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.
Image hosted by
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."
Image hosted by
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.
Image hosted by
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.
Image hosted by
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.
Image hosted by
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.
Image hosted by
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.
Image hosted by
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?

Image hosted by

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

"Give 'Em Hell" Harry Reid Pushes GOP Buttons

I wish I could have been a fly on THAT wall...
Democrats forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session Tuesday, demanding answers about intelligence that led to the Iraq war....Reid demanded the Senate go into closed session. With a second by Sen. Dick Durbin,
D-Ill., the public was ordered out of the chamber, the lights were dimmed, senators filed to their seats on the floor and the doors were closed. No vote is required in such circumstances.

Not surprisingly, the GOP made light of it all.
Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Reid was making "some sort of stink about Scooter Libby and the CIA leak."

Don't back down, Harry. America wants the TRUTH.

Bush's Nightmare : Indigenous Leftist Leads Bolivian Presidential Polls

Reuters AlertNet - Bush's Nightmare : Indigenous Leftist Leads Bolivian Presidential Polls

Opinion polls show Evo Morales, a leftist Congressman and former coca farmer, leading all other candidates in proposed Bolivian Presidential elections. The polls show support not just among poorer classes, but also growing within the middle class.

Morales has proposed nationalizing the oil and natural gas industries, as well as industries based on other natural resources, and tightly regulating Bolivia's--until now--free-market economic policies.

I have contended that the new leftist face of Lating America--Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela--constitute (in the eyes of the Bush administration) a "New Axis of Evil" TM and that we are likely to begin to see an active campaign to paint these "social democracies" as "communist" or "terrorist."

And--in no way connected, I'm sure, to this story--we now learn the elections have been postponed. The largely right-wing state of Santa Cruz, seeking to gain more electoral votes (think Tom DeLay in Texas, or Arnold Schwarznegger in California) has forced a postponement of the scheduled December 4 Presidential Election. This could mean trouble.

Bush Faces The "New Axis of Evil"

George W. Bush heads out of the country this weekend (not a bad idea, all things considered) to attend the "Summit of the Americas" in Mar del Plata, Argentina. This was supposed to be the the occasion of theBush administration's completion of negotiations leading to the so-called "Free Trade Area of the Americas." It promises to be, in one observer's opinion, "a train wreck:"

Latin Americans, rich and poor, today condemn the Bush administration's aggressive unilateralism and its disregard for international institutions and norms. A recent Zogby poll of Latin America's elites revealed that 86 percent of them disagree with the Washington's management of world conflict. Anti-Americanism is resurgent in every country of the region. The United States is viewed as indifferent and unresponsive to Latin America -- in a period when many of the region's economies are stumbling, and political and social tensions are worsening. For its part, Washington has been mostly disappointed by developments in Latin America, particularly by the region's vehement opposition to U.S. international policies.
Latin America has, in the last decade or so, moved away from the right-wing military dictatorships of the past and has embraced elective, representative democracy. The net effect of these moves, however, has been to increase the distance between Latin America and the America of George W. Bush.

Alan Clendenning, Associated Press:

Most Latin American governments opposed the [Iraq] war, and only Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic overrode protesting publics to send troops or police to Iraq. The 380 Salvadorans are the only ones still there.
Security will be tight. Today, riots erupted in Mar del Plata, just days before the Summit is to begin.

Former Argentine soccer superstar Diego Maradona will lead an anti-Bush march when the President arrives in Argentina on Friday.
"I cannot accept the fact he will set foot on Argentine land,'' Maradona, 44, said on a television show in Cuba where he met with Cuba's President Fidel Castro Oct. 27. "He disdains us and tramples over us and yet we have to kowtow to him.''
Meanwhile, as Bush meets with leaders of 33 American nations (including those of the "New Axis of Evil"TM) Friday and Saturday, a separate “People’s Summit” will be held nearby, bringing together anti-war activists, socialists, students, indigenous leaders and union leaders.
"We think his policies are totally contrary to what we want for Latin America and are promoting genocide, domination of workers and their communities and the plundering of natural resources," said Argentine labor leader Juan Gonzalez, who is heading the "People's Summit" coinciding with Bush's visit Thursday through Saturday.