Archive for October, 2011

DOJ Seeking Halt to South Carolina’s New Immigration Law

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Don’t tell me, let me guess — Kris Kobach wrote this one too, right? Or at least “contributed” to it, as it’s modeled on Arizona’s law.

South Carolina’s immigration law requires all police officers to verify the immigration status of anyone they detain, whether it is for a speeding ticket or a murder charge. The law also creates a statewide Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit under the Online Blackjack supervision of the S.C. Department of Public Safety, which also oversees the highway patrol.

I wonder how much money the South Carolina legislature has budgeted to pay for this new unit. I wonder how “small government” conservatives can support this. And I wonder how much money Kobach is making off the taxpayers “helping” Alabama, Arizona and, likely coming soon, South Carolina defend his legislation.

Scott Beason on Herman Cain

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Here’s a quote from the Associated Press story on Herman Cain’s visit to Alabama, published without the slightest bit of context:

Scott Beason, a Republican Alabama state senator, said a Cain win, especially in the Deep South, would be a visible sign of progress.

“It would change the stereotypes play online blackjack at absolute poker that still exist about how people make their decisions down here,” Beason said. “I think it’s ironic that he will do better here than in the so-called enlightened states up north.”

I think it’s ironic that the AP would consider Scott Beason a credible commentator on racial issues.

Scott Beason: Not In My Backyard

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress that her department will not be helping Alabama enforce its new immigration law.  Which makes a lot of sense considering 1) the Department of Justice is in court trying to overturn the law and 2) the federal government has been a little busy deporting record numbers of undocumented immigrants over the past three years.

Of course, there was the usual screaming in comments advocating DEPORT THEM ALL, decrying Obama’s efforts to destroy the United States, complaining about all the communists in Washington, and fear-mongering about illegal INVADERS!!!!1!1!! No consideration of what it would actually cost in taxpayer money to deport 11-12 million people.

Today, Scott Beason weighed in, and he leaves me once again shaking my head in wonder that he can even find his way to Montgomery on a regular basis:

State Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, said the law was intended to push illegal immigrants out of Alabama, not necessarily deport them from the United States, which is a function of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that Napolitano oversees Pokies. Beason said her testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday was not a surprise and that the Alabama law was never intended to be a big referral service to ICE for deportation.

That will certainly come as a surprise to the DEPORT THEM ALL contingent.

“It takes away the attractiveness and the things that draw an illegal workforce and it’s beginning to have a reduction in the number of people coming here,” Beason said. “It was not designed to go out and arrest tremendous numbers of people. Most folks in the state illegally will self-deport and move to states that are supportive of large numbers of illegals coming to their state. We were not putting together a deportation scheme.”

“It takes away the attractiveness and the things that draw an illegal workforce…” Yeah, like farming and construction.  Because no one here in Alabama is in desperate need of home rebuilding or repair.  And we can ship in all our produce from Florida or California or (God forbid) Mexico. Just as long as we can ship our immigrant “problem” to other states.  Brilliant.

Showdown at the, um, Huntsville Marriott

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Just a couple of days after Gov. Bentley said he doesn’t want to be “the face of illegal immigration bills in the country”, his competition will be visiting the state.  Yes, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is coming to Huntsville on Thursday Friday to speak to the Alabama Federation of Republican Women.  The name of the program is, I kid you not, “HIGH NOON for Western summer time pokies Values”.

That dog whistle is so loud I’d think every canine in the state would show up at the Marriott were it not for the fact that most dogs are by nature loving creatures who don’t discriminate based on their humans’ skin color. I’m guessing Bentley will give it a pass too, lest anyone associate him with the hateful, racist immigration bill THAT HE SIGNED.

Connect the Dots

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Federal Judge Mary Scriven has issued a temporary stay of Florida’s new law requiring welfare applicants to take and pay for drug tests before receiving benefits (they get the money back if they pass, assuming they can scrape up the extra cash in the first place). Scriven, a George W. Bush appointee, expressed concern over how test results could be used:

The drug test can reveal a host of private medical facts about the individual, Scriven wrote, adding that she found it “troubling” that the drug tests are not kept confidential like medical records. The results can also be shared with law enforcement officers and a drug abuse hotline [emphasis mine].

“This potential interception of positive drug tests by law enforcement implicates a ‘far more substantial’ invasion of privacy than in ordinary civil drug testing cases,” said Scriven, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.

I’d heard about the drug tests – and about the less than rampant drug use they’ve uncovered thus far (out of more than 7,000 applicants tested, only 32 tested positive, mostly for marijuana).  I hadn’t heard that the law allowed the applicants’ test results to be shared with law enforcement. It’s not a stretch to assume those applicants wouldn’t be able to afford good legal counsel if this sharing resulted in arrests. Gov. Rick Scott campaigned for the law by claiming welfare recipients use drugs at a much higher rate than the general population. Did he think he could turn all those welfare-seeking druggies over to the police? And if so, to whose benefit?

During the same session that saw passage of the testing law, the Florida legislature voted to privatize 30 state prisons in the southern part of the state. Could there be a connection here? The legislature chose to go this “cost-cutting” route despite hearing good evidence that there’s a better way to reduce costs: actually rehabilitate people.

Unfortunately, a more productive and cost-effective approach to reducing Florida’s corrections costs appears to have been cast aside by lawmakers after some early enthusiasm. In January, Texas state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, was invited to Tallahassee to share the reforms that saved his state significant money by reducing recidivism while still protecting public safety.

The philosophy, embraced by many in the law enforcement community, including former Gov. Jeb Bush’s corrections director, Jim McDonough, is to invest in rehabilitation to reduce recidivism. This includes helping offenders control mental health or substance abuse problems and getting them the education and training they need to Pokies get jobs.

McDonough says statistics show that recidivism is reduced almost 40 percent with some degree of treatment, and it slides another 3 to 4 percent with every year of math and English literacy attained. The use of ankle bracelets and other forms of community control, instead of prison, also help keep nonviolent offenders attached to jobs and family while racking up major savings for the corrections system [emphasis mine].

It should be the state’s goal to keep the prison population as low as possible while still protecting public safety.  Raise your hand if you think private prison companies share that goal.  Anyone?

You may be reading this and thinking “duh!” I expect other people have made the connection before now. As mooncat notes at Left in Alabama, our very own Republican legislators are chomping at the bit to introduce their own drug testing bill. That and Alabama’s new immigration law, assuming it survives legal challenges, will pack our prisons to the rafters. Which will lead to calls for controlling costs. Which will lead to calls for “cost-cutting” privatization.  Which will lead to even more prison labor. Why pay a living wage when you can pay convicts a pittance? (Note the connections between the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Kris Kobach, author of Arizona’s SB1070 and Alabama’s HB56, and Corrections Corporation of America.)

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Florida’s mass privatization efforts have been blocked, at least temporarily, by a judge’s ruling that the legislature can’t hide its intent within budget provisions:

The legislature’s move to bury key details on privatization in the state budget is unconstitutional, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford in Tallahassee ruled. The 2012 budget provision changes the legal process for privatizing facilities and directs the Department of Corrections to replace state employees with private ones at certain prisons.

“This court concludes that if it is the will of the legislature to itself initiate privatization of Florida prisons, as opposed to DOC, the legislature must do so by general law, rather than using the hidden recesses of the General Appropriations Act,” Fulford said in the ruling.

So all the Republican majority in the legislature has to do is pass a law during the next session privatizing the prisons. If they get lucky with the Roberts court, they’ll get their drug testing back too. Then it’s full speed ahead. And coming soon to Alabama. Right now, neither Corrections Corporation of America nor GEO Group has any facilities in the state but I bet we’re in both business plans.

 

Everything’s Going According to Plan

Monday, October 24th, 2011

The Birmingham News is reporting that 256 people have signed up for temporary agriculture jobs through the state’s website. Wow, that ought to solve the farmers’ problems.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that undocumented immigrants make up 5.1% of Alabama’s workforce. That’s around 120,000 people who will need to be replaced. Now, not everyone who is looking for agricultural work is going through the state’s site. Cullman sweet potato farmer Kevin Smith says he has plenty of people calling him directly. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t conditioned for the physical challenges of farm work.

Smith said he has 10 or more people a day calling him saying they are willing to do the farm work, but he said most quit after a few hours because it is such intense labor.

“Most American workers aren’t in good enough shape. They can’t do this work. You get two, three or four hours out of them, and they’re gone. They say they can’t do this no more,” Smith said.

He said he has heard of the state program, but he hasn’t tried it because he doesn’t think he will get any better quality workers.

“I ain’t signed up for it. Why should I call them when I’ve got people calling me?” Smith said.

Smith, who freely admits he used illegal immigrants to pick sweet potatoes, said three-quarters of his crop is still in the field after his workers moved away.

“We ought to be half done or better by now,” he said. Smith, who is a strong critic of the immigration law, said his crop will rot in the first freeze of the year.

Tom Surtees, Director of Alabama’s Department of Industrial Relations Pokies, continues to ignore reality:

Surtees said he rejects the idea that Alabamians aren’t willing or able to do the difficult work.

“I think the governor referred to that the other day as insulting,” Surtees said.

“I’m hearing only the Hispanics can do this. Well, I’m saying who did it before them? Alabamians did,” Surtees said.

Yeah, Alabamians did it decades ago. Those Alabamians are retired or gone on to their reward, and I bet most of them encouraged their children to find less physically taxing ways to make a living. As I said in yesterday’s post, labor is not fungible. It’s not reasonable to expect former office workers to jump into backbreaking physical labor without a significant period of adjustment, and farmers don’t have time for that.

Surtees sounds just as out of touch as Kris Kobach, the Kansas attorney general Secretary of State who drafted Alabama’s short-sighted law:

“We’re displacing the illegal workers. That may cause short-term pain for some, but the markets will adjust,” he said. “It may be they have a season with some losses, and it may be that they have to increase their wages. But you’ve got something like 200,000 unemployed people in Alabama, and many of them are going to find jobs as a result of this.”

The farmers and their families are just pawns in the market adjustment. They’re not real human beings. Everything will work out in the long run, and if a few farms fail along the way…well, out-of-state agribusiness will be more than happy to take up the slack until the state can arrest enough Hispanics to put them back in the fields – as convict labor.

AL Gov. Bentley: “I don’t want to be perceived as the face of illegal immigration bills in the country”

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Well, then, maybe he shouldn’t have signed Alabama’s mean-spirited, short-sighted law. From AP interview:

Alabama’s governor is confident he did the right thing four months ago by signing a strict law that catapulted the state to the forefront of America’s debate about illegal immigrants. But he is declining most interviews about it because he wants his administration to be remembered for other issues…

…But Bentley, a Republican in office for seven months, said he wants to be remembered not as a governor who cracked down on illegal immigrants but as one who created jobs and solved problems.

He has a funny way of showing it.  Here’s a hint, Gov. Bentley – when you sign a bill that not only “cracks down” on undocumented immigrants but sanctions profiling of anyone who doesn’t look and sound like “one of us online free pokies“, severely damages the state’s agriculture and construction industries, and terrorizes school children, that’s pretty much your legacy.  You might as well own it.

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In today’s economy, the canard that unemployed people are just too lazy to get jobs is ridiculous on its face.  What is also ridiculous is assuming that kicking out all the undocumented workers (and scaring away documented workers as well) is going to solve the jobs crisis.  Labor is not fungible. A 40-or-50-something who was laid off after years at an office job is not going to have the physical strength and resilience, not to mention skills, to start framing or roofing houses or picking tomatoes ten hours a day. That’s not weakness or laziness; it’s reality. We are shooting our state economy in the heart when it already had bullet holes in both feet.

The Appearance Police Are on the Job in Alabama

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Wow, does Alabama’s new immigration law bring the haters out of the woodwork.  And I’m not talking about this woman:

Tiffany R. Morales of Jasper, who certainly appears to have some mental and criminal issues, called Gov. Bentley’s office on September 29 and told the person who answered the phone, “Tell the governor he has a bullet with his name on it.” She says her fiancé is an undocumented immigrant who has fled the state, and she’s unhappy with the passage of HB56.

Now, let me hasten to say that no one should be threatening anyone else’s life.  There’s no way to excuse this, although I suspect she’d benefit a lot more from some top-notch mental health care than she will from the possible five years in prison she’s facing.

However, her actions are no excuse for the vitriol that’s coming her way at al.com and the Montgomery Advertiser site.  One al.com commenter posted a link to the original Advertiser account in an attempt to get the others to see that she has a history of attempting violence in what can only be described as particularly self-destructive circumstances.  I mean, trying to stab a sheriff’s deputy while another deputy is STANDING RIGHT THERE? This woman’s not exactly a master criminal.

Unfortunately, the Advertiser story included a photo of the woman, and commenters were quick to go after her appearance. You see, she not only made the mistake of threatening the governor, she did it while not looking like a supermodel. Apparently her looks and her weight are fair game for anonymous folks who don’t have their own unflattering photos displayed next to their screen names.

Alpharaptor: That obese heifer psycho is angry because the only man that would have her heifer butt is an illegal Mexican alien jumping bean chupacabra!!

BelleII: Aw…Tiffany is just mad because she is afraid she will lose her “caliente latino lover”

Did Troy King succeed in closing down those toy stores? I think I’ll look into getting Miss Tiffany a gift certificate, if not. The Viagra problem is this folks: We have too many desperate, oversexed, overweight women in our state. Most of us that are somewhat normal will not give Jose or Javier a second glance….but then, you have Tiffanys everywhere, dressing up in Lane Bryant lingerie and beckoning Jesus over to her double-wide.

hueytown007: I would say jack the jail up and put her under it ! ….But I don’t think you can jack a jail up that high.

nosweettea: The illegal fled to keep from waking up in the morning looking at that thing. And a nut job is a direct threat to every one.

curvebo: If that hag likes mexicans so much then she should take her butt on down to mexico so she can have all of them she wants.

aubie86: I’ve seen some fine looking Mexican women as in HOT! Her husband needs glasses and the women is obviously a psycho.

I bet every one of those commentrs will be sitting in a pew tomorrow morning, professing their love for Jesus and their fellow man.

In a comment that’s much more relevant to the matter at hand, cluelessfossil wins the Comment of the Day Award:

I don’t condone what Ms. Morales allegedly said or did, nor do I condone threats and /or violence in any form, but I can’t help but think that if she had simply told the governor’s office staff that she was ready to “empty the clip and do what has to be done” she wouldn’t be in such a mess. Seems statements like that are perfectly acceptable in Montgomery. Or is that only when they are uttered by powerful Republicans and directed toward a powerless group of people? The irresponsible rhetoric emanating from those in positions of power and authority in this state sets a tone that fans the flames of hate and distrust and creates a smokescreen that hides the REAL problems facing the state and the nefarious schemes of the people in power.

Well said, cluelessfossil. I think you should change your handle to “clued-in”.

 

Outside Agitators for Me but Not for Thee

Friday, October 21st, 2011

US Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) is coming to Alabama tomorrow to join protests against the state’s mean-spirited, short-sighted immigration law. Here’s what he has to say about HB56:

“Alabama’s ‘papers please’ law has created a huge civil rights crisis for Latinos and all Americans across the nation,” Gutierrez said in a statement Friday.  “When people are scared to send U.S. citizen kids to school because a state has asserted its alleged right to sow discrimination and division, there is something very wrong in America.  When local governments deny access to water unless you can prove your status, when judges say you can only press charges against an abusive husband if you are willing to be deported, when a law turns neighbor against neighbor, we have to shine a spotlight on it and say: this is not America.”

Cue right-wing commenters at al.com squealing like stuck pigs.

Gnomie: He doesn’t belong here. How is he arriving? Do we need to meet him there with signs that say “Yankee Go Home”

trblmkr2: The Congressman, who is the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force. He sounds racist to me.

malefic: The immigration reform needs to start with deporting all illegal immigrants, denying and revoking US citizenship automatically to babies born in the US whose parents are not US citizens or who come here from another country just to give birth so the baby will automatically be a US citizen and securing the borders. It would be helpful, too, if liberal politicians, such as Gutierrez, could also be deported.

Alpharaptor: The most vile and guilty dogs bark the loudest!! Guess that means the liberal, criminal advocating, bleeding heart dogs, are guilty! GUILTY OF TREASON!

skytwzzlr: Gutierrez has no constituency in Alabama and his official office would not accept a call from anyone living in Alabama for that reason. Yet, he travels to Alabama to try to interfere with laws passed in this state. Why hasn’t the Alabama delegation filed a complaint with the house ethics committee?

Luis V. Gutierrez is a member of the Marist-Leninist Puerto Rican Socialist Party, the Democratic Socialists of America and the Progressive caucus. That he would come to Alabama to “march” shows that he is an outside agitator that is advocating for only one segment of the illegal population and that is illegals of Hispanic decent. This is not admirable behavior for a U.S. Congressman, especially one that has no ties to this state. I believe that he is nothing more than a publicity hound that is always seeking to get his name in the news and call attention to himself as a civil rights champion to further his ownpolitical and socialist goals.

So, to recap, protesting a law with which you disagree is TREASON! (if you’re a liberal). If you come in from another state to express an opinion, you don’t belong here (if you’re a liberal). If you come from out of state and you’re of Hispanic descent, you’re a member of the Marist[sic]-Leninist Puerto Rican Socialist Party (if you’re a liberal).

However, if you’re the Republican Secretary of State from Kansas who penned the law, it’s perfectly okay for you to insert yourself into Alabama affairs. Just so we’re clear.

Roy Moore Wants a Re-Do as Chief Justice

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

He’s baaaaaaacccck!  Former Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office in 2003 for being a self-righteous asshole refusing to abide by a federal judge’s order to remove his 5,280-lb. graven image of the Ten Commandments (the second of which prohibits graven images) from public display in the state judicial building.

Now he’s “seriously considering” running to regain that office.

Judge Roy Moore said Tuesday he’s seriously considering running again for chief justice eight years after being kicked out of the job for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument.

Moore, 64, told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that lots of people have encouraged him to enter the Republican primary and he expects to decide Buy Cialis by Jan. 1.

That sound you hear?  It’s me retching.

Let us not forget that this is the man who wrote in reference to LGBT people:

The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit [homosexual] conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution.   It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.

Of course, Roy also “seriously” considered running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, but he decided against it.  He actually ran for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2006 and 2010 – and was soundly trounced both times. We can only hope for similar results this time around.