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?

We Deserve A Vote To End The Filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Schumer should call a vote on ending the filibuster. We deserve to know which Democrats vote for democracy and which oppose it.

This is especially important when the filibuster is being used block bills that prevent states from suppressing non-white voters.

We need to know which Democrats are helping Republicans block democracy. Every elected Democrat needs to take a public stand on this.

Until this happens, until most Democrats are demanding a public vote on this, until they force a vote on this, all Democrats should be held accountable for keeping these anti-democracy rules in place.

I Quit Twitter. Is Trump In Jail Yet?

I got off Twitter, for a while at least, and it’s wonderful. My concentration is returning. I’m able to go to the bathroom without my phone. And I’m even writing a blog post! (For better or worse.)

But I have a few questions:

– Has Trump or anyone at the top of things been held accountable for anything yet? I mean actually indicted for their crimes — not “stern letters” from Democratic senators. (Remember that report that detailed how Trump committed Obstruction but couldn’t be indicted because he was resident? Tell the Justice Dept. he’s not president anymore.) (PS His lawyer went to jail for a crime he committed with Trump but Trump couldn’t be indicted because he was president. Tell the Justice Dept. he’s not president anymore.)

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We Need a Department of Democracy

This post first appeared at Imagine Democracy.

This post expands on 2019’s , a “Department of Democracy,” to protect and promote democracy.

Democracy doesn’t have an advertising agency, and our discourse is swamped by well-funded anti-democracy efforts — done by self-interested parties like the tobacco and fossil-fuel companies. For obvious reasons such interests want to get government and its rules that protect the public from harms (a.k.a. regulations) “off their backs.”

Our elections have become a game in which secretly-funded disinformation, spread by secretly-funded propaganda outlets, in rigged districts, with voter suppression and apathy deciding who rules. Those minority-selected elected officials perpetuate these barriers in a “doom loop” that is ending democracy.

If what’s left of self-rule survives we need a government agency to take on the role of protecting and promoting democracy. Perhaps we could call it a Department of Democracy.

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The Democrats’ Dastardly Plan

This post first appeared at Imagine Democracy.

The Democrats have a sinister plan. They are going to trick people into voting for them by doing things to make their lives better.

They plan to use the people’s government to bribe the voters. They are strategically scheming to allocate government resources to deliver things like safety from the Covid-19 virus, health care, education, even modernized infrastructure. They plan to address problem like the climate crisis, racial injustice, even inequality, They will pass laws preventing companies from polluting, committing fraud and other things that companies have been allowed to do for so long! This hijacking of the government by Democrats for their own purposes could mean voters reward them by allowing them to do even more for them.

However the good Republicans also have a plan. To prevent the seizure of the government away from the corporations, they are passing laws to stop the voters from being able to reward the Democrats for their bribery schemes. They are gallantly making sure that it is very, very difficult for the bribed voters to get to polling places – of course prohibiting the ease of voting by mail – and if they get to voting places they will face all kinds of rules designed to keep the from the voting booths themselves.

In case voters actually do make it to the voting booths to cast votes, the districts are carefully drawn in ways that Democrat votes are concentrated into a very few districts, while the majority of districts remain under Republican control, no matter how the statewide vote turns out.

So be aware of this sinister plan by Democrats to bribe voters by making their lives better. Do not let them get away with it.

Always Say “Jim Crow Filibuster” or “Racist Filibuster”

Always use the phrase “Jim Crow Filibuster” or “Racist Filibuster.” This takes away the cover of pretending the filibuster is a “norm” or “tradition” as an excuse for not killing it.

Senators like Manchin should not be asked if they support “ending the filibuster,” they should be asked if they support “keeping the racist filibuster.”

The Senate filibuster has a racist past and present. End it so America can move forward.

The nature of the filibuster, its rules and norms, is hardly an iron-clad tradition. It has changed and adapted greatly over the years since it first became popular in the civil rights era. But what hasn’t changed is its enduring connection to racism. The filibuster has always stood in the way of racial progress, whether employed by Southern Democrats of the Jim Crow era or the Republican Party today after a major shift in the party’s stance on racial equality. When you understand the filibuster’s racist past, it becomes clear that it has a racist present as well — and that we need to get rid of it.

Call it what it is, don’t let them take cover under “tradition.”

Stop Blaming “Congress”

The American media likes to report that “Congress” isn’t getting anything done.

For example, for the last several months the media has been reporting that “Congress” hasn’t been passing a relief bill. That doesn’t give voters any information they can use. It just tells the public “Congress” is failing them, etc. But it doesn’t tell them WHO to hold accountable and so people turn against government in general. And against democracy.

Let The Public Know WHO

It was Republicans who blocked the bills. Voters need that information for democracy to work and hold the right people accountable so the country can get better. Don’t blame “Congress,” let the pubic know WHO to hold accountable so democracy can work.

My drumbeat on this has been going on for a while.

Older Democrats Learned The Wrong Lessons From Nixon and Reagan

In today’s news, Biden promises not to use the power he has to make people’s lives better, and boost the economy.

“…it’s arguable that the president may have the executive power to forgive up to $50,000 in student debt,” Biden said. “Well, I think that’s pretty questionable. I’m unsure of that. I’d be unlikely to do that.”

Biden does, in fact, have that power. He’s saying he will not use it.

My observation from watching this crap for so long is that there is a generation of Democratic politicians who learned terrible, wrong lessons from Nixon/McGovern and then Reagan and the rise of the “conservative” propaganda machine. They got beat up so bad and still don’t really understand what happened to them and are still cowering from doing anything that might provoke another beating.

Back then the Democratic party had been riding on the FDR (plus Medicare & Great Society) wave of Dem goodwill for so long that they let the structures and understandings that support political action atrophy. So along came a billionaire-and-corporate-funded conservative movement machine that understood marketing, and how to neutralize opposition, etc, and just wiped the floor with them.

Please don’t hit me again!

What those Dems unfortunately learned was not to do anything that could let them be accused of being “communists” or “soft on crime” or “taxing and spending” or “weak on defense” etc. (They also learned never to put on a protective helmet and ride in a tank.) They learned not to do or say anything that might trigger another beating. They especially learned not to ever propose doing things that help the public & is good for society because it will be portrayed as helping minorities.

They firmly believe that anything any Democrat does to help working people, the general public and society in general will be “portrayed” in a bad way that elects more Republicans, and they see it as their mission to stop any Dem from doing so. Lest they receive another beating. They always have to get the abuser’s permission to do anything. (They call that bipartisanship.)

Biden, Pelosi, Feinstein and so many others are representative of what I’m talking about.

Protectionism, Trade and Democracy

This post originated at Imagine Democracy

“Protectionism” literally means we, as a nation, protect our national interests. It is one more word that has been twisted to make people think it’s a bad thing, like “entitlement” (the things we are entitled to as citizens in a democracy) or “welfare” (people in a democracy making each others’ lives better.)

“Trade” is about competitive advantages. It used to mean one region can grow bananas and another can grow corn, and by trading they each end up with both bananas and corn in their kitchens. (Good.) Today, though, it means authoritarian governments have the “competitive advantage” of allowing slavery and pollution so their factories can make things for less. So (the executives of) big corporations move production there, then squeeze the remaining workforce here with threats to move their jobs as well if they won’t lower their standard of living. (Bad.) All the gains of that “trade” are passed to a few already-wealthy owners and managers of that means of production. They use some of the gains to influence our laws to allow them to do this.

A democracy obviously would consider its people’s standard of living an interest worth “protecting” and would never allow businesses to influence lawmaking.

Trade can be done a different way but that requires democratic governance. Economists (used to) tell us that society gained from trade because making the economy more “efficient” by moving production to lower-cost regions frees up resources, providing increased investment and general prosperity; better infrastructure, higher pay and more free time for everyone in the society. And the production moved to the lower pay area means jobs and investment there, so they also move up that same ladder to increased investment and prosperity. That assumption depended on viewing society as liberal democracies capable of making and enforcing rules that would pass these gains on to everyone.

The failure of our country to maintain itself as a democracy has resulted in the allowance of trade with slavers and polluters, resulting in the extreme inequality we see. Thereby enabling further squeezing of workers and environment here. It also incentivizes authoritarian governments to allow slavery and pollution.

The solution to this, and so many other problems, is, of course, to remove the influence of money from our political system.

Take What Happened Very, Very Seriously

This post originally appeared at Imagine Democracy.

People don’t want to say that Republicans attempted a “coup” but they certainly attempted to overturn the clear results of a democratic election. They tried to end our democracy, right in front of our eyes.

The election was almost “close enough to overturn.”

The Democrat received (the counting is not finished) over 6 million more votes but it was “close.” This is because our 18th-century electoral college system, designed to keep the “slave states” happy, does not belong in the 21st century.

If Republicans had blocked a few more people who couldn’t get birth certificates, etc. from voting…

If Republicans had been able to close a few more polling places…

If they had taken away a few more ballot drop-boxes…

If Republican had scared just a few more people…

If Republicans had told just a few more lies…

If the USPS had delayed a few more ballots…

If just a bit fewer Democrats had voted…

they very well might have gotten away with it.

Take what happened very, very seriously. Because they tried. Right in front of our eyes.

And if we don’t take steps to do something about this, next time they will do … just that bit more.