Saturday, May 6, 2006

Saturday Morning Pulp Fiction Edition

Click the pic for Billmon's take on the Porter Goss resignation. More skinny on the scandal here, here, here, here, and here.

By the way, the guy being floated as a replacement (Michael Hayden) seems like one of those "born again with fascist cravings" types.

Quotable: Helen Thomas

"Where are the activist priests and ministers who took strong stands during the Vietnam War and hit the streets with their protests?

Three years into the war against Iraq, the silence of the clergy is deafening, despite U.S. abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and a reported American policy of shipping detainees to secret prisons abroad where, presumably, they can be tortured.

Nerdified Link.
Hat tip to Left I.

Another overlooked anniversary

The Haymarket "Riot" occurred 120 years ago Thursday. A quote:
"I am doomed by you to suffer an ignominious death because I am an outspoken enemy of coercion, of privilege, or force, of authority. Think you, the people are blind, are asleep, are indifferent? You deceive yourselves. I tell you as a man of the people, and I speak for them, that you every word and act are recorded. You are being weighed in the balance. The people are conscious of your power – your stolen power. I, as a working man, stand here and to your face, in your stronghold of oppression, denounce your crimes against humanity. It is for this I die, but my death will not have been in vain." – Albert Parsons at his sentencing hearing, October 9, 1886.

We can pay appropriate tribute to Parsons, Spies, and the other worker-visionaries of the nineteenth century by keeping alive an American moral imagination – a vision and eventually practice of a more humane, cooperative society driven not by the imperatives of wealth and social stratification, but by the quest for good, meaningful lives for all.

Friday, May 5, 2006


What is it with Republicans and Watergate?

Kevin Hayden sez

It’s not enough to throw da bums out. We’ve got to throw the competent in.
Hat tip to Carla at Preemptive Karma.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

"Yo prometo lealtad a la bandera
de los estados Unidos de America,
y a la Republica que representa,
una Nacion bajo Dios,
con libertad y justicia para todos."
Nerdified Link.

Debunking More Nativist B.S.

I'm a huge fan of the show Mythbusters, a show where the hosts take on various urban legends and give them a reality check. Although occasionally a myth actually turns out to have a grain of truth, usually Adam and Jamie determine that the myths they examine are busted - and of course they also take full advantage of the opportunity to smash objects or use some heavy duty explosives (arguably my favorite part of the show) - but I digress.

So much for the sidebar. Where am I going with this, you might ask? Lately there's been an email floating around the internets that makes a number of outlandish claims about "illegal" immigrants, and claims as its source the Los Angeles Times. I've seen an iteration of it passed to me by a conservative acquaintance, and like a lot of these sorts of emails I figured there was nothing particularly substantial to it. Fortunately one of the beauties of the internet and bloggers in particular is the rapid response in busting myths, and none other than the LA Times goes to town on this myth, with a blog entry titled Just the Facts:

According to the search service Technorati, at least 130 weblogs have recently posted 10 "facts" about immigration, allegedly coming from the L.A. Times. As Readers' Representative Jamie Gold has pointed out, this list, which is being forwarded around the world at lightning speed, is a hoax.

We combed our archives to see whether the paper has indeed written anything like these facts, and found just one Op-ed column — by leading anti-immigration figure Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Col.) — that comes close to stating what the e-mail hoax claims. Meanwhile, we've tried to assess the veracity of the various statistics from online sources as well as representatives of federal, state, county, and city officials. We'll continue to post more details as we receive them. Here are the results:

"Fact" 1: 40% of all workers in L.A. County (L.A. County has 10 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This was because they are predominantly illegal immigrants, working without a green card.
LAT citations: None.
Factual basis: The Economic Roundtable, a research outfit affiliated with the Los Angeles County government, concluded in a December 2005 report [PDF] that the low-end estimate for LA County workers working for cash is 322,400 and the high end is 972,500 in 2000. From this, the Economic Roundtable paper extrapolates a mid-range 2004 estimate of 679,000, or 15% of the workforce. (Note that the total workforce of Los Angeles County is about 4.5 million, while the total population is closer to 10 million.)

"Fact" 2: 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
LAT citations: May 15, 2005 — "According to Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute, 95% of the hundreds of outstanding homicide warrants (and 60% of outstanding felony warrants) in L.A. are for illegal immigrants."
Similar citations: January 19, 2004
Factual basis: An outstanding warrant is quite a different beast than a regular warrant, so this "fact" left out the key word. We did some more checking on the outstanding warrants point itself. MacDonald stated this in a 2004 City Journal article, and in testimony before the House of Representatives in spring 2005, noting that this came to 1,200-1,500 warrants. One LAPD officer cited the same factoid in the National Review earlier this year, saying that it's specific to "the first half of 2004". But Jane Robison, press secretary for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, told us that the D.A. does not keep track of this number; a representative with Detective Headquarters said the same.

"Fact" 3: 75% of people on the Most Wanted List in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
LAT citations: None.
Factual basis: We can't locate such a fact anywhere. The Los Angeles Police Department's most wanted list contains a number of people with unknown or obscured identities, suggesting that tallying the legal status of everyone on the list would be very difficult if not impossible. Ditto for the FBI's most-wanted list.

"Fact" 4: Over 2/3's of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
LAT citations: Jan. 15, 1999 — "As many as 70,000 illegal immigrants a year use state-funded prenatal services." (Similar citations: Jan. 14, 1999, June 12, 1998, March 6, 1998, Jan. 30, 1998, Jan. 4, 1998, Dec. 18, 1997, Aug. 26, 1997, July 10, 1997, Feb. 6, 1997, Nov. 13, 1996, Nov. 5, 1996, Nov. 2, 1996, OCt. 24, 1996, Oct. 17, 1996)
Feb. 14, 1999 — "Two-thirds of all births here are to foreign-born mothers." (Similar citation: July 25, 2004 — "40% of the births in California are to foreign-born women.")
July 7, 1998 — "[Rep. Elton] Gallegly [(R-Simi Valley)] cited a 1990-91 Los Angeles County study that showed that two-thirds of the women giving birth in public hospitals were undocumented." (Similar citations: Oct. 2, 1995, July 19, 1995, June 11, 1995, Jan. 27, 1995, Nov. 21, 1993, Sept. 13, 1993, Aug. 17, 1993, Aug. 1, 1993, May 28, 1992, Apr. 2, 1992, Oct. 26, 1991, Oct. 24, 1991)
Factual basis: None of these citations establishes the "fact" above. According to the California Department of Health Services, 158,782 babies were born in L.A. County in 2001 (these are the most recent statistics available online). Of these, 99,089 were to Hispanic mothers. That's just under 2/3 — 62.4% for all Hispanic moms, which would include legal and undocumented mothers from Mexico as well as other countries.

"Fact" 5: Nearly 25% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
LAT citations: May 1, 2005, in an op-ed by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Col.) — "More than 10% of the inmates in U.S. jails and prisons are illegal aliens, and in California it is more than 20%."
July 11, 2004 — "Each year, the [Los Angeles] County Jail system processes about 170,000 inmates, and federal officials estimate that a fourth of them are illegal immigrants. But with just a fraction of the foreign-born being questioned, officials say it is impossible to know exactly how many illegal immigrants are in the system and how much the county should receive in federal compensation." (Similar citations for Riverside County, Apr. 12, 2006; Anaheim city, Nov. 5, 1997, June 27, 1996; Los Angeles County, Jan. 25, 1996, Jan. 15, 1996, July 10, 1995, May 23, 1995; state and county, Nov. 27, 1993, June 1, 1993, Oct. 19, 1992, Oct. 6, 1992, Aug. 4, 1992, Aug. 18, 1991, Dec. 16, 1990, Dec. 4, 1985)
Factual basis: The 25% figure could be approximately correct for state and federal prisons in California, or correct for county, at least as of 2004. But "detention centers" is an extremely broad term that could include all juvenile detention facilities, federal prisons, state prisons, and county jails in California's 58 counties — making this figure very tough to come by. The San Francisco Chronicle offered a lower figure for state prisons on May 4: "Of the nearly 171,000 inmates crowding state prisons, 22,478, or about 13 percent as of March 31, are undocumented immigrants or are suspected of being undocumented." The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group in favor of reducing immigration, offers a lower figure for L.A. County jails: "Deportable aliens comprise 11% of the Los Angeles County jail population costing the county an estimated $75 million a year."

"Fact" 6: Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
LAT citations: Jan. 31, 1994 — "As many as 100,000 families in Los Angeles County are believed to be living in bootlegged apartments or illegally converted garages."
May 24, 1987 — "A systematic survey by The Times indicates that about 42,000 garages are sheltering about 200,000 people in Los Angeles County." (Similar citations: Apr. 3, 1989)
Factual basis: None of these estimates makes clear who among those taking shelter in garages are in the country illegally. No comment so far from county offices. One City of Los Angeles representative said that the last tally was done over five years ago, and found 50,000 to 70,000 illegally converted units in the city of Los Angeles, out of about 800,000 residences.

"Fact" 7: The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
LAT citations: May 15, 2005, in an op-ed by attorney Carol Platt Liebau — "Of the membership of the notorious 18th Street gang, estimated at 20,000, fully 60% are illegal aliens, according to a 1995 report by the state Department of Justice." (Similar citations: Jan. 19, 2004, March 25, 2000, June 11, 1997, Dec. 17, 1996, Nov. 21, 1996, Nov. 17, 1996)
Factual basis: Heather MacDonald of Manhattan Institute stated that "No one knows for certain the percentage of illegals in gangs, thanks in large part to sanctuary laws themselves." She does offer some statistics in the City Journal:

A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. [...]

The leadership of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around L.A.’s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002, says former assistant U.S. attorney Luis Li.

Even if you accept the 18th Street Gang estimates, which would be notoriously difficult to determine with accuracy, that's just one gang in a city where several prominent gangs — including the Crips, Bloods and Aryan Nation — are not largely comprised of immigrants, at least not from "south of the border."

"Fact" 8: Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
LAT citations: None.
Factual basis: No comment yet from HUD, and the only statistic we found online is at FAIR, and it is for only the state of California:

The state Housing and Community Development department has prepared new screening rules based on the welfare reform legislation adopted by Congress in 1996 that would ban illegal aliens from public housing programs. The HCD estimates that as many as 5 percent of 25,000 housing units could be affected.

"Fact" 9: 21 radio stations in L.A. are Spanish speaking.
LAT citations: None in the last 10 years.
Factual basis: Estimates vary by source: one website lists 15 Spanish stations out of 78, another lists 18 out of 83.

"Fact" 10: In L.A. County, 5.1 million people speak English. 3.9 million speak Spanish (10.2 million people in L.A.County).
LAT citations: None.
Factual basis: The Census reports that as of the year 2004, 3.9 million people in L.A. County speak only English at home; 3.7 million speak primarily Spanish at home.

Status: Myth busted.

Junior's Reactions to Colbert's Performance

This is just classic. The boy king looks like a combination of bemused and befuddled, sort of like he did when trying to follow the plot of "The Pet Goat" only he doesn't quite like the ending. As Froomkin puts it:
During the showing of Colbert's video -- a fantasy sequence in which he becomes press secretary -- the ABC video keeps the camera right on Bush.

That starts at about 16:40. And if you want to go wild, you can sync that up with the C-SPAN version , which does show the video (starting at 1:23.)

You'll see that Bush chuckles at first. But at 17:55, when NBC's David Gregory asks "Did Karl Rove commit a crime?" Bush's jaw makes that peculiar shifting motion that seems to happen a lot when he's under stress.

At about 19:14, when Hearst columnist and presidential scourge Helen Thomas makes her first appearance on the video, correspondents' association president Mark Smith says something to Bush, which he shrugs off. Was it an apology? (Any lip readers out there?)

And check out the contemptuous head-shake at 19:42, just as Thomas is finally uncorking her seminal question: "Why did you really want to go to war?"

From then on, there are jaw twitches, lip purses and eye squinches aplenty.

There's a wry smile at 22:49. If I'm not mistaken, that's at the point where it looked like Colbert might just possibly run Thomas over with his car.

When the video ends -- "Helen Thomas, ladies and gentlemen!" says Colbert -- Bush responds with very sarcastic-looking, lackluster applause.

Props to STOP George.

Rumsfeld Called Out For His Lies

Ray McGovern, who was in the CIA for twenty seven years asked him why he lied about the run-up to the Iraq war. Rumsfeld then proceeded to lie to McGovern to cover up his earlier statements about WMD's being in Iraq. He also tries to use the troops in his defense, a terrible strategy, but not uncommon unfortunately. Notice, at the end of the clip, Ray gets vilified for asking Rumsfeld some pointed questions. We can't have that, no-no-no.
The Rumsfeld vs McGovern exchange:
Rumsfeld: appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.

McGovern: You said you knew where they were.

Rumsfeld: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were and...

McGovern: You said you knew where they were. Tikrit, Baghdad, northeast, south, west of there. Those are your words.

Rumsfeld: My words-my words were that-no-no, wait a minute--wait a minute. Let him stay one second. Just a second....
The truth (contra Rummy):
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, weapons of mass destruction. Key goal of the military campaign is finding those weapons of mass destruction. None have been found yet. There was a raid on the Answar Al-Islam Camp up in the north last night. A lot of people expected to find ricin there. None was found. How big of a problem is that? And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not at all. If you think -- let me take that, both pieces -- the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
Truth wins by a knockout.

Caption this -

Rumsfeld sez: "She has really huge.....uh.....tracts of land."

Just for you Monty Python fans.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

LA Blacks to Minutemen

"Crackers, go home to your compounds." A clip:
The Minuteman Project, the self-proclaimed citizen border patrol that has emerged as a vocal opponent of illegal immigration, arrived in the heart of South Los Angeles Wednesday hoping to recruit blacks to their cause.

But instead, they were met by protesters, most of them black, who compared the group to the Ku Klux Klan and urged them to take their campaign elsewhere.

The event, billed as the Minuteman Project's launch of a cross-country caravan to Washington, D.C., quickly devolved into a series of shouting matches between two sides punctuated by honking horns and howls from a megaphone.

And the newspaper, radio and TV reporters far outnumbered the participants.

"The Minuteman organization has never had any concern with the black Americans," said Najee Ali, a South L.A. community activist who led the protest. "They don't come into our community and give any assistance to help reduce gang violence, create employment opportunities."


"The same system that wants to criminalize immigration is the same system that disproportionately imprisons black men," yelled Monica Morant, a Los Angeles area resident who decided to protest the event after hearing about it on the radio.

The event had less the feel of a dialogue than of counter-protests.

As Ali chanted "Minutemen go home!" through the bullhorn, Gilchrist treated his message as a metaphorical call to arms.

"Minutemen, stand your ground. Do not fire unless fired upon, and if it's war he wants, then let it begin here," Gilchrist cried.
Hat tip to Manito who has a cool article on nativist vigilantism, and offers his own observations of why this year would be a really, really good year for Dems to do the unthinkable: actually connect with their electoral base (which just so happens to include Latinos and Blacks). And we ain't just talkin' empty rhetoric - we want candidates to actually walk the walk.

And Steve Gilliard sums up the Minutemen's sorry reception thusly:
Yeah. Did they think they could play us off against each other like they aren't racists? Ted Hayes and Jesse Lee Peterson were quite alone in their embrace of failed Congressional candidate Gilchrist.

You know, if you don't like Mexicans, you really are unlikely to like black people.

$100 Per Barrel Oil By This Winter?

The basics provided by New York Daily News:
Tight petroleum supplies amid soaring demand could drive crude oil prices above $100 a barrel by this winter, energy experts warned yesterday.

That could translate into gas prices of more than $5 a gallon at the pump and spike home heating oil an additional 30%, analysts said.

Iran's deputy oil minister, Hadi Nejad Hosseinian, fueled the paranoia yesterday by predicting that crude could hit $100 a barrel by the end of the year - $26 above even yesterday's near-record price.

The problem is that Iran, the world's fourth-largest producer of crude, is just one of several hot spots in danger of boiling over, experts said.

"There's so much that could go wrong right now," said Phil Flynn, an energy analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago. "This is the scariest time we've seen in oil in a long period of time."

In addition to the looming showdown with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, terrorists have repeatedly threatened to attack oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia; Nigerian rebels have disrupted exports by 25%; Iraq is pumping out 30% less crude than it did before the war; production in the Gulf of Mexico has yet to return to normal after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and Bolivian President Evo Morales yesterday seized control of the country's oil and gas fields and gave foreign companies 180 days to agree to new deals with the government.

"We're on a hair trigger," said John Kilduff, senior vice president of energy risk management at Fimat USA, a New York commodities trading firm.

"Unfortunately for consumers, we're on the brink of [$100 a barrel] as we speak," he said. "It's been a parade of horribles."

U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the market is worried about a supply disruption, and "there's no doubt a [fear] premium" is reflected in today's prices.

Crude prices also are being pushed north by soaring demand from developing countries such as China and India, coupled with a razor-thin surplus capacity among exporters.

Bodman said high gasoline prices are a "crisis" for Americans. "It is a crisis in the sense of the individual," Bodman said after a meeting with the Saudi oil minister.

If crude hits $100 a barrel, gas prices could easily top $5 a gallon here and home heating oil could jump an additional 30%, Kilduff said.

"That would be quite painful," he added.
As most of us are well aware, crude oil prices have been hovering around the $70-$75 per barrel point for a bit now, and I don't think too many folks are out there forecasting a return to the days of $30 per barrel at this point in the game. Nor do there appear any prospects for a quick fix - and in America, the land of immediate gratification, that is news that is quite painful indeed.

America, to put it bluntly, pissed away alternative energy research opportunities beginning in the early 1980s when Raygun started his regime. A quarter of a century has been lost, as consumption of a nonrenewable resource has merely continued to grow. Short-sighted policies (by both government and industry alike) coupled with short-sighted consumption were inevitably going to come crashing into reality. This just happens to be that time.

Investigating the profiteering of the Big Oil tycoons would be nice, although I doubt that there are too many members of either party who would have the stomach to take the job seriously. Lame efforts on behalf of Congressional leaders (primarily Republicans) to send consumers $100 checks to provide "relief" are seen correctly by their constituents as election year manipulation which will have no real impact on the pain they are feeling at the pump.

I can console myself with the knowledge that the car I drive gets okay gas mileage, and that I do the things needed to boost efficiency (hint: slow down on the highways and freeways, rather than treat those roads like a drag strip and you'll notice a tangible difference at the pump). As an individual consumer I can't do a whole lot. What needs to happen can only be dealt with at a more macro level - including mandating higher fuel efficiency from not only passenger cars, but trucks and SUVs, switching to alternative fuels, and in the meantime invest in some serious hardcore research on renewable alternative energy sources. In the interim, we'll likely see some changes in living standards that also were inevitable, as our own culture's consumption habits have been unsustainable to say the least.

The world is not the US' oyster. It's way past time to get real.

The Colbert Kerfluffle Continues

A comedian roasts the press corps and the preznit on the night they all show off their best formal attire. The preznit was not amused. Nor, were Beltway pundits like Richard Cohen (which reminds me - does anyone take that clown seriously any more? I didn't think so.). Steve Gilliard has the lowdown on what these folks can't seem to get:
Mr. Colbert wasn't just being funny, he fucking hates you people. He holds you in deep contempt. He's just more artful at saying it than his boss, Jon Stewart. Stewart came out swinging on Crossfire and his contempt for Bob Novak wasn't subtle or hidden. He had the man in a dress.

Colbert walked into a room of people he sees as despicable cowards and killers, and told them that. Of course you didn't like the jokes, but be glad he was making someone laugh. If he had told the truth, Bush would have only been the first to flee the room.

People inside the Beltway have an amazingly inflated opinion of themselves and what they do. Most Americans despise them. They think they are betraying the republic and what it stands for. People consider press as coconspirators in Bush's illegal and immoral war, people out for personal gain.

Colbert was being nice.If you doubt that, just get a tape of the Crossfire Stewart was on. At least Colbert had the courtesy to disguise his contempt in the form of jokes.
It's very simple: the contempt for the business-as-usual crowd inside the Beltway is growing. Our nation's capitol is riddled with arguably the worst scandals in at least a generation if not longer, and is in the midst of a Constitutional crisis - and with few exceptions (Helen Thomas comes to mind), the press folks just take their notes and pretend not to notice, or in some cases blatantly act as propagandists. Colbert's audience in some fundamental ways was not the folks he was roasting in person, but rather those of us outside the belly of the Beast. The contempt that I and many others feel was what Colbert tapped into. He was certainly much nicer than I would have been.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Local coverage of Guymon's Day Without Immigrants Event

The march was delayed but it finally got going at the Texas County Courthouse when about 150 Latinos showed up to protest proposed illegal immigration reform.

Monday was Mexico's labor day. In response to a U.S. House bill which seeks to make illegal immigration a felony, many Latinos didn't go to work or school and chose not to spend their money in order to show the effect they have on the local economy.

Monday's protest was just one of thousands nationwide as latinos show their support for immigrants during their “A Day Without Immigrants” rally.

Maria Gonzales said her kids were going to school but she attended Monday's protest. She said she disagreed with the idea that people who come into the country illegally are criminals.

“To me, a criminal is somebody who kills or rapes, not someone who is just trying to improve their family's life,” Gonzales said.

Crystal Varela, a student at Guymon High School, chose not to attend school in order to protest.

“I have to let them know that we are here,” Varela said.

Varela admitted that school is a priority of hers but she felt protesting was something she needed to do. Varela said while she is an American citizen, her family is not.

The protests were expected, so much so that Guymon's largest private employer, Seaboard Foods, shut down its production in preparation for Monday's rally. Many of their production staff are Latinos.

Rafael Peña said he was glad production was shut down and he wouldn't have gone to work even if he could have.

“Let them know that we are not supposed to be compared to terrorists,” Peña said through a translator. “We are here to help this country.”

Not everybody was pleased with Seaboard's decision not to allow its production employees to work.

“It's bad,” Gregory Chavez said. “That was money that I could have used.”

Chavez was at the protest but said if he would have been allowed to work he would have.

The protestors marched from 1 until 2:30 p.m., when their parade permit was set to expire.

One of the protesters carried a sign that said “We are not criminals. We just want to work.”

They marched from Main Street up Fourth Street and down Railroad Street back to Main.

They started gathering at about 11:30 a.m. but weren't able to start marching until they were given a parade permit.

The instructions that were given to the protesters by organizers said they could only carry American flags.

Most put their Mexican and other countries flags away. However, a few kept them out.

“We are here just to peacefully protest,” said Ben Vega, who was the one that obtained the parade permit. “We don't want to do any harm.”

Vega also praised Seaboard for shutting down its production department, saying that shows that they know who their main employees are in that department.

Guymon Police Sgt. Jeremy Henson said a parade permit is not necessary just to protest. Henson later confirmed that with Guymon Police Chief Garrett Helton.

“You don't have to have a parade permit if you're not a part of a parade,” Henson said.

However, once they start marching and congregating in the street, that is considered a parade and for that they need a parade permit.

“From what I heard from my officers, everything went peacefully,” Helton said. “We only had one arrest and I'm not even sure he was part of the protest group. He was intoxicated.”

Nerdified Link.

Note: the photo was taken by Miranda Gilbert, who is a graduate of OPSU and who currently serves the community as a photojournalist. Looks like the march went fairly well given the small size of Guymon (population 14,000), and was similar in size to the rally staged in April.

¡En solidaridad!

Skippy knows that I know

who coined the term "blogtopia." Who knew? Of course if you haven't paid a visit to the blogger who coined the term "blogtopia", please do, and tell him (and his crew) that I sent you.

Besides, "blogtopia" sounds so much better than "blogistan."

Picture of the day

Via David Neiwert's blog, Orcinus.

Quotable: Goethe

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
Cited in William Blum's Rogue State (3rd ed.)

Yes, Big Brother is watching you.

So many turning points,

so little time.

I have to wonder with all of Bu$hCo's self-proclaimed turning points in Iraq if these clowns know which way they're headed, or if they're coming or going. I wonder if they've cornered the market on turning corners, or if they feel a bit cornered themselves right now.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Shorter New US Army Field Manual Re: Torture

"Don't get caught. We have rules, y'know. We just don't publish them anymore, see. But you can trust us. After all, we have such a spotless track record."

Postscript to "Nativist Hatred"

David Neiwert has a pretty good and extensive overview of the Minutemen and their founder & ties to white supremacists.

Thank You Stephen Colbert

Others have already summarized and analyzed Stephen Colbert's routine at the White House Press Corps Dinner, and I'll refrain from duplicating their efforts. I will say this: Colbert had me practically falling out of my chair with his scathing satirical presentation - he can be rest assured that if no one was laughing at the dinner it was simply that it hit too close to home for those in the room. For those of us in the audience - via CSPAN or the internets - let's just say that there were plenty of us who enjoyed his version of "shock and awe." Some things to check out:

Thank You Stephen Colbert. Includes links to video footage.

You can also read the complete transcript of the procedings.

Steve Gilliard has his own take on Colbert's performance.

Crooks & Liars has a quick and dirty summary.

Fellow Okie bloggers at Cutting to the Chase have their own say here and here.

The corporate media of course tries to prove its increasing irrelevance by ignoring Colbert.

And of course, widdwe Junior's feewings were huwt.

GOP culture of corruption: it ain't just payola!

The Congressional payoff scandal may soon be known as the Congressional sex scandal.

The FBI is now investigating whether hookers were part of the scheme used by defense companies to get lucrative contracts.

We already know about the cash, cars, mansions and yachts that changed hands in the case of disgraced former Congressman Duke Cunningham.

But now sources close to the investigation tell us, as well as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, that sexual favors may have been part of the deal.

The allegations include descriptions of Washington, D.C. poker parties in hotel suites, where prostitutes were brought by limousine as part of the entertainment.

No comment from the owner of the limousine company, a man with a long criminal record who just happened to get a $20 million contract to provide limousine service for the Department of Homeland Security.
Nerdified Link

Nativist Hatred

OAKLAND, California, May 2 (IPS) - Even as millions of people demonstrated across the U.S. Monday to call for amnesty for the nation's 11 million undocumented workers, other events have shed more heat than light and turned into boisterous anti-immigrant gatherings where violence against immigrants has become a rallying cry.

On Apr. 27 -- four days before a mass movement that includes undocumented workers, legal immigrants and U.S. citizens refused to go to work or school in observation of the "Great American Boycott" -- more than 1,000 people attended an anti-immigrant meeting called "Demagnetise America" in Franklin, Tennessee.

Those in attendance heard Nashville radio talk show host Phil Valentine say that he thought that U.S. Border Patrol Agents should consider shooting undocumented immigrants as they come across the border.

According to the news story posted at the website of the Centre for New Community's Building Democracy Initiative, Susan Tully, the national field director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) -- present at the event -- "chuckled at the idea, while the large crowd erupted into applause".

The meeting was hosted by Valentine and broadcast over
SuperTalk 99.7 WTN radio.

Devin Burghart, an expert on nativism at the Chicago, Illinois-based civil rights organisation, told IPS that the Centre for New Community "was the first organisation to report on Valentine's shooting remark".

According to Burghart, the centre has received a number of reports of veiled threats of violence coming from radio talk show hosts in other parts of the country as well.

"In early March, Brian James, a fill-in talk radio show host with Phoenix AM radio station KFYI, suggested on the air that a solution to the immigration problem in Arizona would be to kill undocumented immigrants as they cross the border. 'What we'll do is randomly pick one night every week where we will kill whoever crosses the border,' James said in the broadcast. 'Step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it's your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun.'"

Burghart pointed out that "James said that he'd be 'happy to sit there with my high-powered rifle and my night scope' and kill people as the cross the border. He also suggested that the National Guard shoot illegal immigrants and receive '100 dollars a head.'"

Even worse than the increasingly violent rhetoric is the marked increase in violent incidents, most recently exemplified by "the brutal attack in the Houston suburb of Spring, Texas, where two white power skinheads attacked a 16-year-old Latino, brutally sexually assaulting him with a PVC pipe, and stomping his head with their boots while cursing him as being a Mexican," Burghart said.

Recently, two civil rights organisations, the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC)
and the Anti-Defamation League, issued reports documenting the rise in both violence and the threat of violence against undocumented immigrants.

The SPLC recently reported that Laine Lawless of the anti-immigrant group, the Border Guardians, has repeatedly called for violence against undocumented workers.

An e-mail dated Apr. 3 and sent to Mark Martin, commander of the Western Ohio unit of the National Socialist Movement, was titled, ''How to GET RID OF THEM!''

According to SPLC's report, Lawless, who was an original member of Chris Simcox's
vigilante militia before it became the Minuteman Project in early 2005, suggested a number of ways to harass and terrorise undocumented immigrants, including robbery and ''beating up illegals'' as they leave their workplace.

''Make every illegal alien feel the heat of being a person without status... I hear the rednecks in the South are beating up illegals as the textile mills have closed. Use your imagination,'' Lawless wrote.

''Discourage Spanish-speaking children from going to school. Be creative,'' she said.

''Create an anonymous propaganda campaign warning that any further illegal immigrants will be shot, maimed or seriously messed-up upon crossing the border. This should be fairly easy to do, considering the hysteria of the Spanish language press, and how they view the Minutemen as 'racists and vigilantes.'''

In the e-mail, Lawless urged her followers to ''Make every illegal alien feel the heat of being a person without status ... I hear the rednecks in the South are beating up illegals as the textile mills have closed. Use your imagination.''

Lawless also suggested that Spanish-speaking children should be "discouraged" from going to school.

In its report entitled "Extremists Declare 'Open Season' on Immigrants: Hispanics Target of Incitement and Violence", the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) examines "how white supremacists, racist skinheads and others identifying with far-right extremist groups are using the national debate over immigration reform as a means to encourage likeminded racists to speak out, or even commit violent acts against immigrants".

"This report reminds us that there is a direct connection between the national policy debate and the atmosphere surrounding the daily lives of immigrants," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director.

"Extremist groups are seeking to exploit the flow of foreign workers into this country to spread a message of xenophobia, to promote hateful stereotypes and to incite bigotry and violence against Hispanics, regardless of their status as citizens."

While the overwrought Phil Valentine and Brian James, and a handful of neo-Nazi groups have openly advocated violence against the undocumented, anti-immigrant politicos and several cable news television personalities have contributed to the increasingly toxic climate.

On Apr. 24, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a longtime media watchdog group, issued a press release pointing out that anti-immigrant fervour was being stirred up on a regular basis by Lou Dobbs, the host of CNN's nightly programme "Lou Dobbs Tonight."

FAIR pointed out that "Dobbs' tone on immigration is consistently alarmist; he warns his viewers of Mexican immigrants who see themselves as an 'army of invaders' intent upon re-annexing parts of the Southwestern U.S. to Mexico, announces that 'illegal alien smugglers and drug traffickers are on the verge of ruining some of our national treasures,' and declares that 'the invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans' through 'deadly imports' of diseases like leprosy and malaria."

Jack Cafferty, a CNN personality who contributes to the afternoon programme "The Situation Room," "has attacked and belittled immigrants' rights protesters while ignoring or dismissing their concerns several times in recent weeks."

When asked about the increase in violent rhetoric and incidents against undocumented immigrants, Burghart said that, "Unable to muster even a fraction of the numbers that immigrant rights supporters have turned out, and fearful that Congress will pass some form of a 'guest worker' programme, the ramp up of these calls to violence is symptomatic of a nativist movement that has grown increasingly desperate and ever more radical."

"This new nativism is grounded in violence: from the hysterical 'invasion' and 'civil war' rhetoric, to the racist 'reconquista' conspiracy theories, to the dehumanising of immigrants, to the calls to form militias to 'round up' immigrants and worse. It's always been there, the current context has just pushed that violent undercurrent to the surface."
Nerdified Link.

Perspectives on Primero de Mayo

Now that the day is done, here's some commentary I've stumbled upon:

Dave Zirin, in noting the demographic makeup of Major League Béisbol ponders the possibilities of a day without Pujols:
Of the top ten hitters in the National League, six are from Latin America including reigning Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols. In the American League, five of the top ten are Latino, including batting leader and 2003 MVP Miguel Tejada. Latinos dominate the pantheon of the games superstars like never before. Eight of the last 10 AL MVPs have been won by immigrants, seven by Latinos. In the thirty years before that, the number was three (Jose Canseco, Willie Hernandez, and the immortal George Bell). At this past springs World Baseball Classic, the new reality was laid bare, showcasing a US team that couldn't compete with its Latin American or Asian rivals.

This is a result of a profound demographic shift that has saved baseball from the sporting scrap heap. Currently 36% of Major League players were born in Latin America. According to ESPN Deportes this number will reach 50% in the next twenty years. Almost one third of all minor leaguers are from the Dominican Republic alone. Of course much of this is a function of Major League owners searching for talent on the cheap, setting up baseball academies south of the border where players can be signed in their early teens for pennies, and then discarded if they don't make the cut. As one player said to me, "The options in the DR are jail, the army, the factory, or baseball." Many prospects make it to the United States for minor league ball and then stay, illegally, to chase the dream of never working to death in a factory. The outer boroughs of New York City are filled with semi-pro teams of men on the other side of thirty still thirsting for that contract, hoping it comes before the INS comes knocking on their door.

No Major League player has come out publicly (yet) and said they are joining the national boycott. Doing so would be more than a mere act of solidarity. Despite the prominent role they play in the game, there is only one owner of Latino descent, one general manager, and only a handful of managers. Players routinely speak about being mocked by reporters for their lack of English skills, and denigrated in the press. Like All Star Moises Alou said last year, "In the minor leagues, people think all Dominicans, Mexicans and Venezuelans are dumb."You think if a guy doesn't speak English it's because he's stupid. You go to the Dominican and try to have conversation in Spanish, and see how easy it is." 15 games are set for May 1st. They would show how important they have become to the game by nursing that blister on their foot and staying home. No Pedro, no Manny, no Pujols, no baseball.
XicanoPwr had a fairly extensive roundup of the day's activities both in the US and outside its borders. Manito offers his own roundup. Ductape Fatwa did some live blogging, and followed up with some thoughts on the pandemic of hatred.

Last Friday, Planet Grenada had this cool post, "jose can you see..." that provides the Spanish translation of the US national anthem (along with its English version), and in which he offers some apt thoughts:
How do you affirm the best parts of what it means to be American, while rejecting the harmful government policies, the racist history, the religious discrimination, etc. which are often deeply intertwined mainstream expressions of "patriotism". One line which sums up a lot of the poem went, "I love this country with the love of a mechanic: when something is broke, you fix it." Another idea had to do with being an American, but on your own terms. My parents didn't leave Cuba because they thought Spanish was an ugly language or because they preferred hamburgers and french fries to yucca and frijoles negros. They came here to be free. For me, that's what this song is about.
Food for thought.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Heil Bu$hCo! It's Also "Loyalty (Oath) Day"

Image via The All Spin Zone.

Update: Steve Gilliard offers Bu$hCo's "loyalty day" proclamation in German and Russian (along with a nifty pic of Stalin).

Mission Accomplished - Three Years On

May 1st, 2006 will be the 3rd Anniversary of the end of "major combat" in Iraq. It was a glorious day when George Bush flew onto the deck of the Abraham Lincoln and was hailed by the rapturous throngs of toadie "news" persons such as Chris Matthews ("And that's the president looking very much like a jet, you know, a high-flying jet star," Hardball, May 1, 2003) and Bob Schieffer ("As far as I'm concerned, that was one of the great pictures of all time. And if you're a political consultant, you can just see campaign commercial written all over the pictures of George Bush." Meet the Press, May 4, 2003). What a fast and clean war! G. Gordon Liddy was enthralled with the president's package ("all those women who say size doesn't count -- they're all liars." Hardball, May 7, 2003) and a new era free from terrorism was ushered in.

This is the faith based fable of what happened almost exactly three years ago. The reality based scenario goes something like this:

*Over 2400 American soldiers (including my son who was killed almost a year after Mission Accomplished Day) have come home in cardboard boxes in cargo areas of planes in the secrecy of the night.

*Thousands of our young people wounded, many grievously also bused into Walter Reed and other hospitals in the dark of the night.

*Tons of rubble upon rubble in Iraq with inconsistent electrical power still and not much clean water or chance of future power and clean water.

*Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians are dead, being punished for the sins of a leader who was propped up, armed and supported by many US Regimes.

The Mission Accomplished Day (or, Operation Codpiece) public relations' dream for the presidential pelvic zone has turned into a frighteningly real nightmare for so many people around the world who have had sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and oftentimes entire families wiped out and devastated by the strutting and smirking terrorist who was feeling mighty "chipper" last night at the Washington Correspondent's annual dinner as the 2400 th soldier was being killed and as the 2400th Gold Star Mother was falling on the floor screaming for her child. There are hundreds of thousands of people on our planet who will have a hard time ever feeling chipper again because of George Bush, no matter how good he looks in a flight suit.

Now that BushCo has done such a fantastic job with the invasion and occupation of Iraq that never should have happened, but now that it has happened is extraordinarily evil in its scope and tactics, he is warning Iran that if it doesn't shape up the US is going to come and impose freedom and democracy on that country. The rah-rah, "yes, sir" Congress who has an easy job of approving everything that George Bush does, thereby eliminating critical thinking, debate, or any semblance of rational discussion has voted for sanctions that will lead to an attack on Iran which will be devastating for our troops in Iraq and for that poor region that had the unfortunate luck to be built upon tremendous oil and natural gas reserves.

Only 21 Congress people voted "nay" on the Iran Freedom Support Act which is incredible considering what happened when they voted "yea" to give George Bush the green light for every sanction against Iraq and to invade it. I ran into one of the "yea" voters on the Iran Freedom Support Act, Rep. Major Owens, and I asked him why he voted that way. He said it was because he hated the "evil" regime of Iran. I asked him about our own evil, irresponsible regime! The radical President of Iran says very irresponsible and inflammatory things, but by all accounts is over a decade away from a nuclear weapon and is reigned in by the mullahs and the young population of Iran that is very westernized. We are in trouble with our one party system of government, which is the War Party.

Before we the people need to be subjected to another swaggering spectacle from George after he has bombed Iran back into the stone ages and has made we the people of the United States of America even more hated around the world, it is time to rein him in ourselves. Congress won't do it and the media is falling into lockstep behind the murder again.

It is time to fire the warniks whose bloodlust cannot be slated and hire people who will finally use their wisdom, integrity, and non-violence to solve problems, and won't create imaginary problems out of smoke and mirrors. We need a Congress that will hold George accountable not one that is complicit in the war crimes.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "We must live together as brothers, or perish together as fools." God protect us from the fools that we elected to protect us!
Nerdified Link

A friendly reminder from The Left End of the Dial:

Today's May Day.

If you're curious about the origins of May Day, read here. It may well be the most ancient religious festival worldwide - primarily a homage to fertility goddesses as well as the renewal of life that we see in the spring time.

In more modern times, May Day is significant as the original labor day, and is tied with the struggle by organized labor movements to get the 8-hour work day that many of us take for granted recognized.

And of course, it is also the Great American Boycott 2006.

¡En solidaridad!

Monday Morning Open Thread

Today's featured cats are Spot and Sheila. Photo credits go to my wife.

So, what's on your mind?

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Click the picture for more thoughts and info. See also, Why Monday, May 1st Matters, and Great American Boycott 2006: events for May 1. For old time's sake, I'd like to reprise an Irish blessing that Manito posted on St. Patrick's day:
We're on this Earth together,
And if we would be brothers,
Fight not just on your own behalf
But for the sake of others.
Paz y solidaridad.