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More than a decade ago, American Indian farmers claimed the U.S. Department of Agriculture had discriminated against them for…more than a decade. National Public Radio reports the class action lawsuit’s lead plaintiffs, “George and Marilyn Keepseagle of North Dakota, had sought some $500 million in damages.” This week, Barack Obama’s appointed representatives managed to negotiate them down to $760 million. The Hill newspaper reports, “President Obama praised Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder for reaching the settlement, which he said ‘helps strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship and underscores the federal government’s commitment to treat all citizens fairly.'” The award follows a similar settlement with black farmers who claimed prejudice but before (at least) two additional suits claiming bias against Hispanic and female farmers. The administration’s collaboration with organized minority blackmail efforts and unilateral expropriation of taxpayer dollars — without Congressional approval — is the latest example of Obama’s ongoing, stealth campaign of racial reparations.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack began with the requisite self-flagellation. “Today’s settlement can never undo the wrongs that Native Americans may have experienced in the past decades,” he told conference call of reporters. “But combined with the actions USDA is taking to address these wrongs, this settlement will provide some measure of relief for those who have been discriminated against.”
His reference to bias Indians “may have experienced” is telling. There is nothing like conclusive evidence of any wrongdoing. After the Bush administration spent eight years fighting dubious accusations of wrongdoing designed to shakedown the U.S. taxpayer, the Obama administration simply ordered the department to pay up. It threw the case to reward heavily Democratic groups with tax dollars.
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After whimpering, Vilsack announced the method of redistribution. The Hill newspaper reports, “Under the settlement, $680 million will be paid out in damages, and an $80 million fund to forgive farm debts will be established.” The USDA will begin doling out cash to claimants on a two-track basis: if one can “provide substantial evidence of discrimination,” the USDA will pay $50,000, while those who provide stronger evidence or show signs of real loss will receive “a maximum of $250,000.”
This sounds meaningful, until one realizes the legal definition of “substantial evidence” is “more than a mere scintilla” (Richardson v. Perales), “even if it is possible to draw two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence” (Landes v. Royal). This specifically includes “inferences” (Kuhn v. Department of General Services).
Forty Acres and a Jackass
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The settlement is similar to the administration’s payoff to black farmers who claimed USDA discrimination in the Pigford case earlier this year. Carl Horowitz of the National Legal and Policy Center recounts that when charges of USDA “discrimination” surfaced in the 1990s: “[Clinton Ag Secretary Dan] Glickman ordered an immediate review of 956 backlogged discrimination complaints. The review found that in only five of these cases – less than 1 percent – was there evidence of even possible discrimination, a finding the department conveniently suppressed.” Instead, the government opted for full-scale mediation, which resulted in an identical, two-track method. Track A paid $50,000 for a low threshold of proof. From 400 original plaintiffs, “black farmers” filed more than 94,000 claims for cash — several times higher than the number of black farmers. Even at the lower standard, more than 16,000 people who filed a grievance proved incapable of producing a “scintilla” of evidence. The system has already paid out more than $1 billion, and Barack Obama continues to press Congress to pass another $1.25 billion for this oversized pool of “victims.” To date, Congress has refused.
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The Keepseagle settlement eliminated this pesky little requirement: Congress need not vote or have a say in the administration’s redistribution of your money. These resources come from a “judgment fund” established to settle cases like these. “In a sense, it is not a budgeted item,” said Vilsack. “It is not required to have congressional action. It is available for the United States to settle any claims that may exist.”
Obama has, once again, turned to unilateral, executive branch action to pressure Congress. “Our hope is that the announcement of this settlement, Keepseagle, will encourage folks to consider the congressional action necessary to finish the Pigford and Cobell litigation,” Vilsack said. (Cobell is another, $1.41 billion shakedown by American Indians that Congress has refused to fund. Harry Reid tried to attach funding for both measures to the Defense appropriations bill, as he did amnesty and gays in the military.) Obama similarly granted certain benefits to same-sex “partners” of federal employees in the hopes of nudging the Senate to passing a bill with the same intent. More troubling is Obama’s decision to make an end-run around Congress, possibly foreshadowing a strategy his administration has publicly leaked: ruling by executive order in 2011.
Obama hopes this is but the beginning of spreading “the wealth around” to other vital constituencies of the Democratic Party’s coalition.
Hispanics y Women, Tambien
In June, word broke that Eric Holder wanted to pursue similar settlements with Hispanic and female “victims” of farm discrimination. Not long after the plaintiff in the black farmers case, Tim Pigford, asked Obama to help Hispanic farmers get their feet in the trough, Holder offered $1.3 billion to the combined group in May. An unnamed “congressional aide and another informed person watching the Garcia [Hispanic farmer] case said the Agriculture Department’s advocates for a settlement would like to see general guidelines similar to the framework of the Pigford settlement. This could mean an average of about $50,000 for each plaintiff who presents a case for discrimination – without having the government question the evidence they offer.”
In 2007, there were 82,000 Hispanic farmers in America — each of whom could walk away with $50,000, with virtually no questions asked. That could mean a price tag of as much as $4.1 billion — not including retirees, grifters, fraudsters, and the dead. The Obama administration will undoubtedly find the money in the budget.
How have the minority beneficiaries responded to this offer? “It’s very discriminatory and stingy,” said Hispanic farmer Modesta Rodriguez Salazar.
“At first blush, $1.3 billion sounds like a lot of money,” said the Hispanic case’s lead lawyer, Stephen Hill. (Yes, it does.) “But you don’t have to scrutinize very hard to see it’s completely out of all proportion and reasonableness when compared to payments to black farmers.” Since there are far more Hispanic than black farmers, Hill is demanding a larger settlement than the $2.25 billion they will soon receive.
Some in the administration agree. An unnamed Obama appointee told the press, “This was a calculated, cynical ploy to bum rush these victims figuring they would stampede to grab what sounds like a lot of money. They have grossly underestimated the intelligence of these farmers.”
Meanwhile, the women are demanding a larger slice of the wealth redistribution pie, as well. The San Antonio Express-News reported, “A lawyer for women farmers said his clients seek at least $4 billion on their own.”
“Post-Racial President” or Most Racial President?
This surrender to the racial shakedown lawsuits is but one facet of Obama’s fetish of redistributing wealth, power, and access from those who have earned it to ethnic groups who voted for him in droves in 2008. At the behest of Valerie Jarrett, Obama appointed Mark Lloyd of the Center for American Progress as the Federal Communications Commission’s first-ever “Diversity Czar.” At the Conference on Media Reform: Racial Justice, Lloyd said:
[W]e have really, truly good white people in important positions [in the media]. And the fact of the matter is that there are a limited number of those positions. And unless we are conscious of the need to have more people of color, gays, other people in those positions we will not change the problem. We’re in a position where you have to say who is going to step down so someone else can have power. (Emphasis added.)
Earlier this month, Obama apologized to the Guatemalan people for a 64-year-old medical experiment the U.S. performed with the permission of the Guatemalan government. Central American officials immediately demanded money. It will probably be forthcoming.
More recently, the Congressional Black Caucus has begun a $2 million “environmental justice” tour. The cash acts largely as a slush fund for left-wing minority groups. The examples could be multiplied ad infinitum.
Racial Reparations by Other Means
What stands behind the Obama administration’s decision to drop eight years of legal defense against these thinly sourced discrimination lawsuits, negotiate their bottom line up, and imperiously hand over taxpayers’ hard-earned money in the middle of a recession?
This is Obama’s raison d’etre.
He aims to fundamentally transform America. Few conservative critics understand, or are willing to state, that when Obama hands over American wealth, his intended recipients are color-coded.
And our Native American sisters and brothers who were pushed and bullied and mistreated…No more broken treaties. No more broken treaties. Give them the wealth! Give them the wealth! Give them the dignity. Give them the respect that they deserve. No justice on stolen land. We owe them a debt.
Jones was recruited by Obama’s alter ego Valerie Jarrett.
Obama said on the campaign trail, “I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds.” Somehow, neither the mainstream media nor most conservative outlets understood this would result in, well, deeds.
This is much a part of Obama’s long-standing effort to belittle America B.B.O. (Before Barack Obama). He has an almost all-encompassing fixation on “our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history.”
In a 2001 public radio interview, Obama said one of the civil rights movement’s “tragedies” was its failure “to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change.” Redistribution of wealth, he said, is “a process that is essentially administrative.” He assessed civil rights organizations needed an “activist” executive branch — especially the Justice Department. And having assembled the largest coalition of power in the nation on November 4, 2008, his administration has lived up to his rhetoric. Obama continues at every turn to tear at the nation’s fraying economic, and racial, fabric to serve his extremist ideology. His flirtation with ruling by executive order prove he is willing to shove his agenda through by any means he deems necessary.
His supporters should be ashamed they did not heed those who warned of Obama’s public agenda beforehand. And the ever-increasing majority that opposes his economically destructive, unconstitutional, and racially fractious policies must resolve to oppose Obama by any legal means necessary.