department of agriculture
department of agriculture: Page 1
With millions unemployed, Ag Secy Tom Vilsack demeans American workers, promotes amnesty, opposes enforcement, uses bogus talking points, opposes eVerify - 05/27/11
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a press conference on Wednesday in which he demeaned American workers, promoted immigration "reform", opposed immigration enforcement, and used a series of bogus immigration talking points.
An account of his remarks is here, with more excerpts at .
1. Vilsack ran down American workers, saying: "While some American citizens step up and take (farm) jobs, the truth is even when farmers make their best effort to recruit a domestic workforce, few citizens express interest. In large part that's because this is hard, tough work." The idea that growers want to recruit Americans is more than a bit dubious; many run down American workers as much as Vilsack. Growers tend to prefer lower-wage, more compliant illegal aliens. And, we sent a man to the moon and won World War II, now Vilsack falsely says that most Americans don't want hard work. That's also more than a bit dubious because a good percentage of those doing farm work are in fact Americans. And, there's the fact that the presence of large numbers of illegal aliens tends to reduce farm wages at the same time as decreasing safety in farm jobs.
The pro-American alternative would be for Vilsack to oppose illegal immigration and push something like this plan to get unemployed Americans working temporary farm jobs until the economy improves. That would answer the labor shortage complaints of farmers, improve working conditions on farms, and would save money overall (considering that most of those unemployed will be getting unemployment insurance and considering the costs of illegal aliens).
2. Vilsack supported comprehensive immigration reform, aka amnesty. See the link for the downsides of that plan .
3. One of the key selling points of immigration "reform" is that it would include stepped-up enforcement. Vilsack seems not to be such a fan of enforcement, saying: "It's difficult to know when someone is documented and when someone isn't. It's difficult when there are efforts at enforcement that basically disrupt not only undocumented folks but also documented … which we've seen in some of the processing facilities." If "reform" passed, does anyone think Vilsack would do a 180 and support "disrupt[ive]" immigration raids?
4. Vilsack used a long list of bogus talking points. The first item above is the jobs Americans wont do canard, but there were several more. From the article:
Reforms would result in "a reliable, legal workforce," said Vilsack. Reforms would also:
* Continue efforts "to secure the borders."
* Hold accountable "businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers."
Vilsack also used the deportations false choice, saying "The reality is, if you tried to deport all 12 million it would take several hundred years. That isn't practical." See the link for how he tried to mislead.
5. Vilsack also ran down the eVerify program, at least as a standalone solutiion, saying: "The E-Verify system creates a potential difficulty, particularly for smaller businesses... That's because they'd have to invest resources in equipment and training to participate."
"Our concern is that without a legal agricultural guest worker program in place – or without comprehensive immigration reform – you have roughly 500,000 workers out there that, frankly, would be screened out (by) a mandatory E-Verify program. If that happens, the risk of production losses, or production moving outside the country, is very real... If you just put in a mandatory E-Verify program, there's suddenly a huge gap in agricultural that must be filled from somewhere. Otherwise, the crops won't be planted and harvested. That's the reality."
 Vilsack: "There needs to be a comprehensive immigration system that deals with the 12 million people here, many working in our farm fields."
 Vilsack: "I've met farmers and ranchers all over this country who are worried about the broken immigration system... Simply put, our broken immigration system offers little hope for producers trying to do the right thing and make a living...
Jake Sherman shows again why The Politico isn't a legitimate source (Newt Gingrich, Tiffany's) UPDATED - 05/17/11
[See 5/25/11 UPDATE below]
Newt Gingrich, a fiscal conservative? Not when it comes to Tiffany’s.
In 2005 and 2006, the former House speaker turned presidential candidate carried as much as $500,000 in debt to the premier jewelry company, according to financial disclosures filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
Obviously, I'm not a Newt Gingrich fan. However, Sherman's article doesn't even rise to the National Inquirer level:
1. There's no indication at all of any sort of impropriety. As the article admits, Gingrich retired in 1999 and his wife (whose disclosure form listed the debt) "was employed by the House Agriculture Committee until 2007". As far as I know, Tiffany's jewelry and agriculture have few common bonds; it's not like ag subsidies are offered to diamond growers.
2. So, unless Jake Sherman can find some sort of link, this is a purely personal matter. It does reveal that Gingrich was living the high life, but then again so do most people with large amounts of money. Politicians' private lives should be off limits unless there's some sort of link to their policies. The media should be discussing politicians' policies and public actions, showing the ways they're wrong, and trying to encourage better policy.
3. Gingrich's spending habits (or those of his wife) have absolutely nothing to do with fiscal conservative policies: Sherman is engaging in a logical fallacy. Gingrich could throw $100 bills out the windows of his Hummer, while still promoting fiscal conservative policies with no contradiction whatsoever. What Gingrich does in his private life has no bearing on what's best for the country as a whole. It's very easy to make valid, logical arguments against fiscal conservatism, yet opponents of it generally act like, for instance, Rachel Maddow or others who are even less persuasive and credible.
If Jake Sherman were a real reporter and not just a Jerry Springer wannabe, he'd do something like call Newt Gingrich on his immigration position.
UPDATE: Jake Sherman isn't alone. For instance, Eric Kleefeld of TalkingPointsMemo offers a post based on Sherman's "work" here. It's so paint-by-the-numbers that you know Kleefeld is only doing it because - like Sherman - he's just a hack.
5/25/11 UPDATE: There might actually be something here, although the comments about Sherman still stand because he didn't look into that angle. The "credit card" with Tiffany's was actually interest-free; their normal credit card charges interest at a 21% annual rate. However, they also extend interest-free loans to top clients and Gingrich says he took advantage of an interest-free first year that they gave to anyone else (link). At the same time, contrary to what I said above, there might be a link between the Committee Gingrich's wife sat on and Tiffany's line of business (link):
Filings by Tiffany’s lobbyist, Cassidy & Co., and other government records show that the firm’s spending on “mining law and mine permitting-related issues” in Congress, as well as the Forest Service, the Interior Department, and Interior’s Bureau of Land Management shot up sharply between during the period when Callista Gingrich was chief clerk at the House Agriculture Committee...
The Forest Service, which comes under the committee’s jurisdiction, oversees mining, including silver mining, in federal forests.
Silver, of course, is a big part of Tiffany & Co.’s business.
Current Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, writing at the official blog of the USDA, offers "The DREAM Act for Our Rural Communities and Our Nation". Not only is the DREAM Act anti-American - it would let the illegal aliens covered by the bill take college educations away from U.S. citizens - but he misleads about the details of the bill.
I left the following comment which at post time has not been approved:
One of the foreign treats Vilsack helped introduce into IA was foreign street gangs, something they hadn't seen before.
He's also lying above:
1. They aren't necessarily the "children of undocumented immigrants". They themselves are illegal aliens, and children and parents can have different statuses.
2. They could have "[chosen] to come here". There's no restriction that them coming here be involuntary, and some older children cross on their own.
3. Those covered would only be "the best and the brightest" in the broadest sense possible. The education requirements are minimal.
4. Vilsack lies about or doesn't understand what it means to "qualify for the DREAM Act". It would grant conditional legal status to 1 to 2 million.
And, this part is especially ironic: "And many of the best minds in their high school classes choose to pursue opportunities away from home."
The DA isn't just an anti-American bill that would deprive some U.S. citizens of college. It's also an anti-Mexico bill and a bill that doesn't represent good policy for other sending countries. It would continue braindraining the Third World and depriving those countries of the people they need. If all the Mexican citizens who'd be covered by the DA returned home they could help that country be a bit less dysfunctional, and that would help the U.S. far more than any benefits we'd receive from them staying here.
The DA also represents the political elites turning their backs on their fellow citizens and supporting taking away educational resources from Americans in order to give them to foreign citizens who are here illegally.
Vilsack and the rest of the Obama administration need to remember who they're supposed to be working for.
UPDATE: It took until the next day or the day after that, but the USDA did publish the comment above.
The GOP has released a draft version of their new "Pledge to America"; the official release will be tomorrow at a Virginia hardware store (for that extra-special down-home touch). They focus on five main areas:
* "A Plan to Create Jobs, End Economic Uncertainty, and Make America More Competitive"
* "A Plan to Stop Out-of-Control Spending and Reduce the Size of Government"
* "A Plan to Repeal and Replace the Government Takeover of Health Care"
* "A Plan to Reform Congress and Restore Trust"
* "A Plan to Keep Our Nation Secure at Home & Abroad"
Following page upon page devoted to the first four, the last is tucked at the end almost as an addendum. And, tucked onto the end of that are the only three items directly relating to immigration:
* Establish Operational Control of the Border: We must take action to secure our borders, and that action starts with enforcing our laws. We will ensure that the Border Patrol has the tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border and prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from interfering with Border Patrol enforcement activities on federal lands.
* Work with State and Local Officials to Enforce Our Immigration Laws: The problem of illegal immigration and Mexican drug cartels engaged in an increasingly violent conflict means we need all hands on deck to address this challenge. We will reaffirm the authority of state and local law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of all federal immigration laws.
* Strengthen Visa Security: To stop terrorists like Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day bomber, we will require the Department of Homeland Security to review all visa applications at high-risk consular posts and prevent aliens from attempting to avoid deportation after having their visas revoked.
Secure the border is oftentimes a dodge meant to hide other weaknesses on immigration; see the link. And, that's probably what it is in this case too, although the sentence about the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture are hopeful and more than I would have expected. See this for the backstory.
And, the third is, of course, what we should have been doing but apparently haven't.
That sounds good, but the plan doesn't include, for instance, anything about attrition (now the official state policy of Arizona), or supporting/opposing guest workers, anything involving language issues, or opposing anti-American bills like the DREAM Act. In fact, it doesn't say anything about opposing amnesty or comprehensive immigration reform at all. It doesn't point out how very vulnerable almost all Democratic leaders are to good arguments against their immigration policies. It doesn't acknowledge that the Hispanic vote is to a good degree an illusion. It doesn't acknowledge that massive illegal immigration is an indicator of massive private and public corruption and pledge to avoid any attempts to profit from or enable the profiting from illegal activity.
In other words, it's not completely bogus, but considering the source it's close.
Napolitano, Vilsack: call it the "H1N1 virus", not "swine flu". More concerned about pork industry than public safety - 04/28/09
Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security and Tom Vilsack of the Department of Agriculture want us to call swine flu the "H1N1 virus" instead (link). They have somewhat of a point: if you really can't get it from eating pork then perhaps we should grit our teeth and not wish for the demise of the pork industry. The problem is that while they're rushing to the aid of pork producers, they're keeping the borders as open as ever.
"This is not a food-borne illness, virus. It is not correct to refer to it as swine flu because really that's not what this is about."
Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acting director Richard Besser:
"That's not helpful to pork producers. That's not helpful to people who eat pork. It's not helpful to people who are wondering, how can they get this infection,"
Israel wants to call it the "Mexico flu". Another group wants to call it the "North American flu". We'll call it the swine flu.
I'm not up-to-date on farming matters and I let McDonald's handle the food side of things.
On 11/21, the WaPo featured him in "Shortage of Immigrant Workers Alarms Growers in West" (link), and today the Los Angeles Times features him in "Picking a Battle Over Shortage of Farmworkers" (link). And, he was apparently also featured saying similar things in Copley News Service and USA Today. And, the CSM article (link) I discussed in "America's produce industry is facing a crisis" featured another member of the Vessey clan.
However, there appears to be quite a bit more to this story: Jon Vessey is on the Board of Directors of the Western Growers Association (source, cache). And, various Vesseys have been quote sources for decades (PDF file).
And, neither the LAT, nor the WaPo, nor the CSM noted this rather important connection. In fact, here's how the WaPo handled it:
"Today I have approximately 290 people working in the field," Jon Vessey said recently. Vessey runs an 8,000-acre winter vegetable farm with his son, Jack, near El Centro, Calif. "I should have 400, and for the harvest I need 1,100. . . . There's a disaster coming."I guess they meant to mention that there's a link between the two paragraphs, but an editor took that out. Or something like that.
The Western Growers Association, which represents 3,000 farmers, is lobbying the Bush administration to make it easier for farmers to tap the labor pool just below the border.
Note also that left-wing bloggers fell for this too: here (washingtonmonthly. com/archives/individual/2005_12/007700.php), here (washingtonmonthly. com/archives/individual/2005_11/007643.php), here (brothersjudd. com/blog/archives/2005/12/calling_all_nat.html).
Contact the CSM here, and send emails to these: readers.Rep *at* latimes.com and ombudsman * at* washpost.com.
UPDATE: A commentor at the first PA thread says this unverified bit:
It's going back to 1982, but a leopard does not change its spots. Jon Vessey is the CEO of Vessey & Co. which lost a case in that year filed by the UFW. The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) found that the respondents (Vessey, Maggio, ...) had bargained in bad faith with the union regarding the contract for lettuce pickers. Remember the iceberg lettuce boycott? The findings of the ALRB are available [in this PDF file].