Archive for the ‘Corporatism’ Category
Today’s read is an interview by the Saker of Michael Hudson, who the Saker refers to as “the best economist in the West”. We can quibble about politics and the economic fallout designed and approved of by the rentier class as they prepare their August meeting, but how often is it that we look to history and economic theory when trying to understand the present, and plan for the future?
Hudson’s voice in the debate rising about how to structure economies, in the face of the failure of the Soviet-style communism and the failure of “free market” capitalism to meet the needs of any but the elite, is a welcome respite to the usual left-right and neolibertarian-socialist views on economy. Throw in the debates over the so-called “free trade” agreements, and we have a global economy swirling down the drain into a 21st century economic version of the dark ages.
The missing item in today’s economic reforms is what classical economics focused on, from the French Physiocrats through Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill to Marx and his contemporaries: freeing industrial economies from the rentier carry-overs of European feudalism. The focus of classical value and price theory was to free economies from economic rent, defined as unearned income simply resulting from privilege: absentee land rent, mineral and natural resource rent, monopoly rent, and financial interest. The aim should be to prevent rent-extracting activities – defined as purely predatory transfer payments, an economically unproductive zero-sum activity.
The classical labor theory of value aimed at isolating those forms of income (land rent, monopoly rent and interest) that were socially unnecessary, and simply were legacies of past privilege. The halfway alternative was to tax land rent and monopoly rent (Henry George, et al.). The socialist alternative was to take natural rent-producing sectors into the public domain.
Europe did this with the major public utilities – transportation, communications, the post office, and also education, public health and pensions. The United States privatized these sectors, but created regulatory commissions to keep prices in line with basic cost-value. (To be sure, regulatory capture always was a problem, especially when it came to railroad charges…
Classical economics was a doctrine of how to industrialize and become more competitive – and at the same time, more fair – by bringing prices in line with actual, socially necessary costs of production. The resulting doctrine (with Marx and Thorstein Veblen being the last great classical economists) was largely a guide to what to avoid: special privilege, unearned income, unproductive overhead.
The aim was to create a circular flow model of national income distinguishing real wealth from mere overhead. The idea was to strip away what was unnecessary – what Marx called the “excrescences” of post-feudal society that remained embedded in the industrial economies of his day. When the great classical economists spoke of a “free market,” they meant a market free from rentier classes, free from monopolies and above all free from predatory bank credit.
Of course, we know now that Marx was too optimistic. He described the destiny of industrial capitalism as being to liberate economies from the rentiers. But World War I changed the momentum of Western civilization. The rentiers fought back – the Austrian School, von Mises and Hayek, fascism and the University of Chicago’s ideologues redefined “free markets” to mean markets free for rentiers, free from government taxation of land and natural resources, free from public price regulation and oversight. The Reform Era was called “the road to serfdom” – and in its place, the post-classical neoliberals promoted today’s road to debt peonage.
Today’s Cold War may be viewed in its intellectual aspects as an attempt to prevent countries outside of the United States from realizing that (contra Thatcher) there is an alternative, and acting on it. The struggle is for the economy’s brain and understanding on the part of governments. Only a strong government has the power to achieve the reforms at which 19th century reformers failed to achieve.
The alternative is what happened as Rome collapsed into serfdom and feudalism.
I’ve been spending far more time reading than writing lately, as writing and nursing blog posts eats up more time than I’m willing to expend. However, I think it time well spent to point folks to articles that begin to make sense of the precarious position our nation or world finds itself in.
So pull up a comfy chair on this grey and dreary spring day (thought the rain is most wonderful), pour a cup of coffee, tea or what have you and dig in.
Today’s reading comes from William R. Polk, Losing the American Republic. Here’s the end of Part 1 (Part 2 hasn’t been published yet, but I’m looking forward to it).
Lessons Needed Learning
It would be rewarding if one could say that our experience in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan has made us wiser in our approaches to Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen, but it is hard to substantiate that conclusion. Yet the lessons are there to be learned. There are more, but consider just these few:
- Military action can destroy but it cannot build;
- Counterinsurgency does not work and creates new problems;
- Nation building is beyond the capacity of foreigners;
- Piecemeal, uncoordinated actions often exacerbate rather than solve problems;
- The costs of military action are multifold and usually harm not only the attacked but also the attacker’s society and economy;
- Reliance on military action and supply of weapons to the client state encourages it to undertake actions that make peace-seeking harder rather than easier;
- War radiates out from the battlefield so that whole societies are turned into refugees. In desperation they flee even far abroad and create unforeseen problems.
- The sense that the attacker is a bully spreads and converts outsiders into enemies;
- Failure to understand the society and culture even of the enemy is self-defeating;
- Angry, resentful people eventually strike back where they can and so create a climate of perpetual insecurity.
The result of such actions is deforming to the central objective of an intelligent, conservative and constructive American foreign policy — the preservation of our well-being.
This will be a very long post. I would break it up into manageable chunks, but I fear that having to defend my writings from entrenched stalwarts of the status quo in the democratic party would sidetrack this post.
There is an intersection of events and ideas that together lead to a much darker conclusion than addressing them individually. It is no secret that Edward Snowden has unleashed a firestorm of debate with his revelations about the state of surveillance in America, and around the world. That topic alone is far too large for one post to address, but it has unveiled some interesting material to work with.
The photo to the right is from protest signs being carried around various protests in Germany this summer, organized against the collusion of the American and German spy networks.
President Jimmy Carter rocked the foreign media last month with a statement he made in Atlanta at a conference on U.S.-German relations:
“America has no functioning democracy at this moment”
“‘… I think the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far,’ he said.
‘I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that [Snowden’s] bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.’
Asked to elaborate, he said, ‘I think the American people deserve to know what their Congress is doing.'”
Hot on the heals of my post earlier this week — which raised the call for my public lynching, and the ostracizing of 4&20, by dem party loyalists, apologists and hand-wringers for having the temerity to quote a source from World News Daily (there, I said it again, so you all can just quit reading now) — and Montana Superreporter John Adams’ great investigative report into Montana ex-Governor Brian Schweitzer’s dark money machine, I just felt that the dog days of summer were a good time to delve into the matter a little deeper.
Two seemingly unrelated pieces of information, when combined, escalate the gravity of the situation far beyond the simple politics with which most people want to whitewash this kerfuffle. The first piece from John Adams’ story:
“That group [Council for a Sustainable America] in 2009 received a $335,000 contribution from the Democratic Governors Association three months after Schweitzer was elected chairman of that organization.”
“Allegations of fraud against Attorney General Eric Holder, other top Justice officials, several prominent Democratic operatives – including a major contributor to Hillary Clinton – and Credit Suisse Bank has been re-ignited by a federal bankruptcy judge’s decision that also apparently has derailed the U.S. Senate bid of a former Democrat governor.”
Why Jerome Corsi? Well, in case democrats need to be reminded, Corsi was one of the architects behind the Swift-boating of Senator John Kerry in 2004, and was co-author of the book “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry”. Yes the book was full of untruths, as was his book about Obama in “The Obama Nation.” Obama’s campaign was successful in rebutting Corsi’s book, while Kerry’s was not, and he lost the election by many accounts to “Swift-Boating”.
It is no secret that Brian Schweitzer would rather be U.S. president than a U.S. Senator. So when the man who helped tank one Senator’s presidential bid (and tried again unsuccessfully with Obama) takes notice of what some people thought was a shoe-in for Senate, well then it is fair game to talk about, WND or not. Further investigation stemming from Adams’ and Corsi’s writings have taken a long and winding road. Continue Reading »
Ok, I’m just going to repost this blog from deza4america. While most of the facts are verifiable, there is still much alleging going on, so I’m going to let the allegers do their thing (and he puts together the narrative so much more eloquently than could I) and hopefully some wonderful investigative journalist can pick up the pieces and move forward.
Holder faces fresh charges.. scandal is no stranger to these cronies!!
by deza4america in Today’s Outrage!!
Eric Holder, the king of scandal, now faces charges of fraud, along with other top justice officials, democratic operatives (including major contributors of Hillary Clinton), and Credit Suisse Bank after the judge dismissed a bankruptcy judgment against real estate developer, Tim Blixseth. The judgment of bankruptcy was allegedly a result of a fraudulent loan made by Credit Suisse, and stripped Blixseth of his ownership of Yellowstone Club, a luxury ski and golf resort in Montana.
Blixseth also alleges that the defrauding scheme was planned by his ex-wife and Ron Burkle, supermarket guru responsible for raising over $1 million for Hillary Clinton’s ’08 campaign. This decision has also derailed the former governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer (D), from seeking a bid for senate in 2014.
There are allegedly several hundreds of pages showing Holder and his assistant (criminal department), Lanny Breur, blocked the prosecution of disputes involving the Yellowstone Club, now owned by Burkle.
Further allegations show that Holder and Breuer also sought to shield the federal prosecution of Credit Suisse Group AG (client of law firm, Covington and Burling), and the Democratic Party operatives who played an alleged role in the fraudulent financing and bank lending practices. Holder and Breuer were partners for Covington and Burling before becoming an Obama staff members!
The decision by the judge dismissed a $40 million fraud claim against Blixseth, that had been enforced by… wait! another man with ties to the Clintons, Ralph Kirscher. It is further alleged that this decision by Kirscher was fraudulently influenced by Schweitzer. Which, led to Blixseth’s ex-wife and Sam Bryne, a Boston real estate investor with Democrat Party ties being able to purchase the Yellowstone Club at substantially under market value shortly after the bankruptcy had been declared.
Additionally, Burkle, Bryne, and Schweitzer funneled over $1.2 million to Schweitzer’s re-election campaign through various avenues trying to hide the ties between the various parties!!
Now they’re not just too big to fail, they’re too big to prosecute. Attorney General Eric Holder testified about the obvious lack of D.O.J. prosecution of big banks:
“I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”
So our banks are not only enjoying the rights of personhood, they also have been given immunity from the law. How much more evidence do people need that the era of economic fascism is upon us?
Sen. Debby Barrett’s bill to repeal last session’s eminent domain debacle had it’s hearing in Senate Energy and Telecommunications yesterday. A roomful of people, with overflow out into the hall, testified overwhelmingly in support of SB180
Northwestern Energy’s attorney Mr. Fitzpatrick spent a significant amount of time – after great theatrical preparation for his opposition testimony – continuing to blur the lines between merchant lines and distribution lines.
Distribution lines being lines which actually serve public uses here in Montana. Public uses that are regulated by the PSC. Public uses that have an elected official answering for the public uses that have, at times, been reason for an eminent domain taking of private property.
2011’s eminent domain bill handed handed the power of eminent domain to private corporations for the purposes of economic development. That, my friends, is the equivalent of the famously decried Kelo v. City of New London, which held that a private property could be condemned by developers in the name of economic gain and tax revenue.
Below the fold is Sen. Debby Barrett’s proponent statement and Missoula Sen. David Wanzenried’s comments submitted to the public record for SB180.
Before I do that, though, I’m going to provide the email addresses of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and ask you all to write these guys and tell them that keeping eminent domain power in the hands of private corporations in the name of jobs or economic gain or the guise of some sort of public beneficial review during the Large Facilities Siting Act review is wrong. Tell them eminent domain is a necessary component of government, but that the power belongs with the government and not in the hands of a private corporation. Here are the emails:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jason@priest2010.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org
Barrett and Wanz’s testimony below…. Continue Reading »
“President Barack Obama’s inauguration committee will accept unlimited corporate contributions to fund its January festivities, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed…”
Need we pretend anymore who runs this country?
Jim Brown, a Dillon attorney, chief legal council for the Montana Republican Party and executive board member, and legal representative for American Tradition Partnership is pretty proud of his defeat of Montana’s 100 year old ban on corporate funding of elections here in Montana – here he is boasting on Bozeman’s once-and-future state representative JP Pomnichowski’s facebook page:
Brown’s a hypocrite. Just like a lot of stuff we saw from the big government GOP this last session in the Montana state capitol, Brown is proud of his role undermining Montana’s constitution, yet back in May he whined about a commissioner of political practices ruling which allows parties to spend an unlimited amount of cash on staff and other similar services towards a candidates campaign.
Sounds to me like Brown takes all this election law stuff as some sort of game to be won (or lost), regardless of the consequences. Bad for him to lose at the commission of political practices when it involves unlimited money, but somehow great for everyone when it involves the U.S. Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate money.
It’s good to see how clearly the Montana Republic Party positioned itself with regards to undermining Montana’s constitutional ban on corporate funding of elections. It’s chief legal counsel representing the party which sued the state on election law?
Republicans around these parts want to preach and lecture and champion the constitution, yet they’ve no respect for Montana’s. History means nothing, and our forefathers tonight are spinning in their graves.
While the Copper King zombies start plotting their return to state and national politics.
Government is FUBAR, people. FUBAR.
The Montana GOP? Disgraceful.
Governor Brian Schweitzer had an op-ed in today’s New York Times today. I am reprinting it here in it’s entirety because (a) it’s an op-ed and (b) he’s our Governor.
Schweitzer is throwing his weight behind Stand With Montanans, a group working to ban corporate campaign spending here in Montana under Ballot Initiative 166. The national attention he can draw to this issue – transposed with Montana’s history’s role not only here in Montana, but nationally – is invaluable.
Make no mistake Montana – there are those out there here in this state (with funding from Canada and out-of-state) that are working to removal all barriers to corporate spending here in Montana. It’s a good thing that Schweitzer taking a leading role on this issue.
Mining for Influence in Montana
IN Montana’s frontier days, we learned a hard lesson about money in politics, one that’s shaped our campaign-finance laws for a century and made our political system one of the country’s most transparent.
Those laws, and our political way of life, are now being threatened by the Supreme Court — which is why I recently signed a petition for a federal constitutional amendment to ban corporate money from all elections.
Montana’s approach to campaign law began when a miner named William A. Clark came upon a massive copper vein near Butte. It was the largest deposit on earth, and overnight he became one of the wealthiest men in the world. He bought up half the state of Montana, and if he needed favors from politicians, he bought those as well.
In 1899 he decided he wanted to become a United States senator. The State Legislature appointed United States senators in those days, so Clark simply gave each corruptible state legislator $10,000 in cash, the equivalent of $250,000 today.
Clark “won” the “election,” but when the Senate learned about the bribes, it kicked him out. “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale,” Clark complained as he headed back to Montana.
Nevertheless, this type of corruption continued until 1912, when the people of Montana approved a ballot initiative banning corporate money from campaigns (with limited exceptions). We later banned large individual donations, too. Candidates in Montana may not take more than a few hundred dollars from an individual donor per election; a state legislator can’t take more than $160. And everything must be disclosed.
These laws have nurtured a rare, pure form of democracy. There’s very little money in Montana politics. Legislators are basically volunteers: they are ranchers, teachers, carpenters and all else, who put their professions on hold to serve a 90-day session, every odd year, for $80 a day.
And since money can’t be used to gain access, public contact with politicians is expected and rarely denied. A person who wants to visit with a public official, even the governor, can pretty much just walk into the Capitol and say hello. All meetings with officials are open to the public. So are all documents — even my own handwritten notes and e-mails.
All this is in jeopardy, though, thanks to the Supreme Court and its infamous Citizens United ruling. In February the court notified the office of Montana’s commissioner of political practices, which oversees state campaigns, that until further notice, we may no longer enforce our anti-corruption statute, specifically our restriction on corporate money.
The court, which will make a formal ruling on the law soon, cited in the 2010 Citizens United case that corporations are people, too, and told us that our 110-year effort to prevent corruption in Montana had likely been unconstitutional. Who knew?
The effects of the court’s stay are already being felt here. The ink wasn’t even dry when corporate front groups started funneling lots of corporate cash into our legislative races. Many of the backers have remained anonymous by taking advantage of other loopholes in federal law.
But it’s easy to figure out who they are: every industry that wants to change the laws so that more profit can be made and more citizens can be shortchanged.
I know this because I’ve started receiving bills on my desk that have been ghostwritten by a host of industries looking to weaken state laws, including gold mining companies that want to overturn a state ban on the use of cyanide to mine gold, and developers who want to build condos right on the edge of our legendary trout streams.
In the absence of strict rules governing campaign money, these big players will eventually get what they seek. I vetoed these bills, but future governors might sign them if they have been bribed by the same type of money that is now corrupting our State Legislature.
This will mean, sadly, that the Washington model of corruption — where corporations legally bribe members of Congress by bankrolling their campaigns with so-called independent expenditures, and get whatever they need in return — will have infected Montana.
That’s why, in the event we don’t win in the court, I’m also supporting a federal constitutional amendment that would enshrine the right of a state to ban corporate money from political campaigns. I’m hoping the rest of Montana will join me — indeed, the petition will be presented to voters in November.
It’s not much, but it’s a start. If other states get into the act, maybe we can start a prairie fire that will burn all the way to Washington. In the meantime, we will see whether the court decides to blow the stink of Washington into Montana, or whether we can preserve our fresh mountain air.
by Pete Talbot
Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis
This is in response to the Polish Wolf’s post over at Intelligent Discontent. While some of his stats are interesting, his premise is flawed. Basically he says that the 99% are responsible for their economic plight by shopping at WalMart, buying imported clothing and purchasing gasoline. There’s a grain of truth to this, I suppose, but I’m thinking that the policies of the last few decades have more to do with wealth inequalities: economic policies that favor Wall Street over Main Street, Free Trade agreements that benefit corporations more than workers, and energy policies that promote carbon-based fuels over renewables and conservation.
Montana Supreme Court rules
Or maybe I should say the Montana Supreme Court rocks! I certainly have more respect for the majority of Montana Supremes than the majority of SCOTUS justices. In a 5-2 vote, the justices ruled against the kooky triumvirate of Western Tradition Partnership, Champion Painting Inc. and Gary Marbut’s Montana Shooting Sports Association Inc. Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana justices don’t believe corporations should be able to buy and sell elections.
Look up pompous ass in the dictionary
And you’ll see a picture of George Will. In his latest column, he promotes the Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadian tar sands and fracking in general. He pooh-poohs climate change, the EPA, the National Labor Relations Board and student loans. He believes “conservatives should stride confidently into 2012” … “because progressivism exists to justify a few people bossing around most people … ” He has that backwards, of course, but because he uses a lot of two-dollar words, people think he’s smart. He’s not.
Usually reliable reporter Gwen Florio reports on a woman who’s attempting to disqualify Justice of the Peace John Odlin. This stems from two misdemeanor charges against the woman for “community decay.” What the hell does that mean? Did she beat up on some curbs and gutters? Forget to paint her porch? Dump raw sewage into a neighborhood park? I’m dying to know. Anyway, the Montana Supremes call her case against Odlin “frivolous.”
This is rich: GMAC mortgage lending exited the mortgage market in Massachusetts today.
GMAC did this is in reaction to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filing suit against 5 banks in the state for “deceptive and unlawful conduct” in foreclosures.
This is the first significant lawsuit to come about for the banks’ robo-signing of foreclosure documents. Currently New York and the federal government are investigating Bank of America for its foreclosures on active duty military.
Foreclosing on soldiers homes while they’re overseas.
The stories go on. They’ve foreclosed on homes that they couldn’t produce the finance paperwork.
Yet we taxpayers have bailed these crooks out and the federal treasury is lending them cash at .25%.
So when a political entity like the State of Massachusetts decides to enforce the law and sue them for their unlawful practices, GMAC just shuts down shop.
Intentionally inflicting economic pain on Massachusetts.
Banking reform did nothing to reign in our banking system. They’re still “too big to fail”. Bank bailouts were not eliminated.
Banks have been making money on money – a shell game economists have been warning against for darn near a decade.
Used to be they made their money on well thought out investments such as real estate and business. Now they make their money by charging what used to be back alley loan shark rates (double-digit credit card rates). They charge ATM and debit card fees to their depositor while doubling up on those charges by strapping businesses with fees to accept these cards.
There’s been some pretty shocking video out of University of California-Davis over the last several days. 99% of the reaction has been that people were horrified and disgusted by the police actions.
For myself, I must be numb. The blatent disregard the UCDavis cops had for the students they are paid to protect – protect – has been played out all over the country in cities across America. Police beating with billy clubs and people beating them with fists and body slams? Police pepper spraying – pepper spraying randomly and with malice? Police firing guns with rubber pellets and tear gas and other various projectiles? It’s been played out in NYC, in Portland, in Phoenix, in Denver…Pittsburgh…LA..Oakland. Everywhere.
All of this directed at masses of peaceful protesters. People angry at the banking system and corporatization of America. An America that is making money on money – and leaving real America- the 99% – out floating in its wake.
And let’s make not mistake – peaceful protestors shouting angrily about their protest issues does not necessitate a need for mob control. We are not seeing mass vandalism, people. We are seeing mass protest and over reaction by police which incites mobs and results – sometimes and not all the time and you all know this to be true – some actual property destruction.
On Friday, UCDavis chancellor ordered the #occupy occupation tents removed. Cops come in with full riot gear, and..well…started beating on not only students, but also a poet laureate and Wordsworth scholar, along with their colleagues who had gone down to bear witness to the alleged violence of the students. Here is the first video that I saw of Friday’s removal:
It’s bizarre. It’s troubling – and again, remember my numbness to these scenes of violence. I see this stuff day in day out on twitter – regular network news doesn’t even have time in their 20-second sound bite rule to cover this stuff, yet alone fit it into their corporate-biased agenda. But did you watch to the end? At 8 minutes long, I wonder how many of you bailed about half-way through?
Sometime late Saturday someone posted the video below which shows the same situation from another angle, with a longer lead in – and it cuts out the events that occurred late in the video I posted above:
It was this second video that sickened even the numb jhwygirl. The vitrol the one lead officer directed at peaceful students – children for crying out loud! – is stomach-turning. I feel the pain of the woman you can hear in the background screaming (and later crying) “you are supposed to protect them!” as the cops, with determination and deliberation, pepper spray those kids at close range while they sit peacefully on the sidewalk of their campus.
Goddess, what has this nation come to?
My numbness though requires me to try and find something good – a sanity mechanism I’m learning ;) – and it is the end of that first video (and less so the second) which shows the police’s full retreat.
Those police stood there in full riot gear facing down peaceful protesting students sitting on a sidewalk. Hundreds stood there in witness – all of which included cameras and cell phones and video cameras. It wasn’t just students standing there – it was news media and university personnel. Yet those cops stood there as a handful pointed guns (likely loaded with pepper spray balls or rubber bullets) at eye and head level. Those cops stood there in bullet proof vests and masks and watched as a colleague stood like some sort of cattle master over those peaceful students and shook up that pepper spray – and at one point double-fisted himself with the stuff, having grabbed a fellow cops can – and marched up and down in attempts to intimidate peaceful students sitting on a sidewalk with that pepper spray.
For what? Control of the sidewalk?
And yet even after he emptied a can of pepper spray on those kids and only one or two ran after the pain was inflicted, those cops were safe. The only rush was to the safety of those students – and yet those cops who are sworn to protect left those students in bodily harm (pepper spray is NOT harmless folks…it can blind, and in this case it did cause bleeding) and beat back the people who attempted to protect and assist.
What is moving about those two videos is the safety of those disgusting officers who violated multiple laws and policies by doing what they did…
What is moving is the safety they had as they retreated from their failed attempt to clear a sidewalk. A friggin’ sidewalk.
What is moving is the obvious fear that the same officer who inflicted the pepper spray exhibited as he retreated – and his companion officers who continued to point those rifles at the heads of those peaceful protestors and their accompanying witnesses.
Did they cry when they shut the door of their office or their car after they completed their retreat? Do they look at this video and realize the complete shame of what they did? Do the ones that stood guard realize the sin of their complicity?
I have some understanding of mob mentality, I’d like to think – so I wonder what those cops thought after they exhaled that evening. After they saw themselves on film.
Finally – last night UC Davis’ Chancellor Katehi took a late night walk to her car. The campus is now filled with protesters. And Chancellor Katehi – who had said on Saturday that the police use of pepper spray was justified because her and the staff at the university felt threatened – walked in silence and shame to her car.
I bet she was shaking once her and her companion drove away. And I bet she cried too.
It was only a matter of time till people started coming to the same conclusion that many of us have made recently, that there may be more overlap between the tea party and OccupyWallStreet than is readily apparent. James Sinclair over at howconservativesdrovemeaway draws an interesting comparison of the two movements:
We should pay less attention to the individual lunatics, and more attention to what a movement is really about. Occupy Wall Street, at its core, is a reaction to the increasing power and influence of large corporations. The Tea Party, at its core, is a reaction to the government’s constant interference with private enterprise. But wait a minute—aren’t those things connected?
Bailouts, subsidies, tax breaks, special rights and privileges, regulations designed to restrict competition—to name a few of the many ways the government protects and stimulates corporate interests, and those things are every bit as anti-free market as, not to mention directly related to, the high taxes and excessive bureaucracy that gets Tea Partiers riled up. In other words, aren’t these two groups—Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party—raging against different halves of the same machine? Do I have to draw a Venn diagram here?
Oh, alright, I’ll draw a Venn diagram:
While I might quibble with his characterizations of the two, the important part of his analysis is the following:
Yeah, I’m oversimplifying, but only a little. The greatest threat to our economy is neither corporations nor the government. The greatest threat to our economy is both of them working together. There are currently two sizable coalitions of angry citizens that are almost on the same page about that, and they’re too busy insulting each other to notice.
The overlap between corporations and government — the intertwining of corporations and government — is a fundamental feature of creeping fascism in this country. And it will be the undoing of this country if it isn’t stopped.
We all have been educated about the 3 branches of government, and the separation of powers between the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. What the OccupyWallStreet movement needs to do is illuminate the need for another separation of powers, one between corporations and the government’s other three branches.
Congress and the Courts over the years have created a de facto 4th power in this country. Now the people need to raise up and separate it from the other three branches.
(This is but the opinion of one Occupier in Solidarity, and not the consensus of OccupyMissoula)
Many people do not understand what the Occupy movement is all about, and preconceptions and prejudices abound. I have spent most of the last two weeks working to understand this movement and help organize OccupyMissoula. I’m not sure why I stuck my neck out, and devoted all my time, but it has changed the way I look at politics, movements, and my community.
In the words of an elderly gentleman I have known and respected for the 25 years I have lived in Missoula, “this is the most important movement I have seen since the the Great Depression.”
Similarly, last night I had the honor to meet 4 young high school students who had decided to put on suits and come down to the County Court House and OccupyMissoula to “check things out.” We had a great conversation and I felt inspired that our youth feel the same concerns that our more experienced community members do, and felt compelled to participate, and to write about their experience (one of them was a writer for their high school’s newspaper).
It took an article in no less than Fox News, tweeted across the internet in a “Holy Shit” moment to put it all into perspective for me: “The key isn’t what protesters are for but rather what they’re against.” Continue Reading »
This is rich, all things considered. Here in Montana we’ve got two Canadian companies working on condemnation of private property (via the gift of Governor Schweitzer and this past legislative session’s HB198) for their Canadian-incorporated tar sands pipeline and the MATL transmission lines.
And in New York City there’s Canadian company Brookfield Properties, incorporated under the laws of Canada prepping to evict peaceful political protesters from the open and publicly used Zuccatti Park in Wall Street.
I’ve pondered Montana’s colonialism often here – this one’s a favorite – and even most recently, I’ve noted how the Keystone pipeline for Exxon’s tar sands seems to parallel that same move towards our own national colonialism.
And now we have a Canadian company on Wall Street evicting political protesters? With the blessing and assistance of the NYPD?
America has gone 360…from colonizing to being the colony.
A private park, right? Is it the NYPD planning on coming in to remove the protesters? Is it their job to enforce trespassing?
And are the trespassers really trespassing on a public space that has been open without discrimination to people of the public?
In other words – Does the public have a prescriptive right to this public space owned by Brookfield Properties? I’m pretty sure a lawyer could make a pretty good case for public use of this space.
And certainly, free speech is a long-standing public use pretty much everywhere. As is political speech.
It’s unclear what is planned for Brookfield Properties to clear the area – and of course, we’ve moved so close to corporatism (or fascism, for those of you with stronger opinions – like me) – what with NYPD bought and paid for by JP Morgan Chase – that it’s entirely possible that Mayor Bloomberg is going to utilize NYPD to remove peaceful protesters from what is inarguably a public space, albeit owned by a private entity.
That’s a George Ochenski link people…don’t miss it.
I’m not a New York City taxpayer here (obviously) but I’d have a problem with my tax dollars being used to provide security to private property for unregulated public uses that have been allowed on the property for years.
That didn’t go well. Blood spilled on the streets, and Carnegie carried that guilt with him for the rest of his life.
Incidentally, when Andrew Carnegie sold Carnegie Steel, he sold it to JP Morgan.
Swing it now to 2011…perhaps it’s Halliburton-KBR they’re going to bring in to Zuccotti, who knows.
What I do know is that whatever happens down there is going to happen under the watchful eye of the nation.
This nation could benefit from an immersion course in American history if you ask me. And a dose of constitutional history and law thrown in, too. That wiki link on the Homestead Strike would be a good start.
Another good mandatory history lesson I would assign if I were queen – and this isn’t just for Montanans, though current conditions here make the lesson especially relevant – is a read on The Copper Kings and the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. There’s a whole lot of lesson learning to go on in there – and not the crap written by Ayn Rand in ….in everything that hypocritical corporate whore ever wrote.
Don Brown in a landowner near Fort Peck who will be directly affected by the proposed KeystoneXL pipeline. He’s been a vocal opponent to the Keystone XL pipeline since early on. He’s criticized Max Baucus’s attempts at circumventing legal process for the pipeline, and more recently, he signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama that included signature of affected landowners in 5 states.
Keystone XL pipeline will utilized eminent domain to obtain the land this Canadian company needs to transport its Athabasca tar sand oil from Canada across the State of Montana and down to Texas.
This weekend Don Brown asks Montanans whether this pipeline is in our national interests. I ask whether it is in Montana’s:
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and President Barack Obama have a decision to make soon — whether TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is in the “national interest.”
As a landowner along the route who has much to lose when this pipeline comes through, I hope that our decision-makers are absolutely clear about whether this pipeline is in the national interest when it is permitted, but I think there are questions that still haven’t been answered.
Since TransCanada is a foreign corporation, is this pipeline in the national interest? Since this pipeline goes to a port on the Gulf Coast, and they already have a pipeline going to a refinery in Illinois (Keystone I pipeline), that would lead me to believe they plan on exporting the product carried on the Keystone XL. Is that in the national interest? And tar sands, which Keystone XL is going to be carrying, are especially corrosive, and the Keystone I pipeline has already had 14 leaks in about a year of operation — is that in our national Interest?
Should we just be the nation where the pipe crosses, potentially with leaks, en route from one foreign country to another? Is that in our national interest?
by Pete Talbot
So utility companies can claim eminent domain over private property but citizens (i.e.: our local government) can’t claim eminent domain over utilities.
I’m talking about our water. The stuff we drink, cook with, bath in and use to water our gardens.
This is a screwy deal. Missoula’s privately-owned Mountain Water Company can sell our resource — the aquifer that sits beneath us and the streams that flow from our mountains — to a multi-billion dollar private equity firm.
Meanwhile, our vaunted state legislature passes a bill that allows utility companies to exert eminent domain on private property owners so these corporations can build pipe and power lines anywhere they please.
Our legislature didn’t see fit to grant these same powers to citizens so they could control their own resource destiny.
I know it’s more complicated than that. A city can invoke eminent domain but it costs many thousands of dollars, takes years and the outcome is uncertain. From the Missoulian:
It took the town of Felton, Calif., population 6,000, five years to gain public ownership of its water. Felton’s water had always been privately owned, bouncing from company to company. The final straw came when owner American Water requested a huge rate increase.
So the City, with assistance from the Clark Fork Coalition, has entered into negotiations to have the right of first refusal if and when the Carlyle Group sells. I call this a fallback position. I applaud the coalition’s and the city’s efforts, but it seems so after-the-fact because the sale to the city hinges on the “if and when,” and, of course, what sort of mark up Carlyle will want in the sale. Carlyle isn’t known for its philanthropy.
Now the Montana Public Service Commission has a role in all this but it’s not clear how many legal teeth the PSC has for mitigating the sale — what sort of caveats in can impose — or could it, indeed, stop the sale (which is doubtful).
The Missoulian is doing a good job giving us background and following the story. Start here and also take a look at the related stories. I’m waiting for that hard-hitting editorial demanding public ownership of our water, though.
In the meantime, be thankful that air isn’t for sale. If so, the Carlyle Group would be buying it up and under current statutes, there’d be little we could do about it.
It’s enough to make a mellow guy like me into a radical.
A picture is worth only so much. An endorsement from Citzen United’s Political Victory Fund will be worth a whole lot more.
Apparently Denny Rehberg got that endorsement today after a lovely lunch with lots of corporate lobbyists looking on:
That’s David Bossie, president of Citizen’s United, there with Rehberg.
Let it not be said Rehberg doesn’t support unlimited corporate money in politics. Taking an endorsement from the chief money prostitute in politics is about as disgusting as it could get.
Citizen’s United, you may recall, won a landmark decision at the United States Supreme Court about a year and a half ago which concluded corporate political donations could not be limited by the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act.
Another org, People for the American Way are taking on the issue – and former Attorney Generals and other prominent lawyers around the nation submitted this letter to congress prior to hearings held last year to investigate into corporate spending and what the Citizen’s United SCOTUS case would mean.
Hell, even former gubernatorial candidate, Republican Bob Brown has spoken out on the evils of corporate money influence in politics.
Montanans should find Denny’s friendly embrace with Citizen’s United even more offensive. Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of Montana’s history – or anyone that’s seen the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington which based on one of Montana’s own Copper Kings, Sen. William Clark, who bought himself a senate seat that the U.S. Senate refused to seat – should find this utterly offensive.
Citizen’s United is a direct affront to Montana’s own Constitution. In 1912, citizens here in Montana united against the Copper King corruption in Helena and passed several citizen’s initiatives directed at quashing corporate influence in state politics.
It’s a fascinating history. All the makings of a soap opera with corruption and scandal and lots of money all thrown in for extra measure.
More recent history puts Montana and center at this issue – Attorney General Steve Bullock was called on to testify at at those senate hearings I mentioned above. This link will take you to a video of his testimony, while this link will take you to his written statement submitted at that hearing.
Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it – Edmund Burke, 1729-1797
“This is a question of whether American democracy itself can beat back a corporate takeover”
— Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula
I’ll let the voices of a few of Missoula’s leaders in support of amending the U.S. Constitution to restrict corporate “personhood” tell the story (from behind the paywall at a local chapter of a national corporate newspaper chain):
University of Montana professor Vicki Watson thanked the council for bringing the referendum forward and said she wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an official message it erred. She said extending civil rights to corporations “makes a mockery of our sacred human rights.”
“Corporations do not bleed or feel pain. They can’t die in an unsafe workplace,” Watson said.
Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, said she pitched a similar piece of legislation in Helena, and she heard support from Democrats and Republicans all across the state. Hill noted Montana history is laced with stories of big money, such as the Copper Kings, buying influence.
“This is a question of whether American democracy itself can beat back a corporate takeover,” Hill said.
Mary Stranahan… said putting power back into the hands of the people is a huge matter. She encouraged people to seek more information about the national movement from The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, www.celdf.org.
“I think this is one of the most important issues we as a country face in trying to preserve what democracy we have,” Stranahan said.
And to those of you who complained in the comments of my last post on this issue, that the City Council should attend to more important matters, you got your wish: they also approved spending $188,829 on a machine to fill pot holes.
I’m just back from several days of vacation on a (mostly) deserted lake somewhere in NW Montana (and aching legs to prove it), and I’ll have much more to say about this issue in the future. One point I’d like to focus on is the stance that Missoula’s other newspaper publisher (and I presume many other newspapers) has taken in opposition to the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to reserve 1st Amendment rights to the flesh and blooded. That somehow that would affect the 1st Amendment’s bedrock protection of freedom of the press.
I think that debate is a very worthy one to have. What is at stake is not just the fallout from Citizen’s United, but future fallout from a concerted effort by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his activist wife Virginia to reconstruct the Constitution to adhere to an originalist’s (and Tea Party) view that is more in concert with the will of the “Founders.”
Americans for Prosperity got some national attention on their “Drill Baby Drill” tour, but not exactly the kind that they probably wanted.
MSNBC has Billings NBC station KULR’s report– with video – of Koch Industries-funded “Running on Empty” tour as it made its stop in Billings Montana championing maintaining tax subsidies and eliminating regulatory controls on big oil.
In watching the video what I wonder is how friggin’ selfish do you have to be to be protesting the price of a gallon of gasoline when the very places you are talking your tours to have homeless families and bankrupt food banks?
How ridiculous that that spectacle of a tour look in an economy like this? Really? The price of gasoline?
They found out. 50 supporters of big oil were overtaken by “hundreds” of anti-Koch Industries/Americans for Prosperity “Running on Empty” protesters.
I’m sure they think that’s unfair. No one stopped them from meeting, just as no one stopped those protesters. Simple numbers….but we all know how poorly the Tea Party is with numbers, don’t we?
American’s for Prosperity “Running on Empty” stops here in Missoula tomorrow – noon – at Bonner Park. Hopefully you are aware that Alice and her friend the Mad Hatter will be there – along with a band of friends. I hear it will be quite the show.
UPDATE: Apparently they got even less of a welcome in Helena today.
Honestly, I won’t be surprised if they just drive on by. Scott Sales and his buddies paid for by Koch Industries don’t have the guts to stand in here in Missoula after the welcome they received east of the divide.
“Corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as human beings”
— Cynthia Wolken, Missoula City Councilwoman
Hot on the heals of the “Running on Empty” corporate push to consolidate power in the states, Missoula’s newest Councilwoman, Cynthia Wolken, has introduced a Resolution in Missoula City Council to have the City join with communities across the land calling for a Constitutional Amendment opposing corporate personhood.
Wolken’s Resolution was heard and approved in the Council of the Whole yesterday, and moves to the full City Council at its regular meeting next Monday night. Wolken was quoted behind a paywall in the local affiliate of a corporate newspaper chain as saying:
“I heard an overwhelming sense of despair about government,” Wolken said Wednesday. People don’t believe their voices are heard, especially at the state and federal levels, she said. And they believe campaign dollars are distorting democracy…
“A lot of people feel what they say doesn’t matter because somebody with more money will come along and drown out their voices,” she said at a Committee of the Whole meeting.
She is asking the Missoula City Council to place on the 2011 ballot a referendum to push the Montana Legislature and the U.S. Congress to amend the Constitution and declare “corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as human beings.“
“The city of Missoula, unfortunately, can’t fix this problem, but we can give our constituents a voice at the local level to say how they feel about it,” Wolken said.
Wolken’s Resolution represents Missoula’s local entry into a larger national movement focalized by groups like Move to Amend that are pushing for a Constitutional Amendment:
On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.
We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:
* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.
* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate “preemption” actions by global, national, and state governments.
The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. We Move to Amend.
Move to Amend is chock full of resources intended to help local activists organize and fight in your community and state against corporate personhood. Check it out and get organized and fight the behemoth!
And right on Cynthia! It’s great to see the new Councilwoman in my old ward take up the good fight and carry on the torch! Get your rearends down to City Council Monday night and show your support for Cynthia in her quest to lead Missoula into the national fight against corporate personhood and domination in American politics.
And don’t forget to listen to the great editorial on Montana Public Radio last year by Brian Muldoon describing Citizen’s United and the history of corporate “personhood.”
Text of Resolution after the jump:
Continue Reading »
I don’t know what, precisely, the Missoula Area Central Labor Council, the Montana Organizing Project and others are planning, but I got an email yesterday saying they were “sponsoring a strongly humorous response to this tour that is “Running on Empty.” We will present an updated version of Lewis Carroll’s classic “Mad Tea Party” from Alice in Wonderland. And we will have other humorous activities. Please come ready to laugh AFP out of town!”
So Friday folks, while Koch & Co. are serving up their Tea Party with the sole purpose of eliminating and and all impediments to domestic oil – while keeping those tax subsidies intact for Exxon and BP and…well… Koch Industries, there will be a group of Missoulians serving up their own Tea Party.
Don’t miss the show at Bonner Park – Friday, noon.
Let’s give American’s for Prosperity a better welcome than what they got when they kicked off their tour in Jacksonville. Seems like could use some company. Show ’em some Montana hospitality!
And don’t forget to wear your Mad Hat.
Koch Industries-funded Americans For Prosperity’s Running on Empty Tour is coming to town, and they’re clearly afraid of Missoula.
They’re so afraid of the liberals here in this little ol’ university town of Missoula Montana that they’ve removed Karl Tyler Chevrolet from its event’s calendar for the tour, replacing it with “TBD”.
The Running on Empty Tour stops here Friday at noon.
Supermontanareporter John S. Adams had a piece in Sunday’s Great Falls Tribune that provides some background on Americans For Prosperity and the main thrust of its Running on Empty Tour:
Kyla Wiens, an energy advocate for the Montana Environmental Information Center, said the driving force behind AFP is one of the nation’s wealthiest energy companies working to preserve its profits.
AFP was founded in 2004 by billionaire Charles Koch, of Koch Industries. Forbes magazine listed Koch Industries No. 2 on its list of America’s largest companies in 2009 with revenues toping $100 billion. The company made its fortune in diversified companies involved in oil refining, minerals, commodities trading, and others.
According to the New York Times, AFP’s budget surged from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010, an election year.
Wiens says AFP’s claim — that “illegal” offshore drilling moratoriums, the canceling of oil and gas leases on public lands and the Endangered Species Act are driving up gas prices — is false.
“They are just wrong and they are lying intentionally,” Wiens says. “This is just false rhetoric from the Koch brothers’ group that is funded by industry and is working to protect big oil’s profits.”
For the local connection, it’s good to find out that Scott Sales (a long-time favorite ’round these parts) is president of the Montana chapter of Americans For Prosperity Foundation. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise – Scott Sales has long been a corporate apologist who defended tax cheats while a state legislator.
What’s really surprising is that Scott Sales is apparently one of the last people on earth who will still champion the free market.
Yep – that’s right. Supermontanareporter John. S. Adams grabs a quote from Scott Sales championing the free market for the oil industry:
Sales says the free market, not government regulation, will bring energy prices down.
“That’s the beauty of the free market. If there’s a lot of something, it means you’re going to have fewer dollars chasing more product. Conversely, if you have supply restrictions, you have more dollars chasing fewer commodities,” Sales says.
Hilarious. Free market is impeded by regulation. Not subsidy.
Scott Sales, still the idiot we always knew he was.
I’m hearing rumours of a counter-protests for Koch & Co. when they hit Missoula.
I guess that’s if they hit Missoula, given that Americans For Prosperity and Scott Sales seem pretty scared to even let Missoula and Montana know where it is they’re going to be stopping.
And you know what, if I had to guess, maybe they’ll be stopping to refuel here at a Holiday Station. Why? Because Holiday Station gets its fuel from the Canadian Tar Sands, and it’s refined in Canada by Flint Hill Resources.
Who owns Flint Hill Resources?
When I get info on the Missoula welcoming party for Koch/Americans For Prosperity/Scott Sales Tour, I’ll let ya’all know.
(a hat tip to @KirsteninMT for the Holiday Station info – big THANKS to her for that!)
I’ve not read even a portion of it, but here’s the entire enchilada of the deficit ceiling bill (or whatever the cool kids are calling it today).
What I did pass by today in my quick reads was this story which has $21.6 billion in savings for the taxpayers, but will cost students dearly. From the story:
This change would shift some $125 billion in loan volume over to unsubsidized loans and would cost students $18.1 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The student loan cuts start on page 71.
The whole student loan program is screwed up. The federal government guarantees student loans. They pay the interest on these loans while students are in school. Students get loans from banks. Banks get the money from the feds and charge students interest. Tell me that isn’t screwed up.
Why can’t the federal government back these loans? They can back Canadian-built transmission lines but they can’t back the higher education of its citizens? Student loans are a guaranteed steady source of income. You can’t default on them. Why does the federal government loan money at treasury rates to banks that will charge 7% or more in interest on loans that they know they will be able to collect? That’s just plain stupid.
We’ve handed the Class of 2011 one hell of a mess. They aren’t going to find jobs in this economy – and now we’re gonna make ’em fund the banks should they choose to further their education while the economy recovers?
We didn’t just push this stuff off on the middle class – we directly billed a bunch of 20-somethings.