February 10, 2011

United, we stand.

Posted in economic recovery, foreclosure crisis, health care, immigration, role of government, soft bigotry, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , at 11:01 am by realitytax

Miami Herald LogoThe President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, joined with Gaby Pacheco on an Op-Ed piece in the Wednesday Miami Herald, “DREAM Act – keep trying” intended to reinvigorate the discussion of immigration.

“It is time for President Obama and Congress to take action on meaningful immigration reform, to turn these dreams to reality and to move our country and our economy forward.”

Wednesday, 02.09.11

Who is Gaby Pacheco? Gaby is an “undocumented, DREAM-Act eligible youth” from Miami, risking a fair bit by stepping into the limelight.

Richard Trumka of the AFL CIO

AFL CIO President Richard Trumka

Like it or not, immigration is the most powerful force in shaping our culture, and has been for centuries. Trumka and Pacheco have it right, asserting that our immigration “system” will not fix itself. So, what should the role of the department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the rest of the state and federal agencies dealing with immigration be?

Well, if you believe some, government can’t get anything right, and should just throw in the towel and disband. I’m not one of those. We elect people to work for us in Washington (and in our state governments, too.) The reality is: without government there would be no immigration policy, let alone men and women paid to enforce it; we’d be practicing the model currently used in Somalia. Somalia, where piracy plays a central role in the economy – and thinking people find the means to leave if they possibly can.

It’s misleading for politicians and pundits to talk about reducing the size of government, cutting taxes, cutting the deficit, and lessening “government interference in our lives” while at the same time arguing for more immigration agents, more prisons, building democracies in other nations, and fixing the economy to help the middle class recover from the banking and mortgage crisis that came from deregulating Wall Street. Double talk won’t form a more perfect union, let alone ensure domestic tranquility, ok?

We’ve always believed that the way to make this country great is to ensure that future generations will enjoy a higher standard of living. That won’t happen if they can’t buy homes because they can’t even afford health insurance, while politicians cater to the whims of special interest money funneled to their incredibly expensive campaigns.

I’m not saying every tax dollar is spent wisely – we can’t even account for squandered billions simply “lost” during the abysmal Iraq reconstruction, for instance – but that’s precisely why it’s time to talk about running our government as a whole, and every agency within it, better and more carefully. Planning for the future, financial experts advise, is always about investing strategically and ensuring diversity.

“At a time when business is loudly advocating for importing skilled workers, politicians and corporate CEOs are ignoring the fact that some of our best and brightest are already here, but pushed into an underground economy where they can’t actively participate.”

Wednesday, 02.09.11

If you believe that government should work for us, that our elected officials should work for us, that partnering with business to ensure our economic viability as a nation is a key to a future where our children can thrive and prosper, then it’s time to stop focusing on the messages that divide us.

That’s why I applaud, and stand with, that third-generation Pennsylvania coal miner Richard Trumka, and Gaby Pacheco, a DREAM Act-eligible youth from Florida, as they talk about jobs, the economy, and immigration — which the Congress seems to lack the courage and vision to address. It’s time for our elected leaders to stop playing politics and do what we sent them to do – create real solutions.

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May 25, 2009

Texans won’t be seceding from the union

Posted in GOP, media coverage, racism, soft bigotry, states' rights tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:30 am by realitytax

Oh I know, there’s a lot of talk about states’ rights, and they’ve got a governor making noises to insure he’s getting lots of PR,  but at the end of the day?  Texans don’t want to secede, they’re proud to be Americans – in fact, many Texans look on themselves as iconic of Americans.

Will they threaten? Absolutely they will. Collectively these are very shrewd, savvy folks when it comes to negotiating, so if Governor Rick Perry has made anti-D.C. rhetoric the theme of the month by deliberately raising secession at a tea-bag event they will talk the talk – but they’re too smart to walk out. Do you realize how much federal money flows into Texas each year? Do you think they want to give up the U.S. military bases, or NASA? Do you think most Texans want to deal with the drugs and violence spilling across the border from Mexico without federal dollars and agents to bolster that fight?

I’m not certain Governor Perry is manipulating the Texas voters or the national media for personal political gain, but consider this: Do you think the governor and his advisers don’t realize the benefit of federal funding for the wall at the border has for local construction jobs, for instance? Would the good folks of Dallas surrender the slogan of their NFL Cowboys as “America’s Team”?

Of course not.

Nor do they want to work out the price of buying back the federally owned land or start paying for the maintenance of interstate highways – and believe me, the highways matter a lot more in Texas than they do in your smaller states. But they will loyally back their governor, and they are an independent lot, so anybody doing a survey is bound to find a fair amount of pro-secession sentiment expressed -well, maybe less so over Memorial Day weekend, or the 4th of July, but few people watching veterans on parade, or fireworks while the national anthem plays, really want to secede.

And there’s no day of the year your survey in Texas would show greater support there for extending Bush’s tax cuts for the rich than in some other state after his spending priorities shorted armor for troops on the ground in Iraq. So actually, just how much pro-seccesion sentiment you found would probably have a whole lot to do with exactly how you framed the question.

So what’s Perry up to?

I hope he’s just trying to attract national press coverage, in the tried and true manner of politicians almost everywhere.  Perhaps he senses the chaos in the GOP leadership as a vacuum, and wants to position himself for a Presidential bid (although in the wake of G. W. Bush that hasn’t been a smooth path for GOP governors.) The alternative, though, if this isn’t about boosting his “federal cred” by raising the issue of federalism as he suggested last week, is dark indeed for those of us old enough to recall what the rallying cry of “states’ rights” has meant in politics in this country.

The reality is that “states’ rights” hasn’t been about the federal government, or taxes, it’s been a call to white bigots.  By raising it, and then backing away and saying it’s just a discussion about a legal principle, has Perry sent his signal to those who hear it another way? Some of us recall George Wallace flanked by Alabama State Troopers, exerting states’ rights to exclude black children from “white” schools. There’s been a lot of progress in the country since that era, and most Texans aren’t bigots, but that doesn’t change what that phrase has signalled for most of the time since the civil war. 

States’ Rights has consistently been the politically correct way of  saying we’ve got to keep minorities from attaining power, wealth, or influence.  I’m not saying there’s no bigotry left in Texas, or that President Barack Obama’s campaign and election stopped nay-sayers on all sides of the racism issue dead in their tracks. In Texas, though, there’s precious little tolerance for slippery politically correct double-speak .

You might argue that Reagan got away with a covert shout-out to white racists in a speech in Mississippi in 1980, but this isn’t the same electorate, or the same mood, that dominated the country then – and Perry may be shooting his political career in the foot. He’s arguably signaled the most extreme members of the GOP at a tea-party despite quickly back-walking from the rhetoric for the national press. Would his leadership further distance the Republicans from the values of moderate Americans?

The state that’s famous for knowing when a politician is, “all hat – no cattle,” is surely gathering around the grills and picnic tables this summer wondering just where their Governor’s going with this.

Is Perry reaching out to the most extreme members of the GOP despite walking back his rhetoric?

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October 2, 2008

Much ado about…Gwen Ifill? Soft bigotry of low expectations for Gov. Palin

Posted in 2008 debate, 2008 Elections, media coverage, PBS, Presidential campaign, Sarah Palin, Senator Barack H. Obama, soft bigotry, U.S. Economy, VP tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:12 am by realitytax

Seriously? The extremists with an audience are out in full force today ranting that Gwen Ifill, the moderator of the much-anticipated October 2 Vice Presidential Debate, isn’t without bias. Michelle Malkin, for example, is outraged that Ifill has a book in the works about Senator Barack Obama. Mind you, it hasn’t been released yet, so Malkin could be just a shill trying to help Ifill’s publicity in advance, but I think the motive is likely more insidious.

Gwen Ifill, of PBSMs. Malkin could be lowering expectations of Governor Palin’s performance – even setting up an excuse in advance. Something along the lines of: “Nobody could expect the Governor to do well with a liberal ostensibly moderating the debate…” I realize Malkin’s an avowed opponent of multiculturalism, but to set up the “soft bigotry of low expectation” on the eve of the debate seems more than a little disingenuous.

I admit that despite being a fiscal conservative I find the Governor’s reported biblical literalism out of step with my preferred post-Darwinian point of view. I realize, too, that any number of proud social conservatives have expressed reservations over Palin’s readiness and/or suitability for the position of Vice President. But it behooves us to grant Governor Palin her time in the limelight, to approach the evening with as open a mind as is possible as we focus on the issues important to the voters – the economic bailout being considered by congress, deregulation, Iraq, taxes, and health care to name a few obvious issues more important than the fact a professional journalist from a non-commercial network is also an author. It’s not time to distract us by creating false controversy about the moderator.

Yes, it’s false controversy, though the echo chamber that surrounds right-wing pundits was in full fettle today. Ultimately even the Fox network (surely at least as “in the tank” for the Republican ticket as Ms. Ifill is accused of being for the Democrats) had to concede that Senator McCain has the utmost respect for Gwen Ifill, and is more than satisfied that she’ll serve ably and professionally as a moderator.

In fact, we arguably learn more about a candidate from a slightly adversarial interviewer (or moderator) than we would from somebody lobbing easy questions.  Governor Palin is something of an unknown on the national political scene in the U.S., and the campaign has not to this point made her very available for interviews or press conferences.  This is her chance to shine – and I, for one, expect her to do a creditable job in the spotlight.  This is not her first debate, and anyone ready to be Vice President surely has to be ready, willing, and able to handle questions from a PBS moderator in a controlled situation.  

Much ado about nothing

Will Ms. Ifill present more rigor than Charlie Gibson or Katie Couric?  Probably so. The late Tim Russert might have been rugged in this sort of context, but Gwen Ifill? Why are the right-leaning pundits so concerned? Why are they making this about people, not issues? And even if she is up against a more experienced, worldly debater in Senator Joe Biden, she’s been prepping for weeks; it’s show time! 

She’s not being asked to talk to Jon Stewart, after all.

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