Free speech math

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Several conservative websites are abuzz over the charge that there were protesters at the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings this week. Several individuals claim they saw individuals who had been arrested for speaking out inside the hearings being handed cash outside the hearing on the street.

One of the eyewitnesses claimed that he spoke to one of the protest organizers who confirmed giving money to those arrested to pay court fines. It could also have been to compensate the individuals for taking off work. Either way, the conclusion was that the Kavanaugh protests weren’t legitimate.

Opposition to Kavanaugh, of course, is quite legitimate by many people for any reasons. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll shows Kavanaugh having the third-lowest support of any nominee to the Supreme Court in the poll’s history.

There are also legitimate questions about how legitimately objective if confirmed Kavanaugh would be if Donald Trump is indicted on any number of possible charges under the Mueller investigation. Kavanaugh was, after all, Trump’s choice. Though not atop the list of candidates recommended by the Federalist Society, he just so happened to be the only candidate with a solid record of opposing Presidents being prosecuted while in office. Just a coincidence no doubt.

It’s not a stretch to conclude that those who support Kavanaugh are the most upset about the “paid protesters” at the hearings.

But there’s a huge double standard here.

Kavanaugh’s record is clear in questioning the constitutionality of political candidate contribution limits, limitations affirmed in the Buckley v Valeo 1976 Supreme Court decision. Kavanaugh also is a big fan of the 2010 Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court case. Both cases legitimize political campaign spending as being equivalent to political free speech (i.e. money equals speech).

Kavanaugh has also expressed openness to foreign “dark money” political spending. In a 2011 case, Blumen vs FEC, he wrote an opinion upholding a ban on foreign political spending to candidates and campaigns. His opinion, however, excludes foreign spending on “issue ads” (i.e. political ads designed to influence an election without explicitly supporting or opposing any candidate), which can originate from corporations, wealthy individuals and even foreign governments. The sanctioning of foreign-funding of such ads is extremely troubling at a time when U.S. intelligence agencies and others claim Russians were involved in influencing the 2016 elections.

What’s the point of all of this, especially as it relates to paid political protesters?

Simple. As in simple math. Call it “free speech math.”

If “money equals speech” (A = B), then “speech equals money” (B = A).

Translation: protesters who speak out should be paid.

If corporations and the super wealthy can bankroll political attack ads (many of which are done without knowing the sources of the funding, thus the moniker “dark money”), then why the heck can’t protesters be paid for, well, exercising their free speech? During the Kavanaugh hearing. During city council meetings. When protesting on the street. The list is endless. Makes just as much sense as money being defined not as property but as political free speech!

The same people who are outraged about paying people to protest at the Kavanaugh hearing (who all show their faces and will reveal their identities when paying fines) should be much more outraged about the flood of money in our political system which has has been constitutionally shielded by previous Supreme Courts as protected “free speech.” These huge amounts of political cash amount to legalized bribery and results in the drowning out of the voices of the vast majority of people who aren’t investing in political campaigns. The magnitude of the two different forms of “paid speech” isn’t remotely close.

Those who proclaim that paying protesters isn’t legitimately democratic should not only more loudly assert but take action against the ever-growing tsunami of political money from corporate entities and the super duper wealthy flooding our political system as a massive threat to whatever is left of our democratic republic.

Which it is.

Which is why the solution in the short run is to oppose Brett Kavanaugh.

Move to Amend (MTA) supports a constitutional amendment to end political money defined as free speech and corporations in all their forms being anointed with constitutional rights (what many call “corporate personhood.”)

MTA has sent an Open Letter to every member of the Senate stating its objections to his confirmation. MTA has also prepared a questionnaire for US Senators to ask focused on his beliefs about corporate constitutional rights. Forward it to your Senators and request they ask Kavanaugh for his responses.

Please do all you can to oppose the Brett Kavanaugh nomination…whether you’re paid to do it or not.

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If You Could Amend the Constitution

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The New York Times asked readers to submit suggestions for amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Those printed were on July 7 at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/07/opinion/constitution-amendments.html

My submission below was not among them….

To the Editor,

Corporations and the wealthy have hijacked the Revolution’s goal of replacing King George with We the People as the sovereign power.

Move to Amend’s “We the People Amendment,” H.J.R 48 with 58 Congressional cosponsors, declares our independence from corporate rule and the wealthy by establishing that only human beings possess inalienable constitutional rights and money isn’t free speech and can be regulated in elections.

Corporations were originally subordinate to people through state charters. Activist courts came to the rescue by anointing them with never-intended constitutional 1st, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendment rights, as well as protections under the Commerce and Contracts clauses. Money in elections has also been largely shielded from democratic regulation. The impact has been the buying of elections and the overturning of democratically enacted laws protecting communities, workers, consumers, family farms and the environment.

A legitimate democratic republic is impossible when corporations and money possess constitutional rights.

Greg Coleridge
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Outreach Director, Move to Amend

Remarks at Uniting Families Rally

ICE Facility / Brooklyn Heights, OH
June 28, 2018
Greg Coleridge, Move to Amend Outreach Director

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We are here to affirm Dignity, respect and humanity of all people. Immigrants are human beings — not aliens, criminals, animals. Dehumanizing people legitimizes violence and injustice toward those same people.

Immigration is a challenge, not a crisis

Between 1983 and 2006, according to the Border Patrol, the United States apprehended roughly one million—and sometimes as many as 1.5 million—undocumented immigrants per year along America’s southwest border. In fiscal year 2016, it was 408,000—less than half the number in 2009. In fiscal year 2017 (the first year under Trump), the figure plunged even lower: to 304,000.

Migrants who come are coming:
– To escape violence-plagued nations like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — some of that caused by US policies that supported authoritarian leaders. Gangs, too, that threatened young people. Parents shipped them to US to survive.
– To escape harsh economic conditions, some of which caused by NAFTA which favored US farmers over Mexican farmers — who lost their farms and decided to come to US to work as migrant farmers

So if invasion of immigrants is not happened, what are the Trump administration’s motives for harsh treatment of immigrants at border and across country?

4 motives:

1. Play to Trump base, fan hysteria and fear – populism requires movement. Fear of immigrants, people of color, Muslims — nonwhites are convenient targets (“the other”).

2. Distract attention from policies, programs and investigations that hurt most people or shed light on what’s going on. Invasion of immigrants on border, black NFL players disrespecting the flag and dangerous Muslims entering the country engender fear and distract attention away from lies, broken promises, unjust policies, etc (i.e. border wall paid by Mexico, negotiating NAFTA, Russian investigation, tax reform that benefited wealthy, cutting heath care, bloated military budget, gutting the social/economic safety net, elimination of environmental protections, Stormy Daniels, etc.)

3. Militarization of society – police, secret service, military budget, borders (ICE). ICE has a long history of being abusive and unaccountable – from deliberately separating families to engaging in racial profiling and warrantless searches. It has also been the subject of more than 1,200 complaints of sexual and physical abuse since its inception in 2003.

4. Expand corporate profits – spend our tax money on corporate run prisons/detention facilities.
Zero tolerance, separation of families, indefinite detentions policies: not only play to Trump racist base, but are big business — not multimillion but billion dollar

– The Southwest Key Programs has won at least $955 million in federal contracts since 2015 to run shelters and provide other services to immigrant children in federal custody. Its shelter for migrant boys at a former Walmart Supercenter in South Texas has been the focus of nationwide scrutiny, but Southwest Key is but one player in the lucrative, secretive world of the migrant-shelter business. About a dozen contractors operate more than 30 facilities in Texas alone, with numerous others contracted for about 100 shelters in 16 other states. History of abuse [Source: http://inthesetimes.com/article/21234/private-prison-trump-family-separation-immigration-ice%5D

– Geo Group PAC and executives are major political contributors (tens of thousands of dollars) to Texas Congresspersons who support constructing more private detention facilities.

-Privatization transportation – General Dynamics and MVM, a longtime contractor for ICE and the U.S. Marshals. MVM has earned close to $200 million since 2014 for transportation services. CSI Aviation also charters a number of flights for deportation, under the banner “ICE Air.”

-Somebody has to finance all this activity, and that predictably falls to the big banks. A 2016 In The Public Interest report identified Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo and SunTrust Bank as the primary lenders to private prison companies Geo Group and CoreCivic, providing $900 million in lines of credit for real estate financing and other business operations.

[Source: http://inthesetimes.com/article/21234/private-prison-trump-family-separation-immigration-ice%5D

What do we do?

1. Call Congress – Abolish ICE
Rep : 202-224-3121 / Portman, (216) 522-7095 / Brown, (216) 522-7272

Message: Every member of our community deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
That’s why, as someone who cares about human rights, I urge you to take immediate steps to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
ICE has a long history of being abusive and unaccountable – from deliberately separating families to engaging in racial profiling and warrantless searches. It has also been the subject of more than 1,200 complaints of sexual and physical abuse since its inception in 2003. Funding this agency makes you – and all taxpayers – complicit in its human rights violations.
Diversity is a strength of our communities, and our immigration policies should reflect that. I call on you to abolish ICE and end its cruelty.

2. Tell Congress: restore Community Supervision program. Asylum seekers showed up for their proceedings at rates of between 97 and 99 percent

3. Address issue of violence in Central America

4. End unfair trade practices in Mexico – NAFTA

5. End corporate personhood / money as speech.

 

 

 

The Pushback Against Ending Corporate Rule

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https://www.opednews.com/articles/2/The-Pushback-Against-Endin-by-Greg-Coleridge-Change_Corporate-Constitutional-Rights_Corporate-Courts_Corporate-Personhood-180604-680.html

 

It’s Up To Us To End The Corporate Monarchy

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https://movetoamend.org/its-us-end-corporate-monarchy

The fascination of the 29 million people in the United States who watched the British Royal Wedding over the weekend transcended the pageantry of the event and star power of the celebrity guests. In part, the interest was also due to trying to understand the current role of the monarchy in British society.

British Kings and Queens no longer possess unlimited authority. Dictating and defining virtually every action within the far-reaching British Empire is history —  British royalty today are mere figureheads, soap opera-like curiosities to many to distract attention from the day-to-day problems of life.

While people in the US are no longer “subjects” to British Kings and Queens following the colonial revolution, it would be a mistake to conclude We the People have authentically assumed ultimate or “sovereign” power to self-rule.

It’s never been true and much less true today as corporations, which at one time possessed only those powers and privileges granted by We the People through corporate charters, have fought in the courts to win constitutional rights.

Corporations increasingly act like monarchs.

These never-intended rights have allowed corporations to capture our government and elected officials. The continual and far-reaching wedding of corporations and politicians takes many forms — most of which don’t make television and aren’t of the feel-good, Camelot variety. Their nuptial offspring have been laws that harm people, communities and the planet — adversely affecting health care, education, jobs, housing, trade, budgets, food, transportation, energy, the environment, taxes, finance, and more.

If We the People are to be real rulers, then we have to end corporate rule.

Move to Amend is the only organization that not only takes on the undemocratic, unjust and unsustainable role of corporate personhood, we do something about it — specifically working for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate constitutional rights.

That’s what our We the People Amendment with its 56 co-sponsors in the House of Represenatives, and hundreds of nationwide resolutions and ballot initiatives, and hundreds of other organizational endorsements are all about.

We seek to end corporate monarchy.

To be legitimately politically independent beyond the reach of corporations, government or big foundations, Move to Amend must be economically independent. We must rely for the vast majority of our funding from people like you — dedicated to ending corporate rule and creating authentic democracy. 

Support Move to Amend. We are still $80,000 short, and we need everyone to pitch in — now! Even better than a one time donation is a pledge to invest in the movement to amend by making your donation monthly.

Royal weddings may be fascinating. But it will take many more than the 100,000 people in the streets who gawked at the royal union to royally volunteer your time, energy and resources to divorce corporations from government and governance.

That’s a disunion worth not only watching, but being a part of! Join us!

Thank you,
Greg Coleridge
Outreach Director, Move to Amend

Learning, Training and Lobbying to End Corporate Rule

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Move to Amend National Leadership Summit, June 8-11

by Greg Coleridge

http://poclad.org/BWA/2018/BWA_2018_Mar.html

“Democracy Day” Public Hearing Testimony

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Testimony of Greg Coleridge
5th Annual Democracy Day Public Hearing
Cleveland Heights, Ohio | January 25, 2018

The federal Republican tax measure passed at the end of 2017 wasn’t a bill as much as a reward — to corporations and the super wealthy.

According to the Tax Policy Center, the top 1 percent will receive 34 percent of the corporate tax cut benefit, and the top 20 percent, 70 percent of the benefit. Eliminating the estate tax only benefits those individuals with wealth exceeding $5 million ($10 million for married couples). Eliminating the corporate and reducing the individual alternative minimum tax also benefits only corporations and the super rich.

Republican Rep. Chris Collins stated about the bill: “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’” Sen. Lindsey Graham reportedly asserted that if the GOP doesn’t pass the bill, “contributions will stop.” Just 13 days after the tax law was passed, Charles Koch and his wife donated nearly $500,000 to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s joint fundraising committee. This is legalized bribery at its most blatant and sickening form.

So if corporate and individual donors are the winners of the tax bill, who are the losers? The nearly $1.5 trillion increase to the federal deficit will be paid by poor, working and middle class in spending cuts to government programs (including Social Security and Medicare if the Republicans have their way) and tax increases once the very modest tax cuts to the middle class end after eight years. Up to 13 million people also stand to lose their health insurance due to the tax bill/reward. That includes me. I doubt too many of these 13 million were the donors to its Republican supporters. I sure the hell wasn’t.

States and cities are also losers. It will be harder for states and cities to pay their bills. Ending the federal estate tax, reducing individual and corporate taxes and capping federal deductions for state and local taxes will have the double hit of reducing revenue and increasing calls to reduce state and local taxes. I don’t envy any state and local elected official having to deal with these twin challenges.

The rights of corporations and the super wealthy to donate or invest in politics since constitutionally corporations are “persons” and money is “speech” is a major reason for this historic tax heist. But we would be irresponsible here tonight if we did not underline that perversion of the First Amendment by corporations and the super rich is not the only constitutional problem.

Constitutional perversion by corporations claiming “personhood” transcends the First Amendment — and has done so for 130 years. Corporations have claimed 4th Amendment search and seizure rights, 5th Amendment takings rights, 14th Amendment due process and equal protection right — as well as other provisions of the First Amendment beyond the right to speak — including the right not to speak and, thanks to the bizarre Hobby Lobby decision, religious rights. The Commerce and Contracts clauses have also been hijacked to overturn hundreds of democratically enacted laws at the state and local levels.

None of this will ever change is all we do is focus on elections, laws or regulations. I wish it was that easy. It will only chance by changing the foundational governing rules of our nation — by amending the US Constitution, as Move to Amend proposes, to end all never intended corporate constitutional rights and money defined as free speech via the We the People Amendment, H.J.R 48.

In Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass, Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying, one can’t believe impossible things.” In response, the Queen countered, “I daresay you haven’t had much practice…When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

The history of social change in this country via social movements has always been about people believing in the impossible and acting on it. The result – depending on external circumstances and internal preparation – was what was seen as impossible in one year or era became inevitable in the next. Every single social change that expanded the rights to human beings in this nation was considered at first impossible.

Move to Amend’s We the People Amendment is inevitable if we are to avoid the complete evaporation of what’s left of our representative democracy. The Republican tax bill is one more ghastly and in your face reality that our government is fundamentally broken and only We the People can fundamentally fix it.