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
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.