“No!” to Corrupt Voting System, “Yes!”to Taking It to The Streets

The official stance of Sparking The Left is that voting in so-called democratic elections is useless. It is taking part in a corrupt system.

This opinion is based upon the fact that I would never waste my vote for either of the two dominating political parties out of respect for my own personal dignity.

You probably miss it in the media because it is so common that the media does not report it: Candidates host fundraisers at places like Goldman Sachs and/or JP Morgan Chase all of the time for campaign contributions. They also raise money from special lobbying groups, too, like the pharmaceutical industry and automaker groups. This is every presidential candidate, every leader in Congress, and both the Democratic and Republican party in whole. It’s just the nature of the corrupt beast. They get ridiculous amounts of cash from Wall St so they remain too big to fail. Pharmaceutical prices remain sky high. The auto industry makes cars in the cheapest way by doing the bare minimum to keep cars safe and reduce the amount of pollution they omit. And deregulation is at the center of it all.

Wall St. and special interest groups are not concerned with the well-being of the country. Don’t get that wrong. They are capitalists. They are insuring their financial and/or cultural interests. This is a way of keeping the working class under control. You may think that you are first in the minds of our leaders, but you’re not. This system puts in politicians who are funded and lobbied by individuals and business groups so as to keep their interests first and foremost.

And remember this: One party doesn’t care about the poor; the other party pretends to care about the poor. Don’t think candidates of either party has not sold their soul to Wall St. They hold huge debts to big business and use it as a trade-off: they rule in the interest of those donating large campaign fund amounts.

Therefore, the official stance of STL is to abstain from voting.

If you consider voting a good vehicle for change, go ahead. I’m not here to force my opinion on you. But STL believes in protests, occupations, direct action, mass actions, strikes, and general strikes. The effectiveness of street politics through solidarity is more powerful than participating in our voting system when such a radical change is needed. Voting is just crumbs thrown to us by the rich and powerful to keep us calm and obedient so we don’t threaten the real decision holders: the elite rich.

The United States: Governing its Way to Foreign Rule

A recent article in Foreign Policy points out the growing amount of foreign companies buying and taking over long time American favorites.  A few highlights from the piece:

The company leading the purchase of Heinz is a Brazilian private equity firm, 3G. Never heard of it? Well, 3G also happens to own Burger King Corp., which it bought for $3.3 billion in 2010.

Budweiser, that great American icon and Bud Light, the best-selling beer in the United States, are now owned by a consortium headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and run by a Brazil-born CEO.

Europe-based multi-nationals and investors already own a bevy of American brands. The names may surprise many Americans: Gerber, Holiday Inn Hotels, Vaseline, Hellman’s Mayonnaise, Alka-Seltzer, Ray-Ban, LensCrafters, Lysol, Woolite, Motel 6, Trader Joe’s, and on and on.

Nothing illegal to see here. Struggle along now.

The Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Company is owned by SABMiller, a company launched in South Africa in 1895…now based in London…While Chrysler Motors is owned by Italy’s Fiat, the iconic Chrysler Building in New York City is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council.

Grupo Bimbo, a Mexico-based food conglomerate, bought the North America bakery operations of cakes maker Sara Lee in 2011.

So, should this concern us?  Well, if we were rational people with rational election and lobbying laws, it shouldn’t since the influence of these companies would not matter much once their ownership became foreign.  The problem is we aren’t rational people and neither are our laws.

Last year, I commented on the idea of unrestrained capitalism leading to a one world-type of government conspiracy theorists fear so much.  It seems we are continuing down that path with all the business transactions mentioned in the Foreign Policy article.  Citizens United opened the floodgates for these corporations to use their money to influence our elected officials at every level and they are sparing no expense to do just that.

Take a look at a couple of the corporations mentioned and their spending on influencing politicians.  Anheuser-Busch spent $1.5 million on campaign and PAC donations and another $7 million on lobbying in the 2012 election cycle.  HSBC’s tab: $387k and $5 million in those areas.  And let’s not forget Fox News’ parent, News Corp, also owned by a foreigner.  Its bill: $1.6 million in contributions and $13 million on lobbying efforts.

If corporations have no trouble spending this kind of money on elections in the U.S., what is to stop them from passing all the laws they want in every democra$y that will li$ten?  The answer is essentially this: nothing.

The key point we have to remember is, despite the Supreme Court ridiculously ruling that corporations count as people, these corporations are run by people and these people have self-serving agendas when it comes to the laws governing what they do.  If they can buy their way into the government and shape the laws into what they want, they will do it in every country that will allow it leading to every country having the same laws on the books for these corporations.

And if we are truly patriotic, why would we allow this when we can see it coming?  Or what should really be asked, who are the people telling us we should allow this and what is their interest?  When we turn on Fox “News”, I wonder what the opinions on this issue would be from the pundits on there?

Oh, well.  We can probably ignore this one.  I’m sure whoever is pedaling the influence has the best interest of their countrymen in mind…whoever their countrymen might be…

Inaccurate Perception of Campaign Spending

An article in the NY Times yesterday made the argument the advantage gained from money in this presidential campaign has been even between Romney and Obama.  The argument is laid out nice and clear but it minimizes an important reality of money in this campaign and its relation to true democracy.  The article only briefly mentions anything even related to this element:

But Mr. Obama and the Democrats, buoyed by millions of small donors, have raised a vast majority of his cash directly for his campaign committee, which under federal law is entitled to preferential ad rates over political parties and super PACs.

Freedom of $peech
Freedom of $peech

In all fairness, it was clearly not the intention of the authors to address the point I’m arguing but it warrants a further look.  The fact is one candidate has garnered the financial support of a far larger number of people – in awful economic times, no less – than the opposing candidate yet hasn’t translated this larger support to a larger lead in the polls despite shrewd spending, according to the article.  This should be acknowledged and recognized for what it means: money is power in political campaigns and it can win elections in a more efficient way than quality of the candidate or issue positions.  Anyone arguing this was the intent of the Founding Fathers and what should constitute equality in democracy has a seriously distorted view of the word democracy.

It is difficult to measure the actual effect of money in the presidential campaign at this time but something should certainly be noted.  Without the smaller number of wealthy donors giving millions to both the Romney campaign and the super PACs supporting him, the race would not even be close right now.  If Romney and Obama’s donors were restricted to giving only capped amounts to their candidate of preference or their super PAC, Obama would be dominating because of the better ground game.  For now, as mentioned in the article, they are keeping pace with Romney because of a more strategic use of funds.

But the question that should be asked is “would Romney be even with Obama in the general polls without an overall advantage in money?”  The answer is almost assuredly, no.  Romney should be given some credit for not making any devastatingly bad mistakes in the eyes of the general public, such as making a costly choice in vice-presidential running mate.  But even most on the right would admit he is not the greatest of candidates and in some ways is simply an awful choice to try to rally behind.  The right is not really excited about him and recognizes he is just not that great of a presidential candidate.  Which brings us to a final point.

If a presidential candidate, supported financially by a small number of people in comparison to his opponent and supported reluctantly by his own party, still has a chance to win the election because of the wealth of his donors, isn’t something seriously wrong with our electoral system?  It’s a sad state of affairs but I suppose we are stuck with it for the time being.

GOP & Social Darwinism

An article in the NYT reporting quotes from Mitt Romney from a closed door fundraiser posted on the Mother Jones website that must be read.

Talking about how 47% of the country’s population see themselves as “victims” and expect to be supported by the government. This is both false and sickening.

It seems that the social darwinist ideologies of the early 20th century are alive and well amongst the right wing and GOP.

(You can find a slew of op-eds on this subject in both the NYT and the Post).
Read Here.

The Myth of Voter Fraud & Those Taking Advantage of the Lies

A great article in the NYT on True the Vote, a national group focused on voter fraud, and their actions in many minority voting districts in swing states. It also covers how True the Vote and similar groups have no proof of the massive voter fraud they claim is rampant across the nation. They are just their to prevent and intimidate the minority vote.

Read Here


On the Occupy Movement and Lehman Brothers Collapse On Year Later

Another good NYT op-ed by Joe Nocera on the upcoming anniversary (9/17/2011) of the fall of Lehman Bros. and the beginning of the Occupy movement.

Read Here. 

Rich Politicians’ Supposed Impoverished Past A Joke

A good article here from the Post by Richard Cohen on how at the RNC & DNC, politicians and their wives tried to identify with “common people” by reminiscing about their supposed days of poverty. Cohen, though, points out how they all had some advantage with which to escape a life of being poor that most of impoverished people do not have the luxury of possessing.

Read Here.


Elgible Voter Disputes Expected in Courts Post-Election

A good article in the NYT explaining how the battles over voter elgibility in battleground states may lead to 2000-like legal battles over who won the Presidential election.

The problem here is conservative efforts to hinder the voting power of poor minorities who vote Democrat. These strong-handed measures are no different than poll taxes and literacy tests of the Jim Crowe era.

Read Here.


Kansas City, Kan. Poor Fight for High-Speed Internet

A great article in the NYT about how in Kansas City, Kan., the poor area of town is being denied high-speed internet access due to a lack of money, understanding of the service, and various other reasons that would affect the effort in any mostly black, urban center across this nation.

But in the east-end of K.C., there are drives of various sorts and grants provided for users organized by local citizens and leaders with Google in the community.  These drives are the best way to get access to recent technology to the poor which could help bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots in K.C.

Read Here.



Two Months Until The Presidential Election

Democracy is the worst system devised by the wit of man, except for all the others.

This is the famous quote by Winston Churchill and I print it here because the Presidential election is just two months away. Here is a great article by The Post on the current state of the back-and-forth jockeying by the two candidates and what is yet to be. It’s just too terrible that neither represent the real change in the system or in our policies that will not cure rampant injustice on the domestic front or internationally.

Read Here.