Let America Be America Again
By Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed
--Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.(There's never been equality for me,Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.I am the red man driven from the land,I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--And finding only the same old stupid planOf dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.I am the young man, full of strength and hope,Tangled in that ancient endless chainOf profit, power, gain, of grab the land!Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!Of work the men! Of take the pay!Of owning everything for one's own greed!I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.I am the worker sold to the machine.I am the Negro, servant to you all.I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--Hungry yet today despite the dream.Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!I am the man who never got ahead,The poorest worker bartered through the years.Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dreamIn the Old World while still a serf of kings,Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,That even yet its mighty daring singsIn every brick and stone, in every furrow turnedThat's made America the land it has become.O, I'm the man who sailed those early seasIn search of what I meant to be my home--For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,And torn from Black Africa's strand I cameTo build a "homeland of the free."The free?Who said the free? Not me?Surely not me? The millions on relief today?The millions shot down when we strike?The millions who have nothing for our pay?For all the dreams we've dreamedAnd all the songs we've sungAnd all the hopes we've heldAnd all the flags we've hung,The millions who have nothing for our pay--Except the dream that's almost dead today.O, let America be America again--The land that never has been yet--And yet must be--the land where every man is free.The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--Who made America,Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,Must bring back our mighty dream again.Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--The steel of freedom does not stain.From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,We must take back our land again,America!O, yes, I say it plain,America never was America to me,And yet I swear this oath--America will be!Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,We, the people, must redeemThe land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.The mountains and the endless plain--All, all the stretch of these great green states--And make America again!
Citgo and Anonymous Email
Yesterday, I received an anonymous email. I am going to reproduce the email and interpose my responses. I'll put the email text in italics.Me:
The first thing I notice about the email the “From” field is blank. So the first question I ask myself is “Why would a person or group spreading a valid message wish to remain anonymous?” Could it be because the message is not valid? Just asking.Email: Is this true.Me:
Is what true?Email: Venezuela Dictator Vows To Bring Down U.S. GovernmentEmail: Venezuela government is sole owner of Citgo gasoline companyMe:
Another thing that strikes me about this message is the sender’s ignorance. The fact that Citgo is owned by Venezuela is a well known fact. It was discussed over and over again last year when Chavez cut that deal with those Northern states to provide their low income families with low cost heating oil. The writer has apparently just become aware of the ownership. He/she is either ignorant of the heating oil deal or just ignoring it – more likely the latter. In any case, to deal with the actual text of the message:Email: Venezuela Dictator Hugo Chavez has vowed to bring down the U.S. government. Chavez, president of Venezuela, told a TV audience: "Enough of imperialist aggression; we must tell the world: down with the U.S. empire. We have to bury imperialism this century."Me:
First, Chavaz is not a dictator; he is a democratically elected president – which is more than can be said for the head of our government.Me:
Second, Chavaz has never vowed to “bring down the US government.” He did say "Enough of imperialist aggression; we must tell the world: down with the U.S. empire. We have to bury imperialism this century." Since I am with Chavaz 100% on that, I am still wondering what point the writer of the email was trying to make.Email: The guest on his television program, beamed across Venezuela, was Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar activist.Me:
And ... ?Email: Chavez recently had as his guest Harry Belafonte, who called President Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world."Me:
Harry Belafonte did recently speak in Venezuela and he did call Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world." I guess the truth hurts some people when it hits home.Email: Chavez is pushing a socialist revolution and has a close alliance with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Me:
Chavez believes in a type of democracy that this country hasn’t practiced, even in theory, since Thomas Jefferson was president two hundred years ago. That is, Chavez believes that national resources belong to the people and should benefit the people directly by using the derived income to finance schools, medical care, and sanitation. He does not believe in the philosophy that has been so prevalent in the US for at least 150 years; that philosophy seems to be: once in power, sell all natural resources to your cronies. The peons will then benefit through economic “trickle-down.”Me:
As for Chavez’s alliance with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, he gives them oil. They give Venezuela sugar, but more importantly, they give Venezuela trained doctors and nurses who have set up clinics in areas of Venezuela where people have never known formal healthcare. Were we even half the country we claim to be, we would have been down there helping with that project. Instead, we wasted our Venezuelan resources paying for the CIA to overthrow Chavez because his “socialist programs” were cutting into the profits of Exxon.Me:
Anyway, who are we to quibble about such an alliance? Our largest trading partner is China which is not only governed by a rigid dictatorship; it has one of the worst records for human rights violations in the world.Email: Regardless of your feelings about the war in Iraq, the issue here is that we have a socialist dictator vowing to bring down the government of the U.S. And he is using our money to achieve his goal! The Venezuela government, run by dictator Chavez, is the sole owner of Citgo gas company. Sales of products at Citgo stations send money back to Chavez to help him in his vow to bring down our government.Email: Take Action Please decide that you will not be shopping at a Citgo station. Why should U.S. citizens who love freedom be financing a dictator who has vowed to take down our government? Very important. Please forward this to your friends and family. Most of them don't know that Citgo is owned by the Venezuela government.
To me, the issue is not “that we have a socialist dictator vowing to bring down the government of the U.S. And he is using our money to achieve his goal!” The issue is that we have some moronic imbecile who is so cowardly as to email people a bunch of ignorant right-winged bullshit anonymously. I just wish I knew who sent it so I could respond personally. Since I can't, let me urge you to go get in your car, drive to the nearest Citgo station and top off your tank. The people who would be freezing up north if it wasn't for Chavez will thank you. The people in Venezuela who are getting medical care for the first time will thank you.Me:
And the head of the SSO IRBS (Society to Stamp Out Ignorant Rightwing Bullshit Slangers - that would be me) will thank you.
Bush Owns Halliburton?
"Nothing happens in politics by accident. If it happens, it was planned that way."-- Franklin Roosevelt
Most of the rebuttals I read or hear concerning something Cheney or Bush has said starts out with the assumption that they are deluded or "live in a fantasy." Let's assume for the sake of argument that they are not deluded and that they are as in touch with "reality" as anyone else. Lets just assume that they are deliberately telling bald-faced lies for their own nefarious reasons.
Let's say, for instance, that they have no interest whatever in "national security" or "spreading democracy" or "fighting terrorists." Let's say they just took over the US to deliberately start a war to make money through companies that are now reaping huge profits from the conflict in Iraq; companies such as Halliburton and various other oil related industries.
The facts so far seem to support this argument. Cheney, who still receives a yearly paycheck of $145,000 from Halliburton, has a huge amount of Halliburton stock and an undisclosed number of options. Since 2001, Halliburton stock has gone from $10 per share to $60 per share.
Bush, on the other hand doesn't seem to profit much until one knows a bit about the history of Halliburton. In the 1930's, the Bush family bought the Dresser Company, a very successful company making oil drilling equipment. In the late 70's, Dresser, still owned by the Bush family, merged with Halliburton.
At the time, Dresser was in a much better financial position than Halliburton so the Bush family did not receive much money from the deal. Obviously then, they were paid in Halliburton stock. Right now, there are about 1500 "owners of record" of Halliburton, most of them are institutions, investment companies, and holding companies, so it is beyond my ability to prove that the Bush family owns a controlling interest in Halliburton but, unless they gave away their holdings from the Dresser deal, they do.
So, what am I saying? I am saying that this country is run of, by and for Halliburton and a few other oil and pharmacological companies the Bush family has financial interests in. We have to pull our heads out of our behinds and recognize that these people are not just misguided right-wing patriots living in a fantasy. They are hard-headed business men. They have a plan and that plan is to concentrate as much wealth and power in theirs hands as possible. Any frame or argument that doesn't recognize this is just whistling in the dark.
January Unemployment - The Measure of Despair
There were a reported 193,000 new jobs in January according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but note that in the pass few years this number is usually revised downwards after a couple of months when they think no one is looking.
In any case, even if the number is good, it still leaves the labor market with a lot of catching up to do since 2001. It takes about 160,000 new jobs a month just to break even with population growth. The average job growth reported by the BLS over the past six months was 158,000 per month.
The government reported the unemployment rate at 4.7% in January. What they neglect to report is the share of the adult population that had a job, that is, the employment to population ratio. This could be termed the "measure of despair" because it gives a way to count the number of people who are unemployed but no longer looking for a job because they have despaired of finding one.
In January 2006 this number was 62.9%, a small gain from August 2005, when it was 62.8%. In March 2001, this number was 64.1%. The non-difference between August 2005 and January 2006 tells us that the level of human despair is holding steady. What the difference between the January 2006 ratio of 62.9% and the March 2001 ratio of 64.1% means is that despair has greatly increased since March 2001.
If the ratio had held steady from March 2001 until January 2006 there would be 3.2 million more Americans with jobs in January. Hence, 3.2 million Americans have despaired of ever finding a decent job and have dropped out of the job market since March 2001 and are now living with that despair. If they are counted as unemployed, the US unemployment rate would actually be 6.7%, not the reported 4.7%.
Its all in how, and whether, you measure despair.
Complete Transcript of the Bin Laden Tape
First, let me say there is no definitive proof that this audiotape is actually the voice of bin Laden. The CIA says it is a "genuine message" from bin Laden. Independant experts who have examined other "bin Laden" tapes have reached the conclusion that they are fake. So, you pays your money and you takes your chances.
January 21, 2006
The following is the full text of the recent Osama bin Laden audiotape. The text was translated from the Arabic by The Associated Press. Bin Laden appears to be addressing the American people:
My message to you is about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how to end them. I did not intend to speak to you about this because this issue has already been decided. Only metal breaks metal, and our situation, thank God, is only getting better and better, while your situation is the opposite of that. But I plan to speak about the repeated errors your President Bush has committed in comments on the results of your polls that show an overwhelming majority of you want the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. But he (Bush) has opposed this wish and said that withdrawing troops sends the wrong message to opponents, that it is better to fight them (bin Laden's followers) on their land than their fighting us (Americans) on our land.
I can reply to these errors by saying that war in Iraq is raging with no let-up, and operations in Afghanistan are escalating in our favor, thank God, and Pentagon figures show the number of your dead and wounded is increasing not to mention the massive material losses, the destruction of the soldiers' morale there and the rise in cases of suicide among them. So you can imagine the state of psychological breakdown that afflicts a soldier as he gathers the remains of his colleagues after they stepped on land mines that tore them apart. After this situation the soldier is caught between two hard options.
He either refuses to leave his military camp on patrols and is therefore dogged by ruthless punishments enacted by the Vietnam Butcher (U.S. army) or he gets destroyed by the mines. This puts him under psychological pressure, fear and humiliation while his nation is ignorant of that (what is going on). The soldier has no solution except to commit suicide. That is a strong message to you, written by his soul, blood and pain, to save what can be saved from this hell. The solution is in your hands if you care about them (the soldiers).
The news of our brother mujahideen (holy warriors) is different from what the Pentagon publishes. They (the news of mujahideen) and what the media report is the truth of what is happening on the ground. And what deepens the doubt over the White House's information is the fact that it targets the media reporting the truth from the ground. And it has appeared lately, supported by documents, that the butcher of freedom in the world (Bush) had decided to bomb the headquarters of the Al-Jazeera in Qatar after bombing its offices in Kabul and Baghdad.
On another issue, jihad (holy war) is ongoing, thank God, despite all the oppressive measures adopted by the U.S Army and its agents (which is) to a point where there is no difference between this criminality and Saddam's criminality, as it has reached the degree of raping women and taking them as hostages instead of their husbands. As for torturing men, they have used burning chemical acids and drills on their joints. And when they give up on (interrogating) them, they sometimes use the drills on their heads until they die. Read, if you will, the reports of the horrors in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons. And I say that, despite all the barbaric methods, they have not broken the fierceness of the resistance.
The mujahideen, thank God, are increasing in number and strength - so much so that reports point to the ultimate failure and defeat of the unlucky quartet of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. Declaring this defeat is just a matter of time, depending partly on how much the American people know of the size of this tragedy. The sensible people realize that Bush does not have a plan to make his alleged victory in Iraq come true. And if you compare the small number of dead on the day that Bush announced the end of major operations in that fake, ridiculous show aboard the aircraft carrier with the tenfold number of dead and wounded who were killed in the smaller operations, you would know the truth of what I say. This is that Bush and his administration do not have the will or the ability to get out of Iraq for their own private, suspect reasons.
And so to return to the issue, I say that results of polls please those who are sensible, and Bush's opposition to them is a mistake. The reality shows that the war against America and its allies has not been limited to Iraq as he (Bush) claims. Iraq has become a point of attraction and restorer of (our) energies. At the same time, the mujahideen (holy warriors), with God's grace, have managed repeatedly to penetrate all security measures adopted by the unjust allied countries. The proof of that is the explosions you have seen in the capitals of the European nations who are in this aggressive coalition. The delay in similar operations happening in America has not been because of failure to break through your security measures. The operations are under preparation and you will see them in your homes the minute they are through (with preparations), with God's permission.
Based on what has been said, this shows the errors of Bush's statement - the one that slipped from him - which is at the heart of polls calling for withdrawing the troops. It is better that we (Americans) don't fight Muslims on their lands and that they don't fight us on ours. We don't mind offering you a long-term truce on fair conditions that we adhere to. We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat. So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war. There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America who have supported Bush's election campaign with billions of dollars - which lets us understand the insistence by Bush and his gang to carry on with war. If you (Americans) are sincere in your desire for peace and security, we have answered you.
And if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book "Rogue State," which states in its introduction: "If I were president, I would stop the attacks on the United States: First I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all."
Finally, I say that war will go either in our favor or yours. If it is the former, it means your loss and your shame forever, and it is headed in this course. If it is the latter, read history! We are people who do not stand for injustice and we will seek revenge all our lives. The nights and days will not pass without us taking vengeance like on Sept. 11, God permitting. Your minds will be troubled and your lives embittered. As for us, we have nothing to lose. A swimmer in the ocean does not fear the rain. You have occupied our lands, offended our honor and dignity and let out our blood and stolen our money and destroyed our houses and played with our security and we will give you the same treatment. You have tried to prevent us from leading a dignified life, but you will not be able to prevent us from a dignified death. Failing to carry out jihad, which is called for in our religion, is a sin. The best death to us is under the shadows of swords. Don't let your strength and modern arms fool you. They win a few battles but lose the war. Patience and steadfastness are much better. We were patient in fighting the Soviet Union with simple weapons for 10 years and we bled their economy and now they are nothing.
In that there is a lesson for you.
Irony - I Just Love That Word
"How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men."
-- Joe McCarthy
US Senator 1951
Halliburton - Bringing Auschwitz to Your Town
|Customs `camps' cause for concern |
| By Tom Hennessy, Columnist |
Long Beach Press Telegram
|Maybe a lifetime in the news business makes one paranoid. Or maybe it was just a matter of timing.|
The story showed up in Tuesday's Press-Telegram, as I was reading "Night," Elie Wiesel's horrifying autobiography of a teenager in Buchenwald and Auschwitz.
Appearing on page A5, the story said the federal government had awarded a $385 million contract for the construction of "temporary detention facilities." These would be used, the story said, in the event of an "immigration emergency."
Jamie Zuieback, an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), explained such an emergency like this: "If, for example, there were some sort of upheaval in another country that would cause mass migration, that's the type of situation that the contract would address."
That sounds a tad fuzzy, but let's concede that the camps do have something to do with immigration, illegal or not. In fact, there already are thousands of beds in place at various U.S. locations for the purpose of housing illegal immigrants.
But for anyone familiar with history U.S. or European the construction of detention camps for whatever purpose should prompt a chilling scenario.
Same folks The new detention camps will be built by Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton. The latter, as you likely know, is the defense-related corporate giant with fists full of contracts involving the war in Iraq.
Halliburton was led by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995 to 2000. Democrats in Congress have accused the administration of favoring the company via no-bid contracts. But KBR says the detention contract was competitive.
Tuesday's story also said the contract was awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers. However, Halliburton says it was awarded by the Department of Homeland Security in support of ICE.
The contract is for a year, but includes four one-year options. It is a renewal of an existing ICE contract, notes Halliburton.
KBR, in fact, had the $9.7 million contract to build the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. This facility, popularly dubbed "Gitmo," holds 660 prisoners classified by the government as "enemy combatants."
Anyone care? This column is written with the distinct feeling that not many people will give a hoot about any or all of this. But as already noted, a news story about construction of government detention centers should give us all pause.
Considering what took place in Nazi Germany, as well as the shameful incarceration of Japanese-Americans in 1942, no detention camp should be built without the widest possible public scrutiny.
Bottom line: The contract cries out for greater attention. So far, the government's expressed reason for building them is insufficient and ill-defined. And even if the camps do relate to illegal immigration, their purpose could be changed overnight.
This is an instance in which we could be well served by our representatives in Congress. They need to look at this and give constituents a better picture of what is going on.
Let's not have it said, years from now, that no one ever questioned this.