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This is What Democracy Looks Like
Today's Note From a Madman
Thursday, June 1, 2006
The two targets of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 were New York City and Washington, DC. So it would make sense for the federal government to make sure that these two cities have enough Department of Homeland Security anti-terror funds to keep their citizens, day workers, tourists and foreign dignitaries safe from any future terror attacks. New York is home to hundreds of embassies and the United Nations while Washington, DC is... well... Washington, DC.
The Bush administration cut 40 percent from both cities' anti terrorism funds, while at the same time are giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, (A.K.A. Bush's "base" of "Haves and Have-Mores".
"New York City has been attacked twice and is doing more than any other city in the country to defend itself and our nation. As far as I'm concerned, DHS and the administration have declared war on New York City, and I am going to fight this as hard as I possibly can."
-Rep. Peter King (R-NY)
And this coming from the man who has bent over for the Bushites more than a roomful of patients at a free proctology convention.
Outgoing New York Republican Governor George Pataki, himself a presidential hopeful, and New York City Republican Mayor, Michael Bloomberg had similar reactions.
"They are claiming that they are doing more allocations based on threat-based analysis but I don't think that's the case."
"When you stop a terrorist, they have map of New York City in their pocket, they don't have a map of any of the other 46 places or 45 places,"
The Republicans in the Blue states are either complicit of impotent while they serve under the Bush administration. As I have reported here previously, even well meaning Republicans like Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) is left out in the cold when faced with this cold, hard menace known as the GOP. They can't yell or criticize or complain because their loyalty is party-based, not constituent-based. New York, with its Republican Mayor, Governor and Rep. Peter King can't do a thing except ask "Why?" and bug a little.
It's falling on deaf ears.
What the three New York Three stooges seem not to realize is that President "G"lobal "W"arming Bush and his "base" of "haves and have-mores" only care about New York when they happen to be in New York. Other than that, they consider the Big Apple to be nothing more than a breeding ground for Democrats, minorities and assorted liberals. Whenever you hear the Right talk about New York, it is always what is wrong with it. Maybe they feel that they could clean up New York the same way their reactions to Hurricane Katrina cleaned up New Orleans. I put nothing beyond these guys.
Somehow, the cities of Louisville, Kentucky; Charlotte, North Carolina and Omaha, Nebraska have had their shares of the Homeland Security funds dramatically increased. After all, we have to protect Tobacco farms and tumbleweeds from terrorists, too.
"It does not mean in any way that the risk in New York is any different or changed or any lower,"
- Tracy Henke, assistant Homeland Security secretary for grants and training
Sounds like the ought to be a "but..." after that, doesn't it?
You would think that, with the same risk, New York and Washington would have to same funding. And with the recent cuts in Bill Clinton's successful crime bill, which had put 100,000 more policemen on the streets of our cities, only to see the advances wiped out by the Bushies, New York and Washington have really seen their aid slashed.
Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security said they were "unimpressed" with anti-terror plans that both cities put forth. So instead of coming in and offering to help, they decided to say "See you guys. You're on your own." Anyone who lives or works on New York City's Manhattan Island knows that the police are everywhere. The NYPD, according to a recent CBS News' 60 Minutes segment, have been doing an amazing job of reacting to frequent drills and possible "situations". They are a visible and viable presence in the city.
The question I have for the DHS is this: Since you're "unimpressed" with New York and DC's plans and, remembering the job you guys did in New Orleans, what recourse do WE have to punish you? Can I have my tax money back and give it to the NYPD?
Then, today, the DHS said that their new formula is based on landmarks and important structures that need to be protected. According to the department run by Michael Chertoff (who is from New Jersey, just across the Hudson River), there are no structures that fall into this category.
That's right, boys and girls, The Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens-Borough (59th Street), Tri-Borough; and Williamsburg Bridges aren't worth protecting; The Lincoln and Holland Tunnels aren't important; the George Washington Bridge (A.K.A I-95) isn't worth the trouble; The Empire State Building, which sits right in the middle of Manhattan is an eyesore; and the United Nations... well, I guess that Chertoff feels it's better off being blown up anyway. All this, and I didn't even mention the numerous museums (The Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium; The Cloisters) or the many hospitals (NYU Medical Center; New York Presbyterian; Mount Sinai; Beth Israel; Beekman; Bellevue, etc) or the multitude on colleges and universities (NYU; Columbia; CCNY; BMCC; The New School) or the financial institutes of downtown New York (remember, that's the area where the World Trade Center used to stand).
''The nation sends its love to everybody who is here,''
-GW, standing in the rubble of the fallen Twin Towers wit his arm around a retired New York Fire-Fighter in September, 2001
Love? Yes. Money? No.
The Red states of Kentucky, North Carolina and Nebraska have gained the money that New York and Washington need to protect all that are live, work and visit them. These funds are nothing more than a bribe to the Reddest of the Red states to keep them in line, and keep them Red. They're also a reminder to New York, DC and anywhere else that might disagree with the Bush administration that they better start playing along to get along.
The reason that the job market is tight is because of all the outsourcing. It's also tight because employers cannot afford healthcare costs. And it's tight because of all the economic manipulations CEOs do to keep their bottom lines looking good for stockholders. The immigrants are on the bottom of the food chain so they are being scapegoated.
What is more, the Bushies have irresponsibly spent down a huge surplus we had and ran up the national debt again. They pushed through the unnecessary tax breaks for rich people and then used this as an excuse to drain social services. Had they not done this, these states would not be in crisis economically now.
We are rich enough to support plenty of immigration. In face, we are going to NEED immigrants to replace the workers that are being lost to the workplace as a result of declines in our birthrates (which is a good phenonomon anyway). The problem is not a lack of money. It's how it is distributed. (If that provokes cries of socialism, so be it...it works in Scandanavia)
We've lived for all these years with these people coming in. We've taken advantage of their availabilty to work for us. When I had a Japanese fellow paint my kitchen cabinets to make a few bucks, I didn't ask if he was legal or not. He was a friend of my nephew and wanted to make a few bucks. The fellow had skills that were useful to me because I didn't have time to paint my own cabinets. He did a fine job. True, I didn't keep him at it for 20 hours and I also gave him a tax-free payment plus a nice meal and socializing. (Ooh I guess I cannot ever run for office now, but who cares?!) But the point is that I didn't feel a need to see if he had a green card or no card or whatever.
We don't fence our borders from the Canadians. That's the reason I think some people feel that there is some kind of racism involved when people complain about Mexico. It may not be true but it sure feels like racism no matter how unintentional it is. Why are Canadians OK but not Mexicans? What's the difference?
I think an open border would be fine. It's been so porous that it is practically open. These immigrants are here to stay and the sooner we get used to it the happier we will all be. New York is full of them--we've always had waves of them--legal or illegal.
Frankly my dear, as Rhett Butler said, I don't give a damn. There are other issues that are much more pressing than who is going to make my Chinese food or muck about to fix our co-op's landscaping. It's a red herring that is being used to call our attention away from the fact that the Bushies are squandering our resources in every possible way to fill their own pockets and push their extreme agenda.
As long as I can still read the signs and do my business, I'm happy to live and let live. I'd just tell them all to take ESL--that's all. It's too hard to learn languages.
-Billie M. Spaight
US Citizens working in Mexico
The following from a director with SW BELL in Mexico City.
I spent five years working in Mexico. I worked under a tourist visa for three months and could legally renew it for three more months. After that you were working illegally. I was technically illegal for three weeks waiting on the FM3 approval. During that six months our Mexican and US Attorneys were working to secure a permanent work visa called a FM3. It was in addition to my US passport that I had to show each time I entered and left the country. Barbara's was the same except hers did not permit her to work. To apply for the FM3 I needed to submit the following notarized originals (not copies) of my:
1. Birth certificates for Barbara and me.
2. Marriage certificate.
3. High school transcripts and proof of graduation.
4. College transcripts for every college I attended and proof of graduation.
5. Two letters of recommendation from supervisors I had worked for at least one year.
6. A letter from The ST. Louis Chief of Police indicating I had no arrest record in the US and no outstanding warrants and was "a citizen in good standing."
7. Finally, I had to write a letter about myself that clearly stated why there was no Mexican citizen with my skills and why my skills were important to Mexico. We called it our "I am the greatest person on earth" letter. It was fun to write.
All of the above were in English that had to be translated into Spanish and be certified as legal translations and our signatures notarized. It produced a folder about 1.5 inches thick with English on the left side and Spanish on the right. Once they were completed Barbara and I spent about five hours accompanied by a Mexican attorney touring Mexican government office locations and being photographed and fingerprinted at least three times. At each location (and we remember at least four locations) we were instructed on Mexican tax, labor, housing, and criminal law and that we were required to obey their laws or face the consequences. We could not protest any of the government's actions or we would be committing a felony.
We paid out four thousand dollars in fees and bribes to complete the process. When this was done we could legally bring in our household goods that were held by US customs in Laredo Texas. This meant we rented furniture in Mexico while awaiting our goods. There were extensive fees involved here that the company paid.
We could not buy a home and were required to rent at very high rates and under contract and compliance with Mexican law.
We were required to get a Mexican drivers license. This was an amazing process. The company arranged for the licensing agency to come to our headquarters location with their photography and finger print equipment and the laminating machine. We showed our US license, were photographed and fingerprinted again and issued the license instantly after paying out a six dollar fee. We did not take a written or driving test and never received instructions on the rules of the road. Our only instruction was never give a policeman your license if stopped and asked. We were instructed to hold it against the inside window away from his grasp. If he got his hands on it you would have to pay ransom to get it back.
We then had to pay and file Mexican income tax annually using the number of our FM3 as our ID number. The companies Mexican accountants did this for us and we just signed what they prepared. I was about twenty legal size pages annually. The FM 3 was good for three years and renewable for two more after paying more fees. Leaving the country meant turning in the FM# and certifying we were leaving no debts behind and no outstanding legal affairs (warrants, tickets or liens) before our household goods were released to customs.
It was a real adventure and If any of our senators or congressmen went through it once they would have a different attitude toward Mexico. The Mexican Government uses its vast military and police forces to keep its citizens intimidated and compliant. They never protest at their White House or government offices but do protest daily in front of the United States Embassy. The US embassy looks like a strongly reinforced fortress and during most protests the Mexican Military surround the block with their men standing shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear to protect the Embassy. These protests are never.
shown on US or Mexican TV. There is a large public park across the street where they do their protesting. Anything can cause a protest such as proposed law changes in California or Texas.
-Forwarded by Sean (Mr. Blue-Sky)
In response to a soldier's quote, "They ranged from little babies to adult males and females. I'll never be able to get that out of my head. I can still smell the blood. This left something in my head and heart," Pat Thompson writes:
This is what happens in war zones. It happened over and over in Vietnam. We supposedly went there to remove the WMD's, which didn't exist, so it was changed to "regime change" since Saddam was a bad man who had gassed his own people. That was over three years ago -- and we are still there and now we are killing the people we went there to liberate. Very much like Vietnam.
"I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."
-The Voters for Peace Pledge
Despite my disgust with both GOP and Democrats, I think this "pledge" is ridiculous. First, it's exaggerating a single issue, which although very important is far from the only major contention I have with the ultra-right and religious nuts.
Second, it could be shooting your leg off. WE MUST VOTE--in every major election, by-election and primary. Sometimes, tragically, it needs to be for the lesser of two evils. Often there are no third party alternatives, and damn few who stand a chance of winning. I am hoping there will be a viable alternative to Bob Casey in November--and I would vote for such a third party person--but I'd never sign this pledge.
What's needed is for dedicated, honest, genuine public servants to take over the Democratic Party from the bottom up, school board by school board, city by city, county by county, state by state. This is in process. Not even the Harry ("On the Take") Reids and Bob Junior ("Oh, Is That a GOP Issue?) Caseys can hold back their busted dam forever.
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