In my last installment of the Great Takeover of Chicago Schools, I took some heat for blaming Rahm Emanuel for his part in the school closure debacle. Commenters claimed Rahm had nothing whatsoever to do with the CPS, that it was independent and the mayor wasn't involved at all.
They were wrong.
The video has footage of a paid protester at one of the school closure hearings, who isn't exactly sure what he's protesting, but he's definitely convinced the pay is worth the effort, evidently. Kenzo Shibata at Huffington Post explains who paid him:
The video also features a man admitting to being paid to protest at the 2012 Crane School closing hearing. The Chicago Tribune reported last February that Rahm Emanuel's associate Greg Goldner's firm Resolute Consulting, a firm that worked on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2002 Congressional bid, allegedly paid people to protest at these hearings. The paid protesters largely blamed Chicago Teachers Union for problems in Chicago's schools.
There's more, and the partnerships are confusing and ugly.
That's Glenn Beck in 2011, telling his audience why the UN wants to rule the world and suppress all independent thought. From Alex Jones to the John Birch Society to Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, the U.N.'s Agenda 21 is not simply a plan for sustainable development, but a seekrit plot to rule the world!
There will always be conspiracy theories and there will always be nuts spouting them, but we don't usually add them to official school curricula.
Springboro Community City School District’s new curriculum — part of an effort to help students think critically and learn to “identify important issues” — mandates that “[a]ll sides of the issue should be given to the students in a dispassionate manner” to help “students to be taught to think clearly on all matters of importance, and to make decisions in the light of all the material that has been presented or can be researched on the issues.”
religion when not used in a historical or factual context, sex education, legalization of drugs, evolution/creation, pro-life/abortion,contraception/abstinence, conservatism/liberalism, politics, gun rights, global warming and climate change, UN Agenda 21 and sustainable development, and any other topic on which opposing points of view have been promulgated by responsible opinion and/or likely to arouse both support and opposition in the community.
Teachers would have to provide equal weight to widely-accepted scientific theories like evolution and right-wing conspiracies advanced by Glenn Beck. Under the policy, students could not learn about sustainable development without also assessing the impact of U.N. Agenda 21, a series of non-binding U.N. recommendations for ensuring that economic growth does not undermine the environment, which conservatives believe will destroy American sovereignty and freedom. The Agenda was developed at a summit in Brazil in 1992 with support from President George H.W. Bush.
Don't you love the way they frame it as teaching "critical" thinking? Because offering a whacknut conspiracy theory as if it were the same as proven science translates to giving kids a good education?
This nonsense reaches all the way back to the John Birch Society, when they were convinced the Council for Foreign Relations was an evil Communist foothold in the United States. Birchers have updated their rhetoric and now stand firmly opposed to Agenda 21 because you might not be able to drive a gas-powered car or own private property (both lies).
This time around, the effort to legitimize this crackpot theory are more widespread and well-funded. Americans for Prosperity use it as a way to attack the Common Core standards in schools because they would include teaching about sustainable growth. FreedomWorks' membership and community websites are now virtually controlled by the John Birch Society with the Agenda 21 nonsense at the top of their agenda.
After electing Tea Party representatives to school boards and city councils across the nation, the move is on to push these whacko theories into the mainstream, and in the case of at least one Ohio school district, they're succeeding.
As I predicted awhile back, Kochheads in Florida have managed to step between poor people and health care by yanking puppet strings in the Florida legislature to block Rick Scott's proposed Medicaid expansion. See how that works? Rick Scott looks magnanimous because AFP and the Florida legislature gave him cover to pretend like Medicaid would be expanded.
In the words of Florida Rep. Matt Hudson in that AFP video above, it wasn't "just no, it's heck no!"
Seeing all those obese Medicare recipients waving signs about their liberty and the like did absolutely nothing to keep my blood pressure within acceptable parameters:
Scott wouldn’t be the one to “deny Floridians” a part of the health care law—but the Florida legislature had other plans. Lawmakers adjourned Friday after passing a budget that does not include funding for a Medicaid expansion. Unless the Republican-controlled legislature comes back for a special session later this year—which some Democrats are calling for—Florida will not expand Medicaid in 2014.
In Florida, where one in five non-elderly residents lack insurance coverage, the consequences are especially large: An estimated 1.3 million Floridians were expected to gain coverage through the the Medicaid expansion. About a quarter of those people—Floridians earning between 100 and 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Line—would still be eligible for tax subsidies on the health insurance exchange.
These selfish pigs make me want to stage a legislative revolution to expand Medicare to all right before their very eyes just so I can see them weep about people's hands being on their Medicare. Tell ya what, liberty fans. You renounce YOUR health care and I might just believe you're sincere. As it is right now, you're just a bunch of misguided, ignorant tools who don't mind claiming your "entitlement" while shoving everyone else out into the cold.
AFP state director Jennifer Stefano at CPAC2012 - h/t Heather
Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded astroturf gang, had a Big Conference Call Monday evening to discuss their Super Seekrit Strategy for defeating the Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania. Here's their invitation:
AFP-PA will be hosting a brief, 20 minute conference call this coming Monday at 8:30PM. Governor Corbett and the Legislature have been HAMMERED by the left to expand Medicaid in PA. We need to counter their efforts immediately. During this call, we will be laying out a four-day call bomb strategy that will make it very clear that we stand with Governor Corbett in not expanding Medicaid, while also pressuring key legislatures to support HR269. This bill would codify and make permanent the Governors decision to not expand Medicaid in Pennsylvania. You must sign-up in order to receive the access code for the call. This is necessary because we cannot risk someone from the left sneaking onto our call and hearing the strategy.
Everyone who signs up will receive detailed instructions and the access codes at noon on Monday. There will also be a second email sent out at 8:00PM on Monday with a final reminder and the access codes. Please sign-up for this call and reach out to a few friends and invite them to also sign-up. This is how we organize, and we need to organize to WIN.
Jennifer Stefano, our State Director, will lead the call and Matt Hissey, our Grassroots Director, will answer any questions at the end.
Ah, yes. Jennifer Stefano, the potty-mouthed self-proclaimed Emmy-nominated TV reporter who just "happened upon" a Tea Party rally in 2009 and eventually landed herself in the state director's seat for Americans for Prosperity in Pennsylvania after a few key Fox News appearances. How grassrootsy.
AFP's efforts are intended to deny health care to 542,000 uninsured and poor residents of Pennsylvania so billionaires can buy another bauble for their wife. It's disgusting to see these people actually organize their astroturf in order to deny people the right to have access to affordable health care.
In Florida, their efforts were rewarded Monday with a key House subcommittee voting to block Governor Rick Scott's decision to expand Medicaid into that state. The Florida legislature has a Republican supermajority, so the only question to be answered is whether or not Rick Scott will acquiesce to their cruelty or veto it.
I think we all know the answer to that. They've given him the political cover he needs with that bill, just as the Pennsylvania legislature will do for Governor Tom Corbett. A few dying residents won't matter to these people, because the only pity they have in their hearts is for the billionaires.
Rachel Maddow's summary here of the deep, wide divide between the Tea Party groups and the so-called "mainstream" Republican party is interesting, but what's more interesting is how the tea party groups themselves are imploding.
First, there was the FreedomWorks meltdown and split with Dick Armey, which has worked itself up to a silly crescendo with the tale of the Hillary Clinton sex-with-a-panda video. Then, there was yesterday's mess with the Tea Party Patriots and their depiction of Karl Rove as a Nazi.
Now we have news of some housecleaning over at Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed groups pushing their corporate agenda of privatizing everything and killing government services with an axe and a hatchet. It seems they've turned the hatchet on themselves.
AFP president Tim Phillips wouldn’t comment on specific personnel moves, though he generally cast the cuts to his group, which now has about 190 employees, as an anticipated back-end result of a major election-year ramp up.
“The vast majority of it reflects a field effort that increased dramatically in late 2011 and 2012, and then it comes down to a more long-term sustainable size,” Phillips said. “Washington is an artificial hothouse as far as how folks move and how organizations change. A year or two years is an eternity working for the same organization in Washington D.C.”
But the departure of AFP’s chief operating officer Tracy Henke, which occurred around the time of Charles Koch’s holiday party criticism of AFP, was acrimonious, according to sources.
Henke and other departing AFP staffers signed nondisclosure agreements, and she did not respond to requests for comment, but she appears to have completely left the Koch network of groups.
That’s in contrast to other top AFP officials who recently left the group to join or start other new groups regarded as part of the Koch family, including Cobb’s Association for American Innovation and Phil Kerpen’s American Commitment.
The moves fit a pattern the Koch operation has pioneered of creating — and channeling millions of dollars to — political groups since it began increasing its political involvement.
According to Tracy Henke's LinkedIn bio, she's now with H&H Advisors, a political consulting firm. That's a polite and corporate way of saying she's out on her own, and it doesn't seem like a very amiable split. Henke is a veteran of the George W. Bush administration who worked for John Ashcroft and as Kit Bond's policy advisor. She also has ties to the Abramoff scandal. It could be that Henke's most serious sin was her work lobbying on behalf of the Rockefeller family foundation in favor of the CLEAR Act in 2009. How could the Kochs possibly have someone who acted as a paid shill for climate change and carbon tax proponents, after all?
Do you think she was let go because she was too moderate? After all, American Commitment, Phil Kerpen's new, fully Koch-funded venture, is hardcore right-wing with an extra strong dose of hot love for coal, oil and gas while denying climate change and hating unions. The one thing it seems to be missing is the usual hard core right wing war on women aspects, but the Kochs fund Concerned Women for America to cover themselves on that front.
According to Politico, there is the possibility that the Kochs are going to retreat from campaign politics and stick to policy-building via think tanks like Cato, Heritage, Franklin Center and others:
If they continue an expansion into electoral politics that helped spawn the tea party and push the GOP to the right, they could find themselves on a collision course with Karl Rove, who has pledged to raise big money to boost more centrist or “electable” GOP candidates. But if they begin steering cash away from ads and political organizing and back toward the free-market libertarian ideological and policy spheres, that could diminish their role at the ballot box.
Early indications suggest that they’ll continue playing in politics but will tweak their approach to reflect 2012 lessons.
There's no way the Kochs are retreating from electoral politics. All of their moves indicate a round of "creative destruction" and reorganization toward redoubling their efforts. American Commitment is only one of their new projects. There is the John Hancock Committee for the States, currently overseen by Eric O'Keefe but with assistance from the Ryun brothers of American Majority fame. The most recent Donors' Trust reports show large sums of money going into that operation, alongside another called Empower Texans. Generation Opportunity, referred to in the Politico article, is another front group for the Kochs aimed at young voters, with leadership apparently connected back to the tobacco lawsuits in the 90s.
Meanwhile, over at FreedomWorks, there's no doubt about their direction. It's not toward the center. It's farther right --so far right, we'll start thinking of Karl Rove as the party moderate.
The only soul-searching going on with Republicans, whether of the corporate type like Rove or of the super-corporate type like Americans for Prosperity, is how far right they think they can go.
Rachel Maddow is a great commentator and host, but she is a bit too glib about what's going on right now with the right wing. There's a lot of sound and fury, but it's just cover for the alignments they're making for 2014. Stay on guard.
You might recall this report from Rachel Maddow in August, 2009 at the height of the legendary Obamacare protests. She introduced her viewers to Art Pope, a name known only to those who ever bothered to follow the money. In the billionaire funders' universe, Pope is one that is rarely mentioned but has an enormous impact on the right-wing landscape. Here's an astroturf refresher:
Rachel Maddow exposes the monied interests pretending to be "average Americans" who are fueling the outrage at these "town halls gone wild". First up, Recess Rally, sponsored by Michelle Malkin, Smart Girl Politics, Redstate, but also American Majority, and as Rachel points out, this group is hardly made up of average Americans even though they tout themselves as being a non-profit, non-partisan organization. The people behind American Majority; Ned Ryun, former George W. Bush speech writer, Lonny Leitner, Regional Field Director for Bush/Cheney '04, Shari Weber, former Republican State Legislator, Matt Pinnell, a former Washington conservative lobbyist.
Rachel notes that American Majority is an offshoot of another Recess Rally sponsor, The Sam Adams Alliance. Their President, John Tsarpalas, former Executive Director of the Illinois State Republican party, their Director, Joseph Lehman, former Dow Chemicals engineer and president of the nation's largest conservative state level policy think tank.
Another sponsor of Recess Rally, Let Freedom Ring. Their founder, the money man behind the television ad exploiting 9-11 to promote the Iraq invasion. Another sponsor, the swift boaters.
Yet another sponsor, Americans for Prosperity, and their subsidiary Patients First. Americans for Prosperity's Director, Art Pope, who has the headquarters of the North Carolina Republican party named after him since he's given them so much money. Their Chairman, David Koch, the 19th richest man in the world who runs Koch Industries, which is the largest privately held oil company in the United States.
Yes, elections have consequences, and North Carolina now has a hell of a consequence to contend with. Via the NewsObserver, this report about Governor-elect McCrory's appointment of Art Pope as "deputy budget director", a title invented for him by the soon-to-be governor of North Carolina.
Via Eclectablog, the less-than-surprising news that Tea Party activists knocked down their own tent and videotaped it -- for Faux News:
There’s a video on heavy rotation at Fox News, being massively retweeted by conservatives and Americans for Prosperity, where they talk about the “brutality” and “violence” of union members at today’s rally in Lansing, Michigan to protest Right to Work legislation. The video shows an Americans for Prosperity tent coming down on the front lawn of the Capitol Building.
As it turns out, American for Prosperity (AFP) themselves were responsible for at least one of the tents coming down. Tom Duckworth watched one of the folks that had been in the AFP tent go around and loosen the straps on the tent. According to Duckworth, “the tent came down from the INSIDE.”
[Above is] video, shot in the office of Progress Michigan, of Duckworth being interviewed by former Progress Michigan Executive Director David Holtz:
Senator Gretchen Whitmer slams Michigan Republicans over right to work legislation.
Big surprise, right? Who'd a thunk the usual suspects were pushing to break the unions in Michigan? The part that I don't get is (and if any lawyers can explain the distinction, I'd appreciate it), don't these sort of threats and coercion cross the line from First Amendment expression to criminal extortion? Remember, the threats are tied to specific legislation. If this isn't illegal, it ought to be:
The day after Michigan’s legislature held an abrupt voteon right-to-work legislation, United Auto Workers President Bob King blamed the influence of the Koch brothers, Charles and David, as well as “the extreme right wing.”
“In the end, [Michigan businessman] Dick Devos and the extreme right-wing control what’s going on in the state,” King told Detroit radio station WDET. “And the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity was in there, and there was a lot of money all pushing for the passage of this legislation, threatening the governor, threatening the different representatives.”
King also said that Republican legislators had been bullied into voting for the bill. “The stories we were told by Republicans, who I’m sure won’t admit to it publicly…was that they were threatened, that they would have a primary challenge from the Tea Party.”
He suggested that the same threats had been made against Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who recently announced his support for a state right-to-work law after previously opposing the idea.Scott Hagerstrom, the state director for Americans for Prosperity’s Michigan operation, denied the charges, saying, “People may have done that, but that was not Americans for Prosperity.” He said that he was “surprised, but very pleased” by Thursday’s vote.
According to the non-partisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network, David Koch gave a total of $988,604.44 to the Republican Governors Association Michigan PAC in 2010, the year when Snyder was elected governor. Of the PAC’s donors, 98% were from outside Michigan.
Americans for Prosperity also erected tents in front of the Michigan capitol before the right-to-work vote, and the Michigan Freedom Fund aired radio and television ads in favor of the legislation that day.
“If you do that, you’ve been planning it for a while,” said Gordon Lafer, an expert in American labor law. He said that well-funded conservative interest groups had likely been laying the groundwork for a right-to-work vote in Michigan for some time. He also said that the campaign in Michigan was part of a nationwide battle against the labor movement.
Lee Fang has documented how Americans for Prosperity and other right-wing astroturf groups are rewarding "volunteers" for their time and effort. The video above documents the gas giveaway, where there's not even a volunteer effort required to get $1.84 gas.
AFP is hosting events at gas stations across the country to provide gasoline to motorists for the price of $1.84 per gallon. The group is paying for up to fifteen gallons for 100–150 drivers at each station, telling them that the $1.84 price symbolizes the price per a gallon before Obama took office in 2009.
A CBS news affiliate in Iowa reports that at least one driver, Louis Lumpkin, said that the free gas would make a difference on his vote for president.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I tend to think that guy Louis might have already made his mind up before the cheap gas. But then I might put too much faith in people's ability to think for themselves, sometimes. As Fang points out, the whole thing is powered by the very people who actually do more to manipulate and drive gas prices up than any president ever could.
The way to an iPad, gift card, or other nifty goody is to phonebank for the billionaire of one's choice. There's plenty of billionaire largesse to go around. If you want to call Jewish voters for 50 hours, you can get a 32 GB ipad. That works out to about $14 per hour or so. The billionaires funding that giveaway are associated with the Republican Jewish Coalition, chaired by the likes of Sheldon Adelson.
Sheldon Adelson, of course, has a deep vested interest in seeing President Obama lose this election. If that were to happen, it's likely that Mitt Romney would have no option but to call off the DOJ investigation into Adelson's casino activities, including alleged money laundering and bribery.
One billionaire not often mentioned is Barre Seid, the uber-rich surge protector manufacturer who is widely believed to have distributed the anti-Islam (and anti-Obama) DVD sent to voters just before the 2008 general election. Seid has a foundation, but when he wants to fund political activity that might not be in line with his foundation's mission, it seems that he turns to Donors' Trust, the Koch-founded, Wisconsin-based anonymous donors fund.
Just last week, a scurrilous DVD was mailed to millions of voters in swing states. Of all the junk mailed out in this election, this was possibly the worst. "Dreams From My Real Father" alleges that Barack Obama's dead mother was a porn star and his father was really Frank Marshall Davis, a writer living in Hawaii who had links to the Communist Party. The entire narrative is based on Jerome Corsi's 2011 work of fiction marketed as fact. This isn't anything new for Corsi, whose lying days go back to the Swiftboat smear, and he's been the go-to for fantasy smears ever since.
The film's director is Joel Gilbert, principal at Highway 61 Entertainment. While his IMDB bio doesn't include this piece of information, Gilbert is also a contributing editor at FamilySecurityMatters.org, a member of the Frank Gaffney family of Islam-hating websites falling under the umbrella of his Center for Security Policy.
It isn't cheap to do a million-plus run of DVDs, package them, buy a mailing list, and send them out. It's fairly expensive, but someone paid whatever it took to not only produce this crappy movie, but actually send it out to people. We could point to lots of different players, from DeVos to Koch to Adelson to Seid and indeed, it may have been all of them pitching in. That is something we'll likely never know unless there's an actual audit of these bogus nonprofits and their billionaire funders.
But what is known may be enough. There is no low too low, no slime too deep to wallow in, nothing too dirty for these billionaires to spend money on. Whether it's buying favorable blog posts, iPads, or smear movies, they're willing to make that investment in order to hopefully achieve the return they expect: election of Willard Mitt Romney to the office of President of the United States.
This is a new RNC ad. According to them, the ad is lighthearted and funny and so what if the featured speaker isn't really a disheartened 2008 Obama supporter but is a long-time RNC staffer? Why does that matter. It is, after all, an ad. It's not dishonest, so they say. Via TPM:
The RNC says its ad, which first appeared on television Thursday is not dishonest.
“It’s a lighthearted ad to show how millions of Americans feel about President Obama — he’s not the person we thought he was and it’s time to break up with him,” an RNC official told TPM. “But let’s be clear, it is an ad.”
Well, yeah. It is dishonest, because it presents a young Latina as someone who is disappointed and ready to vote for Romney, but really it's just a staffer reading a script and doesn't represent anyone I was able to find with similar attitudes, though I'm certain some are out there. And because there may be some out there, it seems to me the campaign should have maybe found one, or else put a disclaimer in their ad that actors/staffers portrayed the speakers.
An honest ad would have disclosed that the speaker wasn't really who they portrayed her to be. She was just reading a script.
So yes, RNC. Your ad is dishonest, not that it comes as a surprise. When you decided fact-checkers had no role in your campaign, you wrapped your arms around Mitt Romney's lying ways and gave it a big wet kiss.