Archive for February, 2011

In Other Words: Deficits Defund Liberalism

February 17, 2011

This is a short post that serves as sequel to a post that I wrote in December discussing Thomas Frank’s theory in The Wrecking Crew that Conservatives purposefully drive up the deficit to make it impossible for Democratic administrations and congresses to ever enact any of their domestic agenda or priorities.

It was striking to read what was essentially a confirmation of this theory spelled out in a pillar of the Beltway’s echo chamber/painfully “centrist,” conservatively cautious, chronically wrong ‘conventional wisdom’ machine.  It appears in a column by, that rarest of species–a decent journalist, E.J. Dionne.  Dionne writes:

“By the end of the Clinton years, we had a handsome surplus. In came the second President Bush who, with Republicans in Congress, declared the surplus too big. It was one problem they worked very hard to solve. Two tax cuts and two wars later, we were plunged into deficits – again. And the economic downturn that started on Bush 43’s watch made everything worse, cutting revenue and requiring more deficit spending to get the economy moving.

Where were the moderate deficit hawks in all this? They have a very bad habit. When conservatives blow up our fiscal position with their tax cuts, the deficit hawks are silent – or, at best, mumble a few words of mild reproach to have something on the record – and let the budget wreckage happen. Quite a few in their ranks (yes, including some Democrats) actually supported the Bush tax cuts.

But when it’s the progressives’ turn in power, the deficit hawks become ferocious. They denounce liberals if they do not move immediately to address the shortfall left by conservatives. Thus, conservatives get to govern as they wish. Liberals are labeled as irresponsible unless they abandon their own agenda and devote their every moment in power to cutting the deficit.

It’s a game for chumps. The conservatives play it brilliantly.”

Read the whole thing.  But that lengthy excerpt from Dionne’s column is mainstream acknowledgment of an evil truth-about-conservatism-that-for-some-reason-dare-not-speak-its name in this age of false equivalence ably demonstrated by Frank in his book.    All non-culpable congressional Democrats should be shouting from the rooftops about this cynical, hypocritical “game for chumps” being played by all mod cons.

More lengthy, substantial stuff coming soon on Wisconsin and the dime-a-dozen new breed of brazen, militant, corporate conservative governors (Walker, Christie, Kasich and Scott) that are trying to destroy the remaining power of American workers for good.

Update: I’m not kidding when I say that language is one of my focuses here.  I took a walk earlier to get some sun and have a beer, when I happened to catch today’s Washington Post headline on the protests and strikes in Wisconsin, which read: Boldness Grows in Midwest.

Notice how one of our nation’s ‘leading’ newspapers framed these events.  It’s now “bold” to peacefully protest for your rights.  It’s “bold” to exercise your rights to peacefully assemble at the state’s capitol, no less, for a redress of grievances.  Notice the subliminal tone used by our corporate overlords and masters as they tell us not to get too “bold” as we thrash around for the crumbs of our Democracy.  Don’t get too “bold.”  Or what?  Will that make us terrorists?  Will the tanks come out like in all the dictatorships we support around the world?   It’s nauseating because we just spent a whole fucking year listening to all forms of mainstream media talking about the TEA PARTY “PATRIOTS,” even though it was proven time and again that most, if not all, of their events were fomented by huge corporate backed entities like Fox and Freedomworks.  But here is an authentic protest against real, not imagined, affronts to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all of a sudden protesting is “bold” and vaguely dangerous and menacing according to the Washington Post.  What has changed?  I wonder…

More soon.

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The Chamber of Cowards.Com(merce) Hates of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press (aka Cowards.Com)

February 11, 2011

One of the things I’ve been trying to emphasize and drive home in my writing is that despite their incessant talk of freedom and shrill insistence that they alone are the the true guardians of freedom in the United States and beyond, Conservatives actually prove by their actions time and time again that they are very much against the core precepts of freedom when it speaks and acts in ways they do not like.

The latest, and perhaps scariest, example of these pathetic, hypocritical anti-democratic tendencies can be seen in the Chamber of Commerce’s hiring of “private security” companies to sabotage and discredit their political opponents.  I thought this was America, gentlemen.  Don’t we engage in a battle of ideas wherein the strongest most civic-minded, persuasive and beneficial ideas prevail?  That’s what I thought this country was about.  That’s what you as conservatives SWEAR all day and night this country and this Democracy is about.  It turns out that that really is a naive, old-fashioned fantasy if you perform real journalism in the manner that ThinkProgress does.  ThinkProgress is the organization that broke the important (sadly downplayed in the Beltway) revelations that the Chamber of Commerce was indeed using money from foreign companies and foreign interests to fund political attack ads in the 2010 election cycle, almost exclusively against progressives and Democrats, in the wake of the odious, CONservative Supreme Court fix known as Citizens United (its very name an insulting linguistic perversion).   To give you an idea, ThinkProgress’s reporting included information like this:

“In recent years, the Chamber has become very aggressive with its fundraising, opening offices abroad and helping to found foreign chapters (known as Business Councils or “AmChams”). While many of these foreign operations include American businesses with interests overseas, the Chamber has also spearheaded an effort to raise money from foreign corporations, including ones controlled by foreign governments. These foreign members of the Chamber send money either directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or the foreign members fund their local Chamber, which in turn, transfers dues payments back to the Chamber’s H Street office in Washington DC. These funds are commingled to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) account which is the vehicle for the attack ads”

That particular article goes on to detail specific Chamber associations and dealings with Bahrain and India to provide an example of how the foreign money is raised and then funneled into the Chamber’s domestic political operation.  This is old-fashioned journalism forged by research and filled with facts and citations, but this meticulous exposure of their deeds and actions made the Chamber furious.  Apparently the founders and framers of this nation meant for freedom of the press to extend only as far it could without endangering the divinely mandated graft accumulated by worthless, hypocritical con-men like Tom Donohue and his ilk.

ThinkProgress is now reporting that:

“a law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with set of “private security” companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign.

According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams. Hunton And Williams’ attorney Richard Wyatt, who once represented Food Lion in its infamous lawsuit against ABC News, was hired by the Chamber in October of last year. To assist the Chamber, Wyatt and his associates, John Woods and Bob Quackenboss, solicited a set of private security firms — HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) — to develop tactics for damaging progressive groups and labor unions, in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and StopTheChamber.com.”

Isn’t purposely sabotaging and destroying your opponents the type of thing that happens in dictatorships and Third-World countries?  Certainly not in America, beacon to the world.

The True Empire is striking back as these same “private companies” are being hired by fraudulent corporations like Bank of America to destroy Wikileaks.  ThinkProgress notes the similarities here:

“It is widely believed that Wikileaks has sensitive information about Bank of America, and plans to expose it later this year. This revelation prompted Bank of America to hire the law/lobbying firm Hunton and Williams, which in turn, according to the e-mails posted online by Anonymous, hired HB Gary Federal and other firms to go after Anonymous and supporters of Wikileaks. For instance, one proposal from HB Gary Federal and its associates proposed targeting Salon reporter and Wikileaks-supporter Glenn Greenwald with “actions to sabotage or discredit” him.”

Almost like clockwork, one of these “private security” firms, Palantir, doesn’t like the exposure and heat their reprehensible attempts to attack journalists and whistleblowers is generating:

“Dr. Alex Karp, the Co-Founder and CEO of Palantir Technologies, one of three data intelligence firms who worked to develop a systematic plan of attack against WikiLeaks and their supporters, has severed all ties with HBGary Federal and issued an apology to reporter Glenn Greenwald.”

Perhaps the most frightening and ridiculous aspect of this story from the Tech Herald is contained in the following sentence:

“Hunton and Williams were recommended to Bank of America’s general counsel by the Department of Justice, according to the email chain viewed by The Tech Herald”

It’s incredibly sad that a government organization called “The Department of Justice” is now in the business of recommending preferred methods of sabotage to protect businesses from the consequences of their malfeasance and misdeeds.  The roles have switched.  The government is now constituted to protect the “Justice” inherent in any imperious, damaging and self-serving thing big-business chooses to do to or impose on the actual citizens and subjects of the United States.

Is this Democracy?    The people at ThinkProgress and Wikileaks are trying to do what the mainstream media gave up on doing/got co-opted out of doing a long time ago, which is protecting the rights and interests of the people from plunder, war, war-profiteering and greedy, dangerous, rampant corporate negligence.  At this juncture in history, if you cannot see what is disappearing and/or being outright stolen from you then you are beyond help and beneath contempt.

I’m going to be recalibrating what I write on this blog.  The focus is going to shift to more in-depth examinations of history and the first installment should be up soon.

update:

Here is a must-read column by Glenn Greenwald detailing his take on this whole disgraceful matter.