Publisher’s note: On May 10 of this year Visions was forced into receivership by its creditors after the website’s disastrous attempt to corner the Ecuadorian pecan market. Sneetch Worseington, the court appointed receiver, estimated Visions’ loss easily exceeded two hundred dollars. As of this date, based upon the numerous creditors’ claimes filed, it appears each of them will collect less than 3.14159 percent of their claims. Today Visions resume publication in the hope its worldwide syndication income will be sufficient to retire its debt within the next thirty-seven years. Cliff Michaels, Visions founder and editor, was charged with half degree fraud but the charges were dismissed by the court when it learned the evidence - fourteen thousand boxes of Ecuadorian pecans – were consumed by the police, court personnel, and prosecutors of Turdley County, Mississippi over a three month period.
I continue to be astounded by the revelation of the NSA’s spying and by the lack of concern by most pundits and the public. Acts of terror by extremist are a genuine threat, but our responses, most particularly the near destruction of the Fourth Amendment, are, it seems to me, grossly disproportional.
From September 11, 2001, through today approximately three thousand people in this country have died in terrorist attacks. That’s an average of just over two hundred fifty per year. That’s about 5% of the rate of deaths in non-gun related assaults per year (5,181 in 2010). Even if deaths from terrorist attacks rose by a factor of ten, they would amount to only one tenth of death resulting from falls.
I am too lazy to diligently research how much we have spent on Homeland Security, but one site claims the total from 9/11 through 2009 was ONE TRILLION, ONE HUNDRED MILION (1,100,000,000) dollars, or about 132 billion a year. Assuming 2,000 lives were saved each year as a result of that spending, we paid just less than sixty thousand dollars to save each life. Of course, if we are good little economists, we should adjust for things like social security benefits saved, income lost, etc. Then, of course, there’s the economic benefit derived from the income of the hundreds of thousands of workers employed by the Homeland Security and the affiliated industries.
Imagine what could have been done with a trillion dollars over the past decade plus: cancer research – infrastructure repair – buttressing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – lowering the federal debt – building thousands of schools and hospitals – and countless other improvements, repairs, projects and programs. Today there is little or no public money available for such ventures.
History will certainly record the 9/11 attacks on America as the most costly ever. I would guess if you had told Bin Laden on September 10th his less than two dozen men armed wit box cutters assault would cost the US three thousand lives and trillions of dollars over ten years (and that doesn’t count the deaths and costs from Iraq and Afghanistan – another trillion plus bucks and over 5,000 American deaths), he would never have believed you…
But the highest costs we have been incurred was placed on us by our governments – local, state, and federal: the loss of much of our Constitution guaranteed liberties. Sadly, in the name of national security (at any cost ) we have blindly acquiesced in – even applauded – our descent into the valley of the gathering shadows of tyranny.
In their frantic attempts to draw hits many blogs feature contrarian articles such as Why Bottled Water Will Kill You, or Rick Santorum, Secret Liberal. These pieces take conventional opinion and take the opposite side. These kind of articles pose no risk to the writer; by a gentlemen’s agreement, no pundit’s ridiculously wrong opinion or prediction is held against her.
So here’s my effort at contrarian punditry: Immigration Reform Will Fail! Conventional wisdom is not even the Republicans are so stupid that they’ll kill reform, but they will, here’s why…
The conservative base doesn’t give a flip about political positioning to win elections. The base cares about purity. The average hard conservative would rather be right than see her candidate elected. And, of course, the far right is viscerally opposed to any immigration by persons of color from southern climes. The intensity of the opposition is sky high. Add their fear the potential for millions more Democratic voters and bitterness over the darkening of the once lily white population and their opposition to immigration reform is set in granite.
Republican Senators, who need votes from a majority of all their state’s voters, are much more amenable to reform than their compatriot Congressmen who for the most part represent safe and very red districts. Add Republican House members’ personal animosity toward Hispanic immigration to their fear of being primaried by someone even more to the right, and they have no incentive to take the risk of backing reform and much to gain by being vocal and vociferous opponents.
But can’t Republican leaders in the House bring enough members to vote for reform to have it pass with near unanimous Democratic support? That assumption is at the heart of Conventional Wisdom. With just a score plus of Republicans voting for reform it would pass the House and become law. Republicans could claim credit and hope to take more of the Hispanic vote on 2014 and 2016.
But the Republican leadership in the House is incredibly weak. Gone are the days when the Speaker exercised iron control. The willingness of Republican members to act in lockstep, the source of much of their power, is no longer a given. Each member’s commitment to his or her own re-election trumps his or her allegiance to the national interests of the Republican party.
The Republicans have been following a rule allowing a full House vote only if a majority of Republicans support the bill. The anti-reform Republicans are a majority of Republicans in the House. They will raise holy hell if Bohner tries to waive the rule as will the far right media (except apparently Fox). Should the Speaker cram a House vote down the throats of the anti-reform Republican majority he may not be Speaker for long. Lacking an iron backbone – or any realistic chance at higher office – he lacks little incentive to push reform and high risk if he does. He won’t (but he will make a lot of supportive comments (all of them ending with “but…”
There is much discussion about the decline of the Republican party. At least at present, the reports of it’s slow death are exaggerated. The party controls the House, is in striking distance of control of the Senate, holds a majority of governorships and state legislatures, and much of local government across the country. At least in the state legislatures, the Republican majorities are very far to the right. None of these zealots support immigration reform and most strongly oppose it. State legislatures tend to be the farm teams of the political parties. Today’s state senator may be tomorrow’s Congressman.
The only true Republican constituency for immigration reform is potential Presidential candidates and, to a lesser extent, governor and Senatorial candidates in blue or purple states. This small group has little influence on House Republicans. Marco Rubio? He’s not in the House, he’s only one of a dozen or so possible 2016 candidates (most of whom will oppose reform. His arguments will fall on deaf conservative ears.
So here’s my prediction: Obama and Senate democrats will cave to Republican pressure to make the bill more and more harsh. They will do this because they’d rather have any reform bill than no bill at all. The Senate bill – however conservative it is perceived by political pundits and observers – will languish in the House and ultimately drown in a sea of xenophobia.
Of course, after the death of reform, Republican national leaders will quickly blame Democrats for its failure (at the same time far right House members will take credit for its demise with their constituents).