The United States of Corporate America: From democracy to plutocracy

By Rodrigue Tremblay
Online Journal Guest Writer

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” –Plato, ancient Greek philosopher

“The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.” –Alex Carey, Australian social scientist

“The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations.” –Noam Chomsky, M.I.T. emeritus Professor of Linguistics

On Tuesday, January 19, the Obama administration got a kick in the pants from Massachusetts voters when they filled former Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat by electing a conservative Republican candidate. The essence of their message was stop dithering and start governing; stop trying to satisfy the bankers and please the editors of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, and start caring for the ordinary people.

Two days later, President Barack Obama seemed to have understood the people’s message when he announced a “Volcker rule” that will forbid large banks from owning hedge funds that make money by placing large bets against their own clients, using information that these same clients gave them. It was time. Such a policy should have been announced months ago, if not years ago.

On the same day, however, a nonelected body, the U.S. Supreme Court, threw a different challenge to the Obama administration. Indeed, on Thursday January 21, a Republican-appointed majority on the U.S. Supreme Court took it upon itself to profoundly change the U.S. Constitution and American democracy. Indeed, in what can be labeled a most reactionary decision, the Roberts U.S. Supreme Court ruled that legal entities, such as corporations and labor unions, have the same purely personal rights to free speech as living individuals. Indeed, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.

The only problem with such a wide interpretation of the U.S. Bills of Rights (N.B.: The first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights) is that this runs contrary to its letter and its spirit, since it clearly states later on that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, and reserves all powers not granted to the federal government to the citizenry or States.” The words “people” and “citizenry” clearly refer here to living human beings, not to legal or artificial entities such as business corporations, labor unions, financial organizations or political lobbies.

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EFF: Boston College Campus Police: “Using Prompt Commands” May Be a Sign of Criminal Activity

On Friday, EFF and the law firm of Fish and Richardson filed an emergency motion to quash [pdf]and for the return of seized property on behalf of a Boston College computer science student whose computers, cell phone, and other property were seized as part of an investigation into who sent an e-mail to a school mailing list identifying another student as gay. The problem? Not only is there no indication that any crime was committed, the investigating officer argued that the computer expertise of the student itself supported a finding of probable cause to seize the student’s property.

The warrant application [pdf] cites the following allegedly suspicious behavior:

 

 


 


Should Boston College Linux users be looking over their shoulders?

In his application, the investigating officer asked that he be permitted to seize the student’s computers and other personal effects because they might yield evidence of the crimes of “Obtaining computer services by Fraud or Misrepresentation” and “Unauthorized access to a computer system.” Aside from the remarkable overreach by campus and state police in trying to paint a student as suspicious in part because he can navigate a non-Windows computer environment, nothing cited in the warrant application could possibly constitute the cited criminal offenses. There are no assertions that a commercial (i.e. for pay) commercial service was defrauded, a necessary element of any “Obtaining computer services by Fraud or Misrepresentation” allegation. Similarly, the investigating officer doesn’t explain how sending an e-mail to a campus mailing list might constitute “unauthorized access to a computer system.”

During its March 30th search, police seized (among other things) the computer science major’s computers, storage drives, cell phone, iPod Touch, flash drives, digital camera, and Ubuntu Linux CD. None of these items have been returned. He has been suspended from his job pending the investigation. His personal documents and information are in the hands of the state police who continue to examine it without probable cause, searching for evidence to support unsupportable criminal allegations.

Next up? An emergency court hearing as soon as the court will hear us in which we will ask that the search warrant be voided and the student’s property returned. Stay tuned…

UPDATES & Full Article

Barack Obama’s Stealth Socialism

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

During his NAACP speech earlier this month, Sen. Obama repeated the term at least four times. “I’ve been working my entire adult life to help build an America where economic justice is being served,” he said at the group’s 99th annual convention in Cincinnati.

And as president, “we’ll ensure that economic justice is served,” he asserted. “That’s what this election is about.” Obama never spelled out the meaning of the term, but he didn’t have to. His audience knew what he meant, judging from its thumping approval.

It’s the rest of the public that remains in the dark, which is why we’re launching this special educational series.

“Economic justice” simply means punishing the successful and redistributing their wealth by government fiat. It’s a euphemism for socialism.

In the past, such rhetoric was just that — rhetoric. But Obama’s positioning himself with alarming stealth to put that rhetoric into action on a scale not seen since the birth of the welfare state.

In his latest memoir he shares that he’d like to “recast” the welfare net that FDR and LBJ cast while rolling back what he derisively calls the “winner-take-all” market economy that Ronald Reagan reignited (with record gains in living standards for all).

Obama also talks about “restoring fairness to the economy,” code for soaking the “rich” — a segment of society he fails to understand that includes mom-and-pop businesses filing individual tax returns.

It’s clear from a close reading of his two books that he’s a firm believer in class envy. He assumes the economy is a fixed pie, whereby the successful only get rich at the expense of the poor.

Following this discredited Marxist model, he believes government must step in and redistribute pieces of the pie. That requires massive transfers of wealth through government taxing and spending, a return to the entitlement days of old.

Of course, Obama is too smart to try to smuggle such hoary collectivist garbage through the front door. He’s disguising the wealth transfers as “investments” — “to make America more competitive,” he says, or “that give us a fighting chance,” whatever that means.

Among his proposed “investments”:

• “Universal,” “guaranteed” health care.

• “Free” college tuition.

• “Universal national service” (a la Havana).

• “Universal 401(k)s” (in which the government would match contributions made by “low- and moderate-income families”).

• “Free” job training (even for criminals).

• “Wage insurance” (to supplement dislocated union workers’ old income levels).

• “Free” child care and “universal” preschool.

• More subsidized public housing.

• A fatter earned income tax credit for “working poor.”

• And even a Global Poverty Act that amounts to a Marshall Plan for the Third World, first and foremost Africa.

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Remind all your elected servants that ….

they are bound by the Government Code of Ethics….

Code of Ethics for Government Service

House Document 103, 86th Congress, 1st Session – Passed by the Congress of the United States on July 11, 1958.

ANY PERSON IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE SHOULD:

I. Put loyalty to the highest moral principles above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department.

II. Uphold the Constitution, laws, and legal regulations of the United States and of all governments therein and never be a party to their evasion.

III. Give a full day’s labor for a full day’s pay; giving to the performance of his duties his earnest effort and best thought.

IV. Seek to find and employ more efficient and economical ways of getting tasks accomplished.

V. Never discriminate unfairly by the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone, whether for remuneration or not; and never accept, for himself or his family, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of his governmental duties.

VI. Make no private promises of any kind binding upon the duties of office, since the Government employee has no private word which can be binding on public duty.

VII. Engage in no business with the Government, either directly or indirectly, which is inconsistent with the conscientious performance of his governmental duties.

VIII. Never use any information coming to him confidentially in the performance of governmental duties as a means for making private profit.

IX. Expose corruption wherever discovered.

X. Uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust.

More on ethics including instructions for display of the above, at the Defense Systems Information Agency (DISA) site at the Department of Defense.

Feds To Get Power To Target Websites Making “False Claims”

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Monday, June 22, 2009

The Federal Reserve refuses to disclose where trillions of dollars in bailout money went and yet the FTC is more concerned about snooping into the financial affairs of bloggers who make a few bucks off affiliate relationships, according to new guidelines set to be introduced later this year that would give the government a foot in the door to regulate and shut down blogs for making “false claims”.

“New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest,” states an Associated Press report.

Furious that struggling families are supplementing their income by having housewives write blogs about cooking, or individuals posting political opinions and funding their operation by carrying affiliate links to Amazon books, the new FTC regulations would ensure that “Any type of blog could be scrutinized, not just ones that specialize in reviews,” according to the report.

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Federal Reserve Bank is financial system’s new “uber-regulator” – USATODAY

Excerpt from USATODAY.com

President Obama unveiled a stem-to-stern overhaul of financial industry regulation Wednesday, promising dramatic changes for banks, consumers, hedge funds and even the inner workings of the Federal Reserve. The ambitious proposal is designed to strengthen a ramshackle system of government oversight that failed to either prevent or mitigate the current financial crisis.

The new regulatory blueprint would “protect America’s consumers and our economy from the devastating breakdown that we’ve witnessed in recent years,” Obama said.

The sweeping proposal marks an emphatic end to an era during which top policymakers, notably including then-Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, celebrated the ability of market participants to largely police themselves.

FN- Did you read that double speak? They say bad government regulation caused the crisis. Now Greenspan is celebrating because they now “self-regulate”? We went from bad regulation to NO regulation? How does he pull this off?

Increased powers for Fed

Among the most controversial elements are expanded powers granted the Fed. The central bank, which controls the nation’s money supply and supervises the banks, would become the financial system’s uber-regulator. The Fed missed the housing and credit bubbles while they were inflating, badly underestimated their costs when they did pop and already has a full plate, critics say. With the Fed already engaged in numerous unconventional interventions in financial markets, some worry that adding a new role could backfire. (FN- You think?)

“I’d rather that the Fed stick to its knitting of conducting monetary policy and be the lender of last resort, as opposed to take on the role of supervision of individual institutions. … In this role, the Fed will be thrust into the center of controversy,” said Hal Scott, a professor at Harvard Law School and director of the influential Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, a private-sector body.

But administration officials say they carefully considered alternatives before opting to task the Fed. Countries that place key supervision authority outside the central bank don’t operate well in crisis situations, Geithner said.

“I do not believe there’s a plausible alternative that would create the necessary degree of confidence, accountability, responsibility and authority for protecting us against some of the risks we faced in this crisis,” he said. (FN- Giving ALL the power to the Fed to “protect us”, thanks Geithner)

A key target of the plan: financial institutions so large and interconnected, their failure could ricochet around the economy with catastrophic results. These “systemically important’ companies would be subject to more scrutiny and would need to hold more capital in reserve than under current standards. The government also would win new authority to handle “the orderly resolution” of them if they suffer fatal wounds.

“After this crisis, it’s clear that there are a number of financial institutions that are capable of being the domino that causes the rest of the financial system to fall over,” said Douglas Elliott, a former JPMorgan investment banker.

But some worry that investors will view any financial institution the government labels “systemically important” as effectively government-backed. (FN-Reread this line carefully)

That could enable such firms to borrow at lower interest rates, since they would seem better credit risks than smaller rivals not vital to the financial system, says the Brookings Institution’s Martin Baily, who chaired President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers.

FN- Spread the word, the Federal Reserve is becoming the all powerful all knowing body in the world. The US has NO CHECKS AND BALANCES left because the Federal Reserve has the final say in all monetary and financial matters. Mind you, the banks that back the Federal Reserve are SECRET. We have a SECRET group of people controlling the inner workings of our so-called “free market”. Give me a break. Support TX Rep. Ron Paul’s bill to AUDIT THE FED. It now has an astonishing 234 co-sponsors. Whether you support it or not, it is very likely to pass. The Federal Reserve’s inner workings will be exposed, this they say will “destroy the Fed”. Get involved and READ!!!

How the spooks took over the news

This is an edited extract from “Flat Earth News: an award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media”, published by Chatto & Windus. In his controversial new book, Nick Davies argues that shadowy intelligence agencies are pumping out black propaganda to manipulate public opinion – and that the media simply swallow it wholesale

Onthe morning of 9 February 2004, The New York Times carried an exclusive and alarming story. The paper’s Baghdad correspondent, Dexter Filkins, reported that US officials had obtained a 17-page letter, believed to have been written by the notorious terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi to the “inner circle” of al-Qa’ida’s leadership, urging them to accept that the best way to beat US forces in Iraq was effectively to start a civil war.

The letter argued that al-Qa’ida, which is a Sunni network, should attack the Shia population of Iraq: “It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us. If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis.”

Later that day, at a regular US press briefing in Baghdad, US General Mark Kimmitt dealt with a string of questions about The New York Times report: “We believe the report and the document is credible, and we take the report seriously… It is clearly a plan on the part of outsiders to come in to this country and spark civil war, create sectarian violence, try to expose fissures in this society.” The story went on to news agency wires and, within 24 hours, it was running around the world.

There is very good reason to believe that that letter was a fake – and a significant one because there is equally good reason to believe that it was one product among many from a new machinery of propaganda which has been created by the United States and its allies since the terrorist attacks of September 2001.

For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it.

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