Friday, July 30, 2010

Senator John Kerry Wants Me

John Kerry Wants Me

I received a letter from Senator John Kerry the other day on behalf of the DSCC. Senator Kerry wants me. I’m thrilled, elated. Senator Kerry knows I exist. Either that or he bought my name from an environmental mailing list. Probably the latter, but the former is more ego gratifying.

Actually I didn’t even know the letter came from Senator Kerry until I flipped it over to see his name on the return address with the following initials “DSCC.” At least I didn’t flip it off.

The front of the envelope had this message on it:
“I have a message … We’ve come to take our government back,” quoting Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul.

I like that statement. We must take our government back before it goes the way of Greece, where 1/3 of the workers are employed by government, which is bankrupt.

I was relieved when I opened the envelope. The Senator was requesting a contribution of $15 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC). I had been petrified “DSCC” stood for a deadly, infectious disease. It’s only a deadly dose of Keynesian economics.

The actual contribution form had a range of gifts ranging from $5 to $50. For a limited offer, $35 contribution I can get a DSCC “Let’s Make Lasting Change” recycled tote bag.

$5 – how low have the Democrats sunk; how desperate are they for contributions? Powerful senators like Kerry, Schumer and Dodd routinely raise millions in campaign contributions. They have no need for us “small people” except in campaign rhetoric. Senator Dodd long ago sold his soul to the finance industry.

I’m also relieved. I was scared Senator Kerry was seeking a contribution to pay the $437,500 Massachusetts sales tax on Isabel, his new yacht moored in Rhode Island, or the $70,000 in annual excise taxes on Isabel.

Senator Kerry is one of those liberals who believe in raising taxes that others should pay. The Obama Administration, led by Treasury Secretary Geithner, is full of tax scofflaws.

Senator Kerry’s explanation was that Isabel had a hole in it and had to be berthed in Rhode Island “for long-term maintenance, upkeep and charter purposes” since the yacht was designed by a Rhode Island yacht designer and purchased in Rhode Island.

It was built in New Zealand though so he probably should keep it moored and maintained in New Zealand.

The yacht cost $7 million to build, and in another tax evading technicality is registered to Great Point LLC, a limited liability corporation based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

With the spotlight shining on him, Senator Kerry announced on July 27 that he will pay full Massachusetts taxes on the yacht. He still wants $15 from me.

One more point about the letter. The US Post Office is losing billions of dollars. One might think that the Democratic Senators would be very supportive of the Post Office. However, they sent the letters out at the bulk rate of 8.9 cents compared to the normal postage rate we pay of 44 cents.

Monday, July 26, 2010

John and Ken Are After Meg Whitman With a Vengenance

Meg Whitman is the Republican nominee for Governor of California against Attorney General Jerry Brown, the once and perhaps future governor.

Meg, the billionaire former head of EBay, bought the Republican nomination with her money, and may spend over $100 million in the general election. Candidates often run to the right or left to secure their parties’ nominations in the highly partisan primaries, and then often veer somewhat to the center for the general election.

Meg Whitman’s strategy apparently was to win the Republican primary, and then court the Latino vote, if not to win it outright, then at least to minimize it somewhat.

As a practical matter, Republicans cannot succeed in the long run in California without Hispanic votes. Both Governor Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman understand this basic reality.

John and Ken are devoting large chunks of their primetime, 2-5 p.m., KFI airtime damning Meg Whitman. Since they have up to 1 million Southern California listeners as well as those who link on line, their broadcasts can be devastating to those who incur the wrath of John and Ken.

I have certainly heard a fair amount of their anti-Meg excoriations this summer in driving to San Diego and back.

Meg has been talking, and writing, out of both sides of her mouth, which is not unusual in politics, but she’s doing it in two languages, English and Spanish.

As far as John and Ken are concerned, Meg Whitman is saying one thing in English to white voters and something else in Spanish to court the Latino voters. Since one of their hallmark issues is illegal immigration, they will not tolerate her apostasy or hypocrisy.

Their views are simple with no subtlety: no amnesty, support Arizona, and let the illegals leave.

Meg in one May ad described herself as “tough as nails” on illegal immigration, and was opposed to benefits for them.

Her recent Spanish ads claim she’s opposed to California’s anti-immigrant Proposition 187, which was struck down in 1999, and she’s against Arizona’s SB 1070. She wrote an op-ed for a Spanish language newspaper chain in which she seeks “a thoughtful conversation” to solve the problem and find a “fair and practical solution.”

Prop 187 was enacted by the voters in 1994 on an overwhelming 59-41% margin, foreshadowing Arizona’s recent SB 1070. Prop 187 attempted to cut off public funding for education and healthcare for undocumented immigrants. It was clearly unconstitutional. Meg Whitman was not a resident of California at the time of its passage.

She has billboards running in the heavily Hispanic central Valley saying “No a la Proposicion 187 y No a la ley de Arizona.”

Whitman issued a plan during the primary in which she would have state and local police conduct inspections “of workplaces suspected of employing undocumented workers.” She now wants such inspections to take place under federal purview.

That seems to be the change which set John and Ken over the edge.

She has remained opposed to non-documented students attending public colleges in California, but in her Spanish TV ad, she said “Latino kids attending public schools in California today will be tomorrow’s doctors, engineers, businessmen and teachers. I want them to have the opportunity to go as far in life as their God-given talent will take them.” But then in the nuanced language of a lawyer, which she is not, she claims in English that this precept will only apply to legal immigrants, and that the Latinos will understand this distinction.

The Spanish op-ed stated that no distinction existed between her position and that of Jerry Brown. That is not true, as the former Governor quickly proclaimed. He clearly favors a path to citizenship, which John and Ken call “Amnesty.” She currently opposes amnesty, but believes some undocumented immigrants should have the opportunity to apply as guest workers.

Governor Schwarzenegger may be a disappointment, but he’s still a lot better than Governor Gray Davis. Even if Meg Whitman is the second coming of Schwarzenegger, that’s still better than Jerry Brown as the second coming of Jerry Brown.

Jerry Brown has been unable, or unwilling, to raise substantial campaign funds, so he’s depending upon the unions, especially the public employee unions, to fund anti-Whitman ads. He is beholden to them if he wins. In the mean time, he admits he has no plan to resolve California’s problems.

Do John and Ken really believe Jerry Brown will be better for California?

The flap over immigration is an unfortunate distraction. Her plank should simply echo Bill Clinton's 1992 credo: "It's the economy, stupid." All voters can respond to that in California today. We do not need to exacerbate racial polarities.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

For Whom the Curfew Tolls: Three Down in Bell, Four to Go

Bell, California has received national attention for the obscene salaries of its three top officials and 4 of 5 Council members. The less than Magnificent Seven earned over $2 million annually in one of the poorest cities in Los Angeles County.

Thanks to the investigative reporting of the Los Angeles Times (which is the source of much of this blog), we learn the political leaders of Bell set the national record for avarice, not in the form of big city corruption practiced by the Boss Tweeds and Governor Blagojevich’s, but “publicly” and “openly” in the form of salaries, stipends, benefits, and pensions.

Robert Rizzo, the City Manager, draws a salary of 787,637, Angela Spaccia, the Assistant City Manager only earns 376,288, and Randy Adams, the Police Chief of a year, earns $457,000, or 50% more than the $307,000 of Charles Beck, the LAPD Chief.

Nice jobs if you can get them. The Bell Police Department employs 46while the LAPD employs 12,899. 33 of the Bell employees are sworn police officers compared to 9,959 on the LAPD.

Not bad as a sinecure for the Chief, especially since Bell is not a crime infested city.

Let me rephrase that. Bell is apparently infected with traffic scofflaws. A traffic ticket can cost you $640, while retrieving your vehicle from impoundment will set you back $500. Someone has to pay for those salaries.

Rizzo’s contract had 3 years remaining, since one clause in it provides for automatic renewal each year. Another interesting term and condition is that each automatic renewal in July carries with it a 12% salary increase. The latest increase amounted to $84,389.76. Spaccia receives the same 12% increase. Her defense is that “You get what you pay for.”

The Mayor of LA earns $232,425.

Rizzo and the other two agreed to resign after a contentious Council meeting last Thursday night. Terms of the retirement agreements were not released, but they can afford retirement.

Rizzo will receive a lifetime pension of at least $660,000 annually, Adams $411,300, and Spaccia’s could be $250,000. Adams’ pension when he retired as Chief of the Glendale Police Department last year would have been $194,000 annually. His salary at the time was $215,304. In short, he more than doubled his salary and pension in one year. The pensions are fully indexed.

Who says the streets of the Golden State aren’t paved with gold?

The taxpayers in over 300 California communities will be paying for these pensions.

Bell also covered Rizzo’s pension and social security contributions. In addition to these benefits, Adams’ contract called for lifetime health, dental and vision benefits for him and his wife.

Bell is a tiny small community of 2.1 square miles, one of several poor, small cities in southeast Los Angeles County: Bell, Maywood, Vernon, Huntington Park, Cudahy, Bell Gardens, South Gate, that perplex the proponents of good government.

Maywood has laid off almost all public employees, contracting out municipal services to private contractors and other communities, such as Bell.

Bell is an old industrial city that is now 90.7% Hispanic, and 53.5%foreign born, some legal, some illegal, but 1/6 living below the poverty level. The industries have left to be replaced by poverty. 65% of the residents over 25 lack a high school diploma, and only 4%have a four year degree.

Most residents are hard working, often with two low paying jobs as they try to survive and raise their families.

As with most early immigrant populations, they do not get civilly involved. Hence, the opportunity for corruption and abuse of power by the civic officials exists. Some succumb and some don’t. The Bell officials took the money.

Citizens who asked for the salary figures were told to file Freedom of Information Act Requests. The city's response to FOIA requests was to ignore them.

Only when the LA Times pushed the issue, threatening to litigate were the figures released. Now we know why the city wanted to keep them secret.

Hector De La Torre was upset at the corruption in his neighboring city of South Gate. He led a public revolt and ultimately was elected to the state Assembly. He got a bill enacted that limited the salaries of city council members in “general law cities.”

The officials called a special election to put a measure on the ballot that changed Bell into a “charter city” and hence exempt from the restrictions. The vote in the little publicized election (less than 1% of the population voted) was 336 in favor against 54 negatives. 239 ballots were absentee votes.

Rizzo received a 25% salary increase upon the conversion. The Council members also bumped their compensation.

Had Bell not converted to a charter city, the pay of the council members would have been limited to $400 a month with additional limits of $150 per month for sitting on a board.

Four Bell Council members are drawing $7,873.25 monthly for sitting on the Planning Commission, Surplus Property Authority, the Public Finance authority, and the Solid Waste and Recycling Authority.

Bell’s Council members are outraged, simply outraged, at the salaries earned by the three officials. They are so outraged that they forgot they approved the contracts. Four of the Council members, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo, and council members George Mirabel, and Luis Artiga are earning almost $100,000 annually for their part time services. The fifth, Lorenzo Velez, only receives $8,076. When he recently asked why the other four earn 11 times his salary, the response of Vice Mayor Jacobo is that “We were elected, but he was appointed.”

Council members also receive medical and pension benefits for their part time positions.

Mayor Oscar Hernandez is very supportive of the “excellent” performance of Rizzo, even as the resignations were announced.

One can posit that the four council members are venal, stupid, or incompetent. Their viable options are coming down to resign or be recalled. They are holding a special meeting tonight in which they will offer to cut their pay.

Unfortunately for them, John and Ken are broadcasting live from 2-7 today outside the Bell City Hall.

Also unfortunate for the Council members, the citizens of Bell have reached the "We're fed up and won't take it any more" stage."

English cries of “recall” reverberated through the crowd outside the Council chambers last Thursday. A citizens group has been founded “Bell Association to Stop the Abuse,” or BASTA in Spanish.

Rizzo was earning $95,000 annually as City manager of Hesperia when he left for the Bell position in 1993 at a starting salary of $72,000. He earned $300,000 in 2004 and then was boosted to 442,000 ten months later.

He shows his respect for Bell by living in the Orange County city of Huntington Beach. He also owns a horse ranch outside Auburn, Washington.

He has apparently been under a lot of stress lately. He was arrested in May for DWI with a blood alcohol level of.28.

His stress level is rising. Both the LA County DA’s Office and the California Attorney General’s Office are investigating the Bell officials for criminal violations. They probably will not have to dig far to find criminal activity. I predict that something will also give on the pensions.

That both Attorney General Jerry Brown and LA DA Sid Cooley are running for higher office in November almost ensures action will be taken against the Bell officials.

The curfew tolls in Bell.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Joesp Stalin Is Back In the News: Down in Georgia, Up In Virginia

Joseph Stalin died in 1953, but he’s back in the news, proving, that you can’t keep one of the four largest murderers of the 20th Century down, or up.

Somewhere between 10-20 million perished in his purges, famines, Moscow Show trials, assassinations, collectivizations and the slaughter of the kulaks, mass ethnic deportations, the Gulags, and the purge of the Red Army, and this doesn’t include the World War II slaughters or the post-war purges of the eastern European countries overrun by the Red Army.

Some of his victims are illustrious (Kirov and Trotsky), but most all but statistics to history.

Chairman Mao outmurdered Stalin, and Pol Pot with the Khmer Rouge, killed a lot more in Cambodia on a per capita basis. Hitler, of course, fills out the four.
Stalin, in life, exemplified The Cult of Personality. His picture, bust, statue, words were ubiquitous throughout the Red Curtain. Even cities were named for him. Thus, Tsaritsyn was renamed Stalingrad on April 10, 1925, and became the site of the Red Army’s great victory over the Nazis – a victory as great in turning the tide of World War II as the U.S. Navy’s victory at Midway.

Uncle Joe was our good ally in the war.

Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugasivili, Joseph Stalin (The Man of Steel), an ex-seminarian, former bank robber to fund the Bolsheviks, General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1922-1953, heir to Lenin, was not even Russian.

Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jughashvili was born on December 18, 1978 in a hut in Gori, Georgia.

Stalin officially died of a cerebral hemorrhage, but may in fact have been poisoned by Beria, his most murderous and cunning apparatchik and also a Georgian. Ironically, the poison used was warfarin, a potent rat poison. Beria, Khrushchev, and several other Politburo members feared they were on Stalin’s next purge list, which was beginning with the (Jewish) Doctors Plot.

Upon his death Stalin was embalmed like Lenin for permanent display and adoration.

Fame is fleeting. Khrushchev in a famous February 1956 speech attacked the Cult of Personification. The de–personification of Stalin began. A cloud lifted over the Russian people. The statues came down. Cities were renamed yet again. Stalingrad, the Stalingrad, became Volgograd in 1961). Stalin, the Man of Steel and formaldehyde, was buried. Stalin was becoming a non-person throughout the former Soviet Union.

But not in Georgia, which worshiped its native son. The Joseph Stalin Museum, centered around his birthplace hut, opened in 1957 in Gori. A 6 meter tall statue of the 5’4” Stalin was erected in the main square of Gori in 1952.

That was then; this is now. Russia invaded Georgia, and heavily bombed Gori, in 2008.

Stalin’s statue was removed during the night of Friday, June 25, 2010 to make room for a memorial to the victims of the dictatorship and those killed in the 2008 war with Russia.

Stalin is down for the count even in Georgia.

But not in Bedford, Virginia. The National D Day Memorial Foundation placed a bust of Stalin next to those of FDR, Truman and Churchill in the National D Day Museum in Bedford.

The Bedford Board of Supervisors has requested the removal of the bust. Groups and newspaper editorials have joined the cry to remove Stalin. Yet, the Foundation refuses, perhaps enjoying its 15 minutes of fame, and hoping to relieve its financial problems with the publicity.

Why a D-Day Museum even commemorates Stalin makes no sense. The Red Army played no role in the invasion, fighting the Nazis on the Eastern front. Stalin’s only role was to demand the invasion in 1943 rather than 1944.

An appropriate choice for the Stalin Bust would be Westminister College in Fulton, Missouri, where Churchill in his famous March 3, 1946 speech denounced the "Iron Curtain" descending upon Eastern Europe.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why Can't We Just Ignore These Buffoons/Celebrities?

I don’t want to hear or see anything about these celebrities, pseudo celebrities, quasi-celebrities. Dead, or alive, no mas! Not a word, not a sound, not a photo! Nada! Zippo! Zilch! Squat! This is my Do Not Disturb List.

Stop invading their privacy! Reward them with the sounds of silence.

I just don’t care

If they have something to say, they don’t

They’re just not that important

They had their 15 minutes of fame, sometimes more, but all too long

Ignore them, and they will go quietly away

To where? Who cares?

Nicholas Cage

Charlie Sheen

Tom Cruise

Mischa Barton

Megan Fox

Mel Gibson (Move to Australia)

Al Gore

Oksana Grigorieva

Paris Hilton

Michael Jackson

Jesse James

Levi Johnston

Angelina Jolie

Anyone named Kardashian

Madonna (Stay in England)

Sean Penn

Roman Polanski

Elvis Presley

Any Real Housewife of ....,

Ben Roethlisberger

Lindsay Lohan

Anna Nicole Smith


The Donald

Amy Winehouse

Tiger Woods and any of his bimbos

Any silicone or Botox "Goddess"

The following celebrities have stayed out of the limelight in recent months or years, thereby being on probation from the Do Not Mention List

Alec Baldwin

Robert Downey, Jr.

Rob Lowe

Britney Spears

On the Cusp

Miley Cyrus

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We Miss You, Lloyd Carr

Thank you, Lloyd Carr

Lloyd Carr just announced his retirement, effective September 1, after 30 years at the University of Michigan. Many members of the Michigan family were elated when he resigned as the football coach 2 ½ years ago, and became Associate Athletic Director.

Now, it’s like the George Bush bumper sticker: “Miss me yet?”

The rub on Lloyd Carr was that he lost 6/7 to Jim Tressel at Ohio State, had lost three straight Rose Bowls, twice to USC and once to Texas, was falling down on recruitment, his teams weren’t well conditioned or prepared, and he lost to Appalachian State.

Just think of Lloyd’s successor, Rich Rodriquez. Miss Lloyd yet?

All Lloyd Carr did in his 13 years as head coach was win a national title, five Big ten championships, and became only the third Michigan coach to win over 100 games (the other two were the immortals Fielding H. Yost and Bo Schembechler). His record was 122-40 for a .753 winning record, 19-8 against Top 10 teams, 5-4 against Notre Dame, 10-3 against Michigan State, and 9-2 against Penn State. That looks like a winner.

Miss him yet?

Lloyd Carr was the only Michigan football coach since 1948 to have a perfect season; even the beloved Bo did not accomplish that, usually losing to Ohio State or in a bowl game at the end of the season. Lloyd Carr is the only Michigan coach of a Michigan football team that had a 12-0 record. Lloyd Carr was the only Michigan football coach since 1948 to win the national championship.

Let me repeat, Lloyd Carr was the only Michigan football coach to win a national championship in the past six decades. Basketball, gymnastics, swimming, track and field, softball titles are great, but The Victors was written after a football game.

Miss him yet?

Lloyd’s curse was to win the national championship, and in his first six years as head coach own Ohio State 5-1. The Michigan fan base became spoiled.
The question for many fans is “What have you done for me lately?” For them, the credo is Al Davis’ “Just win, Baby.”

Gene Stallings wins a national title at Alabama, and he’s out a few years later. John Robinson won a national title and several Rose Bowls in his first stint at USC. He returned after several years in the pros, won Rose Bowls, but was fired. Phil Fullmer won a national title at Tennessee, but subsequently fell short of Alabama and Florida. He was gone two years ago. Auburn was dissatisfied with Terry Bowden and Tommy Tuberville, both of whom had perfect seasons. They were terminated. Jim Harrick wins a basketball title at UCLA, the only one since John Wooden, and he was fired two years later.

What have you done for me lately?

Miss me yet?

All Lloyd Carr did was win the last game of his career, beating Florida 41-35 in the Capital One Bowl on January 1, 2008, wiping the smirk off Urban Meyers and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow’s faces.

Miss him yet?

For Michigan, Lloyd Carr was not only a great football coach, but a humanitarian, supporter of women’s athletics, and a prodigious fundraiser for the replacement Charles S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Even after retirement, Lloyd will continue to give speeches and fundraise for Michigan. For him, the team and school always came first.

We know that teenagers, even athletes, often have emotional issues of maturity, judgment, control, homesickness, and lost love. The Michigan football players were no exception. Lloyd's door was always open to them, and through his gentle touch, got many to fulfill their promise and potential, as did John Wooden, Bo and Woody. 25players have left the program early after Rich Rodriquez's arrival, whose attitude seems to be "It's Rich's way or the Highway."

One more thing about the soft-spoken Lloyd Carr; he is erudite. He reads the classics. Lloyd Carr has never been that cliché “the dumb jock.”

Lloyd, enjoy your retirement; you earned it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Memory of Peter O Steiner

Every great university has been built by great leaders, such as trustees, presidents, deans, provosts and chancellors, chairs and community supporters.

For example, Berkeley had three great presidents and chancellors, Benjamin Ide Wheeler, Robert Gordon Sproul, and Clark Kerr, who between 1899 and 1964 raised Cal to the top ranked university in the world.

UCLA is another example. UCLA, founded in the 20th Century, can claim Franklin Murphy and especially Charles Young, as its guiding lights, as well as more recently Albert Carnasale, who as Chancellor from 1997 and 2006, raised over $3 billion to maintain UCLA’s stature in a time of state budget cuts.

The University of Michigan’s success spans almost two full centuries, including recent decades of state cutbacks.

Professor Peter Steiner, who passed away June 26 at the ripe young age of 87, is one of the unsung heroes who built and maintained Michigan as a great university through these rough decades.

Peter received his bachelors from Oberlin College in 1943 and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard in 1950. In between he served in the Navy in World War II, where he learnt to play poker with great intensity.

Indeed, he never played to lose at anything.

He joined the economics faculty of Berkeley in 1949, when the university was on its rise to greatness, moved to Wisconsin in 1957, and then received a joint appointment in the economics department and law school at Michigan in 1968. He became the first professor in the law school without formal training in the law. His economics field was Industrial Organization, which lawyers refer to as antitrust. He established the Law School’s joint degree program in law and economics, when joint degree programs were still an academic rarity.

Great universities also need great scholars, and Peter certainly was. His basic economics text, coauthored with Richard Lipsey, was the main competitor to Samuelson’s text for years.

As an administrator, he served as chair of the economics department from 1971-1974, building up an outstanding Industrial Organization faculty with Frederic Scherer and William G Shepard. Two of his economics colleagues became President of the University of Michigan and then Princeton (Harold Shapiro) and Provost of Michigan(Paul Courant).

Peter served from 1981-1989 as Dean of the School of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA), the largest academic unit at Michigan.

His tenure as Dean was critical to Michigan’s longstanding academic success. The state of Michigan was in its long term decline by the end of the 1980’s. The University of Michigan, and the other public universities in Michigan, would no longer be supported to the same extent as in the past.

His response was to hire strong, junior faculty and engage in extensive private fundraising, helping to fulfill the vision of two University of Michigan Presidents, Harold Shapiro (1979-1988) and James Duderstadt (1988-1996).

In between chairing economics and service as LSA Dean, he served as President of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). He was always a strong advocate of faculty self-governance, and yet could be highly respected by faculty as an administrator.

He was a great scholar, writing on such diverse subjects as utility peak pricing, the economic challenges of the aged, and the economic challenges of higher education. He served on numerous national and international committees, and received numerous grants and fellowships from the Ford, Guggenhem, and Rockefeller Foundations.

He served as recently as three years ago on the AAUP committees investigating Louisiana universities for their responses to Katrina.

His greatest work though came after his 1991 retirement. He published a book in 1996, reflecting his great love of poker, Thursday Night Poker: How to Understand, Enjoy – and Win. He could not exist without his weekly, high power, Thursday night poker games, which he apparently pursued almost to his deathbed.

My interest in Professor Steiner is that he chaired my doctoral committee and served as my mentor at Michigan. He guided me through the process, provided me discipline, and sharpened my research and writing skills. He was firm and strong, and yet friendly and supportive, always respectful and willing to listen. His critiques were phrased in the form of gentle suggestions. He treated his economics Ph. D. students with equal respect.

He said once that he liked the graduate students in the Law School because the law School was one of only two academic units at Michigan that did not have to follow the style manual of The Rackham Graduate School.

Peter was also a shrewd judge of character. He never invited me to the poker matches, either because he sized me up immediately as a non-poker player, or because he did not wish to take my meager fellowship.

I’ll miss you Peter.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

United States v. Arizona; What It Is Not, What It Is, What It Should Be,

The Justice Department filed suit last week against Arizona’s S.B. 1070.

It based the complaint on the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Congress has preemptive power over immigration because the Constitution provides Congress shall have the power “to establish an uniform rule of naturalization.” It argued the Constitution and federal law do not allow “a patchwork of state and local immigration policies” around the country. It also posited Arizona’s law will “cause the detention and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants and citizens who do not have or carry identification documents” while ignoring “humanitarian concerns” and harming diplomatic relations. Further, having to respond to all the Arizona arrests would divert federal attention from going after the dangerous, felonious illegal immigrants.

It is not a suit about a conflict between Arizona and U.S. law.

If it were a conflicts case, then the Justice Department would be suing Berkeley, San Francisco and other sanctuary cities whose sanctuary laws conflict with the federal laws.

It’s not a suit, unlike many of the 6 other suits filed against Arizona, based on unconstitutional racial profiling. The Arizona statute expressly forbids racial profiling. In addition, it is almost impossible to obtain anticipatory relief, striking down a statute on the grounds that it might result in unequal protection when subsequently enforced. It is also not about racial profiling because any intelligent law enforcement officer knows how to racially profile under almost any statute without expressly doing so; e.g. a broken taillight or burnt out turn signal.

The Justice Department is essentially arguing “field preemption,” that is, the entire field of immigration law is vested exclusively in the federal government, and, as a fallback failing field preemption, Congress has enacted a comprehensive federal law. Preemption also occurs when the state law allows conduct banned by federal law, or otherwise stands in the way of accomplishing the federal program. Congress is free to expressly ban or allow (“savings clauses”) state action.

Very few areas in fact have field preemption, and the Supreme Court has not extended field preemption to immigration law. Congress is silent on expressly preempting or allowing state immigration actions.

A 2002 Justice Department memo held that state police officers have inherent power to arrest undocumented immigrants for violating federal law.

It is not about a comprehensive federal immigration law because both Presidents Bush and Obama have called for comprehensive immigration reform.

It is also not about Arizona deporting illegal immigrants, unlike the LAPD in the 1930’s. Under the Arizona statute, Arizona will turn them over to ICE.

It is not about proof of legal residence with the appropriate identification. A valid Arizona drivers license or identification card, a valid tribal enrollment card, or any valid United States federal, state or local government issued ID will satisfy Arizona’s requirements for documentation.

Anyone driving a car must produce a driver’s license. We know that in California many undocumented immigrants are driving without a license and have accidents. That’s criminal behavior in both California and Arizona.

The federal lawsuit is an attempt to prevent other states from enacting similar statutes. Attorney General Eric Holder has just threatened Arizona with another lawsuit if it finds racial profiling after implementation of the statute.

It’s pure politics. President Obama is trying to arouse the Hispanic base of the Democratic Party for the mid-term and 2012 elections.

It’s a political gamble that President Obama can raise the Democratic vote in November without turning out more Republican votes.

What it should be is the start of a Congressional debate on the future of America’s immigration laws. President Obama delivered a speech a week earlier, asking for enactment of a comprehensive immigration reform, requesting Republican support, and stating it was not “politics” that was driving him.

Congress, an unwilling Congress, needs to address and resolve the debate. However, neither Democrats nor Republicans want to vote on the divisive issue. Options include tighter enforcement, mass deportations, no birth right citizenship, a path to naturalization, The Dream Act, full amnesty, guest worker privileges, or a combination of these.

Significantly, President Obama has not, and is not, trying to push immigration reform through Congress. He knows it will either go nowhere in this Congress, or result in a bill he is fundamentally opposed to; i.e. vigorous enforcement with no path to naturalization.

President Obama could have gotten a bill through Congress early in his administration during his honeymoon period. Admittedly, he had to deal with economic issues, but he also spent most of the first year and a half pushing a transformative health reform plan through Congress. That was his priority eventhough he had promised comprehensive immigration reform during his first year in office, “Si se puede.”

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada is appealing to Hispanic votes in his underdog reelection campaign eventhough he refused to let the Senate consider the McCain Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill three years ago during the Bush Administration. An amnesty bill was no more going to pass Congress then than it is today.

Arizona’s S.B. 1070 should be the catalyst for resolving America’s immigration debate. Instead, the debate is just breeding more cynicism.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Signs of the Coming Apocalypse

Lightning struck and burnt down a 6 story statute of Jesus in Monroe, Ohio on Monday, June 14, 2010.

A religious relic, a small piece of wood believed to be from Jesus' crucifixion cross,was stolen between June 30 and July 1 from the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.

The Reverend Ron Baity, Honorary Chaplain of the North Carolina House of Representatives was relieved of his duties after closing an invocation asking Jesus to bless North Carolina.

The Young Mens Christian Association will now be known simply as the Y.

Students from the Wickenburg Christian Academy in Arizona on May 5 formed a circle on the side of he U.S. Supreme Court stairs and started praying when a Supreme Court security guard informed them their actions were illegal. They were told to take their prayers elsewhere eventhough the Court does not have a policy prohibiting prayer.

Believers, and non-believers, can find solace in ITunes Apps.

The Reverend Robert Schuller, founder of the once prosperous and now nearly bankrupt, Chrystal Cathedral, having fired his son as his successor two years ago, announced his retirement and turning over the pulpit to his recently ordained daughter, who later that day stated he had not retired. The ministry was founded 55 years ago in the parking lot of a drive in theater.

The Supreme Court held 5:4 that the Christian Legal Society at Hastings law school had to admit gays into its membership eventhough gay marriage is against its core believes, albeit not mine.

The Archbishop of Canterbury on December 29, 2009 stated “The trouble with a lot of government initiatives about faith is that they assume it is a problem, it’s an eccentricity, it’s practiced by oddities, foreigners and minorities.”

Alastair Campbell, ex-spokesperson for former Prime Minister Tony Blair “We don’t do religion.”

The European Court of Human Rights, upon the petition of a Finnish immigrant to Italy, held that Italy must remove crucifixes from the classrooms in public schools.

A Russian Court convicted two museum curators of inciting religious hatred by including in an exhibition images of Jesus Christ portrayed as Mickey Mouse and Vladimir Lenin. They were fined, but not imprisoned.

Due to a clerical error in March 200 million Muslims in Indonesia have not been praying to Mecca, but 1500 miles away to Kenya and Southern Somalia.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments issued a Fatwa against vuvuzelas.