Tag Archives: Corporations

Hobby Lobby: The Corporation Cult & Creeping Theocracy

1 Jul

From browser

On Monday, an all-male majority chorus of Supreme Court Justices determined that a for-profit corporation’s right to exercise its religion is inviolable, and women should probably dummy up and why aren’t they barefoot and pregnant, making them a sandwich in the kitchen, by the way? 

To clarify the ruling’s logic

(a) people have a right to free exercise of religion, under the Constitution but within the context of this case, pursuant to the 1993 “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”
(b) corporations are people; 
(c) therefore, closely held (non-publicly-traded) for-profit corporations are free to impose their owners’ “sincere religious beliefs” on employees. 

The RFRA sets up a scheme whereby a law of general applicability that allegedly interferes with a person’s free exercise of religion be strictly scrutinized to determine if it is constitutional.  The law was passed in response to American Indians’ complaints that federal actions were interfering with their ability to practice their religion and hold services. It also extends to American Indians’ use of peyote in services, and it has been cited as protecting Rastafarians from prosecution for marijuana possession.

When your smug Obama-hating buddies start in with “unconstitutional”, that’s not this case. The Hobby Lobby decision did not rule on the constitutionality of anything. 

The law is designed to protect people’s ability to worship by applying strict scrutiny to any accusation that a law of general application is violating someone’s free exercise rights. “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” The test a court will apply assesses whether the burden on religion is in the  “furtherance of a compelling government interest.” The interest must be more than just routine, or a simple efficiency improvement, and relates instead to “core constitutional issues”. Secondly, the rule must be the least restrictive way in which to further the government interest.

Hobby Lobby, however, is not a person and is not exercising a religion. It is a corporate entity – a legal fiction – that sells picture frames and scrapbooking supplies. It’s not a “small business”, because this craft store chain has 15,000 employees and over 550 stores nationwide. It’s a closely held corporation, meaning it has corporate status but its shares are not publicly traded. Its fictional corporate “personhood” enables Hobby Lobby to operate and enter into contracts while limiting shareholder liability. The owners of Hobby Lobby’s shares are all evangelical Christians, and they make much of that on the company’s website. 

Hobby Lobby offers health insurance to its employees, but in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act, the policies needed to cover certain types of contraceptives. Hobby Lobby claims that it objected only to 4 of the 20 specified drugs and devices, because it believes them to be abortifacients – a point that is, itself, open to debate. (Plan B, Ella, and two types of IUDs were affected. These are the morning-after and week-after pill and prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. The Health and Human Services regulation at issue did not mandate RU-486 be covered. Scientifically, these are not “abortifacients”). 

Hobby Lobby itself was not mandated to hand contraceptives or IUDs to its employees, but merely to offer health insurance plans that covered them. Hobby Lobby argued that this mandate violated the company’s right to freely exercise its religion and sought injunctive relief enabling them to not pay for coverage of the four objectionable drugs and devices.

Writing for the majority, Justice Alito sided with Hobby Lobby. The majority, assuming the government had a compelling interest at stake, had a less intrusive way of meeting its goals. For instance, the government could pay for the devices and drugs itself, or mandate the insurers to pay for them. 

So, the outrage over Hobby Lobby is overblown insofar as it’s being made to seem as if the company objected to all contraception. It is not, however, overblown on two other points; namely, the notion that corporations are somehow sentient beings that have “faith”, and the notion that your employer can interfere with and micromanage the coverages you contract for with your health insurer. Remember – it is the policyholder who is the contracting party. 

As Justice Ginsburg’s dissent pointed out, this is a wild expansion of corporate rights at the expense of individual liberties. She noted that the majority’s decision, “invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faiths.” The majority basically responded that this was all no biggie. 

Corporate personhood is a legal fiction – a convenience. Yet now we’re to believe that fictional people can hold real religious beliefs – and in many cases, the rights of the fictional person override the rights of a human being. Hobby Lobby as a corporation cannot exercise religion – physically or otherwise. This is the right-wing elite’s dream of expanding the cult of the corporation – something that kicked off when the Citizens United case declared that corporations can have 1st Amendment rights to spend unlimited money to influence elections. 

Justice Alito explained why corporations should sometimes be regarded as persons. “A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends,” he wrote. “When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to protect the rights of these people.”

Justice Ginsburg said the commercial nature of for-profit corporations made a difference.

“The court forgets that religious organizations exist to serve a community of believers,” she wrote. “For-profit corporations do not fit that bill.”

If Hobby Lobby can, by dint of its religious personhood, pick and choose which statutes and regulations of general application it will follow, the same is true of any closely held corporation, regardless of religion. If Hobby Lobby can exercise religion and reject a health insurance mandate for certain prescriptions, then any for-profit corporation can claim “free exercise” and religion rights to reject anti-discrimination laws in hiring, or public accommodations laws. How soon before companies like Hobby Lobby have a “no gays need apply” signs out front, or “no handicapped applicants will be considered”, or “transgendered people and transvestites stay out”. 

With this ruling, it should be mandatory that companies such as Hobby Lobby issue a formal disclosure of the corporate entity’s religious beliefs so that employees can make an informed choice whether to be employed there. It won’t, though, because we have elevated corporate personhood above human personhood, and we have elevated Christianity above all other religious beliefs. 

Welcome to the new theocracy.

Chris Lee & the Zadroga 9/11 Health Care Bill

29 Sep

Today, the House passed the Zadroga 9/11 Health Care Bill 268 – 160. Named for a New York City police officer who responded on 9/11 and died in 2006 from a respiratory illness that’s been causally linked to exposure to chemicals in the air on that day, the bill provides a $7.4 billion fund for the medical expenses and other compensation to those whose health is similarly affected.

To pay for it, Congress closed a loophole exploited by many nominally American, and multinational corporations whose headquarters are removed to foreign tax havens in an effort to avoid or minimize exposure to US corporate income taxes. The Zadroga bill closes that loophole and requires those companies to pay taxes on income earned from business in the US.

The sole member of the New York State congressional delegation to vote against guaranteeing health care and monitoring for the heroes of 9/11 was Chris Lee from NY-26. Lee’s objection? He can’t STAND the government having the job-killing audacity to expect companies making a profit in the United States to actually pay income taxes on those profits. Only the little people pay taxes.

So, there you have it.

When given a choice to stand with the heroes of 9/11, or to stand with tax-avoiding multinational corporations, Chris Lee stands with big business.

Bad News Rundown

23 Jun

Monday was a steady stream of bad news for smart people.  I ended the day wondering what the hell happened, let’s review.

1.) General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of all US and NATO Forces in Afghanistan, essentially told the President, Congress and the American People to eat a big bag of shit.  McChrystal was a Cheney man, a noted overseer of torture and general Special Ops badass who was put in charge to kick ass and center the troops around a mission of “winning” in Afghanistan and doing it in a hurry.  He has been political trouble for Obama from jump street, but Obama has stood by him and now that we’re at a critical juncture in the counter-insurgency, McChrystal decided to essentially motherfuck everyone in the chain of command.  The Republicans will trip all over themselves to set the discussion agenda tomorrow and turn this into a test of Obama’s failed leadership or other such meme.  Good times.  Also, anyone curious as to why this General (who is evidently widely known for this sort of behavior) received a pass on it from the Defense Department beat reporters?  It took a freelancer to get the story, primarily because he wasn’t worried about losing his “sources”.   Sad state of journalism in this country…

2.) The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, reduced the First Amendment rights of American Citizens.  This was the first SCOTUS test of free speech against new national security standards (Patriot Act, etc.)

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law that makes it a crime to provide “material support” to foreign terrorist organizations, even if the help takes the form of training for peacefully resolving conflicts.

The case arose after an American human rights group, the Humanitarian Law Project, challenged the law prohibiting “material support” to terror groups, which was defined in the 2001 Patriot Act to include “expert advice or assistance.” The law project wanted to provide advice to two terrorist groups on how to peacefully resolve their disputes and work with the United Nations. The two groups — the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party — have violent histories and their presence on the State Department’s official list of terrorist groups is not in dispute.

But though the law project was actually trying to reduce the violence of the two groups, the court’s opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. on behalf of five other justices, said that did not matter and ruled the project’s efforts illegal. Even peaceful assistance to a terror group can further terrorism, the chief justice wrote, in part by lending them legitimacy and allowing them to pretend to be negotiating while plotting violence.

In a powerful dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer, also speaking for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, swept away those arguments. If providing legitimacy to a terror group was really a crime, he wrote, then it should also be a crime to independently legitimize a terror group through speech, which it is not. Never before, he said, had the court criminalized a form of speech on these kinds of grounds, noting with particular derision the notion that peaceful assistance buys negotiating time for an opponent to achieve bad ends.

3.) A federal judge overturned President Obama’s six month moratorium on deep water oil drilling.

The judge in New Orleans who struck down the moratorium earlier in the day complained there wasn’t enough justification for it.

I guess the oil needs to be lapping at the courthouse door for him to see the “evidence”.  Of course, the judge does have significant investments in deepwater drilling companies, although I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

4.) Our “financial reform bill” that will supposedly “place tough regulations” (hack,cough) on Wall Street companies is being weakened yet again by Republicans and investment bank friendly Democrats in conference committee.

Levin and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), are the principal authors of legislation to strictly limit banks’ and other financial firms’ ability to make speculative trades with their profits. The idea originated with former Fed chair and Obama economic adviser Paul Volcker, who strongly backs the Levin-Merkley proposal. But they’re fighting Wall Street and an array of Democrats negotiating the final bill, who want to include a loophole that would allow banks to invest a potentially significant share of their capital in high-risk hedge funds. Levin and others are pushing back, but their time is limited: the conference committee will discuss the Volcker rule and the banks’ new favorite loophole tomorrow.

5.) Why do you think BP caved so easily on the idea of putting together a $20BN escrow fund to compensate the victims of their oil disaster?  I think the answer is in the last two paragraphs of this story in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

6.) This is what a failed democracy looks like.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that the Federal Communications Commission is holding “closed-door meetings” with industry to broker a deal on Net Neutrality — the rule that lets users determine their own Internet experience.

The meetings include a small group of industry lobbyists representing the likes of AT&T, Verizon, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Google. They reportedly met for two-and-a-half hours on Monday morning and will convene another meeting today. The goal according to insiders is to “reach consensus” on rules of the road for the Internet.

This is what a failed democracy looks like: After years of avid public support for Net Neutrality – involving millions of people from across the political spectrum – the federal regulator quietly huddles with industry lobbyists to eliminate basic protections and serve Wall Street’s bottom line.

We need open debate and transparent policymaking, unfortunately, we live in a corporatist state dominated by lobbyist influence.  We get the results out of the system that we plan for.

To end on a positive note, Carl Sagan always makes me feel better.  The Pale Blue Dot…


Tax Day Ruminations

16 Apr

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Yesterday was April 15th, tax day.  I filed my tax forms in February, but I got to thinking about the final page of my tax return which showed that I paid an effective tax rate of 6.31% on my income, dividends and capital gains to the federal government and New York State.

This doesn’t account for payroll tax, sales tax (eligible for deduction), or property tax (some of which was deducted) that I also paid throughout the year.  However, I paid 11% less in total tax dollars this year than I did in 2008 or 2007.  I guess I’m one of the 95% of Americans who got a tax cut this year…

I think the money I pay provides a fair return in services.  You might not agree and you’re entitled to your opinion.

It also got me to thinking about this report, which shows that the money I paid far outstripped what Exxon Mobil paid to the federal government.  Now, I’m doing pretty well for myself, but I certainly don’t generate $35,000,000,000 in profit, either.

How much did Exxon Mobil pay in United States taxes last year?  Zero.  Zilch.  Zip.  Nada.

How could that be, you ask?  After all, their balance sheets show a substantial tax burden in the United States.  It’s complicated, but they carefully manipulate the amount owed through complex transfer pricing agreements, international subsidiaries, deferrals, foreign holding companies, shell financial agencies in low tax countries and other vagaries and intricacies of the corporate tax code.

Once you get to the bottom line, their balance sheet shows a zero net tax liability in the United States.  You paid more in usage taxes for the privilege of buying their product at the pump than they paid in federal taxes.

In fact, between 1998-2005, two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes.

Where does all of that lead us?

To a point where fundamental tax code reform needs to be put on the table and debated seriously.  Candidate Obama pledged to close these offshore loopholes in order to reduce the tax burden which is annually shifted on to the American taxpayer.  President Obama has yet to take meaningful steps to enact that legislation.  Primarily because it’s not politically expedient right now and the right wing would collectively throw a conniption fit and start with the “going galt” nonsense if it was even put on the table.

If the legislation to close overseas loopholes is enacted and the tax code simplified, we can begin rational discussions about lowering the marginal tax rates on American corporations.  First, we broaden the base and then we reform the regulations, it’s not complicated if discussed by rational parties.

The statutory rate for American corporations is 35%, which no company actually pays.  In fact, when compared to other industrialized nations, we collect less in corporate tax as a percentage of overall GDP than the sizable majority of industrialized nations.  Closing the offshore loopholes will broaden the tax base.

Once that is complete, we begin rational discussion about lowering the marginal rate for corporation, perhaps to an level equivalent to Canada, 19%.  Close loopholes, simplify the code, reduce the rate for corporations.

At the very least, can we at least all get behind the idea that maybe, just maybe…Exxon should pay more in taxes to the United States government than Chris Smith in Buffalo?

Informing The Present

14 Feb

Picture chosen because after re-reading this article, it seems sanctimonious and douchey.

Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how my readers perceive the arguments, theories and opinions I put forth on this website.  The lens through which each of you views the individual articles I write about journalism, government, economic development, corporations and general current events.  I always feel the need to link heavily to other sources because I want you to understand not just the subject matter, but how I’ve come to my established position on the issue.  It’s also a way for me to keep track of my thoughts and a running journal of my own positional development.

Each day, I update a segment of my sidebar with articles I read or sites I find interesting, which inform much of what I write here.  It’s on the right and it’s labeled “Your Daily Homework”.   I suppose the title is a bit condescending, but I intend for it to be a general supplement to your daily news consumption at WNYM.  You can either check that sidebar for current links or you can simply subscribe to my Delicious feed by clicking here.  It’s a daily compendium of what I read and leads to a lot of posts not just on my personal corner of WNYM, but on others as well.

Aside from that, each weekend, I’m going to post some videos or links to longer form content which provides a bit of a backstory on how I see the world.  Do I think there is a thirsty bunch of readers out there longing to be quenched with the dew of my intelligence or experience?  Umm, no.  However, if you come here frequently (and a couple thousand of you do each day), I thought you might be interested in the content which informs my opinion and what tweaks my Id and Ego.

This week, I’d like to present a series of videos culled from a BBC4 documentary called The Century of the Self.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, changed the perception of the human mind and its workings. His influence on the twentieth century is generally considered profound. The series describes the ways public relations and politicians have utilized Freud’s theories during the last 100 years for the “engineering of consent”.

Freud himself and his nephew Edward Bernays, who was the first to use psychological techniques in public relations, are discussed. Freud’s daughter Anna Freud, a pioneer of child psychology, is mentioned in the second part, as is one of the main opponents of Freud’s theories, Wilhelm Reich, in the third part.

Along these general themes, The Century of the Self asks deeper questions about the roots and methods of modern consumerism, representative democracy and its implications. It also questions the modern way we see ourselves, the attitude to fashion and superficiality.

Take some time during the next week to watch these videos and let me know what you think of them.  How have corporations and politicians influenced our choices by permanently altering our culture from one based on need to one based on wants and desires, both conscious and unconscious.  Perhaps it will lead to some interesting dialogue.  Unless we understand the fundamental origins of culture, it’s hard to discuss how to change it or shape it in the future.

While huge advances in culture, technology, and wealth are sourced to this engineered consent, there is a darker side.  Ever get frustrated when your fellow citizens don’t vote or get involved in causes or political movements or simply ignore massive corruption in leadership?  This series of videos gives us the insight into how the docile mind and the all-consuming self has been engineered.

Part 1:  Happiness Machines







Part 2, The Engineering of Consent

SCOTUS Follow-Up

22 Jan

Back in September, when the case was being argued, I wrote a piece on the corporate citizen-hood/free speech suit appearing before the Supreme Court. At the time, I advocated for free speech to be upheld, and it was yesterday, by the predictable 5-4 vote. Now the hand-wringing about the evils of irresponsibile corporations has begun anew. Alan is conflicted about whether its good or bad. Others are less generous, and seem to believe 2012 was reality TV. But don’t worry – the world is not ending, and this decision is more narrow than the hand wringers admit.

First, the principle. Corporations, for-profit and non-profit, special interest and business related, big and small, are just groups of people who get together for a similar purpose. Why those people should lose their collective right to free speech once they join that group is not at all clear. The specifics of this case are important: the FEC regulated a blatantly political movie 30 days out from an election, because it was political speech. If that political speech can be restricted, what else? Corporations produce books on political topics, and corporations produce “news programs” on political topics. At the moment, Newscorp (FOX) and GE (MSNBC) get their opinion out, but few others.

Second, the reality. First, and most importantly, his ruling DOES NOT ALLOW UNRESITRICTED DONATIONS TO POLTICIANS, no matter what opinion you may read to the contrary. It allows corporations to run as many TV ads as they want within 30 days of an election. Up until now, politicians and parties could only run ads during that time. Since special interests could, and can still, donate unlimited soft money to the parties, they still had the ability to advertise, but only when using the pass through. The main difference this decision may make? The “Paid for” byline at the bottom of the ads will change from DNC to Your Friendly Neighborhood Energy Companies or CSEA.

The second reality issue is that corporate money is better spent many other ways. If I am a large evil corporation that wishes to influence policy, my money is better spent lobbying a specific senator on a specific committee, rather than television advertising. This does not open the flood gates to corporate and union money in politics. Its already there, and being spent more effectively on K-street lobbying firms. 

Which leads us to the final point. Chris Smith uses yesterday’s ruling as an opportunity to advance his cause of publicly funded elections. Its a campaign that is as earnest as it is misguided and impractical. The goal itself is laudable: politicians uncorrupted by monetary influences would presumably create better policy. The best argument for this is the current presence of money and absence of statesmanlike thought. But disenfranchisement and limiting free speech are not the way to achieve this. Our free public square discourse has devolved into a shouting match. But allowing no one to speak (or everyone to whisper) is worse. There is an illiberal reflex of liberals, when confronted with choices they do not approve of (SUVs, suburbs, skipping healthcare insurance, political ads, etc), to seek to limit the choice options to only acceptable alternatives. A state funded election system creates an echo chamber and feedback loop. Money is the outside, non-governmental influence. It may be corrupting, but it is also freeing. I want outsiders, non-government groups influencing my politicians. The alternative is a self-perpetuating system moved beyond the reach of the American public to change it.

The Story of Stuff

28 Dec

With the chaotic consumerist orgy of Christmas now behind us, I thought I’d take a minute to share with you one of my favorite web videos of all time, The Story of Stuff.

Now, before you get started, this video is firmly in the tradition of polemics and you might want to quibble with some of the facts in the video.  However, the primary principles in the video are what I’m interested in sharing with you.  Our cultural need to consume and the corporatist influence which powers that consumer culture.  It also touches on some topics you might have forgotten since your last economics class in college, things like planned obsolescence, perceived obsolescence and externalized costs.  These issues inform our current societal structures and the decisions we make as citizens and voters and ultimately, the decisions made by elected leaders.

Watch it, process it, and let me know what you think.  Knee jerk libertarian counterpoints will be summarily dismissed and ignored, you bore me.

Free Speech at the Supreme Court

9 Sep

Obama’s speech tonight in front of Congress is important. But all I seem to do lately is write about Obama, so I’m going to dive into a bigger news event that happened today: the debate over corporate personhood and free speech at the Supreme Court today.

Before you groan and move on, if you are an activist, community organizer, or volunteer, hear me out and you may be surprised which side you end up on. The ACLU and NRA are on the same side on this one – that should tell you something.

The case in question involves Citizens United, a right-wing non-profit corporation that produced a mockumentary called “Hillary: The Movie,” just in time for the last election cycle. Because the subject of the movie was so obviously political, the Federal Election Commission determined it was political speech, and thus subject to campaign finance laws. Thus, it could not be shown, distributed, or aired near election time. Citizens United sued, saying they are unfairly blocked from distributing their product – thus where we are now.

Because campaign finance laws can be complicated and interesting only to John McCain, most news media outlets have not adequately covered this story. What coverage there has been has been nearly entirely hyperbolic, jumping straight to dire predictions of evil corporations destroying our democracy. For a move evenhanded overall analysis, I would recommend the Lehrer News Hour from today (not yet loaded as I write this). Or for a totally biased opinion from Ted Olson, who argued the case for Citizens United in front of the Supreme Court today, go here.

What little attention has been paid to this case has revolved around the unusual nature of the hearing today: it is a do-over the Court asked for, so it could consider a larger question. When the case was originally heard, it focused on narrow technical questions of whether the McCain-Feingold laws allowed web streaming of the movie. However, the Court asked the lawyers to reargue the case focusing on whether campaign finance laws should be applying at all. Thus the breathless cries of corporate dominance, in a world with no regulation and rampant bribery and scandal, and the reversal of 102 years of precedent.

Let’s consider a couple relevant facts before I tell you why free speech should be upheld here:

1) The laws the Supreme Court is looking at striking down are very narrow – indirect funding during a campaign. Corporate limits on direct funding of candidates would still apply. The question is not whether Ford can give $12 million to John Dingle (D-MI) to run for reelection. They still can’t. It’s whether Friends of the Earth can run ads 25 days before the election talking about how bad Rep. Dingle is to the environment.

2) Twenty-three (23!) states already allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of indirect (soft) money 30 days out of an election in state and local races. There is no proof that those 23 states have any worse corruption than the other 27 states. Those 23 include well run states (Virginia) and poorly run states (California). The campaign finance laws seem independent of competence.

3) The precedent is not nearly as clear as many would argue. Congress did start regulating corporate donations to political campaigns in 1907. However, these laws were never really tested against the court until 1990 and 2003. Two cases in the last 19 years is hardly a large body of work, and McCain-Feingold is less than a decade old. Reversing some of its provisions would not be a great upset.

In my opinion, the Supreme Court should strike down large portions of McCain-Feingold, including these limits on corporate contributions. The Court has established as precedent that money is speech, because it takes money to be heard on our crowded airwaves and internets. Therefore, corporations should be treated as individuals (known as corporate personhood, by the wonks). Whatever limits we put constitutionally on individuals, should apply to corporations as well.

Why? Because corporations are nothing more than groups like-minded individuals. It is a legal framework that allows groups of people, with free speech rights, to better organize to achieve an objective. That objective may be to pump natural gas (Halliburton) or sell cars (Basil Ford) or do the Dems research dirty work (Brookings Institution). Whatever it is, as long as they pay taxes (i.e. are not a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation – different rules there), they are not allowed the same rights. As Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out today, why can ten individuals give $1000 each, and a partnership (LLP) of 10 individuals give $10,000, but a corporation can give nothing? Why should I surrender my right to free speech when I join a group? While Exxon may want to give money to Drill, Baby, Drill, other advocacy groups exist solely for the purpose of having their voice politically heard. Thus the ACLU and NRA on the same side.

But what of the naivety argument? That free speech sounds great, but giving corporations free rein will utterly distort the political process? I would argue that if you are worried about money influencing politics, there are bigger fish to fry. If I am Exxon, and want to drill, is it better to spend $8 million on advertising, with a small rate of return, or $8 million on lobbying the exact Senator on the exact committee I need to pass a bill. Likewise, some corporations are currently allowed political speech under different guises. Why can News Corp (Sean Hannity) or Disney (ABC) or General Electric (Rachel Maddow) have their blatant political speech heard, but not others? What about books on political subject matter? Most books are published by corporations – can Random House publish a new Keith Olbermann book within 30 days of an election? I don’t think we want to start regulating this kind of speech.

Corporations are just groups of persons. Regulate them under the same laws as the people who make them up.