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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/6/08

Martial Law?

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   4 comments
Message Jayne Stahl
 Now that Congress has passed the largest bailout measure in U.S. history, it's more obvious every day that the American taxpayer has been sold a bill of goods. How has the passage of this obscene $750 billion bill helped to stabilize the stock market, here or abroad? Thanks to us, Europe now knows where to find the panic button.

The more we find out about what happened behind the scenes, and what some, like Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman, call an atmosphere of "fear-mongering," the more evident it becomes what led many to push the panic button more as a reflex action than a reasoned thought.

All the best economic minds, in the country, advised against the transfusion of billions of dollars of consumer capital into the accounts of investment giants. The most astute economists suggested that, at best, the rescue plan was tantamount to putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. Still, it was the kind of climate, in Congress, in which talk of the imposition of "martial law," and other equally dire consequences, that produced results which may, at best, be seen as a placebo. And, to paraphrase a great American patriot, "Give me placebos, or give me death."

Lest you think the only patriots left are dead guys, you may recall, last week, a Democratic congressman from California, Brad Sherman's, startling revelation that a few of his colleagues in the House were warned that if they voted down the bailout measure, martial law would be imposed in America.

Now a San Diego private attorney general, Paul Andrew Mitchell, intends to pursue a criminal investigation into whether the implied threat of martial law constitutes conspiracy "to engage in a pattern of racketeering activities," or extortion. Whether this lawsuit has teeth, or is found to be frivilous, in the end, isn't really what's important here. One cannot, after all, yell "fire" in a crowded movie theatre, with impunity, so why should anyone be allowed to yell "police state" in the halls of Congress without consequence?

As you know, the power to suspend habeas corpus is a legislative one, and the President must be authorized by legislators to remand that right. A state of martial law, however, would mean the suspension of all civil liberties, giving the military direct rule. Martial law can result from war, social calamities, natural disasters, stolen elections, but when private citizens (lobbyists?) threaten members of Congress with the possibility that troops will be redeployed from Iraq to Main Street if certain preconditions aren't met sets a dangerous precedent. Why would a private citizen, or lobbyist, make this kind of threat?

Obviously, for the answer, we have to look to those business monoliths who most directly benefit from a $750 billion so-called rescue package. Which entities are among those listed as so-called owners of the U.S. Federal Reserve? For openers, there's the Rothschilds of London and Berlin, Lazard Brothers of Paris, Israel Moses Seaf of Italy, Kuhn, Loeb & Co. of German and New York, Warburg and Company of Hamburg, Germany, Lehman Brothers of New York, Goldman, Sachs of New York, Rockefeller Brothers of New York. Can we see now why this latest magnitude 8.0 earthquake on Wall Street shook up the financial markets from Tokyo to Berlin?

While most of the companies named are overseas ventures, a couple of hundred people, mostly relatives, hold domestic shares. To many working American families, the concept of hundreds of billions of dollars is inconceivable, but it's petty cash to owners, and stockholders, of the Federal Reserve. So, for that matter, are our annual salaries when compared with those of chief executives at firms like Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Washington Mutual, Merrill Lynch, and these are the companies that are in trouble! Imagine what payday for Blackwater, and Halliburton CEOs looks like.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't turn down the $71 million earnings of Lehman Brothers' Richard Fuld, last year alone, or those of John Mack at Morgan Stanley who earned more than $17 million in 2007, or Lloyd Blankfein--more than $43 million; Henry Paulson earned nearly $164 million, in 2006, his last year at Goldman Sachs, while E. Stanley O'Neal, of Merrill Lynch, combined wages for 2007 were more than $161 million.

If nothing else, these mind boggling numbers tell you that kidnapping billions of taxpayer dollars to rescue mega goliaths drowning in their own toxic assets is nothing more than the biggest bait and switch swindle that has ever been perpetrated on the American taxpayer.
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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.
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