AlterNet.org: Mark Ames https://img.alternet.org/authors/mark-ames en The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying https://img.alternet.org/media/anonymous-blacklist-promoted-washington-post-has-shocking-roots-ukrainian-fascism-eugenics-and <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1068368'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068368" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Digging deeper into the PropOrNot controversy.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/8042224968_542781420a_z.jpg?itok=0wby7qHI" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Last month, the Washington Post gave a <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html">glowing front-page boost</a> to an anonymous online blacklist of hundreds of American websites, from marginal conspiracy sites to flagship libertarian and progressive publications. As Max Blumenthal <a href="http://www.alternet.org/media/washington-post-promotes-shadowy-website-accuses-200-publications-russian-propaganda-plants">reported</a> for AlterNet, the anonymous website argued that all of them should be investigated by the federal government and potentially prosecuted under the Espionage Act as Russian spies, for wittingly or unwittingly spreading Russian propaganda.</p><p>My own satirical newspaper was <a href="https://cpj.org/2008/06/englishlanguage-paper-closes-because-of-state-hara.php">raided and closed down</a> by the Kremlin in 2008, on charges of “extremism”—akin to terrorism—which I took seriously enough to leave for home for good. What the Washington Post did in boosting an anonymous blacklist of American journalists accused of criminal treason is one of the sleaziest, and most disturbing (in a very familiar Kremlin way) things I’ve seen in this country since I fled for home. The WaPo is essentially an arm of the <a href="http://www.alternet.org/media/owner-washington-post-doing-business-cia-while-keeping-his-readers-dark">American deep state</a>; its owner, Jeff Bezos, is one of the <a href="http://fortune.com/2016/10/05/jeff-bezos-americas-second-richest/">three richest Americans</a>, worth $67 billion, and his cash cow, Amazon, is a major contractor with the <a href="http://blackbag.gawker.com/amazon-is-the-scariest-part-of-the-cias-new-amazon-clo-1605847721">Central Intelligence Agency</a>. In other words, this is as close to an official US government blacklist of journalists as we’ve seen—a dark ominous warning before they take the next steps.</p><p>It’s now been a few days, and the shock and disgust is turning to questions about how to fight back—and who we should be fighting against. Who were the Washington Post’s sources for their journalism blacklist?</p><p><strong>Smearing a progressive journalism icon</strong></p><p>The WaPo smear was authored by tech reporter Craig Timberg, a former national security editor who displayed <a href="https://www.c-span.org/video/?323275-4/eric-schmidt-surveillance-national-security">embarrassing deference</a> to the head of the world’s largest private surveillance operation, billionaire Eric Schmidt—in contrast to his treatment of his journalism colleagues. There’s little in Timberg’s history to suggest he’d lead one of the ugliest public smears of his colleagues in decades. Timberg’s father, a successful mainstream journalist who <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/09/bob_timberg_was_the_bravest_man_i_knew.html">recently died</a>, wrote <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/09/bob_timberg_was_the_bravest_man_i_knew.html">hagiographies</a> on his Naval Academy comrades including <a href="http://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=2243CD7B-504F-4D0D-BF62-8EB2205E09B3">John McCain</a>, the Senate’s leading Russophobic hawk, and three Iran-Contra conspirators—Oliver North, John Poindexter, and Robert McFarlane, whose crimes Timberg <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1995/07/17/books/books-of-the-times-5-famous-men-and-what-they-learned-at-annapolis.html">blames</a> on their love of country and sacrifices in Vietnam.</p><p>WaPo’s key source was an anonymous online group calling itself PropOrNot (i.e., “Propaganda Or Not”). It was here that the blacklist of American journalists allegedly working with the Kremlin was posted. The Washington Post cited PropOrNot as a credible source, and granted them the right to anonymously accuse major American news outlets of treason, recommending that the government investigate and prosecute them under the Espionage Act for spreading Russian propaganda.</p><p>Featured alongside those anonymously accused of treason by PropOrNot, among a long list of marginal conspiracy sites and major news hubs, is Truthdig. This news and opinion site was co-founded by Zuade Kaufman and the veteran journalist Robert Scheer, who is a <a href="http://annenberg.usc.edu/faculty/communication/robert-scheer">professor</a> of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and former columnist for the LA Times. It would not be the first time Scheer has come under attack from dark forces. In the mid-late 1960s, Scheer made his fame as editor and reporter for Ramparts, the fearless investigative magazine that changed American journalism. One of the biggest bombshell stories that Scheer’s magazine exposed was the <a href="http://www.unz.org/Pub/Ramparts-1967mar-00029?View=PDF">CIA’s covert funding of the National Student Association</a>, then America’s largest college student organization, which had chapters on 400 campuses and a major presence internationally.</p><p>The CIA was not pleased with Scheer’s magazine’s work, and shortly afterwards launched a top-secret and <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/nsa-whistleblowers-for-dummies-ii/">illegal domestic spying campaign</a> against Scheer and Ramparts, believing that they must be a Russian Communist front. A secret team of CIA operatives—kept secret even from the rest of Langley, the operation was so blatantly illegal—spied on Scheer and his Ramparts colleagues, dug through Ramparts’ funders lives and harassed some of them into ditching the magazine, but in all of that they couldn’t find a single piece of evidence linking Scheer’s magazine to Kremlin agents. This secret illegal CIA investigation into Scheer’s magazine expanded its domestic spying project, code-named MH-CHAOS, that grew into a monster targeting hundreds of thousands of Americans, only to be <a href="https://pando.com/2015/05/14/lapdogs-redux-how-the-press-tried-to-discredit-seymour-hershs-bombshell-expose-of-the-cias-domestic-spying/">exposed by Seymour Hersh</a> in late 1974, leading to the creation of the Church Committee hearings and calls by Congress for the abolition of the Central Intelligence Agency.</p><p>It’s one of the dark ugly ironies that 50 years later, Scheer has been anonymously accused of working for Russian spies, only this time the accusers have the full cooperation of the Washington Post’s front page.</p><p><strong>PropOrNot’s Ukrainian fascist salute</strong></p><p>Still the question lingers: Who is behind PropOrNot? Who are they? We may have to await the defamation lawsuits that are almost certainly coming from those smeared by the Post and by PropOrNot. Their description sounds like the “About” tab on any number of Washington front groups that journalists and researchers are used to coming across:</p><p>“PropOrNot is an independent team of concerned American citizens with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including professional experience in computer science, statistics, public policy, and national security affairs.”</p><p>The only specific clues given were an admission that at least one of its members with access to its Twitter handle is “Ukrainian-American”. They had given this away in a handful of early Ukrainian-language tweets, parroting Ukrainian ultranationalist slogans, before the group was known.</p><p>One PropOrNot tweet, dated November 17, invokes a 1940s Ukrainian fascist salute <a href="https://twitter.com/propornot/status/799314450893438976">“Heroiam Slava!!”</a> to cheer a news item on Ukrainian hackers fighting Russians. The phrase means “Glory to the heroes” and it was formally introduced by the fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) at their March-April 1941 congress in Nazi occupied Cracow, as they prepared to serve as Nazi auxiliaries in Operation Barbarossa. As historian Grzgorz Rossoliński-Liebe, author of the <a href="https://cup.columbia.edu/book/stepan-bandera-the-life-and-afterlife-of-a-ukrainian-nationalist/9783838206844">definitive biography</a> on Ukraine’s wartime fascist leader and <a href="http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&amp;b=4441467&amp;ct=7922775&amp;printmode=1">Nazi collaborator</a> Stepan Bandera, <a href="http://carlbeckpapers.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/cbp/article/view/204/0">explained</a>:</p><p>“the OUN-B introduced another Ukrainian fascist salute at the Second Great Congress of the Ukrainian Nationalists in Cracow in March and April 1941. This was the most popular Ukrainian fascist salute and had to be performed according to the instructions of the OUN-B leadership by raising the right arm ‘slightly to the right, slightly above the peak of the head’ while calling ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ (Slava Ukraїni!) and responding ‘Glory to the Heroes!’ (Heroiam Slava!).”</p><p>Two months after formalizing this salute, Nazi forces allowed Bandera’s Ukrainian fascists to briefly take <a href="http://www.academia.edu/1314919/The_Lviv_Pogrom_of_1941_The_Germans_Ukrainian_Nationalists_and_the_Carnival_Crowd">control of Lvov</a>, at the time a predominantly Jewish and Polish city—whereupon the Ukrainian “patriots” murdered, tortured and raped <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/to-see-what-ukraines-future-may-be-just-look-at-lvivs-shameful-past-9178968.html">thousands of Jews</a>, in one of the most <a href="http://www.vintag.es/2016/10/30-shocking-historical-photos-of-lviv.html">barbaric</a> and bloodiest pogroms ever.</p><p>Since the 2014 Maidan Revolution brought Ukrainian <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26468720">neo-fascists</a> back into the <a href="http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/us-backing-neo-nazis-ukraine">highest rungs of power</a>, Ukraine’s Nazi collaborators and wartime fascists have been <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2015-05-19/nazis-triumph-over-communists-in-ukraine">rehabilitated</a> as <a href="http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/17459">heroes</a>, with major highways and roads <a href="http://www.timesofisrael.com/kiev-renames-major-street-to-honor-russian-nazi-collaborator/">named after them</a>, and public commemorations. The speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, <a href="https://ukraineantifascistsolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/who-is-andriy-parubiy-protest-uk-visit-of-ukrainian-politician-with-far-right-links/">Andriy Parubiy</a>, founded Ukraine’s <a href="https://www.channel4.com/news/svoboda-ministers-ukraine-new-government-far-right">neo-Nazi “Social-National Party of Ukraine”</a> and published a white supremacist manifesto, <a href="https://vk.com/doc-109759920_437182445">“View From the Right”</a> featuring the parliament speaker in full neo-Nazi uniform in front of fascist flags with the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol. Ukraine’s powerful Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/the-ukrainian-far-right-and-the-danger-it-poses/">sponsors</a> several ultranationalist and neo-Nazi militia groups like the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/11025137/Ukraine-crisis-the-neo-Nazi-brigade-fighting-pro-Russian-separatists.html">Azov Battalion</a>, and last month he helped appoint another <a href="http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Kiev-regional-police-head-accused-of-neo-Nazi-ties-381559">neo-Nazi</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/maxseddon/status/757496246802190336">Vadym Troyan</a>, as <a href="http://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-defense/2122205-interior-minister-avakov-introduces-new-acting-chief-of-national-police.html">head of Ukraine’s National Police</a>. (Earlier this year, when Troyan was still police chief of the capital Kiev, he was widely <a href="https://twitter.com/maxseddon/status/757496246802190336">accused</a> of having ordered an illegal surveillance operation on investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet just before his <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/20/ukraine-journalist-pavel-sheremet-killed-kiev-car-bombing">assassination by car bomb</a>.)</p><p><strong>A Ukrainian intelligence service blacklist as PropOrNot’s model</strong></p><p>Since coming to power in the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Ukraine’s US-backed regime has waged an increasingly surreal war on journalists who don’t toe the Ukrainian ultranationalist line, and against treacherous Kremlin propagandists, real and imagined. Two years ago, Ukraine established a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/19/-sp-ukraine-new-ministry-truth-undermines-battle-for-democracy">“Ministry of Truth”</a>. This year the war has gone from <a href="http://mashable.com/2014/12/02/ukraine-ministry-of-truth/#2dQFiEdwZkqH">surreal paranoia</a> to an increasingly <a href="http://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-attacks-on-journalists-media-landscape-press-freedom/27923284.html">deadly</a> kind of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/maxim-eristavi/terror-against-ukraine-s-journalists-is-fueled-by-political-elites">“terror.”</a></p><p>One of the more frightening policies enacted by the current oligarch-nationalist regime in Kiev is an <a href="https://myrotvorets.center/579804-spisok-zhurnalistov-akkreditovannyx-terroristicheskoj-organizaciej-dnr/">online blacklist</a> of journalists accused of collaborating with pro-Russian <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/01/opinion/ukraine-declares-war-on-journalism.html?_r=0">“terrorists.”</a>  The website, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/01/opinion/ukraine-declares-war-on-journalism.html?_r=0">“Myrotvorets”</a> or “Peacemaker”—was set up by Ukrainian hackers working with state intelligence and police, all of which tend to share the same ultranationalist ideologies as Parubiy and the newly-appointed neo-Nazi chief of the National Police.</p><p>Condemned by <a href="https://www.cpj.org/2016/05/hackers-lawmaker-put-reporters-at-risk-in-ukraine.php">the Committee to Protect Journalists</a> and numerous news organizations in the West and in Ukraine, the online blacklist includes the names and personal private information on some <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/12/ukraine-tries-to-terrify-journalists-who-cover-the-war.html">4,500 journalists</a>, including several <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/01/opinion/ukraine-declares-war-on-journalism.html?_r=0">western journalists</a> and Ukrainians working for western media. The website is designed to frighten and muzzle journalists from reporting anything but the pro-nationalist party line, and it has the backing of government officials, spies and police—including the SBU (Ukraine’s successor to the KGB), the powerful Interior Minister Avakov and his notorious far-right deputy, Anton Geraschenko.</p><p>Ukraine’s journalist blacklist website—operated by Ukrainian hackers working with state intelligence—led to a rash of death threats against the doxxed journalists, whose email addresses, phone numbers and other private information was posted anonymously to the website. Many of these threats came with the wartime Ukrainian fascist salute: “Slava Ukraini!” [Glory to Ukraine!] So when PropOrNot’s anonymous “researchers” reveal only their Ukrainian(s) identity, it’s hard not to think about the spy-linked hackers who posted the deadly “Myrotvorets” blacklist of “treasonous” journalists.</p><p><strong>The DNC’s Ukrainian ultra-nationalist researcher cries treason</strong></p><p>Because the PropOrNot blacklist of American journalist “traitors” is anonymous, and the Washington Post front-page article protects their anonymity, we can only speculate on their identity with what little information they’ve given us. And that little bit of information reveals only a Ukrainian ultranationalist thread—the salute, the same obsessively violent paranoia towards Russia, and towards journalists, who in the eyes of Ukrainian nationalists have always been dupes and stooges, if not outright collaborators, of Russian evil.</p><p>One of the <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-hacked-emails-of-dnc-oppo-researcher-point-to-russians-and-wider-penetration-154121061.html">key media sources</a> who blamed the DNC hacks on Russia, ramping up fears of crypto-Putinist infiltration, is a Ukrainian-American lobbyist working for the DNC. She is Alexandra Chalupa—described as the head of the Democratic National Committee’s opposition research on Russia and on Trump, and founder and president of the Ukrainian lobby group <a href="http://s.2124.pdf/">“US United With Ukraine Coalition”</a>, which lobbied hard to pass a 2014 bill increasing loans and military aid to Ukraine, imposing sanctions on Russians, and tightly aligning US and Ukraine geostrategic interests.</p><p>In October of this year, Yahoo News named <a href="https://twitter.com/AlexandraChalup/status/790616716678225920">Chalupa</a> one of <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/news/16-people-who-shaped-the-2016-election-alexandra-chalupa-171541199.html?soc_src=social-sh&amp;soc_trk=fb">“16 People Who Shaped the 2016 Election”</a> for her role in pinning the DNC leaks on Russian hackers, and for making the case that the Trump campaign was under Kremlin control. “As a Democratic Party consultant and proud Ukrainian-American, Alexandra Chalupa was outraged last spring when Donald Trump named Paul Manafort as his campaign manager,” the Yahoo profile began. “As she saw it, Manafort was a key figure in advancing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda inside her ancestral homeland — and she was determined to expose it.”</p><p>Chalupa worked with veteran reporter Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News to publicize her opposition research on Trump, Russia and Paul Manafort, as well as her many Ukrainian sources. In one <a href="https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails/emailid/3962">leaked DNC email</a> earlier this year, Chalupa boasts to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda that she brought Isikoff to a US-government sponsored Washington event featuring 68 Ukrainian journalists, where Chalupa was invited “to speak specifically about Paul Manafort.” In turn, Isikoff named her as the <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-hacked-emails-of-dnc-oppo-researcher-point-to-russians-and-wider-penetration-154121061.html">key inside source</a> “proving” that the Russians were behind the hacks, and that Trump’s campaign was under the spell of Kremlin spies and sorcerers.</p><p>(In 2008, when <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/mccains-kremlin-ties/">I broke the story</a> about the Manafort-Kremlin ties in The Nation with Ari Berman, I did not go on to to accuse him or John McCain, whose campaign was being run by Manafort’s partner, of being Manchurian Candidates under the spell of Vladimir Putin. Because they weren’t; instead, they were sleazy, corrupt, hypocritical politicians who followed money and power rather than principle. A media hack feeding frenzy turned Manafort from what he was—a sleazy scumbag—into a <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/paul-manafort-ukraine-kiev-russia-konstantin-kilimnik-227181">fantastical Kremlin mole</a>, forcing Manafort to resign from the Trump campaign, thanks in part to kompromat material <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/us/politics/paul-manafort-ukraine-donald-trump.html">leaked by the Ukrainian SBU</a>, successor to the KGB.)</p><p>Meanwhile, Chalupa’s Twitter feed went wild accusing Trump of treason—a crime that carries the death penalty. Along with well over 100 tweets hashtagged <a href="blank">#TreasonousTrump</a> Chalupa repeatedly asked powerful government officials and bodies like the <a href="https://twitter.com/AlexandraChalup/status/791280907021905921">Department of Justice</a> to investigate Trump for the capital crime of treason. In the weeks since the election, Chalupa has repeatedly <a href="https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10157855450785389&amp;id=614520388">accused</a> both the Trump campaign and Russia of rigging the elections, demanding further investigations. According to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/29/us-election-recount-trump-hacking">The Guardian</a>, Chalupa recently sent a report to Congress proving Russian hacked into the vote count, hoping to initiate a Congressional investigation. In an interview with <a href="http://gothamist.com/2016/11/17/russia_hackers_election_trump.php">Gothamist</a>, Chalupa described alleged Russian interference in the election result as “an act of war.”</p><p>To be clear, I am not arguing that Chalupa is behind PropOrNot. But it is important to provide context to the boasts by PropOrNot about its Ukrainian nationalist links—within the larger context of the Clinton campaign’s anti-Kremlin hysteria, which crossed the line into Cold War xenophobia time and time again, an anti-Russian xenophobia shared by Clinton’s Ukrainian nationalist allies. To me, it looks like a classic case of blowback: A hyper-nationalist group whose extremism happens to be useful to American geopolitical ambitions, and is therefore nurtured to create problems for our competitor. Indeed, the US has cultivated extreme Ukrainian nationalists as <a href="http://articles_0015.pdf">proxies</a> for decades, since the Cold War began.</p><p>As investigative journalist Russ Bellant documented in his classic exposé, “Old Nazis, New Right,” Ukrainian Nazi collaborators were brought into the United States and <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/seven-decades-nazi-collaboration-americas-dirty-little-ukraine-secret/">weaponized</a> for use against Russia during the Cold War, despite whatever role they may have played in the Holocaust and in the mass slaughter of Ukraine’s ethnic Poles. After spending so many years encouraging extreme Ukrainian nationalism, it’s no surprise that the whole policy is beginning to blow back.</p><p><strong>WaPo’s other source: A loony, far-right eugenicist think tank</strong></p><p>Besides PropOrNot, the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg relied on only one other source to demonstrate the influence of Russian propaganda: the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), whose “fellow” Clint Watts is cited by name, along with a report he co-authored, “Trolling for Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”</p><p>Somehow, in the pushback and outrage over the WaPo blacklist story, the FPRI has managed to fly under the radar. So much so that when Fortune’s Matthew Ingram correctly <a href="http://fortune.com/2016/11/25/russian-fake-news/">described</a> the FPRI as “proponents of the Cold War” he was compelled to issue a clarification, changing the description to “a conservative think tank known for its hawkish stance on relations between the US and Russia.”</p><p>In fact, historically the Foreign Policy Research Institute has been one of the looniest (and spookiest) extreme-right think tanks since the early Cold War days, promoting “winnable” nuclear war, maximum confrontation with Russia, and attacking anti-colonialism as dangerously unworkable. One of the key brains behind the FPRI’s extreme-right Cold War views also happened to be a former Austrian fascist official who, upon emigrating to America, became one of this country’s leading proponents of racial eugenics and white supremacy.</p><p>The Foreign Policy Research Institute was founded by Robert Strausz-Hupé and set up on the University of Pennsylvania campus, with backing from the Vick’s chemical company, funder of numerous reactionary rightwing causes since the New Deal began. And, as the New York Times <a href="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9405E3DA113CE53BBC4152DFB466838C679EDE&amp;legacy=true">reported</a>, the FPRI also was covertly <a href="https://www.evernote.com/l/AAE052VNt75EUJW4G5EmimLZKivctlQ15vo">funded by the CIA</a>, a revelation that would lead to student protests and the FPRI removing itself from Penn’s campus in 1970.</p><p>The FPRI’s founder, Strausz-Hupe, emigrated to the US from Austria in the 1920s. In the early Cold War years, he became known as an advocate of aggressive confrontation with the Soviet Union, openly advocating total nuclear war rather than anything like surrender or cohabitation. In a 1961 treatise “A Forward Strategy for America” that Strausz-Hupe co-authored with his frequent FPRI collaborator, the former Austrian fascist official and racial eugenics advocate Stefan Possony, <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=ZWAHmLuZeIoC&amp;q=catonic#v=onepage&amp;q=strausz&amp;f=false">they wrote</a>:</p><p>“Even at a moment when the United States faces defeat because, for example, Europe, Asia and Africa have fallen to communist domination, a sudden nuclear attack against the Soviet Union could at least avenge the disaster and deprive the opponent of the ultimate triumph. While such a reversal at the last moment almost certainly would result in severe American casualties, it might still nullify all previous Soviet conquests.”</p><p>But it was Russian propaganda that most concerned Strausz-Hupe and his FPRI. In 1959, for example, he published a three-page spread in the New York Times, headlined <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1959/09/27/archives/why-russia-is-ahead-in-propaganda-the-struggle-for-mens-minds-is-a.html">“Why Russia Is Ahead in Propaganda,”</a> that has odd echoes of last month’s paranoid Washington Post article alleging a vast conspiracy of American journalists secretly poisoning the public’s mind with Russian propaganda. The article argued, as <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/world/europe/russia-sweden-disinformation.html">many do today</a>, that America and the West were dangerously behind the Russians in the propaganda arms race—and dangerously disadvantaged by our open and free society, where propaganda is allegedly sniffed out by our ever-vigilant and fearless media.</p><p>The only way for America to protect itself from Russian propaganda, he wrote, was to massively increase its propaganda warfare budgets, and close the alleged “propaganda gap”—echoing again the same solutions being <a href="https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/hearing-confronting-russias-weaponization-of-information/">peddled today</a> in <a href="http://www.interpretermag.com/the-menace-of-unreality-how-the-kremlin-weaponizes-information-culture-and-money/">Washington</a> and London:</p><p>“[W]ithin the limitations of our society, we can take steps to expand and improve our existing programs.</p><p>“These programs have been far from generous. It has been estimated, for example, that the Communists in one single propaganda offensive—the germ-warfare campaign during the Korean conflict—spent nearly as much as the entire annual allocation to the United States Information Agency. We should increase the austere budget of the U.S.I.A. We should give our information specialists a greater voice in policy-making councils. We should attempt to coordinate more fully and effectively the propaganda programs of the Western alliance.”</p><p>A few years later, the FPRI’s Strausz-Hupe published a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1964/02/16/moviegoers-diagnoses-of-dr-strangelove.html">deranged attack</a> in the New York Times against Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr. Strangelove, calling it “the most vicious attack to date launched by way of our mass media against the American military profession”. The FPRI’s founding director went further, accusing Kubrick of being, if not a conscious Russian agent of propaganda, then a Soviet dupe undermining American democracy and stability—the same sort of paranoid accusations that FPRI is leveling again today. As Strausz-Hupe wrote:</p><p>“Anyone who cares to scan the Soviet press and the Communist press in other lands will note that it is one of the principal Communist objectives to drive a wedge between the American people and their military leaders. Mr. Kubrick’s creation certainly serves this purpose.”</p><p>Reading that then, knowing how the Soviet Union eventually collapsed on itself without firing a shot—and seeing the same paranoid, sleazy lies being peddled again today, one is dumbstruck by just how stagnant our intellectual culture is. We’ve never thawed ourselves out from our Cold War pathologies; we’re still trapped in the same structures that nurture these pathologies. Too many careers and salaries depend on it...</p><p>But Strausz-Hupe was the voice of reason compared to his chief collaborator and co-author at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Stefan Possony. He too was an Austrian emigre, although Possony didn’t leave his homeland until 1938. Before then he served in the Austrofascist governments of both Dollfuss and Schuschnigg, but left after the Nazi Anschluss deposed the native fascists and installed Hitler’s puppets in their place.  </p><p>Possony was a director and fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and according to historian Robert Vitalis’ recent book “White World Power” [Cornell University Press], Possony co-authored nearly all of the FPRI’s policy research material until he moved to Stanford’s Hoover Institute in 1961, where he helped align the two institutions. Possony continued publishing in the FPRI’s journal Orbis throughout the 1960s and beyond. He was also throughout this time one of the most prolific contributors to Mankind Quarterly, the leading race eugenics journal in the days before The Bell Curve—and co-author race eugenics books with white supremacist <a href="https://thinkprogress.org/nathaniel-weyl-79d3cf8a8b67#.25r8o5vkp">Nathaniel Weyl</a>.</p><p>So even as he was publishing aggressive Cold War propaganda for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Possony <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=mBTRCgAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PT271&amp;dq=%22Strausz-Hup%C3%A9%22&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwitvcq25svQAhVo34MKHXkiAbM4ChDoAQgsMAM#v=onepage&amp;q=%22Strausz-Hup%C3%A9%22&amp;f=false">wrote</a> elsewhere that the “average African Negro functions as does the European after a leucotomy [prefrontal lobotomy] operation” In other articles, Possony described the people of “the Middle East, Latin America and Southeast Asia” as “genetically unpromising“ because they “lack the innate brain power required for mastery and operation of the tools of modern civilization[.] . . .” For this reason he and Strausz-Hupe opposed the early Cold War policy of de-colonization: “The accretion of lethal power in the hands of nation states dominated by populations incapable of rational thought could be a harbinger of total disaster.” Instead, they argued that white colonialism benefited the natives and raised them up; western critics of colonialism, <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=mBTRCgAAQBAJ&amp;dq=%22Strausz-Hup%C3%A9%22&amp;q=strausz#v=snippet&amp;q=strausz&amp;f=false">they argued</a>, were merely “fashionable” dupes who would be responsible for a “genocide” of local whites.</p><p>As late as a 1974 article in <a href="http://www.unz.org/Pub/MankindQuarterly-1974jul-00032?View=PDF">Mankind Quarterly</a>, Possony was defending race eugenics loon William Shockley’s theories on the inferiority of dark skinned races, which he argued could prove that spending money on welfare was in fact a “waste” since there was no way to improve genetically inferior races. Around the same time, Possony emerged as the earliest and most effective advocate of the “Star Wars” anti-ballistic missile system adopted by President Reagan. The way Possony saw it, the Star Wars weapon was entirely offensive, and would give the United States sufficient first strike capability to win a nuclear war with Russia.</p><p>It was this history, and a 1967 New York Times exposé on how the Foreign Policy Research Institute had been covertly funded by the CIA, that led US Senator Fulbright in 1969 to reject Nixon’s nomination of Strausz-Hupe as ambassador to Morocco. Fulbright <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/26/world/robert-strausz-hupe-envoy-and-cold-war-stalwart-98.html">denounced</a> Strausz-Hupe as a Cold War extremist and a threat to world peace: ''the very epitome of a hard-line, no compromise.” However, he gave in a couple of years later when Nixon named him to the post of ambassador in Sri Lanka.</p><p>Today, the Foreign Policy Research Institute <a href="http://www.fpri.org/contributor/robert-strausz-hupe/">proudly honors</a> its founder Strausz-Hupe, and honors his legacy with blacklists of allegedly treasonous journalists and allegedly all-powerful Russian propaganda threatening our freedoms.</p><p>This is the world the Washington Post is bringing back to its front pages. And the timing is incredible—as if Bezos’ rag has taken upon itself to soften up the American media before Trump moves in for the kill. And it’s all being done in the name of fighting “fake news” ...and fascism.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1068368'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1068368" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 06:26:00 -0800 Mark Ames, AlterNet 1068368 at https://img.alternet.org Media Media World washington post How Ayn Rand Became a Big Admirer of Serial Killer https://img.alternet.org/books/how-ayn-rand-became-big-admirer-serial-killer <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1030931'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1030931" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The famed right-wing author found early inspiration in 1920&#039;s murderer William Hickman. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/ayn_rand.png?itok=xhwDKS1W" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>There's something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don't have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be so hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population that thought like this, but the U.S. is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?<br /><br />It turns out, you can trace much of this thinking back to Ayn Rand, a popular cult-philosopher who exerts a huge influence over much of the right-wing and libertarian crowd, but whose influence is only starting to spread out of the U.S.</p><p>One reason most countries don't find the time to embrace Ayn Rand's thinking is that she is a textbook sociopath. In her notebooks Ayn Rand worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of "ideal man" she promoted in her more famous books. These ideas were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America's most recent economic catastrophe -- former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox -- along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.</p><p>The loudest of all the Republicans, right-wing attack-dog pundits and the Teabagger mobs fighting to kill health care reform and eviscerate "entitlement programs" increasingly hold up Ayn Rand as their guru. Sales of her books have soared in the past couple of years; one poll ranked <em>Atlas Shrugged</em> as the second most influential book of the 20th century, after the Bible.<br /><br />The best way to get to the bottom of Ayn Rand's beliefs is to take a look at how she developed the superhero of her novel, Atlas Shrugged, John Galt. Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten with Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation -- Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, The Little Street -- on him.<br /><br />What did Rand <a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2233966">admire so much</a> about Hickman? His sociopathic qualities: "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," she wrote, gushing that Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'"<br /><br />This echoes almost word for word Rand's later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: "He was born without the ability to consider others." (The Fountainhead is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' favorite book -- he even requires his clerks to read it.)<br /><br />I'll get to where Rand picked up her silly superman blather later -- but first, let's meet William Hickman, the "genuinely beautiful soul" and inspiration to Ayn Rand. What you will read below -- the real story, details included, of what made Hickman a "superman" in Ayn Rand's eyes -- is extremely gory and upsetting, even if you're well acquainted with true crime stories -- so prepare yourself. But it's necessary to read this to understand Rand, and to repeat this over and over until all of America understands what made her tick, because Rand's influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means her ideas are affecting all of our lives in the worst way imaginable.<br /><br />Rand fell for William Edward Hickman in the late 1920s, as the shocking story of Hickman's crime started to grip the nation. He was the OJ Simpson of his day; his crime, trial and case were nonstop headline grabbers for months.</p><p>Hickman, who was only 19 when he was arrested for murder, was the son of a paranoid-schizophrenic mother and grandmother. His schoolmates said that as a kid Hickman liked to strangle cats and snap the necks of chickens for fun -- most of the kids thought he was a budding manic, though the adults gave him good marks for behavior, a typical sign of sociopathic cunning. He enrolled in college but quickly dropped out, and turned to violent crime largely driven by the thrill and arrogance typical of sociopaths: in a brief and wild crime spree that grew increasingly violent, Hickman knocked over dozens of gas stations and drug stores across the Midwest and west to California. Along the way it's believed he strangled a girl in Milwaukee and killed his crime partner's grandfather in Pasadena, tossing his body over a bridge after taking his money. Hickman's partner later told police that Hickman told him how much he'd like to kill and dismember a victim someday -- and that day did come for Hickman.<br /><br />One afternoon, Hickman drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High school in Los Angeles, telling administrators he'd come to pick up "the Parker girl" -- her father, Perry Parker, was a prominent banker. Hickman didn't know the girl's first name, so when he was asked which of the two Parker twins, he answered, "the younger daughter." Then he corrected himself: "The smaller one."</p><p>No one suspected his motives. The school administrator fetched young Marion, and brought her out to Hickman. Marion obediently followed Hickman to his car as she was told, where he promptly kidnapped her. He wrote a ransom note to Marion's father, demanding $1,500 for her return, promising the girl would be left unharmed. Marion was terrified into passivity -- she even waited in the car for Hickman when he went to mail his letter to her father. Hickman's extreme narcissism comes through in his ransom letters, as he refers to himself as a "master mind [sic]" and "not a common crook." Hickman signed his letters "The Fox" because he admired his own cunning: "Fox is my name, very sly you know." And then he threatened: "Get this straight. Your daughter's life hangs by a thread."<br /><br />Hickman and the girl's father exchanged letters over the next few days as they arranged the terms of the ransom, while Marion obediently followed her captor's demands. She never tried to escape the hotel where he kept her; Hickman even took her to a movie, and she never screamed for help. She remained quiet and still as told when Hickman tied her to the chair -- he didn't even bother gagging her because there was no need to, right up to the gruesome end.<br /><br />Hickman's last ransom note to Marion's father is where this story reaches its disturbing end. Hickman fills the letter with hurt anger over her father's suggestion that Hickman might deceive him, and "ask you for your $1500 for a lifeless mass of flesh I am base and low but won't stoop to that depth." What Hickman didn't say was that as he wrote the letter, Marion had already been chopped up into several lifeless masses of flesh. Why taunt the father? Why feign outrage? This sort of bizarre taunting was all part of the serial killer's thrill, maximizing his sadistic pleasure. But this was nothing compared to the thrill Hickman got from murdering the helpless 12-year-old Marion Parker. Here is an old newspaper description of the murder, taken from the <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=eB0bAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=QUoEAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=1179,3789194&amp;dq=hickman&amp;hl=en">Pittsburgh Post-Gazette</a> on December 27, 1927:</p><blockquote>"It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me," he continued, "and I just couldn't help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marion. Then before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly. I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. I knew she was dead. Well, after she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out."</blockquote><p>Another newspaper account <a href="newspapers?id=hzc0AAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=cvUIAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=6889,4516901&amp;dq=hickman&amp;hl=en">explained what Hickman did next</a>:</p><blockquote>Then he took a pocket knife and cut a hole in her throat. Then he cut off each arm to the elbow. Then he cut her legs off at the knees. He put the limbs in a cabinet. He cut up the body in his room at the Bellevue Arms Apartments. Then he removed the clothing and cut the body through at the waist. He put it on a shelf in the dressing room. He placed a towel in the body to drain the blood. He wrapped up the exposed ends of the arms and waist with paper. He combed back her hair, powdered her face and then with a needle fixed her eyelids. He did this because he realized that he would lose the reward if he did not have the body to produce to her father.</blockquote><blockquote>Hickman packed her body, limbs and entrails into a car, and drove to the drop-off point to pick up his ransom; along his way he tossed out wrapped-up limbs and innards scattering them around Los Angeles. When he arrived at the meeting point, Hickman pulled Miriam's [sic] head and torso out of a suitcase and propped her up, her torso wrapped tightly, to look like she was alive--he sewed wires into her eyelids to keep them open, so that she'd appear to be awake and alive. When Miriam's father arrived, Hickman pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him, showed Miriam's head with the eyes sewn open (it would have been hard to see for certain that she was dead), and then took the ransom money and sped away. As he sped away, he threw Miriam's head and torso out of the car, and that's when the father ran up and saw his daughter--and screamed.</blockquote><p>This is the "amazing picture" Ayn Rand -- guru to the Republican/Tea Party right-wing -- admired when she wrote in her notebook that Hickman represented "the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should."<br /><br />Other people don't exist for Rand, either. Part of her ideas are nothing more than a ditzy dilettante's bastardized Nietzsche -- but even this was plagiarized from the same pulp newspaper accounts of the time. According to an <em>LA Times</em> article in late December 1927, headlined "Behavioralism Gets The Blame," a pastor and others close to the Hickman case denounced the cheap trendy Nietzschean ideas Hickman and others latched onto as a defense:<br /><br />"Behavioristic philosophic teachings of eminent philosophers such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer have built the foundation for William Edward Hickman's original rebellion against society," the article begins.<br /><br />The fear that some felt at the time was that these philosophers' dangerous, yet nuanced ideas would fall into the hands of lesser minds, who would bastardize Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and poison the rest of us. This aptly describes Ayn Rand, whose philosophy developed out of her admiration for "Supermen" like Hickman. Rand's philosophy can be summed up by the title of one of her best-known books: The Virtue of Selfishness. She argues that all selfishness is a moral good, and all altruism is a moral evil, even "moral cannibalism," to use her words. To her, those who aren't like-minded sociopaths are "parasites," "lice" and "looters."<br /><br />But with Rand, there's something more pathological at work. She's out to make the world more sociopath-friendly so that people her hero William Hickman can reach their full potential, not held back by the morality of the "weak," whom Rand despised.<br /><br />Rand and her followers clearly got off on hating and bashing those they perceived as weak. This is exactly the sort of sadism that Rand's hero, Hickman, would have appreciated.</p><p>What's really unsettling is that even former Central Bank chief Alan Greenspan, whose relationship with Rand dated back to the 1950s, did some parasite-bashing of his own. In response to a 1958 New York Times book review slamming Atlas Shrugged, Greenspan, defending his mentor, published a letter to the editor that ends: "Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. Alan Greenspan."<br /><br />As much as Ayn Rand detested human "parasites," there is one thing she strongly believed in: creating conditions that increase the productivity of her supermen -- the William Hickmans who rule her idealized America: "If [people] place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite."<br /><br />Republican faithful like GOP Congressman Paul Ryan read Ayn Rand and declare, with pride, "Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism." Indeed. Except that Rand also despised democracy, writing that, "Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom."<br /><br />"Collectivism" is another one of those Randian epithets popular among her followers. Here is another Republican member of Congress, Michelle Bachman, parroting the Ayn Rand ideological line, to explain her reasoning for wanting to <a href="http://www.mspmag.com/features/features/166667.asp">kill social programs</a>:<br /><br />"As much as the collectivist says to each according to his ability to each according to his need, that's not how mankind is wired. They want to make the best possible deal for themselves."<br /><br />Whenever you hear politicians or Tea Partiers dividing up the world between "producers" and "collectivism," just know that those ideas and words more likely than not are derived from the deranged mind of a serial-killer groupie. When you hear them saying, "Go John Galt," hide your daughters and tell them not to talk to any strangers -- or Tea Party Republicans. And when you see them taking their razor blades to the last remaining programs protecting the middle class from total abject destitution -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- and bragging about how they are slashing these programs for "moral" reasons, just remember Ayn's morality and who inspired her.<br /><br />Too many critics of Ayn Rand -- until recently I was one of them -- would rather dismiss her books and ideas as laughable, childish, and hackneyed. But she can't be dismissed because Rand is the name that keeps bubbling up from the Tea Party crowd and the elite conservative circuit in Washington as the Big Inspiration. The only way to protect ourselves from this thinking is the way you protect yourself from serial killers: smoke the Rand followers out, make them answer for following the crazed ideology of a serial-killer-groupie, and run them the hell out of town and out of our hemisphere.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1030931'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1030931" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:08:00 -0800 Mark Ames, AlterNet 1030931 at https://img.alternet.org Books Books Media serial killer ayn rand atlas shrugged william edward hickman sociopath The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda https://img.alternet.org/visions/true-history-libertarianism-america-phony-ideology-promote-corporate-agenda-0 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Before Milton Friedman was earning plaudits as an economic genius, he was a shill for the real estate industry.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/greedy.jpg?itok=WMYED4TW" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>This is an adapted version of an article that first appeared on NSFWCORP. Published daily online and monthly in print, NSFWCORP is The Future of Journalism (With Jokes). For more features, <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/subscribe">or to subscribe, click here.</a></em></p><p>***</p><p>Every couple of years, mainstream media hacks pretend to have just discovered libertarianism as some sort of radical, new and dynamic force in American politics. It’s a rehash that goes back decades, and hacks love it because it’s easy to write, and because it’s such a non-threatening “radical” politics (unlike radical left politics, which threatens the rich). The latest version involves a summer-long pundit debate in the pages of the <em>New York Times</em>, <em>Reason</em> magazine and elsewhere over so-called “libertarian populism.” It doesn’t really matter whose arguments prevail, so long as no one questions where libertarianism came from or why we’re defining libertarianism as anything but a big business public relations campaign, the winner in this debate is Libertarianism.</p><p>Pull up libertarianism’s floorboards, look beneath the surface into the big business PR campaign’s early years, and there you’ll start to get a sense of its purpose, its funders, and the PR hucksters who brought the peculiar political strain of American libertarianism into being — beginning with the libertarian movement’s founding father, Milton Friedman. Back in 1950, the House of Representatives held hearings on illegal lobbying activities and exposed both Friedman and the earliest libertarian think-tank outfit as a front for business lobbyists. Those hearings have been largely forgotten, in part because we’re too busy arguing over the finer points of “libertarian populism.” </p><p>In his early days, before millions were spent on burnishing his reputation, Friedman worked as a business lobby shill, a propagandist who would say whatever he was paid to say.  That's the story we need to revisit to get to the bottom of the modern American libertarian "movement," to see what it's really all about. We need to take a trip back to the post-war years, and to the largely forgotten Buchanan Committee hearings on illegal lobbying activities, led by a pro-labor Democrat from Pennsylvania, Frank Buchanan. </p><p>What the Buchanan Committee discovered was that in 1946, Milton Friedman and his University of Chicago cohort George Stigler arranged an under-the-table deal with a Washington lobbying executive to pump out covert propaganda for the national real estate lobby in exchange for a hefty payout, the terms of which were never meant to be released to the public. They also discovered that a lobbying outfit which is today credited by libertarians as the movement’s first think-tank — the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)— was itself a big business PR project backed by the largest corporations and lobbying fronts in the country.</p><p>The FEE focused on promoting a new pro-business ideology—which it called “libertarianism”— to supplement other business lobbying groups which focused on specific policies and legislation. It is generally regarded as “the first libertarian think-tank” as <em>Reason</em>’s Brian Doherty calls it in his book “Radicals For Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern Libertarian Movement” (2007). As the Buchanan Committee discovered, the Foundation was the best-funded conservative lobbying outfit ever known up to that time, sponsored by a Who’s Who of US industry in 1946.</p><p>A partial list of FEE’s original donors in its first four years— a list discovered by the Buchanan Committee — includes: The Big Three auto makers (GM, Chrysler and Ford); top oil majors including Gulf Oil, Standard Oil, and Sun Oil; major steel producers US Steel, National Steel, Republic Steel; major retailers including Montgomery Ward, Marshall Field and Sears; chemicals majors Monsanto and DuPont; and other Fortune 500 corporations including General Electric, Merrill Lynch, Eli Lilly, BF Goodrich, ConEd, and more.</p><p>The FEE was set up by a longtime US Chamber of Commerce executive named Leonard Read, together with Donaldson Brown, a director in the National Association of Manufacturers lobby group and board member at DuPont and General Motors.</p><p><em>That is how libertarianism in America started: As an arm of big business lobbying.</em></p><p>Before bringing back Milton Friedman into the picture, this needs to be repeated again: “Libertarianism” was a project of the corporate lobby world, launched as a big business “ideology” in 1946 by The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. The FEE’s board included the future founder of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch; the most powerful figure in the Mormon church at that time, J Reuben Clark, a frothing racist and anti-Semite after whom BYU named its law school; and United Fruit president Herb Cornuelle.</p><p>The purpose of the FEE — and libertarianism, as it was originally created — was to supplement big business lobbying with a pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-economics rationale to back up its policy and legislative attacks on labor and government regulations.</p><p>This background is important in the Milton Friedman story because Friedman is a founding father of libertarianism, and because the corrupt lobbying deal he was busted playing a part in was arranged through the Foundation for Economic Education.</p><p>According to Congressional hearings on illegal lobbying activities 1946 was the year that Milton Friedman and his U Chicago cohort George Stigler arranged an under-the-table deal with a Washington lobbying executive to pump out covert propaganda for the national real estate lobby in exchange for a hefty payout, the terms of which were never meant to be released to the public.</p><p>The arrangement between Friedman and Stigler with the Washington real estate lobbyist was finally revealed during a congressional review of illegal lobbying activities in 1950, called the Buchanan Committee. Yes, there was something called accountability back then. I only came across the revelations about Friedman’s sordid beginnings in the footnotes of an old book on the history of lobbying by former Newsweek book editor <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/20/obituaries/karl-schriftgiesser-84-a-former-journalist.html" target="_blank">Karl Schriftgiesser</a>, published in 1951, shortly after the Buchanan Committee hearings ended. The actual details of Milton Friedman’s PR deal are sordid and familiar, with tentacles reaching into our ideologically rotted-out era.</p><p>False, whitewashed history is as much a part of the Milton Friedman mythology as it is the libertarian movement’s own airbrushed history about its origins; the 1950 Buchanan Committee hearings expose both as creations of big business lobby groups whose purpose is to deceive and defraud the public and legislators in order to advance the cause of corporate America.</p><p>The story starts like this: In 1946, Herbert Nelson was the chief lobbyist and executive vice president for the National Association of Real Estate Boards, and one of the highest paid lobbyists in the nation. Mr. Nelson’s real estate constituency was unhappy with rent control laws that Truman kept in effect after the war ended. Nelson and his real estate lobby led what House investigators discovered was the most formidable and best-funded opposition to President Truman in the post-war years, amassing some $5,000,000 for their lobby efforts—that’s $5 million in 1946 dollars, or roughly $60 million in 2012 dollars.</p><p>So Herbert Nelson contracted out the PR services of the Foundation for Economic Education to concoct “third party” propaganda designed to shore up the National Real Estate lobby’s legislative drive — and the propagandists who took on the job were Milton Friedman and his U Chicago cohort, George Stigler.</p><p>To understand the sort of person Herbert Nelson was, here is a letter he wrote in 1949 that Congressional investigators discovered and recorded:</p><blockquote><p>I do not believe in democracy. I think it stinks. I don’t think anybody except direct taxpayers should be allowed to vote. I don’t believe women should be allowed to vote at all. Ever since they started, our public affairs have been in a worse mess than ever.</p></blockquote><p>It’s an old libertarian mantra, libertarianism versus democracy, libertarianism versus women’s suffrage; a position recently repeated by billionaire <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/166421/ron-paul-wants-abolish-cia-his-largest-donor-builds-toys-it" target="_blank">libertarian Peter Thiel</a> — who was Ron Paul’s main campaign funder in his 2012 presidential campaign.</p><p>So in 1946, this same Herbert Nelson turned to the Foundation for Economic Education to manufacture some propaganda to help the National Association of Real Estate Boards fight rent control laws. Nelson chose to work with the FEE because he knew that its founder, Leonard Read, agreed with him on a lot of important issues. Such as their mutual contempt for democracy, and their disdain for the American public.</p><p>Read argued that the public should not be allowed to know which corporations donated to his libertarian front-group because, he argued, the public could not be trusted to make “sound judgments” with disclosed information:</p><blockquote><p>The public reporting would present a single fact—the amount of a contributor’s donation—to casual readers, persons having only a cursory interest in the matter at issue, persons who would not and perhaps could not possess all the facts. These folks of the so-called public thus receive only oversimplifications or half-truths from which only erroneous conclusions are almost certain to be drawn. If there is a public interest in the rightness or wrongness of corporate or personal donations to charitable, religious or education institutions, and I am not at all ready to concede that there is, then that interest should be guarded by some such agency as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, an agency that is in a position to obtain all the facts, not by Mr. John Public who lacks relevant information for the forming of sound judgments...Public reporting of a half-truth is indeed a significant provocation</p></blockquote><p>So in May 1946, Herbert Nelson of the real estate lobby, looking for backup in his drive to abolish federal rent control laws on behalf of landlords, contacted Read with an order for a PR pamphlet “with some such title as ‘The Case against Federal Real Estate Control’,” according to Karl Schriftgiesser’s book The Lobbyists.</p><p>What happened next, I’ll quote from Schriftgiesser:</p><blockquote><p>They were now busily co-operating on the new project which the foundation had engaged Milton Friedman and George J. Stigler to write. It was to be called Roofs and Ceilings and it was to be an outright attack on rent controls. When Nelson received a copy of the manuscript he wrote Read to say, “The pamphlet...is a dandy. It is just what I wanted.</p></blockquote><p>The National Association of Real Estate Boards was so pleased with Milton Friedman’s made-to-order propaganda that they ordered up 500,000 pamphlets from the FEE, and distributed them throughout the real estate lobby’s vast local network of real estate brokers and agents.</p><p>In libertarianism’s own airbrushed history about itself, the Foundation was a brave, quixotic bastion of libertarian “true believers” doomed to defeat at the all-powerful hands of the liberal Keynsian Leviathan and the collectivist mob. Here is how libertarian historian Brian Doherty describes the FEE and its chief lobbyist:</p><blockquote>[Read] would never explicitly scrape for funds... He never directly asked anyone to give anything, he proudly insisted, and while FEE would sell literature to all comers, it was also free to anyone who asked. His attitude toward money was Zen, sometimes hilariously so. When asked how FEE was doing financially, his favorite reply was, “Just perfectly.”... Read wanted no endowments and frowned on any donation meant to be held in reserve for some future need.</blockquote><p>And here is what the committee’s own findings reported—findings lost in history:</p><blockquote><p>It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Foundation for Economic Education exerts, or at least expects to exert, a considerable influence on national legislative policy....It is equally difficult to imagine that the nation’s largest corporations would subsidize the entire venture if they did not anticipate that it would pay solid, long-range legislative dividends.</p></blockquote><p>Or in the words of Rep. Carl Albert (D-OK): "Every bit of this literature is along propaganda lines."</p><p>The manufactured history about libertarian’s origins, or its purpose, parallels the manufactured myths about one of big business’s key propaganda tools, Milton Friedman. As the author of The Lobbyists, not knowing who Milton Friedman was at the time, wrote of Friedman’s collaborative effort with Stigler:</p><p>“Certainly [the FEE’s] booklet, Roofs or Ceilings, was definitely propaganda and sought to influence legislation....This booklet was printed in bulk by the foundation and half a million copies were sold at cost to the National Association of Real Estate Boards, which had them widely distributed throughout the country by its far-flung network of local member boards.”</p><p>There's no idealism here. The notion that libertarian ideas have captured the political imagination of millions in this country is a root problem: if we're going to escape the corporate oligarchy that is running this country--their ideas can't possibly be the alternative solution. This movement has to be recognized for what it is. </p><p><em>Published daily online and monthly in print, NSFWCORP is The Future of Journalism (With Jokes). For more features, <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/subscribe">or to subscribe, click here.</a></em></p> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:41:00 -0800 Mark Ames, NSFWCORP 1028745 at https://img.alternet.org Visions The Right Wing Visions libertarian milton friedman libertarianism Meet Former GOP Public Relations Flak Radley Balko, Now a Libertarian Crusader Against Police Militarization https://img.alternet.org/media/meet-former-gop-public-relations-flak-radley-balko-now-posing-real-journalist <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Radley Balko’s “journalism” career began as a marketer and seminar coordinator for Karl Rove’s and James O’Keefe’s college Republican recruitment outfit.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1369665346483-1-0_3.jpg?itok=dyTmkR6P" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>This article first appeared on NSFWCORP. Published daily online and monthly in print, NSFWCORP is The Future of Journalism (With Jokes). For more features,  <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/subscribe">or to subscribe, click her</a>e. </em></p><p><em>Editor's note: Scroll to the end of the article for a defense of Radley Balko by Bob Evans, a lawyer who helped overturn Cory Maye's  death penalty conviction. Evans says Balko's work was essential in saving Maye's life. </em></p><p>Just after George Zimmerman was found “not guilty,” Huffington Post reporter and Cato Institute <a href="http://www.cato.org/people/radley-balko">Media Fellow</a> Radley Balko <a href="https://twitter.com/radleybalko/status/356415626945888256">tweeted</a> out a false claim in defense of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law:</p><blockquote>"Media people: Stand Your Ground was not a factor in the Zimmerman verdict. Stop perpetuating this myth."</blockquote><p>A lot of Balko’s followers, particularly progressives and journalists, were baffled: Why would one of the foremost muckrakers on criminal justice abuse write something so obviously wrong and misleading? As Ta-Nehisi Coates<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/trayvon-martin-and-the-irony-of-american-justice/277782/">wrote</a>:</p><blockquote>"There has been a lot of complaint that "stand your ground" has nothing to do with this case. That contention is contravened by the fact that it is cited in the instructions to the jury."</blockquote><p>Coates quoted directly from the judge’s <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/153354467/George-Zimmerman-Trial-Final-Jury-Instructions">instructions</a> read to the jury:</p><blockquote>"[Zimmerman] had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force..."</blockquote><p>Balko was finally forced to retract after getting called out by ProPublica’s Justin Elliot and NSFWCORP cartoonist Matt Bors. But it left many of his progressive-minded followers baffled, and it was hardly the first time Balko had been called out for taking reactionary stances on the Trayvon Martin murder case. After going noticeably silent for almost a month after Trayvon’s murder, Balko twisted the framing around, <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/3a1ec9a8-2a26-43ff-965d-6feb536bc5b3/15f2a69be4f91c554a7d8d7f5ee9a3c5">tweeting</a> out in March 2012:</p><blockquote>"Sad to see a case of racism and police corruption/ineptitude/indifference being shoehorned to fit anti-self-defense, anti-gun politics"</blockquote><p>Many of Balko’s progressive followers, unaware of his long career inside the GOP think-tank network, have mistaken Balko’s criticisms of police abuse and the War On Drugs with a larger progressive politics; they’ve assumed he shares many of the same progressive assumptions they do. So every time Balko comes out with a pro-corporate, reactionary position — boosting for privatization and guns, defending Stand Your Ground, savaging Naomi Klein and teachers’ unions, or taking misleading and reactionary positions on the Trayvon Martin murder case — his progressive readers are left confused, but without a broader understanding of where Balko comes from.</p><p>In fact, Radley Balko’s current incarnation as a crusading journalist focused on criminal justice abuse is but a recent twist in Balko’s career as a GOP public relations flak.</p><p>After Balko graduated from Indiana University in 1997 with degrees in journalism and political science, he found work with Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute as its “Campus Journalism Coordinator.”</p><p>The <a href="http://bridgeproject.com/?transparency/organization/Leadership_Institute">Leadership Institute</a> is a Republican Party recruitment organization that describes itself as “the premier training ground for tomorrow’s conservative leaders,” whose goal is “to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative public policy leaders” through its numerous “journalism seminars.” The Leadership Institute’s alumni include Karl Rove, Rove’s fake White House press pool “reporter” <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/radley-balko-stands-his-ground/www.salon.com/2005/05/25/blackwell_9/">Jeff Gannon</a>, convicted criminal <a href="http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/the_leadership_institute_the_group_that_helped_lau.php">James O’Keefe</a>, and major GOP figures including Grover Norquist, Christian Right leader Ralph Reed, and Sen. Mitch McConnell.</p><p>A Los Angeles Times <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/print/2003/may/07/entertainment/et-johnson7">article</a> on a Leadership Institute-sponsored journalism seminar at a North Carolina college said it “bore little resemblance to a traditional journalism class” teaching students “how to start their own conservative newspapers and opinion journals. And how to pick fights with lefty bogeymen on the faculty and in student government.” The LI seminar grads’ ultimate goal: “to alter the basic makeup of the nation’s professional news outlets.”</p><p>At the Leadership Institute, Balko “marketed and recruited college journalists for LI’s two-day seminars,” according to his online resume.</p><p>This was how Radley Balko’s “journalism” career began: marketing and coordinating seminars for Karl Rove’s and James O’Keefe’s college Republican recruitment outfit.</p><p>Balko did something right: By 2001, he was working at the Cato Institute, the billionaire Koch brothers’ flagship libertarian think-tank in Washington DC. (Cato was originally founded in 1974 as the "Charles Koch Foundation.”) Balko’s job description at Cato: “Marketing manager for the Cato Institute” and “Managing editor of <a href="http://www.cato.org”">www.cato.org”</a>. His <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20020515134502/http://www.theagitator.com/resume.php">duties</a> included marketing “Cato’s studies, forums, conferences, scholars and publications,” as well as “forging corporate and association partnerships.”</p><p>Balko also landed a gig as a FoxNews.com columnist, riding with the incoming Bush Administration’s ideological tidal wave. At FoxNews.com Balko churned out crude rightwing pro-corporate propaganda, attacking government regulations, praising free-markets, boosting for Big Tobacco and the health insurance industry. A sample Radley Balko <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,106052,00.html">headline</a>: “Greed Makes the World Go 'Round.”</p><p>Balko wrote his FoxNews.com column throughout the Bush years, and from 2001 through 2008, one of his favorite themes was promoting the privatization of Social Security. That also happened to be the favorite theme of his employer, the Cato Institute, which had poured more resources into privatizing Social Security over more years than any outfit in DC. As Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post reported in June 2001,</p><blockquote>"The Cato Institute, a Washington think tank, has spent about $3 million in the past six years to run a virtual war room to promote Social Security privatization....Two members of Bush's Social Security commission, Sam Beard and former representative Timothy J. Penny (D-Minn.), are on a Cato privatization panel, and Cato staff members have been assigned to the Bush commission."</blockquote><p>Cato placed a former <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2005/03/siren-santiago">Pinochet minister</a> responsible for crushing labor unions during the dictator’s bloody reign, Jose Piñera, in charge of Cato’s “Project On Social Security Choice” (originally named the <a href="http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/orwell-and-social-security/?_r=0">“Project on Social Security Privatization”</a>). In 1998, former UN official Larry Birns of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs suggested that Cato’s vice president, Piñera, was a <a href="http://www.commondreams.org/pressreleases/Oct98/101998b.htm">human rights criminal</a>:</p><blockquote>“Pinera was the Pinochet dictatorship's labor minister at a time when the country's trade union movement was suffering one of its worst periods of repression....Pinera was a vital cog in the Pinochet dictatorship's ability to implement a draconian labor code. It is simply outrageous for the Cato Institute to have him as co-chair of its Social Security privatization effort. This is an example of crime without punishment and reflects the conservative organization's contempt for the suffering imposed on Chile's population during the Pinochet era.”</blockquote><p>In a 2001 column for Fox, Balko <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20070614063301/http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,41631,00.html">pushed</a> for Social Security privatization just as the Bush Administration, led by advisors from the Cato Institute, geared up for a major Social Security privatization campaign. Balko called Social Security “little more than a tax on laborers” and said that privatizing it would “benefit the poor” and “also benefit African-Americans.” In a 2003 <a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2003/07/28/fisking-tom-tomorrow/">blog post</a> headlined “Fisking Tom Tomorrow,” Balko described Social Security as “a fraud and a lie, a ponzi scheme that would be illegal if ever attempted in the private sector.”</p><p>Balko was still selling the Social Security privatization snake oil in 2008, after the financial markets were free-falling, and millions of Americans saw their private retirement savings disappear. In an October 6, 2008 FoxNews.com piece headlined, <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,433263,00.html">“Social Security Still Needs To Be Privatized,”</a> Balko wrote:</p><blockquote>"You think the stock market is risky? The federal government currently has obligations it will never be able to keep."</blockquote><p>That same year, he went after Naomi Klein in a series of blog posts for her book, "The Shock Doctrine":</p><blockquote>“Klein is really just astonishingly stupid. It’s telling that she waited until after [Milton] Friedman was dead to publish her ignorant attack on his legacy.” —<a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2008/01/02/milton-friedman-vs-naomi-klein/">January 2008</a> <br /><br />“In a just world, Klein’s book would have been recalled, and she’d have slunk off the national stage in shame. She is not a serious person.” —<a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2008/10/14/shorter-naomi-klein/">October 2008</a> <br /><br />“Naomi Klein, giant ignoramus, or the giantest ignoramus?” —<a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2008/07/22/if-cato-is-neoconservative-im-a-jelly-donut/">July 2008</a></blockquote><p>In 2010, Balko responded to the New Yorker éxpose on the Koch brothers by<a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/bcdb9497-8ce4-4b5f-a47c-5b4dd554bedb/c03fcef7fecf4d79c41cc9d57600fe2b">tweeting</a>,</p><blockquote>“I’d like to thank the Koch brothers for six years of funding my right-wing, corporatist work on police abuse and criminal justice reform.”</blockquote><p>Later in 2011, during Koch-backed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attack on public sector unions, Balko published a long <a href="http://reason.com/blog/2011/02/25/the-koch-brothers-right-wing-c">defense of the Kochs</a>, claiming they weren't interested in politics, and contributed mainly to civil society and the arts:</p><blockquote>“But though I’ve never met either of the Koch brothers, I suspect that like most libertarians, they’d rather avoid the unseemly world of politics as often as possible, where winning generally means forcing other people to bend to your will… They seem more interested in contributing to voluntary, civil society, by promoting ideas (yes, through think tanks and magazines like Reason), the arts, research, and by fighting particularly pernicious laws like the PATRIOT Act through the courts instead of through contributions to generally spineless politicians.”</blockquote><p>Balko’s right-wing views on economics issues were consistent with his views on key social issues, such as his opposition to affirmative action.</p><p>As the Iraq war heated up in 2003, Balko published inflammatory pieces attacking affirmative action in public universities, while supporting private universities’ rights to racial discrimination, citing Bob Jones University as an example. Even more disturbing, Balko in the same piece said he opposed the very existence of public universities (despite having graduated from Indiana U) — in other words, Balko <a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2003/01/25/a-few-thoughts-on-affirmative-action/">supports</a> a totally privatized university system, in which racially segregated universities would be allowed to operate unmolested:</p><blockquote>"If Bob Jones University wants to prohibit blacks from stepping foot on campus, I don’t think such a policy should be illegal... <br /><br />"There’s no need for public universities. But if you’re going to have them...I’m sorry, but you just can’t grant admission to one student and deny it to another for any reason other than merit."</blockquote><p>Later in 2003, Balko <a href="http://www.ideasinactiontv.com/tcs_daily/2003/05/the-road-to-howell.html">blamed</a> the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal at the New York Times on affirmative action:</p><blockquote>"Nearly everything about the Blair case came about because of affirmative action, or at least from the entitlement mindset that comes with support for affirmative action.”</blockquote><p>Ignoring the numerous examples of white journalists in plagiarism scandals (Stephen Glass, Jack Kelley, Mike Barnicle, Stephen Ambrose, etc), Balko blamed his own racist thoughts regarding the Jayson Blair scandal not on himself or his right-wing libertarian ideology, but rather on affirmative action programs and liberals:</p><blockquote>"What’s unfortunate — and what I’m loathe to admit — was my reaction when, a couple of days later, I saw [Jayson Blair’s] picture. 'He’s black,' I said as a foul thought emerged from the darker corners of my thinking: 'probably an affirmative action case.' <br /><br />"As it turns out, my first, more shameful conclusion was correct. Race had everything to do with this story — and not because bigoted people chose to exploit Blair to further some hateful agenda. Rather, it’s because open-minded, well-intentioned people used Blair’s race to put him in a position he wasn’t professionally prepared for. And in so doing, those open-minded people lent a bit of ammunition and a small sense of validation not just to hate mongers, but to those pestering, nagging thoughts about things black and white like the one that occurred to me when I first saw Jayson Blair’s picture."</blockquote><p>Balko’s disturbing views on race were not confined to his opposition to affirmative action. For instance, in a 2002 a blog post Balko <a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2002/07/14/seems-that-the-jesse-jackson/">accused</a> Jesse Jackson of “stirring up racial animosity” and extorting money from major US corporations. As proof, Balko <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20020806112338/http://www.commonsenseclub.com/Extra.html">cited and even quoted</a> from a white supremacist, anti-immigrant source, American Renaissance <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/american-renaissance">magazine</a>, recommending his readers do the same:</p><blockquote>“Read a detailed account of Jackson’s corporate shakedowns ... here, from a group called Common Sense Club."</blockquote><p>At the time Balko linked to the Common Sense Club, its “About” page<a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20020810012832/http://www.commonsenseclub.com/about.html">described</a> itself as:</p><blockquote>"The mission of the CommonSenseClub.com is to expand the readership of American Renaissance."</blockquote><p>On the same “About” page, the Common Sense Club warned readers:</p><blockquote>"Besides the extra tax burden on white Americans, and soaring insurance rates of all kinds, etc., there is the far greater cost of ever expanding legal discrimination against whites in the form of 'affirmative action.'" <br /><br />"Affirmative action has now been expanded from its original clientele of American-born blacks to include virtually all non-whites… so that now non-whites fresh off the boat receive preferences over the children of whites who have been here for generations" <br /><br />"Nearly one million Arabs— nearly all of whom have arrived since 1965— now live in America, and are lobbying for racial preferences."</blockquote><p>The article that Balko linked to and quoted was taken from American Renaissance magazine’s “Extra!” section in its March 2001 issue, which begins with the attack on Jesse Jackson Balko cited as proof Jackson is a racial extortionist. On the same page Balko linked to, there were further claims that “young black men are particularly murderous” and “immigrants continue to bring tuberculosis,” along with praise for an “excellent and comprehensive” racial eugenics book by Arthur Jensen, and a piece arguing that the happiest Americans are whites who live in the purest-white regions of the country.</p><p>By the end of 2004, Balko was listed as a Cato Institute “policy analyst.” One of his jobs: lobbying for Big Tobacco interests. Cato’s major donors have included Philip Morris, British-American Tobacco, and RJ Reynolds; secret tobacco industry documents leaked in the late 1990s <a href="http://tobaccodocuments.org/usc_tim/2022887066-7072.html">revealed</a> the Cato Institute’s covert role as a <a href="http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/iqg76c00/pdf">“National Ally”</a> of the tobacco lobby, and Cato executives including <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/53c1eed8-c87c-45a0-93e3-200f1148a7a0/6c12fc5634a9d00913c10b2bf969a94c">Ed Crane</a>, Robert Levy and Tim Lynch shamelessly<a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/08bb507a-7ce4-463c-9fb5-e1f6a992543e/599ae64703e4b408eca52dc68e0d002f">groveling</a> to tobacco executives for donations while selling Cato’s willingness to shill for their interests.</p><p>In 2004, Balko exploited America’s terrorism fears to <a href="http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2004/06/01/chicago-cigarette-tax-hike-opens-door-real-vice">argue</a> that hiking taxes on cigarettes would help Hezbollah and other terrorists:</p><blockquote>The tax hike might also mean … an invigorated black market for cigarettes, an increase in the crime and menace that come with black markets, and a growing presence of international terrorist organizations that fund themselves with bootlegged cigarettes.</blockquote><p>The following year, without disclosing his employers’ ties to tobacco companies, Balko <a href="http://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/radley-balkos-dc-city-council-testimony">testified</a> against a smoking ban in workplaces before the District of Columbia City Council, arguing that the smoking ban would be tantamount to fascism:</p><blockquote>“This isn’t about worker’s rights. The idea that the Washington, D.C. city council is banning public smoking to benefit the city’s waiters, waitresses and bartenders is a canard. There are countless jobs and professions that are far more dangerous than serving food or drink in the presence of secondhand smoke….The health risks associated with secondhand smoke are debatable.”</blockquote><p>Balko then went on a conspiratorial rant, alleging that smoking bans were a conspiracy by “healthists” determined to make everyone live like they do, “by force, if necessary.” Balko concluded by warning the lone DC council member who stuck around to listen to his horseshit (eight of the nine council members walked out):</p><blockquote>“I’d urge the D.C. city council to resist this tide of tyrannical healthism.”</blockquote><p>Tobacco <a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/">kills</a> nearly 6 million people a year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.</p><p>The same year Balko lobbied against DC’s smoking ban, Balko ran <a href="http://www.spurlockwatch.typepad.com/">“Morgan Spurlock Watch,”</a> a website attacking Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “Super Size Me” — which Balko called a <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/radley-balko-stands-his-ground/%E2%80%9Chttp://www.foxnews.com/story/2005/08/16/spurlock-food-scare-super-size-scam/%E2%80%9D">“scam”</a> — defending the fast food industry and Big Agro. The website was an extension of the “policy analysis” work he was doing for the Cato Institute, which has been a longtime promoter of Big Agro and restaurant industry interests, running articles with headlines like <a href="http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/2008/9/v31n3-final.pdf">“Food Apartheid”</a> and <a href="http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/happy-meal-ban-is-nothing-smile-about">“A Happy Meal Ban Is Nothing To Smile About.”</a> Balko explained why he set up the anti-Spurlock website: “[Spurlock is] consumed by a loathing of business and capitalism – to the point of refusing to allow accuracy to get in the way of making his point. And I think someone needs to hold him accountable.”</p><p>Balko’s pro-fast food industry PR repeatedly <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2002/dec/09/opinion/oe-balko9">cited</a> and <a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2005/05/31/time-for-change-at-the-cdc/">relied</a> on propaganda published by the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) — <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Center_for_Consumer_Freedom">a front-group</a> for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries created by notorious PR man Rick Berman, whom “60 Minutes” <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-2653020.html">called</a> “Dr. Evil.” Balko quoted “evidence” from Berman’s CCF on numerous occasions, and <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/radley-balko-stands-his-ground/%E2%80%9Chttp://www.theagitator.com/2003/01/06/the-road-to-prohibition/#comment-15117”">encouraged</a> his followers to read CCF propaganda.</p><p>A few months after setting up “Morgan Spurlock Watch,” Balko <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/53ae0930-3b5e-4aa8-9778-9e0aafdf6d04/72766a62037dbd3f485700229c50e5c2">took on</a> a cause that he has since become known for, overshadowing nearly all of his other right-wing propaganda: The Mississippi death-row murder case of Cory Maye, convicted of shooting a policeman to death during a drug raid. Maye had pled “not guilty” on “self-defense” — he claimed the police, who had come with a warrant, burst into his apartment without announcing themselves, and that he shot the officer in the dark, unaware he was a cop.</p><p>Balko and <a href="http://www.cato.org/blog/cato-policy-analyst-who-may-have-saved-mans-life">his employers</a> have heavily promoted a narrative giving the Cato Institute employee enormous credit for “saving a man’s life” — a rather tawdry and shameless bit of self-promotion that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. It is largely because of Balko’s alleged role in freeing Maye, an African-American, that some people were shocked and puzzled by his claims about the George Zimmerman murder case. In fact, Balko’s positions in both cases is consistent: Both times, Balko aligned with the side of “Stand Your Ground” and self-defense laws.</p><p>Cory Maye shot and killed Mississippi K9 officer Ron Jones in 2001, and was sentenced to die by lethal injection in January 2004 after the judge and jury rejected Maye’s self-defense argument. Balko took up Maye’s cause in December 2005, nearly two years after Maye was sentenced to death. Balko’s interest <a href="http://www.southreporter.com/2006/wk3/self-defense.html">coincided</a> with a new <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/stand-your-ground-map">ALEC model</a> “Stand Your Ground” bill in<a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20060907093911/http://www.nraila.org/News/Read/Releases.aspx?ID=7057">Mississippi’s legislature</a>, part of a major SYG push in several states in late 2005 and early 2006. The Cato Institute has been a vigorous <a href="http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/stand-ground-not-responsible-trayvon-martins-death">defender</a> of “Stand Your Ground” laws and an <a href="http://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/more-guns-less-crime-understanding-crime-gun-control-laws">opponent</a> of gun control. ALEC’s ties to the Koch brothers have been <a href="http://www.thenation.com/blog/165077/koch-brothers-alec-and-savage-assault-democracy#">well-documented</a>.</p><p>Balko took up Cory Maye’s cause for Cato at the same time that Eric Holder’s law firm Covington &amp; Burling swooped in with half a dozen lawyers and took over Maye’s defense. On March 6, 2006, the AP <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/987cc935-931f-41ec-ae49-c85d39cdd52f/3898e966265d45ebe9603e530a6a3c0d">reported</a> on the significance of Maye’s case for the new ALEC-sponsored “Stand Your Ground” bill in the Mississippi legislature:</p><blockquote>"Radley Balko, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute in Washington and a biweekly columnist for FoxNews.com, has taken up Maye’s cause. <br /><br />"…'The state of Mississippi is about to add a perverse twist to that violation by executing Maye for daring to defend himself.' <br /><br />"The case is all the more relevant now, as lawmakers consider measures that would broaden the right for citizens to kill intruders. <br /><br />"Currently it is legal for Mississippians to defend themselves from intruders who they believe will do them 'some great personal injury.' <br /><br />"Two bills before the state Senate and the House would expand that right to include a citizen’s place of employment, businesses and vehicles."</blockquote><p>Covington &amp; Burling’s lawyers <a href="http://www.cov.com/news/detail.aspx?news=1645">succeeded</a> in overturning Maye’s conviction on the grounds that the judge had not properly instructed the jury about Maye’s right to shoot in self-defense — thereby saving not only Maye’s life, but also the legal viability of Mississippi’s new “Stand Your Ground” law, which passed in 2006.</p><p>Today, Covington &amp; Burling’s role — and that of the half-dozen lawyers assigned to Maye’s defense pro bono — is all but forgotten, while Balko’s role blogging about Maye has been turned into legend, on forums like his own Huffington Post bio page:</p><blockquote>“His reporting on the Cory Maye case, in which Maye mistakenly killed a police officer in a mistaken drug raid, helped Maye get off death row and win a new trial. Maye was finally released in July 2011.”</blockquote><p>On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 16-year-old African American, was shot to death while walking home by an armed vigilante waffentwerp named George Zimmerman. The Trayvon murder quickly went national as word spread that his killer was not charged due to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law — the law that became ALEC’s model “Stand Your Ground” law passed in scores of other states, including Mississippi. As the Trayvon murder dominated headlines, Balko’s readers were puzzled by his unusual silence, given his focus on criminal justice system abuse and the Cory Maye case, where he “saved a man’s life.”</p><p>Nearly a month after Trayvon’s murder, Balko finally <a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2012/03/22/trayvon-martin/">broke his silence</a>:</p><blockquote>"I’ve received quite a few emails, Tweets, and comments asking why I haven’t yet written on the Trayvon Martin case. These have ranged from polite inquiries as to what I think about the case, to not-so-subtle implications about what my “conspicuous silence” says about me, to demands that I drop everything and investigate, to a weird rush of emails a couple days ago screaming (as much as an email can scream) that I haven’t covered the case because Martin is black and I only care about the civil liberties of white people. Given the narrow time window in which that last batch of emails arrived, I’m fairly sure they all came from the same blog post or discussion board, though I wasn’t able (and didn’t put up much of an effort) to track down the source."</blockquote><p>Balko offered a series of excuses, including: “I’m working on a number of other projects that I can’t just drop in order to jump into another story,” “I’m writing a book,” “I also do occasionally enjoy doing things that aren’t work-related,” and “it doesn’t appear to involve any issues about which I have some specific expertise…”</p><p>And yet Balko did have a lot to say about the case: He <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/3a1ec9a8-2a26-43ff-965d-6feb536bc5b3/15f2a69be4f91c554a7d8d7f5ee9a3c5">accused</a> Trayvon supporters of “shoehorning” the case “to fit anti-self-defense, anti-gun politics”; <a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2012/04/16/the-zimmerman-indictment-reactions/">declared</a> “I’m not yet convinced [Zimmerman] committed a crime”; and <a href="http://www.theagitator.com/2012/04/16/the-zimmerman-indictment-reactions/">savaged</a> the prosecutor who finally brought charges because she met with the Martin family and prayed with them:</p><blockquote>"I find the idea of a prosecutor praying with a victim’s family off-putting in general. But it’s particularly troubling in this case... <br /><br />"...By meeting with Martin’s family, praying with them, and implying in her press conference that she immediately saw them as the victim’s family, she gave the impression that she had made up her mind before she started investigating. And her weak indictment did little to vindicate her of that notion."</blockquote><p>After Zimmerman was found “not guilty” by a jury instructed to rule based on the “Stand Your Ground” law’s narrow language, Balko waged a <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/7d9bc558-95b3-441e-b4ff-56a22b76ca13/83668d73d02723ccc5f442d55973f551">misleading defense</a> of “Stand Your Ground” falsely claiming, “Stand Your Ground was not a factor in the Zimmerman verdict.”</p><p>His newer readers, many of them progressives unaware of Balko’s past, were confused; had they been following Balko’s career, they would have seen that his politics have been consistent since his first columns for FoxNews.com and the Cato Institute over a decade ago.</p><p>Even in the policy area where progressives have lined up with Balko, his solutions are extreme: Balko supports <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/d0002c16-9d41-4f0d-96ce-3ff1eec7aacc/922918b67aabf4cd362fd05f3bb8d2a8?noteKey=922918b67aabf4cd362fd05f3bb8d2a8&amp;noteGuid=d0002c16-9d41-4f0d-96ce-3ff1eec7aacc">privatizing juries</a>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/14/the-case-for-private-crime-labs_n_876963.html">privatizing criminal labs</a>, and believes that the solution to America's high incarceration rate is, and we quote: <a href="http://reason.com/archives/2010/10/25/more-democracy-more-incarcerat">"less democracy."</a></p><p><em>To read more about Radley Balko and other covert media shills, check out <a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/radley-balko/">The Shame Project</a>. And to read perhaps one of the most colossal corrections you'll see in a major newspaper, scroll to the bottom of a <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323848804578608040780519904.html">recent article by Balko in the Wall St. Journal</a>. </em></p><p><em>This article first appeared on NSFWCORP. Published daily online and monthly in print, NSFWCORP is The Future of Journalism (With Jokes). For more features,  <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/subscribe">or to subscribe, click here.</a></em></p><strong><em>The following is a defense of Radley Balko that AlterNet recieved from Bob Evans, a lawyer in the Cory Maye death penalty case. </em></strong> In your online funds solicitation you write:  "We believe in fairness..." Your organization and I have that in common. While I know little if anything about the veracity of your allegations about Radley's alleged Koch brothers connections or most of the other aspersions you cast against him in your article, I most certainly DO have personal knowledge about his involvement in the Cory Maye case. My knowledge comes firsthand from having been one of Cory's lawyers- technically his lead counsel- during our successful death row appeal to the MS Supreme Court. As such, because both you and I claim to "believe in fairness", I must respond to your  remarks denigrating Radley's involvement in Cory's appeal. First, I wouldn't be comfortable without letting you know my politics. I am a native-born Caucasian baby boomer Mississippian  who is a yellow dog bleeding heart liberal Democrat and proud of it. In addition, I am a member of the MS House of Representatives who represents a majority minority district. As such, I trust you can discern that I am not in any way trying to be an apologist for Radley. If, indeed, his politics are what you assert them to be, he and I certainly have little if anything in common politically although I do know that neither he nor I is a NRA sycophant. Nevertheless, I <em>know</em>what his role was in the Cory Maye case. Your article's reference to the superb job that Covington &amp; Burling did is certainly correct. It provided some<em>very good</em> lawyers to take over Cory's defense. It also provided the needed financial resources to hire the other experts, such as a forensic pathologist who actually knew what he was doing, necessary to solidify Cory's appeal. That qualified forensic pathologist was absolutely crucial in order to negate the unscientific and otherwise false yet damning evidence given at Cory's trial by Stephen Hayne, a now defrocked pathologist who for years wreaked havoc on the criminal justice syste here in Mississippi and who was and continues to be one of the deserving targets of Radley's wrath. Although I certainly would have done everything within my power to have Cory's death sentence overturned and his freedom restored, it is at the very least questionable whether I would  have achieved the same result as did C &amp; B. There is no doubt that neither Cory's family nor I could have come anywhere close to providing the financial resources that C &amp; B brought to the case. I suspect that you are wondering what any of this has to do with Radley Balko and his involvement in Cory's case. The answer is  simple and straightforward. If not for Radley's concerns about Cory's predicament and his resulting blogs on TheAgitator, it is very likely that Covington &amp; Burling would never have even <em>heard</em> about Cory's case much less have become involved. The very first that I ever heard about the prospective involvement of C &amp; B was when Radley called me and inquired about whether Cory and I would be willing to accept pro bono legal help from a very prominent Washington, D.C., law firm. To be honest, I had never even <em>heard</em> of Covington &amp; Burling prior to Radley's query. But when I learned that he had been contacted by one of the C &amp; B lawyers because that lawyer had read Radley's blog about Cory's case and immediately recognized the injustice of Cory's plight, their offer of help was accepted without delay. Although Radley has to me illustrated considerable legal acumen, he is not a lawyer. It is, therefore, true that he did not, from a legal perspective, have anything to do with Cory's successful quest for life and his liberty. But the reversal of Cory's death sentence, grant of a new trial, and eventual freedom very likely would not have occurred without Radley's initial interest in Cory's case that eventually turned it into a continuing cause celebre. Without the Internet publicity that Radley garnered for Cory's case, the participation of C &amp; B would almost surely not have happened. As a direct result of Radley's initial personal interest and continued involvement, the rest of Cory's case is history. Finally, your statement that "[T]oday, Covington &amp; Burling's role- and that of the half-dozen lawyers assigned to Maye's defense pro bono- is all but forgotten, while Balko's role blogging about Maye has been turned into legend..." is just wrong. No one here in Mississippi who was involved with or otherwise interested in Cory's case has forgotten the role that Covington &amp; Burling and its lawyers played in getting Cory off death row and his freedom restored. Their work was essential, inarguably crucial, appreciated, and highly lauded. Yet without Radley's initial and continuing interest in Cory's case as evinced by his foray with it into the blogosphere, Covington &amp; Burling would not have received any of its well-deserved plaudits because it likely would never have even<em>heard</em> of Cory Maye.  So while you may look at what you call the "legend" of Radley's blogging as being  self-aggrandizement, those of us who were intimately involved in Cory's case <em>know</em> that without Radley, the epic saga of Cory Maye would likely never have been told because he, yet another innocent black man on a Deep South death row, would have been executed for a crime he did not commit.   Mon, 07 Oct 2013 19:40:00 -0700 Mark Ames, Yasha Levine, NSFWCORP 906758 at https://img.alternet.org Media Media The Right Wing radley balko The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda https://img.alternet.org/visions/true-history-libertarianism-america-phony-ideology-promote-corporate-agenda <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Before Milton Friedman was earning plaudits as an economic genius, he was a shill for the real estate industry and an early pioneer for big business propaganda known as libertarianism. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/greedy.jpg?itok=WMYED4TW" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>This is an adapted version of an article that first appeared on NSFWCORP. Published daily online and monthly in print, NSFWCORP is The Future of Journalism (With Jokes). For more features, <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/subscribe">or to subscribe, click here.</a></em></p><p><em></em><em>This important article kicks off what will be a focus of coverage of AlterNet over the next few months on the corporate-funded "pro-</em><em>market" arm of  libertarianism in America and the sophisticated methods of inserting business propaganda into the public debate.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">***</p><p>Every couple of years, mainstream media hacks pretend to have just discovered libertarianism as some sort of radical, new and dynamic force in American politics. It’s a rehash that goes back decades, and hacks love it because it’s easy to write, and because it’s such a non-threatening “radical” politics (unlike radical left politics, which threatens the rich). The latest version involves a summer-long pundit debate in the pages of the <em>New York Times</em>, <em>Reason</em> magazine and elsewhere over so-called “libertarian populism.” It doesn’t really matter whose arguments prevail, so long as no one questions where libertarianism came from or why we’re defining libertarianism as anything but a big business public relations campaign, the winner in this debate is Libertarianism.</p><p>Pull up libertarianism’s floorboards, look beneath the surface into the big business PR campaign’s early years, and there you’ll start to get a sense of its purpose, its funders, and the PR hucksters who brought the peculiar political strain of American libertarianism into being — beginning with the libertarian movement’s founding father, Milton Friedman. Back in 1950, the House of Representatives held hearings on illegal lobbying activities and exposed both Friedman and the earliest libertarian think-tank outfit as a front for business lobbyists. Those hearings have been largely forgotten, in part because we’re too busy arguing over the finer points of “libertarian populism.” </p><p>Milton Friedman. In his early days, before millions were spent on burnishing his reputation, Friedman worked as a business lobby shill, a propagandist who would say whatever he was paid to say.  That's the story we need to revisit to get to the bottom of the modern American libertarian "movement," to see what it's really all about. We need to take a trip back to the post-war years, and to the largely forgotten Buchanan Committee hearings on illegal lobbying activities, led by a pro-labor Democrat from Pennsylvania, Frank Buchanan. </p><p>What the Buchanan Committee discovered was that in 1946, Milton Friedman and his U Chicago cohort George Stigler arranged an under-the-table deal with a Washington lobbying executive to pump out covert propaganda for the national real estate lobby in exchange for a hefty payout, the terms of which were never meant to be released to the public. They also discovered that a lobbying outfit which is today credited by libertarians as the movement’s first think-tank — the Foundation for Economic Education — was itself a big business PR project backed by the largest corporations and lobbying fronts in the country.</p><div><p>It starts just after the end of World War Two, when America’s industrial and financial giants, fattened up from war profits, established a new lobbying front group called the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) that focused on promoting a new pro-business ideology—which it called “libertarianism”— to supplement other business lobbying groups which focused on specific policies and legislation.</p><p>The FEE is generally regarded as “the first libertarian think-tank” as <em>Reason</em>’s Brian Doherty calls it in his book “Radicals For Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern Libertarian Movement” (2007). As the Buchanan Committee discovered, the Foundation for Economic Education was the best-funded conservative lobbying outfit ever known up to that time, sponsored by a Who’s Who of US industry in 1946.</p></div><p>A partial list of FEE’s original donors in its first four years— a list discovered by the Buchanan Committee — includes: The Big Three auto makers GM, Chrysler and Ford; top oil majors including Gulf Oil, Standard Oil, and Sun Oil; major steel producers US Steel, National Steel, Republic Steel; major retailers including Montgomery Ward, Marshall Field and Sears; chemicals majors Monsanto and DuPont; and other Fortune 500 corporations including General Electric, Merrill Lynch, Eli Lilly, BF Goodrich, ConEd, and more.</p><div><p>The FEE was set up by a longtime US Chamber of Commerce executive named Leonard Read, together with Donaldson Brown, a director in the National Association of Manufacturers lobby group and board member at DuPont and General Motors.</p><p><em>That is how libertarianism in America started: As an arm of big business lobbying.</em></p></div><p>Before bringing back Milton Friedman into the picture, this needs to be repeated again: “Libertarianism” was a project of the corporate lobby world, launched as a big business “ideology” in 1946 by The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. The FEE’s board included the future founder of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch; the most powerful figure in the Mormon church at that time, J Reuben Clark, a frothing racist and anti-Semite after whom BYU named its law school; and United Fruit president Herb Cornuelle.</p><div><p>The purpose of the FEE — and libertarianism, as it was originally created — was to supplement big business lobbying with a pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-economics rationale to back up its policy and legislative attacks on labor and government regulations.</p></div><p>This background is important in the Milton Friedman story because Friedman is a founding father of libertarianism, and because the corrupt lobbying deal he was busted playing a part in was arranged through the Foundation for Economic Education.</p><div><p>According to Congressional hearings on illegal lobbying activities 1946 was the year that Milton Friedman and his U Chicago cohort George Stigler arranged an under-the-table deal with a Washington lobbying executive to pump out covert propaganda for the national real estate lobby in exchange for a hefty payout, the terms of which were never meant to be released to the public.</p><p>The arrangement between Friedman and Stigler with the Washington real estate lobbyist was finally revealed during a congressional review of illegal lobbying activities in 1950, called the Buchanan Committee. Yes, there was something called accountability back then. I only came across the revelations about Friedman’s sordid beginnings in the footnotes of an old book on the history of lobbying by former Newsweek book editor <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/20/obituaries/karl-schriftgiesser-84-a-former-journalist.html" target="_blank">Karl Schriftgiesser</a>, published in 1951, shortly after the Buchanan Committee hearings ended. The actual details of Milton Friedman’s PR deal are sordid and familiar, with tentacles reaching into our ideologically rotted-out era.</p><p>False, whitewashed history is as much a part of the Milton Friedman mythology as it is the libertarian movement’s own airbrushed history about its origins; the 1950 Buchanan Committee hearings expose both as creations of big business lobby groups whose purpose is to deceive and defraud the public and legislators in order to advance the cause of corporate America.</p></div><p>The story starts like this: In 1946, Herbert Nelson was the chief lobbyist and executive vice president for the National Association of Real Estate Boards, and one of the highest paid lobbyists in the nation. Mr. Nelson’s real estate constituency was unhappy with rent control laws that Truman kept in effect after the war ended. Nelson and his real estate lobby led what House investigators discovered was the most formidable and best-funded opposition to President Truman in the post-war years, amassing some $5,000,000 for their lobby efforts—that’s $5mln in 1946 dollars, or roughly $60 million in 2012 dollars.</p><p>So Herbert Nelson contracted out the PR services of the Foundation for Economic Education to concoct “third party” propaganda designed to shore up the National Real Estate lobby’s legislative drive — and the propagandists who took on the job were Milton Friedman and his U Chicago cohort, George Stigler.</p><div><p>To understand the sort of person Herbert Nelson was, here is a letter he wrote in 1949 that Congressional investigators discovered and recorded:</p><p>"I do not believe in democracy. I think it stinks. I don’t think anybody except direct taxpayers should be allowed to vote. I don’t believe women should be allowed to vote at all. Ever since they started, our public affairs have been in a worse mess than ever."</p><p>It’s an old libertarian mantra, libertarianism versus democracy, libertarianism versus women’s suffrage; a position most recently repeated by billionaire <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/166421/ron-paul-wants-abolish-cia-his-largest-donor-builds-toys-it" target="_blank">libertarian Peter Thiel</a> — who was Ron Paul’s main campaign funder in his 2012 presidential campaign.</p></div><p>So in 1946, this same Herbert Nelson turned to the Foundation for Economic Education to manufacture some propaganda to help the National Association of Real Estate Boards fight rent control laws. Nelson chose to work with the FEE because he knew that the founder of the first libertarian think-tank, Leonard Read, agreed with him on a lot of important issues. Such as their mutual contempt for democracy, and their disdain for the American public.</p><div><p>Leonard Read, the legendary (among libertarians) founder/head of the FEE, argued that the public should not be allowed to know which corporations donated to his libertarian front-group because, he argued, the public could not be trusted to make “sound judgments” with disclosed information:</p><p>"The public reporting would present a single fact—the amount of a contributor’s donation—to casual readers, persons having only a cursory interest in the matter at issue, persons who would not and perhaps could not possess all the facts. These folks of the so-called public thus receive only oversimplifications or half-truths from which only erroneous conclusions are almost certain to be drawn. If there is a public interest in the rightness or wrongness of corporate or personal donations to charitable, religious or education institutions, and I am not at all ready to concede that there is, then that interest should be guarded by some such agency as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, an agency that is in a position to obtain all the facts, not by Mr. John Public who lacks relevant information for the forming of sound judgments...Public reporting of a half-truth is indeed a significant provocation."</p></div><p>So in May 1946, Herbert Nelson of the Real Estate lobby, looking for backup in his drive to abolish federal rent control laws on behalf of landlords, contacted libertarian founder Leonard Read of the FEE with an order for a PR pamphlet “with some such title as ‘The Case against Federal Real Estate Control’,” according to Karl Schriftgiesser’s book The Lobbyists.</p><div><p>What happened next, I’ll quote from Schriftgiesser:</p><p>"They were now busily co-operating on the new project which the foundation had engaged Milton Friedman and George J. Stigler to write. It was to be called Roofs and Ceilings and it was to be an outright attack on rent controls. When Nelson received a copy of the manuscript he wrote Read to say, “The pamphlet...is a dandy. It is just what I wanted."</p><p>The National Association of Real Estate Boards was so pleased with Milton Friedman’s made-to-order propaganda that they ordered up 500,000 pamphlets from the FEE, and distributed them throughout the real estate lobby’s vast local network of real estate brokers and agents.</p></div><p>In libertarianism’s own airbrushed history about itself, the Foundation for Economic Education was a brave, quixotic bastion of libertarian “true believers” doomed to defeat at the all-powerful hands of the liberal Keynsian Leviathan and the collectivist mob. Here is how libertarian historian Brian Doherty describes the FEE and its chief lobbyist Leonard Read:</p><div><div aria-label="Hide expanded content" data-tooltip="Hide expanded content" id=":1i9" role="button" tabindex="0"><img src="https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif" />"[Read] would never explicitly scrape for funds... He never directly asked anyone to give anything, he proudly insisted, and while FEE would sell literature to all comers, it was also free to anyone who asked. His attitude toward money was Zen, sometimes hilariously so. When asked how FEE was doing financially, his favorite reply was, “Just perfectly.”... Read wanted no endowments and frowned on any donation meant to be held in reserve for some future need."</div></div><div><p>And here is what the committee’s own findings reported—findings lost in history:</p><p>"It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Foundation for Economic Education exerts, or at least expects to exert, a considerable influence on national legislative policy....It is equally difficult to imagine that the nation’s largest corporations would subsidize the entire venture if they did not anticipate that it would pay solid, long-range legislative dividends."</p><p>Or in the words of Rep. Carl Albert (D-OK): "Every bit of this literature is along propaganda lines."</p><p>The manufactured history about libertarian’s origins, or its purpose, parallels the manufactured myths about one of big business’s key propaganda tools, Milton Friedman. As the author of The Lobbyists, not knowing who Milton Friedman was at the time, wrote of Friedman’s collaborative effort with Stigler:</p><p>“Certainly [the FEE’s] booklet, Roofs or Ceilings, was definitely propaganda and sought to influence legislation....This booklet was printed in bulk by the foundation and half a million copies were sold at cost to the National Association of Real Estate Boards, which had them widely distributed throughout the country by its far-flung network of local member boards.”</p><p>There's no idealism here. The notion that libertarian ideas have captured the political imagination of millions in this country is a root problem: if we're going to escape the corporate oligarchy that is running this country--their ideas can't possibility be the alternative solution. This movement has to be recognized for what it is. </p></div><p><strong><em>Published daily online and monthly in print, NSFWCORP is The Future of Journalism (With Jokes). For more features, <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/subscribe">or to subscribe, click here.</a></em></strong></p> Fri, 06 Sep 2013 12:18:00 -0700 Mark Ames, NSFWCORP 892940 at https://img.alternet.org Visions Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace The Right Wing Visions libertarian Why the Media and Power Establishment Prevented the Public from Understanding the Tsarnaev Bomber Brothers' Motives https://img.alternet.org/world/tsarnaev-brothers-misunderstood-media <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Boston Bombers&#039; ties to Chechnya and Dagestan must come to light if we&#039;re ever going to get to the bottom of &quot;why&quot; they did it. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2013-06-13_at_11.12.22_am.png?itok=arSQnSdV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>This article first appeared at <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/chechnyan-power/">Not Safe for Work Corporation</a>.</em></p><p><em>"Proud to be from Chechnya, I miss my homeland. #chechnyanpower"</em> <span style="font-size: 12px;">— </span><span style="font-size: 12px;">Dzhokhar Tsarnaev</span></p><p><em><span style="font-size: 12px;">"This family [Tsarnaevs] was trying to settle in a number of places but could not properly assimilate anywhere. At the same time, they could always refer to Chechnya, which is seen as a land of noble knights and as a fairy-tale island by many Chechens who have never lived there." </span></em><span style="font-size: 12px;">— Maierbek Vatchagayev, president, Association of Caucasian Studies</span></p><p>As soon as the Boston Marathon bombers were identified as two brothers from Chechnya who had been granted political asylum in the US a decade earlier, experts from both the left and the right furiously assured us that the bombings and shootings that left five dead and some 270 wounded had nothing to do with Chechnya or the brothers’ Chechen identity and experience.</p><p>On the right, there’s been an effort to hitch the blame all on their two favorite villains: Islam, and Vladimir Putin. The right is more responsible than anyone for coddling and protecting Chechen terrorists and separatists — Washington neocons and their right-wing allies have been assuring us for over a decade that Chechen terrorism isn’t really terrorism, since Chechens only kill Russians. It makes no logical sense, but that hasn’t stopped the neocon/right-wing lobby from arguing all this time that Chechens have some kind of Western-gag-reflex preventing their violence from blowing back this way.</p><p>On the left and libertarian side, stories of the Boston Marathon bombings were stripped of just about every relevant and interesting detail. It was all whittled down to a canned cautionary tale on the evils of the US police state. In the left’s defense, at least they’ve been motivated by recent history — previous terror attacks have led to ethnic and religious profiling targeting Muslims. That’s understandable, but it’s not journalism. Willful ignorance in the name of virtue does not tend to illuminate anything.</p><p>Meanwhile, US counterterrorism officials played around with their clunky definitions trying to decide if one or both brothers were "self-radicalized" or "never radicalized" or "radicalized on the Internet" or "radicalized in Dagestan."</p><p>With any serious attempt to understand the Tsarnaev brothers, the inadequacy of such facile definitions becomes clear. What made them kill and maim so many Americans when America was the only country that did a lot to improve their lives? And how could it be possible to deny the importance of key aspects of their lives — their personal experiences as Chechens in Russia, their Chechen identity, their rather banal struggles and family infighting as immigrants in the USA.</p><p>Of all the myths about Tsarnaevs that "experts" in the media have pushed, the stupidest and most offensive falsehood is the claim that that Chechnya — its violence, wars and savagery — played no role in shaping Tamerlan and his younger brother, Dzhokhar. Tamerlan’s fourth-grade teacher told journalists who bothered asking — German journalists from Focus magazine — that she recalled how traumatized young Tamerlan was from living in Chechnya up through Boris Yeltsin’s invasion and the shelling of the Tsarnaev’s village in 1995. This teacher described Tamerlan as a "refugee from Chechnya, from the war and terrorism."</p><p>And yet, we were assured, Chechnya had nothing to do with shaping the Tsarnaev brothers’ minds or their actions.</p><p>Initially, the old right-wing Cold War outfit, the Jamestown Foundation, led the PR campaign to steer attention away from Chechnya — and Jamestown’s "experts" were front and center, cited in just about every major media outlet in the days after the Tsarnaev brothers’ identities were revealed. Unlike other right-wing interests, Jamestown and its allies in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (both Jamestown and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/media-debate_36/article_323.jsp">RFE/RL</a> were founded by the <a href="https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2011-featured-story-archive/the-cia-and-the-marshall-plan.html">CIA</a> during the Cold War) downplayed both the Chechnya angle and the extent to which jihadi terrorism dominates the Chechen separatist movement.</p><p>On the day of Dhokhar Tsarnaev’s arrest, Jamestown expert Valery Dzutsev posted a blog asking <a href="http://jamestownfoundation.blogspot.com/2013/04/did-tsarnaev-brothers-have-links-to.html">"Did the Tsarnaev Brothers Have Links to Chechen Militants?"</a> Dzutsev answered his own question:</p><blockquote>"Little suggests that they were linked to the insurgency movement in the North Caucasus or another jihadi movement.. <br /><br />The most plausible explanation [...] is that some personal events triggered a violent response from the Tsarnaev brothers."</blockquote><p>Jamestown expert Mairbek Vatchagaev, amazingly enough, came to the <a href="http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&amp;tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=40757&amp;tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=7&amp;cHash=eb44457d277c474e244abce402abbc6a#.Ua5uYmSQfzks">same counter-factual conclusion</a>:</p><blockquote>"There is not appear [sic] to be much, if any, indication that Jokhar had any connection to jihadist groups or sympathized with the most well-known terrorist organization in the North Caucasus called the Caucasus Emirate, or any other similar groups. On the contrary, in one of his blog entries, he laments having no American friends, having lived in the country for so long."</blockquote><p>In other words, the Tsarnaevs were just a pair of emo-terrorists.</p><p>Over at government propaganda Radio Liberty, Aslan Doukev, who heads the North Caucasus Department, agreed that Chechen identity and the pure-as-gold Chechen separatist movement (which Doukev’s desk has promoted all these years) had zilch to do with the Tsarnaevs’ turn to terrorism, and everything to do with evil Islam, according to the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/details-emerge-on-suspected-boston-bombers/2013/04/19/ef2c2566-a8e4-11e2-a8e2-5b98cb59187f_print.html">Washington Post</a>:</p><blockquote>"One possible explanation for the Boston bombings, said Aslan Doukaev, an expert on the Caucasus who works for Radio Liberty in Prague, is that the brothers were motivated by radical jihadism, not Chechen separatism."</blockquote><p>The usual Islamophobe suspects agreed with Doukaev: the Boston bombing was inspired by evil Islam, not Chechnya or Chechen separatism.</p><p><a href="http://www.debbieschlussel.com/61487/dzokhar-tsarnaev-we-still-need-the-rubio-amnesty-bill-for-scum-like-this/">Debbie Schlussel</a> shrieked:</p><blockquote>"I note that every single major news broadcast only refers to these guys as "Chechnyan" or "Chechen" terrorists, NOT Islamic terrorists, which is what they are. ...Remember, THIS. IS. ISLAM"</blockquote><p>...while carrot-top Canuckocon <a href="http://www.steynonline.com/5562/jihad-abhors-a-vacuum">Mark Steyn</a> quipped:</p><blockquote>"Strictly between us, I can count what I know about Chechens on one leg...whatever was bugging him didn't have a lot to do with Chechnya...while the Chechen-nationalist struggle has certainly become more Islamic in the last two decades, it's a bit of a mystery what it has to do with [...] Massachusetts marathons....whatever their particular inheritance, many young Muslims in the West come to embrace a pan-Islamic identity."</blockquote><p>Professor Brian Glyn Williams, who doesn’t like me very much, offered two opposing theories that all but canceled each other out, as reported in the <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/19/dzhokhar-tsarnaev-boston-marathon-attack.html">CBC</a>:</p><blockquote>"The sheer fact that there's so much terror in their country [Chechnya] — suicide bombings and catastrophe — you know it's seems to be too obvious that somehow [it was] the precursor and origins [sic] of this act," said Williams, though he noted the attack may not have anything to do with the family's Chechen background.</blockquote><p>But the most popular theory among Chechnya-separatist apologists was the most counter-intuitive theory of all: If two self-proclaimed Chechen jihadis set off the Boston Marathon bombings, then obviously Vladimir Putin was behind it. Sure, that’s like blaming 9/11 on Israel, except this is different — if your unfounded conspiracy theory blames Russia, it’s completely reasonable; if it blames the West, it’s a symptom of mental illness, <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/why-chechens-think-tsaraev-brothers-were-framed">argued</a> BuzzFeed editor,<a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/buzzbagger-ben/a73f5cb81abbea3b7fb6e7f63e6f09d5b860e23f/">"Buzzbagger"</a> Ben Smith:</p><blockquote>Reasonable people have directed truly horrendous allegations at President Vladimir Putin and his security services.</blockquote><p>Yes, those "reasonable people" are back again — one of whom, according to BuzzFeed’s editor, is Chechen death squad leader-turned-president, Ramzan Kadyrov:</p><blockquote><p>"Even the Chechen Republic’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov, included a bizarre note of paranoia in the words he posted to Instagram, a note of doubt about the suspects’ guilt — and about one suspect’s death.</p><p>"It is evident that the special services needed to calm society by any means possible," Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, wrote.</p><p>This may sound paranoid. But paranoids can have real enemies. And you don’t have to be crazy to believe Chechen allegations of baroque and brutal government conspiracies —at least, not when they’re directed at the Russian government.</p></blockquote><p>One unexpected supporter of Kadyrov’s conspiracy theory was his arch-enemy, London-based Chechen separatist leader <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/22/boston-bombings-a-gift-to-putin-says-chechen-opposition-leader.html">Akhmed Zakayev,</a> who told his neocon contact in the Daily Beast:</p><blockquote>"Chechens and the Chechen nation are not responsible what two crazy guys committed in the United States....Behind this action, we have to consider the involvement of a state organization or another big organization....I could believe if they come to Moscow that they have some instruction from someone, from Russian special services."</blockquote><p>Kadyrov seed Zakayev's and BuzzBagger Ben's conspiracy theory, and raised him a Putin-friendly counter-conspiracy theory <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2312083/Boston-bombing-Did-Chechen-bombers-deliberately-plant-explosives-Russian-flag-race-route-Questions-raised-motive-attacks-Obama-speaks-Putin-bombings.html#ixzz2VI99TPST">blaming the United States</a>:</p><blockquote>"[Attempts] to draw a parallel between Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs, if they are guilty, are futile. They grew up in the U.S., and their views and beliefs were formed there. The roots of the evil should be looked for in America."</blockquote><p>Presumably, Chechens are capable of being simultaneously reasonable and crazy, depending on whom their conspiracy theory blames.</p><p>Just about every American hack was convinced at one point or another that the Tsarnaev brothers were Manchurian candidates — victims of either "Misha," the evil Armenian brainwasher, or of "Vlad," the evil Russian mind-controller. Although the Jamestown people knew better than just about anyone in this country, they were very selective about when to tell the truth and when to bullshit an ignorant public, and they were big promoters of these conspiracy theories.</p><p>Jamestown’s Valery Dzutsev got his ominous Parallax View on,<a href="http://jamestownfoundation.blogspot.com/2013/04/did-tsarnaev-brothers-have-links-to.html">cryptically speculating</a>:</p><blockquote>"On April 16, 2013, Russian president Putin offered assistance with the investigation in the Boston attack a full three days before word was revealed to the Western media about the reported involvement of the two Chechen immigrants (<a href="http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-16/world/38566064_1_boston-marathon-tom-donilon-obama">http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-16/world/38566064_1_boston-ma...</a>). Putin’s proposal may suggest it was a courtesy, but it also might indicate some prior knowledge about the attack. So potentially one could conspiratorially theorize that the Russian security services may have planned the attack in Boston in such a way as to point to "Chechen terrorists."</blockquote><p>One could — and one did.</p><p>And another one <a href="http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&amp;tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=40757&amp;tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=7&amp;cHash=eb44457d277c474e244abce402abbc6a#.Ua5uYmSQfzks">did too</a>:</p><blockquote>Another surprising piece of evidence suggests that Jokhar had accessed his webpage at 3 o’clock Boston time, but did not leave any comments. It was unclear whether it was AM or PM time (<a href="http://vk.com/id160300242?z=tag160300242">http://vk.com/id160300242?z=tag160300242</a>). The bombs at the Boston Marathon finish line were detonated at approximately 2:50 PM, local time.</blockquote><p>To Jamestown’s credit, their Chechnya-jihadi deflection strategy did produce some unintended comedy:</p><blockquote>some experts have seized on the information that the brothers watched Islamist videos on YouTube (<a href="http://m.weeklystandard.com/blogs/boston-bomber-posted-video-black-flags-khorasan_718071.html">http://m.weeklystandard.com/blogs/boston-bomber-posted-video-black-flags...</a>). But a fuller look at the brothers’ publicly accessible YouTube view history hardly prejudges their alleged adherence to radical Islam. In fact, it is hard to find anyone that would not visit an Islamist website at least once in his life.</blockquote><p>Steven Colbert couldn’t have deadpanned it better.</p><p>Perhaps the most disappointing example of self-censorship came from Professor Charles King, author of an excellent book, "The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus," who took to the <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/19/don-t-judge-the-chechens-yet.html">Daily Beast</a> to shoo anyone with a brain far away from the trails that led back to the Tsarnaev brothers’ beloved Chechnya:</p><blockquote>In fact, any "Chechnya angle" to the story is overshadowed by the American one. The Tsarnaevs look much more like other homegrown terrorists — animal-rights extremists, white supremacists, anarchists, and lone-wolf ideologues — than like religious warriors fighting on a faraway and exotic frontier.</blockquote><p>King made probably the single dumbest analogy in the post-Boston bombing orgy of hackery, claiming that despite what the Tsarnaev brothers announced all over their social media pages, and despite having lived in Chechnya and Dagestan, nevertheless Chechnya had no more influence on their psyches and their terrorism than the American-born Oklahoma bomber’s Scotch-Irishness:</p><blockquote>"connecting the Tsarnaevs with this past — at least at this stage — is like wondering about Timothy McVeigh’s Scotch-Irishness: a true but ultimately irrelevant part of the background of the Oklahoma City bomber....the focus now should be on the Tsarnaevs as homegrown terrorists, not on the ethnic or regional origins of their family."</blockquote><p>After reading that, I went into my Kindle and deleted King’s book, along with all the notes and highlights I made, to protect myself from being infected with Stupid.</p><p>All of these hacks share a common goal: Leave Chechnya out of this, even if Chechnya has something (or everything) to do with what happened.</p><p>In <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/prisoners-of-the-caspian-part-one/">my last series of articles [available through subscription]</a>, I explained the deep geopolitical and oil interests that drew so much energy and interest from America’s foreign policy establishment towards Chechnya. I also outlined how this establishment supported the same sorts of violent jihadi terrorists that it condemns in other parts of the world.</p><p>Turning the camera around and looking at the story from the Tsarnaevs’ personal experience, you begin to see how whitewashing Chechnya out of the Boston bombing story is worse than hackery — it’s malpractice.</p><p>First, let’s look at Chechnya and at Chechens’ profound sense of ethnic identity and identification with their Caucasus homeland. It’s been argued to me and to the public that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar could not have been affected by Chechnya since a) they spent too little time there; and b) even if the brothers did spend any time in Chechnya, it was so long ago it’d all’ve been forgotten by 2013 anyway.</p><p>Many of these same people would agree, however, that African-Americans harbor understandably raw wounds over the history of slavery and segregation in the United States; or that American Jews with no personal ties to Israel or the Holocaust have nevertheless been inspired by both to life-changing behavior, sometimes insanely so. Pampered middle-class dweeb Jeffrey Goldberg healed his Holocaust wounds by joining the <a href="http://shameproject.com/report/shame-update-atlantics-jeffrey-goldberg-fan-jewish-terrorist-meir-kahane/">Meir Kahane Fan Club</a>, and doing voluntary service as an Israeli detention camp guard where, by Goldberg’s own admission, he <a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/jeffrey-goldberg/">beat Palestinian prisoners</a>.</p><p>These ignorant assumptions about Chechens and Chechnya can be corrected by looking at the biography of Chechnya’s first president and independence leader, Dzhokhar Dudayev — whom Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was named after.</p><p>Dudayev had spent little time in Chechnya before the national reawakening during the Gorbachev years. He was born in a highlands village in 1944 — just before the mass deportation that year that sent Dudayev’s family to Kazakhstan.</p><p>As I’ve previously written, in 1944, Stalin accused the Chechen people (and five other ethnic groups in the Soviet south) of collaborating with the Nazis, and mass-deported them to Central Asia in what many, myself included, consider an act of genocide — at least one-fifth of the entire Chechen population died within the first couple of years of that deportation. In 1957, Chechens were allowed to return to Chechnya, but no sooner had Dzhokhar moved back than he moved to Vladikavkaz in Christian North Ossetia, and then to the Russian city of Tambov, where Dudayev earned his wings as a Soviet air force pilot. Dudayev eventually rose to the rank of Soviet major-general, the first and only Chechen general in the Soviet armed forces — reportedly his duties included bombing raids on mujahedeen forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s.</p><p>Dudayev spent very little time in Chechnya before 1989, and he spoke Chechen with some difficulty. He married an Orthodox Christian Russian, Alla, the daughter of a Soviet officer; she was not asked to convert to Islam, and their children were not brought up Muslim. By Chechen standards, Dudayev was an assimilated outsider. Mixed marriages were extremely rare among ethnic Chechens at that time, despite the Soviet Union’s high rate of interethnic marriages. According to a 1989 Soviet census cited in Valery Tishkov’s book "Chechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society," 93.7 percent of Chechen families in Chechnya were monoethnic. Taking the entire Soviet Union as a whole, the figure was almost the same - 88.5 percent of Chechen families were monoethnic.</p><p>Tishkov explains this low rate of intermarriage by quoting a leading Chechen sociologist of the late Soviet era, Zulai Khasbulatova:</p><blockquote>"[O]ne of the reasons for the insignificant proportion of interethnic marriages was the negative attitude of parents. The survival of religious and other prejudices ... also played a part."</blockquote><p>In other words, Dzhokhar Dudayev was one of the most assimilated Chechens imaginable as late as the mid-1980s. And yet a few years later, Dudayev’s Chechen roots drew him back to his ancestral homeland, and transformed him almost overnight into a radical Chechen nationalist and a violent extremist who oversaw the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of non-Chechen residents, and led Chechnya down the first steps towards adopting Saudi-influenced<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/21/world/president-of-chechnya-backs-islamic-state.html?pagewanted=print">Sharia rule</a>. Dzhokhar Dudayev also led Chechnya into its independence-or-death struggle with Boris Yeltsin’s Russia, resulting in tens of thousands of civilians killed.</p><p>Stalin’s deportation has often been cited as the main cause of Chechen fanaticism, which has been by turns heroic and utterly savage. But this ignores the fact that five of the six ethnic peoples deported by Stalin during World War II (Muslim Balkars, Karachays, Ingush and Tartars from the Crimea; and Buddhist Kalmyks) did not follow Chechnya’s path to war. The Ingush are ethnically close to Chechens. Both are <a href="http://exiledonline.com/spot-the-chechen/">"Vainakh,"</a> and until 1992, they lived together in one republic, the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. It was only when Dzhokhar Dudayev took over as president in late 1991 — accompanied by mobs of his supporters who stormed the Chechen parliament and defenestrated the ethnic Russian parliament speaker — that the Ingush amicably seceded from Chechnya and chose to remain as a republic within the Russian Federation, in order to avoid the bloodshed everyone knew was coming.</p><p>The excitement of an independent Chechnya, and its promise of possibilities, drew Chechens from all over the Soviet Union back to their homeland in 1991 — including Anzor Tsarnaev, his Dagestani wife, and his young son Tamerlan, who was born in 1986 in Kalmykia, a Buddhist republic on Russia’s north Caspian coast. The Tsarnaevs had originally come from a Chechen village named Chiri-Yurt, located 20 miles south of the capital Grozny, at the mouth of the Argun Gorge, the base of the steep mountain range, the dividing point between the Chechen lowlanders and the "barbarian" highlanders. The extended Tsarnaev family was deported along with everyone else in 1944, and forcibly settled two thousand miles away in Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar’s father, Anzor Tsarnaev, was born in Tokmok, during the exile. Anzor’s father had been killed in an accident — "blown to bits" by an unexploded artillery shell, while out with a metal detector looking for scrap metal to pawn.</p><p>After Stalin’s death, most of the extended Tsarnaev family — which had grown so numerous, they reportedly occupied an <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2312083/Boston-bombing-Did-Chechen-bombers-deliberately-plant-explosives-Russian-flag-race-route-Questions-raised-motive-attacks-Obama-speaks-Putin-bombings.html">entire street of houses in Tokmok</a> — eventually returned to Chiri-Yurt in Chechnya. Many relatives still live there today, and in the nearby town of Urus-Martan</p><p>In the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings and shootings, family members denied that the children had ever been to Chechnya; later, they admitted that yes, the family had moved to Chechnya in the early 1990s, but it was unclear for how long. And yes, Tamerlan had visited Chechnya on at least two occasions in 2012 — but only to visit their relatives in Chiri-Yurt and nearby Urus-Martan.</p><p>In the early 1990s, Anzor Tsarnaev sold everything they owned in Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan, and moved his family to Chiri-Yurt, 20 miles south of Chechnya’s capital, Grozny, where Anzor was given his own plot of land inherited from his ancestors.</p><p>In 1993, two years after moving back to Chechnya, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the youth currently awaiting trial for the Boston bombings and shootings, was born. He was named in honor of Chechnya’s independence leader, Dzhokhar Dudayev — even though by 1993, Dudayev was a polarizing figure within Chechnya itself. Dudayev grew increasingly violent, authoritarian, and paranoid, claiming, for example, that Yeltsin was planning to set off "fake earthquakes" in Chechnya in order to retake control.</p><p>By 1993, domestic opposition against Dzhokhar Dudayev grew in strength and threatened his hold on power. President Dudayev disbanded Chechnya’s local parliament and its courts, suspended the constitution, and arrested, beat and murdered many of his domestic opponents. In the spring of that year, anti-Dudayev protesters in Grozny were "mowed down by Dudayev’s death squads" on Theater Square.</p><p>Indeed in one of the strangest twists in recent Russia-Chechnya history, Dzhokhar Dudayev wrote a personal letter to Russian president Boris Yeltsin — who in 1993 also faced a hostile parliament — advising Yeltsin to follow the same authoritarian path that he, Dudayev, had taken:</p><blockquote>"Being in possession of vast and, believe me, highly reliable information about the work of the opponents . . . of executive power in Russia and also of those historical reforms for which you so selflessly battle, I would like to protect you from the possibility of further growth of opposition in the Russian Federation, which could lead to unpredictable and irreparable consequences....In jurisprudence there is justification for a less severe crime that does not entail judicial consequences if it is committed with the aim of preventing a more serious crime. It’s the way things are done with the troops: as long as a decision has been made—even if it is incorrect—it is wiser and more expedient to carry it out to the end than to stop halfway and adopt a new decision."</blockquote><p>In the fall of 1993, Yeltsin defied his constitution and disbanded the opposition-controlled parliament, using tanks and troops, killing hundreds.</p><p>In December 1994 — as support for Dzhokhar Dudayev was falling — Boris Yeltsin invaded Chechnya, bombing the capital city Grozny into rubble — nearly emptying the city of 400,000. Forever after, Chechnya rallied around Dzhokhar Dudayev’s independence fight.</p><p>Many of the first war’s civilian victims in Grozny were ethnic Russian pensioners who never left because they had nowhere to go, no family to support them, unlike the locals or those who were able to escape between 1991 and 1994. Ethnic Russian pensioners were stuck in their apartment buildings, and many died there as a result of indiscriminate Russian bombing and shelling.</p><p>Thousands were killed in the first few weeks and months of Yeltsin’s invasion. In the spring of 1995, after Grozny was sufficiently flattened and emptied of life, the Russian army turned its sights southward —in the direction of the Tsarnaevs’ home village, Chiri-Yurt. The village is strategically located at the base of the gorge leading up to the Chechen highlands, where the separatist fighters were taking refuge; Chiri-Yurt was also the site of the largest cement factory in the greater Caucasus region, which had once employed tens of thousands.</p><p>The job of taking Chiri-Yurt fell to one of Russia’s most brutal generals, Vladimir Shamanov. His strategy was fairly simple: bomb, shell and flatten everything, then terrorize whatever’s left alive. His Russian forces surrounded Chiri-Yurt, bombing and shelling the village nonstop for a week. By the time Shamanov’s forces moved in, nothing was left of the cement factory but rubble and ruins. The Tsarnaev home had been flattened by Shamanov’s forces, along with all the standing structures on their street, according Tamerlan’s aunt.</p><p>It was during this time that the Tsarnaev family fled Chiri-Yurt, and returned to exile in Kyrgyzstan, in Tokmok. A neighbor in Tokmok later <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/boston-suspects-chechen-family-traveled-long-road-161148637.html">told reporters</a> that the Tsarnaevs arrived back in nothing but "clothes they would wear only around the house," and how they’d "fled the bombing, managing only to grab their documents and a few things."</p><p>This would be the first in a string of emigration failures for the Tsarnaev family: They moved to their ancestral homeland full of hope and promise, and were forced to retreat back to the place where Stalin had dumped them off to die 50 years earlier.</p><p>The boys showed clear signs of post-traumatic stress disorder from the war and violence. Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s fourth-grade teacher in Kyrgyzstan, Natalya Kurochkina, told German journalists from<a href="http://www.focus.de/politik/ausland/boston-terror/tid-31097/report-wiege-des-hasses_aid_974099.html">Focus magazine</a>,</p><blockquote><p>"Tamerlan would flinch if so much as a little firecracker went off. We understood right away that they came from a war zone. It was obvious that this child had been through a lot."</p><p>"I think he was somehow affected by what he had seen during the [Chechen] war...all that was going on in Chechnya then, the terrorist acts."</p></blockquote><p>Tamerlan’s father, Anzor, found work in the local prosecutor’s office for the Kyrgyzstan government. Many of Anzor’s siblings became lawyers, some quite successful — including Anzor’s sister, who lives in Canada, and his younger brother Ruslan, the most successful of the siblings. It was Ruslan Tsarni (neé "Tsarnaev") who told reporters after the bombings that his nephews, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, were "losers" who had been "brainwashed" by their Dagestani mother, and by "Misha" the evil Armenian convert.</p><p>Uncle Ruslan represented the positive side of the American Dream for the Tsarnaev extended clan. Uncle Ruslan had a knack for making all the right choices; Anzor, not so much.</p><p>In 1995, the same year Anzor Tsarnaev fled Chechnya with his family and returned to Kyrgyzstan, his younger brother Ruslan was working as a consultant for Arthur Anderson on a USAID contract to develop capital markets structures in Kazakhstan, whose huge untapped oil reserves were the source of an undeclared pipeline war that I wrote about in my last series of articles. In the late 1990s, Uncle Ruslan joined the Kazakh office of American law firm Salans Hertzfeld, where he serviced multinational oil companies tapping into Kazakhstan’s rich oil, gas and mineral resources.</p><p>Uncle Ruslan married into geopolitical royalty — Susan Fuller, the daughter of one of the most powerful CIA Cold War figures, Graham Fuller. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar’s father, on the hand, married a crazy Avar from Dagestan — at least, that’s how Uncle Ruslan put it in no uncertain terms, and with some justification, according to people whom I’ve spoken to who knew Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, and according to numerous other reports.</p><p>Uncle Ruslan’s father-in-law, Graham Fuller, had been forced into retirement from the CIA in the late 1980s over his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. Although never convicted of a crime, Graham Fuller has been named as the architect of the policy rationale used to justify the Iran-Contra operation, under which US arms were illegally sold to Ayatollah Khomeini’s armed forces. Profits from those illegal arms sales were used to make illegal arms purchases for the CIA-backed Contra forces fighting in Nicaragua.</p><p>At Harvard, Graham Fuller studied under Zbigniew Brzezinski, chairman of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya. In 1978, when Brzezinski was Jimmy Carter’s token Cold War hawk in the White House, Graham Fuller served as CIA station chief in Kabul, where Brzezinski hatched his now-famous plot to sow chaos in Afghanistan and draw in a costly Soviet invasion.</p><p>Fuller later explained:</p><blockquote>"I was interested in understanding the soft underbelly of the Soviet Union, which is why I wanted to serve in Afghanistan."</blockquote><p>The 1978 coup in Afghanistan, Fuller's last year in Kabul, sparked a series of violent backlashes and power-struggles that eventually drew in the hoped-for Soviet invasion in late 1979.</p><p>Fuller comes from that faction of CIA Cold Warriors who believed (and still apparently believe) that fundamentalist Islam, even in its radical jihadi form, does not pose a threat to the West, for the simple reason that fundamentalist Islam is conservative, against social justice, against socialism and redistribution of wealth, and in favor of hierarchical socio-economic structures. Socialism is the common enemy to both capitalist America and to Wahhabi Islam, according to Fuller.</p><p>According to journalist Robert Dreyfuss’ book "Devil’s Game," Fuller explained his attraction to radical Islam in neoliberal/libertarian terms:</p><blockquote>"There is no mainstream Islamic organization...with radical social views," he wrote. "Classical Islamic theory envisages the role of the state as limited to facilitating the well-being of markets and merchants rather than controlling them. Islamists have always powerfully objected to socialism and communism....Islam has never had problems with the idea that wealth is unevenly distributed."</blockquote><p>Some people who have come across the incredible coincidence of all these high-powered CIA names and the Chechen Tsarnaevs as proof of some sort of Masonic conspiracy. Most journalists are already freaked out enough by the simplest details of the Boston Marathon bombing and the FBI murder of Ibragim Todashev during his interrogation. They don’t want to go anywhere near this.</p><p>As I’ve argued already, I think there’s a far simpler and more obvious explanation for this: Chechnya is a small land, its people number just over a million. In the United States, there are only a few hundred Chechen political refugees, maybe a few thousand immigrants at most. Yet the region they come from has been, since the end of the Cold War, the real ground zero of a major geopolitical and energy resource battle between the West, Russia and the Gulf Kingdoms. By the law of averages, in a world as small and important as Chechen separatism and Caspian oil, coincidences like this are made far more likely than most people understand.</p><center><p>* *</p></center><p>In late summer 1999, thousands of Chechen so-called "Wahhabi" radicals invaded the Russian territory of Dagestan, led by a Saudi jihadi with a matted beard and unkempt hair named "Khattab." The invasion failed after a couple of weeks — leaving nearly 300 Russian servicemen dead. As the Chechen and Islamic jihadi forces retreated (among Khattab’s mercenaries were Afghans, Arabs and Pakistanis) Khattab told an AP reporter he’d get revenge in the form of bombings around Russia:</p><blockquote>"From now on, we will not only fight against Russian fighter jets (and) tanks. From now on, they will get our bombs everywhere. Let Russia await our explosions blasting through their cities. I swear we will do it."</blockquote><p>Khattab spoke those words to AP reporter Greg Myre — who went on to the New York Times and now, NPR — as a series of spectacular terrorist explosions brought down apartment buildings across European Russia, killing hundreds. The explosions began in early September, 1999, when a truck bomb leveled a five-story apartment block in Dagestan’s second largest city, Buinaksk, near the border with Chechnya, killing 68 and wounding over 150. The apartment building had housed Russian border guard officers and their families; many of the dead and wounded were women and children. The bombing left a 10-foot crater in front of the apartment building; two more truck bombs were timed to detonate, but were defused. The bombing coincided with a second Khattab-Chechen invasion into Dagestan.</p><p>Then the apartment bombings came to Moscow. On September 9, 1999, a nine-story apartment block was partially leveled in the Pechatniki district in the city’s south, killing 94 and wounding 249. Four days later, another apartment block structure was destroyed just a few miles away from the first, on Kashirksoye Shosse. All 119 inhabitants died in the blast, and over 200 more were injured in nearby buildings.</p><p>It was a strange and unsettling time to be in Moscow, those last few months of 1999 — like one long awful speed crash. At the time I lived in one of the big Stalin gothics, the Vysotka near Taganka, built after the war by German captive slave labor. It was exactly the sort of apartment building a real terrorist group who hated Russia — and Stalin — would want to level. The Vysotka rose above the Moscow River like a giant thumb-between-index-and-middle-finger fuck-you aimed straight at the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Because of my swarthy Sephardic looks, I was getting stopped all the time for looking like a "black ass" — a Chechen. Russian police call my looks "a face from a suspicious nationality." "Operation Whirlwind" swept up hundreds of Moscow civilians with "faces from a suspicious nationality." And just like my fellow "faces from a suspicious nationality," I tried avoiding the metro, walking in underpasses, or walking past beat cops during that time. The bribes were through the roof; some people suffered worse things than bribery. They can always find something wrong with you if they want to.</p><p>Whatever hassles I went through as someone who looked like a "black ass" was nothing compared to what Chechens and others from the Caucasus suffered: murder and terror inside of Chechnya; harassment, discrimination, hatred nearly everywhere else in Russia and in friendly pro-Russian states.</p><p>The anti-Chechen hysteria in the fall of 1999 even swept through the Kyrgyz steppes, through Tokmok, where the Tsarnaevs were living. The father, Anzar Tsarnaev, was fired during the wave of anti-Chechen hysteria, even though Kyrgyzstan is also a Muslim country.</p><p>So again the family moved. In 2000, when Tamerlan was 15 and Dzhokhar was eight, the Tsarnaevs moved two thousand miles west to Dagestan, their mother’s homeland, next door to Chechnya. They moved to a place in the center of Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, on the Caspian Sea — and the boys enrolled in School Number One.</p><p>Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the boys’ mother, is an Avar, the most numerous of Dagestan’s 34 ethnic groups packed into the volatile Russian republic. Avars are nearly one-third of Dagestan’s 3 million residents. Avars have usually been the most powerful ethnic group in Dagestan. The next largest ethnic group, the Dargin, make up 17% of the population; while ethnic Chechens, who mostly live near Dagestan’s border with Chechnya, make up just three percent.</p><p>Avars were the first peoples in the North Caucasus to convert to Islam in the fourteenth century, hundreds of years before Chechens converted. Imam Shamil, the legendary 19th-century warrior who pinned down the Tsar’s forces for decades in the Caucasus, was an Avar. Many of Imam Shamil’s best fighters were Chechens, and his guerrilla base throughout most of his campaign was in the Chechen highlands, just beyond the village of Chiri-Yust where Tamerlan and his family briefly lived.</p><p>The Tsarnaevs moved to Dagestan on their way to the United States, where Anzar’s more successful brother, Ruslan Tsarni, was establishing himself. They lived in Makhachkala from 2000 through 2002, when most of the family made their way to the US, except for Tamerlan, who joined his family in the US a year later, in 2003. Makhachkala and Dagestan were hardly peaceful places those years. The violence in Chechnya was pouring over the border into Dagestan — terror bomb blasts and assassinations were a growing problem during the years 2000-2002 when the Tsarnaevs lived there, and radical Wahhabi Islam was changing the culture. Dagestanis were traditionally Sufi Muslims — more introspective, spiritual, and institutionalized than the new radical Salafist Islam. Sufi Islam had been largely forbidden until the late 1980s; but by the early 1990s, the Sufi muftis quickly became part of the corrupt official structures, creating an opening for disaffected Dagestanis to turn to the newer strains of Salafist Islam, or "Wahhabis" as they are usually called.</p><p>Dagestan’s radical Wahhabi power spread quickly in the mid-late 1990s. By 1998-9, the Wahhabis controlled several Dagestani villages and districts that bordered on Chechnya. When the Chechens and their Arab mercenaries, led by the Saudi Ibn al-Khattab, invaded Dagestan in 1999, sparking the second Russian invasion into Chechnya a month later, the idea was that they’d merge Wahhabi Dagestan with Wahhabi Chechnya, and form a single Islamic Emirate on the oil-rich Caspian Sea.</p><p>Despite the appeal of Wahhabi Islam in Dagestan — mostly to younger males from the Avar, Dargin, or Chechen ethnic groups — most Dagestanis rejected the Chechen invasion, and Wahhabis were forced to go underground.</p><p>To get a sense of how the violence and radicalism would have affected young Tamerlan and Dzhokhar during their stay in Dagestan from 2000 through 2002/3 — when Tamerlan would’ve been 15-17 years old, and Dzhokhar 8-10 — here is a brief list of terrorism incidents that would have shaped their world at that time:</p><ul><li>March 28, 2000: Car bomb in Makhachkala injures Dagestan’s deputy prime minister and his driver</li><li>July 28, 2000: Gunmen assassinate a Dagestani police colonel in his car in a suburb of Makhachkala; two gunmen killed in the battle</li><li>August 6, 2000: Car bomb in Khassavyurt, Dagestan kills two women, injures three</li><li>August 29, 2000: 4 dead, 17 injured after rumors of a bomb scare set off a stampede in a crowded market in Khasavyurt, Dagestan</li><li>November 21, 2000: The leader of Dagestan’s ethnic Laks, Magomed Khachilaev, murdered outside his home in Makhachkala</li><li>May 31, 2001: <a href="http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/everyone-in-makhachkala-packs-a-gun/253303.html">"Everyone In Makhachkala Packs a Gun"</a>writes Anna Badkhen of the Boston Globe.</li><li>June 8, 2001: Bomb in central Makhachkala targets Dagestan’s Minister for Nationalities, Information and External Affairs. [He survives, is killed 2 years later by Wahhabi militants.]</li><li>September 1, 2001: Powerful car bomb in Makhachkala nearly vaporizes its two occupants; pieces of car and passengers sent flying hundreds of meters away</li><li>November 1 2001: The deputy speaker of Dagestan assassinated in Makhachkala</li><li>November 5, 2001: Attempted assassination using rocket-propelled grenades on mayor of Makhachkala.</li><li>January 21, 2002: IED explosion in Makhachkala kills seven Russian soldiers in a column of trucks. Nadir Khachilaev, former Duma deputy and founder of a controversial mosque in Makhachkala, is arrested. The Wall Street Journal reports that in 1997, Al Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri was arrested in Dagestan by the Russian FSB as he tried to make his way into Chechnya, and was freed from prison by Nadir Khachilaev’s intervention (and Gulf funds at his disposal). Last year, Tamerlan Tsarnaev regularly attended the radical Salafist "Khachilaev Mosque" in Makhachkala.</li><li>January 23, 2002: Gunmen assassinate deputy mayor of Makhachkala and his wife</li><li>May Day Parade, 2002: Explosions kill 42 (almost half children) and injure over 130 in Kaspiysk, 10 miles south of Makhachkala, during the Victory Day parade celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany. The bomb blast, detonated by remote control, filled the main street with body parts, pools of blood, and twisted musical instruments. Numerous victims lost their limbs. [A <a href="http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=cb7_1325872314">video</a> on LiveLeak shows the carnage, eerily reminiscent of the Boston Marathon bombing, only far bloodier.]</li></ul><p>As bloody as that brief synopsis is for a small region like Dagestan, those years, 2000-2, were considered quiet by current Dagestan terrorism standards.</p><p>In neighboring Chechnya, where the Tsarnaevs still had (and have) many close relatives, the years 2000-2 saw some of the most horrific human rights violations in 20 years of Russian-Chechen warfare and occupation. During those years, some 250,000-plus Chechen refugees streamed into "filtration camps" in neighboring Ingushetia; Dagestan turned away Chechen refugees during Putin’s campaign. Instead, ethnic Chechen refugees in Dagestan like the Tsarnaevs were routinely subjected to harassment and potential deportations — and worse.</p><p>Thousands of Chechen civilians and suspected insurgents were murdered, kidnapped, illegally detained, and tortured.</p><p>Atrocities and mass interrogations took place in the area around the Tsarnaevs’ ancestral village, Chiri-Yurt, where aunts, uncles and cousins still live.</p><p>About 10 miles from Chiri-Yurt is the town of Urus-Martan, which became a hotspot for Wahhabi radicals and foreign jihadis in the second half of 1990s, and was the site of some of the worst abuses of the Russian occupation in the early 2000s. In the late 1990s, according to the <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/print/2000/sep/18/news/mn-23005">Los Angeles Times</a>, Urus-Martan was the "heart of the [kidnapping] industry" and home to one of the most notorious "slave markets" in de facto independent Chechnya. Dzhokhar Dudayev was killed by a Russian missile strike just outside of Urus-Martan in 1996. Today, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s sister and her husband’s relatives live there. Last year, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his father visited Urus-Martan on at least two occasions. According to the <a href="http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/no-proof-chechens-blew-up-buildings/265438.html#ixzz2TmvdvKYO">Moscow Times</a>, Russian prosecutors investigating the mysterious 1999 apartment bombings claimed they found evidence of the explosives used to destroy the apartment buildings in both Urus-Martan and Chiri-Yurt. While the first apartment bombing in the fall of 1999 in Buinaksk, Dagestan, killing 68, was probably the work of Chechen and/or jihadi terrorists, there is strong evidence that the subsequent apartment blasts in Moscow that killed hundreds was the work of a faction within Russia’s secret services, operating on behalf of the Yeltsin "Family" clan and newly-appointed prime minister Vladimir Putin.</p><p>Urus-Martan was also the main base for the most violent faction of Wahhabi-inspired Chechen militants under Shamil Basayev, and foreign jihadis under Khattab. The invasion of Dagestan in 1999 was carried out largely by Chechen militants and foreign jihadis trained and stationed in Urus-Martan. As the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/09/world/war-on-terror-casts-chechen-conflict-in-a-new-light.html">New York Times</a> reported,</p><blockquote>Mr. Itslayev... is deputy editor of the Urus-Martan newspaper Marsho, or Freedom. He said the town's first Wahhabis arrived in 1997 — not from abroad, but from Dagestan, Khattab's onetime home. About 400 strong, they moved into Urus-Martan's Boarding School No. 16, built a mosque and began recruiting young people. "Some of the kids they recruited underwent three months of training in Khattab's camp in Serzhen-Yurt, and some went for six months," he said.</blockquote><p>Note that Chiri-Yurt is located halfway between Urus-Martan and Serzhen-Yurt, each about 10 miles from the Tsarnaevs’ home village. Continuing,</p><blockquote>Foreigners arrived only later, both Mr. Itslayev and Urus-Martan's deputy administrator, Mr. Goisultanov, said. "I saw myself Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Arabs, Azeris," Mr. Goisultanov said. "They had the most expensive cars — Lincolns, four-wheel drives — and the most expensive weapons, which even the Russians didn't have." <br /><br />The foreigners also had money, handing out $200 and automatic rifles to young Chechens who joined them. By mid-1998, civilian opponents were being murdered. In mid-1999, the foreign fighters staged a coup: Urus-Martan's militia was replaced by Wahhabis, and the civil court was abolished for a tribunal that adopted Shariah, the legal code of Islam based on the Koran. Girls were shooed from school and women were ordered to wear veils. Alcohol was banned. <br /><br />The group left Urus-Martan to join the August 1999 invasion of Dagestan, then returned to take power. By late 1999, he said, there were 2,000 Wahhabis; others estimated as many as 7,000. "Only one word would fit here," Mr. Itslayev said. "It was a mob."</blockquote><p>After Russian forces and their local Chechen death squad allies took control, locals in Urus-Martan were subjected to a different form of terror:</p><blockquote>"Two or three people are killed in Urus-Martan every night for the last one or two years," he said. "Innocent people are detained. Many disappear after they are arrested. And with most people, when they're found, they're corpses.</blockquote><p>While Chiri-Yurt escaped the sort of total-war bombardment that the Tsarnaevs survived in 1995, the village still suffered the direct effects of Putin’s war and crackdown. Anna Politkovskaya, the murdered Novaya Gazeta journalist and anti-Chechnya War activist, described a scene she saw in Chiri-Yurt in 2001, when Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were living just 90 miles away in Dagestan:</p><blockquote>As soon as you enter the former dormitory of the old cement factory in Chiri-Yurt, which has been turned into a refugee settlement, you hear wailing. A protracted half-animal monotone evoking the farthest reaches of despair. When these people find out that you’re a journalist, they cling to your clothing, your hands and feet, as if you were a magician, as if something essential depended on you, such as a gigantic truck with more than enough flour for everyone who is trying to survive. <br /><br />Chiri-Yurtans who earlier had taken children from the settlement into their homes to feed in the winter now turn away even infants and pregnant and nursing mothers. <br /><br />In this way, Chiri-Yurt, a beautiful, cozy little village in the foothills of the Caucasus, has turned into a cold, unpleasant settlement point, where bullets fly around like the wind. The key word is "point." A point for thousands of refugees to eat and sleep. A point of round-the-clock pain. Anything you like, except a place to live. <br /><br />"We can’t take everyone who comes to us, the way the law says to — we’re in no position to do so," says Adam Shakhgiriev, the head of migration services in Chiri-Yurt. "We can’t handle them. It’s a disaster for the village when eleven thousand displaced people are forced on our five thousand inhabitants. All of Duba-Yurt has descended upon us, all six thousand! And everyone is utterly demoralized. It’s hard to put up with these people. They’re all in terrible shape."</blockquote><p>Last year, when Tamerlan and his father visited Chechnya, they spent time in two towns with relatives — Chiri-Yurt, and Urus-Martan. Why does this matter? Because everyone has been claiming that none of this matters, dumbing down a conversation that already started at a remarkably low baseline. Evoking the world that made the Tsarnaev brothers isn’t meant to prove that every Chechen is a Wahhabi terrorist; rather, it’s meant to show you a glimpse of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s reality, the world that shaped them. It’s a world totally alien to most of us — not a facile good/evil world, or a world made for weepy Spielberg films. Unfortunately, the people who know this world least of all are the same ones policing the conversation about the Boston Marathon bombings.</p> Thu, 13 Jun 2013 08:04:00 -0700 Mark Ames, Not Safe for Work Corporation 854532 at https://img.alternet.org World Media News & Politics World chechnya Tsarnaev Inside the Collapsing Media Empire of Deceased GOP Sleaze-Peddler Andrew Breitbart https://img.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/inside-collapsing-media-empire-deceased-gop-sleaze-peddler-andrew-breitbart <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">In the year after Breitbart&#039;s death, his heirs have produced a string of grotesque episodes that have embarrassed even their own impossible-to-shame allies on the right.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_-__2013-05-05_at_10.41.45_am.jpg?itok=m8-jKr66" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>This article <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/breitbart/">first appeared at Not Safe for Work Corporation</a>.</em></p><p>This March was a cruel month for the American press. The 10th anniversary of the Iraq War briefly punctured the country's cultural amnesia, forcing hacks to sweat out another round of cringing mea culpas.</p><p>March was also the anniversary of another less epic media failure, but this one came and went without a whimper: The death of Andrew Breitbart, on March 1, 2012.</p><p>In the immediate aftermath of Breitbart's death last year, at age 43, the Beltway media reflexively whitewashed and glorified his work and legacy, canonizing a reactionary circus barker as some kind of American Icon, a gonzo iconoclast, a conservative punk rocker, or a "Zany, Magnetic Media Hacker," as <a href="http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/breitbart/">Wired's Noah Shachtman</a> put it. Publications ranging from Time, the Washington Post and Slate sang Breitbart's praises; scores of ambitious up-and-coming media figures burned both ends of the candle to compose the seminal Andrew Breitbart funeral tribute.</p><p>Some examples:</p><ul><li>The <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2012/03/andrew-breitbart-dead-media-manipulation-as-an-art-form.html#sthash.c28V6Se9.dpuf">Los Angeles Times</a>: "His genius was rooted in the realization that in the new media universe, being outrageous often gets far more attention than being authoritative...In many ways, Breitbart was a throwback to the subversive media manipulators of the 1960s, especially counterculture provocateurs like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. They courted the media with bizarre antics. Breitbart often did the same."</li><li>Jack Shafer in <a href="http://blogs.reuters.com/jackshafer/2012/03/01/andrew-breitbart-1969-2012/">Reuters</a>: "I admired the way he ignored journalistic convention and the usual ethical standards to pursue the stories that were important to him. I admired his entrepreneurial approach to journalism and his disdain for the credentialed, self-important press corps."</li><li><a href="http://entertainment.time.com/2012/03/01/andrew-breitbart-1969-2012/#ixzz2OVnjGzxj">Time</a>: "Breitbart gave hard and must have expected to get it back hard. He came out of the American political tradition that if you cared about things, then you fought about them...Part of Breitbart's legacy is a rise in the power of openly partisan journalism outlets and contested news. But if another part of his legacy–as exemplified by the first reaction to his death–is a rise in skepticism, alertness and critical reading of the media, that's not entirely a bad thing.</li><li><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/what-andrew-breitbart-meant-to-politics/2012/03/01/gIQA2zqckR_blog.html">The Washington Post</a>'s Chris Cillizza: "Andrew Breitbart was complicated. He clearly saw around the corner of where journalism was headed but the ways in which he used that insight rightfully raise questions about his ultimate motives... If you loved him, you really loved him. And if you hated him, well you really hated him. Having met Breitbart on a few occasions and corresponded with him infrequently over the years, I can't imagine he would want it any other way."</li></ul><p>This is how the mainstream press describes great iconoclasts, not paid hatchet-men and extraction industry tools like Breitbart. It's uncanny how these major media obits synced with the rebel-washed image of himself that Breitbart pushed on the public, as for example this quote from his book "Righteous Indignation":</p><blockquote>"My mission isn't to quash debate — it's to show that the mainstream media aren't mainstream, that their feigned objectivity isn't objective, and that open, rigorous debate is a positive good in our society. Man, how I long for the days of Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor, Abbie Hoffman, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, George Carlin, and Lenny Bruce."</blockquote><p>Slate's <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/obit/2012/03/andrew_breitbart_dead_what_the_conservative_firebrand_tried_to_teach_me_about_journalism_.html">Dave Weigel</a> quoted that very excerpt in his Breitbart obituary; what's interesting is Weigel's smart decision to edit the next sentence in that quote:</p><blockquote>"Today, the only people upholding their free-speech legacies are conservatives like Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh."</blockquote><p>Weigel's decision to edit out that sentence from his Breitbart quote changes everything — put that sentence in, and Weigel's Breitbart is suddenly a lot less interesting and unique and trailblazing. That edit was emblematic of the mainstream media's love affair with an otherwise garden variety GOP sleaze-peddler.</p><p>Breitbart, of course, had nothing in common with the comedians whose anti-establishment spirit he claimed to embody. Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce came up from poverty and overcame anti-Semitism and entrenched, violently enforced racism to wield their wit against powerful forces. Bruce was hounded throughout his career by the FBI, local cops and eventually blacklisted from nearly every comedy club in the United States. Whereas Breitbart <a href="http://gawker.com/5850054">collaborated</a> with the FBI and New York police to spy on Occupy Wall Street protesters. Perhaps the only thing Bruce had in common with Breitbart, who spent his career in a mostly uncritical national limelight, was his untimely death at age 40 while in the throes of paranoia and emotional collapse.</p><p>Breitbart, the adopted son of a wealthy West Los Angeles restauranteur, used his privilege to immiserate the most marginalized, impoverished, widely demonized groups of Americans. He was a faithful errand boy for rich, Scrooge McDuck tycoons like Peter Thiel, Foster Friess, and the Koch Brothers, wielding smear journalism against anyone or any interest that threatened their power — usually African-Americans or groups like ACORN, serving impoverished, neglected inner city communities.</p><p>There was nothing innovative or new about Breitbart's smear operation. Indeed, he walked a trail blazed by the now-forgotten snitches and smear artists of the McCarthy era – quasi-eccentric figures like Matt Cvetic and Henry Matusow. Cvetic drank himself to death a few years after McCarthy's fall; while Matusow recanted, was jailed for perjury, and spent the last decades of his life begging for money and working as a clown for children's parties. Breitbart, for his part, collapsed on a sidewalk outside his home in Brentwood at the tender age of 43.</p><p>It will never be known if Breitbart's death was brought on by decades of Amy Winehouse-style partying around the glass coffee tables of West Hollywood – exactly the sort of practice that can transform a healthy heart into a dried apricot — or whether he succumbed to a "natural cause" like the hysterical, unchecked hatred that seemed to have consumed his entire, physically precarious being. Though he was the father of four young children, Breitbart seemed to have spent much of his time on Twitter, baiting his perceived enemies with scatological and graphically sexualized taunts. After 25,901 Twitter entries, Breitbart reached his tweet limit, leaving behind a vast right-wing online media empire that still remains largely unexamined.</p><p>While pundits gushed over Breitbart's provocations, ignoring race-baiting blunders like the Shirley Sherrod affair and whitewashing his increasingly unhinged behavior – <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILZQSmE5Uu0">"Stop raping people!"</a> he bellowed at Occupy Wall Street protesters shortly before dropping dead — as a form of "political performance art," no one bothered asking what would come next. Who would take the reigns of Breitbart's websites and how would they preserve whatever undeserved credibility Breitbart managed to maintain in the eyes of the media, which proved to be easy prey to his bullying tactics?</p><p><strong>Breitbart's Doomsday Machine</strong></p><p>By now, it has become clear that in the months before his death, Breitbart had constructed a journalistic Doomsday Machine and programmed it for an apocalyptic episode of self-destruction. Perhaps it was convenient that Breitbart's heart exploded when it did; as a martyr, he did not have to witness the implosion of his media empire or bear the responsibility he deserved for its rapid demise.</p><p>In the year after Breitbart's death, his heirs and associates produced a string of grotesque episodes that have embarrassed even their own impossible-to-shame allies on the right, including:</p><ul><li>Spreading the lie that Chuck Hagel took money from a non-existent group called "Friends of Hamas." What began as a New York Daily News reporter's burlesque joke-hypothetical question to a Senate staffer was recycled by Breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro [see below] and reported as fact from "Senate sources." From Breitbart, the reporter's joke traveled onto the Senate floor and nearly sank Hagel's confirmation as Obama's new Defense Secretary. Even after the story was completely debunked and disavowed even by fellow right-wingers, Breitbart.com remains the only media outlet in the world that continues to stick by its debunked story;</li><li>In mid-March, Breitbart published a straight news story claiming that Paul Krugman had filed for bankruptcy. The story was sourced from an online news parody site, <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/03/11/breitbartcom-runs-with-satirical-story-about-kr/192996">The Daily Currant</a>;</li><li>Also in March, Breitbart's most famous protege, video smear-artist and convicted criminal James O'Keefe, was<a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/07/local/la-me-0308-acorn-20130308">forced</a> to pay a six-figure settlement to one of the victims of his heavily-edited ACORN videos, which was deceptively re-edited to give the impression that ACORN employees were willing to participate in sex trafficking. ACORN was once a powerful community activist organization working in mostly poor minority communities. O'Keefe's video, which was heavily promoted by Breitbart, helped destroy ACORN and ruin the careers of many of its employees. Other lawsuits against Breitbart associates continue, including one filed by Shirley Sherrod, an African-American employee of the Department of Agriculture who was fired after Breitbart pushed a heavily-edited video manipulated to make Sherrod appear as if she was anti-white. O'Keefe's work has been underwritten by everyone from billionaire libertarian <a href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2009/09/acorn_videomake.php">Peter Thiel</a> to the billionaire <a href="http://americansforprosperity.org/nebraska/newsroom/meet-james-okeefe-at-afp-citizen-journalist-training-sept-12-and-13/">Koch brothers</a> and the billionaire<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/inside-the-planning-of-a-james-okeefe-sting">Foster Friess</a>;</li><li>At the most recent CPAC conference in 2013, Breitbart.com's sponsored panel bashing Muslims was considered too hateful and extremist by CPAC's organizers and banned from the official CPAC agenda — despite the fact that Breitbart News Network is a major sponsor of CPAC.</li></ul><p>Pull the camera back a bit further, looking back on the year since Breitbart died, and the same pattern of appalling failure, journalistic fraud, and malevolence repeats itself on a broader scale. The actual record of Breitbart's legacy — not the manufactured, iconoclastic legacy cooked up by Breitbart's fanboys in mainstream media, but his real legacy — turns out to be much less than advertised.</p><p>What Breitbart really left behind is not so much a media business as an asylum for fringe-right degenerates, a motley collection of depraved losers, beer hall rage-a-holics and downright freaks offering themselves up as mercenaries for the rich and powerful, taking dirty jobs no one with a shred of self-respect would consider. As hired-assassins who couldn't hit the side of a barn if their lives depended on it, the unlikely heirs Breitbart once hired as sycophantic underlings come off as a comedy troupe of slapstick fascists — and it would be funny, if not for the powerful corporate forces sponsoring their attempts at sectarian smears and top-down class warfare.</p><p><strong>"A Major Letdown"</strong></p><p>The string of Breitbart.com's epic failures began with Andrew Breitbart's final act — what he promised would be his biggest bombshell of all, bigger than the Anthony Weiner boner-tweet, bigger than the destruction of ACORN or Shirley Sherrod. In a speech to the 2012 CPAC conference, Breitbart titillated his conservative groupies with what he said was video evidence that Barack Obama was a Manchurian candidate programmed and set upon America by Marxist Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. "Barack Obama was launched from Bill and Bernadine's salon. I was there," Breitbart snarled.</p><p>Looking haggard and swollen as he stood before the CPAC audience, slurring his words, Breitbart <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/watch-andrew-breitbarts-fiery-cpac-speech-i-have-college-days-obama-videos/">described</a> the nefarious plot that his bombshell video would soon expose, bringing down the Obama presidency:</p><blockquote>"the rest of us slept as they plotted, and they plotted, and they plotted and they oversaw hundreds of millions of dollars in the Annenberg Challenge and they had real money, from real capitalists. Then they became communists. We got to work on that. That is a parenthesis. Barack Obama is a radical, we should not be afraid to say that!"</blockquote><p>The speech was just inane and incoherent enough to be taken seriously by Glenn Beck. It should have been a warning sign; it should have been greeted with derision by everyone in the media purporting to do their job — but they were too enamored of Andrew Breitbart, too easily seduced by his marketing power, his "brand," his celebrity, his vulgar attempt at gonzo-McCarthyism... too intellectually insecure to dismiss Breitbart's fake populism for what it was: race-baiting corporate propaganda, handsomely rewarded.</p><p>Less than a week after Breitbart's heart popped like a water balloon, the heirs to his legacy were revealed on Fox News' <a href="http://video.foxnews.com/v/1494661753001/">Sean Hannity Show</a>. Seated together in a remote studio were Breitbart's new editor-in-chief Joel B. Pollak, and his mini-me, a weasel-faced anti-masturbation crusader named Ben Shapiro. Before an utterly underwhelmed and clearly disappointed Hannity, the duo unveiled the dramatic Obama video.</p><p>What Breitbart's young heirs delivered — what Andrew Breitbart's corpse delivered, posthumously — turned out to be a monumental dud. The video showed President Obama as a Harvard law student, affecting the same relaxed, monotone-dull, soporific way of speaking that soothed voters in the 2008 election. The video needed explaining — the African-American Harvard Law professor, Derrick Bell, was a race- and class-war radical, Breitbart's heirs tried to argue. And Obama hugged him — and embraced him.</p><p>To the average viewer, it was hard to get worked up over an arcane doctrine called "critical race theory," which needed explaining. Jeremiah Wright's rants needed no explaining. But Derrick Bell's did.</p><p>The anti-Obama right was visibly angry. Hannity tried his best to contain his anger at Pollak and Shapiro, but fellow Fox commentator Juan Williams, the network's token liberal, called it a clunker right on the <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/election-2012/andrew-breitbart-bombshell-video-barack-obama-college-days-released-falls-flat-article-1.1035322#ixzz2OPXGVF29">program</a>:</p><blockquote>"I must say, I thought this was going to be so much more," said Williams. "I thought this was going to be a smoking gun... But it really didn't come to much."</blockquote><p>Even Glenn Beck was <a href="http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/03/08/let-down-obama-college-tapes-released/">sorely disappointed</a> — and his bar is notoriously low — telling his radio listeners:</p><blockquote>"The Obama college tape — wasn't that a major letdown? I mean I feel bad for Andrew that that was the thing that came out right after [he died] because it was a little disappointing. I think that's because, you know, if you die you say to your wife, ‘Oh honey, I have something really important to tell you, don't let me forget.' And then you go and die. And then she finds the note. And it's like, ‘Please remind me, I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow.' That's really kind of disappointing, you know. Because you're like, ‘I thought he had something really important to tell me.' ... This thing came out and it was like, ‘The. Last. Story. Andrew. Breitbart. Did: Very. Important. Video.' And you're like...[shakes head ‘sadly, no'] ‘Not so much.'"</blockquote><p>And from there, it's been all downhill for Breitbart.com.</p><p><strong>Indentured Servitude Limbo</strong></p><p>Part of the problem was the "talent" charged with pitching and selling the video to the public. Leaving aside whatever demons Breitbart battled with and lost, his legacy is a company racked with infighting, lawsuits, scandals, embarrassments, and is staffed at key levels with sexual predators, police informants, and genocidal sociopaths.</p><p>Right-wing radio host Dana Loesch, editor-in-chief of Breitbart's "Big Journalism" site, would have been the closest thing to a number-two presentable face after Breitbart himself. But weeks before Breitbart died, Loesch had been put out to pasture from her brief stint as a CNN contributor after she came out in support of defiling enemy corpses. Early in 2012, US Marines in Afghanistan photographed themselves defiling and urinating on Taliban corpses, in violation of American military and international law; Loesch went on the air supporting the soldiers, <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2012/01/13/updated-cnn-contributor-on-marines-urinating-on/186154">adding</a> that she too would gladly pull her pants down and defile their corpses if given the chance:</p><blockquote>"I'd drop trou and do it too."</blockquote><p>Andrew Breitbart stood by Loesch, but he was alone; even Rush Limbaugh denounced the corpse defiling.</p><p>Problems with Loesch only got worse after Breitbart's demise, culminating in a lawsuit she filed in late 2012, <a href="http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/talk-radio-host-dana-loesch-files-suit-in-st-louis/article_d2839490-2ed1-5de8-8292-0a3f90204a6d.html">accusing</a> Breitbart's heirs of "forcing her into ‘indentured servitude limbo.'" Loesch's lawsuit asked for a relatively modest $75,000 in compensation (given Breitbart's billionaire sponsors), and demanded that Breitbart.com LLC release her from her contractual duties.</p><p>Loesch's lawsuit, filed at the end of 2012, offers a rare insight into the chaotic and poisonous corporate culture that Andrew Breitbart left behind.</p><p>The lawsuit describes Breitbart.com LLC as "poorly managed" and describes Breitbart's heirs as a "vindictive party" determined "to sabotage the reputation and career" of Dana Loesch.</p><p>Claiming that she'd been identified as "the face of the Breitbart empire" in the fall of 2012, Loesch's lawsuit alleges "internal difficulties the new company had with managing the media ‘empire'" and claimed "the working environment for Loesch became increasingly hostile."</p><p>Loesch claimed her contract allowed her to terminate their agreement with a 30-day written notice; Breitbart.com LLC responded that she was bound by the contract to continue with Breitbart.com, yet at the same time, denied her access to the website, effectively muzzling the media company's only media semi-celebrity.</p><p>With Loesch out of the picture, the "face of Breitbart.com" title has mostly gone to the same two clowns — Joel Pollak and Ben Shapiro — who botched the Obama student video on the Sean Hannity Show, and started Breitbart down the long slide into the fringe-right margins.</p><p>And that is just how Pollak and his little sidekick Shapiro, a pair of ambitious celebrity-seekers, like it. Pollak and Shapiro both harbor deluded fantasies of becoming the telegenic faces and voices of the conservative movement. The only thing holding them back: their faces and voices.</p><p><strong>The Dorm Troll</strong></p><p>Joel Pollak was born in South Africa, and moved to suburban Chicago at a young age, becoming a US citizen by age 10. Pollak enrolled in Harvard in the mid-90s, telling a local paper that his dream was to become the Ted Koppel of his generation, with his own TV program like Nightline. It explains a lot — as the idealistic part of that dream soured, all that has remained is the childhood ambition to be a TV talking head; the content is fungible.</p><p>In every way Joel Pollak of the 1990s was a different creature, conforming to the politics and mood of the Clinton era: Photographs of Pollak as an undergrad show him proudly sporting an expansive "Jewfro" — he looks much happier and almost likeable, if not human, in his Jewfro. Pollak was a Democrat student activist in his undergrad years. <a href="http://www.boston.com/yourtown/cambridge/gallery/harvard_protests?pg=7">Another photograph</a> shows young Joel Pollak, with his Jewfro cropped, smiling as he screams in unison with other pro-Clinton activists protesting against the Clinton impeachment hearings.</p><p>We spoke to several former Harvard classmates of Pollak. Each offered a uniform description of an extremely aggressive, often blundering, always self-promoting character who knew no shame. One former classmate who knew him during his undergraduate years and then during his time at Harvard Law School told us the young Pollak idolized Cornel West, the former Harvard African-American studies professor, socialist activist and critical race theory proponent.</p><blockquote>"He absolutely loved Cornell West. He would try to present himself to us as West's darling. Some Harvard students like to collect relationships with famous professors so it was also part of that."</blockquote><p>In 1999, Pollak graduated Harvard, and moved back to his native South Africa, where he remained until at least 2006, working as a speech writer for a controversial white, Jewish South African politician, Tony Leon, who was accused by top ANC politicians,<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/30/world/south-africa-fears-past-still-breeds-racist-evils.html">including former President Thabo Mbeki</a>, of racism. Leon inherited a party that had been known for its comparatively progressive politics during the apartheid-era, merged it with the pro-apartheid National Party, and made race-baiting and fear a cornerstone of his politics.</p><p>It was while working for Leon that Pollak met his future wife, Julia Bertlesmann.</p><p>Bertelsmann was the daughter of Tony Leon's close friend, Rhoda Kadalie Bertelsmann, herself a well-known columnist and political activist with neoliberal leanings. After apartheid collapsed, Rhoda Kadalie turned against the ANC and "majoritarian" politics, favoring instead the neoliberal politics of Tony Leon's party, and its alignment with Ariel Sharon and George Bush. As the ANC veered the country away from the special alliance it enjoyed with Israel during the apartheid era, Kadalie Bertelsmann emerged as one of South Africa's most fervent apologists for the Israeli government, authoring a series of op-eds condemning critical comparisons of Israeli policies towards Palestinians to those of apartheid-era South Africa.</p><p>Before falling under the sway of Tony Leon's race-baiting neocon politics, Pollak was a Clinton Democrat. When he left South Africa in 2006, Pollak says, he had become an opponent of the concept of majority rule — which in the context of South Africa means opposing black rule.</p><p>No surprise then that Pollak explicitly equated his opposition to majority rule (i.e. black rule) to his opposition to America's first black president, which he describes in "Proud To Be Right":</p><blockquote>"I saw in Barack Obama's presidency the roots of a cult of personality. I recognized in the Democrats' eager rush to consolidate political power, and to expand rapidly the role of the federal government in the American economy — adangerous majoritarian impulse that our Constitution, and my experience in South Africa, warned against."</blockquote><p>Pollack's return to the US coincided with Bertlesmann – then 18 or 19, and Pollack a decade older – enrolling in Harvard. Pollack didn't just follow his future wife to Harvard, but according to former classmates, he also moved in to her dormroom, along with her teenage friends.</p><p>As one former Harvard student described the situation to us:</p><blockquote>"When she was an undergrad, they were living together in her dorm room. From what I heard, it was something that people in the house there thought was kind of strange. An older law student always being there all the time with these younger students—and being his usual obnoxious self who was not even low key.<p>"I know a few people who know Julia [Bertelsmann]…and the consistent theme is there was this really smart, promising, beautiful high school student and somehow she ended up with this guy. Dot, dot, dot, question mark – what's up with that? It might be part of [Pollak's] personality. He sees something he wants and goes for it."</p></blockquote><p>It was at Harvard, where he had enrolled at law school, that Pollak authored a new book denouncing Obama's election victory, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Tell-Me-Words-Matter/dp/0979704286">"Don't Tell Me Words Don't Matter: How Rhetoric Won The 2008 Presidential Election."</a></p><p>"He goes up against someone big and tries to puff himself up," the former classmate told us. "That's kind of his formula."</p><p>Ignored even by fellow right-wingers, Pollak's book on Obama was published by an obscure, Illinois based company specializing in medical textbooks, HC Press — which happens to be owned by Joel's parents, <a href="http://www.hippocratesconsulting.com/AboutUs.aspx">Raymond and Naomi Pollak</a>. The future heir to the Breitbart empire was over 30 years old, living in his girlfriend's college dorm, and tapping his parents' money to attack welfare and Big Government handouts.</p><p>On campus, Pollak took on the role of ultra-Zionist enforcer, working closely with the pro-Israel super-lawyer and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to stamp out any iterations of Palestine solidarity activity. Pollak's pro-Israel histrionics were on most vivid display in a class taught by Harvard law professor Duncan Kennedy, one of the most influential and renowned legal theorists of the past few decades.</p><p>Pollak and Dershowitz both loathed Duncan Kennedy's politics, a loathing made clear by Pollak's own personal blog rants at the time. Despite that hostility (and the waiting list) Prof. Kennedy made sure that Pollak was enrolled in his class, and he hired Pollak his research assistant. On his personal blog <a href="http://guidetotheperplexed.blogspot.com/">"Guide To The Perplexed,"</a> which still stands as a record of his strange college years, Pollak blogged critically, almost obsessively about Kennedy.</p><p>Fellow law students recalled how a class debate on whether armed resistance by a theoretical occupied population was permissible set off Pollak into one of his notorious fits of histrionics.</p><p>According to one classmate, "He came back to class a week later and slammed a hunk of metal on the table and started shouting, ‘This is what you people are justifying! You are supporters of terrorism! This is piece of a Qassam rocket that's fallen near [the Israeli city of] Sderot!' Basically his behavior was embarrassing even to the other Zionists in the course."</p><p>The classmate added, "[Pollak] is just someone who, in everything he did, speaking as someone who's known him over the years, the persistent characteristic is a very, very deep lack of inhibition or shame." He added, "I don't know if it's because he received too much positive reinforcement as a child or what. And in a way, it's kind of admirable – he's always willing to say something no matter how ridiculous or inappropriate it might be in the circumstances."</p><p>In 2010, after graduating from law school, Pollak declared his candidacy for Congress as a Tea Party challenger against Democratic, Chicago-area stalwart Jan Schiakowsky. Despite an endorsement from his former taskmaster Dershowitz, a desperate deployment of his mixed-race wife to brand himself as an enlightened moderate, and an embarrassing but highly entertaining <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shzBnRJfOVI">song routine</a> (imagine a Teabagger's version of that folk singer from Animal House), Pollak was trounced. He failed in an election where nearly every half-baked Tea Party challenger destroyed Democratic opponents. That should have been an ignominious end to his career, but then Breitbart came along with a liferaft.</p><p>From Harvard Law graduate to abject political failure, Pollak was recruited by Breitbart to help edit his growing portfolio of right-wing smear sites. And it is there that Pollak's story of shamelessness, bizarre twists and ethically dubious behavior reached wild new lows.</p><p><strong>Genocide Ben</strong></p><p>Since Breitbart's death, Breitbart.com has been defined almost as much by Pollak as it has by his tightly wound little sidekick, Ben Shapiro, now the site's editor-at-large.</p><blockquote>"I know this sounds pathetic, but I've never been to a rock concert" --Ben Shapiro, June 17, 2011</blockquote><p>Ben Shapiro — known variously as "Virgin Ben," "Tali-Ben," or simply "Genocide Ben" — has constructed for himself a biography that makes him look like some sort of prodigy wunderkind. One thing Ben wants to stress is that he was 16 years old when he started college at UCLA.</p><blockquote>"I'm twenty-one years old, a heterosexual red-blooded American male, a graduate of University of California at Los Angeles, a student at Harvard Law School, a nationally syndicated columnist, a bestselling author...and a virgin. And I'm proud of it." —Ben Shapiro, "Porn Generation"</blockquote><p>Ben Shapiro's most useful talent is that he makes Joel Pollak look sane, cool and relaxed. Shapiro's job is to fidget nervously while holding his tongue, like his bladder's about to explode through his nose — providing needed contrast to Pollak.</p><p>As boy-wonder prodigies go, Ben Shapiro sure picked a shitty career path. A real prodigy would've pursued a mad artistic or science dream, or cashed in by taking a job in finance or management consulting; but Ben chose to be a lowly Republican errand boy instead, taking an almost masochistic pleasure in making as much of an ass of himself as is humanly possible.</p><blockquote>"There are at least 100,000 child pornography websites available on the Internet. Also available: incestuous porn, bestial porn, and with extreme commonness, ‘virgin' porn — for those guys who like to pretend that their fetish girls really haven't done anything before taping a hard core sex video. ‘Schoolgirl' porn is especially typical — from ‘first-time lesbian' schoolgirls to ‘organ' schoolgirl porn. The ‘college roommates' idea is also big; lesbian porn between co-eds is insanely popular. The idea that the porn industry doesn't push men to look at fifteen- to eighteen-year-old girls as sex objects is ridiculous." —Ben Shapiro, "Porn Generation"</blockquote><p>Some of what Ben Shapiro publishes is fascinating for the sheer Freudian freakshow entertainment value. Some are downright bizarre and raise all sorts of obvious questions, as in "How did Harvard let a deranged lughead like the author of this piece into its esteemed law school?" For example, <a href="http://townhall.com/columnists/benshapiro/2005/06/29/when_justices_become_dictators">this</a> Ben Shapiro-authored attack on the Supreme Court. It's a piece of pure meatheadery, beginning with the headline, "When Justices Become Dictators." It begins:</p><blockquote>"This week, the Supreme Court of the United States once again proved that it is a feckless, dictatorial and altogether ridiculous body. Its latest spate of decisions reveals legislative usurpation, disingenuous deference and silly inconsistency. But, of course, what else should we expect from the court that tells us our Constitution protects pornography but not political advertising, sodomy but not the Ten Commandments, and mentally disabled murderers but not private property?"</blockquote><p>Prose that deranged and clunky wouldn't grade a "C" in your average Californian community college expository writing course. But apparently Harvard Law School's admission committee read that and thought, "We have our new Oliver Wendell Holmes!" Either that, or Harvard Law has a quota for fringe-right nutcases like Shapiro.</p><p>That's the black comedy side of Ben Shapiro's punditry. But there's a darker side to Shapiro's writing that reveals him as much worse than a mere silly nutcase. Ben Shapiro is on record advocating genocide against Palestinian Arabs in Greater Israel. Advocating genocide is considered a war crime — Nazi journalists were hung in Nuremberg for advocating genocide, and Hutu media personalities who advocated genocide in Rwanda have also been charged with genocide.</p><p>Yet that didn't stop Harvard Law School's Ben Shapiro from penning a column, "Transfer Is Not A Dirty Word," calling for ethnic cleansing — which is legally classified as <a href="http://www.crimesofwar.org/a-z-guide/ethnic-cleansing/">genocide</a> and a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.</p><p>Here is Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large at Breitbart, <a href="http://townhall.com/columnists/benshapiro/2003/08/27/transfer_is_not_a_dirty_word/page/full/">advocating genocide</a>:</p><blockquote>"Here is the bottom line: If you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper. It's an ugly solution, but it is the only solution. Any time the Jews get wise and threaten mass expulsion of Arabs, the Arabs pull out their big stick, equating Nazism with Zionism... Their spokespeople cry 'Genocide!' And the Jews cower in fear that they could be equated with their parents' murderers. The Jews don't realize that expelling a hostile population is a commonly used and generally effective way of preventing violent entanglements. It's time to stop being squeamish. Jews are not Nazis. Transfer is not genocide. And anything else isn't a solution."</blockquote><p>Actually it is genocide. And it's the reason why Ben Shapiro came to be known as "Genocide Ben."</p><p>Here, then, is Andrew Breitbart's true legacy: His two leading heirs, Joel Pollak and Genocide Ben Shapiro, stepping in as the new faces of Breitbart.com to unveil the Obama student video that Andrew himself promised would bring down Obama's presidency, just as he helped bring down ACORN, Shirley Sherrod, Andrew Weiner, and a handful of tweedy NPR executives.</p><p>But without Breitbart's privileged Brentwood demeanor to make the smearing appear vaguely respectable, the Breitbart.com operation is being pushed further into the margins of its own conservative movement, as evidenced when CPAC banished this year's Breitbart hate seminar to the unofficial margins of the CPAC convention, which already had enough hate and racism on its agenda.</p><p><strong>Last Refuge Of A Daily Caller Scoundrel</strong></p><p>What's most fascinating about Breitbart's legacy is that these two central characters — Joel B. Pollak and Ben Shapiro — are the best they have to offer. Look at the layer below them in the Breitbart media group, and it's like pulling up the rotted, vermin-infested floorboards in a rotted old swamp shack —where degenerates and quasi-fascist maniacs permeate the entire Breitbart culture. Here you get a look at the late Andrew Breitbart's true personal sensibility, through the pathological tendencies of his chosen heirs. The minions who comprise the Breitbart community include:</p><ul><li>John Nolte, Breitbart.com editor and blogger. Has repeatedly called for murdering teachers and mothers. During Occupy protests in November 2011, Nolte <a href="http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40218_Breitbart_Editor_John_Nolte-_Teachers_Who_Take_Kids_to_Protests_Should_Be_Murdered">tweeted</a>, "Teachers who take kids to protests without parents' permission should be murdered." In April 2012, he responded to an HBO comedy show gag involving a young girl by<a href="http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40211_Breitbart_Editor_John_Nolte_About_HBO_Stage_Mom-_She_Should_Be_Murdered">writing</a>, "whoever this little girl's stage mom is… she should be murdered." When police violently cracked down on Occupy protests, Nolte was <a href="http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/39453_Breitbart_Editor-In-Chief_Incites_Violence_Against_OWS_Protesters">sexually aroused</a>: "Dirty, filthy #OWS hippies getting what they deserve from cops = MY PORN"; "Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes. Dirty, filthy hippies arrested with bruises and gashes…"; "sniff sniffThere's just something about a police baton swung towards the skull of <a href="https://twitter.com/search/realtime/%23OWS">#OWS</a> that sniff chokes a man up.<a href="https://twitter.com/search/realtime/%23ItsSoBeautiful">#ItsSoBeautiful</a>".</li><li>Jeff Dunetz: Breitbart.com blogger nicknamed "Yid With Lid," Dunetz, has accused practically everything alive or dead of "anti-Semitism", from <a href="http://yidwithlid.blogspot.com/2011/07/why-does-media-matters-hate-jews-and.html">Media Matters and George Soros</a>, to<a href="http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/03/11/Judging%20Obama%20by%20His%20Antisemitic%20Friends">President Obama</a>, and even corporations like Delta Airlines.</li><li>Kurt Schlichter, Breitbart.com columnist. Advocated <a href="https://twitter.com/KurtSchlichter/statuses/84715651431800832">mass-murdering</a> peaceful American protesters on board a flotilla sent to Gaza to protest Israel's blockade; <a href="https://twitter.com/KurtSchlichter/status/284355402341175296">urged</a> conservatives to arm themselves and prepare for war against the left because "Leftists want us dead. D-E-A-D."</li><li>Ali Akbar, <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/03/09/Soledad%20OBrien%20Critical%20Race%20Theory">Breitbart columnist</a> and head of <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/03/01/RememberBreitbart-National-Bloggers-Club-Commemorates-Breitbart-s-Legacy-with-Three-Initiatives">Breitbart.com-associated</a> outfit the <a href="http://www.blogbash.org/">National Bloggers Club</a>, is a <a href="http://www.breitbartunmasked.com/rogues-gallery/ali-a-akbar-ghetto-burglar/">convicted felon</a> who was jailed and put on probation for four years for credit card fraud, vehicle burglary, and intent to commit theft.</li><li>Brandon Darby, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/brandon-darby-anarchist-fbi-terrorism?page=1">FBI informant</a> who infiltrated young anarchist protest groups and ratted them out, leading to arrests and jail time for his former friends. Darby also spied on an Arab-American school teacher and peace activist, Riad Hamad, whom Darby claimed had asked him to launder money for Middle East terrorists. Not long afterwards, Hamad's <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20080623195535/http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=8176879&amp;nav=menu73_2_10">corpse</a> was fished out of a lake, his arms bound and his mouth duct-taped; police ruled it a <a href="http://web.archive.org/liveweb/http://home.kxan.com/news_PDFs/4.17.08APD-hammad.pdf">suicide</a>. After Darby outed himself as an informant, Andrew Breitbart brought him into his close circle of friends, and had Darby accompany him in public demonstrations in support of the Koch brothers.</li><li>James O'Keefe, convicted of attempting to illegally spy on a US Senator and forced to pay large settlements to victims of his manipulated videos which destroyed the livelihoods of several people.</li><li>Lee Stranahan: Breitbart.com blogger who spent years peddling <a href="http://stranahan.deviantart.com/">photographs</a> specializing in many of Genocide Ben's favorite fetishes, including <a href="http://www.deviantart.com/print/1887250/">bondage</a> and <a href="http://www.deviantart.com/print/1883950/">S&amp;M</a>, and Ben's fave,<a href="http://www.feuer-und-eis-galerie.de/stranahan-nudes/stranahan7.htm">schoolgirl lesbian fetishes</a>. Stranahan covered the Steubenville rape trial for Breitbart.com, tweeting out his belief that the rape of the 16-year-old schoolgirl was <a href="https://twitter.com/Stranahan/statuses/290120582794706944">not "brutal"</a> and that many women tell him that their rapes are not "brutal" but merely "non consensual." During the Trayvon Martin murder trial hearings last summer, Stranahan <a href="http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40621_-Breitbart.coms_Lee_Stranahan_Outs_Sexual_Abuse_Victim">outed</a> the name of a witness who claimed she'd been sexually abused by Martin's killer.</li></ul><p>If there's one thing Breitbart's heirs can be thankful for, it's that there'll always be an endless stream of degenerate right-wing failures looking for an asylum they can call home. And Breitbart.com will be there to welcome them in, weaponize them for the wealthy right-wing, and turn them on the rest of us.</p><p>Recently, the Breitbart.com Asylum welcomed another inmate:<a href="http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/01/women-sen-bob-menendez-paid-us-for-sex-in-the-dominican-republic/">Matthew Boyle</a>, the discredited author of the Daily Caller's fraudulent smear articles against Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Boyle's article for the Daily Caller alleged that Sen. Menendez paid Dominican prostitutes for sex. That story was subsequently completely debunked by The Washington Post, after the prostitutes confessed that they were paid to lie about Menendez.</p><p>A Dominican prosecutor <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57575868/conservative-website-accused-of-paying-prostitutes-to-lie-about-sex-with-senator/">accused</a> the Daily Caller of paying the prostitutes $5,000 to lie about Sen. Menendez and the site has since distanced itself from that fiasco.</p><p>The author of that smear, Matthew Doyle, today proudly describes his current job as "<a href="http://www.breitbart.com/Columnists/Matthew-Boyle">investigative journalist for Breitbart News Network</a>."</p> Sun, 05 May 2013 10:40:00 -0700 Mark Ames, Max Blumenthal, Not Safe for Work Corporation 835387 at https://img.alternet.org The Right Wing Media The Right Wing breitbart How Planet Money, This American Life and NPR Have Become Key Players in the Bankers’ Propaganda War on What's Left of Our Social Contract https://img.alternet.org/media/how-planet-money-american-life-and-npr-have-become-key-players-bankers-propaganda-war-whats <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Welcome to what passes for the &quot;liberal&quot; media.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_-__2013-04-26_at_2.11.58_pm.jpg?itok=UYW2jOq7" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>This article first appeared at <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/unfit-to-report/">Not Safe for Work Corporation</a>.</em></p><p>Just over a week ago,  my Twitter feed started getting bombarded with links to the latest — and quite possibly the scummiest — Planet Money/This American Life propaganda piece on NPR for the financial industry, disguised as highbrow progressive journalism.</p><p>The piece was called <a href="http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/">"Unfit For Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America"</a> and it essentially argued — using wildly flawed research and straight-up lies — that our Social Security program is burdened by a glut of freeloader disability queens, faking their disabilities in order to live high on the Social Security disability insurance hog.</p><p>Why would NPR run such a flawed, biased story? The answer takes us right to the heart of Wall Street’s plans to privatize government benefits, which Wall Street bond holders want to slash for their own profits. This battle pits powerful Wall Street interests and their media and political lackeys on the one side, versus an overwhelming majority of Americans — Republicans and Democrats both — on the other. In the middle stands a radio piece from a trusted source, NPR/This American Life/Planet Money, telling its progressive, educated audience that there is in fact a problem with Social Security, and that problem is a bunch of human parasites faking disability to suckle from the Social Security teat.</p><p>It’s the sort of rancid old 1930s anti-New Deal propaganda that the American Liberty League or NAM or the Chamber of Commerce used to puke out on a regular basis. But this is 2013, meaning this time around, the battleground is on the putative left, pitting the Democratic Party leaders including Obama against the people who voted for him, and who have nowhere else to turn. On the Democratic Party’s side: their funders on Wall Street, and their neoliberal propagandists in pundit-land and in universities. The key isn’t winning over right-wing conservatives, but rather affluent progressives — i.e., Planet Money's and NPR’s audience. If they can flip that demographic, Social Security is privatized toast.</p><p>The good thing is that the piece was such obvious crap, so intellectually flawed and propaganda-soaked, that Ira Glass and the This American Life/Planet Money/NPR people were forced to respond to their critics. The downside is that the critics were far too respectful, basing their criticism on factual flaws rather than on the corruption that made the flawed reporting not just possible, but inevitable.</p><p>Here's a U Illinois professor respectfully <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lennard-davis/npr-reporter-chana-joffew_b_2971443.html">critiquing</a> the piece on the Huffington Post:</p><blockquote>Ms. Joffe-Walt, who is neither an economist nor a specialist on disability, is making a claim that in an economics class would be red penciled with the corrective... <br /><br />The logical error in her reporting comes from simply assuming that the rising number of people on disability is the result of the collusion between poor unemployed people and cash-strapped states. But the reality may be closer to the fact that the Baby Boomer generation, as it ages, becomes more and more subject to impairments that lead to disabilities. Since a third of people with disabilities are those with mental disorders, it is also no surprise that the dramatic rise in diagnoses of depression, OCD, and autism in the same period have had an impact on these statistics.</blockquote><p><a href="http://ourwww.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/14787/how_this_american_life_got_disability_wrong/">In These Times</a> and the great <a href="http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/planet-money-misses-the-boat-on-social-security-disability">Dean Baker</a> also went after the Planet Money piece with padded kid gloves; perhaps they were thrown off by the fatal assumption that Planet Money and NPR are on the same progressive team as they.</p><p>Only Media Matters offered something like a comprehensive critique of the piece, debunking the Planet Money PR falsehoods<a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/03/22/this-american-life-features-error-riddled-story/193215">one by one</a>.</p><p>Not surprisingly, the right-wing blogosphere went ga-ga over Planet Money’s attack on what we may as well call "disability queens": <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/03/25/Govt-Spends-More-On-Disability-Than-Food-Stamps-And-Welfare-Combined">Breitbart</a>, that annoying mannequin-head from the<a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda/343842/social-security-disability-insurance-and-misaligned-incentives-reihan-salam">National Review</a>, <a href="http://nation.foxnews.com/disability-claims/2013/03/25/every-month-14-million-people-get-disability-check-government?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed:+FoxNation+(Fox+Nation)">Fox Nation</a>, and Drudge, to name a few. To welfare-bashers and wingers, Planet Money’s hit piece on these manufactured disability queens was a fine example of real investigative journalism.</p><p>As we reported last year at our <a href="http://observer.com/2012/08/adam-davidson-planet-money-media-ethics-08092012/">SHAME Project</a> and in my piece for the <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/adam-davidson/">NSFWCORP</a>, Planet Money has a serious conflict-of-interest problem when it reports on anything involving the banking sector. Planet Money’s sole sponsor, as of late last year, is Ally Bank (formerly GMAC), one of the world’s most toxic subprime lenders. Ally/GMAC preyed on Americans on the upside, then plundered taxpayers for over $17 billion in TARP bailout funds when their fraud schemes came crashing down. As we showed, the disturbing overlap between GMAC’s lobbying efforts against bank regulation bills, and Planet Money programs attacking that legislation and its promoters, means that Planet Money has essentially doubled as a sophisticated PR vessel targeting a key audience unaware of the Planet Money/NPR financial arrangement with the banking industry.</p><p>The corrupt arrangement caught the attention of the <a href="http://observer.com/2012/08/adam-davidson-planet-money-media-ethics-08092012/">New York Observer</a>, <a href="http://www.fair.org/blog/2012/08/17/at-npr-you-can-take-money-from-banks-just-dont-protest-them/">Fairness and Accuracy in Media</a>, and others. Planet Money, This American Life and NPR have all been party to journalistic fraud against their audience, and they’re laughing all the way to the bailed-out bank with the help of your NPR donation.</p><p>When you know that Planet Money’s sole sponsor is a predatory lender, this hit-piece on Social Security "disability queens" makes an appalling sort of sense. Social Security is actually a fully funded and well-managed program. That’s precisely why Wall Street has been trying to grab it for years. When furious NPR viewers objected to seeing their donations funding anti-Social Security propaganda, Ira Glass felt compelled to issue this <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/03/26/under-fire-this-american-life-stands-by-mislead/193280">statement</a>standing by the reporting: "We know of no factual errors. We stand by the story."</p><p>Yet, as a Wired reporter <a href="http://mediamatters.org/authors/hannah-groch-begley/188">pointed out</a>, Planet Money did alter the online version of the show after listeners raised a fuss. NPR finally admitted that the text had been altered, lamely explaining that "sentences were changed for clarity after publication."</p><p>This is the sort of thing you expect from a Murdoch operation, not from NPR or This American Life. But why would any honorable NPR staffers go along with this sleazy project? Well, to put it bluntly, the staff of Planet Money are pretty sleazy themselves. Here’s a brief summary of their sordid publication histories:</p><ul><li>In 2010, Chana Joffe-Walt co-authored with Adam Davidson an appalling piece of <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126821407">"blame-the Greeks" propaganda</a> that could have been written by a giant bond fund. (Oddly enough, half the piece takes place in the offices of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond fund.) Their piece blames Greece’s debt problems squarely on the bad big-spending Greek government and Greek public-sector workers like teachers. And, while vilifying teachers, Joffe-Walt and Davidson portray bond magnates as helpless well-meaning victims. Here’s a part of the transcript:</li></ul><blockquote>ADAM DAVIDSON: Chana, I think this is where I should come in, because I actually do know where the money came from. I know where Greece got that money and it wasn't from heaven. It was from Newport Beach... PIMCO decided, hey, let's take a second look at Greece. Let's start lending them money. Let's buy a bunch of their bonds. And PIMCO was not the only one. <br /><br />Mr. SCOTT MATHER (PIMCO): And the market was basically giving Greece the benefit of the doubt, because they were a eurozone member, part of the club. <br /><br />DAVIDSON: Sure, Greece's governments were famous for their long history of lousy financial management. But now they promised to act like grownups, to be responsible… And Scott figured even if Greece did screw up, the richer countries would step in and help them out. <br /><br />CHANA JOFFE-WALT: That's a nice crystal ball. <br /><br />DAVIDSON: ..Right. So PIMCO starts lending the country money at rates closer to what those Germans and Finns are paying. And that makes all loans in Greece cheaper, not just government loans. And this goes on for nearly a decade. <br /><br />JOFFE-WALT: And so back in Greece, 2009, there's a new government that comes into power and the new government makes a surprise announcement. They say, remember how the previous guys said that our deficit was six percent? It's actually twice that. <br /><br />DAVIDSON: The traders at PIMCO, like bond traders all over the world, were shocked. They were furious.</blockquote><p>Yes, they were shocked! Shocked I tell ya! They had no idea in 2009 such a thing was possible — just as shocked as they were the year before, in 2008, when they overleveraged and destroyed the entire global financial system.</p><p>Davidson and Joffe-Walt continue on with their PIMCO propaganda piece:</p><blockquote>DAVIDSON: This is Mohamed El-Erian. He is the CEO of PIMCO. And he says when they told Greece no more loans, we're not buying anymore of your bonds, the Greek government asked them to reconsider. <br /><br />Dr. El-ERIAN: The Greek government came with lots of offerings. <br /><br />DAVIDSON: Did they come to you directly? <br /><br />Dr. El-ERIAN: They did come to us directly, via our offices in Germany and London. And we said thank you, but no thank you. <br /><br />DAVIDSON: Not just PIMCO, most bond buyers all over the world were saying: No, Greece. We won't lend you money. We won't buy your bonds. The governments of Europe though, said okay, Greece. We'll bail you out but only if you stop paying all those teachers, and postal workers, and lake dryer-uppers all that money.</blockquote><p>I have to stop here and repeat what Adam Davidson just said there, defending PIMCO against "teachers, and postal workers, and lake dryer-uppers." So we’re now to lump together teachers, postal workers and "lake-dryer-uppers." That’s what an education from the University of Chicago will get you.</p><p>Back to the Davidson &amp; Joffe-Walt PIMCO show:</p><blockquote>JOFFE-WALT: Which pretty much brings us up to date, the Greek people are really mad. <br /><br />(Soundclip of chanting protestors) <br /><br />DAVIDSON: And the guys at PIMCO understand that. The Greek government made some bad choices and now the Greek citizens are being asked to pay for them, with their salaries and their pensions. And Scott Mather says it's not just Greece. <br /><br />Mr. MATHER: Most of the developed world is screwed. So the rich world has continued to spend more than they’ve made for decades. To us, the most startling thing is this disconnect where people think there is some easier way out. There is no easy way out. <br /><br />JOFFE-WALT: Greece may be one of the worst examples, but almost every developed country - including the U.S... <br /><br />DAVIDSON: Especially, Chana, the U.S. <br /><br />JOFFE-WALT: Especially the U.S., every country has been borrowing more than they can pay back without making difficult choices; without raising taxes or spending less.</blockquote><p>So the mystery of Chana Joffe-Walt’s ideological baggage is solved: She’s an austerity-theorist, just like her boss Adam Davidson and just like their show’s sole sponsor, Ally Bank (which just happened to take over $17 billion in taxpayer bailout money). No blame from Chana Joffe-Walt for the financial industry, despite all the illegal, fraudulent, corrupt things they’ve been caught doing over and over and over to profit off debt. No, Chana believes it’s all the teachers, postal workers, and lake-dryer-uppers’ fault. She also wants you to know that without "difficult" choices, such as robbing your pensions and reducing your income, America will turn into Greece, that terrible place, full of lake-dryer-uppers.</p><p>Chana Joffe-Walt’s job, selling bank propaganda to ostensibly progressive media, seems to run in her family. Chana’s brother, Benjamin Joffe-Walt, works in the heart of the Mega-Bank propaganda business, as a Washington DC-based "Strategic Communications &amp; Public Relations Specialist" currently heading Change.org’s public relations.</p><p>Benjamin is using Change.org exactly the same way his sister is using NPR: exploiting a trusted source to churn out corporate PR. Change.org used to be one of the most successful progressive grassroots organizing outfits, a site for online petitions that translate into political action. Then late last year, Change.org was furtively taken over by the PR industry, monetizing the credibility Change.org had built up and making it available to front-groups, the public relations industry and advertisers.</p><p>Last year, Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/changeorg-corporate-gop-campaigns-internal-documents_n_1987985.html">exposed</a> Change.org internal memos laying out the group’s transformation into a fake-progressive front:</p><blockquote>Change.org, the online social movement company founded on progressive values, has decided to change its advertising policy to allow for corporate advertising, Republican Party solicitations, astroturf campaigns, anti-abortion or anti-union ads and other controversial sponsorships, according to internal company documents.</blockquote><p>Like his sister Chana Joffe-Walt, Benjamin Joffe-Walt used to call himself a journalist. Then he filed for The Guardian a <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20110222233038/http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/a-reporter-who-got-too-near-the-action-512060.html">wildly false story</a> about a Chinese pro-democracy dissident, a story which a Guardian editor said "threatened the credibility of the Guardian’s reporting in China." Benjamin reported seeing Chinese dissident Lu Banglie beaten by Chinese authorities so badly that "his eye [lay] out of his socket" and "the ligaments in his neck were broken." So the Guardian arranged an independent medical examination for Lu Banglie, and, according to the Independent...</p><blockquote>It soon emerged there was..."a huge disparity" between the report and reality. Lu Banglie's neck was not broken, nor had his eye come out of its socket. Indeed, just two days after publishing the tale of his apparent demise, The Guardian reported that Lu Banglie was alive and determined to continue his pro-democracy activities. A subsequent medical examination, arranged by the newspaper, revealed that he had "no serious injuries". Ian Mayes reported that, among Guardian readers, "Relief that Lu Banglie had survived was mixed with serious concern about grave flaws in the correspondent's report."</blockquote><p>Today, Chana Joffe-Walt’s brother works for a fake-progressive front group and his job is "placement" in major media. From his <a href="http://benjamin.joffe-walt.com/bio/">bio</a>:</p><blockquote>He leads a global team of communications specialists presenting Change.org to a wide range of audiences. Prominent placements have included TIME, New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Bloomberg, Fortune, Businessweek, CNN, The Daily Show, Ellen...."</blockquote><p>In other words, Joffe-Walt’s brother’s job is to convince media outlets to run stories he’s pushing for. This is interesting because both brother and sister work for major ostensibly-progressive outfits, both of which are now being exploited as message-dumps for Wall Street. This is, at the very least, an interesting coincidence. Which brings me to the last interesting thing I noticed: The Planet Money/This American Life/NPR hit-piece on Social Security lists as its sponsor the Lincoln Financial Group.</p><p>That’s interesting because the Lincoln Financial Group, like Ally Bank/GMAC, took bailout money through a <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-04-28/barofsky-says-criminal-or-civil-charges-possible-in-alleged-aig-coverup.html">sneaky way</a>: It bought a collapsed thrift, Newton County Loan and Savings, for pennies on the dollar, then reclassified itself as a banking institution, and voila! Lincoln qualified for nearly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/business/16tarp.html">1 billion dollars</a> in taxpayer TARP funds! The TARP inspector general, Neil Barofsky, singled out Lincoln for <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-04-28/barofsky-says-criminal-or-civil-charges-possible-in-alleged-aig-coverup.html">criticism</a>:</p><blockquote>In a December report, Barofsky showed how insurance giants Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and Lincoln National Corp. bought tiny thrifts -- one with just $7 million in assets -- to qualify for the TARP Capital Protection Program, which is designed to encourage bank lending. Hartford and Lincoln used the more than $4.3 billion in TARP funds they received almost entirely to finance insurance operations, according to the report. "Treasury didn’t have to approve that," Barofsky says.</blockquote><p>Lincoln Financial Group — a sponsor of the Planet Money hit piece on Social Security disability — is listed as one of the largest finance-insurance companies in America, with over $141 billion in assets (the holding company’s name is Lincoln National Group, but the public name is "Lincoln Financial Group"). One of its subsidiaries, Lincoln Financial Media, owns some 14 radio stations across America. The Philadelphia Eagles play at Lincoln Financial Field.</p><p>Among the products that Lincoln Financial Group sells is, you guessed it, <a href="https://www.lincolninvestment.com/res/lib/disability.cfm">disability insurance</a>.</p><p>So unless it’s a complete coincidence that Lincoln Financial’s ads keep popping up as the Planet Money sponsor for the show about disability queens, it looks like once again, Planet Money, This American Life and NPR have the same "failure to communicate their conflict-of-interest and media corruption" problem that we wrote about last summer. They’ve done nothing to address the corruption in their editorial process. No one is holding Planet Money, This American Life or NPR accountable for clear conflict-of-interest.</p><p>But perhaps NPR doesn’t give a shit. In their corporate sponsors page, NPR openly <a href="http://www.npr.org/about/aboutnpr/publicradiofinances.html">boasts</a> that paying NPR to read your company’s name has a "halo effect" —that is, having a harmless squeaky progressive-sounding NPR voice reading out your company’s name essentially helps to whitewash the corporate sponsor’s brand reputation. That can really come in handy if you’re one of the banks that pocketed billions in taxpayer money and now you’re lobbying to cut Social Security benefits:</p><blockquote>Sponsorships: Halo Effect Corporate sponsors are interested in exposure to the well-educated, relatively affluent NPR audience (both on-air and online), which can be difficult to reach through other media. Selective sponsors also value association with the NPR brand. Messages acknowledging our sponsors are presented on-air in short announcements, and are presented visually and in audio on NPR.org and other digital services. Over the last ten years, NPR's sponsorship program has enjoyed strong growth.<p>NPR's digital sponsorship revenue continues to grow in spite of the weakened advertising and sponsorship market.</p>sponsors tend to stick with NPR as they find value in the "halo effect" of a positive association with the NPR brand.</blockquote><p>So, as the financial lobby and the DC political class close in for the kill on your Social Security, you should be aware that Planet Money, This American Life and NPR are key players on the left flank of the bankers’ propaganda war. If you’re one of their listeners or donors, you’re a target. Welcome to what passes for the "liberal" media.</p> Fri, 26 Apr 2013 13:58:00 -0700 Mark Ames, Not Safe for Work Corporation 831320 at https://img.alternet.org Media Media npr What Led Chris Dorner to Go Off the Edge: Workplace Abuse, Racism, and Unfair Firing https://img.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/what-led-chris-dorner-go-edge-workplace-abuse-racism-and <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The media as usual is looking at all the wrong clues to get to the bottom of what set Chris Dorner&#039;s rampage. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1360977177926-3-0_2.jpg?itok=ImiDtCAv" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>This article first appeared at <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/chris-dorner-wrongful-termination">Not Safe for Work Corporation</a>.</em></p><p>In the days after his lethal rebellion and violent death, Christopher Dorner has become many things to many different people: a one-man Alamo hero who died fighting the police state; a crazy black man who started murdering cops because that’s what crazy black men do; or a symbol of government oppression and the militarization of America’s police forces. For some conspiracy theorists, Dorner even became a Manchurian candidate in an elaborate Big Brother plot to sow chaos and fear, so that Government Marxists could fill America’s skies with armed drones, assassinating gun-owners and freedom-lovers at will.</p><p>But all this focus on Dorner’s spectacular ending has obscured the real story about what sent Chris Dorner over the edge: workplace abuse, racial discrimination, and a legitimate claim of wrongful termination. In a nation where workers have fewer legal protections than workers in many developing nations, low-level employees like Dorner have few rights, little power and almost nowhere to turn. Ever since the Reagan Revolution of the 80s, popular culture has neglected labor problems in favor of violent epic fantasies, even though more and more Americans suffered worsening labor conditions in their own lives, privately and alone. Wrongful termination and workplace discrimination are devastating problems for each and every victim, yet collectively we’re infinitely more worried about police state fascism and getting assassinated by armed drones, thanks to media and pop culture conditioning. Labor and workplace problems are considered boring, even embarrassing.</p><p>Ever since “going postal” massacres first appeared in the public sector, in US post offices in the mid-1980s, they have tended to follow a familiar script. The murderer “snaps” for no apparent reason; official culture blames it all on Hollywood or guns, never explaining why these workplace massacres only appeared in the mid-late 80s; and later, as it turns out, there were a lot of reasons for the gunman to snap. If you profile the workplace that created the murderer, rather profiling the murderer’s psychology, you will often find a pattern of shocking workplace abuse and of top-down mistreatment of employees, culminating in the “going postal” rampage. The consequent killing spree will target supervisors, fellow employees, and anyone associated with the institution that the abused employee blames for having crushed him (or her).</p><p>The LAPD is a textbook example of one of the most abusive public sector employers in America today — and this context, along with the details of Dorner’s firing and his appeals, are the real missing pieces in the puzzle.</p><p>Noted civil rights attorney Dan Stormer, who has sued the LAPD on numerous occasions over wrongful terminations, discrimination and civil rights abuses, tells me, “Dorner’s case looks like a garden variety example of these types of cases.”</p><p>Dorner’s problems began with race, and escalated to his firing over his allegations against a fellow police officer of kicking a suspect in the face. “They don’t like it when you report abuse,” Stormer says. “If you complain, they punish you.”</p><p>Just over a decade ago, 109 serving and former LAPD officers filed a class action lawsuit accusing the police department of retaliating against whistleblowers and employees who dared to report police abuse.</p><p>An article in the LA Times headlined <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/%E2%80%9Dhttp://articles.latimes.com/print/2000/oct/10/local/me-34297%E2%80%9C">“More Than 60 Officers Join Lawsuit Against LAPD”</a>, dated October 10, 2000, begins:</p><blockquote><p>More than 60 current and former officers are joining a class-action lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department that alleges retaliation against whistle-blowers, bringing the total number of plaintiffs to more than 100, an attorney said Monday.</p><p>The original lawsuit, filed Aug. 24 in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of 41 former and current employees, most of them officers, claims that the LAPD has a culture that enforces a "code of silence" that leads to a pattern of discrimination, harassment and retaliation against those who report misconduct by other officers.</p></blockquote><p>One of the plaintiffs, a narcotics detective named Shelby Braverman, worked in the same Harbor Division that Dorner served in. Braverman reported on one of his supervisors stealing heroin from evidence — and found himself the subject of a reopened criminal case. The result was that Braverman was fired and jailed for 30 days, ending his 20-year career.</p><p>Another plaintiff, Lita Abella, was driven out of the force and psychologically damaged by her experience:</p><blockquote><p>Lita Abella, a former lieutenant in the Central Division, said she resigned in February. She said she was retaliated against for what she characterized as her "activist" role as a union delegate and a vice president of the Los Angeles Women Police Officers Assn. who over the years had reported or investigated numerous incidents of alleged misconduct.</p><p>She said the department eventually launched a "major personnel complaint" against her that had been manufactured to get her fired. She quit, she said, rather than fight the charges because the situation was making her physically ill.</p></blockquote><p>The LAPD’s culture of workplace abuse, retaliation, and wrongful termination is so pervasive and out of control that according to a recent<a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/%E2%80%9Dhttp://articles.latimes.com/print/2011/may/08/local/la-me-millionaire-lapd-cops-20110508%E2%80%9C">Inspector General’s report</a>,</p><blockquote><p>Los Angeles police brought an average of three times more lawsuits a year per officer than officers in Chicago and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.</p></blockquote><p>For so many LAPD officers and employees, their problems only worsen when officers report police misconduct — which is how Dorner’s problems started. In 2011, two years after Dorner was fired for allegedly lying when he filed a police misconduct report against a fellow officer, the LA Times wrote about the LAPD’s Inspector General’s investigation into the very same problem:</p><blockquote><p>The department also has come under fire for failing to thoroughly investigate complaints of workplace problems. In a 2010 audit of LAPD investigations into employee allegations of retaliation, [Inspector General Nicole] Bershon's office found that investigators routinely neglected to interview people accused of misconduct, or even name them in the investigations.</p></blockquote><p>Dorner reported his training supervisor, Teresa Evans, for kicking a suspect three times in 2007. In 2009, the LAPD chose, as it has so many times, to side with the accused supervisor and against the whistleblower: Dorner's whistleblowing was turned against him, he was charged with making false statements against a fellow officer, fired, and as his appeals failed to reverse the charges against him, Dorner's life spun out of control.</p><p>Court documents filed by Dorner’s attorneys contested his firing and the ruling by the Board of Rights that Dorner had falsified his report of police misconduct by a fellow officer.</p><p>These court documents, including a recently-released appellate brief filed by Dorner’s attorney in early 2011, paint what appears to be a very familiar story of LAPD workplace abuse and retaliation.</p><p>Chris Dorner grew up in southern California, and graduated in 2001 from Southern Utah University— Harry Reid’s alma mater — with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Psychology.</p><p>In 2002, at the start of Bush’s Global War on Terror, Dorner joined the Navy.</p><p>One of the first times Chris Dorner’s name appears in the press is late in 2002, in an article in small-town Oklahoma’s <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/%E2%80%9Dhttp://enidnews.com/localnews/x964898713/ENE-Archives-Vance-students-turn-in-lost-church-money%E2%80%9D">Enid News &amp; Eagle</a>:</p><blockquote><p>An Enid church is a little richer today thanks to the integrity of Lt. Andrew Baugher, a Marine student at Vance, and Ensign Chris Dorner, a Navy student pilot.</p><p>The two were driving into Enid Sunday afternoon when they spotted a bank bag in the middle of the road.</p><p>After turning around, they picked up the bag and found it contained nearly $8,000. They promptly took the bag to the Enid Police Department.

</p><p>The money belongs to Enid Korean Church of Grace, 724 W. Randolph, and the bag contained $7,792 in cash and checks.</p><p>“The military stresses integrity,” Dorner said. “There was a couple of thousand dollars, and if people are willing to give that to a church, it must be pretty important to them.”

</p><p>He said it was “a little scary” having that much money in front of him.

</p><p>Dorner said his mother taught him honesty and integrity. “I didn’t work for it, so it’s not mine. And it was for the church,” he said. “It’s not so much the integrity, but it was someone else’s money. I would hope someone would do that for me.”</p></blockquote><p>Local Oklahoma City tv news recently ran <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiGTUiRDF_w">stories</a> on Dorner's <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWs3sX14i-s">good samaritan "heroism"</a> in Enid, but this was largely ignored by the national media — it confused and upset their facile narrative, apparently.</p><p>Most of Dorner’s naval career was spent on naval bases in San Diego and near Las Vegas. He also served in Bahrain, and earned scores of medals and commendations.</p><p>In 2005, Dorner joined the LAPD and was in training when the Navy called him up for a year of active duty overseas in the Persian Gulf. A former Navy friend of Dorner’s, Long Beach police Sgt. Clint Grimes, described a very different Dorner from the crazed mass-murderer who terrorized Southern California earlier this month:</p><blockquote><p>"I never knew him not to be smiling," [Sgt. Grimes] said.</p><p>Grimes said Dorner is very bright. Dorner's unit used high-tech sonar equipment to find small boats that could be a threat to naval vessels in port.</p><p>"They're not looking for a stupid guy, here," Grimes said.</p></blockquote><p>In the same article, Dorner’s closest college friend, an Oregon attorney named James Usura, <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/%E2%80%9Dhttp://www.dailybreeze.com/ci_22544336%E2%80%9D">describes</a> Dorner as “well-spoken, educated, rational. I didn't think he was moody or showed anything that would indicate he had mental health issues." Then, echoing a common theme to nearly all “going postal” workplace massacres — that it’s impossible to profile potential rampage murderers — Usura told reporters,</p><blockquote><p>"People are looking for predictors, but I just never recognized anything that would indicate he was unstable in any fashion. He seemed normal, and I know that's not a great descriptor, but that was who he was to me."</p></blockquote><p>Indeed Dorner’s ordinariness is what stands out. He was an ordinary middle-class African-American California jock, facing “ordinary” racism and racial discrimination, in a country that officially claims to be post-racial:</p><blockquote><p>"Mr. Dorner was from Southern California and I was from Alaska, so being at SUU, which is set in a rural, predominantly white Mormon town, one of the things that connected us was our shock to the social demographics of the place," Usera said. "It was different to what we were used to and so we could relate to each other."</p><p>Usera recalled Dorner complaining about instances of discrimination, but nothing that alarmed Usera during their college years.</p><p>"He is a person who believed that racism is alive and well in the United States, not just in Utah," Usera said, "but while it is something he mentioned on some occasions, I never saw him get irate about it."</p></blockquote><p>During his academy training, Dorner reported an incident in which he was in a van with other recruits, and one of them called another recruit “nigger.” Dorner told him not to use that word. Their argument erupted into a fight, and Dorner reported the racist recruit to his supervisor. The result, he later said, was that he was shunned by his colleagues.</p><p>In 2006, Dorner graduated from the LA Police Academy and joined the force. But as the American military machine geared up for Bush's coming Bush “Iraq Surge,” Dorner was called up for Naval duty and deployed to the Persian Gulf.</p><p>In early summer 2007, Dorner, now a lieutenant in the Naval Reserves, returned to the civilian world and to his job with the LAPD. Dorner asked his superiors to put him through a reintegration training to make up for the time lost, but his repeated requests were ignored.</p><p>Instead, Dorner was put out on the field with a supervising officer, a 42-year-old woman named Teresa Evans. According to Dorner, Evans was “angry” and sadistic. His legal filings repeatedly reference an incident in which Evans was arrested by Long Beach police for “domestic violence” in June 2007, resulting in an apparent demotion for Evans. Dorner also reported that Evans “slapped” his hands on at least two occasions, and that in one incident when they detained a woman in her mid-70s, Evans “tore the skin off” the old woman’s forearm, requiring medical treatment. In court documents, LAPD investigators never deny Evans’ arrest for domestic violence, but instead dismiss it as immaterial in their case against Dorner for false testimony.</p><p>For her part, Teresa Evans claimed that Dorner was overly emotional, citing an incident in which Dorner supposedly began “weeping” while out on patrol, begging to be put through LAPD reintegration training.</p><p>On July 28, 2007, Dorner and Sgt. Evans responded to a reported disturbance at a Doubletree Hotel. The suspect, a paranoid-schizophrenic named Christopher Gettler, refused to comply. Dorner, despite his great size and strength, was unable to subdue Gettler long enough to cuff him. They fell forward into some bushes as Teresa Evans shot him twice with a Taser, and then — according to Dorner — she kicked Gettler three times: first softly on the clavicle, then again more roughly, and a third swift kick to Gettler’s eye.</p><p>Gettler’s eye swelled and bled. Teresa Evans claimed that he’d cut himself in the bushes. Ultimately, there were no reliable witnesses to testify that Evans had or hadn’t kicked Gettler, and his father, who was deferential to the police due to numerous incidents involving his son over the years, didn’t bother pressing charges. Gettler gave <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_qb_BY3I-Q">video testimony</a> backing up Dorner's version of events — that Evans kicked him three times, once in the face below the eye — but Gettler's testimony was ruled inadmissible.</p><p>Dorner initially refrained from reporting the kicking. He knew that turning on fellow cops led to getting ostracized or worse. Afterwards, as they drove away together, Dorner claimed that Sgt. Evans told him, “We’re not going to mention the kicks in the report.”</p><p>The following day, Dorner checked the report that Teresa Evans had written up, and saw that she left out the kicks. When he worked on writing the report with her, he began to describe the events leading up to her kicks, whereupon Evans put her finger on the “delete” key and deleted three sentences, then took over writing the rest of the report.</p><p>A month later, troubled by the kicking incident, Dorner mentioned it to his old Navy mentor and a superior officer, Sgt. Leonard Perez. Perez immediately stopped Dorner and told him that he must, by law, having told Perez about misconduct, report it to a superior officer and file a police misconduct report.</p><p>The case against Dorner, in public and in the police Board of Rights, rests largely on the theory that Dorner sought revenge after supposedly getting a bad review from Teresa Evans, and his revenge was falsely reporting her for police misconduct.</p><p>However, court filings paint a different sequence of events: For one thing, although Evans’ evaluation did cite “improvement needed” in a few areas, overall she gave him a “satisfactory” review, not “unsatisfactory.” Moreover, while it’s true that Dorner reported the kicking to Sgt. Perez the day after Teresa Evans submitted her evaluation on Dorner, he didn’t see her evaluation until several weeks later, well after he’d reported her for police misconduct. But the most important point Dorner and his attorneys kept trying to get across was that Evans' evaluation was "satisfactory" — her evaluation would not have hurt Dorner's career.</p><p>Nevertheless, Dorner’s timing looked suspicious — why did he wait until she filed her evaluation on him before reporting her? More likely, he waited knowing she might retaliate after he filed a police misconduct report on her — that is certainly more plausible than Dorner reporting her as revenge over an evaluation that turned out to be “satisfactory” anyway. However, Dorner’s delay was used against him in the internal investigation report that charged Dorner with making false statements about Sgt Evans’ conduct, leading to his firing.</p><p>As a general rule, American workers have very few legal rights and protections in the workplace when compared to workers in other countries. Although the LAPD union is stronger than many public sector unions, Dorner was still in his probationary period. By contrast, Teresa Evans, an LAPD veteran some 15 years older than Dorner, had many friends and allies on the force.</p><p>Chris Dorner’s bad luck, if that’s the right way of putting it, was that he went to bat defending the civil rights of a mentally ill suspect whose testimony was ruled inadmissible as evidence; it essentially came down to Evans’ word (and the word of her police colleagues) against Dorner’s (and the few friends he’d made on the force), along with the incomplete testimony of nearby hotel witnesses. What began as whistleblowing turned into a trial on the character of a new recruit, Christopher Dorner, who now had to prove to the heavily-stacked Board of Rights that he hadn’t lied when he reported Evans for misconduct.</p><p>Speaking about this process, attorney Stormer told me, “I am 100% certain that the Board of Rights process is unfair.”</p><p>Stormer added, however, another giant caveat about Dorner that his adoring fans have been ignoring: “But this does raise another issue — that Dorner could’ve been the type who would’ve snapped as an officer on duty at any time.”</p><p> </p>* * * *<p> </p><p>In case after case in which the LAPD was successfully sued for wrongful termination, plaintiffs have reported psychological damage that gives some insight into what sent Dorner over the edge.</p><p>Officer <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/%E2%80%9Dhttp://articles.latimes.com/print/2009/apr/02/local/me-award2%E2%80%9C">Melissa Borck</a> won $2.3 million in a harassment suit against the LAPD in 2009, a case in which Borck was a victim of retaliation after she reported misconduct to internal affairs. Borck lost her child, a stillborn, due to the stress. It took her 10 years to finally win her lawsuit.</p><p>In 2011, three LAPD detectives won a <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/%E2%80%9Dhttp://articles.latimes.com/print/2011/oct/06/local/la-me-1006-lapd-retaliation-20111005%E2%80%9C">$2.5 million</a> gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against their supervisors.</p><p>In late 2010, a former LAPD veteran, Richard Romney, won a $4 million wrongful termination and retaliation lawsuit against his former employers. According to the <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/%E2%80%9Dhttp://articles.latimes.com/print/2010/nov/03/local/la-me-lapd-20101102%E2%80%9C">LA Times</a>,</p><blockquote><p>A Los Angeles County jury Tuesday awarded a former Los Angeles police officer nearly $4 million in his case against the LAPD, concluding the officer was fired in retaliation for testifying against the department in a labor dispute.</p><p>The verdict, which stems from one of several similar lawsuits that thousands of disgruntled LAPD officers are pursuing against the department, underscores a long-running, internal rift between LAPD cops and the department's command staff that could ultimately cost the city millions of dollars more.</p></blockquote><p>What these cases show is that workplace abuse and retaliation is rampant in the LAPD. Not only that, but confronting the abuse can be enormously costly to the challenger in terms of time, effort, money and health.</p><p>That said, none of the other plaintiffs started murdering fellow police.</p><p>As I argued in Going Postal murder is about the most basic definition of mental illness, whatever the justification — and society has allowed for very few justifications outside of warfare.</p><p>But as I also tried to demonstrate, rebellion against injustice is rarely clean and cinematic. Nat Turner, the slave rebel glorified by a culture that uniformly agrees on the evils of slavery, was no Bruce Willis or Dirty Harry. Most of the victims of Turner’s murder spree were what we would call innocent and defenseless white women and children, slaughtered in their homes and in their beds. The first victim of John Brown’s failed insurrection at Harper’s Ferry was a freed black man, Hayward Shepherd.</p><p>But there was something more going on with Dorner. He had to cope with creeping paranoia, problems with women, a cinematic sense of self-importance as the world’s protagonist for justice, and plain old shit luck.</p><p>His problems with women went beyond the usual trials and tribulations. In seven years, he would file restraining orders against at least two ex-girlfriends, and have a marriage end in abrupt divorce.</p><p>In 2006, a woman Dorner dated in Los Angeles named Ariana Williams posted a vicious anonymous review of Dorner on dontdatehimgirl.com posting Dorner’s name and badge number and writing, “This man really hated himself because he's black” and “stay the hell away from him.”</p><p>Dorner went to court to get a restraining order against Williams, but he was soon afterwards called up for duty and sent to the Persian Gulf.</p><p>A year later, in 2007, Dorner married. The marriage ended in one month. His ex-wife was reported to have said she was <a href="http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/02/07/triple-homicide-suspects-ex-wife-was-reportedly-embarrassed-by-brief-marriage/">“embarrassed”</a> by the brief marriage.</p><p>And yet even this story of a failed brief marriage, and what that implied about Dorner's character, fell apart under scrutiny, after an LA Timesreporter <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/long-beach-neighbor-of-dorners-ex-wife-recalls-him-as-a-regular-guy.html">visited</a> his ex-wife's neighborhood:</p><blockquote><p>A neighbor of the ex-wife of Christopher Jordan Dorner, the former LAPD officer accused of killing three people, said he often saw the suspect at the woman's Long Beach home.</p><p>"I've seen him here. I've said hi, I've bumped [fists] with him a couple times," said 24-year-old Oscar Gonzalez.</p><p>"He seemed like a regular guy. He was doing landscaping here in the front for her. He was heavy-built, always in military-style boots," Gonzalez said.</p><p>Dorner frequently visited -- until the end of last year.</p><p>“He was here for a while, and then he was just gone. It just kind of stopped all of the sudden, two or three months ago,” Gonzalez said.</p><p>Other neighbors with a less favorable view of the ex-wife were not so forthcoming and worried for their safety if they spoke up about Dorner, who is the subject of a massive manhunt.</p></blockquote><p>After his divorce, Dorner was involved in a four-year, on-off relationship with an LAPD crime lab employee — which also ended in a restraining order.</p><p>Last April, a day after Dorner tried breaking off the relationship, his ex-girlfriend threatened to kill herself, and came to his house, banging on his door and ringing the doorbell. Police reported they told her not to come near Dorner again, and he filed a restraining order against her to keep her away.</p><p>Dorner was discharged from the Navy on February 1 — two days before he began his murder rampage — for reasons that have not yet been fully explained (though Dorner blamed his break with the Navy on the LAPD firing). He seems to have been under great pressure, which he even kept from his friends. Getting fired under highly questionable circumstances brought that pressure to bursting point. Dorner’s first two victims, the only two he intentionally targeted — Monica Quan, daughter of his LAPD attorney Randi Quan, and Keith Lawrence, Monica’s fiancé — were chosen to deny his police attorney a happy family life.</p><p>"I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I'm terminating yours,” Dorner wrote in his manifesto. He murdered the engaged couple in their car, firing several bullets into their bodies, part of what Dorner called his “asymmetrical warfare.”</p><p>So far, I haven’t read anyone who made a serious case that ambushing and murdering the daughter of his supposedly-crooked pro-police attorney makes Dorner a rebel hero against violent police power.</p><p>The police — mainly the LAPD, but <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/sbcs">also the San Bernadino police</a> — did their best to affirm Dorner’s worst accusations about them as a reckless, violent out-of-control agency, accusations echoed by many others over the years. He murdered the young couple in cold blood — but he also went out of his way to ensure that others who came across him were not harmed even as he was hunted down in the last hours of his life.</p><p>After Dorner broke into a couple’s cabin in Big Bear, the freed husband told reporters that Dorner told them, “'I don't have a problem with you, so I'm not going to hurt you.’ I didn't believe him, I thought he was going to kill us."</p><p>Dorner in fact didn’t hurt them:</p><blockquote><p>The couple believes Dorner had been staying in the cabin at least since Friday. Dorner told them he had been watching them by day from inside the cabin as they did work outside. The couple, who live nearby, only entered the unit Tuesday.</p><p>"He said we are very hard workers, we're good people. He talked about how he could see Jim working on the snow every day," Karen Reynolds said.</p><p>Dorner repeatedly told the couple he just wanted to clear his name. He was calm and methodical during the fifteen-minute ordeal and didn't talk about the people he's accused of shooting, she said.</p><p>At one point, Jim Reynolds said, "he huddled down beside me and said 'You're going to be quiet, right? Not make a fuss and let me get away?'"</p><p>Dorner then fled in their purple Nissan Rogue.</p></blockquote><p>Nor did he hurt others who weren’t targeted for revenge. His murder rampage was savage, but targeted.</p><p>Compare that to the LAPD, which fired on two separate cars during their bungled manhunt, injuring several along the way, including a <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/%E2%80%9Dhttp://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-torrance-shooting-20130209,0,7478164,full.story%E2%80%9D">71-year-old Latina woman</a> and her 47-year-old daughter delivering newspapers:</p><blockquote><p>As the vehicle approached the house, officers opened fire, unloading a barrage of bullets into the back of the truck. When the shooting stopped, they quickly realized their mistake. The truck was not a Nissan Titan, but a Toyota Tacoma. The color wasn't gray, but aqua blue. And it wasn't Dorner inside the truck, but a woman and her mother delivering copies of the Los Angeles Times.</p><p>In an interview with The Times on Friday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck outlined the most detailed account yet of how the shooting unfolded. Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, were the victims of "a tragic misinterpretation" by officers working under "incredible tension," he said.</p></blockquote><p>Finally, as Max Blumenthal <a href="http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/how-law-enforcement-and-media-covered-plan-burn-christopher-dorner-alive">reported</a>, Dorner was killed or pushed to suicide after police deliberately set fire to his cabin — then <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/sbcs">covered up and lied about it</a> — leaving nothing but ashes and unanswered questions behind.</p><p>Despite that spectacular ending, the real Chris Dorner story, of labor abuse unchecked in an agency which abuses citizens as well as its own, is a far more familiar story to many of us today, sad and unheroic and perhaps even embarrassing. It’s hard not to feel outraged over the abuse that each individual, atomized worker puts up with in this country, which is all the worse if they’re minorities. If anything, Dorner’s violent Hollywood ending suffers from its own pop banalities — he and his supporters framed his “rebellion” through the narrow limits of a culture steeped in bad B-movie justice-through-violence fantasies and sci-fi dystopias. It's a rebellion without politics, emotional entertainment with no resonance, each individual his own atomized protagonist.</p><p>Meanwhile, LAPD chief Charlie Beck reversed himself and announced his intention to reopen the case of Christopher Dorner’s alleged wrongful termination. Dorner kept saying his goal was to clear his name, but it’s hard to see what purpose all the violence served if the only result, the best result, is that Dorner’s individual wrongful termination is posthumously recognized and his name “cleared.” That in itself would change nothing fundamentally in the LAPD workplace culture, or the workplace culture at large. It would strip a rebellion of any politics or political significance — a perfect major studio Hollywood ending.</p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 12:10:00 -0800 Mark Ames, Not Safe for Work Corporation 798479 at https://img.alternet.org Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace News & Politics chris dorner lapd workplace American Assassination History for Dummies https://img.alternet.org/civil-liberties/american-assassination-history-dummies <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The idea that President Obama’s extrajudicial drone-assassinations of American citizens is &quot;unprecedented&quot; and &quot;radical&quot; is to ignore decades of recent history.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/media_reaganatdurenbergerrally.jpg?itok=07ZBlyWW" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><strong><em>This article <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/assassinations/">first appeared at Not Safe for Work Corporation</a>.</em></strong></p><p>It’s hard to have a serious conversation about America’s drone assassination policy when no one seems to have a basic grasp of recent history. This cultural amnesia epidemic is starting to get me down— which is partly my fault for paying more than two minutes’ attention to Twitter at a single go.</p><p>The problem starts with Reagan, as problems so often do. Most people on the left take for granted that Reagan’s executive order 12333 "banned assassinations" — which is not just a false interpretation, but really awful mangling of one of the dark turning points in modern American history.</p><p>That same ignorance of the history of assassination policy runs right through today, with the repetition of another myth: That President Obama’s extrajudicial drone-assassinations of American citizens is "unprecedented" and "radical" and that "not even George Bush targeted American citizens."</p><p>The truth is a lot worse and a lot more depressing.</p><p>To understand the backstory to Reagan’s deceptive "assassination ban" in 1981, you have to know a bit about what was going on in the 70s, that brief period of American Glasnost, in the aftermath of Watergate and the military’s collapse after losing Vietnam.</p><p>All sorts of dirty Cold War secrets were pouring out in that brief period — in late 1974, Seymour Hersh broke the story that the CIA had been illegally spying on thousands of American antiwar dissidents inside of our borders, in violation of the law and the charter that brought the CIA into existence . Later, Vice President Rockefeller’s report said the CIA spied on 300,000 Americans.</p><p>Remember, the American public and most of the Establishment back then were very different from today’s. There’s some truth to the "Liberal Establishment" culture that ruled until Reagan took over — those people were serious about their do-gooder intentions and their civic duties and all that, whatever the results on the ground were — nothing at all like today’s armchair Machiavellis and backseat Nietzsches who dominate our political culture, a culture where everyone's jostling to scream "You can’t handle the truth!" at imaginary liberal do-gooders...</p><p>One of Hersh’s most incredible exposés focused on an undercover CIA spook who told of how they penetrated the Weather Underground from very early in the Columbia U protest days, right up through their nationwide bombing campaign. Which may finally answer how it was that a handful of upper class Ivy Leaguers managed to expertly set off bombs all across the country, spring Timothy Leary from Vacaville Prison, and "evade" law enforcement officials for so many years — only to get off with a slap on the wrist when they finally went up for air.</p><p>Ah well, but that’s another story. What started the assassination policy trend that frames today’s politics was a slip-up by President Ford. It’s a real-life Chevy Chase moment, only instead of stumbling over his podium and crashing to the floor for laughs, the real President Ford called a "meet ‘n’ greet" with theNew York Times’ top editors, wherein the President "slipped" and "blurted out" that he hoped they never found out about the CIA assassination program — an assassination program that none of them had ever seriously suspected until President Ford blurted it out over lunch. Whoa, Liberty! Down, boy!</p><p>Here’s how the scene is described in the book Challenging the Secret Government by UC Davis Prof. Kathryn Olmsted:</p><blockquote><p>Toward the end of the luncheon, the subject of the Rockefeller Commission came up. The Times had criticized the dominance of conservatives on the commission. Ford explained that he needed men who could be trusted not to stray from their narrow mission of investigating the CIA’s domestic activities. Otherwise, he said, they might come up on matters that would "ruin the U.S. image around the world" and harm the reputation of every U.S. president since Truman.</p><p>"Like what?" asked [editor A.M.] Rosenthal, always the hard-nosed reporter.</p><p>"Like assassinations!" Ford blurted out, quickly adding, "That’s off the record."</p></blockquote><p>Doh!</p><p>By standard mainstream journalism rules, Ford’s "blurt" wasn’t off the record. But more importantly: fuck the rules, this was bombshell news, from the highest (and bumblingest) source in the land! Tom Wicker and Rosenthal both insisted on publishing the scoop — Wicker was convinced that Ford meant to blurt it out for reasons unknown, it was hard to imagine someone who spent decades close to J Edgar Hoover and other intelligence officials could be that unbelievably stupid.</p><p>But cowardice won the day — Wicker and Rosenthal were overruled by the rest of the Times execs and editors who were there, and they had to sit on their scoop and watch while a grandstanding jackass (in the good sense) named Daniel Schorr stole it from under their noses.</p><p>Yep, that crusty old voice on NPR was once one of the pushiest assholes in journalism. Schorr, who worked for CBS News during the post-Watergate era, had heard the rumors about Ford’s "assassination gaffe" at the New York Times. Schorr had assumed that Ford was talking about domestic assassinations of Americans, but he needed confirmation from someone high up. So he arranged an off-the-record interview with CIA chief William Colby, and got another "gaffe" scoop:</p><blockquote><p>Finally, I said, as casually as I could, that I had heard President Ford had a problem about the CIA and assassinations. Colby fell silent.</p><p>"Has the CIA ever killed anybody in this country?" I asked directly.</p><p>His reply was quick and even: "Not in this country."</p><p>"Not in this country!" I stared at Colby as it sank in on me that I had been on the wrong track, but had now been put unintentionally on the right one.</p></blockquote><p>Two gaffes, two Chevy Chase fall-on-their-faces screw-ups buy two of the highest and most experienced lawyer-intelligence officials in the land. What’re the odds!</p><p>Then again, there really was something of a whiff of failure in the air those years — Hell, even our assassins couldn’t hit the side of a barn if they stood right in front shooting, as Sara Jane Moore and Squeaky Fromme proved that year, the Lucille Balls of would-be presidential assassins...</p><p>This is where the slapstick ends, and things get deadly serious and depressing. Over the next several months, the Church Commission and Pike Commission exposed a number of CIA assassination plots — in the Congo, Haiti, Chile, Cuba, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, who knew where else — and the public reacted with genuine shock and horror. Not just the public, but most of the Liberal Establishment was shocked and horrified also — Democrats and Republicans, back when they had "moderate" and "liberal" Republicans in Congress. Hypocrites, sure, but after a couple of decades with the Col. Jessups who dominate our political discourse today, I’d take those old pre-Carter Cold War liberal hypocrites any day.</p><p>The CIA assassination program shocked the public more than any other revelation from that period. JFK and MLK conspiracy theories went mainstream. Robert Redford wouldn’t take a script if he wasn’t being chased by CIA villains. Everyone hated the CIA in America, and the fastest way to becoming a hero was being hated right back — like Daniel Schorr was.</p><p>In mid-1975, Schorr was anointed "CIA Enemy No 1" by none other than ex-CIA director and silver-spoon fascist Richard Helms himself — which Schorr proudly recounted in his memoir Clearing The Air:</p><blockquote><p>Though, in a sense, my broadcast about assassination plots may have helped to spark the investigation that had brought Helms back [from Teheran, where Helms served as US ambassador], I was not thinking of it in personal terms as I waited in the corridor, with three or four other reporters, for him to emerge from the Vice President’s office and to invite him to be interviewed before camera staked out in the press room across the hall.</p><p>As I offered my hand in greeting, with a jocular, "Welcome back," Helms’ face, ashen from strain and fatigue, turned livid. "You son-o-f-a-bitch!" he raged. "you killer! You cocksucker! ‘Killer Schorr’ — that’s what they ought to call you!"</p></blockquote><p>In that atmosphere, in early 1976, President Ford issued executive order 11905 — which has been wrongly described over the years as "banning assassinations," but at the time Ford signed it, 11905 was more properly understood as a window dressing largely designed to keep the liberal activist Democratic Party Congress from legislating changes to the CIA themselves. (Keep in mind, the Democratic Congress that swept into power after Watergate was, for a brief time, aggressively reformist and nothing like the Democratic Party of today.) Even Ford’s language banning assassinations or CIA domestic spying left a lot to be interpreted — a recurruing problem later on, with the exception of Carter.</p><p>Sen. Frank Church, who headed the Church Committee (sort of a "Truth Commission), dismissed Ford’s "reforms" when they were first announced in early March 1976, as Newsweek reported at the time:</p><blockquote><p>"Over-all, the President’s proposal is clearly to give the CIA a bigger shield and a longer sword with which to stab about," argued Sen. Frank Church.<br />["Ford’s CIA Shake-Up", Newsweek, March 1, 1976]</p></blockquote><p>Rather than creating conditions for greater accountability, Ford centralized power in the White House — and as Newsweek reported, the biggest beneficiary of Ford’s reforms (and likely its author) was none other than new CIA chief George H. W. Bush:</p><blockquote><p>Ford's Executive order put its emphasis on a firmer chain of command - starting with the President - even though the investigations of most intelligence abuses have shown them to be the result of White House interference, not uncontrolled cloak-and-daggering. Might increased Presidential control lead to more abuses in the future?</p><p>"I would hope that the American people will elect a President who will not abuse that responsibility," Ford said. "I certainly don't intend to."</p><p>The biggest beneficiary of the new plan was CIA director Bush, who now will serve as chairman of the new Committee on Foreign Intelligence ... The committee will control the budgets for all the nation's foreign intelligence operations as well as the domestic counterintelligence activities of the FBI.</p></blockquote><p>Finally, although Ford technically banned assassinations, his order left a giant loophole that could allow the CIA to spy on American dissidents all over again, as Newsweek reported:</p><blockquote><p>Aside from the ban on assassinations, however, no new limits were set on covert operations overseas.</p><p>Ford did set some limits on surveillance, electronic eavesdropping and infiltration aimed at U.S citizens or groups. But [...] critics said his Executive order was ambiguous enough to open the way for domestic operations previously considered questionable or prohibited by law. The CIA, for example, illegally opened mail for twenty years; last week Ford proposed the agency be given authority to do so under appropriate court orders. Under Ford's proposal, a court order would also allow the FBI and NSA to bug U.S. citizens for intelligence purposes; at present, this can be done only in criminal cases.</p></blockquote><p>But then something went wrong in Bush-Ford’s plans — the curse of the bumbling American fascist returned, in the form of Gerald Ford’s 1976 campaign chief, Dick Cheney, who flubbed Ford’s odds-on election victory simply by being there and putting in his two cents. That meant a do-gooder peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter was in control at the peak of the last gasp of Democratic Party liberal activism.</p><p>As everyone knows, Carter’s presidency was one long bummer. But what most people don’t know — or have forgotten — is that Carter did more than any president to bring the national security state under control. Especially the CIA, which Carter gutted, purged, and chained down with a whole set of policies and guidelines meant to protect American citizens’ civil liberties.</p><p>In his first year in office, Carter purged nearly 20% of the Agency’s 4500 employees, gutting the ranks of clandestine operatives, sending hundreds of dirty trickster vets into the private sector to seethe for the next few years. Carter signed an executive order worked out with Frank Church and the Senate committee on intelligence putting more serious limits on the CIA’s powers — unequivocally banning assassinations, restricting the CIA’s ability to spy domestically, and putting their covert operations under strict oversight under the president, Congressional committees and the attorney general. The CIA’s paramilitary was even disbanded, though not banned.</p><p>Carter’s people understood that real fundamental change in the CIA and national security state would only come through democratic politics — through passing laws. He and Sen. Church tried, but they were outmaneuvered and ground into mulch.</p><p>A Washington Post article from the summer of 1978 captured the changing mood, and the first early wave of gloom setting in with Democrat reformers that their days were over and their chance was missed:</p><blockquote><p>Two years ago, when David Atlee Phillips and like-minded defenders of the Central Intelligence Agency set out on the college lecture circuit, they were routinely confronted by hecklers and protesters denouncing them as "assassins."</p><p>The climate has changed. The investigations are over. The recriminations have subsided. The apologists have turned into advocates, urging, even demanding a stronger hand for the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community despite the record of abuses.</p><p>A comprehensive piece of legislation, the National Intelligence Reorganization and Reform Act of 1978 (S.2525), has been drafted and debated at Senate hearings for months now, but all sides dismiss it as nothing more than a talking paper, a starting point.</p><p>Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), who served as the chairman of the original Senate Intelligence Committee and its unprecedented investigations, thinks it is already too late.</p><p>"Reforms have been delayed to death," he said in an interview. "This has been the defense mechanism of the agency and it could easily have been foreseen . . . Memories are very short. I think the shrewd operators, the friends of the CIA, recognized that time was on their side, that they could hold out against legislative action."</p></blockquote><p>And yet even as comparatively progressive as Carter’s and Church’s proposed reforms were — this was the brief high point for civil liberties, it’s all downhill from here — nevertheless, pretty much everyone across the spectrum hated Carter’s and Church’s reforms for their own reasons, and Carter did little to inspire.</p><p>Carter’s gutting of the CIA and his new guidelines restricting domestic surveillance by the FBI and other agencies won him few friends among grandstanding professional liberals. If anything the country turned against Carter as the world went to shit around him — Iran, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Jonestown — paving the way for Reagan to "restore" American power.</p><p>Which brings us to early 1981, and Reagan’s executive order 12333 which has been falsely described as "banning assassinations" by critics of Bush and now Obama.<br />Scott Horton, writing in <a href="http://harpers.org/blog/2012/03/holder-dances-the-assassination-tango/">Harpers</a> last year, has a good description:</p><blockquote><p>But as with so much U.S. national-security legislation, this order turns out to be far less than meets the eye. Simplified, [Reagan’s EO] could be summarized this way: "No one shall be assassinated—unless the president authorizes it, in which case we will refrain from calling it an assassination."</p></blockquote><p>But it’s much worse than that.</p><p>From the minute Reagan’s team took power, they went to work rewriting the rules to give themselves enormous unlimited power to re-animate the empire and the national-security state. In early 1981, it didn’t seem possible that the political culture could slide back so far after all those hard-won battles; by the end of the year, it was as if there’d never been a Church Committee or reforms of any kind.</p><p>To get a sense of how this developed, here’s a kind of timeline I put together:</p><p>March 10, 1981: "Reagan Administration Weighs Broader CIA Role in Domestic Spying"<br />The Reagan administration is considering a broad expansion of the CIA's authority to use break-ins, physical surveillance and covert infiltration of American groups and businesses, sources say. (AP)</p><p>June 15, 1981: "Recouping Under Reagan; CIA Is on the Rebound"<br />The Central Intelligence Agency, whose public image and private morale have been battered during much of the past decade, appears to be regaining some of its lost money, manpower and maneuvering room under the Reagan administration. (WaPo)</p><p>October 13, 1981: "Draft Order May Let CIA Resume Its Police Ties"<br />The Central Intelligence Agency, under a proposed administration order, apparently could resume many of its ties with local and state police agencies in addition to embarking on its own infiltrations of domestic organizations. (WaPo)</p><p>October 22, 1981: "Reagan Official Says Carter Overprotected Civil Liberties"</p><blockquote><p>A Reagan administration official said Thursday a proposed order relaxing restrictions on CIA domestic activity is needed to strike a new balance between civil liberties and national security.</p><p>"President Carter went too far in protecting civil liberties. He erred in placing too many restrictions on the intelligence community," the official said at a briefing held on the condition that his name and position not be used. (AP)</p></blockquote><p>In December 1981, Reagan signed the executive order 12333 undoing the previous decades’ reforms with the stroke of a pen. For cover, Reagan’s people planted fake scare stories through Jack Anderson about <a href="http://exiledonline.com/libyan-phantoms-iranian-assassins-greatest-hit-squads-1981-2011/">non-existent Libyan assassination squads</a> infiltrating U.S. borders, waterskiing their way across the Great Plains to spring John Hinckley and wreak havoc on the American Way of Life.</p><p>And that is the back story to Reagan’s executive order 12333, the one that allegedly banned assassinations and allegedly made him so much more progressive than Bush or Obama.</p><p>Reagan not only gave the CIA carte blanche in the US to spy, but he also massively expanded the powers of the FBI and law enforcement to spy on Americans domestically with another executive order in 1983, paving the way for a repeat of all the awful abuses uncovered by Sen. Church, which only started coming to light at the end of Reagan’s presidency.</p><p>As reported in the AP on March 7, 1983:</p><blockquote><p>Rules Relaxed On FBI Surveillance<br />Attorney General William French Smith today relaxed the rules governing FBI surveillance of domestic groups that advocate social change through violence….</p><p>Specifically, the guidelines make these changes:</p><p>* Allow the FBI to use new informants and infiltrators during a preliminary inquiry, where there is not yet enough evidence to warrant a full investigation. Levi had restricted those techniques to full investigations.</p><p>* Specifically authorize the FBI to continue low-level monitoring through informants and other means of groups that have gone dormant and pose no "immediate threat of harm." The FBI had been closing such investigations when a group went one year without committing violence.</p><p>* Authorize, for the first time, full investigations based solely on public statements advocating crime or violence when there is an apparent intent to carry out the threat.</p><p>* Authorize the FBI to collect publicly available information that satisfies a law enforcement purpose but does not necessarily involve a group under investigation.</p></blockquote><p>Cut to: 1988, and we’re on repeat from the 70s, like a bad sitcom, with scandals and exposes of police state overreach.</p><p>Here’s one example from the Chicago Tribune dated January 31, 1988:</p><blockquote><p>SECRET GUIDELINES ALLOWED FBI TO STRETCH PRIVACY LAW, FILES REVEAL</p><p>Files of an FBI investigation of groups opposing President Reagan's policy in Central America show that secret guidelines for national security investigations gave the agents enormous latitude to delve into the lives of Americans who simply had criticized government actions.</p><p>The disclosures from FBI files have raised questions in the public and Congress about whether the relaxed guidelines, designed to make it easier for agents to examine groups suspected of trying to "achieve political or social change" through violence, are a sufficient protection for individual rights. President Reagan has ordered an internal review of the FBI surveillance, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Friday.</p></blockquote><p>As you can probably guess, the Democrats made some noise, complained, opened hearings — but no one had the courage or stamina to go through all that again.</p><p>Meanwhile, on the assassination front, here’s a snapshot of what Reagan’s EO 12333 led to. This WaPo article, "Covert Hit Teams Might Evade Presidential Ban" dated February 12, 1984, needs to be unpacked to understand how little things have changed in the past three decades:</p><blockquote><p>The Reagan administration has debated whether to authorize covert operations abroad that would allow military or CIA hit teams to secretly attack terrorist groups responsible for recent bombings of U.S. installations. By one account the debate is still going on and no decision has been made.</p><p>[S]ome CIA and military officials argue that the most effective way to retaliate--with the fewest mistakes and fewest innocent victims--is through a surgical strike by a hit team, run and organized by the United States but probably composed of U.S. military personnel or even foreign nationals.</p><p>Air strikes or bombardments with 16-inch, one-ton shells from the battleship New Jersey do not have the precision of a small hit team with a definite target, these officials have argued.</p><p>One senior intelligence official in Beirut recently said that air strikes, while in theory more "morally" acceptable and conventional, have killed many unintentionally.</p></blockquote><p>This amazing passage gets right to one of the dark absurdities that informs our own debate today about how to fight terrorism — that it’s "legal" and considered essentially "normal" to shell with destroyers or bomb villages from the air if terrorists are suspected of being in those villages — but considered completely beyond the pale of civilized behavior to actually aim and target suspected terrorists.</p><p>It was a similar debate as this in the Bush years that led to increased use of drones and targeted assassinations — and now that we’re using drones, the sense is that the American imperial machine has crossed a Rubicon of death and evil unheard of. What Reagan’s war on terror reveals to our post-Reagan eyes is the absurdity of conducting imperial wars, period — whatever the choice of weapon is.</p><p>And then there’s this black comedy part of the story — putting the fate of the American imperial machine and justice in the hands of lawyers and "rule of law"-tards rather than in the public forum where it belongs:</p><blockquote><p>Those officials opposed to using hit teams say it would be assassination. And, they noted, an executive order concerning the intelligence community, first signed by President Ford in February 1976 and later reaffirmed by Presidents Carter and Reagan, prohibits assassination. The order says: "No employee of the United States government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination."</p><p>One official said the order could be revoked or simply ignored, arguing that covert action against terrorists could be defined as something other than "political assassination." This apparently could be done in secrecy. The law does not require the administration to give Congress prior notification of covert operations.</p><p>Both a White House and a State Department official confirmed last week that the use of a covert hit team was still being debated. They indicated that if any effort was made, the CIA would probably not be involved and the action would be called and considered "military activity" or even a "commando strike."</p></blockquote><p>See what happens when you put assassination policy in the hands of lawyers? It’s not even assassination anymore — it’s "military activity"! And terrorists aren’t political targets! And you didn’t support Bush’s invasion of Iraq, you supported the institutions that supported the institution of the presidency which decided independently of the institutions you supported to invade Iraq. Duh!</p><p> </p>* * * *<p> </p><p>Around this time, another revelation about Reagan and assassinations was discovered by the great investigative reporter Robert Parry working at the AP: A new CIA training manual for Latin American death squads, published in 1983, included instructions on various methods of murdering and torturing. Hundreds of thousands in Central America were butchered, disappeared, raped and tortured during Reagan’s tenure, by death squads trained up by our forces. All carried out under Reagan’s alleged "ban" on assassinations:</p><blockquote><p>The House Intelligence Committee chairman Wednesday night denounced a CIA psychological warfare manual produced for Nicaraguan rebels as "repugnant" and a "disaster for U.S. foreign policy."</p><p>The manual advises U.S.-backed Nicaraguan rebels that some officials of the nation's leftist government can be "neutralized" with the "selective use of violence" and recommends the hiring of professional criminals to carry out "selective jobs."</p><p>...The manual suggests arranging a violent demonstration that will lead to the death of one or more rebel supporters and the creation of a "martyr." It also instructs the rebels in how to coerce Nicaraguans into carrying out assignments against their will.</p></blockquote><p>Reagan’s people claimed that the AP got ahold of one of a handful of defective copies of the CIA manual, swearing on their grandmothers’ graves that the real CIA manuals distributed around Latin America made no mention of assassination.</p><p>But as soon as George Bush Sr became president in 1989, he dispensed with whatever remained of the charade with an "aw, fuck it" attitude — and that was that:</p><blockquote><p>Administration Redefines Ban on Foreign Assassinations<br />The Bush administration, without changing an executive order banning assassinations of foreign leaders, has chosen to legally interpret "assassination" as referring only to premeditated political murder, according to a published report.</p><p>Unidentified administration officials quoted by the Times said the ruling would significantly expand the scope of military operations the United States could legally launch against terrorists, drug lords or fugitives abroad, the newspaper reported.</p><p>"None of the executive orders defined the term assassination, which created a lot of confusion," a Pentagon official said. "This ruling takes away the excuse for indecision.".</p></blockquote><p>Did you catch that? Does it even matter anymore? You can already see where the real problem lies here — the complete absence of any politics, leaving American democracy at the mercy of lawyers and their various interpretations of "rule of law."</p><p>The Clinton years don’t bring any improvements — the best you can say about Clinton is that he didn’t escalate the Reagan-Bush national security state evils to new insane levels. Instead, he played the liberal by squirting a few for the hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans massacred under US supervision — then got his little wars on in Kosovo and cruise-missile attacked Saddam Hussein.</p><p>Ironically, during one of Clinton’s Baghdad-bombings in 1998, Republicans backed by all the armchair Machiavelli pundit class started making a bunch of noise demanding Clinton stop pretending once and for all that we don’t assassinate foreigners, on the theory that being "hypocritical" about assassinating foreigners is somehow a lot worse than tearing off our shirts outside the proverbial bar, screaming, "Yeah, we assassinate! Whatcha gonna do about it, huh? We’re here, brah! Not fuckin’ afraid to admit it, we assassinate, cuz that’s how we roll, brah!"</p><p>Clinton, however, chose to stick with his liberal hypocrite strategy. Ultimately, it made no goddamn difference to his successor, George W. Bush, but in hindsight you really do have to wonder why our culture got so laughably sanctimonious about a "hypocritical" assassination policy versus what the other side demanded, "at least being open about it." No one ever explained how being "open" about assassinations made us more just.</p><p> </p>* * * *<p> </p><p>Which brings us to our time. May 4, 2001. George W. Bush just seated himself in the White House. That same month, who should be lobbying for a bill granting Dubya unfettered power to assassinate whomever he wants but<a href="http://www.salon.com/2008/07/18/bob_barr/">libertarian hero</a> Bob Barr, as reported in the Tulsa World:</p><blockquote><p>Tough guys: Time to get back into the assassination business?<br />In case there was any doubt that the tough guys are back in charge in Washington, some of the new unilateralists making American policy these days seem to want to get us officially back into the assassination business.</p><p>[W]e search out individuals who might be inclined to harm one or more of us -- and we kill them. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia is stepping up to that one, and he seems to be doing it on White House orders or suggestion.</p><p>Barr, who wanted to take out President Clinton last year, has other targets in his sights this time. On Jan. 3, he introduced HR 19, "The Terrorist Elimination Act of 2001." It is a bill, in its own words, "to nullify the effect of certain provisions of various Executive Orders."</p></blockquote><p>A few months later, Bob Barr’s services were no longer needed by the Bush Administration.</p><p>Which brings me to the last part of this attempt at jolting your short-term memory. One of the other myths informing our feckless and half-baked debates is the meme going round claiming that President Obama, by approving extrajudicial assassinations of Americans suspected of being terrorists, crossed a line that supposedly "even Bush" never dared to cross.</p><p>For example, <a href="http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/02/legal-basis-killing-americans/">Wired</a> recently declared:</p><blockquote><p>Like the Bush administration before it, the Obama administration white paper rejects any geographical restriction on where it can launch its drone strikes and commando raids. But the Bush administration actually stopped short of declaring that it had the authority to kill American citizens.</p></blockquote><p>And Salon’s Joan Walsh expressed <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/02/05/when_liberals_ignore_injustice/">outrage</a> over the lack of liberal outrage at Obama’s "policies that Bush stopped short of, like targeted assassination of U.S. citizens loyal to al-Qaida."</p><p>(Walsh’s outrage is <a href="http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/20/1171594/-Any-outrage-about-Double-Tap-Drone-Strikes-Killing-Rescuers-and-Children-Any-sympathy">shared</a> by other <a href="http://www.thenation.com/blog/172694/outrage-mounts-media-over-obama-drone-kill-rules">outraged liberals</a>.)</p><p>There are more examples of this, but you get the point.</p><p>For better or for worse — I say for worse — this story doesn’t have a neat made-for-TV narrative arc of evil. It’s pretty goddamn flat throughout, excepting the Carter years. And that non-dramatic flat evil holds true with Obama as well.</p><p>First, it’s not true that Americans were not assassinated by extrajudicial drone or missile attacks during the Bush years. There are two for sure that we know of: The first American-born citizen assassinated by a targeted drone attack was Kemal Derwish, blown up by a Predator in Yemen in 2002.</p><p>As Dana Priest wrote in the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012604239_pf.html">Washington Post</a>:</p><blockquote><p>Word that the CIA had purposefully killed Derwish drew attention to the unconventional nature of the new conflict and to the secret legal deliberations over whether killing a U.S. citizen was legal and ethical.</p><p>After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. The evidence has to meet a certain, defined threshold. The person, for instance, has to pose "a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests," said one former intelligence official.</p></blockquote><p>That piece was written in 2010, but early in Bush’s term, articles like this one from the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/12/nyregion/12LACK.html?pagewanted=all&amp;pagewanted=print">New York Times</a> in 2003 made it clear that Bush approved of extrajudicial targeted assassinations of American suspected terrorists:</p><blockquote><p>On Nov. 3, 2002, a missile fired from a C.I.A. Predator drone incinerated a car carrying six men through the Yemeni desert. The target, according to government sources, was Qaed Salim Sinan al Harethi, believed to be a key Qaeda operative in the Cole attack. But in a report issued Nov. 19 by the Yemen news agency, Saba, the country's interior minister, Maj. Gen. Rashad al-Alimi, confirmed that one of the passengers was Kamal Derwish.</p><p>Afterward, American officials said the president had the power to order a strike on Al Qaeda operatives overseas, including American citizens.</p><p>In a recent interview, Mr. Ridge said Mr. Derwish's death had been discussed within the administration. "If that's what you have to do under these circumstances of 9/11 to protect America," he said, "that's what we have to do."</p></blockquote><p>Ridge’s interview confession to Lowell Bergman can be found at the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/sleeper/etc/script.html">PBS site</a>.</p><p>The second American targeted for assassination that we know of was <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/license-kill-intelligence-chief-us-american-terrorist/story?id=974049">Ruben Shumpert</a> of Seattle, killed by a US missile strike in Somalia in 2008.</p><p>And now here we are today, with a "progressive" president who absorbed all the rancid policies of Ronald Reagan and George W Bush and adopted them as his own as titular head of the American Empire.</p><p>Now, if someone could just distill that down to 140 characters.</p> Wed, 20 Feb 2013 23:55:00 -0800 Mark Ames, Not Safe for Work Corporation 798118 at https://img.alternet.org Human Rights Human Rights News & Politics assassination united states Amazing Investigation: How a Real Life James Bond Got Whacked by a Bag Lady Assassin https://img.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/amazing-investigation-how-real-life-james-bond-got-whacked-bag-lady-assassin <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">New clues and a powerful Wall St. skeptic challenge the official story of a CIA financier&#039;s brutal murder.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_-__2012-12-02_at_1.44.56_pm.jpg?itok=bfjTnyQ1" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>On the morning of Nov. 19, 1985, a wild-eyed and disheveled homeless woman entered the reception room at the legendary Wall Street firm of Deak-Perera. Carrying a backpack with an aluminum baseball bat sticking out of the top, her face partially hidden by shocks of greasy, gray-streaked hair falling out from under a wool cap, she demanded to speak with the firm’s 80-year-old founder and president, Nicholas Deak.</p><p>The 44-year-old drifter’s name was Lois Lang. She had arrived at Port Authority that morning, the final stop on a month-long cross-country Greyhound journey that began in Seattle. Deak-Perera’s receptionist, Frances Lauder, told the woman that Deak was out. Lang became agitated and accused Lauder of lying. Trying to defuse the situation, the receptionist led the unkempt woman down the hallway and showed her Deak’s empty office. “I’ll be in touch,” Lang said, and left for a coffee shop around the corner. From her seat by a window, she kept close watch on 29 Broadway, an art deco skyscraper diagonal from the Bowling Green Bull.</p><p>Deak-Perera had been headquartered on the building’s 20th and 21st floors since the late 1960s. Nick Deak, known as <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,875916,00.html">“the James Bond of money,”</a> founded the company in 1947 with the financial backing of the CIA. For more than three decades the company had functioned as an unofficial arm of the intelligence agency and was a key asset in the execution of U.S. Cold War foreign policy. From humble beginnings as a spook front and flower import business, the firm grew to become the largest currency and precious metals firm in the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. But on this day in November, the offices were half-empty and employees few. Deak-Perera had been decimated the year before by a federal investigation into its ties to organized crime syndicates from Buenos Aires to Manila. Deak’s former CIA associates did nothing to interfere with the public takedown. Deak-Perera declared bankruptcy in December 1984, setting off panicked and sometimes violent runs on its offices in Latin America and Asia.</p><p>Lois Lang had been watching 29 Broadway for two hours when a limousine dropped off Deak and his son Leslie at the building’s revolving-door rear entrance. They took the elevator to the 21st floor, where Lauder informed Deak about the odd visitor. Deak merely shrugged and was settling into his office when he heard a commotion in the reception room. Lang had returned. Frances Lauder let out a fearful “Oh—” shortened by two bangs from a .38 revolver. The first bullet missed. The second struck the secretary between the eyes and exited out the back of her skull.</p><p>Deak, fit and trim at age 80, bounded out of his office. “What was that?” he shouted. Lang saw him and turned the corner with purpose, aiming the pistol with both arms. When she had Deak in her sights, she froze, transfixed. “It was as if she’d finally found what she was looking for,” a witness later testified. Deak seized the pause to lunge and grab Lang’s throat with both hands, pressing his body into hers. She fired once next to Deak’s ear and missed wide, before pushing him away just enough to bring the gun into his body and land a shot above his heart. The bullet ricocheted off his collarbone and shredded his organs.</p><p>Deak crumbled onto the floor. <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1074802,00.html">“Now you’ve got yours,”</a> said Lang. A witness later claimed she took out a camera and snapped photographs of her victim’s expiring body. The bag lady then grabbed the banker by the legs, dragged him into his office, and shut the door.</p><p>She emerged shortly and headed for the elevator bank, where three NYPD officers had taken position. They shouted for Lang to freeze. When she reached for her .38, an officer tackled her to the floor. A second cop grabbed her arm as the first hammered her hand with the butt of his gun. As he jarred the revolver free, she turned into a cowering child — “like a frightened animal,” one of the officers later testified.</p><p>“Please don’t hurt me,” Lang begged. “He told me I could carry the gun.”</p><p>*   *  *</p><p>Lois Lang was tried, convicted and institutionalized under the assumption that she was mad. According to state psychiatrists, she targeted Deak because of random delusions, and her handlers were figments of her cracked imagination. The first judge to hear Lang’s case ruled her unfit for trial and sent her to Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center. She was sentenced eight years later, in 1993, when a state Supreme Court justice convicted her on two counts of second-degree murder and sent her to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility upstate, where she remains. Conspiracy was never part of the trial.</p><p></p><p>Arkadi Kuhlmann has long scoffed at the court’s conclusion. Kuhlmann, then 35 and newly in charge of Deak-Perera’s Canadian operations, became CEO after Deak’s death. Like his Deak-Perera colleagues, he understood that many criminal account holders had lost millions when the firm went bankrupt in 1984. Deak’s subsequent murder, he felt, was no coincidence.</p><p>“I never believed that the whole thing was random,” said Kuhlmann, in an interview with Salon. Ditto the government inquiry that triggered the collapse preceding Lang’s rampage. “We were the CIA’s paymaster, and that got to be a little bit embarrassing for them,” he said. “Our time had passed and the usefulness of doing things our way had vanished. The world was changing in the ’80s; you couldn’t just accept bags of cash. Deak was slow at making those changes. And when you lose your sponsorship, you’re out of the game.”</p><p>Kuhlmann is the founding CEO of ING Direct, acquired last year by Capital One for $9 billion. It’s a company that sees itself as the banking world’s Southwest Airlines, a cost-cutting upstart with excellent customer service, and its chief executive has a little bit of an outlaw-entrepreneur vibe. He likes to paint and was photographed straddling his customized Harley-Davidson for a<a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1633064,00.html">2007 Time magazine profile.</a> If only the magazine had known that his other hobbies include researching the global conspiracy he believed is behind the murder of his old friend and boss. “The question is: Who was actually able to put the hit on?” said Kuhlmann.</p><p>Following Deak’s death, Kuhlmann hired a team of private investigators to answer that question. “We went through all the records trying to figure out what happened,” he said. “Deak had assets stuffed away all over the place — in Israel, Macau, Monte Carlo, upstate New York, Hawaii, Saipan.” According to former Deak executives, the company was compartmentalized in a way that only the CEO fully understood, which made efforts to locate deposits like entering a labyrinth.</p><p>“We tried to find if there was a record of Lang having an account, maybe under an alias,” Kuhlmann continued. “Or if there was a romantic angle.”</p><p>As Kuhlmann traveled the world trying to repair relationships, trace lost assets and solve the mystery of Deak’s murder, he descended ever deeper into a rabbit hole. One of his stops was in Macau, where Deak’s office manager vanished without a trace after the collapse. Kuhlmann entered the paper-strewn offices to find the manager’s girlfriend sitting at her boyfriend’s old desk. She opened a drawer and pulled out a photo she’d found there: a grainy black-and-white snapshot of Nicholas Deak, lying bleeding on his office floor, just minutes from death. The photo, seemingly taken by Lang, had never been made public. Shortly thereafter, two of Kuhlmann’s investigators reported that Lang had met with two Argentineans in Miami before her bus trip to New York.</p><p>Kuhlmann has chronicled everything he knows about Deak’s murder in a file cabinet full of notes for a book with the working title “The Betrayal of Nicholas Deak.” He says that he’s sitting on some of his material until certain implicated individuals have died. But the evidence Kuhlmann <em>is</em> willing to discuss — as well as information newly uncovered by Salon — provides ballast for the doubts of Kuhlmann and others that chance led a crazy woman to whack Nick Deak, once a towering figure on Wall Street and at the CIA.</p><p>So if the gods of chance and the demons of the mad did not send a mentally ill homeless woman to murder a giant of Cold War covert ops, who did?</p><p>*   *   *</p><p>If Nicholas Deak had never existed, Graham Greene would have tried — and failed — to invent him. Born and raised in Transylvania during the last decade of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Deak received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Neuchâtel in 1929 and held posts with the Hungarian Trade Institute and London’s Overseas Bank before taking a post in the economics department of the League of Nations shortly before World War II. He fled Europe for the United States in 1939, enlisted as a paratrooper in 1942, and was quickly recruited into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the wartime precursor to the CIA. Among his first assignments was developing a plan to parachute oil executives disguised as Romanian firefighters into the Balkans to sabotage Axis energy supply lines. (Sadly, it was never implemented.) He spent the final year of the war in Burma, where he recruited locals into guerrilla units to fight the Japanese occupation. Japan’s Burmese commander would surrender his samurai sword to Deak at the end of the war, a memento Deak later kept in his Scarsdale, N.Y., attic.</p><p>Following V-Day, Deak was stationed in Hanoi and headed U.S. intelligence operations in French Indochina. He assisted with the supply of weapons to French colonial forces and in dispatches to Washington recommended sending unofficial U.S. “advisers” into combat missions, helping set the course for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. His close colleagues at the OSS included future CIA directors William Casey and William Colby, as well as CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton.</p><p>Deak was a unique talent at a unique time in American history. With Europe in ruins, the country emerged from the war as a true global power in need of imperial know-how. Within the ranks of the OSS, Deak stood out. The blue-blood Yalies that dominated the agency had little experience in global affairs and even less in global finance. And so they turned to the cosmopolitan half-Jewish foreigner to help move the nascent empire’s money around the strategic chessboard. Soon after the war ended, the American government provided the funds to found Deak and Co., a front that began as a global flower-distribution business in Hilo, Hawaii. It soon evolved into a proper bank with growing legitimate business as a broker of foreign currencies with branch offices all over the world, from Beirut to Buenos Aires. In the days of strict global capital controls, when banking was duller and more predictable, Deak’s firm attracted top talent and ambitious finance mavericks with its reputation as one of the most exciting white shoe firms on Wall Street.</p><p>But the company’s most important client was always the CIA. From its founding until the late 1970s, Deak’s firm was a key financial arm of the U.S. intelligence complex. Because it carried out the foreign-currency transactions of private entities, Deak and Co. could keep track of who was spiriting money into and out of which countries.</p><p>In 1962, for example, Deak warned the CIA that China was planning to invade India after his company’s Hong Kong branch was swamped with Chinese orders for Indian rupees intended for advance soldiers. Deak’s offices were more than observation posts. His company played a crucial role in executing some of the United States’ most infamous covert ops. In 1953, CIA director Alan Dulles tasked Deak with smuggling $1 million into Iran through his offices in Lebanon and Switzerland. The cash went to the street thugs and opposition groups that helped overthrow Iran’s prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in favor of the U.S.-approved shah. Deak’s network also financed the CIA-assisted coups in Guatemala and the Congo.</p><p>Meanwhile, the sunny side of Deak’s business thrived. Its retail foreign currency operation, now reconstituted under new ownership and known to the world as Thomas Cooke, became a staple at airports, its multi-packs of francs and marks symbols of every American family’s European vacation. Deak’s retail precious metals business dominated the market after the legalization of gold sales. After a series of sales and reconstitutions, it is today known as Goldline, a major sponsor of Glenn Beck and <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/totalreturn/2012/02/23/goldline-agrees-to-refund-4-5-million/">subject of a recent fraud settlement.</a></p><p></p><p>Sen. Frank Church inflicted the first hit on Deak’s public image in 1975. During the Idaho senator’s famous hearings into CIA black ops, it was revealed that Deak’s Hong Kong branch helped the agency funnel millions in <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_bribery_scandals">Lockheed bribe money</a> to a Japanese yakuza don, political power broker, and former “Class A” war criminal named Yoshio Kodama. One of the most bizarre details involved a priest-turned-bagman who carried over 20 pounds of cash hidden under baskets of oranges on flights between Hong Kong and Tokyo, where he delivered the cash to Lockheed representatives.</p><p>Deak’s firm was not penalized for its role in the scandal — bribing foreign officials wasn’t yet illegal in the U.S. — but the damage to his firm’s image was real. The scandal brought down Japan’s government and governments in Western Europe; it also led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the first serious attempt to criminalize overseas bribery. The damage to Deak’s public image was real. It was also quickly compounded by a subsequent New Republic expose that outlined Deak’s role in the Iran, Guatemala and Congo coups. According to those who worked with him at the time, by the late 1970s Deak understood the CIA had begun to see his high profile — matched with a growing business laundering underworld money — as a liability.</p><p>If his name was no longer synonymous with the all-American vacation, Deak emerged during the 1970s as a hero in an emergent libertarian gold-bug subculture. As Doomsday-obsessed gold hoarders built financial bomb shelters in the shadow of stagflation, Deak emerged as among the first proto-Libertarian gurus. A fawning profile in Reason magazine compared Deak to “Midas Mulligan or any other character ever conceived of by Ayn Rand.” A font of public lectures and provocative quotes for journalists, Deak drew admiration from fellow gold-circuit riders Ron Paul and Alan Greenspan. He corresponded with Friedrich Hayek. At one gold conference featuring George Will and Louis Rukeyser, the suave banker with the thick Transylvanian accent drew wild applause when he blamed inflation on “welfare” and declared, “I don’t see why the recipient of welfare should be able to vote, because obviously he can vote for more welfare.” Deak also embraced apartheid-era South Africa. “I love to deal with South Africa,” he once said. “Without the white population, the black people there would be in the same shape as west and east Africa.” The media was enthralled. Time tagged him “the James Bond of Money.” Merv Griffin interviewed him with barely concealed awe.</p><p>“Deak was incredibly charismatic, the ultimate old world aristocrat,” said Kuhlmann. “He had this imperial bearing and yet was very charming and equally comfortable with high financiers and arms dealers.”</p><p>*   *   *</p><p>As the hard-line conservative movement aligned behind Ronald Reagan, things couldn’t have looked better for Deak. His reactionary mix of Spenglerian pessimism, Social Darwinism and Austrian School economics was coming back into vogue. His buddy Bill Casey was put in charge of Reagan’s CIA with a mandate to resurrect the Old Boys Network. People lined up around the world to buy golden <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=deak+coins&amp;hl=en&amp;safe=off&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;hs=2bX&amp;tbo=d&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;source=lnms&amp;tbm=isch&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=Sgm5UNuUEOPA0AGd1oHQDw&amp;ved=0CAcQ_AUoAA&amp;biw=1465&amp;bih=731">“Deak Coins”</a> stamped with his aquiline mug and the motto “Internationalization of Sound Money.” It should have been the start of a grand second act. But it was not to be.</p><p></p><p>The House of Deak began its rapid collapse in 1983 when a federal informant accused the firm of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in Colombian cartel cash. Leading the attack from Treasury was John M. Walker, a first cousin of the vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush, who served as CIA chief under Gerald Ford. Suddenly Deak’s decades-long relationship with Casey meant nothing. The knives were out. One of Deak’s executives, Theana Kastens, remembers dropping by 29 Broadway and seeing a freshman congressman named Chuck Schumer sitting in Deak’s office chair, his feet up on the desk, rifling through papers.</p><p>“He felt profoundly betrayed,” said Kastens, whose father, Pennsylvanian Rep. Gus Yatron, served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee during the Iran-Contra hearings. “He was bitter and despondent.”</p><p>When Reagan’s Justice Department established a presidential commission to investigate the charges, a furious Deak rejected participation in what he regarded as a show trial. He was summoned to testify in Washington and refused. Finally, on Nov. 29, 1984, the feds dragged him before the cameras under subpoena for a public dressing-down. Deak openly displayed his contempt for the proceedings. Sardonic and aloof, he responded to questions about his company’s Swiss-like policy of accepting all deposits by asserting that it was the job of law enforcement, not Nicholas Deak, to track drug money. His outrage at being singled out was understandable. At the time, CIA director Casey was funding Nicaragua’s contra rebels with the agency’s own cocaine trade profits. Of course, the exact justification for burning Deak didn’t matter. And as with the Church hearings, his company was never actually even prosecuted. The message to Deak and his underworld clients was more important: Deak-Perera had lost its protection and was in the cross hairs.</p><p>The fallout was immediate. Deak’s crime-commission appearance triggered a worldwide run on the company’s deposits. Crowds mobbed Deak offices in Argentina and Hong Kong. Millions of dollars in gray and black deposits vanished. Among the jilted clients were Macau Triads and Latin American drug cartels. A retired DEA official who worked in Hong Kong in the 1980s said, “Nick Deak screwed over a lot of people, including the Macau mob.” Philip Bowering, a Hong Kong correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review in the 1980s, said there’s no question Deak made a lot of enemies that year. “He crossed one of the Macau mafia,” he said. “But on what issue I have no idea.”</p><p>After a bankruptcy declaration in December 1984, Deak tried not to think about his new enemies and focus on sorting through his company’s remains. He spent 1985 traveling the globe with his son Leslie, trying ineffectually to revive the firm. Then one wintry afternoon, with the holidays approaching and the “Miami Vice” theme climbing the Billboard charts, a homeless woman from Seattle named Lang showed up at 29 Broadway and brought Nick Deak’s long and storied run to an end.</p><p>*   *   *</p><p>Nothing about Lois Lang’s story ever made much sense. But then, why should anything about a paranoid-schizophrenic bag lady have to make sense? This is the logic that sent Lang to federal prison and satisfied the court. But those closest to the case — including former Deak executives; the prosecuting assistant district attorney; and the daughter of Deak’s secretary, Bonnie Lauder — have never been convinced. “I have always believed,” Lauder told us at her home in Staten Island, “that there was something wrong with the story I was told about how my mother was killed by a random bag lady.”</p><p>Lauder is not alone in suspecting deeper forces at work.</p><p>“I never bought the operetta story of a crazy woman shooting the elephant hunter point-blank in his own office,” said Antal Fekete, a Canadian economist who met Deak while teaching at Princeton in the 1970s. “I often think that the producers at the CIA should pick a more credible scenario when they plot the elimination of some of their former employees who babble too much.” Otto Roethenmund, a former executive in Deak’s company who was in the office the day of the killing, said Deak’s murder “was a very, let us say, interesting thing. But I prefer not to speculate.”</p><p>New revelations about Lois Lang’s transformation from homecoming queen to homeless killer provide excellent grist for substantive speculation, if not the basis for officially reopening the Deak case.</p><p>A standout college athlete with an M.A. from the University of Illinois, Lang married in the mid-’60s and took a job coaching the University of California-Santa Barbara women’s tennis and fencing teams. An old U.C.-Santa Barbara yearbook shows coach Lang standing tall in a team photo.  It was around this time that she began losing her mind, seeing “fakes” all around her, strangers whom she accused of pretending to be family members, her husband and, at an open-casket funeral, her mother’s corpse.</p><p>In 1970, the university declined to renew her coaching contract. Lang and her husband soon divorced. Her life quickly became a blur. Lang complained of “amnesia” and said that her ex-husband’s business partner moved her into an apartment in Mountain View, Calif., where she lived on “grants” and “took flying lessons.” (Moffett Field Naval Base and NASA’s Ames Research Center are located there). She told psychiatrists in 1985 that this business partner, or his “fakes,” took her to Deak’s offices at 29 Broadway in 1971. She said that “friends” taught her marksmanship at firing ranges. In August 1975, records show that Lang was discovered naked and catatonic in a Santa Clara motel room. (Neither Lang’s ex-husband nor his “business partner” could be located. Lang, who is imprisoned at a federal facility two hours north of New York City, did not respond to interview requests.)</p><p>Police responding to the motel room took Lang to nearby Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. For the next month, she was put under the care of Dr. Frederick Melges, a psychiatrist associated with the Stanford Research Institute. One of Dr. Melges’ main areas of research: drug-aided hypnosis. A few years after Lang was put in Melges’ care, the New York Times exposed the Stanford Research Institute as a center for CIA research into “brain-washing” and “mind-control” experiments in which unwitting subjects were dosed with hallucinogenic drugs and subjected to hypnosis. Melges, who died in 1988, is today remembered in the field for his research on the relationship between perceptions of time and mental illness.</p><p>Congressional hearings subsequently uncovered a large network of top-secret CIA-funded psychological warfare programs grouped loosely under the project name MK-ULTRA. These programs today sound like absurd cloak-and-dagger relics of “Twilight Zone”-inflected Cold War hysteria. But the people running these programs, which continued until at least 1979, were often leading researchers backed by the U.S. government. Enormous resources were committed to the study of how human behavior might be controlled for the purpose of interrogation and the creation of “programmed” assassins and couriers. In a detailed roundup of MK-ULRA-related operations, Psychology Today explained that the CIA “conducted or sponsored at least 419 secret drug-testing projects” at “86 United States and Canadian hospitals, prisons, universities, and military installations,” and that “by the agency’s own admission, many [experimental subjects] were ‘unwitting’.”</p><p>The Stanford Research Institute received CIA funding, and Dr. Melges published work about using drugs and hypnosis to create “disassociative states,” i.e., induced schizophrenia. One of Melges’ partners on these experiments was a doctor named Leo E. Hollister, who first dosed Ken Kesey with LSD as part of an Army experiment in 1960. He later admitted to author John Marks that he conducted drug research for the CIA. Marks’ 1979 book, “The Search for the Manchurian Candidate,” contains numerous such revelations about other government researchers.</p><p>In other words, the doctor who cared for Lang in Santa Clara was a senior figure at one of the CIA’s top institutional grantees. He worked side-by-side with a self-identified CIA collaborator, and conducted research into the kind of drug-induced behavior modification that the agency is known to have funded.</p><p>Following her release from Melges’ care, Lang began a long period as a drifter, leaving behind a record typical of such a life: petty crimes, arrests, stints in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Her only known job was at the once famously mobbed-up Harrah’s casino on the Nevada-California border (where Frank Sinatra’s son was kidnapped in 1963). By the early 1980s, Lang drifted north to her birthplace and spent her last free years lurking around the University of Washington campus wearing a feathered Robin Hood cap. Occasionally she was arrested and sent to one of the nearby mental hospitals before making her way back again. A local police officer told the New York Times after her arrest in 1985 that Lang “usually had money,” despite roaming “the [university] campus in unkempt clothes, usually wearing a green felt Tyrolean-style hat.” Once the police found more than $800 in her possession.</p><p>As with Stanford, the university employed a military-linked behavioral psychiatrist, Dr. Donald Dudley, who later became infamous for carrying out experiments in behavior modification. Dudley taught there from the 1960s through the early 1990s, and also worked at nearby mental institutions where Lang was periodically committed. The landmark lawsuit that ended Dudley’s career revealed that Dudley’s hobby was taking patients brought to him for lesser mental illnesses, pumping them full of drugs, hypnotizing them, and trying to turn them into killers.</p><p>We know this thanks to a suit brought by the family of Stephen Drummond, who entered Dudley’s care in 1989 for autism treatment. He was returned to his family in 1992 suffering from severe catatonia. According to lawsuit testimony, Dudley shot Drummond up with sodium amytal and hypnotized him with the intention of “erasing” a portion of his brain and turning him into an assassin. When Drummond’s mother confronted Dudley, the mad scientist threatened to have her killed, claiming he worked for the CIA. Dudley was arrested soon after the confrontation in a local hotel where he had shacked up to “treat” a suicidal 15-year-old drifter. Dudley had given the boy sodium amytal and several other drugs, hypnotized him, and convinced him that he was part of a secret army of assassins. Police were called in when the boy threatened hotel staff with a .44 caliber handgun. Not long after, Dudley died in state custody and his estate was forced to pay the largest psychotherapy negligence lawsuit in history. During the trial, it emerged that Dudley had possibly subjected hundreds of victims to similar experiments. Lang was not mentioned.</p><p>*   *   *</p><p>If Lang was tapped to whack Nicholas Deak, she was part of a long tradition. In mobster literature, insane assassins are regular characters. “Nuts were used from time to time by certain people for certain matters,” explains Jimmy Hoffa’s former right-hand man, Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, in his memoir, “I Heard You Paint Houses.” Chuck Giancana, brother of Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, writes that he once heard his brother say that “picking a nutcase who was also a sharpshooter” to carry out an assassination was “as old as the Sicilian hills.”</p><p>An untraceable hit is the best hit, and the mind of a “nut” is all but untraceable. Hoffa associate Sheeran identified two high-profile examples in America. One took place during Hoffa’s trial in Nashville in 1962, when, during a break in the trial, a young paranoid-schizophrenic named William Swanson rushed into the courthouse and began firing at Hoffa. Hoffa’s attacker had been released from a California mental institution a few months before coming out to Nashville. “I had been struggling with something in me that told me I had to kill someone for over a year, but I didn’t know who,” Swanson told police after he was arrested. “Then a voice told me, ‘You have to kill Hoffa’ — it said it twice.” Hoffa had always assumed that rival mobsters had trained Swanson to take him out. A few years later, in 1971, New York’s top Mafia don, Joseph Colombo, was gunned down at an Italian-American pride rally by a 24-year-old African-American paranoid-schizophrenic, who was killed seconds later by someone in the crowd.</p><p>The Colombo assassination made headlines for months, and although everyone from the police chief down assumed mob involvement, the hit was never solved. Assassin Jerome Johnson was a black neo-Nazi as well as a practiced marksman and member of the NRA. He also thought he was God. The night before murdering Colombo, he arrived by bus from Cambridge, Mass., carrying a caged monkey. No one ever figured out whom Johnson visited in Cambridge, how he got his money, or why he had the monkey.</p><p></p><p>Lois Lang spoke to police and doctors on the day of her own arrival by bus. As during subsequent interviews with psychiatrists, she was incapable of offering more than sketchy and incoherent autobiographical information. She was hospitalized for eight years before a judge finally declared her fit to stand trial in 1993. The prosecution team found the case very odd — the D.A. reportedly still thinks about it — but didn’t spend much time delving into the motivations of the madwoman. Lang has been in Bedford Hills federal prison ever since. Her longtime attorney is deceased. She has grown a beard like a billy goat and ignores all interview requests. Her most recent parole interview was last August. Like every previous date, she failed to attend.</p><p>*  *  *</p><p>If the tossed-off human byproduct of a half-baked CIA assassin program was indeed recruited by one of many potential-suspect crime syndicates to kill Deak, how did it go down? Who provided Lang’s name to whom? Who helped her to buy a bus ticket to Florida via Tijuana? Who helped her buy a Saturday Night Special in Orlando and taught her to shoot?</p><p>Some of those loose ends may be tied up by opening government files. Since the 1980s, the CIA and Department of Defense have had to reveal thousands of pages of documents and settle scores of lawsuits filed by victims of various mind-control experiments. Recently a major class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of over 7,000 veterans subjected to chemical and biological experiments at the 11th Circuit federal courts.</p><p>Arkadi Kuhlmann, the ING Direct CEO, may hold a few important leads. During our conversation, we told Kuhlmann that Lang was hospitalized under the supervision of at least one doctor with a documented interest in drug-induced hypnosis. He wasn’t at all surprised. “How does a woman like her actually handle a gun and get off two clean shots?” he asks. “That’s execution-style. It’s hard to function like an executioner one minute, but be loose around the edges. Unless you’re brainwashed like a robot.”</p><p>He then divulged a discovery he has kept to himself for nearly three decades. In Macau, Kuhlmann said, one of his investigators was tipped off about the potential involvement of two Argentinean gangsters in Deak’s killing. His team was able to trace the men’s movements in the months before the murders and discovered they had met with Lois Lang in Miami, not far from where Lang bought her murder weapon and took the bus to New York. “We’re absolutely certain they met with Lang,” Kuhlmann said.</p><p>What was this duo’s precise connection to Deak? And how did they come to meet Lois Lang?</p><p>Here Kuhlmann pauses for the first time.</p><p>“I know a few more things about them,” he said. “But this gets a little dicey. I don’t know how to play that game. I don’t want to be the next target.”</p><p>*   *   *</p><p>So let’s imagine that Lang was a product of a government-connected mind-control program. If jilted gangsters from Argentina and Macau used her to exact revenge, what could possibly connect them?</p><p>Allow us one more speculation rooted in the record.</p><p>As Deak’s banking empire was collapsing in December 1984, the depositors in Deak’s “non-bank” banking outfits — specifically the Connecticut-based Deak-Perera Wall Street and Deak-Perera International Banking Corporation — included numerous rich and shady Argentineans parking their “black” cash outside of Argentina. The country was in upheaval following the Falklands War debacle that led to the overthrow of Argentina’s quasi-fascist junta and the restoration of democracy. For decades, Argentina had been Latin America’s haven for some of the world’s most wanted, its capital city of Buenos Aires a European-flavored nexus for Nazi war criminals, global Mafiosi and Western spy services. The 1970s were the scene’s heyday, when Argentina’s junta coordinated “Operation Condor,” a regional crackdown carried out with the support of the CIA and allied dictatorships. Condor resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of suspected leftists, including the car bombing in Washington, D.C., of Chile’s former ambassador.</p><p>This coziness continued into the early 1980s. Upon Reagan’s election, one of the first things Bill Casey did was farm out Argentina’s death squad commanders as trainers and commanders of anti-Sandinista death squads in Nicaragua, known as the contras<em>.</em> This arrangement worked fine until mid-1982, when Britain went to war with Argentina over the Falklands, and Reagan sided with Thatcher. In the wake of the war, the Argentine junta-mafia power structure collapsed. Suddenly a lot of very scary Argentineans with ties to the underworld and the CIA began to move their money safely out of Argentina, where Deak maintained a large foreign currency exchange business.</p><p>It’s all but certain that the bankruptcy of Nicholas Deak resulted in the burning of some of the CIA’s most ruthless, bloodstained allies of the Cold War. With his CIA ties and right-wing politics, Deak knew many of them personally. Kuhlmann recounted to us how shortly after he joined the firm, Deak brought him to a meeting with one of Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s top arms dealers. Such relationships combining financial and political networks offer a plausible scenario for how Deak’s bilked banking clients might have been able to tap a possible victim of CIA behavior modification experiments like Lois Lang. If any capital flight demographic in 1984 had deep ties to the CIA and their experts in torture, interrogation techniques and related “science,” it was Argentina’s fleeing junta-elite.</p><p>“Lang and the Argentineans — it’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Kuhlmann with a sigh. “You have to fill in the missing 30 percent. That doesn’t work in a court of law.”</p><p> </p> Sun, 02 Dec 2012 13:42:00 -0800 Mark Ames, Alexander Zaitchik, Salon 753914 at https://img.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics nick deak cia assassin Romney's Supposed 'Liberal Republican' Father Attacked Women's Rights Advocates as 'Moral Perverts' https://img.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/romneys-supposed-liberal-republican-father-attacked-womens-rights-advocates-moral <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Former Gov. George Romney&#039;s forgotten past: Equal Rights Amendment campaign was a homosexual conspiracy.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_-__2012-10-04_at_6.22.35_pm.jpg?itok=MyG7CXrh" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p> </p><p>While researching my ongoing series of articles for <a href="http://www.nsfwcorp.com/"><em>Not Safe for Work Corporation</em></a> on the relationship between the Romney family and the Mormon Church and their reactionary politics, I came across a shocker.</p><p>In 1979 and 1980, at the height of the battle to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, Mitt Romney’s father, former Gov. George Romney—the supposedly “liberal” <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/69539.html">“cool”</a> Republican who was destroyed by Nixon’s dirty tricks—publicly denounced supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment as <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2206&amp;dat=19791217&amp;id=7JNYAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=RUMNAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=3146,2787254">“moral perverts,”</a> labeling the movement a homosexual conspiracy to destroy the American family.</p><p>George Romney is Mitt’s “inspiration” for his campaign, and it has been widely repeated to that point of uncontested truth that Mitt’s father was a <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/08/26/george_romney_braver_than_mitt/">“liberal” Republican</a> and “champion” of civil rights. Clearly, the recent history of Mitt Romney’s family needs updating.</p><p>First, a little background: In 1979-80, just before Ronald Reagan was elected president, ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was all but assured. But thanks to an intense and well-organized campaign waged by the Mormon Church leadership, the ERA was stopped in its tracks in Utah and a handful of other states where Mormon influence could make the difference.</p><p>As Jon Krakauer observed in his bestseller, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Under-Banner-Heaven-Story-Violent/dp/1400032806">Under the Banner of Heaven</a>, “Most political analysts believe that had the LDS Church not taken such an aggressive position against the ERA, it would have been easily ratified by the required thirty-eight states, and would now be part of the U.S. Constitution.”</p><p>Indeed, before the Mormon leadership targeted the women’s rights amendment for destruction, support even in Utah ran high—a 1974 poll published in the Deseret News, which is owned by the LDS Church, showed that 63% of Utah residents “approved of the ERA,” according to Krakauer’s book.</p><p>The years 1979-80 were crucial in the battle to kill the Equal Rights Amendment and turn the momentum. Mormon feminists like Sonia Johnson—who founded Mormons for ERA—were excommunicated from the LDS Church, and denounced on television by top power-Mormons like Sen. Orrin Hatch.</p><p>And that is when George Romney, Mitt’s father and Mitt’s “inspiration” for his presidential campaign—joined the Mormon Church’s campaign vilifying the Equal Rights Amendment and its supporters as “moral perverts.” Romney’s hate-filled attacks on ERA supporters shocked mainstream Americans, who couldn’t quite believe it at first—so Mitt’s father went public a second time equating ERA supporters to homosexuals and moral perverts, who were one and the same according to Mitt’s father.</p><p>From “<a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2206&amp;dat=19791217&amp;id=7JNYAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=RUMNAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=3146,2787254">Romney: ERA home for ‘moral perverts’</a>” published by the AP on December 17, 1979:</p><blockquote><p>George Romney says the equal rights movement has attracted ‘moral perverts’ who want to undermine the very family the Mormon Church is striving to enrich.<br />“At an international women’s year meeting,” said Romney, “lesbians and the homosexuals and moral perverts (cited) this amendment as a means of eliminating any basis of moral criticism.”</p><p>...Romney said he supported his church’s decision to excommunicate feminist Sonia Johnson who had campaigned for the ERA.</p></blockquote><p>A week later, the leaders of the Michigan state senate and house, along with 32 other state legislators, called on former Gov. Romney to resign from a post he held in 1979 as governor of Wayne State University. House Speaker Bobby Crim and Senate majority leader William Faust issued a joint statement in December 1979 that Romney’s statements “sadden us deeply. His insinuation that the amendment is being promoted by ‘moral perverts’ is misguided and inaccurate.”</p><p> </p><p>Mitt’s dad refused to back down, or resign. Instead, a couple of weeks later, George Romney published a letter in the Mormon Church’s newspaper The Deseret News in which he doubled down on his attacks, writing:</p><blockquote><p>“Surely this resolution [the ERA] and its supporting statements are designed to legitimize sex and social relationships other than those that form the basis of divinely ordained marriage, parenthood, family and home..."</p></blockquote><p>Romney also argued that the ERA would legitimize practices contrary to what he called “the truths about sex and sexual preferences voiced by God through his prophets.” [“Romney fears ERA would be boost for gays”, Miami News Services, January 1, 1980]</p><p>In 1993, Apostle Boyd Packer—who currently serves as the Number Two man in the LDS Church hierarchy— was quoted in Krakauer’s book as saying the three biggest threats facing the Mormons were “the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement, and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.”</p><p>The LDS Church’s attitude towards women is more well-known—this past week, the Daily Beast’s Stacey Solie wrote <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/02/jim-lehrer-ask-mitt-romney-if-he-stands-by-mormonism-s-views-of-women.html">an article</a> calling on zombie-moderator Jim Lehrer to ask Romney about his church’s views on women, and if he agreed with them.</p><p>It’s been accepted as a given that the Romneys were never the types to fall in line with the church’s more extreme reactionary politics—and that Mitt’s father and “inspiration,” Gov. George Romney, was a “liberal” and a brave supporter of civil rights.</p><p>Indeed in 1967, Gov. George Romney specifically promised that the Mormon Church's reactionary politics would not impact his commitment to liberal politics and civil rights. In an article headlined <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=OegmAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=EAMGAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=717,1492483&amp;dq">"Romney Insists Mormon Faith Won't Mar His Liberal Stand"</a> Mitt's father, comparing himself to JFK, told Protestant and Catholic clergymembers :</p><blockquote><p>"My faith has influenced me to believe that every human being is a child of God as I am, and should have every opportunity I have...I believe I'm entitled to be judged on the basis of my action, not someone else's ideas of what may be the precepts of my church."</p></blockquote><p>That of course turned out to be a lie: 12 years later, Mitt's father took his marching orders from the LDS Church attacking the Equal Rights Amendment as a gay/lesbian plot and its supporters as "moral perverts."</p><p>Maybe a better question then to ask Mitt Romney is, does he support his father’s stance on the ERA as a plot by “moral perverts” to destroy the American family, given that his father serves as Mitt's "inspiration"? And more importantly, if the LDS Church calls on a President Romney to take a stand on a national issue, will Mitt, like his father, fall in line and carry the reactionary water, whatever the consequences for everyone else?</p> Thu, 04 Oct 2012 18:16:00 -0700 Mark Ames, Not Safe for Work Corporation 721971 at https://img.alternet.org News & Politics Election 2016 george romney liberal moral perverts Equal Rights Amendment womens' rights election 2012 Has NPR's Adam Davidson Betrayed His Listeners? Serious Conflict of Interest Issues Exposed https://img.alternet.org/has-nprs-adam-davidson-betrayed-his-listeners-serious-conflict-interest-issues-exposed <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Davidson is a shrewd propagandist with a long, consistent history of shilling for powerful interests—and failing to disclose his financial ties to the companies he reports on.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2012-08-09_at_3.53.31_pm.png?itok=xzDFT1dL" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><strong>Editor's Note: </strong><em>The following article from Yasha Levine and Mark Ames' <a href="http://shameproject.com">SHAME Project</a> has <a href="http://observer.com/2012/08/adam-davidson-planet-money-media-ethics-08092012/">caught the attention of the New York Observer's Foster Kamer</a>, who suggests that the authors have made a "compelling case" that the NPR programming Adam Davidson is associated with is "inherently conflicted."  What are the charges? Kamer summarizes:</em></p><blockquote><em>First, that a notoriously hostile 2009 <em>Planet Money</em> interview between Davidson and<strong>Elizabeth Warren</strong>—the special adviser to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—was ethically tainted by <em>Planet Money</em>‘s financial arrangements with “the sole sponsor underwriting Davidson’s Planet Money show and his salary.” Levine and Ames argue that the sponsor in question—a financial services conglomerate—lobbied against the creation of the CFPB before it was created (and around the time of the interview), which is evidence of an insidious conflict of interest. Furthermore, they allege that Davidson is accepting speaking fees from the industry he covers for both NPR and <em>The New York Times Magazine</em>, something largely viewed as an unsavory, questionable practice by most journalists (and journalism institutions, which usually have guidelines against that sort of thing).</em></blockquote><blockquote><em>****</em></blockquote><p>Adam Davidson is the co-creator and host of the popular economic news radio program <em>Planet Money. </em>On air, Davidson plays the role of an earnest, brainy reporter who’s doing his best to make sense of the complicated, jargon-filled world of finance to report business news in a way that NPR listeners can understand. However, behind the dweeby, faux-naive facade Adam Davidson presents to his listeners, is a shrewd propagandist with a long, consistent history of shilling for powerful and destructive interests—and failing to disclose his financial ties to the companies and industries he reports on.</p><p>Over the years, Davidson has boosted for the <a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/adam-davidson/">Iraq War</a> and whitewashed the occupation of Iraq, <a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/adam-davidson/">praised sweatshop labor</a> and "experimenting on the poor," attacked the idea of <a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/adam-davidson/">regulating Wall Street</a>, parroted libertarian propaganda about the <a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/adam-davidson/">government’s inability</a> to directly create jobs, argued for "squeezing the middle class," and <a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/adam-davidson/">shamelessly fawned</a> over Wall Street for allegedly blessing Americans with "just about anything that makes you happy." (Read Adam Davidson's<a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/adam-davidson/" title="Adam Davidson"> full S.H.A.M.E. profile</a>.)</p><p>Adam Davidson gained national media recognition as an on-air personality in 2008, after co-producing an episode for <em>This American Life</em> called <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/355/the-giant-pool-of-money">"The Giant Pool of Money"</a> about the implosion of subprime lending. Although Davidson's segment was praised for making the murky world of finance easier to understand, his framing of the subprime housing debacle served another purpose: It let Wall Street off the hook for its role in rampant criminal mortgage fraud and predatory lending. Among the show's fans was Treasury Secretary and former New York Federal Reserve Bank chief Timothy Geithner: "Yeah, they did a good job."</p>As a piece of journalism, Davidson's report on the subprime fraud was a failure bordering on journalistic malpractice. By absolving the role of rampant predatory criminality and spreading blame in a grand false equivalency, Davidson provided a narrative frame that comforted the American Establishment at a time when it badly needed comforting, and was duly rewarded for his services. The mainstream media joined Timothy Geithner in lavishing praise on Davidson's subprime fraud whitewash, and awarded him and his partner with the prestigious <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/business/giant-pool-of-money.html">"Peabody Award</a>" while New York University's Journalism Institute named the segment one of the <a href="http://journalism.nyu.edu/decade/">"Top Ten Works of Journalism of the Decade." </a>Thanks to the broad acceptance and praise of Davidson's whitewash, he was given his own show, which launched just as the entire financial system began to meltdown. <p>The new show, called <em>Planet Money</em>, was a partnership between NPR and Chicago Public Media's <em>This American Life, </em>and was molded on Davidson’s successful subprime episode. Not surprisingly, <em>Planet Money</em> was compromised almost from the very start.</p><p>While Adam Davidson has recently come under increasing scrutiny for using his NPR platform to promote the narrow interests of the super-wealthy in this country, little attention has thus far been given to Davidson's corruption—his numerous financial conflicts of interest that seriously undermine his claims to being a journalist, and instead reveal Davidson as a glorified product spokesman for his Wall Street sponsors.</p><p>In early 2009, just a few months after <em>Planet Money</em> was launched, NPR announced it had secured Ally Bank (formerly GMAC) as the show's exclusive sponsor. It was an unusual setup for NPR, and unusual (and highly dubious) for anything that called itself journalism, because it meant  that a major, troubled financial institution was the only source of money for a news program about finance. At the time that the unusual agreement was signed, <em>Planet Money</em> was the only NPR program underwritten by a single exclusive sponsor. The arrangement raised eyebrows and would have been unthinkable before the crisis—but even by post-crisis funding arrangements, Planet Money's deal with Ally Bank stood out as such an obvious violation of basic journalism standards that even <em>Ad Age</em>, the advertising industry's trade publication, was <a href="http://adage.com/article/media/npr-s-planet-money-makes-deal-rebranded-gmac/137115/">taken aback</a> by the "close alignment of message and news program."</p><p>To understand why Davidson's arrangement with Ally Bank is so odious, a little background is needed. Ally Bank is a subsidiary of Ally Financial, a giant financial services company formerly known as GMAC. There's a good reason why GMAC would have wanted to change its name to "Ally Financial" after the financial collapse: The bank is one of the biggest mortgage servicers in the country, and has been one of the very worst offenders in foreclosure fraud and in the very same subprime fraud that Davidson whitewashed as a "blameless" phenomenon. GMAC deserves far more blame—and jail time—than any of the subprime borrowers it fleeced and ruined. Since GMAC collapsed in late 2008, it has received more than $17 billion taxpayer bailout funds in a series of bailouts. As of August 1, 2012, 74% of Ally Financial was <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/e8b5a19b-6f07-4c6f-b6c7-5a1169bd0c62/f324a6e163aa7078e85f3e0aff3e22b9">still owned</a> by the U.S. Government. [ <a class="footnote-link footnote-identifier-link" href="http://shameproject.com/report/adam-davidson-corrupt-wall-street-booster/#footnote_0_2649" id="identifier_0_2649" title="See Naked Capitalism's coverage of GMAC/Ally's mortgage fraud.">1</a> ]</p><p>At the time Ally signed its sponsorship agreement with <em>Planet Money</em>, the bank was being investigated across the country for foreclosure fraud, robo-signing fraud, and student loan fraud. Even as bad bailed-out banks go, GMAC/Ally is considered one of the worst, most tainted of them all.</p><p><a href="http://shameproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/planet-money-ally-bank-exclusive-sponsor.jpg"></a></p><p><em>Planet Money</em>'s relationship with Ally is a textbook example of “conflict of interest" of the sort every journalist is taught to shun. The bank had a clear and demonstrable interest in <em>Planet Money</em>'s coverage of the financial industry, especially issues that affected the bank’s bottom line. As <em>Planet Money</em>'s sole sponsor at a time when NPR funds were falling, Ally obviously wielded considerable power.</p><p>After Davidson sprang a vicious and bizarre smear-attack on Elizabeth Warren in 2009, some NPR listeners started to get wise to <em>Planet Money</em>'s corruption problem, and made their concerns known. Following months of complaints from readers pointing to the conflict-of-interest and the way <em>Planet Money</em>'s segments dovetailed with the banking lobby's own propaganda—and with Ally's interests—NPR’s Ombudsman was <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2009/12/ally_bank.html">forced to issue a public statement</a> on the Ally-<em>Planet Money</em> relationship. Perhaps not surprisingly, the NPR Ombudsman decided that listeners' concerns over the conflict-of-interest were "cynical"—as if the problem lay in listeners' psychology, rather than in Planet Money's violation of basic journalism ethics. The NPR Ombudsman went further, arguing essentially that if listeners who complained about corruption weren't cynical, then they were ignorant.</p><p>Despite Davidson's long experience in <a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/adam-davidson/">sales and underwriting</a> for public radio, he <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2009/12/ally_bank.html">claimed he was out of the loop</a> when it came to the deal his own show, <em>Planet Money</em>, cut with its sole sponsor, Ally Bank: "I have nothing to do with the underwriting stuff. We don't pay any attention to the fact that they are a sponsor. We wouldn't for a second give them any special treatment — positive or negative."</p><p>And yet, the actual record proves that NPR readers were right to suspect and criticize the arrangement, and that Davidson was wrong in claiming that <em>Planet Money</em> has not consistently pushed a narrative so in synch with Ally Bank and the financial industry that it boggles the mind how he has gotten away with it. <em>Planet Money</em> coverage hasn't just been friendly to banks and the finance industry in general—some of it has been suspiciously lined up and in synch with specific policy priorities of its exclusive sponsor, Ally Bank.</p><p>One example: In 2009, just as <em>Planet Money</em> inked its exclusive sponsorship deal with Ally Bank, Davidson began broadcasting a number of segments critical of the proposed Financial Consumer Protection Agency Act of 2009, questioning the need  to regulate consumer financial products like mortgages and credit cards in order to protect people against bank fraud. "Will it work at all?" <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/5bd0fdcf-be8a-4feb-9059-6348a323af82/3c5aec4c6e133aa52a41de84b0c19b46">Davidson asked</a> in one of his fake "gee-whiz" questions. "Is this just one more layer of regulation in a regulatory system that fundamentally broke down?"</p><p>In May 2009, in the heat of the banking industry's massive pushback, Davidson essentially mugged Elizabeth Warren, the chief architect of the financial consumer protection bill, in an interview that took a sharp and bizarre hostile turn early on. Davidson surprised Warren and his own listeners with uncharacteristic personal smears, trying to portray her as a clueless, power-hungry ideologue. Davidson’s attack on Warren was so out-of-line and uncharacteristically hostile that it sparked a torrent of criticism from NPR listeners who couldn't understand why Davidson or NPR would do such a thing. Keep in mind, this was in the spring of 2009, when unemployment was still shooting through the roof, the future of the economy was in doubt, and talk of a 1930s style Great Depression-2 was still front-and-center.</p><p>It's worth going back and listening to the interview to get a sense of just how malevolent Davidson really was, and is. Here’s an excerpt, <a href="http://www.correntewire.com/nprs_adam_davidson_assaults_our_defender_elizabeth_warren">courtesy of Corrente</a>:</p><blockquote><p>ADAM DAVIDSON: What it feels to me is what you are missing is that -- I think we put aside your pet issues. We put them aside. We put them aside until this crisis is over.</p><p>ELIZABETH WARREN: The cr-- What you're saying makes no sense. Now come on. [interpolate Davidson sputtering and attempting to interrupt throughout.] It makes no sense. On an emergency basis, on one day, one week, one month, there's no doubt in my mind we've got to step in, we've got to make sure we have a functioning banking system. I think I've said that like nine times now. Of course we've got to have a functioning banking system.</p><p>DAVIDSON: Wait a minute. I want to make you go farther. I want to make you madder before I --</p><p>ELIZABETH WARREN: No no no. [Davidson snickers] We're now at what -- we're now seven, eight months into this. And it's the second part of what you said. We can't do anything about the American family until this crisis is over? This crisis will not be over until the American family begins to recover. [More Davidson sputtering.] This crisis does not exist independently --</p><p>DAVIDSON: That's your crisis.</p><p>ELIZABETH WARREN: No it is not my crisis! That is America's crisis! If people cannnot pay their credit card bills [Davidson tries to interrupt] if they cannot pay their mortgages --</p><p>DAVIDSON: But you are not in the mainstream of views on this issue. You are not --</p><p>ELIZABETH WARREN: What, if they can't pay their credit card bills the banks are gonna do fine? Who are you looking at?</p><p>DAVIDSON: The [sputters]--</p><p>ELIZABETH WARREN: Who says a bank a bank is going to survive -- Who is not worried about the fact that the Bank of America's default rate has now bumped over 10%? That's at least the latest data I saw. So the idea that we're going to somehow fix the banks and then next year or next decade we're going to start worrying about the American family just doesn't [Davidson talking over] make any sense.</p><p>DAVIDSON: The American families are not -- These issues of crucial, the essential need for credit intermediation are as close to accepted principles among every serious thinker on this topic. The view that the American family, that you hold very powerfully, is fully under assault and that there is -- and we can get into that -- that is not accepted broad wisdom. I talk to a lot a lot a lot of left, right, center, neutral economists [and] you are the only person I've talked to in a year of covering this crisis who has a view that we have two equally acute crises: a financial crisis and a household debt crisis that is equally acute in the same kind of way. I literally don't know who else I can talk to support that view. I literally don't know anyone other than you who has that view, and you are the person [snicker] who went to Congress to oversee it and you are presenting a very, very narrow view to the American people.</p></blockquote><p>The <em>Columbia Journalism Review</em> <a href="http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/so_thats_why_the_press_wont_co_1.php?page=all">described the <em>Planet Money</em> interview</a> as a "disaster" and  "really cringeworthy stuff from Davidson," who was so rude and unprofessional that NPR's Ombudsman was forced to <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2009/06/planet_money_meltdown.html">issue a public apology</a> for his behavior. Davidson's excuse: he had been traveling for a NPR fundraiser and was "very, very tired."</p><p>What Adam Davidson did not disclose to the public was that at the same time he was smearing Elizabeth Warren and attacking legislation that would protect consumers against the sort of bank fraud that has devastated millions of Americans, Ally Bank, the sole sponsor underwriting Davidson's <em>Planet Money</em> show and his salary, was simultaneously <a href="https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/5a90fc2f-25cf-4340-bcce-293bd69bc7b8/cf7f8a0417a48cb7c2e8d0ef9b6a91bc">spending hundreds of thousands</a> lobbying against the  Financial the Consumer Protection Agency Act of 2009.</p><p><a href="http://shameproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/GMAC-lobbying-consumer-protection-bill-2009-Form-1.png"></a></p><p><strong>Evidence: Here's just one of GMAC's lobbying disclosure forms mentioning the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009</strong></p><p>Ally Bank is not the only financial company funding Adam Davidson’s career, and filling up his bank accounts.</p><p>On top of Ally Bank's exclusive sponsorship of <em>Planet Money</em>, Davidson earns <a href="http://shameproject.com/profile/adam-davidson/">lucrative speaking fees from banks and financial companies</a>, including J.P. Morgan, Well Fargo, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs—the same companies he covers as a journalist. Davidson is frequently the only journalist/reporter booked to speak at these events; other speakers usually work in finance.</p><p>Davidson has yet to disclose his corporate clients and how much they pay him, but here is a partial list of Davidson's speaking gigs from the last two years compiled from various publicly available sources:</p><ul><li>In April 2011, Davidson was the headlining speaker at the 9th Annual "Women's World Banking" Microfinance and the Capital Markets Conference. The conference was hosted by J.P. Morgan, but the organization itself is funded by the world's biggest banks and corporations, including BP, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, Barclays Capital, VISA, ExxonMobil—just to name a few.</li><li>In 2011, Davidson spoke at another microfinance conference, this once was also funded by Morgan Stanley, Citi, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and CapitalOne.</li><li>In 2012, Davidson spoke at the 27th Annual Conference for the Treasury &amp; Finance Professional. Sponsors of the event included Bank of America, BlackRock, BNY Mellon, Bloomberg, Citibank, Findelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Well Fargo and about a dozen of the most powerful financial the largest financial companies in the world.</li></ul><p>These speaking fees are a huge unaddressed problem in news media and academia. As explained by Charles Ferguson, director of <em>Inside Job</em> and author of <em>Predator Nation</em>, the problem with speaking fees is that they are “sometimes used to launder or disguise payments . . . for lobbying and policy advocacy.” That is why, for example, Obama's former economy czar Larry Summers was <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/03/AR2009040303732.html">roundly criticized</a> for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees in 2008 from the <a href="http://www.alternet.org/story/140327/is_larry_summers_taking_kickbacks_from_the_banks_he's_bailing_out">same banks</a> he was bailing out in 2009.</p><p>Chicago Public Media, which co-owns "Planet Money" through its ownership of "This American Life", explicitly bars conflicts-of-interest: "WBEZ journalists must uphold the trust of the public by not overlapping individual interests with professional responsibilities. WBEZ journalists may not accept any form of compensation from the individuals, institutions or organizations they cover."</p><p>Neither NPR nor <em>This American Life</em> would comment on S.H.A.M.E.’s investigation into Adam Davidson’s conflicts of interest. We will be seeking get comment from Davidson's other employer, <em>The New York Times</em>, about their policy on journalists havig conflicts-of-interest.</p><p><strong>This profile is part of the S.H.A.M.E. Media Transparency Project. <a href="http://shameproject.com/about/" target="_blank">Learn more about it here.</a></strong></p> Thu, 09 Aug 2012 12:51:00 -0700 Yasha Levine, Mark Ames, eXiled Online 690204 at https://img.alternet.org Economy adam davidson npr wall street As Labor Struggles, Have the Big Rights and Liberties Groups Like the ACLU Deserted Unions? https://img.alternet.org/story/156006/as_labor_struggles%2C_have_the_big_rights_and_liberties_groups_like_the_aclu_deserted_unions <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">While labor is under powerful battering from conservatives, a strong case can be made that they aren&#039;t being supported by some of our most prominent human rights groups.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1313641636_ilwu.jpg?itok=uAuxxZuO" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> Progressive intellectuals have been acting very bipolar towards labor lately, characterized by wild mood swings ranging from the “We’re sorry we abandoned labor, how could we!” sentiment during last year’s Wisconsin uprising against Koch waterboy Scott Walker, to the recent “labor is dead/it’s all labor’s fault” snarling after the recall vote against Gov. Walker failed.</p> <p> It must be confusing and a bit daunting for those deep inside the labor movement, all these progressive mood swings. At the beginning of this month, New York Times’ columnist Joe Nocera wrote a column about having a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/opinion/nocera-turning-our-backs-on-unions.html?_r=2&amp;hp">“V-8 Moment”</a> over the abandonment of labor unions, an abandonment that was so thorough and so complete that establishment liberals like Nocera forgot they’d ever abandoned labor in the first place!</p> <p> The intellectual-left’s wild mood swings between unrequited love towards labor unions, and unrequited contempt, got me wondering how this abandonment of labor has manifested itself. While progressives and labor are arguing, sometimes viciously, over labor’s current sorry state, one thing progressives haven’t done is serious self-examination on how and where this abandonment of labor manifests itself, how it affects the very genetic makeup of liberal assumptions and major premises.</p> <p> So I did a simple check: I went to the websites of three of the biggest names in liberal activist politics: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the ACLU. Checking their websites, I was surprised to find that not one of those three organizations lists labor as a major topic or issue that it covers.</p> <p> Go to Amnesty International’s <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/">home page</a> at <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/">www.amnesty.org</a>. On the right side, under “Human Rights Information” you’ll see a pull-down menu: “by topic.” Does labor count as a “Human Rights topic” in Amnesty’s world? I counted 27 “topics” listed by Amnesty International, including “Abolish the death penalty”, “Indigenous Peoples”, “ “Children and Human Rights” and so on. Nowhere do they have “labor unions” despite the brutal, violent experience of labor unions both here and around the world. It’s not that Amnesty’s range isn’t broad: For example, among the 27 topics there are “Women’s rights”, “Stop Violence Against Women” and “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”. There’s even a topic for “Business and Human Rights”—but nothing for labor.</p> <p> Puzzled, I called Alex Edwards, Amnesty’s Media Relations guy in Washington DC, to ask him why labor unions didn’t rate important enough as a “topic” on Amnesty’s “list of topics.” Edwards was confused, claimed that he was totally unaware that there was a “list of topics” on Amnesty’s home page, and promised to get back to me. I haven’t heard back from him.</p> <p> Next, I checked Human Rights Watch. From my experience in Russia and Eastern Europe, I’ve learned to expect less from HRW than I would from Amnesty—my memory of HRW during the Kosovo conflict and in others is that, when called to, HRW acts as a propaganda arm for the liberal hawk war party. But HRW has also done a lot of important good work in areas not covered by the press, and they’re certainly better than most—so does Human Rights Watch consider labor unions an important human rights issue?</p> <p> Checking <a href="http://www.hrw.org/">Human Rights Watch’s homepage</a> (<a href="http://www.hrw.org/">www.hrw.org</a>), there’s a tab listing “topics”—14 topics in all. Once again, labor is not listed among Human Rights Watch’s covered “topics.” Instead, Human Rights Watch lists everything from “Children’s Rights” to “Disability Rights” to “LGBT Rights” and “Women’s Rights”—along with “Terrorism”, “Counterterrorism” and, I shit you not, “Business”—as vital human rights topics. But not labor. “Business”—but not “Labor.”</p> <p> On the advice of an old friend, Jan Frel, I read an excellent book on the human rights industry, James Peck’s “<em style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; ">Ideal Illusions</em>,” which helps answer why labor rights have been airbrushed out of the language of human rights. It wasn’t always this way: Economic rights and workplace rights were for decades at the very heart of the human rights movement. This was officially enshrined in 1948, when the United Nations adopted a 30-point “<a href="http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/">Universal Declaration of Human Rights”</a> putting labor rights and economic equality rights alongside those we’re more familiar with today, like freedom of expression, due process, religion and so on. But somehow, labor rights and economic justice have been effectively amputated from the human rights agenda and forgotten about, in tandem with the American left’s abandonment of labor.</p> <p> In Peck’s history, Human Rights Watch stands out as a force for rank neoliberalism, a major player in the extermination-by-omission of labor rights and economic equality rights from the language of human rights. How this happened sheds at least a bit more light on how the left abandoned labor.</p> <p> Aryeh Neier, founder of Human Rights Watch and its executive director for 12 years, doesn’t hide his contempt for the idea of economic equality as one of the key human rights. Neier is so opposed to the idea of economic equality that he even equates the very idea of economic equality and justice with oppression—economic rights to him are a violation of human rights, rather than essential human rights, thereby completely inverting traditional left thinking. Here’s what Neier wrote in his memoir, <em style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; ">Taking Liberties</em>: “The concept of economic and social rights is profoundly undemocratic… Authoritarian power is probably a prerequisite for giving meaning to economic and social rights.”</p> <p> Neier here is aping free-market libertarian mandarins like Friedrich von Hayek, or Hayek’s libertarian forefathers like William Graham Sumner, the robber baron mandarin and notorious laissez-faire Social Darwinist.  As with Neier, William Graham Sumner argued that liberty has an inverse relationship to economic equality; according to Sumner, the more economic equality, the less liberty; whereas the greater the inequality in a society, the more liberty its individuals enjoy. It’s the fundamental equation underlying all libertarian ideology and politics—a robber baron’s ideology at heart.</p> <p> Neier goes further, explicitly rejecting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because nine of its 30 articles focus on economic rights as human rights. Neier objects to that, singling out for censure “such economic issues as a right to work; to social security; and to an adequate standard of living.” The human rights article on “a right to work” that Neier dismisses as “authoritarian” is Article 23, and it reads:</p> <p> “Article 23 (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”</p> <p> It’s interesting that Neier rejects Article 23, the article on labor, which he mislabels as “a right to work”, because back in the 1970s, when Neier was executive director of the ACLU, he supported big business’s “Right To Work” anti-labor laws, against the rest of the left and the ACLU, which at the time still supported labor rights as civil rights. The so-called “Right To Work” laws are grossly misnamed—they’re really laws designed to bust unions by making it even more difficult for them to organize worker power against the overwhelming power of the corporation. It was corporate PR flaks hired to deceive and conceal the real purpose of those laws who came up with the false name “Right To Work” laws. Fred Koch, father of Charles and David Koch and one of the founders of the John Birch Society, got his start in rightwing politics as a leader of the “Right To Work” movement in Kansas in the mid-1950s.</p> <p> Less than twenty years after Fred Koch fought to destroy labor rights through “Right To Work” laws, the executive director of the ACLU, Aryeh Neier—the same Aryeh Neier who later led Human Rights Watch— colluded with William Buckley to push the ACLU rightward against labor by getting the ACLU to represent big business and “Right To Work” laws, under the guise of “protecting free speech”—the same bullshit pretense always used by lawyers and advocates to help big business crush labor and democracy. This “free speech” pretense is the basis on which the ACLU currently supports the Citizens United decision, which effectively legalized the transformation of America into an oligarchy.</p> <p> I found an article from 1971 written by William Buckley in which the <em style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; ">National</em><em style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; ">Review</em>founder praises Neier for working with him to turn the ACLU against labor: “I invited the ACLU to practice consistency by associating itself with a lawsuit which would prove unpopular among its labor union supporters,” Buckley wrote. “The executive director, Aryeh Neier, has replied, rather straightforwardly, I think. He says, ‘for many years, it has been the ACLU’s policy that the union shop does not, by itself, violate civil liberties. I have felt for some time that we should review this policy and I will use your request to initiate reconsideration,’ going on to say that it will take a while to canvass the directors.”</p> <p> A few years later, Buckley boasted of his first early success in turning the ACLU against labor, citing not just his ally Aryeh Neier, but also another well-known name in the so-called “left,” Nat Hentoff. Buckley wrote in 1973:</p> <p> “Meanwhile, Mr. Nat Hentoff, a left-winger of undiluted loyalty to the first amendment, has urged his very important constituency to side with me and with Evans [M. Stanton Evans, an early libertarian and longtime defender of Joseph McCarthy] and has attempted to persuade the American Civil Liberties Union to file a brief amicus curiae. He has almost singlehandedly persuaded the ACLU to change its historic opinion about union membership. The union shop, the ACLU now says belatedly, ought not to be required for people who are journalists.”</p> <p> The lawsuit Buckley refers to, Buckley and Evans vs. AFTRA, was backed by the <a href="http://www.nrtwc.org/william-f-buckley-stood-firm-against-forced-unionism-foe/">National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation</a>, the legal arm of the notorious union-busting outfit of the same name. And “leftist” Nat Hentoff. People used to think Hentoff was a leftist—and he seemed like one to de-politicized Baby Boomer imbeciles, who figured the <em style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; ">Village Voice</em>label on Hentoff’s columns meant whatever he said was leftist. Today, Hentoff is finally in his ideological home at the <a href="http://www.cato.org/people/nat-hentoff">Cato Institute</a>, the Koch brothers’ anti-labor, pro-oligarchy libertarian think-tank. Despite the Cato Institute’s tireless efforts to undermine democracy and labor, many progressives today consider Cato as “left” or “progressive”—a perversion only possible in today’s mutant left, stripped of its historical relationship to labor and economic justice.</p> <p> The ACLU under Aryeh Neier also allied with another Buckley in another key decision that hurt labor and democracy and helped the oligarchy: Buckley v Valeo in 1976. Neier was the ACLU head at the time that the ACLU sided with William Buckley’s brother, James Buckley, in a lawsuit to open up the money floodgates into American politics. Most people don’t know Neier’s role in moving the ACLU against labor and against egalitarianism—instead, he did a lot of cheap grandstanding on behalf of Nazi marchers in Skokie. That’s the sort of pseudo-politics and pseudo-bravery that, stripped of economic politics and labor politics, results in the pseudo-left of today, a left absorbed by “identity politics” at the expense of labor, egalitarianism and socio-economic justice.</p> <p> And that brings me to the ACLU today—the most depressing part of this story. I had an inkling that the ACLU had abandoned labor before my simple exercise check of their website. Mike Elk has shared with me some of his research into this subject. And it’s well known that the ACLU vigorously supported the disastrous Citizens United decision; the <a href="http://reason.com/blog/2011/02/25/the-koch-brothers-right-wing-c">ACLU also took $20 million dollars from the Koch brothers</a>, whose libertarian outfits have played a major role in making Citizens United a reality. Supposedly that money was meant to “fight the Patriot Act”—which is odd, considering that the director of the Koch brothers’ Center for Constitutional Studies at Cato and Vice President for Legal Affairs at Cato, Roger Pilon, explicitly <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/167500/independent-and-principled-behind-cato-myth">supported the Patriot Act from 2002 through 2008</a>, and that the Kochs’ Cato Institute <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/167500/independent-and-principled-behind-cato-myth">hired John Yoo</a> to serve on their editorial advisory board for the Cato Supreme Court Review. One should be <a href="http://news.firedoglake.com/2011/05/10/koch-u-florida-state-university-hands-over-economics-department-to-billionaire-libertarians/">skeptical</a> when it comes to <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/billionaires-role-in-hiring-decisions-at-florida-state-university-raises/1168680">Koch “donations”</a> sold to the public as charity work in the service of human rights.</p> <p> Maybe there’s no connection there whatsoever between the Kochs’ $20 million gift to the ACLU, and the ACLU’s advocacy for the Kochs’ pet political issue, Citizens United, which transferred greater power from democracy and into the hands of billionaire oligarchs like the Kochs. Maybe it’s all a coincidence, I don’t know. But we do know that there is precedent for the ACLU taking money from corporations, advocating their cause under the guise of “protecting free speech” and hiding the conflict of interest from the public in order to make their defense seem more convincing.</p> <p> In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the ACLU vigorously defended the interests of the tobacco lobby under the guise of protecting their “first amendment rights”—and they did it <a href="http://www.accuracy.org/release/102-full-disclosure-urged-for-aclus-ties-with-tobacco-firms/">for payments in-kind</a>. <a href="http://www.tobaccofreedom.org/issues/documents/aclu/">Leaked tobacco documents</a> in the 1990s exposed the ACLU working out explicit deals with the tobacco industry to take their money in exchange for advocating their interests in public, without disclosing that gross conflict of interest and violation of the public trust. The documents and memos revealed that the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to the ACLU by the tobacco companies were payments in kind to for the ACLU’s defense of Big Tobacco, a relationship that both parties tried to hide in order to confuse the public into believing that the ACLU’s arguments for tobacco were motivated by purely altruistic constitutional arguments, rather than sleazy under-the-table cash payments. The ACLU is, after all, a trusted institution among progressives—that made them the ideal “Third Party Advocate” in PR terms for the tobacco industry’s interests.</p> <p> One of the best accounts of the ACLU’s sleazy relationship with big tobacco comes from former <em style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; ">Washington Post</em> investigative reporter Morton Mintz, in his piece, <a href="http://reclaimdemocracy.org/personhood/aclu_tobacco_mintz.pdf">“The ACLU and the Tobacco Companies,”</a> published in Harvard University’s <em style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; ">Nieman Reports</em>. Mintz reported how the ACLU laundered the tobacco lobby’s money as supposedly charity money to fight for workplace rights. This abuse of public trust so outraged former ACLU legal director, Melvin Wulf, that he publicly denounced the ACLU’s rationalization as a <a href="http://reclaimdemocracy.org/personhood/aclu_tobacco_mintz.pdf">“sham”</a> — the ACLU worked with tobacco to fight against second-hand smoke laws, the very opposite of “workplace rights”:</p> <p> “The justification that the money is used to support workplace rights is a sham. There is no constitutional right to pollute the atmosphere and threaten the health of others. The revelations…support the conclusion that the ACLU’s mission is being corrupted by the attraction of easy money from an industry whose ethical values are themselves notoriously corrupt and which is responsible for the death annually of 350,000 to 400,000 persons in the U.S. alone.”</p> <p> So it should come as no surprise that on the ACLU’s website, on the page marked <a href="http://www.aclu.org/key-issues">“Key Issues”</a>— labor does not appear. Not among the 14 categories of ACLU “Key Issues” — which include “HIV/AIDS”, “LGBT Rights”, “Technology and Liberty” and “Women’s Rights”. Not even among the 90 sub-categories of “Key Issues” is there a single mention of “labor rights.”</p> <p> Everything under the civil liberties sun but labor rights and economic/social equality are named as ACLU “key issues.” Among the 90 sub-categories: “Marijuana Law Reform”, “Flag Desecration”, “LGBT Parenting”, “Medical Care in Prison” and “Mental Care In Prison” [separate sub-categories], “Biological Technologies”, “Internet Privacy”, and “Sex Education.” All of these certainly qualify as key issues to progressives; but the list of categories, 114 in all, without a single mention of labor unions, let alone economic equality or even the very word “equality”—provides a grim and shameful picture of a left stripped of labor, stripped of economic egalitarianism. It is not a left at all: It is, alas, libertarianism. The left was born of labor struggles and the fight against oligarchy and for egalitarianism, economic justice and equality. Now there isn’t even a memory of that.</p> <p> Stunned by the fact that the ACLU didn’t even include “labor” or “equality” among the 114 “key topics” listed, I called and then wrote to the ACLU asking for comment.</p> <p> &gt; Here is the response I received from Molly Kaplan, the media relations liaison at the American Civil Liberties Union:</p> <p>  </p> <blockquote style="margin: 0px 0px 18px 20px; padding: 1px 12px; border-left-width: 3px; border-left-style: solid; border-left-color: rgb(222, 141, 141); background-color: rgb(242, 242, 242); height: 183px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', Times, serif; font-size: 15px; text-align: justify; "> <p style="margin: 0px; padding: 8px 0px; font-family: Georgia, Tahoma; font-size: 15px; "> Hi Mark,</p> <p style="margin: 0px; padding: 8px 0px; font-family: Georgia, Tahoma; font-size: 15px; "> Labor rights are certainly a key issue for the ACLU; it is folded into our work for free speech, immigrants’ rights and women’s rights. If you look into the <a href="http://www.aclu.org/key-issues">pages</a> for those issues, you will find that labor rights have a presence. Let us know if we can be of any further assistance.</p> <p style="margin: 0px; padding: 8px 0px; font-family: Georgia, Tahoma; font-size: 15px; "> Cheers,</p> <p style="margin: 0px; padding: 8px 0px; font-family: Georgia, Tahoma; font-size: 15px; "> Molly</p></blockquote> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; font-family: Georgia, Tahoma; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); text-align: justify; ">  </p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; font-family: Georgia, Tahoma; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); text-align: justify; "> Well, at least someone has labor rights.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div> Mon, 25 Jun 2012 04:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, The Daily Banter 671399 at https://img.alternet.org Labor Labor labor progressives left aclu libertarian What Happens If We Wake Up With a Mormon in the White House? What Joseph Smith's Run for President Suggests About Mitt Romney https://img.alternet.org/story/155990/what_happens_if_we_wake_up_with_a_mormon_in_the_white_house_what_joseph_smith%27s_run_for_president_suggests_about_mitt_romney <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The truth about the man with 33 wives -- and what that tells us about Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1340388840_screenshot20120622at2.12.45pm.png?itok=ip1BuzQf" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> <em>The following article first appeared in <a href="http://punch.is/" target="_blank">Punch!</a>, the pop culture iPad app, <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/punch%21-culture-shelf/id516068498?ls=1&amp;mt=8" target="_blank">avai<wbr></wbr>lable free for download here</a>.</em></p> <blockquote> <p> "I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world."</p></blockquote> <p style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Times; font-size: medium; margin: 0pt 0pt 10pt 252pt; text-indent: 36pt; "> <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">--Joseph Smith, Jr.</span></p> <p> CHAPTER ONE: 'I Suck, Please Slay Me'</p> <p> When Punch first assigned me this story -- a review of <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span>, a DVD docudrama about Mormon founder Joseph Smith and his disastrous run for president in 1844 -- I assured my editor he’d have a comic gem with timely political relevance delivered to his inbox before he could say “TK.”</p> <p> I was so sure this would be one of the easiest stories I had ever knocked out that I even sent him an ironic pre-victory email labeling the assignment a “slam dunk,” my way of daring the Gods of Writer’s Block.</p> <p> That was two months ago.</p> <p> Now it’s two days past the final-final deadline. Here I sit, staring at a blank Microsoft Word document titled <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">MORMON BRAINFUCK HATE HATE I SUCK PLEASE SLAY ME DRAFT-8.82c3a.docx</span>. The last communication I had with Punch was when I emailed a quote from Joseph Smith: “You don’t know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history.” It’s the epigraph that opens <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President </span>-- but taken out of context all it did was scare my editor: “Why are you sending me Charlie Manson quotes, Ames? Are you threatening me?”</p> <p> I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was quoting Mitt Romney’s own personal Yoda or that the thought of an upgraded version of Joseph Smith taking control of the White House should scare the shit out of secular humanists and liberal elites, who, so far, have dismissed Romney’s foundational ideology, treating it with parody or scorn, if at all.</p> <p> Now that it's well past deadline -- the “post-apocalypse” in journalism terms --and I find myself in a peaceful, death-like state, I am capable of telling the tragic story about how a straight-to-DVD historical docudrama (full title: <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President: Joseph Smith and the Mormon Quest for the White House</span>) ruined the life of a promising forty-something writer named Mark Ames in the prime of his middle-youth.</p> <p> But this review is about more than Mark Ames. This is about all of us. Because long after the snickering about Mormonism dies down, we are likely to wake up one November morning with a real-life "A Mormon President" of our own. And if the Mormons themselves are to be believed, it means we’re about five months away from the End Days.</p> <p> According to a controversial Joseph Smith prophecy, when America degenerates to the point where “the Constitution hangs by a thread” -- and most TV pundits agree we’re there already -- at this time, a Mormon will be elected President of the United States, triggering a whole series of disaster-film plot twists: the end of the world as we know it; the overthrow of “gentile” rule; and the long-promised Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Only, instead of teleporting Himself somewhere interesting like Jerusalem, say the Mormons, Jesus will stage his comeback in Independence, Missouri.</p> <p> Let me put it another way. Mitt Romney was raised to believe that if Mitt Romney is elected president, Mitt Romney will rule the world (or whatever is left of it) as the Mormon gods’ Viceroy, while Jesus Christ stumbles through tornado country, making crop circles in a corn field, or whatever it is you do there.</p> <p> If you don’t believe me, it’s because you don’t know the operating software system Romney runs on. A slow and stupid operating system, sure, but it may soon be hooked up to about 5,000 nuclear warheads and a global empire, so ignoring it won’t save you.</p> <p> It sounds too crazy to be true, I know -- but by now we liberal elites should know not to trust our instincts. Look at what happened in the case of Barack Obama: rather than taking at face value his stated ideas about financial reform (Obama made Larry Summers, architect of the financial deregulation disaster, his economics brain-bug), about health care (he ran on the least progressive and most pro-industry health care plan of the three major Democratic candidates), and about the American empire (which were neocon-friendly), liberal media elites projected onto him everything they wanted him to be: an idealized secular humanist version of Obama. By dismissing the “obvious” surface of our presidential politics, the media set us up for the biggest political Obummer of the century.</p> <p> That’s where this movie comes in. <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span> tells the story of some stupid and confused hillbillies and the boner-wielding con man who leads them to ruin. In other words, it’s about us. In January 2013.</p> <p> Forget about being clever, folks: To paraphrase a line from <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Starship Troopers</span>, “To fight stupid, we must become stupid.”</p> <p> CHAPTER TWO: Mugged by Moroni</p> <p> If it’s not clear by now, the problem with reviewing <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span> is this: The movie was supposed to be unintentionally funny, softball material, a 21<span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 8pt; vertical-align: super; ">st</span> century version of those old “Crown” history films they used to show in my public school civics class. It was supposed to serve one purpose: To make me look like I have talent. It would play the Washington Generals to my Harlem Globetrotters.</p> <p> But I done figured wrong. As the story of Joseph Smith’s 1844 run for president unfolded into something weirder and scarier than I had bargained for, I started to realize it didn’t matter if the movie was unintentionally funny or not. Like it or not, my smug lack of curiosity about Mitt Romney’s religious identity was crumbling before a straight-to-DVD production. I found myself, as it were, Mugged by Moroni.</p> <p> Now that I know a little more about Mitt Romney 1.0 --  that is, Joseph Smith, Jr., who was not only the first Mormon, but the first Mormon to run for president -- I’m not finding much to laugh at anymore.</p> <p> Let me cut to the quick here and make things clear, in case I’m starting to sound like the Mel Gibson character in <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Conspiracy Theory</span>.</p> <p> First of all, although Joseph Smith's candidacy was equal parts tragedy and farce (in a <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Tommy Boy</span> sort of way), he did offer a template for a future Mormon president with the example he set as ruler over the township of Nauvoo, Illinois, a unique post granted him via special city charter by the Illinois governor after the Mormons' cruel expulsion from Missouri in 1838.</p> <p> Within a couple of years after settling in Nauvoo -- a city whose population quickly grew to parity with Chicago’s -- Smith transformed his fiefdom into a sort of Mormon Bantustan. He was Mayor, and Chief Justice, and got away with calling himself "King, Priest, and Ruler over Israel on Earth." Creepiest of all, he led the Nauvoo Legion, a unit roughly one-third the size of the total United States military. Not one for half measures, Smith gave himself the rank of “Lt. General,” the highest rank held by an American military officer since George Washington.</p> <p> In 1841, Lt. Gen. Joseph Smith displayed his might by leading a huge military parade. One historian interviewed for <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span> compares the procession to “a May Day parade in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And this terrified a number of people, who, at that point, really switched gears and said, ‘These people are dangerous and we need to protect ourselves.'"</p> <p> The grand martial display marked how far the Mormons had come in a short time. Three years earlier, Smith and his followers had felt the full force of an official order signed by Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs, which went like this: "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated, or driven from the state, if necessary, for the public peace. Their outrages are beyond all description."</p> <p> Before watching <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span>, I knew something about how the Missourians had massacred the Mormons prior to running them out of that godforsaken state. What I didn’t know was that a Mormon was the one who had apparently started all the extermination talk. The movie shows a perennial second banana, Sidney Rigdon -- who is played by a Billy Crystal look-alike in an Abe Lincoln beard -- making a speech in which he threatens Missouri's "gentiles" with "a war of extermination."</p> <p> Here’s the thing about extermination threats: When you’re the weird little minority in a sea of armed, whiskey-guzzling Christians, it is generally a bad strategy to speak publicly of your intention to wipe out everybody else.</p> <p> The Missourians were slow to react. There’s something about suicidal cultists that makes the sure-to-win side hesitate. (<span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Are they hiding something we don’t know about? There’s got to be some angle we’re not catching!</span>) Gov. Boggs grew weary of waiting and signed the order. The locals went to work massacring the men, the womenfolk, and the children, before finally driving other Mormons out of the state. Smith, Rigdon, and others landed in a Missouri jail… from which they eventually made their escape.</p> <p> Safe at last in Nauvoo, Illinois, Smith made a riverside prophecy that the Missouri governor would "die by violent hands within one year." Which brings us to the thug who served as head of Smith’s security detail: Orrin Porter Rockwell. In the film, he resembles a 19<span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 8pt; vertical-align: super; ">th</span> century Hells Angel biker, if a little meaner and crazier. Soon after the boss's prophecy, Rockwell slipped back over to Missouri and… next thing you know… someone is blasting Gov. Boggs with four shots -- two balls of buckshot in the neck, two in the head -- leaving him all but dead.</p> <p> A couple of years later, Smith's thoughts turned national. He established an inner circle called “the Council of 50," which was “like an Ollie North thing,” as one historian describes it in <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span>. This group ran Smith’s campaign and planned his takeover of power, with the idea of helping him run things from inside the White House.</p> <p> In his final display of power -- the one that led to his downfall -- Smith declared martial law in his principality and used his mighty Nauvoo Legion to destroy the <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Nauvoo Expositor</span>'s printing press in reaction to the newspaper's having dared criticize his polygamy and power-lust. This led to his being thrown into the pokey once again… where he soon found himself shot and bayoneted by an armed mob. Before meeting his grisly demise, he offered up the White Horse Prophecy, a revelation that he (or some worthy Mormon in years to come) was pre-ordained to become president at a time when the “Constitution is hanging by a thread as fine as a silk fiber.”</p> <p> The prophecy is not accepted as church doctrine but remains part of Mormon lore. Adam Christing, the director of <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span>, explained it to me this way: “It’s just like in our time. The prophecy says, ‘The government is in disarray. The Constitution is going to be hanging by a thread, and the gentiles are going to screw it up so bad that it’s going to take God’s people to save the day.’ I do think there’s been a tiny underground hope in Mormon Land, if you will, that Romney could be the fulfillment of that White Horse Prophecy. Like a knight-in-shining-armor thing."</p> <p> Romney, a seventh-generation Mormon who has served as a Latter-day Saint bishop, has distanced himself from the founder's theocratic talk, just as he has repudiated plural marriage. "That's not official church doctrine," he said of the White Horse Prophecy in a 2011 <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Salt Lake Tribune</span> interview. "There are a lot of things that are speculation and discussion by church members and even church leaders that aren't official church doctrine. I don't put that at the heart of my religious belief."</p> <p> But Christing told me he believes Romney has taken a secret oath pledging his loyalty first and foremost to his church: "There are, still today, very secret ceremonies in the Mormon temple, which Romney has participated in -- virtually all of those, including something called the Oath of Consecration, where he consecrates his money, his time, his talents. His whole life, really.”</p> <p> Here is the Oath of Consecration: “You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar, that you do accept the law of consecration as contained in this, <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">The Book of Doctrine and Covenants</span>, in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion."</p> <p> "There was a time when sharing this info was dangerous," Christing said in an email. "Now, it's probably on Google. To me, the interesting thing is that the oath of consecration is specifically directed to the Mormon church (not God)."</p> <p> CHAPTER THREE: Joseph Smith's Game</p> <p> And then there is the matter of polygamy. By the time he was murdered, Joseph Smith had amassed 33 wives, eleven of whom were married and still living with their husbands. They ranged in age from 14 to roughly 60, according to an expert interviewed in the film.</p> <p> Christing, who belongs to the second largest Mormon branch, the Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints, treats Smith’s polygamy not just as a historical quirk but as an element of the behaviors we might associate with a sociopathic cult leader: “When Joseph reads to his wife Emma the ‘revelation’ from God instructing Joseph to marry as many wives as he can, he reads her a ‘letter’ from God telling his wife that if she doesn’t accept it, she’ll be damned. So if you believe that Smith was the prophet -- basically he’s saying to his wife, ‘If you don’t believe this, you’re going to hell.’”</p> <p> Emma wasn't the only one thus coerced. Christing adds: “Imagine if you’re an 18-year-old woman. You’ve maybe left your family, or come with one family member from England, and you’ve arrived on a boat at New Orleans, and you come up the Mississippi River, and you get off the boat in Nauvoo, and there’s Brigham Young and Joseph Smith. And Joseph says, ‘God gave me a revelation to take plural wives, and if I don’t, an angel of God will kill me. An angel appeared to me with a drawn sword, and he’ll kill me.’ That’s a little bit of pressure to get from the ‘prophet,’ you know?”</p> <p> The journey from England to Illinois was the one taken by Mitt Romney’s great-great-great grandfather, Miles Romney, along with his wife, Elizabeth, from the miserable factory town of Preston, England, to Illinois. Miles, an architect, was tasked with assisting the construction of the Nauvoo Temple.</p> <p> One of the interviewees in <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span> is a gorgeous Mormon with a pre-Raphaelite face draped with perfectly silk dark hair. Her name is Kara Lyn Roundy. When she speaks of Joseph Smith, she lights up: “All I know is that there’s one prophet at the head of the church who has been given the keys to the holy priesthood. And he has been ordained by God…. It is so key for people to understand: There is only one Church on the face of the planet that has all the keys of the priesthood, and that is in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” When this MMILF gushes over Joseph Smith, you want to agree with her. You might even want to know what his secret was. The more one learns about his shameless pick-up techniques, the more one realizes there’s a Mormon version of <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">The Game</span> just waiting to be revealed to shy nerds everywhere.</p> <p> On the topic of Mitt Romney, she says: “I think Mitt Romney is brilliant. He is a briiiiiiilliant businessman. I mean, he turns businesses around. He’s the first guy who took charge of the Olympics, profited $70 million."</p> <p> CUT TO: <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Still image of a smiling Romney holding the Olympic flame.</span></p> <p> CUT TO: <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Still image of Romney clutching gold medals as the camera zooms in, Ken Burns-style, on his smile.</span></p> <p> "I mean, who’s ever done that?" Roundy says. "That’s the kind of guy I want running my country.”</p> <p> <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span> has other funny moments. Over a PBS-ready piano soundtrack, experts on Mormonism try to persuade the viewer that, despite his status as prophet, Joseph Smith had a "regular Joe" side. “He was the kind of guy who would get down on the floor and wrestle with kids," one historian says.</p> <p> CUT TO: <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Handsome Actor Guy With Suspiciously Romney-Like Facial Structure, in 1830s frontiersman costume, rolling through a meadow with kids.</span></p> <p> Whoa, Amber Alert! Try that one again, fellas.</p> <p> A Utah-dad type tells the camera: “Joseph Smith wouldn’t be someone I’d want to live next door to me.”</p> <p> Wait a minute -- can you say that in a Mormon movie?</p> <p> Another interviewee, credibly silver-haired, says: “He was all of the things that a classic Old Testament prophet said they were -- and Joseph is saying, ‘I am the same kind of prophet.’ And if it’s true, it’s scary. And if it’s false, Joseph Smith is a charlatan.”</p> <p> So this movie isn't really the Mormon Schlock I had expected -- or had hoped -- it would be. But all this is mere backdrop to its main focus: Smith’s run for the presidency, a subject that the voice-over correctly points out “has never been told before." It is a story I knew nothing about, and cared even less about, until <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span> forced me to.</p> <p> CHAPTER FOUR: The Outlaw and the Insider</p> <p> Smith's presidential campaign is not only relevant to our looming tragicomedy of 2013, but also the perfect E-Z to swallow entrée into the bizarre and unnerving nexus between Mormonism and presidential politics -- an area many liberals would prefer to avoid, as if merely bringing up future-President Romney’s Mormonism reveals a lack of faith in the American system, or maybe even a cryptic intolerance.</p> <p> In early 1844 Smith announced he was running as the “outsider” candidate of his day. “Tell the people we have had Whig and Democrats Presidents long enough,” he declared. “We care not a fig for Whig or Democrat; they are both alike to us.”</p> <p> Sounds familiar, don’t it? In fact, it’s so familiar it’s kind of humiliating. These days, our version of the “he-gets-it” political analyst is one who takes pride in “seeing through the discredited left-right, Republocrat bullshit” -- which makes such a pundit nothing more than warmed-over Mormon Prophet meat.</p> <p> At least Smith had a few snappy lines when he went after the hacks of his time. He surveyed the field of candidates in 1844 -- twiddle-dee-dee Whigs like Henry Clay and incumbent President John Tyler; twiddle-dee-dum Democrats like ex-President Martin van Buren, John C. Calhoun, and dark-horse James K. Polk -- and he scowled: “I mourn for the depravity of the world; I despise the imbecility of American statesmen; I detest shrinkage of candidates for office, from pledges and responsibility."</p> <p> The white male American electorate in those days was roughly evenly divided between Whig voters and Democrat voters. Smith planned to leverage that electoral split to his advantage. The parties seemed incapable of addressing the Big Issues of slavery and territorial expansion (<span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">i.e</span>., admitting Texas into the Union). It was understood that taking a stand on slavery could lead to civil war; and taking a stand on expansion could lead to war with Mexico, war with Britain, civil war, or some combination thereof.</p> <p> The establishment parties' tiptoeing around the major questions of the day created an opportunity for a maverick like Smith, who pledged to rid the nation of slavery through "voluntary" abolition by Southern slave states (which may bring to mind Romney's plan to solve illegal immigration by flicking on the super-secret voluntary self-deporting gene in Mexicans). Smith also advocated the re-establishment of the national bank (which may recall Romney's role as the biggest booster of the Federal Reserve among the Republican candidates). Smith, further, wasn't shy about saying he favored the annexation of Texas and the Oregon territories, as well as Canada and Mexico (not to mention all the wives inhabiting those far-flung places… which makes one consider Romney's grim and aggressive monogamy, which seems bound to explode in ways that could make us all rue the day Abraham Lincoln signed into law anti-polygamy legislation…).</p> <p> Crawling further out onto a political limb, Smith demanded radical penal reform, calling for the release of all inmates but murderers and the abolition of debtors' prisons (and this is a bug in the Operating System that may be ignored, except that it highlights the difference between Smith, an outlaw, and Romney, an insider).</p> <p> So far, I’m making Joseph Smith’s politics out to be more respectable than they really were. The story of his run for president really gets its start with his founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Weird events accelerate at a parabolic rate, right up to his murder-by-cuckold-mob in June 1844.</p> <p> Joseph Smith started peddling his very own Anti-Depressant for scared and lonely frontier settlers in 1830. It really was “new &amp; improved” -- a re-branded version of Judeo-Christianity made especially for the Second Great Awakening, a time of competing religious products that offered hysterical reinterpretations of the same damn book about the same actions taking place in the same place on the other side of the globe. According to a Smith “revelation,” America itself was the new Promised Land. He got his followers to prepare a landing pad for Jesus in what would be the hometown of Harry S. Truman, the only human being ever to drop the atom bomb.</p> <p> Coincidence? It better well fucking be, or we are gentile toast, folks.</p> <p> Things get scary in <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span> when an “ex-Mormon pastor” named Shawn McCraney says: “I absolutely believe that the [Mormon] church today is the living embodiment of everything Joseph Smith represented. He was the seed; they are the fruit.” Meaning: Mitt Romney is The Fruit. I know it doesn’t sound right, saying that -- especially considering that Mormons were the big reason why Prop 8 passed in California -- but there it is.</p> <p> Then the director of the Mormonism Research Ministry, standing before the monstrous LDS temple in Salt Lake City, tells the viewer: “The Mormon Church’s basic premise is that all of the churches are wrong, that their creeds are an abomination, and that their professors are corrupt, and that really there are no true churches on the face of the earth, except for the LDS church.”</p> <p> Holy shit! No wonder Mormons are the nicest people in America: <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">They hate our fucking guts!</span></p> <p> CHAPTER FIVE: The Director's Tale</p> <p> The Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints was made possible by the aforementioned second banana Sidney Rigdon. After Smith was killed-by-mob, Rigdon, no longer able to stomach polygamy, broke away from Smith's successor, the many-wived Brigham Young, and founded the second largest Mormon church (out of some 400 branches), the one Adam Christing grew up in.</p> <p> Christing wears many hats: Filmmaker, entrepreneur, magician, amateur historian, philosopher, corporate events speaking pro, and… standup comic.</p> <p> One doesn’t usually associate Mormons with funny, but that just shows how little we “gentiles” know. “I do think I’m very funny, in terms of my standup show,” Christing told me. “But I gravitate more toward philosophy. I also own the domain -- believe it or not -- <a href="http://themeaningoflife.com/" target="_blank">themeaningoflife.com</a>. I actually lost well over $50,000 trying to develop that site, so right now it’s in limbo.” When it comes to his stage act, Christing is the Shecky Greene of Reorganized Mormons. A sampling of his material:</p> <p> “I was just in Los Angeles, and I was speaking at this animal rights barbecue, and...”</p> <p> “I'd like to go to assertiveness training class. First I need to check with my wife.”</p> <p> He has the comic pause down perfectly. He is able to light a given joke's delayed-action fuse and wait for the laughter to ripple through the crowd. His demo reel is a thing of beauty. It looks like it was lifted directly from an old SCTV episode, with Christing as a Latter-day Bobby Bittman.</p> <p> In 1990, he founded Clean Comedians, to promote a brand of standup comedy perfect for corporate events, in that it has zero profanity. The organization also offers its clients a money-back guarantee: “If it isn’t funny, we’ll refund your money.” One fan was President George W. Bush, who was so blown away by Clean Comedians Bush impersonators, Steve Bridges, that he teamed up with him at a White House Correspondents’ Dinner.</p> <p> In 2005, Christing sold Clean Comedians and soon started plowing roughly $350,000 into <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span>, which he did not complete until 2011 (and is still tinkering with today, in preparation for further screenings). “I’ve been obsessed with the story of Joseph Smith since I was young,” he said. “I’ve got a huge library of everything related to Joseph Smith. And the more I read, the more complex he became to me. Is this guy a fraud? Does he really think he’s a prophet?”</p> <p> He took no money from any particular group: “I didn’t want to make a puff piece. The Mormon Church, in my opinion -- if you go to the Temple, and you watch one of the films in the Visitor Center, they’re not going to show you his polygamy, they’re not going to show you his politics or what he did to the <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Nauvoo Expositor</span>. And those were very huge factors in his life. So you won’t know, ‘Why did anyone want to kill this guy?’ On the other hand, if you watch certain Evangelical Christian films, they make him seem like a monster, like the film <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">The God Makers</span>. I feel like that’s way over the top. This guy was a wonderful human being in many ways: very charismatic, loved children, very generous. But he also had these other aspects to his personality -- the secrecy stuff, and an enormous ego... I just wanted to tell the most accurate account of his life that I could, from multiple perspectives. And that’s why I didn’t take money from anybody.... The Mormon Church didn’t finance it, no Evangelical ministry financed it. Just individuals who wanted to make an accurate film. And I think we succeeded.”</p> <p> CHAPTER SIX: Romney's Twisted Roots</p> <p> Some Mormons hold that Smith was “assassinated” in a “conspiracy.” The theory first made the rounds in <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">The Carthage Conspiracy</span>, a book published in 1975, at the height of Watergate and Church Committee hearings, a time when such theories were briefly recognized as political realities. Getting murdered in a conspiracy involving powerful Whig Party bosses is a more romantic way for a prophet to go than being gunned down by drunken cuckolds in blackface as you try to squeeze your way out a second-story window.</p> <p> The lack of grassy knoll or programmed patsy seems not to matter to Christing and others who believe. “Absolutely, absolutely,” the filmmaker said, when I asked him if Smith was the victim of a conspiracy. “With the J.F.K. thing, the speculation gets pretty wild. I think it’s a little simpler with Joseph Smith.”</p> <p> Almost everyone within a 100 mile radius of Smith wanted this frontier Charlie Manson dead. Not because he wanted to bring about world peace (as J.F.K. conspiracy theorists like Oliver Stone allege), but rather because he seduced their wives and fucked their sense of normalcy. An assassination-by-conspiracy, however, renders the death more significant and less mundane.</p> <p> While Mormon historical revisionism attempts to turn Smith’s embarrassing Last Act into the stuff of historical tragedy, two generations of Romneys have been revising and refining his run for the presidency, undoing Smith’s “mistakes.” Before the rise of the current presumptive Republican nominee, the closest LDS member to finish what the first Mormon had started was probably Mitt’s dad, Gov. George W. Romney, who ran as the moderate Rockefeller Republican candidate, to the left of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, in 1968.</p> <p> Back then, the surface reality in America had become so weird and violent that nothing in Mormonism really shocked anyone. If it turned out that George W. Romney wore “Mormon underwear” (the subject of quips made by satirists-in-chief Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert), it might even have won him a few votes. Another difference: In '68, the Republicans had yet to mold and fired up the Christian Right bloc. The Evangelicals, after all, are the ones most put off by Mormonism. They take its polytheism to heart, although they’ve learned to keep quiet about it, except in online forums like Free Republic.</p> <p> The Romneys are to Mormons as Mayflower families are to America as a whole: After his great-great grandfather helped erect the Nauvoo Temple, where Smith held his military parade in 1841, Mitt's great-grandfather was born among this original LDS band. After Smith’s murder, the church split. Most followed Smith's pro-polygamy-wingman, Brigham Young, to the Utah Territory; a small number stayed with Smith’s widow, Emma Smith, and founded the breakaway Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints, the anti-polygamy branch that Christing was later born into.</p> <p> The Romneys went with the polygamists. And they stayed with the polygamists. In fact, you couldn’t pry polygamy from the Romney clan with a crowbar if you tried. Abraham Lincoln, father of the Republican Party, certainly did his best, when he signed the 1862 Anti-Bigamy Act, which outlawed plural marriage in U.S. territories. But that didn’t stop Miles P. Romney, Mitt’s great-grandfather, from racking up five wives.</p> <p> Another notable Republican, Sen. George Edmunds, made life even harder for frontier swingers with the Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882, which pushed Mitt's great-granddad deep into the hinterlands, wives in tow. By the time the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints itself renounced polygamy in 1890, Miles P. Romney and his brood hightailed it to Mexico, feds on their tail, crossing the Rio Grande as voluntarily as an illegal Mexican immigrant might under President Romney in years to come.</p> <p> Folks didn't take kindly to Mitt's great-grandpa, as this editorial in the <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">Apache Chief</span> more than suggests: “Hang a few of their polygamist leaders such as... Romney,” the newspaper wrote. The piece went on to single out Miles P. Romney as “a mass of putrid pus and rotten goose pimples; a skunk, with the face of a baboon, the character of a louse, the breath of a buzzard, and the record of a perjurer and common drunkard.”</p> <p> And that’s the final edited version! Imagine the early drafts!</p> <p> Miles and his wives settled in Mexico. The Romney clan remained there long enough for Mitt’s own father, George W. Romney, to be born in Chihuahua, meaning Mitt’s dad grew up with one grandpa and a whole bunch of grandmas. He went on to serve as the 43rd governor of Michigan. Because of his provenance, "birther” talk abounded during his run for president.</p> <p> If you look at the refinement of Mormon presidential candidates… from Joseph Smith, through George W. Romney, up to Mitt today… you can almost watch time-motion political calibration evolve to match the Zeitgeist of America. Smith, the consummate outsider candidate in 1844, drew too much attention to the Mormon stuff and ended up the victim of lynch-mob murder. George W. Romney started out as the centrist candidate in the year 1968, only to make the mistake of saying in a television interview that he had been “brainwashed” into supporting the Vietnam war by American diplomats and military officials. That off-the-cuff quote sank his chances.</p> <p> By now, the Mormon President Project has been perfected. Mitt stands as an empty reflection of an American Winner. He's the corporate jock with the gray temples, the chiseled features, and the starched dickishness most people expect from their bosses. This is a country that made a hit reality show out of an asshole firing people -- and that is the electorate counted on by the latest Joseph Smith upgrade.</p> <p> It is because he has so skillfully and aggressively made himself all things to all Establishment-center-righties that <span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt; font-style: italic; ">A Mormon President</span> may be the clearest window into Mitt’s soul. For me, one peek was enough to send me loading up on canned foods and planning my move to an undisclosed location near Mormon Zion. Because when Mitt Romney becomes the Mormon President foretold by Smith, and he sends those bombs into Iran to herald the start of the Thousand Year Mormon Rule, and Jesus teleports down to that Missouri cornfield to freak everyone out with his crop circles -- I want to be ready. I don’t want some cheery clean-cut Mormon baptizing my bones after I’m dead. If Romney wins, I figure I’ve got two months to get baptized and make myself into one of the 13 million who rules over the rest of you 7 billion fools.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div> Fri, 22 Jun 2012 08:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, Punch! 671418 at https://img.alternet.org Belief Belief Visions romney mormons How Shameless Oligarchs Plunder Our World: From 1990s Russia to Present-Day Oklahoma https://img.alternet.org/story/155588/how_shameless_oligarchs_plunder_our_world%3A_from_1990s_russia_to_present-day_oklahoma <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The ruthless pursuit of self-interest by the world&#039;s wealthy oligarchs utterly demolishes the public good.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1337884432_screenshot20120524at2.33.21pm.png?itok=Ti9uGLYo" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em><strong>This article was first published in the </strong></em><strong><a href="http://www.thedailybanter.com/2012/05/exclusive-the-rule-of-oligarchy-law-from-boris-yeltsins-russia-to-aubrey-mcclendons-oklahoma/" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; "><em>Daily Banter</em></a></strong></p> <p>At the end of the 1990s, after the total collapse of the mass-privatization experiment in Boris Yeltin’s Russia, some of the more earnest free-market proselytizers tried making sense of it all. The unprecedented collapse of Russia’s economy and its capital markets, the wholesale looting, the quiet extermination of millions of Russians from the shock and destitution (Russian male life expectancy plummeted from 68 years to 56 years)—the terrible consequences of imposing radical libertarian free-market ideas on an alien culture—turned out worse than any worst-case-scenario imagined by the free-market true-believers.</p> <p>Of all the disastrous results of that experiment, what troubled many Western free-market true-believers most wasn’t so much the mass poverty and population collapse, but rather, the way things turned out so badly in Russia’s newly-privatized companies and industries. That was the one thing that was supposed to go right. According to the operative theory—developed by the founding fathers of libertarianism/neoliberalism, Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and the rest—a privately-owned company will always outperform a state-run company because private ownership and the profit-motive incentivize the owners to make their companies stronger, more efficient, more competitive, and so on. The theory promises that everyone benefits except for the bad old state and the lazy.</p> <p>That was the dominant libertarian theory framing the whole “shock doctrine” privatization experiment in Russia and elsewhere. In reality, as everyone was forced to admit by 1999, Russia’s privatized companies were stripped and plundered as fast as their new private owners could loot them, leaving millions of workers without salaries, and most of Russia’s industry in far worse shape than the Communists left it.</p> <p>Most of the free-market proselytizers—ranging from Clinton neoliberal Michael McFaul (currently <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/03/29/us-ambassador-hints-russia-is-spying-on-him/" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">Obama’s ambassador to Moscow</a>) to libertarian <a href="http://russiajournal.com/node/3076" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">Pinochet fanboy</a> Andrei Illarionov (currently with the <a href="http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/v32n6/cpr32n6-3.html" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">Cato Institute</a>)– blamed everything but free-market experiments for Russia’s collapse.</p> <p>But some of the more earnest believers whose libertarian faith was shaken by what happened to Corporate Russia needed something more sophisticated than a crude historical whitewash.</p> <p>Lucky for them, Milton Friedman provided the answer to a Cato Institute interviewer: Russia lacked <a href="http://www.cato.org/special/friedman/friedman/friedman4.html" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">“rule of law”</a>—another neoliberal/libertarian catchphrase that went mainstream in the late 80s. Without “rule of law,” Friedman and the rest of the free-market faithful argued, privatization was bound to fail.  Here’s Friedman’s answer in the Cato Institute’s 2002 <a href="http://www.cato.org/special/friedman/friedman/friedman4.html" target="_blank" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">Economic Freedom of the World Report</a>:</p> <blockquote style="background-image: none; background-attachment: scroll; background-color: rgb(240, 238, 216); margin: 10px 25px; padding: 10px 20px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; background-position: 0px 0px; background-repeat: repeat repeat; "><p><strong><em>CATO:</em></strong><em> If we reflect upon the fall of communism and the transition from the centrally planned economy to a market economy, what have we learned in the last decade of the importance of economic freedom and other institutions that may be necessary to support economic freedom?</em></p> <p><strong>MILTON FRIEDMAN:</strong> We have learned about the importance of private property and the rule of law as a basis for economic freedom. Just after the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, I used to be asked a lot: “What do these ex-communist states have to do in order to become market economies?” And I used to say: “You can describe that in three words: privatize, privatize, privatize.” But, I was wrong. That wasn’t enough. The example of Russia shows that. Russia privatized but in a way that created private monopolies-private centralized economic controls that replaced government’s centralized controls. It turns out that the rule of law is probably more basic than privatization. Privatization is meaningless if you don’t have the rule of law. What does it mean to privatize if you do not have security of property, if you can’t use your property as you want to?</p></blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Others expanded on Friedman’s rationalization, arguing that without this <a href="http://www.americansforprosperity.org/022410-rule-law-free-market-essential-5" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">“rule of law”</a> to protect their private property, the new private owners of Russia’s industries were <em>incentivized </em>to plunder their companies as quickly as possible for fear that the state would steal their companies back. Of course, all this rationalizing was undermined by fact that Russia’s oligarchs stole their companies in the first place, and thieves do tend to steal what they’ve stolen. But never mind—the libertarian ideology was salvaged, as Russia’s privatization experiment was declared “not a real free-market” without Friedrich Hayek’s “rule of law” in place.<font color="#ff0000"><b><br /></b></font></p> <p>The reason I’m bringing this up now is because over the past month, one of America’s most rapacious oligarchs, Aubrey McClendon, was exposed by Reuters for plundering Chesapeake Energy, the second-largest natural gas producer in the country after Exxon-Mobil. McClendon, co-founder, CEO and until a few weeks ago Chairman of Chesapeake, was discovered running a hedge fund inside of Chesapeake, personally profiting on the side from large trading positions that his public company Chesapeake took in the gas and oil markets.</p> <p>Reuters also discovered that McClendon took small personal stakes in natural gas wells bought by Chesapeake, then borrowed against the wells’ reserves from the same banks that Chesapeake borrowed from—basically, the banks kicked back sweet lending deals to McClendon on the side as McClendon arranged less-than-sweet loans to his publicly-owned company, Chesapeake, kicking profits from Chesapeake’s shareholders and employees’ pockets into the banks and into Aubrey’s accounts.</p> <p>The loser in all this, as always: Employees, retirees, and shareholders. As <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/15/us-chesapeake-401k-idUSBRE84E10F20120515" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">Reuters</a> reported, Chesapeake is one of a small handful of companies whose employee 401k retirement packages consist mostly of Chesapeake stock, and the company requires employees to hold on to their stock for the maximum amount of time allowed by law:</p> <blockquote style="background-image: none; background-attachment: scroll; background-color: rgb(240, 238, 216); margin: 10px 25px; padding: 10px 20px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; background-position: 0px 0px; background-repeat: repeat repeat; "><p>Thousands of Chesapeake workers have retirement portfolios that are heavily invested in Chesapeake stock, which has declined sharply following revelations about Chief Executive Aubrey K. McClendon’s business dealings.</p> <p>But while retail and institutional investors have sold the stock, employees don’t always have that option.</p></blockquote> <p>It’s not the first time McClendon has been caught plundering Chesapeake at the expense of shareholders, pension fund investors and employees: In 2008, McClendon bet and lost about $2 billion worth of Chesapeake Energy stock he owned—94% of Aubrey’s personal stake in Chesapeake– on a margin call when natural gas prices collapsed. Aubrey bet that natural gas prices would continue soaring, you see.</p> <p>But like his peers in the oligarchy class, Aubrey’s loss became everyone but Aubrey’s loss: He was awarded a “CEO bailout” by his board of directors, who honored Aubrey with a $75 million “bonus” to bring his total pay in 2008 to $112 million, making Aubrey McClendon the highest-paid CEO in Corporate America that year. Even though Chesapeake’s earnings dropped in half, and its stock fell 60%, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/business/29gret.html" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">wiping out up to $33 billion</a> in shareholder wealth.</p> <p>Now, we’re learning, Aubrey was profiting in other ways off of Chesapeake that same year.</p> <p>There is so much more to hate about Aubrey McClendon than this—the millions McClendon poured into Gary Bauer’s gay-bashing outfit “Americans United To Preserve Marriage” and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the role McClendon and his Whirlpool heiress wife played in <a href="http://michiganmessenger.com/1190/rep-upton-whirlpool-ceo-would-gain-easy-access-to-privatized-park" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">stealing waterfront land from Benton Harbor</a>, an African-American slum and the poorest city in Michigan, in order to expand an exclusive golf course country club for residents of St. Josephs, where McClendon owns several plots of land. McClendon’s wife, Katie, is from St. Joseph’s; so is Katie’s cousin, Fred Upton, the Republican Congressman from St. Joseph’s. Aubrey and his wife are what pass for royalty (<em>sans</em> <em>noblesse oblige)</em> these days: Katie from the Whirpool fortune, Aubrey an heir to the Kerr-McGee fortune. (If you’ve seen the movie <em>Silkwood</em>, you might remember Kerr-McGee as the company that iced the labor union activist played by Meryl Streep.)</p> <p>This is just one of many stories about how publicly-traded companies have been and can be transformed into elaborate schemes to loot and steal from the public and enrich a tiny handful of oligarchs. We saw this in the 1980s when Reagan deregulated the Savings &amp; Loans, which were quickly transformed into a means of looting, fraud and plunder; we saw it in the 2000s, after the de-regulation of the financial sector.</p> <p>The problem goes much deeper than Milton Friedman’s “rule of law” fetish. “Rule of law” is just another red herring diversion to provide cover for continued oligarchy plunder, failure and barbarism. The problem is systemic, and more importantly, ideological. We still operate under the same neoliberal/libertarian major premises we inherited from the Hayek-Mises-Friedman era, an ideology that considers notions like “the public good” to be quaint delusions at best—as opposed to today’s still-dominant, still-standing foundational ideology, which says that freedom equals the ruthless pursuit of individual self-interest, the unlimited acquisition of private property and wealth, framed within a cold, dystopian “rule of law.”</p> <p>That is where the problem starts. That is why, every week, I could tell another story about another Aubrey McClendon or <a href="http://www.thedailybanter.com/2012/05/exclusive-failing-up-with-dick-parsons/" target="_blank" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">Dick Parsons</a>, and it will never end until the ideology that enables them is buried.</p> <p><strong>Would you like to know more? Read previous “Class Warfare” columns by Mark Ames including <a href="http://exiledonline.com/failing-up-with-citigroups-dick-parsons/" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">“Failing Up With Citigroup’s Dick Parsons”</a> and <a href="http://exiledonline.com/the-one-percents-doctrine-for-the-rest-of-us-slavery-feudalism-la-da-da-dee-dee-dee/" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">“The One-Percent’s Doctrine For The Rest Of Us: We Are Not Human Beings, But Livestock Whose Meat They Extract As ‘Rent’”</a>.</strong></p> <p><strong><em>Mark Ames is the author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Going-Postal-Rebellion-Workplaces-Columbine/dp/1932360824/ref=cm_cmu_pg_i" style="color: red; text-decoration: none; ">Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine</a>.</em></strong></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div> Mon, 28 May 2012 17:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, The Daily Banter 670986 at https://img.alternet.org Economy Economy russia oklahoma chesapeake mclendon The Super "Connected" 1% CEO: The Incredible Tale of Billions of Dollars of Failure https://img.alternet.org/story/155519/the_super_%22connected%22_1_ceo%3A_the_incredible_tale_of_billions_of_dollars_of_failure <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Citgroup&#039;s outgoing chairman Dick Parsons&#039; career is the perfect example of how 1 percenters reward utter failure at the expense of the rest of us.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1337628695_shutterstock54127225.jpg?itok=ekrG3lpn" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Last month, shareholders finally rebelled against Citigroup, the worst of the Too Big To Fail bailout disasters, by filing a lawsuit against outgoing chairman Dick Parsons and handful of executives for stuffing their pockets while running the bank into the ground.</p> <p>Anyone familiar with Dick Parsons’ past could have told you his term as Citigroup’s chairman would end like this: Shareholder lawsuits, executive pay scandals, and corporate failure on a colossal scale. It’s the Dick Parsons Management Style. In each of the three companies Parsons was appointed to lead, they all failed spectacularly, and somehow Parsons and a handful of top executives always walked away from the yellow-tape crime scenes unscathed.</p> <p>This past April, for his final act as Citigroup’s chairman, Dick Parsons made sure that Citi’s top executives were handsomely rewarded for their failures. He arranged a pay package for CEO Vikram Pandit amounting to $53 million despite the fact that Citi’s stock plummeted 44% last year, and has woefully underperformed other bank stocks even by their low standards. Citigroup, as you might recall, got the largest bailout of any banking institution, larger than BofA’s– $50 billion in direct funds, and over $300 billion more in “stopgap” federal guarantees on the worthless garbage in Citi’s “assets” portfolio. Those are just the most obvious bailouts Citi received—this doesn’t take into account the flood of free cash, the murky mortgage-backed securities buyback programs, the accounting rules changes that allowed banks like Citi to decide how much their assets “should be worth” as opposed to what they’re really worth on their beloved free-market, and so on…</p> <p>So just as Dick Parsons stepped down as Citigroup chairman last month, shareholders finally rebelled, suing Parsons, CEO Pandit and a handful of executives for corporate plunder”.</p> <p>Again, with Parsons, it’s the same story every time: Three executive jobs, three disasters, each worse than the previous one.</p> <p>Before Citigroup, Parsons headed AOL Time Warner, where he helped pull off what is widely considered the single worst business deal in corporate American history: a fraud-rife merger that wiped out $200 billion in shareholder value, ruined employees, retirees and investors, sparked numerous criminal investigations and dozens of lawsuits, and yet somehow managed to enrich a tiny handful of executives—including Dick Parsons—to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.</p> <p>Why would the government agree to name the AOL Time Warner failure Dick Parsons, Chairman of Citigroup in January 2009, just as the world’s largest banking institution was taking the biggest bailout packages, and just as its legal ownership was taken over by the American public?</p> <p>It’s a basic question that goes to the heart of Dick Parsons’ rise to the top. It’s a question that should have been put to AOL Time Warner when he was thrust to the top of that firm, considering the giant S&amp;L failure Parsons oversaw before moving over to AOL Time Warner.</p> <p>From the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, Parsons served as a top executive and then chairman of Dime Savings, the Northeast’s poster child for savings &amp; loan criminal fraud. Dime was Parsons’ first executive job—and Dime turned out to be the New England region’s closest equivalent to Charles Keating’s Lincoln Savings, a giant criminal fraud mill with victims ranging from gullible low-income home buyers to entire regional economies laid waste to fraud-pumped housing bubble.</p> <p>At least in the S&amp;L crisis of the late 80s and early 90s, some people went to jail—and Dime’s affiliates in the New England states sent scores of fraudsters to prison. Those investigations led to Dime’s New York headquarters where Dick Parsons was, but for some strange reason, even with a federal judge openly demanding criminal charges for Dime’s senior executives, in the end, Parsons and the others got away with it.</p> <p>Here, for example, is a 1994 <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1994/12/16/business/us-fraud-inquiry-into-dime-s-mortgages.html">article from the New York Times</a> about what went on at Dime Savings under Parsons’ leadership. Notice the remarkable similarities in the mortgage scam described in the article to the mortgage scams pulled off in our time:</p> <blockquote> <p>U.S. Fraud Inquiry Into Dime’s Mortgages</p> <p>Federal officials are investigating the Dime Savings Bank for possible fraud in its home-mortgage business.</p> <p>The inquiry, which is being directed by the United States Attorney’s office in Concord, N.H., is apparently seeking to determine whether Dime’s executives knew during the late 1980′s that documents were falsified to allow unqualified borrowers to get loans.</p> <p>The investigators also apparently want to know whether those executives knowingly allowed such mortgages to be included in packages of loans that were sold to investors.</p> <p>The loans in question are known as low-documentation loans. Unlike traditional mortgages, they were often approved on the spot, with little or no background check on an applicant’s qualifications, which were often questionable.</p></blockquote> <p>Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? What happened at Dime in the late 1980s—the predatory subprime loans hard-sold to the least sophisticated borrowers, loans with hidden adjustable rates which they called “low-verification” mortgage loans… the fraud in the documentation, preying on the least credit-worthy, least qualified borrowers in order to pump out as many bad subprime loans as fast as possible, dumping the losses on the government—what happened under Parsons’ watch in the late 1980s, only to be revealed in the early-mid 1990s, was repeated on a grand scale a decade later at banks like Citibank, resulting in massive payouts to a small group of executives, and devastation for everyone else.</p> <p>Now that Parsons is finally stepping down as chairman, I want to briefly re-trace Dick Parsons’ career. His rise from a middle-class, frat-boy slacker, to suddenly find himself at the very pinnacle of American power and finance– offers us some insight into the culture and ideology of the ruling One Percent. To quote Starship Troopers: “To defeat The Bug, we must know The Bug.”</p> <p>Why Dick Parsons? Why is failure so valuable? Why was Parsons so handsomely rewarded in perfect inverse proportion to the spectacular damage he caused to so many others? That is the big question.</p> <p>Dick Parsons’ biography can be summed up in two phases of his life: before meeting Nelson Rockefeller, and after meeting Nelson Rockefeller.</p> <p>Before meeting Nelson Rockefeller, Dick Parsons was a self confessed clown from a middle-class African-American family in Brooklyn. “Left to my own devices, I don’t feel any compulsion to strive,” he told to the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/26/business/twin-spotlights-on-parsons-of-the-dime.html?pagewanted=all&amp;src=pm" target="_blank">New York Times</a>. Race was never an issue with Parsons either: ”I don’t have any experience in my life where someone rejected me for race or any other reason.’</p> <p>So Parsons dropped out of high school with a “C” average, earning a GED certificate. He enrolled in the University of Hawaii for reasons he could never really explain, joined a frat, and became their social chairman. As one of Parsons’ frat brohs recalled to journalist Nina Munk, “Here’s this guy who’s at the bar sixty-seven days in a row and, as you can imagine, he did very poorly in school.”</p> <p>Parsons did worse than poorly: He flunked out of U. Hawaii. Without earning a degree.</p> <p>And then slacker Dick Parsons met oligarch Nelson Rockefeller, and from here on out, Parsons lived out a Cinderella fairytale for the One Percenters. As luck would have it, Dick Parsons’ grandfather was once a favorite groundskeeper at the famous Rockefeller Compound in Pocantico Hills and lived in a hut on in the shadow of the oligarchs’ mansion. Soon, Dick Parsons and his wife would move into one of those same groundskeepers huts under Nelson Rockefeller’s patronage.</p> <p>As Parsons <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/07/business/company-news-the-rising-star-from-dime-savings.html?pagewanted=print&amp;src=pm" target="_blank">later admitted</a>, “The old-boy network lives…I didn’t grow up with any of the old boys. I didn’t go to school with any of the old boys. But by becoming a part of that Rockefeller entourage, that created for me a group of people who’ve looked out for me ever since.”</p> <p>And so, magically, despite failing out of Hawaii without a degree, Dick Parsons was accepted into the Albany University Law School program. Nelson Rockefeller happened to be in Albany too at the time, serving as governor of the state of New York. Dick Parsons was chosen to be an intern for Rockefeller.</p> <p>Whereas before, when Parsons didn’t study he failed out, now, after meeting Nelson Rockefeller, by some magical twist of fate, he was the law school’s valedictorian. Sandy Stevenson, a fellow law school classmate of Parsons’ who became a professor at Albany Law,<a href="http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-157466443.html" target="_blank">recalled</a>: “He didn’t study hard. He played a lot of bridge. He was so smart he didn’t have to study, and he was in the cafeteria playing bridge a lot.”</p> <p>Parsons took the New York state bar exam, and scored the highest in the state, beating out all the high-achieving Ivy Leaguers that year. It may have been a complete coincidence, but Nelson Rockefeller’s right-hand man, Harry Albright, was in charge of both the law school internship program with the governor, and in charge of scoring the New York state bar exams.</p> <p>By another coincidence in the 1980s, the same Harry Albright headed the Dime Savings thrift, and this same Harry Albright appointed Dick Parsons to replace him.</p> <p>Parsons did something right at Dime Savings. Something wrong for everyone else, but something right for those who mattered. A handful of executives pulled off what looks remarkably like the sort of “control fraud” scheme described by Bill Black: Quickly saddle the thrift with enormous amounts of bad mortgage loans, inflate the assets, loot, cash out, and dump the problem on the public.</p> <p>Parsons proved himself useful in that scam. He played wingman for Harry Albright as they loaded Dime up with bad mortgage loans in warp-speed time, practically doubling the asset base from less than $7 billion in early 1987 to over $12 billion in late 1988. At the same time, as reported in the New York Times, “Checks from thousands of homeowners stopped coming.”</p> <p>With the asset base pumped up and ready to collapse, Albright cashed out and moved his lawyer, Dick Parsons into the CEO’s seat to cover his tracks.</p> <p>Often times I hear non-One-Percenter Americans ask, “How do these people sleep at night?” Harry Albright <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/26/business/twin-spotlights-on-parsons-of-the-dime.html?pagewanted=all&amp;src=pm">answered that question to the New York Times</a>: “I am entirely unapologetic.”</p> <p>Promotions and appointments followed in rapid succession for Parsons for a job well done, his career advancement largely to helping hand of Nelson Rockefeller’s brother, Laurance Rockefeller: board positions at Fannie Mae, Citibank, and most importantly, Time Warner. Thanks to Laurance Rockefeller’s introduction, Steve Ross brought Parsons onto Time Warner’s board, paving the way for Parsons to replicate his “success” at Dime over at the new AOL Time Warner, and later again, to replicate his AOL Time Warner “success” at Citigroup.</p> <p>After Parsons took over AOL Time Warner, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/09/nyregion/new-boss-for-a-media-giant-is-an-old-hand-at-new-york.html?src=pm" target="_blank">New York Times</a> summed up his career trajectory:</p> <blockquote> <p>In 1988, Mr. Parsons was recruited to serve as president of the Dime Bank by Harry W. Albright Jr., another former Rockefeller aide. A few years later, the Rockefeller hand intervened again: on the recommendation of Laurance Rockefeller to Steven Ross, Mr. Parsons was invited to join Time Warner’s board in 1991. He became president of the company in 1995.</p></blockquote> <p>Parsons knew where his bread was buttered, as captured with painful, barely-concealed patronizing racism in this <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/26/business/twin-spotlights-on-parsons-of-the-dime.html?pagewanted=all&amp;src=pm" target="_blank">New York Times profile</a> from the early 1990s:</p> <blockquote> <p>”I owe them,” Mr. Parsons said of the Rockefellers one evening as the Dime’s chauffeur took him to Pocantico Hills. ”I didn’t go to the right school. I wasn’t from the right side of the tracks. But when I was fortunate enough to hook up with Nelson Rockefeller, that’s how I developed my own network.”</p></blockquote> <p>And the<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/09/nyregion/new-boss-for-a-media-giant-is-an-old-hand-at-new-york.html?src=pm" target="_blank"> feeling was mutual</a>, in a vague, cold, One Percenter sort of way:</p> <blockquote> <p>“My brother liked and admired and relied on him very much,” David Rockefeller said. “I’ve always had very warm feelings about him myself.”</p></blockquote> <p>In fact, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/09/nyregion/new-boss-for-a-media-giant-is-an-old-hand-at-new-york.html?src=pm" target="_blank">all the One Percenters</a> loved their Dick Parsons:</p> <blockquote> <p>”He’s one of the few people in this industry that I would just as soon have a shake-hand deal with as a legal contract,” said Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, who needed the Time Warner system to carry the Fox News Channel.</p> <p>Michael Eisner of Disney, which battled with Time Warner for access, also praised Mr. Parsons: ”He handled himself in such a gentlemanly and reasonable way that he got the job done.”</p></blockquote> <p>Everyone else would disagree of course—as revealed in the dozens of lawsuits against Dick Parsons and his fellow execs at AOL Time Warner. But they don’t count—and besides, all those settlements and legal fees were covered by AOL Time Warner, meaning Parsons and the executives were able to plunder the company to pay for their previous plunder of the company. No skin off Parsons’ back, and no skin off of the backs of those whom he “owes.”</p> <p>It all reads like some half-baked hippie’s paranoid Bilderberg-obsession—and yet, Parsons’ failure up to the top, guided all the way by his “network” of oligarchs, is just the flat, unvarnished reality.</p> <p>In 2007, as Citigroup director in charge of the compensation committee, it was Parsons who approved the obscene pay for outgoing CEO Chuck Prince. Parsons also played a key role in hiring current CEO Vikram Pandit, and in Citi’s awful decision to buy Pandit’s failing hedge fund, Old Lane, for $800 million in 2007—<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2012/05/07/citigroup-board-must-listen-to-shareholders-on-pandits-pay/2/">netting Pandit a cool $80 million</a>. Shortly afterwards, Citi shut down Old Lane, collapsed, and turned to taxpayers for a $50 billion bailout and hundreds of billions more in guarantees and the like.</p> <p>In November 2008, lifelong Republican Dick Parsons was brought into President-elect Obama’s transition team, thanks to then-Citigroup chairman Robert Rubin. There was talk that Parsons might be Obama’s Treasury Secretary; instead, in January 2009, he replaced Rubin as Citi’s chairman.</p> <p>Almost immediately, Parsons went to work fighting executive compensation limits, and obstructing banking reforms and making sure that FDIC chief Sheila Bair was unable to do her job effectively. Using taxpayer dollars, Parsons hired one of the darkest operators in DC, lobbyist Richard Hohlt, to fight against the interests of the same taxpayers who had bailed Citi out and who now effectively owned the bank. Hohlt’s impressive resume includes his role in drafting the 1982 savings &amp; loan deregulation bill that most agree made possible the S&amp;L collapse possible—a bill that helped make Dick Parsons and his Dime Savings pals rich. Hohlt lobbied for the scandal-ridden Fannie Mae (where Parsons served as a board director), for Washington Mutual (which took over Dime Savings), for Time Warner… Hohlt even played a<a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2007/02/25/a-man-of-mystery.html">central role in the Valerie Plame scandal</a>, serving as go-between in the leak between Karl Rove and Robert Novak.</p> <p>When news first hit that Parsons had hired Hohlt, former banking regulator Bill Black<a href="http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2009-10-11/news/28421950_1_citigroup-lobbyist-regulators">commented</a>: “It is singularly obscene that any recipient of taxpayer assistance through the TARP program during the current financial crisis would hire one of the most infamous lobbyists in the world to represent them.”</p> <p>Naturally, Dick Parsons hired him to protect Citigroup—and it worked. Talk of breaking up “Too Big To Fail” Citigroup is pretty much over now. The perpetrators are safe. The shareholders are angry, as are Citi’s victims of fraud in the years since Parsons joined, as are the rest of us who didn’t profit from the plunder of Citigroup, and the plunder of the treasury to keep Citi going.</p> <p>Today, Parsons is gone from Citigroup, but he’s not gone from our lives: He’s just been appointed as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s <a href="http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-04-30/news/31503088_1_cuomo-charter-schools-richard-parsons">“education czar”</a> for education reform in the state of New York. Sorry kids.</p> <p>All of this begs the question: What makes whacky conspiracy theorists any worse or any more deluded than the “Meritocracy Theorists” who’ve been promoting a fairy-tale version of America since Reagan’s Revolution, a fairy-tale version in which talent, hard work and innovation are supposedly rewarded, and failure is punished? It’s time to admit it once and for all: Failure is the whole point. Failure makes looting easier and quicker. In that sense, Dick Parsons has been rewarded for a job well done.</p> <p>The game is rigged, and Dick Parsons’ rancid story gives some insight into how the rigging operates, and why failure is so valuable. What looks like failure to us, like losing our jobs and our future and our democracy—is success and riches to the One Percent who profit from this dystopian setup.</p> <div> </div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div> Mon, 21 May 2012 18:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, The Daily Banter 670879 at https://img.alternet.org Economy Economy economy banking dick parsons Murder, Suicide and Financial Ruin: How the Class War Is Destroying Americans' Lives https://img.alternet.org/story/155011/murder%2C_suicide_and_financial_ruin%3A_how_the_class_war_is_destroying_americans%27_lives <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The financial fraudsters, the One Percenters, fleece the most vulnerable -- military families, minorities, low-income people -- to generate their fast riches.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>Mark Ames' column "Class Warfare" was first published on </em><a href="http://consortiumnews.com/2012/04/16/the-1s-hand-in-the-afghan-murders/"><em>ConsortiumNews.com.</em></a></p> <p>This past Thursday, a <a href="http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765568610/Feds-seek-evidence-after-fiery-Calif-standoff.html">Modesto</a>, California, man whose house was in foreclosure shot and killed the Sheriff’s deputy and the locksmith who came to evict him from his condominium unit. Modesto authorities responded by sending 100 police and SWAT snipers to counter-attack, and it ended Waco-style, with the fourplex structure burning to the ground with the shooter inside.</p> <p>It’s not surprising that this should happen in Modesto: Last year the Central California city’s foreclosure rate was the third worst in the country, with one in every 19 properties filing for foreclosure.  The entire region is ravaged by unemployment, budget cuts, and blight — the only handouts that Modesto is seeing are the <a href="http://www.modbee.com/2012/04/01/2139823/picking-up-the-big-guns.html">surplus military equipment</a> stocks being dumped into the Modesto police department’s growing arsenal.</p> <p>The shooter who died was 45 years old and he appears to have lost his condominium over a $15,000 home equity loan he took out almost a decade ago, owed to Bank of America. The condo was sold at an auction for just $12,988 to a shady firm, R&amp;T Financial, that doesn’t even have a listed contact number. Too much for the former security guard, who barricaded himself in the condo which had been in the family for decades. He refused to walk out alive. </p> <p>These “death by foreclosure” killings have been going on, quietly, around the country ever since the housing swindle first unraveled. Like the story of <a href="http://www.azcentral.com/community/northvalley/articles/2009/09/30/20090930abrk-homeshooting.html">the 64-year-old Phoenix man</a> whose daughter and grandson were preparing to move in with him after losing their home to foreclosure — only to get a knock on his door surprising him with an eviction notice on the house he’d owned for over 30 years. Bank of America foreclosed on him despite his attempts to work out a fair plan.</p> <p>We now know that the same banks that had been bailed out over their subprime fraud disaster were, by the time this happened, headlong into another criminal scheme, this time foreclosure fraud. The fraud was effected both illegally and in bad faith on a scale so vast it’s hard not to think that it was carried out by some marauding foreign army.</p> <p>Anyway, the old man grabbed a .357 and a beer, walked outside into a sea of Phoenix cops and snipers, and fired his gun off until they cut him down in a hail of bullets.</p> <p>Sometimes the “losers” in this class war make it easier on everyone else by killing themselves and setting themselves on fire as they’re being evicted, as one <a href="http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20120327/NEWS01/203270305">Ohio couple</a> recently did. Others class war “losers” aren’t as cooperative, like a <a href="http://www.news4jax.com/Police-Foreclosed-Home-Set-Fire-Man-Shot/-/475982/3327188/-/eyw473/-/index.html">Florida man</a> who was gunned down by police after he set his foreclosed townhouse on fire last year.</p> <p>It’s exactly the sort of lopsided class war that Warren Buffett first officially acknowledged in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/business/yourmoney/26every.html">2006</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>“There’s a class war, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”</p></blockquote> <p>Buffett is right to call it a one-way war, in both a metaphorical sense and in a literal sense, given the endless wars being waged for over a decade now, wars that are tied to the class wars at home.</p> <p><strong>Murdering Afghan Civilians</strong></p> <p>Nothing illustrates the interlinking between the class war at home and the imperial wars abroad more starkly than the example of Staff Sgt. Roger Bales, the Army sniper accused last month of killing 17 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children.</p> <p>The Army is trying to pin it all on Sgt. Bales’s supposedly deranged mental state, but their version of events contradicts what the victims and eyewitnesses in the village have been telling the few reporters who have had a chance to actually interview them. They’re saying that they saw several American soldiers participating in the massacre, as well as a helicopter.</p> <p>Whatever the case, whether alone or with others, most people familiar with the case agree that for some reason, Sgt. Bales <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/world/asia/suspect-in-afghan-attack-snapped-us-official-says.html?pagewanted=print">“snapped.” </a>Invariably they’re over-psychologizing why he “snapped” — the military has blamed it on everything from his supposedly troubled marriage, to strain or stress, to an alleged alcohol bender.</p> <p>Less well-known or discussed is what happened to Sgt. Bales on the other front: the class war front. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/afghan-rampage-suspect-robert-bales-was-a-soldier-strained-by-deployments/2012/03/17/gIQAwmRSJS_print.html">Three days before</a> his shooting rampage, the house where Bales’s wife and two children lived in Tacoma, Washington, put up for a short sale, $50,000 underwater. This was exactly what Sgt. Bales and his wife feared might happen if the Army forced him into a fourth battlefield deployment.</p> <p>The last time Sgt. Bales deployed — to Iraq in August 2009 — Bank of America foreclosed on the family’s rental property, a duplex that his wife had bought in 1999 that was also underwater. Within months of BofA taking their duplex, Sgt. Bales’s Humvee hit an IED and flipped over, causing <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/us/suspects-deployments-put-focus-on-war-strains.html?ref=us&amp;pagewanted=print">brain and head injuries</a>. On a previous deployment to Iraq, Sgt. Bales had one of his feet partially blown off by a bomb.</p> <p>Before being deployed to Afghanistan last year, he and his wife had been assured that the Army wouldn’t force Sgt. Bales, a highly-decorated hero who’d already sacrificed his physical wellbeing and his family’s financial health, back into combat.</p> <p>Bales and his wife were planning their future as a career military family, on bases far from any combat zone, working up the Army’s pay scale year by year. But then in March 2011, a year before Sgt. Bales’s massacre, they were shocked and hurt by the Army’s decision to deny him his standard promotion to Sgt. First Class, which came with a much-needed pay hike.</p> <p>(Last year, President Barack Obama’s Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Michael Mullen, said many of the austerity cuts would fall on soldiers’ pay and benefits rather than slashing weapons programs and force levels, which he called the <a href="http://www.military.com/news/article/mullen-says-pay-benefit-cuts-on-the-table.html">“relatively easy”</a> thing to do.)</p> <p>When Sgt. Bales learned he wouldn’t get his promotion, his wife wrote on <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-03-17/robert-bales-background/53593992/1">her blog</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>“It is very disappointing after all of the work Bob has done and all the sacrifices he had made for his love of his country, family and friends.”</p></blockquote> <p>Kathilyn Bales comforted herself with the assurances they’d been given that at least her husband wouldn’t be sent back into combat again — at least the family would be going together to one of the many non-warzone bases around the world. She <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-19/bales-faced-losing-two-houses-as-he-fought-6-700-miles-away.html">wrote</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Who knows where we will end up. I just hope that we are able to rent out the house so we can keep it. I think we are both still in shock.”</p></blockquote> <p>Then came the real shock: the Army sent Sgt. Bales back into the war zone, into Afghanistan. His wife would have to deal with the more than $500,000 in mortgage debts on her own.</p> <p>It was all timed perfectly: Last December, the month Sgt. Bales was deployed to Afghanistan, one of the subprime loans worth $178,000, taken out in 2006, was timed to “reset” to as high as 10.8 percent interest, and call in its first full payment.</p> <p>Joe Krumbach, former president of the Seattle Mortgage Bankers Association, reviewed this loan and the others sold to Sgt. Bales’s wife while he was in Iraq, and <a href="http://o.seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017852352_balesloan28m.html">denounced</a> them as “unconscionable.”</p> <p>He told the <a href="http://o.seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017852352_balesloan28m.html">Seattle Times</a>, “The margins on these loans are disaster waiting to happen” and admitted that mortgage lenders deliberately targeted military families like the Bales family, swindling them into signing onto far pricier refinancing loans “that benefited lenders and mortgage brokers” at the expense of vulnerable military families, as well as minorities and low-income borrowers.</p> <p>Another local real estate businessman who specializes in short sales agreed, telling <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-03-20/bales-fought-losing-war-on-home-front-as-mortgage-debt-mounted#p2">Businessweek</a> that “we set them up.”</p> <blockquote> <p>“It’s not an unfamiliar story, but it’s sad,” said Richard Eastern, a co-founder of Bellevue, Washington-based Washington Property Solutions, which negotiates short sales. “We’re going to send you off to war but we’re going to foreclose on your home.” He said many lenders offered loans they knew borrowers couldn’t repay. “And it’s not just soldiers, it’s everybody. We set them up.”</p></blockquote> <p>The extent to which mortgage lenders and banks deliberately preyed on American military families is made clear by this little-known fact: the Tacoma region, home to Fort Lewis-McChord, the largest base in the Western United States and home to 100,000 military personnel and family, suffered one of the worst predatory subprime loan epidemics in the country, an anomaly in the state of Washington. According to Richard Eastern’s firm, roughly half of all home sales in that region are either foreclosures or short sales. As early as 2007, the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119205925519455321.html">Wall Street Journal</a> singled out Tacoma as one of the nation’s worst affected regions from subprime plunder.</p> <p><strong>Who’s at Fault?</strong></p> <p>So who did this? Who, in the class war equation, waged and “won” this class war on Sgt. Bales’s family, and so many other military families? What are their names? Where are they now?</p> <p>As a matter of fact, there is a name: Paramount Equity Mortgage. And there is a name: Hayes Barnard, the CEO and co-founder of Paramount Equity. He lives in Roseville, California. In many ways, the story of the “winner” in this class war story is the most revealing, and enraging part of all.</p> <p>Paramount Equity was founded in 2004, and quickly spread across the Western states, issuing some $8 billion in loans. Paramount Equity’s subprime predation really took off in 2006, right after the Bush Administration’s Department of Housing (HUD) and the FHA qualified Paramount Equity government insurance on its mortgages.</p> <p>Almost immediately, Paramount Equity flooded the Tacoma region’s radio airwaves with deceptive ads hard-selling refinancing loans, featuring the voice of CEO Hayes Barnard promising the lowest rates, the most honest dealing, giving his personal guarantee.</p> <p>However, a raft of fraud and deception charges followed. In 2008, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions <a href="http://www.dfi.wa.gov/cs/orders-completed/paramount-press.htm">announced</a> it was charging Paramount Equity Mortgage with deceptive lending practices and revoking its license.</p> <p>Paramount stood accused of charging and collecting unearned fees, charging consumers to buy down interest rates without actually reducing the rate, failing to make required disclosures and making state and federally-required disclosures in a deceptive manner.</p> <p>“Paramount failed to make proper disclosures in almost every loan we reviewed,” said Deb Bortner, director of DFI’s Division of Consumer Services. “Washington [state] has many licensed mortgage brokers who comply with the law. In today’s market, we simply do not need a mortgage broker engaged in deceptive conduct doing business in this state.”</p> <p>The state’s charges also singled out Hayes Barnard for “<a href="http://www.dfi.wa.gov/cs/orders-completed/paramount-press.htm">engaging in a deceptive advertising campaign.”</a></p> <p>As is so often the case, there’s far too little reported specifics on the actual nature of the fraud and deception. Sometimes you have to look in the comments sections on real estate or legal blogs from the affected region. Like <a href="http://www.barrettrossie.com/2011/02/14/hayes-barnard-paramount-equity-mortgage-and-advertising-lies/">this comment</a> left on a marketing blog posting calling out Paramount Equity’s “lies”:</p> <blockquote> <p>“I apologize if this is maybe a little off topic. I refinanced with Paramount back in 2004. Come 2009, my loan adjusted and I was left with no choice but to walk away with my 3 kids and stay at home wife. I had to rely on credit cards the last couple of years, even charging a couple mortgage payments.</p> <p>“We ended up filing ch. 7 and we are now renting and have ZERO (if not worse) credit. Today (Sept. 27, 2011) an auditor came to my door and gave me some info and verified other info regarding B-of-A filing a PMI [private mortgage insurance] claim. Sorry so long winded….</p> <p>“One of the docs he showed me was of my stated income which was double …  DOUBLE my income at the time. I NEVER would put myself into such a situation and lied. I honestly believe the number was changed and it was burried [sic] in an inch of docs I had to sign and I just didn’t see it.</p> <p>“I’m not claiming complete innocence, because after all, I DID sign everything and agreed to the loan (which I didn’t know was a negative amortization loan. Hell, I didn’t even know what that meant). Now, we’re stable, but my financial future and creditworthiness is screwed. I barely got a $500 limit credit card at 17%.</p> <p>“Do I have any type of recourse here? I’m not frivolous, but I am at a loss. In fact … I LOST everything. Thanks in advance.”</p></blockquote> <p>These sorts of stories can be found everywhere, and they repeat themselves over and over. And what’s most galling of all is that these plundering crooks preyed on those most vulnerable — military families suffering from the chaos of war, minorities, low-income people — to generate their fast riches, backed with government guarantees.</p> <p><strong>Getting Off Easy</strong></p> <p>For all the swindling and destruction, including the “unconscionable” exploding loans Paramount Equity foisted on Sgt. Bales’s wife while he was off fighting in Iraq, the state of Washington <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2009/05/11/daily56.html?s=print">settled in 2009</a> with what can only be described as a wrist-massage: A fine of a mere $392,000, no admission of guilt.</p> <p>Paramount even got to keep its license to operate. This, despite the <a href="http://raincityguide.com/2009/05/15/lets-discover-what-lending-with-expertise-means-to-paramount-equity/">incredible admission</a> in the signed consent that “Paramount admits that during the relevant time period, Paramount did not maintain books and records.”</p> <p>This is what a lopsided class war looks like: The financial fraudsters, the One Percenters, fleece the unsophisticated locals like 19th century Europeans plundering far-away aborigines.</p> <p>One victim of Paramount <a href="http://raincityguide.com/2009/05/15/lets-discover-what-lending-with-expertise-means-to-paramount-equity/">commented</a> bitterly on the settlement:</p> <blockquote> <p>“We have not one, but TWO ugly loans which are breaking us from good ol’ Paramount Equity Mortgage. …. The citizens who signed these toxic documents are suffering EVERY DAY and losing their homes because Matt and Hayes need to make their yacht payment.</p> <p>“Our financial lives, that took 30 years to build, have been crushed because of the deception that occurred in their office (where no employee appeared to be over 40 years of age) I remember asking at the closing table, ‘Does anyone have gray hair in this building??!!’ It was unnerving. The parking lot looked like a BMW Sales Lot. …</p> <p>“Soon, I intend to stop crying about our mortgages, as I have been doing over the last THREE YEARS… And Washington State Department of Financial Institutions: SHAME ON YOU. Shame on you.”</p></blockquote> <p>Two “ugly loans” from Paramount Equity are what broke Kathilyn and Roger Bales.</p> <p>The end result: Hayes Barnard and Paramount Equity Capital are doing better than ever. In 2009, Hayes Barnard was named <a href="http://www.prlog.org/10215240-hayes-barnard-owner-of-paramount-equity-mortgage-wins-entrepreneur-of-the-year-award.html">“Entrepreneur of the Year”</a> by the Roseville Chamber of Commerce, the wealthy Sacramento suburb where Paramount Equity Mortgage is headquartered. In 2010, the Sacramento Business Journal honored him as one of Sacrament’s <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2010/05/03/focus5.html?jst=pn_pn_lk">“40 under 40”</a> leaders.</p> <p>The big payoff came last year, when one of the world’s largest infomercial firms, Guthy-Renker, <a href="https://www.nationalmortgagenews.com/nmn_features/guthy-renker-buys-1024365-1.html?zkPrintable=true">bought</a> a “significant equity position” in Hayes Barnard’s company. You might know Guthy-Renker as the company that makes all those annoying Tony Robbins infomercials and Susan Lucci skincare infomercials.</p> <p>Guthy-Renker’s also owns an equity stake in <a href="http://www.inman.com/news/2006/07/4/infomercial-producer-gets-piece-online-real-estate">RealtyTrac,</a> the leading foreclosure intelligence source. That’s good news for Hayes Barnard, because it means he’ll be able to wet his beak on the aftermath of the subprime plunder by getting first dibs on the best foreclosure deals. It’s a win-win.</p> <p>In this degenerate 21st Century version of America, Hayes Barnard exemplifies everything that the current system rewards. In the anti-meritocracy we live in, the sociopaths and crooks are the “winners.” Being a “winner” means you get quoted adoringly in a <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2010/05/03/focus5.html?s=print">Sacramento Business Journal</a> Q&amp;A, spouting out the blackest of unintentional black humor:</p> <blockquote> <p>“As a younger professional, what is the biggest challenge you face?</p> <p>“As a young professional, the biggest challenge I face is finding the right balance between raising my three children all under 3 years old, being a supporting husband and leading my team as a CEO of three companies. … Achieving true success is to give, give, give and help as many people as you can while leading for your family, employees and community.”</p></blockquote> <p>That’s how the class war “winners” rub it in on the rest of us — especially their victims. How can you function after reading such self-serving drivel, particularly if you’re one of the victims?</p> <p>As for the “losers” in this class war: Sgt. Roger Bales’s wife and children are ruined. They have no home; they only own debts to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, debts owed for life to the Hayes Barnards of this country. The “winner” — the swindler — is a community hero.</p> <p>As for Sgt. Bales – whom the Army accuses of “snapping” for no good reason, accusing him of being a drunk, or of mental weakness, incapable of handling his marriage or the stress of combat – he might even be put to death. He now sits in Fort Leavenworth military prison, charged with the murder of 17 Afghan civilians.</p> <p>The way the One Percenter “winners” see this story, it’s all proof that the system is working perfectly.</p> <p>As the <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/insiders-military-justice-system-capable-of-fair-trial-for-suspect-of-afghan-shooting-20120326">National Journal reported</a>, “Nearly all of National Journal’s National Security Insiders agree that the military justice system can conduct a fair trial for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.”</p> <p><em>Would you like more "Class Warfare"? Read “</em><a title="Permalink" href="http://exiledonline.com/the-brutal-life-of-one-l-goh-the-making-of-a-going-postal-rampage-murderer/"><em>The Brutal Life of One L. Goh” </em></a><em>and “</em><a title="Permalink" href="http://exiledonline.com/the-one-percents-doctrine-for-the-rest-of-us-slavery-feudalism-la-da-da-dee-dee-dee/"><em>The One-Percent’s Doctrine For the Rest of Us: We Are Not Human Beings, But Livestock Whose Meat They Extract As Rent”</em></a><em> by Mark Ames.</em><i><br /></i></p> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div> Tue, 17 Apr 2012 19:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, Consortium News 670388 at https://img.alternet.org World World economy afghanistan debt bales The Making of a Rampage Murderer: What the Brutal Life of Oakland Shooter One L. Goh Says About America https://img.alternet.org/story/154920/the_making_of_a_rampage_murderer%3A_what_the_brutal_life_of_oakland_shooter_one_l._goh_says_about_america <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The cruelty, predation and concentration of wealth today has sparked a new type of murder that has more in common with insurgency violence than serial murder.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1333999790_onel.jpeg?itok=XT1DnrA2" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">I was working on an article about last month’s rampage massacre in Afghanistan that left 17 villagers dead, when news hit of this past Monday’s massacre at an Oakland, California, religious college, leaving seven dead. In both cases, the shooters survived and face a possible death penalty — which is rare: Usually these rampage killings end with self-inflicted bullet in the mouth.</span></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">These “going postal” rampage killings like the one that just took place at the Oikos University campus happen so often and with such relentless rhythm, a lot of people might easily assume that these mass-shootings at American schools and workplaces have always been with us.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">It’s not true, of course — as I wrote in my book <em><a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.amazon.com/Going-Postal-Rebellion-Workplaces-Columbine/dp/1932360824/ref=cm_cmu_pg_i">Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion</a></em> — it’s an exclusively American phenomenon specific to our time. The first post office rampage killing took place in Edmond, Oklahoma, in the mid-1980s, at the height of the Reagan Revolution’s war on the American worker.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Those post office massacres quickly migrated into private workplace massacres by the end of the 1980s, where they’ve become a regular rhythmic staple of our murder culture ever since – and from the adult workplace, the massacres migrated to our schools.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">We’ve had mass-killings before; and every now and then, you’ll read about a rampage killing in some other country. But only in America, and only since the mid-1980s, do American employees attack their own workplaces and offices, and middle-class students attack their own schools, with such consistency, year after year.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">It was only after the crash in 2008 that some Americans began to accept the obvious: That the cruelty, predation and concentration of wealth and power introduced by the Reagan Revolution sparked a new type of murder that has more in common with insurgency violence or rebellious peasant violence than, say, the psychopathology of a serial murder.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Like so many school rampage killers, last Monday’s alleged murderer, One L. Goh, was reportedly bullied and mistreated at his nursing school program at the small Korean Christian nursing program he enrolled in. Bullying also was blamed for the <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/28/tj-lane-chardon-high-school-suspect_n_1306511.html">high school rampage killing</a> a few weeks ago in <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://gma.yahoo.com/ohio-school-shooting-second-victim-brain-dead-questions-142504865--abc-news.html">suburban Cleveland</a> that left three students dead and five wounded.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The gruesome details about the way Goh is said to have lined up and executed his victims, the way he apparently <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/oakland-college-shooter-goh-women-teacher-article-1.1055837">singled out women</a>, make it hard not to caricature him as a monster, a demonic psychopath — and yet, without excusing Goh’s killings, one should try to make sense of what happened to him, the downward-trending bleakness, the slow water-torture of low-five-figure debts, the broken marriage, the $23,000 tax bill owed to the IRS.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><strong>Losing Hope</strong></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">In the Naughts, One L. Goh helped run a construction company. But construction collapsed as an industry in 2006-7; and unless you were <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://exiledonline.com/elmer-fudd-nation-angelo-mozilo-his-300-million-slapstick-foils/">Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo</a>, you’d have nothing to show for the few good years.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">In late 2007, Goh moved into the Yorkview Apartments complex in Hayes, Virginia — a bleak, prefab looking structure in a rural corner of Virginia. By the following summer, One L. Goh found himself unable to cover his $575 rent payment two months in a row. He was evicted; and on the same day that they they evicted him, creditors took his car.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The future rampage-murderer took it all stoically, even politely, <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/03/BALR1NU3F1.DTL&amp;ao=all#ixzz1r3juFiPb">according to</a> one of Goh’s apartment complex neighbors, Thomas Lumpkin: “You would never expect it out of him. He just don’t seem like that type of person.”</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Here is how his neighbor described the scene of One L. Goh’s last day at the Yorkshire Apartments:</p> <blockquote style="background-image: none; background-attachment: scroll; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 25px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 25px; padding-top: 10px; padding-right: 20px; padding-bottom: 10px; padding-left: 20px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; background-position: 0px 0px; background-repeat: repeat repeat; "><p>Lumpkin said he recalled the day when Goh was evicted and his Nissan pickup was repossessed. Goh left by cab that day.</p> <p>“He was always neat, wore nice clothes,” Lumpkin recalled. “You would never expect it out of him. He just don’t seem like that type of person.”</p></blockquote> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">So he lost his car the same day he was evicted from his apartment in bumfuck, Virginia—and he took it all stoically as he cabbed away to god knows where.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">I tried to imagine what that cab ride felt like for One L. Goh, a pudgy 40-something Korean-American dweeb, stewing with resentment, in his nice neat clothes. How far did he go in that cab — and where to?</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-52214" title="goh yorkshire apartments1" alt="" width="470" height="470" style="padding-top: 5px; padding-right: 5px; padding-bottom: 5px; padding-left: 5px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; " src="http://exiledonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/goh-yorkshire-apartments1-470x470.jpg" /></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: center; "><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0); "><strong>The Yorkshire Apartments parking lot</strong></span></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Eventually he wound up with his father on the West Coast. One L. Goh’s father lives in an Oakland housing project for senior citizens run by a Christian non-profit. Goh found work in a San Mateo warehouse; he moonlighted as a mover. Anything to get back on his feet.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">It’s not a good place to be if you’re a middle-aged failure: San Francisco has so much obscene wealth, and smug beauty — to be a fat 40-something nerd working with your father in a grocery store in Daly City, in the shadow of San Francisco, is some kind of Hell, a Hell for failures.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Goh, who was born Su Nam Ko, had lived in the shadow of his more successful, celebrated war hero brother, Su Wan Ko. In 2002, he changed his name from birth name, Su Nam Ko, to One L. Goh, <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/calif-school-shooting-suspect-changed-name-because-his-birth-name-sounded-like-a-girl/2012/04/05/gIQAjllpxS_story.html">stating</a> that he did “not like my current name because it sounds like a girl’s name.”</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">And then last year, Goh’s brother, an Iraq War veteran and Special Forces hero, <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/279367">died</a> in a freak car accident when his Toyota slammed head-on at 70 mpg into a <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/279367">“multi-ton” boulder</a> lying on a Virginia road. The photos of the accident scene look almost unreal, almost staged.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-52219" title="goh brother accident1" alt="" width="470" height="312" style="padding-top: 5px; padding-right: 5px; padding-bottom: 5px; padding-left: 5px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; " src="http://exiledonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/goh-brother-accident1-470x312.jpg" /></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: center; "><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0); "><strong>The freak accident that killed One L. Goh’s war hero brother</strong></span></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The news of the brother’s death destroyed One L. Goh’s mother: She died within months of her son’s funeral.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">This is the backdrop to Goh’s fateful decision to pull himself out of a years-long rut, and to start a new career for himself as a nurse. It may have been the shock of the back-to-back deaths in the family — or maybe it was his father who encouraged him, or the experience of living with his father in a building for the elderly.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Whatever the case, his widower father supported his son with a $6,000 loan to pay for the vocational nursing school tuition. But after a few months, One L. Goh was out of the program, bitter and vengeful, dead set on murder; and his father was out $6,000, thanks to his son’s bad bet.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><strong>Ignition to a Massacre</strong></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">What set Goh off? Why did he leave the nursing school so early? Most reports say he was teased by his classmates for his age, 43, and his accent. Which is odd, considering most of the students are foreigners and Koreans.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">(Another Korean-American rampage-killer was teased over his voice:  Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui. As another Virginia Tech student <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.alternet.org/story/50758/?page=entire">told reporters</a> back in 2007, “As soon as [Cho] started reading, the whole class started laughing and pointing and saying, ‘Go back to China.’”)</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Goh enrolled in what must have been one of the very worst nursing programs in the entire state of California: the vocational nursing program at Oikos University, a fundamentalist Korean-American Christian school in Oakland.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The school’s nursing program is accredited, which is important of course if you want your for-profit school program to make money. To comply with the accreditation, Oikos U. had provide a <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_20317785/oikos-academics-finances-worry-state-regulators?source=pkg">“2010 Performance Sheet”</a> summing up its students’ performances both on the national nursing exam and, once licensed, in the job market.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The “performance” is abysmal, to the point where you almost wonder if it’s even statistically possible to fail as spectacularly as Oikos University’s nursing students. Of the programs 28 graduates from the Spring 2010 – 2011 term, only 11 of those 28 managed to pass the national nursing exam. That’s a 29 percent pass rate, almost unheard of.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-52222" title="Goh Oikos Ad Dreams Come True1" alt="" width="470" height="233" style="padding-top: 5px; padding-right: 5px; padding-bottom: 5px; padding-left: 5px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; " src="http://exiledonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Goh-Oikos-Ad-Dreams-Come-True1-470x233.png" /></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: center; "><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0); "><strong>Oikos University ad promises: “Dreams Do Come True”</strong></span></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.insidebayarea.com/bay-area-news/ci_20317786/oikos-academics-finances-worry-state-regulators?source=pkg">According</a> to a spokesman for the California Department of Consumer Affairs, it makes Oikos among the state’s very worst programs — the average success rate for graduates of other programs is 75 percent. (An <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.insidebayarea.com/bay-area-news/ci_20317786/oikos-academics-finances-worry-state-regulators?source=pkg">Oakland Tribune article</a> puts Oikos U’s exam pass rate at 41 percent of students who took the test, but the actual Performance Sheet gives a lower 29 percent pass figure — either way, both are awful).</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Oikos University failed to prepare its students for the test, and it failed those who passed when they turned to the job market. According to the same Performance Sheet, of the school’s 11 students who passed the exam, eight found paying jobs as nurses, with salaries ranging as low as $5,000 per year to the one lucky top salary earner who earned up to $35,000. That’s in the Bay Area, the most expensive region in America.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">In sum: One L. Goh could not have chosen a worse nursing program to pin his personal hopes on. This nursing program was all but guaranteed to fail him.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><strong>Fundamentalist Mission</strong></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">One thing Oikos University does fairly convincingly is fundamentalist evangelical Christianity for Korean-Americans. Students at Oikos U. are required to attend regular church services; the pious language of evangelical Christianity frames everything.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The school’s president, Rev. Jongkin Kim, <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/03/11003360-oikos-university-shooting-private-christian-school-catered-to-koreans">says his goal is</a> “to foster spiritual Christian leaders who abide by God’s intentions and to expand God’s nation through them.” Under the university’s <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.oikosuniversity.org/1010/philosophy.php">“Our Vision”</a> it reads:</p> <blockquote style="background-image: none; background-attachment: scroll; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 25px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 25px; padding-top: 10px; padding-right: 20px; padding-bottom: 10px; padding-left: 20px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; background-position: 0px 0px; background-repeat: repeat repeat; "><p>“The vision of Oikos University is to educate emerging Christian leaders to transform and bless the world at every level – from the church and local community levels to the realm of world entire.”</p></blockquote> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">And then there’s the reality, revealed in a <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.insidebayarea.com/bay-area-news/ci_20317786/oikos-academics-finances-worry-state-regulators?source=pkg">lawsuit</a> filed last month by a former staffer of Oikos University named Jong Cha, who says the school cheated her out of <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.insidebayarea.com/bay-area-news/ci_20317786/oikos-academics-finances-worry-state-regulators?source=pkg">$75,000 in salary and expenses</a>, and stiffed her on a $10,000 loan that she personally gave to the Christian college in 2008.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Viewed from this angle, One L. Goh might have come to the conclusion at some point that he’d taken scarce funds from his poor old widower father, and handed it over to religious hucksters running the Golden State’s worst nursing program.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">One thing to keep in mind here: It’s easy to see why Oikos University introduced a nursing vocational program. If you get it accredited, these nursing programs are guaranteed cash-cows. Most of the big for-profit education <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.aim.org/special-report/scandal-at-the-washington-post-fraud-lobbying-insider-trading/">predators</a> like <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.aim.org/special-report/scandal-at-the-washington-post-fraud-lobbying-insider-trading/">Kaplan Inc.</a> (which provides the majority of revenue to the <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/education/10kaplan.html?pagewanted=all">Washington Post</a> Company) are in on the vocational nursing for-profit gig.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">You can charge students insane tuitions, hire hacks as teachers, pocket the difference, and dump the unpaid loans on the government in exchange for 100 cents on the dollar.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The Reverend who founded Oikos University certainly understood this — his good friend <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/us/oikos-university-gunman-lined-up-victims.html?_r=2&amp;hp=&amp;pagewanted=print">told the New York Times</a> that Rev. Kim “had established the nursing school to support the school’s department of religion.” The cash must have rolled in quickly, because within a year after launching its nursing program, Oikos doubled its size — meaning doubling revenues.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">And yet even with all those new revenues coming in, the school couldn’t figure out a way to raise its graduates’ test results out of the failure category. The school appears to have stiffed one of its top staffers out of her pay and her loan, suggesting, in the words of the <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.insidebayarea.com/bay-area-news/ci_20317786/oikos-academics-finances-worry-state-regulators?source=pkg">Oakland Tribune</a>, “that the school may have fallen on hard times.”</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-52224" title="oikos depressing1" alt="" width="400" height="300" style="padding-top: 5px; padding-right: 5px; padding-bottom: 5px; padding-left: 5px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; " src="http://exiledonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/oikos-depressing1.png" /></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: center; "><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0); "><strong>The bleak <strong>Oikos University</strong> “campus”: Like a converted warehouse</strong></span></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">I wonder if this is what set off One L. Goh a few months after he enrolled — the realization that he’d been fleeced, that he enrolled in the wrong program on his father’s money.  The year 2011 had already taken his brother and his mother.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><strong>A Dashed Last Hope</strong></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">There is something in between the lines that suggests his plan to become a nurse, worked out with his father’s assistance a kind of desperate last attempt to turn everything around in the proverbial One Bold Swoop.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">He would do something practical, and morally good, helping the elderly, people like his father — and earn a steady income that would allow him, at last, some dignity and some chance to start paying off his debts.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">It was as though Goh pinned everything on this plan to reinvent himself as a nurse — and according to all our cultural propaganda, all the Hollywood movies and newspaper bromides, Goh would be rewarded for undertaking this self-transformation. It was guaranteed to change everything. As the Oikos U. ad promised, “Dreams Do Come True.”</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">And for a brief while last year, Goh’s mood was transformed, he really did think he had a great future ahead of him. One of Goh’s former employers at a food warehouse <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_20314383/oakland-school-rampage-suspect-sought-revenge-against-administrator?source=most_viewed">described</a> Goh as “upbeat” when he ran into him last year in Oakland — a change from the usually quiet, sullen Goh he’d known.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">This new “upbeat” One L. Goh boasted to his former employer “about how he had returned to school to become a nurse and help elderly people.”</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The idea that you can reinvent yourself, that your fate is in your own hands, that you have the power inside of you to make yourself a winner (and if you fail, it’s all your own fault) — this may be America’s most toxic cultural snake-oil. And yet it never fails to find takers.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Of course, nothing changed — except that Goh had been conned out of his dad’s money. As his former employer <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_20314383/oakland-school-rampage-suspect-sought-revenge-against-administrator?source=most_viewed">put it</a>:</p> <blockquote style="background-image: none; background-attachment: scroll; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 25px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 25px; padding-top: 10px; padding-right: 20px; padding-bottom: 10px; padding-left: 20px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; background-position: 0px 0px; background-repeat: repeat repeat; "><p>“Not many people go back to school at that age. He was trying something new and it wasn’t working.”</p></blockquote> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">It didn’t take long for him to figure it out. Just a few months after enrolling, One L. Goh dropped out of the Oikos University program. When he dropped out of the program, he asked them to refund his father’s $6,000 that he paid for tuition. He was denied. He fought with the administrators, but they didn’t budge. This was what made him snap.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The administrator, whom Goh fought with for his tuition refund and whom he came to kill that day, has now come forward. Her name is Ellen Cervellon. She was gone on the day of the massacre because she also teaches nursing to students at California State University at East Bay.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-52228" title="Screen shot 2012-04-09 at 12.15.28 PM" alt="" width="328" height="154" style="padding-top: 5px; padding-right: 5px; padding-bottom: 5px; padding-left: 5px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; " src="http://exiledonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Screen-shot-2012-04-09-at-12.15.28-PM.png" /></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: center; "><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0); "><strong>Ellen Cervellan: The face of “Real America”</strong></span></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Now she will have to wonder, why didn’t she just approve the refund to a desperate man? What if she had approved it? Her argument was that he’d already spent several months in the program. According to a friend of Ellen Cervellon’s, Linda Music, she even denied Goh his last reasonable request, to <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/05/BA0H1NUSJH.DTL&amp;type=printable">prorate the refund</a>.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">As Matthai Kuruvila reported at SFGate.com, Goh had asked Ellen Cervellon for a full refund of his tuition and when he was denied suggested prorating the tuition refund. Cervellon said no, Music said.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">That meant he threw his father’s money away: He had nothing to show for the $6,000 given to the university; he would never be able to pay his father back; and he would never be able to borrow a sum like that from him again. That was it, the final act. The jig was up for him.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><strong>Lack of Empathy</strong></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Why? Why couldn’t Cervellon meet this desperate failure half-way? What was in it for Cervellon? What’s with the Ayn Randian lack of empathy in this country among the non-oligarchy caste?</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Cervellon seems to be asking herself this <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2125289/Oikos-campus-shooting-School-administrator-Ellen-Cevellon-speaks-out.html#ixzz1rHX1O1LK">same question</a>: “In talking to several of the students and faculty who were there, I think he was looking for me. I have that weight on my shoulders and I don’t know what to do with it.”</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">School officials have been painting a portrait of One L. Goh as a psycho and a freak, using phrases like “behavioral problems” and calling him “angry” and “paranoid.” There must be truth to that; nice, normal people in a healthy state of mind don’t rampage-massacre others.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">But the intended target, Ellen Cervellon, <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2125289/Oikos-campus-shooting-School-administrator-Ellen-Cevellon-speaks-out.html#ixzz1rHXaAKCh">disputes that</a>: “He was never forced out, he showed no behavioral problems, and he was never asked to leave the program. He decided on his own to leave the program.”</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">The depressingly familiar dead-end life that One L. Goh found himself in — surrounded by petty scams as revealed in the ex-staffer’s lawsuit and the bleak performance of the school’s graduates, combined with the back-to-back deaths of two family members — could make a lot of sane people desperate and enraged and suicidal. Not to mention the larger context of an inequality-ravaged America where opportunity and dignity are scarcer and scarcer.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">On top of all this, as he complained often, students at the nursing program wouldn’t talk to him. That could be traumatizing even under better circumstances, but under his conditions, being mocked and ignored by fellow fundamentalist Christians for being an aging loser, would be devastating.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">One of Goh’s teachers continued criticizing Goh even after the massacre: “I always advised him, ‘You go to school to learn, not to make friends.’”</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">More great advice from the Oikos University folks.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">After quitting the nursing program, One L. Goh spent the last few months working with his father at the Daly City supermarket. He was back at square one: A failure, swindled, condemned to work in a shitty job beside his struggling father whom he’d let down.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">You might say that One L. Goh snapped because for once, he saw things as they really were, stripped of hope, stripped of fantasies about self-improvement or self-transformation.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">He failed at everything; he was one of those faceless, anonymous losers. But there was one thing he could still excel at, something that could get him attention, something that this country perversely celebrates: mass murder in a blaze of anti-glory.  So long as you’re ready to make that transformation-of-character into a death row inmate, that option is always available here.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; "><img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-52235" title="goh shooting bodies on grass1" alt="" width="470" height="264" style="padding-top: 5px; padding-right: 5px; padding-bottom: 5px; padding-left: 5px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; " src="http://exiledonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/goh-shooting-bodies-on-grass11-470x264.jpg" /></p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">Last Monday, according to police accounts, One L. Goh armed himself with a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol and showed up at the Oikos school for his final act. But the plan failed from the start: The administrator he was after was gone. So the target became the entire setting, Oikos University, as it so often happens in these “going postal” rampage killings.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">There’s a section on the Oikos University website about the 11 beliefs that the University holds to — they call it their <a style="color: red; text-decoration: none; " href="http://www.oikosuniversity.org/1010/philosophy.php">“Doctrinal Statement”</a> and it’s the last belief, Number 11, that sums up the malevolence of it all:</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 19px; text-align: justify; ">“We believe in the existence of a personal, malevolent being called Satan who acts as tempter and accuser, for whom the place of eternal punishment was prepared, where all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity.”<i><br /></i></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div> Mon, 09 Apr 2012 18:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, Consortium News 670267 at https://img.alternet.org News & Politics Economy shooting oakland America's Outrage Over TSA Naked Body Scanners Fits Right into Libertarian PR Project to Prevent Workers from Unionizing https://img.alternet.org/story/150767/did_you_fall_for_it_america%27s_outrage_over_tsa_naked_body_scanners_was_right-wing_pr_to_prevent_workers_from_unionizing <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '666224'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=666224" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The right fears nothing more than unionized workers, and found a cunning way to scapegoat workers to derail a campaign to organize the TSA.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>This is the year that the Republican right-wing, backed by corporate sponsors like the billionaire Koch brothers, have declared all-out war on public sector unions. It’s the culmination of a decades-long crusade against organized labor, which has only hit the national radar screen in recent months. The showdown in Wisconsin between Scott Walker and the unions has changed all that: suddenly, Americans had their eyes opened up to just how ruthlessly and cynically the Republican right was ready to fight to destroy public sector unions because they see it as a way to cripple the Democratic Party by killing off a major source of funding, as well as political muscle and votes. </p><p>If there’s some good to come out of the right-wing’s war on Wisconsin and other state employees, it’s that we now have a better insight into the Republican playbook against public sector unions, which boils down to this: 1) Manufacture a fake budget crisis in order to frighten the state’s residents; 2) PR the false-crisis hard enough until it breaks out of the right-wing/libertarian pipeline and into the mainstream media; 3) Blame the fake crisis on a fake villain<strong>--</strong>“greedy” state employee unions -- thereby pitting the public against state workers. That way, when Republicans pass new laws destroying teachers and firefighters unions, they’ll come off as heroes defending the public from greedy unions, rather than as sleazy mercenaries carrying out their corporate sponsors’ dirty work.  </p><p>Republicans have used this playbook before, of course, it’s just that Wisconsin finally made us all too aware. Perhaps the most obvious example -- and the least understood -- is from last November, when the same basic strategy was used to wage war against the <a href="http://www.law.uchicago.edu/news/richard-epstein-tsa">TSA’s 55,000 employees</a>, who have been locked in a savage decade-long battle to gain the same collective bargaining rights that employees of all other federal agencies enjoy. Unlike in Wisconsin, the Republican right succeeded in burying the story about the TSA employees’ struggle for collective bargaining rights underneath a sophisticated, well-PR’d campaign demonizing TSA screeners as modern-day Gestapo agents, rapists and child molesters.</p><p>But lost in all the media hysteria vilifying the TSA was the appalling story of labor abuse against the agency’s screeners, a consequence of Republican anti-union policies. If anyone is wondering why collective bargaining rights are so important to public sector workers, look no further than the TSA, whose employees suffer the lowest morale and highest attrition rates of any federal agency, year after year. <a href="http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0104/012304c1.htm">Complaints and lawsuits abound</a>, accusing TSA management of rampant sexual harassment, racism, bullying, wrongful termination and abuse of power. If that didn’t make working in the TSA difficult enough, the recent campaign demonizing TSA agents as modern-day Gestapo-agents turned them into the most hated of all federal employees; passengers, encouraged by incendiary PR, hurled abuses in TSA screeners’ faces, and in a few cases even physically attacked screeners.</p><p>Last November, we published an article in <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/156647/tsastroturf-washington-lobbyists-and-koch-funded-libertarians-behind-tsa-scandal"><em>The Nation</em></a> questioning the media-driven anti-TSA campaign, which we argued smelled of AstroTurf. For one thing, it made little sense that an issue like TSA pat-downs, offensive as they were, could dominate headlines for two straight weeks at a time when America was suffering from unprecedented corruption, lawless evictions of homeowners, unheard-of inequality, and wars that barely make news.</p><p>Sure enough, we uncovered numerous Koch-linked libertarian activists spearheading the campaign to demonize TSA screeners, DC lobbyists specializing in fake-grassroots campaigns setting up “Opt Out” websites while posing as regular Joes, and sleazy Republican hacks who had shown little interest in protecting civil liberties suddenly getting their ACLU on over the TSA’s intrusive pat-downs and “porn scans.” Progressives were understandably drawn into the anti-TSA campaign and hysteria, as the PR campaign cleverly framed it not as a union-bashing operation, but rather, as a purely civil liberties issue. <span> </span></p><p>The anti-TSA campaign was at its media-hysteria peak in the weeks after the Republican election sweep, spurred on by last year’s hero, John Tyner, who refused a pat-down, telling TSA agents, “You touch my junk and I'm going to have you arrested.” Tyner disappeared from the scene after <a href="http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/whole-truth.html">he apologized on his blog, and admitted that he didn't tell the whole story</a> and had actively tried to erase it<span style="font-style: italic;"><em></em></span>(Tyner did not return our call or answer our message requesting comment; see updated note below).<span style="font-size: medium;"><strong>*</strong></span>  But the slack was quickly picked up by waves of anti-TSA campaigns ever since, drawing together an alliance of rabid Christian homophobes and neo-Confederates, warmongering neocons and notorious anti-union lobbying outfits, and even a few blasts-from-the-right-wing-<wbr></wbr>past, like the Rutherford Institute’s John Whitehead, a onetime Christian “reconstructionist” who all but disappeared after running Paula Jones’ sexual-harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Whitehead, whose outfit once <a href="http://www.publiceye.org/ifas/fw/9406/rutherford.html">advocated the death penalty for homosexuals</a>, recently re-emerged in the public eye leading several high-profile lawsuits against the TSA.<span style="font-size: medium;">**</span> <em>(<strong>Editor's Update:</strong>Rutherford Institute has challenged this assertion, and Ames and Levine have written a response posted at the bottom of this article)</em> Bob Barr, onetime Republican Congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate, added the anti-TSA campaign to his client list in his new gig as a DC lobbyist, joining Haiti dictator “Baby” Doc Duvalier as well as for-profit education. Others include the homophobic Public Advocate of the United States, a Reagan-era anti-gay group, whose leader accused the TSA of pursuing a “homosexual agenda” with its enhanced pat-downs and scans, echoing charges by the leader of the Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, who called for a prohibition of <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/17/gay-tsa-workers-secretly-turned-on-patdowns/">gay TSA screeners because</a> they “might get turned on” while patting down passengers.</p><p>To understand why such a diverse range of right-wing Republicans -- many of whom had previously shown little interest in civil liberties, if not outright hostility to them -- would suddenly unite last November to rage against the porn-scanner machine, a brief history on the TSA, unions, and their struggle for collective bargaining rights is in order:</p><p>Until 9/11, the task of managing America’s airport screeners was left to the private sector, which squeezed profits by hiring low-qualified, poorly-trained screeners willing to work for at or near minimum wages, making pre-TSA airport <u><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);"><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fmediamatters.org%2Fresearch%2F201011170030&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNH2pLlcILWbm8zGnDSoM6hD_y0l2Q" target="_blank"><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 204);">screeners among the lowest-paid security workers in the nation, according to one investigation</span></a></span></u>.</p><p>After 9/11, the frightened and traumatized public demanded better security in the form of higher-quality, better-paid federal screeners. The private sector, as in so many instances, could not be trusted to put the public’s interests over the CEOs’ profit interests. But President Bush and the Republicans resisted the public’s demands: They worried less about security, and more about creating a brand new federal agency for airport screeners, whose employees would likely unionize. At a time when most Americans were still too traumatized to pay attention to such seemingly arcane bureaucratic issues, the Bush White House had Iraq invasions and union-busting hot on its mind.</p><p>Their logic then was the same as it is today: If TSA employees are allowed to unionize with collective bargaining rights, it would represent perhaps the single largest pro-unionization drive in decades, adding tens of thousands of dues-paying members to the public sector union rolls, reversing decades of decline and, most importantly, funnel money to pro-labor and predominately Democratic candidates. Former House Majority Leader and current FreedomWorks head Dick Armey, who voted against federalizing airport screeners, <a href="http://www.sptimes.com/News/110401/news_pf/Worldandnation/Bush_may_be_above_fra.shtml">explained in 2001</a>, ''It's all about union membership in a union that imposes compulsory dues that fund their campaigns.” Of course, this is just another classic right-wing anti-union lie: dues aren’t compulsory as they like to allege. But Armey’s fixation on those union dues was real -- the Republicans would rather staff airport security with rent-a-cops and burger-flippers than risk enabling unions to collect dues and spend them on political campaigns.</p><p>Robert Poole, who left the Koch-founded Reason Foundation to serve as President Bush’s top advisor on airport security, laid out the White House’s opposition to federal screeners <a href="http://postimage.org/image/1i9n51o04/">just a few weeks after the terrorist attacks</a>:</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;">“A federal workforce would resist the use of labor-saving technology, object to being reassigned freely, and <i>almost certainly become unionized</i>.” [italics ours]</p><p>Unfortunately for Republicans, the public wasn’t convinced: A<em><a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/5026/americans-want-tighter-airport-security-any-cost.aspx">Time</a></em><a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/5026/americans-want-tighter-airport-security-any-cost.aspx">magazine poll showed</a> that 77% of Americans wanted federal workers in control of airport security. So the Republicans gave in and passed a law federalizing airport and baggage screeners, but with one unusual caveat: no collective bargaining rights for TSA employees, unless their boss, the appointed head of the TSA, gave the green light. Not surprisingly, Bush’s TSA chiefs were as opposed to TSA workers unionizing as Bush himself.</p><p>In early 2003, just as TSA workers were going through the first stages of organizing by the American Federation of Government Employees, the TSA’s boss, James Loy, signed an order “precluding collective bargaining.” Only now, instead of opposing unionized TSA workers on the grounds that they might become a base of Democratic Party support (which was too obviously cynical even for Republicans), Loy parroted the new official line, first put out by Reason’s Robert Poole, <u><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);"><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bizjournals.com%2Fseattle%2Fstories%2F2003%2F01%2F13%2Fdaily1.html&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHUAM4XmYaOrcGR83RuyVSNr8fhIQ" target="_blank"><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 204);">claiming that unionized screeners would threaten national security</span></a></span></u>:</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;"><em>"Mandatory collective bargaining is not compatible with the flexibility required to wage the war against terrorism.</em></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;"><em>…Fighting terrorism demands a flexible workforce that can rapidly respond to threats. That can mean changes in work assignments and other conditions of employment that are not compatible with the duty to bargain with labor unions.”</em></p><p>Attempts to organize the TSA’s nearly 45,000 security screeners -- who make up the majority of the agency's approximately 55,000 employees -- roughly went nowhere all throughout President Bush’s two terms. Even after the Democrats’ 2006 Congressional sweep, they failed to overcome opposition led by Sen. Jim DeMint, who urged <a href="http:// http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/19847?page=44] ">President Bush to veto any Homeland Security</a> bill that included collective bargaining rights for TSA employees, even if a veto meant defunding the Homeland Security Department and shutting it down. <a href="http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/19847">DeMint made no bones about</a> which threat bothered him most; unions or terrorists: </p><p>"Unionizing the 43,000 security screeners at TSA could give labor unions a $17 million annual windfall in the form of new union dues," he said. "This is a hearty payback to the unions for helping Democrats win the past election. These dues can then be kicked back to lawmakers in the form of political contributions without the consent of rank-and-file union members."</p><p>With the GOP blocking all attempts at unionizaton, TSA employees had little recourse and almost no leverage against abuse at the hands of all-powerful TSA managers, whose abuse was clearly encouraged by an atmosphere in which it was clear that TSA employees would not have the same rights and protections as other federal employees. As numerous complaints of sexual harassment, illegal firings, and rampant bullying by TSA management piled up, the agency consistently ranked as suffering from the lowest morale among over 200 federal agencies and the highest turnover, with attrition rates over 10 times higher than other agencies. A <a href="http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1005/100405c1.htm">shocking 30 percent of the workforce</a> reported suffering from illnesses and injuries, a rate six times higher than other federal agency employees.</p><p>In Denver International Airport, <u><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);"><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.9news.com%2Fnews%2Farticle.aspx%3Fstoryid%3D113040%26catid%3D339&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEJW5gFQJcrRBTRtHEVMz3RJuGyPw" target="_blank"><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 204);">over 20 former TSA screeners reported widespread sexual harassment and bullying</span></a></span></u>. TSA worker Ingrid Cartinelle, <a href="http://www.9news.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=113040&amp;catid=339">targeted for harassment</a> by management, found a dead rat in her employee locker, causing her to faint and vomit due to her phobia of rodents. Later, someone smashed her car windshield and spiked her tires, and shortly after that, she was attacked outside her workplace, pepper-sprayed, and dragged up a stairwell by the neck before fellow employees ran to her aid.<b></b>Local police, and later Homeland Security investigated, but came up empty handed --  she filed suit against the TSA. “They were just allowed and permitted to do whatever they wanted to. To bully you, harass you, everything you could think of, they did," Cartinelle told journalists. </p><p>In 2004, <u><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);"><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kitv.com%2Fnews%2F5073429%2Fdetail.html&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNG9lS54hlq5SCk3ZvLyN5YAuHyfSg" target="_blank"><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 204);">four top TSA managers at Seattle-Tacoma International were fired </span></a></span></u>following an investigation into complaints of mismanagement and harsh working conditions. That same year, in Spokane International Airport, three top TSA managers were removed following a petition that TSA employees sent to Sen. Patty Murray, complaining that TSA "leaders intimidated workers and engaged in personal and unprofessional relationships with others." At Pittsburgh International Airport in 2005, the top three TSA officials were forced to resign after being investigated for sexual harassment, fraud, and intimidation. One screener told PBS Newshour in 2003, “When you have a supervisor go in front of 200 employees and tell them he's looking for blonde-hair leads and supervisors, I have problems. I don't have blonde hair. I have graduated from college. There are no promotions for people of color.”</p><p>In Bush’s final year in office, the TSA inspector general issued an alarming report saying that <u><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);"><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Ftravel%2Fflights%2F2008-06-24-screeners_N.htm&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHKzJFYdB5K4xiETqSI6iVudZJUvQ" target="_blank"><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 204);">employee morale was so rock-bottom that it was negatively impacting airport security</span></a></span></u>.  </p><p>A week before the 2008 presidential elections, Barack Obama sent a letter to AFGE union leaders pledging to support their drive to unionize the TSA if elected president. But as with so many issues, President Obama’s support turned out to be far more tepid than candidate Obama’s, while in the Republican camp, opposition hardened under the leadership of two Tea Party heroes, Jim DeMint and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah.  </p><p>Rep. Chaffetz's first piece of legislation, <a href="http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/article_ebcd67c8-a2fe-5128-868a-cb19d2137144.html">which he introduced in April 2009</a>, was a bill to limit the use of TSA body-imaging scanners on the grounds that it they were an “invasion of privacy.” Chaffetz’s bill attracted the support of the ACLU and Democrats from across the aisle. As soon as he was done crusading against the TSA’s civil liberties violations, Chaffetz hopped on a plane to Guantanamo Bay on a fact-finding mission, and reported that civil liberties were thriving like never before in the extra-legal internment camp: “Guantanamo Bay has been inaccurately portrayed as a site of  ongoing detainee torture and mistreatment – nothing could be further  from the truth,” Chaffetz wrote in an open letter to President Obama. “[C]ontrary to popular belief, waterboarding never happened at Guantanamo Bay.” As proof, Chaffetz’s letter cheerfully noted that Guantanamo inmates “have access to hundreds of movies such as Oceans 13, Liar Liar, and Finding Nemo.” Inmates were so pampered that even their hunger strikes tasted delicious: “We go to great lengths to see that their nutritional needs are met, even offering a variety of flavored liquid nutrients to detainees participating in hunger strikes.”  </p><p>In September 2009, shortly after Chaffetz voted to prohibit TSA employees from unionizing, he made headlines in a bizarre airport incident in which he claimed he had been targeted for retaliatory harassment by Salt Lake City Airport screeners. But Chaffetz’s story started to fall apart after local news reported that Chaffetz himself acted aggressively and “escalated the situation” by cursing a TSA screener, throwing his card at one, and grabbing a <a href="http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&amp;sid=8037216">TSA employee’s badge</a>. But that did not stop Chaffetz: Last November, in the peak of the anti-TSA hysteria, the Congressman seized on a completely false story pushed by ultra-rightwing Hollywood clown Andrew Breitbart and the Drudge Report alleging that the TSA had forcibly strip-searched a young boy. Despite the fact that the boy’s father confirmed that it was not true, Chaffetz wouldn’t let it die, going <u><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">as far as calling for a Congressional investigation</span></u>.</p><p>Meanwhile in the Senate, Tea Party “king” Jim DeMint single-handedly staved off the threat of unionization by filibustering Obama’s nominees to head the TSA, ensuring that the agency created to prevent another 9/11 remained <a href="http://://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/12/28/v-print/81356/whos-running-the-tsa-no-one-thanks.html">headless for nearly 1-1/2 years</a>. Obama’s first nominee, Errol Southers, was held up by DeMint throughout all of 2009 because Southers refused to come out against collective bargaining.</p><p>It was only when the “underwear bomber” tried blowing up a passenger jet over Detroit that the TSA, and its lack of a leader, suddenly became an issue. But in a <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/28/AR2009122802131.html">strange twist of logic</a>, DeMint used the occasion to prove his point, telling reporters that the underwear bomber was “a perfect example of why the Obama administration should not unionize the TSA.” Rather than apologizing for keeping the TSA leaderless that year, he scolded Obama to “put the interests of American travelers ahead of organized labor.”</p><p>Like Reason’s Robert Poole, FreedomWorks’ Dick Armey, and numerous other right-wing Republicans and libertarians, DeMint played the “national security threat” card to justify his opposition to collective bargaining rights for TSA screeners, claiming it would "significantly undermine TSA's ability to respond to threats and protect the nation."</p><p>It’s a false line of reasoning: Other law enforcement agencies within the Department of Homeland Security, including Customs and Border Protection guards, are unionized, as are police department employees across the nation. The real threat to security, of course, comes from the savage workplace conditions that TSA screeners endure. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), who brought this issue before Congress in 2009, <a href="http://www.9news.com/rss/story.aspx?storyid=113127">said</a>, "If you have someone stabbing you in the back, if you have sex harassment charges against you, your mind is not going to be on the job. And this is a job where you have to be alert. All the time."<br /><br />The only people who saw unions as a threat to their existence were, of course, the Republicans. As if to illustrate this, one of Tom Ridge’s <a href="http://www.internationalist.org/ilwulockout1002.html">earliest acts in office</a> at the newly-created Homeland Security Department in 2002 was to denounce a Longshore workers’ strike in Oakland as a threat to national security, and demand they call off the strike immediately.</p><p>But DeMint, to whom David Koch personally awarded a “George Washington Prize” for leading the fight to kill Obama's health insurance reform plan, laid out the stakes in his 2009 book Saving Freedom: “Labor unions are one of the most powerful forces in Washington, and they support Democrats almost exclusively,” he wrote. Cheerfully noting that private sector unions have long since declined to the point of near-irrelevancy, DeMint ominously observes, “more than 35 percent of government workers are members of a union.” That means union dues for Democratic candidates, and in return, “The Democratic Party reciprocates by shamelessly promoting the union agenda in Congress.”</p><p>Just as Bush and the rest of the GOP prioritized politics over security concerns in 2001, DeMint chose to hold up and eventually defeat Obama’s first two nominees, both African-Americans, to head the TSA. It wasn’t until Obama nominated someone with solid conservative credentials -- the FBI’s number two, John Pistole -- that DeMint finally relented. Pistole was a crapshoot. Neither labor nor the anti-labor right was pleased, yet neither side knew exactly where he would come down on unionization.</p><p>And then last November, everything suddenly came to a head. First, the Republicans swept Congressional elections, and they wasted little time in setting the new agenda. Then, on November 12, after years of setbacks and disappointments, the Federal Labor Relations Board issued a surprise ruling (even to labor organizers) finally giving TSA employees the green light to unionize.</p><p>But Labor barely had time to celebrate: the very next day, November 13, Matt Drudge posted and promoted the famous “Don’t Touch My Junk” video, which quickly turned into the media sensation of the season, hogging headlines for nearly two straight weeks. Almost no one found it strange that the cause of civil liberties was suddenly taken up, in almost perfect unison, by the whole range of right-wing waterboarding-cheerleaders like Glenn Beck, George Will and his colleague Charles Krauthammer, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/18/AR2010111804494.html]">who declared</a>:</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;">“Don’t touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man,  the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter...This time you have gone too far, Big Bro'. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don't touch my junk.”  </p><p>Indeed.</p><p>In hindsight, now that we understand the Republican playbook and their political goals, what happened last November makes a lot more sense. It all starts with a political goal: prevent the TSA screeners from unionizing. The strategy: 1) concoct and magnify fake government oppression at the hands of the TSA;  2) Demonize and blame the crisis on your political target, TSA screeners, so that the public turns against them; 3) Push and PR the message, focusing on valid but largely trivial aspects of the problem; and 4) Now you can appear, not as cruel union-buster, but as a hero defending the public.</p><p>The reason why last November’s anti-TSA AstroTurf campaign was so successful was because it  was based on valid criticisms of TSA policies and tapped into real anger, while deviously redirecting that anger against an innocent target. The con succeeded in duping many progressives, who allowed themselves to be caught up in the euphoria of what seemed like a genuine mass-conversion among right-wingers to the cause of civil libertarianism. But over on the Republican side, there was never a doubt about what the anti-TSA campaign was about -- even if they couldn't get their numbers straight -- as this blog post in Erik Erickson’s website RedState, headlined “<u><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);"><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.redstate.com%2Flaborunionreport%2F2010%2F11%2F17%2Ftsa-unionization-an-32-million-annual-gift-to-union-bosses%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEHn6i7LllQNRyXYzP1D3r-w3yIcQ" target="_blank"><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 204);">TSA Unionization: A $30 Million Annual Gift to Union Bosses</span></a></span></u>” shows:</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;">In a significant victory for federal employee unions, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided Friday that Transportation Security Administration staffers will be allowed to vote on union representation. The decision clears the way for a campaign by the government’s two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, to represent some 50,000 transportation security officers.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;">Here’s some informal statistics for you:</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;">Number of TSA employees eligible for unionization: 50,000</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;">·         TSA budget for FY 2010: $7.8 billion</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;">·         Estimated Union Dues TSA unionization will provide union bosses at $50 per month:$2,500,000 per month or $30,000,000 per year.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;">·         Number of Americans whose Fourth Amendment rights have allegedly been violated:Thousands and still counting.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-left: 0.5in; line-height: normal;">·         NUMBER OF TERRORISTS CAUGHT BY THE TSA: 0</p><p>Unfortunately for the union-busters and their hired DC operatives working the media, the “grassroots” outrage against the TSA’s screeners, which was supposed to take shape in a much-hyped  Thanksgiving Holiday “Opt-Out” campaign of mass civil disobedience in airports across the nation—a kind of libertarian “Days of Rage”—never materialized as promised, leaving countless journalists looking foolish and puzzled. The media regurgitated a well-oiled PR message promising mass spontaneous people’s action against the “police state.” Instead, not a single airport experienced anything remotely newsworthy or unusual; it was as though the entire campaign was a hoax. A hoax that the media showed absolutely no curiosity in recognizing or solving: For two weeks, every major television and media outlet talked up this alleged grassroots anti-government rage sweeping the country, a tidal wave of liberty about to crash into America’s security checkpoints. But nothing happened; and no one asked the <a href="http://www.kolotv.com/news/headlines/Airport_Protest_Never_Takes_Off_Few_Delays_Seen_11049327">most obvious question</a>: “Was the outrage even real, or did the media get played?”</p><p>Now we know: the media, and the country, got played.</p><p>Fortunately for TSA employees, this story ends on a marginally less depressing note. John Pistole, Obama’s TSA chief, finally granted the TSA workforce the right to unionize. However, Pistole’s order, like so many Obama Administration policies, barely qualifies as an improvement: the TSA’s union will only be allowed to negotiate peripheral issues such as shift bids, awards, transfers, and uniform allowances. Unlike other federal employees, the TSA union will still be prohibited from negotiating more important matters like disciplinary standards and job qualifications. As has been the pattern for decades, the Democrats are granting labor the bare minimum promised.</p><p>Employees voted <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2011-04-20/us/tsa.union.vote_1_union-representation-afge-runoff-election?_s=PM:US">overwhelmingly to unionize this April</a> -- 84% said “yes,” despite the restrictions. There will be a second round of voting beginning in May and closing June 23 to decide between the two unions vying to represent TSA employees -- the AFGE and the smaller National Treasury Employees’ Union.</p><p>__</p><p><strong><em>*NOTE 1--FROM THE AUTHORS:</em></strong><em>“To those of you who feel duped, I apologize”—so writes John Tyner in a contrite blog post headlined “</em><a href="http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/whole-truth.html"><em>The ‘Whole’ Truth</em></a><em>”  dated November 30, 2010. A week earlier, he was the biggest media sensation in America, freeing us from state tyranny; by the time he apologized to America, America had already lost interest and moved on.</em></p><p><em>Last Thursday, we published an</em><a href="https://exiledonline.com/did-you-fall-for-it-americas-outrage-over-tsa-porn-scanners-was-right-wing-pr-to-prevent-workers-from-unionizing/"><em>article documenting</em></a><em>how last November’s strange anti-TSA hysteria was just the latest and most visible chapter in a decade-long corporate-sponsored rightwing war against public sector labor. Their goal: to</em><a href="http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/glenn-beck/transcript/while-egypt-fire-tsa-unionizing"><em>prevent TSA workers from unionizing.</em></a> <em>Our article was a follow-up to an earlier</em><a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;ved=0CBkQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thenation.com%2Farticle%2F156647%2Ftsastroturf-washington-lobbyists-and-koch-funded-libertarians-behind-tsa-scandal&amp;ei=BtG7Tdj9LceEtgfpiZm4BQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNESXzhg1jFMMqlEMWSnBJ7Q-KyTGw&amp;sig2=zvV1wdyZGd2B4FK5Wj1dpA"><em>article in The Nation</em></a><em>, which triggered a vicious smear campaign to tarnish our integrity and discredit our reporting. This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced this when exposing rightwing corporate-backed Astroturf campaigns. The exact same sort of</em><a href="http://exiledonline.com/cnbc-bitch-slaps-santelli-into-line-freedomworks-admits-it-organized-grassroots-tea-parties-jon-stewart-cancels-santelli-megan-mcardle-queefs-on-our-founding-fathers/"><em>smear-campaign</em></a><em>was waged against our February 2009 investigative article</em><a href="http://exiledonline.com/dylan-ratigan-makes-it-official-mark-ames-yasha-levine-broke-the-koch-brothers-takeover-of-america/"><em>exposing the Tea Party</em></a><em>as a fake-grassroots movement sponsored by the</em><a href="http://www.alternet.org/media/129656"><em>Koch Brothers</em></a><em>and FreedomWorks.</em></p><p><em>In this latest article on the TSA for AlterNet, we not only provided overwhelming evidence that the anti-TSA campaign was just the latest chapter in a decade-long Republican war to prevent TSA employees from unionizing, but we also reported a shocking confession by John Tyner—the supposedly innocent bystander who fought back against the TSA Gestapo and became the unofficial spokesman of the anti-TSA movement—in which he admitted to deceiving the public and the media. Even more shocking, on the same day he posted his famous “don’t touch my junk” TSA video, Tyner destroyed evidence that would have exposed him, because he feared that if he didn’t, the public wouldn’t believe his “don’t touch my junk” story with the TSA.</em><em>Even though Tyner has already admitted to concealing his previous posts and "duping" his audience, nevertheless, the same sleazy collection of hired PR flaks, libertarians, and others invested in the fake anti-TSA campaign (including some who claim to be progressives) are resorting to smear tactics all over again. At this point, it’s impossible for them to claim they innocently fell for Tyner’s TSA story, or the scores of other</em><a href="http://www.koco.com/NEWS/25970715/detail.html"><em>faked TSA incidents</em></a><em>across the country.</em></p><p><em>So let us get a few things straight for the record:</em></p><p><em><strong>* The Nation did not apologize for our November article on the TSA; it apologized personally to Tyner.</strong> The Nation did not call into question our reporting or our facts, nor did The Nation retract our article or take it down. That’s because our reporting was solid and well-sourced. Rather, the Nation apologized to Tyner—before Tyner confessed that he’d deceived us, The Nation and the public.</em></p><p><em><strong>*</strong> Tyner claimed he had not planned in any way to make a scene or provoke the TSA. He even</em><a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40276063/ns/msnbc_tv/"><em>deceived Lawrence O’Donnell point-blank on live television:</em></a></p><blockquote><p><em>O‘DONNELL:  So wait—so you—were you looking for trouble, John Tyner, when you went through that?</em></p><p><em>TYNER:  No.</em></p></blockquote><p><em>But after Tyner was caught hiding and destroying evidence that he’d deceived the public, he confessed:</em></p><blockquote><p><em>about two weeks prior to my </em><a href="http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html"><em>encounter with the TSA</em></a><em>at the San Diego airport, I wrote a blog entry about the TSA. <strong>Don’t bother looking for it because I deleted it prior to posting my recollection of the events and the accompanying video. I don’t have any copies of it, either.</strong></em></p><p><em>…When I posted my account and video of my encounter at San Diego, I also deleted the post in question. <strong>I thought that no one would believe that my encounter was not a set up if they knew…</strong></em></p><p><em><strong>To those of you who feel duped, I apologize.</strong></em></p></blockquote><p><em><strong>*</strong>Tyner concealed his extremist rightwing ideology by posing as a progressive-libertarian. Since then, Tyner has made common cause with John Birchers and Neo-Confederate conspiracy theorist groups which have been denounced by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Specifically:</em></p><ul><li><em>Tyner has an</em><a href="http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/tyner8.1.1.html"><em>agreement</em></a><em>with the far-right libertarian site LewRockwell.com to reprint Tyner’s blog entries. The</em><a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2003/summer/into-the-mainstream?page=0,1"><em>SPLC has singled out</em></a><em>the Alabama-based LewRockwell.com site on several occasions in its</em><a href="http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2009/12/14/lew-rockwell-website-warns-of-coming-us-civil-war/"><em>Hate Watch</em></a><em>and its Intelligence reports, criticizing the site for regularly espousing Neo-Confederate propaganda “on the rightwing fringe”</em></li><li><em>In his new home on the rightwing fringe, Tyner also positively</em><a href="http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/tyner8.1.1.htm"><em>cites</em></a><em>the works of ultra-rightwing John Birch Society blogger</em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Engineered-Decline-William-Norman/dp/1881919102"><em>William Grigg</em></a><em>, whose books have argued that Mexicans are trying to conquer and annex the American Southwest, and it’s all part of a</em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Engineered-Decline-William-Norman/dp/1881919102"><em>UN-Ford Foundation plot to subjugate America to a one-world socialist government.</em></a><em>Tyner hat-tips Grigg in one blog, comparing his epithets for government workers (“thugs”) to his hero Griggs’ epithet (“tax-feeders”).</em></li></ul><p><em>* Tyner had portrayed himself as pro-gay marriage and drug legalization one of the main points seized upon by his supporters in the progressive/libertarian community. Here, for example, is </em><a href="http://www.salon.com/news/media_criticism/index.html?story=/opinion/greenwald/2010/11/24/tyner"><em>Glenn Greenwald</em></a><em>attacking our first article by way of playing Tyner’s apparently-honorable pro-gay rights:</em></p><blockquote><p><em>As for his standing accused by The Nation of suspicion on the grounds of his avowed libertarianism, consider what he wrote several weeks before the TSA incident.  In a post responding to this question — “When’s the last time you were seriously inconvenienced or injured by something that big government did?” – </em><a href="http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/10/just-hold-on-second.html" target="_blank"><em>Tyner wrote</em></a><em>:</em></p><p style="padding-left: 30px;"><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act" target="_blank"><em>Gay</em></a><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_ask,_don%27t_tell" target="_blank"><em>rights</em></a><em>[infringements], </em><a href="http://www.consumertraveler.com/today/tsa-workers-being-fried-by-radiation/" target="_blank"><em>TSA</em></a><a href="http://www.google.com/images?q=tsa+scanner" target="_blank"><em>body scanners</em></a><em>, </em><a href="https://www.checkpointusa.org/blog/" target="_blank"><em>highway checkpoints</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act" target="_blank"><em>the PATRIOT Act</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/01/local/la-me-wiretap1-2010apr01" target="_blank"><em>warrantless</em></a><a href="http://www.dailytech.com/Obama+Admin+Council+Pushes+to+Reinforce+Domestic+Wiretapping/article19947.htm" target="_blank"><em>wiretaps</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/04/07/assassinations"><em>extra-judicial assassinations</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/21/AR2009052104045.html" target="_blank"><em>indefinite detentions</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://mises.org/daily/3687" target="_blank"><em>inflation</em></a><em>, etc. Don’t tell me that (some of) these don’t affect me.  <strong>When one person’s rights are trampled, everybody’s are</strong>, and that’s just at the federal level.</em></p><p><em>What a right-wing monster!  If only Democratic Party leaders — who support most of the serious rights infringements he condemns — were this monstrous.</em></p></blockquote><p><em>Glenn may want to take another look, because this year, Tyner has come out of the states’-rights closet to declare </em><a href="http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2011/03/why-democracy-continued.html"><em>gay marriage a states-rights issue.</em></a><em>He’s no longer posing as a Glenn Greenwald-friendly progressive-libertarian; instead, meet the old 50′s-era states’ rights George Wallace-r: “The point was not to advocate for legalization of gay marriage or marijuana use. Rather, it was to point out that democracy is not the cure-all that people believe it to be. <strong>Democracy will always be a tool by which a majority will oppress a minority and ultimately the individual.</strong>“ Yes, like Strom Thurmond and John C Calhoun, Tyner is also against democracy.</em></p><p><em>___</em></p><p><em>**NOTE 2:</em><strong>Editor's Note:</strong> On Tuesday May 3, a lawyer for the <a href="http://www.rutherford.org/">Rutherford Institute</a> sent <em>AlterNet</em>a letter rejecting Ames and Levine's assertion in this article that Rutherford Institute president John Whitehead was a one-time Christian Reconstructionist, and that his outfit had "once advocated the death penalty for homosexuals." The lawyer wrote, "Neither The Rutherford Institute nor Mr. Whitehead, its president, have ever subscribed to Christian 'reconstructionist' ideologies. ... And the outrageous assertion that the Institute 'once advocated the death penalty for homosexuals" is clearly a complete fabrication." The lawyer went on to describe Mr. Whitehead as a "vocal opponent of the death penalty" who "has never advocated imposition of the death penalty on any person or persons," and that through the Rutherford Institute, Whitehead has provided pro bono legal representation for homosexual clients.</p><p><em>Ames and Levine have written a response:</em></p><p>There are so many credible sources backing our statement in our article characterizing John Whitehead as “a onetime Christian ‘reconstructionist’… whose outfit once advocated the death penalty for homosexuals” that they are too numerous to list. Here we provide a small sample of sources which repeat, expand on, and/or support this:<br /><br />-From American University Professor Alan Lichtman’s book <em>White Protestant Nation</em>, a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critic’s Award for Non-Fiction: “A movement known as Christian Reconstruction or Dominion Theology, led by Rousas John Rushdoony of the Chalcedon Foundation, Gary North of the Institute for Christian Economics, and John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, extended Schaffer’s absolutist thinking. Dominion leaders aimed to make America a Christian nation. They desired to ‘take back government from the state and put it in the hands of Christians.’ This meant replacing secular ‘self-law’ with ‘God’s law,’ which meted out harsh punishments, including death penalty for adulterers and homosexuals.” [pp 349, Atlantic Monthly Press, hardcover edition]<br /><br />-David Brock’s bestselling book from 2002, <em>Blinded By The Right</em>: “When various settlement offers were rejected by [Paula] Jones [the woman who sued President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment], Davis and Cammarata quit the case and were replaced by lawyers working with the right-wing Rutherford Institute, which had been founded with the support of Christian Right reconstructionist R. J. Rushdoony, who was an early board member.* …The Reverend R. J. Rushdoony believed that civil law should be replaced by Biblical law ‘to suppress, control, and/or eliminate the ungodly.’ He advocated the death penalty for abortion, adultery, sodomy, and incest as well as for blasphemers and ‘propagators of false doctrines.’ Rushdoony was also a Holocaust denier.” [pp 201. Three Rivers Press. 2002 paperback edition.]<br /><br />-Jeff Sharlet’s book <em>The Family</em>, a 2008 <em>New York Times</em> bestseller: “John W. Whitehead, a constitutional lawyer who counts Rushdoony as one of his greatest influences [pp. 349]…Rushdoony is best known as the founder of Christian Reconstructionism, a politically defunct but subtly influential school of thought that drifted so far to the right that it dropped off the edge of the world, disavowed as ‘scary’ even by Jerry Falwell. Most notably, Rushdoony proposed the death penalty for an ever-expanding subset of sinners, starting with gay men and growing to include blasphemers and badly behaved children.” [pp.347. Harper Perennial. 2008 paperback.]<br /><br />-Mark Crispin Miller’s 2004 book, published by W.W. Norton, <em>Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney’s New World Order</em>: “John Whitehead, an ex-student of Rushdoony's, and introduced by him once at the council as a man ‘chosen by God,’ directs the Rutherford Foundation, a legal arm of the Chalcedon Foundation (which until his death was run by Rushdoony and funded by Howard Ahmanson). Rutherford's important mission is to fight the legal battles on behalf of Reconstructionism.” [pp. 263]<br /><br />Frederick Clarkson, journalist, author and activist, in a chapter from the 1999 book <em>Eyes Right: Challenging The Rightwing Backlash</em> edited by Chip Berlet: “The Rutherford Institute’s John Whitehead was a student of both Schaeffer and Rushdoony, and credits them as the two major influences on his thought. [I]t is not surprising that Whitehead goes to great lengths to deny that he is a Reconstructionist. Rushdoony, introducing Whitehead at a Reconstructionist conference, called him a man ‘chosen by God.’ Rushdoony then spoke of ‘our plans, through Rutherford, to fight the battle against statism and the freedom of Christ's Kingdom.’" AND “The Rutherford Institute was founded as a legal project of R. J. Rushdoony's Chalcedon Foundation, with Rushdoony and fellow Chalcedon director Howard Ahmanson on its original board of directors. Whitehead credits Rushdoony with providing the outline for his first book, which he researched in Rushdoony's library. ” [p.69]<br /><br />-Chris Hedges, writing about Whitehead’s mentor and partner in the Rutherford Institute in his 2006 book, <em>American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America</em>: “The racist and brutal intolerance of the intellectual godfathers of today's Christian Reconstructionism is a chilling reminder of the movement's lust for repression. The Institutes of Biblical Law by R. J. Rushdoony, written in 1973, is the most important book for the dominionist movement. Rushdoony calls for a Christian society that is harsh, unforgiving and violent. The death penalty is to be imposed not only for offenses such as rape, kidnapping and murder, but also for adultery, blasphemy, homosexuality, astrology, incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, ‘un-chastity before marriage.’ The world is to be subdued and ruled by a Christian United States.  Rushdoony dismissed the widely accepted estimate of 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust as an inflated figure, and his theories on race often echo those found in Nazi eugenics, in which there are higher and lower forms of human beings. Those considered by the Christian state to be immoral and incapable of reform are to be exterminated.” [pp.12-13]</p><p>--The Southern Poverty Law Center's magazine <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2005/winter/casting-stones"><em>Intelligence Report</em> called Rushdoony</a> "a racist and a holocaust denier." The SPLC <a href="http:// http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/the-hard-liners">describes the Rushdoony-founded Chalcedon Foundation</a>, for which the Rutherford Institute was set up to act as its legal arm: “Rushdoony supported the death penalty for homosexuals, among other ‘abominators.’ He also opposed what he called ‘unequal yoking’ — interracial marriage — and ‘enforced integration,’ insisting that “[a]ll men are NOT created equal before God” (the Bible, he explained, ‘recognizes that some people are by nature slaves’). Rushdoony also denied the Holocaust, saying the murder of 6 million Jews was ‘false witness.’”</p><p> --Another co-founder of the Rutherford Institute, Rushdoony’s son-in-law, Gary North, has been described as a “bloodthirsty theologian” who “may actually be a psychopath” by Jeff Sharlet in his 2008 book The Family: “North […] may actually be a psychopath—he favors stoning as a method of execution because it would double as a ‘community project.’” [pp.348]. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Gary North advocates hiding the true agenda of the Christian Reconstructionist movement for obvious reasons: “Theonomists, and especially Reconstructionists, know their views are an anathema to most Americans. Reconstructionist ideologue Gary North, in fact, has written that Reconstructionists need ‘the noise of contemporary events’ to hide their goals. ‘If [non-believers] fully understood the long-term threat to their civilization that our ideas pose, they ... would be wise to take steps to crush us.’” (<a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2001/spring/confederates-in-the-pulpit)">“Confederates on the Pulpit” SPLC Intelligence Report. Spring 2001</a>).<br /><br />-From a <a href="http://www.publiceye.org/ifas/fw/9406/rutherford.html">Public Research Associates article</a>: <em>"Whitehead believes, according to an article by Martin Mawyer published in the May 1983 issue of the <cite>Moral Majority Report</cite>, 'That courts must place themselves under the authority of God's law.' Mawyer's article explains, 'The Institute states that 'all of civil affairs and government, including law, should be based upon principles found in the Bible.' That statement is a simplified definition of Christian Reconstruction, an important movement within evangelical Christianity.</em>"</p><p>-<span style="font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">"Rushdoony reportedly helped Whitehead found the Rutherford Institute, and ha[d] been a director of the Institute and a participant in its speakers bureau." -- </span><span style="font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">(Source of Information: The religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance &amp; Pluralism in America, A publication of the Anti-Defamation League. (1994)  pp. 111)</span></p><p>-Bill Moyers, interviewing <a href="http:// http://mainstreambaptist.blogspot.com/2010/06/christian-reconstructionism-in-video.html?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MainstreamBaptist+%28Mainstream+Baptist">R J Rushdoony-- transcript</a>:<br /><br />Moyers: You've written that the Bible calls for the death penalty, and I'm just running down a variety of things as you can see. You've written that the Bible calls for the death penalty of some 15 crimes: rape, sodomy, adultery.<br />Rushdoony: Adultery because in the Bible the basic institution is the family. There's no law of treason against the state. The Bible doesn't even imagine anything remotely like that. But the basic institution is the family. And so, several of the death penalties are associated with the family and its life.<br />Moyers: So adultery was considered a theft of the family.<br />Rushdoony: It was, yes, it was treason to the family.<br />Moyers: Homosexuality.<br />Rushdoony: Yes, it was treason to the family.<br />Moyers: Worthy of the death sentence?<br />Rushdoony: What?<br />Moyers: Worthy of the death sentence?.<br />Rushdoony: Yes.<br />Moyers: Deserving of the death sentence?<br />Rushdoony: Yes, that's what Paul says.</p><p>...<br /><br />Moyers: But you would re-instate the death penalty for some of these or all of these Biblical crimes?<br />Rushdoony: I wouldn't---<br />Moyers: But the reconstructive society--<br />Rushdoony: I'm saying that this is what God requires. I'm not saying that everything in the Bible, I like. Some of it rubs me the wrong way. But I'm simply saying, this is what God requires. This is what God says is justice. Therefore, I don't feel I have a choice.<br />Moyers: And the agents of God would carry out the laws.<br />Rushdoony: The civil government would, on these things.<br />Moyers: So you would have a civil government, based upon--<br />Rushdoony: Oh yes. I'm not an anarchist. I'm close to being a libertarian. But--<br />Moyers: But the civil law would be based on the biblical law. And so you'd have a civil government carrying out a religious mandate.<br />Rushdoony: Oh yes. ...</p><p>__</p><p><br />We will be happy to answer any further questions. Meanwhile, we would like the Rutherford Institute to explain why it failed to successfully challenge the statements made by the authors in passages cited above.<br /> <br /><em>Mark Ames and Yasha Levine</em></p><p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Read more of Mark Ames and Yasha Levine at <a href="http://exiledonline.com">eXiledonline.com</a>. Mark Ames is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>.</p> </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '666224'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=666224" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 21:00:00 -0700 Mark Ames, Yasha Levine, AlterNet 666224 at https://img.alternet.org Media Economy Media News & Politics The Right Wing propaganda union civil liberties pr unionization tsa tyner How the Koch Brothers Indoctrinate Their Employees with Right-Wing Anti-Worker Propaganda https://img.alternet.org/story/150681/how_the_koch_brothers_indoctrinate_their_employees_with_right-wing_anti-worker_propaganda <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Before the landmark Citizens&#039; United ruling, the kind of corporate propaganda Koch Industries is using wouldn&#039;t have been legal.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> <meta charset="utf-8" /><em>The following article first appeared </em><a target="_blank" href="http://goog_786094772/"><em>on the Nation</em></a><a target="_blank" href="http://www.thenation.com/"><em>.com.</em></a><em> For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its </em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.thenation.com/nation-email-subscription-center"><em>email newsletters here.</em></a> </p> <p>On the eve of the November midterm elections, Koch Industries sent an urgent letter to most of its 50,000 employees advising them whom to vote for and warning them about the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country should they choose to vote otherwise. <meta charset="utf-8" /></p> <div> <p>The Nation obtained the <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/160064/koch-industries-2010-election-packet">Koch Industries election packet for Washington State</a>—which included a cover letter from its president and COO, David Robertson; a list of Koch-endorsed state and federal candidates; and an issue of the company newsletter, Discovery, full of alarmist right-wing propaganda.</p> <p>Legal experts interviewed for this story called the blatant corporate politicking highly unusual, although no longer skirting the edge of legality, thanks to last year’s Citizens UnitedSupreme Court decision, which granted free speech rights to corporations.</p> <p>“Before Citizens United, federal election law allowed a company like Koch Industries to talk to officers and shareholders about whom to vote for, but not to talk with employees about whom to vote for,” explains Paul M. Secunda, associate professor of law at Marquette University. But according to Secunda, who recently wrote in The Yale Law Journal Online about the effects of Citizens United on political coercion in the workplace, the decision knocked down those regulations. “Now, companies like Koch Industries are free to send out newsletters persuading their employees how to vote. They can even intimidate their employees into voting for their candidates.” Secunda adds, “It’s a very troubling situation.”</p> <p>The Kochs were major supporters of the Citizens United case; they were also chief sponsors of the Tea Party and major backers of the anti-“Obamacare” campaign. Through their network of libertarian think tanks and policy institutes, they have been major drivers of unionbusting campaigns in Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere.</p> <p>“This sort of election propaganda seems like a new development,” says UCLA law professor Katherine Stone, who specializes in labor law and who reviewed the Koch Industries election packet for The Nation. “Until Citizens United, this sort of political propaganda was probably not permitted. But after the Citizens United decision, I can imagine it’ll be a lot more common, with restrictions on corporations now lifted.”</p> <p>The election packet starts with a letter from Robertson dated October 4, 2010. It read: “As Koch company employees, we have a lot at stake in the upcoming election. Each of us is likely to be affected by the outcome on Nov. 2. That is why, for the first time ever, we are mailing our newest edition of Discovery and several other helpful items to the home address of every U.S. employee” [emphasis added].</p> <p>For most Koch employees, the “helpful items” included a list of Koch-approved candidates, which was presented on a separate page labeled “Elect to Prosper.” A brief introduction to the list reads: “The following candidates in your state are supported by Koch companies and KOCHPAC, the political action committee for Koch companies. We believe these candidates will best advance policies supporting economic freedom.”</p> <p>What the Kochs mean by “economic freedom” is explained on the next page. As the mailer makes clear, Koch Industries tailored its election propaganda to the state level, rather than focusing on national elections. Of the 19 candidates that Koch Industries recommended in its Washington State list, 16 were Republicans. The three Democratic candidates approved by the Kochs included two members of the “Roadkill Caucus,” Washington’s version of the conservative Blue Dogs.</p> <p>Only two of the 19 races on the list were for national office, and in both cases Koch Industries backed Tea Party-friendly Republicans: Dino Rossi, an antilabor candidate, who lost to incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Murray; and Jaime Herrera-Beutler, who ran in the Republican primary as a moderate, but who came out recently as a Tea Party radical, much to her constituency’s surprise.</p> <p>After guiding employees on how they should vote, the mailer devoted the rest of the material to the sort of indoctrination one would expect from an old John Birch Society pamphlet (the Koch brothers’ father, Fred Koch, was a founding member of the JBS). It offers an apocalyptic vision of the company’s free-market struggle for liberty against the totalitarian forces of European Union bureaucrats and deficit-spending statists.</p> <p>The newsletter begins with an unsigned editorial preaching familiar Tea Party themes, repackaged as Koch Industry corporate philosophy:</p> <blockquote> <p>For more than 40 years, Koch Industries has openly and consistently supported the principles of economic freedom and market-based policies. Unfortunately, these values and principled point of view are now being strongly opposed by many politicians (and their media allies) who favor ever-increasing government…. Even worse, recent government actions are threatening to bankrupt the country…. And the facts are that the overwhelming majority of the American people will be much worse off if government overspending is allowed to bankrupt the country.</p></blockquote> <p>Further into the company newsletter is an article headlined “What’s a Business to Do?” It portrays corporate titans like the Kochs as freedom-fighting underdogs, modern-day Sakharovs and Mandelas targeted for repression by Big Government statists: “Citizens who are openly critical of the European Union bureaucracy in Brussels or the out-of-control government of the United States are being shouted down by politicians, government officials and their media and other allies.”</p> <p>In this scenario, Big Government wants to muzzle the Kochs before they can spread their message to the people. That message comes down to preaching the benefits of lower wages:</p> <blockquote> <p>If the government insists that someone should be paid $50 per hour in wages and benefits, but that person only creates $30 worth of value, no one will prosper for long…. Anything that undermines the mobility of labor, such as policies that make it more expensive and difficult to change where people are employed, also increases unemployment…. Similar policies that distort the labor market—such as minimum wage laws and mandated benefits—contribute to unemployment.</p></blockquote> <p>Easily the strangest and most disturbing article of all comes from the head of Koch Industries himself, Charles Koch, who offers an election-season history lesson to his employees. Koch’s essay sets out to rank the best and worst US presidents in terms of their economic policies. Charles—who with his brother David is worth $44 billion, putting them fifth on the 2010 Forbes 400 list—warns his readers that his history lesson may surprise them. And to his credit, Koch doesn’t disappoint.</p> <p>Koch glorifies Warren G. Harding and his successor Calvin Coolidge for producing “one of the most prosperous [eras] in U.S. history.” Koch explains that what made Harding great was his insistence on “cutting taxes, reducing the national debt and cutting the federal budget,” all policies that Congressional Republicans are proposing in today’s budget negotiations. What made Harding so great, in other words, is what made radical Republican candidates so great in November 2010.</p> <p>Koch’s pick for worst president is Herbert Hoover, whom he accuses of undermining “economic freedom” and thus precipitating the Great Depression. “Under Hoover,” he writes, “federal spending roughly doubled and personal income tax rates jumped from 25 percent to 63 percent. He raised corporate taxes, too, and doubled the estate tax. Hoover also pressured business leaders to keep wages artificially high, contributing to massive unemployment.”</p> <p>According to most historians, the Harding and Coolidge administrations’ free-market romp was one of the key factors that led to the Great Depression. Their time in office was marked by obscene corruption, racial violence, unionbusting, feudal wealth inequalities and, shortly thereafter, the total collapse of the American economy.</p> <p>* * *</p> <p>Legal experts say that this kind of corporate-sponsored propagandizing has been almost unheard-of in America since the passage of New Deal–era laws like the National Labor Relations Act, which codified restrictions on political activism and pressure in the workplace. NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher, director of the Center for Labor and Employment Law, toldThe Nation in an e-mail interview that such overt politicking to employees is still rare. “I am not aware of it happening with many employers,” he wrote.</p> <p>According to UCLA’s Stone, although Citizens United frees Koch Industries and other corporations to propagandize their employees with their political preferences, the same doesn’t hold true for unions—at least not in the workplace. “If a union wanted to hand out political materials in the workplace not directly relevant to the workers’ interests—such as providing a list of candidates to support in the elections—the employer has the right to ban that material,” says Stone. “They could even prohibit its distribution on lunch breaks or after shifts, because by law it’s the company’s private property.”</p> <p>Stone points to a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1915, Coppage v. Kansas, which protected employers’ right to draw up contracts forbidding employees from joining unions. Justice William Day’s dissent in that case pointed out that if the state was ready to enforce the employers’ contractual bans on union activity, then it was opening the way for the state to enforce employers’ legal right to control their employees’ political and ideological activities:</p> <blockquote> <p>Would it be beyond a legitimate exercise of the police power to provide that an employee should not be required to agree, as a condition of employment, to forgo affiliation with a particular political party, or the support of a particular candidate for office? It seems to me that these questions answer themselves.</p></blockquote> <p>With Citizens United, it seems, the country is heading back to the days of court-enforced corporatocracy. Already, workers at a Koch subsidiary in Portland, Oregon, are complaining about being subjected to political and ideological propaganda. Employees at Georgia-Pacific warehouses in Portland say the company encourages them to read Charles Koch’s The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World’s Largest Private Company and to attend ideological seminars in which Koch management preaches their bosses’ “market-based management” philosophy.</p> <p>Travis McKinney, an employee at a Portland Georgia-Pacific distribution center, says, “They drill into your head things like ‘The 10 Guiding Principles of Koch Industries.’ They even stamp the ten principles on your time card.”</p> <p>McKinney, a fourth-generation employee of Georgia-Pacific, says relations have sharply deteriorated since Koch Industries bought the company in late 2005. He and fellow employees at three Georgia-Pacific distribution centers are locked in a yearlong contract battle with the new Koch Industries management. Workers there, members of the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific (an affiliate of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union) recently voted unanimously to reject management’s contract and voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if management continues to try to impose cuts in benefits and job security in the new contracts.</p> <p>Political propagandizing is a heated issue in Oregon, which passed SB-519 in the summer of 2009, a bill placing restrictions on corporations’ ability to coerce employees to attend political meetings and vote the way the corporation tells them to vote. In late December 2009—just before SB-519 was to go into effect—the US Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit with Associated Oregon Industries to block the bill from becoming law. A similar bill in Wisconsin was struck down in November in a federal court. However, the Chamber’s lawsuit in Oregon was thrown out in May 2010 by US District Court Judge Michael Mosman on procedural grounds, leaving open the possibility that it could still be struck down.</p> <p>In the meantime, workers across the country should start preparing for a future workplace environment in which political proselytizing is the new normal.</p> </div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. Mike Elk is a third-generation union organizer and labor journalist based in Washington, D.C. Mike Elk is a third-generation union organizer who writes for Campaign for America's Future. He previously worked for the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (UE). </div></div></div> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 21:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, Mike Elk, The Nation 666071 at https://img.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Investigations Economy Human Rights union-busting corporate propaganda citizens united kochs Stop the Austerity Craze! Massive Budget Slashing Can Lead to Economic Disaster, Violence and Repression https://img.alternet.org/story/149659/stop_the_austerity_craze%21_massive_budget_slashing_can_lead_to_economic_disaster%2C_violence_and_repression <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '665047'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=665047" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The DC-Wall Street power circuit, with a big assist from the corporate media, is blindly pushing an agenda that could lead to massive social upheaval.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Now that the shock of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting is starting to wear off and the country is returning to its more familiar climate of insanity, we’re back to facing a far worse, far more serious, and far more violent threat than mere rampage shootings: Austerity.</p> <p>The Washington-Wall Street power circuit has already decided for the rest of us that “austerity” will define the 2011 political agenda. Austerity is what the oligarch-sponsored Tea Party demanded, what the Republicans are promising to deliver now that they’re in control of drafting the budget in the House, and what the Obama administration is going to try to enact as part of its neo-Clinton triangulation strategy. And the DC pols have the total endorsement of the corporate media, which have been hammering home the same message for months now: Austerity is the answer to our problems — problems that were created by the same establishment which wants to make us scream in pain again.</p> <p>The way this austerity debate has been framed in all the major media outlets, anyone pushing for austerity cuts and “pain” is automatically labeled “courageous”—which is an odd way of defining courage, since not a single rich politician or pundit pushing for "austerity" will actually suffer that pain, and most will profit from it. But that’s what counts as courage in our era.</p> <p>Bush speechwriter-turned-<em>Washington Post</em> pundit Michael Gerson has been an early promoter of the courage-austerity complex. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/17/AR2010061704567.html">Here's Gerson writing</a> about his old colleague, former Bush OMB director Mitch Daniels, now Indiana governor, whose first act upon taking oath was pawning the Indiana Turnpike to a multinational as fast as you can spell courageous: Daniels became a highly successful Indiana governor, combining a motorcycle-driving, pork-tenderloin-eating populism with courageous budget cutting, a solid record of job creation and a reputation for competence.</p> <p>By this logic, if Mitch Daniels is the courageous one, then that means that the opposite of courage is us, the cowardly masses of lazy slobs, who need to be whipped into shape with a steady lashing of the “austerity” whip. We prove our unworthiness whenever we call for “Austerity for the rich,” which is of course the opposite of courage.</p> <p>And while considering the implications of living in a country where politicians and pundits are allowed to call selling off juicy pieces of the state courageous acts, there's something even more troubling about it; what has happened in modern history after the austerity drive is finished: These measures almost always end in the worst worst-case-scenario imaginable: economic disaster, violence and repression.</p> <p>Let’s start with the most catastrophic of all austerity programs in history—the one austerity program none of the Austerity Snake Oil peddlers want you to know about. It was the disastrous austerity program tested out in Germany way back in 1930, under Chancellor <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Br%C3%BCning">Heinrich Bruning</a>, himself an austere centrist.</p> <p>The Depression was just spreading around the globe, and Bruning, backed by Germany’s industry titans, believed Germany would only recover with a strong currency, which he tethered to the gold standard, and a balanced budget through brutal cuts in wages, pensions and unemployment benefits, and hikes in taxes and fees. Bruning learned austerity as a doctoral student at the London School of Economics -- which nurtured and promoted "free-market" whores like Friedrich von Hayek and the “Austrian School” that is still being piped out to us through major outlets like the editorial pages of the<i> Wall Street Journal </i>and the libertarian press.</p> <p>Bruning applied the von Hayek medicine to Germany, and the resulting backlash was so intense he suspended parliamentary democracy and ruled by emergency decree, setting a fine example for the next guy who took power. After just two years of “austerity” measures, Germany’s economy had completely collapsed: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression">unemployment doubled from</a> 15 percent in 1930 to 30 percent in 1932, protests spread, and Bruning was finally forced out. Just two years of austerity, and Germany was willing to be ruled by anyone or anything except for the kinds of democratic politicians that administered “austerity” pain. In Germany's 1932 elections, the Nazis and the Communists came out on top — and by early 1933, with Hitler in charge, Germany’s fledgling democracy was shut down for good.</p> <p>That should have sealed the coffin on “austerity” and “Austrian Economics,” but somehow von Hayek and his fellow Austrian aristocrats who were forced to flee from the fruits of their economic programs, did a complete revision of history. Once they were safely in England and America, sponsored and funded by oligarch grants, hacks like von Mises and von Hayek started pushing a revisionist history of the collapse of Weimar Germany, blaming not their austerity measures, but rather big-spending liberals who were allegedly in charge of Germany’s last government.</p> <p>Somehow, von Hayek looked at Chancellor Bruning’s policies of massive budget cuts combined with pegging the currency to the gold standard, the policies that led to Weimar Germany’s collapse, policies that became the cornerstone of Hayek’s cult — and decided that Bruning hadn’t existed. That instead Hitler came to power because Germany’s government grew too fat even as Bruning enacted massive spending cuts, its currency a mere paper currency even though Bruning kept it tied to gold, the German people a bunch of spoiled welfare queens living too high on the socialist hog when in fact they were starving in the streets suffering from unbearable pay cuts, and that these profligate German fat-cat pensioners and unemployment-insurance-queens were so hellbent on enjoying their government handouts that they elected a Nazi.</p> <p>Austerity programs and gold-backed currencies were the cause of enormous pain, violence and disaster throughout the West in the early 1930s: In England, austerity measures led to one of the biggest mutinies in Britain’s military history since the time of the French Revolution; the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invergordon_Mutiny" target="_blank">Invergordon Mutiny</a> of 1931, when up to half the Royal Navy rose up against austerity cuts, took over ships and sent fears of a Bolshevik revolution throughout the country. The mutiny and strikes worked somewhat: Britain was finally forced to abandon the gold standard, and wage cuts were softened.</p> <p>As a counter-example, Sweden, just about the only country that adopted a “mixed economy” model, suffered far less from the Great Depression that affected the whole world; unlike the austerity-dosing countries, Sweden was already back on its feet and booming by 1932.</p> <p>Take a look at just about any austerity program over the past century, and the record is always the same: economic destruction, political destruction and violence. Take Venezuela; ever wonder why Venezuelans chose Hugo Chavez? What made Venezuelans so radicalized that they’d to turn to a Fidel Castro groupie to save them?</p> <p>Austerity is what happened, cooked up in Washington by the same financial elite we’re facing today. In February 1989, Venezuela elected as president a candidate, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Andr%C3%A9s_P%C3%A9rez">Carlos Andres Perez</a>, who campaigned as a populist-liberal promising voters he would fight against the IMF and World Bank, which were trying to force an austerity program on the country. They believed Perez because the last time he was president, in the 1970s, he’d nationalized the oil industry as well as American iron ore interests.</p> <p>But Perez was a fraud, a fake-liberal who’d secretly sold himself to bankster oligarchs and conned the voters. Three weeks after winning the election, President Perez rammed through an austerity program written by the IMF that sparked immediate mass protests. Perez did what all austerity-lovers do: he declared a state of emergency and suspended the Constitution, and called out the security forces, who massacred at least 1,000 and perhaps as many as 3,000 Venezuelan protesters. While everyone in the West knows about the comparatively smaller massacre in Tiananmen Square that same year, few have heard about this massacre, which Venezuelans call "<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caracazo" target="_blank">the Caracazo."</a> Naturally, this con-job and massacre was an example of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/09/business/imf-position-on-venezuela.html?src=pm" target="_blank">“courage" --</a> that’s how IMF’s Michel Camdessus described Perez’s decision to massacre protesters. Here’s an <em>New York Times</em> <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/09/business/imf-position-on-venezuela.html">article from 1989</a>: </p> <blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="line-height: 22px;"><span style="color: black;">WASHINGTON, March 8 —</span><span style="color: black;">The International Monetary Fund's managing director, Michel Camdessus, asserts that economic stabilization measures in Venezuela ''are proving even more painful'' because they were ''too long postponed.''</span></span><span style="color: black;">He made the comment in a letter written on Monday, just days after unrest caused by tough economic measures led to up to 375 deaths in Venezuela.</span></span> <span style="font-size: small;"><span style="color: black;">Mr. Camdessus praised the new Government of President Carlos Andres Perez for its ''courage'' in embracing an economic shock program that was designed to increase economic efficiency, and said the I.M.F. would support it ''with all the influence at its disposal.'' But he rejected charges from Mr. Perez that the I.M.F. was at least partly responsible for last week's disturbances because it had recommended some of the revamping measures.</span></span></p></blockquote> <p>Notice the same twisted rhetoric used then as we see today; the elites who impose austerity and slaughter civilians and declare states of emergency to protect IMF programs are labeled “courageous,” while the people who are killed don’t get so much as a column inch. Notice how President Perez blames Camdessus, and Camdessus blames an alternative history that could have been if only previous leaders been “courageous” too and enacted these insane price hikes and wage cuts earlier.</p> <p>Venezuela’s austerity programs created greater poverty, richer oligarchs, worse corruption, and the inevitable backlash in the form of Hugo Chavez, who staged a coup in 1992 that almost succeeded…and later won the presidency through the ballot box. Perez had to flee to Miami with his family to avoid being put on trial for the massacre; <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/world/americas/27perez.html" target="_blank">he died just last month in shame</a>.</p> <p>Austerity programs in the ex-communist Soviet countries led to similar disastrous results: As I wrote about <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/summers-conundrum" target="_blank">in the<em>Nation</em></a>, Larry Summers oversaw Lithuania’s austerity program in the early 1990s, sparking overnight the world’s highest suicide rate, economic misery and a backlash that made Lithuania the first country in the former communist bloc to vote the communists back into power -- anything to stop the pain.</p> <p>In Russia, austerity measures dictated by the same Hayek groupies in the IMF led to a complete financial market meltdown, an <a href="http://www.acrobatplanet.com/non-fictions-ebook/ebook-viability-economic-transition-and-reflections-neoclassical-economics.html">over 50 percent collapse</a> in the GDP, the untimely deaths of millions, and of course the requisite President Yeltsin ruling by decree, bombing his own parliament, then finally snuffing democracy by handing the Kremlin over to his crony, Vladimir Putin.</p> <p>The Russian economists who helped design their austerity program spent a lot of time learning from Friedrich von Hayek’s favorite austerity-program-cured country on earth, the Chile of Generalissimo Augusto Pinochet (South Africa’s apartheid regime came a close second in Hayek’s austere Austrian heart). That austerity program, implemented in 1975 under the advice of von Hayek and Milton Friedman, was implemented after the brutal massacres and destruction of democracy, a clever reversal of the usual formula; Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected president, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Allende">Salvadore Allende</a>, in 1973, massacred roughly 3,000 opponents and locked up and tortured countless more, providing the perfect conditions for von Hayek’s austerity measures.</p> <p>In 1975, those measures were implemented, and the results were, naturally, catastrophic. GDP collapsed almost 15 percent in just one quarter, while unemployment soared from 3 percent under Allende to 20 percent. The economy didn’t reach 1971 levels until the end of the 1970s—and then the whole house of Austrian-economics cards collapsed two years later. But the good thing for Chileans was, they didn’t have to go through the trauma of massacres and end-of-democracy, since that was already served up in advance. By the end of it all, Chile was left with a new class of massively enriched financial oligarchs, the public sector unions in tatters, and one of the world’s worst wealth inequalities.</p> <p>But you don’t hear about that much, not outside of the subculture of anti-globalization protesters and fans of Naomi KIein's reporting. Thanks to inane but heavily funded propaganda, Hayek’s experiment in Chile is constantly called a success story. When a private mining firm was too inefficient and corrupt to rescue its own trapped miners last year, the private company got the state mining company to bail its trapped workers out. Nevertheless, the story we Americans got through the <i>Wall Street Journal </i>was that the rescue of the miners was somehow “proof” that Hayek and Friedman’s free-market experiments that Generalissimo Pinochet tested out on Chile were somehow responsible for saving those trapped miners. The logic goes like this: The private company got their miners trapped and couldn’t rescue them; the state mining company rescued them; therefore, free unfettered markets rescued the trapped miners. It’s the logic Hayek used to argue that phantom Big Government New Dealers brought about the Nazis, rather than Bruning’s austerity measures.</p> <p>We Americans alone among the world are the only suckers who take it on faith that Pinochet performed an economic miracle in Chile.</p> <p>Now, at last, the same austerity programs that have led to massacres, wars, pain and catastrophe all over the world are finally coming home to the very people and country they were intended to poison all along.</p> <p>Why now, you ask? Why, after all the economic destruction and inequality that resulted from decades of deregulation, privatization, slashing taxes on the rich, and relentless bashing of evil big-government—why would we adopt a far more purified, radical version of the same disastrous free-market program? Why would we have to take more pain medicine from the same people who already poisoned us?</p> <p>Simple: Because we’re weakened from having our wells poisoned by free-market, libertarian ideology over the past three decades. We’re weaker, poorer, we’ve turned against the unions and the government, the only two potential sources of counter-power to billionaires and corporations —<a href="http://www.alternet.org/economy/146964/top_billionaire_hedge_funder_sees_himself_as_a_hyena_devouring_wildebeests_/?page=entire" target="_blank">what predator wouldn’t move in for the kill at this very moment</a>? Now’s the perfect time to take everything that Austrian economics has to offer to its practitioners. Plundering the weak and shooting them in their heads when they resist — that’s the definition of courage to America’s degenerate ruling class.</p> <p><em>Here's Mark Ames with MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan discussing austerity:</em></p> <p><object width="420" height="245" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=10,0,0,0" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" id="msnbc5db045"><param value="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640" name="movie" /><param value="launch=40915172&amp;width=420&amp;height=245" name="FlashVars" /><param value="always" name="allowScriptAccess" /><param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /><param value="transparent" name="wmode" /><embed width="420" height="245" pluginspage="http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" flashvars="launch=40915172&amp;width=420&amp;height=245" src="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640" name="msnbc5db045"></embed></object></p> <p style="font-size: 11px; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; color: rgb(153, 153, 153); margin-top: 5px; background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent; text-align: center; width: 420px;">Visit msnbc.com for <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com" style="text-decoration: none ! important; border-bottom: 1px dotted rgb(153, 153, 153) ! important; font-weight: normal ! important; height: 13px; color: rgb(87, 153, 219) ! important;">breaking news</a>, <a style="text-decoration: none ! important; border-bottom: 1px dotted rgb(153, 153, 153) ! important; font-weight: normal ! important; height: 13px; color: rgb(87, 153, 219) ! important;" href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032507">world news</a>, and <a style="text-decoration: none ! important; border-bottom: 1px dotted rgb(153, 153, 153) ! important; font-weight: normal ! important; height: 13px; color: rgb(87, 153, 219) ! important;" href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032072">news about the economy</a></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '665047'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=665047" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 24 Jan 2011 21:00:01 -0800 Mark Ames, AlterNet 665047 at https://img.alternet.org Economy Economy politics economy austerity hayek heinrich bruning 8 Signs Meg Whitman May Lack a Human Heart https://img.alternet.org/story/148705/8_signs_meg_whitman_may_lack_a_human_heart <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '664095'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664095" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">She&#039;s got billions, but Whitman has yet to perform a single significant charitable deed for the Golden State.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Meg Whitman has always wanted to be Number One in her field. So although it must rankle Whitman that her $1.3 billion in wealth only ranks her as the fourth richest woman in California, when it comes to ranking “The Most Tight-Fisted Billionaire In The West,” no one comes close to Meg. For all her rosy campaign rhetoric about wanting to help California, unlike most billionaires in her category who go out of their way to make highly public donations to charities and the arts, Whitman has yet to perform a single significant charitable deed for the Golden State, or any state for that matter.<br /><br /> "[C]ompared with other leading Silicon Valley and political figures, Whitman appears to have otherwise invested less time, energy and clout on causes at the state, local and national level," the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2010. "In contrast to others who have aspired to political office, however, Whitman does not mention any work on commissions, boards, advisory groups, charities or causes in her book or on her Web site.”<br /><br /> The reason she doesn’t mention them, of course, is because Whitman doesn’t work on any commissions, boards, advisory groups, charities or causes that would endear her to anyone but her billionaire peers.<br /><br /> Whitman’s stinginess is rather shocking even by the tight-fisted standards of her Republican comrades. Take for example Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: He has long been involved in promoting children's fitness, Special Olympics, and he donates his governor’s salary of $175,000 to charities. Gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner, who competed against Whitman for the Republican nomination, has a long history of engagement in California’s education issues. Even U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina has been a champion of women's economic development in the Third World.<br /><br /> Even with the philanthropy bar set that low, it was still too much for a silver-spoon-fed tightwad like Whitman. What is so strange about this is that even the most rapacious plutocrats and robber barons in American history have made a big show of donating a great part of their riches back to the nation that made it all possible -- even they had a tiny flicker of humanity left in them. No ol’ Meg Whitman. For the Long Island carpetbagger, “charity” means transfering $150 million of wealth she’d soaked out of eBay and plunking it down on advertising agencies to buy herself the governorship of California. You see this sort of thing in corrupt Third World semi-dictatorships like Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan -- the homeland of Borat -- but California? When did California get so pathetic that it’s going to be led by very same sort of corrupt, carpetbagger- oligarch that Borat would proudly support in Kazakhstan?</p> <p>Hell, Meg even has a Borat son named Griffin, who’s been accused of rape, racism, and violence -- and just like a Kazakh oligarch, Meg Whitman bought her son’s way into Princeton by “donating” $30 million just when Griff was applying to school there. That $30 million so graciously donated to Princeton -- which, you know, when all’s said and done, no one in American needed that $30 million like the desperate Slumdog Millionaires of Princeton -- and that $30 million went to constructing a brand new 500-student dormitory at Princeton named after Whitman. See, she kinda had to do that because he had already been booted out of two expensive prep schools as a kid. You know, what would Meg have done with a son like that if she hadn’t soaked eBay of $1.3 billion? And guess what? Wouldn’tchaknowit, her son Griff just happened to get accepted into Princeton!  So don’t say that all that wealth Meg accumulated hasn’t been put to the best use for all of society! Sure, her son Griff still got investigated by Princeton after being accused of rape and racism, and for his generally violent spoiled behavior -- but hey, in a way that sort of makes Griff a lot like Borat, but when Borat behaves like a racist rapist everyone thinks it’s funny, why don’t you think it’s funny when Griff breaks a Latino girl’s ankle or gets accused of rape? It’s funny, isn’t it?<br /><br /> Yeah. Hilarious. It’s as if Meg Whitman is writing the Borat sequel, with Orange County Californians playing the comic foils: “Borat 2: Republican Leanings of Orange Kountystan Make For Benefit Glorious Billionaire Meg Whitman”<br /><br /> Meg’s other big donation that her supporters point to came in 2007, when she gave $1.15 million to a Colorado non-profit. So far, so philanthropy-ish, right? Well, ahem, not exactly -- that money was actually used to preserve a chunk of pristine land in Telluride, Colorado, from being developed into a housing community. Not because Meg hates development -- she just doesn’t want someone else’s development plans intruding on her own real estate investments. So yeah, not exactly philanthropy in the strictest sense of the word, as the “gift” was not so much geared towards protecting natural habitat, as it was towards protecting Whitman's real estate investment, a $20-million nearby ranch that would have lost its value had the development gone through. Thanks to Whitman’s “donation,” her real estate investments were protected. As Borat would say, “I like very much, yes?”<br /><br /> The following are 8  episodes that reveal Meg Whitman's inhuman side:<br /><strong><br /> 1. MEG WHITMAN BUYS VOTES AND THINK SHE'S PERFORMING CHARITY</strong></p> <p>There is one cause that Meg Whitman eagerly supports: her own campaign. As of October 25, Whitman had contributed $40 million to her own campaign, shattering the historic record for personal spending by a candidate previously held at $109 million by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Not only was Meg outspending Jerry Brown by more than 10 to 1, but 85% of her campaign funds coming out of her own pocket. Yet despite dishing a record breaking sum of personal cash, Whitman still continues to trail Jerry Brown in the polls with less than 45% of the vote--buying her popularity was obviously not easy or cheap.<br /><br />  <br /> Most would see her campaign contributions for what they really are: an attempt to buy votes--and an election--by brute force, but Whitman see it differently. To her, this is charity work. "The reason I invested my own money into this is because I think we can make California much stronger, and I think we can revive the California Dream for every single Californian," she said during the October debate with Jerry Brown. That's right, Meg Whitman thinks she's doing California a favor by strong-arming voters with lies and a relentless PR campaign. <br /><br /> No wonder Meg Whitman had not registered to vote for 28 years? Why would she? Servants vote; oligarchs like her buy the vote. <br /><br /><strong>2. MEG WHITMAN'S CHINESE PARTNERS THINK SHE HAS HORRIBLE BUSINESS SKILLS</strong><br /><br /> After 2002, Whitman spending habits increased in scope and uselessness. She declared China to be eBay’s top priority, a crucial market for the  company’s longterm success. She sunk $300 million into a Chinese auction site and moved to the country with her top executives to plot eBay's invasion. But the plans came crashing down in 2004, after eBay migrated  its Chinese auction servers to America and got their traffic tangled up in China’s “great firewall" and cut off from Chinese users, dooming eBay’s China project. eBay's commie partners blamed the failure on the unwieldily bureaucracy and red tape in Whitman's eBay. One Chinese partner called Whitman’s plan “a great vision, but a terrible business strategy.” That’s right, even Chinese communists think Meg has horrible business skills. <br />  <br /> She was an incredible failure -- and she knew it. After her Chinese expansion plans tanked, she even started looking for another job. "In December 2004, eBay stock hit its historic high, but as word leaked about eBay’s China troubles, the stock began its decline," wrote the<a href="http://www.baycitizen.org/meg-whitman/story/ebays-lost-years/">Bay Citizen in 2010</a>. "Whitman began considering other employment. She interviewed at Disney to replace retiring CEO Michael Eisner, but withdrew just before the job was given to Disney executive Bob Iger in March 2005."<br /><br /><br /><strong>3. SHE TAXED EBAY USERS TO THE POINT OF CHASING THEM AWAY</strong><br />  <br /> As the second half of Whitman's career at eBay showed, taking money from other people who actually earned it and wasting it, is really the only thing that she is good at.<br />  <br /> As Whitman's business ventures failed to generate revenue, she increasingly began to rely on eBay’s merchant community to keep bailing her out.  User fees have been central to eBay’s business model and remain as the company’s main source of revenue. Essentially a corporate<br /> tax levied by eBay on its online merchant for the auction services it provides, the fees have remained constant at around 5% from before eBay went public. By 2004, Whitman had had jacked up fees by more than 50% percent, to the point of wiping out profit margins for some sellers, especially smaller mom and pop merchant operations.<br />  <br /> Sellers began to protest and attempted stage sporadic boycotts. The Professional eBay Seller's Alliance, a group composed of 600 of eBay's largest sellers that accounted for over $1 billion in annual eBay sales, sent eBay a statement in 2005 saying that the fee increases amounted to a wealth transfer from sellers and buyers to eBay, and warned the company that it risked losing its core merchants for good. Some 7,000 eBay stores were believed to have shut down because of the increases in fees, with many merchants moving over to eBay’s biggest competitor, Amazon. But  she kept tightening the screws, sucking the last juices out of eBay's merchants with more fee hiked. By 2007, eBay was a shell of its former self. Most of its top-earning sellers had left for other platforms. Whitman’s exploitation became so extreme that even Wall Street advised her to tone it down. A 2007  Bear Sterns report advised Whitman to carry out a “drastic” reduction in fees in order to stem the mass exodus of eBay sellers to Amazon. But it was too late. <br />  <br /> "EBay has gone from the channel of first resort to the channel of last resort," a Internet sales consultant told the New York Times in 2007, right before Whitman left the company.<br />  <br /><strong>4. WASTEFUL SPENDING</strong><br />  <br /> For someone who has made fiscal responsibility the core of her campaign, promising to wage a war on wasteful spending and bloated budgets, Whitman has shown no regret and taken no responsibility for squandering shareholders' wealth. <br />  <br /> In 2002, the same year she was slapped with shareholder lawsuit and targeted in high profile Congressional probe, Whitman lost $1 billion on eBay’s purchase of PayPal. How? By rejecting a an offer to buy the online payment company for $500 million in 2001, then changing her mind a year later and buyingit $1.5 billion. “I will tell you, I don’t think I’m a very good negotiator,” Whitman joked about her billion dollar blooper a few years later during a speech at Stanford Univ. <br />  <br /> No biggie for Whitman. It's not like it was her money. After all, why should she be accountable when she could continue charging up the eBay credit card and foot someone else with the bill--which she did.<br />  <br /> That same year, Whitman got eBay's shareholder suckers to buy a $30-million corporate jet for their beloved CEO--a top of the line French three-engine craft with a carrying capacity of 19 and the longest flight range in its class, as well $3 million in annual upkeep fees. She then proceeded to rack up a $3.2 million bill jetting around the world over the next five years, spending nearly four times more than all of eBay’s executives combined. In 2005, the same year she lost over $1 billion on eBay's acquisition of Skype, Whitman decided she needed a new corporate jet... In 2006, when eBay was losing revenue, shedding users and its stock price still sliding with no sign of hitting bottom, Meg Whitman ran up over $1 million in corp jet costs. Rubbing shoulders with Hank Paulson on Goldman’s board must have convinced Meg Whitman that flying commercial with common business types was now below her station.<br /><strong><br /> 5. WANTS TO SCRAP WELFARE IN CALIFORNIA</strong><br />  <br /> Whitman sees nothing wrong when people like her squander and steal billions of other people's money as corporate executives, milking shareholder wealth for personal jets, multimillion dollar compensation packages and insider access, even as they run companies into the ground. But she just can't stand when poor people draw a few hundred dollars a month so they could feed and clothe their children. Why? Well, because despite the fact that California's welfare program pays out a meager $1192--with half of that in food stamps--Whitman is convinced that welfare recipients are all engaging in fraud and bankrupting the state. <br />  <br /> And that's why one of Whitman's biggest economic plans for California is to shutdown its $1.6 billion welfare program, and transfer its funds to state universities in order to plug a massive hole created by her Wall Street buddies....<br />  <br /><strong>6. TAUGHT HER SONS TO BE AS VENAL AND CRUDE AS SHE IS</strong><br />  <br /> Meg Whitman's children have grown up to be fine oligarchs in the mold of their mom: entitled, disdainful, rude, obnoxious, violent... They give an uncensored look at what Meg Whitman stands for. And that is precisely why Whitman keeps them out of the public eye. <br />  <br /> Take her oldest son, 25-year-old Griffith Harsh V. Admitted to Princeton on the heels of Whitman's $30 million donation, Gruf was constantly being bailed out by his billionaire mommy. ... The school decided not to punish Grif when he was accused of raping and savagely beating a female classmate in 2006. Just weeks after the Princeton let Grif off scott free, he was arrasted on felony battery charges for breaking a 22-year-old woman’s ankle in a Palo Alto bar near Stanford University. After nine court dates, the case was mysteriously dismissed. Case closed. Oligarch justice prevailed.<strong><br /></strong> <br /> After graduation, Grif tapped mommy's connection to Mitt Romney—she served as finance chair on his 2008 presidential campaign—for a job with Solamere Capital LLC, a private-equity firm founded by Mitt Romney's son, Tagg. To return the favor, Meg Whitman has used her campaign to funneled money to Solamere, spending $96,000 with Solamere in four months. <br />  <br /><strong>7. TREATS EMPLOYEES LIKE PERSONAL SLAVES</strong><br />  <br /> In June 2007, while being preparing for an interview with Reuters, Whitman became frustrated and shoved her employee. "In any high-pressure working environment, tensions can surface," said Whitman. Why did she get frustrated? Because she felt unprepared for the interview--and proceeded to take it out a female employee of small stature, shoving and cussing her out. To keep the whole thing under wraps, the woman agreed to take a six figure payout (paid not by Whitman, but by her company's shareholders) Paying for her mistakes with other people's money--that typical Whitman for you.<br /><br /> Whitman bullied her workers at home, as well. Jill Armstrong, who worked full time for the Whitman household in 1998 as a nanny, said she quit after about two months because of the demands and difficulties of the job. "I had enough," she said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. Why? The nanny said she experienced  "challenges" in dealing with Whitman's two young rapists-in-training sons. But mostly it was because Whitman was a greedy, untrustworthy employer, who tried to cheat Armstrong out of her wages.<br /><strong> <br /> 8. HAS TRACK RECORD OF ABUSING POSITION OF POWER FOR PERSONAL PROFIT</strong><br />  <br /> Just four years after Meg Whitman started as eBay's CEO, a Congressional probe, as well as a shareholders lawsuit filed against Whitman, revealed that she used her position as CEO to set up a crony kickback network, steering lucrative corporate eBay business to select Wall Street investment banks. While there were no convictions, it was clear that Whitman had violated her fiduciary responsibilities to eBay shareholders for personal profit: <br />  <br /> Meg Whitman hired Goldman Sachs to underwrite eBay's $72.5 million IPO in 1998, as well as a second offering worth $1.25 billion held a year later. In return, Goldman Sachs put Whitman on an insider tack that let her buy shares in 100 different IPOs at rock bottom prices--which Goldman Sachs purposefully set low--before they were opened to the public, allowing her to make millions in a matter of hours simply by flipping her shares. Industry insiders called the practice “spinning”--but everyone knew that it was nothing but a good ol’ fashioned kickback. On top of her access to quick and guaranteed profits, Whitman got a spot on Goldman's hallowed board of directors in 2001. The position came with voting rights and a nearly $500,000 salary--meaning that she was paid $40,000 for every board meeting she attended, including the one where she voted in favor of awarding multi-million dollar bonuses to to Henry Paulson and then-vice chairman Lloyd Blankfein for their job well done. A Republican Representative from Ohio who investigated the corruption as chair of the House Financial Services Committee in 2002, said it was clear that Goldman Sachs was “making IPO shares available to those with investment banking business to offer” and that executives took the IPOs as “an inducement or reward.” Whitman was singled out along with 20 other executives, including Enron’s master scammer Kenneth Lay, and spinning has since been outlawed. <br />  <br /> The congressional probe into Whitman's backspinning spree  spawned a eBay shareholder lawsuit against Meg Whitman and a few other eBay executives for violating their fiduciary duty to eBay shareholders, and charged that the executives were aided and abetted by Goldman Sachs. Whitman denied any wrong doing, of course, and in the end settled for a pitiful $1.78 million, without having to admit guilt--as has become the American custom when sleazy billionaires are caught breaking the law.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames and Yasha Levine at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. Ames is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '664095'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664095" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 01 Nov 2010 11:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, Yasha Levine, AlterNet 664095 at https://img.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics california election 2010 meg whitman Jon Stewart Rally: Just an Exercise in Gen X Self-Indulgence? https://img.alternet.org/story/148690/jon_stewart_rally%3A_just_an_exercise_in_gen_x_self-indulgence <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">In the depths of America&#039;s decline, Liberals couldn&#039;t muster up a get-together for anything better than a mock-in meant to prove we&#039;re less stupid than the other side.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><strong><em>Editor's note:</em></strong><em>For a different take, check out <a href="http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/10/30/jon-stewart-rally-repubiating-tea-party-madness/">Adele Stan's piece</a> arguing that the Rally for Sanity was a repudiation of Tea Party madness.</em></p> <p>Maybe what’s happening in America today will seem funny to some other culture in some future time -- how it happened that in the depths of America’s decline, Liberals, the great opposition to everything mean and ruthless in this culture, couldn’t muster up a get-together for anything better than a mock-in. Led by a clown.</p> <p>I confess, I couldn’t hack it. I came to the rally -- saw those two pastry chefs from the Mythbusters show get all the Liberal Elites to hold a post-modern human wave, an ironic human wave allowing all the self-conscious Liberal Elites to play like Real America, while salvaging their vanity because it was all ironic and post-modern… And to make sure that everyone knew they were not <em>really</em> human-waving but rather meta-human-waving, the Mythbusters duo deconstructed the human wave. And all the Liberal Elites smiled and laughed knowingly, because all 150,000 were in on the biggest inside-joke wankathon in American history. And that was it for me -- I was outta there.</p> <p>A century-old ideological movement, Liberalism: once devoted to impossible causes like ending racism and inequality, empowering the powerless, fighting against militarism, and all that silly hippie shit -- now it’s been reduced to besting the other side at one-liners…and to the Liberals’ credit, they’re clearly on top. Sure there are a lot of problems out there, a lot of pressing needs -- but the main thing is, the Liberals don’t look nearly as stupid as the other guys do. And if you don’t know how important that is to this generation, then you won’t understand what’s so wrong and so deeply depressing about the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity.</p> <p>That’s what makes this rally so depressing and grotesque: It’s an anti-rally, a kind of mass concession speech without the speech -- some kind of sick funeral party  for Liberalism, in which Liberals are led, at last, by a clown. Not a figurative clown, but by a clown -- and Liberals are sure that this somehow makes them smarter and less lame -- and indeed, they are less lame, because they are not taking themselves too seriously, which is something they’re very, very proud of. All great political struggles and ideological advances, all great human rights achievements were won by clown-led crowds of people who don’t take themselves too seriously, duh! That’s why they’re following a clown like Stewart, whose entire political program comes down to this: not being stupid, the way the other guys are stupid -- or when being stupid, only stupid in a self-consciously stupid way, which is to say, not stupid. That’s it, that’s all this is about: Not to protest wars or oligarchical theft or declining health care or crushing debt or a corrupt political system or imperial decay -- nope, the only thing that motivates Liberals to gather in the their thousands is the chance to celebrate their own lack of stupidity! Woo-hoo!<a href="http://exiledonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/AP-Photo.jpeg" class="fancybox" rel="fancybox" title="AP Photo"><br /></a></p> <p>It’s the final humiliating undoing of Enlightenment Idealism that made Liberalism possible -- imagine if Jefferson, Diderot, Montesquieu, Madison et al reduced the entire Enlightenment’s struggle against the old feudal order to “I’m against the monarchy because the monarchy’s stupid…but then again, Rousseau makes a fool of himself with his Romanticism, and Tom Paine is so serious with his ‘Rights of Man’, the Revolutionaries are just as crazy as the Monarchists, so rather than join either side and risk opening myself to mockery, I’m just going to stand back and laugh at them all and say, ‘<em>Really</em>? Independence? Everyone is created equal and has the right to pursue happiness? <em>Really</em>, TJ? You sure you want to say that about Bluebeard? <em>Really</em>?” [LAUGH TRACK]…</p> <p>It’s not Stewart’s or Colbert’s fault, let’s be clear on that -- they’re the only ones doing their job here. They’re the only ones fighting this battle, and the only way they’re surviving is by elaborately pretending they’re not really fighting anyone’s battle over anything, they’re just having a laugh -- it’s the same rationale that jesters used in medieval times, and Stewart and Colbert play the same role as the jesters did then…and we’re also playing our role as powerless peasants reduced to self-mockery and snickering at our Masters behind their backs. It’s not their fault that Liberalism today has as its highest priority not looking stupid -- and that its premiere rally is framed in such a way that everyone who came to this rally is somehow indemnified from looking foolish precisely because it’s not really a political rally, it’s more like a mockery of a political rally -- in a self-consciously smart sort of way. And the Daily Show Democrats who gathered celebrated themselves for this amazing achievement: that they didn’t make fools of themselves standing for something that some other guys could then use to mock them. That’s the biggest sin of the other side, the Tea Partiers especially, at least as the Daily Show fans see it: they look silly, and worse, they’re not shamed into suicide from looking silly, the way Liberals would be shamed into OD’ing on Ambien if they opened themselves up to that sort of mockery.</p> <p>It was this same lack of ironic self-awareness (or rather, this absence of any sort of mockery-avoidance technology) that led my generation to pillory the hippies and progressives -- that’s why we were South Park Republicans before we were Daily Show Democrats: because back then, standing for liberal values meant something, and that made you look lame. Only now, when Liberal ideals have vanished into mythology and all they stand for is “not as crazy or stupid as Republicans” is it safe to camp out with the Democrats. They put nothing on the line ideologically, which perfectly jibes with this generation’s highest value. And that makes it perfectly safe to go to something like a large political rally like Stewart’s -- you side with a hollow movement stripped of ideology or purpose, and then you gather to celebrate your own hollowness at a rally whose one promise is “You won’t open yourself up to mockery if you attend this rally” and whose goal is to show how not-stupid “we” are compared to the mockable activists on both the right and the left -- the Beckites and the Code Pinkers.</p> <p>I’ve come to the conclusion that this has been the Great Dream of my generation: to position ourselves in such a way that we’re beyond mockery. To not look stupid. That’s the biggest crime of all -- looking stupid. That’s why they’ve turned Stewart into a demigod, because he knows how to make the other guys look really stupid, and if you’re on the same team as Stewart, you’re on the safe side of the mockery, rather than dangerously vulnerable to mockery.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div> Sun, 31 Oct 2010 12:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, eXiled Online 664601 at https://img.alternet.org News & Politics Media Culture The Right Wing News & Politics jon stewart stephen colbert rally to restore sanity How Meg Whitman Failed Her Way to the Top at eBay, Collecting Billions While Nearly Destroying the Company https://img.alternet.org/story/148629/how_meg_whitman_failed_her_way_to_the_top_at_ebay%2C_collecting_billions_while_nearly_destroying_the_company <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '664133'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664133" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Former CEO Whitman&#039;s record of gross incompetence, massive waste and personal enrichment is breathtaking. That the media isn&#039;t talking about it is incredible.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>With the elections for governor just around the corner, most California voters probably think they have a pretty good grasp of the pros and cons of Republican candidate Meg Whitman: on the downside, she's an aloof billionaire who can't be bothered to vote or remember her own servants' names after nine years, and she's dabbled in the sort of insider double-dealing with Goldman Sachs that's brought the nation's economy to its knees.</p> <p>On the plus side, many still regard Whitman as one of the most effective and successful business leaders around. Three decades of relentless pro-business PR have convinced a lot of voters that our best business leaders know best, and that's been Whitman's main selling point, going back to her first campaign ad:</p> <blockquote> <p>"I have run large organizations. I know how to create jobs. I know how to focus. I know how to balance a budget. And, I think, a business perspective is a bit of what California needs right now."</p></blockquote> <p>But what few people outside of the investment community know is what a disaster Meg Whitman's business career really was. In fact, Meg Whitman's record in the corporate world reads like a laundry list of failure: it's a resume marked by fraud, gross incompetence, wasteful spending and gross disregard for anyone's interests but her own. In her obsessive drive to become a billionaire, Whitman left a legacy of bitterness among untold numbers of jilted employees, shareholders and eBay clients, while enriching herself and a handful of fellow executives and investment bankers.<br /><br /> Her worst decision at eBay -- to buy internet phone service Skype for over $4 billion in 2005 -- bled billions in eBay's value. It was a huge waste of money whose consequences were passed on to employees and shareholders. The effects are still being felt by the company today, over five years after Whitman's disastrous decision.</p> <p>Whitman's fabled $1 billion in wealth was acquired in the first few months of her tenure, well before she could muck the company's bottom line up. That billion-plus that eBay's directors handed Whitman was perhaps the easiest billion anyone has ever been handed in corporate history: eBay hired Whitman in March 1998, when the company was already the tech world's darling. Just six months after she joined, eBay went public, making Meg Whitman an overnight billionaire thanks to stock options that allowed her to buy eBay stock at just 7 cents a share, and sell them on the market for as high as $170 per share.<br /><br /> That was in 1998-'99, long before Whitman could screw the company up -- when the worst she could do was <a href="http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/04/12/meg_whitman_goldman_sachs">work out a scheme</a> with Goldman Sachs to kick back to her personal account a couple million more in exchange for making Goldman Sachs the lead investment bank for eBay's stock offering.<br /><br /> So Whitman made her eBay billion not by building the firm up, but rather by lucking into the right place at the right time. Over the next few years, as she started to put her own stamp on the firm, eBay's fortunes went into decline and finally into full-scale tailspin.<br /><br /> Now cut to 2005, when Whitman is fully in control of eBay. By now, in the middle of the last bull market, eBay's stock is floundering thanks to a series of poorly executed decisions, bad investments and frustrated eBay users. This was the moment when Whitman went from incompetent to reckless: she bet the eBay house on a grossly overpriced $4.1 billion takeover of Skype, a startup internet phone company with almost no revenues to speak of. Even normally friendly analysts were confused, not just by the price but also the business logic.<br /><br /> In a CNET article back in 2005, headlined "<a href="http://news.cnet.com/Commentary-eBays-scary-Skype-purchase/2030-1032_3-5862651.html">eBay's scary Skype purchase</a>," analysts from Forrester Research looked at the numbers and the logic and concluded, "These things don't add up to the $2.6 billion price tag (with the total value climbing to a potential of $4.1 billion). Skype provides no sustainable advantage in the communications or communities arena to eBay."<br /><br /> The key phrase at the time was that the buyout "left investors/analysts scratching their heads."<em>Businessweek</em>'s Rob Hof wrote a column on September 8, 2005, headlined: "<a href="http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/techbeat/archives/2005/09/ebay_buying_skype_im_scratching_my_head.html">eBay buying Skype? I'm Scratching My Head</a>"; TechNewsWorld <a href="http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/46648.html">reported a month later</a>, "The latest [eBay] acquisition comes as many tech world observers are still scratching their heads"; Popular GigaOm blogger Om Malik wrote, "frankly at $2-to-$3 billion, it doesn't make sense for eBay to get into a whole new business." (eBay paid more, over $4 billion.)<br /><br /> Two years later, as the grim results trickled in, analysts were still scratching their heads. CNBC's Silicon Valley bureau chief wrote in October 2007, at the peak of the bull market, "I remember when eBay bought Skype for that staggering $3.1 billion and scratching my head, wondering what the connection was. I remember talking to CEO Meg Whitman soon after the deal was announced, listening to her tell me that Skype would make as much sense and be as important to eBay as PayPal was. I remember nodding, listening. And I remember still scratching my head." Today, investors are scratching their collective heads: eBay de-valuing the Skype asset by 46 percent or about $1.6 billion.<br /><br /> So already by October 7, the grossly inflated price resulted in a $1.6 billion writedown of losses to tack onto the buy price. And this was before things got really bad. See, as it turned out, Whitman didn't just overpay for Skype--she overpaid, and didn't even own Skype.<br /><br /> That's right, when Whitman signed on the dotted line and plunked down $4.1 billions, she did not buy the technology that made Skype work, but instead leased it from Skype's original creators--who were under no obligation to continue the lease.<br /><br /> But by October 7, 2007, investors were already getting fed up with Whitman's helmsmanship. This was the high-point of the last bull market bubble, and yet eBay's stock on this day was slightly lower than where it was in September 2005, when the Skype deal was first announced. Meanwhile, eBay's biggest competitor, Amazon.com, saw its stock price soar 122 percent over the same two-year period as Amazon made smart investments and wooed clients and customers away from eBay in droves.<br /><br /> The full extent of Whitman's wasteful $4 billion acquisition only became clear last year, when the real company that owned Skype's technology, a shady firm called Joltid, decided to stop letting eBay play with its technology. Guess who owned Joltid? The same guys who once owned Skype before selling it (sans Skype technology) to Whitman for $4 billion. Investors were shocked -- and eBay's stock plummeted on the news to near penny-stock status. eBay informed the SEC that if the matter wasn't resolved (i.e. if Joltid wouldn't agree to lease them the Skype technology that Whitman forgot to include in the $4 billion purchase), then, in eBay's own words, "Skype would be adversely affected and the continued operation of Skype's business as currently conducted would likely not be possible." In other words, Meg Whitman spent $4.1 billion of eBay's money to buy literally nothing.<br /><br /> It's no wonder then that Whitman "retired" from eBay when she did in early 2008: She had failed the company miserably, leaving eBay in ruins. A year after Whitman bailed on eBay, the stock had sunk so low that employees were left holding onto stock options that would actually cost more than than eBay's market stock price, making them worse than worthless. That's a far cry from the 7 cents per share that Whitman was handed after just a few months on the job -- but as any economics student knows, the laws of scarcity dictate that there's a limited number of 7-cent stock options to be had, and to make up for that, others -- every other, in fact -- have to take stock options that are worthless. And it's a far cry from the tens or hundreds of millions more in stock options profits Whitman cashed in between February 2007 and February 2008,when she unloaded another 6.4 million shares of eBay between February 2007 and February 2008, in a move some criticized as legally questionable and in possible violation of insider trading rules.<br /><br /> The question we should ask ourselves is, was this failure at eBay a one-off thing, or was it part of a pattern in Whitman's executive resume? The answer isn't pretty, assuming she wins the governor's race.<br /><br /> In the years before Meg Whitman settled into her eBay gig, she bounced around from one corporate disaster to the next, showing neither loyalty nor follow-through and commitment: Think Sarah Palin of the corporate world. In 1992, Whitman headed up a children's shoe division at Stride Rite, including Keds brands -- and just about exactly one year later, several states filed lawsuits against Stride Rite accusing the firm of price-fixing its products, in particular, Keds. The company was forced to pay millions in fines and cover retailers' losses as part of the settlements.<br /><br /> With that disaster out of the way, Whitman failed her way into the CEO spot at FTD.com, the online florist shop. Whitman was handed a 75-year-old non-profit florist association that had been a virtual monopoly business with an international presence, but was convinced by an ex-Goldman Sachs executive to convert into a private for-profit company, with the Goldman Sachs exec's hedge fund as the investor. It might have worked out well, but for Meg Whitman's leadership. In 1997, just two years into her tenure, Whitman bailed on FTD. The florist company's business had fallen almost by half, posting a new low of 12 million orders in 1997, down from 22 million orders a decade earlier.<br /><br /> Having failed at taking an old successful business into New Economy profitability, Whitman took a safer job at toymaker Hasbro, where she launched the Teletubbies dolls. Within a year, these would be the most controversial dolls in America, targeted for boycott by the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Falwell">Christian Right and Jerry Falwell</a> as crypto-homosexual dolls seducing young children. If that wasn't bad enough, another Teletubbie had to be pulled off the shelves in 1998 <a href="http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teletubbies">because its programmed voice</a> sounded like it was repeatedly saying "faggot."<em>(</em><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj9oCSu9yYk"><em>Video of the doll here.</em></a><em>)</em><br /><br /> Hasbro's stock price barely budged, but Whitman was already moving on. After just one year at Hasbro, she switched again, taking the CEO helm at eBay and six months later, in September 1998, Meg Whitman was suddenly an overnight billionaire.<br /><br /> At the time Whitman joined eBay in March 1998, her main function was to be the kind, matronly face of what was otherwise an upstart online flea market/auction house. Over the next few months, Whitman wasn't able to make giant business decisions like paying $4 billion for Skype, but she did as much bad as she could, immediately hatching kickback schemes with investment bankers Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and even the notorious analyst Frank Quattrone. They variously offered sweetheart kickback deals to Whitman if she promised to list eBay through their bank.</p> <p>Whitman chose Goldman Sachs, which promptly kicked back $1.7 million in funds skimmed from other startup firms, and Whitman was also named to Goldman Sachs' board of directors as a way of saying "thanks!" -- where she sat with a veritable Injustice League of Corporate Villians, including BP's CEO John Browne. Other notables serving with Meg Whitman on Goldman's board included John Thain, the Merrill Lynch CEO-billionaire who used company money to buy $1,500 waste paper baskets for his office, and who later took $4 billion in taxpayer bailout money and doled it out to his fellow Merrill bankers as bonuses before being sent on his merry way. Overseeing Goldman's board with Whitman, Thain and Sir John Browne was none other Hank Paulson, Bush's Treasury Secretary who devised the bail-outs of all of his billionaire banker friends in his last months in office.<br /><br /> What is so stunning about Whitman's stock kickback scheme with Goldman Sachs is how quickly she exploited her new CEO position of power at eBay, at the expense of company shareholders and employees. The speed with which she turned to fraudulent behavior suggests she knew she had been a serial failure in corporate America, and that this eBay gig was her one last chance to stuff her pockets before she'd tank the company and be pushed out of her job, as she had over the previous few years. She lasted longer than expected -- not because of Whitman's skill but because eBay was just too good of a company to be brought down fast.<br /><br /> By March 2009, with the stock depressed below employee stock option prices and disasters looming ahead over the SKYPE acquisition, an article in <em>Silicon Beat</em> looked back and summed up Whitman's legacy. Responding to eBay's attempts to blame the depressed stock price on the financial crisis, <a href="http://www.siliconbeat.com/2009/03/09/ebay-seeks-ok-to-exchange-employees-underwater-options-for-restricted-stock/"><em>Silicon Beat</em></a>wrote, "while eBay shares have indeed fallen over the last year, hitting a 52-week low of $9.91 on Friday, the company's stock price has been under pressure for years now since peaking at $58.17 at the end of 2004. They lost 26 percent in 2005, 30 percent in 2006, gained 10 percent in 2007, and fell 58 percent in 2008. So far this year they are down another 26 percent."<br /><br /> The result: Meg Whitman is a billionaire who can blow over $150 million to make herself governor, outspending Jerry Brown by 15-1. Whitman can donate another $30 million to Princeton to get her sons into an Ivy League school, and she still has enough left over to buy half the illegal immigrants in California, whatever their names are. That's if she loses.<br /><br /> But if Meg Whitman wins the governor's chair, hoo-wee! Just think of the opportunities for a serial failure like her with that record of gross incompetence, massive waste and personal enrichment. Think of the privatizations of state property, think of all the workers who can be fired and the contracts that can be handed out to "private" firms. The possibilities are endless. If you were Meg Whitman, you'd understand.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames and Yasha Levine at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '664133'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664133" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 22:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, Yasha Levine, AlterNet 664133 at https://img.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Investigations corruption california ebay ceo goldman sachs election 2010 meg whitman hasbro Tea Party Flacks Are Drill, Baby, Drill Messengers Too https://img.alternet.org/story/147124/tea_party_flacks_are_drill%2C_baby%2C_drill_messengers_too <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '662519'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662519" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Exposing how the Tea Party evolved out of the pro-offshore drilling astroturf movement in 2008, and the Koch billionaires&#039; role in backing it.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Why are the hoppin'-mad Teabaggers so oddly quiet these days, ever since the BP oil disaster? That's what Thomas Frank, author of <i>What's The Matter With Kansas</i>? asked last week in his column, "<a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704875604575280863037577600.html?mod=googlenews_wsj" target="_blank">Laissez-faire Meets The Oil Spill</a>." Ideologically, it's painfully obvious why the Teabaggers are now the Teagaggers: their free-market gospel got mugged by oil-drenched reality -- a reality so horrific that even pollster Frank Luntz couldn't spin the BP disaster as the government's fault. Best to just shut up when you're that wrong.   </p> <p>But there's another, more concrete reason why the Tea Party revolutionaries melted back into their suburbs as soon as the enormity of the Gulf spill disaster hit: The Tea Party evolved out of the pro-offshore drilling astroturf movement in 2008. They even share some of the same organizers and front groups, from PR operative like Eric Odom, to advocacy groups like FreedomWorks, whose combined efforts on the "Drill Here! Drill now!" astroturf campaign succeeded in opening up all of America's coastlines and waters to offshore drilling, overturning a 27-year ban thanks to threats of "a Boston-style Tea Party," as one Republican put it in the summer of 2008.    </p> <p>We have been following this movement from the beginning. Back in February 2009, on the eve of the first Tea Party protest, <a href="http://www.alternet.org/story/129656/the_rick_santelli_%27tea_party%27_controversy%3A_article_kicks_up_a_media_dust_storm/" target="_blank">we published the first investigative article </a>exposing the hidden relationship between the fake-"spontaneous" Tea Party protests that month, and the Republican machine that backed and promoted the campaign. Our research led again and again to the right-wing Koch brothers, who are worth a combined $32 billion as owners of the largest private oil company in America, Koch Industries. Koch-linked front groups like FreedomWorks and the Sam Adams Alliance (named after the leader of the original Boston Tea Party) played key roles in both the 2008 campaign to deregulate offshore drilling, and in the Tea Party movement. </p> <p>Eric Odom, the PR flak who launched the Tea Party in February 2009, is the same Eric Odom who in August 2008 organized Republican Twitter-mobs who crashed Capitol Hill chanting "Drill here! Drill now!" to force Congress to open up American coastlines to unrestricted offshore oil drilling. Odom used the same Twitter front group, "DontGo Movement," in both campaigns: Twittering the pro-offshore drilling mobs in 2008 and Twittering the first anti-Obama teabaggers in early 2009. Odom was listed as the "New Media Coordinator" for the Sam Adams Alliance until a few days before the very Tea Party Protest in 2009. </p> <p>If these organization names get confusing, then just remember this: What really matters is the money behind them -- namely, the billionaire Koch money. Since we first broke the Koch-Tea Party links, other media and research outlets have confirmed the Kochs'  key funding and organization role in the Tea Party campaign, as well as defeating climate change legislation and defeating health care reform. The Kochs are the largest oil &amp; gas contributors to the last few electoral campaigns, and their network of fronts and think tanks is daunting.  </p> <p>One Koch-linked front group is The Sam Adams Alliance, led by a longtime Koch aide named Eric O'Keefe. Back in 1980, when David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket, Eric O'Keefe served as the National Coordinator for Koch's Libertarian Party. O'Keefe has been sucking on the Koch teat ever since -- moving from the Libertarian Party to the Koch-funded Cato Institute, and finally, to the Sam Adams Alliance, where O'Keefe is the CEO.   </p> <p>At first the Kochs denied they were behind the Tea Party campaign, but by the end of 2009, David Koch finally owned up and told an audience how he had <a href="http://washingtonindependent.com/62318/tea-party-patrons-point-new-recruits-toward-2010" target="_blank">planned and funded </a>the Tea Party movement.  </p> <p>It's important to understand just how close the Tea Party campaign is tied to the campaign pushing for unlimited offshore drilling, because the media has consistently misunderstood and misrepresented the Tea Party movement at every step of the way, treating the Tea Party like a legitimate political movement, rather than what it really is: a well-funded and highly-manipulative PR campaign, paid for and led by right-wing billionaires looking to protect their riches from government regulators and taxes. The Tea Party only exists as long as the Kochs need it to run; once the billionaires' needs change, they'll close the account out and get onto other business, dumping all the suckers who volunteered their time and Ayn Rand-inspired placards until they're needed again sometime in the future.</p> <p>To understand how this works, let's go back again to the summer of 2008, the last time there were still restrictions on offshore oil drilling in America. How did it happen that we lifted all offshore drilling restrictions less than two years ago? Strange to believe now, but two summers ago, drilling became the "wedge issue" for the presidential campaign, the way gay marriage was in 2004. In August 2008, for reasons unclear at the time, nothing got the Republican base more quickly worked up for a fight than the fight to open up all of America's coasts and waters to all the drilling that Big Oil wanted.</p> <p>Before it turned Tea Party, the pro-offshore drilling campaign was led by the disgraced Newt Gingrich, via his billionaire-sponsored foundation, American Solutions. It was a pretty typical lobbying effort until August 1, when the Republicans seemed to go off the handle, and a bunch of DC Beltway foundation trolls took to the streets threatening tea party revolt. </p> <p>By mid-August 2008, the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> asked, <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2008/08/12/rigged-why-does-offshore-drilling-dominate-the-debate/" target="_blank">"Why Does Offshore Drilling Dominate the Debate?"</a>:   </p> <blockquote> <p>How on earth, in the middle of a war and an economic slowdown, did a handful of offshore oil rigs come to be the wedge issue of American politics?  </p> <p>And make no mistake--new oil drilling is <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0808/12465.html" target="_blank">the wedge</a>. Republicans have shown <a href="http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=N2Q1YTMwMDBhMTk4MDkyOWVjMmYzZjUxMWJhZGU2YTQ=" target="_blank">80-90% support </a>for any drilling proposal; Democrats are equally opposed. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/opinion/12herbert.html?_r=1&amp;ref=opinion&amp;oref=slogin" target="_blank">Bob Herbert </a>in the NYT compares drilling's wool-over-the-eyes allure to the persistent belief in Iraqi involvement in Sept. 11. Offshore drilling has <a href="http://www.americansolutions.com/" target="_blank">resuscitated [sic] Newt Gingrich</a>, and <a href="http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/pelosi-indicates-openness-to-offshore-drilling-vote-2008-08-11.html" target="_blank">ruined Nancy Pelosi's summer</a>. It made Sen. Barack Obama, the "agent of change," change his mind. And it derailed the Straight Talk Express. </p></blockquote> <p>Suddenly, the entire election hinged on offshore drilling, and the Democrats got it in their heads that if they didn't compromise, they'd lose the 2008 election. It must have seemed strange to them -- the Republicans dragged America into two military defeats back-to-back, and left the economy destroyed on a scale not seen in almost a century. But the Democrats were scared as they usually are, and by the end of September, both the House and Senate voted to lift the ban on offshore drilling for gas and oil. </p> <p>The last part of the campaign happened so fast, it seemed plausibly spontaneous and grassroots. Before Odom and the Twitter mobs, the push for offshore drilling was much more traditional: several months of Newt Gingrich's backroom efforts and mailers and ads pushing for offshore oil drilling. And then came the surprise: On August 1, 2008, Republicans staged a publicity stunt to take over the floor of the House just a few hours after lawmakers had voted to adjourn for their five-week summer break. The Republicans said they were protesting Speaker Pelosi's decision to go home without voting on offshore drilling.</p> <p><a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/01/politics/main4316334.shtml" target="_blank">According to an AP report from the time:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Republicans occupied the House floor for a rare, and at times bizarre, protest against Democratic energy policies. <br />  <br /> Unlike a normal session where the rules of decorum are strictly enforced, GOP lawmakers and their aides who filled the chamber clapped, chanted, gave standing ovations and booed the Democrats.</p> <p>In a grand finale, lawmakers led a roomful of aides in a rendition of "God Bless America" and walked off to chants of "USA, USA." <br />  <br /> The event, said Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona, one of the organizers with Reps. Mike Pence of Indiana and Tom Price of Georgia, was "the <b>equivalent of the Boston Tea Party over the energy issue."</b> <br />  <br /> Republicans are angry that Democrats blocked them from a vote on allowing <b>more offshore oil drilling </b>and increasing domestic oil supplies.</p></blockquote> <p>This was the launch of the first Tea Party. And a key figure in the August campaign was Eric Odom, new media coordinator from the Koch-affiliated Sam Adams Alliance. Odom also used DontGo Movement to twitter together "grassroots" supporters to back the Republican sit-in on August 1.  </p> <p>Odom's job was to make it look like a spontaneous outburst of middle-class support was joining forces with the Republican politicians in Congress, who fused together in one great oil-drilling movement. This way it would appear to out-of-touch Democrats that the pro-oil-drilling movement was really catching on with regular Americans angry at high gas prices, which they blamed on liberal eco-elitists in Washington, rather than on Bush's two lost wars, and the trashed American economy. </p> <p>Twittering was new at the time; and Odom's twitter-campaign worked better than anyone could have expected. He launched his DontGo Movement on August 1, and a few days later, it was already on CNN: </p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Conservative online activists launch 'DontGo' Web site </strong></p> <p>Posted: August 5th, 2008 </p> <p>(CNN) - A group of conservative online activists launched a new Web site Tuesday to support a call by House Republicans to reconvene Congress and vote on an energy bill.</p> <p>The site, <a href="http://dontgomovement.com/" target="_blank">dontgomovement.com</a>, is intended to be a clearinghouse for information about a protest House Republicans began Friday soon after Congress adjourned for its August recess. More than 1100 people have signed up for an e-mail distribution list associated with the site since a preliminary splash page for it went up on the Internet Monday, according to Eric Odom, one of the organizers behind <a href="http://dontgomovement.com/" target="_blank">dontgomovement.com</a>.</p></blockquote> <p>From there, more Koch-connected groups piled in, including FreedomWorks, the lead Tea Party organizers. In early August, FreedomWorks employees hit the Washington streets <a href="http://www.cnsnews.com/Public/Content/Article.aspx?rsrcid=33765" target="_blank">carrying signs reading, "Drill! Drill! Drill!" </a>telling reporters "that most Americans support expanded domestic drilling."   </p> <p>Nan Swift, Campaign Coordinator for FreedomWorks, was so psyched about protesting for offshore oil drilling that day that she quickly <a href="http://www.freedomworks.org/2008/08/07/gas-price-protest-protest" target="_blank">posted a "stay tuned!" announcement </a>on the FreedomWorks site:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>GAS PRICE PROTEST PROTEST</strong></p> <p><i>By </i><b><i>Nan Swift </i></b><i>on </i><b><i>Aug 06, 2008</i></b></p> <p>On Tuesday FreedomWorks joined with area allies to counter MoveOn's demonstration for an "Oil-Free Presidency." Try Economy-Free. At any rate, the whole write-up will be on up over at <a href="http://www.freedomworks.org/" target="_blank">FreedomWorks.org </a>soon as part of our weekly campaign update. In the meantime, I wanted to make sure you got to see these great links to other people who wrote, took pictures, and great video. Enjoy.</p></blockquote> <p><br />  By late September, the pressure was too much for Pelosi to bear, and Congress caved to Nan Swift's "Drill! Drill!" protest. </p> <p>The campaign was a boon to Eric Odom and to FreedomWorks and gave them the know-how to run the bigger Tea Party campaign later. Gingrich the public face of the "Drill Here Drill Now!" campaign, was the only figure in that campaign who got mugged by reality: on September 23, 2008 -- the same day Gingrich published his pro-offshore drilling manifesto <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Drill-Here-Now-Pay-Less/dp/1596985763" target="_blank">Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less</a> -- Republican heavyweights led by Vice President Dick Cheney were marching around Capitol Hill scaring members into passing a bill far more urgent than the offshore drilling bill championed by Newt, FreedomWorks, and the Koch brothers: the $700 billion Bush Bailout bill. Just to refresh your memory, here's a quick excerpt from the Wall Street Journal that day: </p> <blockquote> <p>White House spokesman Tony Fratto said top administration officials -- Vice President Dick Cheney, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and National Economic Council Director Keith Hennessey -- were lobbying members of Congress Tuesday, including the House of Representative's conservative Republican Study Group. </p></blockquote> <p>The economic collapse and Bush-Cheney billionaire bailouts put Gingrich's big comeback on hold. But ironically enough, the Bush-Cheney bailouts provided Bush-Cheney supporters something new to protest in 2009: the Bush-Cheney bailouts now that President Obama claimed them as his own, and piled trillions more of his own bailouts on top of it.</p> <p>For some reason, the story of how the Tea Party began as the Offshore-Drilling Party has been forgotten or ignored by the media. But the people inside the movement sure know where the Tea Party started, and until the BP disaster, they were damn proud. For example, a leader of the St. Louis Tea Party, Dana Loesch -- known as the "female Michael Savage" by her Tea Party admirers -- <a href="http://biggovernment.com/dloesch/2009/09/12/the-tea-party-movement-how-we-got-here/#more-1326" target="_blank">triumphantly recounted the oil-drilling beginnings of the Tea Party movement </a>last year on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government site: </p> <blockquote> <p><strong>The Tea Party Movement: How We Got Here </strong><br /> by Dana Loesch </p> <p>Something curious happened during the summer of 2008. Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, shut down the House and C-SPAN cameras with a resolution that passed by just one vote, smack in the middle of an energy crisis. Afterwards, Madame Speaker jetted off on a week-long book tour while gas prices soared. </p> <p>The Republicans stood in the dark and refused to leave. A few officials, including John Culberson, took out their phones and began Twittering the action to America, this spawning the #dontgo movement. It was the first nudge to the hibernating conservative constituency who were excited about having something over which to be excited in their party. Netroots activists seethed at the realization that Democrats left America in limbo rather than vote against reducing energy costs and drilling stateside - though the majority of the population approved of such. They rallied around the legislators that had the brass to stay and urged them to "Don't go!"</p> <p>Taxpayer fury over these offenses grew to a shriek in February when Rick Santelli delivered his famous diatribe on the floor of the Chicago exchange. The feelings of angry disenfranchisement felt by so many conservatives coalesced following Santelli's speech.  </p></blockquote> <p>On February 19, 2009, the DontGo Movement morphed into the Tea Party thanks to the "Tea Party Rant" by CNBC's Rick Santelli, a self-described follower of Ayn Rand, who suffered a spaz attack on live television after hearing that President Obama was proposing bailout funds to non-billionaire Americans facing foreclosure. Santelli was fine with the trillions in bailout funds wired to the Wall Street Galts whose shoes he shines for a living. But when Obama offered a bailout of $75 billion in mortgage relief to middle-class Americans, Santelli had a freak-out. Standing in the Chicago exchange floor with all of his derivatives-trading pals, the CNBC tool shouted that he and his casino traders were "fed up" and called for a "Chicago Tea Party" to protest the federal government's bailout of struggling homeowners. "This is America!" Santelli screamed, pointing to his rich derivatives-trading broker friends -- who trade the same derivatives that brought down the American economy and pushed millions of Americans into foreclosure.</p> <p>At the time, we called into question the "spontaneity" of Santelli's rant, seeing instead a typical "launch event" in a coordinated PR campaign designed to look spontaneous. We also wrote about all the links between Santelli's rant, the fan-sites that popped up registered to various Republican fronts including Eric Odom, and further up the chain, familiar Republican free-market operatives, from Dick Armey's FreedomWorks to the Sam Adams Alliance, and Eric Odom's Twittering DontGo front. Many of the instantly-activated sites promoting Santelli's rant that we traced were registered in Chicago -- where Santelli, Eric Odom, and the Sam Adams Alliance were all based. Within days of our expose, Santelli was forced to post an excruciating apology to President Obama on CNBC's, site, and he canceled his appearance on the <em>Jon Stewart Show</em>. He's kept his tea to himself ever since.</p> <p>The money link between the campaign for offshore drilling and the Tea Party campaign was the billionaire Koch brothers and their private oil behemoth, Koch Industries, America's second-largest private company and one of the country's worst oil polluters. </p> <p>The Kochs had good reason to back both offshore drilling and the Tea Party movement, and then want to hush it all up after the BP spill: that's because Koch Industries has a history of horrific oil spills right here in America.</p> <p><a href="http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwatch/koch-industries/koch-industries-environmental" target="_blank">Greenpeace </a>recently published a list of Koch Industries disasters, which reads like a crime dossier on deregulation. Last year, for example, a Koch subsidiary was ordered to pay out half a billion dollars to fix environmental violations; while a decade ago, in 2000, Koch was fined for causing 300 spills and charted with releasing 91 tons of a known carcinogen from a Texas Refinery, leading to a $350 million fine (which Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft discounted down to $20 million). And just a few weeks ago, the <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-cleanair_26met.ART.State.Edition2.4948870.html" target="_blank">Dallas Morning News </a>reported that the EPA took over the licensing process from Texas for a Koch refinery, which is accused of gross violations of the Clean Air Act.</p> <p>So let's go over this again: Not only was the Tea Party movement supported by oil industry money, especially Koch Industries, but it was organized by the same people who Tea Partied Congress into opening up America's coastline to unlimited oil drilling. The Tea Party did that -- they manipulated and frightened Washington into giving them all the pristine American coastline that a billionaire could ever dream of poisoning, and then some. On top of that, the free-market advocacy groups at the center of the Tea Party movement are responsible for the systematic destruction of government regulation, which made a disaster like the Gulf spill inevitable. </p> <p>So remember that when you look at the poisoned Gulf of Mexico, and the ruined beaches of Florida: That's the Tea Party Vision turned into our reality. The gang running the Tea Party movement has some direct responsibility for the catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, maybe more so than BP itself. No wonder the Tea Party crowd is staying out of sight and hoping everyone's forgotten. They've been talking about dumping tea, but all along they've been dumping oil, and now we're finding out just how "maverick" and "anti-establishment" their movement really is. </p> <p>Keep this in mind the next time the mainstream media sucks up to the Teabaggers as some sort of "authentic America" anti-establishment movement: it was born in offshore oil drilling, and America is now dying from offshore drilling.   </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '662519'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662519" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 10 Jun 2010 21:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, Yasha Levine, AlterNet 662519 at https://img.alternet.org World World republicans oil spill tea party british petroleum eric odom The Really Creepy People Behind the Libertarian-Inspired Billionaire Sea Castles https://img.alternet.org/story/147058/the_really_creepy_people_behind_the_libertarian-inspired_billionaire_sea_castles <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '662419'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662419" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The stinking rich are planning billion-dollar luxury liners that keep the land-based Americans they&#039;ve plundered at a safe distance.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>What happens when Americans plunder America and leave it broken, destitute and seething mad? Where do these fabulously wealthy Americans go with their loot, if America isn't a safe, secure, or even desirable place to spend their riches? What if they lose faith in their gated communities, because those plush gated communities are surrounded by millions of pissed-off Americans stripped of their entitlements, and who now want in?<br /><br /> We finally have the answer, and you're not going to like it: a new fleet of castles that float in the oceans. The super-wealthy are already building their first floating castle, a billion-dollar-plus luxury liner that offers permanent multimillion-dollar housing with the best protection of all: moats made of oceans, keeping the land-based Americans they've plundered at a safe distance.<br /><br /> The first such floating castle has been christened the "<a href="http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/real_estate/0912/gallery.Utopia_residences_ocean_liner/3.html">Utopia</a>"--the South Korean firm Samsung has been contracted to build the $1.1 billion ship, due to be launched in 2013. Already orders are coming in to buy one of the Utopia's 200 or so mansions for sale-<a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/11/business/la-fi-cruise-ship11-2010jan11/3">-which range in price</a> from about $4 million for the smallest condos to over $26 million for 6,600 square-foot "estates." The largest mansion is a whopping 40,000 square feet, and sells for $160 million.<br /><br /> It's the first of its kind to offer permanent housing units to buyers, and there'll be plenty on board the Utopia for the global elite inhabitants to keep themselves entertained: an outdoor movie theater, casino, miniature golf course, nightclubs, restaurants, shops, and a water park for the elites' heirs (featuring a "Lazy River," rock-climbing wall and water slides). At nearly 1,000 feet, the Utopia is almost as long as a nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.<br /><br /> The floating castle is a longtime dream of libertarian oligarchs -- a place where they can live their lives in peace free from the teeming masses of starving losers and indebted parasites and their tax demands. Since they’ve grown so rich off of America, they have enough spare change to fund projects like the Seasteading Institute, run by Milton Friedman's grandson, Patri Friedman, and financed by the bizarre right-wing PayPal founder, Peter Thiel. It couldn't have come a moment sooner for Milton Friedman's grandson, who was best known until recently for running a grotesque advice blog for married swingers, <a href="http://pua4ltr.wordpress.com/">PUA4LTR (Pick Up Advice For Long-Term Relationships)</a>. Actually, Patri Friedman ran that pick-up advice blog with his wife--the two of them are apparent big-time cyber-swingers, apparently--<a href="http://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/06/patri-friedman/beyond-folk-activism/">posting blog entries saying things like</a> "Why Should Husbands Become PUAs? Because otherwise, your wife will talk like those wives on the blog My Husband Is Annoying."<br /><br /> Both Thiel and Milton Friedman's grandson see democracy as the enemy--last year, Thiel wrote "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible" at about the same time that Milton Friedman's grandson proclaimed, "Democracy is not the answer." Both published their anti-democracy proclamations in the same billionaire-Koch-family-funded outlet, Cato Unbound, one of the oldest billionaire-fed libertarian welfare dispensaries. Friedman's answer for Thiel's democracy problem is to build offshore libertarian pod-fortresses where the libertarian way rules. It's probably better for everyone if Milton Friedman's grandson and Peter Thiel leave us forever for their libertarian ocean lair--Thiel believes that America went down the tubes ever since it gave women the right to vote, and he was <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/paypals-peter-thiel-funded-acorn-sting-2009-9">outed as the sponsor of accused felon James O'Keefe's smear videos</a> that brought ACORN to ruin.<br /><br /> While Thiel and Friedman are busy cooking up their libertarian dystopia, the Frontier Group investment firm -- an offshoot of the Carlyle Group -- has already entered the realization phase with the Utopia floating castle. Frontier Group, was founded by some of the same big names from the notorious Carlyle Group--the private equity firm that brought together right-wing oligarchs like George H. W. Bush and other top American officials with their billionaire pals in Saudi Arabia like the Bin Laden family, who together raked in enormous profits thanks to the War on Terror that their kids Dubya and Osama launched.<br /><br /> While neither Bush nor the Bin Ladens are principals in the Frontier Group, its founding director, Frank Carlucci, is a name they know well, and you should too. Carlucci ran the Carlyle Group as its chairman from 1989 through 2005, right around the time that the wars started going undeniably bad, and floating castles started to look like a viable plan. But Carlucci's past is much weirder and scarier than most of us care to know: whether it's his strangely timed appearances in some of the ugliest assassinations and coups in modern history, or serving as Carter's number two man in the CIA, and Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Defense, if Frank Carlucci (nicknamed "Creepy Carlucci" and "Spooky Frank") is the founding director of a firm that's building floating castles, it's a bad sign for those of us left behind.<br /><br /> I'll get into Carlucci's partners in the Frontier Group in a moment, but first, let's reacquaint ourselves with <a href="http://www.counterpunch.org/schorcarlucci.html">Frank Carlucci</a>. From an early age, Carlucci learned the importance of getting to know the right people in the right places. He studied at Princeton in the mid-1950s, where as luck should have it, Carlucci roomed with Donald Rumsfeld. Both Carlucci and Rumsfeld shared a passion for Greco-Roman wrestling at Princeton, and both went on to serve in the Navy after Princeton. Their paths would split and merge several times over the next few decades, even as they remained close personal friends throughout their lives. In the late 1950s, Carlucci briefly served as an executive at a lingerie manufacturer, Jantzen (the Victoria's Secret of its day), but quickly left to join the State Department.<br /><br /> At age 30 Carlucci was named vice consul of the U.S. embassy in the Congo--just in time for the colony's independence from Belgium. Of all the European colonies in Africa, Congo suffered perhaps the worst, at least that we know about: the Belgians exterminated up to 10 million Congolese between 1885 and 1908, and introduced the now-widespread punishment of hacking off Africans' forearms to scare everyone into submission. All of this was done in order to strip the Congo of its lucrative rubber, ivory, and later, precious metals, as quickly as possible, and send the riches back to Belgium.<br /><br /> Naturally the Belgians didn't want to let go of their colony, so they held out until 1960, when the Congo finally was granted independence and democratic elections. Unfortunately for the Congo, America didn't like way they voted--so two months after Patrice Lumumba was elected president, he was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup, taken out into the jungle, murdered, chopped into little pieces with a hacksaw, and then dissolved in sulfuric acid. Carlucci has been accused of green-lighting Lumumba's assassination by <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/company-man?page=0,">multiple investigative reporters</a>.<br /><br /> The dictator who replaced Lumumba was a CIA asset named Joseph Mobutu--the notorious dictator who brought the Congo to ruin after embezzling more than any dictator in Africa. Mobutu was finally deposed in 1997, but the wars since then have claimed roughly six million lives, the bloodiest conflicts since World War II.<br /><br /> After his success in Congo, it was all uphill for Carlucci: he moved to the Brazil embassy just in time for the military coup in 1964, then went to Washington to serve as deputy to his buddy Donald Rumsfeld in Nixon's Office of Economic Opportunity, where the young Dick Cheney was making his name. The first thing they did upon taking control of the OEO was conduct a purge of "subversives" firing up to a quarter of the staff. In 1974, Carlucci was named ambassador to Portugal just in time for the overthrow of the dictatorship--Carlucci saw to it that the communists who led the overthrow were themselves overthrown by IMF-friendly "moderate" socialists, and a few years later, he was back in Washington serving as the number two man in the CIA under Carter.<br /><br /> Once that agency was sufficiently gutted, he moved on to other forms of destruction: In 1974, Carlucci was named ambassador to Portugal just in time for the overthrow of the dictatorship--Carlucci saw to it that the Communists who led the overthrow were themselves overthrown by IMF-friendly "moderate" socialists, and a few years later, he was back in Washington DC serving as the number two man in the CIA under Carter. In 1981, Reagan named him deputy Defense Secretary; Carlucci left in 1983 to head up Sears World Trade, a trading company involved in shady arms deals that was once described by F<em>ortune</em> magazine as a front for US intelligence ops. Once that collapsed, Carlucci moved back to the Reagan Administration as National Security Advisor and then Defense Secretary.</p> <p>In 1989, Carlucci left to become chairman of the fledging Carlyle Group, which subsequently morphed into the monster we remember it by: using its highly paid A-list of public officials to lobby big government for lucrative contracts, profiting off of privatized rest stops and unnecessary arms contracts, leaving the public to foot the bill while guys like Carlucci run around preaching the benefits of private enterprise.<br /><br /> Carlucci may be the scariest of the Frontier Group bunch building the floating castles, but he's among his kind. Other Carlyle Group directors who joined Carlucci at Frontier include David Robb, who headed up Carlyle's investments in defense and aerospace; Sanford McDonnell, the former CEO of McDonnell Douglass and onetime head of the Boy Scouts of America; and Norman Augustine, another ex-president of the Boy Scouts, another Princeton alum, and former board director at the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A28396-2004May14?language=printer">scandal-plagued Riggs bank</a>.<br /><br /> Riggs bank became one of those dark unsolved mysteries of the Bush-Cheney War on Terror. After the attacks on 9/11, the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&amp;sid=a9Rw1dDNv3gE&amp;refer=uk%E2%80%A8">FBI discovered that Saudi government officials used accounts</a> at Riggs bank to wire funds to at least two known associates of the Saudi hijackers who crashed Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Riggs was also implicated in the Britain-Saudi $3 billion bribery scandal, in which British Aerospace bribes were wired through Riggs accounts to Saudi officials in return for lucrative contracts. One of Riggs bank's top executives was Jonathan Bush, the brother of George H. W. Bush, after Riggs bought out Jonathan Bush's bank in 1997, and appointed him as a director. In 2005, with Riggs embroiled in investigations and scandals--Riggs pled guilty to money laundering Augusto Pinochet's stolen funds, and the funds of various Equatorial Guinea officials-- it was taken over by PNC bank, with the approval of Fed Chair Alan Greenspan. Even after the Washington Post revealed that Riggs' billionaire chairman flew Greenspan's wife, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell, on the company jet.<br /><br /> But the weirdest of all the Frontier Group directors has to be founding director Danny Pang. Last year, the <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-how-to-fake-your-way-to-billions-2009-4#ixzz0o0Im2gIA"><em>Wall Street Journal</em> reported</a> that Pang embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from his private equity firm PEMGroup. Pang claimed he was investing money in "Dead Peasants Insurance" (life insurance policies for people considered likely to die), but in secret, Pang confided to PEMGroup's ex-president that he ran it as a Ponzi scheme. That sparked a fresh FBI investigation into Danny Pang's crimes--which led back to the unsolved murder of his wife, Janie Louise Pang, a 33-year-old ex-stripper who was shot to death execution style in their Irvine, California home in 1997, the same year Pang was accused of embezzling three million dollars from another fund he worked at. There was plenty of reason to suspect Danny Pang of murdering his wife: he beat her so often (breaking her nose on one occasion) that police were called in on at least four occasions before her murder. She'd had him tailed by a private detective who discovered Danny holding hands with another woman shortly before she was murdered. Danny had known ties to the Taiwanese Triad mob, he took the fifth and refused to cooperate in the murder trial, and reportedly threatened Janie's friends after her murder, demanding to know what Janie told them about his business activities.<br /><br /> Here is a description of the actual murder, from the <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2002/oct/03/local/me-murder03"><em>L.A. Times</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>According to the family maid and two of Pang's children, a clean-cut man with a pencil-thin mustache arrived at the door asking for her husband. The pair talked casually for a couple of minutes, until the man drew a semiautomatic pistol. Pang began running and the maid, terrified, spirited Pang's children out the back door. Within minutes, the killer caught up with Pang, who tried to hide in her bedroom closet. The killer fired several .380-caliber rounds and left her to bleed to death as she lay in a fetal position.</p></blockquote> <p>Somehow, the trial ended with a hung jury, and Danny Pang went on to join Frank Carlucci and the Boy Scouts presidents to start building the world's first billion-dollar floating castle to spirit away all that stolen money in luxury. But Pang was apparently too careless for them. He was outted last spring in the Wall Street Journal, and in September 2009, Danny Pang was found dead of unknown causes in his Newport Beach home.<br /><br /> After a three-month investigation, Pang's death <a href="http://www.modelminority.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_ccboard&amp;view=postlist&amp;forum=200&amp;topic=200&amp;Itemid=53">was ruled a suicide</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>John C. Hiserodt, a private forensic pathologist in Cypress, Calif., reviewed the toxicology report released by the coroner. He said it showed that Mr. Pang had roughly five times the typical fatal levels of both oxycodone and hydrocodone in his blood, plus the equivalent still in his stomach of about 30 oxycodone pills of 10 milligrams apiece. "You don't get this level of drug accidentally," he said. "It's pretty clearly a suicide."</p></blockquote> <p>Meanwhile, plans to launch the Utopia are moving ahead on schedule.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '662419'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662419" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 01 Jun 2010 21:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, AlterNet 662419 at https://img.alternet.org Economy Investigations Economy milton friedman billionaires carlyle group frank carlucci utopia floating castles danny pang peter thiel seasteading institute Top Billionaire Hedge Funder Sees Himself As a Hyena Devouring Wildebeests https://img.alternet.org/story/146964/top_billionaire_hedge_funder_sees_himself_as_a_hyena_devouring_wildebeests <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '662319'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662319" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We&#039;re ruled over by people who despise us and think of us as prey and themselves as hyenas, busy devouring everything they can.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Ray Dalio is a billionaire hedge fund manager who makes more money in a single day than most Americans will earn in their entire lifetimes. That’s because hedge funds are the top of the Wall Street food chain — and Dalio runs the largest hedge fund of all, Bridgewater Associates. Life’s good at the top of this food chain: in 2008, a bad year for most Americans, Dalio took home $780 million. That same $780 million could have paid the salaries of about 20,000 teachers — and those 20,000 teachers could have taught about 400,000 American students (using author Les Leopold’s <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/les-leopold/why-are-25-hedge-fund-man_b_531420.html">calculations)</a>. A lot of people might find this offensive and unjust, but not Dalio—he thinks this is all part of Nature’s Plan, and it just so happens that Nature favors the hedge fund managers:</p> <p>“<b>I believe that self-interest and society’s interests are generally symbiotic</b> [bold--Dalio’s]…That is why how much money people have earned is a rough measure of how much they gave society what it wanted.”</p> <p>So now we know why hedge fund managers are raking in record pay (last year, the top 25 hedge fund managers earned on average about $1 billion each), while hundreds of thousands of America’s teachers are getting fired all across the country: Nature hates teachers and other do-gooders. Sure, Dalio’s hedge fund is flush thanks in no small part to all the teachers retirement funds that Bridgewater managed to tap—without those teachers pooling their money together, he’d have a lot less to plunder, and society would never even know what a great person he is.</p> <p>To which Dalio would answer, “Be a hyena. Attack the wildebeest.”</p> <p>Did you write that down yet? Because that’s Cruel Reality According to Ray Dalio, a self-described “hyperrealist” and author of a bulky book of maxims leaked recently via the financial blog <i><a href="http://dealbreaker.com/2010/05/bridgewater-associates-be-the-hyena-attack-the-wildebeest/">Dealbreaker</a></i>. Dalio titled his collection of maxims—some 250 in all-- “<i>Principles</i>” and he makes every Bridgewater employee memorize it. A weighty title like <i>Principles </i>might have you thinking he’s the Descartes of the new millennium. Except that his philosophy comes down to something like this: I [am too rich to] think, therefore I am [a delusional asshole].” Or better yet, “If I’m so rich, then you ain’t smart.”</p> <p>You can read Dalio’s <i>Principles</i> thanks to the folks at <em>Dealbreaker</em>who leaked it last week. Imagine some Ayn Rand geek a few decades later and a few billion dollars richer, and you get Dalio’s Principles, exemplified by his “Be a hyena” maxim:</p> <blockquote> <p>When a pack of hyenas takes down a young wildebeest, is that good or evil? At face value, that might not be “good” because it seems cruel, and the poor wildebeest suffers and dies. Some people might even say that the hyenas are evil. Yet this type of apparently “cruel” behavior exists throughout the animal kingdom. Like death itself, it is integral to the enormously complex and efficient system that has worked for as long as there has been life. It is good for both the hyenas who are operating in their self- interest and the interest of the greater system, including those of the wildebeest, because killing and eating the wildebeest fosters evolution (i.e., the natural process of improvement). In fact, if you changed anything about the way that dynamic works, the overall outcome would be worse.</p></blockquote> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt;" class="MsoNormal">That’s right, America’s largest hedge fund manager sees himself as a hyena, and the rest of us as his wildebeest. As awful as it reads, coming from the mouth of one of the oligarchy’s most powerful barons, it also reveals what an idiot Dalio is. Does he even know anything about the hyena he compares himself to—specifically the spotted hyena, since that’s the only hyena that regularly feasts on wildebeest? Can he handle the truth? Because he’s not going to like it—not unless a macho hedge fund manager like Dalio is into being dominated by bitches.</p> <p>See, spotted hyenas are matriarchal. The females rule each clan, with male hyenas always expected to submit to even the lowest female in the pecking order. The females also sport enormous clitorises as large as the male hyenas’ penises. If there’s a domestic dispute in the hyena clan, the submissive female hyena’s clitoris grows an erection as a sign of her submission to the alpha-queen hyena (the male hyenas cower and scurry around with their tails between heir legs). </p> <p>Here’s a description of the female hyena’s bizarre “pseudopenis”:</p> <p>The labia are fused into what looks like a scrotum, complete with two pads of fatty tissue that resemble testes. In addition, the clitoris is elongated to the point that it is nearly the size of a male's penis and is likewise fully erectile. Astonishingly, females mate and give birth through the long, narrow canal running down the center of this "pseudopenis." During mating it retracts much like a shirt sleeve being pushed up, and during birth it stretches so much that it looks like a water balloon. "From a human perspective, the process can be thought of as giving birth through an unusually large penis," <a href="http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/ZooGoer/1995/3/sexandthespottedhyena.cfm">says Frank.</a></p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt;" class="MsoNormal">Even Andrea Dworkin would cringe, but for Ray Dalio, this is the description of the ideal Bridgewater employee. Dalio is a major Republican donor—he gave $2 million to the Republican convention in 2008 where Sarah Palin made her debut—and he’s a self-described bow hunter who kills Cape Buffalo and wart hogs. Besides the fact that spotted hyenas live in warthog burrows and generally get along fine with them, Ray Dalio sees himself and his fellow hedge fund billionaires as the spotted hyenas of the gh --and he’s just as successful, by his own boasting: “Like the hyenas attacking the wildebeest, successful people might not even know if or how their pursuit of self-interest helps society, but it typically does.”</p> <p>And yet, as Robin Meadows writes in the Smithsonian Zoogoer, hyenas are the only known species who get erections as “a submissive gesture” to the dominant female.</p> <p>Who would have guessed Ray Dalio is so dickless, and proud of it?</p> <p>But there’s more about the spotted hyena for the aspiring hedge fund maverick to admire: like the spotted hyena’s two pronounced anal glands that squirt out a white pasty substance which produces a “powerful soapy odor which even humans can detect”—that way, you and I can smell if we’ve crossed into a Bridgewater partner’s territory. And hyenas eat anything and everything. It’s true that they chase down wildebeests. But they’re just as happy to eat someone else’s wildebeest too—even if it’s been rotting for days in the Serengeti. Hyenas will follow vultures all the way to some other predator’s kill, then chase them away and devour it themselves. You’ve heard of Wall Street Vultures? Well, hyenas are the vultures of vultures. Nothing makes them sick. Nothing. Spotted hyenas eat every single fucking thing on a rotting corpse, and to prove their point, hyenas begin their meals anuswise: by chewing through the carcass’s anus until reaching the entrails, then tearing into the belly and opening up the whole smorgasborg of guts and ribs and flesh—and finally chewing up and swallowing the rest: hooves, bones, skull, horns…everything is devoured. Almost everything is digested; there’s almost nothing left for a spotted hyena to shit, just a puff of “white powder with a few hairs.”</p> <p>So to recap: if you want to be like billionaire Ray Dalio, you need to be a submissive vulture-chasing scavenger with no gag reflex whatsoever, willing to swallow anything at all, living with warthogs, scampering away from boner-popping females, and occasionally shitting out plumes of chalk dust. Which is a pretty good description of the Bridgewater Associates employee, as this ex-employee’s confession in <i>Dealbreaker</i> shows:</p> <blockquote> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 0.0001pt;" class="MsoNormal">Most management meetings and department meetings are recorded, both the business and tech side, as are individual quarterly reviews or any meeting at managements discretion. Often if a manager or Ray thinks something is worth educational value they will email out a meeting recording company wide, these usually involve the individual getting shredded publicly for the greater good of the company. An example would be like when former COO Hope Woodhouse was shredded in front of the management committee and the sessions were sent out to the company to learn from (she was brought to the point of crying in the recording). Everyone is encouraged to given open and honest feedback so meetings often resort to public shaming and the demolition of people. 360s end up being everyone’s chance to totally dig on and destroy other individuals and say whatever things all year you’ve hated about people, 90% of feedback received in 360s is negative.</p></blockquote> <p>From the outside people think it’s a nice wholesome principled place that wants to cut through the corporate BS but it’s anything but. Ray’s hyper realism (in “Principles”) is insane. Once you read it you’ll get the idea--it’s all about adherence and indoctrination.</p> <p>One of the secrets to Bridgewater’s success is that unlike most hedge funds, Dalio’s avoids wealthy clients in favor of public funds: teachers retirement funds, public and private pension funds, central banks, endowments and the like. In other words, this hyena avoids costly scavenging fights with other predators, in favor of easier kills—that is, us wildebeests. Sure, it may not seem fair that the billionaire’s hedge funds have been decimating pension funds over the past decade with unfulfilled promises of high returns, levying shocking fees and expenses, all tainted with accusations of bribery, kickbacks and corruption. But you have to look at it through Ray Dalio’s eyes, you’ll see that it’s all just cruel nature at work, and anyone who thinks differently is just a weakling, or worse, a wildebeest.</p> <p>What makes this all so goddamn humiliating is how banal and comical this is. Ever since the early 1980s, metal heads and computer-science libertarians have been riffing on this same pimply-faced Social Darwinism—joined by the Ayn Rand Trekkies and all the other misfits. Who would have thought that the Revenge of the Nerds would look this absurd—and this awful? It’s such a cliché that it’s become the butt of sitcom jokes on NBC’s “The Office,” with its Ayn Rand libertarian dweeb Dwight Schrute. Even Dwight’s boss, played by Steve Carrell, gets in on the Social Darwinism act when he decides he’s Going Ray Dalio on a rival family-owned paper company. Here’s how Carrell describes the same philosophy that Dalio swears by: “In nature, there is something called a food chain; it's where the shark eats a little shark. And the little shark eats a littler shark. And so on and so on. Until you get down to the single cell shark. So now replace sharks with paper companies and that is all you need to know about business.”<br /><br /> But Dalio has no idea he’s just a parody of himself. And it does us no good at all that he’s a parody—because this parody of a fascist is still plundering America’s wealth. So when Dalio parrots the parody, it’s not all that funny, not to us anyway. He doesn’t even care about the billions he’s plundering—it just makes him feel strong, that’s all:</p> <blockquote> <p> ... people who have made a lot of money typically never made making a lot of money their primary goal. Instead, they typically engaged in the game or craft of what they were doing, got very good at it and society rewarded them because it valued what they were doing. In other words, I believe that the way “reality” generally works is that it is the pursuit of self-interest that motivates people to push themselves to do the difficult things that are required to produce what society wants, and society rewards those who give it what it wants. That is why self-interest is a far more powerful force for good than mercy and charity, though mercy and charity are certainly natural and beneficial forces in some cases.</p></blockquote> <p>And to add to the insult, Dalio wants to lecture us as he's chewing into our anuses. Because we're crude slobs who make the billionaires sick. In December of 2007, a Dalio foundation ran an ad in the Wall Street Journal denouncing Christmas consumerism--for some reason, rich people, especially the sons and daughters of rich people, started Going Naomi Klein every Christmas, and Dalio wanted in on the act if that's where the hyenas were heading. So his ad campaign, "Redefining Christmas," sneered at the wildebeests: "No sooner does Thanksgiving end, than the loathsome shopping season begins--a monthlong compulsion to buy something, anything, for anyone."</p> <p>And that's it. We’re ruled over by crazies who despise us and think of us as wildebeests and themselves as hyenas, and don’t even care that it’s a laughable analogy because they’re too fucking lazy and stupid and too busy devouring everything they can. And in case you thought things were about to change, and that financial reform was failing only because of the Republicans, I’ll leave you with this scene from a <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/12/091012fa_fact_lizza">New Yorker article</a> published last October, titled Inside The Crisis: Larry Summers and the White House Economic Team, recounting last spring’s “stress tests” on the bailed-out banks. Those tests, you’ll recall, were roundly criticized as a joke and a fraud, but Obama’s economic team wasn’t interested in our opinions. Guess who’s opinion they sought to please most of all:</p> <blockquote>The results of the stress tests showed that the banks were not in as dire shape as commonly believed. Most of the nineteen banks were able to raise money privately. “It worked,” the Treasury official said. “People had money to put into banks. The nationalization crowd would have had the government putting all that money in.” On the day the results of the stress tests were released, Geithner met with the President. He smiled and handed Obama the first page of a report from Bridgewater Associates, a private investment firm that had consistently taken a dim view of Treasury’s plans. The report was headlined “We Agree!”</blockquote> <p>There you have it--the entire goal of Obama's economic team was to get a self-described hyena to take a break from his wildebeest feeding frenzy to give a big thumbs-up in approval and cackle, “We agree!” This pretty much answers every question about why nothing has changed for the better in the wake of the financial crisis—it’s a matter of perspective. Everything’s better for the hyenas—that’s just the way Nature wanted it, and that’s the way it’ll be until we wake up. Remember, even wildebeests can kick a hyena to death. Their power is in numbers—and in the real Nature, wildebeests are winning, while hyenas are protected by conservation efforts. It’s only in the human world—our world-- that the hyenas are winning.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '662319'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662319" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 21 May 2010 11:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, AlterNet 662319 at https://img.alternet.org Economy Economy wall street hedge funds ray dalio 10 Ways the American Economy Is Built on Fraud https://img.alternet.org/story/146674/10_ways_the_american_economy_is_built_on_fraud <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Fraud has become so endemic in this country that it&#039;s woven its way into America’s DNA.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>Here are 10 ways the American economy is built on fraud:</em></p> <p><strong>1).</strong><strong>Accounting Fraud</strong>: Last year, America’s leading banks were insolvent. They had tens or hundreds of billions in losses on their books, and the only way to wipe those losses out would be to either a) own up to the mess, raise enormous amounts of money on top of all the bailout money; or b) get out a big fat eraser, and wipe those losses off the books as if they never existed. The first option was nice and all, but a real hassle. So Geithner and Larry Summers chose Door Number Two: Accounting Fraud. They forced the FASB to accept a rule-change in the accounting methodology called “mark-to-model” which let banks decide how much their assets were worth, rather than letting the markets decide. So if for example a BofA owned a complex security called “Orion Butt Fungus” that was worth 5 pesos on the open market, but BofA was too broke to go out and raise 5 pesos to cover that loss, under the new accounting rules, the government told BofA that rather than pricing “Orion Butt Fungus” at what the market will actually pay for it, why not first ask, “How much would BofA like ‘Orion Butt Fungus’ to be worth, in a perfect world?’” If BofA answers, “Doyee, gee I dunno, how about $500 million?” then under the “mark-to-model” accounting rules, BofA could now value “Orion Butt Fungus” at $500 million, and voila! Their problems are over. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Suddenly, BofA looks like it knows how to pick winners! And no one’s going to second-guess them, because everyone else is mark-to-modeling their “Orion Butt Fungi” too! The end result: under the old rules, BofA would have had to raise money just to cover its debts, sort of like you and me have to do, and that’s just a lot of money going to waste. But now that its portfolio is so profitable, BofA has a much easier time raising money, which it uses to pay ginormous bonuses to its executives.</p> <p><strong>2).</strong> <strong>Big Pharma Fraud</strong>. Remember that scene early in <em>Fight Club</em>, when Edward Norton explained his job, when it was more profitable to let a car defect go and pay whatever lawsuit settlements come from the deaths, and when it’s better to recall the cars because the number of deaths will result in too many lawsuits? This is humanitarian do-gooder stuff compared to the savage real-world fraud-for-profit model that drives America’s drug companies. It’s really simple and it goes like this: the more fraud a drug company commits, so long as it’s off-the-scale fraud with the most horrible consequences for the victims, the drug company’s profits always outdo the criminal fines and lawsuits by factors of 20, 30, 100… It’s as simple as that. Because the billion in penalties here or the two billion in class action lawsuit settlements there are always far less than the tens of billions you earn from pushing harmful drugs on unsuspecting idiots. To wit: Between May 2004 and March 2010, a handful of top drug companies like Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers paid over $7 billion in criminal penalties for bribing doctors to prescribe drugs for unapproved uses, with sometimes deadly consequences. However, as a Bloomberg report noted, the fines are always a fraction of the profits—Pfizer alone paid almost $3 billion in criminal fines since 2004, yet that was just one percent of their total revenues; Eli Lilly got busted bribing doctors to prescribe a schizophrenia drug, Zyprexa, to elderly patients suffering from dementia, even though company-run clinical trials showed an alarming death rate of 31 people out of 1,184 participants (double the placebo rate). Whatever—the market for elderly dementia patients meant billions in extra revenues. So Eli Lilly continued pushing Zyprexa on the elderly for another four years until it the Feds busted them. Eli Lilly got hit with $1.42 billion fine, but that was peanuts compared to the $36 billion it earned on Zyprexa sales from 2000-2008. To make it happen, the drug companies buy off all the checks and balances: lawsuits revealed the enormous bribes they pay to doctors, and even America’s medical journals are so corrupted by drug company influence that they’re no longer reliable as much more than hidden advertisements, <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/14/MNKF14GTLO.DTL">according to a recent UCSF study</a>. Medical journals are 5 times more likely to publish “positive” drug reviews than negative reviews, and one-quarter of all clinical trials are never published at all, leading doctors to prescribe drugs assuming they have all the information. The result: <a href="http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2008/06/08/prescription_for_disaster_drugs_lies_and_greed/">prescription drugs kill one American every five minutes</a> …while Americans pay more for drugs than anyone in the world, spending a total of $12 billion on drugs in 1980 to spending $291 billion in 2008—a 1,700% increase. America is ranked only 17<sup>th</sup> in the world in life expectancy.</p> <p><strong>3).</strong><strong>Alan Greenspan: Fraudonomics Maestro</strong>. America’s central banker from 1987-2006 once told a do-gooder regulator not to fuck with the bankers’ fraud schemes, because in Greenspan’s mind, fraud was not a crime and didn’t need to be regulated. Then Greenspan forced the regulator, Brooksley Born, to resign. Just in time for his next and final act as Central Bank chief: from 2001-2004, Greenspan pumped up the biggest housing bubble in human history by holding rates down to nothing, while touring the country <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/speeches/2004/20040223/">promoting the glories of subprime and Alt-A mortgages</a>. Then in late 2005, when the bubble was ready to burst, Greenspan tendered his resignation and switched over to the other side, signing lucrative contracts with three investment firms all of which bet big against gullible American homeowners, and reaped billions. First, Greenspan signed up to work for Deutsche Bank, which is being sued for securities fraud for selling an Abacus-like CDO to a Warren Buffett-owned bank, M&amp;T; Greenspan also worked for Pimco, which earned $2 billion in a single day in September 2008, when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were nationalized with Greenspan’s lobbying help; and lastly, Greenspan went to work for Paulson &amp; Co., the hedge fund that raked in $1 billion off the same Abacus CDO deal that brought the SEC fraud suit against Goldman Sachs. It’s an unusually perfect record for Greenspan, given his atrocious forecasting record at the Fed. It recalls the old Greenspan circa 1984-5, when he worked as a lobbyist for Charles Keating trying to push regulators off his back and vouching on the record for Keating’s character…Keating was eventually jailed for fraud in the worst savings and loan collapse of all.</p> <p><strong>4).</strong><strong>Municipal Debt Fraud.</strong>America’s $2.8 trillion municipal bond market is rife with fraud of the sort you’d expect in an emerging tinpot economy: opacity rather than transparency, plenty of corruption and kickbacks, resulting in decimated budgets and services cutbacks in communities across the country. The problem all stems from way the bonds are issued these days: instead of holding open tenders, nearly all are the result of backroom deals. Back in 1970, only 15 percent of municipal bond contracts were awarded through no-bid contracts; last year, 85% of muni bond deals were assigned in no-bid, non-transparent agreements. Studies show that no-bid bonds invariably cost municipalities more than bonds resulting from open tenders. So far, fraud and corruption charges have been leveled against state employees and city councilors in Florida, New York, New Mexico, Alabama and California, to name a few. Muni bond defaults soared from just $348 million in 2007 to $7.4 billion in 2008—that’s an increase of 20 times– with growing numbers of cities, counties and states on the verge of bankruptcy.</p> <p><strong>5).</strong><strong>Journalism fraud.</strong>The Washington Post got caught whoring out their venerable editorial staff to corporate lobbyists for anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000 a date, depending on the access. The Atlantic Monthly admitted to TalkingPointsMemo that it routinely sold access to its editorial staff for cash. As for business journalism, all sorts of articles and studies have asked the obvious question: “How did every mainstream business outlet miss the financial collapse of 2008?” Among all the self-flagellating mea-kinda-culpas, you won’t find the word “fraud” in their answer. Speaking of business journalism and fraud, The Business Insider, one of the top business news blogs, published a pair of articles defending Goldman Sachs against the SEC fraud charges. The author of the articles defending Goldman Sachs is Business Insider’s co-founder and editor, Henry Blodget. In 2003, Blodget himself was charged with securities fraud by the SEC for repeatedly misleading clients into buying stocks of companies that in <a href="http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/wallstreet.html">private emails Blodget referred to as “piece of shit.”</a> Under the terms of Blodget’s settlement with the SEC, he agreed to a lifetime ban from the securities industry, and he paid $4 million in fines and disgorgements. Since he is not barred from the world of business journalism, Blodget was able to post an article last Friday headlined: “HOLD EVERYTHING: The SEC’s Fraud Case Against Goldman Seems VERY Weak.”</p> <p><strong>6).</strong><strong>Fraudonomics K-12.</strong> If you want your kid to grow up to succeed in a fraud-based economy, you need to teach him the ABC’s of cheating starting at a young age. This is one area where America’s schools aren’t failing their students. Cheating is so rampant in schools that nowadays if the student doesn’t cheat on his exam, chances are his teacher or administrator will cheat on his test for him. One in five elementary schools in Georgia are currently being investigated for tampering with the students’ standardized test scores—although suspicious patterns of erasing and remarking answers showed up in half of the state’s elementary schools. In California, as many as two-thirds of its public schools admitted to fudging its students’ standardized test scores. A survey of graduate school students found that 53 percent of business school grad students admitted to cheating, more than any other grad school discipline. Overall, up to 98 percent of college students today admit to cheating, compared to just 20 percent who cheated in 1940.</p> <p><strong>7).</strong><strong>Boardroom Fraud.</strong> Corporate America’s boardrooms are stacked up these days in tight, intertwined relationships that turn public companies into crime scenes, plundering money from unsuspecting shareholders and divvying up the loot among the directors and top executives. In 2008, Chesapeake Energy’s stock price collapsed from $74 per share to $9.84, wiping out $33 billion in shareholder value. The CEO, Aubrey McClendon, gambled and lost 94% of his stock in the company on a margin call, personally losing about $2 billion. So what did the board of directors do? They voted to award McClendon $112 million for 2008, the highest of any CEO in America. Shareholders were outraged, calling it a “bailout,” and several pension funds tried suing Chesapeake, but the courts in Oklahoma blocked the lawsuits. That’s because Aubrey McClendon is sort of the George Bush of Oklahoma—a spoiled fuck-up with a rich and powerful granddaddy—Robert Kerr, former governor and senator, and founder of Kerr-McGee—meaning plenty of VIP connections for the loser grandkid. So on Chesapeake’s board, you had Aubrey’s cousin, Breene Kerr; Frank Keating, Republican ex-governor of Oklahoma whose son Chip (and Chip’s wife) works for Chesapeake; Don Nickles, Republican ex-Senator of Oklahoma who co-funded with Aubrey the Republican anti-gay marriage campaign in 2004; Richard Davidson, the former head of Union Pacific, whose corrupt board of directors lavished Davidson with tens of millions in bonuses and a $2.7 million per year pension when he retired… Now multiply a board of directors like this by the sum total of “Corporate America” and you get…a corrupt, tin-pot corporate culture masquerading as a civilized First World corporate culture. That’s us. (You can read about this problem in an excellent new book <em>Money For Nothing: How The Failure of Corporate Boards is Ruining American Business and Costing Us Trillions</em>.)</p> <p><strong>8).</strong> <strong>Corrupt credit rating agencies</strong>. The only way big institutional investors like pension funds could justify buying a piece of the Orion Butt Fungus CDO pie was if ratings agencies like S&amp;P or Moody’s gave it a top-notch seal of approval: AAA rated, with a little star on the forehead for good behavior. And in the world of fraudonomics, good behavior looks like this email from a Standard &amp; Poor ratings analyst in December 2006:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Rating agencies continue to create an even bigger monster _ the CDO market. Let’s hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters.”</p></blockquote> <p>The happy ending to this story is that a huge percentage of thieving scum like this emailer saw their hopes become reality: they got wealthy and retired before the CDO market crashed in a trillion-plus dollar heap of shit. And if they didn’t retire, even better—because bonuses in 2009 were soaring, thanks to the always-gullible American taxpayer.</p> <p><strong>9). Regulatory Fraud:</strong>In the OTS, OCC, Fed, pension benefit guaranty agency and of course the SEC, where whistleblowers were routinely ignored because the regulators were too busy painting their monitors while surfing sites like <a href="http://www.fuck-my-wife.com">www.fuck-my-wife.com</a>.</p> <ul style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"><li style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"><strong>10). Judicial Fraud:</strong> Juvenile court judges in Pennsylvania took millions of dollars in kickbacks from privately run prisons in exchange for sentencing thousands of innocent kids to juvenile prison terms. Chronic on-the-bench masturbation is running rampant: an Oklahoma judge was accused of using a penis pump on the bench, while nearby in Texas, a Harris County judge masturbated and ejaculated on a defendant’s hand. Speaking of Texas, the <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/030707dnpronutyc.39129f4.html">entire juvenile prison system</a> there was turned into a sex abuse racket involving Texas state officials–over <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/030707dnpronutyc.39129f4.html">750 official complaints about prison administrators molesting or raping</a> underaged inmates in all 13 juvenile facilities had been officially logged between 2000 and 2007.</li> <li style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"><strong><br /></strong></li> <li style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">The list goes on and on. Hell, even our literature was corrupted with fraud: James Frey’s addiction “memoir” <em>A Million Little Pieces</em> turned out to be <em>A Million Pieces of Bullshit</em>, the biggest literary fraud of our time. Fooled readers sued, Oprah chewed him out and Frey is now a bestelling “fiction” author.</li> </ul><p>This is just scratching the surface, but you get the point. We’re way past the point of redemption. No wonder everyone’s dreaming of a violent apocalypse to wipe the slate clean, and take us away to another plane where everything would be better. Anything but this.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div> Thu, 29 Apr 2010 11:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, eXiled Online 662046 at https://img.alternet.org Economy Economy fraud american economy Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer https://img.alternet.org/story/145819/ayn_rand%2C_hugely_popular_author_and_inspiration_to_right-wing_leaders%2C_was_a_big_admirer_of_serial_killer <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '661205'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=661205" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Her works are treated as gospel by right-wing powerhouses like Alan Greenspan and Clarence Thomas, but Ayn Rand found early inspiration in 1920&#039;s murderer William Hickman.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>There's something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don't have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be so hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population that thought like this, but the U.S. is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?<br /><br /> It turns out, you can trace much of this thinking back to Ayn Rand, a popular cult-philosopher who exerts a huge influence over much of the right-wing and libertarian crowd, but whose influence is only starting to spread out of the U.S.</p> <p>One reason most countries don't find the time to embrace Ayn Rand's thinking is that she is a textbook sociopath. In her notebooks Ayn Rand worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of "ideal man" she promoted in her more famous books. These ideas were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America's most recent economic catastrophe -- former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox -- along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.</p> <p>The loudest of all the Republicans, right-wing attack-dog pundits and the Teabagger mobs fighting to kill health care reform and eviscerate "entitlement programs" increasingly hold up Ayn Rand as their guru. Sales of her books have soared in the past couple of years; one poll ranked <em>Atlas Shrugged</em> as the second most influential book of the 20th century, after the Bible.<br /><br /> The best way to get to the bottom of Ayn Rand's beliefs is to take a look at how she developed the superhero of her novel, <i>Atlas Shrugged</i>, John Galt. Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of <i>Goddess of the Market</i>, Rand was so smitten with Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation -- Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, <i>The Little Street</i> -- on him.<br /><br /> What did Rand <a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2233966">admire so much</a> about Hickman? His sociopathic qualities: "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," she wrote, gushing that Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'"<br /><br /> This echoes almost word for word Rand's later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel <i>The Fountainhead</i>: "He was born without the ability to consider others."<i> (The Fountainhead</i> is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' favorite book -- he even requires his clerks to read it.)<br /><br /> I'll get to where Rand picked up her silly superman blather later -- but first, let's meet William Hickman, the "genuinely beautiful soul" and inspiration to Ayn Rand. What you will read below -- the real story, details included, of what made Hickman a "superman" in Ayn Rand's eyes -- is extremely gory and upsetting, even if you're well acquainted with true crime stories -- so prepare yourself. But it's necessary to read this to understand Rand, and to repeat this over and over until all of America understands what made her tick, because Rand's influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means her ideas are affecting all of our lives in the worst way imaginable.<br /><br /> Rand fell for William Edward Hickman in the late 1920s, as the shocking story of Hickman's crime started to grip the nation. He was the OJ Simpson of his day; his crime, trial and case were nonstop headline grabbers for months.</p> <p>Hickman, who was only 19 when he was arrested for murder, was the son of a paranoid-schizophrenic mother and grandmother. His schoolmates said that as a kid Hickman liked to strangle cats and snap the necks of chickens for fun -- most of the kids thought he was a budding manic, though the adults gave him good marks for behavior, a typical sign of sociopathic cunning. He enrolled in college but quickly dropped out, and turned to violent crime largely driven by the thrill and arrogance typical of sociopaths: in a brief and wild crime spree that grew increasingly violent, Hickman knocked over dozens of gas stations and drug stores across the Midwest and west to California. Along the way it's believed he strangled a girl in Milwaukee and killed his crime partner's grandfather in Pasadena, tossing his body over a bridge after taking his money. Hickman's partner later told police that Hickman told him how much he'd like to kill and dismember a victim someday -- and that day did come for Hickman.<br /><br /> One afternoon, Hickman drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High school in Los Angeles, telling administrators he'd come to pick up "the Parker girl" -- her father, Perry Parker, was a prominent banker. Hickman didn't know the girl's first name, so when he was asked which of the two Parker twins, he answered, "the younger daughter." Then he corrected himself: "The smaller one." </p> <p>No one suspected his motives. The school administrator fetched young Marion, and brought her out to Hickman. Marion obediently followed Hickman to his car as she was told, where he promptly kidnapped her. He wrote a ransom note to Marion's father, demanding $1,500 for her return, promising the girl would be left unharmed. Marion was terrified into passivity -- she even waited in the car for Hickman when he went to mail his letter to her father. Hickman's extreme narcissism comes through in his ransom letters, as he refers to himself as a "master mind [sic]" and "not a common crook." Hickman signed his letters "The Fox" because he admired his own cunning: "Fox is my name, very sly you know." And then he threatened: "Get this straight. Your daughter's life hangs by a thread."<br /><br /> Hickman and the girl's father exchanged letters over the next few days as they arranged the terms of the ransom, while Marion obediently followed her captor's demands. She never tried to escape the hotel where he kept her; Hickman even took her to a movie, and she never screamed for help. She remained quiet and still as told when Hickman tied her to the chair -- he didn't even bother gagging her because there was no need to, right up to the gruesome end.<br /><br /> Hickman's last ransom note to Marion's father is where this story reaches its disturbing end. Hickman fills the letter with hurt anger over her father's suggestion that Hickman might deceive him, and "ask you for your $1500 for a lifeless mass of flesh I am base and low but won't stoop to that depth." What Hickman didn't say was that as he wrote the letter, Marion had already been chopped up into several lifeless masses of flesh. Why taunt the father? Why feign outrage? This sort of bizarre taunting was all part of the serial killer's thrill, maximizing his sadistic pleasure. But this was nothing compared to the thrill Hickman got from murdering the helpless 12-year-old Marion Parker. Here is an old newspaper description of the murder, taken from the <i><a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=eB0bAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=QUoEAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=1179,3789194&amp;dq=hickman&amp;hl=en">Pittsburgh Post-Gazette</a></i> on December 27, 1927:</p> <blockquote>"It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me," he continued, "and I just couldn't help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marion. Then before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly. I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. I knew she was dead. Well, after she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out."</blockquote> <p>Another newspaper account <a href="newspapers?id=hzc0AAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=cvUIAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=6889,4516901&amp;dq=hickman&amp;hl=en">explained what Hickman did next</a>:</p> <blockquote>Then he took a pocket knife and cut a hole in her throat. Then he cut off each arm to the elbow. Then he cut her legs off at the knees. He put the limbs in a cabinet. He cut up the body in his room at the Bellevue Arms Apartments. Then he removed the clothing and cut the body through at the waist. He put it on a shelf in the dressing room. He placed a towel in the body to drain the blood. He wrapped up the exposed ends of the arms and waist with paper. He combed back her hair, powdered her face and then with a needle fixed her eyelids. He did this because he realized that he would lose the reward if he did not have the body to produce to her father.<br /></blockquote> <blockquote> Hickman packed her body, limbs and entrails into a car, and drove to the drop-off point to pick up his ransom; along his way he tossed out wrapped-up limbs and innards scattering them around Los Angeles. When he arrived at the meeting point, Hickman pulled Miriam's [sic] head and torso out of a suitcase and propped her up, her torso wrapped tightly, to look like she was alive--he sewed wires into her eyelids to keep them open, so that she'd appear to be awake and alive. When Miriam's father arrived, Hickman pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him, showed Miriam's head with the eyes sewn open (it would have been hard to see for certain that she was dead), and then took the ransom money and sped away. As he sped away, he threw Miriam's head and torso out of the car, and that's when the father ran up and saw his daughter--and screamed.</blockquote> <p>This is the "amazing picture" Ayn Rand -- guru to the Republican/Tea Party right-wing -- admired when she wrote in her notebook that Hickman represented "the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should."<br /><br /> Other people don't exist for Rand, either. Part of her ideas are nothing more than a ditzy dilettante's bastardized Nietzsche -- but even this was plagiarized from the same pulp newspaper accounts of the time. According to an <em>LA Times</em> article in late December 1927, headlined "Behavioralism Gets The Blame," a pastor and others close to the Hickman case denounced the cheap trendy Nietzschean ideas Hickman and others latched onto as a defense:<br /><br /> "Behavioristic philosophic teachings of eminent philosophers such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer have built the foundation for William Edward Hickman's original rebellion against society," the article begins.<br /><br /> The fear that some felt at the time was that these philosophers' dangerous, yet nuanced ideas would fall into the hands of lesser minds, who would bastardize Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and poison the rest of us. This aptly describes Ayn Rand, whose philosophy developed out of her admiration for "Supermen" like Hickman. Rand's philosophy can be summed up by the title of one of her best-known books: <i>The Virtue of Selfishness</i>. She argues that all selfishness is a moral good, and all altruism is a moral evil, even "moral cannibalism," to use her words. To her, those who aren't like-minded sociopaths are "parasites," "lice" and "looters."<br /><br /> But with Rand, there's something more pathological at work. She's out to make the world more sociopath-friendly so that people her hero William Hickman can reach their full potential, not held back by the morality of the "weak," whom Rand despised.<br /><br /> Rand and her followers clearly got off on hating and bashing those they perceived as weak. This is exactly the sort of sadism that Rand's hero, Hickman, would have appreciated. </p> <p>What's really unsettling is that even former Central Bank chief Alan Greenspan, whose relationship with Rand dated back to the 1950s, did some parasite-bashing of his own. In response to a 1958 <i>New York Times</i> book review slamming <i>Atlas Shrugged</i>, Greenspan, defending his mentor, published a letter to the editor that ends: "Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. Alan Greenspan."<br /><br /> As much as Ayn Rand detested human "parasites," there is one thing she strongly believed in: creating conditions that increase the productivity of her supermen -- the William Hickmans who rule her idealized America: "If [people] place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite."<br /><br /> Republican faithful like GOP Congressman Paul Ryan read Ayn Rand and declare, with pride, "Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism." Indeed. Except that Rand also despised democracy, writing that, "Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom."<br /><br /> "Collectivism" is another one of those Randian epithets popular among her followers. Here is another Republican member of Congress, Michelle Bachman, parroting the Ayn Rand ideological line, to explain her reasoning for wanting to <a href="http://www.mspmag.com/features/features/166667.asp">kill social programs</a>:<br /><br /> "As much as the collectivist says to each according to his ability to each according to his need, that's not how mankind is wired. They want to make the best possible deal for themselves."<br /><br /> Whenever you hear politicians or Tea Partiers dividing up the world between "producers" and "collectivism," just know that those ideas and words more likely than not are derived from the deranged mind of a serial-killer groupie. When you hear them saying, "Go John Galt," hide your daughters and tell them not to talk to any strangers -- or Tea Party Republicans. And when you see them taking their razor blades to the last remaining programs protecting the middle class from total abject destitution -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- and bragging about how they are slashing these programs for "moral" reasons, just remember Ayn's morality and who inspired her.<br /><br /> Too many critics of Ayn Rand -- until recently I was one of them -- would rather dismiss her books and ideas as laughable, childish, and hackneyed. But she can't be dismissed because Rand is the name that keeps bubbling up from the Tea Party crowd and the elite conservative circuit in Washington as the Big Inspiration. The only way to protect ourselves from this thinking is the way you protect yourself from serial killers: smoke the Rand followers out, make them answer for following the crazed ideology of a serial-killer-groupie, and run them the hell out of town and out of our hemisphere.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '661205'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=661205" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 25 Feb 2010 21:00:01 -0800 Mark Ames, AlterNet 661205 at https://img.alternet.org Books Media Books serial killer ayn rand atlas shrugged william edward hickman sociopath Republicans at Highest Levels Really Want to Do Away with Democracy for All https://img.alternet.org/story/145648/republicans_at_highest_levels_really_want_to_do_away_with_democracy_for_all <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '661007'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=661007" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">There&#039;s a dangerous right-wing alignment in the making; race-baiters proposing &#039;civics literacy tests&#039; and elite free market ideologues who see democracy as inefficient.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>While Tea Party movement followers ran around Nashville last week dressed up in their Paul Revere period costumes, blathering about their heroic struggle against Obama's Islamosocialist tyranny, the right-wing elite that nurtures them, and their paid libertarian ideologues, have been openly advocating the abolition of America's democracy in favor of a free-market junta, because, as they say over and over, voters cannot be trusted to rule themselves.<br /><br /> Here, for example, is how one popular libertarian pundit summed up the attitude: "To be a libertarian in a modern democracy is to say that nearly 300 million Americans are wrong, and a handful of nay-sayers are right." It's a quote so common among the Republican and libertarian vanguard that it's almost irrelevant which one of them said it -- I'll get to this guy later, but suffice to know that he's a tenured professor, and sitting pretty in the same billionaire-funded world of think tanks, institutes, and PR machines that launched the Tea Party.<br /><br /> That's the dangerously authoritarian part of the Tea Party that we've forgotten about lately.<br /><br /> It's evident even in Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo's shocking "<a href="http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/02/05/tancredo-says-obama-won-because-we-lack-a-%E2%80%98literacy-test-before-people-can-vote/">Jim Crow speech</a>" that kicked off last week's Tea Party Convention -- when the out-of-the-closet xenophobe unveiled his Big Idea on how to preserve America's freedom, he wasn't just advocating more bigotry, but also a plan to roll back America's overly-free democracy, replacing it with a rule of elites that uses "civics literary tests" as the justification for denying voting rights to tens of millions of "wrong" Americans, like minorities and people with funny accents.<br /><br /> That's what made the whole period-costume fetish party so surreal: the sight of all these people re-enacting the Founding Fathers revolutionary fight for democracy, while at the same time cheering on a plan that overthrows American democracy and restricts power to a vanguard elite -- which presumably includes the kinds of draft-dodging rednecks and bipolar government-parasites like Tancredo.*Most of the gullible rank-and-file fools at the convention who snickered gleefully at Tancredo's "I have a dream ... of denying democratic rights to poor black kids's families and brown kids' families..." speech didn't understand that in all likelihood, they too would have their "irrational" voting rights canceled, because their masters despise them. And they don't even hide it. As incredible as it seems, these Republican and "libertarian" ideologues have been arguing that the real problem in America's democracy is that too many people have voting rights, leaving America at the mercy of "irrational" or dangerous voters who elect the wrong people. They have argued that the only way to save America is by overthrowing this democracy and replacing it with an enlightened, free-market dictatorship.<br /><br /> One reason you don't hear much about this is because most of them zipped up their mouths by the middle of 2008, when there was a real fear of a populist uprising and a new New Deal. But the Republican right-wing elite wasn't always so shy; right up through the financial collapse, many boasted as publicly as possible about their dream of overthrowing the democracy and replacing it with a free-market dictatorship.<br /><br /> Take one recent example: Republican ideologue Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to Bush and McCain and who heads the right-wing American Enterprise Institute's economic policy department where so many brilliant free-market ideas are incubated. In 2007, Hassett boldly questioned whether democracy is really the best way to preserve America's free-market preeminence, in a Bloomberg column headlined, "<a href="http://www.american.com/archive/2007/may-june-magazine-contents/does-economic-success-require-democracy">Does Economic Success Require Democracy?</a>":</p> <blockquote> <p>"Dictatorships are not hamstrung by the preferences of voters for, say, a pervasive welfare state. ...The unfree nations will grow so quickly that they will overwhelm free nations with their economic might. ... Meanwhile, democracies may copy many of the market-friendly policies of the dictatorships, but it seems unlikely that free citizens will choose to reduce their own political freedoms."</p></blockquote> <p>This is a constant meme among libertarian free-market ideologues: Americans have too much freedom to decide their own freedom. Hassett worries that time is running out for the Republican free-market elites, who are locked in a suicide pact with the boneheaded majority of American voters, a mass of idiots too short-sighted to grasp how unregulated capitalism is the best thing for them. Instead of acting in their own interests and voluntarily voting to hand power over to a Chinese-style Politburo, we idiots keep on grunting for socialist policies like Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance when we're too weak to face unemployment on our own.<br /><br /> You'd think Hassett would have been driven into a cave after that column, but then again, this is the same guy who co-wrote one of the biggest embarrassments in finance literature: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Dow-36-000-Strategy-Profiting/dp/0609806998"><em>Dow 36,000</em></a>, a book released 10 years ago predicting the Dow would soar to 36,000 in no time. We're dealing with a professional huckster here, but that's sort of the point--selling the gullible fools one kind of snake oil in 2000, pitching them another kind of libertarian snake oil today.<br /><br /> From the Republican elite's perspective, abolishing democracy is a matter of self-defense for the rightwing billionaire class, which they expect everyone to sacrifice their lives for.<br /><br /> Bill Archer, an old free-market colleague of Tancredo's, let loose the Republican elite's loathing for democracy in a<em>Wall Street Journal</em> <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=RTX1z-rMGswC&amp;pg=PA127&amp;lpg=PA127&amp;dq=%22Politicians+may+find+it+easier+and+easier+to+raise+tax+rates+that+apply+only+to+a+minority+of+middle%22&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=hb8oVTFPHF&amp;sig=bM7bXgSRCxJGGXXeGr33DE0RUls&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=QQh1S66vDoyEswPP6IXLCA&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=1&amp;ved=0CAkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q=%22Politicians%20may%20find%20it%20easier%20and%20easier%20to%20raise%20tax%20rates%20that%20apply%20only%20to%20a%20minority%20of%20middle%22&amp;f=false">article back in 2001</a>, bleating over the fate of his billionaire sponsors: "Politicians may find it easier and easier to raise tax rates that apply only to a minority of middle- and upper-income earners in order to finance new government spending primarily benefiting lower-income individuals. The result will be class warfare at its worst and a sort of tyranny of the majority."<br /><br /> You got that? Freedom is when an elite minority pushes the tax burden down the class ladder; tyranny is when the struggling majority votes to put a cramp in the super-rich's Marie Antoinette lifestyle. Which is pretty much what another major inspiration in the Tea Party movement, Grover Norquist, once said. A few years ago, the notorious tax-slashing Republican lobbyist who heads Americans For Tax Reform told a <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=RTX1z-rMGswC&amp;pg=PA127&amp;lpg=PA127&amp;dq=norquist+%22Democracies+are+dangerous%22&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=hb8oVTFTGB&amp;sig=2ZLYr2CXYSOpDB13MPfagKJ27qo&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=wwl1S6OmD4OgsgOc8ajLCA&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=1&amp;ved=0CAkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q=norquist%20%22Democracies%20are%20dangerous%22&amp;f=false">Republican Log Cabin conference</a>:<br /><br /> "Democracies are dangerous. Look what happens in California where they pick on the richest ten percent." Yup, that's dangerous all right. Norquist, who helped shape Gingrich's 1994 Republican Revolution and who practically owned Washington during Bush's first term, has always pitched himself as a radical libertarian whose goal is to "shrink the government until it's small enough to drown in a bathtub." Why does he want to shrink and murder government? Because government technically can be used by us -- the majority -- to one day threaten Grover's rightwing billionaire circle's monopoly on power and wealth. Kill off the American government, and the American people are left naked and powerless against the super-rich elites.<br /><br /> Bryan Caplan, a George Mason professor, and one of the last up-and-coming libertarian ideologues before the 2008 crash, is one of the newest and most degenerate models in the libertarian cadet system. A graduate of the familiar Milton Friedman School of Hucksternomics, Caplan laid out this increasingly shrill hatred of American democracy back in 2007 in a book titled <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Rational-Voter-Democracies-Policies/dp/0691129428"><em>The Myth of the Rational Voter</em></a>. Here's how Caplan described his book:</p> <blockquote> <p><br /> The central idea is that voters are worse than ignorant; they are, in a word, irrational -- and they vote accordingly. Despite their lack of knowledge, voters are not humble agnostics; instead, they confidently embrace a long list of misconceptions. Economic policy is the primary activity of the modern state. And if there is one thing that the public deeply misunderstands, it is economics. ... So what remedies for voter irrationality would I propose? Above all, relying less on democracy and more on private choice and free markets... Another way to deal with voter irrationality is institutional reform. Imagine, for example, if the Council of Economic Advisers, in the spirit of the Supreme Court, had the power to invalidate legislation as "uneconomical." Similarly, since the data show that well-educated voters hold more sensible policy views, we could emulate pre-1949 Great Britain by giving college graduates an extra vote.</p></blockquote> <p>But Professor Caplan also tsk-tsks his billionaire sponsors for their misguided soft-heartedness in their dealings with the rest of us: "As long as elites persist in unmerited deference to and flattery of the majority, containing the dangers of voter irrationality will be very hard. Someone has to tell the emperor when he is naked. He may not listen, but if no one speaks up, he will almost surely continue embarrassing himself and traumatizing spectators." And just in case you're wondering if there's some nuance you've missed, Caplan drops the high theoretical mumbo-jumbo and lays it in terms any lughead could understand, during a <a href="http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_myth_of_bryan_caplans_seriousness">Q&amp;A at the Cato Institute</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Turning to Caplan, [the moderator] asked, "Bryan, is low turnout even a bad thing?" "No," he replied to some laughter. "Low voter turnout is actually a blessing in disguise. One of the two key things that predicts turnout is actually higher education, and more educated people generally have more sensible views about policy."</p></blockquote> <p>As to whether people should perhaps just be more properly informed, Caplan said, "If you can either encourage people who don't know what they're doing to not vote or at least not encourage them to vote, or you could have massive public education to raise the level of awareness in everyone up to the level of a Ph.D. -- if there are even such resources in the universe -- I think it's better to just encourage people to be lazy. Say, 'You know, if you don't really know what's going on, it would actually be the more responsible thing not to participate.'" That latter option, he said, is "much cheaper."<br /><br /> And here's what's frightening: His ideas are celebrated as sheer genius by establishment outlets.Nicholas Kristof of the <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8384.html"><em>New York Times</em></a> praised Caplan's book in 2007, calling his blueprint for a Pinochet-like dictatorship, "the best political book of the year"; while the <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8384.html"><em>Harvard Political Review</em></a> wrote, "While one may quibble with his specifics, the overall argument is convincing and applicable across a variety of fields ... Forces the reader to take a second look at our nation's unshakable faith in the wisdom of the electorate."<br /><br /> Caplan is the one whom I quoted at the beginning of the article, sneering at the 300 million Americans whom he'd like to disenfranchise and would if his Republican billionaire sponsors decided to pull the trigger.<br /><br /> This is a guy who should be chased out of town and out of our hemisphere. But instead Caplan's what passes for "bold" and "thinking outside the box" in our degenerate era.<br /><br /> And besides, Caplan sits on the shoulders of giants when he talks that way -- giant elitist assholes like Ronald Reagan, the hero of the Republican Party and a good part of the Tea Party movement. In a 1965 speech, he revealed his and his party elite's loathing of American democracy, which he argued is the surest path to dictatorship and poverty:</p> <blockquote> <p>"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury. From that moment on the majority ... always vote[s] for the candidate promising the most benefits from the treasury with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by dictatorship."</p></blockquote> <p>Reagan sees us, the electorate the same way that the humans hiding in their vulnerable fortress saw the zombies in Land of the Dead: it was only a matter of time before we'd learn to use the democracy weapon, bust down the fence and pour into their hard-earned mansions, devouring and destroying everything with our socialist voting tendencies.<br /><br /> And the Gipper stood on the shoulders of other giants, like the crackpot midget Milton Friedman, whose free-market theories shaped the last three decades of our lives. What few people talk about is Friedman's theory about democracy, and our fitness for it: in his mind, we majority of Americans are capable of rational behavior in the free marketplace (because he thought we behaved according to his models), but we are irrational when we act in the political marketplace (because we hadn't always voted the way he'd like us to).<br /><br /> Or take Friedman's free-market rival, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_von_Hayek">Friedrich von Hayek</a>, the Kaiser of Libertarian Crackpots, who famously praised General Pinochet: "Personally I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking liberalism." The same Pinochet whom Friedman happily served in the 70s.<br /><br /> What about the $23 trillion Republican bailouts? Well, again, we're too stupid to understand. The thing is, those bailouts had to be done their way in order to save us from the Road to Serfdom. It's hard to explain, but basically, the anti-government conservatives in the Bush Machine saved us from that Road to Serfdom by turning us into serfs. You see, all along it was the Road that they warned us about, not serfdom -- that road is really treacherous, and government funded, and just a bad place to be. We weren't rational or strong enough to wean ourselves off of big government. So they saved us with their tough love, and stole the $23 trillion bailout for themselves before we could get our hands on it -- which no doubt we would have done. In their hands, that $23 trillion debt makes us serfs, which is not as bad as the other alternative: we take the $23 trillion ourselves, leading us down the road to serfdom. Confused? If we were capable of studying economics, we'd understand the scientific logic of this reasoning.<br /><br /> Just as it took years for Milton Friedman's ideas to go from the circus freakshow to respected state religion, so this budding libertarian idea of abolishing democracy to save America, given the stakes and the forces behind it, shouldn't be dismissed. They're thinking about it. So should the rest of us.</p> <p>___<br /><br /><strong>*Note:</strong> In 1969, when Tancredo was finishing his four-year stint as pro-war College Republican campus activist, he received a note in the mail from the Draft Board calling him up for duty in Vietnam -- so the wobbly-kneed invertebrate ran screaming and crying to the draft board appealing for an exemption from the very same war that Tancredo told everyone else to die in. After making a total abject ass of himself squirting before the draft board and pissing into his pants, Tancredo finally succeeded in disgusting them so thoroughly that they gave him the coward's exemption he sought -- ruling him unfit for duty due to "anxiety bouts" and "panic attacks." It was the only government job he ever turned down -- after that, Tancredo spent his entire life sucking on the taxpayer teat, first as a junior high school teacher, then a state legislator, then a Department of Education federal employee (where he spent most of his time firing his colleagues), then Congressman, and finally, a Republican Party foundation-welfare queen.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '661007'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=661007" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 11 Feb 2010 21:00:01 -0800 Mark Ames, AlterNet 661007 at https://img.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics gop democracy voting conservatives Do Obama and Geithner Have the Same Flaw: Accommodation Instead of Moral Action? https://img.alternet.org/story/145181/do_obama_and_geithner_have_the_same_flaw%3A_accommodation_instead_of_moral_action <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '660690'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=660690" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Tim Geithner has a long history of caving to moral pressures and smoothing over colossal failures. But his personality is much like Obama. Maybe that&#039;s how he keeps his job.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>A lot of us have been wondering, despondently, why the Hell Barack Obama is keeping Timothy Geithner on the job as Treasury Secretary, given his central role in the plunder of trillions of dollars from American taxpayers, and his record of subverting democracy in the service of Wall Street billionaires. Geithner's the guy that drove the getaway car in the heist -- so why was he hired to run the Treasury? You'd expect to see a guy as corrupt as Geithner serving as the Finance Minister in some Central Asian autocracy -- but not in Barack Obama's government, not after all he promised in the campaign.<br /><br /><br /><br />Maybe a better question is: Why did Obama choose Geithner in the first place? On the surface, those two are supposed to be on relatively opposite ends of the American spectrum: Geithner is an East Coast Republican blue-blood whose catastrophic tenure at the New York Fed represented everything Obama -- a half-Kenyan liberal Democrat from America's western-most state -- promised to change for the better.<br /><br /><br /><br />The most recent hope-crushing revelation about Geithner -- emails showing that the New York Fed under Geithner's watch forced AIG to lie to the public in order cover up tens of billions of taxpayer dollars that were being funneled through AIG and out the backdoor to top financial institutions like Goldman Sachs -- proves once and for all that Geithner is the worst choice imaginable for the job. He's the epitome of the sort of incompetence, sleaze and corruption that Bush specialized in -- so why did Obama name him, and why is he sticking by him?<br /><br /><br /><br />So far the most convincing rational explanation I've <a href="http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/transcript1.html">read comes from William Black</a>, the former Savings &amp; Loan investigator-hero who understands public-private corruption in this country like few others. Prof. Black, like a true prosecutor, puts Geithner's rise to head the Treasury in simple crime-world terms: he's there to cover up his own heist. All across the board, as Black has pointed out, the same perps who caused the collapse of the financial system and the looting of all those trillions are all in positions of power to cover up their crimes, and keep the details out of the public eye.<br /><br /><br /><br />But there are also other, deeper, personal reasons too. I came across some rather disturbing biographical similarities between Obama and Geithner that show why Obama might be more comfortable with a guy like Geithner on a deeper, mammalian level. <br /><br /><br /><br />Even though Geithner and Obama come from such different backgrounds and from different political parties, both have strikingly similar temperaments -- both earned reputations as conciliators and centrists in campus debates at their respective Ivy League schools, over the very same hot-button issue: affirmative action.<br /><br /><br /><br />In the early 1980s, when little Tim Geithner was a student at Dartmouth (following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather), he reportedly made his first big mark on campus by inserting himself in the middle of a nasty battle over the university's affirmative action program. The reason it got so nasty was because the anti-affirmative action movement was being led by the notoriously racist, homophobic <em>Dartmouth Review</em>, a new student paper founded while Geithner was a student, funded and patronized by some of the biggest names in the emerging American rightwing: Irving Kristol (Bill Kristol's daddy), William Buckley of the <em>National Review</em>, and the conservative Republican Jack Kemp. The <em>Dartmouth Review</em>'s editor at that time was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinesh_D%27Souza">Dinesh D'Souza</a>, an Indian immigrant eager to play the suck-up waterboy to the university's white rightwing elite -- even if that meant being their dark-skinned face of elitist white racism.<br /><br /><br /><br />Under D'Souza's editorship, the <em>Review</em> not only attacked the very same affirmative action that helped D'Souza get into Dartmouth, but it also published the sort of rank racist drivel that would have made George Wallace wince. One such article was described as a "lighthearted interview with a former Klan leader" -- which D'Souza illustrated with a staged photo of a black man hanging from a tree on Dartmouth's campus. Another <em>Review</em> article on affirmative action was even more racist: It was headlined "Dis Sho Ain't No Jive, Bro," and it included lines such as, "Now we be comin' to Dartmut and be up over our 'fros in studies, but we still be not graduatin' Phi Beta Kappa." It was so offensive that even Jack Kemp, a hero in the National Review rightwing crowd, resigned from the Dartmouth Review's advisory board in disgust.<br /><br /><br /><br />Young Tim Geithner was a student at Dartmouth at the same time D'Souza was -- meaning he saw the whole thing develop. When the racist articles were published, the student body was practically in revolt, and according to a Bloomberg article published last year, some students were so pissed off they were gearing up to mob-attack D'Souza. That would have been the sane, decent thing to do -- hunt D'Souza down brand "Suck-Up" across his forehead. But little Timothy Geithner, the "natural mediator," was more concerned with keeping things as they were, playing the role of human lubricant. Some today might think that this shows something decent and solid in Geithner's character -- but in fact, it reveals a total absence of ethical engagement, and instead, a natural willingness to preserve the status quo, no matter how warped and loathsome that status quo is. D'Souza should have been chased out of America and out of the Western Hemisphere for good; but Geithner saved him, according to a <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=washingtonstory&amp;sid=aLhs5Byln00k#">Bloomberg article</a>:</p><br /><blockquote><br /><p><br /><br />From his years as a Dartmouth College student and mid-level Treasury official through his stint at the New York Fed, Geithner, 47, has thrived as a backroom negotiator and conciliator.<br /><br /><br /><br />Geithner's knack for diplomacy surfaced in the midst of student demonstrations over affirmative action. The Dartmouth Review, a student biweekly, was edited by Dinesh D'Souza, a social conservative who later rose to prominence with books attacking multiculturalism and feminism.<br /><br /><br /><br />The Review lambasted what it called Dartmouth's liberal bias and its minority admission policies, riling many students. During gatherings in which some students said D'Souza should be attacked, Geithner calmed them down, proposing that they start an alternative publication, says Rudelson, the former roommate. Geithner kept his distance from the new publication, called the Harbinger, occasionally taking photos for it.<br /><br /><br /><br />"He was always the natural mediator," Rudelson says. "He had this amazing ability to listen to people, no matter how extreme their views might be."</p><br /></blockquote><br /><p>So we can see early on in his life that Timothy Geither, even when confronted with the most obvious ethical choice -- fighting racism -- our Treasury Secretary chose instead to protect and preserve both the racists and the anti-racists. And that is another way of saying, Geithner protected the bad guys. After all, they're the ones who needed to be preserved -- they needed a "mediator" who legitimized their presence, a mediator who appeared to be "in the middle" and "without an agenda" to preserve and protect them. Geithner was that man.<br /><br /><br /><br />The result: D'Souza went on to become a highly-influential rightwing author and an inspiration to scores of waffentwerps, earning millions for himself by promoting racism and bashing the disadvantaged. One of D'Souza's first proteges was that human lamprey <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Ingraham">and radio host Laura Ingraham</a>, whose first big article for D'Souza was to publish the names of students who belonged to Dartmouth's Gay &amp; Lesbian Union. Many students were devastated by the outing: One gay student reportedly dropped out, and another reportedly attempted suicide. (Ingraham's brother, ironically enough, was gay.)<br /><br /><br /><br />Ingraham later dated Larry Summers, who was Geithner's boss in the 1990s, and whom Obama picked to run the economy from the White House. Summers, as we know, created controversy while he was president at Harvard by picking fights with prominent African-American academics, and his claims that women were genetically inferior at mathematics and science. You can see how this depressing picture is starting to come together -- because Obama picked these guys to run our economy.<br /><br /><br /><br />Anyway getting back to Obama-Geithner -- in the early 1990s, a decade after Geithner protected D'Souza from a mob of angry students, Barack Obama found himself in a similar situation at Harvard law school. Obama had been named the first black editor of the <em>Harvard Law Review</em>, meaning he had to take a stand on one of the biggest issues dividing the law school's students: affirmative action. Keep in mind that, without affirmative action, it's unlikely that Barack Obama would have been where he was, at Harvard Law, the first African-American editor of the esteemed school's legal magazine. Not because Obama wasn't qualified, but because affirmative action made it harder for the entrenched white elite to keep all the slots to themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br />So how did Obama handle the battle between rightwing anti-affirmative action students and liberals? Just like Geithner would have. According to a profile a couple of years ago in the <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/01/28/at_harvard_law_a_unifying_voice/"><em>Boston Globe</em></a>:</p><br /><blockquote><br /><p><br /><br />Classmates recall an especially emotional debate in the spring of 1990 over affirmative action, which conservative students wanted to abolish.<br /><br /><br /><br />Presiding over an assembly of 60 mostly white editors in a law school classroom, Obama listened to impassioned pleas and pressed conservatives to explain their reasoning and liberals to sharpen their thinking. But he never spoke about his own point of view or mentioned that he believed he had benefited from affirmative action. "If anybody had walked by, they would have assumed he was a professor," said Thomas J. Perrelli, a classmate and former counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno. "He was leading the discussion but he wasn't trying to impose his own perspective on it. He was much more mediating."<br /><br /><br /><br />Obama was so evenhanded and solicitous in his interactions that fellow students would do impressions of his Socratic chin-stroking approach to everything, even seeking a consensus on popcorn preferences at the movies. "Do you want salt on your popcorn?" one classmate, Nancy L. McCullough, recalled, mimicking his sensitive bass voice. "Do you even want popcorn?"</p><br /></blockquote><br /><p>So you can start to see why Obama's press spokesman, Robert Gibbs, told reporters that the President has "full confidence" in Geithner. They're peas in a pod. In more ways than just their temperament.<br /><br /><br /><br />To most of us, this sort of one-note obsession with conciliation and even-temperedness seems ill-suited to the times and circumstances. This country doesn't need the status quo maintained, it needs a complete change of the way this country is run, and the type of people running it. But if you were one of the plutocrats, you'd have a different view of things. You'd want to preserve what you'd plundered, and hire some human buffers to get between you and the 300 million Americans you'd ripped off. And as the record shows, you couldn't choose two more perfect, reliable buffers than Tim Geithner and Barack Obama. Geithner, we know, was hired and promoted at the NY Fed and then at Treasury to do precisely that -- make sure that the heist went off smoothly and to keep the mobs away from the plutocrats. So now the question is, is that why so much of the establishment, including Wall Street, also got behind Barack Obama? Did they look at his record, and his temperament, and say, "This guy's just like Timmy. Only better."</p><br /><p> __</p><br /><p><strong>Further Note:</strong>In one of those too-bizarre-to-be-true coincidences, when Barack Obama's mother ran a microcredit program in Indonesia funded by the Ford Foundation, it was Tim Geithner's father, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Geithner">Peter Geithner</a>, who disbursed the money on behalf of the Ford Foundation. Both Barack and Tim spent a part of their childhoods growing up in Southeast Asia, thanks to their parents' work. Of further interest is the fact that the Ford Foundation -- which Geithner's dad ran in Indonesia -- was a <a href="http://www.namebase.org/scott.html">well-known CIA front in Indonesia'</a>s savage anti-communist civil war in the 1960s.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '660690'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=660690" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 14 Jan 2010 21:00:01 -0800 Mark Ames, AlterNet 660690 at https://img.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Economy barack obama harvard affirmative action indonesia geithner dartmouth Cerberus Capital: Literally Blood-Sucking the Poor to Make Their Billions https://img.alternet.org/story/145044/cerberus_capital%3A_literally_blood-sucking_the_poor_to_make_their_billions <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '660357'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=660357" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">How one company made $1.8 billion by paying peanuts to human plasma donors, and then manipulated the market by restricting supply to the desperately ill.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>Wall Street vampires</em>. Lately, a lot of Americans, including myself, have used the bloodsucking monsters as a metaphor to describe the Wall Street billionaires who rule us, and who are ruining us. Like so many awful stories of the past few years, it turns out that these Wall Street vampire-billionaires really exist, literally. Like all vampires, they live in remote castles, and they feed themselves by luring poor, desperate humans into their dens, hooking them into blood-pumping machines and sucking out their plasma for mind-boggling profits.<br /><br /> Cerberus Capital, one of Wall Street’s most notoriously ruthless leveraged-buyout firms (or “private equity firms” in PC-speak), recently made a $1.8 billion killing on its human plasma investment, a company called Talecris. Talecris was purchased for a mere $82.5 million just four years earlier, meaning Cerberus <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/story/print?guid=E881BE60-29C3-4221-BC23-6479AD652B3C">made 23 times its investment</a> on human plasma. This was accomplished by the most savage, heartless means possible: by paying peanuts to impoverished human plasma donors, who increasingly come from Mexican border towns to blood-pumping stations set up on the American side, jacking up the price of plasma by restricting supply (a lawsuit filed by the <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2009/06/10/with-csl-talecris-retreat-the-score-is-obamas-ftc-1-ma-world-0/">Federal Trade Commission accused</a>Cerberus Plasma Holdings of “operat[ing] as an oligopoly”), and then selling the refined products to the most desperately ill—patients suffering from hemophilia, severe burns, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune deficiencies. The products cost so much—one, IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) cost twice the price of gold as of <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090626/REVIEW/706259984/1008">last summer</a>—that American health insurance companies have been dropping or denying their policyholders in increasing numbers, endangering <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/business/06plasma.html">untold numbers</a> of people.<br /><br /> Tomas Asher, chairman of a company that trades in plasma, described the business <a href="http://www.bloodbook.com/part-5.html">this way</a>: "It's like selling hog bellies or wheat or beef. It gets sold all over."<br /><br /> Profiting from ruined American lives is nothing new to Cerberus. (The company takes its name from the legendary three-headed attack dog of Greek legend who guards the gates of Hell, making sure no condemned soul ever escapes. How appropriate.) Cerberus is the same shady fund that bought Chrysler and GMAC in 2007 and drove them into the ground, blamed everything on unions (even after firing 30,000 Chrysler employees), and dumped the companies onto American taxpayers—but only after lining up tens of billions in taxpayer-funded bailout funds. Cerberus is led by some of the most aggressive "free market" Republicans of our time. The chairman of Cerberus is former Treasury Secretary John Snow, who oversaw the destruction of America’s economy while serving under Bush from 2003 to 2006, <a href="http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2004/dec/16/analysis_white_house/">bragging during his tenure</a>, "We are the envy of the world."<br /><br /> Snow bragged again in 2007 after Cerberus acquired Chrysler, "Over 25 years ago, when Chrysler faced bankruptcy, it turned to the United States government for assistance. Today, Chrysler again faces new financial challenges. But it is private investment stepping in to inject much-needed support." A year later, Snow was running around Washington begging and screaming for government handouts.<br /><br /> Joining Snow as international chairman for Cerberus is former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle, the pampered imbecile who couldn’t spell “potato” correctly. Two more perfect vampires couldn’t have been invented than Quayle and Snow for the America of the Bush Era—peanut-brained, sleazy jerks.<br /><br /> The top vampire in Cerberus is the fund’s founder, billionaire Stephen Feinberg, a major Republican Party campaign donor with a hardcore fetish for Harleys and big guns. Supposedly Feinberg was very uncomfortable with taking all those socialism-esque billions from American taxpayers. The<em>New York Times</em> <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/business/09cerb.html?_r=1&amp;pagewanted=all">described him as</a> "a longtime free-market enthusiast and a Republican who never envisioned himself needing the government for help.”</p> <p>What Feinberg did envision was callously taking control of Chrysler, stripping it down and making a killing off of it, as he coldly noted in an early 2008 memo to his investors: “We do not need to be heroes to earn a good return on the investment in Chrysler," he wrote. "We do not need to transition the car industry or even to return Chrysler to a much stronger relative position in the U.S. car market in order to be successful."<br /><br /> After Feinberg siphoned away billions of taxpayer dollars to pay off his bad investments, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/business/09cerb.html?_r=1&amp;pagewanted=all">he told reporters</a>, "From the day we bought it, we worked hard to improve it." Patriotism, not profit, he bleated: “I love this country. I feel it’s been great to me. I had a great chance."<br /><br /> To understand how Cerberus has profited from human blood and misery, here's some background: the United States is one of just a handful of nations around the world where companies can legally pay humans for their blood and then sell it for a profit. Human plasma is a particularly valuable component of human blood—it’s harder to extract, and can be used to manufacture all sorts of expensive therapeutic products. The market for human plasma products has swelled from just $2 billion in 1988 to over $12 billion per year, and according to a recent <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/business/06plasma.html">Morgan Stanley report</a>, it’s a fast-growing business.<br /><br /> Despite all the billions that Wall Street’s vampires earn from plasma, the hapless humans whose veins they milk make barely a pittance—$30 dollars or so for spending an hour hooked up to a pumping machine that sucks the blood, sifts out the valuable plasma through a cold-filtering process and reverse-pumps the debased, icy blood back into the plasma donor's veins.<br /><br /> It’s such a miserable way to make cash that Cerberus and its fellow oligopolists have resorted to setting up plasma-sucking franchises along the U.S.-Mexico border, which have mushroomed like Starbucks Coffee did in the '90s. In the latter part of 2009 alone, Cerberus-owned Talecris opened four new plasma-milking factories, plastering the Mexican side of the border with advertisements promising easy cash, and parking special plasma-farm buses on the American side of the border to haul their human cargo to those milking dens not within walking distance of the Rio Grande.<br /><br /> Last summer, a newspaper reporter followed an unemployed 46-year-old Mexican manager from his border town to the pumping station in Brownsville, Texas, which has the highest poverty <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090626/REVIEW/706259984/1008">rate of any city in America</a>: <br /><br /> "After entering the United States, Castillo didn’t have to walk far to sell his plasma. A few hundred feet up International Boulevard from the border, the IBR Plasma building sits on Washington Street, across from a Duty Free shop. The plasma centre still looks very much like the bulk second-hand clothing store it used to be, though long white vertical blinds now hide what goes on behind its windows. Inside, the waiting room is divided into two sections marked by sheets of paper taped to the wall: one for 'new donors' and another for 'return donors.' This was Castillo’s first visit, which meant he could make $30—about 400 Mexican pesos. Signs in Spanish and English offered an additional $10 to those who recruited other donors.<br /><br /> "Castillo lay in the big soft chair, he said, while they inserted the needle and his blood started pumping out. It was cycled into a machine that spun the red cells from the liquid, as if squeezing whey from curds. The whey, the watery plasma, was stored in a big plastic bag, while the red blood cells were periodically reinjected into his arm. While he laid there, he later told me, he wondered about what his plasma was really worth—and where it would end up. Castillo is an educated man with a degree in business administration; before coming to Brownsville he had done some research and found, among other things, that in Mexico donating plasma for money is illegal—as is the case in much of the rest of the world."<br /><br /> You might think that America would be ashamed of being the world’s top vampire nation. But actually, to the faux-market freaks like Cerberus Capital’s honchos, it just means locking in profits and locking out competition. Thomas Hecht, who heads a plasma products distribution company in Montreal, <a href="http://www.bloodbook.com/part-5.html">quipped</a>: "The U.S. is the OPEC of the plasma business. You know what that stands for: the Organization of Plasma Exporting Countries."<br /><br /> But Cerberus is more than just about sucking people’s blood and government handouts. Stephen Feinberg also loves killing deer. In fact he loves shooting deer so much that, like the old Gillette commercial, he bought America’s guns 'n’ ammo industry. Two years ago, Cerberus bought Remington, America’s oldest firearms manufacturer, and since then they’ve snapped up companies making everything from bullets to silencers, which they’re combining into a new firearms <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125599020732295081.html">monolith called</a> Freedom Group. The free-marketeers at Cerberus are all about freedom. <br /><br /> Luckily for Cerberus, weapons are “flying off the store shelves,” thanks to all the paranoia about Obama "socialism," fed by all the bailout money that rightwing billionaires like Cerberus have looted. Sales have also been boosted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—in other words, more government handouts for the billionaires, now that they own the guns ‘n’ ammo business. It’s all going so well that Cerberus is planning a huge IPO this year for Freedom Group, which should net another massive payout.<br /><br /> So Cerberus profits on both ends: from the bailouts, and from the backlash against bailouts; from the wars against Muslim terrorists, and from the paranoia back home about an alleged socialist-Muslim-terrorist president.<br /><br /> Either way, the vampires have us where they want us.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '660357'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=660357" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 08 Jan 2010 21:00:01 -0800 Mark Ames, AlterNet 660357 at https://img.alternet.org Economy Economy corporations blood vampires cerberus capital plasma The Memory Scrub About Why Ft. Hood Happened Is Almost Complete ... If It Weren't for Archives https://img.alternet.org/story/143964/the_memory_scrub_about_why_ft._hood_happened_is_almost_complete_..._if_it_weren%27t_for_archives <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '659498'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=659498" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">That Maj. Hasan tried to get a military discharge before the massacre is largely being erased -- we&#039;re supposed to keep focusing on the Muslim part.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>What happened to all the initial reports that accused Fort Hood killer Maj. Nidal Hasan snapped because he was distraught over the Army's refusal to grant him either <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/06/AR2009110600907.html">a discharge</a> or an <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/06/us/06suspect.html">exemption from being deployed</a> to Iraq or Afghanistan, wars which the Muslim psychiatrist abhorred -- and how it was this callous Army refusal to accommodate Maj. Hasan that led to his downward spiral into despondency, rage and mass murder?<br /><br /> We heard quite a bit about this in the first couple of days, and then -- poof! That part of the Fort Hood story disappeared so neatly that I almost started to wonder if I'd imagined it -- such is the power of media bombardment versus a mere soap bubble like the human memory. I might have forgotten too and gone along with the reality-scrub, the way all of Official America has gone, but thanks to all the news archives, it was possible to check the record as it was first reported on November 5, and trace how a key part of the Nidal Hasan story was airbrushed away from reality.<br /><br /> The Army's pig-headed failure to accommodate Maj. Hasan was, for a time, the most important -- and most damaging -- detail forunderstanding his shooting rampage. Because if Maj. Hasan tried to get out of his deployment, and if he telegraphed every warning signal possible (emailing terrorists, cruising 7-11s in his Al Qaeda costume) to bolster his case to reverse his deployment orders, and all the while the Army bureaucracy ignored him despite his 20 years' service -- then that means the massacre can't be blamed just on one crazy Islamofascist's inner evil.<br /><br /> Instead, much of the blame for driving Maj. Hasan to crack would fall on his superiors in the Army, who held his fate in their hands. They could have shown some flexibility, but instead treated with the kind of callous bureaucratic insolence and nasty ethnic harassment you'd expect to find in a 19th century army, not 21st century America. If the Army really did fail to respond to a million-billion signals from Maj. Hasan, then it means we'd have to investigate more than just his evil little Muslim soul. We'd also have to look at the environment that changed him from a good loyal soldier into a cracked lunatic. That would mean examining just how screwed up the Army culture really is, how poorly it manages its resources and personnel, and why we went so long without knowing how bad things were…<br /><br /> We'd also have to examine the link between Hasan's rampage and the Army's record number of suicides this year -- which so far nearly equals the total number of US combat deaths in Iraq. A lot of this year's suicides involve Army personnel which hadn't yet shipped out to the war zones, like Maj. Hasan -- a grim statistic that belies the chickenhawks' screeching attacks denying the existence of pre-combat stress syndrome.<br /><br /> But the problem with investigating questions like these is that the answers could be one giant bummer -- nothing makes an American's brain switch into "hibernate" mode more quickly.<br /><br /> The point being that as the horror of the Fort Hood massacre started to emerge, a lot of people were interested in superimposing a more comforting, simplistic version of events over the ambiguous, demoralizing reality. According to the new version of what led to the Fort Hood Massacre, all along Maj. Hasan was a sleeper-jihadist moled up inside the Army structure, patiently waiting for his Al Qaeda handlers in AfPak to give him the Jihadi signal -- and in the meantime, the Islamofascist sleeper cell ran around Walter Reed scaring the shit out of his Army colleagues for two years straight with his frothing lectures threatening to behead Infidels and pour hot oil down their necks. <br /><br /> This counter-intuitive version has so far managed to stick, but only because everyone's officially forgotten how Hasan had desperately tried to convince his superiors not to deploy him. There was no way that this detail could be allowed to survive if the new official version was going to take hold; it wouldn't make sense that Hasan would simultaneously be plotting for two straight years to commit mass-murder, while at the same time trying to find a way out of deployment. A Jihadist would not try to get discharged from his terror target. Doesn't make sense. He'd keep quiet as he successfully wormed his way closer and closer to his Fort Hood target, if that's their story (why didn't he shoot up Walter Reed if he's a jihadist?), and not do anything that might alert his superiors to potential danger. So you can see why a lot of people would have liked to make disappear the part about how they ignored Hasan's repeated requests --not just the Army personnel whose asses are on the line, but the entire country which has invested so much faith and trust into the military.<br /><br /> As Americans lost faith in every other institution, the military stands as the last thing we believe in. According to a recent Gallup poll, the military is by far the most trusted institution -- 78 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the military, as opposed to a <a href="http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=44050&amp;dcn=todaysnews">20 percent favorable rating for the federal government</a>.</p> <p>Can we survive another attack of cognitive dissonance by popping that bubble too? Now that we've dispatched with the embarrassing detail about how the Army failed to respond to Maj. Hasan's pleas, honest patriots were finally freed up to tell the harsh truth: that Major Hasan actually wanted to remain in the Army and in Fort Hood, because he was a Muslim sleeper-cell terrorist on a mission to kill Americans and though the always-alert, ever-sensitive Army personnel spotted the terrorist early, they were oppressed by the terror of political-correctness, a terror which trumped Islamic terrorism. And just like that, everyone high and low echoed the new line. Whether it was <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29411.html">John McCain saying in a speech this month</a>, "We ought to make sure 'political correctness' never impedes national security." Or way down the power-chain to bland middle-of-the-road <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&amp;sid=aLrAQrsmyIrU">columnists like Margaret Colson at Bloomberg</a>: "Who'd think the U.S. Army could be seized with a sudden case of political correctness? And with regard to Muslims, no less."<br /><br /> Yeah, who'd think?<br /><br /> But here's the problem: there's far too much evidence out there in the public record that contradicts our new Army-friendly version of events, which implicates the exact opposite of political-correctness. What this evidence shows is that if the Army been even marginally politically-correct, or at the very least, intelligent and reasonable, the massacre could have been avoided, lives saved, and Maj. Hasan might have been discharged to freely marry his online Burqa Queen. Instead, he faced a cold, unresponsive and abusive Army bureaucracy which over time drove Maj. Hasan to despair. <br /><br /> I've gone back through the record and collected the early accounts that were more sympathetic to Maj. Hasan, and the point at which those sympathetic details got scrubbed out of the narrative, allowing the rightwing's Monty Python version to replace it. There are some other surprising details I found, details which show even more parallels to a classic going postal rampage shooting. First, here are some of the most credible early sources which prove that Maj. Hasan tried and failed to get the Army to relieve him. On November 5th, I found these statements by <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-11-05-Fort-Hood_N.htm">Texas Republican congressman Michael McCaul</a>:<br /><br /><em>U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Austin, was briefed by military officials and said Hasan had taken some unusual classes for someone studying about mental health.<br /><br /> "He took a lot of extra classes in weapons training, which seems a little odd for a psychiatrist," McCaul said.<br /><br /> McCaul said Hasan had received poor grades for his work at Walter Reed and was not happy about his situation in Fort Hood, where Hasan apparently felt like "he didn't fit in."<br /><br /> "He's disgruntled because he had a poor performance evaluation, he doesn't believe in the mission, he's looking at getting transferred to Afghanistan or Iraq," McCaul said. "He's not happy about all that."<br /><br /> McCaul added that officials planned to interview Hasan to try to determine for sure that he was not working with foreign agents.</em><br /><br /> Note the Republican congressman's use of the word "disgruntled"--the adjective synonymous with "going postal" workplace shooters. Already one of the best-informed locals likens the shooting to a workplace massacre--"he didn't fit in," "he's not happy about all that"--and makes no suggestion of terrorism. Another thing that stands out: early reports of Maj. Hasan taking several weapons training classes have also vanished--and I'd doubt there are too many people at Fort Hood eager to offer details about who trained him, how many classes he took, and how he behaved during training. And then there's Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was the most quoted and best informed of all public figures on the day of the massacre. As early reports of the shooting were making news, Sen. Hutchison repeatedly said the shooter <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2009/11/05/2009-11-05_army_base_massacre_at_least_seven_people_dead_in_mass_shooting_at_fort_hood_in_t.html#ixzz0WmOGqTJP">was a disgruntled military man</a>:</p> <p><em>Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) said Hasan - who had worked with the wounded for years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center - was angry about being sent to war and tried to get his orders changed.</em><br /><br /> Later that day, on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Sen. Hutchison repeated again that he was disgruntled, and that he'd tried to get out of his deployment but was rebuffed. She added another key detail that again proves this was a workplace rage massacre rather than terrorism: Hasan didn't fire at random but rather singled out his perceived tormentors, many of whom he knew. He went to the center for a reason: to avenge those he believed had destroyed his life. This again shows that Maj. Hasan's motive wasn't a random hatred of all Americans, but rather a <a href="http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0911/05/sitroom.03.html">going-postal attack on his tormentors</a>:<br /><br /><strong><em>BLITZER:</em></strong><em>Joining us on the phone is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Fort Hood obviously in her state. She's been very helpful to us in our coverage Do you have any more information about this individual and what his motive may or may not have been?<br /><br /><strong>SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS:</strong> Well, all I can say is that I know he was scheduled to be deployed and <strong>appeared to be upset about that.</strong><br /><br /> And so I think that there is a lot of investigation going on now into his background and just, you know, what he was doing that was not known before.<br /><br /><strong>BLITZER:</strong> When you say he was being deployed, was he off to Iraq, to Afghanistan? Do you know?</em><br /><em><br /><strong>HUTCHISON:</strong>I have heard Iraq. I was told earlier that he was scheduled to go to Iraq, as most of the people there were. It was a number of guard units that were there who were being processed to go to Iraq and possibly some to Afghanistan. It was not clear if there were some going to Afghanistan, but I think so. And it was some guard members and others who were in the processing facility.</em><strong><em>And I heard that he probably knew some of the people that he was shooting, but that's not confirmed.</em></strong> <strong>[Bold by author for emphasis]</strong><br /><br /> This incredible detail, that he targeted his victims and spared others, was confirmed by a Dallas TV <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2009/11/05/2009-11-05_army_base_massacre_at_least_seven_people_dead_in_mass_shooting_at_fort_hood_in_t.html#ixzz0WnF4jkRA">reporter from KXXV who was at Fort Hood</a>:</p> <p><em>Texas TV station KXXV reported that the <strong>gunman told a civilian as he passed that he was shooting only military men.</strong><br /><br /> She said <strong>he targeted specific people</strong> as he stalked through a deployment center, two handguns blazing.</em></p> <p>As late as November 9, four days after the shooting, there is this account which again shows that Maj. Hasan targeted specific people whom he knew. An Islamofascist terrorist by definition doesn't selectively murder Infidels he knows while sparing others in his gun's sights. But this is how the shooting was described by Texas Republican Congressman Michael Conaway and investigators at Fort Hood, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/us/09reconstruct.html?_r=1">according to the</a><em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/us/09reconstruct.html?_r=1">New York Times:</a><br /><br /> Mr. Hasan began shooting around 1:20 p.m., investigators say.<br /><br /> As he methodically moved around the room,<strong>he spared some people while firing on others several times. He seemed to discriminate among his targets, though it is unclear why. All but one of the dead were soldiers.</strong></em><em><br /><br /> "Our witnesses said he made eye contact with a guy and then moved to somebody in uniform," said Representative K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas.</em><br /><br /> Not only did politicians, reporters and investigators say that Hasan did everything he could to convince his superiors not to deploy him into combat against fellow Muslims, but so did officers and soldiers familiar with the gunman.<br /><br /> Fox News, oddly enough, <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,572448,00.html">reported in an early account:<br /></a> <br /><em>Retired Army Col. Terry Lee, who said he worked with Hasan, told Fox News that Hasan had hoped President Barack Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Hasan got into frequent arguments with others in the military who supported the wars, Lee said,<strong>and had tried hard to prevent his pending deployment</strong>.</em> <br /><br /> And again, there were others who knew Hasan whose accounts mirror Col. Lee's and Sen. Hutchison's, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/us/09reconstruct.html?_r=1">including one acquaintance of Maj. Hasan's from his time in Fort Hood</a> as the <em>NYT</em>reported:</p> <p><em>He was obviously upset," said Duane Reasoner Jr., an 18-year-old who attended the mosque and ate frequently with Major Hasan at the Golden Corral restaurant. "He didn't want to go to Afghanistan."</em><br /><br /> On top of this were the numerous accounts by Maj. Hasan's Arab relatives all confirming that not only was he trying to get out of being deployed this year, but that he'd been pushing for a full discharge from the Army as early as 2004, and that Maj. Hasan had even seen a lawyer and had offered to pay the Army back for the money they'd invested into his education -- but he was denied then as he was denied this year, and subsequently he grew desperate, distant, and increasingly bat-shit insane as the deployment date neared.<br /><br /> Reading through these credible accounts now, you can see how everyone from the PR flaks in the military to the rightwing machine would want somehow distract people from all the accounts of their pigheaded refusal to exempt or discharge Maj. Hasan, and you can then start to imagine how a lot of editors and viewers wouldn't put up much of a fuss if the story changed to something more palatable to the American public. So with no one interested in protecting Maj. Hasan's motives, and everyone interested in protecting the Army's behavior, the story gets changed from one of "it could have been prevented if Army bureaucrats/officers weren't such raging assholes to Maj. Hasan" to a barrage of leaks from unnamed Army officials, who argued that Maj. Hasan never said peep to anyone about wanting out of the service (note however the fine language--they narrowed from deployment to discharge to "record of" requesting a discharge). And that it was really the US Army's Judeo-Christian word against Major Hasan's Muslim-terrorist relatives' "word." And who best to print a made-to-order reality-scrub than the corrupt neocons <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111128106.html">running the <em>Washington Post</em></a>:</p> <p><em><strong>Hasan Did Not Formally Seek To Leave Military, Army Official Says</strong><br /><br /> WASHINGTON -- The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people last week at Fort Hood, Texas, did not <strong>formally seek</strong> to leave the military as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, an Army official said, despite claims by <strong>one of his relatives</strong> that he had done so.</em><br /><br /> Note the sly re-framing from "not getting deployed" to "discharge," a significant technicality; and the glaring omission here of all the other credible sources who were already on record testifying that Hasan had tried to get out of being deployed, in addition to getting a discharge. There's no more mention of all the Christian Americans -- the military sources and Republican politicians familiar with the case -- who supported the family's version. [Oddly enough, the original version of this Washington Post story, posted November 11, 2009, no longer exists on the <em>Post</em>'s site.</p> <p>Even the cached version is gone from Google and Bing; all redirect to a new address of a totally modified version of this story, with a new headline, angle and new lead paragraphs, and this lead paragraph I quote above pushed lower down in the story. This original<em>Post</em> version was widely distributed all over the internet and printed in newspapers all across America--it was the big scoop on that day. A<a href="http://74.6.146.127/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&amp;p=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111117825.html&amp;u=www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111117825.html&amp;d=cDwboN29TzSA&amp;icp=1&amp;.intl=us&amp;sig=NSiyEcq1RK6cMTg_sKu2OA--">friend tracked down a yahoo cached version</a> of the original article, which is still up (poor lowly Yahoo, the<em>Post</em>'s scrubbers didn't even bother tampering with it). In case that gets scrubbed, here is <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/22686100/Hasan-Did-Not-Formally-Seek-to-Leave-Military-Army-Official-Says-Washington-Post">a .pdf file of the article</a>. Even though the Nov. 11 web address exists, it automatically redirects to the newer <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111128106.html">modified version of this article</a>, which changes the headline from "Hasan Did Not Formally Seek To Leave Military, Army Official Says" to a completely different story: "Army sought ways to channel Hasan's absorption with Islam."</p> <p>So a day after the <em>Post</em> disseminated an unsourced story that ended talk about how the Army callously dismissed Maj. Hasan's repeated pleas, the rewritten Nov. 12 version of the same article takes the PR whitewash to an even more ludicrous level: now we're told that rather than treating Maj. Hasan poorly, the multiculturalism-friendly Army was Maj. Hasan's bestest buddy and life coach, going the extra mile to accommodate Hasan's Islamic alienation, enrolling him in Islamic sensitivity classes. So now the question is: Why did the <em>Post</em> furtively rewrite the original own story and scrub all the cached versions? The question has to be asked because there's no explanation of the modification, which usually appears at the end of the story. It may be nothing. But if the purpose of this rewrite-and-scrub of the original story was because some editor understood that the story was too poorly sourced to stand behind, then the <em>Post</em> should acknowledge the modification somewhere. Whatever the reason for that mystery, the effect was very clear: after this was published, the media stopped talking about how Maj. Hasan tried getting out of the Army, and turned instead towards making Hasan into the face of Islamofascist evil.] The <em>Post</em> makes yet another false assertion, that only "one of his relatives" -- Maj. Hasan's aunt -- claimed Hasan had tried to get a discharge, when in fact several of Maj. Hasan's relatives confirmed it.<br /><br /> For example, there's a cousin, Nadar Hasan:</p> <p><em>Around 2004, Major Hasan started feeling disgruntled about the Army, relatives said. He described anti-Muslim harassment and sought legal advice, possibly from an Army lawyer, <strong>about getting a discharge.</strong></em><strong>[Bold mine-author]</strong><em><br /><br /> But because the Army had paid for his education, and probably because the Army was in great need of mental health professionals and was trying to recruit Arab-Americans, he was advised that his chances of getting out were minuscule, relatives said.</em><br /><br /> "They told him that he would be allowed out only if Rumsfeld himself O.K.'d it," said a cousin, Nader Hasan, referring to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the secretary of defense. Relatives said they were unclear whether Major Hasan sought assistance from a private lawyer; then, about two years ago, his cousin Nader Hasan said, he resigned himself to staying in the Army through the end of his commitment.<br /><br /> And here's Number 3, also a cousin, this one named Malik Hasan, <a href="http://news.aol.com/article/nidal-malik-hasans-questions-views/755134">as reported in the AP</a>:</p> <p><em>"He told (them) that as a Muslim committed to his prayers he was discriminated against and not treated as is fitting for an officer and American," said Mohammed Malik Hasan, 24, a cousin, told the AP from his home on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Ramallah. "He hired a lawyer to get him a <strong>discharge</strong>."</em><br /><br /> Whether you choose to believe them or not is one matter; but it's another matter when the <em>Post</em> reporters or fact-checkers, among the best-trained in the business, are suddenly struck with a case of collective laziness, and don't bother fact-checking the most significant assertion in the article's lead paragraph.</p> <p>Again, the fact that they wiped the original version off the net may suggest that the <em>Post</em> realized that the original version was problematic enough to warrant a rewrite and thematic-shift. To see just how big a difference the <em>WaPo's</em> article claiming that Maj. Hasan hadn't sought a discharge makes, imagine if that same lead paragraph above, quoted all over the country on November 11, was rewritten according to the true facts:</p> <p><em>The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people last week at Fort Hood, Texas, did not formally seek to leave the military as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, an Army official said, despite claims by at least three relatives that he had sought a discharge, as well as public statements by three Texas Republican congressmen, officers and others who knew Maj. Hasan.</em><br /><br /> Put this way -- the accurate, factual way -- it makes the Army look bad. As if they're hiding something. The Army official claim lacks credibility and looks incredibly suspicious. Because the unnamed Army official has a reason to want to lie to us (which is why he's always "unnamed"): to divert attention away from the Army's failure to respond in any reasonable way to Maj. Hasan's desperate pleas to be discharged exploring that angle means exploring the toxic culture of callous bureaucratic indifference and ethnic bullying and discrimination that Maj. Hasan faced in the Army.</p> <p>It wasn't just his superiors; even young grunts were having a laugh at this ranking senior office, because to them Maj. Hasan was nothing but a camel jockey. It was this culture that transformed Maj. Hasan from a patriot who eagerly joined the Army as a teenager, so eager to Americanize himself apart from his Jordan-born parents that he enlisted over their objections. Hasan then traveled down a 20-year transformation from wide-eyed Arab-American patriot to the increasingly angry, alienated, and finally murderously insane Maj. Hasan.</p> <p>That's the Hasan one we know, the one who unleashed a bloodbath on military personnel, whom he targeted specifically like so many rage murderers do, perhaps even targeting people he knew whom he believed had destroyed him, as Sen. Hutchison suggested. That's the version that could cause a lot of problems and a lot of cognitive dissonance here, so it had to be scrubbed out with a new unsourced and slyly-crafted lie claiming what everyone hoped to hear: that Maj. Hassan never tried to get discharged, and the poor military and intel people were helpless to stop the crazed terrorist in their midst.</p> <p><em>The Washington Post</em>, as we saw, subsequently altered this story the next day, once the damage was done, transforming it into an even weirder story about Army sensitivity to Maj. Hasan's religious needs, enrolling him in a kind of Islam Sensitivity Training course. Note again how there's not a single named source for the story, headlined "<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111128106.html">Army sought ways to channel</a>Hasan's absorption with Islam":</p> <p><em>Army psychiatrists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who supervised Maj. Nidal M. Hasan's work as a psychiatric fellow tried to turn his growing preoccupation with religion and war into something productive by ordering him to attend a university lecture series on Islam, the Middle East and terrorism, according to a Walter Reed staff member familiar with Hasan's medical training. The psychiatric staff at Walter Reed did not discuss kicking him out of the service, according to the staff member. In fact, Hasan was initially considered a good medical school candidate because he had spent time as an enlisted soldier and had cared for his siblings after his parents died, both attributes that supervisors believed indicated he had a healthy work ethic. ...<br /><br /> The idea that Hasan attend the lectures, which he did late last year or early this year, came up during discussions among the psychiatric staffs of the hospital and the Army's medical university about what was perceived as Hasan's lack of productivity and his constant interest in Muslims whose religious beliefs conflicted with their military duties.<br /><br /> "You're at an institution of higher learning. He seems to want to do work in an area no one knows anything about," the staff member, who also requested anonymity because he had not been authorized to speak publicly, said of the order. "You don't want to close him down just because it's different."</em><br /><br /> Indeed.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Hasan-Never-Told-Us-He-Was-Unhappy story ran again under a different outlet, the AP. And just as with the Post's account, the AP relied on the same "unnamed" sources <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ihGepAkECGoDagETVBMpPb3w7Y3gD9BTKQ681">to back it up while totally omitting all the credible</a> sources who were already on the record contradicting these "unnamed sources":</p> <p><em>Meanwhile, the Pentagon has found no evidence that Hasan formally sought release from the Army as a conscientious objector or for any other reason, two senior military officials told The Associated Press. Family members have said he wanted to get out of the Army and had sought legal advice, suggesting that Hasan's anxiety as a Muslim over his pending deployment overseas might have been a factor in the deadly rampage.<br /><br /> Hasan had complained privately to colleagues that he was harassed for his religion and that he wanted to get out of the Army. But there is no record of Hasan filing a complaint with his chain of command regarding any harassment he may have suffered for being Muslim or any record of him formally seeking release from the military, the officials told the AP.<br /><br /> The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.<br /></em><br /> With the AP and <em>Washington Post</em> both running versions of this new line within 24 hours of each other, every paper and media outlet in America would pick it up.<br /><br /> The other key element in making this rather crude fact-scrubbing work is that the audience--Americans--didn't really want to hear the depressing truth of what this bastard went through before he went postal. It's easier to make him out to be "evil" and a "terrorist" from an entirely alien, bloodthirsty religion which bears no relation to our civilized, peace-loving Judeo-Christianity.<br /><br /> It was amazing how quickly everyone rallied around the facile "terrorist" explanation, as if by osmosis. One hack who was instrumental in pushing this new, pat "terrorist" explanation was Time magazine's Nancy Gibbs, who wrote the cover story, featuring a giant close-up photo of Hasan's face and a black bar with the words "TERRORIST" postered across his eyes. Gibbs dismisses the idea that Hasan's environment, rather than his evil Muslim soul, drove him to massacre, despite all the evidence.<br /><br /> This isn't the first time Nancy Gibbs has whitewashed a massacre to make it fit a facile, comforting narrative. A few months after the Columbine massacre in 1999, as more Americans started to question whether bullying and the schools' toxic culture might have helped cause the shootings, Gibbs sneered at the sudden cultural change acknowledging bullying's toxic effects on kids, and the sense that it shouldn't be tolerated--a sensibility that Gibbs dismissed as nothing but a bunch of <a href="http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,992319,00.html">politically-correct namby-pambies</a>:<br /><br /><em>So if you aren't allowed to wear a hat, toot your horn, form a clique or pick on a freshman, all because everyone is worried that someone might snap, it's fair to ask: Are high schools preparing kids for the big ugly world outside those doors -- or handicapping them once they get there? High school was once useful as a controlled environment, where it was safe to learn to handle rejection, competition, cruelty, charisma. Now that we've discovered how unsafe a school can be, it may have become so controlled that some lessons will just have to be learned elsewhere.<br /><br /> Gibbs was telling her readers that bullying makes you a man, and anyone who says it had anything to do with causing rampage shootings was nothing but a touchy-feely politically-correct wimp. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, and only a willfully ignorant jerk could possibly go on the record dismissing bullying. In the months and years since Gibbs defended the positive educational and character-building benefits of bullying, several states and local school districts have enacted laws and rules outlawing bullying. Numerous studies show that bullied kids tend to suffer serious psychological and cognitive damage throughout their lives--they have a much greater chance of suffering from depression, and have difficulties making friends, socializing, and succeeding as compared to other children.</em><br /><br /> Researchers have detailed just how savagely the Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were bullied, and how their school tolerated and nurtured the bullying jocks while dismissing, Gibbs-style, the whining complaints of bullied kids and their parents. Before their massacre, Klebold and Harris left behind diaries explaining their goals and their plans. Unlike people searching for meaning in Maj. Hasan's "Allahu Akhbar" Klebold and Harris left no doubt at all that their goal was to commit terrorism: "we will hijack a hell of a lot of bombs and crash a plane into NYC with us inside firing away as we go down."<br /><br /> That wasn't Hasan or any other Muslim: that was the white Christian American Eric Harris, and his half-Jewish co-murderer, Dylan Klebold.<br /><br /> But again, just as with the Maj. Hasan rampage, it's too disturbing for too many Americans--so bullying has nothing to do with it in Columbine or Walter Reed.<br /><br /> At last, we have the new nicely-scrubbed Soviet version of events that we've come to accept: No one told the Army that Maj. Hasan wanted a discharge. Army officials figured out that he was a crazy Muslim--because that $700 billion we pour into our military every year isn't wasted!--and they even tried to enroll him into Islamic sensitivity training. But the problem is, our 2 million man military was so terrified of hippies and feminists terrorizing them with political-correctness-hectoring that our nation's finest kept all of their fears about Hasan to themselves.<br /><br /> That's it. That's the story. Sure, it's fucking ridiculous. But it's what the country now all agrees happened.<br /><br /> Here, for example, is <a href="http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_110909/content/01125106.guest.html">Rush Limbaugh</a>:<br /><em><br /> "I tell you something, folks, political correctness and a lot of other things are gonna lead to our downfall."</em><br /><br /> And then here is Newt Gingrich on <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,574850,00.html">Fox News's Greta Van Susteren show:</a></p> <p><em>I think the American people and the Congress should look at the kind of political correct indoctrination now under way at the FBI and elsewhere, designed to make sure that they're not insensitive.</em><br /><br /> And finally, going back to the <em>Washington Post</em> again, here is their star pundit, the man who fucked up and called wrong every important event of the last decade-plus: <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/12/AR2009111209824.html">Charles Krauthammer</a>: <br /><em><br /> Was anything done about this potential danger? Of course not. Who wants to be accused of Islamophobia and prejudice against a colleague's religion?</em><br /><br /><em>We know that the FBI and the Army knew how dangerous Hasan was. Those soldiers were scared for their lives and tried to do something. This is what happens to everyone who speaks out about jihad in the private sector, in academia, in the media, etc., but for the FBI and the Army to be more concerned with the feelings of terrorists and pedophiles than with the lives of our soldiers, first responders, and civilians is unconscionable. It appears that the CIA, the NSA, and the DNI have the same priorities.<br /><br /> Despicable.<br /><br /> I could never have imagined the pervasiveness of out-and-out treason in our government and our military.</em><br /><br /> Yowza, he's on fire! Okay but seriously, what can you expect from an imbecile like Krauthammer, whose columns consist of nothing but a series of reckless lies, lazy posturing, and an unusual talent for predicting everything exactly wrong, with disastrous results every time, like some kind of fascist Mr Magoo hellbent on subjugating the planet through military force if only he can find his glasses, he'll start subjugating ... O where did he put them? ...</p> <p>To see just how totally unreliable Krauthammer's fungus-infested mind is, I offer his reading into the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, when Korean-American student Seun-Hui Cho killed 33 people. Krauthammer answers it as though his brain has been sucked into a parallel universe very close to our own, and he's <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=inspiration+from+the+manifestos%2C+the+iconic+photographs+of+the+Islamic+suicide+bombers&amp;ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a">responding to a question about Middle East violence</a>: <br /><em><br /><strong>KRAUTHAMMER:</strong> What you can say, just -- not as a psychiatrist, but as somebody who's lived through the a past seven or eight years, is that if you look at that picture [of the Virigina Tech shooting], it draws its inspiration from the manifestos, the iconic photographs of the Islamic suicide bombers over the last half decade in Palestine, in Iraq and elsewhere. That's what they end up leaving behind, either on al Jazeera or Palestinian TV. And he, it seems, as if his inspiration for leaving the message behind in that way, might have been this kind of suicide attack, which, of course, his was. And he did leave the return address return "Ismail Ax." "Ismail Ax." I suspect it has some more to do with Islamic terror and the inspiration than it does with the opening line of Moby Dick.<br /><br /><strong>BRIT HUME:</strong> Which was, "My name is Ishmael."<br /></em><br /> Can we call you "Dumber" for short? Seriously, it reads like the transcript of a couple of washed-up valium junkies sitting in front of the telly. In a meritocracy, Brit Hume would be fired and driven into exile for failing to remember three simple words in the most famous sentence in American literature. But if the point is to be wrong, and to rub it in, then it makes sense -- because that's exactly what Krauthammer does. He's even lazier, in his own way: Brit vacuously reads the big news item of the day; and Krauthammer blames the same ol' reliable villains: Islamofascist terrorists abroad, and the liberal fifth column here at home. There's not even a fake attempt at linking the two, not even a conjoining clause. It's as though he just sheds his hatreds unconsciously, like flakes of dead skin.</p> <p>But Krauthammer's account of the Fort Hood massacre goes further than the usual cover-up and deflection. This time, he goes all the way, accusing America's tolerance-mad liberals of not merely weakening the country from within out of naive good intentions, but instead he says something far more threatening. Krauthammer argues that America's liberals are actually sabotaging the military and intelligence agencies as part of some kind of conspiracy to destroy America and pave the way for an Islamic-socialist-liberal takeover. Which makes the liberals guilty of treason. Treason is a capital offense.<br /><br /><br />  </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2009 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '659498'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=659498" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 22 Nov 2009 21:00:01 -0800 Mark Ames, AlterNet 659498 at https://img.alternet.org Media Human Rights Media afghanistan islam rage murder ft. hood nidal malik hasan Focusing on Fort Hood Killer's Beliefs Is an Easy Out to Avoid the Deeper Reasons for the Massacre https://img.alternet.org/story/143779/focusing_on_fort_hood_killer%27s_beliefs_is_an_easy_out_to_avoid_the_deeper_reasons_for_the_massacre <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '659195'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=659195" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">That alleged killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is a Muslim is not enough to explain the attacks.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>It's hard to pinpoint what's the most shocking thing about Army Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan's shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas.</p> <p>I'll start with this: There's nothing all that groundbreaking about it. It happens all the time, it's just that we're a nation of amnesiacs who forget all the unpleasantries and refuse to learn the valuable lessons.</p> <p>Fort Hood is located in Killeen, Texas -- where one of the deadliest rampage-shootings in American history took place in 1991, when an unemployed ex-Navy enlistee, <a href="http://www.helium.com/items/732562-george-jo-hennard-jr-a-mini-biography-of-a-mass-murderer">George Hennard Jr.</a>, crashed his pickup into a popular cafeteria, pulled out two handguns (Hasan also used two handguns), and killed 23 people before taking his own life.</p> <p>The day before the massacre, Hennard was eating a hamburger in a local restaurant watching the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and, <a href="http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20111193,00.html">according to the manager</a>, "When an interview with Anita Hill came on, he just went off. He started screaming, ‘You dumb bitch! You bastards opened the door for all the women!' "</p> <p>So yesterday's Fort Hood shooting isn't the worst, or most deranged, mass killing in Killeen's history -- not by a longshot. The mainstream media is enabling the screaming about the Muslim traitors in our midst, but Hasan killed far fewer Americans than the white, racist Hennard. And they were bested by the federal government in nearby Waco, in 1993, when federal forces slaughtered 75 men, women and children at the Branch Davidian compound.</p> <p>But in what may seem like a strange coincidence, Hasan and Killeen are connected to another American shooting rampage.</p> <p>Killeen held the record for America's worst shooting massacre until 2007, when <a href="http://www.alternet.org/story/50758/">Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 33 fellow students</a>. Hasan graduated from Virginia Tech in 1997.</p> <p>Both Hasan and Cho were bullied and harassed -- <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/nadal-malik-hasan-wanted-army-family/story?id=9008184">Hasan's cousin told reporters</a> that after 9/11, his military comrades regularly abused him, calling him "camel jockey." But the cousin insisted that Hasan's opposition to the war didn't grow out of the bullying, but rather from the stories he heard while interning as a psychiatric counselor to veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.</p> <p>Hasan had even hired an attorney to try to come to a settlement with the government and leave the service, but it wouldn't settle and instead forced him to deploy. He apparently fought it up to the day before his deployment -- and instead of going to the war, he brought the war to the U.S. military.</p> <p>As is often the case, the wrong lesson was learned, and the solution was more guns and more militarization of society: after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, a pro-gun student group formed and called for the arming of as many students as possible. The group is called <a href="http://www.concealedcampus.org/">Students for Concealed Carry on Campus</a>, and today it claims over 40,000 members on over 363 campuses.</p> <p>Likewise in 1991, after the Killeen shootings, the state of Texas responded by enacting a law freeing up gun owners to carry concealed weapons. Gov. George W. Bush signed the law as <a href="http://www.mideastanalysis.com/in-matters-of-the-gun-america-bites-the-bullet.html">in 1995</a>, and in 2008, it was he who signed the <a href="http://www.abcnews.go.com/print?id=4126152">first federal gun-control law</a> in 13 years, after the Virginia Tech massacre.</p> <p>So Hasan, whose parents came to the U.S. from Palestine, had plenty of personal connections to "Made in the USA" violence and massacres; and yet there's a frantic attempt to make him out to be a crazy Muslim monster hell-bent on killing Americans.</p> <p>Why would he need to take inspiration just from them when Americans already provided so many excellent examples of how to mass murder fellow Americans?</p> <p>Fort Hood, the largest military base in America, has seen its share of violence as well. For one thing, it holds the record for most soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan -- 685 so far -- and although we don't know the figures, it's reasonable to assume that Fort Hood is responsible for a sizable percentage of the thousands killed in those countries since America invaded them.</p> <p>Over the same period, 75 soldiers have committed suicide at Fort Hood, 10 in 2009 -- the highest of any base. In one weekend in 2005, two soldiers, who had returned from Iraq, killed themselves in separate incidents. Last year, in something right out of <em>Full Metal Jacket</em>, Spc. Jody Michael Wirawan, 21, of the 1st Cavalry Division, <a href="http://jodywirawan.blogspot.com/">shot and killed his lieutenant</a>, and then killed himself when police arrived.</p> <p>And life in <a href="http://www.idcide.com/citydata/tx/killeen.htm">Killeen isn't much nicer</a>: It has one of the nation's lowest median incomes and highest crime rates. Earlier this year, a 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier was killed by a Killeen cop who claimed he killed the man after being dragged underneath his SUV. The soldier's mother filed a lawsuit claiming that the cop was notoriously out of control and violent and that he had shot her son while the car was pulled over.</p> <p>All of this violence and despair led Fort Hood's commander, Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125747341095832795.html?mod=article-outset-box">to build a post-traumatic stress disorder complex</a> called the Resiliency Campus, featuring a Spiritual Fitness Center for soldiers to meditate, and a Cognitive Enhancement Assistance Center. As though a spiritual fitness workout routine could resolve the underlying cause of why a Resiliency Campus was built in the first place.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">If the government really were concerned about all the suicides and PTSD cases, it could have prevented Hasan's deadly mission before it happened. It would have been easy: Hasan <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33678801/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/">had pleaded</a> with his superiors not to be sent to Iraq, where he was scheduled to be deployed, but his requests were denied.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Right-wing bloggers such as Michelle Malkin, and <a href="http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/11/feds-eyed-ft-hood-killer-for-posts-praising-suicide-bombers/">some mainstream outlets</a>, have seized on reports <a href="http://hotair.com/archives/2009/11/05/breaking-massacre-at-fort-hood/comment-page-36/">emerging that Hasan supposedly voiced opinions</a> sympathetic to suicide bombers.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">But if he was an al-Qaida sleeper-cell suicide bomber, it makes no sense why he would, a) argue with fellow soldiers that the wars are wrong and we should withdraw; and b) that he tried to get out of being deployed to Iraq. The 9/11 terrorists did their best to "blend in" and pretend they were as American as apple pie, because the point is not to draw any attention to yourself if you're a terrorist planning to suicide bomb a military base.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Moreover, the timing of his shooting, the day before he was to be sent off, shows that his desperation had reached the limit. What this suggests is that the massacre could have been avoided if Hasan's objections were taken into account.</p> <p>Hasan's opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars puts him where <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_opinion_in_the_US_on_the_invasion_of_Iraq">the majority of Americans are today</a>. And he's not the first soldier at Fort Hood to protest the war. Desertion rates have soared since the Iraq invasion, and Fort Hood has had some high-profile objectors making the news this year, such as <a href="http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/gi-victor-agosto-there-is-no-way-i-will.html">Spc. Victor Agosto</a>, who was court-martialed in August after he refused to go to Afghanistan, and <a href="http://www.truthout.org/081209A">Sgt. Travis Bishop</a>, who filed for conscientious objector status after serving in Iraq for 14 months.</p> <p>Fort Hood was famous as the site of one of the first protests against the Vietnam War in 1965, when the so-called <a href="http://www.sirnosir.com/archives_and_resources/library/pamphlets_publications/ft_hood_3/p8.html">Fort Hood Three</a> refused to be shipped off on the grounds that the war was wrong and illegal.</p> <p>Three years later, the movement expanded: hundreds of African-American GIs protested plans to deploy them to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and 43 were court-martialed. It was a heroic act: U.S. troops and cops staged one of the bloodiest police-on-citizen episodes in modern history.</p> <p>In 1971, the Fort Hood United Front, made up of soldiers from the base, marched into Killeen even though the city refused to grant them a permit; hundreds were arrested.</p> <p>Today, if you read through some of the forums out of Fort Hood, the anti-war mood is clearly strong and clearly a problem for the authorities. So they'll do their best to paint Hasan as a Muslim loon. The right wing has been trying for years now to equate opposition to the wars with pro-terrorist, anti-American sentiment, and by the poll numbers today, that would make most Americans anti-American terrorists.</p> <p>You can already see the dark, rank heart of the American Soul in anonymous messages posted on underground right-wing sites such as <a href="http://freerepublic.com"><em>Free Republic</em></a>, a few of which are posted below:</p> <p><em>Why is anyone surprised?</em></p> <p><em>We already have a DIRTY MOSLEM TRAITOR in the Oval Office.</em></p> <p><em>What's one more moslem piece of garbage?</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;">* * *</p> <p><em>[Quoting a previous posting] **If you are Islamic, you may not serve in our military. Period.**</em></p> <p><em>I'm getting closer to:</em></p> <p><em>If you are Islamic, you may not serve in our military live in this country.</em></p> <p><em>Period.</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;">* * *</p> <p><em>I'm getting closer to:</em></p> <p><em>If you are Islamic, you may not live.</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;">* * *</p> <p>The story is still fresh, and there's a lot we don't know, and there are still a lot of conflicting reports and confusion.</p> <p>Since Hasan will be tried in a military court, the American public will only learn whatever the military wants us to learn. And to a nation slipping deeper into its own amnesiac fog, the last thing we want to learn are the painful, threatening truths.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2009 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '659195'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=659195" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 05 Nov 2009 21:00:01 -0800 Mark Ames, AlterNet 659195 at https://img.alternet.org Media Media afghanistan walter reed rage murder ft. hood nidal malik hasan After the Billionaires Plundered Alabama Town, Troops Were Called in ... Illegally https://img.alternet.org/story/143485/after_the_billionaires_plundered_alabama_town%2C_troops_were_called_in_..._illegally <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '658893'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=658893" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all,&quot; says one Goldman Sachs adviser. But tell that to the people of Samson, Ala.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em><strong>Editor's Note:</strong>The shocking transfer of public wealth to Wall Street's pockets is illustrated vividly in Mark Ames' article below, which covers some very disturbing recent events in Alabama, where billionaires and banks are squeezing the locals so hard that they're literally going bankrupt just for flushing their toilets, where violence and the threat of violence are reaching a boiling point and where even the Posse Comitatus Act is under threat. "We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all," said one</em><a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/oct/21/executive-pay-bonuses-goldmansachs"><em>Goldman Sachs vice-chairman</em></a><em>recently. Well, here's a tale of the kind of inequality the finance industry expects citizens to tolerate.</em></p> <p>One of this year's more disturbing stories that were ignored was the illegal Army occupation of Samson, Alab., in March following a shooting spree that raged across two towns by a disgruntled worker, leaving 11 people dead.</p> <p><a href="http://www.alternet.org/story/131201">As I wrote at the time</a>, Michael McLendon, 27, went on a killing rampage following years of relentless corporate exploitation and harassment against him, his mother (whom he mercy-killed), and the entire rural Alabama region, which suffered like so many parts of rural America at the hands of billionaire goons like chicken oligarch Bo Pilgrim of Pilgrim's Pride notoriety.</p> <p>One of the creepiest details to emerge in the shooting rampage were reports that troops from nearby Fort Rucker were brought into Samson and other surrounding areas to patrol the streets. This is a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, every freedom-loving American's worst nightmare.</p> <p>And now, finally, the Army officially agrees that its occupation of the Alabama streets was illegal, according to an internal report the<a href="http://www.military.com/news/article/troop-use-after-ala-shootings-illegal.html?col=1186032310810"><em>Associated Press</em> got a hold of</a>, following a Freedom of Information Act filing:</p> <blockquote>An Army investigation found that soldiers should not have been sent to man traffic stops in a small Alabama town after 11 people were killed in March during a shooting spree. <p>An Army report released to the <em>Associated Press</em> on Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request said the decision to dispatch military police to Samson from nearby Fort Rucker broke the law. But an Army spokesman said no charges have been filed following the Aug. 10 report.</p> <p>The report from the Department of Army Inspector General found the use of military personnel in Samson violated the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits federal troops from performing law-enforcement actions. The names of those involved were redacted from the report.</p> <p>According to the report, the officer's "intent was to be a good Army neighbor and help local civilian authorities facing a difficult, unique tragedy affecting the local community. There were no apparent adverse collateral effects to the support provided."</p></blockquote> <p>Indeed. For a lot of Americans, the sight of troops occupying their towns is their worst nightmare come true -- part of the reason that America came into existence was to create a country where this sort of thing would never happen, even if the Army's sole intent was to be a good neighbor and help old ladies cross the streets.</p> <p>Strangely enough, there was almost no media coverage of the occupation -- you had to rely on various right-wing outlets like <em>CNSNews.com</em>, whose article<a href="http://exiledonline.com/government-goes-postal-us-army-secretly-sent-into-southern-alabama-to-put-down-a-feared-uprising-following-shooting-spree/">I blogged at the time</a>, or the left-wing <a href="http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&amp;address=389x5248381"><em>Democratic Underground</em></a>.</p> <p>But what even the right-wing anti-government people won't report is the true reason why the Army was called out in the first place, something that goes right back to the cause of the shooting rampage: billionaire exploitation of the local Alabamans, not just by the chicken oligarch, but from higher up the predator food chain -- Wall Street banking behemoth JP Morgan Chase.</p> <p>You see, thanks to a combination of corporate-tax holidays (which reduce local revenues), billionaire greed like the sort that bankrupted Pilgrim's Pride, and Wall Street investment-banking scams on places like Alabama that result in corrupted local officials and bankrupted municipalities, counties and states -- now, there's no money left to fund local police forces, as the <a href="http://www.military.com/news/article/troop-use-after-ala-shootings-illegal.html?col=1186032310810">U.S. Army report reveals</a>:</p> <blockquote>The soldiers arrived in the hours after the shootings, which stretched the town's tiny police force and county officers to the limit with several different crime scenes. The report said troops were dispatched after the Geneva County Sheriff's Office and Samson Police requested assistance from Fort Rucker to relieve law enforcement at traffic checkpoints around the crime-scene area.</blockquote> <p>As I wrote earlier this year, Pilgrim's Pride hooked up with Wall Street to leverage itself into bankruptcy while enriching the executives' family and a handful of insiders at the expense of tens of thousands of <a href="http://exiledonline.com/alabama-murder-mystery-solved-the-shocking-story-of-how-a-chicken-slaughtering-billionaire-plundered-rural-america/">Americans workers</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>In 2006, Pilgrim's Pride, then the second-largest chicken processor in the world, made a huge gamble that will seem familiar to anyone who's been following the financial crash: the company borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars, leveraging itself well beyond its means, in order to acquire a rival company and become the nation's No. 1 chicken processor, slaughtering 45 million chickens per week.</p></blockquote> <p>That might have given the executives a nice, big hard-on, but it also meant they would have to come up with more money to pay for all that debt. So the company did do what every post-Reagan company has done and gotten away with: it made the workforce pay for the executives' bonuses.</p> <p>That meant squeezing lower-middle-class workers for more work for less pay, or in Pilgrim's case, more work for no pay: In August 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Pilgrim's Pride accusing it of grossly undercompensating its employees. That same year, 10,000 Pilgrim's Pride employees <a href="http://www.just-pay.org/news/article.212383-More_than_300_Chattanoogans_join_lawsuit_against_Pilgrims_Pride">launched a class-action</a> lawsuit demanding compensation for their work.</p> <p>The damage extended well beyond Pilgrim's Pride's plants. With bankruptcy came huge unpaid local tax bills, leading to further layoffs and reduced services for the <a href="http://jacksonville.illumen.org/newsArticle.jsf?documentId=2c9e4f691fda95df011fddaf6ffd05dd">already-beleaguered locals</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Suwannee County could be out about $2 million if Pilgrim's Pride doesn't pay its property-tax bill, according to property appraiser Lamar Jenkins.</p> <p>The biggest taxpayer in the county filed for bankruptcy protection Dec. 1. Now it's not clear when -- or if -- the bill will be paid.</p> <p>"It's certainly going to put a hurt on the budget of the county," Jenkins told the <em>[Suwanee] Democrat</em> by phone Thursday. Jenkins said the unpaid bill represents 7.4 percent of the money local schools get from property taxes; 5.3 percent of county funds from that source; and 8 percent of the money the Suwannee River Water Management District receives from local property-tax revenues.</p> <p>A spokesman for Pilgrim's did not respond to a request for comment.</p></blockquote> <p>Bo Pilgrim, the head of Pilgrim's Pride, once told his Texas church that he was worth over $1 billion before the market crash, <a href="http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/2106274/">and he's still worth hundreds of millions</a>.  His rapacity was boundless, and in the end it was the undoing of Pilgrim's Pride -- not the Pilgrim family, mind you, which is still filthy disgusting rich, but the company is through.</p> <p>Last month, 64 percent of Pilgrim's Pride was sold to JBS, a Brazilian beef giant, making it the largest meat company in the world, topping America's Tyson. The American cattle industry tried to block the deal, which it says could result in the destruction of the American beef industry, but the Justice Department already approved JBS' takeover.</p> <p>In the billionaires' Third World model for America, it makes awful sense that a Brazilian meat company would take control of a bankrupt, corrupt American chicken company. For Wall Street and the billionaires, the more they destroy in America, the richer they get, consequences be damned. And anyway, it's not like Pilgrim's Pride was a model of corporate responsibility while under American ownership; just read some of the comments on this <a href="http://www.topix.com/business/food/2009/09/reports-pilgrims-pride-nears-2b-sale-to-brazilian-beef-producer-jbs-but-both-companies-mum">recent <em>Reuters</em> article</a>:</p> <blockquote> <strong><em>Gilmer, Texas, Sep. 8, 2009</em></strong><em>--</em>working as a supervisor in mt pleasant plant use to be injoyable, but lately they expect you to work 50/70 hours for no extra pay. pilgrims pride does not care about family life just their money. Everyone is afraid to say anything, because upper management may let you go with no warnning because you voiced your oppion <p><strong><em>robert, Carrollton, Ga.</em></strong><em>--</em>i work carrollton,ga former goldkist plant we were goldkist 1 plant now we fill like we in pure hell working for pilgrim pride these people want you to kiss there ass and work three times hard for same money no rasied in two years old chicken farmer</p> <p><strong><em>Doddridge, Ark.</em></strong><em>--</em>While I was raising chickens for Pilgrim's Pride, I became friends with many lower management employees of the company. The manner in which they were terminated was just simply unmerciful. While the growers had the brunt of the financial devastion, many that were nearing retirement were left with no prospects of employment in the near future. I know some that have had to uproot their families and settle for a considerable more modest lifestyle with their retirement benefits in doubt after a number of years of employment. It is just a shame that Bo Pilgrim has pocketed the money of many hard working people. I still believe Bo needs to be in the jail cell next to Bernie Madoff.</p></blockquote> <p>The comments section is where you'll find the real, unvarnished, ungrammatical rage among America's cheated majority, because for the most part, people are too desperate and afraid to complain in public.</p> <p>But here's the rub: Selling Pilgrim's Pride to a Brazilian meat monopoly doesn't mean things will get better for Alabamans. Just weeks after the buyout was announced, Pilgrim's Pride closed another plant, this one in northern Alabama. <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D9B555C81.html">According to the <em>AP</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>A chicken-processing plant owned by Pilgrim's Pride Corp. is shutting down this week after almost six decades, putting more than 600 people out of work and creating ripples that will be felt all over town.</p> <p>The city of almost 20,000 is preparing for the end of a relationship that began in 1952 when James Beasley founded Sweet Sue Poultry, which originally ran the plant. Owners included Beatrice Foods and ConAgra before Pilgrim's Pride purchased the business in 2003.</p></blockquote> <p>Which looks a lot like an even more depressing Pilgrim's Pride story from a few months earlier, this from rural Arkansas. The town of Clinton filed a lawsuit in June against Pilgrim's Pride, <a href="http://blog.taragana.com/n/ark-city-sues-pilgrims-pride-for-28m-over-idled-plant-accuses-company-of-price-manipulation-69309/">accusing it of turning the town</a> into a "ghost town":</p> <p>"With its largest and sole remaining employer, Pilgrim's, now evacuated, the city faces a crisis of revenue, bond payments and economic devastation, and as a result of the Pilgrim's evacuation is threatened with becoming a modern-day ghost town," the lawsuit filed by the city said. "This serious economic situation is, however, a direct consequence of Pilgrim's illegal purpose in shuttering the Clinton plant and operations."</p> <p>This story is repeated all over the rural South. So guess who put together the deal that bankrupted Pilgrim's Pride? Lehman Bros., the king of bankruptcy.</p> <p>On the other side of the deal, serving Gold Kist, was Merrill Lynch, which also collapsed last year. But Merrill's banker in the Pilgrim's Pride acquisition is still doing well, thank you very much. In fact, he was recently hired by <a href="http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/18/jpmorgan-hires-senior-merrill-deal-maker/">JPMorgan Chase as vice chairman of mergers and acquisitions.</a></p> <p>Which makes perfect sense, because JPMorgan Chase has been laying waste to Alabama on a level that makes Pilgrim's Pride's destruction look downright humanitarian. JP Morgan Chase has plundered so much wealth from one county in Alabama, using a complex derivatives scheme and old-fashioned bribery, that some locals are calling it "Armageddon." According to <em>Bloomberg</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>In its 190-year history, Jefferson County, Ala., has endured a cholera epidemic, a pounding in the Civil War, gunslingers, labor riots and terrorism by the Ku Klux Klan. Now this namesake of Thomas Jefferson, anchored by Birmingham, is staring at what one local politician calls financial "Armageddon."</p> <p>The spectacle -- a tax struck down, about 1,000 county employees furloughed, a politician indicted over $3 billion in sewer debt that may lead to the largest municipal bankruptcy in history -- has elbowed its way up the ladder of county lore.</p> <p>"People want to kill somebody, but they don't know who to shoot at," says Russell Cunningham, past president of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce.</p> <p>Jefferson County's debacle is a parable for billions of dollars lost by state and local governments from Florida to California in transactions done behind closed doors. Selling debt without requiring competition made public officials vulnerable to bankers' sales pitches, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for borrowing gone awry.</p> <p>[T]he county bet on interest-rate swaps, agreements that a representative of New York-based JPMorgan Chase &amp; Co. told commissioners could reduce their interest costs. Instead, the swaps -- covering more than $5 billion in all -- blew up during the credit crisis after ratings for the county's bond insurers fell.</p> <p>JPMorgan, through spokeswoman Christine Holevas, declined to comment for this story.</p></blockquote> <p>Yeah, why bother commenting to the public when you own the bastards? JPMorgan, which took $25 billion in direct bailout money and tens of billions more in backdoor subsidies and handouts, just posted a massive $3.6 billion quarterly profit, and has set aside at least $11.1 billion for management bonuses. Meanwhile, Alabamans can't afford to flush their toilets.</p> <p>This is what inequality looks like. From Wall Street, it must look extremely appealing; for the rest of America, it's a nightmare that's only getting worse.</p> <p>So far, it's clear that Birmingham and the entire Jefferson County are following the wretched script of a typical Third World scenario, where the Wall Street bankers corrupt the politicians and eventually bankrupt the place and then, while the corpse is still warm and the bankruptcy deals are cut, Wall Street makes sure it's first in line to profit off the chaos it created, while its corrupt local shill (in this case Birmingham's mayor) takes the fall for the crime of accepting the JP Morgan bribes … and the locals get screwed worst of all, paying off the bill for years or decades.</p> <p>Just this week, it emerged that Goldman Sachs, employer of Brian "Inequality Is Good" Griffiths, bilked the state of New Jersey using a similar scheme involving interest-rate swaps on bonds that don't even exist. According to <em>Bloomberg</em>, New Jersey is considering raising its gasoline tax to pay the $1 million a month they have to pay out to Goldman for the scam -- a regressive tax that once again takes from the struggling middle class and poor, and puts in thepockets of the billionaires.</p> <p>Meanwhile, over in Jefferson County, Ala., there's so little left to steal from the impoverished locals that Wall Street has been forced to come up with a new, grotesquely evil plan to line their pockets: taxing the local residents for <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20670001&amp;sid=a6QpSf.s4NaA">taking a shit:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In August, Bank of New York Mellon Corp., as trustee for owners of about $3 billion in sewer warrants, filed suit in Jefferson County Circuit Court seeking an appointed receiver for the sewer system. The receiver should have authority to raise rates enough to meet the debt service, the bank said in the complaint, which is pending. The sewer system is already charging customers about 300 percent more to drain bathtubs or flush toilets than a dozen years ago.</p> <p>By one county estimate, average annual bills are now about $750, compared with the national average of $331, according to a 2007 survey by the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Clean Water Agencies, a coalition of utilities.</p> <p>It's impossible to boost them enough without putting them beyond the means of many residents, County CommissionerJim Carns says. "We're like a guy making $50,000 a year with a $1 million mortgage."</p></blockquote> <p>In Wall Street's eyes, Alabamans really do shit gold.</p> <p>The thing now will be to convince the locals to use their toilets rather than, say, gas to heat their homes.</p> <p>As I wrote a few months ago, Jefferson County residents have become so desperate that they're being forced to choose between water and heating, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/marketsmag/mm_0708_trim2.html">as this article shows</a>:</p> <blockquote></blockquote> <blockquote> <p>As nighttime temperatures plunged in Birmingham, Ala., last October, Dora Bonner had a choice: either pay the gas bill so she could heat the home she shares with four grandchildren, or send the Birmingham Water Works a $250 check for her water and sewer bill.</p> <p>Bonner, who is 73 and lives on Social Security, decided to keep the house from freezing.</p> <p>"I couldn't afford the water, so they shut it off," she says.</p> <p>Bonner's sewer bills have risen more than fourfold in the past decade. So have those of others in Jefferson County, which has 659,000 residents and includes Birmingham, the state's largest city.</p></blockquote> <p>The logical outcome of the billionaires' plundering of Alabama is the same thing that happens all over the Third World: violence, fear and calling in the troops, the only way to secure the billionaires' dirty profits:</p> <blockquote> <p>In August and September … Jefferson County residents got a taste of what bankruptcy might look like. As the county began putting about 1,000 workers on leave without pay, one disgruntled employee allegedly e-mailed bomb threats to officials and was promptly arrested, according to the<a href="http://www.jeffcosheriff.org/">Jefferson County Sheriff's Office</a>.</p> <p>Lines soon formed outside the courthouse as such tasks as renewing driver's licenses slowed.</p> <p>A kind of legal civil war broke out when three county agencies -- the sheriff's department, an indigent-care hospital and the tax-assessor's office -- sued the county commission to stop the budget cuts on the grounds that they posed a danger to public safety.</p> <p><a href="http://search.bloomberg.com/search?q=Bettye+Fine+Collins&amp;site=wnews&amp;client=wnews&amp;proxystylesheet=wnews&amp;output=xml_no_dtd&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;oe=UTF-8&amp;filter=p&amp;getfields=wnnis&amp;sort=date:D:S:d1">Bettye Fine Collins</a>, the commission president, declared the situation, "our Armageddon."</p></blockquote> <p>The state's response is right out of the Central America banana republic playbook: When there's no money left for the people, send in the troops.</p> <p>The cuts in the sheriff's department budget were so severe that he was planning to call in the <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=8249839">National Guard to keep order</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The sheriff in Alabama's most populous county may call for the National Guard to help maintain order, a spokesman said Tuesday, as a judge cleared the way for cuts in the sheriff's budget, and lawmakers reached a compromise they hope will end the budget crisis.</p></blockquote> <p>In light of all of this, the Army's brief, illegal occupation of a string of towns in Alabama this past spring no longer looks like a freak one-off, but rather a logical progression in the ongoing billionaire plunder of America.</p> <p>It gives new meaning to what MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan is calling "corporate communism." Not only are banking billionaires on permanent state wealthfare, but even worse, as the wealth available becomes increasingly scarce and there isn't enough left to satisfy the billionaires' grotesque appetites and regular citizens' needs to flush their toilets or heat their homes, we're heading to the point that all Third World countries come to -- calling out the troops to ensure that the peasants pay their tithes to their absentee masters in New York and Connecticut and don't get all uppity like those Europeans.</p> <p>Now you can see why Alabamans are loading up on so many weapons. That makes sense. Now they need to understand who the real enemy is. Not the make-believe liberal bogeymen of their nightmares. Rather, Alabamans should focus their anger on the real-world billionaires who are making this country a living hell.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Read more of Mark Ames at <a href="http://exiledonline.com&quot;">eXiledonline.com</a>. He is the author of <i><a href="http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/1932360824">Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond</a></i>. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2009 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '658893'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=658893" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 23 Oct 2009 21:00:01 -0700 Mark Ames, AlterNet 658893 at https://img.alternet.org Economy Economy inequality alabama goldman sachs samson 8 Shocking Ways the Billionaires Have Schemed to Rob Us of Every Last $ https://img.alternet.org/story/143146/8_shocking_ways_the_billionaires_have_schemed_to_rob_us_of_every_last_%24 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">American billionaires keep cooking up scheme after scheme to shake down Americans and plunder the national wealth, as if the last one was too easy and boring.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://img.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p class="MsoNormal">Every day and every week we hear another shocking story about how our billionaires have cooked up an even sicker scheme to shake down Americans and plunder the national wealth, as if the last scheme was too easy and boring. They don’t even bother hiding it anymore: take the story about the “<a href="http://exiledonline.com/death-bonds-wall-streets-shocking-new-plan-to-reap-billions-off-dying-americans/">Death Bonds”</a> I wrote about last month, first reported (however blandly) in the <em>New York Times</em>: the very same Wall Street bankers who conned $23 trillion out of America’s wealth is now going to use some of that play money to place bets on when we Americans will die—and the sooner we die, the more billions in E-Z profits Wall Street will earn.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It’s as if America is some kind of despised abstraction to our ruling class: a faraway colony to plunder, a mass of humanity to use and exploit as it sees fit. In fact, there’s a pretty clear pattern developing of just how much they despise Americans and how little they value our lives and our humanity.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It’s painful to admit this, but the way our 21<sup>st</sup> century American ruling class treats the rest of us is eerily reminiscent of the great Russian novel <em>Dead Souls</em>, about the 19<sup>th</sup> century Russian ruling class’s beastly treatment of its serfs (also called “souls”), back when most Russians were essentially slaves, legal property of the ruling class. <em>Dead Souls</em> features one of the most grotesque shysters in any novel: he comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme that’s eerily similar to today’s Wall Street’s latest schemes: the shyster goes from village to village, buying up “dead souls” (or “dead serfs”) who are still on the census rolls of the local landowners. The dead serfs are of no use to their owners anymore, so the landowners are happy to make one last ruble off their dead serfs by selling ownership rights over them to the shyster. The shyster’s plan: to acquire so many “dead souls” that he can package them into valuable collateral, and take out a huge loan against his “dead souls” which will finally make him rich. Wealth spun out of nothing but human misery, so that the shyster can waste huge amounts of money impressing others from the serf-owning class.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>In other words: Dead Souls Loans. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Fast-forward to America in 2009, and now we’re the dead souls. Top American corporations are taking out “dead peasant insurance” on their workers without the workers even knowing it—and cashing in hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on their employees, even though often times they don’t even offer those same employees decent health insurance coverage to allow them to survive illnesses. To top it off, these “dead peasant insurance” payouts are tax-free for the corporation that cashes in. It was a revelation so revolting that even ABC’s News’ mannequins admitted they were <a onclick="javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/outbound/article/http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/abc-news-are-dead-peasant-life-insurance-poli');" href="http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/abc-news-are-dead-peasant-life-insurance-poli">“stunned.”</a></p> <p class="MsoNormal">In fact, as I said, they shouldn’t be stunned. It’s part of an ongoing pattern for our ruling class and their view of America and Americans. It’s time we faced up to this grim fact. Too many of them are against us and against this country, weakening America to the point where it threatens to be permanently crippled, much like how the communists deformed Russia for decades. They had their bolsheviks; we have our billionaire-bolsheviks. The effect of these two rapacious ruling elites is the same: the state and the people serve the tiny ruling class; and when we’re not serving them, we can fuck off and die. Literally. Because that serves them too.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">For practical purposes, here is a small handy list of 8 Reasons To Hate Our Billionaire Bolsheviks [or "The H8 8"]:</p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst"><span><span>1.<span> </span></span></span>According to Harvard Medical Researchers, 45,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health insurance. That’s one American dying every 12 minutes; it also means that our fucked-up health care system kills as many Americans every month as Al Qaeda managed on September 11<sup>th</sup>, with another 9,000 American dead thrown in for good measure. Doesn’t this count as corporate terrorism? Doesn’t this mean we should go to war against our murderers, to protect ourselves?</p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle"><span><span>2.<span> </span></span></span>Those hundreds of thousands of American corpses enriched a handful of American health care CEOs like William McGuire of UnitedHealth: he earned hundreds of millions in annual bonuses in the mid-2000s ($125 million in 2004, more in 2005) along with as much as $1.8 billion in stock options (some of which was clawed back by the SEC), and a $5 million annual pension guaranteed for life; at one point, <a onclick="javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/outbound/article/http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/05/21/elizabeth-edwards-1-of-every-700-went-to-pay-salary-of-unitedhealth-ceo/');" href="http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/05/21/elizabeth-edwards-1-of-every-700-went-to-pay-salary-of-unitedhealth-ceo/">$1 out of every $700 Americans paid in health care went directly to McGuire’s obscene billion-dollar payout.</a></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle"><span><span>3.<span> </span></span></span>“Dead Peasants Insurance”: Companies paid out $8 billion in premiums on millions of their employees, and expect to earn $9 billion in the next 5 years when these employees die. To make sure that the life insurance companies can pay out the winnings on our deaths, <a onclick="javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/outbound/article/http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124234565889921705.html');" href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124234565889921705.html">$22 billion in TARP money</a>–our money– was set aside this spring for insurance companies.</p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle"><span><span>4.<span> </span></span></span>Herbert Perone, spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers, <a onclick="javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/outbound/article/http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/05/05/BU20730.DTL&amp;type=printable');" href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/05/05/BU20730.DTL&amp;type=printable">told the San Francisco Chronicle</a>: “Nobody gets upset when a company insures its plant or its fleet of cars or land or any other business asset. To think that your labor force is not a business asset is extremely shortsighted.”</p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle"><span><span>5.<span> </span></span></span>The gap between wealthiest 10 percent and the rest of America is worse than at any time on record. Two-thirds of all income gains from 2002-7 went to the top 1 percent. <em>The Walton family alone is worth more than the bottom 100 million Americans combined.</em> Wal-Mart is a major player in the “dead peasants insurance” game; it’s alleged that dead peasant insurance payouts are used for executive bonuses.</p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle"><span><span>6.<span> </span></span></span>Bank of America chief Ken Lewis will earn a $125 million retirement package after soaking US taxpayers for $45 billion in bailout funds and $118 billion in guarnatees. Meanwhile, banks like BofA earned $24 billion in overdraft fees in 2008, charging some 51 million Americans an average of $470 each in highly dubious circumstances. It’s thought that <a onclick="javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/outbound/article/http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/05/as-economy-crashes-banks_n_310565.html');" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/05/as-economy-crashes-banks_n_310565.html">banks will pocket even more this year.</a></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle"><span><span>7.<span> </span></span></span>Mortgages: financial institutions get taxpayers to subsidize losses via $700 billion TARP program, $1.25 trillion mortgage-backed securities buyback program, hundreds of billions in “toxic assets” guarantees, at least $400 billion shoring up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, $30 billion for PPIP, etc.</p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast"><span><span>8.<span> </span></span></span>Mortgages: homeowners. Two headlines tell the story: “Mortgage-relief program helps relatively few troubled homeowner” [<a onclick="javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/outbound/article/http://www.sacbee.com/341/story/2171664.html');" href="http://www.sacbee.com/341/story/2171664.html">McClatchy, Sept 10</a>.] and “Firms are getting billions, but homeowners still in trouble” [<a onclick="javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/outbound/article/http://www.mcclatchydc.com/257/story/76418.html ');" href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/257/story/76418.html%20">McClatchy, Oct 4.</a>] The latter article details how even the meager funds earmarked for homeowner relief winds up getting looted by the mortgage servicers who created the problems in the first place.</p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast">And on, and on… </p> <p class="MsoNormal">It’s one of the more grotesque yet inevitable examples of just how badly the super-wealthy have warped America so that it’s become little more than a rigged game in which we the people always lose, just like Mr. Lebowski said we would.<span> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">In 1965, Ronald Reagan said in a speech: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury. From that moment on the majority…always vote[s] for the candidate promising the most benefits from the treasury with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by dictatorship.” [Quoted in David Cay Johnston’s book <em>Free Lunch</em>.]</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The great irony of course is that it wasn’t the voters who plundered the public treasury, but rather, the super-wealthy who plundered the public and subverted democracy. But this is worse than mere irony; Reagan was the billionaire’s Trojan Horse to power. They rode on his drooling senile smile into power, on the worst assumptions about the American people and how we’d use our democratic power to take their wealth; so the minute they got the reigns, they plundered us first, before we could get to them. This is what I mean by America’s billionaire class as an alien, colonial overlord class: they hate us, quite simply, and the more they plunder America, the more they both loathe us and fear us, or what we might do to them -- or should do.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">As for the dictatorship that Reagan speaks of, it’s already here, thanks in no small part to Reagan himself. But it’s not the crude, old-fashioned dictatorship, the kind with cool uniforms and parades. That wouldn’t last a week, because we’ve all been trained to look out for it and spot the crude old saber-toothed dictators. Instead, today we have a kind of highly-evolved dictatorship concealing itself as a functioning democracy. But in all the important issues, where billions or trillions are at stake, where their yachts and private jets are pitted against Americans’ lives or the national interest, you can spot the dictatorship’s horrific Predator-beast head rising from the swamp… such as when the vote on the public option was put to the Democratic supermajority-run Senate committee, and it got crushed by the same margin as if the Senate was split, or run by a Republican supermajority.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Which brings me back to <em>Dead Souls</em>: despite the title, the book is actually one of the greatest comic novels of all time, a kind of comic poem, “laughter through tears” as the author, Gogol, put it. But I’m not sure Gogol would find our 2009 version of <em>Dead Souls</em> very comical. And Hollywood would never buy it. There’s nothing redeeming, no characters an audience can possibly identify with. Our American <em>Dead Souls</em> is just too … depressing.</p> <!-- All divs have been put