Texas` Debra Medina, The Fahad Hashmi case: Grounds for Hope and Despair

My February 16 column,

A Country of Serfs Ruled By
received confirmation from high places on the very
day it appeared. Popular Indiana Democratic U.S. Senator
Evan Bayh announced that he was quitting the Senate.
Yahoo News

gave this account

"In an interview on MSNBC this morning, newly retiring Sen. Evan Bayh
declared the American political system `dysfunctional,`
riddled with `brain-dead partisanship` and permanent
campaigning. Flatly denying any possibility that he`d
seek the presidency or any other higher office, Bayh
argued that the American people needed to deliver a
`shock` to Congress by voting incumbents out in mass and
replacing them with people interested in reforming the
process and governing for the good of the people, rather
than deep-pocketed special-interest groups."

In short, Senator Bayh got tired of
being a whore for the corporate lobbyists who rule the

As Shamus Cooke

same day,  I
the last election voters gave the Democrats a super
majority in the mistaken belief that Democrats would
remove U.S. policy from the corporate/neocon
grip only to find that the result was a surge in
America`s wars of aggression.

There are grounds for hope in the
fact that some of the Tea Party people understand that
Americans have been betrayed and abandoned by both

An unusual candidate has emerged
for governor of Texas.

Debra Medina
is doing well with popular support
without machine politics. She has an intriguing idea to

abolish the property tax in Texas.

Medina makes the valid point that
the property tax is a permanent government lien on a
person`s home. A person never owns his home even after
the mortgage is paid off, because he has to continue
paying government for the right to live in his home.

Many elderly people have found that
a lifetime of inflation and rising real estate
assessments have pushed up the tax on their homes so
much that it accounts for a large percentage of their
retirement incomes. In Alexandria, Virginia, for
example, the local government has a program by which the
elderly can avoid property tax in exchange for letting
the government inherit the property. It is the heirs who
are dispossessed.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation
studied Medina`s proposal and concluded that a rise in
the Texas sales tax from 8.25 percent to 8.8 percent
would allow the property tax to be abolished as long as
some untaxed services, such as mining services, drilling
services, legal services, and limousine services were
brought into the tax base.

If Medina is a real representative
of the people, she comprises a threat to the oligarchy.
The oligarchy will go after her with every known dirty
trick. Will Texans stand by her?

Grounds for hope are not easily
come by, but plentiful are the grounds for despair. 
My recent article,

It Is Now
Official: The U.S. Is A Police State
, also
received confirmation on February 16 with the appearance
of Pulitzer prize-winning American journalist Chris
Hedges interview with
Russia Today
on Information Clearing House. [Video]

Asked about the Fahad Hashmi case,
Hedges pointed out that Hashmi is a U.S. citizen whose
every constitutional right has been violated just as if
he were an "enemy
a designation used to justify holding

in indefinite detention.
Moreover, Hedges reported
that Hashmi is not being prosecuted for committing or
planning an act of terror. He is being prosecuted
"for what he
or to be more precise Hashmi is being
prosecuted for expressing dissent. The government`s
evidence against him is tape recordings of speeches he
made at Brooklyn College as a student activist
denouncing U.S. policies.

These tapes will be played to a
patriotic jury likely to convict him for being a Muslim
and an anti-American.

As Hedges emphasizes, Hashmi`s
conviction would make expression of dissent an
indictable offense. If expressing dissent is a crime,
then thinking it will also be a crime. The government
will produce manuals for its police on how to read body
language and facial expressions as indicators of thought

The rapidity with which the U.S. is
being transformed into a police state is astonishing. It
has occurred under the guise of
"the war on
itself a product of 9/11. Americans were
told that the police state regime was only for
terrorists, but like RICO`s asset freezes, which were
only for the Mafia, and the war on drugs` asset
forfeitures, which were only for drug lords, the
suspension of constitutionally guaranteed civil
liberties now extends to all.

Americans regard such warnings as
hyperbole. They think they are safe as long as they are
not doing anything wrong. In other words, they think
that anyone the government picks up must be guilty.

This view shows a remarkable
ignorance of the 20th century. Nazi concentration camps
and the Soviet Gulag were full of people who had done
nothing wrong. Many were people demonized for being of
the wrong race and class. Others were people reported by
envious neighbors or by someone settling a score. The
system didn`t care, because it existed independently of
any concerns about justice or security.

In the 1990s I saw a Russian movie
about the Stalin era. The main character was a Soviet
war hero, personally praised by Stalin. In his home area
he had enormous authority and could order off Soviet
military maneuvers that impinged on the collective
farm`s crops. One day a KGB agent shows up who wants the
war hero`s beautiful wife. The war hero is amused that a
mere KGB agent thinks he has power over him.
"Wait until
Stalin hears about this,"
he says as he comes out in
his military uniform with his medals and confidently
drives away with the agent to be beaten and disappeared
into the gulag. Even if Stalin would have cared, he
would never have known.

Police states remove accountability
from those in authority. One result is to remove
constraints on behavior. Even when there are
constraints, some spouses abuse one another and some
parents abuse children. Some people abuse animals. Even
many Americans have abusive tendencies as Abu Ghraib
makes completely clear.

It starts with little things and
works its way up. Tens of thousands of people have
experienced unsatisfactory encounters with the
Transportation Safety Administration, otherwise known as
the airport police. In a recent case a police officer
and his wife were taking their 4-year-old son to Disney
World for his birthday. The child has to wear

leg braces
due to problems associated with his
premature birth. The TSA screener ordered the braces
removed before the boy could walk through the detector.
But, of course, the boy could not walk without the
braces. The police officer and his wife were stunned to
find that TSA cannot tell the difference between an
American police officer and his disabled child and a
terrorist threat.

A police state has no need to
differentiate. Those Americans who don`t care what
happens to Fahad Hashmi, Aafia Siddiqui, Omar Khadr, and
countless others are opening themselves to similar
treatment and the rest of us along with them.

Paul Craig Roberts [email
] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan`s
first term.  He was Associate Editor of the
Street Journal.  He has held numerous academic
appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair,
Center for Strategic and International Studies,
Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow,
Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded
the Legion of Honor by French President Francois
Mitterrand. He is the author of

Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington
and the Soviet Economy

Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
and is the co-author
with Lawrence M. Stratton of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
. Click

for Peter
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.
His latest bookHow The Economy Was Lost,

has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press.