Tuesday, May 1, 2012

As The Cookie Crumbles: Take a Memo...Please

One day in the summer of 1971, upon emerging from a drunken night of frantic prayer-bingeing and slef-flagellant masturbation with Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon stared in horror from his bunker beneath the WhiteHouse and beheld (INSERT DC DEMO SHOT) several hundred thousand angry, fearful, worried, threatened young people from all over the country who were thronging to the National Mall to protest the Vietnam War. He was horrified. It was, in his mind--in the "official" mind--nothing less than MUTINY! It is difficult now to recall just how threatening that was. (END DC DEMO SHOT). 

Against this backdrop, allow me to introduce you to Associate SCROTRUS Justice Lewis Powell (standing, second from the left--but on Raygun's right) 

Raise your hand if you've heard of Lewis Powell!

Extra points if you've also heard of the Powell Memorandum.

 Lewis Powell was a successful tobacco lawyer--defending tobacco companies--in Richmond, and a staunch Republican "CorpoRatist free marketeer." Nixon tried several times to put him on the Court. Nixon finally succeeded in '71. Powell, then sitting on the boards of 11 major corporations,   acceded, but before his official nomination he wrote a very detailed and instructive memorandum to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell's nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jack Anderson got a copy, and tried to raise a stink, questining Powell's potential impartiality , ut somehow it never managed to surfaced during his confirmation hearings. Wonder how that happened, doncha hippies?
Eventually, it was revealed, but not until  well AFTER he'd been confirmed. Known now as "the Powell Memorandum," it's contents spell out, in careful points, with impeccable logic, and legal footnotes, the way that the Corporat Right would assume control of the means and modes of production of intellectual and cultural capital in the USofA, solely for the aggrandizement of the CorpoRat image and ethos. There's a link to the complete document on my Anosognosia blog.

The Plan outlined in the Memo became the template for the successful corpoRat coup d'etat initiated by Raygun and finished by The Chimpeeror and Cheney, and now being highly burnished by the current incumbent, the Tallest Midget. It was: over time, and gradually, to insert ideologically pure, pro-CorpoRat/conservaturds into the highest echelons of ALL the USer cultural and educational centers: media, schools, universities, museums, libraries, whence they could--those 'unseen wire-pullers that Edward Bernays talked about in the 1920s--direct the climate more favorably towards the "free marketeers."
Powell, like so many of his age and class--notoriously his ideological soulmate in the WhiteHouse; and also and equally notoriously Allen Bloom, at Columbia, among others--was extremely distressed with the rebellious, youth/"counter-culture" and fearful of the anti-corpoRat implications it held for social justice and the fair distribution of social goods, and he--they were ALL--was fiercely agin it. They were, in the argot of the time, "freaked right the fuck OUT!" The memorandum is the product of his fears.
Powell, an acknowledged hawk on corporate privilege,was the 'spiritual" god-father of the whole, oligarchic coup that came to fruition under Reagan. He cast a decisive vote and wrote the majority opinion in a landmark corporate-personhood case called --First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti--a 1978 decision that actually invented a First Amendment "right" for corporations to actively influence ballot questions.

At the time, he was extolled as a "moderate" on social issues. But he voted to uphold anti-sodomy laws in Georgia,  and he voted to uphold the death penalty--in the face of documentation which demonstrated that – other than as punishment for the most violent of crimes – people who killed whites were significantly more likely to receive the death penalty as punishment for their crimes than people who killed blacks. Indeed, he seldom met a death penalty statute he didn't like. And he sided with Bakke against the University of California, in the case that effectively began to reverse anti-discrimination and restorative initiatives for minority students in public universities, too. Maybe "moderate" meant something else in those days, I dunno...

Probably, though, the template provided by his memo to tht USCoC is his greatest, and most lasting social influence. This gave impetus and direction to the right-wing, think-tank phenomenon. He more or less invented the "Heritage Foundation," and the rest just followed wherever they could find a compliant, sympathetic, generous billionaire.

 As noted, he thereby did most of the legal "spade work" for what became the Reagan/Bidness silent coup of 82-84.

Which, as events have shown, has succeeded wildly.(INSERT HANGING SHOT)
An interesting side-bar, and surely it is a mere accident and coincidence, but there was a previous "Lewis Powell" from Virginia who gained a certain notoriety, in an earlier time. He was hanged as a conspirator in the assassination of Abe Lincoln. (END HANGING SHOT)

 We can talk about such things, and butterfly wings, when I see you at the beach, hippies...

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