Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Obama Reneges on Key Agreement with Immigration Advocates

ICE Mutiny?


One of the key provisions of the Obama administration's tough new immigration enforcement strategy is coming under fire again. The program, known as "Secure Communities," allows federal immigration authorities to obtain the fingerprints of any illegal alien booked in the nation's jails, and to have that alien detained for deportation. It's already resulted in an unprecedented number of deportations - some 400,000 in 2009 alone - with an equal number expected this year. And when the program's finally extended nationwide in 2013 – it's currently active in about 30 states, but in only a third of the nation's jails - the annual rate could reach 700,000 or more.

Immigration activists -- furious with the Obama administration for laying the groundwork for what amounts to a mass deportation program -- thought they'd extracted an agreement from the White House and from the Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, to scale back Secure Communities in two ways. First, to refocus the program on hard-core felony offenders, rather than low-level misdemeanor cases, and second, to allow local jurisdictions like San Francisco – still officially a "sanctuary" city - to completely opt out of participating in the program if their citizens objected.

In addition, lobbying by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), chief sponsor of the DREAM Act that would legalize as many as 2 million illegal alien youth, had apparently secured a personal guarantee from President Obama that prospective DREAM beneficiaries would not be processed for deportation until the full Congress had had a chance to vote on his long-stalled bill. Obama, in fact, publicly endorsed DREAM in his first-ever speech on immigration policy at American University last July. It is also strongly supported by Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other senior Democrats who recently tried to force a floor vote on the bill, to no avail.

But now it appears that the administration has reneged on key parts of its deal with pro-immigration activists. Why? Largely because career Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials who are heavily invested in the agency's expanding enforcement empire are refusing to go along. These officials don't want to suspend deportation proceedings against selected classes of immigrants, like the DREAM kids, or even to refocus the program narrowly on "criminal" aliens - no matter what the ICE leadership says. And because of their near-revolt, it appears that senior ICE officials have reversed themselves, and will require that all local jurisdictions participate in Secure Communities, whether they actually want to or not.

News of the internal ICE revolt first came to light in an article published in the Washington Post on August 27, based on investigative reporting by journalist Andrew Beck. Beck found that the center of resistance to Obama policy was from middle level field managers, ICE attorneys and the ICE employee union. The conflict is as old as the agency itself, which for years when it was known as the Immigration and naturalization Service, or INS, frequently found itself torn between directives from the political appointees named to lead the agency, and its career personnel. But because Congress and the country are unusually divided on basic immigration policy issues, the internal conflicts have become especially fierce.

And dissenting career ICE personnel, like federal bureaucrats elsewhere, are known to share information with sympathetic members of Congress to get their point across – and to try to forestall the policies that they object to. That's probably how GOP conservatives obtained a series of internal ICE memos earlier this year that revealed that the Obama administration was reviewing options for how it might use executive authority to legalize selected classes of illegal aliens, circumventing the need for a possible vote by Congress. That prospect – dubbed an "executive amnesty" by critics – has infuriated GOP leaders, and has even caused senior Republicans like Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who otherwise support immigration reform, to break ranks with the White House.

The main options review memo, which was prepared by ICE's chief of policy, Denise Vanson, an Obama appointee, makes for interesting reading. The memo, entitled "Administrative Options to Comprehensive Immigration Reform," reviews a handful of ways that Obama could decide to re-classify prospective deportation cases, including the granting of "temporary protected status" (TPS) or "deferred enforced departure" (DED) to some or even all of the 11 million illegal aliens currently in the US. In addition to focusing on a specific class of aliens like the DREAM kids, the memo discusses the possibility that all illegal aliens present in the country since 1996 – in other words, those with at least 15 years of residency – could be granted "deferred" status.

The memo warns, though, that any attempt to utilize TPS or DED to legalize all 11 million aliens would likely cause enormous and unacceptable public controversy. Anonymous ICE officials who have since commented on the Vanson memo say that Obama has no intention of using TPS or DED to conduct a sweeping amnesty. But despite repeated urgings by Sen. Charles Grassley and other Republican critics, White House officials have steadfastly refused to rule out more selective use of TPS or DED, should Congress fail to pass a legalization bill. No such timetable for doing so has been discussed, however, and it appears that Obama wants to use the threat more as leverage to bring GOP leaders to the table – at least eventually.

It's still unclear whether Napolitano herself change her mind about the opt-out or whether, as appears more likely senior ICE officials are seeking to circumvent her authority, and indeed, by discussing their position off the record, are engaged in what amounts to a bureaucraticmutiny. Immigration advocates were counting on the "opt out" clause as a way or organizing local citizens to pressure their county and city governments to refuse to go along with the program until a legalization bill was passed. In addition to San Francisco, Washington, DC and several other localities have already voted formally not to participate.

But at least one senior ICE official - possibly John Morton, the ICE chief – has made clear to reporters there's nothing dissenting county and local government can actually do to stop Secure Communities. Once the fingerprints of arrested suspects are forwarded to the FBI, to check for outstanding warrants, and past criminal history, the FBI has an agreement to send the same fingerprints to ICE to verify legal status. As I have reported here previously, it doesn't matter whether the suspects are guilty of a crime, let alone a major one. Once ICE gets their fingerprints, and verifies that the suspect is in the country illegally, it asks local officials to detain the suspect for deportation. Under current US law, local officials are obligated to comply.

Immigration activists are reviewing whether it might be possible to administratively sever the link between the FBI and ICE that allows the two agencies to verify the status of arrestees without the compliance of local elected officials, and without the fingerprints being sent to ICE from local jails, which was the established procedure. But ICE and FBI already collaborate in the identification and arrest of fugitive aliens as well as criminal alien smuggling gangs. It might take a special executive order, but in an election year, with Obama already under fire for going "soft" on his own crackdown, and amid fears of an "executive amnesty," the president is unlikely to pursue such an option.

In the final analysis, all of these simmering policy disputes and bureaucratic battles are only a morbid symptom the current federal deadlock on immigration reform. Officially, Obama says he favors a third way between "mass deportation" and "mass amnesty." But mass amnesty is virtually impossible to push through Congress in the current climate, which will only get worse after November. Most of the likely incoming GOP members of the House and Senate are already on record opposing even a partial amnesty like DREAM. Which means all we're left with – failing high-risk executive action, or a different legislative compromise formula, which has yet to emerge – is the current de facto policy of mass deportation.

Stewart J. Lawrence is a Washington, DC-based immigration policy specialist. He can be reached at stewartlawrence81147@gmail.com.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fallout From the Mesherle Verdict

More Arrests, New Charges 


Approximately seventeen people have been charged over the past three weeks with crimes related to the protests against former BART cop Johannes Mehserle's involuntary manslaughter verdict on July 8th. Some of those recently charged were arrested that night, while others have been identified by police in photos, and have been newly arrested. The latest set of arraignments on Monday morning saw three Oaklanders charged with Unlawful Assembly, Remaining at the Scene of a Riot, and Rioting. They are set to reappear in court within the next month.

Five people arrested on July 8th remain in the Santa Rita County Jail, and at least three who were arrested last week remain incarcerated. Accordingto the Oakland 100 Support Committee, one of the earlier arrestees was held for over 30 days before charges were filed against him. He now faces a slew of charges which include failure to disperse, although, again according to the Oakland 100 Support Committee, he was arrested before the order to disperse was given.

Art Jackson, who spent 45 days in jail after being arrested on the night of the protests has been charged with crimes related to the looting of the Footlocker shoe store on Broadway Avenue by 14th Street. In a recent statement, Jackson explained that he did not commit any of the crimes he is being charged with. Among those charges are second degree burglary, petty theft with a prior, and receiving stolen property.

Soon after the protests, the Oakland Police Department issues a press release explaining that some of the people arrested were taking "advantage of a chaotic situation by looting Oakland businesses." While to some extent this appears true, Rachel Lederman and Walter Riley of the Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild make it very clear that it was the police forces themselves who made the situation chaotic.

In a statement condemning the police action on that evening, Lederman said that "The aggressive use of police formations, baton beatings and indiscriminate arrests were unnecessary and violated people's constitutional right to protest. To make things even worse, OPD violated state law by jailing people for long periods of time who had been arrested for very minor offenses."

Long time community activist and NLG member Riley agreed that in the protests, which in some cases turned into legal violations, the police, fully clad in riot gear, were not keeping the peace. Soon after the protests he said, "The police were provocative and seemed determined to instigate violence, which of course, served their police contract negotiations with Oakland at a time when they are facing layoffs of 80 officers." He added, "The police helped to perpetuate a narrative of violence by allowing a small number of people to vandalize businesses when they could have stopped it."

On the other hand, however, at a press conference on the day following the verdict, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums made a statement praising the OPD for restraining itself and respecting the civil rights of community members. The number of people charged with crimes relating to the protests against Mehserle's verdict continues to increase, apparently in relation to responses the police have gotten to a press release pressing community members to "Please take a moment to review the images [on their website] and help us identfy individuals who looted Oakland businesses"—spelling error and all.

The Oakland 100 Support Committee is calling for support from the community to help in the defense of the people who were arrested during those protests. A list of court dates and locations as well as a way to donate to support court and lawyer fees are available on their website.

Jesse Strauss is an independent journalist, born and raised in Oakland,
Reach him at jstrauss (at) riseup.net.

Belief is the death of intelligence--Robert Anton Wilson

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Autumn of the Driveler

CounterPunch Diary


Some world leaders mature as they head into the sunset: Jimmy Carter often makes more sense in his eighties than he did as president nearly four decades ago. Others spare the world their midnight thoughts, not always voluntarily. Ronald Reagan succumbed to Alzheimers; Ariel Sharon is still animate, albeit effectively dead to the world. Alas, Fidel Castro just broke an arm and a kneecap when he tripped on that fateful concrete step six years ago. Would that he had bitten off his tongue and thus spared his erstwhile admirers, myself included, the sound of this once great revolutionary plunging into kookdom.

If President Raúl Castro wants to defend Cuba's record on human rights, all he needs to do point to the fact that his brother has not been deposed from his formal position as First Secretary of the Communist Party, and carted off to an isolation ward in the Casa de Dementes, Havana's psychiatric hospital. Instead he has unstinted access to the state radio and the newspaper Granma.

In both of these media Castro, now 84, has spouted a steady stream of drivel.

Memorable among these forays intonutdom was his outburst of conspiracism on the sixth anniversary of the Trade Center/Pentagon attacks with the whole slab of nonsense read out by a Cuban television presenter.

Castro claimed that the Pentagon was hit by a rocket, not a plane, because no traces were found of its passengers. "Only a projectile could have created the geometrically round orifice created by the alleged airplane," according to Fidel. "We were deceived as well as the rest of the planet's inhabitants." All nonsense of course. There were remains of the passengers on the plane that hit the Pentagon, in the form of teeth and other bits traced through DNA. Hundreds of people saw the plane -- people who know the difference between a plane and a cruise missile. The wreckage of the plane was hauled out from the site.

It's logical that maximum leaders like Castro are conspiracists by disposition. Since they are control freaks, the random and the accidental are alien to their frame of reference. If it happened, it happened for a reason. And if a bad thing happened, it was very probably a conspiracy.

More recently, in early August of this year Castro touted to his audience in Cuba and across the world his sympathy with one of the standard mantras of nutdom, which is the belief that the world is run by the Bilderberg Club.

The 84-year-old former Cuban president published an article on August 18, spread across three of the eight pages of the Communist Party newspaper Granma, quoting in extenso from the Lithuanian-born writer Daniel Estulin's 'The Secrets of the Bilderberg Club,' (2006) alleging the Bilderbergers control everything, which must mean that they pack a lot in to the three-day session the Club holds each year as its sole public activity. Of course they probably skype each other a lot too and rot out their brains plotting and planning on their cell phones.

Followers of the Alex Jones (Radio) Show, a sanctuary of conspiracism, no doubt remember Estulin's claim in 2007 that he had "received information from sources inside the U.S. intelligence community which suggests that people from the highest levels of the U.S. government are considering an assassination attempt against Congressman Ron Paul because they are threatened by his burgeoning popularity." The bits of Estulin's book reverently quoted by Castro, who called Estulin honest and well informed, retread some of the doctrines of Lyndon LaRouche, one of the most lurid conspiracists in political history, (though I do have affectionate memories of LaRouche's claim in 1984 in a ad running on the CBS network that former vice president Walter Mondale, then running against Ronald Reagan for the Oval Office, was an "agent of influence" of the Soviet Intelligence services. At the time LaRouchies were in close contact with the Reagan White House.)

On the evidence of his quotes from Estulin, Castro is much taken by Estulin's view that members of the Marxist Frankfurt School such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who fled to the US from the Nazis before World War Two, had been recruited by the Rockefellers to popularize rock music to "control the masses" by seducing them from the fight for civil rights and social justice. According to Estulin, reverently quoted by Castro, 'The man charged with ensuring that the Americans liked the Beatles was Walter Lippmann himself.'

So Fidel Castro believes that the Beatles were invented by the Rockefellers, and that Walter Lippmann, the pundit who drafted President Wilson's Fourteen Points in 1918, crowned his literary/political career in 1968 by sending John Lennon the lyrics for "Revolution", with its demobilizing message: "You say you want a revolution /Well, you know /We all want to change the world /… But when you talk about destruction /Don't you know that you can count me out." (In fact I seem to remember that Lennon actually wrote the song as an answer to my friends Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn, who as members of New Left Review and the Fourth International had suggested to Lennon that the Beatles pony up some dough to finance the revolutionary cause.)

And now Castro's latest outing into political asininity has been to give an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg, of the Atlantic, allowing the man Castro cordially describes as "a great journalist" to cite Castro as saying that the Cuban economic model has been a disaster.

Goldberg is an appalling journalist, whose most notable achievement was to run an enormous piece in the New Yorker in the run-up to the attack on Iraq in 2003, which was one of the most effective exercises in disinformation designed to stoke up the Congress and public opinion in favor of the war. The piece was billed as containing disclosures of "Saddam Hussein's possible ties to al Qaeda."

This was at a moment when the FBI and CIA had just shot down the war party's claim of a meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague before the 9/11 attacks. Goldberg saved the day for the Bush crowd. At the core of his rambling, 16,000-word article was an interview in the Kurdish-held Iraqi town of Sulaimaniya with Mohammed Mansour Shahab, who offered the eager Goldberg a wealth of detail about his activities as a link between Osama bin Laden and the Iraqis, shuttling arms and other equipment.

The piece was gratefully seized upon by the Administration as proof of The Link. The coup de grâce to Goldberg's credibility came on February 9, 2003 in the London Observer, administered by Jason Burke, its chief reporter. Burke visited the same prison in Sulaimaniya, talked to Shahab and established beyond doubt that Goldberg's great source is a clumsy liar, not even knowing the physical appearance of Kandahar, whither he had claimed to have journeyed to deal with bin Laden; and confecting his fantasies in the hope of a shorter prison sentence. Needless to say, Burke's demolition was not picked up in the U.S. press, nor has the New Yorker ever apologized for Goldberg's story, certainly as pernicious as anything offered by Judy Miller in the New York Times.

Since Castro has been sounding tremendous alarums about a possible attack on Iran, it's bizarre to find him lofting Goldberg, a former member of the Israeli Defense Force, to the journalistic pantheon and taking pains to paint his fellow 9/11 conspiracist, president Ahmadinejad of Iran, as an anti-Semite.

Some on the left see Castro's deprecating remarks about the failure of the Cuban economic model as part of a tactical maneuver to help his brother institute the "reforms" that will see somewhere between half a million and million Cubans lose their jobs. I see it as a spectacularly foolish misjudgement by Castro, who told Goldberg "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore" and later said he was misinterpreted and that he meant the exact opposite, which is obvious nonsense.

Then Castro took Goldberg to – of all disgusting things – a dolphin exhibition. Lock the old fool up I say, free the dolphins and turn the exhibition into a theme park for all the CIA's efforts to kill Castro, including booby-trapping a coral reef. The ironies of history: the CIA failed, and here's Castro taking up the task, methodically assassinating his reputation, week after week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Glenn Beck Channels Lunatic, Disassociated Rage Into a Quasi-Movement...

By Wallace C. Turbeville, NewDeal 2.0

A little over a week ago we were treated to Glenn Beck's quasi-religious extravaganza on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. I have had a gnawing sense that there was some greater meaning to this event, despite the absence of any apparent substance in the messages delivered.

Then it hit me: I recalled that, in a 2009 New York Times interview, Glenn Beck compared himself with Howard Beale, the character portrayed magnificently by Peter Finch in the 1976 film "Network." The metamorphosis of Beck into a self-proclaimed prophet of an ideologically conservative God suddenly made complete sense.

In Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay, Beale was a newscaster who suffered a psychological break when informed that he was to be fired because of low ratings. He wandered into the studio wearing his pajamas, drenched from walking in a thunderstorm, and delivered the famous speech urging viewers to throw open their windows and scream, "I'm as mad as hell, and I am not going to take it any more." Of course, the viewers complied en masse and Beale was given his own show that featured his lunatic rants. Ratings soared.

Before his famous exhortation, Beale recounted a list of problems plaguing society and admitted that he was totally clueless as to any solutions. Chayefsky was unsympathetic with Beale's audience. He brilliantly described the mass insanity of a public willing to follow a prophet with no inkling of a way to address problems, based only lunatic, disassociated anger. Chayefsky intended that "mad" be read as having both of its meanings. He was appalled by the public's self-indulgent eagerness to transform the immediate gratification of a primal scream into a social movement.

It is instructive to recall how Beale met his end. Network management found it necessary to restrain Beale when his rants put corporate strategy at risk. In redirecting Beale, they inadvertently reattached his mind, however tenuously, with rationality. Beale started speaking (quite eloquently) about the dehumanization of society, advising his viewers to make the best of the situation because the trend was irreversible. Ratings plummeted, not because the public disagreed, but because they became bored. As the film's narrator put it, "No one particularly cared to hear that his life was utterly valueless." The amoral head of programming, Diana Christensen, arranged to have Beale gunned down on live TV by the Ecumenical Liberation Army (they also had a prime time reality show, "The Mao Tse-Tung Hour"). That final show was a great success for the Network, if not for Beale.

Glenn Beck proves that Paddy Chayefsky's observations of American society in the 1970's are just as valid today.

I have often wondered whether Beck is a lunatic, exploited by Fox News and deserving of our sympathy. After all, he suffers from macular dystrophy, an inability to focus vision on the real world. (Chayefsky would have loved the irony.) But I now believe that he is sane (and I suppose deserving of no sympathy). He understands that disassociated anger is cathartic for today's public. Nonsensical conspiracy theories and baseless ridicule are entertaining fillers, but his real stock-in-trade is the public's rage at a "system" that must have betrayed them because their dreams have not been fulfilled. People are angry because they feel powerless to change conditions that they dislike. They cannot even describe what the problem is because no leader has articulated it. A rational explanation would at least mitigate the rage by calming anxieties. But no progressive leader has the courage to try it, and it is not in the conservatives' interest to do so. You might say that the public's experience is dehumanizing (but if you did, you would bore the audience).

The facts suggest that Beck is more Diana Christensen than Howard Beale. Like her, he understands that news, in the sense of events and public policies, cannot contend with entertainment in a world dominated by fear and uncertainty. He has simply chosen to be his own prophet. His claim to be a mouthpiece of God appears cynically calculated to complete the construction of a modern-day equivalent of Chayefsky's Network. As Max Schumacher, the only principled character in the film said of Christensen: "You are television incarnate, Diana [read, Glenn] — indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality."

This is all far more important than Glenn Beck. I believe that this disassociated rage has been an important characteristic of American society for at least 40 years. It is a product of the self-important and self-indulgent baby boomers (like me), who have always been susceptible to the message that they should hold on to their own money rather than sharing it, in the form of taxes, in pursuit of the greater good. The anger and cynicism, initially directed at the "system," was eventually turned on the government. The only leader whose message resonated in this era was Ronald Reagan — "Government cannot solve the problem; it is the problem."

Ideological conservatism has ruled the day for 40 years. The genius of the New Deal, in retreat throughout this period, was not ideology. It was the pragmatic observation that the only way to achieve long-term prosperity is for the government to draw the weak and less wealthy into participation in the economy. Left to their own devices, the strong and wealthy will rationally act in their own short-term interests. Only government can act in the collective long-term interest. The unbridled free enterprise and deregulation advocated by conservative ideologues can make a few people wealthy in the short-run, but it is unsustainable because middle- and lower- income families will inevitably be left behind.

What has been missing is a progressive leader willing to risk telling the public the truth. The middle- and lower-classes have been getting poorer. The quality of their employment in good times has deteriorated; and progressively, in each downturn, unemployment persists for longer and longer periods after the economy improves. As high school and college graduation rates have stagnated, the American dream of boundless opportunity has withered away, even for their children. Even the apparent success of the wealthiest is unsustainable unless increasing income disparity is reversed.

What an opportunity for progressives to redirect this anger toward conservative ideologies that have decimated the American Dream! For Mr. Obama, the path to a transformational presidency was, and hopefully still is, to channel this energy into an all-out effort to restore balance to the economy.

Chayefsky also created a character, Arthur Jensen, who was the head of the Network. Assuming his best voice-of-God tone, he tried to convince Beale to proclaim a utopian world view in which businesses roamed free of government interference, his "corporate cosmology." When Beale nervously asked why he should be the chosen prophet for this new world order, Jensen answered: "Because you are on the television, you dummy." Glenn Beck needs to be reminded that Arthur Jensen was not God; he was just a character in a movie.

Wallace C. Turbeville is the former CEO of VMAC LLC and a former Vice President of Goldman, Sachs & Co. He is Visiting Scholar at the Roosevelt Institute.

Monday, September 13, 2010


William K. Black, Naked Capitalism - The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision allows businesses to make unlimited political contributions to judges and politicians. When judges are elected, the need for these contributions inherently turns judges into politicians. Sympathetic judges are corrupt businesses' most valuable allies. Corporations and their senior officials can commit civil or criminal wrongs with impunity if their case is assigned to a friendly judge. The Robber Barons often had judges on their payrolls. Judges can serve a corporation as both a shield and a sword. They can declare statutes and regulations unlawful. They can issue favorable decisions when corporations sue their critics, which can intimidate, tie up, or even bankrupt the critics.

The fact that corporations are "investing" so heavily in getting pro-business judges elected demonstrates that their CEOs believe that the election of friendly judges will increase their incomes and decrease the risk that they will ever be sanctioned.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Heart of Corporate Darkness

By STEPHEN MARTIN, Counterpunch

'Mistah Kurtz, he dead'
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.

It really is so very difficult to attempt to understand what is going on in the World today, though perhaps the point as made by Karl Marx; that the priority is not to understand the World but to change it is valid - and we certainly live in time of change - sense of 'Sic Transit Gloria Mundi'?

This small article seeks to examine what amounts to Political horror; that horror which is Corporatism become synonymous with 'Ecocide', and describable as 'Heart of Darkness'.

These small quarters write as a 'Prole', sense of George Orwell's abbreviation of 'Proletariat'; and it is certainly the case that Orwell had a sublime consciousness. His concept of 'Inner Party, Outer Party and Prole' holds approximate sense of Gini Co-efficient today in most parts of the Western World - as does his vision of 'Geopolitical Power Block' as 'supra National'; sense of 'Eastasia, Eurasia and Oceania', express prescience?

The Proletariat, and indeed the 'Lumpenproletariat' or 'Proletariat in rags', are growing in number daily in the Western World given the shrinkage of the middle classes under the onslaught of Economic Depression - and are increasingly liable to be viewed as 'superfluous' accordant the growth of power of 'Inner Party' as 'Masters of the Universe' or '?bermenschen'?

'Population Control' is a euphemism as can be employed by 'Philanthropists' who see themselves as '?bermenschen', and to whom 'Genocide' concerning the elimination of 'Prole' as '?ntermenschen' is but only a further step along the Corporate line in an Orthodoxy demanding seeing others as less worthy of Life - and as to be so 'constrained'?

So it goes.

It is a questionable proposition that the engineering of an Economic Depression constitutes Population Control?

The horror!

These small quarters write expressive of a psychophysical consciousness which is reflective of a neurophysiological integration, involving an 'anamnesis' as put by Socrates, and within context of a 'Paradigm' as would be determined by Empiricism. It is ultimately through Empiricism that Corporatism as an Orthodoxy has been spawned, much along the lines of 'Dialectic' as enumerated by Marx concerning relationship to means of Production determined by Science as a fruit of Empiricism - as it is also through same Empiricism as paradigm Corporate that a mere Prole is not 'meant' to use words such as 'psychophysical' or 'neurophysiological' - as Orwell in his concept of 'Newspeak' acknowledged?

The point being made is that the 'Heart of Darkness' is not only 'out there' in Cartesian sense of particular best laid scheme being played with 'matter', but is also 'in here' sense of best laid scheme being played with 'mind'?

The point is also that the 'Inner Party' as Stateless Bastards imposing Orthodoxy for gain 'Utilitarian' have a variety of ways of 'grinding' Man down through the imposition of illusion directed at destroying Hope; or at the very least rendering it capable of being described as 'audacious'?

Asking the 'right questions' in a Panopticon comes with the risk of being 'unintelligible' or labelled 'derogatory' - such the control as they who would have wrong questions asked have attained – never mind the truth that 'hope springs eternal in the human breast' as Pope stated?

The pragmatism of the Corporatist Age in which we currently 'live' will surely be viewed in the future as being 'Dark' as Lichtenberg proposed; and in such illumination the Horror of the Age as illusion imposed will necessarily be faced and recognised for the denial it was?

'Grundrisse' as outlines critique of Political Economy is Marx's prescience concerning the inevitable effects of concentration of wealth as a polarisation of power- and the degeneration of Capitalist Democracy to Corporatism?

That 'History is written by the 'Victorious' was illustrated through alternative interpretation expressing a transcendence of such 'paradigm' by Howard Zinn - as an iconoclast concerning Orthodox American History?

For as there are certain Men as cannot be 'ground down' sense of Illegitimum non carborundum, and who retainthe right to have own opinions, idiosyncratic or offensive as they may be, but whose consciousness constitutes the attempt at 'CounterPunch' against Corporatist illusion in the denial of denial; so there is orthodox propaganda founded in a cynical pragmatic of the materialism which Corporatism has come to represent at the level of hegemony?

Squeezed out to the margins through technologically enhanced Hegemony of Orthodoxy; the narrative of those as are able to refuse reduction to the cynicism of pragmatism and deny imprisonment within the paradigm of illusion yet remains a vital sign of 'Political Life on the Planet' -though there exists an ongoing effort to render such not only 'illegitimate' but 'unintelligible'? Corporatism 'works' by means of invisible restraint as of 'unwritten rule' concerning what is palatable, what is acceptable, what will be 'rewarded' - and in the final analysis what is comprehensible?

As Orwell put sublimely in 1984:

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?…The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

For we all exist in a 'cage' do we not, such as 'Yellow Submarine' as song sung of represents 'imprisonment' of sensibilities, and for some such a 'tubular cage' is more constraining, and not just in the singularity of 'One Dimensional Man', as Marcuse put, but also by way of multiplicity; as in the context of 'Realpolitik' the imperative exists of division, as of by way of the Roman maxim which has rationale of 'conquering', by way of illusion become as between 'Republican' or 'Democrat' concerning the power of 'Inner Party' - and as there can be 'cages within a cage'?

The Corporatist Orthodoxy demands a uniformity which has the inevitable developmental line of marginalising Humanity through abrogation of Life as denial of Truth in the propagation of Death - as the acceptance of Lie as an unconsciousness; as in 'no need to think'?

The tragedy of such Darkness' as would be even at 'Noon' sense of Koestler, is that such cage will become ever more confining but yet would be 'unseen' under the illusion which is expressive of 'power of mind over mind'.

The tragedy of America contemporaneous is of the Darkness of a Panopticon, such as the Heart of Corporatism would 'pump up the volume' to point of incapacitating level; as in where Man cannot hear himself or herself think – and so gives up the ghost' concerning the imperative of consciousness?

Concerning Politics as 'moral economics', there is a Manichean aspect; given the acknowledgement of 'morality'?

These small quarters seeing the trend contemporaneous in Western World as being primarily evil, as evident in the infliction of sufferance epitomised by Corporatism.

At present these small quarters can only speak as a 'mushroom' kept in a particular darkness the intent of power of mind over mind. In such darkness there exists as 'foodstuff' a certain kind of 'shit' which defines the demanded illusion of 'geopolitical power block'. The unity of such power block is expressed in the currency, or money which is believed in, and controlled as of the exercise of a hidden taxation - to the 'wetting of the beak' in Mafia parlance by the 'Inner Party' as International Financier?

That 'The Heart of Corporate Darkness' is to be found within a 'Continuity of Memoranda' relating to identifiable horrors is the proposition of this small article.

In mind here is the 'Ford Pinto Memo' as real and demonstrable - and a Memorandum as must exist somewhere concerning the 'Gulf of Mexico', which summates the mechanics of deliberation concerning disaster as a series of pragmatic calculations within an obscene and warped Orthodoxy, realised in the denial of Life?

Increasingly mere 'Proles' such as these small quarters are being 'asked' to 'suspend disbelief' in the face of a crafted illusion which is wreaking 'havoc!', given 'unleashing' of the Corporatist 'Dogs of War'; where 'War', as in the multiplicity concerning context of restraint apropos 'cage' above, is a polymorphous horror: ranging from a wrought Economic Depression with its 'collateral damage' of millions impoverished, to the abuse of military force against Nation with its 'collateral damage' of millions killed, to the destruction of Ecosystem with its 'collateral damage' of millions of lives lost - as considered across a wondrous diversity of species.

America, Iraq and the Gulf of Mexico exemplify respectively.

The horror!, the horror!, the horror!

Yet the manifold forms of Warfare as 'Racket' are not just for Mind, they are ultimately for Soul, such the 'what it is all about' concerning the pump of the Heart of Darkness - as every beat of dark bastard heart leads to further sufferance reflecting breakdown of 'Life'; which in the case of America means making a mockery, to point of tragedy, of the best Political Constitution which the World has yet seen, through the destruction of 'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness' evident through impoverishment of the Citizenry - and the diversion, under Orthodoxy, of precious resources to a Military Industrial Complex which projects 'Empire' fearful to point of 'shock and awe' under such pitifully perverse illusion as the imposition of Democracy by force in an Irony far from sublime as the grubby racket it represents by way of expropriation?

The horror!

Americans need not look far to see what such horror as irony means; for every American Citizen reliant on Food Stamp to survive, every American Citizen under threat of foreclosure and homelessness, every American Citizen living in fear of losing livelihood, is a testimony to the Obscenity of the Orthodoxy of Corporatism which would continue to propagate cruel illusion denying the horror of such actuality?

Welcome to the 'Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave' - such the 'Doublethink'?

It is not without meaning that the last two published articles by these small quarters this exemplary Journal of Democracy have ended with one particular extract from the Political Constitution of the United States of America as an understanding of what Corporatism represents way of what it can deny - and what is held to be self evident.

For what is held as self evident these small quarters is the destruction of America by an enemy within as would be unseen; the takeover of power to issue money as a 'permit' being as a fatal blow to Democracy, as cannot be hidden despite the truly expensive efforts of Corporatist illusion to deny what is become so clear as it is so tragic, - and given awareness of the concept of 'opportunity cost'?

It is become inevitable, such the Dialectic as reflecting the mechanics of deliberation as can be epitomised in a Memorandum; and as continuity demands consideration of Memoranda, that in America today there is a tragedy of homelessness, a tragedy of businesses closing, a tragedy of immiseration through impoverishment as unemployment and dependency upon food stamp represents; a tragedy which is of the 'cages within cage' of Corporatism - given the prevalence of fear, almost Universal such context as the beat of a 'Heart of Darkness' inevitably pumps out sufferance form of the destruction of Constitution by way of a Panopticon condemned to destroy Truth?

The horror!

It is a tragedy as would be unseen, unmentionable to the pathological state of 'mind' become dominant which is as Corporatism representing the 'ascendancy' of an Orthodoxy through which an Oligarchic Collective 'survives', as within such 'Gutenbergian Galaxy' become digitised, as per McLuhan, such medium contains a message indeed, and it is fearful as it arises from 'Darkness' - as of 'enough never being enough', such the greed as driven maniacal as abrogative of Humanity - or as Satanic as would destroy the Joy which the 'Gift of Life' represents?

'Less than Zero' such the 'Luciferian Burn' as the avoidable death of People in a Ford Pinto become magnified in the avoidable death of Life in the Gulf of Mexico as vehicle of the 'buy in' to illusion - form of trust extended or as permit granted? It is a tragedy of continuity as in a denouement expressive of the degeneration of 'Citizenry' and 'Democracy' by a 'Coterie' as constitutes Oligarchic Collective; it is a tragedy of the slow but sure strangulation of the breath of Life to the point beyond whimper whence last gasp of despair concerning materialism exists; at the end of the 'day' sense of the termination of the period of sunlight direct, such tragedy is of 'cide' can be summative; as in the ascending scale of obscenity represented by, 'sui, ethno, geno, eco' to such suffix.

Rather than 'side' as within humane context of debate as prefix of 'for' or 'against', the ubiquity of 'cide' as a suffix context of inhumane Warfare is a tragedy of expropriation, arrogation and abrogation, such the sadness that mere Corporatism can eliminate Democracy in the marginalisation of Humanity to point of 'hollow man' become dominant - such the 'patter of rat's feet over broken glass'. -T.S. Eliot was in his own way above and beyond the mechanics of deliberation?

Corporatism is a tragedy because it is unnecessary; because it is an avoidable abrogation of potentiality, because as simply put in colloquial vernacular: 'it don't have to be this way'?

The challenge for Corporatism is to sustain and perpetuate a life denying illusion which calls into ever greater question the ability of Man to refuse to believe the evidence of his or her own eyes. The dynamic or dialectic is of the suspension of disbelief given a growing disparity between the illusion as would be imposed, and the day to day reality for the ever growing Majority as truly suffer 'impoverishment Utilitarian'. Orwell saw within such challenge a form of illusion he described as 'Doublethink', encapsulated within the slogans:

'War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, andIgnorance is Strength.'

The motivation for adoption of life denying illusion is as simple as the biological 'rationale' for the diversity of parasitical life; it is material gain and the occupation of a comfortable niche with minimal expenditure of effort and provision of return. It is 'survival' as an imperative experienced as 'superseding' the need to speak up, sense of as Neimöller wrote - for all those who give up the right to 'speak up' experience an inevitable execution through joining the 'chorus' of a Moritaten, or 'Ballad of Death' concerning 'consciousness'?

If humble parasites such as leeches could speak and dream, such would tell of Corporatism as a 'rise' above mere hematophagy and the feed upon lifeblood of an individual host; such would tell of money and power and corruption, and control and manipulation towards the end of ever greater expropriation from a greater diversity - as of all other life become as 'host'?

Such a horror of the Necrotrophy as has destroyed the American Dream?

The Ford Pinto Memorandum is a testimony to the mechanics of deliberation which epitomises Corporatism as Orthodoxy. ' It is 'Life', Jim, and just as we have come to know it'' more the horror, such as a 'Trek amongst the Stars' it is not; but closer to the scatological ravings of perverse degenerates such as coprophagiacs become as Hegemony; such the 'existence' for Man when lunatics take over an asylum. Because the reduction of any life to mere dollars and cents in concept of 'worth' is obscene, and reflects a level of perversity to which the sadness of Coprophagia as a state of perverse degeneracy could represent 'improvement'?

The irony being that Corporatists exist on the premise of People 'eating' the shit of Propaganda; sense of illusion being swallowed as Orthodoxy accepted - and evidence of Man as has own eyes denied?

The Ford Pinto Memorandum concerned Corporate product as designed, built, marketed and branded which had a design flaw which meant an increased risk of the product bursting in to flames in a collision. Given recognition of this flaw, some sad bastard of Corporatist Orthodoxy sat down and ran calculations of contingency within margins of levels of confidence, ultimately expressed in levels of 'bottom line' of dollars and cents reaching a conclusion in terms of 'EMV' or 'Expected Monetary Value' concerning 'recall and replace' or 'recompense for fatality/injury' as part of a 'decision tree'. The answer being as History demonstrates, such the discovery of what 'life' can mean in a paradigm of Obscene Orthodoxy.

Every person burned to death - or lucky enough to escape with 'degree of burn' - in such a product of Corporatism contributed to a profit as would be maximised under costs minimised - so the Orthodoxy goes.

The hypothetical 'Gulf of Mexico Memorandum' posits a development of the above horrific obscenity, written by an even sadder bastard than the author of the Ford Pinto Memorandum.

Why sadder?

Because the calculations concerning the ongoing tragedy of 'Deepwater Horizon' would have to reflect an even greater 'incorporation' of diversity of life denied, evidenced in bigger figures concerning dollars and cents, such the scale of obscenity as 'Homicide' can be represented as 'mere' when it comes to 'Ecocide'; such the failure, such the Denial. We are not just talking of children as passengers or drivers as parents burned alive as the Ford Pinto Memorandum 'incorporated'; we are talking of the diversity of species encompassed by an ecosystem 'incorporated' as a cost, sense of dollars and cents, and as can determine the choice between a number of courses of action -where 'denial' is the inevitable outcome of obscene Orthodoxy.

The hypothetical Gulf of Mexico Memorandum represents the 'Big League' of Corporatist Orthodoxy; commensurate with resonance of the illusion as to 'Where has all the money gone?' realising Genocide in an Economic Depression as disastrous illusion become 'Where has all the Oil gone? in an Environmental Catastrophe of Ecocide as illusion would seek to deny – such the 'Too big to fail' premise as the illusion of Corporatism demands the inevitable imposition of sufferance and denial, variant only the prefix of the 'cide', such the obscenity.

But yet the failure of Corporatist Orthodoxy is all too evident, sense of the loss of life, sense of the magnification of expenditure of resources gone in to the support of illusion, sense of the Depression being as denial of Life - and of the Joy which it is as a wondrous gift.

The horror!

To reiterate a point made in a recent article by these small quarters, the drill of Corporatism as an Orthodoxy died in the Gulf of Mexico, and that is not tragic, but long overdue. What is truly tragic is the horror of the sacrifice it has taken to bring about the death of such Orthodoxy as an assassin of consciousness; for it is a sacrifice which many lives, and not just of Man, have yet to 'enumerate' - sense of acknowledgement of Truth as the absence of denial?

Citizens as People of America, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, are beginning to open their eyes to what this current 'evolutionary trajectory' represents - as they are beginning to see the illusion of Corporatism for what it represents as the denial of Life?

At a pragmatic level given sense of horror reflected in ability to hypothesize, concerning the continuity as of 'Memoranda', what this means for Orthodoxy is that People have to be eliminated – and for People read Citizenry; read Majority; read 'Prole'?

To parallel of a journey to the Heart of Darkness, way of the river of the Mississippi rather than the Congo as in Conrad's Novella, and as in a Memorandum as somewhere exists as parallels 'Ford Pinto Memorandum':

'The Gulf of Mexico. It Dead'

-How such horror expressive of an Obscene Orthodoxy such as Corporatism has come to prevail in a Nation which has a Constitution enshrining:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

is a right question, as 'they', sense of Inner Party, would have not asked – as they indeed would not have the consequences of such truths as above find meaning in 'Right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'?

As a fact becoming increasingly self evident, such the horror of the pump of the Heart of Corporate Darkness.

The horror! The horror!

-Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is available here, superb example of consciousness concerning horror still unfolding as 'slow violence' of Orthodoxy revealed concerning the Gulf of Mexico is to be found here.

Stephen Martin can be reached at: stephenmarti@yahoo.com

Belief is the death of intelligence--Robert Anton Wilson

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Dear Tea Partiers, Let's Get Mad Together

Disturbing Truths About Our Government

Not because the government does too much. But because it's done too little.

Consider a few disturbing truths:
-- We cry 'socialism!' at the mention of higher taxes, but we allow a
businessman to make enough money to pay the salaries of every police
officer, firefighter, and public school teacher in the city of Chicago.

-- The richest 1% had a big slice of the American income pie in 1980.
Since that time, they've cut a second piece of the same size for
themselves, and then a THIRD piece! Three times as much in 25 years. They
got this extra pie not from being good hard-working little boys, but from
tax cuts and deregulation.

-- As Howard Zinn argued, low-income people go to jail for thefts of a few
hundred dollars. The people who take BILLIONS from society by calling
their income "carried interest" instead of income are considered shrewd

-- And how about corporations, the driving force of a 'revitalized'
economy? Right now the 500 largest non-financial corporations are sitting
on $1.8 trillion in cash instead of investing in people. And they're not
paying much in taxes. The portion of federal revenue derived from
corporate income tax decreased from 33% in the 1950s to 12% in 2005.
Companies have saved billions by moving their headquarters to tax havens
such as Bermuda or the Cayman Islands. Business-backers claim that the
U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates among OECD countries, but
the U.S. is actually the fourth lowest among OECD countries in the
collection of corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP.

Tea Partiers, we should get mad together at government, because they've
done too little to correct these injustices. It is not in their own best
interests to raise taxes on the rich.

And we should get mad together at the mainstream media for not reporting
on the abuses of the small percentage of very wealthy people who make it
so hard on the rest of us.

Paul Buchheit teaches in the School for New Learning at DePaul University.

Belief is the death of intelligence--Robert Anton Wilson

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

History According to Beck and Palin

The Myth of the Founding Fathers


Led by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, Tea Party worshippers of the Founding
Fathers want to return to the "good ol' days" of 1787, when most
African-Americans were slaves, many poor whites were indentured servants,
and women couldn't vote. At the time the Founding Fathers wrote the
Declaration of Independence and Constitution, Native Americans were being
slaughtered for their land, and Mexicans who were indigenous to the
Southwest and the West coast of what became the United States were
included in the genocide.

None of the ancestors of the African American, Native American, or Latino
speakers addressing the mostly white Tea Partiers at the Lincoln Memorial
on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech
would have been among the Founding Fathers. No women, Jews, Muslims, poor
people or non-land owners were numbered amongst the Founders who were rich
white men.

Conservatives have trouble seeking sensible solutions to our present-day
problems of poverty, violence, and perpetual war that make rich folks
richer while poor people suffer and weapons makers and war profiteers make
big bucks while killing and injuring innumerable innocent people. The
problems are caused by big moneyed interests with the help of simple
minded sycophants like Beck, Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers. Their
answer is to look backward to the wealthy Founding Fathers for guidance.
The Tea Partiers believe the mythologized Founding Fathers are more
intelligent and moral than anyone today except maybe radical right-wingers
like Beck and Palin.

While hosting the Glenn Beck Program, a nationally syndicated talk-radio
show and the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News Channel, Beck has been promoting
conspiracy theories and delivering incoherent diatribes against socialists
and environmentalists. Beck has called President Obama a Marxist,
communist, and socialist who is taking America down the road to fascism.
He has accused Obama of being a racist with a "hatred for whites", and
alleged that the Obama Presidency is like evil gorillas, endangering
humankind and compared Obama's America to "the Planet of the Apes". He
said that Al Gore wants to create a new "Hitler youth" because he promotes
environmental awareness among young people. Beck doesn't believe in global
warming, but loves guns and militarism.

In Washington Beck did not mention Obama or Gore, but rather, assumed the
role of an evangelist, presenting a religious theme of "Faith, Hope and
Charity" which was a lame attempt to mask his worship of Mammon, the God
of big business. Beck's big show "just happened" to be at the Lincoln
Memorial where Martin Luther King II made his iconic speech 47 years ago
to the day. Beck said he was totally unaware it was the anniversary of
King's address when he scheduled his event and he believes the Lord led
him to schedule the event at that time and place. He also boasted that the
right wing rally had "reclaimed the civil rights movement." Beck said he
heard the voice of God while addressing his flock, a symptom
characteristic of schizophrenia. He and his far right friend and probable
Republican Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin repeatedly mentioned King's
legacy, as giant screens carried King's image and brief excerpts of his
1963 address. Earlier this year Beck denounced King as a "radical
socialist" and questioned why a national holiday had been named in his
honor. Beck was born in a Roman Catholic family, but converted to
Mormonism. He says he "found the Lord" who saved him from his alcohol and
drug addiction and his channeling the voice of God sounds like the faith
required in a 12 steps effort to stay on the wagon.

In his rambling speech Beck gave several quotes from the Declaration of
Independence, recited the Gettysburg Address, invoked trite clichés of
Americana and read bible verses. Palin said she was the mother of a
"combat vet" and led a chant of "USA, USA, USA."

In the past other extremist populist movements in America also wrapped
themselves in the cross and the flag, but espoused some social and
economic policies that appealed to the common man. Father Charles Coughlin
and Rev. Gerald L.K. Smith were demagogic leaders in the depression days
of the 1930s, who at least talked about the dangers of capitalism, with
Coughlin advocating a guaranteed annual wage and nationalization of some
industries and Smith calling for income limits for the wealthy and old age
pensions for everyone.

When he announced the rally, Beck promised to present a plan which would
provide "specific policies and action steps" to found "a new national
movement to restore our great country." Instead, in his speech on
Saturday, he said he decided to not reveal the plan, because of a
conversation he had with God. Rather than explaining his plan "to restore
our great country", Beck said that people should turn to the Lord by
praying on their knees and leaving their doors open so their children
could see them doing so. Could it be that the billionaires and corporate
entities who fund the tea party movement nixed the plan that might help
poor and working class people at their expense?

Beck, Palin and their fellow Tea Partiers worship the rich white men and
moneyed interests who fund their movement and their politics. Their gods
are 21st century manifestations of the rich white men who were the
Founding Fathers.

Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, SC.
His blog is http://tomandjudyonablog.blogspot.com

Belief is the death of intelligence--Robert Anton Wilson

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Prison State

Lock 'Em Up
Sometimes events conspire to make you think that things are worse than you
imagined. On August 3, Marilyn Buck died. Marilyn was a fighter in the
struggle for racial justice and against the most virulent pestilence in
the world—United States imperialism. Unlike most of us, she put her money
where her mouth was and her life on the line. It is easy now to forget
that the agents of repression—the police, the FBI, the courts, the
government itself—consciously and actively targeted those who were active
in and led the civil rights and Vietnam war resistance movements. They
infiltrated and acted as provocateurs in movement organizations; they
arrested innocent people; they enacted and enforced draconian laws; they
illegally tapped phones and spied on any and all persons suspected of
"subversive" activity; and they tortured and murdered those who they
deemed to be the most dangerous radicals.

Whites like Marilyn who militantly supported black liberation were high on
the list of suspects. She was arrested in 1973 for buying (legal) arms
under a false name. She was sentenced to ten years in prison, and during a
furlough to consult with her lawyers in 1977, she went underground. She
was arrested again in 1983, accused of multiple crimes—aiding the prison
break of Asata Shakur, planning and participating in several bombings of
public facilities, and taking part in the infamous Brinks robbery of 1981
in which a guard and two policemen were killed. She was convicted and
sentenced to eighty years in prison.

While incarcerated, Marilyn earned college degrees, became a poet and
writer of distinction, mentored many prisoners, fought for the rights of
those behind bars, and continued as an activist in the battles that
defined her before her imprisonment. Finally scheduled for parole, she
discovered that she had cancer. Treatment failed and she died at home,
having been released a few weeks early because of her failing health. She
was sixty-two years old.

This bare bones sketch hardly does justice to her life or what she endured
in prison. In an interview published in Monthly Review in 2001, here is
how answer to a question about how prison time had affected her personally:
Imagine yourself in a relationship with an abuser who controls your every
move, keeps you locked in the house. There's the ever-present threat of
violence or further repression if you don't toe the line. I think that's a
fairly good analogy of what happens. And imagine being there for fifteen

To be punished, to be absolutely controlled, whether it's about buttoning
your shirt; how you have a scarf on your head; how long or how baggy your
pants are—all of those things are under scrutiny. It's hard to give a
clinical picture of what they do, because how do you know, when you're the
target, or the victim, what that does to you? But theres a difference
between being a target and being a victim.

Like most prisoners, she was not allowed to attend her mother's funeral.

From the same interview:
My mother died about six weeks ago. She became ill in September, so I went
through a phase of real guilt that I wasn't there. And real sorrow and
real anger. I think I've looked at the guilt a little more. I just
couldn't be there. But the sorrow of not being able to hold my mother's
little bird hand by the time she was starving to death from the cancer …
just breaks my heart. And there's nothing I can do about it.
I could intellectualize it. I could have been on a ship halfway around the
world, and we got stuck in the trade winds and couldn't get there in time.
But I'm an extreme realist and understand who I am as a political
prisoner. I knew that I would not be allowed to go to her bedside, nor to
her funeral. That was just the reality. She died on a Sunday. And she was
buried on my birthday. So it's just all very hard.
I talked to my mother every week I could. And she came to visit me once a
year. It was hard for her to get here. My mom was seventy-four She had to
drive a long way and go through all the emotional turmoil that you can't
avoid when you see somebody you can't do anything for. So I had to look at
her anger, too.
In a certain way, I want to be able to lie on the floor and bang my heels
and cry and scream, but that just hurts my heels…So what can I say? I'm
having a hard time. I'm having a very, very hard time. I…you know, it's
grief. But it's grief under dire conditions. I'll always miss my mother.
A few days after Marilyn Buck's death, I received the current print
edition of the CounterPunch newsletter. In it there is an astonishing
article by journalist JoAnn Wypijewski. The title is "Defending the
700,000 Most Despised People in America," and it describes efforts by the
mothers of accused and prosecuted sex offenders to get our draconian sex
offender laws changed.

JoAnn interviews several mothers, and their stories of what has been done
to their sons are heartrending. A typical scenario unfolds like this.
Local cops troll internet chat rooms posing as young girls and boys. An
adult, usually a young man, says he is looking for female friendship. The
cop then does everything possible to seduce the man into coming to his or
her house, presumably for sex. If the young man resists, the decoy uses
explicitly sexual language to entice him. If he succumbs and goes to the
house, vice cops are waiting. What follows then is a nightmare of arrest,
sensationalist stories in local—and sometimes national— media (fed to them
by ambitious district attorneys), expensive and often corrupt lawyers,
extreme family and financial stress, a plea bargain, probation and
counseling (paid for by the young man or his family), community service, a
lifetime as a registered sex offender, and the most invasive and
incredible set of rules and regulations, which must be obeyed to the
letter under threat of more or less permanent probation or prison. These
include regular breathalizer, urine, and lie detector tests, for which the
"offender" must pay. All for an absolutely victimless "crime." After a
mother tells Wypijewski that her son must have a "safety plan," approved
by the probation officer before going anywhere, there is this exchange:

JW: So, say, I will be brought to the appointment by an adult in a car and
if a child comes in I'll run down to the parking lot and sit in the car
until the kid is gone?
D: That kind of thing.
S: You have no idea how inhumane. Tell her about that test, D.; what's it
called – plasmo-something?
JW: Plesmograph?
D: You go into a room with an examiner. They hook your penis up to a
monitor. They show you pictures of women in different states of dress, and
they monitor the flow of blood in your penis. My son's test came back as
"inconclusive." It didn't show that he had any sexual deviance, but it
didn't show that he didn't either. So the recommendation was that he go to
therapy to learn to manage his sexual deviance, and to learn the patterns
of his sexual deviance.
There are even court-imposed fines for the "victims" of the sex offender,
despite the fact that there were no victims.

I was interested to note that one of the states singled out in the article
as having especially harsh laws is Colorado, where we have lived. Here
decades of right-wing religious fervor and vicious radio talk show
jockeying have borne fruit for those hoping for a police state before they

Not long after I read JoAnn's essay, we went to the huge Goodwill store on
West Burnside Street in Portland, Oregon to buy a few things for cooking
in our apartment. Portlanders love their many thrift shops, and, like this
one, they're always crowded. Karen was looking for pans and saw a young
man holding a small plate and looking on the shelves next to her. She said
to him, "There's a lot of stuff here." He said that he was looking for a
plate but could only afford one. Karen suggested that he get something
larger, since a large plate could do what a small one could and more. She
asked about a glass, and he said that he had a plastic cup. Karen said
that it would be nicer to drink from a real glass. When it was evident
that he had little money, Karen gave him enough to cover the plate and a
glass. He thanked her and went to the checkout counter. A few minutes
later, we took our items to the same counter and found ourselves behind
him. He had a few items on the counter and a voucher for thirty dollars to
pay for them, plus the two dollars he got from Karen. He had calculated
closely and had just enough money. When the clerk couldn't figure out
whether to take the cash first or the voucher, we spent a few minutes
talking to the young man. He had just gotten out of prison and was staying
at a halfway house for ninety days. The $30 was the state's "start a new
life fund." It didn't go very far. He said that he was going to school to
become a chef, and the state was going to pay. We gave him $20, as much
encouragement as we could, and wished him luck. The clerk finally rang him
up. He opened his backpack and tried to get his new possessions into it.
As he rearranged his pack, we saw a package of cheese and some other food
items he had bought for his supper.

While were talking, a man joined the line behind me. He looked a little
more street-worn than our new friend. He had been listening in on our
conversation, and he asked me, "Did that guy say he just got out of
prison?" "Yes," I said. "What did he do? I've spent a lot of time in
prison. He doesn't look like someone whose been there." I said that I
hadn't asked him and that maybe you couldn't always tell if someone had
been in jail. He then began to complain about his shoulder. He showed me a
lump on his collarbone. It looked broken, and I told him he should
consider going to an emergency room, he said that he owed hospitals too
much money already. "At least, put your arm in a sling," I said. He
wrapped a shirt around his neck and arm and said, "Yeah, that helps." He
began to fumble with the items he was buying , mostly clothes. Then he got
out his $30 voucher. I offered him some money, but he said he didn't need
any. I stuffed some bills in his gym bag and said, "Take this anyway."

7.3 million adults in the United States are incarcerated, on parole, or on
probation. A 2009 Pew Charitable trusts report fleshes out the details of
this horrifying number tells us that:

–One in 31 adults in America is in prison or jail, or on probation or
parole. Twenty-five years ago, the rate was 1 in 77.
–Overall, two-thirds of offenders are in the community, not behind bars. 1
in 45 adults is on probation or parole and 1 in 100 is in prison or jail.
The proportion of offenders behind bars versus in the community has
changed very little over the past 25 years, despite the addition of 1.1
million prison beds.
–Correctional control rates are highly concentrated by race and geography:
1 in 11 black adults (9.2 percent) versus 1 in 27 Hispanic adults (3.7
percent) and 1 in 45 white adults (2.2 percent); 1 in 18 men (5.5 percent)
versus 1 in 89 women (1.1 percent). The rates can be extremely high in
certain neighborhoods. In one block-group of Detroit's East Side, for
example, 1 in 7 adult men (14.3 percent) is under correctional control.
–Georgia, where 1 in 13 adults is behind bars or under community
supervision, leads the top five states that also include Idaho, Texas,
Massachusetts, Ohio and the District of Columbia.
Without a doubt, most of those enmeshed in the (in)justice system are not
dangers to society and would not have been in it at all in a society that
wasn't so racist and so shot through with every kind of social and
economic inequality. Unfortunately, whatever the reasons why so many men
and women have been denied their freedom, once the numbers began to rise
dramatically, constituencies came into being—lawyers, police, probation
officers, prison guards and staff, drug and alcohol rehabilitation
counselors, sex offender counselors, vendors of all sorts, clerks and
other clerical support staff, court officers, judges, community service
employers—that have a strong stake in milking the new cash cow. Given that
inequality will continue to increase, that good jobs will be ever harder
to find, that towns and cities will be strapped for funds into the
indefinite future, that social unrest is likely to rise, that racism is
not abating, don't look for the criminal (in)justice system to shrink
anytime soon.

Michael D. Yates is Associate Editor of Monthly Review. His most recent
book is In and Out of the Working Class. He encourages correspondence and
can be reached at mikedjyates@msn.com.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So when's that stimulus gonna stimulate, huh?

CounterPunch Diary
America Enters a New Time 


I went to get my hair cut the other day in the town of Fortuna and waited ten minutes when the elderly barber finished buzz-cutting a young Mexican American. After the young man had exited under his thin skullcap of black stubble, Don the barber sighed and said, “That’s the third boy I’ve cut today who’s headed into the Marines. They all say the same thing. “There’s no work around here and I’ve got a family to support.” When I tell them to hold off, they say the same thing: “Too late. I’ve signed up.”

This is Humboldt county, northern California, where the marijuana boom is in its final paroxysms, with people flocking from around the world to get a piece of the action, just like they did in the Gold Rush. One of the many places selling bags of good soil to marijuana growers ($10 a bag, 8 bags to each marijuana plant, grown in a 100 foot x 30 foot plastic greenhouse, $25,000 or so) had a $300,000 day lately. So there’s more money here than most places across America, where the situation is truly desperate.

Profits are up 41 percent since Obama’s election; yet half of American workers have suffered a job loss or a cut in hours or wages over the past 30 months. They’re saying around 28 million people either have no job or one that doesn’t yield them enough money to get through the week. On Friday, August 13, the Bureau of Labor Statistic noted on its home page that “Employers initiated 1,851 mass layoff events in the second quarter of 2010 that resulted in the separation of 338,064 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days.”

Millions are plummeting into total destitution, having reached the end of their 99-weeks of unemployment benefits. Their only option then is the soup line at a church and getting on he waiting list for a shelter. The nearest big city north of me is Portland, Oregon, adjacent to the CounterPunch co-editor bunker in Oregon City of Jeffrey St Clair. The downtown area in Portland is filled with homeless people, napping on steps, bedding down on cardboard in doorways. Jeffrey kayaks frequently down the Willamette and can see colonies of the destitute all along the river bank, from the shipyards to Willamette Falls, sleeping under thin plastic and grey skies.

California agriculture and much of the construction industry depends on undocumented workers coming across the border from Mexico – minimum cost $1000 – for an 8-day walk through the Arizona desert. Since building is in a terminal slump, many Mexicans would like to head back home till times improve, but nowadays it’s so tough to come back across, that they daren’t risk it. Hence the paradox: trying to lock “illegals” out means locking them in. Frank Bardacke who lives in the farm town of Watsonville, a couple of hours south of San Francisco, recently described amid an important piece in our newsletter a bank robbery by one young, desperate immigrant.

“Several months ago," Frank writes, “Jario took his father’s pickup truck, drove 20 miles to the upscale tourist playpen Carmel By the Sea, and walked into the local branch of the Bank of America. He waited in line to see a teller, and, when his turn came, he pretended to have a gun under his shirt and quietly demanded that the teller give him her cash. As she was passing out the money, he apologized for frightening her; meanwhile, she was hiding a GPS device among the bills.

“He left the bank, his crime apparently unnoticed, and returned to the truck for the drive home. On the way, he got confused and took a wrong turn through Monterey before he got back on the right road home. Twenty police cars from four different police jurisdictions followed the GPS signal and stopped him 45 minutes after he left the bank. He immediately confessed, explaining that he needed the money to help his dad pay the family mortgage. When his case came to trial, the DA pressed for two years in State Prison. The judge decided that six months in the county jail and five years probation would be enough.”

In Texas or anywhere in the South the fellow would probably have got 25 years. But in desperate times one can expect people to do desperate, stupid things, and this decent judge showed compassion and understanding. One can’t say the same for many Americans, starting with the Republicans in Congress who’ve been happily voting for a cut-off in benefits for the jobless, while simultaneously engaging in the politically insane enterprise of repealing the 14th Amendment, no longer making it a constitutional provision that those “born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” Do the Republicans want to cede Texas and Florida permanently to the Democrats?

Conspicuous good works are always a feature of Depression, the rich zealous to purchase moral insurance. Some billionaires, led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have been pledging that they will earmark not less than 50 per cent of their personal wealth for charity. But since whatever they give away is tax deductible, so revenues to Uncle Sam will drop.

The rich don’t get to be rich by being the nicest guys in the shark tank. As Carl Ginsburg recently remarked in a fine piece on this site, “In its fledgling years, profits on Bill Gates’ software were reportedly 70 per cent annually. Another way to gauge Gates’s billions is by catching a glimpse of the multitudes of students priced out of the computer market – thanks in part to that Great Giver’s expensive software – lined up daily at community college libraries for some free access to computers, each machine an expression of Gates’ creative commitment to profit in the +40 percent range – a gift Gates gave himself that keeps on giving. As Gates told Fortune: ‘The diversity of American giving is part of its beauty.’”

We can probably expect more laid-off workers going postal, as David Rosen discussed here on our site last week On August 3, at seven am, Omar Thornton showed up for a disciplinary hearing at the Hartford Distributors, a Budweiser distribution warehouse in Manchester, Connecticut. Thornton had been caught on video pinching some beer. They asked him whether he wanted to be fired, or just quit. Thornton pulled out a handgun and killed seven fellow employees before shooting himself dead. Before he loosed off his last shot into his head, Thornton, a black man, called a friend on his cellphone and said he’s taken care of some racists who’d been giving him a hard time. Unemployment means fear and fear nourishes racism, all the more because we have a black president. Racism is drifting across America like mustard gas in the trenches in World War One.

And, final token of hard times, we have Bonnie and Clyde on the run. In their latest guise the duo consists of John McCluskey and his cousin and fiancee, Casslyn Welch, who’s no Faye Dunaway. She threw some wire cutters over the fence of her man’s Arizona prison. Cops suspect them of killing a couple of retirees, then stealing their truck and heading north up to the Canadian line through Glacier National Park. That’s the last sanctuary in America of Ursus horribilis, the American grizzly. Behind them the cops, ahead the bears. It could be the first movie of a new time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jail time for video-taping police

by Michael Billy, Helium

On May 24 Brian D. Kelly of Carlisle, Pennsylvania was arrested for violating a state wiretapping law. Kelly, 18, videotaped police officers during a routine traffic stop. His camera was immediately confiscated and he was taken to jail. He spent 26 hours in county prison until his mother posted her house as collateral for his $2,500 bail.

What act was Mr. Kelly perpetrating which the great state of Pennsylvania saw as wiretapping?

Well, it turns out that there is an obscure state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone's oral conversation without their consent. The arrest apparently relates to the sound that Kelly's camera picked up, not the video.

Some people would claim that ignorance of the law is no excuse', but I would have to whole-heartedly disagree. How could someone possibly know that it is illegal to record an on-duty officer while on public property? It is not a law that one would assume exists based on common sense, such as murder or theft.

The only way that Kelly could have possibly known about this law would be if he actually read it. But lets be realistic, it could not honestly be expected that every citizen reads the tomes of laws that are passed, on state, local, and federal levels, every year, a process which would likely take an entire lifetime.

Kelly said that if he knew about this law before the incident occurred he would not have recorded the officers. What he does not seem to understand is that this is a law that does not make any sense and is blatantly unconstitutional. And bad laws, quite frankly, are meant to be broken.

Let me remind you of the text of the fourth amendment. It reads, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated" The word unreasonable allows for some gray area, but I am sure that most people (a jury of our peers, perhaps) would agree that it was unreasonable for the police to take his camera.

The only crime' Kelly is guilty of is recording the officers doing their jobs, an act that should never be illegal in a free society. Is it not our duty as citizens to make sure that the police and all other government employees for that matter are doing their jobs properly? If not, then whose responsibility is it? And who watches them?

This law is an enemy of Liberty and needs to be repealed. It may have been passed with good intentions, i.e. prevention of blackmail, but we all know how to pave the road to hell. Only Police Officers and others who seek to abuse their powers truly benefit from laws like this one.

Realize this: Any protest that ever takes place in Pennsylvania can not legally be recorded by bystanders. This allows the police, who can potentially abuse their power, to confiscate the cameras of anyone who records them, essentially eliminating evidence of any possible wrong doing.

We are losing civil liberties in this country everyday and I don't know about you but I'm getting sick and tired of it.

If you still do not believe that the country we live in resembles a police state, I have a simple question for you: What will it take for you to open your eyes?

Yesterday they stole away habeas corpus. Today we can not record the police. Tomorrow they remove our right to a trial by jury. Then they take away our guns. What will we have then? Only a hollow shell of the republic that our Founders once envisioned.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Racism Implodes Tea Party

Can the NAACP Rise to the Challenge?

Man what a short weekend.  On Thursday the Tea Party was setting up a bigger tent.  By Sunday their center pole was cracked in half.  Suddenly we live in a country where the NAACP is on the rise, again.

Naturally the racist framing of the past month was drawn and squared by Rush Limbaugh who charged that the President had only his race to offer as the reason for his political success.  Limbaugh forgets how much the Obama factor was empowered by a widespread social yearning to get out of the frame that Limbaugh, Fox News, and Bush had locked us into.  Perhaps Obama's Black heritage lent some credibility to the hope that he could lead us out of that cave instead of right back into its depths.

Limbaugh's ability to profit commercially from racism as "entertainment value" probably had some mentoring influence upon Mark Williams.  When NAACP President Benjamin Jealous dared the Tea Party to repudiate its racism, Williams decided to try a little minstrel style mockery which, come to think of it, pretty much connects Williams to the commercial history of American radio as well.  The main mistake Williams made according to the culture code of contemporary social reality is that he forgot to go into show biz before he acted out.

Williams is guilty of what up North people call "stupid" racism, because right up until he put on his blackface the Tea Party had been playing its racism "smart".  Of course, nobody should be taken in by the Tea Party's rehab.  Their economic model is practically racist as was the Reaganomics upon which it is built.

Now is the time for the NAACP to step into the opportunity that it created and offer some workable disaster relief plan that even the President can't evade.  It's been at least a decade since we've seen any real vision with half a chance of winning anything but a ballot count on election day.  And of course odds could be better this time around.

Progressives have pretty much stranded themselves in the shallow waters of the Democratic Party, exactly where the ballast of the NAACP is lodged.  Just as we can't afford to be fooled by the Tea Party's vapid denials of racism, neither can we afford to believe that the NAACP has this week made a significant dent in the racist structure of the economic crisis or the racist paralysis that prevents all progressive advance.

Whether or how much progressives can afford to waste on another round of Congressional balloteering is a dandy question.  But it would be too cynical to bet the movement on the iron weight of the system's internal contradictions crashing.

Yes, that crash is upon us.  And as it continues to thunder down, the NAACP could stake ground for that other tent city, the one where those of us who have never trusted the Tea Party can gather for some badly needed refreshment.

Greg Moses is editor of TexasWorker.org and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence.  He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Fall of Obama...

Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch

It is not Obama's fault that for 30 years America's policy – under Reagan,
both Bushes and Bill Clinton – has been to export jobs permanently to the
Third World. The jobs that Americans now desperately seek are no longer
here, in the homeland, and never will be. They're in China, Taiwan,
Vietnam, India, Indonesia.

No stimulus program, giving money to cement contractors to fix potholes
along the federal interstate highway system, is going to bring those jobs
back. Highly trained tool and die workers, the aristocrats of the
manufacturing sector, are flipping hamburgers – at best – for $7.50 an
hour because U.S. corporations sent their jobs to Guangzhou, with the
approval of politicians flush with the money of the "free trade" lobby.

It is not Obama's fault that across 30 years more and more money has
floated up to the apex of the social pyramid till America is heading back
to where it was in the 1880s, a nation of tramps and millionaires. It's
not his fault that every tax break, every regulation, every judicial
decision tilts toward business and the rich. That was the neoliberal
America conjured into malign vitality back in the mid 1970s.

But it is Obama's fault that he did not understand this, that always, from
the getgo, he flattered Americans with paeans to their greatness, without
adequate warning of the political and corporate corruption destroying
America and the resistance he would face if he really fought against the
prevailing arrangements that were destroying America. He offered them a
free and easy pass to a better future, and now they see that the promise
was empty.

It's Obama's fault, too, that, as a communicator, he cannot rally and
inspire the nation from its fears. From his earliest years he has schooled
himself not to be excitable, not to be an angry black man who would be
alarming to his white friends at Harvard and his later corporate patrons.
Self-control was his passport to the guardians of the system, who were
desperate to find a symbolic leader to restore America's credibility in
the world after the disasters of the Bush era. He is too cool.

So, now Americans in increasing numbers have lost confidence in him. For
the first time in the polls negative assessments outnumber the positive.
He no longer commands trust. His support is drifting down to 40 per cent.
The straddle that allowed him to flatter corporate chieftains at the same
time as blue-collar workers now seems like the most vapid opportunism. The
casual campaign pledge to wipe out al-Quaida in Afghanistan is now being
cashed out in a disastrous campaign viewed with dismay by a majority of

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


As we have noted, Barack Obama is part of the first generation of black
ivies, black politicians who got elected thanks to passing white exams
rather than crossing white police lines. Others include Corey Booker,
Deval Patrick and DC mayor Adrian Fenty. The first two are doing well
politically, but Fenty, who won every precinct in his first mayoral
election and exudes, even more than Obama, an unappealing narcissism, is
suffering one of the great political come-downs of recent history, as this
story describes. Remember: a high percentage of the boos are coming from
black voters.

Nikita Stewart Washington Post - Adrian M. Fenty wasn't even at the
Academies at Anacostia graduation ceremony in the District on Friday, but
when the mayor's name was mentioned, an unmistakable chorus arose: "Boo!"
many in the crowd shouted. This Story

Almost simultaneously, across town, where Fenty was attending a funeral
for go-go great Anthony "Little Benny" Harley, his attempts to deliver
condolences were nearly drowned out by a similar din. The taunts were so
thunderous that Pastor Deron Cloud had to grab the microphone to calm the
crowd at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

"This is not the place," Cloud said, to no avail.

The chorus heard 'round some parts of the District is one of vocal
dissatisfaction for the 39-year-old Fenty. It's a far cry from the summer
of 2006, when drivers honked excitedly whenever they saw him campaigning
for mayor. Then, residents were as tickled to see the young candidate come
to their doors as if a celebrity had dropped by with a sweepstakes prize.

Now, Fenty is in a contentious battle with D.C. Council Chairman Vincent
C. Gray, his chief rival for mayor, in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.
Supporters say that the criticism and boos are unfair, particularly
because city services get high marks, students' test scores are rising,
and new libraries, schools and recreation centers have opened citywide. . .

Outside the gathering at the law school, Ivan Lee Robinson, 66, sat in the
shade with a group of friends. But he was alone with his Fenty sticker and
Fenty sign.

"I'm the only one voting for him," the LeDroit Park resident said in jest
but in a serious tone. "The man is good. . . . He did a pretty good job
with the snow."

A friend asked: "Did you see him get out and shovel anything?"

In the citywide Democratic straw poll taken at the event, Gray garnered
703 votes to Fenty's 190 votes. Former television reporter Leo Alexander,
also a candidate for mayor, received 75 votes.

In the past year and a half, Fenty has developed a reputation for
arrogance, a lack of transparency, and a failure to work with council
members and constituencies. He delayed giving council members tickets to
suites at Verizon Center and Nationals Park. He would not disclose his
whereabouts when he went out of town, drawing criticism when he missed
several memorial services and funerals for victims of last year's Metro
Red Line crash.

There has also been unrest in some parts of the District about Schools
Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, whose blunt style has rubbed many the wrong

A week ago, some Dunbar High School graduates and their parents booed
Fenty, who was the main speaker at the school's graduation. They wanted
Gray, a Dunbar alumnus who offered remarks to the graduating class, to
deliver the keynote address.

Using Opera's revolutionary e-mail client: http://www.opera.com/mail/

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The People's Party?

Sam Smith - The present and former Democratic presidents of the United
States actively challenged the major labor union-backed candidate for US
Senator from Arkansas. And then they bragged about it when their own
candidate won. A senior White House official told Politico's Ben Smith,
"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the
toilet on a pointless exercise,"

Not too long ago, this would have been - for a Democratic official - a
criminal offense. But the contemporary Democratic Party's list of periodic
targets includes not only labor unions but school teachers (Race to the
Top), seniors (the assault on Medicare and Social Security), the middle
class (saving banks but not soon-to be-foreclosed homes), the young
(jailed for minor drug offenses and sent, sometimes repeatedly, to fight
in useless wars) and civil liberties (wiretapping and other constitutional

In short, it is fair to say that the Democratic Party now treats as foes,
or with contempt, many of the very constituencies that led to its periods
of greatness.

What goes around comes around

Via Counterpunch

One of the greatest bailouts in history came in 1953, when the Eisenhower
administration authorized a CIA-backed coup in Iran. The Anglo-Iranian Oil
Company, owned by the British government, had been expropriated and
nationalized in 1951 by unanimous vote of Iran's parliament. The '53
coup evicted prime minister Mohammed Mossadeq and installed Shah Reza
Pahlevi, the creature of the West's oil companies , with full tyrannical
powers. The AIOC got back 40 per cent of its old concession and became an
internationally owned consortium, renamed… British Petroleum.

There are plenty of American ingredients in the company, with such BP
acquisitions and mergers down the years as Standard Oil of Ohio, Amoco and
Arco,. No matter, it's "British Petroleum" now in the minds of Americans
and the company is the designated fall guy – a role it richly deserves
since, as Jeanne Pascal, a former lawyer for the US Environmental
Protection Agency, recently put it, "They are a recurring environmental
criminal and they do not follow US health, safety and environmental

No mercy.

Footnote: A CounterPuncher writes to me: "BP is indeed a conscience-less
company, possibly even more so than the rest. My father who was an
eye-surgeon was appointed by the Shah government and A.I.O.C.
(Anglo-Iranian Oil Co, later renamed BP) to teach Persian doctors to
battle trachoma in South Persia (Abadan). I remember the many instances of
utterly callous behavior from A.I.O.C. officials towards heavy accidents
in the huge refinery there affecting Persian workers, the neglect of
normal safety procedures and even the disgust about A.O.I.C.'s working
methods expressed by the Dutch director of Shell at whose house we were
staying for some time on Mount Demawand near Teheran."