Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Road block in the road to corporate feudalism.

We literally, now  have a government at the federal level that is de facto owned by international corporations. With the weakening of our government as a protective entity, we are in real danger of becoming what Marc Bloch describes as a “feudal society” in his book by that name, with government by, for and of the rich. It’s a cold hard fact that there is no such thing as laissez faire. It can’t exist for long. Either you have a government that controls business or business that controls government. A healthy stable economy requires a balance – as we had from the end of WWII until the slow dismantling of New Deal legislation and the rebirth of supply side economics. Capitalism is a harsh appeal to selfishness and unchristian darwinistic survival of the fittest. Its sole redeeming quality is that it has been very effective at producing goods and it will only continue to do this as long as good government prevents it from emasculating itself.

There is one organization  trying to throw a roadblock to this seeming inexorable march to The Corporate States of America. Reclaim Democracy is that organization. From that website: 

Our Hidden History of Corporations in the United States

When American colonists declared independence from England in 1776, they also freed themselves from control by English corporations that extracted their wealth and dominated trade. After fighting a revolution to end this exploitation, our country’s founders retained a healthy fear of corporate power and wisely limited corporations exclusively to a business role. Corporations were forbidden from attempting to influence elections, public policy, and other realms of civic society.
Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end. The states also imposed conditions (some of which   remain on the books, though unused) like these*:
  • Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
  • Corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.
  • Corporations could not own stock in other corporations nor own any property that was not essential to fulfilling their chartered purpose.
  • Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm.
  • Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
  • Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making.
For 100 years after the American Revolution, legislators maintained tight control of the corporate chartering process. Because of widespread public opposition, early legislators granted very few corporate charters, and only after debate. Citizens governed corporations by detailing operating conditions not just in charters but also in state constitutions and state laws. Incorporated businesses were prohibited from taking any action that legislators did not specifically allow. 
It would be nice if those rules still existed.  Due to increasing concentration wealth in corporations and infallibility of people in the "public service," these rules have been slowly eroded and finally erased by the Citizens United decision. Our only hope for maintaining our democracy and, ironically, capitalism is reversal of the rights of citizenship now given corporations - even international corporations.

 Recommended reading

Monday, May 27, 2013

Milo Minder - now in charge of the CIA!

After nearly 60 years of Keystone cop like ineptitude Milo Minderbinder has finally cornered the market on American Intelligence.  It would be funny were it not for the thousands on dead people it left in it's wake.

Lt. Milo Minderbinder, United States Air Corp. - 1944
"Milo’s influence is massive: He controls the international black market, plays a major role in the world economy, and uses air force planes from countries all over the world to carry his supply shipments. The planes are repainted with an “M &M Enterprises” logo, but Milo continues to insist that everybody has a share in his syndicate. Milo contracts with the Americans to bomb the Germans and with the Germans to shoot down American planes. German antiaircraft guns contracted by Milo even shot down Mudd, the dead man in Yossarian’s tent, for which Yossarian holds a grudge against Milo."
Milo Minderbinder, Jr., CEO Hallabutton Industries - 2013
 "In a democracy, the government is the people, Milo explained. "We're the people, aren't we? So we might as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I'k like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry."

Milo Minderbinder of course is the fictional war profiteer of Joseph Hellers novel Catch 22.  The shameful 70 year history of the CIA is chronicled in Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner. In the beginning we knew nothing. Today we, the CIA,  know how to cover it's ass but not much more. The precursor of the CIA was the Office of Strategic Services, OSS, established by FDR during WWII to coordinate espionage activities for the various units of the military. It's brief history provides some acts of heroism but never provided much of a nucleus for gathering " strategic intelligence" for the purpose of economic, political and military decision making by our government.  We tried to learn from other nations but our arrogance and early feeling of American exceptionalism never made us very good students.  We preferred talking to listening.

The CIA was created by Harry Truman who wanted it merely as a center for keeping the President informed on what was going on in the world. He never intended it as a spy organization but his intentions were subverted from the start. With the opposition to the OSS (post war) by Hoover, who dreamed of running a world wide intelligence operation himself, and other federal law enforcement agencies, it was abolished shortly after we dropped the bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. We were left without any agency to gather intelligence world wide. But because of former leaders in the OSS, like General William Donovan and William Casey, the idea of a central intelligence agency persisted in Washington and eventually flourished under Eisenhower despite it's abject failure during the Chinese civil war and Korea.

The CIA was as surprised as the man in the street when the Russians exploded their first atom bomb and again when the Chinese exploded theirs.  As a matter of fact they never anticipated any of the countries who now have nuclear capabilities getting there. During the Chinese civil war,  the American government and the American people were led to believe, largely by the Luce magazines and the nationalist Chinese delegates in Washington, that Chou En-Lai could not succeed because of his brutality and unpopularity with the Chinese people.  The facts are, as we know them today, that Chiang Kai-shek was more brutal than Chou and never had the support of the people. Most of the weapons  we supplied, which were intended for the army of Chiang, ended up in the hands of defectors to Chou.

By 1950, the CIA as we know it today, had emerged out of the infighting in DC.  They had solid support from many in congress and the corporate world which was frantically fearful of a monolithic communist movement taking over the world.  They were less concerned with what communism would mean to main street USA than they were fearful of what it would mean to Wall Street and capitalism.  Corporate America , now globalized, has convinced the majority of Americans that capitalism means freedom and socialism means enslavement. The CIA, out of the meddling hands of bureaucratic Washington was the best, if not the only, way to combat the threat of communism which they saw as Russia and China.  The  CIA from it's beginning in 1948 until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, was totally engrossed in preventing the spread of the idealism and political control of these two countries.  They were to accomplish this by gathering of information regarding the intentions and capabilities of the these two countries and their satellites and by covert action to undermine their military and political activity. Their budget was not monitored by anyone and much of the funding came from mega rich Americans and corporations. Their activities often were unknown to the President and sometimes contrary to his orders.

In Europe, the CIA attempts at infiltrating the Russian government met with absolute failure.  They knew what we were doing but we had no idea what they were doing.  Over a hundred CIA plants were parachuted into the Soviet Union and were always captured and killed.  But we never stopped trying. From the end of the war until the fall of the Soviet Union, the CIA exaggerated their threat and imminent danger. As dismal as their performance was, they were expert in scaring  Americans; including, especially, the congress and presidents. The epitome of the futility and ineptness of the CIA war against communism is illustrated by the Berlin Tunnel project. Led by the British we spent nearly $7 Million to dig a 1,476 foot tunnel into the Soviet zone in Berlin. The British built a building the size of an entire city block at the end of the tunnel for the purpose of diverting Soviet attention from the fact that they were digging a vertical shaft into the tunnel to intercept telecommunications from the Russians and East Germans.  The operation was completed in 1955 and operated for less than a year when the soviets exposed the operation with a lot of fanfare.  They had known about the operation from the beginning and it was never known whether or not the thousands of hours of conversations they recorded were intended to mislead the US and Britain.  Nevertheless, the CIA historical accounts present it as an glowing success of technology.  There was NO conversations that indicated a Russian intentions of going to war.

During these formative years, the CIA grew out of control. Eisenhower began to distrust the agency. From page 131 of "Legacy of Ashes:"
The president's efforts to investigate the capabilities led to a leap of technology that revolutionized the gathering of intelligence.  But they never got to the root of the problem. Seven years after its creation, there was no oversight or control of the CIA. Its secrets were shared on a need to know basis, and [agency head]Allen Dulles decided who needed to know.
No one was left to look into the agency after Walter Bedell Smith quit the government in October, 1954.  

In the Far East, CIA operations were even more futile. We were totally surprised when North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded South Korea. Thousands of lives were lost as a result. After the ship was righted and America readied our military for war we crushed the North Koreans by an invasion of Inchon. MacArthur, not satisfied with regaining all the ground lost in the North Korean invasion,  and without authorization from Truman, turned northward toward the Chinese border at the Yalu River. The CIA never had an inkling that the Chinese would cross the River and enter the war - even though American military leaders on the ground knew about it. MacArthur ignored the military intelligence and would have eschewed any caution from the CIA anyway.  He, as well as many military leaders learned to distrust the CIA.  The cost was a stinging defeat of MacArthur by a Chinese general who had never been to any kind of a military school and the lives of thousand more American soldiers and marines.

Failing in the Far East, the CIA turned its futility to Latin America.  The one "success" during this time period was the overthrow of a duly elected government in Guatemala. Jacobo Arbenz was elected with three times the number of votes of the nearest competitor and was not a Marxist. Arbenz was an economic liberal who initiated land reforms that threatened the agriculture monopoly of the United Fruit Company.  The agency then planned a coup that was floundering and needed "American Heat" to pull it off. This started with a terror campaign manipulated by the Agency. From page 111 of Legacy of Ashes:
CIA headquarters then sent...a five-page roster of fifty eight Guatemalans marked for assassination. The target killings were approved byWisner and Barnes.  The list encompassed "high government and organizational leaders" suspected of communist leanings and "those few individuals in key government and military positions of tactical importance whose removal for psychological, organizational or other reason is mandatory for the success of militay action." Castillo Armas and the CIA agreed that the assassinations woulod take place during or immediately after his triumphant arrival in Guatemala City.  They would send a messae underscring the seriousness of the rebels' intent.
The American government, through the CIA, was ordering the murder of 58 government members of a sovereign nation!  It wasn't the first time and it wasn't the last time and the murders sometimes included heads of states! The CIA followed with a barrage of false rumors to incite the insurrection but even then it seemed doomed to failure and surely would have failed had Eisenhower not secretly approved  a rich supporter William Pawley to finance a private air force bombing raid of Guatemala City. This turned the tide and the government was taken down. The CIA then gave a doctored version of the operation to Eisenhower.  From page 119 of Legacy of Ashes:
In the East Wing of the White House, in a room darkened for a slide show, the CIA sold Eisehower a dressed-up version of Operation Success. When the lights went on, the president's first question went to the paramilitary man Rip Robertson. 
"How many men did Castillo Armas lse?" Ike asked.
Only one, Robertson replied.
"Incredible," said the president.
At least forty-three of Castillo Armas's men had been killed during the invasion, but no one contradicted Robertson. It was a shameless falsehood.
This was a turning point in the hostory of the CIA.  The cover stories required for covert action overseas were now part of the agency's political conduct in Washington.  Bissel stated it plainly: Many of us who joined the CIA did not feel bound in the actions we took as staff members to observed all the ethical rules." He and his colleagues were prepared to lie to the president to protect the agency's image.  And their lies had lasting consequences.
What happened in Guatemala after this coup is history.  It ushered in a civil war that lasted 36 years and killed 140,000 to 250,000 Guatemalans.  It also began the shameful period where the agency became a shadow government often hidden from the president and always from the people.  In internal history of the agency, Guatemala is still heralded as one of it's gleaming successes - as is the coup in Iran that overturned an democratically elected government and established the military government of Shah Pahlavi. This was also under Eisenhower's watch.

In Cuba, the CIA was totally surprised by the Castro insurgency and by its success.  We knew nothing about Castro other than he was a Marxist.  With the absence of knowledge, we made assumptions using the conventional wisdom.  The world communist movement was a monolithic ideological and geopolitical movement controlled by the Russians and Castro's takeover of Cuban meant that this movement had moved into our world. With this view in mind, Castro was marked as an enemy that had to be deposed or eliminated.  While Eisenhower never trusted the CIA or the concept of a secret federal agency performing covert activity in foreign countries, he bought into the ill-fated CIA Bay of Pigs invasion. He gave the plan a go based on faulty intelligence by the agency.  When Kennedy was elected, the operation was still in the works.  Kennedy was assured by agency head Allen Dulles that it would be a success.  From page 204 of Legacy of Ashes:
President Kennedy told two of his aides that Allen Dulles had reassured him that the Bay of Pigs would be a surefire success. "Mr. President, I stood right here at Ike's desk and told him I was certain that our Guatemalan operation would succeed, and Mr. President, the prospects for this plan are even better than they were for that one." If so, it was an astonishing lie.  Dulles in fact had told Eisenhower that the CIA;s chances in Guatemala were one in five at best--and zero without air-power.
Even though Eisenhower knew that it probably should be scrapped, he never told his successor, John F. Kennedy.  After Kennedy was sworn in, the agency knew it would be a failure without air support from the USA which Kennedy refused to approve.  The agency never told Kennedy that it was doomed to failure and they proceeded anyway.  It was, in fact, a dismal and embarrassing failure.  1,189 members of the invading force were captured and 114 were killed. It was one of the most shameful acts of our government in our nation's history.  Even more shameful than this but not so well known, was the assassination of the elected leader of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba because he was friendly to Russia.  He was friendly with Russia because the US refused to help him defend the Congo independence from the Belgians. His only "guilt" was that he was left leaning and his elimination was ordered by Eisenhower who feared a "Castro in Africa." In his place, the CIA placed Joseph Mobutu who ruled for three decades as one of the world's most corrupt and brutal dictators, slaughtering multitudes to preserve his dictatorship.

Before Ike left office, the agency, according to Allen Dulles, was engaging in acts of economic warfare, sabotage, political propaganda and a plan to use a drug which if placed in Castro's food would make him behave in such an irrational manner that a public appearance could well have very damaging results for him. Vice President Nixon was all for it. The animosity for Castro didn't diminish with the new Kennedy Administration which still got it's information from the agency.  Bobby Kennedy gave covert instructions to the agency to kill Castro; a fact that was not revealed to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy.

The Cuban missile crisis was a total surprise to the agency who had asserted that the Soviets would never have dreamed of or dared to place missiles in the American continent. We discovered it by a spy plane, the U-2. CIA intelligence and covert actions continued to fail throughout the Kennedy and Johnson administration. The agency's leadership floundered but the innate belief in infallibility and atmosphere of insulation from control by the congress and even the president persisted. The ineptness of the agency, if not responsible for our entry into the Vietnam civil war, certainly contributed and was largely responsible for our failure. From page 276 of the Legacy of Ashes:
The war was authorized by the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution rammed through Congress after what the president and the Pentagon proclaimed was an unprovoked attack by North Vietnam on American ships in international waters on August 4. The National Security Agency which compiled and controlled the intelligence on the attack, insisted the evidence was ironclad.  Robert McNamara swore to it.  The navy's official history of the Vietnam War calls it conclusive.
It was not an honest mistake,  The war in Vietnam began with political lies based on fake intelligence. Had the CIA been working as its charter intended, if McCone had fulled his duties under law as he saw them, the false reports might not have survived for more than a few hours.  But the full truth did not come out until November 2005, in a highly detailed confession released by the National Security Agency.
The history of the CIA after the Vietnam war is a litany of deadly and failed covert actions and intelligence failure.  The fall of the Soviet Union was a total surprise and came at a time they were still fearing a nuclear attack and preaching the monolithic international communist movement complete with the domino theory.  As an econ student in the sixties, I was confident, as were most economists, that a centrally controlled economy was doomed; and the form of government, totalitarian or democratic, could not change that.

With the fall of communism and the neutering of the Russians, the CIA was in danger of becoming irrelevant. Fortunately, for them, they discovered Islamic radicalism and terrorism.  Always present but ignored due to  lack of intelligent leadership, they grabbed it to their bosom and ran with it...still in the same ineffective self-aggrandizing way. From page 449 of Legacy of Ashes:
For more than a decade, terrorists had been hijacking airplanes, taking hostages and killing American ambassadors. Neither the CIA or any other branch of  the American government knew what to do about it. 
On the last Saturday of January, 1981,  Anthony Quainton, then still serving as the government's (sic)counterterrorism coordinator, received an urgent phone call from Secretary of State Haig: On Monday at one o'clock, Quainton would brief the White House on his work. " I gave the briefing to the President, who was joined by the Vice President, the head of CIA, the head of FBI and a number of National Security Council members," Ambassador Quainton said.  "After a couple of jelly beans, the President dozed off.  That in itself was quite unnerving.
That same week, Haig announced that international terrorism would replace human rights as the number-one issue for the United States.
This segued nicely into the new  raison d'etre for the CIA. Before the stench of Reagan's botched invasion of Grenada, which killed 19 Americans and at least 21 patients of a mental hospital, wore off, the last of the Marines left Beirut on February 26, 1984. Their deployment, doomed by a nearly total lack of accurate intelligence left 260 American soldiers and spies dead and America's enemies in control. One of the pillars of Reagan's foreign policy was no deals with terrorists. The fact is that negotiations with terrorists became a cornerstone. He made deal after deal with Iran; arms to free hostages.  The more deals he made, the more hostages were taken and the higher the price. It began with hostages taken by Hezbollah in 1985 in a hijacking of a TWA flight en-route from Rome to New York. They took the plane to Beirut, killed an American sailor and held the passengers hostage until Washington pressured Israel to release 300 prisoners held as terrorists. All but 6 of the hostages were released. The deal was brokered by an Iranian "wheeler-dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar who promised that the hijacking would end. From page 465 of Legacy of Ashes:
Three weeks later, Ghorbanifar sent word that all six remaining hostages could be freed in exchange for several thousand American Hawk anti-aircraft missiles.  The price kept going up: three hundred, four hundred, five hundred missiles for a life. On November 14, [CIA head] Casey and McMahon met with national security adviser Robert McFarland and his deputy, Admiral John Poindexter.  All four thought that Israel would deliver the American weapons to a faction within the Iranian military that wanted to overthrow Ayatollah Khomeini.  But that was a lie, a smoke screen devised by Ghorbanifar and his Israeli backers, who stood to gain millions for the operation--the more arms delivered, the more profit to be pocketed. 
To watch over the middlemen, Casey chose Richard Secord, a retired American general turned private arms dealer, as the CIA's representative.  Secord had been a loyal soldier in the global underground effort to arm and finance the Contras behind the back of Congress.  His job was to ensure that a share of the profits wound in the right hands.
Later the Reagan administration became embroiled in a scandal involving the sale of arms to the Iranians to raise money to finance CIA efforts to overthrow the Sandinistan government in Nicaragua. It was a case of helping one brutal murderous group at the expense of a less brutal group for the sole reason that the ones in power were Marxist. Intervention was expressly prohibited by the Boland Amendment. It came to light due to a typical CIA botched covert action and with any other president would have resulted in impeachment.  Reagan, called by some the Teflon Man because nothing seemed to stick to him, blatantly lied to the American people.  From page 472 of Legacy of Ashes.
We did not - repeat - did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages.  Reagan told the nation once again on November 13. Once again, as in the U-2 shootdown, as at the Bay of Pigs, as in the war in /central America, the president lied to protect the covert operations of the CIA
In truth, it is entirely possible at that stage in his life, Reagan may well have been out of the loop because of diminished mental capacity.

The Iran Contra scandal put a lot of light on the CIA, it's perverted goals, methods and on it's ineptness and should have put an end to the agency.  It did not.  It slowed it down but didn't stop it. It continued to influence government affairs and still with it's perverted philosophy and methodology.  It never developed the capability of gathering information on world political and economic activity. Under William Casey, during the Reagan administration, the CIA had nearly doubled in size in six years with six thousand officers and had built a $300 new headquarters.  It had secret armies all over the world but was weaker than ever.  It was shattered by Casey's legacy of lies. He was denounced by his own bishop from the pulpit at his funeral.

It would appear that in 1988, the CIA could only go up; but things got even worse. Under the first Bush administration, they failed to predict the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. Under Clinton, they missed the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the USS Cole seven years later. This was accompanied by some wild missile shots at the now Identified enemy, Osama Bin Ladin,  by President Clinton at their direction.

Their crowning failure was the 9/11 attack.  Although  warned of the attack without specifics by Richard A Clarke of the National Security Council, it totally surprised the CIA.  Later, bad intelligence of the possession of WMD by Saddam Hussein led to the invasion of Iraq.  The disaster of that war is recent history. A defense of the CIA, however, and if anyone by now is so inclined, would be that the real professionals in the agency, off the record and anonymously, warned of the bad intelligence. One had to read deep in the national newspapers to hear of it. George Tenet, who has been credited with bringing the CIA back from the dead, should be better known for killing it. An inveterate yes man, he hand shaped the reports provided George Bush who had already decided to invade Iraq. 

Jump forward to the Benghazi embassy attacks on September 11, 2012, and the knowledge we now have that the CIA was responsible for the final form of the talking points, it doesn't take a wild inferential leap to suspect that they could well have been responsibility for the agitation leading up to the attack.

This is all good news for Milo Minderbinder.  Privatization of fighting our enemies and protecting our colonization now called international commerce, had been a done deal since Bush turned the Middle East wars over to the likes of Halliburton and Blackwater (now called Acadame); but now international intelligence gathering has also been turned over to Milo and his companies who now employ the discredited CIA agents at a much higher salary and at much higher cost to the American tax payer.

In the words of Milo, "war is still good for business and what's good for business is good for all of us because we all have a share!"

Recommended reading

Monday, May 6, 2013

MoveOn.org comes to my hometown of Fontana. Unfortunately so has ugly local partisan politics.

Saturday, May 4, 2013, I attended a local organizing meeting hosted by MoveOn.org and chaired by Tobi Dragert.  It was held at Denny's on Valley Blvd. in Fontana and was well attended.  I was pleased to learn that MoveOn is going local - perhaps they have been all the time but I didn't know about it.  Personally, I am beginning to believe that is where the most effective action must take place.  Too many of the national politicians are now owned by international corporations - most of the Democrats and nearly all of the Republicans.  The Teabagger 51 is a result of gerrymandering and has enabled 51 uncontested congressional seats to control the House and bully most of the Republicans into shutting down government at the federal level. Democrats have to do the same to reverse it. And it has to happen soon or our once free democracy will become a international corporate feudal system.  Hopefully, it's not too late.

The purpose of the meeting in Fontana was to organize support for AB52 the California Disclose Act

New California DISCLOSE ACT, SB 52, Introduced by Senators Leno and Hill

* SB 52 Requires That Political Ads Clearly Disclose Their Top Three Funders
By Press Release
Press Release, December 20th, 2012
SACRAMENTO - A new effort to give voters the information they need by requiring significantly greater transparency in political ads was launched with the introduction of a newCalifornia DISCLOSE Act by Senators Mark Leno and Jerry Hill. Over 350 organizations and leaders endorsed the last version, with over 84,000 Californians signing petitions urging the legislature to pass it.
SB 52 will require that the top three funders of political ads be clearly and unambiguously identified, on the ads themselves, as well as require committee websites to list their major funders. It applies to advertising for ballot measure campaigns, independent expenditures such as Super PACS, and issue advocacy.
"We are thrilled that Senators Leno and Hill are taking the lead to push this crucial transparency legislation", said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, the sponsor of SB 52. "There is a growing movement of Californians demanding the California DISCLOSE Act because people want to know who is really paying for political ads, whether they are hidden out-of-state billionaires behind Super PACs or the largest special interests in California."

SB 52 builds on the progress made by the last version of the California DISCLOSE Act, AB 1648 (Brownley), which passed the Assembly on a vote of 50-26 in late August before running out of time to pass the Senate. AB 1648 had 49 legislative co-authors.

The need for serious reform of disclosure on political ads has increased since then. Over $421 million was spent this year in California on ballot measures alone, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Most of it was spent by committees hiding their funders with misleading names like "Stop Special Interest Money Now" or "The 2012 Auto Insurance Discounts Act."

"We saw evidence in the most recent election cycle of unnamed organizations throwing around large sums of money in order to confuse California voters," said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. "The only way to stop this covert financing of campaigns is to require the simple and clear disclosure of the top three funders of political ads so voters can make well-informed decisions at the ballot box."

Californians from all major political parties have overwhelmingly stated their support for greater disclosure. A Field Poll late last year indicated 84 percent of registered California voters favored legislation to increase public disclosure requirements of initiative sponsors, including 78 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of Independents.

"This legislation is vital to protecting the integrity of our democratic process and ensuring fair elections in our state," said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo. "After seeing billions of dollars flow into elections across our country after the Citizens United decision, we need the DISCLOSE Act now more than ever."

DISCLOSE is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections.
The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that has been dedicated to educating the public about the need to lessen the unfair influence of Big Money on election campaigns since 2001. 
Paraphrasing a flyer handed out by Tobi at the meeting, voters supported an oil severance tax to pay for alternative energy by a nearly three to one margin (Prop 87, 2006), a group called "Californians against Higher Taxes" spetn $94 milllion in anonymous ads, and voters, rejected the measure even though it would have been in their own best interests. Most voters never knew its largest funders and opponents were Chevron, Aera Energy and Occidental Oil and Gas.
Initiatives that would have increased cigareted taxes (Prop 29 in 2012 and Prop 86 in 2006) both led in initial polls but were defeated by $66 million and $47 million spent by Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds, respectively, opposing the measures. Voters saw the fine print, "paid for by Californians against out of control taxes and spending." Nobody wants to pay higher taxes or spend more on programs in this economy.  Confused by the ads, their votes were based on the belief that passing the meaures would increase their taxes. 
In 2005, Prop 79, the prescription drug discounts bill, led in the polls by 15% in a senior consumer advocacy group but it lost after "Calfornians  Against the Wrong Prescription" spent milliona defeating it. The largest funders? GlzxoSmithKline, Merck and Pfizer.
Going back even further - to the proposed peripheral canal in 1982, you hear a lot of arguments and dissections of this project but the bottom line is that the canal, as originally planned, was to divert flood waters from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers around the delta and regulate the flow of fresh water which was both wasting water and harming the ecosystem. Out of the in-fighting the fact emerged that the measure was defeated by misleading ads financed by agribusiness who would be charged for the water which they were previously getting free water diverted from the delta.  Ironically, the election was decided by the Southern California voters who would have been prime beneficiaries of the additional water.  This was water that otherwise was flowing out to sea and wasted as it moved the gradient of fresh water/sea water back and forth and confused ecosystem. 
This is a law that should be non-partisan - who could object to transparency in political funding - but it will be opposed by Republicans.  Bank it. 

Getting back to the Fontana meeting, I was pleasantly amazed by the savvy and knowledge of local politics by the attendees.  I was frankly intimidated by them. Not part of the agenda but well articulated by Fontana School Board member, Leticia Garcia, was her victimization of a politically motivate recall election which will cost the Fontana voters more than $100,000. Although local elections in Fontana are supposed to be non-partisan, this is a typical conservative corruption issue. Leticia and another member of the board are being targeted because of their questioning the funding of the Fontana after-school programs. Mayor Acquanetta Warren, an active partisan Republican, is supporting right wing Mayor of Ontario Paul Leon in his election bid for the 32nd California Senate District seat.  Leon faces Norma Torres in a runoff election. In the regular election, Torres received 43 percent of the vote and Leon received 26%. I grew up in Fontana in the Forties.  I graduated from Fontana Junior High School and Chaffey High School. I still consider Fontana my home though I now live in Rancho Cucamonga. Personally, I consider Warren a carpet bagger from Los Angeles. 
Warren shameless posted an accusation on the Fontana Teacher's Association that Leticia and.or her fellow target, Green, were convicted felons. This is untrue as is most of the claims of the recall effort. For example, the proponents claim that the recall move is to save the after-school programs. This is not true. Garcia and Green were questioning irregularities and lack of bidding in the funding. They also claim that Green and Garcia are doing illegal and improper things. This is false. These are more facts that Fontana votes need to know:
  • Petition gatherers were paid for each signature they obtained.
  • Fontana USC voters decided in 2010 that change was needed when Green and Garcia beat out two incumbents and were constitutionally elected to serve the students of the Fontana Unified School District.
  • This is a blatant power grab to go back to "business as usual" where no one questions multi-million dollar grant programs or where tax revenues are being spent. 
  • The Mayor blamed two board members for "politics" at the same time she called them "stupid outsiders" and declared war.
  • This special election will cost the district over $100,000.
  • The ASES after-school program was in place last year, is in place now, and will be in place next year provided a majority of Board members approve a new vendor. 
As a former resident and lover of the City of Fontana, as well as an advocate of honesty and democracy, I encourage everyone in the area to call the Mayor's office, write the loca papers, and inundate Mayor Warren's internet sites with a call for integrity. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The now recognized agenda of the GOP - The White House means white.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed that some members of (the Republican) party opposed expanding background checks for gun sales recently because they didn't want to "be seen helping the president."

There's a lot of that going around today but this one was the most onerous and the most obvious and flew in the face of public opinion. Congress ignored the fact that more than 90 percent of Americans and even 85 percent of gun owners favor background checks. Republicans in the past have cooperated with Democrat legislation in the name of common good.  Democrats have done the same.  But this is a new ball game.  We have an African American in the White House. 

There is a good chance that this will come back to bite some Republican senators in the next election but it doesn't really matter.  As long as we have the filibuster and 51 gerrymandered congressional districts where the Teaparty is unchallenged, Democrats are unlikely to control the House and government will  remain paralyzed. Racism has emerged again!

After the civil rights bill was passed the schools and neighborhoods were gradually integrated, people got to know African Americans, made friends with them, played ball with them and married them. Racism, at least as it existed before, phased out and those who were unable to make the adjustment were outnumbered and learned that if they were too vociferous, they would be isolated. But their hatred continued to simmer down deep.

But we have entered into a new phase. We learned to accept our next door neighbor being black, the mixed marriages, seeing a black doctor and, in the south, letting them ride in the front of the bus. We grew to love, even worship in a sense, the black athletes who play on “our” teams. Most of us, at least more than 50% of us are even ready to have a black President; but not all.

The thin veneer of decency and tolerance of a relatively small group of our citizenry has been overcome by their reemerging and now un-controlled hatred. These people have taken over the Republican Party and have become irrationally vocal. You saw them at the Town Hall meetings where they completely blocked any dialogue.

They have kept their racism and hatred below the surface for the past thirty years or so because blatant racism became unpopular. Now the election of an African American president has brought it back to the surface. They are so blind with rage, they no longer care what decent people think. They have retreated into their own ideological commune; unfortunately, they have pulled the bulk or a large share of the once honorable republican party along with them. Of course there has always been the animosity between the right and the left that had nothing to do with race. But the re-emergence of racism has intensified that as well. Politics has become ugly and has to a large extent grown to define friendships. I can remember when you were more likely to get into a shouting match over whether your Ford was better than his Chevy than over who was running for president.

An example of this hatred can be seen in the opposition to Obama’s programs, first health care reform, and now rational gun laws and a budget that fiscal conservatives would support if proposed by the GOP or even a white Democrat.  Of course rational opposition to the health care reform and these other issues can exist. But there has been no rational debate. The opposition, aware that the status quo in health care was not defendable, at least as it relates to the vast majority of Americans who don’t own insurance companies or who earn less than $250,000 per year, resorted to mendacity, pure lies on the extreme, and distortion as a minimum. On the budget, they just refused to talk. On background checks, they ignored their constituencies.  The opposition has been fueled by hatred not logic and has resulted in the so called Tea Party. They are a potpourri of opposition and hatred.  The most visible thread of commonality is their hatred of Obama. And now this thread has become a rope with the willingness of the republican presidential candidate to go to bed with them and the rope is pulling in billions of dollars from those like the Koch brothers - thanks to Citizens United

Sequestration will continue to put downward pressure on the economy and eventually, even those district like that of Billy Long will get hungry. But maybe not hungry enough to forget that a black family lives in the White House!

Look for the most vitriolic and fact starved campaign in the nation's history!