June 28, 2011

In Rose Bowl, Mexico is 'Home' Team as U.S. Soccer Team is Booed

By David Paulin

Yet another example of Mexico's reconquista of America's Southwest was displayed at the Rose Bowl in the prestigious Gold Cup Final between the U.S. and Mexico's soccer teams.

Mexico was the “home team” for the largely Hispanic crowd. America's national anthem got no respect: Air horns blared. And once the game started, the U.S. team was constantly booed. Every goal by Mexico's team drew shouts of “Ole!”

So what does the Los Angeles Times think about this unsettling spectacle? Sports reporter Bill Plaschke likes it and says so in an article, “In Gold Cup final, it's red, white and boo again.”

He writes:
"How many places are so diverse that it could fill football stadiums with folks whose roots are somewhere else? How many places offer such a freedom of speech that someone can display an American flag on their porch one day and cheer against the flag the next? I hated it, but I loved it. It felt as if I was in a strange place, and yet I felt right at home.”

He loves it?...But hates it? And gets a warm and fuzzy feeling because it's all about “diversity.” Well, this certainly sounds like a nasty case of liberal cognitive dissonance – an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas in one's mind at the same time.

To be sure, the sort of thing that Plaschke and L.A. Times regard as an all-American display has been going on for years in Los Angeles. Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington was particularly appalled by what he considered the anti-American displays evident in the Rose Bowl in 1998.

In his famous essay “The Hispanic Challenge” in Foreign Policy magazine, Huntington saw the disrespect for American's national anthem and the booing of the U.S. soccer team as harbingers of things to come – a country split in two as Mexicans and other Latinos failed to assimilate into American culture.

Referring to Mexican-Americans booing America's national anthem and even assaulting U.S. soccer players, Huntington wrote:

“Such dramatic rejections of the United States and assertions of Mexican identity are not limited to an extremist minority in the Mexican-American community. Many Mexican immigrants and their offspring simply do not appear to identify primarily with the United States.”

That a Los Angles Times writer approves of the most recent Rose Bowl spectacle underscores yet again that many in the mainstream media are out-of-step with what most Americans believe.

Incidentally, one Mexican-American quoted by the L.A. Times said that booing the U.S. team was a natural thing to do. Victor Sanchez, 37, was apparently brought to the U.S. as a boy. Dressed in a Mexico jersey, he explained: "I love this country, it has given me everything that I have, and I'm proud to be part of it. But yet, I didn't have a choice to come here, I was born in Mexico, and that is where my heart will always be."

He added: "We're not booing the country, we're booing the team. There is a big difference." Yea, right.

Samuel Huntington, who died in 2008, would not be surprised.

Originally published at The American Thinker blog

Hugo Chavez in 'Critical' Condition in Havana Hospital – Socialism or Death?

By David Paulin

Hugo Chavez is in “critical condition” in a Havana hospital. That's according to unnamed U.S. “intelligence officials” whom Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald, sister newspaper of The Miami Herald, quote on Saturday in an article being picked up by myriad news outlets and web sites.

According to El Nuevo Herald's sources, Chavez is in "critical condition, not grave, but critical, in a complicated situation."

It's the most tantalizing information yet about the Venezuelan strongman's mysterious health problems, which have dominated Venezuela's headlines for weeks. Cuba and Venezuela's information ministries have said next to nothing about what's going on, other than announcing that Chavez underwent surgery on January 10 for a “pelvic inflammation.” In Venezuela, speculation has been rife that Chavez suffers prostate cancer. More ominously, within the past 72 hours Chavez's daughter Rosines and mother Marisabel Rodriguez have “urgently” flown to Havana aboard a Venezuelan Air Force jet.

Chavez was last seen in public on June 9, and Venezuelans last heard him talking on June 12, during a phone call aired on Venezuela state television. Venezuela must seem pretty strange these days without the loquacious Chavez -- given his propensity for breaking regularly into television and radio programs to deliver a rambling monologue about current events or anything that pops into his head -- from the evils of American imperialism to the latest CIA plot to kill him. Not long ago, during a TV and radio broadcast from a Caracas slum, Chavez even said he "would not be surprised if a civilization had flourished on Mars, and capitalism arrived, and imperialism arrived and finished off the planet."

That Chavez may be close to death in a Havana hospital bed is a subject rich with ironies. Chavez, after all, is just a 45 minute flight away from a Miami hospital bed via a chartered jet ambulance and a quick helicopter flight. It would be a few hours to a hospital bed in New York City.

If you believe Michael Moore, Chavez is getting great medical care in Havana. But even if that's true, Chavez could nevertheless get the world's very best medical care in the United States. Of course, doing that would mean forsaking a popular slogan that's shouted at communist party rallies in Cuba: “Socialism or Death!" It's the sort of revolutionary fervor that Chavez has tried mightily to import to Venezuela.

When I visited Havana in 1996 and walked through the city's best hospital – one reserved for communist elites – I was reminded of the sorts of small hospitals found in backwater towns in Florida – okay for minor surgery and such, but not places where you'd want to go for sophisticated cancer treatment, especially prostate cancer in its later stages. Even so, at least the physicians at those small hospitals were likely to be trained at the best medical schools in the world – American medical schools. Does Havana even have the very latest MRI machines or world-class cancer-treatment centers? It's doubtful.

Speaking of which, is Chavez being treated by Cuban-trained physicians? If so, El Presidente may have reason to worry. In Florida, physicians trained in Cuba have flunked the state's medical exam in large numbers over the years -- and that included a watered-down exam created especially for them at the behest of the state's Cuban-American lobby.

What sort of advice is Hugo getting from his pal Fidel? In 2006, Fidel Castro apparently suffered a botched surgical procedure in Havana. Cuba's government then chartered a jet and flew in a prominent Spanish surgeon, Dr. Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, to treat their aging leader. It was perhaps an example of that old anti-communist motto: "Socialism for the masses, capitalism for the classes!"

Socialism or death?

To be sure, Spain is a modern country with excellent medical care. On the other hand, if you're a rich European with a life-or-death medical condition, you're probably going to fly to New York City – not Madrid. But at least one of Spain's top surgeons was good enough for whatever problem Castro had. But what about sophisticated cancer surgery and subsequent treatment?

In the U.S., Chavez would be under the care of miracle workers: brilliant physicians utilizing the most sophisticated equipment, and carrying out the most dazzling medical procedures -- heart transplants, face transplants, and all manners of sophisticated cancer treatments, including for prostate cancer. And such medical care is available at major cities across the country: Washington, New York, Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix; they're just a few names that come to mind with legendary medical centers.

Ironically, this high-quality care is possible thanks to something that Chavez, Fidel, Michael Moore, and other leftists won't admit -- it's due to American capitalism. Free-enterprise is why we have the medical miracles that we do – from cutting-edge technology and pharmaceuticals to medical centers staffed by the world's best physicians.

Interestingly, Chavez also could get First World medical care in Caracas at a few top-notch medical clinics, including at the venerable Clinica de Caracas. That's the where I went for routine care (and once for stitches to my forehead) when working in Venezuela as a foreign correspondent; this was during the years Chavez came to power. My personal physician was trained at a top-notch U.S. medical school – Ivy League or something in that category. And like more than a few of the clinic's able physicians he was Jewish. To Chavez, however, Clinica de Caracas is bourgeois, and given his anti-Semitism he probably wouldn't be keen on visiting a medical center he considered too Jewish. No, Chavez wouldn't be caught dead at Clinica de Caracas; no pun intended.

Whether Chavez lives or dies, it's likely his medical condition will always remain a mystery. It would be out-of-character for Venezuela and Cuba's information ministries to be transparent -- tell the truth as in a democracy. Even when President Jimmy Carter had hemorrhoids, it was a matter of public information -- and the butt of jokes on “Saturday Night Live.” But authoritarian governments don't announce that sort of thing. It's because at bottom they are not strong but insecure. Cuba never reveled anything about the medical condition afflicting Fidel Castro; it was regarded as a "state secret." Cubans couldn't be trusted with such details.

Speaking of political insecurity, there's plenty of it in Venezuela right now due to uncertainty over Chavez's health – and what the future holds if he dies. Chavez surrounds himself with "yes" men and has no credible successor. In true narcissistic fashion, he always fancied that he would rule forever – and to ensure that happened he pushed through constitutional changes ending presidential term limits. "I need more time in the presidency to finish this,” Chavez gushed, when campaigning for the end of term limits so that he could bring full-blown socialism to Venezuela. “We are only beginning. Maybe until 2020 or 2027. I'd be old if I'm still alive."

Finally, if Chavez dies don't expect a timely announcement of his passing from Caracas or Havana. Before making any announcement, they'll be scrambling to determine how they'll maintain their grip on power in Venezuela, where thousands of Cuban security agents are operating.

A story comes to mind about what happened in the Soviet Union after Stalin died. Before an official announcement was made, a Western journalist had learned about Stalin's death. He phoned his editor with the news. But when he mentioned the name “Stalin,” the line immediately went dead. He tried again, and again: click.

Finally, he got creative and started his call with a question: “Guess who died?”

“Stalin!” replied his editor. Click – the line went dead.

The same sorts of intrigue will no doubt occur if Chavez dies -- and Venezuela and Cuban officials try to figure out how to respond. No matter how the saga of Chavez's hospital stay ends, he will at least have gotten great medical care – the best that Havana could provide. Or fly in from Spain.

Socialism or death.

Originally published at The American Thinker blog
Mobster 'Whitey' Bulger's Arrest and the Mitt Romney Connection

By David Paulin

Notorious mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, now 81, got away with murder – at least 19 alleged killings during his years in the 'Irish mob' in South Boston in the 1970s to mid-1980s. And one of the Bay State's most prominent Democrats almost certainly helped Bulger, on the run since 1974, evade capture for so long.

Therein lies a story about how Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romey stood up to that Democrat – Bulger's brother Billy: He was a major player in the Bay State's Democratic political machine and president of the University of Massachusetts.

Soon after the FBI captured Bulger in Santa Monica on Wednesday, Romney spoke out about Bulger's arrest, saying in a statement: "I hope the capture of Whitey Bulger brings some measure of relief to the families of his numerous victims. It brings to a close a sad and sordid chapter in recent Massachusetts history."

Indeed, that story is detailed in a fascinating Los Angeles Times article: "'Whitey' Bulger arrest: The Mitt Romney connection." Reporter Christine Mai-Duc describes how Republican Gov. Romney did the right thing during his early years as governor -- waging a "crusade" against the Democratic machine and Billy Bulger in an effort to oust Bulger from his post at the University of Massachusetts.

To Gov. Romney and others, it was obvious that Bulger had some contact with his brother; and yet he failed to help law enforcement apprehend him -- a situation that was unacceptable to Gov. Romney. He resolved that having Bulger as president of the University of Massachusetts was unacceptable -- but getting Bulger out was not easy. As Mai-Duc explains: "The battle between Romney and Billy Bulger, a seemingly invincible figure in the Bay State's political machine, was fierce, and Romney did not back down even after being rejected by the university's board of trustees."

She notes:

"Billy Bulger had admitted to a grand jury, under protection of immunity, that he'd spoken to his brother after he'd become a fugitive in 1995. 'I do have an honest loyalty to my brother, and I care about him,' said Bulger, in a grand jury testimony that was leaked to the Boston Globe. I don't feel an obligation to help everyone to catch him.'"

Eventually, Romney "introduced an overhaul of the education system, which included the elimination of Bulger's position. Later, he called on Bulger to resign, saying the episode was casting a shadow on the university."

The FBI is portraying the arrest of Bulger as a great victory for law-enforcement. In fact, his belated capture is a great and embarrassing defeat -- both for the FBI and the Bay State's Democratic machine. Bulger is now an old man, and reportedly he's in ailing health. Essentially, he spent his retirement years in peace, enjoying the good life in Santa Monica with his girlfriend, and enjoying millions of dollars he'd apparently stashed away during his mob days. Essentially, he got away with murder.

He can apparently thank his brother Billy for that, along with a corrupt FBI "handler" who tipped him off that he was about to be arrested, after an indictment was issued charging him with murder, racketeering, and other crimes. But at least there is a positive story here – the one about Gov. Romney's battle with Billy Bulger and the Bay State's formidable Democratic machine.

A version of this was originally published at The American Thinker blog.

June 23, 2011

Appeals Court's Decision Could Expand Affirmative Action, Warns Chief Judge

By David Paulin

A Federal appeals court has rejected a challenge made by two white students against a controversial affirmative action program at the University of Texas in Austin -- a decision that could justify the expansion of race-based admissions nationwide, according to a dissenting judge in the case. The case, Fisher v. the University of Texas in Austin, may head to the U.S. Supreme Court, say some observers.

On Friday, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 9-7 not to rehear a three-judge panel's decision last January that upheld the university's consideration of race and ethnicity in its admission policies.

At issue was a complaint filed in 2008 by two white students, Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz. They contended the University of Texas in Austin had violated their constitutional rights by rejecting their applications because of their race. They'd wanted the full appeal's court to rehear their complaint.

Recently, The American Thinker focused on admissions policies at the University of Texas in an article, "Obama Wants Engineering Students and 'Diversity'."

In her powerful dissent, Chief Judge Edith H. Jones -- a Republican whom President Ronald Reagan appointed to the 5th Circuit in 1985 - criticized the court for failing to undertake a "strict scrutiny" of the university's affirmative action program; it instead gave "total deference to university administrators," she wrote.

Most significantly, Jones said the court's decision was potentially precedent-setting and could expand affirmative action program's in the nation's public universities. "This decision in effect gives a green light to all public higher education institutions in this circuit, and perhaps beyond, to administer racially conscious admissions programs without following the narrow tailoring that Grutter requires," she wrote, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger.

In that landmark decision, the court ruled in favor of the "narrowly tailored" affirmative action policy of the University of Michigan Law School. The court nevertheless stressed that "race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time," perhaps running their course in 25 years.

Jones, writing for five judges in her dissent, also raised questions about the constitutionality of the University of Texas's affirmative action policies and poked holes in those program's absurdities. Some of her comments are worth quoting at length.

Regarding the potentially absurd outcomes of the affirmative action program, she wrote:

"The pernicious impact of aspiring to or measuring "diversity" at the classroom level seems obvious upon reflection. Will the University accept this "goal" as carte blanche to add minorities until a "critical mass" chooses nuclear physics as a major? Will classroom diversity "suffer" in areas like applied math, kinesiology, chemistry, Farsi, or hundreds of other subjects if, by chance, few or no students of a certain race are enrolled? The panel opinion opens the door to effective quotas in undergraduate majors in which certain minority students are perceived to be "underrepresented." It offers no stopping point for racial preferences despite the logical absurdity of touting "diversity" as relevant to every subject taught at the University of Texas."
Regarding the problems with classifying people as members of groups, she wrote:

"Texas today is increasingly diverse in ways that transcend the crude White/Black/Hispanic calculus that is the measure of the University's race conscious admissions program. The state's Hispanic population is predominately Mexican-American, including not only families whose Texas roots stretch back for generations but also recent immigrants. Many other Texas Hispanics are from Central America, Latin America and Cuba. To call these groups a "community" is a misnomer; all will acknowledge that social and cultural differences among them are significant. Whether the University also misleadingly aggregates Indians, Pakistanis and Middle Easterners with East "Asians" is unclear, but Houston alone is home to hundreds of thousands of people from East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. In Texas's major cities, dozens of other immigrant groups reside whose families have overcome oppression and intolerance of many kinds and whose children are often immensely talented. Privileging the admission of certain minorities in this true melting-pot environment seems inapt. But University administrators cherish the power to dispense admissions as they see fit, which might be reasonable except for two things: the Texas legislature has already spoken to diversity, and the U.S. Constitution abhors racial preferences. Because even University administrators can lose sight of the constitutional forest for the academic trees, it is the duty of the courts to scrutinize closely their "benign" use of race in admissions."
Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, told the Austin American-Statesman on Wednesday that, "The plaintiffs are analyzing the powerful dissent from Judge Jones and the other four judges and will make a decision about the case soon." The group is helping to pay the plaintiffs' legal bills, noted the Statesman.

Patti Ohlendorf, University of Texas's vice president for legal affairs, told the Statesman that, "This denial of the plaintiffs' motion for rehearing -- as well as the previous favorable rulings and all of the effort we have put into defending this case to date -- put the university in a good position from which to respond if the plaintiffs petition the U.S. Supreme Court."

According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Fisher v. the University of Texas is indeed likely to head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Richard Kahlenberg wrote:

"Although the plaintiffs in the case, Fisher v. Texas, have not yet announced whether they will appeal, a source close to the case indicated to me that the U.S. Supreme Court is a likely next stop. If the Supreme Court accepts a petition to hear the case, the oral argument could take place in the spring, with a decision likely a year from now -- smack in the middle of the presidential campaign."

Originally published at The American Thinker.

June 19, 2011

Obama's Homeland Security SNAFU

By David Paulin

In Miami, a major embarrassment for President Obama's Homeland Security Administration is being revealed. An illegal immigrant from Guyana is in jail -- accused of committing forgery and identify theft to land a flight attendant job with American Eagle, American Airlines' commuter carrier.

After 9/11, the airline industry and Federal government supposedly implemented extra-rigorous security checks to keep airline passengers safe. Yet Jophan Porter, 38, slipped past all of them.

As The Miami Herald reports:

Jophan Porter, 38, whose last known address was a basement apartment in the Bronx, N.Y., was hired earlier this year by American Eagle, a sister carrier of American Airlines, as a flight attendant, even though he applied for the job as Anthony Frair, a 40-year-old Bronx resident who swears he never met or heard of Porter.

The deception came to light several days ago when Frair, a man with a criminal rap sheet in Florida, attempted to apply for food stamps in New York. He was rejected because records showed he was gainfully employed by the airline.

Porter, an immigrant from Guyana who was based out of Miami International Airport, was arrested on Friday when he returned to MIA from a personal trip to London. Charges include six counts of possessing false government IDs, three counts of forgery and three counts of possessing stolen driver's licenses -- all three from Florida and each one in Frair's name.

Porter was being detained on an immigration hold, Ivan Ortiz-Delgado, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Saturday.

The agency intends to deport him once his legal case plays out, Ortiz-Delgado added.

Obviously, Porter made a big mistake in stealing Frair's identify because of Frair's unsavory criminal history -- one that somehow got past American Eagle's employee screening and whatever Homeland Security checks that were in place. As the Miami Herald noted: "Frair was arrested four times in Largo, in Pinellas County, between January and October 2008 on charges of criminal mischief, domestic battery, witness tampering and battery with a deadly weapon."

A SNAFU indeed. Meanwhile, hardly a week goes by that another story doesn't go viral about overzealous TSA agents harassing innocent airline passengers - passengers who, incredibly, may have flight attendants serving them who are illegal immigrants and have criminal histories.

Republicans are sure to have lots of fun with this one, as they raise embarrassing questions about who is in charge at Homeland Security and Immigration and Naturalization.

Originally published in The American Thinker.

June 18, 2011

Obama Wants Engineering Students and 'Diversity'

By David Paulin

President Obama wants America's universities to graduate 10,000 more engineers annually than they're now turning out. He wants more college students to major in math and science. But as universities embrace affirmative action and "diversity" programs supported by Obama and liberals, problems arise. These programs at bottom are aimed at creating a liberal vision of "social justice" -- yet they ultimately dumb down education as merit and excellence are sacrificed for liberal social engineering. In the end, they undermine the very "competitive edge" that Obama says America must maintain.

Consider what's happened at the top-ranked University of Texas, Austin, under an ad hoc affirmative action program called the "top 10 percent rule." It was adopted in 1997 by the state legislature after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the state's affirmative action policy at state universities. Yet the rule has dumbed down higher education in Texas, even as universities in other states look to it has a model that allows them to create "diversity" while avoiding reverse discrimination lawsuits.

The original premise of the "top percent rule" was straightforward: Graduating seniors in the top 10 percent of their high school classes were granted automatic admission to the state school of their choice.

Among some perverse outcomes: Students with top grades and high SAT scores (mostly whites) have had their applications rejected by the flagship University of Texas in Austin, yet less qualified students (mostly Hispanics and blacks) have gained admission to that popular and top-ranked school.

This has happened because Hispanics and blacks at poorly performing inner-city high schools are now put on equal footing with whites and Asians at high-performing suburban schools. Grades, SAT scores, and extracurricular activities -- all are less important than class rank under the rule.

Another perverse outcome: Students at top-performing high schools have sought to transfer into poorly performing ones to ensure they graduate in the top 10 percent of their classes.

In 2009, Texas lawmakers scaled back the "top 10 percent rule" for the University of Texas in Austin -- deciding too much "diversity" wasn't such a great idea after all. The previous fall, 81 percent of freshman had been admitted under the 10 percent rule. Now, the university limits freshman admitted under the rule to three-quarters of the class; Republican lawmakers had wanted the limit set at 50 percent.

Even so, the rule over the years achieved what university administrators and liberals had intended: creating a study body whose racial and ethnic makeup reflected the state's demographics, which have become heavily Hispanic in the last decade or so. Whites now make up slightly less than 50 percent of the state's population, thanks in part to illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America and soaring Hispanic birthrates.

Last year, the University of Texas in Austin announced that, for the first time in its history, less than half of freshman were white -- a total of 47.6 percent.

Not surprisingly, Texas universities now offer remedial courses to large numbers of underachieving students; obviously, they would have been better off if they'd started out at junior colleges or less competitive universities. Equally troublesome, students admitted under the "top ten percent rule" at the top-ranked University of Texas in Austin tend to take easy or "popular" subjects -- not science, technology, engineering, and math (the so-called "STEM" courses that, as Obama has observed, are needed for America to maintain its competitive edge).

In another perverse outcome, Texas is suffering a "brain-drain." Many high-achieving white students have gone to out-of-state schools after failing to gain admission into the University of Texas in Austin.

Supporters of the "top 10-percent" rule point out that many freshman admitted under the program earn grade points comparable to fellow students who were admitted under criteria other than the 10-percent rule. It's a fallacious argument. For one thing, it overlooks the types of classes the two groups are taking. More importantly, the correct comparison should look at students admitted under the rule and those from top-ranked high schools who were denied admission -- even though they'd earned better grades and SAT scores than minority students from dysfunctional inner-city high schools who'd graduated in the top 10 percent of their classes. Of course, it would be impossible to make that comparison.

Obama is a beneficiary of affirmative action. He's committed to the political ideology of "diversity." Accordingly, he's unlikely to be disturbed by the travails of diversity efforts in Texas, which even The New York Times has been unable to ignore, even as university administrators, liberals, and ethnic lobbies call the program a success and soft-peddle its perverse outcomes.

So what's Obama's solution for inspiring more students to become engineers and major in STEM courses? It's not to attract the best and brightest. Last Monday in Durham, North Carolina, he proposed a government-private educational initiative to "promote STEM education, to offer students incentives (emphasis added) to finish those degrees, and then to help universities fund those programs." Of course, if smart and well-prepared students were being admitted in the first place to the nation's top schools, it's doubtful this program would even be needed and that students would need "incentives" to graduate.

Obama's speech at least got one thing right. "Today," he said, "only 14 percent of all undergraduate students enroll in what we call the STEM subjects -- science, technology, engineering and math. We can do better than that. We must do better than that. If we're going to make sure the good jobs of tomorrow stay in America, stay here in North Carolina, we need to make sure all our companies have a steady stream of skilled workers to draw from."

"We're falling behind in the very fields we know are going to be our future."

Obama, incidentally, was speaking at the headquarters of Cree, Inc. The company has been a beneficiary of the administration's crony capitalism when it comes to its quixotic "green" programs that are supposed to wean America from its addiction to foreign oil and lift it out of its economic mess. Cree uses LED technology to produce fuel-efficient lighting, and in 2009 it got $39 million in tax credits from the Recovery Act (or taxpayers) to develop clean energy technology.

Regarding Cree's employment, Obama failed to mention one embarrassing little detail about its employees. Cree used its "stimulus" money to among other things open a manufacturing plant in Huizhou, China. Now, more than half of its employees work there.

If Obama's example of a "stimulus" success story is anything like his solution for creating future engineers and scientists, Americans have good reason to be very worried about whether America is on track to maintain its competitive edge.

Originally published at The American Thinker.
In Texas, lawmakers lectured by open-borders activist...in SPANISH!

By David Paulin

In Texas, a Republican lawmaker has run afoul of the political correctness police. They're calling him ignorant and intolerant, after he bluntly criticized an open-border's activist opposed to legislation outlawing sanctuary cities.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called passage of the bill a top priority. It would outlaw cities like Austin, the capital, from establishing themselves as sanctuary cities. In Austin, police are prevented from asking suspects about their immigration status -- even if they have reason to believe the person is, say, an illegal immigrant from Mexico or Central America. The bill has passed the Senate and is expected to pass the House.

On Monday, lawmakers heard from Antolin Aguirre, an opponent of the bill who is a member of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Aguirre has been in America for 23 years, and became a naturalized citizen in 2001 - and yet he addressed Texas lawmakers in Spanish.

"We are 100 percent opposed to SB 9, which impacts our families and our communities," Aguirre said during a brief statement to members of the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee. As he spoke, a Spanish interpreter translated his remarks into English.

Hearing the committee addressed in Spanish was too much for Sen. Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington, who --as the Statesman reported -- asked the interpreter to clarify one of Aguirre's remarks.

"Did I understand him correctly that he has been here since 1988?" he said.

"Yes, sir, that's correct," Aguirre replied in English.

"Why aren't you speaking in English then? Twenty-three years. You've been here for 23 years?"

Aguirre explained that Spanish is his "first language and since it is his first time giving testimony he would rather do it in Spanish."

Harris' remarks have outraged the liberal editorial board of the Austin American-Statesman. An editorial, "Curb the intolerance, por favor," said that Aguirre's reason for speaking Spanish "seems reasonable to us." Besides lambasting Harris for his "intolerance and ignorance," the paper said he was "un-Texan."

Harris, for his part, told Aguirre and others that being addressed in Spanish in the Senate "is insulting to us. It is very insulting. And if he knows English, he needs to be speaking in English."

Perhaps Harris could have been more diplomatic; yet he was on target in expressing the frustration that many Texas feel over what's happened in their state -- the establishment of Spanish-speaking enclaves by immigrants who appear to have little love for America's culture, language, and traditions.

In his famous essay in Foreign Policy magazine, "The Hispanic Challenge," Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington put it this way:

"The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves -- from Los Angeles to Miami -- and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril."

If anybody doubts that, they need to visit Austin, where such large Hispanic enclaves are common. Mexican flags even fly in some parts of the city.

The Statesman's editorial also took aim at Tea Party member Rebecca Forest, co-founder of Women on the Wall which wants to see immigration laws enforced.

While at the state Capitol, Forest -- according to the Statesman -- showed her intolerance and ignorance when she identified a major obstacle to immigration enforcement -- Hispanic lawmakers.

"If you want to know why we can't pass legislation in Texas it's because we have 37, no 36, Hispanics in the Legislature," she said. "So that's part of the problem, and we need to change those numbers. We need to do something about it."

She went onto suggest that these lawmakers were to tied up with identity politics; and that their main allegiance is to their ethnic roots.

Perhaps Forest was misquoted or perhaps she needs to be more careful in her comments. In fact, a handful of Hispanic lawmakers in the Texas legislature are Republicans -- and in the past they have taken decidedly different positions than Hispanic Democrats on immigration and other hot-button issues. It took political courage. One example was their support earlier this year of legislation requiring voter ID to ensure integrity at the ballot box.

And then there's Rep. Larry Gonzales, a Republican from Round Rock who supports the sanctuary cities bill. Recently, he brushed aside claims from Democrats and ethnic lobbies that it will encourage profiling.

"Racial profiling is illegal in Texas and has been illegal since 2001. This bill does nothing to change that," said Gonzalez, legislative director of Hispanic Republican Conference. "Racial profiling is illegal in Texas and will remain illegal once this bill passes."

Explaining the rationale for the House's passage of the sanctuary cities bill, he said it "provides for the implementation of a consistent standard across the state in setting illegal immigration policies. This bill will be the core of a renewed spirit of cooperation and trust between law enforcement and the citizens of Texas."

Expect lots more fireworks when Texas passes landmark legislation aimed at shutting down the state's sanctuary cities.

Originally published at The American Thinker


Defiant Spanish Language lecture of Texas legislators goes viral with video

By Thomas Lifson

Video of the testimony of immigrant rights activist Antolin Aguirre, who chose to lecture Texas legislators in Spanish Monday, despite living in the United States for 23 years and taking naturalized citizenship in 2001, was posted on YouTube, and has gone viral after being posted by Drudge. David Paulin brought the shocking display of arrogance to national attention on Thursday on AT. Here is the brief video, demonstrating that Aguirre speaks fine English...

For the video and rest of the article, go to The American Thinker.

June 13, 2011

In Florida, anti-gun physicians claim right to ask patients about their guns

By David Paulin

What's happening to the medical profession? In Madison, Wisconsin, lefty pro-union physicians wrote bogus medical excuses to striking school teachers -- so they wouldn't be disciplined for failing to show up for their classes. Now in Florida, a coalition of physicians with an anti-gun bent are insisting they have the right to ask patients whether they own guns and are storing them safely.

To most gun owners, of course, the fact that they own firearms and how they store them is a private matter - and certainly not the business of their physicians. So it was not surprising that some Florida gun owners went ballistic when, not long ago, they went in for checkups - and had their physicians instead peppering them with questions about their guns and where they keep them.

"We pay doctors to be doctors and give us medical care," Florida NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer told Capital News Service. "Instead, they are trying to be social workers and bring their gun-ban politics into the examining room."

Complaints from gun owners and the NRA eventually reached Florida's lawmakers. Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, signed legislation restricting the ability of physicians to ask patients about guns in their home. Lawmakers passed the bill largely along party lines.

But the controversy isn't over just yet. Now, the anti-gun physicians are fighting back. In an article about the controversy, the Orlando Sentinel reports:

Attorneys with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and two other law firms are seeking to block enforcement of the law on behalf of three South Florida doctors as well as the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians.

The bill passed after lobbyists for gun-rights groups and the Florida Medical Association cut a deal that removed the original bill's fine of up to $5 million and jail time for doctors and weakened other restrictions. But other physicians groups -- most notably, pediatricians -- have continued to fight it, saying that they ask about guns to ensure that parents keep them safely locked up and away from children.

By severely restricting such speech and the ability of physicians to practice such preventative medicine, the Florida statute could result in grievous harm to children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly," according to the lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Miami.

Interestingly, some anti-gun physicians apparently considered their queries about gun ownership to be protected under the First Amendment - yet they did not consider that their patients had a First Amendment right not to answer their questions. Or as the Miami Herald reported: The legislation restricting physicians from inquiring about firearms ownership "appears to have originated after an Ocala couple complained that their doctor had told them to find another physician after they refused to disclose whether they owned guns and how they were stored."

Some might call this an example of the Nanny State. But the more apt term for it is police state. How do you suppose these physicians feel about Obamacare?
'Miracle on Hudson' survivors united (and saved) by shared values

By David Paulin

The crew and passengers of the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight have a lot in common. It's not just that they survived a harrowing near-death experience together -- the ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River after the jet hit geese on take-off from LaGuardia Airport.

It's that they're very much alike -- middle and upper-middle class Americans with shared values: Values, you might say, that played a critical role in saving their lives.

On Saturday, the crew and more than a dozen passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 gathered for a reunion in Charlotte, North Carolina; it was the destination for the ill-fated jet nearly two-and-a-half years ago. Recently, the salvaged Airbus was trucked to Charlotte where it will have permanent home at Charlotte's Aviation Museum. Passengers on Saturday were seeing the jet for the first time since it splashed down in the Hudson on January 15, 2009.

"It's one thing to read about history or to hear about history, but it's another to see it up close and personal," said Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. Putting Flight 1549 into deeper perspective, he added: "It served as a reminder when we very much needed one, of the goodness that exists not only in the world, but within each of us."

Indeed, the orderly evacuation of the jet was credited to a large extent with the fact that all 150 passengers and five crew members survived. Why did things turn out as well as they did?

Captain Sullenberger, now retired, has in the past played down his own role as a hero, a man whose skillful piloting and grace under pressure saved the day. He was merely part of a "team effort," he said -- one involving his copilot, cabin crew, and the impromptu rescue effort by a flotilla of ferries and other boats.

First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, for his part, credited the passengers with being a big part of that team effort. "The passengers did their jobs. They very orderly evacuated the airplane after we touched down," he said during the "Charlie Rose" show. Passengers, in other words, didn't let a survival-of-the-fittest mentality to dictate who got out first. They behaved as they were brought up to behave --waiting their turns to get out of the jet as it filled with cold water. The same may be said of crew members. They did their jobs thanks to the values of self-discipline and sense of duty, traits that went hand-in-hand with their training.

Who were Flight 1549's passengers? Just ordinary middle and upper-middle class folks. Many were young professionals. Presumably, they grew up with the values of civic responsibility, courtesy, and self-discipline. Among them were 23 Bank of America executives and three from Wells Fargo.

They and fellow passengers were not the kinds of folks you expect to see trampling over one another at Wal-Mart in their zeal to snap up discounted electronics and CDs.

Speaking at Flight 1549's reunion, First Officer Skiles said, "The airplane itself really doesn't stir up any emotion for me. But coming back to an event like this, where the passengers and crew are reunited, and I can revisit the relationships that I've made with them over the last two and a half years, that's really what's important."

It's common for people who have a near-death experience to thereafter have a far greater appreciation for what's important in life. For Flight 1549's passengers, Saturday's reunion is, at bottom, a celebration of the values that unite them -- and that saved them.

Originally published at The American Thinker blog

June 5, 2011

In a Sanctuary City, an Illegal Immigrant Gets the Death Penalty

By David Paulin

Areli Carbajal Escobar, a violent 32-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico, had a long rap sheet. Over the years in the sanctuary city of Austin, Texas, police and prosecutors had many contacts with him.

Yet Escobar was never deported.

Now, immigration problems are the least of Escobar's worries. Last week, a Travis County jury sentenced him to death for the brutal rape and murder of a high school honor student.

Texas may lead the nation for executions, but most condemned murderers aren't from Austin, the capital, and surrounding Travis County -- for both are enclaves of liberal Democrats in an otherwise red state. In Travis County, murderers aren't often sentenced to death.

But an exception was made for Escobar -- given the brutality of his crime, lack of remorse, and long criminal history. As a reader of the Austin American-Statesman observed in an online comment: "When a latte-sipping, Volvo-driving, NPR-listening Travis County jury straps you down, you know you've earned it!"

The trial of Areli Carbajal Escobar captivated Austin and provided a glimpse into the world of sanctuary cities and illegal immigration. According to court testimony, he was born in Central Mexico to poor and illiterate parents; when he was six his father immigrated illegally with him to Texas. But Escobar didn't grow up to be a poster child for the DREAM Act. A gang member, he was fond of beating up and terrorizing women, including his wife -- facts known to Austin's police. In one incident, he shoved a friend of his wife's against a wall and held a screw driver against her neck. He was involved in organized crime relating to car burglaries and had a long list of other offenses: drunk driving, driving with a suspended license, and other such offenses.

Yet despite numerous brushes with the police and courts, Escobar's immigration status never apparently raised eyebrows. Nobody should be surprised: Austin is a sanctuary city. Police there invariably turn a blind eye to the immigration status of suspects and illegal immigrants who aren't causing major problems. By doing this, police claim they're better able to fight crime, because illegal immigrants will supposedly be more comfortable dealing with the police and report crimes. It's a questionable law-enforcement philosophy, however. And it's undercut by what seems to animate it -- an open-borders philosophy and politically correct notion that immigration enforcement amounts to "racial profiling."

In 2009, Escobar committed a crime that was too much even for open-borders Austin and its touchy-feely criminal-justice system. He forced his way into an apartment near his own, then brutally raped and murdered a 17-year-old single mom and high school student named Bianca Maldonado. She put up a struggle, but died of blood loss from a terrible beating and 47 stab wounds. Her 1-year-old son, Cesar, suffered a cut hand and bruised eyes.

Why did Escobar do it? A forensic psychologist for the defense testified that Escobar was in a "psychotic state" and animated by a rage he felt for his girlfriend. "I think he spun out of control," said Matthew Ferrara. He added that Escobar had a "borderline personality disorder" and there was a "98.2 percent" chance he wouldn't commit a violent crime in prison -- if sent there instead of going to the death chamber. The jury didn't buy any of it. Nor was the jury moved by testimony from Escobar's loyal family members who called him a good man. "To me, he's the most wonderful person in the world," said Escobar's 21-year-old sister Nancy.

Escobar was tied to the crime through DNA evidence and fact that he briefly answered his cell phone during the assault, and his girlfriend at the time heard some of what was happening -- a woman's screams, grunts, and groans. Escobar was separated at the time from his wife with whom he'd had five children. The children are receiving counseling.

Escobar didn't know Maldonado. When he raped and killed her, he was unemployed, separated from his wife, and, according to his girlfriend at the time, "stressed out." He also was in trouble with the law again; a Travis County judge had released him on a "personal recognizance bond." In Travis County, such bonds are approved more often than anywhere else in Texas.

Maldonado was a sympathetic victim. The Statesman continually reminded readers that she was not just another Latina who, like so many others in Austin, had a baby as a teen and dropped out of high school. Rather, she was getting her life together. She was described as an honor student who had a "B" average -- all while caring for her baby and working a part-time job at a Jack in the Box managed by her mother. She was destined to go to college, her teachers said.

Escobar's trial got prominent news coverage, but Austin's news media tiptoed around Escobar's immigration status. As is often the case, one had to read between the lines in newspaper and television coverage to figure it out; or check a web site operated by the Travis County Sheriff's office: It shows an "immigration hold" for Escobar.

Illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America -- mostly poor and uneducated -- have free run in Austin. Escobar is one example. His home in Mexico had a dirt floor; there was no indoor plumbing or electricity. The abject poverty of his early years and illiterate parents were introduced during his trial's penalty phase -- part of an effort by defense lawyer to win the jury's sympathy and spare Escobar from the death penalty.

The trial had some strange moments. One of Escobar's lawyers suggested that wounds made by a "hard object" to Maldonado's vagina and anus were inflicted after her death. It was an important legal technicality. As the Statesman explained: "Because sexual assault is a crime on a live person, if the jury finds that there was no sexual assault, then Escobar could only be found guilty of murder and would not qualify for the death penalty."

Why wasn't Escobar deported years ago after first attracting the attention of Austin's police, prosecutors, and judges? It's a question that even Austin's liberals are now asking, including Statesman columnist Alberta Phillips. "Law enforcement officials need to explain to Bianca's mother -- and this community -- why Escobar, with a rap sheet of serious crimes, was not in jail or sent back to Mexico," Phillips wrote. Her column's title aptly summed up Escobar's life: "A History of Violence." Phillips was outraged that Austin's police didn't do more to keep Austin's "Latinas" safe from Escobar.

But at least Maldonado's mother, Jaqueline Hernandez, was satisfied that Escobar got the death penalty. Speaking in Spanish, she said: "I feel good. I feel like it's justice." She'd discovered Bianca's mutilated body when she and a second daughter came home from a job delivering newspapers.

One of Republican Gov. Rick Perry's priorities has been to pass legislation to essentially outlaw sanctuary cities. But two separate bills that passed the House have stalled in the Senate, blocked by Democratic lawmakers who say the bills would lead to "racial profiling" and undercut the relationship between the police and Latino community.

Racial profiling, however, wouldn't occur if police had a reason to check on a suspect's immigration status. And it's also questionable that the bill would hamper the police by undermining their relationship with the Latino community. For one thing, many unassimilated Latinos are reluctant to cooperate with the police anyway, even when it's in their interest to do so. It's not because they're afraid of being deported. It's become of their culture, a fact that's well known to police.

According a Berlitz-style guide on Spanish language and culture used at a local police academy, unassimilated Latinos "will most likely side with each other than an outsider. An individual will assist family members and friends regardless of the consequences, and expect the same in return. A sense of honor is so important in Latino culture, that it may keep an individual from cooperating with the police against a friend or family members, even though he or she may not condone any of the actions."

Interestingly, some Latina women did phone Austin's police about Escobar, but then failed to do the necessary follow-up with a detective -- and detectives failed to follow-up with the women who'd filed the initial complaints. So much for the desire of Austin's police to have splendid cooperation from the Latino community in order to fight crime. Escobar thus continued his rampage, until raping and murdering Maldonado.

Austin's police and prosecutors have much explaining to do regarding Escobar -- and liberals for a change are demanding answers in a city where the large Hispanic subculture will, thanks to changing demographics, be the prevailing culture in not too many years.

Editor's Note: For more on the sanctuary city of Austin, Texas, see two previous articles at The American Thinker: "Hit-and-Run: Death in a Sanctuary City" and "Uproar Over Illegal Charged with Vehicular Homicide in Texas."

Originally published at The American Thinker.

June 4, 2011

'Racial Incident' in Texas School Plunges City into Turmoil

By David Paulin

It's being called an ugly "racial incident." As a consequence, Bastrop, Texas, a city of about 8,000 near the capital of Austin, is in turmoil. And a school principal's career is in jeopardy.

There were no racial epithets used in this incident, however. There was no "hate crime." And nobody was discriminated against. Rather, the well-intentioned principal of Bastrop Middle School, Teri Watson, did what liberal lawmakers and government bureaucrats have done for years. She tried to help some of her students by identifying them as members of an underachieving racial group -- rather than as underachieving individuals.

Not long ago, Watson became alarmed upon noticing a troubling trend: Black students as a group were doing far worse academically than other racial and ethnic groups at Bastrop Middle School. Watson, to be sure, had a very good reason for analyzing academic achievement and underachievement based on racial and ethnic groups. That's one way the state itself defines how public schools are performing. Indeed, under the state's own criteria, all racial and ethnic groups must be performing above a certain level. And if one groups falls below acceptable levels, then the entire school's certification and funding are put in jeopardy.

What to do about her badly performing black students whose poor grades posed potentially negative consequences for her school's accreditation? One day last February, Watson took action. Over the school's intercom, a number of eighth grade students were summoned by name to the library. All had one thing in common: They were black.

Facing the group, Watson, who is white, reportedly gave them something of a pep talk. She said "they need to pull together and help each other study to improve their schools," said Catina White-Higgins, a parent whose daughter Felicity was in the group. Watson "had a chart to show them where their scores were low. ... [My daughter] said it made her feel like she was nothing, that she was in trouble. It made her feel bad," she told the Austin American-Statesman, a daily newspaper.

Felicity Higgins told a local television station, "I didn't know what was going on and I was already embarrassed" at being summoned to the library. "Then when I got in there and she started talking about test scores and then she holds up a poster board and that's supposed to mean something to me? It doesn't at all. It doesn't mean anything to me."

Another black student had another complaint -- that she wasn't called to the library because officials mistook her for being white. "They didn't blame me because I was white? Made me feel upset; I was pretty mad," said Hailey Meeks.

The day after Watson's pep talk, the school sent letters to parents apologizing for her conduct. In addition, the school district's superintendent wrote a letter of apology to the community, published in The Bastrop Advertiser, which said Watson had acted improperly, had "apologized profusely," and he indicated that black students were doing poorly due to the "school's academic shortcomings."

It wasn't enough for aggrieved black parents and students in Bastrop. The city is now experiencing the sort of turmoil that inevitably arises when such "racial incidents" occur in post-racial America.

Responding to angry black parents, the school board is implementing a "diversity plan" that among other things will affect future hiring and training. "What we're trying to do is ... put a diversity plan in place in order to address some of the concerns that are out there," Bastrop school district spokesman Donald Williams told the Statesman. He added that the idea is "to move forward and to be able to help our students and our families."

Watson, a veteran educator, is a native of Bastrop and active in community affairs. Yet the hurt she inflicted upon her black students -- all for telling them the truth -- may prove her undoing. Some black parents are calling for Watson's head. White-Higgins said she "has lost a lot of trust [in Watson]. It's kind of like once you severed that trust, it's hard to gain it back."

Last Tuesday evening, black parents and their children held a protest march, walking from a local church to a school board meeting, with some repeating calls for Watson's dismissal. She remains on the job, however.

Would there have been any black outrage if Watson had not been white but black? Better still, what if somebody else had taken Bastrop's black students to task for their lousy grades -- say Bill Cosby, Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, or even President Obama? It's doubtful any "racial incident" would have occurred if such black role models had told Bastrop's black students the truth -- they were academic losers and needed to get their acts together.

One wonders what new "diversity" programs Bastrop's school district will implement. If they're anything like the social engineering programs created by liberal lawmakers and bureaucrats over the years, they may end up creating more problems than they solve.

And unfortunately, the victims of such programs may well be well-intentioned educators like Teri Watson -- and her poorly performing black students.

Originally published at The American Thinker.