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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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Disclosing the Meekness of the "Disclose" Bill

Comment

At last, after weeks of analyzing, calculating, pondering, consulting and crafting, Democratic leaders in Washington have unveiled their much-awaited legislative response to the Supreme Court's January decision in the infamous case of Citizens United. That's the destructive dictate that allows oceans of corporate cash to flood America's elections and drown out the voices of ordinary people.

Hold onto your socks, because — Ta-Dah — here is the Democrats' response: The DISCLOSE Act! Or, by it's full moniker, the "Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections" Act. (Gosh, couldn't they have come up with a more cumbersome title?)

More to the point, couldn't they have come up with a more proportional response to the Court's enthronement of corporate money over our people's democratic authority? The decision was nothing less than a black-robed coup by five men — Sam Alito, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — who abused their positions on the bench to pervert our First Amendment.

They arbitrarily declared that self-serving, bloodless corporate entities have political "rights" that make them superior to people. The 5-4 ruling by these extremist, right-wing corporatists in the Citizens United case is the nuclear bomb of politics, for it allows any and every corporation — from Wall Street to Walmart — to pour unlimited sums of money directly from its massive treasuries into campaigns to elect or defeat its chosen ones.

And the Democrats' response to this crass power grab — which literally legalizes the corporate purchase of our government — is a disclosure bill?

Yes. Though, in fairness, the Dems do insist that it is a "sweeping" disclosure bill. President Obama, who had publicly pledged in January to undo the court's anti-democratic decree, lauded the DISCLOSE proposal as the fulfillment of his pledge, calling it the "toughest ever disclosure requirements for election-related spending by big-oil corporations, Wall Street and other special interests, so the American people can follow the money and see clearly which special interests are funding political campaign activity and trying to buy representation in our government."

Well, yes, but it's still only a disclosure bill.

The bill's stated purpose is to help voters know who (or what) is behind paid political ads. Corporations and their front groups must put the names of an ad's sponsors on the screen, and the top executive of the corporation or group must appear on camera to "approve" the ad. All of this is good, of course, and long overdue, but this is not going to stop a tsunami of corporate money from swamping our elections. Corporations have packs of legal beagles already chewing loopholes in the bill so corporate sponsors can obscure their involvement.

Besides, even if the disclosure provisions are airtight, they actually sanction the corporate purchase of our democracy — it's OK to spend all you want, the bill effectively says, but you must disclose the thievery. That's like legalizing armed robbery, as long as the robbers wear nametags.

Where is the audacity, the boldness, to do what needs to be done? The proper response here can be expressed in one word: "No." Better yet, two words: "Hell, no!" In fact, this emphatic rejection of Citizens United is what the overwhelming majority of Americans want — 83 percent of the public (including 76 percent of Republicans) wants the ban on corporate election spending reinstated. The way to do this is through a constitutional amendment that directly reverses the court's perversity.

Democratic congressional leaders say they abandoned such direct and effective measures because they wanted to attract bipartisan support. Really? How'd that work out for them? Big surprise: Not a single Republican senator and only one House Republican signed on as a co-sponsor of DISCLOSE.

We can't let pusillanimous Democrats get away with this pathetic response to a historic wrong. The court can issue rulings, but We the People are the rulers. If Democrats won't stand up, we must — after all, it's our democracy that is being handed over to a corporate plutocracy.

To connect with grassroots efforts to overrule the court by passing a constitutional amendment, check out these groups: freespeechforpeople.org, dontgetrolled.com and movetoamend.org.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

8 Comments | Post Comment
The United States is a republic, not a democracy. No wonder your ideas are so wrong-headed.
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Thu May 27, 2010 2:41 AM
Where has all this talk about the US not being a democracy been coming from lately. As a High School Social Studies Teacher I wonder when people began to confuse these things anyway. Democracy just means that people elect individuals who make the decisions about government. This country does that, and our constitution protects the right for us to do that, so to say that we are not a democracy goes against the fundamental rights established by our constitution. David, your comment doesn't have any substance. Your not challenging the facts of this article nor the content. Further your using words like republic in the wrong context. This country is technically a democratically elected constitutional republic with a minority plutocratic hold. It seems more and more that the plutocracy of our society is growing and the democracy of our society is shrinking (thank you Citizen United), however, we the people with our Democratic rights (in this democratically elected constitutional republic (which is becoming more a pure plutocracy)) can stand above this and listen to logical thinkers like Hightower who speak the truth and stop focusing on our silly ideas about what the design of this country is. Regardless of the definition of what our country is we need to make changes if we hope to secure a future for our nation.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Anthony T. Hanson
Thu May 27, 2010 9:45 AM
Hightower is a typical liberal who believes that most people are so stupid that a pretty commercial will change how people will think and vote. Politcs were no cleaner after McCain-Feingold then they were before, they are probably worse now. In addition, each election cycle sets the record for campaign spending. Each citizen has one vote, each corporation still has zero votes.
I know corporations are the most evil entities since the nazis, but they employ more than half the people in this country and pay most of the taxes, maybe its not so unfair that they at least have the opportunity to be heard. For the market place of ideas to be succesful and fair everyone and every interest should be allowed to voice their opinions, the voters can then choose.
Comment: #3
Posted by: zach
Sun May 30, 2010 1:38 AM
Re: Anthony T. Hanson "This country is technically a democratically elected constitutional republic with a minority plutocratic hold." Thank you for confirming my point, that this country is not a democracy. I failed to elaborate on the democratically elected constitutional part, and for that I apologize. The Supreme Court (part of the democratically elected constitutional republic system in this country) recognized the reality that corporations are groups of like-minded individuals, each retaining their constitutional rights to support anyone they want, in a collective environment. I will try to use the expanded definition of republic that has been presented here but, continue to denounce those who categorize this country as a democracy. A democracy is two wolves and a chicken deciding what to have for lunch.
Comment: #4
Posted by: David Henricks
Sun May 30, 2010 2:14 AM
Re: zach: "Hightower is a typical liberal who believes that most people are so stupid that a pretty commercial will change how people will think and vote."
It is NOT Hightower's political beliefs that provoke the belief that "people are so stupid that a pretty commercial will change how people will think and vote". I'm certain that for Hightower... that observation is based upon an understanding of human behavior... his long-term observations and his wealth of personal experiences.
To deny the validity of the statement is a blatant display of ignorance. It would be rather difficult to convince those that pay exorbitant amounts of money.... to produce and disseminate "pretty" commercials... to provoke people to spend money they don't have to buy things they don't need... is wasted effort. The US consumer economy is totally based on the success of "pretty" commercials... that prey on the psychological weaknesses of the audience and manipulates the viewers to do EXACTLY what Mr. zach believes doesn't happen.
Mr. zach's belief IN ITSELF is stupid - not ignorant... stupid! Would a multi-billion dollar industry exist if "pretty" commercials didn't "work"? I'm certain that Mr. zach has often heard from pundits and politicians that "The American people are not stupid"... and his acceptance of that manipulation is the basis of his statement. For certain... Mr. zach has encountered more "stupid" Americans... than those totally unaffected by the constant barrage of disinformation. Think for a moment about a person of the caliber of George W. Bush. How could such a person become President of the United States of America? TWICE!?! Ya think those pretty commercials might have played a part... in blinding people to the reality of George W. Bush?
I can't fix "stupid" but I can help with "ignorance". It's time to spend a few hours and learn exactly who started this mass manipulation... why they started it... and how it's been used ever since. Watch "The Century of Self" by Adam Curtis - three episodes available for FREE at http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=8339
From the page: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized."
Comment: #5
Posted by: Vito Caputo
Sun May 30, 2010 11:00 AM
#1 : You live in a MONEYCRACY! The more money the more justice ,the more money the more political influence so wise up!
Comment: #6
Posted by: Ed Cool
Mon May 31, 2010 8:44 AM
The only way we can get our country back is to cut off the money spigot. The bankers and hedge fund managers, etc. who earn the equivalent of thousands of teachers salaries or the atheletes and other entertainers who earn what hundreds of teachers earn deserve it. Perhaps a person who discovered a cure for cancer, aids or even the common cold might be worthy of that kind of salary, certainly a leader who actually delivered World Peace would be worthy. All of us contribute in some way as customers of these people earning these obscene salaries. We should each assess our spending habits in an attempt to halt this. But also government at all levels gives these people contracts, tax breaks, and bailouts, etc. The government should set a "MAXIMUM" wage for those getting these contracts, tax breaks, and bailouts. We can do all the "shopping local" we want but if the government continues to reward these greedheads at our expense it will do no good.
Comment: #7
Posted by: John Despard
Wed Jun 2, 2010 9:37 PM
I can't fathom why it is beyond the imagination of Congress to propose an amendment to the Constitution. Just a simple one, that says that only flesh and blood human beings can be 'persons' under the law, and that only 'persons' as defined under the law can have the rights or protections of citizenship. Seems to me that would solve several problems at once.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Rev. Dave
Thu Jun 3, 2010 7:55 PM
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