Clarence Thomas Should Be Investigated For Nondisclosure, Democratic Lawmakers Say September 30, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice.
Tags: clarence thomas, Clarence Thomas Department Of Justice, Clarence Thomas Disclosure Forms, Clarence Thomas Finances, Clarence Thomas Investigated, Clarence Thomas Investigation, Disclosure Forms, House Rules Committee, Louise Slaughter, Politics News, supreme court, Supreme Court Disclosure Forms, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
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email@example.com, Sept. 29, 2011
WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers on Thursday called for a federal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ failure to report hundreds of thousands of dollars on annual financial disclosure forms.
Led by House Rules Committee ranking member Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), 20 House Democrats sent a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States — the entity that frames guidelines for the administration of federal courts — requesting that the conference refer the matter of Thomas’ non-compliance with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to the Department of Justice.
The letter outlines how, throughout his 20-year tenure on the Supreme Court, Thomas routinely checked a box titled “none” on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income. But in reality, the letter states, she earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003 to 2007 alone.
Slaughter called it “absurd” to suggest that Thomas may not have known how to fill out the forms.
“It is reasonable, in every sense of the word, to believe that a member of the highest court in the land should know how to properly disclose almost $700,000 worth of income,” Slaughter said in a statement. “To not be able to do so is suspicious, and according to law, requires further investigation. To accept Justice Thomas’s explanation without doing the required due diligence would be irresponsible.”
The letter also cites a June report in The New York Times indicating Thomas may have regularly benefited from the use of a private yacht and airplane owned by real estate magnate Harlan Crowe and failed to disclose the travel as a gift or travel reimbursement.
Current law requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Attorney General any judge the conference “has reasonable cause to believe has willfully failed to file a report or has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported.”
Slaughter’s press statement also notes that the Heritage Foundation was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue the Supreme Court is expected to rule on by next summer.
“The Attorney General would be the appropriate person to investigate the issue of non-disclosure, and that is why my colleagues and I are making this request today,” Slaughter said. “I cannot determine guilt or innocence, but I can request that the government do our due diligence in investigating a situation that strikes me, and many other members of Congress, as suspicious.”
Other members of Congress on the letter include Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), John Olver (D-Mass.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.).
Tags: agriculture, clarence thomas, environment, food, food terrorists, genetically engineered, genetically modified, gm food, human rights, lenore daniels, lin cohen cole, michelle obama, monsanto.agent orange, roger hollander, Vietnam War
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Roger’s note: the tone of this ariticle is sarcastic; this may offend some reader, and, if so, I am sorry; but what is a thousand times more offensive is what the article reveals.
Lenore Daniels, www.opednews.com, July 24, 2008
The effect is again a magical and hypnotic one–the projection of images which convey irresistible unity, harmony of contradictions. Thus the loved and fear Father, the spender of life, generates the H-bomb for the annihilation of life; “science-military’ joins the efforts to reduce anxiety and suffering with the job of creating anxiety and suffering.
Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man
Monsanto has great respect for all of us, little people, and for Mother Earth, the source of all its (Monsanto’s) material wealth. But Monsanto would like to remind the world that however much those activists transgressors in Brazil condemn its connection to the use of dioxin in a current project to defoliate the rain forest or however much those Vietnam Vets agitators shout about the long-term harmful effects of Agent Orange, Monsanto is a new humanitarian enterprise, working with struggling farmers on behalf of the poor and starving children of the world. Monsanto, along with the cooperative government of the U.S. and other Western nations, envisions a future filled with healthy and happy humans.
We have great respect for the U.S. soldiers sent to war and all those affected by the Vietnam conflict. All sides share in the pain from this difficult time in our history. One of the legacies of that war is Agent Orange, where questions remain nearly 40 years later.
By way of background, the U.S. military used Agent Orange from 1961 to 1971 to save the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers by defoliating dense vegetation in the Vietnamese jungles and therefore reducing the chances of ambush.
As the war began and intensified, the U.S. government used its authority under the Defense Production Act to issue contracts to seven major chemical companies to obtain Agent Orange and other herbicides for use by U.S. and allied troops in Vietnam. The government specified the chemical composition of Agent Orange and when, where and how the material was to be used in the field, including application rates. Agent Orange was one of 15 herbicides used for military purposes during the Vietnam War and the most commonly applied. It received its name because of the orange band around containers of the material”
There have been a number of lawsuits. Monsanto and the six other chemical manufacturers reached agreement with U.S. veterans in a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in 1984 that involved millions of U.S. veterans and their families. There was not a finding of fault. It was settled by the parties rather than undertake a lengthy and complicated trial. The $180 million in funds that were part of the agreement were distributed according to a plan developed in part by U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein”
[There have been other lawsuits since 2009 but]“
Monsanto is now primarily a seed and agricultural products company.
We believe that the adverse consequences alleged to have arisen out of the Vietnam War, including the use of Agent Orange, should be resolved by the governments that were involved. (Monsanto.com)
((“The Agent Orange produced by Monsanto had dioxin levels many times higher than that produced by Dow Chemicals, the other major supplier of Agent Orange to Vietnam,” “The Legacy of Agent Orange” at Corp Watch.com.))
(((Monsanto produced “some of the most toxic substances ever created,” according to an investigative report entitled, “Harvest of Fear,” published at Vanity Fair, May 2008.)))
You are now ordered to forget those images of children with skin burned and bloodied; babies with two heads and one eye, deformed and missing limbs–forget them! Whatever happened in the past was unintentional. We were ordered by your government to do it! If harm was done when Monsanto was the Monsanto we are not now, sorry! Contact your government and scream until you pass out! We are “dedicated to a better place for future generations.”
In the “imagined future,” one in which we have “foreknowledge” and “mystically share in,” that “dark place” of the Orwellian realm (1984), Monsanto assures us that information is available, accessible, and understandable,” (Monsanto.com).
Infringe on Monsanto’s patents of genetically modified food or transgress its seed laws and its “shadowy army” of private investigators and agents–“secretly” videotaping and photographing wrong doers, and infiltrating “community meetings”–will to “get you” (“Harvest of Fear”). Farmers know Monsanto as the “seed police,” the “Gestapo” of the Heartland.
We are witnessing the criminalization of producing and consuming healthy food.
Here is what the telescreen preaches to us: the U.S. Empire has detected a problem. The results of studies are in and obesity is that problem. Citizens of the U.S. of A. are obese! The littlest of the little people, the children, are “too fat.” They indulge in “fatty foods.” The children along with their parents are irresponsible.
The first Black First Lady enters the picture. The mother of two well-feed children, except for the occasional treat of French fries, is in search of obese children. In a timely manner, Michelle Obama launches her “Let’s Move” program, later in that same year (2010), she announces that she “wants to take her campaign to reduce childhood obesity to a bigger audience: the global one.”
Everyone applauds! Cameras follow the First Lady as she flies from one end of the country to the other, promoting the consumption of greens, carrots, apples, and strawberries, (and indulging occasionally in a side dish of French fries).
Monsanto has the future of our children on its horizon–and it would seem Mrs. Obama does too!
The International Journal of Biological Science issued its findings, too, and it found a problem, too, with 3 genetically modified corn varieties produced by the new, supposedly non-lethal Monsanto. In fact, this study found the problem to be with the giant Monsanto! “80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S. had been genetically modified by Monsanto.” Three strains of corn tested caused serious problems in the liver (organichealthadvisor.com) and this is just one example of the risk Monsanto’s food products pose for the current and future generations of children. Agriculture Society reports that the Institute for Responsible Technology found the following health issues arising from consuming GMO foods:
Immune system problems
Faulty insulin regulation
Development of pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract
Changes in other major organs
The International Journal of Biological Science report concludes: This is a “huge problem.” (And let us not forget–health insurance is another problem in the heartland of the U.S. Empire!).
Any word from the First Lady about Monsanto, GMOs, health risks for eating just about anything, including veggies and fruits?
Do not look to Monsanto to give up either!
Monsanto is a master shape-shifter like so many we can think of today operating at the headquarters imperial power in Washington D.C. In fact, you might find more Monsanto shape-shifters in Washington than anywhere else. That is because the First Lady’s husband, President Barrack Obama and Monsanto want to ensure the longevity of the corporation.
Here is President Barrack Obama shuffling Monsanto food executives and research scientists from the boardroom and labs to the global reaches of the U.S. Empire faster than his wife, the First Lady, can fly to her next lecture on “obesity.”. Former Monsanto executives occupy leadership positions in the Department of Agriculture.
In “Farming–Why Obama’s Government is George Wallace, Monsanto is the KKK, and We Are All Black Children” (Opednews.com), Linn Cohen Cole writes about Monsanto’s “rural cleansing” campaign. Oh, Monsanto is everywhere! The First Lady should not miss omnipotent beings in the halls of the White House, in Congress, certainly not at the Department of Agriculture and not at the Supreme Court where Justice Clarence Thomas, another former Monsanto employee, loves his Monsanto more than he does our current and future generation of children.
Since Thomas’ appointment, writes Cole, the court has ruled in favor of genetically altered organisms and, in addition, has upheld laws protecting Monsanto’s “intellectual property rights.” As a result, Monsanto’s “rural cleansing” campaign is chasing farmers off their lands, from one end of the country to the other, while contaminating nature with its genetically engineered products. This is all good, for Clarence, and apparently the White House and the First Lady, too, flying, to and from, above it all!
Cole argues that these rulings are in “violation of our civil rights.” Here is a “”justice,'” Cole continues, destroying “previously taken for granted and thus undefined civil and human rights around nature.” We can generalize about “agriculture” and “commodities” or “profits””but “the profound truth that this is about life or death and our civil rights to live” is left out of the argument.
And you would think Thomas, Mr. Obama, and Mrs. Obama should know all about the civil right to live! But here is the 21st Century is Thomas, loyal corporate man, Barrack Obama, organizer of the Monsanto-Washington unification process, and Mrs. Obama saving our children’s lives from the ravages of obesity!
Mrs. Obama giving us images of Black obese children and then Brown obese children and then obese white children careful not to give us images of parents working 2 or 3 jobs, if they are working at all, and children, then, who are left to eat potato chips and candy, genetically engineered corn-based products for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even dinner while watching television commercials featuring genetically fattened chicken. Where are the urban, migrant poor and the working class children to establish a garden like the one Mrs. Obama tenders at the White House? (Ah, “urban cleansing”! They have done that already!).
Unintentional, you think? Corporate and government indifference is deadly!
Monsanto’s food products not only contribute to “obesity” in children (and adults as well), but also contributes to the rise in diabetes, cancer, and heart disease (Cole).
Talk about insanity–on a grand level!
But let me reiterate! The installation of Clarence Thomas as an administer of justice and Barrack Obama as a Commander-in-Chief (or is that Chef?) at the helm of the U.S. Empire represents strategic steps, salvos, intended to kill anything human or natural! (So much for the end of the Agent Orange era!). Rights are rendered to corporations these dark days. You can only imagine the light in our future,
Returning to Cole–the author, like so many of us non-important, little people, recognizes from here below, that Monsanto is practicing a form of “discrimination,” where “one group is using corrupt means to discriminate against a defined segment of the population–all of us who wish to live.”
Cole is not alone in condemning not only Monsanto but also the system that is out to destroy life, human and nature, on this planet. Cole’s observation is one voiced by those few of us Black commentators who were critical of that mechanizing and criminalizing system and the selection of Obama (the first “Black” president) chosen by Wall Street and the corporate rulers to oversee the further progress of a One World order. But the foot soldiers of “progress,” the liberal-progressive-alternative-left media thanked the Daley Machine on LaSalle Street and obliged the Democratic Party by bracketing our warnings in double, triple parenthesis–with a warning of their own: shut up!
“Progress” is buying the double talk and eating the crap! And we are where we are today!
Cole writes: Obama “is a black man [the George Wallace of this generation] overseeing a government that is discriminating and abusing a marginalized group.” But it is not one racial or ethnic group, or one class, or only women marginalized today. Here is a George Wallace in controlling and selling humans and the land to the Monsantos of the world, the KKK, Cole argues. All of us are the little Black children of yesterday.
All of us are the little people subject to whims of the state police and the “food” police, and labels of “terrorists” or “food” terrorists.
This is not just an agricultural issue. It is a civil rights and a human rights issue–the most profound in human history since it is about the right to (normal) nature and survival itself. The totalitarian and corrupt parties discriminating against us all can only be dealt with once we see this as a single issue and come together in a civil rights movement on behalf of us all.
But do not turn your eyes away from the First Lady who, for fear of losing life as she knows it, is the savior of children one minute and is campaign cheerleader the next. All in a day’s work–for the Big People!
For husband’s re-election, for the corporatist Party, and for corporate rulers, the First Lady reads Monsanto’s letter to transgressors and agitators, salutes and says, “I do, too.”
Catch that smile and those wonderful gowns!
No wonder Monsanto exchanged its dusty fatigues for a more formal, more “global” one of skull and bones.
Published at The Black Commentator.com, July 21, 2011
Please Help Clarence Thomas Resign June 22, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized.
Tags: citizens united, clarence thomas, corruption, ethics, ginny thomas, harlan crowe, heritage foundation, liberty cental, pinpoint museum, roger hollander, supreme court, ujala sehgal, virginia thomas
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Why is this man laughing?
So many people want to get rid of the ethically challenged Justice Thomas that CREDO has upped its petition goal, for the third time, to 150,000 signatures. To see why you should sign it, go here, here and here.
A Brief History of Clarence Thomas’ Ethical Entanglements
The New York Times published a major report Saturday delving into the ethical questions posed by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his relationship with real estate magnate Harlan Crowe. These recent insinuations on Thomas’ ethics are only the latest in a long list that have been leveled at him. It’s not unusual for judges to have conflicts of interest, but, as Talking Points Memo put it, “when it comes to ethical complications on the nation’s highest court, Clarence Thomas takes the cake.” It’s worth it to review recent events.
Citizens United and the Koch Brothers. In January of 2008, Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia attended a political retreat run by the Koch brothers. Their subsequent ruling in the Citizens United campaign finance case reportedly benefited the Koch brothers’ political activities. In early 2011, the advocacy group Common Cause asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into the propriety of the justices’ participation in the case, according to the Times.
Liberty Central and Mrs. Thomas. In January of 2010, Thomas’ wife, Virginia Thomas, founded a Tea Party-affiliated group called Liberty Central, the Los Angeles Times reports. The group opposes various progressive causes, including President Obama’s health care overhaul, which is an issue that many believe is certain to come before her husband’s court. Moreover, as part of her position, she would accept donations from various sources — including corporations — as allowed under campaign finance rules loosened by the Supreme Court. Virginia Thomas has since stepped down as head of the organization to take more of a back seat role.
The Missing Years of Financial Disclosure. In January of 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that Common Cause found that Virginia Thomas earned over $680,000 from conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation over five years, but the justice did not include it on financial disclosure forms, consistently checking no spousal income. Once the news came out, Thomas amended 13 years’ worth of disclosure reports to include details of his wife’s income, Politico reports. He wrote it was a “misunderstanding of the filing instructions.” Common Cause remained unconvinced.
Harlan Crowe and the Pinpoint Museum. In the most recent case, the Times reports that Harlan Crowe, a close friend of Thomas who once gave his wife $500,000 for Liberty Central, is now financing a multimillion-dollar restoration of an old Georgia cannery where Thomas’ mother once worked, at the Thomas’ behest. The problem here is that the ethics code that binds federal judges says judges “should not personally participate” in raising money for charitable endeavors, out of concern that donors might feel pressured to give or entitled to receive favorable treatment from the judge. In addition, judges are not even supposed to know who donates to projects honoring them. Supreme Court justices are not subject to the federal code of ethics, but other justices have said they adhere to it.
- Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics, Mike McIntire, New York Times
- Benefactor’s Activities Raise New Ethical Concerns About Justice Thomas, Aaron Wiener, Talking Points Memo
- Justice’s wife launches ‘tea party’ group, Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times
- Common Cause Asks Court About Thomas Speech, Eric Lichtblau, New York Times
- Clarence Thomas failed to report wife’s income, watchdog says, Kim Geiger, Los Angeles Times
- Clarence Thomas revises disclosure forms, Jennifer Epstein, Politico
Clarence Thomas Decided Three Cases Where AEI Filed a Brief After AEI Gave Him a $15,000 Gift June 21, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice.
Tags: aei, american enterprise institute, clarence thomas, conflict of interest, corruption, ian millhiser, justice, roger hollander, supreme court
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In 2001, a conservative, corporate-aligned think tank called the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) gave Justice Clarence Thomas the gift of a $15,000 bust of Abraham Lincoln. At the ceremony presenting Thomas with this very expensive gift, AEI president Christopher DeMuth explained that the bust was “cast in 1914 by the great neo-classical sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman.”
AEI, however, is not simply in the business of giving luxurious gifts to Supreme Court justices — it is also in the business of litigating before the United States Supreme Court. ThinkProgress uncovered three briefs that AEI filed in Thomas’ Court after Thomas received their $15,000 gift. Thomas recused from none of these three cases, and he either voted in favor of the result AEI favored or took a stance that was even further to the right in each case:
- Riley v. Kennedy: AEI filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision preventing a change in Alabama’s voting law from going into effect. Justice Thomas did not recuse, and he joined the Supreme Court’s decision reversing the lower court.
- Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1: AEI filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decisionupholding a local school district’s desegregation plan. Thomas joined the majority opinion reversing the lower court’s decision, and he filed a lengthy concurrence defending that result.
- Whitman v. American Trucking Association: AEI joined a brief asking the Supreme Court to allow the EPA to consider the costs of implementing new air quality standards before it issued them. Thomas’ concurring opinion went much further than AEI asked him to go, suggesting that the law authorizing EPA to issue these standards is unconstitutional.
Although there is no evidence that AEI gave Thomas the $15,000 gift specifically to buy his vote in a particular case, Thomas’ decision to sit on cases where his benefactor has a demonstrated interest creates a very serious appearance of impropriety. No one would trust a judge to hear their case if they learned that someone on the other side of the case had given that judge a rare and expensive gift.
Tags: brad friedman, citizens united, clarence thomas, Criminal Justice, ginni thomas, heritage foundation, judicial insider trading, liberty consulting, libetty central, right wing, roger hollander, supreme court, virginia thomas
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He had inappropriate sexual entanglements with a number of women and lied about it repeatedly to the American people. Yet nobody — save for one Colorado law school prof— seems to be calling for Justice Clarence Thomas’ resignation for some reason.
That, even though Thomas, unlike Rep. Anthony Weiner, appears to have actually, and flagrantly, and repeatedly, broken the law.
As we reported in January, Thomas appears to have “knowingly and willfully” filed falsified Financial Disclosure Forms which withheld disclosure of nearly $700,000 his wife received from the rightwing Heritage Foundation for the better part of the last 20 years. Only once it was pointed out publicly this year did Thomas bother to file “self-initiated amendments” to the forms he had signed just above the legal warning in bold and all caps which reads: “NOTE: ANY INDIVIDUAL WHO KNOWINGLY AND WILLFULLY FALSIFIES OR FAILS TO FILE THIS REPORT MAY BE SUBJECT TO CIVIL AND CRIMINAL SANCTIONS (5 U.S.C. app. § 104)”
While there has been little indication that law enforcement is actually investigating the crimes of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice (which, as we pointed out in January, are punishable by up to $50,000 and/or 1 year in jail for each instance of falsification), last Friday when Thomas’ Financial Disclosure Form for 2010 [PDF] was released, the matter appears to have gotten shadier still, leading at least one government watchdog organization to describe what Thomas and his wife Virginia “Ginni” Thomas may be been doing as “Judicial Insider Trading.”
Connecting the dots, it would seem the couple made huge profits from Thomas’ participation and insider knowledge of last year’s Citizens United ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court, as we’ll show you below.
While Barack Obama’s DoJ seems to be looking the other way, there was one person in Congress trying to bring attention to this issue last week with hisConflictedClarence.com website: Rep. Anthony Weiner…
For some reason or another, Weiner has been distracted of late, so I was happy to pick up the ball today and cover the new Thomas disclosures on our radio show on L.A.’s Pacifica Radio affiliate, KPFK today. The audio from the show is below. But here are a few quick details, as promised.
Before posting the timeline, one very important point that hasn’t received nearly enough attention: during Thomas’ contentious confirmation hearings in 1991, he received a huge boost when an outside organization ran $100,000 worth of television commercials attacking those Senators who were threatening to vote against Thomas’ confirmation. That organization? A newly formed group called Citizens United.
Twenty years later, and without either Thomas disclosing it, or anyone in the media connecting the dots, Thomas decided in favor of the group in the now-infamousCitizens United v. FEC case, which has allowed a tsunami of corporate money into our political and electoral system.
It was that decision that allowed corporations to pour virtually unlimited money into 501(c)(4) non-profits that could, in turn, use the money to affect elections with millions of dollars in campaign ads, etc.
Ginni Thomas created one of those 501(c)(4) organizations just after oral arguments were argued before her husband in the Citizens United case, and somehow managed to raise some $550,000 in about two months’ time before the end of 2009.
Here, courtesy of Velvet Revolution’s ProtectOurElections.org campaign:
Sept 9, 2009: Citizens United argued.
Nov 6, 2009: Virginia Thomas launches her new Liberty Central 501(c)(4) organization, which raises 550K in 2009.
Jan 21, 2010: Citizens United decided.
March 15, 2010: Virginia Thomas announces that Liberty Central would “accept donations from various sources — including corporations — as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court.”
November 14, 2010: Liberty Central announces that Virginia Thomas would be leaving the organization.
November 16, 2010: Liberty Consulting incorporated in the state of Virginia.
February 4, 2011: Politico reports that Virginia Thomas had launched Liberty Consulting.
February 8, 2011: ProtectOurElections.org releases its expose of Liberty Consulting
February 12, 2011: Liberty Consulting website is deletedhttp://libertyinc.co/
February 23, 2011: ProtectOurElections.org files a formal bar complaint against Clarence Thomas requesting that he be disbarred on various grounds.
Note the date on which Ginni launched her 501(c)(4), Liberty Central, Inc., and note how quickly she was able to raise half a million dollars from it. And that was evenbefore she told the LA Times that the group would “accept donations from various sources — including corporations — as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court.”
Unlike for the past 20 years, Justice Thomas was able to understand the (incredibly simple) Financial Disclosure Form this time around, for 2010, well enough that he was able to list his “Spouse’s Non-Investment Income” including “salary and benefits” from both Liberty Central, Inc., and Liberty Consulting, Inc.
Unfortunately, the form doesn’t require him to specify how much she received from each, and Liberty Central has extended its deadline for filing its own disclosure forms until August. So, until then, we’re just left to speculate as to how much the Thomases made from those ventures, although the Disclosure Form does reveal that the Thomases invested some of their own money to start up Liberty Consulting, Inc. The form indicates that less than $15,000 was invested.
Setting aside the fact that common sense suggests Thomas should have recused himself from the Citizens United decision (which was decided by a 5 to 4 vote), given the $100,000 in ads from that group that benefited him when he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Ginni’s ability to profit from the decision is raising a lot of questions that should be answered.
Today, VR’s ProtectOurElections.org sent another letter [PDF] to the DoJ, including the newly released Financial Disclosure Form, asking the department to investigate a number of additional questions that have been raised by the new disclosures, including:
- Was Mrs. Thomas tipped off to the Citizens United decision before it was rendered?
- Did Mrs. Thomas launch Liberty Central to take advantage of Citizens United and did she receive any income as a result of Citizens United?
- What happened to the $550,000 raised by Mrs. Thomas for Liberty Central (which is listed on its 2009 IRS 990 form)?
- Did Mrs. Thomas raise funds for Liberty Central after the Citizens United decision and if so how much and what was it used for?
- Is Liberty Consulting engaged in consulting Supreme Court litigants or potential litigants?
- Is Liberty Consulting engaged in lobbying and if so is Mrs. Thomas lobbying for litigants before the Supreme Court?
- Is Liberty Consulting a legitimate company or a conduit to raise funds for the Thomas family?
[And by way of my own disclosure, since, unlike Thomas, I happen to believe it's the right thing to do, VR is an organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG.]
Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan Goes to Bat for Monsanto, Sides With Conservative Justices May 13, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Criminal Justice, Environment, Health.
Tags: agriculture, alfalfa, biotech, clarence thomas, elena kagan, food, genetic engineering, john roberts, joshua frank, monsanto, roger hollander, scalia, supremen court, usda
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(Roger’ note: Suprme Court Justice Nominee ElenaKagan is known for her penchant for hiring white males at Harvard, her support for violating the constitution and international law with respect to torture, habeas corpus and executive power; and now we see how friendly she can be to huge corporate interests when they are challenged by environmentalists and health advocates. Thank you, President Obama.)
Thursday 13 May 2010
(Photo: Harvard Law Record)
Alfalfa is the fourth largest crop grown in the United States and Monsanto wants to control it. On April 27, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could well write the future of alfalfa production in our country.
Fortunately, for those who are concerned about the potential environmental and health impacts of genetically engineered (GE) crops, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is not yet residing on the bench.
For the past four years, the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a Washington DC-based consumer protection group, and others have litigated against Monsanto and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the company’s Roundup Ready alfalfa. The coalition has focused their fight against Monsanto’s GE alfalfa, based on concerns that the plants could negatively impact biodiversity as well as other non-GE food crops.
In 2007, a California US District Court ruled in a landmark case that the USDA had illegally approved Monsanto’s GE alfalfa without carrying out a proper and full Environmental Impact Statement. The plaintiffs argued that GE alfalfa could contaminate nearby crops with its genetically manipulated pollen. Geertson Seed Farm, with the help of CFS, claimed that the farm’s non-GE crops could be damaged beyond repair by Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.
Monsanto’s well-paid legal team appealed the court’s decision, but, in June 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the previous ruling and placed a nationwide ban on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.
“USDA should start over and truly evaluate the contamination of non-GM alfalfa and the potential affects on seed growers, organic and natural meat producers, dairy producers, and conventional and organic honey producers,” said farmer and anti-GE advocate Todd Leake shortly after the ruling.
Monsanto, however, didn’t back down and appealed the Ninth Circuit’s decision to the US Supreme Court. In stepped Elena Kagan, whose role as solicitor general is to look out for the welfare of American citizens in all matters that come before the high court.
Unfortunately, Kagan opted to ditch her duty and instead side with Monsanto. In March 2010, a month before the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, the solicitor general’s office released a legal brief despite the fact that the US government was not a defendant in the case.
As Kagan’s office argued, “The judgment of the court of appeals should be reversed, and the case should be remanded with instructions to vacate the permanent injunction entered by the district court.”
Despite numerous examples of cross-pollination of GE crops, Monsanto argued during the April 27 court proceedings that this was highly unlikely to occur. CFS and other plaintiffs are concerned that a federal law could be affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling. Courts in Oregon and California have already argued in previous cases that GE seeds must also be studied as to the potential impact on other conventional and organic crops.
Surprisingly, it seems that Kagan does not support a thorough study of GE seeds and their potential impact on environmental and human health. In doing so, Kagan has sided with conservative justices on the court who appeared skeptical that the lower courts had made the right decision in banning GE alfalfa.
During the Supreme Court hearings, Chief Justice John Roberts questioned whether the Ninth Circuit had the authority to issue a ban on GE alfalfa. Roberts contented that the court ought to have instead remanded the issue back to the USDA. Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia took his defense of Monsanto even further, stating, “This isn’t the contamination of the New York City water supply,” he said. “This isn’t the end of the world, it really isn’t.”
Apparently Scalia and Roberts aren’t up on the latest scientific analysis that Monsanto’s GE crops have, in fact, bred new voracious super-weeds, which have forced farmers to “spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand, and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.”
“Bowing to pressure from Monsanto and the other biotech companies, our federal agencies approved [GE] corn and cotton without requiring any mandatory testing for environmental impacts,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the CFS recently wrote. “And the expected happened: a few years later, independent university researchers – again not the government – discovered that this [GE] pesticide was potentially fatal to Monarch butterflies and other pollinators … Without mandatory government testing, we’re clueless about the universe of keystone pollinators and other species that are being decimated as the [GE] plants continue to proliferate in our fields.”
The Supreme Court’s decision on Monsanto’s alfalfa ban will likely come early this summer. Justice Stephen Breyer recused himself from the case because his brother Charles Breyer oversaw the lower court’s decision against the company. Unsurprisingly, Justice Clarence Thomas, who once worked in the legal department for Monsanto, did not recuse himself from the matter.
While Elena Kagan has no experience on the bench and has provided the public with little to no information about where she stands on some of the most important issues of the day, the fact that she came to bat for Monsanto two months, at a time when the company is reeling from negative press, may shed some light on how she could rule in future GE cases if she’s confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice.
Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer February 28, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Right Wing.
Tags: Alan Greenspan, altruism, atlas shrugged, ayn rand, clarence thomas, fountainhead, libertarian, marion parker, mark ames, mark sanford, michelle bachman, nietzsche, paul ryan, perry parker, republicans, right wing, roger hollander, Rush Limbaugh, selfishness, tea baggers, tea party, william hickman
There’s something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be as hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population who thought like this, but the US is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?
It turns out, you can trace much of this thinking back to Ayn Rand, a popular cult-philosopher who exerts a huge influence over much of the right-wing and libertarian crowd, but whose influence is only starting to spread out of the US.
One reason why most countries don’t find the time to embrace her thinking is that Ayn Rand is a textbook sociopath. Literally a sociopath: Ayn Rand, in her notebooks, worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of “ideal man” that Rand promoted in her more famous books — ideas which were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America’s most recent economic catastrophe — former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox — along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.
The loudest of all the Republicans, right-wing attack-dog pundits and the Teabagger mobs fighting to kill health care reform and eviscerate “entitlement programs” increasingly hold up Ayn Rand as their guru. Sales of her books have soared in the past couple of years; one poll ranked “Atlas Shrugged” as the second most influential book of the 20th century, after The Bible.
So what, and who, was Ayn Rand for and against? The best way to get to the bottom of it is to take a look at how she developed the superhero of her novel, Atlas Shrugged, John Galt. Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten by Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation — Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, The Little Street — on him.
What did Rand admire so much about Hickman? His sociopathic qualities: “Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should,” she wrote, gushing that Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.'”
This echoes almost word for word Rand’s later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: “He was born without the ability to consider others.”
The Fountainhead is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s favorite book — he even requires his clerks to read it.
I’ll get to where Rand picked up her silly Superman blather from later — but first, let’s meet William Hickman, the “genuinely beautiful soul” and inspiration to Ayn Rand. What you will read below — the real story, details included, of what made Hickman a “Superman” in Ayn Rand’s eyes — is extremely gory and upsetting, even if you’re well acquainted with true crime stories — so prepare yourself. But it’s necessary to read this to understand Rand, and to repeat this over and over until all of America understands what made her mind tick, because Rand’s influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means her ideas are affecting all of our lives in the worst way imaginable.
Rand fell for William Edward Hickman in the late 1920s, as the shocking story of Hickman’s crime started to grip the nation. His crime, trial and case was a non-stop headline grabber for months; the OJ Simpson of his day:
Hickman, who was only 19 when he was arrested for murder, was the son of a paranoid-schizophrenic mother and grandmother. His schoolmates said that as a kid Hickman liked to strangle cats and snap the necks of chickens for fun — most of the kids thought he was a budding manic, though the adults gave him good marks for behavior, a typical sign of sociopathic cunning. He enrolled in college but quickly dropped out, and quickly turned to violent crime largely driven by the thrill and arrogance typical of sociopaths: in a brief and wild crime spree that grew increasingly violent, Hickman knocked over dozens of gas stations and drug stores across the Midwest and west to California. Along the way it’s believed he strangled a girl in Milwaukee, and killed his crime partner’s grandfather in Pasadena, tossing his body over a bridge after taking his money. Hickman’s partner later told police that Hickman told him how much he’d like to kill and dismember a victim someday — and that day did come for Hickman.
One afternoon, Hickman drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High school in Los Angeles, and told administrators that he’d come to pick up “the Parker girl” — her father, Perry Parker, was a prominent banker. Hickman didn’t know the girl’s first name, so when he was asked which of the two Parker twins — Hickman answered, “the younger daughter.” And then he corrected himself: “The smaller one.” The school administrator fetched young Marion, and brought her out to Hickman. No one suspected his motive; Marion obediently followed Hickman to his car as she was told, where he promptly kidnapped her. He wrote a ransom note to Marian’s father, demanding $1,500 for her return, promising that the girl would be left unharmed. Marian was terrified into passivity — she even waited in the car for Hickman when he went to mail his letter to her father. Hickman’s extreme narcissism comes through in his ransom letters, as he refers to himself as a “master mind [sic]” and “not a common crook.” Hickman signed his letters “The Fox” because he admired his own cunning: “Fox is my name, very sly you know.” And then he threatened: “Get this straight. Your daughter’s life hangs by a thread.”
Hickman and the girl’s father exchanged letters over the next few days as they arranged the terms of the ransom, while Marion obediently followed her captor’s demands. She never tried to escape the hotel where he kept her; Hickman even took her to a movie, and she never screamed for help. She remained quiet and still as told when Hickman tied her to the chair — he didn’t even bother gagging her because there was no need to, right up to the gruesome end.
Hickman’s last ransom note to Marion’s father is where this story reaches its disturbing: Hickman fills the letter with hurt anger over her father’s suggestion that Hickman might deceive him, and “ask you for your $1500 for a lifeless mass of flesh I am base and low but won’t stoop to that depth ” What Hickman didn’t say was that as he wrote the letter, Marion was already several chopped-up lifeless masses of flesh. Why taunt the father? Why feign outrage? This sort of bizarre taunting was all part of the serial killer’s thrill, maximizing the sadistic pleasure he got from knowing that he was deceiving the father before the father even knew what happened to his daughter. But this was nothing compared to the thrill Hickman got from murdering the helpless 12-year-old Marion Parker. Here is an old newspaper description of the murder, taken from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on December 27, 1927:
“It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me,” he continued, “and I just couldn’t help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marian. Then before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly. I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. “When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. “I knew she was dead. “Well, after she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out.”
Another newspaper account dryly explained what Hickman did next:
Then he took a pocket knife and cut a hole in her throat. Then he cut off each arm to the elbow. Then he cut her legs off at the knees. He put the limbs in a cabinet. He cut up the body in his room at the Bellevue Arms Apartments. Then he removed the clothing and cut the body through at the waist. He put it on a shelf in the dressing room. He placed a towel in the body to drain the blood. He wrapped up the exposed ends of the arms and waist with paper. He combed back her hair, powdered her face and then with a needle fixed her eyelids. He did this because he realized that he would lose the reward if he did not have the body to produce to her father.
Hickman packed her body, limbs and entrails into a car, and drove to the drop-off point to pick up his ransom; along his way he tossed out wrapped-up limbs and innards scattering them around Los Angeles. When he arrived at the meeting point, Hickman pulled Miriam’s head and torso out of a suitcase and propped her up, her torso wrapped tightly, to look like she was alive–he sewed wires into her eyelids to keep them open, so that she’d appear to be awake and alive. When Miriam’s father arrived, Hickman pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him, showed Miriam’s head with the eyes sewn open (it would have been hard to see for certain that she was dead), and then took the ransom money and sped away. As he sped away, he threw Miriam’s head and torso out of the car, and that’s when the father ran up and saw his daughter–and screamed.
This is the “amazing picture” Ayn Rand — guru to the Republican/Tea Party right-wing — admired when she wrote in her notebook that Hickman represented “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.”
Other people don’t exist for Ayn, either. Part of her ideas are nothing more than a ditzy dilettante’s bastardized Nietzsche — but even this was plagiarized from the same pulp newspaper accounts of the time. According to an LA Times article in late December 1927, headlined “Behavioralism Gets The Blame,” a pastor and others close to the Hickman case denounce the cheap trendy Nietzschean ideas that Hickman and others latch onto as a defense:
“Behavioristic philosophic teachings of eminent philosophers such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer have built the foundation for William Edward Hickman’s original rebellion against society,” the article begins.
The fear that some felt at the time was that these philosophers’ dangerous, yet nuanced ideas would fall into the hands of lesser minds, who would bastardize Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and poison the rest of us. Which aptly fits the description of Ayn Rand, whose philosophy developed out of her admiration for “Supermen” like Hickman. Rand’s philosophy can be summed up by the title of one of her best-known books: The Virtue of Selfishness. She argues that all selfishness is a moral good, and all altruism is a moral evil, even “moral cannibalism” to use her words. To her, those who aren’t like-minded sociopaths are “parasites” and “lice” and “looters.”
But with Rand, there’s something more pathological at work. She’s out to make the world more sociopath-friendly so that people like Ayn and her hero William Hickman can reach their full potential, not held back by the morality of the “weak,” whom Rand despised.
That’s what makes it so creepy how Rand and her followers clearly get off on hating and bashing those they perceived as weak–Rand and her followers have a kind of fetish for classifying weaker, poorer people as “parasites” and “lice” who need to swept away. This is exactly the sort of sadism, bashing the helpless for kicks, that Rand’s hero Hickman would have appreciated. What’s really unsettling is that even former Central Bank chief Alan Greenspan, whose relationship with Rand dated back to the 1950s, did some parasite-bashing of his own. In response to a 1958 New York Times book review slamming Atlas Shrugged, Greenspan, defending his mentor, published a letter to the editor that ends: “Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. Alan Greenspan.”
As much as Ayn Rand detested human “parasites,” there is one thing she strongly believed in: creating conditions that increase the productivity of her Supermen – the William Hickmans who rule her idealized America: “If [people] place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man’s life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite.”
And yet Republican faithful like GOP Congressman Paul Ryan read Ayn Rand and make declare, with pride, “Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism.” Indeed. Except that Ayn Rand also despised democracy, as she declared: “Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom.”
“Collectivism” is another one of those Randian epithets popular among her followers. Here for example is another Republican member of Congress, the one with the freaky thousand-yard-stare, Michelle Bachman, parroting the Ayn Rand ideological line, to explain her reasoning for wanting to kill social programs:
“As much as the collectivist says to each according to his ability to each according to his need, that’s not how mankind is wired. They want to make the best possible deal for themselves.”
Whenever you hear politicians or Tea Baggers dividing up the world between “producers” and “collectivism,” just know that those ideas and words more likely than not are derived from the deranged mind of a serial-killer groupie. When you hear them threaten to “Go John Galt,” hide your daughters and tell them not to talk to any strangers — or Tea Party Republicans. And when you see them taking their razor blades to the last remaining programs protecting the middle class from total abject destitution — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — and brag about their plans to slash them for “moral” reasons, just remember Ayn’s morality and who inspired her.
Too many critics of Ayn Rand– until I was one of them — would rather dismiss her books and ideas as laughable, childish, hackneyed. But it can’t be dismissed because Rand is the name that keeps bubbling up from the Teabagger crowd and the elite conservative circuit in Washington as The Big Inspiration. The only way to protect ourselves from this thinking is the way you protect yourself from serial killers: smoke the Rand followers out, make them answer for following the crazed ideology of a serial-killer-groupie, and run them the hell out of town and out of our hemisphere.
Supreme Act Of Judicial Treason Against The People Of The United States, And What We Can And Must Do About It January 24, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy, Political Commentary.
Tags: anthony kennedy, clarence thomas, constitution, corporations, impeach, impeachment, multinational, roger hollander, supreme court, transnational, treason
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Because of the gravity of the crime against the Constitution committed by a gang of 5 right wing judicial outlaws on our Supreme Court yesterday, we are launching two critical action pages at once
Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1029.php
Action Page: Impeach The Supreme Court 5 http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1030.php
By any fair legal definition, the decision yesterday by The Supreme Court 5 constitutes nothing less than an act of TREASON against the people of the United States. Having read and analyzed the entire 183 page decision and all of its concurring and dissenting opinions ourselves, we are fully prepared to support this accusatory conclusion.
Having so grossly abused its jurisdiction by presuming to decide a question expressly WAIVED by the petitioner in the Court below (p 12), this rogue Supreme Court ruled for the FIRST time that NO corporation can be constrained from unlimited influence over our elections. And even assuming that the Court intended the decision to only apply to American corporations, the Court expressly DECLINED (pp 46-47) to reach the question of whether foreign ownership stakes in American corporations should likewise be given carte blanche to put their thumbs on the scales of our democracy.
Thus, until Congress FURTHER acts (and it must, though it could not have escaped the attention of The Supreme Court 5 that the current Republican minority has vowed to obstruct ANYTHING of consequence that Congress might try to pass), there is now nothing to constrain foreign nationals, even our most sworn enemies, from usurping what even the most die hard Tea Bagger takes as an article of faith, that the rights of citizenship of this country are ONLY for Americans. This must be construed, within the four corners of our Constitution, as deliberately and knowingly exposing the United States of America to harm in the interim, by giving “aid and comfort” to our enemies (Constitution Article 3, section 3), should our enemies now wish to take advantage of this unprecedented and rash decision. In simple Constitutional terms . . treason!!
The fact is that we now live in a world of giant transnational corporations, with allegiance to NO sovereign government, let alone our own, sworn only to exploit the most vulnerable and desperate workers they can find in any country of the world. How does The Supreme Court 5 propose parsing which of these extra-national legal artificialities should be allowed to corrupt our democratic election process? Apparently in their minds, all of them.
Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1029.php
So what is it that we can and MUST do? The first and most prominent proposal we heard yesterday, and which we of course support, was to amend the Constitution to clarify that corporations have no such rights as people (which is to say U.S. citizens). While this certainly could not hurt, and would obviously help (assuming such a proposed amendment could garner 67 votes in a Senate already stalemated by obstructionism, let alone be ratified by 3/4 of the states, including many “red” ones), what we must first assert is that there is nothing WRONG with our Constitution, and demand that Congress do whatever it can to protect it.
Action Page: Impeach The Supreme Court 5 http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1030.php
Because just as importantly, we are on ominous and clear notice that there is no further outrage these 5 gangsters in black robes are not gleefully and arrogantly capable of. Indeed, in his dissenting opinion (that the majority did not go far ENOUGH), Clarence Thomas characterized the decision as only a “first step” (Thomas opinion p. 1). It is worth noting that the authorship of the majority opinion is claimed by Anthony M. Kennedy, heretofore generally considered the LEAST wing nutty of the 5. Therefore, the immediate and unavoidably necessary recourse must be impeachment for all five, treason already being a high crime, otherwise the horrors yet to issue from their treacherous minds is too terrible to contemplate.
NEW FOUR COLOR BUMPER STICKERS
We will have much more to say on all this in subsequent alerts to follow shortly, but for now we are making available for no charge (not even shipping) your choice of one of two absolutely gorgeous full 4 color process bumper stickers. Take a “Corporations Are NOT The People” bumper sticker, OR a “Impeach The Supreme Court 5″ bumper sticker for free. Of course if you can make a contribution (or if you want both), please DO contribute what you can, which is what allows us to send these out for free to anyone who cannot make a donation right now.
You can request your bumper sticker from the return page after you submit either of the action pages above. Or you can do directly to this page and get them there.
Bumper Stickers for no charge: http://www.peaceteam.net/bumper_stickers.php
Facebook participants can also submit the action pages at
Corporations Are Not The People: http://apps.facebook.com/fb_voices/action.php?qnum=pnum1029
Impeach The Supreme Court 5: http://apps.facebook.com/fb_voices/action.php?qnum=pnum1030
And on Twitter, just send the following Twitter reply for the Corporations Are Not The People action
And this Twitter reply for the Impeach The Supreme Court 5 action
Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible.
If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at http://www.millionfaxmarch.com/in.htm
Where’s Rev. Wright When You Need Him? April 20, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, Racism.
Tags: Afghanistan, anita hill, Barack Obama, black agenda report, chris hedges, clarence thomas, crime against humanity, durban I, gaza, geneva, genocide, glen ford, Iraq, israel war criemes, jeremiah wright, pakistan, racism, roger hollander, slave trade, slavery, slavery reparations, torture, u.s. war crimes, world conference against racism
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Published on Monday, April 20, 2009 by TruthDig.com
“The Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute CIA and Bush administration officials for the use of torture because it wants to look to the future is easy to accept if you were never tortured. The decision not to confront slavery and the continued discrimination against African-Americans is easy to accept if your ancestors were not kidnapped, crammed into slave ships, denied their religion and culture, deprived of their language, stripped of their names, severed from their families and forced into generations of economic misery. The decision not to discuss the genocide of Native Americans is easy if your lands were not stolen and your people driven into encampments and slaughtered. The doctrine of pre-emptive war and illegal foreign occupation is easy to accept if you are not a Palestinian, an Iraqi or an Afghan. “
Israel and the United States, which could be charged under international law with crimes against humanity for actions in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, will together boycott the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Geneva. Racism, an endemic feature of Israeli and American society, is not, we have decided, open for international inspection. Barack Obama may be president, but the United States has no intention of accepting responsibility or atoning for past crimes, including the use of torture, its illegal wars of aggression, slavery and the genocide on which the country was founded. We, like Israel, prefer to confuse lies we tell about ourselves with fact.
The Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute CIA and Bush administration officials for the use of torture because it wants to look to the future is easy to accept if you were never tortured. The decision not to confront slavery and the continued discrimination against African-Americans is easy to accept if your ancestors were not kidnapped, crammed into slave ships, denied their religion and culture, deprived of their language, stripped of their names, severed from their families and forced into generations of economic misery. The decision not to discuss the genocide of Native Americans is easy if your lands were not stolen and your people driven into encampments and slaughtered. The doctrine of pre-emptive war and illegal foreign occupation is easy to accept if you are not a Palestinian, an Iraqi or an Afghan.
|“The Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute CIA and Bush administration officials for the use of torture because it wants to look to the future is easy to accept if you were never tortured.”|
To victims of oppression, the past is never over. It is not even past. Trauma, suffering and discrimination do not afford them that luxury. Generations bear the scars of whips and chains. They carry heavy physical and psychological burdens. And these burdens do not disappear when someone glibly decides to look to the future.
The conference in Geneva will discuss racism and continued segregation around the world, including in America, where African-Americans remain the nation’s underclass. In addressing slavery, it will raise the issue of reparations, something we deem appropriate for Jewish victims of the Holocaust but not for African-Americans. And it will seek to force all nations to confront injustices they would rather keep hidden. But we are not ready to look.
The Obama administration at first refused to participate in the preliminary negotiations for the conference, chaired by Russia, Iran and Libya. It then agreed to attend for one week. It demanded the removal of references to Israel in the document outlining the goals of the conference. The references were removed. It also demanded other insidious changes, as Vernellia R. Randall, a University of Dayton Ohio law professor, pointed out. The Obama administration asked that the call for reparations for African-Americans be expunged. It insisted that the description of the transatlantic slave trade as “a crime against humanity” be cut. And it demanded the elimination of a call to strengthen the U.N. “Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent,” which deals with the African diaspora.
The document, however, ratified “Durban I,” which was the concluding document of the first World Conference Against Racism, held in South Africa in 2001. The 2001 document included a harsh condemnation of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. And this, finally, proved too much for Washington.
“Barack Obama knows full well that he risks nothing by disrespecting African Americans at will,” wrote Glen Ford, the executive editor of The Black Agenda Report. “Across the Black political spectrum, so-called leadership seems incapable of shame or of taking manly or womanly offense at even the most blatant insults to Black people when the source of the affront is Barack Hussein Obama.”
The United States, which has a museum to the Jewish Holocaust in Washington but has never found the moral courage to officially atone for its role in slavery and the genocide of Native Americans, perpetuates a disturbing historical amnesia. Our national myth and deification of the Founding Fathers studiously preclude an examination of the bloody conquest, open racism, misogyny, elitism and brutality that led to the country’s establishment and that fester like an open wound.
We failed to fully participate in every world conference on racism, including those held in 1978, 1983 and 2001. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his delegation during the 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa, walked out because of what the Americans termed “Israel-bashing.”
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, on April 13, 2003, gave a 40-minute sermon called “Confusing God and Government.” Only a clip from the sermon-the phrase “God Damn America”-made it onto the airwaves. It was repeated in endless loops on cable news channels and used to turn Wright into a pariah. Obama denounced his former pastor. The rest of the sermon, and especially the context in which the phrase was used, was ignored. Obama would be a better president if he listened to voices like Wright’s and listened less to his pollsters and advisers.
The sermon was a cry from those who cannot forget what white and privileged Americans-as well as, now, the Obama administration-want us to ignore. It was a reminder that there are two narratives of America. And until these narratives converge, until we all accept the truth of our past, justice will never be done. We will continue until then to speak in two irreconcilable languages, one that acknowledges the pain of the past and seeks atonement and one that does not. We will continue to be two Americas.
“This government lied about their belief that all men were created equal,” Wright told his congregation. “The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal. The truth is they did not even believe that white women were created equal, in creation nor civilization. The government had to pass an amendment to the Constitution to get white women the vote. Then the government had to pass an equal rights amendment to get equal protection under the law for women. The government still thinks a woman has no rights over her own body, and between Uncle Clarence [Thomas], who sexually harassed Anita Hill, and a closeted Klan court that is a throwback to the 19th century, handpicked by Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, between Clarence and that stacked court, they are about to undo Roe vs. Wade, just like they are about to undo affirmative action. The government lied in its founding documents and the government is still lying today. Governments lie.”
” … When it came to treating the citizens of African descent fairly, America failed,” he said. “She put them in chains. The government put them in slave quarters. Put them on auction blocks. Put them in cotton fields. Put them in inferior schools. Put them in substandard housing. Put them in scientific experiments. Put them in the lowest-paying jobs. Put them outside the equal protection of the law. Kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education, and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness.
“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America! That’s in the Bible. For killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating us citizens as less than human. God Damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and she is Supreme.”
There will be no delegation from the United States at the U.N. conference on racism. Not this year. Maybe not for several years. But the day will come, I hope, when justice will finally conquer hate, when the truth will allow us to speak as one nation. We can, on that day, send a delegation led by the Rev. Wright as part of reconciliation.