Free Speech Becoming Too Expensive

First it was going to be term limits, everybody’s silver bullet for political corruption. Then it was lobbyist legislation. Next, the big buzz-word was campaign-finance legislation.

First it was going to be term limits, everybody’s silver bullet for political corruption. Then it was lobbyist legislation. Next, the big buzz-word was campaign-finance legislation.
No one has thus far enacted an anti-bribery law because the Congress is a co-conspirator. Congress itself equated free-speech with the ability to pay for free-speech and locked us in the “I can afford more free-speech than you” box, from which there seems no exit. All things considered, free speech is becoming too expensive for we ordinary people.

demographics are creatively met head-on by gerrymandered congressional
districts—so we still have Democrats and Republicans (to prove how free
we are) but they are sequestered like cattle into pens that assure
there will be no discourse. It’s merely a matter of which candidate the
party will select to win the district. Gerrymandered speech. Not free,
but then who’s complaining? Certainly not the 93% of congressmen and
Senators who are regularly and unfailingly returned to office.

So get used to crooked government, it’s here to stay.
We celebrate a national fable, an apologue we tell ourselves
periodically to keep the myth of representative government alive. That
fable has to do with ‘change.’

Change is the
most used, abused and meaningless word in political dialogue. If you
are on the outside of government, looking in, you are a harbinger of change. The change you promise in stentorian tones has been approved by the party (that doesn’t want change under any circumstance) and paid for by the commercial interests who vet their candidates before bankrolling them, to be sure they won’t actually change anything.

un-bankrolled candidate (independent, we smilingly tell ourselves) may
be an interesting contestant, someone who juices up the rhetoric and
makes us feel good about diversity, but he won’t win. Check with Ralph
Nader or Ross Perot for confirmation. So, what we get is what we get is
what we get and neither the ‘what’ or the ‘get’ is getting any better.

was (and is) smacked squarely between the eyes with expectations that
fail to match reality in the dust-up following the 2006 mid-term
election. Yes, Democrats took control of the House and Senate.

No, that control changed not a damned thing other than a string of staged evidences of outrage, followed by . . . by what? . . . actually, by nothing.
Nancy Pelosi (our national soccer-mom in all matters of constitutional authority) has taken impeachment off the table
for those who dined unwisely but too well on hubris steak and a
complicated dessert, ignorance in a cream sauce of the nation’s laws.
America has no idea how costly that meal may have been. Thus far, the waiter has failed to bring the check.

The troops are coming home, but only on stretchers and in coffins. A
can-do nation suddenly can’t do anything right as we privatize and
outsource everything from building hospitals in Iraq to
indiscriminately murdering Iraqi citizens in a Rambo-like Baghdad
theatre of fear.
Billions gone missing, along with national pride and the last shred
of an idea about what the hell we are doing. The pros and cons (below)
on term limits, lobbyist legislation and campaign-finance laws were
gleaned and edited from Wikipedia (parentheticals are mine) ;

In the matter of term limits as a solution to our legislative morass, those in favor
argue that limits prevent incumbents from using the benefits of office
to remain in power indefinitely. Statistically, merely being in office
provides an elected official with a better than 90% advantage of
reelection, thus incumbents no longer fear losing office and cease to
be concerned with the needs of their constituents.

further argue that limits stop politicians from making choices solely
to prolong their career, enhancing policies which will ensure their
long-term political survival, rather than furthering the interests of
voters (11% of whom thank them). They claim politicians knowing their
time in office is limited, will act differently and less self-servingly
than “career” legislators. Term limits remove seniority, ensuring that
each district has representatives of similar seniority.

There’s an obvious disconnect in my mind between identifying the
problem and offering a solution. Nearly all proposed fixes assume
corruption. If term limits are good, then why isn’t a lottery better? Select legislators just like we do jury participants, on a ‘period of service’ basis.
Better yet, why not merely enforce the laws against corruption? Because your and my Congress and  Supreme Court have made them meaningless.

Those against
claim limits result in a lack of experienced politicians, making them
more reliant on advice and guidance from un-elected officials and
lobbyists (just like they are now). Permanent committee staffers, who
ostensibly (?) work for the representatives, would become more
knowledgeable and powerful than the members themselves (a ludicrous
denial of the present truth).

Moreover, lobbyists in the
employ of special interests might tend to grow more powerful, as they
can offer to “help” inexperienced members gain a foothold (which they
now do much more directly by simply paying them). 

mean that politicians approaching their term limit no longer have to
worry about what voters think. In such a circumstance, a legislator
could use their last term to set themselves up for a job in the private
sector after the end of their legislative career (try not to laugh out

Moves to restrain lobbyists, as well as
those to limit campaign contributions run against the inevitable stone
wall of free speech (which has become meaningless in the sense that,
like fresh air, it has become captive to definition). Pausing
momentarily over this truism, let me make the case that ‘free speech’
is the ability to speak one’s mind without penalty. It does not
guarantee an audience, nor should it.

As an example,
if I am jailed for expressing these thoughts in either printed form or
actual speech, then my freedom of speech has been impinged. If the New York Times refuses to print this piece, for whatever reason, my rights have not been damaged. I can stand on a bucket in the park and freely speak my piece. 

The United States legislative branch in concert with the judiciary has contrived to make the ‘freedom to speak’ identical to the ‘freedom to purchase speech.’

It is not,
although in the slippery-slope department, we are already ass deep in
grass stains on a deliberately mussed definition. It was not without
guile that corporate America strove (and succeeded) to convince both
the Congress and the courts that ‘they’ are inseparable from the ‘individual we.’
They are not.
You and I know the difference, but thus far have been
otherwise occupied, either making money or in the increasingly
available pursuits of happiness. Amazingly, that slippery slope was
foretold in the time when all slopes were slippery;

can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every
essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and
ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going
downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the
people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights
disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of
making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect
for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked
off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made
heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in
convulsion—Thomas Jefferson, while debating the Constitution

We the people who enjoy free speech have morphed into we the corporations who demand those same freedoms in order to manipulate us. The Constitution does not say

“We the Corporations of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union . . . “

Yet, because of this orchestrated bait and switch, it may as well.
A corporation is many things, but it is not us. At least it used not to
be and was not during Jefferson’s labors. We might glance up from our
sole faculty of making money long enough to ask if the free speech we
were given individually, still fits us as individuals.

  • British Petroleum and Dow Chemical lie to us from double-page spreads in glossy magazines about their corporate crimes and call it free speech.
  • British Petroleum and Dow Chemical bribe our elected officials because (according to them) not to bribe them would impugn their right to free speech.
  • The National Rifle Association (NRA) asserts their right of free speech to extort votes
    in favor of armor piercing ‘cop-killer’ bullets and the right to swamp
    our society in weaponry– against the will of 70% of the electorate.
  • Congress is so hooked on the bribery of military contractors’
    lobbyists (for their reelection) that they dare not disentangle us from
    an unpopular and tragic war?
  • Americans are cowed cumulatively by the fear and demagoguery of
    ‘patriots’ like Dick Cheney and George Bush. Thus cowed, we allow Nancy
    Pelosi (a Democrat elected for that ubiquitous ‘change’ we are
    unendingly promised) to take impeachment off the table. The same table that Newt Gingrich sat down at with Tom DeLay for no other reason than to embarrass Bill Clinton?

Embarrassment, yes. High crimes and misdemeanors, a resounding no.
We know how to take back our country, but Jefferson himself has questioned our will to do it–a prediction 230 years old.

Congress itself is eager to get off the never ending fundraising
merry-go-round. They are sick to death of fund-raisers, yet they are
loath to speak for fear of their patrons’ wrath. There’s not a single
member of the Congress who favors ‘cop-killer’ bullets, but stand
against the NRA and get ready to retire.
So, each election sees a deeper cynicism and a declining percentage
of eligible voters actually pulling the lever. Corporations lie to us
and kill us in the name of profit and we know it. We are not powerless. We just fail and fail and fail to name the culprit.

Our voice has been taken away. A sitting Congress with an 11% approval rate is evidence enough of that. Government of, for and by the people has
been swiped from under our noses. There’s no other word for it—swiped
like an unattended purse on a table—run off with in a shell-game, while
we looked for the pea under the shell called change.
We do not need change—we need to take back speech and prevent its
perversion. That will bring change. Our deliverance, not theirs. It is
not theirs to deliver, it’s ours.

If we are
to prove Jefferson wrong, we have to take back our Constitutional
rights. In order to do that, we have to take back the language of those rights from those who would muddy the meaning of language to their own benefit. We and people are merely words.

We the people is language.

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