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Thursday, February 24, 2011

US Army Uses Psy-Ops on US Politicians to Support War; The Right Lies About and Attacks On Unions; Republican Racists; Blood Type Means Nothing; more

- US Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators
    The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in "psychological operations" to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.
- The Case For Not Ignoring Beck and Palin
    I understand what Lind is getting at, and there's something to be said for taking the high road and cultivating an accessible progressive media culture to explain "how liberalism is rooted in American values and history." But that's not mutually exclusive of documenting the eccentricities of the right's blowhards and malcontents. Actually, I think those two concepts work pretty well in concert with one another. But in the end, whatever blowback the left receives from mocking Palin and Beck will be insignificant compared to the damage that could be done by ignoring them.
- You are What You Bleed: In Japan and Other East Asian Countries Some Believe Blood Type Dictates Personality
    Although researchers have established that no scientific basis exists for ketsueki-gata [the belief that blood type dictates personality], why does the theory continue to pervade popular Japanese culture? According to Tokyo Woman’s Christian University psychology professor Kiyoshi Ando, blood types could be a convenient topic of conversation, hold appeal as a predictor of destiny and behavior, and can serve as an outside authority for people to rely upon in order to avoid complex thinking and judgment. At extremes, blood typing can influence how people understand and describe their world, how they define themselves, and shape how decisions are made.
- 'Chamber Gate 2011':  Leaked E-mails Validate Aggressive Tactics
    opponents of the [Republican supporting] Chamber of Commerce and its pro-business agenda, the aggressive push-back described in the documents served both as confirmation of the hardball tactics employed by conservatives and as a backhanded validation of the kind of guerrilla strategy they hope to employ to undercut the Chamber and other big-spending, corporate-funded groups in the next election cycle.
- 'Growing Anger in Pakistan Over US CIA/Blackwater Killings
    New revelations about a CIA contractor in custody for shooting two men dead heaped pressure on Pakistan's fragile government Tuesday and exposed burning public mistrust of Washington.
- American Who Sparked Diplomatic Crisis Over Lahore Shooting was CIA Spy
    The American who shot dead two men in Lahore, triggering a diplomatic crisis between Pakistan and the US, is a CIA agent who was on assignment at the time.
- Limbaugh Falsely Claims Wisconsin's Union-Busting Proposal Will Help Resolve State's Budget Deficit
    Rush Limbaugh claimed that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposed union-busting bill is designed to "save union jobs" from a budget crisis that would necessitate layoffs. In reality, the parts of the bill restricting collective bargaining would not affect Wisconsin's budget shortfall.
- Egypt offers Support to US Workers Facing Republican Attacks
    With protesters holding firm in Wisconsin and rockers showing up in support, a stirring statement of solidarity from Egyptian activist Kamal Abbasand, head of an umbrella organization of independent unions. From Michael Moore.
- Uprisings: From the Middle East to the Midwest
    As many as 80,000 people marched to the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison on Saturday as part of an ongoing protest against newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to not just badger the state’s public employee unions, but to break them. The Madison uprising follows on the heels of those in the Middle East. A sign held by one university student, an Iraq War vet, read, “I went to Iraq and came home to Egypt?” Another read, “Walker: Mubarak of the Midwest.” Likewise, a photo has circulated in Madison of a young man at a rally in Cairo, with a sign reading, “Egypt supports Wisconsin workers: One world, one pain.”
- Torturing Detroit's Kids for Racist Fun and Profit
    Corporate America and its servants in the [conservative] Democratic and [entire] Republican parties care nothing for the education of Black, inner city school children, and the proof is in Detroit, for all to see. The State of Michigan, controlled, like every other state in the country, by business interests, has ordered Detroit to close down half of its public schools, and increase class sizes to 60 students. That’s double the number that any respectable educator considers suitable for classroom work, and tantamount to a declaration that Detroit’s public school students will not be provided an education. In a modern society, this is the equivalent of declaring Detroit – an overwhelmingly Black metropolis – a failed state.

[Right Wing Climate Change Deniers and Tea Party Organizers] Koch Brothers "Prank" No Laughing Matter
by Mary Bottari
Published February 24, 2011 on

Embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came under fire today after news broke about statements he made in a 20-minute phone call from a Boston-area alternative news reporter posing as David Koch, a billionaire whose PAC directly supported Walker and who has given millions to groups that have run ads to aid Walker's rise to the state's highest office. (Listen to the call here.)

As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, the Koch PAC not only spent $43,000 directly on Walkers race, but Koch personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association which spent $5 million in the state. Besides the Governor, the Koch brothers have other “vested interests" in the state.

They include Koch Pipeline Company, which operates a pipeline system that crosses Wisconsin. It also owns Flint Hill Resources, which distributes refined fuel through pipelines and terminals in Junction City, Waupun, Madison and Milwaukee. Koch Industries also owns the C. Reiss Coal Company, a power plant company located in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan.

The Koch brothers opened a lobby shop in Wisconsin two days after Walker was elected, and many protesters have suspected that the “budget repair bill” provisions allowing the no-bid sell-off of any state-owned heating, cooling, or power plant, plus new rules on pipeline transport may be of interest to Koch. The company has denied any interest in these assets.

Pink Slips as Poker Chips Raises Legal Concerns

At the start of the conversation Walker eagerly reports on all he is doing: 

 First, he tells the fake Koch brother about a plan to change Senate rules on pay to reel-in the out-of state Democratic senators who are holding out to protect collective bargaining. The new rule would force the Senators to pick up their paychecks in person. This rule was passed in a partisan vote in the Senate yesterday -- a move that went unnoticed by the mainstream press. 

The fake Koch asks Walker how they might get others in Senate to vote to stop collective bargaining. Walker responds that he's involved the Justice Department in investigating whether the union is paying the absent Democratic senators to remain out of state, or providing them with food, shelter, etc., saying it would be an ethics violation or potentially a felony. Wisconsin legislators are well aware of these rules and have already stated they are using their own money while they are out of state.

But the Governor also explains how he is going to lay off thousands of Wisconsin workers as a tactic to get the Democrats to cooperate: "So, we’re trying about four or five different angles. Each day we crank up a little bit more pressure. The other thing is I’ve got layoff notices ready, we put out the at-risk notices, we’ll announce Thursday, they’ll go out early next week and we’ll probably get five to six thousand state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might
 ratchet that up a little bit too."

The move has been called “despicable” and “ruthless “ and “sickening.” But most importantly, if Walker is choosing to lay off workers as a political tactic when he wasn’t otherwise planning to do so, then it is not just morally repugnant, but legally questionable. State and federal contract and labor law has protections against this type of abusive behavior and inappropriate quid pro quo.

This morning the Capital Times quotes the state’s former Attorney General: “There clearly are potential ethics violations, and there are potential election-law violations and there are a lot of what look to me like labor-law violations,” said Peg Lautenschlager, a Democrat who served as Wisconsin’s Attorney General after serving for many years as a U.S. Attorney. The head of the state teacher's association, Mary Bell, reminds us: “He literally planned to use five to six thousand hardworking Wisconsin taxpayers as political pawns in his political game. He actually thought through a strategy to lay people off -- deny them the ability to feed their families -- and use it as leverage for his political goals."

Kids and Hired Thugs

Walker also says he considers then rejected the idea of hiring trouble makers to disrupt the rallies which have been packed with elementary school children and highs schoolers. When fake Koch says "We’ll back you any way we can. But what we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers." Walker says: "we thought about that," but he rejected the idea in case it back-fired. He didn’t want to "scare the public into thinking maybe the governor as to settle to avoid all these problems."

Wisconsin Ethics Rules

Wisconsin has the toughest ethics law in the nation. Public officials are prohibited from soliciting or receiving anything of value if it could reasonably be expected to influence or reward official actions. The rules against “pay-to-play politics” say a public official is prohibited from taking official action in exchange for political contributions, or anything else of value for the benefit of a candidate, political party, or any person making certain candidate-related communications. You can’t even take a cup of coffee from a lobbyist.

Earlier in the call, Walker had asked the fake Koch for help “spreading the word,” especially in the "swing" districts, in defense of his determination to break the unions, and help get calls in to shore up his Republican allies in the legislature. Walker benefited from a high-dollar "issue ad" campaign by groups funded by Koch group before the election. Americans for Prosperity, which Koch chairs, promoted and funded a couple thousand counter-protestors last Saturday.

On the same day that the scandal broke here in Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity went up with a $342,000 TV ad campaign in support of Walker –- an enormous sum in a state like Wisconsin. If such ads are effectively coordinated with the Governor's office, they may be subject to rules requiring greater disclosure of expenditures and contributors.

Toward the end of the call, the fake Koch offers to fly Walker out to California, after they "crush the bastards," and show him "a good time," to which Walker responds enthusiastically, "All right, that would be outstanding." But,Wisconsin rules bar state officials from taking action for something of value. After Walker agrees to the junket, the fake Koch adds, "And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well" to which Walker responds, "Well that's just it."


So while Walker did not apparently not recognize Koch's voice, he certainly recognized his name, eagerly recounting his efforts to crush collective bargaining in Wisconsin to an out-of-state billioniare backer and thanking him for all Koch had done for him. The entire conversation raises ethical concerns that warrant much closer examination, especially with Wisconsin's tough pay-to-play rules. A week ago the Center for Media and Democracy filed an open records request for the Governor's phone records, email records, and other communications. Perhaps these records will help us understand all the influences behind the Governor's recent radical actions.

Wisconsin is not Illinois, it has a reputation for being a squeaky clean state where lesser scandals than this have brought down political officials. Governor Walker likes to complain of “outside agitators.” It's hard to imagine an agitator with more influence and money than the Koch-family.