Citizens United – Special Comment – 2010-01-21

Citizens United – Special Comment – 2010-01-21


OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, as promised, a
special comment on the Supreme Court’s ruling today in the case Citizens United v. Federal
Election Commission. On the cold morning of Friday, March 6th,
1857, a very old man who was born just eight months and 13 days after the Declaration of
Independence was adopted, a man who was married to the sister of the man who wrote “The Star
Spangled Banner,” a man who was enlightened enough to have freed his own slaves and given
pensions to the ones who had become too old to work, read aloud, in a reed-thin voice
from a very long, handwritten document. In it, he ruled on a legal case involving
a slave brought by his owner to live in a free state yet to remain a slave. The slave
sought his freedom and sued. And looking back over legal precedent and the Constitution,
and the America in which it was created, this judge ruled that no black man could ever be
considered an actual citizen of the United States. “They had for more than a century
before been regarded as beings of an inferior order and all together unfit to associate
with the white race, either in social or political relations. And so far unfit that they had
no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The case of course was Dred Scott. The old
man was the fifth chief justice of the United States of America, Roger Brooke Taney. The
outcome, he believed, would be to remove the burning question of abolition of slavery from
the political arena once and for all. The outcome, in fact, was the Civil War. No American ever made a single bigger misjudgment.
No American ever carried the responsibility for the deaths and suffering of more Americans
on his shoulders. No American was ever more quickly vilified. Within four years, Chief Justice Taney’s rulings
were being ignored in the south and the north. Within five, President Lincoln at minimum
contemplated arresting him. Within seven, he died in poverty while still chief justice.
Within eight, Congress had voted to not place a bust of him alongside those of the other
former chief justices. But good news tonight, Roger B. Taney is off
the hook. Today, the Supreme Court of Chief Justice John Roberts, in a decision that might
actually have more dire implications than Dred Scott v. Sanford, declared that because
of the alchemy of its 19th century predecessors in deciding that corporations had all the
rights of people, any restrictions on how these corporate beings spend their money on
political advertising are unconstitutional. In short, the First Amendment, free speech
for persons, which went into effect in 1791, applies to corporations, which were not recognized
as the equivalents of persons until 1886. In short, there are now no checks on the ability
of corporations or unions or other giant aggregations of power to decide our elections. None. They can spend all the money they want. And
if they can spend all the money they want, sooner rather than later, they will implant
the legislators of their choice in every office from president to head of the visiting nurse
service. And if senators and congressmen and governors and mayors and councilmen and everyone
in between are entirely beholden to the corporations for election and reelection to office, soon
they will erase whatever checks there might still exist to just slow down the ability
of corporations to decide the laws. It is almost literally true that any political
science fiction nightmare you can now dream up, no matter whether you are conservative
or a liberal, it is now legal. Because the people who can make it legal can now be entirely
bought and sold. No actual citizens required in the campaign fund raising process. And
the entirely bought and sold politicians can change any laws. And any legal defense you
can structure now can be undone by the politicians who will be bought and sold into office this
November, or two years from now. And any legal defense which honest politicians can somehow
wedge up against them this November or two years from now, that can be undone by the
next even larger set of politicians who will be bought and sold into office in 2014 or
2016 or 2018. Mentioning Lincoln’s supposed ruminations
about arresting Roger B. Taney, he didn’t say the original of this, but what the hell.
Right now you can prostitute all of the politicians some of the time, and prostitute some of the
politicians all of the time, but you cannot prostitute all of the politicians all the
time. Thanks to Chief Justice Roberts, this will
now change. Unless this near mortal blow is somehow undone, within ten years, every politician
in this country will be a prostitute. And now let’s contemplate what the perfectly
symmetrical money-driven world of that order might look like. Be prepared first for laws
criminalizing or at least neutering unions. In today’s court decision, they are the weaker
of the non-human sisters unfettered by the court. So, as in ancient Rome or medieval
England, they will necessarily be strangled by the stronger sibling, the corporations,
so that they pose no further threat to the corporations’ total control of our political
system. Be prepared then for the reduction of taxes
for the wealthy, and for the corporations, and the elimination of the social safety nets
for everybody else, because money spent on the poor means less money left for the corporations. Be prepared then for wars sold as the new
products, which Andy Card once described them as, year after year, as if they were new Fox
reality shows, because military industrial complex corporations are still corporations. Be prepared then for the ban on same sex marriage
and on abortion and on evolution being taught and on separation of church and state. The
most politically agitated group of citizens left are the evangelicals. Throw them some
red meat to feed their holier than thou rationalizations and they won’t care what else you do to this
corporate nation. Be prepared then for racial and religious
profiling, because you have to blame somebody for all the reductions in spending and civil
liberties, just to make sure the agitators against the United corporate States of America
are kept unheard. Be prepared for those poor, dumb, manipulated
bastards, the Tea Partiers, to have a glorious few years as the front men, as the corporations
that bank roll them slowly unroll their total control of our political system. And then
be prepared to watch them be banished, maybe outlawed, when a few of the brighter ones
suddenly realize that the corporations have made them merely the Judas Goats of American
freedom. Be prepared then for the bank reforms that
President Obama has just this day vowed to enable to be rolled back by his successor,
purchased by the banks, with the money President Bush gave them, his successor, presumably
President Palin, because if you need a friendly face of fascism, you might as well get one
that can wink. And if you need a tool of whichever large industries buy her first, you might
as well get somebody who lives up to that word “tool.” Be prepared for the little changes, too. If
there are any small towns left to take over, Wal-Mart can now soften them up with carpet
advertising for their Wal-Mart town council candidates brought to you by Wal-Mart. Be prepared for the Richard Mellon Scaifes
to drop such inefficiencies as vanity newspapers and simply buy and install their own city
governments in the Pittsburghs. Be prepared for the personally wealthy men
like John Kerry to become the paupers of the Senate, or the ones like Mike Bloomberg not
even surviving the primary against Halliburton’s choice for mayor of New York City. Be prepared for the end of what you’re watching
now. I don’t just mean me or this program or this network. I mean all the independent
news organizations and the propagandists like Fox, for that matter, because Fox inflames
people against the state. And after today’s ruling, the corporations will only need a
few more years of inflaming people before the message suddenly shifts to everything’s
great. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh don’t even realize
it. Today, John Roberts just cut their throats, too. So with critics silenced and bought off
and even the town assessor who lives next door to you elected to office with campaign
funds 99.9 percent drawn from corporations coffers, what are you going to do about it?
The Internet. The Internet. Ask them about the Internet
in China. Kiss net neutrality good-bye. Kiss whatever right to privacy on the net you think
you currently have good-bye. And anyway, what are you going to complain about if you don’t
even know it happened? In the new world unveiled this morning by
John Roberts, who stops Rupert Murdoch from buying the Associated Press? This decision,
which in mythology would rank somewhere between the bottomless pit and the opening of Pandora’s
Box, got next to no coverage in the right wing media today. Almost nothing in the middle
and a lot less than necessary on the left. The right wing won’t even tell their constituents
that they are being sold into bondage alongside the rest of us. Why should they? For them,
the start of this will be wonderful. The Republicans, the conservatives, the Joe Liebermans, the
Tea Partiers are in the front aisle at the political prostitution store. They are especially
discounted old favorites for their corporate masters. Like the first years of irreversible
climate change, for the conservatives, the previously cold winter will grow delightfully
warm. Only later will it be hot, then unbearable,
then flames. Then the conservatives will burn with the rest of us and never know what happened. What are you going to do about it? Turn to
free speech advocates? These were the free speech advocates. The lawyer for that homunculus,
one who filed this suit, David Bossie – the lawyer is Floyd Abrahams, Floyd Abrahams,
who has spent his life defending American freedoms, especially freedom of speech. Apparently,
his life was spent this way to guarantee that when it really counted he could help the corporations
destroy free speech. His argument, translated from self-satisfied
legal jargon, is that as a function of the first amendment, you must allow for the raping
and pillaging of the first amendment by people who can buy the first amendment. He will go
down in the history books as the quisling of freedom of speech in this country. That
is if the corporations who now buy the school boards which decide which history books get
printed approve, if there are still history books. So what are you going to do about it? Russ
Feingold told me today there might yet be ways to work around this, to restrict corporate
governance and how corporations make and spend their money. I pointed out that any such legislation,
even if it somehow sneaked past this the last US Senate not funded by a generous gift from
the chub group, would eventually wind up in front of a Supreme Court, and whether or not
John Roberts was still at its head would be irrelevant. The next nine men and women on
the Supreme Court will get there not because of their judgment nor even their politics.
They will get there because they were appointed by purchased presidents and confirmed by purchased
senators. This is what John Roberts did today. This
is a Supreme Court sanctioned murder of what little actual democracy is left in this democracy.
It is government of the people, by the corporations, for the corporations. It is the dark ages.
It is our Dred Scott. I would suggest a revolution, but a revolution
against the corporations? The corporations that make all the guns and the bullets? Maybe it won’t be this bad. Maybe the corporations,
legally defined as human beings but without the pesky occasional human attributes of compassion
and conscience, maybe when handed the only keys to the electoral machine, they will simply
not redesign America in their own corporate image. Let me leave you with this final question:
after today, who is going to stop them? Good night and good luck.

Comments

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    Seskal

    Wow, umm… anyone else watching this on this day? North Carolina?
    The "Be Prepared" part, Union busting in Wisconsin and elsewhere. The tax cuts. The wars? Syria coming up, all about "No boots on the ground, missiles, bombs etc. The Expensive kind. The abortion bans in the red states and purple under GOP control. (SameSex marriage still fought despite major wins) The racial voting laws, I'm sorry, the "Voter ID" laws. The Tea Party collapsing. God help if Sarah Palin runs third party.

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