BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Time for a pop quiz. What do Miller v. United States (1973) and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) and have in common? Give up? They’re both landmark U.S.Supreme Court decisions involving obscenity. Whereas the former was a determination regarding obscenity per se, the latter was just patently obscene. In the former, a divided Court set forth ground rules under which the individual states could essentially determine for themselves what constituted obscenity and what did not. In the latter, four right-wingers and a semi-swinger decided that there was nothing whatsoever obscene about corporations dumping truckloads of their filthy lucre into “independent” political broadcasts such as campaign commercials, documentaries, movies—made-for-television or otherwise—and just about any other means they could dream up to get their corporate officers’ political preferences further extorted into an already corrupted election process grown so sleazy that it only appeals to prurient interests.
For the life of me I can’t understand how the Court could, in its “inimitable wisdom,” read into the First Amendment that it ISN’T okay for a student to unfurl a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner across from his school, but it IS okay to pervert the nation’s most sacrosanct self-preservation process by completely unrestricting distribution of the very thing that’s sapping its efficacy as an engine of democracy: money. How did we reach the point where the words “Money is Speech” became the mantra of not only one of our major political parties, but also a majority of the justices sitting on the highest court in the land. If any of you doubted that we have finally been transformed from a democracy into a plutocracy, surely you can see the light now.
Salivating over the hot, throbbing Citizens United ruling, Congressional Republicans decided to take the perversion up a notch by blocking Democrat attempts to place at least some disclosure requirements on corporate donors. Rack up another win for the robber barons of the hard right. And if you believe that in these days of Wikileaks and high-tech super-sleuthing it shouldn’t be hard to track down the sources of such political salmonella anyway, you’d be sorely mistaken. Here’s a preview of the plague to come. In March a Boston lawyer set up a corporation by the name of W Spann LLC for the sole purpose of funneling a huge chunk of his client’s cash (a million bucks) to a Romney campaign political action committee (PAC) Restore Our Future. Turns out W Spann LLC’s physical presence didn’t amount to so much as a bathroom–and within a month all trace of its existence had vanished. For more than 4 months, using all conceivable means of query, NO ONE could uncover the source of the sickness. The only way the infecter was finally unmasked was when he outed himself upon learning the Federal Election Commission and U.S. Justice Department had received complaints and were about to launch investigations.
But that’s only the beginning, folks. Wait ’till we get past the upcoming primaries. The volume of anonymous corporate quid pro quo pouring into Republican and Democrat coffers in 2012 will make the Jack Abramoff affair look like cheap punks playing pattycake. A long time ago, a man named Henry A. Wallace said: “Danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.” All these years later, he must be turning in his grave knowing his words are still so relevant, and that a once august body like the Supreme Court, which did so much in the latter half of the 20th Century to make America a fairer, more just place for everyone, has been so nakedly co-opted by the narrow self-interest of the Montgomery Burns of the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.
1,728 = The number of Americans killed in action in Afghanistan
11,191 = The number of Americans wounded in Afghanistan.
0 = To date the number of financial industry kingpins indicted for having committed the most massive FRAUD in American history and wrecking the global economy, plunging untold millions into lives of misery and deprivation.