Saturday, March 25, 2006

Good News Will Set Us Free!

Joe ScarboroughAfter Joe Scarborough whined last Wednesday about the liberal, anti-American bias of the media and the mainstream media's failure to report the successes in Iraq, what was the lead story on Thursday's Scarborough Country? Natalee Holloway. See my previous post "Scarborough and O'Reilly Can Save Iraq."

Now Joe was off Thursday night and a replacement was sitting in, but I don't think that made much difference. These shows are more interested in ratings than news.

When the Iranian embassy hostage crisis occurred in 1979, ABC (one of the mainstream, liberal media companies) started a nightly half hour news show dedicated to the story. They vowed to keep the program on until the hostage crisis was resolved, which they did. I'm sure they never imagined the hostages would be held for over a year, but true to their word, ABC kept the nightly news show on and reported the details of the hostage story every week night. Once the hostages were released they continued the show, Nightline, as a nightly news show.

Fox, to their credit, has dedicated one of their shows to an on-going news event. On The Record, with Greta Van Susteren, has dedicated itself to reporting every detail about the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. They will not stop until the truth is known. They are dedicated to covering this story no matter how long it takes or where the grisly details lead.

I don't blame the Holloway family for trying to keep Natalee's story alive, but if Fox had spent this much time on Jimmy Hoffa, we'd now know who killed him and where he is buried.

Ok all you conservatives. I keep hearing how the insurgents can't beat us in a war (which they can't), so the insurgent's goal is to take a page from the Vietnamese and attack the will of the American people. Many of you are sure that it is only by breaking the will of the American people that the insurgents and terrorists can defeat us in Iraq. You insist that the liberal media are playing into the hands of the insurgents and terrorists by reporting only one side of the Iraq story. The side where things are not going well. So get over there are start reporting the good news. Dedicate a nightly show to all the good things that are happening in Iraq. Promise to keep it going until members of the U.S. armed forces are not dying in Iraq. Keep Americans up beat about the progress of the war. Don't let the liberal media brainwash the American public into thinking this war is not worth the cost. Let us hear about all the good things that are happening. You can present all the good news and counter the bad news that is gleefully reported by the liberal, mainstream media. You show those wimpy, mainstream reporters how real men get the story.

You can do it. Get over there, create a nightly show, tell us the real story. Save Iraq. If you report all the good things that are happening in Iraq, the war is as good as won! We don't need a plan. We don't need competency. We don't need a reconciliation government in Iraq. We don't need an exit strategy. We just need to hear the good news.

The good news will set us free!

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Scarborough and O'Reilly Can Save Iraq

Joe ScarboroughTonight on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Joe Scarborough picked up President Bush's whine that the mainstream media (also known in conservative circles as the liberal media) are failing to report the good news from Iraq. Conservatives are claiming that the failure of the media to provide balanced reporting has led to President Bush's low poll numbers and a growing opinion that we should get out of Iraq. The ground work is being laid to blame the liberal media and Democrats for future failures and setbacks in Iraq.

What world do these people live in? Joe Scarborough has five hours of prime time TV every week. Probably 10 and 15 hours in some markets with rebroadcasts. O'Reilly has the same amount of air time. Hell, Fox has a whole damn network! If the mainstream media is so bad why don't these guys get off their whining asses and move their shows to Baghdad? They could set up their own studios with big windows opening on downtown Baghdad. Live from Baghdad, it's Scarborough Country! The O'Reilly Factor, fair and balanced live reporting of all the good news from the vacation capital of the world, Iraq! Maybe Bill would have to change the name of the show to The O'Reilly Fear Factor.

Joe could report 5 hours of live, good news from Iraq every week. He would be the darling of conservatives. His ratings would eclipse the Super Bowl! At least with those two over there we would get some real reporting and not just balcony interviews.

So here's the challenge to all you blowhard, whining conservative commentators. Get your whining asses over to Iraq and tell us what the real truth is on the ground. I don't mean spend a weekend there. Move there. Give us reporting of the daily successes and prevent the insurgents from winning the PR battle. Save Iraq.

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Help Is Coming

I've written several posts on the need to get our population (and the world's) under control. I'm happy to report that it's beginning to look like help is on the way. Bird flu may solve our problem, at least for a few decades. If bird flu mutates in a way that allows easy transmission of the disease from person to person, we can expect many millions of people to die. As a bonus, the strain that a pandemic would place on public health services would probably drain resources from the fight against AIDS with another bonanza of deaths. If we can decrease the world's population by 500 million or, if we are lucky, a billion people, maybe common sense will prevail and the survivors will realize that over population threatens human survival and the world.

And if they don't see the need and figure out how to limit human population to a level that the earth can sustain, we can rely on some future calamity to bring the numbers back down. We can only hope this occurs before we irreversibly damage the environment.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

We Need Lots Of Plans!

I’m really getting tired of Republicans carping that Democrats complain about Iraq, but have no plan of their own. If they mean a single plan that all Democrats agree on, then they’re right. The Republicans certainly have a single plan they all agree on and look where it’s gotten us. They can’t even acknowledge that “We’ll stand down as the Iraqi’s stand up.” is not a plan, it is a hope, a wish, and more recently, a prayer. I don’t want Democrats to come up with a single plan and I wish Republicans with the guts to take on this administration would express their true feelings. I heard an articulate and reasonable Senator Chuck Hagel this weekend. I’d like to hear more of his real thoughts on the war. We need new ideas; lots of new ideas. Politicians should be encouraged to suggest lots of plans. If the pros and cons of each are discussed with an open mind, we might really figure out what a true exit strategy is.

We don’t need a plan from the Democrats that they will feel compelled to defend lest they be called “wafflers”. If the Democrats could come up with a single plan, what good would it do them? They are in no position to do anything about it. They are in no position to implement any of it. It would just give a single point for Republicans to attack. As the situation changes and new proposals and options are suggested, these ideas would be ridiculed as just more examples of the lack of Democrat’s resolve. Democrats, as individuals, have made many suggestions. Some have actually been borrowed by the administration, but no one is ever going to give them any credit. Democrats should continue to talk about their concerns and ideas, even if they don’t have an all inclusive plan. Not many politicians or people agree with Representative Murtha’s plan to pull out of Iraq immediately, but no one can deny that he has moved the discussion and thinking forward. We need more suggestions.

I recently heard several people on the talk shows suggest that dissent and discussion in this country only strengthens the resolve of people like the insurgents in Iraq. The implication is that opponents should shut up and support the President. Not only would this spell the end of the Democratic Party, it is not how a democracy works. People seem to believe that it is OK to have their phone tapped as long as someone promises security in return. Would they really give up their right to dissent also? Do the pundits realize that governments and citizens that project a single policy or opinion are usually called dictatorships?

Senator Dianne Feinstein was on Hardball with Chris Matthews (MSNBC) tonight. She did an excellent job of laying out the problems in Iraq and suggesting a course of action. For those of you who think Democrats have no ideas, get a copy of her interview. She made more sense in three minutes than the President has in the last three months. I understand that as a Senator she has more freedom to make certain kinds of statements than the President, but that is the very reason we need people like her to speak out.

As the ’08 presidential campaign heats up and a Democratic presidential candidate is chosen, I would expect that the Democrats will try to project a united front with a common solution to our problems. I’m sure that after the Democrat’s presidential candidate is elected, the party will break down into nuanced discussions, heated policy arguments, wishy-washy policies and general political disarray. Just the kind of energy, soul searching, flexibility and responsiveness that keeps a democracy energized.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Trees For Schools

The U.S. Forest Service is getting ready to sell about 300,000 acres of land in 32 states to finance the Secure Rural Schools Act (SRSA). This is about 200 square miles of land. This land is typically forest land in national forests. Once this land is sold, cut for wood and/or mined, we can never replace it. There must be other ways to fund these schools.

What do we do in five years when we again need money for SRSA? Sell more land? What do we sell when we run out of forests?

Missouri, where I live, doesn't have any large national parks. The closest we come is our national forests and we don't want to lose them. The Forest Service plans to sell 21,000 acres of forest in Missouri.

One doesn't have to be cynical to believe this sale is more about making resources available to business that funding a program. I'm sure the thinking was "Who can argue with selling a few trees in order to educate children?" Certainly not this administration which is always ready to give business a helping hand. By the way, the Forest Service is already looking for more forest land to sell.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Illegals Not Welcome

Thumb with sign Not WelcomeIf we agree that illegal immigration is a problem we must solve and mass immigration of unskilled workers is a problem we should solve, what are some things we can do to solve these problems? (See my previous post 'Is Illegal Immigration A Problem?')

Increasing border security is high on the list. I've heard a combination of proposals. Physical walls. Virtual walls. More agents. All these sound good, but these actions alone will not solve illegal immigration.

If we really want to solve this problem, we must crack down on businesses who hire illegal immigrants. Fines for hiring illegal immigrants must be levied that are commensurate with the size of the business, the number of illegal immigrants employed and the length of time they have been employed. The punishment must be severe enough so that most employers will determine it is not worth the risk to hire undocumented workers.

People who are caught entering the US illegally should have their identity recorded and then they should be returned to Mexico (or the country they entered from). This person would never be eligible for US citizenship, a green card or a work permit. If we make it possible for more workers to enter legally and deny that option to anyone who enters illegally, we can discourage workers from entering illegally.

If someone comes to the US illegally again and are caught, they go to jail and they are no longer even eligible for a visa to visit the US. Repeat offenders would face longer jail sentences.

We should increase the number of work permits for guest workers. A guest worker must have a job before their permit is issued. There would also be a provision that bringing their family with them is not an option, although they would be required to identify their family members before a permit is granted. If their family is found to be here illegally, the penalty would be swift deportation for all. This would give workers an incentive to return home when their work permit or current employment expires. Immigrant workers who have a clean record for some number of work years (6, though not necessarily contigous years) would be allowed to apply for a green card and bring their immediate family (spouse, children and parents they had identified originally) to this country.

Maybe employers of guest workers should have to pay an hourly fee or tax to the government (local, state and federal) for these workers. This would help to reimburse governments for the extra services these immigrants might require. This would also give an incentive for hiring US workers, if they can be found, for these jobs. So, for example, if you hire a US citizen, you must pay them at least minimum wage. If you hire a guest worker, you must pay them at least minimum wage plus $2.00 an hour as a government surcharge.

Better yet, maybe companies who hire guest workers should be forced to pay a certain level of benefits (like health insurance) to ALL their employees if they hire guest workers.

The idea is to give employers incentives to hire US workers, but if they hire guest workers we minimize the financial burden on community resources that provide these workers with services (like schools, health providers, etc.).

I would like to see a requirement that all guest workers be required to have a minimum ability to read, write and speak English. This would make it easier to assimilate these workers as they progress towards a green card and possibly citizenship. Certainly, every naturalized citizen should be required to speak, read and write English.

Guest workers would, of course, be required to obey all laws. Guest workers convicted of a felony and their families would face deportation. We have a right to choose people who we believe will make positive contributions to our country.

Even if we create a plan to stop illegal immigration, there are still millions of immigrants who are here illegally. We need to determine what to do with them.

One idea would be to apply all the ideas above to people who can prove they had a job here before September 1, 2006. If they have immediate family here, they can stay, but they must be documented. Children who are not citizens must show proof that their parents are here legally before they can enroll in a school. The illegal immigrant's current employer must register these workers and agree to pay the extra fees that are required for guest workers. If they won't, the guest worker will have six months to find a new employer or be sent back to their home country. Once there, they can start over as a guest worker under the new rules. Guest workers already here would have to pass the English proficiency test within one year.

Illegal immigrants and their families who started working on or after September 1, 2006 would be required to leave the country and apply for guest worker status.

Some ideas, such as not providing education for children of illegal immigrants, may sound draconian, but without rewards and punishments we cannot solve this problem. Without sufficient incentives, nothing will change. We currently have an undocumented underclass and that is also not fair to these children.

I'm sure people more familiar with immigration issues will come up with other ideas, but I believe that if we really want to stop illegal immigration, we can. At this point it is clear that the US does not really want to stop cheap labor from entering this country.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Is Illegal Immigration A Problem?

I do not believe that bringing in or allowing in unlimited, cheap, unskilled labor from Mexico is good for the US. It may be good for business. It may help the US economy in the short term, but I don't think it is good in the long term. Certainly, allowing unlimited, illegal immigration is not good for us.

I am not against immigration. We are a country of immigrants. We have a history of welcoming people, educated and uneducated, who are willing to work hard to make a better life for themselves and their families, but we are a country that faces a population problem and unlimited immigration is a big part of that problem. Also, as globalization forces our least educated (and some of our best educated) to compete against workers in other countries who will work for much less pay, we do not need to import more undereducated people. I respect that most of these people are hard working, good people, but we cannot save the world by building a third-world underclass in the US. We are really hurting ourselves by severely limiting the number of educated immigrants and students who are allowed to enter the US and allowing unrestricted immigration of unskilled workers.

I believe we can solve this problem, but I suppose we first have to agree that we have a problem and what it is.

Is the problem that illegal immigrants flouted our laws and entered illegally? Is the problem that these people are undocumented? What should happen to illegal immigrants and their families who are already here? Should they receive amnesty?

Would the problem be solved if we drastically increased the number of people who are allowed to enter the US to take a job so that illegal entry declines just because it isn't necessary?

Is the problem a porous border that not only allows good people just looking for a job to enter, but also allows easy entry for drug runners, terrorists, etc.

Is the problem the public service costs of illegal laborers? Is it the additional family members they bring who also need services?

Is the problem our law which gives US citizenship to any child born in this country even if the mother entered illegally?

Is our current population level over-stressing our environment and natural resources? The US Census Bureau says that most of the US population growth over the next 100 years will be the result of immigration, not births to current US citizens.

Do illegal immigrants depress wages? We always hear that illegals take jobs that no one else wants. If cleaning hotel rooms paid $20 an hour do you think more US citizens would apply?

Is the problem our dependence on cheap labor. How many people benefit because some people are willing to work for less than a living wage? How much would the average person's cost of living go up if all the illegal immigrants were somehow forced to leave?

Is the problem that a large number of people who only speak Spanish are creating a separate society inside the US? Are we looking forward to a bilingual society and problems like the Canadians face? There is always a tension between English and French speaking Canadian citizens. More than once there have been national referendums asking if Canada should be broken up into two countries. One speaking English, the other French. Is that our future?

Is our porous border the conscious choice of politicians who understand that without cheap labor we would face other problems for which they have no solutions? Is it just easier to let this problem fester than take the political heat for really facing the issues?

Do we need to develop an economic system that does not depend on cheap labor and continued population growth?

Obviously immigration, legal and illegal, raises many issues. These are tough problems and we do not respond to tough problems until we have no choice. Even then we tend to take the path of least resistance. While we may not yet agree on the key issues of the illegal immigration problem, we can all agree that there is a lack of clear thinking and leadership in this area.

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