Friday, November 21, 2014

Sneaking in to Disneyland

Yesterday, President Obama made a big mess. He just told illegal aliens that they can stay without fear of being deported. And then he had the nerve to say that he was doing this because he just wanted to work with Congress and for them to send him a bill to sign.

Uh... what?

Why now, Mr. President? If you are really serious about working with Congress to pass immigration reform, you would wait until the newly elected Congress takes office in January. Or you would have done this when your party had control of the House and Senate.

You say you only want to deport the "criminals," but you seem to ignore the fact that ALL of these people have broken our laws by entering into our country illegally, which makes them ALL criminals.

As the son of a LEGAL immigrant who did it the right way and worked hard to do so, I take great offense at this, President Barack Obama.

When my kids asked me awhile back about illegal "immigrants," I put it into terms they could understand: We went to Disneyland last year. We paid (and paid dearly) to go there. We bought our tickets and went through the gates. We are like legal immigrants and citizens of the United States.

Illegals are people who may pay to get to Anaheim, but then they sneak over the wall of Disneyland because they just want to provide a better time for their family. They ride the same rides we ride, eat the same food and have the same fun we do. But they broke the rules to get in.

Now, what if the Disney corporation decided to say "it's okay if you sneak in - we won't kick you out. In fact, go ahead and go to the front of the line. AND you get free food and drinks while you're here, too."

How would YOU feel if you paid to go to Disneyland and someone who wasn't even supposed to be there got to cut in line in front of you, time after time, after time?

Even kids can understand that it's not right and that it would be very frustrating.

It's pretty much the same with illegals.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Meanwhile, just down the road...

From KWHI: 

The Austin County Sheriff’s office will soon be equipped with some heavy vehicles. 
Austin County Judge Carolyn Bilski says some Mine Resistant Ambush Protection or MRAPs, that were manufactured at the BAE facility in Sealy are being given to the sheriff’s office. 
Judge Bilski says these vehicles will not be used for regular patrolling duties but there are many situations in which they can be used.  She recalls floods and other dangers of past years.
Wow. Things must be really, really bad in rural Austin County.

I still stand by my stance last month that local law enforcement agencies don't need military vehicles and equipment.

Incidentally, on my travels today, I passed by one of these vehicles sitting outside the sheriff's office in the tiny town of Meridian, Texas (population 1,493).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Opening the Door in the Name of Saving Money

Yesterday I attended my very first Washington County Commissioner’s Court meeting. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, but I work and am not usually available at the hours when they are held.  Yesterday, however, I made an exception because I was drawn to the meeting by a single item that was up for discussion – item 6: “Discuss and act upon granting the Washington County Sheriff’s office authorization to participate in the Texas 1033 Surplus Property Program and granting the County Judge authorization to sign necessary documents.”
The program is one that is authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – you know, the thing that Forbes Magazine called “the greatest threat to civil liberties that Americans face” – to allow local and state law enforcement agencies and municipalities to purchase surplus and used military property and hardware, including (as listed by the Texas 1033 website) weapons, aircraft and armored response vehicles.
I listened as Sheriff Hanak explained that the program had “been around 25 or 30 years” and that the items that might be considered were rifles and pistols and office equipment, such as desks and chairs. He said that none of these items would be new and that there was a risk that “the maintenance would eat us up” if the item was in rough shape and so that they would have to be very careful.
Sheriff Otto Hanak then spoke about the availability under the program of vehicles such as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored personnel carriers. But he admitted that they don’t have any plans to buy items such as that, partly due to the cost of maintenance on items such as tires. But I gathered from his tone that if the money were there…
Then there was a very brief discussion and the motion carried unanimously.
There was no opportunity for comments from the public. I didn’t honestly expect there to be because I learned a long time ago that although a meeting might be “open to the public,” there is rarely opportunity given for unscheduled public comments.
I’m disappointed that there wasn’t more discussion and questions on the part of the Commissioner’s Court. The issue sailed through relatively unchecked. There was even uncertainty as to whether the authorization would allow the sheriff’s office to make future purchases or whether those would have to be approved by the court, and I don’t recall a definitive answer being given. And by contrast, the court seemed much more concerned about discussion of a complaint procedure regarding a sewer line. It seems as though the issue had already been decided prior to the meeting and that this was just a formality.

But the cause for my concern is this: I see on the news with increasing regularity that some local law enforcement agency somewhere – often a sheriff’s department – has acquired a piece of heavy military equipment such as an armored personnel carrier. I see police officers increasingly clad in tactical armor that was once commonplace only on a battlefield. It’s quite alarming enough in high crime urban areas such as Chicago or Detroit, but the thought of such a thing in Washington County, Texas seems appalling.
I just don’t think it’s the kind of message that Washington County wants to send, either to people visiting our community or to its residents. It’s just not who we are. We’re a rural county that thrives on our wholesome image – on Blue Bell and bluebonnets and rolling hills and historical landmarks. Do we really want people to infer from this that there’s a rampant crime problem that would necessitate military hardware? Is it really that dangerous to be in Washington County? If so, why would anyone want to come here?
I also have a problem with the overly-vague nature of the sheriff’s request. There were a lot of possible items thrown around in the meeting that could be purchased, ranging from the MRAP to desk chairs. That’s quite a disparity! And yet it was said that the authorization needed to be given to participate in the Texas 1033 program so that the sheriff’s department could find out what kind of equipment could be acquired (I say “acquired” because there was also some question as to whether these items would be purchased at a discount or whether they would be free. Both terms were used in the meeting.) That justification reminds me a little too much of Nancy Pelosi saying that we had to pass the Affordable Care Act so that we would all find out what’s in it. I refuse to believe that the items available to the sheriff’s department would be hidden from view until after joining the program.
There’s also this: why now? Sheriff Hanak himself said that the Texas 1033 program (or a predecessor program) had been around 25 or 30 years. So why the sudden push to join it? Why not ten or twenty years ago? What’s so important now? What are we preparing for? Or are the government office chairs and desk just so delicious and irresistible that we simply can’t hold out anymore? Is our sheriff department’s budget so strapped that office items can’t be purchased, even at a discount, from an office supply vendor? Should we be taking up a collection? Are we in danger???
As increasing police militarization and government overreach and overspending (on a national and state level, anyway) are an increasing concern, is now the proper time to be making this move? We, as citizens, are forced to wrestle increasingly with distrust of our government entities. Everything form the NSA spying on everyone (and then lying about it) to the erosion of our rights through “free speech zones,” imminent domain property seizures, random highway checkpoints, firearm confiscation, the forcing of compact fluorescent light bulb use and even over-zealous homeowners associations have eroded our confidence in even the most local governmental entities. And that’s sad.
I’m quite sure that Sheriff Hanak and the Commissioner’s Court are honorable people and that they don’t have any intent on causing mistrust in local government or law enforcement. But that said, it is very important that we guard against opening ANY door, no matter how slightly, for government abuse or overreach. And I believe that approving the participation in this program does just that. It offers military tools to local law enforcement, and call me na├»ve, but I believe that the function of local law enforcement is to protect its citizens from crime and to enforce local laws. I don’t believe that it should function as a paramilitary organization that further turns our country into a police state. The local police are not at war. And what happens when we have a new sheriff someday?  What happens if that person doesn’t have the apparent self-control of Sheriff Hanak?
It’s important to remember that we’re talking about a county sheriff’s office, not the National Guard here. If it’s drugs we’re worried about, there’s a federal agency for that: the DEA. If it’s guns we’re worried about, there’s a federal agency for that, too: the ATF. And if it’s terrorism we’re worried about, there are federal agencies to handle that, as well.  If there were riots in the streets, well that’s where the National Guard comes in.
I’m not anti-police – far from it, in fact.  I know several police officers and deputies and they’re all great people. My objections are not personal – they’re purely philosophical. It’s just that I’m aware that police are just people, too, and governments are made up of just people. And I know that it’s human nature when one has a tool or a toy to want to find a use for it. It’s not the tool that misuses authority. It’s people – even the most well-meaning or otherwise honorable people just doing their jobs. The officers who confiscated guns in New Orleans after Katrina were people, just doing their job and following orders. Cops who break down doors to the wrong house or use excessive force are just people doing their job and following orders. Bureaucrats that close National Parks and open-air memorials are just doing their jobs, following orders. Agents who spy on Americans on American soil without warrants are just people, following orders.
“You’re paranoid. That won’t ever happen here!”  I can hear it now. But who would’ve believed a few short years ago that the sheriff’s department in Montgomery County, not too far from here, would have its own drones?  Who would’ve believed that the federal government would record every single one of our phone conversations and track all of our internet traffic without a warrant? Who would’ve believed that despite protection specifically enumerated in the U.S. Constitution that people would try to disarm Americans? It CAN happen here, and it always happens incrementally and usually in the name of security. Here, though, we’re opening the door in the name of the potential of saving a few dollars.
Finally, it’s also important to realize that this isn’t a conservative or liberal issue. Do a quick web search for “police militarization” and you’ll find articles expressing concern from the entire political spectrum, from the Huffington Post to the ACLU to the Washington Post to the Cato Institute. A whole lot of people are concerned about this issue.

So there it is: the argument by the nutjob who thinks that the sheriff buying some used office chairs could lead to a police state. Who knows – maybe this really is all just about office equipment. Maybe the questions I raised are just me being a little too sensitive to the news of the world. But can we really ignore the possibility that this decision has opened the door, even ever so slightly, to police militarization in our community? And at the very least, can we all agree that without vigilance that it might be possible someday, and that that would be bad for everyone? I’d like to think that our local government officials would be willing to take the time to deliberate such ramifications.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Again... Why Does Everything Have to Be About Gay?

From The LA Times:

Starting in 2015 the Boy Scouts of America's policy banning adult leaders who are gay will cost the organization donations from Walt Disney Co. 
Though Disney doesn't provide money to the Boy Scouts' national or local councils, the Burbank-based company with major theme parks in Anaheim and Orlando provides small grants to local troops and packs, said Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman.
 Here we go again.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why Does Everything Have to Be About Gay?

I've read a lot of breathless punditry this morning about a bill in Arizona that passed the state legislatures and is now awaiting either a signature or a veto by the governor. The way the bill is being framed is that the bill specifically allows people who hate homosexuals from having to serve them because they are gay.  As usual, words like "hate," "discrimination," "anti-gay," "bigot" and "intolerant" are being thrown around by those who oppose the bill based on it being firmly against homosexuals.

But that's all just spin.

Read the bill for yourself here. It mentions homosexuals and gays a grand total of zero times. The gay lobby is simply spoiling for this fight and to cry "discrimination!" What the bill actually says is that an individual cannot be compelled to do something that violates his or her religious beliefs.

Furthermore, the burden is on the person making the claim that their religious beliefs would be violated. They must prove ALL of the following:


The gay community is up in arms about this because, as the Washington Post says:

"The catalyst for the recent flood of religious exemption legislation seems to have been a number of court cases that were decided in favor of LGBT clients who were denied wedding services. In August 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court said that a photographer who refused to document a same-sex commitment ceremony broke the state's anti-discrimination law." 

However, the way the bill is written one can  refuse to per foam a service based on religious objection to just about anything. Yes, this law would give someone who disagrees with homosexuality based on religious grounds the right to refuse to work for a homosexual. But it also does much more than that. Consider these scenarios that would empower people's right of religious freedom under the law:

• A Baptist restaurant owner does not serve and does not allow liquor to be consumed in his establishment based on his religious convictions. This law would protect his rights to determine the activities that occur on his own property.

• A church building or meeting hall is rented out as a reception site for a Satanic wedding or gathering of some kind. This law would allow the church to refuse service to the Satanists on religious grounds.

• A Jewish baker receives an order to bake a cake with Nazi swastikas on it. Shouldn't the baker have the right to decline the order?

• A Unitarian gay couple who owns a bed and breakfast refuses to allow a Catholic priest to spend the night at their inn based on his (and their) conflicting religious beliefs. This law would allow them to make that decision.

• An atheist ... oh wait. Nevermind.

Some of these scenarios may seem farfetched, but none more so than a photographer forced to photograph a gay wedding against his or her will.

This bill is about the protection of religious freedom. All religious freedom.

Can we please stop making everything about gay and race, please? And can we please stop trying to bully people into chafing the way they think by using the gay and race hammer, as well? That would be great.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gun Bans PROMOTE Violent Crime

From Brietbart:

"A new study published in the latest issue of Applied Economic Letters lays low nearly every claim made by gun control proponents and shines a light on the successes of concealed carry on a state-by-state basis.

Specifically, the study shows that less restrictive concealed carry laws save lives, while gun control can endanger them. It also shows that gun control measures like "assault weapons" bans do not reduce state-level murder rates."

In fact...

"Gius shows that the study actually suggests that "restrictive concealed weapons laws may cause an increase in gun-related murders at the state level."

This is a study of THREE DECADES of data, and it wasn't done by the NRA. Remember this for the next time the Lefties start trying to ban guns again (and they will...)