When public officials get themselves mired in the muck of corruption, they can always count on Sen. Ted Cruz to issue a moral judgement: If the offender is a Democrat, he pronounces the corruption inexcusably grotesque; if it's a Republican, he wails that the offender is the victim.
For example, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was recently caught (yet again) butt-deep in judicial immorality, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of freebies from a Texas real estate baron who has both a partisan and corporate interest in Thomas' court rulings. So, Cruz to the rescue! No judicial impropriety here, he squawks, for this is nothing but a diabolical plot by Democrats to "smear" poor Clarence.
But Thomas is busy smearing himself, so Dems can just take the advice of Woodrow Wilson: "Never attempt to murder a man who's committing suicide." From the start of his court tenure, Thomas has been a shameless seeker of personal gain, tucking untold sums from untold sources in the inner pockets of his judicial robes. He learned to hide his corruption in 2004, when he actually reported taking pricey gifts from a special interest, which got him widely condemned. So, he "reformed" — no, he didn't quit taking gimmes; he just quit disclosing them!
Thomas is a supreme grifter, but sadly, he's not alone. Many recent justices have fallen from the pedestal of judicial integrity, cozying up to moneyed interests. Gifts aside, we now have a hyper-partisan, right-wing Republican majority taking their judicial opinions from those same interests, turning America's unelected Third Branch of government into an autocratic, plutocratic political agency. Then they wonder why their public approval rating — and legitimacy — are in the ditch!
Since they won't reform themselves, "We the People" must do it for them. To help, go to fixthecourt.com.
GOP Death Star targets your liberty
While the powers that be constantly warn us about foreign threats to our democracy from Russian trolls, TikTok, etc., there is scant coverage of an actual assault on our people's democratic liberties by forces on our own soil.
It's coming from extremist, right-wing Republican lawmakers who have autocratic control over more than a score of America's state governments. Their obscure, anti-democracy weapon is called "pre-emption" — the dangerous power of state officials to nullify laws passed by local people.
It's supposed to be used rarely, carefully and only in emergency situations, but today's radical big-government Republicans have weaponized it, routinely overturning local actions that the GOP's corporate funders don't like. Local decisions to protect worker safety, outlaw loan sharking, shut down puppy mills, prevent workplace discrimination, stop pollution, control political corruption — and so many more popular democratic reforms are being abolished by Republican autocrats in service to plutocrats. Some 500 more of those usurpations are moving through state legislatures across the country now — with practically no public notice.
Embarrassingly, GOP leaders in my state of Texas have been leading this charge against the people's democratic will, and they're now enacting a nuclearized escalation of their attack. Their new weapon has been dubbed "Death Star" — a state law that will pre-emptively ban cities and counties from passing corporate regulations stronger than state regulation (which is infamously feeble). The ban — gleefully pushed by a horde of lobbyist for brand-name corporate elites — includes letting corporations overturn existing local protections for workers, consumers, small business, the environment and others. "We hate cities and counties," grumped the sponsor of the Death Star law.
This is a wholesale usurpation of yours and my liberty to govern ourselves. In exchange for political funding, GOP officials are literally outsourcing the people's democratic authority to private profiteers. Learn more at www.supportdemocracy.org.
To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
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