A theme park for illegal aliens opens in Mexico
. Ticket price: about $13.50. I guess it beats the real thing, where people pay a couple hundred bucks to wade across the Rio Grande or trudge through the desert at night. Still, in Mexico can't you wander through the desert for free?
And while I'm on the Homeland Security round-up, here
's something else I missed over Christmas.Skinner's audit deals not only with the department's response to Katrina but also with an array of broader management challenges that have troubled DHS. The department brought together immigration and customs agencies, the Secret Service, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration, among others. Although there has been progress, "integrating its many separate components in a single, effective and economical department remains one of DHS' biggest challenges," the audit said.
The report found, among other things, that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has failed to maintain proper financial records; that much of the department's technology infrastructure remains fractured and ineffective; and that DHS faces "formidable challenges in securing the nation's borders."Skinner also reiterated complaints about poor coordination between the border patrol and immigration investigators. Chertoff has rejected Skinner's recommendation that the agencies responsible for these employees be merged.
I've noticed one criticism that has been popping up in all sorts of news stories, and I don't think it's a valid one: speed. Katrina - why hasn't the entire state of Louisiana been evacuated three days after the storm hit? Pakistan earthquake - it's been two days, why haven't there been any relief efforts in the remote villages yet? DHS - it's been almost three years, why isn't the merger of 100,000+ people into a single department running smoothly yet? A lot of that criticism simply seems to ignore the laws of time and space. Sure, there are a lot of other problems, and with DHS the whole idea of whether the new structure is an effective one also has to be taken into consideration, but there seems to be no recognition of the fact that things take time to organize and to get done.
UPDATE: Comment on the report from Debbie Schlussel, who writes a lot on immigration matters in general and ICE in particular:We're just advocating a modicum of attention to our border problems, immigration problems, ICE problems, and basically the mess that is DHS, in which Chertoff has done little in this past year "on the job." Chertoff could start by applying a little Talmudic skills that his rabbi father must surely have learned . . . such as studying the text of the DHS Inspector General reports and following some of the advice therein.
Everyone in the office was talking about this article
today. The title of the series is great: PRELUDE TO DISASTER: The Making of DHS. It rings true from my perspective.
In retrospect, it seems obvious that the whole thing wasn't thought through (my office, for instance, is one of those small places that really didn't fit too well on the simplified org chart). It required strong leadership to articulate departmental vision and try to bring everyone on board. Instead, we got this:Justice officials believed DHS had "too much focus on marketing and not enough on substantive delivery," in the words of one aide to then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. "They were consumed with their public perception," said Mark Corallo, an Ashcroft spokesman
That whole thing about the branding? Absolutely true. In fact, that was one of the first things I remember about the merger - the guidelines about proper use of departmental branding and the like seemed like the number one priority from headquarters. Note to you branding people: cool gray on punched up blue may sound like nice colors, but it's tough to make a legible Power Point slide with them. With all the problems facing the department, the big priority for the first year was the pins. Mine is in a box somewhere.
Then there was "a modest proposal to a Cabinet-level "principals" meeting -- a new "border-centric" agency that would bring together immigration officers, customs agents and other border-related personnel then scattered around the government. No Cabinet secretaries supported him.
"The only person at the time that thought it was a good idea was yours truly," Ridge recalled.
It might have worked if they'd actually merged the agencies doing immigration work, but instead INS and Customs were broken apart, then put back together as three agencies. From what I've heard, things haven't been working out too well at all. Loads of experienced people who know immigration law are leaving, and the new people on the borders aren't able to pick up the slack because they're expected to be generalists. Every time I hear from one of my old colleagues from the airport days, I'm more and more thankful that I got out when I did!
I can hardly wait for tomorrow's exciting installment.
Going to the mall in December is a bad thing, but at least I'm done with my Christmas shopping, so I don't have to go back. This is a good thing, because the gridlock in Tyson's Corner is something to behold. Unfortunately I beheld it as I crept along in it.
So to avoid the traffic on an after-work return trip (poor planning on my part), I ducked into the movies to see "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". It was just about perfect. I am one of those rabid fans of the series who could practically recite some of the dialog, and the changes and additions they did make really did help move the movie along. There may be a return trip in my future! And it looks like they could move on to "Prince Caspian"
. Hopefully they'll make it to "The Horse and his Boy", which is my favorite in the series.
But despite the success of Narnia, all is not well in Hollywoodland. No, the one that was supposed to thrash all the competition, "King Kong", is apparently not living up to expectations
, and that's causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth. I don't know why this is really a surprise - the movie's three hours long, and unless they made some big changes in this version, Kong dies at the end, so it's kind of a downer to boot. All things considered, I'd just as soon wait for the DVD instead of plonking down twenty bucks for it.
As for the other highly touted movies of the season, feh. The gay cowboy movie looks dreadfully dull - going by the publicity material, it doesn't look like anything much happens. Then there's the movie about a transsexual. Yawn. "Syriana"? "The Family Stone"? "Cheaper by the Dozen 2"? "The Producers" can't come out fast enough.
Good news: I finished the bulk of my Christmas shopping this evening, so I don't have to go back to a mall for the rest of the year.
Bad news: there are a lot of really ugly clothes out there.
Next time you're tempted to explain away a typo as nothing of any importance, think about this
The past week at work was not fun, to say the least, since so many people were on leave that in addition doing whatever it is I do, I got to pick up the slack for doing whatever it is my co-workers do (and I'm still not totally clear on what that is for some of them).
All the attention to work has meant no attention to my apartment, which has since descended into squalor. It's not like it's tidy even at the best of times, since I seem to thrive on clutter, but now it's bad even by my low standards. So this weekend's big exciting plans are to stay inside where it's warm and try to clean the place up a bit. More than once I've asked myself where all this crap comes from.
And this answer is the U.S. Postal Service. I've just spent an hour sorting the non-bill pile, which is a huge stack of catalogs, credit card offers and various and sundry demands for money. I once made the mistake of responding to one of those public television requests for money, and since then WETA has been blitzing my mailbox, begging for more. And maybe, just maybe, if it didn't look like they spent my previous donation exclusively on direct mail solicitations for more donations, I might be inclined to give them more.