Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blueprint for the War on Democracy

Blueprint for the War on Democracy

Republican assault on the American fabric a successful strategy so far

This may sound like a hyper-partisan article. It is not. It is based on actions by Republicans of all stripes that are verifiable and quantifiable. All Americans are being played irrespective of party affiliation. Republican leadership and political sidekicks are the masters of the game, the citizenry the pawns.
Republicans have never been known as a party fighting for the poor or the middle class. They have never been known as a party that believed in a social safety net. The problem for Republicans is that 90+% of Americans fall into that category.
The level of intolerance by the GOP is incomprehensible until the strategy is understood. It is easy to dismiss comments by a few. However when it becomes a chorus line that is perfectly synchronized, it becomes a strategy.
Republicans balk when one speaks about the Republican war on women, war on the poor, war on the environment, war on gays, war on minorities, and many other select micro wars. They don’t want these wars called out. And the reality is these should not be called wars at all. It is much too simplistic.
It is a war on democracy. How do you win a war on democracy when there are many more subjects than you? You fight many battles. So the battle against the poor, the battle against women, the battle against gays, the battle against minorities, the battle against education, and any other micro battle to keep the subjects occupied is the modus operandus. It does not matter if in the process a few of the battles are lost. After all their eyes are on the ball, the destruction of a functional democracy.
This week I interviewed Jeff Clements, co-founder of Free Speech for People and author of Corporations Are Not People, about corporate personhood and the Citizens United ruling. In that interview he brought up the Powell Memo. Read the memo in its entirety. It gives the necessary perspective.
Lewis Powell
The Powell Memo illustrates the fear that Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of various corporations, had for the masses. Powell was subsequently confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.
Powell lays out the game plan. It is a plan that was forward looking. It is a plan that so far has been well implemented. How did they do it?
They created think tanks responsible for dispersing misleading information with a false cloak of authenticity. The Heritage Foundation is a classic example of this. They took control of the airwaves to disperse misleading information (e.g., talk radio, Fox News, CNBC, etc.). A relenting Chamber of Commerce uses corporate monies to bully policy and politicians that squeeze the masses (e.g., support for free trade agreements, outsourcing etc.).
They infiltrated college campuses with directed research for planned outcomes. They infiltrated the elementary and secondary schools’ textbook evaluation process to attempt right-wing indoctrination. They used graduate business schools to indoctrinate students on an irresponsible form of capitalism. They flooded the country with books and paid advertising promoting their message. They continue to destroy unions.
The implementation has been successful thus far. The problem is that in Powell’s days there was no internet. There was no way to form disjointed communities in mass that could rise up when knowledge was not controlled in a top down manner. A new tactic had to be added. This new tactic is not new. It is the war to divide and conquer.
If one keeps a community, a city, a country in a constant state of disarray or chaos, it is easy for the subjects to take their eyes off real problems. That is the same tactics use in countries where a functioning plutocracy reigns like Panama and many “third world” countries around the world. Underlying human behavior is the same throughout the world. The world then becomes the testing ground for successful suppressive tactics. The successful ones are effectively being used against Americans now.
All the little battles described above occurring at the same time are nothing more than death by a thousand cuts. Americans are so busy trying to survive, fighting these culture battles and sub-class battles that they are unable to fight what really ails. What ails is the Plutocracy Powell’s memo aimed to preserve. The Republican assault on the fabric of America is but that implementation.

editor’s note: you can read the entire Powell Memorandum by clicking on the following link:
Powell Memorandum
For a good summation of the impact of the Powell Memorandum, let’s turn to this excerpt from Bill Moyers (with thanks to reader Shawn McDowell who brought this to my attention at a most fortuitous time):

The Powell Memo: A Call-to-Arms for Corporations

When he penned his influential memo, Lewis Powell was chair of the Education Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber was one of a number of business groups that responded to the emerging threat by becoming much more organized. The Chamber doubled in membership between 1974 and 1980. Its budget tripled. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) doubled its membership between 1970 and 1979.
The expansion of the Chamber and the NFIB signaled not only a rise in the business groups femade themselves to fit the timescollective capacity of business; it brought a harder-edged form of mobilization. Composed disproportionately of smaller firms, these organizations were especially livid about the rise of government regulation. Big companies had an easier time absorbing the administrative costs of complying with new rules, and more opportunities to pass the costs on to consumers. Moreover, business associations based on a multitude of small firms proved especially capable of mobilizing mass outrage, which would turn out to be a very effective political weapon.
Of course, big business fought back as well. In 1972, three business organizations merged to form the Business Roundtable, the first business association whose membership was restricted to top corporate CEOs. In part at the urging of Bryce Harlow, lobbyist for Procter & Gamble, this new organization combined two groups focused on relatively narrow business issues with an informal organization called the March Group. The March Group had grown out of a meeting with top Nixon administration officials and prominent executives and was designed to bring together many of the nation’s most powerful CEOs. Within five years the new mega-organization had enlisted 113 of the top Fortune 200 companies, accounting for nearly half of the economy.
The Business Roundtable quickly developed into a formidable group, designed to mobilize high-level CEOs as a collective force to lobby for the advancement of shared interests. President Ford’s deputy treasury secretary Charls Walker, a leading corporate organizer about whom we’ll say more in a moment, later put it this way: “The Roundtable has made a lot of difference. They know how to get the CEOs into Washington and lobby; they maintain good relationships with the congressional staffs; they’ve just learned a lot about Washington they didn’t know before.”

Keeping Up With the Naders

The role of the business community not only grew but expanded, shifting into new modes of organization that had previously been confined to its critics. Recognizing that lawmaking in Washington had become more open and dynamic, business groups remade themselves to fit the times. The expanding network of business groups would soon be capable of hoisting the public interest groups on their own petards. Using rapidly emerging tools of marketing and communications, they learned how to generate mass campaigns. Building networks of employees, shareholders, local companies, and firms with shared interests (for example, retailers and suppliers), they could soon flood Washington with letters and phone calls. Within a few years, these classically top-down organizations were to thrive at generating “bottom up”–style campaigns that not only matched the efforts of their rivals but surpassed them.
These emerging “outside” strategies were married to “inside” ones. Business organizations developed lists of prominent executives capable of making personal contacts with key legislative figures. In private meetings organized by the Conference Board, CEOs compared notes and discussed how to learn from and outmaneuver organized labor. In the words of one executive, “If you don’t know your senators on a first-name basis, you are not doing an adequate job for your stockholders.”
Business also massively increased its political giving — at precisely the time when the cost of campaigns began to skyrocket (in part because of the ascendance of television). The insatiable need for cash gave politicians good reason to be attentive to those with deep pockets. Business had by far the deepest pockets, and was happy to make contributions to members of both parties. Clifton Garvin, chairman of both Exxon and the Business Roundtable in the early 1980s, summarized the attitude toward partisanship this way: “The Roundtable tries to work with whichever political party is in power. We may each individually have our own political alliances, but as a group the Roundtable works with every administration to the degree they let us.”
The newly mobilized business groups understood that Democrats and Republicans could play distinct but complementary roles. As the party with a seemingly permanent lock on Congress, Democrats needed to be pried away from their traditional alliance with organized labor. Money was key here: From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, corporate PACs increased their expenditures in congressional races nearly fivefold. Labor PAC spending only rose about half as fast. In the early 1970s, business PACs contributed less to congressional races overall than labor PACs did. By the mid-1970s, the two were at rough parity, and by the end of the decade, business PACs were way ahead. By 1980, unions accounted for less than a quarter of all PAC contributions — down from half six years earlier. The shift was largest among Democrats, who were of course the most reliant on labor money: Nearly half of Senate incumbents’ campaign funds came from labor PACs in the mid-1970s. A decade later, the share was below one-fifth.
By this time, however, business PACs were shifting away from their traditional focus on buttering up (mostly Democratic) incumbents toward a strategy that mixed donations to those in power with support for conservative political challengers. Such a pattern was evident in the critical election year of 1978. Through September of the election season, nearly half of corporate campaign contributions flowed into Democrats’ coffers. In the crucial weeks before the 1978 election, however, only 29 percent did. By the end of the 1978 campaign, more than 60 percent of corporate contributions had gone to Republicans, both GOP challengers and Republican incumbents fighting off liberal Democrats. A new era of campaign finance was born: Not only were corporate contributions growing ever bigger, Democrats had to work harder for them. More and more, to receive business largesse, they had to do more than hold power; they had to wield it in ways that business liked.
Republican assault on the American fabric a successful strategy so far is written by Egberto Willies and is published on the Daily Kos at
Daily Kos
The Powell Memo: A Call-to-Arms for Corporations is written by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson and is excerpted by Bill Moyers from their book Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.  The Bill Moyers articles is at
Bill Moyers
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 26th, 2013 at 4:56 am and is filed under Anti-Democracy, campaign contributions, Campaign Finance, Democracy, Featured, Government, Heritage Foundation, Republican Party, Republicans, Think Tanks, U.S. Supreme Court, Unions.

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