Thursday, May 25, 2006

Iraq, Immigration, Dave Zirin on Barry Bonds & Babe Ruth, and Tom Hayden

Good evening, it's Thursday and almost a three day weekend! Let's kick it off with Democracy Now!

Iraq VP Calls For Withdrawal Timetable
Ahead of Bush-Blair MeetingIn Iraq, a top leader has renewed calls for President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to set a timetable for the withdrawal of occupying troops.
Iraqi Vice President Tareq Al Hashemi: "Two days ago we spoke with Tony Blair about this issue and the fact that it is necessary that the U.S. and British administration should put a timetable for its troops withdrawal from Iraq. We have discussed this thoroughly and I convinced him of the necessity of announcing a timetable for the withdrawal of the occupying troops and told him frankly that Iraqis have a right to know when the last British or American soldier will leave Iraq."

Bush and Blair have long rejected setting withdrawal timetables and vowed to withdraw troops at their own discretion. The two leaders will meet today in Washington with Iraq expected to top the agenda.

We're not leaving. We'll have to be forced out. Bully Boy's too damn greedy. We're building bases and in all their business. There was no turning it over to an international body after Bully Boy's infamous Mission Accomplished speech three years ago. There's been no effort to operate by the rules for an occupying power. The only thing that will bring the troops home is the people, not politicians.

Senate Expected To Vote On Immigration Bill
The Senate has agreed to end debate on a controversial immigration bill, setting the stage for a vote likely to come today. The bill would heighten enforcement measures, establish a temporary guest worker program, punish employers who hire undocumented immigrants and open a route to citizenship for at least some undocumented immigrants. If passed, the Senate bill would have to be reconciled with the Sensenbrenner bill passed by the House in December. That bill focuses strictly on enforcement and would consider undocumented immigrants to be felons. It would also make it a crime for priests, nuns, health care workers and other social workers to offer help to undocumented immigrants.

And they did vote and they did pass it. If there's any justice it will die as the two houses try to hammer out something they can agree to because the bill is hideous. But you don't know that from reading the New York Times, do you? (See C.I.'s "NYT: Carl Hulse provides the primer on advocacy journalism.") If you're naive enough to still trust corporate media, you've been tricked about the Senate bill that the Times and others have praised to the roof. You can check out a discussion on it by click-clicking here and this is an excerpt:

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, even on the issue of legalization, as I understand the final version now, it would still call for only seven million of the eleven million people to get on the path immediately to citizenship and for another --
STAN MARK: Actually, our position is that it's more than 50% of people would be ineligible for legalization. I think some litigators and some people who have followed this much more closely, in terms of their past experiences with the litigation program from '86, predict about two to three million people who may get through the first level. As you know, there's a three-tier system. The first-tier system does allow people to, you know, eventually over a period of perhaps more than ten, fifteen years to actually get citizenship, and the first step, of course, to legalization. The second tier does not necessarily allow very many people to get through at all.
And, as a matter of fact, the third level actually creates a guest workers program, which we believe is tantamount to legalized slavery, as a famous official Department of Labor official, Lee G. Williams, in the early 1960s, heading the Department of Labor when the Bracero Program, the last major guest workers program that went through, was finally terminated, he called it, quote, "legalized slavery." And we believe that any type of guest workers programs that reinstitutes those types of provisions or those provisions instituting programs like the Bracero Program should be --
JUAN GONZALEZ: Am I correct in this also that those people who have been in the country a year or less would have to be deported?
STAN MARK: That's correct.

[. . .]
AMY GOODMAN: Why would a guest worker program be legalized slavery? What does it mean, a guest worker program?
STAN MARK: Well, in terms of -- most guest workers programs in the past have and, I think, would be perpetuated in any type of guest worker program today, the lack of -- the absolute control of the workplace by employers with the government-sanctioned program itself being put in place, people would have very little rights to move from job to job. Their ability to depend on employment would be tied to that type of job. They wouldn't be able to go from place to place. And historically these types of programs open them to the most -- make them most vulnerable to exploitation and really abuse by employers with very little avenues or options to get out of that kind of a situation.

I have no idea why the New York Times lies and doubt they even need a reason to most days. But I know being in California for that week and talking to people my age about why this issue mattered so much to them (for parents or grandparents or older siblings or themselves) made me pay attention. It's too damn bad that nothing could make the Times pay attention and feel ashamed of lying in editorial after editorial, article after article.

People's lives were at stake but all whores like the Times could see were dollar signs. From the Times on down, everyone who lied (or was an idiot spreading on lies the didn't know anything about) should be ashamed. The best thing has always been for this to die in Congress and I'm still hoping for that.

It's funny what gets accepted as "good" and what gets slammed as "bad." The Senate bill is accepted as "good." So is Babe Ruth. The one and only Dave Zirin tackles the image of Babe Ruth versus Barry Bonds in "Bonding With the Babe:"

Ruth's 714 home run record lacks the spit-shined purity his backers trumpet. The Sultan of Swat made his bones playing against only a select segment of the population because of the ban on players whose skin color ran brown to black. Ruth never had to hit against Negro League greats Satchel Paige or Lefty Mathis to amass the magic 714. Yet no asterisk for institutionalized racism mars the Babe's marks. Ruth also was a habitual user of a banned substance that was deemed unambiguously illegal by the federal government--a drug Ruth believed enhanced his performance: alcohol. Ruth was a star during the roaring prohibition 1920s, and as teammate Joe Dugan said, "Babe would go day and night, broads and booze."
But Ruth didn't just stop at the watering hole to find an edge. According to The Baseball Hall of Shame's Warped Record Book, by Bruce Nash, Allan Zullo and Bob Smith, the Bambino fell ill one year attempting to inject himself with extract from a sheep's testes. This effort by more than a few athletes of his era to seek the healing and strengthening properties of testosterone prefigured the craze for steroids. When Ruth fell ill from his attempted enhancement, the media was told that Ruth merely had "a bellyache." This was believable since Ruth was a glutton, famed for eating eighteen-egg omelets. The Sultan of Swat was also a glutton for women and violence, and he could be roused to fisticuffs if it was suggested, as it often was, that he was part black. The Babe's famous trade-out of Boston in 1920 was justified by Sox owner Harry Frazee by saying that Ruth was "one of the most selfish and inconsiderate athletes I have ever seen."
Of course in Ruth's day, without twenty-four-hour sports yipping and with sportswriting reduced to sonnets of heroism for a country weary after World War I, his flaws were essentially invisible to an adoring public. But Bonds's flaws are picked over, his every strikeout met with cheers by a herd of likeminded writers who who act more like the White House press corps than independent journalists.

Read it an think about how Bonds gets raked over the coals day after day but it's look the other way on Babe Ruth.

Because Irish-Americans stick together, here's Tom Hayden's "Why Jane Harman Should Be Challenged"

It's no secret that Harman is the center of Democratic friction. She was one of a handful of Congressmembers invited into the secret White House briefings on what has mushroomed into a major scandal: the launch of domestic spying by intelligence agencies without warrants.
The ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Harman promised the White House to keep secret what she heard at the meetings.
She could have been a whistleblower, but chose not to be.
She could have refused the unconditional promise of secrecy, but chose not to.
She could have resigned the secret committee without comment, letting her silence do the talking, but chose not to.

Seriously, read Tom Hayden's thing. (I'd say "Hayden" but I'm afraid someone might think I mean Michael Hayden.) He's smarter than most of us will ever be (especially me) and he's got something worth reading. (He really is Irish-American, by the way.)

C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

As Amy Goodman noted, Tareq Al Hashemi, vice president of Iraq, has called for "a timetable for the withdrawal of occupying troops" from Iraq. As Al Jazeera notes, Al Hashemi does not favor the notion of a set of conditions that would result in withdrawal of all foreign troops (US, British, et al) but instead favors a fixed date. The Irish Examiner reports that as Tony Blair and Bully Boy meet in DC, "the White House" has declared it "premature to talk about troop withdrawals."
This as
Free Speech Radio News reports the Inspector General of Iraq's Oil Ministry has noted "that one billion dollars of Iraq's oil is being illegally smuggled out of the country every month." On the topic of the Oil Ministry, Steve Negus reports that Hussein al-Shahristani, exile installed as oil minister, has declared "the central government should handle all contracts related to petroleum exploration and production, putting him on a potential collision course with the autonomous Kurdish region which has recently begun to develop its own oil resources." What Kurds may read as a power grab occurs as the occupied nation is still without a minister of interior or defense.
In England, Matthew Tempest reports for the Guardian that "
attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, has been forced into disclosing further information relating to his decision that an ivasion of Iraq would be lawful." Goldsmith issues one ruling and then another (that was already known), the report traces the change of opinion to March 13th and he would inform Blair of the change in opinion (that the illegal invasion would suddenly be legal). March 17, 2003 was then the UN failed to endorse the Bully Boy's war lust, March 20th would see the start of the illegal invasion.
A battle in Baghdad (yes, in Baghdad) resulted in at least three people dead from
"[t]he ambush of Brig Gen. Khalil al-Abadi, head of the Defense Ministry logistics office"
reports the Associated Press. Reuters notes several bombings taking place in Iraq -- one "planted inside a building wounded 13 people," another wounded two police officers in New Baghdad, and another injured two police officers on "patrol in northeastern Baghdad." Reuters also notes that four corpses were discovered throughout Baghdad ("torture . . . gunshot wounds in their heads").
AFP reports that two more corpses were discovered in Baquba while Reuters notes an additional three ("bullet gunshot wounds") near Tikrit and that, in Balad, "U.S. forces handed over five decomposed bodies to the hospital." The AFP reports that a judge (Walid Ahmed) has been kidnapped while "traveling on a highway between Saddam's hometown of Tikrit and the city of Samarra." Reuters notes that Ali Hisham and his son were kidnapped not far from Kirkuk (Hisham is "head of the Turkmen Front party in town of Tuz Khurmato"). A "nine-year-old girl" died in Kirkuk from a roadside bomb, the AFP notes. Meanwhile the BBC reports that, James Cook has been determined to be not guilty ("by a jury panel of seven senior officers in Cochester") in the death of Ahmed Jabber Kareem -- three remain on trial. In the United States, Robert Burns reports that Gen. Michael W. Hagee is headed for Iraq as a result of concerns over "two recent cases of alleged killings of civilians in Iraq."
Reuters notes the Norwegian Refugee Council's report on Iraq:

Sectarian displacements received much attention in the mainstream world media in April 2006, yet equally large-scale population displacements caused by multiple military operations across the country have been largely unreported. Several hundred thousand people were displaced by military operations during 2005.

Now check out Cedric's Big Mix because Cedric and I picked out the news items from Democracy Now! together and are both blogging on them tonight. Check out Elaine's "Long but is there a topic? " (she's always off Thursdays but read her thing from yesterday if you missed it because it's really good). And thank you to Rebecca who stopped by here with a gift. (Dixie Chicks' The Long Way Home.) That was really nice. (Nicer was being able to sit and talk. Rebecca, you're friendship and time is always the best gift.)