The importance of being Eric

Guest Post

A very eager young man took his seat right up the front and settled in to hear the famous speaker.  He later left the hall enchanted.  It was more instructive and more encouraging than he could have ever dreamt.  The speaker was Milton Friedman.  The year was 1976.  The young man was Eric O’Keefe.  The occasion was the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Economics to Milton Friedman.

Excuse me.  I know of Milton Friedman but who is Eric O’Keefe?

Hang on, I will get to that but a little background is useful.  Even as a boy Eric O’Keefe loved politics.  He read and absorbed all he could.  He decided early on to be a libertarian.  He got himself a good job, saved hard and kept chasing his dream.  During the 1970’s he became involved in the Libertarian Party and met the Koch brothers – wealthy industrialists who were happy funding a wide range of right wing activities.  The Koch brothers were, and still are hated by the left – hated with a passion.  It follows that their friends, acquaintances and anyone who is a recipient of their largesse is also given the same venomous treatment.  They get accused of funding a wide range of right wing activities and that is true.  They also get accused of giving support to a whole lot of causes that they do not even associate with.

The left love big money when they are getting it – Soros, Heinz Kerry, Rothschilds, Simons, and many others – but those evil capitalists who spend large and support the right are derided, ostracised and hated.

Now, back to O’Keefe.  And why this story.  O’Keefe started or supported a wide number of organisations and activities on the right and began focusing on very dubious methods employed by sitting politicians to preserve their seats in Congress, the House and State positions especially those that paid well.  He started uncovering all sorts of dodgy deals and illegal shenanigans.

Suddenly his outspoken claims stopped.  He disappeared from the media and dropped out of meetings he usually showed up for and spoke at.  Questions were asked.

In October 2013 it was mysteriously announced that a secret “John Doe” investigation had been launched by leftie John Chisholm, a Democratic District Attorney in Milwaukee into O’Keefe and friend’s political activity. Wisconsin is one of three states that allow John Doe investigations, in which prosecutors are allowed to compel people to produce documents and give testimony as well as bar them from talking publicly about the investigation. These types of investigations are called “John Doe probes” as their purpose is to determine whether a crime has been committed, and if so, by whom. Prosecutors are allowed to conduct their investigation in secret and can order targets and witnesses not to tell anyone about the matter.

The investigations had been instigated a year earlier.  O’Keefe decided to ignore the ban on speaking out and went to the Wall Street Journal with his story.  He told of late night raids, harassment, the taking of records, files and computers, gagging orders, threats, etc.

O’Keefe could take no more.  He sued in the courts to have the investigation stopped.  His appeal went up through the court system and O’Keefe eventually won with the highest court demanding an end to the debacle, all materials returned and records erased.

So, what, you may be asking?  Its America and anything goes.  It might be the land of the free but it somehow manages to have some incredibly naive and dangerous pursuits embedded in its political system.  It’s partly the fault of having a number of bureaucratic positions politicized and held by right or left wing operatives.  It’s also the complexity of state and federal policies, laws and administrations.  What was once a simple, transparent, seemingly corruption-proof form of government and an open approach to managing its civic affairs has allowed perversion and crookedness to creep in step by step.

So, it can’t happen here in little ole’ NZ?  Yeah.  Nah.   As Eddie Burke said, “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”.  Haile Selassie. A most interesting ruler of Ethiopia said something similar….. “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph”.

American politics is a mess because few have acted.  A woman who is clearly untrustworthy, a known liar, and a fraud can run for the highest office in the land and probably win it because their system has been allowed to mould, rot and putrefy.

Yes, it could happen here. It does now in small and less conspicuous ways.  The signs of cover ups, of ignoring injustice and wrong, turning a blind eye are evident.  The mould is there, quietly growing.

Freedom and democracy can be vulnerable and fragile flowers.  They need nurturing and protecting.  They require strong and persistent voices of support.  They demand the disinfecting light of exposure shining around them.  It used to be the honoured work of the “fourth estate”.

That is why now the very silly, light-weight, self promoting tripe written every day in our media and carried on our screens is even more menacing and perfidious than we realise.

updated 09:16 am


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