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September 20-26, 2006

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The Byrne Report

London Calling

By Peter Byrne


Sonoma County's most famous resident, Jack London, wrote a prescient novel in 1907: The Iron Heel. The politically perceptive London, who lived in the hills outside Glen Ellen, fictionalized a 300-year revolutionary war to rescue America from the oligarchy as masterminded by fighters with headquarters in the North Bay. On the run from armies of the Black Hundreds (misguided workers supporting corporate paymasters), London's socialist heroes row past Alcatraz. "Swept on by a flood tide and a fresh wind, we crossed San Pablo Bay in two hours and ran up the Petaluma Creek."

Radical politics were imported to Petaluma by immigrant Jewish communist chicken farmers early in the last century. And on Sunday, Sept. 24, the wisdom of Petaluma's founding fomenters coincides with current necessity once again, as the annual Progressive Festival struts its rhetorical wares at Walnut Park. In addition to dances from the Grassroots Movement and music by the Francisco Herrera Band, Sonoma State University sociology professor Peter Phillips will speak on the topic, "Impeach the President."

How timely. I just bought a copy of the Center for Constitutional Right's Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush. The Center lays out the legal basis for impeaching Bush: high crimes and misdemeanors.

Article One: Violated the Constitution by authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without court warrants.

Article Two: Committed fraud against the United States by lying to and intentionally misleading Congress about the reasons for the Iraq war.

Article Three: Incarcerated citizens and non-citizens without due process of law; condoned torture; and undermined the Constitution's separation of powers.

Article Four: Formally declared his intent to violate laws enacted by Congress (and did so).

Unfortunately, even if the lame-o Democrats take over Congress this fall, I doubt they will screw up the courage to impeach Bush. If Democratic legislators had any intention of thwarting the rise of Judeo-Christo-fascism, they would already be staging sit-ins inside the Capitol Building and stopping our corporativized Congress from cheering as Rumsfeld and Rice incinerate ever more mosques and babies in the Middle East.

In The Iron Heel, London quotes Abraham Lincoln just before he was shot as saying, "Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated into a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

Foreshadowing the philosophy that runs America today, London notes that businessmen have "resurrected the divine right of kings--commercial kings, in their case."

London's protagonist, Ernest Everhard, warns a gathering of plutocrats: "And in the day that we sweep to victory at the ballot-box, and you refuse to turn over to us the government we have constitutionally and peacefully captured, and you demand what we are going to do about it--in that day, I say, we shall answer you; and in the roar of shell and shrapnel and whine of machine guns shall, our answer be couched."

Unfortunately, proletarian victory turns out to be elusive. After the plutocrats kill the public school system, the workers of America call for a general strike and temporarily diminish capitalist profits. In response, the plutocrats transform into oligarchs, who casually mow down the laboring masses with machine guns while mobilizing the media as a weapon and terrorism as a medium of persuasion. Foreseeing the partisan "reporting" of our day, Everhard remarks, "The press of the United States? It is a parasitic growth that battens on the capitalist class. Its function is to serve the established by molding public opinion, and right well it serves it."

But London is confident that the requirements of biological and sociological evolution will result in humans freeing ourselves, albeit painfully, from the criminal rule of the "combinations and trusts." Compassion and rational economics will replace the brutal incompetence of monopoly capitalism.

But don't rely only upon London for an analysis of necessity. Think about President Dwight Eisenhower's warning that American democracy even then was being subverted by the military industrial complex. And think about the Walt Disney Co.'s ABC hiring of Republican Thomas H. Kean, who headed the 9-11 Commission, to produce its falsified docudrama about 9-11, and what that means about the credibility of his commission. Think about how immigrants are demonized as the plutocracy prepares to become the oligarchy by nullifying the Constitution.

If impeached, Bush might unleash his Black Hundreds drawn, London writes, from "the labor castes and the great hordes of secret agents and police of all sorts pledged to the oligarchy." If so, watch out, progressives of Petaluma.

Indefinite detention is designed for dissidents of all stripes.


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