Friday, October 19, 2012

The "Democratic" Party's Supreme Court Scam

The Democrats have a never-ending scam they trot out every 4 years when they're running their man (maybe a woman, someday; unfortunately it will probably be another Clinton) for President. They fill people with dread, using scary stories of what the Republican Bogeymen will do when they "take over" and get to make appointments to the Supreme Court. Their very subtle argument runs along the lines of this:

 “JUST ONE (or two or three) APPOINTMENTS WILL SHIFT THE BALANCE OF THE COURT!! THEN YOU'LL LOSE YOUR RIGHT TO ABORTION!” the Democrats and their auxiliaries screech, to induce people to go vote for them.

Excuse me? A few points are in order here. Reactionaries have been controlling the Supreme Court since Nixon's day. In fact, except for the aberrational Warren Court, the Supreme Court has always been deeply reactionary and hostile to human rights. And none of the 5-person majority reactionary bloc on the Court is about to retire. So there is NOTHING hanging in the balance because there already is a rightwing majority and there’s been one for over a decade.1

More tellingly, and this really exposes the Democrats as deeply cynical con artists, the present membership of the Court is DUE TO THE DEMOCRATS as much as it is to the Republicans.

Take these very glaring examples of despicable Democratic complicity with the GOP in creating and imposing on us the arch-reactionary Court of today. 

Antonin Scalia, a horribly fanatical rightist, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate 98-0 in 1986. And I remember that it was obvious at the time how awful he was- his confirmation made me nauseous. In what eventually turned out to be ironic, and poetically just, then-Senator Al Gore was one of those 98 culprits. It serves the bastard right that Scalia was one of the five who stole the 2000 election from Gore, crushing his lifelong dream and ambition to become President. But don't cry for Gore: that made member of the nomenklatura is now filthy rich, with a net worth of around $100,000,000. That's one hundred million, in case all those zeroes confused you. [Sources: Forbes, CNBC, Fast Money, and many others.] [The Gang of Five GOP operatives on the Supreme Court who stole the election were Scalia, Rehnquist, Thomas, O’Connor, and Kennedy.]

Another of the GOP Gang of Five that stole the 2000 election from the hapless Democrats, Sandra Day O'Connor, was confirmed by 99-0, in 1981, in yet another fine example of "bipartisanship," i.e. the ruling political class marching in lockstep to oppress us. O’Connor started as an apparatchik of the extremely rightwing Arizona Republican Party.

The lifelong nasty GOP apparatchik and Nixon hatchet man, William Rehnquist, another product of the Arizona GOP (that also gave us that fanatic avatar of the Right, Barry Goldwater) was confirmed first for Associate Justice and later as Chief Justice (under fascist butcher Reagan) by 2 to 1 margins by the Senate. This despite the fact that he cut his political eyeteeth by suppressing the votes of Latinos in Arizona, confronting and intimidating them in polling stations and challenging their right to vote. Then he lied about it later in his Senate confirmation hearings. That's ok; politicians are very forgiving of liars since they're liars too, so they have a natural affinity and sympathy for fellow liars. (Unless they're enemies of the U.S. Then they denounce them in high moral dudgeon.)  Rehnquist was Chief Justice and part of the 5-4 majority in the Bush v. Gore Florida recount case.

Yet another career reactionary operative, Chief Justice John Roberts, was given a “bipartisan” stamp of approval, voted in by 78-22, a 3.5 to 1 margin, in 2005.

Kennedy, an alleged "swing" vote on the court who helped the GOP steal the 2000 election, was confirmed in 1988 in another squeaker, 97-0. But Samuel Alito was given the green light by a less impressive 58-42, in 2006. (Well would ya look at that! Some Democrats actually voted against putting our fates in the hands of a reactionary, for a change!)

And in what may be the worst example in the modern era of the Democrats’ complicity in the evil of giving so much power over our lives to vicious reactionaries, one that needs special emphasis (particularly since the bourgeois establishment has done such a bang-up job of consigning it to the memory hole) is the case of the perverse (in several ways) Clarence Thomas, a man who seems to hate blacks as much as a typical Southern white racist. (That’s one way he’s perverse. Another way is, of course, his history of vulgar sexual harassment. Then there’s his image of himself as an 18 century member of the American landed gentry. His so-called “judicial philosophy” is nothing but nostalgia for his imaginings of how swell it must have been to be among their number, transliterated into legalistic mumbo-jumbo.)

At the time of Thomas’ ascension to the high court from hack GOP apparatchik (1991), the Senate was controlled by the Democrats. And the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who oversaw the confirmation process and very public hearings, was none other than one Joe Biden, the current Vice President of the United States. Beneath his slaphappy political goofball exterior, Biden is one venal, malign fellow. He’s especially big on repressive legislation, including of the “drug war” variety. (It was his idea to make club owners criminally liable for Ecstasy use on their premises. Hark, what Herald of Freedom Joe Biden is!)

Biden ran interference for Thomas to get him onto the high court despite Anita Hill’s revelations. It was Biden who blocked other witnesses who could corroborate Thomas’ behavior. And it was Biden who spread the word among the Democratic Senators that Hill was a liar, thus providing the crucial margin for the reactionaries’ 52-48 victory. You see from that margin what a close-run thing it was. The GOP couldn’t have done it without Biden.

We know this from the scrupulously documented, devastatingly detailed book, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson. Abramson has since risen in the bourgeois hierarchy to become editor di tutti editors, the boss of all editors at the NY Times. So she has no excuse for not knowing better, and not assigning articles to remind people.2

So in fact, in most instances anywhere from few to no Democratic Senators vote against the extreme rightwing nominees the GOP puts forth to pack the court with. And Obama is so uninterested in lifting even a pinkie to resist the reactionary packing of the judiciary- part of a long term conspiracy by hard rightist lawyers in the Federalist Society, the GOP, and the top echelon of the corporate oligarchy. Lewis Powell, that corporate lawyer also put on the Supreme Court by the unholy alliance of Democratic and Republican Senators, wrote a memo before his ascension to Infallible Justice that was a clarion call mobilizing the reactionary corporate elite in this endeavor.

Meanwhile “liberals” mostly vote for these hard right wing nominees, only occasionally putting on a show of pseudo-resistance when the people they need to con raise a fuss. I say “pseudo-resistance” because they never go beyond “expressions of concern” and voting against, knowing full well the votes are there to confirm- unless they actually want to block by, say filibustering, or putting a hold on nominees. (Only takes one Senator to put a hold on. I’m not sure if that is “allowed” for Supreme Court nominees, as is commonly done with other executive branch nominees that some reactionary in the Senate doesn’t like, or occasionally for purposes of extorting legislative favors or money for their state’s business interests.)

The other thing “liberals” do is tell the chumps who they want to vote Democratic every four years that the sky is about to fall if the GOP wins the Presidency and appoints more Justices.

Take, for example, The Nation magazine. The cover, and most of the issue dated October 8th was devoted to the “the Supreme Court hangs in the balance with this election!” line of propaganda. The issue harps on the pro-big corporate bias of the Court-  as if the Democratic Party isn’t a pro-big corporate Party. One dishonest article entitled “How The Right Packed The Court” completely ignored all the help the “Right” got from the Democrats in packing it.3
This article is a good example of how something can be accurate factually yet present a false picture of reality. By omitting the Democrats’ role, the article does not provide readers with the information they need to understand fully the cause of the problem, and certainly guarantees NO SOLUTION, EVER, as the implication (explicated elsewhere) is that the solution is to elect Democrats to the White House. I think reality and experience has conclusively proven that is NOT the solution. That is a guarantee to remain mired in an oppressive system with no escape route.

The Nation magazine crowd are Democratic Party cowboys.  Cowboys in the sense of what actual cowboys do. Their job is to herd progressives into the Democratic Party corral, to keep lefties politically penned up inside the Democratic Party’s fence, ideologically confused and politically neutralized so as not to pose any possible threat to the system of power. And these cunning political cowpokes roughly round up strays who are tempted to actually vote for people who want to change things, such as a Nader (who the Nationites savagely attacked for having the effrontery to think he had a right to run for President), or any Green or Socialist or whatever alternative. Just as cattle rustlers steal cattle, Nader was accused of “stealing” Democratic votes. (Guess you didn’t know you were the Property of the Democratic Party! Maybe they should brand us!)

Leftists are supposed to just dutifully go to the polls every 2 or 4 years and participate in the staged elections by voting for the Democratic head of the two-headed beast, validating the “democratic” legitimacy of the two-party corporate dictatorship we (and a lot of other people all around the world,  in effect) exist under. Anyone who is serious about pro-human change in the world has to become a conscious enemy of the system. That’s certainly how the system treats all progressives anyway. The secret police explicitly designates left of center dissidents as “terrorists.” Obama has sicced the Federal prosecutors around the country on activists, including in Seattle and Chicago. The FBI and the entire panoply of repressive organs of the state behaves no differently towards people who challenge the corporate status quo under Democratic regimes than under Republican ones. Fake progressives epitomized by The Nation are a sophisticated technique for neutralizing potential threats to the system, NOT vehicles for change, regardless of their usefulness as information sources.

1)       Remember something called Bush v. Gore? The bourgeoisie prefer that you don’t remember it, since stolen elections contradict their main propaganda themes- that the U.S. is the epitome of democracy. Of course, lots of things contradict that, like the fact that for most of U.S. history most adults were legally barred from voting. Or that there was a coup in 1963 in which the CIA, in league with the FBI and military, assassinated the President of the U.S., with “the” media acting as accessories after the fact to this day.

The only reference to Florida 2000 you ever get from “the” media these days is “hanging chads,” an extremely misleading meme. Lately we have learned from Greg Palast that the ballots were deliberately manufactured with the chads mispositioned so they would not be properly punched out.

Anyway, the Democrats and their cowboys blame their loss in 2000 on Ralph Nader. If only he hadn’t run, the GOP and Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his gang wouldn’t have arranged to steal Florida, and their 5 operatives on the Supreme Court wouldn’t have blocked a recount! Nader caused all that! And Al Gore would have won his home state of Tennessee! And Gore and the Democrats would have objected to the brazen, racist disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of black voters! And the Democratic Supervisor of Elections for Palm Beach County, Theresa LePore, who designed a ballot that duped thousands of elderly Jews into voting for notorious anti-Semite Patrick Buchanan (much to that fascist’s amusement) wouldn’t have done that except for Ralph Nader! And “the” media wouldn’t have been blatantly biased against Gore throughout the entire campaign while going easy on former cokehead-alcoholic-war-dodger-National Guard-no-show Bush! It’s all Nader’s fault that Gore lost, I tell you!! Can’t you see that?

You see, the “democratic process” can’t work if there are more than two candidates. It can’t work if anyone tries to challenge the monopoly on political power held by the two corporate capitalist pro-U.S.-Imperialism parties! Allowing anyone to run outside the two-party dictatorship would just lead to anarchy! Why would you want to mess with The World’s Greatest Democracy? That’s why states make it so incredibly difficult for anyone not anointed by one of the two (two’s plenty!) parties to even get on a ballot. That’s why Democratic and Republican politicians pass convoluted, arcane, voluminous election laws. That’s why their lawyers go to court to get Democratic and Republican judges to throw people (like Nader) off the ballot, invalidate their qualifying petitions to get on the ballot, etc. It’s because they’re so dedicated to democracy and the people’s right to choose “their” “leaders.” Let’s not be cynical here.

2)       The New York Times ran an editorial October 16th decrying all the Federal Court vacancies and upbraiding the Republicans for putting their petty partisan political interests above the Good of the Nation. It makes a passing reference to the next President possibly making Supreme Court appointments. It also briefly mentions Obama’s “slowness” in even nominating judges to the Judiciary. How diffident, passive, and Hamlet-like our Assassin-in-Chief can be about some things! Undecisive! ["Politics and the Courts,"editorial, 10/16/12.]

3)       No surprise that the Democrats’ crucial role in the court-packing wasn’t mentioned at all. First, it’s in The Nation, an organ put out by Democratic Party stooges, and second, it was penned by one William Yeomans, whose background is given in a footnote as a former chief counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy, a former “Justice” Dept. apparatchik who spent 26 years there, a legal director of something called “Alliance for Justice,” a program director at the “American Constitution Society,” and currently a “fellow in law and government” at American University. (Busy fellow! He must be very talented! Or considered politically reliable.) In short, this is a man steeped in Democratic Party politics. I wouldn’t expect a former chief counsel to the “liberal lion” Kennedy to say anything uncomplimentary about Democratic Senators, would you?

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Iranian Economy Screaming In Pain

One thing the U.S. knows how to do is “make economies scream” (in the notorious words of Nixon, giving Richard Helms, CIA gestapo boss, his marching orders on Chile in 1970, being told by his leader to “make the economy scream,” according to Helms' notes of a meeting with Nixon). It's done it to Iraq, it's been trying to do it with some success to Cuba for 50 years, and now it's doing it to Iran. The Iranian currency just plunged 50% in a week, and is continuing to plunge. A full-fledged currency panic and loss of confidence is in train. (You see, “Bibi” Netanyahu? All We Are Saaay-ing, Is Give Sanctions A Chance.)

An Iranian rial will now get you an American dollar- or rather, 37,000 rials will buy you a buck. That's a lot more than the 24,600 rials it would have cost you a week ago. The rial is down over 80% year to date. (Talk about Weimar Germany-style inflation and currency debasement! I hope the Iranians stocked up on wheelbarrows already- the U.S. Is probably getting set to embargo those too. Maybe the U.S. will let some wooden barrels through so Iranians will have something to cover themselves with when their clothes wear out.)

Of course, the question that is never asked or answered in the U.S. media is: what if Iran says “uncle” and knuckles under to U.S.-led demands? The assumption the gullible U.S. public is allowed to believe is that then sanctions will be lifted. Not so. There's a propaganda technique at work here, that I called Deception by Omission.

The “offer” on the table from the U.S. Is this: Iran, shut down and demolish the Fordow uranium enrichment site (the one that's under a mountain that our bombs can't destroy), and hand over ALL your enriched uranium, and then MAYBE we'll EASE the sanctions.

I kid you not. That's the U.S. “offer” on hand.

Now maybe that's just a hardball negotiating position, to give the U.S. some bargaining room. But then there's the matter of U.S. Law.

As the latest rounds of sanctions was passed by Congress at the end of July, various Congresspeople stipulated that in order for the sanctions to be lifted, not only does Iran have to completely dismantle its nuclear program, it must also let its people vote the mullahs out of power i.e. Congress is demanding regime change to lift the sanctions- and abandon Hezbollah and Hamas, i.e. give Israel a totally free hand to do with them as it wishes. It's called “The Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012.” Funny title. “Accountability” of course is U.S. Imperialist code for “we're gonna make you pay for crossing us.” And the chest beating putative concern for the human rights of Iranians is just ludicrous, on many grounds, but I'll mention just two in passing: 1) the sanctions hurt the Iranian people most of all, and 2) the U.S. Imposed a brutal dictatorship on Iran from 1953 to 1979, during which a quarter of a million Iranians were killed, the CIA mentored the world's most savagely torturing secret police, the SAVAK, and Amnesty International branded the Shah's regime the worst violator of human rights in the world- which is quite something, considering the competition.

You see, until the Iranians “come clean on their nuclear program, end the suppression of their people and stop supporting terrorist activities, they will face deepening international isolation and even greater economic and diplomatic pressure,” Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat of South Dakota, said. (AP, 7/31/12, in NY Times, “DealStruck to Tighten Sanctions Against Iran.”)

And the always execrable Florida Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who sponsored the bill in the House, brayed that the latest law attacking Iran blacklists virtually all of Iran’s energy, financial and transportation sectors, and cuts off companies that keep doing business with Iran from access to our markets in the United States.” This Stateswoman heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee. (Oh, here's a surprise- she really really hates the Castro regime in Cuba. No, really, she does.)

Our good Congresspeople also wanted to punish the directors and shareholders of Swift, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, which handles interbank transactions, unless they stop providing services to the Central Bank of Iran, thus cutting Iran off entirely from the world financial system. (The official, aboveground system anyway.) They didn't go that far- yet.

But maybe they don't really mean it. After all, it barely squeaked through the House by 421-6.

At the time the bill passed. Binyamin (his actual name) Netanyahu and current War Secretary and lifelong apparatchik Leon Panetta (his last gig was overseeing assasinations at the CIA) stood shoulder to shoulder and jointly issued a bellicose statement telling Iran that “time is running out” and other threatening language.

Of course, this is all about power, and the desire to prevent Iran under its current regime from acquiring more leverage in the region, NOT about a threat to Israel's survival. The Iranian mullahs aren't the mindless fanatics the Taliban are, nor are they like suicidal car bombers. They know what would happen if they launched a nuclear attack on Israel. (It would take them years to develop miniaturized warheads that can be carried on missiles, and to build enough missiles to penetrate Israel's anti-missile defenses, plus Israel has an arsenal of several hundred warheads, and by the way, Israel's backer the U.S. has thousands of nuclear weapons, and for icing on the cake, Britain and France also have nuclear arsenals, and are allies of Israel.)

So here's how the propaganda technique, of misleading the public by omission, what I call Deception By Omission, works. You bury the crucial facts in the fine print and let the blaring trumpets and pounding drums drown out the whispers of critical information. Of course, people who go over printed media with a magnifying glass every day, and recall the one-time mentions of significant facts, and recognize their importance, AND remember them, aren't fooled. But everyone else is. We can't say “the media” didn't report it. See, they reported it! (Some did, anyway, one time.) But it's hardly the impression that's conveyed by the deluge of “coverage” we are fed on this issue. (And others as well.)