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REAL Democracy History Calendar – sign up!
Move To Amend Campaign:
We are pleased to announce the creation of a new resource: the REAL Democracy History Calendar.
You are invited to sign up to this new free weekly email resource – to be sent out beginning January 1, 2016. To sign up, click here.
Corporate entities and individuals of extreme wealth have to a major extent captured our government and economic institutions. Basic political, economic and human rights are in decline. The result is a lack of real democracy — defined as the ability of those who are affected by decisions having an authentic voice in the shaping of those decisions.
However, people have always strived for basic rights, resisted oppression, created alternative structures, and sought to control the power and influence of corporate entities and extreme wealth in society through education, advocacy and social movement organizing.
To sign up, click here.
The REAL Democracy History Calendar will provide 1-2 listings per day sent by email every Monday morning of activities, events, quotes from prominent individuals and/or other occurrences (both past and recent) on the themes of democracy, human rights, corporate power and rule, and wealth in society (especially in elections).
The Calendar is a joint production of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) and Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Much of its base comes from our research and writings on these themes over the last two decades.
Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire — and to illuminate the reality that creating real democracy will not happen by changing any one politician, passing/repealing any one law or regulation, or reversing any single Supreme Court decision. It requires, rather, changing our political, economic and social culture - one byproduct of which will be to democratize our legal structures through genuinely inclusive, multi-issue, nonviolent social movements.
To sign up, click here.
Below are a listing of postings over the next several weeks – to provide a flavor of the Calendar’s contents that would be sent by email each week beginning January 1.
If you feel this would be valuable information to you, please sign up here. And please spread the word to others!
Thank you for your consideration.
REAL Democracy History Calendar
1799 – Death of George Washington, first President of the United States of America – need for coercive power
“We probably had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation. Experience has taught us that men will not adopt and carry into execution measures the best calculated for their own good, without the intervention of a coercive power,” said George. According to historian Charles Beard in “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States,” Washington was probably the richest man in the colonies at the time of the Revolution.
1896 – Covington & L. Turnpike Road Co. v. Sandford (164 U.S. 578) Supreme Court decision – corporations are persons
The Court declared, “it is now settled that corporations are persons, within the meaning of the constitutional provisions forbidding the deprivation of property without due process of law, as well as a denial of the equal protection of the laws.”
1791 – Ratification of the Bill of Rights
The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution were adopted to protect We the People from excesses of government and to affirm certain inalienable rights of human beings. At the time, however, We the People were only white males who owned property and were over 21 years old. Each state decided how much property must be owned to qualify to vote or run for office
1986 – Justice William Brennan delivered opinion of Supreme Court in Federal Election Committee v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Inc. (479 U.S. 238) – spending by corporations in elections may make them formidable power
“Direct corporate spending on political activity raised the prospect that resources amassed in the economic marketplace may be used to provide an unfair advantage in the political marketplace…The resources in the treasury of a business corporation…are not an indication of popular support for the corporation's political ideas. The availability of these resources may make a corporation a formidable political presence, even though the power of the corporation may be no reflection of the power of its ideas."
1773 – Colonists stage Boston Tea Party to protest British Tea Act
Parliament passed the Tea Act, which provided the East India Trading Company complete access to the colonies and exempted it from paying taxes to the colonies – increasing the profits to company stockholders, which included Parliament members and the King. This undercut colonial tea merchants who were required to pay taxes on tea.
Boston Tea Party participants saw themselves as anti-corporate protestors. Their call for “no taxation without representation” was not one against paying taxes, but rather an insistence that every entity – including the East India Company – should pay their fair share and that no entity should be taxed without governmental representation.
1964 – Death of Alexander Meiklejohn, Philosopher and Educator – on 1st Amendment and freedom threatened by dominant business enterprises
The 1st Amendment "does not intend to guarantee men freedom to say what some private interest pays them to say for its own advantage. It intends only to make men free to say what, as citizens, they think.”
“[I]nsofar as a society is dominated by the attitudes of competitive business enterprise, freedom in its proper American meaning cannot be known, and hence, cannot be taught. That is the basic reason why the schools and colleges, which are, presumably, commissioned to study and promote the ways of freedom are so weak, so confused, so ineffectual.”
1882 – Death of Henry James, Sr. – on democracy
"Democracy is not so much a new form of political life as a dissolution and disorganization of the old forms. It is simply a resolution of government into the hands of the people…”
2009 – Publication this month of article, “People as Property: Criminalizing Color, Dissent and Impoverishment through the Prison-Industrial Complex” by Karen Coulter, principal of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD)
“Slavery and involuntary servitude were supposedly abolished by the 13th amendment to the Constitution. However, the amendment reads that slavery and involuntary servitude shall no longer exist in the U.S. ‘except as punishment for crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted’…Then there are the investors in the prison industry: American Express Corporation invested millions in private prison construction in Oklahoma; General Electric Corporation financed prison construction in Tennessee; Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney, and other Wall Street investment firms made big profits by underwriting prison construction with the sale of tax-exempt bonds, a 2.3 billion dollar industry as of 1997. Some of the largest Wall Street investment corporations started buying bonds and securities from private prison corporations in the '90's and reselling them for profit to individual investors, mutual funds and others, literally speculating in the growth of locking up more and more people. The rise of the prison industrial complex can be accurately seen as part of a profound transformation restructuring U.S. economic development and its forms of social control. Philip Wood identifies corporate colonization of decision-making structures as a key element of the changes in U.S. public policy supporting the expansion and privatization of the prison industry.” http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2009/BWA_2009_DEC.html
REAL Democracy History Calendar
1885 – Corporate lawyers claim railroad corporation’s 14th Amendment rights violated
In San Mateo v. Southern Pacific R. Co., 13 F. 722 (C.C.D. Cal. 1882), corporate lawyers attacked a provision of the California Constitution that assessed higher property taxes against railroad corporations than against non-corporate properties. The attorneys charged that the state violated the railroad’s “rights” under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The parties settled the case before the Supreme Court announced a decision; however, the argument would be used one year later in what would become the very first time corporations were granted 14th Amendment “rights” by the Supreme Court in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 118 US 394.
1970 – Birth of Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) – politicians are open to the highest bidder
“Lobbyists and career politicians today make up what I call the Washington Cartel. … [They] on a daily basis are conspiring against the American people. … [C]areer politicians’ ears and wallets are open to the highest bidder.”
1913 – Congress passes Federal Reserve Act – Creating Federal Reserve System
The Act created a largely corporate controlled national banking and currency system, passed in the House by 298-60 and in the Senate by 43-25 and signed by President Wilson on this day. It was a major coup for banking corporations through the establishment of a private central bank authorized to "monetize" government debt (i.e. to print their own money and exchange it for government securities or I.O.U.'s). The central banking system was composed of 12 regional private/corporate banks owned by participating commercial banks. All national banks were required to join the system. Banking corporations now controlled the issuance and distribution of our national currency. By controlling our national money faucet, they could create inflation and deflation. This corporate monopolization of our currency allowed for public regulation, but not control. It was now banking corporations, not the U.S. government, that controlled the national currency. Congress handed its Constitutional power under Article 1, Section 8 to create our money over to private banking corporations. It’s the ultimate form of “privatization” – more accurately “corporatization” – of what was meant to be, and should be a public function or service.
1962 – Birth of David Cobb, national Outreach Director for Move to Amend and principal of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD)
Cobb debated James Bopp in September, 2014 at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN on “Citizens Divided: Corporate Money, Speech, and Politics.” Bopp is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and was lead attorney for Citizens United, the group that argued their corporate 1st Amendment “speech rights were violated when prevented to air a political program just prior to the election.”
The “debate” turned out to be one-sided – with Cobb presenting a much stronger case for why corporations should not be granted “personhood” rights and money should not be granting “free speech” rights than Bopp arguing the reverse.
Watch the debate at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijSsZdCatTM
2015 – Christmas – Jesus attacks “money changers”
Celebrated birth of Jesus Christ in Christian calendar.
In his only public act of violence, Jesus drove the “money changers” with a whip of chords out of the sacred Temple in Jerusalem, which he called “my Father’s house.”
Modern-day money changers are banking corporations – the most economically and politically dominant of all corporations. They have captured our most sacred democratic “house” – our government. They, too, along with all other corporations, need to be driven out of our government.
2015 – Boxing Day - corporate personhood, money equals free speech and U.S. Constitution “boxes” activists into small spaces of what is doable
“Boxing Day” is an annual holiday celebrated in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth nations. Traditionally, it was when servants or employees would receive gifts from their bosses or employers in “Christmas boxes.”
Many Supreme Court decisions anointing corporations as legal “persons” and money as “free speech,” as well as many limitations of the U.S. Constitution (i.e. no direct election of President, no national initiative provision, no definition of economic rights, among many others) have been anything but gifts to individuals striving for real democracy. They have, rather, “boxed” activists into ever-smaller spaces concerning what laws and regulations can be passed. Unable to limit the amount of money in elections from individuals and corporate entities and incapable of preventing corporations from asserting Bill of Rights protections, the super wealthy and corporate entities have captured greater portions of public policies and public spaces and, in turn, shrinking these public arenas for the vast majority of citizens.
For background on limitations of and possibilities for a more democratic Constitution, see http://poclad.org/BWA/2007/BWA_2007_DEC.html and http://poclad.org/BWA/2007/BWA_2007_MAR.html#3
1907 – Death of John Chandler Bancroft Davis – unilateral action yielded first Supreme Court corporate “personhood” decision
Davis played a historical role in the corporate personhood debate. As the court reporter in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (118 U.S. 394, 1886), his responsibility was to prepare ‘a summary-of-the-case commentary.’ He wrote in the headnote to the decision that Chief Justice Morrison Waite began his oral argument of the court’s opinion by stating, ‘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.”
Davis’ published reports and notes from 1885-1886 contained his views on the Santa Clara case: ‘The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Thom Hartman and other journalists and authors charged Davis with a conflict of interest as previous President of the Newburgh and New York Railway in his role in the Supreme Court ruling. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bancroft_Davis
REAL Democracy History Calendar
1856 – Birth of Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States of America – on the need for corporations and government to work together
“Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process.“ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/09/usa-sponsored-terrorism-mid-east-since-least-1948.html
1947 – Birth of Spencer Bachus, former Republican Chair of the US House Financial Services Committee – regulators serve banks
"In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks."
2014 – Big money breaks out: Top 100 donors give almost as much as 4.75 million small donors combined
“The 100 biggest campaign donors gave $323 million in 2014 — almost as much as the $356 million given by the estimated 4.75 million people who gave $200 or less,” a POLITICO analysis of campaign finance filings found.
‘When 100 big donors give as much almost 5 million small donors, with whom do we expect candidates to spend their time, and whose interests do we think they will represent?’ McKinnen asked. ‘That’s not democracy. That’s oligarchy.’”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/top-political-donors-113833#ixzz3ta7ebjxE
2011 – Pittsburgh City Council passes resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood
The resolution also called for returning elections to the American people.
1945 – Birth of Harvey Wasserman – exposes fraudulent electronic voting machines
Wasserman is an anti-nuclear and safe energy activist, journalist and senior editor of the Columbus Free Press. He has co-authored numerous articles with Bob Fitrakis on election fraud of elections since 2000, with special emphasis on the 2000 and 2004 election results in Ohio.
Wasserman and Fritakis have recently written.
“The way our electoral process now stands, electronic voting machines guarantee a Republican victory in 2016…
“Source codes remain "proprietary," so the public has no control over the private machines on which our allegedly democratic elections are conducted. There is no usable paper trail, transparency or accountability.
“We are concerned that all voters get fair access to the polls, and all votes are fairly counted, no matter who the candidate. We have no doubt the Democratic Party would be just as willing to flip elections from Republicans as vice versa, and that both have, can and will do the same to the Green Party and other challengers.
“So we support universal hand-counted paper ballots, automatic universal voter registration, a four-day national holiday for voting, major restrictions on campaign spending and a wide range of additional reforms meant to guarantee some kind of democracy in the United States.”
Featured Poclad Article
Loyal to their Class, Unhinged from Democracy
by Mike Ferner
"Commerce defies every wind, overrides every tempest, invades every zone."
- chiseled above the entrance to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce
As stunning as it may sound, an argument can be made that neither the Nazi Party’s rise to power nor even WWII itself could have happened without the backing of U.S. industry and finance. Cash contributions through the 1920’s and ’30’s helped elevate Hitler’s brownshirts from mere street thugs to a political party and financed “off budget” ops for the SS. Before and after the U.S. entered the war, military equipment and critical technology transfers flowed from U.S. corporations and subsidiaries to the Third Reich.
The record reveals more than just self-serving opportunism. It proves the existence of what sociologist C. Wright Mills called a Power Elite – born to privilege; attending the same prestigious schools; belonging to the same insular, rarified social circles; naturally assuming some God-given right to rule the world and in these particular cases, blinded by fanatical anti-communism and completely unhinged from democracy.
To discover the many personal relationships formed through class and propinquity that bind these elite, consult the sources cited to learn more of what we’re not taught in school.
U.S. firms like J.P. Morgan made millions financing World War I, a business that grew with post-war reconstruction and reparations.
The Bank for International Settlements, still operating today, was created to administer Germany’s WWI reparations. Run by Thomas McKittrick, a Wall Street banker and friend of the Dulles brothers, it was “effectively controlled by Hitler’s regime” by 1940 and had laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in looted gold – from coins to teeth fillings. Five BIS directors were charged at Nuremburg with war crimes.1
The Dawes Plan was created to rebuild German industry and provide reparations to England and France required by the Treaty of Versailles. U.S. representatives on the international committee were Charles Dawes, first director of the U.S. Budget Bureau and Owen Young, president of General Electric Co. In 1929, the Young Plan succeeded Dawes’.
Between 1924 and 1931, Germany paid 36 billion marks to the Allies, 33 billion of which was borrowed from investors who bought German bonds issued by Wall Street firms, paid to England and France as reparations and then sent to the U.S. as loan repayments. The bondholders received interest payments and according to Sutton, “The international bankers sat in heaven, under a rain of fees and commissions” made by lending other people’s money to Germany.2
During this period, John Foster Dulles, later Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, was CEO of Sullivan and Cromwell (S&C), at which his brother, Allen, later Eisenhower and Kennedy’s CIA chief, was a partner. Foster structured deals that funneled U.S. investments to German companies like IG Farben and Krupp. Sullivan and Cromwell “was at the center of an international network of banks, investment firms and industrial conglomerates that rebuilt Germany after WWI.”3
An open secret through the ’20’s was Henry Ford’s financial support for Hitler. A December 20, 1922 NY Times story claimed links between new uniforms and sidearms for 1,000 young men in Hitler’s “Storming Battalion” and Ford’s portrait and books the Fuehrer prominently displayed in his well-staffed Munich office.4 Sutton also claimed Ford’s money helped fund Hitler’s failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch that gave the fledgling dictator time in jail to write “Mein Kampf,” incorporating whole sections of Ford’s “The International Jew.”
In 1932, Wilhelm Keppler, Hitler’s Secretary of State and a director of AEG, started a “Circle of Friends,” later combined with Himmler’s Circle of Friends to raise “off budget” funds for Himmler’s SS. One contributor, the German-American Petroleum Co., was owned 94% by Standard of NJ and made payments until 1944. In 1943-44, ITT contributed 127,000 marks.5
In February 1933, Hermann Goering held a fundraiser at his home for the National Trusteeship, a front group from which Rudolf Hess paid Nazi Party election campaign expenses. Industrialists and financiers pledged 3,000,000 marks including 400,000 from IG Farben and 60,000 from General Electric Corporation’s subsidiary, AEG. On the board of IG Farben’s U.S. subsidiary were Edsel Ford; Walter Teagle, board member of the NY Federal Reserve, Standard Oil of NJ and FDR’s Warm Springs Foundation; Paul Warburg, Chairman of the Bank of Manhattan and a director of the NY Fed; and Carl Bosch, who was also on the board of Ford’s German subsidiary, Ford AG. One week after that massive infusion of funds the Reichstag was burned. A week later, national elections swept the Nazis into power.
That same year, Allen Dulles remarked on Goebbels’ “sincerity and frankness,” during a meeting with Hitler to see what might be in store for S&C’s German clients.
Opel, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors Corp., and Ford AG produced a significant number of the Wehrmacht’s vehicles. In 1938, Henry Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle award. In December 1941, Ford Afrique was incorporated in Vichy France and granted all rights of Ford’s British subsidiary in Algeria, Tunisia, French Morocco, Equatorial and West Africa. In 1942, Vichy France paid Ford Co. 38,000,000 francs for damage RAF bombs caused a French Ford plant. Ford also manufactured vehicles for Soviet Army at a plant in Gorki, Russia.6
General Electric Co. of NY owned 25% of AEG, the largest electric company in Germany. GE’s board chair, Owen Young, founded RCA Corp., was a director of GM, NBC, the International Chamber of Commerce and deputy chairman of the NY Federal Reserve.7
In a 1936 memo, William Dodd, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, reported that Farben gave 200,000 marks to a PR firm “operating on American public opinion.”
In 1938, the Luftwaffe urgently needed 500 tons of tetra-ethyl lead, the anti-knock compound critical for aviation fuel. Ethyl Corp. (jointly owned by GM and Standard of NJ) “loaned” the amount to the Reich Air Ministry despite a U.S. Army Air Corps prohibition. Brown Bros., Harriman and Co. of New York arranged collateral security.
In 1940, a Berlin lawyer and S&C partner came to New York to lobby U.S. oil companies. While there he threw a Waldorf-Astoria gala to celebrate the fall of Paris to the Nazis. In the ensuing uproar in the press, Foster Dulles continued to defend him.
By 1944, German oil (85% synthetic, produced with Standard of NJ technology) and high explosives production were controlled by IG Farben and Vereinigte Stahlwerk, respectively. Both companies were created under the Dawes Plan and financed by Wall Street loans packaged by S&C. An internal Farben memo, coincidentally written on D-Day, 1944, said Standard’s technical expertise in synthetic fuels, lubricating fluids and tetra-ethyl lead was “most useful to us,” without which “the present methods of warfare would be impossible.”8
Churchill and FDR met in Casablanca in January 1943 and agreed to fight Germany to an unconditional surrender, in part to keep Stalin in the Allies. Soon after, Allen Dulles met in Switzerland with an agent for Himmler to tell him the agreement could “be scrapped without further ado” if Germany sued for a peace that would eliminate Hitler but leave the Reich intact. Ignoring Casablanca and against FDR’s orders, Allen’s “Operation Sunrise” arranged for the surrender of German forces in Italy just before Germany’s surrender, infuriating Stalin. Dulles’ German counterpart was General Karl Wolff, to whom Dulles gave a promise of immunity for war crimes, even though Wolf had arranged slave labor for Nazi industrialists; was the banker for Himmler’s Circle of Friends; shuttled Jews to Treblinka; administered medical experiments in Dachau; commanded Nazi security forces in Italy and as a result was high on the prosecution list. Dulles kept his promise, submitting an affidavit on Wolff’s behalf, which got him out of prison for time served in 1949. In 1953 Wolff organized a German neo-fascist party and in ’56, an association of former SS officers.9
Even after Hitler took power in 1933, Foster Dulles continued to represent IG Farben and refused to shut down S&C’s Berlin office until partners, tired of having to sign letters, “Heil Hitler,” rebelled in ’35. Throughout the war, Foster protected the U.S. assets of Farben and also Merck from confiscation as alien property. Arthur Goldberg, who served with Allen in the OSS, the CIA’s forerunner, and later on the Supreme Court, claimed both Dulles brothers were guilty of treason.10
In 1945, Lt. Richard Nixon, wrapping up Navy east coast war accounts, discovered Nazi documents explaining how Foster and Allen Dulles laundered payments from their German clients. Allen bought Nixon’s silence by agreeing to finance his 1946 congressional campaign against incumbent Jerry Voorhis, launching Nixon’s red-baiting career against a New Dealer whose “communist” activities consisted of supporting a government takeover of the Federal Reserve, creating a national credit union, expanding Social Security and opposing the oil depletion allowance and offshore drilling.11
Space limitations prevent describing post-war “ratlines” run by OSS officers that helped Nazis escape Germany; or Operation Paperclip, an official U.S. program to bring to the U.S. Nazis like Hitler’s rocket scientist, Werner von Braun; or various examples of OSS-funded and organized sabotage operations in Eastern Europe sure to fuel Moscow’s paranoia; or Operation Gladio, which armed right-wing partisans in Western Europe and stockpiled weapons for “stay-behind” paramilitary units; or sabotaging European political parties judged insufficiently anti-communist; or decades of aggression against Cuba fueled by mafia dons and corporations ejected by Castro’s revolution.
Besides the connections between U.S. corporations and Nazis, there is another sinister commonality. America’s “secret government” resembles Himmler’s SS in the way both used funding from industrial and criminal elites to pursue ruthless “off budget” activities.
Some of the CIA’s sources included the Rockefeller Brothers who “served as private bankers for (Allen) Dulles’ intelligence empire,” including the MKULTRA mind-control experiments, and William Pawley, a U.S. sugar baron run out of Cuba by Castro.12
Today, those in the growing social movement to end corporate constitutional rights and the doctrine that money equals “free speech” are under no illusions. It’s likely that passing resolutions for a constitutional amendment to strip corporations of these powers won’t be enough.
Political resistance to corporate rule and oligarchy/plutocracy at some point may become inevitable as the corporate and political elite extends their grip on government and culture – a development often identified as a marker of fascism. Democracy activists may even have to risk their own personal safety to hold back that flood. History tells us what may happen if we don’t.
1“The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government” David Talbot 2015
2“Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler” Antony C. Sutton 1976
3Talbot op. cit.
4Sutton op. cit.
5Sutton op. cit.
6Sutton op. cit.
7Sutton op. cit.
8Sutton op. cit.
9Talbot op. cit.
10Talbot op. cit.
11Talbot op. cit.
12Talbot op. cit.
Ferner is a POCLAD principal and former national President of Veterans For Peace.
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