A Bubbling Cauldron
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Welcome to A Bubbling Cauldron, a blog dedicated to the observations and opinions of this writer. Most of the time the subject will be local politics and politicians - those issues and/or people affecting the lives of those of us in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. Occasionally, I might write about something obscure that interests me. Or, I may just launch off into some philosophical rant if the urge moves me. I might even include comments by others from time to time.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Blogmania Redux
Well, this is starting out to be a very interesting year.

First, a Westside activist I mention on my "Just Wondering..." page dropped me a note to deny, emphatically, that he is a "right winger". Seems my comment about his blog touched a nerve. I wrote back to him to remind him that I didn't say he was necessarily a right wing-leaning guy - just that his blog was tilted that way. I used as an example a recent posting on his blog by an activist in town who referred the blog author to the American Patrol web site for guidance. That particular site is a repository of many far right leaning philosophies. In fact, a man who very much resembles our old pal, Your Neighbor, used to write a guest column for that site. I haven't seen his byline there lately, so I assume either they got sick of him (understandable) or he priced himself out of the market (also understandable, since he seems to have a very inflated view of the value of his rants).

The blog author went on to advise me that "I fully believe that any illegal immigrant caught should either be punished or immediately deported." I wrote back to him, wondering what he felt would be the appropriate punishment instead of deportation. I asked him if he thought flogging, for example, would be sufficient. I also wondered if a jail term would suffice - six months, perhaps. Would he then recommend the issuance of a work permit so the offender could make a living? I think what my correspondent meant to write was, "I fully believe that any illegal immigrant caught should be punished and deported.", but I'm not sure. I certainly wouldn't want to put words in his mouth.

The blog author went on to advise me that I've got it wrong about "Americans" not wanting to pick produce or prepare food. He suggested I "Go back East", where I would find many "Americans" doing that job. Well, I've been all over this country and have relatives with family farms in the midwest. A long time ago - a time to which the blog author apparently wishes to return - that may have been true. However, if you drive through almost any agricultural region of this country today you will find most of the crops being tended to by folks with brown skins and Spanish surnames.

Similarly, much of the food preparation in restaurants is done by folks of Latino heritage. These are jobs most Americans are not willing to perform. The blog author, in his correspondence to me, blames it on the fact that "Big business wants illegal immigrants to work so they can exploit them and make money off their hard labor." He suggested that Americans would do the work if "you pay the right wage". I asked what his perception of the "right wage" would be. Is it double what immigrants earn? How about triple or quadruple? If so, I wondered whether he would be willing to pay triple or quadruple the cost of the produce or the burger he orders at the local fast food restaurant.

I explained to the blog author that I, too, am against illegal immigration, but that the responsibility for enforcement of the immigration laws of this country belongs to the federal government, not our local law enforcement agencies. By shoving that responsibility on down the food chain to local law enforcement the opportunity for misuse of that power is much too great. Our young jailer/mayor denies that any "immigration sweeps" would be conducted, but the effect would be the same.

I thanked the blog author for his correspondence and his attempt to set me straight. I invited him to continue to read this blog and to continue to write to me when he felt like it. I hope he learned something from our exchange of opinion - I know I sure did.

Today I visited his blog again and found his most recent posting to be a perfect example of just why our young jailer/mayor's plan is such a bad idea. In his posting, the blog author attempts to provide an account of the events at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday night and laments the number of illegal aliens in our midst because they "overload our sanitation and school systems" and drive old cars which pollute our air and oceans. He did acknowledge "that there are many legitimate citizens polluting with old cars too...". I found myself wondering about those illegitimate citizens driving around in rattle-traps - is he concerned about those folks, too? He ended his posting with this comment: "It is time for the police to identify those that are here illegally and report them to ICE." That sounds to me like the immigration sweeps our young jailer/mayor denies will take place.

Then, further adding spice to our new year, that activist who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, launched his own blog. Actually, he just created a blog out of his "little newsletter". So, now none of us have to beg for a subscription. We can visit his blog any old time we choose, although I don't recommend it on an empty stomach. I guess this guy is running out of venues that will publish his rants. As witnessed by a quick read of his postings so far, he's managed to alienate the publisher of the Daily Pilot, a newspaper which has shown remarkable tolerance over the years when they printed many of his fantasies. He also alienated "his guys" on the Costa Mesa City Council, too. In a fit of pique because they didn't go along with his suggestion Tuesday night regarding the inappropriateness of a proposed car wash/gas station in town, he's decided to tag them with derogatory names - much like you and I may have done back in elementary school when teasing school mates. It just proves that being a Mensa member may imply that you are intelligent, but doesn't necessarily mean that you're smart.

So, blogmania continues in our little slice of heaven. Each of us who create these forums have the opportunity - unfettered - to provide information and opinions to you, to do with what you will. It's up to you to decide whether they are worthy of further consideration.

As always, I look forward to your comments if you feel so moved. As always, I'm the sole arbiter of what appears here, so watch your language. As always, I'm grateful that you took the time to visit this site and hope you will return often.
5:10 pm pst

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Quashed Liberty
Well, it didn't take long for the male majority on our City Council to get right back in stride in this new year. Tuesday night we saw a new low water mark for municipal leadership established as civil liberties were quashed during the Costa Mesa City Council meeting. It sometimes reminds me of a limbo contest as these guys see how low they can go.

In a heated and emotional Public Comments portion of the meeting - which was preceded by sign-waving, bull-horn induced confrontations outside the council chambers prior to the meeting - we saw tempers flare, politicians both chided and praised and at least one speaker hauled off to jail.

In yet another exhibit of faulty judgment, our young jailer/mayor decided to curtail public comments after a raucous hour which ended with the same young man who cussed him out as a blankety-blank racist at the last meeting in December again causing a ruckus and was again escorted from the auditorium by the police. When the meeting reconvened more than a half hour later, Mayor Mansoor agreed to allow a few more speakers to present their views, even though there were many, many more who wished to speak. Somehow, the police apparently got involved in determining which speakers represented which side of the issue, although the final speaker pointed out the folly of that decision.

It's hard to understand why any level-headed leader would cut short the comments on such an important issue. Perhaps a crowded calendar might explain it, but that wasn't the case last night because the council subsequently wrapped things up by 9:30. Maybe someone had a late date - or wanted to be sure he got his mug on the late news.

Whatever the reason, the net result was that debate of this important, controversial issue was reduced to those few speakers who managed, either through strategic placement in the front of the line or through persistence, to speak their piece. Of the twenty-nine people who spoke specifically on this subject, eighteen were not Costa Mesa residents. Of the nineteen who spoke in support of Mansoor's plan to cross-certify Costa Mesa law enforcement officers and jailers to perform immigration interviews, thirteen were not identified as Costa Mesa residents. It looks like imported demonstrators formed the core of the support Mansoor is receiving on this issue, but we will never know because he refused to let all speakers have a turn at the podium. The Minuteman Project, for example, apparently rallied five dozen supporters to the meeting, most of whom are not Costa Mesa residents.

The side opposing Mansoor's plan were not without imports. One woman felt such passion for the issue that she apparently drove all the way from Chicago to address the council. Another, a native American from a tribe along the Arizona/Mexico border, made the trip to speak on the subject.

Once again, our young mayor demonstrated just why all of us should be nervous with him at the helm. The double standard he applies to the conduct of his office will probably never be more obvious than in the decisions he made Tuesday night. First, he allowed the supporters of Minuteman Project founder, and failed congressional candidate, Jim Gilchrist to stand to show support following Gilchrist's three and one half minutes at the podium - longer than normally allowed. Then, when Costa Mesa resident and activist Coyotl Tezcalipoca - who, according to news reports, also apparently uses the name Benito Acosta - was speaking critically of Mansoor and the other male members of the council, the mayor cut his time short and refused to let Acosta's supporters stand and be recognized. Not only that, but he had Acosta dragged from the council chambers and arrested. Mansoor's discriminatory application of the rules certainly seemed to demonstrate Tezcalipoca's opinion, as expressed in the epithet he shouted at our mayor at the last council meeting.

Watching the out-of-town agitators speak before the council last night reminded me of when I was a little guy. As boys will do, sometimes we would find ways get into mischief, whether it was a bee hive that needed exploring, an errant ball tossed into a grumpy neighbor's yard or the first snowball to be tossed at an unsuspecting target. At those times, usually the weakest of us was prodded to take that first jab with a stick or climb the fence to get the ball or fire the first snowball. The mob mentality was that, if the "little guy" did it and got away with it, then we all could, too. If he got caught or stung, well, he was just the little guy. That's what I thought about when I watched the meeting last night. It seemed to me that Gilchrist and the other out-of-towners were more than happy to praise our easily-swayed young mayor to move forward. After all, it was no skin off their nose if he messed this up.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a supporter of illegal immigration. I've made that point many times on this blog. However, it is scandalous to see our elected officials trample on the civil liberties of residents of this community, citizens and non-citizens alike. By forbidding public comment by all who wished to speak on that subject, the mayor violated the rights of those turned away. This heavy-handed, almost gestapo-like, approach is completely inappropriate and will certainly not be forgotten as the campaign season begins later this year. Our young jailer/mayor is well on the way to turning this city into a dictatorship.
12:19 pm pst

Sunday, January 1, 2006

New Year, Old Opponents, Kooks and Games
Happy New Year to you all. I'm glad you took my suggestion and decided to visit this web log again.

First, let me encourage you to slide over to the left and click on my "Just Wondering..." link. You will find a new batch of questions to ponder this first month of 2006. I will probably leave that page intact for the month of January for your contemplation.

The battle of blather continues between your humble correspondent and a local activist who resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor. In his "little newsletter" this activist continues to attempt to refute comments found throughout this blog - unsuccessfully. His most recent smoke screen was a letter published in The Current, the weekly supplement of the Orange County Register that is distributed in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. The poor man has the word "denial" confused with truth. As I've said before, denial is not truth - it is only denial. I suppose he and I will continue to joust into this new year.

Every time I write about Your Neighbor I feel like I need a shower, so let me squirt a little air freshener after those comments and set the record straight on one issue that keeps popping up. There are those who have accused me of being pro-illegal immigration. That, of course, is not true. I feel strongly that our porous borders need to be secured for many reasons. This is especially essential with the probability of terrorist infiltration. Protection of our borders and our national security is the responsibility of the federal government. I'm offended when ambitious young local politicians try to use this issue for personal political gain. However, facts are facts. Analysts of this issue who are far smarter than I am have said repeatedly that our economy would halt if immigrant labor - legal and illegal - were to disappear. Just look around you and think about it just a little bit and you'll likely agree.

Some folks spout borderline racist rhetoric, accusing "illegals" from stealing jobs from "real Americans". That's such a crock of bull I almost can't believe they say it. Which "real Americans" have you seen picketing the produce fields of the central valley lately, demanding the opportunity to perform that back-breaking labor? That's right - none. Have you seen lines of demonstrators around your local fast food restaurants recently, demanding jobs as food preparers? I didn't think so. Do you suppose the auto workers General Motors will be laying off soon will be trekking out here to grab one of those jobs? Not likely. The reality is that we must have immigrant labor in this country, so we'd better find a workable solution. A guest worker program could work - it did back in the 1950s as the bracero program. We need to demand that our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. find a solution - now!

As you know, I've encourage you to share your thoughts if so moved. From time to time I get interesting correspondence from readers, usually expressing support, but sometimes angry with a position I've taken. I've shared some of those comments with you in the past. Well, on December 28th I received a very "interesting" comment from a person I do not know. This writer may, in fact, be a fictitious character for all I know. The following is the message in it's entirety:
***
"Hey guy,

The job center isn't all that great when you dig in deep.

What you don't mention in your article about the job center is that 98% of these workers aren't even legal citizens. They also "do not pay taxes" yet the job center is funded by the tax payers. Just get some facts and be a bit more balanced. What I mean is your only looking at this issue as how it affects you, not the residents and the impact on work competitions for legal mexican labor.

The thing that sucks is you don't even live on the westside. Hopefully some of these illegals will disperse into your neighborhood so you can feel the impact westsiders deal with daily. High crime "rapes", falling house prices and trash everywhere.

Laguna Beach is big into slavory labor centers. "
***

Of course, I was confused by this one. I wrote back to the writer - and have received no reply yet - asking if the writer was aware that the Job Center was closing in a couple days. Curious timing, isn't it? I also asked about the numbers quoted - the "98%" number was especially interesting. I wonder where the writer pulled that one from? I was also curious about how this writer knew that folks using the job center don't pay taxes. Seems to me that the only persons with that knowledge would be the worker and the employer. I was also interested in the "falling house prices" comment, since there is no area in Orange County, much less Costa Mesa, where house prices are doing anything except rising as though hooked to a sky rocket.

I guess the occasional fringe kook will drop me a little note - that goes with the turf. Messages like the one above are more than offset by those of you who take the time to write well-reasoned positions, pro and con. Thank you for those.

So, as we march off into 2006, I encourage you to become engaged in things that will affect each of you. Pick up the telephone and call your representatives. Send an email to your City Council, letting them know how you feel. Become educated about issues in the city and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. If you don't, you abdicate the control and future of your city to those willing to take the time - like Your Neighbor, for example. The results are that the clock will be turned back to dark times as sinister forces control your city. We all deserve more than that, but won't get it by sitting passively along the sidelines. You have to get into the game.
12:17 pm pst

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West