I find myself supporting the 'Security Republicans' on this issue, which is to say its not too often that the Right finds common ground with me. I can come up with a variety of good reasons why we should 'get tough' with illegal aliens, and of course, I operate from a place of my own self interest, which is at the heart of capitalism.
First, I don't agree with George Bush that illegal aliens perform work that 'native' Americans (read: "white") people not do. Show me the data, since despite Fox News' outrageous line that George Bush has created 4 million jobs, m, but the 'liberal' media just won't tell you that because they simply hate George Bush (Hannity and Combs). Where are these jobs and would these jobs allow a single person enough money to support a decent middle class lifestyle, which includes home ownership? Its not that 'white' Americans WON'T do these jobs, they can't afford to have them. Flipping burgers at McDonalds or manning a fryolater at Burger King is great for high school and college students, who have other income (mainly Mom and Dad) and their primary use of the paychecks is for 'date' money, but you can't support a family on one.
Walmart, the killer of small business, is the darling of the pro-business Republicans, since they aregue that Walmart provides jobs for 'scores' of people who woulld otherwise be unemployed, which is fine, but Walmart is not known for its great wages or benefits, in fact, it has been accused of hiring illegal aliens in place of American citizens as cleaners in its stores in the Midwest. Again, can anyone show me a primary wage earner who is supporting a 300K mortgage, a car payment and health care on a Walmart paycheck?
In order for Bush's statement that 'illegal aliens' perform work that Americans (whites) don't do' to be true, all white America would be at full employment and yet it is not. I am one who has been unemployed for 4 years now, despite having a college degree, years of experience in IT and yet, I *STILL* can't find anything resembling a job. And there are many like me, since in my hometown alone there is over 11% unemployment. Most of the good paying jobs in IT have migrated to India and China over the past 6 to 10 years, and most people I know play by the rules, that is, only the 'recommended' number of people live in a building, not 'flophouses' where 20 to 30 live, several to a room, whcih brings down property values. There were many of these 'sanctuaries' in Las Vegas where I spent 15 years of my life. If 'whites' can find trhese jobs at all, many of us are working two and three jobs, just to make ends meet. That is, if you can find them. I have applied for various jobs that range from nurseries to retail outlets to supermarkets and because it is a boss' market, they seem to want 'experienced help only' and they are more often than not, 'willing to train'. And then there are all the laid off workers from textile mills here to auto plants in Michigan. How is a guy who has spent 30 years of his life to GM and is now 55 supposed to earn a living now that he's been laid off and working in an auto plant is the only economic life he's ever known? And where are the auto jobs gone? China and Japan.
I used the term 'white' Americans for a reason. For many, that is 'understood' when talking about immigration in the 21st century - the whites vs the non-whites, so don't go calling me a racist. And since, the 'whites' are not at full employment, it goes without saying that 'native' African-Americans and 'native' Hispanics have higher unemployment rates. So, therefore, if 'whites' don't want these jobs, as Bush claims, then what about the American 'blacks' and 'browns'? Can businesses not find 'qualified' workers from among them? I hope the pro-business Republicans are alluding to 'laziness' based on skin color. Whites are not considered lazy, its just that these jobs are considered 'beneath' them.
But the truth of the matter is - illegal aliens do bring down wages for everyone. Time magazine had a cover story on the topic of illegal immigration last January and they pointed out how immigrants brought down the cost of construction labor and they were all from the same town in Southern Mexico. It works like this - a native American (white, I assume) gets paid $20/hr for construction work in the Hamptons, the first Mexican to arrive offers to do the same work for $15/hr. He becomes a US citizen later.
When he goes back to Mexico for a vacation, he tells all his friends about the 'incredible' money he is making up North, and suddenly all his friends come up looking for the same kind of deal he got, but because there are so many of them, they begin to compete amongst themselves and are willing to do the work for $10/hr. He begins to complain that the new arrivals are undercutting his good thing. Then the illegals come in and 'looking for a better life' are willing to do the work for $5/hr. The illegal ones are preferred by some employers because these wages are below those of US law and these people can then be cheated out of their wages by their employers and what are they going to do? They can't go to the police because they are here illegally and they don't want to be deported (only to try again later, anyway) and in fact, unscrupulous employers often pull the 'INS card' on recalcitrant employees.
Meanwhile, the original guy loses his job and he'll never see $20/hr again, because there are so many who will do it for less. But his mortgage payment doesn't decline, however.
I don't begrudge anyone who wants a 'better life', but why is it that there have been decades of foreigners who have come to this country who followed the standard procedures to come here and yet there are too many new arrivals think they are 'entitled' to a better job, a better life and they can simply disregard our laws and anyone who challenges them is a racist?
What is it about the American way of life that attracts so many foreigners in the first place. If the Chinese government can create such a job engine, why can't the Mexicans? Why is it that the President of Mexico, Vincente Fox, a former VP at Coca Cola can't create jobs for his own citizens? Especially with Mexico being a new exporter of that very expensive commodity, oil?
It also amazes me that all these people who are against making illegal aliens felons can take to the streets of LA, Detroit and Boston, but these same people would never consider taking to the streets of Mexico City, Guadalajara or VeraCruz to fight for better standards of living. Bush and Fox were supposed to be soul mates, but 9/11 changed all that. Instead, the Mexican government encourages people to go north and even publishes a booklet guiding illegals to the least defensible border crossings.
Of course, pro-business Republicans and some corporations like Walmart, encourage the illegal immigration for its cheap labor. And Bush is from Texas, a state that seceeded during the Civil War because it liked the free labor of slavery. So this isn't slavery, but it is the next best thing.
Then there is the other elephant in the room - the spectre of 9/11. While many of the people crossing the border from Mexico (and lets not forget that huge undefended border with Canada) are law abiding citizens, some are hard core criminals who ply their trade in drugs, human smuggling and a few are escaping other countries penal systems. While most are Mexican, you probably will find a few terrorists in the bunch, for among some of the trash that is left behind in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico have included Muslim prayer mats as well as hyperdermic needles, guns, spent bullets, human excrement, plastic bottles and maybe a body or two. Pity the poor property owners who have there fields trampled on, their fences destroyed, their cattle dispersed and their homes broken into.
More and more of the illegals are ending up in US cities far from our Southern flank. Many big cities have growing lines of 'day laborers' accosting business owners and customers for work. Many have guns which increase crime in some areas. This was a big compaint in some neighborhoods when I lived in Las Vegas. Some people who afraid to let their children out to play because of the line of idle men outside And sometimes the criminal activity works both ways. Some of them commit murders here in the US (not all are people who merely looking for a better life, but are members of organized crime and street gangs) and rush back to Mexico and even if they get caught by Mexican officials, extridition back to the US is often next to impossible to pull off, since the Mexican government is often reluctant to see its citizens prosecuted in a foreign court, and of course, the Bush Administration doesn't want Americans prosecuted in an Internation Court of Justice, that's why it wants 'exemptions' for Americans.
On the political side, I'm sure that the GOP was stunned over the recent marches against the House trying to turn illegal aliens into felons. I am sure it thought it had a slam dunk issue, since they were so successful in demonizing gays and before that, the 'Willie Hortons' so they thought they had another us vs them issue. Actually, I was surprised at the turnout, in many cases exceeded that of the anti war crowds, but this time, the Republicans can't use the 'aid and abetting the enemy argument'.
Ironically, the Democrats are pulling out the 'Jesus' card. "What would Jesus do? He'd help those who are least able to help themselves" and once again the Catholic Church finds it self 'aiding and abetting' those who break our laws by refusing to turn away illegal aliens for sanctuary when they can't argue political persecution.
The issue is far more complicated than it is often portrayed in the news. There is the issue of health care, foreign languages taught in our schools and who gets to stay and who gets to thrown back. The Cubans have always been the favored ones fro example because they are escaping Castro, but the Haitians who are black, are often sent back. But clearly something must be down to secure our borders, and for what its worth, the Mexican government needs to be pressured into improving the lot of its citizens so they feel a need to come here in the first place and in the second place we need to harshly punish companies that knowingly hire illegals in the first place.
Bush was in Cleveland the other day on the 3rd Anniversary of Operation Avenge Daddy and he claimed that HE never said that there was a link between Saddam and 911.
However, they showed a tape of Bush saying in his State of the Union speech of January 28, 2003 where he claimed that Saddam harbors terrorists and all but directed the attack.
So, the 'Niger and Yellowcake' argument turned out to be false. The 'WMD' argument turned out to be false. And now he says that he didn't believe there was a link between Saddam and 911.
And according to Don Rumsfeld, the Iraqis will welcome us with 'open arms'. Open arms full of IEDs thats what.
So, why are we in Iraq and why did 2300 die and about 30,000 wounded?
So this is Bush's plan for the Iraq War. Stay there until the end of his Presidency. He said yesterday that it will be up to 'future' Presidents to decide when and how the troops will come home. Not him, of course, because that would be an admission of a mistake, and THIS President doesn't make mistakes. And by 'staying the course' illustrates that he 'steadfast'. Steadfast, not stubborn and thickeheaded. This way he will go down in history as 'a War President' focused on 'keeping us safe'. To him Iraq and the War On Terror are one and the same. If keeping us safe was the goal, he could start by tightening our borders, but that would discourage the flow of cheap labor into the US.
Being steadfast on Iraq would also show his critics that he is not a wimp, an accusation that dogged his father to such an extent that he had to jump out of a plane at 75 as an indication how much that accusation bugged him. It would also allow him some redemption for attacking veterans like John Kerry and John Murtha who criticized his policy despite the fact they actually fought in a war zone. Being 'steadfast' also gets to show people that he is in it for the long haul, till the end of his Presidency, another charge levelled against his father for not 'going all the way' during Gulf War I. Another plus: If the next President is a Democrat and he/she begins to withdraw troops, he and his party will be accused of being 'soft' on terrorism, (like the 1960s, being 'soft' on Communism in Viet Nam) and accused of betraying the troops. Bush I tried this with Somalia. Put 'boots on the ground' there with no real purpose. Not nation building? Police action? Humanitarian mission? He didn't have a clue. Then a Blackhawk helicopter gets shot down, Hollywood makes a movie about it and now it's 'Hollywood's' fault for 'losing' Somalia. Clinton was stuck with the mess.
But none of these actions explains why we went in Iraq in the first place. All fabrications. Even some of his neocon supporters are backing off on their support, arguing that what is going on in Iraq right now, is not the best way to spread democracy or American values. But at least the neocons got their chance to put their ideology on display, since they were frustrated that Bill Clinton did not let them do.
Rather gets fired for not checking his sources. Who got fired for all this crap?
So the gameplan for the future is an old tried, true and tired one: Blame the media. They are already starting their gameplan for the battle to come. Some future President will start the withdrawal, and the GOP will accuse him/her of 'losing' Iraq. The US didn't learn Russia's lesson - stop trying to govern Central Asia. It didn't work for the Russians in Afghanistan and its not working in Iraq.
So yesterday, Bush was in West Virginia talking to a 'sympathetic and go easy on me' crowd of military families. Of course, not a discouraging word would be heard, because, after all, whose family wants to admit that their son or daughter died or was injured in a war where there was no sense of urgency, a war designed to placate the chicken hawks of the Republican Right. And incidently, some of the neocons are saying that Iraq is not a good example of putting the American Way on display.
And in a typical Bush 'media event' a woman was chosen from the audience to point out that her son sends home 'CD after CD' of good works in Iraq, but the 'mainstream media' just won't show them/ If all Bush wanted to do was 'help the children of Iraq' let him contribute to a charity, like everyone else. But this is a war and war isn't pretty. It is insulting to Bob Woodruff of ABC News, his cmaerman, Richard Engle of NBC News or the late David Bloom to hear windbags like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly claim that journalists only portray the war from their 'balconies'. Which news source does this woman and the neocons watch? And don't forget, when the war started 3 years ago, the Pentagon 'embedded' journalists among the troops, so as to get a pro-Administration slant.
Yup, its PBS's fault that there were no WMD in Saddam's Iraq. And it was CNBC's fault, that its parent, NBC didn't oust Saddam 15 years ago. And it was Dan Rather's fault for not finding a link between Niger, Saddam and yellowcake. Same old, same old.
The national debt is 9 Trillion dollars, $30,000 for every man, woman and child in the US. But in 2000, Dick Cheney said "We are not politicians, we are CEOs". Obviously these 'CEOs' are running the country like Andy Fastow ran ENRON.
I turned on Fox News last night and Hannity and Combs reported that Bush 'created' 4 million jobs, but that isn't being reported because of the 'Bush haters'. Where the hell are these jobs? India? China? Do these jobs pay enough to support a middle class lifestyle? I've been looking for a job for 4 years now. I guess I'll have to wait for a 'future President' to solve that problem just it'll take a bigger man (or woman) to solve the Iraqi mess.
In a speech on March 10, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor took aim at conservative critics who want to impose their extremists ideology on the rest of us via judicial fiat. In the speech she rapped the Republican leadership who have called for the mass firings of judges who disagree with their policies and their attempts at packing the Court with ideologues. This, in an of itself is noting new, as Franklin Roosevelt was attacked for 'Court packing' in 1936 and it is only 'natural' that when a Justice retires, the sitting President would of course appoint a 'fellow traveler', but O'Connor is warning us of the dangers of the US slipping into dictatorship. If you don't think it can happen here, go read Sinclair Lewis' '30s classic "It Can't Happen Here".
Although not mentioning any names, she pointedly was referring to former House Majority Leader, the ethically challenged Tom Delay in his call for the mass impeachment of justices who's rulings he disagreed with and the outcomes he was not happy with. The irony here is the GOP has always been condemning 'activist' judges who support gay marriage and abortion, but yet were quite blatant in their attempts to find sympathetic judges who supported them in the Terry Schiavo case.
I am glad someone wlse is warning us about what I've been trying to warn against - the slow strangulation of liberties 'by any means necessary' by the Radical Right. The sppech, which was not covered by the mainstream media, was picked up by NPR, would be less noteworthy if it weren't so true. She pointed out that in more than one case judges have been threatened with death by those who were unhappy with their rulings. One only need to look at the country of Colombia, where these ideas can lead. There, narco militants as well as government rightists have murdered dozens of mayors. judges, college professors to the point, where any educated person is afraid to speak out on any topic.
But that's not all. The attempts by the Right to pass a Constitutional Amendement against gay marriage, points out not just of their hatred for gays, but an Amendment to the Constitution would ensure that no state would be allowed to 'legislate' gay marriage either. One more nail in the coffin for state's rights. Just like their attempts to ban Oregon's Assisted Suicide Law and California and Nevada's Medical Marijuana Law.
Think back a year or two ago, about Tom Delay's and the Texas GOP's attempts at gerrymandering of Texas's electoral re-districting to ensure the election of more Republicans and to make it more difficult for the opposition (Democrats, Liberatians) to get a toehold. Another attempt at imposing one party rule, was DeLay's warning to contributors that they may face 'punishment' to companies contributing to Democrats as well as Republicans, a practice common to businesses who want to hedge their bets and make sure the palms of BOTH parties are well oiled.
All I can say is, thank you Justice O'Connor for the warning. You can read the article here.
Haven't written much, but not because I don't have anything to say, I have just lacked the motivation to put in down on cyber-paper.
So, lets catch up with what has been in the news lately...
Bush's poll numbers have been dropping lately and its not hard to see why - the guy is governing rudderless and some of his biggest and best laid plans have gone awry. He needs to stop listening to his yes men that have successfully kept separated from reality. First, its is the economy stupid. It was reported recently that the average income of the American family has dropped from 2001 -2005. No surprise there - they have been living on borrowed funds for years, and while some families may be sitting on a real estate bubble, Alan Greenspan and perhaps now Ben Beranke will do their utmost to tighten credit so hard, it is beginning to show up with mortgage rates to the extent that the air is leaking from the housing bubble. That's good news for buyers, if, (and I doubt it) they've been able to save enough from their diminishing paychecks to save (the US has been at a negative savings rate for a few years) to be able to afford the down payment on a home of their own. It's bad news for sellers, who, by now, are motgaged to the hilt, some of them taking out home equity loans to finance everything from their kid's college educations or for that new wide screen TV and other toys to put in the house. And what if the value of their investment does drop as the prices are now beginning to indicate? Panic in River City for some.
Where are the good jobs? Not here. There is a reason why Walmart is doing so well. More and more Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck and they are constantly looking out for a bargain, any bargain and that's one reason why dollar stores proliferate in my neighborhood. With the every rising price of gas, (okay, its gone down some, but anything below $2/gal is a thing of the past) is squeezing the middle class even more. But it is gratifying to know that the same study shows that income growth for millionaires, the chief beneficiaries of Bush's tax cuts, has gone up by double digits during the same time. I for one, am not optimisitic about my own economic future, in fact, its getting worse, since I've only worked for a few months during the last 3 years and cannot even collect unemployment due to a lack of not making enough in the first place. So, I am knocking out the final leg of my returment nest egg. The GOP wants you to take care of your own retiement, but you can't contribute to it unless you have a job that will help you build your portfolio. Bush says the the economy is strong, but only the wealthy are feeling it. Trickle down economics made the gaps between rich and poor widen during the Reagan years, why would Bush think anything would be different recycling a warmed over failed economic theory?
The Gulf Coast - Why are there so many people still in limbo here? Can anyone push this along? Where are the trailers promised by FEMA? Even the ones who are lucky enough to have one have no electricity. I can't imagine what these people are going through. I know what its like to lose a home in a 'normal' way and the consequences of not having an income, but having all that along with no place to go and no electricity and to be constantly reminded of the disaster by seeing piles of debris must take a devastating psychological toll on these people. Bush needs to intervene with a little more bravado, like he did on top of the mountain of rubble in at the site of the WTC on September 11. Where is the Gulf Coast Guiliani? Having a Mardi Gras is one way to take the edge off, but I don't think the tourists who visit have a cluw what went on there six months ago. And hurricane season is a mere 3 months away.
What's up with the Ports Deal? Even if it were true that the DPW is eminently qualified for this position, I have to ask why aren't Americans managing their own ports? Not to be a nativist, but are there no US firms who can do these tasks. But what is incredible is Bush's stance on the topic - he is truly the odd man out here. He's handed the Dems an issue where they can out 'national security' the Republicans and it gives Republican candidates an issue to show their independence from the politically weakened Bush, maybe that's his strategy - it allows GOP candidates to act like they are 'tougher' than Bush on terror. But let me ask you this - if this were September 12, 2001, would he be taking such a hard line? Imagine, he threatens a veto - a Republican President who has yet to use one.
Iraq - It is only a matter of time before this country devolves into Civil War now that the Shia and Shites are blowing up each other's holy shrines. Once the security forces supporting the American backed government fight among themselves, I would consider it official that the Civil War is on. Perhaps if we had sent in a half millionj troops in this Nation Building Project, we might have been able to keep a lid on things there. Besides, isn't Nation Building a utopian, liberal ideal? The way things are right now, the Civil War might break out in time for the 3rd anniversary of Bush's invasion on March 20th. And oh, by the way, where's Osama?
The direction that this country is headed is truly depressing and the polls are right - we are on the wrong track.
In an effort to improve my own spirits, in January, I planted some cacti seeds that sprouted a week later and are still quite tiny, but it made we joing the Cacti and Succulent Forum on Garden Web. It gave me the idea about selling cacti seeds and spreading these truly beautiful American plants during the next Pemi festival in August. I could load my entire inventory of seeds in a backpack. The crowd is generally a cross between a fundamentalist rally/hippie commune so maybe its doable. Along the way, I have found Cacti blogs and a few unexplored seed companies. If Scorched Pig Seeds, Succulents and Stuff is successful there, I could expand the offerings.
Visitors during February: Total hits so far: 960.
US States: AR, CO, DC, FL, GA, IN, IA, KS, MD, MN, NH (Welcome! - a first), NJ, NY, NV (from one of my favorite cities to visit - Virginia City), Ohio, OR, VA, WA (Redmond - hmm? Bill Gates?)
MA- Arlington, Chestnut Hill, Waltham, Lowell, Accord (where is Accord?) CA - a regular from Sunnyvale, San Diego, Granite Bay, Los Angeles, Armona
Foreign: India, Malaysia (2), France, Netherlands, UK, Germany