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My Brother, My Hero

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John Baird, my brother, my hero.

All of my brothers are my heroes for many reasons. But let me focus at the moment on the oldest of my natural-born brothers, John Baird. There are a number of things that make him a hero: he served our country in a distinguished career of more than twenty years in the Air Force, in duty assignments in a number of hot spots around the world.

But the subject of this post is something he did well before that. The story goes…

In the early 1960’s (1962, I believe), we lived in Columbia, South Carolina. John was a senior in Columbia High School. The city was mired in the racial tension of the ’60s that ran throughout the country, centralized in the South. There were protests all across the South, which focused the nation’s attention on the need to finally fulfill the Constitution’s guarantees of equality to all citizens, without regard to race. In Columbia, as in other cities, there were protests and sit-ins at downtown stores like Woolworth’s and Walgreen’s which had lunch counters serving ‘whites only.’

Columbia High was an urban school, whose campus was only a block or so from the downtown department stores which were a focal point of the historic sit-ins. One day after John got out of school, he walked over to Woolworth’s (or perhaps one of the other department stores) and joined other protesters in the peaceful sit-in at the lunch counter. When he tried to order a burger for himself and one for the man sitting next to him (who wasn’t white), he was run out of the store. He ran halfway home (which was miles from downtown) before those who were chasing him finally gave up and let him go.

I never knew about this incident, until John recounted the story for me when I visited him just a few years ago. Since I was hearing the story for the first time, I asked if he had told our parents about it. He said he hadn’t because he didn’t want them to worry. Well, perhaps he was right to have kept it a secret. Perhaps they would have worried. But knowing what I know of our parents through their actions and the example they set (which is another story for a different day), I’m totally confident that they would have also been very proud of him, if they’d known. I know that they were proud of him anyway, but this would have only added to their reasons to be proud of their number one son.

So John, for your contribution to the public discourse, and for standing up for the change which decency mandated of our society, and for choosing to do the right thing, you are my hero.

Written by jb

March 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Immigration Policy

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I am NOT racist. I am NOT violent. I am in favor of legal immigration policy which has been a major contributing factor in making the United States what it is. But…

demands

Folks, we’ve simply GOT to get our national head around the immigration situation in this country. The demands being placed on our society are simply inconceivable (see photo). These demands would be ridiculous even if they were made by legitimate citizens, much more so when they come from those who have invaded our boarders illegally. Granted, these demands are not made by all who advocate for unrestricted immigration or for amnesty, yet they are the logical conclusion to those policies, and they are actually being made, and expected, by many.

Here are a few facts which should be setting off alarm bells:

Based on 2007 Census data, the Center for Immigration Studies reported:

  • The nation’s immigrant population (both legal and illegal) reached a record of 37.9 million in 2007.
  • Immigrants account for 1 in 8 U.S. residents, the highest level in eighty years. In 1970 it was 1 in 21, in 1980 it was 1 in 16, and in 1990 it was 1 in 13.
  • Overall, nearly 1 in 3 immigrants is an illegal alien. Half of Mexican and Central American immigrants and one-third of South American immigrants are illegal.
  • 31 percent of adult immigrants have not completed high school, compared to 8 percent of natives. Since 2000, immigration increased the number of workers without a high school diploma by 14 percent, and all other workers by 3 percent. This means that our growing immigrant population is comprised primarily of unskilled labor, contrasting with earlier immigrant waves in which immigrants were skilled in ways which enabled them to contribute significantly to the benefit of society as a whole.
  • The proportion of immigrant-headed households which draw on at least one major welfare program is 33 percent, compared to 19 percent for native households. In 2004, immigrant households received nearly three dollars in immediate benefits and services for each dollar in taxes they paid. — http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/upload/sr_14.pdf
  • The poverty rate for immigrants and their U.S.-born children under 18 is 17 percent, nearly 50 percent higher than the rate for natives and their children.
  • 34 percent of immigrants lack health insurance, compared to 13 percent of natives. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 71 percent of the increase in the uninsured since 1989. With government run/subsidized healthcare on the way, the implications of this fact are staggering considering the public (taxpayers) will be on the hook for these related healthcare costs.
  • Immigration accounts for virtually all of the national increase in public school enrollment over the last two decades. In 2007, there were 10.8 million school-age children from immigrant families in the United States.
    http://www.cis.org/articles/2007/back1007.pdf
  •  

    The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that

  • 9 percent of the population of Mexico was living in the United States in 2004.
  • 57 percent of all illegal immigrants in the U.S. are Mexican. Another 24 percent are from other Latin American countries.
  • 55 percent of all Mexicans in the U.S. are here illegally.
  • By 2050, Hispanics will be between 29 percent and 32 percent of the nation’s population.
    http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/44.pdf
    http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/cb08ff-15.pdf
  •  

    In 2008, a study from Manhattan Institute reported that the current level of assimilation of all recent immigrant groups is lower than at any time during the great migration in the early twentieth century. Some ethnic groups assimilated better than others, but Mexicans were the least assimilated overall, and assimilate at the slowest rate.
    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/cr_53.pdf

    The Mexican government promotes the idea of extraterritorial nationalism among its citizens – the concept that Mexican citizens have an indigenous claim to large sections of the southwestern United States. Mexican president Zedillo said (July 23, 1997)

    I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and that Mexican migrants are an important – a very important – part of it. — http://zedillo.presidencia.gob.mx/pages/disc/jul97/23jul97-2.html

    This attitude is shared by Mexican citizens at large. Zogby International reported that 58 percent of Mexicans agree with the statement “The territory of the United States’ southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico.” — Results of poll of U.S., Mexican citizens, United Press International, June 12, 2002 —

    National Council of La Raza (“The Race”) is a popular organization which works tirelessly against the assimilation of Hispanic aliens into American society and for the continuation of illegal Hispanic migration into our country. Here are a few facts about La Raza and its stance on the issues:

  • La Raza views the United States as an irredeemably racist nation.
  • favors racial and ethnic preferences for minorities in the workplace and in higher education.
  • supports open borders and amnesty for ALL illegal aliens.
  • supports the DREAM Act, which is designed to allow illegal aliens to attend college at the reduced tuition rates normally reserved for in-state legal residents.
  • advocates “reform” that would give illegal aliens full access to taxpayer-funded health care services.
  • characterizes any reduction in government assistance to illegal border-crossers as “a disgrace to American values.”
  • supports access to driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.
  • supports voting rights for illegal aliens. ??????
  • opposes the Aviation Transportation and Security Act requiring that all airport baggage screeners be U.S. citizens.
  • opposes the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act, which would empower state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws.
  • opposes the REAL ID Act, which requires that all driver’s license and photo ID applicants be able to verify they are legal residents of the United States, and that the documents they present to prove their identity are genuine.
    http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=473b1006-dea4-4340-b1a2-ac0838de5714
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    Leaders (and supporters) of La Raza have worked their way into the highest levels of our society and our government.

  • Raul Yzaguirre was president and CEO of La Raza for thirty years. Hillary Clinton appointed Yzaguirre as co-chair of her presidential campaign and assigned him to lead her outreach to Hispanics.
  • John McCain was honored by La Raza in 1999. McCain appointed Juan Hernandez as his Hispanic outreach director. In a Nightline interview on ABC News (June 7, 2001), Hernandez, who holds dual citizenship, said,

    I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think ‘Mexico first.’ — Nightline Interview, ABC News, June 7, 2001 —

  • President Obama appointed Cecilia Munoz, senior vice president of La Raza, as director of his Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
  • Given La Raza’s agenda, how can it be in our country’s best interest to be placing their leaders in positions of authority and influence in our society and our government? What does it say about those who make these appointments?

    Unabated immigration from Mexico takes huge amounts of money out of the U.S. economy. In 2006, over 27 percent of Mexico’s labor force was working in the U.S., sending “home” $20 billion in remittances. That equals one-third of the total wage earnings in the formal sector of the Mexican economy and 10 percent of Mexico’s exports.

    How can our country, our society, survive such a continuing stream of aliens who won’t submit to our law (on the proper way to immigrate) who are encouraged above all to avoid assimilation, who make ridiculous demands on the society they are invading (again, refer to the above photo)?

    What do we do about our federal government’s refusal to enforce immigration law, while they continue to push in every way possible to throw our borders wide open and look for new ways to grant amnesty to millions of people who are here illegally?

    We’ve simply GOT to get a handle on this. We’ve got to. To not reign this in is societal suicide.

    Much of the information which inspired me to write this piece came from reading the chapter ‘On Immigration’ from Mark R. Levin’s book Liberty And Tyranny, from observing contemporary news sources, and from simply THINKING.

    Think, people. Think!!!

    Hypocrisy

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    hypocrisy |hiˈpäkrisē|
    noun ( pl. -sies)
    the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.

    Textbook example No. 1
    Former Democrat Presidential Candidate John Kerry, sitting Senator from Massachucetts, gives us a wonderful example of the definition of the word ‘hypocrisy.’ Take a look:

    Senator Kerry, like most good Democrats, is decidedly in favor of popular liberal strategies to increasingly ‘tax the rich’ to make them share even more of the burden off the hard working middle and lower classes. Senator Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz, have inherited great wealth and are definitely in the financial category the Democrats target when they say ‘tax the rich.’ The Kerrys live in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

    Recently the Kerrys took delivery of a new $7 million yacht. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I certainly won’t hold that against them. They’ve inherited great wealth, and it is their right to spend it how ever they see fit. However, it is interesting to note that they took delivery of this new yacht not in Massachusetts where they live, but it was delivered to them and is berthed in Newport, Rhode Island instead. Why, I wonder?

    Although Senator Kerry has not provided an explanation, one very good reason may be that Rhode Island repealed its Boat Sales and Use Tax back in 1993 and has therefore become a haven for luxury yacht owners. Massachusetts, Kerry’s home state, on the other hand (in the effort to force the rich to pay their fair share) imposes a 6.25% Sales Tax and an annual excise tax on yachts. So, by taking delivery and by keeping his new toy berthed in Rhode Island, the good Senator saved approximately $437,500 in sales tax and an annual excise tax of around $70,000.

    I don’t hold it against Senator Kerry for doing the logical thing and using existing statutes in an effort to save some of his inherrited-through-marriage money by avoiding taxes. That’s only prudent. But I definitely will remember this the next time I hear of him or one of his fellow ‘tax the rich!’ Democrats (like Vice President Biden) make the claim that ‘paying more taxes is patriotic,’ or that we need to soak the rich to make them pay their fair share.

    In a statement issued by Senator Kerry after this story broke in the news, he claims that the yacht is currently in Rhode Island only ‘for repairs.’ But if that is true, then why does it have its home port of ‘Newport’ painted on it? Humm…

    And further, why did the Senator, who is on the record supporting policies which would punish companies who outsource jobs to overseas locations, order his luxury yacht from a company which built it in New Zealand instead of from a company employing American workers?

    Textbook example No. 2
    In his award winning prophesy of environmental gloom and doom, Al Gore strongly emphasized as ‘undisputed’ the ‘fact’ that ocean levels are on the rise, and will eventually reclaim huge land masses which are now ocean front lands. Then why, in April this year, did he spend nearly $9 million of his hard earned money on an ocean front villa in Southern California?

    Doesn’t seem very logical, does it? I’m just sayin’ …

    Written by jb

    July 29, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Promises Shomises

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    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall anything in the Health Care Bill about the individual mandate (tax) being limited only to those who earn more than $250K per year.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/health/policy/18health.html?_r=1&ref=politics

    Same here. While this is still just a legislative proposal, don’t lots of peeps making less than $250K hold shares in funds which profit by engaging in currency trading?
    http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/109869-currency-tax-a-way-to-invest-in-our-future-rep-stark

    And here, on Cap and Trade. Anyone living in the US who consumes ‘energy’ or products which require energy use in their creation will ‘necessarily‘ see tremendous increases in the cost of everything. There will be no escaping these ‘new tax increases’ even if you make less than $250K.
    http://www.americansolutions.com/energytax/2010/07/punishing-you-for-bps-spill.php

    I’m so sick of politics. And especially tired of political promises. Why don’t we hold politicians responsible for what they promise? Those who continue to allow them to skate on their bold promises have essentially taken that over-used Clinton era mantra and modified it to “it’s only about politics.” Come on, folks: Get your heads out of the sand…

    Written by jb

    July 21, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Repost: Degeneration of Democracy

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    Repost of an insightful article by Thomas Sowell, here:
    http://tinyurl.com/2acuqem

    When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics. Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

    “Useful idiots” was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

    Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive. In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

    The president’s poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.

    Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.

    And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP’s oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated. But our government is supposed to be “a government of laws and not of men.” If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion– or $50 billion or $100 billion– then so be it.

    But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without “due process of law.” Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.

    With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

    If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don’t believe in Constitutional government. And, without Constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a “crisis”– which, as the president’s chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to “go to waste” as an opportunity to expand the government’s power.

    That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.

    When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country’s wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard’s restrictions on the printing of money.

    At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.” That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people– indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

    If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

    The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP’s money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed “czars” controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.

    Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power– versus the rule of law and the preservation of freedom– are the “useful idiots” of our time. But useful to whom?

    Less Talkin’, More Kickin’

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    The Gulf oil spill tragedy. Government’s role in correcting it. The Administration’s approach so far has been totally bass-ackwards. Instead of looking for who to blame, “whose ass to kick,” FIRST let’s get this tragedy cleaned up, protect the People from the disaster that is unfolding upon us. That is government’s first responsibility. Then once that has been accomplished, there will be plenty of time to point fingers and hold responsible parties accountable. Instead, this Administration is engaging in fostering an ‘us against them’ mentality which is totally counter productive toward the goal of protecting the public and cleaning up the mess, and it renders efforts to combat the incredible tragedy completely ineffective.

    Below is a reprint of Sara Palin’s post on the issue. Regardless of what you may think of her, I ask you to put politics aside for a few minutes and simply READ what she has to say. If it’s possible for you to actually consider what she’s saying without letting politics get in the way, I think you’ll have to realize that this is just Common Sense 101.

    50 days in, and we’ve just learned another shocking revelation concerning the Obama administration’s response to the Gulf oil spill. In an interview aired this morning, President Obama admitted that he hasn’t met with or spoken directly to BP’s CEO Tony Hayward. His reasoning: “Because my experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he’s gonna say all the right things to me. I’m not interested in words. I’m interested in actions.”

    First, to the “informed and enlightened” mainstream media: in all the discussions you’ve had with the White House about the spill, did it not occur to you before today to ask how the CEO-to-CEO level discussions were progressing to remedy this tragedy? You never cease to amaze. (Kind of reminds us of the months on end when you never bothered to ask if the President was meeting with General McChrystal to talk about our strategy in Afghanistan.)

    Second, to fellow baffled Americans: this revelation is further proof that it bodes well to have some sort of executive experience before occupying the Oval Office (as if the painfully slow response to the oil spill, confusion of duties, finger-pointing, lack of preparedness, and inability to grant local government simple requests weren’t proof enough). The current administration may be unaware that it’s the President’s duty, meeting on a CEO-to-CEO level with Hayward, to verify what BP reports. In an interview a few weeks ago with Greta Van Susteren, I noted that based on my experience working with oil execs as an oil regulator and then as a Governor, you must verify what the oil companies claim – because their perception of circumstances and situations dealing with public resources and public trust is not necessarily shared by those who own America’s public resources and trust. I was about run out of town in Alaska for what critics decried at the time as my “playing hardball with Big Oil,” and those same adversaries (both shortsighted Repubs and Dems) continue to this day to try to discredit my administration’s efforts in holding Big Oil accountable to operate ethically and responsibly.

    Mr. President: with all due respect, you have to get involved, sir. The priorities and timeline of an oil company are not the same as the public’s. You cannot outsource the cleanup and the responsibility and the trust to BP and expect that the legitimate interests of Americans adversely affected by this spill will somehow be met.

    White House: have you read this morning’s Washington Post? Not to pile it on BP, but there’s an extensive report chronicling the company’s troubling history:

    “BP has had more high-profile accidents than any other company in recent years. And now, with the disaster in the gulf, independent experts say the pervasiveness of the company’s problems, in multiple locales and different types of facilities, is striking.

    ‘They are a recurring environmental criminal and they do not follow U.S. health safety and environmental policy,’ said Jeanne Pascal, a former EPA lawyer who led its BP investigations.”

    And yet just 10 days prior to the explosion, the Obama administration’s regulators gave the oil rig a pass, and last year the Obama administration granted BP a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) exemption for its drilling operation.

    These decisions and the resulting spill have shaken the public’s confidence in the ability to safely drill. Unless government appropriately regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable, the public will not trust them to drill, baby, drill. And we must! Or we will be even more beholden to, and controlled by, dangerous foreign regimes that supply much of our energy. This has been a constant refrain from me. As Governor of Alaska, I did everything in my power to hold oil companies accountable in order to prove to the federal government and to the nation that Alaska could be trusted to further develop energy rich land like ANWR and NPR-A. I hired conscientious Democrats and Republicans (because this sure shouldn’t be a partisan issue) to provide me with the best advice on how we could deal with what was a corrupt system of some lawmakers and administrators who were hesitant to play hardball with some in the oil field business. (Remember the Alaska lawmakers, public decision-makers, and business executives who ended up going to jail as a result of the FBI’s investigations of oily corruption.)

    As the aforementioned article notes, BP’s operation in Alaska would hurt our state and waste public resources if allowed to continue. That’s why my administration created the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) when we saw proof of improper maintenance of oil infrastructure in our state. We had to verify. And that’s why we instituted new oversight and held BP and other oil companies financially accountable for poor maintenance practices. We knew we could partner with them to develop resources without pussyfooting around with them. As a CEO, it was my job to look out for the interests of Alaskans with the same intensity and action as the oil company CEOs looked out for the interests of their shareholders.

    I learned firsthand the way these companies operate when I served as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC). I ended up resigning in protest because my bosses (the Governor and his chief of staff at the time) wouldn’t support efforts to clean up the corruption involving improper conflicts of interest with energy companies that the state was supposed to be watching. (I wrote about this valuable learning experience in my book, “Going Rogue”.) I felt guilty taking home a big paycheck while being reduced to sitting on my thumbs – essentially rendered ineffective as a supervisor of a regulatory agency in charge of nearly 20% of the U.S. domestic supply of energy.

    My experience (though, granted, I got the message loud and clear during the campaign that my executive experience managing the fastest growing community in the state, and then running the largest state in the union, was nothing compared to the experiences of a community organizer) showed me how government officials and oil execs could scratch each others’ backs to the detriment of the public, and it made me ill. I ran for Governor to fight such practices. So, as a former chief executive, I humbly offer this advice to the President: you must verify. That means you must meet with Hayward. Demand answers.

    In the interview today, the President said: “I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

    Please, sir, for the sake of the Gulf residents, reach out to experts who have experience holding oil companies accountable. I suggested a few weeks ago that you start with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, led by Commissioner Tom Irwin. Having worked with Tom and his DNR and AGIA team led by Marty Rutherford, I can vouch for their integrity and expertise in dealing with Big Oil and overseeing its developments. We’ve all lived and worked through the Exxon-Valdez spill. They can help you. Give them a call. Or, what the heck, give me a call.

    And, finally, Mr. President, please do not punish the American public with any new energy tax in response to this tragedy. Just because BP and federal regulators screwed up that doesn’t mean the rest of us should get punished with higher taxes at the pump and attached to everything petroleum products touch.

    – Sarah Palin

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    Written by jb

    June 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Universal Sign of Distress

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    March 23, 2010

    Written by jb

    March 23, 2010 at 10:49 pm