Sunday, April 30, 2006

On Immigration, Part II

It seems that my previous post on illegal immigration has drawn a lot of criticism. I predicted as much. You know what though, maybe this was a misunderstanding. Maybe I wasn't as clear as I could've been. If I came off as self-righteous, that wasn't my intent. I do feel that many accusations were laid against my argument that have no basis in fact. I'm just going to tackle these all at once.

The intent of my first post was to make the point that the debate on illegal immigration, as with many other issues in America today, has been full of hysteria, demagoguery, and erroneous claims on both sides. No real reforms can happen if we're not honest about what's going on.

I think the approach the the House Republicans have chosen, and many support, of making illegals into felons, is the wrong approach. It is, and has always been a misdemeanor. I think it is unrealistic and unfeasible to try and deport 12 million illegals, especially without having a comprehensive plan to deal with the larger problem.

I'm against placing all the blame on the people coming here for a better life (albeit illegally), without placing due blame on the corporations who exploit these people for cheap labor. You won't stop illegal immigration unless you stop it at the source.

I'm for securing the borders. There are a lot of options here. A fence. More border agents. Maybe we do need some national guard troops.

I'm for paths to legalization for iillegals already here (Most of these people are hartdworking-and no contribute to the economy). I'm not for amnesty. Make them pay fines, and back taxes, and work out a compromise. I think the Senate bill had those here for five years become part of guest worker plan, and those here for less than that go back. The specifics can be worked out. My point is, a compromise is going to have to happen, because we're stuck between a lot of hard choices.

This is not, and I have never called it a civil rights issue, at least not in THAT sense.

Concerns about absorbing millions of new immigrants, and assimilation are valid, but those concerns are for later in the game. Besides, these are concerns we must tackle even with legal immigrants, so that shouldn't really play a part in the current debate.

To be honest with you, I'm no expert, nor do I claim to be. I'm just putting out my thoughts. For those who want to debate, I only ask that you stick to what I actually said, and not what others have said.

Friday, April 28, 2006

On Immigration, and Other Thoughts

OK. I get it. The immigration issue is a big deal for a lot of people. Frankly, I've been putting off posting on it because I'm trying to incorporate everything that's been happening over the last few months. I stand amazed at the lunacy that has taken over a lot of this debate. I'd love to tell you that both sides are equally extreme here, but honestly, the "anti-illegal immigration" crowd has earned a lot of the scorn here. As far as some people are concerned, if you're treating illegal immigrants like human beings, and not like felons, or if you recognize the unfeasibility of deporting 12 million illegals, you're for amnesty. If you think illegals ought to have a legal way of obtaining citizenship, you're a traitor to the laws. If you recognize that most of these people are hardworking, decent people who want a better life, you're for cheap labor. This debate has lost its balance. I know of no mainstream politician who has called for amnesty. I know of no mainstream politician saying that illegals shouldn't go to the back of the line. Yet all we hear about is how people who advocate a common sense approach want to reward criminals.

Let's be clear: The hardliners want to make these people into felons. They want troops on the border. They support uncouth vigilantes like the so-called Minutemen. They want to criminalize those who show compassion. Heck, there's even been a call for outright murder. THAT is what those protests were about. The Mexican flags bothered a lot of people. I get that, but I really think that was a cultural sign of solidarity, as if to say, "they're proud of the heritage."

Are there radicals amongst the protesters? Sure there are. Some do want amnesty. A radical few even want open borders. Many of the upcoming protests appear to be taking a more radical turn. I think that's the wrong approach. Let me say again, that is the wrong approach.

All I'm saying is that we need a common-sense approach to this problem. I don't think anyone's suggesting we do nothing. Most Americans regardless of Party recognize that there's a problem. We need secure borders. We need paths to legalization (not amnesty), and we need to punish those corporations who exploit undocumented workers and illegals. What we don't need is lunacy. What we don't need is self-righteous moralism. What we don't need is the unreconstructed paranoia of the likes of the John Birch Society.

Oh I can hear it now. I'll be called a left-wing smear artist, an open-borders advocate, a race-baiter, and an extremist by some. But I choose to take the position of that raving, America-hating moonbat named George W. Bush.

Oh, and in another related story, there's an uproar over a new Spanish version of the Star Spangled Banner. It's been done, according to the man behind this, to highlight America's immigrant heritage, and show support for the ideals of the anthem. The thing is, a lot of people aren't happy, and see this as a unpatriotic usurpation:

Some Internet bloggers and others are infuriated by the thought of "The Star-Spangled Banner" sung in a language other than English.

"Would the French accept people singing the La Marseillaise in English as a sign of French patriotism? Of course not," said Mark Krikorian, head of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports tighter immigration controls.

An interesting point, but the French handle their language a lot differently then we do, and we have a different policy concerning Spanish and English. I suspect THAT's the heart of the criticism here. I fail to see how a translation undermines a work, as long as the main themes and design are preserved. If the Declaration was translated into Spanish, is that a usurpation? I suspect that politics of immigration are the real issue here, and if this were any other language (except probably Arabic-which would unleash an even bigger firestorm), this story would have fallen off the radar.

UPDATE: You know, I was thinking the whole Spanish anthem thing over, and while I don't impugn the motives of those involved (despite the obvious politics behind it), tradition does matter. I tried to understand part of their argument by considering the anthem in the context of other literary works (books, etc), but it really doesn't fit. The Star Spangled Banner is the anthem, and it was written in English. Many of the words are changed, including the title itself. I'm having trouble with it being changed. To be honest, I'm kind of against it being changed. Again, I don't think they're trying to incur the wrath of the people here, but I fear it's coming.

Oh, and in an unrelated story, Rosie O'Donnell is replacing Meredith Vieira on The View. Uh-huh, that's EXACTLY what that show needs.

What? I really mean that! I'm sorry if it sounded sarcastic.

Ok, it was.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Well, So Much For Loyalty

Look, I've had my issues with Joe Lieberman, but on foreign policy matters, he's on the right track. The way I see it, even if you disagree with him on Iraq, it's shameful to just abandon him just because you disagree with his position on the war. It seems that the activist Lefty Dems in Connecticut disagree, and are running liberal challenger Ned Lamont against Lieberman. Lieberman's tried to cool things down, and he's still got a lot of support. He's even considered running as an independent.

You know what? I'll say it again: The Connecticut Dems ought to be ashamed of themselves. This is just more proof that the deal-breaker for a number of partisan Dems is the war in Iraq, while for Republicans, it's immigration. This is utter foolishness. Lieberman has my support, and I think it's a bad plan to abandon candidates just because they happen to support the war.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Yeah, I Think He's Right

My long-advertised post on illegal immigration will be done by Wednesday, but I just wanted to preview it by pointing out that President Bush has the right idea.

More to follow..

A Few Words On The Leak, and Other Things

As all of you ought to know by now, a top-ranking CIA officer has been fired for leaking information about CIA secret prisons. Her name is Mary O. McCarthy, and she is a seasoned officer, on the verge of retirement. It's also been reported that she was a donor to the Kerry campaign, and to the Democratic Party in general. She's close with Joe Wilson, Sandy Berger, and Richard Clarke.

Politically, you know how this looks. The right-wing blogosphere has gone into full assault mode as usual, entertaining all manner of conspiracies about collusion with the Democrats. To them, she's a politically-motivated traitor, who because of her hatred of Bush, has aided al-qaeda. To them, she's just another in a long line of politically motivated leaks designed to undermine the Administration, and the nation. Put her jail, they cry.

First off, I'm going to do my duty and reject the idea that this MUST be a partisan stunt. There isn't sufficient evidence to make such judgments. I'll seriously entertain the possibility that she honestly felt that these secret prisons were illegal or immoral, and took a moral stand.

Regardless, she still broke the rules, and was right to be fired. There are legal avenues for dealing with things like this legally. She could've gone to Congress. Maybe she did. Maybe she felt she had no other recourse, considering the political environment. Perhaps this will help her out if prosecuted, but she still broke the law. One does have to pay the penalties in these situations, no? They make you sign secrecy agreements. She surely must have known the rules.

The illegality of her actions notwithstanding, as I said before I'm not ready to dismiss her as a fifth-column partisan hack. Her motivations don't really get her off the hook, but it's entirely possible she was doing what she felt was her patriotic duty. Of course, pro-Bush types will scoff at this, pointing out her political contributions as supposedly slam-dunk proof of her malice. Honestly, I'm going to wait and see how this plays out.

I do want to return to a larger point that I touched on a few months ago. Before I go any further, I feel am I forced to preface the proceeding statements with the fact that I am a committed supporter of the Global War on Terror, and I feel that the President must have broad tools in dealing with the terror threat. That being said, these powers must be checked by Congress and the Constitution. I do not believe the President has virtually unlimited power during wartime. I have serious concerns about the legality of the NSA wiretapping/warrantless surveillance program. It seems to me, and a whole slew of legal experts, that the way this program was implemented might be illegal. It goes against FISA. The arguments for the legality of this program are at least debatable. As I've said, it's not really the spying that bothers me, rather the underlying argument of inter arma, enim silent leges.

I watched those hearings intently. No one has yet to explain why submitting the program to FISA is bad. I understand that speed and flexibility are essential post 9/11. I get that. The thing that makes this whole thing tougher is that this program appears to have actually thwarted attacks. I don't want this program to die. I want the legal issues settled. For the record, despite my concerns, I thought the Feingold censure was ill-advised. It presumes a deliberate attempt to subvert the law, and bad faith. The question was asked, whether Bush and his team honestly believed this program was legal. I've no doubt that they do. They really believe in the whole idea of inherent authority in wartime. In their view, not only is the program legal, but FISA is actually unconstitutional. In their minds, it's not the President that's abusing power, but Congress. Oh yes, they believe in their argument, but they reject even the slightest possibility that their view is wrong. To them, the idea of debating this is undermining the war. All those Democrats and concerned Republicans are just playing politics. Who gives a damn about the law?

Of course there are those who see any attempt to fight the GWOT as another attempt by Bush to rule over us. To them, Iraq is an illegal immoral war, and Bush is to blame for everything. You've heard those rants before too.

The thing is, the underlying premise of "anything goes in war" is really driving a lot of furor on the pro-Bush right. That's why the fury is unleashed on the leakers, and the critics in the press, and Congressional Democrats, but not the administration. Shoot the messenger, in other words.

So, this new leak story will develop further, and the Right will bombard us with conspiracies about Democrats and the CIA trying to turn us all into dhimmis. Many on the right have committed themselves to the idea that Democrats are colluding with the enemy already, so this is just more red meat for them.

Once again, everyday Americans are subjected to the same lame exercise. Thankfully, the brave patriots actually fighting the war manage to rise above this nonsense. They've got more important work to do.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Euston Manifesto

There is a new liberal/progressive/Left-wing movement in the works, that involves a global commitment of discerning liberals committed to fight against terror. Most of them, like myself, are pro-war muscular liberals, but not all. There is diversity of opinion; not everyone was for Iraq, and there are obvious differences over other policy issues, but the overall mission is good. That is why I support it. I know it's a few days late, but here is their announcement:

Today, 13Apr06, we — bloggers, academics, campaigners, writers, scientists, journalists, citizens — launch the Euston Manifesto. With this document we hope to publicly assert our progressive, democratic, egalitarian, internationalist principles in the face of recent attacks upon them from the Right and, to our dismay, the Left.Many of us are of the Left, but we come from across the range of political positions. We are not founding a political party. There were differences amongst us over Western military intervention in Iraq. Our declaration is not definitive, final, or perfect; it is, we hope, the beginning of a renewed debate, grounded in a common set of progressive values. You can read and sign the document at our Website where donations towards our costs are also welcome.Comments are closed on this announcement alone because that is all this post is: an announcement. We simply want to launch this movement in a co-ordinated way and make sure there is time for people to understand exactly what we stand for before criticising it. We welcome discussion of the Euston Manifesto across blogs, in the media, and in the public world and intend that the Euston Manifesto Group, the organisation founded upon the manifesto's principles, will promote such debate by organising meetings, sponsoring seminars, and publishing ideas.

Think it over, and then stand up and be counted.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

England Expects Every Man To Do His Duty

And when you don't, you might find yourself in jail. As with all deserters, I've no sympathy for this scoundrel.

Monday, April 10, 2006

It's Been An Interesting Couple Of Days

OK, so Tom DeLay has given up his bid for re-election and given up his seat. At last, the long nightmare is over. DeLay was the living embodiment of all that was ugly and foul in the GOP, and the country is bettered by his departure, although I suspect that while DeLay is gone, DeLayism still endures.

The country is abuzz with more pro-immigration/anti-anti-immigrant protests. I still plan to do an extensive post on my thoughts on this issue.

To the woman who foolishly let that young boy's mother die: You've done wrong. You ALWAYS assume that the emergency is real, even when it's not. Lives hang in the balance.

Oh yeah, and a mutant, killer death-rabbit is loose in London. No, I'm not kidding.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Where There Is No Vision, Democrats Keep Losing Elections

The Democrtaic leadership has released their plan for national security. That's right, another one. The ideas aren't bad, they're just boring and unoriginal. You don't combat flawed leadership with uninspired leadership.

There's a great post on this over at Democracy Arsenal.