The Golden Rulers

Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear a case, Citizens (sic) United vs. Federal Election Commission, in which Chief Justice (!) John “Moonface” Roberts has set his sights on eliminating all restrictions against corporate money in politics, and is clearly wasting no time while he temporarily has enough black-robed wingnuts by his side, to win with money and crooked appointees what his party can no longer win with votes.  This decision, which is pretty much a forgone 5-4 conclusion, will set aside once and for all the silly, quaint notion of “we the people,” that is proving increasingly inconvenient to the right.  Remember when Roberts was trotting out his blond moppets and all the media could talk about was abortion?  Turns out Roberts is all for it:  for voters, that is.

As usual, the right has pulled another bait and switch on its bible-thumping “base,” trumpeting family values when all they really cared about was drowning whatever vestigial remains of Democracy we still thought we had in a flood of corporate money.  Perhaps he’ll even include that recently so fashionable retroactive immunity for ol’ Tom DeLay on that pesky illegal corporate donation front, since the laws he’s fixin’ to change would create an environment where even Texas’ famously lax election laws, which nonetheless were enough to finally nail The Hammer, would be decreed an unconstitutional violation of corporate “Free Speech.”  The one thing we’ve all learned about freedom here lately is that it certainly isn’t free.  In an unprecedented but pretty unsurprising move, Roberts sent the narrower  case back, declaring it too confining for this “strict constructionist,” who saw a rare chance to turn back 100-odd years of anti-corruption case law, and even urgently beseeched none other than Ted Olson, who has been sort of at loose ends since the Lewinsky/Whitewater days, (and of course since his loudmouthed harridan of a wife, Barbara, was fortuitously eliminated on Sept. 11th…)  to bring forth a new, broader case in favor of corporate dominance of “Free Speech” that would set about essentially declaring Theodore Roosevelt a damned commie.  You see, Roberts and his Republican posse have been continually bedeviled by the fact that poor little Nike, Disney, Halliburton, and their other marginalized pals are currently cruelly silenced under our Draconian campaign finance laws, while a nobody like, say,  Aunt Bea is allowed to imperiously dominate public discourse with her $25 donation.  Who, pray tell, is pulling the plug on Granny now?

Perhaps this was Karl Rove’s “math,” and therefore he wasn’t so crazy when he predicted a “permanent Republican majority.”  Once the floodgates open, conveniently boosting the bottom lines of the struggling corporate media, citizen activism and individual donations from ordinary Americans will be utterly irrelevant, once and for all.  The astonishing upward transfer of wealth and the dramatic shifting of the tax burden from corporations and the rich to working people that has taken place over the last thirty years turns out to have had a purpose;  what good is all that money when someone else owns the government, at least according to the Constitution?  All those vacation homes, airplanes, and yachts can be an awful burden when you can’t find good help, and worse, constantly risk having some of it taken away just because a bunch of grabby lowlifes outnumber you 100,000 to 1.

As though it weren’t enough that the wealthiest among us pay less of their grotesquely outsized booty in taxes than the lowliest janitor pays from his meager wages, now these “Economic Royalists,” as Franklin Roosevelt so aptly called them, want to turn Democracy itself into nothing more than a semiannual miniseries, brought to you by Big Money, in which the end is nothing more than another foregone conclusion, so no one need be bothered to watch the whole thing, much less participate.  Win win.  In the world they’re busily creating, every modest effort to improve the lives of working people, clean up the environment, or even be granted a day in court when maimed, poisoned or killed by Corporate America, will henceforth amount to pissing up a rope.

In a more innocent time, it was said that you can’t fight City Hall.  Try it when City Hall, and every other government building on up to the Capitol and the White House, are wholly owned subsidiaries of General Electric, Goldman Sachs, or ExxonMobil.

As Ted Olson dons his swallowtail coat tomorrow, he’ll no doubt be singing a happy tune.  And the rest of us can go Cheney ourselves.


  1. rmp says:

    The more I learn about Washington, the harder it is to prevent becoming a complete pessimist. This case is clearly disturbing and I’m sure you’re right about the outcome of the vote,

    On your point about taxes, this report is a good way to respond to all the health care reform deficit doomsdayers and tax cut lovers. At this point since there is no final bill and Obama promises it will be deficit neutral, the Bush tax cuts are probably even more costly in comparison.
    Dems’ Health Plan Half As Costly As Bush Tax Cuts: Report

    OT, here is a story on Stars and Stripes newspaper that I posted about two weeks ago. The new editor who just left my Chicago Tribune, says Stripes will be even tougher on the Pentagon. If someone didn’t read my post, they may find it strange that a government funded paper can show up the M$M. Then again, it’s not that hard to show them up.
    The Pentagon’s New Watchdog: ”We won’t be ignored anymore,” warns new Stars and Stripes editor Howard Witt.

  2. rmp says:

    Here’s preview of the movie and saying it is only negative about Hillary is like saying Palin occasionally strays from the truth.

    Hillary’s Attackers Go to Court

  3. cocktailhag says:

    I fear that the ACLU has made a grave error on this one, RMP. I have my fingers crossed, but I’m pessimistic.

  4. A good Leninist would say that the upcoming Supreme Court vote will at least clarify matters, and make it much more difficult to ignore the obvious — a boon to organizers, in other words.

    Somehow, I doubt it. The industrial working class, concentrated in cities, didn’t just gave the 19th century left a ready base for its organizing efforts; it was also a genuine threat to the source of the oligarchs’ power. Sadly, today’s oligarchy doesn’t need a working class, except as a reservoir for the thugs it recruits to do its dirty work.

    This somewhat limits our options, no matter how pissed off people get. I’m afraid that we need some new thinking as well as a new constituency.

    • rmp says:

      On the new constituency, isn’t that in a way what we have with the Internet community? It takes a certain kind of person to really get into blogging. With polarization even in the blogosphere, we have all the same political variations, but couldn’t we find a way to organize the open versus closed minded, the informed versus the uninformed?

      Obviously, I don’t have any concrete suggestions, just a gut feeling. What are your thoughts?

      • Pretty bleak, I’m afraid. We obviously need a refreshed theoretical framework, which greater blogistan is in the process of providing. Beyond that, we still have the problem that money has pretty much replaced people as the currency of politics.

        Obama is a symptom of that change, not a cause of it. So also is his purely rhetorical liberalism — he’s smart, and smart people know that pandering costs you nothing, but actions against the sources of money can cost you your position.

        To put it another way, no one gives a rat’s ass what we think, because unless we can create a politics which makes it impossible to reliably calculate outcomes in terms of money spent, no one in power will ever care what we think. It just isn’t smart to do so.

        So what do we do? Well, we figure out how to rebuild the communities which industrial and post-industrial capitalism, with our connivance, have spent a hundred years destroying. (Which is not to say that we didn’t gain anything from that destruction. We did. We got upward economic and social mobility, at least for a time. We also got freedom in the libertarian sense. Think of all those 19th and early 20th century novels about escaping the stifling embrace of our old-world families, of making good, of throwing off old prejudices and recreating ourselves as intellectually independent modernists. If Jay Gatsby revealed the dangers of such a transformation, Andrew Carnegie revealed its benefits.)

        Again, I’m not sanguine about our chances. Internet communities, such as our little group of UT veterans, do us some good in the therapeutic sense, perhaps, but they aren’t political even by the most charitable of definitions. Necessary, you might say, but not sufficient. We may very well get from here to there; it’s not impossible, but damned if I can at the moment foresee what process could actually make it possible.

        Perhaps it’s not something that any one person could, or should, be able to foresee. It’s a historical process — the kind of thing that Hegel and Marx immortalized as the dialectic. If they couldn’t see the outcome, I’d have to be damned arrogant to think that I could.

        • rmp says:

          The power the money people have is overpowering. The RWAs are perfect dupes for them.
          Big Business’s Hidden Hand in the Smear Job on Van Jones

        • Karen M says:

          William, Yesterday, I posted something on FDL’s The Seminal in which I proposed more and better civics education as part of a solution.

          Tony, This post makes me want to add another link to something I saw on DemocracyNow tonight. It was a segment on human trafficking and slavery in the U.S. Yep, right here in these united states. (There’s a transcript, too.)

          • cocktailhag says:

            It’s funny, Karen, but back during the boom, many old mansions that had become museums during our brief egalitarian era found themselves financially struggling, but lo and behold, there were plenty of offers from the new plutocrats to buy them, and they did. One soon-to be former curator said in a NYT article about this phenomenon said, “It’s sad… we just rebuilt a replica of the former slave quarters,” somewhat wistfully. I thought to myself, that’s a selling feature, sister… better than a Sub Zero!

  5. sysprog says:

    In the 70s, I worked for a while in Manhattan’s garment district at a business owned by a couple of goniffs (swindlers) — one loud Jew (Eugene) and one smooth talking Brooks Brother style WASP (Edward). As I was coming to my senses about the situation I was in and the fact that I had to quit, I asked a co-worker how the partnership worked.

    They explained to me that Gene stabs you in the front while Ed stabs you in the back.

    I don’t know why, but, somehow thinking of Bork and Roberts reminded me of all that.

    • rmp says:

      I’ll take the Bork front stabber any day over Roberts the slick snake. Roberts made it Bork didn’t which has partly led to far too many back stabbers and hypocrites like Roberts throughout the so called government service sector.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Perfect analogy, sysprog. Bork’s openness was too unseemly, while Roberts’ oily blandness was just right. Dang, those guys are good.

  6. cocktailhag says:

    That’s pretty chilling, sysprog. The only bright spot was Sotomayor’s questioning of whether corporations were persons at all, with “inalienable rights.” You can certainly see why they brought this case up now.

    • Jim White says:

      Yeah, I really loved this bit from Sotomayor:
      “that the courts who created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons, and there could be an argument made that that was the Court’s error to start with,”

      Maybe she will surprise us…

  7. rmp says:

    Anybody have thoughts on Obama’s speech tonight? I think he put the Repugs into a box where in the end some will find it very tough to vote against it. I was not surprised that he said he would support tort reform because I thought he was holding that back until the right time. His delivery showed some emotion and his closing with the Kennedy-character of America was masterful and powerful.