The Citizens’ Petition

In Maryland, people have been rallying in opposition of a bill that would grant some illegal immigrants the right to pay in-state tuition.  The state bill resembles the DREAM Act (which was recently struck down in Congress) in that it would grant illegals who have lived in the United States for more than 5 years and graduated from a high school here, in-state tuition.

Those in opposition are demanding that a referendum be placed on this bill and measure until the 2012 election, so voters can make the choice.  According to the Huffington Post, 55,736 signatures were needed…the group obtained 109,000 valid signatures.

Supporters of the bill are threatening to file a lawsuit and according to Casa de Maryland, (nice name, by the way folks) the signatures were obtained by misinforming the people.  They claim that ‘undocumented students only enjoy some of the rights enjoyed by other Maryland high school graduates’. HA!

I would like to know when our country got to this point? The point that our own citizens HAVE to petition AGAINST the rights of illegal immigrants, rights that would give these illegals advantages over our OWN citizens.  Why would a state be granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants when the process of a student from another state within the United States is difficult, grueling and more often than not, unsuccessful?  To be in this country with undocumented status is against the law.  So if this bill passes, we are going to teach our youth that other people who break the law will reap benefits from it because we should feel sorry for them and be compassionate towards them.  In addition to the illegal aspect, most state university systems are struggling tremendously right now to stay afloat and maintain lower tuition rates for legal, legitimate students…Why are we trying to flood the system and give breaks to more people who haven’t earned it?

If this is how it’s going to be, what’s the point of even being a United States citizen?  It sure seems like you get a lot more benefits by not being one.

Sex versus Gender & Government ID’s

My favorite organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, has filed a suit in Anchorage, Alaska against the state because they refused to grant a driver’s license to a transgendered person.  Apparently, this former-man-now-‘woman’ applied for a driver’s license but was denied because this person, referred to as K.L., did not undergo a sex change surgery.  The ACLU is claiming that ‘denying the woman a license that accurately reflects her gender identity because she hasn’t undergone surgery is unconstitutional’.  Personal beliefs aside, this brings up some interesting points.  Let’s take a look at the facts.

The ACLU is a strong proponent of equality for a wide variety of groups.  With that equality, the ACLU, along with many other organizations, insists that people be recognized for their differences whether it be race, religion, gender, sex, etc. (Don’t you find it interesting that a group that seeks to create equality across the board continues to sort people into groups?)  With that being said, sociologists have defined specific differences between sex and gender.  Sex is defined as ‘either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures’.  Gender is defined as ‘the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex’  Some sites also claim that gender is a subclass of sex.  Okay, so just to clarify Merriam-Webster, (and most sociology and psychology text books) says sex is physiological and gender is psychological.

Moving on. In actuality, this K.L. person is suing because the state of Alaska would not recognize the behaviors, cultures and psychological practices and instead wanted to identify a person based on organs and actual tangible body parts.  I must be missing something here.

I have to question what the argument is for gender being a suitable form of identification.  Sure, gender rights are protected by Human Rights, the UN and other entities, but gender is not a way to identify one person from the next.  These rights are in place to protect people, as they should be.  And I have to wonder how it would be applicable.  Say a transgender person is in a car wreck and unable to identify themselves at the scene.  A lot of chaos could ensue when a license states one ‘sex’ and a medical examination determines another.  And while this K.L. person may have female tendencies that does not make him a male.  When I go shoot a gun at the gun range wearing camo and Timberland boots, I don’t refer to myself as a male.  Hunting quail on a camping trip would not change this either.  And how about public places? Which restroom does K.L. use when out? Certainly he wouldn’t walk into a woman’s restroom because that would essentially be breaking the law.  So why would a form of government identification be any different?

Take out your license.  Look at it.  Next to your eye color, your hair color and unfortunately your weight, what does it say? Sex. Not gender.

Lights Out, Legislation Passed.

House Republicans decided that want to vote to repeal the act that placed restrictions on incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012.  The House of aRepresentatives was set to vote on it today, but its not expected to be repealed in the Democratically controlled Senate, and because the Obama administration strongly supports it.

It seems insignificant that we’re debating over the use of light bulbs when we have a huge issue with the debt ceiling lingering, among other serious issues, doesn’t it? But it really isn’t about light bulbs.  It’s about law makers and the outrage of the people.  Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) stated, “This is more than just energy consumption, it is about personal freedom”.  He has a point.

Who is Congress to say what kind of light bulbs we can and cannot use? And WHY?  In 2007, when the bill was introduced as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, it was passed on the appeal of saving the country $6 billion in 2015 alone.  Law makers also charged that it would reduce household electric bills by $85 a year– whoop-de-doo!!! [But who are they kidding? The cost of the lightbulbs would go up since the restrictions from the law would be placed on manufacturers and how they do business, so the true savings, or maybe even costs, is not known.)

What is most frustrating is that Rep. Upton (R-Michigan), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was the lead sponsor of the bill when it passed in 2007.  He has since retracted his support and says he’ll vote ‘yes’ to the repeal to ‘guard against government overreach’.  He also said that people’s outrage shows that free markets are what should control the pool from which consumers pull from.

So essentially, lawmakers are willing to pass anything and everything if it has the right ring to it and will do so quietly until people are outraged and take action.  Think of all the things that pass without us knowing that would probably enrage the hell out of us.  And you’d probably be surprised how many times people from your party vote a way you wouldn’t assume. This energy bill passed the first time in the House 264-163 and 65-27 in the Senate. I urge you to look into what is really going on. Because whether it be by light bulbs or due process, we are slowly losing freedoms.

 

You can track voting records for your representatives at http://www.govtrack.us/

Anger in Memory of Caylee

If you have a Facebook, you’ve probably seen the Change.org petition for ‘Caylee’s Law’.  The federal law would charge parents with a felony if 1) they did not report a missing child within 24 hours; or 2) did not report the death of a child within one hour.  As of July 11th, the petition had more than 700,000 signatures and is the fastest growing petition on the website’s history. People are, rightfully, outraged after not receiving the anticipated GUILTY verdict in last weeks trial.  Petitioners believe that the movement for ‘Caylee’s Law’ will create new protective laws and prevent such atrocities from happening again.

All of this sounds logical, yes?

 

Yes, it does SOUND logical, but when we demand that our lawmakers take swift action, laws are created in an inappropriate and haphazard manner, subsequently making good intentions have bad repercussions on down the road.  Laws as a result of tragedy end up so vaguely constructed that they can actually set the bar higher for the next similar case when the incident may not be 100% applicable.  For example, what if a child died while sleeping? Would the 1 hour still apply? Or how about an issue with overcompliance? Parents may end up contacting authorities immediately in the case of a disappearance when it may not be necessary, draining resources and exhausting law enforcement.  Not to mention that there are still ways around these time restrictions, like lying.

Think about some other tragedy-induced laws:

  • The USA PATRIOT Act
  • The Brady Bill
  • Georgia HB101, now known as the Better Bicycling Act (Google this: It’s actually quite comical.  Law makers created this legislation in response to the death of a cyclist who was hit and killed by a passing car (not the comical part, obviously).  The law states that vehicles must leave 3 feet when passing a cyclist now. Among many shortcomings, most importantly, how will this be enforced unless another biker is hit?)
  • The threats of the Obama administration on gun laws after the tragedy in Tuscon.

These laws don’t PREVENT anything, they just punish the offender AFTER THE FACT, which I know people want after the Casey Anthony trial.  But again, people wanted to see GUILTY pasted across Ms. Anthony’s forehead for murder.  Would ‘guilty’ on a formal failure to report a death verdict have satiated the anger of the trial followers? I don’t really think so.

We have learned time and time again that anger doesn’t create good public policy.  It creates laws that leave too much room for interpretation and judicial activism….and that is not what we need.

Sex in Class

Last week, Arlene Tessitoire, a mother from Massachusetts, was up in arms over a survey that was given to her two daughters in middle school.  The topic? Sex.

According to Tessistoire and her daughters, the two teenagers were forced to take a survey that questioned birth control and condom use, oral sex and number of sexual partners.  This Youth Risk Behavior Study required a consent form in order for the student to participate in the survey.  But not the kind of permission slip we are used to hearing about…

The principal of the school told the New York Daily News that the school “operates on ‘passive consent’ where students take notes hom for parents to sign.  If the school does not hear back, then consent is considered given”.  The principal admitted to distributing the survey and stated that it was indeed graphic but said they were required to administer the survey to fulfill a grant requirement.  He also stated that he takes no responsibility for the contents.

Arlene Tessitoire has filed a formal complaint with the Department of Education.  Her attorney is citing the Supreme Court Decision which upholds federal law that 1) parents have to GIVE written consent for any question to be asked of a student and that 2) parents have the right to determine moral and spiritual upbringing of their children.

This brings me to my many questions:

  • If the principal isn’t going to take responsibility for the inappropriate administration of the survey, who is?
  • Where do we draw the line of what is acceptable to ask a child without consent and what is not and why aren’t more parents disturbed by this?
  • Why are we in a time of ‘passive consent’ where schools are deciding that a lack of response means consent?

Have you noticed that there is no ‘passive consent’ when it comes to field trips or class experiments? If a child forgets to give his/her parent a permission slip to go to an amusement park, the consent is not assumed and the child is left behind for the day. Why are the circumstances any different with lessons?

The reality of it is that it has nothing to do with whether or not kids/teens are experimenting sexually and has everything to do with parental consent and the consistent denial of parental involvement in regards to what’s being taught in schools.

Undocumented & in the Limelight

Earlier this week, Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (and former senior contributor to the Huffington Post, among other publications) revealed that he is undocumented.  He stated that when he was 12 years old, his mother sent him from the Philippines with the intention of joining him, but she never did.  Vargas told ABC News that he never knew he was undocumented until someone at a local DMV told him his green card was fake.  Vargas is now arguing that he graduated high school and college, created a career as a journalist, interviewed some of the country’s most influential people and lived the American Dream…so why should him being an illegal alien matter?

Well Jose, let me tell you. It is no more complicated that you stated: it’s illegal.  In his statement to ABC, Jose said that he did things he knew were “wrong and unlawful” and used a “21st century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interested in my future and took risks for me”.  Vargas said he is ‘coming out now’ to fight for immigrant rights and passage of the DREAM Act. He concluded his interview with, ‘Call me what you want, but I am an American.’

Actually, Jose, you’re not.  You weren’t born on American soil, you didn’t come here legally and once you discovered you did not have a legal status, you still did not make an effort to go through the proper channels to obtain citizenship. 3 Strikes, and you’re out, buddy! Deportation is the only option.

I would like to know why he thinks he should be allowed to stay?

And not only should Jose be held criminally responsible, but so should the people who aided him, allowed him to use their address, obtain a false social security card, kept his secret.  What’s more, how did he pay for college? and to live when he was younger? Has he paid taxes all these years? If so, how? Sure, he was a minor when he arrived, and sure, he probably had it pretty tough. But he isn’t a minor anymore and he doesn’t have it tough now, so he knowingly broke the law, and now he needs to pay the price.  Just because you didn’t become victim to the system doesn’t transform your status from illegal to legal.  And what is even more frustrating is that he is using his public status to gain support to rally around him to make this a high-profile case and use the publicity to his advantage.

Who Isn’t Looking Past Color

Recently, there have been some companies who have taken serious heat in regards to their media advertisements. To me, it’s getting old. But I’d love to know what you think…

Last month, Naomi Campbell complained that a recent Cadbury advertisement was racist. She says they compared her (and her skin color) to chocolate. The ad said “Move Over Naomi, there’s a new Diva in town!”. [You can see the ad below]. Campbell said, “It’s just upsetting to be described as chocolate not just for me, but for all black women and black people”. Initially, Cadbury defended the ad, claiming they were referencing her ‘infamous diva attitude’ (which, let’s be honest, is quite well-known) and not her race. Ultimately, Cadbury removed the ad. Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) though, agreed with Cadbury, eventually stating that the ad ‘posed no real threat’ and was not racist.

Another company under fire is Dove. Critics and advocates for equal rights claim that it is offensive to have a black woman under the ‘before’ title and a white woman under the ‘after’ title. See the ad below.

SERIOUSLY?!? Do these critics REALLY think that a company like Dove would imply that you can scrub yourself white????? Please. People have also criticized that the black woman is heavier than the white woman, who is (still) the after. Yep. Dove wants you to scrub yourself white AND skinny.

This is comical. Dove is historically known for using women of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages. In fact- it wasn’t too long ago that they took the heat for using women who people deemed ‘not fit for modeling and advertisments’. (It’s true! People refer to them as the ‘fat brand’ and there are tons of articles out there criticizing the women and calling them disgusting.) To say that just because these women are standing next to each other some how means they are being compared to one another is simply absurd. Even worse? The attention this ad is getting. Google searches return websites with headlines like ‘Dove Turns Fat Black Woman into Thin White Woman’. GET REAL.

These companies to which we are referring are multi-million dollar companies with expansive product lines. Who are these people kidding? Do they honestly think that these corporations, in 2011, would risk publishing an outwardly racist advertisement?

Why are people looking so hard? By looking at this ad in a quick manner (which is what most do when browsing a magazine) I certainly would not take away that notion. People need to RELAX! Not everyone and everything is racist.

Baby No Gender & Why It’s Blue or Pink and not Gray.

It’s no longer new news.  By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about Baby Storm, the Canadian child born to parents David Stocker and Kathy Witterick who have chosen to keep the gender of Baby Storm a secret to all except their doctors and immediate family. They decided they would allow Storm to choose it’s own gender instead of giving in to the stereotypes of pink and blue, girl and boy.

I was surprised to see that when I googled “baby no gender” more results were generated than just those pertaining to Baby Storm.  Apparently, a Swedish family practiced the same notion in 2009 on Baby Pop.  Baby Pop had it’s gender concealed based on the idea that “was rooted in the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction” (1).

This experiment completely contradicts the argument that homosexuality is “not a choice”.  While gender and sexual orientation are two very different things, people have made the argument that they feel they should have been born a male when they are actually a female, and vis versa.  These experiments make an utter mockery of the idea that people are born with inherent desires and inclinations.

Furthermore, this isn’t a choice.  The parents of Baby Storm stated that “parents make too many choice for their children” and it’s “obnoxious”.  Pardon me, but choosing a gender is not a choice.  God (or the universe, if you’re going to argue that route) gave us specific equipment to differentiate us from the opposite sex.  There is no changing that, it’s not up for debate, and it certainly isn’t something that can be chosen or determined later on in life. (Ya get what’cha get, and ya don’t pitch a fit!).

I also have to wonder at what point these parents thought it would be a good idea to experiment on their own child? And what happens when this child goes to day care or school? Are they going to ban preschool workers from changing diapers or helping with bathroom duties so as not to reveal the gender of Baby Storm? And who’s to say that a child won’t wonder what gender these children are “check” for themselves?  And at what point will they allow Baby Storm to outwardly be who he or she is going to be? I also have to wonder at what age will they demand this baby make a choice? Surely they cannot go through grade school without some sort of determination.

The bottom line: These parents are using this experiment to make a mockery out of both science and beliefs and its’ at the expense of exploiting their own child.

Sources:
1)Article on Baby Pop of Sweden http://www.thelocal.se/20232/20090623/
2) Article on Baby Storm of Canada http://abcnews.go.com/Health/baby-storm-raised-genderless-gender-dangerous-experiment-child/story?id=13693760

Town Hall Meetings & Why You Shouldn’t Go to Them

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Town Hall Meeting”?? Democracy? Voicing your opinion? One-on-one time with your representative? Nope. Not me. I think…”Re-election”.

It may just be me, but I think that town hall meetings (here on forward referred to as THM) are becoming more and more popular, or maybe we’re just hearing about them more in a vile attempt on our representatives parts to reach us, the constituent, “the people”. It seems like everyone from Barack Obama to Rep. Gabby Giffords to our glorified city councilmen & women (a.k.a. State Senators) are hosting them.

Have you every been to one? Luckily, I have, so I can share my experience with you. As someone with an interest in North Fulton County, I attended a town hall meeting hosted by Senator John Albers. It was formally arranged with a venue, newsletter invitation and a decorous start time. I was greeted by about 5 other constituents and about 15 volunteers from the Albers campaign team (this I know because I was one of them). People were scattered around seats like a 3pm viewing of the new Fast & Furious movie. The Senator was then “introduced” (wait, I thought this was supposed to be some community get-together, not an event to honor a celebrity?) . He began talking to at the crowd few constituents that braved the event and there was a question and answer session to follow (brief, because whats to talk about?) Then we left.

Not much was accomplished, not much was established…just a little gloating on the part of a local politician. The same one that is “one of us” and “wants to hear from us”. I can say with confidence that 5 people don’t represent the greater population of Roswell. But BOY OH BOY would you think they did. Of course this event (yes, we went from THM to event) was highly publicized–with photos–and let me tell you, from the angle the photo was taken, you would have thought that house was PACKED!

That leads me to the why. Why do politicians host town hall meetings? They aren’t to sway an elected officials’ opinion on a topic. They may be for constituents to present ideas for officials to work on legislation for…but I’m not convinced. They may be an opportunity for constituents to complain about legislation that was passed during session (like, maybe about a bike law that was passed in such a vague fashion it makes you want to cringe because you know that a 5 year old could pick out the issues with the contents (or lack there of) of the bill) but the legislation is already passed, so there isn’t really much action that can be taken. That really only leaves one thing: re-election.

Town hall meetings aren’t about the people, they are about the politician. They are about looking like they are constantly out in the public, talking, mingling, etc. They are an image thing. It’s all about staying in the public eye. Thankfully, voters are wising up. Stepping up to the plate and doing their research and realizing that image isn’t everything and it’s more about what legislators can actually do for the community and its’ people.

Be Everything Michelle Obama Thinks You Should Be

If you are my Facebook friend, you may remember my oh-so-controversial Facebook posting/thread a few months back regarding Michelle Obama’s visit to North Point Community Church to promote her “Let’s Move!” initiative against childhood obesity. (Did you know that during her ‘lunch break’ at this event she had Jim&Nicks BBQ catered in? Healthy choice, Lady O.)  Well, here we go again…

The Atlantic Wire recently published an article by Adam Clark Estes, “Signs America is Losing the War on Childhood Obesity”, discussing Michelle Obama’s recent initiatives:

  • recruiting chefs to speak about healthy eating
  • teaching school children ‘fun’ exercise routines
  • advocating for new regulations to keep junk food off of kid’s minds (We will get to this in a momemnt, but parents will do WHAT THEY WANT in their home.  If they want to serve their child icecream for dinner on a Friday night, then they certainly can and ‘advocating for new regulations’ serves a purpose for a different agenda than that of ‘keeping junk food off kid’s minds’.

Michelle Obama’s small program hardly bothered me like the proactivity taking place across the nation:

  • Texas: 5 San Antonio elementary schools will photograph lunch trays before and after the students eat.  They will track intake and how much each student is eating. (Can you say Big Brother?? Sure, the information will only be disclosed to parents and researchers, but at what point does photographing a child and their food choices PREVENT childhood obesity?? Photographs are only recording ‘evidence’. 
  • Illinois: a state Senator suggested parents of obese children lose their $2000 deduction for children. (Ok, ok, I am probably the biggest critic of this entire program and now you’re going to tell me that children who are deemed obese BY THE GOVERNMENT will be TAXED-or not taxed- differently??)
  • Georgia: The Stop Childhood Obesity organization is using slogans to talk to children in their own environments.  Their most favorite motto, If you continue eating junk food and overeating, “you will die before your parents’. (This entire program is spearheaded by liberals, the same group of people who come up with a mental health disorder for every issue and as an excuse for every action.  If they’re so concerned about mental health, they may want to consider the fact that statements like this will encourage eating disorders down the road.)
  • Michigan: A little less than 1/3 of parents stated that they were open to child gastric bypasses. Low-income and minorities were more open to them than anyone. (So now were going to fight childhood obesity through the EASY WAY OUT, a.k.a invasive surgical procedures.  Ahh, I get it.)
  • D.C.: Michelle Obama visited different schools to dance to Beyonce. (I actually think this may be the most effective means of fighting childhood obesity.  The sight of this alone will make anyone never want to eat again.)

Let us not forget the position of Michelle Obama and her own image.  Michelle Obama claims to be a size 10 and quite fit for here 5’11 figure, however, studies have shown that her declared measurements are not possible.  She is more like a 16 with a hip measurement of 46′.  Sure, her arms are cut which is why she chooses to wear sleeveless dress and tops all the time, but in all actually, Mrs. Obama ain’t that fit. (See below.) 5’11 or not, she is not a figure I would like to mimic.

All fat that aside, Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If that happiness is being overweight, than so be it.  Whether it is healthy or it is not, it is a CHOICE that we can make and it isn’t something that should be monitored, recorded or taxed! It is a CHOICE that parents make for their children and it isn’t a place for any figurehead or government leader.

Besides, if we weren’t offering to pay for everyone’s healthcare, it wouldn’t really matter what diseases people developed because the government wouldn’t be footing the bill.  People would be held accountable for their own decisions and if they suffered complications from being obese, they would pay for it.