Wednesday, June 27, 2012


 The Supreme Court threw out most of Arizona's immigration law.  The court said no state may usurp the federal government's authority in areas like immigration.  However, it left intact a provision of the law which allows police in Arizona, and any other state, to require anyone they stop, who they think might be in this country illegally, to show proof they are here legally.  The police can hold or detain anyone lacking proper identification.

     There are three parts to this provision.  First, police must have a legitimate reason to pull someone over or stop them on the street (probable cause).  Second, they must suspect the person is here illegally and, finally, they can demand proof they are legally in this country.  Sounds pretty straightforward.  There is no recipe here for mischief or civil liberties violations, is there?

      The police can pull you over or stop you on the street with impunity.  They can claim you made an illegal turn; rolled through a stop sign; have an extinguished tail light or numerous other excuses true or false.  On the street, the ever popular, "...he was acting suspicious", is usually enough to allow police to stop anyone they wish.  We know in Arizona, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been using these tactics for years to harass and arrest anyone he suspects is illegally in this country.  Probable cause will not offer you much safety from him or other law enforcement.

     After someone has been pulled over, if police suspect they are here illegally, they can demand proof they are legal.  (This, by the way, is guilty until proven innocent, but let's not quibble about small constitutional heresies)  What would cause a cop to think someone was an illegal immigrant?  Just imagine a stop and the driver is blond, blue-eyed and speaks English well.  This Canadian citizen, who has overstayed his visa or snuck into this country, has little if anything to fear from local police.  Ironically, for once, African Americans also have little to fear from the police on this issue.  What if the cop pulls over a pick-up truck with four males inside?  The back is filled with gardening tools.  The driver and passengers are dressed in tank tops and dirty jeans and the driver speaks with a Spanish accent.  What do you think are the chances the officer will decide to ask for proof of residency?  You know I'm right.  Just imagine what instructions the cops would be given...anyone they suspect of being here illegally...imagine what the demographic breakdown of these stops would be?  (In New York, over 80% of the stop and frisks are minorities.)  Here, however, is when this gets into the land of Franz Kafka.

     The police officer asks for proof of legal residence or he will arrest you and take you to the station and put you in a cell.  You try your driver's license, but that doesn't prove a thing.  You could have gotten that anywhere.  Now, you are taken "downtown".  Once at the station, you could have family come and vouch for you, but they might be lying.  Your employer could stand up for you, but how would he or she know if you are legal?  Someone could bring a birth certificate, but how would the police know it’s real or is really you?  There is no national database of live births in this country, so a birth certificate offers little protection.  Maybe you have a passport.  Surely an American passport would be enough proof.  However, the U.S. State Department is not going to let every police department in the country, or even in Arizona, have access to its passport data base, so there is no way to check on its validity.  Meanwhile, you have now spent hours in a drunk tank trying to prove you are legal to no avail.

     Wait, wait, it gets even better.  Suppose the cops are right and you are here illegally.  What then?  Right now, if you are under 30 with no criminal record and you were brought here illegally before you were 16, the U.S. government has no interest in holding you or deporting you.  In other words, even if they catch an illegal immigrant, there is a strong probability the federal government won't want to do anything about it and the Supreme Court has ruled there is nothing Arizona, or any state, can do about it either.

    This Rube Goldberg situation I have just described has the potential to shred the constitution.  American's freedom will be taken away with little to show for it.  Hispanics will be the natural target for most stops because they fit the profile.  Documents to prove legitimacy are all suspect or the police will not have access to databases to confirm or reject someone's claim.  Right now the Justice Department is suing Arpaio for civil rights violations he committed when he targeted Hispanics exactly the way this law envisions.

     What strikes me as odd about this whole process is the justices upheld it but said they would watch to see if it is abused.  Huh?  What kind of ruling is that?  Furthermore, regressives who usually champion smaller, less intrusive government, should be outraged at this license to go fish given to police departments across this country.  They are quiet, of course, because they do not believe the law will ever be applied to them, so they have nothing to worry about.  You think they would have learned by now.

     "Show us your papers laws", are unconstitutional violations of the 4th amendment and they play into the nativist and racist stereotypes which most cops believe.  They violate the spirit of a free country and they will result in people getting caught up in them who never thought it could happen to them.  Just ask that Volkswagen executive in Alabama.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Every year, the president gives a speech on the state of the union.  His most famous line is, "...and I come before you tonight to report the state of the union is...(insert any word-strong, robust, thriving etc) The fourth of July seems like a good time to report on the state of our independence.

     Currently on hold, because of a federal judge, is a law passed recently which would allow the President to declare any American a security threat and give the government the right to hold them for an indefinite period of time without charging them with any crime.  It goes without saying the right to habeas corpus would go out the window.  The FISA laws, (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), have been weakened calling for less judicial oversight and allowing the government to surveil, watch, spy or keep tabs on any Americans they wish.  (Lest you protest this is only for "bad" guys, let me remind you the FBI has admitted to abusing national security letters and other parts of the Patriot Act, spying on groups because of their political affiliations, using local law enforcement to gather information for them and even the city of New York sent undercover cops into mosques in New Jersey based on the need to spy on certain Americans who might represent a threat)  The majority of Americans are in favor of the use of unmanned drones to spy on suspected terrorists, or to control the border, but are not willing to let them be used to give out speeding tickets on the nation's highways.  (tens of thousands are killed each year on our roads due to excessive speed, but no one has been killed by a terrorist since I don't understand it either.)
     There are thousands of laws, federal laws, which can result in a sentence in federal prison, and yet you do not even need to know you had broken the law to be held accountable.  These strict liability laws give total discretion to the government to decide whether to prosecute you or not.  Federal prosecutors can use these laws to intimidate or crush dissent and the rising voices of protest.  In a fascist state, when everything is illegal, the option to prosecute or not is the ultimate power and gives the government unlimited discretion to control anyone who might be a problem, even if they never intended to break the law to begin with and didn't even know any laws had been broken.

     I once heard a very bright man, Regis McKenna, give a speech in which he contended all freedom is economic.  On the fourth of July, what is the state of our economic freedom?   The average middle class family lost 40% of its wealth between 2007 and 2011.  At the same time, the top 1% saw their wealth increase.  While Americans struggle to find jobs and obtain credit, and hold on to their homes, the government has given trillions of tax dollars to the nation's banks to prop them up.  Banks are making record profits even as they try to prevent new regulations.  (J.P. Morgan Chase bet and lost over $5 billion and maybe more, something which might have been prevented by the Volker Rule which they, and their industry still fight.)

Americans who might move to take advantage of job opportunities elsewhere in the country cannot because they owe more on their homes than the home is worth and government has utterly failed to help them out.  Students are discovering loan payments, due upon graduation, have cost them a great deal of freedom.  It becomes virtually impossible to take community-based or non-profit jobs and they are forced to seek and accept jobs which pay enough to cover their financial obligations.  Lawyers who might opt to work in local legal aid offices; doctors who might be willing to work in communal clinics; business majors who might wish to start new businesses in under-served neighborhoods; liberal arts majors who might want to teach in inner cities or provide services to the elderly or infirmed, are precluded from these and so many other options due to the mountain of debt they compiled to achieve a college education.  (except of course for the children of the 1% who have the freedom to choose any jobs they wish since they have no debt to worry about)

     Americans once believed we were a society where anyone could start poor and achieve great success.  This Horatio Alger illusion is less true in 2012 than perhaps at any time in modern history.  Numerous reports show the economic status of your parents is a direct predictor of what your economic success will achieve.  Other studies show whatever you have achieved economically by your 30th birthday, is as far as you will progress for the rest of your life.  In terms of social mobility, it is a well-known fact that people living in Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, Australia and other nations, are way ahead of us when it comes to the ability to move from lower to upper classes.

     On this 4th of July we can certainly say we are free to cast our vote as we see fit.  However, our choices are determined by the amount of money a given candidate can raise.  This year we are seeing the fruits of the Supreme Court's Citizen's United decision, and they are changing electoral politics completely.  A handful of billionaires are pouring money into campaigns and races for candidates who promise to expand the opportunities for the 1% at the expense of everyone else.  Recently, the Koch brothers held a secret meeting in San Diego.  The buy-in just to attend was $100,000.  Their goal is to raise $395 million to elect politicians who share their desire to destroy the New Deal and Great Society and return this country to the glory of the Gilded Age.  (Lest you have drunk the Kool Aid and think Citizen's United allows unions to spend as much as they wish to do the same thing, the money the Koch brothers alone will raise in San Diego is more than every union in the nation contributed to campaigns in the last four years and when you add in Karl Rove's Crossroads Super PAC, and others, they will outspend unions as much as 10-1)  Even if their is someone you would like to support, and cast your vote, the economics of politics says this person has little chance to get nominated and even less chance to get elected.

     On July 4, 2012, the state of our independence is teetering at best and in rapid retreat at worst.  Our civil liberties have been weakened to the point where they no longer protect us from an invasive and oppressive government (regressives take note).  Our economic future is cloudy at best if you are poor or in the middle class, but glorious if you are in the 1%.  The standard avenues for; hard work; perseverance; are pricing more and more Americans out of their range or are irrelevant, and our political system is now rigged so the 1% can control and elect those candidates who will continue their hegemony over the levers of power.  (Just look at Romney's proposals to cut taxes on the rich further, increase military spending and cut entitlements and ask who will benefit the most?)

     Lest you think there is no hope, let me offer some words of encouragement on this Independence Day.  The 1% will only continue to win if voting numbers keep declining.  If all eligible voters voted, their power and money would be far less effective.  There is an alternative press chronicling everything I have written about here and you need to access it and then get involved.  There are fights to be fought and won, but you can't do it from the sidelines.  Pick a side and jump in with both feet.  If you believe you can't make a difference...they win.  If you get dispirited and give up...they win.  If you allow yourself to feel powerless...they win.  Warren Buffet says there is a class war going on in this country and his class is winning.  On this Independence Day, join the war...fight for this nation's future...never give up and find others who agree with you.  Once it's gone, our freedom will never return.  HAPPY 4TH OF JULY...I MISS YOU.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Here are two new Lion of the Left blogs:

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops is kicking off a 14-day national campaign to encourage at least 1 million Catholics to write to Congress and lobby the Obama administration.  (labeled a Fortnight of Freedom)  This will require the Church to expand large amounts of energy and treasure.  All of this effort, according to the bishops, is to influence current public policy.  Are the bishops concerned about the over 40 million children in this nation who live under the poverty line and face the danger of going hungry each day?  Were they moved to take action by stories of millions of Americans losing their homes to soulless bankers?  Perhaps all of this effort is being made to challenge regressive budgets which call for cutting food stamps, Headstart, Medicare, Medicaid and shred the social safety net millions of poor and working poor Americans depend upon?  No such luck.  These solons of Christianity are mobilizing their troops to prevent women, who work in their various institutions, from getting access to contraception through their health care benefits.

     I have spent some time now, wracking my brain to think of another such church undertaking, which did not have something to do with sex.  I failed.  I remember them ordering parish priests to rail against homosexuality and call on Catholics to vote against propositions to expand the right to marry to the gay community.  A number of anti-abortion campaigns sprang to mind.  Catholic Charities across the country lobbied and fought to keep from having to place adopted children with gay parents, but I couldn't come up with a 14 day, nation-wide, coordinated lobbying effort for a subject not associated with sex, reproduction or gender orientation.

     It isn't like the bishops haven't had plenty of opportunities to make their voices heard.  They declared the Iraq war to be immoral.  Can you imagine what an impact it would have had if they sponsored a nation-wide campaign asking young Catholics not to volunteer for the military or asked Catholics in the military to conscientiously object to fighting in Iraq?  As President Bush put together his bank bailout, what if the bishops had lobbied Catholics to pressure Washington to provide help for average Americans?  What if they had supported a national back to work campaign built along the lines of the W.P.A. or C.C.C. of the Roosevelt era?  It's possible the bishops could have highlighted the dangerous economic gap between the 1% and the rest of us, or come out strongly to condemn states like Arizona for dividing this nation between suspect Hispanics and good white folk.  As Mitt Romney and the regressives beat the drums of war towards Iran and Syria, the bishops could rise up as a voice of peace and love of one's enemies.  Or maybe, just maybe, they could gather their collective outrage at the amount of debt students have to bear to acquire an education...debt which will crush their ability to own a home, support a family, or choose to work for the betterment of society rather than just for a paycheck.

     Over 80% of American Catholics disagree with the bishops on issues of morality and church teaching.  The bishops are on the wrong side of contraception, same-sex marriage, women priests and numerous other issues.  As the bishops continue to do damage control over priests who abused minors, the Vatican is clamping down on American nuns because they refuse to march in lock-step with Rome's obsession with sex and their abandonment of other pressing social issues.  Ironically, in the last week, a small group of nuns have embarked on a bus tour of the mid-west to call attention to the attacks on the poor and needy by regressives in Washington.  It goes without saying, they do this with no help from the bishops.

     During the Watergate scandal, the phrase, "...follow the money" became popularized.  It applies here too.  The bishops won't take on Wall Street or the private equity industry...they won't criticize the banks or hedge funds...they will remain silent while Goldman Sachs grow bigger and more corrupt because they want their money.  Rich, regressive Catholics have a disproportionate influence over the bishops and Rome because of the riches they can bestow on a Church, which does their bidding.  Once, in the early 80's, the American bishops issued a paper on the economy and criticized the gap between the haves and have-nots...questioned the morality of free market capitalism and called for reforms.  They were attacked mercilessly by rich regressive Catholics led by former Reagan Treasury Secretary William Simon.  The threat was clear.  Shut-up or risk losing millions in donations...they shut-up.

     In a recent column, the former managing editor of the New York Times, William Keller, suggested unhappy Catholics should leave the Church and form their own congregations separate from Rome.  He could not be more wrong.  Catholics who disagree with the bishops and Rome need to raise their voices in a prophetic wail calling on the Church to return to the message of Matthew 25.  The collection baskets need to return empty on Sundays until these bishops return the Church to a place, which again walks in Jesus’ footsteps, and stand for justice and a fundamental option for the poor.  This will not happen if people of good will leave.  It will only happen when they refuse to accept the apostates currently running the American church.

     My children see a church obsessed with their sex lives and oblivious to the real moral issues facing this nation.  They see a church which panders to its most regressive followers while ignoring their sins and prejudices.  A church silent in the face of war and destruction, but agitated when matters of the bedroom are at stake.  They see a sexist institution which attacks women religious while protecting male predations.  They want moral direction in their lives, but watch as the church is reduced to a bunch of old men fixated on issues for which they know little and whose credibility is in total disarray.

     Jesus once compared the Pharisees to "whitened sepulchers" bright on the outside and dead on the inside.  What would he say today about Fourteen Days of Freedom?


Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave what his handlers characterized as a "major" speech on immigration policy to a group of Hispanic elected officials.  The issue is huge.  The speech...not so much.

     In the Republican primaries, Romney sounded like a member of the Know Nothing Party.  Arizona's stop and frisk anti-immigrant law, "...was a model for the nation."  Romney promised to veto the Dream Act; legislation creating a path to citizenship for young people championed by President Obama.  At the height of his jingoistic ravings, Romney suggested making America so inhospitable to immigrants, especially Hispanic immigrants, they would deport themselves.

     (Enter the Etch-A-Sketch)  In front of the Hispanic audience, Romney didn't mention Arizona once.  He didn't mention the Dream Act or his promised veto, nor would he say if he would reverse Obama's executive order allowing young illegal immigrants to stay in this country.  He did not mention laws in Alabama and other states making it a crime to rent to an illegal immigrant or laws intended to reduce Hispanic voting by requiring identification...all of which he supports.  Instead, he said as president he would seek "common ground" on immigration with the Congress.  He would increase the number of green cards and make it easier for immigrants who have needed skills to stay in the country.  If there are 11.1 million illegal immigrants in this country, Romney's "major" speech addressed .1 of them.

     Romney ignored completely the 11 million illegal immigrants already here.  He ignored the industries they fuel and the problems they face.  He made no mention of the children of these immigrants, born in this country and thus American citizens, who watch as their parents are deported under Republican immigration proposals.  Romney failed to address the healthcare and educational needs of this population.  In the primaries, Romney attacked Texas governor Rick Perry when he advocated in-state tuition breaks and assistance to the children of illegal immigrants.  He clearly opposed any such move.  In his "major" speech on immigration, he offered platitudes and bromides while appearing to continue to reinforce the impression he will say anything to anyone to get elected.

     Romney promised if elected he will pass a comprehensive immigration reform package.  He fails to mention President Bush tried the same thing only to be shot down by his own party including opposition from Romney.  Romney's speech reminded me of a stand-up routine Will Durst used to do.  He invented the standard political stump speech, which anyone could give no matter what they believed.  "...Crime, bad; babies and puppies good...hunger, bad; food good...sunshine good, storms bad;"  Romney's foray into the subject of immigration was mainly pabulum offered in as inexact and unparticular ways as possible.

     The one message Romney tried to hammer home was Obama takes the votes of Hispanics for granted.  Obama promised to pass immigration reform, but he failed.  It is tribute to the disdain Romney holds for his audience, and Hispanics in general, that he thinks they don't know it is the Republicans in Congress, in Arizona, in Alabama who stoke the fires of intolerance and nativism and who refused to support Obama's Dream Act or any other proposals he offered.  They understand the commitment of Republicans to pander to a white male base.  They bristle at accounts Romney might name Sen. Marco Rubio as his running mate to attract the Hispanic vote.  Rubio, who is Cuban, is a privileged and pampered member of an immigrant class given special treatment by this country.  Any Cuban who can touch the sandy shore of an American beach is given automatic asylum, and eventually, citizenship.  This is a privilege no other Hispanic enjoys.  It is an insult to Hispanic voters to think just because his name is Rubio; they will vote for Romney and ignore Romney's anti- immigrant positions.

     The answer to the 11.1 million illegal immigrants in this country is to set up a system where by all that qualify can become citizens.  Regressives scream "amnesty" and are horrified we would reward illegal behavior, but we have done it in the past to good affect and should do it again.  The nations of Western Europe and the industrialized world, face a demographic time bomb.  They aren't having enough children and their populations are aging rapidly.  America does not face this problem as severely because of the age of the immigrants and because they are producing allot of children.  They are a net benefit to this country.  Billions of tax dollars are spent each year trying to control illegal immigration.  Half of the institution where I reside would be empty if everyone who was here for illegally entering the country was released.  The truth is, what reduced the numbers of illegal immigrants coming into this country was a slow down in the economy, and a lack of jobs...not law enforcement.  Amnesty would save billions, keep families intact and provide for new generations of workers and citizens and it would unite rather than continue to divide us.  It is a win/win for everyone except the "pure" Americans who control the Republican Party.

     Romney's "major" speech turned out to be cotton candy.  It smelled sweet but was full of air.  At least he showed he still flips with the best of floppers.  For a presidential candidate who wants to be taken seriously on issues of import, his speech wasn't worth the teleprompter it was projected on.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


He proposed Don't Ask, Don't Tell as a solution to a problem and the result was thousands of gay soldiers thrown out of the military.  He blew a chance to reform healthcare with classic hubris and bad judgment.  He decimated the radio and TV industries and was the godfather of Hanbaugh and the rest.  He signed NAFTA and GATT (North American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) into law, both of which turned out to be a disaster for American workers, the environment and the international labor movement.  He eliminated the last firewall between rapacious bankers and their depositor's money when he signed the repeal of Glass/Stiegel.  He reformed welfare into welfare for work, ignoring critics who asked him what would happen to welfare recipients if the jobs dried up.  His foray into Somalia was a disaster and his sexual scandal guaranteed the election of George Bush.  In 2008, his race-tinged comments, in the Democratic presidential primary campaign, doomed his wife's candidacy among many African Americans and independents.  I wish Bill Clinton could have tried to get the Democratic nomination for a third term just so I could have voted against him and publically deny him any more of a role in government.  Now, I watch him undercut and undermine and throw grenades into the Obama camp and I am not at all surprised.

     As Obama draws contrasts between himself and Mitt Romney, by highlighting Romney's record at Bain Capital and his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, Clinton publically defends Romney's time at Bain as a record of great competence and he defends the private equity industry, which has destroyed far more jobs than, have ever been created.  What's he doing?  Why is her doing his best to dilute Obama's message and why would he go public with his disagreements even if they were genuine?

     Right now there is no clear heir to Obama in the Democratic ranks.  If Obama is re-elected, he cannot run in 2016 and if he is defeated this year, someone new has to run against Romney in 2016.  There is no obvious choice.  Biden would be too old.  There are no Senators or members of the House with a national standing and following.  New York governor Andrew Cuomo doesn't seem temper mentally ready for the big stage, and California governor Jerry Brown wouldn't stand a chance.  The one person who might have the heft is Hillary Clinton.  If Obama is re-elected, Clinton will probably step down as Secretary of State, allowing her to lay the groundwork for a possible run.  By 2016, the nation will have had eight years of a Democratic administration and it will be harder for her to ask for 4 more years.  However, if Obama is defeated...Romney takes over and takes a meat axe to the social safety net while starting new wars and taking care of his 1% fellow-travelers. A Hillary candidacy could make a strong argument for change and change is the most powerful ammunition to use against an incumbent.

     Bill Clinton knows all of this and he also knows he has to tread lightly so as not to alienate the Democratic base like he did in 2008.  He is a smart politician, and he knows a few words here, a comment there, can subtly undercut Obama's message.  He knows the election will be decided on a razor-thin margin and all he has to do is nudge it a little.

     Is it all about Hillary?   No.  Clinton is also in the 1% and he depends on them to contribute funds to his charitable foundation.  His ego is so outsized he was willing to sacrifice his presidency for romp with a White House intern.  His ability to travel the world righting wrongs, and playing white knight on his trusted stead, is an addiction he cannot shake.  He needs Wall Street.  He needs Bain Capital and the private equity moguls.  He is one of them.  His economic team as President was taken right out of companies like Goldman Sachs and he was quite comfortable deregulating them and then sitting back and watching them lead us into a great depression.  He cannot afford to be seen biting the hand that feeds him and there is the added benefit of getting revenge on the man who crushed his wife and put her in a position of serving at his pleasure.  Clinton would love her to get another shot at the White House.

     With friends like Bill Clinton, Obama doesn't need enemies.  There is no explanation for the former president's comments except for pure spite, venality and self-preservation.  Obama cannot afford to dress him down in public.  When advisers confronted Clinton, he gave his version of, "...What?  Oh me bad."

     There isn't anything Obama can do but grin and bear it.  However, disappointing the man from Hope would be a delicious benefit to an Obama victory.

P.S.  You don't think Newark mayor Corey Booker's defense of private equity has anything to do with the $100 million from Facebook do you?  Democrats can be their own worst enemies.


According to a Reuter's reporter, one of Mitt Romney's minions wrote an article for a German newspaper attacking President Obama's prescriptions for the European debt crisis.  The author proclaimed Obama's economic policies haven't worked in this country, so they will be a disaster for Europe, and particularly for Germany.  It isn't an accident Romney had this put into a German newspaper.  Germany is under pressure from Obama and other world leaders, to support the creation of Eurobonds, which would spread the responsibility for the sovereign debt threat across the European Union, and possibly bring an end to the crisis spreading from Greece to Spain and beyond.  Romney is willing to undercut Obama overseas in order to prevent the situation from improving.  An improving economy in Europe helps the U.S. economy, and would help Obama's chances of being re-elected.

     What Romney is doing is what any private equity firm would do.  Tear down when necessary to make a profit no matter what the cost to the average person involved.  It is also an extension of a promise Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made in 2009 when he said his agenda in the Senate for the next four years was to deny a second term to the President.

     President Obama does not have much leverage when it comes to convincing Germany and others to shoulder the debt burden of countries like Greece, which was fiscally profligate, or Spain, whose bankers sunk it just like Romney, Jaime Diamond and Goldman Sachs did to this country's economy.  However, whatever leverage or bully pulpit he might have to use is compromised by actions like Romney's.  Romney is telling Angela Merkel, and others, if he is elected president he will not pressure them...he will not press them...he will not ask them to soak up some of the debt and allow some of these nations to start to grow again.  Romney's clear message is the same one, which defines the private equity market...every man for himself and survival of the fittest.  Now imagine this same philosophy applied to this nation's economic woes.

     Merkel is facing huge resistance in her own country to expanding aid or setting up Eurobonds, or supporting other proposals which look like a bailout, and asks the German people to extend a lifeline to keep the European Union together and the Euro as their common currency.  She is going to have to eventually support, as will other European Union nations, some kind of federal umbrella connecting all these nations’ economies, banks and markets.  Obama is trying to help by making the case about how many jobs are at stake and the real consequences of failure and Romney cuts his legs out from under him at every turn.

     This November, the contrast between the two choices for president could not be any starker.  (I know, I know, there really is no choice between Obama and Romney.  It's the same argument Naderites made in 2000 about Bush and Gore.  Would anyone like to guess how history would have been different with Al Gore as president?)

     Romney says he wants government spending to be 20% of G.D.P.  He says, at the same time, he wants to increase military spending, cut taxes for the rich further and increase corporate tax breaks.  He endorses the budget put forth by Congressman Paul Ryan, which would end Medicare as we know it and privatize Social Security among other proposals.  (Anyone want to stick their Social Security in the stock market?)  Romney wants to "Bain-ize" the American way of life by pitting Americans against each other...gutting the social safety net...increasing the wealth of the 1%...add to the power of Wall Street (remember he would repeal Dodd/Frank among other promises and decimate the Consumer Protection Agency), and he would make the only place still hiring be the military. (Should I mention he has already proclaimed a willingness to go to war with Iran and would arm Syrian rebels even if they turn out to be Al Qaida and use the American military in the middle of another Muslim civil war?)

     I wish I were engaging in hyperbole and histrionics.  I wish I were lying about Romney for purely political purposes.  I wish this was just a partisan screed, but everything I have stated is taken from the public record of Romney positions and actions up until now.
     A recent study claims the key to a healthy democratic nation occurs with the belief everyone has a chance to succeed and a legal and market system which protects the aspirations of workers against the avarice of the capitalists.  This equality of opportunity is drying up in this nation.  As the 1% continue to see their wealth increase, the average family income has declined over 40% between 2008-2012.  The Wall Street Journal is now reporting a "credit gap" in which the wealthy are saving billions and taking advantage of historically low interest rates while millions of Americans are denied access to credit from the same banks which taxpayers bailed out.  Romney is clear where his heart lies and it isn't with underwater homeowners or young people looking for a first job and managing tuition debts.

     Romney is willing to watch the Euro destroyed, the European Union disintegrate and our largest trading partner dismembered in order to hurt Obama and American workers whose jobs depend on exports.  He has been taught at Bain the end always justifies the means.  Can you imagine him with a Republican House, and possibly Senate, and no check on the Bainist of his instincts?

 The next president will also get at least two Supreme Court appointees...anyone up for another Scalia and Thomas?

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I heard a new definition of fascism recently.  A fascist government makes everything illegal and then decides what to prosecute and what to let slide.  If you think about it, the beauty of this approach is it plays off the commonly held belief in our society if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear from a diminution of your civil liberties.  It's all being done on your behalf after all.
     When the government controls sole discretion on what is or isn't a crime...when the government decides who to charge and who to let slide...when the government makes the rules about how and why you can challenge their decisions, it opens the door to abuses which render the Bill of Rights impotent and irrelevant to our daily lives.

      British authorities have just announced a plan to catalog the details of every web visit, email, and phone call or text message anywhere in the U.K.  The information will be archived for at least one year.  It would be available for any government official seeking to browse through it, and the law would allow British authorities to monitor their citizens in real time.  Some British citizens are raising alarms and concerns about the breadth and scope of such power and the decimation of privacy it represents.  In a prominent editorial, a top British law enforcement official accused those worried about this expansion of power of being either criminals or conspiracy theorists.  (If you haven't done anything wrong, why should you care if the government watches you or not?)

     A British citizen does not enjoy the constitutional protections afforded to Americans.  However, don't feel too comfortable about our protections since the Bush administration did exactly the same thing after September 11, 2001.  Without probable cause...without a warrant...without any judicial oversight...all required by the 4th amendment...they secured the cooperation of telecom companies and data-mined every email, cell call, text message and web activity of every American citizen.  They simply suspended the 4th amendment and, as in Britain, justified their actions by suggesting anyone uncomfortable with this electronic coup must be terrorists or someone with something to hide.  Eventually, a feckless Congress, with the help of Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer et. al., gave the telecom companies, and by extension the Bush administration, immunity from a criminal act of extraordinary invasiveness.

     Despite knowing all of this...despite the constant deification of the Bill of Rights by regressives and progressives alike...despite a history of English common law intended to rein in the power of the monarchy, both American and British citizens have passively accepted the diluting and weakening of individual protections to their liberty.  Why?  As the 4th amendment is sliced and diced into oblivion, why aren't Americans more agitated or concerned?  Why would British citizens abandon a history of keeping the despot in restraints?  Why would anyone surrender their privacy to the government under the guise, "...I haven't done anything wrong, so I have nothing to fear?"

     USA Today, just released an investigative story about at least 60 people, and maybe many more, who are in federal prison on gun charges and yet they are innocent of all these charges.  Innocent Americans are serving sentences up to 10 years, even though everyone admits they are innocent of what they are accused of doing.  It gets worse.  Federal criminal laws are written in such a way that even if you are actually innocent of a crime when you were convicted, it is almost impossible to get back into court to have this wrong righted.  I'm not making this up.  Once you have been "lawfully" convicted, a wall has been constructed by federal law to prevent you from appealing the conviction except on narrow grounds and being actually innocent is not one of those grounds.

     It gets better...Even if a federal prosecutor knows you are actually innocent, he or she has no obligation to inform you.  So, many of these Americans, who didn't do anything wrong, are sitting in federal prison without knowing they are innocent and the federal prosecutors aren't going to tell them.  Can you imagine sitting in prison with the government knowing you are innocent and keeping it to themselves?

     In the United States today, there are over 4,500 laws or regulations, which can send you to federal prison even if you had no idea you had done something illegal.  These laws and regulations carry "strict liability" which means all the government has to prove is you did it.  Any question or discussion of why you did it is irrelevant.  These violations run the gamut from unknowingly trespassing on federal land to catching the wrong fish, to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  These laws give total discretion to the government to decide whether to prosecute you or a family member.  It is a recipe for unbelievable repression and political pay back.  All of this, and we haven't even scratched the surface of the new government proposal to fly drones over the country to spy on you in your everyday activities without your knowledge.

     I have no explanation why Americans would tolerate innocent citizens kept in federal prison or countenance laws designed to keep them there after their innocence is discovered.  I can't explain why there was no outrage at what Bush did or at what British authorities are proposing.  Since the passage of the Patriot Act, I suspect this kind of spying is already occurring in this nation.

     American's sleep peacefully, secure in the knowledge if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear nor any need for a 4th amendment.  What do you do, however, when it's the government who gets to decide if what you do is illegal...convicts you...and makes it almost impossible to regain your freedom even if you are actually innocent?

     When everything is illegal, and the government determines when to come after you and when to leave you's fascism. Can anyone say we aren't there already?  Does anyone care?