Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Identified as a trouble maker by the authorities since childhood, and resolved to live up to the description, Charles Carreon soon discovered that mischief is most effectively fomented through speech. Having mastered the art of flinging verbal pipe-bombs and molotov cocktails at an early age, he refined his skills by writing legal briefs and journalistic exposes, while developing a poetic style that meandered from the lyrical to the political. Journey with him into the dark caves of the human experience, illuminated by the torch of an outraged sense of injustice.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:44 am



Are you anxious Democrat? Sure we got over the superscary Guiliani candidacy, you say, but how will Obama or Hillary ever perforate the McCandidate? The “straight talker” seems to be well on his way to becoming all things to all kinds of people. He's taken to posing with black people in Louisiana to try and launder his image amongst the downtrodden of our nation. FEAR NOT! McCandidate has a notable Achilles heel. Achilles, as you'll recall, was dipped in the river Lethe (the one that separates the living from the dead in Greek myth), which made him invincible. Kind of like an early form of body armor. The only problem was, when his mother dipped him in the river, she held him by one of his heels, which therefore was not submerged, leaving a chink in his armor, i.e., an Achilles heel. Okay, history lesson over, here's the CATHOLIC-HATING PREACHER that the McCANDIDATE LOVES. His name's JOHN HAGEE, that's JOHN HAGEE, JOHN HAGEE, JOHN HAGEE! Got it? Good. Make sure all your friends, relatives, and water cooler mates know his name, too. Once JOHN HAGEE becomes a household word, the concept of Reverend Wright being a problem for Barack will be old news.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:50 am



Moms Are Hot


I just read that a recently conducted study measured the “attractiveness” of the voice of a sampling of undergraduate women during four times during their reproductive cycle, and found that their voices were most attractive during ovulation. Yes, when they were at risk of becoming Mothers. Oedipus was, of course, onto something. As was Sigmund Freud and Jim Morrison. Moms are hot!

You're probably all squirming in your chairs already, which just goes to show that the whole issue of Mother is filled with cross-currents of biological craziness and emotional dynamite. Which is as it should be, since the difference between having a mother and not having one is the difference between existing and not existing.

Moms Are Cosmic

Mother is the portal between nonexistence and life. Mother is the home where life can develop inside a tiny replica of the ocean, nourished by the food mother eats and the air she breathes, growing through all the evolutionary ages of our species' development, until a new human being is ready to breathe the air of Planet Earth. And then there's Birth.


Driving back from Starbucks through the winding streets of our working class subdivision this morning, I saw a bumpersticker on a van that said “Born OK the First Time!” What a straightforward refutation of the doctrine of Original Sin! St. Ignatius Loyola would be dumbfounded at the utter audacity of such a declaration, and the Inquisition wouldn't even bother to torture someone so obviously born of the Evil One. The man-made religions have been in the business of condemning motherhood and slandering women for millennia, since that whole Garden of Eden myth got ported over from the Middle Eastern herders, through the Romans to Europe, and by the slaveholders and colonizers to the New World, where it spread like an infection of bad architecture all over the continent, causing cross-topped steeples to speckle the land.

Moms Are Slandered

If, after all, a Christian birth is just birth into a state of inherited guilt, that needs to be washed off with a “Baptism,” then motherhood is actually a net negative. I've studied Eastern religions, from Tao to Vedanta to Buddhism, and I don't agree with the way Buddhism is usually taught, because it defines birth as a spiritual blunder, a screwup caused by failing to recognize our own own “Divine” identity. It might be an acceptable metaphor for some people, but to me, it seems like one more slander of Mom.

Small wonder, then, when we look at Mother's Day, we see a celebration of the conventional mother role, in which she serves 364 days a year to be honored like a beloved cow in its stall for the one remaining day. On that day, a good Mom will serve one more purpose, assuaging everyone's guilt over having failed to consider Mom's needs for much of the previous year, kindly forgiving all of her children and trying to enjoy a meal she did not cook. I am not saying that Mothers Day produces no genuine expressions of love – that's ridiculous – I'm just saying that there is a great deal more that we could do to help mothers.

Moms Get Little Help

Mothers, nature has ordained, will care for their offspring. But as is typical of nature, it often infects us with impulses that we cannot fulfill. The inability to fulfill our impulses is frustrating, causes unhappiness and pain. So mothers who cannot care for their children as well as they wish usually suffer even more than their deprived children. It takes so little to become a mother. Oftentimes just the voice that says “I'm ovulating” in some mysterious fashion, is all it takes to provoke a man to make his contribution. And today, many men provide little or nothing more.

As a result, statistically, being a mother in this country means being poor, and saddled with the responsibility to care for your children. Not to mention, continuing to be “sexy,” which means spending more on clothes, makeup and body care than men. Heck, some women might think it prudent to set aside for a pair of new tits and some nips and tucks to rejuvenant their economic viability whenever the biological time bomb of sag and “cellulite” kicks in. And a young mother with nothing more than a high school education, in a society where she can collect tips for dancing without clothes in a local bar, may be inclined to think about that kind of career move.

We Need To Change The Agenda for Mothers

What sordid tales I bring to you! Hallmark Cards will never hire me to spin a ditty, for fear my greetings might rhyme with titty! Well, Lord have pity, I'll just have to post to my blog, because the truth ails me children, that it does. The low-down cotton-pickin' truth is Mothers don't get spit for being Mothers in this society. Here's a non-Hallmark list of questions to focus your attention on the problem:

Do Mothers get free pre-natal care? No.
Do Mothers get free medical care at birth? No.
Do Mothers get free child-care when they go to school or work? No.
Do Mothers get enough in food stamps to feed all their children? No.
Do Mothers get housing subsidies to house all their children? No.

A National Day of Protest

While I understand that our nations leads the world in hypocrisy, I think we're ready to take some steps in the opposite direction. I suggest that until we change the answers to those five questions to “YES,” we should make Mother's Day a national day of protest. No greeting cards, no dinners out, just armies of mothers, out in the streets, demanding their rights. Hallmark and The Olive Garden would have their lobbyists working on it in a heartbeat.

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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:52 am

by Charles Carreon


Since I listen to NPR, I often hear a gentle, liberal voice posing a question from The Templeton Foundation, established by Sir John Templeton, retired millionaire fund manager. Templeton, pictured above, bailed out of the market after a solid career that netted him a final $900 Million payday, and at the age of 95, he's playing philanthropist from his Bahamas-based Templeton Institute, in the operation of which he is assisted by his born-again Christian son, Jack. So Templeton's question, sounding warm and inviting when presented in the voice of an NPR liberal, was something like: “Has science made religion obsolete?”

Well, I said to myself, that's a stupid question for Templeton to ask! Surely he, a man made of cash, should know that it has always been money, not science, that has made religion irrelevant to men. People have been turning arrogantly away from threats of hell when presented with wads of cash ever since the stuff was invented. It is money that turns bankers into con men, boys into killers, and politicians into hypocrites who profess virtue on Sunday, and lie the rest of the week, as well.

Science, making religion obsolete? How could science replace religion? They aren't even used for the same thing. Science is used to satisfy the hunger for truth, the desire to dispel ignorance and illuminate reality, as the Roman natural philosopher Lucretius expressed it so well. Religion is used to blockade the search for truth, to confirm conventional beliefs with the testimony of saints. Religion is used to fill gaps that knowledge never could, and never will.

For example, religions have answered the question, “What happens to us after death?” Science will never tackle this question, since there is no evidence on which to even fashion a hypothesis, much less any way to test your hypothesis if you manage to originate one. And certainly, despite Christ's having reportedly demonstrated his ability to “resurrect” his body after death, the experiment has never been replicated.

Money, on the other hand, serves the primary purpose of religion very well, which is to relieve anxiety about the future. A clergyman who has sexually molested children may fear hell, but he fears a sentence of ten years a great deal more. With enough money, he may cheat judgment by hiring a good lawyer, or fleeing out of the jurisdiction, perhaps back to the sovereign nation of the Vatican, from whence sexual molesters are not extradited. Once safely in Rome, even a monster who has sodomized the little lambs he was sent to protect can obtain absolution. Some prayers, some donations, some crocodile tears, and the matter is accomplished. God is so much easier to bribe than man, but then again, his agents are very understanding about the foibles of men.

Money buys security in this life. Religion buys security in the next. To illustrate how they are put to the identical use, imagine two young nobles, enjoying their wine while the serfs labor outside in the fields. One brother is a secular noble who, under the King's authority, rules with edicts and soldiers over a population of serfs he was free to terrorize, tax and conscript as suited his will. The other brother is a bishop, who rules the same domain with spiritual authority drawn from the Pope and the threat of excommunication, a curse in this life and the next. Lifting a glass of good vin rouge, and looking out the window at the serfs tilling the soil below, the nobleman says to his brother the bishop, “A toast to the two us, my brother, for I rule these people from the cradle to the grave, and you rule them for all eternity.”

Money has always known its place in the scheme of things. You will rarely find a banker having a serious disagreement with a clergyman, and usually they get along as well as the noble brothers in my little vignette. At the worst of times, you find money-changers right in the temple, something that Jesus found offensive, but the bankers found that temples draw the right kind of crowd for financial action, and still build their money-fortresses to resemble Greek and Roman temples.

Money and religion are great reinforcers of hierarchy. Although the Pope may not be saintly, still he commands absolutely reverence, and those without a feel for science may agree that the Pope's official declarations are infallible, despite the obvious errors enunciated with great authority by past and present Popes. The existence of witches, the flatness of the earth, and the virgin birth have all received Papal approval due to hierarchical authority, and not by any means that common sense would call reliable. Similarly, if a man is rich enough and has lots of rich people backing him, he will not be contradicted when he lies, or reprimanded for his poor manners when he is boorish, like the incumbent president, whose lies and churlish remarks are legion, and never has to bear a cross word from anyone.

Science, on the other hand, gives no regard to hierarchy. Let the Pope, the President, or Deepak Chopra say it – it will not be true in the book of science unless it can be proven true by repeatable experiment. Science is an intellectual process that makes it possible to see objects billions of light years away, objects that religion did not prophecy the existence of, and for which money had no need. Science is the beak with which we break the eggshell of ignorance, and that shell is composed illusions solidified by the accretion of centuries of ignorance supported by religion. What will keep us from cracking that illusion is money.

Oh, but you say, without money there is no research. Without research no discovery, without discovery no science. But you are simply wrong. Archimedes made his physics discoveries with the most rudimentary laboratory. Pythagoras measured the distance to the sun with a stick, a shadow, and a map. Newton found inspiration when his lunch hit him on the head. Einstein unraveled the mystery of nuclear energy while daydreaming.

Frankly, the flood of money is leading to the death of Science, and the birth of Expert Witnessing as its replacement. Example: the cause and effect relationship between countless industrial chemicals and cancer is still “not proven,” because the chemical companies will not fund the research, nor will government, enslaved to industry, that is, money. Global warming is similarly the plaything of experts, as if the atmosphere were not a closed container and smoke something that is certain to accumulate and obstruct the passage of light, leading to the retention of heat. Expert Witnesses, acting at the behest of shortsighted industrial money, will delay pronouncing “Science's verdict” on innumerable facts found inconvenient by the state.

Money and religion are not interested in truth, but in convenience. Whenever you ask yourself why the religious and the worldly so often find their interests aligned, remember my little tableaux of the nobleman and the bishop – the cooperation between them will always be tight. The world revealed to the eyes of science may square with some religious notions, but as the Southerners say, even a blind pig finds an acorn sometimes. Attempts to make science religious or religion scientific, are blatantly absurd, for their goals do not support each other. Religion will always preserve vested interests in false beliefs, for the good of the devout, who would otherwise be confused. Likewise, money is always ready to bribe those who cannot be bamboozled with sanctimonious words. The world revealed by money is a phantasmagoria of deceptions that can turn a child into Jon Benet, a Nazi into a man of God, an ordinary woman into Pamela Anderson. The illusionists in this world are the priests and the bankers, who distort our existence to suit the needs of the powerful. Science ends the illusions, regardless of whose position is damaged. That is why it is so unpopular with the powerful, and remains the favorite scapegoat of religion, working hand in glove with money, to keep us all in the dark.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:52 am


I was sitting in an airport bar in Phoenix when I saw them walking across the flatscreen, strong female torsos seen from behind, sheathed in ... in suits I thought, but that wasn't quite right, and then the picture resolved, and I realized they were the polygamous brides of the Texas FLDS sect, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. The women had come, I perceived, to claim their children, snatched from their homes in one of the mass roundups that seem to be practiced with alarming and increasing frequency in this, the Seventh year of the Reign of His Royal Excellency, St. George the Decider.

I applaud the cause of these women, who won an appeal to a three-judge panel from the trial judge's ruling, who had concluded that the forced sequestration of hundreds of children based upon an anonymous, uncorroborated tip, had failed to satisfy the requirements of law. I applaud these women because they did not sit idle as the demonic, man-devouring entity called the State of Texas claimed the fruit of their bodies. Greater hubris and hypocrisy could hardly be imagined than that exhibited by the State of Texas, that clocks in more executions than any other state out of fifty, and has overseen and funded the conduct and coverup of a massive case of omnivorous child abuse pervading the entire juvenile corrections system. That scandal unfolded last year, revealing a gut-turning system of sadistic manipulation in which children's sentences were extended for refusing the sexual favors routinely demanded by corrections officials and their friends. That scandal has not been cleaned up, which is to say the perpetrators have not been locked up, and are biding their time until they can commence to predate upon tender flesh yet again.

Now the State of Texas foists this outrage upon us. Children rounded up, ripped from their birth mothers, put into custody and stranger's homes, and for what? For being the children of incest? Shame, shame, shame on Texas! Did George Bush need a distraction from the national debacle that badly? What could justify this suddenly-conceived, armed takeover of a civil society, however deviant the sexual mores of their patriarch overlords, that had been allowed to thrive in undisturbed isolation for several years? Is this a way for the State Corruption Society to recharge itself with tainted youth, that it can farm out to pedophiles and sadists? I may be crazy, but I'm not daft. There's something rotten in the heart of Texas, and G*d help us if we don't stop it dead in its tracks.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:55 am

PEOPLE ECONOMICS, by Charles Carreon


“When the people's hearts are won by friendship, they undertake hardship willingly, and even lose the fear of death, so great is the power of joy over men.” The Book of Changes, Chapter 58, “Joy.”

Keep Your Eye On the Invisible Hand

Adam Smith was one of the first economists, and those who feel that the government should stay out of labor relations, or at least refrain from supporting the goals of workers and restrict itself to benefiting industry, often claim to quote Adam Smith. They say Smith’s “invisible hand of commerce” will guide the operations of the economy, setting prices for labor, food, and commodities, making wage and price controls such as those Nixon imposed, completely unnecessary and totally objectionable.

Smith's invisible hand makes no distinction between licit and illicit trade, and for years kept the retail price of a quarter-ounce of marijuana at parity with an ounce of gold, and provided johns with twenty-dollar prostitutes and prostitutes with twenty-dollar bags of heroin. All things work together for good in this best of all possible worlds, as Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss would say. Your average person’s knowledge of Adam Smith usually stops at this level, but Smith’s massive work, An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes of The Wealth of Nations, does not exhort us to have faith in an invisible hand that will adjust our economic fortunes into the black, but rather advises us to watch the movement of labor, goods, and money to learn how people adjust prices and engage in trade.

People Create Wealth

People, not an invisible force, drive production and trade. Smith’s metaphor was meant to turn attention to the rather amazing characteristics of the marketplace, much as modern scientists have pointed out the marvelous operations that the planet and living beings perform without conscious thought. It is true that Smith was sanguine about the coexistence of poverty and wealth in a single society, and saw no inherent evil in an economic order that he could describe thus:

“Among civilized and thriving nations … a great number of people do not labour at all [but] consume the produce of ten times, frequently of a hundred times more labour than the greater part of those who work; yet the produce of the whole labour of the society is so great, that all are often abundantly supplied, and a workman, even of the lowest and poorest order, if he is frugal and industrious, may enjoy a greater share of the necessaries and conveniences of life than it is possible for any savage to acquire.”

One would certainly agree that today many consume hundreds or thousands of times what one other person can produce – a fast-food worker working all day in Los Angeles would be unable to even pay for a day’s worth of parking that an executive would simply put on an expense account. It is also true that Ray Kroc, the popularizer of the McDonald’s fast-food system, got his big idea when he was but a traveling salesman selling milkshake mixers in Southern California, so he may very well count as a “frugal and industrious” workman who rose to “enjoy a greater share of the necessaries and conveniences of life.” But Smith’s positive attitude toward disparity of wealth is not the point of his book, and he is well aware that government policies affect the occupations and prosperity of nations and their citizens:

“The policy of some nations has given extraordinary encouragement to the industry of the country; that of others to the industry of towns. Scarce any nation has dealt equally and impartially with every sort of industry. Since the downfall of the Roman empire, the policy of Europe has been more favourable to arts, manufactures, and commerce, the industry of towns; than to agriculture, the industry of the country.”

A good example of differing policies toward similar industries might be the US government practice of licensing industrially-produced narcotics manufactured by pharmaceutical giants, while simultaneously fighting a “war on drugs” by spraying toxic materials on coca crops in Colombia and Bolivia, while simultaneously pumping new life into the opium economies of Afghanistan and Pakistan, resulting in a fresh flow of powerful Asian heroin into our nation.

The new president of Bolivia wants to legitimize coca growing and use of the native plant, that has no more harmful effects on the native population than tea has on the English. He says it can be used to make soap, toothpaste, herbal remedies, and many other useful substances. Dr. Andrew Weil, the new age doctor whose paunchy good health is now advertised from a thousand Sunday magazines, once suggested we substitute coca chewing gum for coffee. Of course, in the US, we’d have people buying a thousand packs of gum, soaking them in a bathtub, washing the result with gasoline to extract the cocaine, and blowing up their house and kids trying to get a buzz. As Adam Smith might say, some people are just savages.

Everything Has Its Price

Having dispensed with the idea that Smith’s Invisible Hand is predestined to provide benefit for humanity, or that it will do the work of wholesome laws made by ethical politicians with the approval of informed citizens, we can move on to what Smith was really saying. Smith’s thesis is that the cost of goods is established by the cost of the labor required to produce them. Nothing has an intrinsic value. Everything is priced according to how much it costs to get a skilled person to produce it.

Gold and Oregon green bud remained at parity for a long time because it cost a similar amount of money in labor to employ poor blacks at starvation wages in South Africa to produce, smelt and ship bars of gold as it did to employ hippies (not very hard workers, but willing to risk getting arrested and to be paid in product) to grow a finicky psychoactive weed in a secret location someplace near Williams, Oregon, and smuggle it to San Francisco. Take note, however, that gold lasts forever unless you lose it down a rathole, and cannabis must be consumed to extract its value, and will become worthless after a couple of years. So you might argue that cannabis is far more costly, since your ounce of gold will last a lifetime, but your bag of pot will be empty next week.

Raiders of Others' Labor

Now that more Indian and Chinese people are getting into the middle class, they are buying more gold for marriage ceremonies, there is greater demand for gold, apartheid is over in South Africa, and people are getting paid a wee bit more to extract gold from the earth, and of course, people who think the dollar is going to sink in value want to buy “hard money.” The notion that gold has a fixed value is, however, utterly mythical. During the “Age of Gold,” Spain and Portugal stole so much gold from the Incas and Aztecs that they flooded the European economy with the damned shiny stuff, reducing its value to one-third, much to the chagrin of other European nations, who found their existing stock of gold ever shrinking in value as the conquerors of the New World became the dominant players in the precious metals market. Spanish gold was cheap, please take note, because they didn’t pay for it – they stole it – so it didn’t reflect the cost of feeding, clothing, and managing the dead Incas and Aztecs whose wealth was thus acquired.

Stealing from other nations is what one anthropology professor of mine called “a raiding economy,” such as was traditional among the Apache Indians of Arizona and Sonora. Once they got horses from the Spanish, who had introduced the whole concept of mounted cavalry to the New World, they started raiding other, richer tribes, and their mounted warriors were skilled at scooping up a goat, a child, or a bag of corn with equal facility while marauding through a little village full of squash-growers. Labor costs are affected by many factors, and different “nations” require people with different skills. A farmer would have fared badly in an Apache tribe, but would be appreciated by the Hopis, who moved way up on high mesas to avoid raiders, and there skillfully collected water in cisterns to feed small irrigated plots of beans, corn and squash using unique methods of dry-farming. Interestingly, the Apaches have adapted to the ways of the white invaders better than most tribes, as their facility on horseback and indisposition to surrender gave them a leg up in the larger economy, and many tribes adopted ranching, farming and logging when they were forced to give up raiding.

Of Brickmakers & Woodcutters

The productivity of a community is enhanced, Smith explained, as people become more skilled in particular productive activities. This is called the “specialization of labor” to exploit “the relative advantage” of different workers. Exploiting “relative advantage” can be illustrated by the story of two couples with different skills. The first couple was Jane and Wanda, two lesbian brickmakers. The second couple was Jeff and Sally, two heterosexual woodcutters. Since they enjoyed each other’s company, the two couples at first decided to work Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on brickmaking, and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays cutting wood. After about a month they took a tally of the bricks and the cords of wood produced, and discovered that they had produced both less bricks and less firewood than when the two couples worked separately. Why? Jeff and Sally were unskilled at making bricks, so they made errors, and Jane and Wanda had to spend time training them, and even then the hetero couple didn’t produce as many usable bricks. The same result occurred when the lesbians tried to cut wood. They weren’t as good at it as Jeff and Sally, and due to their inexperience, produced less wood at greater cost in time. Facing the possibility of not having enough bricks to build the house or enough wood to get through the winter, the two couples focused on what each was best at, and in the end there were not only enough bricks and firewood for their personal use, they had some left over to sell. Eventually, Jane and Wanda adopted some war orphans that they turned into a tribe of little brickmakers, and Jeff and Sally gave birth to several children who were handy with the saw, loved the smell of the woods, and branched off into reforestation. A few generations later, the two couples were barely remembered, but their wise choices left a legacy of brick homes and leafy avenues in a town where sexual inequality was a forgotten memory.

Modern Underemployment

In the story of the brickmakers and woodcutters, everything is happy, because workers specialize by choice to their greater communal benefit. Of course, this is not how it works in the real world, where people no longer follow the traditional occupations of their parents, and acquire few specialized skills besides what are gleaned from channel surfing, playing video games, driving dad’s car, and purchasing fast food. Most young people are losing specialized abilities like cooking, sewing, and gardening, that help them keep expenses down. The value of acquiring a standard credential like a high school diploma has become vague to many young people. College degrees are very costly to procure, and employers increasingly doubt that college graduates have the skills needed. Top hourly wages in our techno-driven economy go to people with certifications issued by private computer companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Novell, not to college graduates. The old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is now impolite to ask, since it is likely to throw the child into a quandary that, parents fear, will cause anxiety. Besides which, how could a child be qualified to decide that he wants to be a Linux networking specialist until after he hacks his way into the school network to change his girlfriend’s biology grade? Experiences guide choices, and in this world, choosing what type of labor to specialize in often defaults to “whatever someone will pay me to do.” Which explains why the price of marijuana keeps dropping.

A Bull Market For Soldiers

The disconnect between young people and gainful employment explains why the sudden desire to go open a can o’ whupass on them Arabs took root so quickly in the apocalyptic soil of the unemployed, working-class young people in this country. There was a genuine crisis on hand, fueled by the public murder of over four thousand people in downtown New York. There was a charismatic president leading the nation, there was a fire in the desert, a Holy Grail to chase, and a lot of people wanted in. Money was easy to get in Iraq. In fact, huge stashes of bundled hundred-dollar bills were left completely unguarded, and uncounted billions have gone missing. War is good business, especially when the Vice President is still getting a $300,000 annual payment from Halliburton, the prime no-bid contractor on the project to level Iraq under the guise of nation-building. The invisible hand is working overtime these days.

Two billion dollars have been spent developing and deploying technology to block increasingly sophisticated cell-phone-detonated bombs in Iraq. People often say “think what that would have done if spent on schools.” But they don’t say it when the nation is “at war.” Typically, too much is being claimed for the use of this term, “war.” Certainly the nation isn't at war like it was in World War II, when it entered a two-front war against two industrial giants that had defeated all of Continental Europe and the South Pacific. Certainly it isn't a war like Vietnam in 1968, when the American death toll topped 40,000, everybody was buckling down in school to avoid being drafted, and ultimately the draft became a negative lotto game where the unlucky ones got picked out of a hat, and student or no, it was time to go. The nation is “at war” because the president said it was. “Being at war forever” has officially become our policy, and like all other policies, it is an economic policy.

Since we are at war, money goes first to guns, then to butter for the soldiers, then to pay for the creation of a gigantic, unwieldy security apparatus to strangle the airline industry, then to pork-barrel projects necessary to grease all of the palms that wrote the campaign checks and bought the dinners and paid for the trips that a Congressperson just can’t live without. If the sleaze of politics seems far from you, be assured it is not. The wages that never go up, the jobs that cannot be found, the housing that isn’t available, the opportunities that don’t appear, have all been swallowed up by a national economic policy that is far more monstrous than one would think from watching TV. Some folks don’t believe in conspiracies. Okay, we’ll chalk it up to the work of the invisible hand.

Money vs. Goods

No one is going to advocate the end of money if they are sane, because money is the most amazing thing in the universe – it is the equals sign between anything and anything. Using “money,” we can put a value on anything from apple pie to a course in Zen, and the price will always be based on how much it costs to produce the product. It may be more charming to pay for Zen in apple pies, but most Zen masters want cash, because using money, they can buy whatever they want. The flexibility of money makes it useful, but it doesn’t give it any intrinsic qualities of value. A lot of the time we think we want money, and forget that ultimately, we want what money buys. We usually don’t think about this until we go out looking for a midnight snack, and unable to find a grocery store open, return home with gratitude to find a single ice cream bar stuffed in the freezer.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of exchanges are going to be facilitated by money, including, ironically, the establishment of social policy to expand productivity beyond the monetary realm. There is a cost for everything, including an economic policy to increase real wealth among the citizens. The calculation of wealth goes beyond tallying dollars, because one may be wealthy without having a dollar, like an eccentric hermit living happily in a distant location, tending a garden and feeding the birds. Wealth, distinct from money, is an abundance of what we want and need. If our community priorities are straight, we will strive to become rich in essential goods like clean air, fresh water, arable land, inspiring housing and livable towns. We will give people an incentive to increase the wealth of knowledge and skills they carry within them, so we can have excellent teachers in our schools, skilled medical care for those in ill health, and media resources that foster communication in an environment of free thought. These things usually cost money, because people create them, but they can be created and exchanged without money, and can enrich us concretely and directly, giving us more of what makes life worth living.

Money-Free Exchange

Leaving money out of the equation, we still have our skills and creations to exchange, but we lack a “medium of exchange.” A medium of exchange is used to reduce what economists call “transaction costs.” Transaction costs are evident in all activities. Take sending someone a letter. It involves the following transaction costs: time spent writing the letter and addressing the envelope, plus the expense of a piece of paper, a stamp, the time it took to buy the stamp, the time you’ll spend mailing it, and a few days waiting time for your recipient to receive it. The telephone reduces the human transaction cost of having to write the letter, which blocks innumerable communications from taking place. Email reduces the transaction costs greatly, but only at the cost of knowing how to use email and getting access to a machine with Internet. Transaction costs prevent communications and productive exchanges from taking place.

Markets are intended to overcome transaction costs by having everyone bring their product to the same place, so a purchaser can visit many merchants at once. Nowadays, markets have migrated online. Everyone is getting in on the action. Myspace is a marketplace for attention. Craigslist is a marketplace for sex, according to the cops. eBay is a marketplace for people who are willing to take risks to get a bargain, and for many legitimate sellers, as well as for scammers looking to turn over questionable goods.

When we remember that money is but a mechanism for equating one person’s labor to another, we may intuit something clever – we don’t need US Treasury Notes to keep track of people’s labor. We can record their relative work outputs in a spreadsheet or other database, or even on a piece of paper. Strictly speaking, that is all the banks are doing anyway, and people who move large amounts of money around are well aware of this. Computers allow us to create and manage databases quite easily. Your paycheck is only good if your boss’s account has enough money in it, which is to say, it appears to have enough money in it when the bank teller looks on her screen. What is handy about the designation of your labor as money is that anyone else will take it in exchange for their goods and services. What is not handy is that you can’t get enough of it to do everything that you want to do.

People will trade for what they could not pay for with cash. Why? Between rent, gas, food, insurance, child support and a DUI diversion, there’s no money available. Statistically, an over-forty male who is strapped financially runs a high risk of gambling away the last of his money on video poker or whatever lottery system his jurisdiction uses to snooker him out of his hard-earned cash. Instead of pecking at a screen like a pigeon, a guy in this situation might wisely choose instead to spend his time sawing boards and pounding nails – building stuff for a friend in exchange for some goods or skills. Skills and goods exchanges allow a community to grow more wealthy by consuming its own local products and employing its own people. Local skills and goods trading improves individual living standards, gives young people a chance to apprentice in a non-wage environment, and allows community members to preserve cash resources by reducing reliance on money.

Money developed based upon exchanges of concrete trade items or particular services, and was used to facilitate exchanges, not to monopolize the means of exchange. Where economic squeezes by national governments and international bankers impose embargoes and sanctions, barter can keep national economies alive. For example, Venezuela ships oil to Cuba, that sends back medicines, doctors and teachers. Thus Venezuela supplies Cuba’s energy needs, and Cuba helps Venezuela care for the education and health of its people, and they both get the satisfaction of telling Uncle Sam to pound sand.

Historically, people in love have exploited their relative advantages by dividing labor along classic sex-role lines, and family life has been the great factory of non-monetary wealth-generation. People used to routinely help each other build a house, then spend a lifetime washing clothes, making and raising babies, cooking food, growing gardens, fixing cars, chopping weeds, all that stuff. Some relationships are very elevated transactions that produce works of art that humanity will enjoy forever, like the music of Chopin and the writings of George Sand, or the sculptures of Camille Claudel and Rodin. For this and many other reasons besides producing soldiers for the fatherland, society has for a long time made it a legitimate social and governmental goal to make it easier for young people to get married, have children, live productive lives, and contribute to the life of the community. Skills and goods exchanges can be great resources for young people who have the energy and motivation to help themselves by working for others, because they benefit three ways – connecting with creative people, learning skills, and getting something valuable from their labor.

Skills and goods exchanges between individuals don’t happen on our local level mainly because there’s little thought given to non-monetary exchanges, and no place is dedicated to making them happen. There is no forum that is specifically focused on facilitating skills and goods exchanges within our community, and thus money is virtually the only avenue for trade in goods and services. Particularly at a time when the capital for business development is so difficult to obtain, our communities would demonstrate vision by establishing a local skills and goods exchange database, available online and in a walk-in office open to the public.

Only Labor Can Save Us

The national infrastructure is collapsing. Schools are underfunded, while teachers are being laid off. Bridges are falling down, and there's no money to fix them. Hospitals can't serve the sick, and doctors can't get paid. This is because money has taken over our minds, and we no longer understand how to cooperate without it. Can you imagine if a mother wouldn't move from her chair to feed her child because the child had no money to pay her? Of course not. Money is not the issue in that relationship. Similarly, money does not have to be the issue in all kinds of relationships. We see this when natural disasters strike – neighbors stop what they're doing, and help each other move out of harm's way – not because they're paid, but because it's the right thing to do. People get “free” labor in this way, and no one ever sends a bill. In fact, they spend the rest of their lives remembering that it was something they never regret having done – working for free. Indeed, only sick-minded people try to turn a profit when a hurricane or a forest fire is consuming their community.

Well, guess what? The whole planet's on fire, and it's time to put humanity's shoulder to the wheel. If money is available, it can be used to build a community, because it commands the power of human labor. But idealism, and wise cooperation, can also mobilize human labor, drawing on deep resources that cannot be tapped by spending money.

Welcome To People City

A community, let's call it “People City” for ease of discussion, could adopt policies that would vitalize its citizens by valuing their labor in a system not driven by money. How could People City do this? People City could first explicitly declare that its primary asset is its people, and that the care, cultivation and development of their welfare, wealth, and well-being are the primary concern of its leaders. People City could establish a skills and goods exchange, using City offices and technological resources to increase non-monetary economic activity. People City could establish grants and subsidies to supplement the efforts of gleaners, food banks, and homeless shelter-providers, who are distributing actual wealth to those in need. People City could reach out to older people who have extra time to contribute, and young people who have no contact with community elders, providing space where they can share skills, stories, books, and the history of their community. People City could adopt a purchasing and hiring policy that requires giving first consideration to local goods and service providers in all City purchasing decisions.

People City could analyze its patterns of consumption and production, and its leaders could make the information publicly available, so that local businesses would know how to orient their productive efforts to stimulate the local market. People City could begin to educate the students in its schools to understand the economic structure that sustains them. People City could elevate civic leaders who address the needs of citizens, and dismantle voting systems driven by media pressure and special-interest influence. People City could demand that banking, real-estate, and industry actually provide services that do more than percolate money upward to themselves, and accomplish the purpose that money is meant to accomplish – motivating people to labor for our overall social benefit.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:56 am

by Charles Carreon

Sometimes an artist produces one work too many. The one that shows he is not only past his prime, but has actually gone to seed. With Ten New Songs, the listener witnesses a great talent going into eclipse.

This is not that grizzled troubadour of the bizarre, who filled acid-soaked brains with images like “then you killed the lights in a lonely lane, and an ape with angel glands, erased the final wisps of pain with the music of rubber bands.” It is not that one who immortalized Suzanne, and reminded us that Jesus was a sailor, etc. From the deck of Leonard’s ship, you could see Salvador Dali, feverishly painting a surreal other shore.

No such fervid imaginations illuminate Ten New Songs, but the title is still descriptive, for Cohen has certainly come up with a “new” way of singing without having a song in his heart. But soon he will be quiet forever, or so he keeps reminding us. Whence came this strange malaise? Cohen has spent the last five years, they say, in a Zen monastery. This would seem to be borne out by the bizarre tilt of his thoughts, such as “I don’t trust my inner feelings — inner feelings come and go.” This may be proper Buddhist dogma, but it isn’t the stuff of good music. This is a New Song indeed — one that ventures indifference as a musical theme. It is actually the worst CD I have ever heard.

I only listened to six and half of the Ten New Songs, but even this brief encounter had a depressing effect similar to a long chat with a suicidal friend. If it weren’t for the depressing effect, however, the CD would be useful for lowering blood pressure. The pacing of these compositions is elephantine. To call them sedate overstates their stimulating effect. Torpid would be more like it. In one tuneless tune, Cohen dwells obsessively on the image of “dark rivers.” I felt like I’d won a free vacation to buy time share in the underworld, and Cohen was the salesman. He was very convincing. I felt dead already.

Zen meditation seems to have lowered the temperature of Leonard’s mind. In one New Song he says he’s turned to ice within, and finds it “crowded and cold” inside himself. One is tempted to caution him to be wary of falling into the same fate as the senescent Ram Dass, who meditated himself into a stroke by visualizing himself as an old man with failing extremities and vision. His adventure of the imagination precipitated exactly what he contemplated, and he now is rolled about by his spiritual nabobs in a wheelchair he calls his “swan boat.” If the lethargic rhythms of the New Songs are any indication, Leonard may be drifting a little close to the big drain that goes straight down. The pulse of this music is so faint as to be nearly comatose, tending toward flatline.

From his present vantage point, Leonard Cohen sees no light, or if he does, he brings no report of it. He has one direction resolved, as well — deeper into the shadowland. He says he knows he’s forgiven, but doesn’t know exactly how. I was left wondering when he’d been found guilty, and if his sentence was perhaps too severe. Leonard seems to be seeking closure and resolution, coming to terms, preparing for the end. But from the results displayed in these New Songs, I suspect he would have been better off keeping his accounts open, getting and spending the rich treasury of the imagination. In this album he seems hypnotized by the anticipated darkness of death. Tragically, his song has preceded him to the grave.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:58 am



I’ve been railing against the torturers for years, trying to add my small voice to the growing chorus of people who know that the true terrorists have been running Washington for eight years. Now a really meaningful voice is being heard — that of a military prosecutor, Lt. Col. Darren Vandeveld, who was encouraged by his priest to speak out after he confessed in an email:

“I am beginning to have grave misgivings about what I am doing, and what we are doing as a country.”

What was the problem? As a prosecutor, which I once was, we learn that it is our duty to disclose any evidence that might indicate that the defendant is innocent to the defense lawyer. Vandeveld disclosed that the trials at Guantanamo being conducted pursuant to Congress’ shamelessly-enacted “Military Commissions Act” were part of a “rigged system” in which “potentially exculpatory evidence” was never being provided to the defense lawyers.

“I have observed,” he wrote, “that a number of defense requests which I considered to be reasonable and in some cases indicated support for were nevertheless rejected by the Convening Authority, presumably on the advice of the Legal Adviser.”

When Vandeveld resigned his position because he couldn’t continue in good conscience, Chief Prosecutor Col. Lawrence Morris tried to force him to take a psychological exam. Way to slander a good guy, colonel! Vandeveld’s replacement, Lt. Col. Doug Stevenson, denies there’s any problem — “There is absolutely no exculpatory evidence in this case that has not been provided to the defense,” Stevenson told the judge. Doesn’t sound right to me. Why would a career Air Force prosecutor flush his career down the toilet to make claims that he can’t back up? And Vandeveld is offering to back them up, by testifying for the defense in the case he was previously prosecuting against Mohammed Jawad, a teenager accused of throwing a grenade that wounded two American soldiers and their interpreter in December 2002. What would he testify?

Vandeveld has told defense lawyers that his office knew Jawad may have been drugged before the grenade attack and that the Afghan Interior Ministry said two other men had confessed to the same crime, according to Michael Berrigan, deputy chief defense counsel for the Guantanamo tribunals.

That would seem rather exculpatory. So the judge, Army Col. Steve Henley, ordered the government to allow Vandeveld to testify, and his testimony was received on Friday, September 28, 2008. At first, he asked for immunity against prosecution, an indication of the kind of fear he has to deal with in this role that fate has thrust him into, but in the end he testified to those and other facts. Perhaps the course of justice will be a little straighter for a poor teenager who was thrust into a war all of a sudden when American soldiers showed up in his homeland. I can’t imagine any of us would’ve behaved differently if the war had been brought to our suburban subdivision, city street, or country road. That’s not terrorism. Some say it’s heroism. I’d stop short of that, because it just sounds like self-defense and defense of your country, which doesn’t elevate you to the heights of human achievement so much as it pulls you down to the common denominator of survival. Self-defense is not heroism, but it is also not a crime, not terrorism, and certainly not a justification to pervert the course of justice with kangaroo-court proceedings. But Lt. Col. Vandeveld has sacrificed his friends, his position, and a great deal more to help a poor boy who maybe didn’t throw a grenade at anybody, maybe was drugged up, maybe was just a victim of our worldwide terror sweep. He suffered disgrace to draw the line between decency and dishonor. Now there’s a hero.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:59 am




One day you’re a free man, cashing your paycheck and going to see your girlfriend on the subway. The next day you’re judicial roadkill, hauled in front of a Federal judge on death-penalty charges of killing a man you had no idea existed — a witness in a Federal drug trial. The prosecutors say you did it. The judge says he has probable cause to believe you did. Your brother has been dragged into this thing with you. Lucky thing you have your get out of jail card right in your wallet — a digital witness with no motive to lie — your New York City Metrocard. God bless public transportation — and a little surveillance video at the check-cashing facility where you traded in your check for a few dead Presidents.

For Jason Jones and his brother Corey, all of the above came true in a nightmare that began in May of 2008, when a still-unnamed Federal witness was gunned down. Amazingly, the prosecutors who agreed to grant Jason bail balked at granting it to his brother Corey, claiming their “eyewitness” had him cold, and he still had no alibi. Judge Marrero gave the ixnay to that argument, quoting Heraclitus in his written opinion: “The river now flowing by is not the same river that passed by yesterday.”

Time enough tomorrow to worry about the dark side of this story — What incentives was this “eyewitness” given by prosecutors that caused him to identify the wrong men? Was the “eyewitness” the willing accomplice of the killers, or even the killer? Why did the prosecutors shield their unreliable witness by sticking with an obviously defective theory of the case? And most ominous of all — how long before criminals hire hackers to equip the real bad guys with false digital alibis, or corrupt the digital alibis of their chosen fall guys? In the world of crime and forgery, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Anybody interested in a 24-hour digital tracking device that will establish your whereabouts in the unlikely event the law claims you were where you know you weren’t? It could run on your cellphone. Of course, you could turn it off, if you needed to. But then, would that look bad? Sure as hell would, if you needed an alibi. Oh well, no plan is foolproof.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:03 am



The Case for Paying Out Bonuses at A.I.G.
Published: March 16, 2009

Do we really have to foot the bill for those bonuses at the American International Group?

It sure does sting. A staggering $165 million — for employees of a company that nearly took down the financial system. And heck, we, the taxpayers, own nearly 80 percent of A.I.G.

It doesn’t seem fair.

So here is a sobering thought: Maybe we have to swallow hard and pay up, partly for our own good. I can hear the howls already, so let me explain.

Everyone from President Obama down seems outraged by this. The president suggested on Monday that we just tear up those bonus contracts. He told the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, to use every legal means to recoup taxpayers’ money. Hard to argue there.

“This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents,” he said. “It’s about our fundamental values.”

On that last issue, lawyers, Wall Street types and compensation consultants agree with the president. But from their point of view, the “fundamental value” in question here is the sanctity of contracts.

That may strike many people as a bit of convenient legalese, but maybe there is something to it. If you think this economy is a mess now, imagine what it would look like if the business community started to worry that the government would start abrogating contracts left and right.

As much as we might want to void those A.I.G. pay contracts, Pearl Meyer, a compensation consultant at Steven Hall & Partners, says it would put American business on a worse slippery slope than it already is. Business agreements of other companies that have taken taxpayer money might fall into question. Even companies that have not turned to Washington might seize the opportunity to break inconvenient contracts.

If government officials were to break the contracts, they would be “breaking a bond,” Ms. Meyer says. “They are raising a whole new question about the trust and commitment organizations have to their employees.” (The auto industry unions are facing a similar issue — but the big difference is that there is a negotiation; no one is unilaterally tearing up contracts.)

But what about the commitment to taxpayers? Here is the second, perhaps more sobering thought: A.I.G. built this bomb, and it may be the only outfit that really knows how to defuse it.

A.I.G. employees concocted complex derivatives that then wormed their way through the global financial system. If they leave — the buzz on Wall Street is that some have, and more are ready to — they might simply turn around and trade against A.I.G.’s book. Why not? They know how bad it is. They built it.

So as unpalatable as it seems, taxpayers need to keep some of these brainiacs in their seats, if only to prevent them from turning against the company. In the end, we may actually be better off if they can figure out how to unwind these tricky investments.

Not that any of this takes the bite out of paying these bonuses. For better or worse — in this case, worse — someone at A.I.G. decided this company needed to sign bonus agreements last year to keep people before the full extent of its problems became clear.

Now we can debate why A.I.G. felt it necessary to guarantee seven executives at least $3 million apiece when the economy was clearly on shaky ground. Perhaps we will find out these contracts were a bit of sleight of hand to enrich executives who knew this financial Titanic had hit the iceberg. But another possible explanation is that A.I.G. knew it needed to keep its people.

That is the explanation offered by Edward M. Liddy, who was installed as A.I.G.’s chief executive when the government effectively nationalized the company last fall. (He is being paid $1 a year.)

“We cannot attract and retain the best and brightest talent to lead and staff” the company “if employees believe that their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” he said.

There’s some truth to what Mr. Liddy is saying. Would you want to work at A.I.G.? Sure, maybe for $3 million. But not if you could go somewhere else for even more — or even much less.

“The jobs are terrible,” said Robert M. Sedgwick, an executive compensation lawyer at Morrison Cohen who represents a number of employees of banks that have taken government money. “You have to read about yourself in the paper every day. These people are leaving as soon as they can.”

Let them leave, you say. Where would they go, given the troubles in the financial industry? But the fact is, the real moneymakers in finance always have a place to go. You can bet that someone would scoop up the talent from A.I.G. and, quite possibly, put it to work — against taxpayers’ interests.

“The word on the street is that A.I.G. employees are being heavily recruited,” Ms. Meyer says.

Of course, if taxpayers had not bailed out A.I.G., these contracts would not be worth anything. Andrew M. Cuomo, the attorney general of New York, made the point on Monday, when he subpoenaed A.I.G. for the names of the people who received the bonuses. If A.I.G. had spiraled into bankruptcy, its employees would have had to get in line with other unsecured creditors.

Mr. Cuomo wants to know who A.I.G.’s lucky employees are, and how they have been doing at their jobs. So here is a suggestion for him. Get the list, and give those big earners at A.I.G. a not-so-subtle nudge: Perhaps they will “volunteer” to give some of their bonuses back or watch their names hit the newspapers. But in the meantime, despite how offensive and painful it might be, let’s honor the contracts.

With his article The Case for Paying Out Bonuses at A.I.G. , New York Times financial columnist Andrew Sorkin elicited my ire. I actually wrote him an email, and you can do likewise at this link. Or you can just read my strident reply below, that quotes the salient points of his meritless arguments, and tell him you agree with Charles Carreon.

New York Times Financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin apologist for AIG

1. “This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents,” he said. “It’s about our fundamental values.” *** the “fundamental value” in question here is the sanctity of contracts. ***If government officials were to break the contracts, they would be “breaking a bond,” Ms. Meyer says.

Contracts are only sacred if they are entered into voluntarily with full understanding of their consequences. The anger of the public is not “buyer’s remorse;” rather, it is justified rebellion against having terms imposed upon them by an AIG management that obtained money under false pretenses and used it for purposes that, if fully known, neither Congress nor the voters would have agreed to. Therefore, these contracts are voidable because of a defect in their formation, i.e., fraud or a mistake as to material terms known exclusively to one party – AIG.

2. A.I.G. built this bomb, and it may be the only outfit that really knows how to defuse it.

“prevent them from turning against the company. In the end, we may actually be better off if they can figure out how to unwind these tricky investments.”

This contention is downright silly. Nothing is being “unwound.” AIG has just been paying off its “counterparties,” and in many cases, according to the New York Times, under circumstances where nothing was due under the “Credit Default Swap” insurance policies that AIG had issued. This is insurance malpractice, if you think about it – as if my insurance company gave me a check for the value of my wrecked vehicle because their statistics suggested I was likely to have a wreck someday. These people “turned against the company” long ago by digging the financial hole it is now in. They need to be turned out of their offices by any means less drastic that actual defenestration.

3. A.I.G. knew it needed to keep its people.

“We cannot attract and retain the best and brightest talent to lead and staff” the company “if employees believe that their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” he said.

Excuse me, but funding the operation of AIG provided these bonus-grabbers with a subsidy for salaries that would simply have evaporated in insolvency. Being subsidized is not being subjected to “continued and arbitrary adjustment.” Your uncritical repetition of this bilge is bizarre. Since when did the New York Times turn “garbage in, garbage out” into a journalistic maxim?

4. [T]he real moneymakers in finance always have a place to go. You can bet that someone would scoop up the talent from A.I.G. and, quite possibly, put it to work — against taxpayers’ interests.

The “real moneymakers” seems like a strange definition for people who lost billions of other people’s money. Perhaps you could get a job as a meaning distorter for Fox News.

1. Perhaps they will “volunteer” to give some of their bonuses back or watch their names hit the newspapers. But in the meantime, despite how offensive and painful it might be, let’s honor the contracts.

Are you deranged? Your solicitousness toward these robber barons has utterly undermined your credibility as a commentator. You are a handsome man, as depicted on the New York Times website, and thus must come from a good family. If you will send me your email address, I will paypal you a dime, like Prof. Kingsfield in Paper Chase, so you can call your parents and tell them that there is grave doubt you will make a real financial reporter.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:05 am



Obama made many promises, three of which I remember clearly — to restore civil rights stolen by Bushman, end the looting on Wall Street, and bring the troops home from Iraq. In a word, “change.” Looking at the results achieved in the last three months on all three fronts, it appears that Americans have been taken for chumps, because if what we’ve got is change, it’s surprisingly indistinguishable from the same old-same old, as our charismatic leader would put it. Today, I’m going to talk about how he’s chosen to continue as our “war president,” and why he should change course now, for the good of the nation.

The Evil of Arbitrary Arrest Under The Tyrannical Authority of “General Warrants” and “Bills of Attainder”

Until you have been subjected to it, you can hardly imagine the terrors inflicted by despots using brute force to arrest and imprison people without cause. I have represented people who were arrested and imprisoned on false charges, but even that does not compare to being arrested for no reason whatsoever. People arrested for no reason naturally fear that they may never be released. Certainly, those detained for no reason are much more likely to be tortured and killed in secret. After all, if you can be arrested for no reason, why would you need a reason to go farther, and commit torture, or simply eliminate the problem? Lots of people like to say it was taxes that caused the revolution, but I suspect unlawful detention was by far the more powerful driver of rebellion. The Declaration of Independence accused King George of a “long train of abuses” against the American colonists, among them:

Depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: Transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

King George’s royally-appointed judges would issue “Writs of Assistance,” which were “general warrants” that could be used to arrest anyone without cause and haul them to London for questioning and bogus “trials” without jury. Can you imagine the horror of being taken out of your home for no reason, and put on a sailing ship, seeing the shore of your native land disappearing beyond the horizon? This power, or even the threat of it, would often be used to extract testimony against friends, neighbors and relatives, who would then be arrested on charges of sedition, or other generalized offenses. Obviously, for any person not desirous of living in prison, unlawful detention in itself is mental torture, and many a bird will sing whatever song will spring them from the cage.

The danger of permitting detention without probable cause to believe the person committed a crime was thus dealt with by enacting the Fourth Amendment. On April 30, 2002, U.S. District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin dismissed a Grand Jury indictment that had been issued based on testimony from a person who had been detained under what she characterized as a general warrant issued “for investigative purposes.” The Judge’s opinion is beautiful, as are the citations she chooses from the U.S. Supreme Court case of Stanford v. Texas, that it is my patriotic pleasure to share with you:

“Vivid in the memory of the newly independent Americans,” for example, “were those general warrants known as writs of assistance under which officers of the Crown had so bedeviled the colonists.” Stanford v. Texas, 379 U.S. 476, 481 (1965). Those general warrants were viewed “as the worst instrument of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty, and the fundamental principles of law, that ever was found in an English law book, because they placed the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer.” Id. (quotation marks omitted). As a result, in December 1791, the Bill of Rights became “the supreme Law of the Land.” U.S. Const. art. VI cl. 2.

The Fourth Amendment states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. U.S. Const. amend. IV.

“These words are precise and clear. They reflect the determination of those who wrote the Bill of Rights that the people of this new Nation should forever ‘be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects’ from intrusion and seizure by officers acting under the unbridled authority of a general warrant.” Stanford, 379 U.S. at 481 (emphasis added).

General Warrants were issued by anti-sedition magistrates operating in the colonies as judicial agents of repression. The British Parliament, in an anti-terrorist mood similar to that of our post-911 Congress, also took a hand in fighting the enemies of the Crown. They used a special type of law to demonize political enemies, called “Bills of Attainder.” The word “attainder” derives from the word “attainted,” as in “ostracised” or “damned.” A Bill of Attainder was a law that named specific individuals and deprived those people of their civil rights — the right to trial on the charges of which they were accused. A Bill of Attainder telescoped the entire prosecution into a single decree.

Under English law, a criminal condemned for a serious crime … could be declared “attainted”, meaning that his civil rights were nullified: he could no longer own property or pass property to his family by will or testament. His property could consequently revert to the Crown…. Bills of attainder were sometimes criticized as a convenient way for the King to convict subjects of crimes and confiscate their property without the bother of a trial—and without the need for a conviction or indeed any evidence at all. Wikipedia.

To the preceding we might add that not only would an “attainted” person and his children be deprived of property, he could be deprived of his freedom, jailed in the Tower for nothing more than being the victim of a legislative decree that “Mr. X is a felonious criminal.” Along with “ex post facto” laws that criminalize past conduct, Bills of Attainder were made unlawful by Article I, Sec. 3, Clause 9 of the United States Constitution, which states: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto shall be passed.”

Because a Bill of Attainder is so clearly unlawful, Congress is careful not to name anyone directly as a target of its laws, but after the Bush coup, the Congress end-ran the Constitution in a three-step process. First, they created the category of “terrorist organizations” for which no clear definition existed, and told the Treasury make a list of “terrorist organizations.” Second, they made it unawful to “provide support” for a terrorist organization — which of course could be anything up to and including holding a bake sale for Chechnian orphans. Third, they created the category of “unlawful combatants,” and gave the Decider the absolute power to decide who was an “unlawful combatant,” a definition that had nothing to do with any objective evidence, and was justified simply on the bald assertion that the Decider was in fact the Decider.

By designating people as “terrorists” or “unlawful combatants,” using standards so broad that anyone could be made subject to the law, and depriving those people of civil rights, the U.S. Congress created a Bill of Attainder that was worse than the original — basically a blank check for the CIA to run anyone into its secret prisons, where, as we now know, they would be delivered into the hands of interrogators who had been told it was lawful to commit torture. I do believe I will indulge myself in a colloquialism — this is Scary Shit.

The “Great Writ” of Habeas Corpus

Ironically, like so much in our jurisprudence, the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus evolved from the exercise of monarchical power for elitist reasons. It happened like this. Mayhap a young nobleman making sport with his noble pals breaketh into a humble cottage, and there before God and nature and her horrified family, drunkenly debaucheth a comely lass, and in the ensuing affray, killeth her brother. A local magistrate clapeth the young lord into irons. The wayward noble’s father approacheth a courtier with silver in hand who then approacheth the King and explaineth the true state of affairs, and that a grievous wrong hath been committed upon a highborn titled male who hath indulged in high spirits and defended his noble person with his cavalry blade against felonious assaults by a commoner. The King findeth his Royal Person affronted by the detention of one to whom He is related by a close degree of consanguinity, and in consequence therof issueth a writ of Habeas Corpus directing the errant magistrate henceforth to “produce the body” of the imprisoned gallant, who is then delivered to a well-appointed judicial chamber and strictly questioned by a duly constituted court of handpicked, well-fed and bewigged legal lords, in consequence of which an acquittal ensueth and the chastened youth is released to the custody of his family with the exhortation to keep his spirits in check lest justice be not in future so merciful. The King’s peace was thus restored. From such ignoble beginnings came the writ of habeas corpus.

Clever lawyers gradually expanded it into a judicial remedy for unexplained detentions in general. They are still issued by the federal courts in an antiquated by effective form, as follows:

We command you that the body of Charles L. Craig, in your custody detained, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his caption and detention, you safely have before Honorable Martin T. Manton, United States Circuit Judge for the Second Judicial Circuit, within the circuit and district aforesaid, to do and receive all and singular those things which the said judge shall then and there consider of him in this behalf; and have you then and there this writ.

Today the writ of habeas corpus is the plea of last resort, and is probably used most by death row defenders to challenge the amazingly unjust proceedings that result in the horrific statistics that have caused several states to suspend executions — lying witnesses, sleeping defense lawyers, phony forensic evidence, prejudice against minority defendants, the whole digusting snowball of injustice that gets rolling in the wake of a gruesome murder, claiming more victims, and leaving the true perpetrators free to kill again. Indeed, the right of habeas corpus for common criminals has not been curtailed. To be deprived of your sacred right to obtain judicial relief from unjust arrest and imprisonment, as in the time of King George, you need to be an Enemy of the State.

Three Towers Fall — One Cherished Right Dies, And Hundreds of “Unlawful Combatants” Are Born ... Tower_Fall

Congress and the Executive Branch have been acting like King George on steroids ever since the Three Towers came down on September 11th. Two months after thousands were killed in a mass murder for which only a single lone madman (Moussauwi) was prosecuted, on November 13, 2001 Bush granted himself the power to arrest anyone suspected of connection to terrorists or terrorism as an “unlawful combatant,” to be held indefinitely without charges being filed against him or her, without a court hearing, and without access to a lawyer. Hundreds of people were declared unlawful combatants and held in abominable conditions in Guantanamo and in secret CIA prisons by the now-disgraced former President, who of course never saw them, or any evidence, or even knew their names. After the Supreme Court reaffirmed the right of United States citizens to seek writs of habeas corpus even if they had been declared “unlawful combatants” in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004), Congress unlawfully overruled the Constitution by enacting Sec. 1005(e) of the Dept of Defense Appropriations Act of 2006, that provides:

“No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the Department of Defense at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006), the Supreme Court rejected Congress’s attempts to strip the courts of jurisdiction over habeas corpus appeals. Congress then enacted the Military Commissions Act, that amended the language above to replace habeas corpus with rigged proceedings that have been tainted by the use of tortured confessions as evidence and repudiated by military prosecutors themselves as virtual kangaroo courts:

“No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.”

Three Branches of Government Collapse Into One “War President”

On January 17, 2007, Torturer General Alberto Gonzales, still allowed to spew noxious tyrannical propaganda in the halls of Congress in those days, told the Senate that the Constitution didn’t grant even American citizens the right of habeas corpus, calling it a “treasured gift” that the Decider could “decide” to suspend. Erwin Chemerinsky, a respected Constitutional law professor, took exception to Gonzales’ revisionist Constitutional history: “If there’s no habeas corpus, and if the government wants to pick you or me off the street and hold us indefinitely, how do we get our release?” Douglas Kmiec, a federal prosecutor under Reagan and Bush the First, agreed, stating that without habeas corpus: “one of the basic protections of human liberty against the powers of the state would be embarrassingly absent from our constitutional system.” Bruce Fein, another veteran of the Reagan-era Justice Department, said Gonzales was trying to “create the idea that during conflicts, the three branches of government collapse into one, and it is the president.” Yes, that means that in “wartime,” all we need is our dear old father-figure, calling the shots, imprisoning and torturing the bad guys, keeping us safe in our terrorized homeland, our beloved “War President.”

The Judges Finally Turn It Around

The judicial branch gave Bush enough rope to hang himself and everyone in the CIA, if someone had the courage to tie the other end to a stout tree limb. But eventually, they figured that we could maybe go ahead and restore civil rights. In Boumediene v. Bush June 12, 2008, the Supreme Court rejected that idea, holding that Guantanamo detainees have the right to seek a writ of habeas corpus in US Federal Court.

After the election, it seemed possible good news would come from the White House, and on January 21, 2009, Obama declared that the Guantanamo detainees “have the constitutional privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.” That, you might have thought, would be that. But not so fast.

Orwell Said It Would Be Like This

When District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina released 17 Chinese Uighurs in October 2008, who have been held at Guantanamo for no good reason for seven years, no one was surprised that the Bush Justice Department sought and obtained a stay of the ruling. What was surprising was when Obama’s Justice Department continued the same position. But of course, there was something difficult about that case, since no one knows where to send the Uighurs — China might just imprison them, and some people think they’re not good enough to stay in the US. But yesterday, April 10, 2009, the other shoe dropped, and there can now be now doubt that Obama has decided he too is a “War President” who can imprison anyone he likes without a warrant and without judicial recourse. Obama’s lawyers appealed District Judge John Bates’ decision to allow three men detained at Bargram Air Base in Kabul, Afghanistan to seek writs of habeas corpus. So people have the right of habeas corpus, except when they don’t.

Yes, Obama’s face points one way, and his feet walk the other way, in a posture he seems to adopt quite naturally. Power warps the psyche, and is almost impossible to renounce. Get ready for a new age of happy tyranny. It’s 1984 all over again.
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