A Leftist group recently gained some high-profile notoriety on two occasions when they interrupted proceedings inside the United States Supreme Court. The first incident occurred in January and the second on April 1st. In both cases, the protesters stood up and shouted slogans to effect of overturning the recent McCutcheon vs. FEC and Citizens United decisions. After their arrest in the January, those protesters were slapped with fines and “time served” sentences. The five most recently face more serious federal crimes that may carry up to a year in jail. It should be mentioned that disrupting a federal court proceeding with the goal of influencing or swaying any participant in any proceeding is a federal crime. In the most recent disruption, the protesters are being tried in federal district court, not the DC municipal court system which underscores the seriousness of the charges.
But just who is this group to which the protesters belong- 99Rise? As the name suggests, it has something to do with the alleged 99% fighting against the 1%. In one of their communiques (language straight out of the Weather Underground days), they are:
…(a) diverse team of activists (with) combined experience in the student, labor, immigrant rights, anti-war, racial and economic justice, LGBTQ, women’s, and global justice movements.
In short, they are the remnants of that quaint movement known as Occupy Wall Street.
It is difficult to determine their leadership since they are by definition amorphous, although their website has a donation tab. The closest one can come to leadership is to search for their “point persons” for joining the “movement” and receiving training. To date, they have point people in Los Angeles, Orange County, California, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Texas, and New York. Therefore, I decided to reach out to these point people with some specific questions about their policy goals and how they wish to achieve them.
Based upon their own website, their’s is a litany of “wants” prefaced by the crisis which they lay at the feet of corporate money influence in politics. As their Supreme Court protest illustrates, they view Citizens United as the top bogeyman preventing passage of these “wants.” And just what are the “wants?”
(1) Economic justice which is never defined beyond the fact that there is rising income inequality in the United States which they then magically attribute to the Supreme Court and Citizens United. If only those pesky corporations would get out of the way, then there would be economic justice and no more income inequality in this country;
(2) Immigrant rights in which they tie ALEC to Corrections Corporation of America (a for-profit prison firm). In other words, we on the right who want existing immigration laws enforced and the border secured are simply dupes of ALEC and for-profit prison corporations;
(3) Racial justice and civil rights which they define as voter ID laws and then quote Eric Holder and his likening these laws to poll taxes. First, quoting Eric Holder is suspect right then and there. Second, it behooves this writer to understand why identification is required to board an airplane or rent a car, but not to vote. Third, it further behooves this writer to understand why someone cannot afford proper identification, but they can a cell phone. Fourth, one wonders if the state provided identification free of charge, would they still be invoking the “poll tax” meme? Fifth, if voter ID laws truly suppress minority voters, why is minority registration and turnout greater in states like Indiana and Georgia, which have voter ID, and not in neighboring, comparable states like Mississippi and Illinois, which do not have these laws? And finally, if these minority advocacy groups truly cared about minority voters, why don’t they financially assist the alleged thousands of indigents who would be disenfranchised?
(4) Climate change which they then point out that Big Oil receives $58 in subsidies for every $1 they expend on lobbying and campaign contributions. Hence, Big Oil is the true culprit of climate change. Their solution is never mentioned although they cite an article that asserts that if oil subsidies were eliminated (globally), it would decrease carbon emissions 50% and keep the world from exploding. The problem is these people are the same ones who also oppose nuclear energy- which emits no greenhouse gases- and would rather these subsidies be redirected to Big Green Energy.
(5) Education rights which, again, they note that for-profit colleges donated $58 million in contributions in the 2008 elections, receive 25% of all Pell Grants, yet enroll only 9% of America’s college students. While they rant about “ultra Right wing” groups like ALEC, they fail to mention that colleges are bastions of liberalism. If anything, this “want” is great advertisement for the elimination or reform of the Pell Grant program. I admittedly have a problem with the high cost of college, but that inflation in tuition is directly attributable to federal higher education programs, not campaign contributions. There is so much that can be done to reign in college costs starting with the elimination of remedial programs which have no place in higher education. And, quite frankly, I think the Nation needs a few more engineers and doctors and considerably fewer graduates of Gender or African-American Studies.
(6) Universal health care which they then state that health insurance companies “secretly funneled over $107 million through the Chamber of Congress to Speaker Boehner’s anti-health reform Congress.” Left unmentioned is the numerous sweetheart deals between pharmaceutical and health insurers with Pelosi’s “we have to pass it to see what’s in it” Congress. Apparently, this organization’s rendition of health care reform is a single-payer, universal, one-size-fits-all system devoid of patient choice. Further, if one remembers correctly, the debate in 2009 over health care was supposed to be open (Obama’s words, not mine) when it was anything but open.
It has been one week and I am still awaiting a response to my e-mail request from their point people. Their non-response indicates one of the following: (1) they are formulating reasoned responses to the detailed questions and it is taking time, (2) they lack detailed responses and cannot answer some simple and some complicated questions, or (3) they simply lack answers altogether and will ignore the e-mail request. My best guess is that it is option (2) or (3) and they are simply another in a very long line of Leftist rabble-rousers equally long on rhetoric (and demonstrations) and short on specific policy solutions. Not to disparage anyone, but looking at the picture of the “Supreme Court Five,” I venture these are a group of misguided college students with too much time on their hands wasting your’s, mine and their parent’s tax dollars.