Thursday, June 30, 2005

Defense Department Hates Family Values - U.S. invades kids' privacy

An interesting story from that bastion of radicalism, USAToday. Take a read. Also, this from Bob Herbert.

Are you pissed off yet? Then write your Congressional and Senate reps.

Are the Troops Turning on Their Commander in Chief?

Troops' Silence at Fort Bragg Starts a Debate All Its Own - New York Times

We listened to part of the Presidents speech the other night--and then read the whole thing on-line--in my summer class on Public Opinion and Propaganda. One of the questions students raised afterwards was (something very much like) "Everyone knows he's lying. How are the troops responding to this?" I said I honestly didn't know. But everyone in the class noticed that there wasn't a whole lot of reaction from his live, military audience at Fort Bragg, NC.
On Wednesday, as Mr. Bush's repeated use of the imagery of the Sept. 11 attacks drew bitter criticism from Congressional Democrats, there was a parallel debate under way about whether the troops sat on their hands because they were not impressed, or because they thought that was their orders.

Oh, that's it. The White House ordered the troops not to applaud. This is the same White House that ordered the troops to applaud on May 3, 2003 against the backdrop of a White House-sponsored "Mission Accomplished" sign. Sure. That makes sense. Uh....right? Anyway, American GIs would do anything for their Commander-in-Cheat. And he would do anything for them. Uh....right?
With Iraq once more atop the political agenda, the Senate on Wednesday gave hasty approval to an additional $1.5 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, to cover a budget gap caused in part by unexpected demands for health care by returning Iraqi veterans.

Oh, uh, well, we didn't anticipate all those casualties as we were busy preparing an invasion with too few troops and insufficient protection.
While the White House tried to explain the silence, Democrats were critical of Mr. Bush's use of the Sept. 11 attacks - comparing it to the administration's argument, before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that Saddam Hussein had links to Al Qaeda. The independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks found no evidence of "a collaborative operational relationship" between Iraq and Osama bin Laden's organization.

Are we really still talking about this?
Mr. Bush declared in his speech, as he has many times in recent months, that the Iraq campaign is part of a wider war on terrorism that was brought home to America on Sept. 11, 2001.

Hey, Spinmeisters: We ALL heard what he said. Clear as a bell. The Denver Post lamented, "The president repeatedly invoked the Sept. 11 attacks to press for public support of U.S. policy in Iraq. We had hoped he would retire this gimmick." The Kennebec (ME) Journal sounded a bit testy about it (and these are the folks he vacations with): "In a speech that was broadcast worldwide, Bush reaffirmed his "stay the course" commitment to the conflict. And for the umpteenth time, he attempted -- again, unconvincingly -- to link the Iraqi insurgency with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people." Newsday put it bluntly: "President George W. Bush went to the American people Tuesday night to explain why the nation must stay the course in Iraq and the kernel of his televised message was: 9/11-terrorism, 9/11-terrorism. That is not enough and it will not do." noted that the speech didn't seem to help Bush's cause all that much: "U.S. President George W. Bush's public approval rating remained in negative territory after a nationally televised address on Iraq, a new poll has found. The poll by Utica, New York-based Zogby International reported that 43 percent of those surveyed approved of Bush's job performance and 56 percent disapproved." But some people will never let this dead dog lie, no matter what the evidence, and Bush is exploiting this "faith."

Mr. Bush, his aides said, was referring not to the past, but to the arrival in Iraq of terrorists linked to Al Qaeda once Mr. Hussein's government fell.

Oh, just stop, okay? For the love of God, just stop.

Join the July 1 rally in Chicago--Say 'NO' to the Minuteman Project

UIC's MESA (Mexican Students de Aztlan) group is having a march for immigrants' rights:

Friday, July 1, 2005
10 a.m.
3100 S. Ashland (by Archer)

The march will run south on Ashland to 43rd St.
A rally will take place at noon at Ashland and 43rd St.

One march-One voice-One people
Calling on all people of good conscience
Don't let the Minuteman Project define our people!!

A survey? That's news to me.

"Illegal immigration increased as a result of President Bush's proposed immigration reform," said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, an organization which opposes Bush's immigration plan. It obtained the survey results through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), also critical of the proposal, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff demanding to know why the January 2004 poll was conducted and why it was not previously disclosed.

An official of the Department of Homeland Security rejected the group's assertions, saying they were based on a survey that was not completed.

"I don't know how they can draw any conclusions based on inconclusive findings and information taken out of context," said Kristi Clemens, an assistant commissioner in customs and border protection.

The survey was originally scheduled to last six months but ended after a few weeks. Clemens said its existence was leaked to the news media, which, she said, "compromised" the poll and prompted the office to end it. She said the agency had designed the questions "to predict any trends" so it could head off any potential problems.

Yeah, sure. Sounds to me like the government just didn't want to disclose the survey information. Typical.

Immigration Plan May Have Gone Awry
By Brian Faler, Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, June 30, 2005

Visit the Mexican Consulate

If you're an immigrant and need information about things like visas, citizenship, ID cards, and passports, check out Chicago's Consulate General of Mexico website or go to its new building at 204 S. Ashland (even Mexican President Vicente Fox was there for the opening). And for those who can't make it to the building, the consulate sends out mobile units to communities several times a month--and the units help people obtain IDs & bank accounts, and assist with travel, citizenship, and much more. Its most recent mobile unit was at Iglesia San Esteban Martir in Carpentersville yesterday.

So a message to all immigrants--take advantage of the Mexican consulate! The number is (312) 738 2383 and it's open Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. (for passports, the hours are from 7 a.m. to 10:30 AM).

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Nixon : Indira Gandhi an 'Old Witch'

Nixon Called Indira Gandhi an 'Old Witch' -- Associated Press

This is the hero of the neo-con crowd. You remember, the guy who subverted the US Constitution, obstructed justice, set up an illegal secret police force, and was forced to resign in disgrace rather than face certain impeachment? The guy whose crime-shortened legacy the right tried to avenge by impeaching a sitting President for lying about sex? The guy who, when his incompetent and immoral prosecution of the Vietnam war (m0re than 20,000 of the 53,000 Americans who died in Vietnam were killed during Nixon's presidency, and he ran on a platform of ending the war) forced a generally supportive media to start looking critically at our involvement there, helped to create the myth of the "liberal media?"

Yeah, That guy. Well, we don't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore. Thanks be to God. But we do have this other guy...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Times (UK) : US General Admits to Secret 2002 Iraq Air War

General admits to secret air war - Sunday Times - Times Online

Addressing a briefing on lessons learnt from the Iraq war Lieutenant-General Michael Moseley said that in 2002 and early 2003 allied aircraft flew 21,736 sorties, dropping more than 600 bombs on 391 “carefully selected targets” before the war officially started.
Congress did not authorize military activity against Iraq until October of 2002, so any activity beyond the policing of "no fly zones" would be an abuse of executive war powers under the US Constitution.

If those raids exceeded the need to maintain security in the no-fly zones of southern and northern Iraq, they would leave President George W Bush and Tony Blair vulnerable to allegations that they had acted illegally.

The British Foreign Office has already taken the position that these raids were illegal.

All of this occurred while the US and UK Governments were "fixing the intelligence" in order to persuade the British and American people--and the rest of the world--that Saddam Hussein posed a genuine threat to them.
Time will be required to prepare public opinion in the UK that it is necessary to take military action against Saddam Hussein. There would also need to be a substantial effort to secure the support of Parliament. An information campaign will be needed which has to be closely related to an overseas information campaign designed to influence Saddam Hussein, the Islamic World and the wider international community. This will need to give full coverage to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, including his WMD, and the legal justification for action.

And then the real lies began.

Monday, June 27, 2005

On Mexico's window: A 'help wanted' sign

July 2 marks the fifth year that Mexican President Vicente Fox has been in office. Most people believe this guy hasn't done a thing.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, ruled Mexico for 70 years until Fox became president. So what happened to Fox's promise to create jobs and stop crime, help the poor, win a new immigration deal with the United States, fix education, and expose the corruption in Mexico's government and judicial system? What has Fox done exactly? Well, we know he gave important government jobs to PRI members. So much for cleaning house.

"I think Fox didn't know what to do with the PRI," said Dulce Maria Sauri, a senator who was PRI president in 2000. "During the campaign, it was very useful to paint the PRI as the devil. But to govern, that was not enough. Fox's plan was to get the PRI out of Los Pinos, but then he didn't know what to do. He opened the door to the transition, but then he stood there paralyzed in the doorway. He wasted his political power."

But Fox is proud that he ended PRI rule: "The revolution to me was breaking the 70 years of authoritarian dictatorship." When Fox was elected, Mexicans danced in the streets. Today, they're probably begging for food and crying.

"My government is not a failure. You don't build up a country in six years. Mexico was so far behind that we will need a generation to solve all the problems completely."

Mexico's previous president, Ernesto Zedillo, was a Yale-educated economist; Fox is a Harvard grad. I guess schooling didn't prepare them for this job. Guys--it's time to look for another profession.

For Mexico's Fox, a 'Revolution' Unfulfilled
By Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan, Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, June 27, 2005; Page A01

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Why Do Right-Wingers Hate America (Part II)

Dems Allegedly 'Conducting Guerrilla Warfare on Troops' -- 06/23/2005

Dissent will not be tolerated in the New American Century.

Confronting lies with facts is obstructionism and calling those who tell lies "liars" is treason.

In the New American Century, up is down in is out, and opinion is fact. And you'd better get used to it, liberal scum. All who refuse to march in lock-step with an avaricious, base, class-centered, delusional and evil administration will pay the consequences. Ask Dick Durbin.

Now Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Chair of the House Republican Conference, takes the entire Democratic Party to task:
(W)hat we've seen from Democrat leaders is a growing pattern of jumping at any chance to point the finger at our own troops, bending over backwards to promote the interests of terror-camp detainees while dragging our military's honored reputation through the mud.

It's not the interests of detainees--prisoners, of war in fact--that Democrats are concerned with. It's the Constitution. It's human rights. It's due process of law. It's real American values. Americans don't do first strikes--pre-emptive or otherwise. Americans don't do torture. What is wrong with these people?

Pryce ranted on:
For (House Minority) Leader (Nancy) Pelosi and Senator Durbin, if prison-camp detainees are given anything other than pillow-top mattresses or lean-cut filet mignon, they're being treated inhumanely and our military is to blame.

What bullshit.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) piled on with Pryce, saying that it
is just inconceivable and truly incorrigible that in the midst of the war, that the Democratic leaders would be conducting guerrilla warfare on American troops....The American taxpayer is already providing accommodations for detainees, who are currently more comfortable than most of our men and women in uniform.

Unless they've been beaten to death, attacked by dogs, pissed on, or "rendered" to another country with less "humane" interrogation methods than ours.

So. We should all just SHUT UP!!! and let the Bush administration get on with God's work, right, Howie? Well, like it or not, dissent is an American value.

Why do right-wingers hate America so much?

Venezuela : Evidence of Assassination Plot Against Chavez

Venezuela's Interior Minister Says he has Evidence of Assassination Plot

Interior and Justice Minister Jesse Chacon says the Venezuelan government has evidence of a plot to assassinate President Hugo Chavez. Venezuelan intelligence agents say they believe Right-wing, anti-Chavez Venezuelans have met with Colombian Right-wing paramilitaries.

Just three weeks ago, two American soldiers were arrested for allegedly selling weapons to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a Right-wing paramilitary group who the US State Department has labeled a terrorist organization. While State Department spokesman Richard Boucher denied that the US was selling arms to an illegal organization, he would neither confirm nor deny whether the weapons were part of a $3.3 billion defense deal with Colombia.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has been very supportive of a Colombian law granting immunity from prosecution to Right-wing terrorist groups.

Venezuela--and other left-of-center governments in Latin America--is a thorn in Bush's side, and in the side of the PNAC. General John Craddock, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, warned of the dangers of “radical populism” in Latin America and singled out Venezuela as “generating a destabilizing situation that represents a danger for the hemisphere.” On January 19, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said of Chavez (failing to note the irony), "We are very concerned about a democratically elected leader who governs in an illiberal way."

Now, let me get this straight: Colombia is our ALLY in Latin America, and Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and other left-of-center social democracies constitute a "New Axis of Evil,"TM do I have that right?

There's something dreadfully wrong here.

The United States: a Country Beyond the Law

America's Foul Treatment of Prisoners 'Impossible to Deny'

From El Universal (Mexico), an OpEd piece by Victor Flores Olea, which situates the US in the context of global perceptions of human rights and the rule of law.

We don't fare too well in others' eyes...

Hypocrisy, an overarching war mentality, and a disregard for the basic principles of human rights and international legal obligations continue to mark the U.S.’s “war on terror.”

...The detention camp at Guantánamo has become a symbol of the Bush Administration’s refusal to put human rights and the rule of law at the heart of its response to the atrocities of September 11.

...Amnesty (says) “It is nearly a year since the United States Supreme Court ruled that U.S. courts have the jurisdiction to consider appeals from detainees in Guantánamo Bay.” It is evident that the Bush Administration has sought to block judicial review every step of the way, and to remain as far above the judicial process as possible.

The most serious of the Bush administration’s anti-judicial actions does violence to one of the cardinal principles of the U.S. Constitution, which calls for checks and balances between the three branches of government. “It seems rather contrary to an idea of a Constitution with three branches that the executive would be free to do whatever they want, whatever they want without a check.” (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, 20 April 2004).

...Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, personally authorized those and other techniques of torture to interrogate the prisoners in Guantánamo (Amnesty International report).

...To this, it is necessary to add the legal maneuverings the U.S. government is currently undertaking to avoid extraditing Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela, where he escaped from jail in 1976 after being charged in connection with the bombing of a Cuban airliner which killed 73 people.

And, to make matters worse, and in confirmation of the scorn of the Bush Administration shows toward the norms of international law and multilateral organizations, the U.S. is only sending a third-ranking diplomat to attend next year’s festivities in San Francisco celebrating the United Nations’ 60th anniversary. Of course, George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice had been invited to the ceremony. For the United States, any sign of resistance or limitation to its imperial and unilateral power is intolerable. For that reason, more than ever, it is worth reiterating the question: is this definitively a country without laws?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

CIA : Iraq a Training Ground for Militants

Iraq May Be Prime Place for Training of Militants, C.I.A. Report Concludes - New York Times

The world is safer now that we've "liberated" Iraq, right Howie?

Well, maybe not. A new CIA assessment of Iraq indicates that the agency believes that 21st Century Iraq has much in common with 1980s/90s Afghanistan, and that "terrorists-in-training" may be flocking there to get "hands-on" experience in insurgent warfare.
The officials said the report spelled out how the urban nature of the war in Iraq was helping combatants learn how to carry out assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other kinds of attacks that were never a staple of the fighting in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet campaigns of the 1980's. It was during that conflict, primarily rural and conventional, that the United States provided arms to Osama bin Laden and other militants, who later formed Al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, far from being in their "death throes," the Iraqi insurgency is taking a higher and higher toll on American lives because of their increasing technological sophistication in the use of "improvised explosive devices."
Last month there were about 700 attacks against American forces using so-called improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s, the highest number since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the American military command in Iraq and a senior Pentagon military official. Attacks on Iraqis also reached unprecedented levels, Lt. Gen. John Vines, a senior American ground commander in Iraq, told reporters on Tuesday.

Silent Lucidity: Under the Radar

Silent Lucidity: Under the Radar

Aine, the "Evil Queen" at Silent Lucidity, has an excellent analysis of the Downing Street Memos, their authenticity, and the failure of the mainstream American media to follow the most important story of the 21st century.

What Next for Posada Carriles?

What Will U.S. Do With the Terrorist Carriles?

Posada is the former CIA operative and alleged mastermind of a 1976 airliner bombing. The Bush administration has so far refused to extradite him to Venezuela where he faces charges for that crime. He has been charged instead with illegally entering the US.

The mainstream media have been silent about Posada. In fact, there's been damned little if anything about him in the national press since he was arrested in Miami on May 17th. But FBI and CIA sources indicate that Posada is not only an alleged terrorist, but a terrorist in fact. And the reason we are not extraditing him to Venezuela has nothing to do with justice, but with the fact that he was a "good terrorist," that is to say "one of ours."

And there is some evidence--not unimpeachable, to be sure, but evidence nonetheless--that the US is selling arms to Comumbian terrorists.

Is the US "war on terror" for real? Or is it a war on people who do not accept the agenda of the Project for a New American Century? Only George W. Bush and his administration can answer this question, and the answer will be made clear by their actions, not their rhetoric. The words have been very clear:

“All governments that support terror are complicit in a war against civilization.” – President Bush's UN speech, 9/23/03

The actions have been a little muddier.

In Bush's America, There is No Dissent

Bush Attacks Civil Society, Seeks to Squelch American Dissent

From the Yemen Times, an "outsider's" view of what is going on inside the US, "which to a certain extent has begun an open and systematic pursuit of limiting and restricting the fundamental human and political rights of its own people."

We have read and discovered that many Americans see Guantanamo as being far from the shining example of American democracy, which the Bush Administration purportedly wants to propagate throughout the world. So, it should come as no surprise to the Bush Administration that the harsh treatment meted out to prisoners detained without any legal or constitutional pretext, has become the focus of criticism from a human rights watchdog like Amnesty International.

One, in fact, would have hoped that an awakening may have come to the White House after Amnesty’s criticism over the way the Bush Administration has behaved in Guantanamo. That as a democracy, the administration would give weight to the significance of civil society, and would seek ways to demonstrate that it is indeed an upholder of democratic principles.

But by harshly lashing out at its critics, it is as if to tell the world that the Bushniks and their Likudnik mentors [Likud is Israel’s ruling party] have a God-given hold on infallibility. This only proves that the evil interests they serve, rather than any desire to enhance and uphold the rights and welfare of the world’s people, govern their behavior.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A security risk in Knoxville

According to a report by the Department of Energy's inspector general, 16 illegal immigrants gained access to a weapon site--Y-12 National Security Complex--near Knoxville, Tenn. Apparently, the 16 construction workers used fake green cards to get access badges. And since classified information was available in a construction trailer for all to see, security was compromised (it was later reported that the workers didn't have access to any classified documents).

So now, people at the plant are paying more attention to security. Hopefully, those in charge of security will be the ones blamed. And I'm guessing the immigrants were thrown into an interrogation room and questioned for hours and hours--with no interpreter, food or water.
No one ever reports about that though. Typical.

Illegal immigrants accessed nuclear weapons facilityBut Department of Energy report says nothing was compromisedFrom Michael McManus, CNN Washington BureauTuesday, June 21, 2005

Bolton Losing Ground in Senate; Bush Threatening Recess Appointment

Bolton fares even worse in second vote

This nomination should be considered DOA. It always should have been. It is not a matter of Democrats "winning" a political battle and Republicans "losing" one. Bolton is bad news, and should never have been nominated.

It's not a matter of "bad management style," either. It's the ideology. It's the tendency to put administration (read: PNAC) policy over truth. Ray McGovern notes:
...John Bolton played a key role in ordering that discredited intelligence be used to support the president's case for war, three months before the attack on Iraq.

ReidBlog describes a similar policy of politicizing intelligence with regard to Cuba:
The correspondence provided to the Senate committee also includes a Feb. 12 message sent to Mr. Bolton by Mr. Fleitz, who disparages what he calls the "already cleared (wimpy) language on Cuba" that Mr. (Christian C.) Westermann (the State Department's top expert on biological weapons who clashed sharply with Mr. Bolton over Cuba) had recommended be used by Mr. Bolton in his planned speech...(Bolton:) "I explained to Christian that it was a political judgment as to how to interpret this data, and the I.C. (intelligence community) should do as we asked and sanitize my language as long as sources and methods are not compromised."

Bolton's nomination will not be approved. It should be dropped. But Bush is now entertaining the idea of appointing Bolton while Congress is in recess.
Bush has the power to install Bolton during the Senate's upcoming break. The so-called recess appointment would only last through the next one-year session of Congress -- in Bolton's case until January 2007.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Associated Press Finally Notices the Downing Street Memos

Memos Show British Fretting Over Iraq War

It's about time, no?

Republicans Challenge Bush's Iraq Optimism

Republican senators challenge Bush's Iraq optimism - Yahoo! News:

Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq.

Too often we've been told and the American people have been told that we're at a turning point. What the American people should have been told and should be told ... (is that) it's long; it's hard; it's tough...It's going to be at least a couple more years.

Friday, June 17, 2005

UK Defence Minister : US Lied to Britain About Napalm


It seems we may have firebombed Fallujah last November, something reported by Chris Floyd in The Moscow Times last March. A letter from Adam Ingram, the UK Defence Minister, to Labour MP Harry Cohen seems to confirm this.
The confirmation that US officials misled British ministers led to new questions last night about the value of the latest assurances by the US. Mr Cohen said there were rumours that the firebombs were used in the US assault on the insurgent stronghold in Fallujah last year, claims denied by the US. He is tabling more questions seeking assurances that the weapons were not used against civilians.

Floys also reported that US forces used chemical weapons, napalm, cluster bombs on civilian areas, and attacks on hospitals during the campaign in Fallujah.

An E-mail Exchange With a Right-Wing Friend From NY

This all flowed from a previous posting. Howie is RED. I am BLUE.

You know I don't (hate America).

But you hate American values. If you support torture, you hold American values in contempt. Torture is un-American. Supporting torture is un-American. End of discussion.

You hate Christian values. If you support torture, you hold Christianity in contempt. Torture is un-Christian. Supporting torture is un-Christian. End of discussion.

America has only done GOOD for the world.

America has done much great good for the world in the past. I pray it will do so in the future. Right now, we're NOT doing good, by holding our own values in contempt, by acting unlike America has acted ever before.

Through out our history, we've sacrificed millions of American lives so that the world is a safer and better place to live. NO OTHER COUNTRY HAS SACRIFICED SO MUCH AND HAS PAID SO MUCH AS WE HAVE.

In WW I, the US lost 126,000 soldiers. Russia lost 1, 700,000--about 15 for every American. Britain (and its colonies) lost 908,000. France lost 1,300,000--about 10 for every American. Italy (an ally at that point) lost 650,000.

In WW II, the US lost 292,000 soldiers. The French underground lost 292,000. Britain lost 264,000. The Soviet Union lost 8,668,000 (!).
See also here.

I don't point this out to denigrate the sacrifices that the "greatest generation" made. But it's important to put your right-wing propaganda in perspective. Many other countries have paid a far greater toll than we have in fighting for freedom.

As you know, I hate it when lazy people blame our government for their shortcomings.

I hate intellectual laziness, half-truths, and propaganda that tries to justify the greatest country in the world acting like the worst. I hate intellectual laziness that reveals utter contempt for American values.

People are always quick to criticize us when we don't rush to their aid, yet always seem to criticize us when we go to aid someone else.

Like your criticism of our NATO coalition in Bosnia?

This resentment of the Muslims to us infidels didn't start with Bush.

Of course it didn't. But he has done more in the last five years to exascerbate and propagate it than anyone in our lifetime.

I asked you the other day about The Patriot Act and peoples rights violated. You were able to name 4 cases. well, even if its only 100. If Americans lives are being saved, I accept it.

A] That's a shame for you. Why do you want to curtail American freedoms? Why do you hate America? B] American lives are NOT being saved. What makes you think they are? Because the Bush administration says so? It is rather dangerous to take their word for it.

We still have far more rights than most people in the world.

Unless we have exactly what the Constitution gives us, I am not satisfied. Why do you hate the Constitution? Why do you hate America?

And remember, the rights that you say we have lost, is not a result of Americans actions, its a result of the terrorists and radical Muslims that you give the benefit of the doubt.

I give no one the benefit of the doubt beyond what our Constitution and International law that we have agreed to and ratified demands.

That you feel sorry for

I feel sorry for NO terrorist. I want to see ALL terrorist brought to justice. If we abandon the rule of law, however, in our pursuit of terrorists, if we deny essential, universal rights of due process, we have become a lawless society. We are answerable only to our emotions. And that's how terrorists think.

because you feel that the big bad America stepped on with its bad capitalistic society.

You can play the Laura Ingraham game all you want, Howie, and just make fun of legitimate criticism. But the undeveloped world is being exploited for cheap labor and cheap resources. And an enormous portion of this world is Islamic. Terrorist leaders like Osama may be insane, but the footsoldiers of terrorism are desperate people. Injustice spawns injustice. It doesn't justify terrorism--EVER. But if you are aware of an injustice, and do nothing to make it right, you own a piece of responsibility for whatever evil comes out of it. That's Catholic theology, by the way.

I'm proud to be an American.

No you're not. You are embarrassed by views that dissent from the administration's. You'd love to silence that dissent. You are supportive of torture. You don't believe in due process of law. You don't believe in the equality of people. These are not American values. So you are NOT proud to be an American. You are proud, perhaps, to be a Bush republican. And you label this being an "American." But it is not.

I am embarrassed when people like Kennedy, Durbin and Leheay try to make a point, by putting this Great country down.

They are not "putting this great country down." They are criticizing policies that are un-American.

And I have even more resentment for them when I see Muslim news stations quoting them.

The truth hurts, Howie. Deal with it.

Latino farmworkers win $1.05 settlement

A group of Latino farmworkers will share one of the largest discrimination settlements in the agriculture industry--$1.05 million. Complaints started as far back as 1989. The workers, mostly Hispanic women, said they were sexually harassed--one said she was raped. When one longtime employee complained about the harassment, she and her crew were fired. Women also said the company denied them job opportunities based on their gender.

The settlement stems from a 2003 lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Virginia Mejia, Rosario Taylor and several dozen other women against Rivera Vineyards in California's Coachella Valley.

"In the farmworker industry, there is fear of retaliation," Santos Albarran, outreach manager for the Los Angeles EEOC, said. "A lot has to do with the language barrier, for one. The other is stress about government agencies. Because it's such a close-knit industry, they can be blackballed."

The company denied the allegations. The company also agreed to reinstate workers who were wrongfully terminated. Sure--I'd want to go back and work at a place that rapes women & treats them like trash.

Rivera Vineyards should be shut down.

$1.05 Million Settles Farmworkers' Case - June 16, 2005

$257 million for what?

Have you heard about this one? A $250 million contract (with a $2 million price that skyrocketed to $257 million) to place remote video surveillance cameras along parts of the United States' northern and southern borders was awarded in 1999 to a company called International Microwave Corp. which was later acquired by L-3 Communications Government Services Inc.

GSA reported to the House that the program wasn't run correctly.

U.S. border surveillance system became fiasco
Thu Jun 16, 2005
By Alan Elsner WASHINGTON (Reuters)

HDO vs. new Latino group?

The Hispanic Democratic Organization should do more for the Hispanic community. Although it is a 1173-member political group, you think they'd do more than just break the law (according to the June 12 Sun-Times, federal investigators are said to be looking into whether HDO wields a clout-heavy hand in city hirings). HDO is run by a former top aide to Mayor Daley, Victor Reyes.

And Al Sanchez, head of Chicago's Streets and San, was one of the people who helped form HDO at a bar on 95th & Ewing in 1989 or 1993 (depends on if you believe what insiders say or what the official files say). And Sanchez was former 10th Ward Ald./former mayoral candidate Edward Vrdolyak's precinct captain.

Today, the Chicago Tribune reported that Latino leaders plan to announce the forming of a new research advocacy group, Latino Action Research Network. Heading the group is Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, a former state senator. The group says it's not going to compete with HDO and it plans to help mold Latinos who want to run for office.

In case you haven't noticed, there are a lot of Latinos in Chicago. In the 90s, Chicago's Latino population grew by 68 percent to 1.4 million.

In a statement, HDO leader Victor Reyes said, "I welcome any person or group that wants to help empower the Hispanic community."

And here's an interesting fact: "Chuy" Garcia was defeated by an HDO-backed candidate, state Sen. Antonio "Tony" Munoz (D-Chicago).

Considering their history, what we don't need is petty arguments between "Chuy" and Reyes. What both organizations really need to do is work together to help the Hispanic community--especially on the immigration issue. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) supports the new Latino Action Research Network, too---and for years he's fought for many Latino issues such as immigration. So both of you--give Gutierrez a call and take notes. And check your attitudes at the door.

Bush Drops Like a Brick

Bush: Job Ratings:

The latest:

CBS News/New York Times Poll. June 10-15, 2005. N=1,111 adults nationwide. MoE +/- 3.
'Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?'

Approve 42%
Disapprove 51%
Unsure 7%

Recent polls from other organizations:

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. June 8-12, 2005. N=1,464 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.
"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"

Approve 42%
Disapprove 49%
Unsure 10%

Associated Press/Ipsos poll conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs. June 6-8, 2005. N=1,001 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.1.
"Overall, do you approve, disapprove or have mixed feelings about the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"

Approve 43%
Disapprove 55%
MixedFeelings 1%
Unsure 1%

Gallup Poll and CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, June 6-8, 2005.
"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"

Approve 47%
Disapprove 49%

ABC News/Washington Post Poll. June 2-5, 2005. N=1,002 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.
"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"

Approve 48%
Disapprove 52%
Unsure 1%

Can you feel the love?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

It's like watching paint dry

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights looked over about 800 face-to-face interviews with legal permanent residents and new Illinois citizens and found that 80 percent said applying for citizenship was difficult. Apparently, language, financial and education barriers are to blame. Some said that the citizenship test is too hard and the cost of applying ($320) prevented them from becoming citizens. Well, maybe the Secure America and Orderly Act will help--and hopefully, soon.

The Illinois coalition supports the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, S. 1033 and H.R. 2330. Its website reads:

America’s current immigration system is broken, and comprehensive immigration reform offers a real solution to the backlogging of families separated because of bad laws, promoting safer borders and national security, and sustaining a strong economy...We are a nation of immigrants all aspiring for opportunity and the American dream. Immigrants are fundamental to who America is through their key participation in our economy through their hard work and talent, contributing to taxes, Social Security, and more.

The bill includes border security initiatives that involve multiple partnerships; a state reimbursement program for the incarceration of undocumented aliens convicted of crimes; a worker visa program (workers will have to pay a $500 fee and clear security, medical, and other checks); and undocumented immigrants in the United States can register for temporary visas (valid for six years).

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) is also pushing for this act, along with Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Kennedy (D-MA), and Representatives Kolbe (R-AZ) and Flake (R-AZ).

Rep. Kolbe stated in a May 12 news release: “This is a comprehensive bill that doesn’t try to solve the hemorrhaging immigration problem with a band-aid – this bill is major surgery. The majority of the illegal immigration is happening in Arizona, and I will not stand by and let southern Arizona be the doormat for this country’s failed immigration policy. They are illegal immigrants – they have broken the law and must be punished. That is why this legislation includes strict fines and penalties for those already in this country illegally and tough punishments for employers who hire illegal immigrants. More importantly, it provides the secure identification document so an employer can know the person seeking work is here legally."

It's about time! But let's see if (and when) this bill is approved. (Kind'a like watching paint dry, I say.)

AP : Five U.S. Marines, Sailor Killed in Iraq

Five U.S. Marines, Sailor Killed in Iraq - Yahoo! News

And the count stands at 1, 714.

Each of the seven latest polls show Americans disapproving of Bush's handling of the war.

Why do Right-Wingers Hate America? (Part I)

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today

Here's what one of my Senators, Dick Durbin, said:

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]--I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The
detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Here's what James Taranto said in the Wall Street Journal:
We are fighting an enemy that murdered 3,000 innocent people on American soil 3 1/2 years ago and would murder millions more if given the chance--and according to Dick Durbin, our soldiers are the Nazis.
Huh? Excuse me? Is THAT what he said?

An indignant Rush Limbaugh huffed:
The Nazis gassed people. The Nazis mass murdered people. The Nazis committed all kinds of atrocities. The Nazis would attach electrodes to genitals. The Nazis would use electrical shock. The Nazis were literally brutal. We have nothing in common with them.
Image hosted by
In a statement, Durbin said:

No one, including the White House, can deny that the statement I read on the Senate floor was made by an FBI agent describing the torture of a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. That torture was reprehensible and totally inconsistent with the values we hold dear in America. This administration should apologize to the American people for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorizing torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure.
In his Senate speech, he also said this:

It is not too late. I hope we will learn from history. I hope we will change course. The President could declare the United States will apply the Geneva Conventions to the war on terrorism. He could declare, as he should, that the United States will not, under any circumstances, subject any detainee to torture, or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The administration could give all detainees a meaningful opportunity to challenge their detention before a neutral decisionmaker.

Such a change of course would dramatically improve our image and it would make us safer. I hope this administration will choose this course.

So do I, Senator Durbin, and thanks.

Apparently, James Taranto, Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax, WorldNetDaily, and all the shrill shills of the right believe that verbal, psychological, and physical abuse up to and sometimes including torture is absolutely consonant with American values. I believe torture is UN-American.

Why does the right hate America?

The Nation (Pakistan) : Osama Bin Laden is Alive and Well

The Nation

With all the money we've been spending in the last few years making the world safe from terrorism, you'd think the least we might have done is to catch Osama bin Laden.

Well, the problem is we started fighting this other war, that had nothing to do with bin Laden, and nothing to do with terrorism, and nothing to do with 9/11, and nothing to do with WMDs. And we apparently forgot entirely about Osama. And not only that, but we've let up enough pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan that they've been able to mount an increasingly effective insurgency in those countries.

And the spread of freedom and democracy in Afghanistan? A Taliban spokesman says "80 percent of the Afghan people are with us. They were not with us earlier, but having seen the U.S. atrocities and have come to know that America is our enemy."

Mission Accomplished...?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

African Debt Relief Hinges on Privatisation

G8 SUMMIT: Privatisation Hangs Over Debt Relief

Essentially, in order to be "forgiven" of debt (much of it accrued during transition from colonial to post-colonial days), 18 of the poorest countries in the world must put their resources and labor up for sale. Conditions necessary for a country to qualify for debt relief include "the elimination of impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign," and the institution of policies that "boost private sector development, and attract investment." That is to say, the promotion of unregulated, laissez faire, "free-market" capitalistic policies and the end of any vestiges of socialistic or quali-socialistic programs.

Developed nations will "guide" poorer nations toward "democracy" and "free market economics," under the auspices of the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

The late Roman Catholic Pontiff, Pope John Paul II, called debt canellation "a precondition for the poorest countries to make progress in their fight against poverty," and reminded us that "there is a "social mortgage" on all private property, a concept which today must also be applied to "intellectual property" and to "knowledge". The law of profit alone cannot be applied to that which is essential for the fight against hunger, disease and poverty."

Is there nothing this administration does that is not, in some way, connected to the spread of global "free-market" capitalism?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

U.S. Opposed Probe of Uzbek Killings

U.S. Opposed Calls at NATO for Probe of Uzbek Killings

Backing up Matt's post (yesterday), here's more on George W. Bush's ugly friendship with barbarous, tyrranical butcher, Uzbek President Islam Karimov.

Defense officials from Russia and the United States last week helped block a new demand for an international probe into the Uzbekistan government's shooting of hundreds of protesters last month, according to U.S. and diplomatic officials.

British and other European officials had pushed to include language calling for an independent investigation in a communique issued by defense ministers of NATO countries and Russia after a daylong meeting in Brussels on Thursday. But the joint communique merely stated that "issues of security and stability in Central Asia, including Uzbekistan," had been discussed.

When you lie down with dogs, Howie, you get up with fleas. Now, tell me that the Bush "war on terror" is not a sham....

Chavez Blames Bolivian Crisis On Bush, Free Market

Chavez Blames Bolivian Crisis On Bush and the Free Market

Chavez is the undisputed leader of the "New Axis of Evil."TM

In today's episode, he sends a love letter to George W. Bush.
What is the cause of what happened in Bolivia? Fidel? Chávez? No, it is Bush; everything that he represents is Capitalism. Lucky, the Bolivians have managed to open the door to a peaceful solution, but we were on the verge of a civil war.

Chavez tries to win Bush's heart by appealing to his core values.
Mr. George Bush has said once again, there in Florida (at the meeting last week of the Organization of American States) … that the salvation of the Latin America people is the free market. Get lost, because that is what it is killing the people of Latin America, that is what it is demolishing the cities of Latin America, that is what has generated the greatest inequality that has ever existed in history.

He appealed to Bush's sense of ethics.
He is like a doctor who, knowing that the medicine is poisoned and is killing people, continues to propose using it ... saying that the salvation for the people is the free market.

What with 6 in 10 Americans wanting to get out of a war they believe was "not worth it," 58% disapproving of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, and with a recruiting crisis in the military, along with a legitimate threat, created by the Bush administration itself, from North Korean loony Kim Jong Il--to say nothing of the re-energization of Al Qa'ida--the Bush administration and the PNAC must be in a state of near frantic frustration. Don't you think they'd just love send Chavez a Valentine?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Six More British Documents Leaked--Rice Implicated in Lie

Radio News America :: News - Six More British Documents Leaked. Rice Implicated in the lie now.

The British Government is leaking, right now, worse than the Titanic. It is a measure of how Iraq has split public opinion--and political opinion within "New Labor"--and damaged Tony Blair's once impeccable reputation.

Watch Raw Story for the rest.

• Memo from Christopher Meyer (UK Ambassador to US) to David Manning on Meyer's lunch with Wolfowitz, March 18, 2002

"On Iraq I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice last week. We backed regime change, but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option. It would be a tough sell for us domestically, and probably tougher elsewhere in Europe. The US could go it alone if it wanted to. But if it wanted to act with partners, there had to be a strategy for building support for military action against Saddam. I then went through the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors and the UN SCRs and the critical importance of the MEPP as an integral part of the anti-Saddam strategy. If all this could be accomplished skillfully, we were fairly confident that a number of countries would come on board."

SIGNIFICANCE: UN process was a sham for Blair's sake; aim was not disarmament but regime change, which had already been decided on.

"Liberal" New York Times Tries To Kill Downing Street Story

Think Progress � New York Times Tries To Kill Downing Street Story

Why do they hate America so much?

What a Friend We Have in Karimov

President Bush calls Uzbekistan's president Islam Karimov friend, after all he let the U.S. use an airforce base in his country to fight terrorism in Afghanistan. So we must turn a blind eye to the massacres, arrest, beatings and intimidation taking place in this country.

The Uzbekistan case pits one of President Bush's stated top priorities, demanding that dictators begin reforms that would defuse support for Islamic extremism, against one of his key military concerns, securing access to bases to support U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

Moreover, were Karimov to fall, he could be succeeded by a radical Islamic government that would be even less to U.S. liking, analysts said.

However, the United States is considering taking Uzbekistan to the United Nations for a human rights investigation, State Department officials said.

"We are considering all of our diplomatic options, including at the U.N.," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said last week.
I'm wondering if this kind of consorting with shady characters is what got us in to the mess we find ourselves in today.

Poll: Americans Want Troops to Begin Leaving Iraq - Poll: USA is losing patience on Iraq

The right-wing pundits will bemoan the "negativism" of the "liberal media." We've turned a corner. The insurgency is on the run. The Iraqi people are so much better off. Etc., etc., etc. But 6 in 10 Americans now want--at the very least--to begin to pull troops out.
Patience for the war has dropped sharply as optimism about the Iraqi elections in January has ebbed and violence against U.S. troops hasn't abated. For the first time, a majority would be "upset" if President Bush sent more troops. A new low, 36%, say troop levels should be maintained or increased.... "We have reached a tipping point," says Ronald Spector, a military historian at George Washington University. "Even some of those who thought it was a great idea to get rid of Saddam (Hussein) are saying, 'I want our troops home.' "...
• Of those who say the war wasn't worth it, the top reasons cited are fraudulent claims and no weapons of mass destruction found; the number of people killed and wounded; and the belief that Iraq posed no threat to the United States.
In other words, they realized they were lied to.
• Of the 42% who say the war was worth it, the top reasons cited are the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the need to stop terrorism and a desire to end the oppression of the Iraqi people.
In other words, they are still clinging desperately (are you listening, Howie?) to the lies.
White House spokesman David Almacy, asked about the poll, said it was "vital" for U.S. peace and security that "we complete the mission by training Iraqis to provide for their own security, and then our troops can return home with the honor they have earned."
Word is, unfortunately, that could take years...

Better make some room

It's a known fact that Hispanics form the nations largest minority group (half of them are under 27). But did you know (or notice) that one of every seven people in the United States is Hispanic? And, with continued immigration, this number is going to grow. And now, according to a Census Bureau report released last week, today's immigrant is younger--one of every five kids under age 18 in the United States is Hispanic.

Ain't no stoppin' us now...

Report Describes Immigrants as Younger and More Diverse
By JOHN FILES NY Times - June 10, 2005

Newly Leaked Brit Doc Outlines "Illegal" Regime Change

Cabinet Office paper: Conditions for military action - Sunday Times - Times Online

They knew they were doing something illegal, so they tried to create conditions to make it appear legal. They knew they were doing something neither the British nor the American public wanted, so they "fixed" intelligence to create a compelling case.

The UK Cabinet level document notes that "US military planning unambiguously takes as its objective the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime," and lists among its conditions necessary for British participation "the preparation of domestic opinion."

Without irony, the document states that "US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community" and acknowledges that invasion for the purpose of regime change "per se" is illegal, a clear indication that this was, in fact, the purpose of the invasion. But, it further notes,
regime change could result from action that is otherwise lawful. We would regard the use of force against Iraq, or any other state, as lawful if exercised in the right of individual or collective self-defence, if carried out to avert an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe, or authorised by the UN Security Council.
The document also notes the failure of exit-planning.
A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the US military plans are virtually silent on this point.
And, finally, the need for lies.
Time will be required to prepare public opinion in the UK that it is necessary to take military action against Saddam Hussein...This will need to give full coverage to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, including his WMD, and the legal justification for action.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Downing Street Memo is the Tip of the Iceberg

Ministers were told of need for Gulf war "excuse" - Sunday Times - Times Online

MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.

The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.

Impeachment? Bring it on.

Quote of the week #1

"The important thing here to understand is that the people that are at Guantanamo are bad people."

-Vice President Cheney

Are you refering to the prisoners or the guards Mr. Vice President?

Telegraph (UK) : An End to Mercenaries?

Telegraph News Shootings may lead to security guard curb

We relayed the story last week of a number of "contractors" (i.e., mercenaries) who were joyriding through Fallujah shooting up the town when they were arrested by US Marines. Iraq wants the mercenaries out. We, as American citizens, should want an end to mercenary armies too. Write your Congressional representative and Senator today and ask for legislation that reflects the Constitution (Article 2, section II, and the 2nd amendment) as regards armed forces.

The founders never imagined we would have corporate controlled armies fighting "for" the United States.

Associated Press : U.S. Military Toll in Iraq Crosses 1,700

U.S. Military Toll in Iraq Crosses 1,700 - Yahoo! News


For the love of God, people, stop this NOW!

They want us OUT to stop the insurgency. Fine. Let's get out now.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sign The People's Petition To Impeach The Bush Administration

The People's Petition To Impeach The Bush Administration

Click the link, make a statement.


Declassified CIA Documents : Posada Linked to 1976 Airline Bombing

New documents link Cuban militant Posada Carriles to airliner bombing: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Okay, folks. This is where the rubber meets the road. Is the Bush administration's committment to fight terrorism mere public posturing, or is it genuine?
Cuban militant exile Luis Posada Carriles said shortly before the deadly 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that he and others "are going to hit a Cuban airplane,'' according to a declassified CIA document released Thursday.
Posada was arrested May 17 in Miami and was charged two days later with illegally entering the country. Venezuela has demanded his extradition to stand trial for the October 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner, but the Bush administration has so far refused to extradite Posada. Posada, in all likelihood, has friends in high Washington places:
Posada was trained in Guatemala in 1961 by the CIA to participate in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. That training included explosives and weapons. He was in the U.S. Army from March 1963 to March 1964 in Fort Benning, Ga., rising to the rank of second lieutenant and commanding a Ranger weapons platoon...(He) was used as a CIA source on Cuban exile activities and worked in 1965 with a Miami-based group attempting to overthrow the Guatemalan government.
The Bush administration has been silent about Posada, and the mainstream media--not surprisingly--have not been pushing the issue. But there is no end to administration rhetoric about fighting terrorism. Wouldn't Posada's extradition to stand trial for a mass murder be evidence that the "war on terror" is not merely a "war-on-people-we-define-as-terrorists?"

Peter Kornbluh, director of the (National Security Archive's) Cuba Documentation Project, said the documents demonstrate the need for the CIA to declassify what it knows about Posada "as a concrete contribution to justice for those who have committed acts of terror.''

Is the Bush administration "war on terror" for real? If so, we'll extradite this terrorist.

US Marines Beat US Mercenaries in Iraq

Contractors say they were treated like insurgents

This is kind of interesting, and kind of frightening, on a couple of levels. First of all, listen to what Americans working in Iraq are saying about the experience of being held captive by US forces:

I never in my career have treated anybody so inhumane," one of the contractors, Rick Blanchard, a former Florida state trooper, wrote in an email quoted in the Los Angeles Times. "They treated us like insurgents, roughed us up, took photos, hazed [bullied] us, called us names."

It seems the "contractors" (i.e., mercenaries) were out driving in convoy near Fallujah when they fired warning shots in the air for the benfit of a nearby car. Marines claimed to have been fired on by a convoy of trucks and SUVs. It is unclear exactly what happened.

Which gets us to the second point: what exactly was going on between these mercenaries and the Marines? There seems some measurable animus between them. Were the mercenaries out for a "joy ride?" Shooting up the town for three hours? Did they, in fact, accidentally fire weapons toward a Marine patrol?

Mark Schopper, a lawyer for two of the contractors, told the newspaper that his clients, both former marines, were subjected to "physical and psychological abuse". He said they had told him that marines had "slammed around" several contractors, stripped them to their underwear and placed a loaded weapon near their heads.

"How does it feel to be a big, rich contractor now?" one of the marines is alleged to have shouted at the men, in an apparent reference to the large sums of money private contractors can make in Iraq.

Mercenaries make a lot more money than GIs, which is wrong in and of itself. Free-market economics should not extend to the American military. It creates resentment among our young men and women whoare fighting for their country, not for an "employer." And if they act out, is it so hard to understand? It's wrong, but is it so hard to understand?

Contractors also say they were treated badly in other ways. One man said a Marine put a knee to his neck and applied his full body weight as another cut his boots off and stripped him of his wedding ring and religious ornaments. Twenty or 30 other Marines watched and laughed, he added, as a uniformed woman with a military dog snapped photographs. Taunts were made about the large salaries of private security contractors, which are often more than $100,000 a year -- sometimes more than $200,000, he said.
This idea of having private armies (in point of fact, they're really corporate armies) is new to America, and very dangerous. Organized, lethal force should be regulated by the state, not by corporations. Someone should do something about this.

Isn't this all getting out of control?

Exxon/Mobil Helped Keep US Out of Kyoto Treaty

Guardian Unlimited Special reports Revealed: how oil giant influenced Bush

Is anyone surprised by this?
In briefing papers given before meetings to the US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky, between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what climate change policies the company might find acceptable.

In Bush's "America," money talks.

Until now Exxon has publicly maintained that it had no involvement in the US government's rejection of Kyoto. But the documents, obtained by Greenpeace under US freedom of information legislation, suggest this is not the case.

"Potus [president of the United States] rejected Kyoto in part based on input from you [the Global Climate Coalition]," says one briefing note before Ms Dobriansky's meeting with the GCC, the main anti-Kyoto US industry group, which was dominated by Exxon.

Benito Mussolini once said, "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism , since it is the merger of state and corporate power." In all the thin-skinned, self-righteous, right-wing defensiveness over the use of the term "fascist" to describe this administration, few people have brought up Mussolini's definition.

And he ought to know, right Howie?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

IN THE DARK Makes Little Green Footballs -- sort of

lgf: Wednesday Miscellaneous Links:

The bonehead who posted this comment can't even get my name right.

He also assumes I am a liberal, based on the fact that I worked for so many years for one of the biggest corporations and major defense contractors in the universe -- General Electric.


UN : 6,000 in US Prison Camps in Iraq

Top News Article

And speaking of due process...

In Iraq, "one of the major human rights challenges remains the detention of thousands of persons without due process," Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council...

"Despite the release of some detainees, their number continues to grow. Prolonged detention without access to lawyers and courts is prohibited under international law including during states of emergency," his report said.


Corruption in the "New Axis of Evil?"

International News Article

Maybe. Maybe not.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's government has been accused of corruption by the head of the Brazilian Labor Party, Roberto Jefferson. Lula has denied his government has bribed lawmakers to back some of its policies, and today Worker's Party Treasurer Delubio Soares said he would let lawmakers check the books--both his and his parties.

Could it be political?

The furor erupted on Monday when Labor Party head Roberto Jefferson, a government ally, accused the Workers' Party of paying some lawmakers in two alliance parties up to $12,000 a month to back its policies...

Jefferson is at the center of another corruption scandal involving graft at the state postal service and is likely to face great pressure to present evidence of his accusations after Soares' statements.

The lower chamber of Congress' ethics council launched a legal action against Jefferson on Wednesday to force him to present proof of his accusations. That action was requested by the head of the Liberal Party, one of the two parties in the government alliance that Jefferson said had received payments.

Stay tuned. Someone seems to be fomenting unrest....

In the meantime, keep an eye on Bolivia. They may be about to join the "New Axis of Evil."TM

Bush : US Could Close Gitmo

Bush Open to Possibly Closing Gitmo Camp - Yahoo! News

So do it, already. Bush's words come on the heels of Former President Jimmy Carter's criticisms of Gitmo and other US concentration camps around the world.
The U.S. continues to suffer terrible embarrassment and a blow to our reputation ... because of reports concerning abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

Some of the roughly 540 prisoners at the camp have been held for three years without ever having had charges filed against them. White House spokesman Scott McClellan defended the camp, calling the prisoners "dangerous."
They are enemy combatants for a reason — because they seek to do harm to the American people. And these are individuals that were picked up at the battlefield in the war on terrorism. This is part of winning the war on terrorism, going after and capturing or bringing to justice those who seek to do us harm.

Well, how about charging them, prosecuting them, and then imprisoning them if they're found guilty? It's a little thing we Americans call "due process of law."

Guardian (UK) : Report Attacks Labour Anti-Terror Laws

Guardian Unlimited The Guardian Report to attack Labour anti-terror laws:

As an Irishman, I can't say I'm terribly surprised at this. As an American in the age of Bush, I'm even less surprised.
The report is also likely to be highly critical of Britain's anti-terror legislation, which allowed the detention of foreign nationals without charge or trial in the wake of the September 11 attacks on America.

In the 1970's and 1980's, the British government in Northern Ireland instituted internment (the power to arrest and imprison suspected terrorists indefinitely, without due process), had non-jury tribunals (Diplock trials) for suspects who were actually charged with a crime, and instituted a shoot-on-sight policy, again, for suspected members of the IRA. Imagine this, if you can: the police officer or soldier becomes judge, jury, and executioner at once.

Americans of Irish descent: you knew this was wrong back then. It's still wrong today.

America : We Still Disapprove of Bush

Bush: Job Ratings

Another reality check on the state of the "mandate."

An ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 52% of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as President. For the first time in his presidency, more than half (51%) said they had an "unfavorable" view of the president.

61% say Bush and Republican leaders in Congress are not "making good progress on solving the nation's problems," and 67% blame Bush and the Republicans for the failure to make progress. 13% blame Democrats.

By a margin of 55% to 43%, more Americans see Bush as a divider rather than a uniter.

58% disapprove of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, and the same proportion say the war was "not worth fighting." 73% say the number of US casualties in Iraq is "unacceptable." 65% believe the US is "bogged down" in Iraq, and the same percentage believe the Bush administration has "no clear plan" to withdraw US troops.

52% believe the Iraq war has not made the world safer from the threat of terrorism.

World Spending on Weapons Surges

World military spending increases

And almost half of all the military spending in the world is the US's.
Led by the United States, which accounted for 47% of military expenditures, the world spent $1.035 trillion, equal to 2.6% of global gross domestic product, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.

Of course, war is good business. 40 of the top 100 weapons producers are American companies.
The top 100 makers of weapons increased their combined sales by 25% from 2002 to 2003, the report said. Those companies sold weapons and arms worth $236 billion worldwide in 2003, compared with $188 billion a year earlier. The United States accounted for 63% of arms sales in 2003, the report said.

Culture of life?

I think not.

Blair, Bush : We Didn't "Fix" the Intelligence

Blair, Bush deny 'fixing' Iraq prewar intelligence:

The blogging campaign to investigate the Downing Street Memo seems to be working:
Bush and Blair were asked about a memo that has drawn more attention on blogs than in the traditional media.
The two leaders, at this moment, are only slightly on the defensive. But the defense, to my ears, is pretty weak.

Asked about the memo at a brief news conference, the leaders noted that it preceded their decision to take their case against Saddam to the United Nations.

Although the U.N. Security Council refused to authorize military action, the two leaders said that in their view Saddam failed to comply with U.N. demands that he prove illegal weapons programs had been destroyed.

Americans: keep up the pressure! We deserve some answers. We deserve the TRUTH.

Bush White House Creates Alternate Reality

Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming - New York Times

This is how they do it, Howie. This is how they "tweak" reality to reflect their political agenda. A lawyer with no scientific training and a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, this guy rewrites scientific research to reflect administration policy. They "fix the intelligence" to suit the policy.
Each administration has a policy position on climate change. But I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program.

God help us.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Quote of the Week (#1)

Evil (ignorance) is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it. --Shakti Gawain

And Still Another E-mail to a Right-Wing Friend in NY

On my way into the city today (my kind of town, Chicago is), I passed a Baptist church with one of those message boards out front, the kind used to "advertize" the pastor's sermon for the week. It said, "It is better to fail doing the right thing, than to succeed doing the wrong thing."

It made me think about our ongoing discussions. The US is both doing the wrong thing right now, and failing at it. And in both cases, the people most supportive refuse to acknowledge the reality that I see. For instance, you remain convinced that the US is doing the right thing now, even though the Bushies NEVER said the invasion was about democracy, but actually said it was about WMDs (there were none), haven for terrorists (it wasn't, but now is), and ties to Al Qa'ida (there weren't but now are). There's also been very little movement--if any--towards democracy.

You also believe that we're "winning" this thing, and I can't figure out how you righties measure this. There's more terrorism now in Iraq than under Saddam. Al Qa'ida has a strong foothold in the country. Thousands of Americans are dead, tens of thousands wounded, and a hundred thousand Iraqis dead. The result of this "liberation" is shaping up to be an Islamic theocratic republic, and Sharia law is taking hold. Iraq has become a way station for drug trafficking. We are trampling on human rights, and our illegal POW camps are lawless. We are hated around the world. We are more of a target for terror than before. Even our allies are only begrudgingly friendly to us. And the insurgency is getting stronger.

You call this winning?

I'd rather fail speaking the truth than support lies and liars who claim to be "winning."

"Mandate" Reality Check, Part III

Post-ABC Poll: Bush Ignoring Public Concerns

For earlier polls, see here and here.

Far from supporting the specious proposition that Bush enjoys a "mandate" in his second term, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll indicates that Americans are having second thoughts about Bush's "leadership," and believe that he is motivated by something other than the public's interest.

According to the poll, nearly eight in 10 Democrats say Bush is not concentrating on issues they personally view as vital while three out of four Republicans disagree.

Ominously for Bush and the Republicans, a strong majority of self-described political independents--68 percent--say they disagreed with the president's priorities. That suggests Bush's mixed record in the second term on issues the public views as critical--particularly on Iraq and the economy--may be as much a liability for GOP candidates in next year's mid-term election as his performance in his first term was an asset to Republican congressional hopefuls last year and in 2002.

Can you say "lame duck?"
Currently 52 percent of the public disapproves of the job Bush is doing as president, the highest negative rating of his performance since taking office.

Listen: let's just impeach him now and get it over with.

Wake up and smell the cafe

Now people are renting their Social Security numbers? I must admit, I've never heard of that. But I guess it beats buying a fake social security card from someone on the corner (and those can cost a lot of money). Plus, working with a name linked to a number recognized by Social Security - even if it is just borrowed or leased - avoids problems (like getting fired).

According to the New York Times, each year, Social Security receives millions of W-2 earning statements with names or numbers that do not match its records. Nine million were reported in 2002, many of them just simple mistakes. In response the agency sends hundreds of thousands of letters asking employers to correct the information.

"It's the safest way," said Mario Avalos, a Stockton accountant who every year does tax returns for dozens of illegal immigrants. "If you are going to work in a company with strict requirements, you know they won't let you in without good papers."

Once again, people are doing whatever they can to work in the United States. And why?

Is Mexican President Vicente Fox doing anything about this?!?! Seems to me that the higher ups in Mexico need to wake up and smell the cafe.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Al Qa'ida Uses Gitmo as a Recrtuiing Tool

The Independent (UK) On-Line
Senior Democrats are calling for the closure of America's detention centre in Guantanamo, Cuba, saying it has become a "propaganda and recruitment tool" for terrorists in the wake of continued allegations of prisoner abuse.

I should think so.
The White House spent the weekend trying to play down a Pentagon report confirming instances of abuse of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, at the camp in Guantanamo, chastising the media and placing the blame on a few rogue US guards acting in disregard of American policy.

It's those "few bad eggs" again.
Blaming lower-ranking soldiers was also the strategy at the outbreak of the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Which was, of course, an isolated incident.
Conditions at Guantanamo, where suspects are held without charge and without access to legal representation, are rapidly becoming a public relations nightmare for the White House. Last week, Amnesty International likened the high-security facility to the Gulag, prompting a swift response from President George Bush. He called the characterisation "absurd".

Amnesty International says the US is running a new set of gulags. George W. Bush is the President of the United States. Which of these statements is the most absurd?