Friday, June 29, 2007

After the defeat of the amnesty bill...


The Republican Establishment (especially in the Senate) have no idea how close they came to losing their conservative base. Oh, they may have finally come around after yesterday's vote to kill that joke of an immigration bill. But I really don't think they know how badly they played out this whole thing. If it weren't for the likes of Senators Sessions, DeMint, Cornyn, Vitter, as well as a decent number of conservative House members, there may well have been a mass exodus from the Republican Party by concerned conservative voters.

A bit of background about myself --- up until 1992, I was a registered Democrat. I was a Democrat-in-name-only (DINO) because, unfortunately, living in Philadelphia at the time meant that Republicans have practically no voice or influence. In the main elections, though, I voted for the likes of Reagan and Bush Sr.

My last vote as a registered Democrat was in the '92 Democratic Presidential Primary. I was already keen on the Clinton nightmare that was to come if he became president, so I voted for Jerry Brown as a protest vote (it helped that he also voiced a flat-tax plan). Immediately after that primary I changed my affiliation to the Republican Party.

But, unlike some people in politics, I'm a principles-over-party kind of guy. Others are party-over-principles types. Sorry... I just don't drink that Kool-Aid. If the Republicans in the Senate had allowed that ill-conceived immigration to pass and President Bush signed it, I was seriously thinking of leaving the Republican Party.

No, I was not going to go back to the Democrats (they're even worse). I was going to remain a Republican until I could vote for either Duncan Hunter or Fred Thompson in the presidential primary, and then I was going to switch my affiliation to the Constitution Party. I'm not a fan of their isolationist stance in their party platform, but the vast majority of their positions are the closest to my conservative views on issues. I would, obviously, still vote for any good conservative candidate in the main elections from whatever party they may be affiliated.

Call me what you want, but that's how frustrated I was with the Republican Party. And I would hazard a guess that there are a LOT more conservatives out there who have similar feelings.

There needs to be a committed return to the conservative principles that were the foundation of Reagan in the 80s and the Congressional Republicans of '94:

* Continue lowering taxes (especially for the middle class)
* Serious & streamlined tax reform
* Serious and real reductions in spending (that means spending actually being less than previous years)
* Strong national defense/military
* Effective prosecution of the global war against Islamic terrorists
* Secure the borders (that means building the full fence, new detection & surveillance technologies, and a marked increase in the number of border agents patrolling all points of entry)
* Real immigration reform without amnesty (see previous post for details on this issue)
* Aggressive prosecution of businesses that break the laws (from Enron-types to those that hire illegal immigrants)
* Reduction in the overabundance of regulations
* Free but fair and equitable trade with other countries (including China)
* Open up ANWAR, and the Pacific & Gulf coasts to drilling and build new refineries
* Expanding aggressive, results-based R&D in alternative energy sources
* Serious reduction of our dependence on foreign (especially Middle Eastern) oil
* Continued federal judicial appointments in the mold of Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist, Alito & Roberts (Federal Appeals Courts as well as U.S. Supreme Court)

and, of course, last but most certainly not least...

* Firmly and consistently Pro-Life and Pro-Family (on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, gay marriage, etc.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

A friend has been ordained a Deacon...

Last weekend, my friend John Barry (from my Wednesday morning men's bible study group) was officially ordained a deacon of the Catholic Church. He and another member of my parish (Fernando Flores) were two of 60 men who went through the mass/ceremony which was held at the Santa Barbara City College football field with Cardinal Mahony presiding.

This high of a number is unprecedented because they normally only ordain about five to eight deacons per year in this region. Five years ago, they decided to try something different for the Santa Barbara region of the archdiocese. They removed two restrictions: 1) they no longer required the wives of the candidates to attend all of the classes over the 4-5 years of study, and 2) they no longer required that all candidates be bilingual. The immediate result was a nearly 10-fold increase in ordinations in this first class under the new rules. In contrast, the L.A.-area region had only seven new deacons this year, operating under the old regulations. Card. Mahony stated that he would like to see the new regs eventually expanded to cover the entire archdiocese.

It was a gorgeous day, beginning with the typical June-gloom overcast weather that eventually gave way to the warm sun, with the Pacific Ocean in the background. Quite a significant number of parishioners and family members attended, as did a good number of the men from my bible study group. Afterwards, we went back to John and his wife's house for a nice, relaxing after-party. Needlessly to say, we are all proud of John and Fernando as it has been a long road of study, prayer, and sacrifice for these men to take on this new responsibility.

Our prayers remain with these two fine and upstanding Catholic men as they begin their walk down this consecrated life of service.

Monday, June 18, 2007

10 Points for the Republican Party...

In the middle of the whole immigration bill fiasco I received an e-mail from the Republican Party requesting that I fill out a questionnaire and add any additional comments. Below are the comments I added to their questionnaire. As the old saying goes: "Ask and ye shall receive."

10 Points for the Republican Party

1) Border security (fence built in full with installation of new surveillance & detection technology at the border, dramatically increased number of border agents & national guardsmen patrolling ALL borders - north, south, Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific coasts),

2) No amnesty under any disguise or play on words. Illegals who are felons should be deported with the assurance that their country of origin will incarcerate them for the full term of their sentence. If not, then we keep them in prison here, but will bill their host countries for the expense. Illegals who don't want to become U.S. citizens, get deported. Those who DO want to become citizens, go back to their home country and "wait in line" just like everybody else.

3) Immediate and aggressive prosecution of businesses that hire illegal immigrants (the Republicans MUST do this in order to prove that they are not in the back pockets of big business!),

4) Drop the "jobs Americans won't do" meme. It's a load of B.S. Illegals are taking jobs away from legal immigrants, and suppressing wages in the process,

5) No new visa types, such as Y- or Z-visas (not necessary). Instead, streamline the current bureaucratic mess that is the current state of legal immigration, and make it more efficient. This includes better and more efficient background checks of both legal and illegal immigrants and visitors when the enter the country, or when (illegals) are caught. This also means ending the so-called "sanctuary" policies of certain cities (such as in Los Angeles) which prevents local police from doing their jobs when they come across/capture and illegal.

6) Make English the official language of the U.S.

7) Energy dependence! This means drilling in ANWAR, as well the Pacific and Gulf coasts, in-place extraction of shale oil in the Montana/Wyoming/Utah areas, further R&D on fusion and fuel cell technologies, building new oil refineries and expanding existing one. Drastically reduce dependence on oil imports from all Middle Eastern countries in the process,

8) Full and unequivocal support for the GWOT (this includes Iran, Syria, as well as Iraq and other countries). Clear, detailed plans for dealing with all "hot spots" around the world,

9) Remain firm, committed and unequivocal on Pro-Life and Pro-Family issues: No to abortion, No to homosexual marriages, No to embryonic stem cell research,

10) CUT THE FRIGGIN' SPENDING!!! Meaning that total spending for the next fiscal year will be LESS than the previous year... by a significant amount. Also, STOP THE PORK/EARMARKS (both Republican as well as Democratic). And continue to REDUCE TAXES, ESPECIALLY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS.


Memories of Ocean City, Maryland...

When I visited family and friends back east last month, I took a day to drive down to Ocean City, MD, for a part of the day. It was my first visit to that great little beach town in 15 years. My college buddies and I would spend lots of time down at various places at the Jersey shore (Avalon, Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor, Wildwood). But, in the summer of '86, a few of the guys mentioned this place called Ocean City in Maryland, and we decided to give it a shot. We fell in love with the town so much that we continued to vaca down there every summer up until '92 (in '93 a few of us vaca'ed in California, and in '94 I moved to CA). We'd head down to Ocean City for a weekend or a full week, at least once if not two or three times each summer (even though we'd continue to spend time at the Jersey shores, as well).

We used to stay at either the Tidelands (at 5th & the beach), the Wellington (at 9th & Baltimore), and the Monticello. The Tidelands was, at the time, a dump of a place for $20/night, but we didn't care. Since then, the place has gone "upscale" as the Tidelands Caribbean Hotel & Resort. (Yikes!)

We used to hit quite a few night clubs during those summers... Scandal's near 65th Street (a large, all-wood, barn-like interior with a balcony in the back, and a full-sized stage for live bands to perform)... Samantha's at the back of the 45th Street shopping center (many memories there)... the Playpen near 69th Street by the bay side (they used to go overboard with the fog machine, the music volume bled your ears, and they were notorious for seriously lacking A/C in that place)... Graffitti's on 17th Street... the Paddock at the south end of town for live rock bands... Tiffany's (a preppy little place connected to a hotel or restaurant on 24th Street, I think, that my friend Phil used to like going to)... and of course the Purple Moose Saloon on the boardwalk.

Of them all, Samantha's and Scandal's were the best clubs for hoppin' night life! Let's just say that Labor Day weekend in '88 will live in infamy for me and my friends!!! 'Nough said. Almost all of those clubs have either closed down, changed names, or moved. Samantha's was the first to close in '90. Tiffany's and Graffitti's are gone. Scandal's moved in the old Samantha's location before closing in '05. But the Paddock is still open, and the Purple Moose is still on the boardwalk (and DJ Batman, who used to do the "Best Body on the Beach" contests is STILL there! What is he now... 65?... 70 years old??... geez!).

For munchies.... Soriano's... Thrasher's French Fries (hold the vinegar... yuck)... the Dough Roller for breakfast, pizza on the boardwalk near 5th Street!!! (I forget the name of the place)... Dumser's Dairy (for custard ice cream like Dairy Queen)... Dayton's Chicken for the BEST fried chicken and soft shell crabs, on the boardwalk by the pier at South Division Street... and the Bull On The Beach for awesome bbq roast pork and roast beef sandwiches.

What I loved best about OCMD was that it was clean, it had a little bit of everything for everyone, and you had all sorts of people from all walks of life -- different cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities, incomes, all ages from babies to octogenarians, single people, families -- and everyone had smiles on their faces.

P.S. I forgot to add one more memory of OCMD...... always seeing the beautifully done Christian-themed sand sculptures at the beach by North Division Street. From what I read, the job of doing them has been handed down over the years (Chuck Ritchley Sr. and Randy Hofman are two of the men who've done them in OCMD).

Here's a link to Randy Hofman's website.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Follow-up to yesterday's post...

John Hawkins, over at RWN, summarizes the post mortem of the failed Senate immigration bill. His last "P.S." is very telling:

PS #2: I also asked my source why he thought so many Republicans had been supporting such an incredibly unpopular bill. He gave three reasons:

First off, there was what he referred to as the "Rovian School of thought," which says that passing this bill would capture the Hispanic vote for the GOP for decades to come.

Next up, there's the "Chamber of Commerce" vote. He says these Republicans were heavily influenced by business groups that want cheap labor no matter what the cost is for the rest of the country.

Then there was the last group, the smallest group in his opinion, who were willing to sign onto a terrible bill just so they could say they were part of a big reform that had bipartisan support.

We can be thankful for the strong, conservative leadership of Senators DeMint, Sessions and Coburn for helping to kill this terrible bill.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

On Illegal Immigration...

Okay... first things first... on the oft-repeated phrase that illegals are "doing jobs that Americans won’t do":

• I have a relative who put helped put herself through college by cleaning peoples’ houses for five years. in other words... that annoying phrase is a load of B.S.

• Remember the post-Hurricane Katrina construction jobs that many citizens from the northern portion of the country headed down south to fill? But they were turned away because the jobs were filled already by illegal aliens.

• Remember the recent raid on several Swift & Co. Meat Packing plants in six states because of their hiring illegal aliens. Subsequently, they posted job opportunities at $18/hour --- and were overrun with vast numbers of applicants willing to take the jobs that were previously unavailble to them.

• Less than 10% of agriculture (i.e., strawberries, grapes, etc.) requires humans to do the picking. The fast majority of agricultural work is done mechanically.

• Costs will not drastically increase if actual U.S. citizen farm workers did this work vs. illegal farm workers (fuel costs has a much greater affect on overall costs).

• The Juan vs Jose analogy (a legal first generation migrant farm worker vs. an illegal immigrant). Illegal immigrants severely diminish job opportunities for legal immigrants, and also suppress the available wages for legal immigrants when the few jobs do become available.

• Then there is the strain (fiscally as well as administratively) on key social services such as hospital/medical and education systems due to the fact that most illegals do not have health benefits, nor are they paying local/state/federal income taxes (with the exception of sales taxes from their extremely low income level).

What needs to be done?

First, fully enforce the laws that are already on the books!!! This includes:

• Building the full fence on the southern border (double fence with road in between), plus upgrade of technology for remote/underground/infrared detection and surveillance, etc. (for northern as well as southern borders).

• Increase # of border agents & port inspection agents (all borders: north and south, Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts).

• Aggressively investigate, prosecute and fine businesses that are hiring illegals. The worst and repeat offenders should be first in line to be investigated and prosecuted.

NOTE: On that last point --- once the illegal job hiring market dries up it would cause an automatic natural exodus of a large portion of illegals who have no interest in becoming U.S. citizens, and who will head back to their countries of origin on their own.

• Full integration of background check information into a central database.

• Full background checks with reasonable timeframes for said checks (not just within 24 hours). Checks go through all available channels, authorities and agencies: local, state, federal, international.

• City sanctuary policies revoked (e.g., L.A. not allowing it’s police officers to inform the feds when they come across any illegal).


• Political asylum opportunities on a case-by-case basis.

• Close scrutiny on anyone who may have links, ties or sympathies to any terrorist agenda.

• Any illegal immigrant convicted with a felony is automatically deported at the expense of the receiving country.

• Any remaining illegal immigrant must choose whether to become a U.S. citizen or to return to their country of origin.

Those that choose to become a U.S. citizen must:

a) learn to speak, read and write English

b) go through the standard procedures to become a citizen

c) pay a fine for having come here illegally and not having paid income taxes (this fine is to be paid either as a lump sum or as an automatic deduction from their paychecks until said fine is paid in full).

In addition, the following “trigger” automatically goes into effect:

For every illegal immigrant who is to become legal, there should be a commensurate reduction in new legal immigrants who are allowed to become a U.S. citizen.

For example: Supposing there are 10,000 illegal immigrants from Italy – my own ancestry came from that country. Let’s say that 2000 are felons who get automatically deported. Let’s then say that, of the remaining illegals, 1000 want to return to Italy. This leaves us with 7000 illegals who want to become U.S. citizens. But suppose that the U.S. only allots 3500 legal immigrants from Italy each year. That means that for the next two years NO legal immigrants are allowed into the U.S. from Italy.

If any country takes issue with this procedure, they have the right to choose one of two options: either except this procedure as is, or take back all of the illegal immigrants from their country and have them “get in line” like the rest of the potential legal immigrants who are already waiting in line.

There must be a cut-off date set (in the past, not the future) as to who is allowed to take this opportunity to become a U.S. citizen (e.g., if a person has been in the U.S. prior to Jan 1, 2007). Any illegal immigrant after said date is automatically deported unless political asylum issues are involved.

No new increases in the number of “legal” immigrations per year for each country. In other words, if in 2006 we allow up to 5000 people from a given country to apply for U.S. citizenship, this benchmark cannot be increased until at least two years after the U.S. has fully absorbed any current illegals from said country who officially become legal citizens through the above stated processes.

No new types of visas (e.g., Y and Z visas) are to be created. They are unnecessary. In fact, current procedures, documentation and visa types/applications need to be streamlined and simplified.

It stops businesses that are currently hiring illegals from breaking the law. It opens up jobs for legal citizens to get, and at a just wage. It deports illegals who are hardened criminals. It returns back to their countries of origin other illegals who have no interest in becoming citizens. It allows those who DO want to become citizens to do so in a proper and systematic way, and it requires a natural assimilation into society. It also gives them a better opportunity to grow economically as they will now be paid legal wages and benefits by U.S. businesses. With them getting benefits and paying taxes in these legal jobs, there will be less of a financial strain on medical/hospital and education services in the communities they reside.

UPDATE: To add one more point to all of the above --- in order to get to the root of the problem of illegal immigration, you need to address the fact that certain countries are being run by corrupt regimes and/or failed governments. They are not doing what is necessary to improve the social & economic conditions for their citizens, otherwise there would be no need for such a regular and massive exodus. Pressure must be put on those troublesome countries to correct their problems, diminish their corruption, and implement true democratic reforms. Various types of incentives can be dangled in front of these countries as an enticement so that both sides can benefit from an overall improvement of their respective societies.

Also, here is a link to Sen. Sessions' "20 Loopholes" in the current (and abominably bad & misguided) Senate Immigration Bill that (for the time being, as of tonight's failed cloture vote) has been taken off the table. It's more like a TKO than a pure KO for the bill, and it may rear it's ugly head again in the future.