Governing through fear

For the second time since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the Bush administration issued an “Orange” alert – the second highest level for homeland security. The first time was on the anniversary of the terrorist attack. Nothing happened. Thank goodness.

Yet we can’t help but think these alerts are politically motivated and have nothing to do with safety. The administration issues numerous alerts with no indication of where they expect an attack, nor how. This creates a sense of fear in the populace and fosters the psychological and political conditions to convince the people of the lie that a war against Iraq is a war of defense against terrorism.

The constant “alerts” are also used to justify the administration’s attack on civil liberties. The alerts provide a cover for the registration of Arab and Muslims, arrests and detentions while many are being held incommunicado.

The alerts creates a racist justification for people to suspect Arabs, Muslims and immigrants.

Just as ominous was a fund-raising letter for the National Right to Work Committee signed by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), which questioned the patriotism of labor leaders because they fight to represent police, firefighters, longshore workers, machinists and other workers. IAM President Buffenberger said the GOP leader “equate[s] the exercise of the First Amendment with treason” and called DeLay to “resign from Congress.”

Bush allies have also gotten into the act. The government of Tony Blair is also guilty of the same thing. Last Nov. the British Home Secretary David Blunkett issued an alert saying that terrorists may use a “dirty bomb, or some kind of poison gas.” Minutes later the statement was withdrawn and replaced with a more general warning.

Is this the future of our country and world? Ruling by fear? Only labor and the people’s movement can turn this around by fighting the Bush administration’s attack on democratic rights and peace.

Support the filibuster

U.S. Senators have begun a filibuster to block confirmation of Miguel Estrada, a rightwing extremist nominated by George W. Bush to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In appearing as a witness before Senate Judiciary confirmation hearings, Estrada arrogantly refused to discuss his views on landmark Supreme Court rulings such as Roe v. Wade

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) told reporters, “Mr. Estrada has been intransigent and unwilling to provide even the most basic information that we must have if we are going to make our assessment of his qualifications.” Daschle also wrote to Bush assailing the White House for refusing to provide copies of legal memos Estrada wrote while serving in the Justice Department’s Office of Solicitor General.

Estrada is the first of an expected procession of “stealth” nominees to the Federal bench who will attempt to hide their extremist, anti-democratic views until they are safely installed in their lifetime positions. The Bush White House is already falsely accusing opponents of Estrada of being hostile to Hispanic nominees.

But Hispanic civil rights groups have come out strongly against him, comparing him to Clarence Thomas, whose appointment to the Supreme Court has setback the struggle for equality. Similarly, they argue, Estrada will give fig-leaf cover to racist, anti-immigrant, policies that hurt the struggle for Latino equality.

This filibuster calls for urgent, immediate support. The Republicans have a 51 to 49 majority in the Senate but they lack the 60 votes required to close off debate. This filibuster is the opening shot in a struggle against George W. Bush’s drive to pack the federal judiciary with extreme ultra-rightists.

The civil and constitutional rights of the people are in peril. As Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, “The issue is whether the advise and consent process in the selection of judges is going to be obliterated.”

Call your U.S. senators at (202)-224-3121. Tell them to support this filibuster. The American people refuse to be ruled by a Bush ‘Blitzkrieg’ of reaction and fear.