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Autumn in America



Let’s see. Two thousand plus US dead. Tens of thousands of Iraqis dead. one hundred and sixty-one thousand troops now in Iraq–more than ever. Troops continue to kick in doors of civilian homes. US troops taking over civilian homes in Iraq much like the British did to the colonists in the original thirteen colonies. A constitution written by US policy makers passes muster in Iraq after some very curious manipulation of polling places and vote counts. Lawyers for Saddam Hussein fear for their lives after a member of the defense team is murdered. Government death squads composed of Shia and Kurdish militia men who have thrown their lot in with the US fight with Sunni insurgents and murder them in their sleep. In Syria and Lebanon, questionable witnesses known for their Chalabi-like conniving provide the bulk of the evidence in the United Nation’s investigation of the murder of Lebanese businessman al-Hariri. The charges against Damascus lead to calls for regime change. Of course, the fact that Washington routinely murders foreign leaders and their constituents without answering to anyone goes unmentioned. Underlying the whole drama is the reality of that oil and who will control it in the coming decades.

The US press pretends that the involvement of some Sunni insurgent groups and the al-Sadr rebel movement in the upcoming election is an indication that the resistance is putting down its arms, when any student of guerrilla war knows very well that a political front is just another aspect of guerrilla strategy. Afghanistan continues to be a problem for Washington, with more US dead there this year than any other year since the troops went in back in 2001. Civil liberties attorney Lynne Stewart’s appeal to get her conviction thrown out in part because jurors were threatened by the government fails, despite the fact that the charges were the result of her doing her job. The appeals judge disagreed with that contention, stating that her conversations with her client were not covered by the First Amendment. Big energy corporations release their 2005 fall quarter earnings, revealing that they are the biggest ever in their history. Yet, victims of the hurricanes in Louisiana and Texas are kicked out of their temporary homes because the government hasn’t released any funds to help pay the transient housing costs. Of course, the energy companies have already begun their rebuilding efforts–efforts funded by US taxpayers. Oh yeah, here’s a little more on those rebuilding funds–the House Republicans (probably with some unspoken Democratic support) voted to obtain the emergency funds by cutting student loan subsidies and child support enforcement funds, and intend to cut food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid before they are through. Like Representative Obey of Wisconsin said: “They are targeting programs for poor people to pay for tax cuts for rich people.” (CNN 10/28/2005)

In Iran, the new president calls for Israel to be wiped off the map and the west cries foul. While this statement is given more importance than it deserves, Israel continues its military campaign to wipe the nation of Palestine off the map and out of the world’s consciousness. Rosa Parks, one of the heroes in the struggle against US apartheid, is lying in state in the Capitol rotunda–a place she was never very welcome when she was alive. The fight against institutional racism that she helped spark finds its target ever more obscured while at the same time more insidious. Witness the response to the destruction of people’s lives in Louisiana and Mississippi from the hurricanes for confirmation. When the president finally set his feet on the ground in the stricken area, the first destroyed house he talked about was the mansion owned by that proud Son of the Confederacy, Trent Lott. You know the guy–he’s the one who said out loud what many crackers just think: that the US would be a better place if overt racists had won the elections back in the middle part of the last century. Then Rosa Parks wouldn’t be lying in state in the white man’s capitol building. Speaking of protesters; there’s some veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures who attends Kent State University. Yeah, that Kent State–the one where four students were killed for protesting the US invasion of Cambodia back in 1970. That was a watershed–white college kids getting killed by the troops. Anyhow, this veteran got busted at a protest against military recruiters on the Kent State campus and now the university administration wants to expel him from the school. His offense? Climbing the rock wall that the military recruiters brought to campus in an attempt to lure young men and women into joining the army of one. Honor the veterans unless they tell the truth about the war? Long may it wave.

Oh yeah, there’s also this guy named Jose Padilla who’s been in solitary confinement for three years in a federal prison. That in itself isn’t too unusual in this prison nation, but the fact that he has never been charged with anything is. He’s joined, of course, by several hundred (if not thousand) non-US citizens in other jails maintained by Washington around the world. These prisoners don’t even begin to match the numbers stuck inside of prisons in the US. Some are in for violent crimes, some are in for money crimes, and some are in for using drugs. Then there are those who are being detained merely because their papers are not in order or because they don’t have any papers that “allow” them to be in the US legally. Yet, somehow you get the feeling that these aforementioned prisoners have already done more time than any crook with friends in the White House will ever do. Yeah, I’m talking about DeLay and Scooter Libby, just for starters. I won’t even go into the possibility of the war criminals in Washington getting their day in the world court.

Like the hiphop poet KRS-One once said: “What the fuck am I supposed to do?”

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at:




Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at:

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