Could It Be That They’re Actually Doing The Right Thing?

If you’re concerned about the moral and practical implications of businesses that hire illegal immigrants, this seems like a positive step:

Immigration agents had prepared a nasty surprise for the Garcia Labor Company, a temporary worker contractor, when they moved against it on charges of hiring illegal immigrants. They brought a 40-count federal indictment, part of a new nationwide strategy by immigration officials to clamp down on employers of illegal immigrant laborers.

Maximino Garcia, the president of the company, which provides low-wage laborers to businesses from Pennsylvania to Texas, stood before a federal judge here on Tuesday to answer conspiracy charges of aiding illegal immigrants and money laundering. If convicted, Mr. Garcia, who pleaded not guilty, could serve 20 years in jail and forfeit his headquarters building and $12 million.

The criminal charges against Mr. Garcia and his company were brought by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security. The campaign has included at least five other federal indictments of business executives in Ohio and Kentucky and has sent payroll managers rushing to re-examine their workers’ papers and rethink plans for their work force.

. . .

Until recently, the worst that Mr. Garcia, 43, might have expected from the immigration authorities was a civil fine and the deportation of some illegal workers. In April, with President Bush under fire from both Democrats and Republicans who accused him of being lax on employers of illegal immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the new campaign. It focuses on those suspected of violations with felony charges that could lead to huge financial penalties and the seizing of assets.

. . .

Companies like Garcia Labor have sprung up across the United States. Instead of hiring immigrants directly, employers create a buffer by contracting with a labor company, which is responsible for verifying its workers’ documents. Employers can argue that that they were not aware that workers provided by a contractor did not have valid papers.

According to the indictment, in a single month, May 2003, the Social Security Administration informed Mr. Garcia that 186 of his employees who were working at ABX Air had invalid Social Security numbers. Garcia Labor continued to send laborers to ABX Air even after they answered no when asked on applications if they were eligible to work in the United States, the indictment says.

The article also quoted immigrants’ rights proponents who argued that the crackdown led to a climate of fear among immigrant communities — odd since they’re basically being used by unscrupulous business owners.

Talk about Shooting Yourself in the Ass

When I heard about the 48 hr halt to air raids following the bomb raid gone awry, I thought Israel had managed a geo-political judo flip with extraordinary dexterity. With no discernible exit strategy, I figured Israel could at least use this event as an opportunity to declare a de facto cease fire by taking the moral high ground — “no military goal is worth killing civilians, so we will rethink our strategy” — blah blah.

So much for that idea …

“Six for ’06”

Hi everyone! I’m the new guy. Thanks to Bruno and Co for giving me a voice here on the blog associated with the finest Progressive Talk Radio Program in all the land.

Congressional Democrats released their version of the “Contract for America” this morning on Capitol Hill. Three points from a Dana Bash/Ted Barrett piece up at

1. Thank goodness they dropped the previous slogan: “Together, America Can do Better” and replaced it with “A New Direction for America.” They’re equally bland and thoughtless, but that awkwardly placed comma in the former really was a sticking point for me. Find me a successful slogan with a comma. “Nike: Just, Do it.” Doesn’t work.

2. I love the GOP response:

Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign, said Democrats are “flailing in their desperate attempt to demonstrate that they have a plan and are unified.”

“Their plan is really to raise taxes, increase spending and weaken important tools that protect Americans in the war against terror,” he said.

First of all, Brian, you’ve got two first names. Secondly, you forgot babykilling.

3. The Kabuki nature of DC politics really shines here. Bash and Barrett quote Reid suggesting the plan is probably irrelevant in the first paragraph of the piece:

“The ‘Contract with America’ didn’t accomplish anything,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. “(It) didn’t change the election at all.”

Great time to put that out there, Harry. And if you don’t believe him, listen to Chuck Schumer:

“We don’t see anything down the road that is really in our way in terms of doing well,” Schumer said. “The wind is at our back.”

Translation: I really don’t see how we can f*#k this up.* Which is probably true, based strictly on historical trends, though I wouldn’t put anything past these guys.

Neither do Bash and Barrett apparently, who not-so-subtly use the last line in the piece to remind us that if anyone can blow a gimme election, it’s the Democratic Party:

At a meeting with reporters at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee headquarters, Democratic leaders unveiled a Web video with clips of the president saying “stay the course” interspersed with graphics such as “gas prices at an all time high.”

They played the video on a small laptop in the front of the room full of reporters because, they said, they couldn’t find a screen projector.

That last line is more editorial than news, I’d say, but either way, it’s effing hilarious.

*I can think of one way: release a 6 point plan telling voters what you actually think.

From the Department of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Almost two-thirds of America answers negatively when asked: “Do you think your children and/or grandchildren have a better economic future than you did?”

Think about that for a second. This country, built on eternal optimism and the legendary can-do spirit, no longer believes in a future that’s up and to the right.

Batten down the hatches, folks, ‘dis here water’s gonna get stormy.

Come Together

Juan Cole writes about al Qaeda’s general absence from direct confrontation with Israel:

…Bin Laden always avoided investing in an area where there was already an active insurgency. He also could not join in with heretical Shiites like Hizbulah.

Ayman al Zawahiri today made a change in both policies. He wants al Qaeda to pile on in Gaza and to defend Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Nothing like a little dose of anti-Americanism to bring together rival Shia and Sunni. Which is why Cole draws the wrong conclusion when he says:

As usual, Israel is radicalizing the Muslim world. The US, too, will suffer.

“Radicalizing”? Maybe. But uniting? Definitely! In fact, our best hope for the future of Iraq is that Shia and Sunni will stop fighting each other and instead turn their anger at the U.S., forcing us out.

(Note: tounge planted firmly in cheek for this post. Well, most of it. That last part about Iraq is actually true. As David Brooks wrote over two years ago, “To earn their own freedom, the Iraqis need a victory. And since it is too late for the Iraqis to have a victory over Saddam, it is imperative that they have a victory over us. If the future textbooks of a free Iraq get written, the toppling of Saddam will be vaguely mentioned in one clause in one sentence. But the heroic Iraqi resistance against the American occupation will be lavishly described, page after page. For us to succeed in Iraq, we have to lose.”)

No, You Were Right All Along — Oliver Stone Really Is A Douchebag

Oliver Stone has long been on my “do not call” list* — not so much for the tinfoil hat-like “JFK” as “The Doors,” which was just so ridiculously over the top** — so it was somewhat surprising to see that “World Trade Center,” his latest film, got such rave reviews from so many unlikely people. For a minute there I even thought that I might want to see it***. Now comes word that this publicity push has been part of a concerted effort on behalf of the folks who brought you Swift Boat:

Oliver Stone, that symbol of everything about Hollywood that conservatives love to hate, is getting help in marketing his newest movie from an unlikely ally: the publicity firm that helped devise the Swift boat campaign attacking John Kerry’s Vietnam record in the 2004 presidential race.

The campaign has paid off:

L. Brent Bozell III, president of the conservative Media Research Center and founder of the Parents Television Council — best known for its campaigns against indecency on television and for stiffer penalties on broadcasters — called it “a masterpiece” and sent an e-mail message to 400,000 people saying, “Go see this film.”

Cal Thomas, the syndicated columnist, wrote last Thursday that it was “one of the greatest pro-American, pro-family, pro-faith, pro-male, flag-waving, God Bless America films you will ever see.”

(Mr. Stone, for his part, has insisted in the past that the film is “not a political movie,” while acknowledging in a recent interview that this “mantra” had been handed to him by his employers.)

To top it all off, a writer on The National Review’s Web site, Clifford D. May, actually wrote the words “God Bless Oliver Stone.”

Stone, for his part, seems remarkably unconcerned:

Reached in Boston, Mr. Stone said he knew nothing of the public-relations firm’s background other than that it had helped to promote “The Chronicles of Narnia” last year for Walden Media and the Walt Disney Company. “Believe me, I didn’t cave,” he said. “They do it their way,” he said, referring to Paramount’s marketing executives.

Mr. Stone said that he condemned the “Swift-boating” of Mr. Kerry, but cautioned that he himself had “hired publicists in the past that had skeletons in their closet.” He added: “It’s not a holier-than-thou street here. It’s an impure market.”

*Along with Michael Moore, M. Night Shyamalan and Kevin Smith

**His oeuvre since then makes me think I’m not missing much — “Looking for Fidel”? “Any Given Sunday”? — and I say this as someone who really liked “Platoon”.

***To add insult to injury, I even participated in some small talk about it this week.

Whatever You Do, Keep It Short

The problem Israel faces now is the same one the U.S. faced in 1991 in Iraq and in smaller conflicts this time around — specifically, the need to “keep it short.” If you read, for example, about the first Gulf War, Arab countries agreed that Saddam had to be removed from Kuwait, but added that the coalition troops didn’t have a lot of time to dither in doing so — tolerance for such Western aggression had a short shelf life on the Arab Street. I recall similar thinking about Falluja in 2004.

In the case of Lebanon, the delay in really lashing out against Israeli actions — by the Lebanese government, by the Saudis, by even the Iraqi PM — probably marked the limit of what is considered “short” there. There was a small window of about two weeks when it was kind of quiet and I wonder if that may be the end. Which makes this Times piece worrisome:

A week ago, Israeli officials said their military had knocked out up to half of Hezbollah’s rocket launchers and suggested that another week or two would finish the job of incapacitating the Lebanese militia. That talk has largely stopped.

Hezbollah is still launching 100 rockets a day at Israel, nearly as many as it did at the start of the war. Soldiers return from forays into Lebanon saying the network of bunkers and tunnels is more sophisticated than expected. And Iranian-made long-range missiles apparently capable of hitting Tel Aviv remain in the Hezbollah arsenal.

“Two weeks after Israel set out to defeat Hezbollah, its military achievements are pretty limited,” lamented Yoel Marcus, a columnist and supporter of the war, in the daily Haaretz on Tuesday.

Israeli military commanders say they are not surprised. The struggle is so difficult, they say, because Hezbollah is an organized, well-trained and well-equipped force and is fighting hard.

“Hezbollah is organized more like an army than the Palestinian militias, and they are supported with some of the best weapons systems that Iran and Syria have,” said Yaakov Amidror, an Israeli major general, now in the reserves, who headed the research and assessment branch of Israeli military intelligence.

“Never before in history has a terrorist organization had such state-of-the-art military equipment,” from medium-range rockets and laser-guided antitank missiles to well-designed explosive mines that can cripple an advanced tank, General Amidror said.

At the same time, Hezbollah has no armor or easily visible storehouses or logistics lines, the Israelis say, and its members live among the civilian population of southern Lebanon, storing their weaponry in civilian buildings.

That is why Israel’s top commanders say this operation may take many weeks.

One Half-Baked Theory

Wondering WTF the Israelis are thinking with this apparently over the top campaign in Lebanon? Some thoughts occurred to me, in the form of the several run-on sentences below:

Assuming that I understand the recent situation correctly, UN Security Council Resolution 1559 called for the Syrian military to leave Lebanon, and for all armed militias in the country to disarm.

Illustrating the universal principal that bastards will find a way to parse the letter of a text to their own best advantage, the Lebanese government declared that Hezbollah was a resistance movement, not a militia, and therefore the disarmament provision of UNSC Resolution 1559 applied to Hezbollah to only “to a certain extent.” Brilliant.

If we can trust Wikipedia on this one (I know, I know), Hezbollah not only refused to disarm, but following a gain of seats in the Lebanese parliamentary election of 2005, launched another series of military attacks against Israel, even before this month’s raid that resulted in Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers.

Imagining myself in the Israeli position, I find myself in a geographically small country bordered to the north by a de-facto regional government and military force that does not answer to the official government whose territory it calls home (ignoring for the moment that Hezbollah actually participates in the Lebanese government). This proto-state apparently considers itself in a state of war with me, and feels free to take shots at me on a regular basis, usually by lobbing rockets in my general direction, but also sometimes in the form of cross-border incursions into my territory.

Given all of the above, and given the talk that the Lebanese government couldn’t disarm Hezbollah if it wanted to, and finally given the new diplomatic blather about the need for an international force to separate the warring parties, is it a rational move on Israel’s part to act so aggressively that the only real choice for stabilizing the situation bring in a well-armed outside force to physically separate Israel and Hezbollah?