Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two Californias

Excellent piece by the great Victor Davis Hanson on National Review Online:

Two Californias
Abandoned farms, Third World living conditions, pervasive public assistance -- welcome to the once-thriving Central Valley.

The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption.

During this unscientific experiment, three times a week I rode a bike on a 20-mile trip over various rural roads in southwestern Fresno County. I also drove my car over to the coast to work, on various routes through towns like San Joaquin, Mendota, and Firebaugh. And near my home I have been driving, shopping, and touring by intent the rather segregated and impoverished areas of Caruthers, Fowler, Laton, Orange Cove, Parlier, and Selma. My own farmhouse is now in an area of abject poverty and almost no ethnic diversity; the closest elementary school (my alma mater, two miles away) is 94 percent Hispanic and 1 percent white, and well below federal testing norms in math and English.

Here are some general observations about what I saw (other than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in the rural South). First, remember that these areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming — to such an extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California, for all practical purposes has ceased to exist.

On the western side of the Central Valley, the effects of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed. Manufacturing plants in the towns in these areas — which used to make harvesters, hydraulic lifts, trailers, food-processing equipment — have largely shut down; their production has been shipped off overseas or south of the border. Agriculture itself — from almonds to raisins — has increasingly become corporatized and mechanized, cutting by half the number of farm workers needed. So unemployment runs somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.

Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World. There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards. The public hears about all sorts of tough California regulations that stymie business — rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections — but apparently none of that applies out here.

It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate. Its public employees prefer to go after misdemeanors in the upscale areas to justify our expensive oversight industry, while ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral and beyond the ability of any inspector to do anything but feel irrelevant. But in the regulators’ defense, where would one get the money to redo an ad hoc trailer park with a spider web of illegal bare wires?

Many of the rented-out rural shacks and stationary Winnebagos are on former small farms — the vineyards overgrown with weeds, or torn out with the ground lying fallow. I pass on the cultural consequences to communities from the loss of thousands of small farming families. I don’t think I can remember another time when so many acres in the eastern part of the valley have gone out of production, even though farm prices have recently rebounded. Apparently it is simply not worth the gamble of investing $7,000 to $10,000 an acre in a new orchard or vineyard. What an anomaly — with suddenly soaring farm prices, still we have thousands of acres in the world’s richest agricultural belt, with available water on the east side of the valley and plentiful labor, gone idle or in disuse. Is credit frozen? Are there simply no more farmers? Are the schools so bad as to scare away potential agricultural entrepreneurs? Or are we all terrified by the national debt and uncertain future?

California coastal elites may worry about the oxygen content of water available to a three-inch smelt in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, but they seem to have no interest in the epidemic dumping of trash, furniture, and often toxic substances throughout California’s rural hinterland. Yesterday, for example, I rode my bike by a stopped van just as the occupants tossed seven plastic bags of raw refuse onto the side of the road. I rode up near their bumper and said in my broken Spanish not to throw garbage onto the public road. But there were three of them, and one of me. So I was lucky to be sworn at only. I note in passing that I would not drive into Mexico and, as a guest, dare to pull over and throw seven bags of trash into the environment of my host.

In fact, trash piles are commonplace out here — composed of everything from half-empty paint cans and children’s plastic toys to diapers and moldy food. I have never seen a rural sheriff cite a litterer, or witnessed state EPA workers cleaning up these unauthorized wastelands. So I would suggest to Bay Area scientists that the environment is taking a much harder beating down here in central California than it is in the Delta. Perhaps before we cut off more irrigation water to the west side of the valley, we might invest some green dollars into cleaning up the unsightly and sometimes dangerous garbage that now litters the outskirts of our rural communities.

We hear about the tough small-business regulations that have driven residents out of the state, at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a week. But from my unscientific observations these past weeks, it seems rather easy to open a small business in California without any oversight at all, or at least what I might call a “counter business.” I counted eleven mobile hot-kitchen trucks that simply park by the side of the road, spread about some plastic chairs, pull down a tarp canopy, and, presto, become mini-restaurants. There are no “facilities” such as toilets or washrooms. But I do frequently see lard trails on the isolated roads I bike on, where trucks apparently have simply opened their draining tanks and sped on, leaving a slick of cooking fats and oils. Crows and ground squirrels love them; they can be seen from a distance mysteriously occupied in the middle of the road.

At crossroads, peddlers in a counter-California economy sell almost anything. Here is what I noticed at an intersection on the west side last week: shovels, rakes, hoes, gas pumps, lawnmowers, edgers, blowers, jackets, gloves, and caps. The merchandise was all new. I doubt whether in high-tax California sales taxes or income taxes were paid on any of these stop-and-go transactions.

In two supermarkets 50 miles apart, I was the only one in line who did not pay with a social-service plastic card (gone are the days when “food stamps” were embarrassing bulky coupons). But I did not see any relationship between the use of the card and poverty as we once knew it: The electrical appurtenances owned by the user and the car into which the groceries were loaded were indistinguishable from those of the upper middle class.

By that I mean that most consumers drove late-model Camrys, Accords, or Tauruses, had iPhones, Bluetooths, or BlackBerries, and bought everything in the store with public-assistance credit. This seemed a world apart from the trailers I had just ridden by the day before. I don’t editorialize here on the logic or morality of any of this, but I note only that there are vast numbers of people who apparently are not working, are on public food assistance, and enjoy the technological veneer of the middle class. California has a consumer market surely, but often no apparent source of income. Does the $40 million a day supplement to unemployment benefits from Washington explain some of this?

Do diversity concerns, as in lack of diversity, work both ways? Over a hundred-mile stretch, when I stopped in San Joaquin for a bottled water, or drove through Orange Cove, or got gas in Parlier, or went to a corner market in southwestern Selma, my home town, I was the only non-Hispanic — there were no Asians, no blacks, no other whites. We may speak of the richness of “diversity,” but those who cherish that ideal simply have no idea that there are now countless inland communities that have become near-apartheid societies, where Spanish is the first language, the schools are not at all diverse, and the federal and state governments are either the main employers or at least the chief sources of income — whether through emergency rooms, rural health clinics, public schools, or social-service offices. An observer from Mars might conclude that our elites and masses have given up on the ideal of integration and assimilation, perhaps in the wake of the arrival of 11 to 15 million illegal aliens.

Again, I do not editorialize, but I note these vast transformations over the last 20 years that are the paradoxical wages of unchecked illegal immigration from Mexico, a vast expansion of California’s entitlements and taxes, the flight of the upper middle class out of state, the deliberate effort not to tap natural resources, the downsizing in manufacturing and agriculture, and the departure of whites, blacks, and Asians from many of these small towns to more racially diverse and upscale areas of California.

Fresno’s California State University campus is embroiled in controversy over the student body president’s announcing that he is an illegal alien, with all the requisite protests in favor of the DREAM Act. I won’t comment on the legislation per se, but again only note the anomaly. I taught at CSUF for 21 years. I think it fair to say that the predominant theme of the Chicano and Latin American Studies program’s sizable curriculum was a fuzzy American culpability. By that I mean that students in those classes heard of the sins of America more often than its attractions. In my home town, Mexican flag decals on car windows are far more common than their American counterparts.

I note this because hundreds of students here illegally are now terrified of being deported to Mexico. I can understand that, given the chaos in Mexico and their own long residency in the United States. But here is what still confuses me: If one were to consider the classes that deal with Mexico at the university, or the visible displays of national chauvinism, then one might conclude that Mexico is a far more attractive and moral place than the United States.

So there is a surreal nature to these protests: something like, “Please do not send me back to the culture I nostalgically praise; please let me stay in the culture that I ignore or deprecate.” I think the DREAM Act protestors might have been far more successful in winning public opinion had they stopped blaming the U.S. for suggesting that they might have to leave at some point, and instead explained why, in fact, they want to stay. What it is about America that makes a youth of 21 go on a hunger strike or demonstrate to be allowed to remain in this country rather than return to the place of his birth?

I think I know the answer to this paradox. Missing entirely in the above description is the attitude of the host, which by any historical standard can only be termed “indifferent.” California does not care whether one broke the law to arrive here or continues to break it by staying. It asks nothing of the illegal immigrant — no proficiency in English, no acquaintance with American history and values, no proof of income, no record of education or skills. It does provide all the public assistance that it can afford (and more that it borrows for), and apparently waives enforcement of most of California’s burdensome regulations and civic statutes that increasingly have plagued productive citizens to the point of driving them out. How odd that we overregulate those who are citizens and have capital to the point of banishing them from the state, but do not regulate those who are aliens and without capital to the point of encouraging millions more to follow in their footsteps. How odd — to paraphrase what Critias once said of ancient Sparta — that California is at once both the nation’s most unfree and most free state, the most repressed and the wildest.

Hundreds of thousands sense all that and vote accordingly with their feet, both into and out of California — and the result is a sort of social, cultural, economic, and political time-bomb, whose ticks are getting louder.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Keep Christ in Christmas!!!!  Please pray for our troops overseas and their families back here at home for their sacrifices for our country and advancing freedom around the world!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Census Results

While driving to work this morning, I listened to C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program with Census Director Groves who discussed the macro-level results of the 2010 census released on Tuesday.  The population of the United States as of April 1, 2010 is 308,745,538. That is a 9.7% percent rise in population since the 2000 census.  California remains the most populous state at more than 37 million people, while Wyoming remains the least at just more than 500,000 residents.  A definite shift is happening in terms of residents flocking from the Northeast and Midwest and moving to the South and West.  Texas gained the most House seats (+4), while Ohio lost the most House seats (-2).

It was an extremely informative interview with Director Groves and one I would encourage everyone to watch.  Click here for a link to C-SPAN's web page on this issue with a link to the video of this morning's program.

Director Groves explained that the micro-level data is currently being produced by the social scientists and mathematicians and will be finalized over the next few weeks and months and will then be provided to the state legislatures for gerrymandering.  Even those states that did not gain or lose seats can change the district maps based on the micro-level data.  The effects of these state-by-state changes to House districts, whether added, lost, or redrawn, will be part of the 2012 election cycle.  The significant gains made the Republicans within the state legislatures and governorships this past November will play a major role in the gerrymandering process and could spell long-term doom for the Democrats in many of the "purple" states.  As President Obama once told us, "Elections have consequences".

Friday, December 17, 2010

AG Cuccinelli's Speech at Heritage Foundation

Thanks to Nathaniel Ward and the gang at Heritage for uploading the Cuccinelli speech at the Heritage President's Club meeting earlier this month. Definitely worth the time to watch!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Va. AG Cuccinelli Speaks Following ObamaCare Ruling

Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli speaks following today's ruling on ObamaCare.

Judge Hudson's Ruling on the Virginia Health Care Lawsuit

BREAKING NEWS: Judge Rules Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

A victory for liberty!!!!   More to follow throughout the day...

Don't Touch "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Excellent opinion piece in the Washington Times from our friend Howie Lind...

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently testified to Congress that members of the U.S. armed forces who oppose lifting the ban on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should leave the military.

Maybe Admiral Mullen should heed his own advice and resign since he is so far out of step with "his" military. The majority of service members and uniformed leaders of the military do not want any changes to the current policy toward gay service members.

The proponents of changing this policy to allow gays, lesbians, and transgenders to serve openly in the U.S. military repeatedly point to two "polls", the first one that 70% of Americans agree with the change, and the second one that a "strong majority" of current service members want to change the policy based on a recent survey given to the military.

These are both wrong. Regarding the national "poll" of Americans, Admiral Mullen and other leaders in favor of lifting this ban have not explained at all to the public the negative consequences of this new policy. This is like asking Americans if they want world peace. The answer, of course is yes. For the survey to active duty military members, the question was NOT asked, "should the policy be changed?" But, rather "How should the change be implemented?" That makes a huge difference as to who actually fills out the survey especially since only 6 percent of the military responded to the survey.

The purpose of the U.S. military is to protect our nation through deterrence first; and if that fails, then through armed conflict. The fundamental ability for our military to fight and win wars is accomplished via unit cohesion. That means at the individual squad, ship, and aircrew levels, all service members must operate at 100% effectiveness. These service men and women eat, work, sleep, and bathe in very close proximity for extended periods of time. Open homosexuality at this level will degrade the cohesiveness and thereby, the combat effectiveness, of our nation's warriors.

There is no civilian comparison to this type of environment. So asking this question to the general public -- most of whom of have never served in the military -- is meaningless. This is not a civil rights issue. It is an issue of human sexuality.

And this is not about being anti-gay. It is about being pro-military and supporting the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who do the tough work of defending our country.

Howie Lind
Commander, US Navy (retired)
McLean, VA

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ruling In Virginia Health Care Lawsuit Coming Midday Monday

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office has alerted the media that the district court decision in the lawsuit Virginia has brought over Obamacare will be handed down midday on Monday. This will be the first major decision at this level in any case brought by a state against the health care law.

Detroit News: Pence Could Steal Palin's Thunder

From a few days ago in the Detroit News:

GOP Prospect Could Steal Palin’s Thunder
By Nolan Finley

If Mike Pence keeps talking, the left will soon have to stop talking about Sarah Palin.

Pence is the Indiana congressman who is weighing a run for the presidency in 2012. He stopped by Birmingham last week to speak to the Detroit Economic Club. It wasn't all that far into his speech before you realized that this guy has a message that could catch on, particularly if voters remain in their current mood.

"To restore American exceptionalism, we must end all this Keynesian spending and get back to the practice of free market economics," Pence told the audience. "The freedom to succeed must include the freedom to fail. The free market is what made America's economy the greatest in the world, and we cannot falter in our willingness to defend it."

For most of the rest of the speech, Pence laid out a blueprint for restoring the economy that focused on simplifying the tax code; adopting sound monetary policy, perhaps even a return to the gold standard; developing homegrown energy sources; reforming regulations to make them friendlier to job creators; and committing fully to free trade.

It's a message tailor made for the tea party movement, particularly on tax policy. Pence would replace all federal taxes with a single, flat income tax in the range of 17 percent, and get the government away from using taxes to manipulate behavior.

"You should someday be able to file a tax return of 140 characters or less," Pence joked. "You could Twitter your taxes."

But Pence is not a tea party maverick. He has worked within the system very effectively since first being elected to Congress in 2000.

He's thoughtful, respected by his colleagues for his intelligence and depth, and affable. "I'm a conservative, but I'm not angry about it," he once told an interviewer.

A speech he gave to Hillsdale College that was reprinted in the school's Imprimus magazine on how the office of the presidency has been distorted from the Founders' vision is burning up the Internet.

Liberal mouthpieces are desperate for Palin to emerge as the leading GOP presidential candidate, and try to pretend that the former Alaskan governor and vice presidential hopeful is the way-out-front candidate.

Pence and other rising GOP stars — including his fellow Hoosier, Gov. Mitch Daniels — are forcing them to take notice. His speech at the Townsend Hotel was covered by CNN, Fox and other national outlets.

Pence makes the pitch for returning America to its founding principles seem entirely reasonable, and quite doable. Nothing about him appears out of the mainstream.

He channels Ronald Reagan as well as anyone in the GOP stable, deftly comparing the "new normal" ideology of 2010 to the national malaise of the Jimmy Carter years. Like Reagan, he rejects the notion of lost American greatness.

Here's how he closed his speech:"I choose a boundless American future built on the timeless ideals of the American people. I believe the American people are ready for this choice and await men and women who will lead us back to that future, back to the West, back to American exceptionalism."

Mike Pence is no Sarah Palin. And that should worry the daylights out of the left.

Friday, December 10, 2010

WI Gov Elect Successful In Sending Federal High Speed Rail Funds Back to Washington

Even before taking the oath of office as governor of Wisconsin, Governor-elect Scott Walker has already achieved one of his major campaign promises -- to send taxpayer-wasted high-speed rail grant money back to Washington.  Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced that the grant funds would be rescinded. 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pulled $1.2 billion in stimulus rail funds from Wisconsin and Ohio, because their new Republican governors didn’t want them. Thirteen other states will share the money for their high-speed trains. Walker said he now hopes Washington will focus on the “true needs” of Wisconsin and other states – and that’s quote, “fixing our crumbling roads and bridges.”

Walker said LaHood assured him the state won’t have to pay the federal government for what it spent on the new train. LaHood agreed to let Wisconsin keep two-million-dollars for upgrades on Amtrak’s current high-speed Hiawatha train from Milwaukee-to-Chicago. But the stimulus funding that was lost included $72-million for a new train shed and a maintenance base for the Hiawatha. Outgoing Governor Jim Doyle had said a separate $12-million-dollar grant for the Hiawatha line would also be in danger – but there was no word on that from Washington yesterday.

Gingrich, Cuccinelli Highlight Heritage Foundation President's Club meetings

The RC Blog spent the last two days at The Heritage Foundation's President's Club meetings in Washington, D.C. and was (as we always are...) overly impressed with the work of Heritage's staff.  President Dr. Ed Feulner announced to the 1,200+ record crowd that Heritage membership has now grown to over 700,000.  There were a number of panel sessions during the afternoon, including the impact of ObamaCare and where the Conservative party goes next after the 2010 elections. 

In the evening, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gave the keynote address at the dinner.  Gingrich continues to show why he is one of the party's most strategic thinkers.  Truly a man of genius and intellect!!

The highlight of Day Two was the morning speech by Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli.  The RC Blog has attended more than 15 Heritage President's Club meetings over the years and has never seen the membership audience respond to a non-keynote speech as they did this morning for Cuccinelli.   He has captured the attention of leading Conservatives nationwide with his message of liberty.

I will post the videos of the President's Club speeches once Heritage posts them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Catholic Church Elevates Wisconsin Site Where Nun Saw Virgin Mary In 1859

The Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday designated a Wisconsin spot where an apparition of the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared three times to a Belgian-born nun in 1859 as the only one of its kind in the United States.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion, just east of Green Bay near Lake Michigan, has long been a popular destination for the faithful. But it was only in the last two years that the Diocese of Green Bay undertook the official process to earn the distinction that now puts it in company with renowned holy apparition sites including Lourdes, France; Guadalupe, Mexico; and Fatima, Portugal.

Green Bay Bishop David Ricken approved the sightings as legitimate apparitions after a two-year study by a commission he appointed. Ricken announced the distinction at a special Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the shrine, where he read from a decree that stated the apparitions witnessed by Sister Adele Brise in 1859 “do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”

Brise was 28 at the time of the visions, and had immigrated to Wisconsin from Belgium with her family about four years earlier. Brise would recount that a lady dressed in dazzling white appeared to her and claimed to be the “Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners,” according to information provided by the Green Bay diocese. The apparition asked Brise to do the same, and to gather children and teach them what they should know for salvation.

After receiving the apparitions, Brise established a Catholic school and a community of Franciscan women.

Such sites of confirmed apparition earn that designation only by a Catholic bishop’s decree. A spokesman for the Green Bay Diocese said there are only 11 other such sites worldwide, none in the United States.

(Source: Associated Press)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Further Proof that California is Going Crazy!

Heard about this article on Mark Levin last night and couldn't believe the content.  Is it any wonder that California is having significant fiscal and social problems!  What a disaster on the Left Coast!!!!!

Oakland Soon will Issue Municipal ID Cards
By Cecily Burt
Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND -- Oakland will soon be following in San Francisco's footsteps by offering a new municipal identification card to homeless people, immigrants and other residents who might have trouble obtaining a state identification card.

But Oakland's ID card will double as an ATM debit card (emphasis added), the first of its kind in the country. The ATM debit card can be used to buy groceries or goods and services wherever ATM cards are welcome, allowing people without bank accounts to avoid high check-cashing fees or walking around with large amounts of cash.

Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente has been trying to get an ID card system for Oakland residents since the state rejected efforts to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants in 2004.

The City Council voted in June 2009 to issue municipal identification cards and issued a request for proposals. On Nov. 9, the council voted to accept the bid of SF Mexico Services LLC to administer the program and issue the ID/debit cards at no cost to the city.

"I think we have a responsibility to provide local access and represent everyone," said De La Fuente, who along with Mayor-elect Jean Quan co-authored the ordinance last year. "We have to provide some way for people to identify themselves so that people don't get arrested. "... We have to move forward with the card and not delay further."

So far, the cities of San Francisco, New Haven, Conn., Trenton, N.J., and Washington, D.C., have municipal identification cards. None have a full ATM/debit feature, although Washington's card can be loaded with value to use on the Metro system, and New Haven's card can be loaded with up to $300 value that can be used at participating merchants and at parking meters.

City Clerk LaTonda Simmons said the group that studied the ID card issue and helped craft the request for proposals will meet again early next month to finalize the contract details and develop a timeline for implementation.

The company predicts it will issue about 30,000 cards a year, processed through five intake centers set up around the city, said Elias Enciso, director of business development for SF Mexico. The company will set up the infrastructure with community-based organizations to accept and process applications and issue the cards, as well as establish the banking relationship to support the cards. He said the program could be up and running within three months once there is a signed contract.

A group headed by Wilson Riles advocated for a local currency feature for Oakland's program. It is not included, but the feature could be added to the card at a later date if the city wants it, Enciso said.

The company already offers debit cards and it won the contract to issue ATM debit cards to youth working for the Los Angeles summer jobs program. This is its first ID card contract.

The cards can be replenished with cash or checks or even set up to receive direct deposits from the cardholder's job.

There is a setup fee: $15 for adults or $10 for seniors and youth, plus an extra $6.95 to add the debit card feature; a $2.95 reload fee for non-direct deposits; and a 99-cent monthly maintenance fee. Even so, the amounts are minuscule compared to hefty fees charged by check cashing stores. And cardholders can avoid ATM transaction fees by using the cash-back feature when shopping at grocery stores or other merchants.

SF Mexico will cover operational costs through the sale of the cards and the user fees will help sustain the growth of the company. But the firm isn't in it for the money, Enciso said.

"We are a social enterprise company, meaning that our main priority is to maximize social good to the community," Enciso said. "One of our principles is that businesses can provide financial services to underserved communities without price gouging."

Card holders are issued an account number and password, which they can use to obtain balance and transaction information via a toll-free phone number or online. They can view all their transactions, similar to a bank statement, for no charge.

To obtain a city ID card, applicants must provide one picture identification such as a driver's license, passport, green card or consular card. Applicants who don't have a driver's license need two pieces of identification such as a foreign driver's license, a Social Security card, a U.S. or foreign birth certificate, a military identification card or school identification.

Minors don't need photo ID, but they must have some sort of documentation either from a school or shelter.

Applicants must also prove residency by providing recent utility bills, tax bills, pay stub, jury summons or tax refund statement, among other items.

The municipal identification cards will supply the same type of information contained on a driver's license or state identification card, including name, address, date of birth, height, weight, eye and hair color and photograph. The card must be accepted as a valid form of identification at all city departments, including the police department.

Miguel Robles, founder of the Latino American Alliance for Immigration Rights, was behind the push to get San Francisco to launch a municipal ID card program in response to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in 2007.

Several people caught in the raids were deported because they had no state-issued identification, Robles said.

The cards offer some measure of security in that San Francisco police accept the cards as proof of residency and the cardholders are more comfortable reporting crimes, Robles said. Cardholders also get all the benefits of other San Francisco residents, such as free resident days at the San Francisco Zoo and coverage under the city's health care program.

"You can get one if you are here illegally, if you are a resident of the city and are paying taxes and living here and spending money here," Robles said, describing the San Francisco program. "I'm very excited to have the program now in Oakland, too."

Enciso agreed that the cards give residents a sense of security they would not otherwise have.

"It's in the absolute best interest of all Oakland residents, regardless of immigration status, that everyone has identification," Enciso said. "It increases safety. What we saw in New Haven is that reporting of crimes went up 22 percent, primarily because people had a form of ID."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Federal Pay Freeze, In Context

Philip Klein from American Spectator Blog provided the following analysis on the federal employee pay freeze announced on Monday morning:

Earlier this morning, I noted that President Obama's proposal to freeze the pay of federal employees (excluding the military) for two years wouldn't have much impact on the debt. Now we have more specifics. In his press conference, Obama claimed that the move would save the government $28 billion over five years. Taking that number at face value, that would represent a sixth-tenths of one percent reduction in the projected $4.52 trillion deficit over that same period (2011 through 2015). It would be the equivalent of a person who expects to rack up $10,000 of of credit card debt over the next five years touting the fact that he's found a way to reduce his expenses by $60 over that time period. In football terms, it would be like a kickoff return that gains about a half of a yard.

To demonstrate this visually, I put together a pie chart. is an independent site and is not affiliated with any official web sites, associations, or organizations associated with President Reagan. Any views expressed or content included on this site do not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of any of the organizations or individuals named, linked, or advertised.

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