Saturday, November 21, 2009

'Criminal' Justice in Bush/Perry's Fascist Texas

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Despite the state Board of Pardons and Parole voting to spare Robert Lee Thompson's life, Bush Jr's successor, Rick 'Hair Club of Men' Perry voted to kill him anyway. Why have a board when you have a dictator?
Even as the controversy over his execution of an innocent man goes unresolved, last night the Texas Governor rejected a rare clemency recommendation from the state Board of Pardons and Paroles for a man facing execution for a murder he did not commit.

Robert Lee Thompson was an accomplice in a violent convenience store robbery in Houston in 1996, when his co-conspirator fatally shot the sales clerk, a man named Mansoor Bhai Rahim Mohammed. Thompson himself fired shots that wounded Mohammed, but it was his partner, Sammy Butler, who pulled the trigger that would leave him dead. Butler was tried and sentenced to life. A different jury found Thompson guilty and sentenced him to death.


Numerous defendants who did not kill anyone have been executed under the Law of Parties; that Perry wouldn't hesitate to sign off on Thompson's execution should comes as no surprise. But yesterday Thompson was granted a recommendation for clemency by the state's Board of Pardons and Paroles -- an extremely rare move. The Board, whose members are political appointments, has only recommended clemency two other times in recent memory.

One of these was two years ago in the case of Kenneth Foster, Jr., who also faced execution under the Law of Parties. In his case, the murder took place while he was in a car, 18 feet away. A grassroots campaign rose up to stop Foster's execution and in August 2007, Perry took the Board's recommendation and spared his life.

--Out-of-Control Rick Perry Overrides Rare Clemency Vote, Executes Man Who Killed No One
Why do these state-sponsored crimes against humanity continue? The Carvellian quick response: there's money in it!

It may be 'legal'! So what? Under Nazi law, the Holocaust was legal! What's happening in Texas is an on-going, institutionalized crime against humanity.

Here's how the prison moguls in the gulag state of Texas make money killing people: they farm out the prison system to 'private enterprise'. When there are profits to be made warehousing and killing folk, what incentive is there to keep the crime rate down? What incentive is there to educate people? The geniuses in Texas figured out that not only is it cheaper to kill folk than educate them, there is more profit it. Education --'they figger' --is expensive and requires the suburban, GOP nouveau riche to pay their fair share of taxes.

It is no coincidence that as executions increase the number of people graduating high school in Texas declines. This gulag state now leads the nation, beating even Mississippi for dead last in high school graduations. To be expected: those not graduating high school make up the greater part of those finding their way into the so-called 'criminal justice system'.

There is a fascist incentive, then, NOT to educate people. There is a fascist incentive to murder people while they are behind bars for crimes that might have been prevented by a responsible, civilized state. There is a fascist incentive to thumb the Texas nose at humanity, outsource justice to corporations, make the quick buck and let society slide off into the sewers of fascism and neo-barbarism. I state Texas at least since Bush Jr has become Nazi/fascist state and should be held to account by the civilized world.

The outsourcing of prisons should be banned by international conventions. This is a U.S/GOP holocaust that must be stopped now!
The United States holds the dubious distinction of having the largest incarcerated population in the world, with 2 million people behind bars as of year-end 1999.2 With only 5% of the world's population, the US holds a quarter of the world's prisoners In the 1990s alone, more persons were added to prisons and jails than in any other decade on record.


In a continued examination of those states that lead the national trend in increasing levels of incarceration, the Justice Policy Institute turns a focus on the state of Texas. The Lone Star State's criminal justice system is particularly worthy of scrutiny at this time, as the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported in August, 2000 that Texas, for the first time, leads the nation in imprisoning its citizens: Texas now has the nation's largest incarcerated population under the jurisdiction of its prison system. Since 1990, Texas has lead the nation's 50 states with an annual average growth rate of 11.8%, about twice the annual average growth rate of other state prison systems (6.1%). Even more important to the national context, since 1990, nearly one in five new prisoners added to the nation's prisons (18%) was in Texas.

--An Analysis of Incarceration and Crime Trends in The Lone Star State

As the GOP "Enronized" the great state of Texas, an assembly line criminal justice system, in cahoots with a medieval, privatized prison system, proved to be an oxymoron. It was "criminal" but hardly "justice". Despite the GOPs "worst" efforts, crime in Texas, always a topic of much discussion and study, has gotten worse. Texas is big on capital punishment, but even its industrialized application of the death penalty just cannot kill off the criminals as fast as they procreate and multiply. The GOP may be seeking a "final solution". year's end 1999, there were 706,600 Texans in prison, jail, parole or probation on any given day. In a state with 14 million adults, this meant that 5% of adult Texans, or 1 out of every 20, are under some form of criminal justice supervision. The scale of what is happening in Texas is so huge, it is difficult to contrast the size of its criminal justice systems to the other states' systems it dwarfs:
  • There are more Texans under criminal justice control than the entire populations of some states, including Vermont, Wyoming and Alaska.
  • According to Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates, one quarter of the nation's parole and probationers are in Texas. California and Texas, together, comprise half the nation's parolees and probationers.
  • The number of people incarcerated in Texas (in prison or jail) reached 207,526 in mid-year 1999. Only California, with 10 million more citizens, has more people in both prison and jail.
  • Texas has a rate of 1,035 people behind bars for every 100,000 in the population, the second highest incarceration rate in the nation (second only to Louisiana). If Texas was a nation separate from the United States, it would have the world's highest incarceration rate--significantly higher than the United States (682), and Russia (685) which has 1 million prisoners, the world's third biggest prison system. Texas' incarceration rate is also higher than China (115), which has the world's second largest prison population (1.4 million prisoners).
  • If the US shared the incarceration rate of Texas, there would be nearly three million Americans behind bars (2,822,300)--instead of our current 2 million prisoners.
  • The Texas prison population tripled since 1990, and rose 61.5% in the last five years of this decade alone. In 1994, there were 92, 669 prisoners in Texas. This number had increased to 149,684 by mid-year 1999.
  • The Texas correctional system has grown so large that in July 2000, corrections officials ran out of six digit numbers to assign inmates, and officially created prisoner number 1,000,000.

--An Analysis of Incarceration and Crime Trends in The Lone Star State

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

How GOP Bigots Scapegoat Obama

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Hitler scapegoated jews! The American right wing now scapegoats Obama! Why are we surprised? The GOP/right wing is just doing what psychopathic screw-ups and habitual liars always do. They try to find someone else to blame.

Obama is an easy target! Because Obama is black the GOP can depend on getting the support of bigots without ever having to use that 'n' word themselves. They keep their collars lily white even as their motives are of darkest night! Their plans are drawn up on K-street; they don't have to get their hands dirty. Leave that to the rank and file bigots.

In response to my previous post, Noor al Haqiqa wrote:
That is probably one of the saddest vids [The Eagles, Last Resort] I have seen for awhile. Not because I don't delve into the mire a little too often, but because so much of that is part of my life. ...there are times I just want to hate the perpetrators of this situation, but I cannot for to do so would be giving them what they want ~ my soul.
I hear you. I am descended of Native Americans whom I believe were and would have been better stewards of this continent. At the same time, I am also descended of hard working Irish and Scottish immigrants who only wanted a chance in life. For many years --until the British lost the so-called 'Revolutionary War' --Native Americans and the new settlers lived peaceably. Several Native American chieftains were admitted to the Court of St James --Thayendanegea (Joselph Brant) most notably. Pocahontas, the Indian princess who helped the English colonists in Jamestown, Virginia, is buried in a churchyard in Gravesend, England. She died there in 1617 while trying to make her way back to her beloved native land --America.

I have often tried to fix a date on which we have all become pilgrims, the date on which we all lost 'our country'! What was the tipping point? When did we lose our grip? When did we find our 'Gravesend'? When did we lose our way among strangers?

I often recall the moment I witnessed in Houston's Jones Hall when amid thunderous applause Dan Rather introduced himself to a news conference attended by the media executives from across the nation. "Are you running for something," President Richard M. Nixon, already besieged by Watergate, asked Rather.

"No, Mr President!" Rather responded, "Are you?"

But it wasn't Watergate! We overcame and rose above Watergate. It was an old 'Western' in which the 'good guys' won. They did win, didn't they?

It was Reagan!

It was Reagan who finished the job. It was Reagan who stole the wealth of the nation and gave it to elites who did not produce it, did not deserve it and did nothing to earn it. The money changers were not driven from the temple. The temple was stolen by them. They call it the 'Fed'.

It was Reagan who pandered to ignorance, bigotry, hate, and prejudice. He could afford to pander; he was financed by a 'ruling elite', now just one percent of the entire population. It was Reagan who made psychopaths feel good about being psychopaths. It was Reagan who sold out America, broke the back of labor and exported U.S. industry and jobs to Japan and China.

Because of trends begun by Reagan, the U.S. is now at the very bottom of the CIA's 'World Fact Book' with the world's largest Negative Current Account Balance, formerly called the 'balance of trade deficit'. At the very top --with the world's largest positive Current Account Balance --is China to whom we have now exported our wealth. But because China must prop up the buck in order to sell to us via Wal-Mart, we would already be prostrate and penniless.

It was Reagan and the psychopathic ilk who followed him blindly over the cliff. It was the neo-imperialists, parasitic partners of the Military-Industial Complex, who dared dream of empire in the PNAC document: REBUILDING AMERICA’S DEFENSES Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century [PDF]. It was these neo-imperialists, called NECONS, who pined for a new a 'catalyzing event', a new 'Pearl Harbor', that would be exploited to justify a campaign of aggressive wars, in fact, war crimes punishable by death even under U.S. Codes, Title 18, Section 2441.

(a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.
A so-called Neo-conservative movement 'Kristolized' in the 1960s, an obvious knee-jerk over-reaction to what was called a 'radical cultural revolution' that was perceived to have been taking place in the United States. Others just called it the 'Woodstock Generation'. Irving Kristol wrote: "If there is any one thing that neoconservatives are unanimous about, it is their dislike of the counter-culture."

It is frightening to think that the US may now be poised on the brink of collapse because stuffed-shirts like William Kristol were hopelessly, awkwardly square, had never smoked a joint, and thought Woodstock was a little cartoon bird!

America might still change but only after it has had a sea change of heart and mind. But until wealth inequality is addressed, the media returned to the people and the anti-American-anti-Constitution imperialists tried for war crimes and mass murder, nothing will change for the better. A drunk who will not recognize his problem is just a hopeless drunk, a 'druggie' a hopeless druggie and a thief will steal again if he thinks he can get away with it.

There are no quick fixes and I expected none from Obama. He is just a man --not a miracle worker. And it requires a miracle to save us from the pox that has been visited upon us by the real 'enemy'. It was Pogo who deplored the waste dumped in his swampland home and said: "The enemy is us!" Pogo was right!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Last Resort

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

A nation in which about one half of the population openly pines for the murder of the only fairly elected president in some 9 years is finished. The writing is on the wall. The America that most of us loved is dead. Tragically --it will not rest in peace, rather, infamy!

Who killed America but bigoted idiots throughout the GOP rank and file? who think themselves rich when in fact they --like the rest of us --are consigned to relative poverty while just one percent of the total population enjoys more wealth than that of 95 percent of the rest of us combined! It was all by design, begun with the Presidency of Ronald Reagan about whom GOP-types, this utterly failed mentality, these endemically criminal psychopaths, swooned: "He made us feel good about ourselves!"
Not only have the Wall Street Journal and the hosts of Fox News been issuing their usual dark mutterings, but a new slogan has began appearing on bumper stickers, t-shirts, and even teddy bears: "Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8."

That psalm reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."

Maddow seemed mainly amused by the teddy bears, but when she turned for comment to former right-wing evangelical leader Frank Schaeffer, he emphasized that in a religious context "it means something more threatening."

"The situation that I find genuinely frightening right now," Schaeffer explained, "is that you have a ramping up of biblical language ... and what it's coalescing into is branding Obama ... as 'not us.' ... Now he joins the ranks of the unjust kings of ancient Israel ... who should be slaughtered, if not by God then by just men."

--Former evangelist: Religious right is ‘trawling for assassins’
'Missing America' is about mourning the loss of ideals --freedom, equality, Democracy, inherent rights, self-evident truths, the promise that this government, this nation, unlike the monarchies of Europe, recognized in its founding document that people are sovereign. Alas! None of that means shit to psychopathic idiots who have never bothered to read the U.S. Constitution but are, nevertheless, experts!
Now that the GOP has been transformed by the rise of the South, the trauma of terrorism and George W. Bush's conviction that God wanted him to be president, a deeper conclusion can be drawn: The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history.

We have had small-scale theocracies in North America before -- in Puritan New England and later in Mormon Utah. Today, a leading power such as the United States approaches theocracy when it meets the conditions currently on display: an elected leader who believes himself to speak for the Almighty, a ruling political party that represents religious true believers, the certainty of many Republican voters that government should be guided by religion and, on top of it all, a White House that adopts agendas seemingly animated by biblical worldviews.

--Kevin Phillips, How the GOP Became God's Own Party, Sunday, April 2, 2006

To this ilk I say: you have never been interested in American ideals but those you could exploit. You have never loved this country but for what you could milk it for! You have never paid but lip service to the U.S. Constitution which you wield like a weapon when you like it but a 'goddamned piece of paper' when you don't! You have nothing meaningful to say to me so just shut the fuck up!

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Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership, Global Issues, Updated: January 02, 2009




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Why U.S. Nukes Did Not Shorten the War with Japan

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The 'bomb' did not shorten the war, nor did it affect --in any way --Japan's insistence upon retaining its emperor. Absolutely nothing was gained by the wanton murder of some 200,000 civilians.

U.S. President Harry Truman is said to have nuked Japan because he wanted an 'unconditional surrender'! In fact, he got nothing more than what had been offered prior to the use of two nuclear weapons first against Hiroshima and, later, against Nagasaki. The Geneva Conventions which prohibit genocide were not codified until 1948. But it is the purpose of the law to codify prohibitions against acts that are --already --wrong! The law cannot make right a wrong nor can it make wrong acts that are clearly right!
I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that? Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of "face"
--Dwight David Eisenhower
It is said that Truman would accept nothing less than 'unconditional surrender' In fact, he did not get an unconditional surrender. The surrender was conditioned upon the retention of the Emperor, a request that the Japanese had made as it sued for peace.
"The Japanese Government are ready to accept the terms enumerated in the joint declaration which was issued at Potsdam on July 26th, 1945, by the heads of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, and China, and later subscribed to by the Soviet Government, with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.
The bombing --the deliberate elimination of some 200,000 people --was in vain. Estimates of 150,000 killed and wounded in Hiroshima and some 75,000 at Nagasaki may be conservative. Clearly --these deaths were avoidable.

Eisenhower is vindicated by history. Indeed, as Eisenhower made clear: Japan sought terms which changed not a bit by the the use of the bomb.

The use use of the bomb is --in either case --an act of genocide against a civilian population. Genocide is now prohibited by by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

Japanese leaders --military and civilian, including the Emperor --were willing to surrender in May of 1945 if the Emperor could remain in place.
The Japanese government wanted to surrender; its leaders, military as well as civilian, rationally understood that the war was lost. President Truman was fully aware? of the situation as early as May of 1945. A peace treaty could have been effected and the dropping of the bomb avoided.
But they had a determined attachment (irrational?) to? the emperor. Japan would have surrendered, very possibly as early as June 1945, had its ruling establishment received guarantees of the emperor's personal safety and continuance on the throne. This should have been the first step in an American surrender strategy.
--Journal of American History
Therefore, the U.S. use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction upon a civilian population changed absolutely nothing!

President Truman was fully aware of the situation as early as May of 1945. A peace treaty could have been effected and the dropping of the bomb avoided. Churchill and Stalin went along with the 'unconditional surrender' policy --but only reluctantly.

U.S. policy demanding an unconditional surrender was rendered moot by the fact that the surrender was not unconditional but contingent upon Japan retaining its emperor. In any case, it does not ameliorate U.S. targeting a civilian population. Japan's major cities were devastated. Casualties were already in the millions. Millions more were refugees. The fleet was lost. Merchant shipping could not leave home waters or sail from the few possessions still held by Japan.
U.S. policies and actions following the de facto defeat of Japan:
  • Targeted a civilian population, an action not yet covered by the Geneva Conventions of 1948.
  • Achieved NOTHING that Japan had not ALREADY agreed to.
As Japan, in fact, retained its emperor, it would appear that it was the U.S. --not Japan --that made concessions after the bombing.


Following is my response to a comment on facebook:

Someone had posted:
"An invasion force would have still have to go in at the cost of 1000's of American lives. Ask any vet who landed at any island we captured."
1) Thousands of American lives were already lost to Japanese fighting from caves.

2) The point missed is that peace terms agreed to had already been agreed to by Japan before the bomb was dropped. There was, then, no point in dropping the bomb if the intention was to effect a un-conditional surrender. In any case, the U.S. did NOT get an un-conditional surrender. There is no ex post facto justification for this war crime.


3) There is no evidence that people fighting in caves were in any way dissuaded by the bomb! None! Japan had already agreed to the terms that were --in fact --signed after the bombs were dropped. The bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima --huge cities of civilians, not caves full of 'terrorists'!

What effect on cave guerillas did U.S. Military 'geniuses' think dropping bombs on civilian concentrations would have? Read Che Guerrilla. You may conclude that NUKES are powerless against a well-organized guerrilla force. IF folk were fighting in caves, what effect would bombs have? Clearly --no concessions were made as a result of NUKING the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki! NONE!

Today the US has been mired in Afghanistan for almost a decade! Guerrillas are fighting from caves, we are told! Do you propose that we NUKE Kabul because a rag tag band of guerillas are holed up in same caves some 100 miles away?

It would seem that if the US cannot 'win' a war against folk living in caves, then the U.S. would be well advised to get the fuck outt the war business.
Why I moderate comments
  • SPAM: 'comments' that link to junk, 'get rich' schemes, scams, and nonsense! These are the worst offenders.
  • Ad hominem attacks: 'name calling' and 'labeling'. That includes the ad hominem: 'truther' or variations!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The End of American Community

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

In his essay on Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", W.H. Auden observed that theatrical directors throughout the 30's found it quite natural to make of Caesar a great fascist dictator --more like Mussolini than Hitler. The conspirators, he says, were "liberals". Up to date analogies are irresistible.

There was a very brief period of time not so long ago, before Iraq fell into utter chaos, that it could be said that George W. Bush had "...crossed the Rubicon". There are, however, even better analogies to be made. I am still surprised that the GOP 'released' the White House so willingly, it seems in retrospect. Still cynical, I am inclined to believe that the world left Obama in Bush's wake is now so precariously perched, so involved in economic disaster that it is hoped Obama will take 'the fall' for the mess that was left him.

In 1947, Auden would say of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar that it had "great relevance to our time". Auden believed that Julius Caesar was about a society, the society of ancient Rome, on the very edge of doom. Auden did not believe that to be true of Western Civilization in 1947. But --is it true of the US, Britain, and Western Civilization today? Are we perched on the edge of doom?

Historically, of course, Octavian would "ride the storm" to prevail at Actium, and, assuming the title "Augustus" would give to Rome another 400 years. The prospects thus were not nearly so gloomy as those we face today.

Auden would write of the post Roman-Hellenic world that it collapsed of a spiritual failure, a lack of nerve, an utter inability to make sense of what was going on. This is the most accurate analogy that is to be made with the present. It is not surprising that a far flung war begun upon a pack of malicious and deliberate lies would drag on for years. It has done so only because few in power understand what is going on. The BBC states flatly: the Iraq war has sent shock waves throughout the Middle East that will be felt for a generation --an optimistic assessment.

There is yet another layer of complication. It has to do with the sense of community lately found lacking in America and, perhaps, to a lesser degree elsewhere. Auden makes much of the manner in which Shakespeare begins his plays. "First things in Shakespeare are always important", he writes. It is, therefore, significant that Julius Caesar begins with a crowd scene, evidence of community found in few modern societies.

The crowd is one of three important types: societies, communities, and crowds. One belongs to a society in which the individual has a function or to which one contributes in one way or another. Communities are composed of people who share a common love. Crowds, by contrast, are composed of members who neither belong nor join. Members of crowds merely add numerically to the crowd. The crowd, Auden writes, has no function.

Crowds arise when communities break down, when individuals for various reasons cannot share a common love or enthusiasm with others. Education has little to do with it. Knowledgeable, highly educated people often become members of crowds for various reasons and thus often help drive the enigma of fascism.

Over simplifications are tempting. Crowds are fertile ground, nurturing fascism and other forms of authoritarian governments and regimes. If the manner in which Shakespeare begins his plays is important, then it must be pointed out that Julius Caesar begins with a crowd scene and ends with the loss of Republic.

A "crowd" is most often ugly, fickle, angry yet manipulable. Kierkegaard would write of the public as merely a large crowd "...a Roman emperor, a large well-fed figure, suffering from boredom, looking only for the sensual intoxification of laughter." He would call the "press" the "public's dog" that is often set upon the truly great. Thus, the crowd, manipulated by demagogues and charlatans, becomes a mob.

I submit that the increasingly isolated, suburban nature of American society, in the midst of plenty, devolved into islands of isolation. The word community merely attached to a souless suburb does not make a community. It is but a sub-division at best. At worst --a dormitory. An affluent America became a nation of crowds, a public only loosely held together yet isolated by the science of demographics the very purpose of which is separation and analysis.

Given those conditions, the events of 911 were highly exploitable and America became an angry mob. The conditions were ripe for a would-be dictator to seize "the crown", vowing as he did to "...export death and destruction to the four corners of the earth." This would-be Caesar was hardly swept into office with a genuine popular mandate. Many say the election was stolen. Certainly, Gore received more popular votes in Florida. But for 911, Bush would have been retired early.

There is still some hope for a positive change, more if Bush had not left Obama an economic catastrophe already well under way. In this fog, we are fortunate if we should know what is really going on. Until America finds its soul, its sense of real community, it will remain like the Roman-Hellenic world. There is no Octavian in the wings who might give us a reprieve of some 400 years or so.