Saturday, June 30, 2007
Martinez was one of the architects of the failed immigration bill. There is a movement to attempt his recall, but there is no provision in either the Constitution or any other law for the recall of Senators. A more proper course of action would be wait until the next election, and on the meantime remove him from leadership of the Republican Party. By that time, the immediate outrage should have faded, and the decision could be made on his overall merits. When he ran for office, he said:
lambasted Democrats and Republicans who helped kill an immigration
bill in the Senate and challenged them to come up with a solution beyond
"just build a fence along the border."
"The voices of negativity now have a responsibility to come up with an answer. ... How will you fix the situation to make peoples' lives better? How will you continue to grow the economy? How will we bring people out of the shadows for our national security and for the sake of being a country that is just?" he demanded.
Our immigration policy, however, must first and foremost ensure the
security of our great nation and its citizens. Especially during these
treacherous times, our focus must be on preventing those who would harm us from
entering our country and in providing the resources our border agents need in
order to accomplish this. I oppose amnesty for illegal aliens. I support a plan
that matches workers with needy employers without providing a path to
citizenship. Immigration to this country must always be done through legal
Now, however, he has apparently changed his mind, and considers the 3/4 of the Senators in his own party plus the thousands of constituents who overloaded the Senate phone lines opposing the bill as "voices of negativity". Instead of selling the bill to his colleagues, according to Senator Reid he cooperated in an attempt to ram the bill through without giving other Senators a chance to properly examine it.
An article on the Daily Kos suggested:
The bill had plenty of built-in reasons to wish for its failure, includingBoth Martinez and the Democratic left are caricaturing the opposition to the immigration bill. While there are some opponents of the bill who are indeed racist, there are others who believe that a fence is necessary but not sufficient. There are other reasons to oppose the bill as it was proposed. Many citizens remember the 1986 "one time" amnesty program enacted under Ronald Reagan, and have seen that it did not solve the illegal immigration problem. Many have observed that the Border Patrol is undermanned, undermanned, and unsupported; legal immigrants have a hard time getting their paperwork through; and laws prohibiting the hiring of illegal immigrants are poorly enforced. There is a widespread impression that a border fence already approved and funded by Congress is not being built As a result, they do not trust that a shiny new government program to give the illegal immigrants a fast track to citizenship will be either fair or workable. Furthermore, as opponents struggled against the bill, there were claims circulating that the votes of some proponents were essentially bought and paid for by businessmen who benefit from illegal immigrant labor. The effort to identify them and who their sources were has apparently (and unfortunately) been dropped.
increasing demands for ugly impractical barriers along the border, the
institution of a second-class citizenry, and little to nothing to address the
underlying problems. Ironically, the bill's defeat was ensured by
Republicans who were convinced that none of these measures were tough enough.
They (as suggested by host Michael Feldman on the radio show Whatd'ya
Know), want to build a Great Wall of Mexico, looked over by the Colossus of
If the Democratic Party doesn't continue to put forward solutions -- say a package that includes higher rates of immigrations, sharply higher quotas for Central America, a clear path to citizenship, and enforcement that focuses on industries flaunting the current law -- this issue may fade into the background of a political season that's bound to be, once again, dominated by concerns over Iraq.
I also ought to mention, concerning the war in Iraq, for anyone who remembers hearing of "Tokyo Rose" from World War II, that US Soldiers fighting in Iraq are hearing the same things ... from our own media.
Friday, June 29, 2007
I had in mind commenting on my views on Israel. The Book of Mormon speaks of the restoration of the Jews to their ancestral home in several places. The resurrected Christ is quoted as saying,
And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people;
and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father. (3 Nephi 20: 29)
This is followed by other teachings in Latter-Day Saint scripture, for instance a Q&A on the Book of Revelation:
15 Q. What is to be understood by the two witnesses, in
the eleventh chapter of Revelation? A. They are two prophets that are
to be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the
restoration, and to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built
the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers. (D&C 77:15)
Many others on the same theme could be cited. As a matter of fundamental religious belief, then, I view the establishment of Israel as a homeland for the Jews as approved by God and a fulfillment of prophecy, although I don't expect that to be a persuasive argument for those who don't share my beliefs. A more general argument would be that blanket irrational hatred of other people is wrong, whether those other people are Hutus and Tutsis, illegal immigrants to the US from Mexico, conservative bloggers, liberal Democrats, Muslims in gneral, Palestinians, or Israelis. More particularly, I can't believe those whose hatred is so extreme that they send bombs to kill women and children, or even defend or excuse those who do, have the right of any argument.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I've seen a report that Senator Ted Kennedy likened immigration enforcement to "Gestapo tactics". Well, he might not have said it, I haven't been able to confirm it, but Geraldo certainly did. Really! Does anyone take this seriously? Where are the mass arrests of participants in demonstrations? The courts that always deport the accused? The concentration camps? The executions?
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff has also apparently complained about having to enforce immigration law. He says "when I have agents out hunting illegal lettuce pickers, waiters and housekeepers, they're not chasing drug dealers, criminals and terrorists", and says that lettuce and fruit are not getting picked because he has to enforce the law.
At first, I was pretty warm about this, but as I started looking up the sources, it turns out there's more to this than meets the eye. For one, he says although he doesn't like the laws, he's committed to trying to enforce them anyway.
For another, the kind of enforement he is doing involves hunting down people who have already arrived here and settled, sometimes years after they arrived and established households. To arrest and deport these people looks like piling injustice on top of negligence. I would support a path to citizenship, for those who haven't broken any other laws, though not ahead of those who have obeyed the law. There ought to be prevention before they settle rather than punishment afterward. Although I don't really like the idea of fencing the border...and it's not a complete solution, because fences, real or virtual, can be climbed over, cut through, and burrowed under, I don't see any other way around it. If the US government doesn't want groups such as the Minuteman Project trying to do the Border Patrol's job, they should give the Border Patrol enough men to do it themselves.
There's also a difficulty with enforcing the IRCA That's the law that requires those I-9 forms that every new hire is supposed to fill out. It's supposed to turn farms, hotels, garment factories, and restaurants (as well as all other employers) into INS...excuse me, that's ICE now... agents as well as tax collectors. But of course enforcement isn't a priority. The IRS and SSA bring in revenue. The ICE doesn't.
Many of these immigrants would happily enter legally, but legal immigration is a bureaucratic nightmare that can take years to navigate. The border is so porous that it's easier to just slide across it. What an industrious, reasonably responsible and mostly harmless person can do, drug-dealers, criminals, and terrorists can do even more easily. Then, they just have to hide in the crowd.
Chertoff also said: "if you start paying $1,000 an hour, I'm out there. But there's not going to be a lot of lettuce in the store because I don't intend to buy lettuce at $10,000 a head. So, I mean, these are the laws of economics and the reality",
Neither economics nor real: this is purest hyperbole. No one is going to pay that a hundredth that much, and if they did, it wouldn't cost ten times the hourly rate per head. But perhaps inadvertently, he does point to why Americans aren't thrilled about these kinds of jobs. Agricultural workers and waiters/waitresses are exceptions to the minimum wage laws, they and the housekeepers aren't paid benefits, and none of these kinds of jobs offer much scope for using even a high school education. The conditions documented in "Harvest of Shame" have improved, but not all that much.
I'm not at all impressed by rhetoric that wanting to secure America's borders is racist, because this argument could be just as well be used as a smokescreen for those who want to continue to exploit the underclass.
I don't see any way around the economic pull. As long as wages and working conditions in the United States are better than they are in Mexico, there will be Mexicans wanting to come here, legally or not. Ditto for any other country. About all we can do we can do is channel the flow, by making it harder to enter the US illegally and easier to do legally.
The more I look, the more I think it's not really fair to pick on Chertoff. He didn't make the ineffective and burdensome laws he's saddled with trying to enforce, and he's not the one who's responsible if Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement doesn't get the funding it needs. For both of these, look to Congress.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Although I don't claim any special expertise in either legislation or immigration policy and haven't studied the bill, I understand that most Senators haven't been given a chance to do so, either. I wonder about the tactics that are being used. Why is the Senate leadership trying to ram this through, especially when Senators are being inundated with phone calls opposing the bill? What's the tearing rush? I detect a whiff of something rotten.
The Book of Mormon devotes 20 chapters (Alma 43-63) to the military career of a commander named Moroni, who is presented as the premier example of the righteous warrior. (This ought to be required reading in Just War Theory ) It is recounted that Moroni became angry when faced a major act of treason, tore his coat, and the from it fashioned a flag which he called "Title of Liberty". It had the words:
In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our
wives, and our children.
written on it as his slogan. He made it the symbol of his cause, which became the defense of his people in a major war.
When the Iranian Revolution took place in 1979, the US Embassy was stormed and ,most of the occupants held hostage for some 10 months. Americans were shocked to hear their country described as "The Great Satan". This sparked a violent movement many Islamic nations, and numerous revolutionary groups, emboldened by the success of this movement, took to the streets of many nations. Some of these adopted terrorist methods, notably al-Qaeda.
At the time the US invaded Afghanistan shortly after 9-11-01 to hunt down al-Qaeda, I didn't have a strong opinion, but favored it rather than not. When the US invaded Iraq, I was dubious about it, but again more favored it than not.
After a couple of years of seeing revisionist propaganda which portrays President Bush instead of al-Qaeda as the enemy, after learning our forces have become a magnet for al-Qaeda, that it is focusing on our army there more than plots here, that al-Qaeda has been fomenting the sectarian violence in Iraq, and most recently that it practices such sadistic, brutal rule in areas where it had control, that the Iraqis are beginning to see al-Qaeda and not the American troops as their major enemy, it appears that we are actually winning!
To pull out and abandon now, would convincing all our enemies, especially al-Qaeda, that Americans are indeed spineless with no stomach for a long, difficult war. It would break the promise that we were going to help rebuild the country after freeing Iraqis from a brutal dictator. It would convince our allies that America is not to be trusted. It would give Iran, Syria, and Turkey the opportunity to divide Iraq among themselves. Finally, it would be an an example of treacherous politicians snatching defeat from the jaws of victory that their soldiers had won. If the military cannot trust Congress and the people to support them, why should anyone risk his life in the belief that America is worth defending?
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Title of Liberty
Part of it, I suppose, was that I saw that the leader of Regimental Combat Team 6 fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, was asking for e-mails of support, because his Marines seen the same media reports we here in the US do, and aren't certain that the American public knows what is going on or is supporting them. My first thought was shame, because here these men are, fighting, bleeding, and some of them dying, to fight an enemy that would take our freedoms if they could, and I sit at home in relative comfort, and do nothing.
I was reminded of a passage in the Book of Mormon, where a captain wrote to his government complaining of the lack of support for his men, saying
"Can you think to sit upon your thrones in a state of thoughtless stupor, while your enemies are spreading the work of death around you? (Alma 60:7)
In this particular case, the fault was that a treasonous cabal had overthrown the legitimate government and was conspiring with the enemy. Although the war described in the Book of Mormon was comparatively much larger in scale and the threats both internal and external were far more serious, I began to see a chilling similarity.
I was never in good enough physical shape to be fit for the military, I would have had a hard time with the discipline, and now I'm too old anyway. But the part of the war going on in this country, the battle of words and ideas...that one I can join.
So, which side am I on? I'm on the side of those who believe in God, families, faith, peace, freedom, truth, honor, and justice.
The enemy is those who worship the unholy trinity of money, sex, and power with secrecy, lies, theft, and murder, and their sympathisers, sycophants, and enablers. There are many of them. Just to name a couple of names, I'll start with al-Qaeda and Hamas, and work from there.