Ramsey Clark, Call Your Office

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Apparently, there's some chatter on the right about impeaching the president for being too soft on illegal immigrants. It's hard to believe, but some folks out there think Bush isn't enough of a caudillo.

Sorry, did I say "caudillo"? Insert the non-Spanish term of your choice.

Anyway, while I seriously doubt this impeachment talk will go anywhere, the very fact that people are bringing up the I-word says something about the problems Bush has been having with conservatives. As Glenn Greenwald says,

This is a major, major political problem for the White House. The measures which Bush's base demands, the ones necessary to really satisfy them—a huge wall and active deportation—are far too extreme for Bush to embrace. And yet they aren't going to be satisfied without extreme measures. The media loves to talk about how Democrats are being harmed because "the Left" of the party is dragging it towards policies which are too extreme, but the reality is that dynamic is taking place within, and is threatening to drown, the Republican Party. Bush has very few supporters left. The few he has left are demanding that he adopt immigration positions which he clearly opposes and which would alienate most people in the country. And he is far too weak to satisfy them with symbolic measures.

Greenwald also asks, "Nothing in particular has happened on the immigration front, leading to the question of why has this issue taken on such critical importance now?" His theory is that, with 9/11 receding into the past and Iraq becoming more "muddled and ambiguous," immigration offers nationalists an "opportunity to rail against 'appeasement' (of Vincente Fox); to create the anti-terrorist/pro-terrorist dichotomy on which they thrive; and to demonize a clear, foreign enemy as threatening not just our economic prosperity but also our national security (the 'Mexican invaders'). And if the weakened, ready-to-be-tossed aside failure, George Bush, is one of the spineless appeasers this time, so be it."

I'll have to think on that a bit more before I decide how much I agree with it. One point in its favor: It reminds me of one of Charles Alexander's explanations for the nativist and racist sentiment that surged following the first world war:

During the war the American people had been subjected to the first systematic, nationwide propaganda campaign in the history of the Republic. From both official and unofficial sources poured a torrent of material having the objective of teaching Americans to hate—specifically to hate Germans but, more broadly, everything that did not conform to a formalized conception of "100 percent Americanism." In the fall of 1918, just as the indoctrination process was reaching its peak, as patriotic feeling was mounting to frenzy, the war came abruptly to an end. Americans who had stored up an enormous volume of superpatriotic zeal now no longer had an official enemy on whom to concentrate this fervor.

There's several significant differences between then and now, of course—for one thing, this war ain't over—but the parallels are striking.

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  1. As I’ve commented before on the subject of abortion, the Republican Party in general (and George Bush in particular) has largely run out of symbolic gestures they can throw to the most extreme wing of the party without actually amending the US Constitution, which they don’t have the votes for.

  2. So true, SR. If you said it before, you were right then, too.

  3. “An immigration plan proposed by Senators Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) would provide amnesty to 9 to 10 million illegal immigrants and put them on a path to citizenship. Once these individuals become citizens, the net additional cost to the federal government of benefits for these individuals will be around $16 billion per year. Further, once an illegal immigrant becomes a citizen, he has the right to bring his parents to live in the U.S. The parents, in turn, may become citizens. The long-term cost of government benefits to the parents of 10 million recipients of amnesty could be $30 billion per year or more. In the long run, the Hagel/Martinez bill, if enacted, would be the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years.”

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/bg1936.cfm

    Which do Libertarians want, open borders or a smaller welfare state?

  4. Which do Libertarians want, open borders or a smaller welfare state?

    Both.

  5. Como se dice caudillo en ingles? No pienso que es una palabra de Mexico. En Mexico puede ser que digan “el jefe.”

  6. What’s a caudillo?

  7. Is “caudillo” Spanish for “dildo”?

  8. BTW, on the subject of anti-immigrationists vs. Bush, has anyone noticed that Vox Day has gone off the deep-end? The following is a direct quote from his WND column today:

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=50198

    And [Bush] will be lying, again, just as he lied when he said: “Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic — it’s just not going to work.”

    Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn’t possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don’t speak English and are not integrated into American society.

  9. The measures … are far too extreme for Bush to embrace

    As if

  10. “Both”? What a ridiculous answer. In the real world there are tradeoffs, something you would think people who view the world entirely through the prism of economics would be aware of.

    Good luck with reducing the welfare state and ending affirmative action after you’ve incresed the number of people who benifit from them.

  11. woah. holy shit.

    what a fucking asshole who wrote that.

    SR: you get the “chilling link of the day” award. wow. that’s fuqd up.

  12. It would be nice to be able to lump all the people who say they are conservatives but don’t approve of Bush’s position on immigration as xenophobes. The first time I ever ran into a real rabid, Mexican bashin’ American was an ultra-liberal Californian who just couldn’t understand how people didn’t see the dangers of unchecked immigration. That was about 10 or 11 years ago. People of all political stripes have a right to be concerned about the problem. It doesn’t mean they’re loco or necessarily unreasonable.

  13. In the real world there are tradeoffs, something you would think people who view the world entirely through the prism of economics would be aware of.

    You asked what Libertarians “want”. You did not ask what Libertarians see as the most politically feasible policy proposal that most closely aligns with what Libertarians want. If you don’t want simplistic answers, don’t ask simplistic questions.

  14. Jesse, the problem with this thesis is that we haven’t been treated to a diet of anti-Arab or anti-Muslim propoganda. If anything, it’s been the opposite — consistent calls for tolerance and understanding.

    The jihadis have been making their own case against radical islamic militants by their actions. Broadcasting barbaric acts of savagery is never a way to gain friends.

    That’s not to say that I see no connection between 9/11 and the current anti-immigrant fervor… but I have a hard time blaming the gov’t for it in this instance.

  15. I still think a wall is silly, I also think 5K PR visas a year for mexico is silly. Maybe we should make an effort to not be silly.

    It would be nice to see a program that might actually be useful. As long as empolying undocumented workers is economically benifical for both empolyer and empolyee then your going to have this problem. Moving against a maket is banging your head in to a wall.

    Assuming this is a real problem why don’t we offer a bounty, in the form of permiant residancy, to any undocumented worker who turns in his boss? You would propably have a nanny and housekeeper problem, but if you don’t want undocumented workers you better be consistant in your rejection.

  16. “You did not ask what Libertarians see as the most politically feasible policy proposal that most closely aligns with what Libertarians want”

    So what is it? It’s not my fault so many Libertarains are evasive on the issue of immigration’s effect on the welfare state (one notable exception being Milton Friedman).

  17. “SR: you get the “chilling link of the day” award. wow. that’s fuqd up.”

    Thank you… I think. Anyhow, if there isn’t already an official corollary to Godwin’s Law stating that it is suspended when your opponent expressly relies on the policies of Nazi Germany to support his/her argument, then I think one needs to be made.

  18. Clean Hands: If you add up all the signals floating around, I’d say we’ve been treated to a diet of mixed messages. Which is, of course, a pretty big difference between the Iraq War and WWI right there.

    Carter: The Heritage quote isn’t persuasive unless you assume that every amnestied alien is going onto the welfare tit and that none of them would stay here only temporarily if they had the option to cross the border freely in both directions. Needless to say, both are rather dubious propositions.

  19. SR, I vote to accept your amendment to Godwin’s Law. I’ve noticed that the wingnuts have been relying on Nazi arguments a lot lately. There was that Fox News guy wanting more white babies Friday, now this. I wonder if it’s a concious policy of Godwinning their own arguments to prevent discussion and analysis on the Internet? Your post was creepy even for WingNutDaily.

  20. It’s not my fault so many Libertarains are evasive on the issue of immigration’s effect on the welfare state (one notable exception being Milton Friedman).

    The preference (which I support) is to leave immigration policy as is, halt the further militarization of the borders, and focus on rolling back the welfare state. Its the nationalist to carry the torch of immigration reform. Immigration only takes the lead in the public policy debate due to nationalists. The welfare state is already accepted to be bogus among conservatives/libertarians, and thus justifying a border lockdown in the name of protecting a bogus welfare state is putting a false front on the true nationalistic tendancies of the immigration control advocates.

  21. SR: it was positive praise of you – pointing that link out was important.

  22. “BTW, on the subject of anti-immigrationists vs. Bush, has anyone noticed that Vox Day has gone off the deep-end? ”

    Vox Day was born off the deep end.

  23. Your post was creepy even for WingNutDaily.

    Worse, the asshat what wrote it described himself as a ‘libertarian’.

  24. Did anyone else who read the WingNutDaily article think Vox Day has an ugly haircut and a weird name?

  25. Conservatives often argue that we libertarians are seeking perfection in politics. That is manifestly untrue, as I support the Libertarian Party even though its appeal is hamstrung by its flawed logic and anti-libertarian conclusions on abortion and open borders.
    – Vox Day
    i.e., I support the Libertarian Party even though I do not believe in libertarian ideals.
    Dude, go away. No one wants you. We’re all full up on crazy. Peddle it elsewhere.
    (And with a haircut and stagename like that, how did he escape from an 80s synth-pop time capsule?)

  26. The plain truth is that Bush cares more about corporations than America itself. I believe he’s soft on immigration because of the workforce the illegals provide to the business community. If he were to kick out the source of cheap labor, companies would be forced to pay legal workers more to take many jobs. So it’s all about the bottom line and his policy is basically pro business at the expense of the very Americans that voted him into office. He has nothing to hide behind here. I’ll say to continue supporting Bush is to support the dismantling of America’s future.

  27. A wall would be a kindness to eliminate an attractive nuisance. Americans just aren’t going to go for open immigration so we need to find another answer, one that doesn’t lead to good people dying in the desert or living outside the law. Libertarians, let’s give in to the wall and push for an amnesty for those already on this side and a market based guest worker system.

  28. Jesus. The “parallels are striking”? “Nativist and racist sentiment”?

    Uh, okay. I blame President Buchanan.

    For the record, I am against the National Guard on the border. But I certainly don’t fault people concerned about the openness of the borders, given that our avowed enemies want to get into the country and set up cells — and are open to trying whatever it takes to make that happen — and I find it repugnant that anyone would reduce such a complex issue to “nativism and racism,” even if it is only hinted at.

  29. Mr K,
    A quick google search found this study:
    Economic Impacts
    “They took our jobs!” is not true.

  30. I find it repugnant that anyone would reduce such a complex issue to “nativism and racism,” even if it is only hinted at.

    I don’t think every concern people have raised related to immigration is racist, and I’m not sure how you divined such a “hint” from my post. I do think there’s a pretty big racist contingent in the anti-immigration movement, and that it’s foolish not to talk about it. (Not that my post did have much to say about it, other than pointing out the parallels between Greenwald’s and Alexander’s theories.)

  31. Jesse, there is an epidemic of psychic disturbance going on, as Bush supporters come to grips with the failures of Bush’s foreign policy. So, while immigration has been “an issue” for quite some time, it is only now taking on epic proportions. Now, it is front stage and CRITICAL, thus allowing former Bush supporters to vent rage “safely,” without having to admit they were wrong to support his failures.

    How else to explain a *black* woman, LaShawn Barber, the blogger drawing up the impeachment papers against Bush for his purported immigration sins, in that context *approvingly* linking to a racist screed like this. She also links to Vdare.These folks are desperate, and are simply losing cards in their decks as they melt down in anti-Hispanic anger.

  32. measures which Bush’s base demands, the ones necessary to really satisfy them — a huge wall and active deportation — are far too extreme for Bush to embrace

    What’s so “extreme” about the idea of a wall along the border? Polls show most Americans have no problem with the idea.

    A mass deportation would certainly be extreme, but then little of Bush’s base is demanding one.

  33. I think the idea of getting rid of 10 million workers while the economy is booming is a brilliant idea.

    And putting the National Guard on the border? Better there than Iraq.

    The person who says the Republicans don’t understand economics and national security better than the Democrats is an idiot.

  34. I tend to hang out in Republican blogs (I am violently anti-Islamic Imperialism) and I can tell you that the screaming for Mexican blood is extreme.

    Mass deportations are the order of the day.

    Load up the trains and send them home. Turn 15 million people into felons at the stroke of a pen.

    All this is very similar to drug war hysteria. Calls for draconian punishments. Vigorous enforcement of the law. etc.

    What this means is that the drug war is pretty much conceded as lost and a new enemy must be found.

    Which fits. The anti-marijuana hysteria of the 30s was due in part to an influx of Mexican labor competing with American labor.

  35. Did anyone else who read the WingNutDaily article think Vox Day has an ugly haircut and a weird name?

    Well, showing that much scalp is reasonable for a guy advocating the rounding-up of a scapegoat minority.

  36. The Republicans are twisted in a knot about this because they don’t want to turn the members of the local Chamber of Commerce, who’ve supported the GOP forever, into felons.

    Punish the companies that employ illegal labour and you will, slowly but with steady improvement, eliminate the illegals.

    Everything else is window dressing or more killing-a-fly-with-a-cruise-missile approach that just doesn’t work. (ie War on Drugs)

    In order to fix America’s illegal immigration problem the Republican controlled Government would have to turn on its oldest supporters; the business community. This constituency has been with the GOP since its founding in the 19th century. It is an older constituency than the Pro Pentagon War Hawks, Christianists or even principled Libertarians; it is the heart of the GOP.

    This is why Bush just can’t do it.

    It will take a Democrat in the White House and Democrat controll of at least one branch of Congress to get the job done. You may scoff but a left of center President under pressure from the right has the freedom to get the issue settled and off his desk.

  37. You may scoff but a left of center President under pressure from the right has the freedom to get the issue settled and off his desk.

    If I gather what you are saying… The statist tendencies of conservatives to control society and the statist tendencies of liberals to control business will align and “solve” the immigration problem.

    No thank you.

  38. FIRST: Carter: I would not take the word of the Heritage Foundation on ANYTHING. If they tell me the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, I’ll be out there tonight and tomorrow morning with a compass.

    SECOND; don’t assume immigrants will all stay here forever. Historically, about half of all immigrants (from Europe as well as from Asia and South America) who came to this country worked for a fairly short period of time (5 years or less) to save up some money, and then RETURNED HOME PERMANENTLY. (This is from memory but I believe it’s discussed in Ronald Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore, and works he cited therein.)

    THIRD: the entire argument about immigration is bogus anyway because too many people have a stake in the situation as it currently exists. Employers want the cheap, docile, disposable labor force; the rest of us don’t want the prices we’d have to pay for goods if they were made by American workers earning the kind of wages Americans have to earn to survive.

    FOURTH: why aren’t we targeting the people who employ large numbers of illegal immigrants? They’re American citizens, most of them, they live here, they’ve got more to lose if they face legal action, and what they are doing is just as illegal as what the illegal immigrants are doing. When I see a serious enforcement effort against EMPLOYERS who hire illegal immigrants, then I’ll believe we’re serious about illegal immigration.

  39. The Bush Administration is DOA. Now that his power base has seen that Bush will no longer be able to dole out the spoils of taxpayer’s labor, they are jumping ship, hoping to tread water until they spot a rescue vessel (or perhaps I should say vassal?).

    And not being all together happy about their crumbing influence, they are not being very polite about the divorce.

    The results in Pennsylvania tonight should be interesting.

    Powell

    Don’t vote. It only encourages them.

  40. When I see a serious enforcement effort against EMPLOYERS who hire illegal immigrants, then I’ll believe we’re serious about illegal immigration.

    That’s interesting. When I see a serious enforcement effort against employers who hire illegal immigrants, then I’ll believe we’re a few more sad steps down the road to fascism.

  41. Why now?

    Bush’s base has been pissed off about Mexicans for a long time, but they were too deep in the Bush Personality Cult to criticize him.

    What has changed is that the Cult has broken up. Now the wingers can (1) criticize Bush and (2) demand extreme Final Solution measures as the price of their continued support of him. The Christofascists are doing the same thing.

  42. Why now?

    Bush’s base has been pissed off about Mexicans for a long time, but they were too deep in the Bush Personality Cult to criticize him.

    What has changed is that the Cult has broken up. Now the wingers can (1) criticize Bush and (2) demand extreme Final Solution measures as the price of their continued support of him. The Christofascists are doing the same thing.

  43. Americans who had stored up an enormous volume of superpatriotic zeal now no longer had an official enemy on whom to concentrate this fervor.

    Yeah they did.

    http://tinyurl.com/oncte

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