The Brett Kimberlin Saga:

Follow this link to my BLOCKBUSTER STORY of how Brett Kimberlin, a convicted terrorist and perjurer, attempted to frame me for a crime, and then got me arrested for blogging when I exposed that misconduct to the world. That sounds like an incredible claim, but I provide primary documents and video evidence proving that he did this. And if you are moved by this story to provide a little help to myself and other victims of Mr. Kimberlin’s intimidation, such as Robert Stacy McCain, you can donate at the PayPal buttons on the right. And I thank everyone who has done so, and will do so.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Burying the Bullshit Meter’s Needle (or “Fisking Barbara Streisand on Citizens United”)

Or maybe I could call this, “Shooting Fish in a Barrel.”

That’s right folks, Barbara Streisand has written at the Huffington Post.  Admittedly making fun of her is a bit too easy, but really too much fun to miss out.

So he were go:

Barbra Streisand
Posted: January 28, 2010 03:13 PM

Okay, first, do you believe that Babs wrote a word of this?  Yeah, me neither.  Certainly she has had a history of “blogging” by asking an assistant to speak out in her name.  So let’s instead treat her comments as sort of the comments of the business organization headed by Ms. Streisand.  Let’s call that “Babs, Inc.”

We The Corporations? I Don't Think So.

I felt like I was in suspended animation as I read the Supreme Court decision...

Mmm, yeah, Babs, Inc., I believe you read any of it.

...which essentially enables a corporate coup d'état of America's Democracy.

Which essentially means she has no idea what a coup d’etat is.  Here’s a hint: using “Americanized” foreign words only make you look smart if you use them correctly.  For instance, if we go to Webster’s dictionary and look up the word, you find it is defined as “a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; especially : the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group.”  The key thing is that force has to be involved.  As I have said, this was a decision that allowed for nothing more than speech, and speech is not force.

Our country's Founding Fathers never intended for monarchs or the business establishment to rule our nation.

Ah, suddenly this liberal is an originalist.  Good to know.

Anyway, again, Babs, Inc., we are talking about speaking, not ruling.  Like right now I am speaking, but I am not ruling anyone.

But here is the funniest part.

Corporations are not people nor are they individual citizens. They are chartered by states to conduct commerce. And while I certainly don't pretend to be a constitutional scholar, I have been reading a lot about this and thankfully, many brilliant minds do agree with me.

So, you confess you don’t know what you are talking about, but hey, some really smart people agree with you, presumptively people who do know what they are talking about.  Oh good, Babs, Inc., so why don’t you sit down and shut up and let them do the talking instead?  Well, no, then that would require a little less egotism.

Okay, so how about this, instead?  How about you cite or link to them so we might have a more informed point of view?  Nope, not even that.  Good to know.

While I have always been a longtime believer, defender and supporter of the First Amendment guarantee of the right to free speech, the signers of our Constitution certainly did not intend for that to mean that corporations should be able to spend unlimited amounts of money in order to influence the outcome of our elections.

Mmm, yeah, and pay no attention to those words at the bottom of the screen...

Obviously, that is a screen capture, with me putting a circle on the pic to highlight it.

So that would be “, Inc.,” telling us that the constitution doesn’t apply to corporations at all.  So I suppose it would be okay for us to pass a law declaring that the Huffpo no longer had a right to publish, right, given that it never had a right to speak in the first place?  Right?

She then quotes from Stevens' dissent as follows:

Corporations are not actually members of [our society]. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.

Just remember those words.

She goes on to talk about efforts to protest and overturn this decision.

And maybe, with deep grassroots popular support, organizations will even push for a constitutional amendment to undo this terrible decision.

Yeah, but Babs, Inc., the thing is, that organizations cannot vote or run for office, may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, and their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. So you are endorsing using the power of organizations that are not themselves actual human beings to take away the speech rights of other organizations that you don’t like.  Isn’t that a little problematic?

In our democracy, that is the only opportunity that the framers provided us to change Supreme Court opinions.

Kind of sucks being on the opposite end of this, doesn’t it?

During George W. Bush's presidency, Karl Rove made it clear to all that he was laying the groundwork for the corporate-backed Republican Party to maintain political control for decades to come.

Well, we have seen the reductio ad Nixon, now we have the reductio ad Rove.  But all that really amounts to is trying to win elections.

Although President Obama convinced the American public in 2008 that the United States was headed in the wrong direction

Well, Obama convinced us we were going in the wrong direction in 2009, too.  And with Scott Brown elected, maybe we can hope we will at least stop going in that direction.

we should not take for granted that Rove's plans would immediately unwind. By laying the ground work over eight years with the political appointments of judges, Rove and his republican allies knew that their efforts would pay off down the line... and with this ruling, they have succeeded.

It’s a conspiracy!  A conspiracy!

We must not allow special interests and their paid corporate lobbyists to block our efforts.

Unless they are on our side.  Seriously, is anyone else sick of this trope where we pretend that one side is all greedy lobbyists, and special interests, and but our side is pure as new fallen snow?

I wish this conservative Supreme Court that supposedly exercises judicial restraint and supports legal precedence had not flip-flopped for the second time in ten years (the first being Bush v. Gore) and become the most activist court in recent history.

Do you think she has any idea what she is saying here?  Yeah, me neither.  I guess a lot of smart people agree with her, though...

And then she goes on a while saying, more or less, “go Democrats!”

But let me stop and contribute a big thought here.  So what is wrong with corporations speaking. Oh, right because they have lots of money which gives them an outsized influence in our society.  In other words, due to their massive amounts of cash, their voices are amplified to an inappropriate degree.  Well, wholly apart from the constitutional issue, I agree that when you see a political ad where it ends by saying, “this ad was brought to you by Exxon” this should make you skeptical of their message.

But, um, isn’t that exactly the same problem we have with celebrity speech?  I mean seriously, do you think anyone put this up because you were an expert on the subject?  Well, given that you yourself admit you are not a constitutional scholar, the answer is an obvious no.  But you are rich and famous, so certain people think that you deserve extra attention.  And remember that concern about foreign corporations speaking?  Just as big a problem with foreign celebrities.

I mean right now we have the movie Avatar, which to some degree has some anti-Bush speech in it.  I think the concern is overblown, but its there and its particularly glaring because it doesn’t fit with the situation the characters were in.  And James Cameron, its director, is a Canadian.  And supposedly he had something like $500 million behind him to get his message out.  Now where is the conservative chorus to argue for its suppression as evil speech by a foreigner, or by a corporation?

Oh, wait, it isn’t there.  There is a lot of bitching and moaning about the message, but that is just counter-speech—speech disagreeing with other speech. But no one thinks that we have to silence Cameron, or else he is some kind of threat to the republic.

And that is because apparently republicans these days get something that the democrats apparently don’t.  Free speech is for everyone, even people you don’t like.

Gee, that would be a great title for a post, come to think of it...

Update:  A parting thought.  Now Babs, Inc. imagines that we will actually amend the constitution to exclude corporations from the First Amendment.  Let’s remind ourselves what it takes to amend the constitution:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress.

So first you have to get either 2/3 of Congress to propose it, or conventions from 2/3 of the states. Then it has to be approved by 3/4 of the states.

So Babs, Inc. thinks it is possible to summon up that kind of overwhelming majority of our politicians and people, but at the same time corporate speech is so pernicious and dangerous, that corporate speech has to be suppressed.  I mean if corporate speech was that dangerous, if it could so overwhelm the electorate to amount to a veritable coup d'état, um, then isn’t that impossible?