Patterico's Pontifications

11/21/2011

Purveyor of Corporate Expression Calls for Limits on Corporate Expression (Update: Ashford Takes Me Out of Context)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:23 pm



[Guest post by Aaron Worthing.  Follow me by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: Btw, over at Seventh Sense, Ken Ashford is taking me out of context.  Given that I had already corrected a commenter here for taking me out of context in the exact same way, I can safely say that Ashford’s deception is deliberate.

From the first days after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United came down there has been a certain irony in many of the denunciations of that decision.  As you recall, that decision involved a film called Hillary: The Movie, a documentary that by all descriptions came off as a long infomercial against choosing the Secretary of State to be in any higher office greater than dog catcher.  Even though it was obviously political expression—indeed precisely because it was political expression—the FEC said that Citizens United could not air ads promoting its movie for pretty much the entire primary season.  Citizens United challenged this holding all the way to the Supreme Court which resulted in the Court striking down virtually all limits on corporate expression in an election.

So right from the beginning there was a certain irony among certain voices who denounced the decision, which I think I captured well in this old passage from my old blog (language warning at the link):

On January 23, the New York Times denounced the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. F.E.C., stating that “the court[] … has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials.” In a twist worthy of Monty Python and the Life of Brian, this editorial was unsigned, representing the voice of the New York Times Co., itself a corporation. It amounted to “this corporation says that no corporation has a right to free expression.”

Next I suppose the entire staff will gather together and chant, in unison, “we are all individuals.”

The irony is less rich, then, that we get version 10.0 of these critiques from Scott Turow.  He has indeed not only profited from corporate expression, being the author of books ranging from One-L, a nonfiction book detailing life at Harvard Law School in the 1970’s (think The Paper Chase without the silly romance and much more about the nuts and bolts of law school), to his breakout hit Presumed Innocent.  Each of these books, including his latest, have been published by—gasp!—corporations or similar structures, and yet he sees corporate expression as an anathema to the republic that should be rallying cry of the Occupy movement:

Now that the Occupy Wall Street protesters have been driven from many of their encampments, I have an unusual suggestion for how they should next deploy their considerable energies: work across the nation for a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to regulate the expenditure of private money on elections.

Let me connect the dots. The heart of the protests is a lament about widening income inequality in the U.S., brought about, in part, by a government that seems to favor disproportionately wealthy interests. The Occupiers have focused their outrage on the bailout of banks that reaped huge profits on mortgage-backed securities and are now profitable again, while millions of homeowners have been foreclosed upon or lost their jobs.

The best antidote to this imbalance of income and influence would be to greatly reduce the role of private funding in our elections. Nothing is more empowering to the well-heeled — corporations, unions, lobbyists, political-action committees, trade associations and bundlers — than our political leaders’ need to come to them hat in hand for the money to get elected.

He goes on:

Although the event has largely faded from memory, in 1974, in the wake of the national shame over Watergate, Congress established meaningful limits not only on campaign donations but also on the expenditure of private funds in an election.

And what exactly did Watergate have to do with campaign donations?  Oh, right, nothing.  So nice non sequitur, there.

While equating spending money with speech might strike many as implausible at first blush, the argument prevailed in Buckley v. Valeo[.]

First, notice he is playing hide the ball on the issue, pretending this is about spending, trying to make you forget that it is about spending money on speech; according to the FEC, Citizens United could spend all the money it wanted, just not on advertisements.  You tell me is that a limit on spending or on speech.

But I find it interesting that while he says many would find it an implausible argument, he doesn’t quite say that he believes it is implausible.  And that might be because he knows all too well how expression generally often requires money.  Suppose we passed a law making it illegal to buy ink, paper, and printing presses, and to pay the salaries of those who manufacture, transport and sell books.  All of that could be spun as simply a limitation on “expenditures” but I think Mr. Turow would agree that such a law would violate his right to freedom of press, particularly if he was being told he could not expend money to create books aimed at influencing an election.  And that was precisely what was at stake in Citizens United; from the opinion:

the following acts would all be felonies under § 441b: The Sierra Club runs an ad, within the crucial phase of 60 days before the general election, that exhorts the public to disapprove of a Congressman who favors logging in national forests; the National Rifle Association publishes a book urging the public to vote for the challenger because the incumbent U.S. Senator supports a handgun ban; and the American Civil Liberties Union creates a Web site telling the public to vote for a Presidential candidate in light of that candidate’s defense of free speech. These prohibitions are classic examples of censorship.

These are also classic examples of expression that costs money, which is often performed by corporations.  But as is typical with liberals assailing that decision they want to stay far away from the facts or what the law the decision confronted actually said, lest someone notice that it was in fact a terrifying infringement on freedom of expression.

Turow continues:

Yet the Supreme Court has made no effort to address the inherent conflict of its approach to the First Amendment with other constitutional principles. The bedrock of our democracy is embodied in the most famous line of the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal.” Our belief in the equal dignity and value of every human being has led to the fundamental precept of one person, one vote — a tangible recognition that each citizen deserves an equal say in who governs her or him.

By treating money as an analog for speech, the court’s post-Buckley jurisprudence has figuratively allowed the rich to speak through microphones while the poor can barely whisper, and tolerates a situation in which the voices of contributors are amplified to the point that they drown out the opinions of mere voters. I have never understood how permitting the wealthy so much greater influence over the political process can be squared with the vision of equality on which the country was founded.

Well, first Mr. Turow, America was not founded on equality of outcome but equality of opportunity.  We are born equal—that is, with equal rights—but as life goes on our differing talents result in differing money and influence.  Equality of outcome, basically, is socialism.  And the founders clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process.  After all, as I just pointed out, exercising freedom of the press costs money, and very often that freedom has been exercised by corporations, such as the publishers of the New York Times and your books.

Now most of the time these advocates of censorship will still allow an exemption for the institutional press—the local newspaper, the nightly news, the news website… maybe even a blog if they are feeling generous.  But as the Supreme Court pointed out, the danger of corporate influence is still there if you restrict freedom of speech to the institutional press—you are just favoring certain corporations over others.  For instance, last I checked GE owned NBC and MSNBC (unless the Comcast deal went through), so under this “institutional press only” interpretation of the First Amendment, GE would be able to speak freely on any major political issue, while competitors that don’t own a media company, such as LG, are silenced.

Indeed one particular danger is highlighted by looking at the company publishing these very words by Mr. Turow: Bloomberg News.  As in, Michael Bloomberg, who last I heard was still majority owner of the company.  Now whatever you think of this news service now, there is certainly a danger that the next time Bloomberg seeks re-election—or even higher office—that his news service will become a mouthpiece for his campaign, while under the typical “institutional press only” rule for corporate speech, rival voices will not be able to speak as loudly.  If you want inequality, Mr. Turow, you have to look no further than the masthead on your own article.

And yet even wild-eyed liberals would admit there is no alternative.  You can’t stop GE from owning a media company.  You can’t stop the NRA from starting its own radio and TV network.  You can’t stop Michael Bloomberg from owning a media empire and running for elective office.  They just think it is acceptable to silence everyone who might oppose them if they are not a “media company.”

As for the Occupy Wall Street movement, it has been criticized by some for not having a realistic agenda, even though polling shows that millions of Americans, including me, are sympathetic to the basic message of the protests, if not the violent engagements with police that have occurred in Oakland, California, and elsewhere.

So you are not pleased with the engagements with the cops.  Good for you, but what about the rape?  What about the defecating in the streets?  Care to share an opinion on that?

Of course if I was a conspiratorially-minded thinker, I would wonder if denouncing the rampant rape, drug use and generally unsanitary conditions might be suppressed by Bloomberg News, lest it embarrass Mayor Bloomberg who tolerated all of that nonsense for too long.  Of course, I am sure that didn’t happen, but does anyone see that sort of thing as a legitimate danger—increased when you suppress other corporations that might counter that speech?

So here is my suggestion for how the Occupiers can rally around a single goal and reinvigorate their movement. The Constitution can be amended by a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states. The demonstrators should head for the public spaces in Washington where protests have long been tolerated and demand that Congress amend the Constitution to change our campaign- finance system.

Which means that he is officially as stupid as Barbara Streisand.  As I said when fisking her a while back (language warning, again, at the link):

Now [Streisand] 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 [Streisand] 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?

And of course you have to love the proposed text Turow has written for this amendment:

The Congress and the States shall regulate the direct and indirect expenditure of private funds on the electoral process in order to ensure that no group, entity or individual exercises unequal influence on an election by those means.

Which, wow, would mean that we would have to say that Michael Bloomberg cannot own Bloomberg news; I mean even if he is just a private citizen, as majority shareholder he would have an unequal influence on an election, right?  So kiss your media empire goodbye, Mr. Bloomberg.  And we would have to suppress Michael Moore, because like his pants, his political influence is XXX-large.*  The bands Midnight Oil and U2 would not be allowed to make albums anymore unless they are strictly non-political.  After all, Peter Garrett parlayed his careers in music and environmental law to be briefly Minister for the Environment, the Heritage and the Arts in Australia and had millions of American kids singing a call for reparations (“if it belongs to them, we gotta give it back…”).  Disney would not be allowed to put out a movie like Fahrenheit 9-11.  Indeed, all newspapers would have to be disbanded because they of course exercise an outsized influence on elections and so on—hell, they even endorse candidates and some people care what they say.  All entertainment would have to be carefully scrutinized to make sure there is no political element to it.  So comedies wouldn’t be allowed to make cheap jokes at the expense of Sarah Palin and indeed the movie The Dark Knight would have to be banned as a possible endorsement of George W. Bush’s terror techniques (another language warning).  Indeed, it is worth remembering that under the rule struck down by the Supreme Court in Citizens United, television stations in California were not allowed to air movies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger prior to the recall election even though not a single word in those movies could be fairly seen as an endorsement of his candidacy (although Demolition Man did predict that he would be president).

I mean that is the direct implication of his words, so either Turow wants to do something that profoundly un-American…  or he hasn’t thought through the implications of his own words.

Yeah, I am going with the second option on that, which given his background is kind of disappointing.  But whatever his intended implications are it certainly illustrates the extreme danger in attempting to enact anything like the constitutional amendment he would prefer.

The irony is that James Madison almost precisely anticipated this problem when discussing the continual baneful influence of faction on politics, writing:

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

And Madison’s diagnosis of the causes of faction bear on Turow’s complaint:

As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.

Madison went on to argue that it was the separation of powers—including the separation between federal and state powers, typically referred to as federalism—that guarded against this malign influence.  But in Madison’s mind calls for class warfare—such as Turow’s—were considered as dangerous as any other form of factionalism—and he hoped the system he crafted would control it.  Only time will tell whether he was ultimately successful.

———————————–

*Sorry to resort to cheap fat jokes, but nothing is more hilariously hypocritical than a fat socialist.  I have made this joke before in other places, but if Michael Moore really cared about the poor so much, you’d think he would take half a helping at dinner and give it to a homeless man.  He wants redistribution of the wealth?  Try redistribution of his dinner plate.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

44 Responses to “Purveyor of Corporate Expression Calls for Limits on Corporate Expression (Update: Ashford Takes Me Out of Context)”

  1. Watergate, a reminder….

    AW, one of the gems unearthed in the “Watergate” scandal was the safe full of cash in the office of Maurice Stans at CREEP; cash that had been contributed by multiples of ?, for use as a slush fund to deal with some of the more pesky aspects of political campaigns of the time.

    AD-RtR/OS! (db1e05)

  2. The ultraleft wealthy needs to pay their fair share in taxes.

    They are hypocrites jus tlike the NYT in this case.

    And yes Omoron you decided to extend the bush tax cuts for the rich.

    DohBiden (ef98f0)

  3. just like*

    DohBiden (ef98f0)

  4. And Sam Giancana had Judith Exner deliver satchels of Cash to the Kennedy campaign, come on Scott did
    you miss 2008?

    narciso (ef1619)

  5. Obama-If you veto my automatic spending cuts if you even so much as tell me not to touch Medicare and Medicaid I will veto your ass.

    DohBiden (ef98f0)

  6. Scott Turow, not Turrow.

    Also, the Comcast deal did go through, but GE still owns 49% of NBC/CNBC/MSNBC.

    Joshua (9ede0e)

  7. It’s Turow.

    The real source of their complaint is that liberals don’t win every election. Since there can be no logical reason for that to happen, it must be due to something nefarious… such as evil corporations having ‘bought’ the election. And if not that, then it’s due to a stupid electorate, pandering on the part of the non-liberal candidate, etc., etc. So… in their mind, the solution to the problem of liberals not winning is to eliminate whatever it is that, in their mind, keeps liberals from winning all the time.

    That is why they don’t have a problem with the NYT being a corporation… because the NYT is a good corporation (and thus could never exert ‘undue’ influence). Only the evil ones need to be quieted. For our own good, of course.

    And by the way, it is ridiculous to say that Turow can’t complain about corporations because he profited by selling his book rights to one.

    steve (254463)

  8. And by the way, it is ridiculous to say that Turow can’t complain about corporations because he profited by selling his book rights to one.

    AW was not saying he cannot complain.

    JD (62da1e)

  9. Joshua

    sorry about turow/turrow. my bad.

    and ultimately whether GE still controls msnbc or not (it sounds like it does) is besides the point. the point is that certain corporatations would recieve protection as “institutional press” and certain ones would not.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  10. Steve

    > And by the way, it is ridiculous to say that Turow can’t complain about corporations because he profited by selling his book rights to one.

    He is free to do so. But I would suggest that therefore he has not really thought what he was saying through.

    I mean consider the very fact that he was given a chance to pen this op ed. Do you think he was given this opportunity in part because he is scott turow? So, guess what, he is enjoying an unequal voice.

    At the very least there is a certain lack of self-awareness involved in his whole piece.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  11. Love people putting words in others mouths.

    DohBiden (ef98f0)

  12. I don’t have time to read every word of this at the moment. But just skimming it, I must once again say, Mr. Worthing, you are expressing my thoughts when fed into an auto-articulator.

    I let out a jaw-dropping gasp when I read his proposed text for this amendment:

    The Congress and the States shall regulate the direct and indirect expenditure of private funds on the electoral process in order to ensure that no group, entity or individual exercises unequal influence on an election by those means.

    That is nothing less than a recipe for dictatorship, and I mean that in the literal sense. No reigning political party will ever be able to resist using such regulatory power to suppress the speech of the minority. I can hardly believe a person with a law degree would dare suggest such an absurd, witless, and dangerous thing out loud.

    L.N. Smithee (d7ed67)

  13. Turow is not the only one suffering from lack of self awareness

    http://theothermccain.com/2011/11/21/weve-all-gone-crazy/

    narciso (ef1619)

  14. At the very least there is a certain lack of self-awareness involved in his whole piece.

    Comment by Aaron Worthing — 11/21/2011 @ 5:09 pm

    There is lack of self-awareness throughout the entire mainstream media. They want everyone to accept that the news is organic, and that it selects itself — that they don’t choose what is news and what is not news. No honest person who scrutinized the MSM on the whole before 2008 and after could say there wasn’t a pro-Obama bias, but you couldn’t get anybody to admit that — in fact, they would often volunteer that they came close to rooting for him outright as a way of defending themselves against charges that they already were!

    L.N. Smithee (d7ed67)

  15. I’ve corresponded with Scott Turow by email on a couple of “small world” occasions, and both times I found him to be quite charming and accessible.

    Besides his popular writing, he’s a very accomplished trial lawyer — a word he and I both use to describe lawyers who actually go to trial, not as a synonym for “plaintiffs’ personal injury contingent-fee specialist.” He was a very successful corruption prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office, and for the last several years he’s been a senior partner in the home office of Chicago-based mega-firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, which was recently re-branded as “SNR Denton” after an international merger. Mr. Turow’s page on their website stresses his pro bono work, but it’s an old-line, rock-ribbed firm that mostly represents Fortune 1000-type clients.

    I think Scott Turow’s a swell writer and a credit to the legal profession — but yeah, he’s also a wild-eyed leftie. It’s sad but undeniable that our profession includes a whole lot of those, Aaron. My law school and law review colleague Bill White, for example, is one of the most brilliant, decent, and personable people I’ve ever known, and I was proud to vote for him for mayor of Houston three times even though he’s a committed Democrat and a Clintonista-style Leftie. When he ran for governor of Texas against Perry in 2010, however, I voted against my good and respected friend precisely for those reasons. By the same token, I’d gladly refer a client to Scott Turow (and in fact have done so); but I wouldn’t likely vote for him for any political office.

    Beldar (c3ab0d)

  16. Most labor unions are organized as corporations, associations or trusts under section 501(c)5 of the Internal Revenue Code, but of course they are the correct kind of corporations, associations or trusts as pointed out by earlier commenters and for some reason many liberals feel there is no need to suppress their political speech.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  17. work across the nation for a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to regulate the expenditure of private money on elections.

    — Tis the season of increased regulation. To say that Turow has not thought this through is a supreme understatement. Vague implications that the acceptance of big money contributions automatically equals corruption (never let it be said that liberals don’t believe in original sin). One might also wonder what possible good would come from a constitutional amendment that reads: “Congress shall have the power to regulate the expenditure of private money on elections.”

    Icy (4105dd)

  18. I mean that is the direct implication of his words, so either Turow wants to do something that profoundly un-American… or he hasn’t thought through the implications of his own words.

    Socialists never think past the immediate.

    Brian Epps (a0718a)

  19. Beldar

    Reading that, i was reminded of how Bob Dole would always says, “X is a really good friend of mine two seconds before he slipped the knife in.”

    Turow is an excellent writer. I read One L as an undergrad and presumed innocent years before that. And I had heard good things about him as a lawyer that lines up with what you said. i don’t think he is a dumb man, but i think his thinking on this is either very shallow or very scary.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  20. The Congress and the States shall regulate the direct and indirect expenditure of private funds(period)

    I think the rest is just window dressing.

    beer 'n pretzels (2f4b27)

  21. and ultimately whether GE still controls msnbc or not (it sounds like it does) is besides the point. the point is that certain corporatations would recieve protection as “institutional press” and certain ones would not.

    Comment by Aaron Worthing — 11/21/2011 @ 5:07 pm

    In many instances, it’s as though these corporations have more protections than a mere lone citizen journalist with a wordpress account.

    How about we just not regulate expression but for specific reasons (such as obscenity or fraud) and certainly never regulate any for of political expression no matter how badly the nannies in Illinois, California, Massachusetts or DC want.

    Dustin (cb3719)

  22. Dustin, it is impossible to resist; you must comply!

    AD-RtR/OS! (db1e05)

  23. or he hasn’t thought through the implications of his own words.

    There’s a pithy saying, can’t remember the exact wording, to the effect that aspiring dictators don’t hide what they’re about. They tell everybody in excruciating detail what they’ve got planned, and count on people not believing it.

    Hasn’t thought it through? Yeah, right. He just figures that people who tend to agree with him will end up with the reins of power. So everything will be alright.

    There’s a growing movement on the left to reject democracy, reject freedom, on the basis that the blasted people don’t do what the left thinks they should, if given any choice in the matter. They’ve created this field of “Agnotology” to rationalize how freedom of speech is worthless because it doesn’t lead to the truth winning out.

    No, barring substantial evidence, I’d assume he knows such an amendment would lead to dictatorship, and just plans on being in with the dictators.

    Brett Bellmore (6652c2)

  24. Turow is the chronicler of famously corrupt Kindle
    Cty, where virtually everyone and everything is for
    sale;

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/

    narciso (ef1619)

  25. Imagine if they only relied on the MSM, we would even have less of a clue

    http://weaselzippers.us/2011/11/21/left-now-has-undeniable-proof-fox-news-is-for-dumb-people-18-of-612-new-jerseyans/

    narciso (ef1619)

  26. And the founders clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process.

    This is demonstrably untrue.

    First, let’s state the obvious. In the Constitution, it says “We the people…”, not “We the corporations…”. The founding fathers never addressed corporations in the Constitution. And why not? Because it never occurred to them that corporations would be perceived as people. And why would they have? Corporations don’t eat, they don’t breathe, they don’t vote, they don’t fight battles in wars. If the founders wanted corporations to have an outsized say in the political process, then why didn’t they just come out and SAY so?

    In fact, the founders were wary of any institution (government or corporations) having unchecked power over individual rights. Like many in the Occupy Wall Street movement of today, the founders were concerned about collusion between government and business.

    The most notable example? The Boston Tea Party. That historical protest emanated from the laws passed by the Parliament designed to aid and prop up one specific corporation, the East India Tea Company. (Basically, it cut taxes on tea in England, so that people would drink it more, and made up for the lost revenue by taxing the American colonists).

    The very idea that the founders were corporatists is just laughable.

    Even after the Revolution, our founders sought to limit the influence and power of corporations. Corporations were only permitted to exist 20 or 30 years. They could only deal in one commodity. They could not hold stock in other companies. Their property holdings were limited to what they needed to accomplish their business goals.

    And most importantly, corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making. In fact, it was a criminal offense in most states.

    This went on for over 100 years. Corporation didn’t get “personhood” status until 1886, with Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, and even then, the “personhood” status came about as a clerical error. (The court did not make a ruling on the question of “corporate personhood,” but thanks to misleading notes of a clerk, the decision subsequently was used as precedent to hold that a corporation was a “natural person.”)

    Need more proof? Here’s what some founding fathers said of the major corporations of the time, i.e., the banks:

    “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1802

    “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1816

    “Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good.” – John Adams

    Mistrust of corporations continued right up the Industrial Revolution. Even Lincoln famously said:

    “The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.”

    You can’t change facts.

    Kman (5576bf)

  27. Kman

    as usual your analysis is so incomplete as to be deceptive. Yes, they didn’t want banks controlling the currency, but where did they say that corporations shall not enjoy the right to express themselves.

    And this statement is out and out false:

    > And most importantly, corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making. In fact, it was a criminal offense in most states.

    In fact corporations have always influenced law making, most obviously in the case of corporations that publish newspapers, but it is true of all of them. You truly don’t know what you are talking about.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  28. Exactly only Kman can change facts.

    DohBiden (ef98f0)

  29. Yes, they didn’t want banks controlling the currency, but where did they say that corporations shall not enjoy the right to express themselves.

    Move the goalposts much? You asserted that the founders “clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process.” Basically, you were saying that our founding fathers were corporate oligarchists, a bold (if not chilling) accusation.

    This simply isn’t true for reasons stated, particularly the fact that most corporations were not allowed to contribute to the law-making process.

    Kman (5576bf)

  30. Do not dispute the kmart,
    it knows stuff!

    AD-RtR/OS! (031141)

  31. Kman

    > Move the goalposts much? You asserted that the founders “clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process.”

    Why don’t you cite the entire quote?

    > And the founders clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process. After all, as I just pointed out, exercising freedom of the press costs money, and very often that freedom has been exercised by corporations, such as the publishers of the New York Times and your books.

    So contrary to your suggestion that i said that corporations would rule (as is the case in “corporate oligarchy”) i simply said they would be allowed to express themselves freely in a medium driven by money (the press), and that they would enjoy an oversized voice in that medium as a result of their wealth.

    So basically you are telling me now you dun killed a straw man. Well, i suppose a congratulations is appropriate. And that is all assuming this is an honest misinterpretation.

    Also the more i think about this, the more this sounds like crap:

    > And most importantly, corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making. In fact, it was a criminal offense in most states.

    Besides the silly claim that they could not influence law making (no lobbyists, for instance, or political endorsements by newspapers owned by corporations), but you claim that there were contribution bans. But that doesn’t line up with what i know. For instance the federal law banning direct contributions to campaigns was not passed until 1907 (to keep republicans and black people down) and to this day many states still allow direct corporate contributions to election campaigns. For instance, Barrack Obama received direct corporate contributions as a state politician. I have never heard of those rules on state elections, and since you have no credibility, you have to prove it.

    [edited after the fact for clarity. –Aaron]

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  32. You asserted that the founders “clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process.”

    Why don’t you cite the entire quote?

    And the founders clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process.”

    Better?

    So contrary to your suggestion that i said that corporations would rule (as is the case in “corporate oligarchy”) i simply said they would be allowed to express themselves freely in a medium driven by money (the press), and that they would enjoy an oversized voice in that medium as a result of their wealth.

    But that simply wasn’t the case. “The press” refers to the means of communication, not the corporate entities at the time that was in the business of communicating. Particularly during the Revolutionary War period, “the press” was the medium through which the people spoke. The founders weren’t trying to protect The East India Tea Company from government intrusion; they were trying to protect Thomas Paine and his ilk.

    Very few corporations had use for “the press” (except for commercial advertisements). Business didn’t view the press as a political tool back then, or use it as one. So it remains silly to conjecture that the founders had corporations in mind when they protected “the press”.

    Besides the silly claim that they could not influence law making (no lobbyists, for instance, or political endorsements by newspapers owned by corporations), but you claim that there were contribution bans. But that doesn’t line up with what i know.

    You don’t know very much then.

    These weren’t elections laws; these were laws for corporations which (in the 1700’s and 1800’s) had to be chartered by state legislatures. And in doing so, the states imposed all kinds of rules. You might want to buy this book, or just use Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature (page 95-96 I heartily recommend).

    Kman (5576bf)

  33. Kman

    Let’s take this out of order:

    > These weren’t elections laws; these were laws for corporations which (in the 1700′s and 1800′s) had to be chartered by state legislatures. And in doing so, the states imposed all kinds of rules. You might want to buy this book, or just use Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature (page 95-96 I heartily recommend).

    Except your source doesn’t even say what you claimed it says. It didn’t say this was the case in all states, just “most”

    You also said this was how it was in the beginning, but given that he was only talking about Wisconsin, we are talking about after 1848 when it gained statehood.

    And given his funhouse mirror description of Citizens United itself, I give it no credit. It is stunning that this man thinks that it was okay to suppress Citizens United and to engage in silly partisan rumor mongering about their motives in making “Hillary: The Movie.” (see page 1 and 2 of your wonderful book). Is it really your position that a company that seems to do nothing but political documentaries should be stopped from doing political documentaries?

    The book is a wild-eyed hatchet job. And its his God-given right to write such a thing.

    By the way, for extra hilarity, this book is itself an example of corporate speech. http://www.bkconnection.com/news.asp?id=%7B6D8BB07F-886D-439F-8141-3153BECA74F2%7D

    Most books are, after all.

    > Better?

    Nope, still out of context and I already corrected you.

    > But that simply wasn’t the case. “The press” refers to the means of communication, not the corporate entities at the time that was in the business of communicating.

    Agreed, although it is funny that this puts you at odds with Stevens dissent in Citizens United. But the fact is that publishing is a medium that requires money—to purchase materials and labor. And while it can be done by unincorporated individuals, it is also frequently done by corporations itself. You know, like Mr. Hartmann’s publisher. And it has been that way since the beginning. So the founders guaranteed a constitutional right that 1) required money to work, and 2) was often accomplished by corporations, even in 1776.

    > Particularly during the Revolutionary War period, “the press” was the medium through which the people spoke.

    Really now? all of the people owned printing presses? No, a few individuals and corporations did, and they spent their money in order to put out their message. If they represented the people it was a case of giving the customer what they want or persuading people to your point of view.

    And this is an odd case of you arguing that because the founders used powdered wigs we have to, too. Even if we pretend your non-factual understanding of history is correct, that somehow the founders only thought of individuals in writing those words, they didn’t write a word in the first amendment excluding corporations. I mean by your logic since they were thinking of patriots like Thomas Paine, I guess unpatriotic people have no right to speak too, right?

    Surely the founders did consider Thomas Paine a prime example of the good done by freedom of the press. That certainly counsels against any interpretation of the term that would exclude him (like Stevens dissent), but that doesn’t mean that freedom of the press was limited exclusively to him or people sufficiently like him.

    > So it remains silly to conjecture that the founders had corporations in mind when they protected “the press”.

    Really? Not even the New York Times Company? Or the Washington Post?

    Do you think anything you write through? Or are you just a fascist?

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  34. Except your source doesn’t even say what you claimed it says. It didn’t say this was the case in all states, just “most”

    Which is what I said… “most”. See my original comment.

    You also said this was how it was in the beginning, but given that he was only talking about Wisconsin, we are talking about after 1848 when it gained statehood.

    So you’re suggesting that most states started off giving broad sweeping limitless powers to corporations, then tailored back by 1848, then expanded them again in the late 19th century?

    Google is your friend. That’s not my only source. Do your own research.

    By the way, for extra hilarity, this book is itself an example of corporate speech.

    Actually, the hilarity comes from thinking that when a book publisher publishes a book, the book publisher (rather than the author) is the one doing “speaking”.

    You really don’t know the difference, do you?

    Surely the founders did consider Thomas Paine a prime example of the good done by freedom of the press. That certainly counsels against any interpretation of the term that would exclude him (like Stevens dissent), but that doesn’t mean that freedom of the press was limited exclusively to him or people sufficiently like him.

    I didn’t say that it was limited exclusively to people like Paine. I’m refuting YOUR assertion that freedom of the press was PRIMARILY for the benefit of corporations at the time of the nation’s founding. Most of “the press” were small local operations with little to no clout. The big monied media conglomerates of today simply didn’t exist then, so they weren’t on the framers’ mind to give huge political power to corporations.

    > So it remains silly to conjecture that the founders had corporations in mind when they protected “the press”.

    Really? Not even the New York Times Company? Or the Washington Post?

    No, not even them… seeing as they weren’t founded for another 70-90 years after the Constitution.

    Kman (5576bf)

  35. Kman is a dumbarse. How come Obama is criticizing Mubaraaks ousters all of a sudden?

    DohBiden (ef98f0)

  36. Kman

    > [Me] Except your source doesn’t even say what you claimed it says. It didn’t say this was the case in all states, just “most”

    > [you]Which is what I said… “most”. See my original comment.

    Liar:

    > And most importantly, corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making. In fact, it was a criminal offense in most states.

    You actually said the contributions were illegal in all states, and also criminal in “most.”

    > So you’re suggesting

    No, I am stating that your evidence doesn’t support your claims.

    > Actually, the hilarity comes from thinking that when a book publisher publishes a book, the book publisher (rather than the author) is the one doing “speaking”.

    Oh, but when a person makes a film, that is a corporation speaking, right?

    > I didn’t say that it was limited exclusively to people like Paine.

    Then you don’t know what your own words implied when you wrote crap like this:

    > So it remains silly to conjecture that the founders had corporations in mind when they protected “the press”.

    Do you not understand that this is the direct implication of your words?

    > I’m refuting YOUR assertion that freedom of the press was PRIMARILY for the benefit of corporations at the time of the nation’s founding.

    And with what words did I say that?

    > Most of “the press” were small local operations with little to no clout.

    You literally have no idea about how the press was used in those times. None at all.

    > No, not even them… seeing as they weren’t founded for another 70-90 years after the Constitution.

    Well, first “doh” on me for leaving out the word “like” from that sentence, meaning “like” those papers.

    But you know what I am saying. You have implied that no corporations are entitled to protection under the first amendment. That is a frightening implication.

    But i notice that the first amendment protects the act and not the actor, and i consider that incredibly significant in this debate.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  37. Ooh, ooh, Mistah Wooorthingk, I vote: Fascist!

    Arnold Horshak (031141)

  38. The two leading contenders for the oldest newspaper in the United States (Canada, technically part of “America” has an older one) are: (1) The New Hampshire Gazette, which was first published in1756; and, (2) the Hartford Courant (originally the Connecticut Courant), which began publication in 1764. See the wikipedia entries for both newspapers for complete details of their respective histories, but the jist of it is that the Gazette is older, but changed name and format at one point. The Courant on the other hand has been continuously published under the “Courant” name since its inception.

    UPDATE: The Virginia Gazette, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, is the nation’s oldest newspaper. Its first edition was published in 1736 and is still in publication. To read more about its history, visit http://www.vagazette.com/our_newspaper/about_us/

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  39. John Marshall also had a few things to say about corporations in the Dartmouth College case in 1819, well before the case from whichThom Hartmann derives his corporate peronhood theory:

    “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, either expressly or as incidental to its very existence. These are such as are supposed best calculated to effect the object for which it was created. Among the most important are immortality, and, if the expression may be allowed, individuality; properties by which a perpetual succession of many persons are considered as the same, and may act as a single individual. They enable a corporation to manage its own affairs and to hold property without the perplexing intricacies, the hazardous and endless necessity of perpetual conveyances for the purpose of transmitting it from hand to hand. It is chiefly for the purpose of clothing bodies of men, in succession, with these qualities and capacities that corporations were invented and are in use.

    By these means, a perpetual succession of individuals are capable of acting for the promotion of the particular object, like one immortal being. But this being does not share in the civil government of the country, unless that be the purpose for which it was created. Its immortality no more confers on it political power, or a political character, than immortality would confer such power or character on a natural person. It is no more a state instrument than a natural person exercising the same powers would be.

    If, then, a natural person, employed by individuals in the education of youth, or for the government of a seminary in which youth is educated, would not become a public officer, or be considered as a member of the civil government, how is it that this artificial being, created by law for the purpose of being employed by the same individuals for the same purposes, should become a part of the civil government of the country? Is it because its existence, its capacities, its powers are given by law? Because the government has given it the power to take and to hold property in a particular form, and for particular purposes, has the government a consequent right substantially to change that form or to vary the purposes to which the property is to be applied? This principle has never been asserted or recognized and is supported by no authority. Can it derive aid from reason?”

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  40. Cute to see ashford ankle biting, as usual (see the update).

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  41. AW> And what exactly did Watergate have to do with campaign donations? Oh, right, nothing. So nice non sequitur, there

    It’s not a non-sequitor. It really was the excuse for the law (which actually enshrined corruption or near corruption, by severely limiting the size of individual campaign contributions, but allowing and even promoting PACS. )

    Now an individual may have 100 reasons for giving money to a candidate, but an issue-oriented Political Action Committee. most logically has only one. So which is worse? And an individual might be replaced by 10,000 other individuals, but there are only a limited number of Pacs.

    Now if you remember The complaints about Nixon
    started with IT&T. That was about March 1972.

    Now Congress had passed a law stating that individual contributions (I think there was as yet, no Dollar limit) would have to be reported and made public – but the law only went into effect on April 7, 1972.

    So Committee to RE-Elect the President finance chairman and former Commerce Secretary Maurice Stans came up with a fundraising idea: he’d tell everybody they should contribute before April 7 so their names wouldn’t have to be made public.

    That drew a lot of criticism at the time.

    The only connection with Watergate was unreported contributions were used to finance the Watergate burglary. severely limiting the size of checks from publicly reported donors might not a very logical response to that, but a whole range of things were getting criticized.

    Sammy Finkelman (2d0c86)

  42. Next I suppose the entire staff will gather together and chant, in unison, “we are all individuals.”

    No, “we are a newspaper, commenting on public events as part of our normal course of business, unlike those corporations not in the newspaper business who decide to comment on just one thing.
    If we couldn’t do that, newspapers would be put out of business, and that would violate the First Amendment..”

    Sammy Finkelman (2d0c86)

  43. Michael Bloomberg, who last I heard was still majority owner of the company. Now whatever you think of this news service now, there is certainly a danger that the next time Bloomberg seeks re-election—or even higher office—that his news service will become a mouthpiece for his campaign

    Not really. He never did that. For one thing there is the issue of conflict of interest if he was elected, so he withdrew from day to day management of his company. Secondly, there are minority stockholders.

    He is not William Randolph Hearst or even Silvio Berlusconi in Italy.

    The inquality here is that only someone like Ross Perot or Michael Bloomberg can just parachute into a campaign (and get taken seriously) and they have to run themselves: Nobody can donate $100 million to somebody else’s Presidential race

    There is a loophole, so far nobody has taken advantage of.(Because votes for President and Vice President are cast together, someone could name a super-rich person like Bill Gates as his vice-president, and be able to use all his money)

    Sammy Finkelman (2d0c86)

  44. And the founders clearly always contemplated corporations and similar business organizations having an outsized say in the political process.

    Technically not true, as corporations had to be specially chartered by an act of a legislature.

    A Wikipedia article which I would like it if it had more detail, states like this:

    In the United States, government chartering began to fall out of vogue in the mid-19th century. Corporate law at the time was focused on protection of the public interest, and not on the interests of corporate shareholders. Corporate charters were closely regulated by the states. Forming a corporation usually required an act of legislature. Investors generally had to be given an equal say in corporate governance, and corporations were required to comply with the purposes expressed in their charters. Many private firms in the 19th century avoided the corporate model for these reasons (Andrew Carnegie formed his steel operation as a limited partnership, and John D. Rockefeller set up Standard Oil as a trust). Eventually, state governments began to realize the greater corporate registration revenues available by providing more permissive corporate laws. New Jersey was the first state to adopt an “enabling” corporate law, with the goal of attracting more business to the state.[12] Delaware followed, and soon became known as the most corporation-friendly state in the country after New Jersey raised taxes on the corporations, driving them out. New Jersey reduced these taxes after this mistake was realized, but by then it was too late; even today, most major public corporations in the United States are set up under Delaware law.

    Sammy Finkelman (2d0c86)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.4273 secs.