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Labor Day 2009: Rise of the Vampire Corpobots
Expanded from the 9-6-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

This Wednesday, a demonstrably pro-business U.S. Supreme Court may engrave the headstone marking the final resting place of our former representative democracy.

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The case at hand is so important that the Supremes have moved the traditional start of the court's new term from the first Monday in October to the second Tuesday of September.

Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission could put immortal vampire corporations in permanent control of the nation. If you think matters can't get worse, you haven't been paying attention to the phony health care debate.

Citizens United produced a little-watched 2008 film entitled Hillary: The Movie. You can imagine what it said about you-know-who and her husband.

The Federal Election Commission (currently chaired by former Reno lawyer Steve Walther) busted the sponsoring front group because it had received corporate funding.

It has long been illegal for corporations to directly bankroll federal election campaigns. Corporations can contribute unlimited money to non-federal races, which explains how the mining and gambling industries keep Nevada a company town.

The central issue before the court is whether corporations enjoy the same free speech rights as individuals.

All of this is rooted in a very, very old mistake by the Supreme Court itself.

"In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company (1886), Justice Harlan, delivering the opinion of the court, said the question regarding whether a corporation is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment is an issue upon which the Court 'did not deem it necessary to pass,'” according to

"In the head notes of the case prepared by Supreme Court reporter J. C. Bancroft Davis, (it reads) 'The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution...'

"Because of illness, Chief Justice Morrison Remick Waite never reviewed the head notes.Thus, without any deliberation, decision or ruling by the United States Supreme Court, the law of our nation has proceeded since 1886 with an accepted legal precedent based on the mistake of a clerk who reported something that never occurred."

I have long screamed against our current system of fully tax-deductible corporate propaganda campaigns which have performed wondrous tasks such as making smoking stylish for women, allowing them to eclipse guys in the lung cancer stats.

On Labor Day weekend in 1994, I wrote "For decades, corporate America has spent billions on 'corporate communications,' forcing helpless workers into 'economic education' and 'human relations' classes. It worked. A good number of union workers voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980. For 70 years, corporate America has daily distributed hundreds of free newspaper editorials and magazine articles, often under the auspices of some high-sounding think tank or 'policy research' center. The Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the American Enterprise Institute and many others dance to the tune of the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable. They ship pamphlets, tapes and films to schools and companies across the land, all subsidized by the worker who pays taxes."

Shortly before President Nixon appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court, Lewis Powell wrote a memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He urged business "to buy the top academic reputations in the country" to put out slanted studies backing up the anti-worker, anti-government line.

Propaganda is never having to say you're sorry

Big Tobacco Strikes Back
NY Times Editorial / 9-7-2009

The Guns of August
Frank Rich/NY Times/8-23-2009

A public option that works
NY Times / 8-23-2009

Public Option Dead
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio


Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History
Lewis Lapham/Harper's/Sept. 2004

"It was a virtual manifesto for the neo-conservative movement," author Alex Carey stated.

In 1978, when corporate America was spending a billion dollars a year on propaganda, Justice Powell authored a majority decision upholding the taxpayer subsidy of such claptrap. Thus was the gun loaded for the corporate-funded assassination of national health care '94, aka Hillarycare.

Conservative Justice Byron "Whizzer" White strongly dissented: "The special status of corporations has placed them in a position to control vast amounts of economic power which may, if not regulated, dominate not only the economy but also the very heart of our democracy, the electoral process. The State need not permit its own creation to consume it," White wrote.

Professor Carey made some recommendations on how to battle the P.R. beast.

Advocacy advertising unrelated to a company's product or service is not tax deductible "but there is in fact much tax evasion in this connection," so IRS enforcement must be tightened, he said.

On the latest edition of Bill Moyers' Journal (see, attorney Trevor Potter noted that this playing field is already very unequal.

Corporations are able to marshal huge resources to have their way. Lifting long-accepted legal limits on campaign contributions would turn their de facto (actual, in fact) dominance of the country into control de jure (by right or law).

This battle has put the National Rifle Association, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on the side of total deregulation, while former Common Cause leader Fred Wertheimer supports the "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002." Better known as McCain-Feingold, the lower court upheld the law in ruling that the financing of the Hillary hatchet job was illegal.

THE SORE BOTTOM LINE. Americans consider themselves rugged individuals, independent as the day is long. With that attitude, you'd think they'd react with outrage when told to go screw themselves. As the current corporate-funded propaganda campaign against national health care has proven, about half of Americans will indeed compliantly go screw themselves when ordered to do so by corporate propagandists who stand to profit from such rape and pillage.

And we can't even kiss ourselves afterward.

READ MORE ABOUT IT. The expanded web edition of this column at will have links to many past commentaries on these issues as well as to material by Alex Carey and Lewis Lapham.

CELEBRATE THE ANTIDOTE TO CORPORATE PROPAGANDA. Attend the grand opening of Sierra Nevada Community Access Television's fancy new digs this Tuesday from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Meadowood Mall. The only remaining non-operational aspect is the broadcast studio which houses the TV-web simulcast of my daily live call-in talk show. I am thus heading fundraising to get community radio station KJIV back online and ready for an fm launch. Go to ReSurge.TV for more information, to get on my mailing list, contribute or volunteer.

Spread the word.

Be well. Raise hell.


Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, second vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate and editor of As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Reruns of his legislative session TV programs are cablecast Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m. on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital channels 16 and 216 and high-definition channel 80-295, available on demand at Barbwire.TV. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Smoking Guns...

Propaganda fuels gasoline price fixing
Barbwire 8-14-2005

The Dean's List

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries
And they wonder why the newspaper business is dying?

...and more ammo

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know

Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.

NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Alternet 5-20-2007

Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.

Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate.

Review of Alex Carey's Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below

ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

     By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

     Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.

Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required.

      BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey

      BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy

The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Barbwire 9-10-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966 | U-News | Bulletins + Almanac
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
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Copyright © 1982-2009 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, editor of and, former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee and serves as second vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

He hosts news and talk Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m., at
Barbwire.TV and Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter digital cable channels 16 and 216, high-definition channel 80-295. Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988 and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.

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