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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, April 10, 2006


Hawaii Five-Oh, Bush Style
Nuke 'em, Danno


The secret is out... Cowboy Bush wants to take out his six-guns (the US tactical nuclear - or is that "nukular"? - weapons) and shoot down those mean ol' hombre's from Iran.

I have mixed emotions about this one. On the one hand, I know that a nuclear Iran is not something that I want to see the world deal with. Although, during the nineties, the more moderate factions of Iranian life seemed to be moving toward a more western style of society, mixed in with their Islamic government. Those days are over. In fact, one can make the argument that the actions and hostility shown toward Muslims in general has helped fuel an already tenuous relationship between the US and Iran. Could that have been what led to an overly extremist government in Iran, with former hostage-taker Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as their president?

Back in the days when Saddam Hussein really was trying to build a nuclear bomb, Israel attacked and destroyed the reactor that Iraq was trying to build, presumably for peaceful, home energy purposes. Although Israel was chastised by the world community publicly, it is no secret that the world slept a little easier after the attacks. In light of recent events, I doubt there can be no one left who thought that Iraq having a nuclear weapon was a good idea, hindsight being 20/20 and all.

But a tactical nuclear strike scares me. Thinking that we can start a "low grade nuclear war" is not only irresponsible, but stupid thinking on our part. Last I heard, our nuclear weapons program was there to be a deterrent. Nukes shouldn't be used merely because GW (the man-child) has these neat toys and he wants to play with them.

The "doctrine of prevention" that allows us to strike preemptively, according to GW, simply means that he wishes to use diplomacy as his weapon of choice.

"What your reading is wild speculation. Happens quite frequently here in the nation's capital."
-GW, in reference to the
Sy Hersch article in The New Yorker Magazine stating that the Pentagon will use force in relation to actions it needs to take in Iran

Isn't it funny how "wild speculation" always seems to lead to "how'd they find out" whenever the Bushites are cornered by their own words, deeds and actions?

Will diplomacy work in regard to Iran? History tells us no. But maybe we could think of something other than a "mushroom cloud" as our first response.

-Noah Greenberg



A Debate

In response to Madman's ideas on Immigration, this debate and partial agreement took place:

ROBERT SCARDAPANE: I just want to know - what is wrong with enforcing our immigration laws? How is it that the law has been put on trial? I listened patiently to the open border fanatics posting articles in Madman. To put simply, I don't agree with your philosophy. If you really are for open borders, please come out and say that. By the way, people who are against open borders are not racists. We simply think the economic consequences of allowing millions of people to come into the country are worth considering and that people should have respect for the integrity of our borders.

NOAH GREENBERG: (From Note from a Madman) Brilliant. Only the Republicans can come up with a cure that's worse than the disease. ( I actually wrote this in the morning when it was a GOP idea only )

ROBERT: Only one problem with what you are saying - the Democrats are in on this deal as well! I was repulsed by the sight of our Democrats making nice with the Republicans on this issue. On this day and this alone, I actually liked Jeff Sessions from Alabama. How about enforcing our laws? The law does not say that once get beat the border patrol you are now here for good - yet, that is exactly how many people act - those people are open border advocates though they fear being honest about their philosophy.

NOAH: The bottom line is this: If this law goes through, it will make illegal immigration worse and offer the US yet another lower class (economically speaking).

There is absolutely nothing with enforcing our laws, but let’s be real. How are you going to deport 11 million people while, at the same time stop the illegal migration of another one million per year?

Nothing, and I repeat, nothing can be done until we solve the border issue itself. Look, I realize creating a St. Lawrence seaway kind of deal that would extend a deeper and not-crossable waterway between the US and Mexico might be unattainable, but it is a suggestion, and the only one, other than a wall, that has been offered by anybody.

We have a porous border. Imagine if Canada was a third world nation like Mexico. Imagine if they spoke only French. Imagine if they “looked darker” than us. How would we stop the illegal immigration across that border?

There were racist remarks in relation to the immigration issue printed here on Madman. I tend to agree that not wanting illegals to come across our borders is not racist. There are ways to start the prevention of illegal immigration but no one will say anything but rhetoric.

ROBERT: Give me a break! That's equivalent to saying there are jobs Americans won't do. Eisenhower had a large deportment program and it worked. I think I am sick of the open borders people and now I am pushing back. Maybe it's time to prove that we will enforce our laws!

If you are not willing to deport people who break the law you are not enforcing the border.

There were some racist and dumb remarks as well. However, the truth is that there are several people who wrote Madman that chose to see anyone that wants to enforce immigration laws as racist.

Man what an emotionally charged issue. All you need to do is say illegal immigration and you all sorts of nonsensical reactions such as no human being is illegal. True enough but irrelevant to the issue of breaking the law. And then there are the people who want us to fix Mexico's economy. Geez - this sort of thinking gives liberals a bad name as being a bunch of utopians. We can't even fix our own economy and they want us to fix Mexico.

NOAH: I wasn’t the one to say it would be hard to deport 11 million people. It was a San Diego organization (I don't remember who, but it was on Randi Rhodes show when it was hosted by Thom Hartman) who said it would take over 5 years and I forget how many billions of dollars.

I can see the point in saying that if someone broke the law they shouldn’t get the break, however, I think that I’m looking at it realistically.

And Like I said before, it all is bull of we don’t fix the border FIRST.

ROBERT: History says that all amnesties - and that is what this really is - brings more illegal immigration. Reagan did the same thing and look at the result - 11 million illegals. And then we all say how can you deport 11 million? Well it wouldn't have been 11 million if we just enforced the laws!

Yes, covering the border is part of what I mean by enforcing the laws but I also mean deporting people you find here illegally and fining employers of illegals. You might say - I am sick of this issue. I see as stupidity on both the Democratic and Republican side. Each are using immigration for their ends - Republicans love cheap labor and Democrats think they have a ready made new voter pool. What the heck is wrong with legal immigration?

My relatives came here that way I bet'cha so did yours!

To Vicente Fox who seems to think he owns America I say get lost. Mexico's problems are Mexico's problems. If Vicente can't cope, let the leftists come to power - they will do a better job. I see no reason why the United States needs to bail him out - except oh them corporatists.

NOAH: Here is something we an agree on. Fixing the border first and criminalizing (prosecuting, jail time and large fines) the employers ALL OF THEM, even the ones who employ illegal live-ins, with harsher laws.

ROBERT: I agree on those points! Though I sense we disagree on deportment.

Absolutely, throw all of the employers, including CEO's of large companies, in jail if they hire illegals.

NOAH: It isn't that we disagree on deportment, I just don't see it as practical.

ROBERT: Have you noticed the useless sloganeering on this issue? Let me give some examples:

Slogan: "These people are doing jobs Americans won't do".

Really? Americans always did them before. There isn't any job that an American won't do provided it pays fair wages.

Slogan: "We can't deport 11 million people.".

Maybe not. However, Eisenhower had a very successful mass deportation program that shut down the flow of illegal immigrants into the country. I wonder - if 11 million can't be deported does that mean you can't deport even 1? In that case, we have essentially open borders.

Slogan: "Put the troops on the border".

There isn't enough troops to cover Iraq, let alone put them on the border. Then, there is the nasty issue of "Posse Comitatus". Okay - the borders can be made more secure using technology such as UAVs and in places good old fashioned fences.

Slogan: "There is no such thing as an illegal immigrant".

I love word parsing. Okay there is no such thing as an illegal human being but there are people who are breaking the immigration law - those people are called illegal immigrants. Use whatever words make you happy.

Slogan: "We need to fix Mexico's economy to stop illegal immigration".

We can't even fix our own. The best we could do is leave Mexico alone and allow Vicente Fox to lose power. The Mexican leftists will do a much better job. The American corporatists working with Vicente Fox have ruined Mexico's economy.

Slogans are cute but ultimately get us nowhere. I watched the Senate tonight and was struck at how much Republicans and Democrats agree with each other. Both parties are falling over each other to have an amnesty. The last President to do that was Reagan. The end result - 11 million illegal immigrants who pay no taxes and drain our social programs. What is the answer? There isn't a simple one.
I can recommend some broad ideas:

1) Border control including enforcing the law when people that are here illegally are found.
2) Large fines for employers of illegal immigrants.
3) Stop supporting Vicente Fox - let Mexico's economy follow a different path.
4) Revoke NAFTA.

NOAH: I wrote about 2 of the slogans tonight. After all, this is the administration of the sound bite.

An additional problem, perhaps the worst I have with Bush’s immigration proposal, is the use of day workers. It galls me to think that he wants to allow people into this nation to work without allowing them to contribute oto the economy at all. A guest worker program brings absolutely nothing to the table except to make the rich richer.

ROBERT: People make silly analogies such as lining up a fleet of buses coast to coast to deport 11 million people. Of course, it would never work that way. I would betcha that if you deported 1/4 million many would get the message that breaking the law is no joke. I don't know of any nation on this face of this earth that puts up with what we are putting up with.

Well, irrespective - mainly, I did want to point out that Democrats are as much for amnesty as Republicans - maybe even more so. You know I hate the Republicans but in this case the blame is both parties. Neither are serious about border enforcement which in my includes stopping them before they get in and deporting them when they do get in.

You realize we are all being "cheap labor-ed" to death one way or the other - either it's illegal immigrants or it's outsourcing jobs to cheap labor. I am convinced that the Chamber of Commerce is pursuing a master paln to drive American wages down.

NOAH: I see it this way: If you accept that it is impossible to deport them all, and take you argument that we could deport ¼ million to send a message to those who would otherwise come here, then making the rest legal immigrants would force employers to treat them as American workers. More importantly, enforcing the current laws on employers of illegals, even making them harsher, would be even more of a deterent, and it would be a position the Democrats could call their own

ROBERT: Now you got it right! There is nothing in it for the American citizens. We get stuck with the bill. These day workers send their children to our schools and pay no taxes. In fact, we collect no taxes at all from them. Because they work for less than minimum wage it drives our wages down. I wish Democrats would get behind the American worker in preference to the illegal immigrant / day worker / whatever they are called this week.

NOAH: See? I even let Robert get in the last word. Unless, of course, that this is the last word. Then... Oops!

 

-Noah Greenberg and Robert Scardapane



IMMIGRATION LAWS MUST BE CHANGED
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.


Millions of people took to the streets again on April 10th protesting America's outdated, outmoded and often simply outrageous immigration laws. But if they had hoped Congress was watching, well–once again the current do-nothing Congress which has accomplished less than any Congress since the Civil War, was off on vacation: a two-week Easter break. (Even when I was in Catholic school we only got Holy Thursday and Good Friday off; my college students' spring breaks are only a week. What *exactly* does this Congress need a break from? They've passed less legislation than any Congress in 50 years. )

April 7th Congress left Washington, leaving plans for a new immigration bill that was nearly complete languishing, despite hard-fought efforts by a handful of Senators like Ted Kennedy, who's been working on this reform for years. (Apparently Kennedy's one of the few Americans who remembers that unless we are First Nation people, we all came from somewhere else).
The Palm Sunday morning talk shows put it succinctly: don't expect anything to happen this year–by which they clearly meant this *election* year. The political die seems cast. Although there may be more debate, the 12 million undocumented workers (or illegal aliens as many refer to them) in the U.S. will remain in the scary and often dangerous limbo they have been in, some of them for years, until Congress gets its act together.

I am lucky: I was born in America. My mother's father's family came to the U.S. before the Mayflower–Dutch settlers in New York's Hudson Valley in the early 1600s. The rest of my family came–my father's mother's family from Sweden, my father's father's family from Germany, my mother's mother's family from Denmark–in the mid-1800s, with the second great wave of immigrants to the U.S.

My family is similar to most families in the U.S. who are of European or Russian heritage: we are descendants of the great flood of Ellis Islanders who either expanded the urban centers of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Chicago or who spread out across the plains states and homesteaded the land there. The great wave from the East–the Chinese and other Asian Pacific migration–happened somewhat later and mostly into the Western part of America: California, Oregon, Washington. Non-recent Latino immigrants came from Puerto Rico and Cuba, also in the 1800s; others were native to the U.S. when large portions of the West and Southwest were still part of Mexico.

Black Americans who are not recent immigrants from Africa or the Islands, were mostly brought here as slaves in the 1700s from Africa and the West Indies.

This is how we all got here: except for the First Nations people–the Native American tribes, many now extinct due to colonization of America–we all came from somewhere else. We are not truly native to America, despite having been born here.

And we all know it.

So why are we so afraid of new immigrants to this country? Why are we so determined to keep America for Americans? Are we afraid we will run out of resources? Afraid our taxes will be used to pay for those who aren't working?

Among those using up America's resources right now are everyone driving an SUV, 4x4 truck, Hummer or other gas-guzzling vehicle. Somehow I doubt that the Guatemalans I have seen flooding Philadelphia in recent years–every one of whom I've seen riding a bicycle–is at the root of *that* problem.

As for those who aren't working–well, it appears that the undocumented people in my neighborhood, mostly Nigerians, Asians and Guatemalans, are all working. Hard. They are doing day labor at produce markets, laundries and dollar stores. They are not the young men I see lounging on the corners of Germantown and Mount Airy every day selling drugs, the guns tucked in their waistbands clearly visible to all who care to look.

The undocumented workers are just that–undocumented, but working. They are clearly not the people to whom my hard-earned tax dollars are going. Nor are they criminals.
Another immigration issue people seem concerned about is terrorism. However, most undocumented workers in the U.S. are from Mexico, Central America, Asia and Africa. The terrorists apparently come here legally–like the 9/11 hijackers–on student or other visas. It wasn't Guatemalans, Nigerians and Vietnamese flying those planes on 9/11–it was Saudi Arabians here on legally obtained visas.

We do need protection from terrorism. But the wave of terror in the U.S. isn't coming from undocumented workers.

Property damage is another immigration complaint. I acknowledge that while I have in the past lived in border states, I do not live in one now. I do not have an influx of Mexicans and Guatemalans and Salvadorans coming through my property day after day, tearing down my fences and fouling the water supply for my family and animals. But I do have hordes of children from the public school a block away doing this, and it makes me furious as I pick up their trash and replace my fence and replant my flowers on a daily basis; however I don't suggest that these children be kept out of school because they behave badly on their way to and from as they cut across my property.

I can sympathize with the complaints of people who bear the brunt of illegal immigration from south of U.S. borders with damage to their land. These are the only group of people actually being harmed at all by illegal immigration in the U.S. But the latest trend of arming these people as mini-militias as is being done in Texas, Arizona and California, has only created a form of legal terrorism–the hunting of other human beings. Militia groups like the Minutemen are doing absolutely nothing to staunch the flow of illegal immigrants from south of our borders. Instead they fuel a fanatical kind of racism while also making life more dangerous for Americans as well as illegals with their guns.

The legislation before Congress prior to the Easter break was relatively simple: First, make the borders safer (although it must be noted that terrorists are not coming into the U.S. from Mexico; Canada, perhaps, but not Mexico; our ports, definitely, but not Mexico). Then, apply amnesty to those undocumented people already here–grant them visas or green cards, depending on how long they have been in the U.S.

These are simple applications of common sense. And yet the Republicans in Congress, already suffering from even lower poll ratings than George Bush, stymied all efforts at passage. Punishment is what they want–punishment for all those people who did what their own forebears did: risked their lives to come to the U.S. for a better life for themselves and their children.
The Republicans want the rules followed, even if the rules as they currently stand aren't applicable. The Republicans want to send every illegal back to wherever they came from in some giant cattle roundup.

Not only is this impractical and infeasible, it's mostly just cruel. It's also economically stupid. Round up all the illegals in Philadelphia, for example, and there will be no hotel workers, no produce workers, no janitorial staffs in office buildings. Stayed at a Philadelphia hotel recently–four star or otherwise? Met anyone who speaks English? Our hotels are run by Asians, Africans and Latinos. The hierarchy might be American, but good luck finding a worker who is.

Remove the undocumented workers and there will also be no seamstresses, no piece workers, no kitchen staff in restaurants, no car wash workers, no delivery people, no stockers in supermarkets and other shops. And is there a gardener in America who is native-born? Most large cities in America would have a huge shortage of workers for a large retinue of jobs if all the undocumented workers were rounded up tomorrow.

We've tried punishing undocumented people before. Voter referendums in California, Arizona, Florida and Texas disallowing the children of undocumented parents education and health care haven't staunched the flow of illegal immigration, they have only created a permanent underclass of uneducated and unhealthy children of illegals in the U.S. who will be more prone to join gangs and engage in other criminal activity because normal avenues for achievement have been closed to them.

Desperation never breeds anything good. The desperation of the poverty in my own neighborhood has bred crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, child neglect, teen pregnancy, STDs. Won't that eventually happen in the community of undocumented workers as well? Won't all the children who were supposed to be given a chance at a better life but who are denied that chance due to their parents having to live in the shadows become angry and bitter and eventually act out in ways that really will damage our society?

The argument proffered by the Republican majority in Congress (it should be noted that a handful of Republicans are for immigration reform, like Sen. John McCain [R-AZ], who represents a border state) against immigration reform is first that it breaks the existing rules and second, that it penalizes those who go through the current system of obtaining visas and work permits.

This theory simply pits one group of desperate people against another: all immigrants, all poor. Most of us have seen TV news footage of people rushing the borders at San Diego and other border points in their efforts to get here for work. Suggestions that Mexico should do more to provide an economy for its citizens that keeps them home, rather than forces them over here, might have greater weight if American corporations hadn't added to the problem by moving their plants to Mexico to avail themselves of the cheap labor and lax worker protections there. The confluence has just exacerbated the economic problems.

The path to citizenship is a rocky one for those not fortunate enough to have been born here. But it is clear that the majority of undocumented workers in the U.S. want to be citizens and it only makes sense for our government to do everything responsible and necessary to make these people citizens.

The majority of the political and social discourse surrounding the immigration debate has been about the dangers to America; no one has discussed the dangers to the undocumented themselves, which are manifold.

Many illegals are brought to the U.S. by traffickers who demand inordinate sums for transport. Girls and women are frequently sold into sexual slavery to pay for their passage. Others are sold into various forms of servitude in factories and domestic situations. There have been numerous cases in recent months of Nigerian and Guatemalan women having been sold into domestic slavery on the East Coast as the price of passage. In California it was discovered that car washes were regularly using undocumented workers and then not paying them. Undocumented workers are used at shipyards and ports and on construction sites where the physical dangers are exponential and where injuries end up untreated because there is no health care for these people.

Undocumented workers have no legal recourse and no resources. They are constantly at risk, constantly in danger, constantly in fear. They cannot open bank accounts and thus are targets for thieves. They are unfamiliar with the language and thus targets for the unscrupulous who prey on the vulnerable. In recent years the plight of mushroom workers in Chester County, nearly all of whom were undocumented Central American workers, was revealed: they were living in the same kind of enforced squalor Upton Sinclair exposed in his novel *The Jungle,* about the labor abuse of immigrants in Chicago in the 1920s.

Should all immigration laws and rules be abolished and the borders left wide open? No. But for those who have risked their lives to get here and worked hard since their arrival, an amnesty program must be established.

As the Bush Administration begins the wind-up toward another military incursion, this time on the democratically elected government of Iran which it disavows, it would be good for the Congress to consider how many more citizens it will need to fight the continual wars this Administration plans to start. That consideration alone should have the Republicans eager to grant amnesty to a host of young male undocumented workers who could then join our military tomorrow.

Meanwhile, 12 million undocumented workers in the U.S. should be given immediate amnesty with all the benefits and responsibilities of citizenship. Those who do not want to become citizens should indeed be asked to return to their native countries–but it seems unlikely that there will be many of those.

The Bush Administration and the Republicans speak loudly of compassionate conservativism. Immigration reform is an essential tenet of any compassionate government. It is 100 years past due in America and 12 million people working at jobs native-born Americans seem to find beneath them deserve the protections that normally accrue to the lives of hard-working Americans. When Congress returns from their paid two-week vacation they should immediately get to work on immigration reform–it is necessary and everyone living in America deserves it, native born or not.



Quoting DeLay, Matthews and Madman

MATTHEWS: Hey thank you for calling me. It was a good thing for me, mostly.
DELAY: Oh really.
MATTHEWS: Oh of course it was. We got on the air as fast as we could....

MADMAN: Chris Matthews and his Right-Leaning show, Hardball, were the ones to break the story that Rep. DeLay would become Citizen DeLay, resign his seat in congress and not run for another term. If any of you were truly wondering whether ofr not Matthews show was a tool for the Righties, ask yourself why DeLay, the most "Right" (or is that "Reich"?) would select hardball for his exclusive?

MATTHEWS: Shannon [DeLay aide] told me, she called me, she said 'don't worry -- he's not calling in to complain'...
MATTHEWS: Have you seen this new focus group stuff on the (Democratic) candidates?
DELAY: No I haven't
MATTHEWS: It's great stuff. I'll send it to you -- it's great -- yeah it's great stuff. Hillary, John Kerry. All these guys, all these democrats, and how they do. And, uh, Frank Luntz did it...

MADMAN: Frank Luntz is a REPUBLICAN pollster. Dont'cha just wonder how those questions were phrased? It is no doubt that the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party are scared of Hillary and Edwards and others who have a chance at the Democratic nomination. so what better way than to sway people than to create a "non-partisan" poll designed to tell us all how bad the opposition front-runners are? And what better vehicle than Matthew's Hardball to show it as "impartial". Why, I bet Matthews even feigned surprise at the poll's results.

DELAY: who I like (Speaking of Luntz)
MATTHEW: ...and Hillary did not do well. Kerry did well.
DELAY: You're kidding.
MATTHEWS: I am NOT kidding. They didn't like Edwards -- they thought he was a rich lawyer, pretending to care about poor people...
DELAY: Too slick. Too slick.

MADMAN: Another Surprise! Will wonders never cease?

MATTHEWS: ...and Hillary was a know-it-all.
DELAY: Nothing worse than a woman know-it-all

MADMAN: Isn't it funny how the Taliban and DeLay have the same opinion of women?

MATTHEWS: Thanks. I owe you one. I owe you two -- today and last night.
DELAY: No you don't.
MATTHEWS: No, I do.
DELAY: I appreciate it.

MADMAN: One wonders if Matthews knew that this whole exchange was being recorded. His lack of response to the "know-it-all" remark makes one think that this was a planned exchange, on Matthews part. After all, he couldn't say to DeLay "how dare you speak of women that way," and "Yeah, you got that right," would have put Matthews himself in a bind. Hmm.

-Noah Greenberg, thanks to Casey Sweet for the link and Eat The Press with Harry Shearer (or is that Principal Skinner?)


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-Noah Greenberg