Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Occupied Winter of Our Discontent

The only thing better than the Occupy movement refusing to go into hibernation is watching the panicked reactions of the political and media elites to this deviancy.  They are shocked, shocked at this failure of people to go dormant. The protesters simply have no respect for political caucuses and commercial events like the Rose Bowl Parade, and Lady Gaga giving tongue to Mayor Bloomberg at New Year's Rockin' Eve.  Nothing -- not police batons, not encampment breakups,  not public derision, not attempted co-optation, not pretending they just don't exist -- is making the 99% shut up and go away.

Take DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, for example-- all fired up and ready to go with her Pro-bama talking points as she arrived in Iowa.  And the first thing reporters asked was if she will meet with the protesters. She was visibly miffed at being forced off-message. "I just got here at one o'clock in the morning!" she fumed. "I mean, really!"

She grudgingly admitted that Occupiers "have a right to be frustrated."  She carefully did not add that they also have a right to protest and demonstrate, probably referring to the "die-in" at a Des Moines hotel in which 50 Occupiers lay down in protest of Obama's signing of the NDAA.  This factual event simply does not jibe with the campaign propaganda that Obama is a warrior for the middle class and not an eviscerator of the Bill of Rights. Wasserman Schultz's claim that Occupy is in Iowa to protest mainly against Republicans does not hold water, and she knows it.  So the Democratic machine is taking the "maybe if we ignore them, they will go away" route.

Not so some Republicans, just itching at the chance to do real, physical damage to the protesters. The Heartland shall not be outdone by the paramilitary thugs on the liberal coasts, by golly!  From Politico:

Iowa state Rep. Clel Baudler predicted that potential protestors at his caucus site in Adair County should expect a response that "will be swift and it will be sure."
"Since I'm not a state trooper anymore, they probably won't be handcuffed - but I have friends," Baudler said. "If an officer asks for help, I will help, believe me."
"We're just not going to tolerate in rural Iowa what's going on in the big metropolitan areas," Baudler said. "A little thump therapy never hurt anybody."
Meanwhile, if you watched yesterday's Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, you may not be aware that Occupy had its own floats in its own parade.That's because corporate TV network CBS chose not to include the giant vampire squid of Wall Street float in its show. (Though they made sure to include the dead stuffed horse of Dead Roy Rogers.  His name was/is Trigger. That was to subliminally remind the political class that the rentier class wants those spending cut triggers of the failed Supercommittee to be pulled, post-haste). Here is how Dave Dayen of Firedoglake described it (h/t Kate M.):
The alternative march, known as Occupy the Rose Parade, (happened) in full view of the attendees in the stands who (were) asked to remain seated as the protesters promenaded down the avenue. It’s part of a larger movement featuring remnants of the core of several Southern California occupations as well as disaffected activists, all struggling to figure out how to advance what burst onto the scene this fall and best achieve meaningful political and social change.
(Pics and video can be found here.)

And while you may have been watching coverage of the docile herds of New Year's Eve corporate-logoed zombie revelers in Times Square on TV the other night, there was no coverage of the attempted retaking of Zuccotti Park and the ensuing police brutality and crushing of press freedom we have come to expect from Bloomberg's fascist fiefdom. The cops are telling The New York Times that they have unlimited power now.  And they like it.  Like pitbulls who are born and bred to clamp down and never let go, they have developed an addictive taste for blood.  Be sure to read what Times reporter Michael Powell (one of the best writers they have, in my opinion) has to say on this frightening state of affairs, which has most people reacting with a yawning "so what?"  Here's an excerpt from his most recent "Gotham" column:
And three nights ago, at a New Year’s Eve demonstration at Zuccotti Park, a captain began pushing Colin Moynihan, a reporter covering the protest for The Times. After the reporter asked the captain to stop, another officer threatened to yank away his police press pass. “That’s a boss; you do what a boss tells you,” the officer said, adding a little later, “You got that credential you’re wearing from us, and we can take it away from you.”
Reporting and policing can be high-adrenaline jobs. . But the decade-long trajectory in New York is toward expanded police power. Officers routinely infiltrate groups engaged in lawful dissent, spy on churches and mosques, and often toss demonstrators and reporters around with impunity.
When this is challenged, the police commissioner and the mayor often shrug it off and fight court orders. The mayor even argued that to let the press watch the police retake Zuccotti Park would be to violate the privacy of protesters. “It wouldn’t be fair,” he said.
United States of the Homeland circa 2012

Weimar Republic, circa 1931


Denis Neville said...

Why “Occupy” is the Word of the Year in the Winter of Our Discontent

Excerpts from Bill Moyers’ keynote remarks for Public Citizen’s 40th Anniversary Gala


“During the prairie revolt that swept the Great Plains a century after the Constitution was ratified, the populist orator Mary Elizabeth Lease exclaimed: "Wall Street owns the country...Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The [political] parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us...Money rules."

That was 1890. Those agrarian populists boiled over with anger that corporations, banks, and government were ganging up to deprive every day people of their livelihood.

She should see us now...the Gilded Age is back with a vengeance…

It's clear they are occupying Wall Street because Wall Street has occupied the country. And that's why in public places across the country workaday Americans are standing up in solidarity. Did you see the sign a woman was carrying at a fraternal march in Iowa the other day? It read: "I can't afford to buy a politician so I bought this sign."

Take heart from the past and don't ever count the people out. During the last quarter of the 19th century, the industrial revolution created extraordinary wealth at the top and excruciating misery at the bottom. Embattled citizens rose up. Into their hearts, wrote the progressive Kansas journalist William Allen White, "had come a sense that their civilization needed recasting, that their government had fallen into the hands of self-seekers, that a new relation should be established between the haves and have-nots." Not content to wring their hands and cry "Woe is us" everyday citizens researched the issues, organized to educate their neighbors, held rallies, made speeches, petitioned and canvassed, marched and marched again. They ploughed the fields and planted the seeds - sometimes in bloody soil - that twentieth century leaders used to restore "the general welfare" as a pillar of American democracy. They laid down the now-endangered markers of a civilized society: legally ordained minimum wages, child labor laws, workmen's safety and compensation laws, pure foods and safe drugs, Social Security, Medicare, and rules that promote competitive markets over monopolies and cartels. Remember: Democracy doesn't begin at the top; it begins at the bottom, when flesh-and-blood human beings fight to rekindle the patriot's dream.

The Patriot's Dream? Arlo Guthrie, remember? He wrote could be the unofficial anthem of Zuccotti Park. Listen up:

Living now here but for fortune
Placed by fate's mysterious schemes
Who'd believe that we're the ones asked
To try to rekindle the patriot's dreams

Arise sweet destiny, time runs short
All of your patience has heard their retort
Hear us now for alone we can't seem
To try to rekindle the patriot's dreams

Can you hear the words being whispered
All along the American stream
Tyrants freed the just are imprisoned
Try to rekindle the patriot's dreams

Ah but perhaps too much is being asked of too few
You and your children with nothing to do
Hear us now for alone we can't seem
To try to rekindle the patriot's dreams

Who, in these cynical times, when democracy is on the ropes and the blows of great wealth pound and pound and pound again against America's body politic - who would dream such a radical thing?”

Anne Lavoie said...

As far as I can tell from various regional newspapers, the Right Wing thinks we Occupy protesters are 'useful idiots' and of course Communists. Some are even praising Joe McCarthy and how HE was victimized. I fear it could get ugly out there, especially hearing that some police are even getting the same attitude. Being labeled the 'enemy' or 'domestic terrorists' couldn't be very far off, even if the real terrorizing is being done by the authorities.

Locally speaking, I can report that our Occupy gathering recently noticed what we believe to be an undercover cop passing through our group. He was a big strapping man in his mid-3os out on a slow, leisurely walk in his running shoes with earbuds in, right through the middle of our group, in an unlikely walking location on a cold and blustery day. After 10 consecutive weeks of seeing no other pedestrians at all (which he wouldn't have known), and in far better weather, he kind of drew our eye immediately.

So heads up to all Occupiers out there. If someone drops by, out of character or the usual pattern of behavior, realize that you might be under surveillance and be on your best behavior! The good thing about having regulars around is they notice patterns, details, and discrepancies.

Anyway, the cops and other authorities certainly aren't ignoring Occupy, they are just pretending to.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Part I:

The circa 1931 Weimar Republic photo that Karen includes is appropriate.

The book “Alternatives to Hitler; German Resistance Under the Third Reich”, by Hans Mommsen, (English translation published 2003 by Princeton University Press) provides an interesting look not at the minute tactical details of resistance (important though they are), but rather, at the cultural-intellectual-political backgrounds of some of those involved in the 20 July 1944 attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler.

The book is worth a read. Its description of conditions within Germany has considerable relevance to our present situation, and the trend we see in the United States. No, the U.S. isn’t a tyranny in any way comparable to Nazi Germany, and we’re not ruled by a Hitler. But since 9-11, there has been a serious, continuing, and ultimately highly dangerous expansion of governmental authoritarianism, and the populace has been largely supportive. Consider a few excerpts from Mommsen’s book. (I consider these limited quotes, from a book that runs over 300 pages, to constitute fair use):

(pages 36-37):

“It is not easy to admit that Nazism, or some of the goals for which it stood, had become so deeply ingrained in the thinking and behavior of the German masses that the forces of resistance could only be mobilized though deeply religious and ultimately utopian thinking. …

At no point in time could the circle of plotters count on finding wide support among the population. Father Delp’s careful research and Leber’s inquiries showed that the mass of the industrial workforce was relatively loyal in its support of the regime. … The communists actually found that the attempts to expand their underground organization beyond the circle of former party cadres and to address middle-class and Christian groups were almost hopeless and merely ran the risk of Gestapo intervention. …

However, what most typified the internal situation under the Third Reich was the fact that the broad middle class had completely succumbed to the undertow of Nazi propaganda [my bolding]. Representatives of skilled trades, commerce, and industry, and even the liberal professions, were completely absent from the resistance. … Furthermore, macro-economists […] who were brought in as experts, held views on social policy which were scarcely distinguishable from those of the Nazi regime, however much they condemned it in other areas.”

Denis Neville said...

The Winter of Our Discontent

Today President Obama chose not to use his authority to make the recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, even though he had a brief window to do so.

As James Traynor said...“Follow the money.”

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Part II:

From Mommsen, pages 163-164, in a chapter on Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg, are additional eerie similarities:

“… What is harder to explain is why a personality of such remarkable human and professional stature could for years hold the mistaken belief that, under the conditions of the Third Reich, it was possible to work constructively and point the way to a new future. It is not easy for those living today to appreciate the psychological power of the myth of a national renaissance, which Nazi propaganda was able to exploit successfully. … the myth of a fundamental new beginning, which had failed in 1918 and was now overdue, goes a long way towards explaining the otherwise incomprehensible willingness to give the new system the benefit of the doubt. …

In view of the considerable degree of ideological identity between the neo-conservative movement and the ostensible goals of the Nazi Party, it is not surprising that the neo-conservatives, more than anyone, displayed a political blindness that even the nationalistic euphoria of 1914 had failed to induce. … It was the academic intelligentsia, vacillating between the party lines, who were particularly prone to wishful political thinking, willing to overlook the obvious weaknesses of the Nazi government and its Fuhrer; the same was true of the exponents of the presidential system… . As a background to this there were seething social resentments, culminating in an exaggerated anti-communism that coincided with the interests of the German upper class. When we read time and again in the literature about the susceptibility of the ‘masses’ as a factor in the Nazis’ success in mobilizing support, we should not overlook the fact that large groups in the upper echelons of society and government were equally subject to an irrational collective neurosis, culminating in the hope that the Nazi Party would, if properly handled, strip off its anarchic garb and willingly take its part in the keenly anticipated ‘national state’.”

My succinct read of the above: The possible comparisons to the Tea Party, the Republican Party, and certain Democrats of contemporary United States politics are striking. Will the damage in the twenty-first century be as bad as was the case in the 1930s and 1940s when such pathological political attitudes took hold?

Suzan said...

Love you, Karen!

Great reporting!

We had a number of unknown "individuals" urging violence right at the beginning of the Occupy Greensboro planning sessions.

When I pointed out to anyone who would listen that they were probably plants, many of the kids harumphed about it as not being possible in tiny little Greensboro, but they disappeared so quickly after being cut short from the podium (after a polite listen, of course) that most people acknowledged later that that was obviously who they were.

Again, my thanks for continuing to spread light on this subject.


Denis Neville said...


Thanks for sharing “Alternatives to Hitler; German Resistance Under the Third Reich.”

“What most typified the internal situation under the Third Reich was the fact that the broad middle class had completely succumbed to the undertow of Nazi propaganda”

Last night on PBS I watched “Martin Luther – Driven to Defiance.”

I was reminded of the shocking capitulation of the German church to Hitler in the 1930s.

How could the church of Martin Luther do that?

Eric Metaxas’ “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich” is the story of one person’s moral courage in the face of monstrous evil. When many of his allies wavered, even Martin Niemoller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was convinced that the church must stand up to the Nazis. When someone asked Bonhoeffer whether he shouldn’t join the German Christians in order to work against them from within, he answered that he couldn’t. “If you board the wrong train,” he said, “it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.”

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Denis Neville asks how the church of Martin Luther could capitulate to Hitler?

Without being knowledgeable about those specifics, I would speculate that it was the same forces of evolution that operate elsewhere, and as I've said before, nothing under evolution is guaranteed. A religion, a corporation, a political party, a government --- all can move to a bad place either under a process akin to genetic drift with inadequate counterbalance by favorable selection, or via being deliberately pulled in the wrong direction by its “leadership” and/or external forces. There are many examples across all spheres of human endeavors that demonstrate the benefits of good leadership, and what can go wrong when leadership is inadequate, or bad.

Thanks, Denis for the forever appropriate quotes from Bonhoeffer.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Bonhoeffer’s illustration about the futility of running to the rear of a train as it speeds in the opposite direction is arresting.

Pardon the vagueness of the following account; it’s derived from a true story replete with proper names, most of which detail I’ve forgotten. The point may still be made without a lack of precision on my part and echoes the comments made by Fred and Denis.

Sometime before Mussolini fell, or maybe soon after WWII, there was a charismatic Italian who founded a few schools for youths. The children were given enough leeway to teach their elders at times. One day some of the more advanced students set up a math problem along these lines: If 5 of the school’s teachers are fascists and the remaining 20 are neutral, how many fascist teachers are there in the school? The answer, of course, is 25.

Our main problem is not so much with the 1%. It’s with that number within the 99% who remain neutral. There are many reasons for their neutrality, none of which amount to much in the end.

Jay - Ottawa said...

I meant to add this link. It lists what one academic isolated as the 14 characteristics of a fascist or near-fascist state.

Fred Drumlevitch said...


Below is the historical question for you that I referred to earlier, in my January 2 comment near the end of the comments to Karen’s "Happy New Year, B.S. Edition" December 31 post. I’m posting my question here, both because this newer thread is more current, and because we’ve gotten onto the subject of the politics of Nazi Germany, and resistance to tyranny.

(Of course, my question is also open to anyone else, conservative or progressive, who is either knowledgeable on the subject, willing to research it, of just has an opinion).

In a December 17 comment to Karen’s Dec. 15 post “The United States of Gitmo”, Neil made the point that Nazi Germany took some of its inspiration for its eugenics programs directly from U.S. eugenics laws and actions. That historical link that Neil brought up, while not generally known to most Americans, is absolutely true — and is shameful. (I know of it from my background in the biological sciences).

We might like to believe in an inevitable improvement trend in government, laws, and societal beliefs over the course of history — that countries will be attuned to the development of beneficent new ideas elsewhere and will adopt them, leading to the aforementioned improvement trend in human history. However, that above example involving eugenics is certainly one case where the course of history was terribly retrograde, bad ideas spreading and becoming even worse. A favorable direction to history is not guaranteed.

So here is my question (buried in preamble): I have heard that, in a perverse “repayment”, one might say, of the flow of eugenics laws from the U.S. to Germany, that some of the U.S. gun control laws owe not only their existence, but some of their structure, and even their language, to Nazi-era German gun control laws (as well as to Soviet ones) intended to consolidate governmental power. I know that some of the motivation behind U.S. laws was the assassinations of political figures in the ‘60s, civil unrest, and before that, segregationist whites in the U.S. South wanting to prevent blacks from having the means to defend themselves from white racist violence. Therefore, any Nazi German influence was only partial. But my question is: did it occur? (I seem to remember an article on the topic given to me by someone probably two decades ago, but if I still have it, I wouldn’t know where it now is, and in any event, I don’t know if it was trustworthy scholarship).

Zee said...

A couple of threads ago @Anne Lavoie asked me to share areas where a Conservative can find common ground with Progressives--to which I responded and will have yet more to say.

Here is another area in which I find agreement with you Progressives. I am generally sympathetic to the OWS movement, and share their/your outrage regarding Wall Street’s obscene influence over our government, and concerning the deleterious effects of income inequality on our society.

When I hear politicians talk casually of “thump therapy,” read of suppression of the press by the police, and see the brutal manner in which OWS have been treated by police (e.g., pepper spraying at my alma mater, UC Davis), I am both appalled and frightened.

These are news stories that I usually won’t find in the mainstream media; I only find them through my participation in Sardonicky, and Reality Chex.

As others have already said, “Great reporting, Ms. Garcia--and thank you!”

Anne Lavoie said...

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Denis, thanks for this wonderful quote. Since the beginning of Obama's Presidency, I have been disturbed by his silence and tried to figure it out. I have come up with 3 probable causes:

(1) He thinks everything is about HIM, and he has a 'brand' to protect of being a cool, calm, and forgiving (as in Christian-turn-the-other-cheek-for-more) conciliator. He is exceptional, after all.

(2) He thinks everything is about HIM and doesn't want to air our dirty laundry to the world, similar to how the numbers of civilian deaths in his wars and drone strikes are handled. Again, it's the need to maintain the illusion of being exceptional.

(3) He thinks everything is about HIM, and he has a very limited capacity for caring about others, unless they are in his loyal family or inner circle; are his loyal troops serving under his command in the military; or are the filthy rich loyally donating to his continuing campaign for power, which he reciprocates.

Whether any of it is due to his strange childhood we can only speculate, but no matter the cause, the effect is still evil. And now we have his sins of sins of commission as well as omission to deal with. Dog help us!

Zee said...

@Fred Drumlevitch—

Hi, Fred!

I have studied the broader issue of gun control for over thirty years now, but I am unaware of any links between Nazi-era (or Soviet) gun control laws and laws passed here in the U.S.

However, it would not surprise me if such accounts are floating around on the Internet, possibly of dubious origins. In their zeal to oppose gun control, many pro-gun individuals have concocted spurious quotes from the Founding Fathers, phony gun ban laws supposedly under consideration in Congress, etc., to further their cause.

This only taints the efforts of legitimate scholars who are researching what the Founding Fathers really meant by the Second Amendment, as well as hindering honest pro-gun proponents who resist the most confiscatory laws proposed by such entities as The Violence Policy Center and The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

I have found many purported accounts of gun registration andconfiscation by the Nazis in the nineteen-thirties, all intended to further opposition to registration in this country. Again, however, these accounts seem to me to be of doubtful scholarship, and floated by special interest groups with clear agendas.

This article might be of interest to you as an account of recent, racially-motivated gun control legislation in California when the Black Panthers started to arm themselves in the sixties:


It’s not just the Klan that wanted to see Black people disarmed.

@Anne Lavoie—

I did start to answer your question regarding common ground between Conservatives—or, at least, this Conservative—in the thread following Ms. Garcia’s post entitled “Same Old New Year.” I plan to follow up with more remarks in the same thread.

Denis Neville said...

Listened to Chris Hedges today.


His statement on having faith in movements as opposed to politicians speaks volumes.


When asked about comparisons with Germany of the 1930s, Hedges responded “most frightening” was the “Weimarization” of the today’s American working class.

Also, interesting were his frustrations with the liberal church, which reminded me of Bonhoeffer and the German Church.

An engrossing three hours!

Denis Neville said...

@ Zee,

The history of Weimar and Nazi gun laws would be interesting.

I am aware of two contrasting references:

1) “Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German Jews,” by Stephen P. Halbrook in the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law.


“In much of the literature and argument, the references to Hitler and Nazi gun laws
are often dressed in Second Amendment rhetoric. The message, in essence, is that the
Founders specifically crafted the Second Amendment to protect the Republic from
dictators—and that Adolf Hitler proved the Founders right. “Disarming political
opponents was a categorical imperative of the Nazi regime,” Halbrook explains. “The
Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was not recognized in the German Reich.”

“Not surprisingly, the Nazi-gun-registration argument has entered the public
lexicon and is repeatedly rehearsed today on the opinion pages of newspapers across the
country. Most of the time, the message is simple: gun registration will lead to
confiscation, and confiscation to tyranny, as demonstrated in the German experience.” (these quotes from second reference below)

2) “On Gun Registration, The NRA, Adolf Hitler, and Nazi Gun Laws: Exploding the Gun Culture Wars,” by Bernard E. Harcourt at the University of Chicago Law School, counters Halbrook.


“Why is it, then, that gun registration would trigger images of Adolf Hitler and the
Holocaust among so many Americans? The obvious answer is that these debates are
not about history, nor are they about truth. These are cultural arguments. They are the
stark manifestations of one of our most heated culture wars today—the gun wars.”

Anne Lavoie said...

I'm not sure if any of you heard about this, but it is good news for the battle against Citizen United and may be the case that brings it back to the Supreme Court.

It comes from here in Montana relating to a challenge to the Montana Corrupt Practices Act of 1912 by a corporate front group based in Washington DC. The century-old Act bans direct corporate expenditures intended to help or hurt political candidates.

"By resounding 5-2 majority, the Justices rejected the argument that the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission rendered the Montana's Corrupt Practice's Act unconstitutional. Montana becomes the first state in the nation to successfully defend a law challenged on the basis of Citizens United, and should inspire others.

The majority opinion is an extraordinarily informative one -- perhaps written with an eye toward educating the U.S. Supreme Court Justices in the event the Montana ruling is appealed. The ruling details the real-world corruption this statute helped stop and has helped prevent for nearly 100 years."

Anyone who wants to read the ruling in detail can find it in pdf format at:


Kat said...

@Anne-- interesting anakysis and it probably gets to the heart of why Newt and Obama make my skin crawl so much-- why I have such a visceral reaction to them when they appear on TV. I mean, it's not like I'm in love with Romney or the rest, but my reaction to those two is different. And I guess it is because they are such narcissists.

Karen-- do you ever leave comments on TF columns, because today I could have used one from you. What the hell is this gobbledygook?:

"And the globalization side of this revolution is integrating more and more of these empowered people into ecosystems, where they can innovate and manufacture more products and services that make people’s lives more healthy, educated, entertained, productive and comfortable.

The best of these ecosystems will be cities and towns that combine a university, an educated populace, a dynamic business community and the fastest broadband connections on earth. These will be the job factories of the future. The countries that thrive will be those that build more of these towns that make possible “high-performance knowledge exchange and generation,” explains Blair Levin, who runs the Aspen Institute’s Gig.U project, a consortium of 37 university communities working to promote private investment in next-generation ecosystems." Blah blah blah.

Karen Garcia said...

I occasionally comment on Friedman, but skipped remarking upon his latest drivel because others had already succeeded in eviscerating him. He just makes a few changes from column to column (last month it was N.C.'s Golden Triangle as the promised land, today it was Austin) about the glories of entrepreneurship and globalization. He is just an expensive brand name,his glory days of reporting far behind him.

Zee said...

@Denis Neville--

Thank you for the two contrasting references on Nazi gun laws! As they are both quite lengthy, I have printed them both off and will read them as I can find time.

At the risk of sounding like a “suck-up,” I continue to be amazed by the breadth and depth of knowledge possessed by so many participants both here and over at Reality Chex.

I have several books by Halbrook, for instance, yet I am largely unaware of his publications in scholarly journals. Yet, you dig them out in an instant.

I used to regard myself as well-informed, but now I look back on my narrow education and highly focused career--which have given me a very good life--and wonder what I have missed...

I guess that's why I'm here.

Denis Neville said...

There is an interesting article by Montana School of Law Professor Howell on Montana’s history of corporate corruption that led to the ruling by the Montana Supreme Court’s decision in The Montana Law Review.


“Montana‘s continued fight to restrict independent corporate expenditures in campaigns for elected office is rooted in the State‘s history of corrupt elections during the War of the Copper Kings, which took place at the turn of the twentieth century.”

“He is said to have bought legislatures and judges as other men buy food and raiment. By his example he has so excused and so sweetened corruption that in Montana it no longer has an offensive smell.” - Mark Twain

“At the time, the State was infamous for what historian K. Ross Toole described as the massive corruption of the machinery of government that resulted from the willingness of three mining barons, or copper kings, to spend millions of dollars in their battle to control both Montana‘s vast copper deposits and its government. That corruption led fed-up Montana voters to enact by citizen initiative the State‘s first ban on corporate campaign expenditures, the Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which was the precursor to the statute at issue in Western Tradition.”

“One hundred years later, that same history of corruption, according to Montana‘s Attorney General Steve Bullock, provides the compelling interest necessary for the Montana Supreme Court to uphold the Montana statute even after Citizens United struck down a similar federal statute as facially unconstitutional. As one opposing amicus brief in Western Tradition phrased it, the Attorney General is seeking a Montana Exception‘ to the Free Speech Clause‖ based on this State‘s unique history of corrupt elections a century ago.”

“In the Western Tradition Partnership case before the Montana Supreme Court, the Montana Attorney General argued that Citizens United does not invalidate Montana‘s 100-year-old ban on independent corporate expenditures because the law was originally enacted directly by Montanans trying to take their state back from the corporations that had seized control of it.”

By upholding the statute, the Montana Supreme Court may give the U.S. Supreme Court the opportunity to reconsider its ill-advised decision in Citizens United.

But maybe not.

One of two dissenting justices wrote,” I have never had to write a more frustrating dissent,” because he did not personally agree with the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Citizens United. “The problem, however, is that regardless of how persuasive I may think the Attorney General’s justifications are, the Supreme Court has already rebuffed each and every one of them. Accordingly, as much as I would like to rule in favor of the State, I cannot in good faith do so.” He concluded by stating that he would not be surprised if the United States Supreme Court reversed the ruling summarily on appeal.

James F Traynor said...

Was it ever the winter of our discontent, certainly mine. I just listened to Hedges on C-span. I find myself in almost total agreement. I found it surprising that he, also, nurses a certain contempt for liberals. I know that I'm probably unfair in this but, like he, I spent a fair portion of my life down there in the nitty-gritty. It is the reason for my recent comment on 'cognitive dissonance' for which Anne took me to task and for which I remain unrepentant. Liberals just don't get it. I like them but I always have the sense that they're going to get me, and them, in deep shit. They just don't understand the enemy.

I fervently hope Hedges and the rest of you are right about nonviolence but I have extreme doubts on the subject. Certainly it would verge on the insane for demonstrators to engage in it. But there will be, almost certainly, extreme violence against them if they do so or not. Then what?

Valerie said...

I wish I could offer a comment of the calibre that has been offered so far on this thread, but I am not in your league! All I can say is bravo!

Denis, the profound nature of that quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer brought tears to my eyes - what power, what sincerity, what integrity, what truth!

This has been a wonderful thread for me to read – it feels like cool water washing over my thirsty soul. We are on vacation and spending time with my husband's family and friends from yesteryear. All of them are seemingly nice people and very successful by society's standards - but their conversation, interests, politics and paradigms are incredibly shallow. They have absolutely no interest in anything that conflicts with their comfortable paradigm - which amounts to “God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.” They certainly don't appreciate my analysis of the state of the U.S. and the world in general – how dare I rain on their parade! I can only take them in small amounts because fter a half hour of conversation I just want to shake them and scream, "Say something meaningful! Give a shit about someone other than yourself!"

I agree that through their silence and compliance - their willingness to accept propaganda (the Jews MUST have done SOMETHING to bring this all down on themselves), that the German middle class can be held complicit for what went on in Germany during the Nazi time, especially in the early years when fear wasn't their motivation for compliance. I must say, I see so many parallels in the attitudes of that period and now. "As long as I am OK under this new regime, I will stay silent." Occupy might be all about the 99% but a huge hunk of that 99% is willing to let someone else do the heavy lifting while they pursue other interests – mainly self-interests. Social justice, good governance and decent society are ideas/thoughts that never enter their empty minds. It is frustrating indeed!

DreamsAmelia said...

Dear Valerie--do I ever hear you!! Ditto with my family, although I have to admit I was amused to discover a hopeful chink of deviance, as one of my relatives furtively professed intrigue with Christopher Hitchens' atheism, while his confessor urged him to shush before his father heard him...ever proof that not all the wars nor death camps nor solitary confinement in history shall ever mold the human spirit into a false conformity, which is just a chimera of narcissistic rulers, be they politicians or petty rulers in any hierarchical structure...resistance springs eternal, confounding both tyrannical aspirations, equally as it makes the utopian (or even pseudo-utopian) hard to achieve...
I assumed Karen would have some comment on our not-Elizabeth Warren recess appointment to the CPFB--and I continue to be increasingly disconsolate at the irrevocable march rightward of reader comments at the Times.
Chris Hedges is absolutely correct--those of us who have not spent a decade or more outside the U.S. recently are not fully aware of how chillingly the entire electorate is steadily marching rightward--and his assessment that the death of the liberal class-which is supposed to define the CENTER!!--means the death of Democracy echoes all the comments of late here. (I hope to watch all 3 hours of the in-depth interview, but thanks, Denis, for the link, as well as all the great links here).
It seems absurd to me that we should have to Occupy for what used to be taken as a matter of course by our major news commentators like Walter Chronkite, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and Peter Jennings--those guys are suddenly now all liberal firebrands! Yet this recasting is very much in line with the 14 traits of a fascist state--thanks, Jay, for the link....

Ah, well, how do we gnash our teeth at so many confounding tyrannies? Let me count the ways...so the beat of the blogs continue....

"Cat" will do said...

Here's the thing: The Left (and occupiers are, insofar as classical econopolitical thought goes, share the wealth fairly Lefties) need to be able to speak more engagingly (read: frame) about the diffs between the thinking and values of the Haves vs. the Have nots so the have nots can hear a clear message.

my thoughts about how to do that in simple , practical language (with a wee bit o snark to give it punch?



and here


Fred Drumlevitch said...

Thanks to Denis, Zee, Jay, and everyone who has commented on the issues I raised. While contemporary political motivations, actions (or lack thereof), and effects are in many cases more important nowadays than what occurred or may have occurred decades ago, those old actions can (and should) be disturbing, and instructive. All of us who comment on this forum know the old Santayana/Burke saying about what happens to those who ignore the past.

Thanks, Zee for that Atlantic article reference, which I read yesterday. I previously knew some, but not all, of the details described.

Thanks, Denis, for those two articles on both sides of the issue. Echoing Zee, I’ll say that it’ll take me some time to read and properly digest them. One preliminary reaction, though. Given the University of Chicago’s less-than-sterling reputation on social and economic justice (as Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire, recently quipped: It “is the home office for the ‘Pauperhood Is Good For You’ school of economic analysis”), perhaps one should be suspicious of the second paper!

With minimal googling, I came up with several other items of possible relevance to the question I raised regarding possible Nazi influences on American gun control laws. The second link references a 1993 article in the magazine “Guns and Ammo”, which might even be the article that was given to me I roughly estimated two decades ago. I don’t currently have time to follow up on any of this, but perhaps some weeks hence I might try via some of the databases to which I have access. I’m not at all bothered by an allegation that a U.S. Senator possessed, or requested the translation of, Nazi-era gun control laws. (I myself have read items that range from far left to far right politically). I would, however, consider it more than a bit troubling if legislation on which that Senator worked bore a resemblance to such Nazi “law”.





I had previously seen the list of fascist traits at the link to secularhumanism.org provided by Jay. It’s well worth a long look.

So is the long Chris Hedges interview referenced by Denis. I watched the first two hours yesterday evening, and hope to find time to watch the remaining hour sometime during the next few days. There is one particular point on which I’m not in full agreement with Hedges (or Denis). While I understand the argument for focus on a movement itself, as opposed to the centrality of personalities, nevertheless, I believe that a forceful personality working for good can do wonders (i.e. think MLK, or FDR; for those of a more fundamental Christian persuasion, think Jesus). Furthermore, a headless movement can founder badly, and is not immune to co-optation.

Re Cat’s comment (at her link): “Why everyone isn't organizing a national strike is unfathomable. Our middle eastern fellow planet citizens have put us all to shame. But that's because they're fed up, and aren't worried about ruining their FICO scores if they go against the man.” Succinctly put, and very true.

@Valerie and DreamsAmelia: Most of us have some relatives of the type you describe. Just keep thinking of your interactions with them on matters related to politics and social justice as vital research regarding their world view, and what, if anything, might be said to change it (as “Cat” will do also suggested).