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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Mr. President, Please Build That Wall!?

Category: US Politics
Posted: 06/19/07 15:47

by Dave Mindeman

Let's build a wall.

That's what we need. A wall. A monument to our total ineptness.

We are fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have troops stationed in South Korea, Germany, Kuwait, and Japan. We have a defense budget which would rank in the top 10 for world economies. Yet, we need to build a wall.

A wall to secure and protect us from people who are doing the same thing that our immigrant ancestors wanted to do. To better themselves....to find a new life.

In this day and age, you would think that building walls would be a measure for protection. Yet, this wall has very little to do with that. No, this wall is merely a symbol. A symbol of a broken immigration system. A biased immigration system. A non-workable bureaucratic immigration system.

Our politicians need something tangible...something for show. They can't or won't inspect more than 1% of the goods that go through our ports. They can't or won't stop a man with a virulent strain of TB crossing our northern border. They have an ever growing "watch" list of over half a million people filled with grandmothers, babies, and dead people. They have unmanageable waiting lists of people requesting immigration while at the same time can't keep track of people on temporary visas.

Estimated cost of this "wall" is $2.2 billion... when all is said and done it will be more than that. Couldn't this money be better spent modernizing a pathetic visa record keeping system? or putting together a comprehensive guest worker program that keeps track of who comes in and who comes out? or making a watch list that is actually useful?

To classify this immigration debate as "securing our borders" is a cruel joke. Frankly, any debate about securing borders would put a wall on our southern border way down the list of priorities.

But build it, we shall. Why, because we need something to point to... something to show the world how truly incompetent we are.
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September: Deadline or Redefined Goals...Again?

Category: US Politics
Posted: 06/18/07 13:07

by Dave Mindeman

Amy Klobuchar, on MPR this morning, stated that the so-called "September" deadline on Iraq progress is her deadline, too. But what does a "deadline" mean? Deadline for what exactly? Pulling out all the troops? Pulling out most of the troops? A deadline for Iraqi government benchmarks? Deadline for "progress"? What?

The main problem as Klobuchar stated, is that the Senate really has only 49 Democrat votes that can be mustered against the war. Senator Tim Johnson may be back in the fall and he will make it 50....but the total needed to get anything done is the cloture total of 60.

That means Republicans hold the final cards. If the war continues, the Republicans will make it so. If the war is to end, then the Republican minority will have to say...enough.

The expectations game for the September report is already being lowered considerably. General Petraus wants a longer term outlook. Tony Snow has been talking about incremental progress rather than any improved outlook.

But it was the President who set the original expectations. He pushed the "surge" as an answer that would lead to a real solution. He even predicted a summer of increased violence in anticipation of good news in September. Well, we got the increased violence but good news is now being redefined.

The idea, from the beginning, was to give the Iraqi government a chance to meet their legislative goals with a calmer Baghdad to work in. But the government cannot act. There are too many fractured groups. Al-Maliki and the legislative body do not speak with the same voice....and the excuses grow tiresome.

So, come September...where will Norm Coleman be? What will Jim Ramstad be thinking? Will progress end up being more of the same or will progress be defined as bringing troops home?

Political courage is a rare commodity.....but both countries need it desperately.
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Spinning "Straw" Into More Fearmongering

Category: US Politics
Posted: 06/16/07 17:35

by Paul Bartlett

Each and every time the Republicans make a mess -- and they do it with predictable regularity -- they manufacture a distraction. A straw-man. The distraction is always disingenuous nonsense, intended to draw attention away from the Republican mess de jour. Recent distractions include gays in the military, Terry Schiavo, Intelligent Design (aka, creationism), men telling women what they can do with their bodies, flag burning, gay marriage, etc.. The Republicans don't really care about these issues.

Joining that list of distractions are the estimated twelve million
undocumented Mexicans, in this country, doing the back-breaking work that puts food on our tables. Mexican migrants have planted our crops and harvested our food for decades. I know; I'm a 58 year old man who toiled shoulder to shoulder with Mexican migrants when I was just a kid, working on Door County, Wisconsin farms owned by my relatives. And those Mexicans had followed earlier generations, dating back to about 1900.

Americans are easily conned into believing there is a looming
immigration disaster. Nonsense. Are we so myopic that we are blind to our own history? The American economy has relied on Mexican migrant labor for decades, and every American consumer has enjoyed the benefit: cheap food.

Mass deportation would result in an economic tsunami for this nation and the helpless lives that politicians so callously toy with.
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