Tags: Antonin Scalia, Charles Koch, Chief Justice John Roberts, Citizens United, Clarence Thomas, Dark Money, David Koch, Greed, Jane Mayer, oligarchy, plutocracy, Supreme Court
The remarkable new book, ‘Dark Money’, by Jane Mayer, shows that a many-fingered long-lasting conspiracy by very wealthy, very greedy, very defensive individuals, underlies much of what has degraded and coarsened American political life over the past two and a half decades.
The conspiracy was instigated by Charles and David Koch.
The conspiracy is driven by the self interest of Charles and David Koch and their co-conspirators. They all rationalize it to themselves as the defense of liberty – but only of those liberties that benefit themselves.
It is a conspiracy to subvert American democracy. Jane Mayer shows that it was started when Charles Koch concluded that he couldn’t achieve his goals via the open political process.
Prominent members of this group are (quoting from Mayer’s page 4) “Richard Mellon Scaife, an heir to the Mellon banking and Gulf oil fortunes; Harry and Lynde Bradley, midwesterners enriched by defense contracts; John M. Olin, a chemical and munitions company titan; the Coors brewing family of Colorado; and the DeVos family of Michigan, founders of the Amway marketing empire.”
Their convocations impose utmost secrecy: no mobile phones, no notes, no audio or video recording. The eleborate precautions are described on page 9 of Jane Mayer’s book.
That it is a conspiracy is proven by its secrecy.
Were Scalia and Thomas paid to speak? How much?
Was their air travel and lodging reimbursed, or paid directly by the meeting’s sponsors? Almost certainly.
Scalia’s and Thomas’ attitudes on issues that were likely to come before the Supreme Court may have been influenced by those at the secret meetings at which they spoke. But more likely, they were invited to speak, and agreed to speak, because they were known to already favor plutocracy over democracy.
In turn, that almost certainly influenced how they voted when the Supreme Court was reaching its decision on Citizens United.
The Supreme Court’s majority decision on Citizens United enabled wealthy donors and the executives and board members of wealthy corporations to have much more influence – per person – on elections and on elected officials, than do ordinary citizens such as you and I. As a result, PACs became prominent. A PAC is not supposed to coordinate in any way with the candidate it supports, but news stories too numerous to count cite direct contacts and indirect signalling between candidates and ‘their’ PACs (yes, that is how some of the PACs are described in news stories), and there is much transfer of personnel between the campaign staff and the PAC and vice versa. PACs provide an effective way of influencing political outcomes, and are one of the Koch conspiracy’s major tools. No more ‘significant political say for each active citizen’. The political voice of a director of a PAC, of a lobbyist or of a politician who has an affiliated PAC, or of a wealthy individual, a corporate executive, or a member of a corporate board that contributes importantly to a PAC, is much louder than the voice of any ordinary citizen. This has seriously corrupted American political life, and has greatly attenuated poltical democracy.
Because of – or as evidenced by – their participation in these secret meetings, Scalia and Thomas were biased, and should have recused themselves from the decision on Citizens United.
If asked, Scalia and Thomas might claim that they attended and spoke as private citizens, that they were merely speaking for themselves, exercising their Constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and of speech.
As private citizens? Hah! No one believes that for a moment.
By virtue of their special status, Justices of the Supreme Court are always seen – accurately or inaccurately – as reflecting upon the Supreme Court when they speak on any topic having political ramifications.
By virtue of their special status, Justices of the Supreme Court receive special treatment at airports. Unless their hosts proved travel in a private airplane, both Scalia and Thomas probably availed themselves of that special treatment in their flights to and from these Koch-sponsored events. Private citizens do not receive this special treatment.
Doesn’t the Supreme Court issue guidelines on the out-of-court activities of its Justices?
Federal employees receive such guidelines, to reduce as much as possible both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.
Common sense says:
Attendance and giving a speech at a public meeting is proper for a Supreme Court Justice, as long as that attendance is not subsidised nor paid for.
Attendance at secret meeting is proper for a Supreme Court Justice, as long as the meeting is within the premises of the Supreme Court, and includes all of the Justices.
It is not proper for a Justice of the Supreme Court to attend and speak at a secret meeting on political policy, outside of the Supreme Court, and probably without even the knowledge and assent of all of the other Justices.
Two Justices of the Supreme Court committed a serious breech of ethics, casting great doubt upon their impartiality.
You can thank the Koch conspiracy for that.
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Tags: Donald Trump, Taj Mahal, casino, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Alice Crites, Walter Fee, Paul Farhi, junk bonds, Corey Lewandowski
As explained at the bottom of this post, you can comment on it to show either your agreement or your disagreement with some or all of it.
Trump is insecure. To an abnormal extent, he likes to project strong self-esteem. But the abnormal intensity of his boasting reveals that his self esteem is actually weak. His need for reassurance is why he continually claims that this group and that group loves him. Do you know anyone else who so obsessively boasts that so many groups love him?
Donald Trump, we do NOT love you.
We do not even LIKE you.
We despise Trump because he is an insecure braggart and a bully.
In Atlantic City, Trump tried to bully an elderly widow who just wanted to remain in her own home, rather than have it bulldozed to advance Trump’s plans for a casino. Trump lost. (Despite his inflated claim, Trump does not always win.) Afterwards, instead of expressing remorse and ethical growth, Trump gratuitously and falsely said that she was a nasty person.
We mistrust Trump because he believes in hype as a matter of principle.
An article (by Robert O’Harrow Jr., Alice Crites, Walter Fee) in a recent Washington Post adds detail to what we know about Trump’s spotty business history.
Besides being careless of facts, Trump overstates his assets, overstates what he can accomplish, and spins his failures – as if calling a failure a success makes it so.
As a matter of policy, Trump tells people what he knows they want to hear (voters, casino commissions), without making sure that he can back up what he says.
We despise Trump for his astoundingly incautious handling of large sums of money. Imagine what such an impulsive, feckless investor would do to the US Treasury, and to the financial standing of the US. Alexander Hamilton would have been aghast at the dangers of entrusting any significant aspect of the US economy into the hands of such a gambler and bluffer, especially given Trump’s bumpy track record in business.
We despise Trump for never acknowledging when his claims are proved to be erroneous. Trump’s disinterest in correcting the record shows that he does not care about the truth.
A striking example is his ‘birther’ claims about Obama, which he never retracted despite abundant solid disproof.
We despise Trump because he does not favor an open society, with the time and role it gives to the airing of dissenting views. Instead, Trump likes Putin’s way of doing things, and Putin likes Trump. An open society is the goal of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: witness the separation of powers, and the Bill of Rights. Trump thinks those features are merely impediments to decisive action. As explained in a previous post, Trump’s political beliefs developed as a result of the atypical advantages he had in starting his carreer.
We despise Trump because he allows and enables Corey Lewandowski‘s totalitarian control of access – by reporters and by the public – to Trump’s speaking appearances. Lewandowski’s approach is similar to that of Putin in Russia, to Xi in China, to Kim Jong-un in North Korea: only favorable images and reports may come out. Lewandowsky stomps on freedom of speech. Perhaps for his next job, Lewandowski should interview for a job with one of the dictators named above.
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