May 31, 2007

U. S. Economy Shows Lowest Growth Since 2002

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 9:29 am

Jeannine Aversa, The Huffington Post, may 31, 2007

WASHINGTON – The economy nearly stalled in the first quarter with growth slowing to a pace of just 0.6 percent. That was the worst three-month showing in over four years.

The new reading on the gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department Thursday, showed that economic growth in the January-through-March quarter was much weaker. Government statisticians slashed by more than half their first estimate of a 1.3 percent growth rate for the quarter.

The main culprits for the downgrade: the bloated trade deficit and businesses cutting investment in supplies of the goods they hold in inventories.

“We are still keeping our head above water _ barely,” said economist Ken Mayland of ClearView Economics.

For nearly a year, the economy has been enduring a stretch of subpar economic growth due mostly to a sharp housing slump. That in turn has made some businesses act more cautiously in their spending and investing.

The economy’s 0.6 percent growth rate in the opening quarter of this year marked a big loss of momentum from the 2.5 percent pace logged in the final quarter of last year.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doesn’t believe the economy will slide into recession this year, nor do Bush administration officials. But ex Fed chief Alan Greenspan has put the odds at one in three.

The first-quarter’s performance was the weakest since the final quarter of 2002, when the economy recovering from a recession. At that time, GDP eked out a 0.2 percent growth rate. Economists were predicting the first-quarter performance this year would be downgraded, but not as much as it did. They were calling for a 0.8 percent growth rate pace.

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Robert Parry: Bush’s Killer Iraq Talking Points

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 9:18 am

Robert Parry, Consortium News, May 30, 2007

It’s an old military adage that bad intel can get soldiers killed, but it now turns out that false talking points may be even more lethal, a lesson that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney continue to teach the world as the death toll mounts in Iraq.

In pounding the Democratic-controlled Congress into submission on Iraq War funding last week, the President and Vice President let loose a withering barrage of non-sequiturs, appeals to fear, long-discredited canards and personal attacks on critics for endangering U.S. troops.

Fearing an escalation of the rhetorical assault over the Memorial Day weekend, Democratic leaders crumbled, reneging on their vow that Bush would never again be given a blank check. Instead they cleared the way for a bipartisan vote that handed the President more than $100 billion without any meaningful strings attached.

But Bush’s Iraq War talking points – while appealing to some Americans and frightening some Democrats – remain a potpourri of cherry-picked intelligence, irrational arguments and outright lies.

Back were some golden oldies – like Saddam Hussein failing to comply with U.N. demands to get rid of his WMD, even though the world knows that he did – and some newer favorites – like the need to listen when al-Qaeda boasts about driving the U.S. out of Iraq, although U.S. intelligence knows al-Qaeda actually believes that “prolonging the war” is in its interest.

At the May 23 Coast Guard commencement, Bush reprised some of his old talking points and unveiled a new one, citing intelligence that Osama bin Laden tasked al-Qaeda forces in Iraq in January 2005 to conduct terrorist attacks outside of Iraq, including possibly the United States. “I’ve often warned that if we fail in Iraq, the enemy will follow us home,” Bush said.

“Many ask, ‘How do you know?’ Today, I’d like to share some information with you that attests to al-Qaeda’s intentions.” Bush then laid out the story of bin Laden ordering Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to divert some of his operatives in Iraq to terrorist activities outside Iraq.

“Bin Laden emphasized that America should be Zarqawi’s number one priority in terms of foreign attacks,” Bush said. “Zarqawi welcomed this direction; he claimed that he had already come up with some good proposals.”

The operations, however, were thwarted, Bush said, and Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. bombing raid inside Iraq in June 2006.

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Bush Administration Vows to Stop Meatpacking Company From Testing All Cattle for Mad Cow Disease

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 9:05 am

Mat Apuzzo, The Associated Press, , May 30, 2007

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The Agriculture Department tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef.

But Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too.

The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

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May 30, 2007

How To Get The Federal Govt On Our Side.

Filed under: Uncategorized — grimgold @ 11:03 pm

This is it! Here, finally, is the answer to the huge problem the federal government has become. First, let me summarize the problem, then the answer.
Every person who works for the Federal Government wants more money and job security, just like the rest of us. For example, in Washington D.C. in a drab stone building, and in one of thousands of dusty cubicles, sits the operations manager of The Department of Very Important Stuff. He spends his days plotting and planning, his nights dreaming and scheming, intent on expanding his domain and increasing its importance, so he can hire more staff. Why? Because the more people he has working for him, the more responsibility he can demonstrate and the more easily he can justify his next pay increase at review time. Not only that, if in the rare event his funding is cut, he can reduce staff and do their jobs personally, thereby cushioning himself against layoff. If they could, these people would take all our income, put the money through the system, then mail each of us checks, not because they dislike us, but because it would help justify their bureaucratic existence.
This, as I see it, is the present condition of our federal bureaucracy.

Furthermore, as layer upon layer of invisible federal employees have continuously worked in this ever expanding manner in order to maintain employment, the federal government has steadily grown until today it is the nation’s largest employer.
As a result of this absurdity, both husband and wife must work, one to pay the bills, the other to pay the taxes to support this sea of bureaucrats.
Gargantuan amounts of money pour into Washington and are funneled into bloated, pork, earmarked programs. Then, with straight faces, wide-eyed innocent-looking bureaucrats whine for ever more cash and power, always hungry, never satisfied, continually working to expand their empires.
So what’s to be done to clean up this awful mess?

Surprisingly, this isn’t difficult: the expenditures of the federal government simply need to be tied directly to the economy so that our beloved bureaucrats will have more money when times are good and less when times are bad, just like those of us who live in the real world.

This will give all federal employees, including the manager of the Department of Very Important Stuff, the needed incentive to do things that will steadily and persistently promote a good economy, such as: foster low interest rates, enthusiastically apply pressure to institute tort reform, and return to a gold standard so there is no more inflation.

Ah, this sounds wonderful. This is fine. Everyone can now bask in the warm sunshine of prosperity.
But wait a minute! I haven’t told you how we can achieve this.

Here’s how: instead of taxing people when they earn money, give them their whole paycheck to spend.
No Social Security deductions, no federal income tax deductions, no 1040’s, and no IRS.
Instead, people would pay tax when they spend money rather than when they earn money.
Everyone, including the wealthy, businesses, and the government, would pay a consumption tax when they purchase software, clothing, automobiles, haircuts, doctor services, and so on. All of us would pay the tax when we consume, but we would all begin with our entire paycheck.
Therefore, the more items and services people buy, the more federal sales tax is collected, and the more money the federal government receives.
I guarantee this will cause an instantaneous attitude change in federal employees. When a consumption tax, the fair tax, replaces the income tax, Social Security tax, and all other taxes, bureaucrats will get out of our way and the economy will explode with growth. If enacted as written, it is estimated that in the very first year the Gross National Product will jump 10%.
Please buy the FairTax book, read it, and support this effort. This is the solution to the problems with Social Security, Medicare, and jobs leaving this country.
And it is the way once and for all to get the federal government on our side.


Maureen Dowd: How We’re Animalistic — in Good Ways and Bad

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 7:00 pm

Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, May 30, 2007

The odd thing is that conservatives wear pinstriped suits, when they really should be walking around in togas. The main contribution of the Greeks to modern American politics may have been Michael Dukakis, who once climbed the Acropolis in wingtips.

But that doesn’t stop conservatives — especially the Straussians who pushed for going into Iraq — from being obsessed with ancient Greece, and from believing that they are the successors to Plato and Homer in terms of the lofty ideals and nobility and character in American politics — while Democrats merely muck about with policies for the needy.

Harvey Mansfield, a leading Straussian who teaches political science at Harvard and who wrote a book called “Manliness” (he’s for it), gave the Jefferson lecture recently at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington.

It was an ode, as his book is, to “thumos,” the Greek word that means spiritedness, with flavors of ambition, pride and brute willfulness. Thumos, as Philip Kennicott wrote in The Washington Post, “is a word reinvented by conservative academics who need to put a fancy name on a political philosophy that boils down to ‘boys will be boys.’ ”

Mr. Mansfield did not mention the war, which is a downer at conclaves of neocons and thumos worshippers. But he explained that thumos is “the bristling reaction of an animal in face of a threat or a possible threat.” In thumos, he added, “we see the animality of man, for men (and especially males) often behave like dogs barking, snakes hissing, birds flapping. But precisely here we also see the humanity of the human animal” because it is reacting for “a reason, even for a principle, a cause. Only human beings get angry.”

The professor used an example, naturally, from ancient Greece to explain why politics should be about revolution rather than equilibrium: “What did Achilles do when his ruler Agamemnon stole his slave-girl? He raised the stakes. He asserted that the trouble was not in this loss alone but in the fact that the wrong sort of man was ruling the Greeks. Heroes, or at least he-men like Achilles, should be in charge rather than lesser beings like Agamemnon who have mainly their lineage to recommend them and who therefore do not give he-men the honors they deserve. Achilles elevated a civil complaint concerning a private wrong to a demand for a change of regime, a revolution in politics.” Mr. Mansfield concluded: “To complain of an injustice is an implicit claim to rule.”

Read More Here

May 29, 2007

David Brooks Assaults Al Gore’s “Vulcan Utopia”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 11:48 am

David Brooks, The New York Times, May 29, 2007

If you’re going to read Al Gore’s book, you’re going to have to steel yourself for a parade of sentences like the following:

“The remedy for what ails our democracy is not simply better education (as important as that is) or civic education (as important as that can be), but the re-establishment of a genuine democratic discourse in which individuals can participate in a meaningful way – a conversation of democracy in which meritorious ideas and opinions from individuals do, in fact, evoke a meaningful response.”

But, hey, nobody ever died from contact with pomposity, and Al Gore’s “The Assault on Reason” is well worth reading. It reminds us that whatever the effects of our homogenizing mass culture, it is still possible for exceedingly strange individuals to rise to the top.

Gore is, for example, a radical technological determinist. While most politicians react to people, Gore reacts to machines, and in this book he lays out a theory of history entirely driven by them.

He writes that “the idea of self-government became feasible after the printing press.” With this machine, people suddenly had the ability to use the printed word to debate ideas and proceed logically to democratic conclusions. As Gore writes in his best graduate school manner, “The eighteenth century witnessed more and more ordinary citizens able to use knowledge as a source of power to mediate between wealth and privilege.”

This Age of Reason produced the American Revolution. But in the 20th-century, television threatened it all. In Gore’s view, TV immobilizes the reasoning centers in the brain and stimulates the primitive, instinctive parts. TV creates a “visceral vividness” that is not “modulated by logic, reason and reflective thought.”

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Lessons Not Learned – Memorial Day 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:47 am

Lessons Not Learned

Cindy Sheehan Quits the Anti-War Movement

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 12:11 am

Cindy Sheehan, After Downing Street, May 28, 2007

I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called “Face” of the American anti-war movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such “liberal blogs” as the Democratic Underground. Being called an “attention whore” and being told “good riddance” are some of the more milder rebukes.

I have come to some heartbreaking conclusions this Memorial Day Morning. These are not spur of the moment reflections, but things I have been meditating on for about a year now. The conclusions that I have slowly and very reluctantly come to are very heartbreaking to me.

The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a “tool” of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our “two-party” system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the “left” started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of “right or left”, but “right and wrong.”

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt “two” party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?

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May 28, 2007

Memorializing the Deadly Myth of John Wayne

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 2:17 pm

Ed Rampell and Luis I. Reyes, TruthDig, May 26, 2006

This Memorial Day is the centennial of John Wayne, born May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa. The 2007 Harris poll of America’s favorite movie stars places the Duke at No. 3. A remarkable ranking, considering Wayne’s last picture was 1976′s “The Shootist” and he died 28 years ago.

Wayne, who didn’t win an Oscar until late in a six-decades-long career, is Hollywood’s most underrated actor. He was arguably a better actor than the fellow Midwesterner and two-time Oscar winner to whom he is often compared, Marlon Brando, the Method actor who played antisocial misfits in films ranging from the 1954 biker flick “The Wild One” to 1973′s sexually charged “Last Tango in Paris,” which critic Pauline Kael called “the movie breakthrough” that “altered the face of an art form.” If Wayne portrayed the strong, silent type in films such as 1952′s “A Quiet Man,” Brando was known for bellowing “Stella!” in 1951′s “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

In private life, Brando was a troubled, angry loner, much like the characters he often portrayed. Wayne’s motion picture persona is associated with cowboys and soldiers. In fact, he was neither.

Wayne was full of contradictions. Although the star of countless Westerns such as John Ford’s 1939 “Stagecoach” and 1953′s “Hondo” owned a ranch, the Duke “didn’t particularly like horses and preferred suits and tuxedos to chaps, jeans and boots,” according to his son, Michael Wayne. The prototypical cowpoke also favored the sea over the prairie.

While many of his contemporaries, including Henry Fonda, Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan, served in the armed forces during World War II, the lead in such wartime sagas as 1945′s “They Were Expendable,” 1948′s “Fort Apache” and 1968′s “The Green Berets” did not. Wayne was not only missing in action during the 1940s’ liberation of the Philippines and Europe, he wasn’t a cavalry officer, a Vietnam commando or a Leatherneck – flying or otherwise – for he was never in the military.

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Paul Krugman: Trust and Betrayal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 9:07 am

Paul Krugman, The New York Times, May 28, 2007

“In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war.” That’s what President Bush said last year, in a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Those were fine words, spoken by a man with less right to say them than any president in our nation’s history. For Mr. Bush took us to war not with reluctance, but with unseemly eagerness.

Now that war has turned into an epic disaster, in part because the war’s architects, whom we now know were warned about the risks, didn’t want to hear about them. Yet Congress seems powerless to stop it. How did it all go so wrong?

Future historians will shake their heads over how easily America was misled into war. The warning signs, the indications that we had a rogue administration determined to use 9/11 as an excuse for war, were there, for those willing to see them, right from the beginning — even before Mr. Bush began explicitly pushing for war with Iraq.

In fact, the very first time Mr. Bush declared a war on terror that “will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated,” people should have realized that he was going to use the terrorist attack to justify anything and everything.

When he used his first post-attack State of the Union to denounce an “axis of evil” consisting of three countries that had nothing to do either with 9/11 or with each other, alarm bells should have gone off.

But the nation, brought together in grief and anger over the attack, wanted to trust the man occupying the White House. And so it took a long time before Americans were willing to admit to themselves just how thoroughly their trust had been betrayed.

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May 27, 2007

Crazy Atheists

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 9:26 pm

From Brooks Brothers Rioter to Federal Judge

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 12:33 pm

Brooks Brother Rioter #2 is now a federal judge.

TPM Muckraker, May 25, 2007

Monica Goodling says she was given the green light to hire immigration judges based on their political qualifications. So how’d that happen? And who’s been getting the gig?

As a story in The Legal Times last year explained, immigration judges are different from other federal judges in that they’re civil service employees — meaning that there’s a formal application process with the Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review.

But, Jason McLure reported, “according to an immigration-judge hiring policy released by the Justice Department, the attorney general also has the option to pre-empt the formal vetting process and directly hire a judge of his choosing.”

It was apparently this option that allowed Goodling, and others at the department before her, to do their thing.

So who’s been getting the gig? The Times last year profiled one of those judges, Garry Malphrus. A former Republican aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Malphrus also worked on the White House’s Domestic Policy Council before becoming a judge. But he really showed his stripes in 2000, when Malphrus joined other Republicans in making a ruckus (chanting, pounding on windows and doors) outside the Miami-Dade Elections Department — the so-called “Brooks Brothers Riot” — during the Bush-Gore recount. Malphrus, of course, had no immigration experience when he got the job, McLure reports. He had that in common with a number of his peers, who had similar backgrounds.

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Why Am I Not Hearing This?

Filed under: Uncategorized — grimgold @ 10:01 am

Everyone has been sounding off concerning the illegal issue, much to the chagrin of Congress. Senators from both parties wanted to slip the immigration bill through in the dark of night, but thanks to talk radio and the internet, it has dawned on both republicans and democrats that our interests aren’t being served, and people are mad. Me among them. It reminds me that term limits would be a good thing.
But what has not been discussed is the root cause of illegal immigration. Why are Mexicans risking money, life, and limb to come here? Why aren’t there enough jobs and a good enough economy in Mexico to attract these people so they can make a better life for themselves there? Why can’t the 12 – 18 million illegals here be upwardly mobile in Mexico? Why do they feel the need to leave their homes and travel hundreds of miles to work for less than minimum wage, even suffering abuse from employers and having no recourse, because they are illegal?

It’s exasperating. Take tourism, for example. If worked out properly by the people in charge, Mexico could easily compete head on with Hawaii! Suppose a large area was declared by the Mexican government to now be a huge tourist haven developed to have: filtered drinking water; clean, safe streets; absolutely no bribery, drugs, or porn; and honest, well-paid police.
Further, suppose this tourist mecca had: safe on-site personally-inspected food served in clean, excellent restaurants; tons of family attractions such as movie theatres, games and rides; cheap, yet excellent, hotels; and a crew that came through nightly and kept  the whole huge campus spotless?
This tourist playground, and others scattered across Mexico, could employ many of those who would otherwise come to America.

So why hasn’t this happened? Why haven’t rivals to Busch Gardens, Six Flags, Universal Studios, Marine World, and Disneyland sprung up in Mexico?

And more importantly, why isn’t this a topic of discussion here? Shouldn’t we have been asking Bill Clinton and now George Bush to go south and strongly encourage Mexico to engage enthusiastically in the entrepreneurial spirit, rule of law, and put an end to bribery and law enforcement corruption? Obviously, the result would be an explosion in business start-ups not just in amusement parks, of course, but in all kinds of enterprises, this then resulting in a reasonable standard of living for its citizens.
Not only that, Mexico has oil. Some experts estimate reserves as large as Saudi Arabia (unproven, but possible).
In light of the foregoing, do you agree with me that it’s absurd that 12 – 18 million people should have to travel north to find a better life, when, if the thinking and attitude were adjusted, they could fulfill that dream in their own country?





May 26, 2007

Maureen Dowd: Bush’s Fleurs du Mal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 11:23 pm

Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, May 27, 2007For me, the saddest spot in Washington is the inverted V of the black granite Vietnam wall, jutting up with the names of young men dying in a war that their leaders already knew could not be won.

So many died because of ego and deceit — because L.B.J. and Robert McNamara wanted to save face or because Henry Kissinger wanted to protect Nixon’s re-election chances.

Now the Bush administration finds itself at that same hour of shame. It knows the surge is not working. Iraq is in a civil war, with a gruesome bonus of terrorists mixed in. April was the worst month this year for the American military, with 104 soldiers killed, and there have been about 90 killed thus far in May. The democracy’s not jelling, as Iraqi lawmakers get ready to slouch off for a two-month vacation, leaving our kids to be blown up.

The top-flight counterinsurgency team that President Bush sent in after long years of pretending that we’d “turned the corner” doesn’t believe there’s a military solution. General Petraeus is reduced to writing an open letter to the Iraqi public, pleading with them to reject sectarianism and violence, even as the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr slinks back from four months in Iran, rallying his fans by crying: “No, no, no to Satan! No, no, no to America! No, no, no to occupation! No, no, no to Israel!”

W. thinks he can save face if he keeps taunting Democrats as the party of surrender — just as Nixon did — and dumps the Frankenstate he’s created on his successor.

“The enemy in Vietnam had neither the intent nor the capability to strike our homeland,” he told Coast Guard Academy graduates. “The enemy in Iraq does. Nine-eleven taught us that to protect the American people we must fight the terrorists where they live so that we don’t have to fight them where we live.”

Read More Here

Frank Rich: Operation Freedom From Iraqis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 10:48 pm

Frank Rich, The New York Times, May 27, 2007

When all else fails, those pious Americans who conceived and directed the Iraq war fall back on moral self-congratulation: at least we brought liberty and democracy to an oppressed people. But that last-ditch rationalization has now become America’s sorriest self-delusion in this tragedy.

However wholeheartedly we disposed of their horrific dictator, the Iraqis were always pawns on the geopolitical chessboard rather than actual people in the administration’s reckless bet to “transform” the Middle East. From “Stuff happens!” on, nearly every aspect of Washington policy in Iraq exuded contempt for the beneficiaries of our supposed munificence. Now this animus is completely out of the closet. Without Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz to kick around anymore, the war’s dead-enders are pinning the fiasco on the Iraqis themselves. Our government abhors them almost as much as the Lou Dobbs spear carriers loathe those swarming “aliens” from Mexico.

Iraqis are clamoring to get out of Iraq. Two million have fled so far and nearly two million more have been displaced within the country. (That’s a total of some 15 percent of the population.) Save the Children reported this month that Iraq’s child-survival rate is falling faster than any other nation’s. One Iraqi in eight is killed by illness or violence by the age of 5. Yet for all the words President Bush has lavished on Darfur and AIDS in Africa, there has been a deadly silence from him about what’s happening in the country he gave “God’s gift of freedom.”

It’s easy to see why. To admit that Iraqis are voting with their feet is to concede that American policy is in ruins. A “secure” Iraq is a mirage, and, worse, those who can afford to leave are the very professionals who might have helped build one. Thus the president says nothing about Iraq’s humanitarian crisis, the worst in the Middle East since 1948, much as he tried to hide the American death toll in Iraq by keeping the troops’ coffins off-camera and staying away from military funerals.

Read More Here

May 25, 2007

Paul Krugman: Immigrants and Politics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Volt @ 4:53 pm

Paul Krugman, The New York Times, May 25, 2007

A piece of advice for progressives trying to figure out where they stand on immigration reform: it’s the political economy, stupid. Analyzing the direct economic gains and losses from proposed reform isn’t enough. You also have to think about how the reform would affect the future political environment.

To see what I mean — and why the proposed immigration bill, despite good intentions, could well make things worse — let’s take a look back at America’s last era of mass immigration.

My own grandparents came to this country during that era, which ended with the imposition of severe immigration restrictions in the 1920s. Needless to say, I’m very glad they made it in before Congress slammed the door. And today’s would-be immigrants are just as deserving as Emma Lazarus’s “huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

Moreover, as supporters of immigrant rights rightly remind us, everything today’s immigrant-bashers say — that immigrants are insufficiently skilled, that they’re too culturally alien, and, implied though rarely stated explicitly, that they’re not white enough — was said a century ago about Italians, Poles and Jews.

Yet then as now there were some good reasons to be concerned about the effects of immigration.

There’s a highly technical controversy going on among economists about the effects of recent immigration on wages. However that dispute turns out, it’s clear that the earlier wave of immigration increased inequality and depressed the wages of the less skilled. For example, a recent study by Jeffrey Williamson, a Harvard economic historian, suggests that in 1913 the real wages of unskilled U.S. workers were around 10 percent lower than they would have been without mass immigration. But the straight economics was the least of it. Much more important was the way immigration diluted democracy.

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