NV Sen: Despite Angle’s Ongoing Trouble, Reid Still in the Danger Zone

Democrats felt they lucked out when Sharron Angle became the Republican nominee to challenge Majority Leader Harry Reid for his Nevada Senate seat. Most observers concur that Angle is a bad candidate–prone to gaffes, plenty of baggage, and a public record of views that can easily be attacked as falling well outside the mainstream. Yet, even against Angle, Reid is effectively even, according to a new Mason-Dixon Poll for the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Mason-Dixon (7/26-28)
Harry Reid 43
Sharron Angle 42
Other 2
None of These 7
Undecided 6

This is a slight improvement for Angle, who was losing 37-44 just two weeks ago in the last LVRJ poll. “None of These”–an actual ballot choice in Nevada–is doing remarkably well in a race where the two main candidates that have markedly poor favorability numbers.

The fact that Reid is currently tied with Angle–despite her obvious handicaps–shows just what terrible shape the Senator is in at home. Across the state, 60 percent think the country is on the wrong track while only 34 percent think it is on the right track. In Nevada, Obama’s job numbers are a terrible: 39 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove.

The cause of Reid’s electoral trouble, even against sub-par competition, can clearly be traced to near depression-era-level unemployment and the huge foreclosure problem in Nevada. Failing to constantly push legislation to deal with both of those problems has been a huge political and policy error for Reid. Some may say Reid tried, but his efforts were stopped by Republican filibusters. If that is the case, Reid has sacrificed his seat in defense of the Senate’s insane, undemocratic rules.

The We-Could-Go-Either-Way-On-Defamation League Weighs In

Photo by seier+seier
Photo by seier+seier

As spotted by The Agonist and Alternet, the Anti-Defamation League manages to denounce, appease, and embrace anti-Muslim bigotry, all in one two-faced statement:

We regard freedom of religion as a cornerstone of the American democracy, and that freedom must include the right of all Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths – to build community centers and houses of worship.

We categorically reject appeals to bigotry on the basis of religion, and condemn those whose opposition to this proposed Islamic Center is a manifestation of such bigotry.

The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found.

Yes, the ADL actually condemned the anti-Islamic opposition to the Not-Actually-Visible-From-Ground-Zero Community Center With A Mosque Inside… and then recommended giving in to it.  But wait, it gets better:

In recommending that a different location be found for the Islamic Center, we are mindful that some legitimate questions have been raised about who is providing the funding to build it, and what connections, if any, its leaders might have with groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values. These questions deserve a response, and we hope those backing the project will be transparent and forthcoming….

….The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong.  But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right.  In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain  unnecessarily and that is not right.

Amazing.  It’s like the ADL is pro- and anti-defamation at the same time.  It denounces the right-wing bigots while using birtheresque we’re-just-saying-there-are-questions-that-need-to-be-answered weasel words to echo their talking points.


The Preservation Generation: Military Resistance In Our Time

In Gallup’s 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll, the U.S. military once again received the highest level of confidence from the American people, with three out of four respondents saying that it believes in its leadership, more than any other institution in the country. The military’s high popularity stands in stark contrast to the thirty-six percent who have trust in the Commander-in-Chief, and the mere eleven percent who believe that Congress is performing its task well. Canada’s military is also the beneficiary of widespread public support, as indicated by a 2009 Globe and Mail article called, "Canada’s military: Invisible no more."

It is an understandable, and even encouraging view that the men and women in uniform in North America are viewed as giants compared to political leaders. People lionize soldiers because many "public" officials are corrupt, self-serving demagogues with zero integrity, who have the audacity to fear-monger about national enemies, and vote for immoral wars that soldiers fight, and die in.

But does the Canadian and American military deserve such high praise? Shouldn’t support be earned? At the very least, the military’s grandeur should be questioned because of the mass suffering they have caused in Afghanistan, and Iraq. Any respectable institution would have seen through these fraudulent, and evil wars by now, and terminated their role in them. Men of righteous conduct do not submit their souls to military orders that result in the daily slaughter of innocent people. "Heroes," writes William J. Astore, "don’t commit atrocities." They try to stop them.

In modern history, wars have not made heroes. Most wars have been indefensible bloodbaths, and purely money-making enterprises that produced mass death. Unknown soldiers have given their lives for the unknown profits of unknown rulers, and for unknown ends.

The heroes of this era are not obedient soldiers, but war resisters, revolutionaries, truth-tellers, whistleblowers, and soldiers with conscience who refuse to be used as pawns in immoral wars. Philosopher Alexander Moseley writes in his essay, ‘The Ethical Warrior’ that soldiers can not excuse their participation in immoral actions by simply claiming that they were just following orders. He also says that the hierarchical model of the current military, where life and death decisions are made at the very top, should be replaced by a system that teaches every single soldier to discern between right and wrong, and allow him or her to decide on the righteousness of a particular act, or war in question. Moseley:

"Hierarchical organization works on the principle of top-down control systems, so that soldiers’ jurisdictions or degrees of freedom in action in the lower strata become increasingly restrictive. Characteristically for military thinking, Sun Tzu noted that the ‘management of a large force is the same as management of a few men. It is a matter of organization’ (Tzu 1993). Accordingly, the possibility for philosophical examination of war is supposed to diminish in the lower ranks. But why should this be so? Ethically, the renunciation of responsibility in civilian life is traditionally (legally, customarily) a highly questionable act: it barely amounts to an excuse should I burden guilt on other people to whom I defer (with or without their knowledge). Analogously, we can say the same of those who refuse to raise their minds to a more philosophical outlook, preferring others to think for them. Indeed, when an individual renounces his or her understanding and capacity to judge, he or she abdicates not only philosophical but also ethical being — that is, an existence of authentically initiated and sincerely, independently motivated action, which is the hallmark of morality. In effect the unthinking agent becomes a proverbial robot and putatively amoral, which some may desire to avoid personal responsibility but, ontologically, morality cannot be separated from choice, even if the individual declares a personal absolution.

The hierarchical model of the modern army effects a diminishing sphere of morality that would, in civilian conduct, be unacceptable: the plea of ‘just following orders’ is, moreover, in light of twentieth century exegesis of culpability, sufficiently tenuous to warrant a thorough critical revision of military preconceptions of the good soldier. So, contrary to hierarchical notions of virtue and responsibility, a more egalitarian vision of responsibility should be encouraged, even if the choice is to agree to obeying a superior. Authenticity demands nothing less, and while ethical accountability is easily understood, so too should philosophical accountability: each soldier is responsible for his or her role in the wars or actions in which he or she is employed to fight," (From the book Ethics Education For Irregular Warfare, edited by Don Carrick, James Connelly, and Paul Robinson).

The ethical warrior acts according to the commands of his own conscience, the safety of his country that he swore to protect, and God; the true authorities of this world. Government is not a close fourth, it is not even on the list. By contrast, the robotic killing machine mindlessly follows orders, and buys into government propaganda, falsely believing that he is always in the right irregardless of the destruction he authors.

The security of civilized values, and the blessings of liberty depend on whether or not men decide to be ethical warriors, or robotic killing machines.

Sometimes, wars must be fought. The warrior spirit can’t be dismissed solely as a legacy of mankind’s barbaric age, it has to be preserved, and dedicated to the defense of freedom, and other civilized values. If a war is to be fought, definitive evidence of the enemy’s danger must be established, and a clear outline for victory must be thought out, otherwise, it is not a war, and it must not be waged.

Paraphrasing Socrates, Moseley says, "the unexamined war is not worth fighting." This maxim should be printed on the cover of every army field manual, and taught in every military establishment. Soldiers should be armed with knowledge before they are given guns. Teaching the real history of war in military training schools is mandatory if we as a society want to be blessed with honorable soldiers. And all soldiers must see themselves as individuals, and secondarily as members of a group. As Moseley says, every warrior is born with a free will; every man and woman is responsible for his or her own actions in this life. Moseley:

"The ethical warrior is one who is taught to be mindful of his or her agency in military action and to be aware of choices that may present themselves and to choose an appropriate justifiable path. Easier said than done, of course, which is why it becomes so critical to raise minds to a higher plane to provide the individual with a better intellectual tool-kit to question, to examine and analyse, and to draw his or her own conclusions: he or she is presumed to be a free agent who joins the armed services to defend the morally defensible. So if the teachers take the solider out of his or her comfortable realm of thinking, a better solider may be produced — or one who sees his country’s role as incompatible with civil values and rightfully resigns."

The ethical elevation of soldiers has trailed behind their physical elevation. In modern warfare, soldiers are entrusted with the ability to kill off entire villages through the use of highly-advanced war planes, but they are denied critical thinking skills in military training, so they can’t see through the political propaganda that they are immersed in. They are taught to justify the slaughter of innocent human beings, and told to cover-up their bloody mistakes.

Using war planes to destroy the homes of innocent people does not make you a warrior, but a murderer, and not even a regular murderer, but the worst kind; the kind of murderer that literally can’t feel the blood of his victims on his hands. The men who employ such weapons are weaklings and cowards. Tom Engelhardt has more to say about drone warfare, and the blood-soaked bureaucrats that operate them in his essay, "Gods and Monsters: Fighting American Wars From On High":

"Whether in the skies or patrolling on the ground, Americans know next to nothing of the worlds they are passing above or through. This is, of course, even more true of the “pilots” who fly our latest wonder weapons, the Predators, Reapers, and other unmanned drones over American battle zones, while sitting at consoles somewhere in the United States. They are clearly engaged in the most literal of video-game wars, while living the most prosaic of god-like lives. A sign at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada warns such a drone pilot to "drive carefully" on leaving the base after a work shift “in” Afghanistan or Iraq. This, it says, is “the most dangerous part of your day."

One instructor of drone pilots has described this form of warfare vividly: "Flying a Predator is like a chess game… Because you have a God’s-eye perspective, you need to think a few moves ahead." However much you may “think ahead,” though, the tiny, barely distinguishable creatures you’re deciding whether to eradicate certainly don’t inhabit the same universe as you, with your looming needs, troubles, and concerns."

Such monsters can’t tell the difference between Iraqis, Afghans, and yes, even Americans. All they know are "civilian," and "military." And the predator drones that cause carnage and mass trauma in the Middle East may soon be used on American citizens if they decide to resist the new world order. That is the present danger that all freedom fighters face. We are dealing with arrogant monsters who only know how to follow the orders of their military superiors. They are spiritually deformed men. The good men in the military, the ones who have retained their conscience, and understand the historical situation, must rise up now. The mass slaughter in the Middle East must end, and mankind’s God-given liberties must be defended. The time for meekness has come to an end. I will do everything in my power, short of violence, to achieve these two objectives.

Seven years ago, Jacob Hornberger said that "the time to stop tyranny is at its inception, not later. Just ask any German. " We have failed to do that. We have allowed the new world order to blossom, and now it will take personal sacrifices to end this tyranny. Luckily, the public has begun to doubt all the political propaganda, mythology, and deceptions of this age. The situation is critical, but not hopeless. But, the American military must be on the side of the American people, of the Constitution, and of righteousness if there is to be a free world in this new century. And the same applies to the Canadian military, the British military, and every other military threatened by the power of the new world order.

The reason why Germany came under the power of the Nazis is because many members of the German military bended their will for Hitler’s deigns, and surrendered their moral judgment. In the book, "The Germans," historian Gordon A. Craig gives a great account of how the military leadership lost track of the welfare of the German people, and restricted its role to sheepishly carrying out the will of the dictator:

"In the first weeks of 1933, when it became clear that Hitler was at the gates, there were many people in Germany who believed that the army would not tolerate the accession to power of this dangerous political adventurer. But, after all of their frenetic and misguided political meddling, the army chiefs now adopted an elaborate pose of neutrality, and by doing so assumed a significant share of the responsibility for having delivered Germany into the hands of National Socialism.

Nor did their responsibility end there. It can be fairly said that the army was culpable for much of the horror that followed. It was in a real sense an accomplice of Hitler’s in the bloody events of June 30, 1934, in which the SS, using army equipment, killed dissident elements in the SA and, at the same time, deliberately murdered some old enemies of the Fuhrer, and its participation in this operation–and its willingness to pledge its fealty to Adolf Hitler in a public oath a few weeks later, despite the fact that two prominent officers, Generals Kurt von Schleicher and Kurt von Bredow, were victims of that Night of the Long Knives–marked the beginning of a total capitulation to the will of the dictator. This had a shameful culmination in February 1938, when the officer corps stood mutely by while Hitler contemptuously dismissed their highest commander, after bringing spurious charges of sexual misconduct against him, and assumed personal command of the Wehrmacht.

There were soldiers who regarded this lack of resistance as a disgrace and who sought to remind their fellows of an older tradition of honor and responsibility to their country. In 1938, when it became apparent that Hitler’s course was bent on war, a group of officers led by General Ludwig Beck, the chief of the General Staff, sought to organize opposition to a policy that, in their view, was tantamount to national suicide. Beck believed that precisely because the German people had always had a kind of pietas for the army, it was the soldiers’ responsibility now to protect it from destruction. "History," he wrote, "will burden these leaders with blood-guilt if they do not act in accordance with their professional and political knowledge and conscience. . . . It shows a lack of greatness and of understanding of his task when a soldier of the highest rank in times like these sees his duty and task only in the restricted area of his military assignment, without taking note of his overriding responsibility to his whole people," (Craig, The Germans, pg. 241).

For America to survive as a nation, with its full liberties intact, then it will require heroic action by individuals in the military. They cannot make the same mistakes as the German military in Hitler’s time. Officers need to voice their real opinion of the fraudulent War on Terrorism, and the corrupt agenda for a new world government. They must help preserve America by standing beside the Constitution, and the American people. America is too precious a country to walk away from at this painful moment in history. It still represents the last, best hope for mankind, because its founders established a good legal foundation. As I wrote in a previous blog post, "A Generation of George Washingtons":

"The skills, expertise, and prestige of the brave men and women who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are needed in the United States, where liberty is in dire straits. These war veterans are proven patriotic fighters, but they also have a responsibility to be citizens and being an American citizen today means withdrawing your support from the tyrannical federal government in Washington D.C.

The U.S. military, unlike the Congress and the White House, has retained the kind of authority in the minds of the people that still commands respect, and that authority should be used wisely and conservatively in a period of national crisis. At the end of the day, the government must fall under the weight of the people, and civilian authority, but the military has a role to play in any national crisis. It is its job to assist Americans, and keep the country free from danger and despotism. That of course will not be possible unless a sufficient amount of soldiers wake up to the reality of the present situation, and withdraw their support from the totalitarian police state.

Unlike politicians, soldiers don’t need to be reminded whose interests they serve, they have fought, bled, and died for their country, and its liberties. Whether or not America’s present wars are international crimes does not apply to the commitment that the Armed Forces made to protecting the Constitution and the country, because American soldiers have fought under the assumption that United States was attacked by Arab terrorists. Of course, that assumption is not true, and is no longer believed in by millions of people in America and in the world. A great number of people have accurately identified the real perpetrators of 9/11, and America’s enemies, and most of them are still in control of the United States government, media and economy, a fact that has not went unnoticed by some intelligent military minds.

But just in case American soldiers do need a reminder of their allegiance, the Oath Keepers organization is providing a good platform for active and former soldiers, as well as police officers, to retake their oath to the Constitution. Citizens should also take the oath, because Americans must be united to defeat tyranny. And it is an oath that must be kept. The "Preservation Generation" can not let down humanity and history."

Resisting the corrupt, and arrogant rulers of America sounds romantic, but that is not my intent. Any form of resistance will require heavy sacrifices, and I don’t view myself as a revolutionary, and never will, but I don’t want to live under a dictatorial world state, so what choice do I, or do any of us have? The fact that women and children are being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan is reflective of the current rulers’ respect for human life, and human dignity. They are bloody monsters, and I don’t want this world to be poisoned and controlled by them any longer. And do you honesty think that they will be reserved towards us in the West? Will they show us mercy? I think not. To them, everything is permitted. They are committed revolutionary, power-hungry psychopaths. They are not motivated by the eternal good. The truth means nothing to them. Justice is not in their vocabulary. Peace is not in their plans. They are destroyers.

And their time has run out. It is our turn to show them the other side of the universe, the side that aims for the preservation of the rights of man, that does not destroy the Earth’s environment, and that treats every human being with respect. Will you resist? Will you emulate the spirit of the founding fathers of the United States of America, and the spirit of all great men? I pray that you do; pray that I do as well.

Special Trash: Lungs For The Long Run

As you may recall, one of our own here at Emptywheel, John Gundrum (known here as “Gunner”) received a lung transplant about a year and a half ago>. Well, things have progressed quite nicely for John, and this weekend he has travelled from Ann Arbor to Wisconsin to participate in the National Transplant Games:

“You appreciate life like you wouldn’t believe,” Gundrum said. “A lot of stuff just isn’t important anymore, but little stuff is important like seeing my little nephews.”

At the end of the month, Gundrum plans to join about 1,500 other organ transplant recipients from around the country in Wisconsin for the U.S. Transplant Games.
Sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation, the weeklong event features athletic competitions between organ transplant recipients. In the last games held in 2008, more than 1,300 athletes and more than 5,700 families of organ donors or other supporters attended.

“The big draw is a lot of participants want to show the success of organ donation and that, after going through something like that, it’s possible to perform successfully and live healthy productive lives,” said Michael Steigmeyer, spokesman for the National Kidney Foundation.

John will be competing in bowling, golfing and table tennis, and that is just way cool. Go Gunner!

Find out how to become an organ donor in your state.

Okay, there are actually a lot of things going on out there in sports land, including NFL training camp starting to crank up. Probably the most important news so far is that Childress went down to Kiln Mississippi to visit his once and future Geezer Quarterback and ended up on a nocturnal armadillo hunt. That is some kind of fun. Kind of like coon huntin, which is explained fully by Jerry Clower in the attached video.

Baseball is starting to hit the compelling part of the season and the trading deadline is at hand. And, more importantly, the lads in the Circus are ripping up Hungary this weekend with Sebastian Vettel looking very fast again.

So let loose and trash it up!

DREAM Now Letters Recap: The CHC Has To Stand With Migrant Youth, Not Against Us

The “DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama” is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service.  With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!

Today marks the completion of the second week of the DREAM Now series. I am sorry I was not able to get a letter out on Wednesday.  Too much travel and not enough sleep led me to come down with a soar throat and a fever on Tuesday.  Thankfully, I’m starting to recover, today.  If you’re not getting enough of your DREAM Now fix I recommend reading Matias Ramos’ post on why he stood up during Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) speech at Netroots Nation.

Thanks in part to the supporters of the DREAM Now Series,  Reid is now on board with pushing DREAM Act this year.  Most of the credit for turning Reid, of course, should go to courageous undocumented youth activists for their civil disobedience in Reid’s office and making their presence known during his appearance at Netroots Nation.  While Reid still needs to be pushed, most of our efforts to get the DREAM Act enacted, this year, should now shift towards securing the last few mostly Republican Senate votes we need.  The National Council of La Raza has a list of Senators who have not yet publicly committed to voting for the DREAM Act.  If your Senator is on that list, you better start getting to work.  (more…)

Krugman: Warren Appointment to CFPB May Remedy Progressives’ “Enthusiasm Gap”

Elizabeth Warren (photo: david shankbone via Flickr)

Paul Krugman hits on a familiar topic – that the appointing of Elizabeth Warren to head up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would not only give confidence to consumers that the President stands with them over banksters and scam artists, but to progressives who want to see some signal that their voices are being acknowledged, let alone heard. Indeed, Krugman casts the nomination fight as part of a larger story.

Mr. Obama rode into office on a vast wave of progressive enthusiasm. This enthusiasm was bound to be followed by disappointment, and not just because the president was always more centrist and conventional than his fervent supporters imagined. Given the facts of politics, and above all the difficulty of getting anything done in the face of lock step Republican opposition, he wasn’t going to be the transformational figure some envisioned […]

But progressive disillusionment isn’t just a matter of sky-high expectations meeting prosaic reality. Threatened filibusters didn’t force Mr. Obama to waffle on torture; to escalate in Afghanistan; to choose, with exquisitely bad timing, to loosen the rules on offshore drilling early this year.

Then there are the appointments. Yes, the administration needed experienced hands. But did all the senior members of the economics team have to be protégés of Robert Rubin, the apostle of financial deregulation? Was it necessary to install Ken Salazar at the Interior Department over the objections of environmentalists who feared, rightly, that his ties to extractive industries would make him slow to clean up a corrupt agency?

And where’s this administration’s Frances Perkins? As F.D.R.’s labor secretary, Perkins, a longtime crusader for workers’ rights, served as a symbol of the New Deal’s commitment to change. I have nothing against Hilda Solis, the current labor secretary — but neither she nor any other senior figure in the administration is a progressive with enough independent stature to play that kind of role.

The President is seen by his enemies on the right as a socialist, and his enemies on the left as a sellout. But this doesn’t put him perfectly situated in the middle, and it certainly does no good for the policies. Whether it’s Afghanistan, the sluggish economy, or the foreclosure crisis, a middle course – or in cases, an unapologetically conservative one – these policies, not image or perception, is driving the generally tepid sentiment we see from a large chunk of Democrats these days.   . . . (more…)

Citizens, Resist The Squeeze Play On Your Minds

(This is the second piece in a series. The first one, is "A Consumer Is A Subject, A Citizen is a Verb.")

"Corporate profits up, but consumer optimism sagging."

The conclusion of this headline doesn’t bother me as much as the principles named. Sometimes a different word choice can generate an entirely new meaning.

This rewrite is an upgrade: "Corporate profits up, but citizen optimism sagging." Eventually, the headline would transform into a world changer, "Corporate profits down, but citizen optimism rising."

Why am I making such a big deal of semantics? How could this possibly be a spiritual issue?

Universally, the great religions teach us that the mind is ground zero for eternal values to reign on the earth. Our identity is fundamental.

The ancient letter to Christian’s in Rome exhorts, Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed."

Fast forward two thousand years. Standing at America’s ground zero, our would-be-Emperor beseeched us to "go shopping."

I’m asking you to do two things. Numero uno. Sharpen your eyes and ears to the noun the corporate media uses to reference you. Numero dos. Every time you are referred to as a consumer (which is virtually every time) say resolutely to yourself, "Citizen."

The consequence of seeing human beings as consumers bores down not only to the marrow of our identity, but also of our literal existence.


A Smart Obama Immigration Policy In The Face Of Political Cowardice

Clearly comprehensive immigration reform is not achievable in light of the refusal of either party to meaningfully address the subject, especially in an election year consumed with the rabid doings of the Arizona State Legislature (memo to everyone: the Arizona Legislature has always been the province of loony nutjobs). Against that backdrop, would be refreshing to see the Obama Administration actually thinking creatively about affirmative policy steps that could be taken to improve the situation and reduce racial tension. Believe it or not, that is exactly what is being done. From Dan Nowicki at the Arizona Republic:

The Obama administration is exploring a broad range of options that potentially could let thousands of illegal immigrants remain in the United States legally or apply for permanent residency if Congress continues to stall on passage of comprehensive immigration reform, according to an internal government memo obtained by The Arizona Republic.

The draft memo, from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency in charge of processing immigration benefits, outlines administrative options that would “promote family unity, foster economic growth and achieve significant process improvements and reduce the threat of removal for certain individuals present in the United States without authorization.”

Perhaps the most controversial part of the memo suggests increasing the use of deferred action, which the government uses to let certain illegal immigrants who haven’t committed crimes to remain in the United States without fear of being deported. Once an illegal immigrant is granted deferred action, they are eligible for work permits. Currently, deferred action is rarely granted.

Here is the actual memo from DHS Citizen and Immigration Services.

What a refreshing thought.

In the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform,
USSIS can extend benefits and/or protections to many individuals and groups by issuing new guidance and regulations, exercising discretion with regard to parole-in-place, deferred action and the issuance of Notices to Appear (NTA), and adopting significant process improvements.

Now this is the type of intelligent thought and leadership that Barack Obama ran and got elected on. Is it perfect or ideal? No. But it is positive action in the face of an intractable problem Congress is too cowardly to address.

On the other hand, floating this out with little fanfare, almost in a stand off treatment, does not bode well for the confidence of the Administration or its willingness to invest any effort or perceived capital oh so precious to them.

Prediction: The brown haters and conservative shriekers will let fly causing the White House and Administration to run away and disavow their own department and officials who put their necks out on the line to try to make a difference in such a critically important area of domestic policy. Oh, and John “the Maverick” McCain will rhetorically inflate like cynical nihilistic puffer fish furious about even the thought of such intelligent administration of government.

Democrats Forcing GOP’s Hand on Black Farmers, Native American Land Trust Settlements

Scheduling aid for Senate. (photo: *n*o*o*r* on Flickr)

In addition to everything else the Senate is up to next week, they’re going to try and shoehorn in a unanimous consent request to once and for all approve the black farmers and Native American settlements, known as Pigford and Cobell, in a standalone vote on Monday.

On a conference call with reporters Friday, John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, said the Senate will have a unanimous consent vote on a stand-alone bill authorizing funds for the settlements.

One resolves black farmers’ discrimination claims against the Agriculture Department while the other resolves Native Americans’ claims against the federal government for misuse of tribal land trust accounts, known as the Cobell settlement. The total price tag for both settlements is $4.6 billion over ten years.

“We see it as a last-ditch effort here before Congress goes into recess mode,” Boyd said. The black farmers’ advocate said he was frustrated by the bitter partisan fighting on Capitol Hill. Funds for both settlements have already passed in the House but have been continually blocked in the Senate after they were attached to much bigger bills, like the small-business lending bill or the tax extenders bill.

The black farmers and the Native American land trust settlements have never been the focus of any of the ire of Republicans in the small business, tax extenders or war supplemental bills. They claimed to oppose them for different reasons, and those bills blew up or were stripped of extraneous measures, like Pigford and Cobell. Now the GOP can be as good as their word.

A note here that the fiscally prudent thing to do is to approve the settlements. Litigants can back out of the settlements at any time, if they continue to linger, and seek a larger award through the courts, which they’ll probably get, since the issues of systematic discrimination and theft are so clear-cut.

So Republicans have a choice: put decades of discrimination and bigotry behind them, or hold out and have the government end up paying more in the end.

We’ll see on Monday.

(A side note about how interesting it is to see these giant bills constructed, then shorn down and broken down into component parts.)

Why Fiduciary Responsibility Beats Moral Responsibility

Over at Boing Boing, Jacques Vallee — a computer scientist, partner in a venture capital firm and author — wrote a post titled. Stating the Obvious: If you don’t have a house you don’t need no sofa.

Workin' Dog by boxchain

It’s a good post, questioning issues of consumerism, lost houses and the media’s attention span in a crisis that isn’t telegenic, just tragic. The obvious point he makes is that if you lose your house you aren’t going be going out buying stuff. Here is my response:

It’s great that you have stated the obvious.

Now please tell me what you are doing behind the scenes politically to help.

Being a Venture Capitalist or VC means you have money. And you are probably still sending it to the companies that are in your portfolio. But are you also funding groups that are working to stop relief?

Do you support lobbyists that are screaming about the deficit in the face of horrific unemployment? Have you supported groups that have worked Congress to pass bills that let our corporations send jobs overseas and get tax benefits for it? Do you believe in fair markets or in fake "free markets"? Is your first concern your "global competitiveness" or in the ability of Americans to buy sofas with a living wage? Maybe you tell yourself that you have to look out for your business first, but then do you donate money to groups who make it easier for capital to chase cheap labor around the globe?

I’ve worked with VCs and Silicon Valley companies for years and I know that when the VCs suggest something, things happen. Because they represent money. But they don’t just spend that money on their companies, they donate money to groups that have worked hard to make this "obvious situation" happen. There are groups actively working against the people whose fate you bemoan.

And I’ll go a step further, if you aren’t supporting these right wing groups are you supporting the groups that are FIGHTING these groups? Are you supporting anyone who is effectively fighting the right wing think tanks? Are you donating money for fighting a right wing noise machine that constantly pushes a economic world view that is failing? Groups like the Center for Media and Democracy and Media Matters need your money.

Or do you think that what they say on Fox, and talk radio is irrelevant and is ignored as non-serious and unworthy of challenging? Are you supporting groups that are fighting Grover Norquest’s Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation or the AEI? Are you funding or fighting groups like FreedomWorks?

Norquest and his friends can promise a great ROI. A few million here and lower taxes there. But what can other groups promise you for ROI? Is it all about ROI or do you have a sense of duty to the American people who might buy your products?

No rich VC was willing to fund me when I was fighting the right wing radio hosts and their calls to hang journalists, liberals and murder millions of Muslims. The hosts had the standard conservative economic views that have lead to this 22 percent real unemployment. I and a handful of bloggers cost the right wing media millions, but we didn’t generate revenue, so that means that it wasn’t a valuable exercise in our ROI world.

I’m glad I did what I did but I paid the price of getting involved with "Politics" in Silicon Valley by pushing against a conservative viewpoint that is shared by many very rich people in the valley. Maybe I should have just focusing on helping people with messaging, the media and ROI, because I’ve helped some SV companies make billions over the years

I know the power of VCs, it’s not just your public pronouncements, it’s your private views and where your money goes when it’s not flowing into companies that counts.

If you would like to tell us what you are doing in that space I would like to hear. I would like to know if you ask your fellow VCs the same question. What are they doing behind the scenes? Are they supporting people who want to keep the Bush tax cuts? Are they supporting rules for keeping estate taxes low – do they call them "death taxes"? Have they demanded real financial regulations or are they all afraid to piss off Wall Street for when they need them for an IPO? (Wall Street Bankers are the one group that I’ve seen VCs worry about pleasing during road shows.)

If you can’t bear to tell your tax accountants not to create shell companies in the Caymans to cut taxes on your company, can you at least support the regulations that will eventually make it illegal or hard to do that? Your fiduciary responsibility might force you to lobby to reduce taxes, but your moral responsibility isn’t the same as your fiduciary responsibility.

I don’t doubt your sincerity here, what I want to know if you are following through on your views backstage where it really counts these days.