Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Challenging the System — Corporate Nation, Two Party Front for the Oligarchy, 1%, whatever term you use — is always an uphill effort, and however you go about it, you will encounter resistance — from Insiders, those who represent them, and from those who basically follow their lead, including much of the media. The Occupy / 99% movement is the perfect example of that familiar challenge / resistance pattern. Attempts to destroy a “movement” follow predictable steps, including discounting, co-opting, and pretending it never / no longer exists. It often makes use of bits and pieces of the System, like law enforcement. And, like handy government agencies and, of course, the powers of our “checks and balances” executive, legislative and judicial systems.
First example, Kevin Gosztola via Firedoglake:
Obama Administration Moves to Have Supreme Court Throw Out FISA Amendments Act Challenge
The Obama Administration wants the Supreme Court to dismiss an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenge to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, an act passed in 2008 that ACLU attorneys contend ‘allows dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications with none of the safeguards that the Constitution requires.’ It filed a petition to the Court asking for an appeals court ruling that permits the ACLU to challenge the law to be overturned.
Of course, administrations do this kind of thing all the time, Democratic and Republican. But that simply makes it more troubling. Simple truth: people, and organizations, usually don’t willingly give up power. For DC Electeds, the arguments are usually spun with threads of “homeland security” and “protecting this great nation of ours” and similar phrases that get cheers at campaign rallies, and other times and places when thinking is discouraged. Actually, that takes in much of our “public discourse,” doesn’t it? Back to the FISA challenging and blocking:
… the ACLU concluded in its report on how the Obama Administration had fared on civil liberties during its first 18 months:
…[C]andidate Obama made clear that his objection was not to warrantless surveillance, but rather to warrantless surveillance without congressional approval. And over the last eighteen months, President Obama’s administration has defended the FISA Amendments Act in the same way that the last administration did so: by insisting that the statute is effectively immune from judicial review. …
Gosztola argues that in this election year,
… warrantless wiretapping will not be made an issue by anyone other than Ron Paul or those presidential candidates running in the election, who aren’t Obama, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney. So, the Administration has nothing to fear.
The liberals, who have the ability to make this an issue because Obama needs them to win re-election, won’t make this an issue if the renewal of the Act is brought up for a vote during the summer or fall. They are just as gutless and timid as Obama when it comes to taking political risks.
The uphill battle to challenge the existing System includes Insiders doing their best to block you, and the “blocks” aren’t limited to the executive and legislative branches. From OpEdNews:
The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the Montana Supreme Court’s decision in December upholding the state’s century-old ban on corporate political spending.
The ruling Friday (February 17) evening sets up a possible full-blown U.S. Supreme Court rematch over the 2010 Citizens United decision that allowed unlimited corporate campaign spending.
Citizens United was a five-member majority decision. What’s getting attention now is this, related to Montana’s challenge and the Supreme Court’s decision, which included a stay:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, welcomed the opportunity for the court to revisit, and potentially reverse, Citizens United. ‘Montana’s experience, and experience elsewhere since this court’s decision’ in Citizens United ‘make it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations ‘do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,’” Ginsburg wrote in a statement accompanying the stay order.
‘A petition for certiorari will give the court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway.’
Justices Ginsburg and Breyer joined Justice John Paul Stevens’s 90-page dissent in Citizens United. Justice Sonia Sotomayor did as well, but she and Justice Elena Kagan — Stevens’s successor — did not join Ginsburg’s statement.
Some are asking if the Ginsburg / Breyer statement signals a possibility that the Supremes might seriously rethink Citizens United. Others don’t think that’s likely. From Ken, at Down With Tyranny:
A Citizens United sequel? Do Justices Ruth and Steve know something about their Supreme Court thug-colleagues that we don’t?
… My takeaway? Justices Ruth and Steve are whistling in the dark. Unless, that is, they know something about one of their right-wing-loon colleagues. … Or maybe they’re just hoping that one or more of their colleagues won’t have the gall to ‘do it again.’
But I really don’t think so. Not from the confident way the court slapped the Montanans down. … And even if [the Court does take the case] … the outcome I would expect would be requiring plaintiffs who complain about the powers of the rich to pay all the court costs of their ‘foolishness.’ In the era of the Roberts Court, we know who owns access thereto.
The predictable “blocks” shouldn’t stop the critically needed “challenges,” of course. In fact, the efforts to prevent and thwart challenges are simply more indications of the need for them, as are the skewed for the benefit of the top “checks and balances” that now define the realm of the Electeds, and those they serve. Of course, we aren’t suppose to think about things like that. “Just run along, good little citizens. Watch the candidates play campaign games, cheer or boo as you wish. We really don’t care which, as long as it keeps you pre-‘occupied.’”
( Don’t Mind Rich photo via Occupy Pix)