Friday, December 30, 2005

Quote of the Week (# 1)

It is not those who can inflict the most, but those that can suffer the most who will conquer —Terence MacSwiney


Impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.


84 POWs Now on Hunger Strike at Gitmo

Guantanamo hunger strike escalates

Held captive for over four years, completely denied due process, many surviving torture, most never charged with any crime (only nine of the estimated 500 Gitmo POWs have actually been charged), and all facing what appears to be a life sentence without any legal recourse, "detainees" at Camp X-ray have escalated their hunger strike. 84 are now refusing food.
"You are talking about a prison population of hundreds who have decided that with no conceivable change in their future that they just don't care to live anymore, or they are going to make a statement in dying," (Amnesty International's Jumana Musa) said.
Guantanamo spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Martin dismisses the hunger strike as a publicity stunt.
This is consistent with al-Qaeda training and reflects detainee attempts to elicit media attention and bring pressure on the United States government.
Well, we're certainly not paying much attention to human rights at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and elsewhere even with reports of torture, are we? Of course a protest like this is supposed to call attention to US policy. It appears to be US policy (and the policy of the mainstream US media) to ignore it.

In 1981, ten Irishmen died in British prisons on hunger strike against similar conditions as those faced by "detainees" in Guantanamo.

In 1920, Terence MacSwiney became the first Irishman in modern history to die in a hunger strike against British subjugation of the Irish nation.

Of course a hunger strike is meant to call attention to something.

Something wrong.

Spiegel (Germany) : US Set to Attack Iran in 2006

Via Watching America

In 2003, Iran went public with its program of uranium enrichment, a program it claims is meant only to provide an energy source for nuclear reactors, providing it with industrial power. In late 2004, Iran signed an agreement with Germany, France, and Britain to stop uranium enrichment, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), after inspecting the enrichment sites, confirmed that those sites were unsuitable for producing weapons-grade uranium. However, the IAEA could not confirm that there was not some other secret enrichment program whose aim was the production of nuclear weapons.

Just a few weeks ago, in early December 2005, Israeli military sources claimed that the government of Israel was planning a set of airstrikes against Iranian enrichment sites next March, 2006, a "point of no return" after which, it is claimed, Iran will have the expertise and sufficient weapons-grade enriched uranium to produce nuclear weapons.

Some experts argue, however, that the pace of change in Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979 has led it to a place where it concedes it must not be isolated from the world community. Rather than attempting to export Islamic principles through violence, the arguments claim, Iran is on a course of industrial development and engagement with the world.

Meanwhile, the view from Turkey confirms that the result of the US invasion and recent elections is Iraq have put that nation not in the US sphere of influence, but in Iran's.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Iraqis March to Protest Election Fraud

BBC NEWS Middle East Iraqis condemn 'election fraud'

With Sunnis increasingly politically alienated in the aftermath of the December 15th Parliamentary elections, an estimated 10,000 Iraqis marched in Baghdad today to protest what they see as election fraud, and to call for a power sharing, "unity government." Some called for civil disobedience if their demands are not met.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Gledelig Jul to the Norwegian University Of Science And Technology

Please consider leaving a comment and letting me know of your interest in IN THE DARK. We've been seeing a lot of you folks lately. WELCOME!!!

A Christmas E-mail Exchange With Howie (My Right-Wing Friend From NY)

Peter, may you and Mary Pat have a Merry Christmas, Love you both. Howie

Howie, thanks for your Christmas wishes, and right back atcha. I love ya, bro. And MP sends her love. So when are you coming out to Chi-town?

Of course, I can't let the little piece of fiction that you sent me with your wishes go by without comment (did you think you were going to send this and hear nothing from me?).

This, of course, as you know, never happened. This is some e-mailer's fictional account of what s/he wished would happen. Something very much like this has probably happened many times in the last fifty years--years that have seen a blasphemous commercialization of Christmas.

Here's a critical reading, a "textual anaysis" of the story (bear with me--I don't do this for everyone):

A woman was Christmas shopping with her two children.

Already you feel sympathy for her.

After many hours of walking down row after row of toys and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the store elevator with her two children in hand. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list
Here's the real message of this first paragraph. It is a willful ackowledgment of the pressures Americans feel at Christmas time. Please note that the author does NOT deny this pressure, and does not deny the artificiality of it. The author presents it, though, as a GIVEN; a normal piece of American life, and a normal piece of Christmas.

overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats
The author slipped this one in to create (or recreate) what today is an artificial atmosphere of community. The fact is that, beyond the "holiday party" at work, most people don't throw parties, housewarmings, etc., nor do they have time to home-cook feasts. Grandmothers/mothers-in-law still do this, of course. But young mothers? Working...

making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.
This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with the commercialization.

Finally the elevator doors opened revealing a crowd in the car. She pushed her way in and dragged her two kids and all her bags of stuff in with her. As the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and blurted out, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot."
Here, the author shows his/her (clumsy) hand. Do you honestly believe ANYONE--no matter how stressed--could make a public announcement as stupid as this? (Well, you're a repuglycan, so you naturally think people are stupid) First of all, these days NO ONE makes remarks in public about shooting, bombing, violence of any sort (except for the GOP). But the author is just trying to get the reader in a position of sympathy with this character, who, faced with all this shopping, planning, buying, and kid-tending, is stretched to the end of her rope. Who has NOT felt that way? The character has lost it, and, as the author is about to tell us, has lost sight of the "real meaning" of Christmas.

From the back of the car, a quiet calm voice responded, "Don't worry, we've already crucified Him." The rest of the trip down was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.
OF COURSE it was a "quiet, calm voice." I'm surprised it was not also a "strong and wise" voice too, but I guess the author didn't want to push his/her luck. The "christian" is quiet and calm, not like Jerry Falwell, who thinks that 9/11 and Katrina are God's revenge on gays; not like Pat Robertson, who calls for the assassination of a foreign leader. The person who SUPPOSEDLY is a "christian" is quiet and calm. I'll talk more about this in a second.

The author is a making another point in this sentence. It is a response to the woman's plaintive and desperate cry that "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot." The answer, coming from a "quiet. calm voice," is that Jesus started "this whole Christmas thing."

Nonsense. Jesus is no more responsible for the commercialization of Christmas than Martin Luther King Jr. is rersponsible for the (paradoxical) "white sale." Commerce is responsible for the commercialization of Christmas. NOT Jesus. Commerce is responsible for all the pressure we feel, the cards we have to write, the list of presents we have to buy (or worse--the person on the list for whom we can think of nothing to buy!!!).

We have one small piece of the Gospels that shows how Jesus felt about the commercialization of religion (His religion, by the way, was Judaism, NOT Christianity). At a time of great prosperity in Jerusalem, the "leaders" (that is to say, the most prominent and vocal) of Judaism preached conformity to the letter of Jewish law. At the same time, they ignored much of the Torah that had nothing to do with "the law." The prophets, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekial, had all denounced conspicuous "religiosity" (animal sacrifices, public prayer, etc.) at the expense of caring for the poor. They prophesied that this conspicuous religiosity would blind them to the coming of the Messiah. But this was not "law." So these warnings went largely unheeded by the Jews of the time, who looked on the books of the prophets as little more than literature,

Jesus agreed with the prophets, and he quoted Ezekial when he came into the temple and found a market and money-changers.

"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the Temple, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said: 'Get out of here.' (John 2:13-16)

"Jesus entered the Temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 'It is written,' he said to them, 'My house will be called a house of prayer but you are making it a den of robbers.'" (Matthew 21:12-13)

To say that Jesus would approve of how Christmas is "celebrated" today is absurd. I think it kills Him over and over again.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in
your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all would, just think how
much better this world would be.

This literally puts my stomach in knots. Can't you see how evil a work of propaganda this is, Howie? Keep Jesus in your every purchase? In the same breath as "keep Jesus in your every thought, deed, and word," the author chooses (CHOOSES!!!) to advise us to keep Jesus in our every purchase!!! Do you think Jesus really wants us to be consumers? Do you REALLY think Jesus is a Republican? Do you NOT think that, if Jesus were to return today, there would not be revolution in the world? Do you NOT think that Jesus would lower the mighty and raise the weak? (It's in the bible, look it up) Do you NOT think that Jesus would rather have us take ALL the money we spend on plastic Wal-mart CRAP every year and give it to the poor? Do you NOT think (while I'm at it), that Jesus would NOT shake the USA out of its paranoid fantasies, and take all the money we spend as a nation every year on things that go "BOOM" and redirect that to the poor?

Exactly which Bible are YOU reading, Howie?
Jesus is the reason for the season.
This is true. Don't blaspheme against Him. Don't remake Him into your image. Don't try to fantsize Him as a Republican, or as a pro-war hawk. Or as a "Christian."

Wise men still seek Him.
Yes. And Christians follow Him. And if you see someone who calls himself a "christian," but ignores the true Christ, he is probably neither a wise man nor a Christian.
May you have a blessed and holy Christmas season, not a "happy holidays season".
May you have, Howard Raymond, whatever you want. May you always want what is right in God's eyes, in Jesus's name.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Evidence of Plot Against Chavez?

First, for backgdound check out this story here.

Now, it appears that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has admitted that dissident Venezuelan officers actually met with Colombian military leaders in a government office in Bogota.

Iraqi Troops's "Battle-Readiness" Questionable Iraqis March, Say Elections Were Rigged

You have to read down through the second half of this story on Sunni protests against the results of last week's Parliamentary elections in Iraq, but when you do, you find this:

Meanwhile, gunmen Friday attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in the city of Adhaim, in religiously and ethnically mixed Diyala province, killing eight soldiers and wounding seventeen, an Iraqi army officer said on condition he not be identified for fear of reprisal.

"There were too many to count," said Akid, a 20-year-old soldier from Diwanayah being treated for gunshot wounds to both thighs. "They tried to kill everybody." Akid, who would only give his first name for fear of reprisal, said his battalion of about 600 men had already suffered over 250 desertions after a Dec. 3 ambush in Adhaim killed 19 Iraqi soldiers.

"They gave up," he said. "They said, 'The hell with this.'"

Is this the same army Bush was speaking about last week? Is this the army that is going to allow our troops to come home?

God help us.

Iraqi "Democracy" Crumbling Before It Begins

There are cries of "election fraud" across Iraq as the fundamentalist Shiite United Iraqi Alliance garners a bigger majority than anyone expected--in cities like Baghdad that are overwhelmingly Sunni. 10,000 Sunnis marched through Baghdad today chanting "No to America!" and calling for a re-vote.

More than 60 political parties have called for a new election, threatened to boycott the new Parliament, and have warned of the possibility of violence if new elections don't take place.

But a UN advisor to the Iraqi electoral commission says he doesn't think there will be a new election.

"The decision on a rerun rests with the Electoral Commission but I'd be very surprised if there was one," (UN Advisor Craig) Jenness said.

Howie, I'm sure, will say that everything's A-OK. Mission accomplished. We've turned a corner. Insurgency in its death throes. Plan for victory.

Yada, yada, yada. What a mess.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Democrats Must Become the Party of Old Ideas, Part II

In a previous post, I made the following observation:
The Democratic party has been gulled into believing--because the American people seem to believe--that the "old ways" of the New Deal, New Frontier, and Great Society are somehow no longer germane in an era of globalisation. But if an idea is good, it is good no matter what era it occurs in. And this is where our short-sightedness has hurt us.
Howie (my right-wing friend in NY) objected:

You know that (the assertion that if an idea is good, it is always good) is not always true. The idea of communicating using a telegraph was great 100 (give or take) years ago. Now, its not even a thought.

No, Howie, that is always true. Being a right-winger, you can't recognize the obvious difference between an idea and a thing. We need new technologies or methods all the time. Good ideas are always good, no matter how old they are.

You really believe that over 75 years, society can't come up with better ideas than the old social programs, old retirement programs, etc.

After 200 years, you can't come up with a better economic system than capitalism? I don't see you looking to trade THAT in, Howie. And unlike social security, capitalism is actually BROKEN!!!

Or is it the need of the democrats to keep these old ideas, because they were great ideas of great democrats.

No. The Democrats need to become the party of old ideas, and we shouldn't be concerned where the ideas came from, as long as they are good ideas.
Civil rights was (WAS) a Republican idea. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the slow movement to full enfranchisement of African Americans, achieved by Republican legislation and the passing of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, were all Republican ideas. The Democrats have used that idea effectively for the last 75 years.

Now we have a Justice Department that is no longer interested in civil rights. In the first Bush administration, John Ashcroft's Justice Department was more interested in fighting pornography, fighting physician-assisted suicide, fighting the legalization of medical marijuana, and defending the use of torture than in prosecuting US civil rights violations. And Justice under Alberto Gonzales has seen racial and gender discrimination cases decrease by 40%.

It's time to give the idea of civil rights another chance, and the Democratic Party must be the party to stand for this old idea.

Trust-busting was a Republican idea, and a good one. President Theodore Roosevelt considered himself a "steward of the people."
While in office, Roosevelt became a "trust buster" by forcing the great railroad combination in the Northwest to break apart. As President, Roosevelt saw himself a representative of all the people, including farmers, laborers, white collar workers, and businessmen. Roosevelt therefore was focused on bringing big business under stronger regulation so that he could effectively serve all the people he represented. He sought to regulate, rather than dissolve, most trusts. Efforts continued over the next several years, to reduce the control of "big business" over the U.S. economy and workers.

What would TR make of today's Republican Party? Government responsibility for fundamental fairness in business, for protecting the people from predatory business practices, and for protecting the overall integrity of the American economy is a good idea. The Democratic Party must be the one to stand for this old idea.

Mistrust of power concentrated in a military-industrial complex was a Republican idea. That's an incredibly important idea that your party of "new ideas" has destroyed. The incestuous relationship between government, the military, and the defense industries (illustrated by the rise to political prominence of a group few Americans have still ever heard of--the Project for a New American Century) is responsible for our exploding federal deficits, as well as for our involvement in a war based entirely on lies.

The best ideas are rarely new, Howie. Like government of the people, by the people, for the people. That's an old idea I pray we come back to.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Election the US Media Are NOT Talking About, Continued

While the US media have been desperately banging the "freedom on the march" drum in response to Iraq's US-sponsored Potemkin election, Evo Morales has won a resounding victory in Bolivia's Presidential election.

With about 92% of the vote counted, Morales holds a lead of more than 54%. 85% of Bolivia's registered voters turned out to cast their ballots, which indicates that at this moment Bolivians take Democracy more seriously than either Iraqis (70% turnout for last week's parliamentary elections) or Americans (60% turnout for last year's Presidential election).

Bolivia now has a Socialist President. Bolivia has struck a blow against un-regulated, laissez faire, free-market capitalism and the inequalities it creates and supports. Democracy works, and it is working in Bolivia. But you don't hear good news like that in the defeatist, doom-and-gloom mainstream media.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

GOP to Poor Americans : Go to Hell!!!

While the number (and percent) of Americans living below the poverty rate continues to rise, along with the number of Americans living without health care insurance, the GOP-controlled House has passed a budget bill that will demand that the poorest Americans pay even more for their health care.

No medicine? Let 'em eat cake.

Federal Judge Rules Intelligent Design is NOT Science

Can't be taught in classrooms.

Thank God.

Bush : Constitution "Just a Goddamned Piece of Paper"

I have written several times in the past that I believe George W. Bush holds the Constitution--and the values enshrined in it--in utter contempt. This story from Capitol Hill Blue, if true, proves the point.

Howie, theoretically speaking : if this were true, would you be pissed off? Or is there NOTHING this guy can do that you would disagree with?

Monday, December 19, 2005

SCROOGES!!! (continued)

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This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.'

'Have they no refuge or resource?' cried Scrooge.

'Are there no prisons?' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. 'Are there no workhouses?'"

- A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits


The least generous of all working-age Americans in 2003, the latest year for which Internal Revenue Service data is available, were among the young and prosperous - the 285 taxpayers age 35 and under who made more than $10 million - and the 18,600 taxpayers making $500,000 to $1 million. The top group had on average $101 million of investment assets while the other group had on average $2.4 million of investment assets.

On average these two groups made charitable gifts equal to 0.4 percent of their assets, while people the same age who made $50,000 to $100,000 gave gifts equal to more than 2.5 percent of their investment assets, six times that of their far wealthier peers.

Miserable bastards.


the percentage of the population living in poverty in America is 50% higher than in Britain, and more than twice as high as in Germany, Holland, Italy or France, according to the widely respected Luxembourg Income Study. That gap translates, of course, into a host of drearily familiar social gaps, from a shockingly higher infant mortality rate to shorter life expectancy.

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

Quote of the Week

And if your brother becomes poor, and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall maintain him; as a stranger and a sojourner he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or increase, but fear your God; that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. --Leviticus 25:35-38

Bush and Rove: Collaborators in the Theater of the Moral Lie

A good read: cogent, logical, and sensible.

Howie will hate it.

Morales Wins "Stunning, Historic" Victory in Bolivia

Another new addition to the "New Axis of Evil"?TM

Evo Morales appears to have won 51% of the vote in yesterdays Bolivian Presidential poll, a number that makes his victory decisive, obviates the necessity to share power, and makes Morales the first President since Bolivia's democratic era began in 1983 to win an outright majority of the votes.

Bolivia is now set to step into the "New Axis of Evil" that has been developing in Latin America over the last two decades. Paying homage to Cuba's Fidel Castro, and led--perhaps--by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the "axis" includes Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, all nations that have elected--democratically--governments that lean toward socialism or socially responsible policies. They ain't "un-regulated, laissez faire, free-market capitalism." Just the kind of thing that's going to get you in the soup with the good folks at the Project for a New American Century.

We'll be watching intently and with great interest to see what Morales's first official move will be. He is under a great deal of pressure to nationalize the oil industry, and to bring relief to the (nearly) 60% of Bolivians who are unemployed.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Signs of the Times (And It's About Time)

After nearly four years of craven toadyism, Congress is getting some backbone.

Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced yesterday his committee will holding hearings on President Bush's domestic spying as soon as possible. Specter said Bush's approval of National Security Agency wiretaps on US citizens is "wrong, and it can't be condoned at all." Bush has responded to the revelations by claiming that whatever he does to protect the American people is "within the law."

Meanwhile, the majority of Senate Democrats and a handful of Senate Republicans effectively blocked passage of a new Patriot Act yesterday. This is a slap in the face of Bush, his administration, the Project for a New American Century, and everyone else who wants America to surrender its fundamental rights in the name of "fighting terror."

All this comes on the heels of a White House defeat at the hands of John McCain (five years too late). Under pressure from McCain (to say nothing of the rest of the Senate and the American people), Bush dropped his opposition to a ban on torture appended to a military spending bill. The Senate had passed the amendment in October, 90-9 (who was that missing Senator, and where exactly was s/he?). The House passed its version on Wednesday, 308-122 (five missing Representatives).

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Election the US Media Are NOT Talking About

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Bolivia, a nation of only nine million people, is giving Washington (and the fine folks at PNAC) conniptions. They are getting ready to elect--democratically--their first President of indigenous Indian background. Sounds pretty democratic to me. Pretty egalitarian. The people are voting against a history of colonialism and North American influence. Kind of like Iraq. Who could find fault with this?

Well, the Bush administration for one. You'll notice they are not trumpeting the upcoming elections--which heavily favor former coca farmer and labor leader Evo Morales--as a "milestone" (although it is as much, if not more, of a milestone than yesterday's election in Iraq) in the history of democracy. in fact, they are doing everything they can to make it appear to be a symptom of dangerous chaos. The US State Department has sent our advisories that Sunday's election has created a "climate of potential violence."

Current Bolivian President Eduardo Rodriguez said yesterday that he "deplored" the insinuations that this particular election would somehow be marred by violence.

This is, of course, a CYA operation for the US State Department, a first step in delegitimizing the election should Morales win. Since Morales has a strong ally in Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, since he opposes free trade agreements with the US, since he supported a bill in the Bolivian Senate that increased taxes on foreign-owned oil companies ten times and is likely to follow Chavez's lead in nationalizing the oil industry, we may need to have some "intelligence" that rationalizes an invasion someday.

NSA Taps Phones Without Warrants Since 2002

Unbelievable. Only in Bush's "America."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mayor Gutierrez?

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) has decided to run for only one more term in Congress as he explores a bid for mayor of Chicago. And he is a prime House sponsor of a major immigration bill the Senate is poised to consider--introduced in that chamber by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Gutierrez is the first Hispanic lawmaker Illinois sent to Washington, initially elected in 1992 to represent the 4th Congressional District.

So we'll see what happens.

Mayor Gutierrez rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Immigrants a many

There are 35.2 million foreign-born people living in the United States -- about 12.1 percent of the population, according to a report Monday by the Center for Immigration Studies.

And the Associated Press reports that if the trend continues, immigrants will soon make up an even larger portion of the population than they did during the last immigration boom, at the beginning of the 20th century, the report said.

Check out these photos

According to the Associated Press, immigration reform groups are frustrated by the federal government's response to illegal immigration and worried that undocumented workers are depressing wages. So what are they doing? Going to workplaces throughout the United States --in Southern California, Texas, Chicago, and Virginia -- to take photos of construction bosses and anyone else picking up day laborers. Then what do the groups do? Post the photos on Web sites (like and And, at times, the groups even include home addresses and license plate numbers. They also turn their footage into immigration officials. But how do these groups know who's illegal or not? Just because they speak Spanish doesn't mean they're illegal! The system is broken and needs some fixin'.

Rumsfeld's Pentagon Spies on Anti-War Americans

A secret, 400-page database obtained by NBC News indicates that Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department has been collecting and and organizing information about US citizens engaged in peaceful protest against the Bush administration and its war in Iraq.

The objects of surveillance appear overwhelmingly to be private US citizens and organizations exercizing their first amendment rights in peaceful protest. Evidence demonstrates that the DoD has indeed been following and collecting information on individual US citizens.
One DOD briefing document stamped “secret” concludes: “[W]e have noted increased communication and encouragement between protest groups using the [I]nternet,” but no “significant connection” between incidents, such as “reoccurring instigators at protests” or “vehicle descriptions.”
NBC military analyst Bill Arkin finds this disturbing.
“It means that they’re actually collecting information about who’s at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests,” says Arkin. “On the domestic level, this is unprecedented,” he says. “I think it's the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military.”
NBC posts an edited excerpt of the 400-page document that runs from November 2004 through May 2005. I would certainly be curious to know if my name or image is in a Defense Department file somewhere by virtue of my participation in non-violent, peaceful protest against US Government policies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bush : 30,000 Iraqis Are Dead

Whoa. What is this? A new tactic? Acknowledging reality? Will it work?

Let's not forget that a 2004 study published by an international group of scientists in Britain's Lancet claimed that the civilian death toll in Iraq is probably closer to 100,000.

US Supremes Eye Gerrymandered Texas

While I see this as a good sign--generally--I am not entirely encouraged by the Supreme Court's agreement to review the shady congressional gerrymandering of Texas engineered by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay two years ago.. The redistricting assured the Texas GOP a 2-1 majority of Representatives in the House.

Four seperate groups, including Democratic, African-American, and Hispanic groups, have brought appeals to the Supreme Court. Among the arguments against the redistricting (aside from the fact that it has taken once black and Hispanic areas and made them artificially white and republican) is that the predominantly Republican Texas state legislature was created illegally by the infusion of corporate dollars by Tom DeLay in violation of Federal campaign laws.

In America, this one would be a slam dunk. But this isn't America anymore. And the last time this Supreme Court decided the constitutionality of a political dispute was Gore v. Bush in 2000.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Hungary to USA : Hypocrites!!!

From the Index (Hungary), an editorial on US hypocrisy and human rights. The US State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices notes that Hungary is not yet a model of respect for civil rights. Police sometimes use excessive force, especially with the minority Roma population. Sounds like Los Angeles. So writer M. Arpad Tota is understandably upset by what he sees as a double standard for human rights--one imposed on the world, and another for the United States.
I'm not saying that police brutality isn't an ugly thing, and a state-assigned lawyer is certainly worse than a well paid one. There's room for error in the building of a democracy. But let's also point out that Hungary does not keep concentration camps on its territory or on that of any other state. It does not build secret torture chambers in which people are kicked around without any charges against them.
Tota doesn't believe in mincing words.

Concentration camps (and lets drop this phony expression "secret prison"; they're secret because they're really concentration camps) are the ultimate in state crookedness. Not only do they beat and kick, but the sadistic personnel there do whatever they want, and it's a not a matter of substandard legal defense, but no legal defense. People can be thrown in there without charge or trial, and there are no footprints leading out. These are neither prisoners of war nor convicts, because if they were, they'd have rights. They are not people but livestock. They can't be innocent, because then they wouldn't be there, so if they're there they're beaten until they admit to being spies or saboteurs.

Like the late Pontiff John Paul II (in his 1987 encyclical Solicitudo Rei Socialis), Tota makes a direct comparison between the United States and the Soviet Union, and sees a moral equivalence.
Placing concentration camps in Europe is a level of brashness that not even the Soviet Union achieved. This matter of outsourcing gulags could be a watershed in European-American relations: do we forgive this, because we've seen concentration camps before, or do we make a worldwide scandal for exactly that reason?
The great (and bombastic) NY journalist Sidney Zion once said of the United Kingdom, "If it weren't for the double standard, Britain would have no standards at all." More and more, I'm afraid, this is becoming true of the United States.
America shouldn't write reports about what horrible things happen in some countries, especially when they're doing them themselves. Do we shit on the doormat, and then get up in arms because the doormat is dirty?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Colombia : Our "Friendship" With America is a Sham

Watching America

The editors of Colombian newspaper El Tiempo ponder the level of reciprocity in its "friendship" with the United States and conclude that Colombia is getting the short end of the deal.
The only things we have gotten are extreme positions, indifference to our poverty, and unilateral and arrogant demands that sooner or later, we are going to have to accept. This is because in order to negotiate equitably with the United States, we are to be required to adopt economic institutions and practices that we are very far from having...Is our "friend" a government whose only interest is for us to help them resolve their problems of drug consumption, with no concern for our future?
I have written here before of the dysfunctional relationship between the United States and many of its "allies," both in the developed and developing worlds. The decades-old "war on drugs" has proven to be a tremendous waste of money and manpower--if it was ever sincerely undertaken in the first place. It seems as though where ever the US takes on some new ally in the less developed world, drugs follow. We overthrow the Taliban, Afghanistan becomes the world's leader in poppy production (opium and herion). We take out Saddam, Iraq becomes a stopping-point, a way station in international drug trafficking. Our only real ally in Latin America (for the moment at least) is Colombia, and Colombia remains the biggest producer of coca (for manufacturing cocaine) in the world.

Just under a year ago, Gary Webb died. Webb was an investigative reporter for the San Jose (CA) Mercury News who reported on CIA complicity and cover-up in Latin American drug trafficking, especially as it involved the Reagan administration-supported "contra war" in Nicaragua. Webb was ridiculed for his stories. He was politically hounded out of journalism and died in disgrace. But most of what he wrote about was proven true.

Could it be that the US has a strategic interest in the free-flow of drugs around the developed world?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Morales's Lead in Bolivian Presidential Campaign Strong

The prospect of "freedom on the march" and democracy at work in Bolivia gives the Bush administration and their PNAC bedfellows nightmares.

Evo Morales is an indigenous socialist former labor leader and Bolivian congressman who wants to nationalize the oil companies and legalize the growing of coca (although he wants to legalize it only for the manufacture of legal products, like teas and soft drinks), and who would cultivate strong ties with Fidel Castro's Cuba.

Anyone giving odds on an invasion timetable?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Anti-War Democratic Challenger to Face Hillary in '06 Senate Primary

An anti-war writer and labor leader from NY is set to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for the Senate in 2006. Reports say that Jonathan Tasini, former president of the National Writers Union, and an outspoken activist for US labor, will make an announcement Tuesday morning at a press conference.

As a former (until very recently) NYer, I know how much disappointment NYers share over Sen. Clinton's unquestioning support for the US invasion--and occupation--of Iraq. Tasini puts that frustration into words.
Senator Clinton is out of step with the values of a majority of New Yorkers. While a majority of New Yorkers support an end to the war, Senator Clinton has repeatedly voiced her support for a war that continues to accumulate unacceptable costs, in terms of American and Iraqi lives and our own government spending.
On Tasini's website, he gets a "non-endorsement endorsement" from Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan.

I am so pleased that Jonathan Tasini has stepped forward to challenge Senator Clinton and to take her on as an anti-war candidate.

I encourage the people of New York to take a hard look at Mrs. Clinton's dismal record on the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq. Then take a hard look at what Jonathan is saying....I fully endorse the idea of peace with justice and support the message that Jonathan is espousing, but I cannot endorse candidates because of my organization’s tax-exempt status.

She is also unsure of her ultimate support for Tasini, since a second anti-war Democratic candidate for Hillary's Senate seat has recently arisen. Steve Greenfield, a firefighter from New Paltz, will make his announcement Monday at Columbia University.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

1 more year to go

On Tuesday, Mexican President Fox said this after President Bush promised tighter security along the U.S./Mexico border: ``We are still optimistic that next year we can finalize what we have been working on for a good number of years, reaching an agreement and the U.S. Congress approving the initiatives that are there."

Well, Bush better hurry up and make an appointment with Fox 'cause he only has one more year in office.

Mexico's Fox Says U.S. Needs Immigration Reform
Published in the New York Times - November 29, 2005

US Military Assault on Truth

US military "information operations" troops are writing news stories and paying Iraqi news outlets to get them published, the Los Angeles Times reported today. While the stories are based, by what few accounts we have, on "facts," the net result is to put a happier face on conditions in Iraq under the US occupation than is necessarily true.

Like most of the other "information operations" launched by the Bush administration, this one is covert, the better to hide the assault on truth.
The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. The Pentagon has a contract with a small Washington-based firm called Lincoln Group, which helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group's Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets.
As is clear from the evidence of the US buildup to its invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has no particular use for, or faith in the abstract concept of "truth" in winning the hearts and minds of a populace.
Underscoring the importance U.S. officials place on development of a Western-style media, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday cited the proliferation of news organizations in Iraq as one of the country's great successes since the ouster of President Saddam Hussein. The hundreds of newspapers, television stations and other "free media" offer a "relief valve" for the Iraqi public to debate the issues of their burgeoning democracy, Rumsfeld said.
Yeah. Right.

But (thanks be to God) this being America, there is dissent, both ethical and practical, about this newest assult on the truth from within the ranks of the US military.
The military's information operations campaign has sparked a backlash among some senior military officers in Iraq and at the Pentagon who argue that attempts to subvert the news media could destroy the U.S. military's credibility in other nations and with the American public.
While this operation is nominally aimed at the Iraqi people, and technically legal, we can be sure that the Bush administration--and their friends at the Project for a New American Century, know that there is no such thing as "local media" in a global communication environment.
U.S. law forbids the military from carrying out psychological operations or planting propaganda through American media outlets. Yet several officials said that given the globalization of media driven by the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle, the Pentagon's efforts were carried out with the knowledge that coverage in the foreign press inevitably "bleeds" into the Western media and influences coverage in U.S. news outlets.
Like examples of torture seen by the world at Abu Ghraib, this is not an isolated incident. This is an on-going campaign--NO, an ASSAULT--against the truth.
Lincoln Group, formerly known as Iraqex, is one of several companies hired by the U.S. military to carry out "strategic communications" in countries where large numbers of U.S. troops are based.
America: what will it take for you to demand IMPEACHMENT???

Bush: We're going to protect the border

President Bush spoke about border security and immigration reform this week. Here's a transcript of that speech (from the Washington Post):

President Bush Delivers Remarks on Border Security and Immigration Reform
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base,--Tucson, Arizona
Monday, November 28, 2005

President Bush finally speaks

President Bush has been in the news this week with a plan--to let illegal immigrants obtain a three-year work visa that could be extended for another three years. But some Illinois groups don't like that idea.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights says the idea doesn't make sense. That after a worker is here for six years it's not ideal for him/her to just "pick up and go."

And the fact that Bush said his plan "would not create an automatic path to citizenship" is bothering the president of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce, Salvador Pedroza: "I think legalization is a must. I hope President Bush will rethink that...For the people in Mexico and other countries, it's good news. For the people already here, it's not good news."

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are at least 10.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States; 5.9 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico; and 400,000 unauthorized immigrants in Illinois.

I think Bush needs to go back to the drawing board.

Ex-Powell Aide : Cheney Guilty of War Crimes?

Well, Lawrence Wilkerson is at it again.

Vice President (for Torture) Dick Cheney may technically be a war criminal, according to the former Colin Powell chief-of-staff and retired army colonel. Wilkerson also said that lately he has seen increasing evidence that
the White House had manipulated pre-war intelligence on Iraq to make its case for the invasion. He said: "You begin to wonder was this intelligence spun? Was it politicised? Was it cherry-picked? Did, in fact, the American people get fooled? I am beginning to have my concerns."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ex-Colin Powell Aide : White House, Pentagon Thought Bush "All-Powerful"; Cheney a "Nefarious Bastard"

Redding: AP Hosted News: AP News - AP Hosted News Home

Former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell Lawrence Wilkerson is back.

Wilkerson is the guy who recently caused a stir by charging that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld led a "cabal" within the White House that effectively functioned as a dictatorship.

Now, he's saying that the cabal in the White House and Pentagon claimed that the President of the United States can do whatever the hell he wants.
Cheney's office, Rumsfeld aides and others argued "that the president of the United States is all-powerful, that as commander in chief the president of the United States can do anything he damn well pleases," Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson seems to support the point of view that the United States was not led into war on a lie, but rather by executive credulity. I have to say, though, that this support seems half-hearted and prompted not by deep conviction, but by the belief that no US political leader could be so evil.
Wilkerson said that Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."

What W could Learn From JFK

Back in NY, when I was teaching at Molloy College, I had a poster hanging over my desk from the 1960 presidential campaign of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It said "Leadership for the 60s." I remember thinking back then, "that's just the kind of leadership we need in the 21st century," and that thought seems more true every day.
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From Ireland's Examiner comes an essay on JFK and personal responsibility that our current president should read--or have Harriet Miers read to him. It looks at Kennedy's handling of the "Bay of Pigs" fiasco and points out, implicitly, how things have changed in America in the 42 years since JFK's death.
Kennedy was barely three months in office at the time, so he could have blamed the CIA or his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, whose administration was primarily responsible for the planning of the Bay of Pigs operation, but he did not try to put the blame on anyone else. Kennedy accepted full responsibility for the disaster.
The CIA had handed the President bad intelligence about the state of public opinion in Cuba, saying the people would enthusiastically support an invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro. He told his Vice President, Lyndon Baines Johnson,
“Lyndon, you’ve got to remember we’re all in this and that, when I accepted responsibility for this operation, I took the entire responsibility on myself, and I think we should have no sort of passing of the buck or backbiting, however justified.”
If there is no moral lesson in this for Mr. Bush, perhaps he could find a political one:
His acceptance of responsibility for the Bay of Pigs seemed to increase his charm. The next Gallup Poll showed that his administration had a then unprecedented 82% support. Kennedy tossed his advance copy of the poll aside. “It’s just like Eisenhower,” he said. “The worse I do, the more popular I get.” He had been badly advised and quietly moved to get rid of those who had been so wrong about the Bay of Pigs, but he never blamed anybody publicly.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Socialist Oil to Aid US Poor This Winter

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made a deal with Massachusetts and New York to deliver 45 million liters of oil this winter at 40% below market prices. The distribution of the fuel will be handled by companies like Joe Kennedy's Citizens Energy and will be earmarked only for the poorest in those two states.

Chavez seems to enjoy tweaking and taunting George W. Bush, who he has called a "madman, and against whom he led an enormous rally last month in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Thanksgiving E-mail to a Right-Wing Friend in NY

May you and your family have an enjoyable Thanksgiving, and remember to keep the troops in your prayers.



I am sincerely thankful that we have a strong military, and that there are thousands and thousands of Americans, young and not-so-young, who are willing to give their lives for what they believe in. I am sincerely thankful that we are a nation founded on Enlightenment values of liberty, equality, sovereignty vested in the PEOPLE, and religious freedom. I am sincerely thankful that we have a tradition--a very Christian tradition, by the way--of sacrifice for the sake of the "tired, poor, and huddled masses" who yearn to be free. I am thankful for so many things, not just at this time of year, but always, and these things are constantly in my prayers of thanks to God.

I hold in utter contempt, however, "leaders" who abuse the sacred trust given them by the PEOPLE to use military force only when it is necessary to protect American values. I hold in utter contempt "leaders" who distort and in some cases ignore those very values in the name of "security." I hold in utter contempt leaders who put the needs--in reality, in most cases, the wants--of corporations and the wealthy over the overwhelming needs of the PEOPLE. I hold in utter contempt leaders who lie, manipulate, and break laws--yes, even international laws--to further the goals of global capitalism.

I am thankful, though, that I see evidence that my faith in America and my hope for its future is not "mere" naive idealism. I am thankful that my belief that the PEOPLE, fully informed about what is going on in the world, will choose the right course, that they may be persuaded, in contempt of their sacred trust, by lies, but that once in possession of truth, they will not maintain a rigid orthodoxy. I am thankful not so much for being an American (although I am indeed thankful for that), but for being a member of the human race, blessed by God, for no good reason, with human intelligence and critical reasoning abilities, and thankful that more and more human beings are ackowledging and using these gifts.

I am thankful, too, to God for the awesome gift of your friendship, and you and Maria and your family will be in my prayers of thanksgiving this year, as always.

But my prayers of thanksgiving this year, as always, will be tempered not by false patriotism, but by a clear view of reality. There is no free lunch--EVER. If we have inordinate gifts in America--and we do--it cannot be without the sacrificies of others, voluntary or involuntary. If Americans hold and control a disproportionate share of the world's wealth--and we do--this is an injustice that we should not be thankful for, and for which, if we leave the situation untouched, we will have to answer for to that same God we will thank tomorrow. It is sacrilegious, I think, to thank God for gifts won unjustly. Read John Paul II's 1987 encyclical Solicitudo Rei Socialis. Please read it. I also urge you to buy and read Jacques Ellul's The Presence of the Kingdom. I have used this text in classes many times. The students, after four weeks of reading, discussing, and arguing over this book, are always exhausted and down-hearted. They enter a state of utter denial. They are threatened, and feel the effects of disrupted and subverted cultural assumptions. This is the first step to real learning.

And I will say once again this Thanksgiving a prayer I say every day--many times every day--which comes from the Gospel of Luke (chapter 18, verses 9-14). Here is the passage. See if you can find the prayer.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

I pray that you will be as good as your word (for you believe that America is a "Christian" nation) and take Jesus's words to heart. Read it. Think about it. Really think about it. We have a long way to go before we can ever legitimately call ourselves a "Christian nation."

I love you, Howie. Happy Thanksgiving.


Al-Jazeera : What Does the "Bombing Memo" Mean?

Aljazeera.Net - Aljazeera probes Bush 'bombing' memo

Yesterday's Mirror (UK) story of a Downing Street memo that shows US President George W. Bush wanted to bomb the Al-Jazeera headquarters in Doha, Qatar, in April of 2004 raises some issues that need to be addressed. The first issue, Al-Jazeera said in an editorial today, is that if found to be true, the memo
would cast serious doubts in regard to the US administration's version of previous incidents involving Aljazeera's journalists and offices.
They called for both the British and US governments to investigate the authenticity of the memo, noting that
in the event that the memo is found to be accurate it would be incumbent on them to explain their positions on statements regarding the deliberate targeting of journalists and news organisations.

In April 2003, an Aljazeera journalist died when its Baghdad office was struck during a US bombing campaign.

In November 2001, Aljazeera's office in Kabul, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a US missile, although no staff were in the office at the time.

US officials said they believed the target was a "terrorist" site and did not know it was Aljazeera's office.
Hmmm. That's a lot of "accidental" hits on Al-Jazeera's offices, especially in light of the contention that Bush specifically wanted to target Al-Jazeera as "the enemy."

Remember what Eason Jordan said? The right-wing media claimed Jordan's scalp, and perhaps they're right that they were responsible for "taking him out."

But this begs the question about Jordan's statements, whether they were taken out of context, or misinterpreted, or whatever. Was he, in fact, accusing American troops of assassinating journalists? Or passing on stories from other journalists who believe that they as a group are threatened by American forces?

On the face of it, nothing Jordan said sounded particularly shocking to me--what was shocking was that he momentarily lost control and said it. A lot of what is going on in our country is about control, and control of information is no small part of it. If it were American policy to control information coming out of Iraq by threat of violence, would anyone in this administration admit it? Of course not. The only answer is for someone--and, traditionally, this would have been the role of journalists--to investigate these charges. The US has not been investigating them.

Mirror (UK) : UK Memo Shows Bush Wanted to Bomb Qatar

In April of 2004, Bush proposed to Tony Blair that an air attack be made on the sovereign state of Qatar, a recently leaked (but confirmed) Downing Street memo shows. For those of you who have not been paying close attention to the world (Howie), Qatar is an ALLY!!!

So, why did Bush want to bomb Qatar? Because Qatar's capitol, Doha, is home of the world headquarters of Al-Jazeera. Tony Blair (stupid, but not crazy) managed to talk him out of it, persuading the President it would do more harm than good.
Dozens of al-Jazeera staff at the HQ are not, as many believe, Islamic fanatics. Instead, most are respected and highly trained technicians and journalists. To have wiped them out would have been equivalent to bombing the BBC in London and the most spectacular foreign policy disaster since the Iraq War itself.

Why did Bush want to bomb Al-Jazeera? Because he saw it as fueling the insurgency.

Not the "occupation" of an Arab land by westerners.

Not the civilian deaths of at least 25,000 and perhaps as many as 100,000.

Not the civilian deaths at Fallujah.

Not the use of white phosphorus as a weapon.

Not Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo, and a gulag of secret prison camps across eastern Europe.

Not the kidnapping of suspects to be sent to "friendly" regimes in the Arab world (like Qatar?) who would do our torture later.

None of these things fueled the insurgency.

It was Al-Jazeera.

On a related note, Al-Jazeera reports that British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith issued a gag order last night barring the Mirror from publishing any further details of the secret memo. And the BBC reports that the White House denies the whole story, calling it "outlandish."

Will you be seeing this tonight on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams?


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Darfur Update

The Chinese press is reporting that the Red Cross is starting to pull out of the western region of the Sudan due to a "deterioration of security".

Meanwhile, the U.N.'s Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his monthly report Monday that violence, rape and killing increased in Darfur in September and October this year.

Annan is reporting that:

"The looming threat of complete lawlessness and anarchy draws nearer, particularly in western Darfur as warlords, bandits and militia groups grow more aggressive."
It has been over a year since Colin Powell first used the word genocide to describe Darfur and still not much has changed in the area. In fact, journalists and aid workers are being forced out.

20,000 Protest the School of the Americas

An estimated 20,000 people--the largest crowd in the 16 year history of the protest--gathered outside of the gates of Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, to demand the closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), until 2000 known as the School of the Americas, and still known as the "School of Assassins."
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41 people were arrested in acts of civil disobedience as they trespassed US Government property to call attention to the continued existence of a "school" that has trained thousands of Central and South American soldiers and paramilitary troops behind some of the most unconscionable murders in recent history.
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The peaceful protest was carried out by Americans of all ages, from all walks of life, and from a variety of faith traditions.Image hosted by Considering the nature of the crimes committed by SOA graduates (the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador in 1980, the murders of four American religious women there in 1980, the murders of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter in 1989), it is not surprising that there was an overwhelming presence of Christian and Catholic groups at the SOA protest--the protest was, in fact, begun in 1995 by Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest and missionary who was friends with two of religious women killed in El Salvador.
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Despite the peaceful nature of the protest (it would not be unfair to describe the atmosphere of Sunday's procession as "reverential"), the city of Columbus, Georgia, was somewhat less than welcoming. City police and Georgia state troopers were out en masse, and it was possible to see, on a stretch of road a hundred yards long, four or more cars or vans (some carrying college students to the protest) pulled over and the occupants being questioned. It appeared to more than one observer as harrassment.

Many participants were treated by locals with scorn and told to "go home." Many were described as "tree huggers," or "commies," or "nuts." American (and Confederate) flags were prominently displayed throughout the city of Columbus. A police tower near the speaker's stand videotaped the rally. And everywhere hovered the ominous presence of the surveillance helicopter.
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Speaker after speaker, many survivors of the "dirty wars" of the 1980s, gave witness to the fact that the SOA--by whatever name--is still active in training assassins. Particularly interesting were the stories of the "new" death squads in Colombia--paramilitary groups not officially tied to the Colombian military, but commanded nonetheless by SOA graduates--who continue to kidnap, murder, mutilate, and disembody dissidents, human rights workers, and labor organizers. Recent reports directly link the US military to these paramilitary death squads.
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My wife Mary Pat and I brought a van load of students from Dominican University in River Forest, Ilinois, to this year's protest. It was an eye-opening, exhausting, and very moving experience.
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I'll have more to tell you about it in the days ahead.

For a really nice Flash slideshow of Sunday's protest and procession, click here. For a Flash slideshow of the arrest of "prisoners of conscience" at Sunday's procession, click here. For a slideshow of Saturday's rally, click here. All slideshows from the School of the Americas Watch website.

Update: Here's a moving video of one prisoner of conscience at Sunday's protest by Rebecca MacNiece and Jeff Rich from

Why Is This Man President?

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Here we go again

About 100 illegal immigrants--mostly from Mexico--were arrested at a Wal-Wart construction site in Allentown, Pa. this week.

According to AP reports, more than 50 federal immigration agents, joined by the U.S. Labor Department, Social Security Administration and state police, raided the construction site near Pottsville, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The site was being investigated because the locals were complaining about the immigrants looking for work there. And the workers were getting paid only $8 an hour.

"You've got a situation here where illegal immigrants are coming into Schuylkill County and taking (local union workers') jobs for eight bucks an hour. They are working for poverty wages, and creating unemployment because our skilled tradesmen are out of work," Schuylkill County Sheriff Frank McAndrew said.

I highly doubt that Wal-Wart officials didn't know that this illegal hiring was going on. And isn't the founder of Wal-Wart one of the richest people on the planet? Gee--and I wonder why.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Gone to Protest the SOA

I'll be gone for a few days (Friday until Monday) with my beautiful wife, Mary Pat, and some students, staff, and faculty of Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, to protest the continued operation of the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Unless my fellow bloggers pick up my slack, there'll be a bit of silence here during my absence. I plan to file a full report on the protests when I get back (probably on Tuesday).

God bless you all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Where's Mexico's president?!?!

This is exactly what I've been saying for months. We need to look at why Mexicans are leaving their country to work here in the United States. Gery Chico, senior partner at the law firm of Chico and Nunes and former president of the Chicago Board of Education, wrote an editorial in today's Sun-Times about this.

Chico: "The answer is simple: not for the freedom or material benefits of America, but for the jobs. They want to work; no, they need to work, to support their families here and in Mexico. Overwhelmingly, they love their home country, but they need to eat. So, if we're concerned about having so many immigrants coming from Mexico, perhaps we should not focus on building higher walls and more restrictive laws, but on encouraging Mexico to create jobs for its people."

That's exactly what I've been writing in this blog and my blog. Mexican President Vicente Fox needs to wake up. Fox--Create more jobs for your people!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Forrester : Bush Screwed Me!!!

From ultra-right-wing
Republican Douglas Forrester, who lost by a wide margin to Sen. Jon Corzine in the race for governor in New Jersey, says President Bush’s unpopularity is largely to blame for his defeat.
The ship is sinking. There go the rats.

Iraq : Things Are Getting Worse, Not Better

From the Iraqi newspaper Azzaman, via Watching America, a report suggests rampant corruption is keeping monies allocated for reconstruction from reaching their targets.

Monday, November 14, 2005


President Bush calls criticism of his administration's selective use of intelligence in the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq "deeply irresponsible," but claims that the decision to go to war was a responsible one, even though his administration did not share intelligence with Congress that cast doubt on damning allegations (WMDs, links to al Qa'ida, complicity in the 9/11 attacks).

In March of this year, George W. Bush said that "For the sake of our long-term security, all free nations must stand with the forces of democracy and justice that have begun to transform the Middle East," yet he criticizes Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for being anti-democratic--even though Chavez was elected by a much bigger majority than Bush won in either of his elections.

In September of 2003, George W. Bush said that "All governments that support terror are complicit in a war against civilization," yet his administration has refused to extradite a man, Luis Posada Carriles, who recently declassified CIA documents show was behind the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner.

Speaking in Brazil last week, George W. Bush said, "We do not torture," on the same day that Vice President Dick Cheney testified in front of the Senate about the need for a CIA exemption to a bill banning the use of torture.


America : We're Not Satisfied

A new Newsweek Poll (Nov. 10-11, 2005) shows that 68% of Americans polled are dissatisfied with "the way things are going in the United States at this time." 26% are satisfied. 65% disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing handling the war in Iraq, while only 30% approve. More Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing fighting terrorism than approve (49%-45%). And if the 2006 general elections were held today, the poll shows, 53% of Americans would vote for the Democratic candidate while 36% would vote for the Republican.

Welcome back to reality, America. We've missed you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Democrats Must Become the Party of Old Ideas

Neil Postman wrote in Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century that great innovators can at the same time be perilously short-sighted.

The Democratic party has been gulled into believing--because the American people seem to believe--that the "old ways" of the New Deal, New Frontier, and Great Society are somehow no longer germane in an era of globalisation. But if an idea is good, it is good no matter what era it occurs in. And this is where our short-sightedness has hurt us.

We need to remind ourselves--and Americans generally--that government has a role to play in protecting us. It has a role in preserving our rights. It has a role in preserving democracy. And we do all these things through law and regulation, through our common, individual consent to work toward the betterment of all.

Regulations help people--workers, citizens, consumers, readers and viewers of news. By their very nature, they are anti-elitist, helping people at the expense of the true elites of society, wealthy and powerful corporations. We must work to roll back much of the deregulation of business that has taken place in the last generation.

Laws that provide for the social welfare of the people are inherently good, and "conservative" in the truest sense of the word. In times of economic chaos, a solid, sturdy, and wide "social safety net" allows people to continue their lives without serious disruption. They conserve the social status quo which, in the long run, benefits everyone--including businesses.

Private enterprise is good. But public ownership and authority over some essential services is necessary. Which essential services this means can be debated at some point in the future, but for now let's say that news and entertainment must be permanently disconnected. Remove the profit motive from journalism--for all media. Mandate public service and news programming from broadcasters, cable services, internet providers, and demand it be non-commercial.

And--first and foremost--we must not forget that the Democratic Party, at least since the time of FDR, has worked to help people. To help PEOPLE. We must never shy away from that goal, never compromise it or even appear to compromise it, and have the courage of that conviction.

Bennett : France Under Siege from "Gangsta Islam"

Citing two divergent Op-Ed articles, one from Tony Blankley in the Moonie Washington Times (Islamist threat in France), and one from David Brooks in the once proud New York Times (Gangsta, in French), Bill Bennett--incredibly--suggested on his radio program this morning that the rioting in France is the product of--I kid you not--"Gangsta Islam."

I'll leave it to the reader to measure the quality of the arguments in Blankley's and Brooks's articles. But there's no way I can't comment on Bill "I am not a racist/hypocrite/compulsive gambler" Bennett's crazy notion.

The idea that there may be such a thing as "Gangsta Islam" makes no sense to anyone who knows anything about Islam, and especially Islamic fundamentalism. It is equivalent to asserting that Saddam Hussein and al Qa'ida were allied, when they were avowed mortal enemies.

What's up? I have never been a fan of Bill Bennett's reactionary cultural nationalism. But I never thought he was stupid (okay, I had some suspicions). My thought is that the American far right is trying desperately to make this seem not only like the newest front of the war on "Islamo-fascism," but even worse: Islamo-fascism with an attitude.

That's even scarier, right?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Say no to milk

Two Mexican immigrants say that Republican dairy owner Jim Oberweis and a Lake in the Hills subcontractor paid them well below minimum wage to clean three suburban Oberweis ice cream shops. We're talking $3.23 an hour instead of the $350 they were each promised for 2 weeks. How many people can survive on $3.23 an hour?! Let me put that into perspective folks---imagine getting paid $258.40 for 80 hours of work. Yeah sure--that's a lot better than the 8 cents an hour they'd get paid in Mexico. So why do you think they came to work in the United States in the first place?

And Jim Oberweis is running for Illinois governor next year. So Illinoisans: you now know who NOT to vote for next year.

Something is really wrong here. Mexican President Fox and President Bush really need to put on the cowboy boots and talk--pronto.

And say no to milk--Oberweis, that is.

Suit: Oberweis milked illegal labor
Chicago Sun-Times - November 9, 2005

BBC : US Uses Incendiary Weapons in Iraq

A former US soldier fighting in Iraq says US forces used white phosphorus bombs during last year's siege of Fallujah. Jeff Englehart says he heard the warning for US troops to leave the targeted area over his humvee's radio. He says the condition of corpses he saw when his unit re-entered the affected area was consistent with a white phosphorus attack:
Burned bodies, burned women, burned children; white phosphorus kills indiscriminately... When it makes contact with skin, then it's absolutely irreversible damage, burning flesh to the bone...

Monday, November 07, 2005

America : We're Mad as HELL and We're Not Going to Take it Anymore!!!

Election 2006

Well, I may be overstating the case a bit in the title of this post, but something has changed in America this year, and it is a change for the better. I don't think we're "cured" or that we don't spend most of our lives groping around IN THE DARK for truth. But this is an encouraging start.

A new ABC News/Washington Post Poll (Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2005) indicates that, if the election were held today, control of Congress would be in Democratic hands. 53% of those polled say they would vote for the Democratic candidate as compared to 36% who would--for some reason--vote for the GOP candidate.

In the same poll, the question "Overall, which party, the Democrats or the Republicans, do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?" was answered "Democrats" by 49% of those polled and "Republicans" by 37%

60% believe the Democratic party is more open to the ideas of political moderates (24% for the GOP), 56% that Democrats are more concerned with the needs of regular folks (33% for GOP), 50% that Democrats represent the respondent's personal values (40% for the GOP).

51% say that the GOP has "stronger leaders" (35% for the Democrats).

Speaking of "strong leaders," a new Zogby poll shows that 51% of Americans support the impeachment of George W. Bush if it is proven that Bush lied about why the US invaded Iraq.

Keep up the pressure, America. We deserve the truth, and we deserve better than we've gotten for the last five years.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Chavez : Bush is a Loser

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Missing a cue (or two) from Dale Carnegie, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tweaked George W. Bush's nose after thwarting the US President's efforts to conclude negotiations on the so-called Free Trade Area of the Americas at this week's "Summit of the Americas" In Mar del Plata, Argentina.
"The man was beaten and he never saw it coming. The grand defeat went to Mister George "W." Bush, which is why he left ahead of time," he declared, amidst the laughter of his ministers, who had accompanied from their first class rooms at the Republica Hotel.
Bush left the summit two days early, apparently when it became clear that Latin opposition to FTAA was unyielding.

White House sources claimed that the outcome of the summit was positive, since there was agreement to continue talks next year.

Friday, November 04, 2005

(Stupid) quote of the day

"Illegal aliens continue to funnel directly into many of our local communities and adversely impact our way of life by overwhelming our schools, inundating our health care system and, most concerning, threatening our safety," said Hunter, who was working on the bill with Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va.

Lawmaker Wants Fence On 2,000-Mile U.S.-Mexico Border
Fence Would Cost Billions Of Dollars
AP-November 3, 2005

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My New Book

It seems like it's taken forever, but my new book is now finished and on my desk (and for sale). For reviews and information on where/how to buy it, you can click on the ad in the side bar, on the title/link above, which will bring you to the Edwin Mellen Press.
Image hosted by
The book is also available from, Barnes and Noble,,,, and "other fine dealers." (LOL)

Just wanted to share my good news.

Year Two...

IN THE DARK marks its first anniversary today. It's been an interesting and instructive year. Some of the stories I've enjoyed following and have learned a lot about include, of course, the run-up to the Iraq war and Bush administration lies about WMDs, Bush administration support for terrorism, and the emergence, in Latin America, of democratically elected leftist governments constituting, for the Bush administration, a "New Axis of Evil."TM

More to follow.

Bush Approval Ratings Tank

In a new CBS News Poll (Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2005), the President's job approval ratings fall to the lowest level of his Presidency, with only 35% of Americans polled thinking he's doing a good job, with 57% disapproving, and 8% not sure.

Only 32% approve of the President's handling of the Iraq war, with 62% disapproving and 6% unsure. The percentage of Americans believing that our invasion was "not worth it" remains steady (since October 5) at 64%, but the proportion who believe it was worth it drops to 31%.

I smell a mandate: IMPEACH BUSH!!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Will Bush Ignore the Issue?

Bush May Skirt Topic of Immigration Reform

Published: November 2, 2005

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Nearly every time President Bush travels south of the border, he promotes the idea of allowing more foreigners to work legally in the United States. But Bush is likely to skirt the issue when he heads to Argentina this week to attend the Summit of the Americas, largely because the proposal has stalled in Congress -- where many Republicans argue that securing U.S. borders should take priority.


An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Latin America's Spanish-language alternative to US- and European-owned television channel went on the air live yesterday, after four months of airing taped programming. TeleSur, proposed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and funded in part by his government (51%, with 20% of the funding coming from Argentina, 19% from Cuba, and 10% from Uruguay), is meant to give a more objective view of Latin America than currently available from the likes of CNN (owned by Time/Warner), Univision (US owned), and Telemundo (owned by General Electric).

In July the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted to let the Bush administration begin broadcasting their own television signals to Venezuela. The stated intention was to counter "anti-US propaganda."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Quote of the Week--Ozymandias

This should be required reading for both the Bush administration and the over-reaching Project for a New American Century.
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792-1822