Friday Reads

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Good Morning!

So, I am trying to get with it again.  Seems like it’s always something.  Grades to get in.  Issues with my elderly father.  Daughters so busy that I seemed to have slipped their minds.  Doctor’s appointments. I am going to try to take this weekend to catch up with reality.  I should also make a point of going out and enjoying my home city which is one of the great places of this country.

Speaking of reality, there is so much weirdness around the issue of immigration these days that I thought I’d post on it.  I live in what can only be described as the melting pot of all the melting pots in the country.  It is what makes us unique in the world.  We’ve got a unique cuisine, culture, and music because we just soaked it all in from every one else and put it out there to grow.  But, there’s a lot of people that are scared of that kind of thing.  Just smell that Gumbo!  Listen to that Jazz!  Embrace the dancers of a second line!  None of that would exist without the blending of Africans, Caribbeans, Americans, and all kinds of Europeans!

In the land of tabloid terrors, immigrants loom large. Flick through the pages or online comments of some of the racier newspapers, and you’ll see immigrants being accused of stealing jobs or, if not that, of being workshy and “scrounging benefits”.

Such views may be at the extreme end of the spectrum, but they do seem to reflect a degree of public ambivalence, and even hostility, towards immigrants in a number of OECD countries. Anecdotal evidence is not hard to find. A columnist from The Economist reported this encounter between a British legislator and one of his constituents, Phil: “‘I’m not a racist,’ says Phil, an unemployed resident of the tough Greenwich estate in Ipswich. ‘But we’ve got to do something about them.’”

Surveys offer further evidence: For example, a 2011 study in five European countries and the United States found that at least 40% of respondents in each country regarded immigration as “more of a problem than an opportunity”. More than half the respondents in each country also agreed with the proposition that immigrants were a burden on social services. This sense that immigrants are living off the state appears to be widespread. But is it true?

New research from the OECD indicates that it’s not. In general across OECD countries, the amount that immigrants pay to the state in the form of taxes is more or less balanced by what they get back in benefits. Even where immigrants do have an impact on the public purse – a “fiscal impact” – it amounts to more than 0.5% of GDP in only ten OECD countries, and in those it’s more likely to be positive than negative. In sum, says the report, when it comes to their fiscal impact, “immigrants are pretty much like the rest of the population”.

The extent to which this finding holds true across OECD countries is striking, although there are naturally some variations. Where these exist, they largely reflect the nature of the immigrants who arrive in each country. For example, countries like Australia and New Zealand rely heavily on selective entry, and so attract a lot of relatively young and well-educated immigrants. Other countries, such as in northern Europe, have higher levels of humanitarian immigration, such as refugees and asylum-seekers.

That said, there’s been a general push in many countries in recent years to attract better educated immigrants, in part because of the economic value of their skills but also because such policies attract less public resistance. For example, a survey in the United Kingdom, where resistance to immigration is relatively high, reported that 64% of respondents wanted to reduce immigration of low-skilled workers but only 32% wanted fewer high-skilled immigrants. Indeed, one objection that’s regularly raised to lower-skilled immigrants is the fear that they will live off state benefits.

But, here again, the OECD report offers some perhaps surprising insights. It indicates that low-skilled migrants – like migrants in general – are neither a major drain nor gain on the public purse. Indeed, low-skilled immigrants are less likely to have a negative impact than equivalent locals.

So what connects homophobia, Marco Rubio and US immigration Policy?  Basically, the connection is outright discrimination for any GLBT who wants to be an American.  Rubio has threatened to leave negotiations on immigration if any GBLT rights are included.  He also says it should be legal to fire any one for their sexual orientation.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a co-author and key proponent of the Senate immigration bill, said he will revoke his support if an amendment is added that allows gay Americans to petition for same-sex spouses living abroad to secure a green card.

“If this bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I’m done,” Rubio said Thursday during an interview on the Andrea Tantaros Show. “I’m off it, and I’ve said that repeatedly. I don’t think that’s going to happen and it shouldn’t happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is.”

The amendment, introduced by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, would grant green cards to foreign partners of gay Americans. Leahy originally introduced the measure during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the bill, but he withdrew it under pressure from Republican lawmakers who said it would reduce the chance of the bill passing.

Why does he think that firing any one for sexual orientation is also on target?

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is touted as a top GOP presidential prospect in 2016, thinks it should be legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation.

ThinkProgress spoke with the Florida Senator at the opening luncheon of the annual Faith and Freedom Forum on Thursday and asked him about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill to make discrimination against LGBT individuals illegal across the country.

Though Rubio bristles at the notion of being called a “bigot,” he showed no willingness to help protect LGBT workers from discrimination. “I’m not for any special protections based on orientation,” Rubio told ThinkProgress.

KEYES: The Senate this summer is going to be taking up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which makes it illegal to fire someone for being gay. Do you know if you’ll be supporting that?

RUBIO: I haven’t read the legislation. By and large I think all Americans should be protected but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation.

KEYES: What about on race or gender?

RUBIO: Well that’s established law.

KEYES: But not for sexual orientation?

Watch the video at the link for his astoundingly bigoted answer.

The US Congress has just been told that Syria has used chemical weapons on its rebels.  What does this mean for the US and for our allies?courtyard new orleans

The Obama administration, concluding that the troops of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in his country’s civil war, has decided to begin supplying the rebels for the first time with small arms and ammunition, according to American officials.

The officials held out the possibility that the assistance, coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency, could include antitank weapons, but they said that for now supplying the antiaircraft weapons that rebel commanders have said they sorely need is not under consideration.

Supplying weapons to the rebels has been a long-sought goal of advocates of a more aggressive American response to the Syrian civil war. A proposal made last year by David H. Petraeus, then the director of the C.I.A., and backed by the State Department and the Pentagon to supply weapons was rejected by the White House because of President Obama’s deep reluctance to be drawn into another war in the Middle East.

But even with the decision to supply lethal aid, the Obama administration remains deeply divided about whether to take more forceful action to try to quell the fighting, which has killed more than 90,000 people over more than two years. Many in the American government believe that the military balance has tilted so far against the rebels in recent months that American shipments of arms to select groups may be too little, too late.

Some senior State Department officials have been pushing for a more aggressive military response, including airstrikes to hit the primary landing strips that they said the Assad government uses to launch the chemical weapons attacks, ferry troops around the country and receive shipments of arms from Iran.

But White House officials remain wary, and on Thursday Benjamin J. Rhodes, one of Mr. Obama’s top foreign policy advisers, all but ruled out the imposition of a no-fly zone and indicated that no decision had been made on other military actions.

Mr. Obama declared last August that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line” that would prompt a more resolute American response.

cafe du monde vintageSo what does the latest Supreme Court Decision on free speech mean?  Oddly enough, it means no protests in their front yard!

The Supreme Court has come up with a new regulation banning demonstrations on its grounds.

The rule approved Thursday comes two days after a broader anti-demonstration law was declared unconstitutional.

The new rule bans activities such as picketing, speech-making, marching or vigils. It says “casual use” by visitors or tourists is not banned.

That may be a way of addressing the concern posed by a federal judge who threw out the law barring processions and expressive banners on the Supreme Court grounds.

The judge said the law was so broad that it could criminalize preschool students parading on their first field trip to the high court.

The president of the Rutherford Institute, which challenged the law on a protester’s behalf, calls the new rule “repugnant” to the Constitution.

What on earth ?

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a new regulation barring most demonstrations on the plaza in front of the courthouse.

The regulation did not significantly alter the court’s longstanding restrictions on protests on its plaza. It appeared, rather, to be a reaction to a decision issued Tuesday by a federal judge, which narrowed the applicability of a 1949 federal law barring “processions or assemblages” or the display of “a flag, banner or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization or movement” in the Supreme Court building or on its grounds.

The law was challenged by Harold Hodge Jr., a student from Maryland who was arrested in 2011 on the Supreme Court plaza for wearing a large sign protesting police mistreatment of blacks and Hispanics.

Lawyers representing the Supreme Court’s marshal told the judge hearing Mr. Hodge’s case that the law was needed to allow “unimpeded ingress and egress of visitors to the court” and to preserve “the appearance of the court as a body not swayed by external influence.”

But Judge Beryl A. Howell of Federal District Court in Washington ruled for Mr. Hodge. “The absolute prohibition on expressive activity in the statute is unreasonable, substantially overbroad and irreconcilable with the First Amendment,” she wrote, adding that the law was “unconstitutional and void as applied to the Supreme Court plaza.”

The Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of the law in 1983, in United States v. Grace, saying it could not be applied to demonstrations on the public sidewalks around the court.

On the grand plaza in front of the courthouse, however, Supreme Court police have been known to order visitors to remove buttons making political statements.

The regulation issued Thursday, which the court said was “approved by the chief justice of the United States,” requires visitors to “maintain suitable order and decorum within the Supreme Court building and grounds.” It bars demonstrations, which it defines as “picketing, speech making, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers.”

So, that is my offering this morning.  I’m headed to the doctor but will be around later!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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32 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. RalphB says:

    Ummm Cafe Du Monde, Beignets, Now I’m hungry,

  2. Fannie says:

    Luv me some Nawlin’s city life………..foodie stuff, jazz, and all the people there that make for the good life. I’d luv to be shopping at the farmers market there too.

  3. don’t these people ever learn .I mean sending weapon the rebel factions in Syria remember when RR gave weapons the rebel factions afganastanian to fight a proxy war against the soviet’s in affect creating the Taliban.

    • by the way it seems the factions of the Taliban. & Al-Qaeda are mixed in the rebels of Syria. so we would be sending arms to the very people who we are fighting in afganastanian .

      • oh and one other tid bit remember the reason when we went into Iraq .& country the did not attack us or and of our allies & WMDs the never existed. . look what they are saying now sound familiar? I was really on board with BO staying out of the Syrian civil war. I was hoping he was smart enough to learn from history & for a short time it seemed he was.

        • Pilgrim says:

          but he has always been rather susceptible to being buffeted about by the prevailing winds of opinion.

          I’m presently reading “Dispensable Nation,” wherein author Vali Nasr describes how, for example, Obama allowed himself to be pushed into Afghanistan escalation ala Iraq. Also interesting in that book is how he and his white house people nursed resentments against Richard Holbrooke and did everything in their power to sideline him (and his boss Hillary Clinton) in rather juvenile fits of pique. Those worthies soldiered on and did their best, doing what they could, in spite of the difficulties erected in their path. They were grown-ups.

  4. ANonOMouse says:

    Good post Dak. I Love NO, what a fine example of the melting pot. Every large city I’ve ever visited prospers from the cultural blending.

    As for Rubio, teh gay scares the poop out of him. FYI, I know many gay people who’ve been fired for no other reason than they didn’t “HIDE” their sexual orientation well enough, or deep enough or decided to quit hiding it at all. Rubio needs a good glittering.

    • Mouse, that story about “hiding” their orientation…if you have been watching Mad Men there is a blog that reviews the show and this recent post is very interesting in that respect: Mad Style: Favors | Tom & Lorenzo

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Thanks for that link JJ, it was spot on.

        In 1968, few men or women would have willfully admitted to being gay because we knew the consequences . There would have been an emotional, professional, social, economic, backlash that young L/G’s of today can’t even imagine.

        OMG this quote about sums it up:

        “In 1968, homosexuality was a recognized mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. A gay man in 1968 could not only be fired, he could be jailed, institutionalized, subjected to electro-shock therapy and even chemically castrated. The idea that any man in 1968 would pretend to be gay is akin to the idea of someone pretending to be a Jew in Weimar Germany.”

        I recently reconnected with a friend from HS. I haven’t talked to her in decades. She actually said to me that she knew I was gay in HS and that she wished I would have talked to her about it. Really? In the early 60′s had I talked about being a lesbian to anyone, I would have been put into a Psych ward. My second response to the notion of talking about being homosexual with another teenage girl in the 1960′s was “Brghahahahahahahahahahahaha”

        Then she said that when I got married she wondered “WTF” I was thinking. The answer was simple, I was thinking that I had to survive by conforming to the demands of society or end up being totally isolated, disowned and rejected by everyone I ever loved or ever knew. As it turned out, in the 70′s after 10 years in a miserable marriage I divorced and came out, and guess what? I was disowned, I was rejected, but I wasn’t isolated. I found many, many, many, many people like myself in the gay bars and coffee shops and restaurants, that were tucked away discretely, just out of sight, in my uptight southern hometown . It took most of my family and many of my old friends another 20-30 years to decide that they could actually be in the same room with me without catching “teh gay”. :-)

        Again thanks for that link JJ. I’ll be forwarding it on to friends.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Allen Ginsburg spent years in psychoanalysis trying to “cure” himself, but that was in the 1950s.

          I’m not disagreeing with you about the laws and attitudes–at least in some parts of the country, but many men in the late 1960′s did pretend to be gay in order to get out of going to Vietnam. I knew some personally. A well-known example is Jimi Hendrix. It was relatively easy by 1968 to find a doctor who would write you a letter saying you were gay. Stonewall was in 1969. The gay rights movement was growing before that. I was certainly aware of it.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Also in 1968, there was a great deal of disagreement, not only about whether homosexuality was a psychological disorder, but also whether the DSM was even a good diagnostic tool–some psychiatrists even argued that mental illness per se did not exist.

            A revision of the DSM I was released in 1968 that toned down a lot of the descriptions. A consensus was clearly growing that homosexuality was a normal variation of human behavior.

            The late 1960s were a time of truly dramatic social change, and certainly young people like me were opposed to discrimination against gays.

            Note that in the late 1960s it was still against the law for heterosexuals who were not married to cohabit, but many couples were doing so by then. Still, here in the Boston area, many landlords refused to allow it. I even recall a well know instance of an unmarried couple being arrested for living together!

            Thank goodness, times have changed!

          • ANonOMouse says:

            Hi BB!!! I could be wrong but I don’t think many men down here in Bumfuckerville South pretended to be gay to get out of Vietnam. It would have been more acceptable (here) to have taken the road north to Canada. Or to have done what the greasy Ted Nugent did, which was poop and pee on himself for a week, without changing clothes, before his draft board visit.

            The gay rights movement was basically underground in the 60′s. Stonewall gave the movement momentum, but the AIDS epidemic and the refusal of our government to commit to research concerning transmission and prevention became the real impetus. Lawrence V. Texas (2003) was another big shot in the arm for the movement because until that decision most of the States South of the Mason-Dixon and a few in the midwest had strict anti-sodomy laws that were used to put L/G’s in jail for anything that even remotely resembled public displays of affection. My partner and I got threatened with arrest by a cop in the mid 80′s for kissing in the parking lot of a movie theater, and it wasn’t even a passionate kiss. :-) (We’ve become very bold, now we kiss wherever we damned well feel like it) In the 70′s-80′s and cops would strut around gay bars like the gestapo, practically daring people to kiss. I had a number of friends and acquaintances who spent the night in jail for “improper displays of affection in public”, most amounted to nothing more than “making out”.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Yes, I understand that. I was just trying to point out that 1968 wasn’t the dark ages; it was a time of questioning and change in the culture. I’m not denying your experience, just talking about mine. I was living in Cambridge in those days and gay rights were openly discussed as part of the other civil rights movements. It wasn’t underground. I knew openly gay people then, as friends and co-workers. Obviously, change happens more quickly in large cities and more liberal parts of the country.

            I hope I didn’t offend you. I was just reminiscing about my own experiences, not trying to argue with you. I guess I should be grateful that I got out of the midwest when I was 19.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            “I hope I didn’t offend you”. Absolutely not!!! It’s been amazing to me how different areas of the country have evolved differently on LGBT rights, but the evolution was to slow, no matter where we lived.

            One of my close friends, (now deceased) was a bartender in the Village and she was involved in the Stonewall riots. She was stripped down by NYPD who were “verifying” her gender. Her recollections of how L/G’s in NY were treated by the NYPD, and how she was treated personally, wasn’t much different than how Southern PD’s were harassing L/G’s during the same era. It was not pretty!!

            Y’all have a great weekend, Peace!!!!

          • bostonboomer says:

            Oh, yes. I agree with you. Way too slow! Frankly, the NYPD was always one of the worst examples of abuses of citizens–and they still are!

          • Mouse, I am so glad that you responded to that article. I would like to read more of your experiences and your friends experiences…especially with so many of these anti-LGBT rights issues still so much in the news…John Oliver Mocks Anti-Gay Laws And The Most Flamboyant Anti-Gay Protestors You Will Ever See | Mediaite

  5. RalphB says:

    Charles Pierce: The Rest Of The Story In Louisiana

    Tell me you didn’t know this was coming.

    A petrochemical plant in Geismar, Louisiana that exploded on Thursday, killing one person and injuring 73, has not been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the past two decades, according to an analysis by ThinkProgress. The Williams Olefins plant, which produces about 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene, according to the company’s website, does not have any recorded inspections for plants producing either substance in OSHA’s database since 1993.

    Great post as usual by both Charlie and Dak!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I expected that. I’ve posted a couple of links about that over the past couple of days. It’s the TX story all over again.

  6. I’ve never been to New Orleans, my only connection to the city is some relatives that originally came from New Orleans….The Brocato side of the family.

    And my only real vision of the city is through the eyes of Ignatius J Reilly, in John Kennedy Toole’s book Confederacy of Dunces which honestly, is more vivid than any photograph or video could ever be.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Bob Cesca breaks down all the evidence that Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden either don’t know what they are talking about or simply can’t be trusted on the NSA story.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Greenwald is still claiming the NSA has “direct access” to servers of tech companies even though his own paper has walked that claim back.

      From The Guardian in an article on requests by the tech co’s to be permitted to spell out how many National Security Letters it has responded to:

      Google, Microsoft and Twitter publish “transparency reports” detailing how many government requests they receive for user data in various countries, but those for the US do not include Fisa requests or other NSL demands. Facebook has not so far published a transparency report.

      Microsoft said: “Our recent report went as far as we legally could and the government should take action to allow companies to provide additional transparency.”

      Microsoft and Twitter joined in as the PR fallout of the revelations by the Guardian over the past week about the extent of National Security Agency (NSA) access to user data continued to grow. Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, reiterated the company’s protests that it had not allowed the NSA “direct or indirect” access to its servers and had not allowed the NSA to install equipment on its premises.

      In a letter from Google to the US attorney general, Eric Holder, also published on its corporate blog, the company once again said allegations that the US government had “unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue”. But, the letter added, the fact that Google was not allowed to disclose requests made for information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) “fuel[s] that speculation”.

      • bostonboomer says:

        More:

        Drummond wrote in the letter to Holder: “We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our transparency report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including Fisa disclosures – in terms of both the number we receive and their scope.

        “Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.”

      • RalphB says:

        Massive ego isn’t going to let him admit he is wrong. His own arguments in that column amount to “look at the slide” and nothing else but cheap words.

  8. I put the cartoon post up, just FYI…some good ones in there.