corporate persons are the people employed by corporations, specifically its management.  But this is such a cynical deflection of the truth the guy should be driven of the stump by rolled up pink slips flung by smart permit-no-BS audiences.

Romney asks, “Where does all that money that corporations rake in go?”  To the people in corporations, he says. But that’s not the legal definition of a corporate person and Romney knows it. A corporate person is the corporation itself: a legal entity, concocted to protect the people who operate corporation from personal responsibility. A corporate person is a phantom, but one with huge clout —a lumbering ghost in the machine.

And Romney is no ghost-buster, he’s a conjuror of specters, a corporate shill, a persona ficta himself for businesses that cobble together sinister “persons” from cash and chutzpa to stomp out the little breathing persons who work for a living.

In short Romney’s so- called success is a figment of his twisted morality.

by Jim Culleny
1/10/12

Rick Santorum, sexually obsessed moral arbiter of the nation, says that Americans need a Jesus candidate.  Stangely enough, I agree with him. Rather than a Republican such as Rick, America needs a bead-rock socialist like Jesus.

For instance, regarding fundamental happiness it’s written in the New Testament that Jesus replied to a man who asked how he might get to heaven:

“One thing you lack, Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.” 

Try telling that to Eric Cantor or Randian, Paul Ryan. The mere mention of wealth re-distribution has them pounding tables in country clubs.

When the rich guy walked off disappointed jingling the gold in his purse, Jesus observed, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” —the rich …or a corporate person.

This was obviously an idea so off the wall to many following him (so off the wall it would be close to impossible for Speaker of the House,John Boehner, to grasp) that the Lord was moved to continue,

“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Which, to all Republican presidential candidates, is a very class-warfare-sounding declaration that’s like something you might expect from congress’ lone socialist, Bernie Sanders.

But such stuff was typical of Jesus, who definelty was not a corporate person. The left-leaning Nazarene railed against the policies of Republicans of his day, the ruling elite. He warned them:

“Depart from me you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”

And notice how brazenly socialistic Jesus was. According to the right’s own holy writ their lord went around using the term “gave” almost as if he thought the poor were owed an entitlement; as if the rich were somehow responsible to take care of those they’d left in the dust.

The sheer embarrassment of it; here’s Jesus, Michelle Bachmann’s professed Lord and mentor, sounding like a socialist.  This is clearly not Donald Trump speaking, nor Ron Paul (who suggested during an early debate that a sick guy without health insurance should just be left to die —to the cheers of his GOP audience, incidentally). If Jesus had lived to a ripe old age, what then?  If he’d not been murdered at such a young age by the same social class that Republicans now represent with such fury what other scandals would the gospels be dishing —the legalization of same sex marriage? Jesus clearly had to go.

But how can their Jesus be reconciled with their politics?  No problem. As we’ve come to realize over the past 10 years or so, Republicans are the greatest, most effective, liars and hypocrites the world has ever known. They’ve learned from centuries of tutelege at the feet of masters how to deflect or spin a lie so that it comes out sounding like gospel. It might even have been a 1st century Rick Santorum who replied to Jesus’ admonition —one of those who, dumfounded and offended, whined:

“Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

But Jesus, being no Democrat wuss shot back matter-of-factly, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

Shocking— the lord of not just Koch Industries, but of the entire universe, equating himself with the least among us —a hard pill to swallow for the Party of No-To-You-Yes-To-Me!

by Jim Culleny
1/6/12