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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on May 30, 2009 10:23 PM PDT

Politics in America has become a vast cesspool, with corporate interests taking precedence over those of the people. In a government of the People, by the People and for the People, corporations would not have human rights under the Fourteenth amendment to the Constitution. 

I would like to believe that the Supreme Court simply showed human fallibility in granting all the guarantees of the Bill of Rights to corporations, but find the proposition dubious given the facts. The Court for well over a century has agreed to choose to confuse the legal convention of referring to corporations by the term “persons” with the same term as referred to in the Fourteenth amendment.

It is ironic that an Act of Congress intended to guarantee that former slaves have all the rights of their former masters has been used in an attempt to enslave us all. Given that the Supremes relied on an erroneous summary of an 1886 decision written by a court clerk in granting Fourteenth amendment rights to corporations in 1889, one would have to be naive indeed not to be suspicious. After all, this was a period of general corruption following the Civil War, when profiteers sought to capitalize on Lincoln’s martyrdom to enlarge the scope of their power. This trend continued in the period in which Teddy Roosevelt sought to use the authority of the Sherman Antitrust Act to challenge monopolistic abuses and save capitalism and democracy itself from the ravages of unrestrained corporate depredations.

The reliance on this summary, which contradicted the actual decision, was doubly suspicious in that the clerk who wrote it was a railroad man. It was the railroad corporations that had fought for years, in one losing Supreme Court case after another, to establish the principle that corporations were entitled to human rights. 

How can any reasonably sentient being not ask the question: "Did he do it on purpose, to further the corporate interests he had spent most of his life representing?" We must also ask ourselves whether the justices in the 1889 case were more motivated by a desire to protect their wealthy political patrons than by their allegiance to their constitutional oaths to apply the law rigorously and with respect for precedent.

Roosevelt only fell into the office by chance after McKinley, a very popular President, was quite unexpectedly slain by a deranged assassin. Thus, Senate kingmaker Mark Hanna’s fears of placing Roosevelt, a known reformer, “a heartbeat away from the Presidency,” were realized. Roosevelt fought valiantly but ultimately futilely to stem the rising tidal wave of corporate power granted by the counter-Revolutionaries of the Supreme Court of that day. 

Could the decisions of the Supremes, a traditionally “conservative” bunch, have reflected the influences of dark forces loose in America after the assassination of Lincoln? Call me paranoid, but I am the type of guy who can’t stop wondering why Lincoln’s guard, a veteran fresh from a bloody Civil War,  left his post at Ford’s theatre the very night in April when the President was martyred. It is worth pondering whether it was coincidence that this occurred immediately before a concerted and decades-long assault on the Constitution by the railroad barons. Weren’t this man and the non-commisioned officer who selected him aware of the constant threats on the President’s life?

I have a firm rule about not sinking to partisan politics, which I believe is what has been the monkey wrench thrust into the gears of government that has ground the machine of Congress to a halt. However, we are talking about people long ago, and it was perhaps a more savage time. I do not have hard evidence that one party, dominating the politics of the Federal government after “winning” the Civil War, used a martyred President to ensure that the “last, greatest hope for mankind” would be under the control of a corporate aristocracy. I think that reasonable people can look at the facts and draw their own conclusions. That is how it is supposed to work in a functioning democracy, where these facts are available to anyone who can “use the Google” to bypass corporate media propaganda and the attempt rewriting of our  history. God granted us free will to make our own moral decisions, so I am careful what I choose to believe.

So what does this have to do with having “sympathy for the devil?” The point is that all of us are capable of selfishness. If you had the power to benefit yourself and all your friends by pulling the wheels of government a little to the right so as to go down a smoother patch of road, are you sure you wouldn’t do the same? 

We invest tremendous power in those we elect to represent us, then typically turn to the comics section the day after the election. I believe it is immoral to mean it when you say, “I only know what I read in the funny papers.” Citizenship is no laughing matter. We have a duty to our children to make democracy work by using the power of our minds and bodies to educate ourselves and join the fight to take back America. I believe this with every sinew of my body and every fiber of my being.

In the immortal words of Mick Jagger:

Please allow me to introduce myself:
I'm a man of wealth and taste.
I've been around for a long, long year,
stole many a man's soul and faith.

And I was 'round when Jesus Christ
had his moment of doubt and pain.
Made damn sure that Pilate
washed his hands and sealed his fate.

Pleased to meet you,
hope you guess my name.
But what's puzzling you
is the nature of my game.

I stuck around at St. Petersburg
when I saw it was a-time for a change.
Killed the czar and his ministers;
Anastasia screamed in vain.

I rode a tank,
held a general's rank,
when the blitzkrieg raged
and the bodies stank.

Pleased to meet you,
hope you guess my name, oh yeah.
Ah, but what's puzzling you
is the nature of my game.

I watched with glee
while your kings and queens
fought for ten decades
for the gods they made.

I shouted out,
"Who killed the Kennedys?"
when after all,
it was you and me.

Let me please introduce myself:
I'm a man of wealth and taste
and I laid traps for troubadours
who get killed before they reached Bombay.

Pleased to meet you,
hope you guessed my name.
But what's puzzling you
is the nature of my game.

Just as every cop is a criminal
and all the sinners saints,
as heads is tails,
just call me Lucifer
'cause I'm in need of some restraint.

So if you meet me,
have some courtesy.
Have some sympathy, and some taste.
Use all your well-learned politesse
or I'll lay your soul to waste.

Pleased to meet you,
hope you guessed my name.
But what's puzzling you
is the nature of my game,

Tell me baby, what's my name?
I tell you one time, you're to blame.

Rick Staggenborg, MD

Soldiers For Peace International

1 comment:

  1. Sympathy for the Devil means taking a dispassionate look at history and trying to understnad how ordinary men could commit the extraordinarily evil acts that together have led to the near-total destruction of our democracy.

    I was not in new territory in asking this question. The interested reader may want to read Erich Fromm's theory of how the Nazis took hold in a democratic society that had been battered by economic depression deliberately provoked by the Allies after WWI who had felt justified in dividing the spoils of war and punishing Germany as the aggressor nation. One only need review the effects of the Marshall plan after WWII to see how differently things might have turned out had the Allies realized their moral duty to act fairly and in the interests of all after the first world war.

    Fromm argues that the Nazis arose because nationalism, authoritarianism and the willingness to sacrifice freedom for security is the natural psychological result of a nation of individuals who feel victimized and oppressed by the world. After WWII, George Orwell foresaw that this could lead to never-ending worldwide war if the masses of the populations of the great powers could be made ignorant and government propaganda designed to foster a state of confusion as to the fact that it was international corporations who deliberately maintained the system.

    This is so obvious to the dispassionate observer that Sinclair Lewis wrote "It Can Happen Here," a novel warning America in 1939 of how close to fascism we came in the same period. Instead of being appreciated, this former lion of the literary world was almost universally ignored, or villified. The myth of American exceptionalism was already alive and well at the time.


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