Aside from irreparably damaging the GOP…

This is Tom Tancredo’s OTHER legacy

Iowa: What Happens When a Town Implodes

During a bitter cold January week, penniless women and children stream into a Catholic church in the northeast Iowa town of Postville that has served as their refuge since May 12, when 389 workers were arrested during an immigration raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant. The women are among 26 former Agriprocessors workers, most from Guatemala and Mexico, charged with immigration violations and fighting deportation. Released on humanitarian grounds but required to wear electronic ankle bracelets, the women, as well as about 59 children, now depend on the community, especially St. Bridget’s church, which operates a Hispanic ministry from a worn brick house.

One woman needs medical care for her anxious 12-year-old son, who has started wetting his bed. Another needs legal help for her husband, arrested during a return visit to Agriprocessors by immigration agents last fall. “I am very sad and worried,” says Irma Lopez, 28, a former Agriprocessors worker who remains in limbo with her young daughter while her husband is back in Guatemala, one of many arrested workers deported in October after serving five months in prison. “I worked since I was eight years old and now I feel worthless. I can work but I’m not allowed to.”

Eight months after the Agriprocessors raid, Postville is still grappling with what its leaders call “a humanitarian and economic disaster,” compounded by the recession and a harsh winter. Life isn’t much easier for “legal” workers. Inside a faded community hall serving as a relief center are Michael Barner, 47, and Patricia Williams, 41, who moved to Postville last month to work at Agriprocessors but had to leave their jobs soon after due to illness. They have arrived with an eviction notice and are seeking help to return to Dubuque. “We came here. We tried. I got sick. We just have to go back home,” says Barner.

Even after accounting for the aggressive pro-immigration bias and sob-story nature of this piece, the devastating stupidity of the GOP’s anti-immigration jaunt is apparent.

Furthermore, even if one concedes that the passage of unenforceable laws that no one wants enforced is hypocritical, it does not provide an excuse to execute stupid policy.

My personal opinion is that Bush’s immigration plan had too much immigration and not enough assimilation. That said, the GOP would be in much better shape at this very moment had the party listened to Bush instead of following Tom Tancredo off of the electoral cliff.

Great posters at Despair.com

I found those great posters that so eloquently send up the “motivational” poster business.
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Please go to despair.com to buy this one for your Republican State Rep hawking a “CapitOl Bill.”


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Maybe this one will be a good one for the next “self-funding” millionaire who thinks he can buy a Governor’s seat with Jim Edgar’s endorsement and sizable chunk of net worth.


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How about this one for Barack Obama and anyone supporting the “Recovery Bill.”


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Of course, I will be very happy if one of my fans buys this one for me.

Announcing a new Podcast from Extreme Wisdom

As I was perusing podcasts on I-Tunes, I noticed that Barack Obama’s weekly radio address was the number one podcast on the download list. I wonder whether the Bush Administration even tried to podcast their weekly address or whether anyone would have downloaded them.

Just another example of the right’s lunch being eaten by the left.

Regardless, I just set up a new feed on my I-Tunes account. I’ve decided that some one with a few brain cells to rub together ought to do a point-by-point critique of our new President’s weekly radio addresses.

As you may notice, the podcast is now up on the right side of the page. I’ll do my best to make the next critique shorter, but the first one is immediately below.


MP3 File

Obushma

Both far left and far right are going to hate this, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If even John Stewart catches this, then even the idiots at MooreOn.org can’t be far behind.

Will Pensions be the ONLY issue in 2010?

They should be. The article below by Terry Savage outlines just how bad it is.

Battle brewing over Illinois pensions

Here’s a look at the dire situation for the retirement plans of state workers ranging from police to judges to university professors to members of the Illinois General Assembly. All are counting on generous state pensions, but may soon wake up to a brutal reality.

A financial war is brewing — and it’s likely to pit these public employees against Illinois taxpayers who are responsible for paying those generous pension promises. There simply isn’t enough money in all these retirement plans (see box) to send out the promised checks. If you think Bernie Madoff had a Ponzi scheme going, wait until the wave of boomer retirement hits the reality of pension underfunding.

The state pension plans have been underfunded for a long time. But the problem is going critical because of the stock market crash. Unless you’re willing to bet on a major bull market appearing in the next few years, there are only three solutions: raise taxes, increase employee contributions, or cut pension benefits.

If this doesn’t make you angry, nothing will. If you are looking to the Republican Party to provide better leadership, you are in for a huge disappointment, as they too are slaves to public employee union campaign contributions. If you don’t believe me, just look at how many of your REPUBLICAN Representatives are crawling over each other to sponsor this PORK PENSION BILL! (HB1702)

Corruption is Killing Illinois (and America)…

…But are the citizens ready to try and change it?”

New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey are mentioned, but two of those stories involve sex scandals. That said, notice that where you have powerful Democratic Parties and well known inept and corrupt Republican Parties (NY, CT, NJ, and IL), this is the type of government you get.

The question is whether the citizens of these states are smart enough to change the leadership of both of these parties.

Steve Rauschenberger thinks not. The clip below doesn’t include the portion where he argues that people aren’t “fed up enough” (covered at Capitol Fax). Is he correct? I’m beginning to think that people are at least starting to understand that Blagojevich is merely a symptom of a far larger problem.

Why I can’t bring myself to hate Blagojevich

Make no mistake, I think Rod is an awful Governor. I don’t agree with him on much of anything and it’s pretty clear he doesn’t operate along the same incentive structure of most people in politics. Yesterday’s performance in the 2:00 PM news conference also gave even more of an indication that he might just occupy an alternate universe. Along with most of Illinois, I DO think he should be removed, and frankly, the political class could, and should have, removed him much sooner.

All of that said, the guy is correct about a few things regarding Illinois, as he demonstrated yesterday, when he said that once he’s gone, taxes will be raised. While I agree with Rich Miller, when he makes fun of the “conspiracy talk,” the fact is that Blagojevich has been the only barrier to a large income tax and sales tax increase. That is why he’s governor, after all.

Every Republican blowhard hyping how much they wish Topinka would have won tries to evade the well-known truth that we would have already seen a huge income tax increase under her administration. Would we have had a “CapitOl Bill?” Sure, with 80% going to insiders like Bill Cellini.

It’s like I’ve been telling everyone since working on the Constitutional Convention. Rod is merely a manifestation of what ails Illinois, and when he’s gone, taxes will go up quickly.

In closing, I was ready to write a long explanation of my complicated view of Rod Blagojevich. Then I discovered an excellent post by Ralf Seiffe over at Illinois Review.

In that post, Ralf’s analysis of how we got here is excellent, and must reading for anyone who really wants to understand the dynamics of Illinois. Ralf also tiptoes right up to edge of saying that Republicans should keep Rod in office (and strangely, they DO have the power, as the Democrats need two Republican votes to convict in the senate).

While there would be certain strategic reasons to allow the state and the Democrats stew in the juices they’ve excreted, the sheer Machiavellian nature of such a move (on the part of Republicans) would not be borne by the people of this state. They would punish the Republicans for “saving” Rod.

I don’t wish Rod Blagojevich well. The tapes, his behavior as governor, and his record, indicate that he isn’t a particularly nice or good person. That said, he’s performed a valuable service for the people of Illinois. He’s exposed just how hypocritical, corrupt, broke, and broken, the political class of Illinois has become. Decent politicians of both parties (and I think there are fewer than the state deserves) can point to nearly everyone in Springfield and say, you helped create Rod Blagojevich, and your criticizing him is hypocritical.

Properly framed, the advent of Rod Blagojevich could usher in a whole new slate of decent people in both parties. All they need to do is step up and run. Of course, they could probably use some funding to challenge the incumbents, but that’s a whole new long, long post.

Charles Murray – Ending the Welfare State

This Podcast contains a monologue of my views on Charles Murray’s 2006 idea to replace the Welfare State with something that actually might work


MP3 File

The excellent article (from March 2006), which provides details, is here. Combine a reasonable plan to shift from our current tax system to the “Fair Tax,” and add Murray’s ideas to the mix, and you have a good foundation for a “limited government” platform.

Too bad America doesn’t have a “Limited Government” party.

UPDATED – Maybe we need an “Intellectual Stimulus Package”

“Stimulus = Pork.” Not only that, but Obama might just be best off doing NOTHING.

The best policy?! Allow the entire world to de-leverage. Do exactly nothing (save build / replace some infrastructure). Really. Doing nothing is easy. We are smart enough to figure this out with out the Federal Government making it worse.

There is a great model for this.

Grover Cleveland: A model for President Obama?:
Cleveland refused to “act” during an economic downturn and made the United States stronger in the process. (John Robson, , 23 January 2009, Mercator Net)

The latter part of the 19th century was a period of appalling economic crisis in America. 1873-1896 was known as “The Great Depression” long before the 1930s came along. Farmers faced falling prices, workers toiled in massive new factories for low wages and went home to seedy slums if they weren’t killed in industrial accidents; politics was explosive and fears or hopes of revolution were everywhere. It was also the most rapid economic growth the nation ever experienced. Because back then governments knew how not to do dumb stuff.

The statistics on economic growth in the period are extraordinary. Economic output quadrupled; manufacturing output increased six-fold. Railway track in operation rose from 53,000 miles in 1870 to almost 200,000 in 1900 and ton-miles of freight hauled increased ten times just from 1870 to 1890. By 1894 the United States was the world’s leading manufacturing nation, on its way to producing one third of the world’s manufactures by the start of World War I.

A few mores statistics if you’ll indulge me. On the eve of the Civil War total power available in the U.S. was round 13 million horsepower, two-thirds of it more or less literally, that is, produced by animals. By 1880 steam exceeded animal power; by 1900 steam engines accounted for two-thirds of the 65 million horsepower available. And while the 1880 census didn’t even mention electric power, by 1900 it was gaining fast on steam.

It wasn’t just quantity: This was the era of the phonograph, refrigeration, food canning, typewriters, the telegraph and telephone and the motion picture. In short, an era of unparalleled economic progress. [...]

A lot of things went wrong in the late 19th century. A lot of things always go wrong. Agriculture suffered terribly; the growth of industry created slums, dangerous working conditions and alarming new social and economic entities. But cheap food was good for workers if bad for those who produced it and in any case it was the inevitable result of the incredible success of American farmers in opening up new land and increasing yields with superior methods and equipment. And if industrial work was difficult, dirty and dangerous, it was a lot better than the lot that awaited many, especially immigrant workers, if they had not come to America’s cities.

The promise of industrialization was that it would relieve man’s estate by relieving material want, and if the first part was overdone the second, in late 19th century America, was not. Even with substantial population growth, real per capita income at least doubled during this “Great Depression.” And that’s because while many things went wrong, a major thing that went right was that the American government did not engage in wildly expensive attempts to prop up and preserve what was not working at the expense of what was, to freeze capital and labour resources in unproductive uses. The process of adjustment was painful, even brutal at times, but the cost of stagnation would have been far higher.

[Read more...]

Obushma

Obama Sides With Bush in Spy Case

The Obama administration fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants.

In a filing in San Francisco federal court, President Barack Obama adopted the same position as his predecessor. With just hours left in office, President George W. Bush late Monday asked U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to stay enforcement of an important Jan. 5 ruling admitting key evidence into the case.

Thursday’s filing by the Obama administration marked the first time it officially lodged a court document in the lawsuit asking the courts to rule on the constitutionality of the Bush administration’s warrantless-eavesdropping program. The former president approved the wiretaps in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

If people actually woke up to the Matrix-like hypnosis caused by the silly 2-party system, they might actually start talking policy and solving problems. Read this post and the one below, and you start to realize that we can solve problem outside the context of the 2 corrupt parties, regardless of our occasional ideological differences.