Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How GOP Fascism Screwed Texas

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

When a state or nation fails to live up to its basic obligations to the people, it is in breach of contract. It is the right of the people to rise up and replace --by any means --the illegitimate regime. If that sounds radical, I refer you to the words of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire! You might also consider the Magna Carta!

What the GOP has in mind for the rest of the nation, it has very nearly accomplished in Texas. Under the criminal and incompetent management of George W. Bush and, later, Rick 'Good Hair' Perry, Texas is reduced to third-world status --an outcome resulting from Bush/Perry neglect and overt contempt for public education.
Our schools are in crises: We [Texas] rank 36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma. We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores.'

--Barbara Bush, The Critical Mind
But you can rest assured that the private schools in Texas are doing fine. But it is in the public schools that those not born to wealth have any hope of acquiring an education. But the elites would deny you even that!

A detention camp in Taylor Texas that currently holds hundreds of rebuffed asylum seekers who legally entered the country, half of which are children swept up in midnight raids, is a potential prime location for the enforced transfer of American citizens during a time of national emergency.

The privatized Hutto jail, which is also administered by Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), currently interns political asylum seekers who came to the U.S. on legal visas. Most of them are families including pregnant women and children who have never been accused of any wrongdoing but are forced to endure squalid conditions inside literal concentration camps.

In 2004 the facility was on the verge of being shutdown due to lack of occupancy but new immigration policies, allied to the burgeoning growth of the prison industry and future plans to detain American citizens en masse, have revived the potential scope of the camp, and a new contract to intern 600 individuals was finalized with immigration authorities in December 2005.

The facility is euphemistically called a "Residential Center," yet charges of overcrowding and poor conditions are rife, with an estimated 645 people filling a facility that has only 512 beds.

--Paul Joselph Watson & Alex Jones, Texas Prison Camp Future American Gulag?

This is a fascist outcome and as a result, the corporate prison population has exploded. If trends continue, one day, there will most surely be more folk in prison than out. This is a GOP payoff, a 'laundered' pay0ff, to the corporations for their support of the Texas GOP.
The newly instituted leveling system on death row in Texas under which prisoners are classified in one of three categories—supposedly based on their disciplinary record—is nothing but heightened repression.

It masquerades as a means to provide uniform rules and regulations in managing male prisoners sentenced to death. But in truth it is a reactionary response to prisoners’ efforts over the years to organize themselves against cruel and inhuman treatment.

The Endeavor Project, the Lamp of Hope Project, and now Panthers United for Revolutionary Education are just three examples of prisoners’ efforts to protect themselves and resist.

Any time prisoners, and even people on the outside—unions, women, people of color, gays—begin to organize themselves across color lines, the system devises counter-schemes to bring it to a fast and abrupt halt.

The Texas death row leveling system is another of these, out of a huge bag of trickery designed to dominate, subjugate and divide prisoners. It’s no different from when businesses divide workers, colleges divide students, and the ruling class divides the poor masses by establishing lines of antagonism.

Before the leveling system, all death-row prisoners in Texas—except for those classified as work-capable—were already confined to "administrative segregation" status. In other words: lock-down.

--Commentary from death row: Texas leveling system shows rise in repression, Harvey Earvin
As high school graduations per capita declined, crime in Texas, most notably murder, increased. Not surprisingly, the prison population swelled to overflowing. The GOP in Texas has, thus, enriched, the corporate, fascist owners and operators of prisons.

'Are there no prisons?' --Scrooge

These outcomes are not coincidence, not the result of incompetence, not the result of mere GOP idiocy, though many, like the Bush crime family, are idiotic to be sure! No --this is, rather, fascist policy; it is a laundered pay-off to the GOP's corporate 'base'. The corporate-GOP axis makes out like Nazi brass or the likes of I. G. Farben, the makers of Zyklon B. The made a killing. It is only the citizenry which suffers, a citizenry that is increasingly deprived of educational or vocational opportunity so GOP fat cats can continue to feed off the misery of its victims.

The Oil Boom is Over

Texas must learn to make an honest living. Texas must face up to its responsibilities now and to future generations or it will perish. Under the disastrous back-to-back Bush/Perry regimes, Texas is well on its way to economic oblivion.

The results are disastrous:

  • Texas/Bush style provides the residents of Texas with some of the nation's very worst crime and incarceration rates
  • Texas subjects the residents of Texas to deteriorating air quality and wanton ecosystem destruction;
  • Texas can boast of having the nation's very worst murder, crime and incarceration rates!
  • Texas now leads the nation in pollution, crime, and illiteracy --should be studied by any other state wishing to avoid a similar distastrous fate.
As education standards and performance declined with the ascension of George W. Bush to Governor and his equally incompetent successor --Rick Perry --crime rates, primarily murder and armed robbery have increased. Naturally, there is a round up of the usual suspects, i.e, the poor and those caught in the act of being black or brown.

The increase in crime in Texas is the result of GOP policies and the GOP's criminal neglect of education. The crime resulting will prove to be yet another 'growth industry' for the likes of Halliburton/KBR as was the Bushco war against the people of Iraq!
How infuriating has it been, the last five years, watching Halliburton and KBR get away with murder? Murder, poisoning, electrocution, rape, human trafficking, fraud, bribery — their crimes go on and on. But could their decade-long spree may be coming to an end? This year, settlements for old offenses, new exposés and new lawsuits for more recent evil-doings, have resulted in plummeting stock prices, canceled contracts, and a soon-to-be imprisoned former CEO.

The latest blow came last Thursday, in a Texas court, where executives for Halliburton and KBR were described in legal papers as conducting a “reign of terror” and functioning “as criminal enterprises.” Paying bribes, taking kickbacks, concealing gang rapes, and engaging in human trafficking were among the crimes listed on the May 14th complaint brought not by government or human rights lawyers, as you might expect, but by attorneys filing a class action suit for the pension fund of Detroit’s Policemen and Firemen. According to the press release issued by the funds’ attorneys, Grant & Eisenhofer, Halliburton and KBR’s directors enabled “a pervasive environment of misdeed and corruption,” resulting in suits, investigations, fines, penalties, and settlements of over $650 million, which have ravaged the corporations’ reputations, prospects, finances, and in turn the pension fund’s investment.

The Texas suit covers the period both before and after KBR became an independent company, and names the majority of the two companies’ recent and current boards, including such corporate heavyweights as past president and chairman of American Airlines, Robert Crandall. The May 14th press release by attorneys originally listed former Halliburton CEO, Dick Cheney as a defendant (not surprising, since most of the Nigerian bribes occurred under Cheney’s tenure; Cheney also appointed and directly supervised Stanley), but a hastily issued correction stated that Cheney had been listed in error. The complaint identified some of Halliburton’s and KBR’s known “misdeeds” in Iraq, including providing troops with untreated, untested water from the Euphrates and delivering ice to troops in a truck that showed signs of its former use as storage for corpses. The complaint concluded, “The myriad crimes and wrongdoings discussed above simply could not have happened if Defendants were doing their jobs. As officers and directors of the Companies, the Defendants were required to ensure that the Companies’ internal controls were in place, functioning properly, and sufficiently strong to prevent it from committing wrongful or illegal acts.”

The Detroit pension fund suit is one of many recent suits against Halliburton and KBR. In November 2008, Joshua Eller, a civilian employee at Balad Air Force base northeast of Baghdad, cited rotten food, contaminated water and ice, and toxic fumes from open burn pits, as contributors to his ongoing depression, nightmares, and gastrointestinal and dermatological conditions. In March 2009, parents of Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth sued KBR for wrongful death from electrocution in the shower at his Green Zone base. In April 2009, troops, private employees, and families filed nine lawsuits against KBR for compensation for illness and deaths from exposure to toxic fumes from Iraq and Afghanistan burn pits. The suits, which lawyers will be pursuing as a class-action, seek damages “in an amount sufficient to strip defendants of all of the revenue and profits” involved in managing waste for military bases.”

But the pension fund suit is the first initiated by shareholders, and the stakes are high. Grant and Eisenhofer is a formidable opponent, ranking first among plaintiff firms in funds recovered for shareholder clients. The firm is currently involved in class action suits against Barclays Bank, Countrywide Financial, UBS, Pfizer,and Merck as well as Tremont Holdings Group Inc, a fund charged with feeding $3 billion of client investments to Bernard Madoff Securities.

--Nora Eisenberg, Is KBR’s Decade-Long Crime Spree Finally Coming to an End?, AlterNet
A Day of Reckoning

With any luck, the whistle may have been blown.
New York - On Monday, Dec. 6, a district court in Texas will be asked – for the first time in that U.S. state's history – to decide whether the death penalty is unconstitutional based on the "disproportionately high risk of wrongful convictions" in Texas.

John Edward Green, Jr., the defendant in Texas v. Green, is charged in the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old Houston woman during a 2008 robbery. He has not yet been convicted, but prosecutors say they would seek the death penalty.

Green's attorneys have filed a pretrial motion in Harris County District Court. Judge Kevin Fine will hear arguments that the death penalty is unconstitutional because it creates an unacceptable risk of executing innocent people

Green's attorneys contend that a number of factors in Texas's legal system increase the risk of innocent people being executed.

According to the defence, these include a lack of safeguards to protect against mistaken eyewitness identification, faulty forensic evidence, incompetent lawyers at the appellate level, failures to guard against false confessions, and a history of racial discrimination in jury selection.

Paul Cates, director of communications for the Innocence Project, told IPS, "The Innocence Project will be participating in the hearing specifically to put on evidence about the cases of Claude Jones and Cameron Todd Willingham. Both Jones and Willingham were executed in Texas."

He said, "In the case of Claude Jones, DNA evidence has proven that critical physical evidence (a hair sample) used to place him at the scene of the crime did not belong to Jones. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed even though a prominent arson scientist notified the Governor and the appeals court prior to his execution that the critical testimony of the arson investigator was based on outdated arson science."

--US Execution Capital Reconsiders the Death Penalty
The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment (especially if you happen to be innocent) but, in Texas, its application is clearly discriminatory.
Mississippi and Arkansas have the highest poverty rates in the nation (at 21.9% and 18.8%, respectively), and Florida saw the largest increase in poverty (2.8 percentage points) over the course of the recession, new Census data shows. Poverty was lowest in New Hampshire (8.5%) and Alaska (9.0%), but even in those states at least one in 12 residents lived in poverty.

While the new data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) are similar to the nationwide data on poverty released earlier this month, the ACS provides a more detailed look at poverty in every state. The result is more evidence of the widespread pain resulting from the Great Recession. In the nation overall, there were 42.9 million people in poverty in 2009. For the average family of four, this means that their combined income for the year was less than $21,954 (the exact threshold varies by family size and number of children). From 2007 to 2009, 47 states and the District of Columbia experienced increases in their poverty rates. The first Map shows poverty rates by state and how they changed throughout the Great Recession, which began in late 2007.

--Kai Filion, Economic Policy Institute, Child poverty rises dramatically in most states,
One day, some believe, a ruling elite of just 1 percent of the total U.S. population may decide that a declining profit margin no longer justifies the 'business' of warehousing, torturing or murdering people because just 12 people decided that they did not deserve to live free or live at all!

The 'elites' may be tempted to pull out, to take the money and run, to 'cauterize' the prisons, dump the problem upon an unsuspecting but 'not rich' population. Thus --they will leave behind a dismantled and/or crumbling infrastructure incapable of handling a prison population of some 2.5 million across America. The corporate robber barons will decide that it is no longer worth the bother with either the infrastructure or the accounting of some $190 billion a year --more than the combined costs of wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.

At this point, the corporate psychopaths, having made a living 'killing' and 'warehousing', may decide as did Hitler before them that a 'final solution' is required.
Like in the late 1930’s, the “final solution” will be the mass extermination of prisoners across the U.S.A. And Texas – always at the vanguard of fascism – has already begun. At first by “medical means” with the complicity of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, now charged with all medical care (or lack thereof) across various TDCJ’s. That is how TDCJ/UTMB murdered courageous “jailhouse lawyer” David R. Ruiz: whose Ruiz v. Estelle lawsuit brought TCCJ under the heel of the Ruiz Court for nearly two decades. UTMB denied Ruiz timely lifesaving cancer treatment, much requested, until it was “too late to treat.” But there are many others: among the growing elderly population and the sick.