Burger King digested
Ashcroft stalks librarians
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is difficult to fight an enemy whose dimensions are almost impossible
to envision, a foe that ravages the landscape from such heights and
at speeds that human minds are not wired to grasp. Corporate financial
entities soar like huge, crazed flocks of Japanese movie "Rodan"
flying dinosaurs or mythic Chinese dragons, flattening cities with the
flap of their wings and burning up rain forests and national economies
in one foul blast of mega-breath.
I had convinced
myself that I had been making progress in adjusting my worldview to
the global scope of capital's predatory range - when suddenly it ate
up Burger King, without even a belch.
Then came the aftershock,
even more disturbing than the casual sale to a faceless conglomerate:
Burger King, the world's number two hamburger icon, employer of last
or first resort, repository of what passes for America's proud culture,
and epicenter of thousands of ghetto franchise dreams, is worth less
than a "mistake" on Worldcom's financial statement.
Diageo PLC, the
world's largest liquor company, let Burger King go for $2.26 billion
in cash. In the days before Rodans and dragons filled the skies, that
would have seemed like a lot of money. Not anymore. This summer, the
corporate citizen known as Worldcom was forced to admit that it "misstated"
items on its Expense columns by $3.8 billion. This "mistake"
- which may turn out to be just one fraud among many - is worth 1.7
times as much as the company at the heart of Burger King!
should observe a whole bunch of moments of silence. What were these
brothers thinking, while dreaming those dreams of "economic parity,"
one franchise at a time? In a world in which all of Burger King hardly
rates as a snack, a puny tidbit not much more than half the size of
one accounting crime at a single corporate headquarters, human-scale
acquisition is no political or "race" strategy at all.
Only entire peoples,
mobilized in ways not yet imagined, can tame these dragons.
Thou shalt know
For the crime of
stealing the equivalent of 1.7 Burger King Corporations, two Worldcom
executives were arrested, early this month. It used to be that you had
to steal whole countries to haul away that kind of booty. Reporters
wanted some sentencing guidelines from Attorney General John Ashcroft,
the fire and brimstone preacher-lawman.
executives who cheat investors, steal savings and squander pensions
will meet the judgment they fear and the punishment they deserve,"
intoned the Man of Justice, sounding like God talking to Charleston
Heston playing Moses - but saying absolutely nothing. Ashcroft just
likes using the words "fear" and "punishment." He
doesn't mean it, but it makes him feel good in secret places.
also has a thing for librarians. Under the terms of the Patriot Act,
passed overwhelmingly by Congress in the weeks following 9/11, Ashcroft's
FBI agents have been harassing the hell out of librarians, asking who
borrowed what books on which subjects. For the first time since the
1970s, this is all perfectly legal, requiring only an easily obtained
warrant. All that the bureau needs to tell a judge is that the information
sought is "relevant" to an "ongoing investigation"
of some kind.
According to the
online publication Working Assets, "a University of Illinois survey
found that in January and February alone, 85 of 1,020 randomly selected
public libraries admitted that law enforcement officers had demanded
information about patrons." However, the number is almost certainly
far larger, since a gag order forbids the harried librarians from talking
about the data base searches to anyone except a lawyer.
Ghetto wisdom must
be employed to assess the ramifications of this kind of thuggish behavior:
If Ashcroft's boys are treating little old white ladies in this manner,
what do you think they'll do to us ? With the Constitution on
hold, these "patriots" don't know how to "act."
Booker in the
When Cory Booker's
Hard Right-funded "Black Trojan Horse Express" roared toward
Newark, New Jersey's City Hall, the entire national corporate media
were onboard, cheering the "stealth" candidate on against
four-term incumbent Sharpe James. The train, designed by the Bradley
Foundation, of Milwaukee, to create a pliant, "alternative Black
leadership" model for the rest of the nation, got derailed. Mayor
James beat the money and the media.
Booker is now roaming
in the political wilderness, having been exposed in his dealings with
the men who financed the racist book, "The Bell Curve," and
who drew up most of the social agenda of the national Republican Party.
This is a lonely place to be, but he will have company soon enough,
as established Black leadership awakens to the threat posed by nominal
Black Democrats fronting for the Right. You can rely on The Black Commentator
to be part of a concerted, systematic effort to identify these treacherous
mercenaries wherever they raise their heads. Hopefully, young careerists
will find it wise to seek some honest route to upward mobility, preferably
a job that does not involve selling out the legacy of one's people.
Booker was "out-ed"
in grand style, in the pages of the National Urban League's State of
Black America 2002 report, released just prior to the venerable organization's
national conference, in Los Angeles, last month. (You can read Dr. Martin
Kilson's section of the report, on the maturation of Black electoral
politics and the Newark campaign, in this issue.)
The press hides
Cory Booker's shame
You would think
that this story would be a must-cover for The New York Times, which
focused extraordinary attention on the Newark race, and for the Star-Ledger,
the hometown paper. Both publications heartily endorsed Booker, after
months of acting as makeup artists, publicists, and all-around boosters
for the first-term councilman. What more compelling story could there
be than that their fair-haired boy had been described as a "stealth
candidate" for the Right in the pages of the most important annual
document issued by any Black source in the nation? The State
of Black America is referenced by journalists all year long, and by
historians for the benefit of posterity. Cory Booker made it into these
pages at the age of 34 - albeit in the worst manner possible.
Yet the New York
Times ran only a cursory Associated Press wire account of the State
of Black America, and did not cover the Urban League conference, at
all. The Star-Ledger, which had served as virtually an arm of the Booker
campaign, took no note of their favorite's catastrophic embarrassment.
These papers, along with 600 reporters representing the major national
media, were sent the same press releases on the State of Black America
report that were received by most of you, our readers. The New York
Times and the Star-Ledger smothered an unquestionably newsworthy event
for purely political purposes.
of course, committed the more egregious crime against the public; it
cannot claim to have an entire world to cover - just Newark and vicinity.
The person in charge of this censorship is a Black man, city editor
M. David Goodwin. We say he is in charge because he vehemently claims
to be, and we believe him.
He is, at the very
least, in charge of Black affairs. Ah, there's the wrinkle! Maybe matters
pertaining to Cory Booker, the "stealth" Black fronting for
the Bradley Foundation, aren't truly Black affairs, after all. Hmmm.
The truth is
news monopolies cannot yet monopolize the news. The State of Black America
report resonates among many thousands of African American movers and
shakers. Very soon, everyone of importance to Booker's previous ambitions
will have read it. Booker will find that he is unwelcome on boards and
committees of progressive organizations, who will refuse to allow him
to use their good offices to cloak his Hard Right backers' agenda, or
to allow themselves to be tainted by his nefarious connections. Indeed,
we are aware that this process had already begun, prior to the National
Urban League report, based largely on our unmasking of Booker.
is not yet old enough to have developed deep ties in the community,
having concentrated his attentions elsewhere in his dash for the mantle
of New Black Leader. He has lots of time ahead of him to do penance,
although we predict he will wind up in a cushy office with a direct
cash line to his benefactors. That would be a more honest way of living
Before anyone starts
is obsessed with Cory Booker, we are well aware that he is only a tool
of his rightwing supporters - the really dangerous people. Booker got
his big introduction to money at the feet of the ubiquitous Bradley
executive Michael Joyce, who caused to be created a previously non-existent
"movement" for school vouchers. The congressional handlers
of that scam on the people most direly in need of quality public education
have introduced a bill to provide vouchers for up to $5,000 for private
schools, including religious schools, in the District of Columbia. Americans
United for Separation of Church and State warn that Washington's public
schools would lose $45 million to the diversion over a five-year period.
Casting U.S. legal
history to the winds, 128 House members are sponsoring a bill to allow
churches to keep their tax-exempt status while campaigning for and endorsing
political candidates, and contributing directly to campaigns. Churches
would even be allowed to produce their own "attack ads," as
long as they don't use a "substantial" part of their budget
in the process.
The broad outlines
of the Republican game plan now become clear. First, ministers are bought
off through the transfer of lucrative government social service contracts
to "faith-based" vendors - a scheme thought up with Bradley
Foundation money. Public subsidies for private, church-based schools
would also fill the church coffers. Then, the thoroughly corrupted congregations
are unleashed as legal political machines, free to spend their surpluses
in self-serving attacks against candidates who support the maintenance
of a public sector safety net. This plan is tailor-made for Black America,
as its designers intended. They dream of herds of Trojan Horses,
led from pulpits.
The racial warfare
begun by Christopher Columbus and his fellow conquistadors never ceased
in much of Latin America. Beneath the public façade of anti-communist
counter-insurgency campaigns in the lands of the Maya, Inca and other
indigenous Americans, financed by the U.S.; beneath the U.S.-funded
coca-eradication programs that target entire regions and populations;
lies the same old imperative: kill the Indians.
Until the collapse
of his extraordinarily lawless and lethal regime in 2000, Japanese-Peruvian
President Alberto Fujimori was Washington's favorite Latin "strongman."
(U.S. reporters who go South seem to love that word for Indian killers;
it probably has something to do with "strong and silent" John
Wayne.) Fujimori waged unrelenting war against the Shining Path guerillas,
whose base was centered in the overwhelmingly Indian region of Peru,
which is also the greenhouse of coca-cultivation.
During the course
of their nightly gatherings in the bars of Lima hotels, much of the
American press corps convinced each other that Peruvian Indians (45%
of the population) and mestizos (37%) were in favor of Fujimori because,
with his Asian features, he looked more like them. Clearly, the
gringos failed to understand the bitter humor of their Indian and mestizo
cab drivers - the usual "sources" of the "local color"
in American press reports.
Fujimori did not
love the Indians back. Before hastily fleeing to his ancestral Japan
under charges of treason and illegal enrichment, Fujimori forcibly sterilized
200,000 Indian women, an apparently essential part of the process of
eradicating coca plants and Shining Path insurgents. "The majority
of the sterilizations took place between 1996 and 2000 in rural areas,
particularly in the country's Andean region. The majority of victims
were poor and illiterate women from the Quechua and Aymara ethnic groups,"
said United Press International.
The Peruvian government
is now back in the hands of its "traditional" rulers from
the white elite, who make up just 15% of the population.
Next door, in Bolivia,
the descendants of Conquistadors have the same problem with the Indian
majority and coca plants. The United States threatened to withdraw all
aid unless the Bolivian legislature chose Washington's candidate for
president of the republic - a University of Chicago-educated millionaire
who, according to press reports, "speaks Spanish with an American
world of hurt
July 24, the United States failed in an attempt to rewrite the 1989
UN convention against torture, justifiably fearing that international
law might find cause to exercise jurisdiction within the American prison
system, the world's largest, per-capita. If the UN persists, some kind
of U.S. declaration of immunity from prohibitions against torture can
earth's sole superpower recognizes no laws other than its own decrees.
For more details
on the library invasion check out this link to Working For Change: