Happy New Year to ATiM (Again)!

Happy New Year to all of you! It has been a long, interesting road. . .

Two Years and Still Hanging On…Barely

Happy birthday, ATiM. Hard to imagine, but yes, it was 2 years ago today that our long lost colleague Kevin Willis put up the first ever ATiM post. In many respects it has been a long haul. Too much of a haul for some as, truth be told, we are currently a much diminished operation from last year. We operate now on what is basically a skeleton crew, with barely a comment on some days. Unfortunately I think the future of ATiM is much in doubt. But still, a special thanks to Brent for his daily efforts in the Morning Post, and thanks also to everyone else who continues to find the time in their busy schedules to contribute, and the fortitude to tolerate both the thoughts of those they disagree with and the rough and tumble that it sometimes produces. I wish there were more of us, but those who remain are a solid crew. Thanks.

Here’s to another year….I hope.

Immigration Reform-ATiM Style

I’ve been thinking about this post all week and trying to come up with a clever angle to get a discussion going.  After a few brief exchanges with some of you I realized that most of us probably support some variety of reform that leads to citizenship, so what’s there to discuss right?  One thing I’d like to understand more clearly is why some of you support open borders or how you think that would actually work in reality.   I’m also curious about what everyone thinks the chances are of the Senate bill passing first the Senate and eventually the House.  I’m not really expecting it to pass the House at this point but think it might squeak past in the Senate.  And also, at 844 pages with 300 amendments already offered isn’t it just another boondoggle anyway?

The first thing I had trouble finding was a good summary of the bill, I love you guys but I’m not willing to read that many pages of gobbledegook to come up with the gist of the bill.  I’m reading a book I’m really enthralled with right now and am not giving that up for ATiM.  The best summary I could find was Marco Rubio’s…………..funny huh?

Here are a few highlights:

This legislation contains the toughest border immigration enforcement measures in U.S. history. It is based on six required security triggers that must be achieved before the newly legalized are allowed to apply for green cards. These six triggers include:

1. Border Security Plan: DHS must create, fund and initiate a border security plan (within 6 months of bill’s enactment).

2. Border Fence Plan: DHS must create, fund & initiate a border fence plan (within 6 months of bill’s enactment).

3. Border Security Metrics: DHS must achieve 100 percent border awareness and at least 90 percent apprehension rates in high-risk sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border (within 5 years of bill’s enactment).

4. Border Commission: If DHS fails to achieve #3, a Border Commission of border state officials and stakeholders is required to create & implement a plan to achieve 100 percent border awareness and at least 90 percent apprehension rates in high-risk sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border (within 10 years of bill’s enactment).

5. Employment Verification: Universal E-verify must be implemented (within 10 years of bill’s enactment).

6. Exit System To Stop Visa Overstays: Visa exit system must be implemented at all international airports & seaports (within 10 years of bill’s enactment).
Modernizing

Conservative Economists Say Modernizing Our System Will Grow Our Economy And Create Jobs: The modernization of our legal immigration system will be a net benefit for America as we make historic reforms towards a more merit-based immigration system that will help us attract entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, skilled workers and people driven by the desire to build a better life for themselves and, in turn, create jobs for American workers.

Protecting American Workers: This bill protects American workers from unwarranted immigration for jobs that Americans are willing and able to do. For example, the proposal would not allow any work visas to be issued if the unemployment rate in a certain area is above 8.5 percent, which is the norm in many cities.

Highly Skilled Workers: After educating the world’s brightest and most innovative minds, we will no longer send them home to benefit competing economies like China and India; we will instead staple green cards to their diplomas. We will also expand the highly skilled H1-B visa program from 65,000 to 110,000 to fill jobs Americans can’t do. To accomplish the move to a more merit-based immigration system, we eliminate certain categories of family preferences that have allowed for chain migration and completely eliminate the diversity visa lottery, among other reforms.

Guest Worker Program: The bill establishes a guest worker program for lower-skilled workers that ensures our future flow of workers is manageable, traceable, fair to American workers, and in line with our economy’s needs. The modernization of our visa programs will ensure people who want to come legally – and who our economy needs to come legally – can do so.

Agricultural Worker Program: A new agricultural guest worker visa program would be established to ensure an adequate agricultural workforce to safeguard our food supply. This program will also allow current undocumented farm workers who have made a substantial prior commitment to agricultural work in the United States to obtain legal status.

And then it goes on to detail how the bill deals with the illegal immigrants here now.  It explains why it’s not amnesty, how they’re going to deny Federal benefits until certain criteria are met, what to do about children (dreamers) brought here unwittingly by their parents and how the path for  immigrants who came her illegally will be longer and more difficult than it is for those who chose the legal path.  There’s a lot in there, and you can tell where the compromises are.

Here are a few comments from various people here that I would love to hear more about and am also wondering what everyone thinks of the bill the gang of eight crafted.

Mark:  I am for need based immigration. I think we should permit immigrants with talent and skill to come here and apply for citizenship after five years. I think we should allow many more immigrants in toto than we do now. But I want them to actually learn American history and become acculturated and be fluent in English before they take their oath of citizenship. I want their knowing and proud allegiance to our country. And I don’t want extended family reunification – I want it limited to spouse and minor children.

I agree with George that immigrants are our lifeblood. But without selectivity, I believe we can get blood poisoning.

Brent:  On immigration, I am to the left of both parties. Our economy’s biggest growth came during periods of greatest immigration. While there is a correlation / causation issue there (were immigrants flocking to the US because the economy was great or were immigrants making the economy great?) I think we need an influx of young people to balance out the aging baby boom generation. Since we can’t go back and change fertility rates, well that leaves immigration.

McWing:  I’d give citizenship on day one, also, I wouldn’t have any language requirement though I would not publish anything official in anything other than English. A common language is important, IMO. And since I think the welfare state will collapse anyway, sure, let them have at it, though I dont think that is why the overwhelming number of immigrants come here, for welfare. I, perhaps naively, think they come here to live and work in a society who’s governent interferes in their lives less than where they came from. Also, they’ll be paying taxes, so the schools will be funded adequately. I hope the parents demand English only/immersion for their kids, to give them a fighting chance once they hit the working world. I don’t think the border states will be swamped, people move to where there are jobs, immigrants are no different.

Scott:  I am instinctively in favor of open borders and easy immigration. But that cannot coexist with the kind of welfare state that we now have. I suppose if you assume the welfare state as it exists must eventually collapse anyway, then accelerating it and getting on with the recovery process sooner rather than later makes sense. In which case open borders and immigration is even more attractive.

Perhaps more of you have weighed in and I missed it so I’m curious what the rest of you think and is there any chance that the Senate bill is a launching pad for the kind of reform each of you wants?  As a Californian with a keen interest in Mexico and it’s people I probably wouldn’t go as far as McWing, although I might be persuaded, but the bill looks a little constipated with stumbling blocks to me.

There’s been all sorts of coverage lately and I’ve read a lot of it but one of the most interesting to me was this email exchange Greg Sargent had a couple of days ago on Cornyn’s suggested compromise and perhaps thwarting Presidential aspirations:

This has put Marco Rubio in a box, and it needs to be acknowledged that Cornyn’s move really does threaten the prospects for reform. Frank Sharry, of the pro-immigration America’s Voice, explains why in an email to me:

“Cornyn is trying to box Rubio in, and if he does, we’ve got a problem.  Cornyn is taking dead aim at hardening the triggers – threatens the path to citizenship in a big way – in hopes of dragging Rubio to the right. The problem is that Rubio going right loses many Dems. Dicey moment. Cornyn stepped out in front with a proposal for more border security in way that undermines the path to citizenship. Rubio either goes with Cornyn — to look more conservative — and threatens the bipartisan core support for reform, or says no to Cornyn and looks weak, damaging the chance to get 15 Republicans to come in board.”

In other words, Cornyn has undercut Rubio by staking out a position much further to the right of the Gang of Eight compromise that Rubio had been taking.

I’ve read, in a variety of opinions, that the only way immigration reform will pass is if Republican leadership and the big donors want it to pass and they’ll have to pressure Boehner to put it up for a vote and hope the Democrats will get it across the finish line.  I can’t help but wonder if that would finally be the end of Boehner’s Speakership though.

Anniversaries and a Local Connection to Libya

Hi All,

I’m really sorry I missed the Anniversary.  I wanted to bring balloons and a banner and have a real party but thankfully Scott wrote a nice post and the rest of you joined in with congratulations to ATiM and each other.  Next year we’ll have a big bash with music, speeches and lots of toasts.   I should be able to drink something stronger than apple juice by then.  I’ll just reiterate everyone’s appreciation of Brent and his morning reports and a heartfelt thanks to the rest of you who have taken the time to publish posts and participate in the comments and have also helped with the technical end of things.

Like many of you I’ve learned considerably more about subjects I wasn’t previously that familiar with, discovered interesting tidbits of information about each of you (an unfolding mystery), and personally confronted a few more short-comings in myself than I originally bargained for.  It’s been an interesting endeavor, so thanks everyone.  It’s true; I did tell Scott I hated him once (thanks for telling everyone….lol), about three years ago.  What he forgot to mention, or may have simply forgotten, is that I also apologized right away.  I realized even then, that although we were strangers (much more so then than now) and I didn’t appreciate or like what he was saying, he certainly didn’t deserve my hate.  I was embarrassed I’d even said it as I had gotten caught up in the moment of a heated exchange on health care reform, something I am very passionate about.  No excuses though, even as a few come to mind…………………….hahahahaha.

It’s been a rough year for me health wise, and I’ve been away from ATiM almost as much as I’ve been around.  I’m hopeful all that’s behind me now once I get caught up on my sleep and finish this last round of antibiotics, which I’m having a little trouble keeping down………yuck.   What I learned in the past six or seven months is that my efforts at being healthy my entire adult life didn’t protect me from a health threat I hadn’t anticipated or an unexpected depletion of our funds set aside for emergencies.  What I thought was, and probably should have been, a fairly routine bout of food poisoning in March got very complicated and damn near killed me.   It should be a lesson to all of us that we shouldn’t take our good fortune or good health for granted.   I do feel grateful though that I had some excellent doctors and nurses treating me, even though there were times they seemed more than a little stymied (slightly terrifying), and that I will recover and be as good as new again.  Well, as new as any 62 year old can be, that is.  I’m very cognizant of the fact there are a lot of people who can’t say that with certainty so I feel particularly blessed and more than a little bit lucky right now.

I was in the hospital last week with no access to the internet but I did follow the news a little and read the local newspaper.  I became fascinated with the story behind the so-called film that started, or was blamed for starting, all the trouble in the Middle East.  I’m a big proponent of free speech, as we all are, but it’s a shame so much of this tragedy swirls around what was essentially an alleged con-artist’s effort to stir up trouble and probably rip a few investors off.  I’m speculating here a little but I did have time yesterday to do some research, in between naps……lol.  I don’t know if anyone here has already covered this ground or not, as I haven’t had the chance to read through all the comments yet, but here are a few stories that I found particularly compelling.

Some of you may remember I commented here a couple of times that I quit participating in our local city council meetings and citizen commissions a couple of years ago when our conservative city aligned itself with Arizona’s volatile immigration bill.  One of the reasons I became so disillusioned was because there were outsiders (out of state even) around town agitating community members and our council members were swayed by their arguments.  One day last week I saw this guy’s photo in the paper and recognized him as one of those outsiders.  At the same time all of this was going on in 2010 some anti-Obama/anti-Muslim protesters set up a table just outside of the Post Office handing out fliers and propaganda and generally trying to stir up trouble.  Here’s the local story on this Klein character with the photo I saw.  And apparently the film maker is a CA man as well.

Steven Klein, owner of Wise Home Insurance Services, said he believes Muslim extremists control most of the mosques across the United States and that his intention is only to tell the truth.

A Cal State San Bernardino center that monitors extremist groups describes Klein as part of a national anti-Muslim hate movement.

Klein said he founded a group called Courageous Christians United after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks spurred him to get involved in what he called educating people about Islam. He said he later handed the group over to another person.

He then founded Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, which also educates people about Islam, he said.

Although he has distributed literature about Islam, Klein said he did not attend protests against the building of a new mosque in Temecula in 2010.

But he said he and other members of Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment distributed leaflets on Islam in high schools across Southern California, including in Temecula, Corona, Murrieta, Norco and Menifee.

Klein said he has written on issues other than Islam, targeting illegal immigration, gays and lesbians serving in the military and Mormonism. But he said he has not attended or organized demonstrations on those issues.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate activity, on Wednesday put out a dossier on Klein. The center quotes him from his Facebook page in 2011 as saying Muslims “are a cancer that WILL attack us and KILL as many as they can to further the Islamic doctrine of Sharia law … Beware, there IS a holy war coming.”

I’m tempted to email all of these stories to the council members and my friend who is the Mayor Pro Tem right now, but I promised my husband I would stay out of it.  Small town politics can get pretty ugly as I’ve discovered anew in the last four years.

Here’s another piece I read that details more on the film-maker and highlights rather obviously that the initial media reports weren’t exactly accurate.  Apparently he’s a convicted meth cooker and scam artist still on probation and not of Israeli origin.  No wonder he went into hiding.

As an example of the early reporting, here is the opening of a top story in the Los Angeles Times, based on AP reporting: “An Israeli filmmaker based in California who made a movie belittling Islam’s prophet Muhammad that has ignited Middle East riots and led to the death of the U.S. ambassador in Libya says he is in hiding. Sam Bacile, 56, who described himself as an ‘Israeli Jew’ who develops real estate in California, told the Associated Press by phone that he went into hiding Tuesday after assaults by conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya.”

The AP, in an early report, flatly called Bacile “an Israeli fillmmaker.” Even Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, published this under the headline, “Israeli Filmmaker in Hiding.”

The media accounts on “Bacile” slowly fell apart as the day wore on yesterday, as I documented here in update, thanks mainly to reporting by blog sites, including Gawker, Buzzfeed and Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic’s site. Then last night, the AP weighed in with an excellent report that seemed to track down the real Bacile, using some fine investigative techniques, and outed him as one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (Basseley=Bacile, for one thing) in Cerritos, California.

And lastly, the LA Times with a little more background on the film’s producers.  A convict and an agitator deny their culpability now that the shit has hit the fan.

One ran a low-profile Christian charity from a sleepy suburb east of Los Angeles. The other was a financially strapped gas station operator just out of federal prison.

In the last year, these men, both Egyptian immigrants, became unlikely collaborators in an endeavor that has shaken the stability of the Middle East.

Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, the president of the Duarte-based charity Media for Christ, and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted felon from Cerritos, emerged Thursday as forces behind “Innocence of Muslims.”

Both men appeared to have gone into hiding Thursday. As the furor over the film grew, they and their associates have distanced themselves from the production. Nakoula told the Associated Press he was a logistics manager on the movie, not the director. He told a Coptic bishop Thursday that he had no role in it, the clergyman told The Times.

“He denied completely any involvement,” said Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles.

He [Nakoula] was convicted on state drug charges in 1997. In 2010, he was convicted in an identity theft scheme. According to the court file, Nakoula, who ran gas stations in Hawaiian Gardens, operated under a dizzying array of aliases, including Kritbag Difrat. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and was released last summer.

Somewhere in the links above is mentioned the lack of public interest in the film itself.  Apparently, there was a viewing of the entire film in a theater recently and no one showed up, literally, not a single person.  This kind of story is right up my alley but the really sad aspect to all of it is, of course, the loss of life.  The thing with free speech is that there are consequences and they generally rest on those who abuse the privilege.  Even if it is ultimately discovered, as the speculation now suggests, that the assault on the consulate was planned and carried out separately from the protests surrounding the youtube trailer of the film, the so-called film will always be associated with the deaths of at least four Americans.

Update 1……….I got a kick out of reading the diet and exercise talk among the guys yesterday but serious congrats to Kevin, McWing and FB’s wife for losing the weight.  Yellow won with the best comment though………OMG.  I’ve always been thin and not a big eater but I’ve gotten too thin this year and am trying to gain back some of the weight I lost.  I was doing pretty well and heading back up to 125 until a little over a week ago, now I get to start all over again as I weighed in at 115 this morning.  I’m still just under 5’9” and big boned so need to get back to about 135 if possible as that’s my healthy weight.  My husband got up to about 235 at 6’2” about 5 or 6 years ago but when he was diagnosed with gout he went on a really strict diet I designed for him and he really lost the extra pounds fast and eliminated the gout as well.  He’s around 200 now which seems to be maintainable and no complaints from the doctors, he’s a swimmer like me and we both ride the stationary bike and I walk our dog most days.  He missed a lot of his workouts earlier this year because of a broken leg but just cut his calories down to make up for it and it seemed to work.  I do most of the cooking and I can tell when he’s gaining a little weight so I just cook a bit differently and he doesn’t even seem to notice……….hahahaha.  I also know when he sneaks out to get a hamburger on the way to the bank or post office and cut back accordingly.

Update 2………….Just read this interview.  I think maybe someone should just wire Romney’s jaw shut at this point.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the film that seems to have sparked all this, the Innocence of Muslims film? Secretary Clinton today said she thought it was disgusting. How would you describe it?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I haven’t seen the film. I don’t intend to see it. I you know, I think it’s dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say. And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn’t do it. Of course, we have a First Amendment. And under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do. They have the right to do that, but it’s not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve seen General Martin Dempsey call Pastor Jones to say, “Please don’t promote this film.” You think that’s a good idea?

MITT ROMNEY: I think the whole film is a terrible idea. I think him making it, promoting it showing it is disrespectful to people of other faiths. I don’t think that should happen. I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment– the good judgment– not to be– not to offend other peoples’ faiths. It’s a very bad thing, I think, this guy’s doing.

Happy Saturday everyone!!!!!!!!!

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