Nope, nothing but wine and roses for GWB. Via.
Nope, nothing but wine and roses for GWB. Via.
When I saw this article at First Read, I had to make sure it wasn't a reprint of a piece from The Onion. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says he's "not into politics." Could've fooled me. He's married to Virginia, founder-of-a-tea-party group-turned-lobbyist who bragged about all the influence she had (who also left a rather strange voice mail for Anita Hill), and who lobbied against health care reform.
This is the same justice who Herman Cain said “is one of my models.”
So fine, Thomas-- who ruled in favor of Citizens United-- claims he isn't literally "into" politics, but he also isn't exactly unbiased, objective, or even-handed, let alone nonpartisan:
As Mark Karlin at BuzzFlash pointed out, "Thomas... didn’t even report large financial payments that benefited him and his wife, as he ruled on cases that involved the sources of the personal funds."
And of course, there was the Clarence Thomas gifting scandal:
There have been alarming reports of justices – most notably Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – attending political events and using their position to fundraise for organizations.
You get the picture. Now here is what Clarence Thomas said during a forum at Duquesne University's law school in response to a moderator's question of whether he was surprised that there was a black president. Per First Read:
[H]e is not surprised there's a black president. But he knew that it would be one "approved by the elites, the media." "I guess I thought there would be black coaches, black heads of universities, maybe again, as I said, I'm naïve. But the thing I always knew it would have to be a black president who was approved by the elites, the media, because anybody they didn't agree with they would take apart.... And that will happen with virtually-- you pick your person. Any black person, who says something that is not a prescribed things that they expect from a black person, it will be picked apart. You can pick anybody. Don't pick me. Pick anyone who has decided not to go along with it. There's a price to pay. So I always assumed it would be somebody the media had to agree with." [...]
Asked if he had any "common ground" with the left-of-center president, the conservative jurist, said, "You know that's hard to say. It's like, what common ground did I have with President Bush? 43? You know, I'm not into politics. I don't like politics. And I try not to-- I do my job. I have common ground with some of the appointees, say with Justice Ginsburg or with Justice Kagan, because we're doing the same thing, but as politics, I just don't do politics. I don't like politics."
Go that? He doesn't like politics.
To be crystal clear, he just doesn't do politics.
Did I mention he doesn't like politics?
"I just don't like politics... I mean, it is--, I'm just done. I don't like politics. I like history. I like things of substance. I don't understand politics. I don't understand scuba diving, you know? When I think of scuba diving, I think of drowning. So I'm not against it, it's just not-- I'm not going under water."
In case you missed it, he "hates politics." That might have gotten by you.
The Supreme Court could tell us this month on why they were right about Citizens United, the case that has changed this country for the worse, as the Wisconsin recall election made very clear, and as those in November are shaping up to do the same. Or they could hear the case in the fall and decide whether or not they screwed up.
Unlimited use of private wealth to influence election outcomes is giving a handful of political billionaire sugar daddies more clout than the candidates themselves.
An article in today's L.A. Times drives the point home while it illuminates. For example, all that money that's been given to campaigns isn't as corporate as you'd think. An entirely different case was decided by a U.S. Court of Appeals after the Citizens United ruling that affects super PAC campaign ads, not necessarily corporate ones.
The rise of "super PACs," which may raise and spend unlimited amounts so long as they do so independently of a candidate, has allowed close aides to candidates to set up supposedly independent committees that have raised huge amounts, primarily from wealthy individuals. The PACs have spent most of their money on negative ads attacking the opposition. That unlimited fundraising was set in motion by Citizens United, but came to full flower after the subsequent Court of Appeals decision.
So, as the L.A. Times reports, we have a two-track campaign funding system: "One features small donors and strict regulation; the other exists for the very wealthy, who are largely freed from regulation." A twofer!
And SCOTUS decided that the 1st Amendment protects independent spending on campaigns and that "more public speech and debate on politics is a plus, not a minus."
And by public speech and debate they mean secret money.
As I mentioned earlier, the problem is that control went from candidates and political parties to outside groups.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, citing the 5-4 opinion, reasoned that since the 1st Amendment guaranteed the right to unrestricted "independent" spending on politics, PACs should have the right to collect unlimited sums, so long as they too were independent. [...]
A person who wants to contribute to the campaigns of President Obama or Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger, may give no more than $5,000 this election cycle. But those who have a million dollars to spend can send their money to a super PAC supporting Obama or Romney.
Super PACs have to disclose their donors, but those who prefer secrecy can use not-for-profit groups and trade associations that don't disclose theirs.
The Supreme Court is being asked to hear a case to address some of this mess, in which the Montana Supreme Court refused to strike down its state ban on election spending by corporations. But you can bet that the wealthy will win, because their guys on the highest court in the land attend and/or headline fundraisers hosted by conservative groups filled to the brim with corporate donors.
Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, Part 2 of 3, because our voices matter:
In discussing rules on recusal, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that his fellow Supreme Court justices are "jurists of exceptional integrity and experience.... I know that they each give careful consideration to any recusal questions that arise in the course of their judicial duties."
Justice Clarence Thomas neglected to disclose the hundreds of thousands of dollars his wife was paid by a far-right organization.
Roberts doesn't think Congress should dictate ethics rules for the Supreme Court. I've got news for Roberts: The United States is a democracy, not a monarchy.