5 Christian Right Delusions and Lies About History
They're not just delusional about science!
November 21, 2013 |
The Christian right is most known for their denial of inconvenient
science, but in many respects, they’re just as bad when it comes to the
facts of history. After all, no matter what the topic, they know they
can just make stuff up and their people will believe it. So why not do
the same when it comes to political history? Here are five examples. 1. Joe McCarthy was a good guy. A
new and extremely toxic myth is beginning to percolate in on the
Christian right: Insisting that Sen. Joseph McCarthy, a paranoid
alcoholic who saw communist subversives in every corner, was actually an
upstanding guy fighting for God and country. In 2003, Ann Coulter
published a book she claims vindicates McCarthy, but its impact wasn’t
felt until 2010 when the Christian right members who stack the Texas State School Board tried to get the pro-McCarthy theories into Texas school books.
Christian right fanatics attempted to claim that McCarthy had been vindicated by
something (wrongly) called the “Verona papers” (they're actually named
the “Venona papers”). There is a Venona project that has reputed
historians who show that the Soviets did have spies in the country, but
saying that means McCarthy was right is like saying I’m right to call
your mother a serial killer because there are serial killers in America.
Harvey Klehr, one of the experts working on the Venona project, denounced Christian right efforts to exploit his work to vindicate McCarthy, noting that McCarthy mostly just fingered innocent people in his paranoid haze.
new information from Russian and American archives does not vindicate
McCarthy. He remains a demagogue, whose wild charges actually made the
fight against communism more difficult. Like Gresham’s Law, McCarthy’s
allegations marginalized the accurate claims. Because his facts were so
often wrong, real spies were able to hide behind the cover of being one
of his victims and even persuade well-meaning but naïve people that the
whole anti-communist cause was based on inaccuracies and hysteria.
the Soviets spied on the U.S. is neither surprising—not even to
liberals—nor indicative that the communist witch hunts were an
appropriate response. The Christian right’s interest in rehabilitating
McCarthy probably has less to do with readjudicating the anti-communist
cause and more to do with their modern-day obsession with promoting
paranoid liars in the McCarthy mold to leadership positions. If they can
instill the idea that McCarthy was vindicated by history, it will be
easier to argue that the current crop of politically powerful right-wing
nuts such as Michele Bachmann and Ted Cruz will actually "be proven
right by history.” But McCarthy wasn’t and neither will they be. 2. What the Founding Fathers believed. For
people who downright deify our Founding Fathers, the religious right is
really hostile to accepting them as they actually were, which is not particularly religious,
especially by the standards of their time. But David Barton, a
revisionist "historian" whose name comes up again and again in these
kinds of discussions, has spread the belief far and wide in the Christian right that
the Founders were, in fact, fundamentalist Christians who are quite
like the ones we have today. Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas confirms
this, saying that Barton “provides the philosophical underpinning for a lot of the Republican effort in the country today.”
has convinced the right to believe in their fervent wish that the
Founders were religious and even theocratic with quote-mining and
outright lying. He likes to whip out this John Adams quote: “There
is no authority, civil or religious — there can be no legitimate
government — but what is administered by this Holy Ghost.” Problem?
Adams was summarizing the opinion of his opponents; that wasn't Adams’
view at all.
Barton’s reputation took a hit recently. His most
recent book, which tried to portray Thomas Jefferson as a “conventional
Christian” who wanted a religious government, was so bad that even his
Christian publisher decided to reject it. But according to Politico,
that’s just a small setback and Barton is quickly being restored to his
position as an authority on history for gullible right-wingers. So that
means his lies continue to grow and spread in right-wing circles—such as the completely made-up claim that the Constitution (which only mentions religion to insist the government stay out of it) is based on the Bible. 3. God’s protection. If
you believe the lie that the Founders intended this to be a religious
nation and that secularism is only a recent development, it’s not much
of a leap to decide next that God, in his anger, has turned his back on
the United States. And therefore that bad things are happening to us
because he doesn’t protect us anymore.
You see this belief
throughout the Christian right all the time. Every bad thing that
happens is blamed on God removing his “hedge of protection” from the
U.S. to punish us for turning our back on God in recent decades.School shootings. Global warming. Hurricanes. 9/11.
problem with this theory should be obvious: If God is turning away from
America because we’re supposedly becoming more secular, then things
were better back in the day. But when was this supposed Eden of American
life supposed to have happened? During the Civil War? The Gilded Age of
abusive labor practices? The Great Depression? WWI? WWII? Bad things
are always happening, so the notion that they can only be blamed on
God’s irritation with us sinners now makes no sense at all. 4. Roman civilization. The
Christian right doesn’t just like to lie about our own history; they
lie about other nations, too. A popular theory on the right is that the
Roman Empire “collapsed” because growing decadence and liberalism caused
people to, I don’t know, be too busy screwing to govern. It’s always a
little hazy, but the formula is standard: Romans started having a bunch
of sex, stuff fell apart, warning for America. Nota daygoes bythat youdon’t hearthis theoryfloated.
problem with that theory is it makes no kind of sense. It’s not really
right to suggest there was some kind decline in “moral values,” by which
the Christian right means sexual prudishness, at all. Romans were pretty uptight.The rumors that they turned all perverted and debauched were made up by Christians trying to smear pagan culture. Rome didn’t really “fall” in the sense the Christian pundits mean, anyway. It was more a gradual decline of centralized power.
Anyway, the decline coincided with the rise of Christianity, which under the “God’s protection” theory means that God was punishing Rome for dropping paganism and adopting monotheism. 5. French revolution. One
problem with characterizing the American revolution as Christian
instead of secular is that there was another one shortly thereafter,
built on the same basic ideals, that was undeniably secular due to the
aggressive attacks on Catholic power. If the French were so secular, how
could the Americans not be? The answer to the conundrum is to lie and
claim there was some kind of gulf between the ideals of the French
Revolution and the American Revolution. Rick Santorum floated this theory at the 2013 Values Voters Summit,
where he claimed the French revolutionaries were bad because they
believed that rights and democracy stem from the social contract,
instead of being handed down from God. Fair enough, though really the
“reason” is probably closer to how they would have described it at the
time, but where he goes off the rails is to insinuate that they were
rejecting the values laid out by their fellow revolutionaries in America
when they did this. In reality, the arguments of French and American
revolutionaries are nearly identical, echoing philosophers like John Locke who were trying to construct an ideal of rights and freedoms that is frankly secularist in nature.
Yesterday, the University of Minnesota's Dr. Bernadette Gillick was best known as a nationally recognized scientist for her research into how the brain recovers from injuries.
After today, she will likely be forever known for coming forward and telling the world that Scott Walker fathered a child and refused to take responsibility for it while at Marquette:
Bernadette Gillick was a college freshman in 1988 when she first met
Scott Walker. It was spring semester, and she had just transferred to
Marquette University. She was assigned a room in O’Donnell Hall (then a
women’s dormitory), which she shared with her new roommate, Ruth (not
her real name). Ruth was dating Scott Walker, who was 20 at the time,
and, according to Bernadette, Ruth was deeply in love with him.
Midway through that spring semester, Bernadette alleges, Ruth found
out she was pregnant. She informed her boyfriend, Scott, and initially
he was supportive. That support changed to callous indifference for his
girlfriend’s predicament after Scott informed his parents of the
Bernadette reports that at this point Scott began denying that he was
the father of the baby, and when Ruth said she was considering an
abortion, he claimed he didn’t care, as he wasn’t the father anyway.
Bernadette remembers being present when Ruth was dealing with the
wrath of Scott’s mother, who allegedly admonished Ruth for trying to
“ruin [her son's] reputation.”
“I supported her [Ruth] as he [Scott] went from encouraging her to
get an abortion, to telling me it was in my best interest to keep my
mouth shut, to denying that he was the father and having his own mother
call her and tell her to stop erroneously accusing her son of
paternity,” Bernadette recounts.
It was a “horrible time” for her friend. “Imagine her being 18 years
old and pregnant, walking around Marquette’s Jesuit Catholic campus with
her boyfriend denying he was the father,” says Bernadette.
All this was taking place while Walker was running for student body president. As one of his classmates, Dr. Glenn Barry recalled,
Walker’s campaign was, “one of the dirtiest in school history.” The
student newspaper Marquette Tribune called him “unfit for office” after
his campaign was discovered collecting and throwing out copies of their
paper that endorsed his opponent. Commenting on the election and
Walker’s political career and style at Marquette, he noted, “Walker lost
on all counts, but not before destroying a few people’s reputations,
and amassing personal power.”
If Bernadette’s story is true, Ruth – and eventually their child –
were just a few of the people who got in the way of Walker’s quest for
After consulting with her family, Ruth decided against an abortion.
Bernadette was with Ruth in the hospital for the birth of her child
later that year (and says Walker was not present), and later stood up as
a bridesmaid in Ruth’s 1992 marriage to another man. She says Walker
eventually had to concede that he was the father, after the birth and
Normally I would roll my eyes at such a story, but considering the
impeccable credibility of the source, I can't fathom a scenario where
what she is saying isn't true.
Also, keep in mind that Gillick is represented by Michael Fargione,
an attorney who is well-credentialed and highly respected, by both his
peers and the judiciary.
Just how nuts has the wealth-to-middle class disparity has gotten?
Read this while thinking about how the evangelicals — who once said
they follow Jesus — have become the bedrock of GOP/Ayn Rand
GREED-IS-GOOD “policy” to cut government help for the poor and middle
class and fight health care reform to give the poor medical care, while lowering taxes and regulations on the super wealthy.
To the extent that the GOP/wealth alliance depends on the
evangelicals like Ted Cruz and the Tea Party to survive, the conclusion
is inescapable: Evangelicals hate Jesus. As I show in my book And God Said, “Billy!” American evangelicals have entirely bought into the super wealthy/corporate definition of “success.”
PLEASE Read this article, and find out just what it is that the GOP and the Evangelicals really stand for when they help the GOP win…
Here’s something to read after you get done trying to figure out
how to make the mortgage or the rent or the car payment this month.
It’s a little story about how the other half lives. Well, maybe not the
other half, exactly. More like the obscenely wealthy .01%.
What do you do when you just have too darn much money? Let’s say you already have your mansion(s), your jet, your yacht, your cars, your $5,000 watches, and
you’ve still got too much money left over. (Yes, this really is a
problem some people have.) While many, many Americans are struggling to
get by, and a very few ultra-wealthy have too much money, here are five
signs that the rich are just too rich.
1) You can eat a $95,000 truffle. The restaurant Nello,
a Wall Streeter hangout in New York, offers a truffle for $95,000. A
Russian billionaire named Vladimir Potanin recently ate one. Keep in
mind that $95,000 is to a billion as 95 cents is to $10,000. If $10,000
is an amount you find too much to fathom, it’s like 9.5 cents to $1000.
(PS, enjoy the terrible reviews the place gets on Yelp.)
2) You can get a $5,000 hamburger for lunch. The Fleur de Lys restaurant in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay offers the “Fleurburger 5000″ for
$5,000. The burger consists of a Kobe beef patty “topped with a rich
truffle sauce and served on a brioche truffle bun. And this burger comes
with its own beverage, a bottle of 1990 Chateau Petrus that is served
in Ichendorf Brunello stemware that you get to keep.”
3) You can get a $500 milkshake to
go with your $5,000 hamburger. The Powder Room restaurant in Los
Angeles is selling a milkshake for $500. For your money you get “special
stuff: edible gold, Belgian chocolate, and a crystal ring.” What Next?
A lunch with a $95,000 truffle, a $5000 hamburger and a $500
milkshake doesn’t even add up to pocket change. So how about a bottle of
wine? Of course, you can’t just swill down any bottle of wine—life is
too short. So let’s go for it.
4) A bottle of 1811 Chateau d’Yquem sold at auction for $117,000. If you want a larger bottle of wine, the Le Clos wine shop in Dubai International Airport is offering three 12-liter bottles of 2009 Château Margaux for $195,000 each.
What do you look at while you are eating and drinking your awesome, and awesomely expensive, luxury?
5) A piece by Francis Bacon
sold for $142 million at an art auction. Three other pieces sold for
more than $50 million; 11 for more than $20 million; and 16 sold for
more than $10 million. An Andy Warhol piece sold for almost $60 million. Too Much In The Hands Of Too Few
This really is all about too much money in the hands of too few people. Agustino Fontevecchia at Forbes writes in “The Reason Why Francis Bacon’s ‘Lucian Freud’ Is Worth $142 Million“:
As the ultra-wealthy become even wealthier, the top-end of the art
market, along with real estate and other luxury sectors, have
experienced an incredible surge as cash is being channeled into
“The final, and possibly most important factor is the
rise of the mega-rich. “Since the recession, the wealthy appear to be
becoming even wealthier, while middle-class wages are more stagnant,”
said Galbraith, who notes this is apparent in the art market where the
high-end is experiencing more activity. “The ultra high net worth and
the newly wealthy are looking to get into the art market,” said Markley,
who notes contemporary art is accessible and acts well as a status
symbol. If the Forbes 400 is any indication, the wealthy are getting
wealthier, with the 400 richest Americans now worth a cumulative $2
trillion, up $300 billion from a year ago and with an average net worth
of a record $5 billion, an $800 million increase from a year ago.”
So what if a very few people have such enormous sums?
These expensive excesses of food, wine and art don’t really affect
regular people like you and me. But it turns out that the distortions
caused by the excesses of the ultra-wealthy affect all of us a lot.
Take the housing market. You may have noticed headlines like the following: Hedge funds crowd first-time buyers out of housing market or How Big Institutional Money Distorts Housing Prices.
If you live in certain areas of the country, like the San Francisco Bay
Area, rents are soaring and it is unimaginable that you might ever
purchase a place to live. The ultra-wealthy are purchasing houses by the
hundreds to be rented out.
Then, of course, comes the usual next step when the ultra-wealthy are
involved: they use their wealth and power to get things the rest of us
can’t. One frequent example is demands for tax cuts. In cash-strapped
Dayton, Ohio, this story: Hedge Fund Turned Property Owner Seeks Large Tax Cuts:
“Magnetar Capital LLC, investigated by the Securities and Exchange
Commission for its housing bets leading up to the property crash,
acquired a rental business in January with about 1,900 properties from
Charles H. Huber’s widow. In April, its management company applied for
the largest cut to property tax assessments in the county’s history. The
move could curb funding for public schools, the police and fire
departments and services to the disabled, said Montgomery County Auditor
A terrible, wealth-worshiping philosophy has taken hold among many of
our conservative policymakers. A couple of months ago a piece
in Forbes, Give Back? Yes, It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%, spelled out this conservative philosophy:
“The community” never gave anyone anything. The “community,” the
“society,” the “nation” is just a number of interacting individuals, not
a mystical entity floating in a cloud above them. And when some
individual person—a parent, a teacher, a customer–”gives” something to
someone else, it is not an act of charity, but a trade for value
received in return.
“[. . .] Here’s a modest proposal. Anyone who earns a million dollars
or more should be exempt from all income taxes. Yes, it’s too little.
And the real issue is not financial, but moral. So to augment the
tax-exemption, in an annual public ceremony, the year’s top earner
should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.”
The Forbes piece says that profit—no matter how attained—is
the true measure of value in society. According to one example used by
the author, Goldman Sachs has “done infinitely more for mankind” than
people like Mother Teresa. The author knows this is true because of
Goldman Sachs’ “billions in profits.”
You may remember reading that Goldman Sachs was accused of working with a hedge fund to sell “designed-to-fail” investments to
customers like pension funds, so the hedge fund could profit from
betting that the investments would fail. According to this conservative
philosophy, Goldman Sachs’ profits are a measure of the “value created”
by the “mental effort” that Goldman and the hedge fund put into
developing this scheme.
The ultra-wealth of a few may be directly related to the way many
people find themselves trying to figure out how to make their
mortgage/rent, car payments, etc. Four hundred Americans have more
wealth than half of all Americans combined, and just the six Walton
heirs have more wealth than a third of all Americans combined. Yet
companies like Walmart pays its employees so little that many of them
have to turn to the taxpayers for assistance like food stamps just to get by….
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Michele Bachmann, after complaining to
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that her insurance had been cancelled because of
Obamacare, was asked later in the day about the people who have been
uninsured and would now have insurance because of the Affordable Care
Act. She was much less sympathetic toward them.
“It’s obvious that God put two types of people in this world,” said
Bachmann. “There are hardworking Americans like myself, who have never
taken a dime of taxpayer money and there are the people who should just
hold their hands out to God.”
“If God wanted everyone to have health insurance, he wouldn’t have
made those wonderful things called, ‘miracles,’” Bachmann continued. “He
gave me the good fortune to have health insurance, for now, but even
I’ll be losing it, thanks to Obamacare.”
When informed that the majority of the uninsured are working people
and self-employed people, Bachmann said, “that’s terrific, but if they
were truly hardworking, like I am, they would have insurance. But I
don’t judge. That’s up to God and he told me that he’s going to get to
work performing miracles for the luckiest of those people. You never
know. Maybe He’ll heal a wart. Maybe He will heal a poor person’s
dandruff. Maybe He will even cure some cancer.”
When asked if perhaps it was God’s will that she would be losing
insurance, Bachmann replied, “no, that’s Obamacare. It’s all Obamacare.
He’s the anti-christ, you know. Oh, wait, I wasn’t supposed to say that
“Anyway,” Bachmann continued, “God has granted me my miracles for my
life. He gave me my Marcus and you’d better believe he left his share of
broken hearts before I managed to snag him.”
Congratulations House Speaker John Boehner for successfully enrolling in the Affordable Care Act; Aka: Obamacare.
It was about an hour after Boehner’s office said he couldn’t sign up
for Obamacare coverage on the District of Columbia’s exchange, that his
office said, he had officially enrolled.
Boehner’s office wrote, “Kept at it, and called the DC Health Link
help line. They called back a few hours later, and after restarting the
process on the website two more times, I just heard from DC Health Link
that I have been successfully enrolled.”
Responding to Boehner’s earlier failed attempts to sign
up for coverage, the District’s exchange — known as DC Health Link —
said it recently identified some system errors after enrollment.
“We recently discovered the fact that after enrollment, some users
have been receiving a random error message,” DC Health Link
communications director Richard Sorian wrote in an email. “Despite the
message, these individuals have been enrolled. Our call center has been
able to quickly resolve these matters. We are working on a system-wide
update that will eliminate this soon. Users will be able to verify their
enrollment in their secure, online account.”
Boehner’s office on Thursday afternoon said he originally received an
error screen when he tried to sign up for coverage. “Guess I’ll just
have to keep trying…” his office wrote at the time.
I plan to enroll too, but I’m not a ‘shop on Black Friday’ kind of
person. I’ve been waiting for things to settle down. After I enroll, it
will be like Boehner and I are BFFs. Isn’t that exciting?
Stuff not covered: How long did it take to enroll for coverage by an insurance company before Obamacare?
"STUDY: Nearly Three-Quarters Of Americans With Individual Plans Qualify For Obamacare Subsidies"
CREDIT: AP Photo/J. David Ake
Over 70 percent of Americans under age 65 who buy insurance through
the individual market will either qualify for Obamacare subsidies or the
health law’s expansion of Medicaid in the states that accept it,
according to a new study by Families USA.
Obamacare provides insurance subsidies to Americans making up to 400
percent of the poverty level — about $94,200 for a family of four — who
enroll in plans through the health law’s statewide marketplaces. The new
finds that 71 percent of current individual policyholders have annual
incomes that fall below this threshold. Earlier estimates by groups like
the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) estimated that just under half of these Americans could qualify for subsidies.
Families USA’s study also confirms earlier reports that the current
individual market burdens consumers with uncertainty. For instance, a
full “64.5 percent of consumers with individual market insurance kept
that insurance for a year or less” irrespective of income, according to
study authors. Many of these plans also skimp on the types of benefits
that Americans actually need when they get sick, such as maternity,
mental health, prescription drug, and even hospitalization coverage,
while placing annual and lifetime caps on coverage. The health law has
far more robust minimum coverage requirements, outlaws benefit caps, and
doesn’t allow insurers to drop customers or raise their premiums based
on health status.
Researchers also noted that just a fraction of a percent of all
non-elderly Americans have individual plans that they keep for more than
a year but won’t qualify for a government subsidy when they go out to
buy new plans through the Obamacare marketplaces.
“[U]nder the ACA, only 0.6 percent of Americans under age 65 will be
at risk of losing their current individual market plan and will not be
income-eligible for financial assistance that will make their new
insurance plan more affordable,” concluded
the authors. “Even among this 0.6 percent, some have insurers who will
not or cannot cancel their plans. Others will decide that they are
better off with higher-value plans in the new insurance marketplaces.”
I love how the right-wing media blatantly treats conservative voters like idiots, knowing that they’ll eat it right up. See, while liberals like myself often call Republicans ignorant, the right-wing media seems to feel the same way. How else could they deliberately create “outrage” over events they know to be completely inaccurate?
Because they know conservative voters are just dumb enough to fall for it. The right-wing media knows that they can simply make up almost anything they want, “report” it to the masses of conservatives just itching to find something new to hate President Obama for, and Republican voters will believe practically anything they say.
A few months ago it was “Umbrellagate” that caused conservatives to spit their venom toward the president. Then more recently it was Michelle Obama encouraging children to drink more water that seemed to offend conservatives to their very core. Now it’s President Obama not going to the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, and during his reading of that very same Gettysburg Address he didn’t utter the words “under God.”
First, let’s address his lack of attendance on the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. Here’s a fun fact for conservatives: No president since William Howard Taft, who went in 1909, has attended Gettysburg on its anniversary. Not even their hero Ronald Reagan. Who, by the way, never visited Gettysburg while he was president.
Aww, too bad. So much for that pointless conspiracy the right-wing media blatantly made up and millions of ignorant conservatives took off and ran with.
Then on to an issue many conservatives have throw an even bigger fit about — President Obama reading the Gettysburg Address without saying the words “under God.”
It’s true, in Lincoln’s speech he did say the words, “under God.” But they weren’t actually written in the original speech — which is what was given to President Obama by Civil War scholar Ken Burns. Burns gave him a version of the speech called a “Nicolay Copy.” A “Nicolay Copy” is in reference to John Nicolay, the White House staffer who preserved the speech.
Darn, strike two for made up right-wing conspiracies.
But they are a perfect 2-0 in this for proving that they are absolutely terrible at knowing United States history.
Oh, and just for good measure, our Pledge of Allegiance originally never contained the words “one nation under God” either. In fact, our pledge was written by a Christian socialist and the words “under God” weren’t added until 1954.
This “outrage” has just been another perfect example of conservatives manufacturing fake stories to use in a pathetic attempt to attack President Obama. Just more of the same from the people whose careers depend on the abject stupidity of the average conservative.
About Allen Clifton
Allen Clifton is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has a degree in Political Science. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and author of the popular Right Off A Cliff column. He is also the founder of the Right Off A Cliff facebook page, on which he routinely voices his opinions and stirs the pot for the Progressive movement. Follow Allen on Twitter as well, @Allen_Clifton.
A school board member in South Dakota is calling on Fox News to apologize because he says an erroneous report led to threats that officials be “lined up and shot” over the Pledge of Allegiance. Sioux Falls School Board member Kent Alberty told KSFY…
American people believe Congress is broken. The American people believe
the Senate is broken. And I believe the American people are right. During
this Congress – the 113th Congress – the United States Senate has
wasted an unprecedented amount of time on procedural hurdles and
partisan obstruction. As a result, the work of this country goes
undone. Congress should be passing legislation that strengthens our
economy and protects American families. Instead we’re burning wasted
hours and wasted days between filibusters.
Even one of the Senate’s most basic duties – confirmation of presidential nominees – has become completely unworkable. For the first time in history, Republicans
have routinely used the filibuster to prevent President Obama from
appointing his executive team or confirming judges.
It is a troubling trend that Republicans are willing to block
executive branch nominees even when they have no objection to the
qualifications of the nominee. Instead, they block qualified executive
branch nominees to circumvent the legislative process. They block
qualified executive branch nominees to force wholesale changes to laws.
They block qualified executive branch nominees to restructure entire
executive branch departments. And they block qualified judicial nominees
because they don’t want President Obama to appoint any judges to
The need for change is obvious. In
the history of the Republic, there have been 168 filibusters of
executive and judicial nominations. Half of them have occurred during
the Obama Administration – during the last four and a half years.
These nominees deserve at least an up-or-down vote. But Republican
filibusters deny them a fair vote and deny the President his team.
This gridlock has consequences. Terrible consequences. It is not only
bad for President Obama and bad for the United States Senate; it’s bad
for our country. It is bad for our national security and for our
That’s why it’s time to get the Senate working again – not for the
good of the current Democratic majority or some future Republican
majority, but for the good of the country. It’s time to change the
Senate, before this institution becomes obsolete. At
the beginning of this Congress, the Republican Leader pledged that,
quote, “this Congress should be more bipartisan than the last Congress.”
We’re told in scripture that, “When a man makes a vow... he must not
break his word.” Numbers 30-2. In January, Republicans promised to work
with the majority to process nominations… in a timely manner by
unanimous consent, except in extraordinary circumstances.
Exactly three weeks later, Republicans mounted a first-in-history
filibuster of a highly qualified nominee for Secretary of Defense.
Despite being a former Republican Senator and a decorated war hero, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s nomination was pending in the Senate for a record 34 days, more than three times the previous average. Remember, our country was at war. Republicans have blocked executive branch nominees
like Secretary Hagel not because they object to the qualifications of
the nominee, but simply because they seek to undermine the very
government in which they were elected to serve.
Take the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau. There was no doubt about Mr. Cordray’s ability to do
the job. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the brainchild
of Senator Elizabeth Warren – went for more than two years without a
leader, because Republicans refused to accept the law of the land –
because they wanted to roll back a law that protects consumers from the
greed of big Wall Street banks. I say to my Republican colleagues, you
don’t have to like the laws of the land. But you do have to respect
those laws, acknowledge them and abide them.
Similar obstruction continued unabated for seven more months, until
Democrats threatened to change Senate rules to allow up-or-down votes on
executive nominees. In July, after obstructing dozens of executive
nominees for months, and some for years, Republicans once again promised
that they would end their unprecedented obstruction.
One look at the Senate’s Executive Calendar shows nothing has changed
since July. Republicans have continued their record obstruction as if
no agreement had ever been reached. Republicans have continued their
record obstruction as if no vow had ever been made. There are currently
75 executive branch nominees ready to be confirmed by the Senate that
have been waiting an average of 140 days for confirmation. One executive
nominee to the agency that safeguards the water our children and
grandchildren drink and the air they breathe has waited more than 800
days for confirmation. We
agreed in July that the Senate should be confirming nominees to ensure
the proper functioning of government. But consistent and unprecedented
obstruction by the Republican Caucus has turned “advise and consent”
into “deny and obstruct.”
In addition to filibustering a nominee for Secretary of Defense for the first time in history, Senate Republicans also blocked a sitting member of Congress from an Administration position for the first time since 1843.
As a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee,
Congressman Mel Watt’s understanding of the mistakes that led to the
housing crisis made him uniquely qualified to serve as administrator of
the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Senate Republicans simply don’t like
the consumer protections Congressman Watt was nominated to develop and
implement. So they denied a fellow member of Congress and a graduate of
Yale Law School even the courtesy of an up-or-down vote.
In the last three weeks alone, Republicans have blocked up-or-down
votes on three highly qualified nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of
Appeals, considered by many to be the second highest court in the land.
Republicans have blocked four of President Obama’s five nominees to the
D.C. Circuit, whereas Democrats approved four of President Bush’s six
nominees to this important court. Today, 25 percent of the D.C. Circuit Court is vacant.
There isn’t a single legitimate objection to the qualifications of any
of these nominees. Yet Republicans refused to give them an up-or-down
vote – a simple yes-or-no vote. Republicans simply don’t want President
Obama to make any appointments at all to this vital court.
Further, only 23 district court nominees have been filibustered in
the entire history of this country. Twenty of them were nominated by
President Obama. With one out of every 10 federal judgeships vacant,
millions of Americans who rely on courts that are overworked and
understaffed are being denied the justice they rightly deserve. More
than half the nation’s population lives in a part of the country that’s
been declared a “judicial emergency.” The American people are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock.
The American people – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – are fed
up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock. The American people want
Washington to work for American families once again.
I am on their side, which is why I propose an important change to the
rules of the United States Senate. The present Republican Leader
himself said, “The Senate has repeatedly changed its rules as
circumstances dictate.” He is right. In fact, the Senate has changed its
rules 18 times by sustaining or overturning the ruling of the presiding
officer in the last 36 years, during the tenures of both Republican and
The change we propose today would ensure executive and judicial
nominees get an up-or-down vote on confirmation – yes or no. This rule
change will make cloture for all nominations other than Supreme Court nominees a majority threshold vote – yes or no.
The Senate is a living thing. And to survive, it must change. To the average American, adapting the rules to make Congress work again is just common sense.
This is not about Democrats versus Republicans. This is about making
Washington work – regardless of who’s in the White House or who controls
the Senate. To remain relevant and effective as an institution, The
Senate must evolve to meet the challenges of a modern era.
I have no doubt my Republican colleague will argue the fault lies
with Democrats. I can say from experience that no one’s hands are
entirely clean on this issue. But today the important distinction is not
between Democrats and Republicans. It is between those who are willing
to help break the gridlock in Washington and those who defend the status
Today Democrats and Independents are saying enough is enough. This
change to the rules regarding presidential nominees will apply equally
to both parties. When Republicans are in power, these changes will apply
to them as well. That’s simple fairness. And it’s something both sides
should be willing to live with to make Washington work again.
Americans for Prosperity, the arch-conservative advocacy group backed
largely by the Koch Brothers, released their latest attack ad against
Obamacare on Wednesday, criticizing Alaskan Democratic Senator Mark
Begich for his support of the Affordable Care Act.
The commercial in question appears to feature an unidentified Alaskan
voter, who complains about the betrayal at the hands of both Begich and
Obama, while walking leisurely around her kitchen with a cup of coffee.
But Connie Bowman, the woman in the video was interviewed by the New York Times, and she said she's “just an actress,” with a fairly prolific voice-over and commercial career.
And she doesn't live anywhere near Alaska. She lives in Maryland.
“Today’s misleading ad from the Koch brothers is just more evidence
that even billions of dollars can’t buy integrity,” Begich spokeswoman
Rachel Barinbaum said in a statement.
The ad comes days after the billionaire brothers announced their $4
million anti-Obamacare advertising campaign, sponsored by the Americans
for Prosperity, which plans to target six congressional democrats who
supported the Affordable Care Act. Begich is just the first.
Begich, who is currently up for reelection in the red state,
described his plans on Tuesday for legislation that calls for creating a
new category of insurance plans within Obamacare that would offer
citizens lower premiums with higher out-of-pocket costs.
Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City with a passion for music, film and culture. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.
"Fox News Pundit Says End Of Judicial Filibuster Could Lead To ‘Military Coup’"
Fox News commentator Charles W. Cooke on Thursday warned that the
recent move from the Senate to end filibusters on judicial nominees
could lead to a “military coup.”
Cooke, who is also a National Review columnist,
was speaking to Fox News host Gretchen Carlson on Thursday afternoon
when he made the leap of logic. “I think it is fairly clear they want to
distract from the Obamacare disaster, but this is something they wanted
to do for awhile,” Cooke said of the decision to allow for a simple
majority to pass nominees through the Senate. “They are very frustrated
that Republicans have been blocking their nominations as they blocked
Republican nominees when Bush was president.”
After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pulled the trigger on the so-called “nuclear option,”
President Obama addressed the press to defend the Democrats’ choice.
“Over the past five years we’ve seen an unprecedented pattern of
obstruction in Congress that’s prevented too much of the American
people’s business from getting done,” Obama said. The result, Obama
continued, is that his nominees have languished in the Senate two and a
half times as long as those put forward under the George W. Bush’s
Cooke did not take Obama’s comments well, paraphrasing the president
as having said “the American business is far too important for the
rules.” “Well, how far do you take that?” Cooke pondered aloud. “You
could just ignore the House. You could have a military coup, you could
have anything at the end of this.”
Watch his comments here:
In reality, the change to the filibuster’s sixty-vote threshold was
one that is narrowly tailored and will not lead to tanks rolling through
the streets of Washington. As ThinkProgress earlier pointed out,
the number of times where cloture had to be filed to overcome a
filibuster has skyrocketed since Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took over
as Senate Minority leader. In total, nearly 3 in 10 cloture motions in the history of the Senate have been invoked since then.
The new rule put into place through the nuclear option doesn’t affect
legislation, instead only being relegated to nominees for federal
positions and courts. This leaves it impossible that the House’s opinion
will ever need to be ignored, as only the Senate has the advice and
consent power under debate at present, meaning that further changes
would be required to allow before it would come into play. While further
changes to the filibuster are possible,
ignoring the House or Obama colluding with his generals to usurp over
democracy — unlike reforming the filibuster — would also violate the
Constitution, making it unlikely for either scenario to come from
today’s actions. (HT: Eric Boehlert)
Rand Paul Throws a Tantrum on CNN and Calls Harry Reid A Big Bully
By: Jason Easley and Sarah Jones
Thursday, November, 21st, 2013, 3:27 pm
The crying has only just begun now that Republicans won’t be able to
hold up judicial and executive branch nominees (the filibuster rule
changes do not apply to SCOTUS nominees or legislation). Mitch
McConnell’s spokesperson inaccurately accused Obama of court packing,
and now Rand Paul started a whine fest on CNN during which he complained
that Republicans need an anti-bullying ordinance to protect them from
“dictator” Harry Reid.
Senator Rand Paul said on CNN, “I think what we really need is an
anti-bullying ordinance in the Senate. I mean, now we’ve got a big
bully, Harry Reid says he’s just going to break the rules and make new
rules. Never been done this way before.”
“He’s gotta have everything his way, he’s gotta control everything.
This is more about them trying to control the agenda and shift it away
from Obamacare than it is about anything else. Basically, he’s become
the dictator of the Senate. He’s going to bend and break the rules to
get his way.”
Rand Paul has been one of the main sources of Republican obstruction
in the Senate, so it isn’t a surprise that he would cry a river over the
fact that he has lost a critical tool that he has used both to gum up
the works and call attention to himself.
Harry Reid’s rule change will
make it a lot more difficult for look at me 2016 Republican wannabes
like Paul and Ted Cruz to use obstructing the Senate to further their
presidential ambitions. Obstruction of nominees will no longer be a
prime PR tool for Sen. Paul as he daydreams about a presidency that may
The root problem is that Rand Paul rejects the purpose of the
Senate. Sen. Paul doesn’t believe in passing laws. Rand Paul thinks he
is in the Senate to prevent progress. If Paul can’t obstruct, he serves
no purpose in the Senate.
Sen. Paul is throwing a tantrum because he had his favorite toy taken
away. Instead of looking like a visionary leader for America’s future,
Rand Paul is stomping his feet because Republicans are no longer going
to get their obstructionist way on everything.
Mostly though, Rand Paul is upset because he lost a vehicle to promote Rand Paul.
Rand Paul Throws a Tantrum on CNN and Calls Harry Reid A Big Bully was written by Jason Easley and Sarah Jones for PoliticusUSA.
According to Fox News, this woman is likely a scammer, alcoholic, or addict who doesn’t deserve your help. CREDIT: AP
I don’t throw around the term “hero” lightly, but it takes a special
kind of person to look at a homeless man on the street — with no home to
stay warm in, little access to a shower or clean clothes, and few
possessions — and decide that he’s got it too good. But Fox Business
host John Stossel bravely took up that mantle Thursday morning during a
guest appearance on Fox & Friends, warning viewers about the
perniciousness of giving money to the poor.
Donning a fake beard, Stossel sat on a New York City sidewalk with a
cardboard sign asking people for help. “I just begged for an hour but I
did well,” he said. “If I did this for an eight-hour day I would’ve made
90 bucks. Twenty-three thou for a year. Tax-free.”
Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who recently purchased a $4 million home
in Greenwich, gasped in horror at the prospect of poor people earning
$23,000 a year. Some people asking for money “are actually scammers,”
Hasselbeck warned, seemingly unaware of the irony that the only
panhandling “scammer” Fox News identified was Stossel.
Because he was able to successfully convince good-hearted pedestrians
that he was poor, Stossel went on to chastise people who gave the
homeless money because, in his view, “most are not…for real.”
He implored viewers to stop giving money to poor people because if you do, “you’re an enabler.”
Watch the segment:
There are a multitude of incorrect claims and assumptions in this short segment:
$23,000 per year: Stossel spent a single hour on the streets and was given approximately $11 by people who wanted to help out someone in need. Therefore, Stossel assumes he would make $23,000 per year. (That figure is actually a steep drop from Stossel’s claims in the past, that he knew of beggars who made $80,000 per year panhandling.) There are a multitude of false assumptions here. First, one of the only scientific surveys of panhandlers found that the vast majority made $25 per day or less, annualized at just over $9,000. Second, $9,000 — or even $23,000 — is difficult to survive on, especially in a city like New York where the median apartment rents for more than $3,000 in Manhattan and more than $2,500 in Brooklyn. Third, spending 8 hours a day asking for money is time that can’t be spent going to classes, gaining skills, picking up diapers for a crying child, or interviewing for a job.
Homeless people “are actually scammers”: Hasselbeck noted that “scammers” were rife among beggars, implying that panhandling is some get-rich-quick scheme engaged in by hucksters. Stossel agreed, saying that most beggars were not “for real.” Their only evidence for this claim? The fact that Stossel spent an hour undercover as a homeless person and was able to fool people into believing he was needy. An actual study of beggars, on the other hand, found that 82 percent were homeless, two in three were disabled, most earned less than $25 per day, and nearly all used the money for food. If Stossel and Hasselbeck truly do believe there is a scourge of well-off people acting as though they’re impoverished so they can successfully panhandle — nobody’s idea of a fun time — what would Stossel have people do? Ask beggars for a tax return before giving them a buck?
Drugs and alcohol: Stossel cautions that well-intentioned people are actually enabling bad behavior because poor people will just use the money for drugs and alcohol. But that’s not what the data shows. While some do use the money for drugs and alcohol, most don’t. What did a survey find 94 percent of panhandlers used the money for? Food.
Chastising beggars is an annual tradition for Stossel: Pretending to be poor and homeless is becoming an annual tradition for Stossel. Here’s his 2011 segment, his 2012 segment, and now his 2013 segment. Some journalists use their perch to give voice to the voiceless. Stossel’s hobby horse, on the other hand, is apparently to convince Fox viewers that poor people are too well off.
Privilege: “I felt foolish and uncomfortable,” Stossel said of the experience, right after imploring viewers not to give poor people the dignity of believing they are actually poor instead of drunks, addicts, or scammers. Watching four wealthy white people sit in a New York television studio and banter about the evils of giving money to homeless people is like waking up the day after your 21st birthday: it’s not surprising, but still painful.
Only Stossel would be capable of benefiting from people’s generosity, and then deciding that they were rubes with too much holiday spirit and we should really all be grinches who are suspicious of one another. War on Christmas, indeed.
Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Thursday warned Oprah Winfrey that she “undermines racism” by pointing out that some of President Barack Obama’s critics disliked him because of the color of his skin. “There is a level of disrespect for…
How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power
of a link between the US first family and the Nazi war machine have
circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of
events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act
are still being felt by today's president
George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a
director and shareholder of companies that profited from their
involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany. The Guardian
has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National
Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved
with the financial architects of Nazism.
His business dealings,
which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under
the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a
civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush
family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of
The evidence has also prompted one
former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's
action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and
comfort to the enemy.
The debate over Prescott Bush's behaviour
has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a
steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it
inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only
declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war
and when there was already significant information about the Nazis'
plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely
involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to
power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these
dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its
Remarkably, little of Bush's dealings with
Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret
status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion
dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the
Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject
are threatening to make Prescott Bush's business history an
uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.
While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was
sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he
worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the
German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the
1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian
has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New
York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen's US
interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered
the war. Tantalising
Bush was also on the
board of at least one of the companies that formed part of a
multinational network of front companies to allow Thyssen to move assets
around the world.
Thyssen owned the largest steel and coal
company in Germany and grew rich from Hitler's efforts to re-arm between
the two world wars. One of the pillars in Thyssen's international
corporate web, UBC, worked exclusively for, and was owned by, a
Thyssen-controlled bank in the Netherlands. More tantalising are Bush's
links to the Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC), based in
mineral rich Silesia on the German-Polish border. During the war, the
company made use of Nazi slave labour from the concentration camps,
including Auschwitz. The ownership of CSSC changed hands several times
in the 1930s, but documents from the US National Archive declassified
last year link Bush to CSSC, although it is not clear if he and UBC were
still involved in the company when Thyssen's American assets were
seized in 1942.
Three sets of archives spell out Prescott Bush's
involvement. All three are readily available, thanks to the efficient
US archive system and a helpful and dedicated staff at both the Library
of Congress in Washington and the National Archives at the University of
The first set of files, the Harriman papers in the
Library of Congress, show that Prescott Bush was a director and
shareholder of a number of companies involved with Thyssen.
second set of papers, which are in the National Archives, are contained
in vesting order number 248 which records the seizure of the company
assets. What these files show is that on October 20 1942 the alien
property custodian seized the assets of the UBC, of which Prescott Bush
was a director. Having gone through the books of the bank, further
seizures were made against two affiliates, the Holland-American Trading
Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. By November,
the Silesian-American Company, another of Prescott Bush's ventures, had
also been seized.
The third set of documents, also at the
National Archives, are contained in the files on IG Farben, who was
prosecuted for war crimes.
A report issued by the Office of
Alien Property Custodian in 1942 stated of the companies that "since
1939, these (steel and mining) properties have been in possession of and
have been operated by the German government and have undoubtedly been
of considerable assistance to that country's war effort".
Bush, a 6ft 4in charmer with a rich singing voice, was the founder of
the Bush political dynasty and was once considered a potential
presidential candidate himself. Like his son, George, and grandson,
George W, he went to Yale where he was, again like his descendants, a
member of the secretive and influential Skull and Bones student society.
He was an artillery captain in the first world war and married Dorothy
Walker, the daughter of George Herbert Walker, in 1921.
his father-in-law, a well-known St Louis investment banker, helped set
him up in business in New York with Averill Harriman, the wealthy son of
railroad magnate E H Harriman in New York, who had gone into banking.
of the first jobs Walker gave Bush was to manage UBC. Bush was a
founding member of the bank and the incorporation documents, which list
him as one of seven directors, show he owned one share in UBC worth
The bank was set up by Harriman and Bush's father-in-law
to provide a US bank for the Thyssens, Germany's most powerful
August Thyssen, the founder of the dynasty
had been a major contributor to Germany's first world war effort and in
the 1920s, he and his sons Fritz and Heinrich established a network of
overseas banks and companies so their assets and money could be whisked
offshore if threatened again.
By the time Fritz Thyssen
inherited the business empire in 1926, Germany's economic recovery was
faltering. After hearing Adolf Hitler speak, Thyssen became mesmerised
by the young firebrand. He joined the Nazi party in December 1931 and
admits backing Hitler in his autobiography, I Paid Hitler, when the
National Socialists were still a radical fringe party. He stepped in
several times to bail out the struggling party: in 1928 Thyssen had
bought the Barlow Palace on Briennerstrasse, in Munich, which Hitler
converted into the Brown House, the headquarters of the Nazi party. The
money came from another Thyssen overseas institution, the Bank voor
Handel en Scheepvarrt in Rotterdam.
By the late 1930s, Brown
Brothers Harriman, which claimed to be the world's largest private
investment bank, and UBC had bought and shipped millions of dollars of
gold, fuel, steel, coal and US treasury bonds to Germany, both feeding
and financing Hitler's build-up to war.
Between 1931 and 1933
UBC bought more than $8m worth of gold, of which $3m was shipped abroad.
According to documents seen by the Guardian, after UBC was set up it
transferred $2m to BBH accounts and between 1924 and 1940 the assets of
UBC hovered around $3m, dropping to $1m only on a few occasions.
1941, Thyssen fled Germany after falling out with Hitler but he was
captured in France and detained for the remainder of the war.
was nothing illegal in doing business with the Thyssens throughout the
1930s and many of America's best-known business names invested heavily
in the German economic recovery. However, everything changed after
Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Even then it could be argued that BBH
was within its rights continuing business relations with the Thyssens
until the end of 1941 as the US was still technically neutral until the
attack on Pearl Harbor. The trouble started on July 30 1942 when the
New York Herald-Tribune ran an article entitled "Hitler's Angel Has $3m
in US Bank". UBC's huge gold purchases had raised suspicions that the
bank was in fact a "secret nest egg" hidden in New York for Thyssen and
other Nazi bigwigs. The Alien Property Commission (APC) launched an
There is no dispute over the fact that the US
government seized a string of assets controlled by BBH - including UBC
and SAC - in the autumn of 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy act.
What is in dispute is if Harriman, Walker and Bush did more than own
these companies on paper.
Erwin May, a treasury attache and
officer for the department of investigation in the APC, was assigned to
look into UBC's business. The first fact to emerge was that Roland
Harriman, Prescott Bush and the other directors didn't actually own
their shares in UBC but merely held them on behalf of Bank voor Handel.
Strangely, no one seemed to know who owned the Rotterdam-based bank,
including UBC's president.
May wrote in his report of August
16 1941: "Union Banking Corporation, incorporated August 4 1924, is
wholly owned by the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart N.V of Rotterdam,
the Netherlands. My investigation has produced no evidence as to the
ownership of the Dutch bank. Mr Cornelis [sic] Lievense, president of
UBC, claims no knowledge as to the ownership of the Bank voor Handel but
believes it possible that Baron Heinrich Thyssen, brother of Fritz
Thyssen, may own a substantial interest."
May cleared the bank
of holding a golden nest egg for the Nazi leaders but went on to
describe a network of companies spreading out from UBC across Europe,
America and Canada, and how money from voor Handel travelled to these
companies through UBC.
By September May had traced the origins
of the non-American board members and found that Dutchman HJ Kouwenhoven
- who met with Harriman in 1924 to set up UBC - had several other jobs:
in addition to being the managing director of voor Handel he was also
the director of the August Thyssen bank in Berlin and a director of
Fritz Thyssen's Union Steel Works, the holding company that controlled
Thyssen's steel and coal mine empire in Germany.
Within a few
weeks, Homer Jones, the chief of the APC investigation and research
division sent a memo to the executive committee of APC recommending the
US government vest UBC and its assets. Jones named the directors of the
bank in the memo, including Prescott Bush's name, and wrote: "Said stock
is held by the above named individuals, however, solely as nominees for
the Bank voor Handel, Rotterdam, Holland, which is owned by one or more
of the Thyssen family, nationals of Germany and Hungary. The 4,000
shares hereinbefore set out are therefore beneficially owned and help
for the interests of enemy nationals, and are vestible by the APC,"
according to the memo from the National Archives seen by the Guardian.
Jones recommended that the assets
be liquidated for the benefit of the government, but instead UBC was
maintained intact and eventually returned to the American shareholders
after the war. Some claim that Bush sold his share in UBC after the war
for $1.5m - a huge amount of money at the time - but there is no
documentary evidence to support this claim. No further action was ever
taken nor was the investigation continued, despite the fact UBC was
caught red-handed operating a American shell company for the Thyssen
family eight months after America had entered the war and that this was
the bank that had partly financed Hitler's rise to power.
most tantalising part of the story remains shrouded in mystery: the
connection, if any, between Prescott Bush, Thyssen, Consolidated
Silesian Steel Company (CSSC) and Auschwitz.
in United Steel Works, which had coal mines and steel plants across the
region, was Friedrich Flick, another steel magnate who also owned part
of IG Farben, the powerful German chemical company.
plants in Poland made heavy use of slave labour from the concentration
camps in Poland. According to a New York Times article published in
March 18 1934 Flick owned two-thirds of CSSC while "American interests"
held the rest.
The US National Archive documents show that BBH's
involvement with CSSC was more than simply holding the shares in the
mid-1930s. Bush's friend and fellow "bonesman" Knight Woolley, another
partner at BBH, wrote to Averill Harriman in January 1933 warning of
problems with CSSC after the Poles started their drive to nationalise
the plant. "The Consolidated Silesian Steel Company situation has become
increasingly complicated, and I have accordingly brought in Sullivan
and Cromwell, in order to be sure that our interests are protected,"
wrote Knight. "After studying the situation Foster Dulles is insisting
that their man in Berlin get into the picture and obtain the information
which the directors here should have. You will recall that Foster is a
director and he is particularly anxious to be certain that there is no
liability attaching to the American directors."
ownership of the CSSC between 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland and
1942 when the US government vested UBC and SAC is not clear.
held coal mines and definitely owned CSSC between 1934 and 1935, but
when SAC was vested there was no trace of CSSC. All concrete evidence of
its ownership disappears after 1935 and there are only a few traces in
1938 and 1939," says Eva Schweitzer, the journalist and author whose
book, America and the Holocaust, is published next month.
was quickly made part of the German Reich after the invasion, but while
Polish factories were seized by the Nazis, those belonging to the still
neutral Americans (and some other nationals) were treated more
carefully as Hitler was still hoping to persuade the US to at least sit
out the war as a neutral country. Schweitzer says American interests
were dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The Nazis bought some out, but
The two Holocaust survivors suing the US government
and the Bush family for a total of $40bn in compensation claim both
materially benefited from Auschwitz slave labour during the second world
Kurt Julius Goldstein, 87, and Peter Gingold, 85, began a
class action in America in 2001, but the case was thrown out by Judge
Rosemary Collier on the grounds that the government cannot be held
liable under the principle of "state sovereignty".
one of the lawyers for the survivors, said: "President Bush withdrew
President Bill Clinton's signature from the treaty [that founded the
court] not only to protect Americans, but also to protect himself and
Lissmann argues that genocide-related cases are
covered by international law, which does hold governments accountable
for their actions. He claims the ruling was invalid as no hearing took
In their claims, Mr Goldstein and Mr Gingold, honorary
chairman of the League of Anti-fascists, suggest the Americans were
aware of what was happening at Auschwitz and should have bombed the
The lawyers also filed a motion in The Hague asking for an
opinion on whether state sovereignty is a valid reason for refusing to
hear their case. A ruling is expected within a month.
petition to The Hague states: "From April 1944 on, the American Air
Force could have destroyed the camp with air raids, as well as the
railway bridges and railway lines from Hungary to Auschwitz. The
murder of about 400,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims could have been
The case is built around a January 22 1944 executive
order signed by President Franklin Roosevelt calling on the government
to take all measures to rescue the European Jews. The lawyers claim the
order was ignored because of pressure brought by a group of big American
companies, including BBH, where Prescott Bush was a director.
said: "If we have a positive ruling from the court it will cause
[president] Bush huge problems and make him personally liable to pay
The US government and the Bush family deny all the claims against them.
addition to Eva Schweitzer's book, two other books are about to be
published that raise the subject of Prescott Bush's business history.
The author of the second book, to be published next year, John Loftus,
is a former US attorney who prosecuted Nazi war criminals in the 70s.
Now living in St Petersburg, Florida and earning his living as a
security commentator for Fox News and ABC radio, Loftus is working on a
novel which uses some of the material he has uncovered on Bush. Loftus
stressed that what Prescott Bush was involved in was just what many
other American and British businessmen were doing at the time.
can't blame Bush for what his grandfather did any more than you can
blame Jack Kennedy for what his father did - bought Nazi stocks - but
what is important is the cover-up, how it could have gone on so
successfully for half a century, and does that have implications for us
today?" he said.
"This was the mechanism by which Hitler was
funded to come to power, this was the mechanism by which the Third
Reich's defence industry was re-armed, this was the mechanism by which
Nazi profits were repatriated back to the American owners, this was the
mechanism by which investigations into the financial laundering of the
Third Reich were blunted," said Loftus, who is vice-chairman of the
Holocaust Museum in St Petersburg.
"The Union Banking
Corporation was a holding company for the Nazis, for Fritz Thyssen,"
said Loftus. "At various times, the Bush family has tried to spin it,
saying they were owned by a Dutch bank and it wasn't until the Nazis
took over Holland that they realised that now the Nazis controlled the
apparent company and that is why the Bush supporters claim when the war
was over they got their money back. Both the American treasury
investigations and the intelligence investigations in Europe completely
bely that, it's absolute horseshit. They always knew who the ultimate
"There is no one left alive who could be
prosecuted but they did get away with it," said Loftus. "As a former
federal prosecutor, I would make a case for Prescott Bush, his
father-in-law (George Walker) and Averill Harriman [to be prosecuted]
for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. They remained on the boards of
these companies knowing that they were of financial benefit to the
nation of Germany."
Loftus said Prescott Bush must have been
aware of what was happening in Germany at the time. "My take on him was
that he was a not terribly successful in-law who did what Herbert Walker
told him to. Walker and Harriman were the two evil geniuses, they
didn't care about the Nazis any more than they cared about their
investments with the Bolsheviks."
What is also at issue is how
much money Bush made from his involvement. His supporters suggest that
he had one token share. Loftus disputes this, citing sources in "the
banking and intelligence communities" and suggesting that the Bush
family, through George Herbert Walker and Prescott, got $1.5m out of the
involvement. There is, however, no paper trail to this sum.
third person going into print on the subject is John Buchanan, 54, a
Miami-based magazine journalist who started examining the files while
working on a screenplay. Last year, Buchanan published his findings in
the venerable but small-circulation New Hampshire Gazette under the
headline "Documents in National Archives Prove George Bush's Grandfather
Traded With the Nazis - Even After Pearl Harbor". He expands on this in
his book to be published next month - Fixing America: Breaking the
Stranglehold of Corporate Rule, Big Media and the Religious Right.
the article, Buchanan, who has worked mainly in the trade and music
press with a spell as a muckraking reporter in Miami, claimed that "the
essential facts have appeared on the internet and in relatively obscure
books but were dismissed by the media and Bush family as undocumented
Buchanan suffers from hypermania, a form of manic
depression, and when he found himself rebuffed in his initial efforts to
interest the media, he responded with a series of threats against the
journalists and media outlets that had spurned him. The threats,
contained in e-mails, suggested that he would expose the journalists as
"traitors to the truth".
Unsurprisingly, he soon had difficulty
getting his calls returned. Most seriously, he faced aggravated stalking
charges in Miami, in connection with a man with whom he had fallen out
over the best way to publicise his findings. The charges were dropped
last month. Biography
Buchanan said he
regretted his behaviour had damaged his credibility but his main aim was
to secure publicity for the story. Both Loftus and Schweitzer say
Buchanan has come up with previously undisclosed documentation.
Bush family have largely responded with no comment to any reference to
Prescott Bush. Brown Brothers Harriman also declined to comment.
Bush family recently approved a flattering biography of Prescott Bush
entitled Duty, Honour, Country by Mickey Herskowitz. The publishers,
Rutledge Hill Press, promised the book would "deal honestly with
Prescott Bush's alleged business relationships with Nazi industrialists
and other accusations".
In fact, the allegations are dealt with
in less than two pages. The book refers to the Herald-Tribune story by
saying that "a person of less established ethics would have panicked ...
Bush and his partners at Brown Brothers Harriman informed the
government regulators that the account, opened in the late 1930s, was
'an unpaid courtesy for a client' ... Prescott Bush acted quickly and
openly on behalf of the firm, served well by a reputation that had never
been compromised. He made available all records and all documents.
Viewed six decades later in the era of serial corporate scandals and
shattered careers, he received what can be viewed as the ultimate clean
The Prescott Bush story has been condemned by both
conservatives and some liberals as having nothing to do with the current
president. It has also been suggested that Prescott Bush had little to
do with Averill Harriman and that the two men opposed each other
However, documents from the Harriman papers include
a flattering wartime profile of Harriman in the New York Journal
American and next to it in the files is a letter to the financial editor
of that paper from Prescott Bush congratulating the paper for running
the profile. He added that Harriman's "performance and his whole
attitude has been a source of inspiration and pride to his partners and
The Anti-Defamation League in the US is supportive
of Prescott Bush and the Bush family. In a statement last year they
said that "rumours about the alleged Nazi 'ties' of the late Prescott
Bush ... have circulated widely through the internet in recent years.
These charges are untenable and politically motivated ... Prescott Bush
was neither a Nazi nor a Nazi sympathiser."
However, one of the country's oldest Jewish publications, the Jewish Advocate, has aired the controversy in detail.
than 60 years after Prescott Bush came briefly under scrutiny at the
time of a faraway war, his grandson is facing a different kind of
scrutiny but one underpinned by the same perception that, for some
people, war can be a profitable business.