Gov. Patrick’s DNC Address Best To Date…but

There were a lot of good speeches on Day 1 of the DNC.  Julian Castro, the Mayor of San Antonio and First Lady Michelle Obama were two outstanding examples.  But the best of the lot by far in my opinion was the one delivered by the real Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick.  I’ve heard Patrick speak before and he is a fantastic orator.  His 2008 DNC Speech was little heard but one of the best of that convention.  It was probably a good idea that the DNC operatives put him on one day before the President to reduce the prospect of an overshadowing situation.  With former President Clinton introducing President Obama tonight, there is the risk that Bill will thrill the crowd too much and take away some of the excitement that might otherwise be reserved for our current President.  Whatever the case, Governor Deval Patrick set the mark high and both men have their work cut out for them.

He spoke of the American Dream and how it must be kept alive by investing in education, giving an example of a turnaround school in Boston.  He critiqued Romney’s record in MA as only he can – 47th in job creation, cuts in education, a man who says it’s ok to have 30 kids or more in a classroom.  Hey, Mr. Romney, the classroom is not a shop floor!  By the way, Romney tried to gut adult education programs in MA and he supported a ballot initiative that passed and effectively ended bilingual education in the Bay State.  Not exactly a immigrant friendly thing to do.  I keep hearing people say that Romney is a nice guy, but I don’t know – he’s cordial and all, but his actions tell another story.

Governor Patrick spoke convincingly in great oratorical flourishes of President Obama’s accomplishments despite a persistent GOP strategy of obstructionism.  But he left out one accomplishment that should have been key to his American Dream theme and that was the Dream Act, a version of which the President enacted by executive order granting undocumented youth who meet certain criteria legal status so that they can stay in the country, work and continue their education.  I know that Governor Patrick supports the Dream Act.  Perhaps he had a mention in his speech that the DNC operatives excised, maybe thinking that immigration reform ought to fall to a Latino speaker – Julian Castro, for example, who did mention it.

Notwithstanding the Dream Act omission, Governor Patrick’s speech was outstanding and one that ought to sway a few independents who might have been watching.

Rep. Joe Barton, Immigration and Movie Tix.

Congressmen Becerra of California and Barton of Texas spoke with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux about immigration reform on The Situation Room.  Barton favors strong border enforcement.  His notion of the issue is black and white – that there’s legal and illegal immigration.  He said that the positions between the two parties are “almost irreconcilable”.   And yet Barton seems to be in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.  He’d like to see an expanded guest worker program for the undocumented who are in the country.  He recognizes that the problem of 11 million undocumented people in the country requires a political solution.  But in a moment of doubt, he seemed to back off the idea of working toward a bipartisan solution when he made what I thought was a bizarre analogy:

“…I took my family to the movies yesterday.  We paid $6 or $7 a piece to go into the movie.  We didn’t just walk up to the ticket window and say we’re here, we’re good people, let us into the movie for free.”

(By the way, $6 for a movie ticket is a heck of a bargain – must be the special congressional discount).

First of all, people are not risking their lives to cross the border to get a shot at a free movie.  Folks are coming here to work to support their families.  If they are lucky, they’ll find work at $6 or $7 an hour.  They come because there is a demand for their labor and as Congressman Becerra points out, they can make in an hour what they can make in a day back in their countries.

Malveaux asked whether the Republicans even need the Latino vote to which Barton replied that they did – that Latinos are the “cornerstone of our base”.  He said that Latinos are conservative, family-oriented and have a strong work ethic.  Latinos, the cornerstone of the conservative Republican base? Really? Were Latinos in Texas against the Dream Act? Apparently so because Representative Barton voted against it, and I can’t imagine that he would go against his Latino base.   Now I could understand if he were a politician from Miami where the conservative Cuban-American base has some influence.  But Barton lives in a border state.  I’d rather imagine his base to be those who believe immigrants are a drain on the economy and should all be deported. If Latinos are the cornerstone of his base, he must be referring to a tiny stone.

What a minute, Joe Barton.  Wasn’t he the guy who apologized to BP for being asked by the Obama administration to establish a 20 billion fund to compensate the victims of the BP oil spill disaster?  As a recipient of over 1 million from the oil and gas industry, it wouldn’t surprise me if big oil formed the bedrock of Barton’s base.

The Doomed Dream Act

I’m disappointed in the 5 Dems who voted against the Dream Act, which would give children of undocumented immigrants who were born in this country, or had arrived at a young age, who had been educated here, the opportunity to get a temporary green card if they join the military, or complete 2 years of college.  As is, there are many bright high school graduates who can neither serve in the military nor go to college through no fault of their own.  Had these Democrats (can they even be called Democrats?) voted in favor, the bill would have had the 60 votes needed to defeat the Republican filibuster and would have come to the floor for a final vote, where it most likely would have passed, like it did a few weeks ago in the House.

So who are these disappointing Dems? Pryor from Arkansas, Nelson from Nebraska, Baucus and Tester of Montana and Hagan from North Carolina.

Why would these senators vote against it?  Do the folks of Montana fear that droves of undocumented immigrants would relocate to the “Gold and Silver” state and plunder its natural resources?  Do they fear diversity?  Do Arkansans really feel threatened by immigrants who might become more educated and contribute to a vibrant Arkansas economy as managers, planners and engineers were the Dream Act passed?  Do the folks of North Carolina fear that immigrants might rise and demand that their needs be addressed, that they might vote some of their own into office?

Do people fear an educated immigrant class?  This would be at odds with higher education systems at the state level throughout the nation that have made diversity a priority, and I would think would welcome a talented pool of non-white candidates the Dream Act would certainly deliver.  The University of Nebraska has a diversity statement on its website that reads:  “Nebraska is committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse student body.”  It’s state motto is “equality before the law”. Both the flagship campuses of the University of Arkansas and the University of North Carolina continue to embrace diversity.

The senators no doubt have argued that the Dream Act amounts to a blanket amnesty, referring to a provision that allows children of undocumented parents to eventually legalize if they meet certain qualifications, and take a place at the back of the line for a path to citizenship.  Blanket, means unconditional, and the Dream Act is anything but.  There are very strict requirements.  Only children who entered the country under the age of 16 and have lived here for 5 consecutive years or more of good moral character with a clean criminal record who have been admitted to an institution of higher education, or have a GED or high school diploma from a U.S. school would qualify.  Furthermore, they must eventually complete at least 2 years of college in good standing and or serve in the U.S. military for 2 years to even qualify for permanent residence.   THIS IS NOT A BLANKET AMNESTY!

To Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions who has led the charge against the Dream Act because it encourages the breaking of the law, I would say that our country was founded on the principles of justice and the idea that all men (and women) are endowed with unalienable rights that among them are the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.  One of the main justifications for the Revolutionary War was the injustice of taxation without representation.  This is exactly the injustice that many undocumented immigrants face.  Contrary to popular notions, they do pay taxes – sales, property, excise and many actually pay income taxes, not with a social security number, but with a tax identification number issued them by the IRS.

The Dream Act won’t go away, nor will immigration reform.  One day in the not so distant future as the country continues to become more diverse, children of undocumented immigrants will have the opportunity to realize their potential and make significant contributions to society.

Scott Brown’s Favorite Word: NO

One thing I know about Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is that he knows how to say NO.  NO to immigrants.   NO to immigration reform.  NO to the DREAM Act, that would allow high school graduates of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship provided they attend college or serve two years in the military.  NO to a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which passed the House with bipartisan support (and bipartisan opposition) 234-194.  NO to tax cuts for the middle class.  NO to the extension of unemployment benefits.   NO to comprehensive health care reform.

Ok, I have to give him credit for crossing party lines to vote YES on a jobs billed that killed a Republican filibuster and for his support of a financial reform bill.   But….

He voted NO to confirm Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.  NO to allow states to set limits on credit card interest rates.  NO to campaign finance disclosure requirements.

Unfortunately, I have to wait 5 more years to vote Scott Brown out of office, unless he runs for president in 2012.  Hey, if he runs, maybe he’ll chose Sarah Palin or Christine O’Donnell as his running mate, both of whom are very good at just saying NO to everything including science.