Saturday, May 17, 2008

Y'all Come Now, Y'hear?

-- by Sara

In about half an hour (2:00 PDT, 5:00 EDT), I'll be hosting the FDL book salon. I'm kind of excited about it -- particularly given that I've been discussing the coming generational shift for a while now, and 2008 is shaping up to be the year we finally get it.

My guests, Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, have written entire book on this shift -- what's creating it, how the Democrats can best navigate it (and how not to screw it up), and what it means for the next 40 years of American politics. Their thesis draws on William Strauss and Neil Howe's saecular theory of history, which is the theory that got me interested in futures in the first place. After all these years, it's still got more predictive value than any other theory I've encountered, and Millennial Makeover shows in very concrete terms how that theory is playing out right now.

Come on by and say hi. We'll be around for a couple of hours.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hey, Didja Hear The One About The Uppity Black Man?

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

The NRA Convention is always good for a few ripe samples of eliminationist right-wing "humor," but today, Mike Huckabee reached new depths:
During a speech before the National Rifle Association convention Friday afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee — who has endorsed presumptive GOP nominee John McCain — joked that an unexpected offstage noise was Democrat Barack Obama looking to avoid a gunman.

“That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he’s getting ready to speak,” said the former Arkansas governor, to audience laughter. “Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.”
If that was another Obama dog whistle we just heard, then we should contemplate what it was whistling. It’s not as though we don’t know who the target audience might be.

In the meantime, I do hope Huckabee doesn’t try the "they took it out of context" defense. The video above includes the larger context of Huckabee’s remarks, which were all about how those libruls are a bunch of worthless elitists who hate Real Americans.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Corruption Bubbles Up Amid The Immigration ‘Crackdown’

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

Whenever you hear nativists like Lou Dobbs and Tom Tancredo wank endlessly about "cracking down on illegal immigration," you always hear them give lip service to the idea that they also have to crack down on the people who are doing the hiring. That’s why Bush’s "immigration crackdown," when announced, featured lots of talk about making employers toe the line too.

But this week’s immigration raids in Iowa – like similar raids elsewhere — have made clear that this is all just a lot of empty wank. The reality, as always, is that the impoverished brown people are the only ones facing consequences.

So far, the chief employer involved in the raids, Agriprocessors Inc., has not been charged with anything, nor have the plant’s managers or owners been rounded up like cattle and herded into detention centers.

I wonder if this couldn’t be because one of its top officials is a major donor to Republicans:
A top official at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville that was the subject of an immigration enforcement action Monday is an active Republican campaign contributor, records show.

Sholom Rubashkin, whose family owns the company, since 2000 has made $23,750 in federal campaign contributions, according to Federal Election Commission records.
That includes $5,750 to the Republican Party of Iowa from 2002 through 2004.
Rubashkin also gave $2,000 to Rep. Tom Latham, an Ames Republican, in 2004; $1,500 to candidate William Dix in 2006; $3,000 to candidate Stan Thompson from 2001 through 2004; $2,000 to Sen. Charles Grassley of New Hartford in 2004; and $2,500 to former Rep. Jim Nussle in 2000 and 2002.

Grassley collected another $2,000 each from Abraham Rubashkin, Leah Rubashkin and Ryfka Rubashkin, all of Postville, in August 2004.
To be fair, it seems that other plant officials have also given money to some Democrats. But the fact remains that the people who should be joining the Latino immigrants behind bars — and are not — are people with heavy GOP connections. The Register story notes:
Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, said there are hundreds of children in Postville whose lives will be changed by the raid, and he wants to make sure they are a priority.
"If people have broken the law, there should be consequences," he said. "I’ll be interested to see if federal authorities will be bringing any charges against the employer."
Well, as Frank Sharry at America’s Voice observes:
We know that the Swift Company never faced any charges after the raid in Marshalltown, and the enforcement of immigration violations against corporations has plummeted during the Bush administration. Until we enforce our immigration laws equally against both employers and employees who break the law, we will continue to have a problem with immigration.
Dee at Immigration Talk has a particular insight into the whys of this raid:
Because there is an ongoing Iowa and federal labor law violations investigation of Agriprocessors and the union fears Rubashkin will use the raid to intimidate workers and throw the next unionization vote.

Mark Lauritsen, International Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers, wrote a May 2 letter to ICE: ICE action could result in employees leaving the plant, interfering with a government investigation that would “ultimately uncover unscrupulous employer acts,” he said.
The most disturbing aspect of these raids, as always, is the horrendous effects they have on immigrant families, particularly children. In Iowa, because of the size of the raid, it could be a significant problem:
Children of detainees might not be cared for if the detainees were afraid to tell immigration officials that they have children, said Sister Mary McCauley of St. Bridget’s Catholic Church.

McCauley said she’s concerned that those who were detained after the Monday morning raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant were afraid their children would be arrested.

“Some could still be in an apartment, maybe with an aunt or older brother or sister,” McCauley said. “How would they get food if they’re afraid to go outside?”

McCauley said her concerns were echoed by many inside the church, where illegal immigrants have gathered since after the raid, seeking sanctuary.

“How do we get into the houses to find out when they’re afraid to open the door?” McCauley said.

Trevor Seibert, who owns 20 apartments in Postville that he said are mostly rented by Hispanics, said he went door-to-door on Monday to check if any children were left unsupervised.

He found all children with an adult, but now fears that many apartments are left unoccupied by Agriprocessors workers who fled Postville after the raid.
So much for those "family values" Republicans.

Nicola Wells and the folks at Standing FIRM have much, much more.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Handling Immigrants The Republican Way — Like Cattle

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

 It’s not without reason that Latinos in the USA are feeling terrorized these days, thanks largely to the increasing "crackdown" in illegal immigrants being pursued by ICE officials. This week in Iowa, they had the largest immigration raid yet:
The number of illegal immigrants detained Monday in Postville has risen to 390 in what federal officials now describe as the largest single-site raid of its kind nationwide.
The detainees include 314 men and 76 women, according to figures released this morning by federal authorities. Fifty-six detainees – mostly women with young children – have been released under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We’re here to discuss not only the largest operation of its kind ever in Iowa, but in fact the largest single-site enforcement operation of its kind in the country,” U.S. Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth said.

The detainees included 290 who claimed to be Guatemalans, 93 Mexicans, three Israelis and four Ukrainians. Among the detained were 12 juveniles, six of whom have been released.
It’s all reminiscent, as the folks at America’s Voice pointed out, of the kind of "round ‘em up, ship ‘em out, and let God sort it out" rhetoric favored by the nativist faction that’s overtaken the Republican Party nowadays, especially folks like Rep. Steve King, the Iowa congressman seen in the video above equating undocumented to workers to cattle and saying, among other things:
We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that wouldn’t kill somebody but would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do this with livestock all the time.
As Frank Sharry at America’s Voice observes:
The Bush Administration has given up on real immigration reform to join Congressman Steve King and other Republicans who advocate mass round-ups of immigrant workers. The latest immigration raid in Iowa is an ugly example of the Republican thrust on the complex issue of illegal immigration: scare the public into thinking that immigrant workers are the enemy, round them up like cattle, terrorize immigrant communities in hopes they will leave the country, and pray it helps Republicans win elections this fall.

Moreover, as Joshua Holland at AlterNet recently explored, these kinds of mass roundups are always a bad idea, and always produce atrocities — not to mention a big hangover for civic leaders afterward:
Arizona’s new "enforcement only" immigration law, which mandates the use of an electronic verification system and subjects employers to the loss of their business license for hiring the wrong person, has turned out to be a disaster that might rank up there with the Edsel or New Coke in the pantheon of bone-headed ideas.

The state had a very low unemployment rate when the law was passed — it was, at least in part, a "solution" to a problem they didn’t have. Unemployment was at 4.1 percent when the law went into effect in January, and had been at 3.7 percent when a judge upheld the measure in early 2007.

Law-makers are now scrambling to undo the shock they’ve inflicted on the state as up to eight percent of the population — according to one estimate — have decided to hightail it out of Arizona en masse. The people of Arizona are learning that immigrants not only supply labor, but also demand goods and services in turn — and the labor that goes into them. They’re also learning that newer immigrant communities have a mix of people with different legal status all jumbled together, and that when there is a widespread perception that politicians (and citizens) are attacking immigrants, it doesn’t much matter that some differentiate between those who are "legal" and "illegal" — Arizona is losing citizens and lawful permanent residents among that eight percent drop in population.
Arizona is now faced with labor shortages, and when combined with the loss in demand from all those worker/consumers, the whole enchilada might end up costing the state’s economy tens of billions of dollars.
I have a hunch the fine folks of Iowa are eventually going to feel a similar hangover. And they can thank their good Republican representatives for it when they do.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

McCain Courts Voters The Moneyed Republican Way

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

 It looks like John McCain is getting some of his campaign pointers from the Bush Squad. Today he’s going to be campaigning here in my Seattle neck of the woods, but the public won’t ever see him.
No, he’s doing it the classic Republican way: With an elite fund-raiser costing a mere $33,100 per person. And you better be ready to pony up the big bucks if you want to hang with this crowd:
McCain has scheduled a 5 p.m., $10,000 per person photo reception at the Hyatt, followed by a $2,300 per person VIP reception and a $1,000 general reception. A Victory Dinner that costs $33,100 per person begins at 7 p.m.
Why isn’t McCain doing anything public here in the Seattle area? Why not get out and grip a few babies?

Well, maybe it has something to do with McCain’s public and not-so-public support for (and involvement with) Airbus — an association that recently meant Boeing lost out on a big DOD tanker contract, costing the state thousands of jobs.

Of course, our wealthy Republicans, like wealthy Republicans everywhere, aren’t really all that concerned about the plight of the proles, so they’re evidently happy to write checks. But meanwhile, for working-class and otherwise "normal" Washingtonians, John McCain is roughly the equivalent of
a possum who’s been hanging out in the middle of the road for a few weeks.

Which no doubt explains why all the money being raised at this fund-raiser isn’t going toward Washington Republicans. It’s going elsewhere — to the Republican parties of Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Wisconsin, all of which are potential swing states this fall.

Indeed, it’s probably a bit of a blessing. It’s highly unlikely we’ll be forced to endure a McCain visit this fall, because Republicans aren’t really fond of massive crowds of protesters populated largely by working-class folks. If he does campaign in Washington, it’ll likely be over in the more GOP-friendly eastern side of the state (though even that is a gamble, since Boeing is also a big employer there).

Most likely he’ll find excuses to campaign elsewhere.

McCain’s fund-raiser, incidentally, is taking place in Darcy Burner’s back yard. Darcy suggests a donation of $33.10 to her campaign as a statement about the difference between the new generation of Democrats, and old-style Republican hacks like John McCain.