By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
“Thanks for the free booze” was the cry from the audience, as members of Occupy Wall Street were given the “Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award” on Monday night at the “Take Back the American Dream” conference. Several “occupiers” made it clear they were happy to be recognized at the Awards Gala Dinner, but it was unclear how they got into the event, since most tickets were $225 each. Once in and seated, however, they had the choice of red or white wine and apparently imbibed.
Paul Wellstone is the former liberal Democratic Senator from Minnesota who was killed in a plane crash that some progressives suspect was an assassination engineered by right-wingers or the CIA.
It didn’t seem to occur to the progressives at the fancy dinner that they were living like the one percent while honoring the 99 percent. I have already written about how they attacked Wall Street but ignored liberals and Democrats like George Soros and Jon Corzine who engage in questionable financial shenanigans.
The conference featured denunciations of Republican strategist Karl Rove for his involvement in a Super PAC targeting Obama for defeat. But the liberals have their own Super PAC associated with the telephone service company CREDO that is designed to “Take down the Tea Party Ten.” Becky Bond, President of CREDO Super PAC, gave a seminar on how to defeat conservative members of Congress by labeling them as racist, crazy, corrupt, or anti-woman.
Jarvis Tyner and Joelle Fishman of the Communist Party were officially registered for the event and participated in various sessions as members of the audience. Tyner introduced himself during one session as being from the CPUSA and warned his fellow progressives against the dangers of racism and anti-communism. He was followed by another member of the audience saying it was time for progressives to openly declare that capitalism had to go.
A progressive from Vermont suggested a Google search of the name “Mitt Romney” with the word “psychopath” in order to discover the truth about the presumed Republican presidential nominee.
Despite all of this, conservatives and Republicans are the ones who get labeled as politically extreme by the major media.
Josh Lederman of the Associated Press wanted to interview me at the conference, but balked when I said I was a critic and that the hypocrisy of the expensive gala awards dinner was shocking. He ended up producing a predictable piece quoting activists at the conference as urging Obama to hit Wall Street harder but ignoring my observations about the liberal elites running the fancy show.
The award to Occupy Wall Street was given by Barbara Ehrenreich, one of the honorary chairs of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), who apparently expected someone from the “movement” to come forward and accept the award. Instead, members of Occupy broke out into chants from the audience, with “Thanks for the Free Booze” being the loudest.
Entertainment at the dinner was provided by comedian Baratunde Thurston, who joked that anybody who didn’t buy his book, How to be Black, was a racist, and that a special “poverty issue” of the liberal magazine The American Prospect was too expensive at $5 a copy. He was right about that one.
Accepting the “America’s future Lifetime Leadership Award,” Jesse Jackson tried to make news by urging progressives to join his nationwide protest against gun shops. Earlier, Jackson posed for a photo with this writer, clearly unaware who I was. I didn’t have the opportunity to question him about his former aide Tommy Bennett charging him with sexual harassment and discrimination.
Bennett attorney Thomas Leverso informs me that Bennett, who is gay, “has officially moved to default both Defendant Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Defendant Jesse Jackson, Sr. for their ongoing failure(s) to appear or answer in this lawsuit. After following all applicable procedure, Mr. Bennett will, as a part of this process, present proof against Rainbow PUSH and Rev. Jackson. Mr. Bennett will continue to work with any administrative agencies likewise seeking to investigate these matters. Both Mr. Bennett and I agree that no one in the State of Illinois or the United States of America can indefinitely evade the long arm of the law.”
A “default” is a penalty for not showing up to Court. The case number for the lawsuit is 2011-L-009756 in the Circuit Court of Cook County:
Leverso says that Bennett filed his formal affidavit on June 7, 2012, essentially saying under oath that the allegations are 100 percent true.
Jackson was introduced at the conference by Jim Hightower, whose liberal radio talk show failed for lack of listeners. Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation magazine received the “America’s Future Progressive Champion Award.”
Some conservative media attention has been focused on another speech at the conference, a rather bizarre presentation by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. Predictably, as a black liberal, she described America as a racist nation. But this Tulane University professor went on to describe America’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a search for a new “racial enemy” and the “imagined other,” as if Islamic terrorism did not exist.
The Patriot Act, designed to help law enforcement find terrorists, was a bipartisan response to “our fear,” resulting in a reduction of our civil liberties, she added. She acted like the victims of 9/11 didn’t exist.
Melissa Harris-Perry and Van Jones
She said Democrats were too moderate, even lamenting that in 2004 the party had offered up a “soldier” from the “war machine” named John Kerry as its presidential nominee. She reminded the audience that Kerry had accepted the Democratic presidential nomination by saying, “Reporting for duty,” a reference to his status as a Vietnam War veteran. This irked Harris-Perry and she said so.
Some of MSNBC’s other liberal hosts were visible, as Chris Hayes interviewed Paul Krugman of The New York Times during a special conference session and Alex Wagner hosted a “Taking on Wall Street” panel. These were major events at the three-day conference, which ended on Wednesday afternoon.
It was clear that MSNBC is the network of choice among progressives.
The Women’s Media Center (WMC) had a booth, but its most notable personalities, Fox News contributors Jehmu Greene and Sally Kohn, were not on the conference agenda and were not seen attending any of the events. The WMC was co-founded by Jane Fonda.
Former Obama Green Jobs Czar Van Jones followed Harris-Perry to the podium and almost sounded like a moderate in comparison. Attempting to explain Scott Walker’s survival of a recall election in Wisconsin, he said, “We put our minimum against their maximum” and promised to take on the political right’s “squadron of billionaires.” He didn’t mention how his political organizations such as the Ella Baker Center and Green for All have been funded by billionaire George Soros, the money bags for the progressive movement these days.
“We’re not going to lie down and let the Tea Party run America,” Jones thundered. “We’re going to fight.”
“They let me in the White House for about six months,” he said, alluding to his appointment and then firing, when his communist background was exposed. “I took some notes,” he added, as if he acquired some inside information about how Washington works.
Eliseo Medina of SEIU
A former “Cop Watch” operative who once taught progressives how to be on the lookout for police brutality, he told the Campaign for America’s Future conference that he always believed that police and other public employees were to be respected, “not punching bags” in a political contest over their wages, rights and benefits.
He said progressives have to continue as a “bottom-up movement,” putting pressure on President Obama to implement the correct policies. He praised Obama’s veto of the Keystone Pipeline project, saying that bringing Canadian oil to the U.S. constituted a “dirty needle” into America. He hailed the thousands of environmentalists who had engaged in civil disobedience against the project, even being arrested outside the White House. He said this was the key to forcing Obama’s hand.
Jones and other speakers took note of reports of a lame duck session after the November 6 presidential election, when a budget battle is expected to take place. He said it is important to let the Bush tax cuts expire and protect important federal spending programs, such as student loans.
He urged Obama to promise to veto any extension of the Bush tax cuts.
Another theme of the conference, as I previously reported, was forcing Obama to circumvent Congress and extend mortgage relief to millions of homeowners who would then vote for him.
Another DSA honorary chair, Eliseo Medina, gave a speech describing how his Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is spending $4 million in various swing states on advertising to get Hispanics to the polls to vote for Obama. The SEIU is firmly under socialist control, as a report by researcher Trevor Loudon demonstrates. He cites a story in the CPUSA’s People’s World which hails the SEIU effort, being launched in conjunction with another pro-Obama Super PAC, Priorities USA.
The CPUSA publication says the joint ad buy is the latest evidence that progressive groups “are uniting in coalitions to fight back on behalf of Obama and their causes.”
The progressives, of course, have their own billionaires, including George Soros, the hedge fund operator, and Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft. Melissa Bradley of Tides spoke to me about the billions being spent by Soros and Gates and how the Soros children are following in their father’s footsteps. It is all being done for the purpose of “social good,” she told me with a smile.
It is estimated by Soros himself that he has spent over $8 billion on various causes, including $500,000 for the Institute for America’s Future, an affiliate of the group sponsoring this conference. This helps explain why veteran Soros operative Tracy Van Slyke was willing to attack Wall Street at one of the panel discussions but didn’t want to talk to me about investigating Soros or Obama fundraiser Jon Corzine.
With the major media playing along with this charade, the progressives must be seen as having the edge as they move forward to demonize conservatives and re-elect Obama.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].