Saturday, March 22, 2008

Henley's foresight pays off

Jim Henley takes a moment from his busy cable news/talk show circuit schedule to review some of the reasoning behind his decision to oppose the Iraq War before it started.

. . . you didn’t have to be a libertarian to figure out that going to war with Iraq made even less sense than driving home to East Egg drunk off your ass and angry at your spouse. Any number of leftists and garden-variety liberals, and even a handful of conservatives, figured it out, each for different reasons.

. . .

What all of us had in common is probably a simple recognition: War is a big deal. It isn’t normal. It’s not something to take up casually. Any war you can describe as “a war of choice” is a crime. War feeds on and feeds the negative passions. It is to be shunned where possible and regretted when not. Various hawks occasionally protested that “of course” they didn’t enjoy war, but they were almost always lying. Anyone who saw invading foreign lands and ruling other countries by force as extraordinary was forearmed against the lies and delusions of the time.
Before the war, Henley was laboring in obscurity on his blog, raising doubts about the veracity of the government's reports and questioning the intelligence and sincerity of the government's most faithful supporters. And just look at him now!

Friday, March 21, 2008

USCIS in urgent need of reform – Sexual coercion charges brought against USCIS officer

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the principal immigration agency in the U.S. and successor to the INS, is in dire need of reform from top to bottom.

The agency has completely failed to keep up with the predictable (and predicted) surge in naturalization applications last year stemming from upcoming elections and a substantial fee increase for naturalization applications—from $400 to $675. In addition, a new instance of bribery and malfeasance at USCIS in New York shines light on a system predicated on arbitrary decisionmaking and very little oversight, conditions that breed corruption and abuse.

Preemptive Update: After writing most of this post, I saw that Nina Bernstein at the NY Times has blown the Baichu story wide open (I initially saw a shorter version reported in the NY Daily News). I’ll definitely have more to say about this later.

[Continued at Citizen Orange]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

U.S. immigration law resources for migrants

Damn Mexicans had a post up a while back mentioning that people had been asking about where to find immigration information online. In belated response, I’m including below some resources, many of which I use on a regular basis in my work. I can’t say much about message boards since I don’t visit most of them—from what I’ve seen, there is a little good information and a lot of bad. Also, some of them have been overrun by trolls.

[Continued at Citizen Orange]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

steno yave: Atrios edition

I can't improve much on this:

For various reasons I've been rather uninterested in getting into the weeds of the Wright issue, though obviously it's the case that we've had decades of prominent and popular white conservative preachers blasting the evils of America and no one has much cared.

Aside from disparate treatment of left and right and black and white in our mainstream discourse, there's also a difference in the basic narrative provided. The narrative from the Right - and its representatives in the conservative religious community - is of an America which was once the garden of Eden, until its tragic fall at the hands of (feminists, liberals, civil rights movement, whatever), and they wish to bring the country back to its former state. Thus they can hate the America that is while dreaming of the perfect America that was. Thus there's no conflict between their unquestioned patriotism and their hatred of the country, as their patriotism is for the True America that was, not its current corrupted incarnation

While the mirror image rhetoric from the Left is about a country which was flawed, often tragically so, but which has the capacity for improvement. Be disgusted with the country as it was and is, while hoping for an evolution to a better country.

everyone knows nothing at all

IOZ, when not warbling about the transcendence of abstention, tells the story of Big Shitpile in a way we, the newly (or oldly) cynical, can understand:

Consider Bear Stearns, who was once as handsome and tall as . . . Well, consider anyway this throwaway line and quite common sentiment these days:

“The problem is bigger than the Fed,” said Meredith A. Whitney, an Oppenheimer financial services analyst. "Trillions of dollars of securities were underwritten on the false assumption house prices could never go down on a national basis. That falsehood has put the entire financial system in a tailspin."

Right. And we all believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and he kicked out the inspectors, and oil would pay for the war, and there will be no permanent military bases. Ladies and gents, boobs and rubes, the falsehood Ms. Whitney--and plenty of others--identifies is a fine tall tale for house-flippers and the jerks who think they're going to hit it Buffet style on eTrade, but the people who run all those "financial services" know that there's no such thing as economic escape velocity. That which goes up must come down. Anyone who knew anything, admittedly a vanishing category these days, knew not only that housing prices could go down on a national basis, but banked on the fact that they would. The run-up was all smoke, mirrors and profit-taking, and the downturn, even in these early stages, will be all about the massive transference of wealth from the public coffers into the so-called private sector.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

John McCain tips 9%

Yes, it’s true. Also:

  • John McCain cheats at computer Scrabble.
  • John McCain wants you to open a Roth IRA.
  • John McCain reuses plastic utensils.

So does my dear grandma, but she doesn’t want to bomb Iran!

Via Yglesias.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

enforcement through attrition: a success story

The restrictionist strategy of enforcement through attrition claimed another hardworking taxpayer last week. A Brooklyn woman finally gave up her fight to stay in this country. Already past retirement age, she works long nighttime shifts caring for disabled people. Her employers and patients have nothing but praise for her. But the stress of long years of trying to resolve her immigration status, after a string of mistakes committed by USCIS (including at one point sending her a welcome notice signaling the start of permanent resident status, then denying the case without informing her), finally led her to abandon her quest to stay in the country. Nativists everywhere, rejoice—the low-wage ambitions of another softspoken terrorist grandma have been thwarted!

The combination of burdensome and incomprehensible rules, unjustifiably high fees (e.g., $340 for a work permit, often baselessly or mistakenly denied by USCIS, and $585 to appeal the decision—over $1,000 for a bare-bones DIY green card application), race-based decisionmaking cloaked in administrative discretion, and extraordinarily punitive enforcement measures have created a climate of hate and fear. This situation didn’t arise organically, nor is it an inevitable consequence of natural social and economic forces, as restrictionists would have us believe. It is the carefully planned result of years of conservative organizing and legislative action, spearheaded since 1999 by the nativist caucus in the House.

[Continued at Citizen Orange]

who's at your front door? it's federal law enforcement!

Have you ever:

  • Spoken with an accent?
  • “Looked Mexican?”
  • Attended a pro-migrant rally?
  • Complained about the government?
  • Written a blog post about immigration?

Watch out—ICE could come to your door, just like they came to the door of Kevin Crabtree, a San Francisco-based immigration lawyer.

[Continued at Citizen Orange]

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

an important point

From Yglesias:

Reacting to the news that the U.S. government has been supplying arms to the Palestinian Authority (so they can fight Hamas), the Armchair Generalist wonders "why is it that the Bush administration's first answer to every regional conflict is to throw more weapons into the mix? You'd think that, by now, they'd have figured out that hard power doesn't solve these long-term conflicts."

I think they actually do understand this pretty well. After all, if the conflicts were "solved" that would reduce the need for American weapons, and htus reduce the opportunities for American influence. The essence of the approach is to create a series of standoffs where our proxies have the bulk of the guns, but their enemies of the bulk of the legitimacy (in part because they're not serving as our proxy), and thus the guns-without-legitimacy side is able to maintain a permanently tenuous grasp on power that leaves them ever-more-dependent on external American support. The identity or background of the proxy doesn't really matter, and can include ex-insurgents in Iraq, the same Fatah groups we were trying to freeze out of Palestinian politics a few years ago, Iranian-backed Shiite parties in Basra, sundry Somali factions, whatever.
It’s a racket, and with the U.S. government as head racketeer. There's a lucrative side-effect of this process: our national arms exporting business helps keep client states loyal, which keeps the proceeds from weapons sales flowing back to the U.S., creating incentives for the U.S. to perpetuate the conflict—a self-reinforcing process.

It’s quite a scam when you consider that aggressive p.r. efforts to paint the U.S. as the godfather of global democracy lend the whole project just enough legitimacy to stave off complete collapse. People are starting to see this for what it is—modern imperialism—so we’ll see how long the U.S. can maintain the status quo.

type test

77 words


Via Nicolle--thanks for the tip!

Monday, March 03, 2008

there is no line

"Do not try to bend the spoon; that's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth: There is no spoon." --The bald kid from the Matrix.

Symsess, who has been lately gracing this blog with daily immigration round-ups, made a good point over at American Humanity.

Two things that I hear in the immigration reform rhetoric trouble me a little and they are “pay a significant fine” and “go to the back of the line.” What ‘line’ are they talking about. As far as I know there is no line of people from many countries south of the border because they are excluded from the immigration lottery each year. I’m sure I don’t know enough about the ins and outs of this process, but I’d certainly like clarification on what “back of the line” means.

This article quotes Obama:

“We have to require that undocumented workers, who are provided a pathway to citizenship, not only learn English, pay back taxes and pay a significant fine, but also that they’re going to the back of the line,” he said.

I hear this “line” referred to in two contexts. One is the context I think Obama is talking about, where some future version of comprehensive immigration reform would provide a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants now here in the U.S. He seems to be saying that these people would have to wait some period of time before they could become citizens.

[Continued at Citizen Orange]

Saturday, March 01, 2008

What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (part II of II)

I’ll continue now with the second part of my review of What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, by Dave Eggers. The first part was here, in case you missed it.

The book illuminates a rather serious problem for migrants and migrant advocates. Migrants often come to the U.S. or other wealthy countries with unreasonable expectations. I remember from elementary school the song from An American Tail: “There are noooo cats in Ame-ri-ca, and the streets are filled with chee-eese.” The intrepid mice quickly find both these assumptions to be false. Likewise, many Lost Boys seem to have believed their problems would be over once they made it to the U.S. They were wrong:

[Continued at Citizen Orange]