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Nader: “The Case Against Corporate [Oh, and ALL] Speech”

February 10, 2010 1 comment

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Ralph Nader rips into the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in about the most disingenuous and outright dishonest ways possible, conveniently failing to go all the way in disclaiming what can only be fairly, and without hyperbole, called his own totalitarian stridency on campaign-finance reform.

Nader doesn’t mention in his tirade against corporate involvement in U.S. elections that he doesn’t want anyone to be able to contribute anything to political campaigns ever. That’s important context, don’t you think? Because you can’t on the one hand argue that corporate political involvement is unconstitutional, and then, on the other hand, conveniently dismiss the Constitution altogether in your defense of barring even individuals from campaign contributions. It’s clear, then, that Nader doesn’t root his opposition to corporate involvement in anything stronger than … well, his own ability to get people to believe he actual cares about the United States Constitution.

Who is this guy kidding? And why did the Wall Street Journal dignify him with space on their pages? When I’ve submitted articles for consideration to their editorial board on behalf of my congressional bosses over the years, I’m typically asked to go back and have my boss flesh out this or that argument or to proleptically address this or that potential criticism. Why didn’t the WSJ editors kindly ask Mr. Nader to reconcile his opportunistic (they could have left that word out, I guess) constitutional defense of barring corporate involvement with his unconstitutional defense of barring everyone?

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E.J. Dionne hates it when the shoe is on the other foot

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Boy, leftist totalitarians like E.J. Dionne sure do hate it when the shoe is on the other foot, don’t they?

The Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision last week giving American corporations the right to unlimited political spending was an astonishing display of judicial arrogance, overreach and unjustified activism.

Turning its back on a century of practice and decades of precedent, a narrow right-wing majority on the court decided to change the American political system by tilting it decisively in favor of corporate interests.

The right could say the same about hundreds of Supreme Court decisions — a few of which this latest decision reversed. It’s not judicial activism to return rights clearly spelled out in the Constitution to those from whom they were stripped by leftist tinkerers (both in Congress and on a truly activist court) who over the years haven’t wanted their power taken from them by those who could fund strong campaigns against them.

Besides, there are some virtues and values we must hold to, whether doing so sends our country straight to hell (or the bottom of the nation-state food chain) or not. One of them is that any and everyone who wants to and has the means should be able to contribute whatever they want to the political process, and that includes corporations, which are run by — you guessed it — people who make a lot of money that, for all we know, they might make precisely so they can influence the political process.

What matters in politics is not who has the money. As long as we enforce transparency, we’ll know who’s running the commercials. Or is Dionne suggesting people are too stupid to judge politicians for themselves? Sure, AIG could run $2 million in ads against a candidate, but couldn’t that candidate get corporate money to defend himself — or attack AIG? Fellas like Dionne act as if the only people with money are evil Republicans who seek to rule politicians in Washington for their own financial gain. But the Supreme Court decision applies to unions and corporations of all stripes. (So, again — what’s the stop these big bad corporations from fighting those Dionne is worried about? The answer: nothing, really, now that the Supreme Court has rightly declared that political activism is barred from no one — rich or poor.)

But this whining is consistent with Dionne’s world view, which is that Americans are too dumb to think for themselves and incapable of judging truth from fiction. Me, I am confident that both sides stand to gain from this Supreme Court decision, making it basically a wash, and if I’m wrong, if people are too dumb and uninformed to sift through the noise of campaigns, then they’ll get the government they deserve. And if this nation goes down in flames as a result, then at least it was free (if only in this narrow aspect) for the duration of the ride to decide on a different course.