Weekly Roundup, November 28-December 4, 2011

by Blueberry T

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cain Denies He Had 13-Year Affair

As Patrick so eloquently put it, “Herman Cain is as guilty as a puppy sitting next to a pile of poo. His fifteen minutes are over.” [H/T “Blackadder”] Cain certainly is getting a lot of practice lying through his smiling teeth, though. As several readers commented, isn’t it remarkable that, when it comes to allegations of affairs, all those “family values” Republicans say that what happens behind their own closed doors is private and nobody’s else’s business?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Corporate Personhood, Part 3

This is the final part of Nomad’s outstanding series on how corporate personhood came into being; the earlier posts are here and here. He recounts the history of how the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of rights to all “persons” was extended to corporations, not through a decision of the Supreme Court but through a headnote appended to a decision in which the justices “avoided meeting the Constitutional question” about corporate personhood. While the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly refers to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” it makes no mention whatsoever of corporations. Nomad has put together a remarkable history, which has risen to huge importance due to the Citizens United decision, which expands corporate power exponentially. That the judicial interpretations are built upon such a shaky legal foundation needs to be better known, so thanks to Nomad for helping to educate us and others about this. I find it especially ironic that the same justices who have expanded corporate rights claim to be “strict constructionists,” yet these decisions are not based on the Constitution and go far beyond anything framed or intended by the Founders.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Calls to Drop “Aiding the Enemy” Charge Against Bradley Manning

Kathleen brings us up-to-date on the story of Bradley Manning, whose leak of information to Wikileaks led to his imprisonment and inhumane treatment, which went on for months until public pressure finally resulted in improved conditions for his incarceration. Now, his lawyer is seeking to have the most serious charge against him dropped. He is charged with “aiding the enemy,” although several agencies have now concluded that the information he passed on did not pose any threat to national security. The post includes links to Ennealogic’s earlier posts on this topic, as well as to a petition calling for the most serious charges to be dropped.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Amateur Hour at Cain Campaign

This was Herman Cain’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. Amid the swirling accusations from more and more women of sexual harassment and infidelity, his campaign dreamt up the brilliant idea of having a website called Women for Cain, highlighted with a photo of four cute young women signaling “thumbs up.” Only problem was that the four young women were German models and the photo was from a stock photo agency. When you can’t even get four real supporters to use for a testimonial, that kind of says it all… Patrick kept updating the post throughout the day, as things devolved into pure comedy including “Weasels for Cain” and Azure Ghost’s great poster of Sarah as Elmo. Good times!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Live-Streaming and Live-Blogging Herman Cain’s Quitting Speech

Saturday afternoon turned out to be very entertaining, with Kathleen setting up a live stream of Herman “Herb” Cain’s pomp and circumstances announcement, complete with hand-holding and cheering by his standing-by-his-side wife. After much hoopla, he made the anti-climactic announcement that he is aborting his campaign in favor of Plan B. (Great inside joke, Hermie, hahahahahaha…) He came to this decision because “politics is a dirty business” but of course the allegations are “false and unproven” – repeated at least 3 or 4 times, IMO a sure sign that they are in fact true. He claimed that he’ll still be influential through the Plan B website, and apparently closed with a poem from Pokemon (WTF? Rachel Maddow was right about the performance art, it seems). The parallels with Palin’s ignorance and incompetence and her Quitter Speech were not lost on any of our readers, of course.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Palin’s “Red Bathrobe”/Elmo Impersonator Interview

H/T Annes_123

It’s hard to imagine that Sarah Palin could one-up her own previous fashion disasters, but indeed she has outdone even the purple velvet boots and hooker jacket. She appeared on national TV wearing what appeared to be either a red bathrobe or an Elmo costume! As if that wasn’t bad enough, her wig was sliding backwards again so her own hair was visible under it, her eyebrows were so high that looked like they were trying to climb up under the wig, and all this was happening in front of a pitiful little Christmas tree that conveyed gloom rather than cheer. Wow! Combine this absurd appearance with the content of the interview, including more rambling word salad, and it seems that Palin is slipping farther into mental illness. Whoever was on the other side of that camera (presumably Todd) seems to want her to look like a fool on national TV – how else is it possible that anyone would let her go on looking so ridiculous? We’ve said it many times before, but it is truer than ever – she needs an intervention to get treatment for her mental illness.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Leadfoot’s Wake-Up Call to America

The graphics in Leadfoot’s post tell an AMAZING story of staggering income inequity that makes most of us “tiny dots” compared to the huge balloon representing the salary of a Fortune 500 CEO – a mere 269X the income of the average worker in America. And where does the federal budget go? Very small amounts of the discretionary spending budget go to HHS; at the same time, the Republicans have [IMO deliberately] built an enormous debt due to the unfunded costs of two wars, tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug program. BBT editorializing: this level of inequity is what leads to social revolutions, because the discrepancy between rich and everyone else is just too huge and the pathways to build a comfortable life through honest work are shut down or, to choose a more apt word, “foreclosed.”

Some Comments and Links:

Notafaux: You are not alone, zane1. Bill Clinton is simply unable to keep his mouth shut (I think he believes he IS “the Big Dog,” the smartest person in the room–a trait he shares with Newt Gingrich, btw). This is probably the best evidence that Hillary Clinton could not have been an effective president. He would be interfering in every policy decision and spouting off constantly. HRC would spend most of her time doing damage control.

Sunnyjane: Bill Clinton has a huge ego and is often a big blowhard. However, he’s not stupid. Just think about it: he made these statements to a RIGHT WING media outlet and he may be trying to subliminally suggest that Gingrich should be the GOP candidate for 2012. President Obama would slaughter Newt — he has too many skeletons and is too far right for most people in this country. He loves to come off as the elder statesman, but he’s nothing but a liar, a crook, and a less than stellar family values man.

Peacepax: I actually agree with something Cain said. “I have a feeling this is going to hurt my family more than my campaign.” Herb, your campaign only exists in your head.

Linda1961: Dear gop, please stop whining about family values.

Cheeriogirl: Do we give the Cain marriage nine months, nine weeks, or nine days?

Older_Wiser: LA worries about people camping on the lawn, when so much more damage has been done by the 1% to our natural resources and to us, to our health, the environment, the integrity of the planet. Grass grows back; those resources are gone forever, into the belly of the beast. We are a country more concerned about appearances–our rate of consumption proves that–than the rights and welfare of all of us, in spite of fancy rhetoric and feigned concern.

Toccaro: When my daughter found out Cain had Secret Service detail, she pondered aloud, “shouldn’t the Secret Service be guarding the women instead of Cain?”

JCos: How do government agencies assess aiding the enemy?
By how much it helped Bush and Cheney bankrupt the country?
By how many factories were built in China?
By how many foreign armies were armed and trained by the Pentagon?
Or, do they assess aiding the enemy by how many diplomats were embarrassed?

MadamDeal: Has anyone seen Elmo lately? I’m a little worried she borrowed that varmint gun and took five shots.

Peacpax: Oh, Sarah, Do you know what happens when you kiss a canary? You get a canarial disease called chirpies, And it’s untweetable.

ProChoiceGrandma: The GOPers and Teabaggers keep saying they want to take our country back, but what they mean is backwards to the good ol’ days of the 1930’s Great Depression.

Gaters send many ((())) to NYCgirl and CaliGirl22.

Marionetta pointed out this excellent video on OWS by Miley Cyrus. Who knew?

Found on Twitter: Matt Taibbi’s excellent article on Judge Rakoff’s decision holding the SEC to account for its sweetheart deals with Wall Street criminals.

Zane1 linked to this wonderful interview with Scott Olsen, the US Marine veteran who was shot in the head with a tear gas canister by Oakland PD.

MadamDeal pointed out this article in Politico on “Newt, Inc.”

Cheeriogirl and mmboucher posted this link to Forbes on the Bomb in Obamacare.

Patrick and others found this great article in Der Spiegel on the Republican ignoramuses (ignorami?).

Older_Wiser made an excellent comment on gender-bias in language and linked to this.

The Last Word: Scott Olsen, US Marine injured at Occupy Oakland: “Stay peaceful, because that’s what this is about. It’s about working with one another and it’s about being open with each other, and that’s how we can solve our problems.”


Middle Class Americans: You are a Tiny Dot

by Leadfoot_LA

(Click to enlarge)
I found this really helpful graphic at MoveOn.org. And by helpful, I mean, it made me feel like crap. Even as someone who falls between the second and third blue dots, I was still shocked by what a speck I am when compared to the 1%.
Can someone please explain to me WHY we have not yet repealed the BushTax Cuts on the Wealthy? We are inthe worst economic situation of our time. How have we not made this very simple and critical adjustment?
This is a graphic going around Facebook that illustrates it well:
Why do I keep hearing people complain every single day that their tax dollars are being wasted on greedy welfare recipients? Listen, teabaggers, you know how much of your tax money is spent on health and human services? SIX PERCENT!

So why on earth do you spend 100% of your time complaining about it? Look at that tiny, almost microscopic blue dot on the grid above. Does that look fun to you? Does that look like a CHOICE anyone would WANT to make?
Don’t you think that it would make more sense to focus your energies on the GIANT green dot instead? You are worried about your money going to others. LOOK AT THE DOTS. Far more of your money is going to the giant green dot. And you’d have far more money of your own if you spent your time and energy stopping corruption in that greendot, than in the microscopic one. Why is this hard to understand?
I can’t wait until 2012 when the tea party disappears forever. Then we will all need these to wash the bad taste out of our mouths.

Sarah Palin in "red bathrobe" on Sean Hannity, Fox News: No, I won’t get back into presidential race, "we have a good slate of candidates" – UPDATE

By Patrick
In one of her most memorable interviews on Fox News recently, Sarah Palin not only was wearing what looked like a red bathrobe, but also made a few noteworthy statements which are absolute proof that Sarah Palin knows very well that her career as a political celebrity is over. Unfortunately, many of her fanatical fans on Conservatives4Palin, who will probably stalk her to the end of her days, still haven’t realized it yet, as numerous comments show.

This interview should be the final blow to C4P’s desperate “reconsider” efforts. In fact, it appears that C4P has already started to quietly “purge” articles on their website which deal with their own “reconsider movement”, because for example a link to an article by Nicole Coulter on C4P about this topic, which was mentioned in an article on “Congress Arizona”, doesn’t work anymore – the link gives a “Page not Found” error.
The cached page at C4P of the deleted article from November 28, titled “Ian Lazaran Talks to Neil Cavuto About the Iowa Reconsider Ad” is still available, which shows that it’s not a “bad link”, but that the article was in fact deleted from the C4P website. The tweet in which C4P linked to this article is also still available.
In the “red bathrobe interview” with Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin says, for example, that “today, my personal endorsement probably doesn’t amount to a hill of beans at this point in the race” (at 1:20)
Asked by Sean Hannity point blank at 6:00 in the interview whether there is “any part of you that wishes you maybe did get in” (the presidential race), Sarah Palin answers with one of her epic word salads:

“No, I mean, I have the fire in my belly to see this country put back on the right track, however I can do to help us get there, I want to do that, but, you know we have a good slate of candidates and at the end of the day it will be that GOP constitutional conservative candidate whom we do need to support, we need to back this person up and let them know that we will make them adhere to what they have promised us as a candidate in order to get the country back on the right track and with sudden and relentless reform change the way Congress and the White House is conducting our business.”

So she wanted to express is that her fanatical fans can get stuffed, because Sarah doesn’t see herself as a politician any more, but as a “pundit”, as she says at one point in the interview.
Sarah Palin skeletons in the closet caught up with her, and she knows that the closet will be opened in case she decided to run for president.
Regarding her appearance, Sarah Palin’s red bathrobe is possibly not the most unusual thing in the world for housewives in Wasilla to wear, but still a noteworthy event when it comes to national television. Screenshot:
Sarah Palin - Red Bathrobe
Our wonderful reader Azure Ghost has her own take on Sarah Palin’s appearance in the interview:

Sarah Palin Elmo

Thank you, Azure Ghost! What an amazing resemblance.

I found an interesting new piece of information:

C4P posted a clip with a radio interview of Sean Hannity with Sarah Palin, which happened yesterday after the “red bathrobe” interview. From about 4:15 in the clip, they talk about how you can prove or disprove that you had an affair, and Palin then starts to talk about the fact that she herself was also subject to similar allegations (Brad Hanson). Sarah then says:

“What I have done is that I have gone to the person who supposedly I had the affair with, which of course never happened, and the gentleman he made a statement along with me saying it never happened. We, we proved it, it’s a done deal, the affair never happened.”


But wait a moment! Never ever was there a “joint statement” by Sarah Palin and Brad Hanson. When the National Enquirer first published the allegations in 2008, Sarah was absolutely quiet and said nothing. Sarah is just making up stuff again.

But that she (possibly with Todd, her husband and enforcer) paid Brad Hanson a visit and pressured him into denying the affair, that I would believe immediately!
However, Sarah Palin’s outrageous lie is even worse, because:
After Joe McGinniss then repeated the allegation this year in his brilliant book “The Rogue” that Sarah Palin had a sexual affair with Brad Hanson (an allegation which according to our own sources in Alaska is absolutely correct!), Brad Hanson finally did publish a longer statement, denying the affair. Or didn’t he?
The National Enquirer had its doubts, and wrote in September 2011:

BUT did Hanson actually say and approve that statement?

When ENQUIRER reporter ALAN BUTTERFIELD went to speak to Hanson yesterday at his home in Alaska, Hanson seemed surprised that an official statement had been issued on his behalf.

Butterfield said Hanson appeared perplexed and confused when asked about the statement.

After being asked several times if he had released the statement, Hanson finally told Butterfield: “I think so,” and then he added, “Let me know what you think about it.”

A “joint statement” exists only in Sarah Palin’s head. What does seem to exist is a statement by Brad Hanson which was actually put out by the Palin camp for him.

Good for Sarah Palin that she is not running for president. Her closet was filled with secrets and was just about to burst. She pulled the plug at the right moment, and she knows it’s “Game Over” for her.

Herman Cain Campaign Announcement Live Stream – UPDATE: Herman Cain is out, says he "suspends" his presidential campaign

By Kathleen

Today Herman Cain a GOP Presidential candidate will reveal the status of his campaign for the White House or whether he has decided to end it after a series of allegations of sexual harassment from Sharon Bialek, and others. Further accusations against Cain have been made by Atlanta businesswoman, Ginger White, who has claimed that she and Cain engaged in a thirteen year extra-marital affair during which time he gave her cash, gifts and flew her to events around the country.

Just yesterday, Herman Cain’s campaign caused huge embarrassment again when they chose to use a stock photo of female models for the logo of the new website “Women for Cain”, instead of using real supporters. The campaign then removed the photo and only several hours later substituted it with a photo of Herman Cain and his wife Gloria.

The announcement and press conference start time is due at 12 p.m. ET in Atlanta, Georgia. A live stream video has been embedded below.

If the ustream does not work then please use the direct link to C-Span which is covering the event live.




It has just been reported that Herman Cain’s announcement will take place between 12.30 and 01.00 ET.


In order to have some fun while we are waiting, here is again: “Herman Cain’s 1986 Sexual Harassment Training”:




Herman Cain is out! He said that he “suspends” his presidential campaign.

At the speech, Herman Cain announced that his presidential campaign is over, but he also “unveiled” a new website, www.thecainsolutions.com, which only has some rudimentary content so far:
Cain solutions website

Herman Cain’s new website "Women for Cain": Supporters who give "thumbs up" in website logo are "stock photo models" from Germany – UPDATE!

By Patrick
Herman Cain’s rapidly descending career reaches a new low point: The adulterer and compulsive liar Herman Cain today opened a new section at his website with the curious name “Women for Cain.” It’s of course not supposed to be Herman’s private dating website, but a place on his website where female fans can express their unwavering support for Herman Cain – like for example Priscilla Wooten from Georgia, who is quoted saying:

“Mr. Cain, please do not step down. You are exactly what this country needs to get us back on track, from the disaster that presently sits in our oval office. From the 1st time I saw you in Douglasville Ga,I knew that I wanted you to be my President. Stand strong, sir.”

An initial research of the women leaving comments at “Women for Cain” reveals that a lot of them have connections to the Tea Party (surprise, surprise). We looked some of the women up on the internet, and they often seem to be member of the “Tea Party Patriots” or work as “Tea Party Organizers”. In some cases they seem to have donated large sums (for example $ 3,000 in one case) to Herman Cain’s campaign.

While the creation of this website is already embarrassing enough on the limitless “GOP embarrassment scale”, another big cock-up (pardon my language) has been discovered. I cannot claim credit for this discovery, as it happened in the comments to an article about Cain’s new website at TPM. Ever since Herman Cain’s infamous and much parodied “smoking campaign advert” has been published, it should be clear to everyone that Herman Cain’s campaign staff obviously consists of a bunch of amateurs. Today, we have more proof for this assumption.
In the logo of his new website “Women for Cain”, Herman Cain shows four smiling ladies who give the “thumbs-up”:
Women for Cain screenshot 1
I believe that Herman Cain’s website tries to give the impression that these four young ladies are true supporters of Herman Cain. I might be naive, but in my view, if you are a politician and show pictures of people giving you the “thumbs-up” at a prominent place of your website, even if these people are not named, they still should in fact be real supporters. Otherwise, you would just be running some kind of online shop, selling “yourself” as a product.
But it turns out that Herman Cain’s campaign doesn’t share my views.
The four ladies are not supporters of Herman Cain. In fact, that might not even have heard of him, as live far, far away – in good old Germany. Herman Cain’s campaign didn’t bother to find four real good-looking female supporters. In their rush to make Herman Cain more appealing to women (haha!), they instead simply used a commercial stock photo which was taken by a German photographer and which can be bought online at this website.

Herman Cain stock photo 2

Herman Cain stock photo photographer

Herman Cain stock photo 3
This just brilliantly embodies in my opinion what Herman Cain’s campaign is all about: The selling of an inept and deceptive candidate.
Herman, it’s time to go! Do yourself a favour and end this farce.

Literally minutes ago, the stock photo has been removed – and left a gaping hole on Herman Cain’s website.
Women for Cain - screenshot 3

Women for Cain - screenshot 4
You have seen “Women for Cain” – but why be one-sided? It was only a matter of minutes or hours, and now it’s online: “Men for Cain.”
Men for Cain 1


Herman Cain’s 1986 Sexual Harassment Training – Learn about the “NEIN NEIN NEIN” rule!


Herman Cain’s campaign finally found the right photo to “plug the whole” on the “Women for Cain” website, after the German stock models had disappeared. Why look around for fake or real female supporters, when you could use a photo of your wife smiling in the camera (pictured together with yourself):
Women for Cain - NEW LOGO
So all is good again. Apart from the curious fact that Gloria Cain did not know about the 13-year “friendship” with Ginger White and the fact that the Daily Beast just yesterday published a bombshell article, claiming that the marriage of the Cains is, well, a little bit different:

The Cain campaign denied any strife in the marriage, but one campaign worker speaking anonymously said that Cain doesn’t want to quit because he doesn’t want to be seen as a loser.

No matter what happens to Cain’s presidential aspirations, sources close to his family say the accusations of infidelity have already taken a significant toll on an already strained marriage.

A close friend of one Cain’s two children explained that Herman and Gloria Cain’s marriage has seen its share of trouble over the years and his attraction to other women always played a huge role in the friction.

“It never felt like a real marriage when I was around them,’’ says the friend. “Mostly he was always gone and his wife seemed to be OK with it. Not being together seemed the norm for their marriage, and Gloria didn’t seem to mind. His kids didn’t seem to mind either. ’’

The friend noted that when Cain was around, he seemed completely in his own world.

“He was king of his castle and no one questioned him,’’ says the friend. “It was an uncomfortable set-up for an outsider like me to be around. He was so indifferent to everyone. But I liked Gloria. She was warm and kind.”

Several people who know the Cain family say Gloria and Herman have even lived in separate residences over the years. “They stayed together for good face. They’re old school where you stay just because. Herman likes to give the appearance of living this holier-than-thou life. But it’s anything but,” says someone close to the family.

Cain told Fox News that his wealth allowed him to give money to both men and women in need and certainly had no romantic implications. Ginger White, who says she had a 13-year affair with Cain, also said he gave her money and supported her throughout their relationship. Cain later admitted that his wife had no idea he was supporting White financially.

While Cain denies an affair with White, many in Atlanta can’t seem to remember seeing the Cains out together very often. Lowery says he saw Cain out and about in Atlanta over the years, but rarely ever with his wife.

“I can’t say I remember seeing the two of them being out together,’’ says Lowery. “I’d see him at conferences and other church-related functions from time to time. I even heard him sing a few times, but I never saw him with Gloria.’’

Another family friend says Gloria Cain was never a fan of her husband’s “look at me’’ tendencies or his run for office, even though Cain assured her it wouldn’t require much of her physically or emotionally. He was wrong.

“This is a very arrogant man,’’ says the friend. “It probably never occurred to him that all these women would eventually come out. It’s funny to see him talk about the toll on his wife. He never thought of that before.’’

Well, it’s not know yet whether the trainwreck which is Herman Cain’s campaign will move on, or whether he will throw the towel. Given the level of arrogance displayed so far by Herman Cain, he might very well continue. Which would be a good thing from my point of view, because Herman Cain’s campaign has been a constant source for parody and entertainment.

Speaking of parody – one of our readers had another good idea for a Herman Cain support site: “Weasels for Cain.”
Weasels for Cain
More parody, this time not related to Herman Cain, but concerning Sarah Palin – who mercifully began her inevitable decline into obscurity. Yesterday, Sarah Palin again appeared on Hannity (click here for video) and was wearing, well, something that looked like a red bathrobe. Which is possibly not the most unusual thing in the world for housewives in Wasilla to wear, but still a noteworthy event when it comes to national television. This is a screenshot from the interview:
Sarah Palin - Red Bathrobe
Our wonderful reader Azure Ghost has her own take on Sarah Palin’s appearance in the interview:

Sarah Palin Elmo

Thank you, Azure Ghost! What an amazing resemblance.

Bradley Manning Appeal — Drop the "Aiding the Enemy" Charges

By Kathleen

I’d like to share an email that I received last night regarding Bradley Manning, the soldier who has been accused of leaking information that allegedly posed a serious threat to United States security. New information reveals that some government agencies have reached the decision that the information that Manning is alleged to have leaked did not pose a threat to national security. If you haven’t already signed the petition by FireDogLake urging the government to drop the charges against Manning then please consider doing so.

You can find the link in the email below or here. Thank you.



After 18 long months, the military has scheduled a pre-trial hearing for accused Wikileaker PFC Bradley to decide if they will move forward with prosecuting him on over 2 dozen counts. Among them, Manning faces the ludicrous charge of “aiding the enemy,” which carries a potential life sentence.1

Manning’s attorney David Coombs is pursuing conflicting damage assessments by government agencies, some of which concluded that the information he’s alleged to have leaked did not pose a serious threat to national security.2 Such findings would go a long way to showing exactly how absurd and unfounded the “aiding the enemy” charge is.

More than 17,000 Firedoglake activists have demanded the U.S. government drop the ‘aiding the enemy’ charges against Pfc. Manning and with the pre-trial hearing about to begin, we need to strengthen our campaign. Can you please sign our petition demand these charges be dropped?

Sign the petition demanding the government drop aiding the enemy charges against Bradley Manning.

Click here to read the letter: http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/manning_enemies

Manning’s pre-trial hearing should last 5 days, at which time his attorney David Coombs will attack the notion that the 250,000 diplomatic cables he’s alleged to have leaked online posed a serious threat to national security. If disproved, the government’s pursuit of these weighty charges are wildly disproportionate to the severity of the crime he’s alleged to have committed.

The defense is requesting access to multiple, conflicting damage assessments performed by the State and Defense departments, as well as the White House, that found these leaks were not as damaging as the government had initially claimed.3

Some assessments found the leaked information was “either dated, represented low-level opinions, or was already commonly understood and known due to previous public disclosures,” while others alleged a profound negative impact on national security and foreign policy relations.4

Coombs will also probe the government’s appalling mistreatment of Manning during his confinement at Quantico, where he was held in solitary confinement for months on a controversial “Prevention of Injury” order in highly restrictive conditions. Among the evidence his defense has requested is video of Manning’s nightly forced stripping and interrogation by brig officials.5

Firedoglake has been covering the Bradley Manning story for over a year now. Our very own Jon Walker will be at the pre-trial hearing in DC on December 16th to report on the proceedings at Firedoglake.com. The government’s secrecy in this case has been deplorable and FDL will shine a light on these proceedings as the trial moves forward.

Manning’s pre-trial hearing is just a few weeks away. Can you sign our petition and demand these charges be dropped?

Sign the petition demanding the government drop aiding the enemy charges against Bradley Manning.

Click here to read the letter: http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/manning_enemies

It was thanks to the steadfast determination of activists, that the government eventually caved and moved Manning from his tortuous conditions at Quantico to Ft. Leavenworth. Now that Manning will finally have his day in court, it’s time to step up once again.

I look forward to working with you once again to stand up for Bradley Manning’s rights.

In Solidarity,
Brian Sonenstein
Director of Online Activism

1. Military Finally Schedules a Date for Bradley Manning’s Pre-Trial Hearing, Kevin Gosztola, FDL Dissenter, 11/21/2011.

2. Manning Defense Evidence Request, David Coombs, 11/22/11.

3. Feds Withholding Evidence Favorable to Bradley Manning, Lawyer Charges, Kim Zetter, Wired – Threat Level, 11/28/2011.

4. Manning Defense Evidence Request, David Coombs, 11/22/11.

5. Ibid


Our contributor, Ennealogic, wrote several must read posts regarding Bradley Manning which included lots of links and information. You can read them here:



How Corporate Personhood Came into Being 3/3

by Nomad

In the previous two posts, I have charted the rise of the modern corporation in the United States and, how they quickly collected power into the hands of a few. I also attempted to show how that power was used to eliminate its rivals, namely the Southern Confederacy and to corner the market on America’s most valuable commodity, cotton.
Now it’s time I returned to my original question. How did corporations come to be thought of as equal to human beings, in terms of civil rights? Where did this strange notion that “corporations are people too (my friends)” originate?
To that question, I was offered this single clue, but from an unquestionable source.

Sotomayor’s Remark

A news item about a “provocative” comment during the discussion on the Citizens United decision from one of the dissenting Supreme Court justices, Sonia Maria Sotomayer, recently caught my eye. While debating the issue of corporations, specifically, about imposing limits on political spending, the conservative members of the bench were in agreement about the corporations’ right to freedom of speech. This was based on the supposition that corporations are endowed with the same rights given to citizens, according to earlier precedent rulings. Here is the report of the remark:

The court’s majority conservatives agreed that corporations have broad First Amendment rights and that “recent precedents upholding limits on corporate political spending should be overruled.” However, Sotomayor disagreed, and said the court should reconsider the 19th century rulings that first afforded corporations the same rights as real, live people.

Judges “created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons,” she said. “There could be an argument made that that was the court’s error to start with…[imbuing] a creature of state law with human characteristics.” [emphasis mine]

The word “provocative” never fails to pique my interest so I began hunting down the 19th century the Justice was referring to. It may surprise you- as it did me- to learn that the judicial scaffolding upon which the Citizens United case is supported is in fact quite flimsy.

The main precedent which has been referred to time and time again when considering corporate personhood dates back to a Supreme Court case in 1886. Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 118 U.S. 394 , was a matter of corporate tax law. Specifically whether, in light of certain changes to the California constitution, a corporation had “the right to deduct the amount of their debts [i.e., mortgages] from the taxable value of their property, a right which was given to individuals.”

Fascinating? Well, no, not really.

When the California authorities, namely California Board of Equalization, attempted to impose and to recover the delinquent taxes on the Southern Pacific Railroad, the directors of the corporation blankly refused. It was not a small matter to the county- as well as other counties in similar circumstances with the railroad. Any success at recouping the massive losses in tax revenue stemming from Southern Pacific’s refusal to pay would have been a substantial windfall. When the lower courts ruled in favor of the railroad, Santa Clara County filed a writ of error to the federal court and pursued the case all the way to the Supreme Court. It seemed like a wise move for the county; the local courts were tainted with the kind of cozy relationships in which justice is suffocated in its crib.

For example, Charles Crocker had been President of Southern Pacific Railroad prior to this case coming to the courts. Later, while the Central Pacific was still under construction, Crocker and his associates acquired control of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1868.

Charles Crocker was the younger brother of Edwin B. Crocker, who in 1863 was appointed Justice of the California Supreme Court by the then-governor Leland Stanford (California’s first Republican governor). A year later, Justice Crocker agreed to serve as legal council for Central Pacific. If that doesn’t make a convincing case of conflict of interest, then consider this: When Central Pacific and Southern Pacific became one and the the same, the former governor Stanford would later take over as president of Southern Pacific Company from 1885 until 1890. Later, he served in the United States Senate from 1885 until his death in 1893.

When corporations, politics and the justice system are so tightly interwoven, how could anybody expect a fair decision?

Corporations, Roscoe Conkling and the Fourteenth Amendment

And so the debate moved to the Supreme Court. On one side, S.W. Sanderson, a former judge, who had made a fortune by litigating for the railroads, was matched on the opposing side by Delphin M. Delmas, who, as one source notes, had always worked on behalf of local California governments and, later, as a criminal defense attorney. Incidentally, he had passionately and single-handedly argued pro bono before the California legislature for a law to protect the nation’s last remaining redwood forests.

Testifying in behalf of the railroads was the one of the most powerful politicians of his time for the most powerful state in the Union, Roscoe Conkling. His name may not mean too much today but in his time, Conkling was a man whose name carried weight. I compiled this information from his biography:
Conkling served in both the U.S. House (1859–63 and 1865–67) and the U.S. Senate (1867–81). Conkling twice turned down nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court, including a confirmed nomination in 1882. In the Senate, he fought ferociously for the continuation of political patronage—the system whereby elected officials appoint individuals to positions in the civil service and other areas of governments—and against the civil service reform efforts that would have ended it. It’s that crony capitalism Palin talks about. His political machine in New York State was, according to his principal biographer, “one of the wonders of the age.”

As he had done in testifying for preceding railroad cases, Conkling attempted to convince the court that railroads should be allowed equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Equal Protection clause applied, he argued, applied to corporate entities as well as natural persons. The amendment, which had always appeared to have been written in regards to the newly freed slaves, states:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This amendment to the Constitution gave the rights of citizenship- with all its protections- to all persons born or naturalization in the United States. Clearly there is no direct mention of corporations. Despite that, The corporation owners, mostly from the railroads, decided that the power that they possessed was too limited. So, according to the theory, they devised a rather remarkable plan to subvert the amendment protecting the rights of the freed slaves. William Meyers in The Santa Clara Blues: Corporate Personhood versus Democracy, gives this excellent summary of the background:
Their lawyers came up with the idea that corporations, which might be said to be groups of persons (though one person might in turn belong to (own stock in) many corporations), should have the same constitutional rights as persons themselves. If they could get the courts to agree that corporations were persons, they could assert that the States, which had chartered the corporations, would then be constrained by the 14th Amendment from exercising power over the corporations.

Beginning in the 1870’s corporate lawyers began asserting that corporations were persons with many of the rights of natural persons. It should be understood that the term “artificial person” was already in long use, with no mistake that corporations were claiming to have the rights of natural persons. “Artificial person” was used because there were certain resemblances, in law, between a natural person and corporations. Both could be parties in a lawsuit; both could be taxed; both could be constrained by law. In fact the corporations had been called artificial persons by courts in England as early as the 16th century because lawyers for the corporations had asserted they could not be convicted under the English laws of the time because the laws were worded “No person shall…”
The need to be freed from legislative and judicial constraints, combined with the use of the word “person” in the U.S. Constitution and the concept of the “artificial person,” led to the argument that these “artificial persons” were “persons” with an inconsequential “artificial” adjective appended. If it could be made so, if the courts would accept that corporations were among the “persons” talked about by the U.S. Constitution, then the corporations would gain considerably more leverage against legal restraint.
These arguments were made by corporate lawyers at the State level, in court after court, and many judges, being former corporate attorneys and usually at least moderately wealthy themselves, were sympathetic to any argument that would strengthen corporations. There was a national campaign to get the legal establishment to accept that corporations were persons. This culminated in the Santa Clara decision of 1886, which has been used as the precedent for all rulings about corporate personhood since then.
Conkling, in particular, had an unquestionable influence on the court because of his direct involvement in the drafting of the amendment some 20 years earlier in the years following the Civil War. As a congressman, Conkling served on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction which rafted the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution back in 1868. That committee had been controlled by the Radical Republicans and had required southern states to approve that amendment before being readmitted to representation in Congress.

And this is where suspicious begin to creep in to the story.

To support his claims Conkling even brought what he claimed to be notebooks written by the framers of the amendment. However, in “The ‘Conspiracy Theory’ of the Fourteenth Amendment” in The Yale Law Journal in 1938, Howard Jay Graham wrote that the notebook evidence Conkling offered the court, which purported to show that that the committee had vacillated between the terms “citizen” when referring to the non-economic Privileges or Immunities clause, and “person” in reference to Due Process and Equal Protection. The impression he tried to create in the minds of the judges was that the framers had finally settled on “persons” in an effort to cover corporate “persons.”

However, what Graham discovered was that the word “citizen” had never been used in any of the due process-equal protection drafts, and that “person” had been used throughout. Graham concludes: “This part of Conkling’s argument was a deliberate, brazen forgery” The notebook used in his argument was displayed but never entered into evidence, nor apparently was it shown to anyone, nor was it saved.

On the whole, Conkling’s testimony might have been an interesting one but the court hesitated to take the bait. Unlike the Supreme Court of our times, the court of that day was not quite prepared to go beyond the issues brought before it. (Dissenting judges in the Citizens United case made this charge against the decision.)

In any event, The Court agreed with the railroad that the county had no jurisdiction and cited that the California constitution had denied “railroads and other quasi public corporations” equal protection of laws as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. They did not wish to debate the details of the amendment on what they considered a matter of tax law.

Nevertheless, the decision-making process was deeply flawed. Up until that time, there had been no ruling formally accepting that corporations would retain Fourteenth Amendment rights. Thus, when Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison Remick Waite announced orally, (before the arguments were ever even presented) that the Court then unanimously conceded corporations to be persons within the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause, his remark had no legal basis.

The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.

That’s it. That’s where corporate personhood began.

The matter was apparently never openly discussed. Neither side of the issue was weighed nor fairly represented. It might well have been decided by a toss of a coin for all we know. This crucial point- upon which the whole personhood debate rests- is all merely a matter of a private, undocumented agreement between judges. We must accept, then, that the matter was discussed privately among the justices but there is no record of it.
As Thom Hartmann uncovered in his book, Unequal Protection: The Rise of corporate Dominance and Theft of Human Rights, the task of giving a summary of the decision for the headnotes for the case fell to a man named John Chandler Bancroft Davis. He was no doubt confused about one fine point that had to be included in the headnote.

As Wikipedia informs us:

Preceding every case entry is a headnote, a short summary in which a court reporter summarizes the opinion as well as outlining the main facts and arguments. For example, in United States v. Detroit Timber Lumber Company (1906), headnotes are defined as “not the work of the Court, but are simply the work of the Reporter, giving his understanding of the decision, prepared for the convenience of the profession.

Bancroft Davis asked the Chief justice for clarification from the leader of the court,

“Please let me know whether I correctly caught your words and oblige.”

The reply was as remarkable as it was brief. Justice Waite responds:

“I think your mem. in the California Rail Road tax cases expresses with sufficient accuracy what was said before the arguments began. I leave it with you to determine whether anything need be said about it in the report inasmuch as we avoided meeting the Constitutional question in the decision.“[emphasis mine]

Thus the matter of corporate personhood left up to the discretion of a minor court reporter writing a summary headnote for a rather unremarkable case.

Later would come other cases to support what corporate lawyers took to be a precedent. Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad Co. v. Beckwith (1889) Supreme Court ruled a corporation is a “person” for both due process and equal protection, for example, and Noble v. Union River Logging R. Co. (1893) corporations. for the first time, had claim to the Bill of Rights. The 5th Amendment says: “. . . nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”And these cases, apparently, like Citizens United, were all based on a non-existent precedent, only referenced in a brief summary by a Court reporter.

Reactions and Objections
One obvious question is whether Chief Justice Waite’s statement whether it actually was unanimously agreed among the other judges that corporations were considered- according to the Fourteenth Amendment- “persons.” There’s no record of it except for the mention of it in the memo. The text of the decision, itself, refers only the corporations have similar rights as citizens in the matter at hand, property tax law, not in a civil context. It reads:

That the provisions of the constitution and laws of California, in respect to the assessment for taxation of the property of railway corporations operating railroads in more than one county, are in violation of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution, in so far as they require the assessment of their property at its full money value, without making deduction, as in the case of railroads operated in one county, and of other corporations, and of natural persons, for the value of the mortgages covering the property assessed; thus imposing upon the defendant unequal burdens, and to that extent denying to it the equal protection of the laws. [emphasis mine]

Another-perhaps more obvious- point:

If the Reconstruction committee (which had originally drafted the amendment) had wished to include the word “corporations” in their amendment, there was nothing obstructing them from doing so. Such divination might be perfectly acceptable for readings of the ancient texts like the Bible, or in documents that pre-dated the context, like the Constitution, but in this case, all of the members of the committee were familiar with corporations. And yet they did not see fit to mention them while composing the draft. So, there is really no valid reason for attempting to read other meanings into the choice of words, and no need for later re-interpretation.

In fact, as Graham pointed out, John A. Bingham, principle framer, employed these guarantees specifically and in a context which suggested that free Negroes and mulattoes (rather than corporations and business enterprise) unquestionably were the persons’ to which he then referred. Whatever the lawyers for the railroad companies might have argued, there is no evidence to support their views.

If one wishes to pick at the amendment and attempt to divine secret messages in the text unnecessarily, it can easily work in the opposite direction. As the amendment states that “All persons born or naturalized..” and that opening definitely calls into question whether corporations were ever intended to be included since corporations are neither born nor naturalized, but chartered and founded. They are, after all, man-made creations made by individuals with individual civil rights. Corporations are not born any more than a foundation or a workers’ union is born.

Would Republicans, like Mitt Romney, be willing to argue to a snickering crowd that other human-formed organizations are people.. like unions? The Miner’s Union is a person? The Teamsters Union is person? 
So was this a case of conspiracy or merely an failure of the court? The whole matter of leaving a court reporter’s note as the only record of such an important issue seems highly suspicious.

The first direct charge of a conspiracy came in 1927 by historians Charles and Mary Beard in The Rise of the American Civilization. They proposed that, back in 1866, the certain members of the Joint Congressional Committee which drafted the Fourteenth Amendment, namely Ohio Congressman John A. Bingham, had conspired on behalf of corporations and with the careful use of terms has widened the scope well beyond its intended purpose. The evidence is not all that convincing; it is a charge which would certainly involve some impressive long term planning.

Still, it’s worth a closer look. The same people who demanded the harshest possible terms for the South, The Radical Republicans, were in control of the Commission that drafted the amendment. This faction, at least by the records available to us, seem to have been motivated by the highest ideals of abolishing slavery. Thaddeus Stevens, leader of the faction, had defended and supported cases involving various minorities, Native Americans, blacks and women. His out-spoken stand against slavery was well-known to all who knew him. His desire for the emancipation of the slaves, the desire to abolish slavery as a institution in the United Sates was genuine. The history of this movement began some thirty years before as ethical, moral and religious argument.

There is not enough evidence to indicate a conspiracy among the drafters of the amendment, as far as I can detect.

Of course, had they desired to assist corporations, they could easily have been more direct about it. The ambiguity of the amendment might merely represent a method of reaching a majority, conclusive decision or approval by Congress. To the Beard conspiracy theory, I will, therefore, apply the Scottish verdict: Neither Guilty or Innocent, Unproven. There’s no argument that the Fourteenth Amendment- no matter how it might have been abused later- is a noble document.

Not every Supreme Court Justice was so easily convinced that corporation deserves to be considered “persons,” with constitutional citizen rights. For example, Justice Hugo Black, former Alabama senator turned Supreme Court Judge did not mince words about his feelings on this interpretation of the Constitution.
I do not believe the word ‘person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations… This Court has many times changed its interpretations of the Constitution when the conclusion was reached that an improper construction had been adopted…When a statute is declared by this Court to be unconstitutional, the decision until reversed stands as a barrier against the adoption of similar legislation. A constitutional interpretation that is wrong should not stand. I believe this Court should now overrule previous decisions which interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to include corporations.
Neither the history nor the language of the Fourteenth Amendment justifies the belief that corporations are included within its protection.

…Certainly, when the Fourteenth Amendment was submitted for approval, the people were not told that the states of the South were to be denied their normal relationship with the Federal Government unless they ratified an amendment granting new and revolutionary rights to corporations.
As Justice Sotomayor has correctly observed, the decision, which has formed the basis for over a century of corporate law, is questionable, to say the least, being based merely on an answer to a court reporter’s summary, on false testimony from an unreliable witness and on contestable court procedure.

The fact that so many other later decisions regarding corporate personhood were based on this decision presents something of a nightmare for the courts.
For example, as author, William Meyers points out,

Corporate personhood is at the root of such Supreme Court rulings as First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti [435 U.S. 765 (1978)], which equate corporate donations to political campaigns with free speech. They allow corporate money to govern the political process. These rulings can be reversed once the 1886 decision is reversed, since they are directly dependent upon it. Then we should be able to force corporations out of the political process. We could do this through legislation or through the chartering process. Without personhood the corporations are not entitled to First Amendment rights; they will have only what privileges the people, through our government, give them.

We can and should prohibit them from making any kind of contribution to politicians, to lobbying groups, or to campaigns involving referenda. Any advertising that does not sell products — that is, any advertising not presenting factual information about the products or services a corporation offers — should be prohibited.

Decision after decision would have to be revisited but, by repealing corporate personhood it would also allow the government to return to its proper place as protector of living citizens and not the slave of artificial persons.

Just because the same mistake is repeated over and over, it doesn’t make it any less wrong. Look where it has led our country, after all. This is an issue that will not go away. It has brought millions out into the streets to protest and millions more will follow them if some kind of just and impartial review of the issue is ignored. This matter threatens to ruin the nation. We have become the very empire our own founding fathers fought and died in an effort to repulse.

I think this will soon become one of the most important issues of our time, given the national or should I say, international revolt against corporate encroachments, against the widespread thoughtless destruction of the environment and against the victimization of weaker but resource-rich nations, including our own, for the sake greater profits for our corporate slave masters.


If you’d like more detailed information about this subject, I invite you to read Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and Theft of Human rights,” by Thom Hartmann.

Addition information can be found (full text) at The Santa Clara Blues: Corporate Personhood versus Democracy, by William Meyers.

Here’s a important (and entertaining) documentary. If you have not yet watched it, I’d highly recommend it.