Guest blog: Imminent Rebellion: The Tar Pit

Editor’s note:  James Williamson, one of my younger brothers, an Ohio native who is currently residing in Alaska, submitted this guest blog.  This is his second guest blog article for Buckeye RINO, the first one (when he was a Utah resident) being “Imminent Rebellion: States vs the Federal Government.”  This is another chapter of the Imminent Rebellion saga, and there will be yet another chapter after this one, with this and the next installment examining the sticky subject of immigration.  For illegal immigrants and for potential employers, the circumstances that lead them to a point of convergence can turn out to be a morass for both of them.  The author asks that you put yourself in the shoes of the immigrant that skirts the laws, and then in the shoes of the employer that may unwittingly hire illegal immigrants.  Would you be able to extricate yourself from the tar pit?

Imminent Rebellion: The Tar Pit

First I would like to thank the Buckeye RINO for allowing me a an online venue to express my opinions and sentiments. I would also like to thank him for being a sounding board before I write to help me sort through what I want to say and how to articulate it.  Today will be the beginning of a two part blog on perhaps the steamiest issue of them all:  immigration.

The controversy over immigration begins with a very simple fact:  more people want to come here than current law will allow.  It sounds innocuous enough by itself but add some greed, corruption, and an insatiable desire to come to the land of opportunity and it becomes a complicated web that is nearly impossible to unwind.

Let’s imagine for a minute you are living in one of the poorer countries on the planet such as Haiti or the Philippines.  You make about $250 a month.  To rent an apartment you need about $100 and to buy food you need another $125.  (This is not an uncommon scenario in many places of the world).  Would you be content with $25 of discretionary income?  Let’s say now you are married and have two children.  Even with the combined income of both parents and grandma watching the kids you see little improvement.  Your income is now $500 but your budget looks something like this:

$200 – rent
$175 – food & expendables
$30 – electricity
$35 – bus fare
$15 – school supplies
$25 – clothing, furniture, etc.
$30 – discretionary

Do you like your life?  You live this everyday and if anything happens that causes you to spend more than $30 unexpectedly ruins your life.  So you hear that you cousin in the US makes $1500 a month working at a hotel.  Three times your current income with only one breadwinner.  You start to dream, then you start to salivate.  Your desire to leave where you are becomes unbearable so you find out how you can immigrate.  It turns out that you can’t get residency because your cousin is not a close enough relative to solicit you and you don’t have enough money to start a business and hire 10 people.  You aren’t a professional athlete or famous entertainer and you don’t have a college degree.  What avenue do you have left to become a resident of the good old USA?  The diversity lottery!  The US allows 50,000 green cards a year to be issued for the entire world to increase the diversity in the country.  (Don’t ask me the logic behind it because it doesn’t make any sense to me.)  So if you are extremely lucky and your country hasn’t hit their limits for immigration (Mexico for example routinely exceeds the limit to be eligible to participate) you might be able to come legally…  If you are willing to try every year for fifty years you might even have a 50/50 chance…

So your options now become stay where you are or find a way to get around the law.  Obviously many, many people have chosen the latter or I wouldn’t be writing this article today.  So how do they do it?  Well we actually make it fairly simple for them.  Get a visa.  Any visa will do, as long as you can get in through the front door you’ve made it to your destination and didn’t even need to hop the Rio Grande, you came in at the airport!  If you can’t get a visa it’s more complicated but where there is a will there is a way.  You can “borrow” your cousin’s visa or you can avoid the border crossings altogether and come in as a “wetback” (a last resort).

OK so now you are in the the good old USA.  It doesn’t really matter which route you took because regardless of how you got here you are in the same condition as everyone else that has chosen to do what you just did:  you need a job and no one can legally hire you.  Your potential employer wants to hire you but needs proof of work eligibility.  Your cousin tells you all you need is a driver’s license and a social security card.  Until recently you could get a legitimate driver’s license with your current passport in most states and still can in some, so you pick a state that has looser laws and get a legitimate driver’s license.  Now you need a social security card so you go to the social security administration and they issue you a legitimate social security number with a card that has “Not valid for work authorization” written on it.  Or if you fear being caught if you show up at a government agency you borrow your cousin’s number.  A guy only known as “Pancho” gets you a social security card with your real or borrowed number on it but without the annoying text that says your aren’t allowed to work and voila!  You can now show your employer a driver’s license and social security card!  Your employer checks your documents that seem to be legitimate (he can’t tell) files his I-9 and you have started your path to prosperity!  (Oh, and Pancho told you that he could also get you a US birth certificate if you need one!) At first you love your new lifestyle of generous cash flow and easy living.  After a while you hear on the news that Arizona has passed a new law…

OK now let’s switch roles for a minute.  You are an employer and Olga comes in looking for employment.  Every other Romanian (contrary to popular belief illegal immigrants are not all from Latin America) immigrant you have hired has been a working fool.  You interview and she produces a driver’s license and a social security card that look legitimate to you (honestly you can’t tell) and so you file your I-9 and put her to work.  The instructions for the I-9 explicitly tell you that you cannot dictate which forms the potential employee needs to show.  Even though you suspect that your employee may not really have work authorization the law prevents you from asking for a passport or green card because she has already shown you a driver’s license and social security card.  Time goes on and you are happy as a lark with your Romanian machine and they represent more than 50% of your work force.  Slaughtering and packing meat is a job that not many others will do at the wages you can offer.  You can’t really raise the wages very much though or your competitors will mop the floor with you.  Things are looking good for your business until one day ICE knocks on your door…

Reprint of Voinovich’s Senate speech opposing Kagan selection for SCOTUS

Editor’s note:  Last September, I, DJW, an Ohio native and Ohio political blogger who has, in times past, supported Voinovich candidacies in many ways, visited the Washington DC office of U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and came away from the experience very dismayed (putting it mildly) by the stonewall treatment I received.  The Voinovich staff likes access to some of us bloggers by distributing press releases to us, but it doesn’t seem to be a two-way street, as I was afforded no access to the Voinovich staff except for the staffer who turned me away empty-handed.  It made me regret helping Voinovich as much as I did.  Nevertheless, today I relent (temporarily) to reprint a speech delivered 8/3/2010 on the Senate floor.  I do so because I disagree with Elena Kagan’s nomination to become a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, and Voinovich’s speech in opposition is very well expressed.

SPEECH ON THE NOMINATION OF SOLICITOR GENERAL ELENA KAGAN TO BE AN ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

August 3, 2010

Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. I will not support Gen. Kagan’s nomination. I did not come to this decision lightly.

As I said last August during the debate on Justice Sotomayor, the role of the Senate in the nomination of a Supreme Court justice is to give its advice and consent on the president’s nomination with the Senate to judge whether an individual is qualified based on a number of factors. Among these factors are the nominee’s education, legal experience, prior judicial experience, written record, judicial temperament, commitment to the rule of law, and overall contributions to the law. Based on my review of Elena Kagan’s record, and using these factors, I have determined that General Kagan, at this time, does not meet the criteria for membership on our nation’s highest court.

The president deserves deference in his nominations, and of course presidential elections have a direct impact on the makeup of our judiciary; that is to say, elections have consequences. But, Senate confirmations should not be a simple mechanical affirmation of the president’s selection, especially when the nominee will enjoy a lifetime appointment. A senator is duty bound to conscientiously review the qualifications of the President’s nominee and make an independent assessment of the nominee’s qualifications.

Gen. Kagan is well educated, intelligent, bright and engaging and advanced quite rapidly in her career of teaching and law school administration, but one must ask, is that enough? I believe it is not. I believe a judicial nominee must have substantial experience in the law especially when that nominee is seeking a lifetime appointment to the highest court in our land. After reviewing her background, I believe Gen. Kagan does not have that relevant experience.

Gen. Kagan is the first nominee to the Supreme Court with no prior judicial experience since 1971, almost 40 years ago. While I do not believe that a lack of judicial experience should bar one from serving on the Supreme Court, I note that reviewing prior judicial service is obviously the easiest way to assess a nominee’s fitness for the court. This lack of judicial experience does not prevent her nomination, but, in my opinion, it does shift the burden to the nominee to demonstrate her other relevant experience.

For example, when the Senate considered Justice Sotomayor’s nomination there were over a thousand prior opinions one could review to decide if she was ready for the job; with Gen. Kagan, there are none. When I asked her to name opinions that she worked on with Justice Marshall with which she disagreed, she stated that she could not remember any individual opinion she worked on, much less whether she disagreed with Justice Marshall on any of them.

During our meeting, Gen. Kagan noted her service as solicitor general, another job I did not think she was qualified to hold, was the other relevant experience she possessed and I agree that it is relevant. Her time as Solicitor General, however, has been too short. Since President Kennedy’s solicitor general, Archibald Cox, only one confirmed solicitor general has served for a shorter time than Gen. Kagan. Gen. Kagan argued her first case before the Supreme Court less than a year ago and now we are going to confirm her as a member of that Court?

If you base her qualifications on her earlier legal practice, her experience is particularly limited. Gen. Kagan worked for two years as a practicing attorney. Justices Rehnquist and Powell, the last two Supreme Court nominees without prior judicial experience, each spent many years in the active practice of the law. Justice Rehnquist practiced in Arizona for over 16 years. Justice Powell was a partner in a major Virginia law firm for over 25 years and in practice for 38 years.  Gen. Kagan has two years of experience in private practice and one as solicitor general. I also think it is worth noting that the independent Congressional Research Service has found that on average, the 39 justices who lacked prior judicial experience had more than 20 years of experience in private practice. Gen. Kagan’s experience pales in comparison.

During Justice Sotomayor’s confirmation, I spoke about how President Obama’s standard for selecting judicial nominees based on what was in their heart flew in the face of our meritocracy. We, as a nation, aspire to hire people for jobs based on their skill, not on where they are from or who they know. Justice Sotomayor, in addition to her 17 years of total service on the trial and appellate benches, was in private practice for 8 years and was a district attorney for 4 years. Justice Sotomayor’s experience as a lawyer and a judge, her judicial temperament, and the fact that her opinions were within the judicial mainstream gave me confidence that she had the relevant experience to sit on the Supreme Court. Because there is such a limited written record with Gen. Kagan and because she has gone out of her way to not answer questions, I have no idea what she will do on the bench and whether she will be able to suppress her own values to apply the law. The fact is we really do not know that much about her views.

Frankly, I have been surprised by some of my colleagues who attempt to compare her to the famous Justice Brandeis, another justice with no prior judicial experience. Justice Brandeis practiced the law for almost 30 years prior to his nomination, much of his practice being pro bono in his later years. Furthermore, Justice Brandeis is widely regarded as one of the great legal minds of not just his time, but of American history, having developed numerous areas of the modern law from scratch. Yet again, Gen. Kagan pales in comparison.

In my meeting with Gen. Kagan, I asked her about how little writing she had published and she responded that she had more academic writing than other members of the Supreme Court. This is factually incorrect and misleading. First, this is incorrect; Justice Scalia is widely published with numerous articles and books, Justice Ginsburg went so far as to learn Swedish to co-author a book on Swedish judicial procedure, and Justice Breyer was one of the foremost authorities on administrative law with many books and articles to his name before joining the Court. Second, it is misleading because each justice publishes hundreds of pages a year in the form of opinions, greatly eclipsing Gen. Kagan’s academic production.

There are over 800 federal judges, many of whom clearly have the experience, intelligence and legal skill to serve on our Supreme Court. Additionally, if one believes, which I do not, that the federal judiciary is somehow out of touch with our society, thousands, if not tens of thousands of state court judges are out there with lengthy judicial records, many ready to serve on the Supreme Court.

As an aside, only a former law professor would think that the dean of a law school is somehow more in touch with everyday people than a judge. Everyday a judge is presented with the facts of everyday life and must apply the law to them. A dean in a law school surrounded by professors earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and donors worth millions and students soon to enter into a professional career never gets to see everyday life and is never faced with the factory worker, the farmer, or any of the hardworking blue collar Americans.  How is a law school dean more in touch with everyday people?

Some of my colleagues would like to have had a less liberal person nominated by the president.  My position is that this president will surely nominate a liberal. The most important question is “is that liberal nominee qualified to be a member of the Supreme Court?” I would argue that Gen. Kagan has been nominated based on her friendships and personal attachments with President Obama and others at the White House, not based on objective qualities that would indicate she is qualified to be a Supreme Court justice.

In closing, lack of judicial experience should not be an absolute bar on serving as a Supreme Court justice.  However, Solicitor General Kagan not only lacks judicial experience, but has limited experience as a practicing attorney with really only the last year as solicitor general and two years as a junior associate making up her entire practice. Additionally, Gen. Kagan has an extremely limited written record, which should make all of us unsure as to what sort of Justice Gen. Kagan might be.

Mr. President, for the reasons I have just listed, I cannot in good conscience support the nomination of Gen. Kagan to be a member of the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

— END —

Press release from Ohio House Republicans: Legislation urged for performance audits after Taylor’s audit of Cuyahoga County

Editor’s note:  This press release was issued on 8/3/2010.  Note the link at the end of the press release.  By clicking on it, one can see the report issued by State Auditor Mary Taylor’s office of the Cuyahoga County Auditor’s office audit.  The Cuyahoga County cronyism is duly noted (though it isn’t called “cronyism” in this press release–“overstaffed” is the operative word).  Cuyahoga County voters approved a new home-rule style of government in an effort to get a handle on the corruption, but the new government structure, by itself, isn’t enough to turn the tide.  As I wrote two years ago about the county’s corruption when endorsing Annette Butler for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, ” . . . there is a political dimension to the corruption that grips Cuyahoga County.  It has everything to do with the Democrat Party.”  Voters won’t see the hoped for turnaround in any significant way if the Democrat machine pulls off a clean sweep of a new round of elections in the county.  Voters need to elect some sensible Republicans who have vowed to bring an end to business-as-usual–not just the cronyism, but the shakedowns of businesses and other organizations brokered by Democrat operatives over the years that have made the region less economically competitive than other regions.  As I wrote following the 2008 elections, ” . . . corruption exists among northern Ohio Democrat politicians, it’s taking its toll on the region’s economy, and that re-electing those Democrats won’t solve the problem.”  In the case of the impending Cuyahoga County elections, “those” Democrats doesn’t literally mean the electing the exact same Democrat individuals that held office before, as new names of Democrat individuals on the ballots mean diddly-squat if it so happens to be that they are linked with the same Democrat machine that the county needs to break free of.  Elect Republicans, for it will be easier to clean house that way.  But I digress, as this press release is to promote legislation that will improve government transparency through the audit process.  HB 65 was introduced more than a year ago by state reps Todd Snitchler of the 50th Ohio House district and Peter Stautberg of the 34th Ohio House district.

Statewide Bipartisan Legislation Idle While County-Level Audits Reveal Cost-Savings

Taylor: Cuyahoga Auditor’s Office Overstaffed, Inefficient

Columbus—The Ohio House of Representatives minority caucus today commended Ohio Auditor of State Mary Taylor, who released a performance audit of the Cuyahoga County Auditor’s Office and reminded the House majority that the bipartisan cosponsored, House Bill 65—which would increase state efficiency through similar audits—has only received one committee hearing.

Taylor provided the county’s new charter government with nearly two dozen recommendations that could save county taxpayers $2,289,000 annually if fully implemented. “Cuyahoga County taxpayers deserve well-organized and efficient government services,” she said. “This report can serve as a guide to charter government officials as they organize the county’s new fiscal office following their election this November.”

“Today’s report identifies further faults in what has been revealed over the past two years as a corrupt local government,” said House Republican Leader William G. Batchelder (R-Medina).  “A close examination of the report identifies avoidable costly burdens to the taxpayers, such as overpaid, excessive staffing and a less efficient operation than in comparable-sized county offices.”

At the state level, Representatives Todd Snitchler (R-Uniontown) and Peter Stautberg (R-Anderson Township) worked to implement performance audits of state agencies through HB 65, which was introduced in March 2009.  When enacted, this legislative measure would require performance budgeting by most state agencies and ensure efficient state spending. However, to date, the proposal has only received sponsor testimony in the House Ways and Means Committee.

“Performance audits are a smart, effective way to estimate the effectiveness of government operations and are a practice that is frequently used in the private sector,” said Snitchler. “My legislative colleagues and I applaud Auditor Taylor on this valuable tool she has conducted to improve operations, identify cost savings and utilize existing resources in the most efficient manner possible.”

Last year, Cuyahoga County Commissioners and the Cuyahoga County Auditor’s Office passed a joint resolution authorizing the Auditor of State to conduct a performance audit of the County Auditor’s Office.  A copy of the complete audit is available here.