Government Overreach

This past Thursday, Representative Vicky Hartzler made stops around Missouri’s Fourth District in town hall/meet and greet events.  The picture that emerges from this trip across MO 4 is not a particularly flattering one for the first term politician. 

 

On April 5, Hartzler visited Warrensburg, Sedalia, Warsaw and Clinton.  From 10:00 AM until 5 PM, the Representative gave us a clear picture of her agenda moving forward in her first term in Congress. 

 

Her tour began in Warrensburg with a very particular tone and message.  The police would maintain order if necessary. “Disruptions and rudeness will not be tolerated,” her Chief of Staff was reported to have remarked under a doomsday-style debt counter. 

 

While in Warrensburg and to a small group, she went on to promote parts of her pro-corporate agenda, which includes:

 

Maintain and further lower taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

 

Cut social programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and food stamps.

 

Continue a crusade against rules and regulations that ‘restrict’ corporations and ‘job creators’.

 

Maintain historically high levels of defense spending.

 

In Sedalia, she repeated the same themes, from debt odometer and police presence to threats of China holding “29 % of US foreign debt” and warning of their “military buildup” to the imminent danger the Social Security Trust is in. 

 

She promoted lowering the tax rates on corporations and the wealthy to 25%.  To make up the difference in lost revenue, she supports a 10% tax on the rest of us.

 

In what quickly devolved into an intellectual downward spiral, Hartzler attempted to frighten the crowd with fears of Chinese spy technology.  When it was correctly pointed out how much US technology is tied to Chinese factories (such as the notorious ties between Apple and the Chinese corporation, Fox Conn. Their ‘employees’ commit suicide in order to escape.), Hartzler said she would look into it and make sure it stopped immediately. 

 

In the next breath she held China as the business model she hopes to see the US to aspire to.  The way to compete with factories who can force people to view suicide as a reasonable escape is clear, according to Hartzler. Placate ‘job-creators’, deregulate and create a more “business-friendly” environment. 

Ironically, Obama signed into law on the same day the JOBS Act, which effectively further deregulates the banking industry to a laughable extent exposing millions of Americans to financial ruin as the rules of Wall Street fall away, allowing them access to previously protected retirement funds, among other things.

 

Hartzler went on to profess her doubts about the President’s citizenship, as well, but minimized her own concerns, stating: 

 

“I have doubts that it is really his real birth certificate, and I think a lot of Americans do, but they claim it is, so we are just going to go with that.”

 

Blind consent and claimed ignorance is a recurring theme with Hartzler. 

 

Later, in Clinton, when asked about her vote on HR 347, which makes it a felony to protest anyone under Secret Service protection,  Hartzler said:

 

(The excerpt below is from a two-part report from Michael Bersen and Show-Me Progress on Hartzler’s stop in Clinton)

 

Uh, that’s what, uh, everybody I talked to, uh, you know, has said before the vote. And then afterwards we had a lot of, you know, people have been saying this ’cause it’s been going around the Internet that it takes away your free speech rights, but I double checked with attorneys and, and legal experts and they tell me that’s not the case. Uh, like I said, there’s a lot of misinformation. But, trust me, if, if it turns out there is a problem with that, I mean, I’ll be the first to vote against. I did support it at the time. It was, like I said, not controversial. Nobody called. I mean, it was, everybody said, oh, it was a simple bill, fix a, a, oversight in the statutes, so. But, keep, keep, uh, keep me apprised. If you hear anything different, if there comes problems in the, if, you know, somebody gets arrested for protesting, using a free speech, let me know. ‘Cause we’ll, we’ll vote to try and change it if we need to. You bet. Thanks for bringing that up.

Wow.

 

“…if, you know, somebody gets arrested for protesting, using free speech, let me know.”

“Cause we’ll vote to try and change it if we need to.  You bet.”

 

 

Hartzler stands on the frontlines of the War on American’s Rights.

 

With votes in favor of the NDAA, which allows for the warrantless apprehension and detention of American citizens without charge or trial, and her aforementioned support of (HR 347) a law that now makes protesting against anyone with Secret Service protection a felony, Hartzler has declared a very distinct legislative path.

 

Vicky Hartzler, by virtue of her voting record, has declared war on the Constitutional Rights of the citizens of the United States and MO 4. 

 

Her office has enforced the threats of her Chief of Staff, as they HAVE arrested those who seek a conversation.  Dissent will not be tolerated. Vicky Hartzler does indeed practice as she preaches.  She backs her extreme positions with the conviction of action. 

 

Vigilant Vicky Hartzler marches in perfect goosestep to the drumbeat of her constituents, and with each passing day and each successive vote we are learning it is an agenda that has a shocking historic precedent. 

 

We should have no fear however, as Hartzler’s faith is an “important part” of her life, as noted by the Daily Star Journal’s J.C. Ventimiglia in Warrensburg.  (NPG, the corporation that owns the Daily Star Journal, offers no free content.  As a result, I cannot include the rest of their coverage of the event.)  Hartzler’s record reflects a somewhat questionable moral compass, however.

 

A click on Hartzler’s official website reveals much.  Here, she uses a local problem in the Lake of the Ozarks area as an example of “government overreach” and a reason to use a manufactured crisis to do away with corporate rules. She also uses this site as a platform through which to impose a religious code on others in what appears to be a prolonged campaign designed to undo the separation of church and state.  The latest front opened in this advance of religion through government is to claim a woman’s sovereign right to privately use birth control is somehow a violation of someone else’s religious freedom.  In fact, it is an excuse to instead impose an employer’s religious view, through legislation designed to ‘protect religious freedom’, on their employees.  Perhaps this is what Hartzler meant by making Missouri and our country more “business-friendly”. 

 

To be fair to Hartzler, she was not alone in her rush to appease her benefactors.  To add context, Hartzler’s march across MO 4 comes along with a meeting with leaders in Jefferson City on how to best “protect and promote” Missouri’s military bases in the face of potential downsizing.  The best way to do that is to pass a rapid fire pro-corporate agenda that benefits companies such as Boeing.  In the rush to sell out Missouri, we have Cushing, the precursor for Keystone, cutting across our state and employers who will soon be able to dictate your bedroom behavior to their liking.

 

The Missouri State Senate weighed in on the birth control issue last week. They decided an employer’s religious views supercede a woman’s right to choose how to treat her body, to say nothing of the disgusting intrusion of privacy this presents. They also passed pro-corporate legislation designed to put Missouri’s workers at the mercy of the corporations, all in an effort to ease the minds of “job creators”.  They have repeatedly overturned the will of the people of this state in order to satisfy those who contribute most to their campaigns. 

 

Here, in my county of Camden, the local political leadership, along with the local branch of the Missouri Ministry of Truth, Gatehouse Media’s Lake Sun, is attempting to assume their way to passing a measure that would subsidize a tax break for the big ticket purchases made by the wealthy.  They are skillful in their sales pitch and their choice of language, as has been noted elsewhere in this blog, in attempting to tell a population whose median family income is $40,695 they must subsidize a tax break for the big ticket purchases of the wealthy, i.e. boats.

 

The people in this county are hurting financially and they would threaten us with cuts to our road service if we don’t accept the deal they are offering.   In my community, we are already at the mercy of Big Oil every day, and a trip to Camdenton’s Wal-Mart tells you all you need to know about a corporation.   The suddenly antiquated notion of customer service that built Sam Walton’s company is inconvenient and costs too much to keep up. Now, they hardly have any checkout lines open, forcing customers to wait in long lines.  This produces better bottom lines and besides, where else are you going to go and what else are you going to do? 

 

The media of the Ministry of Truth in MO 4 endorses it because it is in the best interest of their ownership to do so.  There is a profit motivation to create an ignorant, uninformed population.  The trip to Wal-Mart and to fill up says so.

 

The result of this philosophy has been Vicky Hartzler and her assault on our rights, the ultimate government overreach.

Missouri Media Is Becoming Frightning Prototype

Gatehouse Media outlets not acknowledging Ron Paul’s strong showing in the state should come as no surprise, considering the history of both Paul’s record as civil liberty advocate and their refusal to take a look at the record of the candidate they helped into office in the 4th District of Missouri, Vigilant Vicky Hartzler.

Consideration of her record would include reporting on her votes on issues like NDAA, her support of SOPA and her office having people arrested for deciding to wait for a meeting.  The Lake Sun and the other Gatehouse Media outlets cited in my blogs, are, by such association, becoming the new prototype for local news.  The kind that reports on basketball games and parades while promoting through bias and ignorance a heavy-handed, pro-corporate agenda that has seen an unprecedented assault on American’s civil liberties.  Yet oddly, we hear silence. 

Or, worse, lies.

And as I learned, they aren’t the only rural media outlets promoting this agenda.  Most of rural Missouri’s news outlets in the 4th District are silent on what Paul’s showing might signify.  If you read their reporting, their advantage primarily comes down to organizational skills and knowledge of the rules. And if you listen to Rick Santorum, to aspire to higher education is to seek to be ‘indoctrinated’.

At what point do we begin to hold the self-appointed gatekeepers at Gatehouse Media and other rural Missouri media outlets responsible for what their bias and silence leads to?  We had better do it soon, that much is clear.  The right to resist has nearly been legislated away.

For more information, please follow on Twitter @AmericanSpring. Peace all.

The Gatehouse Version

Last Sunday morning KY3’s Sara Forhetz gave me the first news of the Missouri caucus.  She reported on the arrests made in St. Peters and the postponement of their caucus and she gave a recap of the Greene County results.  In those, Ron Paul and his supporters scored a clear and decisive victory taking a clear majority of the elected delegates, with Romney a distant second and Santorum a badly beaten third. 

I will admit that I laughed out loud because, as I have maintained from the beginning, if you actually have to count the votes, Dr. Paul is a strong candidate, primarily because his long held views on personal liberties, including the repeal of the Patriot Act and NDAA, his anti-occupation stance regarding our military force and his stated objective to end the failed ‘War on Drugs’ are messages that resonate with a large section of Americans. 

As for the arrests, I am sorry to say that without knowing a single detail from any of the events that occurred around the state on St. Patrick’s Day, I was not at all surprised.  I took a quick glance around the headlines and saw that there were several reports of disruptions coming from all over the state.  I was reminded of a workplace conversation a friend, who is a proud Tea Partier, and I, had about his feelings going into the caucus. 

He had tuned out.  He supports Newt Gingrich and his candidate didn’t even take the time to register.  Politics, for him, have now become toxic.  The endless parade of debates, of the avalanche of negative ads ( luckily, and due in part to the switch to caucus, Missouri has yet to bear the full brunt of the Super PAC ), the constant, continued refrain of their hard-line minority that seems to determined to pull the party to the right of Hitler.  He has had enough of all of it. 

It was the second time in a week someone had expressed that opinion to me, the first person telling me he didn’t even want to vote.

The rising level of frustration across the country is palpable.

On Monday, when I began sifting through the articles, a pattern was beginning to emerge across the state that was worth taking note of.  In several counties, it seemed a minority of people attempted to hijack the process in order to show support to their candidate of choice, the radically conservative Rick Santorum.

On Tuesday, when the Lake Sun announced the results from Camden County, they came along with a pledge for Santorum and an over-inflated illusion of support for the former lobbyist during a campaign stop the Friday before the caucus.  

The Lake Sun’s radical inflation of support for Rick Santorum and the editorial tone of the ‘calm’ Camden County caucus were too much to take.  Outright lies and the practice of manipulating facts by those working in our media cannot be tolerated any longer.  We must hold them accountable.

That began my look into my ‘local’ paper and their editorial staff, the corporate ownership, their overall editorial direction and the effect, if any; this has on the primary process.  It didn’t take long before the elephant in the room refused to be ignored and a bigger picture emerges.

 

Gatehouse Media:Who Are The Gatekeepers?

 

A quick tour through their website offers a picture of the Gatehouse Media influence across small markets in Missouri, as well as several other states. This from the ‘About Us’ section of their site:

GateHouse Media’s business model is to be the preeminent provider of local content and advertising in the small and midsize markets we serve. Our portfolio of products, which includes 431 community publications and more than 405 related websites and six yellow page directories, serves over 299,000 business advertising accounts and reaches approximately 10 million people on a weekly basis. As of September 25, 2011, our core products included:

  • 79 daily newspapers with total paid circulation of approximately 657,000;
  • 257 weekly newspapers (published up to three times per week) with total paid circulation of approximately 493,000 and total free circulation of approximately 694,000;
  • 95 “shoppers” (generally advertising-only publications) with total circulation of approximately 1.5 million;
  • Over 405 locally focused websites, which extend our franchises onto the internet; and
  • Six yellow page directories, with a distribution of approximately 490,000, that covers a population of approximately 1.2 million people.

 

 

Gatehouse Media specializes in small circulation newspaper ownership and in Missouri; they are big players in the rural news market.  Whether it is my own Lake Sun Leader in Camdenton, the Booneville Daily News, the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, the Waynesville Daily Guide, or the St. James Leader-Journal, it is the same Gatehouse template. 

After learning the Lake Sun decided to spin fact from fiction to favor Santorum, I began looking at some of these Gatehouse Media outlets and their caucus coverage. 

The Waynesville Daily Guide provided an immediate example of pro-Santorum coverage with an article that expanded on his point of view.  The hits continued to come along increasingly pro-corporate, pro-Republican lines with their article on the alliance of corporate powers Cargill, Monsanto and others to derail the will of the Missouri people regarding the Prop B puppy mill legislation passed by the voters of this state.  The obvious bias is reflected in Alan Scherzaiger’s report as it attempts to justify the use of corporate influence in politics to overturn the will of the people of the state.  One wonders if Mr. Scherzaiger is from Missouriat all and if so, does he work for Monsanto’s PR department?  While these were hot topics in the Waynesville Daily Guide, it appears there might not have even been a caucus, as there was no reference to it at all.

In fact, as I looked through their website, it appears the last truly local news update occurred in October of last year.  Perhaps that explains my previous questions about Mr. Scherzaiger.

The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune’s coverage of their own Livingstone County caucus was very straight forward and appeared to be very matter of fact. All things went smoothly and there has been no further mention of the caucus. 

This is marginally better than the Rolla Daily News.  They didn’t even mention the caucus.  Neither did the Booneville Daily News, although to be fair, they did tout a political prayer fest. Not a single word about the caucus was mentioned in the Carthage Press either, touted as Southwest Missouri’s oldest paper.

And the St. James Leader-Journal decided to instead focus on a pity party for its paper’s corporate ownership and the current editor’s family’s role in it.  Their website is reflective of a familiar theme of blog voices, conservative and religious.  If that is starting to sound familiar to you, rest assured.  You aren’t alone.  Although I will say this, to the editor.  Yes, I am from out of town but thanks for introducing me to St. James’ famous whine! 

Oh. Wait.

The Neosho Daily News reported overwhelming support for Santorum in Newton County and a smooth process, despite the recurring sense of frustration with the change from a ‘winner-take-all’ primary system.

You will have to join me for a laugh.  In the Hannibal Courier-Post they are not talking about the GOP caucus at all, but if you want a good laugh, click here and check out the top news stories.  A flip through the pages here and you tell me how anxious YOU are to visit Mark Twain’s home.  You will also notice the same parade of conservative ‘opinion’ pieces.

To be fair, the Examiner stands out from the ‘Missouri’ template for Gatehouse, as it appears to reflect a slightly more unique and independent (no pun intended) stance than the cookie cutter pattern.   Still, there was no mention of the caucus chaos, begging the question:  “If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to report it…?”

What you might not know, if you don’t look outside the Gatehouse version of ‘local’, rural media, is bound to hurt you.  Here is a small collection of stories that emerged from the Missouri caucus, gathered from various sources.  For more detail on the arrests made in St. Charles, please check here.  The Turner Report has done extensive work on this, including an update today with video. 

What begins to emerge is a slightly different picture than the one presented rural Missouri in outlets controlled by the corporate Gatehouse Media.  In fact, when one begins to look closer at the results that came from the St. Louis and Jackson Counties yesterday, it would appear Gatehouse Media is squarely aligned with the minorities who sought to grasp at control of their caucus across the state.,  

More to come….please contact via Twitter @AmericanSpring with comments.

Candlelight Vigil

Candlelight Vigil

This past Friday before Christmas, I lit a candle and kept it burning constantly throughout the holiday weekend. I have not extinguished it because it is my reminder of those who are serving in Occupations right now, around our state, our country and our world.  It is my reminder of all those around the globe who are standing up for what’s right, in spite of increasing aggression against them.  It reminds me of our shared plight and that the 99% knows no borders and is as global as the corporatism we stand in defiance of.

I can’t help but think of the Eternal Flame that burns at JFK’s grave site. The dream it was intended to represent, the visionary spirit.  President Kennedy is as fitting a martyr as any.  He appears to have been our last bastion of hope against what has since been a non-stop, machine timed march toward allowing corporations and the 1% to rule through their politician proxies.  Things might have been different had he not been murdered.

I have watched the candle’s flame flicker and dance in the gathering darkness and cannot avoid the irony embedded in the scene.  While it seems there are far too few flames burning for freedom and in opposition to the theft of our liberties, our numbers are growing each day.  Soon, the bright fires of righteousness will turn back the shadows that threaten now to swallow us up, to hide us, to silence us.

Each brave man, woman and child, willing to Occupy in the face of the forces that gather against them are now, and will ever be remembered in our history as the first to lay blocks in a wall of resistance against corporate rule via our corrupted systems.  All of you who are Occupying are doing the rest of us a great service, as you are a representation of the rapid erosion and restriction of our rights and liberties that have been achieved in secrecy to throttle such a public outcry against what they are doing to us.  You are the first of us, those in the mythological minority that we know by a different name:

The 99%.

It is for all of you that I burn this candle.  For my friends in Occupy Detroit, who stood this week against the worst kind of atrocity, the elimination of our public libraries.  To those who were arrested in defense of information and our right and access to it, I cannot say enough thank you’s.  My family thanks you, as we use the resources at our public library and believe in the value it provides.  To Ms. Emma Howland-Bolton, a personal thank you for all the work you are doing and the attention you have helped to bring this subject.

For my friends in Occupy KC, who have seen the mayor’s office insist the public pay to exercise their rights to free speech during their upcoming Death of Social Safety Net jazz funeral December 30th this week, I say, I will march with you.  I will add my candle with yours to illuminate the insanity of defunding these programs when they are most needed.  Government by the people and for the people….but I digress.  The candle I burn is for the struggles you are having from lack of funding, but it is also in hopes of continuing to build on your positive relationship with the KCPD.  Thank you to @gnuggitz for all your kind words and @loki8025 for all the late night sentry updates.

It is for my friends at Occupy Flint and Occupy Maine and Occupy Norfolk and Occupy Columbia, Mo.  It is for all of you because what you are doing now, well, that’s for all of us.

Merry Christmas from us here at American Spring.  Solidarity.

And Santa, if you’re listening, I’ll take world peace for Christmas…..or as a New Year’s Resolution if you think it might take a little longer than one night to deliver.

Occupy KC, Dec 30 and The High Cost of Free Speech

The High Cost of Free Speech

Photo from Christian Soulliere, wonderfully talented photographer whose work can be found at christiansoulliere.com. Photo of: Occupy KC investigating a crime scene at the poster child for bank fraud, BofA.

 

It seems as though this country’s politicians have decided they can impose fees if we wish to exercise the rights guaranteed us as Americans.  It would appear those politicians feel as though they can use financial excuses to restrict my rights. They would have us believe that it’s within their power to restrict us with arguments of overtime and man hours spent.  They would have us buy in to the notion that we should be ‘polite’ enough not to challenge the assertions that their bottom line trumps the rights I have carried from birth.  They would have us believe that to object to this insane notion, this whimsy, you must be an anarchist.

For the good mayor of Kansas City and his police chiefs and department, I would assert that my freedom of speech isn’t subject to your budget cuts.  I would also say that what few tax dollars are really paid to the cops is all right with most taxpayers.  Let folks say what they have to say.  Someone should be speaking out against the loss of Medicare, Medicaid and the constant threats about Social Security.

I am not sure which is more disturbing, the misguided notion that politicians now can determine when, where and how Americans practice their rights, or the stunning reality that all too many of us are willing to swallow that pill.  Just like with the Patriot Act.  Just like with the NDAA.  The heady brew of media distortion and deception, pundits who galvanize talking points with repetitive sound bytes and well, damn politeness, has brought us here in virtual silence without dissent.

Doesn’t that frighten you the way it does me?  What world are we passing forward?  What world do we have left?

We are Americans, first and foremost, and while we have them, I will use my guaranteed rights until my last breath is gone.  I owe myself that.  We all do.

I support Occupy KC and plan on attending the jazz funeral.  We are taking our kids to show them the power of our democracy in action.  We are taking them because it’s damn good to be free.  I’m proud to be an American.  On December 30th, 2011, I intend to show it.  I ask that the police of Kansas City not scare my daughters, as I would not scare theirs.  I trust they will not, as they have had a good relationship with the Occupation to this point.

It is going to be a jazz style funeral, in Kansas City, who can resist that?  I love Kansas City.  I want to show the girls that part of our history, our culture, our past.  It saddens me, as such reunions during funerals often do, how fragile those things are now.

Our social safety net is not theirs to take.  We must speak out against this false assumption.

I ask that if you read this and can, please join us.  Occupy Kansas City represents something increasingly important in our society.  It represents us.  We are the 99%.

Hope to see you there.
Solidarity.

Details on the march can be found here.