A Supreme Court of Ethical Weasels

Far-right Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett now supports a vague veil of an ethics code for the Court’s moral weasels.

Wow! A couple of Supreme Court weasels — excuse me, justices — say they’re now starting to think that maybe the court should sorta start thinking about possibly, perhaps, someday adopting some sort of anti-corruption reforms.

This nine-member group of unelected, supremely powerful judges is allowed to make up its own rules of ethical behavior. So — surprise! — they’ve chosen to have no code of conduct like all other top officials are expected to obey. Unsurprisingly, then, the justices feel free to accept financial payments (excuse me: “bribes”) from moneyed interests seeking favorable legal rulings from the supposedly-impartial court.

But — oops — the general public has begun to notice the corruption, and public belief in the court’s integrity has plummeted. Thus, one of the far-right Supremes, Amy Coney Barrett, is now supporting a vague veil of an ethics code for her colleagues, even as she attests that all “are very committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct.”

Seriously? Including the notorious money sleaze, Clarence Thomas?

But wait, even a progressive justice, Elena Kagan, joins in the charade that an ethical code might produce… well, ethics. Or, at least, political cover for the lack thereof. A code, she surmises, would “go far in persuading other people that we were adhering to the highest standards of conduct.”

Hello — would you be persuaded? Yet, these “Supreme weasels” won’t even take the minimal step of adopting a simple code to measure basic integrity. “It would be a good idea for us to do it,” Barrett meekly says. “It would be a good thing for the court to do that,” Kagan echoes.

Stop it! Stop the pitiful posturing. There’s only nine of you; you’re in charge! Convene a happy hour, confront reality, and do the right thing! Just do it. I’ll buy the beer.

Instead of Utility Greed, How About Some Energy Sanity?

What is the “greenest” state in America?

You might think California, or maybe Oregon. But go 3,000 miles east, and you’ll come upon the physical beauty and ecological vitality of the Green Mountain State: Vermont. Indeed, its very name is derived from the French term for green mountains: Verts Monts.

And now, Vermont’s green ethic is being advanced in a very innovative way by perhaps the least likely source: the state’s biggest electric utility! These outfits are usually rank profiteers, with their only “green” concern being the extraction of more dollar bills from consumers.

But, says Mari McClure, CEO of Green Mountain Power, “call us the un-utility.” She is flipping the industry model — instead of having thousands of customers hooked on a system of massive, centralized, increasingly-expensive and unreliable power plants, GMP is decentralizing. Not just symbolically, but by literally putting its power source in customers’ homes, businesses, schools, etc.

Specifically, Green Mountain will install television-size storage batteries statewide in homes and buildings, each one soaking up wind and solar energy when the weather is right and releasing stored power when needed. This turns out to be far cheaper than building central power plants, having to constantly replace miles of electric lines downed by storms, and paying for widespread power outages.

Plus, it delivers priceless customer goodwill by doing away with infuriating outages that shut down people’s lights, refrigerators, medical equipment, etc. “We don’t want the power to be off for our customers ever,” says McClure.

Indeed, power outages cost U.S. utilities about $150 billion a year… while costing customers even more. That’s a failed system! Green Mountain Power is showing that decentralization is a path away from business-as-usual greed — literally generating energy sanity.

The question to ask is: What’s your utility doing?

Jim Hightower