Grassley led a witch hunt to learn how
(Editor's Note: On Friday, April 6, 2001 I received a disturbing telephone call from a business acquaintance, Bob Schulz, who had just experienced his own bizarre trip through the Twilight Zone. I wrote the story that evening and posted it on what was then a subdomain AOL website [which means only a couple hundred people a weekon a good weekread what I had to say]. The readers who found the article learned something that not a single newspaper in the United States reported. So, if you were not one of the handful of people who read the story on that old website on April 7, 2001, this nine year old story will be brand new for you.) The four line heading of the article said:
holds "special" committee on advocacy
In Schulz's case, he wanted to raise questions about the constitutionality of the 16th Amendment, and he wanted Vice President Dick Cheney who verbally agreed to discuss the merits of Schulz's petition, or some other high-ranking Bush-43 official, to explain where the government's power to tax the people came from since the 16th Amendment was never lawfully ratified. Cheney and the IRS, at first, chose to simply ignore them. Schulz then beat a path to Congress and asked to meet with various Congressmen and Senators who, initially, seemed eager to meet with the citizen's group and discuss the legality of the 16th Amendment in a public forumonly to cancel the meeting at the last minute or they publicly promised to meet, then privately denied they agreed. Schulz can be a very tenacious.
After getting the run-around from several Congressmen and Senators, We The People took their case directly to the people by running a series of ads in the Washington Times National Weekly Edition and in USA Today. Finally, Schulz got someone's attention. But not in a way he expected.
On April 3, 2001, Schulz received a telephone call from New York Times reporter Richard K. Johnson who asked him if he was aware that on April 5, the US Senate Finance Committee was going to hold a hearing on the ads which We The People had run in the Washington Times National Weekly and in USA Today.
Schulz admitted he had no knowledge of any such hearing. He thanked Johnson for the information and caught a plane to Washington in time for the hearing. Only, when he tried to gain access to the Finance Committee meeting, he could not gain access to the hearing because, he was told, he was not on the witness list.
Schulz thought it was strange that the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Charles Grassley [R-IA] who, at least publicly, was playing hardball with IRS Director Charles O. Rossotti (who was appointed by Bill Clinton and kept by George W. Bush). If you remember Grassley at that time, he was the guy who told the American people he was going to play "hardball" with Rossotti and clean up the IRS. Yet, when he had the chance to do so, he refused to call before his committee the manBob Schulzwho had all of the tough questions for which there were no answers that would make government look honest. The man the committee was actually investigatingSchulzwas not going to be called. In fact, if Grassley had his way, Schulz would not even be allowed into the hearing room.
Grassley and Sen. Max Baucus [D-MT], the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee weren't really interested in hearing what Schulz had to say because they weren't holding the hearing to determine whether or not what was said in Schulz's ads was correct, or if Schulz's group, We The People Foundation, was responsible for the decline in IRS filings that year, Rather, the hearing was being orchestrated to point a finger at where the Senate believed the "vast right wing conspiracy" incubated and festered before the questions asked by them were asked by the mainstream news vehicleswhich would be much harder to dismiss than the rightwing Washington Times.
As Schulz spoke with a Committee member in an effort to gain access to the hearing, he was told that his testimony was neither needed nor wanted since Grassley believed the message of the We The People Foundation "...would detract from what we want to convey."
When Schulz convinced the Committee he was not there to "launch a protest," he was admitted to the hearing room where uniformed Secret Service agents were instructed to physically eject him from the room if he opened his mouth and said anything. Schulz was shocked to see giant reproductions of his ads in the National Weekly Edition and USA Today on display for the "assembled" (i.e., left-wing) media to witness.
Schulz quickly realized he was not the "topic" of the hearing. He, and other conservative activists who use the Internet to get their message out, were the "targets." Schulz, who has devoted all of his effort into getting the White House, the IRS, and Congress to hold a public forum and explain to the people of the United States how, since the 16th Amendment was not constitutionally ratified (although Solicitor General Reuben Clark said that with enough errors to invalidate all but six ratification certificates, he still thought it was), where the government gets its authority to tax the incomes of American citizens? That was a question government was not willing to even put on the table. The question on the table was: how was the rightwing subculture born, and how does it incubate to maturity? And, most of all, how does a small grassroots organization with no major donors or financial backers raise the money need to buy full page ads in USA Today that cost from $65,000 or more per ad?
It goes without saying that what Schulz was able to do was frightened Congress. And the Fed. And the IRS. If one grassroots organization can generate enough financial support to break free within the cyberworld and carry its message down the information superhighway into the mainstream media, could other organizations do the same thing? As long as the messages of the rightwing groups remain buried in the conspiracy underworld of the Net, the messageand the groups who sponsor those messageremained a blurry part of the cyberculture floundering in that grey world between fact and fantasy. But, if others are able to do what Schulz did, and break free of the cybershackles and get their messages into the mainstream media, people who pay no attention to the subculture of the Internet will begin to ask questions. When the chorus gets loud enough, the people will demand answers.
And, that was the real subject of the Grassley Hearing on April 5, 2001. Grassley and Baucus, after warming up on We The People, concluded what was necessaryand what they would recommendwas the formation of an Internet Task Force to study the ramifications of the conservative subculture (note, there was no mention of a left-wing subculture, only a rightwing subculture) on the Internet, and propose to Congress various solutions to this dilemma.
Raised during this hearing was the typical political rhetoric about protecting free speech (as long as it isn't too free). History has shown when a politician talks about protecting 1st Amendment rights, the definition is much different than yours. History has proven time and again what they are really talking about is how to abridge those rights in a manner which the United States Supreme Court will uphold under the guise of some made-up national emergency. But another lesson history has taught us is when liberty is abridged, freedom is lost.
(Editor's Postscript: Eight years later the solution to Grassley's dilemma would arrive in the shape of Sen Jay Rockefeller's CyberSecurity Act of 2009 that was specifically designed to silence antigovernment extremists and, of course, porn peddlers. But the emphasis is really on antigovernment radicals who ask the tough questions that make sweat beads pop out on the heads of politicians when taxpayers in town halls ask the occupant of the White House questions tough enough to make him pop sweat beads like a popcorn popper as he ran out the clock by taking 17 minutes to answer a "yes" or "no" to this question: "Don't you think the timing for a healthcare plan that will raise everyone's taxes is a bad idea in an economy like this?")
America...wake up. You have less than eight months to take back your nation before you lose it. for whatever it's worth, once again, you have my two cents worth on this subject. Until next time...