Bill Moyers: Howard Zinn Taught Us That It's OK If We Face Mission Impossible
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What's that, Justice Alito? Not true?
Ask Alan Grayson. He's a member of Congress. Here's what he says: "We're now in a situation where a lobbyist can walk into my office…and say, "I've got five million dollars to spend and I can spend it for you or against it." Rove's slush funds, American Crossroads It was a Alito was either disingenuous, naive, or deluded. He can't be in this world without knowing he and his four fellow corporatists were giving big donors the one thing they most want in their campaign against working people: an unfair advantage.
Alan Grayson, for one, got it. He's a member of Congress and knows how the world is made to work. He recently said: "We're now in a situation where a lobbyist can walk into my office…and say, "I've got five million dollars to spend and I can spend it for you or against you. Which do you prefer?"
My friend and colleague, the writer Michael Winship,told a story this week that illuminates the Court's coup de grace against democracy. It seems the incorrigible George Bernard Shaw once propositioned a fellow dinner guest, asking if she would go to bed with him for a million pounds (today around $1,580,178 US dollars). She agreed. Shaw then asked if she would do the same for ten shillings. "What do you take me for?" she asked angrily. "A prostitute?" Shaw responded: "We've established the principle, Madam. Now we're just haggling over the price."
With this one decision, the Supreme Court established once and for all that Shaw's is the only principle left in politics, as long as the price is right.
Come now and let's visit Washington's red light district, headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the front group for the plutocracy's prostitution of politics. The Chamber boasts it represents more than three million businesses and approximately 300,000 members. But in reality it has almost nothing to do with the shops and stores along your local streets. The Chamber's branding, as the economics journalist Zach Carter recently wrote, "allows them to disguise their political agenda as a coalition of local businesses while it does dirty work for corporate titans." Carter reported that when the Supreme Court came down with its infamous ruling earlier this year, the Chamber responded by announcing a 40% boost in its political spending operations. After the money started flowing in, the Chamber boosted its budget again by 50%.
After digging into corporate foundation tax filings and other public records, the New York Times found that the Chamber of Commerce has "increasingly relied on a relatively small collection of big corporate donors" - the plutocracy's senior ranks - "to finance much of its legislative and political agenda." Furthermore, the chamber "makes no apologies for its policy of not identifying its donors." Indeed, "It has vigorously opposed legislation in Congress that would require groups like it to identify their biggest contributors when they spend money on campaign ads."
Now let's connect some dots. While knocking down nearly all limits on corporate spending in campaigns, the Supreme Court did allow for disclosure, which would at least tell us who's buying off the government. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell even claimed that "sunshine" laws would make everything okay. But after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would require that the names of all such donors be publicly disclosed, McConnell lined up every Republican in the Senate to oppose it. Hardly had the public begun to sing "Let the Sunshine In" than McConnell & Company went tone deaf. And when the chief lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce was asked by an interviewer, "Are you guys eventually going to disclose?" the answer was a brisk: "No." Why? Because those corporations are afraid of a public backlash. Like bank robbers pulling a heist, they prefer to hide their "personhood" behind sock masks. Surely that tells us something about the nature of what they're doing. In the words of one of the characters in Tom Stoppard's play Night and Day: "People do terrible things to each other, but it's worse in places where everything is kept in the dark."