Friday, January 22, 2010

Citizens United v FEC SCOTUS Ruling, initial reaction

v 1 6:38 AM 1/22/2010

Evening of Thursday, January 21, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow gave surprisingly passionate, sincere-sounding denunciations of the Supreme Court of the US ruling which loosened restrictions on the use of money for political purposes by groups of persons. Olbermann's speech was admirably eloquent.

So after hearing their speeches, I resolved to look into the matter; this is my first reaction, given after about seven hours of study.

Keep in mind that the case in question was considered by the justices for an entire year, during which they employed many assistants and ordered the contesting parties to explain this and that to them so as to help them to understand the matter.

The majority of the media articles I found on the internet, did a poor job of describing the Supreme Court decision regarding Citizens United vs the FEC. I had to spend hours sifting through many different articles simply to get to the point where I could understand the basic facts of the case in terms of: what the law used to be before the supreme court ruling, and what the law is now. This should not be the case. It should be easy for me to discover what the law was before the ruling and what the law is after the ruling, when I read the articles about this case. Obviously this before and after perspective is fundamental.

Just goes to show the lack of ability and or skill in the media, which, disconcertingly, is more able and skilled at reporting court decisions than the average person is.

I used to be a supporter of the Mccain-Feingold campaign finance laws overturned to some extent by the Supreme Court Ruling. Then my enthusiasm diminished when I realized that it gave advantages to rich individuals who finance their own campaigns, and produced relative disadvantage for persons who are not rich, acting as individuals and groups. I began to see how by suppressing persons from expressing themselves, it increased the power of the media.

The Supreme Court ruling, should be considered in terms of whether it levels the playing field or does the opposite, when it comes to the rights of various types of groups and individuals.

Prior to this Supreme Court ruling, the law favored certain types of spending over others. It favored issue oriented ads that ignored the candidates; it disfavored ads that focused on the candidates. It favored spending by rich individuals on their own campaigns; it disfavored spending by individuals and groups of individuals on other people's campaigns. It favored spending that is uncoordinated with a candidate, and disfavored spending coordinated with a candidate or controlled by the candidate as opposed to the activist group. It favored spending based on voluntary contributions and disfavored spending of the type wherein the dues required by the organization, or the money voluntarily donated to the organization, are spent based on decisions made by the organization's leaders, or based upon pre-agreed upon rules.

The recent SCOTUS ruling does not do away with all these meddlings, however, prior to the Supreme Court ruling, the government in which the Supreme Court is a key player, was meddling more that it will now at least for a while, in terms of favoring certain types of fund raising and spending while disfavoring other types of fund raising and spending.

This kind of meddling that has been reduced could put the various sectors of American society at a disadvantage compared to foreigners; meaning the reduction in meddling could have positive effects.

People think in terms of, not allowing the owners of American private sector organizations that produce goods and services to get an advantage over the employees of such organizations. In this they ignore the possibility that meddling in terms of favoring what kind of fund-raising and spending the various American groups engage in, could lead to a disadvantage for all American interest groups, compared to advantages enjoyed by foreigners who, often on the sly, meddle in American affairs unencumbered by the restrictions placed on Americans by American law.

The very complexity of the American campaign finance laws in and of itself, tends to inhibit the effectiveness of American fund raising and spending. This inhibition, could impair the quality of American life due to factors such as inefficiencies in educating the public re important matters.

It could be, if Americans were to put time and energy into being thoughtful and well informed re fund raising and spending, and if the legislative judicial or executive branch were to take steps to prevent foreign owners of American subsidiaries from taking advantage of the new court-granted freedoms, that the new freedoms granted by the Supreme Court could lead to an improvement in the American position in the world.

People tend towards an idealistic unrealistic view, that America should be "nice" and un-bigoted, whilst they live in a fantasy world in which America is the only nation in the world.

Actually, there are other nations in the world, who can take advantage of America if the rights granted by America to foreigners, are not reciprocated in terms of foreigners granting rights to America.

Even with reciprocation, foreigners can gain advantage over Americans due to factors such as: the economic decline of America, the economic rise of foreign powers, the multi-ethnic multi-racial makeup of America, the mono-ethnic nature of foreign powers, the discipline produced by the hardships experienced historically by foreigners, and the indiscipline produced amongst Americans due to the good fortune experienced historically by Americans.

Ones could say that: it is not the court's business to produce improvements in society through unconstitutional legislation; rather, it is the court's business to give society the opportunity to succeed by refraining from unconsitutional meddlings that impair the performance of society.

The legislative branch's power to change the constitution is relatively weak due to concerns re the balance of power amongst the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government; yet, still, the legislative branch has the power to change the constitution.

Well intentioned divergence from the rule of law, rulings that are intentionally unconstitutional, could lead to a lawlessness that is counterproductive.

One could say that regardless of whether Americans take advantage of the liberties granted to them by the Court, liberties which give them the opportunity to improve the national performance, the Court's job is not to insure that the nation perform extremely well but rather to give the nation the opportunity to perform well as a result of the Court's wise interpretation of the constitution.

One reason it might be wise for a court to refrain from well intentioned, domineering, divergence from the constitution with regards to how individuals and groups spend their money in terms of political activism, is that there is some truth to the traditional American individualist perspective that not just national aggregates but also individual realities are important; meaning, it's also important which individuals in the nation have how much in terms of time and money and liberties.

A nation with an aggregate GDP of $50,000 per capita could be worse off than a nation with an aggregate GDP of $30,000 per capita if the $30,000 per capita nation was less disorderly in terms of who had how much of what. Conceivably, an 'activist', domineering court could produce internal disorder in terms of who in the nation had how much of what.

Although America has historically displayed a tradition of national pride, some would call it excessive national pride, it has also traditionally manifested an internationalist bent. Christianity, which has been the dominant religion in America for centuries, sees foreigners as persons to be prayed for, persons to be helped to become persons who can enter heaven, regardless of their nationality or race.

The constitution's excessively vague and tolerant definition of treason manifests this basic friendliness to the world. The Declaration of Independence, which was produced by those who produced the constitution and thus reveals something re their minds, speaks of foreign mankind as being 'in peace friends, but in war enemies'.

Conceivably, a domineering activist court might succeed in improving American performance, but this at the expense of excessive disorder at home and excessive misfortune abroad.

It is childish to get absorbed in campaign finance and forget about the pollution of the political process that remains unaffected regardless of what the Supreme Court decided in Citizens United v FEC.

Both last week before the ruling and in the future, the political process remains corrupted or negatively effected by: revolving doors featuring ex-govt employees hired by the private sector; murder; bribes; corrupted voting machines; lying polls; politicians who do a '180' after they get into office; citizens fearing being fired; citizens desiring to be paid well; citizens wanting to be from a town which is liked by employers because of the way it votes; citizens being ignorant and thoughtless; citizens being obsessed with their families and sacrificing their nation-state to their family.

Conceivably the SCOTUS ruling could give America the tools it needs to deal with these pollutions of its government process, pollutions which existed before the SCOTUS ruling and will continue to exist in the future after the SCOTUS ruling.

@2010 David Virgil Hobbs

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