Batting the Hornet's Nest
By Richard Girard
"For as the interposition of a rivulet, however small, will occasion the line of the phalanx to fluctuate, so any trifling disagreement will be the cause of seditions; but they will not so soon flow from anything else as from the disagreement between virtue and vice, and next to that between poverty and riches."
Aristotle (384--322 B.C.), Greek philosopher. Politics, book 5, chapter 3, section 1303b (c. 343 B.C.).
"The ordinary man is an anarchist. He wants to do as he likes. He may want his neighbour to be governed, but he himself doesn't want to be governed. He is mortally afraid of government officials and policemen."
George Bernard Shaw (1856--1950), Anglo-Irish playwright, critic. Speech, 11 April 1933, New York City.
Thank God for Alan Grayson!
I was beginning to think that the Democratic Party had lost all of its vital force, as well as its instinct for survival. I was afraid that it was suffering a terminal case of what I call "Sam Rayburn Disease," where "Go along to get along," had become the sole motivating force for the Democrats. I was deathly afraid that Ted Kennedy was the final dying ember of the party of the New Deal, the Great Society, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and all of the other programs that had lifted our nation up from the plutocratic robber barons of the Twenties--whose machinations and excesses were at the heart of the Great Depression--to our first brief moments as a true representative democracy.
Nations need gadflies and iconoclasts as surely as you and I need exercise and mental challenges to stay healthy. We need them in our government, our media, and our lives in general. To quote the late, great Frank Zappa, "Progress is impossible without deviation from the norm."
We desperately need people who have the courage to shine the light into the darkest corners of our nation, while holding up a mirror to ourselves: so that we may recognize ourselves as we are, and not as the image of some self-deluded prodigy. Anyone who tries to tell you that to criticize our nation is wrong, that it does not need shaking up, and changed to fit evolving circumstances, is attempting to mislead or placate you. True patriots do not love their nation for what it is, but for what it potentially can be.
The free market aficionados who say that they do not need regulation of the financial system or their actions by state or Federal government, remind me of the bandidos in Treasure of the Sierra Madre who tell Humphrey Bogart "Badges. We don't need no stinking badges," then kill him.
Unfortunately, right now we have a whole bunch of bandidos in the Government of the United States, including a majority sitting as members of our Supreme Court.
The attempt by Senator Leahy of Vermont to remove the anti-trust exemption from the insurance companies is a good start. Cartels and trusts such as those the insurance companies enjoy are at the heart of monopolistic practices, including price fixing and collusion.
I think we should further attack corporate power, especially regarding campaign finance laws.
The Supreme Court is going to decide on several cases involving campaign finance law, including the McCain-Feingold Act which limits in-kind spending (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission). With a strong pro-business majority, we can be certain that the Roberts Court will strike down as much of that law as it thinks it can get away with.
I believe that Congress should use its power under Article III, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the Constitution and remove the Supreme Court's authority to look at the constitutionality of campaign finance reform laws, specifically with regards to artificial persons, as applied to the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. I would like to suggest to Congressman Grayson that he take the lead by introducing such a bill in the House, with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont introducing an identical bill in the Senate.
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