McCain-Kennedy Immigration Bill Passes

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday passed immigration reform legislation proposed by Sens. McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kennedy (D-Mass). In an apparent victory for pro-immigration demonstrators, the bill would upend the H.R. 4437 Sensenbrenner anti-immigration bill that was approved by the House in December and will be discussed on the Senate floor as soon as Tuesday.

“All Americans wanted fairness and they got it this evening,” said Sen. Ted Kennedy.

By approving the measure 12-6, the Republican-controlled Senate panel demonstrates a shake-up on the right, in which the president, who had originally skewed the party far from the center, now is surrounded by GOP members to his right and left. In regards to historical immigration reform, this is a positive twist, pending its impact on the House-passed Sensenbrenner bill. Marc Cooper describes it as:

…A huge and welcome political victory for immigration reform advocates who have been working to bring national policies into line with some pretty stark realities. For the first time in 20 years, we see at least one house of congress inching out of the hypocrisy and denial that has characterized U.S. border and immigration policy.

Joe Gandelman’s covered immigration issues for over a quarter-century. He compares the current legislation to a failed Reagan-era proposal, presents historical arguments and links to a breadth of blogged opinion on the topic here at his excellent site The Moderate Voice.

At least 20,000 students walked-out of LAUSD schools in protest Monday (FOX nearly doubles the figure), and surely some were passionate about more than just skipping class (photos).

LA Times photo
Today’s vote dramatically broadens the proposed immigration bill on the eve a bound-to-be contentious debate on the Senate floor, where as even Senate Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter, one of four Republicans to approve the legislation, admits it may be severly altered.Multimedia PostScript: President Bush enhanced his centrist (or maybe just confused) position on the issue with a visit to a naturalization ceremony, available in full color at the White House website. WaPo has a fundraising-thermometer type graphic of illegal immigrants here.

If It Looks Like a Civil War…

Remember the made-for-Saturday-Night-Live Iraqi Information Minister? Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf became the most laughed-about character in the early days of the 2003 Iraqi invasion, when he declared — with bombs dropping in the background — “I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad.”

Iraqis were already accustomed to misinformation and government propaganda, but the rest of the world quickly shrugged al-Sahaf off as a fool and a joker.

But, today, not only is the U.S. government lying straight to the faces of the “liberated” Iraqis, the public messages being sent home are point-blank untruths that don’t match up to accounts (see the pictures below) on the ground.

The U.S. government doesn’t need a funny-face guy like the Iraqi Information Minister — they already tried that with the Don Rumsfeld show — it just grinds out misinformation like an anarchic machine.

The NYT Week in Review has a barometerical graphic of rhetorical devices used by the administration to term what is by-definition “civil war” as anything but. And a hideous number of politicians and supposedly non-partisan journos have bought into the notion that the media isn’t reporting any of the good news (documented here by Peter Daou w/ additional commentary here, here, and here).

But, as Lara Logan made clear on CNN’s Late Edition this morning, the media goes out of its way to try and report the good news, but is precluded from doing so by the government for security reasons (transcript):

“Who says things aren’t falling apart in Iraq? I mean, what you didn’t see on your screens this week was all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up, all the allegations here of militias that are really controlling the security forces.”

Indeed, this was best exemplified in today’s nothing but the truth accounts of a Baghdad attack Sunday killing around 20 “bystanders” (or “insurgents” as the Army reports) at a “mosque” (say Iraqi’s and observers on the ground, including the video evidence below) or a “community meeting hall” (U.S. military).

Read the first few grafs of the original AP report (since updated) and join me in my frustration. It is every bit as difficult to believe the U.S. version of the story as it is to believe al-Sadr’s.

Rep. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) effectively disclosed last week that reports from U.S. generals in Iraq tend to be significantly altered as they pass through our “ministry” of information.

“I think we have had a low-grade civil war going on in Iraq, certainly the last six months, maybe the last year. Our own generals have told me that privately.”

I want to know how U.S. troops are efficiently providing security considering daily reports of sectarian beheadings and executions on public streets. Isn’t that what we went there to stop?
The screenshots from the AP video taken at what the cameraman described as an imam’s living quarters attached to a mosque in Baghdad, where the aforementioned attack occured, depict the slaying of apparently unarmed civilians. I just knew the story would change as the day progressed — I can no longer believe Pentagon press releases proclaiming a “secured objective” netting 16 dead “insurgents” and 15 additional captures.

UPDATE: The British press continues to dig for truth in Bush’s War, as pointed out by Editor and Publisher. BBCNews reports today that “Iraqi police say U.S. troops killed up to 20 people… in Baghdad mosque raid.” The Sunday Times reported the following in “Iraqis killed by U.S. Troops ‘on Rampage’“:

the evidence from Haditha and Abu Sifa last week suggested that the Pentagon is finding it increasingly difficult to dismiss allegations of violent excesses as propaganda by terrorist sympathisers.?

Over 100,000 Protest Immigration Bill

Hundreds of thousands of people converged on the streets of Los Angeles today in protest of The House of Representatives bill that would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border. (watch video)
H.R. 4437, known as the Sensenbrenner Bill after its author, the bigoted Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

The abhorrent disregard of men and women who are pillars of everyday American society is well-documented in many places. In fact, the country of Mexico will not even stand for it. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) calls it “anti-faith based.”

The Senate is to begin debating the proposals on Tuesday and as the bill has already passed in the House, it is high time to see to it that this does not pass the Senate. Call your Congressman.
Should H.R. 4437 be signed into law, the items bulleted below will be in effect:
source: via TalkLeft and AlterNet.

  • Continues expanding the same border enforcement and militarization strategies that has resulted in over 4,000 migrant death since 1994.
  • Expands the expedited deportation program
  • 11 million undocumented immigrants would be declared “aggravated felons” for having come to this country to do back-breaking work at low wages in order to feed their families.
  • Priests, nuns, health care workers and other helpers would be threatened with jail time for assisting the undocumented.
  • Local police would have to enforce federal immigration laws, undermining community policing strategies meant to build confidence between police and immigrant communities.
  • Day labor sites would be shut down by federal law, overruling the hard work of activists and enlightened local communities attempting to solve problems caused in part by Congressional inaction on comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Seven hundred miles of walls would be built between the United States and our friendly neighbors to the south, an act that has touched off a diplomatic crisis with Latin America.
  • Immigration Rally, Los Angeles, March 25, 2006

  • Drastically expands the definition of an aggravated felony (deportable offense).
  • Requires mandatory detention for all immigrants apprehended at ports of entry or along international borders until removal or a final decision in their case.
  • Overturns the Supreme Court’s ruling in Zadvydas which limits long-term detention.

Iraqi Reconstruction… Wha Happened?

Good eye, CJR’s Gal Beckerman, highlighting a much-overlooked bit of news that appeared in Friday’s USA Today:

The government has slipped a noose around the $21 billion program that, according to the article, was supposed to “fix or build schools, roads, clinics, ports, bridges, government offices, phone networks, power plants and water systems.”

Also in the how-to-blow-a-trillion-bucks department:? Warren Olney discussed estimates that the U.S. will spend over one trillion dollars on the Iraq campaign on PRI’s To the Point (listen).