It certainly was a very wearisome week. Seems bad news travels in threesomes, or so the old proverb tells us. The avalanche began on Tuesday the 19th when Martha Coakley, a Democrat, lost to Scott Brown, a Republican, in the most liberal state in the country to fill the vacant Senate seat because of the death of Ted Kennedy. Next, on Thursday, the 21st, we were treated with the Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v the FEC, which essentially gives corporations the same rights as human beings under the first amendment. Next, later on in the day of the 21st, we learned of the death of Air America Radio. A bummer of a week, but let’s take a closer look at each of these incidents in turn.
The Massachusetts senate race really wasn’t much of a surprise given the mood of the country, but the punditocracy is offering every explanation under the sun, except the most simple, most obvious reason Coakley lost to an unknown state level politician. Let’s simplify, which usually leads us closer to the truth. Coakley was unmistakably a lousy candidate. She was lousy because she took the voters for granted by believing she didn’t have to campaign, (she was the anointed one) and she aligned herself with the DLC corporate faction of the party by meeting with health insurance company executives one week before the election. Then, if the first two reasons weren’t bad enough, she publically announced that Curt Schilling was a Yankees fan! What the hell……… The mood of the polity is very sour right now, for many reasons, and running a lifeless campaign spelled certain death. Think about this; how would anyone like to be the one candidate, in a state where the entire congressional delegation to Washington is Democratic, to lose to an unknown republican to fill the senate seat of the most beloved liberal in the country? But we can’t dismiss Obama’s role in this debacle. The progressive base that turned out in droves to push him over the top in the Nov, ’08 election feel betrayed. No doubt Coakley fell victim to this fallout. Make no mistake; this election was a setback for the national democratic progressive base. But enough for now.
Next, on Thursday the 21st, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its most absurd decision since the Dred Scott case of 1857, which ruled that slaves were not protected by the constitution. And, it should be noted, is believed by many historians to be the foundation that led directly to the Civil War. I’m referring, of course, to the case of Citizens United v the FEC. I downloaded and read as much of this case as I could stomach, besides, I can’t imagine anyone reading the entire 183 pages. Without regurgitating worthless legal mumbo gumbo, in a nutshell this case removes spending limits by corporations during election campaigns. That’s bad, but it gets worse. Essentially it goes on the make the claim that corporations have the same first amendment rights of speech as human beings. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, campaign contributions are equal to free speech. This is a complex case, but that’s it in a nutshell. Certainly everyone fully understands what this means in terms of further concentrating influence and power, and selling our civil society to the highest bidder. Justice Stevens, in writing the minority opinion in this 5-4 decision, quotes President Roosevelt in his 1905 annual message to congress: “All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law; directors should not be permitted to use stockholders’ money for such purposes; and, more-over a prohibition of this kind would be, as far as it went, an effective method of stopping the evils aimed at corrupt practices.” Also, Justice Stevens goes on himself, “The fact that corporations are different from human beings might seem to need no elaboration except that the majority opinion almost completely elides (ignores) it. Unlike natural persons, corporations have “limited liability” for their owners and managers, “perpetual life,”…..Unlike voters in U.S. elections, corporations may be foreign controlled.” And Justice Stevens goes on and on tearing apart the drivel of the majority opinion. I could go on, but we get the idea.
Finally, we heard on Thursday, on top of the Supreme Court disaster, that Air America Radio died a slow, painful death. For those who don’t know, Air America was the left leaning media outlet for liberal and progressive voices. It was founded in 2004, and had a very rough go from the start. I was a faithful listener from the beginning, and this was a tough pill to swallow. Air America never was a commercial success, and filed for chapter 11 protection under the bankruptcy laws in 2007. It went through many renovations and radio personalities before its final death rattle on Thursday. My take on Air America goes this way; it was a smashing success with millions of faithful listeners, it simply wasn’t a commercial success. After all, those of us on the progressive side spend much of our time criticizing corporate power and influence. A format that bites the hand of corporate donors after accepting its money is doomed to die a painful death. Not unlike the mafia coming after its money. There are still progressive voices, but the death of Air America makes them more difficult to be heard.
This was a bummer of a week. I bid thee a not so fond farewell!