The College Republicans attendance at CPAC, combine conservative logic with a gay faction of the Republican party and a surprise visit from Occupy D.C.
Written for, Me on May 1, 2012.
Boise State University College Republicans (BSUCR) attends the 39th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. on the second weekend of February 2012. The College Republicans meeting at CPAC, combined conservative logic with a gay faction of the Republican party and a surprise visit from Occupy D.C.
According to sophomore, Dominic Gelsomino, “(CPAC) signifies a call to action,” said the Idaho College Republican Chairman.
This, “call to action” is focused on reforming the Grand Old Party (GOP) back to, “the original platform of the Republican.” According to the Boise State College Republicans (BSCRs) the yearly conservative convention assembly was initiated by, a conservative “youth-activism” group founded in 1960.
At the first CPAC convention, “Grand Master Republican” Roland Regan spoke. Later assemblies (such as the one in 2012) included, Former Arkansas Gov.—Mike Huckabee, Texas Gov.—Rick Perry and Republican Sen. From South Carolina—Jim DeMint.
According to Gelsomino, todays, “Young Republican Convention” focused on; limited government which uses lower taxes and regulation to promote business growth and free market economics. Gelsomino added this campaign was prominently based around “Goldwater and Regan” economics.
Some of this year’s, “economic” speakers included, Wayne LaPierre—CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Herman Cain— from Godfather Pizza. The convention that was planned to foster young-conservative values also attracted the members of the Lesbian, Gay and Bi-Sexual political community—The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR).
According to the LCR website, the party works to build a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party by promoting the core values of limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets and a strong national defense while advocating for the freedom and equality of gay and lesbian Americans.
When asked, “If the Log Cabin Republicans had, a candidate at the convention running for presidential election?” The Idaho College Republican Chairmen responded candidly, “Yes they do, they have Fred Karger, the first openly gay presidential-candidate to run in the Republican Party.”
This year’s CPAC held the biggest gathering of young conservatives in its history. The group was also visited by a slightly less popular group-Occupy D.C. According to Gelsomino, this newly-young concentration of conservatism attracted guests what were, “escorted out of the building” by security.
The Huffington Post reports, “(CPAC) drew crowds of protesters on (Feb. 10), as members of the Occupy Wall Street movement and labor groups demonstrated against the annual confab as, “a powwow for the 1 percent.”
The D.C Occupiers attend CPAC, bringing their fight against the one percent with them. The Idaho College Republican Chairmen explained that some of the protesters broke in and chanted, “CPAC you have been “occupied” while releasing balloons and “glitter-bombs.”
The interesting thing about the protesters presence at CPAC—is that, their presence is somewhat appropriate considering the theory of some republican authors mentioned by Gelsomino, mainly Goldwater.
Goldwater is very consistent conservative writer ran against Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 Republican Primary. His book, “The Conscience of a Conservative” expresses some of the most core Republican values: small government, freedom and locally controlled politics. Within—Goldwaters philosophy—in the context of labor unions and corporations—is that piles of money designed to make more money should not have the right to dominate politics, exactly what some of D.C. protesters are trying to prove.
“I see no reason for labor unions—and corporations—to participate in politics. Both their activities should be restricted accordingly,” Goldwater, page 55.
The protesters presence at CPAC means that there is some validity in a connection between the GOP and the Occupy Together (including Occupy D.C.) movement. At some point in time, one conservative political philosopher—Goldwater –spoke very loudly against lobbying and so did the protesters at CPAC.
In the end the protesters where, “boo-ed” out of the convention by a unified, “Go get a job” cheer on behalf of young conservatives everywhere, College Republican, Gelsomino said.
For more information about CPAC and the conservative party, visit their website.
-Thank you for reading, Bryce Dunham-Zemberi
Corporate interests influence two extremes of energy subsidies.
Written for The Arbiter.
Democratic and Republican parties try to fund energy companies through government subsidies, representing how corporate interests can dominate the entire legislative cultural. Subsidies range from leasing The Continental Shelf and oil companies to the extension of tax credit and renewable energy corporations.
One example of this is, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) receiving $10,000 from ExxonMobile and later introduced a yet-to-be-passed bill—The Offshore Production Safety Act of 2011 (S.953). McConnell’s circumstances not only reflect the tendencies of big oil and the Republican party but also reflects our legislative system as whole. Both Democratic and Republican parties are financed by multinational corporations.
In the words of Dr. Cornel West, it’s as if the best and brightest citizens boycott elected public office while the most ambitious go into the private sector. Energy companies are filled with lobbyists, who solely operate for corporate profit.
Within the science of business, a bi-monthly meeting with legislators like McConnell and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is well worth the investment. This access influences offshore drilling and government contracts/tax incentives. The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act, introduced by Menendez, is trying to move traditional oil subsidiaries and tax breaks to companies who emphasize renewable energy.
The bill (S.2204) reads, “striking ($2.3 billion) and inserting ($4.6 billion),” for expanding qualifying credit to advanced energy projects.
Menendez is also financed by several renewable energy companies. These tax breaks are more for green energy than for oil companies.
The strength of lobbying is shown by ideologically opposing energy company’s having an influence on legislation. The actions of ExxonMobile are similar to the actions of EverPower.
These corporations are funding two extremes of the spectrum, leaving the average American at a loss when it comes to cheaper gas. If the goal of these subsidies and tax breaks are to make the cost of gasoline cheaper for the average American, then Congress should consider investing energy subsidies into individual taxpayers, not corporations.
Whereas current subsidies and tax breaks are recycled into more subsidies and tax breaks.
-Thanks for reading, Bryce Dunham-Zemberi
Young, ambitious politician: Boise State student has hopes to give a voice to students and university in the Statehouse
Written for The Arbiter.
Gus Voss, a senior political science major, is running for the Idaho House of Representatives, seat 17A, in the 2012 election.
Voss feels he has a moral duty to fix the legislature.
“Given our current political climate, I feel it is my ethical duty to run for office,” Voss said. “I feel that constituents of district 17 deserve a lot more than that, especially since we are much more intelligent than the candidates of district 17 are willing to demonstrate.”
Voss is a Boise native and said he was largely influenced by his father and grandparents who, “taught me a hard work ethic and a strong sense of morality.”
He said he believes this work ethic helped him through a variety of occupations. Voss has worked several customer service jobs such as the Boise Co-Op as stock-boy and the Owyhee Plaza Hotel as a banquet server during his four years at Boise State.
According to Voss, these occupations helped him develop a stronger character.
While studying politics, he worked for three student-run organizations, including the Poverty Issues coordinator on the Volunteer Services Board, and he is currently the ASBSU ethics officer.
He also started a nonpartisan political group, Democracy Matters (DM).
“I have been involved in political organizing for the last two years with Democracy Matters, which is dedicated toward getting the money out of politics and people back in,” Voss said.
Prior to college, he did volunteer work for the Obama
“I was a co-chair of the Timberline High School Students for Obama,”
According to Voss, his views have shifted from a partisan Obama supporter to a people-only party line.
“Part of the reason I am running is because I think people are the only sources the government should look to,” Voss said.
He also believes corporations, unions and political action committees should not be involved in politics.
“Government should not look to business. We should look to people. We shouldn’t look to party lines, we should (look) to people, not political action committees, corporations or even the ACLU and unions for advice,”
If elected, Voss plans on being a politician who works to solve differences between opposing parties.
“I want to go into the community and ask what they want and then figure out the way to get over the minor differences and try to implement it,” Voss said.
Voss wants to represent the Boise State community in the Idaho legislature.
“I also think that BSU students need a representative who will fight really hard for equitable funding. That is something that I have not seen (current seat holder) Bill Killen do much of,” Voss said.
Because Boise State is a major asset to district 17, Voss said he wants to see more student-representative interaction.
“I would like to see more public forums at BSU. I would like to communicate with my constituents on a face-to-face basis,”
According to Voss, representatives publicly interacting with their constituents is the most authentic form of representation.
“I am less interested in pushing my own personal objectives,” Voss said.
Voss said he does not have any ulterior motives in the House of Representatives other than supporting the needs of his voters, which in this case, are Boise State students.
For more information about Voss and his campaign visit his Facebook page Facebook.comVoss/4house.
-Thanks for reading, Bryce Dunham-Zemberi
ExxonMobile’s legislative impact on congress results in oil favorable legislation.
Written for The Arbiter.
The problem with money’s influence in politics should be a national concern. Our constitution was established to avoid one concern, non-democratic power. Today’s quasi-democratic system leaves representatives with the power to direct the national agenda in favor of the largest contributor. Our system allows representatives to receive donations under the assumption that strings are not attached. To understand this problem, one must understand lobbying’s impact on each constituent’s life.
According to Clyde Wilcox, profosser of goverment at Georgetown University and co-author of “Interests Groups in American Campaigns,” interest groups work within the limits of the law to represent specific causes such as oil drilling and union rights.
“Interest groups’ strategies and tactics depend on two sets of factors: on the one hand, the legal regulations and common practices that govern electoral activity, and on the other, the goals and resources of the group,” Wilcox said.
The most important regulatory decision for special interests groups is the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision.
This decision does not allow corporations or unions to donate infinitely to individual candidates, but rather allows infinite donations from corporations and unions to special interest groups and political action committees (PACs) most sympathetic to the financiers. These entities have an undue influence in politics because they can afford a larger megaphone than the average citizen.
According to CQ Press and Foundation for Public Affairs author of Public Interests Group Profiles 2006-2007, there are over 255 special interests groups that cover a broad range of views.
These organizations influence politics by donating money to representatives for specific interests such as big oil. For example, ExxonMobile Corp. and its executives and sympathizers donate money to the ExxonMobile PAC in unlimited amounts, as allowed by the Citizens United decision. According to Opensecerts.org, ExxonMobile PAC spent $747,163 on 22 Democratic and 137 Republican representatives sympathetic to ExxonMobile.
According to Opensecerts.org, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) received $10,000 dollars from ExxonMobile PAC. McConnell’s voting record coincidentally supports ExxonMobile’s interests such as the Offshore Production and Safety Act of 2011, which allows access to offshore oil drilling.
There is not just one McConnell who votes in the interest of the largest financiers. There are hundreds of representative across both party lines. Represenatives like McConnell consciously take money from special interest groups and PACs and then pass legislation that supports their priorities.
This is a sickness of our democracy, and it should be temporary.
Our constitution condones one logic—by the people for the people. Our current quasi-democratic system however leaves represenatives vulnerable to gifts that come with strings attached.
We the voters have two options. We can vote out every representative who takes special interest donations and PAC money, or we can demand legislation that eliminates non-constituent donations entirely.
The framers gave us the tools to correct all unforeseen problems. Do we need a 28th Amendment perhaps?
-Thanks for reading, Bryce Dunham-Zemberi
Occupy Boise accomplishes their mission through various working groups
Written for The Arbiter.
In the words of Buffalo Springfield, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.”
The 1967 song, “For What it’s Worth,” discusses the political diversities and struggles of the Vietnam War. Today a similar protest has been born, taking the American conscience in a new direction.
Whether it’s called Occupy Boise, Occupy Wall Street, or Occupy Together, the movement and supporters still represent the same thing: the 99 percent.
The Occupy Together movement is growing at an alarming rate; according to its website, there are assemblies in cities from coast to coast showing support for the movement.
Skeptics argue the movement is disorganized and lacks structure.
“I see mass chaos, I see a band of rightfully angry American citizens who are so chaotic because they do not have a unifying message,” Dominic Gelsomino, Boise State College Republican chairman, said. “A mob of people, with one sect arguing affirmative action, one sect arguing climate change, one sect arguing anti-capitalism and one sect arguing social redistribution. It is just confusing that’s all.”
While each participant has their own reason for protesting, they are all a part of a larger movement. In order for the organization to run smoothly, assemblies have structured themselves in a way that works for them.
Occupy Boise is divided into five categories that work together to maintain the movement. Each working group is an independent finger that creates the movement’s collective fist and overall message.
The five working groups are the Public Education Working Group, the Media Working Group, the General Assembly Planning Working Group, the Legal Working Group and the Direct Action Working Group, according to Alex Neiwirth, an Occupy Boise orientation instructor.
Each group is responsible for different aspects of Occupy Boise from website management to assembly moderation, an indication Occupy Boise is in for the long haul.
Public Education Working Group
If the Public Education Work Group were to be a finger, it would be the biggest one. Gus Voss, co-coordinator of the group and senior political science major, would be public enemy number one to the one percent.
Voss uses his understanding of politics to invoke the principles of democracy.
The group says it understands no war can be lost so long as the idea never dies. Their goal is to create messages about the one percent and then distribute them to the 99 percent.
This can be accomplished by “teach-ins” and mass pamphlet distribution, according to Voss.
“The Public Education Working Group’s purpose is three pronged: first is to communicate with Idahoans about Occupy Together, then to expose the influence of Wall Street in Idaho and lastly to expose the power of the 99 percent,” Voss said.
Media Working Group
The Media Working Group is the primary coordinator of media for Occupy Boise, such as the website, flyer printing and the welcome table.
The group primarily works with the Public Education Working Group, according to Joshua Christopher, a 23-year-old Media Working Group member. The Media Working Group prints the actual information the Public Education Working Group distributes.
The first press release was written Oct. 11, giving Occupy Boise its first official “collective message.”
The Public Education Working Group wrote it and the Media Working Group published it online.
Legal Working Group
What would the world be without lawyers? Yes, Occupy Boise has them, too. The group monitors Occupy Boise’s legal stability, according to Robert Stevahn, a 51-year-old Legal Working Group co-coordinator.
“The Legal Working Group provides legal support for the rest of the organizations. Really, we act as a legal liaison between legal counsel and the other working groups,” Stevahn said.
The group is responsible for obtaining necessary permits and offering legal advice to the other working groups.
“We don’t tell them no. We just tell them what is legal and what is not legal and tell them if they (other working groups) might have a problem doing something,” Stevahn said.
The other groups, however, are free to ignore the advice. In other words, the Legal Working Group can point the gun but can never really pull the trigger.
Direct Action Working Group
The Direct Action Working Group is the thumb of the Occupy Boise fist. It has the most dexterity in the sense that it guides the marches like a thumb does a joystick. The group plans the marches, according to a Direct Action co-coordinator Sara Cramer.
“The Direct Action Working Group plans, organizes and participates in public direct actions related to our movement, including demonstrations, general assemblies and bazaars so far,” Cramer said.
The marches are too big to go unmanaged.
“The Direct Action Working Group handles logistics of the marches route, we work with the legal team as far legality and their permitting process with the city,” Cramer said.
Attendees of the Oct. 12 march were unable to walk on the streets and were forced to the sidewalks because of a disagreement between the Direct Action Working Group and Boise City Police, according to Alexis Pickering. Pickering is double majoring in political science and English at Boise State.
General Assembly Planning Working Group
“The General Assembly (GA) Planning Working Group’s purpose is to draft agendas, assign roles, such as facilitators, legal watchers, note takers and all additional roles necessary,” said Matt Haga, a 25-year-old member speaking on behalf of the GA Planning Working Group. “All with the one purpose of shooting for smooth running general assemble where all working groups are on the same page.”
Occupy Boise meetings, such as the one on Oct. 11 at Capitol Park, are held in a circle where participants sit together, occasionally hug and use jazz hands to vote. These meetings are used to discuss how the assembly can work more efficiently.
The GA Planning Working Group collects proposals from the other groups to present to the general assembly. Proposals can be anything from ideas for streamlining the Occupy Boise movement to demographic surveys.
The proposed ideas from the Oct. 11 general assembly meeting ranged from American flag bearers at the upcoming march to who will operate the welcome tent.
“Within Occupy Boise, anybody can propose an idea. And then that (proposed idea) is presented to the general assembly. From then on we (GA Planning Working Group) test for a consensus,” Haga said.
Decisions regarding proposals are made by using an unanimous consensus decision-making model. Proposals are brought to the general assembly attendees, where everyone votes and addresses concerns before a proposal is passed.
“A test for consensus requires that we ask for clarifying questions or comments so everything is understood with every individual at the GA (general assembly),” Haga said.
Consent is shown by two raised hands and wiggling fingers. Members can address their concerns, by issuing a verbal “stand aside.”
“Stand asides are for people to say, essentially ‘I do not feel comfortable with this proposal, this is why, but I am not going to stop this proposal from going
through,’ ” Haga said.
Proposals are brought into discussion so no member feels left out. And those detrimental to the movement can be stopped with a block—a last resort deal-breaker used to contain radicalism.
“The block is the deal-ender. It is where the proposal at hand cannot go further anymore, cannot be agreed upon, until the block can be resolved,” Haga said.
Blocks force the proposal to be rewritten until the next meeting where another consensus can be drawn.
Whether it’s the Occupy Boise, Occupy Wall Street, or Occupy Together movement, cities such as Boise are setting up the ground work to sustain a 24/7 protest of Wall Street lobbying.
Their most ambitious goal is to have a living encampment at the end of November, Voss said.
For more information, visit the Occupy Boise page on Facebook.
-Thank you for reading, Bryce Dunham-Zemberi
Occupy Boise crowds Capitol
Written for The Arbiter.
The crowd gathered, drums were beaten and little deodorant was worn.
Protesters came with signs stating, “Human Needs Not Corporate Greed.”
A solidarity march hit Boise on Oct. 5. Protesters gathered at Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial where they seemed cheerful, despite shivering rains, and had marched all the way to the capitol building steps by five p.m.
Participants such as Travis Kail, a junior philosophy major, held a cardboard sign that read “Ethics not profits.”
Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless effort that appeared on Wall Street in New York City, Sept. 17.
The movement’s goal is to protest corporate greed in today’s democratic republic; more specifically constituency-based lobbying, according to the Occupy Wall Street Movement website.
Constituency-based lobbying is legal in the United States, as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court case Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission. On Jan. 10, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled corporations, unions and political action committees (PACS) have no limitations on monies donated toward political causes.
“They (political representatives) are helping themselves out because the banks fund them. It happens all through the government, not just with banks but with the auto and energy industries as well,”
Proponents such as Boise State College Republican chairman Domenic Gelsomino believe the Occupy Boise assembly was part of a more socialist movement.
“The majority of things, such as class warfare, economic redistribution, overtaxing people who have worked their entire lives to be successful, I do not believe in that, I do not agree with that,” Gelsomino said.
Democracy Matters President and Occupy Boise protester Guss Voss said it is nothing of the sort.
“One popular phrasing of our group is ‘We are the 99 percent’ which obviously puts us in opposition to the top one percent. (It is) not that we think that the 1 percent does not have a right to participate in politics, but rather they (the 1 percent) do not have a right to dominate politics,”
According to Voss, the Occupy Wall Street movement is about ending the 1 percent’s profit gain from lobbying representatives at the detriment of the public.
The Occupy Boise movement brings attention to corporations, PACS and the top 1 percent donating more money to representatives than actual voters ever could donate.
To emphasize this, the Occupy Boise participants chanted on the capitol steps, “We are the 99 percent, our voice shall be heard.”
One main idea of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the richest 1 percent of the nation should not influence politics the way the other 99 percent could never afford.
Gelsomino said he disagrees, supporting more laissez faire economics.
“The donators make their own limit; it’s their money and it’s their choice. That is true economic freedom and
liberty,” Gelsomino said.
Owners of corporations have the right to support democratic or republican representatives who best align with the companies’ ability to make profits, according to Gelsomino.
Corporate lobbying of congressional representatives doesn’t just happen in Washington, D.C.
Constituency-based lobbying has its place in Idaho too, according to Voss who is a senior political science major.
“Even wind and geothermal energy in Idaho is basically being avoided as a policy option, because the amount of money and influence Idaho Power has,” Voss said. “They (Idaho Power) have worked with a number of organizations in Idaho to lobby the legislature to make sure there is no way to incentivize wind or geothermal energy. This way they (Idaho Power) can stay in coalescence with coal and their very lucrative power regime.”
Occupy Wall Street plans on addressing constituency-based lobbying and the movement is growing to more and more cities. For more information about the movement in Boise, visit their page on Facebook.
Thank you for reading, Bryce Dunham-Zemberi