Friday, November 20, 2015

It’s What They Do

I expected the Republicans to vote as a bloc on the stupid and chickenshit bill to gum up the works for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.  It is, as the current meme goes, what they do.

I also expected a number of Democrats to cringe and curl up into a ball and vote along with them because, y’know, it’s also what they do.  They’re not afraid of jihadists sneaking into the country under the guise of being poor wandering ones from war-torn countries; after all, the people who committed the attacks in Paris were either Belgian or European Union citizens; the Syrian passports found at the scene were forgeries, most likely being carried as a part of the plan to throw off the investigators.  I doubt they were thinking, “Gee, after we do this, the U.S. House is going to play right into our hands and completely lose their shpadoinkle over the idea of Syrians sneaking into Deadcat, Indiana, and waging jihad while washing dishes at the Cracker Barrel.”

What they’re really afraid of is being called soft on terrorism by the Republicans who have completely lost their shpadoinkle over a group of people who are running for their lives from a bunch of vicious thugs and murderers and have no more capacity to wage guerrilla war on the West than Rush Limbaugh has of doing the macarena with Hillary Clinton.

Aside from the fact that the law is doomed and short-sighted — after all, if the intent is to block only Syrian and Iraqi refugees, what’s to stop a determined jihadist from picking up a false set of papers from say an Albanian or a Serbian or whatever set of forgeries are available from the guy at the copy shop who sells them on the side — it was another in a long series of GOP attempts to call out the weak-willed and bed-wetters among the Democrats. And it worked; now we know who can be held hostage via e-mail and who could be coaxed into voting for laws that basically put Muslims under the same yoke of suspicion and ostracization as the Japanese citizens in Los Angeles on December 8, 1941, or the Jewish shopkeepers in Nuremberg in 1938.  After all, Donald Trump says “he’s potentially open to the creation of a database to track Muslim citizens, or requiring that Muslim Americans carry a special form of identification noting their faith.”  What, wear some version of the symbol of Islam on their clothing?

I have gotten used to the Republicans and their candidates sucking up to fascism and religious intolerance American style (not to mention the irony of labeling gun registration as the road to tyranny but registering Muslims as a bulwark of freedom).  And sadly I have gotten used to Democrats caving in to this mindset.  It’s what they do.

Short Takes

France and Belgium tighten security measures and restrict civil liberties in response to the Paris attacks.

Veto bait: The House voted a bill to restrict admission to Syrian and Indonesian refugees.

Mexican immigration to the U.S. is actually in the negative; more are leaving than arriving.

Protesters and city leaders plead for calm in Minneapolis in the wake of another unarmed black person killed by police.

Catch of the Day: GMO salmon is approved by the FDA.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Short Takes

Winter weather and tornadoes hit the Midwest.

Over 100 people indicted in Waco biker brawl that killed nine.

Two relatives of Venezuelan president indicted on drug charges.

Another fence is built in Europe to thwart immigrants.

Weather may have caused Ohio plane crash.

Hurricane Kate heads east across the Atlantic.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Starting Off With A Lie

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is beginning his term as Speaker of the House in typical Republican fashion: lying through his pearly-white teeth.

Newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday he’s willing to work across the aisle with Democrats but won’t do immigration reform with President Obama in his final 14 months in office.

“The president has proven himself untrustworthy on this issue, because he tried to unilaterally rewrite the law himself. Presidents don’t write laws. Congress does,” the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” referring to Obama’s executive actions this year to ease immigration policies.

“The president’s proven himself to be untrustworthy on this issue.”

This is crap.  The Republicans are deathly afraid of touching any kind of immigration reform no matter who writes it because they have already invested so much time and effort demonizing immigrants to the point that it has become The Issue for them.  It’s what launched Donald Trump’s campaign, it’s what makes the base fork over the dough, and any attempt to repair the system will be seen as caving in to sanity, and you sure can’t do that and win the primaries.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Short Takes

Volkswagen CEO resigns over emissions scandal.

Hackers stole 5.6 million sets of fingerprints from the federal government.

Pope Francis talks about immigration and climate change.

Eastern Europe lightens up on migrant quotas.

The Tigers beat the White Sox 7-4.

Tropical Update:  TS Ida moves a little to the north.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

And The Bag It Came In

Mike Huckabee continues to prove why he’ll never be president of anything ever.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, whose presidential campaign has become a crusade for “religious liberty” and the rights of the unborn, told social conservatives this weekend that they should be skeptical of allowing more Syrian refugees into the United States.

“Are they really escaping tyranny, are they escaping poverty, or are they really just coming because we’ve got cable TV?” Huckabee asked, in an audience question-and-answer session at the conservative Eagle Forum conference in St. Louis. “I don’t meant to be trite. I’m just saying: We don’t know.”

If you think that the epitome of the American dream is to risk life and limb so you can get screwed over by Comcast, you really are a douche.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Short Takes

Reports on ISIS were distorted by the military, analysts say.

Hungary cracks down on immigrants.

Flash flood in Utah kills nine.

The Obama administration adds $250 million to fight the California wildfires.

Facebook is working on a “dislike” button.

Tropical Update: Still out there: Invest 93L and 95L.

The Tigers beat the Twins 5-4.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Short Takes

Thousands flee California wildfires.

Babies drown as migrant boat capsizes off Greek island.

Germany begins border checks to limit immigrants.

Phoenix police search for highway sniper.

R.I.P. Frank D. Gilroy, 89, playwright.

Tropical Update: Two disturbances in the Atlantic: Invest 93L and 94L.

The Tigers split a double header with Cleveland.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Short Takes

Officials in Budapest block refugees from getting on trains to Germany.

President Obama will push for helping Arctic communities stave off rising oceans.

The Army opens Ranger school to all comers.

Baltimore judge refuses to drop charges against cops charged in Freddie Gray’s death.

R.I.P. Dean Jones, 84, star of many Disney films.

Tropical Update: Fred stays put.

The Tigers got walloped 12-1 by the Royals.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Keeping Track of Them

Not to be outdone by Donald Trump or Scott Walker, Chris Christie of New Jersey thinks we should get FedEx to mark immigrants with bar codes so we could track them like packages.

“At any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane,” Mr. Christie told the crowd in Laconia, N.H. “Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.”

He added: “We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in.”

I suppose tattooing them on their arms would be too on the nose, huh?

It’s His Turn

I never understood why all the Very Serious People said that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) would be a formidable candidate in presidential race.  He’s not an especially inspiring speaker, he hasn’t done that great a job as governor as compared to his neighbor Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota in terms of turning the state around after the recession, and he’s basically your average right-wing nut job on social policy such as abortion and marriage equality.  He’s basically Mitch Daniels of Indiana with backing from the Koch Brothers.

Now he and the rest of the GOP field are getting big-footed by Donald Trump and his used-car-dealer demagoguery, so he has to come up with something to get back the spotlight.  Like Mike Huckabee did a month ago, he has to find something to say that will at least get our attention for a moment.

How about immigration?  Well, why not?  It’s a hot topic, and while Wisconsin isn’t the choice destination of anchor babies and pot smugglers, it’s something that gets the base riled up without any logic behind it: deport 11 million! seems to be the way to make them applaud and throw money.

But he had to find a fresh angle.  Everybody’s talking about building a wall to keep out the Mexicans and other brown people; why not look the other way and keep out the white hockey players and poutine-eaters?

NBC’s “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd asked Walker on the Sunday program if he would consider building a wall along the country’s northern border.

Walker said that some people along the campaign trail have raised the issue.

“They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” Walker told Todd.

Rest assured that the only reason Canada would go along with this would be to keep us from getting into Canada.

Monday, August 24, 2015

You Keep Using That Phrase

ThinkProgress on the origins of a term that has become popular with with Republicans.

The GOP presidential campaign kicked off with real estate mogul Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks about Mexican immigrants being rapists and drug dealers, and quickly evolved to endorsements of changing the Constitution to strip millions of immigrants of their citizenship. Now, presidential candidates have a new angle on the immigration debate: Targeting the children of foreign-born parents as so-called “anchor babies.”

The term “anchor babies” has long been relegated to the realm of ultra-conservative arguments against allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country. But recently, the phrase has been widely used by Republican lawmakers as part of a clarion call to repeal the 14th Amendment, which grants automatic citizenship to every child born on U.S. soil, regardless of the immigration status of their parents.

Mr. Trump champions the phrase and compounds it by by making the demonstrably false statement that only the United States grants birthright citizenship.  (Canada and most of Latin America also grants citizenship to children born in the country.  Why else would Ted Cruz have had to renounce his Canadian citizenship last year?)  Jeb Bush manfully asks “What would you call them?” even after he served on a committee that called for the disuse of the term.  (Hillary Clinton replied via Twitter: “They’re called ‘babies.'”)  Bobby Jindal, the pathetic example of “me-tooism,” is “happy to use it,” perhaps because he is the one closest to being a child who would have been called such so he’s using self-hating deflection.  Scott Walker has been all over the place on it, using the term one week and then, predictably, changing his mind on it the next.  Only Marco Rubio has stood up to condemn the term, so even a blind squirrel can find his nuts.

Like “death panels” or “religious liberty,” it has become a buzzword in the presidential campaign, but it’s also a dog whistle to the kind of people that the party needs to draw in for their base.  Those would be the xenophobic and racist-tinged white males who are big talkers about the Constitution and freedom but are all too happy to junk the parts they don’t like in order to keep living out their gun-stroking fantasies of their perfect world when life wasn’t so complicated, people knew their place, and calling someone a racist or sexist epithet didn’t mean their reality show got cancelled.

If those are the kind of people the Republicans think they need to win a presidential election, we’ve got a lot bigger problem than immigration and what to call people who in any other place would be called citizens.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Take Him Back

As was noted yesterday, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio would both flunk the “natural born citizenship” test as being put forth by those who are advocating for the end to birthright citizenship.  So would Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  But Mr. Cruz, too, is “absolutely” in favor of ending birthright citizenship.

I just think it’s ironic that the people who would probably have the toughest time reassuring their constituents that they’re real ‘Muricans are the biggest mouths for shutting the door on people who have a stronger claim to being citizens than they do.

As for Mr. Cruz, he had to actually fill out a form to renounce his birthright Canadian citizenship last year.  I would suggest that the good people of his native land take him back; it would be just desserts for sending us Justin Bieber.  But I really like my Canadian friends.

While We’re At It, Repeal the 13th Amendment

Jan Mickelson, a radio talk show host in Iowa, has an idea about what to do with all those people who can’t prove they’re here legally.

…anyone who is in the state of Iowa that who is not here legally and who cannot demonstrate their legal status to the satisfaction of the local and state authorities here in the State of Iowa, become property of the State of Iowa.’ So if you are here without our permission, and we have given you two months to leave, and you’re still here, and we find that you’re still here after we we’ve given you the deadline to leave, then you become property of the State of Iowa. And we have a job for you. And we start using compelled labor, the people who are here illegally would therefore be owned by the state and become an asset of the state rather than a liability and we start inventing jobs for them to do.


CALLER: Well you know I don’t have my Constitution in front of me and you know like I say, it sounds like a clever idea and maybe you can make it – put it in action, but I think the fall out would be so significant. And I, you know —

MICKELSON: What would be the nature of the fall out?

CALLER: Well I think everybody would believe it sounds like slavery?

MICKELSON: Well, what’s wrong with slavery?

Okay, so this is just some right-wing nutsery AM radio talk show guy in Iowa; nothing to worry about, right?  Except for the fact that he doesn’t sound a whole lot further down the road than some of the presidential candidates who are being asked “what do we do with the 11 million people who are undocumented?”

Well, to his credit, the talk show host didn’t say he was advocating for the “final solution.”  That would be a little too on the nose.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sycophancy and Self-Loathing

Gov. Bobby Jindal:

We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Mr. Jindal is the son of Indian immigrants who came here on his mother’s student visa.  In other words, he’s in favor of ending the constitutional right that made him eligible to run for president.

Oh, yes, he said “illegal” immigrants.  But I seriously doubt that the people who believe we should trash the Fourteenth Amendment are going to split hairs over immigrants who came in on a student visa and had a baby.

I’m sure there are all sorts of psycho-babbly reasons why Mr. Jindal so desperately wants to be liked by people that think he’s unworthy of citizenship, but he’s just embarrassing himself.

Marco Rubio is in the same boat, so to speak.  His parents arrived in the U.S. in 1956 (no, they weren’t fleeing the Castro brothers; they left during the regime of the previous brutal dictator) and were not citizens when Mr. Rubio was born in 1971.  He too is in favor of somehow putting an end to birthright citizenship:

“I’m not in favor of repealing the 14th Amendment,” Rubio said during a Tuesday news conference at the rain-soaked Iowa State Fair. “But I am open to exploring ways of not allowing people who are coming here deliberately for that purpose to acquire citizenship.”

Shorter version: I got mine; screw you.

What’s even more shameful is that Mr. Rubio once co-sponsored the bipartisan immigration bill that included a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants.  But when he realized that would hinder his appeal to the knuckle-dragging know-nothings in the GOP base in his run for the presidency, he turned on the bill to gain their favor.

Neither Bobby Jindal nor Marco Rubio will become president, but frankly who would want to have such weak-willed men in office who would sacrifice both the Constitution and their own family history just to get elected.

Bonus: Paul Waldman at the Washington Post wonders if the Republicans gave away the election of 2016 by landing on the birthright citizenship issue.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Constitutional Dissonance

Shorter Scott Walker on immigration:

We must enforce the law by violating the Constitution.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says we should “reexamine” birthright citizenship as if it is some nebulous policy promulgated by liberals to pack the voting booths with immigrants who have yet to learn to walk.

What is it about people who say they revere the Constitution but have no trouble distorting it, ignoring it, or shredding it to fit their political motives?  If it’s not citizenship as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment, it’s the simple declaration that all citizens are entitled to the equal protection of the laws, also in the Fourteenth Amendment, that gave us marriage equality.  Yet somehow that is unconstitutional.

They’re also not wild about the First Amendment protecting people from the establishment of religion because, of course, it’s only meant for Christians.  They also believe that it protects people from being fired for denying marriage licenses to people they don’t like and from networks cancelling reality shows because one of the members of the family that breeds like rabbits is a pedophile, and that the Constitution guarantees “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  No, it does not.  That’s from the Declaration of Independence, which was a resolution passed by the Continental Congress, which went out of business before the Constitution was written.

But let’s be fair.  If we’re going to revisit various parts of the Constitution, let’s talk about the Second Amendment, shall we?

It’s Not Enough To Be Born Here

The birthers are now going after four Republicans because they suspect that they’re not real Americans.

In a column published last week on the conspiracy theory website WND, author Jack Cashill noted that questions had been raised about whether four of the 17 candidates in the GOP field were really “natural born citizens” and therefore eligible to run for President.

Ted Cruz has already dealt with those questions publicly — the Canadian-born senator from Texas renounced his citizenship with that country last summer in anticipation of a 2016 bid — but Cashill also listed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) among those who were suspect.

Catherine Thompson at TPM interviews Mr. Cashill, who claims he has no agenda (even though he doubts that President Obama was really born in Hawaii, and even if he was, his mother wasn’t old enough to claim him as a citizen); he just wants what’s white right for America.

You write that the term “natural born citizen” is “often misunderstood or deliberately twisted.” How so? Can you give me a specific example of that?

When the challenge was made against Barack Obama, people said “how dare you question he’s a natural born citizen because he was born in Hawaii.” Even if he was born in Hawaii, that does not make him a natural born citizen. It’s a very strict term. I won’t say very strict — there’s a real meaning to the term, it’s not that it’s perfectly defined but the understanding is well understood. The understanding is that you be born of American parents with unquestioned loyalty to the United States. So for instance, had Obama been born [somewhere] other than Hawaii he would not have been eligible to run for President. Even though his mother was an American, just like Ted Cruz’s mother was American, the difference is that according to the law you’d have to be an American citizen for five years after the age of 14. She simply wasn’t old enough to confer that status on Obama. If his mother had been a non-American citizen and his father had been a Kenyan, and neither had any allegiance to the United States, which in fact neither of them really did, he would not have been eligible no matter where he was born.

So the question comes up about Bobby Jindal’s parents. Both of them were in the United States on student visas. To me the real question is does the candidate have any divided allegiance. So if Jindal’s parents remained steadfastly identifying as Indians and he steadfastly identified as an Indian, even though he was born in the United States and was a citizen, he would not be eligible. Legitimately, he would not be eligible to be President. But given the fact that he changed his name after a character in “The Brady Bunch” — as American as it gets — I don’t think there’s any question in any of those candidates that there’s any dual allegiance. That’s what the law was designed to prevent, was people with dual allegiance. Especially in the early Republic when you had people who were from England or from France and who really reported back to the motherland first. Even if they were born here they might be children of a diplomat or something like that. The fact that you are a citizen doesn’t make you a natural born citizen.

It’s not enough that you’re born here physically; your parents have to swear some kind of loyalty oath to the United States before someone — he doesn’t say who — decides, “Okay, you’re in.”

There are a whole lot of reasons to be against Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum for president, but going after their citizenship qualifications is the coward’s way out.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Trump on Immigration

Donald Trump has a plan to control immigration, and it’s as xenophobic and as unconstitutional as you can get without actually invoking the Nuremberg laws.

Business mogul Donald Trump released an immigration plan this weekend almost exclusively focused on enforcement and cracking down on unauthorized immigrants, including preventing babies born in the U.S. to undocumented parents from U.S. citizenship as guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.

The GOP presidential candidate also repeated a vow to end President Barack Obama’s deportation relief policies for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. He would instead deport those mothers and fathers, he said. Trump insisted it could be done without separating families — a claim that, although he does not say so explicitly, would effectively mean forcing out children with the right to be in the U.S. if they wanted to remain with their parents.

“We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd in a “Meet the Press” interview that aired Sunday.

The wingnuts love it, of course, because America Fuck Yeah!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Short Takes

Secretary of State Kerry made an unannounced visit to Somalia.

Twitter Trail: Police follow the moves of the Texas shooters via social media.

Attorney General Lynch went to Baltimore.

President Obama is nominating Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. as the new head of the Joint Chiefs.

Hillary Clinton promises to go “even further” on immigration.

The Tigers lost to the White Sox 5-2.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Short Takes

U.S. worried about living up to Netanyahu’s campaign promises.

Native American council offers amnesty to 220 million undocumented white people.

Boehner calls for National Guard to deal with illegal immigrants hiding in Mexico.

Sarah Palin announces presidential bid for 2016; vows to destroy Obama’s “liberal utopia.”

God shoots Himself while cleaning his gun.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.