Round 2 of tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations

More Monahan March pictures

Round 2 of tax cuts for the super wealthy and corporations passed the House. Call your Senators. People power must counter the power of corporations and super wealthy via their political campaign “donations” — which are more like political investments — and damn profitable ones. This will continue and we’ll be on the defensive — responding, reacting and resisting — forever and ever so long as corporations possess inalienable constitutional rights of persons AND as long as money spent in elections is protected as First Amendment free speech. Did I say forever and ever? Yup. Forever and ever. That is until we end it via the We the People Amendment abolishing corporate constitutional rights and money as free speech. So what are we waiting for?

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/10/03/under-cover-kavanaugh-republicans-passed-huge-tax-cuts-wealthy

#WethePeopleAmendment

#MovetoAmend

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/10/03/under-cover-kavanaugh-republicans-passed-huge-tax-cuts-wealthy

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Free speech math

Money-is-Free-Speech-SHUT-UP

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.

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

Don’t Let the Ability to Rein In Corporate Rule Slip Through Our Hands Like Water – Time to Amend the Constitution Now!

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What does this year’s Oscar winner for best film and the topic of a new book on corporate power have in common? Besides the Oscar announcement and book release being just days apart, the title of the best film, “The Shape of Water” describes a property of nature that corresponds to a major theme described in We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights by UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler.

Like water, corporations are increasingly legally malleable and pliable. Water conforms to whatever shape it occupies. It’s natural law. The “shape” or definition of corporations is not due to gravity or any other law of nature. The “shape of corporations” is increasingly due to intentional and deliberate activist Supreme Court decisions over more than the past century, with some decisions seemingly contradicting previous ones, yet virtually always providing corporations greater flexibility and power.

The widening and deepening anger over the ever-expanding abuses and assaults of corporations to people, communities and the planet coupled with the frustration that traditional activist responses are less effective has given rise to greater interest in the subject that Winkler examines: corporate personhood and rights.

Winkler’s historical account of how corporations came to acquire constitutional rights of people is helpful, especially if it reaches new audiences. It’s a history, however, that for the past number of years, if not decades, has been shared in great detail in talks, writings, workshops and videos by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and Move to Amend – as well as in earlier books, most notably Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became ‘People’ and How You Can Fight Back by Thom Hartmann. That history spelled out that the shape of corporations was not like water, but more like bedrock – strictly defined by We the People through elected representatives by separate corporate charters and later general incorporation acts. Sovereign people were in charge of their legal creations with corporations only possessing privileges, not inalienable rights.

Not as helpful for people wanting to understand this complex topic and interested in taking meaningful action for fundamental change is Winkler’s lack of clarity in some of the articles about his book over the term “corporate personhood.”  “Corporate personhood” and “corporate constitutional rights” are not the same.

Legal personhood for incorporated entities (i.e. corporate personhood) are legal rights established by governmental laws — known as statutory rights. The legal capacity or legal “personality” of corporation includes the ability to make contracts and other obligations, hold property, sue to enforce their rights and be sued for breach of duty.

Constitutional rights, including the Bill of Rights, were originally intended solely for human beings — albeit, at first, only to white, male, property owners. Constitutional rights were never intended to apply to corporate entities. The word “corporation” is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. Corporate constitutional rights have been granted exclusively by the unelected body of the Supreme Court. No public official or voter has ever had the authority to grant corporate entities inalienable constitutional rights.

The growing grassroots movement to end corporate constitutional rights, facilitated by Move to Amend, and proposed by its We the People Amendment – declaring that only human beings possess inalienable constitutional rights and that money in political elections, which is not equivalent to First Amendment free speech, can be legislatively regulated — doesn’t advocate to end corporate personhood, only corporate constitutional rights. Corporate personhood and corporate constitutional rights are not interchangeable, at least not in the law. Mixing the two only produces confusion, which leads to inaction, which we as people under expanding corporate assaults and plunders cannot afford at a time when fundamental democratic change is urgent.

The repeated fears expressed by Winkler and others that ending corporate rights would result in random government seizure of property or censorship of the media doesn’t square with the law or reality and, again, confuses corporate personhood and constitutional rights. A corporation as an entity representing the collective individual constitutional rights of its shareholders to defend their property rights would not change with the abolition of the corporation’s constitutional rights. The landmark New York Times v. Sullivan case upholding freedom of the press made no mention of the newspaper’s corporate form – what shielded the Times was the First Amendment’s “freedom of the press” not corporate constitutional rights. And why do we never, ever hear of such grave injustices toward corporations in other western “democracies” – countries with statutory protections of corporations (i.e. personhood) but apparently none of which have anointed corporations with inalienable constitutional rights? How many “corporate persons” have we seen on life rafts flocking to U.S. shores to escape the carnage of corporate “death penalties” and other miseries to the corporate life and limb?

Winkler makes an important point that the Supreme Court decreasingly considers corporations as their own legal person in constitutional cases. The Citizen United v. FEC ruling, for example, which expanded the ability of corporate entities to donate (or invest) in elections wasn’t based on the “corporations are people” premise, but rather on two arguments. First, limiting corporate political speech was a violation not because the organization Citizens United was a corporate person, but because limiting its corporate speech violated “listeners’ rights.” The person, not the government, had “the right and privilege to determine for itself what speech and speakers are worthy of consideration,” stated Justice Kennedy in his majority opinion. Second, limiting Citizens United’s political speech was actually a limit on collective individual speech since the corporation is merely a type of voluntary association of people, specifically shareholders. It’s not just individuals who have constitutional rights, so the argument goes, but individuals in their associated form who come together for mutual purposes.

While the Court has a long history of concocting fantastic pretzel-like legal contortions to justify widening the power and rights of the few and privileged and denying the rights of those historically oppressed (i.e. justifying women as subordinate to men, slaves as property, holding up Jim Crow segregation for sixty years, etc.), it’s nevertheless critical to understand and strategically counter the latest defenses to corporate concentrated power.

A person has no more the inalienable right to “listen” as (s)he has the rights to speak at will, for as long as (s)he may want for hours on end before, say, a city council meeting – including being prohibited from speaking at all if the message isn’t germane or the person may live outside the community. Reasonable limits are legitimate and the rule (e.g., usually a five minute maximum testimony at council meetings). Curious that nowhere in the Citizens United ruling was referenced rights to be heard from individuals whose voices are drowned out since they aren’t wealthy or don’t own a corporation. These rights are completely absent from the equation when calculating corporate free speech.

When it comes to corporations as nothing more than an association of persons, it’s back to the “shape of water” argument. When it’s convenient for a corporation to be separate from its shareholders to avoid being personally liable for a corporate malfeasance, then there’s zero connection, but when it’s convenient for the corporation to shield itself behind its human employees, shareholders, etc., then it’s nothing more than that — a mask to shirk responsibility. Corporate agents can’t have it both ways.

For those of us dedicated to opening up the democracy space that corporations have forever been trying to close, it’s necessary that any final proposed constitutional amendment addressing corporate rule close these loopholes.

Winkler has stated, “[t]he question is not whether corporations should have rights but which rights corporations should have. Today’s steady expansion of corporate rights is a product of giving corporations the same rights as their members. Instead, we should treat corporations as separate legal persons — with only those rights appropriate for corporations.” He’s correct. The corporate rights or protections that corporations should possess should be statutory. Inalienable rights belong alone to human beings.

Corporations have been playacting as “persons” in too many ways for too long – well deserving its own separate academy award for the category of “Worse Stand in for a Human Being.” Yet the Oscar it deserves is no more a legal person than Oscar Meyer (the corporation). Both are objects created by human beings to presumably serve some useful purpose (though maybe questionable given the ingredients in many hot dogs). It’s time that we clearly affirm that unalienable constitutional rights must be reserved exclusively for human beings, not for a hot dog or any corporation– no matter how much they may dramatically act like one.

The legal profession — too many Supreme Court Justices, almost all corporate attorneys and more than a few constitutional law professors — has been the directors and producers of this frightful show. With straight faces they have expanded or argued for corporate rights over human rights and the right to thrive in a livable world.

We cannot be intimidated or confused. While not lawyers or jurists, the vast majority of people in this country have PhDs on being on the short end of one assault or another by wealthy corporations. Permitting such assaults to people, communities and the planet – be they defended by corporate constitutional rights, listener’s rights or any other concocted bogus legal constructs — is the ultimate theatrical fantasy that has been a real life disaster that only an independent, diverse and fearless democracy movement will end.