Over the weekend, nearly two million people took part in world-wide protests against Monsanto and genetically modified food. Despite demonstrations in over 400 cities, in 52 countries, there was hardly a peep about the event in the corporate media. Apparently, a Koch-Brothers-funded Tea Party march of 300 people is news-worthy… but two million protesters aren’t enough to risk upsetting the corporate masters.
This is why it’s so difficult to change our country. It’s bad enough that many of our lawmakers are bought and paid for with big business cash, but the corporate control of our news media is unacceptable. And, this is exactly why news reporting should not be a for-profit venture. When news networks are beholden to corporate sponsors, they focus on the stories they think will get the most viewers, and avoid reporting on anything that can paint their corporate masters in a negative light.
News used to be news, and entertainment used to be entertainment. The new system of infotainment ignores stories like the March Against Monsanto, and focuses in on anything that includes sex, lies, and scandals. It was news coverage of anti-war protests that helped stop Vietnam. It was unbiased reports of discrimination that helped end segregation, and pushed our nation toward equality. The news media covered these stories because they weren’t gagged by defense industry advertisers, and they weren’t competing with entertainment outlets for ratings.
If two million protesters aren’t enough to warrant attention, we will make it four million, or eight million, or ten. As March Against Monsanto organizer Tami Canal said, “We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet. If we don’t act, who’s going to?” Whether we’re against GMOs or war or austerity, we will stand together until our numbers cannot be ignored. And in the process of taking our country back, we will reclaim our news media as well.
Joe Sacco and I spent two years reporting from the poorest pockets of the United States for our book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.” We went into our nation’s impoverished “sacrifice zones” — the first areas forced to kneel before the dictates of the marketplace — to show what happens when unfettered corporate capitalism and ceaseless economic expansion no longer have external impediments. We wanted to illustrate what unrestrained corporate exploitation does to families, communities and the natural world. We wanted to challenge the reigning ideology of globalization and laissez-faire capitalism to illustrate what life becomes when human beings and the ecosystem are ruthlessly turned into commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. And we wanted to expose as impotent the formal liberal and governmental institutions that once made reform possible, institutions no longer equipped with enough authority to check the assault of corporate power.
WASHINGTON — Former Senate Majority Leader and ex-presidential candidate Bob Dole (R-Kan.) said Sunday that he is somewhat dismayed by the current state of Congress, where gridlock has prevented many legislative pushes from getting through.
“It seems almost unreal that we can’t get together on a budget or legislation,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We weren’t perfect, by a long shot, but at least we got our work done.”
This week, House Republicans are putting forward a bill called the “Northern Route Approval Act.” This bill overrides the President’s authority to make decisions on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Whatever you think about the Keystone Pipeline, this bill is blatantly unconstitutional. The Constitution provides for a legislative branch, which creates legislation — laws of general application. It also provides for an executive branch, which executes the laws. This is known as the separation of powers. The bill that the Republicans are putting forward is a clear violation of this principle.
The bill does one more thing: it bestows special favors on a foreign oil company, TransCanada. It lets the corporation build the Keystone XL pipeline without going through normal government approval processes, and even gives TransCanada a free right-of-way worth millions of dollars. House Republicans have said they want to get rid of Congressional earmarks. Yet here they are, bestowing an earmark anyway.
I challenged the Republicans on these points. I made two arguments, and put forward what is known as a “privileged resolution” outlining them. One, the House cannot vote on a bill that is unconstitutional. And two, under the House Rules that the Republicans insisted on, the House cannot vote on a bill that is a clear earmark. Contrary to the House Rules, the Chairman ruled this privileged resolution “out of order.”
I’m no longer going to let the Republicans get away with claiming that they care about the Constitution when they trample all over it. And if they are going to cry about earmarks, they are going to have to justify why they want to bestow a special earmark on a foreign oil company.
No more free passes.
It’s time to fight back.
Rep. Alan Grayson