2.28.2007

Rudy for Legalization of Immigrants

Rudy gave an interview to Diario de México in which he expresses: 1) support for the legalization on America's undocumented workers; and 2) opposition to a physical wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Rudy proves again that he's an unconventional and fearless politician.

Giuliani asks for legalization of immigrants Diario de México, 2/8/07. (Reprinted The Independent Press Association NY's Voices That Must Be Heard)

Possible Republican contender for the U.S. presidential race, Rudolph Giuliani, said that the wall between the United States and Mexico should be based on technology. He announced his belief that undocumented immigrants who are currently in the country should be legalized.

In an interview this week, which he held with the intention of taking steps toward formalizing his candidacy for the Republican nomination, the ex-mayor of New York addressed in detail his position on immigration.

“There should be legalization for those who are (already) here. There should be a legal program while security along the border is strengthened,” Giuliani said.

He indicated that the ability to speak and read English and knowledge of U.S. history should be among the conditions for legalization of the millions of undocumented people who live in the country.

“It isn’t an amnesty; it means earning citizenship,” said the ex-mayor, who hopes to formalize his candidacy in the next few weeks.

On the other hand, he said, “I believe that, with the wall, it should be, honestly, a technological barrier,” to be able to “photograph people, watch them, know who is around there, and record them,” Giuliani told Fox Television.

He explained, just as his party’s leader Mel Martinez did, that the physical wall does not make sense, since the only people who could construct it would be the undocumented workers they are intending to leave outside of it.

The investment in technology, said Giuliani, would yield better and more effective results, since it would allow, in the medium and long term, vigilance of everyone who enters the country by crossing the border.

“I support security on our borders. I believe that security is an enormously important topic” after the 2001 terrorist attacks, he added.

Giuliani is considered a solid candidate for the Republican nomination, but his possibilities will be put to the test when the most conservative voters from his party analyze his positions on social matters.

On the topics of abortion, gay rights and gun control, Giuliani holds much more entrist views than most Republicans.

An Immigrant for President?

Are Americans voters understanding that the U.S. really does exist within a larger global sphere, and is that new awareness beginning to influence their political choices?

For example, while there are other reasons to explain the public's growing support for Rudy and Obama, they do seem to be defying the usual drag of American political gravity. Perhaps it's their 'immigrant' heritage that's giving them a lift?

Obama is an American with both a foreign national father and personal experience as an immigrant in a foreign land--Indonesia. Also, Obama has represented Chicago--a leading immigrant center in America.

Giuliani is the former mayor of what some in America refer to as the Republic of New York--a City that prides itself on being the capitol of the world and a leading immigrant mecca. And Giuliani's own grandparents were part of that great tide of Southern European immigrants that splashed onto U.S. shores in the early 1900's.

American politicians often communicate either disinterest or extreme awkwardness in regards to dealing with international issues and leaders.

But I get the sense that neither Rudy or Obama fear the outside world. They appear to have a better sense of the world, its peoples and its aspirations.

Perhaps, that's why Rudy can easily engage leaders from across the globe and advise them on governance and public safety. This is also perhaps why Senator Barack Obama saw the mistake of the Iraq War and its consequences before he ever joined his colleagues in the U.S. Senate.

While neither Obama or Rudy is technically an immigrant, they're both recent products of America's glorious immigrant story. They have the immigrant saga in their souls and they both sport its sensibility. Both see a world directly tied to America through the bonds of family and commerce.

Both, I suspect, see a world waiting for an American leader that can lead America and the world.

Zogby Poll Shows Only Obama Beating Rudy, McCain and Edwards

Great news for Senator Barack Obama. The latest Zogby International survey of 1,078 likely voters (+/-3%) shows him besting Rudy, McCain and Romney in head-to-head match-ups.

Obama 51% vs Romney 29%
Obama 46% vs Giuliani 40%
Obama 44% vs McCain 40%

In other match ups, Rudy beats Clinton (+7pts) and Edwards (+6pts). McCain beats Clinton (+8pts) and Edwards (+12). Both Clinton (+7pts) and Edwards (+15pts) beat Romney.

Globalization: U.S. governors say transform education

According to the AP's Governors Push to Keep U.S. Competitive (2-27-07), the nation's governors acknowledge that globalization has come to every hometown, every school and every workplace. However, American students and workers are ill-prepared.

The governors ended a 4-day National Governors Association's meeting with a call for a "national commitment to change."

Instead of calling for counter-productive measures such raising barriers to trade and closing borders to immigrant workers, the governors have rightly focused on the need "a sweeping transformation of education, worker training and economic development."

Here are some of the strategies the governors propose:

Refocus on science, technology, engineering, math and foreign language proficiency. They are seeking programs to encourage students and teachers in those subject matters.

Make worker training more flexible, coordinate training with regional needs and make progress measurable.

Create federal ''competitive innovation grants'' to encourage states to develop regional hubs that build on existing strengths, like computer development in North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham area.

2.27.2007

Poll: Clinton Losing African Americans to Obama

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll has some surprising results, including:

  • While Clinton had a 40 pt advantage over Obama with African Americans, Obama has surged to an 11 pt edge. (The poll was conducted after the Clintons scolded Obama for David Geffen’s remarks.)
  • While just 30% Americans view Obama unfavorably, an astounding 49% view Clinton unfavorably.
  • Rudy doubled his lead over McCain--44% to 21%--from a 13 pt advantage a month ago.
  • Among Republicans, Rudy is seen as the stronger leader; however, 4 out of 10 are less likely to support him because of his liberal social views.
  • While 47% of Democrats believe Clinton’s pro-Iraq War vote was wrong, just 31% think she should apologize for it.

The Loony Right Stupidly Attacks Rudy on Immigrant

While rank and file Republicans appear to be embracing America's Mayor as their candidate, the Loony Right is feverishly trying to block Rudy Giuliani's path to the nomination.

Their latest weapon?

On the first day of his five-day California swing, a blog popular with state conservatives, Flash Report.org, posted a YouTube clip from a February 2000 Meet the Press in which Giuliani boasts that no public official in the nation is "more strongly pro-immigrant than I am."
The Radical Right, which doesn't like Rudy for numerous reasons including the fact that he's a New Yorker and of Italian American heritage, should find some other issue to throw against Rudy. It's immigration that is likely to help propel rather than hurt Rudy's cause.

Why?

First, Rudy's pro-immigrant beliefs will likely resonate with Americans. After all, a huge percentage of the country has an immigrant heritage--and it's more likely than not to resemble something like Rudy's.

Second, raising the issue allows Rudy to separate himself from the nativists and those pandering to them--which will only help raise his stature even more. Americans like someone that's tough, but they don't like stupid or mean.

Third, Rudy's direct experience with 9/11 gives him a clarity and an authority fighting terrorism and protecting the homeland that none of his opponents has. He would argue that we need to be smart and strategic in the war on terror--and that efforts to scape-goat immigrants are dumb and potentially counter-productive.

And finally, he's one of the few politicians that can talk about rationale reform, effective enforcement and improved U.S. and Mexico cooperation.

So if I were Rudy, I'd say to the Loony Right: Bring it on!

Madres Contra la Guerra

Madres Contra la Guerra (Mothers Against the War) is a weblog in Spanish and English by group of mothers in Puerto Rico. Here's how they describe themselves:

Nosotras tenemos básicamente la función como madres de educar para la paz. La guerra es la antítesis de la maternidad. Exigimos porque se cumplan los derechos humanos y civiles de nuestros hujos e hijas militares: en salud educación y bienestar social. También pretendemos con humildad educar al pueblo sobre la cara real de lo que significa el militarismo y el costo humano social y psicológico de la salud de nuestros hijos y de los hijos de los iraquíes que no conocemos.
The weblog has a moving piece by Mandalit del Barco entitled Iraq War Hits Close to Home in Puerto Rico. It ends with the following lament:

"I lost my son and I feel like nothing. Like nobody," he says. "I lost the greatest man in the world and I blame the U.S. for that. I blame Bush."

During the annual festival in Quebradillas, Roman de Jesus looks out at the audience as he sings with his trio onstage. But he can no longer see his No. 1 fan cheering him on. He says music doesn't hold the same joy it once did.

His latest song is a sad lament, dedicated to Alexis and all the other sons and daughters who've been killed in Iraq.

"Other mothers and fathers are suffering," he sings, "all of Puerto Rico, too." And he warns them, "Don't let our children die in Iraq."

Laura J. McCarthy: An Iraq War Veteran's Mother Speaks Out

Laura J. McCarthy from Eagle, Idaho, is the mother of an Iraq War veteran and a member of Military Families Speak Out. Her letter was published in the Idaho Statesman on January 31, 2007.

'George Bush -- Colossal error'

Bush accepts responsibility for mistakes in the Iraq war. However, he falls short of admitting the truth: Invading Iraq was a colossal error. He emphasizes our overwhelming need to "win." Yet how can a war based on misconceptions and outright lies ever truly be "won"? Still, Bush offers up for sacrifice more American soldiers, insisting this is the only path to win this war.

Bush said it himself. If he would only listen to his own words ... He said this war will not end with one side surrendering to the other. He's right. Terrorism is not a particular country, religion, or group of any specific people. Terrorism is a frame of mind that results from hate, poverty, inequality, misunderstanding and intolerance. War neither eradicates nor heals these root causes. As proven in Iraq, war fuels the flames of
terrorism.

Bush needs to admit that the current situation in Iraq is a catastrophe of his own making and quit hiding behind the bravery of our soldiers. The beginning of the end to the chaos in Iraq is to be found in getting our soldiers out of Iraq, not by sending more to their graves.

Laura J. McCarthy

With 17 Nominations, Latinos Win 4 Oscars

The Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences nominated the largest number of Latinos for Oscar Gold for outstanding film achievements ever.

Seventeen Latinos competed in 15 of the 23 categories; Pan's Labyrinth won 6 nominations.

During last night's Academy Awards, Latinos received 4 Oscars--with Pan's Labyrinth snagging 3 of the statues.

Below is the list of Latino nominees with the winners in bold. Congratulations to all.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Penelope Cruz - Volver

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Adriana Barraza - Babel

Achievement in art direction
Eugenio Caballero/ Pilar Revuelta - Pan’s Labyrinth

Achievement in cinematography
Guillermo Navarro - Pan’s Labyrinth

Achievement in directing
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Babel

Achievement in film editing
Alex Rodriquez - Children of Men

Best foreign language film of the year
Pan’s Labyrinth
Guillermo Del Toro (director); Belen Atienzo, Elena Manrique (producers)

Achievement in make-up
David Marti/Montse Ribe - Pan’s Labyrinth

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Gustavo Santaolalla - Babel

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Javier Navarette - Pan’s Labyrinth

Best motion picture of the year
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Babel

Best live action short film
Javier Fesser/Luis Manso, Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)
Borja Cobeaja, Eramos Pocos (One Too Many)

Achievement in sound mixing
Fernando Camara - Apocalypto

Adapted screenplay
Alfonso Cuaron - Children of Men

Original Screenplay
Guillermo Arriaga - Babel
Guillermo del Toro - Pan’s Labyrinth

2.26.2007

The Myth of Immigrant Criminality

Ruben G. Rumbaut and Walter A. Ewing have written a new Immigration Policy Center report entitled "The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation: Incarceration Rates among Native and Foreign-Born Men."

Here is an abstract:

Because many immigrants to the United States, especially Mexicans and Central Americans, are young men who arrive with very low levels of formal education, popular stereotypes tend to associate them with higher rates of crime and incarceration.

The fact that many of these immigrants enter the country through unauthorized channels or overstay their visas often is framed as an assault against the rule of law, thereby reinforcing the impression that immigration and criminality are linked.

This association has flourished in a post-9/11 climate of fear and ignorance where terrorism and undocumented immigration often are mentioned in the same breath.

However, data from the census and other sources show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.

The problem of crime in the United States is not caused or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status. But the misperception that the opposite is true persists among policymakers, the media, and the general public, thereby undermining the development of reasoned public responses to both crime and immigration.

Bob Herbert: The Clintons as 'The Connivers'

Bob Herbert's Mud, Dust, Whatever (NYTimes 2-26-07) is a must read. (You can also read the whole column at the weblog Welcome to Pottersville.) Here are select excerpts:

If Bill and Hillary Clinton were the stars of a reality TV show, it would be a weekly series called “The Connivers.”

Their latest project is to contrive ways to knock Barack Obama off his white horse and muddy him up a little. A lot, actually.

What I found interesting was that no one questioned whether the Clintons would be willing to get down in the muck and start flinging it around. That was a given.

It’s ironic that the first woman with a real shot at the presidency comes off not as a compelling underdog but as the powerful front-runner at the controls of a ruthless political machine.

But here’s a bit of unsolicited advice for a candidate making his first foray into the crucible of presidential politics:

Don’t listen to those who tell you not to fight back against the Clintons. Raising politics to a higher level does not mean leaving oneself defenseless.

Immigrants: We Want Their Military Service but Not Them

In Immigrant Paradox, Bobbie Bowman observes that "paradoxes exist because immigrants have become central to meeting our labor needs, yet some people still want to keep them on the fringes of society."

For example, immigrants are sacrificing their lives as volunteer members of the U.S. Armed Forces during a time in which nativists have unleashed one of the most shameful anti-immigrant periods in American history.

The message is clear: We want the military service of immigrants but we don't want them.

But check out the sacrifices that "aliens" have made for America, while nativists shoot at immigrants from their safe perches in the homeland:
  • Over 200 awards/medals to non-U.S. citizens in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,
  • Over 100 non-U.S. citizens have died in military action since the 2001.
  • Over 24,000 non-U.S. citizens are on active duty in the armed forces.
  • Since 2001, federal immigration officials have naturalized 24,745 military service members.
  • More than 10,000 non-U.S. citizens with foreign-language skills have allowed for a "linguistically more competent military."

    Click here for the rest of the story.

Latino Immigrants' Strong Work Ethic

In Hispanics do jobs others in U.S. "won't stand for" (Reuters 2-25-07), Andrea Hopkins finds that Latino immigrant workers are highly desired by small and large U.S. businesses for their strong work ethic.

Here are excerpts:

As President George W. Bush's plans for a guest worker program languishes in a backlash against immigration, employers both large and small say they rely on Hispanic workers to keep the economy running.

Criticized on one hand for taking jobs from unemployed Americans or for working too cheaply, Latinos are complimented on the other for doing work others won't do -- a tightrope where stereotypes seem to work both for and against them.

"The stereotype of immigrants, particularly Latino immigrants, is that they're willing to work harder."

The very traits that make Latinos valued employees can also hinder their own career advancement, said Mariela Dabbah, co-author of "The Latino Advantage in the Workplace."

Obama's Magical Run

No matter where you stand politically, there's no denying that there's something magical about Senator Barack Obama's run for the U.S. presidency.

Of course, that so many people come out to get a glimpse of him is as much a statement about America as it is about Obama himself.

Americans everywhere want a change and many see the young, articulate and handsome junior senator from Illinois as embodying the most exciting and hopeful change.

To some observers, Obama's run appears to be generating the same type of enthusiams and crowds that Bobby Kennedy received in his all too short campaign.

Anyone that's taken the time to read his books and to listen or read his speeches, knows that Obama is not your ordinary politician. Obama is a thinker--as well as a pretty good reader of the body politic--a rare and powerful combination.

By comparison, while very smart--even Hillary's closest advisors admit that she's a bit tone death politically.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Obamamania will continue unabated. If he's not the real deal, the public will likely figure it out. But so far he's having a pretty good run.

Check out the numbers of people attending campaign events since he announced his candidacy just 2 weeks ago:

  • February 10: Springfield, Illinois in 7 degree weather: 17,000
  • February 12: Iowa: Crowds largest for a campaign kick-off, including Cedar Rapids, Waterloo - two or three thousand per event; Ames, about 5,000 people - were at the Hilton Coliseum; house parties in Iowa Falls attracted 200.
  • February 17: Columbia, South Carolina: 2,800 in Columbia; 2,000 at Claflin University.
  • February 23: Austin, Texas under rainy conditions: 20,000.
  • February 26 - Cleveland, Ohio: large turnout expected at Cuyahoga Community College rally this evening.
  • Additionally, 46,678 visitors to the candidate's website www.BarackObama.com have endorsed his the senator's Iraq de-escalation Act.

Kissinger: Use Diplomacy To End Iraq War

It’s one thing to dismiss Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, the Europeans, or even independent-minded members of their own party such as Senator Chuck Hagel, but can Bush and Cheney ignore Henry Kissinger?

Ever the diplomat, Henry Kissinger, in a letter to the International Herald Tribune titled It’s Time To Start Talking, subtly criticizes the Bush administration’s Iraq War policy while making the case for diplomacy.

Kissinger writes that “[f]rom the beginning…I have supported the decision to overthrow Saddam, but I have also argued that no outcome in the middle of the Arab world could rest on imposition by military force alone. Diplomacy should always have been treated as an integral part of Iraq strategy.”

He complains that it’s in the world’s interest to help stabilize Iraq and the region but that none of the countries impacted by the chaos has asked to “contribute even ideas, much less been enlisted in the quest for a political solution.”

Kissinger’s recommendation: an international conference.

A conference, Kissinger believes, would serve the duel purposes of allowing the U.S. to extract itself militarily from Iraq, while also facilitating bilateral discussions with Iran and Syria regarding the region’s balance of power. His suggestions for membership include the permanent members of the Security Council; Iraq's neighbors; key Islamic countries like India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia; and major oil consumers like Germany and Japan.

Kissinger—who refers to the world but probably means the U.S.--warns that the world can seize the moment and deploy smart diplomacy to end the Iraq War, or it can continue down the current exhausting and counterproductive path.

It seems to me that Kissinger has done Bush and Cheney a major favor by offering an option to the status quo.

Is Hillary a Speech Scold?

Can a presidential candidate today brow beat opponents and the press into making certain lines of inquiry taboo?

Anne Kornblut writes that that was just what the Hillary tried to do last week with her campaign's over-the-top response to David Geffen’s unflattering comments about the Clintons.

They declared her husband's impeachment in 1998 -- or, more accurately, the embarrassing personal behavior that led to it -- taboo, putting her rivals on notice and all but daring other Democrats to mention the ordeal again.
However, Mickey Kaus offers that while a strategy of intimidation may have worked during Bill’s rule in the 1990s, it won’t in the age of the blogosphere. In the past, the Clintons could simply pressure a few MSM executives to squash a story or exile a reporter. While those tactics can still be used against the MSM, they’re largely ineffective--and counter-productive--when applied to the new media.

Besides, the thing new media producers despise most is a speech scold.

2.25.2007

Richardson and Giuliani Top PajamasMedia's Poll

It's no secret that the MSM prefers Hillary Clinton as the next U.S. President, but who is the blogosphere rooting for?

The good news is that the blogosphere does not operate as a monolith the way MSM does. That is, bloggers as a group--unlike MSM reporters--are infinitely freer to think for themselves and write what they want. Bloggers simply do not have to answer to the biases of their political sources, corporate hierarchies, owners, or even readers. Weblog readers--which are often weblog writers--also tend to be a hugely diverse and very independent-minded group.

The bottom line is that the blogosphere can not--and would not--unite behind a single candidate. But still, which candidate does the hyper diverse world of political webloggers and weblog readers believe is winning?

According to the most recent PajamasMedia's Presidential Straw Poll, a weekly online survey of blogger opinion, places Bill Richardson at the top of the Democratic field with 34.4% of the vote. Barack Obama is second with 18.2% of the vote. Hillary Clinton is far back with just 8.0% of the vote.

On the Republican side, PajamasMedia's Presidential Straw Poll places Rudy Giuliani ahead with 3o%, followed by Newt Gingrich with 20.3%. John McCain is far back with just 4.7%.

While unscientific and subject to partisan manipulation, the 'poll' serves as an interesting--if only entertaining--views of PajamasMedia poll takers. I'll make sure to check in again to see who's up and who's down in the coming weeks and months.

Latino housekeepers in Savannah arrested for taking the garbage

In Latino housekeepers take out the garbage, but can't take it home (savannahnow 2-25-07), Anne Hart writes about how the immigration debate is playing out in an exclusive Savannah (Georgia) waterfront community.

The waterfront gated community of Dutch Island has become a microcosm of the immigration debate raging throughout the country.

In one corner are homeowners who have Latino housekeepers scrub Corian counter tops and fold high-thread-count linens.

In the other are protect-the-border neighbors suspicious of those who don't speak English and don't understand the customs of this country.

Stuck in the middle are the Latino workers who came to the United States to make money and are willing to sweat through jobs serving the upper-middle class, jobs like cleaning homes for $8-$10 an hour.

Those three groups converged behind the security gates of Dutch Island on Jan. 16.

Click here for the rest of the story.

According to the U.S. census data (2005 estimate), Chatham County, which includes the City of Savannah and Dutch Island, has a population of 238,410, of which 2.7% (or 6,437 persons) are of Latino heritage--which is below the 7% statewide figure.

While I've never visited Savannah, my understanding is that it is a perfectly lovely place. And while Savannah, as in other parts of the U.S., suffers from the weight of looney racists such as this person, its decent residents are more welcoming of Savannah's future.

Do I hear a Latin Savannah beat? After all, Dutch Island is also known as the Isle of Hope.

'Bilingual in the Boonies' to Nashville Council: Ridiculosos!

I love Bilingual in the Boonies!

Her weblog is a journal of life as a transplanted Cubana, writer and mami living in Tennessee. I especially love the quiet confidence and even fun she bring's to her life in Dixie.

Here's an excerpt from a her post titled Yee Haw Y'all on the English-only ordinance that was passed by the Nashville City Council.

While the comebolas who voted for an English-only bill in my adopted hometown were wondering whether the mayor would veto their short-sighted bill, I was at a newly-formed Spanish mamasita playgroup. The mayor came through and we mamis had mucho fun en español. A good day for all. So, take that, ridiculosos.
FYI: Nashville Latinos stood united against the ordinance, which was subsequently vetoed by Mayor Purcell.

Click here for the full Yee Haw Y'all post and a link to an editorial column Bilingual in the Boonies deems reading that is "Muy fun".

Bill Gates: Pro Education & Immigration Reform

Bill Gates' How to Keep America Competitive (Washington Post 2-25-07), in which he calls for public school and immigration reforms in order to enhance America's economic competitiveness, is right on.

The on education reform he says, "we must demand strong schools so that young Americans enter the workforce with the math, science and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the knowledge economy." He cites San Diego's High Tech High, an innovative technology oriented charter school with its 100% college admissions, as an example of the kinds of schools we need.

First, we must demand strong schools so that young Americans enter the workforce with the math, science and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the knowledge economy.
On immigration reform, Gates is for expanding the immigrant pool for people with engineering and science training. He's calling on Congress to make it easier for engineers and scientists to enter the country to live and work.

Reforming the green card program to make it easier to retain highly skilled professionals is also necessary. These employees are vital to U.S. competitiveness, and we should welcome their contribution to U.S. economic growth.
And he's for allowing foreign students earning science related degrees to stay to live and work in the United States.

We should also encourage foreign students to stay here after they graduate. Half of this country's doctoral candidates in computer science come from abroad. It's not in our national interest to educate them here but send them home when they've completed their studies.
Gates' recommendations make sense to me, especially his emphasis on preparing more American students for careers in science and engineering. More schools like the High Tech High charter schools should be established--especially in the inner cities.

In terms of importing talent from abroad, I'm for that, too.

While I'd prefer to meet the demand for engineers and scientists internally, the truth is that our schools are not cutting it--especially those serving working class communities, and improving has been fiercely resisted by the public school lobby. Importing the talent is then a logical option.

However, the importation of educated foreign talent for high paying jobs in the U.S. maybe just the type of thing that may get politicians to push for real educational reform.

2.24.2007

Give me your tired, your poor

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

—Emma Lazarus, 1883

2.23.2007

Dr. James Fearon explains why the U.S. can't win in Iraq

In Why the U.S. Can't Win Iraq's Civil War (Foreign Affairs - March/April '07), Dr. James of Fearon, a political scientist at Stanford University and an expert on civil wars, makes the most reasoned political and moral case for U.S. withdrawal from the Iraq War.

These are his major points:
1) In fact, there is a civil war in progress in Iraq, one comparable in important respects to other civil wars that have occurred in post colonial states with weak political institutions. [Additionally, the] average duration for civil wars since 1945 has been about ten years.

2) [Post colonial civil wars] suggest that the Bush administration's political objective in Iraq -- creating a stable, peaceful, somewhat democratic regime that can survive the departure of U.S. troops -- is unrealistic.

3) Given this unrealistic political objective, military strategy of any sort is doomed to fail almost regardless of whether the administration goes with the "surge" option, as President George W. Bush has proposed, or shifts toward a pure training mission, as advised by the Iraq Study Group.

4) As long as the Bush administration remains absolutely committed to propping up the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or a similarly configured successor, the U.S. government will have limited leverage with almost all of the relevant parties.

5) By contrast, moving away from absolute commitment -- for example, by beginning to shift U.S. combat troops out of the central theaters -- would increase U.S. diplomatic and military leverage on almost all fronts.

1,000 U.S. GIs Petition Against Illogical War

In an unprecedented action, 1,000 active-duty and reserve members of the U.S. military have--under the protections of the 1995 Military Whistleblower act--submitted a petition to the U.S. Congress expressing their opposition to the Iraq War.

Several of them appear to explain their actions in a Lara Logan report to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday Feb. 25 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBSNews. Click here for the announcement.

Navy Officer Jonathan Hutto, an Iraq War veteran, and Marine Sgt. Liam Madden initiated the petition. Both are Iraq War veterans.

Here's part of what they told CBSNews' Lara Logan:

"I'm not anti-war. I'm not a pacifist. I'm not opposed to protecting our country and defending our principles. But at the same time, as citizens, it's our obligation to have a questioning attitude … about policy." Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto

"Just because we volunteered for the military doesn't mean we volunteered to put our lives in unnecessary harm and to carry out missions that are illogical and immoral." Marine Sgt. Liam Madden
Times -- they are a changing.

CBS/AP Photo

2.22.2007

Supporting Our Troops Means Bringing Them Home

In Support the Troops: Bring Them Home (TIME 2-19-07), Michael Kinsley get's it right.

President Bush believed that Iraq was a major threat to the U.S. and that the best course of action was to strike first before the gathering storm. However, the intelligence was wrong, so the war is wrong.

But under the circumstances, which position best exemplifies support for our troops: bring the troops home to their families, or keep them in Iraq and send in yet more of our bravest?

Here are two excerpts from Kinsley's persuasive article:

[President Bush's] intentions were noble, however naive and pigheaded. But the war was a horrible mistake. And as everyone comes to realize it was a mistake, continuing it becomes something much worse than a mistake.

There is something backward here. Congressional opponents of the Iraq war are "supporting the troops" in the best possible way: by trying to bring them home to safety and their families. It is those — those few, apart from President Bush — who want to send even more troops to Iraq who should feel defensive about their support for the troops. Some of those troops are on their third tour of duty in Iraq, and few of them are pleased to be there. Maybe, as Bush and his advisers no doubt sincerely believe, the drip drip drip of young American blood is worth it. Maybe the critics underestimate the peril of pulling out. Maybe the "surge" will turn out to be a huge success and vindicate Bush's strategy. But please — let's not pretend that staying the course is a favor to the troops.

Elizabeth Avalos' team beats USC and advances to nationals

Wearing a green baseball cap over her jet-black hair, she looks too cool for words, but actually [Elizabeth Avalos is] already on a state championship team and is bracing herself for verbal, intellectual combat — on a national level.

Avalos' confidence is etched on her determined face. Just two months ago, she and her debating teammates from tiny NHU in East San Jose defeated a heavily favored team from the University of Southern California to win the state Ethics Bowl title and a berth at the national championships next week.

Fearlessly, NHU will go up against 30 bigger regional champions, including perennial debating powers from UW, Indiana, Clemson and Navy.

Click here for the rest of the story.

The Clintons Response to Geffen's 'Truths' Tests Obama's Toughness

You knew it was bound to happen, but who knew it would be sparked by David Geffen of Dreamworks fame.

Geffen, a Hollywood billionaire and Bill and Hillary Clinton money man, ignited the first firestorm between the Clinton and Obama camps.

It happened when Geffen, speaking openly and strongly as is usually the case with super wealthy Hollywood types, told the NYTimes Columnist Maureen Dowd what he really thinks of the Clintons. The funny thing is that he didn't say anything that hasn't been said by people everywhere, which included:

    • Bill & Hill tend to stretch the truth
    • Republicans think Hill is easier to beat
    • Hill won't apologize for her Iraq vote
    • Bill is still Bill
Who hasn't heard any of that--and more--from the mouths of people across the land, including from Republicans and Democrats, alike.

The difference here is that it was said by a movie mogul. That is, the words were uttered by someone from what the Clintons view as their turf--or, if you prefer, their plantation: liberal Hollywood.

Moving quickly to change the subject away from Geffen 'truths' and the fact that a major past supporter has defected to the opposition, the Clinton's have attempted--with some measure of success--to make the story about Obama and whether or not he's prepared to stuff a rag in the mouths of his newly found supporters in Hollywood.

Obama of course wonders why he should apologize for what Clinton's former fund raiser and prominent individual has to say about them.

What's scary to watch is the ruthlessness in which the Clinton's respond and how skillfully they changed the subject away from their own failings to questions--even if they're made up--about their immediate opponent.

It's probably true that few Democrats could survive the Clinton attack machine. The question for Obama and his team is: Are they tough and smart enough to go toe-to-toe with the Clintons?

Use Court-Mandated Integration AND School Choice for Improved Education Opportunity for Children of Color

Hugh B. Price writes that the Supreme Court's view that racial integration and diversity constitute a compelling state interest at the collegiate level, is even more convincing in the case of public schools.

Looking to the future, the U.S. economy will rely increasingly on minority workers, entrepreneurs and taxpayers who represent a growing segment of the population. Yet black and Latino pupils in particular are concentrated in the nation's lowest-performing schools, with the least able teachers and the most inadequate facilities.

Surely, student assignment policies that enable them to attend good schools where they can maximize their talent and potential easily meet the test for a compelling state interest.
While I'm sympathetic to the notion of using the courts to pry open racially exclusionary public schools, its potential as a remedy is limited due to the dearth of quality schools in minority heavy school districts.

Attempting to integrate crapping schools has been a trillion dollar bust!

A more promising approach would be to eliminate racially exclusionary practices while opening up opportunities across all of K-12 education (including school districts, charter schools and private schools) would have a much greater impact.

Latinos Should Support Immigrants

Miguel Perez in Latinos who got here first should sympathize with others expresses his disgust for Latino bigotry against newer immigrants. I hear him--and I feel the same way.

It's a sad part of our history that members of immigrant groups scorch newer immigrants with levels of intolerance that rivals, and in some instances, surpasses the venomous views of traditional American bigots. Unfortunately, as Latinos enter the mainstream of American society some are using their status and position to attack more recent and less secure Latino immigrants.

Miguel Perez writes about two Latinas (Cuban Americans) which attacked him for his empathy for undocumented immigrants. When the women learned that Perez is of Cuban heritage and not Mexican, as they'd assumed, they were especially harsh:

Until today, we believed that you were Mexican. You do not know the shame that we feel, to have known that your mother and grandmother were Cubans. Why don't you go to Mexico, if you like the Mexicans so much?
Unfortunately, these two women are not the only Latinos holding anti-immigrant views today in this country. I've heard and read equally disturbing comments from others as well, and I'm especially disturbed when I hear anti-immigrant bigotry come from the mouths of my people--Americans of Puerto Rican heritage.

There's even a "Latino" lobby group called You don't speak for me whose purpose is to promote harsh anti-immigrant policies. It's figurehead is Col. Al Rodriguez, a Latino immigrant himself, but don't be fooled. The group was founded and is funded by right wingers with a distinctly anti-Latino immigration agenda.

If we're to create a society that truly values people, it seems to me that we should stop with the hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. And if any group should set a better example for other Americans, it ought to be Americans Latinos.

Slaughter: Giving Up Is to Escalate the Wrong War

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY-28), Chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, and my former congresswoman, questions the worthiness of spending more American lives and billions of taxpayer funds in escalating a dumb war--a war whose very premise is based on bad information and deadly wrong assumptions.

If that mission is the wrong one, then how is supporting the mission the same as supporting the troops? If that mission is the wrong one, then how is demanding a change giving up? Giving up means the opposite: it means insisting on a failing strategy.
But even if we didn't know early on that U.S. intelligence was wrong, the judgement of those interpreting so flawed, and therefore the resulting policies and strategies so off target, we know it now, so why would we continue risking the lives of U.S. soldiers and our defense funds on it?

Iraq is in the midst of a 'sectarian' war that could last--well, as long as it has already lasted--100s of years.

Our troops are being asked to do something that no army can do: find a military solution to a political problem. If the mission we have given our brave soldiers is the wrong one - and the past four years prove that this escalation is the wrong mission - then why would we help our enemies by refusing to change course?
The U.S. has taken its eyes off the ball and we're paying the price. Afghanistan is not yet secure to be used again as a launching pad for al Qaeda-sponsored terrorism. Actually, it's been reported that the terror network is back in operation on the borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The U.S. is more isolated then ever--which makes it ever more difficult to collect data and ground level information to fight international terrorism.

Americans have no greater reassurance that another catastrophic attack won't be launched on the homeland. Given the undisputed failures America is insecure about its safety--which is having a negative impact on a whole slew of issues at home, including: immigration, managing natural disasters, social investments, etc.

NYC: Coalition Seeks Vote for Legal Noncitizens

In another "Only in NYC" stories, The New York Coalition to Expand Voting Rights is advocating to allow legal non-citizens to vote in New York City elections.

According to The Immigrant Voting Project, noncitizen immigrant voting was a common feature of American political life during the first 150 years of U.S. history. Now the idea is being re-introduced in America. More than 40 countries around the world immigrants already have voting rights.

"This is taxation without representation!” said Chuck Mohan, Executive Director of Guyanese-American Workers United. “Collectively, immigrant New Yorkers pay more than $18.2 billion annually in New York State income taxes, but they have no say in how that tax money is spent.”

2.21.2007

The U.S. also put 2,300 Japanese Latino Americans in Concentration Camps

The shame of interning Japanese Americans during WWII is well known. However, the Washington Post reports that U.S. government also extracted 2,300 Latino Americans of Japanese descent from their homes in Peru and 12 other Latin American countries and forcibly transported them to the Crystal City, California concentration camp during WWII.

Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, and Dan Lungren, a Republican, are members of the U.S. House of Representatives from California, have now introduced H.R. 662, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act, a review the government's shameful actions and recommend appropriate remedies to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

It's disturbing that 1) the U.S. is guilty of such outrageous behavior, and 2) that nothing has ever been done about it until now.

Update: Haitian Immigrant Dr. Mathieu Eugene Wins Council Seat!

Dr. Mathieu Eugene, 54, was elected to the City Council of New York in yesterday's crowded special election, becoming the Council’s first Haitian-born member.

Dr. Eugene was quoted as saying, “We are making history. I’m so happy and delighted. This is a new era. And our mission now is to bring everyone together to work for the best interests of the community.”

Congratulations, Dr. Eugene.

Krikorian-Jacoby Immigration Debate Part II

Today's immigration debate question for Mark Krikorian and Tamar Jacoby is: Does the U.S. economy need all those illegal immigrants to stay or are they taking jobs away from Americans?

Again, Jacoby in Wanna work hunched over in a field? Knock yourself out! gets the better of Krikorian. Here's an excerpt:

And immigrants don't just keep the economy going, they grow it, making us all richer and more productive. You can't grow a business without new workers—and not only do most native-born workers already have jobs, but with most of us having smaller families and baby-boomers retiring en masse, the native-born workforce will soon be shrinking—shrinking dramatically.
In Bring in all the Bangladeshis, why don'tcha?, Kritkorian admits that immigration makes the U.S. richer, but he argues that it also makes American workers poorer. Strange logic? Would worker wages be higher in an America with sealed borders and less wealth?

Upon acknowledging that immigration enriches the country, Kritkorian is left arguing that our actual immigrants are a drag. Claiming that they cost of money--a dubious claim based on the research--he suggests his preference for upper crust immigrants.

Of course, the truth is that upper crust immigrants--as is the case with middle and upper-middle class Americans, cost government a great deal of money, too. The only difference is that unlike the overblown costs estimates of lower-wage workers, nobody ever bothers to calculate their costs in terms of infrastructure and services.

Think about it this way, what percentage of the trillions spent by local, state and federal government goes to support the activities, life-style and demands of the middle and upper classes in the country? Would anybody dare to say that that per capital amount is small or than what lower wage "unauthorized" immigrant workers receive?

But the silliness of Kritkorian's implied preference for foreign elites, is that Americans would resent the emergence of an immigrant class that is likely to be better educated and economically more prosperous.

BTW: This type of elite immigration already exists in some countries--and it's creating deep resentment among the locals.

For example, baby-boomer Americans are moving in growing numbers to countries such as Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico. While they're creating new economic opportunity for some in those countries, they're causing local prices inreal estate and services to rise out of proportion to what many locals can pay. Americans are quickly becoming the overdogs in societies across the Caribbean and Central America--and resentment is growing.

Again, Jacoby wins!

Honey, I Shrunk the Coalition

The incredibly shrinking Coalition of the Willing just got smaller.

Tony Blair of Britain announced plans to withdrawal an additional 1,600 troops, resulting in a force of about 5,000 by the summer. (Britain's orginal deployment totaled 45,000.) And Denmark's 460 troop commitment expires in June, and Lithuania is set to bring its 53 troops home.

These countries join a long list of nations that have opted out, or have significantly reduced, their troop commitments to the U.S. Iraq occupation.

Unmoved by the disintegration of the coalition, Vice President Dick Cheney vowed to stay the course and inject more American troops into Iraq's Civil War. He made his comments while in Japan, a world economic power in which the U.S. maintains 50,000 troops (at a cost to U.S. taxpayers in the $100s of millions) some 60 years after the defeat of Imperial Japan.

If the planned changes (i.e., U.S. build-up and the announced withdrawals) proceed as planned, the reduced coalition will look largely as follows:

US -153,000 (92% of the total)
UK - 5,500
South Korea - 2,300
Poland - 900
Georgia - 850
Australia - 900
Romania - 600
El Salvador - 380
Bulgaria - 150
other countries - 800 (approx.)
______________________
165,380

According to GlobalSecurity.org, these are the nations that have already opted out of the coalition: Hungary, Nicaragua, Spain, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, Tonga, Portugal, Singapore, Norway, Ukraine, Japan, Italy, Slovakia

2.20.2007

'Sport Killing': Are American Boys Mimicking Their Leaders?

In a country in which many watch developments in Iraq as a sort of sporting event, it doesn't surprise me that an increasing number of Americans boys have taken to 'sport killing' of homeless men.

Violence begets violence. And irrational war begets 'sport killing' and immigration incarceration at home.

Click Teen 'sport killings' of homeless on the rise for the full story.

Krikorian-Jacoby Debate The Wall: Jacoby Wins

Here's a 'debate' in today's LATimes on the question: A wall along the border--security necessity or political gimmick?

In A Nieman Marcus on the border, Mark Krikorian argues that while the wall is indeed a political gimmick, it's needed--and he prefers a strategy to turn off the magnet of jobs. Krikorian is the Center for Immigration Studies, an immigration restriction lobby.

Tamar Jacoby, an immigration expert at the Manhattan Institute, argues in Stop chasing that busboy that a wall is the preferred gimmick of lazy politicians. She believes that only a policy focused on the workplace and which ensures that any available job not filled by an American is gets filled by a legal immigrant solves the problem.

What's irrational about Krikorian's position is that he's arguing for a less robust American economy. Not only is he willing to spend billions on militarizing the border but he also wants to somehow chill the demand for workers. That seems to me to be against American values and would lead to a certain economic disaster.

Jacoby's take is that political gimmicks will do nothing to address a real and growing employer challenge: the need to fill jobs high-end and low-end jobs in order to keep their businesses competitive in the global marketplace.

While there are other arguments in addition to simple economic self-interest for changing our convoluted and contradictory immigration laws, including serving humanitarian objectives, fostering relations between neighbors, etc., Jacoby makes a case that many Americans can support.

NYC: Diverse Field in City Council Race

Here's yet more evidence that New York City is truly a world city. The AP published this story about the large and diverse field of candidates competing in today's special election to represent a silver of Brooklyn on the City Council.

The contenders for that seat trace their heritage to Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Haiti and Pakistan, plus there's one Jewish candidate.

Here's the full slate:

1) Joel Toney is the former U.N. ambassador from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
2) Mohammad Razvi is a community activist and former businessowner of Pakistani heritage.
3) Dr. Mathieu Eugene is of Haitian heritage.
4) African-American Karlene Gordon is a school teacher.
5) Jesse Hamilton is a lawyer and of African-American heritage.
6) Jennifer James is an African-American and an expert in political fundraising.
7) Zenobia McNally is an owner of a marketing firm and of African-American heritage.
8) Harry Schiffman is a hospital executive and of Jewish heritage.
9) Wellinghton Sharpe founded a child development center and is of Jamaican heritage.
10) Leithland "Rchie" Tulloch is an African-American health care executive.

All are seeking to replace Yvette Clarke who was elected last fall to the U.S. Congress. Clarke is the daughter Jamaican immigrants and she her mother Una Clarke into electoral politics..

For an inside look at this race read Rock Hackshaw's Grapevines and Pumpkinvines.

Iraq is like Vietnam!

In If 1968 is like 2008, then who's Nixon?, I was struck by the parallels between the administrations of GWB and LBJ. Their respective chummiest with the "good ole boys" of the war corporations overrode common sense and the advice of active service commanders. The results were tragic engagements in civil wars half way around the world.

Jim Cox in Iraq Is Not Vietnam...........or is it? takes this thought a bit further with a chart comparing the first few years of U.S. troop involvement in the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

The parallels are eerie. History does repeat itself.

2.19.2007

New Orleans to Declare War on the U.S.?

This protester's sign made me think of the movie The Mouse That Roared.

It's a 1950's black comedy in which the tiny duchy of Grand Fenwick in the Alps declares war on the U.S. in order to save itself from financial ruin.

Expecting a quick and decisive defeat, Grand Fenwick would then rebuild itself through the largess that the U.S. bestows on its vanquished enemies.

As the whole world has witnessed as a result of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is a city in crisis. More than half of it's population are refugees living elsewhere. The City's infrastructure is still in disrepair. Whole neighborhoods sit as momuments to the devastation of nature and governmental neglect. Lawlessness is at actual war levels. And like Grand Fenwick, New Orleans is at risk economically given its dependence on a single product: partying.

New Orleans needs American war reparations for 1) a Baghdad-type troop surge in order to re-establish basic public safety, and 2) comprehensive redevelopment of the sort the U.S. provided Germany and Japan.

But apparently none of this will happen until the U.S. defeats New Orleans in an actual battle.

Come on New Orleans, let's hear you roar!

With U.S. bogged down in Iraq, al Qaeda re-organizes in Waziristan

The NY Times reports that al Qaeda and the Tailban are busy re-establishing their worldwide terror network from their bases of operations in the mountainous region of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are said to be steadily building an operations hub in North Waziristan.

What's curious is that this "revelation" was provided anonymously to the NYTimes. Is it just coincidence that upon the U.S. Congress finally getting its act together enough to challenge the president's war effort, along comes a secretive governmental official to provide the country's most influential newspaper intelligence information about the regrouping of al Qaeda.

My suspicion is that this "revelation", while probably true, is being thrown out now in order to bolster public support for "war the war on terror" and ensure Congress approves additional war spending.

However, it seems that news of a resurgent al Qaeda in Afghanistan-Pakistan also gives critical support to those that charge that war in Iraq was a distraction from the real challenge: completing the Afghanistan War, including finding and bringing to justice Osama Bid Laden and his lieutenants.

Senator John McCain Deeply Regrets the High Price of the Mismanaged Iraq War

After this past week's unmistakable expressions of 'no confidence' in the U.S. Congress for the president's Iraq War plans, I expected pressure to mount for an exit.

Immediately, Senator Clinton joined Senator Obama and other Democrats in calling for a phased withdrawal of troops.

Now we have a report from AP's Bruce Smith on Republican Senator John McCain, one of the president's staunchest supporters in the "war on Terror", in which he admits that the Iraq War has been mismanaged for years.

Ouch!

"We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement - that's the kindest word I can give you - of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war," the Arizona senator told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at a retirement community near Hilton Head Island, S.C. "The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously."

What was the response from the conservative-minded Republican South Carolinians in the audience? Applause.

Dr. Ron Paul: A Republican's Brilliant Statement Against the Iraq War

Dr. Ron Paul is a maverick politician who's always prepared to stand alone in defense of liberty and the U.S. Constitution.

A Republican representing Galveston, Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives, Dr. Paul has made it his MO to speak 'truth to power'.

Last Wednesday he did the same when he spoke, not simply against the president's proposal to escalate the war, but against the war itself.

Here is the totality of his brilliant statement:

HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS
Before the U.S. House of Representatives
February 14, 2007

This grand debate is welcomed but it could be that this is nothing more than a distraction from the dangerous military confrontation approaching with Iran and supported by many in leadership on both sides of the aisle.

This resolution, unfortunately, does not address the disaster in Iraq. Instead, it seeks to appear opposed to the war while at the same time offering no change of the status quo in Iraq. As such, it is not actually a vote against a troop surge. A real vote against a troop surge is a vote against the coming supplemental appropriation that finances it. I hope all of my colleagues who vote against the surge today will vote against the budgetary surge when it really counts: when we vote on the supplemental.

The biggest red herring in this debate is the constant innuendo that those who don’t support expanding the war are somehow opposing the troops. It’s nothing more than a canard to claim that those of us who struggled to prevent the bloodshed and now want it stopped are somehow less patriotic and less concerned about the welfare of our military personnel.

Osama bin Laden has expressed sadistic pleasure with our invasion of Iraq and was surprised that we served his interests above and beyond his dreams on how we responded after the 9/11 attacks. His pleasure comes from our policy of folly getting ourselves bogged down in the middle of a religious civil war, 7,000 miles from home that is financially bleeding us to death. Total costs now are reasonably estimated to exceed $2 trillion. His recruitment of Islamic extremists has been greatly enhanced by our occupation of Iraq.

Unfortunately, we continue to concentrate on the obvious mismanagement of a war promoted by false information and ignore debating the real issue which is: Why are we determined to follow a foreign policy of empire building and pre-emption which is unbecoming of a constitutional republic?

Those on the right should recall that the traditional conservative position of non-intervention was their position for most of the 20th Century-and they benefited politically from the wars carelessly entered into by the political left. Seven years ago the Right benefited politically by condemning the illegal intervention in Kosovo and Somalia. At the time conservatives were outraged over the failed policy of nation building.

It’s important to recall that the left, in 2003, offered little opposition to the pre-emptive war in Iraq, and many are now not willing to stop it by de-funding it or work to prevent an attack on Iran.

The catch-all phrase, “War on Terrorism”, in all honesty, has no more meaning than if one wants to wage a war against criminal gangsterism. It’s deliberately vague and non definable to justify and permit perpetual war anywhere, and under any circumstances. Don’t forget: the Iraqis and Saddam Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with any terrorist attack against us including that on 9/11.

Special interests and the demented philosophy of conquest have driven most wars throughout history. Rarely has the cause of liberty, as it was in our own revolution, been the driving force. In recent decades our policies have been driven by neo-conservative empire radicalism, profiteering in the military industrial complex, misplaced do-good internationalism, mercantilistic notions regarding the need to control natural resources, and blind loyalty to various governments in the Middle East.

For all the misinformation given the American people to justify our invasion, such as our need for national security, enforcing UN resolutions, removing a dictator, establishing a democracy, protecting our oil, the argument has been reduced to this: If we leave now Iraq will be left in a mess-implying the implausible that if we stay it won’t be a mess.

Since it could go badly when we leave, that blame must be placed on those who took us there, not on those of us who now insist that Americans no longer need be killed or maimed and that Americans no longer need to kill any more Iraqis. We’ve had enough of both!

Resorting to a medical analogy, a wrong diagnosis was made at the beginning of the war and the wrong treatment was prescribed. Refusing to reassess our mistakes and insist on just more and more of a failed remedy is destined to kill the patient-in this case the casualties will be our liberties and prosperity here at home and peace abroad.

There’s no logical reason to reject the restraints placed in the Constitution regarding our engaging in foreign conflicts unrelated to our national security. The advice of the founders and our early presidents was sound then and it’s sound today.

We shouldn’t wait until our financial system is completely ruined and we are forced to change our ways. We should do it as quickly as possible and stop the carnage and financial bleeding that will bring us to our knees and force us to stop that which we should have never started.

We all know, in time, the war will be de-funded one way or another and the troops will come home. So why not now?

The Mashpee Wampanoag of Massachusetts Finally Recognized by U.S. Government

After 400 years, the American Indians of Plymouth Rock and the English Pilgrims fame, the Mashpee Wampanoag of Massachusetts, have finally won a bit of respect.

Last week (February 15, 2007), the U.S. government approved their petition for official recognition as an American Indian Tribe.

Click here for video from the Cape Cod Times capturing the moment the tribe heard the news. Also, watch interviews with tribe members.

Cape Cod Times also has a beautiful photo series titled Recognizing the Wampanoagon.

It took the tribe 32 years, 64 boxes of documentation(including detailed genealogies on each of the tribe's 1,461 living members dating to the first encounter with the Europeans), and a dose of lobbying to finally get the government to do the right thing.

The tribe's chairman, Glenn Marshall, can trace his heritage back to Massasoit, the Wampanoag chief who shared the first Thanksgiving meal with European settlers in 1621.

Scott Ferson, Mashpee Tribal spokesman, wrote the following: "In one respect recognition is symbolic, correcting a near 400 year oversight. But the true power in the act is in allowing the tribe to control its economic future. If the tribe had not been recognized, economic pressures and property costs on Cape Cod would have meant that the tribe would dissipate into the landscape, and its culture and language would have been lost. This decision will allow the 1500 members to remain together."

Governor Deval Patrick included this line in his letter to the tribe: "For a tribe that greeted the Pilgrims when they landed on the shores of Massachusetts, this recognition is long overdue."

Published reports of the news has generated a great deal of responses. One that says it all was submitted by Ricardo to The Scotsman: "400 years ...hmmm how thoughtful of the settlers."

According to Nedra Darling of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, there are still 200 petitions by tribes seeking recognition still pending.

(BTW: Thanks to UCTP's TainoNews for the news tip.)

2.18.2007

Puerto Rico: Islanders Vote 'No Confidence'

The Puerto Rico Herald completed a survey on the views of island residents. While I’m not familiar with the Herald’s opinion survey expertise, the published findings do largely comport—unfortunately—with what I’ve seen elsewhere.

Summary: The survey shows that Puerto Rican residents: 1) are dramatically pessimistic in terms of the island's economy; 2) see crime and corruption as major problems; 3) show little confidence in Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila; 4) increasingly view statehood as a preferred option; 5) fear the U.S. Congress may restrict travel to the mainland; and 6) hold very conservative social views.

1) The Biggest Problems - When asked to identify the biggest problems facing Puerto Rico, survey respondents were unequivocal in their answers: the economy, crime/drugs and government corruption. Unemployment was the 4th largest concern. Unbelievably, health care, education, roads, and Puerto Rico’s status barely made a blip on the chart.

2) A Dismal Economy - On the issue of the Puerto Rico economy, respondents are gloomy and getting gloomier. Consider these findings:
- 66% say business conditions are bad (vs 44% in Aug.'04)
- 47% say business conditions will worsen in 6 months (vs 5% in Aug.'04)
- 66% say jobs are hard to get (vs 52% in Aug.'04)
- 58% say there will be fewer jobs in 6 months (vs 10% in Aug.'04)
- 25% say their total family income will be lower in 6 months (vs 5% in Aug.'04)
- 42% say they've considered moving to the U.S. mainland

3) An Ineffective Governor - On Anibal Acevedo Vila’s performance as governor, it’s a definitive case of no confidence: 73% say his job performance is fair or poor.

4) Puerto Rico Statehood Gains Support - On the issue of Puerto Rico statehood, the survey found strong and growing support for the option, including:
- 50% vote 'statehood' when given the 3 main options (38% for the status quo and 6% for independence)
- 67% vote 'statehood' if the U.S. Congress sponsors a vote on that option
- 74% vote 'statehood' (+7 pts from ’04) if the choice is between statehood and independence

5) Fear U.S. Immigration Crackdown May Restrict Islanders - On the issue of immigration reform, the survey uncovers a startling concern. Although Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, 34% still believe there’s a chance the U.S. Congress may restrict their movement to the U.S. mainland.

6) Puerto Rico’s Conservative Social Views - On the social issues, the survey found that Puerto Rico residents are quite conservative in their views. For example:
- Only 18% believe that abortion should be legal.
- 85% believe in parental notification for minors having an abortion.
- 91% believe marriage must be between a man and a woman.
- 86% believe prayer should be allowed in the schools.
- 75% believe in allowing the public display of the Ten Commandments.
- 68% favor a U.S. military presence in Puerto Rico.
- 57% favor instituting a system of charter schools.
- 51% favor private school vouchers.
- 95% favor English (along with Spanish) instruction in public schools.

Clinton: Cap Iraq Deployment at 130,000

Shedding her carefully designed war hawk costume, Senator Clinton today urged that the administration begin reducing the number of U.S. troops deployed in Iraq.

Clinton's change in tactics is clearly a response to Senator Obama's comments last week that it was unclear how Clinton planned to end the conflict. Senator Obama has called for a phased withdrawal to be wrapped up by the end of March 2008.

However, Clinton's proposal is really a cap and not an actual plan for withdrawal. What she's proposing is to maintain the current deployment of only 130,000 troops and prohibit an increase without congressional approval.

Clinton's proposal is again designed to meet the political requirements of the moment. The purpose is to make her appear sufficiently anti-war in order to placate the Democratic base, while preventing her Republican presidential opponent--assuming she's the Democratic presidential nominee--from painting her as a "cut and run" Democrat.

We'll see how this clever tactical maneuver goes down with her restless and increasingly emboldened political base.

Khalil Gibran International Academy: NYC's 1st Arabic Public School

In so many ways, New York City operates on a different dimension than the rest of the country. Love it or hate it, there's simply no other city like it in the country--or in the world. In my opinion, only the Canadian City of Toronto comes close.

More proof of its uniqueness came this week when the Department of Education announced that among next year's crop of 40 new schools is the City's first Arabic Public School. Yes, an Arabic Public School in an American City--and home to the country's largest Jewish population.

My friends, only in New York!

Named after the Lebanese poet and philosopher, the Khalil Gibran International Academy for grades 6-12 will be located in Brooklyn. The school is being sponsored by the Arab-American Family Support Center and New Visions for Public Schools with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

When it opens in September, only sixth grade will be offered, with another grade added each year, and eventually serving 500 to 600 students in grades 6-12. By the third year, the school hopes to offer half the classes in Arabic and half in English.

The school's principal is Debbie Almontaser, a 15-year veteran of the school system. She was quoted by a New York City newspaper as saying, "We are wholeheartedly looking to attract as many diverse students as possible, because we really want to give them the opportunity to expand their horizons and be global citizens."

2.17.2007

The President's Senate Allies Prolong the Iraq War Debate Ban

Having stifled debate on the Iraq War for four years while in control of the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress, 33 Republican Senators banned together today to prevent the new Democratic-controlled Senate from debating it as well.

Tactical maneuvers aside, the good news for people concerned about the Iraq War is that 302 members of Congress (including 24 Republicans) are now on record supporting the debate of resolutions critical of the White House's Iraq War plans.

With an administration devoid of a game plan for successfully concluding the Iraq War within a reasonable time-period, the caucus of 302 Congress men and women insisting on an open and fair debate will likely grow.

The irony is that if the Iraq War is worth continuing, and indeed, if there's a compelling justification for escalating it, why wouldn't the Republicans want to call the Democrats bluff and debate? The President and the Republican Congressional leaders appear to lack confidence in their own cause.

Senator Arlen Spector was on the money when he said:

If we continue to debate whether there should be a debate while the House of Representatives acts, the Senate will become irrelevant. To paraphrase the Roman adage, the Senate should not fiddle while Iraq burns.
The 7 Republicans joining with Democratic colleagues in calling for a rigorous debate include:

Senator Chuck Hagel (Nebraska)
Senator John Warner (Virginia)
Senator Olympia Snowe (Maine)
Senator Gordon Smith (Oregon)
Senator Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania)
Senator Norm Coleman (Minnesota)
Senator Susan Collins (Maine)

Arubagirl's Lost in Smallness

Reading weblogs from person in other countries gives you a perspective about the place, people and events that you'd never find in traditional media or even from an American-type visit to the country.

Personal weblogs offer an intimate view of the lives, views and activities of individuals as expressed through their comments and photographs.

You can travel the world without leaving your home--or computer.

Lost in Smallness is a neat weblog by a writer that goes by Arubagirl and describes herself as folows:

Hey, what's up? Thanks for stopping by, it's a real treat to have you here. So I was born in 1980 in the Netherlands, but my parents decided 3 1/2 years later to move to their native country of Aruba. Best thing they ever did. I tend to write about my country a lot. It's mostly in English, but don't be shocked to find the occasional post written in Dutch or Papiamento. I like to read, write, take photos with my Nikon D50 and dig out my family tree. I hate mean comments. Consider yourselves warned.
Here's an entry titled Buh-Bye, Ritz Carlton. It stands out because all most Americans know about Aruba are its tourist hotels--and that's a shame.

In November 2005 I blogged about the possibility of Ritz Carlton establishing itself in Aruba. According to today's Diario, the hotel chain passed on this.

I see the tourism numbers and I see that I should be sad, but I can't muster up any other feelings than relief. We have enough hotels, really. Let's fill up the ones that we do have before we let another hotel block another beach and need more immigrants.

Actually, in general, I don't think that we need more hotels. We have plenty, and we should not be too greedy. I seriously doubt that tourists come here to find another concrete jungle of hotels. I think that cozy little beaches are actually more charming without a bigass hotel in front of them. I mean, Roger's Beach and Baby Beach don't seem to lack for visitors. I understand that Aruba is dependent on tourism, but let's try to keep the tourists we do have as happy as possible.
Here's an excerpt from a very interesting post on the issue of race in Aruba titled Fame, Empathy and Color.

Can I just say something about racism in Aruba. It's going to be quick, and not do the subject the justice it deserves, but here goes. Yes, there is racism on the island. However, it's against both black and white. Black (from other islands), white, if you're from Holland. Don't tell me that there isn't against Dutch people, because I've experienced it. I'm not saying that either sort of racism is at Jim Crow levels, but it's there.

Another thing is that if you're a tourist, we don't care much about your color. You're just a tourist. That's what defines you here, above all else, including color of skin.
Seriously, just reading some of Arubagirl's posts in Lost in Smallness has taught me much more about Aruba than all of the endless television coverage of the tragic disappearance (and likely murder) of Natalie Holloway.

BTW: For a selection of interesting weblogs from around the world, please visit GlobalVoices.

Who are the 17 House Republicans Voting Against the Iraq War Surge?

It takes a great deal of courage to oppose any president during wartime--especially one that's the head of your political party. But that's what 17 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives did yesterday when they voted to approve the historic resolution opposing the president's plans to send 20,000 more soldiers to Iraq.

In describing this unusual group of Republicans, one pundit appearing on C-SPAN after the vote characterized them as representing favorly safe districts and, therefore, immune from National Republican Party retribution. They are freer to vote their minds than many of the others.

What's also striking about this group is that so many come from states and districts that are strongly pro-defense.

The no-confidence votes of these 17 Republicans speaks volumns.

U.S. Rep. Michael Castle (Delaware)
U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (North Carolina)
U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis (Virginia)
U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (Virginia)
U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (Tennessee)
U.S. Rep. Philip Sheridan English (Pennsylvania)
U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (Maryland)
U.S. Rep. Robert Inglis (South Carolina)
U.S. Rep. Timothy V. Johnson (Illinois)
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (North Carolina)
U.S. Rep. Richard Keller (Florida)
U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (Illinois)
U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (Ohio)
U.S. Rep. Ronald Ernest Paul (Texas)
U.S. Rep. Thomas Petri (Wisconsin)
U.S. Rep. James Ramstad (Minnesota)
U.S. Rep. Frederick Stephen Upton (Michigan)
U.S. Rep. James T. Walsh (New York)

Australia's Ignorant PM

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard recently attacked U.S. Senator Barack Obama for his opposition to the War in Iraq.

A U.S. war ally, Howard was so bothered by the senator's criticism of the war that he felt compelled to go on Australian television and make the absurd suggestion that Senator Obama was somehow in league with al-Qaida.

Why the vicious attack on Senator Obama?

Certainly, Howard could have chosen any number of U.S. politicians (such as senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy) to pick on that are strong critics of the war and are better known to Australians.

In Aussie's Obama attack reeks of racism (The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin), John Nichols makes that Senator Obama earned the prime minister's wrath simply due to race. Here are excerpts from his article:

After racial violence erupted in several suburbs of Sydney in the fall of that year, Howard dismissed concerns about the motivations behind the violence, despite reports that they had been provoked at least in part by neo-Nazis who targeted immigrants and people of color.

That outrage led to a parliamentary debate on the subject of "racism and Prime Minister John Howard."

During the debate, Sylvia Hale, a representative from the Sydney area, explained, "It is pertinent now to re-examine the prime minister's contribution to the rise of racism in this country. John Howard's primary political strategy has been to divide and rule this nation. ... Undoubtedly, the most destructive aspect of the strategy has been his pandering to the fearful, racist element in the Australian community."

It was not the first time that Howard faced such withering criticism. Howard came to prominence in Australia as an outspoken critic of multiculturalism and moves to respect and foster diversity. In the 1980s, he pointedly criticized moves to challenge South Africa's apartheid system. In the 1990s, he stirred anti-immigrant sentiment, taking stands that would make U.S. "border war" politicians like Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo wince.
So, John Howard too suffers from racism, anti-immigrant bigotry and the war mongering disease? (Do these diseases always come in a pack?) Read the Wikipedia write-up on Howard to learn more about the racist and anti-immigrant actions of this so-called friend of the U.S.

BTW: Many Australians do not share Howard's views on race, immigration or the war. And many are embarrassed by Howard's foolish commentary regarding Senator Obama. Here's what M.P.Bailey of South Australia wrote: In response to Deputy Dogs' (Prime Minister John Howards') uncalled for and unwarranted intrusion into the political affairs of the United States, the Australian Supporters for Obama site has been formed to let the Americans know they still have friends in Australia - as Deputy Dog doesn't speak for all of us.

American (and Australia) needs sane leaders and sane allies.

Top 25 U.S. Cities for Jobs

Forbes has come out with its Best Cities for Jobs list, and not surprisingly, the top 25 are in the U.S. Southern Tier (my term) and the magazine calls the Southeast-Southwest crescent.

Why? Because the Southern Tier benefits from great weather, lots of land available for development, a relatively low cost of living and a business-friendly tax climate.

(BTW: An added bonus is that most of the cities are also popular Latino destinations. Hint. Hint.)

So, what are the top 25 cities?

#1 Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina
#2 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona
#3 Jacksonville, Florida
#4 Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida
#5 Washington, D.C.
#6 Salt Lake City, Utah
#7 Honolulu, Hawaii
#8 Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada
#9 Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, Florida
#10 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia
#11 Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick, Maryland
#12 Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Florida
#13 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida
#14 Richmond, Virginia
#15 Omaha-Council Bluffs, Nebraska
#16 West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach, Florida
#17 Little Rock-North Little Rock, Arkansas
#18 Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro, Tennessee
#19 Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, California
#20 Tucson, Arizona
#21 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
#22 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Georgia
#23 Austin-Round Rock, Texas
#24 Albuquerque, New Mexico
#25 Sacramento, California

2.16.2007

Nancy Pelosi Wins Round I Against the Iraq War

In what has been predicted to be the year of the woman, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has achieved what no man has had the courage to do: Challenge President George W. Bush on his signature initiative -- The Iraq War.

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives under the control of Nancy Pelosi--it's first female leader, passed by a margin of 64 votes (246-182) a nonbinding resolution expressing its disapproval of President Bush's plan to send more combat troops to Iraq.

Speaker Pelosi expressed confidence that today's vote of essentially no confidence is just the beginning of a political process which she expects will end with the withdrawal of U.S. fighting troops from Iraq. "The passage of this legislation will signal a change in direction in Iraq that will end the fighting and bring our troops home," she said.

While today's vote can not force President Bush to end the war, it has effectively raised the stakes. President Bush, who's resisted the advice of his own generals, public opinion and now the view of the U.S. House of Representatives, is under intense pressure to show that his strategy will work--and he must do so in short order. Without a decisive win--and soon, the Republican prospects for a come-back in the '08 election cycle are dim.