Saturday, March 25, 2006

Good thoughts on immigration

Now, eight months later, the immigration storm clouds have finally gathered enough strength to draw the lines in the desert sand and force the American public decide where they stand, and more importantly why.

Through a well-organized and concerted effort by human rights groups that serve the Latino population in the United States, rallies and marches have been staged in cities all across America, demanding an end to the hate-mongering string of bills that have been working their way through the Republican-led Congress.

Will the liberal left join bigot-filled groups like the Minutemen and American Patrol in reacting negatively to these powerful demonstrations of democracy?


American exceptionalism is driving the adverse reactions to the images that have been played out in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Trenton, Washington, D.C., Knoxville, Milwaukee, Tucson, Phoenix, Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco, Kansas City (KS), Columbus, New York City, Houston, and Los Angeles.

To be perfectly honest, it reminds me of reading stories of slaves owners in the civil war era who were offended and appalled that the slaves would dare demand some semblance of dignity. "How dare they? Who do they think they are?"

The echo in my ears from one of the gritos at today's Tucson rally provides an answer:
¡No Somos Enemigos, Somos Tus Amigos!
We are not enemies, we are your friends.


I implore the left and moderate ends of the political spectrum in the United States to consider the humanity of these people who are merely asking for a chance to ensure the survival and prosperity of their families. The debate on immigration has been dominated by bigots like James Sensenbrenner, Russell Pearce and Chris Simcox. It is now time to let the targets of their ire have their say, and clue-in the American public on the reasons they have risked their lives and livelihood to come to the United States.

One of the signs at today's rally was very simple, and was held by the hands of young girl who was no more than ten years old: "I want to be a doctor."

Will you respond to her as an American exceptionalist and deny her a path to succeed or as a human being who recognizes that we all have have a right to follow our dreams?
Nerdified Link. My emphasis added. Personally, I hope that little girl gets the chance to realize her dreams. This is not the time to wimp out on demanding civil rights and liberties for all. Period.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has lost his right to carry a concealed handgun in Texas, RAW STORY has learned.

A Texas website, Brazosriver, was the first (to the knowledge of RAW STORY) to post a judge's order to suspend DeLay's license. Under Texas law, indicted felons are not allowed to carry concealed handguns.

Attorneys for DeLay have appealed the order, and it will be heard by the Republican County Court at Law. There are no Democratic judges in the county, according to the site that revealed the documents.

Nerdified link

Hat tip to No Capital.

Quick News Roundup

The "happy talk" from Bu$hCo about Iraq is a lie. We're talking civil war, stolen reconstruction funds, and the Bu$hCo blue ribbon community of Tal Afar is practically a ghost town.

The other war that Americans forget about in Afghanistan is by any reasonable estimation a civil war.

And with those two debacles already in full bloom, Bu$hCo is jonesing for a repeat in Iran - apparently intending to pressure the UN security council into authorizing the use of force against the Iranians.

On the home front, all that federal debt and trade debt is going to come back to haunt us. Are you ready?

The federal government continues to neglect the Gulf Coast, numerous months since Katrina hit.

And here's just another reminder that Big Brother is watching you.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Accidental Activist (Petals for Peace)

I may be a bit swamped at the moment, but here's something that I thought was worth passing along:
Dear Peace People,

I am really quite gratified by the level of participation in this year's 3rd anniversary events. From the sign-up sheets, I was worried that we would not staff these protests at a level that would let the public understand the commitment of the peace movement toward this cause. But that worry has been cast aside. I've lost an exact count, but I honestly believe that approximately 350-400 or more people have participated in the events we've scheduled for this last week. And we still have two full days to go to boost that number. And that does not include the thousands (I'd say quickly approaching ten thousand or more -- horn honks of support we've seen from the public). The ratio of positive to negative response if well in excess of ten to one. Protestors have joined us from as far away as Howell, Clinton County, Jackson and Bay City, Michigan. And a couple of new residents of Kansas City. New peace people have joined in. And total strangers are delivering us hot chocolate, coffee, cookies and apples. Many have stopped to shake hands from their car, or to just say thanks for doing this. The public support is almost bizarre. The people are truly tired of this war.

Now for important notes. First, we started a "Petals for Peace" event today. Individual protestors are taking a single flower into Mike Rogers' office and giving it to Mike, asking him to stop the war. The response has been very good. We delivered in the neighborhood of 48 flowers today. A significant portion are from the public at large. And we want to continue this. It sends a great message to Mr. Rogers. You can help in a few different ways. E-mail this to your family, friends and associates, so that they might have a chance to participate. Stop by the picket and deliver a flower (it takes about 15-30 seconds, and you can park right in front -- no tickets issued yet and we will watch your car). Or, for those with the means, send a cheap floral arrangement to Rogers' office for Thursday or Friday. Make sure the card reads something like "Petals for Peace -- Stop the War." You just get the feeling on the ground that this is a really wonderful protest statement. The office is located at 1327 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, Michigan 48912. And there is a great place to order flowers just a block away. Bancroft Flowers. (517) 371-4120. Just a block east of the protest site. (And they have given us a great rate on flowers for the protest).

Second, we're going to incorporate a new angle Thursday. "Kisses for Peace," where in addition to flowers, we are going to be delivering Hershey's Kisses to ask for peace. Friday, we are considering adding "Going Nuts for Peace," where we may deliver nuts for some kind. For those of you who got my earlier e-mail about baking cookies, we can deliver those also, but some have suggested that non-packaged consumables might be suspect from the Rogers' staff. So that is why we went "Kisses" instead. Don't worry. We will not let your cookies go to waste. Bring them by. We have some voracious cookie monster types on the picket lines.

Third, if you can't do the actual picket or one of the walk-up/drive-up quick protests, consider calling Rogers' office at some point in the day and telling him that you support the "Picket for Peace" outside his office. You want him to support legislation to stop the war and to hold the administration accountable. His office number is (517) 702-8000. Plus you can call him toll free in Washington D.C., at 1-877-762-8762. Or you could fax a sheet telling him you support the "Picket for Peace" at (517) 702-8642. I'm told that legislative offices weight communications in this hierarchy: Personal visits, faxes, phone calls, and e-mails. So help out if you can. Those of you who blog, post this info so we can get some regional or nationwide support.

Fourth, Tom is circulating an invitation to "Gone Wired" for pizza following the Picket for Peace. If you participated please come out and say hello again on Friday evening. I'm suggesting we might drink a beer for peace after pizza.

Fifth, I have to say a special thank you or two. I mean it seems to me absolutely everyone is helping to the maximum. So it is difficult to single anyone out without casting a shadow on everyone else's contributions. But just some really cool neat little thing. Margaret N. was out in the cold with us to march a pit. And that was pretty cool. And Amy B. bought a plant for a Rogers' secretary who has been making our lives much more enjoyable (and brought a nice smile to that person's face). Anyway. It has been so fun being out there. Hope you can join us for a bit Tomorrow has the potential to be slow, because Gary D., who has been there every minute is unavailable. So anyone who can pick-up slack is appreciated.

Good night. And good luck.

Terry Olson

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pat Robertson Needs to Lay Off the Meth

ROBERTSON: Ladies and gentleman this is a fascinating book. If you want to, you'd better take your blood pressure medicine before you read it, but it's "The Professors: The 101 most dangerous academics in America" and that's just a short list of the 30-40,000 of them, they're like termites that have worked into the woodwork of our academic society and it's appalling. This is available at and book stores everywhere, and you really ought to read it and be informed.

TERRI: It’s interesting that so many conservatives haven't seen this because decades ago we were told that infiltrating education was the way to take over the country, we should have been on alert.

ROBERTSON: They gamed it, these guys are out and out communists, they are radicals, you know some of them killers, and they are propagandists of the first order and they don't want anybody else except them. That's why Regent University for example is so terrifically important and why we're setting up an undergraduate program that hopefully will see shortly 10,000 students, and then from there 250,000 because you don't want your child to be brainwashed by these radicals, you just don't want it to happen. Not only brainwashed but beat up, they beat these people up, cower them into submission. Ahhh! "The Professors", read it.

Nerdified Link
At least Pat Robertson is consistent:
"It is interesting, that termites don't build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it isThe people who have come into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation." - Pat Robertson, New York Magazine, August 18, 1986

Oddly enough, about the only folks I see referring to professors as "termites" are white supremacists, much like those who characterize those of other ethnic groups as "termites."

Their mentality isn't much different from this:
"An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation," the leader of another country once wrote. "We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland." - Adoph Hitler, writing about creation of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.

"Today Christians ... stand at the head of Germany ... I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity .. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit ... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past ... (few) years." - Adolph Hitler - The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1 (London, Oxford University Press, 1942), pg. 871-872.

A headline that would befit The Onion:

Bush offers cyclone aid to Australia!

Uh...hello...what about the big mess y'all left in the wake of Katrina, or Rita, or Wilma for that matter? Shouldn't the federal government be doing right by its own citizens in those areas affected by those hurricanes instead? At least the Aussies had the good sense to decline the "offer." Seeing how badly Bu$hCo bungled things this past hurricane season, I can't say that I blame them.


"There are lots of things about Western society that don't work for me any more."

Iraq War veteran Erik Bunger

The God the Right Worships is a God of Death

Check out Thanatos Nation: God is a Bullet:

This culture, our political leaders, our church leaders, our media ... there can be little or no talk of diplomacy, of second chances, of real communication or admissions of error. Anyone who suggests such things is accused of a lack of patriotism, a lack of faith (increasingly flipsides of the same bloody coin), of many things up to and including treason. There is less and less talk of taking care of our poor, of spending our money wisely ... especially since there will be no future after the Second Coming, and since the US is doing God’s work:

Dobbs: Former Republican Party strategist Kevin Phillips joins us here tonight. His new book is called “American Theocracy.” It is a provocative indictment of the administration’s foreign and economic policy, and examines, among other things, how the religious right is driving this administration’s policy. Kevin, it is going good to have you with us.


Phillips: Ah. 1969 is when it was published. It started before the election. But what’s happened to the Republican coalition in the last 10 years especially is it’s been moved more and more towards religious yardsticks. People who go to church. People who favor religion defining government. People who have just a whole set of concerns that go beyond economics.

One of the reasons I think we have kind of screwed up economic [policy] in some ways is that a lot of Americans have stopped worrying about the economy because they’re waiting for the second coming.

Dobbs: And you mean this quite literally?

Phillips: I mean it quite literally.

Chris Hedges, author of WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING, said in an interview on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly:

I had a great ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, James Luther Adams. When I was a student, he was in his seventies. He told us that when we were his age, we’d all be fighting the Christian fascists, which we thought was rather silly then, but probably not so silly now.

Fundamentalism lends itself completely to war, because it has a dichotomy between “us” and “them.” There is a notion that the only way to salvation is through whatever religion we happen to be, and in the fervor of that kind of fundamentalism, we refuse to acknowledge that salvation is possible through any other route. In a time of national distress, people always look for those who promise what appear to be black-and-white answers, or clear-cut solutions to the confusion around them.

One of the most important things to remember about war is that it entails a loss of control. Suddenly, you can’t control your environment. You search for those forces that you think can help you regain control, and fundamentalists promise the direct and divine intervention of God—whatever god that happens to be—on behalf of his chosen people—whatever chosen people that happens to be.

This is a culture war, and reason and decency are losing. There is no Prince of Peace, but only a warrior God, bloody on the Cross.

I'd like to think there is a Prince of Peace, but I will concur that for America's right wingers that conceptualization would be entirely alien to them. Instead, it seems to be a death culture - not quite my vibe. That end-timers are at the controls of this government is unnerving to say the least. The realization of that fact helps to make some sense out of what would be otherwise senseless behaviors, such as the massive deficit spending, the focus on holy wars, the complete ignorance of pressing environmental concerns. Rational folks have different concerns - unfortunately, it's the rational folks who are by and large ignored.

Nigerian oil production down to 25%

Nigeria's oil production capacity has been cut to 631,000 barrels per day (bpd), or some 25 percent of the country's total output, following attacks on a major pipeline belonging to Italy oil giant Agip.

An Agip spokesman in Lagos told Xinhua on Monday that the Tebidaba-Brass pipeline in the southern oil-rich Niger Delta was blown up with dynamite on Friday night. "We are losing about 65,000 bpd, but we don't know who attacked it," the spokesman said by phone.

Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer and the world's eighth biggest oil exporter. Ethnic Ijaw militants led by a group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) have staged a series of attacks on oil facilities and abducted 13 foreign oil workers in the delta in the past four months.

Ten of the oil hostages were later released but three Westerners, two Americans and one Briton, were still being held.

Royal Dutch Shell, the largest oil company operating in Nigeria,and other oil firms, have been forced to shut in about 556,000 bpd before the Agip incident.

MEND is insisting on the demilitarization of the delta as a condition for the release and the ceasefire. It also vows not to compromise on its demands for the release of two ethnic Ijaw leaders, payment of 1.5-billion-U.S. dollar compensation to Ijaw communities affected by Shell spillages.

Nerdified Link
Gaianne puts it aptly:
It appears that inhabitants of the Delta, of the Ijaw tribe, have demanded payment for the oil extracted by Western oil companies and reparations for environmental damage caused by drilling and operations, and being summarily rebuffed by the national government (reputedly thoroughly corrupt) and the companies involved, have taken direct action. A group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has been formed and taken credit for attacks on oil installations and the taking of hostages. The relevance to the War for Oil is this: Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer and the world's eighth biggest oil exporter. As I have predicted, the war is taking the oil off line.


This is a pattern we shall get used to.
Something tells me that in the meantime, big oil CEOs will still make out like bandits as long as attacks on oil installations don't damage those all important profit margins.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Remember the SDS?

Or, if you're a gen-x-er (like me) or younger, remember reading or hearing about the SDS? Well, they're back. One thing that caught my attention was that apparently one of the chapters is in Fullerton, CA - right in the heart of Raygun country. Maybe there's hope for the current generation of students? I know my cohort was a pretty apathetic lot (if it didn't involve sex, beer pyramids, or money, the general vibe was "don't know, don't care").

Hat tip to Dennis Fox.

Mickey Z sez it best:

Prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Human rights violations at Gitmo. Democrats fighting each other to sound more hawkish. The Bush regime sat on its hands before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. No WMD in Iraq. What could I possibly say about all this that hasn’t already been well-documented by far better known and widely respected pundits...over and over and over on this site and thousands of others? Does anyone really need another article?

You did already know all this stuff already, right?

Nerdified Link

My emphasis added. Apparently it takes a whole hell of a lot to wake up the American public. Articles. Pictures. The whole nine yards. Over and over again. Maybe it'll sink in before it's too late...maybe.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Say Hello To

Jade Tiger
Sugar Cubes
Democracy Cell Project Blog
Rachel's Words
Peace For Palestine
just steps...
Random Ravings

Just some of the many blogs you'll find on the internets.

March 19, 2003 - A Day That Will Live in Infamy

Today marks the third anniversary of the Junior Caligula's wargasm in Iraq. In the three years that have followed, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been massacred, 2,318 US troops have been killed while thousands more have been injured (and lest we forget, there are also a number of young men and women from the so-called "coalition" nations who also have been killed or wounded for the sake this Children's Crusade). The Iraqi infrastructure - already weakened from years of US-imposed sanctions - has been further devastated. The war that was supposed to have paid for itself in Iraqi oil has yet to do so - instead our nation is now even more in debt than ever before. The money that was supposed to "rebuild" the Iraqi infrastructure was purloined by Bu$hCo cronies. The promised democracy has yet to arrive. Sham elections have yet to produce anything more than the shadow of a puppet government, as all signs point to continued US occupation. There is no tangible evidence that the insurgency, primarily fueled by anger toward said occupation, is on the decline and plenty of tangible evidence supporting increased violence. No "WMD" have been recovered - a supposed rationale for going to war. Blix has been vindicated. The capture of Saddam was staged - the image of a former dictator living in a hole in the ground was certainly the stuff of romantic neocon fantasy, but was not the truth. Human rights abuses that were once perpetrated by Saddam's henchmen have since been perpetrated by Bu$hCo's henchmen. Torture never went out of style. The Saddam-Al Qaida link was phony too (even if the wingnuts are still desparate to find that particular Holy Grail). The occupation, on the other hand, has provided a handy breeding ground for terrorists - primarily individuals who are now justifiably angry at the war criminals who occupy our government. More birds will come home to roost in the coming years. And the experience of the last three years has not even remotely tempered Bu$hCo's lust for blood, as the recent targetting of Iran strongly suggests. Chalk it up to Junior Caligula's fetish for playing soldier.

In the heady days early on, in April of 2003, one could read and hear the neocons and their enablers crow about how wonderful everything was. Democracy and cheap oil were right around the corner. The White House "knew" where to find the WMD. The whole sordid endeaver would be a cakewalk, one that would be over in a matter of weeks or months. The condescension of those days was something to behold. I recall one such individual whom I used to encounter on a message board that I rarely frequent these days, who best exemplified the mentality of the pro-war crowd:
everything is slowly falling right into place... we could have talked for another 20 years trying to get stability in those regions and nothing would have happened except more time to maqke things even more unstable... they know our government is resolved to return stability, to protect ourselves from terrorism, to stand up for human rights and for freedom....

and they slowly fall into place.....

be patient my little liberals... things will be ok.
Three years later, things are not okay, and are nowhere fucking near being okay. Massive civilian casualties, shortages of basic necessities, death squads, torture, sectarian violence have all become the lot of the average Iraqi's life. The US government's standing as a beacon for human rights and freedom has been unmasked for the sorry joke that it arguable was all along.

On this sad day I pray for peace, for the day when the Iraqi people will be allowed to make right what our government has so thoroughly destroyed; for the day when we Americans may take back what has been stolen from us by thugs in three-piece suits - our honor, our integrity, our dignity. This is a day of anger and of hope, faint as that hope might be in our species' dark winter. As a dissident I offer these words as a candle to shine some light and shed some warmth that is so desperately needed.

Peace. Salaam.
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Links with your Sunday coffee

Eamon Martin has what he characterizes a WAKE UP moment. Part of the reality of life in post-Bill of Rights America.

After three years of the illegal war against the Iraqis, Cockburn and St. Clair wonder where is the American resistance to it, or to the illegal wiretapping of Americans by our own government? Hint: you'll get nary a peep from our Congresscritters. It bears repeating: the Democrat party is not suited for the role of an opposition party - an observation that should be of no surprise.

William Rivers Pitt correctly characterizes Bu$hCo and his enablers as deranged, disconnected, and dangerous. There's a tragicomical quality to Junior Caligula's continued obsession with the Oval Office decor, as the nation crumbles around him. Most useful part of the article: the compilation of two and a half years of mass media descriptions of the "recent surge in violence in Iraq".

We also learn that "Operation Swarmer" was much ado about nothing. No surprise there...we get the "ready for Faux News" media events that promise to be a major breakthrough in waging this illegal war, which turn out to be as we'd say in Texas and Oklahoma "all sizzle, but no steak."

Fear has been back in style for a while, and not too surprisingly so are McCarthy and Orwell.

Chris Floyd's Children of Abraham: Death in the Desert is an absolute must-read. Three years of war in Iraq continues to produce raids that kill civilians - including children. As a parent, I continue to be appalled.

Apparently Bu$hCo has been feeding bogus information to rightwing bloggers, who've fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Barnum had it right...there's a sucka born every minute.

International Law? Huh?

Good catch from Eli:
Does the President know that he's in violation of international law when he advocates preemptive war? The U.N. Charter, Geneva, Nuremberg. We violate international law when we advocate attacking a country that did not attack us.

-- Helen Thomas (from Thursday's White House Press Gaggle)
Think Iraq. Think what Bu$hCo wants to do to Iran. You get the picture.

In case you don't, here's a compilation of opinions on the legality of the Iraq war. See also Kofi Annan's statement in 2004, and Richard Perle - one of the primary proponents of the Iraq war.