Tag Archives: history


30 Oct

Privatizing First Responders: the New Carpetbaggers, By Louise Annarino, October 30, 2012

April 22,1970. My friend Daisy Ouwelein saw the fruition of her organizing work on the campus of The Ohio State University as we celebrated the first Earth Day with millions of fellow Americans. Rachel Carson had published SILENT SPRING a year earlier, alerting us to the dangers of DDT and pesticides. In 1969 a massive oil spill despoiled the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Dead rivers carried industrial pollutants to the Great Lakes. Daisy had asked my help to promote and involve others in the day’s activities: Senatorial Candidate and former astronaut John Glenn spoke about his proposed anti-pollution legislation in Hitchcock Hall. Students learned about their “responsibility of the land” from the editor of Field and Stream magazine,Mike Frome, at the Ohio Union. Students walked the polluted Olentangy River which flowed through campus, many students needing medical treatment for rashes and infections after wading or being jokingly thrown in it. Organizing workshops were held on how to handle and fight environmental problems.

Earth Day’s founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media and persuaded Congressman Pete McCloskey, (R-CA)to serve as co-chair. His National Coordinator  Dennis Hayes, with a staff of 85, promoted events across the country. http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement. Students nationwide were already mobilized on college campuses in opposition to the Viet-Nam War. At OSU, students were in the midst of protests to end campus racism and establish a Black Studies Department, as well as end the war. The environmental movement became part of our generation’s understanding that the corporate world was using us as fodder for war and profit, with no concern for the destruction of human and environmental ecology.

Today, we see a continuing battle against these forces who refute the overwhelming evidence of climate change, genetically modify our foods, and wage war to seize and control natural and labor resources. They continue to pollute our soil/ air/ water, create disease in our children; and ask us to accept that “based on rates from 2007-2009, 41.24% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 2 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites during their lifetime.” http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html#incidence-mortality

As I watch events unfold over eastern 1/3 of The U.S. from Hurricane, now Tropical Storm, Sandy I wonder at those who would vote for a candidate who openly attacks environmental regulation and control, is unwilling to maintain and fund FEMA, who seizes and controls labor at home and abroad by outsourcing jobs,and who questions the very existence of climate change.  Presidential candidate Romney states that “it is immoral” for the government to pay for emergency responders, passing on the cost to his grand-children. Instead he argues that emergency response should be “privatized”. I for one do not want to sit in my attic as waters rise, wondering if a private company finds it profitable to rescue me, or if a private fire company thinks my home is worth saving from a fire. Think I exaggerate? It has already happened because of a  Tennessee family’s failure to pay a $75 fee.

Imagine if emergency services had been privatized in New York on 9-11; or today while first responders search and rescue in Atlantic City, NJ and across the Eastern Seaboard. Imagine if the unions of government workers had failed to oppose efforts to eliminate government workers. When there is trouble of this magnitude, when so many lives are threatened and our cities face unimaginable  infrastructure losses, “Who Ya Gonna Call?” Ghostbusters? No, city, county and state workers, the national guard and the coast guard. And who is going to coordinate this effort across geopolitical boundaries? And who is going to assist smaller towns and cities to handle the heavy costs incurred? The federal government, FEMA, and a president who keeps private profit out of the formula to maximize results at lowest possible cost, spread wide to absorb the sticker shock for an individual person or community. This is how it works best. This is what we have learned over time.

Those who ask us to privatize government functions are the new “carpetbaggers”. Like those carpetbaggers who descended upon a broken South when it was at its most vulnerable, to make personal profit as it struggled to restore some economic stability, today’s carpetbaggers have targeted the entire country,perhaps the entire world, as an “easy mark”. I have mentioned before the shell game https://worthingtonforobama2012.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/a-debate-or-a-shell-game-whom-does-romney-think-he-is-kiddingby-louise-annarino-october-1-2012/ being played out during the 2012 election. As you watch events unfold over the next hours and days, keep in mind that increasing environmental threats are real. Our first responders are even more important to our survival and entitled to not only our thanks, but to our financial support for the risks they take to protect us. They come when called out of civic duty; not to profit off our suffering.



19 Oct



Contests leave a lot to be desired. “No purchase necessary.” Hah! Who believes that? Buy the wrong size drink or fries? No prize piece; no chance to win. Yet, we expect our candidate to win the presidency; “no purchase necessary.” CITIZENS UNITED shocks our sensibilities. But, it is only unique in its scale. This is not the first breath of life into corporations. That was done long ago.


Early Rome recognized a group as a single fictional person. As early as 1444, the Rolls of Parliament stated “they [the Master and Brethren of the Hospital] by that same name mowe be persones able to purchase Londez and Tenementz of all manere persones.” Blackstone defines legal persons: “Natural persons are such as the God of nature formed us; artificial are such as are created and devised by human laws for the purposes of society and government, which are called corporations or bodies politic.” Why create such a legal fiction? To allow corporations to do their business: lease, buy or sell property, hire and fire employees, enter into contracts of all sorts. As England moved from a cottage industry into guilds, and then into the industrial age entrepreneurs created new ownership groups to organize workers and manage production. They needed the legal fiction of personhood to conduct business.


Some of these management groups were benevolent bosses;many were not. Nevertheless, workers found it ever more difficult to assure safe workplaces, reasonable hours and wages, and fair treatment. Child labor was rampant, seven day/18 hour workdays were not uncommon. Tenements were built alongside work sites for ease of access and assurance of a constantly available workforce. Workers were locked in to work sites. We no longer remember this in the West, but we can see it happening even today elsewhere in developing industrial economies. We see the abuse of corporations from Shell Oil in East Africa to FoxConn (Apple supplier) in China. In the West workers united amidst bloody attacks to form labor unions, opposed at every step by corporations. Unions remain under attack in Ohio, Wisconsin, and in any state where there is a Republican governor, or Republican-controlled state legislature.


Corporations, like real persons, do not like ANY regulation or control of their behavior, especially while trying to make money off someone else’s labor. Their lobbyists assure politicians protect their interests and assure their unbridled freedom. In return, through campaign contributions, ALEC and SuperPacs they assure politicians re-election, a high-paying job after they leave public-service, and life-long connections to fictional persons of wealth and power. This, too, is not new.


Queen Elizabeth was a somewhat secret partner with English Seadogs, or pirates; overlooking their attacks on Spanish and French fleets, and taking a share of the loot. The difference between a pirate and a privateer depended on whom was being robbed and who helped do the looting. To the gentry of England, who along with their Queen loaned and outfitted ships hoping for a share of Spanish gold they were privateers; to the French and Spanish, pirates. Practiced in maritime attack, Elizabeth mobilized them to help defeat the Spanish armada and destroy Spanish dominance of the seas, and of the newly-discovered Americas. This opened an era of English exploration and colony development, including Jamestown, Virginia (named after the Virgin Queen Elizabeth).


So protected were these Captains of (Industry) the Seas that they were knighted by their Queen: Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir John Hawkins, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Richard Grenville were all first and foremost pirates. She bridled their freedom only to the extent she was permitted to share in their loot, enrich her coffers and assure her continued rule. Otherwise she assisted them in their piracy. Congress  limits today’s “Great Pirates”, corporations, only to the extent it is permitted to share in their loot. CITIZENS UNITED was inevitable. Any one of you have a game piece? Or only our politicians?


Labor unions, teachers unions, environmental groups, civil rights groups (African-American,Latino,GLBT,veterans,immigrants etc) don’t begin to have the power assured to corporations. There is no comparison. They are not given game pieces; they have to buy the right person to get a game piece! They have to elect a politician who will put them in the game. They have to elect a politician who will appoint judges and Supreme Court justices who will understand how the game is played and make it more fair to everyone; and, assure that everyone has an equal chance to win, assure that everyone has a piece of the game.


The person willing to do so, President Barack Obama, is the greatest threat to the Great Pirates… ever. The great pirates will do all they can to attack and defeat him; with the full support of those in Congress they control (with whom they share their loot), blocking his every move of the Ship of State. We cannot let them win. It will not be easy. We have little time left. We must support President Barack Obama for president. We must throw out those in Congress who help the great pirates. We must support labor unions, civil rights groups, environmentalists.

“We are in this game together” means nothing to the great pirates  because they hold all the game pieces. This must end if we Americans are to truly win; not just a second term for Barack Obama, but a chance for the 98% to play the game.


TEDDY,BOOKER T. AND BARACK: JOHN 8:32,By Louise Annarino,September 16, 2012

16 Sep

TEDDY, BOOKER T. AND BARACK: JOHN 8:32,By Louise Annarino, September 16,2012


Republican Teddy Roosevelt has always been one of my favorite presidents. His Rough Riders embodied his personality when he charged up San Juan Hill on his way to the presidency. He was a man of action, admired by most, resented by party bosses in New York who tried to derail his political influence. They failed. Recently, I have been reading about his dinner with Booker T. Washington in the private quarters of the White House. Mr. Washington had been advising President Roosevelt on government appointments in the South,both men trying to find a common ground for the benefit of African-Americans facing horrific back-lash after initial political successes. Washington hoped to ease into place judges and other government administrators who would chart a fair and just path through institutional racism which was openly being laid through every governmental body. Roosevelt hoped to turn around the animosity of the Southern electorate toward Republicans, whose first president,Abraham Lincoln, had ended slavery and in the southern mind destroyed the south. These two men were fighting the nascent southern strategy. It is the same strategy put in play against efforts to elect,and re-elect, President Obama.


One evening, Roosevelt invited Washington to family dinner where he intended to discuss such issues. The two men had engaged in this endeavor secretly, to avoid the anticipated antipathy to such cooperation. The outcry to this dinner throughout the country was not because of what the two discussed; but, that Washington was allowed to share the table of white man and his family, with his wife present, in the White House no less. The sin committed was the sin of social equality. White America could not accept the right of a Black man to enter the white house except as a servant to the white man.


Today, I listened to the Sunday morning talk shows, to talking heads discussing the insult to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because The Black Man did not invite the white man to the White House, the insult to Israel because the Black man did not follow the white man’s advice regarding handling Iran’s uranium enrichment activities. To be fair to Mr. Netanyahu, he is being used by the NeoCons to attack the Black man,and further their own agenda; but they are no friend to Israel,nor to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Using Israel and Iran as a political football is diplomatically dangerous. However, the need to dispossess the uppity Black man with the audacity (of hope) to dine (not set the table for others) in the White House, and invite whom he chooses to dine with him is just too easy a target for the right-wing ideologues, among which Netanyahu claims alliances.


This was not all which was discussed today. Megan McCain has joined Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan et al in continuing the lie that President Obama apologized for and sympathized with those who attacked our embassies and killed our ambassador. Said a Romney Advisor: No Attacks If He Was Prez. Richard Williamson is a top foreign policy aide to Mr. Romney. Implying there would be no protests if Romney were in charge, he further stated  “There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation…In Egypt and Libya and Yemen, again demonstrations — the respect for America has gone down, there’s not a sense of American resolve and we can’t even protect sovereign American property.”


This is hypocritical grandstanding considering that Mr. Williamson was an official in the Bush administration when embassies were engulfed by protesters offended by a Danish cartoon. President Bush rightly condemned the cartoon as “unacceptable” while repeating America’s dedication to free speech. Williamson was  a diplomat serving in the U.N. in 2003 when U.N. Headquarters in Iraq was savagely attacked which killed 22 people including its top envoy,causing with-drawl from Iraq for several years. Mr. Williamson applies a different test for President Obama than for himself or his party. This is the latest effort to paint Obama as un-American. It is the latest set of lies and distortions.


One hopes there is room for disagreements on foreign policy. One expects political attacks. One also expects some circumspection while our security apparatus hunts for American victims, and our embassies continue to go up in flames. Insight and wisdom must also be expected. Fairness and support toward our leaders in the field making the tough decisions moment-by-moment through a crisis is the least we should expect. Politics should never trump national security.


Attacks will soon enough be acceptable within the public discourse. However the political attacks must be truthful.Teddy Roosevelt would have agreed. The Kansas City Star reported his remarks on this subject on May 7,1918:

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand  by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should bespoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”

Teddy Roosevelt learned much by listening to Booker T. Washington. In a letter to a friend he explained “I have always been fond of the West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” THEODORE ROOSEVELT,A LIFE,Nathan Miller, page 337. President Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship In a Republic”,delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23,1910 could describe both men:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

President Teddy Roosevelt could have been describing  Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, and Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He could also be describing the embassy staff in Egypt who tried to prevent an escalation of anger by issuing a statement,American diplomatic staff throughout  the world, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Roosevelt could also have been describing President Barack Obama, who speaks softly but carries the big stick of Commander-in-Chief who brought to justice Al Quaeda’s leaders including Osama bin Laden.

Will America face difficulties in this rapidly changing,inter-connected world? Of course. At its helm I prefer a person who leads with dignity,wisdom,and a big stick while speaking softly. For a soft voice calms a room to quiet for those wanting to listen and willing to learn the TRUTH about America. Those who lie lose the attention of truth seekers, the peace-makers of the world. Those who love freedom love truth: “For you shall know the truth, and the Truth shall set you free” John 8:32.

President Obama has avoided the trap of putting politics above national interest. He follows a long line of presidents, Republican- like Teddy Roosevelt, and Democratic-like Teddy’s cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who did likewise. Romney would be wise to follow their lead,but Teapublicans will never allow it.