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The Hightower Report

Fumbling Lawsuits; and Snorting Koch in Wisconsin

By Jim Hightower, Fri., March 11, 2011

Fumbling With Lawsuits

Dan Snyder is stamping his tiny little feet and having a screaming tantrum!

That's unpleasant to witness when a 3-year-old does it, but it's truly troubling to see a 45-year-old billionaire owner of a pro football team throw a public hissy fit. Snyder owns the once-great-but-now-terrible Washington Redskins, whose on-field ineptness during his 10-year tenure has made long-suffering fans almost insanely mad.

However, the owner's tantrum is not directed at his players or coaches, but at a local newsweekly, the Washington City Paper. It dared to publish a long piece deriding Snyder as the source of the team's misery.

What insouciance, he shrieked, as he summoned his legal team to go after the small paper. The lawyers' first tactic was raw intimidation: "Mr. Snyder has more than sufficient means to protect his reputation," the lawyers snarled at City Paper's owners, crudely implying that if they didn't give in to Mr. Redskin, he would bury them in legal costs.

But City Paper didn't fall for such smack talk, so Snyder pushed ahead, suing for $2 million in general damages. But his libel suit turns out to be compromised by the fact that the article in question is ... well, factual.

This reality led the billionaire to try a trick play, claiming that the article was an offensive, anti-Semitic diatribe against him – an assertion that an independent journalistic observer calls "almost unbearably stupid." After all, Snyder's team is called the "Redskins," a slur that Snyder insists "is not meant to be offensive whatsoever."

Overprivileged corporate crybabies like Snyder are giving hypocrisy a bad name. They denounce "lawsuit abuse" by anyone who dares to sue them, even as they deploy their legal departments to intimidate anyone who crosses them.

Snorting Koch in Wisconsin

Scott Walker is a Kochhead – one of several superambitious right-wing politicos who can't get enough of the laissez-fairyland hallucinogens being pushed all across the land by the secretive billionaire Koch brothers.

As the GOP's gubernatorial candidate in Wisconsin last year, Walker took $43,000 in campaign cash from the Koch brothers' corporate PAC, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars of support from a Koch-funded political front group. Now in office, it's clear that the Guv has also snorted several bags of the Kochs' 100% pure anti-worker, corporate mindset, for he's pushing maniacally to take away the right of Wisconsin public employee unions to bargain with government bosses like him. Rather than allow collective bargaining, Walker would reduce the middle-class workers to "collective begging" – a position of subservience that is the Kochian ideal.

What the governor didn't anticipate, however, was a jolting side effect of Koch fairy dust: a widespread public revulsion to his actions. Tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other workers – plus school kids and other supporters – have filled Wisconsin's Capitol building in an unrelenting protest. And, while Walker claims he's only doing what the people want, a 61% majority of Americans say they don't want what he's doing.

But there's no use trying to talk reality to a delirious Kochhead. With his capitol in turmoil, the governor blissfully said, "I hope I'm an inspiration" to others trying to eliminate workers' rights.

Before you faint in awe of this guy's saintliness, note another little provision he very quietly buried in Section 44 of his anti-worker bill. It allows the governor, with no oversight, to sell Wisconsin's publicly owned power plants on a no-bid basis to private corporations. Guess who's in the energy business and could profit enormously from this giveaway? The Koch brothers.

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