Understanding the Supreme Court Vacancy as it Relates to Citizens United

It would be difficult to find a Supreme Court case more loved by the corporate-political alliance than Citizens United. This 5-4 decision is loathed by nearly 80% of Americans, so it is not at all inconceivable that it could be reversed with a liberal replacing the undeniably conservative Scalia. But what has been overlooked in the extensive speculation over potential replacements is the fact that Scalia was one of two Justices with extensive corporate backgrounds. Antonin Scalia worked for Jones Day, the largest law firm in America, and John Roberts worked for Hogan Hartson, one of the largest law firms and lobbying firms in America. So Scalia’s death under a Democratic President has got to be a major concern for benefactors of Citizen United.
Whether it ultimately be Obama or Clinton, or dare we say Sanders, the next Supreme Court Justice is likely to be nominated by a Democrat. The Republican wing of the Court has been predictably cozy with big business, while the Democratic faction has been somewhat less so. The aristocratic elite, however, long ago realized that the key to staying in power was controlling both sides of the aisle.
Citizens United is far too important to Corporate influence to be left to the fate of a potential power shift in the makeup of the Court.
Given the extreme animosity between parties, President Obama would be smart to nominate a circuit court candidate who has recently enjoyed a bipartisan appointment.
Irrespective of who nominates them, the next confirmed Supreme Court Justice will most likely be an Ivy League alumni with a stellar Wall Street, K Street, or corporate background. With this in mind, here is a true power ranking of Obama’s shortlist:

1. Merrick Garland-Harvard. Worked for D.C. Law firm Arnold & Porter, one of the largest law firms in the country. Older than the other candidates, which might make him more palatable to Republicans.
2. Robert L. Wilkins-Harvard. Worked for Venable, LLC, a major D.C. corporate law firm. It’s tough to imagine Obama not liking the idea of getting another African American on the Court
3. Loretta Lynch-Harvard. Worked for Hogan Hartson (as did Chief Justice John Roberts) and would be the first African American woman on the Court. Would add a fourth woman to the court, which would be a great counter point to the right’s continued denigration of women, although this might be too much for the largely misogynistic aristocratic elite
4. Patricia Ann Millet-Harvard. Worked for 2 high profile D.C. Law firms. See #3.

Sri Srinivasan and Paul Watford might very well get nominated, but stand precious little chance of actually being confirmed due to their lack of an Ivy League education, a risk Citizen United champions can ill afford to take.

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SEC about to become 80% Ivy League

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Late last month, President Obama nominated Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce to fill two positions on the Securities and Exchange Commission to fill the seats vacated by the departing Daniel Gallagher and Luis Aguilar. Fairfax in particular has been championed by little guy advocate Elizabeth Warren. But the nominations are making media headlines more for the seemingly historic opportunity Obama has created. Four out of the five SEC Commissioners will now be women. And while that is indeed historic, especially given the familial ties between the SEC and Wall Street, which is overwhelmingly dominated by men.

What I find much more fascinating, and not a little bit terrifying, is that not only are the two departing non-Ivy League commissioners being replaced by Ivy Leaguers, but 4 out of the 5 SEC Commissioners will now be both women and Ivy Leaguers. In other words, the SEC is going from 40% Ivy League to 80% Ivy League. We have to hope that Michael Piwowar can stand up to chair Mary Jo White (Columbia, -5), Kara Stein (Yale, -4), Lisa Fairfax (Harvard, -4) and Hester Peirce (Yale, -2).  Adios meaningful reform.

John B. King, Jr. is named as new Secretary of Education

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Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (Harvard, -2) has decided to resign, effective in December. President Obama has named a whopper as his replacement. Obama (Harvard, Columbia,-6) has selected John B. King, Jr. (Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Jr., -4) to serve as Acting Education Secretary through the end of his Presidency. While King doesn’t have a whole lot of private or corporate experience, his Education is as Ivy League as it gets. Harvard Undergrad. Masters from Columbia. Yale Law. PhD in Educational Administrative Practice from Columbia. It’s difficult to see how having an Education Secretary that is both an elitist and a professional bureaucrat will help move education forward in any kind of meaningful way.

2016 Presidential Tournament Pre-Season Bracket

With the first Republican Presidential Debate in the history books, the 2016 Presidential Tournament has officially begun. And while most Americans are increasingly viewing the upcoming elections as a red state versus blue state head on tractor-trailer collision, I view it just a little bit differently. I see it as a full blown collision for sure, but between new school Ivy League Aristocrats and everybody else. As of today, the polls are showing that the front runner of the Democratic Party and the top three candidates of the Republican Party are all Ivy League alums.

In the spirit of March Madness, which will no doubt apply both to the annual basketball right of passage as well as next spring’s political season, I have created my own 2016 Presidential Tournament Bracket. Now it’s not exactly like a traditional playoff format, since the candidates are not faring off in head to head, tournament style eliminations. Rather, what I have proposed is Ivy League candidates on one side and non-Ivy League candidates on the other. It is also not an even tournament, as there are 8 Ivy Leaguers on one side and 15 on the other. Neither will there necessarily be one finalist from each side. I believe there is a very strong chance the finals will be played between two Ivy Leaguers.

We are probably only a couple of weeks away from seeing the first casualties of this tournament, and we still could see some late entrants. And with only one Democrat on the Ivy League side, blue state elitists have to be mulling a plan B should Clinton implode early.

Preseason Bracket

The New England Patriots’ Culture of Cheating Comes Straight From The Top

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As we head into the 2015 football season, and as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld Tom Brady’s 4 game suspension for his role in Deflategate, I thought it might be interesting to go back and revisit January of this year. In late January news broke that the New England Patriots and Tom Brady had been improperly deflating game balls ostensibly to give themselves an unfair advantage. (Full disclosure-I am a raging Denver Broncos fan). But something equally mischievous was unfolding just down the street, something that would be curiously significant for football fans. The Harvard Business Review’s January issue was hitting the newsstands, and it’s cover story was not only shocking, but also revealing of the New England Patriots over all strategy:

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“The Problem With Authenticity: When its OK to fake it till you make it,” by Herminia Ibarra was an incredible insight into America’s most reviled business school. Despite it’s continued top ranking, Harvard Business School has a dirty little secret: it produces ruthless elitists who know no shame when it comes to winning. That they would acknowledge this, even if overtly, is a display of arrogance that is nearly incomprehensible, until you realize that this is, after all, Harvard we are talking about.

In an article that advocates for leaders to embrace a sanitized and selected version of potential truths, we learn that Harvard Business School advocates the following:

-It’s okay not to be true to yourself
-‘Do as I say not as I do’ is acceptable leadership
-Values can be a hindrance
-Your work doesn’t need to stand on its own merits

Keep in mind that if this is the sanitized version of what they teach, as the article endorses, then the reality is that deceit it is a key component of their program. And when you take in to account that nearly every rotten apple in the financial crisis of 2007-2008 was a Harvard Business alum, you start to see that deceit is a hallmark of the Harvard MBA.

Which brings us back to the New England Patriots. Patriots owner Robert Kraft (Columbia, Harvard -6) is a graduate of Harvard Business School, and got his undergraduate degree at Ivy League rival Columbia. If you add this to the fact that the Patriots have been involved in at least two high-profile cheating scandals, the picture that emerges is one where dishonesty is both a top down management directive and an acceptable winning method.

And winning is something Ivy Leaguers do very, very well. It seems the only place the Ivy League loses is in collegiate athletics. For everything else, they are ruthlessly dominant. And they don’t just get mad they get even. And then some. Which is why I think Roger Goodell is toast. Roger Goodell did not attend an Ivy League School. Tom Brady’s lawyer attended Columbia Law. Jeff Pash, the NFL’s Executive Vice President and Counsel and #2 man attended Harvard. This is starting to look like a classic Ivy League squeeze play.

Jeff Pash, in his role as NFL Counsel, is definitely getting splattered with some of Roger Goodell’s mud. But a typical Ivy League quid pro quo would be for Kraft to force Goodell out and advocate for Pash’s promotion in exchange for Pash agreeing to turn a blind eye to the Patriots’ winning at all costs strategy. In any case, the Goodell era is over.

Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Taxpayers Screwed by Ivy Leaguers

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Last week, the Chicago Public Schools proposed the selling of up to 1.16 billion dollars in bonds to potentially fill what is estimated as a 1.1 billion dollar hole in their budget. Part of the 1.16 billion dollars, perhaps as much as $300 million, will be used to buy the district out of risky derivative products it purchased from 2003-2007. CPS alone purchased more auction rate bonds than the entire state of California for the same period. This of course, was the same time frame when Wall Street financial firms were selling crappy derivatives to anyone whose eyes they could pull the wool over.

The entire financial system nearly imploded when Goldman Sachs started marking down derivatives in 2007. These were the same products that they themselves had aggressively marketed as superior investments. Goldman Sachs sold these risky products to CPS, and promised substantial capital to back them up. In 2007, Goldman Sachs was the first bank to pull investment support for auction rate bonds, causing CPS interest payments to skyrocket.. In other words, Goldman Sachs once again was at the center of web of deceit.

But perhaps even more interesting is who was responsible for purchasing these insanely risky products in the first place.  David Vitale (Harvard, -3), Chief Administration Officer of CPS during the time the derivatives were purchased was the former vice chairman and director of Bank One. When Goldman’s Harvard investment managers came looking for taxpayers to screw, Vitale was happy to help out fellow Crimson. But none of this could have been possible without the sign off of the Chicago Public Schools CEO. And who might this either extremely gullible or extremely deceitful leader be? Well, none other than current Secretary of Education and Harvard alum Arne Duncan (Harvard, -2).

If Chicagoans want to stop getting screwed, they need to get rid of David Vitale, and any other Poison Ivy elitists as fast as possible.