Wake Up Citizens

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I am a bit annoyed. Truthfully, I am more than a bit annoyed, I am over the top, heels over ass pissed the hell right off. What is wrong with people? By people, I do have specific people in mind.

markmeadows

Seditious Mark Meadows, Jr Congressman North Carolina (R)

I could list the seventy-nine seditious ass clowns who signed the letter initiated by North Carolina Junior Representative Mark Meadows; instead, I will simply provide you the link to his site, which includes the letter and the signatures1. I want to talk about something other than the shutdown of the United States government, though my subject is closely tied to this one.

I don’t want to talk about those subversive son-of-bitches in D.C., they simply do not care; keeping in mind, they are still collecting their pay. Don’t be fooled by their sad eyed bullshit, they got their checks on September 30 through Direct Deposit and are not expecting another until October 30. They cannot ‘defer’ their own pay; no indeed not, it is all a great big lie. The only thing they can do is donate it and very few of them are doing that.

So let’s talk about what is equally important, what is critical to the function of our government and your and my voice in the future. We don’t have much of one left because the last time something this important was before SCOTUS we blinked. If we blink this time, we lose our voice, perhaps forever.

McCutcheon v. FEC

With Citizen United v.FEC the door was opened to corporations, giving them the same voice citizens had in the workings of our government. Now of course this isn’t true, corporations, especially multi-national corporations, have a great deal more money than you and I thus they had more to give. In essence, what SCOTUS said with their ruling, money is speech, corporations just like you, and I have the same First Amendment Rights to Free Speech. Citizen United broke the dam, opened the floodgates and the money poured in as the legislators at every level (federal, state and local) draped  “For Sale” signs around their necks and stuck their hands out. The voice of the citizen, it was drowned out by the voice of the big business and their CEO’s, as it never had been before.

We were asleep. We let this happen. Only after the fact, have some of us woken up to what this meant to our political systems, to our democratic republic. Now, only after the fact we do we bemoan the loss of our voice in Congress. Now, as we watch the Koch funded Tea Party terrorist shut down the government do we shake our head in dismay and question our reasoning. Now, as we watch those sleazy and ignorant knuckle draggers obstruct the appropriate workings of our government and threaten the economy of this nation and the f’ng world, do we realize what it meant to cede our authority and our voice in the government “by the People and for the People” do we realize what ‘money as speech’ means. Unfortunately, there are still those, even those without a pot to piss in or window to throw it out of, who continues to defend Citizens United, the Tea Party and those who would strip the very meat off their bones.

So, let us quickly talk about McCutcheon v. FEC, which was argued before SCOTUS on 8-October to raise further individual campaign limits to $3.5M per donor to a single party’s candidates, parties or committees. Previously, a single donor was limited to $123,000 in direct donation to parties or committees, or $2,600 in individual contributions to 17 candidates for a total of $46,200 and an additional $70,800 to a political action committee (PAC) or group within a two-year federal cycle. Keep in mind this is only on the federal level, these wealthy donors are not similarly limited at the state or local level. Mr. McCutcheon though, he is outraged his voice is limited, his ability to buy his own personal Congressman or woman is limited in this way.

Those who have joined in his suit, they are also similarly outraged. They are:

  • The Republican National Committee
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joining as an outside party

Oh, did I forget to mention Shaun McCutcheon is a little known multi-millionaire from Alabama who is active in conservative circles? Yes, indeed our friend Mr. McCutcheon is another one of the ‘big’ donors who likes to buy up legislators to make certain his personal agenda is well represented at the expense of all the rest of America’s citizens. He is the CEO of Coalmont Electrical Development, an engineering firm specializing in mining. He is according to the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, Bill Armistead, a sincere Republican and Activist. This sincere member of the 1% first broached the idea of his lawsuit to further strip your and my voices from the public forum at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)2.

We need too really think hard about this one for just one minute, currently a single donor can give $123,000 in any two-year cycle. This amount is twice what the average American family earns, that is two times what the Average American Family has to pay their bills with, save against catastrophe with, save for their children’s future education with, pay for their healthcare with, feed themselves with and contribute to political campaigns, candidates, committees and parties from. Consider some of this:

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A bit of history is important, limits were put in place to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption after Nixon and the Watergate scandal of the 1970’s. Watergate led to changes in campaign financing, as well as, the Freedom of Information Act in 1974. In addition to these legislative changes, it became expected that candidates would disclose personal finances including tax filings. In fact, Mitt Romney was the first presidential candidate since that time to balk at the release of personal financial information, wonder why that was.

So we must ask the question, like so much else we achieved to move this nation forward toward equality in the past one hundred years, why this why now? I think I can answer this question, we have the perfect storm, we have a court that will continue to strip away, every progressive accomplishment and every citizen’s right we have gained. Someday, those at the top will look back and it won’t be Ronald Reagan they will worship it will be George W. Bush, who tipped the scales of the Supreme Court in their favor.

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Are you willing to see this happen? I am certainly not prepared for the slide backward, not in my lifetime. I am constantly astounded when anyone who is barely able to meet their rent or mortgage defends the likes of Shaun McCutcheon, the infamous Koch brothers or for that matter the GOP and their slimy Right Wing minority the Tea Party contingent. Is it not clear yet? These people are not your friends, their version of the American Dream is an American Nightmare for 99% of us, this Shutdown is only a taste of what is to come under their vision of our future.

Tell SCOTUS, tell your Representative, tell the Administration: Enough is Enough. Return America to the People. Restore Campaign Finance.

Tell the Supreme Court No: http://www.demos.org/mccutcheon-v-fec-new-citizens-united

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1http://meadows.house.gov/press-releases/meadows-sends-letter-encouraging-house-leadership-to-defund-obamacare/#.UlV_9FDoZ8F

2http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/08/meet-shaun-mccutcheon-the-republican-activist-trying-to-make-history-at-the-supreme-court.html

Election Spending: http://www.demos.org/publication/election-spending-2012-pre-election-analysis-federal-election-commission-data

Complete Analysis: http://www.demos.org/publication/stop-next-citizens-united

Brief filed with court: http://www.demos.org/publication/amicus-brief-supreme-court-mccutcheon-v-fec

Report Special Interest over National Interest: http://www.demos.org/publication/billion-dollar-democracy-unprecedented-role-money-2012-elections

Super Pac money Auctioning Democracy: http://www.demos.org/publication/auctioning-democracy-rise-super-pacs-and-2012-election

Millionaire Megaphones: http://www.demos.org/publication/million-dollar-megaphones-super-pacs-and-unlimited-outside-spending-2012-elections

Race 2012, Rewrite

I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifice of themselves, by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be that I live not to weep over it. If they would but dispassionately weigh the blessings they will throw away, against an abstract principle more likely to be effected by union than by scission, they would pause before they would perpetrate this act of suicide on themselves and of treason against the hopes of the world. To yourself, as the faithful advocate of the Union, I tender the offering of my high esteem and respect.

The Fire Bell in the Night, Monticello April 20, 1820

Thomas Jefferson to John Holmes

Thomas Jefferson, in his letter was talking about the Missouri Compromise that allowed entry of a new state into the Union as a Slave State, something Jefferson was vehemently opposed to. In fact as early as 1787 the issue of Slavery was discussed by the nation’s founders as one that would ultimately destroy the new Republic. Though many of the founding fathers were slaveholders, there was a firm belief the nation could not for long support the buying and selling of human chattel and remain on the right side of history.

During the convention, on June 6 James Madison first raised the issue of Slavery, despite being a slave owner himself like many others he abhorred the practice of the slave trade and wanted to see it ended. His first comment during the convention were;

“that we have seen the mere distinction of colour made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.”

His feelings were echoed by others, in the end the compromised language of Section 9 is what was agreed to. The fear expressed by many of the signers of the Constitution is Twenty years was a long time for mischief to be gotten up to, they were right of course, slavery spread instead of ending and before those twenty years were up, though importation became illegal in 1808 by then America could well supply its own. What we ended up with was a compromise in Section 9 Article 1 of the Constitution:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

Our history of xenophobia; our fear of other has remained a cornerstone of legislative actions though we try to whitewash this.

Dredd Scott
Wikipedia

Slavery is a terrible stain, eventually leading to the Dredd Scott decision, ultimately giving heft to Reconstruction,
Jim Crow and legal Segregation; decades of Separate and Unequal. The framework of Dredd Scott set the standard for other equally
terrible actions by our government and jingoistic acts of our people.

Let us look for a minute at some of the other terrible stains and what they meant;

Ongoing – Decimation of the Native Tribes through broken treaties, acts of aggression, intentional infection, starvation and ongoing poverty.

1882 – Chinese immigration explodes spurred by the California Gold Rush and results in the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Exclusion Act restricts further immigration and prevents those individuals already in the US from becoming Citizens, ever. The Chinese immigrant was so hated this Act remained in place until 1943.

Mochida family awaiting evacuation all tagged to keep them together
Wikipedia

1942 – Japanese Internment of approximately 110,000 United States citizens of Japanese descent. Racial prejudice was the primary fuel of the Japanese Internment, not any real acts of treason, General DeWitt who was in charge of Internment repeatedly told newspapers “A Jap is a Jap”.

1876 – 1965 Jim Crow, is there anything that speaks the heart of this nations underlying racial conscious more than nearly one hundred years of laws designed to strip equality

White Trade Only, Lancaster, Ohio
Wikipedia

from an entire group of citizens? We think of Jim Crow as something that was a southern problem and indeed the south was open in their racial segregation, but nowhere in this nation were we truly free of Jim Crow thinking only the outward symbolism might not have been so blatant.

2001 – Islamic Backlash; the attack of 9/11 has created wave after wave of legislation at state levels banning Sharia Law from our justice system, which has never been a threat. While the attack by a group of Islamic Fundamentalist on 9/11 was both terrible and heartbreaking, like Pearl Harbor it was not conducted by US Citizens. We have chosen, even those elected officials who should be more restrained in their language, instead  to fan the flames of religious and racial hate. Rather than condemning religious and racial intolerance we fall in line behind the Christian minister, burning the Quran on the front lawn of his church and the Congresswoman calling for an investigation of an aide to the Secretary of State because she is a practicing Muslim.

I would like to think these are not pernicious attacks made out of ignorance, I know better. These like every other example are simply more of the same, more vitriol made by ignorant and fearful people trying to keep their piece of the rock safe from ‘other’.

My personal opinion is a nation that can justify the enslavement of a people based entirely on the color of their skin is able to justify any other evil. A nation that sits in church and listens to their minister rail against ‘other’, as this nation continues to do, is capable of any evil. We embrace hate though we don’t recognize it in ourselves. We wrap ourselves in the mantle of self-righteousness and flag pins, point our fingers at the other side and call names, ‘Progressive Scum’, ‘Socialist’ and ‘Feminist’ are my personal favorites.

We allow Ministers of the Word of Christ to fill our airwaves with Hate and Lies, we nod our heads and say ‘Amen Brother’, when they tell us Homosexuals, Muslims and sometimes women are not of the same quality of human being as ‘the rest of us’ and are sometimes even deserving of death. We vote to strip entire groups of our fellow citizens of their civil rights and we smile as we leave the voting booth, convinced we have done the right thing, we are on the side of God, Mom and Apple Pie.

We now have the book ends, over one hundred fifty years apart of Dredd Scott and Citizen United, one confirmed human beings as property with no rights the other confirmed corporations as people with greater rights than some of our own citizens.

Bookends of the Argument over 150 years apart.

Post Racial America? Please spare me the rhetoric, we aren’t even close. We haven’t embraced the truth of our past as we attempt to rewrite it in more pleasant terms.

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:45

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