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The US-backed terror offensive against the government of Haiti threatens to envelop the capital city, Port-au-Prince. Very soon, Washington will begin the second act of its gruesome political theater: “the rescue.” Having unleashed Haiti’s former military and secret police from their bases in the Dominican Republic, the U.S. now prepares to “step in to put the pieces back together as it chooses,” as we wrote in last week’s commentary, “US Goal: Declare Haiti a Failed State.

Associate Editor Kevin Pina began reporting on the Haitian “contra” buildup in the Dominican Republic on April 3, 2003. In re-reading Pina’s fall and winter dispatches, one senses the tiny economic elite’s frustration that the US-led aid embargo had not succeeded in sparking a popular revolt:

January 15, “Haiti’s Cracked Screen: Lavalas Under Siege While the Poor Get Poorer”

December 18, “US-Backed Haiti Opposition Emboldened: Student ‘Revolt’ Unmasked”

December 4, “The Bush Administration’s End Game for Haiti”

November 6, “The US Corporate Media Distort Haitian Events”

October 30, “Propaganda War Intensifies Against Haiti as Opposition Grabs for Power”

When it became clear that Washington could not starve Haitians into turning against their elected leader, the Bush men resorted to terror. Why is the US so determined to crush democracy in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation? Margaret Sawyer wants to know.

I agree heartily with everything in Mr. Pina's article posted on your site, but am desperate for the last piece of the puzzle: what does the U.S gain by removing Aristide?  What's the real goal?  Who benefits?  Why?  How?  

Although pundits are eager to compare the United States to the Roman or British Empires, today’s Pirate-led superpower is in fact an entirely new animal. Our world is wired. The planetary publics see and hear each other through mass media. There are no remote or unimportant places. The very meaning of the term “strategic” has been altered by the reconfiguration of human connections. The Pirates require universal acceptance of their template: global corporate rule through “free markets,” exalted to a near-religion and governed by the whims of Washington. Deviation from the template – anywhere on the planet – invites destruction.

Add to this the raw, frothing racism of the Bush crew, and the Haitian outrage becomes understandable. Democracy must be crushed in Haiti because the US wishes it so. The act, the rationale, and the message are indivisible. Such is the nature of Pirates-as-Superpower.

Art Flowers is the conjure-man at the always interesting Rootsblog site. His columns read well, because he’s well read.

Having fallen for the media-based condemnation of Haiti and Aristide and being chastised for it by Rudy Lewis of Chickenbones, I decided to do some research on the matter.  In doing so I found your series of articles by Kevin Pina last year on the media-based collusion between the US Administration and reactionary Haitian forces in their efforts to delegitimize Aristide's government.  These articles now seem prescient in their forecast of events now coming to a head in Haiti and once again I am impressed with how well you do what you do.  May you continue to play your invaluable role at this critical juncture in our struggle and destiny.  Keep the faith.

Michael Green writes from the Left Coast.

Wonderful stuff!  I heard Pina talk in Los Angeles summer/fall of last year but his words to that gathering were far more muted.  Sadly, I was one of the few folk in the audience who knew enough to ask the right questions after the talk.  I almost signed up for Pina's Global Exchange Tour of Haiti scheduled for the last week of February to celebrate 200 years of freedom, but hesitated for the right reasons.

Alicia Balassa-Clark is a scholar and activist from Vancouver, Washington.

As always, you guys deliver.  I was at a loss at finding articles that fully explain what is going on in Haiti today.  As always, you guys deliver.  Thank you for your excellence in providing top notch analysis and perspectives that can give us readers a better understanding of what is going on.  Your newest issue (Issue 78) with the in-depth article by Stan Goff, "Beloved Haiti: A (Counter) Revolutionary Bicentennial," hits the nail on the head.  I am forwarding it on to all my colleagues who are working for peace and in education.  

Goff’s article was originally published in the February 14 issue of Counterpunch.

John Lacny writes to remind us that the corporate media serve as the Emperor’s trumpeters. On February 11, the corporate citizens at the New York Times penned an editorial titled, “Haiti Erupts.” Lacny guides us through the double-speak:

The Newspaper of Record urged the Bush regime to "take constructive action" and "not just drop hints that Mr. Aristide should resign." It's hard to single out just one snakelike sequence of sentences in this loathsome swamp, but probably the most poisonous – and the most characteristic of the Times' style – is the double-attack on Aristide disguised as an effort at "even-handedness." Here it is:

"Jean-Bertrand Aristide helped bring this crisis on himself, with his encouragement of mob violence, politicization of the national police and failure to ensure fair legislative elections. Yet many of the insurrectionists are former Aristide allies with even weaker democratic credentials."

So in other words, the only bad thing about the counterrevolutionaries is that some of them are former supporters of Aristide. A more realistic assessment of the nature of the "opposition" is not in evidence here: for example, that they are really just a bunch of bloody-minded macoutes who deserve to have their heads chopped off with machetes, a fate they have avoided only because of the remarkable restraint thus far shown by the popular masses who overwhelmingly support Aristide.

And how about this paragraph?

"Nearly a decade ago, the Clinton administration's dispatch of American troops helped persuade a murderous Haitian military junta to step down, paving the way for Mr. Aristide to complete his first presidential term, which had been interrupted by a coup. Unfortunately, Washington's involvement wound down before the kinds of steps that would have deepened the roots of Haitian democracy – like creating a professional police force and independent electoral institutions – were completed. That kind of unglamorous institution-building would most likely have prevented the current insurrection and much of the political crisis that preceded it."

It's a failure, then, of the US in not pursuing "unglamorous institution-building," something for which the Haitians are just not ready on their own apparently. Not a mention of the (glamorous?) institution-building that the US has done plenty of in Haiti – namely, the cultivation of the Duvaliers and the macoutes over several decades, the setting-up and financing of FRAPH by the CIA, and currently the International Republican Institute's financing of the so-called "Democratic Convergence" with money supplied by the National Endowment for Democracy.

In the real world, Haitians' determination that they are quite capable of building their own institutions – though glamour, like most things in Haiti, is in short supply – is tempered by their understanding that they first have to be rid of the more glamorous institutions long imposed from Washington with the enthusiastic connivance of the pampered brats who now fancy themselves the "opposition." We can trust that what the vast majority of Haitians can see for themselves will be missed by the New York Times, a paper that caught plenty of hell over Jayson Blair's imaginative scribblings even as it gleefully reported the far more pernicious fairy tale that Hugo Chavez had resigned as president of Venezuela. Their line throughout will be that the US should "mediate" between the popularly-elected government it has been trying to oust on the one hand and the thuggish "opposition" it created and cultivated in the first place.

Thanks be to the Black Commentator for cutting through the bullshit!

We thank Mr. Lacny for his diligence, as well.

Wal-Mart: Leader of the pack

The retail giants that control the bulk of the nation’s food sales claim that Wal-Mart is the Devil that is forcing them to break the grocery workers union. Since early October, 70,000 United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have been on strike or locked out of Safeway, Kroger and Albertsons stores in southern California, fighting to retain a tenuous hold on middle class life and health care insurance for their families. In reality, the companies are eager to re-invent themselves, as we wrote in our February 19 Cover Story, “Remaking America in Wal-Mart’s Image: Grocery Strikers Fight for Us All.

The truth is, Wal-Mart does want to take over the world – but so do the managements of its strike-provoking competitors, who swallowed schools of smaller fish to control 70 percent of grocery sales in the top 100 markets. Certainly, Wal-Mart is closing fast, with $53 billion in grocery sales and 1400 “supercenters” in 42 states, but the “real problem” is much deeper than the folks at Forbes can safely grasp without losing their capitalist minds. In the world they have created for themselves in which corporate death is avoided only through constant increases in dividends, and having eaten nearly all of the smaller prey, the mega-grocers have no one to feed on but themselves – or their employees. They began chewing on the workers in the first week of October – all the while blaming it on Wal-Mart.

Despite $700 million dollars in losses in the last quarter, Safeway stock prices rose, the result of collusion and stock hyping among Wall Streeters anxious to break the union – any union.

Stephen F. Diamond is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Cornell Law School. His letter is a fine example of why we publish an e-Mailbox column.

I thought your recent column on the southern California supermarket strike was very good.  Your analysis of the relationship between the "threat" of Wal-Mart and the rest of the grocery industry rings true.  So does your view of the "solidarity" shown by the three companies.  It might interest you to know what some of my research on the industry has shown.  There is, I think, a larger layer here and that is the role of Wall Street.  Did you know, for example, that Safeway was founded by the investment bank, Merrill Lynch, in the late 1920s as part of their effort back then to consolidate smaller stores?  In fact it was Merrill's founder, Charles Merrill, who led the effort and his son-in-law, Robert Magowan took over the company in 1955.  In the early 70s Magowan's son Peter took over the company.  In turn he led the management buyout that was engineered by leveraged buyout firm KKR in the 80s.  After a dramatic restructuring that included thousands of layoffs they took the company public again making tens of millions for their shareholders – and millions in fees for KKR and other investment firms.  In fact, KKR at one point owned a significant part of the American grocery industry, including Stop & Shop and Bruno's.  Bruno's went belly up. 

In each of these efforts the grocery stores take on massive debt as you suggest and engage in frequent transactions as they try to stay ahead of the debt.  Wall Street, in other words, is "milking" the grocery industry for as much as it can get and the interests of customers and workers are secondary.  This has long been a standard technique of Wall Street.  It was part of what led to the break up of the banking and utility industries in the 1930s and 40s as part of the New Deal's effort to "save" capitalism.

Keep up the good work.

The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy does some of the most advanced, cutting edge work we know of in building coalitions to resist corporate destruction of communities. William D. Smart Jr. is a community organizer with LAANE.

Your story was very helpful for me today. I work for the organization in Los Angeles that is leading the fight to keep Wal-Mart out of Inglewood California. We also work very close with the UFCW and in a matter of two hours many of us will be getting arrested for civil disobedience in support of the striking workers. Something about your article really touched me today.  Thank you.

LANNE is suing to stop Wal-Mart’s drive to build supercenters in communities “without any governmental or public review of the social, economic or environmental impacts of their projects.”

Condoleezza’s orbit

Lloyd Cata has a certain style about him, honed in real-life conversations on subjects that really matter to people. Last week Mr. Cata let us in on a talk he had with his son, regarding “Condoleezza Rice and the Politics of Personal Power.

Now that we're on the same page, you understand that Condi Rice “don't really have no power.” You know damn well that she was appointed "national security advisor" to Bush because of her ability to work as a mentor with “special” students. Dr. Rice simply does Mr. Bush's heavy reading. Don't believe it? How come Condi is not plugged into the national security apparatus? If she really was then she should take the fall for 911, because she failed to bring to the President’s attention the immediate threat of terrorism.  The National Security Advisor compiles the reports of the CIA, FBI, and all other intelligence agencies and then briefs the president. The National Security Advisor uses these reports to prioritize the national security agenda. So 911 falls squarely on Ms. Rice in failing the President and the people of the United States. Of course, the “Politics of Personal Power” allows the President to lend her some of his personal power and fill the position "according to his needs."

Leutisha Stills, our frequent correspondent in Oakland, California, enjoyed the piece.

An insightful article by your guest commentator, Lloyd Cata.  I loved how he drew the dichotomy between how the earlier generations were reared with the global sense of community, respect for one's elders, and the importance of being known by your personal conviction as opposed to who you associate with.  I also appreciated his articulation of how we tend to give away our personal power through associations with individuals who may lack credibility, dignity and honor.

We really should pay special attention to how one's association can damage their credibility as Black Leaders.  Once upon a time, if Colin Powell had run for President, I would have crossed party lines and voted for him because he appeared to represent honor, truth, integrity and intelligence, most highlighted by his military background.  Today, as a result of his association with the Bush gang (“administration” is a word used for democratic operations), his credibility is shot to the curb, he has been stripped of his honor and dignity, and one can see that he's aware of his reduction in status, as evidenced by his going off on a Hill staffer who was shaking his head during Mr. Powell's testimony as if to say "I know this chump is lying..."

In the end, Mr. Cato reminds us that it's not about who you hang with; it's about what you did to make a valuable contribution to society, and how well you represented yourself through your convictions, beliefs and values.

Expect less with Bush

In last week’s Freedom Rider column, “George Bush: Master of Low Expectations,” Margaret Kimberley tackled a double contradiction. The Bush crowd complains that affirmative action promotes persons of lesser competence, yet the President, a child of multiple privileges, seems devoid of any particular competence, himself. In the swirl of a rich man’s world, what substance really rises to the top? “George W. Bush has participated in a racial preference program his entire life,” Ms. Kimberley wrote. “But after all those years of entitlement and connections to the best America has to offer, George W. Bush has emerged as a man who can’t put together more than two coherent sentences and stumbles and pauses when attempting to express very simple ideas.” Kimberley suggested that Bush call in his advisors to help him think, and then issue the following statement:

“It is painfully obvious to everyone that I do not have the skills to be President of the United States. I reached this point because of family connections and sweetheart deals. Only the most qualified people in our society should have the opportunity to reach the position that I have. Henceforth, my administration will now declare that affirmative action is in fact constitutional and also a benefit to America. If affirmative action is guaranteed we will never again risk the presence of a low achieving, disengaged, inarticulate man in the White House. America can and must do better. Thank you and good night.”

Elliot Podwill was pleased.

I loved your piece on Dubya and affirmative action. I sent it to several websites and will use the essay in a class that I teach. (I'm an English prof. in CUNY). Your past essays are also terrific, especially the ones attacking the religious right.

Trust No One

“Paranoia is usually the reserve of conspiracy theorists of every political stripe, fans of science fiction, and Black people,” said Ms. Kimberley, in her February 12 column. “We are given a pass because of the horrific treatment meted out to us throughout American history. Slavery, lynching, the Tuskegee experiment and COINTELPRO give us paranoia rights while others are mocked and dismissed for expressing their suspicions of malfeasance by the powerful. But other Americans would be better served if they acknowledged their own need to question authority and to doubt the benevolence of their leaders.”

Mona Smith agrees with Kimberley, but advises her to watch her back.

I recently became a big fan of yours in reading your articles on Black Commentator and Freedom Rider. Your style shows that you are not a woman to be cowed and I admire your straight-forwardness. Believe it or not, you have inspired me by opening up a consciousness  that  unbeknownst has been under the surface. I read your latest article, “Trust No One." It was completely on and deeply insightful on the pulse of what really is going down in America. After reading that particular article, I had to do a Margaret Kimberley search to find more and came upon the article on, 'The truth about Tulia'. Just keep it coming.

Basically, I want to say thank you for sharing your talent and watch out because they definitely are keeping an eye on a truth-speaker such as you.

The evolving line on vouchers

New Jersey is a testing ground for the Right’s evolving voucher arguments. In a strategic shift, voucher supporters now warn suburbanites that, unless private school vouchers are made available to inner city students, minorities will seek cross district transfers to better schools in the suburbs under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Homeowner taxes will also rise, the Right warns, unless urban public school populations are reduced through private school vouchers. This is the alarming “New Scheme to Sell Suburbanites on Vouchers: Scaring whites with taxes and fears of minority influx,” the subject of our February 12 Cover Story.

The main voucher outfit in New Jersey is E-3, Excellence in Education for Everybody. The Wal-Mart family-funded organization recently sent “surveys” to 191 school superintendents, demanding “the master collective bargaining agreement for your teaching personnel, and any and all public records that affect their terms and conditions of employment.” Further, “the term ‘records’ is construed as broadly as possible under the statutory definition of the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.”

The surveys will be used to as “evidence” in a campaign to paint urban education as a hopeless waste of tax money, and teachers unions as leeches of the public treasury. It’s a tricky strategy, since suburbanites are generally pleased with the quality of their own schools and teachers. That’s where the racial scare tactics come in.

To broaden the appeal to the suburban political majority, E-3 and its rich masters now offer vouchers as a safety valve to contain minorities in the inner cities, and as a means to avoid higher taxes to pay for equalization of public education opportunities. They are about to play their race cards, big-time.

We got a welcome letter from Daniel Pryzbyla, toiling in the education activism vineyards of Milwaukee, home of the phony voucher “movement’s” Hard Right Sugar Daddy, the Bradley Foundation.

Great article! You guys are 20 years ahead of present day political mentality on this voucher issue. Keep up the great work! 

Mr. Pryzbyla authored a excellent article in Education, that details how vouchers vultures seek to profit from the chaos and confusion of NCLB:

Voucher Carpetbaggers Blaze the Marketplace Trails

”With states jumping through the 2001 No Child Left Behind high-stakes testing hoops faster than you can whistle Dixie, it was a no-brainer for voucher carpetbaggers there would soon be easy pickings. Knowing public schools and districts couldn’t meet all the federal education law’s hideous accountability rules, resulting in harsh sanctions, this helped facilitate the voucher marketplace agenda.”

To read the entire article, click here.

EPI’s vouchers conversation

Lawrence Mishel is president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), in Washington, DC. We value EPI highly, but Mr. Mishel’s tone is troubling:

I'm a regular reader and you frequently discuss vouchers. One point that you don't seem to make is that there's no evidence that vouchers benefit the students who get vouchers.

The new argument for vouchers is that the competition will force public schools to improve – that those who don't get the vouchers will be helped:  

Mr. Mishel directed us to A conversation on school vouchers, EPI, June 12, 2003.  

In fact, the argument Mr. Mishel refers to – that competition fosters quality – has always been part of the vouchers arsenal. Last summer’s fact-filled EPI conference call among five educators is extremely useful in illuminating this one aspect of the many-sided vouchers discussion. We don’t know why Mr. Mishel is so keen to advertise this particular conversation as the be-all-and-end-all word on the Right’s multi-layered voucher offensive, which has a variety of political objectives.  Such smugness prevents anti-voucher forces from recognizing “new” lines of attack from the Right, such as the race and tax fear campaign that is currently unfolding in New Jersey. The vouchers fight is political. Not only is the struggle not limited to educators, it is in some respects not even about urban education, which is of no real concern to the main actors behind vouchers: the Wal-Mart family, the Bradley Foundation, and the Bush administration.

has explored every aspect of the pro-voucher argument, dating from our inaugural edition, April 5, 2002. Indeed, we have written so many pieces on the many ways that the Right finds vouchers useful as a political weapon, we sometimes feel as if we own the issue. Mr. Mishel also appears to feel proprietary about vouchers, but seems to believe the conversation begins and ends in the pages of his Economic Policy Institute.

We have not criticized EPI for failing to explore in any depth the Right’s attempt to create an alternative Black political leadership around the vouchers issue, for example. We recognize that’s not their job, or area of competence. EPI is an extremely valuable institution, and does great work. We can forgive their excessive vanity, if it serves to make them more productive.

P.S. Roberts sees the voucher offensive in a larger context

I am not surprised at the blatant and glaring futuristic racism that is going on today, from Ward Connerly's need to send us back to the 40's and 50's via his neoconservative viewpoint on African American issues (can we say the new form of Uncle Tom?) to Bush’s need to hide his (and his administration's) glaring hatred of all things dealing with people of color. And, to add to the mix, here comes the school voucher issue, which is supposedly designed to "help students in inner city find better schools" – which, in the opinion of this writer, is nothing more than a total crock of fetal matter.

We as a people need not only to start getting together on this problem, but also to start talking between ourselves, and with everyone of color who has a child in school to stem the threat that this "no child left behind" represents. We need to understand that the present Administration does not have the child's best interests in mind.

Something has to be done; otherwise, our public education system will be disbanded, and those who can afford to go to school (read: whites and those of color who are considered the "good ones") will be the only ones educated – not the poor, middle class nor those of color in the inner cities.

I shudder to think of a future for children of color under this "no child left behind" crap. There are only two options that I can see: either stand up, support the public schools, and FIGHT for our children's future, or, consign them to a government policy which would much rather they be in jail (read: concentration camp) than guarantee their educational future.

John Smith says, keep your eyes on the money.

Thank you, thank you, it is about time that someone wrote about this new process to divide and conqueror and cause hardships among black and Latino parents and their children. The system (education) does not want to spend funds to upgrade inner city schools, so they have created a diversionary scheme, of getting a few black and Latino children into mostly urban white schools. Yes we all want the best education possible for our children but it is going to take more than just a few millions to get the city schools up to par.  People can make the difference if they work together, but this is where the difficulty comes in, because their neighborhoods are segregated into enclaves of color.

We are now back to segregated schools throughout the country, the same as it was in 1969. Believe it because it is so. However the fight against this travesty of difference in education dollars and commitments still are battles for those who want their children to get a first class education.

“Jacklegs” and leadership

We followed up on our February 5 Cover Story on the Sharpton-Republican revelations (“The Problem With Al Sharpton”) with commentary in the following week’s e-Mailbox section. “Sharpton never veered from his progressive platform; that’s something [GOP operative] Roger Stone could not ‘extract’ from him,” we wrote.

A more fundamental question raised by Sharpton’s symbiotic relationship with Republicans this campaign season, goes to the processes through which Black “leadership” is created – or, the lack of such processes beyond the ability to grab media attention.

Sharpton told a New York radio audience: “I’m willing to play the game by the same rules as everybody else does.” That’s fine and dandy but, What is the “game” that is being played? (Thulani Davis provided some frank talk on the subject in her February 18 Village Voice piece, “It’s Time to Call for New Black Leadership.”)

Certainly, African American leadership exists in the myriad organizations that spring from the community; among those activists who struggle on behalf of The Race in larger arenas; and in the ranks of politicians who have been directly elected to represent Black constituencies. Yet pointing in many directions still begs the question of the character and definition of “Black leadership” in the United States, leaving us with insufficient commonly accepted grounds on which to judge Sharpton and other aspirants.

Vernon S. Burton, of San Leandro, California, knows what kind of “leadership” he doesn’t want to be burdened with:

Just when will the few progressive black media outlets stop allowing the racist white community to select black leaders for black folks? These long in the tooth jackleg preachers have long been an embarrassment to thinking black folks. Jesse with his love child and Al with his shilling for bigots in the GOP should go away and stop impeding the struggle.

We have included the next two letters because they are…interesting. Joel L. Lewis writes:

correctly identifies many of the flaws of Sharpton and his candidacy. However, most of these flaws are applicable to most Black "leaders" and politicians in the country.  They are all  "company" men and women controlled directly or indirectly by the Democratic Party. In the end, Sharpton is going to give a glowing endorsement to whoever the Democratic nominee is, and he will be rewarded with large sums of "voter registration funds." Other black "leaders" and politicians will follow suit. To his credit, Sharpton has criticized the Democratic party for many of its racists views and policies like no other candidate in recent memory. Sadly, Sharpton and most Black leaders and politicians are used by the Democratic party to keep the black "herd" within the party without representing their interests.

We are quite sure we don’t agree with the next reader’s “Trojan Horse” advocacy, but Sondjata Olatunji does write an intriguing letter.

I knew the article about Sharpton was coming and enjoyed reading it. I held my cursor until I saw the reader reaction to the article. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, but predictably, most of the cited respondents, which I assume represent the majority of the correspondence received, got it wrong. Let me explain.

Many of us should remember "sweat suit and medallion" Sharpton, who after being stabbed became "suit" Sharpton. I knew when I saw the suit, that Sharpton realized his days as outsider were over. Sharpton had bigger plans. Still, he stuck to his philosophical guns.  Slowly but surely he built NAN and became a force to be reckoned with in NYC politics. He even, twice, extended his voice to police abuse visited on white victims.  Sharpton, as far as I recall never aligned himself with Democrats. It was simply that Democrats had a choke hold on black "leadership." Therefore, it was (and is) assumed that Sharpton would be a "party man." It's not his fault that this misconception took root. As
pointed out Sharpton was always there when the dirt went down in NYC. It was Sharpton, not Calvin Butts, Floyd Flake, or the other "leaders."

During the election that put [Mayor] Bloomberg in office, Sharpton made it clear that party affiliation was not what mattered, but being able to have needs met, and holding elected officials accountable. He did not allow himself or black people to be condescended to by [mayoral candidates] Mark Green or Fernando Ferrer. Sharpton is doing what many of us in Garveyite circles have long been saying. Blacks ought to Trojan Horse into the Republican party and use whatever resources they can to forward the black agenda. Isn't this what Sharpton has done? I think a history lesson is due here. Toussaint L'Ouveture sided with the Spanish against the French and then French against the English and then turned on France.  Was Toussaint a sellout for taking sides with his "enemies" when it was expedient to his ultimate goal?

Many so called "black leaders" foamed at the mouth when they found out that Marcus Garvey had a sit down with the head of the KKK. Yet in his philosophies and opinions it is revealed that he did so in part to provide safety for blacks in his organization in the South. But as usual, the shortsighted leadership failed to understand that a temporary alliance is no deep relationship.

So in my book, Sharpton didn't sell out. Black leadership sold him out as predicted by
some time ago. Nothing strange nothing change.

We were not aware of this particular defense of Garvey’s meeting with the Klan – a fascinating angle on Sharpton’s relationship with Roger Stone.

Rich Cowan suggests that groups seeking a wider reach attend his Grassroots Use of Technology conference, March 13, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – and learn how to avoid dependence on the moneybags. “Someone from Sharpton’s organization” attended last year’s conference, said Cowan. “We have been providing free and low-cost technology to many African American led organizations for the purpose of doing political work and this could be used by a genuine grassroots alternative. It is too bad that Sharpton decided to sell out to people who aren't progressive.”

Death by media

’s Website activity logs and letters show that our January 29 Cover Story, "The Awesome Destructive Power of Corporate Media,” continues to circulate on the Internet.

It is no longer possible to view commercial news media as mere servants of the ruling rich – they are full members of the presiding corporate pantheon. General media consolidation has created an integrated mass communications system that is both objectively and self-consciously at one with the Citibanks and ExxonMobils of the world. Media companies act in effective unison on matters of importance to the larger corporate class. For all politically useful purposes, the monopolization of US media is now complete, in that the corporate owners and managers of the dominant organs are interchangeable and indistinguishable, sharing a common mission and worldview.

Mary Pjerrou finds the corporate media’s fingerprints at every major political crime.

Just read Glen Ford and Peter Gamble's analysis of corporate media power over the selection of Democratic Party nominee for president, as it appeared in Dissident Voice.  I agree totally.  Corporate media is Public Enemy No. 1.  No Bush Inc. in the White House without them (illegal vote count in Florida '00).  No Iraq War without them (despite Bush Inc. lies about Iraq that were known everywhere else on earth, the American public had no clue as to the false case Bush Inc. was making).  No corporate looting of the US federal budget without them.  No tax cuts for the rich without them.  No trillion dollar federal deficit without them.  Corporate media made all these things possible.  And now they've selected their Democratic Party nominee – pro Iraq war, pro Patriot Act, pro NAFTA-GATT, corrupt DC insider John Kerry. 

I'm a Californian, and my right to participate in my party's selection of a nominee has been taken from me, by this same corporate media that brought us Bush Inc. and the Iraq abomination.  I see it, too.  I see that THAT is the problem – corporate media monopoly over facts and opinion – and if we don't solve it, our democracy is over.  Fini.  And all those rights that we have fought for, for so many decades, will be meaningless. Thanks for your insight.  Please do more reporting and analysis on this issue!

More such analysis is inevitable. The media are the indispensable accomplices – passive or active – to every crime worth noting.


Reynard Blake’s February 12 piece appears to have touched readers where Big Media thinks we all live – that is, in the realm of “Sex, Drugs & Cash: The Hypocrisy of the National Football League and the Media.” Peter E. Fowler is a friend of ours from Columbus, Ohio. He’s not into all that stuff, but…

I'm writing today in response to Reynard Blake's piece in the 13 Feb. edition regarding the uproar over Janet Jackson's breast during the Super Bowl's halftime show. I didn't watch the game or see the incident in question, but as a news junkie I've followed the aftermath in the media. It's been a media circus and the issue has been wholly overblown, to say the least. But Mr. Blake has been the first analyst (that I've read) to articulate the racial undertones that made the incident so repugnant to conservative white America. Kudos to Mr. Blake for making this plain, and to for placing it prominently in the public dialogue. There's no sense in denying the reality of this aspect of the issue.

Miss Jackson is harmless as an entertainer. That's a stereotypical role that white America has long used to keep blacks at a safe distance (the very same device used on the "savage" black male athlete who was on display in the Super Bowl). But begin to disrobe her, especially in "prime time," and she suddenly becomes threatening. Now add to that that it was a white boy (Justin Timberlake) doing the disrobing, and the faux outrage ensued. White America is still repulsed by the concept of inter-color relationships. It has been a fascinating study to watch white fear, ignorance, racism, and hypocrisy go off the charts these past 2 weeks. And more so to see it go by without getting called out...’til now.

Chicken George

Kevin M. Clark, at the University of Texas, gave lots of thought to an earlier article by Reynard Blake, "But He's a Chicken," a hilarious-but-heavy piece from February 5.

I have been reading your website for a few months now and am impressed every week.  I am a white male.  It has been wonderful to discover a site that offers a perspective I simply do not get in my every day interactions. 

I found the article "But He's a Chicken" provoking and probably true in many instances.  As a white male born to an upper middle class suburban family I feel an obligation to help those who society has consistently sold short and pushed down.  It's possible that there would not be a need for affirmative action and similar programs if people would take the initiative themselves and understand the privilege that exists simply by being a white male.  This is not apologizing for how and what I was born, it is understanding how that status has helped put me where I am.  There is a huge need in our society to each feel like a self-made person.  That is the myth of our system of economics: we can each succeed by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.  This desire to achieve that myth makes people (generally middle and upper class white people) blind to the fact that they did not succeed all on their own effort.  Everyone in the US has an advantage over most of the rest of the world when it comes to being materially successful, no one would argue with that.  That calculus does not change once you get into the US.  White America has a head start and is applying a constant stiff arm to anyone else who tries to catch up.

I have been turned down by colleges and universities, but I don't care to find out why.  Is it affirmative action (probably not since those programs have generally been eviscerated), is it my grades, my experience?  Who knows?  What I do know is that I am in law school now and must work to succeed.  People who complain that their spots are being taken by "less qualified" black students have never known adversity and do not know how to respond other than to complain.  Sometimes things do not go your way (ask any black person over the age of 40, and most black people over the age of 10).  Knowing adversity for the first time in your life is an opportunity to improve yourself and succeed in spite of something.  For too long, middle and upper class white males have succeeded with the help of their position.  Being forced to actually be self-sufficient is character building and also completely and totally fair.  The counter argument that blacks should not get affirmative action because that is not being truly self-sufficient does not work because blacks have been affirmatively held down and held back for so long.  It is only fair and just to help someone you have kicked to the ground get back up and in the same position as you before you keep racing.

I would also like to make the point that I think the biggest problem facing this country right now is the economic line dividing wealth from poverty.  Lower class whites clearly have advantages that lower class blacks do not have, but everyone in poverty in this country is being sold down the river by George W. Bush. Blacks just happen to be in the boat that is being sold down the river the quickest.  I urge upper and middle class whites to take affirmative steps to redress the historical imbalances in our society.  This is not being patronizing or paternalistic, it is being just and fair.  Children born of privilege owe a duty to those who were not born as such.  It speaks ill of our character when we lie and say "we succeeded on our own, so can everybody else."  The time is now to admit that we certainly had help getting where we are, and the time is also now to offer a helping hand to those who are struggling to get where we are.  Middle class society is not a zero sum game.  Every black family that succeeds and makes it to the middle class does not force out a white family.  There is bounty enough for everyone if the people with the privilege would understand the head start they have, appreciate the injustice of the situation and do something positive to remedy the injustice. 

Thank you for your insightful articles.  You have a loyal reader and a friend in me.

The French

The French and, possibly, the Germans and Russians may soon raise the issue of Iraqi sovereignty at the United Nations. A reader’s letter gave us the opportunity to call attention to our September 18, 2003 Cover Story, “What’s Up with the French? The Not-American Strategy.” The piece was keyed to Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin’s September 12 letter published in the Paris newspaper-of-record, Le Monde. Our analysis, in part:

In the face of the Bush regime’s assault against international order itself, France has chosen the path of interposition, for which it is uniquely suited. However, no one should imagine for a moment that the French business classes, represented by President Jacque Chirac’s conservative government, relish this confrontation with the U.S. (Only American – and a few British – pundits are stupid enough to trivialize the current crisis.) Every elite on the globe is threatened by the 21st Century version of American Manifest Destiny. For this overarching reason, at this moment in history France speaks for world, not just European, opinion.

Daniel Talero is the fellow who brought the article out of the archives.

As a US national living in Canada, I'd like to thank you for providing what I consider some of the sharpest political analysis to be found on the web or anywhere else.  The article on the current French diplomatic position "what's up with the French?" was simply masterful, a refreshing bit of critical thought on a subject that has become the favorite smear of the American media.  Yours is a unique publication – keep up the excellent work.

Thanks to all of our readers. Keep writing.

gratefully acknowledges the following organizations for sending visitors our way during the past two weeks:

Information Clearing House

Richard Prince – Maynard Institute

Axis of Justice

Buzz Flash


Liberal Oasis

The Final Call



February 26 2004
Issue 79

is published every Thursday.

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