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Saturday, June 16, 2007

They're Different From Us

by digby

I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this conservative crack-up. The Saturday money show on FOX, a show that's so revolting that I usually have to have my brain bleached after I watch it, was vastly entertaining this morning as the big money boys squared off against an anti-immigrant crusader for a group that calls itself Mothers Against Illegal Aliens. (They kind of missed the point on the acronym, but judging from their president, they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.)

Anyway, we had this woman, Michelle something, spitting nails about "real Americans" while the craven greedheads sounded like they were going to start singing hymns in Spanish and reciting the "I have a dream speech."

Here's a little taste of Michelle:

"I can't stop laughing at all of you guys. You guys are all racist against the American people... This is about me, the legal citizens of the America, all speaking out that this country is for us."

Here's a revealing exchange:

Pat Dorsey of morningstar.com: Every single individual who is in this country illegally would have come in legally had we given them the opportunity.

Michelle: We do, we have a legal system...

PD: The HB1's are snapped up in a morning.

Michelle: You said the Hispanic or Latino population is this explosion of financial growth in America. But it's wrong to think that one nation should take over 30-60% of the population of America when our country is based on immigrants from all over the world.

Somebody in the backround: yeah... as long as they're white.

But my favorite is this:

Question: Do you think this is as important as fighting terrorism?

Michelle: We've got to get away from the "terrorism" the president's trying to scare us with. There will always be crime. We're always going to have people trying to kill us. The reality is that our perimeter has never been secured after 9/11... Our country's perimeter is not secure.

Mexicans are a bigger danger to America than the terrorists.(But I like the use of democratic talking points against bush. Yea!)

Meanwhile, in the real world, you have a predictable effect (which those big money boyz know perfectly well):

As a Cuban who fled Fidel Castro's communist rule for a new life in the U.S., Julio Izquierdo would seem a natural Republican voter — a sure bet to adopt the same political lineage that has long guided most of his countrymen who resettled in South Florida.

But moments after taking his oath this week to become a U.S. citizen and registering to vote, the grocery store employee said he felt no such allegiances.

"I don't know whether Bush is a Democrat or a Republican, but whatever he is, I'm voting the other way," Izquierdo, 20, said Thursday as he waited for a taxi after a mass naturalization ceremony at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Izquierdo said he did not like President Bush's handling of the Iraq war and was miffed at politicians, most of them Republican, who seem to dislike immigrants.

That sentiment, expressed by several of the 6,000 new citizens who took their oaths Thursday in group ceremonies that take place regularly in immigrant-heavy cities nationwide, underscored the troubled environment facing the GOP in the buildup to next year's presidential election.

Surveys show that among Latino voters — a bloc Bush had hoped to woo into the Republican camp — negative views about the party are growing amid a bitter debate over immigration policy.

Republicans in Congress have led the fight against a controversial Senate bill that would provide a pathway for millions of illegal immigrants to eventually become citizens. All but one of the GOP's leading White House hopefuls oppose the measure.

Many Latino leaders, including Republicans, have said the tone of some critics in attacking the bill has been culturally insensitive. They say that has alienated some Latinos from the GOP.

One of the big problems for Republicans in this is that their lizard brain base thinks that the Latino population is even more stupid than they are, and that's a very big mistake. Politics are mother's milk in Latin culture --- they pay attention. And they certainly hear it when you have people like Michele there expressing contempt for them and complaining that they are "taking over the country."

This is the person Michelle and Tom Tancredo is handing over to the Democrats:

Priscilla Girasol, 36, a mother from Brazil who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said she liked Bush because of his Christian faith and the compassion he expressed for the immigrant experience. But she said she could not forget the words of one GOP presidential candidate, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

Tancredo, a vocal critic of illegal immigration, late last year called Miami a "Third World country."

"It's a shame," Girasol said. "I'm sure in his life somebody from another country did something for him."

Priscilla Girasol isn't a fool and knows very well what Tom Tancredo and the Mothers Against Illegal Immigration are all about, and it has far less to do with anything "illegal" than it has to do with worrying about their "way of life" supposedly being compromised by all these furriners, no matter how much they protest otherwise. All the gains that Bush made over the years to securing the Latino population with appeals to traditional values are being wiped out by the racist id of the Republican base.

But what did he expect? That they would sit still for his "compassionate" outreach to a bunch of brown people just because the corporations want cheap labor? Of course not. Live by racism, die by racism. But they had no choice, really. Karl Rove knows that without being able to carry at least a large minority of Latino votes, they cannot cobble together a majority. As Florida goes ... well, let's just say they have a problem. George Bush is not desperately pushing this bill just because of big agriculture or the restaurant lobby. He's pushing it on behalf of all big business --- his real base --- because if the neanderthals in the GOP base are successful at seriously alienating the Latino vote, the ship is going down.

(Of course, if the neanderthals in the base don't vote, or find themsleves a Perot figure, they have an even bigger problem. Gosh, hate mongering gets complicated after a while, doesn't it?)

Trent Lott said yesterday, “talk radio is running America." Well, it may not be running America, but it is competing with the big money boyz to run the Republican party and having some success. The big money boyz are coming to regret the monster they created:

The undoing of the immigration bill in the Senate this week had many players, but none more effective than angry voters like Monique Thibodeaux, who joined a nationwide campaign to derail it.

Mrs. Thibodeaux, an office manager at a towing company here in suburban Detroit, became politically active as she never had before. Guided by conservative Internet organizations, she made calls and sent e-mail messages to senators across the country and pushed her friends to do the same.

“These people came in the wrong way, so they don’t belong here, period,” Mrs. Thibodeaux, a Republican, said of some 12 million illegal immigrants who would have been granted a path to citizenship under the Senate bill.

“In my heart I knew it was wrong for our country,” she said of the measure.

Supporters of the legislation defended it as an imperfect but pragmatic solution to the difficult problem of illegal immigration. Public opinion polls, including a New York Times/CBS News Poll conducted last month, showed broad support among Americans for the bill’s major provisions.

But the legislation sparked a furious rebellion among many Republican and even some Democratic voters, who were linked by the Internet and encouraged by radio talk show hosts. Their outrage and activism surged to full force after Senator Jon Kyl, the Arizona Republican who was an author of the bill, suggested early this week that support for the measure seemed to be growing. The assault on lawmakers in Washington was relentless. In a crucial vote Thursday night, the bill’s supporters, including President Bush, fell short by 15 votes. While there is a possibility the legislation could be revived later this year, there was a glow of victory among opponents on Friday.

“Technologically enhanced grass-roots activism is what turned this around, people empowered by the Internet and talk radio,” said Colin A. Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, a conservative group.

Mr. Hanna suggested the passion and commitment were on the side of the opponents.

“The opposition to the amnesty plan is so much more intense than the intensity of the supporters,” said Mr. Hanna, speaking of the bill’s provisions to grant legal status to qualifying illegal immigrants, which the authors of the legislation insisted was not amnesty.

There is another group who feel pretty intensely about this too, although they may not be calling their senators. Here they are:

For Mrs. Thibodeaux and others on her side, the immigration debate was a battle for the soul of the nation because it seemed to divert taxpayer-financed resources to cater to foreigners who had not come to this country by legal means.

“This hit home with me because I knew it was taking away from our people,” said Mrs. Thibodeaux, 50, who works at Ruehle’s Auto Transport. “What happened to taking care of our own people first?”


When asked about Mr. Bush’s support for the bill, Mr. Murphy, a longtime Republican, had to pause to temper his words.

“I was stunned, really,” he said. Mr. Bush “has always been a person who stood for some basic human values, and now he’s going to give away the country?”


Here in Michigan, speaking at her neatly maintained home under hickory trees in Washington, a town north of Detroit that has been battered by auto company layoffs, Mrs. Thibodeaux said the immigration bill worried her like no other political issue. She believed it would reward undeserving immigrants who do not speak English and would soon become a burden on public services that Americans need in a time of economic uncertainty.

“A lot of our American people in Detroit are hurting,” Mrs. Thibodeaux said, noting that she has often done volunteer work in poor neighborhoods here. “It’s just not right.”

Her strong feelings about the immigration issue came gradually, she said. A nephew who works as a house painter had trouble finding high-paying work because of competition from illegal immigrants. Some Mexican teenagers hassled her on the street, seeming to mock her because she walks with a cane. She spotted immigrants shopping with food stamps at the grocery store.

Mrs. Thibodeaux said she favored orderly legal immigration, but did not think illegal immigrants should benefit from American generosity.

“I have a very hard time with illegal,” she said. She proposes that all illegal immigrants be given a 90-day period to leave voluntarily. After that, immigration agents, local police and the National Guard, if necessary, should be mobilized to deport them, she said.

While Mrs Thibodeaux has a point about house painting being the type of work that's often done by immigrants, illegal or otherwise, these days, she doesn't say a word about the people who hire them. And she clearly believes she was mocked by illegal teen-agers and that the people she saw using food stamps must be illegal, too, although she gives no reasonable basis other than race to back that up. So, bringing in the national guard to comb through the cities looking for anyone who looks like those people and presumably demanding they provide proof of their citizenship seems like a reasonable thing to her.

Here's one example of how that might work:

THERE ARE THOSE who argue that police should cooperate more aggressively with immigration officials, that cops should be the front line in spotting people here illegally and expediting their removal from this country. To those advocates, we commend the case of Pedro Guzman, a 29-year-old developmentally disabled man born in Los Angeles and deported by mistake last month.

Arrested for trespassing at an airplane junkyard, Guzman was questioned while in the custody of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and, perhaps because of his disability, mistaken for an illegal immigrant. He was turned over to immigration authorities, who deported him to Tijuana. He then promptly disappeared. Despite their frantic attempts to find him, Guzman's family has not heard from him since May 11. What that means is that Guzman's trespass has earned him a sentence of banishment and disappearance, a fate common in third-rate dictatorships but abhorred in civilized nations. And the federal government's response has been to evade responsibility and to refuse the family's pleas for help.

No kidding:

"ICE only processes persons for removal when all available credible evidence suggests the person is an alien," read a statement. "That process was followed here and ICE has no reason to believe that it improperly removed Pedro Guzman." An agency spokeswoman declined to comment further because the lawsuit was pending.

Guzman called the home of his half-brother Juan Carlos Chabes in Lancaster on May 11, Michael Guzman said. He spoke briefly with Chabes' wife, telling her that he had been deported but that he didn't know where he was.

He asked a passer-by where he was, and Chabes' wife heard a man respond, "Tijuana," Michael Guzman said.

The phone cut off, and the family hasn't heard from him since, Guzman said. The family has put up fliers and visited police stations, jails, hospitals and morgues in Tijuana.

Federal agencies have denied the family help in finding him, said Catherine Lhamon of the ACLU of Southern California.

Pedro Guzman had previously done jail time for drug possession, so he had a record that could have been cross-checked before a deportation decision was made, Lhamon said.

Michael Guzman said that his brother was in special education classes before he dropped out of school, that he can't read or write, and that he has trouble processing information.

Michael Guzman said his parents were from Mexico, but seven children, including Pedro, were born in California. Pedro speaks both English and Spanish, he said.

The Latino community knows all about this, of course.

I don't mean to be too hard on Mrs Thibodeaux. I believe she really doesn't like Mexicans, but I also think if it weren't for talk radio she wouldn't be all worked up about it either. However, as many of us watching the political debate unfold for years already know, the talk radio right is capable of affecting the debate in this country far beyond its actual representation. They are loud, obnoxious and driven by hate, whether it's hatred of the Clintons or hatred of Latinos.

The silent majority, however, thinks quite differently about this, which is what's so frustrating to the Republicans who are saddled with this beast of their making:

A strong majority of Americans — including nearly two-thirds of Republicans — favor allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens if they pay fines, learn English and meet other requirements, a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

That is a striking show of support for a primary element of an immigration overhaul bill that has stalled in the Senate amid conservative opposition.

Only 23% of adults surveyed opposed allowing undocumented immigrants to gain legal status. That finding bolsters the view, shared by President Bush, that the bill's opponents represent a vocal minority whereas most people are more welcoming toward illegal immigrants.

"They are willing to take jobs that our people aren't interested in, and I think this helps the economy," Joseph Simpkins, a retired dry cleaner in New Jersey who participated in the survey, said in a follow-up interview. "As long as they pay taxes, I see nothing wrong with having them become citizens."

This is essentially a made up crisis by people like Lou Dobbs and talk radio show gasbags to exploit the insecurities of certain Americans by creating the illusion that the fact they are losing ground economically is caused as much by illegal immigrants doing day labor as the total abandonment of the manufacturing base by big business. This is the tried and true formula for right wing populism which for some reason always seems to result in a lot of trouble for the people with brown skins, and not so much for the CEOs, who continue to get rich. Go figure.

I know there are significant issues in the border states that need to be dealt with, and I'm sure it's unsettling that some communities are having to deal with a group of immigrants they never had to before. But the "cultural effect" is not a crisis and most of the nation knows that. Whatever real challenges there are can be rather easily dealt with through practical immigration reform.

Whether that actually happens or this becomes an ongoing roiling issue for a while, the ramifications for the Republican party are immediate and huge. Considering the population levels of Hispanic Americans, who rightly understand quite well that this rhetoric has little to do with "illegals" and everything to do with "immigrants," if the Republicans remain captive of the racist base they inherited and then cultivated, they are going to be in deep caca.

If they are even losing the Cubans then they are in major trouble:

Naturalization ceremonies are nonpartisan. But for a moment Thursday, the Miami Beach event seemed like a GOP rally, with symbols reminiscent of the 2004 outreach effort.

There was Bush, in a videotaped message, extolling immigrants' values of "hard work, entrepreneurship, love of family and love of country." Then huge video screens showed patriotic images and pictures of national landmarks, and the audience stood, little American flags in hand, as immigration officials played a recording of that mainstay at GOP rallies, Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A."

But outside, as the new citizens departed, dozens of canvassers from the local Democratic Party and left-leaning activist groups swarmed the sidewalks, clipboards in hand, offering help in filling out voter registration forms.

The local party chairman, Joe Garcia, sweat soaking through his blue guayabera shirt, walked up and down the sidewalk, exhorting the new citizens to register to vote.

Garcia, former director of a prominent Cuban American exile group, did not make a partisan pitch, but many in line recognized him from his frequent appearances on local Spanish-language television.

"Democrat! Democrat!" said one man, holding high the thumbs-up sign.

No wonder Bush is sweating bullets. Aside from the small matter of turning the country into a rogue super power, his lasting political legacy may be overseeing his party's decline to a minority faction of racists and malcontents because they foolishly empowered a bunch of shrieking wingnut gasbags to speak for them in the national media --- and now they can't control them. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Update: But never let the facts staring you in the face change an establishment narrative:

Hannity: I think the Democrats have gone further left than anybody would have anticipated. I think these bloggers have really gotten to them. I think they’re really positioning themselves that they’re gonna have a very difficult time moving center. Do you see that?”

Russert: Absolutely…

Meanwhile, Trent Lott is railing at the out of control rightwing talk radio hosts and Timmeh himself said this on Tucker yesterday:

RUSSERT: Traditionally, Hispanic voters in the 50s and 60s, smaller number obviously, were Republican. Strong family values. Now it`s trending more and more Democratic. The new registrants are overwhelmingly Democratic. And what the political advisers of the president are saying, we cannot afford to have another block like African-Americans, and Hispanic Americans. If we have Hispanics and blacks voting ten to one Democratic, we are in trouble.


And what in the hell is Tim Russert doing kissing Sean Hannity's ass? Jesus, these people are almost criminally incestuous.