Posted in Abortion, Immigration, Mississippi, Politics, Voting

Immigration, Abortions and Collective Bargaining

We earned a series of victories last night, all throughout the nation. Our country, contrary to what many would have us believe, apparently isn’t nearly as right-wing nutty conservative as one may think.

Americans took to the polls yesterday, and in domino-like fashion, managed to accomplish some pretty great, progressive-like things.

In Ohio, voters gave power back to the unions, reversing prior legislation that stripped the collective bargaining rights of teachers, firefighters and others.

In Arizona, the author of the state’s hideously bigoted controversial immigration law suffered a terrible blow, losing the recall election. Senator Russell Pearce lost to fellow Republican Jerry Lewis, who has promised to take a more “cooperative” approach in trying to work through the issues of immigration throughout the state.

Finally, and perhaps most especially, Mississippi was unsuccessful in its attempt to pass Amendment 26. Known widely as the Personhood Amendment, it would have amended the Mississippi Constitution to state that life begins at conception (or cloning) and ends at birth.

Peronhood

The obvious point in drafting such legislation would be to allow Mississippi a way around Roe v. Wade, effectively illegalizing abortion in the state.

Not only would this measure have opened the door for other states to completely outlaw abortion, it also would have pushed one of the poorest, least-educated states in the country back into the stone ages of reproductive rights. Because life would have been defined as beginning at “the moment of conception or equivalent thereof”, many forms of birth control would have been banned- it wouldn’t have just impacted abortion rights. Further, even the ease in which couples could obtain in vitro treatments would have been impacted; in some cases, fertilized eggs do get destroyed in the lab, and under the proposed amendment, a fertilized egg is a person.

Oh- and there were zero provisions, in case you were wondering, to allow emergency abortive procedures to save a mother’s life, or in cases of rape and/or incest. I guess we, as women, were just expected to man up and take one for the team.

Even if it, quite literally, killed us.

I was nervous, as election day approached. I’m not a resident of Mississippi, but I am a supporter of human rights, regardless of where the humans may find themselves residing.

If any state could have pulled it off, Mississippi could have. Long touted as the nation’s “most conservative state”, Mississippi houses exactly one abortion clinic.

But they didn’t do it.

I breathe a sigh of relief…

… because for the moment, at least, the good guys won.

Onward.

Posted in Alabama, Bull Connor, Civil Rights, Governor Robert Bentley, HB56, Immigration, Politics

Bull Connor, Robert Bentley and the Pride of Alabama

Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up.

I have no idea who came up with that quote, but whoever it was is indeed a wise one.

60 years ago, a Civil Rights war was waged and won. Both a product of the south and bi-racial, I am proud of my history and ever-conscious of it. I love going back home and touring plantations, walking through the many museums that document in breathtaking detail what seems like every moment of our racially-intolerant past- from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement.

Years ago, when my (now) 13 year old was about five, I took her to a plantation just outside of Richmond, VA. After walking through the beautifully landscaped grounds, we came across a real cotton field; one that still produces to this day. I made my child get out there and start picking it. What better way to illustrate the back-breaking work her ancestors were forced to perform? I was grateful for the opportunity to show her, and for just a moment, she lived her history.

The beautiful home and land we had been visiting took on a different look to her that day.

One of the greatest things about the south is its willingness- its openness- to address its bloody history. Nowhere is human progress more apparent to me than when I have the opportunity to go home and see for myself how far we have come in such a short amount of time.

The good guys won that war. I just wish I could say the story is over now, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Unfortunately, however, that’s not the case. There has been a heartbreaking backslide in our country, and yes (or most especially, perhaps) it is happening in the south.

On its surface, the battle may not look like the one our Civil Rights heroes fought all those years ago, but if one takes just a moment to look below the surface, the similarities are chilling.

Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the Movement was fought to end segregation against blacks.

Today, we are (again) called to fight against segregation, racism and hatred. This time, however, the brown people being targeted are not African American; they are instead Latino…

… More specifically, they are Mexican.

Nationwide, debates have been ongoing, with politicians from every corner of the country weighing in on immigration. They speak in general terms, but everyone knows it is not the Canadians we want off our soil.

It’s those dirty Mexicans.

They’re gangbangers, after all.

Drug Lords.

Worthless.

Ignorant.

They’re stealing our jobs.

Besides- don’t they know it’s illegal for them to be here? Send them home!

Cue angry mob with pitchforks and torches

Alabama has recently passed one of the worst pieces of hate-legislation this country has ever seen. Its target is Mexican immigrants. The legislation is called HB56 (I’m told- though I don’t believe it- the HB does not stand for Hate Bill), and if you click here you can read it in its entirety.

Generally speaking, the bill legalizes the terrorization of Latinos. Some of its highpoints include:

  • Allowing local law enforcement to demand papers from and detain those they believe are in the country illegally, even if the reason for stopping the person had nothing to do with immigration status (during a traffic stop, for example).
  • Making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to hold a job in Alabama, and make it a crime for any immigrant in the state to be caught without documentation proving status.
  • Making it illegal to sign a contract with undocumented immigrants, to knowingly rent property to them, to knowingly hire them for jobs.
  • Requiring businesses to use E-Verify, the government database of names, to check employees’ legal status.

The bill doesn’t stop there. It even attacks the children of immigrants, requiring every single school to obtain each student’s immigration status, to be turned over to state administrators. The bill also makes it illegal for any undocumented student to obtain any type of post-high school education in the state.

The obvious objective of this bill is to scare the little brown people, with the hope of forcing Mexicans out of this country- or at the very least, out of the state.

You ain’t gotta go home, but you can’t stay here!

Republicans, typically and true to form, have resorted to scare-tactics to garner public support of the hate-filled drivel contained in HB56.

Alabama state representative (and Republican co-sponsor of the bill) Scott Beason told his constituents that the bill will “put thousands of Alabamians back to work”.

Really? GREAT!!

Except that it’s a lie.

An outright complete and total, ignorant lie.

Since the bill was passed, hundreds (if not thousands) of immigrants have fled the state of Alabama. In addition to being too afraid to send their children to school, they have abandoned their jobs.

Almost none of the many newly created job openings have been filled.

Why?

Because those hardworking pariahs of society are so desperate to survive in this country, so desperate to create better lives for themselves and their families that they are willing to do the kind of work that no one else is willing to do. The work is back breaking, and it is done by undocumented immigrants in abhorrent and dangerous conditions for mere pennies.

It’s the kind of work you couldn’t pay one of “us” to do.

Critics and supporters alike agree that this bill makes even Arizona’s immigration laws look like child’s play, and from the looks of things, Alabama is just getting started.

Those who sponsored this bill justify the hatred found in its contents by reminding the nation that it is against the law to be an undocumented person in this country. They justify their support by making themselves out to be the victims, with undocumented Mexicans the perpetrators of a terrible crime.

Gone is the memory that not too long ago, segregation was legal in the south. It was legal for white people to trample all over the Constitutional rights of black people. It was legal to put a black man in jail for speaking to a white woman. It was legal to keep a black person from voting, or to keep black people from eating with, living near and being educated with white people.

Simply making something legal doesn’t make it right.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the funeral of Civil Rights icon Fred Shuttlesworth. It was wonderful to have a chance to pay my respects to a bona-fide hero, but even more rewarding was the opportunity I had to listen to many great people pay homage to him. Among those who spoke was the current governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley.

Bentley, a Republican, gave a beautiful tribute to both Shuttlesworth and the Movement in general. He spoke eloquently about Alabama’s racial history, and said adamantly- passionately, even- that we can never allow history to repeat itself. His words were moving, and it definitely added a level of legitimacy, hearing these truths spoken by a white conservative.

What Governor Bentley did not address, unfortunately, is his unwavering, undying and thoroughly mortifying support of HB56.

The hypocrisy is astounding.

This man was able to stand up and speak truth to power when it came to the historic plight of one group of people with brown skin. Simultaneously, however, he supports- and is actively causing– the systematic dismantling of the human rights of different group of brown people.

Governor Bentley, with the help of Alabama’s super-majority Republican legislature has legalized the outright abuse and hatred of fellow human beings.

I know one thing- Bull Connor sure would be proud.

Posted in Immigration, Meg Whitman, Politics, Race

Undocumented Workers, Whitman and Indentured Servants

Is it possible that our Conservative friends are less against the idea of illegal immigrants coming into this country, and more against the idea that they may actually become positioned to take a bite out of the American Pie?

My speculation on this subject began as the result of a conversation I had with a colleague about Meg Whitman, California gubernatorial candidate, under fire for employing an undocumented worker for 9 years.

Initially, I simply commented on the obvious hypocrisy of a conservative-anti-immigration-politician employing an illegal alien.

Knowingly doing so.

She hates that illegals are in this country, but she’s paying a decent wage to one of them herself…

… Her own actions encouraged this particular undocumented worker to remain not just in the U.S., but in Ms. Whitman’s very home.

But whatever.

So my colleague says that maybe these people are not really as against the idea of undocumented workers, so long as those workers know their place.

As long as they’re in the fields picking tomatoes…

… Or inside of some rich person’s home scrubbing toilets, it’s ok.

The problem occurs when these undocumented brown people, after all their contributions to the American infrastructure, start expecting basic rights.

Once we grant them rights, once we openly acknowledge their existence…

… We may next have to begin granting them power.

Sure, just little chunks of control here or there, such as paying them a living wage, but that’s how it starts.

Before you know it, they’ll be dating our daughters and taking our sons’ spots on the high school baseball team.

Unacceptable!

We must keep them in their place, which means they are to remain nothing better than an impoverished indentured servant.

As long as they know their place, we’ll keep hiring them.

Posted in Congress, Current Events, House of Representatives, Immigration, News, Politics, Republicans

Colbert’s Congressional Testimony

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. My passion is politics with a little social justice thrown into the mix, but lately, those topics have become scary.

I love a good political debate. Lately, however, intelligent political discussions are increasingly replaced by fear mongering on the right, by race baiting on the left… The end result being that I stopped following politics altogether. I must confess, for quite a while, Lindsey Lohan’s most recent drug-induced shenanigans, reported by radaronline and TMZ made for more interesting reading than all my old standby favorites (HuffPo, Politico, CNN, FoxNews) on the political front combined.

So…

…What, exactly, awoke the sleeping giant?

While I make no promises that I am awake for good, I can say that today, at least, I simply found myself with something to say.

I recently had the opportunity to witness the “testimony” of Stephen Colbert as he addressed Congress (the House Judiciary Committe’s subcommittee on immigration) regarding the plight of the migrant worker in America. Mr. Colbert showed up in character, speaking as the ultra-conservative, completely unenlightened political pundit we’ve all come to know from his Comedy Central Show, “The Colbert Report”.

Generally speaking, I am a fan of “The Colbert Report”. I find it absolutely hilarious. For those that are not aware, Stephen Colbert pokes fun at conservatives by pretending to be a conservative, using ridiculous, outrageous arguments to boost popular conservative ideologies. Colbert touches on everything from racism to gun control, from the war to drugs, and even broadcast a show recently from Iraq. Most recently, he has taken on immigration.

Colbert’s message is a good one. He understands that the food supply in this country truly relies on undocumented migrant workers. Immigrants are not stealing American jobs, as many who fear the brown people would have you believe.

In fact, an organization called “Take Our Jobs” demonstrates this fact. Through its website, powered by the United Farm Workers (UFW), the “Take Our Jobs” initiative attempts to get legal, documented U.S. citizens to apply for farm work. From the site one can apply for farm work, and the UFW is definitely hiring currently. The website has received thousands of hits, a few applications from U.S. Citizens, but not a single candidate has accepted the jobs, once offered.

Much like the UFW, I believe drastic action such as immediate deportation, against undocumented workers is counterproductive, and would certainly cause more problems than it would solve. Any American unable to recognize how heavily we rely on undocumented labor is delusional, to say the least.

It is under this premise that Stephen Colbert appeared in front of the Judiciary Committee, alongside Arturo S.  Rodriguez, president, United Farm Workers.

I appreciate and largely agree with the message…

… I have a hard time supporting the method. For Stephen Colbert to show up in character, essentially putting on a comedy routine for Congress, was a bit of a turn off for me. I think the representatives we have in place are largely ineffective, but I have enough respect for the legislative branch of government itself, that I do not find a Comedy Central skit during session appropriate.

You may view Colbert’s testimony here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMIz73z6Hcg&NR=1

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Congress, Current Events, Democrats, Health Care Reform, Healthcare Reform, Joe Wilson, News, Politics, Republicans

Joe Wilson Supports Medical Treatment of Illegal Immigrants At Taxpayer Expense

People often ask me why I am so interested in politics. The answer I most often give is that it’s because politicians can be so much fun!

I decided, after Joe Wilson’s now-infamous outburst during President Obama’s address to the joint sessions of Congress, to do a little research on Rep. Wilson himself…

… More specifically, I wanted to learn more about his voting record.

As I’m sure no one will be shocked to read, I have found that Joe Wilson is a complete hypocrite.

I know, I know- who isnt these days?

Wilson’s hypocrisy, however, is in direct relation to his supposed views against those who are not legally in this country receiving government-funded medical treatment.

Given this information, I was surprised to learn a very different bit of data about the South Carolina Representative.

Joe, it seems, actually supports the idea of federal tax dollars being used to pay for the medical treatment of illegal immigrants.

You see, there’s this law called the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 that contains a provision requiring an annual amount of $250,000 be set aside for the sole purpose of reimbursing hospitals who treat illegal immigrants. The legislation was initially to run from 2003 through 2008, but was recently extended into 2009, with talk of making it permanent.

When this Act came up for a vote in Congress, Joe Wilson voted “Yay”, as in, yes, to pass it.

So… let me get this straight:

Joe Wilson, who is an opponent of the Health Care Legislation in large part due to the fact that he believes the vicious rumors claiming that illegal immigrants will receive free, government-funded health insurance, decides to lose his freakin’ mind, jumping up and shouting “You Lie!” during the portion of Obama’s speech in which Obama is very truthfully debunking that particular myth…

… This same Joe Wilson who, while claiming he is being victimized by the left for his adamant opposition to government-funded health care for those who are not legally in this country…

Voted in support of the use of federal tax dollars to pay for the medical treatment of those very same illegal immigrants.

Huh.

It’s a mouthful, but it’s all true, I can assure you.

Never a dull moment on Capitol Hill!