Note: I hereby remove any tacit consent, given by covert or overt means, on any timestream or dimension, that I may have given to the system of domination and control to rule over these realms by controlling or placing restrictions on the flow of information over the internet through tyrannical Orwellian tactics that threaten the physical, mental or spiritual well-being, or sovereignty of myself, or any other human BEing. And so mote it be.
On the heels of the Edward Snowden revelations of widespread surveillance of American citizens by the NSA, Naomi’s speech is far more relevant today than it was in 2007. She nailed it…maybe now, more people will be willing to listen.
Talk by Naomi Wolf author of “The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot” given October 11, 2007 at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus.
Downloadable audio mp3 of this talk can be found at http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php…
Interview with Naomi Wolf discussing “The End of America” available at http://youtube.com/watch?v=aW9PulYpjGs
Below is an email from Joe Dinkin of the organization Working Families. Joe started a petition on the MoveOn website, where anyone can start their own online petition.
Last month, The New Yorker reported that public television backed out of its deal to air the documentary Citizen Koch—just because they were afraid of upsetting billionaire donor David Koch. David Koch has donated $23 million as a board member of two flagship PBS stations, WNET in New York and WGBH in Boston.
Public television was founded to support the public interest, not to cater to the private interests of wealthy donors like the Koch brothers.
Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmakers, Citizen Koch exposes the outsize role of money in American politics, from the Kochs and other major political spenders. This is exactly the kind of dialogue that public television was founded to foster, regardless of whether or not a powerful donor is happy about it.
That’s why I started a petition to Corporation for Public Broadcasting President and CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison, Public Broadcasting Service President and CEO Paula Kerger, and Independent Television Service President and CEO Sally Jo Fifer, which says:
Koch money shouldn’t influence public television programming—we want to see the film Citizen Koch aired on PBS!
This petition was created on MoveOn’s online petition site, where anyone can start their own online petitions. Working Families didn’t pay us to send this email—we never rent or sell the MoveOn.org list.
End the Lie
Sun, 29 Apr 2012 11:08 CDT
One of the prime targets for demonization by both the establishment media and law enforcement has been the so-called “sovereign citizen” movement, something which I have written about previously here at End the Lie.
This is all part of a concerted effort to turn almost everything into a sign of potential terrorist activity while breeding a culture of delusional paranoia, citizen spying and ubiquitous surveillance.
Now U.S. government officials have said that al Qaeda’s core organization cannot carry out another attack like the horrific events of September 11, 2001 and the likelihood of a chemical, biological, atomic or radiological attack over the next year are minimal.
Interestingly, this view expressed by the deputy director of U.S. National Intelligence Robert Cardillo conflicts with the ludicrous claims made recently about al Qaeda potentially planning another 9/11 in an attempt to justify an extended American military presence in Afghanistan.
Cardillo and other anonymous U.S. officials described their assessments on a conference call with journalists during which they claimed that the Arab Spring is also helping weaken the “core” al Qaeda organization.
However, al Qaeda has been quite vocal in showing support for Western-backed uprisings in Syria and Libya, which is hardly surprising when one is aware of what al Qaeda actually is and what purpose they serve, especially in the current events in the Middle East.
Mark Hosenball reports for the Associated Press that, “More worrying to U.S. counterterrorism officials and their allies abroad is the possibility of home-grown extremists, or “lone wolves,” who are radicalized over the Internet or in small cells, but who also now are being given encouragement by media outlets connected to al Qaeda and its affiliates.”
The officials would not go as far as to say that al Qaeda is on the brink of “strategic defeat,” since this would completely eradicate the primary justification for the American police state along with the Department of Homeland Security’s massive operations, the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, etc.
While discounting the planning power and resources available to the “core” al Qaeda organization, these officials did identify four loosely affiliated groups which they say still pose “threats of greater or lesser degree to U.S. interests”
They claim that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is the most dangerous group, which is hardly surprising seeing as they need to justify bombing people without knowing who they are and killing American citizens based on secret legal justifications.
They also cited al Qaeda in Iraq – which emerged thanks to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and subsequent occupation – which they claim maintains “a potentially lethal presence” in Iraq.
Furthermore, they claim al Qaeda in Iraq may be expanding operations into Syria, although they admitted that they do not think that it poses a threat to U.S. interests outside of that region.
They also brought up al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is in the North Africa region, although they said that it is mostly engaged in criminal activities like kidnapping for ransom money.
However, they did say that they were worried that these tactics could eventually become “more spectacular kidnappings intended to win publicity for militant causes.”
The officials noted that despite a short period during which Somalia’s al Shabaab enjoyed attention from “disillusioned Islamic youths in both the United States and Europe,” they are now seeing a measurable falloff in the organization’s Western support and recruiting.
However, an anonymous official in counterterrorism noted that it is “clear we’ve made progress towards defeating al Qaeda the organization,” although the ideology and other elements of the organization remain intact.
He also claimed that “a number of active networks in the United Kingdom” remain.
I see this as part of the larger push to shift the attention away from foreign threats and towards the people of the United States in order to legitimize the ludicrous spending and eradication of liberties required to maintain the American police state.
“Look Toto, we’re not in a free country anymore!” as Dorothy says shaking her head in disbelief at the police state she awakened to find herself in after returning home from Oz…
Wed, 18 Apr 2012 10:42 CDT
The out-of-control Transportation Security Administration is past patdowns at airports – now it’s checkpoints and roadblocks
Ever since 2010, when the Transportation Security Administration started requiring that travelers in American airports submit to sexually intrusive gropings based on the apparent anti-terrorism principle that “If we can’t feel your nipples, they must be a bomb”, the agency’s craven apologists have shouted down all constitutional or human rights objections with the mantra “If you don’t like it, don’t fly!”
This callous disregard for travelers’ rights merely paraphrases the words of Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano, who shares, with the president, ultimate responsibility for all TSA travesties since 2009. In November 2010, with the groping policy only a few weeks old, Napolitano dismissed complaints by saying “people [who] want to travel by some other means” have that right. (In other words: if you don’t like it, don’t fly.)
But now TSA is invading travel by other means, too. No surprise, really: as soon as she established groping in airports, Napolitano expressed her desire to expand TSA jurisdiction over all forms of mass transit. In the past year, TSA’s snakelike VIPR (Visual Intermodal Prevention and Response) teams have been slithering into more and more bus and train stations – and even running checkpoints on highways – never in response to actual threats, but apparently more in an attempt to live up to the inspirational motto displayed at the TSA’s air marshal training center since the agency’s inception: “Dominate. Intimidate. Control.”
Anyone who rode the bus in Houston, Texas during the 2-10pm shift last Friday faced random bag checks and sweeps by both drug-sniffing dogs and bomb-sniffing dogs (the latter being only canines necessary if “preventing terrorism” were the actual intent of these raids), all courtesy of a joint effort between TSA VIPR nests and three different local and county-level police departments. The new Napolitano doctrine, then: “Show us your papers, show us everything you’ve got, justify yourself or you’re not allowed to go about your everyday business.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee praised these violations of her constituents’ rights with an explanation asinine even by congressional standards:
“We’re looking to make sure that the lady I saw walking with a cane … knows that Metro cares as much about her as we do about building the light rail.”
No specific threats or reasons were cited for the raids, as the government no longer even pretends to need any. Vipers bite you just because they can. TSA spokesman Jim Fotenos confirmed this a few days before the Houston raids, when VIPR teams and local police did the same thing to travelers catching trains out of the Amtrak station in Alton, Illinois. Fotenos confirmed that “It was not in response to a specific threat,” and bragged that VIPR teams conduct “thousands” of these operations each year.
Still, apologists can pretend that’s all good, pretend constitutional and human rights somehow don’t apply to mass transit, and twist their minds into the Mobius pretzel shapes necessary to find random searches of everyday travelers compatible with any notion that America is a free country. “Don’t like the new rules for mass transit? Then drive.”
Except even that doesn’t work anymore. Earlier this month, the VIPRs came out again in Virginia and infested the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, also known as the stretch of Interstate 64 connecting the cities of Hampton and Norfolk. Spokesmen admitted again that the exercise was a “routine sweep”, not a response to any specific threat. Official news outlets admitted the checkpoint caused a delay (further exacerbated by a couple of accidents), but didn’t say for how long. Local commenters at the Travel Underground forums reported delays of 90 minutes.
I grew up in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. When I was a kid, my dad crossed the bridge-tunnel every day while commuting to work. When I was in university, I did the same thing. The old conventional wisdom said “Get to the airport at least two hours early, so TSA has time to violate your constitutional rights before boarding.” What’s the new conventional wisdom – “Leave for any destination at least 90 minutes early, so TSA can violate your rights en route”?
Airports, bus terminals, train stations, highways – what’s left? If you don’t like it, walk. And remember to be respectfully submissive to any TSA agents or police you encounter in your travels, especially now that the US supreme court has ruled mass strip-searches are acceptable for anyone arrested for even the most minor offence in America. If you’re rude to any TSA agent or cops, you risk being arrested on some vague catch-all charge like “disorderly conduct”. Even if the charges are later dropped, you’ll still undergo the ritual humiliation of having to strip, squat, spread ’em and show your various orifices to be empty.
Can I call America a police state now, without being accused of hyperbole?
Excellent read and another great find from DP!!
Submitted by Doug Casey of Casey Research
Sociopathy Is Running the US – Part Two (part One here)
I recently wrote an article that addresses the subject of sociopaths and how they insinuate themselves into society. Although the subject doesn’t speak directly to what stock you should buy or sell to increase your wealth, I think it’s critical to success in the markets. It goes a long way towards explaining what goes on in the heads of people like Bernie Madoff and therefore how you can avoid being hurt by them.
But there’s a lot more to the story. At this point, it seems as if society at large has been captured by Madoff clones. If that’s true, the consequences can’t be good. So what I want to do here is probe a little deeper into the realm of abnormal psychology and see how it relates to economics and where the world is heading.
If I’m correct in my assessment, it would imply that the prospects are dim for conventional investments – most stocks, bonds and real estate. Those things tend to do well when society is growing in prosperity. And prosperity is fostered by peace, low taxes, minimal regulation and a sound currency. It’s also fostered by a cultural atmosphere where sociopaths are precluded from positions of power and intellectual and moral ideas promoting free minds and free markets rule. Unfortunately, it seems that doesn’t describe the trend that the world at large and the US in particular are embarked upon.
In essence, we’re headed towards economic and financial bankruptcy. But that’s mostly because society has been largely intellectually and morally bankrupt for some time. I don’t believe a society can rise to real prosperity without a sound intellectual and moral foundation – that’s why the US was so uniquely prosperous for so long, because it had such a foundation. And it’s also why societies like Saudi Arabia will collapse as soon as the exogenous things that support them are pulled away. It’s why the USSR collapsed. It’s the reason why countries everywhere across time reach a peak (if they ever do), then stagnate and decline.
This isn’t a matter of academic contemplation, for the same reason that it doesn’t matter much if you’re in a first-class cabin when the ship it’s in is taking on water.
Economics and Evil
When I was a sophomore in college, I asked my father – a worldly wise man but one of few words – some cosmic question, as sophomores are famous for doing. His answer was, “It’s all a matter of economics.” Some months later I asked him another, similar question. His answer: “It’s all a matter of psychology.” They were unsatisfactory to me at the time, but those simple answers stuck in my mind. And I’ve since come to the conclusion that they comprehend most of what drives human action.
Let’s look at the “matter of economics” only briefly, because it’s covered at length elsewhere and because it’s not nearly as significant as the “matter of psychology.”
One definition of economics is: The study of who gets what, and how, in the material world. Unfortunately, it’s been distorted over the years into the study of who determines who gets what, and how, in the material world. In other words, economic power has gradually been transferred from producers to political allocators. This has had predictably bad results, including not only the bankruptcy of the US government but of large segments of US society.
But what’s happening today is much more serious than an economic bankruptcy; you can recover from financial woes by cultivating better habits. We’re talking about psychological and spiritual bankruptcy. The word psychology comes from psyche, which is Greek for soul. When you look at the word’s origin, it’s clear that psychology is about much more than mental peculiarities. It’s not just about what a person has or what he does. It’s about what he is. The real essence of a man, his soul, is revealed by his philosophy and his beliefs.
In any event, it’s rare that anyone goes bankrupt because of a single bad decision. It takes many missteps, and consistently bad decisions aren’t accidents. Consistently bad decisions are the product of a flawed moral philosophy. Moral philosophy guides you as to what is right or wrong. The prevailing moral philosophy has so degenerated that Americans think it’s OK to invade other countries that not only haven’t attacked it but can’t even credibly threaten to attack it. I’m not talking just about Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya – pitiful non-entities on the other side of the world. They were preceded by even weaker prey, closer to home, like Granada, Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Not only that, but they think coercion should be used to steal wealth from the people who produce it, and give it to those who’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve it.
It’s hard to pick an exact time America’s moral bankruptcy started; perhaps the draconian Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were the first real breach in the country’s ethical armor – but they were quickly repealed and subsequently served as an example of what not to do for many years. There were real moral problems that arose because of the Mexican War, the War between the States and the Indian Wars. There were early attempts to create a central bank, but they fortunately failed. But I believe the real change in direction came with the Spanish-American War, which resulted in the accretion of an overseas empire, particularly in the Philippines where 200,000 locals were killed. As Randolph Bourne said, “War is the health of the state.”
Then came the creation of both the Federal Reserve and the income tax in the very unlucky year of 1913, which made it possible to finance the country’s completely pointless entry into World War 1. From there, with the New Deal, World War 2, Korea, the Great Society, Vietnam and so on, the US has gradually descended into becoming a very aggressive welfare/warfare state. It now has an overt government policy of inflating the currency, which constitutes a fraud, and running up the national debt, which is a swindle because it will never be repaid.
America is not the first to start with moral failure and move on to economic failure. In all the examples history provides, economic bankruptcy and political tyranny are invariably preceded by moral bankruptcy. It’s bad enough that these things have happened. But it’s even worse that they’re celebrated and taught to students as triumphs. That guarantees that the trend will accelerate towards a real disaster. Most people accept what they’re taught in school uncritically.
The pattern is no secret to historians. Machiavelli noted in his Florentine Histories (1532): “It may be observed that provinces, among the vicissitudes to which they are accustomed, pass from order to confusion, and afterwards pass again into a state of order. The way of the world doesn’t allow things to continue on an even course; as soon as they arrive at their greatest perfection, they again start to decline. Likewise, having sunk to their utmost state of depression, unable to descend lower, they necessarily reascend. And so from good, they naturally decline to evil. Valor produces peace, and peace repose; repose, disorder; disorder, ruin. From ruin order again springs, and from order virtue, and from this glory, and good fortune.”
This isn’t the place to deconstruct Machiavelli, but he makes a couple of points that are worth pondering. Does “good … naturally decline to evil”? In politics (which is his subject) it does, because politics necessarily attracts evil people, and evil necessarily brings ruin. Then order reasserts itself, because people despise chaos. And from order virtue arises, and from that good fortune. Machiavelli is right. Virtue does bring good fortune, and evil brings ruin. I believe it would be clear to Machiavelli that in the US virtue is vanishing and evil is on the rise. And Machiavelli would predict that things aren’t going to get better at this point until they “sink to their utmost state of depression, unable to descend lower, they necessarily reascend.”
In general, he’s correct. But sometimes it takes quite a while for a society to reset. After the collapse of Rome, real civilization didn’t return to the West until the Italian Renaissance, which was when Machiavelli lived. Interestingly, culture in Italy started a rapid decline in the 1490s, and the peninsula became a backwater – a quaint theme park at best – for hundreds of years. You can argue Italy is still headed downhill today. Perhaps it simply has to do with the nature of entropy: all complex systems eventually wind down, no flame can burn forever. But that’s another subject. It would have been nice, though, to keep the flame of America burning for longer than turned out to be the case.
Moral and Intellectual Bankruptcy
One element of moral bankruptcy is intellectual bankruptcy, to wit, belief in the effectiveness of statism and collectivism. This is one reason why I counsel kids who are thinking of going to college (unless it’s to acquire very specific knowledge in science, engineering, medicine or the like) to do something more intelligent with their time and money. The higher education system is totally controlled and populated by morally and intellectually bankrupt instructors who are believers in socialism.
It’s said Obama is a socialist. I don’t doubt he’s sympathetic to socialism but, to be true to the meanings of words, he’s a fascist.
Let’s define these terms and two others with a little help from Karl Marx. His recommended solutions are part of the world’s problems, but his analysis of conditions was often quite astute. As Marx pointed out, political systems are all about the ownership and control of goods, whether consumer goods (houses, cars, clothes, toothbrushes) or capital goods (farms, factories and other means of production). Although he didn’t break it down this way, his analysis gives us four possible economic systems – communism, socialism, fascism and capitalism.
A communist advocates state ownership and control of all the means of production and all consumer goods. That’s a practical impossibility, of course, even in the most primitive aboriginal bands. The idea is even more absurd and preposterous for an industrial society. But that doesn’t keep professors and politicians from pretending that it’s a good idea, even if just in theory.
A socialist advocates state ownership of society’s means of production but accepts private ownership (with state control) of consumer goods. While it’s a big improvement over communism, socialism is also completely impractical and always either collapses or evolves into fascism. North Korea and (now to a lesser degree) Cuba are the world’s only socialist states.
A fascist advocates nominal private ownership of both the means of production and consumer goods – but with strong state control over both. In other words, you can own mines, farms, and factories – but the state reserves the right to tax, regulate or even expropriate them. Fascism has nothing to do with jackboots and black uniforms; you can have those in communist and socialist states as well. It has to do with a corporate state and a revolving door between business and government, with each protecting and enriching the other. Fascism can be maintained for a long time but necessarily entails all the problems we now face. Almost all the world’s states are fascist today; they differ only in degree and detail.
A capitalist advocates the private ownership of everything. An extreme capitalist may be an anarchist, who believes that anything people need or want should be, and would be, provided by entrepreneurs at a profit.
No country provides a perfect example of any of these four arrangements. But every government promotes one or the other as a theoretical ideal. In most places, certainly including the US, the “mixed economy” is put forward as a good thing; the “mixed economy” is a polite way of describing fascism. Nobody wants to call fascism by its name today because of its strong association with Hitler’s “National Socialists.” In any event, look and analyze closely before you use these words and attach any of the four tags to any country.
In that light, it’s funny how the Chinese are still referred to as communists, even though communism was tried only briefly, under Mao. In fact, up to the mid-’80s, China was a socialist state. Now it’s a fascist state. China’s Communist Party? It’s just a scam enabling its members to live high off the hog.
Sweden is usually referred to as socialist, but it’s always been a fascist country. All of its means of production – businesses, factories, farms, mines and so forth – have always been privately owned but heavily taxed and regulated. The presence of lots of “free” welfare benefits is incidental. People often conflate a welfare state with socialism, but they’re two different things. Socialist states necessarily become too poor to provide any welfare. Fascist states can better afford it and usually offer some in order to help justify the government’s costly and annoying depredations.
There is no truly capitalist state in the world today; perhaps Hong Kong comes closest (although not very close).The early US came quite close in some regards. In fact, the West as a whole was quite free in the century from the fall of Napoleon in 1815 to the start of World War 1 in 1914. Almost everywhere taxes were low and regulations few; there was no inflation because gold was currency everywhere; there were almost no serious wars and passports hardly existed, which enabled most anyone to travel almost anywhere without permission. It’s no accident that, in percentage terms, the 19th century saw far greater and wider advances in prosperity than any time before or since. Capitalism is both natural and ideal – but, oddly, it doesn’t exist anywhere. Why not? I’ll explore that shortly.
One sign of intellectual bankruptcy in the US is the absence of serious discussion about capitalism (except in small, specialized forums). Nearly all political debate is about how to fine-tune a fascist system to best suit those who benefit from it – or who think they do. Almost everyone in the public eye is a political statist and an economic collectivist. Those who start attacking the heart of the matter, like Andrew Napolitano or even Pat Buchanan, are quickly evicted from their bully pulpits.
In reality, there’s little philosophical difference between the Republicrats and the Demopublicans; they’re really just two wings of the same party. The left wing of the party claims to believe in social freedom (but doesn’t) and overtly disbelieves in economic freedom. The right wing says it believes in economic freedom (but doesn’t) and overtly disbelieves in social freedom. The right wing uses more aggressive rhetoric to build the warfare state, and the left wing talks more about the welfare state. But the net difference between them is minuscule. That’s because they share the same corrupt intellectual and moral views.
What made America unique was its foundation in a philosophy of freedom. That word, however, has become so corrupted that the younger Bush was able to use it two dozen times in some of his early speeches without being laughed off the stage or targeted with shoes and rotten vegetables. Perversely but predictably, Bush is today presented in the mainstream media as a free-marketeer, in order to pin blame for the current depression on the free market. This is as much of a hoax as calling Hoover a supporter of the free market. One is forced to acknowledge a bit of respect for Obama’s intellectual honesty, in that he almost never speaks of “freedom” or “liberty.”
But pointing out the sad state of the world today serves little purpose. It’s rare that an intellectual argument changes anyone’s mind. Opinions are mostly a matter of psychology. But it’s almost impossible to change someone’s psychology and the attitude with which he views the world, simply by presenting facts and arguments. A person’s beliefs have much more to do with his character and spiritual essence than anything else.
You’ll hear some of the candidates for the upcoming elections talk about “American exceptionalism.” The phrase makes me wince because it’s so anachronistic. In the first place, America was only incidentally a place, a piece of geography. In essence, America was an idea, and an excellent one, that was unique in world history. But now America has morphed into the US, which is essentially no different than the other 200 nation-states that cover the face of the planet like a skin disease.
It’s funny, actually, to see how quickly and profoundly things have changed in the US. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, kids used to say, when one of us did something the others didn’t approve of, “Hey, it’s a free country.” I’ll bet you haven’t heard that expression for many years. Back in the ’70s, there used to be a joke: “America will never have concentration camps. We’ll call them something else.” Guantanamo, and the long rumored FEMA detention centers, are proof that it wasn’t a joke after all.
It’s all a matter of mass psychology, which is to say a moral acceptance of collectivism and statism. These systems actually aren’t serious intellectual proposals, despite being doctrine at almost every university in the Western world. They’re psychological or spiritual disorders on a grand scale.
It’s important to gain an intellectual understanding of why freedom is good and collectivism is bad, why freedom works and government doesn’t. It’s important – but it doesn’t strike at the root of the problem. The root of the problem is psychological, not intellectual. Do you think for a moment that if you could make Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or any of the other sociopaths who control the state sit down and listen to intellectual arguments, it would change their attitudes? The chances of that are Slim and None. And Slim’s anorexic.
Why am I so certain of that? It’s not because these people have low IQs and can’t understand the arguments. It’s because most of the people at high levels of government are sociopaths. They’re susceptible to reasoned argument against a police state to about the same degree that a cat can be convinced he shouldn’t torment a mouse before killing it. People like Obama, Hillary or Cheney – which is to say most people with real power in Washington and every other government – do what they do because it’s their nature. They’re as cold, unemotional and predatory as reptiles, even though they look like people.
You may think I’m kidding or exaggerating for effect. I’m not. It’s been said that power corrupts, and that’s true. But it’s more to the point to say that the corrupt seek power. A good case can be made that anyone who wants to be in a position of power should be precluded from it simply because he wants it. As a purely practical matter, the US would be far better off – assuming a Congress and a Senate are even needed – if their 525 members were randomly selected from a list of taxpayers. But that’s impossible in today’s poisonous environment because it would leave over half the population – those who only receive government largess and don’t pay any income taxes – ineligible. This last fact is a further assurance that the situation in the US is now beyond the point of no return.
There are lots of ways to divide people into two classes: rich/poor, male/female, smart/dumb, etc. But from the perspective of political morality, I’d say the most useful dichotomy may be people who want to control the material world vs. those who want to control other people. The former are scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs; the latter are politicians, bureaucrats and assorted busybodies. Guess which group inevitably – necessarily – gravitate toward government? And I might also add, toward big corporations and the media. Big corporations are political arenas where the prize is economic power, and they’re heavily populated by backslappers and backstabbers. The media specialize in a different type of power, manipulating opinion; one way they do that is by promoting an atmosphere of bad news, threats and general paranoia for which they imply government action is needed. Government, mega-corps and media – they are the triumvirate ruling today’s world.
You may be thinking: Sure, I can see that Obama or Hillary or Cheney may be evil. But how about Bush or Vice President Biden or Prime Minister Cameron of the UK? It’s sometimes hard to tell whether one is dealing with a knave or a fool. The fool does destructive things that may make him seem knavish. And the knave can do stupid things that make him seem like a fool. Isn’t it a mistake to accuse someone of malevolence when Occam’s Razor might indicate stupidity as a more likely answer? They seem more like fools than knaves. Pity the poor fools.
Stupidity certainly can account for many of the world’s problems. As Einstein said, after hydrogen, stupidity is the most common thing in the universe. Unfortunately, the word “stupidity” is thrown about too carelessly, usually as a pejorative, and then often by stupid people. Let’s define the word. It’s important to be precise in the use of words, because if you’re not, then how can you possibly say you know what you’re talking about? A failure to define words properly invites sloppy thinking.
Most of the time people use “stupidity” to mean low intelligence. That’s accurate, but it’s a synonym, not an explanation. So it’s not terribly helpful, because it doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know. Just look at how stupid the average person is (they’re thick underfoot on Jay Leno’s many “Jay Walking” segments) and then figure that, by definition, half of the electorate are lower than average.
It’s helpful to use an example, and since we’re talking about politics, let’s pick a well-known political figure. George W. Bush was president recently enough that everyone can still remember him clearly. I’ve always said that the Baby Bush was stupid. Technically speaking, I believe he’s actually a borderline moron. You may or may not know that a moron, an imbecile and an idiot are not at all the same thing – even though in common usage, the words are more or less interchangeable. In fact, these terms have clinical definitions.
Briefly, an idiot is so dim that he may have to be institutionalized. An imbecile functions at a higher level; he can get by in normal life, given some assistance. A moron does even better. He can conduct himself quite well in day-to-day society and even be liked and respected – a little bit like the character Chauncey Gardiner (who, as it turned out, was being groomed to become the president) in Peter Sellers’ movie Being There.
A moron can carry on a conversation about the weather, the state of the roads, sports, TV sitcoms or even, with a bit of coaching – as Bush proved – the economy or a war. Bush seemed more or less normal, even though I suspect he only has an IQ of around 90. I’m not saying that just to be offensive to Bush fans. I believe I can back up that assertion, even if Bush could actually score above 100 on a standard test, by showing you some more practical definitions of stupidity.
Let me give you two of them. One is: an unwitting tendency to self-destruction. Another is: an inability to correlate cause and effect and thereby anticipate the consequences of an act. I would suggest to you that almost everything Bush has done, it seems his entire life, but absolutely while he was the president, would fit those definitions of stupidity precisely.
A moron can see the immediate and direct consequences of actions, even though the indirect and delayed consequences escape his understanding. At least to a cynic, that would seem to indicate that not only Bush but the average American voter is likely not just a moron but an imbecile. Such a deficit of intelligence almost guarantees that we’ll see controls of all types – absolutely including foreign exchange controls – imposed as the Greater Depression unfolds. In fact, when the next 9/11-style incident, real or imagined, occurs, they’re going to lock the US down like one of their numerous new federal prisons. It’s going to be, as I’ve gotten in the habit of saying, worse than even I think it’s going to be.
But stupidity is clearly only a partial explanation of Bush’s character, just as it was only a partial explanation of Hitler’s. Please don’t misapprehend me on this. Bush wasn’t in the same class as Hitler. Hitler was a criminal genius. But criminals, even so-called criminal geniuses, are basically stupid, according to our definitions – they show an unwitting tendency toward self-destruction. How stupid was it of Hitler to attack Russia, especially while he still had a front open with Britain? How stupid was it to declare war against the US shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor? How stupid was it to murder six million innocents in concentration camps? How stupid was it to throw the Wehrmacht’s Sixth Army into Stalingrad? It’s a long list.
Stalin provides another example. How stupid was Stalin to murder several million of the most productive farmers when Russians already lacked enough to eat? How stupid was it to liquidate half of the Red Army’s most experienced officers and higher NCOs just before WW2? Or Roosevelt. How stupid was it of him to pour milk into the gutter and slaughter livestock in order to drive up prices while millions were hungry? How stupid was it to burden the US, in the middle of the last depression, with huge taxes and a score of new regulatory agencies?
A catalog of stupidities of these and most other famous political leaders fills libraries. As Gibbon said, history is little more than a chronicle of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.
There are different types of intelligence – emotional, athletic, mathematical and literary intelligence, for instance. A person can be a genius in one and an idiot in the others. The same is true of stupidity; it comes in flavors. I think a case can be made that liberty cultivates intelligence, because it rewards seeing the distant and indirect consequences of actions.
Conversely, statism and collectivism, by restricting liberty, tend to reward stupidity. Remember that political leaders are oriented toward controlling other people; they’re clever about it, but they’re basically stupid about the rest of reality. Nonetheless, their animal shrewdness is enough for them to gain and keep power over others. The immediate and direct consequences of that political power are gratifying for those who have it; the indirect and delayed consequences, however, are disastrous for everyone.
But wait. It sounds like stupidity is related to evil. Which it is. Stupidity is a signpost of evil. It’s why it often takes a while, when things are going badly, to determine whether you’re dealing with a knave or just a fool.
In that regard, Robert S. McNamara offers something of a counterpoint to Bush. When you look at the disasters he caused throughout his life – almost destroying Ford, then almost destroying the US with the Vietnam war, then doing immense damage to the world at large with the World Bank – one might say he was stupid. In fact, he had an extremely high IQ. McNamara underlines the often fine distinction between stupidity and evil. He was clearly a sociopath, but he’s held in high regard among the ruling class. Henry Kissinger is a similar case.
I would like to suggest that what really distinguishes political elites from normal people is not just a predilection for stupidity but a real capacity for evil. Evil might best be defined as the intentional and usually gratuitous commission of acts that are cruel or unjust. A person who commits many evil acts is a sociopath. The sociopaths who are naturally drawn to government eventually come to dominate it. They’re very dangerous people. They reset the social mores of the country they control. After a certain point, a critical mass is reached, and it’s GAME OVER. I suspect we’re approaching that point.
Great interview, well worth your time! Here we have two leading researchers in the whistleblower arena who BOTH have much to reveal about what’s going on behind the scenes. The audio portion in the first half was a bit sketchy on my end, hopefully it was just a problem with the local internet connection here. Regardless, it’s important info on the crackdown on whistleblowers and especially the recent targeting of the Sovereignty movement by certain alphabet agencies that are aiming to identify freedom-truth seekers as terrorists. Not a good sign considering recent legislation like the NDAA and other bills effectively designed to neuter the First Amendment. This editor recently heard a CBS news break on the radio identifying the FBI as seeking to label people who identified with the Sovereignty movement as terrorists, so the public campaign has already begun. Kerry and Mel described how the current political climate has numerous parallels to events in Nazi Germany before WW II. They’re eerily similar, especially in regards to mind control where Mel also references the work of Dr Rauni Kilde, the brilliant investigative author featured in the Anne Hess interview below this one. FYI Dr. Kilde (one of my personal favorites) is the former Chief Medical Officer for Lapland ~ northern region of Finland ~ where she was exposed to the corrupted agenda in place amongst the global ruling elite. Talk about a wise old soul, she should be at the top of everyone’s list who’s interested in mind control, the paranormal, life after death, the Illuminati agenda, implants etc.
Kerry and Mel discuss a wide range of subjects including Phil Schneider, reports of U.S. military using sonar against an advanced amphibian/human-hybrid civilization undersea (IMO likely a peaceful one), the attacks on Project Camelot, depopulation agenda tied to 2012 and much more!! Don’t miss out, click on the link below for the archived show….
MEL FABREGAS RADIO TALK SHOW HOST EXTRAORDINAIRE FROM VERITAS RADIO
Average citizens in other countries are extremely upset that the US feels within it’s right to forcibly arrest and detain any one we please in their own country, while in their own homes minding their own business. Countless innocent citizens have been arrested, tortured and even murdered under bogus suspicion. The indifference most Americans show on this issue is not only staggering, its very disturbing. Americans don’t even realize in many countries we’re seen as the terrorists, not defenders of democracy or liberty.
By Jake Olzen
The irony of it all is way more telling than the State of the Union address that we will hear in a few weeks. A constitutional lawyer who was freely elected president signs into law an act that betrays the very principles that the nation he represents was founded on. While the more cautious of us might shy away from the word fascism to describe a nation’s military having the right to detain citizens without trial, it is certainly not hyperbole. There has already been an onslaught of criticism regarding the controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Congress legislated and President Obama signed into law on January 1, 2012.
Historically, the NDAA was a spending bill that set the annual budget for the US military. Recently, the guaranteed passage of the NDAA has been used by legislators—in spite of vehement rhetorical opposition by progressive and GOP legislators, the bill still passed, unsurprisingly, with overwhelming support (86-13 with one abstaining in the Senate; 322-96 with eleven abstaining in the House)—to craft the policies and politics of the war on terror.
The same day President Obama signed the NDAA, activists with Witness Against Torture (WAT) began preparing for a January 3, 2012 trial to defend themselves against charges stemming from a June 2011 protest when they interrupted House of Representative deliberations on a Defense Appropriations Bill—a precursor to the final NDAA.
The reason for WAT’s protest was not the provision that allows the president to indefinitely detain anyone, anywhere, which was not included in the early drafts of the 2012 military spending bill. Rather WAT was protesting the provisions in the bill—which did make it into the NDAA—that establish the prison in Guantanamo Bay as a permanent fixture in U.S. foreign policy and seriously question America’s commitment to human and civil rights. Journalist Andy Worthington describes the provisions that make it near impossible to transfer detainees for trial in civilian courts or release them to foreign countries.
The uproar regarding the NDAA’s potential treatment of U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants,” without rights to counsel or trial, in the war on terror is simply the realization of a misguided, immoral, and ineffective domestic and foreign response to terrorism. The chickens are coming home to roost. The American legacy of the 2000s is one of torture, illegal domestic spying, the flouting of international law, and unconscionable detention practices. Meanwhile, nonviolent alternatives for effectively dealing with terrorists—such as a long-stalled potential rehabilitation center for Guantanamo detainees or peer-group centers that challenge and shift the narratives of Islamist terrorism (such as Abdul Haqq Baker and the STREET center that WNV favorite Tina Rosenberg has reported on)—are not given much official consideration.
Instead, the net of repression continues to grow as it extends across the planet and all its peoples. The U.S. and its people have not been troubled much by the men, women, and even children who languish in its military prisons—secret or otherwise—in Cuba, Bagram, Afghanistan, Bucharest, Romania and countless other global locations. As Witness Against Torture activists, whom I am joining, begin an 11-day Fast for Justice on behalf of all those indefinitely detained, will ordinary Americans recognize the global assault on freedom that the Bush and Obama administrations have waged for over a decade?
As Gitmo proves, the policy and practice of indefinite detention is not new. It’s only the latest in a long, ugly succession of unjust detentions ranging fromAmerican Indian boarding schools to Japanese internment camps to slave plantations and Abu Ghraib. Even if Americans are aghast at the NDAA’s contents that quite clearly contradict the constitutional right of habeas corpuswe hold so dear, it is foolish to think this is just a naïve lapse of judgment by the keepers of our best interests. The cat was let out of the bag a long time ago. Recall the famous words of Martin Niemöller, the anti-Nazi pastor and pacifist:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
We have failed to speak out for prisoners detained the world over. President Obama enters the final year of his first term, and his landmark executive order to close Guantanamo has been reduced to little more than a prank played on hopeful supporters; 171 men remain imprisoned—more than 60 of whom were cleared for release years ago by President Bush. It is not too late to speak out for them—or ourselves, for that matter—but the sun is setting and the dark night of indefinite detention threatens to rise on friend and foe alike. Join us on January 11.
This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/speak-out-rising-threat-indefinite-detention-1325779961. All rights are reserved.
Shameful expose` on the corruption, blatant denial and deliberate cover-up on the part of nuclear industry on the dangerous effects from low doses of radiation. The world has waited 25 years for the results to come back on the health effects from the Chernobyl disaster, now that it’s beginning to show very alarming consequences in children’s health the results are ignored.
When you understand the extent globally due to radioactive contamination from Chernobyl, Fukushima, atmospheric atomic testing, the irresponsible, illegal dumping of radioactive waste by products from countless nuclear power plants and now all the depleted uranium entering the atmosphere and environment from the masters of the Universe implementing deadly policy making for the military industrial complex – we have a serious problem.
Nuclear Controversies by Vladimir Tchertkoff; Released in 2003, 51 minutes
- Intro – Children’s perspective
- 2:30 – Agreement between IAEA and WHO – WHO cannot research health effects of radiation or effects of nuclear accidents if IAEA does not agree
- 7:00 – Former head of WHO admits they answer to IAEA
- 14:00 – Chernobyl had no effect -UN
- 15:45 – Scientist refutes UN
- 27:30 – 200km from Chernobyl, 10,000 becquerels measured inside child
- 30:20 – According to Professor Yury Bandazhevsky (former director of the Medical Institute in Gomel), Over 50 Bq/kg of body weight lead to irreversible lesions in vital organs
- 30:50 – *MUST SEE* Refutes internal radiation! –Norman Gentner, Secretary of UN UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation), ~2001 (See Gentner speak at 13:55 — No increase in leukemia, even among liquidators)
- 34:15 – *MUST SEE* Internal or external it makes no difference!
- 45:20 – Internal lesions
- 49:25 – Now only 20 out of 100 considered healthy, before it was 80 out of 100
- Keep your eye out for Chris Busby at 35:30 and 38:40
Link to VIDEO
Posted By admin On December 7, 2011 @ 5:24 am In Featured Stories,Tile | 256 Comments
Kurt Nimmo and Alex Jones
December 7, 2011
Infowars.com has received a document originating from Halliburton subsidiary KBR that provides details on a push to outfit FEMA and U.S. Army camps around the United States. Entitled “Project Overview and Anticipated Project Requirements,”  the document describes services KBR is looking to farm out to subcontractors. The document was passed on to us by a state government employee who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
Services up for bid include catering, temporary fencing and barricades, laundry and medical services, power generation, refuse collection, and other services required for temporary “emergency environment” camps located in five regions of the United States.
Internment Camp Services Bid Arrives After NDAA
KBR’s call for FEMA camp service bids arrives soon after the Senate overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act  (NDAA) which permits the military to detain and interrogate supposed domestic terror suspects in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Posse Comitatus.
Section 1031 of the NDAA bill declares the whole of the United States as a “battlefield” and allows American citizens to be arrested on U.S. soil and incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.
A number of civil liberties groups have come out in strong opposition to the legislation, most notably the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil and human rights organization.
In a letter addressed to Congress , S. Floyd Mori, the national director of JACL, said the NDAA is the first time that Congress has scaled back on the protections provided by the Non-Detention Act of 1971 . Mori said the legislation, if enacted and put into use, would be reminiscent of the unconstitutional indefinite detention of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Police State 4: The Rise of FEMA.
KBR Instrumental in Establishing Camps in 2006
In 2006, KBR was awarded a contingency contract from the Department of Homeland Security, allegedly to support its Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities in the event of an emergency, Market Watch  reported.
The contract was effective immediately and provided for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to expand existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs, KBR said. The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster, the company explained.
The 45 regions indicated in the KBR document.
Army Releases Civilian Inmate Labor Program Document
Soon after KBR’s announcement, a little-known Army document surfaced. Entitled the “Civilian Inmate Labor Program,”  the unclassified document describes in detail Army Regulation 210-35. The regulation, first drafted in 1997, underwent a “rapid act revision” in January 2005 and now provides a policy for the creation of labor programs and prison camps on Army installations.
National Emergency Centers Act
In 2009, the National Emergency Centers Act or HR 645  was introduced in Congress. It mandates the establishment of “national emergency centers” to be located on military installations for the purpose of providing “temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster,” according to the bill.
In addition to emergencies, the legislation is designed to “meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security,” an open ended mandate which many fear could mean the forced detention of American citizens in the event of widespread rioting after a national emergency or total economic collapse, as Paul Joseph Watson  noted in January of 2009.
Clergy response teams.
Also in 2009, the Army National Guard began posting advertisements calling for Internment/Resettlement Specialists , a fact noted by Infowars.com, Prison Planet.com and other alternative media outlets but ignored by the establishment media.
Precursor: Rex 84 Mass Detention Operation
Rex 84 , short for Readiness Exercise 1984, was established under the pretext of a “mass exodus” of illegal aliens crossing the Mexican/US border, the same pretense used in the language of the KBR request for services.
During the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987, however, it was revealed that the program was a secretive “scenario and drill” developed by the federal government to suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, assign military commanders to take over state and local governments, and detain large numbers of American citizens determined by the government to be “national security threats.”
Rex 84 was devised by Col. Oliver North, who was with the NSC and appointed liaison to FEMA. John Brinkerhoff, the deputy director of “national preparedness” programs for FEMA, and North designed the plan on a 1970 report written by FEMA chief Louis Giuffrida, at the Army War College, which proposed the detention of up to 21 million “American Negroes” in the event of a black militant uprising in the United States.
DHS Coordinating Occupy Arrests
Following a crackdown by police on Occupy Wall Street protesters around the nation, Oakland, California, mayor Jean Quan  mentioned during an interview with the BBC that she was on a conference call with leaders of 18 US cities shortly before a wave of raids broke up Occupy Wall Street encampments across the country. It was later discovered that the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal police agencies had coordinated the often violent response to the protests .
New York Rep. Peter King , who heads up the House Homeland Security Subcommittee, signaled a sense of urgency when he said the federal government has “to be careful not to allow this movement to get any legitimacy. I’m taking this seriously in that I’m old enough to remember what happened in the 1960′s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy. We can’t allow that to happen.”
The federal government responded similarly in the 1960s and 70s when the FBI organized and unleashed its unconstitutional secret police under the covert banner of COINTELPRO.
In addition to the DHS characterizing Americans supporting states’ rights and the Constitution as terrorists, the Defense Department’s Antiterrorism and Force Protection Annual Refresher Training Course in 2009 advised its personnel that political protest amounts to “low-level terrorism.” 
Elements of the Police State Coming Together
The KBR document is more evidence that the federal government has established internment camps and plans to fill them with dissidents and anti-government activists that have been demonized consistently by the establishment media.
The NDAA was crafted precisely to provide the legal mechanism for tasking the military to round up activists it conflates with al-Qaeda terrorists. The plan was initially envisioned by Rex 84 and in particular Operation Garden Plot , an operational plan to use the Army, USAF, Navy, and Marine Corp. in direct support of civil disturbance control operations. It has since added numerous elements under the rubric of Continuity of Government, the overall war on terror, civil disturbance and emergency response.
The government has patiently put into place the crucial elements of its police state grid and overarching plan for the internment of political enemies.
We are quite literally one terror event away from the plan going live. As the DHS and the establishment media keep telling us, the next terror event will be on American soil and not the work of al-Qaeda but domestic patriot political groups. The FBI has specialized in creating domestic terrorists – or rather patsies – and shifting the blame over to their political enemies.
Article printed from Prison Planet.com: http://www.prisonplanet.com
URLs in this post:
 “Project Overview and Anticipated Project Requirements,”: http://static.infowars.com/2011/12/i/general/kbr-doc.pdf
 Senate overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/12/05/the-national-defense-authorization-act-is-the-greatest-threat-to-civil-liberties-americans-face/
 letter addressed to Congress: http://www.aclu.org/files/pdfs/safefree/senator_letter_re_detention_9-19-11.pdf
 Non-Detention Act of 1971: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Detention_Act
 “Civilian Inmate Labor Program,”: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCAQFjAA&url=http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r210_35.pdf&ei=9pTeTsaBL66ksQKL8KzgBg&usg=AFQjCNHB5ODc2cPm5lgYqdZamUPyDwsbSg&sig2=m_zmxZgQwWw39X2Ww5O2xQ
 National Emergency Centers Act or HR 645: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-645
 Paul Joseph Watson: http://www.prisonplanet.com/new-legislation-authorizes-fema-camps-in-us.html
 Internment/Resettlement Specialists: http://www.infowars.com/army-national-guard-advertises-for-internment-specialists/
 had coordinated the often violent response to the protests: http://www.examiner.com/top-news-in-minneapolis/were-occupy-crackdowns-aided-by-federal-law-enforcement-agencies
 political protest amounts to “low-level terrorism.”: http://www.prisonplanet.com/protesters-march-against-bill-that-could-designate-them-terrorists.html
 Operation Garden Plot: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDcQFjAD&url=http://www.uscg.mil/directives/cim/3000-3999/CIM_3010_14.pdf&ei=iKDeTveVKK_KsQLE8b3fBg&usg=AFQjCNGpPPCcWLk2GDbUq5NuByKI2ge4UA&sig2=68f_4BZMoh03XhqoFHrAcQ
This is how right-wing conservatives plan to finalize the destruction of America, turning it into a third world nation and police state ruled under fascist, authoritarian control.
David H. Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who runs Koch Industries, at the Lincoln Center in New York, in this July 9, 2008 file photo. (Photo: Robert Caplin / The New York Times)
On February 25, 2011, Florida State Representative Chris Dorworth (R-Lake Mary) introduced HB 1021. The bill sought to curtail the political power of unions by prohibiting public employers from deducting any amount from an employee’s pay for use by an employee organization (i.e., union dues) or for any political activity (i.e., the portion of union dues used for lobbying or for supporting candidates for office).
Furthermore, HB 1021 stated that, should a union seek to use any portion of dues independently collected from members for political activity, the union must obtain annual written authorization from each member.
In effect, this bill defunds public-sector unions—like AFSCME, SEIU, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association—by making the collection of member dues an onerous, costly task. With public-sector unions denatured, they would no longer be able to stand in the way of radical free marketeers who plan to profit from the privatization of public services.
Given the similarities between HB 1021 and a rash of like-minded bills in states across the country, including Wisconsin, on March 30 a public records request was sent to Dorworth’s office seeking copies of all documents pertaining to the writing of HB 1021, including copies of any pieces of model legislation the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) may have provided.
Within an hour of submitting this request, Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon’s (R-Winter Park) Communications Director Katherine Betta responded: “We received a note from Representative Dorworth’s office regarding your request for records relating to the American Legislative Exchange Council and HB 1021. Please note that Mr. Dorworth’s legislative offices did not receive any materials from ALEC relating to this bill or any ‘model legislation’ from other states.”
But two weeks later Dorworth’s office delivered 87 pages of documents, mostly bill drafts and emails, detailing the evolution of what was to become HB 1021. Buried at the bottom of the stack was an 11-page bundle of neatly typed material, labeled “Paycheck Protection,” which consisted of three pieces of model legislation, with the words “Copyright, ALEC” at the end of each.
Dorworth legislative assistant Carolyn Johnson claims that, although Dorworth is an ALEC member, neither she nor her boss have any idea how the ALEC model legislation found its way into Dorworth’s office. Dorworth could not be reached for comment.
Enter the Koch Brothers
Nov. 2, 2010 saw a radical cohort of Republicans swept into office in states across the country.
When the legislative sessions began in January, the American news-consuming public was shocked by the tenacity of this new breed of Grand Old Partier as it set to the task of breaking public employee unions, dismantling state government and privatizing civic services.
While battles still rage in the nation’s legislatures and statehouses, mainstream media attention peaked in February and March with the culmination of the fight over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill AB 11, which sought to curtail the collective bargaining rights of government employees and thus disempower Wisconsin’s public sector unions.
When on February 23 the Buffalo Beast published recordings and transcripts of a prank call to Walker from a Beast reporter posing as billionaire GOP donor David Koch, it became apparent how intimately involved brothers David and Charles Koch were in Walker’s efforts to break public sector unions.
Subsequently, bloggers and editorialists began batting around possible scenarios involving myriad right-wing public policy foundations funded by the Koch brothers and proceeds of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries (and other Koch-controlled corporations). During such speculation, one name arose as the favorite villain behind the multitude of bills aimed squarely at public employee unions. That name was ALEC (see sidebar detailing the organization’s Koch connections).
An exhaustive analysis of thousands of pages of documents obtained through public records requests from six states, as well as tax filings, lobby reports, legislative drafts and court records, reveal that these suddenly popular anti-public employee bills, while taking different forms from state to state, were indeed disseminated as “model legislation” by ALEC.
Not coincidentally, bills similar to those in Florida and Wisconsin have been introduced in Arizona, California, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Vermont.
The purported goal of this nationwide movement has been to reduce the budgetary burden posed by public employee salaries by limiting the right of public employees to collectively bargain for pay and other benefits. These restrictions, along with “paycheck protection” laws, curtail the political power of public employee unions by cutting off funds for political campaign and lobbying expenditures. These measures would effectively thwart attempts by public employee unions to resist privatization of government functions and to support candidates opposing elected officials who vote for corporate giveaways of public resources.
‘Publicopoly’ in play
ALEC contends that government agencies have an unfair monopoly on public goods and services. To change that situation, it has created a policy initiative to counter what it calls “Publicopoly.” ALEC’s stated aim is to provide “more effective, efficient government” via privatization—that is, the shifting of government functions to the private sector. ALEC lists its initiatives on its website (alec.org/publicopoly).
Though the specifics are secret and “restricted to members,” ALEC openly advocates privatizing public education, transportation and the regulation of public health, consumer safety and environmental quality including bringing in corporations to administer:
• Foster care, adoption services and child support payment processing.
• School support services such as cafeteria meals, custodial staff and transportation.
• Highway systems, with toll roads presented as a shining example.
• Surveiling and detaining convicted criminals.
• Ensuring the quality of wastewater treatment, drinking water, and solid waste services and facilities. (After all, when someone mentions a safe and secure public water supply, the voter’s next immediate thought is: “Only if it’s cost-effective!”)
To accomplish these initiatives, ALEC contends that “state governments can take an active role in determining which products and services should be privatized.” ALEC advocates three reforms: creating a “Private Enterprise Advisory Committee” to review if government agencies unfairly compete with the private sector; creating a special council that would contract with private vendors if they can “reduce the cost of government”; and creating legislation that would require government agencies to demonstrate “compelling public interest” in order to continue as public agencies. (Who then oversees these committees to ensure the private sector doesn’t unfairly profit by monopolizing public goods and services? One can only assume it is the same “Private Enterprise Advisory Committee.”)
ALEC nuts and bolts
ALEC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that in recent years has reported about $6.5 million in annual revenue. ALEC’s members include corporations, trade associations, think tanks and nearly a third (about 2,000) of the nation’s state legislators (virtually all Republican). According to the group’s promotional material, ALEC’s mission is to “advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.”
ALEC currently claims more than 250 corporations and special interest groups as private sector members. While the organization refuses to make a complete list of these private members available to the public, some known members include Exxon Mobil, the Corrections Corporation of America, AT&T, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Verizon, Wal-Mart, Phillip Morris International and Koch Industries, along with a host of right-wing think tanks and foundations.
ALEC is composed of nine task forces—(1) Public Safety and Elections, (2) Civil Justice, (3) Education, (4) Energy, Environment and Agriculture, (5) Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development, (6) Telecommunications and Information Technology, (7) Health and Human Services, (8) Tax and Fiscal Policy and (9) International Relations—each comprised of “Public Sector” members (legislators) and “Private Sector” members (corporations and interest groups).
Each of these task forces, which serve as the core of ALEC’s operations, generate model legislation that is then passed on to member lawmakers for introduction in their home assemblies. According to ALEC promotional material, each year member lawmakers introduce an average of 1,000 of these pieces of legislation nationwide, 17 percent of which are enacted. For 2009, ALEC claimed a total of 826 pieces of introduced legislation nationwide, 115 of which were passed into law—slightly below the average at 14 percent. ALEC does not offer its model legislation for public inspection.
ALEC refused to comment on any aspect of the material covered here.
The three pieces of model legislation contained in the ALEC “Paycheck Protection” bundle (archived at dbapress.com here) provided by Rep. Dorworth’s office were titled “Employee Rights Reform Act,” “Labor Organization Deductions Act” and “Political Funding Reform Act.”
Employee Rights Reform Act (ERRA): This bill establishes limitations on fees that may be charged to nonunion public employees who are part of a collective bargaining unit represented by a union.
ERRA states that no nonunion public employee may have more than a proportionate share of collective bargaining union costs withheld from their pay by a public employer. Chargeable activities are defined as expenditures for purposes of collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment. ERRA states that whether or not a public employer can deduct funds from a public employees pay for political activity—union organizing campaigns, contributing to political campaigns of elected officials, lobbying on behalf of their members, or raising money from their members to pay for union organizing campaigns—is dependent on “controlling court decisions.”
Labor Organizations Deductions Act (LODA): This is the only piece of the “Paycheck Protection” trilogy not aimed specifically at public employee unions (although the bill does name both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers as entities that must comply with restrictions). LODA establishes a stringent set of criteria governing the means through which any labor organization may collect and use funds for political activity, such as lobbying, electoral and political activities, including contributions to any candidate, party or voter registration campaign.
LODA establishes criminal penalties for any labor organization found to have made a political contribution derived from dues or any other fee paid by union members. Further, LODA prohibits unions from soliciting funds for political use from any individual other than union members and their immediate family members.
Political Funding Reform Act (PFRA): While ERRA and LODA seek to significantly limit the amount and type of funds that may be deducted from employee pay—particularly as those funds may apply to union political activity—PFRA is designed to eliminate all withholding of public employee pay for use in any political activity. Simply put, under PFRA, unions would have to raise money for political purposes by directly fundraising to their members or other union supporters.
Florida: A Case Study
In the case of Florida’s HB 1021, e-mails provided by Rep. Dorworth’s office through a public records request reflect that the initial version of the bill had been drafted in January by then-Florida Chamber of Commerce (FCoC) Vice President of Government Affairs Adam Babington. A member of the FCoC Foundation’s board of trustees, Cincy Marsiglio, the senior manager of public affairs and government relations in Florida for Wal-Mart, is the Florida ALEC “private sector” chair (see sidebar below for more on ALEC’s public and private chairs). Babington’s original draft (evidently based on ALEC “Paycheck Protection” model legislation) underwent a revision aimed at curtailing the political activity of public employee unions. This revision was made by Florida State Senate staff who were working with Babington to create a Senate companion version of the bill.
This companion bill, SB 830, was sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher (R-Jacksonville). Thrasher worked for the influential Tallahassee lobby firm of Southern Strategy Group, Inc., from 2002 through his election to the Florida Senate in 2009, where he represented several FCoC and ALEC member corporations, many with interests in the privatization of state governmental functions (particularly in the areas of mental health and healthcare service contracting).
The primary actor on the Senate end of HB 1021’s formation was Andy Bardos, special counsel to Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R-Merrit Island). After a stringent anti-public employee union dues collecting provision was added by Bardos, Babington wrote in an e-mail to Dorworth and Johnson: “So, paycheck protection is about to go on steroids. Apparently the Senate wants to be more aggressive.”
Bardos, prior to joining the office of Senate President Haridopolos in early 2011, had worked since 2005 for the Florida law firm of GrayRobinson as an attorney specializing in governmental affairs.
Bardos’ former colleague, GrayRobinson attorney Fred Leonhardt, is currently on the board of directors of the FCoC, of which he was the former chair. Leonhardt is a member of Enterprise Florida, Inc., a “public-private partnership” that works as the economic development arm of the state.
Another director of Enterprise Florida is former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense (R-Panama City). Bense is the present chairman of FCoC, who derives a large portion of his annual income from a company he co-owns: GAC Contractors, Inc. As reported on his 2009 statement of financial interests (filed pursuant to his membership on the board of the quasi-public Enterprise Florida), Bense held nearly $5 million in GAC asssets, much of which was money earned from contracts to repair state and federal highways.
GAC is a prominent member of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC), which through its legislative efforts seeks to encourage the free flow of public-sector cash to nonunion private companies. ABC bills itself as being the nonunion “construction industry’s voice within the legislative, executive and judicial branches” of government. The bundled “Paycheck Protection” package containing ERRA, LODA and PFRA in Dorworth’s office had originated in ABC’s 2010 “legislative handbook.”
In addition to his FCoC, GAC and ABC connections, Bense is chair of the Florida-based, Koch-funded, ALEC-member public policy foundation, the James Madison Institute (JMI). FCoC baord member Leonhardt serves on the JMI board with Bense.
When asked why the FCoC was so deeply concerned with protecting the paychecks of public employees (to the point where FCoC top lobbyists were drafting legislation to such effect), FCoC Director of Public Affairs Edie Ousley declined to comment.
Both HB 1021 and SB 830 died in their respective chambers following pressure exerted on the FCoC by public employee union members.
According to materials obtained through a public records request, news of a large-scale opposition action made its way back to Dorworth in the form of an e-mail from Ousley, with the terse subject line “here’s the issue.” That e-mail contained a press release from a coalition of unions known as Floridians Outraged at the Chamber of Commerce’s Attack on Workers, which read in part: “Wednesday, April 20…Workers respond to attacks from the Chamber of Commerce… Labor organizations and members withdrew close to $10 million in funds from the Chamber’s largest banks.” The press release went on to indicate that the group was prepared to issue further “wave(s) of withdrawals” and other actions.
Weeks later, on May 7, the bills’ sponsors withdrew both bills from legislative hearings calendars.
Blueprint for Privatization
Should state employee unions be effectively prohibited from politicking, as “paycheck protection” legislation seeks to do, other pieces of ALEC model legislation seeking to privatize state functions would meet with less resistance. Three of these model bills—the Council on Efficient Government Act (CEGA), the State Council on Competitive Government Act (SCCGA) and the Public-Private Fair Competition Act (PPFCA)—call for the creation of state “councils” or “committees” tasked with streamlining state agency performance and identifying services to be outsourced to the private sector.
PPFCA calls for the broadest scope of privatization. The act seeks to prohibit state governments from “engaging in any commercial activity of any goods or services to or for government agencies or for public use which are also offered by private enterprise.” It also calls for the creation of “Private Enterprise Advisory Committees” (PEAC). The committee members—the majority of whom are business owners or corporate officers—would review what services, if any, government should continue to provide citizens.
The Nonprofit Roach Motel
Public records requests demonstrate a clear tradition of ALEC model legislation being passed from ALEC-member corporate lobbyists through the offices of ALEC’s elected public-sector chairs to other lawmakers. In essence, ALEC has created a web of lawmakers and public employees who act as lobbyists/agents on their behalf and on behalf of their corporate and special interest members.
It is important to note that ALEC, as a 501 (c) (3) entity, is strictly prohibited by federal tax code from taking part in the formation of legislation. In the past year, ALEC has vociferously insisted (since falling under increased scrutiny as a result of the July 2010 In These Times cover story, “Corporate Con Game,” which documented ALEC’s role in disseminating model legislation based on Arizona’s SB 1070), that it simply passes model legislation along to lawmakers. As such, ALEC claims it is not engaged in the crafting of actual legislation, nor is it engaged in lobbying.
Despite such protestations, ALEC is a conduit, an intermediary between Corporate America and the Republican Party—a legislative roach motel controlled by corporations, special interest groups and right-wing think tanks through which lawmakers (whose election campaigns are often funded by the same corporations and interest groups) gather model laws to take home and introduce in state legislatures.
Taken together, ALEC’s efforts to shape legislation, beguile lawmakers and privatize government services have one clear goal: to eliminate the public sector altogether.
Playing Fast and Loose With Nonprofit Status
ALEC annually spends more than $1 million for corporate lobbyists to meet state lawmakers at lavish retreats—lawmakers who will return home and try to shepherd ALEC’s corporate-sponsored “model legislation” into law.
However, through an accounting sleight of hand, ALEC hides the identity of the corporations that are paying for the lawmakers’ junkets and backing the group’s model legislation.
In recent years, ALEC has taken in about $6.5 million in tax-deductible donations: From 1999 through 2009, ALEC reported $743,446 in legislative (“public sector”) membership dues, with a two-year membership at $100; during the same 10-year period, ALEC reported $54,504,702 in “gifts,” “grants” and other contributions from its corporate and special interest members.
In 2009 alone, ALEC tax returns show that the group spent a combined $2,620,343 on organizing conferences and a membership services program that manages “the recruitment and retention of ALEC state legislator members” and “provides assistance to ALEC state chairs in raising state scholarship funds, tracking the expenditures of these funds, and ensuring that members of ALEC leadership are operating in accordance with ALEC policies and procedures.” In 2009, ALEC held $1,042,629 as “scholarship” funds to reimburse lawmakers attending ALEC functions. That’s listed on the tax returns not as an expenditure, but as a liability. Through this accounting trick, ALEC retains its tax-exempt status while simultaneously wining and dining thousands of the nation’s state lawmakers—who then go on to introduce ALEC’s legislation. In each state, ALEC has both a “public sector” and “private sector” chair.
In a memo to its “public sector” chairs, on Oct. 29, 2010, ALEC justifies its active role in creating model legislation while maintaining its not-for-profit status this way:
[L]aws are not passed, debated or adopted during this process and therefore no lobbying takes place. That process is done at the state legislatures. … Just like teachers, farmers and ranchers, senior citizens and other groups, businesses have the right to representation and to inform legislators about their industry.”
Case Study: Arizona
Documents released following a public records request to the office of then-Arizona Senate President Bob Burns (R-Peoria) indicate that in 2009 and 2010, Arizona ALEC lawmakers requested more than $60,000 in reimbursement for travel, lodging and registration fees from ALEC’s scholarship fund for their time at ALEC functions—including the December 2009 event at which State Senator Russell Pearce (R-Mesa) submitted his draft of SB 1070 for approval as a piece of ALEC model legislation, the law known as “breathing while Brown” to its critics. (See “Corporate Con Game: How the private prison industry helped shape Arizona’s anti-immigrant law,” In These Times, July 2010.)
Records indicate that Burns approved all of these requests. Disbursements ranged from around $1,000 to $3,000. This is a considerable sum, given that an Arizona legislator earns $24,000 per year and that the maximum allowable contribution from an individual or political action committee to legislative candidates in the state is $424.
But because the monies raised for the ALEC scholarship fund are donated by member corporations and their representatives, and because the identity of these donors is impossible to determine, ALEC may be operating in direct opposition to a provision of Arizona’s “gifting” law.
Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), title 41-1232.03, section (I), states: “A person or organization shall not make a gift to or an expenditure on behalf of a member or employee of the legislature through another person or organization for the purpose of disguising the identity of the person making the gift or expenditure.” In addition, Arizona law requires lawmakers to disclose all “gifts” over $500.
Yet ALEC does not give “gifts,” according to ALEC Senior Director of Public Affairs Raegan Weber, based in Washington, D.C. “It’s not a ‘gift,’ ” she says. “It’s a ‘scholarship.’ We don’t give gifts. A gift is something given out of kindness. I’m gonna give you this. A scholarship has specific specifications which must be met.”
According to Weber, the scholarship funds do not come from ALEC. Rather, Weber says that all funds are raised in each state by either the state’s public or private sector chairs, independent of ALEC. After being raised, the funds are simply given to ALEC for the group to hold until each state’s public sector chairs request a disbursement, she says.
On Nov. 8, 2010, the Tucson chapter of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social justice organization, called on the Arizona Secretary of State and the Arizona Attorney General to investigate what it describes as ALEC’s “influence peddling.”
“Any rational person can look at what these corporations are doing through ALEC and on their own and know that essentially for-profit corporations are writing legislation in Arizona,” said Caroline Isaacs, AFSC program director. “The spirit of the law—which I think most of us believe is there to prevent money from buying undue influence in politics—is clearly being violated.”
When asked to provide a list of specific donors to the Arizona ALEC scholarship fund, Russell Smoldon, the ALEC Arizona “private sector” chair, utility lobbyist and a member of the ALEC Private Enterprise Board task force that raises those funds, declined to do so. “No. I don’t want to start scaring people off. I have a hard enough time raising money.”
ALEC and Its Tea Party Sugar Daddies
ALEC claims to be an independent, nonpartisan, public-private partnership, but the best metaphor for the organization is an aspen grove. An aspen grove appears to be a cluster of individual trees, but a look beneath the surface reveals that each tree is an offshoot of the same large root network, each tree genetically identical to the other.
In the case of ALEC, a common filament in that network is the Koch brothers, Charles and David. Through the profits of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries (and other Koch-controlled corporations), the two billionaire brothers fund myriad right-wing public policy foundations.
ALEC has received significant funding from the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF), which also funds the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. In 1974, Cato was originally incorporated as The Charles Koch Foundation. David Koch is currently on its board of directors.
David Koch is also a trustee of The Reason Foundation, a libertarian public policy institute and prominent ALEC member that promotes the privatization of government (and also receives CKF funding). Michael Flynn, Reason’s current director of government affairs, served as a director of ALEC policy and legislative activities/strategic initiatives for several years ending in 2003.
David Koch also currently chairs the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF), formerly known as the Citizens for a Sound Economy Educational Foundation (another prominent ALEC-contributor), largely funded by CKF and Koch Industries. Joining him on that board is Koch Industries Executive Vice President Richard Fink, who is also the former executive vice president of the Mercatus Center, yet another Koch-funded, right-wing ALEC public policy member.
In 2003, AFPF incarnated two more foundations: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. As noted in AFPF’s 2003 tax records, the group paid U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) $429,583, via FreedomWorks, as a “consultant”–his first year salary as chairman of FreedomWorks.
As Kate Zernike noted in our October 2010 cover story, “Tea Party Confidential,” Armey and the group’s president Matt Kibbe wrote an op-ed article in 2007 proposing the Boston Tea Party as a model for putting grassroots pressure on a central government. She writes, “Presaging Tea Party tactics in the summer of 2009, they described how Samuel Adams packed town hall meetings with his supporters to drown out Tory voices and used each new British policy or tax as ‘an excuse to rally new recruits to the cause of American independence.’ They wrote, ‘Adams was the first American to recognize that “it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather, an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.’ “
Beginning in 2009, FreedomWorks was instrumental in creating the faux-populist Tea Party. The mainstream media uncritically hyped the scores of Tea Party tax day protests orchestrated by FreedomWorks and the National Taxpayers Union (another Koch-funded ALEC group headed by former ALEC executive director Duane Parde), thus helping enable unprecedented Republican legislative majorities in states across the nation.
The source material for this story, including ALEC model legislation and an extended version of this story, is archived by D.B.A. Press at dbapress.com, a website maintained by the author.