By Contributor on October 08, 2013

By Stephen C. Webster

Speaking outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) warned that the nation’s justices are preparing to cement the power of American oligarchs to influence elections through unlimited campaign donations.

Oral arguments on McCutcheon v. FEC began Tuesday with the court’s conservative majority signaling a readiness to overturn regulations that set limits on how much an individual may donate to political parties and candidates themselves.

With such a ruling so soon after the court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed corporations and unions to give unlimited sums to super PACs, a perfect money storm in the American political process may yet be on the horizon.

“Right now, as we speak, in the House of Representatives, there are people who are being threatened that if they vote for what we call a clean CR, to open the government without destroying the Affordable Care Act, then huge sums of money will be spent against them in the next election,” Sanders said Tuesday, standing on the steps of the Supreme Court. “We are living in a society where a handful of people with incredible sums of money, folks like the Koch brothers and others, are undermining what this democracy is supposed to be about.”

“The bottom line here is, if we don’t want to move this nation to an oligarchic form of society, where a handful of billionaires can determine the outcome of these elections, then it is imperative that not only we overturn Citizens United, but that we put a lid on how much people can contribute to elections,” he added. “Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to bribe the United States government.”

Sanders was joined in spirit by President Barack Obama, who told reporters during a mid-afternoon press conference on Tuesday that he believes the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United contributed significantly to the Republican Party’s decision to force a government shutdown. The president also warned that a similar ruling in McCutcheon could spell disaster.

“The latest case would go even further than Citizens United,” he said. “It would essentially say anything goes. There are no rules in terms of how to finance campaigns. There aren’t a lot of functioning democracies around the world that work this way where you can basically have millionaires and billionaires bankrolling whoever they want, however they want, in some cases undisclosed. What it means is ordinary Americans are shut out of the process.”

This video is from YouTube, published Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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