So much is going on this week that even the national media can't fall into their usual stenographic lockstep; they were running all over the place playing Musical Leads. CNN's Neocon maven Erin Burnett was still stuck on desperado fugitive (as opposed to heroic whistleblower) Edward Snowden -- adding nothing about why his own government is hunting him down like an animal. MSNBC pivoted to the Supreme Court's trashing of the Voting Rights Act, with only snippets of Trayvon Martin trial coverage. My local CBS affiliate highlighted the impending funeral of James Gandolfini, combined with a rogue tsunami that hit the Jersey shore.
Meanwhile, the impending security state tsunami known as Immigration Reform was pretty much buried beneath the detritus. Whenever you hear the word Reform, just remember that it is a synonym for creative destruction. So in case you were thinking that immigration reform was going to be some sort of humanitarian outpouring of good will to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, you'd better think again. The actual title of the impending Senate bill should be "How Do We Hate Hispanics? Let Us Count the Ways."
We will likely be spending billions of our taxpayer dollars to construct a full-fledged militarized zone at the southern border, complete with a 700-mile long double fence, a fleet of drones, and one border patrol agent stationed every thousand yards. The drones and the cops will probably outnumber the population. And to further attract the rabid Tea Party xenophobes of the House, the vast majority of senators also agreed that workers awaiting membership in the Exceptional American Citizens Club will have their FICA and Medicare contributions confiscated for at least a decade, and that everybody will now be subject to random search and seizure as far as 100 miles north of the border. Immigrants not fluent in English will be excluded from the long slog to citizenship. (An excellent piece by Chris Hayes provides the little-noticed grim details.)
Erick Garcia (no relation) an undocumented immigrant active in the Presente.Org movement, sent me an email this week to voice his disgust at the punitive nature of the proposed immigration legislation:
Every time a cop car passes by me in Arizona, my heart races. I've seen too many of my friends and family living in fear, not knowing for certain if they'll come home to the people they love each day or face deportation. Nobody knows we need to fix our immigration system more than me.
But as a DREAMer, I'm terrified about what's happening in Congress.... This is what would need to happen before immigrants are given any hope of legalization: we'd need far more agents at the border than troops in Afghanistan, we'd spend billions of dollars on radar surveillance similar to what's used in Iraq, and we'd double the cost of unnecessary border enforcement to $30 billion. This, even though border crossings are at or below zero and experts say our border is more secure than ever.So with bipartisan friends like the Senate, who needs racist enemies like the Ku Klux Kourt? (credit, Greg Palast) Remember, the Senate immigration vote is only an opening salvo. The rabid House no doubt will make it even more sadistically sweet. Private prisons that charge rent to the undocumented is probably on their agenda, if they do go so far as to allow a vote. The only question remaining is why anybody in their right mind would even want to sneak over into the Land of the Drones and the Home of the Craven. You can work, but you'll get no benefit from the taxes you pay. And thanks to the Supreme Beings in their depressing black robes, you may not be allowed to vote even when you do finally get certified as a genu-wine side of prime American beef.
The White House pronounces itself perfectly okay with the latest draconian immigration amendments. And why wouldn't it? Militarization creep has been creeping everywhere you look. New York City stops and frisks minority people so many times that the number of stops has actually outnumbered the entire minority male population of the Big Apple. Muslims, too, are currently suing the city in federal court over the NYPD surveillance program.
Most of us, for the time being, are "merely" having our phone records and internet searches swept up and stored. But how much longer before it gets physical and we, too, become too cowed to even walk on the streets? Of course, if you frequent airports, you already know all about the TSA grope and the body rape-scan. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street), of the Seven or Eight Immigration Gangstas, did once suggest similar pat-downs at all subway stations, but his proposal went nowhere. Maybe next year.
The only people not creeped out by the chipping away of our civil rights are the politicians and the pundits and the secrecy industrial complex which stands to get very, very rich in order to keep us "safe." And quiet. And afraid.
The planet is warming up, yet the hearts and minds of the political leadership couldn't possibly get any colder.