Archive for June, 2013

“Sî Se Drone!”: Music and Slogans for a “New Civil Rights Movement”!

June 28, 2013

dreames drones

The passage of the Corker-Hoeven amendment in the Senate has been called “historic”, “landmark” and lauded in many different visual,, verbal and vibrant ways. Others are protesting at the border and in different cities as if the Corker Hoeven legislation meant more death and destruction. Confusing, right? Needless to say, the passage of the Senate bill has also brought about much confusion and conflict within the immigrant rights movement.

Now that the extreme right wing Corker-Hoeven amendment has replaced the hard right wing “Gang of 8” proposal as the new “bi-partisan” Senate “immigration reform” proposal, we “progressives”  of the “new civil rights movement” have to fight for and defend sanctity of the Corker-Hoeven legislation from the REAL extremists in the House. By linking “border security” to “citizenship”, all this legislation has made it neat and cool and necessary  for all of us to do our patriotic duty to support 20,0000 new border patrol agents, 700 miles of fencing and national ID cards as part of our “new civil rights movement” progressive agenda. As the pic created by a disgruntled DREAMer shows, Drones and the DREAM act are the essence of political cool. If we don’t fight to protect the DREAM and the drones, things could get worse because the Real Bad Guys in the Republican-controlled House will not give us any part of our “new civil rights movement” freedom.

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So, in order to save the cause of freedumb, we here at Of América, the people that brought “Si Se Pedo”, want to do our part for la causa by sharing  slogans that fit the joyous celebration of this “historic victory.” We also want to help of what some call a “new civil rights movement” (despite the fact that overwhelming majorities of black people “do not like the idea that (immigrant rights) messages might attempt to “piggyback” onto the Civil Rights movement.”) So, without further adios, we bring you new slogans that you can use as you march, protest and sit in as part of the”new civil rights movement”:

“We shall over love the DRO-O-O-NES, we shall love the DRO-O-O-NES, we shall love the DRONES todaaayyy. oh, oh deep in my heart, I dooo bleeeeed we shall love the DRO-O-O-NES today. Hallelujah!”

“El-pueblo-DRONE-jamas-sera-legalizado!”

“Que viva la muerte de inocentes en el desierto!” Que vivan los DRONES!”

“What do we want? MORE DESTRUCTION OF BORDER COMMUNITIES! When do we want it? NOW!”

“Si Se Drone!”

“El Muro Unido Jamas Sera Vencido!”,

“The (11 million) People United Will Never Be Legalized!”

El Nuevo Gulag: “Immigration Reform” Will (Further) Increase the Massive Latino Prison Population

June 26, 2013

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The country is paying attention to immigration of late, but few know about one of the recent history and coming  effects of federal immigration policy from Clinton to Obama:  transforming the federal prison system to make Latino prisoners the largest single group in that federal system. Though most immigrant prisoners have committed no crime, changes to federal immigration policy have created what’s known as the “crimmigration” system in which changes to immigration law have multiplied exponentially the ways in which undocumented immigrants can be prosecuted and jailed as criminals.

Most troubling in all this, is that the “crimmigration” policies were partially enabled by more than a decade’s worth of messaging about “tough and smart,” “bi-partisan comprehensive reform” premised on a dangerously simplistic equation: immigrant=criminal. Look at all of the “immigration reform” proposals with their emphasis of “earned legalization”, “tough enforcement”, “border security” and other multi-milloin dollar framing and messaging, and you will see the makings of the Frankenstein immigrant prison monster that has been pieced together “bi-partisan” patches of some legalization in exchange for massive amounts of more and more punitive policy.

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Legal experts and the Congressional Budget Office estimate that S. 744, the Senate version of the immigration reform bill, will  legalize no more 5-8 million, NOT the “11 million” undocumented people touted by reformers). This means that millions will be left as vulnerable to imprisonment, deportation and terror as any previous generation of immigrants. This is one of the many inconvenient facts that “immigration reformer” don’t mention in their talking points about a “tradeoff.” 

11million

At the same time, the current “immigration reform” bill will do nothing to impact the juggernaut of immigrant imprisonment-except intensify and expand it. Consider these impacts guaranteed under the Corker-Hoeven amendmendment, which is now the de-facto bi-partisan Senate bill: 20,000 more border patrol means more “detainees”; More surveillance equipment means more “detainees”; more billion$ for ICE means more privately run federal immigrant prisons and, therefore, more federal immigrant prisoners. New laws in the legislation will increase the categories of immigrant criminality, which means more immigrant prisoners.

And then there’s the policies that gave rise to mass mobilizations and demands for citizenship, policies like SCOMM that will remain in place as President Obama speeds to break his own record of 1.7 million deportations, hundreds of thousands of immigrant prisoners and countless children and families terrorized by thousands of ICE raids. When asked about these kinds of issues during a recent call with immigrant rights advocates, Sen. Charles Schumer, the lead Democrat on immigration, gave stayed with talking points heard from big money, Beltway immigrant rights groups: legalization means that people won’t be subjected to Obama’s deportation machine.

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While predictable, such responses from Schumer and other Democrats “leading the charge on immigration reform” are untrue and dangerous, beginning with the fact that the millions that will be left out of the legalization provisions of S. 744 will face an expanded and more aggressive immigrant prison and deportation dragnet. Future migrants will enter a United States growing even more hostile, more violent and more greedy with regard to immigrants. Nobody, it seems, is thinking of the future, especially the future of immigrant prisoners. Countless reports document that sub-human conditions in which immigrant prisoners are exposed to rape, psychological abuse, beatings, torture and even murder at the hands of immigration jailers.

In the face of “immigration reform” guaranteed to degenerate further the immigrant condition-and non-immigrant condition(i.e. we are complicit with our silence)- in the growing immigrant gulag of the United States, these immigration reformers would do well to remember the words of Doestoevsky, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

We are entering an immigrant prison without precedent, one being built and bolstered with chants of  “Si Se Puede” &  talking points that “trade off” millions of immigrant prisoners for increasingly fewer and fewer immigrant citizens.” (Some) DREAMers and other “Immigration reformers” are gearing up for what, in the context of the coming immgrant gulag can only be called an “Orwellian victory” (or perhaps a pyrrhic victory  What does it mean for the cause of immigrant rights? What does it mean for “civil rights” and Latino politics? And, most importantly, what does this all mean for our civilization? What?

Open Letter to Supporters of “Immigration Reform”: Defend, Explain Support for National ID cards

June 25, 2013

national-id-papers-please

Dear undocumented person, DREAMer & “immigrant advocate”, some of us have supported you, your cause, for decades, in some cases since before you or your CIR cause were born. Many of us in the immigrant ally community often draw inspiration and direction from your example, from your moral authority around immigration reform. At the same time, however, current “immigration reform” discussions have reached that delicate point at which “reform” is no longer just about immigrants anymore-if it ever really was. (i.e it’s also been and is about white privilege, empire and the decline of both). I write because as someone directly impacted by the possible institution of a national identification card system, as someone who knows the devastation wrought by such systems,and as a journalist who has investigated such systems, I have the moral responsibility to speak about this critically important issue.

As it becomes clear that “immigration reform” becomes an excuse for legalizing all manner of wickedness that has little to nothing to do with either immigrants or “reform”,  you should be aware that we have also reached the point at which there limits to your moral authority around certain issues in the “immigration reform” bill, issues like the totalitarian system of social, political control inherent in the national ID card proposal that’s in the”immigration reform” bill you say we need to support.

When I was covering state surveillance as a journalist, I tried to interview some of the national leaders in DC about national ID provisions Sen. Chuck Schumer was trying to introduce in previous CIR bills.  Many said “no comment”; Others called by long after my deadline.  None spoke on record. In muy opinion,  that’s not how we should deal with such colosally important issues. This is not how to give public face to talk of a “tradeoff.” It’s evasive, cowardly and dangerous. The national ID legislation is a Trojan horse that we can’t write off simplistically as “necessary to get Republican votes,” especially since a Democrat, Schumer, has been doing the bidding of high-tech moguls like Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who has offered the technology making national ID’s possible for more than a decade.

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And if you want my support for this bill, I challenge any of you or some of the big powered money and political interests behind the bill to publicly defend things like national ID’s as something worthwhile. At the very least, you should educate the broader community about what you’re asking them to support, you should conduct massive polls that ask people-all people because all are impacted- if they want this. If you can’t or won’t, then as a comrade-in-arms, I again challenge you to break your silence, to be “undocumented and unafraid” and say publicly-on television, radio, news, internet- that “national ID cards” drag us all, citizen and non-citizen, into 21rst century totalitarianism.

With all this surveillance, border militarization and other nefarious garbage in it, the “immigration reform” bill has morphed into a monster that impacts more than 11 million people. It impacts US-MExico relations, (further) impacts all US citizens and hurts all workers in profound and profoundly bad ways that extend beyond the simplistic, infantile stories we’re being told about this bill. When it comes to things like national ID’s and foreign policy, we can’t let desperation, lousy strategists & negotiators and youthful or willful ignorance drag us deeper into the totalitarian abyss. Not trying to out anyone as much as break the silence some have tried to enforce by ascribing moral authority to things like national ID cards where no such moral authority exists.

Thank you

“Oppressive” “Totalitarian” “Dystopia”:Technologists, National Security Experts, Public Officials, Media Organizations Condemn Obama-NSA Spying

June 10, 2013

wiretapping-obama

As the Obama Administration and its Democratic and Republican allies begin to try and defend & explain away Obama’s recently-exposed NSA spying, here are some major voices-technologists, national security experts, public officials, media organizations- offering their views of the threat posed to democracy in the United States:

Unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society.” Tim Berners-Lee, inverntor of World Wide Web

Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” – Al Gore

The (Obama) administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.” – Editors of the New York Times

We believe the large-scale collection of this information by the government has a very significant impact on Americans’ privacy, whether senior government officials recognize that fact or not.” – Senators Ron Wyden & Mark Udall

“The Foundation of a Very Oppressive State”- Brian Jenkins, Top Intelligence and Security analyst at RAND

 “On a Slippery Slope to a Totalitarian State”William Binney, a former top official at the National Security Agency

Be careful” –John Schindler, former NSA analyst & technical director

“I, personally, am by now disgusted with their conduct: the national security apparatus has convinced itself and the rest of the government that the only way it can do its job is to know everything about everyone. That’s not how you protect a country. We didn’t fight the Cold War just so we could rebuild the Stasi ourselves.” – Yonatan Zunger, East German Chief architect of Google+ on what he thinks of the Obama Administration’s activities (FYI, the “Stasi” were E. German security apparatchiks, famous for massive repression

“…we now live in a surveillance dystopia beyond Orwell’s Big Brother vision.”- Nick Weaver, UC Berkeley professor & one fo the country’s top experts on computer and network security

 

Obama, NSA’s Crisis Giving Rise to Renewed (and Rescued) Hope

June 9, 2013

dance

In case you hadn’t heard: in an age in which so much of our productive, political and personal life is mediated by information networks, the cause of human freedom now has a direct & irreversible relationship to the free flow of information across these networks. If you feel an inexplicably warm and fuzzy feeling about what’s happening as Obama’s NSA crisis evolves, let it flow. Don’t shut it down, don’t keep listening to the comforting lies of the elected, bought and unelected killers of Real Hope.

Besides signaling profound societal shifts and possible threats, this tickle of astonishment and wonder might also be the battered, silenced, but still vital voice of Possibility in you. We have nothing to lose but the isolation, despair and powerlessness designed for us by the Killers of Hope.

Welcome to the Bushama Era of Privacy & Security

June 7, 2013

Bushama

Bush: “After September the 11th, I vowed to the American people that our government would do everything within the law to protect them against another terrorist attack.”

Obama: “When I came into this office, I made two commitments that are more important than any that I make: number one, to keep the American people safe and, number two, to uphold the Constitution.”

Bush: “The privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.”

Obama: “That includes what I consider to be a constitutional right to privacy.”

Bush: “The intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat.”

Obama: “When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program. With respect to all these programs the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed.”

Bush: “The government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval.”

Obama: “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls … If the intelligence community actually wants to listen to a phone call, they’ve got to go back to a federal judge.”

Bush: “So far we’ve been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil.”

Obama: “They make a difference in our capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity.”

(source: New York magazine)

Bush: “As a general matter, every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy.”

Obama: “I don’t welcome leaks, because there’s a reason why these programs are classified.”

“Get Used to it”: How Obama & Allies Are Trying to Avoid NSA Scandal Becoming Watergate-Level Crisis of Democracy (or Bigger)

June 7, 2013

king threat

These are the kinds of messages & tactics that (some) corporate media, Obama allies (including some Republicans) & government are using to spin & divert in order to avoid having revelations of Obama’s massive spying network becoming a Watergate (or bigger)-sized crisis of government:

– making light, making jokes (i.e. playing James Bond music, laughing, smiling during reports on spying)

–  saying “this has been going on for years” – in other words, “not a big deal”

– “get used to it”, “get over it” (many headlines with these messages in Slate, Mashable and on TV networks

– launching a war, putting the country on war footing, including a cyberwar

blame the Chinese. Say they’re for stealing state and corporate secrets (as if the U.S. government has not, does not spy massively around the world)

-create a false dichotomy, create a “tradeoff” between “privacy” and “security”

-Use the power of government to create government diversions

– repeating “this is legal” message through Congress and other messengers like Dianne Feinstein

– attack NY Times and other media trying to call this crisis for what it is: a massive crisis and opportunity to turn back the unfettered power of the security state in our midst.

-attack the messenger – Glenn Greenwald and others

– play up other sensational stories that take up space this unprecedentedly huge story merits

– continue the massive distraction from world and domestic events that is daily life in the U.S.

-anything but tell the people that their privacy has been destroyed, that they are at risk of serious anomalies destroying their reputations, livelihood and lives, that the government is pacifying the populace for coming repression