The U.S. Supreme Court's 2009 Citizens United decision was a perfect storm. As in the destructiveness of a Category 5 hurricane.
In one fell swoop, the court's conservative activists put a stake through the heart of our most cherished civil right -- freedom of speech -- in a ruling that conflated spending with speech and was easily the most twisted in 150 years. In doing so these justices tacitly acknowledged what I and other clear-eyed observers of of our society have come to understand: America is now ruled by a corporatocracy that in some respects is even more powerful than the federal government, and at its head is a vampire elite represented by Mitt Romneys who thanks to Citizens United can use corporations and so-called Super PACs to buy elections.
And you're naive if you don't think that the Republican Party and its extraordinarily wealthy supporters won't try to buy Romney's way into the White House since Citizens United allows them to raise as much money as they can. Or to fall back on the Supreme Court, which has become a de facto arm of the GOP, if dirty pelf doesn't do the job.
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A five justice majority ruled in Citizens United
that the First Amendment prohibited government from placing limits on
independent spending for political purposes by corporations (and by
unions, as is less well known) and bestowed on both the free speech
rights of individuals.
The insidiousness of Citizens United was on display during the Republican presidential primary season as billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson kept Newt Gingrich's
cash-starved campaign alive with a $5 million donation through a super PAC that was 1,000 times the $5,000 he could legally give directly to Gingrich before the ruling.
And this insidiousness was on display again when the Montana Supreme Court upheld a tough state campaign finance law designed to put an end to rampant political corruption in the form of corporate mining and ranching interests packing the state legislature by bankrolling candidates sympathetic to their interests.
Opponents of Montana's campaign finance law screamed blue blooded murder, declared that Citizens United voided the law and appealed the state Supreme Court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, 22 other states and the District of Columbia are siding with Montana as the high court reviews the case.
A striking difference between the Montana law and Citizens United is that the law was upheld by the state high court after a review that determined that political corruption was indeed rampant while Citizens United was conjured out of thin air with no evidentiary record whatsoever.
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This brings us in a roundabout way to the vampire elite who run the corporatocracy. These include the banksters who drove the U.S. into deep recession and the private equity gurus who run firms like Bain Capital, where presumptive Republican president candidate Romney got filthy rich by buying and then gutting companies, most of them community-oriented mom and pop operations, stripping workers of their pensions and then selling the companies for obscene profits. (Oh, and trickle-down economics, a favorite of Republicans, still doesn't work, and Romney's new best buddy, Donald "Birther" Trump, makes me want to vomit.)
The first people to make a fuss over Romney's tenure at Bain were not Democrats.
They were Gingrich, who declared that "The Bain model is
to go in at a very low price, borrow an immense amount of money, pay
Bain an immense amount of money and leave. I'll let you decide if that’s
really good capitalism. I think that’s exploitation." He was seconded by Rick Perry, who called Romney as a "vulture capitalist" and said that "There is something
inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to
someone else is how you do your business. I happen to think that that is
It is indefensible, but not when President Obama and his surrogates raise the issue and are accused by Republicans of wanting to destroy capitalism. In fact, there is nothing wrong with capitalism, let alone private equity or so-called free markets. It is the excesses of capitalism such as insider trading that are wrong as several million out of work Americans can attest to.
Obama is spot on in noting that just because Romney was a buyout king doesn't make him fit to the run the American economy. Nor does the fact that he became wealthy because the system is rigged, allowing him to pay lower taxes by exploiting Mack truck-sized loopholes.
A president cannot maximize profits for
shareholders. He cannot create jobs with a wave of a hand like Romney destroyed them. And by the way, when Romney finished his single term as governor of Massachusetts the state was ranked 47 out of 50 in job growth.
Just the other day, The Politico reported that a confederation of prominent Republicans including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is another de facto arm of the GOP, plan to spend $1 billion to make that happen with the Koch brothers alone dropping $400 million into the bucket.
By comparison, John McCain raised $375 million for his presidential campaign while Obama raised $750 million.