There is a lot of talk recently about a “ConCon” or Constitutional Convention as a possible solution for a Washington that has lost its way. Just this week, David Barton and Glenn Beck joined in a call for a Convention of States. Multiple organizations, as well as radio host Mark Levin, are promoting various versions. Nancy Pelosi is enthused about changing the Constitution in her own way, for their pet cause of “campaign finance reform.” Whether or not you may decide a ConCon is a direction to go, it is imperative to trust the leadership behind the organization promoting it. Major concern exists with one very visible effort, CompactForAmerica.org
Compact for America (CFA) is promoting their brand of ConCon as a “BBA” or balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. They have a pathway to doing this that would supposedly cut the process from years to months. A critique of their proposal can be found here. However, whether you agree with their proposal or not, it is the leadership behind this particular effort that needs much closer scrutiny.
CFA is made up of three board members and an advisory council with some impressive resumes under their belts. However, some of them have previously been involved in work and associations that bring great concern about anything they would be leading, as well as their long term agenda.
To begin with, several of CFA’s board and advisory board were part of the “ConConCon” or Conference on the Constitutional Convention, held at Harvard Law School back in September, 2011. Note that many of the leaders of the various different ConCon efforts we have going now were all present at this conference, including CFA board members and advisers Lawrence Lessig, Mark McKinnon and Nick Dranias. Also attending were the leaders of the Tea Party Patriots national group, as well as representatives from the Coffee Party, Cato Institute, Cenk Uygar of “The Young Turks”, Progressive Democrats of America, Demos (Obama was a founder, Van Jones is on their Board of Trustees) and many more. The event was co-chaired by Lawrence Lessig (CFA) and Mark Meckler (Tea Party Patriots). Sounds good on the surface; people of all political persuasions getting together to fix America. But again, with who at the helm? And with what possible agenda down the road, considering their backgrounds? We’ll take a closer look at just a couple of the advisers to this effort.
Just a month after this event, in October, 2011, Lawrence Lessig of Compact For America was out conducting a “teach in” among the Occupy Wall Street crowd. His goal appeared to be to convince them that they had to work with the Tea Party to get the campaign finance reform they wanted, and he had a plan for how to do it. Campaign finance reform is clearly the key to the progressive future, as we continue to see it put forward again and again. He had also just come out with a new book, which the Atlantic suggested could be the OWS handbook:
Lawrence Lessig has an answer. In his new book, “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It“, he spends 20 pages reviewing the the 30 years of deregulation that led up to the financial crisis and outlining our present circumstances. In fact, this book, published just before Occupy Wall Street began, is perfectly positioned to become the movement’s handbook. While few protesters will need convincing that the government is corrupted by money, the book lays out the case in a such a comprehensive and persuasive manner — and proposes such specific and radical solutions — that it seems tailor-made for the Occupy movement. And it’s ambitious proposal for state-based activism on behalf of a Constitutional Convention could provide the movement with a next organizing step as it nears its two-month anniversary Thursday — and faces such questions as how to ride out the winter and how to respond to police crackdowns.
Properly presented, the strategies and aims of Lessig’s book could make it the handbook the protesters have been looking for — and provide a pathway for them to ride out the winter ahead.
Clearly, CFA adviser Lawrence Lessig has been very active in the ConCon movement for some time. Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard and a Harvard law professor, Lessig is also a Creative Commons founder (funded by Soros’ Open Society), as well as being an adviser to the Sunlight Foundation (also supported by Soros’ Open Society) and board member of the Coffee Party (progressive answer to the Tea Party.) Lawrence Lessig is reportedly a good friend of Barack Obama’s from their University of Chicago teaching days together and was a tech adviser to the Obama campaign. Lessig is also remembered for presenting a denigrating video at a few of his speaking appearances mocking Jesus, as reported by RedState.com:
It’s no secret that the Obama campaign does not want to be tied too directly to Lessig. In addition to happily showing off blasphemous images of Christ, Lessig is also known as a digital communist (read the linked article for the substance of why he’s called that) Lessig believes there should be no such thing as intellectual property rights — patents and copyrights should be tossed. Lessig’s anti-property theories give businesses and a lot of regular folks the heebie-jeebies. After all, if the government can strip you of your intellectual property, why can’t it take away your real property?
Just as importantly as advising Obama though, Lessig is an adviser to Google. And it was at a Google employee event that Lessig showed off a video of an effeminate Jesus who strips down to all but a loin cloth diaper singing “I Will Survive” until getting run over by a bus. Lessig acted bemused and surprised by the reaction of some saying, “This is a little bit touchy to some people. I don’t get it, so just chill. The underlying message here is that Jesus does survive.”
Also important to note is that Lawrence Lessig was also a board member of Americans Elect. AmericansElect was started by Peter Ackerman, one of the people credited for coming up with the “waging nonviolence” technique taught to Egyptian revolutionaries to help them with their revolution. Like many of their efforts, AmericansElect sounded like another great blending of concerned Americans from all sides of the aisle, just working together against a corrupt system to get the candidate of their choice. However, many people questioned the true agenda of AmericansElect. They never revealed their donor list. A look at their “dream candidates”, as presented by AmericansElect’s Nick Troiano, may give you further insight into the direction they’d like to go:
Steve Ballmer, Meg Whitman, Mitt Romney, Eric E. Schmidt, David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, David Boren, Erskine Bowles, Oprah Winfrey, Kenneth Chenault, Evan Bayh, Sam Nunn, Colin Powell, Bill Bradley, John Chambers, Mike Bloomberg, Antonio Villaraigosa, Tom Brokaw, Fred Smith, John Roberts, Tim Pawlenty, Bill Cohen, Condoleezza Rice, Jeb Bush, Brian L. Roberts, Jon Corzine, Barack Obama, Howard Schultz, Anderson Cooper, Lee Hamilton, Charlie Crist, Bob Kerry, Mitch Daniels, Jim Lehrer, Chris Christie, Alan Mulally, Bill Gates, Marco Rubio, Bob Graham, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, David Walker, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Jon Huntsman, Ed Whitacre, Tom Ridge, Jeffrey Immelt, Bill Richardso.
Mark McKinnon is an American political advisor. He is Global Vice-Chairman of Hill & Knowlton Strategies, an international communications consultancy, and the President of Maverick Media. He is a co-founder of No Labels and also is on the Board of Advisors of Americans Elect. McKinnon switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party after meeting then Texas Governor George W. Bush. He has worked for many causes, companies and candidates, including former President George W. Bush, 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, late former Governor Ann Richards, Congressman Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong and Bono.
On November 8, 2012, McKinnon admitted on National Public Radio that he voted for Gary Johnson in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election.
In 2013, McKinnon was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.
Some of his political moves and insights include the following:
Of the many organizations McKinnon is involved with, it is important to note that he also sits on the board of The Hamilton Project, along with others such as Google’s Eric Schmidt, Richard Gephardt and Tim Geithner. Young Senator Barack Obama spoke to this group in 2006. Keywiki defines them as:
The Hamilton Project is a think tank within a think tank . Nestled inside the Brookings Institution, the oldest and biggest Democratic Party-oriented policy research center, Hamilton has been widely identified as the intellectual power center of the Obama administration.
The founder of the Hamilton Project was Robert Rubin, Larry Summers’ former boss at Treasury.
McKinnon was recently a featured study group leader for a Harvard Institute on Politics program called “Political Disruption: Where It’s Coming From & Why We Need It.” Other study group leaders included Lawrence Lessig (again) as well as Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots and currently leading another ConCon effort. Note that these same three were instrumental in putting together the Conference for a Constitutional Convention back in fall 2011, discussed at the beginning of this piece.
In addition to all of this, McKinnon and Jon Huntsman are co-founders of the ongoing “No Labels” effort, featuring “problem solvers” such as Joaquin Castro (State Representative and brother of Julian Castro, San Antonio mayor and Obama protege.) Although No Labels is another one of their “centrist” groups that gives the impression of bringing Americans from both sides of the aisle together, looking further into it tells us something altogether different. Although denying they were a “third party” movement, this post from Ben Johnson contradicts this:
The more visible of these is No Labels, whose motto is: “Not Left. Not Right. Forward.” Despite its plea to restore “civility” and oppose extremists in both parties, No Labels seems almost exclusively focused on convincing Republicans to assent to “progressive” measures. (See below.) Fronted by former Bush advisor Mark McKinnon, Michael Bloomberg, Joe Scarborough, and others, its formal public launch will be held December 13 in New York City (of course). Its organizers protest this is “neither a third party nor a stalking horse for any presidential candidate or other candidates.” Its website insists, “No Labels is not interested in encouraging the development of a third party.”
However, in private, its leaders sing a different tune. Mark McKinnon, a longtime advisor to George W. Bush, told David Frum that he knows “some smart people working behind the scenes” working “to resolve ballot access issues and make it easier for a third party to happen.” In an October 22 speech to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, McKinnon admitted “something very exciting” was coming: “A third party in 2012.” An unsuccessful candidate who showed up at No Labels’ New Hampshire road show, Peter Angerhofer practically begged attendees to admit they were forming a minor party. “If you want to create a third party and carve out the middle, that might work,” Angerhofer offered, “but be clear about it.” The St. Louis Business Journal straightforwardly described the group as “a new third party movement.”
Johnson also notes:
The principals of No Labels met in June in Houston in the home of Marty McVey. Curiously, McVey “had dined with President Barack Obama in Washington only a few weeks prior.” McVey’s close relationship with Obama does not square with his stated desire to field a candidate to topple him.
Following the money, we find that McVey is recorded as having contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and Democratic groups.
In another piece, Doug Powers gives us a few more examples of how nonpartisan and centrist this group supposedly is:
You can’t have a “middle of the road” movement without including super-lib Debbie Stabenow. Three years ago, on the “most liberal Senators” chart, Stabenow was tied with Hillary Clinton, who is of course famous for her centrism. As for Michael Bloomberg, nothing says rational middle-of-the-roader like somebody who thinks abortion is a fundamental right and salt is murder.
“No Labels” backer and Panera Bread founder Ron Shaich just oozes “middle of the road.” He’s donated thousands of dollars to the Mass. Democratic State Committee, John Kerry for President and Barack Obama for President. That’s a centrist track record if there ever was one.
Loews’ Andrew Tisch has contributed to both parties — technically — but other than Republican Mark Kirk, for the most part Tisch has thrown support to moderates who avoid partisanship — Independent thinkers who aren’t blinded by party loyalty such as Charles Rangel, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, Jerrold Nadler and Hillary Clinton.
In 2004, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was asked to be the National Chairman of the Kerry for President campaign — a job that was of course only offered to political centrists. Kerry also endorsed Villaraigosa for LA Mayor, because he was so, you know, moderate and all.
There is much more to be found online about the No Labels effort, but just watching “Morning Joe” with No Labels backer Joe Scarborough would keep you up to date, as he has promoted the effort often.
Although there is additional information on the Compact For America board, what has been outlined here on just two of their advisers should be more than enough to cause anyone great concern. Further, it suggests that the leadership behind other ConCon efforts should also be extensively researched, no matter how well-meaning some of the people involved may be. This may be the most important time in recent history for us to be doing our homework. A hijacked ConCon could be the end of this nation as we know it.
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