The Busy Life of Billionaire Lester Crown
The 82-year-old patriarch of the omnipresent, $4.5 billion Crown family talks with Jane Ammeson.
By JANE AMMESON
“If you could only make one call to tap into Chicago’s civic and business leadership, Lester Crown is the one”—U.S. Senator and Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois
Within a 10-day period this January, Lester Crown, the patriarch of Chicago’s Crown family, was scheduled to fly to and from Atlanta, to Washington, D.C. and then to Israel, where he had been invited to speak at a conference. These trips alone racked up almost 40,000 miles.
“Sure, I get tired,” says the 82-year-old Crown, but he doesn’t sound like someone who is running out of steam—or at least not enough to stop and take a rest. Crown oversees a business empire that now or at one time encompassed stakes in such a diverse portfolio as General Dynamics, the Empire State Building, the New York Yankees, Marblehead Lime Company, Maytag (now owned by Whirlpool Corp.) and the Chicago Bulls. Lester Crown and family, which has made a fortune in real estate, hotels, sugar and railroads, ranked 177 on Forbes 2007 World’s Richest People, with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion. Though an astute businessman who grew the coffers left by his father, Crown’s current goals appear to be the many civic causes he champions, both locally and globally.
In an interview, Crown was eager to praise others for the good deeds he’s credited as accomplishing. Take the expansion of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Roper is quoted as saying, “We were all making the case, but Lester was the one to get it done.”
What’s Crown’s take on that?
“The Aviation Subcommittee, which I was fortunate enough to chair, was composed of a group of business people, civic leaders and educators who saw that O’Hare, which is the U.S. aviation hub and one of the main international hubs, was reaching its maximum capacity,” says Crown. “We commissioned a professional economic report on the impact of what an expansion of O’Hare would bring to the area in terms of money and jobs. We took that report to the business community and the newspapers, presenting the problems and the solutions. The mayor’s response was to create a visionary plan. I helped bring people to the table, but there were many people who made it happen. George Ryan was instrumental in making the O’Hare expansion a reality.”
Well, then, what about John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital? Crown led the business community that advocated the creation of a new Cook County Hospital. The 464-bed hospital is anchored by 228 medical/surgical beds, with dedicated units for obstetrics (40 beds), pediatrics (40 beds), intensive care (80 beds), neonatal intensive care (58 beds) and burns (18 beds). Anticipating an increasing trend toward shorter inpatient hospital stays and procedures, approximately 40 percent of the hospital's space is used for outpatient care, specialty diagnosis and treatment.
“Ruth Rothstein was the head of the Cook County medical system at the time,” says Crown. “At first, I didn’t think we needed a new hospital, but Ruth explained to our committee her reasons why there should be a new hospital. As with O’Hare, we had a professional report done by experts that showed that there would be $100 million in savings after spending $550 million for a new hospital, compared to operating the present buildings. Ruth turned me around 180 percent, so I took it on as a project.”
“If you could only make one call to tap into Chicago’s civic and business leadership, Lester Crown is the one,” says U.S. Senator and Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Making things happen could be the family’s creed. Lester’s father, Henry, was born to a Lithuanian immigrant sweatshop worker, Arie Krinsky, and his wife Ida. His father changed the family name to Crown when Henry was a boy, and Henry never went to school beyond 8th grade. Fired from a $4 a week job as an errand boy, Crown went on to build a fortune estimated to be worth approximately $2 billion when he died 18 years ago.
“My father was probably the finest human being I’ve ever known,” says Crown. “His family had nothing, but he had ingenuity, a moral compass and was willing to work very hard. His relationships with people were very important to him. He was willing to give credit to other people for his ideas, and it’s amazing how much that allows one to accomplish. The only thing that exceeded his ingenuity was his humility.”
Henry Crown and his two brothers, Sol and Irving, started Material Services in 1919, a mining company located primarily in Illinois and northwestern Indiana that sold sand and gravel—materials that helped build the Civic Opera House and the Merchandise Mart.
“That was our heart and soul,” says Crown. “That’s what we did.”
Indeed, it was. Crown told The New York Times, “We ate and slept business.” Lester and his two brothers, Robert, who was older, and their younger brother John, loaded cement trucks and worked next to the dynamite crews. This commitment to the family business was one reason that Crown followed his uncle’s directive to become a chemical engineer.
“I had always wanted to be an engineer,” Crown recalls. “Material Service Corporation owned Marblehead Lime Co., and so when Uncle Irving told me to take chemical engineering, that was it.”
Crown earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University in 1946 and went on to get an MBA from Harvard in 1949. He was president of Marblehead Lime Co. for a decade, from 1956 to 1966—years Crown considers the halcyon days of America.
“Nineteen-fifty to 2000 was the golden age in the United States,” Crown says. “We have been very hurt by our own success in this country. Our affluence almost breeds complacency, and there has become a sense of entitlement.”
Referencing Tom Brokaw’s book The Greatest Generation, Crown talks about how Americans of that era were willing to give up their lives for their country. “And they came back, and there was no sense of entitlement,” he says, adding that he worries that many people today don’t want to work as hard as those of that generation did. “The innovative spirit of America is being reduced to shipping manufacturing overseas.”
A longtime donor and life trustee of Northwestern, Crown says education needs to be emphasized. “Individual parents need to realize what is important and what isn’t,” he says. “It all comes from the home.”
Children are overly organized today, Crown says, with busy schedules impacting studies and family time. “And there is a bad side to our technological advances. Kids can get too wrapped up in their computers and Ipods.”
Crown and his wife, Renee, who have been married for 57 years (“it’s a good start,” he says) have seven children. “There were times when we wondered whether we should drown them one at a time or two at time,” he says about those hectic family days. “But we are really fortunate to have so many children and now grandchildren.” This “affluenza” that seems to be infecting the country will be tested in 2008, according to Crown.
....“This year is going to be a very tough year for the United States. But we’ve had too many good years, so we’ll have to suck it up. The country has the strength to come back economically, but we need a good leader.”
He also says he believes that America has to become less energy dependent. “One way to stimulate the economy is to have a two, four or five dollar tax on gasoline,” Crown says. “You can give the money back to anyone who earns less than $50,000 or $60,000 a year. But being dependent upon foreign oil just sends money back to people who want to harm us.”
Which brings us to the question of the Middle East. A longtime supporter of Israel, Henry Crown Hall is home to the Jewish Symphony Orchestra in Jerusalem.
“Every Israeli prime minister, every Israeli president knows the Crown family,” said Steven Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Crown says he’s spent a tremendous amount of time in the Gulf countries, including Egypt, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
“I have deep concerns about Iran,” Crown says. “I think the media didn’t focus on the right information coming from National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). Enrichment is the primary concern because with enrichment, Iran can then weaponize. Iran has not stopped their enrichment programs or their weapons programs. I don’t think Iran will bomb Israel, but I do think they will continue to ship missiles to Hezbollah, who may use them against Israel.” Here in Chicago, Crown serves on many committees, including the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, where he serves as chairman. Founded in 1922, the organization is a leading independent, nonpartisan organization committed to influencing the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue and public learning.
“The council gets all of us to hear things about what is going on in the rest of the world by people who are making the policies,” says Crown. “When President Bush wanted to come to Chicago to speak on foreign affairs, he called the Chicago Council of Global Affairs.”
“Lester Crown is the reigning patriarch of philanthropy in Chicago, setting a wonderful example for his family and for all of us,” says Chicago philanthropist Ann Lurie. “He exudes an understated style, grace and wisdom that is enviable in these days of brash and flash. The world needs more Lester Crowns.”
But beyond his companies and charitable endeavors, Crown describes his family, encompassing 25 grandchildren, as being most important to him.
“I like to ski, fish, play golf and read,” Crown says, noting that he also enjoys reading American and world history. “But on top of that is family, and—fortunately—I have a whole bunch of grandchildren to spend my time with.”
Published: February 07, 2008
Issue: February 08 Money Issue
War is a crime
he Crown family: investing in weapons, war ...and Obama
By NicolasDavies - Posted on 01 May 2012
Americans who went to the polls in 2008 believing that a vote for Barack Obama was a vote for peace, now face the prospect of a presidential election in which both major party candidates will be openly wedded to endless war, cold-blooded “targeted killings,” record military budgets, and the systematic violation of U.S. and international law.
The only gains people of conscience can make in national elections this year will be to elect more real progressives to Congress, people like veteran journalist and activist Norman Solomon in California and Wenona Baldenegro in Arizona, a Navajo who would be the first Native American woman in Congress. The corporate media have made sure that the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) remains the best kept secret in American politics as it has quietly grown from 6 members in 1991 to 76 members today. CPC co-chair Raul Grijalva was even named the “most valuable representative” in Congress in 2011 by the Nation magazine.
But no grass-roots movement can challenge the auction of the highest public office in the land in 2012. Since Lewis Powell wrote his infamous “Powell Memo” in 1971, big business has consolidated and expanded its control of American politics exactly as he urged it to do. American corporations divert small portions of their profits to public relations and advertising firms to apply the same techniques to politics that they use to sell the products of their commercial monopolies to the public, while Democratic and Republican Party leaders enthusiastically embrace their privileged role in a system that former President Carter has described as “legalized bribery.”
The Republican primaries have shed light on Mitt Romney’s vulture fund background and Sheldon Adelson’s legalized bribery of Newt Gingrich. On the other hand, there has been little scrutiny of the interests behind the person who is already governing the United States.
In 2008, Senator Obama out-solicited Senator McCain by more than two to one: $748 million to $354 million. Less than 10 percent of Obama’s funds were raised by trade unions and only 24 percent came from donors who gave $200 or less, compared with Ron Paul’s 39 percent and Dennis Kucinich’s 56 percent. Even George Bush raised 26 percent of his funds from small donors in 2004, so Obama’s much-vaunted reliance on small donors was a deceptive PR stunt, not a new paradigm in grass-roots democracy.
A well-publicized study by the Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) kept the Obama small donor myth alive by treating people who donated to both his primary and general election campaigns as if they were two different people, magically transforming many donors who gave more than $200 into twice as many smaller donors and boosting his small donor percentage from 24 percent to 30-34 percent in the study.
Obama raised $134 million from corporations compared to McCain’s $72 million. His advantage in bribes from particular industries was even more striking: $25 million to McCain’s $5 million from media and communications companies—as the advertising and propaganda industry eagerly embraced its new star—and $20 million to $7 million from “healthcare” companies, as insurance executives like Liz Fowler of Wellpoint moved into new offices at the capitol to revamp their failing business model. Financial firms gave the largest bribes to both candidates—$40 million to Obama and $29 million to McCain—securing government backing for the biggest real estate swindle in history and condemning millions of Americans to poverty and homelessness. For the first time since 1994, the weapons industry gave more of its $25.4 million to the Democrats than to the Republicans.
But private networks of wealthy Americans raise even more money for political campaigns than corporations do and often wield even greater influence over the officials they support. Corporations give bribes to secure policies that will boost their bottom lines, but the wealthy individuals who use their social connections to raise huge sums of money for a candidate want even more for their money. They seek the kind of personal relationship that can be the foundation of an entire political career for the candidate and the key to inordinate power and influence for their wealthy patrons.
General Dynamics, Henry and Lester Crown
One family stands out as playing exactly that role in the political career of Barack Obama: the Crown family of Chicago. The importance of this relationship in Obama’s career exposes some of the roots of his subservience to the government of Israel, his threats of aggression against Iran, his expansion of the JSOC/CIA targeted killing program, and his unswerving commitment to record military budgets in a time of economic and fiscal crisis.
The Crowns are the children and grandchildren of Henry Crown, who made a fortune in the building materials business, had reputed links to the Chicago Mafia, and discovered the armaments business as a military procurement officer during the Second World War. Henry Crown bought a controlling interest in General Dynamics in 1959 and developed it into the largest weapons maker in the world, building the Trident submarine, the Atlas rocket, the F-16 fighter, the Abrams tank and much of America’s Cold War arsenal. The General Dynamics board forced him out as CEO in 1966, but he bought back a 20 percent share in the company and regained effective control in 1970.
Henry’s son Lester succeeded him as chair of General Dynamics in 1986 and as president of Henry Crown & Co, the family’s private investment firm. Lester is 86 now, but still takes a keen interest in politics. He is chair of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and founded the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, which also received a $2.5 million grant directly from General Dynamics. He supports the arts in the U.S. and Israel—the Jewish Symphony Orchestra plays in Henry Crown Hall in Jerusalem. The Crown family is worth at least $4 billion, making it one of the richest families in America.
Under Lester Crown’s watchful eye, his children now handle most of the family’s business and political interests. His son James became President of Henry Crown & Co. in 2003 and sits on the board of General Dynamics. Altogether the Crown family gave at least $128,000 to Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign, in which Henry Crown & Co. was also Obama’s third largest institutional donor. In 2008, James Crown and his wife Paula were Obama’s fundraising chairs in Illinois and his fourth largest “bundlers” nationwide, raising millions of dollars for his presidential campaign.
Lester Crown first met Obama when he was a 27-year-old intern at the Sidley Austin law firm in Chicago in the summer of 1989. One of Obama’s law professors at Harvard, Martha Minow, had recommended Obama to her father, Newton Minow, who was a partner at the firm. Minow took Obama under his wing and introduced him to his friend Lester Crown. Crown recalls that Minow called him and “said we have in our office a young man who I think is really going places and I’d like you to meet him.” Crown says he has been a supporter ever since.
Israel, Palestine, and Iran
Lester Crown was speaking to the Chicago Jewish News in 2008 to allay fears among American Zionists regarding Obama’s views on Israel and Palestine. He stressed that, “knowing him long before he got into politics, I know he is completely supportive, without any question or equivocation, of Israel’s security. He is only interested (in a two-state solution) if Israel’s security is absolutely assured, and that was his position long before he ever went into politics.
His speeches to AIPAC are not new positions, merely the vocalization of what he has always believed.... From the time I met him, the times we talked about Israel, and we talked about it several times, he has been an ardent backer of Israel’s defense position, Israel’s security position. He has been a proponent of the two-state solution, but only on the hopes that you will have a demilitarized peaceful Palestinian entity, which you do not have now.”
If Crown is correct, President Obama only supports a Palestinian state as a “demilitarized...entity,” even as he pours U.S. military aid into Israel. In a world where every other state has a recognized right to arm and defend itself, a “demilitarized entity” would only be a sort of semi-state. In effect, what Crown and Obama favor is a “one-and-half-state solution,” precluding the genuine sovereignty for Palestine that the U.S. government officially supports and that Palestinians are struggling for. If Obama’s views are as close to Lester Crown’s as Crown thinks they are, it is little wonder that he has made no progress toward resolving the conflict.
As chair of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA), Lester Crown knows very well that CCGA’s biennial Globalviews surveys have documented for decades that most Americans want their government to “not take either side” in the Middle East conflict. In the 2010 survey, this view was held by 66 percent of Americans surveyed, while only 28 percent want the U.S. to “take Israel’s side,” as Crown and Obama do. In the 2004 survey, when the consequences of U.S. involvement in war in the Middle East were more obvious, the imbalance was 74 percent to 17 percent.
Lester Crown takes an even more extreme view of U.S. relations with Iran. In fact, when he and his wife, Renee, hosted a fundraiser for Obama at their home in 2007, the invitations made it clear that their support was based not just on Obama’s unconditional support for Israel, but also on his willingness to start a war with Iran.
If Israel starts a war with Iran, the Globalviews survey found that only 38 percent of Americans are ready to take Israel’s side. And yet, following Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in March, it was revealed that Israel had requested the sale of in-flight refueling aircraft and GBU-28 5,000 pound bunker-busting bombs and that “the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably on the request as soon as possible.” Diplomatic and intelligence sources told Ma’ariv that this was a quid-pro-quo for an Israeli agreement to postpone starting a war with Iran until after the U.S. election in November.
Unlike Obama, President Bush refused to sell refueling planes or GBU-28 bombs to Israel based on intelligence estimates that Israel would, in fact, use them to attack Iran. But the Crown family did not make their billions by championing sectarian causes and foreign governments. They became billionaires by selling weapons and making shrewd investments. However much Obama and theCrowns see eye to eye on Israel and Iran, the bottom line in their backing for Obama is the bottom line at General Dynamics. If there had been any chance that Obama was really the peace candidate that many believed, including the Nobel Committee, the Crown family would never have invested their money and worked their connections as they did to launch him on the road to power.
Their investment in Obama has paid off handsomely. Obama has maintained the largest U.S. military budget since World War II, outstripping both the Vietnam War budget and Reagan’s massive arms build-up by more than 25 percent in real terms. Despite severe fiscal and economic pressures, the withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq and the lack of a real threat to the U.S. from any other country, President Obama’s military budget roughly equals the military spending of the rest of the world put together.
General Dynamics Business Model Changes
To grasp how Obama’s policies benefit General Dynamics (GD) in particular, we need to understand how GD’s business model has changed as the U.S. military and intelligence budgets have doubled in the past decade. Pentagon contractors like General Dynamics have evolved from simply manufacturing weapons to playing an integrated role in military operations, targeted killings and the new surveillance state. As Dana Priest and William Arkin write in their new book, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State: “Of the 1,900 or so companies working on top secret contracts in mid-2010, roughly 90 percent of the work was done by 6 percent (110) of them. To understand how these firms have come to dominate the post-9/11 era, there’s no place better to look than the Herndon (Virginia) office of General Dynamics.”
Inside General Dynamics’ offices, a software trainer showed off one of its new products. They watched a picture of a white truck on a TV monitor as a U.S. surveillance plane followed it along a road in Afghanistan. With the click of a mouse, the technician could get:
a link to a photo of the truck driver’s home and a list of recent visitors
an infrared view of the truck to see what might be inside it
a close-up and analysis of something that the driver threw out of the window
a higher resolution image of the truck from a U-2 spy plane 70,000 feet above it
a log of the truck’s previous journeys
a real-time map of U.S. forces in the area
a chat window with comments from other Americans watching the same video
The technician explained that all this material would be stored and searchable if other Americans became interested in the same truck again later.
Since 2001, General Dynamics has bought out 11 smaller firms specializing in satellites, signals, geospatial intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, imagery, and technology integration. The white truck video was one of the results. Another result is that GD now has contracts with every single one of the U.S.’s 16 major intelligence agencies—from the CIA to the NRO to the GEOINT—and an exclusive contract to provide equipment, management and staff for the Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters in Washington.
The bottom line for major shareholders like the Crown family is that General Dynamics’ revenue has tripled from $10.4 billion in 2000 to $32.5 billion in 2010 and the value of their stock has quadrupled. GD’s Information Systems and Technology Division (IS&T) now provides 34 percent of its revenue. As the 2010 annual report explained, “(IS&T) remains the company’s revenue leader and was the fastest growing segment in 2010.... Volume was particularly strong in IS&T’s battlefield communications and information technology modernization programs.”
As I explained in “America’s Death Squads” (March, Z Magazine), this is exactly the kind of “warfare” that the Obama administration has embraced and expanded, to the obvious benefit of General Dynamics. I put “warfare” in quotes, because existing laws make clear distinctions between actual warfare, in which armed forces fight each other, and war crimes, in which armed forces target and kill civilians. Most of the thousands of victims of U.S. “targeted killings” are civilians killed in cold blood, with no opportunity to cooperate or surrender. Even President Bush’s State Department Legal Adviser, John Bellinger, warned that there is no legal basis for most of these operations. They are extra-judicial executions, not legitimate acts of war or self-defense, and have been condemned as such by the UN’s Special Rapporteurs for Extra-judicial Executions, Philip Alston and Christof Heyns.
Other divisions of General Dynamics are also riding the Pentagon’s post-2001 gravy train. Since the small post-Cold War “peace dividend” peaked in 1998, the U.S. has spent $1.3 trillion on its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but even more—$1.8 trillion—on procurement of new warplanes, warships, weapons and military equipment, of which only a small portion is related to its current wars. Since 2007, the U.S. Navy has received the lion’s share of new procurement spending, as the U.S. tries to shift its military focus from the Middle East to China.
As the economic balance of power tips inexorably in China’s favor, the U.S. is trying to compensate for its declining economic and diplomatic influence with an implicit but unmistakable threat to China’s vital ocean trade routes. General Dynamics’ Marine Division has grown steadily because of this over the past decade as a joint contractor for Virginia class submarines and Arleigh Burke destroyers, and as the sole contractor for Zumwalt destroyers and T-AKE navy supply ships. The Virginia class nuclear-powered attack submarine replaced the Sea Wolf class, which cost $2.8 billion a piece and was discontinued after only three were built. The Virginia class subs were supposed to save a billion dollars each at $1.8 billion. General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman now sell them to the taxpayers for $2.5 billion each, and production is ramping up to 2 ships per year starting in 2012.
General Dynamics has built 34 of the 62 Arleigh Burke class destroyers launched since 1989. Construction was due to be suspended, but the Obama administration has given the program a new lease on life as part of its Aegis Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) system. The destroyers are encircling Russia, China, Iran and other potential enemies in an effort to neutralize their ballistic missile deterrents. The U.S. Navy has 39 more Arleigh Burke destroyers on order, to be delivered over the next 20 years. General Dynamics’ current price is $1.8 billion per ship.
General Dynamics is also building three larger Zumwalt class “land attack” destroyers for $9.8 billion. That doesn’t count the $10 billion already spent on development costs since 1994, when the “Destroyer for the 21st Century” was first conceived as a replacement for outdated U.S. battleships. Thirty-two Zumwalt class destroyers were planned, but the development of effective anti-ship missiles by other countries rendered them vulnerable and obsolete before the first one was built. In March 2009, a U.S. Navy spokesperson called the Zumwalt destroyer “a ship you don’t need,” but General Dynamics was given a contract to build 3 ships over the Navy’s objections.
GD’s Marine Division is also developing a new generation of nuclear missile submarines and a Mobile Landing Platform to land troops and supplies on foreign shores. It also owns the only naval dockyard on the west coast, as the U.S. Navy expands its operations in the Pacific.
General Dynamics’ Combat Systems Division—which makes Abrams tanks, Stryker armored vehicles and MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles—is the only division with slightly declining revenues, as U.S. strategy shifts from hostile military occupations to targeted killings, occupying the oceans and proxy wars led by U.S. and NATO special forces. But Obama’s strengthened military alliances with conservative European governments and Arab monarchies have boosted the division’s foreign sales, which now account for 40 percent of its revenue.
As General Dynamics’ annual report acknowledges, “We are operating in an increasingly dynamic and uncertain threat environment, complicated by daunting U.S. and global economic and budgetary challenges.”
But never fear, dear shareholders, “While the level of U.S. defense spending will be impacted by...fiscal realities, there is not a foreseeable peace dividend.... For fiscal year 2012, the President has requested Defense Department base-budget funding of $553 billion, including $188 billion for investment accounts. Through 2015, the base defense budget is expected to remain essentially flat in real terms. Pentagon efficiency initiatives have sought to enable modest investment account growth within that flat top line.”
The U.S. system of legalized bribery ensures that candidates pass a rigorous program of ideological tests before they get anywhere near a seat in the U.S. Senate, let alone the White House. These tests take place in conversations over many years, as Lester Crown described to the Chicago Jewish News, and in endless hours of grueling calls and meetings to solicit bribes from wealthy Americans. The thoroughness and the personal nature of this process stands in stark contrast to the slick public relations campaign by which a candidate like Obama is eventually introduced to the American public.
From his first interview with Lester Crown in Newton Minow’s office in 1989 and throughout their 20-year relationship, Obama had to establish his credentials as a true believer in the ideology of American economic and military power. The backing of the Crown family then became an important and recognized signal to other military-industrial power brokers that Obama had passed scrutiny and could be relied on to serve their interests as president.
Benjamin Ferencz, who wrote the preface to my book on the U.S. war against Iraq, is the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg war crimes trials. He has described how the lead defendant at the Einsatzgruppen trial, SS-Gruppenfurher Otto Ohlendorf, Ph.D., defended the massacres of tens of thousands of civilians with an argument that is all too familiar today: preemptive self-defense. Ohlendorf told the court that Germany invaded other countries to prevent them from attacking it; that Jews had to be killed because “everyone knew” they supported the Bolsheviks; and that Jewish children had to be killed because, if they grew up and found out what the Germans had done to their parents, they too would become enemies of Germany.
As Ferencz explains, this illegitimate principle of preemptive self-defense is the same one by which Presidents Bush and Obama justify their war crimes today: our fear entitles us to attack countries and kill people to prevent them doing the same to us or our allies at some point in the future. Ohlendorf never showed any remorse for his crimes, even as he went to the gallows at Landsberg Prison in 1951. He was the highly educated product of a political system dominated by military-industrial interests and extreme nationalism that made war crimes seem justifiable, rational or even necessary. By selecting its senior officials through “legalized bribery” within a superficially democratic system, the United States has developed a more sophisticated way to institutionalize and justify ever-expanding plutocracy, militarism and war crimes. This may be more sustainable and palatable—but that does not necessarily make it less dangerous.
Nicolas J.S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He is also a local chapter leader for Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) in Miami.
From the Chicago Tribune: "Pentagon officials said General Dynamics failed to inform the Defense Department that Crown was an unindicted co-conspirator in a 1972 scheme to bribe several Illinois legislators for passage of legislation that would benefit Material Service by raising the highway weight limit for ready mix concrete trucks.
Crown admitted giving $23,000 to a bribe fund, the government said, but was granted immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony against the politicians involved." Cough. --http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-05-02/business/8601310995_1_henry-crown-general-dynamics-cc-industries or this:
Lester Crown's son: James Crown & Chase: Give it back
James Crown & Chase: Give it back video:
lee mulcahy phd, Oct-22-2012
"You`ve got a crook on your board, and you say that individual ought to stay there. You`re the problem in that corporation. I`m absolutely disgusted you could sit here and make that statement with a straight face"-Congressman Bryant from Texas on the floor of Congress concerning Lester Crown
Edward L Mulcahy , Mar-31-2013
Peon vs. billionaire
Full disclosure in above comments:
Mulcahy faces trespassing charge for serving lawsuit
Former ski instructor taped court summons on door of Skico's headquarters
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
ASPEN — The battle between a former ski instructor and Aspen Skiing Co. took another odd twist Thursday when Lee Mulcahy received a summons for third-degree trespass after he taped a court notice onto a door at the firm's headquarters.
Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Levi Borst determined the trespass charge, a petty offense, was warranted because Mulcahy had been warned previously to stay off Skico property, according to an incident report. Mulcahy was banned from all Skico property when he was fired as a ski instructor in February 2011.
Mulcahy said he was simply trying to deliver a revised court summons for a lawsuit he filed against Jim and Paula Crown, members of the family that owns Skico. The lawsuit was initially filed in Pitkin County District Court. It was refiled in Pitkin County Court. Once it was refiled, Mulcahy was obligated to inform the Crowns.
“Being white trash, I was trying to save the money by taping the revision to the door” at Skico headquarters at 117 Aspen Airport Business Center, Mulcahy said.
In his lawsuit against the Crowns, Mulcahy is seeking to overturn the ban and damages of $1.
Earlier, Mulcahy tried to serve the revised summons by handing it to a Skico employee and asking her to take it inside, according to the incident report. The employee wouldn't help. So Mulcahy decided to tape the summons to an outside door at Skico offices. He said he had a 6-foot pole made from PVC pipe with him in case he needed an extension to avoid trespassing. However, he said he thought he was on a public sidewalk to a side door at Skico headquarters, so he walked up and taped the notice to the door.
Skico Senior Vice President and attorney Dave Bellack contacted the sheriff's department about Mulcahy's actions later Thursday. He reported the incident as a harassment because of Mulcahy's efforts to convince a Skico employee to take in the revised summons.
Mulcahy said he was contacted by a deputy at his home after he returned home Thursday night from bible study at an Aspen church. He requested that the deputy go to Skico headquarters with him to see if he actually trespassed on Skico property. Mulcahy said he will investigate whether he was on a public easement as part of his defense. The door opens to a parking lot that doesn't belong to Skico, he said.
Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said Skico had no comment about the incident.
Mulcahy claimed he was the victim in the incident. It shows how Skico “bullies the little guy,” he said.
“Should I expect this kind of disrespectful treatment from billionaires Jim and Paula Crown for pointing out they're limousine liberals .... for questioning their ban?” he said.
Mulcahy has a running battle against Skico over the wages paid to beginning ski instructors and other lower tier employees. Mulcahy wants Skico to pay what he calls a living wage.
Mulcahy was fired by Skico in February 2011. The company said it was for multiple infractions of company policy. Mulcahy claimed it was because he criticized company practices and talked to other instructors about forming a union.
He tried to get his job back by filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) but was not reinstated. The NLRB did require Skico to restructure its ski school structure so that management didn't participate on employee grievance boards. Skico was also required to specifically inform employees it was within their rights to explore formation of a union.
Mulcahy said his fight with his former employer is over freedom of speech. In addition to his lawsuit against the Crowns, he filed a libel lawsuit earlier this year against Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan for comments Kaplan made at the time of Mulcahy's firing.
Mulcahy is supposed to appear in county court May 1 for the trespass case. He said he will try to get the hearing postponed because he will be in Africa installing water wells as part of a interfaith community volunteer project.
Billionaire v. peon
One year for Father's Day, two of Lester Crown's daughters unknowingly sent him identical cards with the greeting "I worship the water you walk on."-Chicago Tribune................................................
Open letter to billionaire Lester Crown,
Dear Lester, ......................................... I read you gave $1000.00 to Tea Party darling Michelle Bachmann. ROFL. Elites love to divide and conquer. Old as time.
I guess you heard our President is calling Yemen to keep a journalist in jail? http://www.salon.com/2012/03/14/obamas_personal_role_in_a_journalists_imprisonment/ ?
Our President made a call to the to the President of Yemen to express his concern on Yemen's release of the journalist who reported on the targeted strike by the Tomahawk Missile the President denies ordering that killed 35 kids and women. When did General Dynamics introduce the Tomahawk? The greater the fraud...
FYI, I'm going to serve your a## by August. The net is completely revolutionary ---no wonder DC wants to pass internet laws. It's like the Wild West. It's the great equalizer for little people.
Did Skico tell you you I'm donating my damages from your illegal bullying to water wells in Africa? Bombs pay for clean water and schools in Kenya.
"In a world where torturers, illegal eavesdroppers, bankers, and telecoms were punished for their crimes, I'd have no objection to prosecuting Bradley Manning. The nature of civil disobedience is not that you claim the right to break the law without punishment, but that you deliberately subject yourself to punishment as a means of protesting unjust laws and practices…. But we're not in that world. We're in a world where the most powerful are able to commit the most egregious crimes with impunity. That's because the law is exploited as a weapon to shield and entrench power, and severely punish those who challenge it.-Glenn Greenwald, GuardianUK columnist, recently quoted by Rand Paul.
And it's just gonna get interesting for you by August for the banning for a buck trial. LOL: ...... http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/columnist/155984
At least we can laugh about it.
Lee Mulcahy PhD, artist, peon