Blog Flux Directory Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe with Bloglines Blog directory
And, yes, I DO take it personally: 09/13/2009 - 09/20/2009
Mandy: Great blog!
Mark: Thanks to all the contributors on this blog. When I want to get information on the events that really matter, I come here.
Penny: I'm glad I found your blog (from a comment on Think Progress), it's comprehensive and very insightful.
Eric: Nice site....I enjoyed it and will be back.
nora kelly: I enjoy your site. Keep it up! I particularly like your insights on Latin America.
Alison: Loquacious as ever with a touch of elegance -- & right on target as usual!
"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
Send tips and other comments to:

And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sotomayor touches on the critical but much-neglected topic of corporate "personhood"

i've exposed the issues around corporate "personhood" for several years in my graduate business course on leadership and organizations... the more i've thought about it, the more i've been dismayed to see how the 14th amendment has been twisted to serve corporate interests... it's enormously encouraging to me to see a brand new supreme court justice openly address this issue...
Judges “created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons,” she said, the Wall Street Journal noted Friday. “There could be an argument made that that was the court’s error to start with…[imbuing] a creature of state law with human characteristics.”

Corporations were first afforded the rights of persons under United States law in the 1800s, allowing them wide protections under federal code. Development of the law mushroomed as corporations — which were originally chartered by and in single states — began to grow larger and cross state lines. Eventually, courts ruled that states didn’t have the right to revoke contracts made by the corporations themselves. They also ruled that states didn’t have the unhindered right to revoke corporate charters.

Corporate personhood emerged from the 1886 Supreme Court Case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad.

The interpretation of law giving corporations individual rights is salient in the campaign finance debate because corporations with “human rights” under law also have a right to free speech. Those seeking to gut campaign finance regulations use this argument when positing that the ability for firms to spend lavishly on political campaigns is tantamount to their right to free speech.

here's more...
The U.S. Constitution, which defines our nation of popular sovereignty, boldly begins with three simple words, written large, "We the People." These three famous words convey responsibility equally to all people to make our own laws.

But "We the People" have never included all the people. Those in power always try to maintain power. Initially, only land-owning white men voted. It took a century, the Civil War and three constitutional amendments to abolish slavery and let black men vote. The 19th Amendment ratified in 1920 let women vote. In the 1960s, amendments eliminated poll taxes to protect poor, mostly black voters, and allowed Washington DC voters to participate in presidential elections. In 1971, the 26th Amendment established a consistent national minimum voting age.

But as soon as freed male slaves were allowed to vote, the wealthiest white men created a better way to maintain control. Starting in the 1880s, ironically using the 14th Amendment, one of the Reconstruction Amendments that abolished the legal fiction that a person was property, corporate attorneys convinced a few judges (who were previously corporate attorneys) to create corporate personhood, the legal fiction that property is a person. This gave corporations, which are non-human, artificial legal entities for owning property, some of the rights intended for freed slaves. Toiling another century, more attorneys convinced more judges to expand corporate rights to add protections from the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. (Legislators who were elected through the largesse of corporations shoulder the blame for allowing these decisions to stand.)

Today, corporate personhood is fully mature, giving corporations all the rights necessary to combine with their wealth to control our governance. Using modern media and marketing science, voters are persuaded which candidates to elect. With gifts, campaign contributions and no spending limits on lobbyists, lawmakers are influenced. "We the People" are not in control; instead, non-humans dominate the process of making laws that control humans!

Don't be fooled into believing that corporations are controlled by humans. Although corporations were initially created centuries ago by lawmakers for the purpose of serving the public good, they now must obey legal obligations to strive for profit, not public good. Corporations are not human, they simply don't share our morality or mortality and they have no business participating in the process of making laws that govern people. Democracy embodies the ideal of one person, one vote, but corporations have hijacked democracy by diminishing the power of all our votes below the influence of their wealth.

To gain control, humans must ban corporations from politics using a constitutional amendment that abolishes corporate personhood. Corporations serve a vital function in our society; they allow capital to be combined to accomplish amazing things. They drive our glorious way of life and prosperity. We must provide corporations with the rights and tools they need to thrive while serving the public good; we can do that without letting them participate in our law making process. But they'll use their persuasive powers to disagree. They'll vilify candidates who promise to limit corporate influence. We must be strong and ignore their deluge of ads and pundits, and only vote for candidates who put "We the People" above "We the Corporations."

Labels: , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

"You Lie"

Well, it looks like we finally found out really caused Joe Wilson's outburst.

For those that missed it, SNL has the scoop.

Labels: , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Friday, September 18, 2009

"It takes a willful act of ignorance ... not to perceive the United States as the latest in history’s falling empires"

david michael green via information clearing house...
I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which proposing a new and better version of corporate-plunder masquerading as national health care gets you burned in effigy for being a socialist stooge by gun-toting angry mobs.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which the same people who hate you for being a socialist simultaneously hate you for being a fascist.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which angry mobs of supposed anti-socialist demonstrators scream at their congressional representatives to “keep your government hands off my Medicare”.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which claims that the government is going to start killing off seniors are taken seriously by tens of millions of people.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which people are all worked up about government czars, but sat silently while the Bush administration destroyed the Bill of Rights and used a thousand signing statements to write Congress out of the Constitution.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which deficits have all of a sudden become the source of enormous anger among people who said nothing about them previously, as the tax cuts for the wealthy, off-budget wars based on lies, and unfunded prescription drug Big Pharma giveaway transmogrified the biggest surplus in American history into the biggest deficit ever.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which politicians can rant incessantly about other peoples’ sexual morality, get caught screwing prostitutes, and then still be reelected to the highest ranks of government by trashing the president.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.

my thoughts exactly... and, btw, the above is just a teaser... you owe it to yourself to go read the whole thing...

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jimmy ain't backin' down

following on to a previous post, here's an excerpt from jimmy carter speaking at a town hall meeting at emory university...
When a radical fringe element of demonstrators, and others, begin to attack the President of the United States of America as an animal, or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, or when they wave signs in the air that say we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kind of things are beyond the bounds of the way Presidents have been accepted, even with people who disagree, and I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced by a major degree by a belief that he should not be President, because he happens to be African-American. It's a racist attitude... My expectation is, that in the future, both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the President of the United States.

carter is rapidly becoming my hero... he has emerged as one of the leading truthtellers in this spin-besotted, pandering world of ours... i'm sure he also sees himself as having seen too much, being too old and having too little time left to do anything less...

ok, it's not ALL racism, but i do believe that some of those who are making the most strident attacks are driven to such lengths by an underlying belief in the status of black people as lesser human beings... i honestly think that there's little else that could produce such vehemence...

Labels: , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

This Is Priceless

This should be the 'Quote of the Year'.

Speaking of Alabama Senator, Richard 'Whitesheet' Shelby's criticism of ACORN:

"Just because he's a United States Senator, doesn't make his mouth a prayerbook"
~Bertha Lewis, CEO of ACORN

Courtesy of MSNBC's Ed Schultz Show.

Labels: , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jimmy Carter: Many white people believe "that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country" [UPDATE]

jimmy carter via msnbc...

"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man," Carter said. "I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that share the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans."

Carter continued, "And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply."

there are those of us who are becoming seriously disillusioned with obama for things that have nothing to do with his race, but i see a much larger group of people, all of them white, who are attacking obama for things that are stunningly wrong-headed, many if not most of which are very thin cover for inherently racist sentiment... and, as i've said before, jimmy carter may be one of our most precious national treasures...


i don't get why the white house feels it necessary to comment on this at all, much less to dismiss it... it is an act of patent denial to say that criticism of obama has no basis in racism... is ALL of the criticism based on racism...? of course not, as i attempted to point out above... however, i do believe it is an unfortunate use of blinders to claim that none of it is... i have zero doubt that there are racist views out there on the right AND the left and we claim they don't exist at our peril...
US President Barack Obama does not believe current criticism of his policies is based on the colour of his skin, the White House has said.

It was responding to comments by former President Jimmy Carter that much of the vitriol against Mr Obama's health and spending plans was "based on racism".


White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Mr Obama "does not believe that the criticism comes based on the colour of his skin".

"We understand that people have disagreements with some of the decisions that we've made and some of the extraordinary actions that had to be undertaken by this administration," Mr Gibbs said.

i can certainly see why the obama folks wouldn't want to come out in SUPPORT of carter's remarks but i do wish they'd just kept their damn mouths shut... (yeah, yeah, i know... silence = consent, but i'm getting damn sick and tired of this blind, pollyanna-ish devotion to high-mindedness and bipartisanship...)

Labels: , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse and we're still waiting for the issues to be dealt with

nouriel roubini's rge monitor details the amount of financial institution crap that, apparently, is still crying out to be dealt with, one full year after the lehman brothers collapse...
What's Still the Same?

  • Too big to fail banks are now even bigger and leverage has increased across the board. With the incorporation of insolvent competitors and the forced re-intermediation of formerly off-balance sheet vehicles, the leverage ratio of global banks has jumped to around 40-50 in the U.S., Europe, and the UK in 2008, according to InvestorsInsight. In 2010, up to US$900 billion of remaining off-balance sheet vehicles will have to be consolidated.
  • While systemic banks benefit from implicit and explicit government backstops, a resolution regime for all systemically large and complex institutions like Fannie and Freddie, for example--arguably one of the most important measures-- is stalling in Congress amid waning political support. Moreover, there is strong lobbying against the Consumer Protection Agency, whose fate is unclear. It is not decided yet who will be the systemic risk regulator: the Fed or the Systemic Risk Council.
  • The lack of any disciplining mechanism represents an incentive for large players to engage in risky trading activities with value-at-risk (VaR) measures back at record levels in Q2 2009 for the top five banks, with US$1.04 billion at risk to be lost at any given trading day, according to press reports.
  • The TARP Oversight Panel mentioned in its August 2009 report that toxic assets are still on banks' books. They are likely to be found in the Level 3 accounting category (mark-to-model) due to valuation difficulties. As of Q1 2009, the large banks have US$657 billion of Level 3 assets on their books.
  • Commercial Real Estate (CRE) Risk: Fitch reports that "while CRE loans, excluding the more problematic construction and development portfolios, represent more than 125% of total equity for the 20 largest banks rated by Fitch, the risk is even higher for banks with less than $20 billion in assets, as average CRE exposure represents more than 200% of total equity for these institutions." Fitch also announces ratings review by September.
  • Dependence on wholesale funding markets is likely to remain an issue. The financing shortfall from the lack of securitization left a funding hole of about US$2 trillion and the market is still damaged from an overhang in legacy assets.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chris Hedges: Barack Obama is a "tool of the corporate state"

i'll tell ya something... i have zero desire to put up posts like this... there is a large part of me that strongly resists wrapping my mind around the thoughts expressed by chris hedges in this article and i would desperately like to see him proven wrong... in the meantime, however, i have to be true to my sense of the reality of what's going on... as much comfort as there can be in denial, i've come to recognize it for the toxic place it is...
The right-wing accusations against Barack Obama are true. He is a socialist, although he practices socialism for corporations. He is squandering the country’s future with deficits that can never be repaid. He has retained and even bolstered our surveillance state to spy on Americans. He is forcing us to buy into a health care system that will enrich corporations and expand the abuse of our for-profit medical care. He will not stanch unemployment. He will not end our wars. He will not rebuild the nation. He is a tool of the corporate state.

The right wing is not wrong. It is not the problem. We are the problem. If we do not tap into the justifiable anger sweeping across the nation, if we do not militantly push back against corporate fraud and imperial wars that we cannot win or afford, the political vacuum we have created will be filled with right-wing lunatics and proto-fascists. The goons will inherit power not because they are astute, but because we are weak and inept.

yeah, well, ok chris... i'm properly shamed... now what...?

Labels: , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Joseph Stiglitz: “The question then is who is going to finance the U.S. government”

yep... that's the question all right...

from bloomberg...

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, said the U.S. has failed to fix the underlying problems of its banking system after the credit crunch and the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

“In the U.S. and many other countries, the too-big-to-fail banks have become even bigger,” Stiglitz said in an interview today in Paris. “The problems are worse than they were in 2007 before the crisis.”


“It’s an outrage,” especially “in the U.S. where we poured so much money into the banks,” Stiglitz said. “The administration seems very reluctant to do what is necessary. Yes they’ll do something, the question is: Will they do as much as required?”


“We’re going into an extended period of weak economy, of economic malaise,” Stiglitz said. The U.S. will “grow but not enough to offset the increase in the population,” he said, adding that “if workers do not have income, it’s very hard to see how the U.S. will generate the demand that the world economy needs.”

The Federal Reserve faces a “quandary” in ending its monetary stimulus programs because doing so may drive up the cost of borrowing for the U.S. government, he said.

“The question then is who is going to finance the U.S. government,” Stiglitz said.

not mentioned in the article is obama's abject betrayal of those of us who voted for this "bait-and-switch" president with the highest of hopes and despite our reservations...

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The on-going soap opera of the Afghan presidential election


the fallout from the afghanistan presidential election continues, none of it good...

juan cole points out that, with dr. abdullah abdullah now accusing president karzai of engineering the election using government resources, the likelihood of a positive resolution any time soon seems to be fast receding into the distance...
Abdullah wants there to be a run-off election, which likely will not be necessary by current rules, which require it only if no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote. But Abdullah believes that the votes that put Karzai up to 54% were at least in part fraudulent and the result of vote-buying with state monies. A run-off is also becoming difficult to hold unless it is scheduled very soon, because winter snows will limit the mobility of much of the population until the spring. But the Independent Electoral Commission is warning that a complete count of the first round may still be weeks away. For Afghanistan to be without a president all winter and spring could be disastrous, not only for the country but also for the Obama administration' s military strategy.

karzai's campaign headquarters just so happens to be two buildings away from the project office where i am sitting typing this post... needless to say, the street in front of that building that provided us convenient access to a main thoroughfare has been closed off with security barriers and guards... oh, well...

Labels: , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments