Friends and readers,
My last blog was on how the people of Flint, Michigan came to be sent poisoned water, for which they are overcharged, and how Nestle's at the same time can pump hundreds of gallons a water a day for free and send it out of the state or sell it to the poor people of Flint, Michigan so they can cook and wash themselves.
But there was a problem with my blog: I didn't go back far enough, didn't go over some more fundamental causes: it's step by step such things come about until we have a large number of state legislatures filled with representatives of the radical right. It's a process. Here I epitomize this with Flint Michigan, Governor Synder, Antonin Scalia, and the Koch brothers.
So this blog has three parts: the first on Synder's latest move. Each of these moves destroys democracy and good gov't for people; the second on Scalia's decisions; the third a link to Bill McKibben's review of Jane Mayer's book exposing the Koch brothers and others new attempt to rebrand themselves, use places they are philanthropic in to make their deeply harmful policies and lobby and funding efforts look more mixed..
1) Governor Snyder not content with replacing democratically elected local boards to do public work with appointed officials (ones he appoints, accountable to no one but him and their friends and funders), is now going to get rid of the rules for civil servants to work by: this is dubbed
Governor Synder resumes his war on workers
He is simply throwing out over a hundred years of progress and decent government by abrogating the rules for hiring someone for a gov't job. No more uniform application form. No more uniform criteria. And if you hired, no more uniform steps by which you can be promoted and then gain a measure of security for work performed well and seen to be so by a group of people over a period of time. A uncontrolled patronage system.
Gone are objective Civil Service examinations; instead, as of July, hiring for state jobs will be based on résumés and the impressions they leave on administrators perusing them. Gone, too, is seniority as a bulwark for job protection; administrators will now be able to do layoffs based on subjective evaluations of a worker’s job performance.
A Reagan appointee
2) Behind this are a long series of deeply anti-democratic decisions which Scalia has consistently voted for. We are told he was an "originalist" with the implication he voted his conscience. If you look at his record, what you see is he was an originist when the result would be for the wealthy, powerful, to restrict individual rights. to make religion more powerful. He is on record as being against having senators elected. I remember when he and his majority refused to have the Florda vote recounted: by doing so they made Bush president. It was Bush who pushed the US into war in Iraq, and it's suggested by some it was Bush who ignored signals that a terrorist attack was about to happen.
When a man spends his life making decisions that are mostly deeply harmful to millions of people, when he does bad acts, is he not a bad man?
If you want to see his record, you can on various places on the Net: this page brings it all together:
On the issues
A few: the worst was Citizens united where he led the court in saying that money = free speech; he and his majority gutted the civil rights act which increased voting for minority people enormously and we are now seeing as much barriers set up as can be in some states against poor and elderly and minority people (who often don't have picture IDs) voting. On a different plane was the one on Hobby Lobby where bigotry (where a company can disobey a law if the people in it have a religious objection to how the law works out for their employees) is now religious liberty.
I've noticed that those who joined in on the orgy of praise, the political funeral (since the Kennedy assassination the US puts on large funerals which are political in meaning) after presenting the man as having integrity and acting out of conscience, intelligence (brilliance is the word) and changing people's ways of regarding the constitution (it's said) the go about to find the rare decision on the side of individual liberty or rights, or public need (gov't by the people for the people). Or they go on about how Justice Ginsburg and he were these great friends, and we see photos of her looking ever so friendly at him.
What they don't say is the nature of his life -- its luxuries -- how he spent his time shows he was continually rewarded by the 1%. How did he die? Mark Berman of in The Washington Post, on Feb 19, 2005, p 2A, reported that Scalia was staying at at Texas resort in a 1100 square foot $700 a night room, overlooking a lake.There to hunt (kill) animals. He was not paying for this; the place was billed as the home of John B. Poindexter, a fabulously wealthy Texas. He and 25 other friends were staying there together for free.
The supreme court allows its justices to accept payments, reimbursements, gifts as long as they don't have a case in the court at the time. They tell the number of trips, but not the money they take in (in effect). Scalia was the most prolific traveler in the supreme court since 2011. It's in this style of life that he received his rewards. Also the prestige, the super-respect he was given, the enjoyment he got out of writing scathing decisions when he lost or just to deride a justice he despised (Sandra O'Connor).
See what some Georgetown faculty and students have to say:
He bullied lawyers, trafficked in personal humiliation of advocates, and openly sided with the party of intolerance in the ‘culture wars’ he often invoked.
The kinds of typical decisions he made are represented here: they allow for people like Snyder behaving the way he does which lead to poisoned water, privatizing of schools, refusing to improve public transportation, gerrymandering elections, a military oligarchy.
Protect private property from government regulations. (Jan 2011)
- Showy profundities on gay marriage are profoundly incoherent. (Jun 2015)
- Everyone in history, until 15 years ago, understood marriage. (Jun 2015)
- Fear the judicial imposition of homosexual marriage. (Nov 2010)
- Coloradans entitled to be hostile toward homosexual conduct. (Aug 2005)
- Opposed banning homosexual sodomy laws. (Aug 2004)
- Don't recognize GLBT as a constitutionally-protected class. (Dec 2003)
- Opposing homosexuality not as reprehensible as racial bias. (Dec 2003)
- Flag-burning is anathema, but protected as free speech. (Oct 2002)
- Limit employer liability for sexual harassment by employees. (Jun 1998)
- Employee must prove negligence to sue city for harassment. (Jun 1998)
- Legal sodomy leads to legal incest, adultery, & bestiality. (Jun 2003)
- 1st Amendment protects church's anti-gay funeral pickets. (Mar 2011)
- Sociological analysis insufficient to prove gender bias. (Jun 2011)
- State laws should not protect gay rights. (May 1996)
- Hate crimes must be separate crimes, not just for sentencing. (Jun 2000)
- Miranda rights can be overruled by Congress. (Jun 2000)
- Boy Scouts may exclude gay scoutmasters. (Jun 2000)
- Government is not responsible for abuses in private prisons. (Jul 2009)
- Scientific testing requires live testimony in criminal cases. (Jun 2011)
- International Court not grounds for stay of execution. (Jul 2011)
- Fleeing the police is reasonable grounds for a search. (Jan 2000)
- Shorten time between sentencing and executions. (Apr 2000)
- OK to lengthen prison sentences retroactively. (Mar 2000)
- Life-sentence alternative doesn't affect death sentence. (Jun 2000)
- Rape victims cannot sue their alleged attackers. (May 2000)
- No judicial limit on detaining illegal immigrants. (Jun 2001)
- Automatic deportation for aliens convicted of crimes. (Jun 2001)
- INS may hold suspects for deportation, but habeas applies. (Apr 2003)
- AZ may revoke licenses for hiring unauthorized aliens. (May 2011)
3) Bill McKibben's review of Jane Mayer's Dark Money: The Hidden History of Billionaires Behind the Radical Right.
A laughing Charles Koch
Here it's worth describing and quoting from Mayer's essay in The New Yorker for January 25, 2016: "New Koch" (36ff): She opens with a story of how when one of these fierce anti-workers Republican governors was phoned by someone pretending to be Koch, the man often so arrogant, hard, mean, caustic, was embarrassingly sycophantic. She quotes Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute (reactionary think-tank) who has long been close with the Koch brothers and gotten money from and supported organizations like theirs: he tells his audience that for "Americans almost universally believed that fairness matters," and then goes on to say "I know it makes you sick to think of that word fairness." (This is the kind of talk that Romney was taped by a waiter saying and cost him the election.) They are nauseated by the very concept of fairness.
First Governor Synder made it possible to put incompetant corrupt people into significant jobs and thus destroy gov't agencies. It's Scalia who made billionaire contributions undisclosed possible to put such people in office. Among the most powerful and active of these have been the Koch brothers.