There is a most excellent point by Vanishing American called “Squandering our riches”. Upon observing that some literary classics no longer appear on library shelves, they also address how the rules in many libraries are ignored and those who would have followed them ultimately move away from the library itself. It begins a cycle where the library no longer preserves the best, but is reduced to a place to hang out.

A piece from the post:

It’s another example of the broken windows theory: the idea that when a broken window is ignored and left unrepaired, the whole building and then the neighborhood falls to decay. So when a broken rule or two or three are ignored, pretty soon everybody has it figured out: the rules are not taken seriously, nobody will enforce them, and thus anything goes. Soon the rulebreakers are in control, while the rule-abiding people have to go elsewhere to escape the chaos, or resign themselves to it. Another obvious illustration of this theory is the abandonment of our borders.
But standards, rules, borders, they’re all so elitist, so yesterday, so Eurocentric.

It’s all a manifestation of the prevailing liberalism of our time: it’s deemed unfair and elitist to demand conformance to rules. Only legalistic prudes want rules enforced, and besides, who are we to judge others’ behavior? After all, homeless people have to bathe somewhere, and why not in the library? And who are we to judge those who want to view graphic porn openly on the library computers? Or read trashy ‘fotonovelas’ in the library? Or turn the library into a hangout and free sidewalk cafe?

The dumbing-down of libraries is just a part of the dumbing-down of our society, part of the leftist war against all standards, against excellence and achievement and civilization, really. Excellence, high achievement, such things are too exclusive, too hierarchical, and to leftists this is intolerable. Anything which does not ‘include’ everybody, which is not demotic and egalitarian, cannot be allowed.

Definitely read the whole thing!

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Banner stance by the new chairman of the Republican National Committee : temporary legal status urged for illegal workers:

Backers of overhauling immigration rules began a congressional push Wednesday to give temporary legal status to up to 1.5 million illegal immigrant workers to provide a labor pool for U.S. agriculture.

The proposal is a recycled version of parts of a bill that stalled after passing the Senate last year. House Republicans blocked negotiations on the measure, sticking with a get-tough stand against illegal immigrants before the November elections.

Those wanting to liberalize immigration laws hope the combination of a Democratic majority in Congress, support from President Bush and a perceived backlash against anti-immigration rhetoric in the elections will help power the comprehensive immigration proposals.

“The reality is Americans have come to rely on an undocumented migrant work force to harvest our crops,'’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a news conference.

Under the bill, illegal immigrants who can show they have labored in agriculture for at least 150 work days for the past two years would become eligible for a ‘blue card'’ bestowing temporary legal status. Their spouses and minor children also could get a blue card if they already live in the U.S.

People with these cards who work an additional three years, at least 150 days a year, or five years, at least 100 days a year, would be eligible for legal residency. But they first would have to pay a $500 fine, be up to date on taxes, have no record of committing crimes involving bodily injury or threat of serious bodily injury or have caused property damage of more than $500.

The blue card program would end after five years, unless it is renewed. The bill would reduce the time it takes to get a visa for an immigrant who wants to come to the U.S. to work in agriculture.

Among those supporting the bill are Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., a chief architect of last year’s Senate immigration bill, and Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Mel Martinez, R-Fla.

Reps. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, and Howard Berman, D-Calif., are sponsoring the House version. It has the backing of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. and Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, a member of the Republican leadership team.

I would ask Sen. Feinstein to challenge the agriculture industry: is it simply the lack of workers that his hurting agriculture… or a lack of people willing to work for depressed wages (where illegal immigrants can not push for more).

Depressing.

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What with all of the talk of troop surges in Iraq and the Donald/Rosie tiff and the Ohio State meltdown in the BCS Championship game, you may have missed some very important news on Monday: it seems that Al Sharpton is considering running for President again.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said Monday he is seriously considering a run for president. “I don’t hear any reason not to,” Sharpton, 52, said in an interview during an urban affairs conference sponsored by another civil rights leader, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“If we’re talking about the urban agenda, can you tell me anybody else in the field who’s representing that right now?” Sharpton asked. “We clearly have a reason to run, and whether we do it or not we’ll see over the next couple of months.”

I agree. There’s no reason for Sharpton *not* to run. Of course he hasn’t got a chance of actually winning the nomination. And it’s not just so that we can hear clever lines like “Right now we’re hearing a lot of media razzle dazzle. I’m not hearing a lot of meat, or a lot of content. I think when the meat hits the fire, we’ll find out if it’s just fat or if there’s some real meat there.”

Back in 2004, he ran a nice short campaign. Didn’t have to break too much of a sweat. But he got to pick up $100K in Presidential Election Campaign Funds (although he later had to agree to repay the amount because his campaign violated the rules about the amount of personal money spent) and even got to address the Democratic National Convention.

Because of his name, he’s also guaranteed to get favorable serious coverage from the mass media. For someone who loves publicity (and gets a chance to raise money from others in order to get more)… he’s right: there’s no reason not to.

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When you ask anyone to categorize their intelligence into above-average, average, or below-average… I’ll bet that many more people will consider themselves above-average.

And if you ask someone whether they are wealthy, middle-class, or poor… most working people will consider themselves “working-class”.

That’s the nice part about using terms that are not really defined well (or re-defined depending on your purpose).

Anyway, you may just be about to find out how wealthy you are! Remember, George W. Bush last cut taxes for the ‘rich’ (which was another way to say that he cut taxes for people who actually paid taxes). And it’s pretty popular to invoke class warfare… let some of those ‘rich people’ pay the bills.

Now, CBS News is reporting: “Dems Won’t Rule Out Tax Hike On Wealthy”.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are not ruling out raising taxes for the wealthiest people to help pay for tax cuts for middle-income families.

We’ll just have to see how “wealthy” is defined when the dust settles: $500,000 annual family income, $100,000, $75,000, ??? …

I’m not against some fiscal responsibility in Washington. Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be spending with a blank check. But beware, until you hear about the real definition of “wealthy” - you might just find yourself in that group!

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Via the Associated Press, the report:

Immigrants arrested for being in the United States illegally may have been charged up to six more times, for more serious crimes, after they were released by local authorities, new Justice Department data indicate.

Additionally, a separate report also issued Monday concludes that the number of illegal immigrants deported after being declared a felon is on the rise.

The Justice findings by department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine examined the criminal histories of 100 illegal immigrants arrested and then released by local and state authorities in 2004, the latest complete data available. Of the sample group of 100, according to the audit, 73 immigrants were later arrested a collective 429 times on charges ranging from traffic tickets to weapons and drug charges.

The data suggest “the rate at which released criminal aliens are re-arrested is extremely high,'’ the audit noted. The report, parts of which were redacted, was required by Congress in 2005 and looked at how local and state authorities that receive Justice Department funding are working with the Homeland Security Department.

For years, the government was forced to release thousands of illegal immigrants who were caught in the United States because of not enough jail space and other resources. But last fall, with immigration as a key election-year priority, Homeland Security declared it would detain 99 percent of non-Mexican illegal immigrants until they could be returned to their home nations. The policy generally does not apply to Mexicans, who are almost immediately returned to Mexico after being stopped by Border Patrol agents.

The Justice audit, however, only looked at immigrants who were arrested and released by local and state authorities before they could be turned over to Homeland Security to be detained or deported. In all, 752 cities, counties and states participating in the program received $287 million in 2005, the audit noted.

Five states California, New York, Texas, Florida and Arizona received the bulk of the money, together pulling in more than $184 million.

Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield, who oversees the Office of Justice Programs that controlled the funding, declined comment on the audit, noting that it does not contain any recommendations.

A separate report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University showed that the number of immigrants who were deported as “aggravated felons'’ doubled over the last 15 years, from 10,303 in 1992 to an estimated 23,065 in 2006.

But TRAC, which obtained the data from the Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review, noted concerns that some of those immigrants never committed felonies.

“An individual can be declared an aggravated felon on the basis of a conviction on misdemeanor charges such as shoplifting,'’ the TRAC report concluded.

The entire (redacted) report is available here. It’s actually a very interesting read. A good portion of the material deals with looking at whether communities who received money as part of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) program actually cooperated with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Very interesting how some entities interpret cooperation - seems to vary greatly between areas.

Much like the experience reported earlier for Roswell, GA, many indicated that they do report suspected illegal immigrants to ICE when they are arrested for other reasons, but don’t get much response.

“Our experience has shown that ICE is not going to respond anyway.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “On every occasion we attempt to inform ICE but ICE does not always respond.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Past history has shown that they will rarely pick the subjects up for transport.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Depends on nature of crime.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “ICE agents come into our facility on a regular basis and review our records of undocumented aliens.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Sheriff’s deputies do not inform ICE. Detention staff will notify ICE if information obtained from a criminal history rap sheet or information obtained from our local database alerts [our] Department of previous contacts with ICE (releases to ICE or previously deported criminal alien).” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “This is a sheriff’s department function.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Law enforcement officers may contact ICE but jail staff do not. We have an ICE employee [who] regularly reviews inmate rosters.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
• “Most patrol officers do not have the time or know the number in order to inform ICE.” [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]

The study showing criminal recidivism is a very limited sample owing to the fact that it was difficult to mine the data, so the results, while quite shocking, are difficult to generalize across the population. More from the report:

After querying NCIC, the FBI provided us with nearly 433,000 text files that could not be searched by automated means. The volume of files was too great to search manually and quantify the results. Consequently, we judgmentally selected a sample of 100 criminal histories, which we reviewed for evidence of arrests of criminal aliens subsequent to June 30, 2003. The criminal histories for 73 of the 100 individuals documented at least one arrest after that date. Those 73 individuals accounted for a total of 429 arrests, with 878 charges and 241 convictions. These figures represent an average of nearly six arrests per individual.
The charges for the 73 individuals ranged from traffic violations and trespassing to more serious crimes, such as burglary or assault. Some of those charges included:
• 166 drug-related;
• 37 immigration-related;
• 213 burglary, robbery, or theft;
• 40 assault;
• 10 property damage;
• 3 terrorist threat; and
• 13 weapons charges.
Based on this limited sample, we cannot statistically extrapolate the number of offenses committed by undocumented criminal aliens who were released from local custody without a referral to ICE. Based on the information available to us in the criminal histories, we could not determine the number of the criminal aliens in our sample that were deported, if any, and later arrested after reentering the United States. We also could not determine if ICE was notified before the criminal aliens in our sample were released from custody. But if this data is indicative of the full population of 262,105 criminal histories, the rate at which released criminal aliens are rearrested is extremely high.

Not sure if the FBI was really anxious to help or not, but it would seem that it should have been possible to get better data in order to examine a sample size larger than 100. At any rate, it’s very interesting in what it does show.

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It took Newsbusters to highlight that a Federal Appeals Court actually *upheld* Indiana’s voter ID law. Of course, I had to read about it there, because there has been almost no coverage elsewhere in the media outside of Indiana.

Georgia’s long-standing struggle over enforcement of enhanced Voter ID rules received significantly more play in the press… and it seems that the last step we were left with was possibly needing to go as far as to amend the state constitution in order to address some of the objections.

It would be interesting to understand how the Indiana law was crafted differently that made it “not too burdensome”. We know that providing state ID’s at no cost and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on education programs was not enough. I’m sure that there are some very interested lawmakers in Atlanta right now.

UPDATE: This is exactly the same scenario that I can see with various communities trying to create ordinances regarding illegal immigrants. Whether it’s Cherokee County, GA or Hazleton, PA or Valley Park, MO, or Escondido, CA, or somewhere new… eventually one of these communities will bear the financial and time burden of navigating the myriad of lawsuits. And when one of these ordinances is eventually judged as sound law, then it will have a cascading effect as it is copied by communities across the country.

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Back in September, I wrote about the case of Nohe Gomez Hernandez (aka Nohe Gomes Hernandez), an illegal immigrant from Mexico who stole the identity of a US citizen, Jason Smith, for use when filling out his I-9 employement verification. Not only did Mr. Hernandez submit the false name and social security number, he even had the guts to have the name “Jason” on his work uniform. The real Mr. Smith found out his identity had been purloined when the IRS indicated that he had additional unreported income (that earned by Mr. Hernandez at the Harrison Poultry plant) which he had not claimed on his tax return.

After the plot unraveled, Mr. Hernandez was charged with identity theft. His lawyers argued that this was not the case, because he did not use the information in a very narrow way to make fradulent purchases using Mr. Smith’s credit.

However, the Georgia Supreme Court disagreed, saying in a unanimous decision that it is indeed proper to charge him with identity theft, and leaving the two-year prison sentance in tact.

In a unanimous decision released Monday, the justices said Georgia’s identity theft law is not unconstitutionally vague, nor is it pre-empted by federal law.

The high court found that Nohe Gomes Hernandez “misappropriated the Social Security number of Jason Smith,” and that he “then used this misappropriated number to obtain a Social Security card and a California driver’s license in Smith’s name” so he could get a job at a northeast Georgia poultry plant.

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How many times have you ever filled out one of those slips to enter a contest somewhere, and ever actually read all of the fine print that’s attached? I’m sure that most people don’t bother. As a rule, I avoid those contests like the plague, because I assume that I have a lot better chance of having my long distance service changed or a flood of sales calls during dinner than I would ever have of winning one of their ‘wonderful’ prizes.

But buried somewhere in that fine print are usually some eligibility rules. You have to be over 21 to win that Budweiser beer mug. You. Whatever. And so it was with a contest that Toys-R-Us ran to reward the first baby of the New Year. But the winner of the contest was upset for being disqualified because she didn’t meet the eligibility requirement of being a legal US resident!:

Toys “R” Us Inc. is facing some heat after the company denied a Chinese-American infant a $25,000 savings bond prize in a contest for the New Year’s first baby because the girl’s mother is not a legal U.S. resident.

Yuki Lin was born at the stroke of midnight at New York Downtown Hospital, according to hospital officials. She won a random drawing held to break a tie with two other babies entered in the contest, Toys “R” Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh said.

The Wayne, N.J.-based company had said the prize would go to the first American baby born in 2007.

Although promotional materials called for “all expectant New Year’s mothers” to apply for the contest, Waugh said eligibility rules required babies’ mothers to be legal residents. Many sweepstakes have such requirements, Waugh said.

The prize went instead to runner-up Jayden Swain, born 19 seconds after midnight at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Ga.

The company’s decision — which came less than a month after it opened its first mainland China store, in Shanghai — has infuriated some Chinese-American advocates, who say the decision smacks of second-class citizenship.

“People are just pretty much outraged,” said John Wang, president of the New York-based Asian American Business Development Center.

Second-hand citizenship? Not exactly… being an illegal immigrant is not “citizenship” at all!

None of the initial reports indicated that there was any mistakes in determining the immigration status of Yuki Lin’s mother.

Ultimately Toys R Us reversed their initial decison and gave identical prizes to three children including Yuki… just to quiet the flap. And they are a retail chain who sponsored the contest in order to get some good publicity. It’s their decision entirely if it’s worth it to them to spend an additional $50,000 in order to make bad publicity disappear.

But it’s indicative of society today that we even end up in this situation.
(1) Toys R Us may have given in and decided not to enforce one of their contest rules… but it’s pretty amazing that many feel that if someone breaks one of the rules or doesn’t meet one of the stated criterion, that the first action is to moan and complain instead of taking personal responsibility.
(2) The fact that the person who didn’t read rules was Chinese, somehow meant that Toys R Us was inherently ‘racist’ in enforcing their rules. They didn’t disqualify the winner because of her ethnicity, but because of her immigration status.
(3) Illegal immigrants are not ’second-class citizens’, they are not citizens at all. And because they have chosen to break the law in this way, they also lose the protections that legal residents are entitled to. This is the one point that advocates continue to make blurry. They are forced into an underclass without workplace protections and other legal considerations because they first broke the law and are unable to truely integrate properly into society.

I hope that the prize was worth it!

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It’s official… Cherokee County, Georgia has lost its backbone and “has agreed to temporarily block a new ordinance that bans landlords from renting to illegal immigrants, after activists launched a legal attack against it“.

The other day there was word that they might not start to enforce the ordinances, set to take effect on January 1, because it seems that the impending lawsuits did the trick for opponents of the measures, making the County too afraid to actually enforce them.

UPDATE: The first legal challenge was reportedly filed by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Interesting, since apparently no one has actually been questioned yet under the ordinance.

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The new Congress was sworn in and Nancy Pelosi took over as Speaker of the House. As the news outlets like the Detroit Free Press noted, this was quite a cause for celebration (”It’s a blessed day. I’m so glad the Republicans are out. Look at the price of gas, man. It’s ridiculous.”) Even John Boehner said “Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, today is a cause for celebration.”

Despite my mild frustration over hearing all of the recycled campaign slogans repeated by the media about how the Democratic Congress is going to champion the middle class, families, and small furry animals — I know that ‘to the victors goes the spoils’… and they should enjoy their honeymoon while it lasts.

One of the post-election dust-ups was over new Representative Keith Ellison’s decision to take the ceremonial photo op posing with a Quran rather than a Bible. I understand the point of Dennis Prager (who did not deserve the villification he got over his comments), but to me it did not seem to be anything to be up in arms about. I am sad to see when tradition is thrown out, but not improved. And while I think Dennis is correct that the Bible has been the unifying piece that really has held the fabric of American culture together, I don’t feel that the Bible’s status is either enhanced or diminshed by forcing Ellison’s choice of accessory for his photo session.

So to this point, I had nothing to say about it.

I knew that it would certainly be mentioned yesterday, given the buzz surrounding the reaction to Prager’s earlier comments. But I was caught by surprise by all of the coverage of Thomas Jefferson’s Quran/Koran/Qur’an being used as the prop. In some way, it was suggested, the use of that book once owned by a founding father somehow put the situation to rest and trumped the opinions of anyone who was against its use.

I was even more surprised to see comments Ellison made about that particular Quran in an interview with MSNBC/Newsweek:

NEWSWEEK: Your swearing in is historic in some senses. How did you come up with the idea of being sworn in with a Qur’an owned by Thomas Jefferson?
Keith Ellison: An individual wrote a letter to the office … It was like, “Wow, isn’t that interesting? Here’s a book that was owned by Thomas Jefferson, a towering figure of American democracy” … Clearly [Jefferson] thought it contained information that he wanted to know about … It just demonstrates that at the very earliest moments of this country, religious tolerance was a principle that one of the Founding Fathers was relying on.

Wow! Never knew that Jefferson had a copy of the Quran, let alone used it’s principles to shape our country.

Ellison also invoked more Jeffersonian approval:

The very foundation of our nation, the authors of our Constitution impressed, is religious freedom, and the use of Jefferson’s Koran shows that the founders not only knew of the Koran but also used it.

Eh?

This is a pretty amazing revelation. And complete poppycock.

An absolute must-read comes from the Independent Conservative, who shreds Ellison’s sound bites about Jefferson’s love of the Quran. I won’t spoil the read, but I thought that I give you at least one treat:

Given Jefferson’s library had religious books from around the world and various times. His owning a Koran does not prove any reverence for Islam any more than his copy of “William King’s Historical Account of the Heathen Gods and Heroes”, which was a popular book of that time, but not regarded as something to revere.

While there is clearly room for any religious belief (including Muslims, Muslim-converts, atheists, or worse) for a member of Congress, and while every one of those members has every right to generate a little publicity for their pet ’cause’… I would be *very* careful before pushing revisionist history about the founding of the country and the importance of the Quran in the formation of America.

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