PETITION: Urge DHS not to appoint David Clarke.

[CONTENT NOTE: state violence, brutality and death]

Apropos my post earlier today about state violence-supporting, authoritarian fascist douchebro David Clarke, here comes a timely petition (via

Dear Iris:

On Wednesday, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke told right wing radio he will resign to take a job in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Donald Trump.1

Will you sign the petition and tell DHS Secretary John Kelly to not hire Sheriff Clarke?

Clarke’s resignation is great news for Milwaukee County, but if he really is being appointed to DHS, that’s terrible news for the country. That’s why we’re joining forces with our partners at Voces de la Frontera to stop Sheriff Clark and hold the DHS accountable.

Amazingly, DHS has not confirmed that they actually offered Clarke the job he claims. There’s still time to sign the petition urging DHS Secretary John Kelly to not appoint Sheriff Clarke to any position.

Click here to sign! Don’t forget to share it on social media!

Clarke is incompetent and corrupt. He has abused his power by attacking political opponents. He has enriched himself by acting as a media mouthpiece for white supremacists. He is unfit for any office and should face criminal charges for the deaths and human rights abuses at the Milwaukee County Jail.2

If Clarke is appointed to this position, his job would be to bully other local law enforcement nationwide into enrolling in the 287g program to deputize officers as Immigration agents, as he has tried to do in Milwaukee.3 That is unacceptable!

Click here to sign!

Thank you for all you do and ¡adelante!

– Matt, Favianna, Erick, Reetu, Oscar, Erica and the team.

P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on contributions from people like you to see campaigns like this through.

1.“Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says he’s taking job in Department of Homeland Security.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. May 17, 2017.
2.“4 People, Including A Baby, Have Died In A Jail Run By Potential Trump Nominee Sheriff David Clarke.”Huffington Post. November 29, 2016.
3.Bice: Letter details Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s plan for immigration enforcement.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 16, 2017.


Freeze peaches at Berkeley and beyond.

[CONTENT NOTE: violent bigotry. lots of it.]

I am ashamed to report to readers that The Washington Post lured me into a time-wasting, life-sucking vortex with a clickbait headline:

I invited Ann Coulter to speak at UC Berkeley. Here’s why.
My group doesn’t agree with her, but we believe in free speech.

Ugh why. Because I AM WEAK, people, that’s why. Coulter’s appearance at Berkeley is not even happening, and yet still I could not just let this shit stand.  Continue reading

So what’s the problem?

[CONTENT NOTE: worker exploitation and abuse, nativism.]

Whenever immigration policy lands on the front burner we are all treated to “news” stories noting the inevitability of food costs soaring and the nation’s agricultural economy collapsing when undocumented farm workers suddenly become scarce. Here is one such article from The Nation in 2011 reporting on the eminently foreseeable catastrophes after Georgia and Alabama enacted draconian anti-immigrant statutes. Among other shitty fascist provisions, the laws required employers to confirm their worker’s legal status via the federal government’s E-Verify system. Any worker who used false documents to secure a job could be subject to fifteen years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

In perhaps the most utterly predictable chain of events in the universe ever, undocumented farm workers fled Georgia and Alabama in droves, leaving watermelons, peaches, blackberries and cucumbers rotting in the fields and businesses collapsing in their wake. The estimated loss for Georgia’s agricultural sector alone was $1 billion—for one season.

How on Earth could such a senseless situation come to pass? [SPOILER ALERT! Because conservatives.]

Continue reading

The banishment of John, Part 3.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia, eliminationism, misogyny and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

This is the last installment.

Part 2 left off in the middle of my meticulous dismemberment of John Miller’s final, terrible comment, at which point he had finished addressing commenter khms (who responded to him beautifully here, as did Rotary Wing here). John now turns to address Your Humble Monarch™ directly. But before I finishing dissecting this specimen, please allow me to reiterate some important points to bear in mind.

NOTE 1: There is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither reason nor facts are likely to penetrate their reality distortion fields enough to sway them in the direction of understanding or accepting reality—and in fact, a backfire effect may occur. There are, however, at least two reasons to make an exception to this rule. The first is for the infotainment of others, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, Loyal Readers™, young and impressionable children, etc. The second exception is for the pleasure to be found in the sharpening of one’s (rhetorical) fangs, whether in preparation for the aforementioned audiences or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to discern under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment in addition to material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking here I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

Shall we?


Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers …

It is absolutely adorable that John thinks the US is a democracy, or that the permanent power factions in DC  (i.e. the deep state) value the concept of democracy for anything other than the ease with which they can exploit it.

It is super sweet that John thinks the rule of law operates here.

It is positively precious that John thinks “freedom of speech” is a cherished principle in these United States.

It is particularly priceless that John thinks equality for women and girls is now,
or has ever been, a defining feature of Western society.

It is deliciously delightful that John sees Western civilization as a beacon of freedom from institutionalized paedophilia, rather than practically being defined by it.

It is seriously stunning that John believes routine genital mutilation is somehow unique to Muslim cultures.

And it is really remarkable that John views the separation of powers as A Thing That Exists—except, of course, in the sense of powers being separated from We, the People.


These values need to be cherished and protected.

I seem to recall “freedom of religion” being a cherished and protected value of this much-touted Western culture. I guess I must have made that up, because it’s missing from John’s list of “core values of Western culture.”


I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’.

Really? Aww, come on! That’s an easy one! TO MAKE IT BETTER. Funny thing about that, though: the biggest obstacle to making progress on any of these fronts is people like John, whose willful ignorance magically allows them to see themselves, their uninformed and toxic views and the evil that results as somehow benevolent, despite all evidence to the contrary.

A real conundrum.


Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one! See, e.g., the entire fucking history of Australia. [h/t Rotary Wing.]

On a related note, I now wish to demonstrate for Loyal Readers™ my astonishing psychic abilities: without having ever met John, interviewed him (or others about him), researched into his background, seen a picture of him, or indeed learned anything at all about him except through his comments here, I am willing to bet the entire Palace Treasury that in addition to being a (cisgender) male, John is also white, straight and Australian-born.

TA-DA!  My mad clairvoyant skillz simply cannot be explained away by guessing that:

  • John doesn’t see racism in Australia, because he has never been, and likely will never be, oppressed in any way because of his race.



We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis.

How nice for John and his friends. Some people would loooooove to be interested in those things, but they’re kinda busy with other things. Things like fleeing violent conflicts and keeping themselves and their children alive.

By the way, it turns out that the Aussies are interested in a few other things, too.


If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around.

I appreciate the offer, but…

You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

I have no idea what any of that means. But if it means “people who are like John,” I (dis)respectfully decline.


When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies.

Wow, it sure is a mystery why Muslims immigrants to Australia might wish to live in enclaves.

SPOILER ALERT! It’s… people like John.


It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

It’s a real shame the Australian government is so cash-strapped and has nothing better to spend money on. Besides directly creating the conditions that lead to Islamic terrorism and mass migrations of Muslims in the first place, OBVIOUSLY.


I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules.

Gosh, I wonder what exactly these “cultural rules” might be, how they might be enforced in a diverse society, and who will enforce them. Are they anything like, you know, “laws”?

If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else.

For example, to prison? I must be off my game, because I sort of agree with John here.*

*Except we all know that by “cultural rules” John doesn’t mean laws. He means something else entirely, more along the lines of an Official Real Australian™ Dress Code For Women, as we shall see.


People then have a choice, fit in or ship out. Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women.

That John thinks he can simultaneously write comments like the one we’re addressing here, and also claim to be part of a society that welcomes Muslims, is…um, interesting. And by now it will surprise no one that John is just as WRONG about Atatürk getting rid of “the head gear” as he is about everything else:

Even though he personally promoted modern dress for women, Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] never made specific reference to women’s clothing in the law, as he believed that women would adapt to the new clothing styles of their own free will. He was frequently photographed on public business with his wife Lâtife Uşaklıgil, who covered her head in accordance with Islamic tradition. He was also frequently photographed on public business with women wearing modern Western clothes. But it was Atatürk’s adopted daughters, Sabiha Gökçen and Afet İnan, who provided the real role model for the Turkish women of the future. He wrote: “The religious covering of women will not cause difficultyThis simple style [of headcovering] is not in conflict with the morals and manners of our society.

[emphasis mine.]

Yes, John is oddly obsessed with superficial conformity to (arbitrary) local dress codes, especially for women. I was momentarily curious as to whether John would have similar objections to Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and curls. Or to nuns wearing habits. Or to Sikhs wearing turbans. Or to Hindus wearing bindis on their foreheads and other traditional garb. Or ooh! OOH! To priests wearing collars! Now I personally think priest collars should not just be permitted but actively encouraged, because (a) it makes them stand out such that I can easily avoid or engage with priests as I see fit, and (b) I’ve always had a serious fetish for hawt priests. WIN-WIN.


Australian Orthodox Jewish men with the head gear.”


Australian Carmelite nuns with “the head gear,”
plus some d00ds.


Australian Sikhs, some with “the head gear,”at a prayer vigil for a mass murder at a Sikh temple by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wisconsin (USA).


Australian Hindus.


Fr. Rob Galea, Catholic priest in Australia.
OMFG *swoon*
Don’t worry, sweetheart! If mean old John tells you to “FIT IN OR SHIP OUT!” you just come right over here and sit by me. :D

But then suddenly I remembered that I don’t give a fuck what John thinks, as long as he thinks it somewhere else.

However for the record: the people pictured here are just as “Australian” as John is. Whatever that even means.


These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

Okay, I’ve been around the Interwebz a time or two, so please allow me to translate John’s drivel for you. By “the sisterhood,” John means his warped caricature of feminists, i.e., a group of humans which (a) includes no men and no Muslims, (b) has no understanding of misogyny, especially Islamic-flavored misogyny, and (c) lacks John’s in-depth and comprehensive understanding of culture and symbolism.

… as opposed to, say, John having no fucking clue what women in virtually every culture in the world including his own must navigate just to survive.

Interestingly, actual feminists want a world where everyone—and yes, “everyone” even includes Muslim women!— is free and encouraged to wear whatever the fuck they want.

And, until it is safe for everyone to choose to wear whatever the fuck they want without oppression resulting, everyone needs to STFU about whether, when and where it is appropriate for Muslim women to wear “the head gearbecause we do not live in that fucking world goddammit.

Seriously, do people even think for one second about the choice they want some of the most oppressed people in the world—immigrant Muslim women of color—to make here? Be shunned by your family and everyone you know in the religious community to which you belong, or, apparently, be judged and demonized by the Johns of the (supposedly “free”…) wider society?


Please accept this hearty Palace FUCK YOU.


When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

OMG YOU GUYS! John has figured out the solution to misogyny! And it’s so simple, I cannot believe we didn’t think of it before! It’s… people like John policing what women wear! Fit in or ship out, bitchez! And for good measure, blaming the women of a persecuted religious minority—many of whom are also women of color in predominately white (and white supremacist) societies—for perpetrating their own oppression, if for whatever reason they do not conform strictly to local, provincial standards of dress. (Hey, I wonder if the dress standards John espouses are gender neutral. I’m just kidding! LOL! I crack myself up.)


Incidentally, this is how I picture John dressing:


Note in particular the lack of “the head gear,” such lack being customary and characteristic of Real Australians™.

All of this^ he is (and damn well ought to be) 100% free to wear, no matter how repulsive I or anyone else may find his personal style or reasons for presenting himself the way he does.

Everyone should have that freedom.



Wherefore, and in Due Consideration of All of the Foregoing Acts of Unrepentant Conservatism, Which Having Been Finally Exhausted of All Explanatory and/or Entertainment Value, Let It Be Known Throughout the Land That

John Miller

is Hereby Forever Banished to

All of the Other Places on the Internet
(Most of Which By the Way are Generally Not as Reality-Based and Fun as This One.)




Let us rejoice, for John Miller’s odious stench shall ne’er again befoul this Palace!



The banishment of John, Part 2.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

We last left off in November, at the point in our story where commenter khms and I responded to (yet another one of) John Miller’s terrible comments. Having thought—nay, hoped—this was the end of it, I was surprised to see that John recently responded to us. And now khms has responded to him beautifully, and you should go read that; as has Rotary Wing, and you should go read that too, if for no other reason than to see two sparkling specimens of civil, mockery-free, reality-based rebuttals to John’s bigoted, vicious, fact-free conservative noise.

But now it’s my turn. And I plan to relish dismembering the horrifying shitshow that is the mind of John Miller, conservative—for the very last time.

NOTE: It is always worth remembering that there is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither facts nor reason will sway them in the direction of accepting reality—in fact, the opposite effect is just as likely to occur. There are, however, two important exceptions to the utter pointlessness of engaging with conservatives. The first is for the infotainment of other people, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, beloved Loyal Readers™, etc. The second is for the pleasure to be found in sharpening one’s own rhetorical fangs, either to prepare for the aforementioned audience, or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to determine under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment as well as material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking, I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.


First, let us all behold with awe and wonder John’s retort in its entirety:

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population. The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.

They have high levels of welfare dependence, they breed like rabbits. If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.

The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat. America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught. Australia hasn’t, having excepted anyone and everyone who chose to come her by boat over the last five years.

KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers … These values need to be cherished and protected. I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’. Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here. We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis. If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around. You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies. It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules. If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else. People then have a choice, fit in or ship out.

Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women. These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

Well then. Shall we begin?

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population.

BZZZT. I don’t know what TV John’s watching or newspapers he’s reading (though I have my suspicions!), but these birthrate claims are simply false. As in, WRONG:

Around the world, the global average Muslim family size has fallen from 4.3 children per family in 1995 to 2.9 in 2010, and is expected to fall below the population-growth rate, and converge with Western family sizes, by mid-century.

Muslims in France and Germany are now having only 2.2 children per family, barely above the national average. And while Pakistani immigrants in Britain have 3.5 children each, their British-born daughters have only 2.5. Across Europe, the difference between the Muslim and non-Muslim fertility rate has fallen from 0.7 to 0.4, and is headed toward a continent-wide convergence.


The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

OMG THESE MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS SPEAK A FOREIGN LANGUAGE!!!11!!!! Even if this is true, it is not the slightest bit alarming in any way. You know how I know? I know because there are many, many cities and towns in the United States where the primary language spoken is not English. In the state of California, 43.8% of people over 5 years old speak a language other than English at home, and that figure rises to over 90% in cities and towns across that state. (And that’s to say nothing of enormous, heavily populated ethnic-minority and immigrant neighborhoods that make up large swaths of California’s major cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco.) And guess what? No one except conservatives gives a shit. Well, the rest of us care because we want non-English speaking immigrants and their children to have access to the resources they need to learn basic English proficiency. And unlike John, we all understand that immigrant populations acquire English fluency by the second generation (frequently accompanied by the loss of fluency in their family language, unfortunately).


Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.


Actually, Muslims change their cultural views dramatically when they emigrate. For example, 62% of American Muslims say that “a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of Palestinians are addressed” — a rate barely lower than that of average Americans (67%), and vastly ahead of the miniscule response among Middle Eastern Muslims — for whom between 20% and 40% agreed with that statement.

Similarly, 39% of American Muslims and 47% of German Muslims say they tolerate homosexuality, compared to single-figure responses in most Islamic countries — and those rates are rising with each immigrant generation. On these important questions, Muslim immigrants are converging with Western values fast.


They have high levels of welfare dependence,

Actually, it is true that immigrants generally have significantly higher levels of welfare use than native-born US citizens. Much of that gap is accounted for by lower education levels, language barriers and other factors leading to lower pay among some of our largest immigrant populations. But! It is also true that immigrant households generally are significantly more likely to have workers than native households:

Of legal immigrant households, 85 percent had one or more workers, as did 95 percent of illegal immigrant households and 76 percent of native households.

If those two facts seem contradictory, consider that welfare as it currently exists in the US is designed to supplement low-wage workers, among whom there is a disproportionate share of immigrants.

But we were talking about Muslims specifically. It is much more difficult to find data on US welfare use and religious affiliation—at least if we discount sources like Breitbart, World News Daily, Eagle Forum and other right-wing propaganda outlets best known for distortion levels that would have made Jimi Hendrix scream in pain and then set himself on fire instead of his guitar. Also, the US census does not ask questions about religion, so it is difficult to determine how many Muslims there are and where. But there are some things we do know that have a bearing on Muslims and their (alleged) uniquely high levels of welfare dependence.

Muslim Americans have income levels that match the US public. Immigrant Muslims are slightly more affluent than native-born Muslims: 41% of all Muslim Americans and 45% of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher, compared to the national average of 44%. Among high-income earners, 19% of immigrant Muslims claim annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher, compared to the U.S. average of 17 %. This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.*
*[Text excerpted from Strengthening America: The Civic and Political Integration of Muslim Americans, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, © 2007; Statistical data excerpted from Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, Pew Research Center, May 22, 2007; via the U.S. State Department.]

Muslim Americans are highly educated. “[40%] of Muslims say they have a college degree, making them the second most highly educated religious group surveyed after Jews (61 percent), compared with 29 percent of Americans overall who say they have a college degree, according to Gallup [PDF]. That carries across gender lines, with Muslim females being the second-most educated religious group in the country, after Jewish females.”

Sadly, because he is a proud, card-carrying math illiterate, John will not understand any of that.


they breed like rabbits.



If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb

If that’s their plan, they really better step up their game over here.


they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.



The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat.

Perhaps Muslim immigrants are attracted to the “freedom” of living in a place that isn’t being occupied, bombed, destroyed, exploited and/or otherwise destabilized by Western governments and their agents? Or “freedom” from violent Islamists created, armed and empowered by the West? I mean, even John can probably grok the fact that by far, most victims of Muslim terrorism are other Muslims.

Or maybe not.  :|

The freedoms under threat in Europe are the same freedoms under threat in the US—not from Muslims, mind you, but from conservatives, who currently allow Muslims to be used as a convenient pretext for radically undermining democracy, civil rights and the rule of law—a.k.a. freedom. See, e.g., mass surveillance, mass incarceration, police militarization, illegal wars, press freedom erosion, lawless drone assassinations and elite immunity from large-scale crimes, just off the top of my head.

But somehow I doubt those are the freedoms John worries about. No, apparently there are other, Very Important FREEDOMS™ under imminent threat from small and politically powerless populations of Muslims.


America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught.

Not for long: they’re among the fastest growing immigrant groups to the US. And, once again, no one cares except conservatives. Because the rest of us know we are a nation with a long history of immigration (and colonization—a topic for another time), and we know that immigrants assimilate within a few generations. But more to the point, there isn’t exactly an “onslaught” in Europe, either:

In fact, we now have several large-scale projections based on population-growth trends and immigration rates which show that the Muslim populations of Europe are growing increasingly slowly and that by the middle of this century — even if immigration rates are not reduced — the proportion of Muslims in Europe will probably peak somewhere short of 10% (it is currently around 7%). By that point, Muslims will have family sizes and age profiles not that different from Europe in general.

And what if it’s even double that? Say, 20%? Immigrants assimilate—unless shitweasels like John see to it that they cannot, of course.


Australia hasn’t, having excepted [sic] anyone and everyone who chose to come her  [sic] by boat over the last five years.

WRONG. And that’s a real bang-up job you guys are doing over there, too. Goddamn paragons of human rights, to which we can all only hope to aspire!



KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Sounds fantastic! Hey khms, if you go let me know when and where you’ll be and I’ll try to come meet up with you. And while we’re having a ball touring around some of the great cities of Europe, John will go spend a week investigating Australian immigration policy (including its history of white European immigration and its present-day immigrant detention centres) and report back to us.



Stay tuned for Part 3.


The banishment of John, Part 1. UPDATED. UPDATE 2.

UPDATE: khms, an actual European, has responded to John’s latest here.

UPDATE 2: Rotary Wing, another Australian, has responded to John’s latest here.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

I cannot believe it took me so long to catch on. John Miller has been an occasional commenter here for three years. The sum of what I know about him is that he’s Australian, made his career as a Phys Ed teacher, and is prone to making terrible and uninformed statements on my blog.

There was the time he agreed employers shouldn’t have to pay for employee contraceptives—not because of religious objections to women’s health care, but out of concern for the employer’s embarrassment. Both Tony and I responded to the myriad errors in his thinking, but he never acknowledged any of that. There was the time he treated us to some anti-vaccination rhetoric (“I’m sure an advocate for vaccination but …”), making dangerous and entirely unevidenced suggestions—for example that perhaps it might be better for most children to actually contract measles, mumps and chicken pox as opposed to getting vaccinated. If only there was some way to find out!

On a post by SJ about some of the structural factors contributing to extreme inequality and lack of social mobility in the US, John regaled us with the myth of the American Dream Nightmare. As usual, John had no idea what he was talking about.

Commenting on one of Don’s posts reporting on a study that found vitamin supplements to be worse than useless, John trashed science-based medicine as faith-based junk, and peer-reviewed medical journal articles as “written by the inmates of the sheltered workshops for the academically gifted.” “To get sound nutritional advice,” he helpfully offered, instead of consulting a physician “most people would be better off going to a vet.” As in, veterinarian. He tied it all up with a misogynist “joke.” (To his credit, he apologized for it after I called him on it.) And I warned him then that if he ever pulled that shit again here, I’d banish him.

Then there was that truly baffling occasion when he dismissed out of hand the precipitous drops in math, science and reading scores of students in the US compared to other countries. He did so by expounding upon fantastical ideas like a “math gene” that only some people have, plus a heretofore unheard of secret cabal of “maths power elite” that “despises people who work with their hands.” He proclaimed math and science education past the level of grade 4 “slavery,” “religious indoctrination” and a childhood-destroying fraud, and urged that instead we really ought to “rate kids on their ability to change a tap washer, run a mile, make their bed (with hospital corners) drive a car and chop wood.”

Yes indeed, these are the quintessential skills that will secure success and prosperity for the US workforce in the 21st century global economy.

It was while handing his ass to him in that thread that I first suspected a case of Conservative Personality Disorder—and once again considered banishing him to prevent him from further embarrassing himself (and much more importantly, from further boring the shit out of me).

WHY OH WHY DIDN’T I DO IT THEN HUH? Alas, this is a question that will haunt Your Humble Monarch™ for the rest of her days. With a single wave of my scepter I could have spared us all from John’s most recent, and quite possibly his most excremental, rantings. As the world’s foremost expert on Conservative Personality Disorder, I really should have seen this coming. So many signs were there! Anti-science, anti-intellectualism, conspiracy theory, casual sexism, BOOTSTRAPS!!!, persecution complex, projection, willful ignorance, fact-averse opining, and—most damning of all—the telltale inability to change one’s mind when the evidence demands it.

How, then, could anyone be surprised that one of his latest blatherings is a specimen of raging xenophobia, Islamophobia, fact-free bigotry, apocalyptic paranoia, blithe entitlement, imperious grandiosity, willful ignorance, anti-multiculturalism, sympathy for violent racists, and implicit support for unconscionable cruelty and a genocidal government—all densely packed into a single, 127-word turdbullet?

I would think that the people of Myanmar have every right to be concerned about the effect that Muslims will have on their culture. If they go by what’s happening in Europe, Muslims will eventually destroy the Myanmar way of life. A small group will become terrorists. The Rohinga will stay in enclaves and refuse to integrate into the Myanmar society. In the face of change they will continue, above all else, to hold on to their a weird superstitious beliefs. They’ll put acting and dressing like Muslims ahead of acting and dressing like Myanmarians. The will stand offside and separate themselves from Myanmar culture. I wouldn’t be so harsh on the people of Myanmar who fear for what their country may look like in 30 years.

Here’s a fun exercise: replace “Muslims” with Mexicans, “terrorists” with criminals, “Myanmar culture” with Our Way of Life™, and violá! It’s instantly a Fox News screed worthy of Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin or even Bill O’Reilly! Or, you know, try it with Jews and Aryan culture, circa 1930s Germany. Or how ’bout Black people and White culture? (Incidentally, here is where I get to pat myself on the back for suggesting in my original post that the racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, ultranationalist, theocratic Ma Ba Tha monks and their supporters might seem oddly familiar to readers. Ahem.)

So then commenter khms—an actual European—politely responded to John that he hears from conservatives all the time that Muslims are destroying European culture, but so far as he can tell, “I can’t see even any indication of a beginning of such a thing.” I, of course, was far less polite (politeness is not my forté after all—that would be mocking conservatives):

What the fuck, John. Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are one of, if not the most persecuted minorities in the world—and that is saying something, my friend. What’s happening in Europe that you’re so concerned about? Are Muslims actually destroying the Western (patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist) “way of life”? No. No, they are not.

By the way, the Rohingya “staying in enclaves and refusing to integrate into the Myanmar society” is not the same thing as being forcibly isolated, exiled and imprisoned. FYI. If only they would act and dress like Real Americans Myanma and believe the correct superstitions (not the “weird” ones), they wouldn’t be such an existential threat to Official Myanmar Culture™. That would be the one dominated by racist, misogynist, right-wing, conservative shitlords.


That was back in November, and I thought (hoped?) that was the end of it. But no. On Tuesday, John posted a response to khms—who is, again, an actual European—to which I shall soon respond. Not on behalf of khms, who is of course free to do so here any time [UPDATE: khms has responded to John here], but simply to relish the opportunity to thoroughly deconstruct the horrifying shitshow that is the mind of John Miller—for the very last time.

Stay tuned for Part 2.



The art of awkward conversation.

[CONTENT NOTE: racism/White Supremacy, xenophobia (FROM AN IMMIGRANT…), fat shaming, food policing, general assholery.]

I mentioned recently that I had been traveling through the region of the country I call Pennsyltucky. I was accompanying My Amazing Lover™ to a conference in Dallas, TX, where I had occasion to take the hotel shuttle to the Dallas Galleria shopping mall. I know, I know: you simply cannot envision Your Humble Monarch™ ever gracing with her presence such a monument to base consumerism, labor exploitation and fluorescent lighting. But you would be wrong for at least three reasons, two of which are generally applicable and one specific to this particular point in spacetime:

  1. New Yorkers don’t really have malls per se, so an opportunity to partake of the same indoor shopping ritual so many of my fellow citizens perform on a regular basis is rare for us indeed. (Yes we have the Manhattan Mall, which is small and always overcrowded and no one I know has ever gone there more than once. WE DON’T EVEN SPEAK OF IT.) An argument could be made that excepting Central Park, the entire island of Manhattan is essentially one enormous shopping mall. But a shopping excursion here is an entirely different experience from mall shopping altogether. For example: weather is a factor.
  2. Cultural anthropology, people. Intrepid journalists and pontificating pundits (such as myself) must go forth from time to time and, horrifying though it may be, bravely gaze with our own eyes upon the suburban American zeitgeist. For instance, one might notice (and then ponder the implications of) the fact that the Dallas Galleria contains not one but two sports memorabilia shops, and not one single book store.
  3. During my travels, a very happy event occurred: the daughter of My Amazing Lover™ gave birth to a gorgeous and healthy baby girl, a few weeks earlier than expected. We wanted to meet her as soon as possible upon our return, and of course no envoy from the Palace would ever dream of doing so without bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh non-toxic age-appropriate gifts. Thus a trip to a shopping mall seemed in order. (Where, by the way, I totally scored some great deals on some cool stuff EXCEPT FOR BOOKS BECAUSE THERE ARE NO BOOKS THERE.) Perhaps somewhat relevant to the rest of this post is the fact that this beautiful child is biracial.

I sat on a bench under a shade tree just outside the entrance to a Banana Republic, waiting for the hotel shuttle’s return. I was soon joined by a middle-aged woman who spoke very good English with a distinct Russian accent. (Let’s call her Elena.) Elena asked if I was with the same group she was and headed back to the same hotel, and I said yes. We made small talk about the weather and the conference hotel and whatever. The rest of our conversation went something like this.


ELENA: The driver that brought me here was so rude.

IRIS: Huh. Mine wasn’t, he was nice and very helpful.

ELENA: Can you believe he had a big sign behind his seat, right in my face, that said “tips are appreciated”? For what? It’s only a five minute drive!

IRIS: Well I gave mine five bucks. Seemed worth it to me—a cab would probably cost more. Plus I have no idea what his pay is, so.

[A group of three young women pass us on their way into the mall. ELENA’s gaze follows them. IRIS ignores them and checks her phone for messages.]

ELENA: Did you know that by 2040 or 2050, white people will be in the minority in this country?

IRIS: [looks up. stares at ELENA.]

ELENA: The same thing is happening to Europe, too. [shakes head disapprovingly.]

IRIS: Good. We’ve certainly done a terrible job and made a HUGE mess of things.

ELENA: …well, I was…um…

IRIS: [*silence*]

ELENA:  …I read that, so…

IRIS: [*silence*]

ELENA: …I was just saying something about what I read…

IRIS: (aside)

wonkaminorityImage: Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, smirking amusedly.

ELENA: …I was just making conversation…so…

IRIS: Yes. This is a conversation.

[Hotel shuttle arrives. ELENA and IRIS climb in and THE DRIVER, who appears black, pulls away.]

ELENA: So Iris where are you from?

IRIS: I live in New York City. Originally from Philadelphia.

ELENA: [points to the “tips are appreciated” sign, rolls her eyes exaggetatedly.] I live in South Carolina, but I’m Russian.

IRIS: Well. That’s quite a difference.

ELENA: Yes it is. You know I have to cook every single meal? Because Southern food is just awful.

IRIS: Huh. [vividly imagines buttered grits, biscuits & gravy, slow-cooked BBQ ribs, fried chicken, peach cobbler, pecan pie, banana pudding…]

ELENA: I tell you, we cannot even go out to eat! Everything at the restaurants is fried! It’s disgusting!

IRIS: It’s delicious.

ELENA: It’s why everyone is so fat!

IRIS: Is it?

ELENA: I cannot eat it! This food!

IRIS: [*silence*]

ELENA: I don’t need it. No one needs it!

IRIS: [*silence*]

ELENA: [stares out the window glumly.] Hmm.

[THE DRIVER soon parks the shuttle in front of the hotel.]

IRIS: [very cheerily] It was so great meeting you Elena! I’ll see you tonight at the cocktail hour!

ELENA: Uh, very nice meeting you too. Yes.

[IRIS makes a beeline toward the hotel bar.]



Hat tip to the amazing Captain Awkward, who frequently reminds me that whenever people say shitty things, it’s okay to let the horrid stench of their verbal poo linger in the air, without response or acknowledgement of any kind. This has a tendency to make them very uncomfortable, which when you think about it is really an ideal result.

Recent reads.

library4FOIA Documents Reveal Massive DEA Program to Record American’s Whereabouts With License Plate Readers. Stein, B., ACLU (Jan. 2015).

DHS intelligence report warns of domestic right-wing terror threat. Perez, E. and Bruer, W., CNN (Feb. 2015). [h/t SJ] (“Some federal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to — and in some cases greater than — the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups”) [No shit. –Ed.]

Editor of major newspaper says he planted stories for CIA. Lopez, R., Digital Journal (Jan. 2015). [Quelle surprise. –Ed.]

The U.S. Media and the 13-Year-Old Yemeni Boy Burned to Death Last Month by a U.S. Drone. Greenwald, G., The Intercept (Feb. 2015). (“Most Americans, by design, will have no idea that their government just burned a 13-year-old boy to death and then claimed he was a Terrorist.”)

Obama administration to allow sales of armed drones to allies. Ryan, M., The Washington Post (Feb. 2015). [Finally! Now other countries can enjoy burning 13-year-olds to death too! –Ed.]

1 In 3 College Men In Survey Say They Would Rape A Woman If They Could Get Away With It. Culp-Ressler, T., Think Progress (Jan. 2015). [ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. –Ed.]

How Israeli High-Tech Firms Are Turning the U.S.-Mexico Border into a New Kind of Hell. Miller, T. and Schivone, G., TomDispatch via AlterNet (Jan. 2015).

The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle. Scahill, J. and Begley, J., The Intercept (Feb. 2015). (“The hack…gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.”)

To the Parent of the Unvaccinated Child Who Exposed My Family to Measles. Jacks, T., Mother Jones (Feb. 2015). (“When your child gets sick, others are endangered—including my daughter with cancer.”) [To the parent of that unvaccinated child from Perry Street Palace: FUCK YOU. –Ed.]

What Not To Wear After 50. Combs, C., Better After 50 (Feb. 2015). (“Resting bitch face. Hahahahaha. Just kidding. Wear that one all you want.”)

I’m Brianna Wu, And I’m Risking My Life Standing Up To Gamergate. Wu, B., Bustle (Feb. 2015).

Natural Deception: Conned By the World Congress of Families. Parke, C., Political Research Associates (Jan. 2015). (“the organization is leading a global legislative and public relations campaign against LGBTQ and reproductive rights.”) [They seem nice. –Ed.]

Jeb ‘Put Me Through Hell’. Kruse, M., Politico Magazine (Jan. 2015). (“Michael Schiavo knows as well as anyone what Jeb Bush can do with executive power. He thinks you ought to know too.”)

Here Are 25 Jokes That Only Nerds Will Understand. If You Laugh Then Yep, You’re A Nerd! Boredom Therapy (Jul. 2014).

The Anti-Vaccine Movement Should Be Ridiculed, Because Shame Works. Novak, M., Gizmodo (Feb. 2015). [Hear, hear! He must be reading my blog! This d00d disagrees, though, and says “People who are told their deeply held beliefs are stupid tend to withdraw from the conversation.” Um, perhaps someone can ‘splain to me why getting these assholes to shut the fuck up would be a bad thing? I mean, there is a reason unvaccinated children with measles are found in clusters, and that reason is anti-vaxxers spreading their deeply held beliefs deadly bad ideas to others. –Ed.]

FBI monitored and critiqued African American writers for decades. Flood, A., The Guardian (Feb. 2015).

Policing Our Girls. Hutchinson, S., blackfemlens (Feb. 2015).

Gay People Posting Photos Of Gay People On Facebook Is Persecuting Christians Says Perkins. Badash, D., The New Civil Rights Movement (Jan. 2015). [To all mah gay peeps: go forth and persecute. –Ed.]

Something Really, Really Terrible Is About to Happen to Our Coral. Philpott, T., Mother Jones (Jan. 2015). [I hate people. Have I mentioned that I hate people? Well, I hate people. –Ed.]

How secular family values stack up. Zuckerman, P., The Los Angeles Times (Feb. 2015). (“Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of religion, secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children”) [h/t SJ]

Why science is so hard to believe. Achenbach, J., Washington Post (Feb. 2015).

10 Senate Ds Think Drillers Should Be Able to Inject Whatever the Frack They Want into Your Water. Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, Daily Kos (Jan. 2015). [In case you’re wondering who these motherfrackers are: Michael Bennet (D-CO), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Warner (D-VA). –Ed.]

Obama, Biden & Pelosi Lobbying Hard for TPP. Publius, G., Hullabaloo (Feb. 2015).

Source Code Similarities: Experts Unmask ‘Regin’ Trojan as NSA Tool. Rosenbach, M., Spiegel Online InternationaI (Jan. 2015).

Oklahoma Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly To Ban Advanced Placement U.S. History. Legum, J., ThinkProgress (Feb. 2015). [Christ. Doesn’t Oklahoma have enough problems already with all the earthquakes from fracking? –Ed.]

No good deed goes unpunished. Vermont Political Observer (Jan. 2015). (“What I did not anticipate was the vitriolic verbal assault from those who don’t know the difference between the Classics and illegal immigrants from South America.”) [D000000000d. Have you never been on the Internet? –Ed.]

Indisputable proof that prosecutors and politicians are penalized when they hold police accountable. King, S., Daily Kos (Jan. 2015).

Is the US the only country where more men are raped than women? Filipovic, J., The Guardian (Feb. 2015). [American exceptionalism, y’all. –Ed.]

5 Bizarre Realities of Being a Man Who Was Raped by a Woman. Anonymous, via Mannen, A., Cracked (Jan. 2015).

Pipeline explodes in West Virginia. Gardner, F., Daily Kos (Jan. 2013). (“This is the fourth major pipeline incident that’s occurred this month.”)

Hobby Lobby 2: Inside Republicans’ Plan to Kill America’s Most Effective Anti-Teen-Pregnancy Program. Baumann, N., Mother Jones (Feb. 2015). (“An innovative program has reduced the abortion rate and saved a state millions. Here’s why it’s doomed.”) [SPOILER ALERT! Because conservatives. –Ed.]

Black teens who commit a few crimes go to jail as often as white teens who commit dozens. Ehrenfreund, M., The Washington Post (Jan. 2015).

Here’s What It’s Like For A Woman To Send a Job Rejection To A Man. Creighton, J., Medium (Feb. 2015).

Liberal Racism: 25 Things I Learned After I Wrote About ISIS and White Racism at the Daily Kos. DeVega, C., Daily Kos (Feb. 2015).

Women Being Inexpertly Groped In Western Art History. Ortberg, M., The Toast (Feb. 2015). [NSFW] [Hahaha. –Ed.]


PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Rubio redux: Guest Post by Steven Jonas.

Longtime Loyal Reader™ Steven Jonas, MD, MPH sent the Palace effusive praise on Don Ardell’s latest post, Marco Rubio’s Highest Value: Nonsensical, Disturbing and Dangerous. The good Dr. Jonas pointed us to his own column for BUZZFLASH at TRUTHOUT from September on the subject of the very same doucheweasel. He invited us to repost it here as a companion piece to Don’s, noting:

I think that mine on the same subject (Rubio) and yours complement each other very well, mine more political-historical, yours more humanistological (yes, a neologism, I think, intended as the opposite of “theological”).

We are delighted to take him up on his kind invitation. (The bad news, I’m afraid, is that Loyal Readers™ will now have to wait a day or two for my masterful and comprehensive treatise on the finger sandwiches I made for Mothers Day.)

Please give a warm Palace welcome to Dr. Steven Jonas.


Marco Rubio, “Faith,” and the Coming Religious Wars

Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) gave a speech on the last night of the Republican National Convention. The GOP loves him because he is one of those relatively rare Latino politicians who call the GOP home. He of course rigorously supports GOP policies, except when it comes to illegal immigration. On that one, if you listen carefully, he takes no position, except that whatever President Obama has done (and he has presided the deportation of more undocumented aliens [mainly Latinos] than any other President) is wrong. Another little problem for Rubio has been that for years we were told that his parents were “defectors” (otherwise known as “emigrants”) from “Castro’s Cuba,” until it was discovered that they actually left the US-supported dictator Batista’s Cuba four years before the Cuban Revolution.

At any rate, there was one particular paragraph in Rubio’s speech that caught many ears. It came when he was talking about the US people, and what is “special” about us:

“We are special because we’ve been united not by a common race or ethnicity. We’re bound together by common values. That family is the most important institution in society. That almighty God is the source of all we have. . . . Our national motto is ‘In God we Trust,’ reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.”

Fascinating stuff, especially for someone who was born Catholic, as a teenager, when his family was living in Las Vegas, converted to Mormonism, and then converted back to Catholicism upon their return to Florida (1). Presumably, he made some changes-in-values on that trip. Nevertheless, let’s see just what might be the “common values” he referred to in his speech.

It’s certainly true that we are not united by “race or ethnicity.” The European settlers virtually eliminated the original inhabitants of what became the United States, enslaved members of another ethnic group brought here against their will, some of the descendants of those European settlers still practice discrimination against both, and some of the same have added Latinos, both those whose ancestors were here long before the Euros arrived and more recent arrivals, to that list. So in that he is quite correct.

Now what about “common values” by which we might be “bound together?” Well, I for one, for example, don’t share any of, for example, the most basic values held by Mitt Romany (2). As for family, while mine is central in my life, there are plenty of people who either A) don’t have one with which they relate much at all or B) can’t stand theirs if they do.

But then we come to the “God” thing. First of all, there are plenty of us who don’t believe that there is a deity or even a group of them. (An increasing number of us secular humanists are “coming out of the closet” on this one; as for me, coming from a secular household I’ve been out of it for as long as I can remember.) Second of all, as for the “In God we Trust” thing, that slogan, hardly a “national motto” adhered to by all of us, was adopted by Congress in 1952, at the height of McCarthyism and the domestic/international campaign against “godless Communism.”

Just for Sen. Rubio’s information (and he should know this; having been to law school he presumably has read the Constitution, and maybe even studied it in a Constitutional Law course), the word “God” does not appear anywhere in that one document that could be considered to establish the common values for our nation and our people. In its only references to religion, in Article VI and Amendment I, the Constitution prohibits the establishment of any religious qualifications for elected office, and ensconces the principle of the separation of church and state in our national polity.

Finally, Senator, “faith in our Creator” is hardly the most important value of all, for many U.S. citizens. Among other things, it is a pretty undefined term, even for those of the theistic persuasion. Let’s see what that kind of policies taking that position can lead to. Why in your party it leads to the religion-based homophobia, misogyny, and religious authoritarianism on abortion rights that now dominate your platform and political agenda. “God” itself is a pretty undefined concept. A personal God, who is in one’s life at all times? A general guider of things? A force that established the world and then left it to its own devices, the concept at the center of the Deism adhered to by many of the founders? Or perhaps there is more than one, as the Hindus hold. A being with whom one can have conversations, as the Presidential nominee of your party apparently thinks that he does (2)?

And then we can get to a banner seen outside the RNC (selected elements): “Why do you love the devil? Homos, Feminists, Mormons, Buddhists, Catholics, Atheists, Democrats, Environmentalists, Racists, Scientologists, Muslims, Loud Mouth Women, Liberals, Sophisticated Swine, and Sports Nuts (Hey, I’m one of those; how did we get included?): Repent and Believe in Jesus.” This is not, of course, (current) GOP policy. But European Christians slaughtered each in the hundreds of thousands in the 16th and 17th centuries over disputes about who “really believed in Jesus” and who was, or was not “repentant,” (disagreeing too over what that word meant). “Jesus?” Just who’s Jesus is this person talking about? The Catholics’? The Mormons’? The Presbyterians? (To say nothing of the Jews’ or the Muslims’.) Very dangerous territory is being approached here.

Rubio talked about “God” and “faith.” But his concept of “God” is, for example, one that would sanction the criminalization of any religious belief about when life begins other than his. Yes indeed, if this kind of thinking is allowed to spread, indeed if it allowed taking over our country, look out, everyone. Indeed, a modern version of religious war, much more lethal even than its historical predecessors, could well be just around the corner.

One observer recently put it very well: “The Founding Fathers knew the only way to insure religious freedom and to maintain democracy is to keep religion and government separate. We cannot allow our government to endorse religion even slightly for it’s a thin line from endorse to enforce” (3). Mark Marco and his party well on this one, my friends. Mark them well.


1.       Avlon, J., “Who is Marco Rubio?’

2.       Jonas, S., “Mitt Romney’s Core Values,” BuzzFlash@Truthout on Thu, 07/19/2012, URL:

3.       Cottle, B., “Myths and Truths About Atheism,”


Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being a columnist for BuzzFlash/Truthout (,, he is the Managing Editor of and a Contributing Author to His most recent book, The 15% Solution, is available at online retailers and Barnes & Noble.  (See Palace review here.)

Engineering a win-win for U.S. businesses and the American middle class.

[Cross-posted at The Political Junkies for Progressive Democracy.]

A recent article in Financial Times reports:

US employers have breached the annual visa cap for hiring highly skilled workers from other countries after only five days, the shortest application season since 2008 and a sign that the economic recovery is strengthening.

It comes as the Senate prepares to discuss a comprehensive immigration reform bill, perhaps as soon as next week, and will increase pressure on lawmakers to think creatively to meet businesses’ demands for more visas…

Under current law, the government can issue only 85,000 H-1B visas each year – 65,000 to highly skilled private sector workers such as engineers and computer programmers, and 20,000 to those with advanced graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics [“STEM”] fields from US universities.

But demand is always much greater, leading to calls to raise the caps.

The H-1B visa phenomenon provides a curious counterpoint to the oft-stated conventional wisdom that American middle class jobs are irretrievably moving overseas solely because foreign labor is so much cheaper.  In certain sectors this is undeniably true, particularly for industries that rely on low-skilled workers for high-volume manufacturing jobs, for reasons that include thousands of employees willing to live on-site in company dormitories and work 12 hour shifts six days a week for the low, low price of $17 a day.  (You know:  the grand vision conservatives have for the American workforce.)  But the strange thing is that middle class jobs in the tech sector are a casualty of cheaper foreign labor here.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Critics of the H-1B visa program say corporations only want to import foreign labor in order to pay them less and provide fewer benefits than they would Americans, and this is true in some cases.  But American businesses also have a fair point:  the U.S. is failing to produce enough citizens with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) backgrounds to meet their immediate needs.  Virtually no one disputes that.  The question is why?  There is no shortage of STEM schools here, which is what accounts for those 20,000 additional visas awarded yearly to foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.

Part of the answer is that the H-1B visa program has been expertly exploited by outsourcing companies, particularly from India.  These companies garner a wildly disproportionate share of H-1B visas, and then lease these workers to U.S. companies.  It is no small problem.  For example, Facebook can attract and afford the best tech talent in the world, yet it received only 307 H-1B workers.  ExxonMobil:  only 58.  In fact, the vast majority of companies participating in the H-1B visa program obtain only one or two.  But outsourcing companies like Cognizant and Tata obtain thousands.

Consider, too, that American companies must dedicate significant resources to find and recruit every qualified job applicant with the skill set they seek, and then file a visa application on their behalf — often paying thousands in legal fees per applicant — all without any guarantee that the applicant will actually receive a visa.  Eliminating all of the overhead and uncertainty makes outsourcing companies particularly attractive as a way to meet the need for skilled labor.  But profitability for the outsourcing company is driven by the sheer volume of workers it provides, and the portion it can extract for itself from the amount of pay that would otherwise go directly to workers.  As outsourcing companies compete against each other for U.S. clients on the basis of price, salaries that American companies pay for skilled tech labor are kept down.

Outsourcing companies are not just exploiting loopholes in the H-1B program either, they’re exploiting their workers.  Some are paid in rupees deposited directly into Indian banks: they survive on a stipend paid with a debit card and live with six or eight coworkers in a two-bedroom apartment.  Perversely, the outsourcing business model worsens the very problem the H-1B program was meant to address:  the dearth of skilled American workers, who understandably view downward pressure on wages and tech workers being treated like disposable commodities by American companies as disincentives to pursue tech careers.

With so many companies seeking a share of those 65,000 visas and hitting the cap in less than five days, many open positions simply remain unfilled.  It’s no wonder companies are lobbying to get the cap on the number of H1-B visas raised or eliminated entirely:  they argue that the market and not the government should determine how many visas are issued.  While that strikes me as a truly terrible idea, they have a genuine need that remains unaddressed.  Letting positions that would increase productive capacity remain unfilled handicaps American businesses in a global market that is already aggressively addressing this problem.  China and its neighbors have rapidly expanded their science and engineering capabilities by investing in engineering education and research:  since 2000, the number of doctoral degrees in engineering awarded in China has more than doubled and now far exceeds the number awarded in the U.S.

None of this bodes particularly well for U.S. prominence in a high-tech future.

But this is not an argument for expanding the H-1B visa program, because the very program itself is a boon to foreign competitors.  H-1B visas are good for three years, and only renewable for another three years for a maximum of six.  At this point the worker returns home or goes elsewhere in the global job market, with a top-notch skill set and 3-6 years of recent industry experience.  The program results in more than a loss of good-paying tech careers for American citizens.  It is also helping to build the workforce of the future.  Elsewhere.

If the U.S. committed today to providing education grants in science, technology, engineering and math, in a few years it would be churning out qualified graduates of its own, with no student debt, ready to work.  (Of course those other nations are not burdened with a deficit-obsessed, austerity-crazed political and media class infatuated with the zombie mantra of “small government” like the U.S. is, at the expense of its own work force and its domestic economy.  But that’s another column.)  Where would these newly minted American graduates work?  Well, Microsoft alone has been trying to fill 44,852 jobs in the U.S., with an average salary higher than $90k.  That is not exactly minimum wage.  These are some of the positions Microsoft is looking to fill:  Software Development Engineers, Senior Software Development Engineers, Premier Field Engineers, Support Engineers, Computer Software Engineers (Applications), Computer Software Engineers (Systems), Computer Hardware Engineers, Lead Software Development Engineers, Senior Support Escalation Engineers, Senior Support Engineers, Lead Software Development Engineers.  Does anyone believe a U.S. citizen with an engineering degree and no student debt would not want those jobs?


The benefit to U.S. corporations and the economy is so obvious it’s hardly worth stating:  a domestic workforce with the skills and knowledge to drive technological innovation and growth, which China and India will have in abundance.  If we were serious about it we could probably wind down the H-1B visa program entirely by 2020.  But we are not serious about it.  If we were, we would close the H-1B outsourcing loophole and invest in science and engineering education for our citizens like our global competitors do.

Instead, we have a bipartisan consensus among the Senate and President Obama now pushing to lift the H-1B visa cap, as high as 300,000.