Monday, January 22, 2007


"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." -- Ayn Rand, The Nature of Government

I have no desire to get embroiled in the current tangled debate on immigration, either legal or illegal. However, I have watched with interest the intense campaign for President Bush first to intervene in the trial of two border patrol agents accused of shooting a suspected Mexican drug dealer as he fled, and then to pardon the agents for the crime after they were convicted.

CNN's Lou Dobbs has led the crusade against illegal immigration for the past several years, and seems to be in the camp that believes if you're an immigrant and you're illegal, the gloves come off. You deserve what you get. I agree with Dobbs that our borders must be secured and that Mexicans entering our country legally should be welcomed as they have been throughout our history. However, those like Osvaldo Aldrete Davila who slip across the border illegally should be stopped and sent back home -- not shot as they are trying to escape.

The agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, entered prison last week amid shrieks of injustice, to begin serving sentences of 11 and 12 years. They were convicted not only of shooting Davila, who was unarmed and running away, but of destroying evidence, covering up a crime scene and filing false reports concerning the circumstances.

Right-wing pundits and politicians on both sides of the aisle seeking political gain are clamoring for Bush to pardon Ramos and Compean for their "act of courage" and to ignore the laws they broke and the crimes they committed.. Although Congress has never bestowed a pardon on anyone convicted of a crime, in a ploy to get attention last week, presidential hopeful Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) introduced a bill demanding that Congress, rather than Bush, pardon them.

That's not likely to happen, so the pressure remains on Bush. In an interview in El Paso last Thursday, Bush was asked if he would consider pardoning the two agents. In classic Bush bumblespeech, he non-replied, “There are standards that need to be met in law enforcement, and according to a jury of their peers, these officers violated some standards.”

Bush then stammered, “On this case, people need to take a hard look at the facts, at the evidence that the jury looked at, as well as a judge. And that’s -- I will do the same thing. Now, there’s a process for pardons,” he continued. “I mean, it’s got to work its way through a system here in government. But I just want people to take a sober look at the reality. It’s a case, as you said, it’s got a lot of emotions.”

Upon hearing this, news sites such as, jumped out with, "Bush Eyes Pardon for Border Patrolmen," and announced, "President Bush on Thursday said a pardon was possible for two Border Patrol agents serving prison sentences for shooting a Mexican drug dealer as he fled and then covering up the crime..."

For NewsMax to reach such a conclusion from Bush's twisted rhetoric is not only a stretch of the imagination, it's a classic example of wishful thinking. The "standards" that the two agents "violated" were laws they broke, for which they were convicted by a jury of their peers. Ramos and Compean are criminals. According to the Justice Department, the "process for pardons" that Bush says has to "work its way through a system here in government" is that once convicted, a criminal is not even eligible for consideration to be pardoned for a period of at least five years.

The bad news is that even if Bush, who is determined to work not above the law but outside the law, decides to "eye" pardons for the two agents, he will rely on the recommendation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Given the Bush-Gonzales history of compassion for their fellow human beings, it's a slam-dunk that Ramos and Compean will remain incarcerated. The good news is they were not sentenced to death...

The only coherent statement Bush made is that the border patrol case has "got a lot of emotions." I don't pretend to understand all I know about illegal immigration, but it seems likely those emotions will get uglier and more intense if this administration continues to nod and wink at securing the border between the United States and Mexico. If there is a policy other than to give no-bid contracts to Halliburton to build a network of detention camps where immigrants will be held indefinitely, I'm not aware of it. I find it difficult to believe that these camps are cheaper -- more humane -- than simply closing the border to illegal entry.

Those who cry that the border between Mexico and the United States stretches for 2,000 miles and is all but impossible to control apparently are unaware of the new passport requirements that go into effect on January 23. Air travelers going to or from the US, Canada, Mexico, the Carribbean and Bermuda must have passports.

Those who have no problem with them coming for air travelers should know that as early as January 2008, they're coming back for the rest of us. According to just the basics, "All persons -- including U.S. citizens -- traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security."

Americans who cherish freedom would do well to stop stumbling around in the trees and forests of the illegal immigration debate and see that the Bush administration is well on its way to closing the borders of the entire nation, not only to people trying to get in, but to citizens trying to get out. For the millions who don't travel, it's probably no big deal -- they long for the tranquility of servitude and do not recognize shouts coming from the rest of us as a desperate rattling of chains.

Unfortunately, securing the homeland is a two-edged sword that the Bush administration and military establishment profiteers are holding firmly over our heads. It's time Americans realized that we are in danger of being herded into a national detention camp in which there are no pardons, and from which there is no escape.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Matter of the Heart

One doesn't have to be around this scrappy little lady from Kansas long to realize that the strongest thing about her is her will and the sharpest thing about her is her mind. But those who know Mary Pitt will tell you the largest, the most magnificent thing about her is her heart.

After reading one of Mary's "rants," as she calls her cut-to-the-chase articles, a friend told me she wished she had the time that Mary has to speak out against the hi-jinks of this illegal government. "I'd like to trade places with Mary," she said, "I could write, too, if I had more time...if I was her age, and didn't have so much on my plate -- so many other obligations..."

That isn't likely, I wanted to retort, since you'd have to catch her first. Mary's plate long ago morphed into a platter. Not only did she care for her own family, but adopted others who had no families. Having a daughter who was mentally impaired, she established a business to legally care for her and for others like her, both young and old, so they could have some quality of life and not be forced to languish in institutions.

In recent months, Mary's platter overflowed, and is now a tray that she lugs around while stuff just keeps piling on. She was forced to slow down long enough to have stents implanted in her heart, but was up and running and ranting and writing upon returning home.

Shortly thereafter, her daughter Jerri became ill and, after an extended stay in the hospital, suddenly died. Just as suddenly, the health of her husband Ed, to whom she was married for more than half a century, began to deteriorate.

Ed died just days before Christmas.

A day before the funeral, while tending to last-minute arrangements, Mary says she "got woozy." She fell, hitting her head and was unconscious when they airlifted her from her home in Yates Center to the hospital in Wichita. There, she remained on constant monitor for nine hours, during which time she repeatedly flat-lined.

They put in a pacemaker.

She missed her husband's funeral.

Her bio at the bottom of her articles says it all. Mary Pitt is indeed "with it." She is literally a warrior for truth and justice. Upon her return from the hospital, she roared back out there, giving 'em hell.

Whether you agree or disagree with Pitt when you read her articles, one thing you can take to the bank -- her words come straight from her heart.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


As someone once said, "It just don't get no better'n that..."

Sunday, when the New England Patriots and New York Jets hit the field for their third match-up this year, it promises to be a Wild Card "wild" game.

The Jets, my "wait til next year" team, are never out of the fight until the season is over. After a dismal 5-5 start this year, most scribes had marked them off the playoff calendar and were predicting a "down year" for the Jets' first-season coach, 35-year-old Eric Mangini.

If those scribes have anything to do with it, Sunday's game will also be a clash of the coaches. Mangini came to the Jets a year ago after six seasons with the Pats -- five as defensive back coach and one as defensive coordinator -- under the Pats' hard-driving Bill Belichick. It's almost like each coach has the other's playbook...

Don't get no better'n that.

Most people don't realize that I am the Jets' secret weapon. It took me a full eight games before it dawned on that they lost each time I watched them play. Since I started "listening" to Jets' games while sitting in front of the TV with a sack over my head, they catapaulted back into action -- and into the playoffs.

Hey, least I can do.

In the history of the playoffs, these two scrappy teams have met only once -- in a 25-14 win for the Pats in 1985. This year, the Jets lost to the Pats 24-17 in September, but roared back in November with a startling 17-14 win on a muddy, sloggy Gillette Field.

Which just proves what I've been telling the AFC East for years -- you go head-to-head with the Jets in the mud, the blood, the slog or the fog -- you're gonna lose. The Pats must have finally realized that because, in the interim, they hurriedly installed FieldTurf in an effort to regain their division supremacy by playoff time.

So the showdown comes down on Sunday. The Pats are convinced the new turf is their secret weapon to beat the Jets. They brag that they haven't lost a game since it was installed.

Maybe so, but the Jets will have their own secret weapon when they roar out onto Gillette Field on Sunday. And it'll be sitting in front of the TV -- with a sack over its head.