We Are The 99, Eh?


Couldn't resist. Reminds me of watching the Great One and one of the all-time great hockey dynasties, the 1980's Edmonton Oilers.

Some Canadian stats courtesy of the Globe and Mail.


Chris Hedges on the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Speaking on CBC's the Lang and O'Leary Exchange, Chris Hedges (author of The World As It Is) fended off O'Leary's ham-fisted personal attack to clearly enunciate the root of the Occupy Wall Street movement's grievance, and where he fits on the political spectrum:
"Those who are protesting the rise of the corporate state are in fact, on the political spectrum, the true conservatives because they are calling for the restoration of the rule of law.

"The radicals have seized power, and they have trashed all regulations and legal impediments to achieve a reconfiguration of American society into a form of neofeudalism."

See how consistent this sentiment is with the Tea Party Patriots' mission statement, which includes the following on Free Markets:
A free market is the economic consequence of personal liberty. The founders believed that personal and economic freedom were indivisible, as do we. Our current government's interference distorts the free market and inhibits the pursuit of individual and economic liberty. Therefore, we support a return to the free market principles on which this nation was founded and oppose government intervention into the operations of private business.
The anti-corporatist agenda is fuelling both of these movements because both the state and the market have betrayed the trust of the people they serve. Where the Tea Party movement diverges from Occupy Wall Street is in how it regards the role of the state and the virtue of markets.

My own view is that market systems are the most efficient means of allocating resources. But a free, unregulated market produces outcomes that are harmful to the commonwealth. The state is entrusted with serving the interest of the commonwealth by structuring protections against exploitative or harmful practices: safeguarding the air we breathe and water we drink; protecting workers from hazardous workplaces; protecting consumers from fraud; protecting our commerce from foreign ownership; and so on. The state sets and enforces the rules of the market, then allows the market to operate.

The state should not pick the winners by direct investment in the marketplace; it should invest in infrastructure that enables the market to function. The state should not encumber development with inefficient regulatory review; it should have the organizational capacity to expedite reviews such as environmental and foreign ownership assessments. The state should not bolster industries that the market has consigned to the trash heap; it should enable the retraining and redeployment of labour when the market changes tack.

What is clear from the outrage on the streets is the despair that Americans increasingly harbour for their future as a nation. Implicit in these movements is the pledge that never again shall American taxpayers be asked to shoulder the burden for the malfeasance of the market and the abandonment of the state. Americans should celebrate the sentiment that unites these movements instead of what divides them, and exert their full force in the political arena.


Colbert Benefits From Hugh Jorgan

I was watching a rerun of last week's Colbert Report wherein he exposes the 501c4 scheme of laundering political contributions from an anonymous shell corporation into a PAC or Political Action Committee. The dialog was so good, I transcribed it for your enjoyment below. During the conversation, I noticed that on the screen crawl of HEROE$ listing Colbert's PAC contributors appeared the name Hugh Jorgan [screen cap above]. Cute.

SC: These c4s have created an unprecedented, unaccountable, untraceable tsunami, and I feel like an idiot for not having one. Here to make my move to secrecy and obfuscation completely transparent, please welcome former general counsel to the McCain campaign and my personal lawyer, Trevor Potter.

SC: Now, Trevor, I have all these people at the bottom of the screen who’ve been giving me money, individual Americans. But I haven’t gotten any of the big corporate money. That’s why I have a SuperPAC! Why wouldn’t a corporation give money?

TP: Well, they’d be nervous about giving in a way that their name is publicly disclosed. People might object to what they’ve done: their shareholders, their customers…

SC: Okay, so that’s where a c4 comes in. A corporation or an individual; can give to a c4, and nobody gets to know that they did it. Right?

TP: That’s right.

SC: Okay, so how do I get one?

TP: And that money can be used for politics.

SC: Oh great, that’s good too—

TP: So, we need to get you one.

SC: As long as it goes through me, it can go to anything it wants. So how do I gets me one, Trevor?

TP: Well, lawyers often form Delaware corporations, which we call shell corporations, that just sit there until they’re needed—

SC: So they’re just some anonymous shell corporation?

TP: Right, and I happen to have one here in my briefcase.

SC: Let’s see it. What’s it called?

TP: It’s called Anonymous Shell Corporation—

SC: That’s got a real ring to it Trev.

TP: —registered in Delaware—

SC: I don’t have to go to Delaware, do I?

TP: No, it’s already been done for you.

SC: [whistles] Okay, okay, badadum, badadum, okay: Anonymous Shell Corporation, filed in Delaware. Okay, I got this; so now I have a c4?

TP: Right, now we need to turn it into your shell corporation, your anonymous one, and we do that by having normally a Board of Directors meeting.

SC: And who’s on the Board of Directors?

TP: Well, just you. We can—

SC: Sounds like a nice group of people.

TP: —just have you do this.

SC: Okay, let’s do this. [hammers gavel] And I’ve shattered my champagne glass. I hope there’s no sensitive electronic equipment down there. Alright, call to order. Let’s do this thing.

TP: Alright, so, this says that you are the sole director of the corporation—

SC: I am. [begins signing document]

TP: —and that you are now electing yourself President, Secretary, and Treasurer—

SC: Sounds like a great board.

TP: —and you are authorizing the corporation to file the papers with the IRS in May…2013.

SC: So I could get money for my c4, use that for political purposes and nobody knows anything about it til six months after the election.

TP: That’s right, and even then they won’t know who your donors are.

SC: That’s my kind of campaign finance restriction. Okay, so now I’ve signed it. I have a c4?

TP: You have a c4, it’s up and going.

SC: So, without this, I am transparent. With this, I am opaque. Without it, you get to know. With it, “You go to hell.” Without it, “Here’s who gave me my money.” With it, “You know what, your mutha gave me my money.” Well, I like that, Trev. Okay, now I can get corporate unlimited donations of unlimited amount for my c4, what can I do with my money?

TP: Well, that c4 can take out political ads and attack candidates or promote your favourite ones—

SC: Uh-huh.

TP: —as long as it’s not the principal purpose for spending its money.

SC: No, the principal purpose is an educational entity, right? I want to educate the public that gay people cause earthquakes.

TP: There are probably some c4s doing that.

SC: Can I take my c4 money and then donate it to my SuperPAC?

TP: You can… [sly nod]

SC: [smile spreads slowly across face] Wait, SuperPACs are transparent—

TP: Right, and…

SC: —and the c4 is secret. So I can take secret donations from my c4 and give it to my supposedly transparent SuperPAC.

TP: And it’ll say given by your c4.

SC: What is the difference between that and money laundering?

TP: It’s hard to say.


Wikileaks: Old School Liberal Backroom Politics

A wikileaks cable released on August 30 has given me the most compelling reason to date to be involved in the Liberal Party's renewal. The cable describes the Liberal leadership contest of 2003: the calculated withdrawal of Chretien, the charade of electing Martin in order to placate the membership's sense of democracy, the compliance of Manley and Copps in the charade and their respective exit strategies. The sordid details of the process were breezily reported in the cable issued from the US Embassy in Ottawa to Washington. [emphasis added]

Classified By: POL M/C BRIAN M. FLORA. REASON 1.5 B and D.

1. (C/NF) SUMMARY. With the official launching in April of the leadership campaigns of Deputy PM John Manley and Liberal backbencher Paul Martin, the three-way contest to succeed PM Jean Chretien -- Canada's race for a political cure -- is officially on. Though the Liberal Leadership convention is slated for November, observers believe that Martin,s victory will be sealed in September when the dozen or so delegates from each of 301 Liberal ridings across the country are announced. The trick will be getting Chretien to quit before his announced date of February 2004 -- a daunting task -- in order to minimize the transition chaos. Meanwhile, our meetings with Martin supporters and close advisors indicate a pragmatic leadership-in-waiting already engaged in damage control within the GOC and at work on a blueprint for U.S.-Canada relations. If Martin's May 1 foreign policy speech is any indication, under his leadership we can expect a positive change in Canada's handling of the bilateral agenda. END SUMMARY.

2. (C/NF) A successful businessman and former Finance Minister, Paul Martin leads the three-way race in campaign funds, organization and name recognition. Discussions with a range of Martin supporters, from consultants to Members of Parliament, and Martin staffers, suggest that PM Chretien,s likely successor already has a quiet handle on the rudder of the Canadian ship of state. Chretien's reputation as a gritty and tenacious politician notwithstanding, we understand that pro-Martin MPs dominate the Liberal Caucus and are poised to quash controversial "legacy" initiatives -- such as political party finance reform and, it appears, marijuana decriminalization -- that would undermine the new PM,s agenda. Whether the Caucus and the Party can persuade Chretien to retire early -- for the sake of Party and Country -- is another question.

3. (C/NF) In his first major foreign policy statement May 1, Martin painted a pragmatic and business-practical vision of "Canada,s Role in a Complex World," identifying Canada,s relationship with the U.S. as a cornerstone of that role. He pledged a "systematic and coordinated effort to confirm and strengthen the Canada-US partnership," to include a permanent Cabinet Committee on Canada-US Relations chaired by the Prime Minister and a House of Commons Committee on Canada-US relations. In the context of North American security, Martin called for development of a comprehensive national security policy for Canada, the only G-8 country without such a policy. Though the very fact of articulating a "vision" would distinguish Martin from Chretien, the one-time Finance Minister and backbench challenger was also well spoken and thoughtful in his delivery.

4. (C/NF) A key element of the Martin campaign strategy has been to emphasize the differences between Martin and the PM, in both style and content, and to portray a pro-active and pragmatic (as opposed to reactive and ambivalent) philosophy of governance. The contrast could not be greater, or easier, to achieve: While the PM pledges (non-existent) support for a UN intervention in the Congo, Martin offers to share federal gas tax revenues with Canada,s beleaguered, cash-hungry cities. Similarly, as Martin and his advisors focus on a blueprint to re-invigorate the US-Canada bilateral relationship (6 months ahead of the convention), Chretien seizes the international venue of the G-8 summit to sharply criticize the economic leadership of President Bush and boast about Canada,s economic success. Fortunately, if anecdotal evidence and media comments contain a shred of truth, so far the PM is not winning the PR battle.

5. (C/NF) Veteran observers have speculated that the three-way leadership contest is a fig leaf to avoid the "un-Canadian" and "un-Liberal" appearance of a Martin coronation, and probably involves behind-the-scenes agreements among the PMO, the Liberal Party and the candidates themselves. A retired former Canadian Ambassador-turned-consultant who claims to "know" Chretien says that such political arrangements are not unusual and would be desirable for the sake of image among the Canadian public. Deputy PM John Manley's stake in such an arrangement would be to develop his prospects for a post-Martin Prime Ministership (visibility, experience etc.) whereas Heritage Minister Sheila Copps' likely reward might be a prestigious "permanent" (to age 75) appointment -- perhaps as Senator -- that would guarantee her income to retirement age and a generous government pension. Proponents of this theory point to the recent and unexpected retirement of a senior Senator -- at Chretien's "request"-- as paving the way for such rewards to loyalists.

6. (C/NF) COMMENT: With a majority of Liberal MPs (including Cabinet Ministers) openly in the Martin camp, as well as Liberal Party President Stephen LeDrew, the logical reality is that PM Chretien no longer controls the House Caucus. This could explain his bizarre anti-American public musings -- the only thing under his control, and with the added benefit of making PR mischief for the growing majority only too eager to push him out the door. In this regard, we should not underestimate Chretien's capacity to manipulate the system if it serves his purpose, including to prorogue the Parliament until after the November election and/or sticking around as PM some three months after Paul Martin is elected Liberal Leader. At the same time, at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. END COMMENT. CELLUCCI