Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tap That, Um, Wire

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

President Bush would have to answer yes.

Ben has provided a link-ful analysis of the illegal wiretap situation here. I won't reiterate what he said, so I'll just trust that you've gone there, read his comments, clicked on the links, etc. already.

If I recall correctly, wasn't it illegal surveillance that brought down Nixon?

Come to think of it, Bush and Nixon have a lot in common. Both had groundbreaking political strategists, both aimed their campaigns at those fearful of societal change, and both have a severe problem with paranoia. Bush's, though, is a bit more understandable - as Kurt Cobain once said, "It's not paranoia if they're really after you."

I have a habit of ascribing good intentions to people unless I am certain that the alternative is true. This may get me into trouble someday, but until it does, I'm going to keep doing it. So I assume that Bush is only doing what he thinks is necessary to protect Americans from terrorists. That doesn't make his actions good, just not evil.

Let's put everything we know together. Bush wants to protect Americans from terrorist attacks. Not only that, but Bush believes that it is his divine calling to do so. Bush has a habit of ignoring evidence that contradicts his theories while emphasizing evidence that fits his theories (see: Iraq and al-Qaeda). Finally, Bush values secrecy. The warrantless wiretaps are an outgrowth of these perspective. Any qualms about the execution of such powers would have been immediately dismissed - a President's gotta do what a President's gotta do, he might say. The Administration simply would not have done the necessary work to find the 72-hour provision Ben mentioned, and even if it had, Bush would not have liked revealing his plans to anyone besides the Congressional leaders and members of his inner circle.

Take the Prize Cases mentioned by the Daily Kos guy. If you read it as if you were looking for justification for Bush's assertion of unfettered power, you could find it. The narrow application of these cases is not apparent to the Bush circle, who would place the Civil War and the War on Terror in the same category if it fit their needs.

So Bush has a predilection for unintentional intellectual dishonesty. But here's the final conclusion we can draw from the wiretap debacle: Bush simply does not understand the reasons behind the checks on executive power. He doesn't understand why such checks would even be there. He trusts himself to limit the use of tactics like warrantless wiretaps and indefinite detentions to terrorism suspects. And so many Americans - the kind that say things like "if you're not a terrorist you have nothing to fear" - trust him too.

It is not this President that I don't trust. It is all Presidents. It is all people who hold a position of power. And were I to hold such a position, I would not trust myself. We cannot entrust anyone - even the most seemingly trustworthy people - with even the hint of the ability to exercise unchecked power. That is why we have the Constitution. That is why we have our laws regulating surveillance and detention. And because President Bush does not understand this simple fact, that is why he is not fit to serve as President.

One positive out of this, though: Sens. Specter and Leahy have promised to ask Samuel Alito about this issue when he comes up for confirmation in January. At least some of that confirmation battle might be about important stuff.

Monday, December 19, 2005


This is my 200th post. You can all applaud now.

Well, that was a good old-fashioned butt-whoopin'. Break out the brooms, 'Boys - you got swept. And thanks to some help from our friends in Pittsburgh and Chicago, we're now in the lead for the last wild-card spot. Wow.

Also, a stupid congressional resolution expressing support for Christmas - like it needs any - inspired some pretty awesome responses. I like this poem from John Dingell (D-MI), who I think is one of the original members of the House of Representatives:

"Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House,
no bills were passed 'bout which Fox News could grouse.
Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,
so vacations in St. Barts soon should be near.
Katrina kids were all nestled snug in motel beds,
while visions of school and home danced in their heads.
In Iraq, our soldiers need supplies and a plan,
and nuclear weapons are being built in Iran.
Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell.
Americans feared we were in a fast track to ... well.
Wait, we need a distraction, something divisive and wily,
a fabrication straight from the mouth of O'Reilly.
We will pretend Christmas is under attack,
hold a vote to save it, then pat ourselves on the back.
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger,
Wake up Congress, they're in no danger.
This time of year, we see Christmas everywhere we go,
From churches to homes to schools and, yes, even Costco.
What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy
when this is the season to unite us with joy.
At Christmastime, we're taught to unite.
We don't need a made-up reason to fight.
So on O'Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter and those right-wing blogs.
You should sit back and relax, have a few egg nogs.
'Tis the holiday season; enjoy it a pinch.
With all our real problems, do we really need another Grinch?
So to my friends and my colleagues, I say with delight,
a Merry Christmas to all, and to Bill O'Reilly, happy holidays.
Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas."

What Meter? - The Poetry of John Dingell will be released in March.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

More Free-Floating Hostility

A few quickies about recent events, then I'll zip up and head out...

Patriot Act: wow. Wow. I completely did not expect the Senate to engage in a game of brinksmanship with the White House. I'm on the Senate's side on this one - we need to ensure that our civil liberties won't be violated while these powers are still in their relative infancy, else we're just inviting abuse.

Speaking of abuse, the President's wiretaps: This is just scary. Not in this specific instance, per se, since I'm relatively certain it was only used on people one could reasonably suspect of terrorism. It may have even helped foil a plot against the Brooklyn Bridge. The problem is this: how much do we trust this administration, and subsequent administrations, with the power to listen in on any international conversation they want without significant judicial and Congressional oversight? Shouldn't we define and limit the warrantless wiretap now before it starts being used as a political tool?

Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) gets the "dumb quote of the day" and a SUYM Award nomination for this quote (bottom of page): "I want my security first. I'll deal with all the details after that." Details like, say, a justice system. Lott does raise the interesting question: how much are we willing to sacrifice to remain secure? Discuss.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mixed Nuts

Four of the many reasons Fark.com is an awesome site:

Apparently, my future is going to be determined by some wacko in Edmonton. Free speech laws north of the border aren't quite up to the American standard, so "willfully promoting hatred" is a crime in Canada. The punishment: six-to-ten years as president of Iran.

AP reports that some New Yorker has a nice quaint statue of Santa outside their mansion ought to quell fears by certain psychopaths that Christmas is under attack. Sure, he's blood-splattered and holding a severed head, but don't you just love the Christmas spirit?

You know what I want for lunch? $240 flavored paper.

And let's hear it for Florida woman Liz Book, who is seeking to strike a blow for women everywhere who want to go topless. She gives us our Quote of the Month: "I'm fighting to decriminalize our breasts because no man, city or state should see our breasts as a means of revenue." Personally, I'm all for breast decriminalization.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Most Infamous Of The Sodomites

I apologize for throwing up so many posts on the immigration issue in such a short amount of time. It's just one of those things that gets me really annoyed.

I did a little web research today, and I discovered that Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites, is the grandson of an Italian immigrant, as his own biography proudly points out. I also gleaned the following quote from the Wikipedia article on him:

"America is wrestling with an identity crisis. Part of it is a result of what I call the 'cult of multiculturalism.' The idea that there is nothing—nothing—of value in Western civilization, that we have nothing to offer the world, that we have nothing to offer as a viable society, that everything we have is bad and ugly.... If we are truly in a clash of civilizations... which I happen to believe, then it is important for us to understand who we are. What does it mean to be part of Western civilization? Are there inherent values that are worth anyone's allegiance?"

In 1892, poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich had this to say about immigrants, including Tancredo's grandfather:

"In street and alley what strange tongues are these
Accents of menace alien to our air
Voices that once the Tower of Babel knew!
O Liberty, white Goddess! Is it well
To leave the gates unguarded?"

Aldrich wasn't alone, and neither is Tancredo. I honestly can't understand how someone whose grandfather suffered the attacks wrought by Aldrich and his ilk can turn around and lob the same invective at today's immigrants. Tancredo even goes so far as to suggest that legal immigration be limited to a mere 30,000 per year!

I understand the fears of people like Tancredo and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs that an influx of legal immigrants will create labor competition that will drive wages down. However, a lot of American companies already hire illegal immigrants for the sole reason that with illegal employees, they can break labor laws with impunity (since the workers would not raise a fuss for fear of being deported). Giving all these employees legal status would force companies to obey labor laws, which removes the incentive to hire them over other employees. This means that Americans and immigrants alike can now fill the jobs that were once solely the domain of the illegal immigrant. May the most effective laborers get the job, whether they're born in Greensboro or Guadalajara. And an effective minimum wage (not the joke we currently have) will fix the falling wage problem. I might further remind the American laborer that his/her facility with the English language will serve as an asset in a labor market where there is no inherent advantage to hiring immigrants.

Besides, immigrants have just as much of a right to make a life for themselves as native-born Americans. We should make it the objective of our society to make that possible for both groups of people.

I leave you with a thought: the author Oscar Handlin once wrote, "Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history." America has always been strongest when it has been willing to accept contributions from both new and old sources. We haven't always lived up to that. It's about time we do so.

More Cup Fun

It's reassuring to know that we're not the only ones complaining about our World Cup draw. The Italians, always master complainers, have hatched a conspiracy theory that would make Chris Carter proud.

As for the U.S., we can only blame Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites.

Hugs With Nuclear Arms

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse in the Middle East, Benjamin Netanyahu has to go and open his big mouth. He commented that Israel should pre-emptively strike Iran if they insist on continuing with their suspected nuclear weapons program.

In fairness, it's tough to blame Netanyahu. If a leader of a country says that your country should be wiped off the map (or at least picked up and moved), and there's reason to believe that that country has the means by which to do so, you can be excused for being a little defensive. Still, the Israelis need to be a little more disciplined in their public discussions. Netanyahu, forgetting the simple rule "never get into a member-measuring contest with a dick," took Ahmadinejad's bait. Ahmadinejad has to know that he couldn't actually attack Israel even if he had the means since his country would be converted into an atomic parking lot should he try, and he's not the kind of crazed maniac that would actually accept that outcome. As such, he's playing the bully, trying to provoke Israel into making a mistake that would turn world opinion even more against them. The correct move for Israel is to lay low and let Ahmadinejad make a fool out of himself.

With respect to nukes, at least Iran is letting the US get a piece of the action if we want it. One of Iran's political analysts says that the Iranian government is making the offer because they know we won't accept. Personally, I think we should, just to screw with them. Imagine the confusion in Tehran when we accept...

(Also, U.S. money is like a drug. If we get them addicted, we can convince them to lose some of the more unsavory aspects of their regime. "Sure, you can support anti-Israel groups, but we can take our investment somewhere else." "Oh... um... well, in that case..." Machiavellian, yes, but effective.)

Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites, must be mentioned here. That is all.

Monday, December 12, 2005


A week ago I wrote a column regarding my views on sodomy (and by sodomy I mean anti-immigration movements... read the column if you're confused). Leah raised a comment on the Sensenbrenner bill that is coming to a House vote this week. She correctly notes that the bill is only concerned with border security and contains no real immigration reform. The Post wrote an article about the bill today.

Two points to make here:

1) I got in a fight with Sensenbrenner's son in third grade. Sadly, it had nothing to do with immigration.

2) In the article, Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth scoffs at any attempt to actually solve the immigration problem, saying that "this is an invasion to be stopped." Quite frankly, the biggest "invasion" his Scottsdale/Tempe district has to worry about involves retirees. The most generous estimates of illegal immigration put the number of illegal immigrants at roughly 300,000 a year - hardly an invasion of epic scale. I think I've heard that "invasion" rhetoric before... hmmm, where was it... oh, yes, I think the Klan used it... and some neo-Nazi groups here and there... maybe some of those anti-Irish or anti-Chinese groups back in the early 20th century... that's some good company you've made for yourself, buddy.

Read this.

I'll add this: his position is not only ridiculed by RNC Chair Ken Mehlman but by Mesa's Jeff Flake, who has a habit of making Barry Goldwater look like Karl Marx.

Also: what the hell does Sensenbrenner have to worry about? Are there a lot of illegal Canadian immigrants crossing Lake Superior into Wisconsin these days? And Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites, is from Colorado. That's nowhere near a border. And it's not like illegal immigrants are moving into Colorado 6th (median income: $73,393, and a whopping 5.8% Latino) at a breakneck pace.

Friday, December 09, 2005

World Cup Predictions Nobody Asked For

Indulge me here - I just got done watching the World Cup draw, and I feel like commenting on the groups, who gets to the second round, who wins the whole enchilada, and how screwed the U.S. really is.

Group A: Germany, Ecuador, Poland, Costa Rica
The home team gets a relatively easy draw. Germany should make it, along with a sneaky-good Costa Rica squad.

Group B: England, Paraguay, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago
England should have no problems with this group, as long as Sven Goran-Eriksson doesn't forget which country he's coaching. Paraguay will probably also make it.

Group C: Argentina, Ivory Coast, Netherlands, Serbia and Montenegro
Wow. Talk about a Group of Death. You can't bet against Netherlands or Argentina, but the Ivoirians could sneak up on an unsuspecting side. Either way, this draw is DFL bait for poor Serbia.

Group D: Mexico, Angola, Portugal, Iran
Mexico gets the easiest draw ever. Portugal's coach won the Cup with Brazil last year, and I think they'll get past the "old-colony-exacting-revenge" trap that cost France in '02.

Group E: Italy, Ghana, Czech Republic, United States of America
If C is the "Group of Death," Group E is the "Group of Barely Clinging to Life," containing teams that were seeded 8th, 9th, and 11th overall. The US isn't sneaking up on anyone after their '02 performance, but Italy has a habit of laying eggs in international competitions, so I'll go with the Yanks and the Czechs.

Group F: Brazil, Australia, Croatia, Japan
Two things you never bet against in international soccer: Brazil, and Australia coach Guus Hiddink.

Group G: France, Togo, Switzerland, South Korea
France and Switzerland survived European qualifying's Group of Death together. I don't see Togo putting up the fight Israel and Ireland did, and South Korea probably can't keep their '02 form away from home.

Group H: Spain, Tunisia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia
Can we eliminate all these teams, give C and E an extra spot each, and call it done? Ukraine looked good in qualifying, and Saudi Arabia, coming off a DFL in '02, could do the same thing the US did that year and surprise someone. Either way, you know the group sucks when someone is picking Saudi Arabia to get out of it.

Finals: There's no one on Brazil's side of the bracket that could even compete with them. I think England's got the best team on the other side. So Brazil and England meet in the finals, with Brazil - of course - prevailing.

Mississippi Burning

Radley Balko of The Agitator posts on a somewhat disturbing case of a man sentenced to death because he shot a policeman who broke down his door in the middle of the night on a search warrant that didn't apply to that house. The shooter claims that the policeman never identified himself and never knocked, meaning that it's absolutely reasonable that the shooter was fearing for his life (and the life of his young daughter). There's still some holes in Balko's reasoning - for example, why did the shooter shoot first and ask questions later, and why would a cop burst through a doorway unarmed without identifying himself - but I'm inclined to agree with him for the most part. If he's right, it's a travesty that someone is about to die because a police officer was stupid. (The original post on the case is a little ways down.)

Interestingly, at the bottom of the Dec. 7 posts, Balko outlines a whole litany of "no-knock raids" in Baltimore. This careless activity by police is apparently more prevalent than we would like to believe. Furthermore, I don't see what is gained by not knocking on the door first. If it means you have to look a little harder to find the drugs, fine.

Yet another life claimed by the war on drugs. How much longer are we going to keep up this silliness?

Banditos Theorem Proof #2616

A student was suspended from a Kansas City, KS public school. For what offense, you might ask? Fighting? Nope. Disrespecting a teacher? No. Speaking Spanish in the halls? Yup.

I must admit, between cracking down on bilingualism and endorsing unintelligent design, Kansas public schools are trying everything in their power to not give kids an education.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Bitch Is Back

So Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is starting to realize that he's not going to be able to get rid of Israel completely. Now he just wants it moved. He says the Holocaust probably didn't happen (instead, I suppose those six million Jews were kidnapped by aliens), but if it did, Europe should make amends by giving up parts of Germany and Austria to the Jewish state.

(Actually, I kinda like this idea. If every country that ever committed a mass murder of Jews had to give up land to make amends, the Jewish state would encompass half of the Middle East, a good chunk of North Africa, a few enclaves in Argentina and Brazil, and most of Europe. Be careful what you wish for, Mahmoud...)

It's too bad I don't know Ahmadinejad's address. He wouldn't just get a "Shut Up, You Moron" award - he'd get a friggin' statue. And I'd get a death sentence from the Ayatollah... which is my dream come true.

In other news:

Congress has reacted to budget deficits the only way it knows how: by cutting taxes. Something should have been done with taxes, but I don't think "cutting" was quite what I had in mind. Someone should tell the geniuses who came up with this idea that you can't trim a deficit by cutting revenue. (Also, I don't see why people in the middle class and working class would be opposed to tax hikes on the rich. Do they honestly think that the extreme well-being of the super-rich is important to their well-being? Give me a break.)

Say what you will about the quixotic, often dictatorial Hugo Chavez. At least he does what he can to help the poor - even if they're our poor. Kudos to Rep. Jose Serrano for brokering the deal. Hey, if you can't get help from your own government, ask somebody else's. Our Congress is too busy cutting taxes.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Rant Y'all Don't Care About

Pardon me while I rant about soccer for a while.

Why in the ever-loving hell were the U.S. and the Netherlands left out of the top seeds for the World Cup groups in favor of Spain and Mexico? Is there some sort of Spanish-speaking Mafia out there controlling the draw? The other seeds I can understand. Brazil, Argentina, England... yeah. Italy, France, Germany... okay, I'll deal with it, even though the French aren't that good. Mexico? Might I remind you that the U.S. finished ahead of Mexico in qualifying? And won the Gold Cup? And beat the Mexicans in the second round of the '02 Cup? And Spain might be good, but can they possibly be better than a Dutch team that's ranked, like, #3 in the world? And did everyone completely forget about the Czechs, who were #1 up until recently?

But that doesn't bother me as much as the group that the U.S. is lumped into for the draw. You'd think we'd be in with all the second-tier teams, seeing as how we're ranked #8 in the world. No, we're in with Saudi Arabia and Iran. Jesus Archibald Christ. Yes, I know Iran beat us in the '98 Cup. I don't care. We're the only contender in our pot. Which means we get the obnoxiously difficult group that will require us beating Brazil or something to get to the second round. We beat Portugal in '02 so it's possible... but still.

Okay, that's done now.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Shut Up, You Moron Award Open Thread

I wanted to turn the "Shut Up, You Moron" Award into a monthly award given to the person whose actions or words are either a) utterly inexplicable or b) serve to perpetuate a commonly held false perception. Since the latter is Scott McClellan's job, I won't give him an award. Also, the obvious characters - Bush, Cheney - are out, since you're bound to screw up once a month if you get that much media exposure.

I want your comments on who should receive the award. Nominees will be posted here.

- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), for claiming that cable TV violence is influencing jihadists

- Tim Wildmon and William Donohue, for their boycotts against retailers who don't advertise holiday sales with "Merry Christmas"

Bowl Predictions Nobody Asked For

Since my beloved Redskins are all but out of a playoff spot, I'll turn my attention to the college football arena. Lots of bowl games coming up - 28 of them to be exact. Since I know next to nothing about more than half of these teams, these predictions will probably prove to be crap. Also, I have a topical post after this one, so read it too. And comment. Or I'll send Chuck Amato after you.

New Orleans (really, the Lafayette Bowl): Southern Miss vs. Arkansas State.
Arkansas State? Who invited them? I'm sorry, but Vandy could go 6-5 in the Sun Belt. Southern Miss should have no problems.

GMAC: UTEP vs. Toledo.
Toledo's Bruce Gradkowski is one heck of a quarterback. So is UTEP's Jordan Palmer (brother of Carson). But Toledo actually has a running game.

Las Vegas: BYU vs. California.
Cal's been disappointing this year, and BYU has surprised everyone in the Mountain West. Also, the BYU players will be less likely to be distracted by the gambling. Look for the Cougs to pull the upset.

Poinsettia: Colorado State vs. Navy
Poinsettia Bowl? Did you run out of plants? What's next, the Geranium Bowl? Umm... Navy. Sounds good to me.

Fort Worth: Kansas vs. Houston
Since I can't pick them both to lose, I'll pick Kansas.

Hawaii: Nevada vs. Central Florida
Nevada surprised Fresno State, but UCF surprised the hell out of everybody this year.

Motor City: Memphis vs. Akron
Can we please put a moratorium on bowls held in cold-weather parts of the country? I'll take Memphis, just because the thought of Akron winning anything makes me laugh uncontrollably.

Champs Sports: Clemson vs. Colorado
Clemson beat Florida State. Colorado lost by 67 to Texas. Any questions?

Insight: Arizona State vs. Rutgers
Poor Rutgers. You earn your first bowl bid in 20-odd years, and what do you get? A game in Arizona against an Arizona State team that led both USC and LSU in the fourth quarter. Whee.

MPC Computers: Boise State vs. Boston College
Boise State always wins the Blue Field Bowl. That's because it's their home field.

Alamo: Michigan vs. Nebraska
Michigan has been better down the stretch than the 'Huskers, and will win the Sounds Like It Should Be A National Championship Bowl.

Emerald: Georgia Tech vs. Utah
My Utes have been horribly inconsistent this year. Fortunately, Georgia Tech is always inconsistent. I'll pick Utah - they don't have to fly as far.

Holiday: Oregon vs. Oklahoma
No one seemed to notice Oregon, but they very quietly made their way into a #5 ranking at the end of the regular season.

Music City: Minnesota vs. Virginia
Remember when Laurence Maroney was a Heisman contender? Remember why? Neither do I. Virginia should win.

Sun: Northwestern vs. UCLA
Two teams with a lot of offense and no defense. Northwestern can keep up with UCLA's high-powered attack so I'll pick them. But really, the only safe bet here is the "over" bet.

Independence: South Carolina vs. Missouri
The Ol' Ball Coach has done a heck of a job in Columbia this year, so I can't bet against SC here.

Peach: Miami vs. LSU
LSU has had to deal with enough Hurricanes this year.

Meineke: South Florida vs. NC State
These teams are not gonna pay a lot for their mufflers. This game would be a tossup in any other bowl - but since it's being played in Charlotte, NCSU gets the nod.

Liberty: Tulsa vs. Fresno State
Easy pickings for a Fresno State team that ran with USC... but that's what they said about Nevada, too.

Houston: TCU vs. Iowa State
Hmm... a game in Texas with a TCU team that was a second-week loss to SMU away from really screwing up the BCS picture? Sorry, 'Clones.

Cotton: Texas Tech vs. Alabama
I don't care how good 'Bama's defense is. Their offense will still have to put up 28 to beat Texas Tech, and I don't think it's happening.

Outback: Iowa vs. Florida
It really isn't fair to let Florida play in Tampa.

Gator: Louisville vs. Virginia Tech
This oughta be a fun game, but I think VT can rebound from that awful Florida State debacle and pull it out.

Capital One: Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Auburn has been playing really well this year. They should be able to handle Wisconsin.

Fiesta: Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
I haven't been able to figure out Ohio State this year. There must be something there that makes the BCS people think they'd be better than LSU or Oregon, but until I see it, I'm going with Notre Dame.

Sugar: West Virginia vs. Georgia
Bad luck for the Mountaineers. This would have been a close game at a neutral site such as New Orleans, but since the game got moved to Atlanta, Georgia has a definite advantage. WVU should make it interesting, though.

Orange: Florida State vs. Penn State
Two coaching institutions face off in a big bowl game. Too bad Penn State is the only team that deserves to be there.

Rose: Southern California vs. Texas
We've been waiting for this game since September. USC has stumbled more than Texas this season, but the Trojans have the advantage of playing a home game. The 'Horns struggled in their last hostile environment (College Station). Still, I think Texas has the offensive firepower to keep up with USC - as long as Vince Young brings his 'A' game.

Update: Some congresspeople have way too much time on their hands. A congressional investigation of college football? Is Congress going to pass a resolution declaring Auburn the national champion from last year? I don't get it...

Sodomites Not Welcome

I haven't blogged in a while, so I thought I'd come back with a bang, as it were, and take on a controversial topic: sodomy.

There's way too much sodomy going on in America right now, from the Arizona-Mexico border to my home town of Herndon, VA. People are sodomizing illegal immigrants with no fear of retribution. And senators such as Jon Kyl and John Cornyn are committing sodomy on the Senate floor.

Hold on a second. Now that I've written that paragraph, I realize that the goyish definition of "sodomy" has become generally accepted in the American lexicon. As a result, I probably have a lot of very confused readers who are convinced that I'm talking about sexual habits. So let's get our minds out of the gutter, and allow me to explain (and here I'm paraphrasing from a sermon my rabbi gave a couple of weeks ago)...

Remember the Biblical story of the angels who visit Lot in Sodom, and get met by a less-than-welcoming party while in Lot's tent. The city of Sdom (Sodom, to those of us reading the English version), as it turns out, was one of the richest places around. They wanted to keep their riches to themselves, so they weren't very welcoming to any strangers. They would relieve any rich visitors of their wealth, and they would harass and abuse any poor stranger who looked to share in the wealth of the city. Like a kindergartener who refuses to let his classmates play with his Legos, the people of Sodom were selfish and inhospitable.

So how is this "sodomy" being practiced today? Picture us as the rich city of the plain, and the poor stranger as the Spanish-speaking guy from the south side of the Rio Grande. Capiche?

(And so we come across the real point of this post: illegal immigration.)

We've all whined about how illegal immigrants are lawbreakers, or how they're taking our jobs, or whatever. The truth is that they are coming here to make a better life for themselves, just like our ancestors who immigrated here. America is a wealthier place than their homes, and they want to share in our wealth. Security concerns are important, but there are ways to ensure that everyone who wants to come here to make a life for themselves can do so.

But I see a more disturbing trend materializing. I see people who want to deny health care to illegal immigrants, who want to forbid governments from offering Spanish-language services, who want to keep Latino day laborers from getting work. I see people camped out along the imaginary line in the Sonoran Desert ready to shoot anyone who comes across. I see others protesting a community center for day laborers in Herndon. I see people in North Carolina who want to deny a college education to children who were educated in our school system simply because their parents came here illegally. And there are people, like Kyl and Cornyn, who want to automatically deport anyone who has come here illegally.

These are people who react with too much fear and not enough compassion. They blame the impoverished for their situation. They are the ones harassing the stranger, telling them not to come back, that our wealth is not available to them, that they are not welcome here. They are the sodomites.

Illegal immigration is a problem, but those who are serious about policy realize that the immigration system itself needs to be reformed. They advocate guest-worker programs (like President Bush), opportunities for amnesty (like Kyl's Arizona colleague John McCain), or making the immigration system as easy as filling out a piece of paper and crossing a border (me).

Personally, I think that most people would rather immigrate legally than illegally - and those who propose the preceding programs understand that. Currently, the process of getting a visa and becoming documented represents an insurmountable obstacle to those would-be immigrants of little means who wish to come here and work. Apparently, you can't get one without a specific job offer. Guest-worker programs create an annoying bureaucracy and don't make the guest workers feel welcome. McCain and Kennedy's general amnesty still creates a monetary barrier.

I, personally, feel that simple is best, so here is my proposal. a) For the next year, everyone who immigrated here, whether illegally or not, receives a green card (after a short background check to make sure they're not a terrorist). No questions asked. b) Everyone who wishes to cross the border to work must be able to do so for free, with no proof of a job offer, again with no questions asked (with appropriate terrorism screening). The visa will last for six months, and will become permanent if the immigrant finds a job or becomes a student in that time. The immigrant may reapply after the initial six months.

My plan has several advantages. First, it's ridiculously simple. It eliminates several unnecessary layers of immigration law and bureaucracy that don't really need to be there, saving us time and money. Also, it makes the process easy to follow for immigrants and INS officials alike. Second, it removes the incentive for honest people to immigrate illegally. Since those who are looking for work are welcome to come across the border for free and find it, we can now be relatively certain that those who try to sneak across the border are probably doing so for reasons that are less than above-board. Border patrollers would not have to deal with illegals who are simply looking for work and could concentrate on stopping smugglers and terrorists. Third, it would make immigrants feel more welcome in America. These immigrants would then be more likely to participate fully in American society. Fourth, it would give immigrants leverage against their employers when they are being exploited.

Also, we should all continue to refer to the espousal of anti-immigrant policies as "sodomy." It's easier to say than "xenophobia" and it's a lot more Biblically appropriate than that other definition.

There. That oughta ruffle some feathers.