Belaboring the Obvious

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bush Is Just Doing a Little Border Brush Clearing...

... and all those who previously thought him a genius now believe they are smarter than he is. Monday night's immigration speech seems to have brought out the unhappy souls in Bush's base.

Now, none of them actually said they were unhappy because Bush didn't announce that National Guard troops would be machine-gunning Mexican border crossers on sight, but the despair at his proposals suggests that Bush's base was expecting something, uh, um, more, uh, yeah, macho.

Maybe this all comes back to Bush's claim that he's a Texan through and through, and his young devotees thought him a _traditional_ Texan, one who knows a wetback when he sees one and what to do with such riffraff.

And, now, they're sure they're smarter than George. Smarter than Rove, even. Even funnier, they don't like that situation all that much. The more rabid and less intelligent among Bush's base know something's wrong with their prior evaluation of him, but they can't quite deconstruct the contradictions in their previous support of their DEAR LEADER.

Maybe, it's because none of them has yet found an image of Bush on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Or, maybe, they haven't been thinking this business through because they're just reacting and running scared. Maybe, this issue of immigration has never been about what they wanted, but, rather, about how they and their idiot friends in the Minutemen could be used for the purposes of Bush's real base--the haves and the have mores. Nothing new in that.

At the heart of the matter is not the question of amnesty, as so many have claimed. The real concerns of the right are racial. The House's latest insanity enshrined in legislation requires illegal immigrants to face felony charges for entering the country illegally. Few people are noting this, but if one is a felon, one can never, in practical terms, be considered for citizenship, and the likelihood of later obtaining even a green card is extremely low if one has been previously convicted of a felony, especially of one in this country.

This legislation, on one level, is intended to work much like the drug laws, which disproportionately affect people of color. Combine those laws with existing laws in many states stripping felons of their right to vote and there's a ready-made means of keeping brown people politically powerless. Whiteness prevails through righteous indignation. The current House immigration bill would accomplish much the same thing by denying any future opportunity to vote by any of those now in this country illegally for simply economic reasons.

However, lurking beneath the bonehead right's pasty-faced fear of being outbred is profit motive. There may be no overt attempt to follow through on such while the House immigration bill is still in contention, but there are subtle signs that money is on some people's minds. Many people were very concerned with the "detention centers" for which Halliburton received an open-ended contract worth as much as $385 million. That contract was let a number of months ago, and very quietly. Now, we find that Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-koTex), the sponsor of the House immigration bill, had been in negotiations with the White House on the bill as far back as last September, and that he's miffed that Bush has reneged on the felony requirement that Bush once backed.

Now, follow me here--it's not a difficult train of thought. There's a reason in making felons of illegal Mexican immigrants to deny them any future possibility of becoming citizens and, therefore, voters in this country, but... no one makes any money off that. In fact, business loses plenty of low-cost labor, which ordinarily helps it to depress wages generally. Is it possible that what is ultimately desired is to incarcerate illegals in these special detention centers, hold them for a year or two of their felony sentences and then deport them, and use them as low-cost labor during incarceration, all at federal taxpayer expense? It might seem outlandish, but for the comments of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Californication) in April when he was asked about not having the necessary workers around if the U.S. deports them all: "...the millions of young men who are prisoners throughout our country can pick the fruit and vegetables. I say, let the prisoners pick the fruits..."

Typically, prisoners in prison work programs make a buck an hour or less, while the prison system charges business minimum wage for their labor, taking the difference for prison operation. Lessee how this might spin out...

  • A company specializing in privatized military construction and services gets a federal contract to build detention centers around the country for ill-defined purposes (spokespeople vaguely mumble about "immigration emergencies"). This has come to pass.
  • A few months later, House right-wingers are determined to pass a law making illegal immigration a felony. Felons would go to jail... or perhaps, to federal "detention centers," and be deported after incarceration. This is in process.
  • Batshit-insane representative from California makes non-sensical statement about using prisoners for farm labor and everyone ignores him. Does he let cat out of bag?
  • House version of bill prevails through skullduggery in conference. Bush complains mightily, threatens veto, then signs bill. (An oh-so-shopworn routine, by now.)
  • First detention centers hastily completed in and around the agricultural areas of California and the Southwest. Halliburton receives contract to run detention centers, subcontracts inside guards and staff from Corrections Corporation of America, subcontracts perimeter and work gang guards from Blackwater.
  • National Guard ordered to begin sweeps through cities looking for illegal aliens in cooperation with INS and Border Patrol.
  • Federal courts are swamped with felony immigration cases, so the law is amended to put cases in front of quickly assigned INS administrative law judges. Minimum sentencing requirements apply.
  • First large corporate farms in California make contracts with Halliburton to supply prison labor for farm work at $5.15 per hour, several dollars less per hour than through the United Farmworkers. Prisoners begin to appear in fields around Fresno.
  • Costs soar in immigrant detention program. Congress passes supplemental off-budget funding to keep program alive.

Far-fetched? Maybe. A lot of things that seemed damned near impossible before the Bushies came to power have, indeed, come to pass. Parchman Farm, meet the CEO President and his sidekick, the KBR Kid.


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