April 05, 2005

surgical strike: to provide for the common defense

I have been opining for some time that Homeland Defense is pretty much a joke in light of the lackadaisical attitude this administration takes toward border security. Not to mention container shipments at ports of entry. It is truly ridiculous that the US military cordons off entire nations while our home borders are said to be just too long to be protected.

Not that I am trivializing the magnitude of the task. I’m sure it is extraordinarily difficult and would require substantial resources to have something that approaches a secure border.

But in the context of the threats that have emerged in the last several years, I have trouble imagining what security issue could be more pressing. And while a few years back I had some sympathy with the notion that our borders were too long to be adequately protected, the progress of technology is making that argument increasingly hollow.

Undoubtedly I have little in common with the self-proclaimed Minutemen who have undertaken the task of defending our borders. If the accusations of vigilantism, bigotry or old-fashioned fascism turn out to be true, then I have even less in common with them than I already imagine. But still, I have to stand amazed that they are already having an impact.

According to the Associated Press, the Administration has finally today come out with plans to strengthen border protection. I can only expect that this will be one of a number of announcements that will be forthcoming in an effort to mitigate the damage to reputation being done by the Minutemen’s presence. I can only hope that unlike in other areas of political activity that perhaps this time there will be some substantive action. Action a bit quicker than the year 2008 would be nice too.

In the mean time, while I await the Government’s taking up of its constitutionally mandated task to provide for our defense, I will remain skeptical of claims of both virtue and depravity on the part of the Minutemen until the actual facts are in.

If the best does turn out to be true of them, however improbable that may be, then they deserve medals. But it would appear that even if the worst is true of them, they have performed for us a service for which we can all be thankful.

47 Comments:

Blogger Brackenator said...

After working for a technology company that put together a comprehensive technological solution for monitoring a huge coastline, miles of airspace, and more land than you could ever hope to visit in a lifetime. I am wondering why the US government has not sought to use this technology themselves.

I will admit it would take years, and it should be implemented in phases, but the end result could be the monitoring of the borders, especially land.

I am not sure how many of you remember Raytheon working with the Brazilian government on a project called SIVAM, but the end result is a somewhat functional central monitoring of all of Brazil's borders. I would be lying if I said it has no problems.

My poiint is, if Homeland Security has all of the money, why not used a multi-tier solution that combies border patrol with more technology.

Yeah, it may be boring to watch a bunch of sailboats off of Puget Sound, but at least we would know what the activity on our shores. It may be boring to watch the migration patterns of dear, or lizards, depending on the geography, but we would know what is happening on our borders.

Just a few thoughts from the mentally challenged corner.

Brackenator

1:16 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Aside from crazy Muslims trying to get in, what's the big deal with Mexicans coming over?

My uncle does construction work, and I know I've meet several workers of his that must have been illegal, working for whatever he pays them. I also have a friend who hires them to do yard work, etc. And according to my uncle, they are much better, harder workers than their American counterparts. I don't see the problem. I'm not worried about them blowing me up, and I don't buy that b.s. about using up all of our social spending taxes. You can't tell me they don't pay in more than they pay out.

I am sure the reason why the border isn't tightly controlled is because we want these people here. We don't want to open the floodgates and have them massively migrate all at once, but we DO want a steady trickle of them coming in. Is this only obvious to me?

Tony, exactly what service are they performing? What's the problem with just letting them in? Diversity makes America the most dynamic place in the world. Plus think about how crappy life would be without Mexican food.

Randy, if you are in construction, maybe you have some insight on the value of Mexican migrant laborers.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Man, I hope those guys on the border don't know about the technology where they give access to a rifle setup for hunting on one end, and an internet connection on the other.... you know, they can shoot Bambi from thier home with a PC and a mouse. That would be just wrong when it comes to border crossing. :)

3:50 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

That is exactly the point: we should let them in. By allowing it to occur illegally, they are creating an underclass that isn’t subject to minimum wage laws. Note how many of the rich and powerful have gotten slapped on the wrist for employing illegals. They know what they are doing.

In my mind, that is a rather poor exchange for a porous border that allows all kinds of unsuitable people and materials in. Note also that if the power elite REALLY gave a hoot about the War on Drugs, they would make this a priority. Clearly, like the WOT, the WOD is just so much milksop for the willingly led.

I think making the borders secure is just good common sense. I am very pro-immigration, but it shouldn’t just be open borders.

3:53 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

So how do we get them in legally without creating a massive rush for the bureaucrats to get bogged down into?

Is there a practical way to do that?

I guess the question is, why are people feeling so threatened by Mexicans. If you listen to Micheal Savage, Rush, or any of those guys, you'll hear their fear of Mexicans stealing their tax money, not learning English, and smuggling Muslim bomb experts in. That's an irrational fear they are playing like a fiddle to their listeners. Reminds me of that radio DJ in Hotel Rwanda that kept inciting violence against the Tutsi "traitors." There is a potential for some trigger happy Redneck to shoot some migrants who flee when they get spotted. When you have ego-maniac, self-righteous, "religous" men who are erroneously conviced they are "defending" themselves against "al Queida," and you give them "white supremacist liturature" and "guns," you are going to have some murders just like you had them in the 1960s South.

We need to keep our Redneck problem under the rug. These people are getting so emboldened now with this conservative trend they are actually arming themselves and are prepared to start hurting people.

Anyone seen deliverance? What about the movie with Gene Hackman and William Dafoe? Those films come to mind.

4:55 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I hope the President nips this in the bud somehow and publically threatens the most supreme consequences if anyone gets killed.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

As boring as it is I agree with you Curmie.

We need more border enforcement and we need the govt. to take a more active role in this.

What keeps me silent about this is the fact that this debate breeds a racist attitude towards hard-working Mexican-Americans that ARE here legally, do have a strong work ethic and purchase our goods and resources at a rate significantly higher than ANY OTHER RACE. There is such rancor and vitriol in tongue-jockeys like Michael Savage that when you see a landscaping crew there is a stigma that they are all illegals. Just take Yoshi's comment "I know I've meet several workers of his that must have been illegal". Hmm, how do you know? How do you know the guy behind the counter at CVS isn't an illegal from Canada? How do you know if the girl that hands you your soda at McDonald's doesn't add "ey" at the end of every sentence and is here on an expired F1? It's this asinine assumption that because someone has brown skin, they must be here illegal. THAT is what takes precedence over otherwise substantiate issues related to this debate. So when you see Hispanics up in arms over groups like the Minute Men, know that while most (if not all) will agree with you, the damage caused by the rancor in which the debate gestates is far worse than having illegal aliens cross the border to mow our lawns and drain our 7-11s of Big Red.

Ignorance will always damage any argument of substance. Just ask Yoshi.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

OK,

Construction as we know it and pay for it would cease to exist. Housing would go the way of up North...$300,000 for 2000SF. Talk about homeless. Or maybe it would put people back into an appropriate class for their wage. I do not know. I do know that as with your father I have found that the Mexican illegal is generally a hard working individual, honest (despite being illegal) and fair. I do think that what is necessary is an easier way to log and keep track of those who comes in. And there needs to be a better system for collecting taxes on their work in the US. I think honestly we need to change the tax code entirely and go to a sales tax instead of income. Nothing fair about taxing my income. period. But that is for a later or earlier discussion. There has been such a change in the dynamic of the workforce in the construction industry, from the 70's through the 80's and into the 90's, the shift has always been from the generally lower class citizen, the people that are mostly discriminated against, that is why they do not get paid a fair wage. Also, people talk about how they are stealing jobs from americans. I just do not see alot of americans competing for these jobs, and if they were and we thin the migrant population out we will be paying a lot more for things. I am in commercial construction now, but I had my own company in residential construction and it became increasingly difficult to price work and make money. So i guess there are two sides to every coin. I have a fundamental problem with an illegal population though. And I think it is niave to believe that if we continue to talk about pourous borders, the ones we have to keep out for our security will not be a problem. And if you think that 400,000 illegals in this country are not chewing up a little social money for medical facilities that can not track down and get money reimbursments, well... I remember having an illegal on one of our sites, when we did our SS number checks and realized he was illegal we had to let him go, the IRS fines although it is a slap on the wrist to a big company, you have to look at the welfare of the individuals on that site, those fines would seriously cut into the job specific budget. Peoples lives depend on how those budgets turn out. Anyway when we told him that he could not work for us until he got his card and became legal...guess what happened, suddenly he had torn his miniscus in his knee and we paid him for not doing anything for about 14 months...did not matter that he was illegal, and that he showed up on anothe rjobsite for another company. We got ripped. I believe they should have to be logged and bussed, illegals should not be able to partake of our benifits, but those that come in on a migrant worker, or work visa should have it all. IMO

5:39 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

And also Yoshi,

I this country, well state of TX, there was a policy that used to be pretty cruel. When ranchers caught a mexican, they cut one of his ears off, then sent him back across the border. Guess what happened to one eared mexican that came across. Yup they strung them up. This has always been a problem, and honestly these "rednecks" have a right to walk the border and arm themselves for protection. It is after all a free country. Unfortunately you have to wait until a crime is commited to prosecute in this country. Not that this is 100% the way it is done, but they have rights also.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Well, that is to say it is not unfortunate that you are innocent until proven guilty, just that when you know or are reasonably sure a crime will be commited you can't do anything until it is commited. That is what I mean by unfortunately.

7:07 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

Randy says:

"I remember having an illegal on one of our sites, when we did our SS number checks and realized he was illegal we had to let him go.."

"Construction as we know it and pay for it would cease to exist. Housing would go the way of up North...$300,000 for 2000SF."

Randy, you are right on. I worked for a general contractor a few years ago and one of my collateral duties were these SS number checks. We would get groups coming in to apply for work, maybe one fella spoke some English, and ALL had "regular" SS cards, astonishingly good forgeries in many cases. There's no telling how much they paid for these fake cards. It was hard to turn them away, and I didn't have the heart to report them (later, some turned up working for our subs who didn't check as thoroughly). We simply couldn't have gotten the work done without Mexican labor, and from what I saw, they were extremely hard workers, and skilled, as well. We have a large population of legal Mexican immigrants in our area, and also some of the least expensive housing in the nation. They aren't taking "our" jobs around here, there's plenty enough racism to go around to ensure that any native who wants to hammer boards together can get work.

Low housing costs benefit both the immigrants AND the native-born. But in my experience, most of these men were not looking to settle here, they were sending a LOT of their pay to their families back in Mexico. Our US Post Office at our airport was open 24/7, and on Friday nights, the line of Mexicans waiting to buy money orders to send home was unbelievably long.

7:52 PM  
Blogger someone else said...

Two comments:

1) The Minuteman are disturbing for their use of nationalist symbolism, their continuation of what's already been pointed out in this thread as a step up in the long-standing pattern of vigilantes at the border who kill or hurt immigrants crossing the border without papers, and for the breakdown of law and order at the border. I have some sympathy toward their feelings of disempowerment given that it probably is true (unfortunately for me) that the vast majority of the American public probably supports something other than the unspoken agreement betwen business elite and the immigration advocates--twenty years of cheap undcoumented labor followed by legalization. I think, without knowing all the details, that there are less chauvinistic, more decent ways to make your point.

2) More importantly, let's not forget that the reason why people immigrate here: the vast wealth of this country (and Europe) that's built on military, economic, and political conquest of Mexico and many other places. You don't really hear about endemic immigration problems at the Canadian border because they didn't get the same treatment.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

TexaCon,

You are so right…agreeing can be so … so … disagreeable. :-D

Just to clarify, I am totally in favor of letting people in…perhaps the level of illegal immigration added to that of legal immigration adds up to a number that is good policy. Perhaps the better number is in fact higher-I don’t know.

But what I feel strongly about is that if we can’t afford to just totally open the borders, and I just can’t see that as realistic, then we should admit people to the country as a matter of policy and not settle for just looking the other way. Letting these people in illegally creates other problems that should simply be avoided.

But again, it is blindingly obvious that the power-elite want to create an underclass that they can exploit because they aren’t legal and under the protection of our labor laws. Sadly, they are so obsessed with lining their own pockets that they let matters of national security slide. Like everything else in America, if you want to understand things, just follow the money.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony told me something on this subject that I totally agreed with, and wanted to make sure it got posted.

Paraphrasing... Tony can correct if required.

"We need to document everyone that comes across the border, because setting aggregate social policy requires we know who is here."

Tony was responding to my thought that I really didn't understand what the big deal was. In fact, I don't understand why someone has to wait so long to become a citizen. Seems a lot smarter to accept someone as a citizen with the same vested interest (rights) and burdens (taxes) as the rest of us. The sub-culture just doesn't make sense to me. His point was, regardless of whatever the number per year we accept and whatever the citizenship rules are... we still need to know who is here and in what status to set social policy. I totally agree on that point. They say the retiring old folks aren't going to have enough workers to cover their social security... maybe an influx from the south is a solution. Besides, the way this country is preparing for two classes of citizens... those who own international conglomerates that don't pay taxes, and the rest of us who provide services to them... we are going to need plenty of people to serve the wealthy.

8:39 PM  
Blogger cogentnotion said...

I'd like to add a thought (or two) to the fray. First, just to point out that those illegal workers who are working under assumed SSNs are actually contributing to the tax base, while they may be responsible for a disproportionate amount of financial defaults at medical centers, they are also pouring $$ they can never claim into a hemmoraging system.

Oh yeah, and that system, call it what you want, the American Way, Democracy (red flag, watch out!), commercialism, every man for himself, whatever you want to call it, it's broken and not only bleeding, but limping along dragging one foot and cradling it's left arm. The amount of change required to fix it, will almost certainly erradicate the original system.

Do I know where to start? No way. Do I want to try? I'm just trying to survive here, I'll try and find the time while I'm dodging the next bullet that threatens my own sovreignty. There in lies the rub, my friends, have you looked out the window? The wings are on fire and somewhere Nero is playing a jaunty little tune.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Hey Tony and everyone, I sent an e-mail to President Bush and some of the states of the Mexico border(the day after that I heard that they was going to talk about "The New Patriot Act". I included that it allow people to volunteer such as myself and ex-law enforcers and ex-military be able to patrol, detain, and turn over any illegal aleins to the INS. I told them that 8 people patrol a ten mile stretch of the border with a detainment center in the middle made of a chain link fenced in area (12'x12'x12') with a GP mudeium or GP Large tents to give it cover. They would need a few vehicles to drop the people off and pick them up, as well as radio commications of course. I even asked the Governors to ask the surrounding law enforcements that are able to and willing to protect this nations border to volunteer to get to know rest of the volunteers and to know that most of us are doing it for one reason and that is "We love this nation and are willing to give our lives for it to protect it!" I included that they should be allowed to carry a weapon, just in case it is needed and this is why I stated only ex-military and ex-law enforcement to be able to do it, unless they can prove that they have had weapons training to carry a weapon, Thanks you all and can't wait to hear what you all think, so please e-mail me with your thoughts.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Let me start by saying, yes, most of these illegal imigrants have SS cards and drivers licences, and those that work at legitimate establishements that pay payroll taxes and SS taxes do put something into the system. However, most and I mean most of these illegals are working in cash only industries and get 1099's instead of W-4's and therefore never put into the system, and all of them at some point use the medical system. I will add however that most of these individuals are honest hardworking people. Most do pay their bills, but after a couple of years or the younger generation that comes in are getting just a lazy and disrespectful as most americans are. We like to call them americanized mexicans, instead of mexican american. It all relates to history though, those of us who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it....over and over and over. As a culture assimilates itself into the american society, they becaome a lower class of citizen and are therfore taken advantage of..low wages, no benifits that sort of thing. As they begin to realize they are being used and what they haveis not the "american dream", but it is something that even though here, still out of reach this is when gangs start and trouble begins. Vicious cycle and we are doomed to repeat it. Our options, close the border and lock it down. heck I am OK with this, I am already here. ;} All kidding aside, we have to maintain some form of control on the situation, our border can not be pourous. And I will say this also, when we figure out the southern border and seal it up tight, where do you think the trouble will come from, THE NORTH. If we are afraid of the southern border because terrorists could get through there, how long will it takae after we shut it for the terrorists to realize that we don't want to offend our northern neighbor and that border is going to be even harder to plug, talk about vast, at least down south you have a pretty good line of sight. Try that up north. NO Way. These illegals do serve a purpose in our society, and they should be allowed to legally come across and work on visas, some won't want ot stay they love mexico, just can't raise a family there. On thing that would help, is to quickly generate some capital down there and start some unions to raise salary rates, then they would be just like us, and it would no longer be profitable to ship parts to the US, repack them ship them to mexico for assembly, then ship them back to the US for repackaging and them ship thtem to stores. I think the answer is to lower the minimum wage in the us. This would also drive down the illegal wages and it would not be profitable enough for them to come across. There problem solved.

Just kidding, I think that minimum wage is outrageous right now and needs to be seriously adjusted. I also think that if we have to establish a minimum wage we should also establish salary caps. There chew on that one.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

cogentnotion,

Hey there and welcome to the fray. BTW, awesome handle!

I agree with what you said about illegals. But my point is that even if they are a net positive benefit, we still should be admitting them to this country on a legal basis and not just turning our heads. It is hard to develop a coherent set of policies when you have no control of the situation. How do you plan when you have no idea what the numbers are? And couldn’t we provide a better (better would include cheaper) health-care solution than the Emergency Room?

8:32 AM  
Blogger Andrew Dunlap said...

Raising the minimum wage would eliminate to some extent, the need for illegal workers. If wages were high enough, americans would take those jobs. The current situation benefits both conservatives who want the permanent under-class and liberals who want a constituency.Congress has no incentive to change the status quo, even though there is a lot of talk. As far as homeland security goes, Bush would rather spend 200 bil on a war than spend money here in the states. For the most part, the funding is being misspent on all kinds of nonsense and there really isn't any coherent plan to secure the borders.

As far as the minutemen are concerned, they are at least trying to bring attention to the problem. No one can justify allowing anyone and everyone coming illegally. It's not our problem that these people don't have opportunities in their own country. It is not racist to protect our borders. Legalize it, make it easy to come here to work, regulate the jobs, make sure employers are paying ss benefits etc, and crack down on the offenders.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

Let's start with salary caps for PUBLIC company CEO's. That will be a glorious day when we pass that law, and a warning shot aimed at corporate america. These are all great debates in CurmLand, but I'm afraid fate is already sealed. Corporations and their think tanks own our government, and we aren't ever going to get it back. We will have two classes of citizens. If your dwelling doesn't have perimeter fencing, I have bad news for your future.

OT Humor: Leno:

"As you know, Falwell recently has spent time in the hospital. Fortunately, the doctors have upgraded his condition from "serious" to "judgemental"."

:)

9:46 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Actually, public company CEO compensation is just a symptom of the central problem of a "self-interest first, get yours" society. That said, revamping the Public company construct is way overdue, IMO. Stockholder and Executive Board/Club checks and balances was a nice theory, but has proven an abject failure.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Thomas,

Heard back from President Bush yet?

1) Non-border control employees and non-police/federal agents (i.e. citizens) policing the border is racist.

2) It's also vigilantism... not even close to the same as a neighborhood watch.

BUT

Our government continues to fail us in many ways, and protecting the border is one of them. At some point, one has the choice of taking measures they normally wouldn't choose, or just accepting the status quo. I'm not informed enough to know the motives of the founding of the Minutemen. If they think their actions are acceptable as a permanent solution, then I'm against them. If it is a form of protest.. then I think you could make the case they had no choice in order to have a chance to make a change. Even if they knew their actions would attract some real hate mongers... the greater good could still be served if their protests actually are successful in getting the attention of our idiot leaders. I've heard one of the founders talk in terms of a march in Washington after a month. That surely sounds like the motives come from the right place. IMO, required citizen activism is inversely proportional to the quality of our leaders/government. It's a much more dangerous society when your leaders are inadequate. Of course, I'm convinced the masses they are leading are inadequate also... but surely given the size of the US gene pool we could at least find a couple hundred excellent choices. Excellent choices would moderate the theocracy crowd, and make sure the government belonged to the people rather than the corporations. Excellent leaders would recognize that the current Senate rules need to change... one party should no longer be allowed to own the agenda, regardless of which party was the majority. Excellent leaders wouldn't lie us into a war under false pretenses. Excellent leaders wouldn't tell us our current trade agreements are good for all of us, and wouldn't tell us all we have to do is out-compete that Indian or Chinese making 1/10th your wage. Excellent leaders wouldn't justify leaving 45 million without health insurance, but considering Tort reform a national priority. Anyone holding their breath waiting for that America?

btw... Thomas, let us know when Shrub calls.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

It seems you are struggling against the logical conclusion of your own observations. First you say,

one party should no longer be allowed to own the agenda, regardless of which party was the majority.

And then you continue on to tell us all this stuff that excellent leaders would do. Honestly, if you look at it carefully it is obvious that the problem is that these people have a political agenda. By forcing ourselves onto a two-way axis you are guaranteeing that the majority part will own the agenda.

I genuinely appreciate your honesty and transparency in discussing your personal journey to a new set of socio-political values. But I still think you are blinded by the fact that one party appears to agree with you substantially. If Gore or Kerry had won the elections, we would just be enduring partisanship with a different focus. The litany of wrongs would be different, but in final analysis we would still have the same big problems we have today because these leeches are in it for themselves, not for the public good.

Only by creating viable alternative parties can we get out of this morass and get to a place where the winner does not take all. Only by creating more options will there be a necessity on the part of our leadership to seek compromise rather than exploit artificial divisions.

11:01 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Hey, I have the perfect solution. Let's not only cut off Mexican immigration. Let's cut off all movement of labor and goods across borders. Hell with just Mexico. Let's make it so New Mexicans are gaurding the TX/ New Mexico border. And close all the airports too. Maybe we should put walls around are cities, so Fort Worth citizens can't travel to Dallas (since Dallas citizens feel superior to us anyway). Maybe we could even put fences around our houses.

Hmm, what about firewalls blocking all websites, that's a form of movement too, right?

And NAFTA, that needs to go. It's taking Americans jobs. Plus we get all those cheap Microsoft game systems and automobiles on account of manufacturing across the border. We need to get rid of that. I want to pay 4x more for those goods. Plus I want to pay more for housing too. I think if we do this, we should go all the way. It's the principal you know. We shouldn't have our cake and eat it too.

This is about one thing, and one thing only. And it isn't "security" at the border. None of us here are afraid of terrorists sneaking in down there. There are better ways to get in, and it's not that hard. It's called the airport.

Here's the solution: Go to Barnes and Noble and get a Introductory Spanish book. You're going to need it cause they are Catholic and have lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of kids. 13 or 14 is normal to get married and start popping them out. Careful what you wish for when you get rid of birth control in a society!!!!!!!!! Cause the brown skin people you fear just might listen to you!!!!!

Additionally, I always imagined in the next 50 years there would be a North American super-state anyway. There would be three capitals for sentimental, nationalistic B.S. reasons, but for all practical purposes, it would be one mega-nation. Well, I guess that is what NAFTA is, right? Just the free movement of labor hasn't started yet. It's coming though, once the security gets worked out.

Anyone agree with that?

11:02 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

The following was posted by someone on the NYTimes forum... Thomas Friedman's forum. I post it here, because I think it's related... i.e. imported labor, outsourcing American jobs, corporations driven by a bottom line and no interest in where the labor comes from or if it is treated as "plug and play from the cheapest source".

Outsourcing jobs is also outsourcing consumbers.

"Outsourcing: Two Dimensions
Messrs. Friedman, Dobbs, et al ~ have done a pretty good job of bringing to The Conversation the notion and perils inherent of outsourcing "jobs".

In a sense, this is not reporting a story; rather, it is an historical accounting of something that has already happened.

What is not so evident to everyone is that "Labour" is not only a "worker", but also a "consumer".

For every "job" that is destroyed, dislocated or dumbed-down, there is a "customer" whose buying power is diminished.

This (the two dimensions of Labour) is important to uderstand because: it is not only the Middle-Class means of production that Americans are exporting, it is also our very means of participation in the marketplace that is threatened.

Already, for one example, most middle-class Americans find themselves wearing Third World sweatshop cotton clothing, in a sense ~ what we used to call "gym clothes" ~ as a kind of "National Uniform". For most, the idea of purchasing better-made, more diverse or even 'individualized' European or American goods, is moot: because they can no longer afford to do so.

The "well dressed" exist, in the main, only on American films and television, not in the viewing audience. Media is no longer a "mirror" of us: it is a stark pronouncement of the difference between "Survivor" and "Disenfranchised". There is little difference between the appearance of, say ~ illegal immigrants, and legal resident, middle-class Labour: they are both an "underclass".

Outsourcing CONSUMERS : what happens NEXT."

11:03 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

" By forcing ourselves onto a two-way axis you are guaranteeing that the majority part will own the agenda."

The two party system definitely has it's flaws, although I think it has it's positives also. We will just have to agree to disagree that the two party system serves no positive purpose. I'm suggesting correcting some of the flaws. However, I don't buy two of your beliefs. 1) that the GOP and the Dems are equal. The Dems have a moral platform with inadequate leaders. The GOP has an immoral platform and inadequate leaders. 2) that unless you get rid of the two party system, any other measures are pointless.

Regarding #2: The polarization in the Senate is pretty obvious. You don't need to watch to know that... just look at the votes, one after the other on party lines. I don't have a fix for that... I'm waiting for your solution to the two party system. (btw... have you ever spelled out what that would look like?) That said, it doesn't take long to observe that some Senate rule changes would have a major impact. It's ludicrous that a 50/50 nation gets the it's national agenda priorities set by one party. The GOP gets to pick everything it cares about, and tables or postpones any concerns from the other side. It would be exactly the same problem if the Dems were in charge. Where is the "checks and balances" in that. A simple rule change could help bigtime. The GOP picks the first priority item up for bat, and then the Dems pick the next one. The GOP picks tort reform, and the Dems pick health care or trade policy and jobs. To me, our government just improved the day that Senate rule change is invoked. I think we need some rules changes also on appointing judges. It makes no sense that a party that has the presidency and a majority in the Senate should be allowed to rubber stamp (i.e. assembly line) any judges in they want. I would take the president completely out of the equation, and again, alternate between the GOP and Dems in the Senate for judge nominations.

A one party rule of the agenda has no upside that I can see.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

I would suggest blowing up Gary Winnick's fiber optics under the ocean for about a decade... until we can plan for the inevitable. Part of that 10 years would be spent a complete restructure of "get a job prep education of kids" and "ongoing lifetime continued education of adults". Tony is relentless on the quality of education, but that's only part of it going forward, IMO. The days of my 4 years spent at Oklahoma State University on bs classes that had nothing to do with my future career will be over. The "well rounded" stuff has to become optional. An adult will either be interested in that in their lifetime, or they won't. The economy and jobs are dependent on the "get a job education". We can survive most of the nation not being intellectually curious if most have jobs. On the other hand, a bunch of intellectually stimulated humans without jobs will mark our end. It's the economy, stupid. Of course, in order to map US citizen's to job skills, you have to know what the jobs are. You can't ignore your society saying overnight... well, IT is over now in the US as you knew it before. There has to be some forecasting of future, existing US jobs to "get a job education".

Yoshi, did you read Thomas Friedman's recent Op-Ed on "The World is Flat"? I'm out there under on the NYTimes forum as dorf5758. Our buddy Friedman basically says... hey America, just wake up and go out-compete that Indian and Chinese making 1/10th your salary. Sometimes I think Friedman shouldn't venture out beyond the middle east politics... where I think he is awsome. Anyway... where I'm going with this... Friedman says create more Scientist and Engineers in America. I have a couple of observations/problems with that. One, it really doesn't matter how brilliant a scientist you are if you can't get a job because someone else can do it for 1/10th the salary. Most of us just fill a job slot... we will never create a patent or invent something that creates a industry or new types of careers. Maybe 1 in a million (pick your number) will have that effect. Well, the US can't produce 1 millions scientists to find that one if it means the rest are unemployed. The math is simple.. it works out poorly. So what's the solution... do we be honest with the population and point out that unless you think you will be that 1 in a million, you should choose another career. My numbers may be way off, but I think the point is valid. The rules of the game are/have changed. It's not as simple as "just pick a college degree now in you can have a long carerr". Mapping young lives (education) now will require some form of forecasting.. and that automatically means we have to include current political will into those forecasts. If the government sticks with 100% laissez faire "eat your own kill, you are on your own"... then the young adult and colleges (or whatever the new contructs become) must take proactive measures on their own. That's very GOPish... take personal responsibilty. That all fine Mr. Senator... but you see, I have to know what your vote is on trade policy before I can be personally responsible.

If dumb old me can see these dilemas from home, why doesn't the president ever talk about this? Is he really that dumb that he doesn't get this... or really that evil that he doesn't care. I guess there is a third option... we are all toast, there are no solutions, and they just don't want to break it to us yet. :(

Yoshi, do you know anything about explosives and scuba diving? Just kidding... if Homeland security is out there monitoring CurmLand. Yoshi, here's the real kicker. Not only did Winnick's Global Crossing go a long way to threaten my IT career, but I was also a substantial stock holder. As you might guess, I'm not a Winnick fan. :)

11:59 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

Actually, I am concerned about terrorist and materials sneaking across the borders. I think it is a serious threat. I think the coasts are more vulnerable than land crossings, but that is just a technical detail.

Just because some of the people who advocate secure borders do so out of racist motivations, it does not follow that is what we all are thinking.

Your Fort Worth/Dallas border things is interesting. I work in Fort Worth and live in Carrollton. It would be a bummer to have to cross Checkpoint Charlie to get to work. But now that I think about it, it might not be as bad as the traffic on I-35E.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

OK. I’ll agree to let you be wrong on two-party thing.

I can’t fathom why it is so hard for people to see that having only two players in a game means that one side is going to win, the other will lose. Your advocacy of simple rule changes is naïve. Exactly what is the impetus to institute those changes? And if you made those changes, how could you make sure it would stay that way? I’ll answer so that I can be sure you get it right: zero impetus to change, and no way to prevent the winner from taking all.

You ask, ” I'm waiting for your solution to the two party system. (btw... have you ever spelled out what that would look like?)

No, never really saw spelling it out as necessary. I’m a bit confused why it seems complicated. Almost every other democratic government operates with more than one party. They have to wrangle for consensus to govern. I think that is exactly what you said you want.

To say it a different way, if today the GOP comes out and says, “We stand for Black”, the then Dems generally will respond with, “We stand for White”. If you doubt this, look at the budget “battles” over the years. They aren’t battles, just scripted attempts to take opposing positions. If there was a third party advocating Yellow, and better yet a fourth party advocating Green, we could for a change have an actual discussion that is not in political terms.

And that is the bottom line for me: more parties implicitly restrict the political posturing. Sure, it doesn’t eliminate it. And even in a multi-party environment you get some of the same behavior when one party sides with the other to create a ruling coalition. But it is greatly reduced and the elections tend to bring out issues more so than our dumbed down Madison Avenue produced election circus.

You said, ”A one party rule of the agenda has no upside that I can see.” With that I totally agree. But what you aren’t seeing is that what we have is phony. The system insures that at any moment, one party will dominate the agenda. The sure loser in this winner-take-all sport is the American people.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

There is basically one basic battle going on... "we are all in this on our own" or "we are all in this together". I see NO EQUAL in that statement. I am definitely a "we are all in this together platform type of a guy". Adding a third party won't significantly change that battle. The public can't decide the answer to that question, so you could have 10 parties and we would still be polarized. What would be the platform of a third party... "we are kind of in this together".

You pretty much said we can't have permanent rules in the Senate. You are the lawyer... you must be right. :)

1:04 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

OK, so what you are saying basically is “give up, we are toast anyway”.

Now, from an Eschatological standpoint I would agree that this World system is indeed doomed. But we don’t know when. For me the question is how do we act in the mean time. How do we treat each other and wish to be treated. Answers to those questions compel an effort out of concern for our fellow man.

And I disagree whole-heartedly that a 3rd party could make a difference. You are correct that a key voice for social justice is missing in our society. How can you be so certain that the problem isn’t the false two-party political straightjacket we are in? There was a Day when the Republicans were agents for social justice. And a more recent day when Democrats were those agents.

I think more parties would give a stronger voice to the social justice constituency as well as the civil liberty constituency. I’m not sure how it would fall out, but I would imagine we would end up with a centrist party, a moderate left party (social-democrats), a moderate right party (moderate GOP types) and then some extremists in the wings. How this situation is less than obviously far superior to the ultra-stupidity with which we presently suffer is beyond me.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

btw... Obi Wan Curmudgeon, it's really nice for us naive types who can't see clearly to have a sanctuary here.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

"OK, so what you are saying basically is “give up, we are toast anyway”."

You can't read. I didn't say that. Why would I say that, when my point was proposing Senate rules changes that would obviously help.

"You are correct that a key voice for social justice is missing in our society."

Didn't say that either. The Dems are the voice of social justice. They are way to willing to compromise in my opinion, but they are the "collective social justice party". That should be obvious.

"How this situation is less than obviously far superior to the ultra-stupidity with which we presently suffer is beyond me."

I know. I have tried to be gentle with you.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

You said, “it's really nice for us naive types who can't see clearly to have a sanctuary here.” You are welcome. This is part of my deepest desires and subject of my most fervent prayers: to help poor souls such as yourself to find a clear path.

Rest assured, you have come to the right place. The first step to healing is to admit you have a problem.

You may have noticed that the Sub-title changed here at the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon: “Clear-headed thinking for a media drenched age”. I won’t rest until I get all of you straightened out.

:-D

1:28 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Yes you did say that we should just give up. You said that adding more voices to the mix would not affect the outlook of people on social justice. You have said time after time that you thought we were pretty hopeless. I think my conclusion of your outlook is very consistent with what you have said.

While you did suggest some Senate rules changes, when I then pointed out that they could easily be changed by the majority anytime they choose to, you seemed to concede that point.

Now, if you think the Dems are bona-fide voice for social-justice, I just don’t think I may be able to help you after all. This goes back to what I’ve been saying for some time: you have been suckered by the lip service. This is no different than the hordes of GOP backers that have been sucker (as I was) by their rhetoric. Totally rolling over is not compromise.

And why would you start being gentle now? Did I make you mad? Nothing ticks me off more than somebody pulling punches.

Ah, I get it…

1:35 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

"Yes you did say that we should just give up."

Not in this thread.

"You said that adding more voices to the mix would not affect the outlook of people on social justice."

Yes... if you are talking about us... the citizens. We are split on our own regardless of the voices coming from Washington. That could be 2 voices or 10 voices coming from Washington... we will still be what we are. Those guys can add fuel to the fire... but they aren't the ones who created the split... we did... we don't all agree on basic ideas like "what we will pool together and what we won't".


" You have said time after time that you thought we were pretty hopeless."

Not on this thread.


So if we have 12 idiots in a room trying to make a decision, 4 groups of 3 will make better decisions than 2 groups of 6. Interesting.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Well, I am not sure what other people think, but picking up every special interest to get votes, and then not doing what they say, IMO is not the social justice party. That to me is the party that forces the line to be drawn in the sand. And frankly the way they have acted in the past leads me to believe that there is not a single one out there that is compromising, so I can not imagine that they have been too compromising. IMO

3:11 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Doh! I overlooked the most obvious needed rule change for electing lifetime judges. It should require a super-majority vote. What were those founders thinking? :)

3:38 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I am curious to hear anyones opinion on this email i received today

The Omission From the New W.W.II Memorial


Today I went to visit the new World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. I got an unexpected history lesson. Since I'm a baby boomer, I was one of the youngest in the crowd. Most were the age of my parents, veterans of "the greatest war" with their families. It was a beautiful day, and people were smiling and happy to be there. Hundreds of us milled around the memorial, reading the inspiring words of Ike and Truman that are engraved there.

On the Pacific side of the memorial, a group of us gathered to read the words President Roosevelt used to announce the attack on Pearl Harbor: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941-- a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked."

One woman read the words aloud:

" With confidence in our armed forces, with the un bounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph."

But as she read, she was suddenly angry. "Wait a minute," she said.

"They left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt said: "so help us God."

"You're probably right," her husband said. "We're not supposed to say things like that now."

"I know I'm right," she insisted. "I remember the speech" The two shook their heads sadly and walked away.

Listening to their conversation, I thought to myself, "Well, it has been 50 years. She's probably forgotten."

But she was right.

I went home and pulled out the book my book club is reading. It's "Flags of Our Fathers" by James Bradley. It's all about Iwo Jima. I haven't gotten too far in the book. It's tough to read because it's a graphic description of the battles in the Pacific.

But right there it was on page 58. Roosevelt's speech to the nation It ends "so help us God."

The people who edited out that part of the speech when they engraved it on the memorial could have fooled me. &n bsp;I was born after the war. But they couldn't fool the people who were there. Roosevelt's words are engraved on their hearts.

WHO GAVE THEM THE RIGHT TO CHANGE THE WORDS OF HISTORY?????????

Send this around to your friends. People need to know before everyone forgets.

People today are trying to change the history of America by leaving God out of it, but the truth is,
God has been a part of this nation, since the beginning. He still wants to be...

9:30 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

"I am curious to hear anyones opinion on this email i received today"

Opinion: I think some people have a bit of a persecution complex. I think if it's your nature to believe in superstition, you are easily convinced/lead.


WWII Memorial Fiction

10:44 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

CG thanks for the heads up, I am glad I only sent it to 100 people to help stir up the anti-christian atmosphere that abounds everywhere.....

"They are out to get us" SSHHHH they might hear me

12:41 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

OK so CG, I am going to send all these to you for fact checking...OK

12:49 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Back to the subject matte at hand.

Anybody know more about the three "viginanties that "restrained" the illegal and made him hold a t-shirt stating that they had caught an illegal.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Mr. P,

Tony is the master at surfing out fiction or fact on the internet. I think his favorite website is Snopes.com .

9:57 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Snope is good thank you.

I am trying to remember why the minutemen are not a good thing on our borders, anyone have an opinion on this. Seems to me even though they may have less than honorable pasts, they are still providing a service that the Govt at this point can not fulfill and it is costing us nothing. Except the tripped sensors and false alarms. I am kinda thinking as long as they are not breaking any laws the Border Patrol should embrace them and have better communications so this does not happen in the future.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

I don’t think there is any reliable information available on what is happening out there in the desert. I’m reserving judgment for now though I can’t help but question the motives of people taking so much time out of their lives to go patrol the desert. But as I said in my original post, if they have good intentions and reasonable maturity for the task, more power to them.

4:07 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Tony Plank said...

"Actually, I am concerned about terrorist and materials sneaking across the borders. I think it is a serious threat. I think the coasts are more vulnerable than land crossings, but that is just a technical detail."

Okay, I know not everyone are racists that want to keep out hispanics. But let's think about the terrorists coming in this way.... crossing through the desert in Arizona? Why don't they just dig a hole through the planet to get here from Asia? And are they going to drag a nuclear bomb across with them on a little wagon? Have you driven through Arizona? There isn't much out there but hot sun and desert. You MIGHT make it across by walking, BUT YOU ARE NOT BRINGING ANYTHING BUT THE CLOTHES ON YOUR BACK. The way these people portray it you'd think they were driving Abrams tanks across. Have they even caught one Muslim crossing that way? I don't think so.

Now once they get in, they'll be as obviously out of place as possible, Arab guys in New Mexico and no valid ID probably won't make it too far. Some cop would pull them over, or they'd get caught at the rental car place....

I think WE SHOULD WANT them to come come in this way. Then we can keep our eyes on them and get them as they go to the Garden Center to buy a bunch of fertilizer. Let those flies fly right into our spider web.

I don't think anyone seriously believes this is about anything except a bunch of Macho guys who need a little more action in their sitting-on-their-ass-and-watching-TV-all-day lives. I'm one of them myself, so I reserve the right to call them out on it. I mean, if they hate Mexicans so much, and they have some masculinity to prove, let them take up boxing and go into the inner cities. Of course, then they'll get their has-been white asses kicked, so instead they go hang out on the borders to pick on the weak, desparate ones.

I'm on dial up for a while, that's why you'll see me less often....

8:36 PM  

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