Archive for big business

Warren: "Soon you'll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business."

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Senator Elizabeth Warren is worried about our very corporate Supreme Court. She's worried that they will rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, just as they decided in favor of Citizens United. And that decision has been a disaster.

To quote one of my favorite analysts, Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, SCOTUS will rule on "whether the religious rights of a for-profit corporate entity allow it to refuse to provide for employees insurance that would include certain forms of birth control. In so doing, the court may now be forced to reckon with the question of whether the same corporate personhood that includes the right to free speech also encompasses rights to religious conscience. In other words, Corporate Personhood is back! And this time, it’s got God on its side."

Case by case, this Supreme Court is, indeed, out to legalize corporate personhood.  Conservative extremists have spent decades shaking their political pom poms to cheer zygote personhood.  What next, hypocrisy personhood? But when it comes to actual people personhood, American citizen personhood, voting rights personhood, women's and gay rights personhood, they scurry off to Faux ChristianLand where Fox News [sic] feeds them their next "my belief system trumps reality" talking points.

And now these same zealots are (incredibly) being given credibility by the highest court in the U.S.A.

The following email from Senator Warren landed in my inbox today. As is made painfully obvious by K.C. Boyd's weekly "Upchucks" guest posts here at TPC, the separation of church and state is narrowing daily. This growing trend is serious and is endangering our dwindling democracy. We need to organize our voices and protest immediately, loudly, clearly, and constantly.

Bolding is mine:

Laffy,

Hobby Lobby doesn't want to cover its employees' birth control on company insurance plans. In fact, they're so outraged about women having access to birth control that they've taken the issue all the way to the Supreme Court.

I cannot believe that we live in a world where we would even consider letting some big corporation deny the women who work for it access to the basic medical tests, treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections.

But here's the scary thing: With the judges we've got on the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby might actually win.

The current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.

Recently, three well-respected legal scholars examined almost 20,000 Supreme Court cases from the last 65 years. They found that the five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top 10 most pro-corporate justices in more than half a century.

And Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts? They were number one and number two.

Take a look at the win rate of the national Chamber of Commerce cases before the Supreme Court. According to the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Chamber was winning 43% of the cases in participated in during the later years of the Burger Court, but that shifted to a 56% win-rate under the Rehnquist Court, and then a 70% win-rate with the Roberts Court.

Follow these pro-corporate trends to their logical conclusion, and pretty soon you'll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.

Birth control is at risk in today's case, but we also need to worry about a lot more.

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court unleashed a wave of corporate spending to game the political system and drown the voices of middle class families.

And right now, the Supreme Court is considering McCutcheon v. FEC, a case that could mean the end of campaign contribution limits – allowing the big guys to buy even more influence in Washington.

Republicans may prefer a rigged court that gives their corporate friends and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists every advantage. But that's not the job of judges. Judges don't sit on the bench to hand out favors to their political friends.

On days like today, it matters who is sitting on the Supreme Court. It matters that we have a President who appoints fair and impartial judges to our courts, and it matters that we have a Senate who approves them.

We're in this fight because we believe that we don't run this country for corporations – we run it for people.

Thank you for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

scotus supreme court koch smaller

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Expert on cultural production of ignorance "watches Fox News all the time"

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ignorance via Armando Lioss smallerPhoto via Armando Lioss

One of my favorite columnists, Michael Hiltzik (scroll), along with most sane people (read: not right wing extremists), does not think ignorance is bliss. In fact, he points out how the commercialization of ignorance has not only dumbed down America, it has endangered it. Hiltzik describes how industries thrive on disseminating public misinformation while they profit off of selling harmful concepts and products, exploit a willing media, all at the expense of increasingly oblivious consumers.

He cites the work of Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford and "one of the world's leading experts in agnotology, a neologism signifying the study of the cultural production of ignorance."

Hiltzik's piece in the Los Angeles Times is one that should be read in its entirety, but the highlights alone will make your hair stand on end. Alcoholic beverages and/or sedatives strongly recommended prior to reading:

Robert Proctor doesn't think ignorance is bliss. He thinks that what you don't know can hurt you. And that there's more ignorance around than there used to be, and that its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense. [...]

The tobacco industry was a pioneer at this. Its goal was to erode public acceptance of the scientifically proven links between smoking and disease: In the words of an internal 1969 memo legal opponents extracted from Brown & Williamson's files, "Doubt is our product." Big Tobacco's method should not be to debunk the evidence, the memo's author wrote, but to establish a "controversy."

Yes, infuriatingly, they peddle doubt and go out of their way to create controversy in order to implant big question marks in the minds of an unsuspecting, undereducated public. By inducing the media to "present both sides" when, in fact, there may not be two legitimate sides (science, anyone?), they divert focus and evade facts. For example, we've seen how they "sow doubts about the safety of childhood immunizations" (coughBachmann!cough) and deny climate change. And don't get me started on the lies about the Affordable Care Act:

When this sort of manipulation of information is done for profit, or to confound the development of beneficial public policy, it becomes a threat to health and to democratic society. [...]

And all those fabricated Obamacare horror stories wholesaled by Republican and conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act and their aiders and abetters in the right-wing press? Their purpose is to sow doubt about the entire project of healthcare reform; if the aim were to identify specific shortcomings of the act, they'd have to accompany every story with a proposal about how to fix it.

My head couldn't stop nodding in agreement when I caught this part:

"Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship." As part of his scholarship, Proctor says he "watches Fox News all the time."... Citing the results of a 2012 Gallup poll, Proctor asks, "If half the country thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old, how can you really develop an effective environmental policy? This sort of traditional or inertial ignorance bars us from being able to act responsibly on large social issues."

He goes on to explain how Big Tobacco exploited the tea party's obsession with what they love to call "freedom" and "choice," which of course plays into their anti-government meme, a position that consequently benefits the cigarette industry. Hiltzik emphasizes the importance of educating Americans in order to renew their trust in science. Competent journalism wouldn't hurt in that regard, now would it? He ends with this quote:

The effort needs to begin at a young age, [Proctor] says. "You really need to be teaching third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-graders that some people lie. And why do they lie? Because some people are greedy."

in greed we trust

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McDonald's advises their employees to not eat at McDonald's

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McDonald's don't eat our food

Memo to businesses, specifically McDonald's: Profiting off of unhealthy products is not the best way to boost your image or inspire confidence, nor is it good for your customers. However, if you insist on doing so, please note that advising your own employees against ingesting the very product that they are selling is confusing, idiotic, contradictory, laughable, and not good for their morale... or your bottom line.

Oh, and one really awesome way to keep your employees healthy and well-fed is to pay them decent wages.

Via Yahoo:

A McDonalds website providing resources to its employees advises against eating hamburgers, fries and sodas. CNBC first noticed the latest in a series of strange pieces of advice provided by the fast food company to its employees. "While convenient and economical for a busy lifestyle," McDonalds says of its primary product, "fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt and may put people at risk for becoming overweight."

It goes on: "In general, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease must be very careful about choosing fast food because of its high fat, salt, and sugar levels."

Oops. Excellent advice, but... oops.

As you can see from the graphic above, A.D.A.M., Inc. is providing this oh, so wise guidance. Who the heck is this A.D.A.M. we speak of?

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

As the Yahoo piece notes, A.D.A.M. isn't saying that healthy food is non-existent in restaurants like McDonald's, but it is presenting a "challenge" to them. And then the piece goes on to make an excellent point:

[T]he bigger question seems to be how McDonald's employees would be able to afford healthier food on the wages they earn slinging burgers.

ding ding dingPlease link over to read the last paragraph, because it is a splendid reminder of how Mickey D treats its employees.

hype truth bubble burst

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Cartoons of the Day- Walmart Loves Its Employees

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Clay Bennett editorial cartoon


Clay Bennett

walmart

Pat Bagley

walmart1

Jen Sorenson

WALMART

Deb Milbrath

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Are Corporations People or Not? If They Are, We Can Put Them Involuntarily In Conservatorship

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Corporations are people 2

Republicans, led by the vocal charge of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been saying corporations are people, too.

Then in 2010, the Supreme Court with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, determined that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to exercise their freedom of speech to buy elections and run our government.

In my mind, it's human beings that are people and corporations are strictly legal entities. And now it comes down to the distinction. Because if corporations are people, I want them treated that way.

If I make a series of bad, irrational or even questionable actions as an individual I can be deemed a threat to myself or others. I can be forced to appear in court and prove my competency or I can be institutionalized or made to report to a conservator. My rights can be taken away from me.

Using the Citizen's United ruling, can't we, as a stock holder (meaning someone with a vested interest in the well-being of the "individual) or purchaser of a company's product, petition the court and make them appear before a judge and prove to be competent enough to avoid supervision? Can you imagine the competency hearings that could spur on?

Outrageous, of course. That's taking the ruling way too far. But didn't the Supreme Court do the same thing?

They gave corporations the right to make donations large enough to sway elections and therefore impact my well-being. So why can't the shoe be put on the other foot? Just think about it for a minute.

show on other footThe reason there's local courts is to handle local issues, violations of laws. There are state Supreme or Superior courts to review those when justices may have made a mistake. There's Federal Appeals courts to review possible mistakes by Superior Courts. And there's the Supreme Court to review those possible misrulings. What happens when the Supreme Court makes a mistake? They can be guilty of that just as easily as any other court.

Well, like with your iPhone, we have an app for that.

MovetoAmend.org has been created to put some sanity back in America after the egregious Citizen's United ruling. They want to see it change -- recent elections have proven we need to take steps to protect our votes and now. MovetoAmed makes the argument is that with unlimited corporate money in the election process individuals rights are being trampled.

Remember Orwell's 1984 with big brother looking over our shoulder. We scoffed. Then come 2013 and Snowden's revealing the vast big brother of the NSA. It became reality.

So if you think corporate takeovers of this country isn't possible, you're naive.

Dissenting Justice Stevens wrote:

". . . corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

~Supreme Court Justice Stevens, January 2010

The video below demonstrates how we CAN and MUST take corporate and special interests out of political campaigns. It's really a hopeful few minutes, definitely worth a look-see.

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What The Hell Is Net Neutrality?

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Net-Neutrality-all-bits

Wired:

Net neutrality is a dead man walking. The execution date isn't set, but it could be days, or months (at best). And since net neutrality is the principle forbidding huge telecommunications companies from treating users, websites, or apps differently — say, by letting some work better than others over their pipes — the dead man walking isn't some abstract or far-removed principle just for wonks: It affects the internet as we all know it.

Okay, so how does that affect me? Are we facing a shutdown or what?

Not a shutdown -- but the Internet super highway is about to erect toll booths.

toll booths

We obviously have net neutrality at the moment. Because of it I don't have to wait longer for one site to download than another. Competition as to the fastest provider, Google, FireFox, Yahoo, AOL -- it's pretty much the same. I have choices, but I don't have to pay more or less to use one over the other.

But for how long?

Not much, if the court goes the way it's leaning. And that's going to mean big changes -- subtle at first, but costly over the long run for we, the consumers. At the same time, it'll ring up obscene profits for the telecoms.

First, this opens the door to fees charged you for data uploads, downloads and speed of access. We had those once and net neutrality pretty much did away with those.

Then let's say you like to visit your favorite site. If they don't pay a fee, it may take longer to download them than another similar site and you might go away to their competition. Or our carriers may instill a surcharge on us to be downloaded at a faster speed or more available to some search engines than others.

This is a real threat. Let's say you like to get your up to the minute sports scores from ESPN.com. They may be deep pocketed enough to pay a large fee not to speed up their delivery, but to slow down full access for other sports reporting outlets by making usury demands for their accessibility and availability.

And don't forget the door this opens to advertising revenues. If you're already tired of the ads embedded in many video clips, how about having to watch one before you can open every one of your emails? Texts. Tweets. Instagrams.

Also, telecom providers will, if this law changes, make it harder for reuse and access to news and information. That might hurt Rand Paul in his speech stealing endeavors, but it also hurts small independents who need to rely on major news gathering outlets to bring you timely and complete stories. Rebroadcast of clips and even some YouTube entries may become impossible.

We're not talking about copyrights, though they are affected. We're talking about the potential for locations like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram and YouTube to charge fees for numbers of tweets sent or received, messages posted or even accessed. They can start institution of levels - The Gold level allows unlimited access while Silver allows less posts or comments and the most costly, ala carte pricing.

be scaredA huge commercial door is about to be opened and it's frightening.

...companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and others declared a war on the internet’s foundational principle: that its networks should be “neutral” and users don’t need anyone’s permission to invent, create, communicate, broadcast, or share online. The neutral and level playing field provided by permissionless innovation has empowered all of us with the freedom to express ourselves and innovate online without having to seek the permission of a remote telecom executive.

But today, that freedom won’t survive much longer if a federal court — the second most powerful court in the nation behind the Supreme Court, the DC Circuit — is set to strike down the nation’s net neutrality law, a rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2010.

This is something  that we all need to watch. We've been blessed with net neutrality for some time now. And we can't afford to lose it. It's a freedom that should be as dear to us as the first amendment -- freedom of speech.

As we saw with the striking down of the Citizens United case, individuals rights are being trumped by big business and political committees fronting for specific special interests. This could soon hit us all. Our favorite sites could be forced into financial hardship or even worse, extinction.

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The Party of No Strikes Again

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FHFA

Senate Republicans today blocked a vote on the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

If the Republicans couldn't slip much lower, they found a way. They have voted to block the nomination of Congressman Mel Watt. His background is impeccable. He's been dealing with the housing market for over 20 years. He introduced the prohibit preditory lender act before the housing crash. Had it been adopted it could have prevented the housing/financial crisis. He's worked against risky mortgage loaning.

The Senate voted 56 to 42 to proceed to a vote on Watt's nomination -- shy of the 60 votes required to end debate.

The delaying tactic was the latest episode in a contentious series of battles over President Obama's nominees and could pave the way for a renewed effort by Democrats to change the chamber's rules. They have the votes to do that. It's the so-called nuclear option.

nuclear option

Watt's a guy who is independent and will continue to work hard for us.

So what's the reason the Republicans have stopped his nomination?

The reason is he's a victim of obstruction for obstruction sake.

Despite being knowledgeable and capable, he's failed the standard GOP litmus test. Is he Republican? No. Is he a good ol' boy? No. Is he white? No. Three strikes and you're out.

Senator Elizabeth Warren backed him vociferously as you'll see below.  Perhaps that, as much as his being Black and a Democrat killed his nomination. The most influential woman on Capitol Hill is Hillary Clinton. The most feared is Elizabeth Warren.

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