The American author Adam Hochschild on the British struggle to abolish slavery: one of the most ambitious and brilliantly organised citizens' movements of all time, the forerunner of the human rights movements of the last century. Its birth - among a group of Quakers and two Anglican activists - coincided with the departure of the First Fleet of convicts to Botany Bay. Its ultimate success, with the emancipation bill of 1831, preceded the ending of transportation to Australia.
Why Aren't Progressives Disrupting ObamaCare Town Halls?
Many progressives are getting all bent out of shape over the "brown shirt" rabble organized by health industry PR firms to disrupt the so-called "town meetings" being organized all over the country by Democratic members of Congress.
What they are conveniently forgetting is that these are not really "town meetings" at all, at least in the sense of the town meetings I grew up with, and started out covering as a young journalist in Connecticut--that is, meetings called and run democratically, with leaders elected from the floor, open to all residents of a community.
These "town meetings" are really nothing but propaganda sessions run by members of Congress who are trying to burnish their fraudulent credentials as public servants, and trying to perpetrate a huge fraud of a health care bill that purports to be a progressive "reform" of the US health care system, but that actually further entrenches the control of that system by the insurance industry, and to a lesser extent, the hospital and drug industry.
ObamaCare is to health reform what bank bailouts are to financial system reform, which is to say it is the opposite of what its name implies.
The right-wing nuts who cry that ObamaCare is introducing euthanasia for the elderly and infirm, or that it is socialism, are ignorant wackos, to be sure, but they are right about one thing: Americans are about to be royally screwed on health care reform by the president and the Democratic Congress, just as they've been screwed by them on financial system "reform."
The appropriate response to this screw-job is the one the right has adopted: shut these sham "town meetings" down, and run the sell-out politicians out of town on a rail, preferably coated in tar and feathers they way the snake-oil salesmen of old used to be handled!
Martin Luther King Would Have Loved the Teabaggers, Not Called Them Racists
A few weeks ago, I attended the teabagger protests in D.C. The thing I noticed the most about the folks there was that, for the most part, they were friendly, nice, hardworking people. Sure, there were some crazies; sure, there were some racists. For the most part, though, they looked like the type of folks I grew up with in the labor movement, coming to D.C. to participate in a protest and spend the rest of the weekend taking in some monuments and museums. These weren't rich suburbanites; the teabaggers I saw were mainly poor people, whose trip to D.C. was probably the only the vacation they would be able to afford this year.
Fascist America III: Resistance for the Long Haul
Nothin' but good times ahead. Now that they're organized up and had a little practice, the possibilities for further mayhem are limited only by the boundless paranoia and unfettered fantasies of the right-wing mind. Out at our local county fair this past weekend, the GOP booth was festooned with a wide array of buttons, tees, and bumper stickers proclaiming the owner's status as a "Proud Member of the Right-Wing Mob," and other similarly, um, assertively empowered sentiments. Judging from the general belligerence of the collection on offer, that seems to be the GOP's whole political identity now. They're determined to move boldly into 2010 as the party of America's union-, immigrant-, democracy-, and (if necessary) head-busting squadristi -- and they're damn proud of it all, you betcha.
Conyers Explains Why He Didn't Push Impeachment
I recall suggesting that Conyers might have "sold-out", after which most of his staff refused to speak to me. I'm sure someone did call him a traitor, and I can't imagine what's worse than that. Perhaps someone said that he was complicit in the death of 1.3 million Iraqis. That's pretty bad. But that charge would not be baseless. We had a situation in which a majority of Americans wanted impeachment, a majority of Conyers' constituents (including his wife) wanted impeachment, 100 cities passed resolutions demanding impeachment, impeachment resolutions were introduced and referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the chairman of that committee believed the offenses were "among the most impeachable in our nation's history," the charges included the launching of the war on Iraq, and the chairman refused to act. It's possible that his actions would have failed in the House or the Senate. It's possible that his actions, whether failing or succeeding, would have had some other negative consequence. But the fact was that he refused to try, and as many of us read the Constitution that was a failure of duty.
Destroying the Democratic Majority
Meanwhile the bill itself will force people to buy insurance, provides inadequate subsidies, and falls hardest on the middle class and young people—forcing them to spend a huge chunk of their discretionary income on average, and doubtless pushing many families into bankruptcy (plenty are on the verge, it is impossible to imagine that this won’t push them over the edge).
The Inhuman Stain: Saying Yes to State Terror
I've been writing about the case of Maher Arar since December 2003. He is the innocent Canadian man who was seized by U.S officials on his way back to Canada and then, at the order of the Justice Department, "renditioned" to Syria, where it was known that the authorities would torture the alleged "terrorist." They did, brutally. He was finally released, and his innocence was confirmed by the Canadian government, which paid him some $9 million for its part in his ordeal. – The United States, on the other hand, made no apologies, no restitution; instead, the government has resolutely blocked any attempt by Arar to seek justice in American courts.
Exclusive: I Was Kidnapped by the CIA
There is nothing particularly unusual about Abu Omar's story. Torture is a standard investigative technique of Egypt's intelligence services and police, as the State Department and human rights organizations have documented myriad times over the years. What is somewhat unusual is that Abu Omar ended up inside Egypt's torture chambers courtesy of the United States, via an "extraordinary rendition"—in this case, a spectacular daylight kidnapping by the Central Intelligence Agency on the streets of Milan, Italy.
Stone Walls and Steel Bars: America's War on its Own Keeps Raging
The cruel and unusual punitiveness of American society is a frequent topic on these page. (The most recent piece is here.) No nation on earth puts as many of its people in jail -- both in real numbers and as a percentage of the population. And few if any have "justice" systems so savagely targeted at racial minorities. For the past 30 years -- concurrent with the organized effort by the monied, militarized elite to destroy any and all restraints on their predatory appetites -- the United States has waged an unrelenting war on its black population, and on other minority and marginalized groups as well.