Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SCOTUS Judges Throw Gasoline on Fire



Shameful Supreme Court Decision
Lousy $$$ Politics Become Worse


It’s a good thing that Orangutans aren’t known for being rich or this SCOTUS night decide they’re people, too.


I can’t believe there are many Americans who believe that we don’t spend enough on our federal elections and that more money—as an expression of our First Amendment rights—is the answer to better, more effective, and more responsible public policy. 

There is so little official integrity left among Washington politicians, now, as Senators and Members get in line, beg, and roll over to get as much cash as they can from the moneyed interests, while prostituting their Constitutional roles as the people’s representatives.


This conservative-dominated United States Supreme Court first decided, in Citizens United versus the FEC, that corporations were people, which opened up vast amounts of poisonous political spending, and now it’s decided, in McCutcheon versus the FEC, that there is no cash limit to what people can give to federal office seekers. 



Yes, I can see someone arguing that it is an extension of free speech but when does the highest court in the land look beyond that index and judge the implications of its actions? 

Who benefits from more money going to politicians, only the folks who have the financial resources available to buy the majority of congressional votes which support their own agendas?

Don’t you dare believe any pol who claims that his/her contributors don’t influence their voting prerogatives. 

It’s a good thing that Orangutans aren’t known for being rich or this SCOTUS night decide they’re people, too. 

Like it or not, agree or not—even with plenty of examples of wealthy Democrats and Democrat money rolling into races—this is just another elevation of the GOP’s advantages and priorities at the expense of those who don’t agree with the Republican credo (or is “buy into” the right verb phrase?). 

I guarantee that in coming days most of the post decision commentary will split along party lines with the R’s cheering the ruling and the D’s damning it. 

Karl Rove may be having a 24 hour—not four hour—Cialis moment!! Someone watch him close. 

The SCOTUS decision came two days after I wrote the next segment. The Court’s result just ratified some of the pregnant fears I penned earlier this week. 

It may not be the most articulate discussion of what worries me, but I think most people will get the point.

Warfare, Will Those Shut Out Retaliate

I’ve have a recurring nightmare. It’s about the possibility of a future domestic conflagration and sustained violence between US “haves” and “have not’s,” driven by increasing public extremism and the widening gap between those Americans who say they are happy/content and the remaining discontented Americans. 

I started thinking about this disparity as I looked back on my own somewhat vanilla ice cream, in comparison, political machinations, mainly the non-lethal verbal/rhetorical combat in which I’ve engaged for about 30 years working for and—more recently--writing about Fannie Mae issues. 

No stranger to conflict and often an active participant, I’ve won many small battles, lost some, and saw Fannie Mae (along with Freddie) expropriated under questionable circumstances. 

Nonetheless, the people I encountered on the “other side” of the issue—for the most part—were/are professionals who have their own perspective and grounded rationale for their positions (or just were "hired guns.")  

While I always wanted to prevail, I never wanted my opponents to suffer or die (maybe experience just a few months of ailments relived by some regular Pepto Bismol). 

As heated as the GSE debate sometimes has gotten, at the figurative end of the day, everyone goes home to their family and real world reality and gets on with their lives.

Major Damage, But No Intentional Fatalities 


Although careers intentionally were ruined and lives disrupted, there have been no fire bombings, car bombs, familial kidnappings, or associated wanton violence with the assault on Fannie and Freddie.
But Elsewhere in Easy View..

What troubles me, though, is the never ending mayhem, domestic and international, where antagonists don’t just walk away. Hostilities are religious, geographic, ideological, or ethnic. They feature blood lust and often culminate in ferocious violence where hundreds if not thousands are killed. 

Millions in our country daily  watch and read about them; they present/handy for us in the United States--because of 24-7 news and today’s instant communications--and might appear to many downtrodden US residents as a model to express their frustrations.


“Can It happen Here in Our Nation?”


My answer is, “Yes.” 

In some of the relentless extreme positions which I see US elected officials engage—at all levels—I wonder as they unknowingly plant seeds of injustice and hate  or spread manure on what has been long sown in our country, risking a true United States version of racial, economic, and class fratricidal warfare. 

At what point do the poor and mainly minorities get tired of constantly getting the short end?

After what calamitous and brutish public action, do they strike back, because they have been embarrassed too often, ignored, ground down, marginalized, abused, overly jailed, disenfranchised, lied to, dealt out America’s bounty, and ostracized by the establishment? 

Do only “Crazies” respond to “news stories?” 

Read some of the readers’ commentary on any news story which appears on the Internet version of a publication or network news and see how quickly they become instant “us versus them” with epithets, insults and put downs hurled by people who take advantage of the Net’s anonymity to spew hate filled messages.

We have enough domestic firepower available and accessible to fuel those kinds of battles and the masked hatred I see buried in congressional maneuvers and votes against the interests of the least among us, poor, Black and Brown i.e. voter registration, immigration, food stamps, incarceration, and on and on seems like putting a lighted match near a fuse.

At what point do some people just strike out at the tyrannical majority, who may enjoy that label in power but not numbers, and say “enough is enough.” 

Don’t repeat, "It can’t happen here, it can’t happen here, it can’t happen here. " 


Some might argue that things are shaping up to indeed make it happen here. 

Remember, it’s happened here before, with the urban violence in the 1970’s and 1980’s. 

But when you have an upside down economy which continues to favor the very powerful and wealthy (the “1%”), how much state gerrymandering, displays by an ineffective Congress substituting the priorities of their campaign supporters over common sense and the public’s will, and similar transgressions will it take before downtrodden people—of all colors and stripes-- explode taking out their frustration on everyone and every institution around them which they associate with their despair? 

Please wake up Congress and America. 

Take away from this screed what you will, but, tying it down a bit to what this blog generally discusses, when I see Congress—with no inhibitions—rushing to give the nation’s primary and secondary mortgage markets to a group of large banks which seldom go a week without seeing their names linked to some US or global financial manipulation, I wonder where the common sense and good judgment of so many went deaf, cold, and then died. 

Did I mention a SCOTUS—largely unchanged from today’s members—violated the GOP’s cherished states’ rights principle and decided the Florida election for George W. Bush denying the presidential election he won in 2000?

(The following paragraph was revised slightly after yesterday's SCOTUS decision.) 

How about when they opined that corporations are people. Or this week decided that there is no cap on what folks can spend to pursue their personal priorities, I see nothing in those which are good for anybody but the appropriately named “1%.” 

We have November elections which now will feature even more cash thrown to those determined to fence off their perceived "lesser" from enjoying what the “I always vote GOP” citizens enjoy and take for granted.

If many of the states continue on their path, fewer and fewer will be allowed to reach the polls, what about that aspect of America’s First Amendment Rights? 

We need to do a hell of a lot better, America.


Maloni, 4-3-2014 

(I am anticipating a lot of negative feedback from those used to reading only mortgage issues and politics on this blog. The virtue of blogging is that—every now and then—I get to discuss something truly important and that’s what’s above.)


Sam said...

Good write-up, Bill. I agree with you...have seen this kind of thing happen.


Bill Maloni said...

Thanks, Sam.

The scary thing is we have no idea just what will act as a trigger, until it happens and then the response will be overwhelming firepower, which just may not be that overwhelming.

Duncan MacLeod said...

Can it happen here?
If sports fans can riot after a stupid game.

Bill Maloni said...

DM--I agree, but that's likely episodic and gets handled that night or over the next day or two, when the booze wears off.

I am thinking bailout a searing cross cultural event which then triggers multiple scenes of sustained rioting and killings, where all sorts of grievances are cited as justification.

Rod said...


Would you agree that unions should be limited in how much time and money they are allowed to spend in electing officials vs. improving workers conditions? Or giving members of unions the right to have their dues opted out of the political activities of the union?

I do not see liberals so eager to run out and support limiting their funding sources but only those of the opponents. If you do not support the limitations on unions your argument is crass politics trying to defeat one political party and not so much caring for america or any noble cause.

I laugh when you say this is a republican driven item since the D's have had a huge funding advantage in the past two presidential elections. They might be publicly railing against this for political points but they benefit from the money rolling in just as much.

Our founding fathers protected us against people who limit our rights, such as you propose, in the name of "fairness". I agree there is too much money but once the government bans on what the citizens can do to elect someone then all you have left are the wealthy individuals fighting over marketing to the masses to get out the message or, even worse, people are dependent on the whims and biases of the media to pick the winners and losers.

As you see around the world where dictators control all the money and access, the people will rise and rebel if the policies are not correct. If people can be bought off through a deluge of money than they are dumb enough to get the bad politicians they deserve. The winner is not always the person with the most dough.

Bill Maloni said...

Rod--Thanks for reading and writing.

Yes, I do think that trade unions should be limited in their spending. They, too, were unleashed in the Citizens United decision.

I also believe that there should be damage/ liability caps on financial damage awards (sorry Trial Lawyers). The latter would/should cut down on those medical costs associated with astronomically night medical insurance fees.

Some of the SCOTUS commentary when discussing this decision are ludicrous(yes, you can hear their voices but not see their pictures).

I don't have the FEC numbers handy, but I will bet--confidentially--that most of the major donors, and many more of them, gave to the GOP.

I am sure that the greatest number, smaller donors, gave to others, mostly Democrats.

You agree with me that there is "too much money in politics." What's your answer to removing some of that money?

Beyond Congress passing a new law, the two court decisions I mentioned--involving, broadly, who can give and how much they can give in federal elections-- set some broad parameters.

But, I would welcome an honest conservative (sorry, I sense that in you) suggestion.

Anonymous said...

This was a great post. I believe a lot of people feel this way. The level of shamelessness in government has never been higher. The GSE stockholder situation should be a case study in how co-ordinate d the corruption in government is. When you know the truth of a situation down to the most mundane detail because of due diligence or other reason, that is the real eye opener. It truly is scary how bad it is.

Bill Maloni said...

Anon--Other than trying to shine a light on this stuff and shouting for others to do the same, I don't have any magic elixirs.

In the F&F case, I am hoping the media--who can reach every Senator on Banking--would query them on what they believe they are doing and why it is dramatically different from what we have?

Do Senators really believe the unbelievably challenging and obstacle filled process they are creating, is worth the effort, especially when consumer costs likely will be much higher and the resulting system won't be as efficient?

Its been in various media but the Senate this past week approved an $85 Billion package of short term tax benefits and paid for them with future federal borrowings, meaning with deficit spending.

How many Senators will own up to that folly or just claim that it will "boost jobs?"