Political Philanthropy Feed

Naomi Klein: Wall St. Crisis Should Be for Neoliberalism What Fall of Berlin Wall Was for Communism

Naomi Klein at Democracy Now,

So, what I want to argue here is that, among other things, the economic chaos that we’re seeing right now on Wall Street and on Main Street and in Washington stems from many factors, of course, but among them are the ideas of Milton Friedman and many of his colleagues and students from this school. Ideas have consequences. More than that, what we are seeing with the crash on Wall Street, I believe, should be for Friedmanism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for authoritarian communism: an indictment of ideology.

Naomi goes on to ask that if ideas have consequences, and the consequences of Friedmanism have been disastrous, what will the Friedmanite think tanks, like Cato and Heritage, do now? Will they solicit fresh funds from their contributors to rebrand the failed ideology? Or, will the fall of the markets make their fund-raising more difficult? I still believe that Think Tanks offer Fat Cats the best return on their philanthropic dollar: Privatize Social Security and bring Lehman and Merrill back to manage it all!

The Clarion Call to Hatred - How Better to Mobilize the Ignorant?

Talk to Action:

On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail -- were distributed by mail in Ohio, a "chemical irritant" was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers.

This polarizing video is distributed by The Clarion Fund, a 501(c)3 with a low profile.

The Role of Philanthropy in a Security State

Headinsand The comment on an earlier post by my old nemisis, Captain Blowtorch, raises certain life and death issues for philanthropists. May I expound upon them? (Hop in and be so kind as to pull the lid closed on the dumpster. Not all messages are for all ears. This is strictly need to know. You never know these days who is listening or for what purpose or how what you say may be used against you in a court of law, or in some dark alley for that matter.)

The world we have is all screwed up. The world we want is very different. But the world we have is owned and operated by people with money and power who will defend their own interests by fair means and foul, up to and including rewriting our Constitution, torturing people, and having them assassinated. We all know this, right? And that is why we are silent about it? We know it, but we know not to talk about it? We know it is now to late to resist? There is no alternative?

Anyway, let's say that we are in fact still committed to the world we want, a world characterized by the rule of law, openness, transparency, freedom, economic opportunity, and justice for all. How, then do we work towards that world when it is anathema to those who profit from being above or outside the rule of law, and who benefit from operating by force and guile in secret and with impunity, while hurling down edicts, propaganda, laws and and swat teams on those who want nothing more than to have America's promise restored through loving and peaceful means?

What action items come to mind for the good people in this country to take our country back against the forces of darkness, including but not limited to Captain Blowtorch, and his compatriots in Wealth Bondage, a front some say, for the CIA? How about these steps?

  • "Many pieces loosely joined," or a network for a loving and peaceful version of  "net war."
  • Not secrecy, but brazen openness - loving kindness expressed openly in thought, word, and deed.
  • Awards and prizes and honors for whistle-blowers, truth tellers and dissidents
  • Think tanks with real thinkers in them
  • Political organizing outside the party system by all citizens to retore our Constitution
  • Media specializing in investigative journalism
  • A database of dissidents and whistle-blowers to track their mortality and morbidity against societal averages. The longitudinal data to serve as a starting point for further investigations if the population of dissidents and truth tellers proves more than normally susceptible to accident, disease or suicide.
  • Scholarship programs for budding young satirists
  • Investment programs that bypass Wall Street and put money to work on Main Street
  • Advisors who work with high capacity clients to determine how much capital the client can put to work for social good in imaginative ways, hedged against potential counter-measures.
  • Broad-based communications networks to activate citizens who are slowly waking up the the new realities of life in a security state.
  • Civic dialogues, formal and informal, online and off, to make us more at ease in discussing such things as dirty tricks, wet work, death squads, suicide teams, torture, lies in high places,  and how to turn that around to love, justice, and peace.
  • Artists, dramatists, novelists, singers, to help us form a shared consciousness, living in truth.
  • Philosophers, historians, critics, sociologists, and critical theorists to teach us how the weapons of the weak have been used in ages past to keep hope alive under oppression.

Now, look, let me make myself clear. I am not declaring war on Wealth Bondage, not even a covert or cold war. That would be suicide. I am as dependent upon the forces of Wealth Bondage as anyone else. I am deeply implicated in the status quo. Every dollar I have invested, every dollar I make, circulates around inside one or another institution of Wealth Bondage, or goes in taxes to Wealth Bondage projects, or piddles about in various Wealth Bondage philanthropies.  If Wealth Bondage goes down, so does my pension, my mutual funds, everything I have, as little as that might be. My clients are mostly Wealth Bondage bigshots. My generous patron is the CEO of Wealth Bondage; she who rules us all. I do not in any way want to jeopardize what little I have, and the little credibility I have earned by being a Faithful Servant and Trusted Advisor to Wealth Bondage Private Banking Clients. I have always been loyal to Wealth Bondage.  I buy into the concept. I have drunk the Koolaid. I am on board.  I pledge allegiance to Wealth Bondage.  I have no desire to become a lightning rod for whatever Wealth Bondage does to retain its control if challenged. Those people are morally insane. They will stop at nothing here or abroad. They creep me out. So, don't get me wrong. I am a happy camper. I am really just thinking that promoting civic philanthropy might be a good double bottom line social investment opportunity, catering to the needs of those wealth holders in Wealth Bondage who prefer democracy, or a more credible simulation of it.  The pro-democracy movement is a niche, a small one, but maybe profitable? High risk for high return? A piece at least of a prudent philanthropic social venture portfolio, if only as a hedge against the possibility that democracy and the rule of law might one day be restored, and the malefactors brought to justice? Surely, in Wealth Bondage there is room for a brand of philanthropy catering to a taste for even a niche product like democracy? It wouldn't change anything, it would keep trouble-makers occupied, and it would be good for business?

I am going to pitch Candidia, and see what she says. With any luck she will be my first investor.

(Tag, Catherine, you are it.)

Operation Endgame - The Philanthropic Connection

"The sovereign is he who decides the state of exception..." - Carl Schmitt

"Do not hang a gun on the wall in Act I, unless you plan to use it by Act III." - Anton Chekhov


Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of "an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."

Perhaps related is the return to respectability of Carl Schmitt's work: contemptuous of liberal democracy, supportive of the concentration of power in a single strong leader, the demonization of enemies, and the waging of eternal war to keep the Homeland cohesive. Interesting too is who funded the Schmitt revival. From Dick Cheney's Eminence Grise, by Barbara Boyd:

In the 1980s and 1990s Schmitt became a staple on reading lists of U.S. colleges and universities in political science and philosophy, a revival which produced English translations of most of Schmitt's works, and reams of "scholarly" articles, conferences, and presentations. Funding for this project centered in the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and other neo-conservative foundations. Michael Joyce, who chaired the Bradley Foundation during this period, is a Straussian who started his career with Irving Kristol and the Institute for Educational Affairs—the same Foundation that provided seed funding for the Federalist Society. The English translations of both Meier books on Schmitt were published by the University of Chicago Press under grants from the Bradley Foundation, facilitated by Hillel Fradkin. Fradkin, a Straussian, taught on the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, was vice president of the Bradley Foundation from 1988-1998, a program officer at the Olin Foundation, heads a Straussian think tank in Israel called the Shalem Center, and recently replaced Iran-Contra's Elliot Abrams as the head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

William Schambra of Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal moves in these circles. He also has excellent academic credentials (MA and PhD) in political science. And he has experience in practical politics. I wonder how he might relate the work of Carl Schmitt, conservative philanthropy via Olin and Bradley, the erosion of civil liberties, and the renewal of grassroots civil society in a time of terror.

Blackwater, Philanthropy and Dynastic Wealth Planning

Apparently the founder and sole owner of  Blackwater Worldwide, Eric Prince, is a generous man:

Prince serves as vice president of the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation. Salon reports that "between July 2003 and July 2006, the foundation gave at least $670,000 to the Family Research Council and $531,000 to Focus on the Family"[15] headed by James Dobson. The foundation is also a major donor to Calvin College[16], a conservative Christian institution in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Prince also serves as a board member of Christian Freedom International, a non-profit group with a mission of helping "Christians who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ."

Since 1998, Prince has personally donated over $200,000 to Republican causes.[17][18][19]Prince is a donor, along with beverage company Bolthouse Farms through the Bolthouse foundation, to the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian legal group.[20] Prince had also contributed money to the Green Party of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, though this has been interpreted as an unsuccessful attempt to help Republican candidate Rick Santorum in his race against Democratic challenger Bob Casey.[21]

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has characterized Prince as one of George W. Bush's "political cronies."[22] Prince has denied using family clout to obtain contracts for Blackwater.[23]

The chair of Mitt Romney's  Counter-Terrorism Advisory Council, by the way, is Cofer Black, a former director of the CIA's counter-terrorism center,  now Vice Chairman of Blackwater.   I wonder if any of the players here could use a good Morals Tutor? Probably not, but I could certainly help them pass on their values along with their valuables or to maintain their Family Dynasties for 100 Years or more. Philanthropy helps keep a family at the top of the heap; political power is better; but a private army is the best thing, really.

Who Runs the Asylum?

An asylum run by madmen whose mission is to goad the sane to suicidal destruction - is that not a Think Tank, for example, Freedom Watch? You can imagine the process by which the "physicians" in such an institution are hired, compensated, and managed. You can imagine who funds it.  But only the morally insane can empathize.  And without empathy can we really "understand"? Perhaps our inability to understand is the advantage the madmen have.

Giving Thanks for a Presidential Pardon

ABC News:

Three recipients of controversial 11th-hour pardons issued by former President Bill Clinton in January 2001 have donated thousands of dollars to the presidential campaign of his wife, Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., according to campaign finance records examined by ABC News, in what some good government groups said created an appearance of impropriety.

I am sure Conrad Black would appreciate a pardon.  As a gentleman I am sure he would not forget those who remember him in the hour of his need.  I wish I had the power to pardon people. I could quit my day job and promote giving full time.  I wonder what an etiquette expert would say about the proper amount to tip a President or his wife for a pardon?

Post-Mortem America and the Hard Way Ahead

 Criminal means once tolerated are soon preferred, Edmund Burke, from Reflections on the Revolution in France

Chris Floyd on how democracy died in America while we were discussing giving, or the Super Bowl, or whatever it was that preoccupied us as consumers and citizens over these years since 9/11. The hard way ahead will have few philanthropists, I am afraid, but many givers. Those who create a new currency of conversation and show us how to live in truth without paying a high price for it will be the most valuable.  I have no idea what I am talking about and would suggest that you have no idea either.  By way of bibliography you might find these helpful.

To this list I might append the life and works of Paul deMan.  My fellow citizens, we are all collaborators now. In the spirit of the liberal arts, the arts of liberty, let us collaborate for the world we want.   

Experts at Hudson - What is Their Role?

Schambra, at Hudson Institute, on philanthropy as civic virtue:   

Scientific philanthropy considers itself to be a detached problem solver, funding experts to track down root causes. Civic renewal philanthropy considers itself to be a catalyst of civic engagement, helping to complete the Founding by cultivating democratic self-governance and the moral and civic virtues it requires. Our times demand a philanthropy that prefers citizen over expert.

Click here to "Find an Expert" at Hudson.  Bill, civic renewal philanthropy does not fund experts. Who, then, funds these experts and why?