A Green Citizens United Christmas

Above you see a Christmas ornament on my Christmas Tree.

The ornament is of the U.S. Capitol with a copy of the Constitution scrolled around the building.

You light up the ornament by placing a Christmas tree light into the back of the ornament.

I placed a green bulb in the Capitol/Constitution because our nation’s political system is run by big money.

It’s always been this way—But since the terrible Citizens United ruling earlier this year by the Supreme Court, the rule of big money is even worse.

The 2012 campaign is going to be all about big money from often secret sources.

The Citzens United decision allows for unlimited secret money to be donated to political campaigns from corporations and the super-rich.

I’m not certain my protest of making the Capitol and the Constitution the color of money will change much.

It is simply what I could do in the context of my Christmas Tree.

However, there are things we can do to combat the role of big money in our politics.

We can donate money ourselves, discuss issues with friends and family,  run for office, start a blog, contact our elected officials, volunteer  for candidates or causes we support, and do whatever else we feel may be of value.

There are always things we can do. It is up to us to do the work of freedom and democracy.

To the left of the Capitol ornament you see a salmon.

That would be a great movie where the Capitol was attacked by a salmon. I hope somebody makes that movie real soon.

  • Linda

    A picture’s worth a thousand words–but maybe not a thousand $$?

  • Will the Viking

    Big post, warning, danger Will Robinson Danger

    While supporting my radio station and trying to endure Michael Jackson’s idea of a christmas song, your bit about the salmon reminded me of two movies. Mom and I recently enjoyed a film about Megaladon (Mega Shark) versus Giant Octopus. They were unleashed during a melting glacier from torpedo testing or whatever. The shark was big enough to eat a 747 jet with one bite, and apparently strong and fast enough to get the jet in mid air (leaping from some spot in the water to about 40,000 feet and surviving on the landing). The next movie with that shark could be your movie, it evolves air breathing abilities and flip flops across the country to get the capitol building.

    The other movie was the always fun Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    “You must cut the capitol building….WITHHHH…..a SALMON!”

    Clip for those who don’t know:

    Campaign finance reform has never worked, some laws are still in place (including the basic law that involves the Citizens United case, its just that parts were struck down by the supreme court), but either they have failed overall or even made the problem worse. Some laws were passed in the 20s to try and kick out robber barons and mobsters from the election process. It actually empowered incumbents because usually for a small time guy running for office having a mobster or such thing take a chance on you was the only real shot you had.

    It isn’t always that way. Obama outspent his opposition in its entirety, outspent Mccain about 9 to 1, mostly from small donations from the utilization of modern technology and advertising. What it meant in the end was that Obama was a good salesman to “common people” while he lied and slandered in his advertisements just like his opposition did to him (although a common thread by the Chomskyites that it was somehow worse than what Jon Adams said about Thomas Jefferson is utterly absurd.)
    Is our political system owned by special interests, mostly those of banks or whatnot? Sure, but its because we let it happen. Corporations do not just exist out of nothing and get entitled power, they gain because they have support. McDonald’s is shitty food that a lot of people buy, Cocacola is a second rate soda that a lot people drink, and it goes on. A lot of people in Texas drink at bars, so the bars make a ton of money, and those bars don’t like to be inspected or checked for drugs or human trafficking or prostitution so they pay Rick Perry to keep TABC (my dad works for them) impotent and undermanned. People in my home state of Louisiana like having politicians with “character” like Davey Duke and Huey Long, so they keep electing them, and the politicians keep tucking away money from taxes for themselves, never bothering to fix levees or build something more substantial to protect their most famous city from floods. And those people also love not bothering to ask for help when its clear that the situation is going to be well out of their ability to deal with it.

    The problem of today is our lack of tradition has made a void, and we fill it with material wealth. This is why “rigid capitalism” (term of Pope John Paul II) and communism both fail. They both center the condition for human flourishing purely in material possessions. Democrats and Republicans both talk nonstop about taxes and jobs. They are important obviously (material wealth matters) but they miss the question at hand. Capitalism works, when it is properly and continuously culturally reformed, and the question of that culture is what is missing. Rigid capitalism, Laissez Faire capitalism, aren’t what our nation operates under, or at least it hasn’t been official for about 100 years. They starve people and destroy societies because they are reducive to material gain alone, with no consideration for moral action. Culture, tradition, faith don’t pay taxes or gain huge short term overheads, so in the old system they must not matter, and from that we got industrialized slavery-millions of human beings turned into farm equipment for profit gains, whereas before slavery was about land control, debts or other things, its no more right but the issue changed in the Western format. The bringing in of industry as mechanized industry merely meant that you could work a field with one person rather than hundreds, and if that one person so much as looked at your wrong you could replace him with anyone else and for cheaper as well.

    Long story short, I think we are heading back down that path regardless of what party is in charge, because our values, traditions, cultures have become so degenerated that we no longer care how many kids slave away to make our shoes. There are riots in England because the incredibly cheap university education has to become more expensive. If there were no cops or locked doors on royal cars I’m fairly sure we would be seeing headlines now of a French Revolution styled royal murder. People become so accustomed to what they are given, they feel entitled to it, to the point that it is their only reason for sane living and not breaking out into mindless violence.

    People feel entitled to unemployed benefits ( I worked with many who admitted to living off of them and then getting paid under teh table by others, apparently benefits pay well) or to welfare, Enron execs feel entitled to their mansions, husbands and wives feel entitled to their “good times” lives that children and marriage just get in the way of, kids feel entitled to television and a free ride with no consequences.

    So politicians are going to feel entitled to furthering their stock value regardless of the cost to their constituents, and some of those constituents feel entitled to what politicians give them for a bargain regardless of the costs elsewhere. People today feel entitled to not have to deal with reality or consequences. Its like a kid blaming his parents because the kid sat on the couch all his life and now has heart conditions. Either the government gets too involved or it doesn’t get involved enough, mostly that comes down to whose in charge and their popularity. I think government as a check on ethics of markets is a good thing, because it establishes a culture of responsibility outside of the boardroom bottom line. There is a law above the CEO rulebook, as there is a law above human desire. However, I also believe people make choices, and need to make free ones, and government needs to step back and keep space for culture, choice, and responsibility of the individual for their actions. A child isn’t a “choice” like buying a car, its a responsibility. The state can’t control such things, or at least it shouldn’t be relied on to, otherwise the state will become relied for things beyond its grasp.

    I’m rambling again, but my point (again) is that we’ve stopped looking at responsibility outside of ourselves. The liberals would say “of course, because we refuse to give money to the needy!”, the conservatives would say “Of course, because we refuse to earn our keep, clear our debts, and hold to our families!” and some say both (Roman Catholics, smart ones anyway). Extremes of both sides are actually the same thing, looking out for “number one”, whether its forcing charity because “the rich don’t need everything they have” or denying charity because “its mine and I’ll do what I want with it.” Both are selfish, wealth doesn’t come out of nowhere, its earned, while existing in a community means you exist with others, not in spite of them. There has to be balance, and our founding fathers tried balance in their construction of this country, to channel self interest into positive benefit. Whether they succeeded or were doing the right thing is another topic entirely, but I think, because of our oligarchic/democratic culture (Plato’s terms, I can flesh those out if anyone wants) we’ve lost the balance and naturally so have our politicians. They only need to care about getting reelected, not about what the people NEED versus what they want, or what their values are at all, and the people reelect them with no regard to their real job performance so why does it matter anyway?

    Voting can be positive, for me its been a case by case basis, but I think the problem lies more at home. I don’t worry about Global warming because a) the science is all over the place on if its real or not, and I don’t have the time to do it myself, b) because its usually a buzzword for activism and marketing that Al Gore mastered, and c) because its more important to clean the local river and repair canyon trails, which are closer and are definitely effected by pollution. Conservatism is based on Subsidiarity, that things should be handled at the most local possible level, pollution is like that and I think culture, tradition, which guide politics and law are like that as well. I don’t shut my eyes but I can’t worry too much about California self destructing, I have enough to worry about here. I’m basically making the same point you are about volunteering.

    Ramble ramble ramble ramble ramble………