“Good day my friend! I must say, you certainly look like a smart and discerning voter! Have you lost weight recently? Hey, don’t those folks in Washington DC just make ya mad? Sayin’ they’ve just got your interest in mind while takin’ all that money from special interests and doin’ what’s best for them…when they’re not fightin’ with each other like stubborn brats, am I right? Don’t ya wish we could just get rid of both parties and just elect good people who’ll do everything we all want?
Well, my friend, it’s a good thing I ran into you. Ya see, just by chance I’ve got millions of dollars behind me just to make all your dreams come true. I can’t tell ya who the money’s from or who’s behind all of this, you’re just gonna have to trust me that I’ve only got your best interests in mind and I’m only doing this for you. Er, what’s your name again, friend?”
Basing a new, allegedly populist party on the old movie, “The Music Man” might work to fool some of the people in the short term but it wouldn’t seem to be sustainable. Especially when those trying to hide their involvement in such a venture are eventually exposed…which intrepid souls out there already have accomplished on the web though not really in the MSM yet. The fruits of their valuable labors (huge props are owed to Jim Cook at Irregular Times and Stephen Gowens’ “What’s Left” among others for being way ahead on this story and reporting many of the details provided below) will be shared later on and the picture that is painted is deserving of concern.
Americans Elect’s website (http://www.americanselect.org) is astoundingly devoid of meaningful information about who is financing their “populist” organization and the names of all those managing and overseeing it behind the scenes. In fact, they have openly stated that they have no obligation to inform the public as to who’s financing them…while also claiming “the people” are financing them…the latter will shortly be proven to be a gross misrepresentation.
They use the Get Satisfaction service for blog purposes, here are excerpts of the comments currently on the “Who’s Behind This” thread for Americans Elect (you can read the rest of the comments here):
- Americans Elect has blocked the viewing of the vast majority of responses by individuals to this thread with the line “Due to volume, only the 15 most recent replies are being displayed.”
- Mr. Levine, please stop the BS. It would take about 10 minutes and ZERO dollars to code an html page listing WHO is behind this organization and ftp it to your website. If you honestly don’t have ANYONE with those very minimal capabilities, please post your e-mail and I will spend the 10 minutes needed to code it and send it to you.
- Dimple B.’s initial answer is a non-answer. Joshua Levine asks us to “keep in mind that we have limited funds and resources to work on all this and we’re doing the best we can.” But Thomas Friedman tells us Americans Elect is funded by serious hedge fund money, and we’re informed that they’ve already spent enough to collect 1,600,000 signatures in California. They have enough money to gather over a million signatures, but not enough to type out the names of their Board of Directors and post it to their website? That just doesn’t make sense.
- The idea is good. But the fact that the organization is deliberately not mentioning the founders, shows bad faith. Transparency should be paramount for an internet based initiative.
- I have a very strong feeling that we are being played for chumps for someone with an vested interest in influencing the upcoming 2012 election towards one party or another. Without transparency, it is a reasonable assumption.
- I just don’t want another Tea Party/Koch brothers repeat, which is why it’s important to me to know who is behind the curtain funding/running this movement. I’d really hate to find out that “if it seems too good to be true, it usually is” applies here.
- Actually what I have found out is that those behind this are hedge fund managers. So if anything this is yet another faux grass roots effort funded by the same corporatists.
It is encouraging that people are seeing the disingenuous nature of an organization claiming to serve the public while keeping much of its organizational, operational and financing information as secret as possible.
We’ll get to the initial and central financier of Americans Elect shortly but thanks to the detective work of Jim Cook at Irregular Times, we are aware of at least one hedge fund manager who’s helping to finance this group:
Here’s the name of another Americans Elect contributor with special interests, plucked from the Piryx giving stream: Kirk T. Rostron of Alexandria, VA. Kirk Rostron is a co-founder and managing partner of The Mt. Vernon Group, a private capital investment firm situated in a choice spot just four blocks from the White House at 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC. Rostron specializes in managing hedge funds, having done so previously at Merrill Lynch, Hovde Capital Advisors and HedgeCall.
As a hedge fund manager and managing partner of a private capital investment firm, Kirk Rostron has special interests in various aspects of American economic policy, from regulation to privatization to transparency to taxation. Curiously enough, of the seven areas of policy Americans Elect identifies as relevant, it overwhelmingly focuses on economic policy in its delegate process. Within the 64 policy questions Americans Elect has deployed to shape the selection of its 2012 presidential candidate, the largest subset — a full 17 questions — has to do with privatization, deregulation and taxes, fixating on policy issues in a manner highly compatible with the special interests of well-to-do private capital financiers like Kirk Rostron.
And yet, Americans Elect shamelessly states in interviews and on its website, “None of our funding comes from special interests or lobbyists. ” So hedge fund managers located a stone’s throw from the White House and Congress aren’t classified as “special interests” or “lobbyists”? This is very telling when it comes to considering Americans Elect’s true motives and veracity, no wonder they have withheld and tried to hide the identity of those financing this venture…hard to promote this as a grass roots group when most of its funding comes from the wealthiest Americans.
The Americans Elect process for nominating and running a candidate works hard to appear populist, the gimmick is that people who sign up with them become delegates and can nominate potential candidates but there is a sneaky little asterisk on that offer:
Americans Elect is the first truly open nominating process. Any constitutionally-eligible, qualified citizen—no matter their party—can seek the nomination, or be drafted by our delegates. We will never promote any candidate of our own—and the ultimate winner is decided only by American voters. To ensure the integrity of the process, all potential candidates must be certified by an independent committee and meet a set of standard qualification criteria such as background checks.
An independent committee will choose which candidates meet a set of standard qualifications. A red herring is thrown out by only naming background checks as one of the criteria but they also say elsewhere that a candidate must be considered someone of similar stature to our previous presidents. How many “real” people will fit that description and how subjective is a determination on this requirement? It appears to be just a facade of populism with mechanics that insure that only candidates who satisfy the management’s sensibilities will be qualified.
And who chooses the people who will make up this independent committee? Won’t that be a pivotal factor in which potential candidates are deemed “presidential enough”? Might that again be Americans Elect’s management who can stack the committee deck to get the deal they want?
It’s a neat trick to make up one’s own mandates and handpick one’s own “independent” panel that is required to follow those mandates then declare their decision to be “independent”.
BTW, Americans Elect isn’t a political party…unless they are a political party, it all depends on which interview, documentation or press release of theirs you happen to listen to. If you watched Elliot Ackerman on PBS’ Newshour this week, you would have heard him definitively stating that Americans Elect is not a third party. However, if you checked public records in Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Michigan and Nevada, you would find that they have either registered themselves or have been classified by the state as a political party. Or you could have read a letter by their legal counsel in which they declared that Americans Elect is “qualified for ballot access as a ‘national party’”.
Why the deception about this? Well, when an organization is doing something that they aren’t legally allowed to do, they have to publicly say they’re not doing it.
Americans Elect is a 501 c4 which is a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation classified under Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees.
One key provision of a 501 c4 is that they may lobby for legislation and may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as campaigning is not the organization’s primary purpose.
Which works just peachy for Americans Elect because…er…all they’re focused on doing is promoting, nominating and campaigning for a presidential candidate.
Lately, Americans Elect has been making the PR rounds on cable news and even Colbert’s show (readers of this article are invited to tweet or email Colbert to alert him to having unknowingly promoted this suspect group). Elliot Ackerman, young and fresh faced, has been doing the chores and makes a perfect front man. Who’s going to ask tough questions of a medal winning vet and risk appearing disrespectful of his service?
To try and get a handle on this slippery organization, let’s begin with the information they do provide.
Elliot Ackerman is the COO of Americans Elect, whose only biographical information that can be reasonably found is that he is an Iraq war veteran with a Silver Star (for some reason, the Medal of Honor awarded Sergeant Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate came to mind). Aside from providing a Hollywood-casting, tailor made populist image for this organization, how did that background alone qualify or position him to be the COO of a million dollar, rabidly ambitious, political organization?
Well…let’s ask his dad.
Elliot Ackerman’s father is Peter Ackerman who, in the 1980’s was Michael Milken’s top collaborator at Drexel Burnham Lambert. In 1988 for example, Ackerman received $165 million in salary and $38 million in bonuses while being an accomplice in Milken’s junk bond schemes that destroyed and bankrupted many financial institutions, investors and businesses…not to mention helping to crash the US economy which brought about a recession.
Milken of course was found guilty for securities fraud and sentenced to 10 years for what he was engaged in at that time. Ackerman was able to escape prosecution despite his direct involvement in many of the same junk bond deals Milken went to prison for and he walked away from the world of finance with his hundreds of millions while Milken went behind bars.
And so, the highly secretive and private Peter Ackerman, bailed out with his ill gotten gains from Wall Street, jumping from DBL just before it crashed into bankruptcy in 1990 and parachuting into academia, hoping to start anew and erase his past (though he has continued his dealings in the world of finance).
Perhaps he realized that he could use his experience in takeovers in the political world.
After leaving DBL, Peter Ackerman soon co-founded The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict which claims “to promote the study and utilization of nonmilitary strategies by civilian-based movements to establish and defend human rights, social justice and democracy.”
There are some who view the ICNC far differently than the altruistic description above would portray:
…it rejects overt CIA sponsorship to escape the taint of being associated with the CIA. Instead, it relies on funding channeled openly through Western government and ruling class foundations. Ackerman defines the technique as: “the shrewd use of strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience”  in addition to mass protests  and even nonviolent sabotage, to disrupt the functioning of government  and make “a country ungovernable.”  NVR (non-violent resistance), then, is equivalent to the CIA-engineered destabilization used to help overthrow Chile’s leftist president, Salvador Allende.
(Peter) Ackerman, Helvey and Sharp are involved in some capacity in deploying Sharp’s destabilization techniques to countries the US government pressures diplomatically, militarily and economically: Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Myanmar, Iran, and formerly Georgia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia.
One thing that would not appear to be disputed is that the ICNC and Peter Ackerman are actively involved in undermining and changing the governments of which they disapprove.
Peter Ackerman was also a board member of Freedom House, described in “Manufacturing Dissent” by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky:
Freedom House, which dates back to the early 1940s, has had interlocks with AIM (Accuracy in Media), the World Anticommunist League, Resistance International, and U.S. government bodies such as Radio Free Europe and the CIA, and has long served as a virtual propaganda arm of the government and international right wing. It sent election monitors to the Rhodesian elections staged by Ian Smith in I979 and found them “fair,” whereas the I980 elections won by Mugabe under British supervision it found dubious. Its election monitors also found the Salvadoran elections of I982 admirable.
It has expended substantial resources in criticizing the media for insufficient sympathy with U.S. foreign-policy ventures and excessively harsh criticism of U.S. client states. Its most notable publication of this genre was Peter Braestrup’s Big Story, which contended that the media’s negative portrayal of the Tet offensive helped lose the war.
The work is a travesty of scholarship, but more interesting is its premise: that the mass media not only should support any national venture abroad, but should do so with enthusiasm, such enterprises being by definition noble. In I982, when the Reagan administration was having trouble containing media reporting of the systematic killing of civilians by the Salvadoran army, Freedom House came through with a denunciation of the “imbalance” in media reporting from El Salvador.
Here’s a very interesting graphic which is represented as a flow chart of Peter Ackerman’s involvements and entanglements, courtesy of AP’s blog at Quotha.net (yep, the Koch Brothers and Rand Corporation made the chart):
So why does Peter Ackerman matter when it comes to Americans Elect when it is his son, Elliot who is its COO?
Well…before gaining 501 c4 status, the finances of Americans Elect required disclosure and guess who not only fully financed Americans Elect to the tune of $1.55 million but also originally anointed himself as Director, President and Chairman of Americans Elect…yep, Peter Ackerman. Only after changing it to a 501 c4 did the current obfuscation become legal.
Peter Ackerman is nothing if not persistent. Prior to founding Americans Elect, he co-founded and co-chaired, Unity08, another alleged populist, non-partisan organization, described here by Jim Cook at Irregular Times:
New York Magazine’s John Heilemann spoke to Michael Bloomberg aide Kevin Sheekey in October and reports that the New York City mayor’s office has strong interest in using an Americans Elect presidential ballot line to run for President in 2012.
“One key factor, now as three years ago, is Bloomberg’s ability to get onto the ballot nationwide. Thus are Sheekey and others eagerly monitoring a new outfit called Americans Elect, which plans to launch early next year. Backed by a wealthy private investor, Peter Ackerman, the group says on its single-page website that it intends to hold a web-based convention to nominate a “balanced presidential ticket that will bridge the vital center of American public opinion” and place it “on the ballot in all 50 states.” Ackerman has already put $1.55 million into the project, with more to come.”
Americans Elect is in fact backed solely by Peter Ackerman’s contributions of $1.55 million in the second and 3rd quarters of 2010. Moreover, a dance between Bloomberg and Americans Elect would not be new. Americans Elect is, after all, the new incarnation of Unity08 — the two groups shared the same business address for a time. Before that, Unity08 shared its business address with the Draft Bloomberg Committee. Indeed, the founders of Unity08 registered the domain name draftmichaelbloomberg.com in June 2007, at a time when Unity08 was insisting that it had no candidates in mind, that the people would choose, and also at a time when Unity08 leaders were holding secret talks with the Bloomberg camp.
Okay…so let’s put some of these pieces together and see what the puzzle image here really is.
1. Peter Ackerman is a Wall Street exec who worked for and with Michael Milken while criminal frauds were conducted, that did severe harm to Americans and the American economy.
2. The altruistically-named International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, which Peter Ackerman founded, is accused of using CIA-type tactics to undermine foreign governments albeit through nonviolent means, to put in power the government it wants.
3. Freedom House which for which Peter Ackerman served as a board member, is described as being intertwined with the US government and the right wing establishment, acting as their propaganda tool on matters of internal politics in other countries.
4. Peter Ackerman co-founded and co-chaired Unity08 which claimed the same goals as Americans Elect but stealthily prepared itself to be a vehicle for Michael Bloomberg to run as an independent for President.
5. Peter Ackerman invested $1.55 million to start up and was originally the sole executive of Americans Elect, later installing his son in that role and obscuring his involvement. Like Unity08, Americans Elect is positioned as an ideal vehicle for someone such as Michael Bloomberg to run as an independent, only allowing a candidate who is considered to be someone of similar stature to our previous presidents, to be their candidate.
Think about it, how many potential candidates that the well meaning, regular members of this enterprise support will be of similar stature to past presidents? Stature…a threshold that only a Michael Bloomberg, Jon Huntsman, other established pols or Wall Street/corporate CEOs could satisfy. Is that what they’re advertising? Do people joining up know that the eventual candidate will be just another professional politician or a millionaire/billionaire businessman?
As may not be surprising, the bulk of those attracted to Americans Elect are more on the Progressive and Indie side. If Americans Elect was to run a candidate that appeals to such folks and would attract their votes, who would that hurt most and who would it help?
MY ADMITTEDLY SUBJECTIVE CONCLUSION:
A massively wealthy individual with a background of unprincipled greed for money and power, who has used seemingly altruistic organizations to quietly undermine existing governments and replace them with governments he would rather see in place, has created Americans Elect to do the same.
An independent run for president by a moderate of presidential stature would seem intended to undermine the more moderate major party candidate, President Obama, to the benefit of whomever the GOP was to run. The goal apparently being another 2000 result where Nader drained enough votes from Gore to allow Bush room to claim the presidency (despite, after his anointment by the SCOTUS, a recount proved Bush did lose in FL).
Americans Elect feels like a Koch-Brothers-type Tea Partying of the Left and Indies. Exploit the anger and frustration of the constituency and drive them together under a populist tent…that’s in fact owned by the wealthy…and use it to splinter the power of the majority so that the power and party of the minority, the wealthy and corporations, can continue to dominate.
What will Peter Ackerman’s income tax be on hundreds of millions of dollars under a tax cutting, corporate-loyal President Perry or President Romney, compared with a President Obama who reflects the popular sentiment of raising taxes on the wealthy? Is this Wall Street, junk bond mercenary really not interested in money and just an altruistic soul?
And who would be most powerful in shaping policy and tax laws under a Republican president as opposed to a Democratic president? Corporations and the uber-wealthy like Peter Ackerman or all those unemployed and under-employed Americans Elect voters?
Do such secretive, evasive and deceptive policies of Americans Elect truly support democracy and put it in more hands or end up accomplishing the exact opposite?
My answer to these questions is no doubt apparent. To those who feel similarly, I would urge you to link to this article elsewhere and to Irregular Times and What’s Left to get the word out on what seems to be a new wolf in sheep’s clothing in our political system. In the current atmosphere of Purist Dems and Repubs-posing-as-Dems all attacking Obama as the enemy, such a fraud could gain a startling amount of traction.
Also, here is a link to the terrific archive of Irregular Times’ articles on Americans Elect, highly recommended and very enlightening.
Personally, I am supportive of having a more open and diverse democracy and a viable third party, as well as giving voters more of a voice in the nomination process so candidates are more reflective of what people want in their representatives.
All of these would be positive things for our democracy but Americans Elect seems to me to be using democratic empowerment as sheep’s clothing, under which, this wolf licks its chops as it sneaks up on its unsuspecting prey.
The good folks at Irregular Times have uncovered that one of the Chairs of their committee that will choose their candidate is a GOP Lobbyist and a major player in ALEC, the Koch Brothers financed organization that writes legislation and uses Republican stooges in government to get it passed:
Tom Sansonetti is currently Partner at Holland and Hart LLC, a major corporate law firm, representing “business entities of all sizes, including more than 100 of the Fortune 500 companies.” Tom Sansonetti is head of Holland and Hart’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Practice. He is a major contributorto the Holland and Hart Political Action Committee.
A search of the House Lobbying Disclosure database reveals that over the last election cycle of 2009-2010, Tom Sansonetti has been active as a lobbyist for Peabody Energy Corporation, which is the largest private coal corporation in the world and a chief participant in ALEC, a consortium of corporations that writes pro-business legislation that are introduced and passed by corporate-sponsored state legislators and members of Congress.
Adlib — Americanselect has just gotten onto the 2012 Colorado ballot. I was thinking it’s a good thing if they’re right wing and will drain votes from Mitts (or whoever). They will have to really disguise their candidate as a leftie in order to drain votes from Obama. I can’t see how that would be possible. I agree it would be a refreshing change to get out of this seemingly pointless stalemate we’ve developed in this country between the two parties, but as your article here shows, these guys are seriously smelling rotten.
Don’t know if you are aware of this sight but you can look up registrants of domain names here…………….I find it sometimes a good place to start unwinding info
The original site is whois.net
Thanks, I am familiar with whois but as you can see, many people use anonymous proxy listings so that their name and fingerprints can’t be found on a site.
That’s what AE has done though we can see that the domain was registered through GoDaddy but that’s not unusual.
I’m expecting that they will be making a new PR push shortly, this was just the intro and they’ve got millions to spend on PR. When that happens, we should be prepared to revive and update this article and do our best to expose this fraud.
I always check it though. One time I actually caught a Murdoch behind a story on HP. I was shocked his name was on the domain name.
Wow, that is smart detective work, never take anything for granted! Very cool, Sue!
Oh great Adlib, now you have given me another thing to stew on lol. i have to admit I can think of some pretty wild scenarios but this one never occured to me, ashamed to say. Thanks so much for bringing this to the forefront here. I faved the page so I can go back and do some digging when I have a day to do it.
Heh, sorry about the serving of stew! These weasels do need to be exposed though.
Thanks for faving the page! Looking forward to reading what you uncover!
I will check it periodically to see what may change on the site. I noticed they are asking for donations and they hve 1.7mm signatures(supposedly)
I’ll bet dollars to donuts that 1.7M signature count is bogus.
They do want donations but it’s also part of their cover for looking like they are grass roots financed.
If it smells like slime and oozes like slime…
It is slime.
Of course in the media Aryanna is the queen wolf in sheep’s clothing. There simply is not a word that describes the kind of sensationalism and intelectual dishonest that goes on over there anymore.
It is mostly bolier plate.
I just glance at HuffPo once in a while when I think of it.
It’s difficult to recognize for those of us who see her deception and opportunism so clearly, that so many see Arianna as legit. At the same time, it is not uncommon to see comments on threads over there dissing HP and Arianna, in the subtle ways that can get past moderators.
I do think that the ultimate failure of HP at AOL will tarnish her widely, if it is indeed sold off for less than 10% of its purchase price, she will look like a fraud and failure for that reason, if not for her proving it at HP on a daily basis.
To get the word out, I posted at Daily Kos and this reply was very interesting and enlightening:
I responded wondering if maybe there’s a different demographic between those who would sign the petition and those who join at the web site.
Elliot Ackerman has been banging the drum about Dems and Indies coming on board, maybe it is just part of the propaganda but it is in the best interest of anyone who doesn’t want a new Tea Party owned by the wealthy to take them seriously and expose them for what they are.
That was a very enlightening comment.
You post on DailyKos?
Under what name, if you don’t mind me asking. (and you don’t have to answer that!)
DailyKos is not what it used to be, in my very humble opinion.
I’ve very opinionated opinions (LOL) about KOS, and would never dare to speak my mind on that site.
It’s not a liberal or progressive or even Democratic site anymore.
The only diaries that I participate in are the community diaries – BlackKos being number one for me, and the Pootie Diaries are much fun and then of course, the IGTNT diaries and Sara R and her quilts – those are the only diaries that I do there.
DailyKos has turned into an anti-Obama site, and to think that it’s supposed to be a site that’s to elect more and better Democrats.
And btw, I always promote PlanetPOV when someone asks for a pro-Obama/pro-Democratic site.
So much racism happens on KOS and it’s disgusting, while people who support Obama and call out the racism, those people are banned.
And they accuse Obama supporters – Obama-bots or the Clap Louder Crowd, and there’s even a group that calls Obama supporters Republican and/or Karl Rove Operatives or White House shills.
While if someone calls them out on their racism and/or accuses them of being Firedog Lake supporters, they get HR’d into oblivion.
I like that site though, beyond everything that I’ve just typed, because of the BlackKos and Deoliver, or Denise who was just hired as a front pager.
I grew up in a very racist atmosphere.
I really hate to admit this, but my parents were racists, too.
I hate to admit this – so was I, but not as badly.
I didn’t realize that I was racist, and I’m working on it,
I’ve learned so much from the BlackKos group on that site and unlike many who harbored racist attitudes since Obama was elected, my racist attitude has NOT increased, but lessened.
I’ve never been more aware of racism in our country or the meaning of white privilege.
I apologize if this is off-topic from your article.
But I am an older person and am growing, and proud that I do not have a closed mind, but am willing to learn and to say that I’m sorry for my past bigotry and racism.
Who knew that electing a black man as president would bring out such ugliness, but at least for me, it made me face my own failings, and admit how very wrong I’ve been.
This is a worthwhile diary to read about racism –
I only post at DailyKos occasionally and only to crosspost articles and promote The Planet.
I totally agree, DailyKos has become a swamp of hatred for Obama. Like HP, it has been invaded by the paid Repub Concern Trolls along with the righteously entitled Purists and the remaining Dems who support the Dems winning elections and having power seem to be in a minority.
However, do keep in mind that they don’t represent the majority of Dems out there, it is an extreme and disconnected minority who themselves, might as well be Republicans who share there goal of defeating Obama.
Why do so many people with great wealth do so little good for mankind? Because power corrupts or perhaps the root of all evil is money? How much money is ever enough for say the Koch brothers? You can only spend so much in a lifetime, so people decide instead of good deeds to rule the world? In my heart of hearts I honestly don’t get it.
I think you put your finger on it, Artist50. Greed is a mental illness, those who aren’t suffering from it respond with concepts that such people find absurd, such as, how much is enough money? At what point can one put aside the hunger for more and more and do something that’s not about piling up more zeros in the bank account?
Can someone with $2 billion eat a tastier meal than someone with $1 billion? Or buy a more expensive car or a bigger home or a fancier private jet?
So indeed, there is no logic or sense to it, just a mania. One day, like everyone else, they will die and their life’s devotion to acquiring more and more money will be meaningless, leaving behind them a life that was unimportant and unmemorable (in any positive way) to current and future generations. No one will name holidays or monuments after them, they wouldn’t have saved lives or brought peace (just the opposite), those who worshiped wealth in the end will have led lives that were worthless and forgettable.
Very well said AdLib love of money is indeed a mental illness. Like I wrote above you have the true sociopaths and people who are mentally deficient. Again it’s tough asses people you don’t know but I would not call W. a sociopath. He had a wicked daddy and bully complex.
Now is another story.
Sociopathy is the New Normal…in business and politics.
Can I just say again how much I love the Chenem smiley!
Tough questions until you realize people are just very intelligent animals still rooted in primitive drives add the learned behaviors of the late 20th century where greed is good and altruism is for suckers and that’s how we got where we are. Depending on which statistic you believe 1-10% of the population have stunted or no conscience. Human conscience is like any human trait that is molded from a combination of nature and nurture so like you have very empathetic people you have people with no empathy whatsoever.
Now the key is people without a conscience don’t get personal fulfillment like most people do. Where regular people care about friends, family and their fellow man, people without a conscience are only driven by their extreme narcissism. They have a hole in their souls and depending on their personal perceptions of what’s important they fill that hole with quests for money, power, sex, and even torture and murder in the case of killers. The reason they can never get enough is because their simply is no way to fill an empty soul, it’s similar to a black hole.
Of course like any generalization, I don’t mean to say all people that are rich have no conscience. Maybe even a relatively small percentage of people fit that category. Many rich people are just very talented, hard working, very intelligent, very lucky, very competitive, etc, for various normal psychological reasons. Money itself is probably the biggest corrupting influence on people in this category. But the people without a conscience who have a black hole in place of their souls are the most dangerous people in our society because they don’t even need money to corrupt them.
Of course the silver lining is if you ask these questions, you are probably like most people and can’t even fathom what life would be with without a soul. I can talk about sociopaths academically but I for one am happy I can’t really understand them on a personal level.
Wow, you really nailed it KQ! That lack of conscience and gratification these sociopaths suffer from does explain their bottomless greed.
Instead of the conversation of corporations being people, we should focus on how people are becoming like corporations, with no sense of responsibility or compassion towards their fellow Americans, only a roiling and selfish greed to serve themselves and their feelings.
Yup there is a big difference in having a corrupt soul and being corruptible. Most people are corruptible depending on what carrot you use to corrupt them. But the ones that drive there are people that are beyond redemption and nothing is ever enough to fill that immense void.
And don’t get me wrong people who have weak consciences can be outstanding members of society by using their unique abilities in productive ways. Studies will tell you many doctors like surgeons, paramedics, police, firefighters where thrill seeking or even ability to be objective about other humans can be a strange sort of advantage but for the most part they do good.
There have been a number of fascinating studies about how otherwise principled people can be manipulated to do and support unprincipled things.
As human beings, we are subject to a complex array of intellectual and emotional stimulus that can affect our behavior without our being aware of how we’re being manipulated or being self-conscious of what our actions truly say about us.
People are flawed and imperfect by nature, no one (including Obama) can fairly be attacked for making errors in judgment but he can be fairly taken to task for those judgments.
Adlib, absolutely great! This is a really good piece of work! I have been looking forward to it since you “let the cat out of the bag” last Friday night…and you didn’t disappoint! 🙂
I saw the MSNBC interview with Ackerman The Younger…just entirely too freshly washed, rosy cheeked and oh so politically correct, banging on about “engaging” the people and “hearing their voices”! It’s all clap-trap! A wolf for sure!
Thanks for a great read and some great information!
Emerald, thanks so much!
I mentioned below, it was that interview and the one with Colbert that pissed me off and revved me up to investigate and write this piece.
One of the big things that really lights my fuse is someone swooping in and deceiving the public to manipulate and use them…especially to undermine our future. Whether it’s lying about weapons of mass destruction or being a benevolent third parties, it infuriates me when the powerful and wealthy use their resources and power to fool people into fighting their wars for them.
I have a feeling we’ll need to promote this info repeatedly in the near future.
Your last sentence here is the issue…repeatedly promoting this information! Where do we go with this? How do we get it aired?
It deserves to be on the front page of the NYT or the Washington Post…but how to get it there?
Well…we could repeatedly tweet and email links to the article to those in the MSM who might be interested in this fraud.
As for others in the MSM, I’m not supremely confident that most would want to stick a pin in this balloon. It fits a scenario of conflict that works for them and helps the pro-corporate Republican nominee for President if it flourishes.
The time to knock the legs out of a scheme like this is before it grows too big, some may feel it’s not big enough to confront now but my argument is, let it get too big and it may be hard to bring down.
Busted for drunk driving! You have one phone call. I want to call the whitehouse! Too funny. I wonder if they let him make the call.
Hey KT! Glad to see you!
Police: “Who is your lawyer?”
Answer: “President Obama…can I borrow some coin for the pay phone?”
Ad, whether your subjective assessment bears out or not, I think this is the best piece that you’ve written. (my subjective assessment :-))
Looking at the tree ring of organizations, I was reminded of the housing crisis and how banks and investment groups would hide the bad mortgages inside bundles of good mortgages and sell the whole kit to another investment firm as “AAA”. Not all of the mortgages were bad, but enough of them were to render the whole mess “FFF”.
What is really creepy about this organization and others is how smoothly and effortless it is now to establish a credible-looking and sounding organization with nothing more than a P.O. Box, a wealthy benefactor, and an i.t. guy. It is now cheaper and easier than ever to throw so much mis-information into the information stream how can everyday political-casual Americans ever tell the difference? This is very troubling.
What do we do? We can only absorb and sift through so much information before becoming overwhelmed. The MSM is no help at all, and in most cases is an enabler rather than a guardian. MORE information by good people and organizations is important but sort of exacerbates the existing problem.
Thanks again for a very interesting piece.
Hey Funk, very kind of you to say and very appreciated!
Exactly, the game is to slip the arsenic into a cup of hot cocoa.
We could and maybe should do the same, it is so easy to set up a legit looking web site and claim to be whatever you want, especially if you don’t list who’s behind your “organization”.
We just need a criminally minded millionaire to back us and we can be on the talk shows promoting our new “populist” group.
Seriously, as to what we can do, we can try and promote the concept that no entity that exists primarily on the web and hides the identities of its investors and those with power over it should ever be accepted as legitimate.
A simple rule of thumb that effectively carves out the bad guys or those who would hide the information people deserve if they’re going to join a group.
Thanks so much, AdLib, for a terrific piece of investigative reporting. This article really deserves the widest circulation we can possibly give it.
I checked out AE’s website and — maybe I’m naive, and just haven’t had enough encounters with the realllllly dark side — but this strikes me as one of the most subtle, devious undercover pieces of sabotage I’ve seen. Ever. I can see how even discerning people would be sucked in by this scheme. It looks so — so — “grass rooty.” It presents as so “impartial.” Kudos to the people who smelled a rat immediately. I don’t know if I would have been that sharp, had I not been tipped off before I looked at their site.
Like KQ, I have a grudging semi-admiration for the cunning of the right. They never run out of ideas. Or energy. They’re like addicts who are completely relentless in the pursuit of their drug. Money. There’s something about it that inspires a feeling like a very negative version of awe. They never give up. And each generation of them is succeeded by a next generation that is equally dedicated to their diabolically simple goal: More For Me — Less For You. Or maybe: All For Me — None For You?
I can only hope that there are more of us than there are of them. And that we have at least an equal amount of energy.
We’re going to need it. Because they are sly little bastards.
“Cunning” that’s the word I was looking for kes. 😯
Like Baldrick from Blackadder “I have a cunning plan”.
“Cunning” is such a useful word, isn’t it, KQ? Because it doesn’t necessarily imply intelligence. E.g., Dubya was not bright but he was remarkably cunning.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are the “cells” of the Corporate Terrorist Organization that work together and ones that work independently.
However, as the chart above and Muckety.com shows, these weasels are entangled in many ways so it’s hard to know what is an independent campaign and which is a coordinated effort with the other cells.
I would say “relentless” and “mercenary” more describes how I see them.
This approach is not terribly original, there have been concern trolls, Operation Chaos and the Tea Party to copy from, the concept of setting up a Trojan Horse is not new at all. If this was so brilliant, how are so many catching on to it on their own?
My proposition is that they’re not that clever. It seems quite flawed to think you can start up a bogus grass roots group for liberals then refuse to say who’s financing it and running it.
And I do credit Progressives with being able to undermine such hoaxes because they’re premised on people being ignorant and followers and the more independently minded nature of Progressives means there will always be a good amount who can call out when the emperor has no clothes.
As always, you have an attitude of hope, AdLib, and I’m glad of it. It’s essential. Without that, we’re beaten before we start.
Have to hand it to the evil genius who actually managed to spin “Non-Violent” into a sinister adjective. They might as well have called it “The Foundation to Encourage Non-Violent Conflict, in the Interest of Disrupting Government in General.” Be a bit more straight forward about their ends!
Wasn’t “non-violent” undermining of a government what the McCarthy communist witch hunt in the 50’s was all about? How evil communists send and recruit others to sabotage our government?
Guess it’s just like waterboarding. The Japanese did it in WW II and we had them prosecuted for war crimes. The RW does it under Bush and they get books published and reverent network interviews, offering no apologies.
In the end, these guys lose and are seen for the villains they are by most people but that doesn’t stop them from being as nasty as they are.
Hi kes! I certainly am as naive as a lot of people and I can claim no special insight, but I smelled something rotten on this one from the start! The political scheming that the rethugs have been doing has me on edge! I don’t trust anyone anymore! We have all these high-sounding names of organizations like “Americans for Prosperity” that we all know are nothing but corporate shills who will stop at nothing to defeat the President, no matter how LOW they have to go!
I think the American people don’t like subterfuge, no matter how “cunning” it may be. It is a turn-off to lots of people. It’s going to be hard enough for the President to win this next election. The last thing we need is this bunch of “sly little bastards”!
Great post, AdLib! This is just so much crap. And when you look at what bloviators like Freidman–who in my opinion is a lazy, burping phony–say they’s like to see in a President, they’d be shocked to find out that Obama has already done or proposed. So it’s both a phony premise and as well as being either lazy or lying.
Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly did a good job of shredding Friedman’s stupidity today:
I’ve come to this conclusion: If Barack Obama wasn’t already our President, everyone from Center-Right to the Left would be clamoring to draft him. He’d be the media darling and his name on everyone’s lips. I sincerely believe that.
Thanks Cher! I fully agree with you. Just like the GOP drools over new Repubs getting into the Presidential race…then once they’re in, they want someone else.
Agreed, Adlib! They first find out what dingbats these people are, realize that they cannot win the general election, then clamor for anyone else! Pitiful! 🙂
So, basically, it’s one of those situations where it’s a good idea but you can’t possibly trust the person supporting it?
I wonder how many steps it takes to get from Peter Ackerman to Kevin Bacon?
Yep, just like Republicans saying they want Medicare and SS to be there for future generations.
Kevin Bacon wouldn’t TOUCH Akerman, so – not even six degrees of separation. A universe.
1) Who was it who first said this reminded them of Unity08? *ahem*
I couldn’t have fathomed how my initial gut connection would be so correct. Apparently they were more strikingly similar than I had thought!
2) Like Unity08 via Sam Waterston, always dropping Bloomberg’s name, has anyone seen Elliot Ackerman on FOX? I don’t make a habit of watching much, so perhaps he has. But I have seen him on Colbert, PBS, and MSNBC.
What do all those outlets have in common?
This stunk to high heaven on first sniff. I’m glad we’ve got those sniffing for the truffles though.
Also, Elliot totally looks like corrupt banker’s son.
Props indeed to you Khirad, you are often ahead of the curve!
I felt that too, Elliot comes off like a tentative con artist, not experienced enough at conning people so cautious that he may be tripped up but trying as confidently as he can to spout the propaganda.
As I said in the article, it’s like Sergeant Raymond Shaw from “The Manchurian Candidate” being put up by his father as a puppet to do his bidding.
Phenomenal post Adlib. Way to put together all the pieces.
Thanks KQ! We traded some comments on AE last week but it continued to gnaw at me. Then I saw Elliot Ackerman on MSNBC and Colbert, neither asking him ANY questions about the lies he was tossing out so I thought a more comprehensive article was needed to help get the word out.
I don’t think they can be casually dismissed, there are people with hundreds of millions, possibly billions behind it (especially if Bloomberg becomes their candidate).
We need to expose this sham for what it is now, while it’s still in its infancy, before it has the chance to grow up and become a monster.
Ya gotta admit at developing and executing strategies conservatives are far better than liberals generally speaking when it comes to finding ways to fool people and maintaining power.
It’s easy to lie when you don’t have morality or conscience holding you back.
As I described at the opening, this con job is not sophisticated at all, the typical BS we see all the time on the right, from all the GOP candidates, Boehner and Cantor, set up a plan to steal money or power from the majority and call it “beneficial”.
That’s what they did with the Ryan plan to kill Medicare, “No, we’re strengthening it for future generations!”.
Simply applying Orwellian descriptions onto evil pursuits doesn’t take any brilliance.
What they do have is the will and the millions and the MSM to propagandize widely. They have the money to spend beforehand on focus groups and marketing development to figure out which propaganda is most convincing.
But I don’t find the Right smarter, the Left generally just doesn’t pursue weaving lies to deceive the public so that’s why we see the Right doing it and getting away with it in many cases which may seem like they’re more effective when in fact they are usually the only one competing as con men.
I get what your saying and that is a big part of it. But it’s also about forming, coalescing around and instituting a plan. I’m not saying the left is not smart, it’s just with the experience the right has in management is a plus for them while more Dems come from other fields like the legal profession.
And believe me this management prowess does not translate to managing government better than Dems. This is mostly due to the fact that Republicans hate government and are intent on making it run poorly.
Any ties you can find between Ackerman and that weird billionaire Nicolas Berggruen and his “Think Long Committee” for “reform” that includes (oh, gag me) Condi Rice and George Schultz? Can’t think, just on the face of it all, that they are the tiniest bit progressive…
Outstanding post, AdLib! I’m horrified at how easily these corporatists move into positions of potential harm to our electoral system. Thank you for doing the hard research on this and I have been forewarned.
Thanks Greta and great to see you!
It does give one pause. Right now, AE is relatively unknown which is why I think it’s important to spread the word about them now. Of course my concern, based on the warm MSM reception they’ve been given, is that they may start to become more visible and grow like the Tea Party with frustrated Dems and Indies being deceived into jumping on board.
At one time the Tea Party was simply disregarded as irrelevant, now we look at what they’ve done to our government and economy. We don’t want another faux grass roots group gaining power on the left and center.