Saturday, August 28, 2010

Republican Lies About Fannie, Freddie, And Frank

It's very clear what the priorities are. The Republicans are looking after the financial interests of the wealthiest individuals in this country ~ Ted Kennedy (2/22/1932 to 8/25/2009) United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. Serving almost 47 years, he was the second most senior member of the Senate when he died and is the 4th-longest-serving senator in US history (11/7/1962 to 8/25/2009).

I was recently made aware of the fact that the Democratic Representative from Massachusetts Barney Frank "admitted that Fannie and Freddie were largely responsible for the economic downturn". I read about this shocking admission on Lisa's brand new Conservative blog.

The post, titled "The Problem with Leftists" contained a link to a 8/19/2010 article on the "RealClearPolitics" website (RealClearPolitics is a political news and polling data aggregator). (Note: see update below regarding Lisa's blog.)

According to Wikipedia RealClearPolitics (RCP) claims to be "non-partisan" and that "their goal is to give readers ideological diversity". I'm not buying it considering they also describe themselves "as frustrated with what they perceive as anti-conservative, anti-Christian media bias". Playing the victim is a typical Con diversionary tactic. They claim they're being discriminated against when the actual bias is in their favor.

For instance - on the 8/22/2010 edition of "Meet the Press", when Mitch McConnell remarked that President Obama "says he's a Christian, and I take him at his word", host David Gregory offered no pushback.

What Gregory should have objected to was McConnell's use of weasel words to suggest that President Obama MIGHT be a Muslim, but Mitch McConnel isn't sure... all he can do is "take him at his word". President Obama is suspected of being a Muslim - even though he attended a Christian church for 20 years - because he spoke out in favor of upholding the Constitutional rights of all Americans; regardless of what religion they practice? The corporate media (in this case "Meet the Press" and David Gregory) is lending credence to Republican talking points by allowing them to frame the debate.

The biased RCP article, "Barney Frank: Fannie & Freddie Must Go" accuses Congressman Frank of "dissembling and denial", and the Left of "blaming heartless Republicans and Wall Street for the crisis caused by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac". Unfortunately for RPC these lies have been thoroughly debunked. Nobel prize winning Economist Paul Krugman, in a 5/31/2009 article titled "Reagan Did It", points out that "Reagan-era legislative changes essentially ended New Deal restrictions on mortgage lending - restrictions that... limited the ability of families to buy homes without putting a significant amount of money down".

Further deregulation shepherded through Congress by former Republican Congressman and McCain Campaign financial advisor Phil Gramm blew away the remaining FDR era protections. Republican deregulation caused the financial crisis, not Fannie and Freddie.

The problem with Lisa's claim that (according to the RCP article), Barney Frank "admitted that Fannie and Freddie were largely responsible for the economic downturn" - is that it's not true. RCP never states that Rep. Frank "admits" THEIR claim that "the crisis [was] caused by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" is accurate. The RCP article does contain several quotes from Rep. Frank, but none of them amount to an admission by Congressman Frank that Fannie and Freddie were responsible. This "admission" is one that Lisa either invented or imagined.

The RCP article quotes Rep. Frank as saying, "There were people in this society who for economic [reasons can't] be homeowners". If you apply for a loan but your income and/or savings suggest you won't be able to pay off the loan, clearly it is not wise for a bank to make the loan. This is simply stating what should have been obvious. Remember it was former President bush's "ownership society" that encouraged home ownership with new policies like the zero-down-payment initiative, "a government-sponsored program that allowed people to get mortgages without a down payment".

In another quote from the article Congressman Frank says he now believes that the two secondary mortgage market government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) "should be abolished". RCP's response is, "better late than never", and concludes that it is "refreshing to hear a member of the Democratic Party admit his mistakes". The mistake RPC thinks Rep. Frank made was "stopping GSE reform in the early 2000s, at a time when such a move might have prevented the financial meltdown".

This claim is utter nonsense, as the Republicans controlled Congress during this time (1/4/1995 to 1/3/2007). The Speaker of the House sets the the legislative agenda, and during this period both Speakers, Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert, were Republicans. According to Rep. Frank, "I did not try to stop them from passing legislation to control subprime lending or to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac". In his book "Financial Shock" economist Mark Zandi reveals that it was President Bush who "readily took up the homeownership baton... [and it was the] Bush administration [who] put substantial pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase their funding of mortgage loans to lower-income groups".

Rep. Frank says he "sought directly to regulate subprime lending", but the legislation he and Michael Oxley (R-OH) worked on, the Finance Reform Act of 2005, was "defeated because, in the words of Mr. Oxley, the Bush administration gave his efforts the one-finger salute". According to Media Matters, when the Democrats regained control of the House in 2007 Rep. Frank (who became the new chairman of the House Financial Services Committee), "sponsored HR 1427, a bill to create the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), granting that agency general supervisory and regulatory authority over Fannie and Freddie and directing it to reform the companies...".

President bush signed the bill on 7/30/2008, but only because it was clear by that time that there was a problem (the housing market peaked in 2006). Five weeks later FHFA seized temporary control of Fannie and Freddie.

bush's excuse was that "Wall Street got drunk", but according to Portfolio.com "bush neglected to add that he was behind the bar, pouring the tequila shots for most of the night, and refusing to cut off the drunks before they'd reached their limits".

The Republicans have some nerve thinking the American people will believe the Democrats were responsible for the housing bubble when they weren't in the majority when the Republicans, as part of the bush administration's "aggressive housing agenda", passed legislation like the American Dream Downpayment Assistance Act, the "Minority Homeownership Initiative", and (the previously mentioned) "Zero Down Payment Initiative".

Rep. Frank warned of the potential danger of a deregulated subprime lending market, but "House Republicans blocked any efforts to legislate against it" and "Alan Greenspan refused to use congressional authority he'd been given in 1994 to regulate it". The reason was because gouging lower-income minorities (and non-minorities) was very profitable for the fat-cat bankers pulling the administration's strings. Republicans looking out for the interests of the upper-class lead directly to the economic downturn - any other assertion is revisionist propaganda.

Instead of "admitting" Fannie and Freddie are to blame, Congressman Frank defended the two GSEs by pointing out that "private companies sold Fannie and Freddie loans or securities based on fraudulent documents", and that "these transactions created private profits at public expense". In other words, Fannie and Freddie are the VICTIMS of fraud, and the federal government should go after the banks that sold them the bad loans and attempt to recover some of the money they lost.

The reason why Rep. Frank is now in favor of abolishing the GSEs is because he believes there should be "no more hybrid private-public", and because "if we want to subsidize housing then we [should] do it upfront and let the budget be clear about that".

I agree completely. Fannie and Freddie suffered such huge losses because of the bush initiatives which were designed to increase the profits of their banker buddies, and because the GSEs had been partly privatized. If they had been acting in the public interest using a not-for-profit model - I think it is highly unlikely they would have been swept up in the derivative fever.

But because the GSE CEOs were seeking to increase their profits (and their bonuses) Fannie and Freddie didn't do their due diligence in researching the soundness of the loans they purchased. They were blinded by the profit motive in exactly the same manner as the other financial institutions that we bailed out. And let us not forget the fraud that Rep. Frank mentioned, which wouldn't have occurred either if not for Republican deregulation.

I agree with Rep. Frank that Fannie and Freddie should be abolished and REPLACED. Let the shareholders suffer some of the losses while the federal government puts a new, not-for-profit 100% public agency in charge of providing financial support to the secondary mortgage market. Homeownership is a good thing, and should be encouraged, but (obviously) should only be an option for people who can afford it. And we can do our best to make it more affordable by returning to the not-for-profit model Fannie Mae operated under after it's founding in 1938 until it "was converted into a private shareholder-owned corporation" in 1968 (by Democratic President LBJ, although for non-ideological reasons).

Unfortunately Fannie and Freddie being "partially private" allowed the Republicans to corrupt the institutions from within. If the Cons can't get rid of a popular government program they hate they will attempt to convert it into a money making vehicle for the wealthy elites. Which is exactly what the bush administration did - the wealthy bankers profited (and collected record bonuses) while the American taxpayer got shafted to the tune of (approximately) $248 billion.

When the hell are the voters going to wake up and realize that Republican thieves are robbing us blind? Their campaign to extend the bush tax cuts is just the latest example of their continuing reverse-Robin Hood master plan to destroy the middle class and create a land of gentry. Perhaps I'm being a wee bit hyperbolic, but significantly less so than Righties who claim the Obama Administration is plotting a Marxist "fundamental transformation" of our country.

1/13/2011 Update: Lisa deleted her blog and started over, creating a new blog with the same name... Originally I updated the link to her post with a link to the page as cached by Google, but the Google cache has since expired. Fortunately I copied down the text and have posted it in my comments section. You'll just have to take my word for it that I didn't make any alterations.

See also: America Without A Middle Class by Elizabeth Warren, The Huffington Post 12/3/2009.

SWTD #51

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Right-wing Perspective Regarding The Invasion Of The Illegals & The Ground Zero Victory Mosque

Usually the nonsense liberals spout is kind of cute, but in wartime their instinctive idiocy is life-threatening ~ Ann Coulter (b. 12/8/1961) an American lawyer, conservative social and political commentator, author, and syndicated columnist.

A guest commentary by: the lovable Radical Right Wing Terrorist Free Market Guy (an infrequent commenter and more often lurker on this blog)...

Hi, RRWTFM Guy here... In case you're wondering why a sane voice of intellect and reason has chosen to post on a commie socialist Hussein-worshiping blog such as this one... well, you can chalk it up to my love for Jesus and our awesome free-market system. I'm just an ordinary hard working American who loves his country, and is hopeful that ONE Librul might see the error of his ways and embrace the only Party that can defend our glorious free market system from the terrorists and Librul saboteurs... a system that was surely gifted to us by our all-mighty creator.

Although I realize that most of you Librul/commie types are Godless "secular humanist" atheists or pagans, there are a few who claim to be Christians. Like the proprietor of this blog. Even though I often think Libruls only claim to be Christians to mock us - as it is clear that Christian-bashing is all the rage these days, what with your continual War on Christmas and what not, but I digress...

I originally composed this comment in response to w-dervish's last post, but after I published it he contacted me and asked if I'd like to turn my brilliant monologue into a guest commentary. At first I said, "what is the point, as your blog gets virtually zero traffic, so nobody will read my guest commentary - intelligent and persuasive though it may be - it won't have any chance of converting any Libruls, because no one will ever see it". w-dervish then pointed out that he has FIVE followers who might read it, even though none of them responded to his last post. Because they most likely realized that reading w-dervish's insane rantings was a complete waste of time. Surely their time would be better spent composing their own insane rantings for their own commie/Librul Obummer-loving blogs?

Finally I concluded that, seeing as I had already written the comment, I might as well turn it over to w-dervish and see what happens. Although I suspect that he may modify what I've written and turn it into a Right-wing parody that he and his commie/Librul followers can make fun of. We shall see. If that happens I may have to start my own blog... in order to spread the truth regarding how the Axis-of-evil (Hussein, Pelosi and Reid) are destroying our country in hopes they can transform it into a communist/socialist/fascist paradise. In any case, my original comment, left in response to the lies contained within w-dervish's previous post, follows... hopefully my insightful commentary will convince at least one Librul or centrist Democrap to see the error of his (or her) ways.

NOBODY has jumped in yet, even though your post has been up for 4 days, and given the RIGHT rebuttal... so I guess it's up to me to set you straight... even though I probably shouldn't be encouraging you... which is why I've refrained from posting on your looney blog for several months.

It seems as though, even with no one reading and no one responding, you refuse to give up. Typical Librul... you'd probably stand in an empty field with no one around for miles screaming (for hours) your terrorist-loving-free-market-hating POV... even if no one could hear you, or would even care about what you're saying if they did. Because the majority of Americans strongly disagree with your wacky FAR LEFT positions.

Obviously the culprits here ARE the "brown skinned" people (as you call them). But this has NOTHING to do with race! We're being invaded by a foreign army! An army that is stealing our jobs and costing us billions! And, in addition to stealing our jobs they're stealing our medical services. And they're stealing our educational services. A lot of them are criminals bringing in drugs and guns. And they're killing our citizens! Remember when the BRAVE governor Jan Brewer alerted us to the FACT that decapitated bodies are being discovered in the Arizona desert! (And YES, I believe Governor Brewer, despite what the article I linked to says! I couldn't find one that upheld her claims, damn Librul media!)

Do you not care one whit for your fellow Americans w-dervish! OF COURSE NOT! Instead of blaming the illegal-coddling ordinary-hard-working-American-hating Democrat Party, you wish to REWARD sneaky illegal invaders! SHAME on you, you stupid freedom-hating Libturd! You and your kind disgust me. If the 2008 election hadn't been stolen by ACORN John McCain would be our president now, instead of your "dear leader" who is hoping to change our previously great country into a socialist dictatorship with the help of 20 million new voters! I'm surprised he hasn't already granted amnesty by executive order to the job-stealing illegal-border-crossing drug-smuggling white-women-raping freeloaders! (yes, I realize that not ALL illegals are drug smugglers or rapists, so hold your horses before labeling me a racist, Librul! This isn't about racism, it's about the FACTS!)

If we should be comparing anyone to the Nazis it should be people like w-dervish! Our American-loving-job-creating corporations WANT to hire genuine hard-working Americans, but due to the affirmative-action-loving Libcommies they're forced to give American jobs to identity-thieving illegals with phony social security numbers! And, instead of stopping them at the border... you want to wait until they've already entered the country before doing anything to foil their job-stealing plans! Because you're not really interested in catching them.

Workplace enforcement! Give me a break. I know what that is code for... instead of allowing our border security officers to do their jobs you want to place an undue burden on business with the free-enterprise-crushing regulations you big-government-loving collectivist statists love so much. You also falsely claim that honest American job-creators are hiring illegals to drive down wages for all Americans! UNTRUE! Supply and demand is "driving down" wages (actually supply and demand is setting FAIR wages - if you don't like the wage being offered go find another job, or get more education). Illegals are actually leaving the country due to this recession, which, while it may have begun under George W. Bush, was exacerbated by the spending spree the exalted one went on following the election (which was stolen by ACORN, as I previously said).

We would be well into the McCain recovery if not for the socialist free-market-hating community-organizing ACORN-orchestrated coup! Karl Rove is right, "the economy is recovering, but this is in spite of the Recovery Act, not because of it". So, instead of the STRONG recovery we could be experiencing under President McCain, we're stuck with a fragile recovery thanks to the failed Obummer "stimulus". Which is why we MUST NOT allow the bush tax cuts to expire! So what if they go primarily to the wealthy, they are the "job-creators" after all. They need those tax cuts in order to create jobs.

Unfortunately many Democrats "would rather have high taxes and a lower standard of living than low taxes and a higher standard of living", as Mr. Rove correctly points out in his brilliant polemic "Courage and Consequence".

Let us not forget that the recession was caused by free-market-hating hippie Libruls who bought up all those worthless housing derivatives in a evil communist anti-capitalist plot to bring down our glorious free market system! I saw your last post trashing Sean Hannity and Citizen's United films! Everything you wrote (in that post) was a LIE, you stinky lying communist Libterrorist! Personal responsibility IS the key! Although it doesn't work when hippie traitors bring down our system from within! Regulation? You and your ilk probably laughed when you realized that, after crashing our glorious free market system, you could credibly advocate for more regulation in the aftermath of the destruction you wrought. We who believe in personal responsibility and the free market will not be fooled into accepting your regulatory big-government communist schemes!

You and your ilk should be shipped off to Gitmo (which, "The One", BTW still hasn't closed, as he "promised"). Ha-ha-ha, stupid Libruls! Even your Kenyan poser prez realizes that the Gitmo detainees cannot be released! As much as I'm sure he'd like to... given the fact that he's constantly siding with our enemies... case in point, the Ground Zero Mosque, which will surely be used as a terrorist training center if it is allowed to be built. Face it, you American-people-hating Libturd, The American people have spoken! Although the Muzlums have a Constitutional right to do so, we should revoke the permit that allowed construction to go ahead.

Don't give me any crap about the NY city board approving construction! They must have all been Moslum-loving Liburls, which is why they QUIETLY issued their approval. They knew that if the American people were allowed to weigh in that they would democratically decide that a Allah-tells-me-to-blow-up-America victory mosque financed by a Saudi prince and others with terror-ties was a extremely bad idea. Which is why the Liburl surrender-monkeys support it! And why Obummer wants to ship the Gitmo prisoners off to a facility in Illinois! So that, once on America soil, they will be "entitled" to access our American court system. And, once all charges were dismissed against the terrorists by the Librul terrorist-coddling activist judges, they could have set up residence here in the US (probably on the tax-payer's dime), and begun plotting new terror attacks.

This is why Obummer and AG Holder wanted to bring KSM to New York for trial... they were hoping that he would be "exonerated" and set free. Or that his confession would be thrown out because he was "tortured" (actually harmless waterboarding, which our own troops undergo - do Libruls think we torture our own troops? ridiculous!). Thankfully, after the American people voiced their outrage the Obummerites had to back down. Hu-rah! That surely was a victory for our side... the side that STANDS WITH AMERICA instead of with our enemies!

Hussein a Christian! Come on Libruls, nobody is buying that lie any longer. People are waking up to the fact that Hussein is actually a Muslim terrorist sleeper! Prepare to be crushed in November, and lose the White House in 2012. I'm extremely hopeful that most of your America-destroying Librul policies will be reversed once Romney/Palin kick Obummer/Biden out of the WHITE House!

In the meantime I will continue to advocate against the illegal invasion and the GZ Victory mosque, and I'll continue to advocate in favor of Arizona's "deport the illegal invaders" law and in favor of the de-funding and repeal of the unconstitutional Obummercare (which will happen after the Republicans have retaken the House and Senate). Your days are numbered Libruls... the American people's voices will be heard! You can either get on the winning team's bus or be run over by it - or be thrown under it when the Obummer Administration places the blame for their defeat on your professional-Left-loving asses.

Or, if the American people are defeated in 2010 because the fix is in, we may have to exercise our 2nd amendment rights! Remember Thomas Jefferson said, "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants". If that means an armed rebellion, then I say the true patriots have no choice. The Obummerites cannot be allowed to remain in office, or they will surely destroy our great nation. The blood of any innocents killed will be on their hands!

Well, that does it for me for now. Excuse the length of my post, although I'm sure w-dervish followers are used to it by now. Or sick of it, which could explain why his last post received no comments from any of them. In any case, I had a lot to say to refute all the lies w-dervish has been promulgating. Oh, and w-dervish wanted me to mention that this will be his blog's 50th post, as if it were some grand milestone or something. I've visited numerous other blogs, and most of them do more than 50 posts in 5 years! I actually think it's quite pathetic. He thinks he's out there spreading his Librul ideology, when, in fact, he allows most issues to pass without a peep. Not that it matters since no one reads his Librul nonsense anyway.

See also: The Pets.com Sock Puppet Wants A Bailout by Nicholas Carlson, Business Insider 11/29/2008

SWTD #50

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Racist Arizona Law Passed For Political Reasons

This week, Arizona signed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country which will allow police to demand identification papers from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. I know there's some people in Arizona worried that Obama is acting like Hitler, but could we all agree that there's nothing more Nazi than saying "Show me your papers?" There's never been a World War II movie that didn't include the line "show me your papers". It's their catchphrase. Every time someone says "show me your papers", Hitler's family gets a residual check. So heads up, Arizona; that's fascism. I know, I know, it's a dry fascism, but it's still fascism ~ SNL's Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers (dob 12/28/1973) on the 4/24/2010 broadcast.

As anyone who follows politics already knows, portions of the unconstitutional "papers please" racial profiling anti-brown person law signed by the never elected Republican governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, were blocked Wednesday 7/28/2010.

Uninformed Conservatives responding to the news that the law, which was not needed and passed for political reasons, incorrectly accused the "Liberal" judge of accepting bribes from the Obama administration, ruling on high from her "ivory-tower", and having to (eventually) answer to God for the "lies" she fabricated in order to justify her ruling.

However, according to Attorney General Eric Holder the Arizona law "effectively skirt's the federal government's constitutional purview over foreign affairs", because it violates the Constitution's Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause states that federal law trumps state law (or state constitutions). US District Judge Susan Bolton, realizing that to quite clearly be the case, ruled accordingly. It was just that simple.

Being a Liberal, I am, of course, in favor of totally open borders and amnesty for all illegal aliens currently residing in our country. Racist Conservatives, blinded by their intense hatred of brown-skinned people (legal citizens or not), choose to ignore the Constitution when defending this law.

Actually, that is not entirely true - I am not in favor of open borders. I am in favor of not permitting US employers to drive down the wages of American workers through the hiring of undocumented immigrants. Simple economics will tell you that when the number of people looking for a job is greater than the number of jobs available, wages fall.

This situation is bad enough as it is, due to the bush recession and Republican efforts to depress union membership - we do not need to make a bad situation worse by allowing non-US citizens to compete for US jobs. Those jobs should be reserved for legal citizens.

Which means we need to strengthen employer sanctions against the hiring of undocumented workers. The problem is not that people are crossing our border illegally (or overstaying visas). The problem is not babies born to people illegal immigrants receiving birthright citizenship under the 14th amendment (often referred to derisively as "anchor babies".

The Migration Policy Institute, in a May 2004 article titled Evaluating Enhanced US Border Enforcement points out that the problem is "token workplace enforcement". Even though funding for border security has tripled over the last 10 years, it amounts to nothing more than a "weak deterrent" because, once over the border, an undocumented worker's chances of being arrested and deported are quite low.

The fact that there are an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants currently residing in our country undeniably proves that the REAL problem is workplace enforcement and NOT border security. People would stop trying to cross our southern border illegally if there were no jobs for them when they got here. It does not matter how much money we spend, people WILL NOT stop attempting to cross (successfully or unsuccessfully) the border until we get serious about workplace enforcement.

And, by the way, in addition to it being virtually impossible to "seal" the border (as some Republicans suggest), it would also not be wise. Because the border fence currently in place is a threat to endangered species.

Obviously the Arizona law, and other similar approaches, attack the problem from the entirely wrong direction. We should be prosecuting the employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. We also need to provide a reliable method by which an individual's right to work in the United States can be verified. Employers who wish to follow the law should be able to do so easily - without worring about being fooled by forged documentation.

The fact is that so-called "illegal aliens" are actually victims. Victims of poverty in their own countries, US trade policies, and of US employers who entice them to cross the border by illegally employing them when they get here. The current "illegal immigration" problem is actually an illegal employer problem.

And it was Ronald Reagan's failed 1986 amnesty that guaranteed the problem would not only continue but get worse. It signaled to anyone who enters our country illegally in the future that we approved, and all they needed to do was wait for the next amnesty to gain citizenship. (The Immigration Reform and Control Act is considered a failure not because it granted amnesty, but "because the strict sanctions on employers were stripped out of the bill [before] passage").

Republican politicians today refuse to address the real problem because the upper class desires a continual stream of cheap labor flowing into the country. They do not want to pay American workers a fair wage because it cuts into their profits. Republicans are happy to go along with this scheme because it keeps the campaign donations flowing, and energizes their base to get out and vote for the Party who wants to go after the "brown people" stealing American jobs (instead of the rich white guys who want virtual slave labor).

Militarizing the border, border fences, deportation statistics, ending birthright citizenship and denying social services are all Republican distractions designed to shift the blame from their wealthy corporate donors to people whose only goal is to escape poverty and provide for their families. People are dying attempting to cross our border. People could (potentially) die if denied medical services. As a Liberal I believe we have a moral obligation to ensure all inhabitants of our country have access to all the social services we provide (with a few possible exceptions), legal or illegal.

I don't understand how Republicans can vilify people who have accepted our INVITATION to come here and work. Make no mistake about it, we did invite them in - via weak enforcement of our immigration laws that have allowed tens of millions of people to stay years (or decades) in a country they are not citizens of. In my opinion our illegal immigration problem is due entirely (or almost entirely) to our virtual non-enforcement of own employment laws.

The answer to this problem unquestionably must be comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for people who have been here a certain length of time and committed no crimes while here (aside from entering the country illegally). Then we need to enforce the laws prohibiting the hiring of non-US citizens. All employers should be required to verify that anyone they hire is eligible to work in the US. Instead of wasting money on militarizing the border, that money should be going toward improving and expanding programs like E-verify.

(E-Verify is an Internet-based, free program run by the United States government that compares information from an employee's Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from US government records. If the information matches, that employee is eligible to work in the United States).

But according to Arizona's largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic, "Most Arizona employers aren't using E-Verify" - likely due to the fact that "if a business doesn't sign up for E-Verify, chances are slim it will be caught" and because "federal officials don't enforce Arizona's employer-sanctions law and state officials don't track who's signed up for E-Verify".

So why the hell was the passage of SB1070 necessary? The answer is that is wasn't. The "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" was passed for reasons purely political. A Libertarian blogger, writing on "The Daily Paul" correctly points out that this law is an attempt to circumvent people's 4th (protection against unreasonable searches and seizures) and 5th (due process guarantee) Amendment rights.

Under the fourth amendment "a police officer does not have the authority to arrest someone for refusing to identify himself when he is not suspected of committing a crime". It is a crime to be in the United States illegally, but having brown skin does not qualify as probable cause. Jan Brewer herself said "I do not know what an illegal alien looks like", yet she signed into law a bill that will lead to the harassment of legal US citizens of Hispanic ancestry.

Jan Brewer was not elected to Arizona's governorship. She was elevated to the position when former Governor Janet Napolitano accepted Barack Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security job offer. Now the former Arizona Secretary of State (a position to which she was narrowly elected) recognizes that she needs to energize the Republican brown-skin-people-hating base or the governorship could revert to Democratic hands.

I'd never hear of Jan Brewer before the controversy regarding this law. Now that she has gained national prominence and the support of frustrated voters and bigots across the country, her campaign coffers are most likely overflowing money being spent by "outside groups" advocating on her behalf will likely be quite significant.

Arizona's Yuma Sun reports that "The Republican Governors Association has put more than $1.1 million into its Arizona account", which when you take into account the money she has already received though public financing, is double how much will be spent by, and on behalf of, her Democratic challenger, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.

The Yuma Sun also reports that Brewer currently maintains a "double-digit lead over Goddard", which probably explains why The Democratic Governors Association has, so far, set aside virtually no dollars in support of AG Goddard. The reason for this lead, however, is not because "the American people have spoken" or any such nonsense. It is because many Americans believe the Right-wing spin regarding the immigration problem. And the reason they believe it is because the Democrats, for the most part, refuse to explain what the actual problem is.

There are small groups on both sides (Conservative and Liberal) that correctly identify that the problem is illegal hiring by business, although they are unfortunately in the minority. Most Republicans are thrilled with things the way they are, because continuing to vilify brown people keeps the donations flowing from corporate America, and earns them the support of misinformed voters. Democrats, realizing that money wins elections, feel that they have no choice but to kowtow to the corporations, and to support spending billions militarizing the border - when our border defenses are not the root cause of the problem.

Because the Democrats know that "illegal immigrants" are actually the victims in this equation, they refuse to vilify them. For this I applaud my Party. Both Republicans and Democrats are, however, dead wrong regarding what we need to do first when tackling "comprehensive immigration reform". The first step is not to "secure our borders" (against an illegal immigrant "invasion") as the Republicans would have us believe, nor is it establishing a "path to citizenship" as the Democrats insist.

While both should be components of any immigration reform bill, the first step must be to stop enticing non-US to enter our country illegally by allowing US employers to offer them jobs. If there are no jobs for them when they get here they will stop coming, it is that simple. And those who do not qualify for the "path to citizenship" will leave.

I'm not going to get into who should qualify, or what the process of the "path to citizenship" should be with this post, except to say that it won't be fair - because there is no way it can be. Critics will say that people who have broken the law by entering our country illegally shouldn't be rewarded with citizenship. I believe that this criticism might have some validity, if not for the fact that our government has granted it's de facto approval of "illegal immigration" by virtue of it's refusal to prosecute employers for illegal hiring practices.

In conclusion - I'm in favor of enforcing the laws against employing non-US citizens which are already on the books, and strengthening and expanding the E-Verify program - and opposed to unconstitutional laws that encourage racial profiling and the violation of the rights of legal US citizens who happen to have brown skin. I'm also opposed to punishing the victims of our immigration and employment laws (and the non-enforcement of said laws), and in favor of a "fair" (relatively speaking) "path to citizenship".

That is where our efforts should be concentrated, instead of on diversions involving the vilification of brown skinned people. Unfortunately this is exactly where the Republicans will continue to focus their energies - because it benefits them politically. Unfortunately practicing racism for political reasons appears to be working.

Further Reading
[1] REAL ID Act, Wikipedia entry
[2] Arizona's one-man prison industry by The Rachel Maddow Show writers 8/14/2010.
[3] U.S./Mexico Border Wall Risks Endangered Species Extinctions from Gene Isolation. Just say NO to Border Wall!! 8/28/2008.

SWTD #49

Friday, August 06, 2010

The U.S. Republic Is Dead, Long Live The U.S. Democracy?

What is wrong with us, America? Why are people not in the streets? Your Republic is over ~ Glenn Beck (b. 2/10/1964) The Tea Party Prophet ranting on the 7/22/2010 edition of his television program.

To answer Glenn Beck's question, it must be because we are a republic when there is a Republican in the White House and a democracy when the president is a Democrat - and in the last election, the people voted for democracy. The reason Republicans like to insist the United States is a republic and not a democracy because "republic" sounds like "Republican" and implies that their party best represents the vision of our Founders.

Prior to 1787 the words "democracy" and "republic" were interchangeable. Before the ratification of the Constitution, the form of government our Founders sought to institute was referred to as a representative democracy (and still is by the rest of the world). James Madison created the artificial distinction in Federalist No. 10.

Ironically, Federalist No. 10 argued that the United States government should not be partisan! Ironic because our government has never been more partisan than it is today. The Founding Fathers would be horrified by the modern day Republican Party's attempt to deliberately sabotage our economy.

The Democratic Senator from Michigan, Debbie Stabenow recently observed, "it is very clear that the Republicans in the Senate want this economy to fail. They see that things are beginning to turn around. In cynical political terms, it doesn't serve them in terms of their election interests if things are beginning to turn around".

Keep this in mind the next time you hear a Right-winger rabidly proclaim that we're a republic and NOT a democracy. Although it isn't quite as nonsensical as their other assertions regarding the Founding Fathers (that they were, for the most part, Conservative Christians who used the Bible as their guide when writing the Constitution), their simplistic view is a misrepresentation of historical fact. If you encounter a Right-winger who wants to play that game simply point out to them that it was the Democratic party that first paid tribute to our "republican" form of government and can trace it's beginnings back to Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party.

On second thought, it's probably far to complicated for your average tea-party type to comprehend. The Democratic-Republican Party is referred to as such by historians to differentiate Jefferson's Party from the modern Republican Party. However, while the Party officially was the "Democratic-Republican Party", and members referred to themselves as Republicans, the Democratic-Republican Party was actually the forerunner to today's modern Democratic Party (they represented yeoman farmers and the working class).

The Republican Party is the modern day incarnation of the Federalist Party, which was formed to represent the interests of urban bankers and businessmen. The Federalists, who distrusted the public and believed that government should be run by the elites, were "too wedded to an upper-class style to win the support of ordinary voters". This explains their eventual demise.

The political Party representing the elite and the wealthy today is undoubtedly Republican. Yet average Americans continue to vote for their candidates. Unbelievably Republicans are expected to gain seats in the November election, possibly retaking the House. When will the average voter wise up and vote for the Party which most represents the people? How much longer do we have to wait, and how much more damage can our representative democracy endure before the voters set this Party clearly on the path to it's eventual demise?

On a positive note, after the November elections it will be possible for the Senate to change the filibuster rule. At the beginning of every new Senate the rules for that session are voted on by it's members. Only a simple majority is needed to reform the abused filibuster. "The Constitution's framers never meant to design a system that would enable the GOP's modern level of obstruction". I think that, after the election and provided the Democrats hold the House, we may actually get a Congress that is more effective than the current one.

If the Democrats don't hold the House, then it may only be a matter of time before the people take to the streets, because our representative democracy will be over. The will of the people will be supplanted by the will of the wealthy elites. Congress will grind to a virtual halt. Instead of bills designed to stimulate the economy and get people back to work, the House will concentrate on cutting taxes for the upper class and investigating President Obama.

In my opinion this upcoming election will determine the fate of our country for many years to come. Will we chose to help the Democrats pull our nation out of recession, or elect Republicans and slide into a full blown depression?

Buzzflash guest commentator Stephen Crockett asks, "Is the Republican Victory Plan Another Great Depression?"... Tax cuts at the highest marginal incomes brackets do concentrate wealth and political power in the hands of the economic elite. ... This reduces the ability of most Americans to buy goods and services. As a result, the economy unwinds because customers do not have enough disposable income to keep the flow of goods and services at a healthy economic level. (7/31/2010).

Further Reading
[1] House GOP "Jobs Plan" Would Give Billions In Budget Busting Tax Breaks To Huge Corporations by Ethan Berman, The Wonk Room 8/3/2010.
[2] Momentum For Senate Filibuster Reform Builds by Ryan Grim & Sam Stein, The Huffington Post 7/26/2010.

SWTD #48