Archive

Archive for January, 2010

While Karma Catches Up To Republican Brownshirt James O’Keefe And A Mentor, Propagandist Breitbart, Examination Of Fellow Thugs In The Landrieu Office Phone Tampering Attempt Turns Up Questionable Connections That Require Official Investigation.

January 31, 2010 1 comment

Lawsuits have been starting to pile up on the dark hero and rube of the American right wing, James O’Keefe. In a Pennsylvania lawsuit,

According to the lawsuit, O’Keefe and Giles met with Conway-Russell in an “attempt to entrap” ACORN workers into behaving inappropriately. Conway-Russell told O’Keefe and Giles that she could help them only with mortgage opportunities but not with other matters, the lawsuit said.

O’Keefe and Giles later disseminated the audio and video recording of the interview to “injure and harm” Conway-Russell, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

Such activities violate Pennsylvania’s wiretap laws. In Maryland, O’Keefe, accomplice Giles, and Breitbart.com are being sued in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for,

“The video and audio footage was taken without the knowledge of Williams and/or Thompson and in violation of Maryland’s Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code §§ 10-402(a) and 10-410, which requires two party consent to all electronic surveillance. Violation of the law is a felony, and entitles parties whose rights were violated to sue,” ACORN said in a statement announcing the suit.

ACORN’s general counsel, Arthur Schwartz, said the acts of O’Keefe and Giles in making the hidden-camera taping were “clear violations of Maryland law.”

Of course, all these attacks on ACORN along with the dubious “voter fraud” charges the rightwing has continually tried to gin up to tap into some racist tendencies in the “tea bag” movement and insinuate that was how Obama got elected and the obvious attempt to defund it was to attack any infrastructure the have nots can have for a political organizing voice as revealed in “ACORN’s Vindication: Too Little Too Late” by Katrina Vanden Heuval,

According to Lewis, damage to ACORN’s work on the ground includes “10,000 people minimum” who will not obtain free tax preparation services from ACORN. In the past, ACORN has helped them file for the Earned Income Tax Credit and thereby “put billions of dollars back into low-income neighborhoods.”

“We’ve had to suspend that. That’s a direct affect on poor people, and you know we were commended by the IRS prior to the right-wing attacks,” said Lewis.

Lewis also said ACORN must curtail its fight against foreclosures. “About 200,000 people that we won’t be able to help directly,” she said, noting that this comes at a moment when the Obama Administration has admitted its own anti-foreclosure plan has fallen short because bailed-out banks aren’t cooperating.

Finally, Lewis said loss of funding has impacted ACORN’s fight to address wage and hour disparities — workers who aren’t paid the minimum wage, cheated out of overtime, unfairly dismissed or discriminated against — “people just totally taking advantage of low-wage workers in this economy.”

And now we have the arrest of O’Keefe in more illegal activity involving Senator Landrieu’s office. Let’s look into the connections into this operation. Arrested along with O’Keefe were Stan Dai, Joseph Basel, and Robert Flanagan, son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. Let’s take a peek at one of them, the circumstances and also the various rigtwing organizations surrounding the episode and events around Mary Landrieu’s (D) La., office. As reported by Lindsay Beyerstein at Alternet in “James Bond Wannabe Part of Right-Wing Plot to Tamper with Senator’s Phones“,

The circumstances of Dai’s arrest are difficult to square any theory that the men were just checking the protocols of Landrieu’s phone system. A federal law enforcement official told the Associated Press that one of the four suspects was arrested a few blocks away in a car with “a listening device that could pick up transmissions.” Another anonymous official told MSNBC that the man in the car was Stan Dai. It’s unclear why the listening device wasn’t mentioned in the affidavit. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Louisiana declined my request for further comment.

So who is Stan Dai and what and who is he connected with? Well let’s take a look in the same article,

In 2008, Dai served as associate director of the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity Washington University. The ICCAE is funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and charged with recruiting the next generation of spooks. A university official assured Laura Rozen of Politico that Dai was a civilian whose job with the university ended in 2008 when the grant money ran out.

Last June, Dai was a featured speaker on torture and terrorism at a “CIA Day” for students in the Junior Statesmen of America’s summer school. The mission of the Junior Statesmen, according to the organization’s Web site, “is to strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for life-long involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society.” The students visited Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., and then returned to Georgetown for a series of lectures.

Let’s look at the brochure or packets from the CIA program at which Dai was a speaker called “Annual Junior Statesman Summer School” Speakers Program. It cites his occupation as “freelance consultant”. It lists his career history as
a former Assistant Director of the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity Washington University, as serving as the Operations Officer of a Department of Defense irregular warfare fellowship program, and also as an Undergraduate Fellow on Terrorism of the Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies (a neoconservative think tank with ties to Richard Perle). The topics listed he spoke about at that session concerned “Torture” and “Domestic terrorism”. Concerning questions listed as “possible questions” are listed,

D. Possible Questions
1. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has defended the Bush administration’s policies on surveillance, interrogation and detention as crucial factors that have protected the homeland. How much valid is the former administration’s assertions that these kinds of policies have prevented another terrorist attack on the United States?

2. President Obama has announced he will close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. He has announced he will close CIA black sites around the world, where they interrogate terror suspects. Says he will make CIA interrogators abide by the Army Field Manual, defined waterboarding as torture and ban it, suspend trials for terrorists by military commission, and now eliminate the label of enemy combatants. By taking those steps, do you believe the president of the United States has made Americans less safe?

Of course to anyone that supports the rule of law, the Constitution of the United States, and International Law based on the Principles set at Nuremberg, knows that torture, Guantanamo Bay, and CIA black sites are all illegal through the aforementioned. Who else does the ODNI fund besides the ICCAE? It funds or directs Proteus USA. Why would O’Keefe need such an connection or such “expertise”?

What about the groups harrassing Landrieu’s office? Are they helping the “spin” by participating in disruption? As quoted in AlterNet article,

Their defenders hypothesize they were just “checking” on the senator’s phone lines to make sure that constituent calls weren’t being blocked. Some conservative groups have complained bitterly in recent weeks that they couldn’t get through to Landrieu. Certain paranoid elements of the right speculated that Landrieu had “done something” to her phones to make it easier to ignore their calls. (A rather pervasive and simpler technology for that does exist; it’s called voicemail.)

Groups involved in defending or aiding the bogus defense of this felony it seems are the Family Research Council , the Baton Rouge Tea Party, and the Chamber of Commerce (who must still be working from the Powell Memo). The American people need for a political party or movement to emerge that will fight the attacks on our democracy. The Democratic Party under the influence of the DLC or “centrists” seems or has been inadequate.

Advertisements

Dr. Margaret Flowers and Dr. Carol Paris Arrested Outside The Renaissance Hotel In Baltimore.

January 30, 2010 8 comments

Doctors Margaret Flowers and Carol Paris were arrested on the sidewalk outside the Renaissance Hotel in Baltimore, MD, for trespassing. The hotel was where President Barack Obama was staying before giving a speech. They were carrying a banner and had with them, a letter to give the President or one of his aides, requesting a single payer health care system or medicare for all plan for replacing America’s antiquated expensive health insurance system. After being arrested, they were released after sitting in a squad car and receiving a citation for trespassing. If you would like to help support a fair, cost effective, humane, modern universal health care system for citizens of the United States instead of the expensive, inefficient, one with third world statistical outcomes like the one we have now, you can lend your support here.

Murray Hill Inc. Becomes The First Corporation Or “Corporate Person” To Run For Congress In Light Of Supreme Court Ruling.

Murray Hill Inc. has decided that in light of the Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations are people entitled to the Bill of Rights and that money is their free speech (as opposed to purchased speech), that being such should allow corporations to run for office (which could save them a lot of money than the current system of bribery). Designated human of Murray Hill, Inc., Eric Hensal, in an interview with Thom Hartman, is not sure how Murray Hill will get around the “natural born” or age restrictions, but nonetheless will run for Congress in the 8th Congressional District of Maryland as a Republican candidate. The website for Murray Hill Inc is http://www.murrayhillincforcongress.com/ .

Nobel Prize Economist Paul Krugman Proclaims Obama Liquidates Himself.

On his blog, economist Paul Krugman laments Obama’s Republican styled decisions concerning the economy and the frustration shows. He says,

It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)

and also adds,

And it’s a betrayal of everything Obama’s supporters thought they were working for. Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world-view — and more specifically, he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008. A correspondent writes, “I feel like an idiot for supporting this guy.”

Krugman joins many progressives who thought Obama might be different.

Lead Point Attorney Of Citizens United Confessess To 10 Year Plan To Take Down All Campaign Finance Law.

In a story in the New York Times, ” A Quest To End Spending Rules for Campaigns” by David Kirkpatrick, lead attorney for Citizens United, the rightwing group in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, James Bopp Jr. was cited in an interview saying,

“We had a 10-year plan to take all this down, and if we do it right, I think we can pretty well dismantle the entire regulatory regime that is called campaign finance law.”

He went on to say we’re not done yet. Also the article notes,

The same week the court issued its ruling, it agreed to hear Mr. Bopp’s next appeal: seeking to prevent the public release of the names of people who signed a Washington State petition opposing same-sex marriage, on the ground that gay rights supporters might harass them.

For Mr. Bopp, it is a chance to chip away at some of the disclosure laws left intact by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case.

Then there is his suit on behalf of the Republican National Committee, pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking to overturn some of the limits on direct corporate contributions to the political parties. When Mr. Bopp filed it a few years ago, many legal scholars considered the suit almost pointless because of Supreme Court precedents. But the court’s opinion last week — from a slightly different set of justices — has cast it in a far more favorable light.

In other words, no spending limits, no disclosure (secrecy), and no accountability. It seems he has the right court packed full of radicals for full multinational corporate control of the election process in the United States. The public interest is under dire attack.

The Shift From Democracy To Corporate Dictatorship And The Tragedy Of The Lack Of Push Back. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

January 24, 2010 2 comments

While our country has had many dark periods whereby it did not adhere to the founding principles produced in its documents and democracy and freedom has been a struggle for many, especially African Americans who suffered so long and greatly from the darkness of slavery to an apartheid type of government in the Jim Crow laws and segregation of the south, women who couldn’t vote, the Alien and Sedition Acts, the slaughter of the native people of North America, and so forth, the United States moved towards a more perfect union domestically since World War II. Then through great legal movements, America started becoming a nation of laws to protect both the guilty and innocent in a just system of laws such as the great example at Nuremberg abroad when a great threat was defeated (which now has been erased by the G.W. Bush Presidency in its “war against terror” much to the horror of legal scholars) while at home, equal protection under the law for Americans was starting to advance. We had Teddy Roosevelt to bust up monopolies that threatened competition and entrepreneurship as well from corporate take over of state (commonly called fascism since the 1930’s). We had Franklin D. Roosevelt give us Social Security so as we aged, we could avoid poverty and rules for our financial markets and banking system to put the United States on sound economic footing instead of the rampant unregulated greed and power that led us to the Great Depression. President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law, a single payer health care system for seniors despite years of Republican run ads using Ronald Reagan declaring it would lead us into a socialist dictatorship (sound familiar?). Civil rights for all its citizens and equal protection of the law began to assert itself at home through the heroism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and determined governance. We enacted environmental laws to protect our water and air from pollutants of industry, a labor movement and laws emerged and produced a middle class from the ravages of the past Robber Baron era and the Gilded Age from a society stratified into rich and the impoverished. These struggles seem to have been forgotten today in a society with no memory beyond what happened the week before and the news media has been turned into entertainment looking for ratings rather than real information. As we have entered the 21st century, much of this forward movement has come to a resounding end, and not only that, but a rapid reversal. In fact, the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is a culmination of decades of assault on the principles of western democracy and the concepts enshrined in our founding documents of self governance by the people.

So how did we get to this point and a horrible decision that makes corporations super “persons” by declaration of the Supreme Court that money is “free speech”, money that breathing live persons cannot match thus rendering their right to free speech less? Can this be really what the founders had in mind when they conceived the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? No, it had to begin with poor application and interpretation of law. In “Personalizing the Impersonal: Corporations and the Bill of Rights” by Carl J. Mayer as published by Hastings Law Journal, Hastings College of Law at University of California, March, 1990; Volume 41, No. 3 was written the following:

The Constitution does not mention corporations.*8 To claim legal status, nineteenth century lawyers argued that corporations should be considered “citizens” or “persons” for application of various constitutional provisions. …

Most of these cases were decided early in the nineteenth century — before significant government economic regulation — and involved the corporation’s right to sue or be sued.

Also,

Two competing visions of corporate personality influenced the Court’s nineteenth century decisions,*15 and to some degree still underlie modern opinions. The first and most traditional notion was the “artificial entity” theory viewing the corporation as nothing more than an artificial creature of the state, subject to government imposed limitations and restrictions.*16 This theory had its origins in English corporation law,*17 and in antebellum legislatures’ practice of considering incorporation a special privilege, awarded by the state for the pursuit of public purposes.*18 Under this view, corporations cannot assert constitutional rights against the state, their creator.*19

The second vision was the “natural entity” or person theory. This theory regards the corporation not as artificial, but as real, with a separate existence and independent rights. It is associated with continental theorists who, at the turn of the century, wrote about “group” or “corporate” [*581] personality in an effort to challenge individualism and to come to terms with institutions of modern society such as corporations, trade unions, universities, and professional associations.*20 This understanding of the corporation most favors corporate constitutional rights.*21

But still, it would have to take more than that, it would have to take something ideological and political to end up with the current aberration. It would take a plan to turn Democracy and Constitutional protections designed for living and breathing citizens on its head in order to concentrate power and laws to huge corporate entities and their monied few for their benefit. It would have to be a plan to do an end around the founders’ intentions of investing governance, liberties, and rights intended for living people of the United States and the branch of government they invested with insuring this governance by the people through their representatives and thus in such matters, the Congress, and in particular, the House of Representatives. Such a plan, or rightwing manifesto if you will, emerged in 1971 and was written by a corporate lawyer who would become an appointee to the Supreme Court, Lewis Franklin Powell Jr. , now called The Powell Memo, written two months before his nomination by President Richard M. Nixon. This memo was titled, “Attack of American Free Enterprise System” and was sent to his friend Eugene Sydnor Jr., who at the time was Chairman of the Education Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. ReclaimDemocracy.org states:

The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”

Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy.

The memo itself was a reflection of its time, a time of social change and growing resistance to war in Southeast Asia. But what it was, was a blueprint for corporate power taking control of American institutions. Just about everything imaginable is listed. The list includes the following: Colleges and intellectuals (always the bogey man of far right movements and governments), high schools, graduate schools, television, radio, the press, advertisements, pamphlets, etc.. Today with the proliferation of the rightwing think tanks, rightwing media, free trade agreements and cheap overseas labor, the near decimation of organized labor, and the unregulated business sector, and multinational corporations with off shore accounts and addresses to escape taxation, one would have to say the plan was executed exceedingly well. And it’s, of course, always the generated fear of Marxism. Someone needs to inform them there is no Marxist movement of note in the United States. There hasn’t been any liberal economic theory (what they call liberal) practice in the United States since the days of Nixon. Someone needs to also inform them regulated capitalism, government programs to promote the general welfare, legal protections for the citizens of the United States, isn’t Marxism, it’s called civilization.

In responding to Paul Krugman’s New York Times op-ed titled “All the President’s Zombies” of August, 2009, Henry A. Giroux wrote in a piece called “The Powell Memo and the Teaching Machines of Right-Wing Extremists ” at truthout,

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, echoing the feelings of many progressives, recently wrote in The New York Times about how dismayed he was over the success right-wing ideologues have had not only in undercutting Obama’s health care bill, but also in mobilizing enormous public support against almost any reform aimed at rolling back the economic, political, and social conditions that have created the economic recession and the legacy of enormous suffering and hardship for millions of Americans over the last 30 years.[1] Krugman is somewhat astonished that after almost three decades the political scene is still under the sway of what he calls the “zombie doctrine of Reaganism,” – the notion that any action by government is bad, except when it benefits corporations and the rich. Clearly, for Krugman, zombie Reaganism appears once again to be shaping policies under the Obama regime. And yet, not only did Reaganism with its hatred of the social state, celebration of unbridled self-interest, its endless quest to privatize everything, and support for deregulation of the economic system eventually bring the country to near economic collapse, it also produced enormous suffering for those who never benefited from the excesses of the second Gilded Age, especially workers, the poor, disadvantaged minorities and eventually large segments of the middle class. And yet, zombie market politics is back rejecting the public option in Obama’s health plan, fighting efforts to strengthen bank regulations, resisting caps on CEO bonuses, preventing climate-control legislation, and refusing to limit military spending. Unlike other pundits, Krugman does not merely puzzle over how zombie politics can keep turning up on the political scene – a return not unlike the endless corpses who keep coming back to life in George Romero’s 1968 classic film, “Night of the Living Dead” (think of Bill Kristol who seems to be wrong about everything but just keeps coming back). For Krugman, a wacky and discredited right-wing politics is far from dead and, in fact, one of the great challenges of the current moment is to try to understand the conditions that allow it to once again shape American politics and culture, given the enormous problems it has produced at all levels of American society, including the current recession.

Part of the answer to the enduring quality of such a destructive politics can be found in the lethal combination of money, power and education that the right wing has had a stranglehold on since the early 1970’s and how it has used its influence to develop an institutional infrastructure and ideological apparatus to produce its own intellectuals, disseminate ideas, and eventually control most of the commanding heights and institutions in which knowledge is produced, circulated and legitimated. This is not simply a story about the rise of mean-spirited buffoons such as Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Michael Savage. Nor is it simply a story about the loss of language, a growing anti-intellectualism in the larger culture, or the spread of what some have called a new illiteracy endlessly being produced in popular culture. As important as these tendencies are, there is something more at stake here which points to a combination of power, money and education in the service of creating an almost lethal restriction of what can be heard, said, learned and debated in the public sphere. And one starting point for understanding this problem is what has been called the Powell Memo, released on August 23, 1971, and written by Lewis F. Powell, who would later be appointed as a member of the Supreme Court of the United States. Powell sent the memo to the US Chamber of Commerce with the title “Attack on the American Free Enterprise System.”

Indeed, you can see the puzzlement in Krugman’s words,

Call me naïve, but I actually hoped that the failure of Reaganism in practice would kill it. It turns out, however, to be a zombie doctrine: even though it should be dead, it keeps on coming. …

There’s a lot to be said about the financial disaster of the last two years, but the short version is simple: politicians in the thrall of Reaganite ideology dismantled the New Deal regulations that had prevented banking crises for half a century, believing that financial markets could take care of themselves. The effect was to make the financial system vulnerable to a 1930s-style crisis — and the crisis came.

Later, Krugman seems to answer his own questions,

Part of the answer is that there’s a lot of money behind them. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something,” said Upton Sinclair, “when his salary” — or, I would add, his campaign contributions — “depend upon his not understanding it.” In particular, vast amounts of insurance industry money have been flowing to obstructionist Democrats like Mr. Nelson and Senator Max Baucus, whose Gang of Six negotiations have been a crucial roadblock to legislation.

Of course, a major part of the problem also is that after two terms of Ronald Reagan and a term of H.W. Bush, the Clinton victory came with something called the “New Democrat” movement, the party’s own version one might say, of Reaganism. In fact, two major victories of Reaganism came in this period, the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act (repeal of Glass-Steagal Act) and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which allowed Clear Channel to put Rush Limbaugh and other propagandists and hate speakers in nearly every community. With the last few Congressional elections and the election of Obama, Democratic voters and activists didn’t get the Powell Memo. They thought they were getting the old Democrats they were most familiar with, not the “New Democrats”. They were voting for change.

As Progressives Knew, The Hard Right Supreme Court And the Judiciary Packed By Republican Presidents Wasn’t All About “Saving Babies” Or Stopping “Liberal Activist Judges”.


As progressives as well as civil libertarians knew, the hard right judges on the Supreme Court and America’s District Courts wasn’t so much about “saving babies” (Roe V. Wade) or “liberal activist” judges, but was about putting power in corporate interests and increasing power of the executive branch of the United States. But while you could argue with the myopic Roman Catholic Church (of which I belong) or the Christian Right all you want to about the Constitution, the fear of many Constitutional scholars and civil libertarians was further made reality with today’s Supreme Court decision. The judges the American right has been tapping into are from a group called The Federalist Society and not really associated much with the American Bar Association philosophically. They have believed in a “Constitution in exile” and believe that much of American legal development of the past 200 years has gotten it wrong. This group also pushes hard the “unitary executive” theories that played some part in the illegalities and stands of the Bush imperial presidency. In today’s ruling in Citizens United v. the FEC, the “corporate person” was granted the decision that its riches are “free speech” and is further solidified and protected from interference of flesh and bones persons when it comes to the American political process. The ruling can be read here.

The reaction to the decision by public interest groups was swift.

A coalition of public interest organizations strongly condemned today’s ruling by the US Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate money in US elections and announced that it is launching a campaign to amend the United States Constitution to overturn the ruling. The groups, Voter Action, Public Citizen, the Center for Corporate Policy, and the American Independent Business Alliance, say the Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC poses a serious and direct threat to democracy.

“Free speech rights are for people, not corporations,” says John Bonifaz, Voter Action’s legal director. “In wrongly assigning First Amendment protections to corporations, the Supreme Court has now unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in US history. This campaign to amend the Constitution will seek to restore the First Amendment to its original purpose.”

As the Tea Bag movement continues their fight against the “big government takeover” of the private sector as they march hand in hand with Alice in Wonderland, we in the reality based community who constitute the reality based fight against the corporate takeover of government must continue to do so with determination and resolve.