Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, March 28, 2016

Today's GOP AZLeg Dog and Pony Show on the Presidential Primary Election debacle

The discontent was more than palpable today at the GOP-controlled Arizona Legislature's hearing on last week's Presidential Preference Election debacle.

People from all over the country and perhaps all over the world watched Michelle Ugenti-Rita's Dog and Pony show. See for yourself.




A friend in New York City watched the hearing and said Ugenti sounded tough. It's ALL an act. And the stooge calling the names of the next people to testify was J.D. Mesnard.

For perspective, I give you this tweet,
My friend Laura disappoints me grievously because she won't listen to sound reasoning about the Democratic Presidential candidates. But she's on the mark with this tweet.

At 13 minutes into the video (you can FF if you want), Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Larkin, responding to comments by Air Force veteran Dean Palmer's testimony, calls attention to recent legislation, already signed into law (HB2023, sponsored ONLY by the person chairing this hearing). It's a bill for which this committee chair is responsible, which makes it a felony to assist a voter in turning in early ballots. A voting law and procedure change that would not have been possible before SCOTUS nullified Voting Rights Act preclearance.

-----

Arizona Republic editorial columnist Elvia Diaz wrote today about the well-orchestrated plan to keep Arizona Latinos from voting.
To some, forcing voters to wait five hours to cast a ballot in last Tuesday’s Arizona presidential primary was merely the result of a colossal bureaucratic mistake [ed. I would consider the term clusterfuck (aka "Charlie Foxtrot") to be a more fair characterization] by incompetent Maricopa County election officials led by Helen Purcell.
But many others view it as part of a well-orchestrated plan by Republicans to keep minorities out of the election process. It’s a plan that has been slowly and powerfully moving through the political and court system, and which led to the dismantling in 2013 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Specifically, a provision of that act required Arizona and eight other states to get federal approval before changing election laws. Without that legal hurdle, Purcell, the county’s top election official, easily cut the number of polling places from 200 in 2008 to only 60.

Everyone casting a ballot Tuesday was affected by the long lines. But those in the poor and predominantly minority areas were particularly hit hard. How the 60 polling sites were allocated is at the heart of the outcry from Latinos and others who see this as a deliberate move to suppress their vote.
“You can conclude that Helen (Purcell) and everyone in her office suddenly grew massive invasive stupid cells in their brains. Conspiracy of the suddenly very stupid?” wrote former state legislator turned activist Alfredo Gutierrez.
A more legitimate question is: Was this part of the larger Republican national strategy to suppress the vote? I believe that is more likely than the "stupid Helen theory.” [...]
An analysis by The Arizona Republic shows that polling sites were sparse in poorer areas of west Phoenix, Glendale and the southwest Valley. 
The Justice Department should investigate, and most importantly, find ways to keep a watchful eye on Arizona.
It will require an act of Congress to revive a version of the Voting Rights Act, but given that Republicans are in control, that’s unlikely to happen.
Even so, advocates must keep on pressing Uncle Sam to get involved and they need to rally support from moderate Republicans in Arizona to put the brakes on the deliberate campaign against the 1.9 million Hispanics in Arizona and the nearly 300,000 Native Americans. [...]
Advocates and academics have documented concrete examples of discrimination against minority voters since statehood to the March 22 Republican and Democratic presidential preference elections. Those in power have adeptly used cultural and language barriers as a weapon. For instance, in the early 1900s, Arizona enacted its first English literacy test.
“The literacy test was enacted to limit ‘the ignorant Mexican vote’ … As recently as the 1960s, registrars applied the test to reduce the ability of Blacks, Indians and Hispanics to register to vote,” according to historian David R. Berman.
If you think about it, little has changed throughout Arizona’s history. Conservatives have incessantly targeted minorities and typically intensify their efforts during economic recessions or political turmoil.
During the past decade, Arizona lawmakers have gone after Latinos in various ways, including approving anti-immigrant bills that affected not only those living here illegally but their American-citizen relatives who can vote. 
They’ve approved laws designed to make it harder for Latinos and Native Americans to vote by requiring ID at the polls. Many Native Americans, for instance, don’t have a house or street address, which makes it difficult to register or show at the polls with a form of ID
It will take all Latinos voters to cast a ballot to change Arizona’s discriminatory attitudes, and that is what make conservatives most afraid.
-----

Digressing to the headline for this post, the upside is that this story is going national and viral. The downside is that the GOP-controlled legislature will do everything it can think of to tamp down the consternation without making any substantive changes in funding or administration of elections.

You know, the way the Clinton campaign gives lip service to standing up for the rights of working class Americans, while maintaining her allegiance to her corporate special interest owners.

The bottom line is that if we keep the pressure up, the GOP in Arizona will ultimately cave.

-----

And as far as corporate media pushing -- including by explicitly calling for Bernie to drop out of the race and acting as if Hillary has already won --  the likelihood is rapidly increasing that history will repeat itself.


-----

Guess which Helen Purcell and Karen Osborne were in charge of Maricopa County Elections in 2004 when John Dougherty wrote this investigative story?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Gravy Train or Freedom Train: Which Side are YOU On?

Peddlers of mediocre influence in Arizona are still peddlers of influence.

On Tuesday, Arizona voters, at least in Maricopa and Pima Counties, had a hard time getting their votes cast. And there's plenty of blame to go around. Both at the state and county levels. Both the ruling GOP junta and -- even though they exercise near zero influence on public policy and lawmaking in our state, certain elected Democrats.

In the Democratic Presidential Preference Election, the beneficiary of suppressed voter turnout is, by definition, Hillary. She's the one who has the mega donors and Super PACs. She's the one who can get corporate media to bend to her will because corporate media is deathly afraid of a President Bernie Sanders.

This I deduce based on CBS president Les Moonves' declarations about Super PACs and the overt suppression of Bernie's campaign message and refusal to cover legitimately newsworthy Sanders events.

Dr. Cornel West, has drawn the contrast between the Gravy Train and the Freedom Train. I submit that the analogy is NOT limited to Black Americans/politicians.
Speaking to Anderson Cooper ... Professor Cornel West spoke out in support of Bernie Sanders and characterized Hillary Clinton‘s enduring popularity with African-Americans as an issue of “a neo-political, black political class that confuses the gravy train with the freedom train.”
West explained that Sanders’ social progressivism should have made him a much more attractive candidate than Clinton, whom he blasted for her ties to Wall Street, her husband’s policies that led to mass incarceration of African-Americans, her connections to lobbyists for private prisons, and remarks she made in 1996, in which she referred to urban youth as “super-predators” with “no conscience and no empathy.”
Nearly a year ago, Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute published Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. The book begins,

Ask Team Clinton about the flow of tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation (the formal name is the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, originally called the William J. Clinton Foundation) from foreign governments, corporations and financiers and you typically get an interesting explanation: it's a sign of love. "As president, he was beloved around the world, so it should come as no surprise that there has been an outpouring of financial support from around the world to sustain his post-presidential work."
Ask Bill about the tens of millions of dollars he has made in speaking fees around the world, paid for by the same cast of characters, and you will get an equally charitable explanation: it's evidence of his desire to help people. By giving these highly paid speeches, Clinton says, " I try to help people think about what's going on and organize their lives accordingly.
Millions of dollars as a sign of pure affection, millions more for helping people think about their lives. By this logic, politicians who raise millions of dollars a year must be the most beloved people in America -- and the most charitable.
The reality is that most of what happens in American politics is transactional. People look for ways to influence those in power by throwing money in their direction. Politicians are all too happy to vacuum up contributions from supporters and people who want access or something in return. After politicians leave office, they often trade on their relationships and previous positions to enrich themselves and their families.
Clinton Cash ends,
Hillary's apparent involvement in these transactions is even more troubling. While Bill was a private citizen, Hillary was still a government official. Her tenures as a senator and as secretary of state are marked by an alarming pattern of large money flows: the sources of the funds, the amounts, and the timing were frequently suspect. Many payments occurred as Hillary was grappling with vital national security questions involving everything from uranium to the Keystone XL pipeline.
In fact, the money flow did not slow down when Hillary became America's chief diplomat. On the contrary, it accelerated, especially the funds from overseas. And the funds came from a collection of troubling sources: foreign governments, third world oligarchs, and foreign corporations. The biggest paydays came not from countries like Great Britain or Germany, but from countries and industries with cultures where bribery and corruption are common and occur on a massive scale. [...]
The Clintons are perhaps the most politically sophisticated public figures of their generation. They know how things work in the corridors of power and around the world; they know that foreign governments are trying to influence American foreign policy; and they know that bribery is rampant around the world. They have numerous avenues for making money. Some of those avenues might not be as lucrative as giving a $700,000 speech in Nigeria, but they would be much cleaner. 
Even if nothing illegal occurred, one has to wonder about the political judgment involved. Surely the mere appearance of selling American power and influence to foreign interests should be enough to cause a former US president -- and a possible future one -- to steer well clear of such potentially embarrassing entanglements. "Bribery interferes with trade, investment, and development," Hillary Clinton said at the OECD's fiftieth-anniversary forum in 2011. "It undermines good governance and encourages greater corruption. And of course, it is morally wrong -- and far too common."
On that we can all agree.



The Washington Post declared about Clinton Cash,
When Schweizer's book hits stores Tuesday, heads in Washington are going to explode.
Despite the prophecy, it appears the book didn't cause near the scandal Bill and Hillary deserve. The fact of the matter is they are both masters of enchantment. And they've got key Arizona Democratic leaders under their spell.

If it weren't so, those people would be more interested in strategizing to gain influence over the GOP at the state capital rather than cheering on Hillary Clinton for mesmerizing unsuspecting voters.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Who controls what Americans believe?

Fictional allegories can sometimes explain aspects of our lives. Corporate media, no matter how much we push back against it these days, exerts astounding influence. If you want to understand it, this clip might help.



A couple of years ago, CBS honcho Les Moonves infamously declared,
"Super-PACs May Be Bad for America, But They're Very Good for CBS" [...]
...something Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS Corporation, said at an entertainment law conference last year. Moonves was understandably over the moon about the rise of super-PACs: In 2012, he explained, the network's profits were expected to soar by $180 million thanks to political ads.
And it's not just CBS that's riding high thanks to political ad spending. TV stations in battleground states are magnets for ad spending, and they're driving a new wave of consolidation in the broadcast industry, leaving a handful of big media companies well-positioned to reap hundreds of millions during the 2014 midterm elections and, especially, the 2016 presidential race.
Let's set aside the frustration Progressives are facing today. Many Americans who might want to be Progressives seem to be locked in on Plutocracy's most powerful couple in our country -- Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Corporate media -- a capitalistic mechanism/institution -- controls the information most Americans are spoon fed about society, about government, about the world in general. It has engulfed us.

Consider the 2014 book, Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.
Blending vivid reporting from the 2012 campaign trail and deep perspective from decades covering American and international media and politics, political journalist John Nichols and media critic Robert W. McChesney explain how US elections are becoming controlled, predictable enterprises that are managed by a new class of consultants who wield millions of dollars and define our politics as never before. As the money gets bigger—especially after the Citizens United ruling—and journalism, a core check and balance on the government, declines, American citizens are in danger of becoming less informed and more open to manipulation.
In the 1980s, heavily influenced by a fundamentalist Christian sect (which, in turn, was heavily influenced by the John Birch Society), I voted Republican. Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush got my votes for president in that decade.

Someday perhaps I'll write the story of my political conversion, but for now suffice it to say I changed in the 1990s. By February 1992 (before he took the lead in the Democratic primary), I predicted based on a strong hunch, that Bill Clinton would be our next president. It wasn't until 2008 that I had a similar hunch, equally strong, just as early in the cycle, telling friends I believed Obama would be elected.

My hunches didn't come out of the blue. I recognized indicators, including how those two candidates interacted with voters.

I've been following Bernie Sanders for years because of his take on representing the real interests of American voters. In the fall of 2011 I raised several thousand dollars for the Arizona Advocacy Network because Bernie would be speaking at its February 2012 fundraising dinner.

The United States needs President Bernie Sanders.

Corporate media, however, is deathly afraid of Sanders.

The hunch I had in 1992 and 2008 returned in 2015. But something far bigger has reared its ugly head in opposition to his candidacy. Far bigger than the incumbent President Bush I. Bigger than Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008. Corporate media has removed all pretense of democracy from the American political system.

Corporate media has a love/hate relationship with Donald Drumpf. It's addicted to him on one hand. On the other, it knows that regardless of how serious (or not) he might be with his fascist schtick, Drumpf's violent rhetoric is dangerous.

So, that leaves Hillary as the only candidate the plutocracy deems acceptable. And it has been doing everything possible to promote her, despite the specter of indictment hanging over her. Well, really it's been doing everything possible to suppress Sanders' ability to reach the American people with his message.

If Clinton's elected, she will control the Department of Justice and won't allow it to prosecute her for crimes despite the fact that the FBI has been engaged in an intense investigation of her communications security breaches for several months. Few people believe the GOP-controlled Congress will impeach her, despite their overwhelming animosity toward her.

The Democratic establishment seems to be willfully blind to the very high likelihood that Clinton's negative favorability ratings will suppress voter turnout. Some formerly awake Arizona Democrats acknowledge that voter turnout is the key to chances for any wins in the November election. But they've called me delusional for spelling out my belief that a Hillary Clinton nomination will suppress turnout in November.

As if all they have to do is get enough people to canvass door-to-door and make those annoying phone calls to voters and all will be well.

People, Republicans know they've got Democrats over a barrel. They've already won. All the wheel spinning activity in the world won't convince enough voters to change the course of history.

Democrats rationalize this naïveté by telling themselves that the negative reporting about her is just the GOP throwing mud. Therefore, it can't be true. Really? It's can't be true? And you're trusting this lame notion?

They're in shocking levels of denial about the degree to which corporate special interests will control her decisions that will impact their lives. The truth is plain as the nose on any of your faces. It's out there. If you want to know it, you can find it. Not in corporate media, but it's available on the internet and social media.

I have to fucking give up. But that can be a good thing.

Letting go, I know if it's going to happen, it will happen.

But if corporate media wins, we have to regroup and refocus. But don't expect me to get on board for Hillary. That ship has sailed. If my understanding of her being owned by Wall Street is delusional, then me getting on board to support her campaign won't change a damn thing.

If you want a chance to change America, there's only one candidate willing to stand against the plutocracy/oligarchy. Or are you the frog put in a pot of gradually heating water?


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Trevor Noah: "This should have been easy for Hillary"

In 2016, even though there are massive problems in our country that should have been easily fixable based on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, we actually ARE seeing the glass ceiling for women running for president being shattered. For that, I'm thankful.

Corporate media has continued to repeat the mantra that Hillary Clinton will be crowned the Democratic nominee for President. And the Democratic National Committee, led by Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has done its best to rig the campaign in Hillary's favor. That's a widely accepted observation based on the last 8 or 9 months. But for all of that, Hillary seems hell bent on losing.

Repeatedly making unforced errors, now Trevor Noah, successor to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, demonstrates the problem.





Bernie's not giving up. Bernie's supporters are not giving up. The MATH and the MAP indicate Hillary's best days, in this campaign, may already be behind her.

Some people seem to think Hillary's just an average politician. I read that on Facebook yesterday. But does the average politician, with her "average politician" husband amass a personal fortune of $125 Million as a result of a lifetime of public service?

Where'd that fortune come from? Representing YOUR interests?

Yeah, I'm glad the glass ceiling of a smart, driven woman politician running for the most powerful elected office in the world has been shattered.

Perhaps in an election cycle in the not too distant future, a smart woman politician driven to passionately represent Main Street Americans will run.

Until then, we have the next best thing -- Bernie Sanders.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Judge rules Atty Gen MUST examine Stump's 20,000+ text messages.

Poor Trash Burner Bob. He claims the Checks and Balances Project is only harassing him. If only Bobby could see past the nose on his face. How many other investigative organizations are seeking disclosure of dubious communications by high-ranking government officials with plutocrats and oligarchs? I mean, besides utility regulators.

Just before Christmas, One Wisconsin Now released information confirming that a state Supreme Court judge appointed by the infamous Scott Walker, provided fraudulent documents in response to a public records request.
MADISON, Wis. — Based on her comments in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Rebecca Bradley, appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court by Gov. Scott Walker in September, violated the state’s open record laws by providing falsified calendars to One Wisconsin Now in response to a request for her work calendar. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said the organization is consulting with legal counsel about potential action against Walker’s thrice-appointed judge.
Fast forward to last week. Judge Randall Warner issued a ruling on disclosure issues for Stump.

Here's the five page ruling with key excerpts below for your reading pleasure.
Plaintiff Peterson brought this special action alleging that Defendants failed to produce and/or preserve public records. At issue are text messages on Arizona Corporation Commissioner Robert Stump’s government-issued phone. Plaintiff alleges that at least some of the text messages concern Commission business and, therefore, are public records.
Commissioner Stump concedes he regularly deleted text messages from his phone, but claims none of the deleted texts was a non-privileged public record he was required to preserve. Despite being deleted, some of those texts have been forensically recovered. The Attorney General’s office, as part of an investigation concerning a different Commissioner, examined Commissioner Stump’s phone and recovered several thousand deleted messages.
That's the first two paragraphs, the judge's summary of the background of the case. Now, we're supposed to take Stump at his word that he was telling the truth... that it was just peachy for him to delete the text messages.

Does that jibe with exercise of authority (power) by elected government officials (in our country or any other country) throughout history? As Dr. Cornel West is known to say, "I was born at night, but not last night."

The ruling continues:
... the court has no authority to simply adopt the Special Master’s report. Rather, it must review factual findings under the clearly erroneous standard and legal conclusions de novo. Ariz. R. Civ. P. 53(h). See also Griffis v. Pinal County, 215 Ariz. 1, 3, 156 P.3d 418, 420 (2007) (whether a document is a public record is a question of law). It cannot do this without reviewing disputed records.
That's where Stumpy where wants to hide important parts of the judge's decision. Ol' Bob just wanted the whole matter to go away and claimed that could and would be the case if the Special Master's report were simply just adopted by the court.
Yet it would be inappropriate for the court to review all recovered text messages in the first instance to decide which are even responsive to Plaintiff’s request. The court understands why the parties wanted a neutral to do this, but their agreement does not obviate their obligations under the public records statutes. Rather, the Attorney General as custodian must first identify which text messages are responsive, and which constitute public records and/or are privileged. Only after doing this is an in camera review by the court appropriate.
The court will therefore order the Attorney General, in cooperation with Commissioner Stump and the Commission, to determine which recovered text messages are responsive to Plaintiff’s request, and of those which are public records and/or privileged. The court will then review the records that are in dispute. Because whether a record is public or privileged is a legal question, there is no benefit to having the Special Master involved further at this time.
What did Stump have to say about Warner's decision?
What kind of fools does Stump take his Twitter followers to be?

You'd think Stump has never been to court before. Does Trash Burner Bob really believe this is over? Does he really believe the Checks and Balances Project suffered a defeat when Warner issued a ruling that might make King Solomon praise its wisdom?

Or, is Bob simply dangling shiny objects in front of unsuspecting fans who don't have the experience or judgment to read between the lines? I'll go with another conclusion. It looks like wishful thinking and the Stumpy is trying to convince himself.

Scott Peterson said this in a release,

“Today’s court ruling is a step backward for Commissioner Stump and those who want to diminish the public’s right to know what their elected officials are doing.

“The defendants wanted our lawsuit dismissed, but the court said no. Commissioner Stump must be concerned as the judge has not said Stump’s phone cannot be reexamined. He said no facts have been developed yet and the defendants have not answered our complaint.”

It's not implausible to see that additional forensic examination of Stump's phone in the future, conducted by the expert engaged in the Jodi Arias trial, supervised by the Attorney General.

What's clear so far is that the judge isn't buying Stump's bullshit.

-----

Some of you probably already know that Bernie Sanders will be in Phoenix for a rally tomorrow (evening) at the Phoenix Convention Center. Unlike the rally last summer, everyone entering will have to pass through a secret service security check (similar to court access, or airports). The last time I went through one of those was when President Obama spoke in August 2013 at Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee. It DID take hours to get through security at that event. And there were not 10,000 plus in attendance.

So, please come. Please prepare. Don't bring any bags. Doors open at 1 p.m. It might be a good idea to arrive by 3 p.m. I haven't been able to find any more specific information than that.



Saturday, March 12, 2016

#ImWithUs!


Bernie Sanders exemplifies the Servant Leader.

Does his Democratic opponent? Do any of the Republican opponents?

Is this what a servant leader looks like?



"Well, can I talk and then maybe you can listen to what I say...," said the "humble" Presidential hopeful. When the concerned citizen was removed from the room, Clinton said, "Okay, back to the issues. The issues that I think are important." Which, apparently are NOT all of the issues that some everyday citizens think are important.



By the way friends, the movie Inequality for All is now available for viewing online for no additional charge on Amazon Prime for members.



In case you didn't know, or don't remember, Professor Reich endorsed Bernie Sanders for President.
I endorse Bernie Sanders for President of the United States. He’s leading a movement to reclaim America for the many, not the few. And such a political mobilization – a “political revolution,” as he puts it -- is the only means by which we can get the nation back from the moneyed interests that now control so much of our economy and democracy.
This extraordinary concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the very top imperils all else – our economy, our democracy, the revival of the American middle class, the prospects for the poor and for people of color, the necessity of slowing and reversing climate change, and a sensible foreign policy not influenced by the “military-industrial complex,” as President Dwight Eisenhower once called it. It is the fundamental prerequisite: We have little hope of achieving positive change on any front unless the American people are once again in control...
I believe Bernie Sanders is the agent of change this nation so desperately needs.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Hillary Clinton, clandestine plutocrat?

Maybe clandestine isn't the right word? However, it connotes a sense that a common perception among Democrats whose hearts are set on installing a woman president in 2017, is a product of subterfuge. But there's no stretch being made when defining Hillary Clinton as a "plutocrat." Plutocracy is defined:
  1. Government by the wealthy.
  2. A wealthy class that controls a government.
  3. A government or state in which the wealthy rule.
Is it a stretch to connect these dots?

How and why this has not been raised as problematic for the candidate and DNC demands serious contemplation.

The NYTimes review goes on,
“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.
His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.
Then it provides clues as to why this is not the firestorm it should be among Democrats nationwide.
In the long lead up to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign announcement, aides proved adept in swatting down critical books as conservative propaganda, including Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud,” about tensions between the Clintons and the Obamas, and Daniel Halper’s “Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.”
But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book. 

First clue: Clinton aides have proven adept at swatting down criticism. That's ongoing. Among the tactics, longtime Clinton sycophant David Brock purchased Blue Nation Review last fall so that they could have their own (at least) semi-credible campaign organ masquerading as legitimate news. The March 9, 2016 post at BNR goes heavy on claiming that any and all criticism of the candidate is sexist and therefore should be immediately and totally disregarded.

That seems to be working, at least among older Americans. Millennials are the ones facing massive higher education debt and lack of jobs that provide a living wage and therefore not so easily falling for the subterfuge.

Second clue: NYTimes, Washington Post and Fox News don't seem to have been making the story lines in the book stand out as salient for older voters. The other major tactic employed by the "establishment," aka the plutocracy is to attack the credibility of the author. Bernie uses the term "oligarchy" which is similar but hasn't seemed to stir the same sense of ominous exploitation.

Causes and consequences of plutocracy, a response to an excerpt from Freeland's book,
Today’s plutocracy, as described by Chrystia Freeland, can make for an ugly spectacle. It is an increasingly stateless and distant class. The very rich may sometimes dress scruffily or express an affection for common tastes, but their wealth naturally separates them from the rest of the public. It isolates them physically, as they flit from palace to palace in private jets. And it isolates them psychically, as they grow comfortable with the view that their wealth is not merely the fruit of talent and work but the mark of superiority.
Their wealth and isolation often contributes to a shortfall in empathy (or exacerbates a pre-existing condition, which may have helped raise them to plutocratic status in the first place). They are more likely to feel deserving of rewards, well-earned or ill-gotten. And they are less likely to feel a twinge of hesitation or regret when inflicting hardship on business partners or employees in the name of efficiency and profit.
Ask yourself honestly, setting aside her campaign rhetoric, has she at all demonstrated a sense of empathy with anyone during the campaign? Is this empathy? Did Hillary show even a twinge of hesitation in dismissing the concerns of this brave young woman?



Also from the NYTimes story,
Conservative “super PACs” plan to seize on “Clinton Cash,” and a pro-Democrat super PAC has already assembled a dossier on Mr. Schweizer, a speechwriting consultant to former President George W. Bush and a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution who has contributed to the conservative website Breitbart.com, to make the case that he has a bias against Mrs. Clinton. [He also appeared on 60 Minutes to discuss campaign finance and how it is abused by politicians of both parties. - Ed.]
And the newly assembled Clinton campaign team is planning a full-court press to diminish the book as yet another conservative hit job.
My hunch is that our country/society's long, deep and dark history of discrimination of many types, including sexism (it was more than a century into US history before women successfully claimed the constitutional right to vote) provides a backdrop on which the Clinton campaign and political operatives like Brock attach those claims.

Combine information overload with massive personal stress that pervades working families and it becomes practically impossible for people -- unless they have the time and curiosity to investigate for themselves -- to discern otherwise blatantly obvious facts, truth and reality.

Besides Clinton Cash, another investigation that would assist voters in overcoming the blocks to proper understanding of the ramifications of this presidential race is Chrystia Freeland's 2013 book, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.

The tragedy will be when, hypothetically, Hillary becomes president and takes the country into its next military adventure. Nothing could be done to stop her short of a Republican Congress successfully impeaching her. Congress, in my opinion, would be inclined to impeach almost immediately as a result of the private email server scandal if not for the (manufactured) need to "protect our national interests" abroad. Remember, impeachment is a political process that does NOT require judicial determination of criminal violations.

For sure, that's only a hypothetical scenario. But it's plausible.

Beyond plausible, Clinton is known to be hawkish (a neocon).

Young adults are decreasingly programmed solely by corporate media.
Millennials mostly encounter news through social media, but surprisingly the range of topics they consume is wide-ranging. Millennials consume varied content types with diverse opinions and sources. On average, Millennials regularly follow about 10 different news topics. About half of those topics fit into the “hard news” category, including politics and civil rights issues. Millennials are also exposed to a variety of opinions about those topics. 70 percent of Millennials report that their social media feeds have a good mix of opinions, and 63 percent choose to search for more information about the news they encounter. 
This likely is one significant factor (besides their goals being different) to account for the disparity between voting patterns as compared to older voters.

The bottom line for me is that corporate media doesn't want you to understand the ramifications of plutocracy in general or that, in the Democratic presidential primary, the choice has never been more starkly between granting more power to the plutocracy or reclaiming it for the People.

Hillary supporters might want to do some soul searching. If I were them, I'd want to figure out how throwing such a guilt trip, typically by suggesting that ...
... many in the Bernie camp would rather burn down the country rather than vote for Hillary... 
... in November could possibly be convincing.

Besides the arrogant supposition that Hillary is STILL inevitable, wouldn't it be more prudent to explore WHY large numbers of Bernie supporters are taking the stand against Hillary?




Wouldn't you really want to know what is motivating the people who adamantly demand taking the federal government back from the plutocrats?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How can we tell when Bob Stump is lying?

Here's Howie Fischer's blow by blow account of this morning's hearing.
PHOENIX -- Utility regulator Bob Stump deliberately destroyed thousands of text messages from his state-issued phone specifically to hide what he was doing from the public, an attorney charged in court on Tuesday.
"We have a public official conducting public business on a public phone,' Dan Barr, who represents the Checks and Balances Project, told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner. He wants the judge to issue an order essentially censuring Stump for what even commission attorneys have admitted was his routine practice of deleting emails.
But Tim LaSota, a private attorney representing Stump in the litigation, called Barr's claims "pure speculation.'
Well, since LaSota's paid to represent Stump's interests rather than presenting an objective take on the situation, what else would you expect him to say? Fact is, rather than speculation taken out of thin air, counsel for Checks and Balances Project director Scott Peterson made reasonable inferences* based on known facts. For example, Sean Noble -- one of the people with whom Stump engaged in clandestine communication via text message -- is a known agent of the Koch Brothers network of Dark Money operators.

Claims of "pure speculation" to dismiss Stump's 20,000 text messages as ONLY being social and not about conducting the People's business, seem ironic. That is, especially in light of Stump's invocation of Randy Kendrick, wife of Arizona Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick, in a tweet yesterday.
From the Washington Post (the story linked in Stump's tweet),
Randy Kendrick, an influential conservative donor based in Arizona, is rallying other wealthy contributors to finance a last-ditch campaign against GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, saying she has been appalled by his incendiary remarks about immigrants and his reluctance to denounce white supremacists in a television interview last month.
Kendrick, who is active in the Koch political network and is the wife of Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick, said in an interview that she was moved to act by the accumulation of Trump’s provocative rhetoric.
Journalist Jane Mayer's current best selling non-fiction account, Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, references Randy Kendrick several times,
As Obama was put on the defensive about the economy, another line of attack was stealthily attracting the attention of many of the same wealthy financial backers. At the Kochs' secretive January summit in Palm Springs, one of the group's largest donors, Randy Kendrick, posed a question... wanted to know what the group planned to do to stop Obama from overhauling America's health-care system. (page 185)
The ellipsis in that quote represents narrative that describes who Randy Kendrick and her husband Ken are and what they do in Arizona. Mayer cites some beneficiaries of Koch and Kendrick money.
... the Kendricks were horrified by the election of Obama. They were charter members of the Kochs' donor network, having written at least one seven-figure check. Their generosity had been a two-way street. They had supported institutions that the Kochs favored, such as the Institute for Humane Studies and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The Kochs had meanwhile supported the "Freedom Center" at the University of Arizona that they founded, where the Kendrick Professor of Philosophy taught "freedom" to college students.
Would it be "pure speculation" or a "reasonable inference" to suggest that Bob Stump is more interested in the "freedom" of Arizona Public Service to gouge ratepayers and kill distributed generation than that of captive ratepayers?

Even Arizona Republic's resident conservative editorial columnist Bob Robb recognizes the problem.
The Arizona Corporation Commission was designed to protect captive ratepayers against being abused by monopoly providers. There will be a political day of reckoning for APS’ attempt to distort a process intended to provide a layer of protection against it, and then playing coy about it.
But I digress.

From the Verde Independent story quoted at the top of this post,

He pointed out that there were actually two requests of the commission.
The first was of Stump's emails over a 10 1/2 month period ending in mid 2014. That produced 232 documents, but only one of which was actually written by Stump.
Yet over that same period, a log showed that Stump exchanged more than 20,000 texts.
"It became pretty clear what was happening is that Commissioner Stump was using his state-issued phone to conduct state business by text message,' Barr said.
"That wasn't an accident,' he continued. "If he had used his corporation commission account, the emails would have been on the server, could have easily been maintained as was the statutory duty, and could have easily have been produced by the corporation commission.' [...]
"We're in this situation because Commissioner Stump created this situation,' he told Warner. "He did it in a way so the corporation commission could not preserve those records, he did it in a way so he could illegally delete those records, and then saying, too bad, so sad to anyone making the public records request.'
All that left Warner wondering how he could adjudicate the case and determine if Stump had broken the law. The judge said Barr's request essentially asks him to determine that certain records which are no longer available actually were public records that should have been maintained. [...]
Barr is separately asking Warner for a new review of the text messages that were provided to retired Judge David Cole, the special master chosen to see what was recovered, who determined that none of what he did see was public. Barr said his client is willing to pay for a forensic expert to see if more could be recovered.
[Judge] Warner gave no indication when he will rule.
----- 

* The term "Reasonable Inferences" means "conclusions which are regarded as logical by reasonable people in the light of their experience in life." [Lannon v. Hogan, 719 F.2d 518, 521 (1st Cir. Mass. 1983)]


A related term, an "Adverse Inference" is

... generally is a legal inference, adverse to the concerned party, made from a party's silence or the absence of requested evidence. For example, as a sanction for spoliation of evidence, a court may instruct the jury it could draw an inference that the evidence contained in the destroyed documents would have been unfavorable.
Is it any wonder that this pathetic excuse for an elected official (Stump) resorts to using Twitter to spew shiny object propaganda hoping to keep voters and law enforcement/courts from making adverse inferences about his violations of Arizona's Public Records Laws?

Can Trash Burner Bob Stump serve two masters? And will he successfully skirt public records law? Court hearing Tuesday morning

The controversy over disclosure of Corporation Commissioner (Trash Burner) Bob Stump's text messages pursuant to a public records request has gone on for more than a year. Stump denies that those messages, and his social relationships with people who have high stakes interests before the Arizona Corporation Commission, have compromised his integrity or the responsibility he has to protect citizens and ratepayers. He thinks he can serve both the ratepayers AND his intimate friends in high places at Arizona Public Service.

-----

According to a minute entry issued by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner,
Oral argument having been requested,
IT IS ORDERED setting oral argument on (1) Defendants’ February 1, 2016 Joint Motion to Adopt Master’s Report as the Court’s Findings of Fact and to Dismiss Count One of the Complaint; (2) Plaintiff’s February 3, 2016 Motion to Modify the Master’s Final Report Pursuant to Rule 53(h); and (3) Defendants Robert Stump and Arizona Corporation Commission’s February 2, 2016 Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss for March 8, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. in this division.
It has been more than a year since Scott Peterson, director of the Checks and Balances Project, first filed the public records request seeking access to the thousands of taxpayer-funded text messages (Corporation Commissioner) Trash Burner Bob Stump exchanged with Special Interest functionaries who conduct business before the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Over the course of the year, the Corp Comm and Commissioner Stump have vigorously stonewalled and obscured the issues, claiming that the (thousands of) messages in question were ALL personal in nature. Those messages were/are on phones that allegedly had been destroyed. Therefore, they claim, none are subject to disclosure according to Arizona Public Record Law.

Checks and Balances Project issued a statement containing the following on Monday:
Lawyers for the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) will try tomorrow to have a judge help the ACC continue blocking public access to thousands of work-related text messages on Bob Stump’s taxpayer-funded cell phone. But Stump and Commission lawyers seem to have already lost in the court of public opinion, if a new poll by Pulse Opinion Research is any indication.
The survey of 500 likely Arizona voters March 1-3, 2016 found:

  • An overwhelming 79% majority want Stump’s text messages released.
  • A 56% majority says they do not believe Stump’s claims that the thousands of messages on his taxpayer-funded cell phone were of a personal nature.
  • Stump has a negative approval rating of 40% disapprove vs. 28% approve.
  • And, Stump’s conduct and the ACC staff’s actions to fend off inquiries into him seem to have hardened public views beyond Stump. Majorities of over 80% think it’s both wrong for utilities to spend money on behalf of Commissioners’ political campaigns, and that Commissioners have been somewhat or heavily influenced by the state’s utilities.
“For 15 months, Bob Stump has evaded basic public records requests. Instead, he and Commission staff have hired high-priced lawyers and PR people with no-bid contracts to fend off public accountability,” said Scott Peterson, Executive Director of the Checks and Balances Project, which commissioned the poll. “It’s pretty clear that Arizonans are unhappy with their conduct.”
Few people believe Stump’s assertion that thousands of text messages to APS lobbyists and campaign operatives were just for personal purposes – like arranging a date to the symphony.
“Unfortunately, the Commission is still fighting public access to public records in court – all at taxpayer expense. It’s unfortunate we have to go to court to get basic records from a taxpayer-funded cell phone, but Stump and the Commission’s senior staff have left us little choice,” said Peterson. “They don't seem to understand that accountability and transparency are part of public governance.”
Context for the Hearing
Several parts of the events of the last 15 months are relevant heading into tomorrow’s court hearing:

  • Public records we obtained show that in the months leading up to Arizona’s primary election on August 26, 2014, Stump was in extensive contact with many players in the dark money election scheme that helped elect pro-Arizona Public Service candidates.
  • Arizona Public Service is widely believed to have funded much of that effort.
  • Text logs show that Commissioner Stump exchanged more than 20,000 text messages during a 10-month period. Many were with public officials, candidates for public office, or other people with business before the Commission.
  • The metadata from the text messages suggests Stump not only was in contact with, but might also have illegally coordinated the 2014 election with APS’ Barbara Lockwood; and Scot Mussi, the head of the dark money electoral group, Arizona Free Enterprise Club.
  • On July 22, 2015, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich seized Stump’s phone from a safe at the ACC. He claimed it was to further his investigation into a whistleblower’s charges against Stump and former Chairman Gary Pierce.
  • Stump’s stories about the number and fate of his taxpayer-funded cell phones have changed and have been contradicted by ACC records.
  • We are only seeking to review 3,598 work-related text messages from Mr. Stump’s iPhone3, which he claims to have thrown away.
  • In December 2015, C&BP Attorney Dan Barr provided Judge David Cole a spreadsheet with the metadata – dates, times, durations, sender and receiver – of the 3,598 text messages in question.
  • Acting in the role of “special master,” Judge Cole issued a two-paragraph report in late January 2016 that found, “none of the text messages” that the Attorney General’s investigators downloaded from Stump’s iPhone6 are “subject to production.”
  • Unfortunately, the two-paragraph report didn’t address a number of issues, such as whether he reviewed any of the 3,598 text messages we are seeking.
  • If Judge Cole did review the 3,598 text messages, his report does not say how many nor does it explain his reasoning for withholding any of them.
  • We know Commissioner Stump texted with APS lobbyist Barbara Lockwood 56 times and 1,786 times with Lon Huber, a consultant to the state’s ratepayer advocate RUCO, among many other players in the scheme.
  • Yet, according to Special Master Cole, he did not receive any of these messages to review.
  • Cole told the Arizona Republic that the text messages he examined “either weren’t a match” to the more than 3,500 on our list “or they were with a person that was not one of the targets.”
  • “There are at least four big concerns about Judge Cole’s two-paragraph report. Did the Attorney General give him the roughly 3,500 text messages Stump exchanged with players in the dark money electoral scheme? If so, did Judge Cole review them? If he did review them, how could none of them pertain to public business? Which, if any, of the latest forensic technologies were used to retrieve the ‘deleted’ messages?” asked Peterson.

Not only will counsel for C&BP argue the incompleteness of the report, but it will also offer to pay all costs connected with a proposed analysis by forensic analyst Bryan Neumeister to, with court and Attorney General's Office supervision, determine if the extraction previously conducted by a Pinal County Sheriff's Department analyst obtained all of the text messages on the devices in question.

As I see it, if the judge values the integrity of our constitutional state government and utility regulatory systems, he will direct the parties to conduct the additional review. The people of Arizona both demand it and deserve it.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Can Hillary serve two masters?

This evening, Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated in Flint, Michigan. Flint is ground zero for a set of disastrous consequences from more than three decades of Draconian government belt tightening and tax cuts. That way of "governing" has caused a once prosperous nation to undermine the Social Contract. In this case, degradation of municipal utilities which now poisons citizens.

Corporate media has made a big deal about the farce which we know as the Republican primary campaign for President. Last week's Republican debate presented the shiny object of its front runner stooping to boast that he has a big penis.

Tonight, toward the end of the debate, Hillary even tried to deflect attention to that problematic and quite pathetic incident last week. How much easier is it to make fun of the Republicans than to put any critical thought into who the Democratic Party should nominate for President?

But I paid attention. From the start, Hillary put her intellect, determination and leadership style on display. It was all about impressing people with her vast knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of the federal government. And she boasted that she will do this... and she will direct these agencies to do that... and she has done the other thing.

In stark, but perhaps subtle contrast, Sen. Sanders consistently answered in terms of what each question means to the people. For example, lauding the activist instincts of audience questioners about determination to stand up and demand the Flint water contamination problem be solved.

That contrast in mindset and leadership style between the two candidates was on full display the entire two hours.

Let me tell you a story about my activist roots. Hopefully, you will better understand why it is so important that we elect Bernie Sanders.

-----

At 34, I married for the first time and became a step-dad all at once. My new son, four years old at the time and not yet in Kindergarten, was (is) a pretty bright kid. He was multiplying two and three-digit numbers in his head before he set foot in a public school classroom.

These days, Peter is a rocket scientist/systems engineer for a DC space contractor. But I digress.

His mother and I were not able to afford private schooling for either him or our daughter. What could I do to get the most value out of the public school system, which 25 years ago already in Arizona was plenty strapped for cash? Intuitively, we knew we couldn't just sit back and let our children coast, being bored and becoming disillusioned with education.

Living in Ahwatukee, I regularly took the bus to work at a state government agency where I worked as an accountant. In 1991 during my commute, listening to the local public radio station, an announcement of a meeting of concerned parents intrigued me. At the administrative offices of the Kyrene School District, Rob Melnick, at the time director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, would present the results of a survey on parent satisfaction with schools in the district.

The governing board meeting room was filled to overflowing with more than 200 people concerned about their children's education. I don't remember many details of what I said, but I took a turn at the mic expressing my frustrations. This much I do recall. I had cotton mouth the entire time I spoke. And when I was finished, Onnie Shekerjian got my attention and invited me to participate in the Kyrene Parents' Association. That's also when I first met Laura Knaperek, a wonderful friend and activist who just last week passed away.

That meeting in the Kyrene administrative office was a turning point for me and likely many others.

As a result of that event, parents continued organizing. The district superintendent, an official with a strong academic background who -- instead of wanting to incorporate the partnership of parents -- proposed Blue Ribbon Panels of experts to study the problems parents had. It was all about her. The hundreds of concerned parents instead demanded it be all about their (our) children. Did the Blue Ribbon experts know more about our children than we did?

It wasn't long before the school board accepted her resignation and began the search for a new superintendent.

Onnie and Laura both later served on the Kyrene Governing Board. Laura went on to serve in the Arizona House of Representatives, including as chair of the Appropriations Committee. Onnie later served on the Tempe City Council.

In 1998, I ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Kyrene board, later spent about three years working in the Arizona Capitol Times newsroom (covering the state legislature and writing thousands of summaries of pending legislation). In December 2010, I started writing the Arizona Eagletarian with an initial focus on the 2011 Independent Redistricting cycle for drawing legislative and Congressional district lines.

Grassroots organizing catalyzed needed change in the schools when my children were young. An added benefit is that experience provided the foundation for later positive civic engagement.

Isn't it time we stop worrying about which set of genitals the presidential candidate has and instead prioritize leadership style? Hillary Clinton is extremely smart. I'll grant that. But she's dead wrong about the influence she cannot escape from the special interests who fund her campaign.

A few decades ago, Arizona State Prof. emeritus Robert Cialdini observed it scientifically. Two millenia ago, the writer of the Gospel of Matthew documented the words of Jesus Christ,
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
The only special interest Bernie Sanders owes loyalty to is YOU as one person, the voter.

ILLUSTRATION BY EDWARD SOREL

The ONLY thing that will change my mind... or increase the chances of Hillary Clinton having any legitimacy as a potential POTUS is if she figures how to get her campaign funds the same way Bernie does. I don't see that happening.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Futures Markets in Constitutional Rights?

Jane Anne Morris (author of Gaveling Down the Rabble) wrote the following essay, published in the Earth Island Journal, in 1997.

-----

It's the best of times, if you're a rapacious corporation with money. It's the worst of times, if you're a citizen with democratic pretensions, or a living thing. Or a rock. Especially if you contain ore.
Feeling cash-poor? Already sold your organs? Had your crop seeds patented by a transnational? Don't miss out on the growing market for selling your rights, individually or as a community. And the prospective buyers are... you guessed it, transnational corporations.
In Wisconsin, under the homey phrase "local agreement," corporations have found a way to buy up the constitutional rights of whole cities and counties, once and for all. This is how it works:
MegaMining Corp. (MMC) proposes a contract to a local government body -- city council, county board, Native American tribal council, whatever. Then the corporation runs roughshod over open-government laws and exerts all the pressure that a multibillion-dollar corporation can bring to bear on a handful of local officials.
After months or years of pressure, the officials sign the local agreement and the following provisions become law:
* The local government gives MMC the right to mine, as long as it obtains state and federal permits (a breeze, if history is any guide).
* The local government promises to say that MMC "conforms with all local ordinances" when asked about MMC's mine permit changes or the adequacy of the company's reclamation plan.
* The local government promises not to renounce or repudiate this agreement.'
And here's the good part:
* The local government agrees that this contract replaces and constitutes compliance with all local regulations, laws, permit requirements, licensing conditions, ordinances, etc. -- both in terms of substance and procedure. (READ THAT AGAIN. The local government has just given up all authority to govern or to represent its citizens. Local citizens have just lost their rights to enforce any local ordinances or regulations that were put in place to protect their environment or way of life. This goes for future laws, as well.)
It gets even better.
* If the local government is party to any proceeding that questions the validity of the contract, it agrees to allow MMC to represent it. (MMC will not charge for its legal services in this case. What a deal.)
* The local government is assured that it can sue MMC at any time -- so long as that action is consistent with the agreement. (But the agreement states that MMC is in compliance with all local laws and that the local government won't question the agreement, so what's left to sue about?)
In exchange, the local government gets a load of unenforceable promises from the corporation -- and a yearly payment. (Nashville, Wisconsin a town of less than 1,000 people [1,064 as of the 2010 census -- Ed], stands to receive nearly $1 million over the first six years of its local agreement with a mining corporation.)
In a nutshell, this makes it legal for a local government to abandon all of its governmental and regulatory functions regarding mining activities by promising in a contract not to exercise its its governance functions.
(It also may be possible for a corporation to transfer or sell the contract to another corporation. The contract is a form of property, and stranger things have happened in property law.)
If the local government somehow does end up in court over a dispute about conditions for renegotiating part of the contract, the local agreement stipulates that whatever else happens, "the court may not directly or indirectly prohibit ... mining." (I'm not a lawyer, but it seems downright odd that a contract between a local government and a corporation could stipulate what action a court may take.)
Wisconsin passed one of the first local agreement laws in 1987, right after Exxon Corporation lost its first attempt to turn Wisconsin's North Woods into a mining district. Several local governments already have signed local agreements with mining corporations, despite sustained and persistent protests by area residents. Other government entities are under heavy pressure to do the same. (Of course, they have a "signing bonus" to look forward to. Nashville was set to receive $450,000 up front for signing.) The fact that the Wisconsin law has not yet been judged unconstitutional sets a decade-long precedent.
The Wisconsin law specifically permits local agreements regarding mining. But if the reference to "mining" were deleted from the law (which is simple enough to do), this would permit any corporation to buy off any local government on any pretext.
Imagine a JunkMart Corporation or a Toxic Mismanagement Corporation buying off the governance functions of a town or city, thereby gaining "legal" rights to do whatever the state department of natural resources and the feds would allow.
All such "local agreement" laws, under whatever name, should be located, identified and repealed.
-----
Morris' essay provides genuine insight on issues that are certainly not new and are even more urgent today than they were two decades ago. Can you imagine what's on the agenda for the new ALEC offshoot, American City County Exchange? Just think about the luxury junkets ACCE will sponsor for local council members! 
-----
It boggles my mind how even local (Arizona) environmental activists who have been elected to city councils could refuse to recognize how this relates to the enormous contrast between the two Democratic presidential candidates this year.
An otherwise strong advocate for common sense issues -- like banning single-use plastic grocery bags -- refuses to acknowledge that the corporatist candidate has a decidedly neoliberal history.
"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.
"Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Right-wing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" -- meaning the political type -- have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neo-liberalism. [...]
But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That's what makes it "neo" or new. Now, with the rapid globalization of the capitalist economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism on a global scale.
 Main points of Neoliberalism:

  • The Rule of the Market
  • Cutting public expenditure for social services
  • Deregulation
  • Privatization
  • Eliminating the concept of "The Public Good" or "Community"

Wake the f*** up, Hillary Clinton supporters. 

Where does her loyalty lie regarding deregulation? Well, she talks an ALMOST good talk but she stops short when demanded to take a stand on reinstatement of Glass Steagall

The foremost authority on Influence lives and works in Tempe, Arizona. Some of the most strident Hillary supporters know him, Dr. Robert Cialdini. Yet they refuse to wake up to the fact that Clinton is caught in a net of influence she cannot escape. That net trapped her by way of the campaign cash flowing from by Wall Street, and other corporate special interests. 

On privatization, Hillary has long had a deep connection to the Private Prison Industrial Complex. 

In 2015, The Intercept reported on her connections to private prisons. In October, she claimed to have changed course and promised to no longer take donations from the industry. But Clinton surrogate John Podesta was on CNN just days ago telegraphing that Hillary was so desperate for campaign cash that she's now actively soliciting from the National Rifle Association. How Will she be able to resist private prison money? How Will she be able to resist returning favors to both NRA and private prison interests? Social/psychological science says NO.




Those same environmental activists wanted to have Tempe enact an ordinance requiring businesses to provide paid sick days to employees. Without serious consideration of the societal benefit, because of the neoliberal culture dominating American economies these days, such an ordinance didn't have a chance.

The "market" is allegedly represented by chambers of commerce. But those chambers are not concerned with the spread of disease in our communities because stockholders' bottom lines are a more immediate, short-term tangible consideration. 

Wake the f*** up, Hillary Clinton supporters. 

What's the definition of reactionary? Characterized by reaction, especially opposition to progress... 

Is "No, we CAN'T" something a "Progressive who gets things done" says... to any voter? Apparently health care for all Americans is Progress we don't need. 



Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Corporate Totalitarianism; or Corporations must not be allowed to supplant the People!



We have come to the precipice of great and genuine political change. And we have a stark dichotomy from which to make the most crucial and consequential decision Americans have had the opportunity to make in more than 70 years.

20 years ago, the late Richard Lee Grossman wrote the essay shared below (Fair Use), which is reproduced in Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: a Book of History & Strategy (an anthology of essays, sermons and speeches).

Grossman's essay is no less applicable today and indeed is even more so than it was when first published in the Maine Telegram in February 1996.

-----

Talk of campaign finance has long been in the air. President [Bill] Clinton and those rabid freshmen Republican congressmen -- along with many others across the political spectrum -- have been insisting they really and truly want to get Big Money out of elections. Impatient citizens in Maine and California have gathered enough signatures to place ballot measures before the voters next November, measures that attempt to limit campaign contributions.

It is healthy that so many are intent on fixing up this important part of our democratic process. But I believe the debate and the remedies so far have shied away from asking this basic question: Why should we, the sovereign people, permit giant corporations to contribute any money to candidates or referenda?

Corporations, after all, are not flesh and blood. Corporations are legal fictions, not included in "We The People," and not even mentioned in the federal Constitution. Corporations are chartered to conduct business, not to be political organizations. And a primary purpose of today's corporate form is to erect a legal shield between a corporate decision-maker and the people.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Supreme Court has decreed that corporations are artificial persons, with First Amendment -- that is, free speech -- rights. In Buckley v Valeo (1976), a majority of the justices declared corporate cash a form of "free speech." Two years later, in First National Bank v Bellotti, Justice Lewis Powell wrote that corporate spending to influence votes during a referendum campaign "is the type of speech indispensable to decision-making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual."

Because corporate fictions are now regarded under law as persons, their executives are free to use their corporations' power -- and their stockholders' money -- to further their own personal and political goals. Several Supreme Court justices in a number of cases have objected to this point of view, and their thoughts are instructive.

For example, Justices Byron White, William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, dissenting in the Bellotti case, wrote:
Corporations are artificial entities created by law for the purpose of furthering certain economic ends... It has long been recognized... that the special status of corporations has placed them in a position to control vast amounts of economic power which may... dominate not only the economy but also the very heart of our democracy, the election process... The State need not permit its own creation to consume it.
In a dissent from another Supreme Court majority opinion in 1986 expanding corporations' rights to interfere in elections, Pacific Gas & Electric Co v Public Utilities Commission, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote:
To ascribe such artificial entities [corporations] an "intellect" or "mind" for freedom of conscience purposes is to confuse metaphor with reality.
Justice Brennan, in Federal Election Commission v Massachusetts Citizens For Life, Inc., wrote in 1986 that:
Direct corporate spending on political activity raises the prospect that resources amassed in the economic marketplace may be used to provide an unfair advantage in the political marketplace... The resources in the treasury of a business corporation... are not an indication of popular support for the corporation's political ideas. The availability of these resources may make a corporation a formidable political presence, even though the power of the corporation may be no reflection of the power of its ideas.
Often, logical and rational dissents on the high court have eventually become the law of the land. I, for one, believe that in the not-too-distant future, the American people will insist that corporations must not be granted the rights of people, and that corporations will be barred from contributing any money whatsoever to candidates, to political parties, or on behalf of initiatives and referenda.

But that will only be a step toward claiming our democracy. We will also need to get corporations out of our city councils, our state houses, our Congress and our schools. This is because giant corporations -- often global in reach -- are awash in money and have learned to use this money to flood us with misinformation, to distort basic values, and to shape public debate as their unelected executives see fit.

Between 1980 and 1992, the 500 largest U.S industrial corporations increased their assets, from $1.8 trillion,2 to $2.57 trillion while shedding more than 5 million jobs. The Wall Street Journal proclaimed that the first quarter of 1995 brought "the highest level of corporate profitability in the post-war era and probably since the latter stages of the Bronze Age."

And the rest of 1995 saw the money continue to roll in -- enough to pay corporate CEOs an average compensation package of more than $3.5 million.

With over $100 billion spend in direct advertising each year (subsidized by the rest of us, given that corporate advertising is tax deductible), our giant corporations can shape an awful log of minds.

Increasingly, people are realizing that corporate wealth, in concert with corporate control over jobs and the economy, allows a relative handful of corporate executives in a few hundred giant corporations to promote some ideas while undermining others, to solidify certain values while neglecting or even ridiculing others.

With their ubiquitous lobbyists (also paid with tax-deductible money), direct access to elected officials, and ownership of radio, television, newspapers and magazines, corporations influence (and even [increasingly, through organizations like ALEC] write) our local, state and federal laws.

Corporations have been acting like We The People, exercising the political rights of flesh and blood citizens. The Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy has been convening meetings around the country at which people have been "Rethinking the Corporation, Rethinking Democracy." People have begun researching the corporate histories of their states, and asking why our politicians and our courts have granted so many rights and powers to legal fictions. We are finding that when people discover how earlier generations of Americans had forbidden corporations to interfere in our elections and our lawmaking, they are no longer content merely with placing a ceiling on campaign contributions.

It is not enough to get Big Money out of politics. Rather, We the People -- the flesh and blood self-governing people in the tradition of those who came together to form a more perfect union -- must now remove corporations entirely from our elections, our lawmaking, and from public education.

To accomplish this, we must challenge the absurd notion decreed by the United States Supreme Court in 18864 that corporations have the constitutional right to use their wealth, power and propaganda to overwhelm the sovereign people, and prevent the flowering of our democracy.

----- 

Notes:

  1. This ruling legalized "advertorials." Corporations use them to influence public opinion and public policy and to legitimate corporate "citizenship." (Editor of Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy)
  2. Statistical Abstract of the United States 1994, Table 870 (page 120 in this pdf).
  3. Lowenstein, Roger. The '20% Club' No Longer is Exclusive, Wall Street Journal May 4, 1995 
  4. Santa Clara v Southern Pacific Railroad
-----

Practically at the same time I was working on this post, noted author Marianne Williamson published an essay titled Corporate Totalitarianism, or Not on Huffington Post. Excerpts:
Corporate totalitarianism means total control by corporate interests. If they want a war, they get a war. If they want GMOs, they get GMOs. If they want fracking, they get fracking. If they want big banks to control our monetary policy, big banks control our monetary policy. If they want a tax break, they get a tax break. If they want the TPP, they get the TPP. If they want to deregulate to the point of complete irresponsibility to our children and to the earth, they deregulate as much as they care to. And if they see a way to profit from the vulnerability of the old, the disadvantaged, the poor, the young, or the sick, then they are given the right to do so.
Through their control of politicians, political parties and corporate media, they do everything necessary to make sure that political candidates who resist them get nowhere near the levers of power. It is not by accident that they have created Trump, protected Clinton, and sidelined Sanders
To those who say there is no political revolution, I say that if it's true then that's very sad -- because there should be. What's happening in the United States today is a corporate coup of the U.S. government, and anyone who isn't grieving that must not be looking. [...]
No person or party leadership whose politics seek to compromise with the new totalitarianism will do anything more than soften the edges of this controlling force, improve its PR, and take some of the extreme sting out of the pain it causes. Still, in that case, the pain will only get worse. And ultimately one of the greatest experiments in human possibility will have slipped through our fingers -- for the simple reason than that we allowed it to. Because they put us to sleep. Because they numbed our outrage. Because they sedated our conscience.
And thus they will have won. Or not. This is the generation that gets to decide. 


The greatest sadness for me is in seeing otherwise wonderful political activists put to sleep mentally and pushing back against the only opportunity for wrenching America away from this corporate totalitarianism. Having a woman president will be no consolation to those whose sons and daughters are sacrificed to the next war she (or more likely Donald Drumpf) would start.

We will learn tomorrow how Bernie plans to campaign in the rest of the states. The Political Revolt must continue.