Saturday, October 1, 2011

Big Brother's Holding Company

By Anne Lavoie

No, I am not referring to Janis Joplin's great band (for those of you of a certain age who remember them.) I am referring to our federal government, Big Brother, and the corporate cabal that has a stranglehold on almost everything that has economic value in our country, the Holding Company. I like the definition I found that describes a Holding Company as 'a parent corporation that owns enough voting stock in another corporation to control its board of directors and, therefore, controls its policies and management'. It fits the description of corporate control of our government, from Congress to the Presidency.  
Just when you thought it couldn't get much worse in our country, the plot sickens. There is a bill that was introduced in April by Republicans in Congress, HR 1505, otherwise known as the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act (NSFLPA). This bill merges the two in a new and insidiously powerful way. Janis would be screaming out, not in song, but in outrage as I am.
This bill is a pure power and land grab that also takes away our freedoms, rights, and protections. I consider it a corporate power grab because The Holding Company doesn't just call the shots in Washington, but owns and controls nearly the whole show, providing unknown numbers of private contractors conducting military, national security, guard, prison, surveillance, and border control related functions among others. The numbers are unknown because of they are hidden behind the veil of national security secrecy. Here is what this bill proposes to do: 
Under the guise of national and border security, and in order to eliminate pesky obstacles such as environmental laws, this bill gives to Homeland Security (and its innumerable private contractors) waivers for a whole list of environmental laws which allows them to trump management of these lands by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture and gives DHS unfettered access and control without ANY public accountability. Officials in both Interior and Agriculture are opposed, but they are not elected officials, so they really have no clout, and as we saw when they spoke out strongly against allowing loaded weapons in National Parks, Congress passed it anyway and Obama signed off.
With the adoption of this bill, a total of 36 environmental laws would be waived affecting federal, state, and private lands, including coastlines. They include, among others, the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Wilderness Act, Antiquities Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Solid Waste Disposal Act, etc. Rather than kill each pesky law individually, they are simply waiving them all, for the sake of security of course.   
Oh, but I'm still building up to the worst parts. The power, control, and authority they wish to give to Homeland Security over federal lands would encompass all the land within a 100 mile swath around the entire United States, including the coasts, not just borders with Mexico and Canada. A map of the area can be found here. You've got to see it to believe it. The area covered would even encompass the entirety of ten states and large portions of most of the others. 
The bill gives the Secretary of Homeland Security immediate access to any public land managed by the federal government within this area. They would be able to conduct activities that 'assist in securing the border', including access to, maintaining, and constructing roads, constructing fences, using patrol vehicles, and setting up monitoring and surveillance equipment. Patrol vehicles are not just trucks, but would probably include helicopters, drones, and any other technological marvel, such as those butterfly cameras that look and fly like the real thing. Homeland Security wouldn't have to consult with tribal communities or even private landowners before entering the areas either.
This is somewhat familiar to me. I saw what has happened to Organ Pipe National Monument, on the Arizona/Mexico border, even back in the early 2000's. After paying to get into this national park, we found that areas of it were closed to the public for security reasons. The following year, even more area was closed off.

Keep Out

There was even an incident where a couple of our hiking club friends in their 80's were stopped by a helicopter that landed near the trail they were on and the camouflaged and heavily armed Border Patrol agents interrogated them. They did not show up to stop the hundreds of Mexicans we saw hiking openly across the desert every day, probably because it would be too much work. They preferred flying around in a helicopter in full combat gear, harassing elderly hikers. So I saw firsthand what happens when they get the authority to take over an area. 
I always thought they'd try to steal the public lands by privatization, but never did it occur to me that they would use a reverse and twisted form of eminent domain for phony security reasons. Now they call them 'federal' rather than 'public' lands, and they no longer want to be mere stewards of our lands but prefer total and unaccountable control. 
I consider our public lands, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas in particular, very special places that nourish the body and soul. Some I consider sacred, particularly our beloved Glacier National Park that sits entirely within their proposed 100 mile area of control. I am sure the long range plan is to open all those areas for resource development since they will be building all those convenient roads on the taxpayer dime, making them shovel ready for development, and environment laws will conveniently no longer apply.
Glacier National Park

Republican Congressmen want to help Big Brother for the benefit of their partner in crime, The Holding Company. Unfortunately, with everyone on both sides of the aisle in on the act and bought off by lobbyists, this thing could pass with both parties' help. If that should happen, everything they do on the federal lands encompassed by this bill could be kept secret and immune from court review. What more could they ask for? Oh, maybe 200 miles, or the whole country, for security reasons of course.


Anonymous said...

You are amazing. The last part, "secret and immune from court review", is the most chilling part of all.
God help us if we stand down now.
Thanks for alerting us.
Camp Obama

Kat said...

What can we do?

Oh god. Our public lands are one of the few things that really makes life worth living for me. This is not hyperbole.

Jay - Ottawa said...

We visitors to Sardonicky consider ourselves well-informed. Enough to hold well-informed opinions. We have more time -- or make more time – to keep up with what’s going on. We found Sardonicky because we probed down into the comments section of a major newspaper. Many of us already subscribe to quality periodicals. And we all have access to the internet, where we can examine the universe from our desks. Admit it or not, when it comes to the news, we form an elite.

And still we cannot keep up. Like poets, we readers don't make anything happen. Totalists in business and government are forever far out in front of us, often on the sly, with fishy deals and backroom agreements to serve the privileged few at the expense of the many. It’s not enough to “follow the money” anymore: we have to follow the “fast money” and the “fake money” and the “disappearing money.” That’s the template for understanding so much of what is happening.

Thanks to Anne LaVoie’s fine report, HR1505 has risen to the level of “news” for many of us. Now HR1505 stands a chance of encountering a little more of the opposition it deserves, and not merely from the special elite always plugged into the Pew Foundation.

Without broad opposition, there is a real danger HR1505 will slither into law to bite us before we know what happened. The bill would grant a few interests sweeping powers over vast territory -- in contradiction to the best principles of government, which the US is supposed to embody. HR1505 would erase a library of noble legislation with the stroke of a pen. Supporters of HR1505 should at least admit they seek to destroy the Constitution in order to save it. They would destroy the work begun by John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt in order to secure it. This is the type of trade-off Naomi Kline was referring to in “The Shock Doctrine.”

HR1505 is born of fear and avarice. It would sharply curb civil liberties and place special environments, like national parks, beyond the reach of citizens for whom these lands were set aside in the first place. HR1505 would further encircle the entire US as a gated community with a security ring a hundred miles deep run by police without a review board.

So now we know what’s going on, at least in this corner. Next question: How do we kill this monster bill in its cradle?

Once upon a time the obvious answer was to pick up the phone and call your representatives. In light of today’s bought Congress, bought Administration and bought Court, a more realistic notion of how to get the undivided attention of pickpockets too big to prosecute, as well as the politicians and public servants who serve them, is to follow the lead of the nonviolent occupiers in Zuccotti Park. And, from what Karen just posted above, the many demonstrations gathering force elsewhere.

One spark is too little to hope for. We need hundreds of sparks to light the way out of our nightmare. The yearned-for American Autumn will not be in the papers until it happens in the streets. Time to stop reading the news. Time to start making the news.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Not only are our public lands important to so many Americans, they are what makes America unique in terms of tourism. Europe has its old cities and unique architecture and the U.S. has its unique natural beauty found in our national parks. I find it amazing that the corporations with the help of colluding legislators are determined to trash one of the few industries keeping ma and pa small businesses alive in this country. I guess any piece of the economy not owned by them is fair game.

I feel so weary from these constant attacks from the corporations via subversive legislation. - And of course, whenever they need it, Homeland Security is pulled out as a trump card. I am sure if there is enough publicity about this and enough public outrage, we will conveniently have some kind of terrorist threat.

Well, all we can do is fight on! Thank you so much, Anne, for such an enlightening post, bringing to our attention yet another REAL crisis that the MSM will ignore. Thank God for the blogosphere. The only place the Free Press still exists!

Anne Lavoie said...

We are all Indians now!

Remember what our Great White Fathers did to the Indians? Lied, cheated, stole, broke treaties, then conducted a genocidal campaign against them in order to eliminate the 'threat' to the their land grab. Talk about an imbalance of power. Just like we are facing.

Businessmen have been calling the shots in this country since it's inception by the Merchant-Bankers. They've had centuries to whittle away at the laws and refashion them to benefit themselves. They win elected offices with their wealth and further enrich themselves and their cronies by whatever means, including war profiteering. They have perverted and corrupted the entire system, and in the process have brought our country, not to mention parts of the world, to near ruin.

What do WE do at this point? We become engaged in the Second American Revolution which has now begun. We don't fall for trickery. We unite as The People and resist all attempts to divide us against each other. We don't trust the Great White or Black Father to do the right thing for us. We peacefully stand up and make our demands until they are met or until we are dead.

The Bill of Rights and the Constitution are foundations we can build on. They have been eroded to where they are almost pointless. We must re-build them, STRONGER than before. Legal scholars should start working on revisions that are needed to ensure that this country is of, by, and for the People, for a change.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anne,
I just re-read this today - it really ought to be posted twice. I hope you keep us updated. I "get" your Geronimo (ghoyakhla) reference, too. And, tho I was too young for Janis, I love her music. (But the original version of "piece of my heart" by Erma Franklin is also cool. If you're ever in the mood for "cool" over "hot".)
A lot of my friends didn't even know about this bill.
You're a gem of a writer, Anne. Please keep it up.
See you in Zucotti Park?
Camp Obama, H.E.

Anne Lavoie said...

I mistakenly hit the send button on that last post before I even previewed it!

If I had to pick only one demand that could fix much of what is broken in this country, it would be to restore the original laws of CORPORATE CHARTERS. That would be a game changer.

According to the website, when our country was founded, corporations were 'forbidden from attempting to influence elections, public policy, and other realms of civic society'. They were 'limited to business activities', and their charter could be 'revoked for violating the law.'

There were very good reasons that these laws were implemented from the very beginning of our country. Since then, however, the corporations have worked their usual magic with money, and laws have been changed.

There is a lot more to be said, but I will simply refer others to that great website, It includes the history of corporate charters in America.

History just keeps repeating itself. Too bad they don't teach the important stuff in school!

Anonymous said...

Bipartisanship of the useful kind:

Check this out, libertarians are as concerned as Anne is about HR 1505:


Anne Lavoie said...

"Time to stop reading the news. Time to start making the news." Yes, yes, yes!

"I feel so weary from these constant attacks from the corporations via subversive legislation." That's been my sentiments since a 1997 law authorizing entry fees simply for daring to set foot on our public lands. It was discovered that that bill was introduced by corporations (big surprise), as I suspect this one is, although they are hiding themselves better this time. It certainly takes things to a whole new Big Brother level. Finally we see clearly what they're doing.

"Our public lands are one of the few things that really makes life worth living for me." You and me a whole lot of people. It's not just our land and freedom they're taking away, it's our very Spirit.

What does the enemy need to look like before we recognize them? Do they have to have dark skin, slant eyes, a different religion? They want us to think in those terms.

What this Two-Headed Monster has done abroad, they are trying to do at home using Homeland Security: take what they want using military/security state to get it; oppress the People on their own lands; and use military/private forces to secure 'their' property such as bases, embassies, etc. Now we know how the rest of the world feels.

Excellent link. Thanks. I knew we could/should find common ground with others, such as Libertarians and Tea Party members. We need all the People joined together to oppose this Two-Headed Monster.

I have been involved in various protests and marches throughout my life, from Union to Environmental to Anti-War, but this is the cause of my life and the most daunting.

It is freedom, Democracy, and America's most precious (and valuable) lands we hope to protect, defend, and preserve against a powerful internal enemy that has control of our government and our country's economy.

This is the toughest and most important job any of us will ever have. Be sure to show up for work!