The Pursuit of Happiness

The phrase means something different to every person. The Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Please feel free to comment on any of the posts or browse the topic links on the left hand side below.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Satan is Resting Easy: The Power of Christ "Propels" Them

By Jason Miller

Remember, Big Brother is watching, listening and reading. In light of the illegal surveillance they are conducting at the behest of their incompetent, rogue, and murderous Commander-in-Chief, I am dedicating this essay to the NSA.

To George Bush, Dick Cheney, Daniel Pipes, and their soulless war-mongering compadres, I proudly admit that I support the Palestinians (and their democratically elected Hamas leaders) in their struggle against their brutal Israeli oppressors. In fact, consider me a member of the so-called Fifth Column identified by Pipes. I abhor virtually all of the foreign and domestic policies the Machiavellian disciples of Strauss have implemented through wielding their ill-gotten power and influence. However, the United States is as much my country as it is theirs. I fully intend to remain here and work persistently against them by continuing to tenaciously pursue human rights and social justice for humanity, not simply for a select few in the United States and Israel.

Quoting the eloquent and infamous words of the incredibly articulate Mr. Cheney, I say, "Fuck you!" to their malignant cabal. While this nefarious faction and its loyalists may consider me a traitor, I refuse to pledge allegiance to a pack of criminals who have hijacked the government of the people of the United States. If it is treason to dissent against corrupt thieves and murderers who have shredded our sacred Constitution, I stand guilty as charged.

There are lies and there are damned lies…

One of the boldest and most insidious lies propagated by the leadership of the Zionists, the Dominionists, the Religious Right, and by their whores in Washington is that the Middle East is populated primarily by Islamic extremists with an insatiable thirst for the blood of "innocent American Christians" and who are hell bent on eliminating "those poor chronic victims" illegally occupying the land of the Palestinians and committing genocide against them.

Somehow, in a twist of logic only Lewis Carroll could fully comprehend, many people in the United States have been indoctrinated to believe that our nation, which possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the history of mankind, is the only nation to have used those weapons on a massive scale (just ask the Japanese), and bears direct and indirect responsibility for the murder of tens of millions of innocent civilians over the last century, is a benevolent super-power illuminating a beacon of hope for humanity. I readily recognize that other nations and governments have committed their share of atrocities, but I do not see them waving the Red, White and Blue, piously trumpeting platitudes about spreading freedom and democracy, and simultaneously waging pre-emptive strikes against nations which they merely “perceive to be a potential threat”. Holier than thou, dost thou think? The golden chalice of the United States runneth over with putrid sanctimony.

The terror of gazing at one’s own reflection…

For over a year now, I have written numerous essays which have been widely published on the Internet. My primary goal has been to inspire Americans to apply the same humanitarian standards to our nation that we use to stringently and hypocritically measure other nations. I have also attempted to convince more Americans to engage in introspection and self-examination. When I began plumbing those depths about 13 years ago, I did not like what I saw. I have steadily acted to reshape my values, outlook, and decisions to align with ideals such as human rights, social justice, peace, equality, thrift, dignity, honesty, respect, and responsibility. While I have not achieved the high moral plain of a Gandhi by any means, I have become more a part of the solution than the problem.

Based on the hateful, denigrating, and sometimes threatening emails I receive from about a third of the readers responding to my essays, I conclude that my message threatens the sense of security many Americans derive from supporting the status quo. I have also determined that I am swimming upstream against an addictive torrent of vitriolic propaganda spewed by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Jonah Goldberg, and a host of others. Sorry to disappoint those of you who have told me to leave the country, kill myself, or renounce being a “traitor and a "self-hating American" (yes, they often parrot the rhetoric of the likes of Daniel Pipes), but I have no intention of moving, killing myself, or abandoning my deeply rooted antipathy for the enemies of humanity (and the Earth) who have stolen the United States from We the People.

Jesus as a commodity… and a weapon

One of the American elite’s (amongst whom I include their complicit disseminators of propaganda in the mainstream media) most repulsive means of grabbing and maintaining power has been its shameless use of spiritual manipulation, a heinous form of psychological abuse. Preying on fear, insecurity, and ignorance, they have perverted true Christianity to the extent that a third of those voting for George Bush, a man as morally repugnant as Dorian Gray, were a part of the radical Religious Right.

With the help of mendacious, avaricious, and highly sophisticated hucksters like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Ted Haggard, the American plutocracy has packaged and commercialized spirituality like an Extra Value Meal at McDonald’s. You want fast food salvation done the American way? Look for the Golden Crosses, zip into the drive-through, drop some donation money, and accept Christ as your savior! Forget spiritual pain or sacrifice. Jesus died to grant you a path to easy street. So be on your merry way with your Big Mac of two all beef patties and guaranteed eternity in heaven. Chase it down with an enchanting Golgotha collector’s cup filled with smug certainty that you are now morally superior to the rest of humanity. Savor a side of Schadenfreude fries delightfully spiced with visions of the abject torment the “heathens” will face when Jesus the Avenger returns to Earth to smite the sinners.

Acknowledging that not all those comprising the Religious Right are created equal, and that there is a great deal of diversity amongst their beliefs and practices, there is enough commonality to conclude that the malefactors at the helm of the US have leveraged the hateful, narrow-minded beliefs of enough of these fanatics to garner sufficient support to commit egregious acts of torture, passive mass murder (New Orleans ring a bell?), massive slaughter under the guise of military intervention, and theft of public funds.

Men like Dobson shepherd their flocks to vote for bellicose champions of the wealthy because these “moral stalwarts” have pledged their undying support to a "culture of life". Despite their "devotion" to making abortion illegal, ending the use of human embryos (even those which would otherwise be discarded) for stem cell research, and denying equal rights to 5-10% of our population (gays and lesbians), the power brokers have perpetually been incapable of making good on their promises. While championing these “family values”, they have mesmerized their Religious Right followers into supporting the false dichotomy of Christianity vs. Islam, an imperialistic and murderous agenda in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, and domestic policies which significantly erode the economic well-being of their radical Christian base (and the rest of us amongst the working class). Thomas Frank explored this mind-blowing phenomenon in great detail in his book, What's the Matter with Kansas.

Realize that I am not disparaging the Christian religion in general. Personally, I am a spiritual person with a belief in a Higher Power, but I am not Christian. However, I recognize that there are many rational, compassionate, and decent human beings who practice Christianity. If one reads many of my essays, one will discover that I often find myself defending Islam and its followers in my writing. I do this because they have been the victims of Western imperialism for years. I make no claim that either the Muslims or Christians are better. I am simply deeply concerned about the Western genocide and acts of imperialism committed against Islamic peoples since oil became a valued commodity. In spite of the despicable misdeeds committed in our names, we wonder why so many in the Middle East harbor such hostility against the United States and its residents. We act befuddled, violated, and validated in our belief that we are morally superior when obscenely oppressed and exploited people resort to “terrorism” in a desperate attempt to defend themselves from the mightiest military and economy in the history of the world.

I abhor the violence committed by both sides, but we are not the “good guys”. The prevaricators leading our nation and writing our history have portrayed Americans as wearing the white hats for far too long. Transgressions and atrocities have been committed by many nations and people throughout history, including the United States and its leaders. Consider the most recent example in Iraq. Our occupying force has killed over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians. This is state terrorism at its worst and it needs to end. With our resources, the United States could become a humanitarian force. Sadly, the Neocons have chosen guns over butter (using our tax dollars and a mountain of borrowed money) to a shameless degree, enraging many of us who still have a social conscience.

Do as we say, not as we do….

Just as some Islamic fundamentalists wield religion as a weapon, the morally bankrupt aristocracy of the United States utilizes religion as a tool of war. Employing the power of spiritual manipulation to muster the support of their minions of extremist Christians, the authors of the Project for the New American Century mobilized enough popular support to invade a nation which had not harmed the United States, to eradicate the poor in New Orleans through passive mass murder and a Diaspora, to sell our children's future by committing to $8 trillion worth of debt to power their war machine, to cut taxes on the rich, and to increase war spending while cutting spending on programs which benefit humanity.

I hate to burst the bubble of those still deluded enough to accept the false premise (advanced by the Bush Regime) that we are a Christian nation embroiled in a modern day crusade against the followers of an Islamic religion which teaches them to hate democracy and brutally violate human rights. Here is a dose of reality. Over the last century, this "good Christian nation" and our friends in Israel have slaughtered, murdered, and tortured millions of Islamic people, both directly and indirectly (through proxy dictators). In contrast, Islamic murders of Americans, Christians and Jews are a relative drop in the bucket. Rather than "spreading freedom and democracy", Bush has the United States spreading imperialism, torture, and murder of innocent civilians. Saddam Hussein’s removal from power was a mere sideshow. If the United States was so concerned with its moral obligation to remove a ruthless dictator from power, there were many others they could have targeted. It was oil, power, and increased security for our terrorist proxy occupying Palestine that motivated the United States to invade Iraq.

Speaking of concern for human rights and humanitarian intervention, when is the United States going to stop funding Israel and launch an invasion against them to stop the Palestinian genocide? When groups like Hamas have the audacity to resist oppression and murder, Americans and Israelis label them as "terrorists". Now that Hamas is the democratically elected ruling party of the PA, the United States has elected to cut its aid to the Palestinians, a people who are already wallowing in the misery of Israeli-inflicted poverty and racial extermination. (As a side note, the Israelis are able to inflict genocide on the Palestinians because of the obscene amounts of financial and military aid they receive from the United States). To add insult to injury, Israel has determined that they can once again disregard international law by withholding the Palestinian tax revenues they collect (the Palestinians’ chief source of income). As is typical, the United States and its proxy are free to violate treaties, international laws, UN mandates, and humanitarian standards with impunity while applying the same laws to the rest of the world to the nth degree.

How about calling us a pluralistic nation with freedom of religion?

The notion that the United States is a Christian nation is false on numerous levels. Certainly we are heavily influenced Christianity, but to say we are a Christian nation flies in the face of the raison de’ etre of America.

Consider the following:

1. According to the 1990 US Census, 91.6% of Americans were Christians. By 2000, the percentage had decreased to 85%. We 42 million “heathens” represent a pretty significant portion of the population.

2. Many of the Western Europeans who settled the original thirteen colonies fled their nations of origin to evade religious persecution and state-imposed religions.

3. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, two of our most prominent Founding Fathers, were Deists. Washington and Jefferson were not particularly religious but tended more toward Deism than Christianity.

4. Thomas Paine, whose writings were a powerful catalyst for the American Revolution, vehemently attacked Christianity in one of his polemical works and refused to embrace Christianity, even on his death-bed.

5. God is not mentioned in our Constitution. The Declaration of Independence simply mentions "Nature's God" and a "Creator", neither of which specifically imply a Christian god.

6. Per the Treaty of Tripoli, endorsed by President John Adams and ratified unanimously by the US Senate in 1797: "As the Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion..."

7. If Christians lay claim to the United States as their nation, that means they bear the sole responsibility for the evils of slavery, the virtual annihilation of the Native Americans, and the many acts of state terror perpetrated by the US military and CIA over the years.

8. In 1864, the equivalent of today's Religious Right cowed Congress into passing legislation mandating that the US begin stamping "In God We Trust" on several of our coins. Besides caving to the powerful influence of Christian fundamentalists, our federal government also recognized the psychological boost the power of Christian symbolism would give them after the blow to their authority rendered by the Civil War.

9. McCarthy-inspired anti-Communist hysteria motivated Eisenhower to sign Public Law 140 in 1956. Going forward, all US coins and paper money bore the propagandistic slogan "In God We Trust" to reassure Americans that we were better than the godless Communists. The same year, the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. It took 180 years for this Christian nation to fully embrace its identity. Or perhaps it simply took our plutocratic rulers that long to recognize the power of spiritual coercion….

As an aside, the original motto on the United States was E Pluribus Unum (Latin for “Out of many, one”), which obviously encourages more unity and cohesion than an exclusionary national motto dedicated to a god worshipped by one segment of the population.

Sleeping like babies….

Aside from the power of radical Christianity to subjugate the masses, this disturbing perversion of healthy spirituality does come with an added “benefit”. It enables its devotees to support politicians who rob from the poor to give to the rich, who wage murderous and imperialist wars to enrich the military industrial complex, and who allow their corporate collaborators to blatantly abuse employees, consumers, and the environment. Thanks to the salve provided to their consciences by "knowing" they live in a Christian, morally superior nation (not to mention the security provided by their "guaranteed blissful after-life"), the mélange of groups and people comprising the extreme Religious Right can swear their allegiance to a group of monstrous human beings without feeling a twinge of guilt.

As many of my antagonists have pointed out, I am not without limitations (and I do not claim to be). Remaining in the United States to wage a non-violent struggle for human rights and social justice virtually assures that I will be a party to enabling the US war machine and corporatocracy in some way. Besides the fact that I pay federal taxes (fairly unavoidable for a working class family person), buy some products from grossly corrupt corporations (albeit as few as possible), and have my share of personal spiritual struggles, my other glaring sin is the hostility I harbor toward the enemies of humanity sitting atop the throne of power in our nation. However, even Jesus himself directed outrage at the money-changers and legalistic religious leaders of his day. If someone of his moral capacity directed anger at the corrupt establishment, who am I to presume I could overcome my rancor against the malevolent forces comprising the United States ruling elite? If their numerous crimes against humanity were not fanning the flames of my anger, I would no longer be breathing. My challenges are to prevent my ire from evolving into festering hatred or desire for revenge and to strive to maintain constructive anger (which motivates me to seek justice and positive change). That is a challenge to which I can rise, despite my human short-comings.

Please excuse my use of profanity above, but it felt so good to echo Cheney's choice sentiments back to him and his unwholesome cohorts. Meanwhile, send Satan a postcard on his vacation. Our imperialistic rulers do not need him to perpetrate their acts of profound moral depravity. They glide on the momentum generated by fanatical followers who believe they have the market cornered on morality and that Jesus will soon return to Earth as the ultimate WMD.

Jason Miller is a 39 year old sociopolitical essayist with a degree in liberal arts and an extensive self-education. When he is not spending time with his wife and three sons, doing research, or writing, he works as a loan counselor. He is a member of Amnesty International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, at .

Illegal Workers: the Con's Secret Weapon

by Thom Hartmann

Published on Wednesday, March 8, 2006 by

Conservatives are all atwitter about illegal immigrants. Some want to give them amnesty. Others want to reinstitute the old Bracero program. Others want to build a wall around America, like the communists did around East Berlin. Some advocate all of the above.

But none will tell Americans the truth about why we have eleven million illegal aliens in this nation now (when it was fewer than 2 million when Reagan came into office), why they're staying, or why they keep coming. In a word, it's "jobs." In conservative lexicon, it's "cheap labor to increase corporate profits."

Recently George W. Bush insulted working Americans by saying that we need eleven million illegal immigrants here in the United States because (in a slightly cleaned-up version of the more blatantly racist comments of Vicente Fox) there are some jobs that "American's won't do." As the modern-day Sago miners, and the 1950s Ed Norton character Art Carney played on the old Jackie Gleason show (who worked in the sewers of NYC) prove, the reality is that there are virtually no jobs Americans won't do - for an appropriate paycheck.

It's really all about breaking the back of the most democratic (and Democratic) of American institutions - the American middle class.

One of the tools conservatives have used very successfully over the past 25 years to drive down wages, bust unions, and increase CEO salaries has been to encourage illegal immigrant labor in the US. Their technique is transparently simple.

Conservatives well understand supply and demand. If there's more of something, its price goes down. If it becomes scarce, its price goes up.

They also understand that this applies just as readily to labor as it does to houses, cars, soybeans, or oil. While the history of much of the progressive movement in the United States has been to control the supply of labor (mostly through pushing for maximum-hour, right-to-strike, and child-labor laws) to thus be able to bargain decent wages for working people, the history of conservative America has, from its earliest days grounded in slavery and indentured workers from Europe, been to increase the supply of labor and drive down its cost.

In the 1980s, for example, the increasing supply of labor (both from Reagan-allowed consolidations eliminating redundant jobs, and from illegal immigration, which was around 3 million illegals by the time Reagan left office) fed massive union-busting in industry sectors from those directly hit with illegal immigrant labor (like construction and agriculture) to those who only felt its fallout but nonetheless were pressed (like coal mining). In part, because of these national downward pressures on organized labor, the miners who died in the International Coal Group's Sago Mine didn't have union protection.

Indeed, as the International Coal Group's June 2005 form S-A/1 filing notes about one of their other recent mine acquisitions: ".assets are high quality reserves strategically located in Appalachia and the Illinois Basin, are union free, have limited reclamation liabilities and are substantially free of other legacy liabilities." Similarly, it's estimated that the construction industry enhanced their profits last year by over a billion dollars because the availability of illegal immigrant labor has so significantly pushed down the price of construction labor.

"Union free" is good for the CEOs and stockholders of giant corporations. Reagan helped make it possible by reducing enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust and similar acts, by making the Labor Department hostile to labor, and by thus producing an environment into which illegal immigrant labor could step. He busted PATCO and popularized anti-union rhetoric, at a time when union membership was one of the primary boundaries that keep illegal labor out of the marketplace.

Today, this fundamental economic rule of labor supply and demand is most conspicuous in the conservative reluctance to stop illegal immigration into the United States. All those extra (illegal) workers, after all, drive up the supply - and thus drive down the cost - of labor. Even in areas where there are not high populations of illegal immigrants, their presence elsewhere in the American workforce drives down overall the cost of labor nationwide. And when the cost of labor goes down, there's more money left over for CEOs and stockholder dividends.

Conservatives can't just come out and say that they are pleased with the estimated eleven million illegal workers in the United States driving down wages. They can't brag that, behind oil revenue, Mexico's second largest source of income is money sent home from illegal "cheap labor" workers in the United States. They can't point out that before Reagan declared war on working people in 1981 we didn't "need a fence" to keep out illegal immigrants from the south, in large part because the high rate of unionization in America at that time, and enforcement of laws against hiring illegal immigrants, served as barriers to the entry of illegals into the workforce. They won't acknowledge the corporate benefits of a workforce whose healthcare is paid for by taxpayers but whose productivity belongs to their corporate masters.

But conservative strategists have noticed that the workers - and the voters - of the United States are getting nervous about nearly 10 percent of our workforce being both illegal and cheap. This has led conservative commentators and politicians to resort to classic "wedge issue" rhetoric, exploiting Americans' fears -- while working to keep conditions relatively the same as they are today.

They talk about building fences. They worry out loud about brown-skinned Middle Eastern terrorists slipping in amongst the brown-skinned South- and Central Americans. They warn us of all the social security money we'll lose if illegals have to leave the country and stop paying into a system from which they'll never be able to collect. They even find themselves obligated - catering to both working-class fears and to the bigots among us - to promote the idea of giant fences around the country to keep illegals out. (A fence that would, no doubt, tremendously profit their big contractor friends.)

At the same time, catering to compassionate Americans who don't realize this is all about driving up corporate profits and driving down workers' wages, cons like Arlen Specter are promoting legislation that would decriminalize the illegals currently in the United States, thus making legal our increased workforce. As Rachel L. Swarns reported in The New York Times on February 25, 2006: "Advocates for immigrants said the [Bush/Specter] plan failed to protect the rights of immigrant workers, who they argue deserve a clear path to citizenship. And the AFL-CIO warned that a guest worker program of unlimited scale would depress wages and working conditions while creating a perpetual underclass of foreign workers."

None of the various con proposals - from a fence to amnesty - address the fundamental truth of the situation: Conservatives and the businesses they represent want to maintain a large, illegal or marginally legal, and thus powerless workforce in the United States, to keep down the price of labor and help them finally destroy the union movement - and, thus, that politically pesky middle class.

The reason for all these lies and obfuscations is simple, and found in the core notions of conservatism, articulated from Burke in the late 1700s to Kirk in 1953 and Greenspan over the past two decades. It's all about power, and since wealth equals power, about the control of wealth in society.

Conservatives believe that what John Adams called "the rabble" - you and me - can't really be trusted with governance, and therefore that job should be kept to an elite few. The big difference between the old-line Burke conservatives and modern conservatives is that Burke and the cons of his day felt that an hereditary ruling class was desirable (because it would inculcate rulers with a sense of "noblesse oblige"), whereas modern cons like Adams, McKinley, Kirk, and Bush believe that the ruling class should be more of a meritocracy - rule by the "best."

And - in the finest tradition of John Calvin (who suggested that wealth was a sign of God's blessing) - what better indication of "best" could there be than "richest"? They believe there should be a thin veneer of democracy on these old conservative notions of aristocracy in order to placate the masses, but are quite certain that it would be a disaster should the rabble ever actually have a strong say in running the country.

This is, at its core, why conservatives embrace the idea of eliminating the American middle class and replacing it with a Dickensian "working poor" class, and are working so hard to use illegal immigrant labor as the lever to bring this about.

As the '60's and '70's showed - during the height of the American middle class's economic and political power - a strong middle class will challenge corporate power and assert itself economically and politically. This represents a very real threat to conservative ruling elites. "The people" may even suggest that the most elite of the elites should pay stiffer taxes on the top end of their income, so that money can be used to provide the economically most disadvantaged with an opportunity to become socially and economically mobile. It would reduce the most massive of the wealth and the power of the most elite of our conservative elites.

Offshoring, union-busting, and nurturing a huge population of illegal workers (while pretending to be frantic about it and bleating about building fences, fielding vigilantes, or offering "amnesty") are the core ways to destroy an economic middle class, thus ensuring the ongoing political power of the conservative elite takeover that began with the so-called "Reagan revolution" and continues to this day.

This is why conservatives who complain about illegal immigration in front of the cameras won't lift a finger in the halls of congress to pass legislation that would put employers of illegals into jail. (They may support "tough fines," just so long as they're high enough to sound like a lot of money to the average working stiff but low enough to be a "cost of business" for a corporation that gets caught.)

If Congress were to pass a law that said, quite simply, that the CEO of any business that was caught employing illegal immigrants went to jail for a year - no exceptions - then within a month there would be ten million (more or less) people lined up at the Mexican border trying to get out of the United States. The US unemployment rate would drop close to zero, and wages would begin to rise. The American middle class would begin to return to viability, as would the union movement in this nation.

Legal immigration is a good and healthy thing for a nation, because it is done at a rate and in a way that allows a country to collectively decide what sort of labor/jobs ratios it wants to maintain. Limitless illegal immigration, however, leads to the modern-day equivalent of slavery, benefiting only the conservative corporate elites.

Thus, progressives need to begin a new dialogue about immigration in the United States. (Similar discussions are already underway in many of the countries of Western Europe.) Issues include:

* To what extent should the United States bleed its middle class because Mexico is a corrupt oligarchy run by a corrupt former Coca-Cola executive?
* How do we work out fair and reasonable options for illegal families living and working here who have birthed "anchor children" in the US, now citizens of this nation?
* How can we ensure "security" along our southern border in an "age of terrorism"? (A good start may be to stop promulgating policies that cause the world to hate us, but that's another article.)
* How do we recalibrate our business and tax laws so businesses - particularly small and middle-sized businesses - can adjust away from depending on a terrified "working-poor-competing-with-even-more-terrified-illegal-labor" workforce and move toward being able to pay a more robust, domestic, unionized workforce?
* How can progressives join with the few remaining populist Republicans (like Lou Dobbs and Patrick Buchanan) to forge an alliance to make this an all-American effort and not have it further split the nation?
* And how can we all collectively work to prevent Bush and Specter from re-instituting the brutal Bracero "guest worker" program of the last century?

As the anguished mining families in West Virginia show, Bush was wrong when he said there were jobs Americans "won't do." But in the face of massive illegal immigration and the union-busting and wage deflation it spawns, there are increasingly jobs that Americans "can't do" and still maintain a viable lifestyle.

While some geographically-specific industries (like coal mining) don't appear overwhelmed by illegal immigrant labor, its impact on the nation as a whole has made it easier for union-busting to take place from the construction industry in New Mexico to the coal mines of West Virginia. Directly or indirectly, illegal immigration affects all working Americans.

Condemning the frightened working-class white guys organizing citizens' militias along our southern border, or vilifying those who listen to Limbaugh and are convinced that "liberals" are in some sort of collective plot to undermine America may feel good, but it doesn't address the real problem. Progressives will be most effective when we reach across the divides created by Bush, Specter, et al, and point out how this is really all about corporate conservative efforts to replace the American middle class with a workforce of "working poor" Americans and powerless illegal immigrants (or powerless "amnestied" workers) - all so CEOs can fatten their paychecks and further reward the "conservative" investor class.

Only then will Mexico and other countries to our south have an incentive to get their own houses in order, and will our middle class begin to recover decent bargaining power and the living wages that accompany it.

Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show carried on the Air America Radio network and Sirius. His most recent books include "What Would Jefferson Do?" and "Ultimate Sacrifice" (co-authored with Lamar Waldron). His next book, due out this autumn, is "Screwed: The Undeclared War on the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It."