Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Fiesta in Mexico

What do these three pictures have in common?



Well, we have Bush, Calderon, and Harper working on Super-NAFTA. (Don’t worry, folks. It’s nothing really. Just ask Media Matters, that bastion of liberal truth.)

Then we have the Made in Mexico emblem.

And finally, the Ford Fiesta.

Ford will begin producing the Fiesta in a plant in Cuautitlan, near Mexico City. (Gee they didn’t even pick a depressed area or a border town.)

Ford President Alan Mulally said: “Ford is absolutely committed to leveraging our global assets to accelerate the shift to more fuel-efficient small cars and powertrain technologies that people really want and value.”

In other words, Ford is committed to giving jobs to Mexican workers rather than American workers, even though these cars will be sold in the United States.

Don’t get me wrong; I think the UAW has gouged the car companies (and the American consumers) by making unreasonable demands for salaries and benefits. But I think we ought to be able to pay assembly workers a living wage AND build our own cars here if we work at it.

But Bush is still unable to make the connection between NAFTA and our own unemployment problem. America needs to BUILD things, not just flip burgers.

Joint Statement by President Bush, President Calderon, Prime Minister Harper
April 22, 2008
As continental neighbors and partners committed to democratic government, the rule of law and respect for individual rights and freedoms, Canada, Mexico and the United States have shared interests in keeping North America secure, prosperous, and competitive in today's global environment. We met in New Orleans to discuss how we might collaborate further to achieve these goals, as well as to discuss our hemispheric and global interests and concerns.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), based on the principle that security and prosperity depend on each other, is a useful mechanism that helps us to identify and pursue practical solutions to shared challenges in North America in a way that respects our individual and sovereign interests. We each remain open and accountable to our own people.
The SPP complements the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has helped to triple trade since 1993 among our three countries to a projected $1 trillion in 2008. NAFTA has offered our consumers a greater variety of better and less expensive goods and services, encouraged our businesses to increase investment throughout North America, and helped to create millions of new jobs in all three countries. NAFTA is key to maintaining North America's competitive edge in an increasingly complex, fast-paced and connected global marketplace.
(end of quote)

Full speed ahead, Washington.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Your rights

You DO NOT have the right to remain silent. At least not in school. Illinois passed a law allowing a moment of silence to begin each day…a moment for prayer, reflection, planning your Festivus party, or picking the lint out of your navel.

But atheist Bob Sherman and his daughter made them stop that at one suburban school.

Now Federal Judge Robert Gettleman has expanded the ban to include all Illinois schools.

Gettleman is the same judge who coached the plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit against District U46. He told them they didn’t have a case, but if they did a few things they would have a case.

Now $3 MILLION later, the school district is still fighting the court battle.

Not to worry. As any school teacher will tell you, silence in the classroom is almost impossible to maintain anyway.

Yes, Gettleman was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994.

Gov Aaaanold mourns

A photo caught my eye this morning. It was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attending the funeral of a 17-year-old girl from Mexico. Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez died of heat exhaustion while working in a vineyard east of Stockton.

Maria was illegal. Maria was two months pregnant. She has become an icon for the United Farm Workers. Her coffin was even draped in a UFW flag. And Gov Schwarzenegger himself attended the funeral.



It brings to mind the official outcry from the White House when 14 illegal aliens died of dehydration and exposure while attempting to enter the United States in 2001:
For Immediate ReleaseOffice of the Press SecretaryMay 25, 2001
Statement by the Press Secretary

The President called Mexican President Vicente Fox this morning to express deep sadness and condolences to President Fox, and the Mexican people, over the horrible deaths of 14 Mexicans in the Arizona desert earlier this week.

The Presidents reaffirmed the importance of our ongoing efforts on border safety and migration, to ensure that tragic events such as this do not happen again. They noted we are making steady progress, and pledged both sides would work hard to carry this process forward.
(End of White House Statement)

But I don’t believe any governors attended these funerals:



Where’s the outcry regarding illegal aliens who kill citizens? What constitutes politically correct grief? Who speaks for the dead citizens? Apparently not the governors or the president.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Off topic - again!


Sorry to depart from the immigration issue again, but this is one local issue that irks me to no end.

Last night the city fathers of Elgin voted to spend $291,000 to study the need for a new performance hall. Actually, they are going to study the cost of renovation to make the Hemmens auditorium adequate for our current needs.

The $291,000 is going to the same company that studied the matter two years ago, Economic Research Associates.

The news story provides the framework for their study. Just listen to what the mayor is complaining about and then write your report.

Here are said deficiencies:
Lack of restrooms
Poor acoustics
Climate control problems in the lobby
Seating capacity (only 1,200 seats)

By the way, Mayor Schock, you’d better purge the city website of these quotes: “…Harry Belafonte has described as a “jewel” is an acoustical gem with no seat farther from the stage than 87 ft.” and “The Hemmens' acoustically superb 1,200-seat theater has been the platform for dynamite performances by mega-stars such as B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Bob Newhart, Ray Price and Gin Blossoms.”

Two years ago this group suggested that we build a new symphony hall to the tune of $125 MILLION, to which the taxpayers choked.

I’m more than a little put out by the price tag of this study. How could it possibly be worth $291,000? Would we not be better off creating specs and then letting out bids?

The whole thing is an Elgin Symphony Orchestra ruse to get what they want. That 1,200 seat venue is already being scheduled regularly, and would be used more if the ESO didn’t strong arm the city and block other legitimate users.

The city council isn’t fooling anyone by adding this extra (and expensive) step on their road to a new hall.

But Economic Research Associates and the mayor are all smiles as they spend a quarter of a million dollars to justify their position, an expensive price tag to stroke a few egos.

And this issue will most certainly be aired in the upcoming elections.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

American farmers, don't look back!

It is happening, just a Michael Chertoff predicted a year ago. Remember when he was lobbying the Senate last June for comprehensive immigration reform? He told NPR, “I’ll give you a very vivid picture of what will happen if we don’t have a bill. Crops will rot in the field. Fruit will not be picked. Some of those farmers will finally decide they want to move their farms South of the border or North of the border into Canada so they can get the workers. I don’t see any outcome in the status quo that is a good outcome.”

And Secretary Chertoff was right. Just today I saw a news item from the AP that said, “American companies now farm more than 45,000 acres of land in three Mexican states, employing about 11,000 people, a 2007 survey by the U.S. farm group Western Growers shows.”

Egad, 45,000 acres! Just for kicks I looked it up. The USDA says that in 2002 (the last year available) the United States had 434,160,000 acres of cropland which represents 46% of all farmland.

So it isn’t likely that Mexico will be the breadbasket of the United States any time soon, especially when you consider this statement made by Steve Scaroni, owner of VegPacker of California that runs an operation in Guanajuato, Mexico. Steve told the AP, “The only thing that's cheaper down here is diesel fuel and the labor per day. My productivity is down 40 percent” from U.S. levels.

And let’s not forget the need to enforce food-safety standards!

Maybe if there was a dime to be made by moving farms south, the MBAs would have already done it.

For you compassionate conservatives out there, you must also consider the impact we are having with the locals when we move our farming operations down there.

Here’s what they are saying: “Not everyone in Mexico has welcomed U.S. companies. Mexican farmers complain that they have driven up land rental prices. Many local growers worry they can't compete against big, foreign firms, said Felipe Sanchez, president of a farmers group in Guanajuato state.
“How can a ranch that farms 70 acres compete with a company that came to farm 10,000 acres?” Sanchez said. “We'll become laborers on our own ranches.”
Farm workers at U.S. companies in Mexico make two or three times Mexico's minimum wage of $4.80 a day.”

(Source: Some U.S. farms outsourced to Mexico by Jessica Bernstein-Wax, ASSOCIATED PRESS May 26, 2008)

It's not fair

There was an interesting article in the Deseret News (Salt Lake City) regarding the plight of Hispanic workers. They are complaining about low pay and losing their jobs. And they feel discriminated against because they earn less than other workers.

The article was carefully crafted to avoid the immigration status of the victims in the spotlight. And the facts and figures they quoted spoke in general terms rather than apples-to-apples comparisons.

At the end I found myself quoting Clara Peller: “Where’s the beef?”

Before we get into the meat of the article’s pity plea, I’d like to quote a few figures of my own. From the United States Census 2007 Current Population Survey we find that there are 6,850,000 illegal aliens WORKING in the United States.

But there are 10,104,000 teenagers out of work (age 15-17). But they should be in school, right? And they can only work part time, right? And some of the illegals are doing dangerous work, right?

There are also 22,344,000 citizens ages 18-64 who are not working. Surely we can replace those 6.8 MILLION illegal alien workers with our own. At least we should be able to put a serious dent in that number as long as the employers are legitimate. If they are nothing more than exploiters then we can’t fix the problem, but if they are legitimate business owners we can fill those jobs with Americans.

OK, now about the article. Overall, Hispanic women who work full time earn a median weekly salary of just $460 a week, according to a recent Pew Hispanic Center analysis of Current Population Survey data. That compares with $615 for non-Hispanic women.

Hispanic women born in the U.S. fared better than Hispanic immigrants, making $540 a week compared with $400 for immigrants, according to the Pew data. Mexican immigrants made the least, with median earnings of only $368 a week. That's just 60 cents for every dollar earned by a non-Hispanic woman.

Did Pew Hispanic Center, that bastion of true data, just slip something by us? I think they did. Was there anything in that data to compare the type of work or level of education required? Or are they Socialistic enough over at Pew to expect everyone to earn the same amount, regardless of the job?

Quoting again, Olga Vives, executive vice president of the National Organization for Women, says immigrants' wages are largely impacted by three factors: their legal status, education level and language barrier. NOW gets it. She might add “skill set” to the list, but she isn’t hiding the facts like reporter Debby Bunkley is trying to do.

Now, the bureaucrat rings in with, And Elena Bensor of the Utah Labor Commission says Hispanic women, particularly the undocumented, are less likely to report being victims of unscrupulous employers. However, even legal immigrants may be the target of on-the-job discrimination because of the assumption they're undocumented.
“That's because some employers threaten to turn workers in to immigration authorities for deportation if they report unpaid wages or sexual harassment, she said.
"One challenge in dealing with immigrant populations is that they do not want to create waves," Bensor said. "There's a reluctancy on their part to actually pursue and file complaints. They want to stay under the radar."

Once again Bunkley fails to completely identify Elena. Elena is the Fair Housing Coordinator for the labor commission and a Latino activist in her spare time (Generacion Floreciente Board of Directors and various other committees and boards).

I’m not following Elena’s logic that somehow people with work papers are reluctant to complain. It sure sounds like a hit-and-run comment to me.

The article goes on to lament the lack of women in construction jobs by talking to Hispanic women who think it is unfair that they can’t have the $14/hour roofing jobs. (Here’s the employment test – Put two bundles of shingles on your shoulder and climb that ladder.)

Now, Bunkley dazzles us with the woman-on-the-street expert.
However, whether perceived or real, many Hispanic women feel there is on-the-job wage discrimination based solely on their gender.
"Sometimes, even if the woman has the same skills as a man, a manager will give the women less money," said Dores Nuila, a mother of nine children. "There's a lot of sexism."
Nuila, who quit high school, actually earns $3 more an hour than her boyfriend, at her $13-an-hour customer service job. Throughout the years, though, there have been times when her boyfriend was the primary income-earner."

It looks like Debby needs a new Rolodex, unless she doesn't bother with the facts when she writes her pity pieces.

Source: Hispanic women face wage gap compared with others in the U.S. by Deborah Bulkeley and Laura Hancock, Deseret News Published: May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Assimilation Index

Well, I’ve read through that report from the Manhattan Institute about assimilation. (You’ll recall my recent blog about the different headlines generated by the same report.)

They took census data and came up with four indices for assimilation.
1) Economic assimilation– Earned income, unemployment, income-by occupation, educational attainment, and home ownership.
2) Cultural assimilation – Speaks English, intermarriage, number of children, and marital status.
3) Civic assimilation – Naturalized citizenship and military service.
4) Composite assimilation – All three above in a weighted formula.

So, what were the rankings? Here are the top 10 by composite assimilation:
Germany 87
Panama 80
Czechoslovakia 75
Austria 74
Italy 67
Scotland 67
Belgium 65
Hungary 63
England 63
Greece 60

And the bottom 10:
Somalia 18
Bulgaria 18
El Salvador 18
Yemen Arab Republic (North) 17
India 16
Cameroon 16
Honduras 15
Guatemala 14
Mexico 13
Nepal 8

The problem with Mexico being almost the worst is that Mexico accounts for 31% of our total foreign-born population (legal) and 56% of the illegal aliens running around.

The apologists say the study is unfair because it doesn’t really measure immigrants against time-in-country. I say our immigration model needs to be reworked to lower the quotas and re-align the countries of origin. We have obviously exceeded our ability to properly assimilate the huge numbers we are seeing.

Wordsmithing over at DHS

Here is a link to an actual Department of Homeland Security document on the correct terminology for writing about terrorists:
http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/126.pdf

It is strange to think that we don’t have enough money for immigration enforcement but we’ve got people doing research for a government stylebook to avoid offending terrorists. But here are the nine pages to prove it.

When you read it, you’ll note that we must be very sensitive to the feelings of …well, I’m not sure what to call them but they are the subject of the memo.

I was thinking about the furor (oops, I shouldn’t use that word) going on in Texas with the polygamist FLDS church. It would seem after reading the document, this group would have done much better if they had been from the middle east. Then the government would have to be sensitive to their culture. And they wouldn’t have sullied the reputation of the Mormons in the process.

As columnist Bret Stephens pointed out in the Journal today, one of the banned words is “liberty”; we’ll use “progress” instead. (page 7)

The entire tone of this memo is defeatism. DHS is apologizing for our country and what it stands for. We must defer to the feelings of these people, even if they have immigrated to our soil. We must avoid hegemony at all costs.

Can you imagine what a document like this would sound like to a Marine stationed in the desert, putting his butt on the line every day? Either Homeland Security is singing a lullaby to the sleeper cells or we’ve completely lost our way.

Congress creating a crisis

We have been allowing work visas for some time now. The two most familiar are H1B and H2B, with all their typical government gobbledygook added so that only an immigration lawyer can sort it out.

H1B is typically for skilled workers with some special education and/or training that we want or need.

H2B is for unskilled workers. These are season jobs like crop picking, landscaping, maid service, construction, busboys, etc. The number is set at 66,000 per year.

Now, one would think that if Washington were concerned about our tomatoes they would just adjust that 66,000 to meet the demand.

But Congress doesn’t work that way. In the immigration equivalent of an earmark, they attached an H2B provision to the Iraq Funding Bill. But it was more than just adjusting the number of visas.

Instead, they wanted to create a path to citizenship for the H2B crowd. And they wanted to do the same for families of H2B visa holders. And they wanted to fiddle with the repeat customers of H2B (returning workers).

As a byproduct, they are creating buzz at the resorts and orchards of our country due to a lack of workers. Just what the politicians want. “See, we need immigrant labor and the way to get it is comprehensive immigration reform.”

But they withdrew their bill because immigration watchdogs like NumbersUSA were on to them.

Why can’t this government keep it simple? Why must they try to slip one by the American people? Harry Reid tried his procedural trick again. And the fact that the bill had to be tacked on to war funding really shows their contempt for the American people.

I think most Americans would respond favorably if they just told us, “Look, we need more seasonal workers this year. They will be temporary. We want to encourage people to come and work one season, then give the job to someone else the next year. We don’t want to imply that the job is permanent. We don’t want to bring in families. It is just what you think it is – a SEASONAL, TEMP program. We’re making the number 100,000 this year. Anyone caught here after the visa expires will be immediately deported and banned from the United States for ten years.”

Mr. Bush, Senators, Reps - - - We’ve been stung by your fine print before. We want it simple and straight or not at all.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Results

As we ponder our freedom this holiday I take you back to 2003.


Remember him? The Iraqi Information Minister

Remember these? All but ten have been captured or killed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._list_of_most-wanted_Iraqis

We thank those who risked their lives for us. We pray our troops will return home safe at the right time and for the right reasons.

And here is my favorite photo of sacrifice, punctuated by grief.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Circle of Life...

…becomes the Eddy of Death.

Picture a busy Saturday at a museum in Washington, DC. Doting parents out with their children for an educational experience got more than they bargained for last Saturday when five little ducklings got sucked into the intake of a recirculating pump as they paddled quietly around in a fountain.

Five other ducklings were spared the fate of their brothers when museum workers came to their rescue.

Not to worry. PETA will not file a suit against the museum. All those groups have an unwritten pact that they will only stick it to the man. The museum is called “The National Museum of the American Indian.”

This little tidbit from the Guttmacher Institute: In the District of Columbia, 17,500 of the 133,368 women of reproductive age became pregnant in 2005. 46% of these pregnancies resulted in live births and 41% in induced abortions. (a rate of 54.2 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age.)

Do the math. Twenty fetuses were aborted in DC last Saturday. The ducks fared much better. Sad, isn’t it?

Tweety Bird's Long Journey

It’s funny who our heroes are these days. We idolize drug addicts in the entertainment field and in professional sports. We turn war heroes into villains (General Petraeus).

In Third World countries it is even worse. There is the patron saint of drug lords, Jesus Malverde. And they even have Santo Toribio Romo, patron saint of illegal aliens.

So you shouldn’t be shocked to hear that a radio host in California who goes by the name “Piolin” (Spanish for Tweety Bird) has become a naturalized citizen. Real name Eduardo Sotelo.

Yes, he got his application in right before the fees went up. (A nice touch, don’t you think?)

Now, you and I might think that his long journey began at the U S Embassy in Mexico City, waiting in line years ago to get a work visa. He then got his green card and waited patiently for his chance to become a citizen, all the while making sure he lived a crime-free life so he wouldn’t disqualify himself.

Well, Piolin’s story isn’t like that at all. His real story makes him even more of a hero to Latinos everywhere.

His story began when he came into the United States as a teenager in 1986, hidden in the trunk of a car. And he collected cans along the side of the road to help his family. And his family lived in a garage. He even got fired from his jobs because he was illegal. Finally, he got a work permit, but the details of how he did that are a bit cloudy.

And need I explain that he was one of the people encouraging illegals to take to the streets in March of 2006 and subsequent rallies.

A real example of someone who walked the path to citizenship.

So, even using the low numbers of 12 million illegal aliens, it means that half of the 37 million foreign-born people living in the United States started out as illegal aliens (12 million plus another 7 million who have been granted some form of amnesty since 1986). Is anyone besides me troubled with that fact? Do you even care that 19 million people from other coutries simply invited themselves to come here?

And does it trouble you that we are glorifying someone who beat the system and incites anarchy? Is this the new American Dream success story?
I already have dibs on the movie rights. Tom Cruise will play Tweety. Rock Star Obama will do a cameo as himself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Being popular

Politicians need to feel loved. They smile, shake hands, tell jokes…They are so fun to be around. Parades, kissing babies, photo ops at tragedies…

But they have an increasingly difficult time maintaining their reputation. Approval ratings are in the tank. Indictments abound. Panic! Lots of elections this November. What’s a glad-hander to do?

Let us review the business model established by George Ryan, once a humble pharmacist in Kankakee, a town of 28,000 about 60 miles south of Chicago.

He became the most influential politician in Illinois, serving in the state legislature before becoming Secretary of State and then Governor.

Then his life began to unravel as it was discovered that drivers licenses were sold for bribes, which bribes were then donated to his election campaign. Next thing you know a trusted associate, Scott Fawell, was telling the court that Ryan had all sorts of deals going that benefited Ryan and his family and tainted the bidding process for state contracts.

As George saw it all unravel he began scrambling for his “legacy” (or was he just making efforts to appease future jurors?).

One such effort to establish his legacy was to remove the tollbooths. The tollway has been a thorn in the side of politicians in Illinois from the beginning. The promise way back in the 1950s was that they would build the toll roads, put up the booths, and once the roads were paid for they’d turn them into freeways.

Ryan was going to be a hero by finally tearing down the tollbooths. As popular as the idea was, Ryan got zero support for his idea. People knew it was just a stunt.

He finally settled on commuting the sentences of every inmate on death row in Illinois. He had the power to do it and didn’t need approval from anyone else. So he did it.

That was a long background story for the gas tax idea. Unleaded is over $4 a gallon here in Chicago. Our state reps are now proposing that we stop collecting the 5% Illinois gas tax to give people a little break on fuel costs.

Obama is even floating the idea on a national level.

The history of it is that George Ryan in his quest for a legacy actually stopped collecting the state fuel tax back in 2000. Obama was serving in Springfield at the time. Everyone was so happy with old George for doing us the favor.

In early 2001 they figured out that the tax was necessary for our road construction, so it was brought back.

So, here we are again. After fighting all last year over a state budget and people wanting to impeach Blagojevich, along come our leaders to rescind the state motor fuel tax.

Timing is everything in politics. Note that Denny Hastert is now working for the Democrats in Illinois, studying our infrastructure needs. He issued his preliminary report yesterday, stating the obvious:
Poshard, Hastert push $31 billion plan
By Kevin McDermott
St. Louis POST-DISPATCH SPRINGFIELD BUREAU
05/21/2008
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Former Congressmen Glenn Poshard and Dennis Hastert on Tuesday called for a sweeping $31 billion Illinois infrastructure program, to be funded partly by allowing slot machines in horse racing venues and by privatizing the state lottery.
But the two veteran political leaders — who have been Gov. Rod Blagojevich's roving emissaries on the issue lately — acknowledged that legislative distrust of Blagojevich has hampered their effort. Their recommendations include "accountability provisions" to reassure legislators that the
Democratic governor won't break any agreements on how the money is supposed to be spent. Blagojevich's administration backs the plan, but lawmakers may remain hesitant."
Part of the problem is a trust factor, frankly, between the Legislature and the governor," said Hastert, a Republican who is a former speaker of the U.S. House. "The reason we're here is because there's a stalemate." (end of quote from news story)
(As a sideshow, it was just last August when Glenn Poshard nearly lost his post as president of a state-owned university (SIU) because it was determined that he plagiarized parts of both his Masters and Doctorate theses. Cover your work with your arm, Denny!)
So, to recap. We have our state legislature trying to cut off road construction funding by taking away the gas tax. Blago is in bed with the former Republican Speaker of the House who sold his district to a Democrat by resigning early. Hastert’s bipartisan pal is known as the human copy machine. The plan is to turn a quick buck by selling the lottery (which by the way was supposed to be earmarked for education funding but got diverted to the general fund).
Hastert nailed down the problem in the news report above. Take note all you politicians. He said, “Part of the problem is a trust factor.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Update - Fun and games with a 20 foot chain

You can read the original blog here about the “better life” seeker who chained his girlfriend to an engine block so she couldn’t leave the apartment.
http://alienrants.blogspot.com/2007/12/news-from-out-west.html

Now, for the update, here’s the actual story of the trial and sentencing from The Salt Lake Tribune:
Sentence in chained-woman case
Kidnapping charge was dumped, but for beating, choking his girlfriend, man is sent to prison

By Stephen Hunt The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 05/20/2008 12:33:27 AM MDT

The attorney for a man accused of chaining his girlfriend to an engine block in his West Valley City apartment on Monday argued she asked to be tethered as a "show of her devotion." "It was a bizarre and unusual arrangement," said Jason Poppleton in court, but "there was no kidnapping." In fact, the second-degree felony kidnapping charge was dismissed last month against Fernando Orozco-Trevizo, 32, who pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree felony assault for beating and choking the victim.

Poppleton on Monday claimed that a prosecutor's request for prison time for his client rather than immediate deportation to Mexico was improperly based on the kidnapping charge. Third District Judge Randall Skanchy rejected the argument, sentencing Orozco-Trevizo to prison for up to five years followed by deportation. Orozco-Trevizo, who has nine aliases, was already in the U.S. illegally.

Poppleton had also argued the victim admitted during an interview with himself and prosecutor Alicia Cook that Orozco-Trevizo had at one point threw open the door and asked her to leave, but she begged him not to kick her out. As for the engine block, "that whole ordeal was her idea," Poppleton said. Cook said the victim did not protest at the outset of the chaining episode, which led to the kidnapping charge being dismissed,
but there came a time when she asked to be freed.

Cook said that throwing open the door and asking the woman to leave was "a demonstration of the power [Orozco-Trevizo] had over" his victim. The woman - who was not in court Monday - "didn't have a lot of resources available to her," Cook said. "[Orozco-Trevizo] and the apartment were only things she had."

Orozco-Trevizo bought a 20-foot dog chain Nov. 6, and began chaining the woman by the ankle while he was at work, according to charging documents. He also nailed all the windows shut in the apartment. According to a jail booking affidavit, Orozco-Trevizo told authorities he was concerned the woman was having an affair with someone in the apartment complex.
(End of story)

There was a time not long ago when Fernando would have never made it to the lock-up, let alone been given a light sentence. Times have changed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Vacation in Mexico

Some anti-illegal alien groups have been making the rounds at Mexican Embassies/Consulates. They walk around on the sidewalk with signs that read, “Boycott Mexican Tourism” or some such message.

The point is that if Mexico is going to send us their tired and poor we’ll punish them by going to The Bahamas rather than Cancun. Make sense?

Well, it appears Mexico has beat them to the punch. They have been working hard at it and succeeded in getting our State Department to issue a Travel Alert. There is another level called a Travel Warning. And the highest level – a Travel Ban.

Calderon decided when he took office that he was going to put an end to the Mexican Drug Lords who are making a mess of things. To that end, he has actually deployed military units to some cities to fight the gangs. I think he has committed 20,000 troops nationwide to the task.

(As an aside, good ol’ President Bush has sent money, trainers, and equipment to help Mexico in the effort. I believe the Merida Initiative commits $500 MILLION this year and $450 MILLION next year to spend on the drug war in Mexico alone.)

So, here’s what our State Department says about your vacation to Mexico:
"Violent criminal activity fueled by a war between criminal organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics trade continues along the U.S.-Mexico border. Attacks are aimed primarily at members of drug trafficking organizations, Mexican police forces, criminal justice officials, and journalists. However, foreign visitors and residents, including Americans, have been among the victims of homicides and kidnappings in the border region. In its effort to combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed military troops in various parts of the country. U.S. citizens are urged to cooperate with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways.

"Recent Mexican army and police force conflicts with heavily-armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades. Confrontations have taken place in numerous towns and cities in northern Mexico, including Tijuana in the Mexican state of Baja California, and Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua. The situation in northern Mexico remains very fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements there cannot be predicted.

"Armed robberies and carjackings, apparently unconnected to the narcotics-related violence, have increased in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007. Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas. Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles.

"U.S. citizens are urged to be especially alert to safety and security concerns when visiting the border region." (end of quote - - The alert continues at:
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_3028.html )

Daley vs. Daley

Mayor Ritchie Daley is fighting an internal struggle these days. On May Day he was preaching to the illegal alien amnesty crowd with phrases like, “Immigrants built this city.”

He’s always welcomed the illegal alien into Chicago. It is a sanctuary city.

But now he’s trying to find entry-level jobs for teens and the unemployed. Gang shootings are a regular occurrence in Chicago, and summer hasn’t even warmed up.

Every year Daley is in front of the camera touting his summer jobs program to get kids off the streets. But things just get worse and worse.

From the Chicago Tribune:
“Come summer, when students traditionally step into seasonal jobs, the youth employment rate is expected to hit 34.2 percent in what could be an unprecedented summertime low, the report said. About 33.5 percent of teens ages 16 through 19 had a job during the first three months of the year, the most dismal rate recorded since 1948.

“In Chicago, three-quarters of all youth did not work during the summer in 2006, the most recent data available. Joblessness among African-American teens between ages 16 and 19 was worse, hitting 85 percent, the report said.” (end of quote)

The Center for Immigration Studies issued a census data analysis late last year and pinned down the numbers for the State of Illinois. There are 288,000 illegal aliens working in Illinois. There are 804,000 people age 18-64 who are unemployed. There are 403,000 people age 15-17 who are also unemployed.

Here’s the report. Look for table 21:
http://www.cis.org/articles/2007/back1007.html

So, Mayor Daley, it seems that you have given away 288,000 jobs to your illegal alien friends. Wouldn’t it be great to teach a little work ethic to the citizens who need jobs rather than help out Mexico? D’ya think?

And, it’s a funny coincidence that illegal aliens are most likely to take the low-skilled, entry level, jobs. Those jobs would be just right for teens and folks on welfare, now wouldn’t they?

Mayor Daley, your policies are competing with each other. Either way, you lose.

If you hurry...


Crash strews Oreos over I-80
7:31 AM CDT, May 19, 2008

Several lanes of Interstate Highway 80 were shut down for hours overnight after a truck hauling Oreos crashed into a median, spilling tons of the chocolate cookies across the highway, police said.

The crash occurred at about 3:40 a.m. Monday on I-80 just east of Morris, said Master Sgt. Brian Mahoney of the Illinois State Police.

The truck was westbound, hauling about 20,000 pounds of Oreos, when the driver lost control and the rig hit a median before veering into the eastbound lanes. The impact ripped the trailer open, spilling its cargo across the eastbound lanes of the highway, he said.

The driver was not hurt, but police had to shut down the eastbound lanes for several hours while the cookies were cleaned up, Mahoney said. The wreckage had been moved to the side of the road and lanes had reopened by about 6 a.m.

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

(Chicago Tribune)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

No news day

In the business there is such a thing as a "slow news day." You pull out all the local interest stuff and "helpful hints" fillers.

But something happened last week that I've never seen before. I'll call it a "no news day." The oddity of it was that it was a national phenomenon. It's seems that amid all the floods, earthquakes, shootings, and graduations there was nothing to print.

What do I suggest as evidence? Two headlines:
Yearbook photos botched in 'unfortunate lapse'

and

Little League Player Benched Because Mother Failed to Work Concession Stand

The articles were as newsworthy as the headlines.

Does anyone have any explanation for this?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Postville, Iowa

Immigration officials conducted their largest workplace raid ever, according to numbers released to the press.

They descended on a kosher meat processing plant in Postville Iowa on Monday, May 12th. They performed what they call “administrative arrests” of 390 people. The total headcount at the plant is 968 employees.

Here’s the breakdown:
314 male and 76 female.
290 Guatemalans, 93 Mexicans, 7 Israeli or Unkrainian.

18 were between the ages of 13 and 17.

56 were given supervised release, generally because they are caregivers for relatives.

135 were charged with criminal offenses (mostly identity theft – a new ICE tactic, they say. The immigration lawyers are crying foul because they aren’t prepared for this new wrinkle.)

Of course, those arrested have already filed a counter-suit claiming workplace abuses such as:
*Agriprocessors procured false identification for its immigrant employees

*Withheld money from their paychecks for "immigration fees

*Didn't allow employees to use the restroom during 10-hour shifts

*Didn't compensate employees for overtime

*Were physically abused by supervisorsEquipment issued to perform work was substandard

*A floor supervisors duct-taped the eyes of a Guatemalan employee and then hit the employee with a meat hook

*Immigrants were paid $5 an hour and after three or four months, bumped up to $6

*Employee's taxes were deducted and deposited into bank accounts belonging to an unknown person or people

*An employee transported immigrant employees across state lines to Minnesota to get false state identification cards

*Checks were issued to certain immigrants with an unknown person's name on it and the check would be cashed at another portion of the plant

*A Department of Transportation investigator provided information that a supervisor at the company used an intricate and unlawful scheme to purchase and register a large number of cars for resale to the employees and a supervisor forced the employees to buy the cars from him or be fired.


After reading that list of complaints, you would think the town would be pleased someone is finally cleaning the place out. Not so. The libs and the churches are calling the feds villains for the raid. I suppose they want things the way they were before – torture and slavery.

I know it is common practice to name everybody in your lawsuits, but these folks are suing the feds for abuses at the hands of their employers. “Named in the suit is: United States Immigration Customs Enforcement; Department of Homeland Security; Julie Myers, assistant secretary of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Claude Arnold, Immigration and Customs special agent in charge at Postville; Michael Chertoff, secretary of Department of Homeland Security and Michael Mukasey, Attorney General of the United States.”

Oh, and on Tuesday, the day after the raid, 80% of the employees were absent. Does that tell you anything?

Actually ma'am, ICE is home. The illegal aliens are the ones who need to go home.


Some folks are sporting new jewelry these days.


Buh-bye!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Open Borders Riley Strikes Again!

Honestly, I should stop reading the Wall Street Journal…at least the Opinion pages.

Not only did Karl Rove get under my skin, but Jason Riley really got to me. I should have known better after my last reaction to him. See my April post about his work:
http://alienrants.blogspot.com/2008/04/immigrant-scapegoats-jason-riley.html

He begins by asking, “Whatever happened to immigration as a presidential campaign issue?” It’s like this, Riley. All three of them are pro-amnesty. Why would any of them bring it up? To aggravate the voters with their position? Or perhaps because they LIKE to talk about it, knowing the public reaction last summer when the Senate debated it?

Immigration is an issue to be avoided because it is a grand example of the lack of leadership in Washington for the last three decades. Why would any politician talk about it unless they were asked about it?

Riley can’t be serious if he thinks these three candidates want to talk details like back taxes, fines, fees, and background checks.

But he takes this debate silence to mean that the people are OK with illegal aliens. His take on it is that the people are actually opposed to multiculturalism. Here’s what Riley wrote: “The problem is the militant multiculturalists who want to turn America into some loose federation of ethnic and racial groups. The political right should continue to push back against bilingual education advocates, anti-American Chicano Studies professors, Spanish-language ballots, ethnically gerrymandered voting districts, La Raza's big-government agenda and all the rest.”

Yes Jason, these are problems that are closely linked to assimilation and the liberals’ burning desire to be like Canada. But make no mistake…America is still passionate about fixing the illegal alien crisis, and the solution doesn’t include amnesty for millions.

What's wrong with the GOP?

I just read an opinion piece (Wall Street Journal 5/15/08) about the problems of the Republican Party, written by Karl Rove.

He had some interesting things to say about the loss of some congressional seats in three straight special elections…elections the GOP should have won.

What irked me was Rove’s detached style of writing, as though he had nothing to do with the problem. How soon we forget that Rove was chief political strategist for Bush during all of his first term and two years into his second.

And he has the nerve to complain about how the party is handling things!

For example, the economy. Where was Rove during all the super NAFTA talks? He was right in the middle of things, exporting jobs to other countries. Surely Karl could see a growing trade deficit, shuttered factories, and the growing loss of IT and engineering jobs.

And Rove should have seen huge foreign investment in our loans. No doubt he could see Bush and Congress building the national debt. The economy is a key issue and Rove slept through it. Now he steps forward to advise the voter.

Then there is the Iraq war. Bush tried for three years to win it by outlasting an unidentified enemy. Finally we are seeing progress, but there is this haunting feeling that the administration wasted a year or two before finding the right combination of personnel, equipment, and strategy.

What does Rove suggest to save the GOP?

Don’t laugh – He says Republican candidates need to display a “sharp contrast” with Democrats. This from the man who tried to move the GOP to the left every chance he got.

And of course, McCain needs to court the young, Hispanics, and Jews.

Thanks, Karl, for nothing.

Apprehension

Apprehension is an interesting word. It has three definitions, according to my dictionary.
1) capture or arrest
2) perception or understanding
3) anxiety or dread

All three definitions come in to play at the border.

For example, the Bush administration reports that apprehensions are down at the border, meaning that they are capturing fewer illegals trying to enter the United States. The party line implies that fewer people are being caught because fewer people are attempting to cross. (Personally, I’m not so sure about that theory since we are famous for the illusion of security. If Bush wants it to appear that the flow of illegals is slowing, all he has to do is change the way the Border Patrol does business. And they have been known to do that before.)

Definition two is a hallmark of the illegal alien problem. Frankly, this nation doesn’t understand what’s going on here because Washington doesn’t get it.

Definition number 3, anxiety or dread, is way up at the border right now. There may be fewer captures, but there is a great deal more violence at the present time.

Here’s a quote from an AP story published yesterday: “In general, violence along the U.S. border has gone up over the years. Seven frontline border agents were killed in 2007, and two so far in 2008. Assaults against officers have also shot up from 335 in fiscal 2001 to 987 in fiscal 2007.

“There have been 362 assaults against officers during the first four months of 2008, according to Border Patrol statistics. The pattern has been that when more security resources are deployed along the U.S. border, violence against officers spike in response.” (end of AP quote)

On the Mexican side there was the assassination of the national police chief last week and three high-ranking police officials have sought asylum at the border because they can’t trust their own organizations.

And 24,000 Mexican soldiers have been deployed to fight the war on drugs. Several brutal gun battles have been fought recently in border towns. (Mexico has a zero tolerance gun control policy. It doesn’t seem to be working. They say it’s because the US keeps supplying them bootleg guns.)

I’d say anxiety is rather high at the border these days.

So, you wordsmiths out there will relish the idea that the level of apprehension is truthfully both up and down. For once politicians can be right!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Painting the whole picture

Washington is abuzz with bail-out plans for the mortgage crisis. It is a great topic for the socialists. And when you are running for office it is even better.

But details of the mortgage crisis are beginning to emerge, some of which tend to let the air out of the “compassion” tires.

A recent FBI report tells quite a different story than the one politicians are wont to tell. The politicians paint a picture of a hard-working family taken in by a lender who didn’t explain the loan to them, followed by unexpected expenses and/or job loss. Can you all see the innocent victim emerge? Buddy, can you spare a few hundred K?

But an FBI report explains all sorts of things that strip away the label “innocent.” Here is a sampling:

Fake appraisals. The lender was led to believe properties were worth more than their actual value. They show a photo of a trashed condo supposedly worth $275K. Surely the homeowner involved knew the value was inflated. The trick is to pretend there is equity over and above the loan amount when in truth the loan is for 100% of the value.

Foolish extension of credit. Subprime borrowers accounted for only 5.3% of all loans in 2003. By 2007 that number grew to 14%. Qualifying borrowers is a core task for banks. And information about applicants is readily available and very detailed. A lender’s bad judgment is NOT the taxpayers’ problem.

Income or Buyer misrepresentation. Another bank blunder I’m not inclined to have sympathy for. They claim to be victims of a rush to complete the applications. A nice way to put it, but I call it a lack of due diligence. And if a buyer lies about how much money he makes, I say he is on his own.

Avoiding FHA. There was a deliberate attempt by bankers to compete with FHA. And they were very successful. Why? Because FHA loans are a pain in the neck! But the safeguards imposed by the FHA really do prevent problems down the road…problems like the subprime crisis.

Identity theft. The good credit score of one person is falsely used to secure a loan for someone else. Some of these schemes are very elaborate.

There are other examples not in the report which should have been red flags for any lender and/or buyer. For instance, if three families show up to sign for the closing on a single-family home, someone ought to be asking questions.

Also, politically correct or not, the borrower ought to have a valid Social Security number and he’d better be able to prove he is in the United States legally. As sensible as that may seem, it is not required and often disregarded.

The FBI report is at: http://www.fbi.gov/publications/fraud/mortgage_fraud07.htm

So, if you suddenly lose compassion for people who are losing their homes, it’s not you. The problem lies in the deals that were cut. I feel no sense of obligation to help those who have defrauded the system.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spanish is #1

Here in Chicago ComEd provides the electricity. As you would expect, there is a phone number at the top of the bill each month. (800-203-0684)

When you call that number the FIRST thing you hear is:
“Thank you for calling ComEd. Para seguir en espaƱol oprima el numero 9.”

After a pause you hear, “To continue in English, press 2.”

Question number 1: Whose country is this?
Question number 2: Does this mean that most of the customers with billing problems are Spanish-speakers?
Question number 3: Can I pay my bill in pesos?
Question number 4: Are people going to need to learn Spanish in order to report a downed power line?
Question number 5: Ain’t America grand?

A difference of opinion

My attention was drawn to a headline this morning.
“Study Says Foreigners in US Adapt Quickly”Washington Post
But then I saw these headlines:
UPI“Latin immigrants to US don’t assimilate”
Orlando Sentinal“Immigrants less assimilated than a century ago”
Deseret News“Slowdown found in assimilation of immigrants”
Miami Herald“Newcomers assimilating quickly”
MSNBC“Immigrants assimilate quicker today, study shows”
Seattle Times“Immigrants assimilating faster”
Newsday“Study: Salvadorans slow to assimilate”
New York Sun“Report: Immigrants Assimilating More Rapidly in New York”

And these people are the same ones informing us about the presidential candidates! It pays to read these articles carefully and even then you are subject to the political bent of the newspaper involved.

For those of you who would like to drink from the source, here’s the actual report (56 pages in pdf format).

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/cr_53.pdf

Monday, May 12, 2008

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confesses

There was an article in our paper Friday about victims of illegal aliens. The reporter went to Immigration for a comment and here’s what they said:

“Gail Montenegro, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs, said the federal government already has stepped up efforts to track and remove immigrants who commit crimes.

“In 2007, ICE tagged 160,000 criminal immigrants for deportation -- 100,000 more than the previous year, Montenegro said.

“The agency's 2008 budget includes $240 million to expand efforts to identify and remove criminal immigrants, Montenegro said, and the agency expects to identify another 200,000 criminal immigrants for deportation this year.” (Daily Herald 5/9/08)

So, according to the ICE spokesman, there were approximately 60,000 criminals deported in 2006, 160, 000 in 2007, and more money on the way to do even more.

Hidden in that recap is a confession. The Bush administration spent six years ignoring enforcement, only to be forced to demonstrate to the public that they could control the problem.

More agents, more detention beds, a better database, more worksite raids, more arrests of those who defied deportation orders…all in the past year. Now, why are they doing it?

Bush sent Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff over to the Senate last May with a message. It went something like this: The President wants his legalization program and a more generous guest worker quota. If we don’t get it, we won’t be able to supply the labor needed to keep America running.

We all know how comprehensive immigration reform turned out – it failed. And part of the reason it failed was because Americans don’t trust government. We have seen examples over the years of serious unintended consequences.

Even as it relates to this issue, we had amnesty for 2.7 million people back in 1986. And we never fixed the underlying problem. 9/11 didn’t teach us anything. The issues are still the same as they were in 1981.

We need a border that works. We need to be able to control expired visas. We need to deport people, starting with the criminals. We need to penalize employers. We need a reliable work document process.

So, everyone is asking the obvious question. If we legalize 12 million people, what’s to stop another wave from coming in? So ICE has some work to do. They got busy showing us they can keep out the illegals. They are displaying a show of force so we know they can enforce the laws in the interior.

But our main question is this: Where have you been for the past six years? And the answer is that they were hoping we wouldn’t notice since Bush wants them to stay. Immigration enforcement has always been a low priority of this administration.

Hidden in Gail Montenegro’s statement is the confession that the Bush administration let things go. The question is whether GWB is heartless or foolish. We know he is politically stubborn but he must have known his open borders were hurting us. The problem doubled since he came to office.

And at this point it is hard to believe some of the figures coming out of Washington. Surely they can’t expect us to believe them? Those days are gone.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wake up and smell the coffee

Here’s another entry for the “Things are looking better all the time in Mexico” file.

One of the reasons Mexican citizens have been pouring into the United States illegally is coffee. That’s right – coffee.

NAFTA notwithstanding, the price of coffee beans dropped in the 1990s. So what’s a farmer to do when his crop doesn’t sell for enough to pay expenses? (It shouldn’t be hard to find an American farmer who has been through that experience.)

Well, the answer is this: Close up shop and sneak into the United States. And Mexican coffee farmers did just that.

But now the bean is fetching a respectable price again. And if you grow the organic stuff you can make even more money.

So some good folks down in Agua Prieta (right across the border from Douglas AZ) opened a roaster plant using a micro-loan from a church. The beans are grown down in Chiapas (1,500 miles away), shipped to Agua Prieta, roasted, and then sold to Americans for a nice, tidy profit.

The fact that this roaster plant is right on the border gives illegals second thoughts. “Let’s see…That coffee smells really good…I’m staring at a high fence…I might get caught…They are getting tougher about IDs…Maybe I’ll go back home and grow coffee beans.”

Now, if only we can install some large fans and blanket the United States with the smell of Mexican-grown coffee beans we can reach a larger audience. Maybe we can mount the fans on top of those useless virtual fence towers.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Diversity defined

According to my dictionary, diversity is “1. a being diverse, difference 2. variety”

So McHenry County College has just elected its new student leaders. They ran as a slate using the campaign slogan, “Diversifying Campus.”

And they are all proud Hispanics and members of the Latinos Unidos group on campus. This was the same group who protested the use of a campus meeting room by the Minutemen.

And Carlos Acosta of the McHenry County Latino Coalition was proud of his peeps. He said it was going to make for a much more diverse campus.

MCC has 5,153 students. 370 are Hispanic.

This same brand of “diversity” can be found (and taught) in our public schools. Diversity is what our politicians sought to gain with immigration reform way back in 1965.

And when it suits them, Latino activists throw the term around…knowing full well that they make up 15% of the US population. They outnumber Asians and Blacks. They are growing like crazy. But they still call it “diversity.”

Ward Connerly (who is Black by the way) said this: If ever there was a term that makes me nauseous, "diversity" is such a term. But, believe me, this term is more than nauseating; it is dangerous. "Diversity" is the antithesis of merit.

“The pursuit of "diversity" by the government is legally sanctioned discrimination to achieve a fuzzily defined quota that is known only to [educational] admissions officers and other bureaucrats who want to play God with our lives.

"Diversity" makes a mockery of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and it's command that the government treat all of us equally "without regard" to the factors of race, gender and ethnicity. "Diversity" is an excuse to discriminate. (end of quote from The Egalitarian, August/ September 2005)

Now, these students won the election. From all indications they are good students and good citizens.

But we should all be concerned about what passes for diversity. It is distorting our societal objectives while at the same time making us feel multi-cultural.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mexico's looking good

Hey, all you illegal aliens from Mexico! It’s time to go home.

The Mexican economy grew by 3% in the first quarter of this year. The U S economy grew by only 0.6%. You’re better off back home.

And our loyal ally to the south is shifting business emphasis away from the United States so our problems don’t become their problems.

For example, the Volkswagen plant sent more cars to Europe last year than to the United States.

In fact, exports from Mexico to the United States have been declining for the past ten years. (So why is Bush always saying how great NAFTA is?)

Now, the news story I read didn’t mention it, but there are some other factors at play here. Mexico is NOT a high-tech environment. They don’t have the engineers or the precision necessary for such things.

But they are OK when it comes to low-tech equipment like refrigerators and heavy machinery. Those industries are selling well in Brazil and Europe.

And let’s not forget oil. With prices up, Mexico’s revenue also goes up. Oil is their number one export.

Now, just imagine if we could ship six million needy Americans down to Mexico and they would take care of them. Wouldn’t that be great?

Imagine what would happen if we took 600,000 young people a year, none of them with more than a high school diploma, and sent them to Mexico to live. That would take quite a burden off our society, wouldn’t it?

Just think about the savings in housing, college education, health care, unemployment, police, prisons, schools…

Our high class people could stay here; we’d only send away those will low skills and low earning potential.

It’s a nice thought, but I think we need to begin with the people who were born in Mexico and came here without papers. Let’s send them home first. Now they have a thriving economy and we don’t, this would be a good time.

Mallory and Liz - Heroes

This little act of heroism may have escaped you. It shouldn’t. Every blog in the country ought to make sure the word gets out.

Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace play softball for Central Washington University. And their good deed was to pick up Sara Tucholsky and carry her off the field during a playoff game.

It happens all the time, you say? Did you know that Sara was injured? Yeah. She blew out her knee at First Base. Still no big deal.

Did I mention that Sara plays for a DIFFERENT team? She was on the Western Oregon team, CWU’s opponent in the playoff game. Still not impressed? That was a nice thing to do, helping an injured player on another team.

Oh, and Mallory and Liz carried Sara around the bases and lowered her so she could touch her left foot on each bag and score a home run. That puts these two women in the hero category for me.

You see, Sara is a Senior. She’d never hit one over the fence before. This was a playoff game. And when she ran to first base, she missed the bag and reversed directions. That’s when she tore up her knee. There she was at first base, unable to walk.

Her teammates could not carry her. That would be against the rules. The second option was a designated runner, but the homer would then be reduced to a base hit.

But there’s no rule against players from the OTHER TEAM carrying her around the bases for a home run.

And they did just that.

By the way, Mallory and Liz and Central Washington lost the game and were eliminated from the playoffs. But in my mind they deserve the biggest trophy.

(photo by Blake Wolf)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Prom

You've seen the high cost of going to prom these days. Professional photographers, the limo, two days worth of parties, the dress, the doo, the shoes, the tan, the nails...

I have a theory.

Prom is the new wedding day. Every girl wants to dress in the gown and have "her day". But how many couples live together for years?

Maybe they get married eventually. Maybe not.

If they do, it is generally after several years of living together. The wedding is low-key. In the back yard, followed by a really nice vacation together. But it isn't often the traditional walk down the aisle with organ music and a big reception.

Sooooo, one way or another a girl is going to have her day with a tux-clad man on her arm. Because she knows there may not be a day in a white dress later on she clings to the notion of the prom and experiences every moment of it.

Am I way off base here? Any thoughts?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Plane sense

My, we’ve had our share of FAA news lately. All this talk of emergency reworks that grounded entire fleets for days at a time. Plus, the Southwest scandal where the inspectors aren’t doing their jobs. Not to mention the ATC safety problems.

Why, we’ve never seen anything like it.

Here’s a tip: The head of the FAA is an appointed position. It has a specified term of five years. Last September the term of Marion Blakey expired.

Since that time the agency has been led by an interim director; a man by the name of Robert Sturgell.

Congress has put a hold on Sturgell’s confirmation hearings until next year.

Now, isn’t it a coincidence that someone else will be in the White House by then? Maybe even a Democrat. Then THAT president can appoint someone else for the five year term.

Does this little tidbit put things in perspective?

The corn conundrum

For decades now we have been trying to create renewable fuels to run our cars and generate electricity. The theory is that oil is a finite commodity but if we can grow our own gasoline we will never run out.

So, Yankee ingenuity and the politicians got together and came up with things like bio-fuels and 85% ethanol. Uncle Sam handed out cash for research and promotional programs. And people started buying flex-fuel cars. And there is steady growth in the use of biofuels. Bio-diesel in particular has done rather well in the last year or two.

We’re hearing these days about the high price of corn, brought about they say by the new demand for it in biofuel production.

Now, corn isn’t just a dinner table veggie. It is used as a sweetener in all sorts of products we buy. Huge amounts of it are fed to cattle. And Orval Reddenbacker can’t get along without it.

Well, these days the corn is high, and I don’t mean in the field. Market prices are up.

Al Gore and his bunch have complained that stealing grain out of the mouths of starving children in Africa was not what they had in mind when they advised us to go green.

But that complaint needs some translation. Here it is: “You guys have taken this alternative fuels thing and made it into a viable energy source. But in the process you bypassed our plan to redistribute wealth to other countries. This will not do. We therefore must attack your efforts with our liberal logic.”

At least one spokesman in Washington made sense of the issue this week. He told Congress that the higher food prices we are seeing has more to do with $4 a gallon diesel fuel than with a portion of the corn crop being used for alternative fuels.

Here’s a quote from the Christian Science Monitor:
"We're not downplaying the fact that there are folks having a tough time buying groceries, but to scare those folks to death [by saying it's] because we're making ethanol is an injustice," says Jon Doggett, vice president of public policy for the National Corn Growers Association in Washington. Just a couple years ago, he notes, he was taking calls from people angry that the low price of corn was feeding America's obesity. "Now they're accusing us of intentionally starving people to death around the world."

Meanwhile, Bush is sending more of our money overseas to feed the hungry. As long as he uses his UN budget, I say go ahead. When he runs out of funds and has to vacate the UN building in New York, then we’ve accomplished something.

15,000

That was the estimated count of pro-amnesty marchers in Chicago at the May Day parade yesterday.

I enjoyed the PR spinning going on by the media, mourning the loss of a cheap story every year.

Some said the crowd was smaller but "spirited", whatever that means. And they were delighted to report that Mayor Daley was dancing around on stage.

Why the lower turnout? One radio station reported that workers were afraid of reprisals from employers. They said some workers were “punished” for attending last year’s rally.

(I was thinking that ought to be BIG news…an employer “punishing” workers for exercising their First Amendment right to protest. Alas, the reporter did not elaborate, nor did he attribute.)

Fear of deportation was another reason given for the low turnout. They obviously don’t know the ICE people in Chicago. You’ve got to be REALLY BAD to get deported around here.

Why, they even expanded their invitation this year to include gays, communists, universal health insurance people, anti-war protesters, and subprime mortgage rescue advocates.

Economics professor Barry Chiswick suggested that May Day might not be the best day to march. It has other connotations deeply rooted in communism, socialism, and “workers of the world” types. He suggests that anarchy is pretty far to the left to be accepted by the mainstream. He’s right.

The protesters and the media did make a confession. When they talked about all the other countries and cultures represented in years past, they were only kidding. It has always been about Mexicans. But this year was different. This year it included a nice mix of people from all nations.

Why, they even made up a huge banner with flags from 30 countries on it. And the media was kind enough to include photos and video of the banner in their coverage. This issue has grown more diverse because the organizers say it is so.

Now, the organizers said one of their objectives was to register new voters. I do hope they were careful to register only citizens; the rest aren’t supposed to vote, you know. Not in my America. Not yet at least.

I’m trying to predict the turnout next year using statistical formulae. 400,000…150,000…15,000... Next year they can hold the rally in my kitchen.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Three kings

(No, this isn’t about a poker game or a nativity play.)
If I understand the story of the American Revolution, the crux of it is that the formation of the United States was motivated by a burning desire NOT to be ruled by a monarch. This grand political experiment was an effort to shift sovereignty away from the throne and into the hands of the people.

I will tell you about three kings right here in the United States today, and they aren’t on Beaver Island. One is in Cook County, one is in Island Lake, and the third is in Carpentersville.

King Todd is the President of the Cook County Board, placed there by decree of his now-deceased father, a decree made when John Stroger was suffering from a stroke that made it impossible for him to serve. So he anointed his son. Todd eventually faced the voters and won.

It turns out that Cook County got tax-happy and added a penny to the sales tax. Residents in Palatine didn’t like it and want to secede from the county. Todd originally agreed to go out to Palatine and meet with the taxpayers out there. But he later withdrew his invitation. Why? “It became apparent the format was manipulated such that the forum would no longer be community based,” Stroger said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “This change in format diminishes the ability of the community to voice their concerns and instead allows for political grandstanding by village council members.” Sorry, King Todd will only appear before loyal subjects.

The second is Island Lake Village Trustee Debbie Herrmann. A gentleman attended a town council meeting recently wearing a T-shirt with the message, “Don't Move. If You Run, You'll Only Die Tired. USMC.” He’s a 60-year-old former Marine. He gave his speech to the town council and sat down. Police say he pointed his finger and Herrmann as though it were a pistol, thus leading to his arrest for disorderly conduct. (By the way, his little speech before the village board was about legal fees.) He does look menacing, doesn't he?

Councilwoman Herrmann signed the complaints against him. Here’s where she gets the KING designation: “We've got a job to do up there and we shouldn't have to worry about residents being adverse to what we are doing.” Huh? Residents are not supposed to be part of the process in municipal government?

King #3 is Carpentersville Village President Bill Sarto. Sarto doesn’t like council member Paul Humpfer. Paul has been a thorn in his side for a couple of years now because they disagree on ordinances to stand up against illegal aliens.

On two occasions Sarto has declared Humpfer’s seat on the board vacant because of Humpfer’s domestic abuse court case. The village attorney and the county attorney are both telling him he doesn’t have the authority to vacate the seat without the majority of the board approving it. But that doesn’t stop Sarto from making his declarations.

The king is dead. Long live the king. Next.

What's your point?

There are all sorts of news stories today about the march for “immigrant rights” going on in Chicago and around the nation. And they are all saying that the marches will be much smaller this year.

Let’s see. 400,000 in Chicago in 2006, 150,000 last year. And it is getting smaller again.

Juxtaposed with this May Day rally is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a big day in Israel. A siren sounds, all the traffic stops, people get out of their cars, and for two minutes everyone stands still to remember those who died. Entertainment venues are closed for the day and schools hold special ceremonies.

It is interesting to contemplate the two causes, “immigrant rights” and holocaust remembrance. Sometimes those of us who are against illegal aliens are labeled Nazis or Hitlers. Everything I’ve ever read about The Third Reich indicates that the Jews who were expelled and/or killed were lawful German citizens. Can the illegal aliens say the same?

Or they point to the civil rights movement and claim they are victims of the same treatment. Are they? Were illegal aliens brought here against their will? Have they been denied an integrated public education? It is true that they ride on the shirttails of the 14th Amendment, but it is a cheap ride at best.

Author Robert Fulghum wrote about a holocaust survivor he once worked with. Because Fulghum was constantly griping, this concentration camp survivor put him in his place with this little message: "Listen, Fulghum, you know what's wrong with you? It's not the wieners and kraut; it's not the boss and it's not the chef and it's not the job.

"You think you know everything, but you don't know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire--then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconvenience from the real problems, you will live longer and will not annoy people like me so much. Good night."

So, what is the point of these protests? “Immigrant rights” is a misnomer. “Illegal alien demands” is more like it. Like Fulghum’s co-worker, they’ve got nothing to complain about. But that isn’t stopping them. In the Chicago Tribune today they gave a link to the protest organizers. It is: www.chicagomayday.com

Here are some of their demands:
Legalization for All NOW !
Legalization for Elvira Arellano and Flor Crisostomo
End the War in Iraq, bring the Troops Home
Respect for the Self-Determination of Nations
Clean Up for Vieques
Replace Globalization with Nobilization
Stop the Separation of Families, Stop the Hate, Stop the Violence, Stop the Guns, Stop the Drugs
Health Care for Every Family
Equal, Quality, Respectful Education
A Moratorium on Mortgage Foreclosures
Naturalize Foreign-Born Spouses of LGBT Couples
Refugee Rights for LGBT People Fleeing Persecution
Renegotiate NAFTA
Good Jobs on Both Sides of the Border
(Gee, I’m in favor of some of those demands myself. Somehow they left off “A good 5 cent cigar.” I was almost persuaded to join them until I saw the list of people endorsing their cause.)

Their list of endorsements includes:
Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez
Mayor Richard Daley
Carpentersville Village Trustee Linda Ramirez Sliwinski
Grupo Perverso
Latino Chapter of Rainbow P.U.S.H.
Nation of Islam
L.U.L.A.C. Council 300
Gay Liberation Network
Arab American Action Network (AAAN)
Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano (Mexico)
Sigma America (Whitewater,WI)
Illinois Coalition for Peace and Justice
Illinois Coalition of Immigrants and Refugee Rights
Teamsters Local 743
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881 and 1546
BCTGM Local 1
SEIU Local 1
SEIU Local 73
Teamsters Joint Council 25
Illinois AFL-CIO
Chicago Federation of Labor
AFSMCE Local 2081
YCL Organization
Students of Loyola University
Students of UIC
(What, no Young Republicans?)

So, that’s the make up of the “immigrant rights” protest in Chicago this year. I thought you might find it entertaining.