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Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

DOGS VS. JACKALS

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 25, 2011 at 12:11 am

There’s a scene in the classic John Wayne Western, The Searchers, that counterterror experts should study closely.

Wayne–in the role of Indian-hating Ethan Edwards–and a party of Texas Rangers discover the corpse of a Comanche killed during a raid on a nearby farmhouse.

One of the Rangers–a teenager enraged by the carnage has seen–picks up a rock and bashes in the head of the dead Indian.

Wayne, sitting astride his horse, asks: “Why don’t you finish the job?”  He draws his revolver and fires two shots, taking out the eyes of the dead Comanche–althugh the mutilation is not depicted onscreen.

The leader of the Rangers, a part-time minister, asks: ” What good did that do you?”

“By what you preach, none,” says Wayne/Edwards.  “But what that Comanche believes–ain’t got no eyes, he can’t enter the Spirit land.  Has to wander forever between the winds.  You get it, Reverend.”

Now, fast forward to May 1, 2011: U.S. Navy SEALS descend on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and kill Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda chieftain.

Among the details of the raid that most titilates the media and public: The commandos were accompanied by a bomb-sniffing dog.

The canine was strapped to a member of the SEAL team as he lowered himself and the dog to the ground from a hovering helicopter near the compound.

Heavily armoured dogs–equipped with infrared night-sight cameras –have been used in the past by the top-secret unit.  The cameras on their heads beam live TV pictures back to the troops, providing them with critical information and warning of ambushes.

The war dogs wear ballistic body armour that is said to withstand damage from single and double-edged knives, as well as protective gear which shields them from shrapnel and gunfire.

Some dogs are trained to silently locate booby traps and concealed enemies such as snipers. The dog’s keen senses of smell and hearing  makes him far more effective at detecting these dangers than humans.

The animals will attack anyone carrying a weapon and have become a pivotal part of special operations as they crawl unnoticed into tunnels or rooms to hunt for enemy combatants.

Which brings us to the ultimate of ironies: Osama bin Laden may have been killed through the aid of an animal Muslims fear and despise.

Muslims generally cast dogs in a negative light because of their ritual impurity.  Muhammad did not like dogs according to Sunni tradition, and most practicing Muslims do not have dogs as pets.  

It is said that angels do not enter a house which contains a dog. Though dogs are not allowed for pets, they are allowed to be kept if used for work, such as guarding the house or farm, or when used for hunting.

Because Islam considers dogs in general to be unclean,  many Muslim taxi drivers and store owners have refused to accommodate customers who have guide dogs.   In 2003, the Islamic Sharia Council, based in the United Kingdom, ruled that the ban on dogs does not apply to those used for guide work.

But many Muslims continue to refuse access, and see the pressure to allow the dogs as an attack upon their religious beliefs.

Counterterror specialists have learned that Muslims’ dread of dogs can be turned into a potent weapon against Islamic suicide bombers.

In Israel, use of bomb-siniffing dogs has proven highly effective–but not simply because of the dogs’ ability to detect explosives through their highly-developed sense of smell. 

Muslim suicide-bombers fear that if they blow themselves up near a dog, they might kill the animal–and its unclean blood might be mingled with their own, thus making them unworthy to ascend to Heaven and claim those 72 willing virgins.

Similarly, news in 2009 that bomb-sniffing dogs might soon be patrolling Metro Vancouver’s buses and SkyTrains as a prelude to the 2010 Olympics touched off Muslims’ alarms.

“If I am going to the mosque and pray, and I have this saliva on my body, I have to go and change or clean,” said Shawket Hassan, vice president of the British Columbia Muslim Association.

What are the lessons to be learned from all this?  They are two-fold:

l.   Only timely tactical intelligence will reveal Al Qaeda’s latest plans for destruction. 

2.  No matter how adept Islamic terrorists prove at concealing their momentary aims, they cannot conceal the insights and long-term objectives of the religion, history and culture which have scarred and molded them.

American police, Intelligence and military operatives must constantly ask themselves: “How can we turn Islamic religion, history and culture into weapons against the terrorists we face?”

These institutions must become as intimately familiar with the mindset of our Islamic enemies as the best frontier Army officers became with the mindset of the Indians they fought. 

General George A. Custer once freed several white female captives by threatening to hang the chiefs of the tribes responsible.  The Indians scorned death by knife or gunshot.  But they feared that the spirit of a hanged man remained forever trapped within his body, thus preventing him from reaching the Happy Hunting Ground. 

And Custer, knowing this, put this intelligence to effective, life-saving use. 

American Intelligence agencies must learn what our Islamic enemies most seek, most prize, and—above all—most hate and fear.  Then these agencies must ruthlessly apply that knowledge in defense of America’s survival.

BUREAUCRACIES AND THEIR PRIORITIES

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics on May 20, 2011 at 9:45 am
The quickest way of opening the eyes of the people is to find the means of making them descend to particulars, seeing that to look at things only in a general way deceives them.…
--Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses
 
Florida Republicans would do well to heed Machiavelli’s advice.
 
When he ran for Governor of Florida in 2010, venture capitalist Richard “Rick” Scott promised to focus his energies on creating jobs. 
 
That strongly resonated with voters–and for solid reasons:  The unemployment rate in Florida now hovers at 11.1 percent, notably higher than the 9 percent national average.
 
The state has about 1,029,664 unemployed citizens and one of the worst foreclosure rates since the start of the housing crisis. 
 
But rather than concentrate their energies on creating jobs for willing-to-work Floridians,  Scott and the Florida legislature have focused their attention on attacking the right of women to obtain a legal abortion.
 

In the legislative session that ended on May 16, lawmakers did not pass a single job creation bill for Scott to sign. But they did pass five bills restricting abortion rights and a state budget that cuts nearly 4,500 public sector jobs.

The five bills, which Scott is expected to sign:

  • force women to undergo ultrasounds prior to having an abortion;
  • prohibit private insurance coverage of abortion care in the new state health-insurance exchange;
  • require young women to prove the medical necessity of their abortions before a judge in order to bypass parental permission;
  • establish state-sanctioned license plates that funnel money to anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers”; and
  • starts the process of amending the state constitution to prohibit the government funding of abortion.

Florida Republicans filed a total of 18 anti-abortion bills during the session, the third most in the country, according to the ACLU.  It was also twice the number of anti-abortion laws introduced last year in the state, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America.

During the same session, Florida lawmakers also:

  • cut jobless benefits;
  • cut Medicaid reimbursement rates;
  • strengthened gun rights; and
  • passed nearly $4 billion in budget cuts that will effectively lay off thousands of teachers and government employees.

The focus on abortion rights has caused some lawmakers –including some fellow Republicans –to question how they got so far off-track.

“I came up here to help put food on the table,” said state Sen. Evelyn Lynn (R-Ormond Beach) during debate on the ultrasound bill. “I came up here to get people jobs. I came up here to protect people from the kinds of safety issues that fire and police take care of. I came up here to protect education.”

Actually, it should not come as such a surprise.  When a bureaucracy’s leaders turn increasingly radical, their real priorities –as opposed to their stated ones–become all too obvious. 

Thus, in the final months of the Third Reich, prisoner-loaded trains rushed from Germany toward the death-camps in Poland.  So great was Adolf Hitler’s desire to leave a “Jew free” Europe as his legacy that schedules for these trains took priority over those bringing reinforcements and supplies to his desperately struggling armies.

Similarly, Florida’s Talibanistic leaders of the Republican Party have decided that gaining control over the private lives of women overrides the needs of tens of thousands of Floridians to find productive work to support themselves and their families.

It was under Hitler and the Third Reich that abortion was ruled a crime.  German mothers were encouraged to have at least four children.  A woman who gave birth to sons was especially prized–since Hitler needed all the cannonfodder he could get for the endless wars he was planning.

Which brings up another similarity between yesterday’s Original Nazis and their counterparts in the Republican Party:  Both organizations consider themselves pro-life–so long as death

(1) happens outside the womb; 

 (2) targets their political opponents and anyone who disagrees with them; and

(3) can be inflicted violently, preferably by the military.

No person is ever so rich and/or powerful that he can have everything he wants.  He must choose which of his needs/desires are most important, and which ones must be at least temporarily put on hold.

What is true for an individual is equally true for a state like Florida or a nation like our own.   So every choice made becomes a statement of what is truly most important to those making that choice.   And what they value as important is not necessarily what they claim to be important.

Ironically, Ronald Reagan–the man the Tea Party stalwarts pushing this anti-abortion drive claim to revere–might well come under their attack if he held office today. 

As Governor of California, he signed into law one of the most liberal pieces of abortion legislation in the nation in 1971.  So liberal, in fact, that it was one of the few laws not overturned by the landmark 1972 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion.

A TALE OF TWO KILLINGS–PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Ernesto “Che” Guevera and Osama bin Laden. Two men who lived by the gun–and died by it. Who inspired widespread admiration among their supporters and fear among their enemies.

Both men targeted the United States as their chief adversary. Guevera sought to destroy its power to fight Communism. Bin Laden sought to destroy its power to intervene in the Middle East.

Guevera’s most optimistic hope was that Americans would eventually see the error of their capitalistic ways and convert to Communism. His last words were: “Tell Fidel that he will soon see a triumphant revolution in America.”

But he was prepared to fight to the death–as indeed he did–to force revolutionary change upon the United States.

Bin Laden’s most optimistic hope that Christian and Jewish Americans would eventually convert to Islam. But if that didn’t happen, he, too, was prepared to attack Americans anywhere and in any way he could–as his private diary and documents have revealed.

Having described, in a previous column, how Ernesto “Che” Guevera met his end, it is time to compare this with how bin Laden earned his 72 willing virgins.

On April 29, 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama authorized a U.S. military raid, dubbed “Operation Neptune Spear.”   On May 1, two teams of 12 U.S. Navy SEALs, working with the CIA, stormed bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The SEALS traveled in two helicopters specially outfitted to emit little noise. But an accident resulted when the tail rotor of one helicipter grazed the compound’s wall. The damaged aircraft was “hard-landed” and then destroyed on-site to protect technology secrets.

Back-up forces were immediately available, and another helicopter was brought in to retrieve the commandos and relevant contents. All combined, a total of 79 commandos and a dog (believed to have explosive-detection training) were involved in the raid.

Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, bin Laden’s courier, opened fire on the SEALs from the guesthouse with an AK-47 assault rifle where he and his wife were killed in the returned fire. A male relative of the courier was shot and killed by the SEALs before he could reach a weapon lying nearby

Bin Laden’s 22-year-old son rushed towards the SEALs on the staircase of the main house, and was also shot and killed. Bin Laden, standing at the top of a staircase, retreated into his room–where he was followed by SEALS and shot in his head and chest.

There were two weapons near him, including an AK-47 assault rifle and a Russian-made 9 millimeter semi-automatic Makarov pistol. But, according to his wife, Amal, he was shot before he could reach his AK-47.

A SEAL on the scene announced coded news of bin Laden’s death: “Geronimo E-KIA” (enemy – killed in action).

The entire raid, including intelligence sweeps of the compound, was completed in less than 40 minutes. The SEALS moved fast because they feared–rightly–that the Pakistani army would intervene to protect bin Laden.

Within 24 hours of his death, bin Laden’s body was transported to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson for final rites and burial at sea. President Obama and other U.S. officials feared that his gravesite could become become a memorial site for members of Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrArabist organizations.

In the late evening of May 1, 2011, President Obama announced that bin Laden had been killed in the operation. He added that U.S. forces “took care to avoid civilian casualties.”

The attack was carried out without the knowledge of the Pakistani government–a wise move, considering that bin Laden had been living undisturbed at a large compound for at least five years, just a short distance from the Pakistani version of West Point.

Just as Fidel Castro and other Communist leaders eulogized the dead Che, so, too, leaders of Islamic expansionist groups rallied to praise the dead bin Laden.

Among these was his son, Omar, who denounced his father’s killing as a “criminal” act, and his burial at sea as demeaning to the Islamic faith.

In a letter published on the website of Islamist ideologue Abu Walid al-Masri, the younger bin Laden said the former Al Qaeda leader’s children reserved the right to take legal action in the United States and internationally to “determine the true fate of our vanished father.”

The letter further noted:  “We hold the American President Obama legally responsible to clarify the fate of our father, Osama bin Laden, for it is unacceptable, humanely and religiously, to dispose of a person with such importance and status among his people, by throwing his body into the sea in that way, which demeans and humiliates his family and his supporters and which challenges religious provisions and feelings of hundreds of millions of Muslims.”

Bin Laden’s death attracted protests from hundreds of people in the city of Quetta, in southwestern Pakistan, who burned American flags and paid homage to the late terrArabist leader.

On May 13, a pair of Taliban suicide bombers attacked paramilitary police recruits eagerly heading home for a break after months of training, killing 80 people.  It was the first act of retaliation for the killing of bin Laden.

Others–especially Americans–reacted differently.  Almost as Obama was addressing the nation, cheering crowds gathered outside the White House and in New York City’s Times Square.  Celebration also broke out at the site of the former World Trade Center, the victim of the September 11 attacks.

For the next two weeks, Americans continued to rejoice.  Much of their feelings were best expressed in grisly humor on websites and late night comedy shows such as “Tonight” and “Late Night With  David Letterman.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department issued a “worldwide caution” for Americans, and U.S diplomatic facilities everywhere were placed on high alert.

It remains to be seen whether, decades from now, bin Laden will retain the iconic status of Ernesto “Che” Guevera.

PUNISHING CORPORATE TREASON–PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 16, 2011 at 11:13 am

It is long past time to hold wealthy and powerful corporations accountable for their socially and financially irresponsible acts.

This solution can be summed up in three words: Employers Responsibility Act.

If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, an ERA would ensure full-time, permanent and productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans.

The provisions of a nationwide Employers Responsibility Act would include—but not be limited to—the following.   (The first three were listed in Part Two of this series.)

(4) A company that acquired another—through a merger or buyout—would be forbidden to fire en masse the career employees of that acquired company.

This would be comparable to the protection existing for career civil service employees. Such a ban would prevent a return to the predatory “corporate raiding” practices of the 1980s, which left so much human and economic wreckage in their wake.

The wholesale firing of employees would trigger the prosecution of the company’s new owners. Employees could still be fired, but only for provable just cause, and only on a case-by-case basis.

(5) Employers would be required to provide full medical and pension benefits for all employees, regardless of their full-time or part-time status.

Increasingly, employers are replacing full-time workers with part-time ones—solely to avoid paying medical and pension benefits. Requiring employers to act humanely and responsibly toward all their employees would encourage them to provide full-time positions—and hasten the death of this greed-based practice.

(6) Employers of part-time workers would be required to comply with all federal labor laws.

Under current law, part-time employees are not protected against such abuses as discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions. Closing this loophole would immediately create two positive results:

(a) Untold numbers of currently-exploited workers would be protected from the abuses of predatory employers; and

(b) Even predatorily-inclined employers would be encouraged to offer permanent, fulltime jobs rather than only part-time ones—since a major incentive for offering part-time jobs would now be eliminated.

(7) Employers would be encouraged to hire to their widest possible limits, through a combination of financial incentives and legal sanctions.

Among those incentives: Employers demonstrating a willingness to hire would receive substantial Federal tax credits, based on the number of new, permanent employees hired per year.
Employers claiming eligibility for such credits would be required to make their financial records available to Federal investigators. Employers found making false claims would be prosecuted for perjury and tax fraud, and face heavy fines and imprisonment if convicted.

(8) Among those sanctions: Employers refusing to hire could be required to prove, in court:

(a) their economic inability to hire further employees, and/or
(b) the unfitness of the specific, rejected applicant.

Companies found guilty of unjustifiably refusing to hire would face the same penalties as now applying in cases of discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex and disability.
Employers would thus fund it easier to hire than to refuse to do so. Job-seekers would no longer be prevented from even being considered for employment because of arbitrary and interminable “hiring freezes.”

(9) Employers refusing to hire would be required to pay an additional “crime tax.”

Sociologists and criminologists agree that “the best cure for crime is a job.” Thus, employers who refuse to hire contribute to a growing crime rate in this Nation. Such non-hiring employers would be required to pay an additional tax, which would be earmarked for agencies of the criminal justice system at State and Federal levels.

(10) The seeking of “economic incentives” by companies in return for moving to or remaining in cities/states would be strictly forbidden.

Such “economic incentives” usually:

(a) allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting employees from unsafe working conditions;
(b) allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting the environment;
(c) allow employers to pay their employees the lowest acceptable wages, in return for the “privilege” of working at these companies; and/or
(d) allow employers to pay little or no business taxes, at the expense of communities who are required to make up for lost tax revenues.

(11) Employers who continue to make such overtures would be prosecuted for attempted bribery or extortion:
(a) Bribery, if they offered to move to a city/state in return for “economic incentives,” or

(b) Extortion, if they threatened to move their companies from a city/state if they did not receive such “economic incentives.”

This would protect employees against artificially-depressed wages and unsafe working conditions; protect the environment in which these employees live; and protect cities/states from being pitted against one another at the expense of their economic prosperity.

(12) The U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor would regularly monitor the extent of employer compliance with the provisions of this Act.

Among these measures: Sending undercover agents, posing as highly-qualified job-seekers, to apply at companies—and then vigorously prosecuting those employers who blatantly refused to hire despite their proven economic ability to do so.

This would be comparable to the long-time and legally-validated practice of using undercover agents to determine compliance with fair-housing laws.

(13) CEOs whose companies employ illegal aliens would be held directly accountable for the actions of their subordinates. Upon conviction, the CEO would be sentenced to a mandatory prison term of at least ten years.

This would prove a more effective remedy for combating illegal immigration than stationing tens of thousands of soldiers on the U.S./Mexican border. With CEOs forced to account for their subordinates’ actions, they would take drastic steps to ensure their companies complied with Federal immigration laws. Without employers’ systematically hiring illegal aliens at a fraction of the money paid to American workers, the flood of illegal job-seekers would quickly slow to a trickle.

(14) A portion of employers’ existing Federal taxes would be set aside to create a national clearinghouse for placing unemployed but qualified job-seekers.

PUNISHING CORPORATE TREASON – PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

For 50 years–1920 to 1970–organized crime flourished throughout the United States.   Individual Mafiosi were sometimes arrested, tried and even convicted, but there was no national effort made to attack organized crime on a comprehensive basis.

Then, in 1970, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).  It provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

RICO focuses specifically on racketeering, and allows for the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to carry out.   This closed a loophole that allowed the man who ordered a murder to be exempt from prosecution because he didn’t commit it.

The result has been the shutting down of  thousands of  criminal networks.

Yet when it comes to recognizing–let alone combating–the crimes of major corporations, America remains mired in the same mindset that long handicapped law enforcement agencies trying to combat the Mafia.

The most powerful men in the Democratic and Republican parties know that millions of willing-to-work Americans are still desperately searching for employment.  And they also know that U.S. corporations are still refusing to hirewhile they sit on nearly $2 trillion in cash.  

Yet not one of these officials has the courage to step forward and propose a realistic, workable solution for it.

Republicans, of course, have trotted out their knee-jerk solution to unemployment:  Give even greater tax breaks to mega-rich corporations.  And this has been tried–time and again.

But this has not persuaded corporations to stop “outsourcing” jobs or start hiring Americans in significant numbers.

While hugely overpaid CEOs squander corporate wealth on gifts for themselves or their mistresses, millions of Americans can’t afford medical care or must depend on charity to feed their families.

But America can end this national disaster–and embarrassment.

The solution lies in remembering that the powerful never voluntarily surrender their privileges.  Americans did not win their freedom from Great Britain–-and its enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of kings”-–by begging for their rights.

And Americans will not win their freedom from their corporate masters–-and the equally enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of employers”-–by begging for the right to work and support themselves and their families.

A policy based only on concessions–such as endless tax breaks for hugely profitable corporations and their disgracefully overpaid CEOs–is a policy of appeasement.

And appeasement only whets the appetite of those appeased for even greater concessions.

It is, in short,well past time to hold wealthy and powerful corporations accountable for their socially and financially irresponsible acts.

This solution can be summed up in three words: Employers Responsibility Act.

If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, an ERA would ensure full-time, permanent and productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans.

And it would achieve this without raising taxes or creating controversial government “make work” programs.

An Employers Responsibility Act would simultaneously address the following evils for which employers are directly responsible:

• The loss of jobs within the United States owing to companies’ moving their operations abroad—solely to pay substandard wages to their new employees.
• The mass firings of employees which usually accompany corporate mergers or acquisitions.
• The widespread victimization of part-time employees, who are not legally protected against such threats as racial discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions.
• The refusal of many employers to create better than menial, low-wage jobs.
• The widespread employer practice of extorting “economic incentives” from cities or states in return for moving to or remaining in those areas. Such “incentives” usually absolve employers from complying with laws protecting the environment and/or workers’ rights.
• The refusal of many employers to provide medical and pension benefits—nearly always in the case of part-time employees, and, increasingly, for full-time, permanent ones as well.
• Rising crime rates, due to rising unemployment.

The provisions of a nationwide Employers Responsibility Act would include—but not be limited to—the following:

(1) American companies that close plants in the United States and open others abroad would be forbidden to sell products made in those foreign plants within the United States.

This would protect both American and foreign workers from employers seeking to profit at their expense. American workers would be ensured of continued employment. And foreign laborers would be protected against substandard wages and working conditions.

Companies found violating this provision would be subject to Federal criminal prosecution. Guilty verdicts would result in heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment for their owners and top managers.

(2) Large companies (those employing more than 100 persons) would be required to create entry-level training programs for new, future employees.

These would be modeled on programs now existing for public employees, such as firefighters, police officers and members of the armed services. Such programs would remove the employer excuse, “I’m sorry, but we can’t hire you because you’ve never had any experience in this line of work.” After all, the Air Force has never rejected an applicant because, “I’m sorry, but you’ve never flown a plane before.”

This Nation has greatly benefited from the humane and professional efforts of the men and women who have graduated from public-sector training programs. There is no reason for the private sector to shun programs that have succeeded so brilliantly for the public sector.

(3) Employers would receive tax credits for creating professional, well-paying, full-time jobs.

This would encourage the creation of better than the menial, dead-end, low-paying and often part-time jobs which exist in the service industry. Employers found using such tax credits for any other purpose would be prosecuted for tax fraud.

PUNISHING CORPORATE TREASON – PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Politics on May 16, 2011 at 12:42 am

In the 1983 political thriller, Gorky Park, Detective Arkardy Renko seeks the aid of Professor Andreev, a brilliant forensics expert, to solve a triple murder. But the expert wants nothing to do with the case–until this exchange:

RENKO: Professor, too many people in our society disappear without trace.

PROFESSOR ANDREEV: Oh? Why is that?

RENKO: They fall into a chasm.

PROFESSOR ANDREEV: What sort of chasm?

RENKO: The one between what is said and what is done.

What was true for the Soviet Union remains equally true for the United States–at least where major corporate employers are concerned.

Millions of highly-qualified, willing-to-work Americans continue to fall into an unemployment chasm–a chasm between what employers claim to value in an applicant and the actual reasons why they hire.

Thousands of non-hiring employers continue to blame the unemployed for the nation’s high unemployment rate:

“You just don’t have enough experience for us.”

“You’re too experienced for the level we’re hiring at.”

“We’re looking for someone with a more specialized background.”

“We’re looking for someone we don’t have to re-train to do this job our way.”

“Your resume could use more work.”

If you add the number of unemployed

14.5 million

to the number of those who are under-employed (part-time workers who can’t find fulltime work or are overqualified)

11.2 million

the total of Americans who are looking for work is:

25.7 million

or 1 in 6 workers.

At the same time, U.S. corporations sit on nearly $2 trillion in cash.

Among the monies they sit upon are those that could be used to hire those millions of qualified, willing-to-work Americans who can’t find fulltime, permanent work.

An article in the March, 2011 issue of Reader’s Digest gives the lie to the excuses so many employers use for refusing to hire.

Entitled “22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting a Job,” it lays bare many of the reasons why America needs to legally force employers to demonstrate as much responsibility for hiring as job-seekers are expected to show toward searching for work.

Among the truths it reveals:

TRUTH NO: 1: Once you’re unemployed more than six months, you’re considered unemployable.

TRUTH NO. 2: As you’ve always suspected: It’s not what but who you know that counts.

TRUTH NO. 3: If you can, avoid HR entirely and seek out someone in the company you know. If you don’t know anyone, go straight to the hiring manager.

TRUTH NO. 4: Don’t assume that someone will read your cover letter. Many of them go straight into the garbage can.

TRUTH NO. 5: You will be judged on the basis of your email address–especially if it’s something like “Igetwasted@aol.com.”

TRUTH NO. 6: Don’t assume you’re protected against age discrimination just because it’s against the law. If you’re in your 50s or 60s, leave your year of graduation off your resume.

TRUTH NO: 7: Don’t assume you’re protected from unemployment just because it’s illegal to discriminate against applicants who have children. Many managers don’t want to hire people with children, and will go to illegal lengths to find out their parental status–like checking an applicant’s car for child safety seats.

TRUTH NO. 8: It’s harder to get a job if you’re fat. Hiring managers make quick judgments based on stereotypes.

TRUTH NO. 9: Many managers will assume you’re a loser if you give them a weak handshake.

TRUTH NO. 10: Encourage the interviewer to talk–especially about himself. Ego-driven interviewers love hearing the sound of their own voices and will assume you’re better-qualified than someone who doesn’t want to listen to them prattle.

Polls indicate that Americans continue to blame President Obama for the nation’s high unemployment rate. But no President can hope to turn unemployment around until employers are forced to start living up to their responsibilities.

And those responsibilities should encompass more than simply fattening their own pocketbooks and/or egos at the expense of their fellow Americans.

For more than 50 years, Republicans have hurled the charge of “treason!” at anyone who runs against them or disagrees with them. In short: at anyone who dares to exercise their Constitutionally-given rights to vote and speak and believe as they choose.

It is past time for “treason” to be re-defined–as a deliberate action that harms the nation.

Employers who enrich themselves by weakening their country–by throwing millions of qualified workers into the street and moving their plants to other countries–are traitors.

Employers who set up offshore accounts to claim their American companies are foreign-owned–and thus exempt from taxes–are traitors.

Employers who systematically violate Federal immigration laws–to hire illegal aliens instead of willing-to-work Americans–are traitors.

America is currently at war with Afghanistan and Iraq–and may soon be at war with Pakistan. Traditionally, in times of war, the penalty for treason has been death.

If that seems a heavy price for those who sell out their fellow Americans, there is an alternative: Mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least ten years for those who engage in such behavior.

As Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern politics, warns in his masterwork, The Discourses:

All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it.

If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself. But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.

Where the crimes of corporate employers are concerned, we do not have to wait for their evil disposition to reveal itself. It has been fully revealed for decades. We need only find the courage to redress the costly outrages we see every day in the workplace.

A TALE OF TWO KILLINGS – PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

They both had beards. They both saw military action. They both passionately hated the United States. They both died in a hail of bullets.

And immediately after their deaths, both of them seemed to disappear from the face of the earth.

Ernesto “Che” Guevera and Osama bin Laden. The former Cuban revolutionary died on October 9, 1967, at the hands of a CIA-directed operation run by the Bolivian army.

The latter mastermind of Al Qaeda met his end on May 1, 2011, during a raid by U.S. Navy SEALS on his compound in Pakistan.

One man–Guevera–has since attained secular sainthood in the eyes of millions of Communists and their sympathizers.

The other–bin Laden–has attained instant “martyr” status in the eyes of untold numbers of Islamic terrArabists and their sympathizers throughout the world.

Both men plotted constantly against the United States and eagerly sought its destruction.

In November, 1962, during an interview with the London Daily Worker, Guevera raged against the Soviet Union’s recent withdraal of nuclear missiles from Cuba. Those “thirteen days” of the Cuban Missile Crisis that October had brought the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust.

“If the missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of the United States, including New York,” said Guevera. “We must never establish peaceful coexistence. We must walk the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims.”

Similarly, until the end of his life, bin Laden demanded more 9/11-style attacks against the American heartland. This brought him into conflict with other Al Qaeda members who wanted to launch assaults on more vulnerable targets outside the United States.

Guevera met his fate as follows:

On November 3, 1966, he secretly arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, intent on re-staging the Cuban revolution among the Bolivian peasantry. But the peasants showed no interest in his aims and in fact reported his movements to the army.

The army, in turn, was being advised by Green Berets under the direction of the CIA. On October 7, 1967, an informant apprised the Bolivian Special Forces of the location of Guevara’s guerrilla encampment in the Yuro ravine.

On October 8, they encircled the area with 1,800 soldiers, and Guevara was wounded and taken prisoner while leading a detachment. His rifle broken by a lucky shot, a twice-wounded Guevara shouted: “Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead.”

Quickly informed of Guevera’s capture, officials of the Bolivian government debated his fate: Should he be immediately executed or placed on trial?

On the morning of October 9, Bolivian President René Barrientos ordered that Guevara be killed. Placing Guevera on trial would create an international media circus and/or render Bolivia vulnerable to efforts to free him.

Since the Bolivian government planned to state that Guevera had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army, special instructions were issued. These came from Félix Rodríguez, a CIA agent acting as advisor to the Bolivians.

The executioner would be Mario Terán, a Bolivian army sergeant who had lost three of his friends in an earlier firefight with Guevara’s band of guerrillas.

Rodríguez ordered Terán to aim carefully to make it appear that Guevara had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army.

To his surprise, Rodriguez found himself personally impressed with Guevera’s courage. When Rodriguez informed him of his imminent execution, Guevera blanched, then quickly got control of himself: “It is better like this. I should never have been captured alive.”

Rodriguez asked if he had any messages for his family, and Che replied: “Tell Fidel that he will soon see a triumphant revolution in America. And tell my wife to remarry and try to be happy.”

When Sergeant Terán entered the hut, Che Guevara told his executioner, “I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward! You are only going to kill a man!”

Terán hesitated, then opened fire with his semiautomatic rifle, hitting Guevara in the arms and legs. Guevara writhed on the ground, apparently biting one of his wrists to avoid crying out. Terán then fired several times again, wounding him fatally in the chest.

In all, Guevara was shot nine times: five times in the legs, once in the right shoulder and arm, once in the chest, and once in the throat.

But killing Guevera was not enough for the Bolivian government. He had to seem to disappear from the face of the earth.

On October 10, 1967, Guevara’s body was flown to nearby Vallegrande, where photographs were taken of him lying on a concrete slab in the laundry room of the Nuestra Señora de Malta. Several witnesses were called to confirm that it was Guevara.

As hundreds of local residents filed past the body, many of them considered Guevara’s corpse to represent a “Christ-like” visage. Some of them even surreptitiously clipped locks of his hair as divine relics.

After a military doctor amputated his hands, Bolivian army officers transferred Guevara’s body to an undisclosed location and refused to reveal whether his remains had been buried or cremated.

The hands were preserved in formaldehyde to be sent to Buenos Aires for fingerprint identification. (His fingerprints were on file with the Argentine police.) They were later sent to Cuba.

On October 15, Fidel Castro acknowledged that Guevara was dead and proclaimed three days of public mourning throughout Cuba. Addressing a crowd of one million mourners in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución on October 18, Castro eulogized Che’s character as a revolutionary:

“If we wish to express what we want the men of future generations to be, we must say: Let them be like Che! If we wish to say how we want our children to be educated, we must say without hesitation: We want them to be educated in Che’s spirit!

“If we want the model of a man, who does not belong to our times but to the future, I say from the depths of my heart that such a model, without a single stain on his conduct, without a single stain on his action, is Che!”

TREASON AND ITS BUREAUCRATIC PROMOTERS – PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on May 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm

For more than a half-century, the bureaucrats of the Republican Party have accused their Democratic opponents of treason to gain and retain political power in America. And it has proven a potent, vote-getting weapon.

On March 9, 1954, Edward R. Murrow, the most respected broadcast journalist in America, assailed the “smear-and-fear” tactics of Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The forum was Murrow’s highly-rated documentary series, “See It Now.” The truth of Murrow’s remarks has outlasted the briefness of that 30-minute program.

They could have been applied to the “lie and deny” methods of the Presidency of Richard M. Nixon.

And to the Red-baiting attacks made by Republicans against President Bill Clinton.

And to the ongoing character assaults made by right-wingers against President Barack Obama.

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” warned Murrow in that broadcast. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men–not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular….

“We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities….

“We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home….

“Cassius was right. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’”

Fast forward 57 years, to April 27, 2011. Murrow has been dead since 1965. Yet an echo of his words hung in the air as President Barack Obama addressed a hastily-called press conference.

The reason: To release the long-form of his Hawaiian birth certificate–and to hopefully lay to rest the Republican slander that he was not an American citizen, thus making him ineligible to hold office as President.

“I know that there is going to be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest,” Obama said. “But I am speaking for the vast majority of the American people as well as for the press.

“We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve.”

“We are not going to be able to do it if we are distracted, we are not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other … if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts, we are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers.”

Chief among the “carnival barkers” Obama was referring to was Donald Trump, the endlessly self-promoting business tycoon.

Declaring himself a possible candidate for President in 2012, Trump had latched onto the “birther” issue as a guaranteed way to capture the attention–and votes–of the radical right.

For everyone but the most extremist right-wingers, Obama’s dramatic performance laid to rest the “birther” issue.

But the President had another–and far more important–surprise to unveil: His answer to those rightists who accused him of being a secret Muslim, intent on “selling out” America’s security to his Islamic “masters.”

And on May 1, he announced the solving of one of those “big problems”: Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, had been tracked down and shot dead by elite U.S. Navy SEALS in Pakistan.

For the moment, most of the slander-peddlers in the Republican Party bureaucracy fell silent. This was especially after Obama announced the death of Bin Laden.

Still, the legacy of hate and fear-mongering goes on. There is a good reason for this: Republicans have found, repeatedly, that attacking the patriotism of their opponents is an effective vote-getter.

• It hurtled Dwight Eisenhower into the White House and Republicans into Congress in 1952 and 1956 and
• elected Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972 .
• It gave control of the White House to Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 and
• gave it to George H.W. Bush in 1988.
• And even though Bill Clinton won the Presidency in 1992, it gave Republicans control of the Congress in 1994.
• It gave them the White House to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
• It gave control of the House to Republicans in 2010, thus undermining the financial and healthcare reforms planned by Obama.

And, coming this July, the bureaucracy of the Republican Party will expand its “Treason!” accusation even further. No longer will only Democratic candidates for office and their supporters be targets for such slander.

Now the victims will include the tens of thousands of police, firefighters, construction workers and others who risked their lives to save their fellow Americans on 9/11.

They will soon be informed that their names must be run through the FBI’s terrorism watch list. Any of the responders who are notcompared to the database of suspected terrorists will be barred from getting treatment for their numerous, worsening ailments.

It’s a “gift” that comes to them courtesy of Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and the Republican Party.

In 2010, Congress passed the Democratically-sponsored James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Law to address those ailments.

But to win passage of the legislation, Democrats were forced to accept an amendment that deliberately casts a slur on the men and women who had answered their country’s call in its supreme moment of agony.

Thus, self-righteous right-wing legislators, who never lifted a beam from a trapped 9/11 survivor or inhaled toxic fumes that spewed from the crater that was once the World Trade Center, will be standing in judgment over those who did.

TREASON AND ITS BUREAUCRATIC PROMOTERS – PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 10, 2011 at 11:28 am

The tens of thousands of police, firefighters, construction workers and others who risked their lives to save their fellow Americans on 9/11 have an unexpected–and undeserved–surprise coming.

They will soon be informed that their names must be run through the FBI’s terrorism watch list.

Any of the responders who are not compared to the database of suspected terrorists will be barred from getting treatment for their numerous, worsening ailments.

It’s a “gift” that comes to them courtesy of Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and the bureaucracy of the Republican Party.

In 2010, Congress passed the Democratically-sponsored James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Law to address those ailments.

But to win passage of the legislation, Democrats were forced to accept an amendment that deliberately casts a slur on the men and women who had answered their country’s call in its supreme moment of agony.

Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, has informed medical providers and administrators that they should begin letting patients know before the new program kicks in this July.

Specifically, patients seeking help under 9/11 treatment and monitoring programs will be told that their names, birthplaces, addresses, government ID numbers and other personal data will be provided to the FBI to ensure they are not terrorists.

Howard’s instructions to medical providers include a sample letter to responders designed to minimize alarm.

“Although neither we nor [the Centers for Disease Control]/NIOSH anticipate the name of any individual in the current Programs will be on the list, CDC/NIOSH is expressly required by law to implement this particular requirement of the Act.

“Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to working with you and ensuring that you continue to receive uninterrupted services under the new WTC Health Program,” it concludes.

This is not the first time Republicans have slandered the patriotism their fellow Americans to gain and retain political power.

Since the end of World War 11, Republicans have regularly hurled the charge of “treason” against anyone who dared to run against them for office or think other than Republican-sponsored thoughts.

Republicans–who had been locked out of the White House from 1933 to 1952–found that attacking the integrity of their fellow Americans highly effective in winning elections.

During the 1950s, Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy rode a wave of paranoia to national prominence. On February 9, 1950, he claimed, for example: “The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”

After four years of such frenzied attacks on Congress, the State Department and respected journalists such as Edward R. Murrow, McCarthy finally overstepped himself. He accused the United States Army of being an active hotbed for Communists.

The result were the Army-McCarthy hearings, where McCarthy’s credibility was forever destroyed. He was finally censured by his fellow Senators and disappeared into anonymity, alcoholism and death in 1957.

The fact that McCarthy never uncovered one actual case of treason was conveniently overlooked during his lifetime. And today, right-wing columnists like Ann Coulter try to rehabilitate his memory–just as right-wingers in Russia still try to rehabilitate the memory of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Nevertheless, the success of McCarthy’s treason-charged rhetoric proved too heady for other Republicans to resist. Among those who have hurled similar charges–and greatly profited from them–are:

• President Richard Nixon
• His vice president, Spiro Agnew
• Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
• Former Congressman Dick Armey
• President George W. Bush
• Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin
• Congresswoman Michelle Bachman
• Rush Limbaugh
• Glen Beck
• Sean Hannity
• Bill O’Reilly.

The election of Barack Obama pushed the “treason chorus” to new heights of infamy. With no political scandal (such as Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky) to fasten on, the bureaucracy of the Republican Party deliberately promoted the slander that Obama was not an American citizen.

The natural conclusion from this could only be that he was an illegitimate President, and should be removed from office.

Republican bureaucrats also claimed–sometimes openly, sometimes in secret–that Obama was really a Muslim.

During the 1992 Presidential election, Republicans charged that Bill Clinton was a secret agent of the Communists because, as a student, he had once visited Moscow. During the 2008 Presidential race, Republicans charged that Obama intended to sell out America’s security to his Muslim “masters.”

To the dismay of his enemies, Obama–in the course of a single week–dramatically proved the falsity of both charges.

On April 27, he released the long-form of his Hawaii birth certificate.

“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” said Obama at a press conference, speaking as a father might to a roomful of spiteful children. “We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve.

“We are not going to be able to do it if we are distracted, we are not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other …if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts, we are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers,”

And on May 1, he announced the solving of one of those “big problems”: Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, had been tracked down and shot dead by elite U.S. Navy SEALS in Pakistan.

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