Archive for July, 2010
- Chelsea Clinton’s wedding
- Whatever poor schmuck she married (I’m betting it’ll last three years tops)
- The price of Chelsea’s dress
- However much Bill and Hillary spent on the ceremony
- The media’s coverage of it, and I’m quite disappointed that The New York Times and so many other outlets are making such a big deal of it. People are dying every second around the globe! For god’s sakes, some bourgeois wedding isn’t news.
Bad news for the Jan Brewer, anti-immigrant crowd comes today from Time with this report, which finds that four cities in border states with populations under 500,000 people are actually among the safest in the nation. The cities are Phoenix, San Diego, El Paso and Austin. Here’s an excerpt from the Time article:
“The border is safer now than it’s ever been,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling told the Associated Press last month. Even Larry Dever, the sheriff of Arizona’s Cochise County, where the murder last March of a local rancher, believed to have been committed by an illegal immigrant, sparked calls for the law, conceded to the Arizona Republic recently that “we’re not seeing the [violent crime] that’s going on on the other side.”(See photos of the Great Wall of America.)
Consider Arizona itself — whose illegal-immigrant population is believed to be second only to California’s. The state’s overall crime rate dropped 12% last year; between 2004 and 2008 it plunged 23%. In the metro area of its largest city, Phoenix, violent crime — encompassing murder, rape, assault and robbery — fell by a third during the past decade and by 17% last year. The border city of Nogales, an area rife with illegal immigration and drug trafficking, hasn’t logged a single murder in the past two years.
This, of course, flies in the face of Brewer’s previous statement, which was supposed to prove the necessity for Arizona’s immigration bill, that the state was wrought with “bodies in the desert.” As I noted yesterday, there are indeed bodies in the desert, but they are the immigrants themselves.
Most interesting, perhaps, is El Paso, Texas:
Its cross-border Mexican sister city, Ciudad Juárez, suffered almost 2,700 murders last year, most of them drug-related, making it possibly the world’s most violent town. But El Paso, a stone’s throw across the Rio Grande, had just one murder. A big reason, say U.S. law-enforcement officials, is that the Mexican drug cartels’ bloody turf wars generally end at the border and don’t follow the drugs into the U.S. Another, says El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles, is that “the Mexican cartels know that if they try to commit that kind of violence here, they’ll get shut down.”
So, the Obama administration and the feds are just welcoming the looting and pillaging that illegal immigration is apparently bringing to our cities, huh? Sure. Listen to Limbaugh, Boortz and the gang, and it’s as if terrorists were invading, or worse, aliens … as in Martians.
In a piece titled, “Arizona’s Real Immigration Problem: Migrant Deaths,” by Byran Curtis adds commentary to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s recently spewed line about how “immigrant crime, drug cartels, ‘bodies in the desert (Brewer’s quote)’ have necessitated that state policemen badger anyone they think looks like an illegal immigrant to hand over their papers, which are supposed to be, according to the new bill, literally on the suspect in question’s actual person. Like in his or her back pocket. Or under his sombrero. We can concoct any number of ridiculous scenarios.
Below is a story of an illegal who actually didn’t make it far enough in the desert to see this dehumanizing bill come to full fruition. As it turns out, the desert is dehumanizing enough, as much or more so than any nonsense Brewer and her allies can hatch from plush government offices:
Diego Gutierrez, a 25-year-old man Mexican man, illegally crossed the border into Arizona sometime around last Friday. Gutierrez was handsome and well built, with big eyes and a head of thick, black hair. In a photo taken by a Pima County medical examiner, he appeared to have a Roman nose. After trudging through the desert on days when temperatures at a nearby airfield reached 106 degrees, Gutierrez began to complain of stomach cramps. He vomited. Gutierrez’s father, who had crossed the border with him, left his son and flagged down a Border Patrol officer. The officer later reported that he and the father found Gutierrez’s body in the wee hours of Monday morning, July 26. Gutierrez was lying on his back under a tree; his head, fittingly enough, was pointed north.
This is not at all surprising to me. This happens every day along parts of the border, and from talking with local Hispanics in the area, it’s been happening for years. A local restaurant owner with whom I speak with from time to time is the living embodiment of the American dream. He crossed the border illegally about 20 years ago (an act that he says was extremely dangerous even then) to support his parents back home in a poor region of Mexico. He has been legal in the states for well more than 15 years, has kids in the local school system here, a wife and successful business in town.
Curtis puts the current immigrant deaths in the desert into perspective:
… authorities are finding many dead bodies in the Arizona desert these days, but they are not the victims of immigrant murderers. They are the immigrants themselves. What 1070 misses is that it’s far more dangerous to sneak into Arizona than it is to live here.
This month, there have been 58 dead migrants, including Diego Gutierrez, delivered to the medical examiner of Pima County, the large southern Arizona county that stretches from Tucson south to the border. One hundred and fifty-two dead border crossers have turned up in the office since January. To compare that number to much-fussed about immigrant crime statistics, 152 is more than the total number of people murdered in Phoenix, by anyone, in all of 2009.
On a related topic, Rush Limbaugh today on his radio program said the Obama administration, condescendingly calling it a “regime,” said Obama and Co. had no interest in enforcing the border.
But as I was listening to Limbaugh’s unending condescension, I couldn’t help but think that it doesn’t matter one wit about Obama administration’s stance on immigration. I’m quite sure Obama doesn’t support overt illegal immigration, but even if he did, it doesn’t matter. If Limbaugh or others don’t like the current administration’s policies, vote the man out. Just because folks might not agree with the current “regime” in power still doesn’t give Arizona or any other state the authority to circumvent federal law. That’s what elections are for. If people think the current crew is being soft on immigration (I don’t know how this conclusion could be reached since the Border Patrol operates every hour of every day along the border), another election will soon be forthcoming and someone else can be voted in. To bitch and moan about the current administration, which was democratically voted into office by a majority of the population, is childish at best, and plucking from sour grapes at worst.
The top five are:
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla., metro area
- San Jose, Calif., metro area
- Los Angeles, Long Beach, Calif., metro
- San Francisco, Oakland area
- New York, Northern New Jersey
Phoenix, Ariz., the capital of the state in which Gov. Jan Brewer and her arrest-anyone-who-is-brown approach to immigration reform, is only 14th. Here is a piece from Richard Florida on how the list was compiled.
As predicted, Arizona’s recently passed immigration was, indeed, deemed unconstitutional on some counts by federal judge, Susan Bolton, who in a preliminary injunction had this to say about the more controversial portions of the measure:
Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced. …
There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens. By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose (citing a previous Supreme Court case, a) “‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”
Yes: “only the federal government has the authority to impose.” This has been the issue, in my mind, all along, and unfortunately, the issue summons the tired, and at this point, almost anachronistic, debate on states’ rights that conservatives like Gov. Jan Brewer have attempted to resurrect, 19th-century-style, and feed off old, now buried, debates.
Brewer had this to say on the ruling, and here is The New York Times’ account:
“This fight is far from over,” said Ms. Brewer, whose lawyers had argued that Congress granted states the power to enforce immigration law particularly when, in their view, the federal government fell short. “In fact,” she added, “it is just the beginning, and at the end of what is certain to be a long legal struggle, Arizona will prevail in its right to protect our citizens.”
And Arizona senator Russell Pearce, a primary sponsor of his state’s bill, said:
The courts have made it clear states have the inherent power to enforce the laws of this country.
Let’s ignore the errancy of this argument for a second (federal jurisdiction does not equal state or county jurisdiction), the one problem here is simply that states don’t actually have the right to go willy-nilly into their own jurisprudence on the topic of naturalization and attempt to enforce federal laws when, in their leaders’ views, the feds aren’t doing their jobs. That’s a usurpation of federal law, and it’s as clear as the night sky. Once and for all, immigration and naturalization are federal concerns. That state officials are dissatisfied with the federal response to immigration is inconsequential and does not give states license, via our Constitution, to go it alone. Or else, we should remake or undo the United States as a collective.
Afghan War Diary
Here is a snippet from the introductory text of the recently released documents, followed by a table, which I created showing the type of reports released and the number of each type of report. The documents are the most extensive release of its kind while the related war is still taking place. The following text and table should be quite revealing. More to come.
The Afghan War Diary is the most significant archive about the reality of war to have ever been released during the course of a war. The deaths of tens of thousands is normally only a statistic but the archive reveals the locations and the key events behind each most of these deaths. We hope its release will lead to a comprehensive understanding of the war in Afghanistan and provide the raw ingredients necessary to change its course.
The material shows that cover-ups start on the ground. When reporting their own activities US Units are inclined to classify civilian kills as insurgent kills, downplay the number of people killed or otherwise make excuses for themselves. The reports, when made about other US Military units are more likely to be truthful, but still down play criticism. Conversely, when reporting on the actions of non-US ISAF forces the reports tend to be frank or critical and when reporting on the Taliban or other rebel groups, bad behavior is described in comprehensive detail. The behavior of the Afghan Army and Afghan authorities are also frequently described.
The reports come from US Army with the exception most Special Forces activities. The reports do not generally cover top-secret operations or European and other ISAF Forces operations. However when a combined operation involving regular Army units occurs, details of Army partners are often revealed. For example a number of bloody operations carried out by Task Force 373, a secret US Special Forces assassination unit, are exposed in the Diary — including a raid that lead to the death of seven children.
Here is the table showing how the reports break down by report type:
Afghan War Diary by type
|Unknown initiated action||12|
Afghan War Diary
During the interview, Julian Assange had this to say when asked why he founded WikiLeaks, rather than pursuing other endeavors:
We all only live once. So we are obligated to make good use of the time that we have and to do something that is meaningful and satisfying. This is something that I find meaningful and satisfying. That is my temperament. I enjoy creating systems on a grand scale, and I enjoy helping people who are vulnerable. And I enjoy crushing bastards. So it is enjoyable work.
He enjoys “helping people” and “crushing bastards,” huh? How can one not love some journalistic Männlichkeitswahn such as that?
I doubt that Martin Luther’s view would have jibed with that of these folks, who have, with apparent open arms, welcomed gay priests into their fold.
With a laying on of hands, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Sunday welcomed into its fold seven openly gay pastors who had until recently been barred from the church’s ministry.
The ceremony at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco was the first of several planned since the denomination took a watershed vote at its convention last year to allow noncelibate gay ministers in committed relationships to serve the church.
“Today the church is speaking with a clear voice,” the Rev. Jeff R. Johnson, one of the seven gay pastors participating in the ceremony, said at a news conference just before it began. “All people are welcome here, all people are invited to help lead this church, and all people are loved unconditionally by God.”
All people, huh? So did he make them that way or not? Believers say homosexuality is a choice, although I don’t know why a person would choose to adopt a socially and personally stigmatic lifestyle that could result in the loss of many family and friends. Thus, if I was gay (I am clearly not), I would probably do all I could to hide it because I would not, or possibly could not, deal with the intense scrutiny that would ensue if it became known. Thus, all the evidence suggests the contrary on whether gayness is a choice, for it would be a ridiculous one to make.
To rebut the reverend speaking in the quote above, here’s Luther on the topic.
I for my part do not enjoy dealing with this passage, because so far the ears of the Germans are innocent of and uncontaminated by this monstrous depravity; for even though disgrace, like other sins, has crept in through an ungodly soldier and a lewd merchant, still the rest of the people are unaware of what is being done in secret. The Carthusian monks deserve to be hated because they were the first to bring this terrible pollution into Germany from the monasteries of Italy. (Luther’s Works, Vol. 3, 251-252)
… the heinous conduct of the people of Sodom ” as “extraordinary, inasmuch as they departed from the natural passion and longing of the male for the female, which is implanted into nature by God, and desired what is altogether contrary to nature. Whence comes this perversity? Undoubtedly from Satan, who after people have once turned away from the fear of God, so powerfully suppresses nature that he blots out the natural desire and stirs up a desire that is contrary to nature.(Luther’s Works, Vol. 3, 255)
There goes the neighborhood … or eventually, possibly many, many neighborhoods.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday gave up plans to try to pass an energy bill that would have been a start in the right direction in curbing green house gas emissions, and to the glee of our collective humanity, slow the eventual destruction of us all. Or, here’s how The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman has framed it:
When I first heard on Thursday that Senate Democrats were abandoning the effort to pass an energy/climate bill that would begin to cap greenhouse gases that cause global warming and promote renewable energy that could diminish our addiction to oil, I remembered something that Joe Romm, the climateprogress.org blogger, once said: The best thing about improvements in health care is that all the climate-change deniers are now going to live long enough to see how wrong they were.
As Friedman stated in a recent column on the same topic,
… just remember this: If we don’t get a serious energy bill out of this Congress, and Republicans retake the House and Senate, we may not have another shot until the next presidential term or until we get a “perfect storm” — a climate or energy crisis that is awful enough to finally end our debate on these issues but not so awful as to end the world.
It can’t be stated enough that it’s pathetic that not one Republican is even in favor of what Friedman calls a “watered down” bill, much less a robust one which may adequately address the problems that scientists say are already staring us in the face.
The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan today asked what he considers some poignant questions for believers on the problem of finding ways to make the language of faith, particularly the Christian one, fresh for the modern mind.
As Sullivan, a believer, said:
I think of the term “incarnation” – a word that has come to seem like tired dogma. But what can it possibly mean that God became man? How is that different from God infusing all of us with love and hope and sometimes such overwhelming power that we lose all sense of ourselves? What made Jesus so different, so more remarkable than all the rest of us sons and daughters of God? To non-believers I know this must seem just insane; for those of us trying to get past the staleness of our faith, it’s a pressing challenge.
The revival in religion will be a rhetorical problem — new persuasive words for defaced or degraded ones.
So let me understand this correctly. The problem is not the message delivered but how the message is delivered? And who do we think could have possibly been responsible for these defaced and degraded words? Certainly not the unbelievers. It could have only been the people who use such words the most: righteousness, redemption, sin, sacrifice, incarnation, repentance, and the like. I’m not sure what words we could bring to bear to replace or improve on these tried and true truisms.
I don’t think Sullivan’s questions sound insane, and I have often thought about this topic, both as a believer and as a nonbeliever. I think the problem probably goes beyond rhetoric. (Or not, since those who will be taken to belief will believe so long as the language, whatever that may be, and the message inspires or compels them to do so.) For the rest of us, the issue goes beyond mere words because religion, whichever of the big three we choose, has not moved on in hundreds, or at least two cases, thousands of years. While science, astronomy, medicine, biology, physics and astrophysics offers us new wonders on a daily basis, and nature every second if we care to observe it, religion has just the one, for, as the Bible says, the message is the same yesterday, now and forever. I don’t think one has to be very imaginative to realize how that could, indeed, get quite worn out after these 2,000 years of preaching on it with no new information or revelation whatsoever, especially since the information that is allegedly divined appears cobbled together and contradictory by semi-literate folks milling around in the desert, not in China or other areas where people could read. And for those of us (I guess Sullivan isn’t in this category) who haven’t experienced God
infusing all of us with love and hope and sometimes such overwhelming power that we lose all sense of ourselves …
the crisis of faith isn’t just a rhetorical or semantical problem. It’s a real problem.