Corruption Bred Corruption, Until…

This post first appeared at Government Cheese.

Corruption always breeds greater corruption. Once someone can get ahead through corruption they have an advantage over the non-corrupt. The non-corrupt can’t compete and are driven out.

Allowing money to influence politics AT ALL (including “think tanks,” “non-profits” like ALEC, corrupt information sources like Fox, Epoch Times & talk radio, etc) bred greater and greater corruption to the point where a corruptly-constituted Supreme Court allowed unlimited money in political campaigns. That unlimited money drives a massive and unbeatable influence machine.

And then there’s just basic corruption – politicians paid by oil companies to allow them to profit off of killing the planet.

Our “system” is probably irretrievably corrupted. Tobacco kills around 480,000 Americans each year and causes a huge amount of disease and suffering beyond that. It is still legal and largely uncontrolled.

And, of course, the climate crisis has been allowed to reach a tipping point.

(Yesterday a “liberal” friend was talking about how “progressives” killed the infrastructure bill. That “opinion” comes straight from corrupt information sources. Despair.)

Planet-Killing Corruption In Plain Sight

This post first appeared at Government Cheese.

One senator who makes a fortune from coal is blocking the country from last-ditch efforts to keep the climate crisis from becoming catastrophic. Well, it’s really one Democratic senator and EVERY Republican – all of them, their entire party and propaganda infrastructure paid by the fossil-fuel industry. But they go unmentioned.

The Guardian explains, in, Joe Manchin leads opposition to Biden’s climate bill, backed by support from oil, gas and coal,

In the current electoral cycle, Manchin has received more in political donations from the oil and gas industry than any other senator, more than double the second largest recipient. He is also the No 1 beneficiary of donations from the coal mining sector, leads the way in money accepted from gas pipeline operators, and is sixth in the ranking of senatorial donations from electricity utilities.

… But Manchin’s ties to the fossil fuel industry run deeper than political donations. After initially working in his family’s furniture and carpet business, Manchin set up a coal brokerage firm called Enersystems in 1988, running it until he became a full-time politician.

… His shares in Enersystems are worth between $1m and $5m, according to his latest financial disclosure document, with the senator receiving more than $5m in dividend income from the company over the past decade. The coal brokerage represents 71% of Manchin’s investment income, and about a third of his total net worth.

For history there should be a memorial monument that names names. It should list the names of individuals who contributed to the horrific situation they inherit.

But place that monument well above sea level.

Lies vs Democracy

This post first appeared at Imagine Democracy.

Well-funded lies are very effective.

The tobacco companies proved that with well-funded propaganda lies (a.k.a. “marketing”) you can get people to kill themselves while giving you their money.

The firearms industry proved that with well-funded propaganda lies you can convince people to allow kindergarteners to be killed while giving you their money.

Trump proved that well-funded propaganda lies (and media participation) he could convince people to kill democracy while giving him their money.

Now the oil&coal companies are proving that well-funded propaganda lies can get people to kill the planet while giving them their money.

Democracy doesn’t have an advertising agency to counter this stuff. This is why we need a Department of Democracy.

TED Talk: The Big Myth of Government Deficits

This is a TED Talk by Stephanie Kelton, TED: The big myth of government deficits.

“Instead of trying to keep the deficit in check, Congress should be trying to keep inflation in check.”

“Instead of asking how will we pay for it, Congress should be asking, “How will we resource it.”

The Bipartisan Mistake

Joe Biden’s agenda – if it survives at all – was massively watered down by the insistence on negotiating a “bipartisan infrastructure bill.” This is the same thing that happened to Obama’s health care bill.

– Negotiating with bad-faith Republicans wasted months
– The result was ridiculous and requires the reconciliation bill to restore essential components
– The reconciliation bill is being watered down by corporate interests paying some Democrats
– The reconciliation bill might even be killed by these corporate interests

What is it about Democrats that causes them to instinctively require Republican permission to get anything done?

This time they’re fucking around with the last remaining effort to do something to contain the climate crisis.

FDR And “Court Packing” – Just One More “Truth” That Isn’t True

A lot of things we “know” about history come from “one side.” For example, we “know” that “protectionism” caused the Great Depression. Except it didn’t.

Who benefits from convincing the public that protecting national interests is bad if it reduces corporate profits? There are so, so many “truths” like that.

Another “Truth”: Court Packing is Bad

Here’s another “truth.” FDR tried to “pack the Supreme Court” and it was very, very bad.

I thought I’d look up what the Supreme Court was actually doing that led to FDR trying to do something to balance the Court, and what happened when he finally did try. Go ahead and try to find answers (the actual truth) to that question. It’s hard to find.

Eventually, if you know the right search terms, you might come across this, at a site called fdr4freedoms. (I’ll be exploring that site further.)

From The New Deal and the Supreme Court,

In 1932 and 1936, Americans enthusiastically embraced FDR’s vision of a federal government ready to use its power to make real improvements in their lives. They voted for him overwhelmingly. With Democratic majorities (augmented by Republican progressives) dominating both houses of Congress, the legislature also resoundingly endorsed FDR’s program of bold experimentation.

… But opponents in business and elsewhere repeatedly sued to block the laws. As these challenges reached the high court in 1935, four justices, with the help of one or two swing votes, began striking down the new laws as unconstitutional.

Summary: FDR worked to save regular people from the suffering caused by the depression. The sensible things he wanted to do were very, very popular. But it threatened corporate profits. The Court struck down FDR’s attempts to use government to help and protect the public.

More specifically,

The court struck down laws securing a minimum wage, maximum work hours, and the right to unionize for workers. It rejected pension programs and child labor restrictions, price codes and farm subsidies.

… “The Constitution grants to Congress no power to regulate for the promotion of the general welfare,” as the majority proclaimed in a 1936 case striking down a minimum wage and other regulation in the coal industry.

The Court said the government has no power to protect the public from anything the rich and corporations do to them! It even ruled that states couldn’t set minimum wages by themselves!

What Happened When FDR Threatened To Add Justices?

FRD proposed a plan to reduce the Court’s workload (badly needed then and even more now) and balance the Court by appointing an additional Supreme Court justice for every sitting justice over the age of seventy.

Result: The Court began to rule for the public! The Court ruled in favor of state minimum wage laws. This was dubbed “the switch in time that saved nine.” Then the Court ruled in favor of the National Labor Relations Act, protecting striking workers. Next it upheld the Security Act’s retirement and unemployment benefits. And then one of the right-wing Justices announced his retirement.

After these reversals, interest in rebalancing and expanding the Court faded.

The “Court Packing” threat WORKED.

FDR proposed rebalancing the Court. Immediately the Court started ruling in the public’s favor. One of the right-wing Justices even retired.

It worked. Threatening to rebalance the court SUCCEEDED! So when you hear that Democrats shouldn’t try to balance the Court today because it was bad when FDR tried to “pack the court,” you’re hearing that because “one side’ has made it a “truth.”

It’s is time to rebalance the Court.

We Need Rule Of Law To Remain A Democracy

If you are considering whether the US will be another “democracy” to fall to authoritarian rule/fascism here’s a question to ask: Is the Democratic Party committed to Rule of Law? Will it fight to protect us and our democracy? How about the Justice Department?

Brett Kavanaugh – Apparent Criminality At The Highest Levels

Here is a test of that: Are Dems willing to fight apparent criminality at the very highest levels? Will the House of Representatives or Justice Dept. investigate the allegations that Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh committed perjury during nomination hearings, and will the Justice Dept. indict, or House Dems impeach Kavanaugh if their investigation concludes he did?

Set Aside The Other Stuff

Keep it simple. There’s too much other stuff about Kavanaugh, muddying the issue. Set aside the other stuff.

Set aside out the questions about why Justice Kennedy resigned when he did (and how it might relate to Deutsche Bank and the Russia investigation), who paid off Kavanaugh’s debts, and the larger issue of the “dark money” machine that puts Federalist Society candidates into judgeships.

And never mind the sham FBI “investigation” of sexual misconduct allegations made against Kavanaugh. (The Trump-appointed FBI Director is one more Federalist Society member.)

Other “Other Stuff”

And, of course, that other “other stuff:

Nearly a year after Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to a lifetime appointment in the Supreme Court, the New York Times has reported a new allegation of sexual misconduct from Kavanaugh’s college years, as well as new corroborating information about Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at Yale.

In his confirmation hearings Kavanaugh made several statements about his drinking and sexual misconduct that were obviously not true. (Just one obvious one: His yearbook referred to “ralphing” and Kavanaugh testified that meant eating spicy foods.)

Kavanaugh Perjury

It looks very much like Brett Kavanaugh committed perjury on other issues during nomination hearings for his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as well as his Supreme Court nomination hearings.

Among many, many reports on Kavanaugh’s contradictions between his testimony that these hearings and evidence that has since been revealed, Pema Levy and Dan Friedman write at Mother Jones, in Five Times Brett Kavanaugh Appears to Have Lied to Congress While Under Oath,

During his 2004 hearing, Kavanaugh denied ever receiving any of the documents Miranda stole. Asked if he “ever come across memos from internal files of any Democratic members given to you or provided to you in any way?” he replied, “No.” In 2006, also under oath, he again denied ever receiving stolen documents.

But newly released documents show that Miranda had indeed sent Kavanaugh information from the stolen internal documents. The nominee continues to deny he knew the information was stolen. But he can no longer deny he received it.

And,

At a 2006 confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that he knew nothing of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, launched under President George W. Bush, until the New York Times revealed it publicly in 2005. Kavanaugh insisted he’d heard “nothing at all” about the program before that, even though he was a senior administration aide. But a September 17, 2001 email provided to the New York Times this week shows that Kavanaugh was involved in at least initial discussions about the widespread surveillance of phones that characterized the NSA program.

Similarly, Kavanaugh testified he had nothing to do with Bush’s torture policies while records now show he was involved in at least 3 discussions of detainee policies.

Kavanaugh also said in hearings he had not been involved in William Pryor’s nomination to the 11th Circuit, new documents and emails show he was “heavily’ involved.

And finally he said in hearings that he was not involved in the nomination of Charles Pickering when new emails show he was.

So Yeah… There’s A Lot Going On

So yeah, there’s a lot going on. And is this such a big deal?

Well yes. A guy is on the Supreme Court and everyone knows he’s a liar and possibly a lot of other things. But the people and institutions that are supposed to do something about that aren’t doing ANYTHING about that. And it’s right in front of our faces.

And on top of that, the guy is doing serious damage to our country!

So … once again WHERE ARE THE DEMOCRATS? Where is the Department of Justice? Where is the Rule of Law?

There is a short time left to hold the authoritarians and the fascists and the liars and the “dark money” accountable, and restore the Rule of Law (and decency). If that doesn’t happen then in the next election the 1776 experiment in self-government will end, and the Cruelty will again be THE POINT.

We all came out and voted for the people who said they would DO SOMETHING ABOUT THESE THINGS. When is it going to start happening?

1969 – I Was There

Sigh…

I actually worked at it. I used to have a pay stub from “Food for Love, Inc.” Don’t know what happened to it.

On This Day: Woodstock opens at New York farm,

On Aug.15, 1969, the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, often described as a landmark counterculture event, opened on Max Yasgur’s farm near Bethel, N.Y., drawing an estimated 400,000 people for three days of music.