Dobbs

MAGA Time and Time For A Moon Shot


I was thinking about what the term “MAGA” means. I don’t mean the words; rather, the reference point.

If the goal is to make America great again, the construct requires an antecedent when America was deemed to be great, a glory from which we’ve foolishly slipped. That’s what the MAGA folks want to restore, it seems. Okay, when was that?

Could they be thinking about the Revolutionary War period, when the inhabitants of the Colonies were all engaged, shoulder to shoulder, in the great quest for freedom from King George III? If so, that’s misguided, because about 20% of the colonists were loyalists to the King and the vast majority were fence sitters. The revolutionaries were a small minority. That’s why Thomas Paine had to exhort colonists to enlist in the fight. Was America great then? There were heroics, to be sure, but probably not overall greatness.

It’s hard to imagine the Civil War period as great, as we killed 620 thousand Americans. Or perhaps that was a great time for some, proudly enslaving others and reaping the benefits and when poor Whites were pretty much our national trash. The White land owners were the undisputed kings of their realms. Maybe that was when America was great.

I’m not confident that the Reconstruction and Jim Crow periods qualify. Not a lot great there, if “liberty and justice for all” means anything, although we did manage to kill and displace uncounted numbers of Native Americans in our westward expansion and lynching was a semi-national past time.

Same problem with Freedom Summer in 1964, when Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were tortured and murdered in Philadelphia, MS. They were there for the very American activity of registering citizens to vote. Their murders still stand as a symbol of the period. Was that a proud epoch in our history – a MAGA idealized period – when brutality ruled over civics and basic decency?

Maybe the MAGA folks think of the 1950s as the time when America was great. It did work pretty well for Whites. Ours was the only industrial economy left intact after WW II. Jobs were plentiful and wages were good. It was a time when “others” knew “their place.” And it was well before the radical Blacks and college kids were making trouble with all those pesky protest marches for civil and voting rights and against the Viet Nam war. Yeah, that was a great time to be White in America. That must be the MAGA reference point.

It seems to me that when the almost completely White* MAGA crowd spouts “Make America Great Again” what they really mean is to make the country great for them. Just them. This is the very definition of White supremacy, selfishness and the refusal of equal protection. It’s all for me and who cares about anyone else?

That’s what the enslavers said until the Civil War. They continued to believe all their lives that “The South will rise again!” touting their “Lost Cause” totem, and it seems to have done just that with our current insane far right populism. That’s what the Jim Crow South enforced. That’s what hundreds of years of cruelty and broken promises to native Americans were all about. That’s what Reagan worked to create, albeit with carefully written and highly choreographed terms that made selfishness sound patriotic.

And that is what Trump and all the ideological, far right extremists in Congress and elsewhere want to create. It’s about the absolute right of the individual over the common good. All for them and who cares about anyone else?

I should have told you that there will be a pass-fail exam. To prepare, you must watch the history lesson from Professor Heather Cox Richardson, as she digs into the deeper meaning of the Roe-killing Supreme Court Dobbs decision. It’s likely much farther reaching than you now realize. So, grab your cup o’ joe and listen up.

To close this section, here’s a fine and insightful, pre-massacre comment from the July 4th weekend:

“Even though our politics is toxically polarized right now, we don’t need fewer arguments right now; we just need less stupid ones.”

  • Eric Liu, CEO, Citizen University
  • PBS News Weekend, July 3, 2022
Time For A Moon Shot

Picture credit: NASA and Wikipedia

Surely, there can’t be many doubters left that we are at the whim of the fossil fuel industry. The craziness of U.S. gas prices that have gone over $6 per gallon is actually dwarfed by what customers are paying in Europe. So, let me say this with as much clarity as I can muster: We travel about and stay warm in the winter at the pleasure of and discretion (if any) of oil producers, and many of them have no interest at all in what works best for us. Think: Russia; Saudi Arabia; Iran – and even the myopically focused, shareholder and  C-suite-centric U.S. fossil fuel companies, still selfishly thinking Milton Friedman got it right. **

Add to that the actual, real life fact that we are in the process of cooking our planet, making huge areas uninhabitable, reducing crop yields, killing people in freak storms that are so common that they aren’t freaks anymore and incrementally drowning coastal land areas. It’s possible that the smart move is to let go of our petty insecurities and short term thinking that lead to nothing good and instead do something about what matters. Like staying alive.

Apparently, Coal State Joe doesn’t care about his grandkids.

This just might be the moment to rally the U.S. and perhaps the world to a moon shot, a dramatic shift from fossil fuels to renewables that won’t kill all of us. This just might be the time to create incentives for solar panels on every roof, for far more fields of wind generators, for the development of power from tides and all the rest of the things that we will eventually do anyway. The only question is when our circumstances will have become sufficiently dire and scary for us to break out of our denial and do the obvious.

Right now is the time for that moon shot. We can start with a Presidential call to action and by firing all politicians who refuse to accept reality. I’m thinking about you, Joe Manchin (D-WV), as you abandon any concern for your grandchildren (see the graphic to the left). You, too, Marco Rubio (R-FL), as you mealy mouth about climate warming, while the Mayor of Miami Beach is on Highway A1A and the sea water is over his ankles. Read a related CBS story here.

In the face of Manchin’s Luddite refusal to support fighting global warming and the Supreme Court having hamstrung the EPA’s power to regulate, read Four Ways the United States Can Still Fight Climate Change. It’s not enough, but it’s something.

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* Don’t let a few Black faces in the audience behind MAGA speakers fool you. They’re placed where they are to make these hate rallies look more inclusive for TV viewers, but there are actually very few non-Whites attending. If you want to test that, watch any video of the January 6 insurrection and count the non-White faces.

** Friedman Doctrine: “An entity’s [corporation’s] greatest responsibility lies in the satisfaction of the shareholders.” Friedman’s tortured logic said that focusing solely on maximizing return to shareholders would result in the best outcomes for all stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, the community, etc.).

Today’s era of high inflation is caused, in part, by whimsically puffed up prices (whatever the market will bear) for energy, transportation, food and more. Per corporate reporting, this has resulted in greatly inflated corporate profits and, therefore, a far greater return to shareholders.

Is that resulting in the best outcomes for all stakeholders, as Friedman predicted? How is Friedman’s notion working for workers and small businesses? How is that working for you, as you stand at the gas pump and watch the numbers climb?

I really don’t think that Gordon Gecko (“Greed is good“) was entirely right. Self-interest is fine, but not in the absolute and certainly not to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. If we’re to keep this planet habitable, it’s going to require us all to work for the common good, irrespective of shareholder satisfaction.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Are You Seeing The Pattern Yet?


The people at the not-for-profit Citizens United were on a mission. They hated Hillary Clinton. A lot. They filmed what they called a documentary, Hillary: The Movie, and planned to release it in 2008 in an effort to submarine her candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency. They wanted to air their hit job film just prior to primary elections in the various states. But they had a problem.

One of the provisions of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly called McCain-Feingold) banned the airing of corporate funded “electioneering communication” for the 30 days before a primary election and for 60 days prior to a general election. The Citizens United people wanted to blanket the airways with their electioneering communication attack piece all the way through the primaries, so in December 2007 they filed suit to challenge that provision of McCain-Feingold. If they won, they would be able to run their electioneering film in the then-upcoming campaign season of 2008.

The district court refused their application for injunctive relief. In the appeals court Citizens United claimed their 90-minute film was a documentary, not electioneering. The court easily saw through that smoke screen and refused that argument, stating what was perfectly clear to everyone, that it was not a documentary film, but a 30-minute attack ad. It was an attempt to affect the election (the very definition of electioneering). Further, the court saw that their intended use of the movie was expressly at odds with established law.

On the case went to the Supreme Court (Citizens United v. FEC), which decided in favor of Citizens United in January 2010, overturning the lower court’s ruling. The court declared that the corporate electioneering communications restrictions of McCain-Feingold were unconstitutional and Citizens United could air their film as they wished. That should have been the end of the case, but it wasn’t.

Chief Justice John Roberts directed the attorneys to return to the court and re-litigate the case, this time specifically testing the rights of corporations and speech equivalency. It’s important to note that those issues were not part of the case brought by Citizens United.

—->  In other words, the court fabricated an entirely new case focused on issues that were not in contest in the Citizens United case.
That is not supposed to happen.
.

And in this fabricated case, the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 vote that corporations have full First Amendment rights.

Let me be clear about this:

—-> The Court majority effectively declared that non-sentient, non-human corporations have all the rights of flesh and blood human beings.
Like you
.

Making things worse, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, reaffirmed that money was effectively the same as speech. He declared that the First Amendment doesn’t allow prohibitions of speech even if the speaker is a corporation.

And that started a deluge of corporate money – dark money – into our politics that persists today.

To be sure there were earlier cases that chipped away at our protection from big money influence in our politics, including Buckley v. Valeo, which effectively declared that money is the same as speech. That assertion, of course, is ridiculous.

While money used for a campaign contribution certainly enables speech, that doesn’t make it the same as speech. Indeed, if you follow the Court’s Buckley logic, they’d have you believe that if I use money to buy a car, that money is the same as a car. Utter nonsense.

Money is property that is used in exchange for other things. That doesn’t make it the same as those other things. Nevertheless, the Roberts court wasn’t able to or refused to see the difference and the Citizens United case became the back breaker of integrity in our elections.

Key Point: That decision was driven by John Roberts legislating from the bench in a case that was not even brought before the court by a plaintiff! One has to wonder if this was a predetermined decision he wanted to reach. Otherwise, where did that secondary case come from?

Put a bookmark here.

Professor Heather Cox Richardson reported this in her July 6 edition of Letters From an American:

“Both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, the flagship organizations of professional historians in the U.S., along with eight other U.S. historical associations (so far), yesterday issued a joint statement expressing dismay that the six Supreme Court justices in the majority in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision that overturned Roe v. Wade ignored the actual history those organizations provided the court and instead ‘adopted a flawed interpretation of abortion criminalization  .  .  . ‘ “

” ‘[t]hese misrepresentations are now enshrined in a text that becomes authoritative for legal reference and citation in the future, ‘an undermining of the imperative that historical evidence and argument be presented according to high standards of historical scholarship. The Court’s majority opinion…does not meet those standards.’ ” [emphasis mine]

Translation: the Supreme Court ignored evidence that was inconvenient to the decision the justices wanted to make (i.e. overturn Roe). As in the manufactured case derived from the Citizens United law suit, the court clearly had its mind made up to push the doctrines it wanted, irrespective of precedent, facts and even without having a case before it.

And that radicalization is the true danger of this gerrymandered Supreme Court. It appears these justices want to roll back rights and progress 90 – maybe 150 – years.

Are you seeing the pattern yet?

You better see it, because this Court has already invited yet more cases to give them the opportunity to end yet more rights of the people.

For further reading, review Harry Littman’s troubling forecast of Supreme Court malfeasance.

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Special Note: According to an ongoing Gallup survey, public confidence of the Supreme Court has plummeted down to 25%. And this study update was conducted before any of the end-of-term Court decisions were announced, including Dobbs. A fresh study will almost certainly show a sharp drop from the already historically low public confidence in the Court.

A similar drop in confidence is what Justice John Paul Stevens predicted in his blistering dissenting opinion in the Citizens United decision in 2010. As you can see, that is what happened.

Click me for the story

For Nerd Readers

You must read Jeffery Toobin’s explanation of this sordid story in The New Yorker. For a sampling, here’s a section of Toobin’s comments on Justice John Paul Stevens’ dissent in the Citizens United case:

So it was especially galling that the Court converted Citizens United from a narrow dispute about the application of a single provision in McCain-Feingold to an assault on a century of federal laws and precedents. To Stevens, it was the purest kind of judicial activism.

Or, as he put it in his dissenting opinion, “Five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.” [emphasis mine] The case should have been resolved by simply ruling on whether McCain-Feingold applied to “Hillary: The Movie,” or at least to nonprofit corporations like Citizens United.

Stevens was just warming up. His dissent was ninety pages, the longest of his career. He questioned every premise of Kennedy’s opinion, starting with its contempt for stare decisis, the rule of precedent. He went on to refute Kennedy’s repeated invocations of “censorship” and the “banning” of free speech. The case was merely about corporate-funded commercials shortly before elections. Corporations could run as many commercials as they liked during other periods, and employees of the corporations (by forming a political-action committee) could run ads at any time.

Stevens was especially offended by Kennedy’s blithe assertion that corporations and human beings had identical rights under the First Amendment. “The Framers thus took it as a given that corporations could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public welfare,” Stevens wrote. “Unlike our colleagues, they had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind.” Congress and the courts had drawn distinctions between corporations and people for decades, Stevens wrote, noting that, “at the federal level, the express distinction between corporate and individual political spending on elections stretches back to 1907, when Congress passed the Tillman Act.”

As for Kennedy’s fear that the government might regulate speech based on “the speaker’s identity,” Stevens wrote, “We have held that speech can be regulated differentially on account of the speaker’s identity, when identity is understood in categorical or institutional terms. The Government routinely places special restrictions on the speech rights of students, prisoners, members of the Armed Forces, foreigners, and its own employees.” And Stevens, a former Navy man, could not resist a generational allusion: he said that Kennedy’s opinion “would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by ‘Tokyo Rose’ during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders.” (Stevens’s law clerks didn’t like the dated reference to Tokyo Rose, who made propaganda broadcasts for the Japanese, but he insisted on keeping it.)

Stevens’s conclusion was despairing. “At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt,” he wrote. “It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.” It was an impressive dissent, but that was all it was. Anthony Kennedy, on the other hand, was reshaping American politics.

————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
.
Fire the bastards!
.
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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