Category Archives: Political Muse

Decision 2000…The Decision That Keeps On Giving

Supreme Court

A divided Supreme Court on Thursday swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the role of corporations in political campaigns, ruling that companies can dip into their treasuries to spend as much as they want to support or oppose individual candidates. (via Supreme Court rejects limits on corporate spending on political campaigns – washingtonpost.com)

And so it goes…The Bush Supreme Court continues it’s record of decisions against people and for the “corporate citizen”. Isn’t it amazing how a the third rail of our government has perverted itself? Instead of protecting the rights of it’s citizens, it keeps abrogating those rights and expanding the rights of a comercial citizen that doesn’t (not in reality anyway) exist.

Walking down this road is going to mean the death of any hopes of keeping politicians honest. With the ability to spend unlimited corporate money to “speak” to and about candidates, the common man has just had his voice squelched. It’s kind of like standing at a burning house and trying to pee the fire out…When the fire company shows up with their unlimited water supply who do you think the flames will be listening to? The analogy breaks down though, because with the fire the result you are both trying to accomplish is to put out the fire…Corporations have only one reason for being and that is to make a profit. Seldom is their ability to maximize profit aligned with the common good of the people.

I guess the next move we need to watch out for is the vote…Is each corporate citizen going to be given just one vote? Or, as it seems more likely now, will we give them a vote for every “real” body they have on the payroll? Or better yet, can they have every vote they can buy? Since we all know the free market rules, I think I’ll just go ahead and beat the crowd and open a voter’s exchange…Wait, better idea, let’s move the exchange to Washington. We’ll let the people have a market to peddle influence just like their “elected” representatives. Do you think congress will allow us to intrude on their monopoly?

Maybe what we need to do is set up a third house of legislation. One just for these imaginary citizens that lawyers are so insistent must have their rights protected. Let them elect their own representative and keep their money grubbing hands off of ours. We can call it “The House of Chairmen”. It can be kind of like the British House of Lords…except, like all good corporate executives they can sit and meetings all day and blame the failures on the other two houses.

The one thing I have yet to figure out though is…How do we keep these corporate contributions from becoming a way for foreign nationals to influence our elections? I mean, think about it, don’t most large corporations claim legal citizenship in other countries just to avoid taxation? If you are not going to pay your fair share of taxes in America, why do you think you should have a say at all in our elections? Damn, maybe those crazy conservatives are on to something after all…Hell they all claim to be fiscal conservatives. Maybe they are trying to force all of these corporations to become real citizens and “pay to play”…Naw…I doubt it even crossed their minds.

I would say this would really have the “states rights” conservatives up in arms…Can’t you just hear Rick Perry talking about secession over this overturning of Texas constitutional rights. Hell in Texas we don’t allow any “corporate money” in campaigns. But, since it always seems to trip them up when the auditors go looking, I am sure he wont be screaming about this usurpation  of a states right to decide what is best for it’s own citizens…

It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.

~ President Barak Obama

I guess it really is a difference of perspective…Doesn’t it seem strange that it is only the conservatives who equate free speech with money?

The ruling will protect the Constitution’s First Amendment rights of free speech and association.

~ Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

It seems the right of “free association” just got a higher price tag…

So Who Is A Real Farmer?

I am not a real farmer, my neighbors say, because I don’t do it for money. That’s almost funny because the economists are saying that nobody’s farming for money this year. Although the corn crop is good in most of the midwest, there’s not much profit in it. Some go as far as projecting that on average, corn farmers will lose $8 per acre over the whole midwest. If that is the case, I’m not a real farmer for sure because I figure on netting $550 an acre on my corn.– Gene Logsdon » The Race Goes Not Always To The Fastest.

I first read an article by Gene Logsdon sometime about fourty or so years ago. In other words, his name and philosophy has been on my radar for all of that time through articles in Organic Gardening and The Mother Earth News and now his blog at OrganicToBe.org.

We’ve now seen banks that were “too big to fail” cost us quite a bit of our future. We seem to have had agricultural processing units (so called farm) that are “too big to fail” for years now with our farm policy full of crop subsidies on commodity crops. There is talk about how maybe it’s time to break up these “too big to fail” banks…My thinking is, maybe the “too big to fail” agricultural units need a rethinking too.

Conventional thinking for the last half century has been that bigger is better…Always. That thinking is becoming as outdated as the idea yhat you can make a profit raising more pork than the economy can consume, even as the actual costs of production are hidden or passed down to future generations…Who really pays for those subsidies anyway?

Anyway, go read some of what Mr. Logsdon has tho say…

The Race Goes Not Always To The Fastest

“No One With Land Should Be Without A Job”

Harvest Art

Kill People But Not Dogs and Cats

An Offbeat Way To Make Good Hay

We’ve Been Going “Back To The Land” For A Long Time

Our House Frog Liked Beethoven

My Clunker Pickup Is Too Old To Junk

Good Farming Was More Advanced A Hundred Years Ago

The Two Sides of an Organic vs. Chemical Story

A Startling Lesson in Pasture Farming

Sometimes Its Hard To Tell the Vegetables From the Flowers

More Choices at Garden Farm Markets

Gardeners and Farmers Less Fearful of Death?

And The Deregulation Gifts Just Keep Right On Giving…

The role of speculators in the world’s oil markets has been widely blamed for bringing consumers $4 gasoline last summer — and rightly so. A recently completed study by two Baker Institute scholars further confirms that this blame is not misplaced and recommends specific ways to do something to limit the speculators’ influence.

Research by Baker’s Amy Myers Jaffe and Kenneth Medlock shows that speculation increased following the easing of regulations in the oil futures markets in 2006…

I said it at the time, it’s nice to have some data backing up my own gut feeling that there was nothing that should be causing the spikes in price…

It’s just another in the long list of things that conservatives keep getting wrong. Faith in the markets but no faith in the government…Where, if ever, did proof of that misplaced faith ever prove out to be a benefit to society?

via Oil bets are off: Rein in speculators to smooth markets | Editorial | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.

Are We About To Witness Judicial Activism From The Right?

THERE ARE MANY complicated aspects of the campaign-finance case the Supreme Court is poised to hear Wednesday, but the issue boils down to this: Will the justices let corporations spend unlimited amounts to elect or defeat candidates for federal office? This course of action would be unwise and unnecessary to resolve the dispute at hand.

via Court Should Take Conservative Route on Campaign Finance Case – washingtonpost.com.

One of my biggest complaints is how the conceptual rights of corporations have expanded in the past few decades to allow these “fictional” citizens to in effect become freer of constraints than actual flesh and blood citizens.

I have never bought into the legal fiction of free speech rights for corporations. To me that is just a legal fiction to allow the “heads” of these corporations to bypass the legal restrictions placed on actual “people” when it comes to limitations on “political speech”.

And now it looks as though the Robert’s Court wishes to review the limitations that have been placed on this fictional person’s rights by preceding courts for the past century. If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck…It sounds like judicial activism to me…Pretty ironic isn’t it?

A Reply From The Senator…And My Thoughts

If you read my post a while back about Senator Cornyn’s response to the White House’s request that people forward the emails they received with disinformation…You may be interested in his reply that arrived today…

Dear Mr. Boyd:

Thank you for contacting me about President Obama’s new initiative to monitor American citizens’ speech about his health care policies. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this matter.

As you know, on August 5, 2009, I sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing my concerns about a new program that requested American citizens to forward to the White House emails and “casual conversations” of their fellow citizens who oppose the President’s health care policies. As I stated in my letter to the President, I believe that this program is inconsistent with America’s tradition of free speech and public discourse. I urged the President to cease the program, to purge personally identifiable information gathered by the program from White House records, and to detail how the White House intended to use the information gathered.

Though I am still awaiting a response to my letter from the President, I was pleased to see that on August 17, 2009, the White House shut down the program. While I am glad the site has been shut down, Americans still deserve to know what the White House intends to do with information that was collected during the 13 days the program was in effect. On August 19, 2009, I sent another letter to the President, reiterating my belief that the White House should fully disclose how they are using this information, and seeking the President’s commitment that no similar programs will be instituted in the future.

Health care affects every American and I believe we need to take the time to listen to the patients, providers, families, and small businesses that will be significantly impacted by reform. As Congress debates health care reform and other critical policy matters, citizen engagement must not be chilled by fear of government monitoring the exercise of free speech rights.

I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texans in the United States Senate, and you may be certain that I will continue working with my colleagues to protect our First Amendment rights. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

I must have missed that part of the original White House video where we were requested to report the “casual conversations” with our fellow citizens. Did you catch that part?

Also, it wasn’t the opposition to the President’s health care plan that was the issue. Since the President doesn’t have a Health Care Plan to oppose that would be a non-issue if it wasn’t just dishonest. The request was for people to forward the lies and disinformation being passed on as fact. Now if lies and disinformation is what passes for opposition in the mind of Senator Cornyn, Texas, we have a problem. If someone wants to offer real thoughtful opposition to Health Insurance Reform in America, I’ll listen…I’ll argue…I’ll have a conversation…But when I hear lies used to spread fear just to scare people into believing the lie…Get real Sir.

Four paragraphs in we get to your first reference to the issue at hand…Health Care. But to turn that around to pushing fear of government monitoring after the last administration’s abuses of the right to privacy…Abuses you approved of…That is just to much of a stretch of credulity. Senator, you need to take your feigned outrage and put it to good use stopping the intimidation of free speech by the gun wielding thugs and screaming, shouting “citizens” at the town hall meetings around the country.

The view from the right is evidently beyond my comprehension…

Health Care and Senator Cornyn

One of the interesting things about the way politicians work is that once you have sent them an email, even one that was protesting a stand of theirs, they feel the need to add you to their email newsletter list. For this reason, I am always intrigued by the way these newsletters are used to try to position themselves in front of the voters.

Today’s emails brought the latest missive from Senator John Cornyn. In this newsletter he was trumpeting his letter to President Obama about the White Houses request that their supporters send in copies of emails that they receive full of disinformation and…hell, let’s be truthful, lies. Here is a quote from the Senator…

I write to express my concern about a new White House program to monitor American citizens’ speech opposing your health care policies, and to seek your assurances that this program is being carried out in a manner consistent with the First Amendment and America’s tradition of free speech and public discourse.

Yesterday, in an official White House release entitled “Facts are Stubborn Things,” the White House Director of New Media, Macon Phillips, asserted that there was “a lot of disinformation out there,” and encouraged citizens to report “fishy” speech opposing your health care policies to the White House. Phillips specifically targeted private, unpublished, even casual speech, writing that “rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.” Phillips wrote “If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

Now the first couple of times I saw this, I ignored it and just hit delete. The third time I received a reference I was finally moved to reply. Here is the reply I posted at the Senator’s website:

In regards to your latest email newsletter and the letter you sent to President Obama:

Dear Sir:

I find your outrage confusing to say the least. As an outspoken proponent of a much more troubling form of “data mining” by the past administration, get down off of your soapbox.

I received the email request and viewed the video you are up in arms over after I received at least a dozen of the emails full of lies and disinformation. Most were from friends and family who never question the version of the “news” they get from Fox. A minutes worth of research before forwarding these emails would bring up the fact that there in little or no truth in most of them.

Your fanning the flames of fear about the motives of your political opponents is troubling to me. The very fact that you attribute these types of behaviors to your political opponents but not to the members of your own party who seem to be orchestrating the disinformation campaigns is another reason I have found myself on the other end of the political spectrum from you and your party these recent years…

Thank you for your time…You can refrain from replying with the standard email thanking me for my interest and appreciating my views…For I know you do not.

Now, since Senator Cornyn seems to think advertising his letter to the President is a good thing…I’m just gonna post my reply…Free speech and all that sort of thing…And if some large corporate sponsor would like to write off some of the profits they feel obliged to give to politicians…Post a comment and I’ll be happy to relieve you of some of that money…

Food Safety Now!

At least 69 people have become violently ill — 34 of them hospitalized — after eating uncooked Nestlé’s Toll House cookie dough. At least nine of those victims suffered kidney failure, as a result of a virulent form of E. coli. Nestlé USA has recalled more than 300,000 cases of the product since, even after cooking, the E. coli could remain on hands or survive in softer, undercooked cookies.

Coming after problems with tainted tomatoes, peanuts and pistachios, this is another warning about the weakness of the nation’s food safety system and why Congress needs to fix it. The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved an excellent bill that would strengthen the Food and Drug Administration’s powers. The full House and the Senate — with White House support — need to move this package forward.

via Editorial – Say No to Raw Cookie Dough – NYTimes.com.

Editorial – Insurance Company Schemes – NYTimes.com

Just more fuel for the reform fire…

As health care reform moves forward, Congress must impose tighter regulation of companies that clearly are not doing enough to regulate themselves. Creating a public plan could also help restrain the worst practices, by providing competition and an alternative.

A House oversight subcommittee took a close look at a particularly shameful practice known as “rescission,” in which insurance companies cancel coverage for some sick policyholders rather than pay an expensive claim. The companies contend that rescissions are rare. But Congressional investigators found that three big insurers canceled about 20,000 individual policies over a five-year period — allowing them to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims.

via Editorial – Insurance Company Schemes – NYTimes.com.