The Post-Citizens United Era.

This month marks five years since the United States Supreme Court made their infamous ruling in the case of Citizens United v. FEC. That ruling turned a century of legal precedent on its head with the declaration that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend money in elections. And, that ruling opened the floodgates to massive spending levels in our political process.

In the five years since the Citizens United decision was made, some alarming trends have emerged, and they show exactly why the ruling was disastrous for our democracy. According to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice, three of these dangerous trends were foreseen by the Justices, but virtually ignored nonetheless.

In the election cycles since the ruling, we've seen “a tidal wave of dark money,” despite the Supreme Court's claim that “prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable.” And, those shareholders – the ones that our Supreme Court said would hold corporations accountable – have had a difficult time standing up to corporate spending that they know nothing about.

In between elections, wealthy donors and corporations found new ways to collaborate with so-called outside groups, and work around regulations that limit direct campaign contributions. The Court claimed that those remaining regulations would prevent corruption, but donors simply went around them and continued trying to roll them back.

In the last five years, the rich and the powerful have found new ways to buy off our politicians and made it possible for lawmakers to ignore everyone except those at the top. In 2014 alone, the top 100 donors to Super PACs spent almost as much as 4.75 million small donors combined.

There is just no other way to say it – the Citizens United ruling gave the rich control of our democracy and it's up to us to take it back. We must get money out of politics – go to MoveToAmend.org to find out how.

Comments

mathboy's picture
mathboy 5 years 35 weeks ago
#1

Asking Netanyahu to testify to a Congressional committee would be one thing, but asking him to simply address the House, so that there's no chance to question him and ensure that his story is consistent with other known information, is just a way to let Israel lie its ass off to the whole House with no accountability.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 5 years 35 weeks ago
#2

Thom, It's easier to get cocoa powder to mix with a small amount of milk first, breaking up insulated clumps with a spoon, then stir in more milk after the cocoa is completely wettened. I have no idea about blueberry powder, as I've never heard of that.

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 5 years 35 weeks ago
#3

This may seem somewhat off topic, but when one considers the systemic coordinated corruption of federal judiciary around the country and why no one is being held accountable for any real crime while at the same time cracking down on comparatively insignificant crime committed by the poor and people of color, the following makes a lot of sense. This is in keeping with many conversations I over heard while in high school and college, working for old monied elites who spoke to each other in front of me, assuming I was no more intelligent than a house fly. Yes, they do sit around and choose world leaders and make policy at their secret meetings...and the end game for any who are not in the richest .001% basically amounts to passive, if not active genocide. Below is a link to very well put together documentary by Francis R. Conolly. It names names, times and places and is worth the time. Short of going off grid, working locally to make our communities independent of our current geo-political-economic system, nothing that I can think of can be done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Qt6a-vaNM

mathboy's picture
mathboy 5 years 35 weeks ago
#4

Perhaps some of the rules used by California's redistricting commission could be combined with my own idea of how to make districting objective and, hopefully, fair.

http://www.thomhartmann.com/users/mathboy/blog/2013/09/objective-redistricting-part-1-description

I'll have to look those rules up to see how much improvement I can make. Good thing it's Friday; I might actually have time for that this weekend.

Raypc800 5 years 35 weeks ago
#5

Yes folks it is clear that the USA Justice System from the top down has some of the best Conservative judges that money can buy.

oneworldatpeace's picture
oneworldatpeace 5 years 35 weeks ago
#6

What we're seeing is the death rattles of White Supremacy Capitalism as the light at the end of the tunnel gets warmer and the Empire of EXTRACTIONS end becomes inevitable! They are loosing their minds because the old standards of power and connections are changing skin color and sensibilities that are questioning the benefits of the Status Quo!

PaulHosse's picture
PaulHosse 5 years 35 weeks ago
#7

Citizens United was one of the worse decisions the Supreme Court ever made. It merely served to add an exclaimation point to the fact that we are no longer a democratic republic, but a de facto oligrarcy.

Alvord Al's picture
Alvord Al 5 years 35 weeks ago
#8

For the ultimate campaign finance reform, how about pushing for a constitutional amendment making it the law of the land that ONLY public funds can be used for the public vote? NO outside money allowed. With all funding coming from a small obligatory yearly tax chipped in by all citizens, each candidate would receive the same amount of money and free time on public radio/television, effectively leveling the playing field. In one fell swoop, that would take care of the problem of corrupting big money flowing into our election system.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 5 years 34 weeks ago
#9

I will place this needle back on the broke record - If you want real choice, the citizen of the US must form independent democratic institutions to counter the absolute corruption of our limited representative government. Establish democratic principles through education, participation and practice then attack from the bottom up. The wealthy have the high ground, but we have the numbers to crush their fascist fantasies.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 5 years 34 weeks ago
#10

Hate typos

The issues of Citizens United are falsely framed as "free speech" issues, i.e., conservative supporters of the ruling falsley claim that it's purpose was to fulfill the promise of the First Amendment and make the right of freedom of speech a reality for all. The truth, however, is the opposite. The true purpose of the Citizens United ruling was not to further free speech but, in fact, to suppress free speech, of all who are not billionaires or exorbidantly rich.

By making one's right to free speech depend on one's ability to pay for it the Supreme Court has directly contradicted the Constitution rather than upheld it by making the freedom of speech, rather than a basic right for all, a privilege of the wealthy and a luxury of the well to do. It ensures that only the wealthy will be able to speak, publicly - even in the Soviet Union or any totalitarian police state one could speak freely in private.

Therein is the essence of the matter because the freedom of speech is meaningless if it doesn't include the right to be heard. Freedom to close yourself into a soundproof closet and speak freely there, but nowhere else, is not "freedom of speech", in any meaningful sense.

For a time the oligarchic powers that be tried a strategy for public speech they found inconvenient by relegating it to "free speech zones" or "free speech pens" which were often literally "pens" or cages or fenced enclosures, sometimes with barbed wire, wherein - and only wherein - "free speech" was supposedly allowed. Typically these pens were in the alley by the dumpsters or in some remote area where few people (and certainly not the powerful intended targets of the protest - or the public before which they were to be called out and held accountable to) would be likely to hear the dissenters enjoying their "freedom" whence confined to the pen. (It did provide some richly, poetically ironic imagery of "freedom of speech" being locked behind barbed wire that was too much even for the plutocratic devisers of the strategy and thus the practice was abandoned after a few years - but not before some pretty significant events had passed, such as the Republican National Convention of 2004 and some anti "free trade" summits, with protest somewhat circumscribed by it. For the record, the progenitors of the methodology were the Democrats, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago first implementing it to limit or preclude protest at the Democratic National Convention of 1996, in his city, which he anticipated to be great and possibly quite violent.)

Thus freedom of speech is the freedom to speak but, really, it is the right to be heard and, perhaps more importantly, the right of us, the public, to hear them, the speakers, so that we can then make informed choices on issues and elections.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 5 years 34 weeks ago
#11
Quote sandlewould:

This may seem somewhat off topic, but when one considers the systemic coordinated corruption of federal judiciary around the country and why no one is being held accountable for any real crime while at the same time cracking down on comparatively insignificant crime committed by the poor and people of color, the following makes a lot of sense. This is in keeping with many conversations I over heard while in high school and college, working for old monied elites who spoke to each other in front of me, assuming I was no more intelligent than a house fly. Yes, they do sit around and choose world leaders and make policy at their secret meetings...and the end game for any who are not in the richest .001% basically amounts to passive, if not active genocide. Below is a link to very well put together documentary by Francis R. Conolly. It names names, times and places and is worth the time. Short of going off grid, working locally to make our communities independent of our current geo-political-economic system, nothing that I can think of can be done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Qt6a-vaNM

That doc was more than a little wild in spots. I think there were a couple of things were wrong with it right on the surface.

First, organized labor was becoming infiltrated by organized crime in the '30s because employers they were fighting were hiring gangsters to break the strikes so unions started hiring gangsters to fight those gangsters. At the end of that period the unions emerged, oft times, in the control of those gangsters that they hired. The Teamsters, however, didn't get that way until the '50s and, in some regions of the United States, not at all.

Second, anybody who knows anything of the life of Mao Tse Tung could hardly dismiss him as a "Chinese gangster" planted in Beijing by the Skull and Bones Illuminati or secret fascist industrialists like the doc did. It's just laughable.

That highlights the main problem with the whole doc, they make a lot of assertions without backing them up, expecting you to accept them at face value, rightly presuming that most people don't know any better one way or another and, not unlikely, will just say, "Golly!", swallow it all whole and be off on a fervent, lifelong conspiracy trip.

I know they were, at least, exaggerating on a couple of occasions, lying on at least one, I don't know how many more times they may've been. I need a little proof, for me to accept it uncritically, at face value would be reckless.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 5 years 34 weeks ago
#12

Hope I wasn't too tactless in how I panned that documentary but I think it's not quite so hopeless, I think the documentarians are trying to exaggerate it way out of proportion.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 5 years 34 weeks ago
#13
Quote Mark J. Saulys:Hope I wasn't too tactless in how I panned that documentary but I think it's not quite so hopeless, I think the documentarians are trying to exaggerate it way out of proportion.

Mark J. Saulys ~ I wouldn't be too apologetic if I were you. I think you're spot on. YouTube is full of fantastic conspiracy documentaries that prey upon the worst fears of people. There was a time I followed these theories with earnest myself. Then, I realized that the dire predictions made simply never came true. Then it occurred to me that the REAL conspiracy is the existence of these conspiracies theories themselves. What better way to control the population than distract them with fear, anxiety, and the feeling of helplessness? Paralyze the population with fear so to speak. When you look at it that way, the minor investment made in these productions have a rather high return on investment for the establishment.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 5 years 34 weeks ago
#14
Quote D'Anne Marc:

Then it occurred to me that the REAL conspiracy is the existence of these conspiracies theories themselves. What better way to control the population than distract them with fear, anxiety, and the feeling of helplessness? Paralyze the population with fear so to speak. When you look at it that way, the minor investment made in these productions have a rather high return on investment for the establishment.

Or to discredit conspiracy theorizing in general so when someone happens upon the real story, "wolf!" has been cried too many times already.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 5 years 34 weeks ago
#15

Mark J. Saulys ~ How true! After all, it all started with COINTELPRO. If we learned tomorrow that sources within that old agency were behind most of these bogus theories and claims, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

riverside's picture
riverside 5 years 34 weeks ago
#16

One thing the Democrats need, is to develop a big mouth. But then do the opposite way of the other side - SHOUT THE TRUTH backed up with THE FACTS! And by the way, well said Mark!

riverside's picture
riverside 5 years 34 weeks ago
#17

Very good Alvord!

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 5 years 34 weeks ago
#18

You got it, Alvord. That is, in fact, done in Western Europe and government isn't nearly as corrupt there, things that are barely mentioned here would be full fledged scandals there.

Arizona and Maine had laws that were close to that and until CU knocked them down they took lobbyists completely out of the equation. In Wahington, legislators from either of those two states could walk from their cars to their offices or to their legislative chambers in less than 5 minutes. Everybdy else took at least a half an hour because they had to run the gauntlet of lobbyists lying in wait for them.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 5 years 34 weeks ago
#19

I've had an interesting idea about splitting up large states, but I don't have time to lay it out before the end of the show. Maybe I'll try tomorrow if there's a "live" blog post.

Intermittent Instigator's picture
Intermittent In... 5 years 34 weeks ago
#20

"...it's up to us to take it back. We must get money out of politics."

(In addition to MoveToAmend.org - the folks at Wolf-Pac.com are taking action)

And then there's some knucklehead pushing this line of...:

___________________________________________________________________________________________

FREE PARTY!!! Democrats, Greens, Libertarians... are invited to address issues, and debate and discuss an agenda for positive change to be effected upon setting aside the backward and corrupt Citizens United trumping united citizens paradigm.

Citizens United doesn't say that spending xillions to run for office is required, and this may be nothing more than a misconception.

A new party might be considered, maybe not right away, or maybe just in time for the 2016 go-round.

The "Red" team and the "Blue" team, will likely continue to attempt to marginalize, ignore, and suppress any kind of "third party" voices (Heard that Jill Stein was once shackled to a chair(!!!)) that might present a serious challenge to the status quo.

They can't stop us from having a(n even better) conversation.

Why not a FREE PARTY that runs on ideas, not money. Why play the losing game of competing for bribes with an opposition, whose wealthy and powerful masters can invest in politicians with their pocket change, whereas most Americans can't readily afford to (and shouldn't have to), even if they had more interest and faith in the democratic process.

Government should be more than a lobbying/trade group for the various non-citizen interests it seems to have come to represent.

Politicians should be doing their jobs and not spending half their time fundraising.

Many elected offices provide decent salaries and benifits. The public should
not have to fund politician's SuperPAC's, Powerful "dark" special interests should certainly not be allowed to. (Heard Huckabee turned his PAC into a generous welfare program for his friends and family.)

What if the likes of Marianne Williamson, Jill Stein, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, Ralph Nader, Jeff Merkley, Peter DeFazio, Russ Feingold, Sherrod Brown, Jerry Brown... (and their ilk) were to have some electrifying discussions, presentations, hearings, debates... (maybe the Greens could debate the Browns).

The public could enjoy these via You-Tube... (maybe even C-Span, PBS...), and engage in lively discussion and debate. Maybe at some point, they could come up with a slate of candidates for all sorts of elected offices... running as Greens, Browns, or...

Cost: ?? (might be worth it regardless)

Maybe when the "prime time" debates are held in 2016, the people who care about the issues and want to work for a better future (many of whom actually vote) will be paying attention to this convention/these debates (great ratings on C-SPAN?). Maybe being excluded from sharing the stage with the august "Blue" and "Red" teams will be out of the question.

Maybe the bribers and bought-and-paid-for set can spend all they want on getting their messages out, but if they fail to address the real conversation... who knows?

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 5 years 34 weeks ago
#21

Mark J. Saulys,

I agree, some of it is off base...or seems to be, but just as much of it is also dead on. There's obviously no money being made by the producer...his only motive seems to be to tell the story. ..and being a fly on the wall over hearing these discussions back in the 70s..well, that's all the proof I need.

Trump has told us how he and the Republicans plan to steal this election: can we stop him and save our republic?

Thom plus logo Donald Trump became president by exploiting a loophole called the Electoral College. The majority of Americans did not want him or vote for him as president, but he's there anyway.

Now he's planning on using a different loophole, the 12th Amendment, to hang onto power.
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"In an age rife with media-inspired confusion and political cowardice, we yearn for a decent, caring, deeply human soul whose grasp of the problems confronting us provides a light by which we can make our way through the quagmire of lies, distortions, pandering, and hollow self-puffery that strips the American Dream of its promise. How lucky we are, then, to have access to the wit, wisdom, and willingness of Thom Hartmann, who shares with us here that very light, grown out of his own life experience."
Mike Farrell, actor, political activist, and author of Just Call Me Mike and Of Mule and Man
From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."
Paul Hawken, coauthor of Natural Capitalism and author of The Ecology of Commerce
From Screwed:
"I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom’s great work, it helps show us the way forward."
Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen and The Impossible Will Take a Little While