Sunday, March 14, 2010

Johnny & the Supremes' Greatest Hit

Chief Justice John Roberts is a sanctimonious jackalope. Oh, I'm sorry; am I in contempt of court? The Supreme Court is deserving of the most supreme contempt for their latest ruling opening the floodgates of unlimited corporate cash into the political system. As if it weren't  bad enough already, with a dozen lobbyists for every legislator in congress, now the richest corporations can simply buy congressional seats and slip their personal lackeys directly into the office. This bypasses all that pesky business about representative democracy and allows the financial markets to speak. Welcome to the United Corporate States of America, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Peoples' Republic of China.

The Court's decision, in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, passed on a 5-4 vote down strictly partisan lines, showing what twenty years worth of Reagan-Bush appointees will get you; judges so "business friendly" they are willing to protect corporate expenditures against the peoples' right to hold free and fair elections. The First Amendment has long protected the corporation as an "individual" with all the same rights of free speech as a real human, hence that quaint colloquialism, "corporate citizen." But this is the first time the court has interpreted "speech" to mean "money." The verdict overrules two precedents restricting campaign spending by corporations and unions, including the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act, and states that limiting corporate spending in advocating for a candidate is "governmental regulation of political speech." The explosion that followed the decision was the sound of champagne corks popping all over K Street in Washington and Madison Avenue in New York.

Among the many legitimate philosophical differences between conservatives and liberals, there is one issue that we can all agree on. The most corrosive and dangerous element in our presently polarized politics is not the filibuster, or attack ads, or even partisanship; it's money. Cash corrupts the process more than any malfunctioning voting machine and it creates false perceptions among voters about their candidates. I'll own up to being as gullible as the next guy after being totally fooled by the John Edwards presidential campaign. It's easy for an advertiser to portray a scoundrel as a loving, family man if the participants are in on the scam. But it's neither a liberal nor conservative principle to sell our democracy to the highest bidder. What's to prevent the NRA, or the Health Insurance Lobby, or Wall Street banks and brokerage firms from hiring Oliver Stone to produce campaign commercials that make Super Bowl ads look like QVC? We'll be finding out soon enough, in 2012, when we begin electing our public officials, from court clerk to president, like we're voting for the Video Music Awards.

Even after this onerous decision, the Father-Knows-Best automaton known as John Roberts had the temerity to bristle at the criticism that followed, especially from the president during his State of the Union address. Roberts told University of Alabama law students that the president's speech had turned into a "political pep rally," as if that's not what the State of the Union already is, and wondered if it were appropriate for the justices to even be there. This pomposity comes from a man who might not even be on the court if George W. Bush had succeeded in getting his gushing groupie, Harriet Miers, confirmed. Roberts was up for the seat of Sandra Day O'Connor when William Rhenquist, for whom Roberts served as law clerk, up and croaked, making the new justice not merely another conservative appointee, but the leader of the "Roberts 5:" Johnny, Sam, Tony, Anton, and Clarence. The conservatives always rail against "activist judges," who "legislate from the bench," until they become the majority, and then that's exactly what they do. Campaign contributions are not the same thing as corporate funding. One is free speech, the other is free speech through an expensive megaphone.

Years ago, people of a certain age will remember that leaving Memphis heading north, it was necessary to cross over the Wolf River. The waterway was then the repository for all the city's raw sewage and the odor was so God-awful, it was like the bathroom at Huey's after a rough weekend. Thanks to advanced filtration technologies and citizen groups like the Wolf River Conservancy, the river today, if not pristine, is a far cleaner place where people can canoe. Such is the current state of our public election system; somewhat polluted, but generally passable and reasonably dependable. However, what the Roberts court just did was to remove all the necessary filtering devices and allow the sewage to flow unchecked back into the mainstream of the body politic, like re-polluting the Wolf, and it will take years to reverse the course of the sludge that's rolling in like a special interest tsunami. A famous jurist once said in regard to the landmark, 1954, Brown v Board of Education decision that desegregated the public schools: "The court in that case, of course, overruled a prior decision. I don't think that constitutes judicial activism because, obviously, if the decision is wrong, it should be overruled. That's not activism. That's applying the law correctly." That judge's name was John Roberts, who turned out to be just another self-important, middle-aged white dude in a black robe.

Thanks to Bill Day for the generous use of his cartoon.

18 comments:

JimBob in K-town said...

You'll be interested to know that grassroots groups are already organizing to begin the process of reversing this action. Among them:
MoveToAmend.org
FreeSpeechForPeople.org
FixCongressFirst.org
This could take a while.

Anonymous said...

Randy,
Does "The Re-elect Obama Committee' have you on the payroll or have they promised you a Cadillac Insurance policy? I have only heard such drivel from Gibbes and Pelosi. You apparently have truly lost your mind.

Anonymous said...

Sputnik, this is THE END! I heard about this decision on PBS the night it occurred. This was to be just a narrowly defined civil case involving 1 political hack lawmaker. Roberts, et al decided that since we swallowed the 2000 election mis-judgement so well, we'll probably just go "ahem" when we hear this. This is truly the EXTREME COURT! Justice flew out the window with this one. Unfortunately, they're the last word on our Constitution, and no amount of public outcry, or grassroots orgs. will overrule this one. Particularly, because THE MONEY will already be funneled to those hungry, and horny pols who only care about being re-elected. No Randy, I think this one does it. It's all over! It's long been about term limits, and the money. This solidifies the deal. I was so totally psyched during the last election. I worked for Obama for weeks in his campaign. I contributed time and money to a new biginning as I saw it. Now, I've come to think that I backed the wrong horse, or rather, I put too much dough on his head. He's turning out to be just one more of a group, who sees power and wealth at the end of the political rainbow. Sorry, I'm so down,and jaded, but I don't see any recourse until someone can appoint new EXTREME court justices who care about the citizenry, and believe in fairness, and objectivity. Wait.... the President who will make those appointments, will most likely have already been "elected" by some huge conglomerate through their proxy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I think the fat lady has sung.... Oh Canada!

Zephyrman

Anonymous said...

correction.... that Citizens United case was about a film-maker, not a lawmaker.... sorry...

z

Anonymous said...

Randy, your article was NOT drivel despite this other Anonymous's opinion. This Supreme Court decision is bad for our country regardless of party loyalty. I hope something can be done to reverse these robed idiots.

Joel

gregg said...

Wonder what Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and the rest of that band would think? And what did Lincoln mean when he said, "of the people, by the people, FOR the people" in describing the structure of our country?

The lack of intellect and strength of blind dogma on the Right is tearing at that structure. They'd really like democracy to take a seat. The intent of our Founders was to break away from a ruling class and bring "freedom" to "all". And it was a good idea. But they were just a bunch of Sooshalists, weren't they? I guess Texas will soon start teaching that in school.

Scalia has always been out of control. Thomas has little to say because he has little to think. Roberts is a pretty boy who has John Edwards hair but has brought smugness along to fit the picture.

Those who declaim Obama as unfit are shooting at a guy who is fighting for the "people" who live here in this country. Is that what the Supreme Court decision furthers? Well, we'll see how it'll play in 2010. They may have initiated another round of send the Redcoats to a bloody death. You never can tell how much a group of independent people can take from a pack who would bind them.

Who knows? Maybe Roberts and the boys will have stirred up a real Boston Tea Party....not one made up of the poor dull normal followers of the Right's dogma who stand around in groups and argue that two plus two is five because they live in Amerika and can have their own O pin i on. No, we may get some Tom Paines out there like Mr. H who will point out that there is something to this democracy that is worth fighting for....and it has to do with protecting the people.

Anonymous said...

I believe that it's going to take another French style revolution to really get our Country back. Maybe not for decades. Right now, It's the Corporate States of America and this last abomination of a decision was the final nail in the coffin.

Nobody like to feel conned, hoodwinked, naive, deceived, but guess what???? We've all been had, and we never even saw it coming! AMF

z

Alan said...

Anonymous said...
“I believe that it's going to take another French style revolution to really get our Country back”. Will he be the one operating the guillotines? I was also wondering how Randy can live off that Corporate profit on the stocks from his inheritance. You should sell all that stock and give the cash to the poor. I don’t know about Dr. Gregg, but I will bet that Mel had plenty in the market.

gregg said...

I agree with Alan. Somehow we all need to "make it"....meaning we have to be able to buy or get what we want for our own survival however we define it. No one on this blog is a purist from what I can gather. We comment on what we believe to be rational, logical, decent, moral.... If we find that our sense of those fundamentals are in danger we address it in our own way. Is it ok to comment on, to address straight up, to even attack ideas that run contrary to our sense of the fundamentals above? Yeah, we can and we do. Living our lives in a certain way including giving the money we may only have by virtue of a birthright for causes we see as important is ok, too. We can't change what went before us, only what might come after us. Does that sound better, Alan?

Alan said...

I agree. Ideas need to be discussed and debated. All things need to be looked at from all sides. This blog is supposed to challenge all authority Right, Left and Center or it is misnamed. I don’t trust either side. Both claim good intentions and I think deep down they believe it. The problem is with the corruption of political power. It is like a drug addiction and before you know it your judgment is compromised and the pusher is calling the shots. The only solution is to go back to a citizen and not professional legislators.

People may not like a Supreme Court Ruling, but that is nothing new. I don’t know the percentages of split rulings over the history of the Court, but I’m sure it is high. To continually imply that either side on the Court are not honest hard working and qualified is myopic in thinking. If it were so simply black and white there would be no need for The Court. This latest ruling was expanded by one of the arguments used in the brief. It was the Justice Department that used an argument that expanded the ruling past what was brought by the lawsuit. That is the Eric Holder Justice Department. I wish I could give you details but that would have to come from a Constitutional Lawyer. I did get my info from one.

Chris said...

Each week throughout the 1950s, the Ellis family of remotest Frayser rode in a superannuated Hudson motor car over the Wolf River to and from St Mary's Episocopal church. I grew up associating sabbath day observances, weddings, funerals and sacred holidays with noxious effluvia, and thereby came to regard the smell of industrial run-off and raw, mammalian sewage as something of a holy sacrament.
On one blear winter morning of the Eisenhower administration, my daddy stopped momentarily near one of those bridge abutments to aid a stranded motorist on that stretch of North Thomas Street. Gazing through the skeletal and brittle fingers of that wintered thicket riven with hoarfrost, I saw a turd floating in the Wolf River squirming to get to shore. Leaning over the parapet and inhaling deeply, my meditations were infused with prayerful adoration.
The Humko plant on the south riverbank, an industrial token of America's post-war greatness, smelled even better than the river. It all comes back to me now. . .
Yours in Christ,
St Christopher

Father Farken said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all on the BAH! I was greeted this morning with SPD greetings from the Haspels & The O'Bamas...warmed me cockles! Thanks Sputnik! A shout out to Chris! Chris Ellis is that you? St. Christopher of Frayser? WestSide High maybe? Chris Ellis of stage & screen? Chris Ellis of Cousin Vinnie? Hollywood Chris Ellis? Writer...artist Chris Ellis? The original Ronald McDonald? The Chris Ellis of the P&H Cafe? This is Father Farken! You & the P&H gang threw rose pedals at my Seminary graduation! I sure miss you! If you are a different Chris...I enjoyed the post anyway! As a Frayser boy me self...the Wolf River taught me that you have to go through STANK to get anywhere in life! The Peace of the Lord! Father Ferghus Farken

SIREEN said...

As we go overturning that Supreme Court decision, how bout turning over Roe vs. Wade decision as well. How is frog gigging up the womens gazoo liberating anybody? We be treating human life as if it's a bullfrog hiding up a female river bank---shine the light---ZAP! The doctors on the hunt and has bagged another one! Hell! Where is the reverence for life in all that?
Now it is good to hear we have a new spiritual person amongst us reading Randy's Blog. The self proclaimed saint-St. Christopher of the Anglican persuasion. However I am a bit troubled by his Spiritual attraction to the Wolf River and the Humko Stink Factory of Frayser, Tn. My uncle Winston worked @ the Hummer for 18 years till his nose swole up like a melon and had to get his whole schnoz removed. I personally liked him better with the nose. Staring @ his face was like watching Lon Chaney in the phantom of the opera or something freaky like that but he was the most kindest of men. But Chris you act like the fumes of Frayser were like the heavenly smells that come from Wanda's Poor & Hungry Club & you treat that floating turd of Wolf River as if it was a sacred icon from the holy buttocks of St Francis of Assisi. Now I know that St Francis once rubbed excremuhpoop all over himself, most especially, his head because, as Fr. Farken sez, that there were a lot of shitheads in Italy & France @ that time & he didn't want to ever think that he was better than anyone else being the humble saint that he was. There must have been a lot of shitheads in India as well cuz Gandhi did the same thing hundreds of years later. Rubbing poop all over themselves like they were dry rubbing a slab of ribs. Holy Fools for sure! They may have smelled like they took a hallelujah swim in the Wolf River with Jeff Buckley! Shwew! Perhaps you are in the same spiritual category of Francis & Ghandi! With that being said I withdraw my judgement and welcome your wisdom to enlighten us all. Stink or no stink! There I said it! Thank you Jesus! Yours Truly! SIREEN

Gina Pera said...

OMG! I love you even more now, Randy, than I did when I was 8 and you were our neighbor and friends with my older sibs.

Love your music (I had no idea!). Love your blog! Hope you are well!

Gina Pera (in CA now)

Gina Pera said...

"the Father-Knows-Best automaton known as John Roberts"

Took the words right out of my mouth!

Randy said...

Hello Gina,
Thank you for all the kind words and it's good to hear from you again.
California sounds like a good place to be these days, but the old 'hood is well represented here, even if they tore down my old house.
I read about your brother in the paper from time to time, so I know he's doing well. Hope the rest of the family is also.
I set up a website with alot of the old band pictures and memorabilia, and you should check out the copy of the contract I posted that your sister made me sign, around 1964, for the IC annual fashion show. I had to "swear not to disappoint the girls." That was a tall order.
Please give my love to your family. I miss you all very much, but especially the original "EP."
Now that you found us born-again hippies, stay in touch, and check out randyandtheradiants.com too.
Thanks for writing,
Love,
Randy

rockskipper said...

I should have known, Randy, that you would have written about about this one -- cause this IS the beginning of the end to our Democracy! This ruling is a complete disgrace!

rockskipper said...

THIS RULING IS THE BEGINNING OF THE END TO OUR DEMOCRACY! OUR SUPREME COURT IS A DISGRACE!