May 19th, 2006

Voted for Dean

What He Plans and What's Gonna Happen

As Jayne Cobb said about Malcolm Reynolds, what George Bush plans and what happens "ain't ever been exactly similar." I think he knows that. See, back about 20 years ago, a different Republican administration was being systematically sheared of its top policy advisers, especially those dealing with covert operations, in their own wave of indictments and congressional hearings called the Iran/Contra scandal. The historical detail to keep in mind is that you could tell when Congress or the special prosecutor were about to issue fresh subpoenas or indictments, because Ronald Reagan would be on television ... talking about high-tech science. He promised us the moon (literally), he promised us a space station, he promised us ultrasonic sub-orbital commercial jetliners, he promised us a defensive laser shield to protect us from Communist ICBMs.

None of those things were going to happen any time soon. We still haven't made it back to the moon. The space station is only maybe a third complete and it's struggling to stay alive without its default crew and cargo vehicle. The hypersonic jetliner consists, so far, of a single experimental engine that has blown up in one of its two trials. And Strategic Defense Initiative consists of one missile battery in Alaska that the current administration irrationally hopes might be lucky enough to shoot down a hypothetical North Korean ICBM, despite the fact that it's never passed a single test that wasn't later shown to be rigged. But that's OK, you see, because those speeches were never really about ultra-tech science, and anybody who was serious about either politics or ultra-tech science knew it at the time. What those speeches were about was a pathetic attempt to change the subject away from Iran/Contra.

George Bush is talking about immigration.

And frankly, not a single thing he's saying makes sense. But it doesn't matter. Nor does it matter that, with approval ratings only one percentage point higher than Nixon's were on the eve of his resignation, none of the things he's talking about are going to happen for ... well, quite probably, for the same twenty years it took to see any movement on any of Reagan's empty promises. Nor will the resulting policy bear any more resemblance to George Bush's current speeches than SDI bears to Reagan's original "Star Wars" speech. It can't, really. Most of it doesn't even pass the laugh test.

We're going to seal the border ... by asking for volunteers among the already over-stretched Guard to stand in until another 6000 Border Patrol agents can be hired and trained and equipped to the cost of almost two billion dollars? The Border Patrol's been asking for that money for how long? They aren't going to get it this year, either, not with Iraq costing what it's costing. Nor is the over-extended Guard going to give them the number of trained tech-skilled volunteers he says he's going to send to set up communications gear and so forth. Nor would this count as "sealing the border," since this would amount to roughly one new Border Patrol agent every 650 or so feet. Except that that's assuming each one works 24 hours a day, so realistically multiply that distance by four. And that's assuming, as he says, that they're all sent to the Mexican border. I call your attention to the fact that the only overland al Qaeda attack attempted so far involved driving from Vancouver to Seattle.

We're going to change the green cards into "tamper proof biometric ID cards." Well, I'm sure that employers will breathe a sigh of relief over that. It means that if any illegal immigrant shows up with a bogus green card, all the employer has to do is chew them out and quietly shoo them back out the door to go get a counterfeit Social Security card or driver's license. You'll notice that the House bill's proposal for a computerized system for verifying Social Security numbers is nowhere in these speeches. Why not? Because that would actually work.

But oh, wait, we won't need that because employers would rather hire legal "temporary workers," and that's why we have to create a temporary worker program? This is the most nonsensical part of the program yet -- who does he think are going to hire these "temporary workers" if they're subject to minimum wage and worker safety laws? Employers aren't hiring illegal immigrants because "Americans won't do the work." They're hiring them because Americans won't work in unsafe conditions. So combine this stupid idea with the previous stupid idea, and all you've done is add several million low-wage legal workers to the existing twelve million (and rising every year) illegal immigrants, while letting the employers off scot free.

And when the current illegal immigrants pay their fines and the temporary workers complete their terms, and they both show that they've learned English, they can get citizenship ... but only if all millions and millions of them return to their home countries first and get in line behind the applicants there? Didn't the President himself say that sending them all home is unworkable? So what does he really think is going to happen when those temporary workers' complete their terms? They're going to do the same thing everybody else who overstays their work visas do ... forge new paperwork and/or join the illegal economy.

No, it's one long laundry list of ideas whose only virtue is that they're so dumb and so impossible to get through Congress that we can keep talking about them ... for however long it takes to distract at least some of the public from the Plame affair indictments, from the Pentagon bribery scandal, from warrantless wiretapping, and from the NSA call records and Internet traffic scandals. D'uh. What, you thought he actually was talking about immigration?