Posts Tagged ‘Tea Party’

Will Large U.S. Transnational Corporations Finally Carry Their Share Of The Weight In The U.S.? Sanders Fair Tax Amendment Passes The Senate budget committee. Our 2nd Follow Up On Tax Day Musings.

In “Tax Day Musings And The “Tea Party“, I cited ExxonMobil and General Electric as being our modern day East India Tea Companies for not paying federal income taxes in 2009. Also cited was the GAO report that showed 2/3rds of U.S. corporations did not pay any from 1998-2005. Well it seems Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has had enough and added an amendment to the budget for tax fairness in this time when the deficit has further been aggravated in the last economic downturn. It has passed committee. His office explains,

With the national debt approaching $13 trillion and a record-breaking federal deficit, the Senate budget committee on Thursday approved an amendment that tells Exxon Mobil, Bank of America and other large, profitable corporations that paid no federal income taxes last year that it is time for them to start paying their fair share. The amendment by Senator Bernie Sanders would enact a windfall profits tax on large corporations that pay no federal income taxes. There are many of them. One out of every four large corporations in the United States paid no federal income taxes in 2005 on revenue of $1.1 trillion, the Government Accountability Office reported. From 1998 to 2005, two out of every three corporations in the United States paid no federal income taxes according, according to the report.

Forbes magazine reported that Exxon Mobil was able to avoid paying taxes “with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi.” In fact, the most profitable corporation in the history of the world reported to the SEC that not only did it avoid paying federal income taxes it actually received a $46 million refund from the IRS. That is the same big oil company that had enough money to provide a $398 million retirement package to its outgoing CEO Lee Raymond just a few years ago. The same company is making its profits by gouging consumers at the pump by charging higher and higher prices for gasoline even when the demand is low and supply is high. That has got to stop.

Exxon is not alone. Forbes also reported that Bank of America paid no federal income taxes in 2009 and actually received a $1.9 billion tax refund although it reported a profit of $4.4 billion. That is the same Bank of America that had to be bailed out by American taxpayers in 2008.

Godspeed Senator.


A Follow Up To American Commentary’s Tax Day Musings. New Left Media Interviews “Tea Party” Members In A New Winner.

Following up American Commentary’s Tax Day Musings post is this interview piece from New Left Media’s interview of the participants of the “tea party” protests on tax day. New Left made waves with its interview with Sarah Palin followers some time back and gained notice worldwide including use of it in a show in Britian (follow the link to see how they reacted).

Tax Day Musings And The “Tea Party”

Now that tax day has come and gone, some interesting stories and facts have emerged. First is the report that multi-national U.S. corporations such as ExxonMobil and General Electric paid no U.S. income taxes again but paid them in other countries according to a Think Progress report titled, “ExxonMobil paid no federal income tax in 2009” which said,

Last week, Forbes magazine published what the top U.S. corporations paid in taxes last year. “Most egregious,” Forbes notes, is General Electric, which “generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion.” Big Oil giant Exxon Mobil, which last year reported a record $45.2 billion profit, paid the most taxes of any corporation, but none of it went to the IRS.

Think Progress is citing the Forbes story by Christopher Helman titled, “What The Top U.S. Companies Pay in Taxes” which goes on to say,

Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. Exxon has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas. Likewise, GE has $84 billion in overseas income parked indefinitely outside the U.S.

You see, they are the East India Tea Company of our time. The real tea party was about the East India Tea Company through the Tea Act of 1773 being allowed to monopolize the tea market to the colonies by exempting it from paying taxes on tea shipped into the colonies and from paying taxes on any excess inventory. The smaller tea merchants of the colonies did not have such an advantage and thus they orchestrated the Boston Tea Party where East India Tea Company tea was dumped in Boston harbor and was born the expression “no taxation without representation”. Somehow, I don’t think the clowns showing up at the “tea party” rallies have these facts and concepts in their minds. They unwittingly support the East India Tea Companies of today because the corporate money and allied politicians that are funding their “grassroots” movement have put an alternative reality in their heads, that being, instead of the influence and control these corporations have acquired over the American political process (culminating in the current Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC), they believe the exact opposite has occured and “big government” has taken over the private sector. The Think Progress report went on to note the 2008 Government Accountability Office report that 2/3rds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005. Given the current debt of this nation through these continual tax cuts at the top coupled with the “free trade agreements” that have led to lower household incomes, fixed higher unemployment rates and deregulation such as Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which led the way to the financial collapse (sorry lunatics, it wasn’t ACORN, Carter, or poor minorities and immigrants) and watered down regulation enforcement which led to the mining deaths from Massey Energy run by Tea Party member Don Blankenship, this recent tax news is particularly disgusting.

Second is the piece authored by Dave Lindorf titled, “Your Tax Dollars at War: More Than 53% of Your Tax Payment Goes to the Military” which states the folowing,

The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which has to be voted by Congress by this Oct. 1, looks to be about $3 trillion, not counting the funds collected for Social Security (since the Vietnam War, the government has included the Social Security Trust Fund in the budget as a way to make the cost of America’s imperial military adventures seem smaller in comparison to the total cost of government). Meanwhile, the military share of the budget works out to about $1.6 trillion. …

US military spending isn’t just half of the US budget. It is also half of the entire global spending on war and weaponry. In 2009, according to the venerable War Resisters League, US military spending accounted for 47% of all money spent globally on war, weapons and military preparedness. What makes that staggering figure particularly ridiculous is that America’s allies–countries like France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Japan–account for another 21% of the world’s military spending. Fully 12 of the top-spenders among big military-spending nations are either allies of the US, or are friendly countries like Brazil and India. That is to say, America and its friends and allies account for more than two-thirds of all military spending worldwide.

China, in contrast, probably the closest thing to a real “threat” to American interests because of America’s treaty commitments to the island nation of Taiwan, and China’s claim that it is a part of the PRC, spends only some $130 billion on its military, much of which is actually devoted to maintaining military control of the country’s own 1.3 billion people, some of whom might prefer to be independent, or to be freer….

Meanwhile Iran, which the White House and Congress are portraying as America’s arch enemy despite its not having invaded another country in hundreds of years, isn’t even on the list of the top 17 military big-spenders. Iran’s current military budget is a teensy $4.8 billion, about the same as the estimated $5 billion spent on the military by North Korea–America’s other “major enemy.” Each of those country’s military budgets is about one-quarter of the military budget of Australia, or a third of the military budget of the Netherlands.

Given that some estimates have put us having over 1000 military bases in 135 counties, this is all massive overkill that threatens the US with implosion not unlike what happened to the Soviet Union. This is the military industrial congressional complex that President Dwight Eisenhower once warned Americans about. When you throw in the no bid contracts that took place in Iraq, the information Judicial Watch gathered on the Cheney Energy Task Force had concerning Iraqi oil reserves and multi-national corporate interests interested in them in March, 2001, long before the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, it all draws quite an unspoken picture. And there isn’t much talk of the TAPI pipeline in Afghanistan or US installed Afghan leader Hamid Karzai once being a pipeline negotiator for the Unocal bid either.

And the last news item or story is that income taxes according to William Gale, co-director of the Tax Policy Center and director of the Retirement Security Project at the Brookings Institution in a CBS News Hotsheet report titled, “What’s Obama Doing to Your Taxes

are at their lowest level in 60 years. …

“The relation between what is said in the tax debate and what is true about tax policy is often quite tenuous,” Gale told Hotsheet. “The rise of the Tea Party at a time when taxes are literally at their lowest in decades is really hard to understand.”

Despite the facts, polling data in another CBS Hotsheet report titled, “Tea Party Supporters: Who They Are And What They Believe” the following results are noted,

Sixty-four percent believe that the president has increased taxes for most Americans, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans got a tax cut under the Obama administration. Thirty-four percent of the general public says the president has raised taxes on most Americans.

While the 34% of the general public believe the opposite of reality (which is in itself an indictment of mainstream corporate media), the numbers for the “Tea Party” are quite staggering. The cause is explainable though, as noted,

Sixty-three percent say they get the majority of their political and current events news on television from the Fox News Channel, compared to 23 percent of Americans overall. Forty-seven percent say television is their main source of Tea Party information, the top source; another 24 percent say they get Tea Party information from the internet.

Lately, there has been some effort in the mainstream media to legitimize the “tea party”. But let’s be honest for a moment. These people are nothing but low information voters driven to irrational anger by charlatans at the Fox News network and right wing radio as well as monied interests and right wing organizations to shut down dialogue and accountability for political gain instead of legitimate concerns. The fact many of them believe President Obama is not legitimately the president of the United States and doesn’t have a legitimate birth certificate is not rational or sane dialogue. The fact they call him a Communist, Marxist, Nazi, and Fascist likewise given that some of these things are quite opposite of each other. The fact they are calling the new Health Care Bill socialism while is it basically a copy of Republican Mitt Romney’s Health Care in Massachusetts, was patterned after a rendition of a bill written by AHIP and authored by a former health insurance executive, and is pretty close to the Nixon effort at reform should be enough to reveal these people do not live in a reality based thought process. If anyone should be mad at the bill, it should be liberals and progressives who were shut out of the process. And what’s worse, much needed regulatory financial reform is being sold to these gullible people in the “tea party” movement by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) as a “permanent bailout” instead of reregulation of the financial industry to make sure what happened never happens again. These liars and hate speakers on the right and complicit Republicans are playing dangerous games with the future of our republic. The fact that a basically conservative approach at reforming our health delivery system was met with madness and violent overtones and the recent arrest of Hutaree Militia members planning to carry out murder should be tampered down immediately and this movement discredited before more tragic results occur. On April 13th while eating at a local Burger King, I saw a man that was agitated and mumbling but with some discernable words concerning Chris Matthews of MSNBC and that he had enough of him and the lying liberals. He proceeded to get louder and louder and he began saying that all the liberals in this country needed to be killed (repeatedly) which started making others a little uncomfortable. I have a message for this man. Turn off Fox News, your radio, and seek professional help before you bring harm to yourself and others. And for those of you spreading the lies, hate speech, paranoia that is dividing my country, from the charlatans at Fox News, the hate speakers on right wing radio, to the Republican members of Congress encouraging this garbage, please stop and start helping fix this country’s problems you have helped create.

Suffer The Children. The War On Public Education. One School District’s Story.

American Commentary Blog Has Obtained Training Materials And Documents Of The Civitas Institute’s Training Of The Wake County School’s Board Of Education Through A Records Request Pursuant To North Carolina’s State Open Records Act. Material Includes A Civitas Institute Hit Piece On N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight (D-Dare County).

Education has long been a boogeyman of right wing politics. But the modern attacks on the financial well being and the idea of a free appropriate education for our nation’s children by the nation’s monied interests has its roots in the Powell memo recently revealed to much of the nation in the Citizens United v. FEC case. With the rise of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, anti-federal government rhetoric, and the rise of political based economics largely discredited previously by economists as “voo doo” economics, ideological and financial pressures have mounted. Income tax cuts at the top became prevalent and the Department of Education funding cut. This has produced strains on state and local governments to fund education more resulting in the rise of property taxes on America’s middle class. In economic downturns such as the one we have been in since 2007, the results are state and local governments become deluged in red ink with no cushion. For many who have memories before “Reaganomics”, there wasn’t these large property and local tax increases, lotteries, and such. With the Reagan revolution and the rise of Milton Freidman’s Chicago School of economics, there has come the idea that privatization is the model of the future. Privatization can best be described as getting rid of what is public and instead funding private interests as a replacement (through tax payer dollars or public debt usually accompanied with tax cuts, tax “credits” for private schools and/or inflating the money supply). However, private interests, more than not, conflict with the public interest and do not share the same goals. And with the ascendancy of the Bill Clinton presidency and the “Third Way” Democrats called the Democratic Leadership Council and its related “think tanks” who have controlled the national Democratic Party since, public education, teachers and teachers unions, and the concepts of a free and appropriate public education has fewer and fewer friends in government on the federal level. For readers interested in the travails of public education under the Obama administration, I suggest they read the online journal of madfloridian at the site, the Democratic Underground.

One school system had been defying the trends from the political parties, conservative court decisions, and the Reagan revolution through the years. That school system which has become the largest in the state, is the Wake County Public School System of North Carolina. Its diversity program was based on socio-economic factors and its success was accomplished with a magnet school program which helped draw diverse people into schools in different neighborhoods. It created diversity on every level, socio-economic, racial or ethnic, disability or ability, regardless of neighborhood demographic or location. One of its goals was to achieve no more than 40% of a schools population being dependent on subsidized lunches and allowed for even distribution of resources through all schools independent of neighborhood make up. Though the recent urban sprawl of Wake County since 2000 has caused around 30% of the schools to miss its 40% targets on subsidized lunches lately, the infrastructure remains. It survived the Gringrich revolution in Congress and challenges from the right by having a concensus among even the most staunch conservatives and most staunch liberals on the school board working together and being proud of the system’s diversity and educational accomplishments. In an article by Bob Geary titled, “Wake County goes to hell” in the Independent Weekly, this concensus was noted,

Indeed, the consensus was intact a year ago, according to Bill McNeal and Tom Oxholm.

Their book, A School District’s Journey to Excellence: Lessons from Business and Education, is a text for school officials and board members. Published early in 2009, it recounts how Wake’s schools, though not perfect, “gained national recognition for the quality of their educational program.”

McNeal, the African-American insider, was superintendent of Wake schools before Burns. Based on Wake’s achievements, McNeal was named “National Superintendent of the Year” by the American Association of School Administrators in 2004.

The article also went on to mention that Tom Oxholm was a Republican accountant that was elected in the GOP landslide of ’94 and was part of a group to show that the school system was wasteful with taxpayer money, but came to the conclusion this was not so and co-authored the aforementioned book. He determined the Wake School System was efficiently managed and was actually a bargain. He also cited the Wake County Board of Commissioners with chronically underfunding it.

So what has happened with the Wake County Public School System? What has happened is that the board elections in 2009 was sparsely voted on by only 4.5% of Wake’s voting population and that well funded right wing organizations took advantage of the low turnout numbers and the burgeoning extreme Tea Party to put a new majority in charge that is hostile to what has been the system’s goals for educating Wake County’s children throughout these years.

The new school board members swept into office in November of 2009 owe their success largely due to Raleigh businessman and former state Rep. Art Pope, a funder and organizer of right wing causes and “think tanks” along with the John William Pope Foundation named after his late father. According to a Sourcewatch profile, it provides the following information,

Art Pope is the president and vice-chairman of the board of directors for Variety Wholesalers Inc., and a director of the right-wing group Americans for Prosperity, which organized the Tax Day Tea Parties across the country, and which organized “town hall” opposition to health care reform in 2009. He is a member of the board of directors of the John Locke Foundation, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association.[1]

Sourcewatch also points to just how partisan and ideological Pope is due to his work to purge moderates from the Republican Party.

Such a highly partisan and ideological movement taking over non partisan positions such as the school board should bother Wake County residents who depend on concensus in providing its children the best opportunity at equal access to the best education regardless of background. As we look deeper into their proposals, the more parents and students should have concerns and apply scrutiny. As pointed out by Bob Geary in “Wake County goes to hell“, Art Pope joined forces with businessman Bob Luddy, and former state Rep. Russell Caps, president of the right wing Wake County Taxpayers Association to push the Wake Schools Community Alliance, a new group from which the newly elected board members came from. Geary noted that Pope believes public schools are inefficient monopolies, Caps is a fundamentalist Christian that doesn’t like evolution taught as widely accepted scientific theory, and Luddy started a charter school and two private schools, one of which Wake school board member Ron Margiotta is on the board of. He along with the new board members from the Wake Schools Community Alliance plan to take the Wake School system in a different direction. Wake County residents soon found out what that direction is.

On the website of the Wake Schools Community Alliance website, they claim that they are a non-partisan group. That begs the question, on what planet are they considered so? They are backed by the most partisan hard right Republican organizations and funders in the state of North Carolina and endorsed by the Wake County Republican Party chaired by Claude Pope. Since they have taken their positions and stated what they have in mind for the Wake County Public School System, chaos has ensued and has gathered national notice. They plan to scrap the diversity program (and its busing methods) for “community” based schools by creating community zones like other districts in the U.S. have taken in resegregating their schools. It should be noted also that the aforementioned political operatives and organizations that have backed the new members of the Wake Schools Community Alliance support more charter schools and even vouchers in the name of “choice“. At this point, one should ask who’s choice? When pondering if this is the right approach, one should know the history and background of the ideology. In the UCLA study titled, “Equity Overlooked:Charter Schools and Civil Rights Policy” as part of its civil rights project, the following historical points were made;

School choice is a longstanding concept with important early historical roots in the days of resistance to southern desegregation. Although eventually blocked by the Supreme Court, one early reaction to Brown v. Board of Education was to shut down public school districts and provide state-financed vouchers allowing white students to attend private schools (referred to as segregation academies). “Freedom of choice” plans, another popular southern resistance strategy, were versions of token integration. In what was often an atmosphere of violence, intimidation and virulent opposition, black students were given the opportunity to “choose” to transfer to majority white schools. These plans were used for years to effectively preserve segregation. In 1968, more than a decade after Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled in a case from New Kent County, Virginia, that “rather than further the dismantling of the dual system, the plan has operated to simply burden children and their parents with a responsibility be] placed squarely on the School Board.” Freedom to choose in New Kent meant that, three years after the strategy was adopted, no white student in the county had elected to attend the segregated black school, and 85% of the county’s black students were still attending all-black schools. Similar patterns were documented across the South.

In both vouchers and freedom of choice plans, educational choice was used in the aftermath of Brown as a way to circumvent desegregation.

During this same time period, economist Milton Friedman proposed a model for education reform, based on his economic philosophy, calling for the privatization of public schools. ”

The purpose of Wake’s magnet schools and diversity program was to create programs of academic interest that would draw in diverse Wake children into schools, primarily in the inner city, that might be normally left only to the disadvantaged and the poor without special programs and opportunity. Would neighborhood zones “zone out” children from this opportunity? And in the case of charter schools, they do not receive the same board oversight and requirements of other “public” schools and tend to be selective. There are also studies that show the privateers of these schools skimming off the taxpayers’ dime are not all that cost efficient either. And while the school board has said it plans to keep the magnet schools and spread them out (one presumes to their suburban supporters) it all defeats the orginal intent of them. But this is the direction the new board makeup has pursued and chaos has followed. Superintendent Dr. Del Burns tendered his resignation effective on June 30th. The board after meeting in closed sessions decided to put him on leave (with pay). The incident as reported by Kim Genardo, NBC17 at summed up the events,

It took three separate closed-door meeting and a total of more than four hours of debate to suspend Burns. The debate began after Burns expressed his view of the current state of the Wake County School Board to several local media outlets.

“I’m an educator, not a politician,” Burns said in a Feb. 18 interview. “And what I’ve observed is something I’ve not seen before: partisan politics at the board table.”

Margiotta explained Tuesday that Burns’ “choice to conduct these interviews was a poor decision and totally inappropriate in the opinion of this body.”

There was also the contentious meetings when the board voted on doing away with Wake’s diversity program such as the following from NBC17 titled, “NAACP Files Formal Complaint Against Wake School Board“,

At the March 2 meeting, Margiotta commented, “Here come the animals, out of the cages,” after witnessing the crowd’s reaction to congressional candidate Bill Randall’s remarks to the Board.

“The image of animals out of their cages is covered in the history of racism and ugliness and hatred in this country,” said the Rev. William Barber, state NAACP president. “We know what it means.”

An NAACP attorney, Al McSurely, questioned Margiotta’s educational background and referred to the members halting the diversity policy as “clowns.” Barber likened the board’s handling of the issues to a gang, a dictatorship, communism — and the Mafia. Margiotta is of Italian descent.

And there is this from a report by Mike Baker of the Associated Press,

The talk was angry, as terms like “segregation” peppered many arguments. A crowd of students sitting outside the doors of the meeting chanted so loudly that they briefly disrupted the hearing. Extra police officers were on hand to provide security.

Raleigh police said three men were charged with trespassing or resisting officers. One was released and two others remained jailed Tuesday night.

“Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Resegregation has got to go,” an arrested man chanted as officers placed him in the back of a squad car.

And there also was the partisan vote the board took to have the rightwing think tank, the Civitas Institute, to “train” the school board on how to run a public school system. The Civitas Institute is funded by guess who? It is funded by the John William Pope Foundation. The following post by Chris Fitzsimon at NC Policy Watch called. “Connect the rightwing dots” had this to say on the issue,

The staff members of Civitas are unabashed supporters of vouchers and tax credits. They fight efforts to reduce class size, oppose funding for early childhood programs for at-risk kids, and routinely call for less support for teachers and school administrators.

The chair of the Civitas Board is conservative businessman Bob Luddy, who just happens to have been the largest single indivdual contributor to the campaigns of the four members of the Gang of Five elected this fall. …

The Director of the Pope Civitas Institute is Frances De Luca, who used to run the North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the group that staged a rally in support of the new board majority before a December meeting.

Pope is not only a big contributor to AFP, he serves on the national board.

The AFP rally was led by staff member Chris Farr, the ex-wife of Republican lawyer Thomas Farr, recently hired by the Gang of Five to audit the school board’s legal expenses and provide other legal advice.

American Commentary Blog has acquired some of the Civitas materials used through North Carolina’s Open Records Act. The substance of this acquisition will be discussed.

The first training session occured on March 5th, 2010 and the material American Commentary has acquired is from this session. The following is a break down of the day’s presentations and I have added a profile of each presenter of the subject topics. The first topic that day was, “The Roles and Responsibilities of School Board Members” presented by Lindalyn Kakadelis. Lindalyn Kakadelis is the director of the N.C. Education Alliance, a project of the right wing John Locke Foundation. The next topic presented was “Employment Law and School Districts” presented by Doug Punger, Attorney Faw, Fogler and Johnson, Former Counsel with Winston Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Mr. Punger gained some notoriety for defending a generally anti-gay school board but otherwise served fairly amiably until he retired from his position from general counsel. What this means in terms of the board and the new anti-bullying law, time will tell. The next topic discussed was “School Finance: What a School Board Member Needs to Know” presented by Phil Price, Chief Financial Officer, North Carolina Department of Instruction. The final subject was “Parliamentary Procedure: Learning The Ropes” and was presented by Phil Strach, Attorney Ogletree Deakins, practices in the area of employment law and advises on questions of parliamentary procedure. It cannot go without mention that Phil Strach is legal counsel for the North Carolina GOP. He also represents management vs labor. That should bother teachers and aspiring teachers alike, especially since schools with higher standardized test scores receive more money and there seems to be a move afoot to fire teachers where school performance is lower. Since poor, disadvantaged and disabled kids typically score lower on standardized testing, teachers in resegregated schools with higher concentrations of these children would be paid less for tougher jobs and have their employment security at risk (which would discourage people from entering the field). This approach does not serve all of Wake County’s children nor the system as a whole. To scrap a nationally recognized system that serves the whole county and ranks above the national average academically so a few surburbanites can have smaller segregated neighborhood schools on the taxpayer’s dime that lack civil rights oversight while at the same time, inner city schools become crowded and less cost effective, seems to be a bad and risky idea. The documentation from this “training” session is only concerned it seems with employment law, parliamentary procedure to control and/or shut off debate, and on implementation accompanied by budget overview. Included was something unrelated to the job of school board membership, a story from the Civitas Institute’s “magazine” concerning state funds on a contract for Jennette’s Pier having been given to Clancy & Theys of which Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight’s (D-Dare) construction company has ended up a subcontractor for. I suppose in handing out this partisan piece, the sense of irony escapes them concerning their positions on charter schools and vouchers given the benefits to their cronies (such as Luddy). In fact, privatization and corporatism are what’s financially and morally wrong in today’s America. Below are samples from the Civitas training materials American Commentary received (not all are given due to volume).


Bricks, Bullets, Condoms, Threats, And Spit.

March 27, 2010 1 comment

Republican Response Weak Concerning America’s Unhinged Right Wing.  Cantor Even Plays Victim. Former Bush Speechwriter And The Neoconservative American Enterprise Institute Part Ways After His Candor.

The vandalism and threats over the Health Insurance Bill by stirred up extremists are starting to add up.  Let’s take a cursory look.  Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) must have thought he had passed through a time warp back to the days when he marched along side of Dr. King through the racist neoconfederate South of the 60’s for Civil Rights as he walked to Capitol Hill on Saturday, March 20th enduring the “N” word being shouted at him and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.  Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) was spat upon.  In an account at The Hill Rep. Lewis was quoted

Asked if racial epithets were yelled at him, Lewis responded, “Yes, but it’s OK. I’ve heard this before in the ’60s. A lot of this is just downright hate.”

Cleaver’s office issued the following quoted at The Hill,

“This is not the first time the Congressman has been called the ‘n’ word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans,” the statement said. “That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name calling and spitting.”

Homophobic slurs were hurled at Rep. Barney Frank by the Tea Party protestors. Bart Stupak the anti-abortion congressman from Michigan received death threats on his answering machine such as these reported by the National Post ,

The anti-abortion congressman who voted for the health-care bill, was called a “bastard and a baby-killer,” a “baby-murdering scumbag” and warned he would die “either by the hand of man or by the hand of God.”

. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn) was sent a condum with a typed letter saying

“Betty McCollum you’ve been dry f***** by the liberal party.”

and her office also received part of an American flag doused in gasoline and a letter addressed to her and fellow Minnesota Democrats Rep. Keith Ellison, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken which said,

“Each of you receives part of a shredded American flag,” the letter read. “It represents Obama and your liberal filth. Open the bag, it’s covered in the stench you’ve brought to our government … Because of you, we are now a country of dirt, shame, corruption and slime.”

as reported by CNN political ticker. CNN Politics also reports

Early Monday morning, a glass panel at the Tucson office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, was shattered, spokesman C.J. Karamargin said. It wasn’t clear how the window was shattered, but visitors have to go through a gated courtyard to enter the office, and staffers suspect someone may have shot a pellet gun at the glass, he said.


In upstate New York, two similar incidents were reported before Sunday night’s vote, according to CNN affiliate WHEC. A brick was thrown through the window of the Monroe County Democratic Committee headquarters in Rochester, and another was tossed through a window of Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter’s office in Niagara Falls early Friday.

There is the case of Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D-Va) brother as reported by The Cavalier Daily ,

The FBI and local authorities are investigating a severed propane gas line at the home of Bo Perriello, the older brother of Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Charlottesville. Officials have deemed the incident as a “deliberate act of vandalism,” which may have resulted as possible retribution for the representative’s vote in favor of health care reform, mistakenly targeted at his brother. ….

The attacks are believed to have originated with an Internet post by a member of the conservative Tea Party group, a nationwide political organization. Tea Party member Nigel Coleman posted Bo Perriello’s address on his Facebook page after the passage of the health care initiative, stating that he was not “holding back anymore!!”

There is also the case of road rage as reported by over an Obama bumper sticker, and cases of twittering threats and calls to violence as reported by and .

Congressional Democrats have condemned the acts of vandalism and violent inciteful rhetoric and called on Republicans requesting an appeal to their voters to tone it down. Republicans have only tepidly responded. First they have pretended that there is some sort equivalence of the Tea Party from liberals or “the left”. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn) was at the Tea Party protest in DC. Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va) went as far as to blame the victims of America’s far right thugs by saying that Democrats were (in a quote reported by the Washington Post),

“dangerously fanning the flames”

and then claiming he was a victim of malicous vandalism by saying his window at his campaign offices in Richmond was shot out. It turns out the window in question was not his, but the window of a political consultancy firm called Marcus & Allen. The report from the Sheriff’s office included the following:

that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window. The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds.

But one Republican decided to come clean and it isn’t any Republican in Congress. That Republican was none other than former G.W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, from the administration that gave America illegal preventive war, torture (against US and international law), wire tapping, secret government, an end to Constitutional guaranteed civil liberties, and an unpaid trillion dollar war which of course, makes the Republican and Tea Party movement rhetoric hypocrisy of the greatest order. In a written piece he did for CNN, he gave a view that the Health Care Bill was the Republican Party’s Waterloo, not Obama’s. In it, he said

I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes, it mobilizes supporters — but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead.

Now the overheated talk is about to get worse. Over the past 48 hours, I’ve heard conservatives compare the House bill to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 — a decisive step on the path to the Civil War. Conservatives have whipped themselves into spasms of outrage and despair that block all strategic thinking.

Or almost all. The vitriolic talking heads on conservative talk radio and shock TV have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination.

When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say — but what is equally true — is that he also wants Republicans to fail.

He also, has rightly pointed that the current Health Care Reform has had a Heritage Foundation connection. Also, in an interview with Terry Moran from Nightline , he said

Moran: “It sounds like you’re saying that the Glenn Becks, the Rush Limbaughs, hijacked the Republican party and drove it to a defeat?”

Frum: “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. And this balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.”

The neoconservative American Enterprise Institute of which Frum was a fellow decided it had enough of Frum’s candor and received a resignation letter from him after a meeting.

A former religious right leader turned Democratic voter, Frank Schaeffer, writing at firedoglake in a piece titled, “Republicans: Violent Losers” has summmed up the current situation with comparing today’s Tea Party movement and hate inspired media with that of the “patriotic” fascist movements of the 30’s and 40’s. In it he says and warns,

That day’s xenophobic and utterly ignorant Firster “patriots” lapped up the Lindbergh moonshine alternative reality. They also (like the Tea Party today) accused their President (Roosevelt) of “communism” because he opposed far right Germany. They too had their hate fed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh; in their day radio personality and fascist sympathizer Father Charles Coughlin…

The Republican leadership have literally gotten into bed with hate. And like all such bargains with the devil it was easier to begin their relationship with rube America than to end it.

Like Lindberg who lived out the rest of his life in ignominy — once we went to war with Japan and Germany — the Republicans will find little room to maneuver as the reality of the good that the health care reform bill will do sinks in with ordinary Americans. And if one of the Tea Party-type loons flies another plane into some federal building again – as recently happened in Texas to the IRS – and there is a huge tragedy, the Republican/Tea Party game will be over.

Either way: be it the next right wing act of domestic terror or the realization by the American public that the Republicans are just plain wrong on the facts; the Republicans are on their way down.

Ole Ole Olson at News Junkie has rightly called all this an “American Kristallnaght“. Another post by Cyrano at Democratic Underground sums up the thoughts and comment about this of a 90 year old holocaust survivor Cyrano visited while delivering supplies to elderly shut ins who said,

“The monsters never go away.”

To that, I say “Aye, ma’am. There be monsters out there. History recycles them and we have to live through their eras of darkness until we realize what is going on and decide they will not win.”

The Weekend Orgy Of Ignorance And Hate That Was The Tea Party Convention.

The convention of unhinged right wing radicals called the “Tea Party” concluded its facts be damned idiocy with it’s heroine, Sarah Palin, the one who gave us a “he pals around with terrorists” description of President Obama and “death panels” to scare the intellectually incurious concerning any reform of a failed health care delivery system, reading cheat notes written on her palm. One would think a speech to a movement built on repetition of words until someone believes you wouldn’t be difficult enough to require any cheat notes. But dignity may not have been required for a convention that had the feel of a rally for John Birchers, “Know Nothings“, white supremacists, and corporate manipulated Jethro Bodine types. Matt Taibbi had it correct when he said,

These are people who’ve been gouged for years by the deregulated banking, mortgage lending, and commodities trading business, and when Obama sends down very weak, watered-down regulations to deal with those problems, they howl that he’s against “private enterprise” because that’s what they’ve been told to think by the Glenn Becks of the world.

The convention had everything an ignorant frightened bigot could dream for such as thinly veiled racism and the “birther” movement, homophobia, McCarthyism, theocratic ramblings and a total misunderstanding of both Constitution and the flawed economics behind the recession. On its opening night, it had former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) CA., suggesting that Jim Crow type laws should be brought back such as a

a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country

probably not realizing the irony most in the convention hall probably couldn’t pass it. Of course all this was directed towards the group’s xenophobia of Latin American immigrants while calling tolerance of the cultural differences between people

the cult of multiculturalism

Tancredo went on to to express a McCarthy like favorite among rightwing types that the overly corporate friendly Obama administration was

a committed socialist ideologue in the White House … Barack Hussein Obama

which is a popular unreality in the minds of the convention attendees who’s minds have lost the ability to process information in a logic based manner due to rightwing media. He continued his ramblings by saying that this country was founded on a culture based on Judeo Christian principles whether people like it or they don’t and if you don’t like it, don’t come here and if you are here, go home. Would Thomas Jefferson have to “go home”? Afterall, Jefferson’s words would make him “unAmerican” by opinion of this convention with quotes such as,

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

And there is this from the treaty with Tripoli of 1796 which was written under the Presidency of George Washington and signed into law by President John Adams,

the government of the United States is “in no sense founded on the Christian religion

In fact, the Constitution of the United States does not mention “Christianity”, “Judeo Christian”, “Jesus”, “the Bible”, etc. which would be strange if the country was indeed founded on its principles. It is not mentioned just as corporations are not mentioned despite the hard right Roberts Supreme Court recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC that corporations are persons entitled to the Bill of Rights and that their money is “free speech”. The Ten Commandments Judge, Judge Roy Moore was also at the Tea Party Convention and said,

“[Obama] has ignored our history and our heritage, arrogantly declaring to the world that we are no longer a Christian nation. He has elevated immorality to a new level, setting aside the entire month of June to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pride. He now threatens to change our law to allow homosexuality in our military … He’s apologized to the Arab world for our past, subjugated our national sovereignty by bowing down to the king of Saudi Arabia. He has pursued a socialist agenda by taking control of private companies and pushing a national health care plan with a public option. …

They must read from a different Constitution such as the one the Bush Administration and it’s Dept. of Justice made up when they were breaking our laws and treaties.

Noam Chomsky said in a November, 2009 interview with Diane Krauthamer, the following,

So take right now, for example, there is a right-wing populist uprising. It’s very common, even on the left, to just ridicule them, but that’s not the right reaction. If you look at those people and listen to them on talk radio, these are people with real grievances. I listen to talk radio a lot and it’s kind of interesting. If you can sort of suspend your knowledge of the world and just enter into the world of the people who are calling in, you can understand them. I’ve never seen a study, but my sense is that these are people who feel really aggrieved. These people think, “I’ve done everything right all my life, I’m a god-fearing Christian, I’m white, I’m male, I’ve worked hard, and I carry a gun. I do everything I’m supposed to do. And I’m getting shafted.” And in fact they are getting shafted. For 30 years their wages have stagnated or declined, the social conditions have worsened, the children are going crazy, there are no schools, there’s nothing, so somebody must be doing something to them, and they want to know who it is. Well Rush Limbaugh has answered – it’s the rich liberals who own the banks and run the government, and of course run the media, and they don’t care about you—they just want to give everything away to illegal immigrants and gays and communists and so on.

Well, you know, the reaction we should be having to them is not ridicule, but rather self-criticism. Why aren’t we organizing them? I mean, we are the ones that ought to be organizing them, not Rush Limbaugh. There are historical analogs, which are not exact, of course, but are close enough to be worrisome. This is a whiff of early Nazi Germany. Hitler was appealing to groups with similar grievances, and giving them crazy answers, but at least they were answers; these groups weren’t getting them anywhere else. It was the Jews and the Bolsheviks [that were the problem].

While I agree with Chomsky of the dangers we currently live in, especially since the U.S. enacted its own version of the Enabling Act called the “Patriot Act” and suspended habeas corpus during the Bush administration, I’m not sure these people can still be reached without first somehow exposing the fraudulent rants of Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox “News” and the like as the crazy train seems to have already left the station. I’m reminded of the reaction to Galileo’s revelations in his time and his subsequent jail sentence. But I guess people who are educated and know reality must still try or lose all which is dear to us.