Friday, November 30, 2007

My Mother Told Me Never to Sneak Around

The word "sneak" caused me trauma when I was a teenager. My mother would use the word often when she talked about other teenage girls whom she considered promiscuous. Embedded in this word were many things. The word described people who were:

bad, stupid, dirty (or uncouth), and predisposed to lying about everything

I looked it up in the University of Chicago ARTFL project dictionary and found this:

To creep or steal (away or about) privately; to come or go meanly, as a person afraid or ashamed to be seen; as, to sneak away from company...

To act in a stealthy and cowardly manner; to behave with meanness and servility; to crouch.

The word is on my mind today because it was used in a Washington Post article by Howard Kurtz: "I understand the outrage at those who broke the law to sneak into this country."

With all due respect. Mr. Kurtz needs to re-think what he writes. Perhaps he wants to avoid being pro-immigrant -especially with a name like Kurtz - people might have thought he went native (and wouldn't that be awful).

Oh, one last thing - his statement: "
12 million illegal immigrants in this country (some of whom were granted amnesty in 1986 by the sainted Ronald Reagan, when the problem was much smaller) aren't going anywhere."

If they were granted amnesty, that means they were no longer undocumented as of 1986. I would suggest that Mr. Kurtz think about which words he uses and how he puts them together. He could tell everyone that is was a typographical error, not caught by the newspaper's copyeditors. But if you have any faith in Freud, you know about the process called a "Freudian slip" - when you say something that appears unintentional, but in reality it is what you are actually thinking- as many people do these days, once "an illegal always an illegal" - even if they get a green card or become U.S. citizens.

To correct some mis-information - most undocumented immigrants are not sneaky. If they really were, would you let them enter your house and take care of your children? Would you want them to build our highways and skyscrapers?

Yes, of course there are many undocumented immigrants who cross the border at night by wading the river or hanging on to the bottom of a railroad car. For the most part, as I have mentioned before, it is often because they don't have enough to feed their families. Lastly, the word sneak connotes, stealing or dishonesty - As reports are constantly being published, stealing is not an issue, their rates of criminal behavior are significantly lower than U.S. citizens. If they are dishonest about their status should they be confronted by a Border Patrol officer, how bad is a lie, if you are lying so you can feed your kids? I am not trying to be over-dramatic. This is reality.

If you are wondering how I know this. Years before graduate school I was a social worker - at children's protective services, an elementary school with a significant undocumented population, a neighborhood social service center in an immigrant neighborhood as a psychotherapist with a number of undocumented families. The description of their homes having dirt floors still shocks me...Probably most impactful is that my father was undocumented until he entered the U.S. Army in 1944.

My first book was on the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon. I traveled there for three years - and lived there full time in 1999. My third book is on DREAMERS and immigration - and I've been working on this one for about 20 months. So no, I'm not making this stuff up.

Sanctuary From the Facts?
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 30, 2007; 7:57 AM

The Rudy-Romney dustup was great television as the two men went toe to toe over immigration. But I want to dwell for a moment on the substance.

Giuliani did talk about welcoming illegal immigrants when he was mayor. Whether New York was a sanctuary city or not, he recognized the need for illegal workers to be able to report crimes, and to educate the 70,000 kids of illegal workers. Now, for obvious reasons, he tries to sound less sympathetic to illegal immigration.

Mitt didn't do much to crack down on sanctuary cities in Massachusetts, either, and while he touts winning federal approval for his state police to go after illegals, that took effect two weeks before he left office.

Huckabee was asked how he could allow college scholarship for the kids of illegal immigrants. He explained that the kids had to have been in the school system all their lives, have A-plus averages and be applying for citizenship. When Romney criticized that stance as a waste of taxpayers' money, Huck said: "In all due respect, we are a better country than to punish children for what their parents did."

Whatever your views on immigration, here's my point: Governors and mayors have to deal with real-world problems. The 12 million illegal immigrants in this country (some of whom were granted amnesty in 1986 by the sainted Ronald Reagan, when the problem was much smaller) aren't going anywhere. They are so embedded in our society that some of them wound up taking care of Mitt Romney's lawn.

I understand the outrage at those who broke the law to sneak into this country. But it's easier to criticize the problem from a stage than to run states and cities that are teeming with illegals.

It's like the debate over taxes. Virtually every governor who's in office long enough raises them at some point, as Huckabee did, while cutting them at other times, depending on the heating and cooling of the economy. (Yes, even Reagan raised taxes.) Then an opponent comes along and denounces them as tax-hikers. But virtually all governors are constitutionally required to balance their budgets. They don't have the option of printing money like the folks in Washington.

The NYT, by the way, has a big piece on Rudy's mayoral claims. Money graf:

"All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong. And while, to be sure, all candidates use misleading statistics from time to time, Mr. Giuliani has made statistics a central part of his candidacy as he campaigns on his record."

Ever wonder what it's like spending a day trailing Hillary around New Hampshire? My report on the candidate and the press is here.

Turning now to the controversy over CNN's YouTube debate, here is what I've pieced together:

CNN expressed regret yesterday for allowing a Hillary Clinton adviser to ask a question at Wednesday's Republican presidential debate, even as controversy swirled about two other questioners who have declared their support for Democratic candidates.

Retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, who asked why gays should not be allowed to serve openly in the military, is a member of Clinton's steering committee on gay and lesbian issues, something her campaign disclosed in a news release in June.

"Had we known that, we probably wouldn't have used the question," said David Bohrman, CNN's Washington bureau chief, who produced the debate. He added that "you could spend hours Googling everybody. What we cared about was that he was real." CNN deleted Kerr's question from a rebroadcast of the debate.

The New York senator's campaign said in a statement that "Gen. Kerr is not a campaign employee and was not acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign."

Kerr, a Californian who said he became openly gay after 43 years in the military, was one of 5,000 people who submitted videotaped questions through YouTube. CNN also placed Kerr in the St. Petersburg, Fla., audience, where he followed up by calling the current "don't ask, don't tell" policy "destructive."

Moderator Anderson Cooper acknowledged the error involving Kerr after Bill Bennett, the conservative author and radio host who is a network contributor, raised it during a post-debate discussion. Bennett said yesterday that his radio producer e-mailed him information from a National Review blog.

"It shouldn't have ever happened," Bennett said. "You've got to vet that sort of thing."

On CNN's "American Morning," Kerr said he has done nothing for the Clinton campaign and that the video was "a private initiative on my own." He also said he has supported Republicans.

Bohrman said network staffers, struck by Kerr's "very powerful" question, verified his military service and determined from federal records that he had made no campaign contributions. He said CNN never spoke to Kerr and had Google, which owns YouTube, bring the retired general and about a dozen other questioners to the debate because their videos were likely to be used, although no decision had been made.

CNN teamed with YouTube in July for a Democratic debate that marked the first such use of citizen-submitted videos. The Republican debate was delayed because of candidate concerns about the format.

Bohrman said the network rejected "quite a few" questioners who were found to have public ties or donations to other candidates. He said the network's goal was to avoid "obvious Democratic 'gotcha' questions."

Another YouTube questioner, a Texas woman who identified herself as "Journey," asked what the punishment should be for women who have abortions and the doctors who perform them, if the procedure were made illegal. After the debate, she posted another YouTube video criticizing the candidates' responses -- while wearing a "John Edwards 08" T-shirt.

A third questioner, David Cercone, asked the candidates whether they would accept the support of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay organization.

In a profile on Sen. Barack Obama's Web site, Cercone wrote about "why I support Barack Obama: He is a leader who inspires me with his sincerity, his earnestness, and his vision for change."

Conservative bloggers, some of whom deride CNN as the "Clinton News Network," ripped the network yesterday. At InstaPundit, Glenn Reynolds wrote: "Once again, CNN demonstrates an inexplicable failure to background-check pro-Hillary questioners." Scott Johnson of PowerLine wrote that "CNN has shown itself unable or unwilling to act as an honest broker."

James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, said: "If lone bloggers can vet these people in less than half an hour, surely CNN's crack journalistic team should have been able to do so between the time they selected the pool of questions and the airing of the debate?"

Bohrman said he had no problem using questioners who have voiced support for other candidates as long as they are not donors or formally affiliated with any campaign. "We bent over backwards to be fair," he said. "We're not perfect. But we tried extremely hard."

Here's some more reaction. Captain Ed is less exercised than some of his conservative colleagues:

"Bad journalistic practices? Definitely yes. But does that negate the questions themselves? I don't think so. The CNN/YouTube format closely parallels that of the traditional town-hall forum. For the most part, attendees do not get vetted at these events either, nor should they. After all, while a primary usually involves voters of one party, the entire nation has a stake in the selection of the nominees. If Hillary Clinton held a town hall in my community, I should have an opportunity to question her about her positions on issues without pledging a loyalty oath to do so.

"The questions asked don't seem particularly outrageous."

Fred Barnes says the whole thing stunk:

"This debate not only was mortifying to the candidates. It also should have been embarrassing to the viewers, especially Republican voters who might have been watching.

"I don't know if the folks who put the debate together were purposely trying to make the Republican candidates look bad, but they certainly succeeded. True, the candidates occasionally contributed. For the first few minutes, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney continued their debate over their records on immigration and did so with the kind of intensity that this trivial matter didn't warrant. These are two fine candidates who have only themselves to blame for looking petty.

"But it was chiefly the questions and who asked them that made the debate so appalling. By my recollection, there were no questions on health care, the economy, trade, the S-chip children's health care issue, the 'surge' in Iraq, the spending showdown between President Bush and Congress, terrorist surveillance, or the performance of the Democratic Congress.

"Instead there were questions--ones moderator Anderson Cooper kept insisting had required a lot of time and effort by the questioners--on the Confederate flag, Mars, Giuliani's rooting for the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, whether Ron Paul might run as an independent for president, and the Bible."

At the New Republic, Noam Scheiber gives Romney and Rudy mixed grades:

"I thought Romney hit the right note on immigration, at least from the perspective of GOP voters. His response to Giuliani's accusation that he operated a 'sanctuary mansion'--a reference to having illegal aliens do some work around his house--was persuasive. It does seem a bit much to suggest, as Rudy did, that you should be responsible for whether or not a contractor you hire might be employing illegal aliens--or, as Romney put it, that you should demand papers from anyone who looks a little different or speaks with an accent.

"Romney also seemed to get the better of the exchange with Mike Huckabee over making (non-citizen) children of illegal immigrants eligible for state-funded college scholarships. Huckabee offered what I thought was a wonderful, humane defense of the program--about not punishing kids for their parents' crimes, about how you'd rather have people get educations than not, etc.--but I suspect that's a step too far for most GOP primary voters. Romney's point about how Huckabee might have had great intentions, but that doesn't make it right, will probably resonate . . .

"Romney's weakest moment by far was his attempt to square his previous comments on gays in the military--that he looks forward to a day when they can serve openly--with his rightward turn on social issues. He seemed caught off guard by the question, and his response--that this is not the time to consider it--sounded like the worst of both worlds . . .

"Giuliani, as I mentioned, seemed a little over the top during the 'sanctuary mansion' attack. He also did a lousy job fielding a question about gun control--leading with the point that local governments should be able to impose some common-sense restrictions, which the gun crowd hears as code for taking their firearms away..."

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