FROM THE WEB
Manning & the Law
CROSSING THE LINE
Corruption in U.S.
Activism Not a Crime
War in Arizona
James Patrick Jordan
Hyatt v. UNITE-HERE
Medicare for All
Chamber & Capitalism
Savage Imperialism 4
"No Progressive Champion"
CULTURE & FILM
The Gay Oscars
Saviors and Survivors
Zaps - 03/11
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Corruption at the Supreme Court, White House
New investigations reveal that, not only do we have Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices using their offices to promote ideological political agendas, but that they are also hiding their politically-funded income from public view.
Antonin Scalia is the latest to cross the line with an announcement that he plans to address the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives. The New York Times editorial board accused Scalia of becoming a "Justice from the Tea Party" for his planned participation in their caucus seminar.
This isn't Scalia's first breech of court practices. Scalia also spoke at a Koch Industries retreat, sponsored by two billionaire brothers with a history of supporting extreme right-wing positions that promote pollution, deregulation of all markets, abolition of income taxes, as well as attacks on climate change theory. The Koch brothers are well-known financiers of right-wing groups such as the Tea Party and benefactors of a recent Supreme Court decision.
The allegations against Scalia drew attention when Common Cause, a liberal advocacy group, raised questions about the participation of Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas in last year's Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, thus overturning years of judicial precedent. Normally when judges are personally involved in cases before the court, they recuse themselves because they cannot give an unbiased opinion when they have a conflict of interest. Supreme Court Justices are legally exempt from this requirement, but few justices push their involvement as much as Scalia and Thomas have.
Thomas's breaches of judicial ethical practices are worse. Thomas's wife received almost $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation, a think-tank dedicated to pushing a conservative agenda that attacks welfare, taxes, government regulations, civil rights, social security, unions, and various forms of government assistance. Additionally, Ms. Thomas founded Liberty Central—a Tea Party group dedicated to ousting Obama and defeating health-care reform—and received $550,000 from the group. She refuses to disclose who provided the funds, raising the question as to whether the money could be used to influence Thomas's decisions in Court cases.
Thomas defends himself by claiming he ignored $1,250,000 in income because he "misunderstood filing instructions" in the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. The president of Common Cause says he finds his excuse "implausible." But Thomas's explanation also raises questions about his ability to understand simple legal instructions, let alone the complex issues that come before the Supreme Court.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) revealed even more egregious and illegal political misconduct elsewhere in the federal government in a detailed, 112-page report, "Political Activities by White House and Federal Agency Officials During the 2006 Midterm Elections." The independent federal investigative agency is empowered to oversee the political activities of government employees in accordance with the Hatch Act. The OSC makes sure officials do not use their offices to promote politics in government workplaces or to coerce government employees into participating in political campaigns.
The report found that the Bush White House and Karl Rove conducted briefings of appointees in federal workplaces during work hours, coordinated their activities with the Republican National Committee, and paid the expenses of high-level federal officials to attend political events supporting candidates.
The Bush White House conducted 75 political briefings involving 20 government agencies, gave employees secret RNC email accounts, and materially assisted the election of Republican candidates. The findings came after an investigation that reviewed over 100,000 pages of documents, including secret emails, and interviewed more than 80 Bush appointees. The results found "that the electoral success of the Republican Party, and possible strategies for achieving it, were often on the agenda."
The Hatch Act specifically prohibits "engaging in political activity while on duty or in a federal workplace." A large number of White House appointees violated the act by "coordinating, presenting, or attending the briefing." These political briefings mobilized appointees during the election season with information about "the overall political climate, the economic landscape, the President's job approval ratings, and the current and predicted makeup of Congress." The White House emphasized that appointees' activities were "appreciated."
The political briefings were mandatory and their nature clear. For example, the White House wanted to brief USAID to "keep the troops informed, motivated and activated as we move forwards toward the fall elections." Eleven different Power Point presentations included specific instructions that focused on particular political races and geographic districts critical to the Republican Party. The presentations specified calls for volunteers and actions to be taken, including a 72-hour mobilization before the elections.
The report clearly finds that activities were no simple "get out the vote" campaign, but included illegal actions by federal agency heads, the White House, and major Republican Party officials, orchestrated by Karl Rove.
With such clear-cut evidence, should we hold our breath until a case is brought against Rove and the others involved? Will Bush be indicted in the case? Will the Tea Party and the newly invigorated Republican Party rush in to make government bureaucrats pay for their crimes? Or will charges ever be brought?
Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based writer who follows cultural issues and politics and writes occasional satire.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.