Mike Kueber's Blog

December 2, 2014

Empathy and Ferguson

In the past few months, I’ve admitted to three of my best friends that I have an extreme lack of empathy. When extreme bad shit happens to people around me, I don’t get upset or feel sorry for them. As Thomas Hobbes said, life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

I once suggested in this blog that Republicans tend to be less empathetic to people outside the American mainstream because Republicans often have less exposure to those outside the mainstream. But while that may explain why I’m a Republican; it doesn’t explain why I lack empathy.

Alternative explanations might include my ethnicity – i.e., my German DNA – or my upbringing – self-reliant farming stock.

Regardless, I am certainly afflicted with this character flaw, which I first remember noticing when Michael Dukakis was asked in a presidential debate about capital punishment in the context of his wife being hypothetically murdered. Dukakis responded dispassionately about why he still opposed capital punishment and was roundly criticized in the press for failing to passionately describe the hate he would feel for the murderer. Like Dukakis, I would have the same tendency to focus on the right answer instead of articulating empathy – more Spock and less Bill Clinton.

Earlier today on Facebook, my Spock-esque empathy got me into lots of trouble. One of my most political and highly emotional friends (young, pretty social worker) posted something about her SA grandmother getting mugged for some cash. As you might expect, she demanded capital punishment if the thug is ever caught. The following items are her initial post and follow-up comments in response to various notes of support:

  • There are no words for how I feel right now. I’m angry. Angry. Livid. OMG I want to punch something. Ugh. I’m so livid right now. Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!!
  • Someone robbed a family member of mine.
  • She had just cashed her check and they robbed her forcibly. God forgive me but I hope they die in a violent car accident!!!!
  • No one fucks with my family!!!
  • Seriously I hope the burglar dies in a horrible car accident or something. I know it’s mean but tonight I don’t care!
  • Badly shaken up. Which makes me furious!!!!
  • I just don’t know what the fuck is wrong with people??? People who mess with the elderly are pretty fucking low and worthless!!
  • If I had been there I would’ve hurt someone for sure!!!!

Of course, me with my Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus mentality of Mike Dukakis, skipped past the empathy and sympathy thing because a dozen people had already covered that aspect of the situation. What no one had pointed out was that for the past few days my Facebook social worker wanted to lynch Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and the entire criminal justice system in America because of the harsh way that Michael Brown was treated after robbing an elderly Korean shopkeeper. Wasn’t there some cognitive dissonance going on here? So I posted:

  • What about that old Korean shopkeeper in Ferguson who was robbed? He was someone’s family member, too. Oh yeah, his shop and a dozen others were burned down by rioters who thought the police officer should have been able to subdue the 300-pound, charging robber without shooting him.”

Not surprisingly, my social-worker friend was displeased:

  • “Mike Kueber, at no point have you ever heard me condone the rioting of Ferguson. Please don’t make this a political point when it comes to my grandmother getting mugged, k?

Of course, she wasn’t the only one displeased. Several of her friends took me to task, and my friend thanked them for their support. E.g.,:

  • “Thank you I. T. You said something I wanted to say but was floored about an unnecessary political potshot over something I have never condoned at all but someone felt the need to make an opportunity out of it rather than show sympathy for my grandmother. Must feel so big and proud I guess? Whatever turns someone’s motor I guess.

Because I accepted my faux paus in wanting to discuss Mars, while everyone else wanted to discuss Venus, I decided against pushing the cognitive-dissonance argument:

  • “Ana Alicia Perez, I’m sorry for failing to compartmentalize the two incidents. The Ferguson issue just really bothers me, especially after seeing all the fawning press yesterday approve the St. Louis Five protest. Tim Tebow gets excoriated for his gesture, but the Five has license to mock the police – Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”

And my friend seemed to accept this dénouement:

  • “I understand Mike. Look back on my feed and I posted an article about the guys who stopped the rioters from destroying a family-owned shop… Probably I posted it two or three days ago. I have never condoned the rioting as it doesn’t make sense how anyone is going to make a point by destroying their own city. It is stupid. Did I agree with the legal decision? No. Did I agree with a bunch of people costing millions in damages to their city and hurting small businesses that Jeromy and I support rather than big business? No. I don’t know anything about the Tim Tebow thing other than he is homophobic so I don’t like him anyway. And as for the nfl thing I saw that and rolled my eyes. It was tacky and I don’t think the NFL can be anything of a moral high ground considering the players who have been caught with drugs, beating their wives, dog fighting, etc.”

But later a straggler friend of hers weighed in:

  • Oh I hate it when someone commits a violent crime such as that on elderly citizens. There should be a double or triple penalty for idiots that do this. I can truly and sincerely understand your frustration in that they rot in hell. I totally agree with you. And that gentleman speaking about Ferguson needs to just shut up. Anna, anyone in the neighborhood that can describe this person? Any witnesses ?!?! OMG. I hate to hear this. Sounds like an assault as well. We need to speak to our elders & tell them to please be aware of their surroundings. I walked into Valero last evening to use ATM and a line of 6 hoods lined up behind me …. Waiting …. I grabbed my card and split !!! I know what they wanted !!! Rectums !!! They’re everywhere. Be careful Peeps !!! I am SO sorry, Ana. God bless your poor granny. She’s in my prayers. Hoping the men in blue find that dork.

I might have overlooked the “shut up” suggestion, although I find particularly abhorrent, but the reference to the “men in blue” was too much to pass up. So I responded directly to the straggler:

  • [Straggler], pray tell, what do you want the men in blue to do when they find the robber. Darren Wilson wants to know. I love it how so-called liberal-minded people casually throw around the term, “shut up.” “Shut up” about abortion if you don’t have a vagina; “shut up” about immigration if you aren’t a native American. Great arguments.

The straggler, who has a graduate degree from UTSA, weakly defended her position by saying:

  • “They know their Job description. Ask them. Thnx.”

And that finally ended our conversation, with I suspect no minds changed. They see this as heavy-handed police and prosecutors, and I see it as a conscientious policemen dealing properly with a thug. Although I have a hard time empathizing with young black males going around with chips on their shoulders (e.g., Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown), I don’t understand their failure to empathize with a policeman having to patrol Ferguson and deal with a known robber who has already tried to take your gun while you were sitting in your car.

Someone, however, who has done a good job of empathizing with everyone, is NO Saints tight end, Benjamin Watson, who posted the following on his Facebook wall (and who also posted a 48 on the NFL’s Wonderlic test, tied for 3rd highest ever):

 

At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

  • I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.
  • I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.
  • I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.
  • I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.
  • I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.
  • I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.
  • I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.
  • I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.
  • I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.
  • I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.
  • I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.
  • I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.

 

Ferguson and the NFL

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 12:59 am
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While reading USA Today today, I noticed an article reporting on five St. Louis Ram players doing a pre-game protest against the Ferguson incident. As the players came out of the stadium tunnel, they raised their hands into a “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot!” pose.  The protest upset the St. Louis Police Officers Association into demanding that the NFL punish the players. Inexplicably, though, the NFL meekly decided to do nothing other than respond as follows in an email:

  • We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation.”

What a disgrace!

What a pusillanimous wimp the NFL has become! Its handling of the Ray Rice incident – first trying to downplay it with a two-game suspension, but then increasing the suspension to a lifetime ban after a video went viral – was recently rejected by an arbitrator as capricious and arbitrary.

Talk about a lynching! The NFL’s handling of Adrian Peterson’s child-abuse incident was similarly ham-handled. By contrast, the legal system handled both incidents reasonably, with the Rice matter granted deferred adjudication and the Peterson matter resulting in a misdemeanor plea.

So why should the NFL take action against the St. Louis five? While listening to Mike & Mike (and Adam Schefter) this morning and then First Take’s Stephen A. and Skip later in the morning, I learned that they were in complete agreement that these players were merely exercising their constitutional right to free speech and should be commended for showing some social consciousness that Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods seemed to lack.

Their monolithic position caused me to start talking to at my TV screens during these shows, wanting any of these talk-show people to ask whether NFL players are free to stake out other political positions on Sunday. The answer to that question is so obviously “no,” that I can’t understand why these talking heads failed to see the inconsistency. Hell, players can’t even use non-approved headphones when they walk into the building. On game day, the NFL owns the players; there is no free political or commercial speech.

When I search the internet to see if anyone else was taking up this argument, and there was deafening silence. ESPN didn’t even have an article mentioning the protest. Finally, however, I was able to find a single media source calling out the NFL. According to Newsday:

  • Rule 5, Section 4, Article 7 of the NFL rulebook states “throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office.
  • The League will not grant permission for any club or player to wear, display, or otherwise convey messages, through helmet decals, arm bands, jersey patches, or other items affixed to game uniforms or equipment, which relate to political activities or causes, other non-football events, causes or campaigns, or charitable causes or campaigns.”

Newsday reported that one of the protesting players had arm wraps that read “Mike Brown” and “My kids matter” written on them. I will be shocked if there is not any other verbiage in the rules that allows the NFL to punish the players. What if some white players want to do something to show their support for the SLPOA?

The NFL’s current position regarding this protest seems untenable, and it makes me wonder for the first time if Roger Goodell is not up to the job.

November 30, 2014

Comprehensive immigration reform, according to Kueber

Ruben Navarrette, Jr. is my favorite columnist on the subject of immigration reform. Although he tends to be liberal, he is the closest thing to an “honest broker” that I have encountered. He won my support as fair minded a while back when he declared that illegal immigrants have no right to demand anything from America; rather, America needs to do what is best for itself, including being generous and humane.

Navarrette’s column this week exemplified his maverick streak. Instead of explaining why President Obama’s executive order was a step in the right direction, he pointed out something the mainstream media has studiously avoided.  He suggested that Obama’s order perversely confirmed something that conservatives have charged for many years; namely, that the citizenship granted to babies born to illegal immigrants in America would be used as an anchor to keep all of them in America.

As I reflected on Navarrette’s column and anchor babies while on my bike ride yesterday, I had an epiphany about solving the problem with illegal immigration. The solution to comprehensive immigration reform has been intractable because liberals want to focus on providing some form of amnesty to the 11 million immigrants already here illegally while conservatives want to ignore those people until the danger of additional illegal immigration is eliminated (via an impregnable fence). Navarrette’s column suggested to me a common ground. Instead of building an impregnable fence before granting amnesty, the government can provide the necessary assurances to conservatives by eliminating the magnets that continue to attract illegal immigrants. What are the magnets:

  1. Birthright citizenship. American citizenship is one of the most valuable things that parents can provide their baby, so it is natural that parents will do whatever is necessary to make that happen. That is a huge magnet. Although the constitution does not clearly provide for birthright citizenship, the courts have so held, and therefore to correct this unintended drafting consequence, Congress will need to pass appropriate legislation or amend the constitution.
  2. Public schools. Another huge magnet for illegal immigration is the public schooling that is provided to children who are here illegally. Once again, this magnet is based on a tenuous ruling by the courts (Plyler v. Doe)  and the ruling needs to be reversed, either through statute or constitutional amendment.
  3. Sanctuary cities. The federal government is quick to suppress state and local jurisdictions that want to help the feds enforce laws against illegal immigration. This action is usually based on the argument that federal law pre-empts any other jurisdiction from interfering. If the feds can take action to prevent local government from helping enforce the immigration laws, then it should be easy to take action to prevent local government from obstructing enforcement of immigration laws through various sanctuary-city policies.
  4. Jobs. I’m not sure why so many employers are able to hire so many illegal immigrants with impunity. These laws needs more teeth.

With the elimination of these magnets, I think conservatives could be persuaded to expand President Obama’s executive order to apply to all law-abiding illegal immigrants who have been in the country more than five years. This would not provide special status to parents of anchor babies and would not mandate an impregnable fence, but it would recognize that America feels some responsibility for allowing these people to take root in America.

I think we could all live with this result.

 

 

November 29, 2014

A system that insulates the police

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 1:42 pm
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My least favorite columnist in the SA Express-News is Brian Chasnoff. My distaste for him results from not only from his white-liberal viewpoint, but also a clash of my curmudgeon against his whippersnapper.

His column in today’s paper is titled, “A system that insulates police.”

The apparent thesis of the column is that Ferguson is not an anomaly and that we almost had a similar situation in San Antonio a few years ago. The column reads as follows:

  • An unarmed black man walks down a street. A police officer in a patrol car veers into his path. The confrontation provokes anger, then explodes into violence: The officer, who is not black, shoots the black man in the head. Months later, a grand jury declines to indict the officer. I’m not depicting the August shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, although these facts also describe the incident sparking angry protests this week across the nation. I’m sketching, rather, the 2006 shooting of Jospeh Fennell by police officer Robert Rosales in San Antonio….”
  • The shooting in Ferguson unfolded differently but with echoes of Fennell….”
  • “An inch or two, and it could have been Ferguson.”

I left the following comment for Chasnoff on the newspaper website:

  • Brian, too clever by half. ‘The shooting in Ferguson unfolded differently but with echoes of Fennell.’ Echoes? You could have easily written a substantive column that distinguished the two incidents instead of selectively focusing on superficial similarities that echo of the laughable Kennedy/Lincoln coincidences.”

What are the substantive differences between the two situations:

  1. Ferguson’s Officer Darren Wilson was white; nonwhite Officer Robert Rosales was Hispanic. Blacks are not going to riot against Hispanics, which is why George Zimmerman had to be labeled a “white Hispanic.”
  2. Officer Wilson first interacted with Michael Brown for obstructing traffic in the middle of the street, and then tried to stop him when he noticed that Brown fit a detailed description (shirts, socks, size) of a recent, nearby robber. Officer Rosales stopped Fennell while innocently walking on a sidewalk merely because he met a vague description (short black male) of a non-recent robber.
  3. Michael Brown was the robber who Wilson was looking for; Joseph Fennell was innocently walking to work.
  4. Michael Brown reached into Officer Wilson’s car for his gun; Officer Rosales pulled his gun before talking to Fennell.
  5. Officer Wilson’s first shot was to wing Brown while the guy was leaned in through the car window. Officer Rosales shot Fennell because of Fennell’s sudden movement.

Although Rosales was not indicted, San Antonio paid $80,000 to Fennell for his minor injuries. I agree with Chasnoff’s comment about the difficulty of the SAPD trying to defend a civil action:

  • Already, the actions of the officer seem misguided. Why veer onto the sidewalk? Why point a gun?”

If I had been on the Grand Jury, I would have been tempted, in a very close call, to indict Rosales. Whereas indicting Ferguson’s Officer Wilson would have been a travesty of justice. (Not unlike the NFL’s lifetime suspension of Ray Rice.)

It seems that Chasnoff and the NFL’s Roger Goodell can be counted on to talk/do the political thing, but not the right thing.

November 28, 2014

Only in America

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 2:27 pm
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According to the Washington Post’s columnist Dana Milbank, St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s prosecution of Officer Darren Wilson was pathetic:

  • “[McCulloch] almost certainly could have secured an indictment on a lesser charge simply by requesting it, yet he acted as if he were a spectator, saying that jurors decided not to return a ‘true bill’ on each possible charge — as if this were a typical outcome. As has been repeated often in recent weeks, a grand jury will indict a proverbial ham sandwich if a prosecutor asks it to.”

Apparently, Milbank is under the mistaken belief that a prosecutor is supposed to pursue prosecutions instead of justice, and he fails to recognize that a prosecutor shouldn’t indict a person simply because he can.

One of Milbank’s grievances against McCulloch was that he emphasized the inconsistent testimony of many witness, “But he was less troubled by inconsistencies that worked against Wilson. McCulloch implied Monday night that Wilson stopped his car to confront Brown because he recognized him as a robbery suspect. But Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson had said publicly that the robbery ‘had nothing to do with the stop.’”

This is not an inconsistency that worked against Officer Wilson, but rather one imagined by Milbank. If Milbank had bothered to read the transcript of Wilson’s testimony (page 209), he would have seen the following:

  • When I start looking at Brown, first thing I notice is I his right hand, his hand is full of Cigarillos. And that’s when it clicked for me because I now saw the Cigarillos, I looked in my mirror, I did a double-check that Johnson was wearing a black shirt, these are the two from the stealing.”

Thus, although Wilson didn’t immediately connect Brown to the robbery, he did make the connection within seconds after first telling Wilson to get out of the middle of the road, which renders Milbank’s argument a distinction without a difference.

This piece of information also serves to reveal the utter ridiculousness of the idea circulating in amongst liberal commentators that Officer Wilson should have waited for reinforcements before pursuing Michael Brown. Since when does America want its cops who are struck by a suspected robber to all the suspect to walk off while the cop waits for reinforcements?

As we say in the legal arena, is it reasonably foreseeable that the suspected robber we suddenly turn and charge you, that you will have to kill him, and that his neighbors will be so upset with your self-defense killing that they will riot and burn down their town?

Only in America.

November 26, 2014

Assorted thoughts about Ferguson

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 3:30 am
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Assorted thoughts about Ferguson:

  1. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The Ferguson riots back in August were met with a heavy-handed so-called “militarized” police department, and the general consensus was that this militarization exacerbated the situation. The riot last night was met with an inert collection of law-enforcement and National Guard personnel, and the general consensus is that this conduct was disgraceful. According to former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani on MSNBC, studies reveal that a strong, active police presence is essential to prevent escalation.
  2. Hostile territory. CNN reporters made much of the fact that white officer Darren Wilson didn’t like the black city he was policing, based on the following Grand Jury testimony from Wilson: “There’s a lot of gangs that reside or associate with that area. There’s a lot of violence in that area, there’s a lot of gun activity, drug activity. It is just not a very well-liked community. That community doesn’t like the police.”  Although CNN suggested Wilson’s antipathy was directed at the entire city of Ferguson, the quote suggests to me that Wilson was referring to a particularly unsavory part of Ferguson. And it is completely unreasonable to expect that a policeman will not profile certain neighborhoods based on prior interactions.
  3. Did Michael Brown give up or charge Officer Wilson? Despite the renewed on-air assertions of Brown’s fellow robber, Dorian Johnson, that Brown was stopped with his hands in the air when he was shot, the physical facts are that Brown’s blood was found 175 feet away from Wilson’s car and that he ended up in the street 150 feet from Wilson’s car. These facts suggest strongly that, consistent with Wilson’s testimony, Brown was coming toward him when shot. The fact that the final shot went into the top of Brown’s head also supports Wilson’s testimony that Brown’s head was down and charging toward. (On the related issue of why Wilson took off on foot after Brown, according to the NY Times, “But when no one [at the Grand Jury] asked him why he had chased Mr. Brown, Officer Wilson brought it up himself, saying that after experiencing Mr. Brown’s aggression in the vehicle, he felt ‘he still posed a threat, not only to me, but to anybody else that confronted him.’”)
  4. Burn the bitch down. Shortly before the Grand Jury finding was handed down, the Brown family took the high road by issuing a statement asking that any protests following the announcement be peaceful. But shortly after the announcement, Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, was on the hood of a car wailing to a crowd. When she became overwrought, her husband Louis Head joined her on the hood of the car and repeatedly told the crowd, “Burn this bitch down.” Reminds me of that adage – judge me by what I do, not by what I say.
  5. Give ‘em a break. Their family lawyer Benjamin Crump later suggested that, although the comments by Brown’s mother and step-father were inappropriate, “Don’t condemn them for being human.” Another apologist said, “What do you expect when you shove a camera in front of grieving parents?” Huh – they were on the hood of a car at a protest; no one shoved a camera in their face!! The prosecutor, when asked whether perjury charges would be brought against all the lying witnesses (they were contradicted by physical facts or by other testimony), said that he gives them the benefit of a doubt – i.e., they actually believed their false testimony. Seems everyone is willing to be generous to a fault, except to Officer Darren Wilson, who is still under the specter of federal or civil prosecution.

November 24, 2014

Racist haters

Filed under: Culture,Facebook,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 8:35 pm
Tags:

Yesterday, a Facebook friend, Rosey, posted the following poster:

  • Dear Immigrant Haters, stop telling the rest of us we should be as uncaring, selfish, and hateful as you.

The poster reminded me of another stupid poster posted on Facebook by one of my in-laws suggesting that only people with vaginas have a right to an opinion on abortion. Although my verbal challenge of the abortion poster led to my family member accusing me of being overbearing and intolerant, I decided to engage with Immigration Hater poster, too.

Not surprisingly the result was the same. Despite my best efforts to keep things civil and dispassionate, I ended up getting called all sorts of names in English and Spanish.  I ended the discussion by complaining that the discussion wasn’t very illuminating, but actually I learned two important things:

  1. Notwithstanding my best efforts to persuade and keep things calm, I apparently have an innate tendency to stir some people toward anger and resentment.
  2. Some Mexican-Americans are personally insulted to the point that they think me racist because I am concerned with illegal immigration and the large number of such immigrants coming to America from Mexico and Central America.

 

Appendix: the lengthy dialogue is as follows:

  • Jhon Juan Adams But the only good ones, according the IMMIGRANT HATERS are WHITE IMMIGRANTS. You think there would have been any problem in Murrieta CA if those buses had been loaded with Swedish Refugees? For whatever reason on earth. ????
  • Mike Kueber Jhon, why do you insist on conflating legal immigrants with illegal immigrants? Do you know that this country is overrun with more illegal immigrants than the entire population of Sweden? Why do you insist on calling people names just because they disagree with your apparent policy of open borders?
  • Rosey Abuabara The concept of closed borders is a relatively new one.., you know, in the history of the world. I mean, if you believe in evolution and not creation.
  • Oscar Garcia We did not cross the border, the border crossed us.
  • Rosey Abuabara and, besides, he, Jhon, is correct, for the white guy that he is. I don’t see stories of the Asians that are undocumented. It’s bigoted and you know it, Mike.
  • Mike Kueber Personally, Oscar, I’m getting sick of that canard, “the border crossed us.” Anyone who was here in 1848 when the border changed, would already be citizens. The current illegal immigrants had ancestors who were ensconced in Mexico when this country was settled by brave, adventuresome Americans. America took over the Southwest because Mexicans declined to settle it. And, Rosey Abuabara, I read an article just today in the NY Times about the significant number of illegal immigrants in CA from Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.
  • Mike Kueber p.s., of the 11.4 million illegal immigrants in America, 6.7 million are from Mexico, 1.8 million are from Central and South America, and 1.2 million are from Asia. http://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php
  • Rosey Abuabara That would make sense Mike since they are our neighbors. You must consider the proximity to the USA. And… HAHAHA..!!! You still believe that shit about Davy Crockett?? SQUATTERS!! I own land in west Texas.. Just because I chose not to live there does not give another the right to move in and make it theirs. And f-ING yeah!! The BORDER CROSSED US. And, if you don’t know this.. Many Mexicans who owned LOTS OF LAND had it “legally” stolen from them. (Think King Ranch). This is MORE MY LAND. I am NATIVE… At least for thousands of years…
  • Mike Kueber Rosey Abuabara, if you love the Mexican heritage so much, and hate the American heritage so much…. Are you suggesting that some sort of reparations are due? Or maybe open-admission of Mexicans? What about Central Americans – do they have the same claim for preferred status?
  • Rosey Abuabara Mike, don’t presume to know what I’m suggesting. Do I think reparations are due? Hell yeah! Hell, I’d have the King Ranch divided up. And, I AM VERY PROUD OF MY MEXICAN HERITAGE. That’s pretty petty, Mike. And, I never said I “hated” the American “heritage”. It’s so much more complex than that. Perhaps since I have cultural pride is frightening to many. Lol.. You ever spend time in Miami? Little Italy? China town? Really .. Your assessment of my comments are what I have to face everyday. It’s racist, and shows how little you know & understand the situation. Good thing you were an insurance lawyer. And, just a reminder: America is this WHOLE CONTINENT. You’re speaking of ‘Merica. I’d be glad to school you on being a USA citizen, in San Antonio no less, with cultural pride. Kueber? Have you no pride in your culture? lol.. But, you knew Davy Crockett and Bowie were just over sensationalized thieves of Mexican soil. At least I’d hope you know.
  • Rosey Abuabara Don’t make yourself look like the typical Immigrant Hater. I thought you were better than that. The situation is not that easy.. Otherwise this situation would be fixed by now.
  • Mike Kueber Rosey Abuabara, I choose not to go the ad hominem route (racist haters), but I do believe that most of the hateful, intolerant comments come from those on the left. That chip on their shoulders seems to weigh them down. At least I have been able to elicit your actual position – i.e., reclaim Texas for Mexicans.
  • Oscar Garcia We do not have to reclaim Texas, it’s already ours. My ancestors did it by not leaving and becoming US citizens.
  • Mike Kueber Oscar, instead of posting jingoistic slogans, perhaps you could explain what you mean by it. Does America owe Mexico something? Does America owe Mexican-Americans something? Does America owe Mexicans something? If so, what?
  • Oscar Garcia Chingoistic que? See Translation.
  • Oscar Garcia Do I have to go through the whole historical thing about Manifest Destiny?
  • Oscar Garcia The result of the Mexican-American war was a very large seizure of Mexican land by the United States. Later, more sections of Mexico were taken, creating the present-day continental United States. Mexicans previously living in Mexican territory were now living in America after the seizures and purchases. This is where the phrase comes from, hence the phrase: “We did not cross the border, the Border crossed us” Educate wuey, no nomas digas pendejadas como “jingoistic slogans”.
  • Rosey Abuabara Oscar.. Mike has a very dry sense of humor. I’m not offended by his banter. I’m pretty sure he’s just making interesting conversation. Which is good. We need discourse!
  • Rosey Abuabara lol.. Love the use of “wuey”! Haha.. Esé!
  • Oscar Garcia What he does not understand is that we are not Illegal in a land that was our ancestors before the Europeans came and took it as theirs. We’re indigenous to this land.
  • Rosey Abuabara I think he understands. I don’t want to speak for him.. But, yeah.. I see that “the gringos” would rather we just assimilate rather than bring our tamales out. It’s hot dogs and apple pie for everyone. Yes. This is my native land. I’ve been here. We’ve been here. Our ancestors lived in harmony with the land. It’s time for them to start assimilate to harmonious land living. Que no?
  • Oscar Garcia In a way they have Rosey Abuabara. There are many who do want tamales, and want to learn about our culture. I have hosted many Fiestas for 16 de Septiembre and Cinco de Mayo where we have had Azteca dancers and have heard how Mexico got its Independence. How a Mexican American lead a handful of Mexicans and repelled the invading French from Puebla. How Cortez burned Cuathemoc’s feet and how his invading Spanish army killed the Aztecs.
  • Rosey Abuabara Yeah, I agree.. They love our food, our music, our parties! We really know how to party! Puro party! I’m glad for the interest in our culture. I just think too many complain, and they don’t know about the politics of $$$$$ and how to be good neighbors. We send more money elsewhere rather than make sure our neighbors are doing good.
  • Mike Kueber Oscar, you apparently lost track of my earlier comment asking you what the Mexican cession of 1848 had to do with the current illegal immigrants. And Rosey Abuabara, I have no issue with the extent you want to assimilate or not. My Norwegian friends and family in North Dakota like to retain their ancestral culture, too. Just as the German-Americans do in Castroville, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg. This would be much simpler if you didn’t insist on conflating illegal immigration with legal immigration, but that is not possible when you argue for open borders and reparations.
  • Rosey Abuabara the freaking issue that you don’t seem to understand is that WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN THIS USED TO BE MEXICO.
  • Rosey Abuabara AND WE WERE HERE FIRST. I don’t fucking understand how you don’t get that. It seems that you are too far away from your homeland that you can’t even understand the concept. We call it ‘Merica for a reason. Simple minded people who think they know something, but really don’t. And, are not even aware they don’t get a deeper concept, that they insist on being right. And, you have no idea what people go through in poverty. REAL poverty. I’ve known lots of people who have come here illegally.., with great fear and sadness, and much sadness. They do it so that a family at home can survive. Yes. SURVIVE. And, but for the grace of God, there go I. and that is the gods honest truth.
  • Oscar Garcia you use words million dollar words like that is going to make us be at awe of your domination of the English language. I really do not give a crap about the words you use as intimidation because those tactics do not work. I may be a Mexican American but I can understand what you are trying to do. You are the one that is lost, we have been here for thousands of years.
  • Mike Kueber Oscar, what do you want?
  • Oscar Garcia It is not what I want, it is what you need to understand. We are not Illegal in our own homeland.
  • Mike Kueber Who is we?

Oscar Garcia You are lost if you do not understand.

Mike Kueber Can’t answer, can you! Are you saying that anyone with Indian blood from Central America or South America has a right to come into the United States?

Oscar Garcia People see you, they say he is American. People see me they say he is illegal.

Oscar Garcia That is what you do not understand. This whole continent belonged to the indigenous people of the Americas. That includes the United States and Canada. Educate Wuey.

Mike Kueber Yes, there is a profiling issue because there are so many people from Mexico here illegally. Just like there is a profiling problem with young, male African-Americans because so many of them are involved in crime. [Or Middle East men because so many of the terrorists are from the Middle East.]

Mike Kueber So all the descendants of indigenous people have the right to come to America?

Oscar Garcia See? You are lost.

Oscar Garcia Estas bien perdido carnal.See Translation

Mike Kueber Slogans and Spanish; is that all you’ve got?

Rosey Abuabara Mike you just don’t have have the capacity

Oscar Garcia What I got is contempt for the likes of people like you who think they are the owners of this land and can dictate to everyone.

Rosey Abuabara I’m with Oscar. And to think I was defending you to him.

Rosey Abuabara I get called a “dirty Mexican”

Oscar Garcia He is a profiler who thinks that we do not belong here, and that all African American males are involved in crime. I am glad that he is not my friend.

Rosey Abuabara Ugh.. I know. I’m reconsidering.

Rosey Abuabara At least he was straight up about his feelings about us. Why does this piss the gringos off so much??

Rosey Abuabara Esta mas perdido…

Oscar Garcia Because they think that we should not be here, and that this land belongs to them.

Rosey Abuabara Pendejos.See Translation

Mike Kueber I am stating facts. You act like I am arguing for bigotry and prejudice. All I am doing is arguing for controlled borders. You want open borders. Simple disagreement.

Rosey Abuabara Mike, if you want to “discuss”.. Then discuss. But you got ugly real quick.

Oscar Garcia No, there is no simple disagreement. You showed your true colors, and how you really feel.

Rosey Abuabara We are stating facts too.

Mike Kueber And, yes, Texas and America govern this land, not Mexico. Of course, Rosey and whoever can own whatever land they want to buy.

Rosey Abuabara Chingao.. And, really, why did you have to be ugly to Oscar?

Rosey Abuabara Do really think we don’t understand that concept?

Rosey Abuabara I’m done. I have students in surgery tomorrow early.

Mike Kueber Understand the concept of being ugly? If you check this thread, you will see that I have been respectful to you and Oscar. By contrast, you and Oscar had gone ad hominem.

Oscar Garcia Why do you think he uses words that he thinks we will not understand? He tries to intimidate with million dollar words

Oscar Garcia To him I am just another dumb Mexican who can hardly understand the English language.

Oscar Garcia And by the way Mike ad hominem is a Latin expression; ad hominem usually involves attacking the traits of an opponent as a means to invalidate their arguments.

Oscar Garcia I am done with this vato. He is not worthy of discussion.

Mike Kueber I didn’t learn much, either, Oscar.

Oscar Garcia You never did,

 

November 23, 2014

Narcissism and selfies

Filed under: Culture,Facebook — Mike Kueber @ 10:17 pm
Tags: ,

Narcissism is defined as an excessive interest in one’s physical appearance; inordinate fascination with oneself; vanity. A selfie is defined as a photo taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone, and shared on social media like Facebook, although I prefer the Urban Dictionary definition:

  • An act usually carried out by girls aged 12-21, the act involves taking photos of oneself while posing. If the act is carried out by a man, he is usually seen as being gay.

Some might argue that there is a connection between narcissism and selfies, and this possible connection was inadvertently confirmed by one of my Facebook friends this morning while she was on a charter bus to Houston to watch the Texans’ football game. She posted a photo of herself with two friends on the bus, and this prompted the following exchange:

  • My friend’s aunt: Selfie # 4 Rachel X. why sooo many selfies? [Thumbs-down icon.]
  • My friend: Plz Cuz they tell me I look pretty. Why Not Auntie. ..

My friend is not 12-21, but she is pretty.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

November 22, 2014

We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us.

Filed under: Culture,History,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 10:43 pm
Tags: ,

One of my least favorite columnists with the NY Times, Nicholas Kristof, penned a column yesterday titled, “Immigration Enriches You and Me.” You can almost imagine the column without reading it, but, for the record, he described three myths about immigration:

  1. Immigrants threaten our way of life. Many Americans see foreigners moving into their towns, see signs in Spanish, and fret about changes to the traditional fabric of society. Yet just look around. Immigration has hugely enriched our country. For starters, unless you are a full-blooded American Indian, we have you.
  2. Immigrants today are different because they’re illegals. Look, people aren’t legal or illegal, behaviors are.  If an investment banker is convicted of insider trading, he doesn’t become an illegal. So let’s refer not to “illegal immigrants” but to “undocumented immigrants.”
  3. Immigration reform is an unconstitutional power grad by a dictator. It’s difficult for me to judge the legality of Obama’s executive action, because I’m not an expert on legal issues like prosecutorial discretion.

Immediately after reading the column, I vented by sending the following comment to the Times:

Nicholas, you are wrong on all three counts:

  1. Legal immigrants do not threaten our way of life; illegal immigrants do. Please refrain from treating two different groups as a single group.
  2. Investment bankers who are convicted of insider trading are not granted amnesty; rather they become forever known as criminal investment bankers.
  3. If you are ill equipped to discuss President Obama’s imperial power-grab, I suggest that you spend a little time learning the subject instead of claiming ignorance in your column.

As I skimmed the hundreds of comments that the column drew, the following one from Ernest Velasquez caught my eye:

  • My great-great-great-grandfather was born in San Jose California in 1821. My grandfather was born in the Arizona territory in 1872 and my father was also born in the Arizona territory in 1911. My grandfather, grandmother, and some of the adult children, including my father moved to Chihuahua Mexico during the depression of 1917. Thus my brother and two sisters were born in Mexico. Based on the then existing immigration laws, my brother and I [males] were granted natural born citizenship at birth.
  • In the early 50’s we moved to Los Angeles where I went to school and upon graduation from High School, I joined the US Air Force and served four year in Germany which coincided with the building of The Berlin wall and the Cuban Missiles crisis. Just to make it clear, I love my country and served to protect our great democracy. My two favorite president: Jefferson and Lincoln.
  • Now to my point on current immigration. First: We Mexicans are not immigrants, we were conquered and lost the Southwest territory in the Mexican/American War of 1850 that included California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona New Mexico and Texas. Second: Many of us have the blood of Indigenous and European [Spanish] conquistadors running through our veins. Third: we were here first, so stop calling us immigrants. As the great union leader Dolores Huerta has stated, “We did not cross the border, the border crossed us.”

Although I’d heard the Huerta slogan before, I’d never considered whether it was accurate. So….

According to SocialistWorker.org:

  • “WE DIDN’T cross the border, the border crossed us.” This slogan of the immigrant rights movement expresses an historical fact–that much of the Western U.S. was once part of Mexico. The U.S. seized half of Mexico–including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California–in the Mexican-American war of 1846-48. The war cost almost 14,000 U.S. and twice as many Mexican lives.

But what does that have to do with illegal immigration? According to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 following the Mexican-American War, all heretofore Mexicans in the land ceded to America were eligible to be American citizens. This would have applied to Velasquez because his ancestors were already here, but it wouldn’t apply to many others.  According to Wikipedia:

  • The lands contained about 14,000 people in Alta California and fewer than 60,000 in Nuevo México, as well as large Native American nations such as the Navajo, Hopi, and dozens of others. A few relocated further south in Mexico. The great majority chose to remain in the U.S. and later became U.S. citizens.

My impression is that Mexico lost this mostly unpopulated territory to America because Americans were willing to settle it while Mexicans were not.  (Also, we were stronger and believed in Manifest Destiny.)  Only after America turned the territory into a wonderful place to live did vast numbers of Mexicans decide that they wanted to live here (and get out of Mexico). The fact that this part of America was a part of Mexico more than 150 years ago does nothing to support the argument that modern Mexicans have some special right to emigrate to America now.

p.s., I can find no information on the internet attributing the “border moved” slogan to Dolores Huerta, although upon further consideration, I noted that Velasquez simply said that she “stated” this.

November 21, 2014

President Obama unilaterally addresses America’s immigration mess

Last night, President Obama spoke to the American people about an Executive Action that he was taking to deal with America’s immigration mess. Conservatives are apoplectic because the president is taking actions that the American Congress has refused to take – i.e., he is legalizing (a) almost four million illegal immigrants who are parents of American citizens and (b) several hundred thousand more who came here as children.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a legal memorandum – “The Department of Homeland Security’s Authority to Prioritize Removal of Certain Aliens Unlawfully Present in the United States and to Defer Removal of Others” – explaining why the president’s action is not an illegal abrogation of congressional powers.  Essentially, it says that temporarily deferring action for some illegal immigrants is a reasonable use of executive discretion. Interestingly, the memo makes a distinction between deferring action against the illegal-immigrant parents of children born in America (sometimes called anchor babies) and the parents of DREAMERS (illegal-immigrant children who were previously granted deferred action under DACA by President Obama):

  • The decision to grant deferred action to DACA parents thus seems to depend critically on the earlier decision to make deferred action available to their children. But we are aware of no precedent for using deferred action in this way, to respond to humanitarian needs rooted in earlier exercises of deferred action.”  [Wouldn’t it be ironic if DREAMERS, who were granted deferred action because, as minors, they weren’t personally culpable for their illegal entry, could serve as an anchor for their parents, who were in fact culpable for their illegal entry?] 

My initial inclination is to join the partisan outrage against this unilateral action by our newest Imperial President, but I must admit that ever since I ran for Congress in 2010, I have supported immigration reform that would include legalization of illegal immigrants who have lived in America for 5-10 years. Although these people initially came to America illegally, legalization is fair because our country has allowed them to establish roots. President Obama’s action did not go as far I would if I were emperor for a day.

But neither is President Obama emperor. He may be empowered as the chief executive to prioritize his efforts against illegal immigration, but in my opinion he isn’t empowered to legalize (work permits, etc.) illegal immigrants.

Ed Gillespie, who almost pulled off the senatorial upset of 2014, issued an op-ed piece today in the NY Times suggesting that the new GOP Congress needs to not just repeal ObamaCare, but also needs to pass an ObamaCare alternative.  I suggest they should do the same with respect to immigration. And if President Obama vetoes it, the 2016 election can be a referendum.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more policy arguments and less obstruction and dysfunction?

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