Competing ads, a rare instance of investigative journalism and a hard-right embrace of AZ's Apartheid 'Pass Law,' helps close Poizner's gap against front-runner Whitman...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/16/2010, 10:31pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In "Meg Whitman, Wall Street, 'Billionaire Sociopaths' and the Media 'Substance Deficit,'" we noted:

Californians have been drawn within the cross-hairs of a propaganda blitz bought and paid for by Meg Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of eBay, who, since declaring her intent to run for governor in February, 2009, has already contributed $59 million of her own money to her "campaign" --- a one-sided political phenomenon which has seen a stealth candidate, with disturbing connections to Goldman Sachs, soar to the top of the polls because the electoral process has been emasculated by the absence of mandatory debates and meaningful investigative journalism.

Now comes a SurveyUSA poll, conducted May 6-9, revealing that Whitman's once commanding lead over CA Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has all but evaporated. Where she led Poizner by 22% on April 22, Whitman is now said to hold a meager 2% lead. One suspects that, in the wake of a hard-hitting, front page May 12 Los Angeles Times article, "Whitman's words put spotlight on deeds," Whitman's once-commanding lead may soon become a deficit.

The Los Angeles Times followed up on May 13 with a separate piece, "Companies challenged Poizner business claims," which revealed that a major portion of Poizner's wealth was acquired when SnapTrack Inc., the company Poizner founded, was sold to Qualcomm. Poizner claims SnapTrack invented mobile-phone GPS technology. In pending lawsuits, other companies accused SnapTrack of infringing intellectual property rights, and, the Times reports, "as SnapTrack developed its GPS technology, Poizner faced another test of his entrepreneurial skills, as a special interest trying to bend the Washington regulatory process his way."

The drastic change in the recent public opinion polls is tied not only to the fact that her fellow billionaire Poizner unleashed his own paid-for propaganda (ad) blitz, deconstructing Whitman's one-sided narrative. Nor is the change tied only to hard-hitting, if overdue, front page newspaper exposés on the facts behind how these two rapacious "business people" amassed their fortunes.

Disturbingly, Poizner's late gain in the polls may be attributed to his open embrace of Arizona's version of apartheid South Africa's infamous "pass laws." Poizner's is a cynically calculated effort to scapegoat immigrants while deflecting attention from the true source of California's fiscal woes: the very same billionaire sociopath economics in which both he and Whitman amassed their fortunes...

Embracing Arizona's Apartheid

Arizona's SB-1070 bears a striking resemblance to apartheid South Africa's infamous "pass laws" except that where South Africa's pass laws required non-whites to carry their papers only when needed to demonstrate an authorized presence in white areas, Arizona's pass law, on paper, ostensibly requires everyone to carry proof of citizenship at all times.

In practice, SB-1070 is indistinguishable from South Africa's "pass laws" because it is to be enforced only where someone's appearance gives rise to a "reasonable suspicion" they may possibly be "illegals" --- a form of racial profiling which opens up the distinct possibility that amongst those who will undergo this form of racist humiliation will be Native Americans, whose ancestors were present in Arizona long before the ancestors of the racist Anglo-Americans responsible for the abomination that is SB-1070 arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent.

Oh, of course, both Arizona's unelected Republican Governor Jan Brewer and Alaska's former Republican Governor Sarah "bridge to nowhere" Palin have sought to deflect criticism of the "show me your papers" law. Brewer said that criticism amounted to "hysteria." Palin said the idea that SB-1070 will result in racial profiling was a "myth."

As aptly covered by Rachel Maddow (video below), their denials of racial profiling ring hollow.

Both Palin and Brewer take the position that the law only allows the police to stop someone and demand their papers where there is a "reasonable suspicion" they are in the country illegally. Neither Brewer nor Palin spell out just what factors, other than skin color, manner of dress or the language one speaks, give rise to a "reasonable suspicion" of illegal status --- and you can be damned sure that blond hair and blue eyes will not be seen by Arizona police as giving rise to a "suspicion" of "illegal" status.

When directly confronted, the dissembling Brewer replied: "I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like."

Any doubts as to the racial animus behind the Arizona pass law were eliminated when the same Arizona legislature passed HB-2281, which seeks to eliminate or at least curtail ethnic studies classes. The bill's suggestion that it is improper to tailor a class in school towards an ethnic group reveals the same type of racial animus and fears of diversity that were in play during the 19th and early 20th Century when Native Americans were forced to refrain from using their own languages and cultures as part of an effort to force their assimilation into American (that is, white American) culture. It is the same animus one could find in the English-only movement advanced by what the linguist Geoffrey Pullum referred to as "linguistic fascists."

Pima County Legal Defender Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Tuscon-based Coalition for Human Rights, noted that for the past 10-15 years Arizona has experienced an "anti-immigrant hysteria." She described the anti-ethnic studies measure as a means of "cultural cleansing."

Certainly, doubts as to the racial animus behind SB-1070 did not exist in the minds of the Los Angeles City Council, which, in voting to curtail travel to and doing business with Arizona compared Arizona's "show me your papers" law to early measures used to restrict the civil liberties of German Jews which served as a precursor to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany --- an apt comparison which --- notwithstanding the protestations of Glenn "gaping-holes-in-his-logic" Beck --- underscores the gravity of cynical efforts by politicians to use race and dehumanization as a means to acquire political power.

Race Rhetoric and the Long-Standing Record of the American Hard-Right

In From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: Race in the Conservative Counterrevolution 1963-1994, Dan T. Carter documents numerous occasions in which the American Right, both overtly and subtly, utilized race and dehumanization as a cornerstone of political strategy --- starting with former Alabama Governor George Wallace, who ran in 1958 as a progressive on economic issues and a moderate on race. After he lost to segregationist John Malcolm Patterson, Wallace quipped, "no other son-of-a-bitch will ever out-nigger me again."

After Whitman acknowledged that if Arizona's SB-1070 had come before her, she would have opposed it, Poizner pulled a page out of the George Wallace playbook by openly embracing it. In the past, Poizner opposed such laws.

Poizner earlier asserted, without a shred of proof, that illegal immigrants had cost the state of California "billions of dollars each year."

In truth, "illegal immigrants generate more than they cost the U.S. economy."

Without any facts or analysis to back it up, Poizner shamelessly asserted that illegal immigrants were a major source of California's budget problems.

As we noted in "Engineering California's Economic Collapse," the true source of California's massive deficits and looming economic collapse is to be found in the 2001 Bush/Cheney regime-assisted scamming of an unregulated California energy market by Enron and the rest of the Texas-connected energy mafia, and in the Republican "starve the beast" policies intended to bankrupt state government as a precursor to privatization of public functions. In "Meg Whitman, Wall Street, 'Billionaire Sociopaths' and the Media 'Substance Deficit,'" we added the role played by Wall Street banks, especially Goldman Sachs, in fleecing local governments, like Oakland, through unregulated derivatives, such as "interest rate swaps" into that algorithm.

In "'Food, Inc.' and the Tyranny of a Corporate Controlled Economy," we reported on NAFTA's dirty little secret; on how some of this nation's wealthiest citizens "not only gorged themselves at the public trough by way of subsidies, but parlayed this into a means to engage in unfair competition in Mexico, selling corn at well below the cost of production." This drove millions of Mexican peasants off the land, creating an over abundance of cheap labor available to the U.S. billionaire class which outsourced U.S. manufacturing, taking a first crucial step in the destruction of an American middle class, whose lifestyle was subsequently maintained by unsustainable debt.

Even as the outsourcing was underway, "American meat packers actively recruited the displaced Mexican farmers, drawing the undocumented into an increasingly consolidated U.S. meat packing industry --- an industry which once paid union wages in the 1950s that were on par with the middle class wages in the auto industry."

And, of course, none of this takes into account the trillions of dollars squandered on Middle Eastern wars so as to make the world safe for the Exxon-Mobil, BP and Chevron bottom lines.

With the top 1% now controlling 70% of the nation's wealth, billionaire sociopaths like Poizner cannot openly run on the reality of corporate America's middle-class destroying policies or the fact that the massive influx of economic refugees from south of the border is a direct product of billionaire greed and a global class war that is masked by the Orwellian label they apply to their pillage of global economies: "free trade." Instead, they opt for the divide-and-conquer strategy, deflecting the uninformed from the true source of their demise to the convenient scapegoat, whom they dehumanize with the objectified "illegal immigrant" label.

And, sadly, the tactic is succeeding. Thanks to the still ongoing corporate media substance deficit, a majority of Americans, unaware of the true source of their economic malaise, have fallen for the divide and conquer race-based strategy of billionaire sociopaths like Steve Poizner.

California's state primary is scheduled for June 8th. Early voting began last week.

UPDATE 05/17/10:The Los Angeles Times reported that, so far, Whitman has spent $64 million of her own personal funds on the CA governor's race as against Poizner's expenditure of $22 million of his own funds. It also reported that Poizner described the L.A. City Council's decision to boycott Arizona as nothing more than an effort "to score cheap political points."

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Rachel Maddow reveals why racial profiling forms the basis for AZ "show me your papers" law...



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Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).