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Justice For Sale?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Citizens and experts alike have been hotly debating last month's Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, which struck down laws limiting political spending by corporations and unions. In one recent poll, 80% of respondents suggested that they opposed the Court's ruling.

While many have discussed the decision's potential impact on presidential and congressional elections, few have addressed how increased political spending could change the dynamic of judicial elections in the 39 states where at least some judges must face voters.

Bill Moyers began the JOURNAL this week revisiting his 1999 FRONTLINE report "Justice for Sale" about how judges running for state court positions must often rely on special interests to fund and support their election campaigns. Critics, including Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court, have suggested that such donations and other spending on judicial campaigns undermine the stature and independence of the judiciary. Sitting down with Bill Moyers in 1999, Justice Breyer explained his concerns about judicial independence:

"Independence doesn't mean you decide the way you want. Independence means you decide according to the law and the facts. Law and the facts do not include deciding according to campaign contributions, and if that's what people think, that threatens the institution of the judiciary. To threaten the institution is to threaten fair administration of justice and protection of liberty."

Bob Gammage, a former Justice on Texas' Supreme Court, said that spending on judicial elections comes down to special interests trying to sway the courts to their point of view:

"People don't go pouring money into campaigns because they want fair and impartial treatment. They pump money into campaigns because they want things to go their way. Why else would the contributors be there? They have interests to pursue. They have agendas to pursue. In some cases, they have ideologies to pursue. They're not just bland, benign philosophies. They want results."

In this week's show, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told Bill Moyers that he is concerned that last month's controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case could increase the influence of special interests in judicial elections. Toobin said:

"I think judicial elections are really the untold story of Citizens United, the untold implication. When the decision happened, a lot of people said 'OK, this means that Exxon will spend millions of dollars to defeat Barack Obama when he runs for reelection.' See, I don't think there's any chance of that at all. That's too high-profile - there's too much money available from other sources in a presidential race. But judicial elections are really a national scandal that few people really know about, because corporations in particular, and labor unions to a lesser extent, have such tremendous interest in who's on state Supreme Courts and even lower state courts that that's where they're going to put their money and their energy because they'll get better bang for their buck there."

What do you think?

  • Do you believe your state courts are beholden to special interests? Why or why not?

  • In your view, will the Citizens United decision increase the influence of deep-pocketed special interests over state courts nationwide?

  • How are you and your community working to make government serve the public good and not just those with vast sums to spend?


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    Comments

    When the Supreme Court recently ruled that corporations have the same rights as humans to govern, we saw our democracy sold to the highest bidders.

    Money has become the most important aspect of this new democracy; those without money be damned.

    WALK ACROSS THE UNITED STATES TO ABOLISH CORPORATE PERSONHOOD

    We are organizing a walk from San Francisco CA to Washington D.C. to raise the awareness of the public and their legislative representatives of the need to amend the Constitution of the United States to wrest the control of government from corporate money and restore it to human citizens.

    We are working in concert with http://www.movetoamend.org/ for media outreach to help raise the voices of the people across the nation.

    We will walk in one hour shifts, 24/7, rain or shine, starting at Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco, on May 16th and complete the walk at the Lincoln Memorial on August 1st. We will camp in state parks and recreation areas along the way and move camp every few days as the walk progresses.

    We represent no political agenda save to restore the inalienable and Constitutional rights of human beings and the dominion of human citizens over corporations.

    We believe that legislation and honest philosophical debate, of the people, by the people and for the people, can only begin when people control the government.

    We believe that no true benefit to human citizens can issue from a government controlled by corporate purse strings. Unless and until corporations loose the claim of Personhood as opined by a Supreme Court in the 1880’s, no limit of the expenditure of money as speech can be legislated.

    We hold no bias or prejudice of any human being based on: choices in their own lifestyle, their culture, biological heritage, or personal, religious or political, beliefs. We welcome diversity in this group and celebrate our common purpose. We must amend the Constitution.

    If you would like to join in all, or any part of this political exercise, please respond to this post and we will be glad to answer any questions and fill in details.

    Thank you,

    George L. Monahan
    glmonahan@bredband.net

    Eisenhower tried to warn us but he didnt do a good job communicating except to warn about the military industrial complex's influence in our government. The founding fathers tried to warn us about being vigilent against giving tyranny a foothold to enslave us.

    We need to do something or "Welcome to the Matrix". We are already there, do you like the view?

    Corporate money spent for any political purpose should not be considered as a business expense and therefore deductable for tax purposes. American taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize corporate lobbyist. Why should taxpayers pay millions of dollars to Wellpoint to lobby against health care reform?

    How would you feel if you were in court and knew that the opposing lawyer had contributed money to the judge's campaign fund? This is not an improbable hypothetical question, but could be a commonplace occurrence in the 21 states where judges must raise money to campaign for their seats — often from people with business before the court. People know how politicized the courts are. Judges are losing respect all over the country.


    The American system of electing judges is lunatic. It's succeeded in institutionalizing corruption. It's now unnecessary to bribe a judge; just finance an election campaign, all nice and legal.

    And the "gay rights" fiction (when are media outlets going to call it what it is? It's equal rights for everybody, not special "gay" rights.) has one intriguing corollary in California: 18,000 married couples who can divorce, but can't remarry. Do you suppose you could find 18,000 hetero couples who would take that deal in a New York second?

    It does not take a genius to recognise that the problem is allowing money to be a factor in who is appointed to the judiciary at any level.
    They are not necessarily beholden to special interests, but one can be fairly sure that if corporate money promotes Judge A versus Judge B) they are going to support a conservative or Republican leaning judge and vice versa for the Unions.
    I believe all judges in all states should be elected initially by the bar association in each state from members who wish to be considered 10 names on the ballot paper and you vote for One. No advertising, no donations just the names circulated in local newspapers and Voters Website where each candidate posts a max 1500 word justification for why he should be chosen.
    The Citizens United Decision will have an effect on local and state courts, because it enhances the basic problem ( mindset of money in these matters)i.e politics and and judicial elections.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    Dear DC Eddy I was so sorry to hear adout your wife's mishapp. Like you we found our selves at the emergeny room. Unbeknownst with an undiagnosed stroke while the drs were busy trying to save the lives of ganglangers. So, I had the distinct pleasure of watching my beautiful wife lose many of her functions including her sight. 35 a dedicated english teacher. Now she can be lifted into her wheelchair. Even though it's been several years and the help of two us senators medicare obstructions can't be fixed (not a nickle or kopec has been paid). And nobody local, state or fed has a clue what's going on. Every week holds new terrors for us. So, I'd have to say get out of doge while you can. OPNYD

    D.C.Eddy I'm so sorrr to hear about your wife mishapp. Unfortunately insurance or not we must endure the triage mentality that infects our hospital community in the USA today. As a result of gangland violence I witnessed my wife loose many of her bodly functions, including her sight. Now regulated to a wheel chair (at best) the state is trying to force us appart so she can receive the bennifits we paid into for all of thoes years. Meanwhile, two senators have been unable to untangle medicare which has'nt paid a nickle or kopec for anything since april of '08. If - I were in your places I'd get the hell out of doge before the so called system kills you both. You know what the man say ESAD ya'all. And NO it's not the best gov't we can buy. OPNYD

    If we fail, its only a matter of time before the world turns on us completely.

    Posted by: rick sullivan

    The "whole world" was WITH us on 911, remember?

    "Good" people in other countries KNOW that there are "good" people in the USA.

    Nine years later, after everything that has happened, for whatever solace there may be in it, the "good" people in USA are PITIED.

    The inversion extends to the FACT that the war lords and drug lords are WELCOMED in the USA, they're not here to "liberate" us from the "concentration" camp.

    USA is certainly providing the EXAMPLE, "...don't let this happen to you..." That's why there is continuing "civil unrest" of populace vs. psychos in so many countries now...easier to "unite" people who are similar in culture and "race"...tha's why USA is "safe" for the GLOBAL criminals - "diversity"...and "special interests"

    At least now we know which "jobs" are safe from "downsizing" - "you, too, Johnny and Jane, can have a steady CASH flow if you become a war lord or drug lord...or a "had no choice" slave who can continue to re-create yourself to be "amusing" to your "lord"....

    The job security of the future...

    I'm currently a Peace Corps volunteer serving in a small, post-Soviet country whose politics, elections, and institutions are rapidly corrupt. Government, mafia, and industry are all wedded intimately to each other and work together to empower and enrich the oligarchy and dis-empower every other citizen. I see the influence of money in politics and the corruption it brings almost every week, and I see how this little country is held back from ever progressing because the institutions have long since stopped functioning as instruments for the people and instead function as instruments of the wealthy oligarchic class.

    The director of the NGO I'm placed at and I were talking the other day about corruption in the system and how it limits what we're also able to do. We were trying to set up a public discussion in a nearby city, and had to get permission from someone, who then had to make sure that it was okay with the regional governor/oligarch who is appointed by the president/oligarch. My director asked me if there was corruption in America, and before Citizens United I might have been tempted to be more optimistic and say that corruption in America isn't so big of a deal. But with Citizens on my mind, I had to answer him that yes, in fact, there is a great deal of corruption in American politics and that the vast sums of money in our system, while nowhere near the outright oligarchy of my current host country, mean that our politics is often bought and sold. He was so surprised that America had so much corruption in its system, and because of his question and my need to think about it, frankly so was I.

    Being in the Peace Corps normally makes me far more optimistic about America and its greatness; since being in the Peace Corps I've grown to love the US even more than I originally did. But it pains me to watch America grow closer to the kind of corrupt system of governance that I see all the time in my service, and to watch as even our courts--seemingly the last bastion of justice in any system--rule that there is no limit to what money is allowed to do in our system. I hope that I don't one day too have to live in a system where I daily cast off hopes of aspiring to be more than I am because of the overwhelming power of an American oligarchy.

    I would first like to echo the previous comments about the levels and practices of contingency contracting in these wars. I too have seen its impact and I believe the practice changes the incentives and decision making processes for a very significant portion of what the military calls "the total force." For that portion of the force, starting or maintaining wars is incentivized over winning and ending them. I can also say that I have very deep suspicions about the behavior of companies like blackwater who engaged free fire zones and tactics that were counter to the military's stated objectives.

    As for electoral integrity, there is no more pressing issue facing america today. The fact entire political parties are swept in and out of power will little or no substantive difference in policy is evidence enough that we are not living in a democracy. Rather, we are living in what chris hedges calls "the inverted totalitarianism" of corporatism. Either we get our democracy under control or it will prove our downfall. And there is no more ominous sign of the dangers we face than the practice of war for profit. If we fail, its only a matter of time before the world turns on us completely.

    Dear Mr. Moyers. First of all, thank you, so much, for your program. It is reassuring to know there is a place that reports what is really going on in our country.

    I live in the great state of Michigan, where, in 1995, the good people of our state, under then governor John Engler, lost their civil right to hold a drug company accountable when a FDA approved medication harms or kills. The legislation was signed at the 11th hour and tacked on to another bill. The law gives the drug industry total immunity from product liability. Victims are completely barred from court. Michigan is the only state with such a law. The media barely mentions this misguided decree, and most people don’t know it exists—they find out when they need a lawyer and learn they have no legal recourse. Thousands of Rx victims have been denied their civil right of due process.

    For an excellent background on our law, see:

    A TRAGIC BLUNDER MICHIGAN'S DRUG INDUSTRY IMMUNITY LAW
    By Amanda Melpolder, Center for Justice & Democracy, February 28, 2008
    http://www.centerjd.org/archives/studies/MIDrugImmunityF.pdf

    See also:
    Should Michigan repeal immunity law for drug industry?
    Even after a felony plea, residents can't sue
    BY HENRY GREENSPAN, Detroit Free Press, October 15, 2009 http://www.pharmaccountability.org/news.html

    Michigan used to have the best consumer protection rights in the country. Now we are dead last.

    Please let others know what happened in Michigan. If it happened to us, I’m sure it is on the agenda for other states.

    Democracy is clearly failing in the USA for the same reasons it is failing in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Elite are corrupt and looting the countries.
    Posted by: Alan McCrindle

    Posted by D.C. Eddy
    It is becoming increasingly obvious that the reason we are in Iraq and Afghanistan is so the "fat cats" can share the loot.
    It is amazing how long it takes for people to realize that they have been had.
    We need to secure our homeland not cause grief in other nations.

    I've had enough, as a British Citizen having lived in Florida for 14 years it's time to get out. My wife is 81 years old, pays $100 a month for part B and has never been in hospital in her life until last Monday when she fell and broke her ankle. This was due to her having a low blood count 5 when it should be 11.5 despite her having a blood test only a month ago.

    She was rushed to the emergency hospital, 35 miles away, where one of the first questions was:- Which insurance company are you with. The then charged me $50 and by the look of things I'll get a bill for more.

    This is scandalous, this is an outrage, this is corporate power gone mad. The USA hasn't got a health care system to fix, it has a system of insurance based extortion.

    I've lived in over 20 countries, the USA is by far the mot perverse with the people controlled by religion and corrupt judiciary. The Republicans will be voted back in, I aim to be out by then.

    Alan wrote, iin part, "The first suicide bombing - when the guy crashed his plane into the IRS in Texas - went largely unreported as such."

    Not in my neck of the woods! But you are correct in noticing that the PROPAGANDA media machine went too silent about this after the "nanny" scolding...

    The TAX CODE issues are creeping back into "discusion", but mostly on the sociopathic-controlled CNBC "business" chanel where their gang can screech for MORE tax breaks for themselves.

    This is one freekin' LONG modern "Street" theatre interpretation of "The Merchant of Venice", ain't it? Except it seems that a Supreme Court chorus has chimed in with contract details ruling in favor of the "merchant"...

    What is our MORAL obligation when we NOW KNOW FOR CERTAIN that the "factory" was built to incinerate the fruits of honest labor?

    Dear Mr. Moyer:
    I watched your interview with Thomas Frank on the "Wrecking Crew" posted on the below web site: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01152010/watch.html
    The interview with Mr. Frank was a very insightful one, given the current political mood, and the growing unpopularity of the government. Having come from a country where everything was run and controlled by the government, I think that there are some valid points to the argument that Mr. Frank was making. I was in the service for half of this decade that was mentioned, and I saw firs hand what a disaster can be wreaked by the so-called “free markets”.
    While doing a tour in Iraq, I got to see how government contracts were handed to friends of the administration, and how those corporations got paid huge amounts of money, while the employees received a meager amount. Often, the people doing the work were not even American, but the contractor charged the government the same rate they would if there were American workers. I find this especially hard to swallow because the Indians that were flown in to replace the Americans got paid around $300 per month to work 12+ hour shifts in some horrible conditions. These guys were working in the dining facility. When the Iraq war kicked off, there were American civilians there, and their salary was something around $5000, and working hours and conditions much better. Had there been a little more government oversight, this situation would have been remedied in no time.
    I am not a fan of any party, by no means, as both have their major minuses, however, there has to be accountability for actions taken by firms, public or private. If I get defrauded in a financial scheme, the perpetrator needs to be punished; but if we don’t have the infrastructure in place, it wont happen. There is one thing that is very interesting to me about the Republicans – they are the ones that came up with the Patriot Act, the one law that robs us of practically all freedoms. Then you will see a elected republican say something about freedoms and deregulation. What I am hearing and seeing is deregulation for the rich, and tightening the straps on the ones down below. If you are not Halliburton or KBR, good luck getting a contract in Iraq of Afghanistan, because its all taken up. And if you are just an American that wants to make some money working for KBR, you are out of luck too – the Indians and Bangladeshis got those jobs; so much for government work…
    Now, I do not see a full scale government control system as a good option, because that creates bureaucracy and bogs down free movement of trade. However, as your guest noted, there needs to be a government that is competent to run their affairs efficiently and competently. It’s really quite depressing how quickly Americans forget about what happened in the lead-up to the crisis.
    I think radical conservatives need to watch this interview. It probably will not change their thinking, but it may shed some light on key issues at play. Government needs to hire competent workers, and it needs to be accountable to the people for its work. However, we also need not blame the current leaders for problems that have been brewed for the last decade.

    What can one do after listening to a program like this?

    The system is so perverted and fundamentally corrupt at so many levels.

    Democracy is clearly failing in the USA for the same reasons it is failing in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Elite are corrupt and looting the countries.

    When law and order - or the perception of it breaks down the result has always been a collapse into a warlord situation, military coup or fascism.

    Which is next for the USA? I predict a rise in assassinations and suicide bombings. The first suicide bombing - when the guy crashed his plane into the IRS in Texas - went largely unreported as such.

    When people have nothing to lose - and this will increasingly become the case for a larger and larger percentage of the population as it becomes clear that the economy can never recover - some will decide to make the sacrifice count against those who they see as the "evil doers"

    To Jim Beile:
    Good Post!

    Everybody please use www.congress.org to write your Congressmen and President Obama. It is a great website and very convenient to use.

    Posted by: Todd Mellon - "Walk out USA. Let China make their mistakes and feel big for awhile. It's time we have a sit in, and discuss where we really want to be heading. No more band aids over the old broken systems. From environmental to educational, to medical, to everything, We need to start over and do everything right. It's not like our country is really moving forwards anyways, so let's just stop and then.... begin."

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Do you know Todd that Congress is allowed to use inside info to invest in stocks?

    http://www.wgrz.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=71906

    It is perfectly legal for them. But you or I would go to jail for profiting from such info.

    The banks get money at 0% from the gov then loan it back to us for 25% to 30% on our credit cards...and what do we get on our investments...1/20th of 1%.

    Do you need any further proof that the bankers / insurance companies / Wall Street are in control of our politicians? Do you think the power hungry egomaniacs in DC want to give all this up for social ethics?

    I heard Alan Simpson (part of the deficit team appointed by OB) on CNBC talk about how wrong all these entitlements are and how they are headed for the chopping block. And if you listen to him talk..he is one scary old coot to put in charge of this!

    I have to laugh at the knuckleheads on the political forums that rant how OB is such a socialist. Yea, he is a real socialist isn't he?

    Anyway, your national sit in could change lots of things, but...
    The politicians learned a long time ago that the 'Domesticated American' is impotent when it comes to controlling political policy. Controlling policy take great amount of bribe money. And you guys can hardly make your house payment, so not much bribing potential there.

    Consumer strikes en masse could change many things. But the politicians have a way of forgetting and going back to old ways. As such, it would take continual strikes to keep the knuckleheads in DC going down the right path.

    After all 70% of the economy is based on the consumer.

    But such strike would take a measure of self-sufficiency that 99.9% of the modern day people lack. They can't miss one paycheck or will be behind on their mortgage or If they are unable to go to market for a few days they will starve.

    Back in the day, (prairie and turn of the century) citizens were more of a self sufficient nature. Most of us have lost that skill of self sufficiency and we have shifted gears to be dependent on gov and a few other such as farmers or oil producers or China to take care of the whole pop of the US. The problem is, it is very hard to go back without causing a lot of pain. (Actually a lot of deaths)

    Hell, the impotent people of modern day and age can't even make pancakes or peanut butter sandwiches and have to buy them ready made in the store...it's really scary.

    Yes, stopping to think, instead of frantic acting would be good Todd. But consumption is ingrained in us and we know no other way. And even if we wished to amend our ways, how could all our retirement funds take the hit? You ever hear the saying..."I got the tiger by the tail and can't let go?" Well, that is apropos to the plight of the Us of A.

    Our economy is not based on sustainable health - it is based low interest credit to encourage compulsive spending, debt and living a life of constant consumption with a 'disposable mentality' when it comes to durable goods.

    All this consumption to artificially fuel our economy to make our retirement funds only go up contributes to more and more global warming and the depletion of our natural resources.

    Then the governments juggle the numbers to make the inflation figures seem artificially low, so everyone's retirement portfolio will make them happy so they will continue to buy and consume more...and on it goes....the bill is coming due soon!

    http://dieoff.org/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_malthus

    This is of deep concern to me. The increasing merging of business and government is as disastrous as the combining of government and religion. Government becomes business, and business becomes government. It's what drives up our election costs and shuts out any other voices that try to compete in the political arena.

    Fantastic program. Everyone should watch this program. I've long held the belief that our judicial system was already 50% corrupt, but now it seems headed for 90% corruption with this recent Supreme Court ruling.

    I hope Bill Moyers Journal addresses the constitutional problems we have in some future programs. One problem that doesn't get any mention in the press is that we have institutionalized the 2-party system. There's no incentive for either party to be honest because no matter what they do, they only have to be a little more believable than the other party. Our problem is not in the redistricting but rather in the rock-solid hold the 2 parties have on the system, and this is caused by a constitutional deficiency.

    Our constitutionally defined method of electing a president is not suitable to the possibility of electing a 3rd or 4th party candidate. I'm not suggesting that our solution is to elect a 3rd or 4th party candidate, but simply that the realistic threat of another party winning should provide sufficient incentive for the biggest parties to remain more honest. The way it is now, they really can't lose in the long run.

    The amendment should change the election method such that it gives people the option of voting for any party they choose to vote for, but still allowing them to vote against the party they really don't like. Simply by allowing people to rank their choices #1 and #2 would give the freedom of mind to vote their heart without sacrificing the ability to keep the really bad parties from getting their vote by default.

    The fact that Democrats were all rallying against Ralph Nader from running must indicate that the system doesn't work. I wouldn't have voted for him, but I believe his opinions were helping to keep the debate more honest. How else can any other party ever gain any momentum? It isn't possible with our current system. The key is to eliminate the safety cushion that the 2 parties have so that they are accountable to the people rather than their corporate donors.

    I'm quite often shocked with what the Democratic party tells me I'm supposed to be advocating for. They aren't my interests, clearly they're telling me to defend certain special interests. I want them to listen to me about what to advocate, I don't want them telling me what it means to be a Democrat.

    Posted in part by: Jim Beile | February 23, 2010 12:00 AM
    "Where are the leaders of our faith communities on this?"
    In many communities the local leaders of power are very corrupt.
    "The leaders of local faith communities" do not get involved
    for the sack that no one is offended...!
    Very much like "I hear no evil, I see no evil and I know of no evil!"
    The same principals applied - "turning blind eye" by the justice system!

    Two comments I wish to elaborate on, if you will..

    Godie Hayduk says write your Congressman, and produce a crescendo through an avalanche of letters...etc...

    That will put the Postal Service back in business, alleviate over burdened, old letter carriers awaiting a buy-out, produce way too many good paying jobs by filling in the lost Postal Carrier positions...what are you trying to do, awaken this dead economy?

    Nice thought, but when the anthrax attacks made emailing the choice of many moronic technos, our politicos said...we can't read tradional mail anymore, it may kill us, or something.

    They want inpersonal emails that they can avoid answering.

    ...and we just follow along...like sheep.

    But thanks for that uplift, Godie Hayduk!


    D.C. Eddy says this is the United States of Corporations...and indeed it is.

    But did you know that corporations pay about half the income taxes that the individuals do? (source, The World Almanac, Book of Facts)

    They also avoid paying their taxes by hiring bright, young lawyers who find tax loopholes by making spurious tax write-offs utilizing offshore countries...in addition to their use of cheap foreign labor...so they are empty headed, unpatriotic beings as well.

    But most glaring of all is how the upper brass in many corporations make it their own piggy bank by giving themselves stock options, bonuses, and golden parachutes (once the corporation fails due to their negligence, they land safely with a big pay package and screw all those who hoped and prayed for a good job with a future, and maybe just an itcy, bitcy piece of the pie through what once was called profit sharing)

    ...Excuse the run-on sentence...this all came about through the adoption by Pres. Ronald Reagan of the Milton Friedman theory of trickle down economics, which continues at fierce pace now and ended with the fat cats going to their buddies we elected to Congress, for bail-outs.

    I made my points in all honesty, having been burned like you by this system in place.

    Just wanted to add more to your good comments.

    Summizing to this moment. Star date... This reminds me of the old saw that laws and treaties are made between enemies not friends. For friends it is called understanding. I must say however that this constant overly bellicose posturing by the current republician dupes is not attractive. As far as mr roberts is concerned he'll be there long after me. And existing condition for my wife and me dear kiddies is we are loosing to the daily perturbutions of the locals. If we want any better you guessed it divorce - great family values not. You know what they say, ESAD ya'll. OPNYD

    The problem of undue influence of political contributions on the judiciary could be solved by the legislature mandating that a judge recluse him or herself for any case where a defendant or a plaintive contributed more than 1% of the total contributions to the judges campaign fund. This would also apply to institutions or corporations whose interests were with one or the other party.

    Thanks for your program on “Justice for Sale.” It’s frightening to see that money is corrupting our judicial system as well as our legislative branch. In my opinion, the influence of money on politics is the most important issue facing American voters. How can we expect meaningful legislation to come out of a dysfunctional system..

    Compare the US Senate to a typical US business. In any US business, if a buyer accepted money from a supply, he would lose job. Contrast that to the US Senate where bribery is standard operation procedure.

    In any US business, if a project manager repeatedly went over budget and missed his completion dates, he would lose his job for incompetence. Contrast that with the US Senate, which has been working on health care for two decades and spent millions, with no results.

    In any US business, if a marketing manager couldn’t lead an effective team, he would be fired for incompetence. Contrast that to the US Senate where partisan bickering and rivalry paralyzes critical legislation.

    Compared to a typical US company, the US Senate is a corrupt and incompetent organization.

    WHAT THE SENATE OUT TO BE
    The US Senate ought to be the premier legislative body in the world setting the standard for debating and resolving critical issues facing democracies globally. It ought to be humbling for a senator to realize that his words and votes affect the lives of millions of Americans. It ought to be intellectually exhausting with an unwritten code of honor demanding impeccable integrity.

    But instead, the US Senate is an elite fraternity of wealthy white men who have purchased the positions for political prestige

    THREE SUGGESTIONS FOR CHANGE
    We talk about legislation to fix this corruption but that’s like asking the Mafia to clean up their act. So here are three suggestions that would bring real change.

    Our faith communities – Political corruption is not a red or blue issue, it is a moral issue. Where are the leaders of our faith communities on this? All faiths share the values of honesty, fairness and citizenship. Religious leaders from all denominations need to stand up and be counted on this issue and provide a moral compass to their congregations. This single action would reach more Americans in a more credible and profound way than any other single action.

    Statesmanship (one who is widely respected for integrity and impartial concern for the public good) – CNN realized that we need to change our concept of heroism and started the CNN Heroes project. We also need a new concept for statesmanship. We do have senators who are not corrupt. The media needs to tell their story and honor their effort. They are our political heroes. Many have lost their jobs because they would not compromise their integrity. They are the casualties of our war on corruption and we need to understand their stories and honor their sacrifice.

    Job Qualifications – No US Company would hire anyone without a clear statement of the qualifications for the job. Where are the job qualifications for a US senator? Not a statement of their political positions, but rather their experience, ability and character. Organizations that campaign for or endorse candidates need to clearly define the qualifications they are looking for in those candidates.

    These three actions can be taken by you and I as members of religious, community and political organizations, as journalists and bloggers and as concerned citizens. They do not depend on the actions of any political leader.

    “…when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress.”
    Howard Zinn

    “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
    Gandhi

    Corporations are inanimate objects whose sole purpose is making money for their shareholders. They have no soul, no conscience, no morals, no remorse, and no patriotism. They spew misdirection in the press to spawn their ideology, which is against the benefit of the American people. They must be stopped.
    Posted by: The American Programmer.

    Posted by: D.C.Eddy
    Nations are all about people not all about corporations. This is supposed to be the United States of America not the United States of Corporations. "United we stand divided we fall" at the present time is an understatement. These are trying times and it is necessary that we try to turn our nation right side up before we are crushed by the weight of the fat cats and the greedy rich. We have the resources to build a better nation; instead we are wasting our resources on foolish agendas and corrupt management.
    May God have mercy on our souls and help us find the right path that leads us to our best possible society based on Wisdom, Justice, Temperance and Courage.

    The Answer: An Article V Convention

    Each month on the 15th write a brief letter to your members of Congress saying:

    "I demand that you represent my interests by calling a convention as delineated in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. Issue a press release to the media so everyone will know your position. Failure to do so will result in me not voting for you."

    Imagine Congress receiving 1-million letters the first month; 5-million the second month; 25-million the third month; 125-million the fourth month... Pass it along and save the Republic. Remember, Freedom Is Not Free!

    Visit: http://www.article-v-convention.com

    Gordie Hayduk
    Veteran, Voter and Mayflower Descendent

    How many Americans does it take to fire their government?


    Walk out USA. Let China make their mistakes and feel big for awhile. It's time we have a sit in, and discuss where we really want to be heading. No more band aids over the old broken systems. From environmental to educational, to medical, to everything, We need to start over and do everything right. It's not like our country is really moving forwards anyways, so let's just stop and then.... begin.

    Concerned Citizen 2-21 10:15pm you had tears running down my face! At first--'cause you are so funny!

    If you publish this (say SNL or Letterman) you may consider flipping the acronym to inside the brackets & last [Retire Aged People Early (RAPE)] just lead us down the path a little before you kiss us.

    Thanks, almost forgot how a good laugh feels.

    Billy Bob Florida

    Mr. Lucenti wrote, in part, "What I find glaring is the way many corporations pollute our environment and kill off people through their wanton abuse, but when caught, pay a modest fine."

    That's what some of us are adding in the way of FACTS to this discussion - the FACT that once "corporations" were taken over by "finance" sociopaths and served "shareholders" instead of customers

    PROGRESS stopped.

    The wrong group of people with wrong education, wrong social skills, wrong ethics, wrong "ideologies", and wrong VISION for the future

    burrowed into "government"

    beginning with Reagan's 179% INCREASE in the size of "government".

    The worst thing (besides flying your own hobby plane into an IRS building)

    "we the people" can do as an overstatement

    is to continue to elect POLITICIANS to "government" positions of "leadership".

    Tea baggers switching from bible-thumping to constitution thumping is "politics" from the twilight zone

    The activist arm of the "dems" boils down to those who intend to over breed the "white" race and other sundry "special interests" that are WAY too "personal" to be a lasting contribution to CULTURE

    Letterman put it this way, "Pointless behaviour and plenty of it".

    At this point in time, the ONLY way out is to get an Ethical Science Political Party in office who KNOW what the heck is REALLY going on and how to bring back PROGRESS to USA.

    Yes, it may be a smaller group than 20-something lawyers and MBAs, but the over 50 crowd has the biggest percentage in their ranks of COMPETANT SCIENTISTS.

    Here's one example of burrowed idealogs in WRONG places...all that info coming in from probes, satellites, powerful telescopes

    and the "managers" directing where the $$$ should go

    prune out their hirelings based on whether or not you swallow their "math"

    that being that "statistics" show how improbable it is that there is "intelligent life" somewhere else out there in that big wide cosmos...

    One could make a "statistical" argument that there is no "intelligent life" here on earth, either :-)

    And that's just one example of the sorry state of "politics" and why political debate increasingly reminds people how it "feels" to live in a mental institution without anyone in charge.

    We've got too much REAL "stuff" to deal with to waste any more votes on "politicians" and time on "politics".

    Brooklyn is printing up their own local "currency" that is being accepted as REAL because it is SAVING the infrastructure that Olympic Labor built...

    If Supreme Court Justices continue to rule AGAINST people, who through honest labor are ABLE to maintain their "middle class" lifestyle when detached from 600 trillion "derivatives",

    then they should not be surprised about a "violent" turn of events, should they?

    FBI might want to give all 3 corrupted arms of "government" a crash course on how to stop p-ssing people off...

    I don’t know what all this fuss is about. With the privatization of electronic voting machines, does it really matter if these multinational corporations want to waste their money on our judges? Hold on, we're making a left :0) -- Remember when exit polls were pretty good indicators of predicting the outcome of elections? That was then, this is now:

    By any calculation, the Ohio 2004 election was a black day for American democracy. Lou Harris, known as the “father of modern political polling,” and a man not given to hyperbole, called it “as dirty an election as America has ever seen.” All the exit polls suggested Ohio would go to Kerry. But when the vote was counted George Bush had won by 132,685 votes, adding Ohio’s crucial 20 Electoral College votes to his tally. And putting him, not Kerry, into the White House. It has since been alleged that at several points on election night, the Ohio secretary of state’s official Web site, which was responsible for reporting the results, was being hosted by a server in a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee. http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/02/15/bush-cheney-cyber-mans-air-crash-gets-spookier/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIDsiukzfIY&feature=player_embedded
    http://www.thedailynewsonline.com/articles/2010/02/20/news/6489279.txt
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lou_Harris

    And when privatized voting machines aren’t enough, corporations can always rely upon our/their media:

    Welch’s successful behind-the-scenes campaign to influence media coverage in a way that would get Bush into the White House has not been visible to the public, with one exception. On election night, according to an eyewitness, Welch was so angry that his own NBC News team would not call the race for Bush that he personally went to the studio from which Tom Brokaw was anchoring the coverage. Welch quietly watched the broadcast for a few minutes. Two people who were present claim that, when Brokaw and Tim Russert did not take the hint that their boss had come into the newsroom because he wanted something from them, he explicitly announced that he wanted them to call the election for Bush. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/8/13191/83603 http://www.makethemaccountable.com/coverup/Part_04.htm

    This is when I noticed that Brokaw had joined Williams as a faux-journalist. This hurt. (Tito, hand me a tissue.)

    Many comments here are attacking this system of buying votes, and it deserves closer look.

    What I find glaring is the way many corporations pollute our environment and kill off people through their wanton abuse, but when caught, pay a modest fine.

    Fines are a source of income that could one day get our government in fiscal shape again.

    By fining severely certain corporations, we can eliminate them from the landscape entirely, thus promoting the good ones and eliminating the bad.

    Are you listening President Obama?

    When Exxon polluted Alaska in 1989, that case is still ongoing, and the fine involved doesn't match the cost of cleanup.

    Meanwhile, corporations keep losing their identity by merging and downsizing, and changing their names with tarnished images attached; adding to the confusion...because, they buy our politicians!

    When Pres.Obama goes through the list of corporations that number into the millions because it's easy to incorporate...and determines who needs to go, and who needs to stay to clean up the environment and the mess created by some of the bad ones...when he does this, I will regain respect for him.

    Don't just slap them on the wrist and keep them in business.

    FINE THEM TO OBLIVION!

    Well fellow babies don't know about much. But I do know if a oerson sees the flag being waved some of the same people who step on the constitution. Then I feel compelled to say with appoligies to the great bard - DUDE! THIS WORLD IS NOT STAGED FOR YOU. FIGURE IT OUT AND IF YOU GET A LITTLE MUST UP AND IF THETANKS COME ROLLING DOWNTHESTREET. Are we on our own again? Believe me I've seen American cities burn more than once. For me 20 or in my "classification" 80 persent unemployment makes no difference I'm still unemployed. I just wish people were this passionate when the ADA was sacked by the supremes ( pre B.R.I believe). Opnyd

    Thanks Bill for this program. As usual, your reporting is exemplary. I knew the Bush appointed justices were involved in this unfair ruling of Citizens United vs. FEC, in particular Roberts who swore before Congress that he would rule by the law and only call balls and strikes. Man, what a liar he turned out to be. How can he sleep at night? Does he not have a conscience? What an idiot! I would love to prove he is receiving money and special gifts from any corporations. Throw the bum in jail.

    The rulings by this so-called Supreme Court lead us to the conclusion that there must be checks and bounds to their rulings. Oversight must be in place to nullify or reverse their bogus decisions and this is certainly one of them.

    I fear rulings like this could potentially stir up the population so much that violence could erupt. There is so much anger over special interest influence in our government this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Special interests shipped our jobs overseas, took away our pensions, ruined our health care system, took our privacy rights, 401Ks, etc. This is not good for the country right now. Americans are waking up to fact they been had and they are called corporations.

    Corporations are inanimate objects whose sole purpose is making money for their shareholders. They have no soul, no conscience, no morals, no remorse, and no patriotism. They spew misdirection in the press to spawn their ideology, which is against the benefit of the American people. They must be stopped.

    I remember the last generation used to be able to retire with pensions, health care, and easy life after 60. Kiss that good bye. Thanks to the rich, and greedy.

    great show on the juges

    Retire Aged People Early
    Due to the current financial situation caused by the slowdown in the economy, Congress has decided to implement a scheme to put workers of 50 years of age and above on early retirement, thus creating jobs and reducing unemployment.

    This scheme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).
    Persons selected to be RAPED can apply to Congress to be considered for the SHAFT program (Special Help After Forced Termination).

    Persons who have been RAPED and SHAFTED will be reviewed under the SCREW program (System Covering Retired-Early Workers).

    A person may be RAPED once, SHAFTED twice and SCREWED as many times as Congress deems appropriate.

    Persons who have been RAPED could get AIDS (Additional Income for Dependants & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel Early Severance).

    Obviously persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be SHAFTED or SCREWED any further by Congress.

    Persons who are not RAPED and are staying on will receive as much SHIT (Special High Intensity Training) as possible. Congress has always prided themselves on the amount of SHIT they give our citizens.

    Should you feel that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring this to the attention of your Congressman, who has been trained to give you all the SHIT you can handle.

    Sincerely,
    The Committee for Economic Value of Individual Lives (E.V.I.L.)

    PS - Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of electricity, gas and oil, as well as current market conditions, the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.

    thanks for the info on the juges ele. great show

    Bob Woolcott wrote, in part, "I worked at GM in Canada from the ‘50's to the late ‘70's and watched the management control slip from the automotive people, mostly engineers, to the financial people."

    If you dig deeper, you'll find that the "financial people" have a certain "religion" in common, and, I agree, it IS psychopathic.

    There was never a time in European based civilization where the "wisdom" of the Grandmothers was replaced by 20 something gay guys - the "new" financial class.

    NYT keeps promoting the PERMANENT unemployment of 45-64 year old WOMEN noting that it is at 17% compared to 7% in past "deep" recessions. Now why don't they note the unemployment rate among young gay guys and see how the numbers match up?

    I watched the business I helped create go from 7 people to over 200 in under two years. All seven of the "originals" were pushed out by the gays...and then they changed the job from data analysis to data redaction becasue they had no clue how to analyze the data but they were "technocrats" who could claim superior job skills in collecting data.

    Oh yeah, all 7 of us were threatened with law suits for being "anti-gay"...

    Once grandmother wisdom and experience is replaced with 20 something gay technocrats, collecting more than twice the salaries, well, there goes "culture" that EVERYONE can relate to...and without "culture", you've got NOTHING to hold together a "civilization".

    Those 5 Supreme Justices have a history of hating Hillary - irrational hatred sure clouded their judgement in this case...

    February 20, 2010
    Bill Moyers

    You have aired many scary programs and the look at “Justice for Sale” - was just one, a great one, in this series.

    It seems in the great capitalist corrupt America money can buy anything. I have travelled to several countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia over the years and saw several under-the-table accepted actions which Americans and Europeans would shout and scream as corruption.

    I have also been questioned intensely in Iraq, before the gulf wars when, unbeknownst to me, one member of our group tried to bribe the 2 Iraqi’s we were working with. It was on a trip when he was not with me and I got the third degree. It seems on the previous trip he got our Iraqi customers aside, separately, and offered them bribes to turn this project our way.

    My interrogation was in their office and I could tell it had been scripted and recorded. I was cleared, they trusted me and the other guy was banned from entering Iraq in the future. My, westerners would never believe the Iraqis would have stronger principals than Canadians - but they did.

    It seems to me in the U.S. and other European countries there is legalized corruption.

    I would love to see you produce a program to entitled “Legalized Corruption - the demise of America”. This would include the buying of judges, congress, the house and Wall Street. I would suspect there is much more, including the police and other parts of the legal system and business community. In the past the Mobsters and Unions were put on the press carpet but they pale in comparison to what is going on today. The new mobsters wear shirts and ties or have gold braid on their shoulders.

    Interesting, the demise of U.S. businesses coincides with the switch of priorities from servicing the customer, the only real source of income, to servicing the shareholders. I worked at GM in Canada from the ‘50's to the late ‘70's and watched the management control slip from the automotive people, mostly engineers, to the financial people. Financial people need to look good to Wall Street every quarter no matter what the real world of the economy and sales were telling them. When the income from customers was not there they “cut costs” mostly in product development and facility maintenance. Here they were reducing customer satisfaction to show a shot term gain. The automotive guys loved cars, they knew cars, they knew what the customers wanted. I’m glad I sold my shares in 1980 at $100.00 each in 1980 dollars instead of holding them until 2009 when they were selling at just $1.00 in 2009 $.

    GM is not alone. Lets call it “American Greed” - a false belief money equals happiness, the more money the greater the happiness which seldom happens in real life. A lot more happiness is achieved from family and friends and sharing what one has with others. (U.S. vs Canadian healthcare falls into this category). Society seems to becoming psychopathic where there is no empathy for others - it is all about self.

    Keep informing us. Most TV is entertaining us - we don’t know how to entertain ourselves any more and we seem to only get one liners of information.

    Bob Woolcott - Honey Harbour, ON, Canada

    Jason wrote, in part, "The root failure in our society is the monetary system itself. We have to find a way to exist on earth without money."

    Any ethical scientist will tell you that PHYSICS acknowleges human labor as energy as well as currency.

    Now that we know that the "financial instuments" factory was a weapon of mass DESTRUCTION,

    we CAN move on.

    Look, they're CRAZY. The enronistas are already hatching a new formula

    that CEOs can honestly claim they don't understand

    but being as the CEO is a bottom line person,

    they don't CARE that they don't understand "chaos theory" because the fundamentals are the same:

    More misery for others =
    more money for ME ME ME

    Next on the "to do" list for the Roberts court is tort reform...right?

    Without the fear of punitive damages that can be won in law suits against bad doctors, lying "pharma"/food corps, and polluting grandfathered industries

    what's going to keep the MATERIAL world of life maintenance from the RESPONSIBILITY of providing ANY competance or quality in "services" and products?!

    Nothing.

    This is just a big bowl of crazy that WE have a moral responsibility to contain.

    If I was the FBI looking for REAL ways to prevent the "chaos" theory from being embraced by "terrorists",

    I'd start with containing the 1% elite - take away their "channels" of mass destruction for awhile and see whether NORMAL people go back to ACTING normal.

    Another fun science fact - there is no way that the projected number of 2 million people left on planet earth as the Big Giant Head's "chosen ones" can use up all the chemicals left behind after ALL the oil is used up. Way too much stuff...and throwing a war to secure it was THEIR nail in the coffin as a "corporation"...

    Natural gas transition, electrical grid fed by combo of sustainable and limited "energy" supply...

    Part of sustainable, btw, is "mechanical"...recharge battery packs as you walk Manhattan streets, CanDo gym's spinning classes charging batteries, etc (you get the drift :-))

    Now, what "politician" is going to be BELIEVABLE if he is going to sell some "justice" ideology

    that people who have figured out how to utilize the same solar energy that cranks up temps to 120 F in the desert to COOL their shelters

    do not have the god-given RIGHT to use their brain power in that way because they don't have "money"...?

    Michelle wrote, in part, "Limits and responsibilities go hand and hand with rights. Freedom is not boundless. The old saying is that you have the freedom to speak but not the freedom to yell fire in a crowded building. Freedom of speech does not include the right to defame, lie, cause chaos, and incite riots or violence."

    "Limits and responsibilities" are always defined and codified into "law" and "government" by what the "masses" have experienced,

    through CENTURIES of learning pains, I might add,

    as being ABSOLUTELY necessary for life-maintenance.

    Killing and stealing (with the added bonus of torture)

    have not been proven to be ACTS of hatred that should be tolerated and forgiven because, after all,

    those ACTS against the god-given rights of others (FREE WILL)

    do NOT affect life maintenance!

    We are not talking about someone yelling "fire!" when there is no fire,

    We are talking about people yelling "there is no fire!"

    when there IS a fire.

    It is entirely too much of a mechanistic (shallower, still, of an ideology than secularism)

    definition of "speech" to equate it with "money".

    Why is not "money" equated with "limits and responsibility"?

    Why is it that "justice" is being bent to sell to people the IDEA

    that their millions-of-years-in-the-making organic BRAIN

    cannot SPEAK unless it has a schekle in the paw?

    People shouting "there is no fire" when there IS a fire, are ALSO criminals who have over-stepped the SANE boundaries established by the stupid masses over millenia!

    It should come as no surprise that the "justice" arm of ANY "government" would be necessary to be overtaken so that POWER MAD CRIMINALS can pretend that they are "legit" businessmen and not liars, thieves, and murderers, should it?

    Roberts should be impeached. He LIED.

    Hello Bill,

    Like Plutarch's Fall of the Roman Republic, you are chronicling the Fall of the American Republic. History repeats itself. Democracy in America is already dead, people just can not bring themselves to admit it. The emperors are smarter now, and they run large multinational corporations. People need to get smarter, in order to solve this age old problem.

    “The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.” Plutarch, Historian of the Roman Republic

    “Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.” John Adams

    “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Thomas Jefferson, 1799

    “If those in charge of our society—politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television—can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.” Howard Zinn, historian and author

    To control ourselves, the first step is to elect the people who have not been bought. With a simple Google search, it is quite easy for the majority to figure out who deserves your vote.

    Finally, those who do not vote should be fined. A lot of people died for the right to vote.

    Staggering Hypocrisy. What corporation could afford to oppose the "advertising", of one sided opinions that Bill Moyer's Journal produces. I suppose MSNBC will be objective for us? We now have only advertising paid and unpaid. I agree that contributing to judicial campaigns is wrong and is an important issue to address, but a simple interpretation of
    "Congress shall pass no law", is the real issue. Why is there no outrage over 750 million dollars being driven through a 200 dollar loophole for a presidential campaign?


    Jeffrey Toobin correctly stated,
    "But judicial elections are really a national scandal that few people really know about, because corporations in particular..."
    The "Pending Case Load Statistics for NYNB Offices [Northern District]
    (as of January 31 , 2010) District = 15,753"

    Total case loads for NYEB [New York Eastern District] Courts for 2009 22670 cases
    of which "518 cases were corporations etc. that file chapter 11!"
    The Chapter 11 "Corporation in Bankruptcy cases" are in ten's of thousands through the rest of the Bankruptcy courts in the country.

    It is a falling Political, Economic, Judicial and Education system.
    There are no standards set for justice, and/or efficient operation of the system!

    The "economic system" based on principals of "fraud," selling "fiat securities!" Investment, lost of INTRISIC value of funds in a "fiat worthless" "unsecured securities,"
    either that be in bonds, stocks etc.

    A financial system - "fiat printing press currencies!"
    There are "no unconditional guaranties or protection of the investment" for citizens.
    The only "unconditional guaranty - protections" is available to the "institution
    and the oligarchy in power." The standards that were in place "have been repeal,
    are non existent!"
    "The BANKRUPTCY ACT" Chapter 11- Guaranteed "AWARDS and PROTECTION"
    for non-performance! It supersedes the "UNIFORM COMERCIAL CODE" - U.C.C.
    PROF. BILL QUIGLEY correctly stated,
    "This is about somebody slamming the courthouse door shut, locking it and nailing
    it shut and excluding a large group of people from ever getting to court. "
    Posted in part by: Sanford Russell
    "Without constitutional change there's no hope, and there's no hope for constitutional change."
    Posted in part by: Miranda
    "We MUST definitively establish - a constitutional amendment..."
    BILL MOYERS: "the verdict in from the people.. they cannot trust the judicial system...!"
    A Real CHANGE, take the money out of the SYSTEM, "AMEND the CONSTITUTION!" "EMPOWER the PEOPLE " to EXPRESS THEIR WILL on ALL ISSUES" and not on the PERSON!

    I find the Journal very good for defining a problem however I feel it laking in what individules can do other then being "well informed.

    Dear Bill Moyers,
    I have seen Jonathan Turley, of George Washington University, who is an expert on constitutional law speak briefly on the news and hope that you can have him on your program as a guest where he would be able to speak at length. Thank You.

    In order to have a working democratic republic, a society must have a properly functioning justice system. If people in power are not help accountable such a system does not exist and so neither will that "democracy" your so eagerly awaiting.

    Impeachment is an exercise in futility if the politician or judge is simply replaced by another person who is bought and paid for by the same corrupt system. It's not any individual, it's our entire system. Democracy is not the problem, democracy is a great system of government. I hope I live to see a real democratic government.

    In response to "what do I know",we do not have unlimited free speech by law.

    "Whether or not you like the results of Citizens United and even though the system is imperfect, until we create a better way to go, unlimited free speech is not only the best course, it is the law.
    Any thoughts on the matter are welcome,
    What do I know?"

    Limits and responsibilities go hand and hand with rights. Freedom is not boundless. The old saying is that you have the freedom to speak but not the freedom to yell fire in a crowded building. Freedom of speech does not include the right to defame, lie, cause chaos, and incite riots or violence.

    Any public official must be removed from office if he/she violates the law. The process is impeachment. It's a non violent method of justice to make those in positions of power accountable. It is necessary in preserving the rule of law.

    When these issues arise like the decision in this case, I always come back to believing that the fundamental hurdle is the erroneous belief that the Supreme Court "interprets" the Constitution. The justices can no more interpret the rules they are bound to uphold than a referee could perform his job in the sports venue if he decides to interpret the rules. The Umpire or referee interprets the action by the rules. According to Article III, The Justices of the Supreme Court interpret the case in light of the Constitution. The case is viewed within the bounds of the Constitution and Precedence. The reality presenting itself before them is to be viewed under law. Fundamental to their job is to balance rights, laws, reality, precedent with the questions of the particular case. The majority in this case did not do this, because if they did, they would have sided with the dissenters. Their decision is an ideological coup d’état.

    I don't believe that any branch of gov't can simply be reformed by laws. The root failure in our society is the monetary system itself. We have to find a way to exist on earth without money. I think after watching "zeitgeist II addendum" on youtube ,my mind was convinced. Some may feel it is extremist and conspiracy theory, but for me personally it sealed the deal on my personal beliefs that we can't evolve as a species any further if we continue with the monetary system. I don't have a specific solution other than something along the lines of the credit system created in the Star Trek stories by Scifi genious Gene Roddenberry. Money is not the root of all evil it's just its enabler.

    And I also apologize for mispelling interest in that previous post.

    Furthermore. I don't believe judges should be accepting campaign contributions. If judges aren't serving in the best interset of individual citizens, by serving the best intersts of big money corporations... this is not America the Beautiful.

    To Bill Moyers:

    I applaud that you're telling the story like it is. While the other news networks seem to be ignoring this story... you are truly telling honest, ground-breaking, and compelling stories that matter to us most.

    The way I'm looking at this story. The judicial system is supposed to interpret the laws and the constitution, not legislate from the bench. As a believer in democracy, I don't wish to see America as a communist nation... I love America. The Supreme Court's controversial ruling (Citizens United v. FEC) from January 21, 2010 may have exposed a legislative branch that doesn't seem to be working in the best interest of the individual citizens. It may very well be a clear indication that the court has ignored its top values, such as impartiality (and/or neutrality), and the constitution's promise of justice for all individual American citizens.

    I would strongly encourage PBS to keep you and your show on the air. The opening and closing of your show adding another funder name... "Viewers Like You". This is the model of what journalism truly should be.

    Why limit the spending of individuals, clubs or corporations? There is a much easier, simpler solution: limit by law the amount all candidates in any specific election race can spend. A reasonable amount of course. Create a level playing field. Why aren't we talking about that--and promoting that? Got me.

    politics + money = corruption
    That is the standard definition

    instead supreme court tell us
    politics + money = free speech

    This country long ago surrendered to money. In 2006 PBS ran an obituary of J.K.Galbraith in which he was quoted as saying in a 1995 interview "Of course the country is run by the big corporations now".
    RW

    Bill-
    Thanks for your most interesting program with Jefferey Toobin. As most of your programs do-this one really made me think. I am wondering if a Constitutional Convention would benefit this sorry state we find ourselves in. We surely must find some way to right this sinking ship.

    The effort has begun to stop electing judges nationwide. See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/us/24judges.html?_r=1 with Sandra Day O'Connor's endorsement and also http://www.du.edu/legalinstitute/ to get involved and do something to help remedy this problem of justice for sale.

    Someone has to show the last segment of this outstanding piece to Justice Kennedy himself and ask him the obvious question: "So your Honor, this is how you solved the problem of money in judicial elections? By pouring much more money into them? Please explain to the people how this is going to work?"

    This documentary validates what I "knew" when I heard the Citizen's United decision.
    This information MUST get out to more people, because it is only if We The People stand up and take back our rights from the corporate oligarch that we will be able to leave to our grandchildren the kind of freedom we have known.
    Would love to see you do a program featuring the author of "Capitalism 3.0" and his creative ideas for tweaking capitalsm to preserve the well-being of the People.

    Freedom's Vision is the answer... It will take care of this problem both directly (political reform http://www.swarmusa.com/vb4/content.php/....) and indirectly with monetary reform (http://www.swarmusa.com/vb4/content.php/....)

    If you care about this issue and understand how important it is for America then please help by registering for the upcoming swarms at http://www.swarmusa.com/vb4/content.php! Thank you.

    Mr. Moyers, I am a single mom who lost her job. I am going back to school and have time for nothing. But I make it a point to watch your show every Friday evening. I am very impressed with your work and have been for many, many years. George Carlin did a routine before he died about the owners of this country. He said there are about 800 of them. You can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIC0eZYEtI

    Please don't retire.

    Sally Berlin

    The final comments are a sad obituary for a dying democracy. This feels overwhelming...but we mustn't lose heart. As Molly Ivins once wrote, "...keep fightin' for freedom and justice,...but don't you forget to have fun doin' it...Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was." ("Nothin' But Good Times Ahead)

    Dear Mr. Moyers;

    The day of that fateful Supreme Court decision, a friend of mine said,
    "Can you believe what the Justices' did?" And I answered,
    "Yes, they put it right back in the hands of the Houses to pass legislation stopping this nonsense."

    I have since come to my senses, and realized that this current governing body will do nothing about this, in fact, they will probably relish the company of "honorable" judges who will be reduced to eating at the same trough, in search of donors.

    In the meantime, we witness legislators leaving government in disgust because the institutions are not functioning, and while they are bemoaning the fact, they are packing their suitcases full of millions of dollars that they "accepted", WHILE IN OUR EMPLOYMENT!!! The degree of duplicity is beyond reproach, and should be criminal. (I remember when Robert McNamara had to sell his stock in Ford to become a public servant).

    This democracy is being usurped by corporations, an action every bit as ominous as that of 911. A corporate insurgency is taking place right under our noses, and what do we do? What CAN we do? Fly OUR planes into government buildings?

    No, but we can do something, and it need not be violent. In fact, we can take a page out of the legislators playbook..., we can do NOTHING!

    APRIL 15TH IS COMING UP, AND WE SHOULD DO NOTHING.

    DO NOT PAY TAXES!!!

    We, the American public hold the ultimate purse strings, and it is high time that we reminded our public servants of that fact.

    And we should not pay taxes until both Republicans and Democrats face the American public and say,"Okay, we get it, we will get to work".

    There exists a Contract for America, but it is NOT what the elected body gives us, it is what WE expect and demand of them. And the first order of business should be election reform.

    GET THE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS, (including the judicial system as well.)

    Mr. Moyers, it can only be a matter of time before folks like you and Amy Goodwin are considered persona non grata by the corporations. I pray the retaking of this country happens before that grim day.

    God Bless Your Cause

    Loni D. Hollenbeck

    allenwrench opined, "The world is in a death spiral. Our population has grown to levels where it has passed the point of no return for supporting a sustainable human population as we know it today. We have built a defective model for long term population support."

    Who is this "we", Batman...? :-)

    I must have watched a different show...all this "buying" of "justice" has to do with the corporation NOT OWNING its own vats of "stuff" that should have NEVER been combined into a single vat.

    The FACTS are that all the pollution IS REAL. It's really there and it is smelly, toxic, and a HUGE loss of profitability to the bottom line to create so much WASTE compared to PRODUCT on the part of the corporation!

    Since the WASTE is REAL, I'm back to "lobbying" for an Ethical Science Political Party.

    The modern "sacred" factories that were built in virtual reality world - "banks" and "health insurance" have neither science, not REALITY, as their MOTIVE.

    Indeed, we all can make a case for which gene pool among the Occidental "race" has overbred itself, mr. allenwrench, beyond its intelligence and competance level to sustain the INSTITUTIONS of LIFE MAINTENANCE - a "middle class" civilization and an enduring "values" CULTURE founded on HOME MAINTENANCE.

    The corporate who's-your-daddy "person" OBVIOUSLY uses too much and magically, mystically, metaphysically manages to create even more waste/pollution than "products of needs" during its manufacturing of those products!

    (which is akin to breeding children, mathematically speaking, no?, the exponentiality factor?)

    JUDGING from the lack of discussion about WHY corporations are "buying" justice from the wanna-be elite "politcal" class of bloggers first to post today, it firms up the case to be made for "politicians", as a "class", to be evicted from any and all "government".

    Ignoring REALITY in favor of ever more inane rationalizations and perfidious prevarications, well, whether or not a "Judge" acknowledges it or not,

    that kind of POWER grabbing is just NUTZ.

    No one has a MORAL responsibility to continue building "factories" ("financial instruments") that burn people up, especially once "we" can't hide from the FACT that that is exactly what is being "built", right? A "death spiral", right?

    More misery for others =
    more money for ME ME ME

    Use the financial toxic assets to buy the REAL toxic waste and now "we" OWN everything in the world, so the "loop" is closed and "we" can "go green" collectively...

    We need to create a way to distrubute this program and comments (an example of how moneyacces and power again). Moyers again spotlights what is critical to making a democracy work: but how many are aware of this? I live in the bay area: Progrqmming on Friday, late night is accessed by so few, even those I know would be watching often can't. Cheap repro.& distribution of this program? (as "outfoxed") may be a start: Does the public know that we are actually governed by Madison Ave? (which in turn is the tool of Wall Street)? Ability to create sound bytes, repeatedly enforcing imagery, and knowing you have the money to influence thus, is what makes and motivates "voters".The voucher comments (blog below) are brilliant. The demographics of the world have changed, peoples basic emotions have not. The elitism of the right sounds to my ears like a Patriotic-Fundamentalism, a nostalgia for a large fairly empty land rich with natural resources...for the taking and a natural acceptance of "survival of the fittest" only the "fittest" is not so simple to define; ultimately money/votes/power become the definition. We're shooting ourselves in the foot.

    VOTE OUT not Walk Out!
    Marissa 2-20 10:11am We got trouible-right here in River City! Sounds familiar.
    Miranda 2-20 7:22am Ralph had it right along! Where were we?

    No War
    We can't
    Pay for!

    Cut-say-10% from the Federal Budget straight across the board and tell Congress & Obama to make govt. work!

    All the waste may not cover the shortfall, but it may & it is would be worth trying!

    10% cut in the Federal Tax & see if that stimulates OUR economy!

    STOP WASHINGTON's Run away SPENDING!

    Cut Defence, Health Care, Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid, etc.--everything--no loopholes or exceptions! We could make it for one year!
    OR, we may have to do with a lot less!

    Billy Bob Florida where most states are BAILING OUT our poor misquided manshion owners--thanks

    The cure for capitalism's failing would require that a government would have to rise above the interests of one class alone. ~Robert L. Heilbroner

    The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. ~Woodrow Wilson

    In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery? ~St. Augustine

    Law: the only game where the best players get to sit on the bench. ~Author Unknown

    Thanks for reminding us how far we have fallen even since the '90's when disgraceful corruption was already going on. I could not help noticing that the concept of 'free speech' = money was nowhere to be found in that early report.

    Here's what I am going to do:

    Placing a notepad and pencil on my coffee table. Anyone who advertises on either tv or radio will not get my vote. Anyone who sends out a supersized glossy postcard will not get my vote. People already in office, who have most likely had to grease the skids to get there will not get my vote. Some of those will be worthy individuals; it can't be helped. They are all tainted.

    As is anyone who runs as either a Democrat or a Republican. I can't vote for either party any more.

    Might be a few more of me out there, you never know.

    Enjoyed the quotation that you cited to the Justices:

    "The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in, and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts and then to the army. And finally, the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors."
    - Plutarch, The Roman Republic


    Another appropriate quotation:

    “So power and greed ran riot, contaminated and pillaged everything, and held nothing sacred or worthy of respect until the Romans plunged themselves to their own destruction.” – Sallust, War with Jugurtha

    "Justice for Sale": Another
    Journal eye opener!
    I also want to read the concluding remarks of the segment again and to have access to "Talking Points" (access denied, why?)

    Unfortunately our system works to protect corporations and "paper entities" because, after all, that's where the politicians get all their donations. This decision proves it more than anything. I'd like someone to point out exactly what in the constitution gives "paper entities" the freedom to damage this country and all of its citizens. And if this decision is truly constitutional, then we're in more trouble than I thought.

    Outstanding show Mr. Moyers!

    Thanks for all your hard work and effort you put into your shows Mr. Moyers. You will be sorely missed once you retire this April. And to the horror of one of our forum members that hates him, let me quote Thoreau

    "A thousand will strike at the branches of evil...but only one may strike at the roots."

    You are that one Mr. Moyers!

    I don't have much to add to your show on Justice for Sale. You covered all the bases. I can only say if justice gets 'too unjust,' then civil strikes must be used to seek change. Of course, this presupposes the citizens know what is true justice? Which Socrates even had a hard time pinning down in Plato's Republic.

    But let me talk about some related issues your show brought to mind.

    Your closing remarks were most 'dommerish' as the survivalist forums would label you Mr. Moyers.

    Of course you were just being honest in your assessment of how things are and where our country is headed. It was a breath of fresh air to hear some honesty on TV, as opposed to the usual cornucopians, blissninnys and self serving liars one hears proclaiming "Things will be fine"..."America can do anything"..."God bless America and keep on spending!"

    Well, things are not fine in America. America can't do anything. And there is no god to bless or curse America...we only answer to the god of natural law that governs us all on earth. And to subscribe to these popular delusions the liars force feed us is just making matters worse. As it gives Americans a false sense of hope while wasting precious time for not preparing for what inevitably awaits America down the road.

    Your 'NOW TV' show on tea baggers showcased a family that had 4 kids that can't find work. The episode touched on this subject of 'limits of growth' that America must accept and prepare for. Now lets say these 4 kids have 4 kids each and now 16 more kids have to find jobs in addition to the original 4 dads...so 20 must find employment. And take this to the next level and it now becomes 64 kids to find work - is there no limit to this geometric Ponzi scheme?

    Well, yes there is a limit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_malthus

    Our resources are depleting at record paces. Our water and food supplies are dwindling and becoming less affordable. And even if we are successful at feeding our overgrown population, the food we are producing is becoming less and less healthy in the rush to produce lots of cheap food.

    The world is in a death spiral. Our population has grown to levels where it has passed the point of no return for supporting a sustainable human population as we know it today. We have built a defective model for long term population support.

    In nature, trees that are overcrowded weed themselves out by nature's decree. But if man forced the trees to not weed out and forces crowding the trees may die from disease due to a forced and unsustainable growth plan.

    The problem is not with the earth having enough land for all its people - the problem is with earth providing ad infinitum for all the needs the people crave. The more people born, the more heat is produced from their life and all their cravings, As such, the warmer and more polluted the earth gets and the more energy they all use and the earths resources are depleted.

    Now we live in a free country with no population control, so we must take the good with the bad. But nature always has the final say with such matters. So if we go against nature, we should accept nature eventually going against us...if we can be honest.

    But the politics, cornucopians, blissninnys will never admit it. And even if the politicians know it in their heart, they would not admit this, as they must cling to power 'by any means necessary' to fulfill their ego and greed driven desires.

    As our economy decomposes further, the gov will need more money to prop it up through smoke and mirrors. And this must be funded by higher taxes and the cuts in social services that benefit the needy...robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    From Walden:

    "Some of you, we all know, are poor, find it hard to live, are - sometimes, as it were, gasping for breath. I have no doubt that some of you who read this book are unable to pay for all the dinners which you have actually eaten, or for the coats and shoes which are fast wearing or are already worn out, and have come to this page to spend borrowed or stolen time, robbing your creditors of an hour. It is very evident what mean and sneaking lives many of you live, for my sight has been whetted by the experience of others; always living on the limits, trying to get into business and trying to get out of debt, a very ancient slough, called by the Latin - 'Res Alienum' or 'another's brass' for some of their coins were made of brass. Living, seeking to curry favors, lying, dying, and buried by 'other's brass'; always promising to pay, promising to pay, tomorrow, and dying today insolvent."


    Thank you Bill Moyers, Frontline, and the Center for Investigative Reporting for this important program. I hope this will become a series.

    Legendary attorney and author Gerry Spence details in his book, Justice For None, the history and impact of "the commoditization of American - the conversion of our people, our institutions, our lawyers and our judges, even our victims, into things for sale in the marketplace," of American justice.


    The Mississippi federal judicial bribery case is one example of the harm that results when wealthy individuals or corporations support judges. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2007/April/07_crm_210.html

    The constitution itself - although it worked resonably well for a tiny, mostly rural, nation of people on horseback - foretold the demise of the representative republic. Without constitutional change there's no hope, and there's no hope for constitutional change.

    1. "..." special interests? Why or why not?

    -Generally many of the courts in our country have always been responsive to “special interest” groups because of the money. I my mind in terms of money flow, the Supreme Court Decision makes the avenues of the money trains even broader than they were before.
    The danger is clearly in my second question answer.

    2. [...] influence of deep-pocketed special interests over state courts nationwide?

    - Unequivically, YES! But scarier than that is the potential for corporations to get completely the same rights as individual’s right down the line.

    The former is the real danger to mankind.

    It has always been asserted that the biggest flaw with so called Socialism or Communism is that it is based on the assumption that all people have basically good intentions.
    Though the Corporations are just a group of individuals, they often act like the Borg (TNG-Star Trek) in their drive for money, power and profitability. Does anyone really believe that the Corporations act is “good faith”?
    I think not. They control most of our so-called, “Entertainment” where a watcher is constantly encouraged to buy, buy, BUY!
    I used to think that our courts were at least, partially immune to this. Since the 2000 election I have concluded that we have all been bought and sold over and over again.
    But what I find curious is that there is little mention of the individual responsibilities AND liabilities that need to be clearly assigned if individual rights are afforded to Corporations.

    READ RALPH NADER!
    3. How are you and your community working to make government serve the public good and not just those with vast sums to spend?

    -Writing and educating. I live in Florida so the so-called Progressive agendas have been swept away with the religiosity in this state.

    After the program about the Supreme Court and the effect of money on elections to the benches of US courts, and how the recent Supreme Court decision will further put the courts in the pockets of corporate interests, I felt nauseated. Yes, the unions can buy judges and other politicians too, but they don't have much money, so it is really in the corporate interest that the Supreme Court decided on the Citizens United case. Anyway, after my initial emotional and physical reactions, I wondered whether it isn't possible to impeach Chief Justice Robers, perhaps Justice Kennedy too. Roberts, because he perjured himself in his confirmation hearings. Other than being hypocritical, I don't know whether Kennedy also perjured himself. How can we have a real justice system when justices lie to get on the bench? The system, as it is now, is the "just us" system, not justice system.

    Bill, Great program (albeit disturbing). But what happened to your powerful closing remarks? They are not in the transcript. I wanted to reference that in another blog.

    A nauseatingly accurate portrayal of the justice system in the United States. The Supreme Tool's decision to liberate big business from an obscure history of subjugation represents the final straw. How long will the peasants continue to grin and bear this rank brand of democracy?

    "Whether or not you like the results of Citizens United and even though the system is imperfect, until we create a better way to go, unlimited free speech is not only the best course, it is the law."

    To this I would say, sometimes the laws are guilty of crimes. I could probably name the real law crimes being committed by this law all night and day, but let's just go for the press and governments magic scare button. This law is a form of domestic terrorism. It is built to spread propaganda destabilize society as a whole in an already destabilized society which is also a treason towards the American people ie America. Thus is actually punishable by death. Prove me wrong.

    "So whaddya say to the young who put no trust and quite literally runaway from the "judicial system", the "health system", the "educational system", and all the things that once made this country great? Their answer is drink, smoke, and screw their brains out while playing with their avatars. Opnyd."

    and to this I say, although I do believe there is an intentional dumb down force in the media geared towards the American youth. Behind their social short comings many of the youth are paying attention more than you may know, perhaps more than you yourself and I am sure they are dreaming of the day they get to take the keys away from all these crazy greedy people of the dark ages.

    As usual another relevant program from Bill - thank you!

    Watching I almost cried, I feel betrayed in my trust in the possibilities of this country.

    The only solution I see is one that Ralph Nader has pointed out for years: we MUST definitively establish - as a constitutional amendment if need be - that constitutional rights only apply to HUMAN BEINGS NOT to paper entities. That is - the rights of personhood belong ONLY to living persons. This is the only possible defense I see now, from the anonymous power of secretive cash.

    As to the selection of Judges- and I mean this unfortunately - I think we would do much better having a random drawing among existing candidates and incumbents. Have Alzheimer patients hold the hat and pick names out of a hat!


    "Personhood" is how this case was decided, thus sayth the supremes. Yet no where, and I've listend twice, in the report was this mentioned. Further, is this "status of personhood" the reason for the sellout to the banks and insurance companies? So whaddya say to the young who put no trust and quite literally runaway from the "judicial system", the "health system", the "educational system", and all the things that once made this country great? Their answer is drink, smoke, and screw their brains out while playing with their avatars. Opnyd

    Conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican or anything in between, we all identify with the dilemma presented here.

    If you believe that judges should not be picked on the basis of their values but rather their ability to rule on the merits of the law. If you agree with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy that “we should not select judges based on a particular philosophy as opposed to temperament, commitment to judicial neutrality and commitment to other more constant values as to which there is general consensus”, just how do we go about selecting judges?

    There is this annoying constraint that always seems to get in the way called the First Amendment. It gives us the right to free speech. Anything that limits that right is a violation of a law that is fundamental to our democracy.

    Is any campaign reform that constrains free speech a valid solution? Obviously, McCain-Feingold was not the answer. Judges like politicians are subject to influence whether or not money is involved. If money doesn’t influence and corrupt, at the very least it buys better exposure on a bigger bully pulpit. If the voting public and in the case of appointments, the appointer cannot be trusted to be fair and balanced how can a regime that limits free speech be an improvement?

    Whether or not you like the results of Citizens United and even though the system is imperfect, until we create a better way to go, unlimited free speech is not only the best course, it is the law.

    Any thoughts on the matter are welcome,

    What do I know?

    And to think that we are going to have this Roberts guy forever and ever.

    It overwhelmingly appears that neo-slavery, extreme poverty & no middle class is an absolute certainty for all US children.

    Back in the "good old days" of 2004, BEFORE former Pres. Bush's reelection, Business Week, Laura D'Andrea Tyson, wrote: "the top 1% of households receives more pretax inc...ome than the bottom 40% . . .The top 1% of households owns nearly 40% of total household wealth -- more than the bottom 90% of households combined . . . On measures of income and wealth inequality, the U.S. tops the charts among the advanced industrial nations. . .tax cuts have disproportionately benefited the wealthiest . . . have boosted the aftertax incomes of the top 1% of households . . . by 10% -- compared with a 2.3% increase for middle-income families with average incomes of $57,000 and a 1.6% increase for the bottom 20% of families . . . The tax cuts for millionaires alone have reduced government revenues by $90 billion a year . . . more than enough to pay for the comprehensive health-care plan . . . the share of federal taxes paid by the bottom 80% of taxpayers has increased, while the share paid by the top 1% has dropped . . . President Bush . . . [has] chosen tax relief for the rich over strengthening the Social Security system on which low-income workers, disabled workers, widows, and surviving children depend to avoid poverty . . . If Bush is reelected, America will continue down the path of increasing inequality in income, wealth, and health, with dangerous implications for U.S. democracy". See http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_44/b3906038_mz007.htm

    Of course, Bush WAS reelected, things have gotten worse, and then Obama was elected. Obama needs, but just doesn't appear to have the "arm twisting" skills of Lyndon Johnson, and far too many so-called Democrats & Independents have completely been bought/sold out.

    Now, right before Black History Month and before mid-term elections, along comes Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf, decided 1/21/10 by "our" "Supremes", an abomination, aberration, to even further empower & increase campaign spending (the already over powerful "free speech rights" -libel, slander, rhetoric, propaganda, confusion,& control of citizenry/proletariat) & profits of the wealthy/elitists/bourgeois big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests to further undermine and drown our free speech, voting effectiveness, & independent judiciary, and make absolutely certain that the highest bidder can load and control each & every branch & all levels of government
    with paid whores. International imperialism & tyranny through banana republic dictators & the like just wasn't good enough.

    There won't really be a need for an electoral college, incorporating outside rural areas into cities to defeat inner city voting power, gerrymandering, criminalizing (felonizing)particular, specific types of conduct & behavior of targeted segments of the populace in order to permanently steal away voting rights, and the plethora of other corrupt practices. In fact, there is probably no reason for an individual to ever even vote again at all.

    African Americans, a social construct, and misnomer used to describe darker skinned people (since we all well now know that we originated from Africa), were the historic victims & subjects of tyranny, opression, & enslavement in the US, & somehow non-darker skinned Americans blindly & mistakenly thought that they were okay & somehow secure & insulated by being a few to several shades lighter in complexion; yet race/color, although exploited, was just happenstance and not really dispositive.

    Just when you think that the American Dream may one day finally be color and gender blind (but apparently not sexual orientation blind), you get a reality check and see it doesn't even really matter at all, because civil & human rights are abolished, the middle class is devoured, & neo-slavery to the corporatocracy masters is institutionalized. Furthermore, Toobin, is completely insane to think anything is too high profile, out of bounds, or off limits. Assuming arguendo that he is correct, the profile will be changed.

    Thanks for the program. I suppose what Frm justice Gammage said is true...to Wall Street and the Bankers, Corporate America, etc...they want it their way. Sorry for the people of Convent, La and all poor people who do not have their voice.

    This entire story is based on the precedence of corporate personhood. Some believe that this should be overturned or made invalid. Good luck.

    Citizens United v. FEC is effectively a corporate coup d'etat. One of the last nails in the coffin lid of our vibrant pluralistic society. Our only hope of retaining the remnants of our great experiment in democracy is to embrace the legal precedence being set, instead of engaging in a quixotic attempt to fight it (at least until this activist court can be held to account).

    Instead of corporate personhood we need to be thinking and empowering corporate peoplehood. Please, BMJ for the sake of our beleaguered republic report on the effort of everyday people to build these new incorporations of democracy.

    Take hope Bill, believe in the ingenuity and creativity of our people. It is darkest before the dawn.

    "All special interest are created equal."

    Bill,

    Thank you for another excellent program this evening with Jeffrey Toobin.

    I am deeply grateful that you constantly are shining light on this shameful systematic war to rip our fingernails away from the rock wall of Democracy.

    I’ve been working on this for a couple of decades and think we’ve got a solution that “sidesteps’ the recent Supreme Court decision by going right for the throat of “legalized bribery.”

    This solution was adopted in a small California town in 2006 with little opposition and essentially no complaints since it was adopted.

    Here on our Monterey Peninsula HOPE and the League of Women Voters were instrumental in creating a unique set of "Conflict of Financial Interest" laws in Pacific Grove in 2006.

    If these laws were in place as a federal law -- "Blue Dog" Democrats like Senator Ben Nelson couldn't vote against Health Care precisely because they took huge amounts of money from Insurance Companies.

    In fact, if those Pacific Grove laws existed at the federal level - no senator or congressman who takes money from Insurance Companies could vote against health care.

    The key is preventing "business transactions" between candidates and contributors. Pacific Grove's law works like this --

    a) No elected official can vote on a project where a contributor to his/her campaign (of $250 or more) will make more money on the project than the general public would benefit.

    b) The mirror version (the Edith Johnsen provision) is also true --

    After an elected official has voted on a project, no one can contribute to that elected official who has financially benefited from that vote. (by $250 or more - and they must have benefited differently than the general public).
    ______________

    Many California cities and counties have adopted one or the other of the two provisions described above, but Pacific Grove is the first city we can find to adopt both.

    Notably, even when we eventually get voluntary public financing, we will still need to have these laws in place.

    For more information you can peruse -- www.1hope.org/cfr.htm

    or call 831-624-6500

    With my deep appreciation and best wishes – for us all,
    -David Dilworth

    Bill, you know how completely I respect you. And I've a very healthy respect for Jeffrey Toobin, as well. But to hear him recite that gubernatorial appointments of a state judiciary (with or without some advisory board of 'disinterested' citizens) is the preferred method for judicial selection absolutely gags me.
    Why would anyone prefer the smoke-filled back rooms of political 'fixers' to election by citizens? Governors are political animals. And those white-gloved Bar Association types who would people the "advisory panels" are wholly reliant upon their corporate client billings to sustain their club memberships and the private school tuition for their kids. Some Governors are clearly better than others and perhaps the fact that I am an appellate justice in Texas who actually had to win an election to the state's oldest appellate court colors my perspective. I am also the sole Democrat on my Court of nine Justices....
    The state Executive branch is 100% Republican and the Legislative branch is majority Republican. Statewide the Texas Appellate Judiciary is 86% Republican. Ironic stat: 86% of the opinions issuing from Texas Supreme Court are those that favor the defendant insurance, banking and manufacturing corporate entities that the U.S. Supreme Court of C.J. Roberts has just relieved of restrictions in the electoral arena.....as if they needed a further boost!
    James Madison spoke to such a scenario over 200 years ago: "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
    — James Madison (Federalist Papers)

    Idea. We should just let the corporations win and give them everything they want. The only way for the little guy to win may be to succumb. A fish that eats all other fish to become the biggest, eventually dies of starvation. The last corporation standing that devours everything, leaves a wasteland void of consumers and ceases to be. Oh, goodie…

    Jefferson, “Every generation needs a revolution.” We the PEOPLE (breathing beings) of the United States, it’s 2010, and it’s on

    Working men and women. Sorry women ;)

    WALK OUT USA, LET'S START SOMETHING HUGE ENOUGH TO MAKE THEM REALIZE HOW SMALL THEY REALLY ARE ON OUR EARTH.

    It seems to me we have little choice but to have a walk out USA. A strike of mass proportion, where Americans stand up and simply say, We are not going to participate anymore. You are not our government, you are not abiding by the laws of our government, and until our government returns to work for US, we sure as all that is good and green on this earth are not going to work for you and your corporate sponsors. No work, no spending, no way!

    Working men are very angry, and just because they do not have the means to travel to Washington and protest in person does not mean we will not be heard and seen very soon.

    Thank you, Bill, for calling a radical a radical. These radicals have been concealing themselves behind the "Conservative" label without challenge way too long.

    Thank you for your cherished belief in the Constitutional intent to preserve individuality.

    Like the restless magma that fractures the surface of the planet we live on so too does "democracy" evolve as the size and diversity of its contents force it to change. In a mere 220 years our population has exploded eighty fold. Do I mention electricity? Communicating at the speed of light or, worse, flying people?

    Installing business as citizens puts but another layer in the strata of representative democracy. This is not their fault. Witness the metamorphosis of our dreams. There are so many details and only a half interested electorate. The American mindset as a consequence of its freedom to choose could not do so without money. Money is its vote. At the very foundation is the law of survival. Find me anyone who would turn down $1,000,000. We can choose to go it alone or work for someone else. Who works harder? Who has less "rights"? Is not the employee happy that a business gives him an opportunity to feed his family?

    Converts are made everyday, either way, someone slides up or down the money storm. But it's always up. If you're down - it's up. Or, you give up. All Mr. Toobin was trying to tell you was that it’s only natural to follow the winners. Survival, Mr. Moyers, not principal, is the ruler of men's souls. Let we the people, therefore, give reverence to a force of influence that recognizes where the gain of money flourishes is an acquisition valued by all.

    Again, thank you for your commitment to lead us to the truth.

    The separation of government from money/power - what a concept! Is there really any doubt? I mean is this a hard concept? Here is another one - absolute transparency and accountability. It's way beyond time for these things.
    I would really like to live to see a society that has progressed beyond money/power. I for one expected more from humanity.

    I too am depressed! This epidsode isn't over yet and I am already despondent. Between last week's and this week's epidsodes I don't know what to think about this country's judicial, financial, and governmental systems. I give up! I am turning the channel to Friday Night Smackdown. Reality is just too painfull!!

    Just as a nation that would remain free must pay its bills, so it must ultimately rely on ppl to govern themselves. We cannot remove this responsibility in the name of any amount of good, because to do so only makes it more difficult to learn responsibility. Yet this is what Progressives want to do every time, because, on the one hand, they accord more native virtue to ppl than they deserve, while, on the other, they patronize them in a classic example of hypocrisy. There is in my opinion nothing more sinister in the Supreme Ct's decision than this. As Federalist #51 says: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." It is arguable that if the US constitution had not provided for independent judges, we would not have had this decision, because they would have long ago been supplanted by Congress or the executive, and we would be facing either anarchy or tyranny. But in order to really maintain the balance of a constitution it is necessary to maintain as well the balance of wealth and the only way to do this is through respect for private property. With this respect must come free speech and even, if necessary, the right to bear arms. Ppl without property cannot be expected to respect it, even if that property is only the property, as Locke said, they have in themselves, but men with property must necessarily have learned some kind of responsibility, display some sense of honor and virtue, at least as long as the financial system remains sound, and it can certainly be argued that the source of corruption lies not so much in corporate behavior as in the behavior of those in control of our finances, who are too willing to give and manipulate credit.

    In the Constitutional Convention, Gouverneur Morris proposed restricting suffrage to freeholders. Madison reports him saying: "He had long learned not to be the dupe of words. The sound of Aristocracy therefore had no effect on him. It was the thing, not the name, to which he was opposed, and one of his principal objections to the Constitution as it is now before us, is that it threatens this Country with an Aristocracy. The aristocracy will grow out of the House of Representatives. Give the votes to people who have no property, and they will sell them to the rich who will be able to buy them. We should not confine our attention to the present moment. The time is not distant when this Country will abound with mechanics & manufacturers who will receive their bread from their employers. Will such men be the secure & faithful Guardians of liberty? Will they be the impregnable barrier agst. aristocracy? -- He was as little duped by the association of the words 'taxation & Representation.' The man who does not give his vote freely is not represented. It is the man who dictates the vote. Children do not vote. Why? because they want prudence, because they have no will of their own. The ignorant & the dependent can be as little trusted with the public interest..." Madison, himself, added that the greatest political corruption in England had been in the cities and pocket boroughs, a matter of financial finagling not unlike our own. But the more democratic-leaning Ben Franklin replied that it would discourage those who had fought for independence, and others that it would divide the country, and the proposal as we know was defeated, probably because it was realized that it would certainly torpedo chances for the constitution's adoption. However, none of them would have alleged as the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democrats were later to do that Locke's sort of virtue was chimerical, and leaving Tocqueville to ask in Democracy in America: "Do you not notice how on all sides beliefs are giving way to arguments, and feelings to calculations? If amid this universal collapse you do not succeed in linking the idea of rights to personal interest, which provides the only stable point in the human heart, what other means will be left to you to govern the world, if not fear?"

    Thank you for making me completely depressed! In 2008 donors from our town finally finished holding fundraisers to pay for the lawyers who had to be hired to defend two town trustees after they were "SLAPP'd" by a developer. The judge threw the case out three times but didn't make the developer pay for these trustees' legal fees. Which meant that the developer "taught them a lesson". One trustee is a freelance videographer; the other drove a tractor for the Township. You think they could afford $25,000 in legal fees?

    And now corporations (recall that they are LLC's and ownership is not disclosed) could start its own newspaper in town, put attack ads in it, contribute to campaigns,control the Chamber of Commerce's ads, and be the biggest donor to the softball. Good Lord.

    I don't even know where to begin to stop this trainwreck. I love groups like Earthjustice and I appreciate Nancy Swan's effort above. But the Supreme Court justices are there for LIFE!

    The Citizen's United decision put the nail in the coffin of democracy in America. Now, even when corporations do a hatchet job on a candidate they can lurk behind another entity and never be identified, or challenged. We the People, so caught up in the mudane, have no idea what just hit us. In a nutshell, with corporations pulling the strings of our elections we are going to have about as much power and rights as a bunch of cattle being herded to slaughter.

    To the 5 Justices who opened these flood gates they need to know, in the middle of the night, this decision destroyed any notion of "a shining city on a hill", and prostituted America. With Exxon and the likes calling the shots we will light the way for no one, particularly our children. What idealistic young person is going to run for office, or even vote if the outcome is already locked up? What candidate in general is going to stick their neck out to serve the real best interests of Americans, only to have it cut off unless they're in bed with big business?

    It doesn't take a genius to see what's down the road for us...the total erosion of equality, justice, and freedom. If this decision weren't so shocking, sickening, and far-reaching it would almost be funny. The Justices who sponsored it, and Republicans who praise them supposedly cherish freedom above all our core principles. Free to be blind, helpless, and mute. Sold to the highest bidder, like slaves. For the 1st time in my life I am not optimistic about our future. At least we had a fighting chance before. If only we'd known the true cost of Hillary Clinton's campaign. Citizen's United hatred of her has poisoned our beautiful country, and the Supreme Court put it in the well.

    Sorry to be so morose, but this is a dark day for America. It just hasn't hit home yet. Thank you for being a shining voice on a hill. So few. What are we going to do?

    Congress should pass a law to prohibit political TV advertising. That would remove the need for judges and politicians to raise so much money. This will eliminate a lot of the corruption.

    Another outstanding piece of journalism in a world of corporate and state owned media (makes me want to contribute to PBS)!

    The more Moyers exposes these things, the angrier I get.

    My next Washington Rep and Senator is going to have a signed petition from me to include the following in any campaign finance reform:

    For every dollar given to a candidate by an organization, 50 cents must be given by that candidate towards a direct mail voter education system.

    U.S. mail bulletins, created by a 3rd party, that document candidates or judges voting history and campaign promises.

    Since there's so much money out there, this shouldnt be an issue.

    Thank you, now I understand the racket of framing people for DUI, contributions of MADD and what has happened to my constitution. I used to think this was just Calhoun, Georgia, with the judge, the troopers and lawyers extorting money from those without a voice in the politics of a small town. Now I realize it's a much larger issue. The Constitution WAS a great work. This is a sad day. These are very troubling times. Mr. Stack's was trying to tell our government something. I hope they are not so busy trying to cover it up that they miss the point.

    A modest proposal for rationalizing corporate campaign contributions (revised):

    The Supreme Court tells us that dollars are the same as free speech, and that anonymous corporate subsidiaries which have been delegated sovereign powers by the state which chartered them (shareholder immunity to suit, for example; municipal corporations, for another) have the same free speech rights as flesh and blood individuals.

    It is kind of awkward that the corporations can't vote directly. I'm sure Judge Roberts is working on a way to remedy this problem. Perhaps he should rule that the candidate with the highest total campaign contributions wins the elections. But, this would require extending his ruling to hold that dollars are not only free speech, they are votes as well.

    Until our most worthy and esteemed Chief Justice figures out how to solve this dilemma, I propose an interim remedy to the problem.

    Since dollars and free speech are the same. Then dollars are equivalent to persuasion. Instead of filling up our scarce TV advertising space during "Lost" and other reality shows, why not just send the dollars directly to the voter? That way, there will be enough time for big pharma to convince us we need drugs for "restless leg syndrome" and erectile dysfunction.

    Let's eliminate the advertising agency middle man. Let's have elections by use of money vouchers. Cashing a voucher counts as a vote. The voter chooses between the vouchers he receives. He endorses and submits one payment voucher for each candidate.

    Voters shall be sent vouchers for each candidate in an election. The voter can cash in his voucher for the candidate of his choice by signing it and sending it back. He will receive his money and the candidate will receive the vote designated by the voucher. Of course, the voter can only send in one voucher per candidate.

    Normally, of course, he would simply choose to cash the largest voucher. But, not necessarily. This is a more subtle and nuanced approach to elections than you might realize. If the voter sees that he will get $10 extra if he votes for candidate "A" but he knows that candidate "A" will raise his property taxes by $20, then he will accept the voucher for candidate "B" instead. On the other hand, if the voter is receiving $50 more for endorsing the voucher of candidate "A" rather than candidate "B", then the voter will make the rational decision and accept candidate "A" for a net gain of $30.

    You may object: How would the voter know what Candidate "A" will do in office? How will the voter know how to calculate the maximum net benefit from his choice of vouchers? Wait. Does it really matter? Whoever has the largest voucher is the one the corporations want. So, if the voter doesn't know any better, he can just go with the flow.

    The beauty of my system is that voters with a reliable record of choosing "the right" voucher, can be targeted by corporations to receive higher voucher amounts in the future. That gives the voter an incentive to not ask too many questions. Voters who show trust and confidence in the system could expect to be put on a cost of living increase for the next election cycle. On the other hand, voters who are too choosy, or who often refuse to cash the larger voucher, will get a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings.

    Another advantage of my system is wealth transfer to the poor. Imagine, if each impoverished and destitute voter were to receive a total of $500 (or more!) just for participating in an election. Think what a boon that would be!

    People who would otherwise not receive a single benefit from their government could at least profit from the election of corporate stooges to high office.

    Let's take Justice Robert's excellent system to its logical conclusion.

    I reside in Pennsylvania and was waiting for Bill Moyers to speak to the scandal of the Luzerne County Juvenile Court in which Judges remanded juveniles with minor infractions to facilities that paid the judges for these procedures. The Philadelphia Inquirer is a source for the facts of this matter.

    What confounds me is, where in the Constitution, First Amendment or otherwise, is there a grant for a “corporate voice”?
    A corporation is not, and can never be, a “citizen”. Nor does it conform to the argument of “like-minded” individuals.
    Why? Because the group is only united by one item, to wit: ownership via distribution of shares. Those shares are not equally distributed, nor of the same weight. Common stock has no voice. Preferred stock speaks for all, regardless of persuasion on any given issue. The majority shareholder is the determining factor in what that voice says.
    It is not, and was never intended to be, “democratic”.
    “What’s good for General Motors is good for the USA” will shortly replace e Pluribus Unum as our motto.

    Bill Moyers is a voice of reason crying in the wilderness. If only people would listen. Our country seems like a runaway train headed for the abyss. How can we stop this train wreck?

    Living in wisconsin I have first hand experience how wrong justice has gone. Justice has been sold to special interest groups in this state of a long time now. Sad but true. Unfortunatily many people still have their heads in the the idaological that it's really ot that dire.

    A modest proposal for rationalizing corporate campaign contributions:

    The Supreme Court tells us that dollars are the same as free speech, and that entities which have been delegated sovereign powers by the state which chartered them (shareholder immunity to suit, for example) have the same free speech rights as flesh and blood individuals.

    Therefore, let's eliminate the middle man. Let's have elections by money vouchers. Cashing a voucher counts as a vote. The voter chooses between the vouchers he receives. He endorses and submits one voucher he wants to cash for each candidate.

    Voters shall be sent vouchers for each candidate in an election. The voter can cash in his voucher for the candidate of his choice by signing it and sending it back. He will receive his money and the candidate will receive the vote designated by the voucher. Of course, the voter can only send in one voucher per candidate.

    This is a great system. If the voter sees that he will get $10 extra if he votes for candidate "A" but he knows that candidate "A" will raise his property taxes by $20, then he will accept the voucher for candidate "B" instead. On the other hand, if the voter is receiving $50 more for endorsing the voucher of candidate "A" rather than candidate "B", then the voter will make the rational decision and accept candidate "A" for a net gain of $30.

    The beauty of my system is that voters with a reliable record, can be targeted by corporations to receive higher voucher amounts.

    Another advantage of my system is wealth transfer to the poor. Imagine, if each impoverished and destitute voter were to receive a total of $500 or more just for participating in an election. Think what a boon that would be.

    People who would otherwise not receive a single benefit from their government could at least profit from the election of corporate stooges to high office.

    Let's take this system to its logical conclusion.

    This subject is so disturbing. If only the media would spend as much time on the matter of "Justice for Sale" as it does on salacious news more people would become aware of this undermining of our legal system. It must be addressed.

    After watching Justice for Sale in 1999, I made a decision that led me to spark a high profile judicial bribery investigation in Mississippi. As a result, my former attorney Paul Minor and judge John Whitfield were indicted and eventually convicted in 2007. This program changed my life. I wrote my story Toxic Justice, and became an activist for judicial reform. I spoke on Capital Hill and now use my website to publish stories about toxic justice in the US. http://www.nancyswan.com. I posted my prologue and first chapter on my website as well.

    I hope this story had the same impact on others that it had on me. Thanks, CIR, and Frontline, you changed my life so I could help others.

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