Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Grassroots, Coalitions and Criminal Sleaze 

via The Invaluable Froomkin at WaPo
And where does the White House find all those agreeable, coachable people to appear on stage with Bush [at the Paid-By-Tax-Money Private Privatization Part-ehhh's]?

Warren Vieth profiles one of them in the Los Angeles Times: Leanne Abdnor.

"She is the leader of two groups that are prominent in the Social Security debate: For Our Grandchildren, and Women for a Social Security Choice. Both have advisory boards, individual donors and websites, but no rank-and-file members.

"She appeared on stage with the president three times this month, in Florida, Colorado and Arizona, dispensing facts and figures to buttress Bush's arguments. . . .

"Abdnor is a focal point for critics who say she is part of a pro-privatization coalition financed by wealthy conservatives and business interests who try to create the appearance of broad support without building genuine grass-roots constituencies."
See a lesson here? Mayhaps we need to start a similar program. Each and every one of us needs to create a group, or at least a Cool Name For A Group. Then whenever we write Letters to Editors we sign it as President of the Cool Group, Inc. Never mind that Cool Group Inc has a membership of exactly one; we can all be board members for each other just the way the forces of darkness do.

Pudetilla hits it from another angle, one which would be prosecutable if we had a Justice Department that concerned itself with prosecuting crimes rather than enabling them:
Yesterday we noted that il Ducetto's crew had forcibly removed citizens from attendance at one of his little "let's destroy social security" pep rallies. Scorpio, on his part, was outraged that citizens were being denied access to tax payer funded events on issues of national policy simply because they appeared not to share il Ducetto's opinion. Josh Marshall, citing a dKos diary's account, suggests that the Republican organizers of these events don't actually use Secret Service agents to boot citizens who have not drunk the kool-aid:

It seems the planners of these taxpayer-funded events hire rent-a-cops, dress them up to look like Secret Service agents and then have them boot people who don't seem Bush-true.

But that surely can't be true. Oh, there may be no remedy for the decision of the current administration to supress the rights of citizens to assemble and hear political debate (whether or not they agree with it), but dressing up and acting like a Secret Service agent is a felony - so there may well indeed be a remedy here. It is very much against the law to impersonate a federal officer or employee. The statute (18 U.S.C. ยง 912 (1994)) provides:

Section 912. Officer or employee of the United States

Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
(emphasis supplied)

So, someone who dresses up like a Secret Service agent, and acting like a Secret Service agent forcibly removes a person who is excercising his/her right of lawful assembly, could be looking at some serious time in the pokey. And the folks who paid the imposter to engage in the charade, as conspirators, would, we assume, face similar liability.

Of course, we can't say we're suprised that they're crooks. But maybe those who are unlawfully booted from these events should be talking to the F.B.I., and maybe all of us should be asking to see i.d. the next time a republican tries to piss on our constitutional rights.
I admire Pudentilla's idealism in hoping that the FBI still contains enough patriots in the rank and file that such an appeal would do any good. Meanwhile, don't wade in yellow puddles.

Go read both links if you've got time; Froomkin is on fire today. Telling the truth right out loud in fact. My stars and garters, as Grandma used to say.

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