Comprehensive Immigration Reform
“A liberal is someone who over-waters their house plants.”
Ouch! That hurt. Because he was right. I knew exactly what he meant. Why would a liberal over-water a house plant? Because they were mean? No. Quite the opposite. They were just trying to help. Because liberals are nice people – sometimes too nice. Liberals have over-developed empathy glands. When a liberal tells you he or she “feels your pain,” they mean it -- even if at that particular moment you're not feeling it.
Now, before you jump all over me, I'm a liberal. (Well, a social liberal anyway, though I tend to be more conservative when it comes to things like balancing the federal checkbook.) But on social issues I'm right there – choice for women, equality for everyone and more than a little suspicious about what the domestic Axis of Evil -- corporate/political/media nexus – are up to.
But, just as conservatives always go too far with their proclivities, so too do liberals. And for both, that is always their downfall. We are coming to the end – whew! -- of a conservative cycle and just beginning the next liberal cycle. Be assured, it too will inevitably end in excess. But maybe we can avoid some obvious mistakes early on.
Which is why I am risking the ire of the liberal/progressive community to speak frankly about immigration reform. I know the war in Iraq is currently consuming almost all the available attention – and rightfully so. But there are other festering wounds on America's body-politic that require immediate attention, and one of the biggest is immigration.
But before I put the war aside for a moment, we should all remind ourselves that it took the Democrats were also on the wrong side of that issue – and for way too long. And, though they seem to have now gotten it right, it's too late. The damage is done, and it's irreversible. Simply put, Democrats were snookered, bamboozled and herded like sheep to the slaughter by conservatives on the war.
And now they are now being led to the slaughter again, by the same bunch, on immigration reform.
Yes the Neocons are at it again. On the war they played on Democrat's fear of being seen as sissies. This time Neocons are playing on liberal empathy for the very real plight of illegal immigrants from Mexico. But as laudable as that empathy is, it's a trap and Democrats have taken the bait – again.
By falling in step with the Bush administration's so-called “comprehensive immigration reform,” Democrats are driving a dagger into the hearts of working class Americans, particularly those struggling to survive at the bottom of the income scale. In other words, they are about to screw the very people they claim should vote Democrat because only Democrats will help them.
Four years ago the Neocons sold the Iraq war with a lie... that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Now they are selling their version of “comprehensive immigration reform,” with another lie ... that immigrants, legal or otherwise, are simply taking jobs Americans won't do.
Well then how do you explain this story:
Immigration Raid Aids Blacks
After a wave of raids by federal immigration agents in Stillmore, Ga. on Labor Day weekend, a local chicken-processing company called Crider Inc. lost 75 percent of its mostly Hispanic 900-member work force. The crackdown threatened to cripple the economic anchor of this fading rural town.
But for local African-Americans, the dramatic appearance of federal agents presented an unexpected opportunity. Crider suddenly raised pay at the plant. An advertisement in the weekly Forest-Blade newspaper blared "Increased Wages" at Crider, starting at $7 to $9 an hour - more than a dollar above what the company had paid many immigrant workers. The company began offering free transportation from nearby towns and free rooms in a company-owned dormitory near to the plant. For the first time in years, local officials say, Crider aggressively sought workers from the area's state-funded employment office - a key avenue for low-skilled workers to find jobs. Of 400 candidates sent to Crider - most of them black - the plant hired about 200. (Full Story)
So, what happened there? This local Stillmore chicken processing plant had been perking right along for years paying illegals immigrants wages so low it made more sense for American workers right there in town to remain unemployed. But once those those illegals were gone, forcing the company to offer a reasonable wage, local (American) workers stampeded to get a job there. The job hadn't changed. It was the same, dirty, smelly, messy chicken gut-flinging work as before – the kind of work the company claimed “Americans won't do.”
All that changed at the Crider plant were the wages on offer.
And that's what it's all about boys and girls. The entire GOP “comprehensive immigration reform” scam is about wages – specifically keeping US wages low and company profit margins high.
Nevertheless there they are, our Democrats, parroting GOP demands for “comprehensive immigration reform.” Which, if passed would undercut American workers and gut what little is left of union power to negotiate wage and benefits with companies. (“What ya gonna do? You gonna strike? Go ahead, make our day.”)
Oh sharper than serpent's tooth are politicians capable of so casually ditching their tried and true friends of yore. Scroll back up and read that WSJ excerpt again.
Unemployed local African/Americans, mostly.
And where had all those worker been?
Cooling their heels at the Stillmore unemployment office waiting for a job that paid something approximating a livable wage.
And what happened when such jobs were offered?
They stormed the Crider plant to claim one of those jobs the company had claimed “Americans won't do.”
Now, isn't that precisely what Democrats say their party has been fighting for all these decades since the civil rights movement? I thought so. But here we have those same Democrats joining Republicans pushing for this thing they keep calling “comprehensive immigration reform.” Which, if enacted as currently envisioned, would not only put those 200 newly employed Stillmore, Georgia workers back on the unemployment line, but guaranteed that millions more like them remain unemployed.
I do have to amend an early statement. Attributing the Democrat's support for Bush's immigration policies to just empathy is giving them a bit too much credit. While empathy may be part of their motivation, realpolitik plays a big role as well. Democrat's figure Hispanics, as “people of color,” are their's by right. Never mind that the legislation backed by President Bush would screw millions of American citizens of color. The important thing for Democratic Party strategists is to say and do whatever it takes to make sure Hispanics don't vote Republican.
The trouble is that once again Republicans are playing chess and Democrats are playing checkers. While Democrats are simply trying to make their party attractive to Latino voters, Republicans are going for bigger game. Sure the GOP would like to attract Latino voters to their camp, and have had some luck doing so, especially in places like Florida and Texas. But they have a second, bigger and more significant goal: keeping American working class wages low for companies. And the best way to do that is to guarantee the surplus of cheap Mexican labor continues unabated.
And that's where American GOP policy dovetails nicely the needs of Mexicans. No, not the poor Mexicans risking their lives sneaking across the border. The GOP's real friends in Mexico are the handful of oligarch families and monopoly enterprises that have succeeded in rounding up the lion's share of Mexico's wealth for themselves. The porous US/Mexican border serves as a safety valve for those Mexican oligarchs, providing Mexico's poor a alternative to rebellion. Those oligarchs understand all to well that, the day that border is sealed is the first day of the revolution that will end their sweet deal.
All the above is why I have come to believe that liberal/progressives need to get their politically correct heads out of their butts on immigration reform – and fast. Fool them once, shame on the Neocons. Fool them again, shame on the Democrats. What a bunch of suckers! First Democrats let themselves be snookered into voting for the Iraq war and now they are on the verge of being snookered by the same Neocon con-men into voting for “comprehensive immigration reform.” Dems were afraid voting against war would make them look like a bunch of sissies. Now they are afraid that not backing the GOP's “comprehensive immigration reform,” would make them look like racists.
(Sometimes I'm forced to admire how Republicans maneuver Democrats into these kind of rhetorical traps. Think about it. Here are a bunch of lily-white Republicans seemingly embracing the La Raza position on immigration. What are the Democrats to do? If they oppose “comprehensive immigration reform,” they look like a bunch of flag waving, ethnocentric red necks. While Republicans, by backing their version of immigration reform look like --- well, like Democrats. Come on. Admit it. You have to give Neocon strategists a grudging wink for pulling that off.)
While those pushing the current version of “comprehensive immigration reform,” would have us believe that this is a terribly complicated matter, it really isn't. Maybe that's all Democrats need, a simple alternative. Here it is:
Could Congress require the INS/ICE to hire enough workplace auditors to assure that any company with more than ten employees is audited at least once each year?
Could Congress pass legislation authorizing guest-workers that requires companies pay the same wages to guest workers as they would have to pay American workers – you know – the ones they say “don't want those jobs.”
Could Congress craft a program for farmers that creates an orderly agricultural guest-worker program?
Could Congress put real teeth in laws for employers caught repeatedly hiring illegal workers?
Could illegals already living in the US eventually be “normalized?”
Yes – though a teeth-grinding grudging yes. But only after all the above is in place and operating smoothly. And once the fate of all future illegals is immediate deportation. Then, and only then, should those living in the US for at least five years be issued Green Cards. After that they can get in line behind those who followed the rules in the first place.
See. It's really not complicated. And we don't need no stinkin' fence either. All we need is some common sense thinking and common sense rules supported by common sense enforcement – primarily workplace enforcement.
But once again we're confronted by an issue with flabbergastingly enormous implications -- and a completely flummoxed liberal/progressive Democratic Party rushing towards the houseplants with pails of water.
Have a nice weekend, amigos y amigas.
January 16, 2007
New Lies Forward
Whew! Just typing the above sentence exhausted me. I'm so tired from three-plus years of struggling with this administration's full frontal assault on our collective intelligence. Tired of trying to untangle their torqued logic, fractured facts and their Orwellian-ization of our language, our traditions, our laws, our Constitution.
But I must – we all must. Because that beast, now boxed into a canyon of it's own making, is more dangerous today than ever before. Though evermore transparent, their lies have become even bolder. And, even with years of disproved and discarded lies in their wake, far too many Americans – and even the media, seem prepared to once again give them the benefit of the doubt – when doubt itself should by now be the order of the day.
So climb into your haz-mat suits and join me one more time as we descend into the Bush administration's cesspool of excuses, misinformation, disinformation and downright lies.
LIE #1: “When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation,"Bush said in a recent interview. "We thought that these elections would bring Iraqis together - and that as we trained Iraqi security forces, we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops. But in 2006, the opposite happened. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam - the Golden Mosque of Samarra - in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate,” The violence in Iraq - particularly in Baghdad - overwhelmed the political gains Iraqis had made. Al-Qaida terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's election posed for their cause. And they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. ”
LIE #2: When asked during his 60-Minute's interview last Sunday if he felt he owed the Iraqi people an apology for botching the management of the war, Bush responded, ``Not at all. ``We liberated that country from a tyrant,'' Bush said. ``I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude.''
Lie No. 3: Bush also claimed that, “if we do not succeed in Iraq, we will leave behind a Middle East which will endanger America.''
What makes this lie so dangerous is that, in the hands of this administration, it's self-perpetuating. The more hostility Bush's bow-legged swagger creates towards America within the Middle East, the more Bush claims the need to fight it. This is what's called “turning a lemon into lemonade,”, “succeeding through failure.” By failing to secure America, this administration can continue to argue that America is in danger.
Lie No 4: In response to threats by Democrats to take a more active role in Iraq-war decision making, bush replied: ``You cannot run a war by committee,'' the vice president said of congressional input.
Lie No. 5 Bush said: “Members of Congress have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully. But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success.”
Lie No 6: On the threat that Congress might cut off funding for his troop “surge,: Bush replied: ``I fully understand they could try to stop me,'' Bush said of the Democrat-run Congress. ``But I've made my decision, and we're going forward.''
Lie No. 7: Bush said that, besides surging more troops into Baghdad, he would also send more Marines to Anbar province to fight al Qaeda, which has made the province a home base for it's operations in Iraq. “Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and protecting the local population.”
Question: How many members of al Qaeda were in Iraq before you invaded four years ago?
Answer: One (1) – al Zaqarwi, and he was in hiding, not from the US, but from Saddam's secret police.
Question: How many al Qaeda fighters are now in Iraq?
Answer: Estimates run between 5000 and 10,000.
So, the next time you hear George use al Qaeda's presence in Anbar province as an excuse for more US troops, remind him that that fact is a self-inflicted wound. And now he's turning that mistake on its head to justify more of the same. Al Qaeda is there because George was kind enough to fly US targets in for them to practice on -- and now he's sending more.
Lie No. 8: Bush claimed on 60-minutes that this time, “This time America will hold the Iraqi government accountable to benchmarks...”
Oh man..where's a bookie taking odds on that actually happening. I need to get some dough down on that one.
Lie No. 9: Bush claims the Iraqi “leaders,” really do “get it” this time. “Their leaders understand this, and they are stepping forward to do it. But they need our help..” Bush claimed.
That's all the “leaders” of Iraq understand, George. Oh and they also understand that you're a sucker for a good line. So when they say they “need our help,” what they really mean is “we need you to hold-em while we hit-em.” What they really mean is, “don't pull out your troops until our tribe is in a strong enough position to 'deal with' the other two tribes." Sucker.
Lie No. 10: Failure in Iraq, would empower Iran, which poses a significant threat to world peace," Bush said in an interview aired on CBS's "60 Minutes.”
So, the next time you want to lecture someone on the dangers of “empowering Iran,” go stand in front of a mirror and give that lecture. Because you're clearly the one that needs to hear it.
Oh, and then there's that other boast you made -- warning Tehran that if any Iranians are caught in Iraq "we will deal with them." Ah yes, another “bring-em on,” taunt. The last time you tried that, they did...and still are bringing-em on. Sir, do you have a learning disability?
Lie No. 11: Dick Cheney chimed in on Fox News Sunday: "The threat that Iran represents is growing," Cheney said, in words reminiscent of how he once built a case against Saddam Hussein. "It's multidimensional, and it is, in fact, of concern to everybody in the region." Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, went further when he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the United States was resisting an Iranian effort "to basically establish hegemony" throughout the region.
So what does a nuclear-armed Iran really mean? When Iran gets nukes, all it gets is its own place in the circular firing squad made up of the other nuclear-armed nations, where there's only a single rule -- “one false move and everyone gets it.” It's a sobering reality. There's nothing quite like mutually assured destruction to make a fella think twice, and trice, and more.... before saying “Hey, you! Yeah, I'm talkin' to you. You wanna piece of this?”
Lie No. 12: In an interview before she left on her latest Mideast trip, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described what she called an "evolving" administration strategy to confront "destabilizing behavior" by Iran across the region.
Lie No. 13: Bush told 60-Minutes that he got no particular satisfaction from seeing Saddam hang. ``I'm not a revengeful person,'' he said.
Lie No. 14: Bush also claimed on "60-Minutes,"``I really am not the kind of guy that sits here and says, 'Oh gosh, I'm worried about my legacy.''
Ah, but this administration doesn't always lie. Occasionally they speak truth – even if inadvertently.
Truth No. 1: Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday on Fox News how the Iranians "sit astride the Straits of Hormuz" and its oil-shipping channels, how they support Hamas and Hezbollah.
Furthermore, if, six years ago, this administration had not actively undermined alternative energy research, had not nixed higher millage standards for cars and trucks, and had not shot down the greenhouse gas limits linked to burning oil products... we'd be in a stronger position today to tell the folks of the Middle East – including Hamas and Hezbollah, to go pound sand.
Truth No. 2: The president told 60-Minutes that he watch only part of the Internet-aired video of the execution of Saddam Hussein, which showed some Iraqis taunting Saddam as he stood with a noose around his neck on the gallows. But that he could not watch the final moment, of Saddam plummeting through the trapdoor to his death.
Truth No. 3: In his weekly radio address Saturday, President Bush stated that, “Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people.”
One Flew Over
The time has come to ask the question:
That thought left me wondering if maybe I was the one that was insane. I mean the implications of that, if true, were terrifying. After all, it's one thing to have guy in the Oval Office who's a crook -- we've been there, done that, and survived. But it's quite another matter to have a certifiable lunatic in that position at a time of war. (Just ask the Germans.)
To find out if there could possibly be a shred of proof for my suspicions I turned off the TV and went online and spent the day searching through the latest psychology papers and texts.
Terms like "crazy" and "insane" are not only loaded, but imprecise. The first thing I needed to do was to narrow it down to a particular, clinically defined, pathology. It turned out that was not an easy matter, because Bush seems to have claims on more than one piece of crazyland real estate. The best I could do was narrow it down to a few leading candidates.
I'll leave you to decide if you think the mental disorders described below define the George W. Bush you've come to know over the past six years. (Words in RED are the characteristics I think apply.)
Disorder: Narcissistic Personality:
A form of pathological narcissistic personality disorder characterized by extreme focus on oneself, and is a maladaptive, rigid, and persistent condition that may cause significant distress and functional impairment. A person suffering from NPD displays:
- a grandiose sense of self-importance
- is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance
- believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by other special people
- requires excessive admiration
- strong sense of entitlement
- takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- lacks empathy
- is often envious or believes others are envious of him or her
- an arrogant affect.
A delusion is commonly defined as a fixed false belief and is used in everyday language to describe a belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception. In psychiatry, the definition is necessarily more precise and implies that the belief is pathological (the result of an illness or illness process.) Delusions typically occur in the context of neurological or mental illness. A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture.
Diagnosis criteria include:
- certainty (held with absolute conviction)
- incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary)
- impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue)
Disorder: Paranoid Personality:
A psychiatric diagnosis that denotes a personality disorder with paranoid features. It is characterized by an exaggerated sensitivity to rejection, resentfulness, distrust, as well as the inclination to distort experienced events. Neutral and friendly actions of others are often misinterpreted as being hostile or contemptuous. Unfounded suspicions regarding the sexual loyalty of partners and loyalty in general as well as the belief that one’s rights are not being recognized is stubbornly and argumentatively insisted upon. Such individuals can possess an excessive self-assurance and a tendency toward an exaggerated self-reference. The use of the term paranoia in this context implies the presence of ongoing, unbased suspiciousness and distrust of people.... A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
- suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
- is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates
- is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her
- persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights
- perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack
Disorder: Antisocial Personality:
Is a psychiatric diagnosis recognizable by the disordered individual's impulsive behavior, disregard for social norms, and indifference to the rights and feelings of others. Central to understanding individuals diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, is that they appear to experience a limited range of human emotions. This can explain their lack of empathy for the suffering of others, since they cannot experience the emotion associated with either empathy or suffering. Risk-seeking behavior and substance abuse may be attempts to escape feeling empty or emotionally void. The rage exhibited by psychopaths and the anxiety associated with certain types of antisocial personality disorder may represent the limit of emotion experienced, or there may be physiological responses without analogy to emotion experienced by others.
So mix and match or pick one. But any and all the above make more sense to me, and explain Bush's decision to escalate and expand the war in Iraq better than anything I've read or heard to date. There is a real possibility, I believe, that we have a clinically insane man sitting in the Oval Office. And, that there are people around him that know it and are using it to further the neocon agenda in the Middle East.
If any of this is true we are in for more trouble -- a lot more trouble. Because, all the clinical blather aside, crazy is, as crazy does.