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Corporate Free Speech, Terror

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doug_thompsondougthompson


The U.S. Supreme Court’s deci- sion on corporate free speech has united the citizens of this country like nothing else since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Read “The Numbers” at http:// blogs.abcnews.com/thenumbers/. Long-time readers of this space may recall that the author is Gary Langer, who works for ABC News. He’s one of the best number crunchers who can speak plain English.

“The numbers” in this case are absolutely staggering: 80 percent of Americans oppose the ruling, including 65 percent who “strongly” oppose it. I won’t steal any more of Langer’s thunder, other than to say that the near-unanimous public rejection of this ruling cuts across all partisan and political lines.

This is the one where the Supreme Court decided that limits on corporate spending in political campaigns violates the free speech provisions of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This deci- sion would be massively unpopular at any time, but the timing is incred- ibly poor.

The last presidential campaign set records for the amount of money infused into it. The public is weary of corporate bailout where business interests seem to prevail over all else. Wall Street bonuses — which really need to be permanent salary since they are expected all the time and because that’s really what they are — have burned up whatever patience the rest of the country has

left. And now this. Corporations have gone from

being equal “citizens” like real peo- ple to what is widely perceived as more equal than others. The mas- sive spending on advertising to block health care reform bombards people every day. Now they’re told that corporations aren’t free to spend enough.

The greatest threat to mainstream media is not the Internet. The great- est threat is the professional news management services, the public relations and lobbying firms who are well paid, well staffed and have no other mission but to control the message. Now they’re unbound.

This is not good.

I don’t know what to do about it. I’m not sure there is a legal rem- edy. There has to be a political one. People are going to have to fight fire with fire, which means there will have to be corporations formed to fight other corporations.

Let’s disregard the issue itself, though, and look at the outrage.

People are up in arms about something. Don’t even take heed of what it is.

Are they going to do anything about it?

If the whole nation is roused up about it and there is a unanimous view that this is a very bad thingand there are no political con- sequences to that — that will be a very bad sign for the republic.

left. And now this. Corporations have gone from

being equal “citizens” like real peo- ple to what is widely perceived as more equal than others. The mas- sive spending on advertising to block health care reform bombards people every day. Now they’re told that corporations aren’t free to spend enough.

The greatest threat to mainstream media is not the Internet. The great- est threat is the professional news management services, the public relations and lobbying firms who are well paid, well staffed and have no other mission but to control the message. Now they’re unbound.

This is not good.

I don’t know what to do about it. I’m not sure there is a legal rem- edy. There has to be a political one. People are going to have to fight fire with fire, which means there will have to be corporations formed to fight other corporations.

Let’s disregard the issue itself, though, and look at the outrage.

People are up in arms about something. Don’t even take heed of what it is.

Are they going to do anything about it?

If the whole nation is roused up about it and there is a unanimous view that this is a very bad thing

It’s going to be an interesting year. It is highly possible that people can be this upset about political con- tributions and will stand by while those contributions are funneled in to the 2010 elections — and do nothing.

Now that’s a scary thought.

Speaking of money and scary thoughts, note should be taken that Moody’s, the bond rating service, has announced that the end of the U.S. government’s AAA bond rat- ing is in sight. The best guess is five years or so from now unless some- thing serious changes.

Note that all these bailouts and stimulus packages haven’t exactly restarted our economic engines.

Some economists will tell you that its because we didn’t spend enough. I’d argue that we spent it in the wrong places, such as saving moribund companies like General Motors. The idea that the U.S. car industry is dying is a myth. What’s dying is U.S.-owned car companies. Toyota may have taken some well- deserved bumps lately, but they’re nothing compared to the gross mis- management the U.S. car industry has suffered for decades.

Stimulus spending is supposed to jump start us, not keep the dead walking. It would appear that the revival won’t come in time or strong enough to save our debt rat- ing. We’ll see.

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