Friday, March 31, 2006


Immigration: Another Perspective......

The New Civil Rights Movement
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 31 March 2006

In a wave of mass protest not seen since the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand justice for the undocumented. An unprecedented alliance between labor unions, immigrant support groups, churches, and Spanish-language radio and television has fueled the burgeoning civil rights movement.

The demonstrations were triggered by the confluence of a draconian House bill that would make felons out of undocumented immigrants and HBO's broadcast of Edward James Olmos's film, "Walkout." But the depth of discontent reflects a history of discrimination against those who are branded "illegal aliens."

Since September 11, 2001, immigrants have become the whipping boys for the "war on terror." Calls for enhanced militarization of the southern US border - including a 700-mile-long Sisyphean fence - reached a crescendo in the bill passed by the House of Representatives.

Under its terms, three million US-citizen children could be separated from their parents, who would be declared felons and be subject to immediate detention and deportation. Those who employ them, and churches and nonprofits that support them, could face fines or even prison.

Cardinal Roger Mahony called it a "blameful, vicious" bill, and vowed to continue serving the undocumented even if it were outlawed.

Immigrants comprise one-third of California's labor force. But claims that immigrants take jobs away from Americans are overblown. Last summer, California suffered from labor shortages in spite of the high percentage of undocumented workers who labor in the fields.

As a likely result of pressure from business dependent on cheap labor and the escalating protests around the country, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that strikes a more reasonable balance. It would legalize the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants, and provide them with the opportunity to become citizens. They would have to remain employed, pass criminal background checks, learn English and civics, and pay fines and back taxes. A temporary worker program would allow about 400,000 foreign nationals to enter the United States each year; they too could be granted citizenship.

The current debate in the full Senate has focused on accusations and denials of "amnesty" and threats to national security. But the "immigration problem" is more complex than the sound bytes that proliferate. Seventy-eight percent of the 11 million undocumented immigrants are from Mexico or other Latin American countries.

According to Michael Lettieri, a Research Fellow with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, "The free trade accords that the Bush administration so tirelessly promotes do little to remedy such maladies, as both NAFTA and CAFTA-DR leave regional agricultural sectors profoundly vulnerable, as well as disadvantaged, in the face of robustly subsidized US agribusiness that enables Iowa to undersell Mexico when it comes to corn."

The US was instrumental in the passage of NAFTA, which protects the rights of employers and investors but not workers. As a result of NAFTA, wages in Mexico, Canada and the United States have fallen. US food exports have driven millions of poor Mexican peasants from their communities. They come north to find work.

Seventeen-year-old Carlos Moreno was among the thousands of students in Los Angeles who walked out of their high schools to protest the attack on immigrants. "I was born here," he said, "but I'm doing it for my parents, and for my family, and for all the Latinos, because I know what the struggle is."

Sergio, an undocumented tenth grader from San Diego High School, attended a rally in San Diego's historic Chicano Park. "My parents are proud of me," he said. "They told me that I should help every time I can."

A few years ago, San Diego filmmakers Issac and Judith Artenstein released "A Day Without a Mexican." In the film, all of the Mexicans in California disappeared one day. Gone were the cooks, gardeners, nannies, policemen, doctors, farm and construction workers, entertainers, athletes, as well as the largest growing market of consumers. The world's fifth largest economy was paralyzed.

Today we celebrate the birthday of César Chávez, one of the most influential labor leaders this country has ever known. In the 1970s, when undocumented workers crossed the border and went to work in California's fields for lower wages than employers had to pay union members, the United Farm Workers began to call the migra to have them deported. Eventually, César realized that a much better solution was to organize those immigrants into the union.

The answer is not to shut out those who work for less than minimum wage, without workers' compensation, occupational safety protections, and overtime pay. "It is a common-sense solution to bring an underground economy above ground," Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said, "with strong labor protections to improve working conditions for all."


Immigration: A different perspective..... but important to understand.

Today's Immigration Battle - Corporatists vs. Racists (and Labor is Left Behind)

by Thom Hartmann

The corporatist Republicans ("amnesty!") are fighting with the racist Republicans ("fence!"), and it provides an opportunity for progressives to step forward with a clear solution to the immigration problem facing America.

Both the corporatists and the racists are fond of the mantra, "There are some jobs Americans won't do." It's a lie.

Americans will do virtually any job if they're paid a decent wage. This isn't about immigration - it's about economics. Industry and agriculture won't collapse without illegal labor, but the middle class is being crushed by it.

The reason why thirty years ago United Farm Workers' Union (UFW) founder Caesar Chavez fought against illegal immigration, and the UFW turned in illegals during his tenure as president, was because Chavez, like progressives since the 1870s, understood the simple reality that labor rises and falls in price as a function of availability.

As Wikipedia notes: "In 1969, Chavez and members of the UFW marched through the Imperial and Coachella Valley to the border of Mexico to protest growers' use of illegal aliens as temporary replacement workers during a strike. Joining him on the march were both the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and U.S. Senator Walter Mondale. Chavez and the UFW would often report suspected illegal aliens who served as temporary replacement workers as well as who refused to unionize to the INS."

Working Americans have always known this simple equation: More workers, lower wages. Fewer workers, higher wages.

Progressives fought - and many lost their lives in the battle - to limit the pool of "labor hours" available to the Robber Barons from the 1870s through the 1930s and thus created the modern middle class. They limited labor-hours by pushing for the 50-hour week and the 10-hour day (and then later the 40-hour week and the 8-hour day). They limited labor-hours by pushing for laws against child labor (which competed with adult labor). They limited labor-hours by working for passage of the 1935 Wagner Act that provided for union shops.

And they limited labor-hours by supporting laws that would regulate immigration into the United States to a small enough flow that it wouldn't dilute the unionized labor pool. As Wikipedia notes: "The first laws creating a quota for immigrants were passed in the 1920s, in response to a sense that the country could no longer absorb large numbers of unskilled workers, despite pleas by big business that it wanted the new workers."

Do a little math. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 7.6 million unemployed Americans right now. Another 1.5 million Americans are no longer counted because they've become "long term" or "discouraged" unemployed workers. And although various groups have different ways of measuring it, most agree that at least another five to ten million Americans are either working part-time when they want to work full-time, or are "underemployed," doing jobs below their level of training, education, or experience. That's between eight and twenty million un- and under-employed Americans, many unable to find above-poverty-level work.

At the same time, there are between seven and fifteen million working illegal immigrants diluting our labor pool.

If illegal immigrants could no longer work, unions would flourish, the minimum wage would rise, and oligarchic nations to our south would have to confront and fix their corrupt ways.

Between the Reagan years - when there were only around 1 to 2 million illegal aliens in our workforce - and today, we've gone from about 25 percent of our private workforce being unionized to around seven percent. Much of this is the direct result - a Caesar Chavez predicted - of illegal immigrants competing directly with unionized and legal labor. Although it's most obvious in the construction trades over the past 30 years, it's hit all sectors of our economy.

Democratic Party strategist Ann Lewis just sent out a mass email on behalf of former Wal-Mart Board of Directors member and now US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. In it, Lewis noted that Clinton suggests we should have: "An earned path to citizenship for those already here working hard, paying taxes, respecting the law, and willing to meet a high bar for becoming a citizen." Sounds nice. The same day, on his radio program, Rush Limbaugh told a woman whose husband is an illegal immigrant that she had nothing to worry about with regard to deportation of him or their children because all he'd have to do - under the new law under consideration - is pay a small fine and learn English.

The current Directors of Wal-Mart are smiling.

Meanwhile, the millions of American citizens who came to this nation as legal immigrants, who waited in line for years, who did the hard work to become citizens, are feeling insulted, humiliated, and conned.

Shouldn't we be compassionate? Of course.

But there is nothing compassionate about driving down the wages of any nation's middle class. It's the most cynical, self-serving, greedy, and sociopathic behavior you'll see from our "conservatives."

There is nothing compassionate about being the national enabler of a dysfunctional oligarchy like Mexico. An illegal workforce in the US sending an estimated $17 billion to Mexico every year - second only in national income to that country's oil revenues - supports an antidemocratic, anti-worker, hyperconservative administration there that gleefully ships out of that nation the "troublesome" Mexican citizens - those lowest on the economic food-chain and thus most likely to present "labor unrest" - to the USA. Mexico (and other "sending nations") need not deal with their own social and economic problems so long as we're willing to solve them for them - at the expense of our middle class. Democracy in Central and South America be damned - there are profits to be made for Wal-Mart!

Similarly, there is nothing compassionate about handing higher profits (through a larger and thus cheaper work force) to the CEOs of America's largest corporations and our now-experiencing-record-profits construction and agriculture industries.

What about caring for people in need? Isn't that the universal religious/ethical value? Of course.

A few years ago, when my family and I were visiting Europe, one of our children fell sick. A doctor came to the home of the people we were staying with, visited our child at 11 pm on a weeknight, left behind a course of antibiotics, and charged nothing. It was paid for by that nation's universal health care system. We should offer the same to any human being in need of medical care - a universal human right - in the United States.

But if I'd applied to that nation I was visiting for a monthly unemployment or retirement check, I would have been laughed out of the local government office. And if I'd been caught working there, I would have been deported within a week. Caring for people in crisis/need is very different from giving a job or a monthly welfare check to non-citizens. No nation - even those in Central and South America - will do that. And neither should the United States.

But if illegal immigrants won't pick our produce or bus our tables won't our prices go up? (The most recent mass-emailed conservative variation of this argument, targeting paranoid middle-class Americans says: "Do you want to pay an extra $10,000 for your next house?") The answer is simple: Yes.

But wages would also go up, and even faster than housing or food prices. And CEO salaries, and corporate profits, might moderate back to the levels they were during the "golden age of the American middle class" between the 1940s and Reagan's declaration of war on the middle class in the 1980s.

We saw exactly this scenario played out in the US fifty years ago, when unions helped regulate entry into the workforce, 35 percent of American workers had a union job, and 70 percent of Americans could raise a family on a single, 40-hour-week paycheck. All working Americans would gladly pay a bit more for their food if their paychecks were both significantly higher and more secure. (This would even allow for an increase in the minimum wage - as it did from the 1930s to the 1980s.)

But what about repressive regimes? Aren't we denying entrance to this generation's equivalent of the Jews fleeing Germany? This is the most tragic of all the arguments put forward by conservatives in the hopes compassionate progressives will bite. Our immigration policies already allow for refugees - and should be expanded. It's an issue that needs more national discussion and action. But giving a free pass to former Coca-Cola executive Vincente Fox to send workers to the US - and thus avoid having to deal with his own corrupt oligarchy - and to equate this to the Holocaust is an insult to the memory of those who died in Hitler's death camps - and to those suffering in places like Darfur under truly repressive regimes. There is no equivalence.

It's frankly astonishing to hear "progressives" reciting corporatist/racist/conservative talking points, recycled through "conservative Democratic" politicians trying to pander to the relatively small percentage of recently-legal (mostly through recent amnesties or birth) immigrants who are trying to get their relatives into this country by means of Bush's proposed guest worker program or the many variations thereof being proposed.

It's equally astonishing to hear the few unions going along with this (in the sad/desperate hope of picking up new members) turn their backs on Caesar Chavez and the traditions and history of America's Progressive and Union movements by embracing illegal immigration.

Every nation has an obligation to limit immigration to a number that will not dilute its workforce, but will maintain a stable middle class - if it wants to have a stable democracy. This has nothing to do with race, national origin, or language (visit Switzerland with it's ethnic- and language-dived areas!), and everything to do with economics.

Without a middle class, any democracy is doomed. And without labor having - through control of labor availability - power in relative balance to capital/management, no middle class can emerge. America's early labor leaders did not die to increase the labor pool for the Robber Barons or the Walton family - they died fighting to give control of it to the workers of their era and in the hopes that we would continue to hold it - and infect other nations with the same idea of democracy and a stable middle class.

The simple way to do this today is to require that all non-refugee immigrants go through the same process to become American citizens or legal workers in this country (no amnesties, no "guest workers," no "legalizations") regardless of how they got here; to confront employers who hire illegals with draconian financial and criminal penalties; and to affirm that while health care (and the right to provide humanitarian care to all humans) is an absolute right for all people within our boundaries regardless of status, a paycheck, education, or subsidy is not.

The Republican (and Democratic) corporatists who want a cheap labor force, and the Republican (and Democratic) racists who want to build a fence and punish humanitarian aid workers, are equally corrupt and anti-progressive. As long as employers are willing and able (without severe penalties) to hire illegal workers, people will risk life and limb to grab at the America Dream. When we stop hiring and paying them, most will leave of their own volition over a few years, and the remaining few who are committed to the US will obtain citizenship through normal channels.

This is, after all, the middle-class "American Dream." And how much better this hemisphere would be if Central and South Americans were motivated to stay in their own nations (because no employer in the US would dare hire them) and fight there for a Mexican Dream and a Salvadoran Dream and a Guatemalan Dream (and so on).

This is the historic Progressive vision for all of the Americas...


Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show carried on the Air America Radio network and Sirius. His most recent books include "What Would Jefferson Do?" and "Ultimate Sacrifice" (co-authored with Lamar Waldron). His next book, due out this autumn, is "Screwed: The Undeclared War on the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It."


Immigration: The issue has many opinions....

Immigrants? It's Their Country
Tony Hendra

The furious debate of the last few days about whether or not controls should be tightened against illegal immigration and penalties slapped on those who have the temerity to work wherever they can find jobs has a great void at its center. The power-structure but especially the right, who by now have stopped bothering to conceal that 70-80% of their foreign and domestic policies are racist to the core, seemed to have forgotten something.

You call them 'illegals'? Uh-uh. Not very many generations ago -- a mere squirrel-blink in the 50,000+ years' life of the human race -- this was their country. You can see it in their Mayan cheekbones and stolid Olmec physiques and almond Aztec eyes. All those red states trumpeting their Americanness along the southern border -- Arizona, New Mexico et al., above all Texas -- are populated not just by immigrants but by very recent immigrants, and lest we forget, murdering, thieving, land-grabbing and land-devastating immigrants who practiced early but highly effective forms of biological warfare, ethnic cleansing and good old genocide. The spectacle of Republican -- and Democrat -- lawmakers with German, Irish, Italian, English, Polish and a dozen other kinds of Indo-European names standing up in Congress and sanctimoniously bloviating about the moral fiber, alien lifestyles, work ethic and financial reliability of real Americans, the Americans whose homeland this has been, for oh, 20-30,000 years, is hilarious to behold. Somewhere Texans, Arizonans et al seem to have gotten the impression that they actually have a right to live on the lands their grandfathers stole at the point of a gun. This is even more hilarious when the bloviator in question belongs to the party nominally led by the cretin from Crawford who is not just an immigrant like the rest of us, but -- despite his faux-cracker accent -- the son of a carpetbagger.

David Brooks' excruciatingly patronizing column on immigration in the NYT a couple days ago gives you a pretty good idea of what the underlying issues really are. A. will these new 'immigrants' share the good solid family values of our divorce-wracked, gun-toting, drug-slurping, morbidly obese, self-obsessed, environment-raping, terminally corrupt and militarized society? B. can they be relied upon within a generation or so, to acquire a mortgaged-to-the-hilt ticky-tacky living box, buy the 5-10 thousand largely unnecessary Wal-mart gadgets and trinkets deemed to render a person respectable, keep their front lawns trim at all times, not voice unorthodox opinions, especially in the form of signs on the aforementioned lawns; not play loud music after 10 pm or fart in the supermarket? C. will they be Republicans or -- s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g...e-l-s-e?

Brooks expresses the petty-minded Babittry that in our times has absurdly appropriated to itself the august term 'conservative' A mentality that has nothing to do with conserving anything, (or respecting tradition or preserving the ancient). If it makes a buck tear it down, if it's pristine, fill it up with junk and sell it.

Brooks and his fellow Babitts embody the narrow-headed obsession with money, taxes, regulation, profit and property, the concomitant obsession with the minutiae of class and status, the suffocating priorities that insist on the mortal dangers presented by the dissenting, the different, the Other, always judging itself to be 'better' in every way -- but especially morally -- than its neighbor, that believes deep in its shallow soul that the earth-hostile suburban cocoon it has created will somehow protect it from the inescapable realities of life: disease, disaster, age and death. In a word the latest version of that bane of freedom, creativity, generosity of spirit and human respect, the bourgeoisie.

When Marx identified the bourgeoisie as the prime enemy he got it exactly right. You don't have to subscribe to the rest of his ideas to thank him for that.

They've always been with us the bourgeoisie: you can see them in the rigid grid on which most American towns and cities were laid out; you can see it in the fussy, claustrophobic, pokey, dark-roomed houses, with their ugly gingerbread and idiot turrets and gloomy porches -- an earlier era's version of conspicuous consumption, the precursors of Macmansions -- that yuppies across the nation are snapping up and renovating 'with pride' as if they represented something admirable about the nation's brief history. You can read about the bourgeoisie first hand in the brilliant acerbic melancholy literature of the '20s and '30s, writers who saw through the thin veneer of civilization slapped on a chaotic society built on greed, violence and injustice, even as it was a-borning.

What if these 'illegal' Americans brought with them not a hunger for a Wal-mart society but transformative values, that challenged the petty-fogging priorities of the bourgeoisie, aka nice respectable Republicans? Perhaps -- having been battered and crushed so long -- they'll have an aversion to war and a military-corporate economy whose core is war -- the pacific Olmecs after all built their towns without walls. Perhaps with a modicum of prosperity they'll promote an affirmation of nature and community -- instead of their opposites -- a respect for the ancient and the wise: deep conservatism, instead of the egocentric, hypocritical petty-bourgeois clap-trap we have to endure.

It's worth trying. At the very least we have an obligation to allow true Americans access to any part of their ancestral lands they feel like occupying. Morally speaking it's time we did something to expiate the crimes on which the country was built. And if Jose or Tomas takes work from some crank-sniffing, beer-swilling, gas-guzzling, Bush-loving redneck who cheats, swindles and steals from every employer he works for, well, so much the better.

Border patrols? Better documentation? 'Guest' workers? Harsher penalties for undocumented 'illegals'? It's all bullshit. Historically and morally we're the illegals.

Here's a thought. Simple, inexpensive and avoids all those goldarn regulations the right hates so much. Set up wide arches of garlands every single mile along the southern border. Officials -- or volunteers -- at every arch have explicit instructions to warmly welcome all who want to pass through and offer them work wherever they wish. As they pass through, roses should be strewn in their path and profound apologies offered to them one by one.

It's not much but it's the least we can do.


Definition of Xenophobia: Dana Rohrabacher Republican of California; would rather employ prisoners than foreigners.

Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, dismissed arguments made by President Bush and business leaders who say the United States needs a pool of foreign workers. He said businesses should be more creative in their efforts to find help and suggested that employers turn to the prison population to fill jobs in agriculture and elsewhere.

"Let the prisoners pick the fruits," Mr. Rohrabacher said. "We can do it without bringing in millions of foreigners."

I'm guessing that soon Mr. Rohrabacher will be suggesting we build concentration camps for a better source of cheap labor.


Howard Kaloogian uses photo of Turkish street to "Prove" that the "Media" are spreading false information about Iraq. Huh?

March 30th, 2006 3:52 pm
CAMPAIGN 2006: Candidate admits 'stupid' Web error

Conservative uses photo of Turkey, calls it Baghdad

By Carla Marinucci / San Francisco Chronicle

A leading conservative California congressional candidate who has made support for the war in Iraq a central issue acknowledged Wednesday that a campaign Web site photo -- billed as a peaceful street scene taken during his recent trip to Baghdad -- was actually photographed in Turkey.

Howard Kaloogian, the former GOP assemblyman running for the seat vacated by disgraced 50th Congressional District Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, said using the photo was "a stupid mistake'' and acknowledged in an interview Wednesday that it was brought to his attention recently by bloggers and activists on the left.

"It was wrong. We're sorry,'' Kaloogian said of the peaceful street scene from Istanbul labeled as depicting downtown Baghdad. He said his staff mistakenly put the photo on the site.

The campaign posted the photo from Kaloogian's July trip to Iraq, a mission dubbed the "Truth Tour" and organized to "tell the American people about the accomplishments (troops) are making in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the fight against terrorism,'' according to the tax-exempt group Move America Forward, a conservative grassroots organization Kaloogian helped found.

The caption read that "we took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq'' which is "much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it -- in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism.''

But bloggers on the popular liberal Daily Kos Web site revealed the photo depicted a street scene in Turkey.

Kaloogian said the photo was taken during a layover in Istanbul and was mixed up with those taken on the Iraq tour -- whose participants included conservative talk show hosts such as San Francisco's Melanie Morgan of KSFO.

While regrettable, he said, the mistake "doesn't change my message ... that good things are happening in Baghdad that you're not reading about in the daily papers.''

With two weeks until the April 11 special election to replace Cunningham in the San Diego County congressional district, Kaloogian's mistake may be the latest cautionary tale about the unforgiving transparency of political campaigns in the Internet age.

"It's a warning,'' says Barbara O'Connor, professor of political communication at Cal State Sacramento. "These campaign sites are fair game for anyone -- and if you put it up, you better be prepared to defend it. ... And that's as it should be.''

Recent postings on Daily Kos show that bloggers publicly questioned the authenticity of the Kaloogian photo. Some debated details that seemed unlikely in war-torn Iraq -- commercial signs on the street in Turkish, not Arabic; strollers wearing Western-style clothing and holding hands, and billboards carrying ads for high-end products such as Oakley sunglasses.

Kaloogian and his campaign strategist, Sal Russo, confirmed Wednesday what the bloggers alleged -- that the photo was taken in Turkey -- though they insisted it was an honest mistake.

The candidate said he hadn't recognized the error because "the military asked us to use our discretion and put things on the Internet that were nondescriptive ... (because) if we posted something that was easily identifiable, it could be a target."

The news could affect the 50th District election to replace Cunningham, now serving an eight-year federal prison term for bribery and corruption. The election in the Republican-dominated area has been a combative slugfest -- with 14 Republicans battling for their party's nomination.

Markos Moulitsas, the Berkeley-based founder of the Daily Kos, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle: "That this photo was recognized as a fake was amazing. That someone actually tracked down another photo of that very street corner in an obscure suburb of Istanbul, Turkey, is downright mind-boggling.

"The political landscape changes dramatically when you have hundreds of thousands of people doing real-time research into campaigns and candidates,'' Moulitsas said. "In years past, people would've taken Kaloogian at his word that the photo in an e-mail was from Baghdad."


Bush: Like a Blind Pig Stumbles on a Nut: The Truth.

All the 'Good News' From Iraq
By Stephen Pizzo, News for Real
Posted on March 25, 2006, Printed on March 31, 2006

I bet you guys didn't really listen to President Bush this week. Too bad, because for once he told the truth. I listened, heard the truth and checked it out. And, as he promised, it was a real eye-opener.

It happened at one of Bush's fake "town hall meetings" this week. An Army wife asked Bush why the mainstream media only focuses on "the bad news" from Iraq and never reports "the good news." Bush furrowed his brow and nodded in agreement. Earlier in the week the administration launched a Vietnam-era-style "blame the media" campaign to explain plummeting public support for both the war and Bush himself.

The woman's question offered Bush an opportunity for another anti-media riff on that theme. He sympathized with her distress and suggested (pay attention -- here comes the truth part) that she should turn to alternative sources for news, "like the internet." (He used to call it the "internets" until his handlers informed him that, like God, the internet is not plural.)

Whoa! When I heard Bush say that, it struck me. Of course! The internet! Why have I been relying on the New York Times and Washington Post and CBS, NBC, CNN to tell me what's really going on in Iraq. Hell, they don't even speak the language. And, of course, we learned four years ago we can't believe anything the U.S. government says about the war.

So I took the president's advice. I logged right on to the internet and spent the rest of that day reading firsthand reports posted by for-real Iraqis. Who would know better what life in is like today in Iraq? Is there a civil war brewing or not? They live there. They should know. Are things getting better or worse? If I wanted to know if things were getting better or worse in my hometown, would I check with CNN or the White House? No. I'd ask my neighbors and the small business owners on Main Street, Sebastopol, Calif., U.S. of A.

So I checked with Iraqis to see how much "good news" I could find. I read dozens of March postings by folks living in U.S.-'liberated' Iraq. Bush was right. It was time well spent. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, eat your hearts out. These postings are a revelation. And, hey, big dude -- thanks for the tip, George. Now I suggest you take your own advice and do the same.

Here's a sampler and some links to get you started on your search for all the "good news" from Iraq that the scheming evil U.S. media is hiding from you.

From A Star from Mosul:

March 9: It was about 6 p.m. last night when dad's mobile rang, dad was in the mosque, my aunt was calling him and so mom picked up the mobile instead. Mom's emotions on the phone only led to one conclusion: Someone is dead. … Mom put the mobile aside and said: "Uncle S is dead." … Yesterday he was shot by Americans on his way back home, and he died. Like many others, he died, left us clueless about the reason and saddened with this sudden loss. He was shot many times, only three reached him: One in his arm, one in his neck and one in his chest. But they said they're sorry. They always are.

From Healing Iraq:

March 16: Black-clad Mahdi army militiamen drag the body of Sheikh Ghazi Al-Zoba'i, the imam and preacher of the Al-Sabbar mosque around a street in Husseiniya, a mixed suburb north of Baghdad. … Someone shouts: "Drag the Wahhabi," while another describes him as a "bastard." … Then they dump him on the side of the road. Another militiaman suggests they bury him. "What do you mean bury him?" the gang leader snaps back with indignation. "Leave him here to the dogs." Then they joke about his underwear and cover the corpse with a cardboard that life looks absolutely normal in the surroundings. You can see children running about, stores open, religious holiday flags and even a traffic jam. Perhaps Ralph Peters will happen to drive by with an American army patrol and enjoy the scene of children cheering for the troops, while wondering where his civil war is, dude. I see people blown up to smithereens because a brainwashed virgin seeker targeted a crowded market or cafe. I see all that and more. … Don't you dare chastise me for writing about what I see in my country.

From A Family in Baghdad:

March 14: The situation in Iraq now is the worst that can be, since Baghdad fell in April 2003, meaning three years passed since the war, and the results we reaped were destruction, ruin, killings and bloodshed … billions of dollars were robbed, thousands of souls perished, our cities and villages destroyed, and there are some who are pulling the people apart, pushing them to a sectarian civil war. There is an occupation army filling the streets, doing what? We do not know … they build military bases which spell the message -- they want to remain forever, that they do not care for our souls, and that everything that is happening to us pours into their interest and is a reason for them to stay …

* Iraq is torn apart …
* Iraq is ruined …
* Iraq became a heap of debris …
* Is this what they want?
* Was this their aim in this war?

This is what I want to say to the American people, I want them to know the real story of the war, not the story they hear in their biased media, financed by the government and its friends … I want the people here to stand up and face their responsibility for what is happening in Iraq … Do they join their government in its crimes against the Iraqi people? Or are they against her?

From Hammorabi:

March 20: Death and killing in Iraq become a daily event and apprehension of death is a concomitant issue with every person. The Iraqi politicians who fight for the power, their hands are stained with the blood of the innocent Iraqis … Iraq, as the rest of the world, is much better without Saddam but much worse in every other aspect, especially the security.

From: Riverbend:

March 19: I don't think anyone imagined three years ago that things could be quite this bad today. The last few weeks have been ridden with tension. I'm so tired of it all -- we're all tired.

Three years and the electricity is worse than ever. The security situation has gone from bad to worse. The country feels like it's on the brink of chaos once more -- but a preplanned, prefabricated chaos being led by religious militias and zealots. I'm sitting here trying to think what makes this year, 2006, so much worse than 2005 or 2004. It's not the outward differences -- things such as electricity, water, dilapidated buildings, broken streets and ugly concrete security walls. Those things are disturbing, but they are fixable. Iraqis have proved again and again that countries can be rebuilt. No -- it's not the obvious that fills us with foreboding.

The real fear is the mentality of so many people lately -- the rift that seems to have worked its way through the very heart of the country, dividing people. It's disheartening to talk to acquaintances -- sophisticated, civilized people -- and hear how Sunnis are like this, and Shia are like that … To watch people pick up their things to move to "Sunni neighborhoods" or "Shia neighborhoods." How did this happen?

I could fill hundreds of web pages with snippets like those above. What I couldn't find was any of the good news Bush suggested the mainstream media is supressing and that the nice Army wife might find if she looked at "alternative sources of news."

Oh, there were postings by U.S. service members serving in Iraq, and some of them had nice things to say about the job they were doing there. But as a member of the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War, I recall that back then you could throw a dart at a company of Marines serving in the war zone and get opinions that ranged from "We should nuke these little bastards" to "Get me the hell out of here" to "Hey man -- got any weed?"

Back then the government also assured us they "had a plan." (Nixon even had a "secret plan.") And at any point during the dozen years that war raged, whatever plan was in effect was always "working."

Some 30 years later, historians got around to hearing from the Vietnamese themselves, particularly the North Vietnamese. And, had we known then what we know now about how that enemy saw the war, how they were surviving day to day and how they viewed us, we would have known that the so-called plan was really just a monumental fool's errand. Had we realized that early on, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been spared.

So, by all means, follow President Bush's suggestion. Ignore the weekend talk shows, the editorial pages, the news. Instead do as Bush suggested and turn to the hundreds of blogs posted daily by Iraqis who are actually living the reality created by our moron president and his Mad Hatter's tea party gang.

Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including "Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans," which was nominated for a Pulitzer.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Nick Anderson


Bush Lied. Then his corrupt cronies tried to cover it up.

Insulating Bush

By Murray Waas, National Journal
Thursday, March 30, 2006

Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true, according to government records and interviews.

Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."

Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

The previously undisclosed review by Hadley was part of a damage-control effort launched after former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV alleged that Bush's claims regarding the uranium were not true. The CIA had sent Wilson to the African nation of Niger in 2002 to investigate the purported procurement efforts by Iraq; he reported that they were most likely a hoax.

The White House was largely successful in defusing the Niger controversy because there was no evidence that Bush was aware that his claims about the uranium were based on faulty intelligence. Then-CIA Director George Tenet swiftly and publicly took the blame for the entire episode, saying that he and the CIA were at fault for not warning Bush and his aides that the information might be untrue.

But Hadley and other administration officials realized that it would be much more difficult to shield Bush from criticism for his statements regarding the aluminum tubes, for several reasons.

For one, Hadley's review concluded that Bush had been directly and repeatedly apprised of the deep rift within the intelligence community over whether Iraq wanted the high-strength aluminum tubes for a nuclear weapons program or for conventional weapons.

For another, the president and others in the administration had cited the aluminum tubes as the most compelling evidence that Saddam was determined to build a nuclear weapon -- even more than the allegations that he was attempting to purchase uranium.

And finally, full disclosure of the internal dissent over the importance of the tubes would have almost certainly raised broader questions about the administration's conduct in the months leading up to war.

"Presidential knowledge was the ball game," says a former senior government official outside the White House who was personally familiar with the damage-control effort. "The mission was to insulate the president. It was about making it appear that he wasn't in the know. You could do that on Niger. You couldn't do that with the tubes." A Republican political appointee involved in the process, who thought the Bush administration had a constitutional obligation to be more open with Congress, said: "This was about getting past the election."

The President's Summary

Most troublesome to those leading the damage-control effort was documentary evidence -- albeit in highly classified government records that they might be able to keep secret -- that the president had been advised that many in the intelligence community believed that the tubes were meant for conventional weapons.

The one-page documents known as the "President's Summary" are distilled from the much lengthier National Intelligence Estimates, which combine the analysis of as many as six intelligence agencies regarding major national security issues. Bush's knowledge of the State and Energy departments' dissent over the tubes was disclosed in a March 4, 2006, National Journal story -- more than three years after the intelligence assessment was provided to the president, and some 16 months after the 2004 presidential election.

The President's Summary was only one of several high-level warnings given to Bush and other senior administration officials that serious doubts existed about the intended use of the tubes, according to government records and interviews with former and current officials.

In mid-September 2002, two weeks before Bush received the October 2002 President's Summary, Tenet informed him that both State and Energy had doubts about the aluminum tubes and that even some within the CIA weren't certain that the tubes were meant for nuclear weapons, according to government records and interviews with two former senior officials.

Official records and interviews with current and former officials also reveal that the president was told that even then-Secretary of State Colin Powell had doubts that the tubes might be used for nuclear weapons.

When U.S. inspectors entered Iraq after the fall of Saddam's regime, they determined that Iraq's nuclear program had been dormant for more than a decade and that the aluminum tubes had been used only for conventional weapons.

In the end, the White House's damage control was largely successful, because the public did not learn until after the 2004 elections the full extent of the president's knowledge that the assessment linking the aluminum tubes to a nuclear weapons program might not be true. The most crucial information was kept under wraps until long after Bush's re-election.


The new disclosures regarding the tubes may also shed light on why officials so vigorously attempted to discredit Wilson's allegations regarding Niger, including by leaking information to the media that his wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA. Administration officials hoped that the suggestion that Plame had played a role in the agency's choice of Wilson for the Niger trip might cast doubt on his allegations.

I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, then chief of staff and national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted on October 28 on five counts of making false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice in attempting to conceal his role in outing Plame as an undercover CIA operative. Signaling a possible defense strategy, Libby's attorneys filed papers in federal court on March 17 asserting that he had not intentionally deceived FBI agents and a federal grand jury while answering questions about Plame because her role was only "peripheral" to potentially more serious questions regarding the Bush administration's use of intelligence in the prewar debate. "The media conflagration ignited by the failure to find [weapons of mass destruction] in Iraq and in part by Mr. Wilson's criticism of the administration, led officials within the White House, the State Department, and the CIA to blame each other, publicly and in private, for faulty prewar intelligence about Iraq's WMD capabilities," Libby's attorneys said in court papers.

Plame's identity was disclosed during "a period of increasing bureaucratic infighting, when certain officials at the CIA, the White House, and the State Department each sought to avoid or assign blame for intelligence failures relating to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability," the attorneys said. "The White House and the CIA were widely regarded to be at war."

Only two months before Wilson went public with his allegations, the Iraq war was being viewed as one of the greatest achievements of Bush's presidency. Rove, whom Bush would later call the "architect" of his re-election campaign, was determined to exploit the war for the president's electoral success. On May 1, 2003, Bush made a dramatic landing on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to announce to the nation the cessation of major combat operations in Iraq. Dressed in a military flight suit, the president emerged from a four-seat Navy S-3B Viking with the words "George W. Bush Commander-in-Chief" painted just below the cockpit window.

The New York Times later reported that White House aides "had choreographed every aspect of the event, even down to the members of the Lincoln crew arrayed in coordinated shirt colors over Mr. Bush's right shoulder and the 'Mission Accomplished' banner placed to perfectly capture the president and the celebratory two words in a single shot."

On May 6, in a column in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof quoted an unnamed former ambassador as saying that allegations that Saddam had attempted to procure uranium from Africa were "unequivocally wrong" and that "documents had been forged." But the column drew little notice.

A month later, on June 5, the president made a triumphant visit to Camp As Sayliyah, the regional headquarters of Central Command just outside Qatar's capital, where he spoke to 1,000 troops who were in camouflage fatigues. Afterward, Rove took out a camera and began snapping pictures of service personnel with various presidential advisers. "Step right up! Get your photo with Ari Fleischer -- get 'em while they're hot. Get your Condi Rice," Rove said, according to press accounts of the trip. On the trip home, as Air Force One flew at 31,000 feet over Iraqi airspace, escorted by pairs of F-18 fighters off each wing, the plane's pilots dipped the wings as a sign, an administration spokesperson explained, "that Iraq is now free."

There were few hints of what lay ahead: that sectarian violence would engulf Iraq to the point where some fear civil war and that more than 2,440 American troops and contractors would lose their lives in Iraq and an additional 17,260 servicemen and -women would be wounded.

Blame The CIA

The pre-election damage-control effort in response to Wilson's allegations and the broader issue of whether the Bush administration might have misrepresented intelligence information to make the case for war had three major components, according to government records and interviews with current and former officials: blame the CIA for the use of the Niger information in the president's State of the Union address; discredit and undermine Wilson; and make sure that the public did not learn that the president had been personally warned that the intelligence assessments he was citing about the aluminum tubes might be wrong.

On July 8, 2003, two days after Wilson challenged the Niger-uranium claim in an op-ed article in The New York Times, Libby met with Judith Miller, then a Times reporter, for breakfast at the St. Regis hotel in Washington. Libby told Miller that Wilson's wife, Plame, worked for the CIA, and he suggested that Wilson could not be trusted because his wife may have played a role in selecting him for the Niger mission. Also during that meeting, according to accounts given by both Miller and Libby, Libby provided the reporter with details of a then-classified National Intelligence Estimate. The NIE contained detailed information that Iraq had been attempting to procure uranium from Niger and perhaps two other African nations. Libby and other administration officials believed that the NIE showed that Bush's statements reflected the consensus view of the intelligence community at the time.

According to Miller's account of that meeting in The Times, Libby told her that "the assessments of the classified estimate" that Iraq had attempted to get uranium from Africa and was attempting to develop a nuclear weapons program "were even stronger" than a declassified White Paper on Iraq that the administration had made public to make the case for war.

The special prosecutor in the CIA leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has said that he considers the selective disclosure of elements of the NIE to be "inextricably intertwined" with the outing of Plame. Papers filed in federal court by Libby's attorneys on March 17 stated that Libby "believed his actions were authorized" and that he had "testified before the grand jury that this disclosure was authorized," a reference to the NIE details he gave to Miller.

In the same filings, Libby's attorneys said that Hadley played a key role in attempting to have the NIE declassified and made available to reporters: "Mr. Hadley was active in discussions about the need to declassify and disseminate the NIE and [also] had numerous conversations during [this] critical early-July period with Mr. Tenet about the 16 words [the Niger claim in the State of the Union address] and Mr. Tenet's public statements about that issue."

Three days later, on July 11, while on a visit to Africa, Bush and his top aides intensified their efforts to counter the damage done by Wilson's Niger allegations.

Aboard Air Force One, en route to Entebbe, Uganda, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice gave a background briefing for reporters. A reporter pointed out that when Secretary Powell had addressed the United Nations on February 5, 2003, he -- unlike others in the Bush administration -- had noted that some in the U.S. government did not believe that Iraq's procurement of high-strength aluminum tubes was for nuclear weapons.

Responding, Rice said: "I'm saying that when we put [Powell's speech] together ... the secretary decided that he would caveat the aluminum tubes, which he did.... The secretary also has an intelligence arm that happened to hold that view." Rice added, "Now, if there were any doubts about the underlying intelligence to that NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the president, to the vice president, or me."

In fact, contrary to Rice's statement, the president was indeed informed of such doubts when he received the October 2002 President's Summary of the NIE. Both Cheney and Rice also got copies of the summary, as well as a number of other intelligence reports about the State and Energy departments' doubts that the tubes were meant for a nuclear weapons program.

Discrediting Wilson

After Air Force One landed in Entebbe, the president placed the blame squarely on the CIA for the Niger information in the State of the Union: "I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services." Within hours, Tenet accepted full responsibility. The intelligence information on Niger, Tenet said in a prepared statement, "did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and the CIA should have ensured that it was removed." Tenet went on to say, "I am responsible for the approval process in my agency. The president had every reason to believe that the text presented to him was sound. These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president."

Behind the scenes, the White House and Tenet had coordinated their statements for maximum effect. Hadley, Libby, and Rove had reviewed drafts of Tenet's statement days in advance. And Hadley and Rove even suggested changes in the draft, according to government records and interviews.

Meanwhile, as the president, Rice, and White House advisers worked to contain the damage from overseas, Rove and Libby, who had remained in Washington, moved forward with their effort to discredit Wilson. That same day, July 11, the two spoke privately at the close of a White House senior staff meeting.

According to grand jury testimony from both men, Rove told Libby that he had spoken to columnist Robert Novak on July 9 and that Novak had said he would soon be writing a column about Valerie Plame. On July 12, the day after Rice's briefing, the president's and Tenet's comments, and the conversation between Rove and Libby regarding Novak, the issue of discrediting Wilson through his wife was still high on the agenda. According to the indictment of Libby: "Libby flew with the vice president and others to and from Norfolk, Virginia on Air Force Two." On the return trip, "Libby discussed with other officials aboard the plane what Libby should say in response to certain pending media inquiries" regarding Wilson's allegations.

Later that day, Libby spoke on the phone with Time magazine's Matthew Cooper. Cooper had been told days earlier that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. During this conversation, according to Libby's indictment, "Libby confirmed to Cooper, without elaboration or qualification, that he had heard this information, too." Also that day, Libby's indictment charged, "Libby spoke by telephone with Judith Miller ... and discussed Wilson's wife, and that she worked at the CIA."

On July 14, Novak published his now-famous column identifying Plame as a CIA "operative" and reporting that she had been responsible for sending her husband to Niger.

On July 18, the Bush administration declassified a relatively small portion of the NIE and held a press briefing to discuss it, in a further effort to show that the president had used the Niger information only because the intelligence community had vouched for it. Reporters noted that an "alternate view" box in the NIE stated that the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (known as INR) believed that claims of Iraqi purchases of uranium from Africa were "highly dubious" and that State and DOE also believed that the aluminum tubes were "most likely for the production of artillery shells."

But White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett suggested that both the president and Rice had been unaware of this information: "They did not read footnotes in a 90-page document." Later, addressing the same issue, Bartlett said, "The president of the United States is not a fact-checker."

Because the Bush administration was able to control what information would remain classified, however, reporters did not know that Bush had received the President's Summary that informed him that both State's INR and the Energy Department doubted that the aluminum tubes were to be used for a nuclear-related purpose.

(Ironically, at one point, before he had reviewed the one-page summary, Hadley considered declassifying it because it said nothing about the Niger intelligence information being untrue. However, after reviewing the summary and realizing that it would have disclosed presidential knowledge that INR and DOE had doubts about the tubes, senior Bush administration officials became preoccupied with ensuring that the text of the document remained classified, according to an account provided by an administration official.)

On July 22, the White House arranged yet another briefing for reporters regarding the Niger controversy. Hadley, when asked whether there was any reason that the president should have hesitated in citing Iraq's procurement of aluminum tubes as evidence of Saddam's nuclear ambitions, answered, "It is an assessment in which the director and the CIA stand by to this day. And, therefore, we have every reason to be confident."

Later that summer, the Senate Intelligence Committee launched an investigation of intelligence agencies to determine why they failed to accurately assess that Saddam had no viable programs to develop chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion.

As National Journal first disclosed on its Web site on October 27, 2005, Cheney, Libby, and Cheney's current chief of staff, David Addington, rejected advice given to them by other White House officials and decided to withhold from the committee crucial documents that might have shown that administration claims about Saddam's capabilities often went beyond information provided by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Among those documents was the President's Summary of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.

In July 2004, when the Intelligence Committee released a 511-page report on its investigation of prewar intelligence by the CIA and other agencies, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said in his own "Additional Views" to the report, "Concurrent with the production of a National Intelligence Estimate is the production of a one-page President's Summary of the NIE. A one-page President's Summary was completed and disseminated for the October 2002 NIE ... though there is no mention of this fact in [this] report. These one-page NIE summaries are ... written exclusively for the president and senior policy makers and are therefore tailored for that audience."

Durbin concluded, "In determining what the president was told about the contents of the NIE dealing with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -- qualifiers and all -- there is nothing clearer than this single page."

-- Previous coverage of pre-war intelligence and the CIA leak investigation from Murray Waas. Brian Beutler provided research assistance for this report.



from Atrios:

Boston Herald:

Despite Scalia’s insistence that the Sicilian gesture was not offensive and had been incorrectly characterized by the Herald as obscene, the photographer said the newspaper “got the story right.”

Smith said the jurist “immediately knew he’d made a mistake, and said, ‘You’re not going to print that, are you?’ ”

Scalia’s office yesterday referred questions regarding the flap to Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg, who said a letter Scalia sent Tuesday to the Herald defending his gesture at the cathedral “speaks for itself.”


“The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, ‘To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.

The Italian phrase means “(expletive) you.”

In other words, he didn't just make the sign for "fuck you" he said "fuck you." In church. What will we tell the children.


There is no immigration crisis....

Moment of Truth


[posted online on March 29, 2006]

There is no immigration crisis--other than the one created by a small but vocal stripe of opportunist politicians, media demagogues and freelance xenophobes. So it has always been throughout the history of this country when anti-immigrant hysteria periodically reigns during low ebbs in our national sense of security and vision.

The script is as old as the Mayflower: A false alarm is sounded that the values, wages and safety of the current roster of credentialed Americans are jeopardized by the "flood" or "tidal wave" or "river" sneaking across our porous borders--be they Irish, Chinese, Jewish, Russian, Mexican or even the freed slaves seeking to earn an honest living in Northern cities after the Civil War. Any and all manner of societal problems are to be laid on these scapegoats, and the same simplistic solution offered: Find and deport them, and don't let any more in.

Luckily, although it sometimes takes years or even decades, saner voices eventually prevail, acknowledging that the continued influx of immigrants has always fueled America's astonishing economic and cultural rise ever since the original natives were bum-rushed off their turf. Immigration laws are liberalized, compromises are reached, amnesties are offered, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service bureaucracy grinds on.

Having intermittently covered this issue for the Los Angeles Times over thirty years, I can well recall the peaks of panic in which we reporters were dispatched to the border and out into the fields to witness the arrest of people desperate to find work--only to be embarrassed by the hunted eyes and clutched crosses of the enemy discovered.

Such frenzied attention was inevitably followed by a lull in which most Americans were quite happy to eat the food harvested by those same harassed and abused workers as well as entrusting the "illegals" with the care of American homes and children. On no other issue is there such an extreme disconnect between attitudes and actions.

When Wal-Mart was busted for hiring undocumented workers, did anybody boycott the company for it? Of course not; consumers value price and aren't concerned, for the most part, about how a company accomplishes cheapness. If, however, people do really care about keeping all jobs open to American citizens, then there is only one effective strategy: Level the playing field by enforcing labor laws.

Some 2 million immigrant workers now earn less than the minimum wage and millions more work without the occupational safety, workers' compensation, overtime pay and other protections legal status offers. Consequently, when the president says that immigrants perform work that legal residents are unwilling to do, he may be right--but we don't know. The only way to test that hypothesis is to bring this black market labor pool above ground.

That approach has been tried in California with some success. Jose Millan, who until this year ran such an enforcement program as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's labor commissioner and before that for Republican Governor Pete Wilson, told me that legalization of undocumented workers is essential to improving the situation for everybody.

"I am in favor of anything that brings these workers out of the shadows and into the sunlight; it's very easy to exploit a population when they're afraid," Millan told me Monday. "We would be a better country if we recognized the fact that there are 10 million undocumented workers in our midst, and we would be better off if they were granted the benefits and responsibilities of a legal existence."

This current xenophobia is no more warranted than it has been in the past. The number of claimed "illegal aliens" as a percentage of the population is clearly absorbable by the job market as our low unemployment rate demonstrates. Yet, the Republican Party and the Congress it dominates are currently teetering between driving undocumented workers further underground or taking a saner compromise approach.

The former, a draconian bill already passed by the House of Representatives, would legalize witch-hunts of undocumented workers, by reclassifying them as felons; their employers would be subject to a year or more in prison and punitive fines; as would even church and nonprofit organizations who offer succor to them.

Because employers are not trained to play cop, they will simply be driven to discriminate against job applicants based on "foreignness" determined by ethnicity or accent. The more reasonable alternative co-authored by Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy, and embraced as the heart of the proposal adopted by the Judiciary Committee on Monday, shuns the criminalization of the undocumented, instead offering paths--albeit long, arduous and uncertain ones--to legal status for undocumented workers already here.

This is a moment of truth for America. It is time we acknowledged that we need the immigrant workers as much as they need us and began to treat them with the respect they deserve.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Imperial overreach is accelerating the global decline of America

The disastrous foreign policies of the US have left it more isolated than ever, and China is standing by to take over

Martin Jacques
Tuesday March 28, 2006
The Guardian

'Our power, then, has the grave liability of rendering our theories about the world immune from failure. But by becoming deaf to easily discerned warning signs, we may ignore long-term costs that result from our actions and dismiss reverses that should lead to a re-examination of our goals and means."

These are the words of Henry Hyde, chairman of the House international relations committee and a Republican congressman, in a recent speech. Hyde argues that such is the overweening power of the US that it may not hear or recognise the signals when its policy goes badly wrong, a thinly veiled reference to Iraq. He then takes issue with the idea that the US can export democracy around the world as deeply misguided and potentially dangerous. He argues: "A broad and energetic promotion of democracy in other countries that will not enjoy our long-term and guiding presence may equate not to peace and stability but to revolution ... There is no evidence that we or anyone can guide from afar revolutions we have set in motion. We can more easily destabilise friends and others and give life to chaos and to avowed enemies than ensure outcomes in service of our interests and security."

It is clear that the US occupation of Iraq has been a disaster from almost every angle one can think of, most of all for the Iraqi people, not least for American foreign policy. The unpicking of the imperial logic that led to it has already commenced: Hyde's speech is an example, and so is Francis Fukuyama's new book After the Neocons, a merciless critique of Bush's foreign policy and the school of thought that lay behind it. The war was a delayed product of the end of the cold war and the triumphalist mentality that imbued the neocons and eventually seduced the US. But triumphalism is a dangerous brew, more suited to intoxication than hard-headed analysis. And so it has proved. The US still has to reap the whirlwind for its stunning feat of imperial overreach.

In becoming so catastrophically engaged in the Middle East, making the region its overwhelming global priority, it downgraded the importance of everywhere else, taking its eye off the ball in a crucial region such as east Asia, which in the long run will be far more important to the US's strategic interests than the Middle East. As such, the Iraqi adventure represented a major misreading of global trends and how they are likely to impact on the US. Hyde is clearly thinking in these terms: "We are well advanced into an unformed era in which new and unfamiliar enemies are gathering forces, where a phalanx of aspiring competitors must inevitably constrain and focus options. In a world where the ratios of strength narrow, the consequences of miscalculation will become progressively more debilitating. The costs of golden theories [by which he means the worldwide promotion of democracy] will be paid for in the base coin of our interests."

The promotion of the idea of the war against terror as the central priority of US policy had little to do with the actual threat posed by al-Qaida, which was always hugely exaggerated by the Bush administration, as events over the last four and a half years have shown. Al-Qaida never posed a threat to the US except in terms of the odd terrorist outrage. Making it the central thrust of US foreign policy, in other words, had nothing to do with the al-Qaida threat and everything to do with the Bush administration seeking to mobilise US public opinion behind a neoconservative foreign policy. There followed the tenuous - in reality nonexistent - link with Saddam, which provided in large measure the justification for the invasion of Iraq, an act which now threatens to unravel the bizarre adventurism, personified by Donald Rumsfeld, which has been the hallmark of Bush foreign policy since 9/11. The latter has come unstuck in the killing fields of Iraq in the most profound way imaginable.

Hyde alludes to a new "unformed" world and "a phalanx of aspiring competitors". On this he is absolutely right. The world is in the midst of a monumental process of change that, within the next 10 years or so, could leave the US as only the second largest economy in the world after China and commanding, with the rise of China and India, a steadily contracting share of global output. It will no longer be able to boss the world around in the fashion of the neoconservative dream: its power to do so will be constrained by the power of others, notably China, while it will also find it increasingly difficult to fund the military and diplomatic costs of being the world's sole superpower. If the US is already under financial pressure from its twin deficits and the ballooning costs of Iraq, then imagine the difficulties it will find itself in within two decades in a very different kind of world.

Hyde concludes by warning against the delusions of triumphalism and cautioning that the future should not be seen as an extension of the present: "A few brief years ago, history was proclaimed to be at an end, our victory engraved in unyielding stone, our pre-eminence garlanded with permanence. But we must remember that Britain's majestic rule vanished in a few short years, undermined by unforeseen catastrophic events and by new threats that eventually overwhelmed the palisades of the past. The life of pre-eminence, as with all life on this planet, has a mortal end. To allow our enormous power to delude us into seeing the world as a passive thing waiting for us to recreate it in an image of our choosing will hasten the day when we have little freedom to choose anything at all."

That the world will be very different within the next two decades, if not rather sooner, is clear; yet there is scant recognition of this fact and what it might mean - not least in our own increasingly provincial country. The overwhelming preoccupation of the Bush administration (and Blair for that matter) with Iraq, the Middle East and Islam, speaks of a failure to understand the deeper forces that are reshaping the world and an overriding obsession with realising and exploiting the US's temporary status as the sole global superpower. Such a myopic view can only hasten the decline of the US as a global power, a process that has already started.

The Bush administration stands guilty of an extraordinary act of imperial overreach which has left the US more internationally isolated than ever before, seriously stretched financially, and guilty of neglect in east Asia and elsewhere. Iraq was supposed to signal the US's new global might: in fact, it may well prove to be a harbinger of its decline. And that decline could be far more precipitous than anyone has previously reckoned. Once the bubble of US power has been pricked, in a global context already tilting in other directions, it could deflate rather more quickly than has been imagined. Hyde's warnings should be taken seriously.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Marijuana Morals

by Davis Sweet

From the AP story, "Medical Marijuana Issue Returns to Court:"

"There is no fundamental right to distribute, cultivate or possess marijuana," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Quinlivan, the government's lead medical marijuana attorney, wrote to the appeals court.
Good point, Mr. Quinlivan. But surely you'd concede that there is also no fundamental right to confiscate or destroy marijuana, or to imprison those who possess marijuana.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

What the anti-marijuana moralists refuse to accept is that there is zero moral component to medical marijuana -- or marijuana, period. Just as with alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, misuse and abuse and general stupidity can turn a beneficial or morally neutral instrument into a bad thing. With marijuana, though, the "bad" end doesn't kill anybody, not even the abuser, unless you combine it with a car.

There is no legitimate foundation for this government's war on marijuana (like some other wars I could mention). It's based exclusively on imaginary benefits, which make horrible, overreaching laws.

The desperate prohibition rationalists really are stoned, and I want none of what they're smoking. From the White House Drug Policy Web site, which is the only place I've seen the term "peace-loving flower children" this century:

According to officers with the Forest Service and other agencies, many of California's illegal marijuana fields are controlled not by peace-loving flower children but by employees of Mexican drug-trafficking organizations carrying high-powered assault weapons.

Unfortunately, their bad trip (I'm guessing they're huffing gasoline, what with the prez telling us they're all addicted to the stuff) doesn't prevent them from doing violence to generally peaceful others:

There were a total of 1,745,712 state and local arrests for drug abuse violations in the United States during 2004. Of the drug arrests, 5.0% were for marijuana sale/manufacturing and 39.2% were for marijuana possession.

In FY 2003, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made 5,679 arrests related to cannabis, accounting for 20.9% of all DEA arrests during the year. This is an increase from FY 2002, when 5,576 cannabis-related arrests were made by the DEA, accounting for 18.5% of all DEA arrests.

According to a 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) survey of Federal and state prisoners approximately 19% of Federal and 13% of state drug offenders were incarcerated for a marijuana-related offense.

There's your law. Almost one in five of the federal jail beds -- which we like to reserve for, you know, terrorists and other profoundly dangerous people -- are crowded with pot smokers, college dorm entrepreneurs, and unlucky botanists. Feel safer? Feel proud? Feel like the DEA might be strawberry coughing its way through its "priorities" meetings?

It's instructive to imagine the prohibitionists' benefit proposition. It's not easy, because the rationale is essentially "because we've done it that way for sixty years." But here goes: by lumping marijuana in with the world's most harmful substances under the law, we can keep a certain number of people from trying it. By keeping those people from trying marijuana, we keep them from possibly enjoying it, which could lead to someone driving a car while impaired, which could lead to someone being hurt or killed. Not a bad argument, really, since nobody wants to see impaired folks driving.

But replace "marijuana" in that argument with any of the following: alcohol, Ambien, energy drinks, religious ecstasy, driving-while-getting-a-blowjob. Precisely the same risks; unconscionably different prohibitions and penalties. You could sure smash up a herd of schoolchildren if you tried to operate a moving vehicle while a good friend bobbed in your lap, but lap-bobbing on its own isn't a crime. In most states, anyway. Driving while impaired, including being impaired by lust, is already and justifiably illegal, not to mention breathtakingly stupid. Where is the societal benefit in jailing, robbing, and, for our medicine-using friends, torturing and killing people who aren't driving while impaired? It doesn't exist.

Or if you're grasping at stems, trying to drum up any "evil" in this popularly smoked flower, you might point to the corporatists' argument: the demon weed drains your ambition. For a very few people, in my experience, this appears true-ish. For many more people, this is demonstrably false. But I'm indulging the paranoiacs, so let's say it's true universally. Does it affect a body's get-up-and-go more than video games, satellite teevee, or cheap bacon quintuple-cheeseburgers? Not in the least. If you're predisposed to be lazy or to go all-out and embrace self-destruction, you don't need marijuana to help. In fact, it probably sucks for the consciously lazy, because it sparks all kinds of creativity and neural growth in the brain which you'd have to smother with something genuinely harmful like alcohol.

The unspoken terror is that a matted-haired, red-eyed someone unacquainted with the workings of a shower will walk up to an old Republican lady on the street and ask her for a buck, startling her a little bit and making her vaguely uncomfy for maybe the whole morning. (Yes, dear-heart, preventing this kind of encounter -- giving Grannie Blue-hair a moment's jolt of adrenaline and/or putting her in a position to get a whiff of brown-people sweat -- is why a butt-load of our laws exist and why we imprison at least some of the millions of Americans we cage.) That scenario is not a hazard of cannabis, though, but rather of homelessness and, maybe, hippiedom. Neither of which is illegal. There is a contingent of the weed demonization promoters who want hippie-ness to be illegal, of course, and they believe that if you starve the hippies of their imagined herbal fuel, you'll eventually wipe them out. (Tip to the hippie-averse: if you really want to wipe out the hippies, eliminate church.)

Folks, the threat of a pothead nation simply doesn't exist. It is a pipe dream. There is no consequence of responsible marijuana use that justifies any of this malicious, violent, immoral prohibition. We need leaders who will assert that the government can't take away selected freedoms simply because they're fun or interesting or they keep Hostess's Twinkie division in business.


Senate Judiciary Committee Continues Hearings into Illegal NSA Spying Program, ACLU Urges Lawmakers to Get Facts Before Acting

WASHINGTON - As the Senate Judiciary Committee met today to hold its third hearing into the warrantless surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA) authorized by President Bush, the American Civil Liberties Union urged lawmakers to hold a fair and comprehensive investigation of the facts about the program before considering any legislation regarding the illegal operation.

"Congress needs to fully investigate this violation of the rule of law and the administration must stop stonewalling the efforts of lawmakers," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "When the president authorized the NSA program, he violated the law. The American people and their elected representatives deserve to know the truth. Illegal activity needs to be investigated - not approved and legitimized."

The Senate Judiciary Committee met today to hear from members of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and others familiar with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The ACLU noted that FISA was passed by Congress in response to revelations that former President Nixon and others were using "national security" claims to spy on political enemies and ordinary Americans who disagreed with the government about political issues. Under federal law, FISA is the "exclusive means" under which Americans can have their communications monitored for intelligence purposes.

Members of the FISC are those federal judges authorized to issue FISA orders, and they are available to the government at any time-their hearing facility is even located in the Justice Department. For example, in 2004, FISC judges approved 1,758 secret surveillance warrants, without denying a single one. The ACLU noted that the law even permits federal law enforcement to initiate an emergency intelligence investigation and retroactively seek an order up to 72 hours after the fact, making these provisions sufficiently agile to deal with exigencies.

One of the witnesses expected to testify, David Kris, is a former Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, where he handled national security issues. In an internal e-mail exchange that was released through a Freedom of Information Act request, he stated, "Claims that FISA simply requires too much paperwork or the bothersome marshaling of arguments seem relatively weak justifications for resorting to 'constitutional powers' in violation of the statute." He added that he did "not think Congress can be said to have authorized the NSA surveillance" via the authorization for military force in Afghanistan.

"Many legal and security experts have rejected the administration's claims that the warrantless NSA eavesdropping program was both legal and necessary," said Lisa Graves, ACLU Senior Counsel for Legislative Strategy. "Enough time has been spent on legal theories-what Congress and the American people are entitled to is the facts about how many Americans' emails or phone calls have been monitored through this program. Congress must reject attempts to legitimize this illegal program, and instead insist that the truth be brought to light."

For more on the ACLU's concerns with the warrantless NSA eavesdropping program, go to:


Mr. Iran-Contra Dies

from AmericaBlog:

Casper Weinberger, Reagan's Defense Secretary, died today. And from the AP story you'd think he was a saint. In fact, Weinberger was one of the principles behind Iran-Contra, and was indicted for it until George Bush's dad pardoned him. The Republicans really have brought new meaning to the word "neo-con" - as in convict.

Let me remind you who Casper Weinberger REALLY was:
Walsh's team had discovered that Weinberger's handwritten notes disproved Bush's claim that he had been "out of the loop" and proved that Weinberger knew full well about $25 million in Saudi contributions to the contras, even as he told Congress in 1986 that the charge was "so outlandish as to be unworthy of comment."

According to Brosnahan, the trial would have shown that Weinberger knew as early as summer 1985 that President Ronald Reagan had personally authorized missile shipments to Iran in violation of the Arms Control Export Act, and that this potentially impeachable act was concealed by constructing a false record. "The August [1985] meeting [of Reagan's National Security Council] discussed having Israel send the missiles to Iran and replenishing them out of U.S. stocks," says Brosnahan. "Weinberger is responsible for all missiles. The secretary of defense is the guy."


Lou Dobbs: L.A. Demonstrations Are Riots; Illegal Aliens Are Criminals: And We Shouldn't Celebrate St. Patricks Day. Lou you really are a hack.


Lou called the demonstrations in L.A. riots:

And Peter Viles is live in Los Angeles, where he will be reporting on historic protests in favor of illegal alien rights. Those riots continue at this very hour.

Illegal aliens, their supporters once again tonight trying to influence the country's political process with new protests and demonstrations. The largest demonstrations have been in Los Angeles today, where illegal aliens and their supporters are demanding rights of U.S. citizenship often while flying Mexican flags.

VILES: Well, not these fellows here, but we have asked others why the flag of Mexico and the flags of Guatemala and other nations. One woman told us, "Yes, I'm an American, but I have to stand up for my culture and I have to support my heritage and other people with that heritage."

Not a particularly American idea when it comes to civics and politics, but it is certainly prevailing here in Los Angeles.

(Not a particularly American Idea? Ever heard of St. Patrick’s Day? The Melting Pot?)

In our poll tonight the question is very simple. Are you astounded that illegal aliens would demonstrate to protest the enforcement of the borders they crossed illegally to enter this country in the first place? Cast your vote at We'll have the results later here in the broadcast.

SENSENBRENNER: Well that shows how hard it is to do anything about illegal aliens and border security. But if we don't do something effective and workable, we're going to have 20 million more illegal aliens in the next 10 years, according to a demographic study I've seen.

They'll flood our schools. Our health care system will collapse. And our social services system will end up being overtaxed. And we've got to get control of our borders because if we don't, we're going to see our economy collapse.

DOBBS: Well, that economy, we know the estimates by the most authoritative and recent study put the suppressed wages at $200 billion a year as a result of immigration, both legal and illegal. We know that the costs, the estimated costs run about $50 billion for services. And I can't tell you, Mr. Chairman, how many people have said to me, typically open border activists, activists in support of illegal aliens, saying, but we provide $7 billion in Social Security taxes every year, as if that is some sort of reasonable offset.

(Dear Lou, if illegal aliens provide 7 billion in social security taxes, how much do they provide in Gas Taxes? Hotel Taxes? Automobile Taxes? Property Taxes? Cigarette Taxes? Alcohol Taxes? You act like these numbers are static. You’re fucking moron.)

SENSENBRENNER: You know, the fact of the matter remains is that I don't want to hear anybody come and complaining about the fact that illegal aliens are flooding the school system and the hospital system and that the federal government ought to bail them out because we're trying to curtail this. And he sure is on the other side.

DOBBS: It's amazing. One understands the emotion involved in this. The -- the thing that I have a difficulty understanding -- and I would love to know what your reaction is -- why there should be any debate.

Dobbs: It seems to me you cannot possibly -- and if anybody will defeat the logic of this syllogism, I'll be glad to step aside on the national discussion and debate on illegal immigration and border security. It seems to me straightforward.

We cannot reform immigration if we cannot control immigration. We cannot control immigration unless we can secure our borders and control those borders.

Is there something here I'm missing?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, anywhere from 3,000 to 8,000 illegal aliens will cross the border. Most disappearing into American society. A wave of illegal immigration affecting every aspect of American life. Undercutting wages and jobs for low-skilled Americans and legal immigrants and crowding classrooms, hospitals and prisons.

ROMANS: According to the Pew Hispanic Center, more people are now coming here illegally than through legal channels. More than half enter without a high school education, and American public schools educate their children.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform says taxpayers spend $12 billion a year on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally. Another $17 billion for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.

It is federal law to provide free emergency health care to those here illegally. Congress has set aside a billion taxpayer dollars each year to reimburse all hospitals. A total, administrators complain, is a fraction of their costs.

Meanwhile, employers hire cheap labor with virtually no risk. The Government Accountability Office found only three employers fined in 2004 for illegal hiring, down from 417 in 1999.

At the same time, America's criminal justice system is bulging with these citizens of other countries. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 30 percent of federal prisoners are not U.S. citizens. At a cost of $63 a day, taxpayers spend more than $3 million every day to house non-U.S. citizen dollars in our federal prisons. Most are thought to be illegal aliens.

DOBBS: The Sensenbrenner legislation is sort of off focused right now, except in these demonstrations. We're watching a guest worker program move through. It looks like everybody's going to get what they want as far as the Judiciary Committee on ag workers and the hell with border security and controlling immigration. What do you think?

MURGUIA: That's not true. There's got to be...

DOBBS: ... Which part isn't true?

MURGUIA: Well enforcement and security have to be part of a comprehensive solution to this crisis that we're seeing happening right now in immigration. And the McCain-Kennedy bill, which is the focus of the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting today, really has security and enforcement measures in it. They do.

DOBBS: You and I both know ...

MURGUIA: ... They do, and we know it has to be part of it.

DOBBS: There is no way you could even talk about border security in that legislation. Secondly, it is nothing more than a pay for citizenship. I mean it is a disastrous attempt in immigration reform.

MURGUIA: That's your opinion, but the fact is...

DOBBS: It is and that's who I'm speaking for.

MURGUIA: ... we've got a broad coalition that was a bipartisan vote that came out and conservatives like Sam Brownback and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, those aren't exactly your liberals, they support.

DOBBS: I don't care what they are.

MURGUIA: Well but they support the McCain-Kennedy solution on this ...

DOBBS: Well, good for them.

MURGUIA: ... in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

DOBBS: I think they're wrong-headed as they can possible be.

MURGUIA: Well the fact of the matter is, is we want to find solutions. We can all have opinions about what we think of the issue and we know it's broken, but let's focus on solutions. This is a comprehensive solution that offers security. It offers a guest worker program and it offers a way to deal with the 11-to-12 million undocumented folks who are here.

DOBBS: It gives them a chance to buy citizenship, the McCain -- and that's simply what it is. It is a guest worker program. This president talking about a guest worker program. There is no security for the borders.

And just help me out with this, Janet. Explain to me something just as simple as I can, because what you're talking about are conservatives and liberals at the far end of this debate, both as liberals and conservatives, and frankly I think there is wrong-head at both ends because they merge on this.

They're both owned by the corporate interests and the special interests in this country. The Democrats looking for votes. The Republicans looking to exploit cheap labor. There's no significant fine against illegal employers and you and I both know it. There's not another element of border security.

MURGUIA: There's a broad coalition that includes business industry, labor, the Catholic Church.

DOBBS: Here, let me give you a broad...

MURGUIA: ... No, but just a second. Give me a chance here. What we've seen is a lot of people come together and say, "We have to have -- we're a nation of laws and we're a nation of immigrants. We can be a welcoming society and we can be a society that's a lawful society."

This McCain-Kennedy bill offers the right balance that says we can have enforcement of security, but it also recognizes that we need to deal with the future flow of immigrants and this guest worker provision is not amnesty. It basically says people have to go to the end the line, pay fines and learn English and then they can qualify. And then it says we have to deal practically with the 12 million who are here. The Sensenbrenner bill doesn't do that.

DOBBS: Why are all those demonstrators out there carrying Mexican flags?

MURGUIA: Well there's a sense of pride with anybody. We just had St. Patrick's Day. Are you saying that Irish, because they're holding up their Irish flags, that all of a sudden they're not loyal or they're un-American? It's a double standard to say that people from one country can wave their flag, but people who want to be Americans can wave another flag, but they're not being loyal. That's a double standard. Irish Americans...

DOBBS: ... Are you accusing me of a double standard? (editor's note: yes Lou, I'm accusing you of a double standard. In fact I'm accusing you of being a racist.)

MURGUIA: Well, I'm just saying.

DOBBS: Because I want you to look me in the eye and I want you to hear me loud and clear.

MURGUIA: Yes, I'm right here.

DOBBS: OK, are you ready to listen to me loud and clear?

MURGUIA: I'm here.

DOBBS: I don't think that we should have any flag flying in this country except the flag of the United States. And let me tell you something else, since we're talking about double standards and I think you're right about people who would believe that.

But let's be clear. I don't think there should be a St. Patrick's Day. I don't care who you are. I think we ought to be celebrating what is common about this country, what we enjoy as similarities as people. And as Peter Viles was reporting, talking about the culture and the heritage of their people and that's why they want to hold up the Mexican flag or Ecuadorian flag.

MURGUIA: No, this is about the American dream, this is about the aspirations of being Americans.

DOBBS: No, let me finish. No, the American dream is being ripped out of the hands of millions of U.S. citizens today. Their jobs are being outsourced. Their schools are falling apart. Half of the Hispanics in this country are dropping out of high school, half of them, and you know that. Half of our -- young blacks are dropping out of high school.

MURGUIA: But look at the contributions. Look at the contributions that immigrants are making. They're paying federal taxes.

DOBBS: Not immigrants, not immigrants, no they're not.

MURGUIA: But Hispanics immigrants, they are paying federal taxes.


MURGUIA: Hispanics and immigrants contribute $519 billion into the Social Security trust fund, a trust fund that's going to pay your Social Security benefits.

DOBBS: Let me given you a real piece of bad news for you. Over half of those people coming to this country illegally don't have a high school education. They're going to be a net drag on the social services of this country. We're going to be supporting them, our social safety net.

MURGUIA: They're going to provide the work force that's up to 25 percent of that work force that is contributing and sustaining the Social Security trust fund that you and many others are going to be able to benefit, $519 billion.

DOBBS: $519 billion? Janet, can I tell you right now, and I want to say this in front of God and everybody, whoever told you that illegal immigrants are going to contribute $519 billion...

MURGUIA: ... Immigrants and Hispanics.

DOBBS: Hispanics now? Now you're saying...

MURGUIA: ... I'm saying that -- you can look it...

DOBBS: .... Excuse me. Do you think that most Hispanics in this country buy this nonsense, that illegal immigration is great?

You don't think that there's a division in what Hispanics and Latinos in this country think about illegal immigration?

MURGUIA: No, I think that there are a lot of people who bring different points of view. But I think they all recognize that there's a common objective.

DOBBS: But why would you incorporate what Hispanics do?

MURGUIA: There's a common agenda here in the sense that we want to provide an opportunity to fix the broken system. It needs a comprehensive solution...

DOBBS: OK, here's a solution.

MURGUIA: ... that includes enforcement and it includes a guest worker program in dealing with those 12 million undocument.

DOBBS: Here's a solution. You tell me what's wrong it. First we secure our borders. Then we create a rational and humane immigration policy. We take control of the immigration and our borders in that order.

MURGUIA: We can do enforcement and we can make sure we're supporting some opportunities. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We really can, we're in the 21st century, we can figure this out. We're a nation of laws and a nation with immigrations. DOBBS: Janet, I would love to say you're right, but you're watching people go on the set and say they're not talking about amnesty when they're talking about guest workers program. You're watching people sit there and say to you that they're -- please, they're equating Hispanics and illegal aliens.

MURGUIA: We've poured millions and billions of dollars into enforcement-only approaches.

DOBBS: Are you not doing that? Equating Hispanics and illegal aliens?


DOBBS: You said Hispanics and immigrants?

MURGUIA: No, I'm not doing that. I think other people are doing that.

DOBBS: Where did you get the $519 billion?

MURGUIA: We have a documented report that shows in the Social Security suspension files when they look at who isn't -- they can't identify names, they look at who is contributing. Those are often immigrants without documents who are paying into the Social Security system.

DOBBS: Seven billion dollars a year, do you know what they're costing in terms of social service and suppressed wages a year.

MURGUIA: I'm just saying, they're going to see a lot of...

DOBBS: It's a quarter of a billion dollars.

MURGUIA: ... the economic vitality that we see in this country is due in large part to the immigrant work force.

DOBBS: Why do you say immigrant? We're talking about illegal immigration.

MURGUIA: Well there's immigrants here who are contributing to that.

DOBBS: I would hope so, they have for 200 years.

MURGUIA: Yes, right.

DOBBS: But what about the illegals?

MURGUIA: Let's fix the system, Lou. Let's get a solution that works...

DOBBS: ... That's right, secure the border and then we can worry about the rest.

MURGUIA: But we can secure the border and find opportunities to deal with this. If we just do enforcement only, that's what we did in 1996.

DOBBS: It's four and a half years after September 11th...

MURGUIA: And it hasn't worked.

DOBBS: ... we've got a Homeland Security Department that still can't secure a port or a border. We have got a big problem. We can't walk and chew gum, not with this government and not with this administration.

MURGUIA: And American people...

DOBBS: Janet Murguia of La Raza...

MURGUIA: (INAUDIBLE) aspire to that, I think, and we can figure this out.

DOBBS: Janet Murguia, the head of La Raza. Good to have you with us.

MURGUIA: Nice to see you here.

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