Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Newspaper Column

So more of my windbagging was published the other day in my local newspaper:
Let’s talk immigration. I’ll be over the top, I promise. 
After listening to President Obama’s minimalist plan, and to the predictable claims of atramentous tyranny and calls for impeachment and intimations of revolution by the usual Foxolimbeckian screamers, I did me a little research, learned a few things of which I hadn’t been aware. I recommend it. (ow.ly/EPVaR) There’s context to consider, and, just maybe, knees to be unjerked. 
So here’s the thing: In the bipartisan US budget, the amount of money allocated to deporting illegals means that “only” four hundred thousand a year can get the boot. (Unlike Bush, Obama has deported to the max.) So, within those legislated restraints, what the president decided to do is what normal people do with limited funds: prioritize. We’ll concentrate, he declared, on getting rid of criminals, and what some might call takers not makers. Hard-working, tax-paying people who’ve been here at least five years, AND who have American-born kids, move to the bottom of the leave-it list. Nothing more: no “amnesty,” no path to citizenship, no access to the Affordable Care Act, no floodgates pried open. Other than who said it, you’d think the self-proclaimed party of family values and fiscal responsibility would applaud such thoughtful use of scarce funds. In a world that made sense, they would. 
Immediately, Michele “FEMA reeducation camps” Bachmann and those who ilk with her, including some local letter writers, claimed the president is granting citizenship and health care. “To the ramparts!” she cries. Choreographed outrage rises like the seas around the Solomon Islands, Fox “news” is awash in fulmination about the shredded Constitution. (If Obama shredded the Constitution, he picked up scraps to do it, because Reagan and Bush and other presidents before him acted in the same way.) 
Immigration politics are a microcosm of the decline in polity that’s been gripping our country for a long time. Here we are, flooded with problems that need fixing. Filling the airwaves, objurgation sells. Solutions are hard; too hard, evidently, for our deliberately divided country. Of the serious threats we face, immigration is near the bottom of the list; in fact, looking at the names of kids who are valedictorians, scholarship winners, genii of science fairs, it may be our only hope for securing the future. But considering the unlawful kind, of which none other than exploiters of cheap labor is in favor, is illustrative. 
We have, so it’s said, around twelve million illegal immigrants. At the rate of deportation for which Congress has been willing to pay, it’ll take more than thirty years to move them all out. Beneath the hot rhetoric there’s a frigorific dearth of workable suggestions; and no apparent interest in paying the costs of finding, detaining, confirming, and delivering us of those who don’t belong. Which follows a familiar pattern: the reactionary response to any proposed solution to any given problem is to reject it with scorn and contempt if, as with all big problems, spending or regulation is involved. And then, as surely as O’Reilly follows Hannity, to spend the rest of the time blaring blame and shrieking sedition.

After his speech President Obama acknowledged his was but a small step and implored Congress, after years of frippery, to act comprehensively. With so much more to be gained nowadays from incessant inflammation, it’s hard to imagine they will. And, yes, Fox “news,” with its furious fracking of the middle ground, demeaning its demographic with dismissive and derisive discourse, remains the most toxic force in political play. Anyone notice how its Ebola freakery stopped with the election, that there was barest mention of the doctor who came to Nebraska and died? And how about the latest of eight Benghazi reports, two years in the making, led by Republican Congressfolk, that debunked every claim heard nonstop on Fox “news” for years? Far as I know, they gave it thirty seconds. And then Lindsey Graham, modeling what’s become acceptable behavior for the faithful, called it “full of crap.”

Instead of making immigration an argument about whether the president’s plan is impeachably criminal or merely tyrannical, how ‘bout we turn off Fox “news” and try to recall how it was that Americans actually used to confront problems?
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