09 October 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part XXI: So Which One Is Shemp?

We finally have the answer to that puzzling question: "What's the connection between Howie Rich and his state-by-state frontmen (and woman)?"

It was revealed during the attack that began in late September and was fully rolled out last week. (The last time so many states were simultaneously attacked by any entity, it was called the Civil War.)

But let's set the stage with a story from real life, just to prime the pump:

From The Idaho Statesmen (Oct. 8) :
[Prop 2] Proponents are led by Laird Maxwell, a government hater who makes his living attacking solid citizens like Supreme Court Justice Linda Copple Trout and former Transportation Board Chairman Chuck Winder. In his spare time, Maxwell opposes school bonds, fights measures like the Boise Foothills levy and purges moderates from the GOP ... Lawyers on both sides advance mind-numbing arguments about what the measure means. They'll have ample work should Prop 2 pass. On Friday, proponent Heather Cunningham debated opponent Jerry Mason....
I received this eyewitness account last night from a thoughtful Idahoan:
I attended that debate in Boise in an old 10+ story office building. It was very interesting. Laird Maxwell was there. After both sides gave their 10-minute intro speeches, there was going to be about an hour of questions from the audience. After the first question, the moderator called on Maxwell out of courtesy, saying he wanted to give him an opportunity to ask a question ahead of the 200+ people in the audience. Everyone turned around and looked at Maxwell's table in the back of the room. A person at his table said, "Laird left a couple of minutes ago." Within 30 seconds, the fire alarm in the building went off and we all had to evacuate. The fire department never showed up and the debate never happened as the crowd dispersed after standing around outside for half an hour or so.

Good old west politics as I see it (and from quite a few others who were standing around). However, we will never know.
Well, it sure is funny that convenient fire alarm and all. Reminds me of a George Bush joke that's making the rounds, but we'll move on. Now that you're in the mood:

The attack seems to have begun, starting with this humble little blog, sometime in late September. I had been expecting it -- no, not the loathsome smear piece that they ran on me, penetrating to page 51 of Googling "Hart Williams" for whatever nasty tidbits they could cherry pick. Those were unexpected, if trivial. But the nasty "Dead Agenting"-style* attacks were entirely characteristic. Howie Rich & Friends have a long history of it, and they are creatures of habit.

[see HERE for definition and details]

Their campaign style has always been to attack, never defend, and try to grub up any 'dirt' they can on the opposition. To make grandiloquent pronouncements about giving "control back to the people," putting "the people in charge," and so on and so forth. But the attack component is always there.

This weekend, the attack spread through several states, the political equivalent of a Denial Of Service (DOS) attack: mailbombing your server via proxies with so many emails that the server shuts down.

The Portland OREGONIAN:
Oregon, 6 other states blanketed in records bid
FOIA - A group wants e-mail pertaining to property rights and spending limits, an effort that will cost time and money

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Close to 500 cities, school districts and state agencies in Oregon, and thousands more in six other states, have been hit with public records requests for all e-mails pertaining to any communication regarding measures on term limits, property rights or limiting spending, an undertaking most local municipalities say will take months and thousands of dollars to complete.

A Virginia-based group, Citizens in Charge, is mounting what its Web site calls "a study of public resource abuse" under the name CitizenFOIA (FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act). Citizens in Charge is aiming its campaign, which also includes requests for Internet and e-mail use policies and their enforcement, at Oregon and other states where groups backed by Howard Rich, the head of Americans for Limited Government and U.S. Term Limits, pushed spending limits or property rights measures this year.

Citizens In Charge's president, Paul Jacob*, says his group is nonpartisan.
But that's only a technicality. They, as Libertarians, gave up on actually winning elections a long time ago. Instead, the "Craniac" wing -- who include most of today's players, as chronicled by Murray Rothbard back in 1983 -- infiltrated the GOP and its media (e.g. Heather Wilhelm, the Robert-Novak approved, Regnery Publishing "Fellow" who serves as ALG, USTL and lord-knows-what-other-acronym Communications Director, i.e. press flak) and pursue their private agenda through whatever devious means necessary.

[*Paul Jacob, you will recall, is Howard Rich's brother-in-law, sits on Howie's ALG and US Term Limits boards, and is the "face" of the ALG agenda with his syndicated radio spots and his TownHall column "Common Sense."]

The fact that they're trying so hard to hide their money and influence creates a suspicion of their motives on the face of it, or, to use the latin, prima fascie.

The NEW YORK TIMES embarrassed itself yesterday by writing the EXACT SAME COLUMN that I pointed out in Part V, The Locusts:
"Does this sound eerily like an echo-chamber? With minor variations the story runs as follows:

Out of state interests (either unidentified or merely labeled without analysis) are backing a petition drive. The petition gatherers come from out of state. So does all the money. A qualified opposing spokesperson says: "This isn't a [state name goes here] grassroots movement."

The local cranky All-American front man pooh-poohs the charges: "It doesn't matter where the money comes from. This is important to the citizens of [state name goes here]."

And there the story ends. Again and again and again and again. The story ends at the petition filing date, and at the state line. And now that state's citizens are left with an exhausting fight and a vote on something they'd never realized they wanted to fight about.

And the locusts move on...."
Here's the New York TIMES:
Supporters of the ballot efforts in the West -- often called "Kelo-plus" -- say they want to stop so-called regulatory takings, the idea that government effectively takes private property when zoning laws limit how it can be used.

Opponents say the regulatory-takings initiatives are essentially a ruse, that they are trying to exploit anger over the Kelo decision and eminent domain to roll back zoning regulations that are critical to controlling growth, protecting the environment and preserving property values.

The more far-reaching proposals in the West -- in Idaho, Arizona, California and Washington State -- are citizens' initiatives supported by signature petitions, and they are often supported financially and logistically by national libertarian groups.

This House Is My Home [NOTE: Headed by Laird Maxwell - HW], a group based in Boise that is sponsoring the Idaho measure, Proposition 2, is among groups in several states that have received strong financial help from Fund for Democracy, headed by Howard S. Rich, the New York real estate investor who is chairman of the libertarian group Americans for Limited Government. As of late June, Fund for Democracy had given at least $237,000 to This House Is My Home, about two-thirds of the money raised by the group. The next filing deadline is Oct. 10.

"We are essentially a 'networking station' that brings together grass-roots activists, donors and community leaders who share a common interest," John Tillman, president of Americans for Limited Government, said in an e-mail message. "In this case, that common interest is in restoring property rights for the average citizen."
Some Howie Rich stooge (in this case Laird Maxwell and John Tillman) tells you about the "grass roots" movement and how they're helping the poor locals fight mean old Mr. Government. And there it lies.

But this is demonstrably untrue. Rich has his standard sound bite, which, if we take at face value, is the same thing as Tillman's -- we're benevolent benefactors helping out the locals.

Except, as I wrote to the TIMES: I must protest. The Americans for Limited Government group is not local, nor 'grass roots,' nor do they "help" local anti-tax activists: they HIRE them. Through the long summer, the stealth outside funding via "astroturf" groups has been well and amply covered.

Howie Rich says:

July 11, 2006
Contact: Heather Wilhelm

Yesterday, activists in Michigan turned in over half a million signatures, topping off what has been a tremendous response to ALG's grassroots campaigns for property rights and spending reform. ALG is supporting the efforts of local groups in Arizona, California, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington this year.
"I've been active in politics for years," said Howard Rich, chairman of Americans for Limited Government, "and I've volunteered with a lot of campaigns. This is one of the most tremendous responses I've ever seen. I'm pleased that we could help these local groups."
And on NEW WEST, reporter Dan Richardson, noted on 9-19-06:
Earlier this month, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (running for re-election), challenged Rich to come debate him on Measure 48, Oregon's spending limits initiative, fronted by longtime anti-tax activist Don McIntire. Rich refused ("I'm happy that I could help out the local group in Oregon -- they've faced a real uphill climb against public employee unions and special interests.")
I could continue to cite the official line, via numerous quotes, but the bottom line is that there is a fundamental difference between "helping" local grass roots, and hiring local frontmen. In Idaho, it's Laird Maxwell. In Arizona it's Laird's new wife, Lori Klein. In Montana, it's Trevis Butcher (pig on loan from Scott Tillman), in Nebraska, it's Mike Groene. Let's look at those "local group" soundbiters, and see whether they're hired mercenaries (whether they believe in the cause is immaterial: of COURSE they 'believe') or "grass roots local groups."

I feel bad for the "Newspaper of Record," making itself a clueless laughingstock and all.

Except that the newspapers I cited in that July 19th column have got it figured out by October 8th. The NEW YORK TIMES, arrogant and clueless, wandered into Idaho and wrote the standard he-said/she-said story.

But the Omaha WORLD HERALD reported Friday:
SOS requests swamp agencies
October 6, 2006

A leader in the push for a limit on state government spending is blanketing Nebraska cities, counties and school districts with public records requests that officials say would cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to fulfill.

"This is harassment," Lynn Rex, director of the League of Nebraska Municipalities, said Thursday.

Hundreds of school districts, all 93 counties and Nebraska's largest cities have received at least four requests for records from Mike Groene of North Platte, Neb., chairman of the Stop Overspending Nebraska group.

Among other things, he is asking for all records and documents relating to computer, e-mail and Internet use policies and all electronic records that mention the Nebraska SOS campaign and its petition gatherers.

The SOS group is campaigning for Initiative 423, a proposal on the November ballot that would limit state spending to the rate of inflation plus population growth.

After receiving Groene's second request, Omaha Deputy City Attorney Tom Mumgaard replied that a good faith search of all computer records would entail a substantial effort and could cost at least $276,000.

The City of Papillion estimated its cost at more than $100,000. Individual school districts report estimated costs of at least $500 to $1,000.

Groene said the records requests are not part of the spending lid initiative.

He said the requests are part of a national study by Citizens in Charge, a Milwaukee organization seeking to catch public employees violating electioneering rules by supporting or opposing ballot issues with public resources.

Groene said the study has found examples of Nebraska public officials using office computers to encourage their employees to fight the spending lid ... Groene said the requests should be easy to fulfill. "Anybody who knows computers knows that it'd only take 15 minutes to search for a key phrase," he said....
Now, just compare what that Nebraska "local" fellow said to what Idaho's "local" Laird Maxwell said within the same 72 hour period:

From The Idaho STATESMAN
Thursday, October 05, 2006
JOHN MILLER Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho -- Nearly 2,000 school districts and local governments in Idaho and at least five other states, including Montana, are being targeted by foes of big government, who think taxpayer funded resources such as computers are being used improperly in political campaigns. Sweeping, three-page public records requests have also been made in Montana, Nebraska, Arizona and Michigan, said Laird Maxwell, a Boise activist involved with groups behind property rights or government-limiting initiatives up for a vote in those states. In Nevada, agencies could receive records requests this week, the groups said. Some officials call this a disruptive fishing expedition aimed at taxing scarce resources...

Paul Jacob, a Virginia limited-government advocate who heads Citizens in Charge, and Chris Kliesmet, with Citizens for Responsible Government in Milwaukee, are helping...Maxwell says the information should be just a keystroke away. "They're stonewalling us," he said. "Either we have transparent government -- or we don't."
Or compare with what Montana's Trevis Butcher (whose Montanans in Action was FINALLY outed as being financed by Howard Rich groups on Yellowstone Public Radio, when MIA co-chair Senator Joe Balyeat, of Bozeman admitted as much on Sept 21 (see HERE )

The Great Falls [MT] Tribune

Political activist Trevis Butcher's name appears at the bottom of the letters. Butcher sponsored three statewide initiatives, which were thrown out by a Great Falls judge because of deceptive and fraudulent signature-gathering methods. The Montana Supreme Court is reviewing the lower court's decision regarding CI-97, CI-98 and I-154.

Although Butcher's signature stamps the bottom of each FOI request, the Winifred rancher distanced himself from the massive request for public records. Butcher couldn't say how many agencies across the state were asked to divulge public records, and he referred questions to the president of Citizens In Charge, Paul Jacobs (sic). Jacobs (sic) could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

However, Butcher said every agency that received an FOI request is suspected of having used public resources for political means, he said, either by exchanging e-mails with national political organizations and labor unions or through inner-agency exchanges.

The information requested has nothing to do with Butcher's appeal to the high court, he said, so much as the information will indicate how well Montana complies with open record policies or misuses public resources, he said.

"All of this (data) is going to come out long after the initiatives are over," Butcher said. "I'm certainly not the individual that put together the criteria for the study and the research. It has nothing to do with the initiatives in the (state) Supreme Court."
This is in line with the long, long history of Rich organizations attacking the "opposition" by whatever means necessary, including bringing in Wisconsin political hitman Chris Kliesmet (about whom more later).

When you stop to consider that the "opposition" is simply anyone who imposes their policy decisions (as expressed in ballot measures), the tactic is particularly vicious, selfish and even childish:

If you don't go along with us, we will GET you.

I'm not making this up, as we will see. Howard Rich and his cronies have a long, vicious record of dumping money into campaigns to DE-elect candidates that didn't go along with them, and have done so all the way down to the level of school board elections. In Idaho just a couple of years ago, they gave the maximum amount allowable to the candidates that agreed with their term limits position, and then gave the maximum amount allowable AGAINST candidates they didn't like, as INDEPENDENT attacks.

So, the smear aimed at me, and at the DailyKos diarists wasn't surprising. It was merely the petulance of a gang of spoiled Eastern wanna-be plutocrats.

No: the real "hit" was underway already. Was it hatched at the ALG conference in Chicago in August? Well, Paul Jacob's letter on the CitizenFOIA website is dated August 30. You be the judge.

In other words, last week they launched a political 'worm' virus. And then John Tillman told the New York TIMES that they were just "helping out the locals."

So HOW can it possibly be that the 'locals' all stepped up and toed the line in the same week, if not on the same day with virtually identical sound bites? While John Tillman was repeating HIS sound bite -- virtually identical to Howie's?

I ask you gentle reader: is Howie "helping" these "grass roots" people or are they Rich stooges? Here's another one from the OREGONIAN story:
[Paul] Jacob and others at Citizens in Charge, such as Eric O'Keefe , listed on the group's board of directors, and Chris Kliesmet , the designated auditor for the records requests, are longtime supporters of term limits, limited government spending and property rights. Kurt Weber, whose name is at the bottom of the FOIA requests, is a Libertarian Party leader in Oregon. [Oregonian, Oct 7.]
Kurt Weber and Paul Farago, according to the official Oregon Secretary of State campaign finance filings, are the committee directors of Oregon's "Committee To Restore Term Limits."*

[*NOTE: This is a very sleazy dodge. The notation is "effective 8-18-06" but Farago and Weber were NOT associated with the Term Limits petition drive, except as the shadowy figures that retired Washington state dentist AND official petitioner Ted Berthelote told the Salem STATESMAN JOURNAL in February:

Statesman Journal
February 7, 2006

"Berthelote, who moved to Oregon four years ago, said he was approached by term-limits backers who read a guest opinion column that he wrote for The Bulletin in Bend. He declined to say who would run the campaign or identify the backers.
"I guess you'll just have to find out," he said.

[Well, now we know. -HW]

Campaign-finance reports revealed that $60,000 came from U.S. Term Limits, an Illinois group that has provided the financial muscle for many other state term-limits measures. An additional $40,000 came from Americans for Tax Reform, a group led by Grover Norquist that has supported past Oregon tax-limitation measures....
As soon as the ballot measure was approved, Farago (who was co-chief petitioner in 2004 and back in 1992) slithered back into the limelight as the "face" of Term Limits. THAT's 'deviousness' defined.]

The ever-vigilant local media finally picked up that the Monday attack was underway on Oregon state employees only Friday, as the OREGONIAN ran the piece (on a Saturday, as per usual). It contains this damning line, recall:
"Citizens In Charge's president, Paul Jacob, says his group is nonpartisan..."
And therein lies the whole, vile rub that lies at the center of this political maelstrom: when Paul Jacob says "nonpartisan" he means it only in the technical sense that it is neither Republican nor Democrat.

It is Libertarian.

According to the OREGONIAN story:
[Paul] Jacob and others at Citizens in Charge, such as Eric O'Keefe , listed on the group's board of directors, and Chris Kliesmet, the designated auditor for the records requests, are longtime supporters of term limits, limited government spending and property rights. Kurt Weber, whose name is at the bottom of the FOIA requests, is a Libertarian Party leader in Oregon.
It is Ayn Randian "Objectivist" and it believes that the best government is no government at all. The famed Grover Norquist* quote is neither inappropriate nor unconnected. Getting government to the size that it can be drowned in the bathtub is merely the means: drowning it in the bathtub is the end.
[*Norquist is and has been connected with this gang for many years now. First as the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers Union -- founded by ex-Libertarian John Davidson Davis, who was in large part responsible with certain WALL STREET JOURNAL writers for the "Vince Foster was MURDERED" scandal-mongering at the beginning of the Clinton Administration, and who still sits on NTUs board -- and then forming the astroturf group Americans for Tax Reform in the West Wing of the Reagan White House, and running it as an under-the-radar group until spinning it back outside the White House grounds to the present day.

So it really isn't any coincidence that in several states --specifically Oregon -- ALG, US Term Limits, the National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Tax Reform are all in bed together. They've never been not. - HW]
The Oregonian continues:
Though Jacob said his group "works with people all across the political spectrum" and simply supports the initiative and referendum process ("let the voters decide how they use it," he said), the records sweep appears to be part of a coordinated campaign by a close-knit group of longtime libertarian activists.
In August, O'Keefe, who is chairman of the Americans for Limited Government executive committee, Kliesmet, and Jacob were featured speakers at the organization's conference in Chicago. Americans for Limited Government and Fund for Democracy, created and backed by Rich, have supported about two-dozen initiatives in 14 states, most aimed at scaling back government power. In 2004, Citizens in Charge spent more than $640,000 in an Arkansas ballot measure battle over term limits.

"I love term limits, I think they're the best thing since sliced bread," Jacob told The Oregonian this week.
Well, we don't know whether Maxwell, Groene, Weber, Butcher, Klein or their other goons feel the same way. But I wonder how the hell to term limit Paul Jacob and Howie Rich. At least Butcher admits he's merely following orders.

These shadowy interests have come into my state, picked a fight, and now they're harassing public employees. Why?

Because they don't like the idea of public employees. Whether any of them have actually met any public employees in my state is a real question. No: perhaps not legally (if you believe that there is "law" in the "legal" system), but certainly a crime has been committed here. We call it "disturbing the peace." Given the sheer size of the effort and the physical weight of all those dollar bills flooding into my state (they've spent, in Oregon as of 10-1 about $2 million so far) the volumetric magnitude by which they've disturbed our peace is deafening.

But these are NOT "local groups." These, dear friends, are mere hirelings: They take their marching orders from Paul Jacob and Eric O'Keefe and, of course, from Howie Rich.

Or to quote Howie Rich:

"I'm far more interested in initiatives. The initiative process enables you to bypass the legislature ...."

Meet Howie's stooges.



Blogger Susanne Savage said...

I stumbled on your blog b/c my organization is working against Prop 90 in CA. We have a letters to the editor feature going. Feel free to contact us. Thanks!

Susanne Savage
Courage Campaign

10/10/2006 01:31:00 PM  

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