Archive for March 27th, 2007|Daily archive page

The Wrong Recruit

This is priceless.

What happens when an Army recruiter sends an offer to a person who has posted his resume on CareerBuilder? Well sometimes Sergeant Marcia Ramode might get a nibble leading to a new, oh-so-needed Army recruit. Sometimes she gets a response like this

Awesome! Sounds great! The US Military has so many vacant positions and opportunities. I had no idea. I’m seriously considering contacting you. One thing, I’m not up [on] current politics but since it’s 2007, I would imagine also that I am now able to serve in the US military as an openly gay man, right?

Oh! Snap!

This would usually then plead a response to the now former recruitee to the effect that, no unfortunately the US Military has a ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ policy and bla, bla, bla. It usually should not lead to the recruiting sergeant, responding with

WELL IFYOU ARE GAY WE DON’T TAKE YOU YOU ARE CONSIDERED UNQUALIFIED. [caps, spelling and punctuation in original, my emphasis]

Ping! That was a recruiting person losing it.

At this point, the resume poster, Corey Andrew, did what any red blooded American, liberal, gay or lesbian might do. He started pulling her chain. Hell, at this point I’d be pulling her chain. The exchange heats up with the former recruitee pushing button after button and the recruiter completely losing control of the caps lock, her language skills and any hint of decorum.

Insult begat insult with Ramode at one point admitting to being Native American to which Andrew ended his next response with “So take that to your next rain dance.” You can read the entire exchange here and the right wing response here (Hint: it’s all a homosexual plot to bait harmless recruiters into making fools of themselves. Oh! Right!)

Now the whole thing is under investigation and the recruiting sergeant will probably get a ruffle and a keyboard with the capslock disabled.

But the money quote. The thing that really conjured up an image that will give me nightmares for weeks. It didn’t come from the homophobic, etiquette challenged sergeant who managed


No the money quote came from Mr. Andrew.

Most disturbingly, you have the nerve to suggest that you’d send all the gays off to Iraq to be killed first if you could? Well let me round up some of my gay boys and give it a shot. We could do no worse than President Bush’s whole administration of liars that put us there in the first place. In fact the gays would have had Osama by now; with his shirt off, nipples pierced, peace driven and dancing to Abba’s Greatest Hits! Whereas you dudes can’t even find him!

Osama? Pierced Nipples? Abba!

I won’t sleep for weeks.

(Hat Tip: Pam’s House Blend via Andrew Sullivan/Daily Dish)

Be Our Guest

In the last six years there have been few issues where I would have agreed with George W. Bush’s rhetoric: his incessant harping about things in Iraq being merely illusions created by a misguided media; his refusal to admit to mistakes of any form; his belief that all power should be in the hands of the president.

Thus when he spoke of increasing the guestworker program in America to create a legal mechanism to alleviate the pressures of illegal immigration, I was surprised to find myself agreeing with much of what he said. I should have know better.

Newspapers and pundits have occasionally commented that the war in Iraq and the other minor problems with the administration (a hostile Congress, convicted White House aides, and most currently that pesky little issue surrounding Alberto Gonzales) all seem to be conspiring to keep George W. Bush from achieving the central domestic theme of his second term, restructuring the immigration system. (His landmark issue of the first term the No Child Left Behind legislation is also starting to crumble but that’s a different issue.)

Bush has repeatedly argued that there must be a legal safety valve to ease the pressures on American borders. I’d agree with that position; having low wage workers is important for the American economy and the likelihood of any other system working in the near future are slim.

The problem is that Bush also claims that an expansion of the current guest worker programs (H2 and H3) represents just such a safety valve. I beg to differ.

There is a new report out by the Southern Poverty Law Center discussing the current guestworker program and highlighting the problems associated with it. Indeed, the current system is so flawed it was deemed by Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel to be “the closest thing I’ve ever seen to slavery.” And that is the title the SPLC chose for their report.

The report does not make for comforting reading.

While it should be read in its entirety, the abuses documented show a consistent disregard of basic human rights – of basic human dignity. If we worry about how inmates are treated in Guantanamo, we should be equally concerned about the treatment ‘legal’ guest workers receive in “the land of unparalleled opportunities.”

The abuses show that workers mortgage their futures to obtain low-paying jobs under false pretences; are held captive sometimes virtually – sometimes literally – by employers and labor brokers; are often forced to live in squalid conditions; are routinely cheated out of wages; and are denied medical benefits for on-the-job injuries.

These abuses are not simply sporadic but systematic.

Even worse; it is up to the employer to obtain the visas necessary for employees to enter the US as a guest worker. They must show that they are unable to hire American labor and, in the case of agricultural workers, submit to a number of specific regulations. Even if it is proven that the employer has not met the minimum standards and is fined for violations by the Department of Labor, there is no mechanism to deny that employer from doing the same thing one year later – and the year after that – and the year after that.

The SPLC also documents a case where Del Monte used its employees to act as ‘labor brokers’ to hire guest workers. The workers were paid by Del Monte, lived in Del Monte housing but should problems arise, the workers could only legally sue the Del Monte employee, someone with no capital leaving the workers with absolutely no protection.

The introduction to the report apply summarizes the horrors that follow,

The H-2 guestworker system also can be viewed as a modern-day system of indentured servitude. But unlike European indentured servants of old, today’s guestworkers have no prospect of becoming U.S. citizens. When their work visas expire, they must leave the United States. They are, in effect, the disposable workers of the U.S. economy.

This report is based on interviews with thousands of guestworkers, a review of the research on guestworker programs, scores of legal cases and the experiences of legal experts from around the country. The abuses described here are too common to blame on a few “bad apple” employers. They are the foreseeable outcomes of a system that treats foreign workers as commodities to be imported as needed without affording them adequate legal safeguards or the protections of the free market.

The H-2 guestworker program is inherently abusive and should not be expanded in the name of immigration reform. If the current program is allowed to continue at all, it should be completely overhauled. Recommendations for doing so appear at the end of this report.

Thus, perhaps one can only hope that the current problems confronting the Bush administration remain insurmountable. We can only hope he does not get a chance to push his vision of reforming the immigration system by creating disposable slaves.

Perhaps that is the highlight in the scandal surrounding Alberto Gonzales. Bush does not have the free room to create legislation to exploit those who still live in the land of Gonzales’ forefathers. But if people can keep him tied up in his own scandals, all I can say is, be my guest.