Saturday, March 27, 2010

CounterPunch Diary

T'was a Famous Victory


"Cleopatra's nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed.” So wrote Pascal, remembering how Caesar and Mark Anthony, those mighty generals of the Roman Empire, were captivated by Cleo’s commanding schnozz. This time Cleopatra’s nose took the form of Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor.

If the tumor hadn’t finally done in Massachusett’s senior senator last August, then there wouldn’t have been a special race for his seat. A former Cosmo nude pinup called Scott Brown wouldn’t have stunned the Democrats by capturing the seat for the Republicans this past January.

Obama wouldn’t have been hauled rudely from the supposed security of a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. senate and, instead, faced with the prospect that the health insurance bill on which he’d squandered more than half his first year in office was about to go down to defeat, leaving the victorious Republicans to trample him and his party to death in the fall elections this year.

It was a very, very close thing.

Why did Obama blow his first year? Politicians have a touching trait of often coming to believe their own campaign rhetoric, even when it’s being greeted with cynical guffaws by the cognoscenti. Having made his name and won his votes by pledging to rise above faction and draw the American people together, Obama extended the hand of bipartisanship to the Republicans and spent the following months seemingly fuddled as the Republicans chewed off his arm, inch by inch.

The whacking they gave his stimulus package in February of 2009, cutting it in half, unnerved the White House. Just when they should have been drawing lines in the sand, they opted for pliancy. It’s debatable whether they should have touched health reform at all in 2009, but suppose Obama and House Democrats had put forward a tough, progressive plan, centered on a government-underwritten “single payer” model and then challenged the Republicans to come at them, forcing them to go through the arduous exercise of actual filibusters, item by item. The whole terms of the debate would have been different.

Instead of which, Obama handed off reform to Congressional Democrats who came up with five plans. The Republicans wheeled their artillery into position and opened up with heavy salvoes about “death panels.” John McCain and other Republicans like Senator Chuck Grassley started denouncing as “Obamian socialism” the very provisions they themselves had advanced a year earlier. The left, furious at the dumping of single-payer, or even a vestigial public option, was deeply demoralized.

Then, as the year turned, came three strokes of immense good fortune. The first was Republican Scott Brown’s defeat of Democratic favorite Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, leading to the blare of panic klaxons in the White House. Next came a February announcement by Anthem, California’s largest for-profit insurer, to hike individual rates by as much as 39 per cent, vividly dramatizing the extortions of the present system and giving the Obama administration the cue to call on Anthem to justify the hikes. Finally, Jim Bunning, a Republican senator from Kentucky and former Major League baseball pitcher heading into retirement, single-handedly blocked for five days a measure to extend eligibility for enhanced unemployment benefits for laid-off workers. “Tough shit” was Bunning’s retort to complaints that his unfeeling obstinacy would plunge hundreds of thousands into truly desperate straits. Finally, amid a firestorm of public rebukes, the Republican leadership forced Bunning to back down.

It was a reprise of the face-off that gave Bill Clinton his great victory against Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in November of 1995. Gingrich, Republican speaker of the House, said he’d shut down the government unless Clinton agreed to budget cuts in social services. Clinton refused. Without necessary funds voted by Congress, federal workers started to get laid off. Then Gingrich destroyed himself and Bob Dole’s chances in 1996 to be president. He told reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One House. A stand on principle shriveled into pettiness, as with Bunning.

By early March of this year, the Republicans were looking not only mean-spirited – the Party of No – but also the Party of Nutsos, hooked to the Tea Baggers who themselves have been getting crazier by the hour.

The tide turned. At last the Democrats played hardball. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, twisted arms, stacked up votes. The long-brandished, never used filibustering weapon stayed in the armory as Democrats rediscovered procedural weapons to push the bill forward. The Tea Baggers spat on a black Missouri congressman,the Rev Emanuel Cleaver II, and taunted Barney Frank, the House's only openly gay member. On Thursday night, they threw in the towel.

The struggle commenced last June has produced, by way of health insurance reform, a Republican bill – mostly bad, with a couple of positive features. It’s certainly not reform of health care. Its decent provisions could have been passed easily early last year. It could all have been different.

But now Obama and the Democrats have put a big one up on the board. It’s still a long way to the fall elections, but Obama may last have learned the benefits of partisanship – even populist partisanship. Next comes financial reform, which is what Obama should have started with last year. But at least he has a win. As Southey’s poem “The Battle of Blenheim” put it:

“It was the English.” Kaspar cried
Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other for
I could not well make out.
But everybody said,” quoth he,
“That t’was a famous victory.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Closing Time

A Historic Confirmation of Corporate Power


It looks like heaven but it feels like death;
It's something in between, I guess:
It's closing time.
-- Leonard Cohen

Official transcript of remarks by President Barack Obama after the March
21 vote in the House of Representatives on H.R.3590: Motion to Concur in
Senate Amendments to Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

My fellow Americans. As many of our more serious commentators have noted,
Democrats and progressives have sought genuine reform of our broken,
bloated, unjust health care system for almost a hundred years. Today, I am
proud to say that we have brought that century-long struggle to a close.
Together with our visionary partners in the House and the Senate, we have
finally killed genuine health care reform for many years to come --
perhaps even for another century!

The struggle is over, the deal is done, the fix is in, and corporate power
-- unbridled, unchallenged, coddled, protected, and larded with the
endless pork of government-guaranteed profit -- has triumphed at last.
This is an historic achievement. This is a mighty legacy we will bequeath
to future generations.

This, my friends, is what change looks like.

Now, you know and I know that such change never comes easily. It never
comes without opposition. It never comes without controversy. Even in this
hour of victory, we know that the doom-sayers will be out in force.

And I'm not speaking here of the Republicans, whose opposition has simply
been a lurid, baseless "Red Dawn" fantasy about "communism" coming to
America. "Communism" -- in a bill that has been written by our visionary
partners in the corporate community, by our hyper-capitalist friends and
patrons on Wall Street, by the lobbyists and bagmen of Big Money! It's
true there is a tinge of socialism in the bill, but it is, of course, the
only kind of socialism that is tolerated in America: socialism for the
rich, where the masses shoulder the risks -- and the costs -- while the
wealthy reap the profits for themselves. The health-care barons, the
bailed-out banks, the farm-devouring agriconglomerates, the war profiteers
... we've got plenty of boardroom bolsheviki out there -- but it sure
ain't "communism" like Castro used to make! So let them hoot and holler
down this false trail all they like; for as I learned back in my Senate
days, when I was considered part of the "anti-war" faction, opposition
without substance only entrenches the status quo.

No, what we must look out for are all those -- or rather, those very few
-- nattering nabobs of negativism who have opposed our historic corporate
empowerment bill out of -- get this -- principle. Like barnacles hanging
onto the butt of the Titanic, they have clung to the idea of truly
universal, equal, single-payer health care, a system that is less
expensive, more efficient, more secure, more democratic, more popular and
more effective than the heroic measure we have passed here today.

These poor wretches -- who now must face the wrath of Kos and the wroth of
Rahm for their tragic apostasy -- are simply not savvy enough to see that
our 2,000-page boondogglepalooza, riddled with fine-print exceptions,
toothless regulations (which we will 'enforce' every bit as rigorously as
Wall Street has been regulated all these years), impenetrable phase-in and
phase-out schedules, and mild benefits that won't even begin kicking in
for years -- and that even after a decade will still leave millions of
people uncovered -- is much better than a simple, streamlined system that
could be implemented by the end of this year, bringing genuine relief from
intolerable, life-degrading financial burdens and medical problems to
millions and millions of people in dire need right away.

Or as that avatar of negativity, Ralph Nader put it:

"The health insurance legislation is a major political symbol wrapped
around a shredded substance. It does not provide coverage that is
universal, comprehensive or affordable. It is a remnant even of its own
initially compromised self — bereft of any public option, any safeguard
for states desiring a single payer approach, any adequate antitrust
protections, any shift of power toward consumers to defend themselves, any
regulation of insurance prices, any authority for Uncle Sam to bargain
 with drug companies, and any reimportation of lower-priced drugs." 
Hey, Ralph, thanks for reciting my credits! All those "berefts" you cited
were the result of my own super- savvy negotiations! It's 11-dimensional
chess, man, a really heavy-duty Matrix Zen Jedi Master use-the-Force kind
of thing, where you win the game by giving away everything you have in the
opening move! But you're too much a dinosaur to understand. 'Anti-trust
protections!' Hey, Teddy Roosevelt -- your horse-and-buggy is waiting!
Just listen to this guy:

"Most of the health insurance coverage mandated by this legislation does
not come into effect until 2014, by which time 180,000 Americans will die
because they were unable to afford health insurance to cover treatment and
diagnosis, according to Harvard Medical School researchers."
Well, what can I say? 180,000 is a lot of dead people. This is a very hard
choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.

Then there's this Chris Hedges guy. He used to be a "serious" journalist,
reporting on the imperial wars for our corporate partners in the
stovepiping community -- what old-timers and barnacles still like to call
the "news media." But he went off the rails a long time ago and joined the
carpers and cranks on the sidelines, those malcontents who, unlike so many
of our progressive partners today, have never imbibed the timeless wisdom
of Warren G. Harding: "Don't knock, boost!"

Just get a load of Hedges here, making the big-whoop observation that our
 historic bill is just a bloated version of the already-failed,
Republican-created Massachusetts plan:

"Take a look at the health care debacle in Massachusetts, a model for what
we will get nationwide. One in six people there who have the mandated
insurance say they cannot afford care, and tens of thousands of people
have been evicted from the state program because of budget cuts. The
45,000 Americans who die each year because they cannot afford coverage
will not be saved under the federal legislation. Half of all personal
bankruptcies will still be caused by an inability to pay astronomical
medical bills. The only good news is that health care stocks and bonuses
for the heads of these corporations are shooting upward. ..."
Again with the credits! Stocks going up, corporate heads filling their
pockets, pols gorging on backroom baksheesh, Big Money controlling the
debate ... Earth to Hedges: That's what we're here for! That's the whole
point! You're an old Seventies guy, aren't you, Chris? You remember ZZ
Top? "Jesus Just Left Chicago"? (If you'll pardon the immodesty.) What do
they say? "Taking care of business is his name." They got that right.

So who cares if the plan "fails"? Who cares, if, as you say,

"[the plan] will not expand coverage to 30 million uninsured, especially
since government subsidies will not take effect until 2014. Families who
cannot pay the high premiums, deductibles and co-payments, estimated to be
between 15 and 18 percent of most family incomes, will have to default,
increasing the number of uninsured. Insurance companies can unilaterally
raise prices without ceilings or caps and monopolize local markets to shut
out competitors."
Listen, Hedgie: If the plan was to reform the health care system for the
benefit of the people, then we would have, like, reformed the health care
system for the benefit of the people. You follow? The plan was, is, and
will always be to appear to be reforming the system -- to make the rubes
believe that something is being done to alleviate their pain -- precisely
to avoid really reforming the system, which is just too good and greasy
for too many of us at the top of the imperial pyramid.

And when this plan fails -- as it will, as it will -- then you rig up
another boondoggle, another "great debate" full of sound and fury,
signifying zilch, to keep the rubes at bay. Meanwhile, we can get on to
the real job our corporate colleagues and patrons want us to do --
bringing that other old dream of social amelioration for the common folk
to an end at last: Social Security. Scalpel, Nurse! The doctor is in!

Chris Floyd is an American writer and a frequent contributor to
CounterPunch. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at

What I Learned From the Health Care Debate

Making them want to...


So this is what I learned from the last weekend of the health care reform

First, lay a coffin at a White House fence and you're subject to arrest.

Spit and yell abuse at members of the Black Caucus as they enter the
Capitol and you'll be left in peace. The same goes for screaming epithets
at Barney Frank.

If you're going to mass half a million strong for immigration reform,
don't expect coverage on CSPAN when they're covering live events in and
around Capitol Hill -- not if there are hundreds of epithet throwers
somewhere close to cover.

And I learned that after all, it has to be said, some Democrats do have
spine. Unfortunately the rest could take some lessons in how to negotiate
from the teeny weeny criminalize-abortion caucus and Rep. Bart Stupak.

Finally I learned that Nancy Pelosi is one hell of a house leader. She
really can corral a majority when she wants. In fact, she and President
Barack Obama can be really persuasive, when they want to be.

So let's not hear any more bunk about the impossibility of the
aforementioned immigration reform, or repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, or
actually coming up with some real financial regulation.

They can do it when they want to.

The one thing that remains a mystery is how to make them want to. If you
don't have a mountain of cash, that is.

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, which broadcasts weekdays on
satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. More...9415 Free Speech TV) on cable,
public television and online at and Follow
GRITtv or GritLaura on

Monday, March 22, 2010

Taser Torture of the Week!


BARRE – Some city councilors and a handful of residents Tuesday night
suggested revising a policy that governs the police department's use of
Tasers, and raised questions about a local officer's decision to
repeatedly use his stun gun to subdue a 58-year-old homeless woman who
suffers from a mental illness.

During a lengthy discussion, councilors, who received their first official
briefing on the incident that occurred last Wednesday morning in the
parking lot of the Cumberland Farms on North Main Street, did not shrink
from their decision to authorize the acquisition of Tasers last year.
However, some told Police Chief Timothy Bombardier that the events that
played out last week were not quite what they had in mind when they
approved the purchase and adopted the policy outlining how officers should
use the newly acquired devices.

Some councilors questioned why Cpl. Henry Duhaime chose not to call for
backup before deciding to use his Taser on an arguably defiant, but not
outwardly aggressive woman that he repeatedly asked to leave the parking
lot of the convenience store before placing her under arrest.

According to newly released documents, Sgt. Bob Miller was parked just up
the road on the corner of Second Street. Miller could see Duhaime's marked
SUV, but not Duhaime or Ann Osborn, the woman he was attempting to take
into custody.

According to reports, Miller responded to the scene when he heard Osborn's
screams after having been tased.

Councilor Paul Poirier was among those who questioned what Bombardier
defended as a judgment call by Duhaime.

"If we had a police officer that was having an issue with this woman and
things weren't going well … why didn't the officer ask for backup instead
of using force?" Poirier asked.

Councilor Steven Mackenzie said given "the luxury of seven days of
hindsight" he was inclined to agree, given the fact that by all accounts –
Duhaime's included – Osborn wasn't an immediate threat.

"Nobody knows whether the outcome would have been different or not, it's
just that in my mind the perception of having two officers there in front
of her may have changed the outcome," he said. "It may have changed the
need to use the Taser."

Meanwhile, Councilor Michael Smith relayed concerns from many of his
constituents who perceived Duhaime's decision to use the Taser on Osborn
as "a relatively casual use" of a potentially life-threatening device.

Smith said he had concerns about where Tasers fall on the department's
use-of-force continuum given last week's incident. He said he thought the
council had set a higher standard.

"It was my understanding when we approved the policy that we were much
closer to the higher end," he said. "That was my intent."

In the use-of-force report he filed in the wake of the incident, Duhaime
outlined his repeated attempts to persuade Osborn to leave the property,
explained how she crossed her arms defiantly immediately before he placed
her under arrest for unlawful trespass.

According to Duhaime's report, he asked the woman, whom Bombardier said is
still being treated for mental issues, to put her arms behind her back
twice before warning her she would be Tased if she didn't comply.

Osborn kept her arms crossed, according to the report, prompting Duhaime
to unholster his Taser. As had previously been reported, Osborn responded
by saying: "Give me a thrill." Duhaime then fired the Taser, but claimed
the probes did not penetrate Osborn's jacket and the woman doubled over

According to the report, that's when things escalated.

"… I could see that this was not getting any results so I pulled out the
cartridge and went for a drive stun to Osborn's left thigh," Duhaime wrote
in the report that was presented to the council. "This did have some
affect and she screamed a little bit and went down on her buttocks, in the
shrub area, next to the store at which time the Taser slipped off her

According to Duhaime's account that is when Osborn, who was struggling to
get up, "took a swing" at his knee and missed.

"… Before Osborn could get up I was able to apply a second drive stun to
her right thigh," he wrote. "This again kept her down and she began to
scream. I advised her to roll over and place her hands behind her back,
which she did and the Taser came off her leg losing contact again.

"Now Osborn was still screaming without the Taser being on her, and would
still not put her hands behind her back," he continued. "I again applied
the drive stun to the back of her left thigh. Osborn finally complied, put
her hands behind her back at which time I was able to get the handcuffs on
her and take her into custody."

Bombardier told councilors Duhaime did shout "Taser, Taser, Taser" as
required by the policy and, he believed was appropriately used the weapon
to subdue and "actively resistant" subject.

That said, Bombardier conceded there were some issues that deserved
review. Among them, he said, was the less-than-effective use of the Taser
and a need to consider training in identifying and handling subjects with
mental issues.

"That training will take place," he said. "We're moving forward with it."

Several residents spoke at Tuesday's meeting including one woman – Carlene
Wilder – who defended Duhaime as an "understanding and by the law officer"
and Osborn as a woman who could be confrontational.

Wilder rejected the suggestion by some that Duhaime could have spent more
time trying to coax Osborn off the property.

"The woman (Osborn) had her hands crossed," she said. "How long do we take
before the officers say: 'Is she going to pull a knife a gun or some other
weapon outside of her jacket?"

However, most residents in attendance – including the wife of a newly
elected council member – expressed some concern about the incident and
expressed a desire that the council consider revising the policy.

Robert Chartier said Duhaime could have reached for his radio instead of
his Taser and summoned assistance that might have been helpful.

Edward Stanak agreed, calling on the council to revisit and revise the
Taser policy.

"We need very bright lines to provide guidance to the employees of the
city so they understand them," he said, suggesting it would be "pretty
sound practice" to make summoning a second officer a requirement before
resorting to using a Taser on someone who did not pose an immediate threat.

Meanwhile, Stanak said he was troubled by Bombardier's apparent
willingness to justify the use of Tasers in circumstances the council
never contemplated.

"There's a tradition in this country that goes back to Henry David Thoreau
and it's called non-violent civil disobedience and it's woven into the
fabric of this country," Stanak said. "I'm more than a little bit
concerned now that there's a perspective that it … might have been okay to
users Tasers in Selma, Alabama because those people (civil rights
activists) weren't 'passively resistant.'"

Stanak asked for that aspect of the policy to be clarified given comments
made by Bombardier.

Hannah Etli, whose husband, Domenic, was just elected to the council and
openly disagreed with her, questioned Duhaime's use of the Taser during an
incident that, according to Bombardier lasted about eight minutes

"We're escalating a situation in the matter of 10 minutes, I don't think
that's acceptable for the City of Barre," Etli said. "I don't think this
was used appropriately."

Etli said it was also "worth questioning" why Duhaime is the only officer
to have fired his Tasers since officers started carrying them last August.

Bombardier defended Duhaime, reiterating his belief that his actions did
not violate the policy, or injure Osborn.

Using Opera's revolutionary e-mail client:


March 22, 2010

ROBERT PARRY, COMMON DREAMS - The New York Times admits, sort of, that it
got duped by right-wing propagandists who appear to have succeeded in a
plot to destroy ACORN, an organization that has aided and defended the
poor and powerless across the United States for four decades.

In an op-ed column Sunday, the Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt said he has
reviewed the available information and concluded that some key points of
the right-wing video presentation were false or misleading, including the
claim that right-wing media activist James O'Keefe showed up at ACORN
offices dressed in a pimp costume before getting legal advice on setting
up a brothel.

"O'Keefe almost certainly did not go into the Acorn offices in the
outlandish costume - fur coat, goggle-like sunglasses, walking stick and
broad-brimmed hat - in which he appeared at the beginning and end of most
of his videos," Hoyt wrote, adding that the Times was considering a
correction regarding its earlier reporting that had accepted this
misleading point.

Hoyt also acknowledged that perhaps the most damning part of the ACORN
sting story was wrong: ACORN staffers did not go along with a plan to use
under-aged Salvadoran girls as prostitutes. Indeed, the staffers may have
thought they were helping to protect the girls.

After reviewing transcripts provided by a conservative organization, Hoyt
accepted a criticism of the Times made by the liberal media critics at
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, that the Times' earlier reporting on
the video gave the impression that O'Keefe and his supposed girlfriend
were going to exploit the girls as prostitutes. FAIR said the fuller
transcript suggests that the ACORN staffers thought the couple was trying
"to buy a house to protect child prostitutes from an abusive pimp."

"That's right," Hoyt wrote, regarding FAIR's characterization of the
child-prostitute point.

However, Hoyt, who earlier had chastised the Times for not jumping on the
ACORN scandal faster, insisted that the ACORN employees still deserved
criticism for not objecting to other apparent illegalities in O'Keefe's
fictitious schemes. Hoyt said the ACORN workers should have protested any
plans regarding a brothel, noting that one ACORN worker blithely warned,
"Don't get caught, ‘cause it is against the law."

In other words, Hoyt isn't ready to admit that he joined the Times in a
rush to judgment and thus helped destroy ACORN, which has seen its funding
dry up, has shuttered many of its offices, and is expected to file for
bankruptcy soon.

The ACORN case also underscores how vulnerable liberal and leftist groups
are to the Right's enormous media power. One environmental activist told
me recently that every progressive organization in Washington lives in
fear that one mis-dotted "I"or one mis-crossed "T" could mean the end.

The massive right-wing media - stretching from magazines, newspapers and
books to radio, TV and the Internet - also gives the Right the capability
of stampeding the mainstream press against some disfavored politician or
even against another media outlet that digs up unwelcomed information.

Using Opera's revolutionary e-mail client:


Sam Smith
I ended up supporting the health care bill. Not because it was a historic
measure, or the most important piece of legislation in four decades or as
an icon of Obama's greatness, but for the same reason one hands over a
wallet to a robber. There are times when principle takes the back seat.
But when it's all over, the robber is not your hero, but still a thug.
Obama essentially said that if you want 16 million poor people covered,
you have to agree to heavily subsidize the insurance industry either
through your taxes or through the individual mandate. Remember that about
a third of that money will go for marketing and other superfluous industry
spending that might have been avoided under a public plan.
The Maine Owl put it well: "The health bill neither is the Armageddon that
the Republicans claim, nor the greatest social legislation since Civil
Rights and Medicare in the 1960s. Rather, it's a warmed over version of
Republican Bob Dole's individual private insurance mandate proposal from
1994. It is what Barack Obama campaigned against versus Hillary Clinton
and later John McCain in 2008."
I can't recall a major piece of Democratic legislation that was so coated
with corruption, intellectual dishonesty, cynicism and political
disloyalty by those pushing it. Obama and the Democrats have offered us a
quack cure - full of corrupt, ineffective and even unconstitutional
provisions - neatly moderated by some good provisions. And we'll be years
straightening it all out.
The liberal groupies at Move On and the like didn't notice or weren't
bothered by all this, but much of America was, and because neither side
was being honest, the public predictably floundered. The irony is that the
Tea Party that the liberals love to hate built itself in no small part on
the indefensible way in which the Democrats have behaved on health care.
Thus, we are not only getting a badly designed bill but a future in which
the right will thrive even more than it already has.
Center On Budget Policy Priorities: The plan would expand Medicaid up to
133 percent of the poverty line for all children and adults younger than
65 who are lawfully residing in the United States and not eligible for
Medicare. This would mean that millions of low-income parents, as well
non-disabled low-income adults who do not have dependent children (and who
are generally ineligible for Medicaid today except in a small number of
states with waivers), would become newly eligible for health coverage
through Medicaid. Medicaid is the most cost-effective way to provide
comprehensive and affordable coverage to people with very low incomes and
thereby ensure that the low-income uninsured gain coverage.
Reuters - Within the first year of enactment Insurance companies will be
barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.
Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be
Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of
pre-existing conditions.
Young adults will be able to stay on their parents' health plans until the
age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when
they turn 19 or finish college.
Uninsured adults with a pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain
health coverage through a new program that will expire once new insurance
exchanges begin operating in 2014.
A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide
coverage for workers.
In 2011, Medicare provides 10 percent bonus payments to primary care
physicians and general surgeons.
In 2011, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get a free annual wellness
visit and personalized prevention plan service. New health plans will be
required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients.
In 2012, The threshold for claiming medical expenses on itemized tax
returns is raised to 10 percent from 7.5 percent of income. The threshold
remains at 7.5 percent for the elderly through 2016.
In 2012, The Medicare payroll tax is raised to 2.35 percent from 1.45
percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married couples
with incomes over $250,000. The tax is imposed on some investment income
for that income group.
In 2014, State health insurance exchanges for small businesses and
individuals open.
In 2014, Health plans no longer can exclude people from coverage due to
pre-existing conditions.
In 2014, Employers with 50 or more workers who do not offer coverage face
a fine of $2,000 for each employee if any worker receives subsidized
insurance on the exchange. The first 30 employees aren't counted for the
Crooks & Liars: Authorizes early funding of community health centers in
all 50 states. Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision
services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment
according to ability to pay.
There is a huge subsidy for health insurers, paid for out of either taxes
or required purchase of health insurance.
The bill doesn't take insurance and medical cost inflation into adequate
account. For example, between 2000 and 2007, health insurance went up
100%. Under such a rise, the policy subsidies would become less valuable.
Congress tends to lag badly in correcting such situations.
Major provisions of the bill don't got into effect for four to nine years.
This is a considerable con, because it allows politicians to say they've
passed something that may not go into effect until they are either out of
office or, as with the president, safely in his second term. As a result
they don't have to take responsibility for any failure or unanticipated
The individual mandate is unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court doesn't
strike it down, it will open the door to major new intrusions by the
federal government into individual freedom of choice.
Many healthy people may prefer to pay fines than to purchase health
insurance. Others would have no choice. Just because you're making a
middle class wage doesn't mean you can afford all your expenses. What
effect this will have - including on health insurance costs - is unclear
but it's not good
Medicare will be hurt one way or another, probably most deeply by cuts
recommended by an appointed budget commission with unconstitutionally
broad powers.
Because of the delay in programs, the election of a Republican Congress or
Senate could drastically change things. As the LA Times pointed out:
"Insurance industry experts say there is no way to fully gauge the effect
because of its extended time frame. Four years from now, they say,
Congress and the White House could have new occupants who may try again to
reshape the healthcare landscape."
There will be cuts to the Medicare Advantage plans that could reduce
enrollment by as much as one third.
The bill does not deal with state actions. For example, budget cuts in
Arizona may slash $385 from the state's Medicaid program and end Kids Care
for 39,000 poor children. Writes Casey Newton in Arizona Central:
"Programs benefiting low income individuals and families, such as Medicaid
and CHIP, are politically vulnerable to the whims of conservatives
wielding budget cleavers. Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona has just provided us
with a prime example of that. Yet popular programs benefiting everyone,
such as Medicare, are relatively impenetrable to the weapons of the
conservatives. Suppose Congress had included single payer in their
deliberations and eventually decided that the benefits were too great to
pass up ,and so enacted an improved Medicare program that covered
everyone. Gov. Brewer and her ilk on the state level would be powerless to
stop it. "
One of the big sleepers in the bill is the plan to "institute
efficiencies" in Medicare programs. In fact, Medicare is far more
efficient than any private insurance plan in the country. Consider this
snippet from CBPP: "The legislation would reduce annual payment updates to
hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospices, ambulatory surgical
centers, and certain other providers to account for improvements in
economy-wide productivity. It would also reduce payments to home health
agencies, skilled nursing facilities, and inpatient rehabilitation
facilities." And just what will happen to service and its availability?
Remember: one person's efficiency is another's lack of service.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Santelli on Predatory Lending: ‘You can’t cheat an honest man’

By Matt Taibbi

Look at about the 5-minute mark of this video — Janet Tavakoli debating
Rick Santelli about predatory lending. You basically have a whole panel of
CNBC goons pooh-poohing the idea that predatory lending took place,
setting up the inevitable revisionist history that the 2008 crash was
caused by individual homeowners borrowing beyond their means.

My favorite part of this comes roughly at the six-minute mark. Tavakoli
has just deftly explained how a lot of the predatory practices worked —
people with limited financial literacy were presented with long and
complicated mortgage deals, and told they would have a fixed payment in
perpetuity or a guaranteed re-finance, or were nailed by fraudulent
appraisals. Then she mentioned the big one, the fact that investment banks
then took all these mortgages and with eyes wide open securitized them and
sold them off as worthy investments to suckers on the other end of the

While she's saying all this stuff, Santelli, who is one of the fathers of
the Tea Party movement, is shaking his head furiously, video-scoffing at
everything she's saying. When he finally does get a chance to speak, this
is what he says:

Here's my problem with this. It takes two to tango. You can't cheat an
honest man.

You can't cheat an honest man? What the fuck does that mean?

This whole scene sort of encapsulates what's wrong with the Tea Party
movement. The movement, and let's admit this, has some of its roots in
legitimate grievances about government waste and some
not-entirely-inaccurate observations about what's left of the American
welfare state. Of course what resonates most with the suburban whites who
mostly make up the Tea Party are stories about minorities and immigrants
using section 8 housing, food stamps, Medicaid, TANF and other programs,
with the Obama stimulus being for them a symbol of this ongoing government
largess. The heat of the Tea Party movement comes from the racial
frustrations that actually exist out there, in the real world outside New
York and LA, as urban expansion and immigration increasingly throw white
and nonwhite communities together, with white Tea Party types more and
more often blowing gaskets over increased crime rates, declining school
standards, and mislaid or wasted tax revenue.

That this perception that minorities are the prime or sole consumers of
government entitlement programs is absurdly inaccurate — white people, for
instance, are overwhelmingly the largest nonelderly recipients of
Medicaid, making up 42.8% of the program's rolls nationwide, compared to
22.2% for blacks and 27.9% for Hispanics — is beside the point. The point
is that the Tea Party is built largely on this narrative of "personal
responsibility," where the central demons are unwed black and Hispanic
mothers and absent black and Hispanic fathers, who are, let's face it, not
uncommon characters in the American melodrama.

Which is another subject for another time, but let's just say this: the
Tea Party movement contains a lot of people who are far more impressed by
what they can see with their own eyes than with what, for instance, they
read about. I've been to Tea Party events where global warming was
dismissed by speakers who, without irony, pointed to the fact that there
was snow on the ground outside. And while very few people have ever
actually seen a CDO manager or a Countrywide executive, or were aware if
it when they saw them, the Tea Party folks sure as hell have seen who
their neighbors in foreclosure are.

The Fox/CNBC types have very cannily latched on this narrative to rewrite
the history of the financial crisis. They know that Tea Partiers will go
for any narrative that puts blame on poor (and especially poor minority)
homeowners, because the idea of poor blacks and Hispanics borrowing beyond
their means fits seamlessly with their world view. But this is a situation
where poor minorities were really incidental to a much larger fraud scheme
that culminated in a welfare program — the bank bailouts — that dwarfs the
entire "entitlement" infrastructure. But the millions of people who are
actually in the Tea Party movement seem to have absolutely no idea that
their so-called leaders, the Santellis of their world, are shilling for
tax cheats and crooks and welfare bums of the sort they would despise
(perhaps even more than their black and Hispanic neighbors), if they could
actually see them.

But thanks to people like these CNBC goons, they don't see them, and
probably won't. The further we get from the crisis, the muddier all of
this stuff is going to get.

p.s. I seem to be getting a lot of mail from Ron Paul supporters about
this, claiming that I'm overlooking the early Ron Paul tea parties and
suppressing his message. I actually like Ron Paul and have said nothing
but nice things about him. I talk to people in his office regularly. But
the Ron Paul tea parties and these post Feb-2009 Tea Parties are two
different things. Certainly the current Tea Partiers see it that way.
While these folks may have lifted some of the Paulian themes, they're just
physically different people. They're mainstream Palin supporters, and the
reason I find them ridiculous is because I was covering these people while
the bailouts were happening and remember what was actually on their minds
back then. Does anyone remember what the cause of the day was when the AIG
bailout took place? It was the uproar from Palin supporters about Obama's
"lipstick on a pig" comment.

The reason I've always respected the Ron Paul people is that, even though
I don't always agree with them, they're intellectually consistent and
motivated by actual policy issues. These Teabagger types on the other hand
are just a giant herd of video sheep being jerked around by snickering
DC-New York types, who are very skillfully playing on their cultural
paranoia and their economic and racial frustrations. When they were told
to flip out about Obama's "lipstick" comment, they did. When they were
told to flip out about the bailouts, they did. I'm not saying that some of
these people weren't frustrated about the bailouts, to the extent that
they even knew about them, before Obama got elected. But they did not
coalesce into a mass movement against them until part II of the bailout
was passed under Obama's watch, and one should note also that their
keynote speaker in Nashville a few weeks ago, Palin, was a bailout

The Paul people were upset about deficit spending and Fed corruption
throughout and ardently opposed Bush's policies throughout his presidency.
These Teabaggers did not. They were the people inside the rope-lines at
McCain and Romney and Rudy events, complaining about "those people"
consuming social services money, while the Paul people with their protest
placards were physically barred from coming near the events. I must have
seen that dynamic a dozen times during the campaign. So to all those Paul
people, I hear you. I'm not trying to say you weren't on these issues
beforehand. What I'm saying is, this new Tea Party thing, it's different
from your protests, not necessarily because the message is so different,
but because of two things. One, it was inspired by major-network media
figures. Two, the people at the protests are overwhelmingly different
people. They're dupes; the Paul movement is more like a real grass-roots


Saturday, March 20, 2010

"My Fellow Americans, Tonight I'm Going to Talk Frankly About a Pesky Little Nation Called Israel ... "


Don't get excited. It'll never happen. Is there really a crisis in
US-Israeli relations? Yes and No. Yes, because the world's premier power
doesn't care to have its vice president publicly humiliated by a midget of
a nation whose entire population is smaller than that of Los Angeles
county. No, because the elected politicians nominally running the
government of the world's premier power live in mortal fear of the Israel
lobby in the United States. This time, as always, No will carry the day.
(You can find a detailed narrative by Jeffrey Blankfort on this site
today, from which much of this Diary is drawn.)

Consider Biden's reaction the day after Interior Minister Eli Yishai,
probably with Netanyahu's foreknowledge, announced the scheduled building
of 1600 apartments – Jews only – in East Jerusalem, right at the moment
Biden was trying to breathe life into the "peace process". As the Israeli
newspaper Haaretz points out, those projected 1600 units are part of
50,000 planned for the eastern part of the city.

So here's the vice president of the United States of America,standing with
all the injured dignity of a man who has just had a bucket of sewage
dumped over his head and who amid his discomfiture, actually did use the
word "condemn" and "Israel" in the same paragraph. The next day Biden
heads for Tel Aviv university and confides to the audience that he is a
Zionist and that, "throughout my career, Israel has not only remained
close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States
Senator and now as Vice President of the United States." Get that: "the
center of my work." This mission statement is not quoted in the U.S. press.

Then Biden repeats the nonsense he spouted when he arrived in Jerusalem:
that "there is no space -- this is what they [the world] must know, every
time progress is made, it's made when the rest of the world knows there is
absolutely no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to
security, none. No space. That's the only time when progress has been

Of course, if any "progress" can be identified across the past forty years
– a debatable claim – it's only because an American president has nerved
himself to briefly lay down the agenda with threats and menaces, all duly
retracted when the Lobby regroups and commences its counter-attack.

Finally Biden sidles up the "crisis". "I appreciate… the response your
Prime Minister today announced this morning that he is putting in place a
process to prevent the recurrence of that sort of that sort of events
[sic] and who clarified that the beginning of actual construction on this
particular project would likely take several years … That's significant,
because it gives negotiations the time to resolve this, as well as other
outstanding issues. Because when it was announced, I was on the West Bank.
Everyone there thought it had meant immediately the resumption of the
construction of 1,600 new units."

Yes, that's exactly what it did mean, the resumption of the construction
of the 1600 units. And as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz points out, those
projected 1600 units are part of 50,000 units planned for the eastern part
of the city. Natanyahu has said these are non-negotiable, whatever
Washington might say, let alone the pitiful Palestinian Authority.

Amid the anguished cries of the Arab princes and emirs that Israel's
brazen conduct towards Biden made it that much harder for them to sell the
Palestinians down the river, Obama's chief political aide, David Axelrod,
undoubtedly with clearance from his boss, told NBC News that not only was
Israel's conduct an "insult" to the United States but "destructive" of the
Middle East peace process.

Hillary Clinton let it be known she'd read the riot act to Netanhayu down
the phone for 43 minutes. Her spokesman claimed she'd described the
planned units in East Jerusalem as sending a "deeply negative signal about
Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit
of the vice president's trip" and that "this action had undermined trust
and confidence in the peace process and in America's interests."
Meanwhile, special envoy George Mitchell cancelled his trip to the region.

So, yes, we can call it a crisis, but not one that will be prolonged.
Obama is not the first president to have lost patience with Israel for
messing up Uncle Sam's larger plans. Mrs Clinton is not the first
Secretary of State to shout angrily down the phone to Tel Aviv.

Blankfort, historian of the Lobby, reels off other crises, all
satisfactorily resolved in Israel's favor. In 1975 President Gerald Ford
and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger publicly blamed Israel for the
breakdown of negotiations with Egypt over withdrawing from the Sinai.
Ford said he was going to tell the American people that US-Isarel
relations should be recast. Prodded by AIPAC, 76 US senators signed a
letter to Ford telling him to lay off Israel. He did.

In March, 1980, President Carter was forced to apologize after US UN
representative Donald McHenry voted for a resolution that condemned
Israel's settlement policies in the occupied territories including East
Jerusalem and which called on Israel to dismantle them.

In June of the same year, after Carter requested a halt to Jewish
settlements and his Secretary of State, Edmund Muskie, called the Jewish
settlements an obstacle to peace, Prime Minister Menachem Begin announced
plans to construct 10 new ones.

In August, 1982, the day after Reagan requested that Ariel Sharon end the
bombing of Beirut, Ariel Sharon responded by ordering bombing runs over
the city at precisely 2:42 and 3:38 in the afternoon, the times coinciding
with the two UN resolutions requiring Israel to withdraw from the occupied

In March, 1991, Secretary of State James Baker complained to Congress that
"Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace process..,
I have been met with an announcement of new settlement activity… It
substantially weakens our hand in trying to bring about a peace process,
and creates quite a predicament." In 1990, he had become so disgusted with
Israel's intransigence on the settlements that he publicly gave out the
phone number of the White House switchboard and told the Israelis, "When
you're serious about peace, call us."

On September 12, 1991 President George Bush, Sr got sufficiently
infuriated by AIPAC's success in getting enough votes in both houses of
Congress to override his veto of Israel's request for $10 billion in loan
guarantees, that he declared to the television cameras, "I'm up against
some powerful forces. They've got something like 1,000 lobbyists on the
Hill working the other side of the question. We've got one lonely little
guy here doing it." A national poll taken immediately afterward gave the
president an 85 per cent approval rating. The Lobby blinked but not for
long. Not only did the loan guarantees ultimately go through, but Jewish
voters turned strongly against Bush in the '92 elections, a fact which
Bush Jr never forgot.

As Blankfort also recalls, in January 2009, former Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert publicly boasted that he had "shamed" Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice by getting President Bush to prevent her from voting for
a Gaza cease-fire resolution at the last moment that she herself had
worked on for several days with Arab and European diplomats at the United

Olmert bragged to an Israeli audience that he pulled Bush off a stage
during a speech to take his call when he learned about the pending vote
and demanded that the president intervene.

"I have no problem with what Olmert did," Abraham Foxman, national
director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Forward. "I think the
mistake was to talk about it in public."

In sum, as Stephen Green wrote in "Taking Sides: America's Secret
Relations with Militant Israel" (Morrow, 1984) a quarter century ago,
"Since 1953, Israel, and friends of Israel in America, have determined the
broad outlines of US policy in the region. It has been left to American
presidents to implement that policy, with varying degrees of enthusiasm,
and to deal with tactical issues."

There are powerful forces in America that wish that this was not so,
starting with the US military. Before Biden's trip no less a prominent
and widely admired commander as General David Petraeus wrote a memo to
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with its sentiments reduplicated in testimony
last Tuesday before a US Senate Armed Services Committee.

In his prepared statement to Congress, Petraeus described the Israeli-Arab
conflict as the first "cross cutting challenge to security and stability"
in the CENTCOM area of responsibility [AOR]. "The enduring hostilities
between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to
our ability to advance our interests in the AOR."

Petraeus then told the Senate committee that "The conflict foments
anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for
Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and
depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and
weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world." Not long
before, Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, warned the Israelis
publicly that an attack on Iran would be a "big, big, big problem for all
of us."

In Israel the widely-read Yediot Ahronoth reported that privately Biden
had echoed Petraeus's sentiments, telling Netanyahu that Israel's conduct
was "starting to get dangerous for us." "What you're doing here," Biden
reportedly said, "undermines the security of our troops who are fighting
in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers
regional peace."

Would not the charge that Israel is putting harm's way the lives of
Americans battling terror on the front lines be devastating if toughly
presented by a capable politician to the American people? Yes it would.
Honestly conducted polls, without weasel wording, would probably give the
politician making such a charge ratings as higher or higher than Bush got
in 1991.

So will Gen. Petraeus, assuming he embarks on a political run in 2012 or
2016, make such a move? First of all, one can make the assumption that
after his memo and testimony it won't be long before we're reading some
investigative story about the "questionable claims", associated with Gen.
Petraeus' numerous medals, maybe even disclosures of Flashmanesque
prudence on the field of battle. Secondly, any Republican candidate has
to court the Republican ultra-Christians, passionate in support of Israel,
by reason of doctrinal scheduling of the ultimate Rapture. Thirdly, why
scare all Jewish campaign money back into the Democratic Party?

As Blankfort remarks, shortly before the first time he met with President
Obama, 76 US senators, led by Christopher Dodd and Evan Bayh, plus 330
members of the House, sent AIPAC-crafted letters to the president calling
on him not to put pressure on the Israeli prime minister when they met.
The House, do not forget, cheered on Israel's onslaught in Gaza and by
334 to 36 condemned the Goldstone Report.

The Democrat Party is heavily reliant on major Jewish political funders,
up to 60 per cent of the top tier of contributors, according to
Blankfort. Soon AIPAC has its convention (at which Tony Blair will be a
minor attraction). Here will come all major politicians to fawn and pay
tribute. On June 3, 2008, right after he had finally prevailed in the race
for the nomination against Hilary Clinton, Obama addressed the AIPAC
crowd, some 7,000 strong: "We will also use all elements of American power
to pressure Iran," he assured AIPAC." I will do everything in my power to
prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power.
Everything and I mean everything." He swore he wouldn't talk to the
elected representatives Palestinians, Hamas. To thunderous applause he
declared, "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain
undivided." The next day, Obama's foreign policy advisors, aghast at this
outburst, issued some corrections.

As Uri Avnery, the veteran Israeli writer and peace activist expostulated
furiously in the wake of this last sentence: "Along comes Obama and
retrieves from the junkyard the outworn slogan 'Undivided Jerusalem, the
Capital of Israel for all Eternity'. Since Camp David, all Israeli
governments have understood that this mantra constitutes an insurmountable
obstacle to any peace process…. The fear of AIPAC is so terrible, that
even this candidate, who promises change in all matters, does not dare. In
this matter he accepts the worst old-style Washington routine. He is
prepared to sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US
has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace that will
allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses from Iraq to
Morocco. Obama has harmed his image in the Muslim world and mortgaged his
future - if and when he is elected president… If he sticks to them, once
elected, he will be obliged to say, as far as peace between the two
peoples of this country is concerned: 'No, I can't!'

So yes, the crisis will soon be over, and no, there is no new era in
US-Israel relations in the offing.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010


February 22, 2010
Sam Smith
Last Saturday I spent eight hours with three dozen other people in a
basement conference room of a Washington hotel engaged in an extraordinary
exercise of mind and hope.
The topic was, by itself, depressingly familiar: building an anti-war
coalition. What made it so strikingly different was the nature of those at
the table. They included progressives, conservatives, traditional liberals
 and libertarians. Some reached back to the Reagan years or to 196
activism, some - including an SDS leader from the University of Maryland
and several Young Americans for Liberty - were still in college.
In a time when politics is supposed to be hopelessly polarized along the
lines proposed by Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann, the most heated debate
occurred not between left and right but over tactics between Ralph Nader
and Bill Greider.
There was an economics professor from a naval war college and the
executive director of Veterans for Peace; there was Katrina vanden Heuvel,
editor of the Nation, me from the Progressive Review, and editors from the
American Conservative and Reason Magazine.
The session had been conceived by long time activist and current head of
Voters for Peace, Kevin Zeese, along with artist George D. O'Neill, Jr.
who had been chair of the Rockford Institute, a leading traditional
conservative intellectual think tank in the 1980s, and who had worked on
Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign.
What we shared was an antipathy towards war. It was not so much that we
were anti-war as we were seeking a post-war world. Our approaches might
differ but our goals were, at worst, next door.
As Zeese put it in an introduction the session, it was about "views from
the right, left and radical center, views that reflect those of many
Americans which are not represented in the political dialogue in Congress
or the White House, or the mainstream media. Throughout American history
there have been times when movements developed that were outside the
limited political dialogue of the two major parties. . .
"Polling actually shows majorities often oppose war and escalation of war.
But these views are not represented in government or the media. In
addition, opposition to war is not limited to people on the left; it
covers the American political spectrum and it always has. There is a long
history of opposition to war among traditional conservatives. Their
philosophy goes back to President Washington's Farewell Address where he
urged America to avoid 'foreign entanglements.' It has showed itself
throughout American history. The Anti-Imperialist League opposed the
colonialism of the Philippines in the 1890s. The largest anti-war movement
in history, the America First Committee, opposed World War II and had a
strong middle America conservative foundation in its make-up. The
strongest speech of an American president against militarism was President
Eisenhower's 1961 final speech from the White House warning America
against the growing military-industrial complex. In recent years the
militarist neo-conservative movement has become dominate of conservatism
in the United States. Perhaps none decry this more than traditional
conservatives who oppose massive military budgets, militarism and the
American empire.
"Of course, the left also has a long history of opposition to war from the
Civil War to early imperialism in the Philippines, World Wars I and II
through Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It includes socialists, Quakers,
social justice Catholics and progressives. Indeed, the opposition to entry
into World War I was led by the left including socialists, trade
unionists, pacifists including people like union leader and presidential
candidate Eugene Debs, Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams and author and
political activist Helen Keller. . .
"Opposition to Vietnam brought together peace advocates with the civil
rights movement, highlighted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s outspoken
opposition to the war. . . .
"What are the ingredients for a successful anti-war, pro-peace movement?
- The anti-war movement needs to be a reflection of not just the left but
of Middle America and traditional conservatives who oppose war.
- A successful anti-war peace movement cannot give up the flag of
patriotism. It needs to grab hold of America's patriotic impulses and show
the United States can be the nation many imagine us to be-leading by
positive example, helping in crisis, being a force for good, rather than
propagating military dominance and hegemony.
- A successful anti-war movement needs to be a place where veterans, from
grunts to generals, can openly participate, share their stories and
explain the lessons they learned from American militarism.
- A well organized anti-war movement will have committees not only
reaching out to military and business, but to academics, students, clergy,
labor, nurses, doctors, teachers and a host of others.
- The 1960s tactics of big marches and congressional demonstrations have
their role but they are not sufficient. The media and government have
adjusted to them. We need to use tools like voter initiatives and
referenda to break through and put our issues before the voters. And, we
need to learn from around the world what has worked; for example, general
strikes, whether of a few hours or few days, have shown unified opposition
to government policy
- Make war relevant to Americans' day-to-day lives by constantly linking
the cost of war to their communities, incomes, and bank accounts. People
need to learn that Empire is not good for the U.S. economy.
- Both parties are dominated by pro-militarist elected officials. The
anti-war movement needs to be strong in criticizing candidates who call
for a larger military, escalation of war, or other militarist policies."
Clips from the bios of those at the session suggest the unusual
cross-ideological and cross-cultural presence:
- A Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. He also is the Robert A. Taft
Fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance and served as a
Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.
- His leading work includes a biography of historian William A. Williams,
the Encyclopedia of the American Left, five volumes on the lives and work
of the Hollywood Blacklistees, . . . and eight volumes of nonfiction comic
art (adaptations of Howard Zinn and Studs Terkel, graphic biographies of
Isadora Duncan and Emma Goldman, The Beats, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman,
- He has been a regular contributor to Rolling Stone, and currently covers
national security for its National Affairs section. He is a contributing
editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, and a senior
correspondent for The American Prospect.
- An associate professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in
Monterey, California and a Research Fellow with the Hoover Institution at
Stanford University. From 1982 to 1984, he was the senior economist for
health policy, and from 1983 to 1984 he was the senior economist for
energy policy, with President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers.
- Founding member of the Washington chapter of the National Association of
Black Journalists; executive board member of the National Alliance of
Third World Journalists. . .
- Founding Managing Editor and current Executive Editor of The American
Conservative. Research director of Pat Buchanan's 2000 campaign.
- Executive Director of Veterans For Peace. His volunteer social and
economic justice activist work include membership in Military Families
Speak Out, coordinating committee member for the Bring Them Home Now
campaign against the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Co-Chair of United For
Peace and Justice.
- Legislative aide for the armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of
Ohio from 1973 through 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary
Hart of Colorado from 1977 through 1986. An opponent of the Iraq War, has
written for the Marine Corps Gazette, and Defense and the National
Interest. . .
- For over four decades has exposed problems and organized millions of
citizens into more than 100 public interest groups to advocate for
solutions. . .
- Active within the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties at various
times. As a boy, he supported George McGovern for president in 1972 partly
because of the Democrat's anti-war stance. In the mid 1970s, he became a
conservative who backed Ronald . . .
- Managing editor of Reason magazine, is the author of Rebels on the Air:
An Alternative History of Radio in America.
Notably absent from the session were members of the extremist center,
liberal professors seeking to prove their manhood by backing yet another
war, legislators afraid to challenge the Pentagon, belligerent bullies and
the cowardly complacent. And everyone in the room was trying something
Which, when you come to think of it, is just what happens when you make
peace. People who have been shooting at each other sit down and find a way
to share some space. One might expect that anti-war activists would
understand this, but too often we all regard our political beliefs not as
the product of imperfect and struggling minds but as our sacred identity,
our justification and our privileged demographic. We reduce politics to
the theology of the self-righteous rather than as an imperfect search for
better times.
As I sat around that table, I tried to recall those few occasions when I
had experienced something close to this - few, that is, since the days
when I sat around the family table as the third child of six and learned
about living with those different from oneself and more than willing to
say so.
Some of the later times worked; some didn’t. One that worked was the
anti-freeway coalition of the 1960s and 70s that kept Washington from
becoming another Los Angeles. It was started by among the least likely
activists - black and white middle class homeowners whose neighborhood was
about to be ruined. It expanded to include those of us in the civil rights
group SNCC as well as the all white Georgetown Citizens Association. I
once wrote of the leader, "By all rights, Sammie Abbott should have been
disqualified as a DC leader on at least three grounds: he was too white,
he was too old, and he lived in the suburbs. Instead, this short man with
a nail-file voice became the nemesis of public officials for years.
Abbott, the grandson of Arab Christians who fled Turkish persecution in
Syria, had been a labor organizer, a bricklayer and a World War II veteran
with a Bronze Star."
There was only one qualification to join the anti-freeway movement:
opposition to freeways. And the success of our effort - rare among such
highway protests - left a mark on a city colony devoid of rights and helps
to explain how - just two years after the riots - we were able to form a
biracial third party that would hold seats on the city council and/or
school board for 25 years.
I would come to think of it as existential politics - in which one defined
one's existence by one's actions rather than by one's ethnicity, class,
party registration or magazine subscriptions. And it was a sort of
politics that would become increasingly rare.
But it didn't always work. In the mid sixties, I was editing a
neighborhood newspaper in Washington's biracial Capitol East. Things were
already well beyond the capacity of any one community to solve. America's
cities were starting to burn and you could feel the heat even in Capitol
East. In September 1967, anti-poverty activist Lola Singletary convinced
the white businessmen of H Street to form a organization dedicated to
involvement in community problems.
In late 1967 I came up with the idea of pulling together the various
leaders of Capitol East into an informal leadership council with the
possibility of forming a major neighborhood coalition. Fourteen people
attended a meeting on January 31: 7 white and 7 black. Among our purposes:
- To share our group differences so we can increase our knowledge of one
another's group positions, plans and needs.
- To increase opportunities to share our group concerns so that we can
better support one another's group efforts.
- To unite in common action where we have agreement.
It was too late. A little more than two months later, the riots broke out
and Capitol East had two of the four major riot strips, including H
Street. Hope had burned up as well.
then in 1995, as part of the Green Politics Network, I joined a number of
other Greens in hosting a conference of third party activists. Over a
hundred showed up, ranging from one of the founders of the American Labor
Party to Greens, Libertarians, Perot backers, Democratic Socialists of
America, and followers of Lenora Fulani. It was a recklessly dangerous
idea for a Washington weekend, but John Rensenbrink, Linda Martin, and
Tony Affigne seemed to know what they were doing and I was happy to go
along. We established two basic rules:
- We would only discuss issues on which we might find some agreement.
- We would reach that agreement by consensus.
I was one of the kickoff speakers and said:
"As a simple empirical matter you can say that one of the great
characteristics of Americans is not merely opposition to a system of the
moment but antipathy towards unnatural systems in general -- opposition to
all systems that revoke, replace or restrain the natural rights of humans
and the natural blessings of their habitats.
"This, I think, is why we are here today. If nothing else binds us it is
an understanding of the damage that heartless, leaderless, mindless
systems have done to the specifics of our existence. . .
"Further, in our distaste with the systems suffocating our lives, we are
very much in the mainstream. These systems have done half our work for us,
they have lost the people's faith. . .
"We must stake out a position with real programs for real people, with our
enthusiasm on our sleeve and our ideology in our pocket, with small words
and big hearts, and -- most of all -- with a clear vision of what a better
future might look like. We must tackle what Chesterton called the "huge
modern heresy of altering the human soul to fit its conditions, instead of
altering human conditions to fit the human soul.". . .
"This then is our task. Let's embrace it not as sectarians or as prigs but
as a happy fellow members of a new mainstream. Not as radicals permanently
in exile but as moderates of an age that has not quite arrived. Let's
laugh and make new friends and be gentle with one another. Let's remember
Camus' dictum that the only sin we are not permitted is despair. . ."
Despite the wide range of views present, despite the near total absence of
Robert's Rules of Order, the final document, with full consensus, called
for nothing less than a major transformation. The group unanimously agreed
to support proportional representation, campaign finance reform "to
provide a level playing field in elections;" initiative, referendum and
recall; better ballot access; the end of corporate welfare; strong
environmental policies; sexual and reproductive freedom; an end to the war
on drugs and treatment of addiction as a health matter rather than as a
crime; a dramatic cut in military expenditures; workplace democracy and
the maximum empowerment of people in their communities "consistent with
fairness, social responsibilities and human rights."
Not bad for a meeting at which nobody yelled at anyone.
Interesting stories but how rare.
Now Kevin Zeese and George O'Neill have to try to build on the spirit in
that basement last Saturday and turn it into something that all can see.
Perhaps it will be a catalyst as was, say, the Seneca Falls conference was
for women's rights. Perhaps it will be nothing but another nice try that
didn't work out.
We may never know. After all, only two women who attended Seneca Falls
conference lived long enough to vote.
We do know, however, that good futures are built on the efforts of those
unafraid of failure. At a time when a majority of Americans consider their
system broken, we can either consign ourselves to being victims or we can,
as we did last Saturday, come together in new ways, with new ideas and new
allies and start replacing a failed system with communities that work.
Using Opera's revolutionary e-mail client:


One nation, under law..yeah, that's the ticket. Wish I had thought of that 
before my progeny attended the consumer culture incubation system.--Pete

SAM SMITH - Now that a federal appeals court has ruled that the words
"under God" are fine for the pledge of allegiance, we once more find
ourselves without the support of any of the three branches of the federal

What to do?

Baltimore Orioles fans figured this out long ago. When they sing the
national anthem, it suddenly turns into a team fight song as the words, "O
say does that. . ." are modified by a stadium full of fans yelling "O" in
honor of their team. We can do something similar with the pledge. When it
comes to the words "under God," just cry out, "under law." It might just
catch on.


Solicitation Number:
Notice Type:
Combined Synopsis/Solicitation
Added: Mar 08, 2010 10:39 am
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) intends to purchase twenty-seven
designated as the only shotguns authorized for ED based on compatibility
with ED existing shotgun inventory, certified armor and combat training
and protocol, maintenance, and parts.
The required date of delivery is March 22, 2010.
Interested sources must submit detailed technical capabilities and any
other information that demonstrates their ability to meet the requirements
above, no later than March 12, 2010 at 12 PM, E.S.T. Any quotes must be
submitted electronically to the attention of, Contract
Specialist (Contract Operations Group), with a concurrent copy to, Contracting Officer (Contract Operations Group).


Sam Smith
- His supporters didn't read the small type above the box marked "I
accept." If they had they would have learned during the campaign that
Obama was pro-military, anti-civil liberties and conservative on
economics. They got what they paid for, just not what they thought they
had paid for.
- Obama got where he is by repeatedly pleasing the establishment. He still
- Everyone from his mother to his law professors to the Democratic
Leadership Council kept telling him how great he was. He came to believe
them. Wisdom and judgment in life requires losses as well as victories.
- He understands how to create transparent data but not how to create
visible programs. No one knows why we're in Afghanistan, what's really in
the healthcare bill, or what's being stimulated in their communities. It's
hard to argue for things people can't see and it makes it easy for your
opponents to claim that they're something awful. The best politics is the
sort you can see and feel.
- Obama's a lawyer surrounded by too many lawyers. The legalocracy has
been taking over Washington for years, but with Obama it's reached a new
peak. Lawyers do somethings well, like write contracts, sue people and
draft your will. In other matters - like actually doing whatever it is
they're providing legal support for - they are not particularly qualified.
Harry Markopolos, the Bernie Madoff whistleblower, recently described how
it works at the SEC:"The five commissioners of the SEC are securities
lawyers. Securities lawyers never understand finance. They don't have the
math background. If you can't do math and if you can't take apart the
investment products of the 21st century backward and forward and put them
together in your sleep you'll never find the frauds on Wall Street."
- Further, lawyers think truth lies in documents and not out on the
street. Which is one reason FDR did better with his stimulus package: he
put a social worker, and not a lawyer, in charge.
- Rahm Emmanuel. Hope and change don't go over so well when they are
accompanied by threats.
- As soon as Obama got elected he dumped his liberal supporters, thereby
ignoring the advice of a wiser Chicago politician, Richard Daley the
elder: "Dance with the one that brung you."
- He has too many economists. Multi-factor crises are not handled well by
one-factor thinkers.
- Obama thinks bipartisanship is great. A better politician, Harry Truman,
said that when anyone told him they were bipartisan, he knew they were
going to vote against him. My Coast Guard navigation instructor told us
that if you take a navigational fix and it puts you on one side of a rock
and then you take another fix and it puts you on the other side of the
rock, "Don't split the difference." Obama doesn't seem to grasp this
- There's nothing intrinsically wrong with compromise, but wise
compromises are made by those who know where they want to go. Using a
compromise as the starting point is a premeditated act of random, like you
know, whatever.
- Looking deeply pensive when someone else is speaking or doing a little
jog up to the podium is cute the first few times; after that it becomes
- Obama's problem is not that he uses a teleprompter but that he seems
totally dependent on it, such as using one when speaking to a group of
school children. Joe Biden should give him lessons in human conversation.
- Academic intelligence takes you only so far. At some point, you have to
apply it and that requires other skills such as social wisdom, empathy and
- Obama, who has a hard time running those governmental functions covered
by the Constitution, can't keep his hands off things that are none of his
business like local education or how health records are maintained. The
wisest leaders know how to share power with others and to respect the 10th
- People don't want more laws and regulations; they want more money, help
and happiness. Obama doesn't seem to understand this.
- Everyone talks about Obama and race, but it's really class that's
causing the problem. People feel they're being talked down to, scolded,
and told what to do by people who come across as intellectual snobs. This
didn't used to be a problem, because liberals were the ones who helped the
workers and the less fortunate in society. Now they don't seem to care all
that much. If liberals, beginning with Obama, had a people-friendly
economic policy, the right wouldn't be able to get away with their
hypocritical blarney and the Democrats would have some weapons to combat
- With Obama as with the rest of his party, there is no interest, concern
or respect for the local - where people really live. Getting through life
doesn't happen at a White House summit but in the 'hood.
- After you've had all your summits and your speeches and special meetings
with special people, it helps to make a decision or two that everyone can
understand and a lot of people can get excited about.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Bogus Hispanic Crime Wave

This is especially salient for San Jose, where the po-po have racked up a
wildly disproportionate arrest rate for young Latino males. They're not
racist, though - at least that's what they keep telling me.--Pete

Counterpunch Diary

Nothing more easily elicits roars of assent across a good slice of the
political spectrum than the hoarse alarums that wave after wave of
brown-skinned illegals continually flood across the border, plunging
neighborhoods and whole cities into an inferno of crime, over-whelming
cops and prosecutors, clogging the justice system, cramming the prisons.
Lou Dobbs is pondering a political run powered by a thousand pop-eyed
commentaries catering to this fear. "A third of the prison population in
this country is estimated to be illegal aliens," he shouts. Glenn Beck
screams about "an illegal alien crime wave." The panic is by no means
confined to the nutball right. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, launching his
commendable plan for a National Criminal Justice Commission last year,
invoked the specter of organized Mexican gangs that supposedly threaten
"hundreds" of American cities. "There are an estimated 1 million gang
members in the United States, many of them foreign-based," Webb wrote.
"Every American neighborhood is vulnerable. Gangs commit 80% of the crime
in some locations. Mexican cartels, which are military-capable, have
operations in 230+ U.S. cities."
It's all nonsense. There's no crime wave swollen by brown gangbangers to
city-destroying proportions. If you want a lucid walk through the data you
can turn to … The American Conservative, whose March issue features a
cover story by the magazine's publisher, Ron Unz. There's a photo of a
tattooed gangbanger, and the title -"HisPANIC," then the subtitle: "The
Myth of Immigrant Crime."
Yes, this is the magazine co-founded by Pat Buchanan, whose physical form
I last clapped eyes on at the Republican convention in the Houston
Astrodome in 1992, roaring to a climactic fist-shake against the black and
brown hordes who had recently rioted in Los Angeles: "We must take back
our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country!"
Unz comes to statistical analysis of populations and crime data with
decent credentials—he majored in theoretical physics at Harvard, then went
on to physics graduate study at Cambridge and Stanford before swerving
into very successful software work on Wall Street and now a busy life in
Silicon Valley, fostering ideas on both sides of the political aisle. I
should add that I count him as a discriminating friend, supportive of left
ventures such as CounterPunch as well as The American Conservative, whose
tiller he took over in 2007.
At the heart of Unz's essay is the matter of age-weighting. Most serious
crime is committed by young males, especially those between 18 and 29.
Now, the age distribution of Hispanics and whites in the overall
population is markedly different. The median age for Hispanics is around
27; for whites it's above 40. But to get useful comparisons you need to
look at the relative criminality of Hispanics and whites of the same age;
you need to sift out immigration-related offenses (more than half of all
federal prosecutions) from state-prosecuted crimes such as robbery, rape,
murder, burglary, assault and theft; you need to review comparative data
state by state, since there are very significant regional differences in
the way justice systems are administered, hence significant variations in
incarceration rates.
Unz's bottom line: "Hispanics have approximately the same crime rates as
whites of the same age." Since poverty and crime have an intimate
connection, and since America's Hispanics are advancing economically, the
Hispanic crime rate will most likely drop more. An important further
point: Unz uses Census figures for all the states, with a total estimate
in 2008 of around 45 million Hispanics. But there's a widespread view that
illegal immigrants are significantly undercounted. So if there are, as
some "brown tide" scaremongers allege, 25 million unreported Hispanic
illegals above Census numbers, then the true Hispanic crime rate is 35
percent lower than Unz estimates. Almost beyond the shadow of a doubt,
white crime rates nationwide are significantly higher than Hispanic ones.
Senator Webb needs to refocus his Threat Assessment.
But what about Los Angeles, allegedly the dystopian HQ of immigrant crime,
half Hispanic in population, many of them poor and illegal? All crime
rates in LA, Unz explains, have been dropping for two decades. Homicides
plunged 18 percent last year. Violent crime is roughly the same in LA as
in Portland, Oregon, the whitest major city in America, the same as it was
in the lily-white LA of the early 1960s. But the gangs? Ah, yes. You see,
the feds dole out hundreds of millions each year for gang prevention. Pay
a city to find a gang problem and the city will oblige.
Unz had a question for me: "Pro-immigrant advocacy organizations spend
hundreds of millions of dollars each year in this exact subject area. So
if my theories were correct or even just remotely plausible, wouldn't such
a vast army of paid researchers have long since discovered the same
evidence and blasted it out to the four corners of the earth via a very
supportive mainstream media?"
My answer: remember that mainstream NGO liberalism—starting with
Rockefeller and particularly saturating every environmental foundation—is
built on the bedrock of demographic panic about the pullulating poor,
particularly the brown and black and yellow hordes. Every billionaire
setting up his foundation almost invariably has population control in his
mandate. Shoulder to shoulder with hysteria about immigrant crime waves
rides fear of the fecund darker races. So I think we can surmise an
instinctive racist bias among foundation liberals, their likely belief
that Hispanics do commit more crimes and hence their desire to steer clear
of all data that they fear might ratify this instinct.
Now, among the names that cause Nation columnist Katha Pollitt to twitch
with reflexive irritation, the name Cockburn can most certainly be
included. Hardly had I published Unz's conclusions in the Nation magazine
than Pollitt dashed to her laptop to pound a peeved commentary.
It's "annoying," she snapped, "when conservatives take credit for work
liberals have been doing for much longer and far more seriously. It's even
more irritating when a leftist [that's AC] is so eager to bash liberals,
he joins the parade."
Then Pollitt listed a number of papers from the liberal end of the
spectrum on the topic of Hispanics and crime, plus some testy comments
from academics working in this field, claiming that Unz was reinventing
the wheel and that what the American Conservative was trumpeting on its
cover was old news, known to all, or at least to liberal communicators
such as Pollitt, though not Cockburn, all too eager to take yet another
whack at the pwogs.
The trouble is that Katha--to judge from this piece at least--doesn't
actually know anything about the topic of Hispanic crime, therefore
doesn't know what's widely known, what's not widely known, and what's
completely mistaken. Even the very limited research she references is on
the topic of "immigrant Hispanic crime" not "overall Hispanic crime," and
these studies are sometimes are highly misleading for that reason. For
example Katha quotes Rubén Rumbaut at UC Irvine as saying patronizingly on
the phone to her that "I'm amused by [Unz's] 'discovery' of something I've
been writing about since the last millennium." She encourages Nation
readers to peruse a 2007 paper by Rumbaut. Actually, this paper
claims--wrongly--that Mexican crime rates skyrocket 700 per cent in the
generation after immigration. According to a Rumbaut chart, American-born
Hispanics are 250 percent more likely to be imprisoned than American-born
whites--a result which would be grim news for America's future if it were
correct. Here's a link.. Scroll down a bit to Figure 3, and Nation readers
can discover where Tom Tancredo may have got his ideas about Latino crime
But Katha seems to have been in too much of a hurry even to look at the
studies she cited as proof that "everyone already knew" exactly the
opposite of what the studies actually claimed. Similarly, she cites
Harvard's Robert J. Sampson as having had an op-ed in the New York Times a
few years back, arguing that immigrant Hispanics had low crime rates. But
this column didn't say anything about the much larger number of
native-born Hispanics, a very different question.
Pollitt's derision--buttressed by a couple of academics (not a breed
renowned for intellectual generosity) about the supposed lack of
originality of Unz's piece--is misplaced. As Unz points out, no one
previously explored the age-adjustment or cross-correlation methods, even
in the academic literature.
Let's go to the all important general point: just how well known are the
facts about Hispanics and crime? Anecdotally, I should say that my report
on Unz's TAC piece, scrutinized by a few Nation editors—presumably well
informed on social issues --did not elicit the swift rebuke that I was
flogging a dead horse.
It's true that some academic specialists have generally been aware that
Latinos didn't have especially high crime rates (though as far as I know
nobody's previously used Unz's particular methodologies to make the point
directly and quantitatively.) Even the volume of academic literature seems
extremely scant, relative to the magnitude of the subject involved. Over
the last decade, there have been a couple of books by Ramiro Martinez
dealing with the subject, and a relatively small number of journal
articles, few of which are very direct or explicit. But there's a huge
difference between academic specialists being generally aware of this, and
perhaps occasionally communicating their results to other academic
specialists via turgid journal articles and books, and this information
getting out to a wider public audience.
As a Nation reader responded crisply to Pollitt: "You are wrong to
suggest that a few articles here and there have successfully debunked the
Latino crime wave myth. They have not done anything of the kind except
perhaps through those few who read the articles. The myth is still
pervasive not only because of the blatant racists out there but because it
has not effectively been debunked in academia and the media. ..Outside of
your rarefied circles, their are many, many people who believe Latinos are
the worse criminals in our society and they will continue to do so until
as long as racism comes down from the wealthiest layers of society. That
is what you should be reporting on rather than telling us that we all know
Latins aren't all criminals because someone, somewhere wrote in some
obscure article that they aren't. Please come down out of your ivory tower
and learn what racist viewpoints the average person has and why they have
such viewpoints.
"As far as I can tell," Unz says, "there's been virtually no effort to get
the information out to a wider audience. I'm pretty sure I've almost never
seen anything mentioned in any of the six newspapers I've read daily for
the last 15 years, or in any of the numerous opinion magazines to which I
subscribe. If you go on the websites of the major liberal
pro-immigrant/pro-Hispanic public advocacy organizations ranging from the
National Immigration Forum to La Raza you'll find almost no mention of
this claim anywhere, let alone any study or report highlighting it. If you
try using Google, you'll find very, very little that suggests otherwise.
"In fact, one of the very few individuals who's directly specialized in
this field is Ramiro Martinez, cited by Ms. Pollitt, who's written almost
the only books directly on the topic of Hispanic crime. I sent him a copy
of my article, which he said he liked, and we traded several notes. He
actually agreed with me how unfortunate it was that so little of the
public had been informed of these important facts. My claim is certainly
not that the academic specialists have been deluded, but simply that they,
and the organizations sponsoring them, have done an extremely poor job of
communicating their findings to the general public."
Katha cites Sampson's op-ed in the NYT, addressing crime rates of
immigrant Hispanics. Meanwhile, there have been a large number of major
NYT news stories focusing on murderous Latino gangs, Latino prison
inmates, and Latino social pathologies which have provided exactly the
opposite impression, let alone what's daily on Rush Limbaugh, Fox News,
and similar media outlets. Given how much money Ford, Soros, et al.,
spend, maybe during all these years they could have issued one study or
report entitled "Hispanic Crime Rates" arguing that Hispanics have
approximately the same crime rates as whites, and sent it out with a big
press release.
There are at least about 50 million Hispanics in America, and they're
projected to become 25 percent of the total national population. Whether
they have high crime rates or low crime rates is a huge issue for the
future of America, and a very large fraction of the public wrongly
believes they have high crime rates. As Unz wrote to me, "All my article
really does is prove that rocks fall downward--but that may still be a
huge revelation to lots of people. I'd be very curious if Ms. Pollitt can
find any sentence in any article which she's ever written or which The
Nation has ever published by someone else saying something like 'Hispanics
seem to have approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same
Probably naívely, I thought it encouraging that a magazine founded by Pat
Buchanan should devote its March cover and a substantial number of pages
to a persuasive assault on right-wing hysteria about the supposedly
astronomic crime rates of Hispanics in America. But aside from my own
piece – I think the first commentary on Unz's work – The American
Conservative's cover story raised no interest on the left. However,
reaction across the larger political spectrum reaction on the right
swiftly gave the lie to Pollitt's claim that this was all stale news.
Slate listed Unz's piece as "one of the top pieces of the day, saying "Ron
Unz takes on, and takes down, one of the far-right's most cherished
doctrines". Tyler Cowen, New York Times economics columnist, called it
"An excellent article, full of good information." Heather Horn, announced
on the The Atlantic Monthly/Atlantic Wire that "Unz debunks the high
Hispanic crime rate myth...the piece requires a full reading."
Over at the libertarian Reason Magazine Rodney Balko called it "One of
the more courageous endeavors I've seen from a political magazine in a
long time." USA Today called attention to it.
The Ron Paul movement, fresh from its remarkable victory in the CPAC
presidential straw poll, was quite supportive. Not only did the Ron Paul
News website prominently highlight Unz's article and mention it in a
twitter feed to their supporters, but, a popular website
closely associated with Ron Paul, republished large excerpts of the piece,
and followed it up with several blog items focusing on the ongoing debate
surrounding the piece . A couple of the leading anti-Immigrationist
publications struck back with lengthy and detailed critiques.
Unz responded to these with specific rebuttals published on the TAC
website, where his original article can be found.