REAL Democracy History Calendar: July 31 – August 6

July 31

1965 – Birth of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter fantasy series

Some claim Rowling has one of the greatest imaginations. But her fantasies pale in comparison to those of Supreme Court justices who have claimed legal documents (corporations) possess unalienable constitutional rights equal to human beings. Now that’s an imagination!

2009 – Committee for Economic Development submits brief to U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to Citizens United v. FEC 

The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization that delivers well-researched analysis and reasoned solutions to our nation’s most critical issues.    

From their brief to the Supreme Court:                    

“In this amicus curiae brief, CED seeks to counteract the assumption that corporations want more leeway to spend money on political campaigns. To the contrary, the business leaders who serve as CED’s trustees believe that a decision striking down the ban on corporate electioneering expenditures would severely harm corporate interests…

“Businesses would not welcome such a regime because it would expose corporations to corrupt shakedowns for political money. Corporations would face intense pressure to provide indirect financial support for candidates to attract the attention of, and avoid retribution from, elected officials. Corporate electioneering would harm public confidence in business, fueling the perception that large corporations secure unfair advantages by purchasing political influence. Yet each corporation would be helpless to get out of the political game, fearful of losing out in the economic marketplace to competitors that were willing to play ball.”    http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation/citizens_united_sc_08_ced_supp_brief_amici.pdf

August 1

1999 – Publication of “Treatise on Constitutional Law: Substance and Procedure” by Ronald D. Rotunda and John E. Nowak

The U.S. Supreme Court is “the most powerful court the world has ever known.” However, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of WTO, NAFTA, TPP, TTIP and TISA can supersede decidions of the highest national courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and there is no appeal.

August 2

1924 – Birth of James Baldwin, Birth of James Baldwin, U.S. novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic

“Words like  ‘freedom,’ ‘justice,’ and ‘democracy”’ are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous, and above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.”

2010 – Are the Corporate Money Floodgates About to Open? by Suzy Khimm

After waiting on the sidelines, Best Buy, Target, and other companies are diving into the campaign finance free-for-all.

“In the months immediately following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, corporations seemed to be sitting on the sidelines instead of delving directly into the campaign finance free-for-all that the decision opened up. Instead, it was labor unions that leapt to take advantage of the lifted restrictions, outspending corporations on independent campaign ads by nearly threefold in the first six months of 2010. But now there’s mounting evidence that some of the nation’s most visible and powerful corporations have entered the fray…”

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/08/citizens-united-target-best-buy

August 3

2009 – A Call to Democratize Money article published this month by Greg Coleridge

“Centuries before corporate ‘personhood’ rights, even [before] the US Constitution, a privileged few and their business corporations were usurping the power of sovereignty, of decision-making authority in one pivotal arena – with profoundly undemocratic, unjust, and violent consequences. That arena was, and is, the creation of money.

“The privatization or corporatization of money is not simply one more single-issue assault on the right of citizens to self-rule. Its profound impacts on economic and ecological systems are as consequential as those wrought by corporate constitutional rights and demand its separate understanding, analysis, and prescription.” Coleridge is a Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) principal.

http://poclad.org/BWA/2009/BWA_2009_AUG.html   

2016 – Death of former Republican Congressman Steven LaTourette from Ohio

“Politics is being directed by a bunch of rich people who you can count on two hands who have an inordinate impact of the direction of government.”

August 4

1967 – Federation of Southern Cooperatives Chartered

Five major civil rights organizations developed economic cooperatives throughout the South — mostly farming and supply and marketing co-ops, but also credit unions, housing co-ops and worker co-ops. The Federation still operates today – an example of economic democracy.

August 5

1876 – Birth of Mary Ritter Beard, historian and women’s rights movement activist

“At no time, at no place, in solemn convention assembled, through no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a democracy. The Constitution did not contain the word or any word lending countenance to it, except possibly the mention of “We the people” in the preamble….When the Constitution was framed no respectable person called himself or herself a democrat.”

1934 – Birth of Wendell Berry, US  novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer

“Though the corporations, by law, are counted as persons, they do not have personal minds, if they can be said to have minds. It is a great oddity that a corporation, which properly speaking has no self, is by definition selfish, responsible only to itself. This is an impersonal, abstract selfishness, limitlessly acquisitive, but unable to look so far ahead as to preserve its own sources and supplies. The selfishness of the fossil fuel industries by nature is self-annihilating; but so, always, has been the selfishness of the agribusiness corporations.

“…[W]e are no longer talking about theoretical alternatives to corporate rule. We are talking with practical urgency about an obvious need. Now the two great aims of industrialism—replacement of people by technology and concentration of wealth into the hands of a small plutocracy—seem close to fulfillment. At the same time the failures of industrialism have become too great and too dangerous to deny. Corporate industrialism itself has exposed the falsehood that it ever was inevitable or that it ever has given precedence to the common good. It has failed to sustain the health and stability of human society. Among its characteristic signs are destroyed communities, neighborhoods, families, small businesses, and small farms. It has failed just as conspicuously and more dangerously to conserve the wealth and health of nature. No amount of fiddling with capitalism to regulate and humanize it, no pointless rhetoric on the virtues of capitalism or socialism, no billions or trillions spent on “defense” of the “American dream,” can for long disguise this failure…

“That we live now in an economy that is not sustainable is not the fault only of a few mongers of power and heavy equipment. We all are implicated. We all, in the course of our daily economic life, consent to it, whether or not we approve of it.”

Wendell E. Berry Lecture, “IT ALL TURNS ON AFFECTION”

http://www.neh.gov/about/awards/jefferson-lecture/wendell-e-berry-lecture

August 6

1965 – Voting Rights Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson  

The landmark federal legislation prohibits racial discrimination in voting, passed during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement, and considered to be the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted in the U.S. The Act resulted in the mass enfranchisement of racial minorities in the South and across the country.

2015 – “The Transformation of American Democracy to Oligarchy” published article by Akbar Ganji, dissident Iranian journalist; Intl. Press Association World Press Freedom Hero

“The United States has the world’s largest economy, is the most important contributor to scientific advancements, has the most powerful military and some of the best universities in the world, is a democratic state, and accepts more immigrants than any other nation. But, over time the democratic foundations of the United States, equality of the citizens and their human rights, have been eroding. It is impossible to make inequality a pillar of the structure of the state and deepen its roots, and yet to be proud and claim that the citizens have equal voting rights. When all types of inequalities take deep roots and expand, citizens lose their power to influence the political process.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/akbar-ganji/the-transformation-of-ame_1_b_7945040.html

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