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Corporate Election Machine Fires Up

Sunday, 27 June 2010 11:15
Future Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts meets with George W. Bush in the Oval Office, 06/15/05. (photo: Eric Draper)

Future Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts meets with George W. Bush in the Oval Office, 06/15/05. (photo: Eric Draper)



Reader Supported News | Perspective

The corporate financial steamroller is heading into the election arena much faster than many folks thought possible.

I was one of those who figured the corporate money machine wouldn't be fully functional in time for the 2010 mid-term elections.

Obviously, I and others who thought the same way should have known better. We were naïve.

The billionaire corporation officers couldn't come up with serious reductions in automotive fuel consumption for 40 years. Corporate bigwigs have yet to figure out how to make banks profitable without creating periodic worldwide economic disasters, and have failed over almost 40 years to make any progress whatever in preventing and/or cleaning up major oil spills. People who pay themselves well upward of a million dollars a year say they simply can't find a way to seriously reduce their pollution of our environment.

But it took only about four months to design and set up an efficient system for taking over the American electoral system at all levels, from municipal to national.

On January 21, 2010, the day the Supreme (now Extreme) Court under John Roberts declared that corporations and the very rich had a right to speak louder than the rest of us during campaigns, it was immediately clear that representative democracy in this country would be a thing of the past. The rich, already enormously powerful, were going to own the system outright.

The court extended that January gift to the very rich, and dealt what is almost sure to be the death blow to American democracy, on June 7, 2010, when it declared in a case involving Arizona election law that public funding couldn't be used to even the odds for a less-than-rich candidate running against a candidate of great wealth or supported by great (corporate) wealth.

In case you've been in a coma for the past seven months:

The Roberts court decided on January 21 that corporations are individuals and as such have all rights of individual American citizens. That was clearly translated by the court as meaning that restrictions on corporate spending on elections are unconstitutional because they are "restrictions on the free speech" of individuals - citizens such as 3M, General Motors, Exxon, Halliburton, et al.

Never mind that corporate officers already had as much freedom as thee and me to say what they choose to say, and to donate to favored politicians - within the same restrictions that apply to the rest of us. The ruling overturned a whole lot of law aimed at keeping corporations from buying elections, and gave each top-level corporate executive a thousand, or ten thousand, times the voice that each of us has.

On June 7, the rampaging court declared that an Arizona law that tried to even the odds between rich and not-rich candidates also is unconstitutional.

Under that law, candidates who signed up for public financing got more public money if their opposition refused to abide by the limits imposed under public financing and spent much more. According to the Roberts gang, helping poorer - that is, usually Democratic or liberal - candidates match the spending of big-money candidates somehow restricts the free speech of the rich candidates.

Hey, don't look for logic or rational legal thinking; the political right is on a crusade. Their most dearly held core belief is that money has special rights.

Roberts achieved with breathtaking swiftness the goal that was the reason for his appointment to the court.

But, the fact that his clients could get into position to take full advantage of the court's achievement so quickly is somewhat surprising. It is a testament to how efficient they can be when they actually want to accomplish a given task.

It also makes clear that their failures to accomplish tasks they don't want, such as reducing or stopping pollution, are deliberate, but almost no one will notice that. Certainly the corporate media won't see it or call attention to it.

What is not directly and quickly profitable, they will not do.

Taking full control of government on all levels in America will be quickly and enormously profitable, obviously.

The way it is being done in Minnesota, my home state, is a model of perfection, and undoubtedly will be duplicated throughout the country with almost equal speed.

Here, the state's two most powerful corporate armies, the Minnesota Business Partnership and the state Chamber of Commerce, in one of the shortest such pregnancies in history, gave birth to something called MN Forward.

(You have to admire the names the right comes up with. Those two organizations always have been devoted to dragging our society backward to the time of Gilded Age, or perhaps feudalism.)

The new organization will be headed by Brian McClung, who resigned as deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to take the new job. The Minnesota Business Partnership, by the way, is headed by Charlie Weaver, former chief of staff for Pawlenty. McClung, Weaver and Pawlenty all work for the same people.

Pawlenty, of course, is an outwardly affable, youthful-appearing and very well-dressed extreme right-winger, who pretty much successfully masquerades before the general public as a deeply Christian nice guy who really cares about people. He owes his political career to a secretive, small-membership group of very rich people who go by the name of the Minnesota Taxpayers League. He is their servant, if not their slave. He wants to be president of the United States. Manchurian candidates ain't in it.

McClung told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the new organization plans to raise $2 million to use in this year's campaigns in the state. That, the Strib said, is four times what the Chamber of Commerce has raised in individual political contributions in a typical election year in the past.

That's smoke, of course. In truth, the Chamber undoubtedly has urged, teased, sweated and otherwise forced its members to give considerably more than $500,000 per election year to its favored candidates throughout the state. The "official" numbers are meaningless.

And it would be little short of astonishing if what the corporate people pump into the 2010 campaigns for statewide offices, congressional seats, legislative seats and maybe a few key municipal elections is only $2 million. Maybe they'll hold the reported MN Forward direct contributions to that number.

The direct contributions to candidates are only part of the story, however.

Those guys are very smart when it comes to furthering their own perceived advantages as opposed, say, to furthering the public good through something like weaning themselves and society from dependence on fossil fuels.

The story they're already telling is that they are raising the money and picking candidates not for their own benefit - why, they aren't even really sure what self-interest means - but, as the Strib quoted Chamber President David Olson, to "work with a broad coalition of Minnesota job creators to elect candidates from both parties who support policies that enhance job growth in Minnesota."

"Job creators" is a favored Republican and corporate phrase. It applies equally to a new fabric shop, a local garage and the nation-sized corporations that for more than two decades have been shipping American jobs to India, Mexico, China and other places where people work 80-hour weeks for barely enough to buy food and shelter.

Weaver told the Strib that MN Forward would be "a force to counter unions and other DFL-leaning groups."

(DFL is Minnesota-speak for Democrat. It derives from the merger in 1944 of the Democrats and the Farmer-Labor Party, which was something of a force in the state in the 1920s, '30s and early '40s.)

To interpret:

Electing candidates of both parties is an obvious lie. That could change as the Democrats continue to move toward duplicating the Republican Party, but, to date the state Chamber of Commerce and the Business Partnership have rarely, if ever, supported anyone with a D after his or her name.

"A coalition of job creators" is, as already noted, Republican boilerplate. It long has been required by their public relations people and campaign advisers to mention "job creation" and "protecting jobs" at least three times in every speech and interview, to con the dumdums into believing the Republicans actually want to increase the number of decent-paying jobs. And it works to some extent. A great many people listen to what they say, and ignore or remain unaware of what they do.

"Counter unions and other DFL-leaning groups" also is standard Republican fare throughout the country. They maintain the highly useful fiction, stoutly supported by corporate news media, that unions continue to be a gigantic force in American politics. Lots of people believe it, and also believe the media fiction that most unions are essentially gangster operations.

Corporations and their executives outspend unions on politics by enormous amounts, and that's before the Roberts court rulings. Hard figures are difficult to come by, partially because union spending decreases steadily, but the latest apparently reliable research results I saw showed that corporations, their officers and high-level employees outspent unions and their members on campaigns by somewhere around nine-to-one at the turn of this century. Union membership has continued to shrink since then, of course, and corporate power has grown, even before the January court ruling.

Oh, and the backers and leaders of the new MN Forward election-buying machine openly admitted that it will be much easier to get corporate officers to donate company money than to get them to dig into their personal purses. That's important.

I haven't seen any reporting on this in the corporate media, but it's safe to assume that corporate money people will get, or find a way, to deduct campaign spending from corporate taxes. You and I will not get that break. But, our "free speech" isn't valued by the Roberts court as highly as that of McDonnell Douglas or Honeywell.

As the Strib quoted Olson: Under the old system, which forbade direct corporate spending on elections, "You have to go to somebody and say, 'Will you give me a thousand dollars?' I've asked somebody for a thousand dollars ... and they've said, 'Dave, I'd rather give you $10,000 in corporate money.' I think we're going to get some of that."

There is no doubt he is right about that.

Another place where the court approval of corporate election buying is immediately effective is, of course, Congress, where Democrats are jumping into line so quickly that some of those intellectually and morally stunted coots are in serious danger of tripping over Republicans and hurting themselves.

The most obvious evidence of Congressional kissing of corporate butts at the moment is in the so-called financial regulatory reform bill. Check The New York Times, Mother Jones, and other publications still practicing journalism for recent stories on what's happening to that bill. Republicans always were going to give their all to prevent genuine reform, of course, but they'll succeed for sure now, because they're being joined in every rotten move by a larger number of Democrats than might otherwise have been the case.

They're protecting the poor billionaires against the great unwashed and, in the process, earning the money needed to retain their Congressional sinecures.

It's just getting rolling, but how do you like the Corporate States of America so far? If you have any ideas to slow the machine, better speak up fast.


James Clay Fuller is a semi-retired veteran journalist who, during his 30 years at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, was a business reporter, features writer and editor, and also led an investigative reporting team. You can read his insightful commentaries at: your social media marketing partner


+10 # Guest 2010-06-27 14:59
I've been saying for years that we DON'T have a Democracy anymore. What we have instead is a CORPORATE FASCIST, OLIGARCH, PLUTOCRACY! This just confirms it! If there is a hell the Extreme Court & their corporate demons will have a seat next to Satan! I hope they will burn forever! So much for claiming that we're a Christian nation. They just proved otherwise!
+15 # Guest 2010-06-27 15:30
As a political media consultant, I can tell you one way to stop the corporate noise machine that's about to drown voters in waves of divisive video fear mongering - enforce FULL DISCLOSURE in their political commercials. Corporations may now have the right to air political ads, but they do not have a right to hide their identities. The FEC has strict rules requiring candidates to accurately identify themselves in each commercial in a large type size for at least four seconds. The FEC must make corporations obey the same rules and use their real names, not the name of some phony front organization like The Citizens for America Committee. If Exxon runs an attack ad against a liberal Democrat or an endorsement ad for a right wing Republican, it must say PAID FOR BY EXXON at the end in huge letters. This would amount to the kiss of death for most Republicans. Full disclosure can kill corporate political advertising. Would you want an Exxon, Bank of America, or Goldman Sachs ad endorsing you?
+13 # Guest 2010-06-27 16:06
When we (the citizens of the U.S.A.) allowed the Supreme Court to select the president in 2000, we effectively killed "democracy". That election was decided by one person's vote (whichever one of the Supremes you pick in a 5 to 4 decision). At that time, less than 30% of adults voted. Hardly a democracy. And by the way, instrumental in shepherding the case through the Supreme Court was none other than John Roberts, later to be appointed to the Supreme Court by George W. Bush. When did you notice the stinking corruption?
+12 # Guest 2010-06-27 16:37
As I read I think of Archbishop Romero who thirty years ago this year was murdered by agents of the elite factions in El Salvador. Then I think of Chile and President Allende who was murdered by agents of Nixon.

Then I think of Haiti and the ousting of Populist President Aristide by agents of the elite who directed the American, French and Canadian armies to kidnap him and get rid of him ...this was against the will of the common people and Aristide would be re-elected today if he was allowed.

Then I think of Honduras and the corrupt election that established the elite in power aided and abetted by American money.

It goes on and on Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala ALL evidenced by either Native elitism or Corporate greed.

NOW it is happening in the Good Ole U.S.A. and Canada the fight for complete dominance between the haves and have nots
What is there to say except GOD HELP OUR COUNTRIES and save us from a CORPORATE DICTATORSHIP
-1 # Guest 2010-06-28 08:47
Yeah, as I read I think of 50-80 million people murdered by Mao Tse-Tung, and 20 million kulaks wiped out by Stalin, and the killing fields of Cambodia . . . it does go on and on . . . Peru, Cuba, Angola, Vietnam, Tibet, Albania, North Korea, Now THOSE are DICTATORSHIPS we can love and live with!
+7 # Guest 2010-06-27 17:58
Corporations have been gearing up for this for quite some time. It should be no surprise at how rapidly they've turned up the volume!
+12 # Guest 2010-06-27 18:14
We lost control of our Democracy when we allowed the Supreme Court to "elect" Bush our President. In 1996, a young Egyptian who was sitting next to me on a plane trip to Cairo told me that America was about to become completely corrupt. He said that the Republican Party was planning to win the election of 2000 by putting Governor Bush into the Presidency. He said the only reason he became governor was to become President. I told him that something like that could never happen in America because our elections were free and one party could not just "decide" to put a President into office! He told me that I was naive. Bush needed to be elected so that his father's records as President could be sealed thus prohibiting the citizens of the US and our Congressional leaders from realizing George H.W. Bush's dealings with the CIA covert operations throughout the world. Does anyone really believe that Scalia and Thomas are ethical people? Didn't Cheney achieve his "Imperial Presidency"?
+1 # Guest 2010-06-27 23:29
The Constitution of the Unified Transnational Corporations of America
We the Unified Transnational Corporations, in order to form the perfect dominion, establish partiality, insure domestic and universal fear, provide for fanatical defense, suppress the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for the prosperous, do contr...ol and create this Constitution on behalf of the United States of America.

Article I
Section 1.
All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Corporate Alliance which shall consist of Puppet Governance and Bureaucratic Corporations.

Bill Of Rights
Rights… What rights?
0 # Guest 2010-07-03 17:14
#1 You have the right to a lack of responsibility over your own money via the Loose Wallet and the Fee That is Not a Fee rules.

#2 You have the right to trade Liberty for Security, at the time and place of the Corporate Alliance choosing.

#3 You have the right to denial.

#4 You have the right to dream.

#5 You have the right to choose what minimum wage job you apply for in order to pay back the Corporate Alliance for your Birth Debt.
0 # Guest 2010-06-27 23:38
I had the honor of meeting Scott Nearing three times before he passed away - a few decades ago. On one visit to his old farmhouse on the Maine coast, I remember his comment that we all lost it around the turn of the 20th century, when they (Democrats) broke the Populist Party. He recollected speaking at a mass meeting to an audience of 20,000. Those commie radicals actually wanted an eight-hour day. I guess there are degrees of losing it, but whatever's left is always worth fighting for.
+1 # Guest 2010-06-28 10:28
I think BP is a GLOBAL Corporation with Legally Operated Business Enterprises in the U.S. and so, as I see it, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court of CONservative Corporate Considerations, they now have every Right to use their Billion$$ to influence Our Elections and the 'Elected'...

Is this true..?

And, if Corporations are legally defined as 'Persons' under our laws....

Do you think the GLOBAL Corporate 'PERSON'.., BP.., wakes up everyday thinking of itself as an American Citizen..??

Does ANY GLOBAL CORPORATE ''PERSON'' think of itself as an American..?

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