Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Who is blocking Obama's Supreme Court nomination? Just follow the money.

The Republican Senators get the press and take the heat. But the lame-stream media, according to this Daily Kos report, are too shallow in the reporting (h/t Miriam Lindmeier). The real driving force is the Koch brothers and their financial kochtopus.

The media’s telescopic gaze following the death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia last week was, true to form, pointing in exactly the wrong direction. Scalia’s death prompted a breathless flood of pundit analysis focused on whether the Republican Party is violating Senate protocol or the Constitution itself by refusing to vote on the nomination of a new Supreme Court Justice in President Obama’s final year in office. Much chatter was devoted to rehashing the deliberate obstruction this president has had to cope with. While undoubtedly true, this misses the forest for the trees. It doesn’t matter so much what Republicans’ “excuse” is—or even whether it violates the clear intent of the Constitution—it does.

What really matters is why they're doing it, and who it serves. The answer to that question leads straight to their donor base. Although it scarcely bears repeating, the Republican Senate and (to an even greater extent) the Republican House of Representatives now exists to serve the economic interests of a tiny group of very, very wealthy people, people who now stand to either gain or lose hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars spent complying with environmental, finance and labor laws and regulations, depending on who replaces Scalia. That is what this fight is all about. For the GOP and the billionaires who pull their strings, much ballyhooed rhetoric about abortion, affirmative action, union rights and voting rights are all subsidiary to this main event.

The two most prominent members of this tiny group of people are Charles and David Koch ...

The Koch brothers are widely recognized as the most important donors to the Republican Party. Their influence on the Republican Party is so smothering that many observers have recognized it to have supplanted the normal party apparatus itself, in effect, operating through its vast network of organizations as the de facto Party itself. At least two of the Supreme Court justices, the now-deceased Scalia and his go-along lackey Clarence Thomas, were fully invested in the Kochs’ hopes and dreams, attending their secretive conferences whose topics included “climate change alarmism” and “the regulatory assault on energy.” Sensing the immediacy of the crisis last week, the Kochs’ front group, “Judicial Crisis Network” took to the airwaves before Scalia’s body was even embalmed ...

“Judicial Crisis Network” is a 501(c)4 group that receives funding from the Wellspring Committee, a Koch-founded organization. Its purpose is to influence public opinion, and either reward or punish senators depending on whether they vote in the Koch Brothers’ and similar gas/oil interests. Those interests, more than anything else, are in rolling back government regulation of their oil, gas and coal companies’ activities, activities which are significantly regulated because by their very nature they threaten our lands, waters, and the air we breathe.

Another Koch-spawned “conservative advocacy group”, FreedomWorks, has echoed the same veiled warning against allowing any hearing on the President’s Supreme Court nomination, admonishing Republican Senators to obey.

You can read more about the kochtopus here, but the bottom line is this.

Confirmation fights for Supreme Court justices are a part of American history, but the complete refusal by a political party to entertain a vote on a nominee is without precedent in modern times. The actions of GOP Senate are the logical extension of their refusal, since assuming a majority, to voluntarily allow a vote on virtually any of this president’s judicial nominees. It is no accident that that the willingness of virtually every Republican senator to flout and disregard the Constitution as if it amounted to nothing but sidestepping a piece of trash on the sidewalk coincides with the total domination of the GOP by private citizens like the Kochs, who have no fealty or responsibility towards the Constitution to begin with.

The Kochs’ far-reaching tentacles have made it abundantly clear who calls the shots, issues the marching orders, and pulls the strings for the party. So when the media say “the Republicans” are deciding how and why they’ll oppose the president’s authority to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice, we should remember it’s not really the Republicans whose faces we’ve come to recognize in the media that are fighting to stop the nomination. It’s the Kochs and their ilk who have effectively taken our country hostage.

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