Friday, February 17, 2012

Taking on a Revolting Bully

A billionaire Mormon backer of Mitt Romney with an anti-gay axe to grind and a habit of using his vast wealth to harass, intimidate and silence critics gets openly challenged by Glenn Greenwald to put up or shut up:
Frank VanderSloot is an Idaho billionaire and the CEO of Melaleuca, Inc., a controversial billion-dollar-a-year company which peddles dietary supplements and cleaning products; back in 2004, Forbes, echoing complaints to government agencies, described the company as “a pyramid selling organization, built along the lines of Herbalife and Amway.” VanderSloot has long used his wealth to advance numerous right-wing political causes. Currently, he is the national finance co-chair of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, and his company has become one of the largest donors ($1 million) to the ostensibly “independent” pro-Romney SuperPAC, Restore Our Future. Melaleuca’s get-rich pitches have in the past caused Michigan regulators to take action, resulting in the company’s entering into a voluntary agreement to “not engage in the marketing and promotion of an illegal pyramid”‘; it entered into a separate voluntary agreement with the Idaho attorney general’s office, which found that “certain independent marketing executives of Melaleuca” had violated Idaho law; and the Food and Drug Administration previously accused Melaleuca of deceiving consumers about some of its supplements.

But it is VanderSloot’s chronic bullying threats to bring patently frivolous lawsuits against his political critics — magazines, journalists, and bloggers — that makes him particularly pernicious and worthy of more attention. In the last month alone, VanderSloot, using threats of expensive defamation actions, has successfully forced Forbes, Mother Jones and at least one local gay blogger in Idaho to remove articles that critically focused on his political and business practices. He has been using this abusive tactic in Idaho for years: suppressing legitimate political speech by threatening or even commencing lawsuits against even the most obscure critics (he has even sued local bloggers for “copyright infringement” after they published a threatening letter sent by his lawyers). This tactic almost always succeeds in silencing its targets, because even journalists and their employers who have done nothing wrong are afraid of the potentially ruinous costs they will incur when sued by a litigious billionaire.

Given Vandersloot's MO, Greenwald and Salon have to be expecting to be in the sights of the billionaire's legal arsenal for this blistering broadside.  It's an open challenge and a slap to provoke a SLAPP.  Repost this widely folks.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Delivering a Message

Explain to me the how the interests of public safety are served by a gang of black clad thugs showing up swaggering about and shoving people for a while, sucker punching one person and throwing another to the ground and then getting back in their cars and driving away?


Are the people holding the banner some kind of direct and proximate to safety or public order that I'm missing and if so why, after committing acts of intimidation and violence against these threats to public order, do the police suddenly drop everything and walk away and leave them still standing there holding their banner?

Is the perceived threat more an existential one?

Is this plain and simply about delivering a message?

The civic responses to the Occupy movement and by extension all economic protests as those against school fees definitely are, deliver a clear message. With their blatant and unambiguous coordination and collusion between media, politicians and police.  The 99% protests after all are explicitly and directly targeting powerful entrenched forces and their control over our society.  Did we think they would just roll over?

The 99% movement only accomplishes any of it's goals if support for it at least approaches a plurality of that 99%.  The monoculture construction we live in created and maintained by the economic power elite will defend itself and a majority of the population still believes there is no viable alternative.

But as the contradicitons become more blatant, as more and more people realize the system is increasingly stacked against them, as we watch Caterpillar continue the elite assault on the concept of the middle class, as corporate citizens annihilate the concept of informed democracy, as those who care about the environment are described as enemies of the state  and students are beaten for standing up for equal access to education the entire structure begins to display its structural weaknesses.

To everybody.

So yes, this kind of deliberately oppressive policing does in fact deliver a message, just not the one intended.  Intended to display power and authority it instead displays weakness.  It displays a huge stupid animal starting to notice pinpricks of opposition and retaliating stupidly and brutally against those threats. 

 First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.       -Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, February 03, 2012

Sun Media's Jihad against the CBC so blatant even a Conservative Minister can see it

Initially, Heritage Minister James Moore said he would like to see more warning on the website regarding the show's content while stressing that Sun is "in the business of going after the CBC."


Wow.  Somebody went off message.

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