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Money buys US democracy
by Jake Highton
Oct 30, 2010 | 708 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The winner of the election Tuesday has already been decided. It is money, $5 billion of it, the most expensive midterm election in history.

The villain is the Supreme Court decision in January: Citizens United. The ruling ended decades of limitations on corporate spending.

The archreactionary court ruled that money is speech, that oligarchs and plutocrats have a much stronger First Amendment than nearly all other Americans.

Citizen United enshrined legalized bribery in the Constitution. (It was one of the three worst decisions the Supreme Court ever handed down, joining in infamy Dred Scott and Bush v. Gore.)

Robert Reich, former labor secretary, sees the situation today clearly:

“A relative few Americans are buying our democracy as never before. And they’re doing it completely in secret. Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into advertisements for and against candidates…laundered through a handful of groups.”

The nefarious groups are operated by the likes of Karl Rove, GOP Machiavellian, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re back in the late 19th century when the lackeys of robber barons literally deposited sacks of cash on the desks of friendly legislators,” Reich concludes.

Corporations and Wall Street have long ruled America. Now they have tightened their already iron grip.

Not ideas, not proposals for the betterment of America. Just filthy lucre.

NFL, baseball too

The National Football League places money above players’ health by seeking to expand its season from 16 to 18 games. Major League Baseball wants to increase revenue by adding more teams to the playoffs.

Money even rules games.

Reviewers deceive

I read glowing reviews of books so I immediately buy them. Almost as quickly I am disappointed.

For example, “The Moral Landscape” by Sam Harris. “There must be a science of morality,” Harris writes. Must? How can morality be a science?

Another example, “Revolutionaries” by Jack Rakove. Much plowing of old ground about the Founders—and much unimportant ground.

Incredibly, Rakove says almost nothing of the defense of British soldiers by John Adams after the so-called Boston Massacre. No other Boston lawyer would defend the highly unpopular soldiers.

Adams did. Surely that was one of the most glorious episodes in U.S. history.

Stenographer Woodward

Bob Woodward, stenographer extraordinare, has come out with another best seller, “Obama’s Wars.” Once a serious journalist, Woodward has become the chief gossipmonger of the governing class.

As Andrew Bacevich writes in Truthout: “By relentlessly exalting Washington trivia he flatters power. His reporting does not inform.  It titillates.”

Henrys vs. church

I have been rereading Churchill’s account of the conflicts between two Henrys and the Catholic Church.

On both counts the Henrys were right. The Vatican should have had nothing to say about the governance of England.

But this is hardly to justify the murder of Archbishop Beckett in the 12th century by Henry II’s knights or the execution of Chancellor More ordered by Henry VIII in the 16th century.

Crush the infamy

The Republican Association in Sweden is clamoring today for the abolishment of the monarchy. It’s about time. Revolutionaries killed the French king in 1793.

No one is urging such a barbaric deed today but the monarchy is an absurd anachronism.

It’s not just the Swedes who keep Royal Absurdities. So do the British, the Dutch, the Belgians and the Luxembourgers.

Tony Bliar

Tony Blair is one of the most contemptible figures of our  time. His recent memoir,  “A Journey,” is an apologia for the indefensible: taking Britain into the Iraq war.

Blair intelligent, former President G.W. Bush, ignorant. Blair, cultivated, Bush a clod. Blair sophisticated, Bush a frat boy. The difference is vast. Yet Blair showed there is really no difference.

No wonder staunch Laborites in Britain are calling him “Phony Tony” or “Tony Bliar.”

Digital Age, alas

A recent bird walk around Reno’s Virginia Lake yielded a sad reflection on society: people do not commune with nature.

The Digital Age has supplanted peace and quiet. A fisherman was yakking on a cellphone. And so was a birder with a huge telescope. Someone circling the lake was text-messaging.

Wordsworth knew this more than 200 years ago when he wrote “The World Is Too Much with Us”: “Little we see in Nature that is ours. We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”

Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. Contact him at
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