Friday, May 19, 2006

Will the Real John McCain Please Stand Up?

I am beginning to think that the reason McCain has been guarded in his criticism of the Bush administration is not just that he is towing the party line; it's that he's not that much different from Bush. Both of them are liars, phoneys, and hypocrites. During a speech some time ago, he virtually lambasted Pat Robber's Son and Jerry Faultwell as dangerous lunatics whose pronouncements were an affront to mainstream America. Now, he goes to Faultwell's "university" and gives a speech.

No wonder the New School commencement class hissed, boo'ed, and gave McCain their fannies. He doesn't stand for anything but the so-called principles Bush embraces. Meaning that there will be almost no change if McCain is elected. He, too, will have to mollycoddle the Far Right bigot bull moose loonies who are down on everything from abortion to stem cell research. (At least one GOP stalwart has already declared that the party will NEVER support a Pro Choice candidate.) McCain, then, will have to put a lie to every middle of the road principle he has espoused.

Sure, pandering is hardly the exclusive domain of the GOP; in fact, Dems do it more blatantly, if anything. But McCain seemed a breath of fresh air when he jumped on religious fundamentalists beford turning 180 degrees to seemingly embrace their lunacy. I once thought that if the Dems put up a knee-jerk liberal with ideas a little left of Lenin, I might vote for McCain if he's running on the Republican ticket, but no more. The Dems can run anyone now -- maybe even a yellow dog -- and I will pull their lever. McCain is a phoney hypocritical twerp.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bush's Big Gamble

Dubya's oval office primetime speech on immigration reform was his best, ever. Mindful, one assumes, of Lincoln's famous observation that you can fool some folks part of the time, some folks all of the time, but never all the folks all of the time, George II craftily used a carrot and stick approach that allows National Guardsmen to be stationed on the Mexican border at least temporarily, while about 6,000 new customs officers are trained, a provision certain to please the conservatives in hopes they'll go along with the "guest worker" program that will, eventually, legitimate the 11 to 12 million illegals currently living and working in the US. Bush has learned the old adage that politics is the art of compromise, and the fact that there are far right elements resolutely refusing to pass any bill with an "amnesty" program suggests that the Prez is on the right track.

His form of "amnesty" -- it isn't even fair to call it that -- calls for illegals standing in line behind those who are here legally and working on green cards and, ultimately, nationalization, as well as payment of penalties/taxes, making a good faith effort to learn some English, and other demands quite unlike the program set up by Ronald Reagan earlier. Hardliners will continue to insist that amnesty by any other name is still amnesty, but the Bush administration points out that a country founded and developed by immigrants has no business rounding up 11 million people and deporting them wholesale. Bush was so passionate about it, it seemed to me that it was the first and only evidence of his campaign promise/slogan, "compassionate conservatism." Even Karl Rove strode over to the congressional office building to implore votes in favor of the reform proposal.

Unfortunately, the agenda falls short of tackling what I personally feel to be the Number One roadblock -- and it's not on a highway across the Rio Grande. Like drug legislation designed to fight the importation of controlled substances from places like Mexico -- which fails because we spend little or nothing to reduce the demand (e.g. treatment programs) -- illegal immigration mainly exists and grows because there are too many employers here (including major corporations) willing to look the other way when hiring, sometimes with the excuse, "Well, he showed me a Social Security card," a piece of identification so easily forged it might have been dummied up by a blind man. Enforce the permissive hiring laws and word might get around in places like Mexico that the job market is so poor in the US, one might as well stay home.

Conservatives always argue that illegals are taking jobs away from Americans, but liberals -- and Vincente Fox -- insist that Mexican workers come to the US to take jobs we Americans are unwilling to do. This almost always leads to a chicken-egg argument. Do the Mexicans take the jobs because their standard of living is low, allowing them to work for minimum wage (or less!). or have the salaries for like employment dropped to take advantage of the "slave wages"? Labor leaders gripe about illegal immigration lowering the wages of the American worker, but would the employer be able to stay afloat at all without the illegals?

In my posts to egroups devoted to such topics, I have pointed out that a reduced illegals labor force would inevitably increase the cost of goods and some services. I asked fellow members, "Would *you* pick onions, potatoes, or other ground produce bent over all day with a tool guaranteed to give you carpal tunnel syndrome?" It's a rhetorical question but an increasingly important one. All indications are that the spiraling cost of gasoline at the pump is being passed on to the consumer by retailers who utilize the transportation industry (almost everything we buy!), which translates to the most dreaded word in the language: inflation. In turn, inflation is bad for the 401-K. Seems to me, it is the wrong time be reforming immigration. For what most employers are paying the illegals, most American workers could not live, especially when a five-ounce ground sirloin patty selling in a butcher shop here yesterday at 75 cents was going for 79 cents today.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding

Fist and Factotum are at it again -- that is, Senators Bill Fist and Rick Factotum. They were the prime movers behind the silly, ultimately insidious bill to give all Americans a one-time hundred dollar "rebate" equivalent to about nine months of gasoline taxes. That was their response to voter complaints that the major oil companies are gouging and that the government should pass a windfall profits tax, hold hearings on overreaching by Exxon et al., and come up with some sort of plan to deal with the damage being done by three dollar gas at the pumps of America.

Why should anyone be surprised to learn that this plan had "linkage"? Yep, as the wire services explained, "Frist (sic), last week linked the $100 rebate to an energy-relief package that included...a call for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a proposal the Senate frequently rejects." Boy, does all this SMELL, and not just of "sweet" crude. It stinks of nothing less than bribery. That's right. Approve the "rebate" and the Senate gets to award special interests (read: big oil) with more than a windfall, a veritable motherlode of black gold. In all likelihood, Fist has Exxon et al. in his blind trust of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, and what about Kerr-McGee, a subsidiary of Halliburton. Whose blind trust is going to swell in the wake of passage of the proposed rape of Alaskan wildlife? Why, none other than Prick Chaney.

Surprisingly, the new majority leader (no stranger to K Street type graft him), John Boehner, made reference to the Fist plan as "insulting." He didn't clarify that remark so far as I know, but presumably he saw the tit for tat for what it was: a brazen attempt to get the American tax-payer predisposed to the same shenanigans practiced by their elected officials. Exchange of rebates for environment-busting oil exploration is precisely the sort of thing Jack Abramoff was up to. At least some Republicans are smart enough, and sensitive enough, to recognize a scam when they see it. Boehner was expected to be just as corrupt as Tom Relay, but he's a lot smarter it seems.