MoveOn’s 99 Percent Spring, Obama and the Dems March in Lock-Step


In an earlier installment, I noted that eight key smoking guns point to the fact that the much-ballyhooed “99-Percent Spring,” taking place from April 9-15, is merely a front group for MoveOn.org and the Democratic Party. More specifically, it is a front for the Obama Administration and the Party’s 2012 electoral efforts.

The article has proven contentious in many circles, and was analyzed in many lefty publications, including Salon.comTheHuffingtonPostThe Nation, TaylorMarsh.com, and Dissent Magazine, to name several. Those articles wrestled with the ongoing battle occurring between genuine, mostly volunteer grassroots Occupy activists and well-paid full-time Democratic Party-allied “activists.” ‘

In the main, the articles dug into the whether or not The 99 Spring was playing a constructive, supportive role of the real on-the-ground Occupy movements in cities nationwide and worldwide, or on the contrary, if The 99 Spring’s raison d’etre is simply to co-opt the Occupy movement and steal it as its own, while pooling those efforts into the Democratic Party’s electoral efforts in 2012.

These liberal commentators shared similar observations:

●      “All parties seem mindful of the dreaded accusations of co-option, but rarely does such an annexation occur overnight,” explained The Nation’s Allison Kilkenny on April 6.

●      “It seems to me that the 99 Percent Spring does indeed complement large sections of Occupy efforts – the sorts of actions, accessible to media narratives, that directly protest institutions like Bank of America, ALEC or rulings like Citizens United,” posited Salon.com’s Natasha Lennard.

●      The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim wrote, “It’s a reflection of how the Occupy movement has forced some institutional liberal groups to radicalize — or at least appear to — to meet the new fervent climate, as stubborn unemployment and yawning inequality push activism outside the confines of traditional electoral politics.

The so-called “independent media” and news shows, such asAlterNetTruthOutThe Nation on multiple occasionsBillMoyersnewshow, The Thom Hartmann Show on two occasions, and The Nation Washington Editor Chris Hayes’ show “Up with ChrisHayes,” have also offered shameless plugs and interviews for The 99 Spring’s organizers, and have been likely been “in on the take,” so to speak and in varying degrees, of this well-coordinated effort.

Co-Option 101

Above and beyond softball coverage of the prospective “movement,” though, is a fundamental misunderstanding, among all factions, of the type of co-option MoveOn.org and Friends have already achieved and continue to achieve, of the Occupy movement.

There are a number of ways to derail or co-opt social justice movements.

Government agents and/or corporate agents can go right in, infiltrate it with informants and agent provocateurs, and behave in such a way so as to delegitimize the movement in the public sphere. This is generally done by intelligence agencies and police forces, such as the FBI, CIA and NYPD, both at home and abroad.

Governments, corporations and foundations can also seduce the leadership of movements with money and power, and get organizations to work in ways palatable to them.

In this case, the co-option of the Occupy Movement has occurred in a classic fashion developed by MoveOn.org and its network of liberal foundation funded, Democratic Party allies. All claim to be “responsible progressives working for fundamental social change,” yet the reality is far more mendacious.

MoveOn.org directed networks, such as The 99 Spring, excel at the creation of dog and pony shows, pageantry, and theatrical performances to co-opt the imagery, language, and ideas of a movement, including the very idea of direct action itself.

In this case, it’s the Occupy movement, showing the servile mainstream media, as well as the so-called “left” media (with which it shares the same funding streams) that The 99 Spring is the organized, more professional, and more responsible heir to the Occupy movement, with a suave spokesman, too: Van Jones, head of theRebuild the Dream “movement.”

For a group like MoveOn.org, the existence of an on-the-ground social justice movement, after all, is perfect — it relies on movements of this sort to co-opt for its own purposes: electing Democrats.

This all fits and coalesces nicely into what was discussed in Matt Bai’s 2007 best-selling book “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics,” when in November 2006 —Mario Cuomo, former Governor of New York — after the 2006 elections, told an exclusive group of 100Democracy Alliance millionaire funders the following about how to win elections in 2008 (and by extension, co-opt social movements):

“You seize the biggest idea you can, the biggest idea you can understand. And this is what moves elections. Now it’s 2006 and we’re all rejoicing. Why? Because of Iraq. A GIFT. A gift to the Democrats. A lot of whom voted for the war anyway. If Iraq is not an issue, then what issues do we have to talk about?”

Clearly, “the gift” this time around for the block for MoveOn.org and Friends is the Occupy movement and the concept (as opposed to the actualization) of economic justice.

Thus, The 99 Spring is a sly way to list-build, and by extension, fund-raise, always at the forefront of the mind of Democratic Party fundraisers, who share a close, revolving-door relationship with MoveOn.org.

Giving Angry Citizens “Somewhere Else to Go”

Many playing the co-option game have argued that MoveOn.org is not even the central player here, and is just offering its technology and email blast capability to move The 99 Spring forward and “make it bloom.”

“In case it hasn’t been made clear enough, MoveOn is not part of the Democratic Party, nor part of the DNC. It has 7 million members, many of whom have been very involved in their local Occupy groups,” Laura Dawn, MoveOn.org Cultural Director,told Salon.

MoveOn.org, in its email blasts, has gone so far as to overtly (and disingenuously) defend itself, writing, “MoveOn.org Civic Action is hosting the online event registration process but is not responsible for the content or programming of the trainings or for the planning or organization of any specific actions. The 99% Spring is a collaborative effort between many organizations to train over 100,000 Americans in the basics of nonviolent direct action—not an electoral campaign.”

These statements could not be more cynical, given the revelations in Bai’s “The Argument,” in which he explained (emphases mine) “Until MoveOn, wealthy liberals had been trained to give their cash to the Democratic Party and its candidates….In creating MoveOn, (Wesley) Boyd (MoveOn.org’s Founder) suddenly gave thousands of…people who had become estranged from politics during the Clinton era somewhere else to go.

Boyd was simply being honest: MoveOn.org is a clever front for the Democratic Party, known by critical citizens as Wall Street’s favorite party, alongside the Republican Party. It truly does give enraged citizens “somewhere else to go.” In this case it’s The 99 Spring.

A close observation of the situation, shows this is quite clearly an electoral campaign, particularly since, in American politics, it is never not “campaign season,” but rather, it is a permanent electoral campaign.

The best example of how well-coordinated this whole scheme is can be seen through the lens of the new legislative push by the Obama Administration/Democratic Party/MoveOn.org for “tax fairness,” via the “Buffett Rule.”

The Smoking Gun: The 99 Spring’s Pushes Buffett Rule for “Tax Fairness”

In an April 9 email sent out to The 99 Spring Trainers, Joy Cushman and Liz Butler (whose biographical details are explained in part one) gave a few “final reminders before your event.” The final one reminder:

“After your training, plan a Tax Day protest. The 99% movement is mobilizing to demand that the 1% pay their fair share in taxes on Tax Day, April 17. This is a great opportunity to take action following your training. Progressive groups are organizing hundreds of marches, rallies, and protests at big, tax-dodging corporations and in our communities to highlight the disparity in the tax code for the 99% compared to the 1%. Click here to host or sign up for a Tax the  1% protest  near you.”

If one proceeds to click on the link, he or she is taken to a page that reads, “The tax code is rigged for the 1%. Not only do corporations like Bank of America get away with dodging taxes, the millionaire CEOs of these unpatriotic companies get a fat tax refund each year thanks to the Bush tax cuts. But we’ve had enough, and the 99% is fighting back to make millionaires and corporations pay their fair share.”

That page invites the reader to sign up to host a “Tax the 1% protest,” which is a link that takes the viewer to another page titled the “Tax the  1%  Protest Guide,” which comes equipped with what is assuredly pre-packaged, pre-approved talking points. These populist talking points are tested by higher-ups at Media Matters for America’s “Message Matters” project, who work in concert with Democratic Party operatives. Media Matters, along with the Center for American Progress (CAP), are the “nerve centers” of the Democratic Party-allied, liberal foundation funded non-profit world.

Also included: premade protest day signs designed by MoveOn.org, signinsheets, a media advisory, and most importantly in this instance, a media guide. The media guide heavily emphasizes adhering to the pre-packaged, well-tested talking points. And why the sign in sheets? To build up lists for the fundraising database for the 2012 elections.

On the Guide, variations of the term “fair” are used four times, while one premade sign reads, “Make the 1%  Pay Their Fair Share.” Lo and behold and completely coincidentally (NOT!), while MoveOn.org and Friends are pushing citizens toward “protests for tax fairness,” Obama and the Democratic Party are also pressing forward with the “Buffett Rule” this week, which purportedly promotes “tax fairness.” The Buffett Rule is named after the third richest man in the world, Warren Buffett, who also happens to be a major campaign contributor to Obama.

The Media Matters website, proving my point about the pre-packaged and pre-tested talking points, now features a “Message Matters” page dedicated exclusively to the Buffett Rule, where the term “fair”  is used five times. Media Matters runs its own shadowy Super PAC, called the American Bridge  21st Century, which is run by the Founder of Media Matters, David Brock, who left Media Matters in 2010 to run the Super PAC.

Topping it off: the Obama for President website now features a Buffett Rule tax fairnesshub, with a portion of a subsection of the thub reading “Tax Fairness: The Choice in November.”

Not coordinated or convinced yet? Oh, there’s more.

Obama Promotes Tax Fairness for the 99% While Fundraising From the 1% 

Most say if one talks the talk he or she should also walk the walk. Alas, these rules are not in play for Obama apologists and sycophants.

On April 10, the Obama Administration published a report titled, “The Buffett Rule: A BasicPrinciple of Tax Fairness,” with the term “fair” used eight times in the press release and another ten times in the report itself.

That same day, Obama sojourned to five campaign events in Florida.

The first one took place at the private residence of Hansel and Paula Tookes in Palm Beach County, at a luncheon with a going rate of $10,000/plate. Hansel Tookes is the former President of Raytheon International Chairman and CEO of Raytheon Aircraft, and Executive Vice President of Raytheon Company, all three of military-industrial complex infamy. Prior to that, Tookes worked at a United Technologies Corporation’s subsidiary, Pratt and Whitney, as president of its Large Military Engines Group. Paula Tookes has already given Obama $6,000 so far in the 2012 election cycle. To this crowd of “one-percenters,” Obama did not use a single variation of the term “fair.”

A second event unfolded in front of a student-heavy crowd Florida Atlantic University, and focused on the economy, aka, the Buffett Plan and “tax fairness,” where variations of the word “fair” were used six times by Obama and Buffett’s name used on three occasions. A third one was held in Hollywood, Florida, with a cost $500-$5,000 per plate, where Buffett’s name was dropped once and variations of the term “fair” used three times.

Another event took place in Miami, Florida. At that event “roughly 60 people…each paid $15,000 for a dinner at the seaside home of lawyer Jeremy Alters,” according to CNN. Though a transcript of the speech is unavailable, UPI reported that Obama stated at the event, “What we’ve been fighting for is for everyone to have a fair shot and for everyone to do their fair share by playing by the same sets of rules.

Bloomberg described Alters’ Golden Beach neighborhood as “an enclave of mansions on the oceanfront in northeast Miami-Dade County where the average listing price for homes on sale there has run well above $2 million.”

Atlers, according to his biography appearing on the Alters Law Firm website, “served on John Kerry’s National Finance Committee for his 2004 Presidential run, and was one of President Barack Obama’s initial National Finance Committee members. [He] has actively been involved in raising money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.” According to Public Citizen, Atlers helped Obama bundle over $200,000 for his 2008 campaign, roughly a quarter of the money he raised for the entire campaign cycle.

Another meet-and-greet fundraiser charged “$2,500 to attend and featured senior campaign and DNC officials briefing approximately 50 supporters on the administration’s efforts on behalf of the LGBT community.” No speech was given at this event.

In total, the Obama campaign raised over $1.75 million for the day while, in the most cynical manner possible, making the rounds promoting The 99 Spring/Media Matters for America/Democratic Party “tax fairness” proposal. This amounts to over 66 U.S. Media Annual Wages, all in several hours work.

The Washington Times summed up the day’s events best, headlining an article titled, “Obama attacks inequality while soliciting bigmoney donors.”

In the meantime, 978 trainershavesignedtoteach the masses a “nonviolent direct action” tutorial that amounts to nothing more than a well-coordinated charade, with tens of thousands of well-meaning citizens being duped, once again, by cynical Democratic Party operatives using massive economic inequality as a “gift.”

Fool Me Once, Shame On You; Fool Me Twice…. 

We’ve seen this tale play out before.

In an interview, activist and author John Stauber — who founded the Center for Media and Democracy in 1993 and ran it until 2009 — laid it out: “Democratic donors and unions have — since the 2000 Nader/Gore/Bush election — flowed millions of election year dollars into non-profit organizations and liberal media to rally progressives and create an echo chamber that can impact politics in favor of Democrats.”

“Clearly this is precisely what’s at play for the 99% Spring effort led by MoveOn.org, Van Jones and other trusted Democratic Party collaborators. 99% Spring’s activities will surely be carefully and quietly coordinated behind the scenes to have a maximum positive impact in defeating Republicans and re-electing President Obama,” he continued. “These groups will claim independence from the 2012 Democratic campaign agenda, but the fact is that funding will flow to them simply to create buzz and the appearance of a movement that dovetails perfectly with Obama’s campaign rhetoric. For months we have seen Democratic advertising money flowing to loyal media collaborators such as on AlterNet, The Nation, Mother Jones, and others.”

He closed by saying, “Come December this big liberal election year slush fund will dry up, but until then the progressives who play this game will have plenty of cash for staffing, online media, and protest events aimed at Republicans. The feeding trough is overflowing for those who play this game every four years.”

And who suffers? First and foremost, the 99-percent The 99 Spring claims to speak for, while professional liberal foundation-funded, Democratic Party allied activists, think-tankers, “journalists” and operatives feed at the trough of this delicious and corrupt election year gravy train.

A Shakespearean tragedy, to say the least.

The Insider is the pseudonym of an activist who works inside the Liberal Foundation-Funded Democratic Party-Allied Belly of the Beast. 

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CounterPunch Magazine



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