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Monday, March 28, 2016

Media Bias

The silence of the standard media on Hilary Clinton's impending interview with the FBI is deafening. That is all. Once again, please read more widely than news sites biased in the same direction. You miss too much that is bad of your political preferences, and good about those opposed to your political preferences.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Jobs

These are the Drudge headlines this morning. That basically says all that needs to be said the between-the-line "Democrats are bad for the economy because they make jobs so hard to find that people stop looking." And fewer working people, higher tax rates (courtesy of Obamacare), and more entitlements? We're headed back to recession territory.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Trump's Appeal?

*Note: I'm not asking for name-calling or any other reprehensible language in the comments. Such will not be approved. Civil discourse, on the other hand, with polite disagreement or questions, is welcome.*
I'm seeing so much of, "how could anyone ever vote for Trump?" out there that I thought I'd share what I learned. Never fear: I didn't vote for him (I'm in NH), and couldn't understand his appeal myself beyond the whole "never stepped foot in Washington" bit.
I can certainly understand that sentiment. Washington is a bubble of prosperity in an ailing America except for a few havens. Driving through it from elsewhere presents a stark contrast. Government expands at the expense of the people who fund it.
Anyway, I did some reading and found that while Trump supporters come from all over the map in terms of demographics, he's doing best with the under-educated and lower middle class. Know why that is? Besides the fact that he talks more like normal people than the average politician and has a celebrity status?
It's because they've been the hardest hit economically, lost the most jobs, lost jobs to illegal immigrants, are now underemployed, have to pay the Obamacare fines because they aren't eligible for Medicaid, etc. It's important to note that the number of people out of the labor force is at a record high.
The unemployment rate dropped only because so many people gave up looking for work that they're not counted as part of the labor force. Teenagers can't find work. Homeless rates are super high nowadays too, not that they get much attention even though they're far higher than they were in Bush's time.
Clearly, the Democrats have left these folks behind, and that's why there are also quite a few Trump Democrats out there. His anger appeals to those angry with the Establishment of both parties. Children aren't growing up to be better off than their parents anymore.
It seems that once Trump has someone's support, they no longer listen to anyone suggesting he's not a fit candidate for POTUS despite his flip-flops, funding of the Establishment politicians in both parties, his unclear record as to whether he'll do anything he says he'll do if elected, and history of flat-out lying about other candidates whenever anyone asks him a question of substance.
That's too bad, but it's hardly surprising because there are a heck of a lot of Americans who support their chosen politicians blindly.
Also, I don't mind telling you that I voted for Cruz. Hillary has baggage so heavy I don't think she could win (and deservedly so, with that baggage, which includes Wall Street). Bernie is a socialist and the history of socialist countries isn't one of economic prosperity.
Marco Rubio doesn't have a great track record of doing what he'll say he'll do and lies about Cruz like Trump does (I've checked that they're lies, never fear). Carson's a good person, but doesn't show common sense. The others are out now anyway except for Kasich and he doesn't have prayer. Only Cruz is (mostly) honest, clearly supports the Constitution, is running a smart campaign from a solid and clear position, and I truly think he could win.
Now. I realize there are a great many of you out there who mightily disagree with my sentiments, and that's fine. What's not fine is being closed-minded to the flaws of your chosen candidate to the point of irrationally shouting names and flinging hate-speech at anyone who dares to disagree. That doesn't solve any problems, and it makes bad feelings worse.
To combat this uninformed state of affairs, I strongly recommend reading (or listening to) both liberal and conservative points of view so you can be aware of strengths ignored by one side and weaknesses ignored by the other, and vice versa. I recommend doing so for more than election years. We'll all be the more informed for it, and hopefully the more civil to each other as well. Change begins with us, not with government.'

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Election Day in NH!

I love elections, but I'm so nervous!

Not for the Dem race: Sanders should beat Hillary handily here in New Hampshire. Though come to think of it, Hillary may be the easier candidate to beat in the national election because of her shady past earning millions from giving speeches, Benghazi, the email scandal, and being in with Wall Street.

No, my nervousness is all tied to the GOP race today. Will the people of NH be smart enough to see through Trump's bullying ways and vote for someone else? Will they see his anger as matching their own in the problems we face as Americans or as (I think it) all a show to get him a position of political power? Will they be turned off by the inter-party name-calling? I surely hope so. He talks a good game but I strongly suspect that's all it is. I have absolutely no trust in him doing what he says he would do as president, and he shows no self-control or self-restraint as I would expect from a president of the United States.

I have grounds for hope. I learned yesterday that delegates get split up by percentage for candidates that get over 10% of the vote, and there are certainly plenty of candidates in the polling appearing to earn more than 10% of the vote. Phew! Trump can't get them all.

Even more hopeful, the Cruz campaign released a video today indicating that they think they will exceed everyone's expectations. I'd be thrilled!

For the record, I still admire Carson as a good man, but I couldn't think him presidential about the time that winter hit. His whinyness about "Carsongate" only solidified that opinion. He still exceeded his Iowa voting expectations with "Carsongate", and it's not like Iowans stepped forward angered that they would have voted for Carson over Cruz (credit to Rush Limbaugh for pointing that out).

I proudly voted for Cruz today. I've been leaning towards him since early January but I made up my mind with his solid debate performance Saturday night. Perhaps I'm not as last-minute of a decider as the average New Hampshire voter.

Cruz has shown that he's in control of himself. He's consistent on the campaign trail and consistent in debates. He's consistently sidestepped the media's attempts to trip him up by clear and concise explanations for his positions, history, or future policies should he be elected president. He's sincere, or comes across that way. He understands foreign policy. He's very smart and he's running a smart campaign and was smart enough not to compromise himself in Congress like Rubio did. I have full confidence that he'd at least attempt to do everything he's promising on the campaign trail, and he's the only candidate about whom I can say that.

I hope I sleep tonight!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Trump

I still don't like the guy. I hope this anti-Muslim rhetoric spells his political doom.  How could anyone want a President of the United States who talks like this? Besides, limiting Muslim refugees doesn't prevent radical Islamic terrorists from sneaking across the Mexican border, which happens all the time. Google it.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Syrian Refugees

I'm tired of the politicizing of a world humanitarian crisis. The refugees have no homes, and they have terrorism within the countries they flee. They wouldn't leave if they wouldn't have to. Do terrorists infiltrate? Of course they do, but it's not like we don't have that already within our country. We do.

I'm tired of Democrats and Republicans waging battle in a knee-jerk reaction. If there ever was an issue we should all agree on, that issue is this one. Besides, divisiveness doesn't breed unity for the citizens of this country, or the world, and never will.

I appreciated this Facebook Post by a friend, who shared a post by an immigration lawyer. It turns out that most of American's panic over refugees is misplaced.

A few facts anyone?
Scott Hicks
Most of my friends know I practice Immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you wantactual information about the process, keep reading.
I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.
The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.
First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.
Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.
We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.
First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Second priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.
Third priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.
Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.
The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. I had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.
At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.
Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.
Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.
Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination.
This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but I have seen it take years.
The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)
Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.
Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa.
Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)
Finally, the process in Europe is different. I would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The 2016 presidential races

It's a red-letter day: I feel like writing about politics again! I don't visit many news sites these days, but even I can't help feeling at least a passing interest in the circus we're calling the GOP candidacy.

The GOP candidates disappoint me, for the most part. Trump is a pompous old windbag who has absolutely no chance in you know what of winning the presidency, even if by some unfortunate turn of events he were to win the nomination. Please, GOP base, be smarter than that. He's full of himself and doesn't listen to anyone and I'd say we've had enough of that kind of president after the past nearly 8 years, wouldn't you?

I note with interest that the front runners to this point aren't career politicians: Trump has never held office, and neither has Ben Carson. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is getting lots of attention for the same reason: he didn't set out to be a career politician: he just saw a need and stepped in.

I'm okay with Ben Carson. The man has absolutely no experience leading much of anything, but he knows it. He's humble enough to surround himself with good advisers and wise enough to listen to them. That's what I'd love to see in a president of the United States. I don't know how much of a chance he has in winning the nomination, but I'd vote for him. Just about my only criteria these days is that the people I vote for be genuinely good people who have the best interests of the country at heart, and not their own glory or agenda.

That's also why I'm okay with Mitt Romney jumping back in. Sure, he may be a moderate, but he's a good man and I trust him to lead the country well.

The only career politician currently in the race that I'd be willing to vote for is Ted Cruz. I've always liked him: he's got an air of sincerity around him, the likes of which we don't often see around politicians.

As far as the presidency goes, I'd vote for Bernie Sanders, should he win the Democratic nomination, over Trump or any Republican besides Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, or Mitt Romney. I think he'd do a better job of keeping the interests of the country at heart than those other Republicans, socialist or not.