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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Somebody Chain This beast

It will be an interesting morning. Pardon me while I engage in a Santelli rant, but the Supreme Court has just gone too far.

"Citizens United v Federal Election Commission" is naked doublespeak of the first order, and a judicial overreach of epic proportions. Last time I checked, a "citizen" of the United States was defined as a single biological human being. Not a corporation or a union or a church or a community organization, but a person that has exactly one life and identity.

The decision is the end result of a long campaign by radical reconstructionists of the right. It rests on the ridiculous 19th Century legal fiction that corporations are persons. This abomination of legalese is "grounded" in the 14th Amendment, which clearly states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Emphasis mine)

Get that? Corporations aren't born; they are legal inventions with state-sanctioned paperwork for DNA. How do these non-biological entities, existing through an obeisant contrivance of government, merit equal protection of the constitution?

More importantly, why don't actual people enjoy the kind of legal protections America provides to corporations?

For the better part of five generations, the Beltway consensus was that corporate persons should be free to invest in government, to enlarge themselves at taxpayer expense, and to influence the very language of legislation. The results are a health care system going broke and a banking system that lost trillions of dollars in value and produced this recession we're all enjoying.

The left needs to answer all this teabagging nonsense: I suggest we start a Fourteenther movement right away. This egregious, Orwellian decision comes at exactly the right time. Progressives, take note: a keystone issue is suddenly hot, so it's time to raise a ruckus.

And raise it we must. Freedom of the press belongs to the owner of the press, and practically all of mass media is corporate-owned. The supremes having long upheld the supremacy of editorial prerogatives, you can count on Glenn Beck to gloss over this "person" business; Rupert Murdoch is just about the last person on Earth to invite questions about corporate personhood, and Republicans are falling all over themselves to tell a compliant mass media why Citizens is the most important blow for freedom since Plessy v Ferguson.

Which is true as long as you, y'know, think Goldman-Sachs is a person.

Which demands another question: what happens to actual breathing/bleeding human beings who sell $40 billion of something they know to be toxic? What penalties would we extract from any person who then made bets about how long it would take for that toxic waste to kill other "citizens" of its kind?

Never mind the millions of actual, living, breathing human beings unemployed, their children born in debt to pay for the latest round of CEO bonuses. It sure has been a good year for Goldman-Sachs! But I digress.

The answer, of course, is that nowhere would be safe. That "person" would be pursued to the ends of the Earth. They would lose their freedom, their fortune, and quite possibly their life. They would be universally reviled and their trial would be discussed daily across the length and breadth of cable media. No one would want to own such a person or give them refuge. It would show up in late-night television sketches:

Now the Supreme Court, in the greatest case of judicial overreach since Roe vee Wade™, has determined that Goldman-Sachs is a citizen of good standing who may broadcast its apologias between psychic pets and laundry detergent advertisements. It may influence the political discourse freely and without reserve wearing an infinite number of guises on any number of channels.

There are currently millions of Americans, mostly men, unable to vote because of felony restrictions. Goldman-Sachs is a psychopath with a media megaphone at its disposal, courtesy of the very corporate media that will dominate the discussion of the president's tirade today. I say that Obama has a golden opportunity here to grab the political center with a key progressive issue by bringing it to the center.

Corporate personhood exists for the purpose of divorcing men like Lloyd Blankfein from the consequences of their actions. Well, I say enough: the man's metaphorical head must roll and the crime for which he bears executive responsibility must be punished. I don't even care if Goldman-Sachs experiences a corporate makeover in the process, but America cannot afford to reward this kind of behavior with taxpayer dollars.

If politicos want to obstruct reform in the name of fictitious persons set free by an amendment clearly intended solely for recently freed members of homo sapiens, there isn't much we can do. But who will have the guts to talk about corporate personhood this morning in the wake of Obama's speech? And how quickly will the issue meet an apologia for the role of corporations in American life today?

Corporate personhood has to end. They aren't people, and if they were people we would lock them up more often than any ethnic or national group. Goldperson-Sachsium is a species only known to legal science. It is definitely not a human, but a kind of useful animal.

Some animals are no use to the American people and should be treated like any vicious predator would be: captured, chained, and disposed: be rehabilitated and released, or die.

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