Sunday morning was a study in editorial standards, or lack thereof. On the one hand, we had Bernie Sanders stop just short of telling Brian Stelter our political media lacks the editorial expertise to report on politics, and on the other, we have Fareed Zakaria dedicating an entire segment of his show to The Bell Curve author Charles Murray, in order to pimp his book, By the People.
The disgraced and discredited Murray is on the road selling David and Charles Koch's paradise -- a world where the judiciary is used to cripple the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, as he describes in his latest book, By the People.
Murray proposes to let the people "take their country" back by litigating the federal government to death, a la Scientology in the early 80's.
As you might expect from someone as deterministic as the author of The Bell Curve, Murray has concluded that the conservative movement’s shortcomings must be explained via reference to its political DNA and the political DNA of its competitors. But rather than reason much as he did two decades ago that these shortcomings reflect the intrinsic weakness of his ideology, he has concluded instead that the system is rigged against it. Appealing as populist libertarian ideas are to him and his cohort, or as they should be in the abstract, they simply can’t compete in a democratic environment with downwardly distributive progressivism. For the right to gain advantage, it will have to change terrain.
In his latest book, as PFAW explains, Murray hopes “to have one or a few anti-government billionaires kick in to create ‘The Madison Fund,’ a legal group that would flood the government with lawsuits challenging the enforcement of regulations they deem unnecessary.”
What Murray fails to mention and Zakaria fails to know is that this project is already well underway and has been for a few years now. Over the past three years, the right wing has robustly funded a policy shop dedicated to electing judges friendly to the conservative view of the federal government. The Judicial Crisis Network claims to be an organization established to educate the public about the judiciary, but it has spent millions to elect friendly judges for the sole purpose of then filing lawsuits against the federal government.
When Murray says with a straight face that he's all for corporate regulations staying in place, but suing like crazy on behalf of "small businesses," he's actually referring to "small businesses" like Koch Industries -- a privately-held company worth billions, but owned by four shareholders. Because it's structured like that mom-and-pop consulting firm down the street, Murray can sit there and talk about speeding laws as if it doesn't relate to his ultimate goal of selling the public on the idea that Charles and David Koch and other billionaires like them should be given relief from federal regulations.
That's where you come to my proposal, which is to say that you have a way to fight back. And I put it in terms of legal defense funds. And these are not legal defense funds that just defend the innocent. They defend people who are technically guilty of violating a pointless regulation. And again, this is a fund for ordinary people. It's not for big corporations.
Ordinary people who become convinced to litigate against their own interests. Like in the case of King v. Burwell, for example. That case is not about regulations, but it isn't a case that belongs in front of the Supreme Court either, and it wouldn't be there but for the fact that they convinced a few ignorant people that getting health insurance would be the absolute worst thing in the world for them. Sure, those plaintiffs are ordinary people, but they're not getting that pricey legal defense because AEI admires their humanity. They just serve the billionaires' purpose.
So what happens is you are being harassed by a bureaucrat for silly reasons. The defense fund says to the bureaucrat, we are taking this person's case. It will not cost them a penny. We will litigate it to the max. We're just going to make as much work for you as we can. And when you finally find that he was in violation and fine him, we're going to reimburse the fine. And I want this done not with one or two cases, I want it done with hundreds. So I'm talking about a large fund.
Digby points out that it doesn't end with litigation either. Murray also plans to mount big PR shaming campaigns, similar to the smear job they've done on Lois Lerner at the IRS. Tell me again which ordinary people were served by that particular manufactured scandal?
Murray’s plan includes another strategy used by the Church of Scientology. Murray says the Madison Fund will wage public relations campaigns to ridicule government regulations and the officials enforcing them. Wright documents that Scientology supplemented its legal war on the IRS with ads featuring celebrities, including non-Scientologists, who had been audited or otherwise had tangled with the IRS.
The legal war waged by Scientology worked, winning the church official recognition as a tax-exempt religion and all the legal protections that came with it when the IRS caved. Wright says that IRS Commissioner Fred Goldberg “had to balance the longing on the part of some of his executives to destroy the church against the need to keep his resources, both human and financial, from being sucked into the black hole that Scientology had created.”
Similarly, all of those organizations who have no business getting 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) status have now been approved by the IRS. What choice did they have after the public shaming of Lois Lerner for doing her job, after all? From James O'Keefe's Project Veritas to True the Vote to the 60 Plus election funding machine, they're all now blessed with tax-exempt status.
Charles Koch, by the way, has described Murray as "one of the "authors who have had the most profound influence on his own political philosophy." Since 1990, he has been a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank funded exclusively by the Kochtopus. Murray is one of Jeb Bush's favorite authors, too.
In this 5-minute segment, Murray argues for subversion of the federal government via a blizzard of lawsuits for the sole purpose of benefitting those "individuals" who feel harassed and put upon by said government. But he doesn't stop with that. He argues for utter disregard for the rule of law, using traffic laws as his example.
The only time you get picked up if you're going five miles over the speed limit is if you are on a deserted stretch of highway. Then they might do that. If you're on an ordinary interstate, 70 percent of the people are going six miles over the speed limit.
At that point, the state troopers do not pull you over five miles over the speed limit. They only pull over the people that are going crazy fast or driving erratically. They wait until there is an actual harm done. And Fareed, that is my whole goal, not to wipe regulations off the books, but to drag the bureaucrats kicking and screaming into a common-sense enforcement where they have to marshal their resources against cases where real harm has been done and when no real harm has been done, ignore it.
Charles Murray is arguing for lawlessness, at least until someone gets hurt by it. Where is the line drawn? Should someone going 120 miles per hour on a freeway that's got light traffic on it be stopped and ticketed? Yes, speed limits are arbitrary, and yes there are times of the day when you will not get a ticket for going 72 miles per hour, but you probably will if you're doing 80. So where is the line?
Does that line extend to the race of the driver? Should a black driver be held to the 65 miles per hour standard and a white driver allowed to hit 75? If the laws do not apply to everyone evenly, then don't they apply to no one?
This is how the segment ended. Viewers were told Murray was fighting for them to be slumlords, polluters and scoflaws. Somehow this is considered responsible journalism? No.
It is irresponsible to put this man on cable news and treat him as if he's legitimate when he's a crackpot advocating to subvert the government and stomp on the rule of law. It would have been awesome if someone had bothered to say so, Fareed Zakaria.