Friday, May 19, 2006

The Lyons roars

If I had my druthers, I'd probably link to Gene Lyons' column just about every week, but this week's offering is really exceptional:
Polls show anger about illegal aliens running strongest where Mexican Americans are fewest. Irrational factors are clearly at work. Basically, they’re the same parts of the South and Midwest where the 19 th century Know-Nothing movement and the Ku Klux Klan flourished. Then immigrant Catholics and Jews threatened national solidarity.

Some have even persuaded themselves that the so-called Reconquista movement poses a conspiratorial threat to recapture states “stolen” from Mexico. Frankly, I’d gladly say good riddance to Texas. In the meantime, maybe we should rename places like Las Vegas, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Colorado lest the Meskins get any ideas.

He points to Glenn Greenwald's piece discussing how the nativist right is using the immigration debate to elide a discussion of the way the administration has abused the power of the executive branch, and concludes:
Only last week, U. S. intelligence "czar" John Negroponte said the government was "absolutely not" monitoring domestic calls. Two days later, USA Today learned that NSA has secretly compiled databases of hundreds of millions of domestic phone calls and uses computer algorithms to scrutinize them for suspicious patterns. How do you know they're up to no good? Because when Qwest refused to hand over customer data without a FISA court ruling, the government dropped the effort. The administration wanted not only Americans to be kept in the dark, but the U. S. government's own secret courts. That's probably because a 1986 federal law made it illegal for communications companies to divulge "a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber or customer... to any government entity." (My emphasis ) ABC News has since confirmed that the FBI is scrutinizing its reporters' phone records as well as those of The New York Times and The Washington Post as part of a CIA "leaks" investigation. Leaks, that is, about torture, secret prisons and, yes, legally suspect domestic "intelligence" efforts—basically anything the government calls classified for reasons of political convenience. Possibly you recall the First Amendment, which reads in part, "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." But hey, look over there: Some stocky little brown guys are digging a ditch.

Man, I wish I'd said that.

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