Thursday, April 03, 2014

Yeah, kind of in a bad mood today

Because this.

Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on campaign donations, offers a novel twist in the conservative contemplation of what Nazis have to do with the way the rich are viewed in America. In January, Tom Perkins, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, worried about a progressive Kristallnacht; Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot, said, of economic populism, “If you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.” Roberts, to his credit, avoided claiming the mantle of Hitler’s victims for wealthy campaign donors. He suggests, though, that the rich are, likewise, outcasts: “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” he writes:
If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades—despite the profound offense such spectacles cause—it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.
So pick your analogy: when thinking about people who want to donate large sums of money to candidates, should we compare their position to that of the despised and defeated, like the Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, in the nineteen-seventies, or of scorned dissidents, like flag-burners, trying to get their voice heard with their lonely donations? 

And this.

The opinion was classic Roberts: professing to make a minor adjustment to the status quo, but carrying the seeds of potential destruction for core legal principles settled for decades. To some, it evoked his decision last year overturning the core of the Voting Rights Act — a ruling that also claimed to toss back to Congress an issue lawmakers have little desire to revisit.

Critics saw the chief justice’s arguments about the leaky nature of current campaign finance rules as cynical and disingenuous, effectively punching yet another gaping hole in the law by citing loopholes his court helped to create or enlarge.

“It’s like the definition of chutzpah: the guy who kills his parents and asks for mercy from the court because he’s an orphan,” said Larry Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice, which favors tighter campaign finance regulation. “Look at what the court has done since 2007 after Roberts came on board, one case after another gradually striking down the laws that are in place and then claiming that, therefore, more has to be done. It’s nonsensical.”

And this.

All of which means, in effect, that the more money flowing through the system the better. Those who, from lack of money, are muted or excluded from the process are simply losers in a fair democratic system.

And also this.

ExxonMobil has 25.2 billion barrels worth of oil and gas in its current reserves, it's going to extract and sell all of it, and isn't expecting any meddling climate regulations to get in the way.

That's the main takeaway of a report the company released this week to its investors, examining the risk that greenhouse gas emissions rules in the US and worldwide might pose to its fossil fuel assets. Exxon made headlines a couple weeks back when it promised to issue the report after facing pressure from shareholders led by Arjuna Capital, a sustainable wealth management firm.


Exxon's report suggests that its planners don't believe serious carbon limits will be on the books anytime soon, leaving the company free to burn through its reserves of oil and gas. That's a disconcerting vision to come just on the heels of Sunday's new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which predicted a nightmarish future if greenhouse gas emissions aren't slowed soon.

"The reserves are going to be able to turn into money, because they're assuming there isn't going to be a policy change," said Natural Resources Defense Council Director of Climate Programs David Hawkins. "They're definitely saying that no matter how bad it gets, the world's addiction to fossil fuels will be so overwhelming that the governments of the world will just suck it up and let people suffer."

And last, this.

It's hard out there for the 1 percent.

Okay, that's not true at all. But they think it is. If you talk to people on Wall Street, most of them—even, in my experience, the ones shopping for Lamborghinis—will tell you that they're "middle class." Their lament, the lament of the HENRY (short for "high-earner, not rich yet"), goes something like this. You try living on $350,000 a year when you have to pay taxes, the mortgage on the house in a tony zip code, the nanny who knows how to cook ethnic cuisine, the private school tuition from pre-K on, the appropriately exclusive vacation, and max out your retirement and college savings accounts. There just isn't that much cash left over each month once you've spent it all!


Bay Area Houston said...

And then there was Fort Hood. Yep. Bad day.

Gadfly said...

Exxon can now officially go shopping for compliant Congresscritters, eh?

Greg said...

Sorry about your opposition to freedom of speech giving you a headache. Maybe you can relocate to someplace where the government strictly limits the speech citizens can engage in for their own good. I hear that Havana is nice this time of year -- and your political views are on the government approved list.

PDiddie said...

And I'm married to a woman who was born in Cuba! Whose uncle was imprisoned by Fidel! (Just the opposite of Ted Cruz' father.)

What serendipity!

Maybe Shelley Adelson will build a casino in Havana in a few years, so that when my wife and I retire there, we can blow it up.

That would be so perfect.

joshuaism said...

Are Tom Perkins and the other Godwinners in the 1% ignorant of how much control they have in government? Or is it that they erroneously believe in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and think there was (still is?) a global Jewish hegemony?

PDiddie said...

You got me, josh. I certainly think the .01% have rapidly developed and advanced a persecution complex. But I don't think Sheldon Adelson would go so far as to compare Occupy to the Holocaust.