Background

The Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission is seen by many as probably the most frightening and destructive decision in the history of the Supreme Court and the United States of America. Far worse than the Dred Scott decision, which was horrific and some believe led directly to the Civil War. Here is some reading to help frame this fiasco. I'll update it as more gets said. Citizen's United vs. Federal Election Commission (Overview)

The Court's decision struck down a provision of the McCain-Feingold Act that prevented corporations and unions from spending freely from their own treasuries in the final days of political campaigns.

How It Came To This (See: The Powell Memo, Here) How the Corporate Personhood Lie Became the Working Law of the Land – -Thom Hartmann

Such a bill protecting natural persons from out-of-control governments or commercial monopolies shouldn’t just be limited to America, Jefferson believed. “Let me add,” he summarized, “that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular; and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

Analysis and Commentary

Citizens ruling: an intellectually dishonest power grab — by Ruth Marcus *Must Read*

In opening the floodgates for corporate money in election campaigns, the Supreme Court did not simply engage in a brazen power grab. It did so in an opinion stunning in its intellectual dishonesty.

That the majority would stoop to this claim underscores the weakness of its case — and the audacity of the result it has inflicted on the political process.

How will SCOTUS decision affect corporate media? – Media Matters for America

How the Supreme Court's decision will affect the corporate media's policy governing corporate political advocacy remains unclear, which is precisely why I contacted the major cable and broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, NBC/MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News — with a few simple questions. First, will the networks announce clear policies for corporate political advertising? Second, and of equal if not greater importance, do the networks' corporate parent companies plan on taking advantage of the high court's decision by spending money for and against candidates for office?
 

Thom Hartmann:  Welcome to Mussolini's America

In a ruling that has overwhelming implications for how elections are funded, the Supreme Court has struck down a key campaign-finance restriction that prevents corporations and unions from pouring money into political ads.In a 5-4 ruling, in the Citizens United v. FEC case,  the door is now wide open for unrestricted amounts of corporate money to flow into American politics.

This Week In Crazy — Andrew Leonard, Salon

"Thomas went along with the majority in agreeing that corporations and unions can once more be permitted to spend freely on political issues, thus driving a stake through the heart of the democratic process in the United States. But he dissented in part, because he didn't think the ruling went far enough. Specifically, he argued that the court was wrong to continue requiring that the sponsors of political advertising disclose who paid for them."

How the Citizens United Case Affects Money & Politics — Sunlight Foundation

Ellen Miller writes:  The ramifications of today’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC are breathtaking – opening the floodgates of political money such as we have never seen before.  If you thought Congress was ‘for sale’ to the highest bidder, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Nothing less than a fundamental rethinking of our campaign finance laws is demanded as a result of today’s decision.

Public Interest Groups Condemn Court's Ruling on Money and Elections – Freepress.org

The public interest groups say that, since the late 1970s, a divided Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade democratic control and sidestep sound public welfare measures. For the first two centuries of the American republic, the groups argue, corporations did not have First Amendment rights to limit the reach of democratically-enacted regulations.

Video Blogging Heads: Mark Schmitt and Heather Gerken

Heather seems to agree with Salon's Glenn Greenwald, that the court "got it right," and that it's not the end of the world. But both of them seem to feel that things can't be much worse than they already are. I think both of them are unfamiliar with what Blackrock and the Swiftboat Funding Network are all about, and how this decision completely removes any remaining complications in their devious strategy of empowering any 3rd rate partisan flake to spend unlimited amounts of money without having to worry about the messy business of message crafting or media distribution.

24 States’ Laws Open to Attack After Campaign Finance Ruling — NYTimes

“One day the Constitution of Colorado is the highest law of the state,” said Robert F. Williams, a law professor at Rutgers University. “The next day it’s wastepaper.” The states that explicitly prohibit independent expenditures by unions and corporations will be most affected by the ruling. The decision, however, has consequences for all states, since they are now effectively prohibited from adopting restrictions on corporate and union spending on political campaigns.

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment

What Can Be Done

That's still shaking out. I will be posting regular updates as they come in.

Laurence Tribe on Citizen's United and What Might Be Done

But there will be plenty of time to dissect the several lengthy opinions in this case and to opine on the merits, and it’s not my purpose in this brief comment to add to that growing body of commentary. I would say only that I share neither the jubilant sense that the First Amendment has scored a major triumph over misbegotten censorship nor the apocalyptic sense that the Court has ushered in an era of corporate dominance that threatens to drown out the voices of all but the best-connected and to render representative democracy all but meaningless.

Citizens United and Transparency: A Look Ahead — Dan Schuman (Sunlight Foundation)

Looking to transparency — disclosure of who funded the ads — only Justice Thomas (who dissents in part) would strike down measures requiring disclosure of donors. But the majority and minority have very different views on the usefulness of transparency in addressing money-related problems. They also leave open a big loophole to knock down transparency laws in the future.

What You Can Do To Fight

Sign every one of the petitions you see that support those who are taking on this fiasco.

Petition: Move to Amend (The Constitution)

On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions. The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. Be sure to see who backs this petition, including Bill Moyers.

Petition: DCCC/Alan Grayson's Effort

We have filed six bills to reverse this assault, the "Save Our Democracy" platform. Sign this petition today, and show your support for saving our democracy. Together, we will move these bills forward and prevent the sale of our government to the highest bidder.

Petition: Moveon.org Petition: Public Citizen

Humor

Dont' Sell Out America (Funnyordie)

Related

What George Carlin Had To Say On All This (R.I.P. George)

I missed "Why this Decade Sucked," by Ed Edroso, back in December. Wish I hadn't. While it's over the top in spots, by and large, it's spot on,  and reminds me of Norman Solomon's words in the mid 90s, when he quite rightly warned that the Internet would empower the status quo, while projecting a mass delusion that it was challenging it.

"We should have known from blogging's early successes what was really going to become of it. Those successes were not about enlightenment — elucidating issues, or spurring debate — but about taking down public figures obnoxious to bloggers."
 

"I admit it — the liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures." William Kristol, New Yorker, 5/22/95

Articles and Essays

The Price of the Liberal Media "Indeed, if an honest history of this era is ever written, one of the most puzzling mysteries may be why the American liberal community – with all its wealth and expertise in communications – sat back while conservatives turned media into a potent weapon for dominating U.S. politics."

What a 'Liberal Media' Might Look Like Let’s imagine a fictional cable network called LNN – the Liberal News Network. What might the morning news on such a channel be?

Conservative Op-Eds Voices Dominate In American Newspapers In addition to dominating talk radio, the right wing also dominates Newspaper Op-Ed columns.

The Myth of The Liberal U.S.A. Media — Conservatives Unfairly Dominate Todays Media

This article is a bit dated, but still an excellent of overview without a lot of fancy academic language.

The conservative media tilt has become a dominant reality in modern U.S. politics. This imbalance was not an accident. It resulted from a conscious, expensive and well-conceived plan by conservatives to build what amounts to a rapid-response media machine. This machine closely coordinates with Republican leaders and can strongly influence – if not dictate – what is considered news."

 

Where Did the Worst of Bush's Cronies Go?

They went to work for the  Corporate media

they’ve become pundits. And unlike ex-Democratic pundits, who tend to want to prove their mettle as independent analysts by attacking their ex-friends using Republican talking points — demanding to know why presidential candidates do not wear flag pins and are BFFs with Louis Farrakhan and the like — they keep up exactly the same shenanigans that landed this country in the screwed up place they left it. Admit it, it’s impressive.

Lies, Conservatives and Statistics How Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, an organization that manufactures myths about the Liberal media, works its propaganda magic on a very gullible public.  Each time you hear another tirade against "the liberal media," you will often find this well funded lie-factory in the background, somewhere.

Videos

VIDEO: Rise Of The Conservative Media – By MediaMatters for America Media Matters releases new video showing right-wing media's leading role in driving movement. Very, very powerful. You must show it to everyone you know.

Illuminating Humor

Myth of the Liberal Media — by Bartcop

It's 10 years old (yes, Barbara Olson is dead), but this is still a classic that illustrates just how absurd the "liberal media" claim really is.

What would happen if Dateline did an unflattering portrait of Bush?

Books

What Liberal Media? — by Eric Alterman

This book will be required reading for anyone in politics or journalism, or anyone curious about their complicated nexus.

From Publishers Weekly While the idea that a liberal bias pervades the mainstream media has been around for years, it gained new currency with the 2001 publication of Bernard Goldberg's Bias and its 2002 successor, Ann Coulter's Slander. Alterman (Sound & Fury; Who Speaks for America?; etc.) now seeks to debunk the notion and goes so far as to argue that bastions of alleged liberalism like the Washington Post and ABC News "have grown increasingly cowed by false complaints of liberal bias and hence, progressively more sympathetic to the most outlandish conservative complaints."

The Republican Noise Machine — by David Brock.

Still as current as ever, this was the seminal work on Right-Wing Media and how it corrupts democracy. Aa vital read for any citizen.

Related Reading:

List of  Progressive Rants & Primers

Conservative Media Rogue's Gallery (coming soon)