Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Best Congress Money Can By: Just Ask the Supreme Court

Dweedledee & Dweedledom

Free speech sounds like such a simple idea.
There's a reason it's the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights.
It's the fundamental right on which all others are standing.

But consider this: You are in a crowded theater and someone stands up and shouts, "Fire! Run for your lives."
But there is no fire. The speaker is just exercising his right to free speech.

Or this: You are gathered in a huge stadium. There are 100,000 people there. You stand up to say, "I think every citizen should be able to use the bathrooms here, regardless of his or her color."  But on the public address system a man says:  "The bathrooms are for whites only. It is God's will. It's in the Bible."  Your voice has carried far enough for maybe 100 people to hear you. The man on the PA system has reached all 100,000.

Or, consider this: The local town police officer stops your daughter daily, on her commute to school, asking her for a date. Finally, one day, she refuses again and he hauls her off to  the police station, where she is stripped searched, has her vagina examined just in case she is carrying any lethal weapons there--we are only concerned about the safety of the jailers and the other prisoners-- and she is ultimately released, with a speeding ticket. The newspaper, which is owned by the police officer's father, prints a story saying she was driving erratically, that she propositioned the officer. The article appears in the paper, which is distributed to the entire town. 

Free speech, 100%. 
Rye Lobsterman, Obadiah Youngblood

If you are an absolutist, decisions become simple:  Limit speech and you violate freedom, and you violate the 1st Amendment. If you tell the Koch brothers they cannot spend $100 million to buy TV commercials for Rand Paul or for the senate candidacy of Rush Limbaugh, then you have violated their rights to express their opinions in a free society. It's really very simple. They have a right to say what they please, publish their opinions, in whatever form they can pay for, and to communicate their ideas to the public as widely as they can afford to disseminate them.

Suppose, in the not too distant future, technology becomes available so the purchaser can slip his message into your cell phone, your computer, your television, your radio and into your iTunes?  If they can afford to do it, is there any problem with that? Is access not one aspect relevant to considerations of free speech?

For Justice Thomas, there should be no limits on the amount the Koch brothers can spend to elect the particular man they want. For Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia and now Kennedy, there may be no limits, but that will be for the next case. Right now, all they'll say is an individual can give up to $2500 per candidate every two years, but he can give $2500 toe each of  10,000 different PAC's, which are buying ads for that candidate. It's just a matter of book keeping, really.

So, for the United States Supreme Court, buying elections is no problem. It's like the game Monopoly--if you can gather up control of enough blocks, eventually you can control what everyone else is doing.

There is a reason 1% control the wealth.
They can buy the people who make the rules. They can make sure all the office holders are in their pockets.

And our current Supreme Court smiles and winks and says, "Fair is Fair."

Our Constitution, our Revolution was a reaction to the overwhelming authority of a king, of government, so rules were written to limit the power of government. What those bewigged 18th century gentry did not anticipate was a threat from oligarchs, from non governmental rich men who owned the country. Hell, Washington, Jefferson, most of the delegations from the South ruled over their plantations like little monarchs. They were concerned about a government taking from them. They were not concerned about a rich man having too much power. They were the rich men.

Want a definition of "Smug?"  Look at the photo of the Koch brothers above, or, alternatively, go look at a photo of our current Supreme Court.


  1. Mad Dog,
    Thank God we have the Supreme Court to look out for the downtrodden-those poor souls with the ability to spend an infinite amount of money on campaigns, but whose first amendment right to "participate" was being trounced by campaign finance reform. So glad Justice Roberts and the gang have allowed folks like the Koch brothers to get back in the game-seeing how little their "participation" has been in the past. You're so right, the Koch brothers must be feeling mighty smug today, but wouldn't you if you knew the Supreme Court had your back...

    If you haven't seen the Daily Show from Tuesday night(4/1) you have to--it deals with CNN's moment to moment coverage of the missing Malaysian plane( not a funny subject,but CNN is) and is especially good. Then Michael Lewis comes on to discuss his latest book about new and inventive, albeit complicated, ways the rich get richer via the stockmarket. You'll enjoy it.

    Another great painting by Obadiah Youngblood-he is quite a prolific artist. I really like how he uses the color red in this one-on the truck, the door and the boat. Enough to enliven it, with out going over into garish-really just the right amount. Mr. Youngblood does have a good eye...

  2. Maud,

    I'm astonished you could pick up those splashes of color. A little eerie, actually, you honed right in on something 90% miss.
    I will bring Stewart up on you tube.
    I'm not enough of a historian to know whether our current state of the rich rule, they make the rules is anything new. Ready Howard Zinn, I expect its a case of "Thus it ever was."

    Mad Dog