Archive for April, 2010

Welcome to Arizona! Latinos, Please Have Your Passports Ready

April 25, 2010

I’ve got good news for Democrats in my adopted state. The Arizona governor signed SB 1070 into law and Oklahoma no longer has the distinction of having the nation’s stupidest toughest anti-immigration law. Arizona’s Draconian measures beat ours hands down. We no longer live in the most anti-Mexican state in the Union!

Check out the enforcement mechanism that the Arizona law contains. It “requires a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town or political subdivision (political subdivision) if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.” (http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/summary/s.1070pshs.doc.htm).

You’ve got to love the phrase “reasonable suspicion.” What on earth does that mean? The Arizona governor has issued an executive order mandating guidelines to prevent racial profiling. I can’t wait to see what they are. How do you avoid racial profiling if all you need is “reasonable suspicion?”

The law specifically states that Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) may not solely consider race, color or national origin (http://hotair.com/archives/2010/04/24/correction-the-actual-arizona-immigration-bill/). Unfortunately, the law doesn’t require a “preponderance of evidence” or “probable cause.” Thus it actually allows for the possibility for a LEO to add just one other factor. For example, a LEO could use color (“Here’s a brown-skinned person with black hair and dark-brown eyes”) and language proficiency or lack thereof (“They speak very broken English”) to stop somebody and demand proof of citizenship. Or the LEO could take color and geographic location (“They were in a location known to be frequented by illegal immigrants”) to be the basis for an enforcement action. After all, two factors are all that is needed for “reasonable suspicion” to not be solely based on race, color or national origin.

Most supporters of this new Arizona law are quick to point out that they are champions of the rule of law. I’m guessing that also means that they support the U.S. Constitution. Last time I checked, the 4th Amendment read as follows: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The standard of probable cause requires that an arresting officer needs to have something more substantial than “Looking and Sounding Mexican” or “Looking Mexican in a Bad Neighborhood” as the basis for the arrest. Unfortunately for the millions of Latinos that are hard-working, law-abiding citizens, in Arizona the 4th Amendment is being taken as the 4th Suggestion. They don’t need probable cause any more, they only need reasonable suspicion to ask you to produce proof of citizenship.

My advice to Latinos who have to live, work, or travel in Arizona is to carry your papers at all times. A U.S. Passport is the best; after all, you can fill out an I-9 with just that one document. If all you have is a driver’s license and a notarized birth certificate, then you’ll just have to hope that your birth certificate is accepted as a real one.

After all, Arizona State House representatives have recently passed a controversial ‘birther bill’ that would require any United States presidential candidates to be able to prove that they were actually born in the country as is required by the Constitution. It’s not law yet, but the motivation for the bill is the widespread belief among Republicans that our President doesn’t have a legitimate birth certificate. That would make him an illegal alien, wouldn’t it?

If Barack Obama would have trouble proving  to the satisfaction of Republicans in Arizona that he’s a citizen of the U.S. using only his driver’s license and his birth certificate, ordinary Latinos have no chance. If you haven’t already, get your passports now!

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My First Attempt At Yellow Journalism

April 16, 2010

For some reason I really wanted to try my hand at yellow journalism. After all, it’s so popular these days, I figured that it wouldn’t sully my reputation like it might have in days gone by. I’m putting my bluechristian journalism (soon to be trade-marked) piece first. Then you can read the original for yourself. It’s so easy to just spew verbiage without fact-checking, but I’ll try not to make a habit of it. 

BlueChristian Journalism Example

Ruled By Idealogues – An American’s View

One of my favorite lines from the New Testament appears in 1 John 3:17: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” It is hard to swallow the fact that Evangelicals are content to vote in a lot of loveless Christians to serve in Congress and to support a party that has no vision for America. Who else but loveless Christians and the Party of No would choose to bolster the pocket books of the insurance companies, for-profit healthcare agencies, and big pharmaceutical companies while withholding pity on their fellow Americans in need?

The notion that, in the face of scripture, Evangelicals would continue to ignore the doctrines of Christ and deny healthcare coverage to their brethren in need demonstrates that the love of God is no longer in the Evangelical churches. The fact that Evangelicals would choose to believe that the GAO is wrong and that the recently passed health insurance reforms are an expansion of entitlement programs is testament to the fact that, like Adam and Eve, we have chosen to call a lie truth and the truth a lie.

And it’s not like there aren’t any voices of reason. Respectable, non-partisan organizations have examined the healthcare legislation and decided to support it. Included on the list are: American Association of Retired Persons, American Medical Association, American Association of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Center for Social and Economic Justice, Commonwealth Institute, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, League of United Latin American Citizens, NAACP, National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, National Consumers League, National Council of Jewish Women, National Congress of American Indians, Women’s Health Foundation, etc. The list is a very long one. The problem is that Evangelicals won’t listen to the voices of reason. We have abandoned the doctrines of Christ and formed an unholy alliance with a political party that professes to care for the unborn but heaps scorn upon the already-born poor. We have failed the basic test. Will they know we are Christians by our love?

I am all for Christians being involved in politics, but like millions of thinking Americans I am baffled by Evangelical Christians inability to question the ideology the Republican party has been spewing. It is frightening that the lies and distortions of loveless Christians have the upper hand in the arena of public opinion. Published originally in 1927, the now classic novel, “Elmer Gantry” spelled out what happens when individuals use religion as a tool for social advancement. It is a portrait of the selfishness and hypocrisy of one who pretends to be a Christian while living a life far removed from biblical principals. To unsaved people, the Evangelical churches have become filled with Elmer Gantrys.

Timothy Potter, Evangelical Free Press
April 16, 2010

The Original (For Purposes of Comparison)

Ruled By Children

One of my favorite lines from the New Testament appears in Corinthians II, Chapter 13, verse 11: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, but when I became a man, I put aside childish things.”  It is hard to shake the notion that Americans have voted a lot of children to serve in Congress and the greatest child of all, Barack Obama, to be our president. Who else but children would continue to enact new programs that “entitle” Americans to receive all manner of services for which there is no money?…

The notion that, in the face of this reality, the Democrat-controlled Congress would create an expanded Medicare entitlement, adding millions to its rolls while slashing a half trillion from its funds (taking over one sixth of the nation’s economy) is so astonishingly stupid it defies beliefThis is what happens when children are in charge and some 330 million Americans are about to discover what it is like to live in a third world nation. The 12 to 20 million illegal aliens in our midst already know what that is like. It is the reason they came here.

It’s not like Americans don’t know how serious the problem is. They showed up at town hall meetings last summer. They showed up in the hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C. last September. Thousands attended a huge Tea Party rally in Searchlight, Nevada last month.  The problem is that children are in charge in Congress. The problem is also that a child, abandoned by his birth father, then by his step-father, and finally by his mother, is president.

I am all for representative democracy in the conduct of our republic, but like millions of Americans I am baffled by our inability to have any impact whatever on those currently holding political power in Congress; the Democrats. It is cold comfort that we must wait until November 2, 2010 to rid ourselves of them.
Publishing originally in 1954, the now classic novel, “Lord of the Flies” spelled out what happens when a group of British schoolboys are shipwrecked on an island. It is a portrait of cruelty and lawlessness until they are rescued by adults. There is nobody left to rescue America except its adults.

Alan Caruba, Canada Free Press
April 9, 2010

Love live yellow journalism? I don’t think so. There’s too much bold print in it.

Why Senator Coburn Really Says No

April 15, 2010

From his current e-mail message, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma tells why the Republicans say “No.” Here’s his example:

“Though it has failed to receive many headlines, a recent Inspector General investigation revealed that of the $5 billion in stimulus funds the Department of Energy awarded for its home weatherization assistance program, very little has been accomplished. Advertised as among the most “shovel ready” stimulus programs, less than 5 percent of projects have been finished and an [sic] in many states, zero projects have been completed. Despite all of these failures, the Department of Energy awarded itself $270 million of the stimulus funds to “administer” the program.”

Senator Coburn provides a link to the report from which he gathered the facts listed above. I think he mischaracterizes the report’s findings knowing that few will take the time to read it. I did. Here’s my take.
 
First, here we have a program that was designed to benefit the folks receiving weatherization assistance (they would have lower energy bills thus freeing more money for themselves to purchase goods and services) and to benefit the economies of the states themselves (because they would hire workers to complete the projects, thus fighting high unemployment by actually employing people). That’s good government, getting a double benefit for the money spent. A perfect example of stimulus spending. That’s they way it’s supposed to work.
 
But it hasn’t. At least not so far. Why not?
 
The report tells why. The Stimulus Act required that the states pay the weatherization laborers the prevailing wage. The problem is, the states had never done that before and no one knew what the prevailing wage was. It took till October 2009 to determine what to pay the laborers and virtually all states waited until then to start any projects. Other problems arose. For example, some states put hiring freezes in place and decided they couldn’t hire weatherization laborers even though their wages would have come from the federal grants and not state budgets. Other states decided not to work on getting the grants approved because they were busy resolving budget-related issues to the exclusion of getting money to work on weatherization projects. Some states missed the application deadlines by as much as 6 months.
 
Any reasonable person would look at the report and conclude that it was various state governments (with the notable exception of Ohio) that dropped the ball here. It’s not that any money was wasted. It simply wasn’t spent. The folks responsible for spending the money couldn’t get their acts together enough to plan to spend the grants. (Note: the program has a duration of 3 years and may yet show fruit).
 
So, who loses because of the failure of the states to take advantage of this stimulus money?
 
First, the states themselves. In difficult economic times, there’s no excuse for not taking federal money and paying people to complete weatherization projects. It’s a win-win situation for the states. But, there are other folks who lose out because of the incompetency of the states. The grants were exclusively reserved to improve the energy efficiency of nearly 590,000 residences of low-income citizens. The states have failed to perform a basic Christian duty of having charity towards the poor. They could have worked harder to get the grant applications completed and turned in and then worked on the projects. But they didn’t. After all, it’s not as if low-income people vote in large numbers in primary elections. Again, the poor are ignored by people in power and the consequences are to rob the poor of the chance to have more spending money and to rob the state of having more jobs.
 
Interestingly, Coburn claims that the figure of $270 million that was reserved for administering the grant program amounted to waste. Let’s put that claim to the test. To check the administrative overhead we divide 270,000,000 by 5,000,000,000 to find out that 5% of the monies for the program were reserved for administrative purposes. It is considered to be a measure of good stewardship when a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization has an administrative overhead of 10%. I’d say the DoE is doing a good job with the money. They are being responsible, not irresponsible.
 
Coburn on the other hand is truly irresponsible. He wants to stir up anger so that the public will call for the cancellation of a project with a double benefit of aiding the poor and creating jobs. He method is to distort the truth expecting the public to not examine his argument carefully. It looks to me like this “Family Doctor” isn’t too keen on helping the poor families that would have their homes weatherized. This “Citizen Legislator” doesn’t seem to care about some of his poorer fellow-citizens. This “Independent Voice” sounds just like a typical Republican, expecting those who need a helping hand to help themselves while denying any responsibility towards their general welfare. His brother’s keeper? Senator Coburn is not.

I think Senator Coburn should be highlighting the failures of the program for the purpose of getting the barriers to implementation removed, not trying to get the program cancelled. Instead of removing the weatherization program, we should vote Coburn out of office and replace him with someone who has a little more common sense.