By David Hoffman
Don't say I didn't warn you.
In my article The Greatest Threat to America, I stated that the five so-called "conservative" members of the United States Supreme Court-Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy-"have destroyed American democracy and its fundamental freedoms more ruthlessly and effectively than any terrorist group in the world."
They accomplished this in the 2010 case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission by overturning roughly one hundred years of precedent to proclaim that corporations now have the same "free speech" rights as flesh-and-blood human beings.
While I warned that this ruling would enable corporations to "buy and sell politicians like trading cards," supporters of the Citizens United case tried to camouflage this reality by maintaining that the court's decision also gave labor unions identical "free speech" rights.
It didn't take long to witness the unbridled corruption that Citizens United unleashed. As Kenneth P. Vogel stated in an article for Politico.com, two of the so-called "justices" who endorsed the Citizens United ruling, Scalia and Thomas, "attended events connected to conservative donor conferences organized by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch." In addition, the Koch brothers "have donated or raised millions of dollars for groups that aired hard-hitting ads attacking Democrats" thanks to the "spending flexibility afforded them by Citizens United" (see America is Dead).
But this unbridled power is not enough for the corporations and plutocrats. They want to make sure that their voices, and only their voices, are heard in the political arena. Thus they have demanded that the Republican politicians they now own declare war on labor unions.
According to Harold Meyerson, Editor-at-Large of American Prospect, one reason for this war is because union members tend to vote Democratic "at a rate 20 percent higher than their non-union counterparts" (see Boycott Indiana).
Still, that is only part of the story. As I discussed in Boycott Indiana, "free speech" in America is very rarely free. Political ads on television, the Internet, radio and/or in newspapers can cost a candidate thousands, even millions of dollars, depending on the office he/she is seeking. Depleting the financial resources of labor unions leaves only the voices of the plutocrats and corporate interests, and, in order to obtain campaign financing, politicians of both parties will be increasingly forced to support these interests.
Perhaps the lack of outrage over this looming reality is due to apathy, or even antipathy, towards the role of labor unions. But it doesn't take a tremendous leap of logic to realize that voices promoting corporate interests will soon diminish the rights of all workers and weaken laws that protect consumers and the environment. Also, corporate censorship of the Internet and other media (already a growing problem, as illustrated by the ease in which credit card companies and online pay services suppressed funding to Wikileaks) will become the rule instead of the exception.
Those who doubt the extent of Citizens United inspired corruption need only look to Ohio and Wisconsin, where governors John Kasich (Ohio) and Scott Walker (Wisconsin) implemented some of the most draconian pieces of anti-labor legislation ever passed.
The motivating strategy behind such legislation is to weaken the collective bargaining power of the unions and to make it more difficult for them to collect dues. This is often accomplished through deceptively named "right-to-work" laws. These so-called laws make it illegal for union dues to be automatically withheld from paychecks, and give non-union workers in union shops all the benefits of union representation without requiring them to pay dues.
Needless to say, it is not difficult to understand how "right-to-work" laws will rapidly deplete union coffers, and thus also deplete their ability to advocate for the rights of workers during election campaigns.
The corruption wrought by Citizens United in Wisconsin might have been comedic had the issues at stake not been so important. Despite weeks of protests against his proposed legislation, Walker remained largely inaccessible to the media. But when a prank caller pretending to be David Koch telephoned Walker, he had no problem getting through. And during this conversation with the Koch impersonator, Walker agrees that both he and Koch "have a little bit of vested interest" in the passage of anti-labor legislation.
In addition, just when it appeared that JoAnne Kloppenburg, a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court who opposed Walker's anti-labor agenda, won a hotly contested election against incumbent Walker-puppet David Prosser, Kathy Nickolaus, clerk of Waukesha County, "found" 11,000 additional votes for Prosser.
Fortunately, Kasich's anti-labor law was overwhelmingly defeated in a voter referendum in Ohio, and Walker is currently facing a recall election in Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, he is depending on out-of-state money to fight the recall efforts, which means he is now more beholden to the interests of his wealthy contributors than to the people of Wisconsin.
But if Republicans really want to study how corruption works, they only need to look at the State of Indiana. About ninety years ago the Ku Klux Klan, led by D.C. Stephenson, controlled Indiana's Republican party. Today that party is controlled by the Koch Klux Klan, and led by a contemptible, corrupt, and mendacious trinity of Republican reprobates: House Speaker Brian Bosma; Senate President Pro-Tem David Long; and Governor Mitch Daniels.
In Boycott Indiana, I explained that Indianapolis, Indiana's state capitol, was the site of the 2012 Super Bowl, an event that attracts tourists from all over the world. So, in a despicable attempt to conceal their corrupt political machinations from these tourists, this repugnant trinity, joined by likeminded Republican slime, placed the passage of "right-to-work" legislation on the "fast-track."
But when it appeared that this "fast-track" tactic would derail, Daniels, in a veiled threat eerily similar to that of another union-busting thug, Ronald Reagan ("If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with"), announced it would be a "colossal mistake" for union members to use the Super Bowl to expose Indiana's corruption to the world.
In the end, Daniels was able to sign "right-to-work" into law a few days before Super Bowl Sunday, thus defusing the impact of any planned protests and making Indiana the twenty-third state, and the first in ten years, to destroy the rights of labor through "right-to-work" legislation.
So, instead of being exposed to aggrieved Indiana workers, Super Bowl aficionados were treated to numerous media "fluff" pieces about the City of Indianapolis, with the exception of a Reuters article that quoted a tourist from Maryland as saying that people protesting the newly enacted "right-to-work" law "need to get jobs."
In those few words reside the idiocy, hypocrisy, cluelessness and selfishness that allows the Citizens United fueled corruption of politicians like Bosma, Long and Daniels to go unchallenged. After all, this "tourist" from Maryland, and/or thousands of others like him, apparently had the financial resources to attend what is perhaps the most overhyped, overpriced event in the world-a football game that is played by union members. Yet thousands of Indiana workers, thanks to this so-called "right-to-work" law, are now facing a future of low-paying jobs, deceased wages and increased political corruption.
Given Daniels' proven ability to resort to any tactics, no matter how despicable, to appease his corporate masters, it was not surprising that he was chosen to deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama's "State of the Union" address. And what better person to respond to Obama's plea that America should protect and preserve its middle-class than a reprobate Republican intent on destroying it!
Political corruption flourishes in Indiana, because, unlike Wisconsin, it has no recall process, so venal politicians cannot be removed from office until the next scheduled election, which, in turn, gives them ample time to gorge themselves on the corporate trough. And there is no mandated referendum process, so these same politicians can easily ram through legislation that benefits their corporate masters, even though it hurts their constituents.
One disingenuous lie that Republicans disseminated during the so-called debate over "right-to-work" legislation was that Indiana voters were overwhelmingly in favor of it. Yet, when Democrats proposed that the "right-to-work" issue be put to a public referendum, many of these same Republicans, in a duplicitous display of gutlessness, rejected the proposal, prompting Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson to ask them what they were afraid of.
The overt political corruption that exists in Indiana makes it exceedingly clear that, thanks to the Citizens United decision, Republican politicians no longer have to be concerned about what their constituents think. One could even argue that such politicians are analogous to prostitutes, but this would be unfair to prostitutes who make no pretensions about what they are selling. But scumbags like Kasich, Walker, Daniels, Bosma, Long and others of their ilk sell their souls to plutocrats and corporations, then try to pretend they are acting in the public interest.
Unlike many of my previous articles, this one uses stronger adjectives to describe the depravity of those who are now corrupting America. This is no accident. As long as the corporate-controlled media sugarcoat what Wall Street, the Republican Party and the United States Supreme Court are doing to this country, and as long as they bury influence-peddling and corruption beneath patronizing punditry and arcane analysis, the destruction of America will continue unabated, its most fundamental freedoms will be for sale to the highest bidder, and 99 percent of its population will be fighting amongst themselves for the scraps thrown from the tables of people like the Koch brothers.
What is particularly disturbing is that many of these corporate-controlled Republicans are so vile that, in order to dupe gullible voters, they profess to be "Christians." But there is nothing Christian about a person, or a political party, whose only God is greed, whose only Messiah is money and whose only commandment is corruption.
Regular readers of Pravda.Ru may recall that I often end my articles with the optimistic belief that those who do evil in this world will be compelled to answer for it in the afterlife. But I must confess that this belief has been motivated by the fact that I have no other explanation for why so many good and honorable people suffer at the hands of the corrupt, dishonorable and greedy, nor why the corrupt, dishonorable and greedy are, far too often, the ones who attain prosperity and power in this world.
No more such optimism for me. A world that produces satanic men like Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Alito, Roberts, Daniels, Walker, Kasich, Bosma, Long and the Koch brothers can certainly cause one to question God's wisdom.
And the fact that these satanic men have been given the wealth and power to destroy the lives of others can certainly cause one to question whether God exists at all.
David R. Hoffman
Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
Alexey Navalny returned to Russia on January 17. He was detained upon arrival at the Sheremetyevo Airport. A court arrested Navalny for 30 days