The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

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Open Thread

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 14 2024

by Tony Wikrent

The Trump Shooting: The Most Shocking Act of a Shockingly Violent Age

Michael Tomasky, July 14, 2024 [The New Republic]

This was not an abnormal incident. It’s a sign of the times….

ut whatever his motivation turns out to be, his act not isolated. There was the shooting of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise in 2017. The attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of Nancy, in 2022. Those are just the headline-grabbers, but political violence, or at least the threat of it, is now a constant in American life.

Threats of political violence against members of Congress have skyrocketed. The Capitol Police investigated 902 such threats in 2016. That jumped up to 3,939 in 2017, and by 2021, the number was more than 9,600, or 10 times the number from just five years before. Hate crimes in 2022 hit 11,288, which is up from recent years (the number was 7,759 in 2020.) Domestic terrorism is on the rise, with the preponderance coming from the political right; the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Department of Justice, reported earlier this year that since 1990, “far-right extremists have committed far more ideologically motivated homicides than far-left or radical Islamist extremists, including 227 events that took more than 520 lives.”

Strategic Political Economy

What Liberals Get Wrong about the Right with Corey Robin – Factually! – 236



Rising Market Power Has Led to the Rise in Far-Right Political Parties 

[ProMarket, via Naked Capitalism 07-02-2024]


Is the Heart and Soul of Trump’s MAGA Base Really the White Working Class?

Les Leopold, January 16, 2024 [Wall Street’s War on Workers Newsletter; Common Dreams]

The corporate media and all too many politicians are blaming working people for the rise of Trump and MAGA. Yet, if we open our (lying) eyes a bit more, we can’t miss the massive horde of lawyers and businesspeople who serve as Trump’s enthusiastic enablers….

Political scientists Noam Lupu (Vanderbilt) and Nicholas Carnes (Duke) definitively disproved the notion that most of the people who voted for Trump in 2016 were white working class. They showed that only 30 percent of the Trump voters could be considered a part of that group….

The 2018 Primaries Project, at the Brookings Institute, reported that those voting in congressional Republican primaries in 2018 were better educated and richer than the public at large. Again, the white working class formed no more than one-third of the Republican primary base.

What about the January 6th insurrection? Wasn’t that a white working-class riot? Not according to the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats, which analyzed the demographics of the 716 individuals who had been charged with various January 6th crimes, as of January 1, 2022. Fifty percent were either business owners or white-collar workers, and only 25 percent were blue-collar workers (defined as no college degree).

The research for my book, Wall Street’s War on Workers, provides new data that confirms the white working class does not in any way pour into Hillary Clinton’s “basket full of deplorables.” In fact, most white working-class voters have become decidedly more liberal on divisive social issues over the last several decades, including LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, and racial discrimination….

Why Blame the White Working Class?

The attacks on working-class populism have been around for more than 140 years. Corporate owners and their newspapers viciously denounced the populist movement of the late 19th century, which aggressively challenged financial and corporate power. To counter that increasingly successful movement, newspapers, as well as pro-corporate politicians, depicted the populists as ignorant bomb-throwing radicals and worse….

Open Thread

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 07 2024

by Tony Wikrent


The (anti)Federalist Society assault on the Constitution

The Weekend at Yale That Changed American Politics 

Michael Kruse [Politico, magazine September/October 2018]

It’s not too extreme to say that one wonky student group founded in 1982 has reshaped the Supreme Court, and the nation. What actually happened at the birth of the Federalist Society? ….

…a few conservative students at elite law schools sensed not anxiety but a moment of opportunity. Inspired by Reagan’s ideology and emboldened by his election, they did something ambitious to the point of audacious. They asked a collection of the country’s most notable right-leaning scholars, judges and Department of Justice officials to assemble at one of the very hubs of liberal orthodoxy, the campus of Yale University. Convened principally by Steven Calabresi, who was at Yale Law, and Lee Liberman and David McIntosh, who were at University of Chicago Law, some 200 people arrived in New Haven, Connecticut, on the last weekend of April for a three-day symposium.

It had a dry title—“A Symposium on Federalism: Legal and Political Ramifications”—and it easily could have been just another set of lectures, of interest only to a small lot of participants and attendees, the kind of higher-ed, corkboard-flyer get-togethers that happen all the time with no broader fanfare or larger lasting consequences. But at this one, as speakers castigated what they viewed as coastal elites and a leftist media and legal establishment and argued for a more “originalist” reading of the Constitution, people present felt a new sort of buzz. In the hallways, between the sessions, the vibe was more than just brainy….

Over the years, the Federalists have honed a disciplined, excessively modest narrative of their origins and purpose—that they are simply a facilitator of the exchange of ideas, a high-minded fulcrum of right-of-center thought, a debating society that doesn’t take overtly partisan, political positions. That narrative is not wrong. It’s just not the whole truth. The full story of that initial weekend—based on interviews with people who were there, as well as the seldom-read words of the speeches recorded in a 1982 issue of the conservative Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy—reveals something different. The effort was, from the get-go, aggressively political. There was a feeling of steeling for a fight….

…Bork, for example, who had been a law professor at Yale and had just become a federal judge, spoke of “the onslaught of the New Deal” and “the gentrification of the Constitution.” Abortion and “acceptable sexual behavior,” he said, should be “reserved to the states.” Pointedly, with Roe v. Wade, he said, the Supreme Court had “nationalized an issue which is a classical case for local control. There is simply no national moral consensus about abortion, and there is not about to be.”….

“Part of Reagan’s policy was to build up forces in battleground nations in order to help topple enemy regimes,” Calabresi told Riehl, “and I thought of us as kind of the same equivalent in law schools.”

At Yale, Calabresi and a couple of conservative law students formed a student group in the fall of 1981. Eating lunch one day, according to a subsequent telling in the journal at Harvard, they batted about possible names. The Ludwig von Mises Society? The Alexander Bickel Society? The Anti-Federalist Society? The Anti-Federalists, after all, were the ones who sought a more decentralized government at the time of the founding of the country. They landed, though, on the Federalist Society, because it invoked the Federalist Papers and the long-running American debate about the appropriate balance of power between the national and state governments….

…They had the beginnings of buy-in. Now they needed arguably an even more important lubricant. Money. Leveraging a recommendation from Scalia, Calabresi contacted the conservative Institute for Educational Affairs to ask. “As Professor Scalia of the University of Chicago Law School mentioned to you last Wednesday on the telephone, we are interested in holding a symposium,” he wrote early that February in a letter archived among Bork’s papers at the Library of Congress. “Professor Scalia said you thought I.E.A. might be quite interested in sponsoring and funding such a symposium.” Calabresi estimated that it would cost “in the neighborhood of $24,000.” It ended up being closer to $25,000. And it worked. IEA wrote a check that covered most of the cost. The rest came from donors, including the John M. Olin Foundation and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute….

In 1987, Bork’s Supreme Court nomination was scuttled by a liberal-led Senate campaign that used Bork’s own words on issues such as Roe v. Wade—issues he had spoken about at the symposium. It angered and motivated members of the Federalist Society, convincing them they needed to redouble their efforts. “It was a galvanizing defeat,” Hollis-Brusky told me, demonstrating to some of them that they had tried to come too far, too fast. It also reinforced the notion that ideological purity wasn’t the only ingredient to transforming the judiciary. Raw politics mattered as well. And nearly two decades later, the Federalists would cement their power by keeping someone off the court. In 2005, they agitated for the withdrawal of George W. Bush’s nominee Harriet Miers, who had no Federalist Society ties (and a conspicuously scant résumé), leading to the nomination of Samuel Alito, who did. The episode affirmed the way in which the society’s influence had grown. Alito joined fellow Federalist Society contributors Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts….


Trump’s Far-Right Army Is Threatening Bloodshed. Believe Them.

Thom Hartmann, July 5, 2024 [CommonDreams]

…America has been changed as a result of a series of corrupt rulings by Republicans (exclusively; not one of these rulings has been joined by a Democratic appointee) which have changed America’s legal and political systems themselves.…

First, in a series of decisions — the first written by that notorious corporatist Lewis Powell (of “Powell Memo” fame) — Republicans on the Court have functionally legalized bribery of politicians and judges by both the morbidly rich and massive corporations.

This started with Powell’s 1978 Bellotti opinion, which opened the door (already cracked a bit) to the idea that corporations are not only “persons” under the Constitution, but, more radically, are entitled to the human rights the Framers wrote into the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments).

Using that rationale, Powell asserted that corporations, like rich people (from the Buckley decision that preceded Belotti by two years), are entitled to the First Amendment right of free speech. But he took it a radical step farther, ruling that because corporations don’t have mouths they can use to speak with, their use of money to spend supporting politicians or carpet-bombing advertising for a candidate or issue is free speech that can’t be tightly regulated.

Citizens United, another all-Republican decision with Clarence Thomas the deciding vote (after taking millions in bribes), expanded that doctrine for both corporations and rich people, creating new “dark money” systems that wealthy donors and companies can use to hide their involvement in their efforts to get the political/legal/legislative outcomes they seek.

Last week the Republicans on the Court took even that a huge step farther, declaring that when companies or wealthy people give money to politicians in exchange for contracts, legislation, or other favors, as long as the cash is paid out after the deed is done it’s not a bribe but a simple “gratuity.” ….

Finally, in the Trump immunity case, the Court ruled that presidents are immune from prosecution under criminal law, regardless of the crimes they commit, so long as they assert those crimes are done as part of their “official” responsibilities. And who decides what’s “official”? The six Republicans on the Supreme Court.

These actions — corporate personhood, money as speech, ending the Chevron deference to regulatory agencies, and giving the president life-and-death powers that historically have only been held by kings, shahs, mullahs, dictators, and popes — have fundamentally altered the nature of our nation….

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts (no vax/anti-vax.)

Happy Food Coma Day

If you have the day off and celebrate, I hope you enjoy! Doesn’t seem like much point in a regular post when the majority of readers will probably be otherwise occupied.

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 30 2024

by Tony Wikrent


The (anti)Federalist Society assault on the Constitution

[TW: There were a number of articles and videos in which people complained that “this Supreme Court is out of control.” I do not think such framing is useful. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court is very much in control of itself, and is carefully and deliberately implementing the hostile philosophy of government propounded by conservative, anti-republican theorists ever since Thomas Paine clashed with Edmund Burke, after Paine met Burke, and realized Burke may have been sympathetic to the American revolt against corrupt King, Parliament, and ministries, but was actually implacably hostile to the philosophy of self government of civic republicanism.

[Almost all of USA political history includes the background of this clash between the republicanism of Paine and the conservativism of Burke. Conservatism is simply philosophically hostile to the American experiment in republican self government. It is why conservatives argue that the Preamble of the Constitution is a meaningless flourish; that the General Welfare mandate and clause are dangerous mistakes that enable an overpowering “administrative state” and that the powers bestowed by the Constitution on the government are “strictly enumerated” and limited, not broad grants of legitimate power to solve problems not foreseen by the “founding fathers.” The Heritage collaboration with the Center for Renewing America and over 80 other right-wing groups to dismantle the “administrative state” by sharply curtailing government capacity while at the same time misusing executive power to punish political enemies — the infamous Project 2025 plan — is merely the latest development in this centuries-old struggle between conservativism and republicanism.

[There are no Democratic Party leaders I know of — with the notable exception of Representative Raskin (see below) — who discuss these issues of a philosophy for governing. In that sense, all the screaming, hollering, and agonizing over Biden’s awful debate performance is largely meaningless: there is no one in the leadership of the Democratic Party who is even attuned to the conservative / (anti)Republican assault on our government.  ]

‘Gift to Corporate Greed’: Dire Warnings as Supreme Court Scraps Chevron Doctrine

Jake Johnson, June 28, 2024 [CommonDreams]

The high court’s 6-3 ruling along ideological lines in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce significantly constrains the regulatory authority of federal agencies tasked with crafting rules on a range of critical matters, from worker protection to the climate to drug safety.

The majority’s decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

“The weight of human suffering likely to arise from this decision should keep the justices up at night,” said Emily Peterson-Cassin of Demand Progress, a watchdog group that called the decision “a gift to corporate greed.”

“The Supreme Court is threatening safeguards that protect hundreds of millions of people from unsafe products, bad medicines, dangerous chemicals, illegal scams, and more,” Peterson-Cassin added. “By handing policy decisions usually deliberated over by experts to lower level judges, the Supreme Court has set off a seismic political shift that primarily serves only the most powerful corporate interests.”


The Supreme Court Upends the Separation of Powers

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. No vax/anti-vax.

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