Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Once Again, Amnesty International Playing Politics

I wrote an article last May in USANow about Amnesty International's annual report. I chronicled the background of Secretary General Irene Khan, who is the first woman and the first Muslim to head up Amnesty International. She has been quoted as comparing modern day Muslim aggression to the Crusades, but at the same time stated that there is no need for a War on Terror. Under Khan's direction, Amnesty International was harsh in their judgement of the USA last year, and this year is no different.

States the report: "When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity." Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are again cited as examples of human rights abuses. Granted, abuses took place at Abu Ghraib, but has there been any evidence that those abuses exemplify US policy? And other than faulty reporting from Newsweek, have there been reports of abuses at Guantanamo Bay?

During the past year, the world has witnessed be-headings and car bombings in Iraq perpetrated by Islamic militants, child molestation by UN officials in the Congo, and ongoing genocide in the Sudan (perpetrated by Islamic militants). If Islamic militants in Iraq and Sudan followed the US human rights example (as suggested by Kahn), millions of civilians would still be alive today (it is estimated that 2 million people in southern Sudan have been murdered at the hands of Muslims from northern Sudan). Yet Ms. Khan states that it is the example of the United States which causes others to commit abuses! How am I not surprised? Because we had a couple of rogue guards force prisoners to get naked, Ms. Khan excuses Islamic militants of torture and murder. Do you think she's perhaps just a little biased by her religion?

Given her political and religious background, as well as her history writing these annual reports, I suggest she go ahead and write the next 20 years worth of reports today. She could start every report like this: "The USA is guilty of human rights abuses. The ten-fold murderous response by the Muslim community is justified because of the United States' example."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

HISD and Abe Saavedra Success Story

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) made news last year in their efforts to find a new Superintendant. The search became a racial issue when the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) stated the new Super "must be Hispanic". After creating a short list of candidates who were being pushed out of their current jobs, HISD select Abe Saavedra, who himself left Corpus Christi amid a wave of controversy.

I was critical of LULAC's insistence on an Hispanic superintendant. Their logic, ironically enough, was that HISD is a majority Hispanic so the leadership must be Hispanic. Funny how they don't see things this way when Hispanics are the minority). I was also critical of HISD's approach to the hiring, as it was done in a manner that basically ensured Saavedra would get the job.

Fast forward to this year, and it's worth reporting on a major HISD success story. Last fall, Saavedra, along with 500 other volunteers, personally visited dropouts of 8 HISD high schools in what Saavedra calls a "dropout walk". The dropouts were not only asked to come back, but they were asked how the district could help them get back in school. In one instance, as reported by the Houston Chronicle today, the district helped a young mother find a job and arrange health care for her children. She was one of 291 kids who returned to high school as a result of HISD's personal appeal. This weekend, she is graduating from Furr High School along with 47 other students who had previously dropped out.

Congratulations to Saavedra and to HISD for a job very well done. The program will be expanded next year to include dropouts from 16 HISD high schools.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

American Automobile Quality

The 2005 JD Power Inital Quality Study was released this week. This report measures the total number of reported problems per 100 vehicles sold.

Once again, Lexus achieved the industry's highest marks, with 81 problems reported per 100 vehicles. What's more notable, however, is that Buick and Cadillac once again made the top 5 list of manufacturers with 100 and 104 problems per 100, respectively. Buick and Cadillac received higher quality marks than Toyota, Infiniti, Nissan, Mercedes, Acura and Honda. Overall, 5 American brands achieved better-than-average quality ratings, as did 5 Japanese, 4 European, and 1 Korean. In addition to Buick and Cadillac, Hummer, GMC, and Lincoln came in better than the industry average.

With respect to individual models, American vehicles came out on top in 7 of the 18 automobile categories, including all three pickup categories, entry midsize sedan, premium midsize sedan, and large sedan.

Perhaps this report will help dispel the notion that American cars do not match the quality of Asian or European competitors.

As an aside, both of my vehicles (Chevrolet Suburban and Lexus IS 300) came out #1. To date, the Suburban has proven to be the more reliable and better made vehicle.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Why Immigration is Good for America

In reviewing my blog I've noticed that the three most recent posts seem to cast a negative light on immigration into the United States, especially with respect to Hispanic immigration. Let me clear the air: Legal immigration is GREAT for the United States of America. It is only illegal immigration that serves to hinder our economy and undermine our national security.

As our economy becomes more global, it is essential that our industries remain competitive worldwide. This requires a labor pool far greater than than is available in this country. If the United States is to remain an economic super power, clearly we must continue to attract immigrants from all socio-economic backgrounds. We need computer programmers, doctors, and manual laborers. We need professors, athletes, youth ministers, and entrepreneurs. I'm fortunate to know Hispanics who work in each one of these fields, and they are part of what makes America great. Likewise, I know professionals from Lithuania, Pakistan, India, Kuwait, China, Viet Nam and Russia. Each one of them is an important cog in the American economy.

Getting back to Hispanic immigration, specifically, there are several other points to be made as to why their presence is a good thing for America. Most importantly, the Hispanic culture tends to place a high value on the family. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data, 21% of white men over 15 have been divorced at least once. Within the Hispanic community, this figure is only 13%. Secondly, there can be no doubting the work ethic of Hispanic immigrants. While I don't subscribe to the "they'll take jobs others won't" theory, I do believe Hispanics work harder and for longer hours than do non-Hispanics. Part of this is driven by the first point - that is the importance of providing for one's family is a key motivator in working long hours in tough conditions. Finally, Hispanics bring a strong Christian influence to our nation.

To summarize, when Hispanics come to this country, they bring with them strong family bonds, hard work, and their Christian faith - three ingredients always welcome in the American melting pot.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Mexican President Slams U.S. Immigration Policy

It what should come as no surprise, President Vicente Fox of Mexico complained bitterly about new U.S. immigration laws yesterday.

Said Fox: "We will present a firm and formal complaint against this policy. We will always defend our countrymen and their human rights." Since when does denying an illegal immigrant a drivers license constitute a violation of their human rights? And does anyone else see the irony in calling illegal immigrants "countrymen"? Wake up Vicente, these people are leaving Mexico like bats out of hell - I don't think the word "countrymen" applies.

Said Mexican Interior Minister Santiago Creel, "Building barriers is not the sign of a good neighbor." Excuse me? We educate your "countrymen", we provide them free healthcare, their children automatically jump to the head of the class for college admissions. On the other hand, our children go to Mexico to play soccer and are greeted with chants of "Osama" and flag burnings. And this guy has the gall to claim we're not good neighbors? Who would he prefer - Syria? Sudan? Russia?

The fundamental problem is that the Fox government is unable to provide basic economic opportunities to their "countrymen". After all, who in their right mind would leave their family, illegally enter another country, cross a desert, only to take a job making minimum wage? Clearly, the general Mexican population is desperate for economic opportunities, and the nation as a whole is desperate for foreign sources of income. In fact, cash receipts from Mexicans working in the United States are Mexico's second greatest source of foreign income, after oil exports. Mexico's immigration rhetoric is a desperate attempt to mask the ineptitude of the government, and ensure Mexican workers in the U.S. keep sending $16 billion annually back to Mexico.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Finally - No Drivers Licenses for Illegals

This week Congress has passed legislation which requires states to prove applicants are in the country legally prior to issuing a driver's license. Although this legislation is long overdue, immigrants rights advocates are in an uproar.

Says Michelle Waslin of the National Council of La Rasa: "This is clearly an anti-immigrant bill that’s going to have a very harmful impact on the Latino community and all immigrant communities. It doesn’t make us one iota safer. Not a single immigrant is going to be returned to his or her home country if they’re denied a driver’s license." Apparently Ms. Waslin believes that the only litmus test of any immigration legislation is whether or not our nation will be safer. How about simply honoring our borders, Ms. Waslin? Does she really believe that, unless we roll out the red carpet to illegal immigrants, that we're being "harmful" to the "Latino Community". The only Latino communities which may be harmed are those comprised of illegal aliens. Most Latinos will never feel the impact of this legislation. As for the Latinos who don't honor our borders, I suspect they will be able to get drivers licenses in their home countries.

Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights states "America is a country of paradoxes: We are a country of immigrants, yet we attack immigrants". Gee, Wade, denying an illegal immigrant a driver's license is "attacking" them? How ironic, for it seems to me that the 10,000,000 illegal immigrants who get a free education, free healthcare, yet pay no taxes in our country, are the ones doing the attacking.

Other critics have stated that there will be fewer drivers with insurance since there will be fewer licensed drivers. Say what? First of all, it's doubtful that a person who fails to honor our immigration laws will honor our auto insurance regulations. Secondly, the entire purpose of the bill is to discourage illegal entry into our country. If life is made more difficult for illegal aliens, fewer will come. It's quite simple. Fewer illegal immigrants + no driver's licenses for illegals = fewer uninsured illegals driving.

Let's hope this is but the first step in securing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

United States Socializing Medicine for Illegal Aliens

In what might be the most ill-conceived government program of all time, federal dollars will be used to pay the health care costs of illegal immigrants.

Liberal lunacy in regards to socializing medicine in the United States is difficult to comprehend, but socializing medicine only for foreigners who have crossed our borders illegally is completely assinine. We can't take care of our own homeless, handicapped, and unemployed....yet we're giving Mexicans free health care? Unemployed US citizens are passed on to collection agencies and their credit ratings are destroyed when they face a medical crisis, but Guatemalans get a free ride?

I can hear the conversation in Chihuahua, Mexico right now:
Juan: "I've got liver problems, and my kidneys are failing".
Jose: "What will you do".
Juan: "I'm saving up to visit a specialist in Mexico City".
Jose: "Forget that - sneak into the United States, and you'll get FREE health care!"
Juan: "What? How could I get free health care in another country?"
Jose: "I don't know - but the US Government set aside over 1 billion dollars just to pay for the medical expenses of people who sneak into their country."
Juan: "Nice knowing you Jose, I'm headed to San Antonio!"

To be clear, I do not advocate turning away emergency patients who happen to be illegal immigrants. But this crisis is threatening to bankrupt many of our nation's hospitals. The state of California alone provides $500 million per year in health care for illegal immigrants! Federal funding is not the answer. We must collect for services, and/or send illegals home for health care. Here are three options which make far more sense:
  • Provide full services, then bill the home countries of those receiving medical care in the way of tariffs. Adjust the tariff each year based on total medical care expenses provided to citizens of that country. This option is compassionate, fiscally responsible, and would put an end to the travel brochures put together by foreign governments which teach citizens how to sneak into the U.S.
  • Report undocumented workers to the INS upon hospital admission, and send the bill home with patients upon discharge. It is well known that the INS can handle only so many cases per year, so make it clear that undocumented workers who do not make minimum payments towards their medical bills go to the top of the list. Illegal aliens send billions of dollars back to Mexico and Central America annually, it is time they used their earnings on services consumed in the United States.
  • Provide only the minimum level of services, and then use the $1 billion to transport the patients to the nearest hospital in their country of origin. Granted, this is the least compassionate of these alternatives, but free basic care and a free ticket home is far more than a US citizen could expect to receive (either at home or abroad).

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Pro Life? Support the ACLJ Today!

The American Center for Law and Justice works in the courts and the legislative arena protecting religious and constitutional freedoms. The ACLJ focuses on issues related to national security, protecting human life, and protecting the American family.

The ACLJ achieved a major Supreme Court victory against the pro-abortion forces in our country two years ago. The court voted 8 - 1 that Federal RICO statutes (originally designed to combat organized crime) could not be used to stop peaceful pro-life protests. But the pro-abortion lobbyists are back on the attack, and a lower federal appeals court has re-opened the case despite the previous ruling of the US Supreme Court.

This fight is another in a long line of legal battles being waged by the ACLJ against the likes of the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and NOW. Promoting a Culture of Life in the United States requires prayer, hard work, and dollars. Join the fray by making a donation to the ACLJ today. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Bush the Bridge Builder

One of the favorite talking points of Bush Administration critics is that the man is alienating the rest of the world, and creating enemies of the United States.

Although this point has been made before on USANow and by many others, Bush has achieved a major foreign policy victory through the bridge he has built with Pakistan, and their president Pervez Musharraf. Despite the fact that Pakistan is a Muslim nation, despite the fact that Pakistan is an enemy of our ally India, and despite the fact that large sections of the country are populated by violently anti-American citizenry, Pakistan has been perhaps our best ally in our fight against al Qaeda.

In yet another policy victory, it has been reported today that our two nations have collaborated in the capture of Abu Faraj Farj al Liby, Al Qaeda's #3 man (if a cave dwelling mass murderer can be called such a thing). al Liby reportedly was involved in the two recent assassination attempts against Musharraf, and was involved in planning attacks against the US homeland.

I'm not only proud of American and Pakistani forces for their continued efforts in tracking down al Qaeda members, I'm grateful for the political sacrifices made by Bush and Musharraf in fighting the war on terror.