A Sad Obituary (1/21/10)

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A Sad Obituary (1/21/10)

Postby Ferguson Foont » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:23 pm

It is with deep sadness that I note the passing, on the morning of January 21, 2010, of American democracy. It died in Washington, D.C., in the chambers of the United States Supreme Court, after a long and painful illness, as five of the nine justices finally pulled the plug.

Born July 4, 1776, democracy in America had a difficult childhood culminating, in its early adolescence, in a tragic and violent civil war. This was followed by a painful growth spurt leading up to attaining adulthood in the early part of the 20th century, when the overgrowth of some of the limbs and organs, a dangerous asymmetry that threatened to end its life in its youth, were restrained by the drugs of trust-busting and unionization that helped its continued growth to take place along healthier, more prosperous lines.

At the age of about 144, still young for this family but becoming more mature, democracy sickened again as a recurrence, in slightly modified form that was able to elude the antibiotics administered previously, again threatened its life. Again democracy recovered, but more slowly this time, by the mild application of social and economic reforms that led to a more sustainable rate of growth. This second recovery came in a very timely fashion, allowing the body of democracy to regain enough of its strength to survive a long fight against a vicious foe with superior weapons and save not only itself but the whole neighborhood. For this brave act, American democracy was briefly loved by all, very nearly everywhere on earth.

But shortly afterward, democracy was threatened by a new disease brought on by an overreaction to a perceived condition that did not really exist, an imaginary internal parasite that some practitioners, particularly one Dr. McCarthy who wasn't really a doctor but played one on TV, advocated that we cure ourselves of by cutting out our tongues and removing the left halves of our brains. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the correct medicine, a low dosage of decency and courage administered by Drs. Wilson and Murrow, restored it to strength once again.

Throughout our 180s and 190s we achieved our greatest strength as we finally began to equalize our various parts, some of which had been out of kilter since birth, and despite some inconvenient coughs and colds and a case of the Indochinese Flu we were so strong and powerful that our celebration of our 200th birthday was one of the most spectacular and joyous occasions in the history of the world, and by the age of 215 we had become clearly the mightiest thing that had ever walked the earth.

But, almost unnoticed, a cancer had begun to grow in its late 200s, as we ingested some bad Supreme Court appointees, named not for their wise jurisprudence but because they towed a particular ideological line. This cancer, or "Scalioma," could not have harmed us if, just six months before our 200th birthday, we had not first been weakened by a condition called Buckley v. Valeo-itis, which officially defined corporations, with their immortality and unlimited resources, as individuals who normally don't share those advantages, and miraculously transformed money into speech. Scalioma has taken over now, and one of this disease's agents of metastasis, the Kennedy microbe, today provided the final symptom that has led to the death of the once mighty Democracy six months before what would have been its 234th birthday.

See, the Supreme Court today handed down their decision in the "Citizens United v. FEC" case today, a little noticed event but one that has absolutely enormous consequences for democracy and American liberty, possibly greater than any event throughout our entire history. Today's 5-4 decision, with the usual breakout (Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy on one side, Breyer, Ginzburg, Sotomayor and Stevens, who wrote a 90-page dissent, on the other), holds that corporate expenditures on political campaigns cannot be limited by law because to do so violates corporate "freedom of speech."

So now, the FULL resources of Exxon-Mobil, of Verizon, of Eli Lilly, of The Hartford, etc., etc., etc., can be brought to bear in purchasing media time for political advocacy during the period leading up to our elections. The content of the material they broadcast is unlimited as is the scope of their investment -- they can lie (as they so frequently do) in ways rendered particularly persuasive by the cleverness of the professionals they can hire to do it. Their ability to devote vast sums of cash to the effort will drive prices for media time into the stratosphere, rendering it unaffordable for lesser entities like those that espouse a more egalitarian or societally responsible view. The notion that this can somehow be balanced off by a similar lifting of regulations on union political spending is like equating a child's popgun with a nuclear bomb.

Did you appreciate the work of the Swift Boaters? Now you will see it times a hundred or more. Truth will be lost. Democracy is lost.

We are now officially a plutocratic oligarchy. Those of us who earn our living by the fruits of our labors, rather than by the proceeds of property, are now cerfs, in complete and hopeless permanent thrall to our corporate masters.

This is a day to mourn the final passing of mankind's greatest idea, American democracy. Final services will be held on the morning of Wednesday, November 3, 2010.
Republicans whine and Republicans bitch: "Our rich are too poor, and our poor are too rich."
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Ferguson Foont
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