King of the Race Con Monday

“He’s the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement,” renowned anti- death-penalty lawyer Millard Farmer says of Dees, his former associate, “though I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.” 

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are simply amateurs when it comes to flim-flamming the American public in the hatred for dollars game.  The undisputed champion of fraud and swindle in the race bait racket is none other than Morris Dees, an Alabama lawyer and grifter who turned racial animus, regional ignorance, virtue signaling and moral superiority into hundreds of millions of dollars and a lavish way of life.

Carl Cannon at Real Clear Politics,

Dees also started a nonprofit, which he named the Southern Poverty Law Center. But he gave up neither the high life nor the direct-mail business. He lives in luxury with his fifth wife and still runs the SPLC, which has used the mail-order model to amass a fortune. Its product line is an unusual one: For the past 47 years, Morris Dees has been selling fear and hate.

The business model is simple, albeit cynical, and best illustrated by its most famous case. In 1987, a Dees-led legal team won a $7 million judgment against the Ku Klux Klan in a wrongful death suit on behalf of Beulah Mae Donald, the mother of a 19-year-old kid murdered by members of the racist group. But the defendants’ total assets amounted to a building worth $52,000. That’s how much Mrs. Donald, who died the following year, received. But Dees reaped $9 million for the SPLC from fundraising solicitations about the case, including one showing a grisly photo of Michael Donald’s corpse.

Charlotte Allen at Weekly Standard,

Irony turns out to be what the SPLC is all about. Thanks to the generosity of four decades’ worth of donors, many of whom—as SPLC president Richard Cohen himself noted in a telephone interview with me—are aging Northern-state “1960s liberals” who continue to associate “Southern” and “poverty” with lynchings, white-hooded Klansmen, and sitting at the back of the bus, and thanks also to what can only be described as the sheer genius at direct-mail marketing of Dees, the SPLC’s 76-year-old lawyer-founder, who was already a multimillionaire by the late 1960s from the direct-mail sales of everything from doormats to cookbooks, the SPLC is probably the richest poverty organization in the history of the world. From its very beginning the SPLC, thanks to Dees’s talent for crafting multi-page alarmist fundraising letters, has not only continuously operated in the black, but has steadily accumulated a mountain of surpluses augmented by a shrewdly managed investment portfolio. Today the SPLC’s net assets total more than $256 million (that figure appears on the SPLC’s 2011 tax return, the latest posted on the organization’s website). That represented a more-than-doubling of the $120 million in net assets that the SPLC reported in 2000, which was itself more than a doubling of the $52 million in net assets that the SPLC reported during the mid-1990s.

In 2000, Ken Silverstein at Harper’s,

The more money the SPLC receives, the less that goes to other civil rights organizations, many of which, including the NAACP, have struggled to stay out of bankruptcy. Dees’s compensation alone amounts to one quarter the annual budget of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, which handles several dozen death-penalty cases a year. “You are a fraud and a conman,” the Southern Center’s director, Stephen Bright, wrote in a 1996 letter to Dees, and proceeded to list his many reasons for thinking so, which included “your failure to respond to the most desperate needs of the poor and powerless despite your millions upon millions, your fund-raising techniques, the fact that you spend so much, accomplish so little, and promote yourself so shamelessly.” Soon the SPLC win move into a new six-story headquarters in downtown Montgomery, just across the street from its current headquarters, a building known locally as the Poverty Palace.

And this would not be complete without an excerpt or three from the notorious State of Alabama divorce decree of Morris and Maureene Dees,

Although Maureene was subjected to a number of degrading sexual episodes
by Morris during the marriage which will be discussed hereafter, neither
Morris nor Maureene ever wanted or sought a divorce until Morris established
his permanent relationship with Vicki Booker McGaha in August of 1977.  It
was Morris' absolute refusal to give up his mistress, whom he was supporting
and whom he had made pregnant, that directly caused termination of 
Maureene's marriage and forced her to institute these divorce proceedings.
   In August, 1977, Morris tried the "Weisenhunt case" in Birmingham, and
became acquainted with Vicki Booker McGaha, who was a member of that jury 
(R. 1459).  Thereafter, Morris and Vicki began a sexual affair which has 
still not ended, and which was the cause of termination of two marriages.

And this disgusting episode,

After supper, they had all gone to bed in sleeping bags, when Maureene
woke up and found Morris and Deborah naked, having sex on the
sandbar (R. 306). Morris turned to Maureene and insisted that she
have sex with the other man. (R. 306). Later Maureene went back to
sleep and woke up shortly before dawn, and found Morris and Deborah
having intercourse again right next to her (R. 307).

Most appalling of all involving his future daughter-in-law,

Before Karen and Scooter were married, when
they were eighteen or nineteen, which was three or four years ago,
an incident occurred on Mother's Day at the family home in Mathews
(R. 345). The Dees had Karen and Scooter to dinner at the house,
and they cooked out (R. 346). While Scooter and Maureene were
cleaning up and washing dishes, Karen and Morris went out to go
swimming (R. 345). Five or ten minutes later, Maureene and Scooter
started down the path toward the pool, with Maureene in front. As
she approached the gate, she could see Morris and Karen standing
with their arms around each other with no clothes on, and Morris had
an erection. Maureene immediately turned and told Scooter that she
did not want to go swimming and the two of them headed back to the
house without Scooter having seen anything (R. 347).

Friday Open Thread

Shirley Slade, WWII WASP pilot of B-26 and B-39

In 1942, the United States was faced with a severe shortage of pilots, so an experimental program to replace males with female pilots was created. The group of female pilots was called the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. Shirley Slade was one of about 1,100 chosen. She was trained to fly the B-26 and B-39, and that got her put on the cover of Life magazine in 1943 at about 23 years old.

Wednesday’s Crony Open Comments

For one thing, conservatives are cheap dates. You do not have to convince the readers of National Review or Republicans in Valparaiso that American business is in general a force for good in the world.

For one thing, there is a kind of moral asymmetry at work: Conservatives may roll their eyes a little bit at promises to build windmills so efficient that we’ll cease needing coal and oil, but progressives (at least a fair portion of them) believe that using fossil fuels may very well end human civilization. The nation’s F-150 drivers are not going to organize a march on Chevron’s headquarters if it puts a billion bucks into biofuels, but the nation’s Subaru drivers might very well do so if it doesn’t.

The same asymmetry characterizes the so-called social issues. The Left will see to it that Brendan Eich is driven out of his position at Mozilla for donating to an organization opposed to gay marriage, but the Right will not see to it that Tim Cook is driven out of his position for supporting gay marriage. For the Right, the question of gay marriage is an important moral and political disagreement, but for the Left the exclusion of homosexual couples from the legal institution of marriage was something akin to Jim Crow, and support for it isn’t erroneous, it is wicked. Even those on the right who proclaim that they regard the question of homosexual relationships as a national moral emergency do not behave as though they really believe it: Remember that boycott of Disney theme parks launched with great fanfare by the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, and the Southern Baptist Convention back in 1996? Nothing happened, because conservative parents are not telling their toddlers that they cannot go to Disney World because the people who run the park are too nice to that funny blonde lady who has the talk show and dances in the aisles with her audience.

and this historical gem,

If you have not read it, spare a moment for William H. Whyte’s Cold War classic. In the 1950s, Whyte, a writer for Fortune, interviewed dozens of important CEOs and found that they mostly rejected the ethos of rugged individualism in favor of a more collectivist view of the world. The capitalists were not much interested in defending the culture of capitalism. What he found was that the psychological and operational mechanics of large corporations were much like those of other large organizations, including government agencies, and that American CEOs believed, as they had believed since at least the time of Frederick Winslow Taylor and his 19th-century cult of “scientific management,” that expertise deployed through bureaucracy could impose rationality on such unruly social entities as free markets, culture, family, and sexuality. The supplanting of spontaneous order with political discipline is the essence of progressivism, then and now.

Read the whole damn thing.