A Game Of Inches

The U.S. Senate came within one vote Monday of embroiling the entire nation in a pointless debate over the symbolism and sanctity of the American flag. By the count of 66 – 34, a constitutional amendment vesting Congress with the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States failed to gain the two thirds majority required for passage and submission to the states for ratification.

For a crowd who’s always going on about “strict construction” and the “intent of the founders,” Republicans sure seem dissatisfied with the Constitution as written.

The so-called “flag burning amendment” is yet more proof of the Republican party’s elevation of form over substance, coming on the heels of its failed promotion of a constitutional amendment to define “marriage” as a union possible only between a man and a woman.

The past five and a half years in Washington have seen the Congress opt continuously for legislation that fails to address the real desires of the American public or meet the country’s real needs for security and leadership.

Polls have consistently shown the public’s major concerns in recent years to be the war on terrorism, the economy, health care, energy prices, and immigration (not necessarily, or always, in that order). For a longer term perspective on Americans’ perceptions of their most important problems, look here.

The Bush administration and the Republican controlled House and Senate have given the country a war they conned many into supporting based on “intelligence” they knew to be suspect at best, and false in many respects. They committed the country’s armed forces to a war they said could be fought on the cheap, whose monthly tab is currently running over $9.5 Billion, and has risen steadily in each year since its inception. Yet, we are constantly turning the corner and our enemies are in their last throes.

The Bush administration and the Republican controlled House and Senate have engineered an economy that has expanded and brought greater prosperity to its wealthiest participants, while contracting and paying the vast majority of its participants less. The Congress recently refused to increase the Federal minimum wage above $5.15 per hour, the level at which it has remained since 1997. If the minimum wage from 1968 had been merely adjusted for inflation, it would stand today at $9.09.

The Bush administration and the Republican controlled House and Senate sold America sham Medicare reform lesgislation in 2003 that fails to provide adequate health care for millions of Americans, threatens the long-term fiscal health of the nation, and guarantees unconscionable enrichment of the already obscenely wealthy pharmeceutical industry for decades to come.

The Bush administration and the Republican controlled House and Senate have presided over a 200% rise in the price of unleaded gasoline, a 120% rise in the price of heating oil, and an over 300% rise in the price of crude oil since 2001. The President proposed, and the Congress awarded, in energy legislation passed last year, over $2 Billion in tax breaks and incentives to the nation’s major oil companies.

Immigration is the only major area of concern to Americans on which the Administration and Republican leaders in Congress have failed to unite in finding a method for ignoring the needs of the many in favor of the interests of a few.

But yes, let us busy ourselves with considerations of whether the flag needs protection under the constitution, that we may neglect to question the felonious violation of privacy rights already enshrined there. Let us argue the question of whether affairs of the heart may be legislated, that we may fail to notice when the President signs legislation he has no intention to be bound by.

And by all means, let us leave the conduct and reconciliations of our electoral affairs to the proverbial man behind the curtain, for we have well and truly entered the Land of Oz.

Now, where are those Lollipop Kids I’ve heard so much about?

Comments

  1. Tam O’Tellico - July 30, 2006 @ 10:20 am

    M: Since it was illegal, probably not well, just as he was ultimately brought to justice here on Earth.

    Justice? I guess your idea of justice is very different from mine. As far as I’m aware, Kenny “Free-Market-Fixer” Lay never did a day in a country club jail, let alone a real jail. I’m sure the average crack-head gets to spend several months in Aspen after his conviction on several felony counts. And speaking of conviction, our friend Lon the Lawyer will tell you even Kenny’s conviction is clouded because he is unable to defend himself on appeal.

    Furthermore, civil lawsuits to obtain his considerable remaining assets (ok, technically, he no longer has any) are now going to be subject to a long drawn-out, expensive legal battle while his duplicitous kin get to live on the fruits of that ill-gotten gain. If they had a conscience, if they were in fact the Christians they surely claim to be, they’d give the money back and beg forgiveness. Instead, like Ken, they will deny any knowledge of the Ponzi scheme – sure, Kenny Boy, just like any good Mafia don, never discussed business with his wife.

    When the suits are finally settled, much of the money will go to filthy-rich Houston lawyers. Especially if the family gets to keep their millions. Meanwhile, many of those who trusted Kenny and his Free-Marketeering felons will wonder how they’re going to survive in their old age. Michael could tell them how – just take stock tips from George Bush and his Wall Street Safety Net brethren.

    I dunno, Michael, this just doesn’t seem like justice to me. Well, we can all hope divine justice operates a bit differently, and that Kenny spends eternity having to watch the suffering of those he cheated out of their life savings in a vain attempt to satisfy his unbridled greed.

  2. Michael Herdegen - July 30, 2006 @ 10:12 pm

    If crackheads want to die, rather than get locked up, I’m behind that 100%.

    Further, Tam, you’re indicting the entire free-market system for the actions of one gang of thieves, but you’ve neglected to mention exactly how you intend to prevent con artists from shucking the gullible. As long as people make decisions about money, there will be those seeking to take advantage of others.

    Is it your belief that there are no con artists and smooth-talking thieves in communist countries ?

    I am certain, however, that laying waste to entire towns inhabited by his suspected kidnappers would neither relieve my grief, nor lead to his being set free.

    But laying waste to entire towns inhabited by gangs of kidnappers might dissuade them from kidnapping again.

    Again, it’s not enough to say “violence isn’t the answer”. You have to also provide an alternative. So far, you’ve advocated a boilerplate “diplomacy”, but diplomacy, like the rule of law, ultimately rests on the threat of violence. If laws and international treaties cannot be enforced, then they’re merely pretty words on paper.

    That’s the sticking point in the Israeli-Hizzbollah conflict, innit ?
    Who will ensure that Hizzbollah never again attacks Israel, should both sides agree to a peace accord ?

    So far, it’s been up to Israel to secure her own safety. If they have to destroy Lebanon to do so, I’m down with that. As you say, Hizzbollah brought it on themselves.

  3. Tam O’Tellico - July 31, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

    M: “If crackheads want to die, rather than get locked up, I‚Äôm behind that 100%.”

    Not exactly sure what that has to with Ken Lay getting to spend his last days in Aspen rather than in a jail like most other convicted criminals, but it is rather indicative of your disdain for the downtrodden.

    Now, I’ll admit to having an equal disdain for those like Lay who forget where they came from and those like Bush who believe they earned the blessings that accrue to them by accident of birth. I realize that makes me prejudiced against so-called “self-made” men, but hey – nobody’s perfect – including them.

    I’m not trying to indict the Free-Market system as whole, I’m saying that it ought to be obvious that a system that boasts about its valuelessness cannot be trusted or permitted to be the sole determining factor about what’s good for economics – let alone what’s good for society as a whole. I’m saying that in a modern society, some socialism is necessary to protect against the worst abuses of conglomerates like GE, Dow and Mobil/Exxon. I’m saying that Republicans and Democrats alike have forgotten that they are supposed to represent the needs of the people, not just the interests of business – especially big business. I’m saying it is not true that “what’s good for General Motors is good for America” – in fact, evidence strongly suggests it may not even be good for GM.

    I’m saying that corruption in big business and in Washington is the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime. In fact, it has reached such epidemic proportions that it is considered by far too many as “normal” and that government is beyond redeeming.

    I’m also saying that all this is made worse by Bible-thumping, flag-waving, gay-bashing illiterates who belittle anyone who tries to suggest that there are two sides to every issue, and that anyone who disagrees with their party line is a traitor and a heretic. I am screaming that the Christian Right must understand that there is no historical example of a theocracy that doesn’t result in a descent into Hell, and that Christ himself warned of that very danger.

    On the other hand, I am as intransigent as the Fundamentalists when it comes to govt-censored science, govt surveillance, govt authorized torture, govt by fiat (aka the Unitary President), and govt abdication of its obligations to citizens in regard to health-care, pensions, disaster relief, and the environment. For instance, please tell me why a paid stooge, who was up until recently an employee of Big Oil but now sits in the White House, should be allowed to censor NASA scientists who have devoted their professional lives to studying such issues as global warming?

    I know I sound like a shrill whiner, but I also sound exactly like the people who were the first to die when the Nazis took over in Germany. Think it can’t happen here? Think again. We are only one more 9-11 from a Facist dictatorship.

    I also remind you that it was a flaming liberal named Dwight Eisenhower who warned us about all this fifty years ago. Because we fail to see the triumph of the Military-Industrial Complex in the Cheney/Halliburton connection, I’m afraid we may be doomed to a repeat the facist experience.

    Good luck with your Free Marketeering if that day comes.

  4. Michael Herdegen - August 2, 2006 @ 5:53 am

    I’m saying that in a modern society, some socialism is necessary to protect against the worst abuses of conglomerates like GE, Dow and Mobil/Exxon.

    I agree.

    However, that does nothing to explain how more socialism could have protected investors and employees from being conned by Enron’s executives. France and Italy are much more socialist than is America, and yet they’ve had similar scandals, such as with Elf and Parmalat.

    Please elaborate on what, exactly, you think could and should have been done to nip Enron in the bud. Enron was about human nature, not about an economic system.

    I’m saying that Republicans and Democrats alike have forgotten that they are supposed to represent the needs of the people, not just the interests of business Рespecially big business.

    If that were true then the House of Representatives wouldn’t have passed an immigration bill that focuses exclusively on keeping cheap labor out of America.

  5. lonbud - August 2, 2006 @ 8:31 pm

    This country doesn’t need more socialism. It needs administrators and public servants willing to enforce the laws already promulgated throughout the glorious history of mankind’s most shining example of self-governance.

    Enron may or may not have been a preventable debacle, but surely BushCo’s evisceration of the government’s investigative and enforcement functions (at least with respect to corporate America — there’s been no abatement in the trend to build more prisons and incarcerate more criminals under Republican hegemony), together with out-and-out appropriation of the same duplicitous, fantastical accounting and organizational chicanery that ultimately felled Enron (the Free Market is the best! ), surely the present administration has the most overtly pro-business and anti-popular policies of any since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

    The House of Representatives is far less interested in the needs of the people, or in keeping cheap labor out of America, than it is in punishing those who actually provide, at the most visceral level, the opportunity for which the whole world yearns to come here.

  6. Tam O’Tellico - August 3, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

    Well, as Free-Marketer, you probably aren’t going to like one of my suggestions as to how to mitigate against the forces of greed. If we presume that capital punishment has a deterrent value, I’m all for executing a few white collar criminals to deter their most rapacious instincts.

    The argument is made that such crimes are “non-violent”, but I say it does violence to people when you steal their life savings in order to buy your condo at Aspen. I say it does violence to the system, when companies that play fair now have to comply with new regulations put in place because some couldn’t be content with merely being obscenely wealthy.

    What deterrence is there when someone like Michael Milken steals billions, does a little R&R in tennis-court jail, and goes on to teach at UCLA?

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure even possible execution would deter some of the worst white-collar criminals. For some of them, it isn’t even about the money. It’s about the high, the rush from winning and the thrill from self-aggrandizement from playing other people for fools. In that, these guys are no different from the crack-heads you deplore.

    Speaking of deporable, since you did not rise to his defense, am I to assume you and I agree that Neil Bush is scum for abusing the SBA and thereby robbing legitimate small businessmen of their opportunity? May I suggest the execution of Neil Bush on Fox News as a deterrent to those who keep the Free-Market system from being free.

  7. lonbud - August 3, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

    I think that’s a great suggestion, despite the fact it runs counter to my Buddhist-influenced precept of non-violence.

    Then again, something must appeal to prurience and / or a taste for the violent and depraved in order to make a Fox News broadcast, so, what must be will be…

  8. Michael Herdegen - August 3, 2006 @ 7:00 pm

    The House of Representatives is far less interested in the needs of the people, or in keeping cheap labor out of America, than it is in punishing those who actually provide, at the most visceral level, the opportunity for which the whole world yearns to come here.

    The House of Representatives wants to punish employers ?
    Could you elaborate ?

    I’m all for executing a few white collar criminals to deter their most rapacious instincts.

    I’m fine with that, providing that more-stringent provisions related to assigning guilt beyond doubt, higher than those that currently exist, are met.
    In general, I would like to see higher penalties for white-collar crime.

    The argument is made that such crimes are “non-violent”, but I say it does violence to people when you steal their life savings in order to buy your condo at Aspen.

    I agree, and have long felt that con artists who prey particularly upon the poor and aged should receive life sentences.

    I say it does violence to the system, when companies that play fair now have to comply with new regulations put in place because some couldn’t be content with merely being obscenely wealthy.

    Yes, it does. Sarbanes-Oxley adds billions of dollars in costs, to American businesses as a whole.

    [A]m I to assume you and I agree that Neil Bush is scum…

    Yes.

  9. Michael Herdegen - August 3, 2006 @ 9:39 pm

    In fact, I’ve stolen candy from Neil Bush.

    Many years ago, over a decade, I used to work at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO, which is one of the very few five-star resorts in North America. (And it surely is nice, but perhaps not quite worth what it costs to stay there. The luxury suites are stunning, both in furnishing and view, but why pay many thousands of dollars for a place to sleep for one night ?)

    Anyhow, Neil Bush stayed there several times while I was working there, and it was the hotel’s practice to provide a large tin of chocolates from one of the Spring’s upscale confectioners to their VIP guests, by putting it in their rooms before arrival.

    Once I had occasion to be in the room that I knew that Neil Bush was going to be assigned, so while there I liberated his tin of goodies, to strike a blow for “the people” in retaliation for Neil’s role in the S&L crisis, at Silverado.

  10. lonbud - August 3, 2006 @ 10:07 pm

    The House of Representatives’ version of immigration reform makes it a crime not only to employ “illegal” aliens, but also makes it a crime to assist them in other matters of aid and comfort.

    The bill increases fines to employers hiring “illegal” aliens to up to $40,000 per offense.

    Providing housing to “illegal” aliens would be a felony carrying a minimum 3 year prison term.

    The bill also would create several new mandatory minimum penalties for a variety of other offenses, including some that would expose humanitarian workers, public schoolteachers, church workers, and others whose only object is to provide relief and aid, to five-year mandatory minimum prison sentences.

  11. Michael Herdegen - August 4, 2006 @ 5:27 pm

    While I don’t care about illegal immigration, and in fact would like to see the U.S. annex Mexico, it is nonetheless true that if one wishes to see fewer illegal immigrants, it makes perfect sense to stop people from helping illegal immigrants to arrive and thrive.

    All illegals should get, with a “hard” border policy, is a hot meal and a bus ride home.

  12. lonbud - August 4, 2006 @ 11:50 pm

    The point, Michael, is that people are not “illegal.” Should anyone behave illegally, well, we have laws for that, and we should do a far better job of enforcing them than we currently do.

    Criminalizing the samaritan instinct goes rather against the American grain, doesn’t it?

  13. Michael Herdegen - August 5, 2006 @ 12:44 am

    Yes.

    But on the other hand, if Congress tells the samaritans to cut it out, and rather than working to integrate illegally-present aliens into American society, to instead merely turn over those behaving illegally to the authorities, and if the samaritans refuse to do so, then they’ve become dissident activists, and not just doers of good deeds, no ?

    If any person or organization wants to help Mexicans or Central Americans to have better lives, they can do so in those peoples’ native nations.
    If anyone insists that it must be done in the U.S., then we can see that their first priority is not simple humanitarianism, that they have some other agenda.

  14. lonbud - August 5, 2006 @ 8:01 pm

    The mental gymnastics required to assume that position are beyond me, Michael. All I’m saying is that the House of Representatives’ focus on criminalizing charity, neighborliness, and assistive behavior is not the way to go about adressing the nation’s immigration problem.

    Dissident activists are doers of good deeds, in my book. It’s blind acolytes of authority you’ve got to watch out for.

  15. Michael Herdegen - August 7, 2006 @ 1:50 am

    [T]he House of Representatives’ focus on criminalizing charity, neighborliness, and assistive behavior is not the way to go about adressing the nation’s immigration problem.

    It’s not the best way, in my opinion, but let us suppose that we were talking about organizations and people whose focus and effort was directed towards helping divorced men acquire new identities, so that they could escape paying child support.
    Would you still characterize their activities as “charity, neighborliness, and assistive behavior” ?

    Why would any government let civic organizations, or individuals, get away with helping people to break the law ?
    Until now, the authorities have looked the other way, because illegal immigration wasn’t a huge issue, and someone had to take care of the needs of the illegal workers…

    But ethically, these organizations and persons are accomplices, like coyotes.

    Dissident activists are doers of good deeds, in my book. It’s blind acolytes of authority you’ve got to watch out for.

    Yeah ?
    I watch out for blind people of any persuasion.

    Just because people are dissident activists doesn’t inherently mean that their pet projects and causes are worthy of respect. Consider NAMBLA.

    Further, humans need authority to organize their social affairs.
    Without it, you’ve just got anarchy. Parents must have authority over their children, and gov’t officials must have authority over their jurisdictions. Even tribal leaders ruthlessly enforce their primitive authorities, because a group that doesn’t follow its leader is just a band of fellow-travelling individuals, vulnerable to those who are organized.

    Which is why it can be clearly seen that a lot of dissident activists are simply people who never grew out of their rebellious phase, unlike normal people. They reflexively attack any authority, regardless of how necessary or benign.
    Their childish essence might explain why they think that giant paper-mache sculptures or busts are a good way to influence people, judging from various protest marches and rallies.

    Finally, just what kind of lawyer are you ???
    If people didn’t respect authority, then you’d be out of a job. People could just ignore laws or contracts with impunity, so why bother crafting or arguing over any ?

    Also, I find it odd that you, as a advocate of pacifism, seem to be pining for a society in which the only way to enforce an agreement is with a fist or a weapon.

  16. lonbud - August 7, 2006 @ 12:53 pm

    Why is it so difficult for you to criticize authority figures, Michael? Did your experience in the military divest you completely of your facility for critical thought? Can’t you just say the House of Representatives’ immigration reform bill is wrong-headed, and leave it at that? Why the tortuous analogy to a non-existent group dedicated to helping men skirt child care obligations? I mean, really, what is the point of that bullsh*t argument?

    Of course humans need to vest certain people and organizations with authority to order their affairs. You will note my original comment, which inexplicably sent you off once again into the weeds, said:

    This country doesn’t need more socialism. It needs administrators and public servants willing to enforce the laws we have.

    And further downthread: we should do a far better job of enforcing [such laws] than we currently do.

    I have no problem submitting to conventions of behavior and propriety that ensure justice and equal treatment of all humans before the law. However, when the organizing and enforcement authorities enact pay-to-play schemes, routinely look the other way when certain segments of society flout the law, and when they fail to apply the law to those who finance their stays in office, then freedom and democracy demand activist dissidents.

    Finally, I fail to understand why you read me as pining for a society that enforces agreements through violence.

  17. Tam O’Tellico - August 7, 2006 @ 9:38 pm

    Well, I’m happy to hear that Michael has a rebellious streak of his own – depriving poor little rich boy Bush of his chocolates – my hero!

    As for immigration, this is a loaded issue all the way ’round, and one that smacks of racism as well. Still, I don’t see how any country can claim to be “safe” that doesn’t at a minimum protect its borders.

    Wasn’t NAFTA supposed to end the problem of job-hunting illegals? Fact is, NAFTA has hardly made a dent in illegal immigration, but it certainly has helped corporate America, if not working Americans.

    Fact also is, that not every job can be exported to Mexico or India. So, a wink and a nod has been given to illegal immigation because Mexicans will fill those 15-20 million jobs that Americans are too lazy to do for minimum wage and no benefits – or at least that’s what Bush and the Chamber of Commerce types tell us.

    Frankly, I can’t say as I blame these folks for insisting on decent wages, but they’re not likely to get much sympathy from this President or this Congress – unless they have estates in excess of 5 million dollars.

    But pity the poor Mexicans, they are now being displaced in the American grist mills by Central Americans, who will work even cheaper. Problem is, most of them must sneak into two countries. It appears Mexico is not quite so understanding with its illegals.

    Desperation being all too common in this cruel, cruel world, it seems obvious that no wall or fence or army of border guards can ever keep out those who see greener pastures on the other side of an invisible line in the sand. If this President and this Congress are serious about illegal immigration, the first step must be enforcing existing laws and increasing punishment of those in this country who knowingly encourage people in their desperation.

    Here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, our local paper daily shows names and pictures of poor white folks who are sought for violation of parole, bad checks and wife-beating. Well, if deterrence has any real effect, I would love to see such practices applied to local businessmen who get rich off of employing illegals. These white-collar criminals faces should show up in the newspaper, and they should do real hard time.

    To treat these crooks with a slap on the wrist – if any punishment is given at all – to suggest that their criminality is “softer”, is racist and elitist and foolish. These are not “victimless” crimes. The illegals who risk life and limb only to be taken advantage of, and the Americans who are without work and whose families are without health-insurance, are certainly victims of these crimes. The consequences are every bit as serious as stealing a car – and certainly far worse than writing a bad check.

  18. Michael Herdegen - August 7, 2006 @ 10:40 pm

    Why is it so difficult for you to criticize authority figures, Michael?

    My larger point was simply that reflexively criticizing authority figures is as foolish as never criticizing them. They should be criticized when appropriate, as one might do with U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, (D-GA), or U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, (R-OH) – both of whom will be leaving the House in Jan. ’07 – but to assume that because a person is an “authority figure”, that they’re probably abusing said authority, is juvenile.

    Therefore “dissident activists” may or may not be “do-gooders”; they might just be troublemakers.

    Did your experience in the military divest you completely of your facility for critical thought?

    That’s a common cliche among those with contempt for the military, such as, apparently, yourself.
    If you don’t want to appear to be anti-military, then I suggest that you find a more original way to imply that someone is being foolish.

    Can’t you just say the House of Representatives’ immigration reform bill is wrong-headed, and leave it at that?

    No, because I don’t believe that it’s wrong-headed. YOU believe that it’s wrong.
    I disagree with the goal of the bill, but if the goal is accepted, it’s clear that the measures that you dislike will help achieve it, so the provisions are logical.

    Why the tortuous analogy to a non-existent group dedicated to helping men skirt child care obligations?

    I thought that a different example of why the groups and individuals that you think ought to be left alone are being subjected to increased pressure and scrutiny, might help you understand why that’s so.
    If America really wants to stop illegal immigration, then those groups and individuals should stop their aid activities.

    I fail to understand why you read me as pining for a society that enforces agreements through violence.

    Not directly, but a society with weak civil authority is also a society with strong private authorities, whose will is necessarily enforced through violence, since the courts are part of the weak civil structure.
    Some examples are Lebanon and Hizzbollah, the warlords of Somalia, and historically, Sicily and the mafia.

    Your affection for the concept of the dissident activist, such as those who started WW I by assassinating the Archduke Ferdinand, points in the direction of the breakdown of civil culture.

    Now, of course, I don’t believe that you want to go that far, but my point is that we must assess dissidents as we do any other interest group. They may be correct, there may be injustice, or maybe they’re nuts, like the anti-globalization crowd.

  19. lonbud - August 8, 2006 @ 7:35 am

    I don’t subscribe to the common cliche about the military divesting recruits of their facility for critical thought — Lt. Watada certainly kept his head on straight through his ordeal. I was just wondering if it happend to you, Michael.

    Help me out. What is the goal of the House’s immigration bill that you disagree with but can’t bring yourself to critcize because its provisions are so logical?

    What makes you believe I am in favor of a society with weak civil authority? This particular society we live in has had its civil authority emasculated by Reagan and the Bush Boys and has been moving more and more toward the acceptance of private authority that you (rightly) hold in contempt.

    If you believe WWI was started by dissidents and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, I strongly recommend you go back and watch Robert Newman’s piece on the History of Oil.

  20. Michael Herdegen - August 8, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

    So, a wink and a nod has been given to illegal immigation because Mexicans will fill those 15-20 million jobs that Americans are too lazy to do for minimum wage and no benefits…

    Not only don’t native-born American citizens want to do those jobs, there aren’t enough of them to fill the demand, even if they would do such work. There are only roughly 12 million Americans that are part of the labor pool who are out of work, if we count the unemployed, the “discouraged workers”, and the recently retired, who might be lured back to work if the pot were sweet enough.

    Desperation being all too common in this cruel, cruel world, it seems obvious that no wall or fence or army of border guards can ever keep out those who see greener pastures on the other side of an invisible line in the sand.

    True that.
    Plus, it makes no sense to try to stop them from coming. They need jobs and we need laborers. It’s also immoral to deny the poor an opportunity, especially if it’s at no cost to ourselves.

    If this President and this Congress are serious about illegal immigration, the first step must be enforcing existing laws and increasing punishment of those in this country who knowingly encourage people in their desperation.

    Yeah, that’s what lonbud and I are arguing about, whether America should punish those in this country who knowingly encourage people in their desperation.

    What is the goal of the House’s immigration bill that you disagree with but can’t bring yourself to critcize because its provisions are so logical?

    To reduce illegal immigration, particularly from Mexico and parts south.

  21. Tam O’Tellico - August 8, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

    Well, Michael, I will concede that many out-of-work Americans consider themselves above picking oranges for a living, or at least they have sense enough to realize there is no future and no money in it.

    However, if you’ve visited a construction site in the last ten years you may have noticed an interesting phenomenon. The drywall hangers, the landscapers, some of the carpenters and many of the masons – to name just a few trades – are all guys about 5’2″ who can’t speak English.

    These Green-Card Gringos may be Mexicans or Guatamelans or Salvadorans, and, fact is, they are probably working for far more than minimum wage. But they get no benefits, and they often work under unsafe conditions, in some cases because they don’t know any better, and in most cases because they daren’t complain or they’ll be gone. They also can’t complain about not getting overtime, and they can’t complain if the boss charges them exorbitant rent to stay 15 or 20 to a three-bedroom dilapidated house trailer.

    Now you may think this is the way things ought to be in our Free-Market System, in fact, you may even long for a return to Dickensian England. But there is no way to fault Americans for not wanting to work under such conditions. What makes this all the more obscene is that the owners of these companies are getting filthy rich, and home-owners are pretending not to know this is going on so that they can afford to induge their massive egos and build their extravagant and wasteful McMansion homes.

    And please don’t bother me with statistics – I’ve seen far too much of this with my own eyes to be dissuaded by BOL-shit statistics.

  22. lonbud - August 9, 2006 @ 12:22 am

    Let me be clear about my position on immigration:

    I say open the borders. We should welcome anyone who wants to come here and is willing to work and live according to our laws. We should absolutely punish anyone who takes advantage of immigrants (or anyone else, for that matter), or who unjustly profits from the good faith and hard labor of another human being. We should not criminalize assistance to any human being in need of housing, healthcare, or education.

  23. Michael Herdegen - August 9, 2006 @ 5:51 am

    But there is no way to fault Americans for not wanting to work under such conditions.

    I don’t fault them for not wanting to work. I fault them for the combination of both not wanting to work, and not wanting immigrants to come and take those jobs.

    You’re mostly right about the McMansions, though – currently, a lot of the demand for labor is coming from Americans’ desire for more convenience, and bigger and better stuff.
    However, in the future, most of the growth in demand for labor is going to come from the need to care for the almost 80 million Boomer retirees.

    We should not criminalize assistance to any human being in need of housing, healthcare, or education.

    While I agree, obviously that position depends on there being open borders. If a majority of Americans want the borders to be something less than open, then they should criminalize assistance to illegal immigrants.

  24. Tam O’Tellico - August 9, 2006 @ 6:50 am

    Well, boys, we do have a precedent in this case. Once upon a not so long ago in the Land of the Free, a law was passed that criminalized aiding and abetting fugitive slaves. Anyone who so much as harbored or fed a freedom-loving slave brave enough to try and escape involuntary servitude for life and the lives of their children and grand-children ad infinitum – anyone who so assisted, could face the full force and fury of the guv-mint.

    On the other hand, while my heart says feed the poor, the hungry, the masses yearning to be free – my eyes and ears tell me we aren’t doing a very good job of taking care of the troubles we’ve got already. And I don’t think giving away good jobs in the construction industry, and what few other non-union blue-collar jobs we have left, is any cure for what ails us.

    Now, I’m not saying we can’t do something substantial to deal with poverty, even world-wide, but we’re going to have to have a serious change in attitude and priorities, beginning with giving up on being arms dealer to the world and devoting so much of our wealth to the development of more and more expensive weapons technology.

    And we certainly can’t accomplish that by cutting taxes for those who know little or nothing about hunger so that they can drive Hummers and build bigger and bigger McMansions. The ugly truth about America is that much of the world hates us because, as a whole, we don’t give a damn what the rest of the world thinks of us.

    Trouble is, such an attitude paints a target on this country.

  25. Michael Herdegen - August 9, 2006 @ 9:58 am

    I don’t see that as an “ugly” truth.
    International relations aren’t a popularity contest.

    Besides, America is “hated” only in the unsuccessful parts of the world. Europeans and Asians may have contempt for Americans, or think that we’re being led astray by incompetent leadership, but they don’t think that we’re “the Great Satan”.

  26. Tam O’Tellico - August 9, 2006 @ 11:41 am

    Been to France lately?

  27. Michael Herdegen - August 9, 2006 @ 11:49 am

    As I said, “the unsuccessful parts”.

  28. Tam O’Tellico - August 9, 2006 @ 12:31 pm

    I can assure you that much of South America is not our friend, either. I visited Chile in ’79 or ’80 and the stench from the Allende affair was still very much in the air. And the oppressive nature of his Rightist replacement did not improve our lot.

    One of my most vivid memories is of a gigantic Ford plant lying idle when we had to get the f**k out of Dodge. Bad joke, I know. I wonder how much that investment and others like it contributed to Ford’s current woes? That’s what happens, though, when you chase cheap labor.

    While our relations with Chile have improved in the itnerim, the pillaging of South America by Big Oil and companies like Anaconda is now coming back to haunt us, as well. It certainly apears that Liberation Theology has had more effect in SA than the Neo-Nazi/CIA connection. Perhaps what we are witnessing in that The Cross is indeed mightier than The Sword.

    In the end, it may well be that all our CIA sponsored terrorism and corporate rape of locals will show a substantial unanticipated cost that must be added to the Free-Market bottom line. Maybe after it’s all said and done, the Golden Rule really ought to be the first rule of business because it appears it may be as practical as it is moral.

    Who knew?

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