Mike Kueber's Blog

January 19, 2015

Ivy Taylor and the Oscars under attack

This past weekend, a progressive female Facebook friend posted an article on SA’s black mayor, Ivy Taylor, and blasted her with, “I really can’t stand her. At all.” The article was titled, “Mayor Taylor says political correctness is ‘frustrating.’”

You can imagine my surprise at my friend’s antipathy toward our mayor because I thought progressive females would be highly partial toward a female who was the city’s first black mayor. After reading the article, however, I understood her displeasure. Namely, Mayor Taylor, when serving on the City Council last year, had voted against a gay-rights ordinance, which was one of my friend’s pet issues. (Her kids’ father has become a woman, and she fully supports him.)

In the article, Mayor Taylor defended (inarticulately, according to the article) her opposition to the ordinance and talked of abhorring political correctness. I have often taken a similar position in this blog re: political correctness in a wide assortment of contexts, and I was thinking of collecting them for a single post, but as I was doing some research, I stumbled on a new example in the NY Times today.

The paper’s media critic, David Carr, complained in an article headlined, “Why the Oscars omission of ‘Selma’ matters.” I initially was confused by the headline because I thought Selma had been nominated, but as I read the article I learned that Carr was upset because, although Selma had been nominated, the lead actor and director hadn’t. Carr then proceeded to criticize these omissions, not based on their merits, but rather because:

  • But yes, it still matters. The news continues to be full of all manner of pathology and victimization involving black Americans, and when a moment comes to celebrate both a historical giant and a pure creative achievement, it merits significant and broad recognition.”

According to Carr, it wasn’t enough that a black film – Twelve Years a Slave – won Best Movie last year. Unless the Academy continues to recognize black films, it will appear that it is merely “ticking off boxes.” Under that rationale, America will need to follow up President Obama’s election with another black president just to show it wasn’t merely ticking off a box.

Carr’s comment that most agitated me was as follows:

  • And no club in the United States — over the last several years, the academy has been around 93 percent white, 76 percent male and an average of 63 years old — is in more need of new blood than Hollywood.”

That reminds me of the current efforts of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to force “diversity” into the Silicon Valley. According to them, the tech industry will be vastly improved if it had fewer whites and Asians, and more women, Hispanics, and African-Americans.

But when you consider which industries in America are vibrant world leaders, the first that come to mind are the movie industry and technology. I suggest that those are the last places we want to see increased progressive-government meddling.

December 17, 2014

Bill Clinton on race relations post-Ferguson and post-Staten Island

Bill Clinton was recently interviewed by the modern Walter Cronkite, Jorge Ramos of Fusion TV (a network directed at millennials and Hispanics). During the interview, Clinton weighed-in on race relations in America in the aftermath of the Ferguson and Staten Island killings.  When asked if race relations in America were getting better, Clinton said “yes and no.”

  • Yes, there are more opportunities for blacks in business and the professions.
  • No, there is an on-going problem with the American majority acting out of fear because of preconceived notions based on race and socio-economic groups that don’t share the majority’s values and lifestyle, which results in arrest rates, with a wild racial disparity.

Clinton suggested that this on-going problem was manifested in the Eric Garner killing in Staten Island. While noting that Garner had six children, was overweight and afflicted by heart and lung problems, and was trying to supplement his income by illegally selling untaxed cigarettes, Clinton declared, “he didn’t deserve to die.”

The injustice to Garner prompted Clinton to comment on the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson. According to Clinton, even if the grand jury was right, with Brown “being super-aggressive and all that,” it is undeniable that Brown was chased down, unarmed, and shot.

Based on these two incidents, Clinton concludes that there is a huge problem because of the divide between the community and police. Further, this divide is caused (a) by preconceptions that are triggered in scared people, and (b) the fear of minorities in these communities that they are disposable and not important.

I find several flaws with Clinton’s position:

  1. As a factual matter, Brown was not chased down and shot. According to Grand Jury evidence, he was a fleeing felon who was pursued, but he wasn’t shot at until he turned and charged Officer Wilson. Are police not supposed to pursue fleeing felons? Are they not to shoot a charging felon who has already tried to take your gun?
  2. Clinton implies that the wide disparity with African-American arrest rate is based on more on racial discrimination than on actual criminal activity. What support is there for that suggestion?
  3. Clinton is using a straw-man argument in declaring that Garner didn’t deserve to die. Who has said that Garner deserved to die? His death was an accident precipitated by a sickly 350-pound guy resisting arrest.
  4. Clinton complains that the majority has a preconception (as well as a pre-wired DNA) to fear minorities from a lower socio-economic level, the same people who are arrested and incarcerated at alarming rates. It seems Pollyannaish for Clinton to think that people should ignore their common sense. He might be more effective if he focused on reducing criminal activity in those communities.

I think Charles Barkley has provided better insights on this issue.   He points out that the police are not the bad guys in these situations. Rather, they are the only people who are preventing these communities from devolving into the Wild West, much like northern Mexico. Instead of focusing on the police, Clinton should be focusing on how to transform these communities so that they share mainstream American values.

Ironically, Clinton ended his interview by lamenting about black parents with good values having to explain to their kids about the death of these two unarmed black men. That explanation doesn’t seem difficult to me. Both deceased men were criminals who resisted arrest. The one who acted in a “super-aggressive” fashion was shot in self-defense by a police officer; the other was a Goliath who was accidentally killed while being subdued.

This sort of explanation is far easier than trying to re-wire people to ignore the obvious.

December 12, 2014

Racially insensitive?

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice,Media — Mike Kueber @ 10:53 am
Tags: , ,

This morning I woke up to an article in USA Today charging two Hollywood types with “racially insensitive emails about President Obama” that were hacked and then published by Buzzfeed.  According to the article, producer Pascal was planning to attend an Obama fundraiser, and she joked in an email exchange with fellow producer Rudin about asking Obama at the fundraiser whether he enjoyed a particular movie, and they exchanged suggestions for various black-themed movies – Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, The Butler, Ride Along, and Think Like a Man.

The joking (some articles called is mocking) seems benign to me. Although it has some similarity to Fuzzy Zoeller’s infamous comment in 1997 about the prospect of Tiger Woods designating fried chicken as the main course for next year’s Masters’ Champion’s Dinner, there is a big difference between (a) associating a person with low-brow fare (the Washington Post recently apologized for jokingly connecting Julian Castro with fajitas) and (b) suggesting that a black president might be inclined to be interested in black-themed movies.

And it seems totally inaccurate to characterize this joking as racist, as the NY Daily News did. The NY Times probably got in right in calling the emails, “Embarrassing, racially tinged.”

Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete until we have heard from the so-called race hustlers. (As defined by Urban Dictionary, race hustler is “a term coined to describe those individuals of a particular race who project themselves into the media spotlight as spokespersons whenever there is an alleged racial incident which involves their race. The use of the word implies that these individuals exploit a racial situation to serve their own interests.” The Times concluded its article with the following:

  • Also on Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton, in a statement, condemned the exchange between Ms. Pascal and Mr. Rudin as “offensive, insulting” and took further aim at Ms. Pascal, saying her comments reflected a “troubling” lack of diversity at her studio and others.

Sounds like Pascal and Rudin can buy their peace with Sharpton by spending some money on affirmative action for African-Americans. Kind of reminds me of medieval Catholics and indulgences.

Sharpton’s full statement reads as follows:

The statements in the leaked emails by Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal to producer Scott Rudin are offensive, insulting and should be denounced in the harshest terms.

 What is most troubling about these statements is that they reflect a continued lack of diversity in positions of power in major Hollywood studios. The statements clearly show how comfortable major studio powers are with racial language and marginalization. Her apology is not enough there must be moves by her studio and others to respect the African American community and reflect that respect in their hiring and business practices.

She should meet with Black leaders immediately to deal with the gravity of her statements as well as the inequality of how they do business. I have asked Rev. KW Tulloss of National Action Network’s Los Angeles Chapter to convene an emergency meeting to weigh further actions in this area.

These emails nominate Amy Pascal to be considered by some of us in the same light that we concluded and moved on the ownership of Donald Sterling of the L.A. Clippers.”

-Reverend Al Sharpton, President, National Action Network

 

December 8, 2014

Yoga doesn’t care….

Filed under: Culture,Fitness,Philosophy — Mike Kueber @ 9:56 pm
Tags: , ,

This morning, as I was sitting with a good friend at the back of the yoga studio waiting for practice to begin, I started talking about some of our classmates. Although the term “catty” may be associated with the fairer sex, I take a back seat to no one when it comes to being catty.  The targets of my cattiness today were people who seemed to be excessively proud of their appearance. I mentioned to my friend that back in high school we used to call these people “stuck up.”

My reference to life in high school reminded me of how much yoga practice resembles high school, one of the most egalitarian places in America. In high school, at least at my high school, you were judged mostly on your personality and your character (the way you treated other people). It didn’t matter how much money your parents had or whether you were a great intellect or possessed a strong work ethic or had some special skill (music, athletics).

After high school and college, however, things change. Socio-economic status becomes more pervasive and invasive. Relationships often involve either networking or deferring to those with higher socio-economic status.

But yoga is different. It harkens back to the egalitarian days of high school. Students dress mostly the same and people aren’t treated better just because they are more skillful with the various asanas. Your relationships with your classmates depend on your personality and character, not on whether you are “successful” in a socio-economic way.

Coincidentally, at today’s yoga practice, my yogi read a poem (from Elephant Journal) that relates exactly to what I was already thinking. The following are some excerpts:

  • Yoga isn’t about our lifestyle, our beliefs, our weight, our diet, our flexibility, how spiritual or enlightened we are—yoga is just about showing up and doing our dance on our mats.
  • Yoga doesn’t care if you wear Lululemon or Spiritual Gangster.
  • Yoga doesn’t care if you are vegetarian, if you eat meat or know what Kombucha is.
  • Yoga doesn’t care what kind of mat you have, brand new or eating away at itself.
  • Yoga doesn’t care what religion you believe in.
  • Yoga doesn’t care what color your skin is or what gender you choose to love.
  • Yoga doesn’t care how much money you have, what house you live in, what car you drive.
  • Yoga doesn’t care if you fall over in Trikonasana.
  • Yoga doesn’t care if you ever make it into head stand.
  • Yoga doesn’t care if you smoke cigarettes and drink whisky.
  • Yoga doesn’t care what political party you vote for.
  • Yoga doesn’t care if you are single or divorced.
  • Yoga doesn’t care if you shop at whole foods.

Yoga is just happy you show up.

December 3, 2014

Mexican nationals

Filed under: Culture — Mike Kueber @ 6:00 pm
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This Thanksgiving a friend from yoga who happens to be a Mexican national posted the following entry on his Facebook wall:

  • Just a minute of reflection; I’m not an American citizen, but I’m a thankful to live here since 1999, this country has adopted my family and I, and I am profoundly thankful, U.S, opened its doors to us and we have been able to achieve the life we’ve wanted, our American Dream!!! Today’s is a holiday that everyone should celebrate, join family and close friends, be thankful for everything you have, starting with health, work & love….. Happy thanksgiving!!!

I was so impressed by his attitude that I shared it to my Facebook wall and added the following:

  • Jose and his wife Maria Fernanda Gtz. Zamora are wonderful friends I met at Lifetime Fitness.

A few days later, I bumped into Jose at Lifetime Fitness. He told me that he appreciated my comments, and I told him that I appreciated his. During our conversation, he told me how one of his friends from Mexico in America has a completely different attitude; that she believes Americans look down on her. She has told him that they even call her a “Mexican national.”

As I was stumbling to digest the insight about “Mexican national,” Jose went on to say that this woman was here only for security reasons, but eventually wanted to return to Mexico. By contrast, Jose loved America and wanted to live here and manage his small business. In Jose’s mind, the term “Mexican national” described an exile who wants to return, not an immigrant.

Because I didn’t have the opportunity to explore this issue further with Jose, I put it off for a later discussion with several of my yoga classmates who are what I for years have been calling Mexican nationals.

I am very fond of these classmates and obviously the term will disappear from my vocabulary if it offends them. I had thought the term Mexican-American was reserved for citizens, but maybe not.

To be continued.

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
Tags: , ,

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
Tags: , , , ,

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.

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