This week: Political scat both sides of the pond, US Judges and Australian politicians

The US media is in a frenzy because Supreme Court judge Anthony Kennedy just announced he was retiring this month, at age 81. That means the President and Congress get to choose someone to take the empty seat of the court’s nine.

Thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan chose Kennedy to be a Supreme Court judge who would be generally conservative, and particularly friendly to big business, which matters more to the rich and powerfuls of America than abortion or free speech, or any of those social issues that the court occasionally decides. Kennedy turned out to be in favour of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy and everyone’s right to marry whomever they choose.

Donald Trump liked this judge for his usual reasons, money. Kennedy’s son Justin Kennedy was Deutsche Bank’s global head of real estate capital markets for 10 years, and according to The New York Times, Deutsche  Bank became “Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history”. That didn’t stop Trump suing the bank to avoid paying back a $640 million loan — that’s just how the guy does business.

The important thing about Kennedy’s retirement is the timing. By leaving now, he allows Trump and the Republicans to install a new judge before this November’s elections, when Democrats might win just enough Senate seats to block the kind of “strict constructionist” judge which Trump is set to nominate.

Another media meme going wild amongst the American commentariat these days is that there could be a second Civil War a’coming, or it’s already happening.

There are at least 20 names on Trump’s list, but all of them belong to this “constructionist” school. Supposedly, this means they believe the court must follow the literal meaning of the US Constitution — but the meanings of many clauses in the 1776 Constitution are open to wildly different interpretations.

The current court, for instance, ruled that no laws can restrict how much money a corporation can spend promoting a political cause during an election because spending money is free speech and corporations have a right to free speech as people do because corporations are people.

What “constructionist” really means is “conservative”, and Trump will pick whatever kind of conservative he needs for re-election in 2020.

For example, if he needs to jazz up the Christian right and the “demolish the state” voters, he could pick Catholic conservative judge Amy Barrett who says her Catholic values trump the Constitution’s, so abortion should be illegal, and that going back to what the Founding Fathers meant could oblige her to support the “dismantling of the administrative state, the invalidation of paper money, and the reversal of Brown v. Board of Education” which means allowing schools to discriminate on the basis of race.

If he wants to juice up his anti-Clinton voters, he might pick conservative frat-boy Brett Kavanaugh who wasted millions of taxpayers’ money trying to prove in court that Bill and Hillary did some shady real estate deal on a property called Whitewater, back when Bill was Prez. The Clintons were mere fumbling amateurs as property developers, but that’s a business the Supreme Court might have to get very savvy about if the President himself gets indicted for extreme shadiness, which he might.

In many ways, this Supreme Court nomination and confirmation circus is more Trumpian distraction to allow the Great Dicktator to inflate himself even more and his backers and back-slappers to turn America back not just to the 1950s, but to the good ol’ 1850s, when slaves slaved, women wept, and the masses were tired, poor huddled and yearning to breathe. And that’s another media meme going wild amongst the American commentariat these days — that there could be a second Civil War a’coming, or it’s already happening.

…  and Shortening the odds in Canberra

Meanwhile, last week in Canberra the Coalition and Labor colluded to pass two appalling laws that are basically designed to criminalise things such as demonstrating in public places (streets, for example), chaining yourself to trees, or publishing things that might affect Australia’s “political, military or economic relations with another country”, like the things I just wrote about in America above?

Authoritarian acts in Canberra were, outrageously, not the big news of the week

These laws aim to unravel protestors like the Knitting Nannas — women who travel around Coal Seam Gas sites and coal mines, knitting gates shut with woolly locks and tying bulldozers up in stitches. Many of these brave crusaders for pockets before profits have been fined $500 for blocking mining trucks and such over the past decade, but these new laws could carry fines of more than $10,000.

‘Don’t worry your little heads about all this’, the Libs/Nats and ALP pollies say, ‘these new laws will only be enforced if the Minister of Dissent-Crushing personally gives the cops the nod’. Feeling safe now?

Authoritarian acts in Canberra were, outrageously, not the big news of the week. What made PM Malcolm Turnbull and the media go off like Aspros in Coke was Labor leader Bill Shorten declaring that his party would, if elected, hike the corporate tax rate for businesses grossing $10 to $50 million a year back to the level it was before Turnbull & Co. slashed them as an early election present.

The problem for Bill was that he hadn’t yet convinced the rest of the Labor team that this tax-raising of a cut-tax was going to win them lots of votes, so he had to eat crow and re-cut that tax.

Now Bill’s back-flip has blossomed into a new meme: if Labor loses the two seats it ought to win at the Super Saturday by election on July 28, Shorten will be blamed while Anthony Albanese already has the party-room numbers to take over as Labor leader, ready for a general election late in the year.

In the crazy world of ALP factions, Shorten is from the Victorian Right while Albanese is NSW Left, though the slightly charismatic Anthony plays more nicely with businesspeople than charisma-free Bill does.

As Lily Tomlin says, “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”

Photo via www.achievement.org: U.S. Supreme Court Justices, from left, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan await the start of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on February 12, 2013.

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Newsletter Signup