Wow. Even some big-name Republican contributors can't stand Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III either. Facebook board member and prominent venture capitalist Marc Andreesen tweeted about Alabama's junior senator and slammed Sessions' statements on immigration and high-tech workers.
During a speech on the Senate floor last week, Sessions said "Why doesn't Mr. Zuckerberg call his friend (former Microsoft Chairman Bill) Gates and say, 'I have to hire a few hundred people, do you have any resumes you could send over here? Maybe I wouldn't have to bring in somebody from a foreign country to take a job that an unemployed American might take.'
In response, Andreesen retorted:
Outright slander from an odious hack. Mark has directly & indirectly created 10s, maybe 100s, of thousands of US jobs.
And then followed up with:
Andreessen went on to describe Sessions' comments on Facebook's immigration activism as seeming "clinically insane," stressing the number of jobs created by the social media giant.
Andreessen's criticism wasn't limited to just Sessions, however. He added a parting shot, saying Sessions' comments are the "kind of thing that will guarantee that the Republican Party never wins a national election ever again."
Mark Bray, the independent candidate running for Congress in the 5th district of North Alabama, stands with his fellow citizens who are dismayed by the recent unproductive remarks of Congressman Brooks.
Most citizens in the 5th district of Alabama understand the severity of the crisis at our border. They also understand the children are not to blame for their circumstances. The border crisis is complex and requires some flexibility and compassion to do what it is in our nation's interest while upholding our values to help our fellow man.
It is imperative that our leaders be able to express their concerns and solutions to problems such as the border crisis without resorting to making presumptions of motives. As citizens, we have an expectation that our congressman behave and speak in ways that honor all the people the district so that we may trust he can be productive on our behalf. The comments made today have not enabled the political discourse to move forward and have only served to divide and increase the temperature of the rhetoric.
It is my prayer we can move away from this rhetoric and speak to the facts and solutions rather than presumptive statements of motives.
Meanwhile, Congressman Brooks took to local radio to double down on his race war statement:
"What I'm saying is the Democrats have a political strategy where they try to appeal to the public based on skin color and they are trying to demonize whites in order to get Hispanics to vote Democrat and blacks to vote Democrat and to get Asian-Americans to vote Democrat," Brooks said.
Ummm... Democrats don't have to "try" to do anything. It's simply enough to use direct quotes from actual Republicans. Once they read bizarre stuff like this, voters are smart enough to figure out which political party is on their side:
GOP Representative Steve King of Iowa: “We could also electrify this wire (on the border) with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time.”
More Steve King: “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
GA Rep. Lynn Westmoreland referred to the Obama family as "uppity." "Honestly, I've never paid that much attention to Michelle Obama. Just what little I've seen of her and Sen. [Barack] Obama, is that they're a member of an elitist class ... that thinks that they're uppity."
Then he denied that it "meant anything." Hello... the man is from GEORGIA & Southerners know what you mean when you call a Black man "uppity."
The TEA Party & GOP's brief flirtation & hero worship of deadbeat racist Cliven Bundy, who openly mused that blacks "might be better off as slaves."
Judging from the public statements he's made while in office, AL-05 Congressman Mo Brooks is hoping to be named the "least effective Congressman in America." Of course though, that would surprise none of those who live in his district.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) doesn't think that the hardline stance Republicans have taken on immigration could hurt the party’s standing with Hispanic voters. Instead, he thinks Democrats are hurting their prospects with white voters.
“This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else,” he said during an interview Monday with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. "It's part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well that’s not true.” [...] Ingraham didn't seem to be on board with Brooks' "war on whites" remark, telling him it was "a little out there."
President Obama is a danger to "whites?" Not as big of a danger as Mo Brooks is to the Fifth Congressional District. This is a district supremely dependent on largess from the federal government - from cheap power rates via TVA to government contracts & salaries that rain green across the Tennessee Valley. Yet, almost from the day he took office, Brooks has gone out of his way to snub the administration and insult his Congressional colleagues.
Now, let's review Brooks' career in Congress since he took office:
During the 2010 midterms, Brooks scoffed at his opponent's focus on jobs for AL-05, instead telling voters that the main issue was "voting against Nancy Pelosi."
Mo Brooks said the US economy would be better off if it were "more like China." In answer to a question on business taxes, he argued that businesses in China have an advantage because of fewer regulations on air pollution, water pollution and waste disposal. "We need to level the playing field," he said.
During the final week of the 2010 campaign, Brooks was still insisting that the main issue was "Nancy Pelosi's job," not jobs for people in AL-05. "All of this is a diversionary tactic to encourage voters to not focus on issues of national importance," said Brooks, "to not focus on whether we want House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to win this congressional seat."
Having run against a mythical "government takeover" of health care, Brooks eagerly signed on for more of his "government run" health care after re-election, then voted against a resolution that would have required representatives to publicly disclose whether or not they accepted the federal plan.
In Mo's World, he explained to the Huntsville Times, Congress should cut federal spending - except NASA, defense, and anything that affects his district.
As part of his Congressional "charm offensive" (where he's not very charming, but really, really offensive), Brooks had to remove some of his comments from the Congressional Record after calling members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus "socialists."
Brooks refused to denounce the GOP presidential hopefuls who unanimously refused to support NASA during a debate.
Brooks said any of the Republican candidates so far seeking the White House would be better for NASA than President Obama. He challenged reports in The Times and elsewhere that Republican candidates are unwilling to support federal funding for NASA, based on their debate this month. "It was not a good forum to determine their actual position on NASA," Brooks said of the debate. Based on positions taken elsewhere, Brooks said so far, "you've got Mitt Romney and you've got Pawlenty" as likely NASA supporters. Note that both Romney & Pawlenty were gripping their podiums for dear life instead of enthusiastically waving their hands in response to this question: "Will any candidate raise their hands to support continued federal funding for NASA?"
Mo Brooks said we should do "anything short of shooting them" to "get rid" of "illegals." Don't agree? Brooks was ok with you being wrong: "Sorry you feel that way. You are in error," said Brooks."
If you knew the State of Alabama had an extra $142,000 to spend, what might you suggest? What if you knew the state had another $580,000 extra? Chances are, you won't spend it like Attorney General Luther Strange did - defending unconstitutional bills passed by the Alabama Legislature.
It was bad enough that the state got soaked with tons of bad publicity when the Legislature passed Scott Beason's folly - aka... the immigration bill. There's no way to know how many businesses decided to relocate elsewhere - particularly foreign companies who might not want their executives arrested, but one thing we do know: the state spent almost $600,000 to fight (and lost) just two lawsuits: immigration & TRAP. The fight over the Alabama Accountability Act is still in the courts.
When the federal hearings over the state's TRAP Law (Targeted Regulations Against Abortion Providers) ended in May, those final bills from "expert" witnesses for the state began to rain down on the Attorney General's office. As of 8/3/2014, Strange has flushed away $142,721.25. And for what? Just this past week, a federal appeals court struck down Mississippi's TRAP law and the opinion specifically cited the spurious explanation from the state that women could "just go out of state" if they wanted an abortion:
In explaining their decision, judges E. Grady Jolly of Mississippi and Stephen A. Higginson of Louisiana wrote, "Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion."
The Mississippi law "effectively extinguishes that right (to a lawful abortion) within Mississippi's borders," they said.
The ruling goes on to explain that if a woman has to go out of state to get an abortion, then that requirement places an "undue burden" on her.
Oops... let's recall coverage of the hearing in Alabama. See if any of this sounds familiar:
The assertion that being required to travel 100+ miles to obtain a legal medical procedure is an "undue burden" infantalizes poor women, the state's "expert" witness testified: That conclusion, he said "suggests women who are poor are incapable of planning and carrying out a trip of more than 100 miles to obtain something important."
Oh, and let's not forget this gem from one of our state lawyers. He wanted to know why women don't just get abortions when they have a few days off work? "Send the kids to grandma's with food! Do it while the kids are in school! Huntsville and Tuscaloosa both have clinics on Saturday so do it when you're off work!" Like women's clinics in Alabama are open 24/7 or that everybody has nights & weekends off.
Take a few minutes to read our coverage of the TRAP lawsuit hearings because most of these so-called "experts" who cost the state $140,000+ made some truly bizarre, entitled, and off-the-wall assumptions about the lives of women in Alabama. For this particular post though, we'll just point out how much each of them got paid. It's all in detail in the Alabama Checkbook, but I put it together in a single Excel spreadsheet here for download.
Dr. James Anderson
Let's even forget the financial aspects of this silliness and consider the long-term consequences. I keep hearing that we need to make our cities and our state more attractive to young professionals. We want to keep our educated young people in this state and attract more good-paying jobs. Is this the way to do it? Ask yourself why young professionals - particularly women - would even consider staying or moving to a state whose legislature proudly flaunts its xenophobia, misogyny, and contempt for public education.
The only way the state will change is if we the voters change the government. We can do that in November & a good place to start is by ditching Big Luther. Joe Hubbard for Attorney General.
We've gotten used to Alabama's GOP Congresscritters humilating the state every time they speak in public (I'm looking at YOU, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III), but this interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes hit a new low.
It turns out, Brooks isn't just gunning (or doing anything short of shooting) for the refugee children. He wants to take out the DREAMERs as well - children brought to this country by their parents who have grown up in the country and who know no other home.
Chris Hayes: "You want to see those 500,000 children deported?"
Brooks: "The issue is, who do you focus on? I focus on American families. I focus on American families who have lost their jobs and had their incomes suppressed.
Time to buy Brooks some glasses. But, if he thinks the causes he's pushing in Congress help anybody but wealthy contributors and deep-pocketed corporations, then a simple pair of bifocals won't cut it. The man needs some sort of eye transplant not to mention an emergency infusion of compassion and basic human decency.
If Brooks is seriously interested in helping American workers, he needs to quit begrudging refugee children food & shelter and do the work we're actually paying him for. Here's where he can start:
Raise the minimum wage. The average age of a minimum wage worker is 35, 55% work full time, and 28% support children.
Cosponsor HR-4679, (Stop Corporate Inversion Act of 2014) and stop American corporations like Walgreens from using a tax dodge to avoid all US income taxes at the same time their American stores rake in profits from American consumers. Alternatively, he can co-sponsor HR-4985, which does much the same thing.
Cosponsor HR-851 (Bring Jobs Home Act), which gives a tax credit to corporations that brings jobs back home to America and eliminates the tax deduction they get when they outsource jobs overseas.
But we know he won't. For so many in the GOP, there's a "glass floor" on their "concern" for American workers. Their interest starts - and stops - in the corporate boardroom.
I can't embed the video of Brook's interview here on the blog, but you can watch it here. And then weep for a country whose leaders think we're too poor and/or too mean to take care of desperate refugee children who have arrived on foot at our border. To be fair, these children are being treated better than many WWII refuges who came by boat. Maybe we've learned something about caring since then.
Sheesh... you'd think we have big signs up or some statue or something that invites "huddled masses" to come here and "breathe free" or something, wouldn't you?
We can't recommend reading the comments on this WSFA story about the possibility that some Central American child refugees might be housed temporarily at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. After all, y'all might be trying to eat & it's surely stomach-turning.
So let's just share some screen shots:
From the guy nostalgic for the days when we put American citizens in internment camps in the "dessert:"
...and please put a lid on all that Christian crap about loving your neighbor and taking care of the poor! "That's a personal value, not a societal one, you bleeding heart "libtard!" says a sweet Catholic girl. And... Benghazi! because... Obama... and mercenary Jesus....
Holy Hamas, Batman! These kids are members of Middle Eastern extremist/terrorist groups? Exactly how did the drug wars in Central America get mixed up with Middle East politics? It takes some really "amazing" analytical skills to come up with that one.
There's a conspiracy & you liberals are too dumb to see it.... I'm wondering... What's the "right" way to "imagrate?"
Welcome to Alabama, kids.
For the record, if these refugees are housed in Alabama, we'll let you know & hopefully we can assemble a real welcoming committee to show them the "Southern hospitality" we're all proud of. No tea will be served.
Nothing proclaims morality, religiosity, and "family values" like chortling with delight as a mob terrorizes children. But can we expect anything more from the Alabama GOP? Speaker Mike Hubbard took to Facebook to applaud the Congressman Mike Rogers' announcement that Alabama won't provide any temporary sanctuary for the unaccompanied children stranded at the border.
Let 'em eat Happy Meals & sleep on the floor, President Obama. The comments under his post were of the usual sewer-like AL.com quality. One of the least offensive noted correctly: "Alabama is a poor state." Yes, and we're also one of the most publicly religious, but when the Bible rubs up against the wallet, the Good Book always gets the worst of it.
Here's the Gospel According to Hubbard: "Suffer the little children to come anywhere but Alabama."
Why is this an issue? Because if you're going to run for office and tout your religious values to get votes, you darn well better embrace those values while in office - not jettison them in favor of political pandering.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor may need to rethink his position on unemployment benefits. After trying his best to ally himself with the TEA Party, although he declined to join the House TEA Party Caucus, he found his hopes for speakership drowned by challenger David Brat - an authentic TEA Partier who admires Ayn Rand, wants to bring Biblical principals back to government, and thinks God is responsible for his win.
Wow. We totally need another one of those guys in Congress, right?
Other than Cantor and any semblance of sanity among Republican primary voters, the biggest loser yesterday was immigration reform. Although Cantor ran a number of harshly anti-immigration commercials, he also told a talk radio show host that the DREAM Act was built on "Biblical" principals. It's a terrible thing in the GOP primary to sound compassionate:
"...there's a Biblical root and a tradition in this country that says we don't hold children liable for their parents' acts and when you have kids who may have been brought here let's say at 2 months old unbeknownst to them and they've been here all their lives and they want to serve in our military, my position has been I agree with that principle."
The problem here was that Cantor was trying to appeal to both sides, while Brat is "authentically" xenophobic. Voters will go for authencity every time.
Oh, another loser was whomever Cantor hired to do his polling. Internal polls showed him winning by 30+ points, but he lost by double-digits. Since 2012, Republican pollsters have had a lot of problems with statistical analysis and polling. With any luck, that will continue well past 2016.
Brat's Democratic opponent is Jack Trammell, also a college professor:
With Cantor’s loss, Trammell suddenly finds himself on a much more level playing field — facing, in Brat, a fellow Randolph-Macon professor and a candidate with a much leaner bankroll than Cantor’s.
In a statement Tuesday night, Trammell said Cantor’s loss proved that “Virginians are hungry for a radical change from the dysfunctional and reckless politics being practiced by those in Congress.” [...] Trammell is also a frequently published author, having most recently published “The Richmond Slave Trade: The Economic Backbone of The Old Dominion” in 2012. He has also served as president of the Blue Ridge Virginia Writer’s Club.
It will be interesting to see if Trammell can turn this into a real race. Virginia's 7th district is heavily Republican and politically conservative. I doubt he'll be running to the left, but he'd certainly be better than sending another TEA Party "brat" to the House.
Alabama has agreed to pay $230,000 in lawyer fees as part of a settlement of a lawsuit that stemmed from the state’s ill-fated, far-reaching immigration law, the Southern Poverty Law Center said today.
The state already agreed to pay $350,000 last year as part of the settlement in another immigration law case, bringing the two year payout total to $580,000 for plaintiffs' legal fees.
Today’s settlement is from a 2011 lawsuit filed by fair housing advocates and two individuals who were denied or facing denial of their mobile home registration tags, under a provision of HB 56, which the Alabama Legislature passed in 2011.
Since the official Republican line in 2011 was that the law had "no unintended consequences," I guess we can assume this is part of the supermajority's job creation plan - for lawyers.
Remember AL-05 Congressman Mo Brooks' famous statement that he would do "anything short of shooting" illegal immigrants? The AFL-CIO does - and so will those who watch Spanish language TV, where the nation's largest organized labor group is reminding Hispanic and Latino voters who their political friends are... NOT.
Iowa Rep. Steve King makes an appearance in one clip, referring to illegal immigrants “hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
And in multiple commercials, the AFL-CIO highlights Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks’s statement that he would do “anything short of shooting” undocumented workers in order to crack down in illegal immigration.
Tom Snyder, the AFL-CIO strategist who's leading the immigration reform campaign has this grim reminder for the party that lost the Hispanic/Latino vote by a huge margin in 2012:
“This is just a beginning. This is a down payment,” Snyder said, adding: “The Republican Party may control the immediate fate of immigration reform, but Latinos and other immigrants control the long-term fate of the Republican Party.”
The TEA party extremists, feeling secure in their gerrymandered districts, show in so many ways that they don't care about the future of the party as a whole.
Tuesday night's crowd at the Nuns on the Bus Civil Rights forum was so large that the event had to be moved outside. The 150+ people in attendance didn't mind. We had come to hear from a courageous group of women who amazingly found themselves fighting with their own Church hierarchy on the issues of poverty, immigration, and social justice.
NETWORK Executive Director Sister Simone Campbell was the first speaker and she described how the first "Nuns on the Bus" tour came together last year. The group had been lobbying against the "Paul Ryan Budget" that cut services for the poor, children, and elderly while giving tax cuts to the rich. Unfortunately, she observed, the 40 year old advocacy group wasn't getting much assistance from the Church leaders. So they turned to other faith communities and secular social advocacy groups.
Out of that meeting, on May 14th, 2012, the first "Nuns on the Bus" tour was planned.
Now, Sr. Simone continued, they're doing it again this year because we can't miss the opportunity: immigration reform is for the 100%. The strategy is to "stand with bold Republicans" and encourage other Republicans to find the courage to stand with them, reminding them that "welcoming the stranger" is a tenet of faith in all religions.
Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, a lobbyist for NETWORK, spoke next and emphasized the history that brought us to this point, concluding with a call for action: "This is our time! Not a time for sympathy, but a time to act!"
Other speakers described the issue of immigration in quite personal terms, describing their own experiences as immigrants and those of their family members.
Father Thomas Ackerman, a priest in Birmingham who works with Hispanic outreach, urged the crowd to remember: "We are a better country because we are a country of immigrants." He advised that the best way to discuss this issue with others is to put it in personal terms. This is an issue that affects families, splits families, and causes huge amounts of uncertainty and suffering. Tell those stories, he said.
Sr. Simone concluded the forum by stressing just how urgent the situation is and how we have only a limited amount of time to act.
"We want to raise a healthy tsunami of people to speak out and take action. We have a very narrow time to get this done. It will be on the floor of the Senate on Monday and we need a big bi-partisan vote coming out of the Senate to put pressure on the House to act."
She said she still has hopes of getting Senator Shelby's vote. Sessions? not so much... But we can't give up: "Welcoming the stranger is the glory of our past and hope for our future. Alabama, we're counting on you!"
Learn more about NETWORK at their Web site and follow the Nuns on the Bus tour progress across the country on Facebook.
Finally, kudos to Alabama State Senator Linda Coleman who attended the event and who mingled with the crowd, speaking for a while with Sr. Simone after the forum.
Video clips are on the flip, along with some photos of the event.
Well this is a great plan. Let's make practicing medicine even more difficult in Alabama. With rural hospitals closing, our Governor stubbornly refusing to expand Medicaid, and many areas already facing a shortage of doctors.... there's this little aspect of the state's immigration law.
Recently, we heard from several physicians who said they'd received letters from the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners telling them to send in a notarized statement that says they're either citizens or legal residents. Thinking that this was just too silly to actually be true, I did some research.
The medical license component did not kick in until this year. Already-licensed physicians and physician assistants now have only two weeks to get their information to the Medical Licensure Commission. Those applying for a license for the first time will be required to either demonstrate they are in the country legally or sign a declaration of U.S. citizenship and give proof, according to the letter. If they don't provide the information, they will not be able to receive or renew their licenses.
Nuns on the Bus is a project of the NETWORK Lobby, a Catholic social justice lobby that had the distinction of being reprimanded by the Catholic Church hierarchy for focusing on issues like poverty and hunger, while remaining silent in “the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States.”
Our nation’s immigration system is broken. Increased enforcement is tearing families apart and causing suffering for those who are otherwise willing and eager to contribute to our society. Our nation needs an immigration system that reflects our faith values and the needs of the twenty-first century. Such a system reunites families and allows workers the opportunity to come forward without fear to pay taxes and earn legalization. A functioning system will serve the needs of our entire nation.
(Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III. Bless his heart. - promoted by countrycat)
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected Alabama's appeal to consider the state's 2011 "show me your papers" anti-immigration law, formally known as HB 56. As a refresher, Alabama's anti-immigrant law made international news for its Draconian "self-deportation" provisions, including targeting the immigration status of schoolchildren.
From a political, economic, and moral perspective, the Alabama law and its "self-deportation" vision are a demonstrated failure that should serve as a cautionary tale of how not to conduct immigration policy. Yet despite the widespreadcriticisms and negative attention received by the law, not everyone has learned the lessons from Alabama's failed "self-deportation" experiment. In fact, Alabama's very own Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) - an enthusiastic supporter of HB 56 - wants to bring the failures of Alabama's immigration approach to the nation. At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Senator Sessions welcomed his allies from the anti-immigrant movement: Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, the advisor behind Mitt Romney's "self-deportation" strategy and the author of the Arizona and Alabama "show me your papers" laws; and Mark Krikorian, head of the anti-immigrant think tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the intellectual author of the "self-deportation" strategy. Evidently unaware that this strategy may well have cost Romney the election, Kobach went on to remind listeners that "self-deportation is not some radical idea. It is simply the idea that people may comply with the law by their own choice."
Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice:
It's truly remarkable that after all the backlash from the failure of the 'self-deportation' approach in both the 2012 elections and in his home state, Sessions is still pursuing it as a matter of national policy. If immigration reform fails and the 'self-deportation' proponents win, the GOP can certainly thank Sen. Sessions and his anti-immigrant allies for sealing the deal with Latino voters - negatively - for a generation.
As New York Times editorial writer, Lawrence Downes, writes in a new blog post:
What's the deal with Alabama? Besides HB56, which tries hard to outdo Arizona's SB1070 as the nastiest state immigration law in the country (and in many ways succeeds), Alabama has a United States Senator, Jeff Sessions, who is among the loudest of the die-hards now doing all they can to block, stall or kill immigration reform in Congress.
Evidently, Senator Sessions wants to do for the people of America what his state's anti-immigrant law has done for the people of Alabama. It's up to the rest of the country to tell Senator Sessions 'no thanks.'
A lower court's ruling striking down most of Alabama's HB 56 law will stand, we learned when the Supreme Court announced it would not not hear the state's appeal to revive its worst-in-the-nation anti-immigrant law.
It was two years ago that Alabama passed HB 56, a horribly strict "self-deportation" law that chased immigrants out of the state, required K-12 schools to report on the immigration status of schoolchildren, deprived immigrants of legal protection and rights, decimated some of Alabama's key industries, and left crops rotting in the fields.
Last year, the Supreme Court dismantled most of SB 1070, the anti-immigrant law in Arizona that HB 56 took much of its inspiration from. A federal appeals court then struck down most of HB 56. Now the Supreme Court has decided not to hear further arguments on the case, effectively closing the history books on the failed experiment of HB 56 and similar anti-immigrant laws.
As Pulitzer Prize-winning Alabama columnist Joey Kennedy wrote this morning:
Alabama's overreaching, harsh immigration law can't get a break. And that's good, because HB 56 doesn't deserve a break. It deserves to stay broken.
Conceived to be cruel to decent people, this hateful law deserves everything it gets.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the leader of our Gang of Hate, has always been a strong supporter of HB 56 (he's a big fan of self-deportation in general). The closing of this law's chapter should serve as another warning to Sessions and other opponents of immigration reform that momentum is not with them. History is moving away from them, and an America that wants immigration reform will be quick to leave their ugly anti-immigrant politics behind.
Alabama Republicans are on an Obsessive Crusade. Top priority is protecting the potential lives of the potential babies of the actual women who live here. Since 2010, Alabama Lawmakers have introduced more than 40* bills that, if signed into Law, would:
1) prevent women from accessing basic reproductive care, birth control, and abortion services;
2) prohibit private companies from covering Ladypart procedures they don’t like; and
3)protect healthcare providers from covering and providing medication/services which "violate their conscience," including the use of birth control pills to treat ovarian cysts.
Bills that restrict women and their families from accessing family-planning services are bad news for (duh) women, families, babies, and children. In case you've been living under a rock, here are a few reasons why:
They restrict access to basic Ladyparts Care, especially for low-income women. Some of these bills prohibit State or Federal funds from going to organizations that provide abortions. So if a clinic provides any abortions (take Planned Parenthood: did you know 97% of services are not related to abortion?), it is not eligible to receive any public funds to provide cancer screenings, pap smears, low cost birth control, breast exams, treatment for vaginal yeast and bacterial infections, or STD tests and treatment.
Also, just in case a clinic scrapes together funds to stay open, the latest bill requires hospital regulations, like making all hallways at least 6 feet wide. Maybe Legislators don’t realize that our biggest organ – the baby organ - still fits inside our bodies? Huntsville’s clinic, Alabama Women’s Center, will probably shut down.
They prohibit private insurance policies from covering birth control or abortion. Because having Ladyparts means never having to say “I’m sorry… but it’s none of your GD business why my doctor prescribed hormone pills.” Recent bills allow employers the right to choose… whether or not their employees’ insurance policies cover “birth control” pills. So not only are potential persons prioritized over actual persons, so are nosey-ass business owners! Surprisingly (just kidding, I’m not surprised), only women’s sexual healthcare is a target; no word on when they’ll introduce a bill to prevent coverage of Erectile Dysfunction and Viagra/Cialis prescriptions.
Additional bills prohibit private health insurance companies from covering elective abortions -unless they require an additional premium for an extra plan with optional coverage of abortion. So in case you’re planning on getting pregnant and having an abortion, better buy that extra coverage! Because having an abortion is always part of the plan, am I right, ladies?
They define embryos and fetuses as Persons, a legal definition that can result in cases of women being arrested and prosecuted after miscarrying. It already has. More than once. Multiple bills refer to the "Personhood" of embryos and fetuses, which sponsors have said they hope will affect using in vitro fertilization because the souls of discarded embryos may burn in Hell forever. (Seriously. Click the link.)
They undermine doctors and women by interfering with treatment and requiring medically unnecessary, costly procedures, such as the Government-mandated Ladypart Probe. Some of the bills require waiting periods and medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds prior to abortions (Side effects include indignation, pain, cost of the Probe, and hopefully, an increased desire to have babies). Other bills require patients to attend a specific number of office visits, and physicians to describe the embryo/fetus and “counsel” patients on alternatives to abortion - just in case OBGYNs and their patients have no idea what they’re doing in the clinic on Abortion Day. How helpful! Unless you’re missing work for the appointments, don’t want to be probed or pay for a probe, or trust your OBGYN is more qualified than an Elected Official Who Allegedly Attended Community College and Thinks He Knows More About Practicing Medicine on Ladyparts Than Actual OBGYNs.
At least Alabama potential babies and children have widespread post-birth access to healthcare, government assistance, and education. Haha! Just kidding. Alabama Lawmakers have introduced bills to cut eligibility for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), food stamps, and Medicaid, while simultaneously cutting Education budgets. Recent bills include eliminating eligibility for public assistance for adults who use drugs. I guess they think kids/babies of crackheads can fill out TANF forms on their own. Best I can tell, Elected Officials hope to increase the number of unwanted babies and prevent the most pitiful among them from accessing public assistance for food, shelter, and medicine. Republicans 1; Crackbabies 0. Hey, at least those kids will have a chance to suffer post-birth!
When women don’t have access to safe, legal abortion: Sometimes they die. Other times theyneed treatment for illegal botched abortions. Better case scenario: they'll live, as will their little unwanted baby, happily ever after, below the poverty level on government assistance – if they can still get it. So restricting women’s access to birth control and abortion may cost women their lives or health, and will probably cost Alabama taxpayers more money, but at least those potential babies were prioritized over actual Alabamians! But once you’re born, you're on your own. Don't worry, little Crackbabies, soon you'll be old enough to go to the privatized prisons.
Lasagna’s Tip of the Day: If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t get one.
* 2010 bills: SB49, HB39, SB335, SB365, SB361, SB457, SB366, SB312; 2011: HB573, HB557, HB558, SB308, SP298, SB281, SB201, HB18, HB178, SB46, SB322, HB41. 2011 bills: SB366, SB312, SB322, HB41; 2012 bills: SB27, HB739, HB418, HB223, SB6, SB12, SB20, SB96, HB112, SB5, SB10, HB375, SB105; 2013: SB205, SB130, HB57. This list does not include ALL bills relating to birth control and abortion, merely all the ones found in a brief online search at www.openbama.org (help yourself to look for more)
** Since 2010, 32 states have placed restrictions on abortion. Elected Officials in Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia (just to name a few) consider themselves entitled to make reproductive decisions on behalf of their constituents.
Taking a cue from their failed presidential nominee, the GOP establishment has decided to abruptly pivot on an important issue. The party that cheered for "empty the clip," "show me your papers," & "self deportation" has now seen the demographic handwriting on the wall. They want to "deal with immigration" and take the issue off the table in future elections.
That long, low howl of protest you hear is undoubtedly coming from Scott Beason.
...Obama carried the Latino vote by a 75-23 margin—more than the roughly 70-30 split indicated by the exit polls—with voter turnout in the demographic totaling a full 10 percent of the total vote.
According to Stanford University’s Gary Segura, the professor who conducted the poll, the Latino vote delivered 5.4 percent of President Obama’s vote total, considerably more than Obama’s final lead over his challenger in the popular vote.
And so now, the GOP flip-flopping is a breathtaking spectacle that would make Romney proud. Sean Hannity led off with the announcement that he had "evolved" on the issue. Evolution? Oh my....
Radio and television hotspur Sean Hannity — who for years has spit the word “amnesty” like an epithet — declared Thursday that he has “evolved” and now supports creating a “pathway” to citizenship for those already in the country illegally. [...] The Fox star put his animus toward the issue on display again and again. [...] He listened politely as right-wing virago Michelle Malkin suggested that Democrats wanted amnesty so they could “recruit more illegal aliens, so they can turn them into Democratic voters.”
But this sudden interest in a more moderate approach to immigration will face a good deal of pushback from the GOP base. They're already grumbling about it on right wing blogs like Redstate. For example:
The Tea Party tried working WITHIN the Republican party, it is time to go rogue and LEAVE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY in the DUST. THEY ARE THE Minority, not us. IT is time for MASSIVE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.
To those who preach moderation I say: look at the vibrant GOP in the Northeast part of the nation (and now California). Have you noticed moderate Scott Brown, incumbent, lost to the 1/32 Cherokee? Have you noticed that "the most electable" moderate Mitt Romney just got his (and our) butts whumped -- in an election that should have been a cake-walk for us?
We're not sure how this fight will play out, but one thing is certain. It will be delicious to watch:
“We’re going back to the party of Shogun-type dynasties, where the Tea Party has their coalition, and the moderates have their coalition, and it’s going to be a battle to see who comes out on top,” said Luis Alvarado, a Republican strategist in Los Angeles with expertise on Latino voting patterns.
And how will the Alabama GOP react if/when the national party abandons its "self deportation" stance? I can't wait to find out.
It's time to get past the name calling and get serious about reasonable immigration reform.
To that end, you don't want to miss "An Evening with Jose Antonio Vargas" at UAB Hill Center Alumni Auditorium on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 7 until 9 p.m. The (free) event features a conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas -- who is himself an undocumented immigrant -- about Alabama's immigration law and national immigration policy.
"I don't think we're having a conversation about human beings," Vargas said. "I think for the most part, we're having a lot of name calling, there's a lot of 'You're illegal, you're breaking the law, get out of here.'"
It's time to stop using immigration as a tool to gin up votes in election years and start working toward a reasonable, workable solution to this multi-faceted problem.
As so often happens when Senator Beason opens his mouth, he had no idea what he was talking about. As Bloomberg reports:
Republican state Senator Scott Beason, a sponsor, said at a news conference last year that the restrictions on undocumented workers would “put thousands of native Alabamians back in the work force.”
Instead, it caused a labor shortage that resulted in the importation of hundreds of legal African and Haitian refugees, and Puerto Ricans, according to interviews with workers, advocacy organizations and businesses. Most were recruited by the poultry industry, in a segment of the economy that has been a heavy employer of undocumented workers, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington research group. [...] Wayne Farms found Eritreans, displaced by war and conflict, and other Africans through East Coast Labor Solutions LLC, a Fairlea, West Virginia-based labor broker. East Coast has about 200 workers in Alabama, owner Ray Wiley said in an interview.
Most of these worker have landed in Albertville and I, for one, certainly hope that some of the African workers stay to open restaurants because Eritrean food is awesome!
But this article should raise a BIG red flag: these workers are being provided by "labor brokers" and the last time those guys were in the news, they were employing hapless "guest workers" in near sweatshop conditions in Huntsville at the Cinram DVD facility.
The workers are employed by Ambassador staffing agency. Ambassador distributed workers, upon arrival, among 20 local landlords. Circumstances varied greatly, but some workers reported paying as much as $300 per person per month to share a small, furnished apartment with three or more roommates.
In one case in November, The Times found four Jamaican women who paid a combined $1,200 a month for an apartment with busted plumbing and no heat that had rented for $450.
In February, the Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama, a nonprofit agency based in Birmingham, and the NAACP began questioning housing for foreign workers in Huntsville.
Landlords "were charging some of the people $300 per bed," in "roach-infested" apartments, Jerry Burnet, chair of the state housing committee for the NAACP, told The Times last month. "They've got a little small bed, like you have in a barracks, and they were putting three in each room."
Wormsby said HUD opened the formal investigation after receiving the complaints gathered by the NAACP and the Fair Housing Center.
Remember though... compared to Gov. Mitt Romney's little paen to Chinese slave labor working conditions, Cinram was a real "worker's paradise." From his now-famous Q&A to wealthy supporters last Spring:
And they work in these huge factories, they made various uh, small appliances. And uh, as we were walking through this facility, seeing them work, the number of hours they worked per day, the pittance they earned, living in dormitories with uh, with little bathrooms at the end of maybe 10, 10 room, rooms. And the rooms they have 12 girls per room.
These types of working conditions are a feature, not a bug in the Republican plan for working Americans.
So I'd suggest that we give Senator Beason a nice little Bronx cheer for yet another of his "unintended consequences" to the immigration bill. He's managed to exchange one set of low wage workers who have little or no leverage or ability to demand fair wages & safe working conditions with another set. And yet... maybe it wasn't "unintended" after all!
On top of low wages, no benefits, and no legal right to unionize, these workers face the constant threat of deportation if they speak out against their employer. It is within this context that we must understand the crash that six months ago killed 11 farm workers, including 9 migrants from Peru, near the Canadian town of Waterloo. Since the accident there has been no government investigation into the transportation and living conditions of migrant farm workers in Canada and fleeting media coverage. Like South Africa, migrant farm workers in Canada live in isolated rural areas, often housed directly on the farms, where they often experience severe discrimination and racism.
Don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled that some of these refugees have a chance at building a better life in a stable community with a decent job. But we need to be vigilant and make sure that's actually the case. Because past history has shown us clearly that these desperate people are willing to accept low wages, terrible working conditions, and are ripe for exploitation.
Anybody want to explain how this is an improvement?
Yesterday, the state of Alabama filed a motion asking the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear arguments about the state's worst-in-the-nation anti-immigration law. The Alabama law, HB 56, made international news for targeting schoolchildren in an overzealous attempt to make their undocumented parents self-deport. Alabama's appeal comes after a three judge panel from the 11th Circuit ruled in August that major provisions of the law are unconstitutional, including one that the Montgomery Advertiserdescribes as:
requires students to provide documentation of their birth, either through a birth certificate or a sworn statement from parents as to the child's status. If the child or parents do not provide such documentation, the student is counted unlawfully present.
"Instead of turning its sights on Congress and pressing the need for comprehensive, federal immigration reform, Alabama's Republican leaders continue to double down on these mean-spirited policies, and waste taxpayer money on expensive lawsuits," said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America's Voice.
In addition to continuing to challenge lawsuits brought to protect the Constitution from the state's overreach, a University of Alabama economist has estimated the price tag of the state's law to be a whopping $11 billion. This doesn't even get into the intangible costs to Alabama's reputation across the nation and the world, as the immigration debate there becomes a new expression of the state's ugly history on civil rights.
We are filing this based on principle. As the governor of Alabama, I have a duty to uphold and defend Alabama law. Federal courts should not restrain state governments in a way that is contrary to the U.S. Constitution.
The courts have already spoken and said that these provisions of Alabama's law are unconstitutional. It seems the only 'principle' Governor Bentley is fighting to uphold is the right to ask children for their papers. Is that really the type of country we want to be?
According to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the answer is "yes." Alabama's law was written by Romney immigration advisor Kris Kobach, and is based on the same strategy of "self-deportation" that Romney has embraced since the Republican primary. This policy was reflected in the GOP platform at the Republican convention last month, and continues to be the Party's stated position on what to do about the status of the 11 million men, women, and children currently living in America without papers.
Governor Bentley and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer are giving us a preview into what life would look like under Mitt Romney's self-deportation policy. It's a frightening picture of a society that pits children against their parents and neighbor against neighbor. By continuing down this path they are not only hurting their states, but also clarifying the stakes for all of us in November.