Everyday Erinyes #75

 Posted by at 12:19 pm  Politics
May 192017
 

(AKA Friday Furies – today)

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

After last week's focus on the Bradley Foundation (more fully, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation), I wanted to follow up a little, with articles that focus on specific things that the Foundation is doing, and articles that show that it is now getting attention from local media where it is getting most active.

Of course the Foundation is located in Milwaukee, WI, so it makes sense that Wisconsin media would be interested.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has zoomed in upon the Foundation's activities, including its ties to Scott Walker (gee, thanks, Bradley /S)

When Gov. Scott Walker laid out a plan in his state budget address urging people to take steps to avoid welfare, it mirrored a platform of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has pushed for greater personal responsibility and more stringent welfare requirements.

Documents hacked from the Bradley Foundation's computer server show the connection is not just philosophical — it's financial….

The foundation even awarded a $100,000 grant to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to underwrite the commission itself — an unusual, if not unique, step in government. Neither the source of the commission's money nor the foundation's stake in the outcome was disclosed. The state spent about $62,000 of the grant before making its recommendation to the governor.

This excellent piece of reporting follows the money to show how deep the Bradley Foundation's tentacles go, and how they spread out into multiple areas of Winsoncin government.  Or maybe we should say "Fitzwalkerstan" government.  Personally, I think it's a pity Scotty didn't take a post with the Trump Administration before now, so that he could be taken down with it.  But, if he was too cunning to do so before, he's definitely too cunning to do so now.  Sad.

The Journal Sentinel is very much on the whole story; there are two other articles just this week on the Foundation.  One focuses on its funding of groups opposing climate regulation, and the other includes an interview with Marcus S. Owens, who ran the IRS's tax-exempt organizations division during the 1990's; he shows how closely they are skating to the exempt-non exempt line, and indeed going over it.

Other Wisconsin media are also discussing the Foundation, including the Wisconsin Independent and Urban Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, it has comne to the attention of Colorado Politics that the Bradley Foundation is putting a lot of money into Colorado, with a focus on union-busting.  Citing the CMD report, the article says:

Bradley has given the Colorado-based Independence Institute $1.45 million between 2004-2016, the documents indicate, including multiple grants some years. With the assistance of the Independence Institute, the right-wing Douglas County school board enacted a series of measures, including countywide school vouchers for private and religious schools (later struck down by the courts), plus an end to collective bargaining, teacher tenure, and automatic dues deductions for teachers unions. In 2013, the battle resulted in a high-dollar school board race where unions and the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group spent heavily.

Bradley has been a big funder of this agenda. In 2015, Bradley gave a grant of $100,000 to Independence Institute for “aggressive education reform,” which Bradley says included “neutralizing the power of Colorado’s teachers’ unions by defunding them at the local school district level” (Independence Institute, Grant Proposal Record, 11/10/15).

The Independence Institute's response:

It’s no secret that the Independence Institute, the Denver-based libertarian-leaning think tank, takes on unions at every turn, and it depends on anonymous donors to do it.

“We never talk about our donors,” Independence Institute president and CEO Jon Caldara said in an e-mail. “But if Bradley gave us that much money to fight unions, I’d be living on some small island with that cash right now instead."

Oh my.  Well, it certainly is refreshing for a right wing/Libertarian operative admit he is an embezzler, even if only at heart.

Over in the State of Washington, The Stand ("News About Working People Standing Together in Washington State") also picked up the informmation about union-busting.

In Washington state, the Bradley Foundation granted $1.5 million over three years to the Freedom Foundation with the purpose of “defund[ing] Big Labor,” because “Washington State’s liberal labor laws have long allowed it to be a net exporter of union dollars to other parts of the country,” according to proposals regarding the grant.

Examples of the Freedom Foundation’s anti-union activities in Washington include canvassing, mailing, and phone banking union members to get them to opt out of their unions. They also hired a Santa Claus to leaflet state workers as they walked in and out of their workplace, encouraging them to stop paying full union dues.

The Stand also noted that, besides Wisconsin, Colorado, and Washington, the two states the Foundation targets most aggressively are North Carolina and Oregon.

Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO said:

We’re not going to let the Bradley Foundation, the Freedom Foundation, or the other groups they fund get us down. More than ever, working people are coming together to raise wages, protect workers’ rights, and expand the right to organize in our state. We will continue to spotlight and expose the negative, destabilizing outside pressure from anti-union groups on state and local governments. We must ensure Washington politics put the priorities of Washington’s working families first.

Dear Furies, fighting this thing is like fighting the nine-headed Lernean Hydra, which grew two new heads every time one was cut off, at least until the immortal head in the middle was found.  Perhaps you need to enlist Heracles to deal with this – thing.  One version of the myth says that cauterizing the necks with a torch prevented their regeneration; if you are too busy to hold the torches, perhaps Iolaos, who originally served that function, would come along.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4053330

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Everyday Erinyes #74

 Posted by at 11:41 am  Politics
May 132017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

What a week.  WHAT. A. WEEK.  Well, at least the big story is SO big that the crumbs I have come up with, important though they may be (one probably isn't), will largely have gone under everyone's radar.  So maybe we can learn something.  Although, maybe we will wish we hadn't.

All of us are familiar to the point of contempt with the infamous Koch Brothers, including their connection to ALEC.  What we may not be so vividly aware of is thet they are not alone.  I'd like to introduce you to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

Documents regarding this Foundation first became available in October 2016, when references showed up in two Twitter accounts linked to the Russiand who hackec the DNC (yes, I should say "alleged," but please assume that a lot of this is "alleged" for now.)  Turns out the Bradley Foundation is a little bigger than the three Koch family foundations combined ($835 mill as of June 2016).  Well, that's interesting.  So where is this money going?

CMD has examined thousands of these documents, including Bradley board documents between 2013-2016. The documents indicate that Bradley has a new stream of funding to build this “conservative infrastructure” and is using a metric to assess the strength and depth of that infrastructure in individual states — including “receptive” politicians, right-wing “think tanks,” symbiotic “grassroots” groups, friendly media, litigation centers, and opposition research — to guide Bradley’s strategic funding initiatives.

Dismantling unions is high on their list of priorities, and ais considered by them to be an important key to turning blue states red.  States like Wisconsin and Michigan.  Incidentally, the Foundation is organized as a 501(c)(3), though from its activities it appears it ought to be a 501(c)(4).  Rich donors, therefore, are receiving tax breaks – as if they needed any more of those – from their contributions.

Two specific examples of uses of Bradley money raise red flags:

1.  Training Republican Candidates and Operatives.

This section follows the money from Bradley to American Majority [sic] to the former Media Trackers, now called Greenhouse Solutons.  “American Majority has trained 3,853 pro-freedom individuals at more than 100 training events. 208 trained candidates have run for state or local office, 181 advanced out of their primaries to the general election. 104 went on to win their elections. These include state legislators, 45 county board supervisors, 27 municipal office holders, 22 school board members and 5 judges.”

2.  Bradley Infrastructure and the "Barder Fund."

“In effectuating its mission, by necessity, Bradley’s grantmaking program has always emphasized the importance of what’s now being called “infrastructure.” Historically, Bradley used to be known and was lauded for providing ongoing, general-operating support to the national think tanks that laid the foundation for and then helped sustain the conservative ascendance beginning in the 1980s.”

The Bradley files contain a list of 20 Bradley-funded national organizations that support this state-based infrastructure (Barder Fund, August 18, 2015).

These include:
America’s Future Foundation
American Legislative Exchange Council  (note:  we know this one well)
American Transparency
Americans for Prosperity Foundation
Americans for Tax Reform Foundation
Center for Consumer Freedom [Berman and Co.]
Employment Policies Institute [Berman and Co.]
Interstate Policy Alliance [Berman and Co.]
Foundation for Government Accountability
FreedomWorks Foundation
Illinois Policy Institute
Leadership Program of the Rockies
Liberty Foundation of America
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Mercatus Center
National Review Institute
Sagamore Institute
State Policy Network
Texas Public Policy Foundation
Think Freely Media

It's a long, fact-filled article, but it does have a link to a much shorter, sharable video on Facebook 9I am not on Facebook myself, sorry.)  Alecto, there's a very long time buildup here.  Can you work on it?

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Republican ambition and goals have come to this:
"Arizona legislator: 'One thing I would like to repeal is the law on compulsory education'"

Yes, you read that right.  “Education used to be a privilege… People used to believe getting an education was something you had to be privileged to get, that you had to work hard to get. Now we basically force it down everybody’s throats.”

As the "diarist" says:

Those of you who don’t want to be in school, which was about 95% of my friends in 3rd grade, shouldn’t be forced to be learnin’ stuff (and you should know this when you’re eight). Why do you need algebra, chemistry, history, literature or other useless information in order to be Walmart greeters, convenience store clerks, burger flippers or good fundy wives. Or Republican voters. Nor do you need pesky critical thinking classes that might tell you how much you’re getting screwed.

Arizona Democrats regularly point out that the legislature and Gov. Ducey are trying to destroy public education. Rep. Mosley has a solution: Why bother? There aren't enough facepalms left.

Megaera, I would say this qualifies as "grudging."

Finally, this last revelation doesn't really qualify as important.  It's noteworthy only as additional evidence of how delusional people can be – and, unfortunately, that includes people who have equally delusional followers.  You thought Pizzagate was farfetched?  I swear, I am NOT making this up.  I couldn't.

End Times radio host Rick Wiles interviewed “financial analyst” Jim Willie of GoldenJackass.com on his “Trunews” radio program on Friday, where Willie asserted that Queen Elizabeth is a child-killing satanist lizard who is literally inhuman and that Bill and Hillary Clinton are both cannibals.

Right Wing Watch has an audio of the radio program, but here's an excerpt of what Jim Willie had to say:

Hillary Clinton has the same cannibalism brain disease [that Bill CLinton has], Willie said, before adding that she actually already died due to some “very serious incident” that happened on 9/11 from which she never recovered.

“That woman on the third [presidential] debate, if you think that was Hillary, you got rocks in your head, you got nothing in your head,” Willie declared. “That was a 45 to 50 year-old woman posing as a wrinkled 70 year-old Hillary? Are you kidding me? I’m not stupid!”

Tisiphone, I hardly know what to say after that.  Good luck.
 
The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4052383

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