Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fence Me In. For The Love Of Pete, Fence Me In.


What is 37,000 about?.  Well.... it's about
* 4,000 more than the number of US casualties in the ENTIRE Korean War.
* Twice the population of the county I live in.
* Six times the number of US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.
* 2,000 more than the student populations of Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Occidental College, and the University of Hawaii. Combined.
* The number of deaths along the U.S. / Mexico border in the last 4 years.

First, I want to make it clear that this piece is NOT an attack on ANY man, woman, or child, Hispanic or otherwise. It is solely directed at POLICY, not people.  I understand the desire and promise of a better life and better opportunities for one's family in America.  I have a brother-in-law from Mexico City & Cancun.  He now lives in Georgia.  Legally.  And the process took FOREVVVVER.  So I understand the lure of crossing the border illegally.  I do.  But that doesn't make it okay.

For years now, we have been overly lenient & lax on border security, and as the results of our laziness become worse and worse year after year, we continue to fail in protecting our border and we refuse to see it as a problem of the same magnitude as the other wars we are currently fighting overseas. Our leaders couldn't care less about the number of undocumented, illegal immigrants entering the U.S. every day.  Mind you, none of us actual citizens can ENTER or LEAVE the country without more than one form of identification, but the millions jumping the border? No prob.

President Obama spoke last week in El Paso, Texas, regarding the border, its security, and how America's immigrant issue should be addressed. He pointed out plenty of immigrants who have made HUGE contributions to not only America, but the world, and our way of living.  But here's the thing.... he failed to point out that those immigrants came to America LEGALLY.  While he doesn't see any distinction between Ellis Island and jumping the Rio Grande, I do.  His speech was rife with sarcasm towards those who believe border security is a serious problem for America, to the extent that he joked about building a moat across the border and stocking it with alligators....... less than 24 hours later, two border patrol agents were killed while chasing a group of illegal immigrants along a portion of the border that is greatly lacking in security.  An upcoming blog will break down his speech in detail and highlight numerous mistakes he made in the statistics he presented. I say "mistakes" because I don't want to say "lies". Most of those stats are addressed here, too.

"As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security." Barack Obama, April 13, 2012

Really? Is that why his trip to El Paso last week was his FIRST visit to the border since he was elected?  Is that why when Arizona proposed a plan to build a secure border fence itself with its own funds, the White House intervened twice and stopped it?  Is that why not one governor from a U.S. border state was allowed to attend President Obama's closed-door meeting regarding the border a few weeks ago (But AFL-CIO big boss Richard Trumka was there... Just sayin'.)? 

We're fighting a war halfway around the world in Iraq.... for someone else.
We're fighting a war halfway around the world in Afghanistan.... for someone else.
We're fighting a war halfway around the world in Libya.... for someone else.
We're NOT fighting a war that is raging on our own soil.... for ourselves. Why is that?

Why are we ignoring the battle that's taking place in our own backyard and on our own soil? There is a MAJOR war going on along the border and we have made a conscious decision to turn a blind eye...  to the tune of thousands upon thousands of lives lost.  We refuse to build a border fence. We refuse to deploy the number of troops (National Guardsmen) necessary to protect dangerous spots along the border (this year 12,000 have been pulled from the Arizona border, despite Gov. Jan Brewer's request for an extension of their services).  We refuse to use ALREADY ALLOCATED funds to increase security (we actually cut Homeland Security funding for border security by $1.4Billion).  We refuse to deport illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes in America, including MURDER. Yeah... I said murder.

You don't think we're in a war on the border?  Maybe this will change your mind.

*  Just in the last 4 years, 37,000 people have been KILLED along the US / Mexico border, on both sides (Reuters).   30,913 of the 37,000 deaths were execution-style murders, according to a Mexican government database. Mass graves are discovered more and more frequently, containing HUNDREDS of bodies of both Americans and Mexicans.

*  In that same amount of time, the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan, where we're FIGHTING A WAR, is 8,80037,000 civilians dead here...8,800 civilians dead there.

33,686 people were killed in the Korean War. The entire Korean War.

15,273 of those 35,000 murders occurred in 2010. 

* In 2009, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) RELEASED, as in set free, not deported, 890 illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes including rape and murder, some of them repeat offenders, onto American soil and made no effort to document their names, fingerprints, nor record in any way their identities or criminal records. According to the Dept. of Homeland Security Inspector General, many of these illegals were considered the "most egregious criminal aliens who pose a significant public safety risk". we set them free.  To kill again. (The release was ordered by ICE Chief Jim Moran under President Obama's instruction.)

*  The murder rate in Ciudad Juarez, just over the border, increased 40% from 163 in Feb. 2010 to 229 in Feb. 2011.  One month. 229 people. Dead. Including Americans.

*  According to the US State Dept, 111 Americans were killed last year in Ciudad Juarez.  That's just the number of deaths that were reported; many deaths go unreported each year.

*  Drug cartel wars have claimed the lives of 6,000 people in Ciudad Juarez in just the last two years.

*  May 12, 2011: 2 Border Patrol Agents, Hector Clark & Eduardo Rojas, killed while pursuing a group of illegal immigrants in Arizona. 
*  May 9, 2011: 13 killed on the U.S. side of the border in Falcon Lake, TX (about 50 miles from the border).
*  April 5, 2011:  2 Americans: Kevin Romero, 28, and Sergio Salcido, 25, murdered while waiting to cross the border.
*  April 2011:  177 bodies found in a mass grave; deaths attributed to Zeta drug cartel.
*  March 7, 2011: 18 people killed in Abasolo, Mex. 150 miles south of McAllen, TX.
*  Feb 28, 2011:  Associated Press reported at least 28 killed along US / Mexico border over the weekend.

*  Feb 15, 2011:  1 killed, 1 injured.. ICE Agent Jaime Zapata, 32, killed; Agent Victor Avila injured in San Louis Potosi shooting.
*  Dec 14, 2010:  1 killed: Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, 40, murdered near Arizona border.
Should I go on?   

*  US Dept. of Justice has deemed Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations as the greatest drug trafficking threat to the US, to the tune of TENS OF BILLIONS of dollars a year in drug, weapons, and related trade.

*  Reporters Without Borders reported that in 2010, more journalists were killed in Mexico than in any other country in the world.

There's the humanitarian angle...
Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of migrants die trying to cross the border each year by drowning, heat stroke, dehydration, hypothermia, etc. Just TODAY, 513 migrants were discovered, packed like sardines in two semi trucks, trying to cross the border. Each had paid $7,000 for the opportunity to jump the border in conditions so poor that officials believe a number of them would have died if kept in the truck trailers much longer. Some more numbers for you:
417 migrants died while trying to cross the border in 2009
500+ migrants died in 2005.
1,954 migrants died between 1998-2004.... That's just on the American side.
1,452 migrants died on the Mexican side of the border while trying to cross in a 4 year period of time, according to the Mexican Secretariat for Foreign Affairs.
And those numbers are of bodies found; they don't include the hundreds, maybe thousands, of those never discovered.

We're willing to risk American lives and spend American dollars in the name of a humanitarian crisis in Libya, but we aren't willing to address the one that exists on our very soil???? THAT'S who we want to be?

There's the economic angle....
Considering the current condition of our economy and the debate over federal funding and spending, I give you a 2002 report by the Center for Immigration Studies: Households headed by illegal aliens imposed more than $26.3 billion in costs on the federal government in 2002 and paid only $16 billion in taxes (okay, well at least that part pleases me), creating a net fiscal deficit of almost $10.4 billion, or $2,700 per illegal household.
And that was 2002.... Nine years ago. Factor in inflation and how drastically the prices of EVERYTHING have increased, and yeah...

Rewind to the part about the number of convicted criminal illegals who are released from prisons onto US soil.... before they're released, while they're in custody, our tax dollars are paying for them to be there.  And those we actually DO deport, we pay for their incarceration, too.  The US deported 393,000 illegal immigrants in 2010 at the low, low price of $12,500 per person. That's almost FIVE BILLION DOLLARS. If we deported the currently estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.... almost $138 BILLION.  Can we afford to deport every illegal immigrant in the US? No. Can we strengthen border security to decrease the number of illegals coming into the US and committing crimes? We have to. Otherwise, we continue to spend billions and billions of hard earned American taxpayer dollars to house them in US prisons. According to the GAO (Government Accountability Office), it cost America $1,149,000,000 (billion) to house criminal aliens in 2009. Not only do tax dollars pay for incarceration, tax dollars also pay for any and all costs pertaining to prosecuting criminal illegals.
Want to know what it actually costs per inmate per year to house some of these criminal aliens?
*California: $34,448
*New York: $29,523
*Florida: $14,828
*Arizona: $14,093
*Texas: $12,168
(66% of Americans make less than $45,000 per year.)

.......We're fighting tooth and nail over the lack of funds available for programs that benefit LEGAL American citizens like Medicare, but not a single person is discussing the MULTIPLE BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars we spend incarcerating and deporting illegal immigrants???  At a time we're fighting over how to care for our own, we're ignoring the amount of money we spend on caring for someone else's.

Incarceration might be the lamest expense Americans suffer because of the government's blase' attitude towards illegal immigrants, but it certainly isn't the only way tax payers are footing the bill for them.  Healthcare...Medicaid....Social Security...WIC....HUD housing... All those programs that are part of the current funding debate? Maybe if we limited those programs to LEGAL US citizens, there would be no need to debate funding cuts or increases.... Just a suggestion.  Maybe these numbers will make it a little more personal for you:

$1,117 ... The average amount a LEGAL US CITIZEN paid in taxes in 2010 to pay for services received by ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
$52 BILLION ... What American taxpayers spent on educating children of illegal immigrants in 2010.
51% of illegal households receive at least one form of tax funded government assistance.  This translates roughly to about 1.4 MILLION households. NOT people; households.
28% of illegal households receive TWO OR MORE forms of tax funded government assistance.

Not only do illegals benefit from US taxpayer funded programs, they get to decide which politicians that may or may not support those programs are elected. Colorado recently discovered that over 12,000 ILLEGAL immigrants are registered to vote in the state. 5,000 of them voted in the 2010 election in which the Senate seat was narrowly won.  By less than 5,000 votes.  Hmm....that's pretty interesting, no?  And if they have *discovered* 12,000, how many more might there be?  Another perk for illegals comes with the Obama-praised DREAM Act that (among other things) grants in-state tuition for universities in several states for illegal immigrants.... not for American citizens born in AMERICA, but for illegal immigrants.

And then there's al-Qaeda.....along with other terrorist organizations.
I'm hoping you have read enough by this point to consider the importance of contacting your elected representatives to stress concern over border security.  If not, maybe this will do it:  DOZENS or more of Iraqi nationals are apprehended every year trying to illegally enter the U.S. through Mexico; some of whom have admitted belonging to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.  In particular, an apprehended Hezbollah fundraiser acquired a Mexican visa through the consulate in Lebanon, entered Mexico legally, and tried to enter the U.S. stuffed in the trunk of a car. According to US Representative Silvestre Reyes (Texas), America has intelligence regarding al-Qaeda using Latin America as a way of illegally entering America. And just last month, an I.E.D. (Improvised Explosive Device) was discovered along Hwy 77 in BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS. TEXAS!!! Not Baghdad. Texas.  On May 5th of this year, a tunnel was found on the Arizona / Mexico border (Surprise! The part that is least guarded!) that measured 15 feet deep and 250 feet long, complete with electricity, running water, and a ventilation system. Hmm........  Wonder if there's a "All Terrorists & Cartels Welcome!" sign at the Arizona exit point.

Like I said, by no means am I attacking individuals.  Well.... maybe the criminal ones.  I absolutely understand the desperation that drives people to risk their lives crossing the border illegally. The 513 people discovered yesterday; what they were willing to endure to get here breaks my heart. The conditions they suffered were horrendous.  But would they have been subjected to such if we had stricter border security and they knew it was harder to cross the border into America illegally?  Who knows...

Don't get me wrong, I am honored that my country is one in which others seek refuge; a better life; bigger opportunities.  And I think it's GREAT that others can escape here from poor conditions in their own countries. If we had the means, I would say bring it on!  Let's take care of every one from every corner. But we're doing it now when we don't have the means. And we're stepping on our own to take care of others. Our economy is in the tank. Unemployment is up for the 5th week in a row. Gas continues to climb. Food prices are soaring. The dollar is under massive strain... And every American feels it. How long can we sacrifice our own to give to others?

By the way, guess what Mexico is currently doing on its southern border.....
Building a fence to keep out the Guatemalans. Huh... how 'bout that?

Monday, May 9, 2011

I Totally Just Fixed Medicare. Winning!

"Why should the federal government save money on the backs of seniors at the same time that they are giving tax breaks to millionaires, giving subsidies to Big Oil, and tax cuts to companies that send jobs overseas?" ~Nancy Pelosi, speaking to seniors in Orlando, FL, April 20, 2011.

Problem solved! Thanks, me.

Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats in Congress are flagging down every man, woman, and child with a video camera for the chance to warn America that left to the Republicans, all seniors will STARVE and DIE. STARVE and DIE. Well...unless they eat cat food.
Really, Nancy? Really???

Okay, first I'd like to point out that the Paul Ryan / Republican budget plan DOES NOT change Medicare funding for current recipients, nor for any who qualify FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS. The ONLY cuts in the Ryan plan are the ones the DEMOCRATS already outlined in Obamacare.
But still... Republicans want to kill seniors. Really? Has anyone noticed the average age of Republicans in Congress?? Pretty sure they're not into killing seniors. Just sayin'.

Here's the thing. The average net worth of members of the US House in 2009 was about $4,000,000.  The average net worth of members of the US Senate in 2009 was almost $14,000,000. Democrats play the role of representing the "little man" while painting a picture of greedy Republicans as only looking out for their own... the wealthy, greedy, Wall-Street CEOs and banker types. But here's the thing. 7 of the 10 wealthiest members of Congress are NOT Republicans. They're Democrats. Huh...weird.
Here's a sampling of some 2010 net worth numbers, though these aren't all necessarily in the top 10:

Dianne Feinstein (D-Cali): $108,100,000.00
John Kerry (D-Mass): $294,900,000.00
Darrell Issa (R-Cali): $451,100,000.00
Mark Warner (D-VA): $283,100,000.00
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): $58,000,000.00

And so on and so on and so on, but frankly, the more names & numbers I give you, the sicker I become.  

55 out of 261 members of Congress have an average wealth of $10 million or more. Of those 55, 8 have an average wealth of $100 million or more.

Now, about that health insurance the Republicans want to strip from seniors.....
Members of Congress have the option of choosing from more than 10 different plans and providers; one of the more popular ones being a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan that costs $1,120.47 per month.  To their credit, members do pay a portion of their monthly premium. Up to 25% of it, to be precise. The remaining 72-75% of it however, is paid for by the government a la American taxpayer (a.k.a. YOU. ME.) dollars. Hey, guess who pays taxes that help fund Congress health insurance plans......  Seniors. The same Seniors for whom the Dems show soooooo much concern and distress. Awesome.

In contrast to the plush Congress plans, Medicare is Medicare. There is no option of choosing from more than 10 plans and providers. You get what you get. You take what they give you or you don't take Medicare.  And let me tell ya.... it ain't pretty.  What is covered under Medicare, when compared to what is covered under the "Cadillac" plans our federal representatives and employees enjoy, is peanuts. And not even delicious, honey-roasted peanuts. More like the blah blah unsalted peanuts you buy for a quarter to feed elephants at the zoo. As is the case in Congress plans, the government (a.k.a. our tax dollars) pays for 75% of the monthly premium and the remaining 25% is taken out of the recipient's monthly Social Security check.

So here's what I'm thinking. Virtually every Democrat member of Congress has said (repeatedly.... over. and over. and over. and ovvvver.) it's time the rich in this country start paying their "fair share" stop "sitting around, doing nothing" as President Obama put it in a recent speech. Well, Misters and Missuses Congresspeeps, bring it. Put your money where your mouth is.  Based on the net worth of virtually every one of you, YOU ARE the "rich" to whom you refer. Clearly, you can all afford to pay for your own health insurance. And since you care so much for the seniors of America who will soon be living off of cat food if they're in fact still living at all and haven't starved to death, surely you're all willing (if not ecstatic) to re-allocate the tax dollars that pay for your health insurance to Medicare instead. Especially given that a month's premium for one of your plans would pay a month's premium for two, three, maybe even four Medicare recipients.  

Remember when President Obama said we'd all have to make sacrifices?  What better sacrifice than one that isn't really even a sacrifice to begin with?  If it's time for the wealthy to step up and pay their fair share, who better to lead by example than the ones who are telling the wealthy to step up in the first place?

Old people eating cat food...... Losing. Congress actually practicing what they preach for once....... Winning! (Sorry...I'm really starting to miss Charlie Sheen's nuggets of gold.)
So c'mon. Whatdaya say? Step up? Fair share? Everybody in? Awesome.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Photos: To Show Or Not To Show..... THAT Is The Question (A Pretty Simple One, If You Ask Me)

Here's the thing.... I don't need to see an actual photo of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross to know He died and rose again.  So I don't care whether or not I see a picture of (I refuse to use his name)'s brain matter running down his face to prove he is dead.  As far advanced as photo editing is today, I fear I may wonder if the photo is valid. And that saddens me. My faith is in God, and in my government, whose members took an oath to speak and spread the truth.... So I choose to believe them. However, I didn't lose a loved one on 9/11. Or in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya, Nairobi, Tanzania, and Dar es Salaam. Or to any other terrorist action carried out by al-Qaeda.
Those who did are singing a different tune. And rightfully so. So does the White House, out of respect, owe it to the families whose loved ones were brutally attacked and murdered at the hand and command of this man to show them proof that he is dead?  Is simply saying he's dead enough for them?  And not just those families, but the whole nation..... we may not all have lost people that day, but we ALL lost a part of our country, a part of our security, and a part of ourselves, that September day.  For those who need to see it, is it really too much to ask? Especially given that the story of how the operation went down has changed multiple times in the last two days...
I'm not President Obama. I'm not Leon Panetta. I'm not Hillary Clinton. And I don't envy the position they and others are in right now. I fully respect the gravity of the situation and the decisions that come with it, and I can't say with any certainty what I would do were I in their shoes right now.
That being said...... here's the thing. We're being given two separate, understandable reasons for why the photos will not be released. *Pause for dramatic effect.*  But are the reasons really valid? Let me break it down.

Reason # 1. The photos are too gruesome:
Really? I mean...the dude was shot in the face. I think we get that. The thought that President Obama would like to spare the American people the damage of being subjected to a gnarly, gruesome image is sweet and all, but when we all KNOW and expect a photo of a gunshot wound to the face to be less than pleasant and ask / demand to see it anyway, what's the problem? 
*We're talking about people who buried PARTS, not bodies, of their loved ones who were killed on 9/11, if they were lucky. IF THEY WERE LUCKY. Most of them have lived 10 years without complete closure because not even a bone, a tooth, a hair of their loved ones were recovered to be buried.
*We watched, some with their own eyes and some on live TV, people JUMPING TO THEIR DEATHS from the towers of the World Trade Center because they didn't want to burn to death.  We saw bodies strewn everywhere, covered in ash, dismembered, beheaded on the streets of New York. We watched towers fall with THOUSANDS of people trapped inside, knowing none would survive.
*We see images everyday of bloodied, dismembered, and dead soldiers and civilians in the Middle East.
*We saw gruesome images of Sadaam Hussein's sons after they were killed.
*We saw Sadaam Hussein's limp, dead body after he was hanged.
*Should I even mention the movies & video games the entertainment industry gives us these days???
Clearly, gruesome images are not a rare sight for us.... So why not?  Well, apparently because:

Reason #2. We don't want to inflame and anger the Muslim world.
Again.... REALLY??? Okay, for starters, any peaceful, loving Muslim that we're concerned about offending WON'T be offended by a picture of a man who distorted their religion, used it for evil, and changed the world's view of it.  Period.  I'm not saying that as a Muslim, it's just a hunch (What is a hunch, anyway? Note to self: Look up origin of "hunch".). Now, if the concern is over inciting radical Jihadist Muslims like al-Qaeda, Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, etc.... ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW??? Yeah, let's look at that:
*We watched al-Qaeda slit American journalist Daniel Pearl's throat and then decapitate him ON A VIDEO THAT THEY RELEASED ON THE INTERNET.
*We're talking about a group of people whose MISSION IN LIFE is to kill us, destroy our country, and eradicate the world of every Christian, Jew, man, woman, and child who doesn't follow their screwed up, hateful form of religion. So, frankly I don't care if a photograph offends them. And the White House shouldn't, either.  What courtesy have they ever extended us by NOT showing gruesome images of the thousands they have brutally murdered???
*We're talking about a group of people who parade the dead, dismembered bodies of their victims in the streets in celebration; who proudly post pictures in their media and on the internet of slain Americans, Christians, and Jews. 
*We're talking about a group of people who use women and children as human shields. Who use children as "martyrs" to carry out suicide bombings. Who shot a missile into an Israeli school bus full of children last month..... Really??
Radical Islam is Radical Islam. Guess what. They're already angry. They already hate us. They already want to kill us. They already wage war against us. They already hijack our planes. They already blow up our embassies. They already kill THOUSANDS of our soldiers. They already bomb buildings, trains and subway stations. They already spread their message of hate for us "infidels" and proclaim their intent to destroy us. SO SHOW THEM THE FREAKIN' PICTURE!!!
Sorry, I got excited. But really... show them that we aren't scared. Show them that we can win. Show them that THEY should be afraid. Show them OUR victory!
Look, I can understand not publishing the photos in every newspaper, magazine, publication, or on every website in every country in the world. Sure. But these photos are a reeeeeeeeally big deal to the families of a LOT of 9/11 victims. Why not invite them to the White House or some other location, show them the proof their hearts yearn to see, have a brief memorial for those who died at the hands of this evil man, and give them the closure that they need and deserve? 
It's the right thing to do... and America hasn't done a lot of that lately.
Please, Mr. President. Please. Please hear their cries. Give them what they need. Please do the right thing.