Friday, January 22, 2010

The Day Democracy Died

There are some great things to report today. The film "Creation," (see, the earlier post Creation) debuts in this country this evening. Finally. I had the privilege of watching it the other night and it is a wonderful human drama, a bit sad of course, as could be expected when examining the death of a young daughter.
And I've been reacquainted with my long time friend, Michelle, who I traded Emails back and forth with last night, catching up, and remembering old times in that residence back in Pasadena. If this continues I may have to breakdown and buy an Iphone, and start texting all of the time like my lovely case manager, Erin.
But this post is not about today. It's about the 21st of January. No, I'm not talking about the birthday of Academy Award winners Paul Scofield and Geena Davis. Nor am I celebrating the anniversaries of the launch of the first nuclear powered submarine, the USS Nautilus in 1954, or gloating over the fact that Newt Gingrich became the first Speaker of the House of Representatives to be internally disciplined for ethical misconduct in 1997. No, I'm talking yesterday the 21st of January, 2010, the day this country changed from a democracy into a corporatocracy, or as Michelle would have it, a corpocracy, "because it sounds prettier."
Wikipedia tells us this about a representative democracy, that which the founding fathers provided us in the constitution: "There are two principles that any definition of democracy includes, equality and freedom. These principles are reflected by all citizens being equal before the law, and having equal access to power, and freedom is secured by legitimized rights and liberties, which are generally protected by a constitution. There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better representation and more freedoms for their citizens than others. However, if any democracy is not carefully legislated to avoid an uneven distribution of political power with balances, such as the separation of powers then a branch of the system of rule could accumulate power and become harmful to the democracy itself."
Yesterday in 5-4 decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy gave corporations the same powers of those of human beings, in so far as equating "free speech" to funneling the unlimited millions of dollars in their general funds toward influencing elections within this country.
What does that mean?
Yesterday our usual Thursday Cooking Club was canceled due to Paul and Erin being involved in a Bike Clinic that Paul had arranged from noon until 4 o'clock. Paul had gotten a gentleman from some bike shop to volunteer his time and expertise to fix the various bicycles the residents of the hotels may have that needed repairs. I walked over through the pouring rain to the Defiance Space to take a look at the proceedings, although I do not own a bike. I got there a little after noon, when very few people had arrived as of yet, just Paul, Robert, and one other gentleman I did not know. Snacks were provided. Cokes, bottles of water, donuts, and chips. Erin soon arrived and ate her lunch of Ramen noodle soup (she likes to keep the noodles long, like spaghetti) and a nice donut. Others trickled in. The bike guy showed up with all kinds of bike repair paraphernalia, and soon the place was abuzz with bike repairing activity. Except for Erin. She sat by herself, reading from some book on recognizing personality types, and texting on her Iphone, looking rather despondent (I've noticed that young, pretty girls feel lost whenever they find themselves not the center of attention, especially in a room full of men). I observed the various repair activities for awhile, asked questions about repair techniques, even helped Robert get his bike all oiled up ("Watch where you spill that stuff, Bob. This is where we do yoga"). When I got tired of watching and decided to go home I walked over to Erin to get my umbrella.
"You know Erin today is an historic day in our nation's history," I told her.
"Oh why? What happened?" she asked.
"The Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as human beings."
She looked puzzled, frowning a little, before asking, "What does that mean?"
"It means we're screwed," I told her.
We both smiled, and I told her I would see her tomorrow and returned to my box during a lull in the downpour.
In the case of Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission, which primarily dealt with corporate funds being used to produce and exhibit a anti-Hillery Clinton propaganda film during her bid for the White House, the 5 activist judges (conservatives love to bitch and moan, decrying "judicial activism" any and every time a decision is made that does not support their interests. Yesterdays decision is a true example of judicial activism) that authored the majority decision in this case, irresponsibly, and overwhelmingly overstepped their bounds to inject more corporate power within our political processes.
Time and time again, whenever the subject presented itself on this blog, I've maintained that the foremost problem this country faces is a dysfunctional political process, fostered by the federal governments dependence, and desire for the infusion of mass sums of money by special interests, and that the only possible solution to this problem, achievable through election reform is by way of publicly funded campaigns. Get corporate and special interest cash, the legal form of blatant bribery that now exists, out of the system. That is the only way our government can work to solve the myriad amount of problems this nation faces. The apparent failure of health care reform being a prime example of the current dysfuncionality our government now enjoys. But no one was talking about campaign finance reform. No one except maybe Thom Hartmann, and myself, and no one listens to me... not even my invisible cat Herkermer.
After yesterday's Supreme Court decision, they sure are talking about it now. And the trickle of cash that corporations could throw into the process yesterday, is nothing to what can happen today.
Today the flood gates have opened and our country may drown.

To be continued.

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