Thomas L. Freidman’s Op-Ed in today’s New York Times, a lucid appraisal of an absurd VP selection for McCain and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

The following is an Op-Ed piece by ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’ author, Thomas L. Freidman, published today in the New York Times: (see the original by clicking here.)

Criticizing Sarah Palin is truly shooting fish in a barrel. But given the huge attention she is getting, you can’t just ignore what she has to say. And there was one thing she said in the debate with Joe Biden that really sticks in my craw. It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

I can understand someone saying that the government has no business bailing out the financial system, but I can’t understand someone arguing that we should do that but not pay for it with taxes. I can understand someone saying we have no business in Iraq, but I can’t understand someone who advocates staying in Iraq until “victory” declaring that paying taxes to fund that is not patriotic.

How in the world can conservative commentators write with a straight face that this woman should be vice president of the United States? Do these people understand what serious trouble our country is in right now?

We are in the middle of an economic perfect storm, and we don’t know how much worse it’s going to get. People all over the world are hoarding cash, and no bank feels that it can fully trust anyone it is doing business with anywhere in the world. Did you notice that the government of Iceland just seized the country’s second-largest bank and today is begging Russia for a $5 billion loan to stave off “national bankruptcy.” What does that say? It tells you that financial globalization has gone so much farther and faster than regulatory institutions could govern it. Our crisis could bankrupt Iceland! Who knew?

And we have not yet even felt the full economic brunt here. I fear we may be at that moment just before the tsunami hits — when the birds take flight and the insects stop chirping because their acute senses can feel what is coming before humans can. At this moment, only good governance can save us. I am not sure that this crisis will end without every government in every major economy guaranteeing the creditworthiness of every financial institution it regulates. That may be the only way to get lending going again. Organizing something that big and complex will take some really smart governance and seasoned leadership.

Whether or not I agree with John McCain, he is of presidential timber. But putting the country in the position where a total novice like Sarah Palin could be asked to steer us through possibly the most serious economic crisis of our lives is flat out reckless. It is the opposite of conservative.

And please don’t tell me she will hire smart advisers. What happens when her two smartest advisers disagree?

And please also don’t tell me she is an “energy expert.” She is an energy expert exactly the same way the king of Saudi Arabia is an energy expert — by accident of residence. Palin happens to be governor of the Saudi Arabia of America — Alaska — and the only energy expertise she has is the same as the king of Saudi Arabia’s. It’s about how the windfall profits from the oil in their respective kingdoms should be divided between the oil companies and the people.

At least the king of Saudi Arabia, in advocating “drill baby drill,” is serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. My problem with Palin is that she is also serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. That’s not patriotic. Patriotic is offering a plan to build our economy — not by tax cuts or punching more holes in the ground, but by empowering more Americans to work in productive and innovative jobs. If Palin has that kind of a plan, I haven’t heard it.”

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U.S. Central Bank commits US taxpayers to foot 100% of $85 billion AIG bailout, despite the company’s INTERNATIONAL existance and importance (read-bailed out at behest of foreign central banks with only US tax payer money!!??)

Click here to read a Great Opinion Piece  (‘The fleecing of America’) concerning America’s new, diminished role as a pauper nation amongst the world’s new “wealth centers” in China, India, Brazil and the Persian Gulf States and about the lack of foreign investment support in helping to save the international conglomerate AIG (billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars spent to save international company????) Written by Roger Cohen, Published in the New York Times on Sunday, the following is an excerpt:

“…But toxic mortgage-backed securities were pedaled by plenty of foreign banks. And the decision to pour $85 billion of U.S. taxpayers’ money into the rescue of American International Group (A.I.G.), the insurance giant, followed appeals from foreign finance ministers to Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, to save a global company.

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told me: “Paulson said he was getting calls from finance ministers all around the world saying, you have to save A.I.G. Well, they should have been asked to contribute to the pot.”

Frank has a point. (He should coach Barack Obama on how to put economics in plain language.) As Frank said on “The Charlie Rose Show,” “I don’t think the European Central Bank should be free to spend the Federal Reserve’s money and not put any in.”

I know, you reap what you sow. Nobody’s itching to help the Bush administration. World central banks did inject billions in concerted action to help stabilize money markets. But the U.S. has essentially been on its own. Now foreign banks with U.S. affiliates will want a slice of the $700 billion bailout. That doesn’t make sense until the burden of this rescue starts reflecting a globalized world.

I asked Frank why Paulson and Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, did not get more foreign support. “I think it’s a perverse pride thing,” he said. “We don’t ask for help. We’re the big, strong father figure. But let’s be realistic: we’re no longer the dominant world power.”

It’s time for a responsibility shift. Call it the Hirst reality check. If he can sell a formaldehyde-pickled sheep with gold horns for millions while Lehman goes under, perhaps it’s time for everyone to help a little when Americans get fleeced.”  😦

Frame it this way now: America has an illegal employer problem, not an illegal immigrant problem.

Anti-immigration fanatics always seem to point to porous borders and the lack of a “big fence” around the country as the reason our labor market is flooded with workers (see my previous post about this issue for more back ground and research on the trend towards non-enforcement of illegal employment laws over the past 20 years or so as our republic has increasingly become more corporatist.), who they say keep American’s wages lower than they would be other wise (see supply and demand of workers.); what they should really be upset about is the magnet that is drawing these aspiring Americans into the American labor pool, namely, ILLEGAL EMPLOYERS AND NON-ENFORCEMENT OF NON-CITIZEN EMPLOYMENT LAWS. The New York Times has an interesting article about Big business and it’s battle to maintain the favorable supply/demand ratio of low wage workers the non-enforcement of illegal alien employment laws that they have enjoyed in our country for the past 12 years or so…The following is an excerpt from today’s NYTimes article by Julia Preston:

Business groups have resisted measures that would revoke the licenses of employers of illegal immigrants. They are proposing alternatives that would revise federal rules for verifying the identity documents of new hires and would expand programs to bring legal immigrant laborers.

Though the pushback is coming from both Democrats and Republicans, in many places it is reopening the rift over immigration that troubled the Republican Party last year. Businesses, generally Republican stalwarts, are standing up to others within the party who accuse them of undercutting border enforcement and jeopardizing American jobs by hiring illegal immigrants as cheap labor.

Employers in Arizona were stung by a law passed last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature that revokes the licenses of businesses caught twice with illegal immigrants. They won approval in this year’s session of a narrowing of that law making clear that it did not apply to workers hired before this year.

Last week, an Arizona employers’ group submitted more than 284,000 signatures — far more than needed — for a November ballot initiative that would make the 2007 law even friendlier to employers.

Also in recent months, immigration bills were defeated in Indiana and Kentucky — states where control of the legislatures is split between Democrats and Republicans — due in part to warnings from business groups that the measures could hurt the economy.

In Oklahoma, chambers of commerce went to federal court and last month won an order suspending sections of a 2007 state law that would require employers to use a federal database to check the immigration status of new hires. In California, businesses have turned to elected officials, including the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, to lobby federal immigration authorities against raiding long-established companies.

While much of the employer activity has been at the grass-roots level, a national federation has been created to bring together the local and state business groups that have sprung up over the last year.

“These employers are now starting to realize that nobody is in a better position than they are to make the case that they do need the workers and they do want to be on the right side of the law,” said Tamar Jacoby, president of the new federation, ImmigrationWorks USA.

After years of laissez-faire enforcement, federal immigration agents have been conducting raids at a brisk pace, with 4,940 arrests in workplaces last year. Although immigration has long been a federal issue, more than 175 bills were introduced in states this year concerning the employment of immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State lawmakers said they had acted against businesses, often in response to fervent demands from voters, to curb job incentives that were attracting shadow populations of illegal immigrants.

“Illegal immigration is a threat to the safety of Missouri families and the security of their jobs,” Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, said after the Missouri Legislature passed a crackdown law in May. “I am pleased that lawmakers heeded my call to continue the fight where Washington has failed to act.”

But because of the mobilization of businesses, the state proposals this year have increasingly reflected their concerns. State lawmakers “are starting to be more responsive to the employer community because of its engagement in the issue,” said Ann Morse, who monitors immigration for the national legislature conference.”

Go see “Thurgood,” a play depicting the life of Thurgood Marshall, who was lead attorney in the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) school desegregation case and the first African American Supreme Court Justice (1967).

The lead role is currently being played by noted Hollywood actor, Laurence Fishburne, with whom New York Times columnist, Zachary Pincus-Roth recently sat down for an interview (click here to read original interview). Here is an excerpt of that interview:

At a lunch interview in a Los Angeles cafe, Mr. Fishburne — who arrived on his BMW GS1100 motorcycle wearing jeans and a tight, black long-sleeve shirt adorned in tattoo art — recalled a high school field trip to Broadway to see James Earl Jones in a solo play about the black actor, singer and activist Paul Robeson.

“He was never mentioned in any classroom I had been in, and I learned a great deal,” he said. “I was inspired.”

Before reading George Stevens Jr.’s script for “Thurgood (click here to read a quick synopsis of this interesting life.),” he knew little about Marshall’s early career as the civil rights lawyer who argued Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case that ended official segregation in public schools. “My only real knowledge of him was that he was the first black man appointed to the United States Supreme Court,” Mr. Fishburne said. “I thought that this would be an opportunity for me to educate people.”

“….Fittingly, Mr. Fishburne is taking over a role originated by Mr. [James Earl] Jones, at the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut in 2006. It’s a familiar path for him: in “Fences,” he played Troy Maxson, the role for which Mr. Jones won a Tony Award (in “Fences”, a play published in 1985 by August Wilson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright).

Mr. Jones decided not to continue with “Thurgood” and is now on Broadway in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Through a publicist, he declined comment, except to say that he admires Mr. Fishburne’s talents and wishes the production good luck. “Thurgood” is presented as a lecture at Howard University, where Marshall attended law school. Marshall, 83 years old and retired, takes the audience on a journey through his career, with a focus on his fight for integration.

232,000 US jobs have vanished since January, Senior Economist at Economic Policy Institute says, “most people depend on their paychecks.”

Published: April 5, 2008:

“The nation’s employers eliminated tens of thousands of jobs for the third month in a row, the government reported Friday, and top Democrats immediately called for new measures to help suffering American workers. After the early-morning report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that 80,000 jobs had disappeared in March, the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said she would propose a second economic stimulus package. Hers would supplement the $150 billion in tax rebates scheduled to be mailed to millions of Americans beginning next month.”…

…”

The March decline was the largest job loss since March 2003 when the economy was still shaking off the lingering effects of the 2001 recession. Since the start of the year, 232,000 jobs have disappeared, the bureau said yesterday.

More than once in the past, three consecutive months of job losses have marked the start of a recession. “It is our view that we are already in one,” said Drew Matus, a Lehman Brothers economist, offering a view widely held on Wall Street.”…

…”

Unemployment rose in every sector of the work force, except among teenagers. Hourly wage gains slowed for production workers, who constitute 80 percent of the work force. The 5-cent rise last month brought the average wage to $17.86 an hour, an increase of 3.6 percent since the previous March, not enough to keep up with inflation.

“You can talk all you want about the importance of stock portfolios and the wealth embedded in your home,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute, “but when you get right down to it, most people depend on their paychecks.”…