Sunday, March 26, 2006

We Ought to Call Things by Their Proper Names

Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breath

the wretched refuse of your teeming

Send these, the tempest-tossed to

I lift my lamp beside the golden

-Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus"

This week the U.S. Senate is set to begin consideration of S.2454: Securing America's Borders Act, sponsored by Sen. William Frist. This, of course, is the Senate version of H.R. 4437. I know all this because about a half million people were concerned enough about it to take to the streets this weekend in Los Angeles.
One could be forgiven for thinking that the "Securing America's Borders Act" had something to do with security, but it doesn't. I'm pretty sure there hasn't been a cross-border raid from Mexico in about ninety years, and this is entirely about the US-Mexican border. This is all about keeping Latinos out.
I'm thinking that it has to be hard to be a Republican legislator in 2006. Your financial interests are with the corporate donors who are sending jobs offshore as fast as they run out of ways to cut American wages and benefits. Your red-state voter base seems to be made up of otherwise God-fearing people whose wages and benefits are being cut. Your best chance at reelection might appear to be to blame immigrant labor for the low wages and benefits... maybe higher taxes, too. Of course, it's a lie and it's racist, but it could work.
Do you know why the "Securing America's Borders Act" doesn't call for building a wall along the US border with Canada? Can you even imagine such a thing?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

This morning as I was leaving for work I saw this story on Good Morning America, and it's been on my mind. I recognize that participation in a message board as well as attendance at one of Mr. Bush's performances is not a statistically sound sample of the population, but still...
My issue is this: that if the airwaves were filled with stories about the good efforts of American servicemen and women to rebuild the lives of Iraqis it would not exonerate our invasion of Iraq and the destabilization of the region. This war did not have to happen, and should not have happened. That's the story.
When that amphibious ready group was turned around to help pick up the pieces after the tsunami I said that I thought the guys, if asked, would have volunteered to turn around. 35-40 years ago we reached out to the Vietnamese because the government had delusions of winning "the hearts and minds" of the people. Okay, it was a bullshit program, but some of the connections were very real. For the most part, the military is made up of really great people who want to do the right thing. Ask us to give up a day of our liberty to paint a school and we're all over it, and we don't much care whose school it is.
I'm kind of mellowing toward Mr. Bush personally... he's starting to look terrible, and I worry that all of that lying is starting to rot him... but I still don't want him or his administration to be given any credit for the tireless efforts of men and women he sent to Iraq to rebuild infrastructure that he had us blow up. That's right up there with OJ expecting recognition as a single father.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

There was a moment... but it passed

I allowed myself a moment of optimism at the end of last month. It passed, of course, as moments do; but for that moment I could conceive of politicians acting according to their conscience and in the best interests of their constituents... their voter constituents.
It came to me in that moment that Congress might step up and reassert the primacy of the people over a corrupt administration with no political future and bills to pay to their multi-national corporate backers. At 58, I can still dream.
Instead I saw both California Senators... Democrats, by the way... vote to permanently reauthorize the "Patriot" Act.
Instead I saw the entire Congress distancing itself as far as possible from actually censuring the President for authorizing the NSA's domestic spying program.
How high up the ladder in British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, or Halliburton does a person have to be to catch a break from these people?
And the public? Have you ever watched a bad horror movie and wondered why the guy just stood there and let the vampires bleed him dry? That'd be us.
We absorb the information that the President has decided to ignore the formality of a retroactive warrant to wiretap in clear violation of a law he pressed for, and eventually we convince ourselves that it's really okay because the guy... who has lied to us how many times before... says "trust me, I'm only doing it to suspected terrorists."
Okay, people, once again, one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. A lawbreaker telling you that he thought the other guy was a lawbreaker too does not make either of them any more or less of a lawbreaker.
If you haven't already done so, pop over to PureLand and read his post on macroeconomics.