(Art by Banksy; photo by guano via Flickr.)

As you may have read here earlier today — or seen if you had the misfortune to be near a TV tuned to a cable news station — al-Qaeda appears to have made another half-hearted plea for relevance, somewhat harebrained in keeping with most of its latter-day attempts at U.S. terrorism (“Let’s send packages with protruding wires from an Arab country to Jewish synagogues in America… no one will suspect a thing!”).

For a demonstration how professionals operate when they want to undermine a democracy, see the Washington Post this evening:

… new political groups have sprouted like mushrooms in the final weeks of the 2010 campaign, dumping tens of millions of dollars into House and Senate races and, in many cases, avoiding the need to tell voters who is funding their activities.

The frenzy is possible largely because of federal rulings making it easier and more advantageous to set up “super PACs” […] with no limits on fundraising or spending. More than three dozen super PACs and other political groups began spending money for the first time within the past ten days, according to a Washington Post analysis of FEC records.

The surge underscores the outsized role played this year by independent interest groups, which are expected to spend as much $500 million on the midterms. Some political committees are so new they don’t have to reveal details about their backing until after the election; others operating as nonprofits will never have to disclose their donors.

The story by Dan Eggen is accompanied by a broader piece on the radical-right Supreme Court that has enthusiastically facilitated this situation:

Almost from the moment Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the bench five years ago, the court’s conservatives have acted systematically on their deep skepticism of campaign spending restrictions. They repeatedly have questioned the ability of Congress to restrict the role of wealth and special interest involvement in elections without offending the First Amendment guarantee of unfettered political speech. . . .

. . . [Trevor] Potter, now president of the Campaign Legal Center, which supports campaign finance reform [said,]“Citizens United put a Supreme Court good-housekeeping-seal-of-approval on corporations being allowed in elections.”

. . . “While American democracy is imperfect,” [dissenting Justice John Paul] Stevens wrote in his 90-page opinion, “few outside the majority of this court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, but colleague Antonin Scalia took up his pen to specifically answer Stevens.

To exclude or impede corporate speech is to muzzle the principal agents of the modern free economy,” he wrote. “We should celebrate rather than condemn the addition of this speech to the public debate.

I’ll bet you never knew that the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to enshrine the dominance of “the principal agents of the modern free economy,” rather than that silly nonsense about all men being created equal.

I’m sure, though, that future history books will correct this oversight.  Just as soon as education is privatized, just like our elections have been.