Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Need a driving certificate? Go to Tennessee!

People are taking bribes---and if you thought Chicago, you're wrong. This stuff is happening in Tennessee.

In July 2004, Tennessee was the first state to offer this driving certificate for illegal immigrants (created in 2004 to satisfy homeland security concerns while allowing illegal immigrants to drive with certified proficiency).

And even though it's not valid as a form of identification, people are paying hundreds of dollars on the black market and traveling hundreds of miles to get one.

According to the AP, two major federal arrests in recent months exposed shuttles bringing South and Central American immigrants from as far away as New Jersey to state licensing centers in Knoxville, where the immigrants got certificates using fake residency papers.

It also reported that, last week, a third sweep revealed an alleged conspiracy in which prosecutors say state license examiners in Murfreesboro, outside Nashville, accepted bribes to provide illegal immigrants with driver's licenses and certificates without testing.

The disclosures come as Tennessee's certificate system is being studied as a possible model for handling "non-conforming drivers" under the Real ID program recently enacted by Congress that will set a national standard for driver's licenses by 2008.

Lawyer Mike Whalen, who represents a woman accused of bringing as many as 100 immigrants from New Jersey to Knoxville for certificates, said the government is making too much of the problem. His client represented workers, not terrorists, he said.

"Somebody went through the roof and said, 'Remember 9-11, every one had driver's
licenses,'" he said. "Well, none of these Mexican immigrants are in flight
school anywhere. There is a difference."

Just a thought

The first Republican primary for Illinois governor was held on Jan. 25 in Naperville, Ill.

When illegal immigration came up, State Sen. Brady (Bloomington) said he largely agreed with Businessman Jim Oberweis but not to the point of "rounding them up in your helicopter and dropping them in Soldier Field" — a reference to a harsh television commercial Oberweis used two years ago when running for the U.S. Senate.

I forgot all about that stupid commercial. Luckily, I don't buy Oberweis milk or ice cream. (And if I did, I would have stopped two years ago.)

America to Congress : GOP OUT!!!

Election 2006

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that Americans want the next Congress to be controlled by Democrats by a margin of nearly 10 points (47%-38% with 15% undecided). Last week's ABC News/Washington Post poll showed a more than fifteen point margin (54% to 38%).

The NBC/WSJ poll also indicates that most Americans are not satisfied with the direction in which the country is moving. While 31% said the US is moving in the "right direction," 57% said we are on the "wrong track." A Time magazine poll from last week was even worse--63% of respondents said the United States is on the "wrong track."

As he heads into tonight's State of the Union address, President George W. Bush's job approval rating stands at an anemic 39%, according to NBC/WSJ. 54% disapprove of the job he is doing as President.

60% of Americans are unhappy with the President's handling of the war in Iraq, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Only 39% think he's handling the war well. In the same poll, respondents said they trusted Democrats more than Republicans to do a better job handling the war by a margin of 47% to 40%.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Quote(s) of the Week (#2)

To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage. --Confucius

When the president does it, that means it is not illegal. --Richard Nixon

Thursday, January 26, 2006

No more maps

This just in.

And remember - Mexican officials say it's not because the United States complained so much (yeah, right). But a spokesman for Mexico's Human Rights Commission said its plan to distribute maps to migrants wanting to enter the United States illegally has been axed. And the decision to cancel the program was made out of concerns that anti-immigrant groups would learn where migrants likely would gather.

Sounds a little fishy to me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Quote of the Week (#1)

"A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." -- Marshall McLuhan

Lend 'em your ear

Boy. The Virginia General Assembly can't stand immigrants, huh? According to an article in today's Washington Post, it's proposing a number of bills that target illegal immigrants.

Here are some in the House:
HB 892 Would prohibit admission of illegal immigrants to public colleges and universities; HB 1050 Illegal immigrants would be ineligible for any post-secondary educational benefit, including in-state tuition.

Here are some in the Senate:
SB 629 A business could sue another business in the same field for economic damages if the second business employed people it knew or should have known were illegal immigrants; SB 677 Illegal immigrants would be barred from receiving in-state tuition at public institutions.

Instead of shutting the immigrants out, the Virginia General Assembly needs to understand why they're coming to the United States. Help 'em out! Listen to them! Geez.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The 'iron curtain' along the U.S./Mexico border

The National Alliance for Human Rights, "a network of individuals and organizations committed to the promotion of human rights, social justice, and political empowerment," held an emergency meeting in San Bernardino, Calif., recently. The meeting’s agenda focused "on strategically formulating a Mexicano/Latino coordinated response to the pending federal and state immigration legislation being considered in Washington and Sacramento and on the escalating nativist attacks on the Mexicano/Latino communities."

“Understanding the horrific anti-immigrant political climate rampant throughout the country and the severity of the consequences of the racist (Rep. James) Sensenbrenner legislation, in particular the building of an Iron Curtain along the U.S./Mexico border, Mexicanos and Latinos in this country are under a state of siege reminiscent of the McCarthy Era, the difference being that the Bush Administration and nativist Republicans are targeting not communists, but us as their targets of persecution,” Armando Navarro, NAHR coordinator, said.

Warning posters = 'source of dependable information'

This poster was released by the Humane Borders group today--and some people aren't happy about it.

"What's next? Are they going to buy them bus tickets to Chicago?" said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank. "It's clearly a bad thing for Mexico to be encouraging illegal immigration."

According to the Humane Borders' blog, it "offers humanitarian assistance to those in need through more than 70 emergency water stations on and near the U.S.-Mexican border." This morning, Humane Borders Inc. and Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights announced a "joint migrant safety education project" at a press conference in Mexico City.

And this was on a Humane Borders Jan. 19 press release: "The need for dependable information is urgent. On January 11, more than 1,800 migrants passed through the El Tortugo checkpoint, approximately 21 miles south of Sasabe, Arizona. This is alarming because it is both early in the annual migration and the numbers are higher than in any previous year. The percentage of migrants who are women and children is also increasing."

The map shows migrant deaths (as red dots) on the Arizona desert and warns that crossing through the desert is extremely dangerous. Mexico's National Commisision for Human Rights has agreed to print and distribute these warning posters and maps as a way of informing migrants of the actual dangers in the desert and as a way of assisting migrants in making responsible decisions.

"We are not trying in any way to encourage or promote migration," said Mauricio Farah, one of the commission's national inspectors. "The only thing we are trying to do is warn them of the risks they face and where to get water, so they don't die."

Farah also said migration "is a human right" and that "the United States should be grateful" the commission is doing something to curb the death toll, because "hundreds of thousands of Mexicans help maintain their economy."

And, according to the Associated Press, Mexicans working in the United States are a huge source of revenue for Mexico, sending home more than $16 billion in 2004, Mexico's second largest source of foreign currency after oil exports according to the country's central bank.

Amen to that! No wonder Mexican President Vicente Fox isn't doing anything about immigration. It's keeping his country rich!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Pakistani PM Aziz : Reports US Missile Attack Killed al Qa'ida VIPs "Bizarre"

Okay. So, we fire some missiles, we kill some innocent civilians, we tell the world media that we "got the bad guys," and no one is any the wiser, right?

Mission Accomplished.

Oh, how I long for the "good old days" when a scenario such as this could be seen only as nonsense.

Day laborers = human beings

Finally-- the first nationwide study of day laborers!

A study just released, ''On The Corner: Day Labor in the United States,'' by professors from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of California, Los Angeles, and New York's New School University, state that the immigrant day laborers who wait for work on street corners across the United States have families and attend church regularly, and the people who hire them are more likely to be individual homeowners than construction contractors. The study also found that one in five has been injured on the job and nearly half have been cheated out of pay.

These day laborers are human beings with families. Three-fourths are here illegally and 59 percent are from Mexico.

And 100 percent of them should be protected. They shouldn't be taken advantage of. Ever.

Who's going to fight for their rights? The day laborers probably aren't because they're afraid.

Who's going to step up to the plate here? Congress gets paid a lot of money, right? Hopefully Congress will get their hands on this study and start doing some work with it.

Study shows day laborers with deeper roots here than expected
Associated Press - January 23, 2006

Morales Sworn in as Bolivian President : "We Are Here to Change History"

Evo Morales's inaugural speech as Bolivia's first President of indigenous origin confirms his "New Axis of Evil"TM credentials:
"It is not right to concentrate capital in the hands of a few while the poor die of hunger," a fist-clenching Morales declared to wild cheers during his inauguration speech before Bolivia's Congress. "... We don't want Bolivia and its economic resources held hostage by the United States or Europe."
Rather than using soft, diplomatic tones as a gesture to reach out to the US Presidential administration of George W. Bush, Morales expressed his views bluntly, clearly, and publicly.

"I am convinced that only with the strength of the people and the unity of the people will we end the colonial model, the neo-liberal model," Mr Morales told the ssembled crowds, all dressed in indigenous costume.

The "colonial" and "neo-liberal" models are embodied by the US, which the new president has repeatedly referred to as the "imperial power".

You can almost hear the alarms going off in the White House, and the hallowed halls of the Project for a New American Century.

Morales, 46, alarmed the wealthy, largely white elite in Bolivia and raised hackles in Washington with his promise to nationalize the country's natural gas reserves, which are the second-largest in South America.

But the promise won him widespread support in a country where about half the population is considered to live in extreme poverty.

Fasten your seatbelts; we're in for a bumpy ride...

Not Just the NSA : Pentagon Spying on Anti-War Activists

Howie has sworn to me that if the Bush administration is doing more than monitoring legitimate terrorist targets, and is deliberately spying on innocent US citizens, that he would (FINALLY) be outraged. "Hang the Basta--!" is what I believe he said (correct me if I'm wrong, Howie).

Well, Howie, like the rest of the right, has more ways of wriggling out of tight corners than Houdini, so I'm not sure that this will impress him, but Michael Isikoff reports in this week's Newsweek that the Pentagon has its own program of domestic spying that is looking at people who could be characterized as nothing more than opponents of the Bush administration.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Personal Responsibility vs. Social Responsibility

I believe in personal responsibility. As an American, it is difficult not to believe in personal responsibility. What does it mean, though, when we talk about “personal responsibility?” Unfortunately, I think the phrase means different things to different people. Sometimes people use the words “personal responsibility” in a way that is, well, irresponsible. And that’s a shame.

To me, the idea of being personally responsible means making a deeply personal commitment not to be irresponsible, to “do the right thing” at all times. That means not only “fessing up” when things go wrong through your own fault; it means taking responsibility before the fact to make sure things go as well as they possibly can. It means taking reasonable precautions and being diligent in your oversight.

For many people, though, personal responsibility means saying. “Yeah, I confess. I did it,” only when they are caught in some act of malfeasance. It means publicly “reforming” a thoroughly corrupt system through meaningless half measures, the “sackcloth and ashes” of public contrition. Those things are okay, to a point, if done in good faith. Personal responsibility, however, certainly ought to mean avoiding wrongdoing (and, to the extent humanly possible, the appearance of wrongdoing) in the first place.

In the last generation, the Republican Party has been successful (literally, unbelievably successful) at selling themselves as “the party of personal responsibility.” In fact, the GOP has made a fetish of personal responsibility, and we, the people of the United States, have been affected—negatively—in two ways. First, the “fetish-ization” of personal responsibility has made us particularly touchy about being taken in by those who are personally irresponsible, to the extent that we cast a cold eye on anyone who, say, needs assistance from the government.

Ronald Reagan invented—out of whole cloth—the myth of the welfare queen driving to the welfare office in her welfare Cadillac. Of course, it was all nonsense, and racist nonsense at that. Yet the story became part of the mythic foundation of welfare “reform” (i.e., welfare removal), and we Americans were spared the guilt of refusing to care for the weakest and poorest among us by seeing them as lazy and shiftless.

The personal responsibility fetish continued into the 1990’s with Newt Gingrich’s—and the GOP’s—“Contract with America,” (also known as the “contract on America”). One piece of the Contract was titled, without a hint of subtlety, the “Personal Responsibility Act” of 1995. This act denies welfare to mothers under 18 years of age, denies additional aid for dependent children (AFDC) for women who have children while on welfare, and stops all AFDC payments after five years. Take that, irresponsible poor people!

Was some sort of welfare reform necessary? Perhaps. But one could just as correctly argue that reform of corporate tax laws is equally necessary. Fighting waste in the defense budget is equally necessary. And it would not be unfair to argue, especially today, that convincing American corporate CEOs that making over 400 times the salary of the average worker (according to Business Week) may be unjust is an equally pressing issue. Making a fetish of personal responsibility makes it easy to see only irresponsibility on a personal level.

The second problem with this fetish is that our obsessive attention to personal responsibility blinds us to the fact that we all share—citizens, government, and industry—a social responsibility. We are all responsible for one another. We have lost sight, perhaps, of the truth that we are all citizens in a democracy, not merely consumers in a market.

We Americans—as consumers in a marketplace—are so concerned with getting the top value for our dollar. We’re concerned with not being cheated or taken advantage of, being treated courteously in the marketplace, and getting our fair share of the “American dream.” And that’s fine. But we sometimes forget that 35 million Americans get very little value for their dollar, because they are living below the poverty level. We forget that an American is three times as likely to be unemployed if he is black rather than white. We forget that if you are gay or lesbian you are more worried about being the victim of a violent assault than you are of being treated discourteously in public. And we don’t seem to notice that for those without health insurance or dependent on Medicaid, access to even the most basic health care is getting more and more difficult.

One can argue, I’m sure, whether the very idea of social responsibility is or is not an implicit part of democracy. We certainly praise the young men and women in our armed forces—and rightly so—for risking and giving their lives for the freedom of others. But when we look at social responsibility through the lens of capitalism, at least the unregulated, laissez faire, “free-market” form of capitalism that has descended upon us in the last generation, it’s hard to see where social responsibility fits in.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Not so very long ago, Americans lived by those words. We can again, if we choose to.

Friday, January 20, 2006

'Dellios for president!'

Kudos to this Tribune reporter that said this: "In my four years of reporting from Mexico, it has been difficult to reconcile this notion of criminality with many of the undocumented immigrants I've met."

Hugh Dellios, Tribune foreign correspondent, wrote this in a January 15, 2006 article "Immigration will test Mexico---and the U.S."

Dellios also wrote that "most Mexicans are outraged when Americans equate Mexican laborers with border threats such as rock-throwing smugglers, murdering drug traffickers and terrorists. But even some reform advocates believe the two issues may have to be dealt with simultaneously to fix an immigration policy they say promotes criminality and border threats."

I'm making my sign now: Dellios for president!!

Poor, Poor Mexicans

So Mexican immigrants are a theat? Give me a break.

The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Antonio Garza, issued a five-page statement defending tough Mexican border measures. Oh yeah--and he's also a former official from Texas and a friend of President Bush. Why doesn't that surprise me?

"There is no human right to enter another country in violation of its laws," Garza wrote. "Illegal immigration is a threat to our system of laws and an affront to the millions around the world, including in Mexico, who play by the rules in seeking to come to the United States."

According to an article in the Jan. 16 Tribune, this letter was the first response by U.S. officials in Mexico to a crescendo of attacks on proposed security legislation passed by the U.S. House in December. The legislation would provide $2.2 billion to build 700 more miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, make illegal immigration a felony and enable U.S. soldiers and police to enforce immigration laws. Mexican President Vicente Fox has called the legislation "shameful."

Mexican officials insist it would make the border more dangerous without stopping the crossing of determined immigrants who know that plenty of jobs are waiting for them on the U.S. side. The U.S. Senate is scheduled to debate the legislation in February, along with proposals to create a guest-worker program to allow more immigrant job-seekers to enter the U.S. legally. The House legislation did not include those proposals.

And I said this before--why do Mexicans come to the United States anyway? For better jobs. Maybe in July, when Mexico gets a new president, the poor (and I do mean poor) people over there can finally get some help.

Soon, No More Fox

Mexican President Vicente Fox can't run for re-election this July. But there are three top candidates: Lopez Obrador, 52, a former PRI-ista who later joined the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party and led anti-government demonstrations on the oil platforms of his native Tabasco state. He was also mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005 (with an 80 percent approval rating).

Felipe Calderon, 43, is a lawyer with a master's degree from Harvard University and served as his party's president at the age of 34. He was the Fox appointee in charge of pushing the president's reforms to Mexico's outdated energy sector, which ultimately stalled, but supporters say he would be a better deal-broker than Fox.

Roberto Madrazo, 53, is an avid marathoner and son of a PRI stalwart. He defeated Lopez Obrador in a bitter, protest-marred contest to be Tabasco state governor in 1994, so this year's race has elements of a personal feud.

Two other candidates from far smaller parties are in the race. One is Patricia Mercado, a feminist running with the Alternative Party, and the other is Roberto Campa, a former PRI leader running with the New Alliance Party.

Who can fill Fox's botas? Will we finally see an immigration fix? Stay tuned.

(Source: "Reform, stability vie in Mexican race - Disappointment with Fox may feed desire for order, not change" by Hugh Dellios, Tribune foreign correspondent. Published January 19, 2006.)

Not the Answer

A recent letter to the editor by Omar Duque, vice president for communications at the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says that the new H.R. 4437 (the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act) in the U.S. House "is a step in the wrong direction."

I agree that the "H.R. 4437 focuses solely on the enforcement side of immigration and calls for a mandatory program for all businesses to verify the legal status of their employees."

So what happened to the guest worker program? This bill isn't the immigration answer we were looking for. I think it's time to go back to the drawing board!

Conyers, Seven Other Dems, Sponsor Impeachment Investigation Bill

HR 635 is elegantly titled:
"Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment."
I hope it's a best seller.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Purported Bin Laden Tape : New Attacks on US "Just a Matter of Time"

I've linked to al Jazeera's story on the bin Laden tape not because of any preference, but because, in the absence so far of any complete transcript on the web, al Jazeera included the most comprehensive coverage of bin Laden's message.

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A couple of points need to be made. On the tape, the voice purported to be bin Laden's says:

The new operations of al-Qaida has not happened not because we could not penetrate the security measures. It is being prepared and you'll see it in your homeland very soon.
The right has been pretty adamant that "there have been no new attacks on US soil since 9/11," meaning, of course, that we have been spared by surrendering some of our Constitutional rights, by surrendering, essentially, our American values. Dick Cheney has said more or less the same thing in his defense of the Patriot Act and illegal domestic spying.

Obviously no one can guarantee that we won't be hit again. But neither should anyone say that the relative safety of the last four years came as an accident. America has been protected not by luck, but by sensible policy decisions, by decisive action at home and abroad and by round-the-clock efforts on the part of people in law enforcement, intelligence, the military and homeland security.
Or maybe not.

Frightened and sobered by both the 9/11 attacks and the Bush administration's shameless exploitation of those attacks (Don't think so? Check this out. Has the memory faded so quickly?), most Americans forget that it was more than eight years between the first al Qa'ida attack on American soil (February 26, 1993 truck bomb at the World Trade Center) and the second (September 11, 2001). These people are not in a hurry.

I don't believe for a second that we have not been attacked because of the vigilance and efficiency of the Bush administration. We will be attacked again, no question in my mind. And we will be attacked at least in part because of the Bush administration's--and the PNAC's) lying and fumbling Iraqi policy.

Bin Laden said:

The war in Iraq is raging and the operations in Afghanistan are increasing.
I don't know how anyone can argue this point. A year ago, the CIA published a little-noted report outlining how Iraq, as a result of our invasion and occupation, had become a breeding ground and training camp for terrorists. I posted about it here. Last April, the US State Department published a report showing that global terrorism is on the rise. Human Rights Watch has made a similar point to these in its 2006 Annual Report. The rights group argues that abusive interrogation techniques (i.e., torture) actually weakens rather than aids the war on terror.

The Bush administration has responded to HRW, predictably, by charging that the group has a "political agenda" (yeah, they do, and it's in their name: HUMAN RIGHTS).

On March 13, 2002, Bush made the following remarks in a White House press conference:

Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I --I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.
Well, you've heard from him now, Mr. President. You've heard from every bit as clearly as you did in your August 6, 2001 Presidential daily briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US." You ignored him then. Will you ignore him now?

I can't express strongly enough how really angry I am that bin Laden is still free and able to make the threats against the US that he is making. Why is this man free? Convince me that the strongest, most technologically developed country in the world cannot find and capture him. Convince me, Howie. Convince me that it has nothing to do with keeping Pervez Musharraf, a tyrant every bit as corrupt and brutal as Saddam Hussein, in power in Pakistan. Convince me that Osama bin Laden's apparently charmed life has no connection to his early ties, and perhaps continuing ties, to the CIA, as well as to Musharraf's spy agency, the ISI.

I just want to know why we "can't" capture bin Laden.

Sham "War on Terror" and the "Liberal Media" : Why Aren't We Hearing About Terrorist Posada?

Just asking. Click the link to read earlier posts for background.

But, honestly, if this "war on terror" is real, why aren't we extraditing this guy? Or is it just a war on some types of terror and not others?

Pentagon Worried About Chavez

An Update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

From El Universal.com via Watching America, a Venezuelan op-ed piece that describes just how seriously the Pentagon is taking Hugo Chavez.
...(The) Pentagon's position confirms information given out by Washington Post Military analyst William M. Arkin, that Venezuela looms as a "potential military threat" in a new "axis of evil" made up of Iran, China, Syria, and North Korea.
The reference is to a piece by Arkin in the Washington Post last November.

The Pentagon has begun contingency planning for potential military conflict with Venezuela as part of a broad post-Iraq evaluation of strategic threats to the United States.

The planning has been precipitated by general and specific directives issued by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his civilian policy assistants.
Military sources ascribe Venezuela's emergence on a list of actual military threats as a reflection of an important post 9/11 war reality: The events themselves of September 11 provide justification -- and perceived need -- to take risks in thinking about unanticipated threats. "The Global War on Terror is rightfully our near-term focus, but we certainly don’t want to be caught flat-footed by a series of other possibilities," says one Defense Department planning document.

In other words, 9/11 provided suitable cover for some of the policy initiatives of the Project for a New American Century (like an invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the use of a pre-emptive first strike), but the PNAC and the Bush administration (if that is not redundant) will not think twice about military intervention, even if the threat of terrorism is absent.

You heard it here first, folks. Over a year ago.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Quote of the Week (#1)

"It is the weak and confused who worship the pseudosimplicities of brutal directness." --Marshall McLuhan

2002 State Dept Memo : Niger Sale of Uranium to Iraq "Unlikely"

From the "better late than never" department, the New York Times reports that a secret memo, recently declassified by the State Department, shows that State Department intelligence analysts found it "unlikely" that Niger ever sold yellowcake uranium to Iraq, nearly a year before George W. Bush made that claim in his 2003 State of the Union address before Congress.

The White House has since claimed, of course, that the charge was based on "faulty intelligence," and acknowledged it shouldn't have been included in the speech.

In a (perhaps) related story, Raw Story reports today that neo-con and Bush consultant Michael Ledeen was working for the Italian magazine Panorama at the time when one of its reporters, Elisabetta Burba, was given documents--later found to be forged by an Italian Intelligence agent--that made the original claim about Niger's supposed yellowcake sales to Iraq.


Howie thinks so.

Did Bolivian Military Transfer Missiles to the US Out of Fear of Morales Victory?

Bolivia's Defense Chiefs Ousted in Missile Scandal

In the run-up to last month's Presidential election, Bolivia transferred 28-30 Chinese HN-5 shoulder-launched missiles to the United States to be destroyed. These were the only missiles of their kind in the Bolivian arsenal.

Gen. Marcelo Antezana, the commander in chief of the Bolivian Army, told reporters recently that Washington had asked for the destruction of the missiles out of fear of a Morales victory. He has since retracted that statement. Out-going President Eduardo Rodriguez claims to have authorized the destruction of the missiles, but not their transfer to the US. Rodriguez yesterday accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Gonzalo Mendez, and fired Gen. Marcelo Antezana over the "irregularities" surrounding the transfer and destruction of the missiles.

President-elect Evo Morales accused Rodriguez of "putting Bolivia under foreign domination."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Al Gore Hits a Nerve

Al Gore's speech yesterday, sponsored by the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy and the Liberty Coalition, seems to have touched a very raw nerve on the right.

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The speech, delivered at the Daughters of the American Revolution Hall in Washington, DC, and ignored by the "liberal media" (where DO you get these crazy ideas, Howie?), was greeted with thunderous applause from both Democrats and Republicans (unlike Bush, Gore invites bi-partisan audiences) when he called for a special prosecutor to investigate the President's "repeated and persistent" breaking of the law.

The defenders of torture, however, take offense.

From the National Review Online, Byron York tells of Al Gore's Mad Messsage.

ABC News notes that the White House Accuses Gore of Hypocrisy.

The American Thinker (oh, puh-LEASE!!!) had the audacity to claim that Al Gore dishonors Dr. King's memory, as though the great Christian non-violent civil rights and peace activist would NOT have said the same thing as Al Gore.

NewsMax.com published--almost verbatim--the RNC's inaccuracy-plagued (how's that for a tortured euphemism?) press release under the pathetic title, GOP Hits Back at Al Gore on Wiretapping.

I've said it before, I'm saying it again: Re-elect Al Gore in 2008!!!

ACLU Sues NSA, Center for Constitutional Rights Sues Bush Over Illegal Wiretaps

US News Article Reuters.com

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed seperate lawsuits in Federal Courts today challenging the legality of President Bush's use of wiretaps, without court authorization, in the so-called "war on terror." Both groups demand an end to the practice, contending it is illegal and violates Americans' Constitutional rights.

The ACLU suit names NSA Director Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander as a defendant. The CCR suit names George W. Bush and the heads of a number of security agencies.

Chileans Close the Door on Torture-filled Past; Peru Next for "New Axis of Evil?"

An Update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

A 54-year-old single mother who was tortured under the brutal reign of Gen. Augusto Pinochet is the new President of Chile. She is also a Socialist.

Michelle Bachelet won easily (53.5%-46.5%) over her opponent, millionaire businessman Sebastian Piñera in a run-off this weekend. She had beaten all opponents in an earlier election last month, but failed to win 50% of the vote thereby forcing the run-off.

Bachelet is the daughter of an air force General who was tortured by Pinochet--and later died in prison--for his opposition to the military coup in 1973 that ended the rule of Socialist President Salvador Allende and put Pinochet in power as a dictator. Bachelet was herself imprisoned and tortured under the Pinochet regime.

If Chile can turn from a brutal military dictatorship that tortured, killed, imprisoned and exiled those who opposed the policies of Gen. Pinochet into a real democracy that elects a Socialist, agnostic, single mother as its President, surely there is hope we will survive the Bush presidency.

Meanwhile, a left-wing opponent of free-trade and free-market policies is leading the polling heading up to April's Presidential elections in Peru. Ollanta Humala has promised populist policies which include tighter government control of natural resources like coal and oil, he has condemned globalization as a US led assault on the poor, and he has spoken out against US "domination."

Sources : NSA Spied on "Thousands" of Innocent Americans

Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends - New York Times

Howie--and the rest of the right--show their true colors on this story. Their rationale, like the President's, is basically this: security trumps human rights, and whatever the President does, even when he does it illegally and in secret, even when he has to provide no legal assurances that his actions are politically motivated, even when Constitutional checks and balances are jettisoned, is okay.

Why does the right hate America so much?

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Oh, Let Us Turn Our Thoughts Today to Martin Luther King..."

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Happy Birthday, Dr. King.

Americans Support Impeaching Bush for Wiretapping

Americans Support Impeaching Bush for Wiretapping

Fact: There is more public support right now for the impeachment of George W. Bush than there EVER was for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. But the "liberal media" won't let you know that.

Kill the Messenger : Radical Anti-American Web Site Attacks Murtha

Cybercast News Service, a radical anti-American website, has begun an enormous ad hominem attack on Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), the former Vietnam Marine and winner of two Purple Hearts who has criticized George W. Bush's handling of the war in Iraq--like nearly two thirds of Americans.

CNS--hiding their former identity as the "Conservative News Service"--reports that an "investigation" calls into question the circumstances surrounding Murtha's injuries in Vietnam for which he was decorated.

In another story, CNS inaccurately refers to Murtha as an "un-indicted co-conspirator" in the Abscam scandal of 1980--Murtha was, in fact never indicted, nor was he charged with conspiracy or even referred to in any legal documents as a conspirator. An Associated Press profile of Murtha found on USAToday's website says
Murtha was the only congressman involved in the complex case to emerge without facing criminal charges. He declared he was innocent, saying he had "met with two men who I believed had a substantial line of credit that could provide up to 1,000 jobs for the district. I broke no law. I took no money." A grand jury and the House ethics panel cleared Murtha of any wrongdoing.
The anti-American right-wing blogosphere have picked up these stories and are running like crazy. They are also taking public offense (whining and crying) at charges of a "Swift-boat"-like smear campaign. The shoe, I think, fits.

The ad hominem attack is a favorite of those who are desperate to avoid the truth. When you have no case, no evidence to back up a flimsy argument ("the war was a good idea and its going great"), attack the character of the person who calls your argument into question. The anti-American right has to attack Murtha--and Cindy Sheehan, and anyone else mentioning the sad fact that the emporer has no clothes--because they can't argue the reality of what he says.

Kill the messenger.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Zapatero, Chavez Thumb Noses at Bush

An Update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

The Spanish government, under Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has decided to go ahead with a $2 billion deal to sell fighter jets to Venezuela. The US has opposed the deal because they don't want Venezuela, led by President Hugo Chavez, to have the sophisticated aircraft which contain US technology.

Chavez is a thorn in George W. Bush's side.

NSA Spying on "Terrorist" Quakers

NSA used city police as trackers - baltimoresun.com

I'm starting to lose faith (but don't worry--I won't) that Howie and his right-wing ilk will ever look at the policies and actions of this Bush administration and their friends in the PNAC and acknowledge that the Constitution of the United States is held by them in utter contempt.

Here's a report that, since September 11, 2001, the NSA has been working with local police forces to spy on peace activists. In the case sited, those activists were members of American Friends Service Committee--the Quakers. The idea of Quakers being in league with terrorists is about as ridiculous and illogical and historically false as the idea that Saddam was ever in league with al Qa'ida (an idea, however, that Howie and, I'm sure, most of the right desperately clings to).

I'll say it again: if we abandon our rights, if we abandon the Constitution, we are no longer America.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The REAL War Between Good and Evil

Tough Interrogation Tactics Were Opposed

More evidence that the "few bad apples" theory is hogwash (how many synonyms can we find for this word, boys and girls?).
The memos indicate that even military units at Guantanamo Bay pushed back against the department's efforts to use new, aggressive tactics against detainees during the facility's first year. The military's top lawyers also warned that the approval of such tactics could lead to abuse and unlawful conduct.
There are good and decent Americans everywhere--honest people who believe in our Constitution as the ultimate law of the land--who oppose the Bush administration and its policies. Even conscientious individuals in the armed forces "pushed back" against what they saw as evil.

This is the real war we're fighting right now. Real Americans oppose Bush.

Geoffrey Miller Takes the Fifth

General Miller, 56, decided this week to invoke his right not to give testimony that might incriminate him and will not answer questions in court-martial proceedings against two soldiers who are accused of using dogs to terrify detainees at Abu Ghraib, Maj. Michelle Crawford, a military lawyer representing the general, said Thursday by e-mail.
Invocation of civil rights against self-incrimination under the Constitution implies neither guilt nor innocence. The Constitution (the same Constitution of the United States that George W. Bush allegedly recently referred to as "just a God-damned piece of paper") protects animals like Miller the same as it does decent, law-abiding, honest Americans.

But if you've been keeping up with this story, this is just additional evidence that the "few bad apples" theory is, like "creation science," bunk. Miller was moved from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, on the orders of Donald Rumsfeld, and under cover of legal opinions generated by then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez, specifically to "Gitmo-ize" the illegal interrogation camp; precisely to integrate torture into the process of generating "intelligence."

Meanwhile, in a related story from the "don't call us fascists" file:
Newly released military documents show U.S. Army investigators closed a probe into allegations an Iraqi detainee had been abused by a shadowy military task force after its members used fake names and asserted that key computer files had been lost.
Yeah. Right.

Investigators could not find the personnel involved or the (detainee's) medical files, and the case was closed, the files stated. A memo listed the suspected offenses as aggravated assault, cruelty and maltreatment."

"The only names identified by this investigation were determined to be fake names utilized by the capturing soldiers," the memo stated. "6-26 also had a major computer malfunction which resulted in them losing 70 percent of their files; therefore they can't find the cases we need to review."

Well, that was certainly convenient, eh?

I'm telling you, folks, as sure as I know there is a God in Heaven, I know this: if we deliberately give up our Constitution and the rights granted to us by it, we are no longer America.

And the terrorists will have won.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

GI Support for Bush Drops

Howie--and the rest of the right--will no doubt discount this.

But the right has been banging this drum for over a year now--last year's Military Times poll that showed 63% of American servicemen/women supported Bush's handling of the war. And now the numbers have dropped dramatically.

Miltary Times=liberal media?

Monday, January 02, 2006

"Top" Stories (Whatever That Means) of 2005

Here's a list of some of the stories I think were important in 2005, and that beg some attention in 2006.

January 1, 2005: The "stingy" US response to the tsunami.
January 21, 2005: Cheney tips his hand on Iran.
January 22, 2005 (although you could make an entry any day): Bush's lies, obfuscation, manipulation, spin, talking points, etc.
January 26, 2005: US links Venezuela to terrorism.
February 1, 2005: Chavez becomes a hero for opposing Bush policies.
February 8, 2005: The BULGE.
February 15, 2005: Targeting journalists in Iraq?
March 1, 2005: ACLU sues Rummy over torture (where HAS this story been?).
March 7, 2005: Targeting journalists, part II...
March 9, 2005: Chavez warns Bush not to attack Venezuela.
March 13, 2005: Bush's propaganda.
March 19, 2005: The spineless media.
March 21, 2005: Terri Schiavo (vs Sun Hudson--more right-wing hypocrisy)
April 6, 2005: John Paul II was not a Republican.
April 11, 2005: Hiding US dead and wounded.
April 12, 2005: Bush frenches Musharraf.
April 13, 2005: Fundamentalist stupidity.
April 15, 2005: US support for terrorism.
April 19, 2005: Ratzinger.
April 19, 2005: Close the School of Assassins.
April 22, 2005: FBI protects Osama bin Laden's "right to privacy."
April 28, 2005: Global terror increases.
April 28, 2005: Income inequality increases.
May 2, 2005: Downing Street memos.
May 2, 2005: Pat Robertson is an idiot.
May 11, 2005: Iraq becomes a "terrorist factory."
May 12, 2005: Iraq becomes a drug-trafficking depot.
May 16, 2005: Telesur.
June 2, 2005: US support for Colombian terrorists?
June 8, 2005: Bush's culture of death.
July 7, 2005: Why do they hate us so much?
July 18, 2005: Why does the right-wing hate America so much?
September 6, 2005: Katrina.
September 8, 2005: Surprise!!! Bush lies!!!
September 13, 2005: Bush's nosedive. (Also here, just for fun)
September 30, 2005: My take on the US right.
October 1, 2005: Bush back on bottle?
October 11, 2005: Pat Robertson is a moron.
October 18, 2005: Bush nosedive continues.
October 18, 2005: Judith (p-tui!) Miller.
October 25, 2005: "We don't do torture." But don't pass a law that doesn't allow us to torture.
October 27, 2005: Fitzgerald.
November 3, 2005: My book.
November 14, 2005: More Bush bullshit.
November 22, 2005: 20,000 protest School of Assassins.
November 30, 2005: More Bush propaganda.
December 17, 2005: Signs of hope?
December 19, 2005: The "New Axis of Evil" grows.
December 30, 2005: Is Iran next?

And, of course, all year long: TORTURE.

Iran Threatens "Crushing" Response to Attack

More on the impending US attack on Iran.

Morales : Bush is a Terrorist

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Bolivian President-elect Evo Morales yesterday called US President George W. Bush a terrorist and promised he would work alongside Venezuela's Hugo Chaves, Argentina's Nestor Kirchner, Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, to resist US influence and the spread of unregulated capitalism in Latin America.
Bush is the only terrorist, because he is the only one who intervenes militarily in the affairs of other countries. This is state terrorism, but those who demand their rights, those people are not terrorists.
Morales stopped short of promising the netionalization of energy industries, but gave a thinly-veiled warning, "We need partners, not bosses."