Monday, January 25, 2010

Dan Rodricks Needs a Time Out

Brian Griffiths usually has the duty of piercing the inflated progressive pieties slapped together in a Dan Rodricks’s column. Still, I felt compelled to weigh in on Dano’s latest tantrum.

The Supreme Court ruling for freedom of speech in Citizens United v. FEC has injured the frail progressive sensibilities of the constantly outraged Rodricks.

The Supreme Court -- the one George W. Bush gave us after the Supreme Court gave us George W. Bush -- says anything goes: Big corporations, already in control of most of the wealth and power in the United States, can now spend as much money as they like to support their favorite political candidates.

They can sway elections of senators and representatives and presidents with their millions and billions; they can destroy candidates who don't vote their way…

But now, the Supreme Court's supposedly nonactivist, conservative majority has returned this influence to corporations, saying the power of money -- of oodles and oodles of money -- is a form of protected speech. Guys on Wall Street can start wearing spats again.

No one with a minimal understanding of human nature and money should be happy about this. That includes conservatives.But, of course, conservatives have been crowing because they know this decision will have the same result of Bush v. Gore -- the election of a Republican.

Make that, the potential elections of many Republicans, and as soon as the midterm elections of 2010.

Rodricks high chair spoon-banging aside, the Supreme Court rebuking the legislative branch for failing to follow the Constitution—specifically the first amendment—is not judicial activism, rather the court fulfilling it's first duty.

Also, note how Rodricks conveniently leaves out the fact that those notoriously right wing labor unions are also free to give as much as they want. Or is Dano going to throw a fit over the fact that SEIU has the ability to spend more than the $60 million is spent to elect Barack Obama in 2008? Not to mention all the corporate swells, who constituted the majority of Barack Obama’s campaign contributors.

However, let us once again dispel the myth that corporations are inherently “Republican” or “right wing.” This progressive nostrum has an especially long half life, mostly due to the fact that progressives have done a good job at masking their own historical love affair with big business.

Let’s remember that the spat-wearing corporate fat cats Dano whines about: the insurance industry, Big Pharma, General Electric, Goldman Sachs are the same mustache twirling robber barons lining up behind Obamacare, and cap and trade.


Brian Griffiths said...

The irony of course is that they have asked me to be a guest on his show multiple times now...

Bruce said...

Would you agree that corporations - creatures of the state - have constitutional rights? I ask because if something has no right to exist - which corporations have only by statute - how can they be said to have constitutional rights?

It's as crazy as saying that a dog has a free-speech right not to be muzzled; we don't often eat dogs in this culture but dogs are not persons and we kill them without due process of law routinely. They have no right to life; wild dogs certainly have no right to bark at the moon except at the state's sufferance. But dogs at least are not creatures of the state. Why corporations have a constitutional right of free speech when they have merely a privilege, not a right, to exist by whim of statute is beyond me.

streiff said...

following your logic people shouldn't have the right to vote since 1973 when they started being born only by sufferance of the state.

Seriously, you're a lawyer. Read the opinion. It is actually quite readable and I think you'd find it persuasive and then you could engage on the issue and not toss kerosene on some unfortunate strawman.

Mark Newgent said...

Thanks for eliding my argument. I'll take that as confirmation you extend the same critique to labor unions, which similarly exist only by statute.

streiff said...

presumably Bruce also objects to MoveOn, OfA, and all the non-profit and astroturf entities that spring up every four years to support Democrats.

As you noted, all the decision does it get us back to first principles: free speech is not guaranteed with an asterisk or footnote. Surprisingly, Kennedy actually makes a lucid argument in this case.

Greg Kline said...

If dogs formed a corporation they would be covered by this decision.