31 October 2004

River Come Down!

Common Sense
John Maxwell

IT will be 50 years ago next January 12. I remember standing with a huge crowd on Vineyard Road listening to Norman Manley, with everybody in the crowd, it seemed, waving a broom.

The PNP slogan was "Sweep Them Out", after a cartoon in Public Opinion which called on Jamaicans to get rid of the corrupt and scandal-ridden government of Alexander Bustamante.

Norman Manley couldn't be heard for minutes after he reported what he had seen all over Jamaica and ended with the line: "The river come down - from bank to bank!!!"It had indeed, as the next day's election results proved - a rout despite the fact that constituency demarcation favoured the JLP.

I am reminded of this by what is happening right now in the United States of America, where the ground is shifting under the feet of the Bush Administration which is displaying unmistakable signs of increasing desperation and panic. In Jamaica, we say "Bad luck wuss dan obeah" and Mr Bush's luck is running out. Why would Osama bin Laden choose this moment to resurface?

Mr Bush, I kid you not, has recently been talking about 'principle'. His declared principle after 9/11 was to hunt down and "smoke out from their holes" the authors of the outrage and murderers of 3,000 Americans.

Yet, here is bin Laden, as large as life, or larger, offering to talk with Bush about disengagement!!! For most of the last 12 months Bush's basic principle has been to attack the character and integrity of his opponent, to hit below the belt whenever possible, throwing pile-drivers at Kerry's gut, just as George Foreman threw them at Muhammad Ali in Zaire, 30 years ago.
And with the same result.

Bush and his campaign are now, as Foreman was then, tired and demoralised. After Tuesday, the Bush Administration will have loads of time to attend Grand Jury hearings and similar proceedings. Somebody else will have to deal with bin Laden.

For the river to come down - Lavalas, as they say in Haiti - there must be a lot of rain. And the rain-makers of the Bush Administration have made damn sure that the rain falls only on their Just Men. The trouble is that the water doesn't stop there. Injustice is a trickle-down process, and those at the bottom of the hill get lots of filthy, contaminated water. My expectation of a Kerry victory rests on several observations and some hunches.

A great many people are resolved not to take the cynical colour-coded manipulation of their fears any longer, and they have enthusiastically heeded the call of those who believe that Americans give away their rights when they don't vote.

They watched the process last time round, when George Bush was appointed president by the Supreme Court. Millions of people were disfranchised and they are paying for it in unemployment, deficient education, expensive health care, and record budget and trade deficits. Count in here a majority of the young, the new voters, the foreign-born, Hispanics, Haitians, Jamaicans, some of whom won't be nationally significant but crucial in local contests.

Over the last week, the Bush spinmeisters have been producing some of the most elaborate excuses and alternative theories to explain away the inexplicable loss of more than 377 tons of extremely high-explosive material from a sealed bunker at Al Qaqaa in Iraq. Casting a doubt here, scouting a rumour there, fiddling with the facts wherever possible was a game that lasted until Friday, when a Minnesota TV station unearthed footage taken by their news team 18 months ago.

The US chief weapons inspector, Dr David Kay, and most other people appear to believe that the video footage proves beyond reasonable doubt that the missing explosives had been found by American soldiers on April 18, three weeks after the war started and at least three weeks after Field Marshal von Rumsfeld thought the explosives might have been spirited away by Saddam Hussein. If not conclusive, the circumstantial evidence proves beyond doubt that the American soldiers in Iraq had not been properly prepared for the war, another major blunder by the Bush-Rumsfeld axis. Then, late Friday night, it turned out that a French journalist had reported a year ago exactly who had looted the munitions store and how and when it happened.

If 'Bad luck wuss dan obeah', an FBI investigation is probably even worse than bad luck, and Mr Bush's frightener-in-chief and left-hand man extraordinaire Dick Cheney may soon find himself before a grand jury to explain why his old company, Halliburton, was awarded, against the rules, a 'no-bid' five-year contract worth billions. He won't be able to claim executive privilege this time.

A complaint, filed on behalf of the Army Corps of Engineers Chief Contracting Officer, alleges that the $7-billion contract undermines the integrity of the federal contracts process. The complaint alleges that the award of contracts to KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary, to restore Iraq's oil industry and to supply and feed US troops in the Balkans puts at risk "the integrity of the federal contracting programme as it relates to a major defence contractor".

Bunnatine Greenhouse
The complaint also asks protection from retaliation for the whistle-blower, Bunnatine Greenhouse, an African-American woman with a strong resemblance to Portia Simpson Miller. African-Americans are expected to vote overwhelmingly (more than 90 per cent) for John Kerry. According to Internet journalist/editor Marc Ash, who is NOT an African-American, if American democracy is to be rescued, it will probably have to depend on African-Americans: "For whatever reason, African-Americans won't vote against their own best interests. No matter how much you try to convince them, it's like trying to get a cat to take a bath. We often hear that "our nation is deeply divided". Whose nation? Not the African-American nation - they know perfectly well who to vote for. They will vote for freedom and liberty and they'll kick down the door to do it if necessary."

The Republican party obviously understands this. The Internal Revenue Service is to investigate the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) with a view to withdrawing its tax-exempt status, effectively bankrupting the NAACP. The reason? In July the NAACP president, Julian Bond, said: "The election this fall is a contest between two widely disparate views of who we are and what we believe. One view wants to march us backward through history - surrendering control of government to special interests, weakening democracy, giving religion veto power over science, curtailing civil liberties, despoiling the environment.

"The other view promises expanded democracy and giving the people, not plutocrats, control over their government." Count in Arab/Americans and most Muslims, Indians, non-Zionist Jews, and others, including some moderate Republicans and others who want to restore their country's reputation for decency.

Bush, like George Foreman, had his plan. Play the strong, silent, immovable John Wayne character and push the flip-flopping Kerry around until he collapsed like a rag doll. But, in the debates, Kerry wiped the floor with the president. While Kerry concentrated on the issues that burn Americans, in the background was always the injustice of a war in which hundreds of thousands of poor Americans are sent to a foreign country to kill hundreds of thousands of poor people with whom they had no quarrel.

Count here young people afraid of being drafted for Iraq but, more important, medicare recipients and the poor generally. Soldiers' feedback is powerful stuff, and as it percolates through the American consciousness, more and more people are reverting to their pre-war position, when a majority was anti-war. Abu Ghraib has done nothing to reassure them.

"Vote or Die" is one of the slogans used by an NGO supported by Sean "P Diddy" Coombs, and he happens to be on the same side as another of the world's richest men, George Soros. Both believe that George Bush is bad for America and the world. And the work of NGOs like MOVEON and Michael Moore's powerful documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, have also changed many minds. The irruption of Osama bin Laden into the campaign will remind many that while the Iraqi city of Fallujah is being obliterated, bin Laden is somewhere else, home, dry and still rich.

The Bushies are trying to get Kerry to be a gentleman, to get him to avoid drawing attention to Osama's freedom and liberty while Americans labour under the Patriot Act and other disabilities. For the Bushies, Osama is the invisible 800-pound gorilla on the bow of a boat rapidly shipping water.

Americans know Bush lies when he says that his troops are "shrinking the space for terrorists to operate" when they know that even the super-fortified Green Zone in Baghdad is not immune to insurgent attack.

Meanwhile, the invasion has converted Iraq into what it emphatically was not before the war: a haven for terrorists as well as resistance fighters. Huge areas of Iraq are now no-go areas for the US troops, and an assault on Fallujah may be as much of a trap as Khe San was during General Giap's Tet offensive in 1968. Count in here all those who couldn't care less about Iraq, the unemployed, the single mothers with school-age children, soldiers' families.

No pollster has factored in the millions of new voters, nearly a million in Florida and more than half-a-million in Ohio alone. Bush was having things his own way early on, coasting on the publicity platform of the presidency until the debates, when, Surprise! Viewers rated John Kerry, the 'aloof patrician', as more likeable. That's a hard one to recover from.

Kerry has simply seemed more 'presidential' and certainly more mature than Bush and, however stupid Karl Rove thinks the US electorate is, I believe that they are more likely to go for someone who seems more level-headed and balanced than the grimacing, posturing 'Mission Accomplished' president. Count in surprising numbers of well-to-do Americans, who don't see the Bush fantasies or tax giveaways as everlasting and who may be scared of popular retribution, perhaps civil war, plus all those other scared voters who lie or conceal their intentions.

And then there are the men surrounding Bush: Ashcroft, the fundamentalist prude with an appetite for shutting up and locking down people outside of the law, the constitution and the country; Rumsfeld, the dashing fly boy on leave from a Douglas Fairbanks war film who thought looting was good clean fun; Colin Powell, the designated adult in the Cabinet, whose patina of credibility has corroded to grimy verdigris; Dick Cheney, who - I have on good authority - is definitely not related to Lon Chaney, the ghoul of early horror movies; (Lon Chaney needed LOTS of make-up to frighten people) and, of course, the Ayatollah, Karl Rove, a spoiled brat with Napoleonic fantasies, the man who brought you the George Bush show originally; the main architect of the electoral skulduggery, the gerrymandering in Texas, the vote-stealing and intimidation in Florida and elsewhere. Will Kerry win?

As Sherlock Holmes told Dr Watson: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is likely to be the truth".

24 October 2004

The Man Eaters of Haiti

Common Sense
John Maxwell

Winston Churchill would be unpleasantly surprised and hugely disappointed. The United States, he said, represented mankind's ascent to the "uplands of history." Churchill seemed to imagine a demi-paradise, basking in the sunny benevolence of democracy, where every prospect pleased.

Today, those sunny uplands are in gloom, overshadowed by the dark deeds and malign intentions of a cabal representing greed, ignorance and a full-scale retreat from civilisation. There are now, in Florida alone, more than 25,000 (twentyfive thousand) lawyers and law students on the watch against an anticipated concerted assault on the human and civil rights of voters, to forestall those who intend to steal a Presidential election if they can manage it, for the second time.

Former President Jimmy Carter has said that the presidential election process in the United States of America as a whole, does not come up to democratic standards. It is as if the United States has suddenly become a Third World country of the Graham Greene genre, where dictators rule and no one is safe..

Serious, sober Americans have written me to say that many of their friends are afraid to speak out, to exercise their democratic rights, fearing some sort of retribution.

Counter-revolution comes home

The French Fourth Republic and Portugal discovered, after Churchill spoke, that it is impossible to employ repression abroad while quarantining it so that it does not come home to attack its host. The same instruments used to destabilise nascent democracies in Latin America over the last century have begun to flex their muscles and sharpen their claws in the home of democracy itself.

Next door, in Haiti, a similar but much more brutal process is in train; a fascist dictatorship has already been established and the regime is arresting priests, politicians and children and shooting children or anyone else who gets in their way.

The two processes depend on each other. It was anticipated by some that a quick decapitation of Haitian democracy would lead to the installation of a new, globalised version of government, run by the rich, for the rich and pacifying the underclass by handing out sweatshop jobs to all and sundry. All the Haitians needed, in this scenario, was a full belly.

As Mr Luigi Einaudi, Assistant Secretary general of the Organisation of United States said in January, the only thing wrong with Haiti was that it was being run by Haitians.

As former US Ambassador to Haiti, Timothy Carney said at the launching of the US government sponsored Haiti Democracy Project (HDP):
"The policies exist to realize the interests. Ambassador Roger Noriega mentioned that one of our interests is to defend human rights, but he didn't mention the fundamental interest, which is to defend Miami Beach. We don't want Haitians on Miami Beach and we have proven that very recently. That is a fundamental interest of the United States — no illegal immigrants. Now that you have realized that interest, you hopefully will have policies by which Haitians can realize their prosperity and their future at home. How do you do that? Well, we haven't figured that out yet, have we?"
Carney was speaking at the opening of the HDP in the august surroundings of the leading right-wing think-tank in the US, the Brookings Institution, on September 19, 2002.

The raw racism of Carney's speech seemed so innocuous to the Haitian Democracy Project that his speech was published in full on their website and may still be there.

The Ambassador Noriega of whom Carney speaks is one of the spawn of the racist US Senator Jesse Helms, father of the Helms Burton Act and intellectual sponsor of any number of bright young fascists, including Otto Reich, who preceded Noriega as the American Assistant Secretaryof State for hemispheric affairs. Reich and Noriega are credibly believed to have been the American point-men in last August-s Panamanian pardon of Luis Posada Carriles and three other notorious Cuban exile terrorists . They had been in jail in Panama for plotting to assassinate President Castro and others at a summit in Panama in 2000. The pardons breached international and Panamanian law, but were delivered by the outgoing President Mireya Moscoso as her parting presidential eructation.

Posada Carriles was exposed by the Miami Herald in 1997 in a news scoop which detailed the links between Posada and the Cuban American Foundation of Miami - stout supporters of Bush - and the bombings in Cuba which attempted to disrupt the tourist industry and killed an Italian tourist as well as damaging several tourist properties.

Racism and terrorism are a noxious mix. They are evil enough on their own. In Haiti, they are lethal.

The Brazilian general in charge of the so-called United Nations contingent in Haiti, one Augusto Heleno, has delivered himself of the profound thought that the trouble in Haiti is the fault of Democratic candidate John Kerry, who, shortly after the February coup, decried the affair and said that Haiti deserved better treatment. Heleno-s bizarre statement statement in my view, makes it patent that not only is the intervention racist and unfair, but that it is directly linked to the presumed prospects of certain candidates in the US general election next week.

In this past week I have been on two radio programmes with representatives of the Haitian private sector, following another two weeks ago. In the first programme, one Mr Wedemeyer, head honcho of Radio Metropole in Port au Prince,said he knew nothing about the arrest of Haiti's best known folklorist, the 69 year old ‘So Anne- August. This arrest happened in August, and was particularly brutal, because a hand grenade was used to blow in So Anne-s door at midnight and she and her family, including a six year old granddaughter and another child, were hooded, manacled and taken off to jail without a warrant. The children have been released. So Anne is still in jail. At the time of her arrest she was still recuperating from a serious surgical operation.

The President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Port au Prince, one M. Armand, exploded in fury when I asked him on the Breakfast Club what had happened to So Anne? Was she a violent person, as he had alleged about Father Guerarrd Jean-Juste? Armand shouted imprecations and hung up the telephone. That night we met again on RJR's Beyond the Headlines. Somebody must have told him that he had made a fool of himself earlier in the day. He was determined not to be rattled and tried to talk over every question. But he showed embarrassment and confusion when asked about So Anne and Father Jean Juste, declaring that the government was right to arrest So Anne and that she had been charged with an offence. This lie was quickly disproved when a very brave Haitian journalist came onto the programme.. After a few statements which contradicted M. Armand's version, M. Armand counselled the journalist to be very careful because I was entrapping him with my questions. The journalist paid no heed, and at the end of the programme, M. Armand was unable to provide any rational defence for the government which he supports.

Death on the Streets

There is on the Internet a great deal of information about the horror story that is Haiti. Mr Colin Powell can say there is genocide in Darfur, in the Sudan, but he either cannot or will not deign to say what he thinks the situation is in Haiti.

The US press is similarly discreet, unlike Mr La Tortue, the resident satrap. I confess that I judged him simply to be seeking publicity when he said last week that President Aristide fomented the violence in Haiti from his temporary residence in South Africa.

The outburst demonstrates some of the less intelligent features of the so-called "interim prime minister." La Tortue doesn't think that people are intelligent enough to figure out that it would take an enormous organisation for Aristide to carry out subversion in Haiti, or that people don't know that Aristide is a man of peace, despite the lies spread by his opponents.

The South African government gave La Tortue short shrift , while President Aristide responded as I expected he would, in character.

"October 1, 2004, one day following a lawful demonstration in Haiti, de facto prime minister Gerard LaTortue acknowledged that he is a killer. In a publicly broadcast radio interview about the demonstration he declared: "We fired on them. Some died others were wounded, and others fled."

"A shocking and appalling admission; all the more reprehensible when made by a so-called public official. The statement was confirmed the next day ... LaTortue crossed the line; he unleashed a new torrent of repression in Haiti and is now looking for a scapegoat. He is attempting to bury his self incriminating statements with lies. LaTortue-s lies come after his salute of convicted criminals as "freedom fighters"; his de facto government's exoneration of one in a hasty, overnight trial; his consent in allowing soldiers of the disbanded brutal army to take charge and remain in charge of entire areas of the country; and his sanctioning their use of violence."

President Aristide then appealed for a change of course towards peace:

"LaTortue, stop the lying, stop the killings. Start paving the way for a dialogue which we have unceasingly invoked these past three and a half years.
"True dialogue is the only solution. With the lives of millions at stake, public officials must act responsibly. As we have repeatedly declared: violence and murder are not the answer. During these past eight months thousands of Haitians have been killed in defense of democratic principles. The Haitian people clearly want peace and a return to a state of law. Let us work to bring a tumultuous bicentennial year to a close with a lasting political solution that is imperative to the future of our nation."

The world's press does not pay much attention to President Aristide.

He is out of Favour with the Lords of the Earth.

The world Press does not try to investigate what is happening in Haiti. Like William Jennings Bryan they seem to think that the Haitians are pretending to a position above their station "Imagine! Niggers speaking French!!!"

But it was these people who ushered in the modern age, who translated the Enlightenment into reality, by rising up, and by overthrowing and abolishing slavery. Two hundred years ago the Haitians spoke powerfully and decisively on behalf of humanity, on behaalf of all the wretched and enslaved of the earth.

It is long past time for us to speak for them.

But is Mr Patterson listening? Is Mr Annan paying attention? And where, on this planet, can we locate the conscience of Colin Powell?

03 October 2004

A Toast to the American Press

Common Sense
John Maxwell

In theory, the Constitution of the United States of America is a perfect instrument for the defence and protection of its citizens' rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Four years ago, after the process which resulted in the designation of George W. Bush as President of the U.S.A., I remarked "This presents us with several serious problems. We have discovered, if we hadn't suspected it before, that the United States is not, in fact, a democracy, as most people understand it. Second, it is now clear to some of us that the systems which are supposed to provide checks and balances against tyranny do not work and probably cannot work. Third, that no form of voting can guarantee clean elections in the absence of a national will exercisable at the most local and parochial level."

Four years after that statement was published the world has witnessed, among other things:
  • The illegal invasion of Iraq, justified by transparent lies about terrorism and weapons of mass destruction;
  • Consequent on the illegal invasion, the killing by bombing and other indiscriminate action, of more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians;
  • The illegal removal of President Aristide of Haiti on grounds which have not yet been put forward;
  • The imprisonment or deportation or 'rendering' without trial or charge of thousands of people distinguished only by the fact that they are not true blue, Americans;
  • The disappearance of at least a dozen so-called terrorists who may have been sent to other countries to be tortured and perhaps murdered on the orders of the Attorney General of the United States;
  • The torture and illegal imprisonment of an unknown number of Iraqi citizens whose only crime apparently, is that they are suspected of having tried to defend their country against an illegal aggression;
  • The rescuing, from a Panamanian jail and the release in the United States of convicted terrorists and assassins who had, in addition to their previous crimes, been preparing to kill President Castro and other heads of state as they met in conference in Panama in 2002.
In almost every one of these instances, the spirit if not the letter of the laws of the United States as well as International law and treaties were savaged.

The Fourth Estate

The American Press have long gloried in their depiction as the Fourth Estate of the realm in - the words of Lord Macaulay. Constitutional amendments were passed to protect the Freedom of the Press, without which, it is held, democracy cannot exist. In America, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press have established beachheads of privilege which give the press more protection than exists in any other country on earth.

Despite these protections, the American people are now less free than at any time in their history, including their history as British subjects.

Their wealth has been stolen by speculators, criminals in the guise of businessmen, and by the U.S. government itself, to hand over to a 'cognitive elite' who, half a century ago, would have been perfectly happy paying their excess profits taxes.

As the American citizens were led like lambs to the slaughter in the last stock market bubble, and as they were led, protesting into Iraq, the Press, privileged and protected, found it impossible to defend their societies against the ruthless predators feeding on their young and their treasure.

Today, as the Americans face one of the great watersheds in their history, the Press has found it impolitic to expose and condemn the traps and pitfalls being sedulously laid in their paths.

It has taken an 80-year old ex-president of the United States to expose the wholesale corruption of the democratic process now gathering speed in Florida. The Press has dismissed President Carter's exposure as a bagatelle, just as they have the reports which demolish the lies constructed to lead to war. The American Press seems more exercised about the threat of one journalist going to jail than it has been about more than a thousand young Americans and ten times that many Iraqis being slaughtered in Iraq.

The theory was that if all else failed, the Press would ride to the rescue of the republic. If the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary had been captured by one party with malign intentions, the press would expose, criticise and make any high crimes and misdemeanours impossible to complete.

That was then.

Then, if we look back at history, it is apparent that something has been seriously wrong with U.S. democracy for a long time. In the 1950's, President Eisenhower's Chief of Staff, former Governor Sherman Adams was disgraced for accepting an alpaca coat for doing someone a favour. The next republican Administration saw the Vice President going to jail, the forced resignation to avoid impeachment and prosecution of the President, the arrest, trial and imprisonment of the core of the White House administration (Haldeman, Erlichman and Co.) for their part in Nixon's crimes.

The next Republican Administration, Reagan's, was distinguished by the illegal invasion of Grenada, by the financing of murderous governments and death squads in Central America (Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Salvador) and by the Iran Contra scandal the conviction of Reagan aides Michael Deaver and Lyn Nofziger and the indictment (and pardon) of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger; nor should we forget the ineffable William Casey, head of the CIA and the man who recruited Osama bin Laden and trained him in terrorism to fight against the Russians in Afghanistan. And George Bush I's Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, helped arm and advise Saddam Hussain in his war against Iran. And lawbreaking and conspiracy to defeat the aims of the constitution continued under both Bush presidencies.

Conduct Unbecoming

So it cannot surprise anyone that the Republican party of George Bush II is riddled with corruption from top to bottom. The Vice President, Mr. Cheney is obviously one of the world's most fluent liars as well as an uncouth bully. The presidential campaign has accepted the character assassination attempts of liars and con-men in an effort to destroy the reputation of the opposition candidate. It is involved in all kinds of underhand conduct, gerrymandering in Texas, intimidation In Florida and a variety of stratagems to subvert the will of the people of the United States.

And, like the band on the deck of the Titanic, the Press plays on, unmoved by any outrage, undisturbed by any abuse of the public interest, excited only by direct attacks on their most compliant stooges - flustered and upset that federal judges are threatening to send high class reporters to jail for their part in covering up an illegal conspiracy.

You will excuse me if I don't weep as the revolution begins to eat its children. Judith Miller, now threatened with jail, was an integral part of the massive conspiracy to delude the American people and the world. Last year, in April, my column "What can they be smoking?" cited one of Ms. Miller's works of art.

The New York Times last Monday came up with a prime piece of hogwash, a dispatch from Judith Miller in Iraq, which claimed that a captured Iraqi scientist to whom she had not spoken, had told unnamed American soldiers that Saddam Hussain had given orders - just before the war began- for the dismantling of all his weapons of mass destruction. The story gave other fascinating hints about Iraqi connections to Al Qaeda, and so on, a veritable rijstafel of propaganda delicacies, designed, it seemed, to confirm all the egregious lies manufactured by the U.S. to provide an excuse for blowing away Saddam. The NYT treated the item as serious news and it was picked up and distributed by all the usual suspects.

It seems to me that if a poor, superannuated journalist like me, 5000 miles from the scene of action, can detect such B-S, then other, more eminent practitioners closer to the scene should be able to detect it too.

But they did not, and it was only a few months ago that the New York Times saw fit to apologise for some of the hogwash it had been dispensing for so long.

It is a waste of time to go over all the instances in which the Press has betrayed its trust, hoodwinked its audiences and soiled the proud traditions of writers and journalsts as disparate as I.F. Stone, H.L. Mencken, Edward R. Murrow, A.J. Leibling, Upton Sinclair, and Ida Tarbell. But Woodward and Bernstein are still writing, still younger than I, but they, like the rest of the delinquent leadership of the American press are all millionaires now and so blinded by self interest, their fates yoked not to the people they are supposed to serve, but to the corporations that employ them and the stock markets that mesmerize them.

A recent study by the Los Angeles Times which has not been followed up by anyone else, as far as I can tell, has exposed the myth of the New American paradigm. The LA Times took as its starting point, a 40 year tracking study underwritten by the National Science Foundation and run by the University of Michigan. In brief, what the Times study shows is not only that the American middle class has not prospered over the last 20 years, but that their overall social and economic position has been seriously undermined.

The Chicago School of Friedman, Becker aet al coupled with the anti-social policies of Reaganism-Thatcherism, has sent middle class incomes into reverse while exposing them families to much more risk than before.

Politicians, conservative and 'liberal/left', starting with German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and continuing through Franklin Roosevelt, Clement Atlee, et al, tried to make capitalism more humane, to make it more 'civilised.' That was the purpose of the now derided Welfare State, the point of which was to contain discontent and to defuse the possibilities for revolution.

The Bush counter-revolution is moving quite openly to separate the world again into recognizable haves and have-nots, slaves and slavemasters, to place the elite within the gates and the rest outside the fence modelled in "the Bell Curve".

Which is why Haiti was invaded, and why last week, Haitian businessmen were so desperate to get Congress to pass a law which would allow them to establish Haiti as the first country in which human rights would be defined by employers' profits.

It is why the Hart Group is closing its factories in Montego Bay, laying off about 700 workers, because they cannot compete with Chinese labour whose wages would buy barely one Jamaican patty a day.

And, for all that, we can thank our protectors of the press, the eyes and ears of the public, the protectors of the poor and helpless, the upholders iof public decency, the defenders of the truth and the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you that paradigm of all the virrtues, that exemplar of best practice and sterling ethical standards, I give you: The American Press...

And God Save the Queen!