Saturday, May 27, 2006


Vacation Time!

We're taking the next two weeks off; going away, in truth.

We'll be back here, on-line, on the 12th of June, assuming we're in touch with whatever plan the Creator has for us. Enjoy yourselves—and if you want to start the revolution without us, go head on!

Friday, May 26, 2006


Hastert: Ready For A Role In "The Sopranos"?

I’m running behind today. We’re packing for a trip and leaving tomorrow. “Grandmother’s Land,” specifically, British Columbia. We have friends up there, it’s pretty, and it’s just far enough out of the US for me to remember—a whole lot of things.
So here’s a little article about the Speaker of The House of Representatives, Denny Hastert. Seems that he’s very very VERY upset about the FBI raiding the office of another congressman, and there’s the slightest hint that he, Hastert, might be a bit, ah, er, how-shall-I-say-this, less that honest.

Every time I see Denny Hastert, I think of the ultimate fat-cat greedy politician—you know, the kind you might see in an episode of “The Sopranos.”

And forgive me for not sticking up the URL for the story. Trust me on this one.

Hastert lashes out at Justice Dept.

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press WriterThu May 25, 1:46 PM ET

House Speaker Dennis Hastert accused the Justice Department Thursday of trying to intimidate him in retaliation for criticizing the FBI's weekend raid on a congressman's office, escalating a searing battle between the executive and legislative branches of government.

"This is one of the leaks that come out to try to, you know, intimidate people," Hastert said on WGN radio Thursday morning. "We're just not going to be intimidated on it."

Asked later Thursday whether he thought he Justice Department retaliated against him with the leak, Hastert replied: "All I'm saying is, here are the dots. People can connect any dots they want to."

"I thought it was an interesting sequence of events," he added.

The Illinois Republican, in his interview with the Chicago radio station, was responding to an ABC News report that quoted an unnamed law enforcement source as saying that he was "in the mix" of the Justice Department's investigation into influence peddling by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"We are not going to dignify or speculate about the motives of anonymous sources providing inaccurate information," said Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.

Within minutes of that report late Wednesday, the department issued the first of two denials that it was investigating Hastert. The speaker demanded a retraction from ABC News, which stood by its story. Hastert on Thursday threatened to sue the network and reporters and executives for libel and defamation.

"We will take any and all actions necessary to rectify the harm ABC has caused and to hold those at ABC responsible for their conduct," wrote Hastert's counsels, J. Randolph Evans and Stefan C. Passantino. The letter was addressed to network President David Westin and reporter Brian Ross.

"Our response to the letter is our reporting on the story," said ABC News Vice President Jeffrey Schneider.

Correspondent Brian Ross stood by his report, saying he has checked with his sources who say the story accurately represents the facts "as they know them."

"There's enough there for them (the FBI) to take a look at the speaker" and other members of Congress, Ross said in an interview.

Hastert aimed his broadsides at the Justice Department amid a swirl of recriminations on Capitol Hill, including warnings by some lawmakers of a voter backlash against members of Congress "trying to protect their own."

Hastert's aides, at the same time, were in talks with the White House about the possible transfer of material seized by the FBI during its weekend raid of the office of Rep. William Jefferson (news, bio, voting record), perhaps to the House ethics committee, according to several Republican officials.

A federal law enforcement official said no computers were taken during the search. Instead, "mirror images" were made of the contents of some computers in Jefferson's office, the official said on condition of anonymity because the items taken during the search remain under court seal

The goals of any transfer, they said, would be to deny the documents both to prosecutors and to Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat ensnared in a bribery investigation, until the legal issues surrounding the weekend search of his office are resolved. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the confidential nature of the discussions.

Historians said it was the first such search of a congressman's quarters in the more than two centuries since the first Congress convened.

The White House continued to try to keep its distance publicly, saying it acknowledged "the constitutional concerns" expressed.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman, GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, announced a hearing next week, "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?"

The Associated Press reported last November that Hastert for two years did not disclose his use of Abramoff's restaurant for a fundraiser just two weeks before he asked the Interior Department in a letter to reject a Louisiana Indian tribe's application for a casino license.

At the time, Abramoff was representing another tribe that opposed the casino. Hastert, who collected a total of $100,000 from Abramoff's and his tribal clients, blamed a paperwork oversight, filed the required disclosure and paid for the use of the restaurant.


AP Special Correspondent David Espo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.


Instilling Paranoia: It's An American Value

Here’s a serious analysis of what’s happening with the government’s program of gathering telephone information. Warning: if you start looking at the Wikipedia article on Bayes’ Theorem, you will get a headache and your eyes will cross.

This came, by the way, from my good friend George H., who I hope hasn’t looked at Bayes Theorem.

[Bayes' Theorem, ( an
important 18th-century advance in the understanding of probability, tells
how to update or revise beliefs in light of new evidence. -- On Wednesday,
Prof. Floyd Rudmin of the University of Tromso, Norway, used Bayes' Theorem
to demonstrated that "mass surveillance of an entire population cannot find
terrorists. It is a probabilistic impossibility. It cannot work."[1] --
Moreover, Rudmin argues that since "[e]veryone at NSA certainly knows Bayes'
Theorem," the only plausible reasons for the spying that NSA is doing are
either (1) paranoia, or 2) political espionage. -- Q.E.D. --


By Floyd Rudmin

** Why Does the NSA Engage in Mass Surveillance of Americans When It's
Statistically Impossible for Such Spying to Detect Terrorists? **

May 24, 2006

The Bush administration and the National Security Agency (NSA) have been
secretly monitoring the email messages and phone calls of all Americans.
They are doing this, they say, for our own good. To find terrorists. Many
people have criticized NSA's domestic spying as unlawful invasion of
privacy, as search without search warrant, as abuse of power, as misuse of
the NSA's resources, as unconstitutional, as something the Communists would
do, something very un-American.

In addition, however, mass surveillance of an entire population cannot find
terrorists. It is a probabilistic impossibility. It cannot work.

What is the probability that people are terrorists given that NSA's mass
surveillance identifies them as terrorists? If the probability is zero
(p=0.00), then they certainly are not terrorists, and NSA was wasting
resources and damaging the lives of innocent citizens. If the probability
is one (p=1.00), then they definitely are terrorists, and NSA has saved the
day. If the probability is fifty-fifty (p=0.50), that is the same as
guessing the flip of a coin. The conditional probability that people are
terrorists given that the NSA surveillance system says they are, that had
better be very near to one (p=1.00) and very far from zero (p=0.00).

The mathematics of conditional probability were figured out by the Scottish
logician Thomas Bayes. If you Google "Bayes' Theorem ", you will get more
than a million hits. Bayes' Theorem is taught in all elementary statistics
classes. Everyone at NSA certainly knows Bayes' Theorem.

To know if mass surveillance will work, Bayes' theorem requires three

1) The base-rate for terrorists, i.e. what proportion of the population are

2) The accuracy rate, i.e., the probability that real terrorists will be
identified by NSA;

3) The misidentification rate, i.e., the probability that innocent citizens
will be misidentified by NSA as terrorists.

No matter how sophisticated and super-duper are NSA's methods for
identifying terrorists, no matter how big and fast are NSA's computers,
NSA's accuracy rate will never be 100% and their misidentification rate will
never be 0%. That fact, plus the extremely low base-rate for terrorists,
means it is logically impossible for mass surveillance to be an effective
way to find te rrorists.

I will not put Bayes' computational formula here. It is available in all
elementary statistics books and is on the web should any readers be
interested. But I will compute some conditional probabilities that people
are terrorists given that NSA's system of mass surveillance identifies them
to be terrorists.

The U.S. Census shows that there are about 300 million people living in the

Suppose that there are 1,000 terrorists there as well, which is probably a
high estimate. The base-rate would be 1 terrorist per 300,000 people. In
percentages, that is .00033% which is way less than 1%. Suppose that NSA
surveillance has an accuracy rate of .40, which means that 40% of real
terrorists in the USA will be identified by NSA's monitoring of everyone's
email and phone calls. This is probably a high estimate, considering that
terrorists are doing their best to avoid detection. There is no evidence
thus far t hat NSA has been so successful at finding terrorists. And suppose
NSA's misidentification rate is .0001, which means that .01% of innocent
people will be misidentified as terrorists, at least until they are
investigated, detained, and interrogated. Note that .01% of the US
population is 30,000 people. With these suppositions, then the probability
that people are terrorists given that NSA's system of surveillance
identifies them as terrorists is only p=0.0132, which is near zero, very far
from one. Ergo, NSA's surveillance system is useless for finding

Suppose that NSA's system is more accurate than .40, let's say, .70, which
means that 70% of terrorists in the USA will be found by mass monitoring of
phone calls and email messages. Then, by Bayes' Theorem, the probability
that a person is a terrorist if targeted by NSA is still only p=0.0228,
which is near zero, far from one, and useless.

Suppose that NSA's system is really, really, really good, with an accuracy
rate of .90, and a misidentification rate of .00001, which means that only
3,000 innocent people are misidentified as terrorists. With these
suppositions, then the probability that people are terrorists given that
NSA's system of surveillance identifies them as terrorists is only p=0.2308,
which is far from one and well below flipping a coin. NSA's domestic
monitoring of everyone's email and phone calls is useless for finding

NSA knows this. Bayes' Theorem is elementary common knowledge. So, why
does NSA spy on Americans knowing it's not possible to find terrorists that
way? Mass surveillance of the entire population is logically sensible only
if there is a higher base-rate. Higher base-rates arise from two lines of
thought, neither of them very nice:

1) McCarthy-type national paranoia;

2) political espionage.

The whole NSA domestic spying program will seem to work well, will seem
logical and possible, if you are paranoid. Instead of presuming there are
1,000 terrorists in the USA, presume there are 1 million terrorists.
Americans have gone paranoid before, for example, during the McCarthyism era
of the 1950s. Imagining a million terrorists in America puts the base-rate
at .00333, and now the probability that a person is a terrorist given that
NSA's system identifies them is p=.99, which is near certainty. But only if
you are paranoid. If NSA's surveillance requires a presumption of a million
terrorists, and if in fact there are only 100 or only 10, then a lot of
innocent people are going to be misidentified and confidently mislabeled as

The ratio of real terrorists to innocent people in the prison camps of
Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Kandahar shows that the U.S. is paranoid and is
not bothered by mistaken identifications of innocent people. The rati o of
real terrorists to innocent people on Bush's no-fly lists shows that the
Bush administration is not bothered by mistaken identifications of innocent

Also, mass surveillance of the entire population is logically plausible if
NSA's domestic spying is not looking for terrorists, but looking for
something else, something that is not so rare as terrorists. For example,
the May 19 Fox News opinion poll of 900 registered voters found that 30%
dislike the Bush administration so much they want him impeached. If NSA
were monitoring email and phone calls to identify pro-impeachment people,
and if the accuracy rate were .90 and the error rate were .01, then the
probability that people are pro-impeachment given that NSA surveillance
system identified them as such, would be p=.98, which is coming close to
certainty (p_1.00). Mass surveillance by NSA of all Americans' phone calls
and emails would be very effective for dom estic political intelligence.

But finding a few terrorists by mass surveillance of the phone calls and
email messages of 300 million Americans is mathematically impossible, and
NSA certainly knows that.

--Floyd Rudmin is Professor of Social & Community Psychology at the
University of Tromsø in Norway. He can be reached at


FDA Corruption

An example of just how honest the whole food and drug industry and it’s regulators really are...

Sometimes I lose things on my desk-top. But I assume that I found it at the correct time—it ties in with the piece about corruption at the CIA. So consider this another minor update on the Ali Baba Cave and its inhabitants....

The New York Times

April 29, 2006
Ex-Head of F.D.A. Faces Criminal Inquiry

WASHINGTON, April 28 — Dr. Lester M. Crawford, the former commissioner of food and drugs, is under criminal investigation by a federal grand jury over accusations of financial improprieties and false statements to Congress, his lawyer said Friday.

The lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, would not discuss the accusations further. In a court hearing held by telephone on Thursday, she told a federal magistrate that she would instruct Dr. Crawford to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination if ordered to answer questions this week about his actions as head of the Food and Drug Administration, according to a transcript of the hearing.

Dr. Crawford did not reply to messages seeking comment, and Kathleen Quinn, an F.D.A. spokeswoman, declined to comment.


From Talking Points Memo: What's The Value of Freedom?

Josh, over at Talking Points Memo, brought up this interesting commentary on the party of the super-patriotic. (The answer to the puzzle posed by Josh is this: The purpose of keeping this country going is so people—like Senator Pat Roberts—can rake in money.
May 19, 2006 -- 12:55 PM EDT)

"I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties," Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) remarked at yesterday's Hayden confirmation hearings, "but you have no civil liberties if you are dead." This comes via Dave Weigel and nicely encapsulates at least three different pieces of horribly misguided rightingery.

First off is the sheer cowardice of it. Sure, liberal democracy is nice, but not if someone might get hurt. One might think that strong supporters of civil liberties would be willing to countenance the idea that it might be worth bearing some level of risk in order to preserve them.

Second is just this dogmatic post-9/11 insistence on acting as if human history began suddenly in 1997 or something. The United States was able to face down such threats as the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany without indefinite detentions, widespread use of torture as an interrogative technique, or all-pervasive surveillance. But a smallish group of terrorists who can't even surface publicly abroad for fear they'll be swiftly killed by the mightiest military on earth? Time to break out the document shredder and do away with that pesky constitution.

Last, there's the unargued assumption that civil rights and the rule of law are some kind of near-intolerable impediment to national security. But if you look around the world over the past hundred years or so, I think you'll see that the record of democracy is pretty strong. You don't see authoritarian regimes using their superior ability to operate in secret and conduct surveillance to run roughshod over more fastidious countries. You see liberalism prospering -- both in the sense that the core liberal countries have grown richer-and-richer and in the sense that liberal democracy has consistently spread out from its original homeland since people like it better. You see governments that can operate in total secrecy falling prey to crippling corruption. You see powers of surveillance used not to defend countries from external threats, but to defend rulers from domestic political opponents.

The U.S.S.R., after all, lost the Cold War, not because we beat them in a race to the bottom to improve national security by gutting the principles of our system, but because the principles underlying our system were actually better than the alternative. If you don't have some faith the American way of life is capable of coping with actual challenges, then what's the point in defending it?


Psych Drugs Do Better In Studies When Manufacturers Pay For the Studies

Companies that make psychiatric drugs also pay for more than half of the published studies in psychiatric journals. And, guess what, those studies show the companies’ drugs are effective in 8 out of 10 studies. If the companies don’t pay for the studies, then only about half of the studies prove the drugs are effective.

That doesn’t prove anything, of course not. It’s just...oh, circumstantial—kind of like what Mark Twain meant when he said “Some circumstantial evidence is very persuasive, such as when you find a trout in the milk.”

Does this mean the leading psychiatric journals, where these studies end up in print, are publishing fraudulent studies? I’ll leave that up to you. But, while you’re thinking about it, don't choke on what's swimming around in your glass of milk.

My initial head for this story included "No shit, Sherlock."

Psychiatric drugs fare favorably when companies pay for studies;_ylt=As.GHEZ7wS08umkLuZu3GT3fB2YD;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-
By Marilyn Elias, USA TODAYThu May 25, 7:40 AM ET

Drug companies fund a growing number of the studies in leading psychiatric journals, and drugs fare much better in these company-funded studies than in trials done independently or by competitors, researchers reported Wednesday.

About 57% of published studies were paid for by drug companies in 2002, compared with 25% in 1992, says psychiatrist Igor Galynker of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

His team looked at clinical research in four influential journals: American Journal of Psychiatry, Archives of General Psychiatry, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

In the report, released at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Toronto, reviewers did not know who paid for the studies they evaluated, Galynker says. There were favorable outcomes for a medication in about:

• Eight out of 10 studies paid for by the company that makes the drug.

• Five out of 10 studies done with no industry support.

• Three out of 10 studies done by competitors of the firm making the drug.

The findings don't prove the companies are knowingly biasing studies, says co-author Robert Kelly Jr., also with Beth Israel. The report didn't look at the evidence for bias in design of the studies.

As drug companies increasingly fund research that yields favorable outcomes for their drugs, there may be a built-in bias because journals are reluctant to publish studies with negative or inconclusive findings, Galynker says.

In October 2004, the pharmaceutical industry set up a database to allow publication of all studies, positive and negative, says Alan Goldhammer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, trade group for the drug companies. "We want to improve transparency," he says.

Because drug studies are very expensive, pharmaceutical companies fund those most likely to have a positive outcome, Goldhammer says. The firms weed out drugs that don't work and consult with the Food and Drug Administration to design trials that will pass muster with the FDA. "We're constantly trying to develop new drugs to treat mental illness," he says.

Posting a negative study on the database is voluntary. "And common sense dictates that the worse the drug does, the less likely you are to volunteer to beat yourself up publicly by sharing that," says Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen, the Washington-based consumer advocacy group.

"We're seeing a huge tilting in the education of psychiatrists toward the industry point of view on psychiatric drugs," Wolfe says. "And that point of view is, 'Prescribe my drug, it's better.' "

The government should be funding more of this research because public programs, such as Medicare, pay so much for psychiatric drugs, Wolfe says.

Copyright © 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


No Place To Live? Welcome!

On a lighter (?) note:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Factlet of the Day

There is no town, city, or state anywhere in America where an individual or family working full-time and earning the minimum wage can afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at the fair market rental rate established by HUD. Gerry Roll writing in "Understanding poverty and homelessness in America"


Let's Get A Grip About The Laws In This Country!

Perspective: what an idea! Since we live in times where the trivial is made serious and the serious is trivialized, it’s very hard to step back far enough from the scene to recognize that things are out of whack. Not just the government, but everything. Ted Rall is a columnist I don’t read often enough—especially when he reminds me of what’s really important and what isn’t.

Ted Rall: 'Cash-grabbing trivia thugs'
Date: Thursday, May 25 @ 10:08:40 EDT
Topic: Laws, the Courts and the Legal System

Why Should Anyone Respect Our Laws?

Ted Rall, Yahoo

NEW YORK--"I'd like to see [Mexican president] Vicente Fox tell his people to respect the law and come here legally," says a founder of the Minuteman border vigilante group. Like many soundbytes, it sounds reasonable unless you think about it.

And yet, as an American citizen, born to this land just a few miles from Bunker Hill and raised in our great suburban heartland of the Midwest, I cannot shy away from the obvious question: why should anyone, American or Mexican or even Lithuanian, respect our idiotic laws?

Our legal system has become so unworkable, inconsistent and obsessed with persecuting those deemed guilty of trivial infractions while letting real criminals go free, that it defies logic and common sense. Case in point: revenue-enhancement speed traps have gotten so out of control that there's a website devoted to them. The police chief of Eolia, Missouri -- one of the many notorious listings at -- denies that his $67.50 fines for driving one mph over the posted limit is excessive. "Safety--it's a big thing with me," says Jerry Sutton. "I would hate to see one child or pedestrian get hurt in any way."

The Blessed Children of Rural Missouri appear to be in good hands. Due east from Eolia is the 55 mph-to-35 mph mass ticketing hell of Curryville, where cash raised from traffic violations accounted for over half the town budget in 2004. "Traffic used to be heavy on weekends," a convenience store owner told the Associated Press, "but now drivers bypass the town."

Like most Americans, I could write a book about cops gone wild. A car tailed me for miles down a dark country road at three in the morning on Long Island. Fearing a "Silkwood" scenario, I tried to shake him by speeding up. Flashers came on; it was a police officer out to spook people into speeding. Then there was the Nevada state trooper who wrote me up for doing 100 in a 70 mph zone. I was going 80. I was so angry about the $400 fine that I flew back to central Nevada to contest the ticket. (I won.) My favorite was the Manhattan traffic cop who stood in the middle of the right lane on Madison Avenue and motioned me to turn right. You guessed it: he wrote me a ticket for making an illegal right-hand turn.

If I become president, my second act will be to issue national standards for parking laws and signs. (The first will be to nationalize the oil companies.) If a sign next to a parking meter says "1-Hour Parking," its meaning should be obvious--but currently it isn't. In New York, it indicates that you have to keep refilling the meter every hour. In Washington, however, you have to move after an hour no matter how many quarters you have. Brookline, Massachusetts has plenty of free parking spots on the street overnight, but don't be tempted to use one--tiny signs at entry points to this Boston suburb are the only warning that street parking is permitted only diurnally.

Motorists aren't the only victims of capricious law enforcement. Until recently the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission dispatched its agents to randomly test people for public drunkenness in, of all places, bars. TABC agents enforcing "Operation Last Call" arrested 1,740 people they judged to be "drunk to the point they are stumbling, clumsy or slurring words" because they might have tried to drive home drunk. Corporate CEOs are looting their companies' pension plans, plunging millions of elderly Americans into impoverished retirement. The government does nothing. Actual drunk drivers maim and kill pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists and drive away from the courthouse, their licenses unrevoked. Our politicians listen to our phone calls, authorize torture and lie to con us into war. No one holds them accountable. Kato off your neighbor's wi-fi, however, and you're in big trouble. (I define the verb "to kato," named after O.J. Simpson's famous roommate Kato Kaelin, as meaning "to take advantage of, particularly in a lackadaisical style that evokes slackerdom.")

In January, David M. Kauchak, 32, was sitting in his parked car using a laptop computer. A Winnebago County, Illinois police officer arrested Kauchak for "piggybacking" off someone's unsecured wireless connection to access the Internet. "We just want to get the word out that it is a crime," Assistant State's Attorney Tom Wartowski told the Rockford Register-Star. "We are prosecuting it, and people need to take precautions." Computer users everywhere rest easier with the knowledge that the nefarious Kauchak has been apprehended, fined $250 and sentenced to a year's court supervision for his misdeed.

It's one thing to request, as have the Minuteman project and our Republican Congress, that the millions of Mexicans who cross our southern border each year learn to speak English. Demanding that they respect our ridiculous laws, enforced by insipid enforcement agents of greedy municipalities, is asking too much.

Ted Rall is the editor of "Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists," a new anthology of webcartoons.

Source: Yahoo

The URL for this story is:


Sexual Abuse: A Systemic Problem

Certainly there’s a wave of sexual abuse out there in the world. The indigenous people of Australia are currently in the spotlight because of a news-story revealing the extent of sex abuse in their communities. It exists everywhere, however. White, yellow, red, brown, black—it seems like sex with children is almost a universal outlet under certain conditions. And, under certain definitions: what constitutes abuse in one society may be considered normal in another.

But what we commonly identify as sexual abuse certainly happens more often in cultures where the normal social fabric is broken and where people anesthetize their consciences with alcohol or drugs. Indigenous communities around the world, shattered by globalization, colonialization, racism, and poverty are riddled with inappropriate sexuality. They’re riddled with all kinds of behaviors that are not healthy. What’s usually recommended by the authorities are stricter laws and heavier punishments. That never has worked well. Here’s an analysis from a left-wing web site:

World Socialist Web Site

The crisis in Australia’s Aboriginal communities
How right-wing ideologues stand reality on its head
By Nick Beams
25 May 2006

Back to screen version | Send this link by email | Email the author

Since the revelations of shocking sexual abuse of Aboriginal children were broadcast on the ABC program “Lateline” last week, the airwaves and newspaper pages have been filled with comments and articles demanding strong measures.

But, like the initial program, not one of them has even attempted to provide an explanation for the underlying social causes. Such an examination is routinely dismissed as “throwing money at the problem,” supporting a “failed welfare state” or covering up for the perpetrators.

While the prescriptions differ in their details—some want more police and tougher jail sentences, others suggest the army be called in—they share a common ideological platform. The fault lies not with Australian capitalist society and its more than 200-year oppression of the indigenous population, but rather with “social welfare” and “Aboriginal society” itself.

This common platform was openly set out in an editorial published in the Australian last weekend. Denouncing “blather about abstract rights” which “betrays Aboriginal women and children,” it claimed that conditions in remote communities were “the outcome of a generation of social engineering that experimented with indigenous lives.” Not only were social welfare policies to blame, the causes of the “appalling circumstances”, it insisted, went deeper.

“They are also a result of the rhetoric of political opportunists who have used Aboriginal disadvantage as a stick to beat settler society. It started in the 1960s when the push for equal pay for Aboriginal stockmen in remote Australia cost too many of them their jobs—and pushed their families on to welfare. There was no case then, just as there is none now, for race-based discrimination in what people are paid for equally productive work. But the fact remains that while equal pay was a just reform, it helped start the spiral into welfare dependency in the bush.”

Here is one of the clearest examples of the inversion of reality practised by right-wing ideologues whenever they pronounce on social problems. The modus operandi is always the same: blame the victim for the social ills produced by the private profit system—which they vigorously defend.

Three years ago, when Keith Windschuttle produced the first volume of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History—his cover-up of the systematic murder of the indigenous population that accompanied colonisation and the establishment of capitalist property relations—his work was hailed by pro-market advocates across the media. Like him, they recognised that the debate over Aboriginal history went far beyond its ostensible subject to “the character of the nation and ... the calibre of the civilisation Britain brought to these shores in 1788”. They were particularly attracted to Windschuttle’s assertion that Aboriginal people were “active agents in their own demise” who could not “reform their ways”, precisely because they recognised it had far-reaching political implications for the present day.

Just as Aboriginal people had failed to “reform their ways” when confronted with British colonisation, so all those whose rights and living conditions have been the target of present-day governments, and who are increasingly unable to cope, should likewise be blamed.

Applying this method, the Australian locates the beginning of the current downward spiral in the stockmen’s demand for equal pay in the 1960s. Because they had the temerity to fight for proper wages, instead of the handouts of tobacco, sugar and flour that formed the basis of the prevailing racist semi-slave “wages system”, they should be held responsible for the social disaster that exists today.

In reality, the real causes are to be found elsewhere.

Faced, from 1968, with the legal requirement to pay award wages, the pastoral companies responded by introducing mechanisation to replace the labour they now considered to be too expensive. Motor bikes and aircraft replaced the stockmen, while roadtrains took the place of drovers.

This had a major impact on thousands of Aborigines in remote communities—arguably the most far-reaching change in their circumstances since colonisation. The removal of their previous livelihood accelerated the shift to the towns, or rather to the camps on the outskirts of the towns. But neither the camps nor the towns offered alternative employment to Aboriginal workers. It was only a matter of time before the lack of jobs, coupled with the absence of decent housing, health care, education and other facilities meant that the so-called “welfare” system created a social catastrophe.

In other words, the crisis confronting remote Aboriginal communities results from the refusal of successive Australian governments—both Labor and Liberal, state and federal—to provide even the minimum necessities of life. The daily tragedies currently being sensationalised throughout the media are the outcome, not of “Aboriginal culture”, as the Australian and others would have it, but of the culture of poverty that has been imposed over decades.

Far more insightful and truthful than the Australian editorial was a letter published in the same edition of the newspaper from Ernabella community worker Kerry Shegog.

“I live and work for a remote Aboriginal community,” Shegog wrote. “In considering the debate about social dysfunction in communities such as mine, I ask you to consider how you would cope living like the people here have to live.

“Take at least 10 people from your extended family—children, the frail elderly, relations with addictions or mental health problems—and then imagine them living with you and your family in a small three-bedroomed house. Imagine that maybe only one, or two, if you are extremely lucky, has some sort of part-time paid work. Imagine that there is no cinema, no restaurant, no shopping centre—no form of family entertainment to allow you to get out of your crowded house. It is 150 km of dangerous, car-destroying dirt road to the sealed road and another 300 km to a town with such facilities. Fuel costs $1.70 per litre.

“Imagine this for a year, two years, for your lifetime. Imagine the impact on your children: how can they do any school homework, get a good night’s sleep or get your undivided attention, even for a moment? How would you personally cope with the noise, the mess, the unending chaos of such a household?”

Even the Northern Territory crown prosecutor, Nanette Rogers, whose report on “Lateline” sparked the present furore, pointed to some of the underlying causes of the “malaise” within Aboriginal communities. People, she said, were “overwhelmed time and again by a fresh new tragedy. It might be suicide, it might be the fatal car accident, it might be the premature death of the 20-year-old from renal heart disease because of diet, failure to thrive, lots of grog, petrol or whatever. All of those tragedies kind of overtake a community.”

In the face of such staggering problems the Australian insists that “more money”—for basic social facilities, including decent housing—is not the answer and that “sexual assaults in remote settlements will not be stopped by bigger public service budgets.” Of course, such strictures do not apply when it comes to finding funds for the allocation of more police, harsher prison terms or the deployment of the army.

Reviewing the lessons of history—from the murder and dispossession that accompanied colonisation to the era of the “stolen generations”, when children were forcibly separated from their parents, through to the spate of deaths in custody in more recent times, the late Aboriginal worker and Socialist Equality Party member Yabu Bilyana would constantly warn that without the fight for a socialist program, Aboriginal people faced the prospect of a future more terrible than their past. That warning is, already, being tragically vindicated.

And it has a much wider application. The demands for police-military intervention and harsher punishments to deal with the crisis in remote Aboriginal communities is the surest sign that the days when the capitalist order could meet social problems with reforms, however limited, have long gone. The repressive measures being prepared for impoverished Aboriginal communities will be utilised elsewhere, as the social ills generated by the current social order continue to escalate.

Copyright 1998-2006
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Racism in Congress and Media Again Revealed

Molly Ivens has the rare skill to not only hit the target, but dead center, alomost every time. That America has benefitted from immigration should be obvious to the population. Particularly since the majority of Americans are descended from immigrants. That recent waves of immigration has brought in people Boldwho speak languages we now need to know appears to have escaped the attention of our craven politicians and pundits. (Check at the end of Ivens piece for a blurb on Lou Dobbs and how his own anti-immigrant crusade is willing to use material distributed by a racist organization)


Molly Ivins: 'Yes, I Am Actually Calling Them Racist'
Posted on May 22, 2006

AUSTIN, Texas—Last week, Bush visited Yuma, Ariz., to tour a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border by Border Patrol buggy. Maybe Jorge was doing a little measuring for the $3.2-million-a-mile fence the Senate recently approved, which I guarantee will be really helpful.

Are they insane? As Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano observes, “Show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.”

Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate have constructively declared English the national language. That’ll fix everything. Every foreigner at our borders will stop and say: “Gosh, ma foi! English is the national language here. Good thing to know. I’ll begin speaking it immediately.”

Yes sir, you want a solution, call a Republican.

Of course, I am enchanted to discover that the entire project will be turned over to Raytheon, General Dynamics and other military contractors—think Halliburton with noncompetitive bids, anyone? Because this outsourcing stuff is just working like a charm. Another Republican solution.

Naturally, in Texas, National Laboratory for Bad Government, we do it all first and worst. We started with this dandy plan to outsource applications and enrollment for social service programs such as food stamps and Medicaid. In theory, we were to save millions—though I never could understand it myself. You see, Texas has one of the cheapest state governments on the continent, but when we hire outside contractors, they expect to make a profit. Add profit, add cost. Oh well.

So the state hired this firm based in Bermuda on an $899-million, five-year contract. So far, the health and human services commissioner has been forced to ask 1,000 state employees who were scheduled to be laid off by the end of the year not to leave after all—and to offer each of them a $1,800 bonus to stay. Oops.

Among other errors, the private consortium mistakenly dropped 6,000 children from the children’s health insurance program. The state comptroller (who is running for governor against the incumbent, Goodhair Perry) says the program is “a perfect storm of wasted dollars, reduced access to services and profiteering at the expense of Texas taxpayers.”

With a record like that, of course, Republicans want more outsourcing. Ted Koppel suggests in The New York Times that we outsource war: “Blackwater and other leading security companies are seriously proposing to officials at very high levels of the government that their private forces could relieve a number of the burdens now being shouldered (or not) by American troops. ... The Pentagon ... is nonetheless struggling to come to terms with what it now calls ‘the long war.’ There is every expectation that the fight against global terrorism and the most extreme forms of Islamic fundamentalism will last for many years. This is a war that will not necessarily require aircraft carriers, strategic bombers, fighter jets or heavily armored tanks. It will certainly not enable the United States to exploit its advantages in nuclear weapons. It is a war, indeed, that favors the highly mobile and adaptive fighting skills of the former Special Forces soldiers and other ex-commandos ....”

“Will”? Hell! Did and does. This is a war that is being fought with the wrong tools—and, in Iraq, at the wrong time, in the wrong place and against the wrong enemy.

It never did call for tanks, jets or carriers—just a combination of good detectives and good intelligence. In other words, smart, clever people with language skills. All of which we have fully available to us because of ... immigration. Lebanese, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, Pakistanis and Indonesians have all become Americans, and in so many cases we got the bravest of the brave—those who fought Saddam, the ayatollah and Assad, Lebanese who saw their country torn apart by religious factions. These are Americans who know the culture and language of the Middle East and other Islamic countries, and who care deeply about how it all comes out.

By all means, reform immigration with this deep obeisance to the Republican right-wing nut faction and their open contempt for “foreigners.” But do not pretend for one minute that it is not a craven political bow to racism (yes, racism—I am actually calling them racists, although they pretend it hurts their feelings. Try reading their websites and see for yourself), and to nativism, to xenophobia and to Know-Nothingism. Just don’t forget what you are throwing away in the process.

To find out more about Molly Ivins and see works by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor, Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman.
Copyright © 2006 Truthdig, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

May 23, 2006
CNN Cites White Supremacist Group As Source
(posted May 23 7:45 PM ET)

Today on "Lou Dobbs Tonight," CNN ran a graphic sourced to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group deemed to have a "white supremacy" ideology according to the Anti-Defamation League.

During a piece about illegal immigrants in Utah, reporter Casey Wian said, "Utah is also part of the territory some militant Latino activists refer to as Aztlan, the portion of the southwest United States they claim rightfully belongs to Mexico."

As he said that, CNN ran the following map graphic: (snipped)

As you can see in the right hand corner, the source of the map is the Council of Conservative Citizens.

CNN should apologize to its viewers and reprimand those involved in the report.


Congressional Ox Suddenly Gored; Crisis, Showdown Predicted

Here’s something I enjoyed reading... What’s the old saying about things depend on who’s ox is getting gored? It seems that once the long and heavy arm of the law comes close to home, the House of “Representatives” is suddenly very concerned about constitutional guarantees.

From today’s Progress Report:

"The FBI's raid on a congressman's office is rippling through Capitol Hill, with majority Republicans in the House complaining to President Bush and predicting a constitutional showdown in the Supreme Court."
-- Associated Press, 5/24/06, on congressional outrage at executive branch overreach


"President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution."
-- Boston Globe, 4/30/06, a story that failed to create similar outrage among congressional leaders


America's Immigration Policies Admired By Noted German Leader

Here’s an interesting citation on America’s immigration scene. We’ve once before attracted the attention of world leaders by our policies.

I get by with a little help from my friends: Thanks, Jim!

Read On:
Hitler admired the United States’ strict immigration quotas, seeing them as favoring Nordic-Germanic “races” and serving as a significant—albeit late—attempt to curb the immigration of undesirables: Mediterranean and Slavic peoples, Blacks, Asians and Jews. Of the latter, Hitler lamented what he saw as the Jewish control of U.S. economics and society. Judaism, he said, threatened the racial purity of the sizeable Germanic stock to be found in the New World. Still, the relatively recent imposition of immigration quotas by the U.S. government provided a model for the world of how to control the “racial mixing” he so desperately feared and loathed. As proof that “in every mingling of Aryan blood with that of lower peoples the result was the end of the cultured people,” he pointed to North America, “whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower colored peoples [and thus] shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominantly Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale. By this one example, we can clearly and distinctly recognize the effect of racial mixture. The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent...rose to be master of the continent; [such a person] will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood.”

Nazi Fascism
Hitler and "Amerika"
by Michael Luick-Thrams


America's Immigration Policies Admired By Noted German Leader

Here’s an interesting citation on America’s immigration scene. We’ve once before attracted the attention of world leaders by our policies.

I get by with a little help from my friends: Thanks, Jim!

Read On:
Hitler admired the United States’ strict immigration quotas, seeing them as favoring Nordic-Germanic “races” and serving as a significant—albeit late—attempt to curb the immigration of undesirables: Mediterranean and Slavic peoples, Blacks, Asians and Jews. Of the latter, Hitler lamented what he saw as the Jewish control of U.S. economics and society. Judaism, he said, threatened the racial purity of the sizeable Germanic stock to be found in the New World. Still, the relatively recent imposition of immigration quotas by the U.S. government provided a model for the world of how to control the “racial mixing” he so desperately feared and loathed. As proof that “in every mingling of Aryan blood with that of lower peoples the result was the end of the cultured people,” he pointed to North America, “whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower colored peoples [and thus] shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominantly Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale. By this one example, we can clearly and distinctly recognize the effect of racial mixture. The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent...rose to be master of the continent; [such a person] will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood.”

Nazi Fascism
Hitler and "Amerika"
by Michael Luick-Thrams


Christian Fascists For Bush

Militant Christianity has been with us for a long and bloody time. There're two conflicting messages in the Gospels: Jesus as a warrior and Jesus as a peacemaker. The peacemaker image, I believe, came from Paul trying to convince the Romans that Jesus's followers really were a decent bunch who could be beneficial to the empire.

But the idea of armed preachers has never gone away; it comes back like the tide. Vengenance, punishment, coercion: the churches have relied on force for a long time. Now, of course, we're seeing it in support for Bush, and in support for the Crusade.

Elaine F. sent me this article and I'm grateful to her.

May 23, 2006

Meet the New Christian Conquistadors Ron Luce's Holy Warriors

"Do you care more about the pigs around you or God?" BattleCry leader Ron Luce asked the crowd of more than 17,000 youth gathered at Wachovia Spectrum Stadium in Philadelphia on Friday, May 12. No, this wasn't a metaphor. After reading a passage from Luke 15 that mentions pigs, he actually had a bunch of those big, oinking, pink, farm animals on stage with him! Get it, you either get with Luce's hateful, hyperpatriotic, woman-bashing, racist god, or you're a ... pig?

And it became clear during the BattleCry rally, all the talk of battles, warriors and war is not metaphor either.

White Man's Burden

Early on the second day, a tribal drumbeat filled the stadium and a voice boomed out "the most violent people in human history."

Grainy images appeared on the stadium screens of indigenous Ecuadorians running and throwing spears. Proof of their "barbarism"? Never mind that their land was destroyed by oil development and their way of life undermined, these "savages" had killed five missionaries who came to destroy their belief systems decades ago. One of the supposed killers is brought on stage. He's been "civilized" by the Bible and calls on the youth to sign up for mission trips to go and convert others like him.

News flash to Luce's audience: These indigenous people, whose very existence is hanging by a thread-threatened by the encroachment of the "modern world" of exploitation, racism, environmental destruction and cultural genocide-are at least a hundred million people short of being "the most violent people in human history," even if they did what he accused them of.

The reality is that over a hundred million indigenous people were killed by the Europeans who followed Columbus to the "new world." And let's not forget that the genocide against Native Peoples was blessed by people carrying Ron Luce's Bible.

Finally, after being programmed with these racist lies, Luce's flock flooded down to the floor of the stadium to sign up for missions this summer-to Africa, Latin America, the urban U.S., Australia, the Mideast and beyond. As they went, Ron Luce offered odd encouragement, "You guys are freaks of a whole different breed ... You guys are a bunch of wild animals. Man!"

Ignorance and Patriarchy

Next up on the agenda-woman bashing. If you think the world needs an alternative to the worst misogynist heavy metal or hip-hop, but you still want to see women degraded, insulted, and dehumanized, Luce has got just the thing for you.

Lakita Wright, self-proclaimed "sexpert" who has spoken to nations, Congress, and more than half a million young people this past year, stepped up to preach the "naked truth" (get it?) about abstinence and purity. Her specialty seemed to be shamelessly promoting racist and sexist stereotypes that only a Black woman trying to outdo Bill Cosby might be able to get away with.

She began with a parable that portrays "Lies" as female and "Truth" as male, then launched an attack on all the established truths about safe sex and resurrected all the oldest stigmas against those, especially women, who would engage in sex outside patriarchal marriages.

She reserved special derision for the "stupid" young women whose lives are disrupted because they have a baby. "Don't blame him [the baby]. It's your fault. You should have zipped it up. Locked it down. Clank. Clank."

She drew chuckles from many men when she "slipped" and called women "flea-males," saying, "Did I say that? Well, if you lie down with dogs"

Wright led a call-and-response about hundreds of sexually transmitted diseases and listed, with great drama, all the pain and disfigurement they can cause. Then, while claiming to care about these diseases, she went on to assail one thing that is proven to prevent them: "Condoms don't work."

Wright bemoaned the fact that judges in the U.S. today aren't required to study the Mosaic books of the Bible. These are the parts of the Bible that celebrate taking your enemies as slaves, killing their babies, and forcing women to be concubines (sex slaves), traded and controlled as possessions, and subject to the most horrific of abuses.

Reality check: Condoms save lives. Preaching "abstinence" as a way to prevent STDs kills people. Luce and his klan don't give a fuck about young people's lives-this war on condoms is driven by their literalist Biblical message: death by stoning for those who engage in sex outside of wedlock.

Holy War-For Real

After what amounted to a celebration of genocide against Native Americans, and a pep rally for death by STDs, things got really gory.

A featured speaker, Franklin Graham, who delivered George Bush's first inaugural prayer, was introduced. He implied that HIV/AIDS is a punishment from God. "We get outside of marriage and there are consequences."

He went on to assert that God sees marriage as a "relation between a man and a woman. Not a man and a man or a woman and a woman." This drew him his loudest applause of the day, never mind that the Bible celebrates many instances of marriage between one man and many women. Maybe next time I go to one of Luce's conventions, I'll bring a bunch of bumper stickers that have a stick figure of a man plus stick figures of 1,000 women with an equals sign and then the word "Marriage." People can put them on their cars to promote a model of marriage in the Bible-where King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (and for some reason God never gave him AIDS as a punishment).

The "heart" of Graham's speech was a call for holy war. He preached about the "battle for souls of men and women from North to South, East to West, over the entire earth." There is, he declared, "No way to God but through Jesus Christ."

Now, I actually don't believe that religion is the root cause of war-that's more driven by economic and political forces. But how long must we put up with a world where people are whipped up to kill people because-as Christian fascist general Jerry Boykin (whose troops got their asses kicked in Somalia) said: My god is bigger than your god.

Graham told the biblical story of Daniel "taming the Babylonians." After celebrating the U.S. troops who are killing in Iraq right now, he preached that there is "no difference between the Iraqis today and Babylon 1,000 years ago." In the Bible Babylon is the epitome of evil and decadence. All manner of bloodlust and plunder against it is not just condoned but celebrated. As Psalm 137:9 spells out, even the babies are to be dashed to death against the rocks!

While calling on the youth present to engage in this "battle for the souls of men," he exhorts them, "No souls can be saved without the shedding of blood. Blood must be shed!"

Then, a group of Navy SEALs are projected on the large screen above the stadium as they make their way from backstage. Dressed in camouflage, carrying automatic weapons, kicking down doors and firing blanks into empty rooms along their way, they looked like the house-to-house raids and indiscriminate killing seen in rare footage out of Iraq.

Fireworks exploded and flames billowed as Ron Luce greeted, bragging that all of these men have been involved in real battles. They are part of FORCE Ministries, which conducts Bible studies at military bases around the world and is made up of current and retired SEALs, law enforcement, and other military who preach the Gospel. Among those on stage, one is a SEAL just back from Afghanistan and another was a member of a police SWAT team. All of them are trained to kill and do so believing God is sanctioning them.

One of the SEALs told about boot camp and being forced to surrender his entire will to the demands of his instructor. Luce stepped in to tell the audience, "That is your youth pastor. He's going to make you a SEAL for Christ." Of course, the great Commander of this religious army is God who issues his foot-soldiers armor-"a shield of faith, a belt of truth, and boots of preparedness"-as well as "offensive weapons" like the "sword of the spirit" and the "word of God."

This merging of "God's Army" and the U.S. military returns full circle to the event's opening when a letter of greeting and blessings from George W. Bush was read. After that, a minister had led thousands to bow their heads and thank the lord for giving them George Bush, who coincidentally is the U.S.'s Commander-in-Chief.

The Two Faces of Christian Fascism

BattleCry keeps this bloodthirsty holy war madness in the closet. You won't find it on their website and you won't hear it in their major media appearances. For all his on-stage bluster, and his stacks of books laced with militarism, when Ron Luce debated me on the O'Reilly Factor, he sounded more like a wilting flower, "Well, there are young people all over America and they are realizing that they are caught in the middle of this culture war They are saying, you know what? We want our voices to be heard. We love the lord and we're not mean."

How many of the moms and dads and youth gravitating to the Christian fascists looking for life with a purpose have any idea that the agenda of their leaders is as gruesome, bloodthirsty, and horrible as the hell myth that they are being scared into submission with.

But whether or not you realize what you are signing onto, when you make your pact with Luce and his bunch, you're not only signing onto a brain-deadening fantasy that robs you of your ability to understand and change the world, you end up being led to fight-and shed blood-in a "holy war" for Bush and all he concentrates.

Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution Newspaper and sits on the Advisory Board of The World Can't Wait Drive Out the Bush Regime. Click here to watch Taylor debate Ron Luce on the O'Reilly Factor. She can be reached at:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Pat Robertson Holds World's Record For Leg-Press!

And here’s the latest from Pastor Pat. His network claims he can leg-press 2000 lbs because he drinks a special-formula protein drink.

N.B. The record leg-press is actually in the vicinity of 600 pounds.

I have not invented this story. The Christian Broadcasting Network

Pat Robust Living
Pat Robertson's Age-Defying Shake

Did you know that Pat Robertson can leg-press 2000 pounds! How does he do it?

Where does Pat find the time and energy to host a daily, national TV show, head a world-wide ministry, develop visionary scholars, while traveling the globe as a statesman?

One of Pat's secrets to keeping his energy high and his vitality soaring is his age-defying protein shake. Pat developed a delicious, refreshing shake, filled with energy-producing nutrients.

Discover what kinds of natural ingredients make up Pat's protein shake by registering for your FREE booklet today!

download Pat's shakeDownload Pat's Shake recipe (Black & White PDF -- 135K)
Download Pat's Shake recipe (Color PDF -- 1022K )

* Requires Community Channel registration prior to download

Disclaimer: Consult with your physician before starting this or any new health regimen or supplement program, especially if you have allergies to any of the listed or related products, or are under the care of a physician or other medical professional, or have any other health problems. No specific health benefit is implied or promised from this recipe.


© Copyright 2006. The Christian Broadcasting Network.


History Lesson

Here’s a citation from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia on an aspect of American history that isn’t talked about too much. One hundred and Sixty years ago, immigration stirred up something called “nativism” —today we call it xenophobia, the fear and loathing of outsiders. Back then it was aimed at the Irish, mostly. It got brutal. The KKK is related. Know-nothing-ism is still around. Just listen to Lou Dobbs or Bill O'Reilly.

Know-Nothing movement

Know-Nothing movement, in U.S. history. The increasing rate of immigration in the 1840s encouraged nativism. In Eastern cities where Roman Catholic immigrants especially had concentrated and were welcomed by the Democrats, local nativistic societies were formed to combat “foreign” influences and to uphold the “American” view. The American Republican party, formed (1843) in New York, spread into neighboring states as the Native American party, which became a national party at its Philadelphia convention in 1845. The movement was temporarily eclipsed by the Mexican War and the debates over slavery. When the slavery issue was temporarily quieted by the Compromise of 1850 nativism again came to the fore. Many secret orders grew up, of which the Order of United Americans and the Order of the Star-spangled Banner came to be the most important. These organizations baffled political managers of the older parties, since efforts to learn something of the leaders or designs of the movement were futile; all their inquiries of supposed members were met with a statement to the effect that they knew nothing. Hence members were called Know-Nothings, although there was never a political organization bearing the name. Efforts were concentrated on electing only native-born Americans to office and on agitating for a 25-year residence qualification for citizenship. Growing rapidly, the Know-Nothings allied themselves with the group of Whigs who followed Millard Fillmore and almost captured New York state in the 1854 election, while they did sweep the polls in Massachusetts and Delaware and had local successes in other states. The disintegration of the Whig party aided them in their strides toward national influence. In 1854 they looked toward extension into the South, and in the following year they openly assumed the name American party and cast aside much of their characteristic secrecy. In June, 1855, a crisis developed; at a meeting of the national council in Philadelphia, Southerners seized control and adopted a resolution calling for the maintenance of slavery. The slavery issue, after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, again came to the front, and this time the slavery issue split apart the Know-Nothing movement as it had the Whigs. The antislavery men went into the newly organized Republican party. Millard Fillmore, the American party candidate for President in 1856, polled a small vote and won only the state of Maryland. The national strength of the Know-Nothing movement thus was broken.

See R. A. Billington, The Protestant Crusade, 1800–1860 (1938, repr. 1964); W. D. Overdyke, The Know-Nothing Party in the South (1950, repr. 1968); C. Beals, Brass-Knuckle Crusade (1960).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2006, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

© 2000–2005 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease


Those Wonderful Euro-Americans: The Only Ones Good Enough For This Great Nation, etc., etc..

A friend sent me this; I’m grateful, because it summarizes an aspect of American culture that’s overlooked by politicians and the media: America, as we know it, is made up of immigrants who behaved in a manner that was less than polite to the original inhabitants.

To listen to popular American history, one gets the idea that America was simply wasted on it's indigenous population. The Euro-Americans were the only people who ever appreciated this country. If you listen to the right wing, Euro-Americans still are the only ones—who deserve it. All others need not apply, because they aren't good enough, or maybe not blood-thirsty enough...
Anglos once were the immigrants
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Whether illegal immigration issues stir brilliant debates or cries of fear and intolerance, one historical fact is always overlooked: America's own holocaust, carried out by (guess who?) illegal immigrants from (guess where?) Europe -- uninvited foreigners who came to these shores and took everything they could.
That's not getting much mainstream attention. I'm taking off my reader advocate hat to offer some personal thoughts about this matter out of love for my mixed Cherokee/Scots-Irish heritage.
Somehow the deaths of a guesstimated 11 million Native Americans at the hands of attacking, manipulative immigrants during a 400-year span seems worth bearing in mind as Americans respond to alarms about porous borders, jeopardized healthcare and threats to justice and quality of life posed by "illegals."
Americans can say, surely not with pride, that our country knows from centuries of personal experience how unchecked immigration devastates life and why it's an issue that deserves the best of our thinking and empathy.
Our history brims over with examples -- brutal, bloody instances of inhuman immigrant actions that are far removed from the basic aspirations so often associated these days with "illegals."
Most "illegals" might dream of a better life, but it's doubtful that, like the earlier immigrants and the perpetual forces they set into motion, they're plotting to seize others' property, kill babies and earn bounties based on body parts brought back from raids.
Consider that, in the late 1630s, the British wiped out every man, woman and child of the powerful Pequot tribe of southern New England in retaliation related to conflicts arising out of fur-trade struggles. A few years later, Dutch authorities in charge of the settlement of "New Netherland" on the island of Manhattan carried out unspeakable actions against a local tribe they feared.
Russell Shorto's national bestseller, The Island at the Center of the World, examines Dutch Manhattan and includes a pamphlet account of one nighttime raid by Dutch soldiers against that local tribe: "[I]nfants were torn from their mothers' breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents."
More graphic detail is included, and as Shorto noted, the account probably involved some exaggeration, but there's no reason to doubt that the bloody raid occurred and that soldiers were as lavishly praised as documentation says.
Immigrant authorities were just beginning in their efforts to obliterate "the savages," as American history chronicles. One tiny detail includes legislation approved in Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England in the 1700s that authorized bounty payment for scalps or heads of Indians, young and old.
This is not to detract from the good -- friendships, sympathies, exchanges of knowledge and philosophies -- that flowed between Indians and foreigners, but the relationship's bottom line is what we have today: a shameful record of attempted extermination, abuse and destruction that accompanied virtually every aspect of the immigrants' taking of North America.
Some of the best-known names in American history are soiled with prejudice and arrogance aimed at Native Americans.
As lovely a patriot as Thomas Jefferson, who spent months with the Iroquois learning about their Great Law of Peace and later writing their philosophy into his draft of the Constitution, was convinced that the best solution in dealing with Native Americans was to drive all of them west of the Mississippi.
That earthy war hero-president, Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson, is one of the most despicable Indian-haters on record -- and not just because he made no bones about his racism and championed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Even today, some Native Americans hate the sight of a $20 bill because it bears Jackson's image.
The 19th century in particular was dark with accounts of foreign intruders' invasions of Indian country, especially in the Southeast and West, and the carnage that resulted.
Among the overwhelming number of accounts of that horrible period are the killings of legendary Oglala warrior Crazy Horse and famed Hunkpapa Lakota chief and spiritual leader Sitting Bull.
To make long stories short:
In 1877, Crazy Horse was fatally bayoneted from behind while struggling in custody at Fort Robinson, Neb.
In 1890, Sitting Bull was dragged from his cabin on the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota by Lakota policemen appointed by white authorities. One of the officers killed the defenseless chief with a shot to the head.
A few weeks later, the St. Louis Republic in Missouri editorialized:
"So when Sitting Bull was surprised and overpowered by the agents of the Great Father, he set his greasy, stolid face into the expression it always took when he was most overcome by the delusion that he was born a native American from native American ancestry. Disarmed and defenceless [sic] he sat in the saddle in which he had been put as a preliminary to taking him to prison, and without a change of countenance urged his handful of greasy followers to die free. This idiotic proceeding he kept up until he was shot out of the saddle.
"So died Sitting Bull. So was removed one of the last obstacles in the path of progress. He will now make excellent manure for the crops, which will grow over him when his reservation is civilized."
Sitting Bull might have been one of the last obstacles to Anglo settlement of the West, but his killing wasn't the last abuse of Native Americans by any means.
Abuses of property and rights continue to this day, and they spring from the same destructive immigrant practices such as greed and elitism that were brought here by foreigners long ago, which help to explain why illegal immigration is of special, if grim, interest among some Indians.
JoKay Dowell, a media consultant and Quapaw-Peoria-Cherokee activist based in Park Hill, Okla., has been closely following developments related to illegal immigration. She views the matter from a Native American perspective.
"The immigrant nation that is the U.S. has a short memory," she said, "and is in denial of their own historical facts: they are descendants of immigrants who came here and took, either by force, coercion or dishonesty, lands and resources and banned the religions, languages and cultures of the original indigenous peoples of this continent.
"Now those descendants of Uncle Sam's immigrant children fear the karma of their ancestor's actions. But those they fear do not come to take, destroy and claim. They have always been here and always will be."
These are thoughts that cross some of our minds when we hear rhetoric about the so-called invasion of illegal immigrants (many of whom are -- gasp -- Indians) and calls to protect "our" land. If we smile in response, it's not so much out of agreement. We see a payback coming home to roost.

David House is senior editor/reader advocate for the Star-Telegram. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.


Top Signs Of A Police State

Here’s a synopsis of what the administration’s been up to in the way of closing the vise on American freedoms. There’s so much, I know, that just keeps dripping on our heads like the old water-torture. Well, it’s more like having bricks dropped on your head day after day, brick after brick. After a while you don’t feel them anymore. You don’t feel much of anything. It’s like things have always been this way; there’s no memory of anything to compare it to.

“Signing statements” that effectively are King’s Xs for Bush. He signs a piece of legislation, but his fingers are crossed.

Voting machines are so rigged they make slot machines look honest. The manufacturers of the voting machines are Bush’s buddies.

The internet is reported to be a hot-bed of child predators and other fiends. Ask any cop, though, or child psychologist, and they’ll tell you the vast majority of sexual predators are either within the family or within the family’s circle of friends. But that’s scary: it’s much better to pretend the family is so sacred and blessed nothing could church or the scouts or...

...and on it goes. The war the wiretapping the CIA shakeup....

Allan Uthman: 'Top ten signs of the impending U.S. Police State'
Date: Sunday, May 21 @ 09:37:26 EDT
Topic: The Constitution & Civil Liberties

Hey America! Freedom is just around the corner...behind you

Allan Uthman, The Buffalo Beast

The Internet Clampdown

One saving grace of alternative media in this age of unfettered corporate conglomeration has been the internet. While the masses are spoon-fed predigested news on TV and in mainstream print publications, the truth-seeking individual still has access to a broad array of investigative reporting and political opinion via the world-wide web. Of course, it was only a matter of time before the government moved to patch up this crack in the sky.

Attempts to regulate and filter internet content are intensifying lately, coming both from telecommunications corporations (who are gearing up to pass legislation transferring ownership and regulation of the internet to themselves), and the Pentagon (which issued an "Information Operations Roadmap" in 2003, signed by Donald Rumsfeld, which outlines tactics such as network attacks and acknowledges, without suggesting a remedy, that US propaganda planted in other countries has easily found its way to Americans via the internet).

One obvious tactic clearing the way for stifling regulation of internet content is the growing media frenzy over child pornography and "internet predators," which will surely lead to legislation that by far exceeds in its purview what is needed to fight such threats.

"The Long War"

This little piece of clumsy marketing died off quickly, but it gave away what many already suspected: the War on Terror will never end, nor is it meant to end. It is designed to be perpetual. As with the War on Drugs, it outlines a goal that can never be fully attained--as long as there are pissed off people and explosives. The Long War will eternally justify what are ostensibly temporary measures: suspension of civil liberties, military expansion, domestic spying, massive deficit spending and the like. This short-lived moniker told us all, "get used to it. Things aren't going to change any time soon."


Did anyone really think this was going to be temporary? Yes, this disgusting power grab gives the government the right to sneak into your house, look through all your stuff and not tell you about it for weeks on a rubber stamp warrant. Yes, they can look at your medical records and library selections. Yes, they can pass along any information they find without probable cause for purposes of prosecution. No, they're not going to take it back, ever.

Prison camps

This last January the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root nearly $400 million to build detention centers in the United States, for the purpose of unspecified "new programs." Of course, the obvious first guess would be that these new programs might involve rounding up Muslims or political dissenters--I mean, obviously detention facilities are there to hold somebody. I wish I had more to tell you about this, but it's, you know...secret.

Touchscreen Voting Machines

Despite clear, copious evidence that these nefarious contraptions are built to be tampered with, they continue to spread and dominate the voting landscape, thanks to Bush's "Help America Vote Act," the exploitation of corrupt elections officials, and the general public's enduring cluelessness.

In Utah, Emery County Elections Director Bruce Funk witnessed security testing by an outside firm on Diebold voting machines which showed them to be a security risk. But his warnings fell on deaf ears. Instead Diebold attorneys were flown to Emery County on the governor's airplane to squelch the story. Funk was fired. In Florida, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho discovered an alarming security flaw in their Diebold system at the end of last year. Rather than fix the flaw, Diebold refused to fulfill its contract. Both of the other two touchscreen voting machine vendors, Sequoia and ES&S, now refuse to do business with Sancho, who is required by HAVA to implement a touchscreen system and will be sued by his own state if he doesn't. Diebold is said to be pressuring for Sancho's ouster before it will resume servicing the county.

Stories like these and much worse abound, and yet TV news outlets have done less coverage of the new era of elections fraud than even 9/11 conspiracy theories. This is possibly the most important story of this century, but nobody seems to give a damn. As long as this issue is ignored, real American democracy will remain an illusion. The midterm elections will be an interesting test of the public's continuing gullibility about voting integrity, especially if the Democrats don't win substantial gains, as they almost surely will if everything is kosher.

Bush just suggested that his brother Jeb would make a good president. We really need to fix this problem soon.

Signing Statements

Bush has famously never vetoed a bill. This is because he prefers to simply nullify laws he doesn't like with "signing statements." Bush has issued over 700 such statements, twice as many as all previous presidents combined. A few examples of recently passed laws and their corresponding dismissals, courtesy of the Boston Globe:

Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush's signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

Dec. 30: When requested, scientific information "prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay."

Bush's signing statement: The president can tell researchers to withhold any information from Congress if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national security, or the workings of the executive branch.

Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed in Colombia at 800.

Bush's signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law "as advisory in nature."

Essentially, this administration is bypassing the judiciary and deciding for itself whether laws are constitutional or not. Somehow, I don't see the new Supreme Court lineup having much of a problem with that, though. So no matter what laws congress passes, Bush will simply choose to ignore the ones he doesn't care for. It's much quieter than a veto, and can't be overridden by a two-thirds majority. It's also totally absurd.

Warrantless Wiretapping:

Amazingly, the GOP sees this issue as a plus for them. How can this be? What are you, stupid? You find out the government is listening to the phone calls of US citizens, without even the weakest of judicial oversight and you think that's okay? Come on--if you know anything about history, you know that no government can be trusted to handle something like this responsibly. One day they're listening for Osama, and the next they're listening in on Howard Dean.

Think about it: this administration hates unauthorized leaks. With no judicial oversight, why on earth wouldn't they eavesdrop on, say, Seymour Hersh, to figure out who's spilling the beans? It's a no-brainer. Speaking of which, it bears repeating: terrorists already knew we would try to spy on them. They don't care if we have a warrant or not. But you should.

"Free Speech Zones"

I know it's old news, but...come on, are they fucking serious?

High-ranking Whistleblowers:

Army Generals. Top-level CIA officials. NSA operatives. White House cabinet members. These are the kind of people that Republicans fantasize about being, and whose judgment they usually respect. But for some reason, when these people resign in protest and criticize the Bush administration en masse, they are cast as traitorous, anti-American publicity hounds. Ridiculous. The fact is, when people who kill, spy and deceive for a living tell you that the White House has gone too far, you had damn well better pay attention. We all know most of these people are staunch Republicans. If the entire military except for the two guys the Pentagon put in front of the press wants Rumsfeld out, why on earth wouldn't you listen?

The CIA Shakeup

Was Porter Goss fired because he was resisting the efforts of Rumsfeld or Negroponte? No. These appointments all come from the same guys, and they wouldn't be nominated if they weren't on board all the way. Goss was probably canned so abruptly due to a scandal involving a crooked defense contractor, his hand-picked third-in-command, the Watergate hotel and some (no doubt spectacular) hookers.

If Bush's nominee for CIA chief, Air Force General Michael Hayden, is confirmed, that will put every spy program in Washington under military control. Hayden, who oversaw the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and is clearly down with the program. That program? To weaken and dismantle or at least neuter the CIA. Despite its best efforts to blame the CIA for "intelligence errors" leading to the Iraq war, the picture has clearly emerged--through extensive CIA leaks--that the White House's analysis of Saddam's destructive capacity was not shared by the Agency. This has proved to be a real pain in the ass for Bush and the gang.

Who'd have thought that career spooks would have moral qualms about deceiving the American people? And what is a president to do about it? Simple: make the critical agents leave, and fill their slots with Bush/Cheney loyalists. Then again, why not simply replace the entire organization? That is essentially what both Rumsfeld at the DoD and newly minted Director of National Intelligence John are doing--they want to move intelligence analysis into the hands of people that they can control, so the next time they lie about an "imminent threat" nobody's going to tell. And the press is applauding the move as a "necessary reform."

Remember the good old days, when the CIA were the bad guys?

(c) Copyright 2006, The Beast.

Source: Buffalo Beast

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Military As Police: Authoritarian Wet Dream

One of the recurrent themes of the Bush-Cheney junta has been the encroachment of the military into domestic life; they wiretap, spy, and stalk those who dissent from the government’s official lie-lines. The current plan is to use the National Guard as cops along the Mexico-US border (if not along our border with Canada, as well).

Something bad seems to have happened to Bush after his walk-away from the Air Guard. Perhaps it’s his conscience—assuming he has one, or it’s his love of the idea of being Commander in Chief. He’s enraptured of military solutions. Maybe he never outgrew the idea of killing people he didn’t like, a common enough childhood fantasy. Or just shooting things or blowing them up. There’s something violent that keeps pushing through his down-home folksiness—you can see it in Dick Cheney, too, only it’s much more overt (and the Veep-in-charge doesn’t bother with any kind of folksiness whatsoever).

They’re authoritarians. Authoritarians like to boss people around. If people resist being bossed around, authoritarians up the ante. The immigrants coming up from Mexico won’t stop, so force is stepped-up. Dissenters won’t give in to the administration’s horse manure, so the spying and wire-tapping is stepped-up. Troops along the border is perfectly logical to the people in power. Hell, troops patrolling city streets is perfectly logical to them. Even shoot to kill...

Joshua Holland: 'One step closer to a Police State'
Date: Saturday, May 20 @ 08:43:14 EDT
Topic: The Constitution & Civil Liberties

Placing National Guard troops on the border could be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. And that's just fine with the Bush administration.

Joshua Holland, t r u t h o u t

President Bush's plan to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, widely seen as a political gambit, is coming under fire from both left and right.

It's likely that the move is a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, a law established after the Civil War that prohibits the use of U.S. troops for domestic law enforcement. Passed in 1878 to prohibit federal troops from running elections in the former confederate states, it is considered a bulwark against the development of a police state.

A central issue of Bush's plan is that the troops would be under federal authority. One of the exceptions built into the Posse Comitatus Act is that troops may be deployed to support law enforcement agencies, but with the exception of insurrections and riots, nuclear attack or interdiction of drug smuggling (when working directly with law enforcement agencies), they must be under the authority of a state governor.

The ACLU sent a letter to the administration warning that turning immigration "into another military operation is not the answer," adding that it "violates the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act." The libertarian Cato Institute agreed, writing that "the same training that makes U.S. soldiers outstanding warriors makes them extremely dangerous as cops." Larry Korb, an assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, said that the military "is trained to vaporize, not Mirandize."

In 1997, a Marine corporal deployed in the border area shot and killed Esequiel Hernandez, an 18-year-old goat herder. The incident led to a congressional review that criticized the Justice Department's handling of the case and ended the Marines' involvement in policing the border.

But while some conservatives are joining civil liberties groups in expressing concern over the deployment, the Republican leadership is reportedly pursuing another course: rolling back the protections of Posse Comitatus once and for all.

Ray McGovern, a 27-year veteran of the CIA who maintains close connections in the national security community, reports that, according to "a credible source on the Hill," the Senate "is moving to amend [or] repeal the Posse Comitatus Act, ostensibly to allow greater options for National Guard troops on the border. The move would remove National Guardsmen "from governors' authority" and place them "under the president."

The move comes in the context of an administration that has consistently expressed disdain for Posse Comitatus, and the constraint it puts on the use of troops in domestic actions. As James Bovard reported for AlterNet in 2004:

From its support of the Total Information Awareness surveillance vacuum cleaner, to its use of Pentagon spy planes during the Washington-area sniper shootings in late 2002, to its attempt to empower military officials to seize Americans' financial and other private information without a warrant, the Bush administration gives grave cause for concern about the growing role of the armed forces in our daily life.

As far back as 2002, the president issued a national security plan calling for a "review" of Posse Comitatus. Gen. Ralph Eberhart, who headed the Northern Command said that he "welcomed" changes in the law if necessary. "My view has been that Posse Comitatus will constantly be under review as we mature this command," he told the New York Times.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the calls for using troops in federal disaster relief grew. In September of last year, then-Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita called the Posse Comitatus Act "very archaic," and said that it hampered disaster response. Bush echoed that sentiment two weeks later, saying he wanted "a robust discussion about the best way for the federal government, in certain extreme circumstances, to be able to rally assets for the good of the people." A week later, Bush called for the possible use of federal troops to respond to a bird flu outbreak, saying "I think the president ought to have all options on the table."

But as William Arkin, military analyst for the Washington Post noted, there's no reason in the world to modify or repeal Posse Comitatus to respond to disasters:

Nothing in law prevents the president from employing the military in a Katrina-like emergency if state and local government really breaks down. In fact, the 130-year-old Posse Comitatus Act more symbolizes the military's subordination to civil authority than it actually restricts what the military can do.

Arkin warned that "Donald Rumsfeld and his ever-growing industry of military complexes ... seem to be intentionally badmouthing Posse Comitatus ... in order to earn themselves greater operational flexibility in the United States."

He also reported on a plan developed under Rumsfeld that predicted "a scenario in which the Defense Department would have to take 'the lead' from ... civil agencies, and the states, that is, to act without civil authority." He added: "I think we call that martial law."

And the military is not leaving domestic surveillance up to the NSA. Last month, Robert Dreyfus, writing in Rolling Stone detailed how Bush, "operating in secret" soon after Sept. 11, established the Counterintelligence Field Activity agency (CIFA), and "in a move that received little public attention," charged it "with consolidating all Pentagon intelligence."

Last year, a commission appointed by Bush urged that CIFA be empowered to collect and analyze intelligence "both inside and outside the United States." Dreyfus says that the Pentagon "is systematically gathering and analyzing intelligence on American citizens at home" and cites several examples of the new agency spying on antiwar protesters.

After it was revealed that a new intelligence unit in the California National Guard was spying on the Raging Grannies, a group that organized a Mother's Day protest against the war, an outraged California state senator, Joe Dunn, called for the Guard's intelligence unit to be dismantled, saying: "Our fear is that this was part of a federally sponsored effort to set up domestic surveillance programs in a way that would circumvent the Posse Comitatus Act."

The danger is that a president who even conservatives concede has consolidated more power in the White House than any administration since Lincoln's, and who has little faith in the rest of the government will lean more heavily on the military than he already does. Add to that this administration's well-known contempt for dissent, and there's a real potential for slipping into a full-blown police state.

Source: t r u t h o u t

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