Friday, July 30, 2010

Propaganda, Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics -- Blind Belief in Statistics that Support your Bias

I have been dumb-founded by the lack of logic and integrity (or even respect for a legitimate contention of an opponent) at a certain right-wing blog mentioned in a recent similarly titled post. It is clear that many of the anti-immigrants of this state and nation are beyond reason.

When a writer provides statistical data, I have always been taught to approach data with skepticism.

If the writer includes statistical data and has cited sources (other than "I got this from my friend") than the writer has passed the first test of integrity. Next, readers should check the source. If the source comes from groups who are not known to have certain biases (i.e. government agencies, and (although they often fail) educational research universities) then the data overcomes my level of skepticism and I will accept it as factual. I may disagree with the methodology of the calculations or the conclusions of the statistical data, but I no longer question the author's integrity.

Conversely, if a writer uses statistical data and cites no legitimate traceable source, then my skepticism alarm is (at least minority) set off. Next, I ask the writer for there source. If the writer either provides a legitimate and traceable source or admits that they don't have a legitimate source -- I am appeased and I either accept the data as factual or in the least I can stop questioning the author's integrity. However, if the author passes off something official looking that has no relation to the data that the writer provided -- that author is a poor journalist. If the writer insists that the source provided is accurate I check the sources further. If the source cited by the writer shows no discernible connection to the writer's data after thorough review -- the author becomes a fraud.

This other blogger's lack of integrity with her sourcing has reached fraudulent status for me.

Her commentators derided skepticism as liberalism and one mocked my questions with the epithet "FBI Jr. Fact Checker". The same commentator claims that this is what blogs have devolved into. Sadly, I fear he may be right. I guess you can say anything on blogs even if you have no evidence.

You know what -- I drink lots of milk and I don't have cancer. A friend of mine who also drinks milk and also doesn't have cancer therefore is totally engulfed in milk's cancer fighting ability sent me this:

"The CDC reports that people who drink milk are less likely to have cancer"

Since I drink milk and don't have cancer. The CDC information from my "friend" must be true. Therefore milk must prevent cancer.

I think I am going to market milk to oncologists.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Senator Hatch -- Unethical (un ├ęthik'l)


The title is an homage to the Senator's 2006 Campaign Billboards.

Senator Hatch, the Senator that I love to hate, is such a beacon of honesty and integrity from the Beehive state. For example, he wouldn't dream of skirting federal tax laws. I'm sure he would never try and pay off a GOP official to the tune of 5,000 dollars a month after being appointed Utah State GOP chairman.

Oops.

It's true. Mike Lee's idol, the senior senator from Utah who has successfully skirted Federal employment tax laws through his campaign for years -- the same laws that cost small businessmen a 100% penalty if caught disobeying. Senator Hatch has kept paying his former campaign manager Dave Hansen 5,000 dollars a month since he officially resigned as Hatch's campaign manager after being elected Utah GOP chief in 2009 -- although he is paid only as a subcontractor.

Dave Hansen's explanation:

He calls the $60,000 “a bonus” for his past work as Hatch’s campaign manager.

That's right a bonus. Is that what Rangel would call it?

At least Hatch finally appears to (hopefully) have his employee classification correct.

Hatch paid Hansen 10,000 a month from 2004 to 2009. Illegally (at least in my opinion) he claimed and paid Hansen as a subcontractor for employment tax purposes. That position was a major stretch to say the least while Hansen was his campaign manager. Unless Hatch allowed Hansen to moonlight as campaign manager for other campaigns, he was an employee.

Is anyone there?

I took a blog hiatus for a while, and it looks like no one is reading blogs anymore.

Hello!?!

Please feel free to comment. I enjoy comments that are with me or against me. Anyone?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Propaganda, Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics -- Reloaded

On the blog Lady Logician, the blogger used a few statistical pieces of evidence that illegals are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime in the US. I am separating this post into two pieces because state Sen. Jon Greiner has graciously provided me with more data regarding the Weber/Morgan Narcotics Strike Force study that was released shortly after the governor's summit several days ago and was quoted by the blogger Lady Logician. I need to spend some time with the report that the Senator provided me so that I can be more objective and fair in my analysis. Don't get me wrong my opinion will be included, but I want to take the time to at least read all available information before opining again on that data.

In the second half of the blog post "The Cost of Illegal Immigration, Pt 1" the lady quotes an alleged 2006 FBI report. She provided no source link, but instead the blogger uses the tried and who knows if it is true "the friend lives near the border, so they are totally engulfed in the story and it must be true" argument. That's right, data coming from someone near the border has zero hidden agendas regarding immigration, right? Here is the data:

The following information is compiled from Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security reports(for 2006 ed):

* 83% of warrants for murder in Phoenix are for illegal aliens.

* 86% of warrants for murder in Albuquerque are for illegal aliens.

* 75% of those on the most wanted list in Los Angeles , Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens.

* 24.9% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals

* 40.1% of all inmates in Arizona detention centers are Mexican nationals

* 48.2% of all inmates in New Mexico detention centers are Mexican nationals

* 29% (630,000) convicted illegal alien felons fill our state and Federal prisons at a cost of $1.6 billion annually

* 53% plus of all investigated burglaries reported in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Texas are perpetrated by illegal aliens.

* 50% plus of all gang members in Los Angeles are illegal aliens

* 71% plus of all apprehended cars stolen in 2005 in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California were stolen by Illegal aliens or "transport coyotes".

* 47% of cited/stopped drivers in California have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 47%, 92% are illegal aliens.

* 63% of cited/stopped drivers in Arizona have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 63%, 97% are illegal aliens

* 66% of cited/stopped drivers in New Mexico have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 66% 98% are illegal aliens.
The blogger got into a tiff with a commentator who asked for the source data, and the writer cited "it was complied from a 2006 FBI/DHS report that is online" as a source. I asked for further clarification like a HTML and she provided this link. She apparently never bothered to look at the link. The link is a FBI state by state analysis of all US crime for 2006 and the list of crimes, ironically, includes no mention of illegal immigration.

I tried Googling the header of the data and I actually found the source. It was on a blog called Free Republic and many commentators asked the same questions I did regarding the authenticity of the alleged FBI report cited by the blog mentioned supra, Lady Logician, and her border-residing friend. One commentator did some digging and this is what was found:

i really need some fact checking on these stats to believe them.

For what it's worth, I took a shot at it. LOL.

I went to the URL linked in Post 1 and it says that these stats were published at PollPundit.com. I went to the web page where these stats were published and the statistics came "from a reader."

Sunday, November 12th, 2006
From a reader, "INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants"

snip statistics

This information was provided by a reader. There are comments in the thread that are questioning the accuracy of this information. Another reader, provided a link for immigration statistical information, HERE.

("HERE" is www.immigrationcounters.com/.)

ImmigrationCounters.com refers you to www.immigrationcounters.com/datasource.html. No INS/FBI report is linked there. Maybe (and I stress maybe) the reader who posted at PoliPundit.com went to all the links listed there and compiled his stats from those different sources.

I searched at Google for "INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants" and came up with three websites. They are:

  1. PoliPundit.com » INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants
    INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants. 2006 (First Quarter) INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants. CRIME STATISTICS ..
    polipundit.com/index.php?p=15968 - 28k - Nov 12, 2006 - Cached - Similar pages rss 2.0

  2. ... (First Quarter) INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants
    CRIME STATISTICS 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens. ...
    polipundit.com/wp-rss2.php - 8k - Nov 12, 2006 - Cached - Similar pages

  3. Slowplay.com » Sports
    INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants. Polipundit - 3 hours ago. Drudge · DRUDGE RADIO LIVE SUNDAY NIGHT 10 PM ET TO 1 AM. ...
    www.slowplay.com/categories/sports/ - 25k - Nov 12, 2006 - Cached - Similar pages
Since the INS doesn't exist anymore, I doubt if there is a report actually titled "INS/FBI Statistical Report on Undocumented Immigrants". I am no closer to finding a source for this than I was when I started out. Oh well!
Here is a real "smoking gun" example of anti-immigrant pundits extrapolating data to all illegal immigrants that was (as far as this author can tell) invented completely out of whole cloth! More importantly it demonstrates how willing xenophobes are to disregard reason, logic, and even produce fabrications in order to maintain the status quo or pass Nazi-like Arizona laws. Xenophobes are not interested in finding the best solution to immigration, they want people to go back where they came from.

Now is the time to reverse the xenophobic past that has led our immigration system to the embarrassing point it has finally reached. Fabricated, inflated statistics and incendiary rhetoric from the xenophobic, anti-immigrant side is doing nothing to help, as the most recent LDS church statement says:
Find a successful resolution that requires the best thinking and goodwill of all across the political spectrum, the highest levels of statesmanship and the strongest desire to do what is best for all of God's children.
My parents and wife's parents have discussed some embarrassing moments of racist paranoia that they had to put up with from aged relatives in their adolescence. In one instance one of their relatives publicly whispered in a loud, near yelling volume, "hide my purse, its a black person!" Obviously, this was extremely embarrassing. The fallacious, incendiary rhetoric used (in some cases) with statistics that are (in at least one verified case) pure hearsay are just as embarrassing to the state of Utah and the logically minded, informed citizens of this state.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Arizona's Immigration Law -- Perverse Incentive

Larry Bergen at "One Utah" found this Arizona news report. It highlights the disconnect between anti-immigrant rhetoric and reality in the debate, but it also brings to light a possible conflict of interest for the Governor who signed SB 1070 into law.



I don't know that Pancho Sandstrom has any such connections, but I thought the Governor's evasiveness to the reporters questions were revealing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mike Lee -- Anti-Business Conservatism

In what will be one of many pre-election clashes, the Tribune had an article highlighting the differences between Mike Lee and Sam Granato on the subject of immigration. Officially, Sam Granato supports a proposal by President Obama that requires illegal immigrants to do the following before being granted a path to legal residency and citizenship:

1.) Pay Back Taxes -- This might be simple or quite expensive for some illegals depending on how they have been treated by employers and how the actual legislation is drafted.
2.) Learn English.
3.) Pay a fine.

Given Mike Lee's own interpretation of the criminal seriousness of illegal border crossing, this is the most logical approach for illegals -- speeders don't face exile, and neither should undocumented workers.

However, Mike Lee doesn't support this approach. Mike Lee instead believes that the government needs to step in with a heavy hand and crack down on American businesses that choose to hire undocumented workers. By so doing, he believes that illegals will simply go home because they will be unable to find work. He wants every illegal in the country (I'm not sure if he means by compulsion or "agency") to return home and to come back through existing legal channels.

My question to Mike Lee supporting right-wingers is this: Can Mike Lee represent conservative values when he is opting for increased government intrusion into businesses who are making decisions based on the economic laws that conservatives claim to embrace?

Taking Mike Lee's own beliefs and statements on immigration, the only reason Mexicans cross the border illegally is because they can find better paying jobs in the United States. The US demands cheaper labor than is available from US citizens due to things like minimum wage, Social Security taxes and many other (usually government caused) issues that cause the price for legal American labor to be high. The Mexican laborers supply cheaper labor and see a benefit in more money than they could make in Mexico. Businesses like farmers, manufacturers, and service businesses (many of which have high overhead without even counting labor costs) benefit by having workers at a price they can afford. These businesses demand the cheaper labor because their profit margins are usually low enough that they cannot afford, let alone find, good American labor at imposed American minimum wage price floors.

To me, it seems like Mike Lee is playing into the liberal hands that first passed the minimum wage and American unions -- all of which have decimated American's competitive edge in the global market place. Although impossible at this point, the "one true conservative" Mike Lee should pursue an end to minimum wages so that the laws of supply and demand, the invisible hand, can work to allow American laborers and businesses to reach market equilibrium. By Mike Lee's own arguments he should be fighting government intervention rather than pursuing more government intrusions into the marketplace -- historically bad governmental market interventions are one issue that makes illegal labor attractive to American employers.

The approach of amnesty and legal residency is a far more business friendly path. Undocumented workers who are usually highly valued by those that employ them can keep farmers and smaller less affluent businesses running. Undocumented workers can be put on a path to legally staying in this country. More importantly, illegals (who in many cases have been taxed for social security and medicare without credit) can begin to be legal voters, can openly file taxes, and can contribute to our society in ways that they can't while they are hiding from ICE.

Otherwise law abiding (no drug smugglers, or felons) illegal immigrants should be granted a path to legal residency and (if desired) citizenship. Our current system is founded on the racism and xenophobia of the 19th century. The time has come for us to return to the original intent of the founders and to, once again, embrace the poor and huddled masses that yearn for the prosperity and freedom our nation provides.

True Conservative? Exactly!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mormon Culture -- Pioneer Day & "Welfare Mentality"

I read the Facebook feed of a FB friend, I have never met this individual but I know he is a fellow political junky. This friend had decided to commemorate Pioneer Day by posting the following:
"our pioneer ancestors would be ashamed at our welfare mentality."
This produced some jeering agreement, one commenter mentioning "immorality" in Zion (he is a Mike Lee supporter, so maybe he is referring to those not supporting the one-true conservative, constitutional expert for Senate) and some decent with KVNU and Amicus blogger Tom Grover bringing up the United Order and the law of consecration. Tom's inference that the law of consecration and the United Order are akin to welfare, raised a fair amount of debate and disagreement. Some commentators arguing that the two are completely different, and others argued that tithing is the church portion of the law of consecration and the providing for the poor portion of the law has been replaced by government welfare programs through taxation. One argument made mentioned that millennial consecration will be administered by the government, which was countered by a "actually it will be administered by the church" which should be realized (according to the Mormon canon of scripture) that church and government will be one and the same in the millennium.

This debate spurred this internal question: Do Mormons believe it a sin to seek or receive welfare?

Judging from the pious indignation that some commentators on this feed showed, and some comments I have heard made in the communities of "Zion" where I have lived it would sure seem like it. What does "our welfare mentality" mean anyway? I have always believed that we are to have compassion for the poor and the needy -- isn't that the point of welfare, government or church administered? It can be ceded that the LDS church welfare system has a very wise "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" approach -- while much of Federal welfare remains focused on the giving of the fishes. However, the fact remains that both systems serve the purpose of helping the poor and the indigent.

Although I agree that government welfare is in fact different from the law of consecration (although my unrighteous mind can't quite wrap around the idea that everyone will share everything we have without any compulsion, but I also don't support Mike Lee for Senate and therefore am a stubble candidate). As I mentioned in a earlier post, I think many LDS church members need to examine their compliance to a commandment that Christ identified as the second greatest -- LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF. Members of the LDS church here in Utah (self-included) are quick to become myopic in their view of the gospel focusing on some pet commandments or self-imposed dogma (i.e. the commandment of self-reliance, having the mother not work in a family, or the twelfth article of faith) rather than remembering that our observance of commandments needs to be all encompassing -- even the ones (like loving thy neighbor) that require the flexing of a lot of Christ-like muscle. Like Eve, we need to look to the spirit of the commandments rather than, like Adam tried in vain to, be myopically bound to the letter of the law. It is good to self-reliant, but it is not good to condemn those who are unable to be self-reliant (temporary or permanent) for using welfare that is available. The Church of Jesus Christ recognizes this as they maintain one of the most impressive welfare programs in the world, and members who are overly pious about their self-reliance need to realize this as well.

I choose to commemorate Pioneer Day differently -- I believe our pioneer ancestors would be quite proud of the people of Zion. Welfare is available to all when the need arises, and, as the last couple of years has shown, no one is immune to being needy or wanting at sometime or another in their lives. I'm grateful for welfare, church administered or governmental, because it is there to catch me and any of my neighbors when the floor falls out from under us. Most people in Zion do there best to be self reliant, and our church has become a world leader in providing welfare for the poor by helping provide temporal needs in the short-term and educating the needy for job skills necessary to attain self-reliance long-term.

On the other hand. If you are a LDS church member, needing welfare may likely reveals one sinful aspect of that members life -- not following the admonition of the prophets to have a years worth of food storage. There I admit that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

U Accountant -- $100,000 for 10 Days in Jail

Who ever said that "crime doesn't pay" never met former U of U accountant Jara Jane Wimmer.

Wimmer started defrauding the University's theater department in 2001 with the first of many checks. From then until the U finally caught on in 2009, she fraudulently used professors' University credit cards, paid her husband regular checks from the University coffers, charged plane tickets to Cancun on her University credit card, and enjoyed several thousands of dollars in illegitimate purchases which she covered up by forging invoices, delivery slips, and order requisitions.

What is her punishment?
3rd District Judge William Barrett ordered Wimmer, 33, to serve 10 days in jail, perform 200 hours of community service and pay $123,000 in restitution.
The article states that her theft was 100,000 dollars more that the amount that than the restitution order. So, Ms. Wimmer profited 10,000 dollars per day in jail -- not a bad deal. Sure she has community service and she theoretically "has" to pay 123,000 dollars back. However, Ms. Wimmer and her now deceased hubby lived pretty sweet on a pretty small salary and she gets to keep 45% of her booty -- I wonder if my local college is hiring for bookkeepers?

Internal Controls

There appears to be some basic internal controls that the U theater department was missing all those years -- multiple reviews of department books, duel signatures on department checks, and regular reviews of credit card expense reports. All of these internal controls are taught in lower level accounting courses. Kudos (in a sarcastic way) to Ms. Wimmer for identifying Mack truck-sized flaws in the U of U's internal controls -- if only you had a soul, you would have reported them to management instead of buying purses with taxpayer and donor's funds.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Governor's Photo Op -- I Mean Summit

After being accused of not showing much indignation regarding the infamous DWStapo list, Governor Herbert hosted a "round table discussion" on immigration. He invited 30 state legislature representatives, community activists, religious leaders, and media personalities -- so everyone sees that Governor Herbert is in to giving everyone a fair chance to voice their concerns.

I'm an accountant, and each year I am required to attend 30 hours of continuing education. Inevitably there are always "roundtable discussions" at the events -- I have attended 1 in 6 years. In my experience they are always a waste of time. Governor Herbert didn't disappoint in this regard either.

The discussion started off with the idea of a Utah-ran guest worker program. This program would (somehow) skirt US immigration and allow migrant workers to travel between Utah and their home countries. Utah Farm Bureau supports this idea, citing a tragic incident one farmer endured waiting for Peruvian workers to clear Customs:
“One rancher recently told me about the death of 300 of his lambs while his Peruvian workers were delayed 30 days,”
I guess the thought of offering a little more money to hire locally was a moot point, but I digress. This was ultimately attacked by Rep. and Sen. Wimmer and Waddoups, the former citing that GW programs would bear the appearance of "amnesty" and the latter cited high unemployment as a reason not to be inviting guest workers to our state. Finally it took the rep from the Catholic Diocese to point out that all Utah programs would amount to Band-Aids -- the ultimate solution needs to come from the Fed.

Inevitably the Arizona law was brought up. Wash. Co. Sherriff Smith pointed that the AZ law is pointless unless the suspected undocumented worker is also a felon. However, Happy Valley anti-immigrant Sandstrom pressed the idea of a Utah version of AZ law further claiming:
enabling Utah police to stop suspected undocumented immigrants will give police a way to find those dangerous criminals (because all illegals are here to bring drugs). And even if ICE does let go some immigrants, Sandstrom said, at least there is a record of that person.
That's right. Pull over all the Hispanics so we can have a record of that person -- then rounding them up for the final solution will be so much easier (insert Dr. Evil laugh)

The incumbent governor made sure to place overall blame on the Federal government, and to call on Congress to secure borders -- he's making sure everyone knows he isn't to blame for illegals. He also made sure we knew he is highly involved in investigating the list.

After two hours the meeting ended with no consensus on legislation or policy. However Gov. Gary Herbert encouraged everyone to keep working.

I hope the participants received a free lunch for their time.

Illegal Immigration & the Church

I have been quite wrapped up in the immigration debate -- insanity always intrigues me. The dialogue in this debate has been quite heated, and unfortunately uninformed and xenophobic from some on the extreme right. The really disconcerting part about the right is that much of the really (near-racist) anti-immigration rhetoric is coming from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It needs to be reminded that the anti-immigrant rhetoric hasn't been echoed by the LDS church's leadership which reiterated its position just yesterday:
"Elected officials have the primary responsibility to find solutions in the best interests of all whose lives will be impacted by their actions."

The Church is again asking for civil discourse when addressing immigration, noting, "Finding a successful resolution will require the best thinking and goodwill of all across the political spectrum, the highest levels of statesmanship and the strongest desire to do what is best for all of God's children."


However we still have openly LDS commentators like former US Senate candidate Eager, Mike Lee, State Rep's Wimmer and Sandstrom, and others who are fanning the flames of xenophobia with arguments like:

"Anchor Baby"
"81 percent of the homicides, when you have a recorded ethnicity, are committed by Hispanics"
"illegals are joining a militant separatist group to take America for Mexico"
"they don't even love our country, because I saw them waving Mexican flags in protest footage on Fox News Channel" (that one came from a family member)

Now, if you are crazy enough, try and tell some of these people they are wrong and watch the accusations of near-heresy fly! Then you may ask, on what grounds do the extreme right use to make such accusations? For Mormons, twelfth Article of Faith:
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
That's right -- the Hannitized rule of law argument.

Okay, fine. Let's discuss the rule of law and illegal immigration. One of the principle anti-immigration voices is Mike Lee, on his campaign website he advocates the deportation of all illegal immigrants before they can pursue legitimate citizenship (me may mean voluntary, but he means for all of them to go back to their home country before they can be put on a citizenship path). Then the pre-primary Sutherland debate happened. In that debate, Mike Lee was asked how serious he viewed illegal immigration on the criminal spectrum? Mike Lee's answer -- about as serious as a speeding violation. Does that mean, as Ethan Millard pointed out a while back, that police should escort speeders home so they can follow the "rule of law" as they travel? It would seem that ridiculous. Given the "one true conservative constitutional expert's" explanation of illegal immigration's criminal seriousness, let us also consider the hypocrisy in the extreme right's use of "honoring, and sustaining the law."

I live in So. Utah and I travel to SLC once every two to three months, usually for appointments with my doctor or to visit family. On that drive I usually drive 5 to 7 miles over the speed limit, mainly because I have heard police won't pull you over at that speed and I haven't been pulled over at that speed -- so it must be true, right? However, once I reach the Wasatch front 5 to 7 miles over the speed limit is hazardously slow -- the LDS majority on the Wasatch front speeds by more than 5 miles over the limit. So, if illegal immigration is akin to speeding (a crime that a majority of this state commits on a daily basis) in criminal seriousness than the xenophobic extreme right wing of this state need to heed Christ's admonition to "let him who is without sin first caste a stone."

What is more troubling about the immigration debate here in Zion is the lack of compassion towards the Hispanic community. The Hyrum City 4th of July incident is a prime example. During a community gathering before holiday activities began a Hispanic pastor asked permission to say the opening prayer in Spanish. That prayer has led to calls for the resignation of city council members -- it is incredible that a prayer in Spanish can cause so much outrage in a state that claims to be a beacon of Christian values.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has called for civil discourse. Maybe it is time for those who are so invested in the commandment of the 12th Article of Faith to step back and remember the 2nd greatest commandment -- "love thy neighbor as thyself." As the official LDS church statement says,

"Finding a successful resolution will require the best thinking and goodwill of all across the political spectrum, the highest levels of statesmanship and the strongest desire to do what is best for all of God's children."
In order for "the best thinking and goodwill" to be available in this debate, xenophobia-inspired fallacious statistics and incendiary rhetoric need to be left by the way side. Once that is done, our elected representatives and government leaders can use the "desire to do what is best for all God's children" to draft logical well-reasoned immigration policy that can reverse the rotten past of US immigration policy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hatch -- A True Frienemy

Hatch, the man Tea Party members claimed to be gunning for after Bob Bennett's ousting, has been practicing major quid pro quo lately with Mike Lee. It turns out that Mike Lee is a life long fan of Hatch and so turning Mike Lee from enemy to lapdog has been quite simple for the Senior Senator (insert Dr. Evil laugh)

Unfortunately there is a paradox for Orrin Hatch, or it would be if Orrin Hatch still had a soul:

Sen. Orrin Hatch is a fan of Sam Granato, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. Granato has a room at his flagship store reserved for the senator, and Hatch’s good buddy “Mr. Mac” Christensen is Granato’s campaign co-chairman.

So, how does Senator Hatch treat his friend:

“Mike is being challenged by Sammy Granato. I really like my little friend Sammy. Sammy has no chance of winning. Even Sammy knows he has no chance of winning. I don’t even think Sammy’s a Democrat, but they just came to him and asked him to run. Either way, Mike knows he needs to run scared and not take anything for granted.”
Now I'd like to insert the Flames on the Side of My Face" bit from Clue:


Seriously, I don't know that I have ever read such a condescending, arrogant load of crap. Come on Sam Granato -- move the Hatch room out to the dumpster for that!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Governor's Response to the Illegal Immigration List

The Utah Amicus posted a press release from Wayne Holland regarding Governor Herbert's less than condemning response to the state's leak of personal information out of Workforce Services. Wayne Holland poses the question, why hasn't he been willing to condemn the list makers?

It's because aggressively migrant-opposed organizations are leading him by the nose so effectively that he won’t even denounce the illegal release of private information.

"Utahns deserve leadership who know where and how to draw the line. Illegal immigration laws need to be strongly enforced, while maintaining an element of humanity. A governor who cannot manage to state a clear answer to such a simple and moralistic issue demonstrates a lack of character and conviction."

I agree with Chariman Holland. Even at the press conference the Governor seemed more concerned with defending his actions rather than condemning such Nazi-esque intimidation tactics. Governor Herbert is the type of Utah Republican that has made me stray from the Republican Party, lacking personal conviction and character, and relying wholly on his membership in the Republican Party to maintain his place in the state's political landscape.

The GOP convention that ousted Bennett would have been wiser to follow the precedent set with the ousting of Olene Walker before he and Huntsman Jr. were elected.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Immigration -- Mr. Boyack.

Conner Boyack has authored an exhaustive piece on immigration. Despite his support of Mike Lee, he supports amnesty for illegal immigrants. His piece was quite long -- too long for a self-employed accountant/Mr. Mom to read in one sitting. There were a few quotes that I found most notable:
Our current immigration situation can be likened to a rotting tree, either in need of being felled or nurtured to good health. If we were to dig up the roots, though, we would see that they are poisoned; the foundation upon which our modern immigration laws rest is evil and wrong. This poison consists of two parts: racism and protectionism........

Both racism and protectionism are evil—nobody has the right to deny another individual, regardless of race, the right to rent or purchase private property (and therefore cannot delegate that authority to the government they have organized), and nobody has the right to mandate through law that their industry be favored through tariffs, salary caps, minimum wage, or anything related.

And yet, these two poisons have produced the rotting tree we now call immigration law; rather than felling it and starting fresh, many people want the tree to grow and extend its branches—all while ignoring the roots.

Mr. Boyack's (although I have only skimmed through it a couple of times so far) is quite refreshing and highly recommended.

My Most Recent Non-US Born Ancestor's Immigration

I was home last week and the discussion of illegal immigration came up with my parents. My mother was in favor of laws like the one enacted in Arizona. My mom is a wonderful woman, but she is as xenophobic as can be. She tried to use the arguments of "rule of law" and "invaders from the south" as justification for her support for laws like that enacted in Arizona, but she later admitted she hates that every time she makes a phone call it asks you whether you want the call in English or Spanish.

This discussion led to a discussion of my grandmother's 1939 immigration to the US. My mother honestly didn't know the specifics of her immigration, so we made a few phone calls. It turns out that her sister, and likely my grandmother were sponsored for visas by President Heber J. Grant. My grandmother's sister worked as a maid for the prophet, and often had early morning conversations with him -- I hope someone can find her journals. My grandmother met my grandfather, a Cache valley native, got married and secured a permanent resident visa.

What's the point of my bringing my grandmother up? Mostly, just because I found it interesting.

Mr. Boyack points out in his essay that illegal immigration didn't exist in the American legal system until passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 -- the rotten roots of our current immigration system. Since then we have strayed further and further away from the intent of the founders desire ( I especially like the Madison quote in Mr. Boyacks essay:
“America was indebted to emigration for [America's] settlement & prosperity”)
for a nation that had open borders and openly let anyone desiring prosperity to come here and do so.

My own grandmother, although coming legally, used the marriage exception to secure permanent residency. There was no fraud involved -- my grandparents were happily married for 50+ years. However, her permanent residency was secured by one of the most despised exceptions to US xenophobes. Her marriage came within months of her arrival, and I have no doubt that many anti-immigrants would question the marriage's speed as being an illegitimate loophole to the "rule of law".

Since the 1930's even, the system's mountainous bureaucracy has become nearly impenetrable for those who attempt to do it legally. It is no wonder that illegal immigration is so popular.

Mr. Boyack is dead on (although I wonder how his sensible views on immigration reconciles to his support of Mike Lee). Amnesty is necessary to allow illegals who are here with legitimate desires to partake of the American dream can do so without fear of lists and being exiled from their new homes for a violation that even Mike Lee admits is less serious than a misdemeanor.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mike Lee & Sen. Hatch

Hattip: Thomas Burr

Senator Hatch, who I suspect is feeling a tad vulnerable after Senator Bennett's ousting, hosted a fundraiser for Mike Lee. During the fundraiser Senator Hatch praised Mike Lee, and Mike Lee returned the favor:
noting for the audience that in high school he had pictures of Hatch and Karl Malone in his bedroom.

Sorry, hold on a moment, I think I threw up a little in my mouth.

What kind of Senator will Mike Lee be? Mike Lee will be Orrin Hatch the man he idolized in high school along with Karl Malone. Lee supporters can believe whatever they want under their tin-foil hats about Mike Lee being the candidate who will rise up and save the US Constitution, but the fact remains that Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch are political twins 30+ years removed.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

DOMA striken in US District Court

In an interesting decision, US District Judge Tauro struck DOMA down with unequivocal language:

Congress undertook this classification for the one purpose that lies
entirely outside of legislative bounds, to disadvantage a group of which it
disapproves. Such a classification, the constitution clearly will not
permit.
So, where will this take the gay marriage debate? I assume we are a major step closer to a SCOTUS battle that will decide the issue once and for all.

For what it is worth, here is my two cents. Judge Tauro is somewhat right -- the purpose of DOMA was to quell gay marriage. While I am not fond of the idea of gay marriage, I realize that oppressing the desires of consenting adults to be lawfully bound in marriage is discrimination.

Due to the sacredness of marriage to many religions, I would prefer the nation adopt and enforce civil unions that are treated as marriages for all legal and governmental purposes.

Honestly, I think the biggest problem of gay marriage for opponents (especially where religions are involved) is the use of the term "marriage." One of the biggest legitimate legal reason (as far I see) for the fear of gay marriage by religions is anti-discrimination laws and IRC Section 501(c)(3) status. One stipulation of 501(c)(3) is that the tax exempt organization doesn't promote hate or discrimination. Gay marriage could quite possibly (and probably) open the flood gates for discrimination complaints against religions that refuse to perform gay marriage -- possibly risking 501(c)(3) status for various religions that don't decide to adjust religious doctrines in order to allow gay marriage.

Anyways, this debate is likely to heat up again in the coming days. It is going to be interesting to see what happens.

Utah County Republicans -- "Those rules weren't meant for us? We're the true political party."

Quelle Surprise! The Republican party is held to a different "completely ignore the rules" standard in the Utah County Freedom Festival. Does this surprise anyone? Isn't the Utah County Freedom Festival about conservative talk show (Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck) hosts and the Republican party -- the Utah County Democrats should be grateful they were even allowed to have a parade entry!

Seriously, the Freedom Festival sent rules to the Utah County Democratic Party informing them that they could not let any campaigning at all occur on the parade route -- no campaign stickers, no candidates campaigning on the parade route, no campaign T-shirts, or campaign paraphernalia of any kind. According to the Tribune report and the Utah County Dem chairman, this was followed by the UCDemocratic Party. The Utah County Republican Party apparently got a different memo

Republicans were allowed to identify their candidates, plaster their parade
float with political messages, and have one candidate actually campaign as he
walked the parade route.


In response to these allegation the Freedom Festival organizers said the committee would review the rules and tighten up on some of the parade regulations. However, they also said that Chairman Davis was "making a mountain out of a mole hill." Really, your right -- I doubt this would have gotten it's segment own the Sean Hannity show if the situation was reversed.

The Utah County Republican chairman had the best response to these allegations:

Taylor Oldroyd, Davis’ Republican counterpart, said it was the Democrats who broke rules by having a float that wasn’t self-propelled, as required by the rules, and having someone follow the Republican float to harass them.

“They can’t win at the ballot box, and they can’t win on issues, so this is what they do,” Oldroyd said.

Way to go Mr. Oldroyd! You ignored the parade rules, likely with the Freedom Festival organizers duplicity, and once caught you found a much more egregious error by your rival -- not having a self-propelled float. Quick, someone call the Federal Election Commission!

Now, as icing on the cake, you may be asking who was the candidate that walked the parade route? The walking candidate was none other than Mike "lobbyist's rules don't apply to me because I'm the one true-conservative constitutional expert" Lee. However, we should excuse Mr. Lee because as non-douche bag UT County GOP chairman Taylor Oldroid said:

Lee walked with the float, but he only went to greet family members when he
was told that it was a violation by an unidentified member of the
Democratic party

Apparently, Mike Lee is only responsible for following rules when someone tells him he is breaking one. Mike, when elected, here is a list of a few rules you shouldn't break, taking bribes, when lobbying, not registering as a lobbyist (oops), and I wonder how your tax returns look? (Commenters should feel free to add to this list)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Doug Robinson Feeds Zoobite Sorrow and Anger at Ute PAC-10 Invite

In a recent sports article, Deseret News sports writer Doug Robinson cries foul on the PAC-10 for claiming that the Utah invite over BYU was due in part to the University of Utah's research mission. He even insinuates (as maybe true) anti-Mormite (antisemitism for LDS Church members)sentiments might be to blame:

The Cougars came with what most would consider baggage: They won't play on Sunday, which would create headaches for the Pac-10 TV contract, and their honor code and conservative living don't fit in with the liberal Pac-10 crowd.

Doug Robinson doesn't buy a word of the PAC-10's claim to support research driven institutions -- he fails to look at the academic facts.

Here are a few statistics to compare BYU and Utah:

Utah Nobel Prize Winners -- 2(Google)
Mario Cappechi -- Medicine
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan -- Chemistry
Actually won for work at the U of U!

BYU Nobel Prize Winners -- 1
Paul D. Boyer -- Chemistry (Work Done at UCLA -- PAC-10 School)

Academic Ranking of World Universities
Utah (World) 80th
BYU (World) 303rd to 401st

Utah (US) 47th
BYU (US) 135th -162nd

Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Utah 259th
BYU 501st to 600th

Utah has a renowed research hospital and medical school -- BYU doesn't.

The facts support that Utah is more of a research institution than BYU. So let's cut the "crapola" Doug -- the PAC-10 can choose whoever they want to for their conference by whatever criteria they deem relavant. Stop feeding the "We're persecuted Mormon's" fire that already rages in "tin foil hat" wearing Utah County!

The other members of the PAC-10 are highly ranked academic & research institutions as well:

Arizona
Arizona State
Berkeley
Stanford

UCLA (BYU's lone Nobel Recipient did his award winning work at UCLA)
(tired of making links -- you get the idea)

Hatch votes No on Kagen and says "Please Don't Can Me!"

Senator Hatch announced that, for the second time in 34 years, he will vote against a SCOTUS nominee.

So why the no vote? Answer: He knows (or at least feels) that his days are numbered.

Unfortunately Hatch fails to show intellectual honesty or respect for the intelligence of his constituency in this strategy. Senator Hatch gave nothing but glowing praise for Kagen as a Solicitor General nominee, "brilliant legal scholar" are some the words Hatch used to describe the SCOTUS nominee back then -- why a no vote for SCOTUS? His answer:

Hatch said he is not convinced that Kagan wouldn’t become an “activist” justice and that she fails to meet the standard to which he’s held previous nominees.
Seriously?!? Senator Hatch wants the voters of this state to believe he held Ruth "The Crypt Keeper" Bader-Ginsberg to the same standard that is keeping him from voting for Kagen? If you believe that, I have a lovely 4 bedroom home in So. Utah that I'd like to sell you for a mere 300k. Senator Hatch is as corrupt a Washington politician as they come. If any good comes, now or later. from Sen. Bennett's ousting I hope that it includes the ousting of Senator Hatch in '12 -- at least Bennett's ousting got Hatch pretending to try and follow (or even care about) the will of Utah voters.

What a schmuck!