Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Movement of the People

When throngs of people take over highways and bridges and  tunnels in one unified national mobilization, there is reason to both celebrate and hope.

In one fell swoop, the media meme of civic apathy has been destroyed. Those "disengaged" people who didn't turn out to vote in the mid-terms a few weeks ago are far from apathetic. They simply realized that representative democracy is no democracy at all. They finally took to the streets to protest a police killing that has become the symbol of the punishing oligarchic state. People took to the streets, took back the public spaces, took back democracy.... if only for one brief shining moment, until the Powers That Be inevitably lose their limited patience and declare that it's time for a national conversation about healing. And the now-restrained police batons will inevitably be raised again, once the official paternalistic magnanimity wears off.

It's not for nothing that the kangaroo court trial of Michael Brown, resulting in the acquittal no-bill of the cross-examination-exempt Ferguson police officer who shot him, was orchestrated for Thanksgiving week. Officials no doubt hoped that the restive crowds, after proving the absolute need for a police state through some state-instigated TV prime-time rioting, would quickly disperse, turning their attention to family gatherings and Black Friday orgies of consumerism. And then there's the lousy weather to keep protesters indoors and out of sight. Remember, it was during the same late autumn season three years ago that the Occupy camps were disbanded in a coordinated national police mobilization.

The actual plot didn't exactly go according to script this time around. After the first night of looting and burning and CNN infotainers sanctimoniously complaining about marijuana and F-bombs in the air, the crowds turned peaceful. The crowds displayed some good old fashioned solidarity.

The plutocrats and the politicians might have all the money and the power, but we have the bodies and the voices. The more that people of disparate backgrounds can all get together and refuse to be cowed by the divide and conquer tactics used since time immemorial by the ruling class to maintain control, the harder it becomes for them to ignore us. 

This is more than a spontaneous national movement against police brutality. It's part of a vibrant global movement against the all-encompassing brutality of neoliberalism (aka the free market fundamentalist god.) A mass epiphany, a collective realization that the deck is stacked against the vast majority of people, is breaking out all over.

Over the past couple of nights, ordinary people have managed to shut down interstates, block bridges, disrupt commerce, and render the police state mute. The acceleration of capital has been slowed down. People have finally had enough, and are just saying No.

It's not so much the goals that are important, but the movement itself. People are refusing to sit still any more. If there is anything to be thankful for this week, it's for the courage of protesters who have rediscovered their own power and taken their lives back into their own hands.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Plot Thickens

Far from embracing the lame duck role that the pundits are trying to foist on him, Barack Obama apparently plans to goose-step his way through the rest of his term. Not only is he resuming the Iraq/Middle Eastern war that he was elected to stop, he is continuing in full secrecy control-freak Nixon mode, both stonewalling the release of the CIA torture report and stealthily ordering continuation of the Afghanistan war. He announced his military intentions through a controlled leak to the New York Times (see previous post) rather than in a televised address to the American people.

 His decision to wage more war came on the same Friday evening that he finally had enough of his Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel. Obama courageously announced Hagel's firing this morning in a nationally televised White House ceremony, with Hagel forced to stand there and listen to his damning with faint presidential praise.

Reading between the lines, it seems that Hagel was unwilling to get with the bellicose program dictated by the generals who are obviously running this show. (If anybody is an "emperor," it's the unelected Pentagon brass.) As one of those rare government officials who actually did fight in a war, (Vietnam) Hagel was originally chosen by Obama for the cabinet post to 1) display that as a Republican, he fit neatly into Obama's self-serving Team of Rivals post-partisan mythos; and 2) he was down with Obama's "don't do stupid shit" foreign policy.

Forget that. Obama is out of the Neocon closet now, and Hagel is under the proverbial bus. And Obama still hasn't come clean with the American people about his radically shifting foreign policy -- evolving from anti-stupid shit to some really foul and profitable heavy duty weaponized shit. (see previous post.)

And the plot thickens even more. Not only will the war continue, but there will be a reprise of one particularly sadistic aspect of it. Newly-installed Afghan Puppet President Ashraf Ghani has "quietly" lifted the ban on those horrific American nighttime raids of Afghan homes:
Night raids were banned for the most part in 2013 by President Hamid Karzai. Their resumption is likely to be controversial among Afghans, for whom any intrusion into private homes is considered offensive. Mindful of the bad name that night raids have, the American military has renamed them “night operations.”
American military officials have long viewed night raids as the most important tactic in their fight against Taliban insurgents, because they can catch the militant group’s leaders where they are most vulnerable. For years, the Americans ignored Mr. Karzai’s demands that the raids stop.
Even the corrupt Karzai knew that the killing of entire families as they slept in their beds in the course of these raids was a tad on the offensive side.

Meanwhile, Team Obama bitches that it's had to "struggle" to keep ahead of such global crises as Ebola, the deaths of Afghan families asleep in their beds, and the self-inflicted damage caused by their leaving a treasure trove of American weapons and hardware behind in Iraq for seizure by yet another American imperialism-spawned extremist group. 

Will they ever learn? Apparently not, when continued profits depend upon willful ignorance. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

An Epic Downhill Flow


Looks like Gaffeable Joe Biden not only retroactively got out in front of his skis, he tripped himself up royally by slaloming down the side of an active volcano. Circa 2010:
"...We're going to be totally out of there (Afghanistan), come hell or high water, by 2014."
It seems he got his weather forecast totally wrong, and that hell can indeed flood over -- much like that renegade Hawaiian volcano, surprising everybody by spewing out its lava on homes that were actually built atop an underwater volcano. The vice president is having one hell of a rough week. First, he gets heckled in Ukraine, just when his cocaine-compromised kid had inveigled his way right into the heart of the CIA-sponsored Kiev kleptocracy.

 And now this blow: The New York Times has to make the Nice Vice look even worse by spilling the magma that Boss Obama has sneakily, behind Joe's very back, extended the longest war in American history into at least 2015. Joe shouldn't feel too badly, though. Obama didn't bother telling the American people about it either. Better to divulge the awful truth in one of those weekend news dumps, when the partisans are either reveling in his faux immigration reform or denouncing him as a Napoleonic despot. The lava can be projectile, it can flow briskly, or it can creep stealthily along. But whatever the consistency, it always flows downhill, and it's always a hot toxic mess.

The Times got the "scoop" (another retro word, which now, more often than not, is defined as an orchestrated self-serving leak from the very highest levels of the White House blow-hole) The gratuitous italics are simply my own thought bubbles:
President Obama decided in recent weeks to authorize a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally (publicly announced) planned, a move that ensures American troops (will continue to be wounded and killed) have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year. (until the last precious mineral and dollar is extracted for the benefit of the American plutocracy.)
Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and (any convenient scapegoat of his choosing) other militant groups threatening American (imperialism) troops or the Afghan (puppet) government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision. The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to (make untold and unaccounted-for megabank-laundered billions for weapons manufacturers and their subsidiaries in Congress) support Afghan troops on combat missions.
On Friday evening, (prime news dump time) a senior administration official (too cowardly to identify him or herself) insisted (hilariously) that American forces would not carry out regular patrols or conduct offensive missions against the Taliban next year. 
“We will no longer target (Afghan women and children and farmers going about their daily routines) belligerents solely because they are members of the (human race) Taliban,” the official said. “To the extent that (occupied populations) Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to Al Qaeda, however, we will (kill them) take appropriate measures to keep (oil companies, mercenaries and all manner of profiteers) Americans safe.” 
In effect, Mr. Obama’s decision largely extends much of the (global) current American military role (into perpetuity) for another year. Mr. Obama and his aides were forced to make a decision because the 13-year old mission, Operation Enduring Freedom, is set to end on Dec. 31. (and the enduring freedom of unfettered capitalism to pillage and plunder at will shall not be thwarted, especially since the last thing Princess of Peace-in-Waiting Hillary needs is for Afghanistan to get embroiled in an ISIS-like hijacking of all the expensive weaponry still sitting in that Graveyard of Empires, necessitating another invasion)
So, do you think the Republicans will threaten to impeach, or even worse, continue to call Obama an "emperor" for unilaterally continuing the Afghanistan war?  Do you think the Democrats will bleat out even one feeble peep of protest? Not a chance of a snowball, or flood, from hell.

When it comes to the endless war waged for the sole benefit of the tax-exempt and service-exempt plutocrats and all their spawn, bipartisanship rules. Congressional gridlock becomes but a bad dream, because it was always just an invention of the ruling class and their media sycophants in the first place.

The powers that be are still trying to fool us with their trickle-down economics malarkey, when it's become all too painfully obvious that in the words of that other despot of yore, Louis XIV: "Apres-moi, le deluge."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pimping Out Lady Liberty

Shorter President Obama: (his exact words are in italics)
 The responsible (right wing dog whistle-speak for non-deadbeat employment-age wage slaves) tired, poor, and huddled masses can stay for a short while as long as they've lived and worked here for at least five years, have procreated on our shores, can show that they are loyal Homelandians, and have the financial wherewithal to pay a slew of fines and back taxes with no benefits to themselves but tons of new profits for their greedy employers. Obama the Merciful and Ming the Merciless are neatly rolled into one passive-aggressive package:
 Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable, especially those who may be dangerous. (Translation: they shall all be considered dangerous felons until they can prove otherwise -- immigrant justice will be the exact opposite of native-born justice -- or should I say justice reserved for the wealthy native-born?)
This protection bestowed upon them can cancelled at any time. It's a balanced approach. We need to stop them embarrassing me at my speeches and  chaining themselves to the fence of my estate, and at the same time manipulate them into thinking they've achieved a permanent victory.
Also too this proclamation fulfills the needs of my plutocratic backers, since I will allow the enhanced importation of foreign entrepreneurs and investors with lots of money, as well as stealing cheap foreign techies, trained at another's expense, to reward my good donor buddies at Microsoft, Facebook and wherever else in Silicon Valley there are more profits to be made and wages to be suppressed. It's who we are as Americans. It's the far-right thing to do.... I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay (no time limits or draconian registration process here!) and contribute to our economy, as so many business (the oligarchic Business Round Table and US Chamber of Commerce) leaders proposed."
But those thousands of kids fleeing Central American violence historically caused by CIA coups and American imperialism? There will be an immediate surge of weaponized  militarization at the borders to stop them in their tracks and send them home to their fates. Because they didn't work hard and show responsibility like the CIA torturers and Wall Street banksters that I will continuously and permanently protect, each and every day. And that goes for undocumented mothers who had the poor taste to wait until Nov. 21 to give birth. My order does not grant protection to irresponsible pregnant ladies! No room at the inn for you! All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. 
Oh, and I almost forgot. Within five minutes of my sickly sweet speech, this is the modest image of me that you'll be seeing in your email in-box:

President Obama is taking action. The other side (pretends that they) want nothing more than to tear this program down! So gimme your tired, your poor, your huddled masses. But most important of all, just Gimme, Gimme, Gimme! "Fight back" by donating $15, $35, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 to President Obama's Magical Legacy-Burnishing Machine. Donations will be automatically charged to your credit card, and can be cancelled at any time, just like Obama's temporary selective amnesty order.
That email from Obamorganizing For Action was just one of many that flowed in from the usual Democratic veal pen outfits -- including the ubiquitous MoveOn -- asking for cash and my signature on a thank-you note to the president. So, it was very refreshing to get this one from Presente.Org's Arturo Carmona, urging me to thank the activists who (along with the donor class) essentially forced the Deporter-in-Chief's hand into granting some measure of relief to at least some of the immigrants. Latinos stayed away from the polls and heckled him everywhere he went and did not buy into the lesser evilism excuse that has enabled a pathetic Democratic Party to continue existing as a weak foil to the GOP. Therefore, they won a major battle in the continuing class war. Just think what could be accomplished if other activists joined forces with them nationwide, as are the Chicago labor and teacher unionists.
Writes Carmona, 
"Last night, I was overwhelmed with a bittersweet feeling. While executive action protects four million from deportations and ends the devastating Secure Communities program, seven million people remain left out. But I draw strength from the determination and coraz√≥n of our gente — victories like this are hard-fought and will protect millions, but we can't turn our backs on those who are left out. Now, more than ever, we need to renew our commitment to fight for the remaining seven million.
Remember what led to this moment: undocumented youth risking arrest and deportation each time they occupied offices of members of Congress; parents who participated in direct actions and sit-ins in front of the White House; countless immigrant activists, and organizations like Presente, supported by thousands of members like you, all joined forces to hold President Obama and the Democrats accountable.
We're going to keep on fighting until all immigrants receive the dignity and justice they deserve. At a time when cynicism and cronyism plagues D.C. politics, a vibrant immigrant-led movement has prevailed — often in the face of terrifying circumstances. Immigrants stood up to xenophobic Republicans and challenged President Obama to stop countless deportations.

After nearly a decade of fighting, last night marks a big step forward, but the fight is far from over. There are seven million people still left out, including parents of DACA recipients. Next week, as families across the country are sitting down to dinner on Thanksgiving, people may find themselves sitting next to their parents or siblings who've been left out of this executive order. Not to mention the fact that more money is being shifted to further militarize the border which will only increase violence there. But this milestone, achieved through the hands of immigrants and our allies, means that our power is growing and we will not stop until our whole community is together.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nixon's Jeremiad

I'm talking about Missouri Jeremiah ("Jay"), not the late unlamented Tricky Dick -- although both men seem to be cut from the same paranoid Republican cloth coat. Governor Nixon has essentially just issued an Angry Black People Alert in anticipation of riots after an expected no-bill grand jury finding in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Just like his Old Testament namesake, Jeremiah Nixon obviously fancies himself a major prophet, what with his premature Declaration of Emergency. It must be hard out there for political vehicles of divine revelation.

With the Ferguson community still traumatized, the National Guard is mobilized and the police force is newly weaponized. What could possibly go wrong?

Nixon, actually a putative Democrat, is nevertheless in full Clint Eastwood mode as well as Biblical mode. He looks at the peaceful streets of Ferguson the same way Dirty Harry looked at that empty chair at the Republican National Convention, and sneers at the protesters in his brain: "Go ahead. Make my day."

But to soften up his plan of pointing automatic weapons at American citizens exercising their Constitutional rights, Jeremiah simpered that he only wants to “support law enforcement’s efforts to maintain peace and protect those exercising their right to free speech.”

Or, if you prefer your Orwellian Jeremiads translated into official proclamation-speak:

WHEREAS, the United States Department of Justice and St. Louis County authorities could soon announce the findings of their independent criminal investigations; and
WHEREAS, regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal investigations, there is the possibility of expanded unrest; and
WHEREAS, the State of Missouri will be prepared to appropriately respond to any reaction to these announcements; and
WHEREAS, our citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and protest and the State of Missouri is committed to protecting those rights; and
WHEREAS, our citizens and businesses must be protected from violence and damage; and
WHEREAS, an invocation of the provisions of Sections 44.010 through 44.130, RSMo, is appropriate to ensure the safety and welfare of our citizens.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JEREMIAH W. (JAY) NIXON, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Laws of the State of Missouri, including Sections 44.010 through 44.130, RSMo, do hereby declare a State of Emergency exists in the State of Missouri.

Because how can we possibly have peaceful free speech without those angelic choirs of sound blasters to enhance it? And all those eyes smarting and burning from the tear gas have to be soothed somehow, so it might as well be with violent therapeutic blasts from military water cannons. Or, as the original Jeremiah prophesied,"A scorching wind from the barren heights in the desert blows toward my people, but not to winnow or cleanse."

Jeremiah Nixon doesn't specify from whom, besides the military and the militarized, the peaceful protesters need protection. I assume it must be the Black Panthers crossing over from some invisible Maginot line from the past, circa-mid 1960s . Or maybe it's the socialist ghosts of Haymarket from nearby Chicago. Or the Weathermen, the Manson Family and the Palmer Raid anarchists all rolled up into one make-believe motley mob. His proclamation doesn't actually say, but the subtext of these things always involves those mysterious outside agitators, who are absolutely essential in order for any modern police state worth its salt to maintain control of its flock.

Update: Stung by widespread criticism of his doomsday prophesying, Jeremiah today blamed growing up privileged on the right side of the tracks for his white person paranoia. And since it is far too late (and he's far too important and busy) to deal with the problems of black and poor folks himself, he is appointing a special commission to explore those pesky racial issues. And he is giving them an overly generous year and a half to report back to him. That strikes me as pretty strange. If he is prophetic enough to foresee riots in the streets, and canny enough to call up the National Guard in advance, he certainly should be able to tell what's going to be in the report before they even write their first word. The New York Times is, as ever, on it.

But ever the Orwellian card, Big Jer joked, "I'm not preparing for war. I'm preparing for peace. I'm preparing for order and peace."

It kind of brings back fond memories of That Other Nixon declaring peace with honor in Vietnam even as he bombed the hell out of Cambodia and Laos.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fascism On the Homepage

It arrived draped in the Red, White and Blue Cross flag. And the New York Times, which only last week noticed that democracy had collapsed, has today taken a giant logical leap forward and observed that fascism has come to America and taken its place.

The Gray Lady only got one thing wrong in the headline "Health Law Turns Obama and Insurers Into Allies," and that is in the application of the present tense. Obama and the insurers were allies from the get-go, as they connived behind closed doors to remove the public option from the equation and the president continued to lie with impunity about this fact to the American public. Obama's faux populist modus operandi, as we all should have realized by now, is to decry "fat cats"with his smirking mouth and then grandly reward them with his corrupt actions.

Writes health beat reporter Robert Pear,
With the health insurance marketplace now open for a second year, President Obama will be depending more than ever on the insurance companies that five years ago he accused of padding profits and canceling coverage for the sick.
Those same insurers have long viewed government as an unreliable business partner that imposed taxes, fees and countless regulations and had the power to cut payment rates and cap profit margins.
But since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment.
(Stop the presses and start lobbying the Pulitzer judges!)
 The insurers in turn have provided crucial support to Mr. Obama in court battles over the health care law, including a case now before the Supreme Court challenging the federal subsidies paid to insurance companies on behalf of low- and moderate-income consumers. Last fall, a unit of one of the nation’s largest insurers, UnitedHealth Group, helped the administration repair the website after it crashed in the opening days of enrollment.
(The hand that stirs the ladle in the tainted kludge soup.)
So much money is at stake that insurers may soon be on a collision course with the Republican majority in the new Congress. Insurers, often aligned with Republicans in the past, have built their business plans around the 2010 law and will strenuously resist Republican efforts to dismantle it. Since Mr. Obama signed the law in March 2010, share prices for four of the major insurance companies — Aetna, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth — have more than doubled, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has increased about 70 percent.
(You almost feel sorry for the GOP hypocrites, agonizing between the rock of destroying ObamaCare and the hard place of relinquishing all that cash.)
In addition, the Affordable Care Act has engendered growth in the role of private insurers in Medicaid. The law expanded eligibility for Medicaid, and most of the new beneficiaries receive care from private health plans under contracts awarded by state Medicaid agencies. As a result, Medicaid enrollment is up more than eight million, or 15 percent, in the last year.
In a survey of 10 insurance companies, Joshua R. Raskin, an analyst at Barclays, reported that their revenues from the Medicare Advantage program were up about 10 percent this year. UnitedHealth Group’s Medicaid enrollment surged by nearly one million people, or 24 percent, in the last year, said Stephen J. Hemsley, the chief executive. At another large insurer, WellPoint, the expansion of Medicaid “is proving highly profitable,” Christine Arnold, a managing director of Cowen and Company, wrote in a recent report.
You may remember that WellPoint was actually the architect of the 2,000-page law. Its lobbyist, one Liz Fowler, spun through the revolving doors from the insurance cartel to dictate the terms and conditions to her apprentice, Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus. And once the bill was finally rammed through, Fowler strolled on over to the White House to help Obama craft its actual (and it turned out, abysmal) implementation. And then it was through the revolving doors again for the talented Ms.Fowler, for a stint with Johnson & Johnson. (Price-fixed drugs and medical supplies.) Jonathan Gruber of #StupidGate and comic book fame has nothing on this versatile princess of fascism. As Glenn Greenwald wrote of her, "It's difficult to find someone who embodies the sleazy, anti-democratic, corporatist revolving door that greases Washington as shamelessly and purely as Liz Fowler." 

Unless, of course, it's Barack Obama. It's still early days in his fascistic career, he's still young, and his solid gold revolving doors await him.

As I responded to Paul "Conscience of a Neoliberal" Krugman's latest shameless shilling for Democratic Party crumbs equaling "good government"  and dismissal of #StupidGate as a fake scandal -- including what he misleadingly calls "health reform,"
It's not "health reform" -- it's a piecemeal reining-in of the predatory insurance cartel. And although the premiums may be holding steady, the Affordable Care Act is anything but for many people. Deductibles and co-pays are through the roof.
Health care in America is just like the lottery. It's the luck of living in the right state and picking the right plan at the right time. You're not a patient who gets treated. You're a consumer who goes shopping. Some people will be "covered" and others will still go bankrupt when they get sick and can't afford a $5,000 annual deductible on a $20,000 income.
That "fake scandal" that Paul Krugman refers is, of course, being used for nefarious political purposes by the GOP. But the fact remains that MIT economist and ACA consultant (to the tune of $400,000)  Jonathan Gruber not only called people stupid -- he admitted that the law was made deliberately opaque. Politicians were more interested in making this delayed "reform" seem deficit-neutral than in ensuring that everybody got covered. Politics trumped the public good. And that IS a scandal, no matter which side of the neoliberal duopoly you're on.
The fact remains that least 40 million Americans remain uninsured, and will continue to needlessly sicken and die in the richest country on earth. We have the most expensive medical care in the world and still rank a shameful 51st in life expectancy.
That is the scandal.
Government will succeed when we get Single Payer.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Amnesty Sweepstakes

As many as five million lucky undocumented immigrants may be granted amnesty from deportation as early as this week by executive order of President Obama. So let the Latino community rejoice, right? The odds of winning are just slightly lower than fifty-fifty!

Well, not so fast. All those deportees-in-waiting could have their newly-issued working papers, drivers' licenses and other paraphernalia of "legality" yanked out from under them at the drop of a hat. Or, as Obama himself sensitively put it on Saturday,
There is a very simple solution to this perception that somehow I’m exercising too much executive authority: Pass a bill I can sign on this issue. Give me a bill that addresses those issues, I’ll be the first one to sign it. And metaphorically I’ll crumple up whatever executive actions we will take and toss them in the waste basket because we will now have a law that addresses these issues.
It's good to know that the president will only "metaphorically" crumple up the hopes and dreams and civil rights of the newly reprieved and throw them away the minute the Republicans signal they want to make a deal on immigration reform. His statement is bound to cheer up the 11 million people in this country "illegally" as well as the American-born children whose parents had the poor taste to be born across some border that exists only for human beings without much money in their pockets.... but not for the southbound border-crossing guns, and NAFTA-enabled, outsourced jobs and mobile factories which cross it each and every day. And not for the drugs and profits and cheap labor that flow north into the pockets of American oligarchs each and every day.

Obama's temporary granting of amnesty actually falls to the ideological right of the relief granted by Ronald Reagan to several million alien residents in 1986. As Julia Preston writes in the New York Times,
 Unlike that law, which gave permanent-resident green cards to 2.7 million immigrants, Mr. Obama’s executive actions will not provide any formal, lasting immigration status, much less a pathway to citizenship.
 The actions will, however, have a large and, White House officials hope, swift impact on the daily lives of many immigrant families, removing fears that relatives could be separated from one another by deportations. Many immigrants will also receive work permits, which will give them Social Security numbers and allow them to work legally under their own names and travel within the United States, although not abroad. In some states, they will be able to get driver’s licenses and professional certificates.
All of which the president will gladly crumple up and toss in the circular file the minute the Republicans pass a bill which would not necessarily be so generous. As a matter of fact, the previous Senate bill that died in the House was light on the humanitarianism and heavy on the militarized border and rewards to Silicon Valley in the form of cheap imported tech labor. The "pathway to citizenship" contained in that bill included a draconian ten-year waiting period for actual civil rights while still requiring foreign workers to pay income taxes. No taxation without representation would not apply.

So while my first impulse was to applaud the president for his gesture of humanity, I am now having my usual cynical second thoughts. Obama, the deporter-in-chief of more people than under any previous administration, could simply be using these millions of people as political pawns and eventual human waste product. Combined with his other recent liberal gestures --  calling for net neutrality, and the joint promise with China to curb pollution -- this immigration action could simply represent just another check on his legacy to-do list.  The object is for Barack Obama to be perceived by the Latino voters as trying to do the right thing, and for Republicans to be perceived as the only bad guys in the neoliberal duopoly.

If, however, Obama orders universal and unconditional amnesty, with no strings attached, I will be the first to stand up and applaud his political courage under fire.

But here's what I'm afraid of: His executive action will simply serve as the magnet to bring five million undocumented people out into the open and more exposed than ever. The better to catch them and jail them and deport them, my dears. 

Meanwhile, the Latino advocacy group Presente.Org is not happy with the president's piecemeal approach, because it gratuitously leaves out half the undocumented immigrants -- based solely on the fact that they don't belong to a "traditional" (read, Republican) family unit:
As President Obama considers options for an upcoming executive order on immigration policy,, the nation’s largest online Latino organizing group, strongly rejects rumored administration proposals for an executive order covering less than half of the more than 11 million undocumented Americans in the US-- and is instead pushing for relief for all undocumented immigrants.

“We want relief from an all out assault on Latino family unity-- we need more than lip service to combat the rampant racial profiling and deportations currently plaguing our communities. Anything short of relief for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in America will ensure ongoing mass-deportations and separation of Latino families,” said Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of, the nation's largest online Latino organizing group. “With the amount of hate against Latinos on display shown by Republican leaders in the House, we need President Obama to seize the opportunity and fight back against his ‘deporter in chief’ status.”
Immigration amnesty under Obama sounds a lot like the for-profit health insurance marketplace sweepstakes. A few million people will be granted relief, while millions more continue to live in fear, suffer, and even die. You'll never find out if you win it because you'll never be told what's actually in it. Everything good is either temporary or stop-gap, to be renewed annually in order to keep the fear and confusion at the absolute maximum.

Somewhere along the way, human rights turned into a lottery, and the social contract got crumpled up and tossed in the circular file.