The Michigan Militia Corps'

Weekly Update
Internet Edition

Volume 5, Issue 12

Week of April 6, 1998

Armey's tart speech draws Clinton's ire

By Sean Scully

House Majority Leader Dick Armey's remarks in a speech in Texas that President Clinton is "shameless" and should consider resigning prompted the White House yesterday to declare the Texas Republican a member of a right-wing conspiracy working with independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.

Despite the White House attack, Mr. Armey did not back away from the pointed remarks he made Monday to a high school government class in Coppell, Texas.

"If it were me that had documented personal conduct along the lines of the president's, I would be so filled with shame that I would resign. I believe [Mr. Clinton] is a shameless person," Mr. Armey told the class.

Mr. Armey is the highest ranking Republican to criticize the president's behavior as the ongoing sex-and-perjury probe focuses on Mr. Clinton's purported relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

"I stand by my remarks, which reinforced the importance of personal responsibility," Mr. Armey said in a later statement released by his office in Washington. "I could not let these children think this president is a good role model."

His comments "reinforced the importance of personal responsibility," he said. "Parents expect this standard from teachers, football coaches and CEOs. We should be able to expect the same from the president."

Armey spokeswoman Michele Davis said the Democratic attack on Mr. Armey "just shows how far they are out of touch with American parents" who are struggling with ways to handle the scandal with their children.

White House spokesmen were quickly mobilized. "It's just a partisan attempt ... from the right-wing Republicans to form an alliance with Ken Starr in a very partisan investigation, try to use it for their partisan advantage," Clinton adviser Paul Begala said on CNN.

"Like we say in Texas, if goofy ideas ever go to $40 a barrel, I want the drilling rights to Dick Armey's head. He just comes up with these goofy notions."

White House spokesman Barry Toiv said Mr. Clinton is probably aware of Mr. Armey's comments, but "the president doesn't really have time to listen to things like that."

The president himself, on a trip to Kansas City, Mo., pointedly ignored questions about Mr. Armey's comments. Pressed by a reporter, he said only, "Have a nice day."

Republican leaders have avoided discussing the growing scandal, fearing strong rhetoric could compromise an impeachment proceeding in the House. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Georgia Republican, distanced himself from the specifics of Mr. Armey's comments.

"Dick Armey is a very smart man, and he represents a lot of people who feel very deeply" about the scandal, Mr. Gingrich said yesterday on NBC's "Today" show.

"I think that the president should tell the country the truth," Mr. Gingrich said on the NBC program. "I think there's something suspicious when you say my lawyers won't let me tell you the truth, because they're not sure which truth will survive in court."

But he cautioned, "I think that the rest of us ought to be patient and wait for Judge Starr to report."

House leaders say they are waiting for the results of Mr. Starr's investigation. While they have said little publicly about impeachment, House Republicans agreed last week to give the Judiciary Committee an extra $1.3 million, which could be used to pay for an impeachment investigation.

The president, who promised in January to answer questions about his behavior, has since either ignored questions altogether or said his lawyers directed him not to comment, although he is no longer under any court instructions to avoid talking about the scandal. A U.S. District Court in Little Rock last week dismissed a sexual harassment suit against him filed by former state employee Paula Jones, who said Mr. Clinton exposed himself and propositioned her in a Little Rock hotel when he was governor of Arkansas.

That civil lawsuit was the source of many of the sexual allegations investigated by Mr. Starr. Democrats said both the civil suit and Mr. Starr's investigations are politically motivated attacks on the president.

At the high school Monday, Mr. Armey told the students the president would not resign because "His basic credo in life is, 'I will do whatever I can get away with.'"

"I think in the end, he's going to end up a heartbroken man who left nothing but a trail of heartbreak behind him," Mr. Armey said. "So I feel very badly for him."

Before Mr. Armey's comments, the highest-level attack on the president had come from House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican.

In a speech last month in the House, Mr. DeLay called on the president to discuss the scandal publicly, something he has largely refused to do. On Sunday, he said, "I do believe after looking at all that's going on that this president could very well be a sexual predator, and he has committed some heinous acts."

Federal Grant Intended to Fight Drugs Funds Drag Queen Text

"Crack users are not understood by policy makers," prof complains
Daniel J. Flynn Campus Report

A new college text purports to "celebrate the lives" of "African-Americans, drug using, street walking hustlers who are gay men but dress and view themselves as women." The book's research was funded by a $417,402 grant issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services intended to fight drug use.

Honey, Honey, Miss Thang: Being Black, Gay, and on the Streets, the work of Indiana University Professor Leon E. Pettiway, is 270-pages of autobiographical narratives from five self-described "drag queens" -- Shontae, China, Detra, Keisha, and Monique. The newly released text has sparked controversy as required reading in the Wabash College freshman tutorial "Between God and Gangsta Rap: Religion and Popular Culture in American Life." The course examines the Pettiway text alongside of rap music performers Bone Thugs `n' Harmony and the movie Seven.

A representative from Temple University Press, the book's publisher, told Campus Report that they had "many bulk orders" from college bookstores for the text. After further inquiry, the publishing organization refused to state specifically which schools requested the book or how many orders they received. Although the research for the book was paid for with tax-dollars supposedly waging the war on drugs, the text is littered with statements sympathetic to cocaine, marijuana, and other substances. Pettiway complains that "crack users are not understood by policy makers" and "have been vilified in the media." Several of the transvestite-prostitutes whose self-narratives make up the bulk of Honey, Honey, Miss Thang make clear their enthusiasm for illegal narcotics.

* "I get high, I get high to get high, to enjoy myself, to enjoy getting high off drugs now. It's not like it's necessity...It allows me to cope. It helps in so many ways."

* "I love to smoke a joint before I go to work. I used to love to smoke a joint before I went to school. I wouldn't say it helped me cope but is just relaxed me. It really did" (China)

* "Drugs mellows me out and keeps me on smooth ground. Sometime is boost my ego, make me do other things I know I ain't got no business doing. It helps me to cope with life." (Keisha)

In an interview with Campus Report, Pettiway defended his work, labeling Honey, Honey, Miss Thang, a very important book." Referring to the drug using, gay prostitutes he features, Pettiway stated, "I do not applaud what these people do." In Honey, Honey, Miss Thang, Pettiway dismisses the placing of a value scale on any of the acts of those he interviewed. "My construction of my own reality is just as much a social construction as my construction of the world of the deviant person," writes Pettiway. "Gender, race, ethnicity, social class, and language cloud our view. No observation is objective but is situated in the social world of the observer and observed."

The Indiana University criminal justice professor goes so far as to state that "we must not fail to recognize the intrinsic value of each person, whether serial killer, child molester or sex worker." Although the research for Honey, Honey, Miss Thang was paid for with anti-drug money, the book's content focuses primarily on the sex lives of the black, gay, cross-dressing prostitutes that are profiled. Passages describe bizarre acts, such as gay-prostitute smearing excrement and urinating on a "john." While Pettiway is credited as Honey, Honey, Miss Thang's author, the book's post-introduction text is comprised solely of five "drag queens" telling their personal histories. Slang, obscenities, and so-called "black English" are pervasive throughout.

For Pettiway, this ads to the attractiveness of his work. "They refer to another gay man as "flippy' or as not being `a Bisquick Man,'" Pettiway writes. "You will marvel at expressions like "That was a pain in my chewy' and `I was an L7, a square,' as well as expressive play they use with their friends: `Oh, Miss Thang. Child, please. Bitch, it ain't about you.' You will marvel at their use of imagery and the power of their voices." "This book has very little literary value," maintains Matt Rarey, a junior at Wabash College, where Honey, Honey, Miss Thang is assigned. "The only purpose I can see for professors requiring it is to de-sensitize students to perverse acts."

Although the book was recently published, its research was funded by a 1991 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institute on Drug Abuse. Pettiway conducted almost fifty interviews and collected information on more than 400 criminals as part of his research. His work on black, cross-dressing, gay prostitutes is the only book yet to result from the Bush Administration grant.

The text "raises some very, very important questions about what is the best way to bring about social change," Pettiway explained to Campus Report. "That's what students should be focusing on."

The federally funded Honey, Honey, Miss Thang: Being Black, Gay, and on the Streets first came to the attention of Campus Report when it appeared as required reading on a syllabus of a freshman tutorial taught by a religious studies professor at Wabash College.

Accuracy in Academia, Internet:

US Patent on New Genetic Technology Will Prevent Farmers from Saving Seed

On March 3 Delta and Pine Land Co. (Mississippi, USA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that they received US Patent No. 5,723,765 on a new genetic technology designed to prevent unauthorized seed saving by farmers. The patented technology, "Control of plant gene expression" would allow seed companies to control the viability of progeny seed without harming the crop. In other words, the new technology genetically alters the seed so that it will not germinate if re-planted a second time.

The patent is broad, applying to plants and seeds of all species, including both transgenic (genetically engineered) and conventionally-bred seeds. If commercially viable, the patented technology could have far-reaching implications for farmers and the commercial seed industry. If the technology is widely licensed, it could be a boon to the seed industry - especially for companies marketing self-pollinating seeds such as wheat, rice, cotton, soybeans, oats and sorghum. Historically there has been little commercial interest in non-hybridized seeds such as wheat and rice because there is no way for seed companies to control reproduction. If commercially viable, the new technology could mean huge profits in entirely new sectors of the seed industry. For farmers, the patented technology will undoubtedly mean greater dependence on the commercial seed market, and a fundamental loss of control over germplasm. If widely utilized, farmers will lose the age-old right to save seed from their harvest.

Many seed corporations have tried to stop farmers from saving or re-selling proprietary seeds by using intellectual property laws (patents and plant breeder's rights) that make it illegal for farmers to re-use or sell harvest ed seed (for reproductive purposes). Monsanto, for example, now requires that farmers sign a licensing agreement that strictly forbids farmers from saving or re-using the company's patented seed. (See RAFI Communique on "Bioserfdom," March/April, 1997.) According to a recent article in Progressive Farmer magazine, Monsanto is aggressively enforcing its patents on transgenic soybean seeds, and has recently taken legal action against more than 100 soybean growers who have violated the licensing agreement.

The company has even hired Pinkerton investigators (hired police) to identify unauthorized seed-saving farmers. If Delta and Pineland's new technology successfully prevents farmers from germinating a second generation of seed, then seed companies will gain biological control over seeds that they have heretofore lacked in non-hybrid crops. Nobody knows exactly how many farmers save seed from their harvest each year. By some estimates, 20% to 30% of all soybean fields in the US midwest are typically planted with saved seeds; up to 50% of soybeans in the South are planted with farmer-saved seed. Precise statistics are not available, but many North American wheat farmers rely primarily on farm-saved seeds and return to the commercial market once every four or five years.

Impact in the South

A genetic technology designed to prevent farmers from saving seed would have a far greater impact in the South - and that is precisely the market being targeted. Murray Robinson, the president of Delta Pine Land, told RAFI, "We expect [the new technology] to have global implications, especially in markets or countries where patent laws are weak or non-existent." The company says its new patent has "the prospect of opening significant worldwide seed markets to the sale of transgenic technology for crops in which seed currently is saved and used in subsequent plantings."

Up to 1.4 BILLION resource-poor farmers in the South depend on farm-saved seed and seeds exchanged with farm neighbors as their primary seed source. A technology that threatens to extinguish farmer expertise in selecting seed and developing locally-adapted strains is a threat to food security and agricultural biodiversity, especially for the poor. According to USDA spokesman, Willard Phelps, Delta & Pine Land Co. has the option to exclusively license the patented technology that was jointly developed by USDA researchers and Delta & Pine Land. The USDA wants the technology to be "widely licensed and made expeditiously available to many seed companies," said USDA's Phelps. The goal is "to increase the value of proprietary seed owned by U S seed companies and to open up new markets in Second and Third World countries," said Phelps.

Melvin J. Oliver, a USDA molecular biologist and primary inventor of the technology, explains why the US government developed a technology that prohibits farmers from saving proprietary seed: "My main interest is the protection of American technology. Our mission is to protect US agriculture, and to make us competitive in the face of foreign competition. Without this, there is no way of protecting the technology [patented seed]." Oliver says that the technology to prohibit seed-saving is still in the product development stage, and is now being tested in cotton and tobacco. In RAFI's view, the fact that this technology was developed by USDA researchers, with taxpayer funds, should be a real kick in the teeth to US farmers.

USDA researchers articulate a greater allegiance to the commercial seed industry than they do to farmers. Publicly-supported plant breeding was once the backbone of US agriculture. Its goal was to deliver superior crop varieties to farmers' fields - not to guarantee seed industry profits. A new technology that is designed to give the seed industry greater control over seeds will ultimately weaken the role of public breeders and reinforce corporate consolidation in the global seed industry (for more information, see RAFI's Communique on The Life Industry.)

* Delta & Pine Land Co. (Scott, Mississippi) is the largest cotton seed company in the world, with 1997 annual sales of $183 million. Monsanto is a minor shareholder in Delta & Pineland; the two companies have a joint cotton seed venture in China (D&M Intl. LLC).

* Monsanto (St. Louis, Missouri) is a major life industry corporation, and the world's second ranking agrochemical corporation. Monsanto's investment and acquisition in seeds and agrochemicals over the past 24 months exceeded (US) $2 billion. Monsanto's total 1996 revenues were (US) $9.26 billion.

Book On Supreme Court Under Fire

WASHINGTON - The tale does not fit the Supreme Court's staid image, but a former insider says it is true - two ideologically opposed law clerks once got into a shoving match that drove them into a courtyard fountain.

In a new book called "Closed Chambers," former law clerk Edward Lazarus also criticizes some justices' opinions as "fundamentally dishonest" and accuses the nation's highest court of giving too much power to its law clerks.

'`What I saw inside the court ... left me with an irrepressible sense of disquiet," wrote Lazarus, who clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun in 1988-89 and is on leave from his job as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles.

But Lazarus is drawing criticism himself from some who say he broke the law clerks' promise not to disclose confidential information learned on the job.

Law clerks, usually top graduates of elite law schools, spend a year doing research and opinion-drafting for justices before going on to their own careers.

"Mr. Lazarus has breached ... (an) ethical obligation to confidentiality for a few bucks and some reflected glory," said Andrew McBride, who clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in 1988-89. McBride declined to address specific incidents described in the book, citing his own promise of silence.

In a recent interview, Lazarus said he "tried to write nothing about the justices' deliberations that I knew only because I was a clerk." Besides, he added, "Clerks speak to reporters all the time. The difference is they don't put their names to it."

"The Brethren," the 1979 book on the Supreme Court by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong, used clerks and a few justices as anonymous sources. So have other books about the court.

Lazarus' book calls McBride the leader of a "cabal" of conservative law clerks [is that like a "VRWC"?] who sought to push individual justices to the right and who celebrated when mass murderer Ted Bundy was executed.

The book says that during the 1988-89 term:

One clerk "spoon-fed" a narrow reading of a civil rights law to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who switched his vote and tipped the court's ruling, causing liberals on the court to lose the majority.

Liberal clerks, including Lazarus himself, had an attitude of "overbearing self-righteousness" in trying to head off executions and protect past liberal rulings on subjects such as abortion and civil rights.

The shoving incident occurred days before the high court issued an important decision that limited, but did not abolish, the right to abortion. McBride and a clerk to Justice William J. Brennan "traded taunts and epithets before graduating to shoves and swings that drove them into the courtyard fountain," Lazarus wrote.

Lazarus said the justices sometimes used "transparently deceitful and hypocritical arguments and factual distortions" to reach bottom-line results.

"In crucial cases, narrow court majorities transformed constitutional law on the basis of opinions the justices knew to be wholly inadequate and unconvincing," he wrote.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist sought "deceitfully and surreptitiously" to use language in the 1989 abortion ruling that would have invalidated the right to abortion without actually saying so, Lazarus said. O'Connor refused to provide the fifth vote among the nine justices for that outcome, and the right to abortion remained intact, he said.

In the interview, Lazarus said that when he was at the court, "they had really begun to erase the line between law and politics."

The book portrays Kennedy and O'Connor as susceptible to clerks' arguments and as "targets of every form of clerk machination" because they tended to be the court's swing votes. But, it points out, the final decisions belong to the justices, not their clerks.

Washington lawyer John Roberts, who clerked for Rehnquist in 1980-81, said he hasn't seen the book but believes law clerks have less influence than they think. "When you get some distance from the court ... you realize that law clerks are law clerks, they're not junior justices," Roberts said.

UN Court Orders US Execution Stayed

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Intervening in a death penalty case for the first time, the World Court demanded a stay today in Tuesday's scheduled execution of a Paraguayan man in Virginia.

It was unclear what effect - if any - the ruling would have in Virginia, which condemned Angel Francisco Breard for the murder and attempted rape of a woman in Arlington in 1992.

The World Court, the United Nations' highest judicial body, has no enforcement powers and relies on countries to comply voluntarily with its decisions. Its final decision could take years, though the 15-judge court promised to speed up its deliberations. "The court orders the United States to take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Angel Francisco Breard is not executed pending the final decision of the court," the judges said in a unanimous decision.

The court noted that its decision did not "concern the entitlement of the federal states within the United States to resort to the death penalty for the most heinous crimes."

Paraguay had fought for the stay of execution, contending that Breard was not informed of his right to consular assistance after his arrest, as required by the 1963 Vienna Convention.

"It is a vindication of international law. It is a decision we were waiting for," said Manuel Caceres, Paraguay's representative at the court. Paraguay has claimed that if Breard had been able to seek advice from consular officials, he likely would have pleaded guilty in a pretrial plea bargain and escaped the death penalty.

U.S. lawyers, however, claim Breard was never offered a plea bargain. The United States also says it has no dispute with Paraguay over the Vienna Convention and that the World Court therefore has no jurisdiction in the case.

Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore has said he will follow U.S. court decisions. Breard has a clemency appeal pending before the Supreme Court.

"Breard has petitioned the governor for clemency and the governor is reviewing those papers," Gilmore's spokesman, Mark Miner, said today. "The governor is keeping a close watch on all the developments."

In January, a U.S. federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit Paraguay had filed against Virginia. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it was disturbed that Virginia failed to follow the Vienna Convention but ruled that the Constitution prohibits foreign governments from suing states.

Breard, 30, was convicted of stabbing Ruth Dickie, 39, five times on Feb. 17, 1992. He told police he intended to rape her, but ran away when he heard someone knock on the door.

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