Un Cachito de la vida

Un Cachito

"Politics" Archives

Un Cachito de la vida - A little piece of Cameron's life

December 30, 2008

Immigration's broken

You've heard me rant before about how the immigration system is broken in this country. It's so hard to get in legally, that unfortunately - but understandably - some people choose to come illegally.

My latest disappointment with the system came this morning. I've spent a fair amount of effort, time and some money trying to bring a man from central Africa over here to Utah to go to college. He was accepted by the college. We then spent a lot of time and some money trying to get all the necessary documents in order to obtain the necessary F-1 visa. We were racing against time, but I was fairly confident we had all we needed and that he'd get the visa.

He had his appointment at the embassy this morning and was rejected? Why? Was it because he messed up on one of the many forms or because he didn't have sufficient funds? No. It's because the interviewer decided that even though my friend's visa would expire after a couple years of school, he (the interviewer) wasn't convinced there was a compelling reason for my friend to return to Africa (which they want to see). Besides the fact that my friend helps run a business in his country and is needed, perhaps the biggest problem is that the decision is incredibly subjective and really affects a life. My friend said that there were several other interviewers there at the US embassy also, and he said one seemed to just be handing out visas, even to people who couldn't really speak any English (which my friend speaks natively). Had he had a different interviewer, he very well may have been able to start school here on the 5th. Now he has to do the forms over and spend a bunch of money to try again. The system's broken.
Posted by charr at 4:05 PM | TrackBack

December 27, 2008

Presidents, Part 2: McCain

If it seems like a post about McCain is out of date, it's because I have procrastinated writing this for so long. Sorry. I'd still like to give some of my thoughts about him.

Way back in November of 2006, I posted that I wanted to see a McCain-Romney ticket. It's interesting how close it came to being a reality. I think a lot of people think having a business man (Romney) in the White House during this financial crisis would be a good thing. But alas, it's not to be. But, keeping in line with my wish way back in '06, I supported McCain both in the primary and the general elections. In fact, I was one of the very small 5% of Utahns who voted for McCain in the primaries (some 90% voted for Romney, who I felt had become disingenuous). I liked McCain's more moderate positions: his willingness to be bipartisan in order to actually get things done; his immigration policies; his support for the surge while condemning the way the Iraq war had so far been run. His military service also demands respect, even though he apparently does talk like a sailor. He's not the most charismatic or eloquent guy and I can't say I ever really liked McCain the person, but I liked his policies and voted accordingly.

You also might be interested to know however, that as the campaign wore on, I became increasingly frustrated with McCain and was very near the point of not caring if he lost. The main reason? His negative campaign. McCain had a reputation of talking straight and being above the fray. Yet he allowed his campaign managers to plan the direction of his campaign and constantly attack Obama on things that were pretty much lies. Obama wasn't completely innocent either, but McCain was the worst offender. That's not cool and it's not the McCain that started out running in the campaign.

I also have to say that I wasn't all that enamored with Palin. I'll admit that at first it seemed like an exciting pick - a fresh face. However, as the campaign wore on and it became clear how little she knew of the world - such as the fact that she had just barely obtained a passport - I became disenchanted. I was also somewhat put off by the fact that she seemed to have been chosen to capture the evangelical right. I felt at times like they are treated as the the only ones who matter to the GOP, and as such, they've accumulated a lot of power. I was looking forward to a McCain that was more centric - that wasn't beholden to them.

It was sad to see McCain's image slide down so far from the summer. I hope now that he's back to being Senator McCain, he can go back to the old bipartisan, get-things-done guy that he was before. For now, I'm cautiously optimistic about Obama - my next subject.
Posted by charr at 7:42 PM | TrackBack

December 5, 2008

Presidents, Part 1: Bush

This is part 1 of a 3-part group of articles I've been meaning to write for the last month (I'm slow!) on my feelings on US presidents and the recent campaigns. And now that you know my politics, I want to share my thoughts on George W. Bush.

There has been ongoing debate and commentary recently about how bad of a president George W. Bush has been. Some pundits say he's the worst and some say he's the second worst. I don't have the historical knowledge to argue definitively on that topic (neither do most people), but my feeling is that those statements are just hyperbole.

Throughout the last 5 years (coinciding with the war in Iraq), I've heard increasing rhetoric about Bush and how he's a "liar," a war criminal or worse. Sources range from the ridiculous Al Sharpton, "Clearly, [President Bush] lied. Now if he is an unconscious liar, and doesn't realize when he's lying..." to those high in government like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, "President Bush is a liar...I think [Bush] is a loser." His job rating is around 29% - a fall that has been stunning when you consider that just after 9/11, he a record high rating of 90%. Does he really deserve the flak he's been taking? Is he really a liar and a criminal as some attest?

I'm an avid news reader, and I have read many articles about his "illegal" activities and still read many comments about how Bush lied to everyone. The problem is, none of these claims seem to have any merit. I won't say he has never done something illegal or lied, but the people making these claims don't have concrete data to back them. The opposition claims he lied about Iraq, but that just doesn't seem to be the case. If you go back to the beginning of 2003 and put yourself in Bush's shoes, without any benefit of hindsight, you'll see that pretty much everyone in the world thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and he had obstinately refused to comply with some 12 previous UN resolutions. Of course, if you're going to war, you should make sure your claims are true - and the info that was declared by the CIA and others did in fact support Bush's theory that Saddam was a threat. It was determined he (Saddam Hussein) needed to be eliminated. Whether the analysts reported false information is a different story, but can't be blamed on Bush. Also, whether you think the war was necessary or not is again a different story and not relevant to Bush being a liar or a criminal.

Some say the war was illegal, but there was a UN resolution authorizing force (though some claim they think Bush should have gone back to the UN again) and the US Congress did declare war. Therefore, the war was not illegal. On the issue of illegal wiretapping, the media has routinely called them illegal, but the problem is that it is a gray area where there wasn't explicit law prohibiting Bush from doing what he was doing. If there were, then it would have had to be stopped. Instead, Congress passed a bill to clarify the issue - effectively saying that the president had the right to order non-warrant wiretaps on international calls in order to combat terrorism.

I think beyond these hot-button legal issues, there are three other issues that have hurt Bush's reputation (and these aren't in any order). One is the long, costly and problematic war in Iraq. The original execution of the war - the "Shock and Awe" - was brilliantly run by Donald Rumsfeld, but as we now know, there appeared to be highly erroneous assumptions of how things would carry out after Hussein's fall, and no real follow-up plan. Based on those assumptions, Bush's "Mission Accomplished" stunt wouldn't have been a big deal, but of course, it now seems a big blunder. Rumsfeld's specialty was the use of a relatively small, powerful force to quickly wipe out a visible enemy. But when the nearly-invisible insurgency kicked in, that force was inadequate. Whether due to Rumsfeld or the top military brass, I don't know, but significantly more forces weren't committed to Iraq for too long and that gap gave the insurgency time to gather money, weapons and power. Disaster ensued. As tired of the war as I was however, I still felt it was our duty to fix the mess we got into - as did Bush. Fortunately the defeatists were ignored and "The Surge" went forth and has worked wonders (mixed with other happenings like the 'Sunni Awakening'). Looking back, I don't know how much direct input Bush has had in the running of the Iraq war, or whether he just let Rumsfeld and Cheney run it, but he does bear some responsibility.

Issue number two is the alienation of much of the world. This is largely due to the Iraq war and Bush's unilateral and sometimes arrogant approach to it - think, "You're either with us or against us." When he talks, it is sometimes with a smirk that can be frustratingly maddening and further enforces this idea of assumed supremacy. Mix all that with the fact that much of the Middle East thinks (erroneously) that the Iraq war is just a war on Islam, and you have a situation where the US has really lost a lot of stature and power in the world. Some countries like France didn't help things by matching Bush's haughtiness with their own. Regardless, both our friends and our enemies were angry at the US. That is sad and even a little scary - our ability to push for change in Iran and Palestine has been seriously weakened. I'm hopeful that Obama can get some of that back.

Issue three is the response by FEMA to Hurricane Katrina. It is still mentioned often by the media and considered a major blunder. This one stymies me though and I don't think the media is on the same page as the general public here. While the news organizations love to bring the point up, comments tell me that much of the public is sick of hearing about it and sick of the fact that so many in New Orleans seem unable to take some responsibility and rebuild. Now, I'll admit that the damage was devastating and there was a lot of real loss and suffering. Where I disagree is that it is FEMA's responsibility to take care of all the citizens there 100%. The mayor, Ray Nagin, along with the governor, Kathleen Blanco, politicized things early on and were somehow able to remove much of the spotlight from their own inability to take care of their constituents. That is where the real crime happened. The federal agencies should be there to assist and augment the local efforts, but the media would like you to believe that FEMA is responsible for all the problems. That's just not true and even after years of living in FEMA-provided trailors, many citizens there are still expecting the government to take care of them. A minority will always need help, but I hate what I see as a major lack of personal responsibility by so many.

Wow, so I've covered what I think are the major contentions here but I haven't even mentioned some of the good works he's done. Bush is responsible for perhaps the largest investment in anti-AIDS work in Africa in world history - tripling the previous investment to some $9 billion. He reformed Medicare to give seniors more plan options and save them bundles in prescription costs, although the returns here differ depending on who you ask. He has passed the No Child Left Behind bill, which, while a target of criticism, has also been hailed by both political parties as a major benefit to the education system and the bill will likely be renewed. Additionally, Bush created an enormous pristine marine preserve northwest of Hawaii. He tried mightily to pass a much needed, moderate immigration bill only to be defeated by his own party. Bush tried to push Social Security reform after being re-elected but was defeated in those efforts as well, putting into question what will happen when I reach retirement age. I'm sure there have been other notable accomplishments as well.

In closing, Bush has failed to efficiently run the war in Iraq and has hurt the US's image due to that war and his sometimes arrogant approach to things, but he really hasn't been as bad a president as everyone makes him out to be. I hope history proves me right.

Posted by charr at 3:36 PM | TrackBack

November 19, 2008

My Politics

I have a few articles I want to write that touch on politics, so I thought I'd state some of my views as a prelude.

Those of you who have followed my blogs long enough to have read my last blog, Current Events, will know that I was generally a good, conservative right-wing Republican. Well, in the last several years I have moved decidedly left and now consider myself a center-right moderate.

There are some areas in which I am still decidedly conservative such as small government, fiscal responsibility and social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. However there are other areas in which I strongly disagree with my fellow Republicans and which I feel push me farther away from the GOP (though not necessarily to the Democrats). This list of disagreements includes my positions on illegal immigration, the planet Earth and general intellectuality. Let me expound.

I've become somewhat passionate about the illegal immigration issue in a large part because I have several acquaintances or friends who are legal and illegal immigrants, and have come to understand the issue perhaps a little more than the general populace (which doesn't say much). The general argument of the Right is that the illegals committed a crime coming here and thus have no rights. They opine that we should round up all the illegal immigrants, send them home unconditionally and punish those who employee them. Some even wanted to criminalize the providing of general assistance to illegal immigrants. Now, I can see logic in the general argument - that they are criminals, so treat them as such - but I strongly feel the premise is faulty. It's overly simplistic. If you break the speed limit or jaywalk, does that mean you are a criminal and should be locked up? (Of course not; there are different degrees of breaking the law.) The main problem, per my understanding, is that it is nearly impossible to immigrate legally (I've seen it take years for someone's foreign spouse to get residency). If the situation back home (for instance, in Mexico) is terrible, you are going to want to find a way to better your situation. If the country up north won't let you come legally, you take a lot of risks and come illegally, trying to eke out a living. And let me be clear; it's not at all something I condone, but I do understand the rationale. I also realize there are a lot of problems that come with illegal immigration, but I know many who work very hard, pay taxes without receiving tax-payer benefits, and are an asset to the country.  Plus, a lot of those problems (like identity theft) would would largely be solved by legalizing in some fashion the immigrants. My desire on the immigration issue is to find a way to bring those who are assets into the legal citizenry and deal humanely with all. I believe in a 3-prong approach of making it much easier to come legally (even as a guest worker), make it harder to come illegally (I'm OK with the border fence) and deal reasonably with those who are here. Those who can pass English proficiency tests, don't have criminal records (ignoring of course their immigration status), and in general are a boon to the economy should be put on the path to citizenship, paying any relevant fees. This is similar to what Bush and McCain tried to do and I was in favor of that (although, for skilled laborers I wouldn't require them to go back to their home country first). If you want to call that amnesty, then so be it - I call it an approach that could do a lot to solve the problem.

Wow! That was longer than I had planned, but let's move on to Earth. I don't share Al Gore's conclusion that the planet is on the precipice of doom. I'll agree that it is getting warmer, but my priorities are more on taking care of the planet more than aggressively preventing further global warming. There's definitely overlap between those two ideas, but good stewardship of nature is my focus. Two of my personal hobbies are cycling and scuba diving and I can tell bad air from good and polluted seas from pristine coral reefs. Basically, I want clean air and clean seas. The GOP doesn't have a good environmental record and while there has been some progress, I don't see the Right doing much. On a positive note, Bush did set up an enormous marine preserve northwest of Hawaii which is commendable.

On the intellectuality issue, I feel like the politicians are dismissing any intellectuals as "elitists" and basically trying to pander to the less educated - saying they are the "real America." Well guess what, if you want to progress, you need to learn. Intellectuality, science and higher education should be prized, not scorned. There was a great Op-Ed in the NY Times that talked about this issue.

Posted by charr at 8:45 PM | TrackBack

September 30, 2008

Frustrated at House GOP

I've always voted Republican, but it seems like more and more the GOP is pushing me away from their party. I'm not keen on the Demos either, but currently, I'm steaming over the GOP's rejection of the $700B bailout bill yesterday.

I'm not at all a fan of big government or a huge national debt (or making it $0.7 trillion more), but this is a time of crisis where we're on the brink of a deep recession and potentially a depression. Was this bill a sure-fire fix to the nation's problems? No. But it was desperately needed in my mind (and lots of others) to restore confidence in the financial industry and loosen up credit world-wide so that business is not straight-jacketed. This plan is about rescuing the national (and to some extent, global) economy. Did you see what happened because of the rejection? The DOW dropped 777 points - biggest drop since the 1987 crash.

Many who are glad the bill was defeated think the money is just going to pad the bank accounts of rich executives. That is not the case at all. Sure there may be some wealthy people who benefit from not losing everything they own, but so will Joe Blow. This plan imposes stricter limits on executive pay (I'm staunchly opposed to the golden parachutes given to departing execs of failing companies), and gives some ownership of the companies to the federal government - returning dividends and profit to the treasury. In fact, this could actually be profitable to the US. I'm not saying it will, but where everything is linked together, we need to get the first step going and put confidence back in the economy and let it grow again.

Pelosi's partisan and political speech before the vote yesterday was plain stupid and uncalled for, but the House GOP needs to look past politics, re-vote on this bill and pass it.

Posted by charr at 8:15 AM

May 31, 2007

Changing my vote

For the last while, I've supported McCain as my preferred presidential candidate for 2008. However, he seems to be squirming a bit in order to get in tighter with some of the Republican base. That bothers me. There are several "2nd" tier candidates who aren't as popular as the 1st tier (Giuliani,McCain,Romney), and I haven't paid much attention to them. Until now.One of them is Sam Brownback, a Kansas Senator. I'm going to be giving him some more thought as I find out more about him. He seems to have similar immigration goals as I do, according to his voting record. Brownback and I also seem to share views on evolution, per his Op-Ed piece in the NY Times today. Basically, he allows both faith and reason/science into the equation, believing in microevolution, but not the idea that humans randomly evolved with no divine input.

Posted by charr at 10:36 AM

May 18, 2007

"Rational" immigration

I've been quietly passionate about the whole immigration issue for the past few years. I commented on it over two years ago in my old blog here. In the second comment, you'll see how I praised a points or merit-based program for immigrants to achieve citizen status. It appears that the Senate and Bush Administration have come to the same conclusion of merit-based immigration.This is good news in my opinion. I find the extreme hard-line approach by the Republican majority to kick out all illegal immigrants to be an unreasonable and inhumane approach. I also disagree that giving those immigrants a path to citizenship is amnesty. They still need to earn their way to legitimacy, but it's a path where progress can be made. I feel we need to make it easier to come legally, harder to come illegally and more necessary to have immigrants become "Americans" as opposed to their own small country in America. Giving them a path to achieve citizenship and setting requirements to help them become Americans is the right way. I hope this bill passes.

Posted by charr at 11:26 AM

November 25, 2006

2008 ticket

This will probably seem really random, but I think I'd like to see a McCain-Romney presidential campaign ticket for 2008. Who do you want?

Posted by charr at 11:38 AM

September 28, 2006

Redefining justice

I was blown away by what happens in some of the justice courts in upstate NY (and likely elsewhere), listed here in the NY Times. The article is pretty long, but you can get a lot from just the first page.So what's the big deal?

"Some of the courtrooms are not even courtrooms: tiny offices or basement rooms without a judge's bench or jury box. Sometimes the public is not admitted, witnesses are not sworn to tell the truth, and there is no word-for-word record of the proceedings. Nearly three-quarters of the judges are not lawyers, and many -- truck drivers, sewer workers or laborers -- have scant grasp of the most basic legal principles. Some never got through high school, and at least one went no further than grade school."

Here are some more tidbits:
One woman tried to get a restraining order against her abusive scumbag husband who even threatened to kill her. It was denied. Why? "Every woman needs a good pounding every now and then," according to the justice. That's just sickening. Another justice who ordered a neighbor's dog killed because it had been running loose. His opinion of the law: "I just follow my own common sense, and the hell with the law."Having fun yet? Well, another justice took home a 17-yr-old female defendent with him.There's also a follow-on article that talks about attempts over the years to reform the justice courts.

Posted by charr at 4:44 PM

June 2, 2006

Where's the line?

I like my privacy. There are Libertarian portions in me that don't want the Feds poking their heads around everywhere. I do understand the need for government and am appreciative of the relatively stable system we have in the U.S. However I wonder at times if they go too far on things. Where's the line between civil liberties and a police state in the name of eradicating evil, specifically the sickening evils of child pornography and terrorism? Believe me, I would love for the world to be completely rid of these terrible practices, but I don't think Big Brother watching everything I do is the answer. I'm sorry if I'm sounding paranoid; I don't think I am, but I'm disturbed by this news that the government now wants Internet providers to keep track of which users visit which sites. I know much of this data is already captured, though not for extended amounts of time and is not released to the government. Plus you often have "cookies" on your computer that leave a trail of where you've been.Not too long ago there was a disturbance when Google fought to not release records of which sites were being visited. The user wasn't tracked, and I was willing to let the government see that info (not that my opinion matters). Now they've gone the proverbial next step and want user info also. I'm sure some of the info will help them capture some that need to be locked up, but at what expense? My personal response to this would be "No, we live in a free country where this monitoring isn't appropriate." Even though the supposed reasons are good, I don't think it warrants the squashing of certain freedoms. Plus, you can always ask "What's next?"

Posted by charr at 9:33 AM

February 16, 2006

Who cares?

Ok. One last slightly political question for now. There's been lots of outrage and hot feelings over the delayed response of Cheney informing the world he accidentally shot a fellow hunter. Here's a related article in the NY Times. Even though it was the other guy's fault, Cheney is now taking responsibility, but still getting hounded. The White House Press Corps, or zoo, whatever you want to call them, are furious over the fact they weren't notified immediately. I say, who cares? Basically, the President found out about an hour after it happened and the next morning, the story was released to the local newpaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. This was an unfortunate accident - hardly a matter of national security. Anyway, I just want to say, 'Gimme a break." But maybe I'm alone in my feelings; do any of you care?

Posted by charr at 8:22 AM

February 10, 2006

Not whistleblowers

Sorry, I don't mean to get back into politics, but...Like this NY Times Op-Ed from Peter Goss, head of the CIA, I have wondered about those that reveal classified information. The Dems made a big deal about revealing the name of Valerie Plame - a desk agent at the CIA, but what about the loads of classified information the NY Times has divulged, from the CIA's air charters to the NSA programs? There are laws to deal with classified info in a proper setting that aren't being followed because these people feel they're above the law. They aren't. They are not whistleblowers; they are criminals.

Posted by charr at 9:30 AM

February 7, 2006


I'm trying to avoid politics - especially partisan politics - because discussing politics only seems to agitate people. While I still have opinions, I'm also much more likely to roll my eyes and move on when partisan politics arise. That said, many of you that followed my last blog will know that I value privacy. I don't like all the security checks at the airport and I dislike the opinion (which varies) that it's ok to crush rights and privacies to fight terrorists. That said, I like to think I'm reasonable enough to understand that some government interferance is appropriate. Recently, the media has been in a huge craze over the NSA monitoring international calls into and out of the US. Despite my privacy concerns, this actually doesn't bother me that much. I also think the President has the right to make this call. Were they to knowingly monitor domestic communication (email, phone, etc), I would be much more bothered. However, what riles me more is the subpoenaing of search engine queries. At first I thought it was worse than it is - that they would be matching up searchers with the searches, but it appears they just want to see the queries and some of the results, in the name of shutting down child porn sites. While I'd love to rid the world of child abuse (including porn), I am feeling more and more claustrophobic with the government breathing down my back. I've supported and continue to support Bush in a lot of things, but I wonder how much conservativism there is in his "compassionate conservatism" campaign. The traditional Republican conservative believes in fiscal constraint and small government. While some things have been well beyond the President's control, overall he's 0-2 on these two core principles, in my opinion. His new $2.7 Trillion budget doesn't help. I don't like that.

Posted by charr at 2:41 PM