Princess Cassandra's Mirror
Expanded from the 1-28-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
"I just happened to be looking for Circus Circus information on the Internet during my deployment to Afghanistan and ran across your obituary for Stoney," stated the message from a few days back.
"I don't remember much from my time with Circus Circus many years ago, but I do remember Stoney. He was my first training officer with them. He did so much for the security field and the union as a whole. He will truly be missed."
The military police officer was referring to the late labor leader Tom Stoneburner, who made history in 1994 when he led the Reno Circus Circus guards to an election win, the first time security staff at any Nevada hotel-casino had voted to empower a union.
I wrote the sergeant back, thanking him "for your remembrance of a great friend and a great man. May I publish your letter? Are you writing from Afghanistan now? Please stay in touch and I pray for your safe return. Be well. Raise hell."
The soldier responded: "You may publish my letter. I am still in Afghanistan, will be for a few more weeks, my year is almost over. Then it will be back to the states for more training and possibly another deployment by the end of 2007 or beginning of 2008. Thanks for your words of encouragement. I will raise plenty."
Tom Stoneburner's efforts led to the unionization of the Grand Sierra (formerly the Reno Hilton) security employees. He went on to form the Alliance for Workers Rights, which convinced the City of Sparks to stop criminalizing work after City Hall ordered police to hassle day laborers and employers in front of the state casual labor office on Galletti Way. (Tribune, 11-16-2003)
Stoney died young, but changed the gambling industry's treatment of its workers, lowering high heels for cocktail servers and the cost of police cards for all casino workers.
My fondest memory of Stoney came the morning he stopped a Mack truck in its tracks during construction of the Syufy Cinema on Victorian Square. That day in 1997, Stoney joined more than a hundred union pickets in protesting the tax-subsidized project's flouting of the law by refusing to pay its workers area standard wages. With dump trucks rolling in and out of the site, picketers were in precarious positions. Stoney crossed a driveway right in front of a monster truck which screeched to a halt just in time. Stoney never looked up and walked slowly on his way, picket sign in hand. You should have seen the amazed look on that truck driver's face.
Stoney's entire life was a profile in courage. In memory of Tom Stoneburner and as a frightened, fervent prayer for the safety of that young man in Afghanistan, let's hold up a mirror to the face of America to learn if we like what we see.
We currently spend half a trillion tax dollars a year on our military killing machine but delude ourselves into thinking that we are a peaceful nation. We have overthrown the governments of smaller, weaker countries for more than half a century, many of them true democracies like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954) and Chile (1973). Yet we wonder why them furriners are so angry.
We think of ourselves as an egalitarian society where any individual can succeed if he or she simply believes in him- or herself. But in the real world, even the hardest workers play against a stacked deck. Our own government helps corporations export good-paying jobs to foreign dictatorships while the price of higher education moves increasingly out of reach.
White racist Ward Connerly is now preparing initiative petitions in nine states, including Nevada, to prohibit affirmative action in college admissions, further depressing opportunities for the black, the brown and the broke.
Just in time to help another inert and obtuse Republican white guy win the White House in 2008, Connerly's work will add a new twist of racism to the usual right wing wedge issues of god, guns, gays and gringos.
The corporately powerful know that by keeping the dwellers of the dwindling middle class fighting among themselves, the peons will fail to perceive the real culprits at the top of the food chain. When families get stressed to the breaking point, surrounded by loan sharks in an ocean of credit card debt, people become very susceptible to scapegoating.
When the moonhowler noise machine cranks up, the blame spews over Ann Coultergeist's godless liberals, the NRA's mythical gun confiscators, Dick Cheney's daughter, immigrants looking for work and college students looking to learn.
Those who question the dogma of the self-righteous military machine are quickly called traitors if they want to stop war or communists if they want non-profit national health insurance.
Recent BARBWIRE Media Hits
and Ego Trips
The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006
BARBANO: Nevada's newly-hiked minimum wage is nowhere near enough
Reno Gazette-Journal, 11-11-2006
More than half a century of tax-deductible corporate PR has morphed corporations into immortal gods before whom we, their mindless subjects, roll over and play dead in the face of stolen elections, stolen democracies, stolen treasure and stolen lives.
Modern Princess Cassandras who warn against letting the incorporated Trojan horse into the city are ridiculed as nattering nabobs of negativism while guys like the good sergeant pay the price of admission.
Successful political leaders promise that you can have your cake and eat it, too extravagance now financed by economically imperial Japan and militarily communist China.
So how do we cure our national gluttony of guns and butter?
Scientists recently learned that injury to a certain portion of the brain instantly cures craving for nicotine, the most addictive drug on the free market next to greed.
All the elements are now in place for a worldwide depression, the economic equivalent a two-by-four to the back of the head.
Which means that wise man George Carlin got it right two decades ago: A little brain damage might help.
Be well. Raise hell.
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007; (not available online for several months, if at all). I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required
BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey
BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
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Copyright © 2007 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org, and a member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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