Saturday, August 08, 2009

Who shall guard the Guardians

I can only speak for myself, to be sure, but it seems to me that anyone with any sense of history and the slightest degree of rational paranoia felt a distinct chill when Bush announced the formation of The Department of Homeland Security, with it's eerie resonance to the Fascist "Fatherland" and the Stalinist "Motherland."

Note that both Stalinist and Fascist states have one thing in common - a certain disdain for human rights and dignity when any particular person or idea is thought to be a threat to the state, for whatever reason, by whatever pinhead happens to be wearing the jackboots.

It was no real surprise to me that the response of Homeland Security was lackadaisical in response to Hurricane Katrina, or that in absorbing FEMA (which was arguably one of the two most competent agencies involved), they had effectively short-circuited it, in favor of not helping non-white and therefore non-deserving people.

But if you want, there are more recent examples of what the real meaning of "homeland security" is, in the words and deeds of those on the ground, wearing the jackboots. I've never been much of a believer in fine words when there are actual deeds to be seen and performance metrics to be evaluated.

It's even more telling that this story comes to us via the New York Times.

After federal border agents detained several Mexican immigrants in western New York in June, an article about the incident in a local newspaper drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings on its Web site. Some were racist. Others attacked farmers in the region, an apple-growing area east of Rochester, accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Still others made personal attacks about the reporter who wrote the article.

Most of the posts were made anonymously. But in reviewing the logs of its Internet server, the paper, The Wayne County Star in Wolcott, traced three of them to Internet protocol addresses at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection.

Homeland Security started an investigation into the posts this month, according to the reporter, Louise Hoffman-Broach, and Richard M. Healy, the Wayne County district attorney. A spokeswoman for the federal agency’s inspector general said she could neither confirm nor deny an investigation; department rules prohibit the use of office equipment for the personal transmission of material that could offend fellow employees or the public.

Coming on the eve of the apple harvest season, the Web posts and the investigation — first reported this week on The Star’s Web site — have ratcheted up longstanding tensions in Wayne County, where farmers and laborers have accused immigration officials of using heavy-handed tactics like racial profiling and arbitrary or unjustified detentions.

Such tactics, the farmers say, have scared Hispanic farm workers from the region just as growers are preparing for the harvest.

Representative Dan Maffei, who represents the area in Congress, said the allegations of overaggressive immigration enforcement, coming from a wide range of constituents, were “of extreme concern.”
Of course, the thugs that landowners employ to keep the workforces in line and content with whatever pittance they are given have, historically never been quite so tolerant of nuance as their employers. They aren't breaking heads in order to secure labor at an acceptable price, they are doing so because they hate Mexicans. They took the job because it would permit them to abuse "Illegals" with impunity - and as the article goes on to observe, they have a tendency to presume that even documented Mexicans are presumed illegal until long after they are abused, detained and no doubt subjected to whatever amuses such racist fuckheads.

But here's the bottom line, America. You have the cheapest food supply in the world PRECISELY because so much of the labor involved is performed by "illegals." So, put up or shut up. Pay producers enough so that they can afford LEGAL wages - and yeah, it's a fact of life that a farm that employs legals and pays union wages CANNOT compete with a farm that does not. That, or accept that you are willing and indeed cheerful eating burgers produced by slave labor kept docile by the friendly folks at ICE. Because, that's exactly what it is, why it's their and the end to which Bush and agrabiz agreed it to be.

All the talk about curbing "illegal" immigration was ginned up to gain support for the existence of said jackbooted thugs stomping around and "defending the nation." Selectively. When the occasion warrants. Say, when a farmer or a rancher says something deemed "inappropriate" by the local Rotary Club leadership.

You see, ICE only has about a thousand field agents. That's a ridiculously low number to deal with the actual problem that we are told exists. But it's just the right size for a flying goon squad. More than enough to turn a town or small city upside down. It's just the right size to punish the fuck out of people. Of course, to confirm your suspicion, you would also look to the institutional culture. What does the group itself think it's actual mandate is, whatever it's fine-sounding mission statement might be?

And for that - well, we have the words of the jackbooted thugs themselves.

The article about the arrests, posted on June 16, led to a torrent of angry Web postings. One, sent from a fake e-mail address, said, “watcha doing to mi wifey, no checky her papeles. she no legal, but she havey benifit card.”

A response, which carried a Homeland Security Internet protocol address, read: “That sounds like my boyfriend. Leave him alones and get your own. My boyfriend works sometimes but he is really good at getting FREE benefits from the Federal and State government.”

Another post, apparently sent from a separate computer linked to Homeland Security, read in part: “These farmers have a problem because the gravy train that they were riding for soooooo long is being brought to light.”

The newspaper removed the posts. It also reported that it had discovered others, dating to last year, that appeared to have come from computers affiliated with Homeland Security.
Who will guard you from such Guardians, eh? Can you PROVE your papers are not fake? Hell, I go by Papa Heinlein's dictate - whenever a government starts requiring you to carry identity papers, it's time to leave. This sort of thing, and the implicit threat that it makes against anyone, was one of my personal decision points. I did leave, so for me the answer is "The Crown, in the form of Canadian Customs and Immigration." But then, I'm a lucky sod. I was born here, so my support, as a dual citizen of the US constitution was always a matter of choice.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

They say it's wrong, but it feels so right!

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Yep. This is all about further mockery at the expense of those people who are afraid that the brown, illegal aliens will descend upon the continental US in their brown helicopters and impose common sense, tolerance and affordable, single-payer health care upon the screaming masses still reeling from fluoridation, integration and affirmative action.

I so cannot take these people seriously anymore. I mean, yes, they ARE potentially dangerous lunatics who are certainly not to be considered to be safe to have around firearms, explosives or impressionable children. But I'm Goddamn done with treating their manufactured little "concerns" as if they were issues that would actually matter to people who had the capacity to think for themselves.

William Rivers Pitt of Truthout has some thoughts on it. He thinks in words, so, rather than translate from "t-shirt," I'll let him get the ball rolling.
The rank absurdity of the Birthers' contentions hasn't kept a whole array of high-ranking Republicans from jumping into the fray to endorse the validity of this farce. "Indeed," reported Talking Points Memo on Wednesday, "prominent Congressional Republicans were openly entertaining this stuff. A bill to require birth certificates from presidential candidates has picked up 11 total co-sponsors; Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) declared that the Birthers 'have a point,' and that he doesn't discourage it. Even House GOP Vice Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington), a member of the leadership, was saying she wanted to see the documents."

But here's the funny part. Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly, right-wing bombthrower Ann Coulter and GOP Chairman Michael Steele - three people who have repeatedly set the standard for Deranged Things Actually Said In Public - have been working overtime to kill the Birther debate because they think it's stupid. They think it's stupid. Memo to the Far Right: when you've lost the support of people like O'Reilly, Coulter and Steele, you have to step back and wonder just how far from the pack you've strayed.

Elsewhere on the goofball spectrum, a couple of prominent right-wingers accused President Obama and the Democrats of being racists. Yes, they actually did. Fox News commentator Glenn Beck called Obama a racist for coming down on the side of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. during the recent flap over his arrest. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) blasted Senate Democrats for - get this - using Sonya Sotomayor's race to divide the American people. Democrats, according to Cornyn, have been "giving cover to groups and individuals to nurture racial grievances for political advantage."

This puts us comparatively sane people in a strange position - of having to recognize that certain members of the wingnut media are actually behaving more responsibly - or at least, less reprehensibly - than actual Republican members of Congress.

Yeah, you heard that right. Ann Coulter thinks birthers are "cranks." (And the freepers are howling for her blood for this BLASPHEMY!) While I think many things of Coulter, I don't think she's stupid. I think she's quite aware of the fine line between being controversial and being... ridiculous. I think it likely that she's concerned that she might be confused in the mind of the public with this woman, Orly Taitz.

So, one of the many, many amusements of this week is seeing Coulter sputter about another blond republican being a "crank" for holding views that Sen. Jim Inhofe finds credible. Of course, as the White House Press Secretary wryly observed, he also thinks global warming is "a hoax."

Now, I don't know if it's my time spent as a mental health consumer or my training in Logic and Rhetoic. Goodness, perhaps it's my reading of the Associated Press Style Guide, in which I learned that You Can't Just Make Shit Up And Publish It.

But clearly, many members of the public, the media and even congress are of the opinion that if you say something loud enough, it will become true. That if you want something to be true enough, it IS true. And any "concern" that is put on television, no matter how ill-founded, malicious or fictional, no matter how clearly self-serving nor how directly connected to political operatives deserves to be treated with all the due consideration once accorded to the moments when Walter Cronkite took off his glasses.

Monday, August 03, 2009

"Illegal Aliens" - The Truth is Out There!

Illegal Alien T-Shirt shirt

Did you know that there are people who really, actually think that President Obama's Grandmother forged his birth certificate so that he could be president one day?

No, really. (And they say this is the "real" one!)

But then, the question arises. Who must she be that she would know that she needed to DO that?

Illegal Alien T-Shirt shirt

Now, wouldn't it be fun to show up at one of those pinhead teaparties or the new "hassle a congressman" events wearing this? Sometimes satire, ridicule and mockery is the only appropriate response.

And A Shriek Of Joy Was Heard Across The Land

Jon Stewart Earns the Wrath of Rush Limbaugh |

Jon Stewart has now earned the wrath of Rush Limbaugh for getting Bill Kristol to admit on The Daily Show that government run healthcare works. Limbaugh said that Stewart is a sell out for using the military as healthcare example, because liberals like Stewart hate the military. Ugh, so now Rush is going after Jon Stewart.

Oh, I am SO tuning in tonight, even though it's somewhat pointless. That is to say, very, very few people who listen to Limbaugh will bother to tune in to the upcoming reality check.

It's not like you NEED John Stewart to fact-check Rush. There's Google, there's,, white house, congressional and agency web-sites, hundreds upon thousands of newspapers, books and other publications and, with the exceptions actually recommended by Rush, a surprisingly large number will disagree with some or all of his public statements.

But then, if you are stupid enough to listen, you are also dumb enough to want to believe whatever Rush says.

Unlike Limbaugh’s old, angry, white man listenership, Stewart’s viewers will be shaping elections for years to come, so dismissing his program as a comedy show that young people think is real news is dumb thing to do. Stewart isn’t a sellout for pointing out the holes in the Republican healthcare argument. A sellout is someone like Rush Limbaugh who goes on the air everyday and acts as a propagandist for the Republican Party. Limbaugh is the very definition of a sellout.
You know, as tragicomically funny as this is, it's also deeply depressing. Because what Rush thinks should not matter to anyone.


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