Friday, January 29, 2010

The Supreme Court Decides that Corporations Are Persons on Basis of The 1st Amendment, Thus Verifying the Old Hack: "Money Talks"!

Blogger's Note: The People's E-Mail Network or "The Pen" sends e-mail announcements to it's list only rarely, when something of the greatest urgency should be brought to The People's attention.  The one that I reproduce below is one of the most important ever.  I urge you to read and think about it and then submit the easy-to-use Action Pages ...and perchance sign onto The Pen's list.

Five Supreme Court Judges Do Da Corporate Takeover Hustle, And They Must Be Stopped

The Pen

This the second in a series of action alerts about the fundamental
willful and pernicious errors underlying the decision by 5 agenda
driven right wing judges on the Supreme Court to gut all restraints
on corporate meddling in our elections. Each of these successive
alerts will analyze additional derelict aspects of this shameful and
truly dangerous decision, to further demonstrate why we the people
must speak out and act to reverse it.

In the first alert we made the triable case (which no attorney has
written us to dispute) that failing to even bother to distinguish
between domestic and foreign owned corporations, and knowingly
leaving America vulnerable to the latter BY their ruling, was de
facto an act of treason by The Supreme Court 5.

This alert will focus on the abandonment of every prudent rule of
judicial review, in favor of haste and the most extreme form of
judicial activism, again with specific page number references to the
opinion itself.

There are TWO critical action pages related to this, which we are
asking each of our participants to submit and also pass on to
everyone you know, which will send your message by fax to all your
own members of Congress, and President Obama too. You do not need your own fax machine to participate, the action pages do all this for you automatically in real time.

Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People

Action Page: Impeach The Supreme Court 5

The most bedrock principle of appellate review is that first an
appellant must have PRESERVED the issue for appeal, by arguing and
getting a ruling on the point of law from the court below,
necessitating fact finding by the lower court to create a "record".
Innumerable appellants since the beginning of time have had the door
to review slammed in their face with the admonition that if they HAD
preserved the issue then and only then could a higher court review

And in particular, appellate courts have traditionally been loathe to
making their own findings of fact (and only in a corrective way)
absent very clear error by the Court below, which is as it should be.
The role of a higher court is to apply the law to the facts, and make
rulings of what the LAW is, not make their own findings of fact. And
this is supremely true of the Supreme Court.

So even beyond the outrageousness of the result, it is at least
outrageous the way it was reached, and how that reach was justified.
As justification, The Supreme Court 5 asserted that some legal
emergency existed requiring a broader inquiry in this case,
resurrecting a claim already ABANDONED by the appellant in the court
below (opinion p. 12). Why directly overturning precedents at least
20 years old would suddenly be such an emergency they do not explain.

And when you actually read the opinion, the only pressure really on
the Supreme Court was because so-called Citizens United was bound to LOSE on the case they did preserve (opinion pp. 10-11). The Supreme Court 5 wanted that party to win. This was in itself an over the top act of judicial activism. But even beyond that they were hell bent on undoing as much as 100 years of campaign finance regulation (Stevens' dissent p. 3). Even the most conservative commentators agree this is what they have in fact done.

Appellate courts have been known on occasion to comment (in no
binding way) that if an appellant HAD made a particular argument they might have been receptive to it, a kind of higher court invitation
for someone to bring an actual case, an actual "controversy". And
then there would be a factual record in some subsequent case. But
here there was no controversy on the issue on which the ruling was
based, for it had already been WAIVED a priori, thereby denying the
Supreme Court any jurisdiction to rule on it (Consitution Article
III, Section 2, Clause 1).

But even further assuming that the Supreme Court was justified in
reopening a can of worms already discarded, the appropriate procedure would have been to return the case to the lower court with instructions, what is called a "remand", and which is done all the time after a ruling of LAW, for the court below to make findings of
fact and conduct further proceedings, so that there would be a
factual record for them to review, should the appellant wish to
appeal to the higher court again in the case of an unfavorable ruling
by the lower court.

All these prudent judicial things are exactly what the Supreme Court
5 did NOT do. Instead, they called for hurry up further briefing on
the new question of law THEY wanted to rule on (Stevens' dissent p.
4), in a vacuum of insufficient facts to make those arguments of law.
Instead, they set a scary new purported standard of review that says
they basically can make rulings on any point of law THEY want to
raise, whether developed in a lower court by an appellant or not.

This is truly frightening! It means that these five absolute
dictators in black robes have now asserted the unheard of prerogative
to make their own law pretty much any time they like, if only
tangentially related to appellant's actual arguments on appeal
(opinion pp. 13-14), a profoundly dangerous NEW standard, to become a new stare decisis if not immediately challenged and reversed by their removal from office. It means they now assert unchecked prerogative to make their own findings of fact whenever necessary to reach the result THEY want to reach.

And they must be stopped. The Supreme Court 5 must be impeached
before they go even further off the deep end. Whatever else within
the law that Congress can do to counteract this decision must be
done, and to make sure such a thing can never, ever happen again.

So please submit both action pages above now. The next alert in this
series will analyze the totally bogus basis of the so-called facts
the Supreme Court pulled out of sheer hot air in this case.


In the meantime we are making available for no charge (not even
shipping) your choice of one of two new bumper stickers. Take a
"Corporations Are NOT The People" bumper sticker, OR a "Impeach The Supreme Court 5" bumper sticker for free. Of course if you can make a contribution (or if you want both), please DO contribute what you can, which is what allows us to send these out for free to anyone who cannot make a donation right now.

We have engaged one of the top commercial printers in the country for printing these, they have gone to press using the highest quality 4 color process, the proofs are absolutely gorgeous, and we will be taking delivery shortly of the first run.

So you can still request your bumper sticker from the return page
after you submit either of the action pages above to get in on the
first shipping. Or you can do directly to this page and get them

Bumper Stickers for no charge:

Facebook participants can also submit the action pages at

Corporations Are Not The People:

Impeach The Supreme Court 5:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Only Road to Economic Recovery is Increased Government Spending. Will Obama Cave to Wall Street and Do the Opposite?

January 26, 2010

Which Economy is Obama Talking About?

Myths of Recovery


The State of the Union address is in danger of purveying the usual euphemisms. I expect    Obama to brag that he has overseen a recovery. But can there be any such thing as a jobless recovery? What has recovered are stock market averages and Wall Street bonuses, not disposable personal income or discretionary spending after paying debt service.

There is a dream that what can be “recovered” is something so idyllic as to be mythical: a Bubble Economy enabling people to make money without actually working, by borrowing and riding the tide of asset-price inflation to make capital gains. Corporate Democrat Harold Ford Jr. writes nostalgically that Bill Clinton’s eight years in office created 22 million jobs, “balanced the budget and left his successor with a surplus. This can be done again,” if only Obama moves further to the right (which Ford calls the center, meaning the Bayhs and Republicans).

It can’t be done again. Pres. Clinton’s administration balanced the budget by “welfare reform” to cut back public spending. This would be lethal today. Meanwhile, his explosion of bank credit and the boom (rising stock prices and bonuses without any earnings) fueled the early stages of the Greenspan bubble. It was a debt-leveraged illusion. Instead of the government running budget deficits to expand domestic demand,  Clinton left it to banks to extend interest-bearing credit-debt pollution that we are still struggling to clean up.

The danger is that when  Obama speaks of “stabilizing the economy,” he means trying to sustain the rise in compound interest and debt. This mathematical financial dynamic is autonomous from the “real” industrial economy, overwhelming it economically. That is what makes the present economic road to debt peonage so self-defeating.

Debts that can’t be paid, won’t be. So defaults are rising. The question that  Obama should be addressing is how to deal with the excess of debt above the ability to pay – and of negative equity for the one-quarter of U.S. real estate that has a higher mortgage debt than the market price is worth. If the hope is still to “borrow our way out of debt” by getting the banks to start lending again, then listeners on Wednesday will know that Obama’s second year in office will be worse for the economy than his first.

How realistic is it to expect the speech to make clear that “we can’t go home again”?  Obama promised change. “We simply cannot return to business as usual,” he said on Jan. 21, introducing the “Volcker plan.” But how can there be meaningful structural change if the plan is to return to an idealized dynamic that enriched Wall Street but not the rest of the economy?

The word “recession” implies that economic trends will return to normal almost naturally.

Any dream of “recovery” in today’s debt-leveraged economy is a false hope. Yet high financial circles expect Obama to insist that the economy cannot recover without first reimbursing and enriching Wall Street. To re-inflate asset prices, Obama’s team looks to Japan’s post-1990 model. A compliant Federal Reserve is to flood the credit markets to lower interest rates to revive bank lending –- interest-bearing debt borrowed to buy real estate already in place (and stocks and bonds already issued), enabling banks to work out of their negative equity position by inflating asset prices relative to wages.

The promise is that re-inflating prices will help the “real” economy. But what will “recover” is the rising trend of consumer and homeowner debt responsible for stifling the economy with debt deflation in the first place. This end-result of the Clinton-Bush bubble economy is still being applauded as a model for recovery.

We are not really emerging from a “recession.” The word means literally a falling below a trend line. The economy cannot “recover” its past exponential growth, because it was not really normal. GDP is rising mainly for the FIRE sector – finance, insurance and real estate – not the “real economy.” Financial and corporate managers are paying themselves more for their success in paying their employees less.

This is the antithesis of recovery for Main Street. That is what makes the FIRE sector so self-destructive, and what has ended America’s great post-1945 upswing.

There are two economies – and the extractive FIRE sector dominates the “real” economy

When listening to the State of the Union speech, one should ask just which economy  Obama means when he talks about recovery. Most wage earners and taxpayers will think of the “real” economy of production and consumption. But    Obama believes that this “Economy #1” is dependent on that of Wall Street. His major campaign contributors and “wealth creators” in the FIRE sector – Economy #2, wrapped around the “real” Economy #1.

Economy #2 is the “balance sheet” economy of property and debt. The wealthiest 10 per cent lend out their savings to become debts owed by the bottom 90 per cent. A rising share of gains are made in extractive ways, by charging rent and interest, by financial speculation (“capital gains”), and by shifting taxes off itself onto the “real” Economy #1.

John Edwards talked about “the two economies,” but never explained what he meant operationally. Back in the 1960s when Michael Harrington wrote The Other America, the term meant affluent vs. poor America. For 19th-century novelists such as Charles Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli, it referred to property owners vs. renters. Today, it is finance vs. debtors. Any discussion of economic polarization betweens rich and poor must focus on the deepening indebtedness of most families, companies, real estate, cities and states to an emerging financial oligarchy.

Financial oligarchy is antithetical to democracy. That is what the political fight in Washington is all about today. The Corporate Democrats are trying to get democratically elected to bring about oligarchy. I hope that this is a political oxymoron, but I worry about how many people buy into the idea that “wealth creation” requires debt creation. While wealth gushes upward through the Wall Street financial siphon, trickle-down economic ideology fuels a Bubble Economy via debt-leveraged asset-price inflation.

The role of public spending – and hence budget deficits – no longer means taxing citizens to spend on improving their well-being within Economy #1. Since the 2008 financial meltdown the enormous rise in national debt has resulted from the reimbursing of Wall Street for its bad gambles on derivatives, collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps that had little to do with the “real” economy. They could have been wiped out without bringing down the economy. That was an idle threat. A.I.G.’s swap insurance department could have collapsed (it was largely in London anyway) while keeping its normal insurance activities unscathed. But the government paid off the financial sector’s bad speculative debts by taking them onto the public balance sheet.

The economy is best viewed as the FIRE sector wrapped around the production and consumption core, extracting financial and rent charges that are not technologically or economically necessary costs.

Say’s Law of markets, taught to every economics student, states that workers and their employers use their wages and profits to buy what they produce (consumer goods and capital goods). Profits are earned by employing labor to produce goods and services to sell at a markup. (M – C – M’ to the initiated.)

The financial and property sector is wrapped around this core, siphoning off revenue from this circular flow. This FIRE sector is extractive. Its revenue takes the form of what classical economists called “economic rent,” a broad category that includes interest, monopoly super-profits (price gouging) and land rent, as well as “capital” gains. (These are mainly land-price gains and stock-market gains, not gains from industrial capital as such.) Economic rent and capital gains are income without a corresponding necessary cost of production (M – M’ to the initiated).

Banks have lent increasingly to buy up these rentier rights to extract interest, and less and less to promote industrial capital formation. Wealth creation” FIRE-style consists most easily of privatizing the public domain and erecting tollbooths to charge access fees for basic necessities such as health insurance, land sites, home ownership, the communication spectrum (cable and phone rights), patent medicine, water and electricity, and other public utilities, including the use of convenient money (credit cards), or the credit needed to get by. This kind of wealth is not what Adam Smith described in The Wealth of Nations. It is a form of overhead, not a means of production. The revenue it extracts is a zero-sum economic activity, meaning that one party’s gain (that of Wall Street usually) is another’s loss.

Debt deflation resulting from a distorted “financialized” economy

The problem that Obama faces is one that he cannot voice politically without offending his political constituency. The Bubble Economy has left families, companies, real estate and government so heavily indebted that they must use current income to pay banks and bondholders. The U.S. economy is in a debt deflation. The debt service they pay is not available for spending on goods and services. This is why sales are falling, shops are closing down and employment continues to be cut back.

Banks evidently do not believe that the debt problem can be solved. That is why they have taken the $13 trillion in bailout money and run – paying  it out in bonuses, or buying other banks and foreign affiliates. They see the domestic economy as being all loaned up. The game is over. Why would they make yet more loans against real estate already in negative equity, with mortgage debt in excess of the market price that can be recovered? Banks are not writing more “equity lines of credit” against homes or making second mortgages in today’s market, so consumers cannot use rising mortgage debt to fuel their spending.

Banks also are cutting back their credit card limits. They are “earning their way out of debt,” making up for the bad gambles they have taken with depositor funds, by raising interest rates, penalties and fees, by borrowing low-interest credit from the Federal Reserve and investing it abroad – preferably in currencies rising against the dollar. This is what Japan did in the “carry trade.” It kept the yen’s exchange rate down, and it is lowering the dollar’s exchange rate today. This threatens to raise prices for imports, on which domestic consumer prices are based. So easy credit for Wall Street means a cost squeeze for consumers.

The President needs a better set of advisors. But Wall Street has obtained veto power over just who they should be. Control over the President’s ear time has been part of the financial sector’s takeover of government. Wall Street has threatened that the stock market will plunge if oligarch-friendly Fed Chairman Bernanke is not reappointed.    Obama insists on keeping him on board, in the belief that what’s good for Wall Street is good for the economy at large.

But what’s good for the banks is a larger market for their credit – more debt for the families and companies that are their customers, higher fees and penalties, no truth-in-lending laws, harsher bankruptcy terms, and further deregulation and bailouts.

This is the program that    Bernanke has advised Washington to follow. Wall Street hopes that he will be kept on board. Bernanke’s advice has helped bolster that of Tim Geithner at Treasury and Larry Summers as chief advisor to convince Pres. Obama that “recovery” requires more credit.

Going down this road will make the debt overhead heavier, raising the cost of living and doing business. So we must beware of the President using the term “recovery” in his State of the Union speech to mean a recovery of debt and giving more money to Wall Street Jobs cannot revive without consumers having more to spend. And consumer demand (a hateful, jargon word, because only Wall Street and the Pentagon’s military-industrial complex really make demands) cannot be revived without reducing the debt burden. Bankers are refusing to write down mortgages and other debts to reflect the ability to pay. That act of economic realism would mean taking a loss on their bad debts. So they have asked the government to lend new buyers enough credit to re-inflate housing prices. This is the aim of the housing subsidy to new homebuyers. It leaves more revenue to be capitalized into higher mortgage loans to support prices for real estate fallen into negative equity.

The pretense is that this is subsidizing the middle class, but homebuyers are only the intermediaries for government credit (debt to be paid off by taxpayers) to mortgage bankers. Nearly 90 per cent of new home mortgages are being funded or guaranteed by the FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – all providing a concealed subsidy to Wall Street.

Obama’s most dangerous belief is in the myth that the economy needs the financial sector to lead its recovery by providing credit. Every economy needs a means of payment, which is why Wall Street has been able to threaten to wreck the economy if the government does not give in to its demands. But the monetary function should not be confused with predatory lending and casino gambling, not to mention Wall Street’s use of bailout funds on lobbying efforts to spread its gospel.

Deficit reduction

It seems absurd for politicians to worry that running a deficit from health care or Social Security can cause serious economic problems, after having given away $13 trillion to Wall Street and a blank check to the Pentagon. The “stimulus package” was only about 5 per cent of this amount. But    Obama has announced that he intends on Tuesday to close the barn door by proposing a bipartisan Senate Budget Commission to recommend how to limit future deficits – now that Congress is unwilling to give away any more money to Wall Street.

Republican approval would set the stage for Wednesday’s State of the Union message promising to press for “fiscal responsibility,” as if a lower deficit will help recovery. I suspect that Republicans will have little interest in joining. They see the aim as being to co-opt their criticism of Democratic spending plans. But in view of the rising and well-subsidized efforts of Harold Ford and his fellow Corporate Democrats, the actual “bipartisan” aim seems to be to provide political cover for cutting spending on labor and on social services.    Obama already has sent up trial balloons about needing to address the Social Security and Medicare deficits, as if they should not be financed out of the general budget by taxpayers including the higher brackets (presently exempted from FICA paycheck withholding).

Traditionally, running deficits is supposed to help pull economies out of recession. But today, spending money on public services is deemed “bad,” because it may be “inflationary” – that is, threatening to raise wages. Talk of cutting deficits thus is class-war talk – on behalf of the FIRE sector.

The economy needs deficit spending to avoid unemployment and poverty, to increase social spending to deal with the present economic shrinkage, and to maintain their capital infrastructure. The federal government also needs to increase revenue sharing with states forced to slash their budgets in response to falling tax revenue and rising unemployment insurance.

But the deficits that the Bush-Obama administration have run are nothing like the familiar old Keynesian-style deficits to help the economy recover. Running up public debt to pay Wall Street in the hope that much of this credit will be lent out to inflate asset prices is deemed good. This belief will form the context for Wednesday’s State of the Union speech. So we are brought back to the idea of economic recovery and just what is to be recovered.

Financial lobbyists are hoping to get the government to fill the gap in domestic demand below full-employment levels by providing bank credit. When governments spend money to help increase economic activity, this does not help the banks sell more interest bearing debt. Wall Street’s golden age occurred under Bill Clinton, whose budget surplus was more than offset by an explosion of commercial bank lending.

The pro-financial mass media reiterate that deficits are inflationary and bankrupt economies. The reality is that Keynesian-style deficits raise wage levels relative to the price of property (the cost of obtaining housing, and of buying stocks and bonds to yield a retirement income). The aim of running a “Wall Street deficit” is just the reverse: It is to re-inflate property prices relative to wages.

A generation of financial “ideological engineering” has told people to welcome asset-price inflation (the Bubble Economy). People became accustomed to imagine that they were getting richer when the price of their homes rose. The problem is that real estate is worth what banks will lend – and mortgage loans are a form of debt, which needs to be repaid.

Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist. A Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) and Trade, Development and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization v. Convergence in the World Economy. He can be reached via his website,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Comparing Corporate Donations: Germany and the U.S.

A friend of mine is an American expatriate who has been living in Germany for more than 25 years. I asked him if Germany limited corporate campaign donations and he said no and pointed me to this link from the Library of Congress [1].

There is no need to limit donations if you've already limited what can be done with them.

There are no limits on corporate contributions in Germany, BUT there are severe penalties for not reporting them properly, and strict limits on what that money can buy. Here political parties and corporations can buy unlimited TV and radio ads. And the German Criminal Code "contains a group of offenses dealing with insult, malicious gossip, and disparagement." Here the corporations can blanket the airwaves with that kind of stuff--that's what most campaign ads consist of. Because the limits on what political parties can do with donations are so strict in Germany, corporate donations constitute the SMALLEST amount donated, whereas here they are often the BIGGEST.

From the above link:

"In 2006, the political parties received about 30 percent of their income from the government, about 28 percent from membership dues, an additional 12 percent in mandatory contributions from elected and appointed officials, 10 percent from individual donations, and 3.5 percent from corporate donations."

Plus, the big parties in Germany are limited to no more than twice as much TV time as the small parties, whereas here it can be a thousand times as much, or even more, and usually is. Of course we don't have proportional representation, so why should we force the mainstream media, which is owned by the corporations, to allow small parties to buy ads even if they could afford to? That would infringe on the rights of the corporations that own the media, which also happen to be the corporations that decide the outcome of elections because they announce the winners BEFORE all the votes are counted, and since our votes are counted secretly by computers, we can't know if they were lying or telling the truth. Most corporations here don't tend to be particularly truthful. Wasn't it a Bush cousin on FOX News who called the Florida 2000 election for Bush long before the votes were counted? And of course the Supreme Court made sure that the votes couldn't be counted before Bush was sworn into office. By the time we learned that even despite the illegal purge of qualified voters, Gore had still gotten the most votes, it was too late to do anything about it.

Here's an excerpt from the link given above:

"The severity of limiting campaign airtime for the political parties is enhanced by the consensus of the German states that the political parties may not purchase advertisement time from broadcasters. This prohibition is valid at any time, not only during the campaign period, and it effectively limits the period during which the public must put up with campaign spots. Nevertheless, the public is not deprived of political information in the broadcast media because the broadcasters have the mandate to inform the public on political matters and they air programs in which politicians participate in discussions or interviews."

In other words, they don't have staged "debates" from which third party candidates are barred.

Another friend, a Brit, told me that in the U.K. they don't consider governments that lack proportional representation to be democratic in nature. Remember that we fought for independence from England because of, among other things, taxation without representation. Yet here in the U.S. two small third parties might get up to 10% of the vote each, another group of small third parties might get up to 5% of the vote each, the total could add up to as much as 30% of the vote, and they still wouldn't get a single seat in Congress, so the 30% of taxpayers who voted for them would still be unrepresented in Congress.

Check out that link I gave above. Germans don't have to tolerate more than a few minutes a day of political ads on TV, and that only for a limited time before elections. And there's no swift-boating. And of course Germany doesn't allow electronic voting machines because secret vote counts are incompatible with the most fundamental principles of democracy.

If we had a democratic form of government to begin with, unlimited corporate donations wouldn't be a problem.

Blogger's Note: Add to the above the following facts:  (1) The exit polls in Germany are never wrong by more than about 0.5%, (2) the exit polls in the 2004 election favored Kerry by a 2.5% margin, (3) the exit polls in the 2008 primaries in Massachusetts were at variance with the official vote tallies by as much as 16%, and (4) the Massachusetts Secretary of State declined urgent requests from election integrity activists to run an exit poll last Tuesday (why?).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This Is What It's Coming to, Folks...

Pledge of Allegiance, 2010

by Ed Ciaccio
January 21, 2010

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the Corporate State of America,
and to the plutocracy for which it stands,
one nation, under greed,
with penury and injustice for all
but the ruling class.

RE The Supreme Court Decision that the First Amendment Protects the Rights of Corporations to Spend Unlimited Money on US Political Campaigns

Manchurian Candidates:
Supreme Court allows China and others unlimited spending in US elections

By Greg Palast | Updated from the original report for AlterNet
Thursday, January 21, 2010

In today's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court ruled that corporations should be treated the same as "natural persons", i.e. humans. Well, in that case, expect the Supreme Court to next rule that Wal-Mart can run for President.

The ruling, which junks federal laws that now bar corporations from stuffing campaign coffers, will not, as progressives fear, cause an avalanche of corporate cash into politics. Sadly, that's already happened: we have been snowed under by tens of millions of dollars given through corporate PACs and "bundling" of individual contributions from corporate pay-rollers.

The Court's decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates.

I'm losing sleep over the millions - or billions - of dollars that could flood into our elections from ARAMCO, the Saudi Oil corporation' s U.S. unit; or from the maker of "New Order" fashions, the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Or from Bin Laden Construction corporation. Or Bin Laden Destruction Corporation.

Right now, corporations can give loads of loot through PACs. While this money stinks (Barack Obama took none of it), anyone can go through a PAC's federal disclosure filing and see the name of every individual who put money into it. And every contributor must be a citizen of the USA.

But under today's Supreme Court ruling that corporations can support candidates without limit, there is nothing that stops, say, a Delaware-incorporat ed handmaiden of the Burmese junta from picking a Congressman or two with a cache of loot masked by a corporate alias.

Candidate Barack Obama was one sharp speaker, but he would not have been heard, and certainly would not have won, without the astonishing outpouring of donations from two million Americans. It was an unprecedented uprising-by- PayPal, overwhelming the old fat-cat sources of funding.

Well, kiss that small-donor revolution goodbye. Under the Court's new rules, progressive list serves won't stand a chance against the resources of new "citizens" such as CNOOC, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. Maybe UBS (United Bank of Switzerland), which faces U.S. criminal prosecution and a billion-dollar fine for fraud, might be tempted to invest in a few Senate seats. As would XYZ Corporation, whose owners remain hidden by "street names."

George Bush's former Solicitor General Ted Olson argued the case to the court on behalf of Citizens United, a corporate front that funded an attack on Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary. Olson's wife died on September 11, 2001 on the hijacked airliner that hit the Pentagon. Maybe it was a bit crude of me, but I contacted Olson's office to ask how much "Al Qaeda, Inc." should be allowed to donate to support the election of his local congressman.

Olson has not responded.

The danger of foreign loot loading into U.S. campaigns, not much noted in the media chat about the Citizens case, was the first concern raised by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who asked about opening the door to "mega-corporations" owned by foreign governments. Olson offered Ginsburg a fudge, that Congress might be able to prohibit foreign corporations from making donations, though Olson made clear he thought any such restriction a bad idea.

Tara Malloy, attorney with the Campaign Legal Center of Washington D.C. says corporations will now have more rights than people. Only United States citizens may donate or influence campaigns, but a foreign government can, veiled behind a corporate treasury, dump money into ballot battles.

Malloy also noted that under the law today, human-people, as opposed to corporate-people, may only give $2,300 to a presidential campaign. But hedge fund billionaires, for example, who typically operate through dozens of corporate vessels, may now give unlimited sums through each of these "unnatural" creatures.

And once the Taliban incorporates in Delaware, they could ante up for the best democracy money can buy.

In July, the Chinese government, in preparation for President Obama's visit, held diplomatic discussions in which they skirted issues of human rights and Tibet. Notably, the Chinese, who hold a $2 trillion mortgage on our Treasury, raised concerns about the cost of Obama's health care reform bill. Would our nervous Chinese landlords have an interest in buying the White House for an opponent of government spending such as Gov. Palin? Ya betcha!

The potential for foreign infiltration of what remains of our democracy is an adjunct of the fact that the source and control money from corporate treasuries (unlike registered PACs), is necessarily hidden. Who the heck are the real stockholders? Or as Butch asked Sundance, "Who are these guys?"
We'll never know.

Hidden money funding, whether foreign or domestic, is the new venom that the Court has injected into the system by its expansive decision in Citizens United.

We've been there. The 1994 election brought Newt Gingrich to power in a GOP takeover of the Congress funded by a very strange source.

Congressional investigators found that in crucial swing races, Democrats had fallen victim to a flood of last-minute attack ads funded by a group called, "Coalition for Our Children's Future." The $25 million that paid for those ads came, not from concerned parents, but from a corporation called "Triad Inc."

Evidence suggests Triad Inc. was the front for the ultra-right- wing billionaire Koch Brothers and their private petroleum company, Koch Industries. Had the corporate connection been proven, the Kochs and their corporation could have faced indictment under federal election law. As of today, such money-poisoned politicking has become legit.

So it's not just un-Americans we need to fear but the Polluter-Americans, Pharma-mericans, Bank-Americans and Hedge-Americans that could manipulate campaigns while hidden behind corporate veils. And if so, our future elections, while nominally a contest between Republicans and Democrats, may in fact come down to a three-way battle between China, Saudi Arabia and Goldman Sachs.


Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.  Palast investigated Triad Inc. for The Guardian (UK). View Palast's reports for BBC TV and Democracy Now! at


Blogger's Note: This ruling essentially legalizes what was just done in the run up to Tuesday's election in Massachusetts!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Media Myth Is that Ted Kennedy's Seat Was Lost to a Right-Wingnut because of Democratic Mistakes. But What If There Had Been an Exit Poll?

Recall Why NOT to Believe the MA Election Results

by Kathy Dopp

I've reposted this exit poll analysis of the MA Super-Tuesday primary
election to remind us that MA had the highest early unadjusted exit
poll discrepancies of any state, and to recall that MA makes *no
attempt whatsoever* to check the accuracy of its election results
after the election, choosing to blithely trust all the programmers,
technicians, and election officials not to make any deliberate or
innocent mistakes.

Here is the Super Tuesday exit poll results, including MA. It is not
surprising that a state that does nothing whatsoever to ensure that
its election counts are accurate after the election has the highest
exit poll discrepancies of any state on Super Tuesday.

No one can tell us whether or not the MA election outcomes are
accurate due to the lack of any post-election auditing procedure

Notice that if Rep Holt's Voter Confidence bill had passed (which it might have if we all had supported it), this would not be an ongoing problem at the level it is today because all states would be required to use paper ballots and count at least 10% of randomly selected publicly reported precinct counts manually and independently after each election that had margins this close.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


by Bev Harris

This article is about our right to know, not about Martha Coakley or Scott Brown. And lest you think something here favors a Democrat, just you wait, I'm still working on anomalies in the NY-23 election that are just plain hard to 'splain. As Richard Hayes Phillips says when people tell him to forget it, "I'm a historian, I've got all the time in the world." NY-23 still has history to be written. My public records are starting to arrive. But that's another story.

Back to Massachusetts, I think you have a right to know that Coakley won the hand counts there. You can discuss this here:

That's right.

According to preliminary media results by municipality, Democrat Martha Coakley won Massachusetts overall in its hand counted locations,* with 51.12% of the vote (32,247 hand counted votes) to Brown's 30,136, which garnered him 47.77% of hand counted votes. Margin: 3.35% lead for Coakley.

Massachusetts has 71 hand count locations, 91 ES&S locations, and 187 Diebold locations, with two I call the mystery municipalities (Northbridge and Milton) apparently using optical scanners, not sure what kind.


The greatest margin between the candidates was with ES&S machines -- 53.64% for Brown, 45.31% for Coakley, a margin for Brown of 8.33%. It looks like ES&S counted a total of 620,388 votes, with 332,812 going to Brown and 281,118 going to Coakley. Taken overall, the difference -- 8.33% Brown (ES&S) added to 3.35% Coakley (Hand Count) shows an 11.68% difference between the ES&S and the Hand Counts. Of course, as Mark Twain used to say, there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics. These statistics don't prove anything, and probably shouldn't be discussed without a grain of salt handy before examining more detailed demographics.

As a point of reference, however, in the Maine gay marriage issue recently there was no significant overall difference between machine count and hand count locations.


Diebold's results are 51.42% for Brown, with 791,272 Republican votes counted by Diebold, vs. 47.61% for Coakley, with 732,633 Democratic votes counted by Diebold, for a spread of 3.81% favoring Brown.


It's always interesting to watch hand counts beat machine count results to the newspaper.

In the Massachusetts special senate election, results from six of 71 hand count locations were reported about 2 1/2 hours after the polls closed, with the remaining 65 hand count locations in right away. The slower hand count results represent 8.45% of all hand count locations.

These latecoming hand-counted results favored Coakley very heavily (she got 55.68% of these, earning 4,610 votes to Brown's 42.9%, representing 3,552, a 12.78% margin) Whether the reports came to the media late or the media posted them late is unclear.


ES&S had 12 of its 91 locations reported at least 2 1/2 hours after polls closed, a total of 13.2% of all its locations (as compared with just 8.45% of slower reporting hand count locations). So ES&S certainly wasn't faster than hand counts, overall!

These slow-arriving votes represented 88,288 of ES&S's 620,388 votes. Overall Brown got 46,257, for 52.39% of the late-arriving ES&S votes, and Coakley got 41,238, for 46.71%, yielding a margin of 5.68% of the late-arriving votes going to Brown, for a net gain of 5,019 votes to Brown.

North Attleboro and Paxton appear to be the last locations in the state to be reported, and they are both ES&S. North Attleboro brought in 10,881
very late votes, 71.48% of them going to Brown; Paxton brought in 2,036 votes, 65.37% going to Brown.


Yes, I know they're supposed to be called Premier machines now, and ES&S bought the company so it's now all one big monopoly family, and then the whole kit and kaboodle in New England -- Premier and ES&S -- is programmed by the juicy little LHS Associates guys. But I like to just call them Diebold, that familiar name which we all know and love.

Twenty-four of Diebold's 187 locations wandered in late, smoking cigarettes and wearing a bathrobe. That's 12.83% of all its locations. Apparently it was faster to hand count 8,497 ballots, as they did promptly in Newburyport, or 7,339 ballots, as they hand counted in public for all to see in Milton, than to push a button and wait five minutes for the machine to spit out a Diebold results report in Pelham where they had 725 votes. East Brookfield's 899 Diebold votes must have run out of gas somewhere; they weren't reported for hours.

All in all, a total of 170,594 Diebold votes took a long time to stumble in the door, These votes -- surprise! -- favored Coakley. She got 86,214 of them, for 50.54%, and Brown got 82,911 tardy Diebold votes, for 48.60%, putting Coakley on the plus side of the late arrivers by a 1.94% margin, for a net gain of 3,303 slow-moving votes.

They'd called the election by the time the 170,594 tardy Diebold votes showed up. Coakley had conceded. And of course, there are many ways to look at this if you don't trust voting machines, and why should you? It's hard to know who was fooling around, or if anybody was.

You see, the Diebold latecomers represented the strongest showing for Coakley of all and in some heavily populated areas. 32 of 33 Cambridge polling place results couldn't find their way to the media for a long time. Cambridge finally came in with 27,268 votes for Coakley -- 84.11%. Brown was only able to locate 4,921 votes from Cambridge when all was said and done.

And the media couldn't seem to rustle up any Amherst votes for any of its 10 polling places until races were called and candidates had conceded. Amherst generated 84% of its votes for Coakley with only 15% going to Brown.

So this is all very interesting, and hopefully is accurate because I'm spreadsheeting after midnight. And we're talking statistics based on premature and unofficial results which came from the media and not the government, and the Massachusetts Secretary of State doesn't officially tell us which place is using which system, so we're relying on volunteers from the VerifiedVoting Web site who hunted it down.**

** A public service announcement from Disclaimers-R-Us, a subsidiary of the US Elections Industry.


Actually, I think any intellectually honest person will see that Brown garnered financing and executed brilliantly, and that's just politics.

He probably DID win. In 71 Massachusetts locations we could watch the counting (woops, he lost those, overall). But in 277 locations, the counting was on computerized voting machines and concealed from the public.

So we can never really know who won, and that is unfair to both Scott Brown and Martha Coakley. But it's most unfair to the citizens of Massachusetts, who have an inalienable right to choose their own governance. You can't hold sovereignty over the choosing process if you can't see it.

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Bloggers Note: Bev Harris is perhaps the best know superstar of the election integrity community.  Here above is her preliminary report of a lot of data which she went to a great deal of trouble to collect.  In order to be perfectly objective, she doesn't claim that this election was stolen for Brown, but she emphasizes that the discrepancies between the hand counts and the machine counts look fishy and that there is no way at all to know what went on inside those electronic voting machines, which are known to be hackable by election insiders. And the election insider of note in this case is a private outfit called LHS Associates (with a convicted criminal as a key management team member/voting machine support guy) hired by the taxpayers of the State of Massachusetts to determine how they voted.
On the matter of discrepancies between hand-counted precincts and machine-counted precincts, I did a (binomial) mathematical calculation of the probability of a discrepancy of the same order of magnitude that took place in the New Hampshire 2008 presidential primary ...finding 100% probability that the vote tallies counted on the optical scanners were hacked!  (If you should go to this link, be sure to visit the reader comments, and my rebuttals, at the bottom!)