Immigration orders: Vox just told me what to think

I did not know what to think about President Obama’s new executive order on immigration. Most of my mainstream news comes from NPR, and sadly most of what they talk about is the Capitol Hill gamesmanship. Since 50.01% of what goes on on Capitol Hill is straight-out lies from teabaggers, I wasn’t getting much actual information.

Then this video from Vox came along and laid it out rather clearly. What got my attention is the fact that eleven million people are living in the US without authorization and it’s not at all practical to kick them all out.

Let’s start with that: Deporting eleven million people is not a thing we can really do. It doesn’t matter what the teabaggers want to believe. There is nowhere for them to go! Their former home countries can’t accommodate them! We need them to work here!

Look. You can’t evict 3% of a country. Well, you can, but we’ve seen how that goes in Europe, Africa, and South Asia. Not an option unless you want to go all Full Sudan out there.

Furthermore, if you ask me how I feel about people who cut out of their former countries for food, jobs, safety, or a place to live? I’m on their side. Let me put it this way: My foreign-born grandmother didn’t have papers either.

And back to the video, a majority of unauthorized immigrants have lived here more than ten years. Home is here for them.

So starting from the reality-based assumption that jacking up deportations by an order of magnitude is off the table, the administration has no choice but to prioritize its cases. And then doesn’t it make sense to let peaceful, productive, good neighbors stay? And furthermore, if they’re going to stay, what advantage is there in forcing them to stay underground and off the radar?

No, the only reasonable thing is to allow a path to permanent legal residency for people who are already living in the United States and already making a contribution. Let’s get them integrated, employed above the table, paying taxes, receiving benefits, and acting like they belong here. Because even though they or their parents may have slid under the radar years ago, the fact is that they’re here now and nobody benefits from creating a culture of “illegals.”

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

It’s amazing the things you find when you poke around the law library on a cold, rainy Saturday in November.

I was looking for case law and other authority on the issue of “innocent until proven guilty” and found this part of the US Constitution that hardly anybody knows about!

No person shall state an Opinion about the Character or S’posed Actions of Another, but there be full Presentation of said Evidence before a Jury of said Another’s peers; nor shall one Think bad Thoughts of Another lacking Proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a Court of competent jurifdiction; nor shall any Victim make claims of same beyond applicable Statute of Limitations.

Damn. Now I have to take back everything I said about Bill Cosby. And that ex-girlfriend. And I guess I can’t call Voinovich a crook anymore since he was never charged with anything. Damn. Sorry everyone.

NPR fails again. Teabaggers gotta teabag.

Today’s Morning Edition on NPR featured an interview by Arun Rath with teabagger Tom Cole (OK-4). It’s a great example of the thing I hear again and again on NPR: lots of softball questions, casual acceptance of whatever nonsense “both sides” say, lack of followup, and a complete failure to get at actual facts. Here we go.

In the first twenty seconds, Rath repeats the teabagger line that President Obama is “bypassing Congress” with his plans on immigration reform. That’s bullshit right there. Absolutely nothing in the three and a half minute story backs up the “bypassing” accusation.

Unless by “bypassing” you mean I bypassed Congress by shoveling snow off my own sidewalk this morning, and I bypassed Congress by eating breakfast of my own choosing.

What I’m saying is that when you make an accusation like that, it’s meaningless (i.e., bullshit) without something that makes the action, well, wrong. It’s a loaded term. If NPR wants to take sides in this, great, they can go all Fox and use all the loaded words they want, but without substantiation it’s fake news.

So Rath put it right out there, asking Rep. Cole what he thinks of the administration’s assertion that the new immigration plan is within the President’s powers. “The President’s been on both sides of this issue,” Cole replied, waving around words like “inappropriate,” “unproductive,” and “unconstitutional.” Calling the President out for some perceived inconsistency, Cole went on with “It’s hard for us to understand, when were you [Obama] being disingenuous?”

Now stop right there. Cole did not answer the question. He made an assertion that Obama’s plan exceeds his powers, and when asked to substantiate that charge he switched to calling the President “inconsistent” and “disingenuous.”

Rath failed as a reporter. He simply moved on to the next question, without comment or challenge.

The question of whether Obama’s plan is legal and within his powers is an important one. I’m curious about it myself. I honestly don’t know what the legal issues are in this regard, but my point is that I still don’t know because the reporter didn’t do his job.

What’s wrong with this is that the interview leaves the question hanging out there with no actual information other than one guy’s uninformed opinion about some other guy’s alleged inconsistency on a point that may or may not be relevant.

Rath could have made the interview not useless by asking a simple followup: “I hear you saying that the President has been inconsistent in his own statements on his powers in the realm of immigration, but what I’m asking you is on what basis do you say he is exceeding his legal powers?” If Cole dodged the question again, Rath could have said, “Wait, no, you’re claiming the President is stepping over a legal line, so you must know where that line is. What is the limit of the President’s power in this regard, and how do you know that?”

I realize this is a morning news show, and NPR could only allocate three and a half minutes to the interview, but can we hold them to a higher standard than merely filling time?

Political reporting isn’t supposed to be amateur hour. This story is yet another easily found example of NPR doing C-level work and expecting an A for showing up. I call bullshit. The interview was a waste of time at best, a disingenuous propaganda vehicle at worst.


This server is now running WordPress 4.0.

Just a note to anyone else upgrading on FreeBSD: For the dashboard to work, you need to install the lang/php55-extensions port, then restart the web server.

Basic Bus Station Design

I went to Chicago (it’s a Grinnell thing, you wouldn’t understand) the last week in September. This is what the Greyhound station looked like when I was waiting to head back.

You’d think there would be a clock. Why is there no clock?

Chicago Greyhound station
Where the heck is a clock? It’s a bus station for heaven’s sake.

Nope. No clock visible from the spot where you charge things. Huh.

Edit: I looked again, turning myself about 120 degrees to the left, and spotted a grayish digital clock over Gates 1 through 12. I suppose that works, but it wasn’t that noticeable and… hey, bus station. People do need to know what time it is!

Here’s the other thing. Sadly, I was unable to snag a clearer photo of this particular design flaw because a rather aggressive police officer told me that “for security” I can’t take pictures there. (It probably is indeed illegal, because the world is still crazy over fake “terrorism,” but what a stupid law.)

Greyound station in Chicago, zoomed view
These gate numbers look nice, but they block your view of the buses’ destination signs.

Anyway, the other thing I’m trying to show you is visible in this zoomed-in image. Do you see the horizontal panel highlighted by my green rectangle? Okay, those are the express (red) gate numbers. Guess how high off the ground they are.

I don’t know either, but they’re at exactly the same height as the destination signs on the buses themselves. Come on. From across the room I might see that there’s a bus at Gate 15, but I can’t tell where it’s going. They could have raised or lowered the red panel, or left it out entirely.

Clearly, the “user experience” part of this design was not thought out. The architect made something pretty and modern but missed badly on some practical issues.