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Corporate Power

Norm Coleman

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The dark money group American Action Network has launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign against vulnerable House Democrats, dishonestly blaming them for gasoline prices. The ads make no mention of the group's history of accepting oil and gas industry money.

According to a press release on Wednesday, the tax-exempt 501(c)(4) group is spending $2 million on ads against five Democratic incumbents seeking reelection in toss-up districts this November.

The ads against Reps. Marcy Kaptur (OH), Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas (NH), and Frank Mrvan (IN) claim that each is to blame for gasoline prices because they stand with President Joe Biden in opposing unlimited oil and gas drilling.

"This summer the signs are all around us. It was their plan all along," claims the ad against the two New Hampshire representatives, before a clip is shown of President Joe Biden in mid-sentence saying, "... no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill. Period."

The spot urges people to call Kuster and Pappas to tell them to "unleash American energy" and "lower prices."

This out-of-context partial quote comes from a March 2020 Democratic debate, at which Biden said that he would oppose offshore drilling and new drilling leases on public lands.

"Number one, no more subsidies for fossil fuel industry. No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period, ends, number one," he said. CNN has previously debunked claims that that statement indicated a desire to shut down all drilling.

Another new spot by the group attacks Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) with the same misleading partial Biden quote. It claims, "Now gas costs $5 a gallon ... but Dina Titus wanted it to cost more," before playing clip of her saying, "Well, you've got to raise the gas tax."

Titus made the comment in a Feb. 21, 2020, podcast interview as part of a discussion about how to address infrastructure challenges facing the Highway Trust Fund, a federal gas tax-funded source of money for highway construction and mass transit. At the time, gasoline cost less than $2.50 a gallon on average.

She has since signed on a co-sponsor of a bill to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax entirely given the current national price spike.

Though the group blames current prices on the lack of domestic drilling under Biden, experts agree that this is not a major factor.

The cost of gasoline began to rise under former President Donald Trump in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic reduced supply and the reopening of the economy boosted demand. It then went up much more this year following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Congress' nearly unanimous decision to suspend Russian oil and gas imports in response.

Democratic lawmakers and consumer groups have also blamed some of the increase on price gouging and greed on the part of oil and gas companies.

The American Action Network was founded in 2010 and is chaired by former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), who has been a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia in recent year. It has spent millions of dollars in dark money on attacking Democrats, supporting Republicans, and opposing fossil fuel regulations.

While it does not disclose its donors, in the ads or elsewhere, public records show that American Action Network and its affiliated American Action Forum think tank have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for the oil and gas industry, and tens of thousands more from the American Natural Gas Alliance.

A spokesperson for the American Action Network did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

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Today's six-member supermajority on the Supreme Court has surrendered all claim to being an impartial moral force for blind justice. Instead, the GOP's small network of corporate and right-wing operatives has painstakingly fabricated and weaponized the court as its own political oligarchy. In only a couple of decades, backed by a few billionaires, these anti-democracy zealots have incrementally been imposing on America an extremist political agenda that they could not win at the ballot box.

Their "Eureka!" moment — the startling development that opened the eyes of the moneyed elites and ideologues to the raw power they could grab by politicizing the judiciary — was the Supreme Court's illegitimate Bush v. Gore ruling. In December 2000, that five-person GOP majority abruptly crashed Florida's presidential vote count, storming over both democracy and judicial propriety to install George W. in the White House. Appalled, dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens mocked the five, pointing out that while their trumped-up ruling didn't really establish whether Bush or Gore won, it did make the loser "pellucidly clear: It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."

One of those who helped run the court's blatant political power play over the Florida vote was an obscure corporate lawyer who had long been an aggressive, behind-the-scenes Republican monkey-wrencher pushing to restrict voting by people of color, poor people and other Democratic constituencies: John Roberts. Shortly thereafter — surprise! — Bush elevated Roberts to a top federal judgeship, and just two years later moved him on up to America's ultimate judicial power spot, chief justice of the Supremes.

From this lofty roost, Roberts has orchestrated an expansive political docket for the court, handpicking cases created and advanced by far-right interests. He then has manipulated precedents and procedures to produce convoluted decisions that impose plutocratic, autocratic and theocratic domination over the American people's democratic rights and aspirations.

To date, Chief Justice Roberts has cobbled together slim, all-Republican majorities to hand down more than 80 blatantly partisan rulings, fabricating law that We the People have never voted for and don't support.

It's bizarre to have the Supreme Court, the least democratic branch of government, professing to speak in the name of The People. Even as its right-wing core is grinding out an unprecedented level of partisan judgments that We the People clearly do not want — and will not support. Take that abortion right, for example, that the court — now freshly packed with former President Donald Trump's trio of Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — will likely move this year to nullify. If they do, it will be a pricey "victory" for those politicos, because they are imperiously thrusting their own agenda over the overwhelming will of the people.

Helloooo, your honors: Some six in 10 Americans have consistently and passionately affirmed that these deeply personal and emotional decisions belong to the women affected, not to unelected ideologues and political opportunists. A court so far out of touch with the people is marching forth with no cloak of legitimacy, squandering its authority to be taken seriously, much less obeyed.

Not only has this band of self-righteous judges been punching their reactionary social biases into court-made law, but they've also been rubber-stamping cases to enthrone corporate supremacy over us and our environment. Throughout Roberts' reign, the court has sided with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the chief front group for U.S. corporate giants) a staggering 70 percent of the time! Indeed, three members — Roberts, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas — now rank among the five most corporate-friendly justices of the past 75 years.

This aggressive corporatization and partisanship has lifted the Supremes to a new level of public awareness — much to their chagrin. In a Quinnipiac survey last November, more than six in 10 Americans said they believe Supreme Court decisions are motivated primarily by politics, not by unbiased readings of the law. Rather than instilling a modicum of humility, however, the bad reviews have stirred embarrassing outbursts of judicial pique and vitriol. Alito, for example, whined loudly last year that critics are engaged in "unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution." Likewise, Barrett was so stung that she felt it necessary to go public with a strained denial, pleading for the public to believe that "this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks."

Note to petulant judges: If you don't want to be called a partisan hack, stop being one. And, Brother Alito, it's not critics who're damaging the third branch "as an independent institution," it's your obsequious fealty to corporate interests and your knee-jerk allegiance to extremist ideologues. You can wear the robe, but you can't hide in it.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.