We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, January 24. 2010
President Obama is trying to, once again, stir up resentment of “big business.” Obama does not mention that “big unions” and other Democrat-loving lobbies are larger spenders in political campaigns, largely unfettered now while corporations are under McCain-Feingold campaign finance restrictions. Obama is trying to politick his way out of his many political defeats, protect his liberal base, and is doing so by pursuing his consistent opposition to free speech. His transparency is evident, and boomeranging.
In the 2008 campaign, as Michael Barone wrote, “attempts to shut down political speech have become routine for liberals.” President Obama is consistent in continuing this shameful pursuit.
Once elected, President Obama issued an order barring officials from talking with lobbyists about the spending of “stimulus” funds. The ACLU was critical:
President Obama appointed Cass Sunstein to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, with influence thoughout the Executive branch and regulatory agencies. Sunstein favors “using the courts to impose a "chilling effect" on speech that might hurt someone's feelings,” to stifle criticisms of politicians.
The return of David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, to the Obama White House is telling of President Obama’s choice to pursue deceitful politicking instead of support free speech.
Bauer is a supporter of campaign finance laws. He argued against the Citizens United challenge to them before the US Supreme Court.
Plouffe is an architect of Obama’s misleading campaign verbiage. Together, they are behind President Obama’s denunciation of last week’s US Supreme Court decision to overturn some of the excess restrictions on political spending in the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign law and following Federal Election Commission regulations and rulings.
President Obama pronouncement:
The Associated Press reported, “Yet the president is among those who see it as blowing open the doors to big-business influence over democracy. He predicted that anyone who runs for election and tries to take on powerful special interests will now be more likely to be "under assault come election time."
President Obama’s rhetoric ignores that currently his allies, like unions, are both favored by McCain-Feingold and the largest contributors to campaigns. Open Secrets lists the organizations that are Major Donors between 1989-2010. Of the top 100, far more lean Democrat, including 8 of the top 10. So far, in the 2010 election cycle, 60% of Political Action Committee contributions are to Democrats. In addition, Independent Expenditures between 1989-2010 on political campaigns by organizations, ostensibly uncoordinated with a political party, lists by far the largest coming from unions.
The sheer audacity of liberal groups is evident at the ACLU, which argued in support of the case brought in Citizens United but is now considering reversing itself. “ ‘The worst thing you could do – the absolutely worst thing you could do – is transform a civil liberties organization into a liberal political organization,’ Mr. Abrams, one of the most famous First Amendment lawyers in the country, told the board.” That hasn’t stopped the ACLU before.
The Supreme Court decision will not unleash major corporation contributions to political campaigns. Most are pressed during the current economy. Most want to avoid contentious public issues, so as not to harm their “brand.” Most important, most large ones contribute to Democrats and Republicans, shifting their weight with which is in power. Most, especially the large ones, are most interested in feeding at the public trough than in being partisan. Unions, however, find their bread buttered only with Democrats.
Another missed outcome of the Supreme Court decision is that tax-favored Non-Profit corporations, most heavily Democrat and liberal, are enthusiastic at being able to spend on political campaigns. “The ruling could make it easier for advocacy groups to speak out, says Abby Levine, deputy director of advocacy programs at
Critics of McCain-Feingold’s restrictions on free speech, however, weighed in with more reasoned Constitutional sense. For example:
I previously wrote about The McCain-Feingold Ghoul.
Even today's New York Times' analysis recognizes: "Legal scholars and social scientists say the evidence is meager, at best, that the post-Watergate campaign finance system has accomplished the broad goals its supporters asserted." Now that it's proven by experience, that only leaves partisan BS for Obama et. al.
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I'm sorry, corporations are NOT citizens. This is one of those things that i just part ways with other conservatives who get the theory of law mixed up with how it actually happens to work. I have no great love for the unions, but the unions spending on campaigns is a rounding error to corporate political influence money. somebody joked that maybe our Representatives will start wearing jump suits with advertising like Nascar drivers. It was almost that bad before, now it will get worse. It might have made sense when corporations were not gigantic institutions with more power and resources than nation states, but now they are really beholden to nobody. I don't think anybody can prove to me that this is what our founding fathers had in mind when they gave us a country.
this will hurt conservatives far more in the long run than it does the Left, you watch. Big business likes cozying up to government, and that is where the Left have its strength.
Sorry, Brier Rabbit, that argument is sheer briar patch. See:
Should People Acting through Corporations be Denied Constitutional Rights Because Corporations are “State-Created Entities”?
Ilya Somin • January 22, 2010 4:52 pm
One of the standard arguments put forward by critics of the Supreme Court’s decision protecting corporate political speech in Citizens United is that people aren’t entitled to constitutional rights when they use corporate resources because corporations are “state-created entities.” If the state can create an entity, it supposedly also has the power to define its rights any way it pleases. This is slightly different from the argument that people using corporate resources don’t deserve constitutional protection because corporations aren’t “real people.” But it has many of the same weaknesses, and some additional ones as well.
I. Media Corporations are “State-Created Entities” Too.
The first problem is that, like the “real people” argument, it applies to media corporations as well. On this view, the government would be free to censor the New York Times, Fox News, the Nation, National Review, and so on. Nearly every newspaper and political journal in the country is a corporation. If the Supreme Court accepted this view, it would have to overturn decisions like New York Times v. Sullivan and the Pentagon Papers case.
II. The Impact on Other Constitutional Rights.
A second issue is that this logic applies not only to corporate free speech rights, but to all other constitutional rights exercised through the use of corporate resources. If people using state-created entities don’t have free speech rights, they don’t have any other constitutional rights either. After all, the supposed power to define the rights of state-created entities isn’t limited to free speech rights. Thus, government would not be bound by the Fourth Amendment in searching corporate property (including employee offices). It could take corporate property for private use without paying compensation because the Fifth Amendment would no longer apply. It could forbid religious services on corporate property (including that owned by churches, most of which are after all nonprofit corporations). If the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment doesn’t apply to corporate property, neither does the Free Exercise Clause. And so on.
III. Nearly Everyone and Everything is Probably a “State-Created Entity.”
Third, it’s important to consider what is meant by “state-created entity.” If the term refers only to institutions that literally would not exist absent state authorization, it does not accurately characterize many, perhaps most corporations. If the federal government passed a statute abolishing corporate status tomorrow, most actual corporations would still exist and still continue to engage in the same business or nonprofit activities. They just would do so under different and perhaps less efficient legal rules (maybe as LLCs, partnerships, or sole proprietorships). But they wouldn’t all just collapse or go away. There would still be a demand for most of the products produced by corporations.
If “state-created entity” doesn’t refer to the mere existence of organizations currently defined as corporations but to the particular bundle of legal rights currently attached to the corporate form, then it turns out that virtually all other organizations are state-created entities as well. Universities, schools, charities, churches, political parties, partnerships, sole proprietorships, and many other private organizations all have official definitions under state and federal law. And all have special government-created privileges and obligations that don’t apply to other types of organizations.
Even individual citizens might be considered “state-created” entities under this logic. After all, the status of “citizen” is a government-created legal entitlement that carries various rights and privileges, many of which the government could alter by legislation, just as it can with those of corporations (e.g. — the right to receive Social Security benefits, which the Supreme Court has ruled can be altered by legislation any time Congress wants). In that sense, “citizens” are no less “state-created” entities than corporations are.
So government could enact laws requiring citizens to limit their political speech in exactly the same ways in which corporate speech can be limited (or at least condition their continued status as citizens on obedience to the government’s censorship rules). It’s true, of course, that the physical person who has the legal status of “citizen” would still exist even if that status did not. But the physical property and other assets of the legal entities known as corporations would also continue to exist if corporate status were abolished. Indeed, as noted above, many of the entities themselves would also continue to exist under different legal forms. Perhaps you want to argue that native-born citizens aren’t “state-created” entities because the Constitution requires that they be granted citizenship at birth. If so, naturalized citizens are still “state-created” since Congress has the discretion to decide which if any foreigners will get citizenship rights.
By now, the main point should be clear. If you define “state-created entity” narrowly, then it won’t include most corporations. But if you define it broadly as any legally defined status that carries government-granted rights or privileges, then pretty much every important private organization is a state-created entity. Individual citizens may be “state-created entities” as well, and naturalized citizens certainly are. Going down this road would destroy constitutional rights for just about everyone. That may be why even the liberal justices most enthusiastic about campaign finance regulation have been unwilling to really bite this particular bullet. True, Justice Stevens’ dissent does note that “A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law. Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it.” Yet even Stevens stops short of stating that this by itself proves that corporations don’t have free speech rights. I doubt that Stevens and the other liberal justices are willing to really follow that logic. For example, they’re not going to overrule New York Times v. Sullivan or conclude that the government has the power to search corporate property unconstrained by the Fourth Amendment. Yet that is where the “creature of law” argument inexorably leads. The better approach is the common sense conclusion that people are entitled to full constitutional rights whenever they use their privately owned resources to exercise them, whether those resources are legally assigned to “state-created entities” or not.
UPDATE: I should clarify that in this post, as before, I’m not arguing that corporations themselves are “persons” with constitutional rights. Rather, I’m asserting that their owners and employees are such persons and that that status enables them to use corporations to exercise their constitutional rights. Similarly, partnerships, universities, schools, and sole proprietorships aren’t people either. But people can use them to exercise their constitutional rights, and the government can’t forbid it on the sole ground that they are using assets assets assigned to “state-created entities.” This distinction was unfortunately obscured in the current post by my shorthand references to “corporations’” rights. I only used that terminology because it’s cumbersome to always write something like “people exercising their constitutional rights through corporations.”
Categories: Freedom of Speech
We prohibit foreign campaign contributions. How do we keep foreigners from contributing via corporate proxies?
Current law prohibits foreign corporations and their subsidiaries from making US political contributions. That has not changed.
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly. It is also unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.
The following groups and individuals are considered "foreign nationals" and are, therefore, subject to the prohibition:
•Foreign political parties;
•Individuals with foreign citizenship; and
•Immigrants who do not have a "green card."
Individuals: The "Green Card" Exception
An immigrant may make a contribution if he or she has a "green card" indicating his or her lawful admittance for permanent residence in the United States.
Domestic Subsidiaries and Foreign-Owned Corporations
A U.S. subsidiary of a foreign corporation or a U.S. corporation that is owned by foreign nationals may be subject to the prohibition, as discussed below.
PAC Contributions for Federal Activity
A domestic subsidiary of a foreign corporation may not establish a federal political action committee (PAC) to make federal contributions if:
1.The foreign parent corporation finances the PAC's establishment, administration, or solicitation costs; or
2.Individual foreign nationals:
?Participate in the operation of the PAC;
?Serve as officers of the PAC;
?Participated in the selection of persons who operate the PAC; or
?Make decisions regarding PAC contributions or expenditure. 11 CFR 110.20(i).
(See also AOs 2000-17, 1995-15, 1990-8, 1989-29, and 1989-20.)
Corporate Contributions for Nonfederal Activity
Additionally, a domestic subsidiary of a foreign corporation (or a domestic corporation owned by foreign nationals) may not donate funds or anything of value in connection with state or local elections if:
1.These activities are financed by the foreign parent or owner; or
2.Individual foreign nationals are involved in any way in the making of donations to nonfederal candidates and committees.
I agree with Mr. Kesler who seems to argue that the rights can be consolidated within an entity without being diluted.
Equal protection under the law is what this is all about - collective entities within the United States should have equal rights; deny the rights as a group and you're denying the individuals.
Frankly, it seems appropriate that those corporations representing capitalism and the profit motive driving the market place should have equal standing with the altruists - unions, environmental groups, etc.
And a hearty welcome to you. Isn't free speech wonderful.
What concerns me most about the arguments I have been reading about this ruling is the appalling ignorance of basic high school civics in the general public, especially in this instance, on the left. They don't know the first amendment at all, and they certainly do not cherish it. We need a nation wide remedial course in basic physics.