Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nashville Scene has New Yorker-like problem with grinning, gold-toothed Mexican image

The Nashville Scene, unrelenting and funny in poking fun at errors in The Tennessean, may have its own problems that endanger credibility and engender intolerance.

I tried sending the following e-mail to its new editor, but the website kept telling me that my e-mail address was not valid.

So I am publishing my e-mail in hopes of getting answers. I'm not going to call, because I don't want to use up my cell phone minutes enduring excessive rationalization. It's also a recession, you know.

Dear Editor(Pete Kotz),

Have you considered The New Yorker magazine-kind of implications with the visual image of a gold-toothed, grinning Mexican that you are providing of Hispanic-Americans to a less-educated audience compared to the New Yorker's readership?

The image that goes with Gustavo Arellano's brilliant and irreverant column may fit with his satire and his wishes, but it really does little for the majority of Hispanics in this nation -- who are U.S. citizens. And many are not Mexicans. In my extended family across 12 states in this republic, I've yet to meet a relative who has a front gold tooth. I guess we would need to be pimps to feature such dentistry. Most of us are instead professionals.

In particular, since "Nashville" is included in your publication's name, I hope you have noticed that Nashville has a big problem in how it views and treats Mexicans and all Hispanics. Although I haven't read a word about her case in your blogs or in your publication, a Mexican mother named Juana Villegas (DeLaPaz) was tortured by local law enforcement authorities for seven days, that included the Fourth of July weekend. The New York Times considered the story worthy enough to publish on two Sunday pages, not only in how Mrs. Villegas was treated but in the implications of the 287g deportation program here.

Yet your publication has remained silent, just like Democratic Mayor Karl Dean and Congressman Jim Cooper. Why? Surely your alternative media designation does not also include "blind" to the least among us. Your reporter, P.J. Tobia, was included on the very first e-mails on the topic alerting the media, yet Tobia has not seen fit to write a word. Did Mrs. Villegas or her newborn need to die before becoming newsworthy? Or did Tobia have to write about her torture first to be worthy of your "alternative" designation?

Even all three TV stations have covered this. And the AP's Travis Loller did a great story on the matter.

Tobia did do a story on a threatened Hispanic congregation in Antioch. But they are not being tortured and having their newborn children separated from them, are they?

Since you are from Ohio, you might be able to relate to this issue since the Cleveland Indians' mascot of a broadly-grinning Indian is offensive. We've yet to see a pro sports franchise with a broadly grinning Anglo applying to an entire race.

Please don't cite the Chicago White Sox as an example. I am wearing white sox as I write now. But in looking at your journalistic record, I believe you are a professional of integrity who would want to know if something you're doing is not sending the intended, progressive message.

Thanks, Mr. Kotz, for any answers you could provide.

Tim Chavez
Columnist, Hispanic Link News Service,
Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Drill, drill, drill demand is sick, sick, sick ... and wrong for the planet and our families

CNBC's Larry Kudlow and a host of Republican lawmakers are pushing for more domestic oil drilling despite the price for a barrel of oil falling faster than U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' integrity.

America doesn't need more oil drilling. For the sake of the world, stop encouraging more carbon emissions ... BECAUSE THE FREAKIN' POLAR ICECAP IS MELTING TO NOTHING! What other proof do we need that our lifestyle and economic base are destroying this planet?

Demand for oil is going will continue to plummet as the Chinese and world economies fall into recession. Drill, drill, drill for who?

But let's look beyond dollars and cents, which I realize is difficult for Kudlow and his colleagues to do since they are representing big oil profiteers and constituents who drive dinosaur-sized SUVs.

Shell Oil just reported that net profits hit $11.5 billion in the second quarter. And here's one reason why: the local station where I live carries Shell products. And it has been quick to raise prices by 10 cents a day if the price of a barrel of oil rises $10 that day on the market. Yet it has been turtle-like in lowering prices amid the current dive. So if Washington wants to know how these oil companies are racking up huge profits, the conduct of my local station tied to Shell is one answer.

If the price of gas remains too high, then SUV owners will need a more energy efficient vehicle. That means a smaller vehicle, which most poor folks have to drive anyway.

Families across this nation have discovered that staying at home more often is actually not so bad. You actually can talk to one another and find worthy things in each other, just like on The Waltons and even Roseanne. Imagine that?

A lot of people are even saying the gas price crisis has been a blessing. They have more time to do more substantial things at home. They aren't wasting money at hyper-expensive places like Disneyland and Disney World. Local tourist attractions are benefiting, which means a greater contribution to the local tax base to fund services. Imagine that?

Now let's consider T. Boone Pickens, energy baron, who made his fortune from drill, drill, drill for oil. He has been paying for TV commercials to tell Americans that we can't drill out of this energy problem. He is promoting wind power and natural gas. This nation has a bunch of both -- particularly when Kudlow and his comrades get talkly and preachy.

So don't fall for public policy proposals that address our weaknesses, not our hopes. President Bush as usual is way behind the thinking curve on this matter and other issues. I'm sorry to write the following truth, but the days cannot pass fast enough until he is out of office. Most certainly, human beings suffering under 287g deportation and ICE raids cannot long survive this punishing presidency.

So chill, chill, chill, Larry Kudlow and your GOP colleagues. The only drill, drill, drill that's needed is on your brains to eliminate your sad shortsightedness and selfishness.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mail call! Here is my response to a passionate reader who needs to look beyond the anger

Dear randyjet,

You have to have a camera at the border to prove someone has entered the country illegally. Such a crossing is indeed a felony.

So what prosecutors can only prove is that these human beings(you probably want to argue that label, too) are in the country illegally -- a civil offense. That's what the letter of the law demands.

It's really quite simple to understand, when you don't let hate or ignorance get in the way.

Most people who are charged with being illegally here have come to America LEGALLY -- as seasonal workers to harvest crops and work on golf courses, rebuild New Orleans or work at amusement parks or at an assortment of menial labor workplaces because Americans are too lazy to do these jobs ... or perhaps there is another reason for not giving an honest day's work for a wage.

So in charging these human beings with a civil offense of being illegally here, the court has to recognize that the immigrants have simply overstayed their visas.

Meanwhile, American businesses cry for these workers to be let back into the country because Americans really don't want to work ... or perhaps there is another reason.

You see, it is easy to stereotype an entire people. Of course, Americans want to work. They work hard. Perhaps it is the lowness of the wage that repulses Americans from some jobs. Perhaps we need to pressure businesses and universities to pay a livable wage? I'm for that. Let's work together.

How do Hispanics survive on such a low wage? Well, they work several jobs. Then they buy their own home and start their own business. Both pay property and sales taxes. Or they ultimately return home and buy land and raise crops to support their family and pass wealth on to their children.

Should we criticize these human beings for being hungry for success as Americans once were?

The University of Arizona found that undocumented immigrants and their families contribute almost $1 billion more in revenue than they use in state and local services in that state. The Social Security Fund would go belly up two years earlier if not for the contributions of undocumented workers. Baby Boomers are retiring. Who will fill their jobs? Hispanics constitute the youngest workforce in this nation.

By the way, some of these human beings stay and fight and die in Afghanistan and Iraq even though they are not citizens of the United States. The Arab Press laughs at this nation and calls these human beings "Green Card" soldiers.

Again, these human beings are needed because too many American citizens don't even want to fight for their own country ... or perhaps there is another reason.

I believe, randyjet, that once you get over the unjustified anger at these human beings, you'll see that everyone wins. That has been the case with every immigrant group that has come to this wonderful country.

And the label of immigrant has to be part of your family tree, too, unless you're an American Indian.

Thanks for reading and writing,
Tim Chavez

Mandela has shown us the way to prevent resegregation of schools and end 287g deportation

Personal experience -- or those of others I respect -- mostly direct my opinions on issues.

And so it is with the school rezoning plan passed by a narrow vote recently in Nashville.

Separate can never be equal in putting mostly one race in one school and most of another race or ethnicity in a different one. I learned that truth in 1974, when I walked into the halls of Frederick Douglass High School in northeast Oklahoma City.

I was a product of what was then called forced busing to achieve racial balance. The federal judge who issued the school order in Oklahoma City was villified, as would be judges in Boston and Michigan simultaneously. But these jurists made the right decision.

For what I and others discovered in being transported many miles from home to another public school and neighborhood was that resources and up-to-date textbooks were in short supply at historically black places of learning.

The science books did not include the moon landing. The microscopes were of a different era. Madame Currie must have used them.

The curriculum did not include Latin until my senior year, and even then it was canceled. So no pharmacists would come out of this high school.

I received a truly inferior education compared to my older brothers who had gone to the predominantly white high in southeast Oklahoma City.

Yet I received the greatest social education possible. I was a minority in a black-dominated high school and neighborhood for three years. I learned of the hurt and humiliation my African-American brothers and sisters had endured. I heard the story of the 1964 state championship basketball game in which the white referees were only calling fouls on the Douglass players.

Without equal parental and community support -- particulary from people of political power -- separation is simply damnation.

That's history.

That's the present time, too.

Now, I have suffered some disappointments since then from both predominant races. African-Americans failed to speak up and act morally at the turn of the millennium for immigrant children in Nashville public schools. These children needing English language help were getting less of an education as required by a federal order with the U.S. Department of Education. Teachers were being swamped and learning curves curtailed in every classroom.

So out of desparation, some teachers made the decision to simply leave immigrant children behind in learning and life. This was not bilingual education. This was simply English language education.

The black school board president at that time promised myself and Father Joe Pat Breen at an appearance on NewsChannel 5 that money would be in the school budget to correct these wrongs. It was not. And then Mayor Bill Purcell ignored our pleas.

Al Gore's deputy campaign manager in 2000, Janet Murguia, a Latina, promised to address the wrongs being done to children who looked me and her. She had worked in the Clinton White House. That was the last I heard from her. Now she heads the National Council of La Raza(NCLR). So you can guess what I think of NCLR.

It seems people of influence in all races betray to the status quo and the powers that be.

The Nashville branch of the NAACP now has threatened to sue Metro Schools or at least get some kind of guarantee for more than $6 million in additional funding for schools that will be segregated as mostly black.

With the way the Metro budget has been hamstrung, I don't believe the securing of that kind of funding is possible through political means. Mayor Karl Dean is trying to find some of the Teflon his mentor Phil Bredesen successfully wore as Nashville's CEO. Sorry, Karl, it's only available to mega-millionaires.

If the NAACP wants to sue, I would be more than happy to contribute to its legal costs. I hope other Hispanics would, too.

Jeff Woods of the Nashville Scene blogged the following this afternoon: Black leaders have settled on a strategy to try to overturn the school board’s resegregation plan. They’ve decided to wait until after the Aug. 7 elections to give the new school board the chance to change the plan. If the board refuses, then a lawsuit is certain, a source tells Pith(in the Wind).

Parents already have come forward to serve as potential plaintiffs, and the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund is compiling a file on the case. Among the documents in the file: Pedro Garcia’s “smoking gun” memos.

The NAACP is holding strategy sessions weekly with prominent black ministers and attorneys.

“Everybody in the meetings understands that, if the new school board doesn’t change this or doesn’t overturn it, then really the reason we’re meeting is to prepare for a lawsuit,” the source says. “There’s no question they will sue.”

It is past time for the most vulnerable among us of all races and ethnicities to share one agenda. Let's start with the lawsuit and support the NAACP. Then let's join together against the 287g deportation program.

The great Nelson Mandela always reminded his followers that "our greatest fear" is not that we are powerless. Our greatest fear is that we are more powerful that we believe.

Securing that kind of belief requires the joining of all the vulnerable of all races and ethnicities to one political agenda. For good and real progress in Nashville, we must put the days of destructive segregation behind us and blaze a new trail of equal justice for all.

Hannity, O'Reilly, Savage and others should address Knoxville church shooting with promise to tone down rhetoric or face legal action$$$

Right-wing talk radio has a lot to answer for in Sunday's deadly shooting of members of a Unitarian church here in Knoxville, TN.

Their angry rhetoric, locally and nationally, may attract listeners and big money and later readers, but it seems to feed hate into those who are already ignorant and sick. Not only does talk radio have a lot to answer for -- which includes Rush Limbaugh -- but so do authors like Ann Coulter who regularly damns people who believe differently than her.

It is my hope that members of talk radio and their "Bash-'Em-in-the-Head Book Club" of authors are targeted in a massive lawsuit by wounded victims and families of the dead in the shooting. Talk radio and extreme right wing conservative authors certainly can be cited for shouting "fire" in a crowded building, which does not come under the protection of the First Amendment. In considering Second Amendment rights, which I support, legal restrictions concerning gun licenses for the mentally ill have been unpheld.

The beating death of a 25-year-old Hispanic man by three white teens in Shenandoah, PA., earlier this month also can be connected to the right-wing hate speech. The teens have been charged with homicide.

I know that conservatives I've formed friendships with and respect across Tennessee do not solely rely on talk show hosts and authors to form their opinions. And there are left-wing pundits who spew an assortment of derogatory messages.

But this shooting case in particular may indeed point to a unique characteristic in the extreme right-wing message that puts a sense of mission into the minds of some to wipe out those who believe differently.

If and when we come across people on either ideologocial side who are taking matters too far in their thinking, then we must correct them and demand of them some sense of mitigation in their anger. That's our responsibility in the marketplace of ideas.

Read below about what the Knoxville News-Sentinel -- probably the best big newspaper in Tennessee -- reports today on the shooting:

Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity on accused shooter's reading list

4-page letter outlines frustration, hatred of 'liberal movement'

By Hayes Hickman

Police found right-wing political books, brass knuckles, empty shotgun shell boxes and a handgun in the Powell home of a man who said he attacked a church in order to kill liberals "who are ruining the country," court records show.

Knoxville police Sunday evening searched the Levy Drive home of Jim David Adkisson after he allegedly entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and killed two people and wounded six others during the presentation of a children's musical.

Knoxville Police Department Officer Steve Still requested the search warrant after interviewing Adkisson. who was subdued by several church members after firing three rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun into the congregation.

Adkisson targeted the church, Still wrote in the document obtained by WBIR-TV, Channel 10, "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets."

Adkisson told Still that "he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office."

Adkisson told officers he left the house unlocked for them because "he expected to be killed during the assault."

Inside the house, officers found "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly.

The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday's mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of "the liberal movement," and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.

Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his "hatred of the liberal movement," Owen said. "Liberals in general, as well as gays."

Adkisson said he also was frustrated about not being able to obtain a job, Owen said.

The letter, recovered from Adkisson's black 2004 Ford Escape, which was parked in the church's parking lot at 2931 Kingston Pike, indicates he had been planning the shooting for about a week.

"He fully expected to be killed by the responding police," the police chief said.

Owen said Adkisson specifically targeted the church for its beliefs, rather than a particular member of the congregation.

"It appears that church had received some publicity regarding its liberal stance," the chief said. The church has a "gays welcome" sign and regularly runs announcements in the News Sentinel about meetings of the Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays meetings at the church.

Owen said Adkisson's stated hatred of the liberal movement was not necessarily connected to any hostility toward Christianity or religion per say, but rather the political advocacy of the church.

The church's Web site states that it has worked for "desegregation, racial harmony, fair wages, women's rights and gay rights" since the 1950s. Current ministries involve emergency aid for the needy, school tutoring and support for the homeless, as well as a cafe that provides a gathering place for gay and lesbian high-schoolers.

What's the real threat to Williamson County? Tommy Campsey's waistline and hypocrite households with undocumented nannies

NewsChannel 5's Brent Fraiser had a good story last night on controversy in Williamson County over a flyer put out by sheriff-wanna-be Tommy Campsey. It showed illegal immigrants as a dark figure in the shadow waiting to wreak criminal havoc.

The sheriff's race here between eight candidates as turned into a "who can be toughest" contest on undocumented workers and their families. But Campsey this week took the matter further and lower, with his flyer calling undocumented workers "criminals" and showing these human beings as shadowy figures.

Here's what we can determine as the truth about Campsey's candidacy and the impact of undocumented workers on Williamson County's welfare:

* The shadowy figure is certainly not Campsey. He makes Jabba the Hut resemble a Richard Simmons devotee. His gross obesity is a very poor image for Williamson County to the public and to children who are fighting an obesity epidemic.

* With his size, it is obvious that Campsey has greatly benefitted from undocumented workers pilng on food at local buffets and harvesting foods at a lower labor cost.

* I was in the Puffy Muffin restaurant 12 days ago in Brentwood at the invitation of a colleague, and it was packed for lunch. I estimated that at least a quarter of the women there were free to dine at leisure because they had undocumented nannies watching their children at home during the summer break. You learn things about a community after living here almost 12 years.

These women privately testify to the dependability and compassion of these undocumented workers with their children. They could not do without them. But when it comes to going public, and watching shameful campaigns such as Campseys, they do not dare say a word in defense of these good people in their very homes. Shameful.

* Being illegally in this country is a civil offense, a misdemeanor. You pay a fine. If we are to call undocumented workers "criminals", then any person who gets stopped driving too fast in a school zone or having a broken taillight is a criminal, too. But Campsey would not dare call white folks any despicable and inaccurate name.

Campsey may well triumph because he has stooped to this despicable low. But I can guarantee him and Williamson County taxpayers -- of which I am one -- that I will sue a Sheriff Campsey and any of the various city police chiefs if any undocumented worker is treated in the least bit unfairly or questionably, as in the case of Mrs. Juana Villegas in Nashville.

There also are two other prominent Hispanic leaders of means who live here. So I will seek their support, too, since they are attorneys who could file the lawsuit themselves.

So voters of Williamson County, you have a choice. Go with Campsey and his bigotry and threaten future economic development and your wallets, or denounce his candidacy and choose a lesser evil.

Your new neighbors at the Nissan headquarters are watching, and so am I.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Political advance of state Rep. Odom could be good news for state's most vulnerable citizens

It is difficult amid the indefinable politics in the state of Tennessee to find an elected official to count on when it comes to the most vulnerable among us.

But if action earlier this month and an analysis last week by the City Paper's John Rodgers are any indication, state Rep. Gary Odom may be one of the few lawmakers standing who is of distinction to carry this weighty banner. He is far from a perfect lawmaker, and I've criticized him sharply in the past for his dedication to the Naifeh Machine.

Rep. Odom, however, broke up an attempt on the board of AccessTN to put a cap on the program's enrollment. It provides coverage to uninsurable people in Tennessee. Some of these enrollees have lost their workplace health insurance when their small business employers decide they can no longer afford to provide coverage and stay operating.

All have pre-existing conditions that disqualify them for private, personal health insurance coverage. Or the policy has a rider that covers costs for every ailment except the one they have. Eligible enrollees also make too much to qualify for TennCare. They are Tennessee's working poor.

AccessTN was created by Gov. Phil Bredesen after he decimated TennCare rolls in meeting his promise to "fix" the state's Medicaid program and also get re-elected.

About 41,000 people are now enrolled. Some members of the program's board earlier this month tried to install a cap of 60,000 amid a deepening economic recession. That's what Odom objected to. Enrollees still pay for their insurance coverage but at a reduced price. They work. They pay taxes. They're just poor.

So Odom spoke up and stopped the momentum on the board. He continues to show some ownership in the cause of protecting those who are hurting. Odom carried the bill pushed by TennCare advocates for premium assistance in AccessTN in 2006. He helped get $33 million set aside for assistance.

In case you want more information, which I doubt, AccessTN is part of the Cover Tennessee comprehensive legislation Bredesen created and got passed into law in a re-election year.

Now let's fast-forward to July 2008 and reporter John Rodgers, who is fast becoming the best legislative reporter in the state. His newspaper still doesn't respect him and does not feature his work often enough on the cover -- or at least provide a cover reference to it.

Rodgers reports that Odom is smartly moving toward becoming the next House speaker. The Nashville area Democrat has made it to majority leader. The current speaker, Jimmy Naifeh, is considering a run for governor. The path definitely has been cleared for the west Tennessee Democrat with Bill Purcell escaping to Harvard University.

So could Odom as speaker and Naifeh as governor be better for Tennessee and its most vulnerable citizens? Any political equation that does not include Phil Bredesen and Marsha Blackburn is a definite step forward.

Obama's appearance at Unity '08 raises new questions on his actual immigration policy

Give U.S. Sen. Barack Obama a lot of credit for making it to Unity '08 and putting himself at risk before an audience that gave him a standing ovation and a lot of lusty cheers.

He still looked tired from his European trip that thrilled a lot of folks over there but sure didn't help his poll numbers over here. He still is in a dead heat within the margin of error with Sen. John McCain. Go figure. To add injury to insult, he had to visit the hospital afterward for a bad hip.

One thing that caught my attention during his appearance -- beyond columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.'s arrogant frown of indignity -- was the comment by Obama on his immigration policy. He said all the right things about being in favor of comprehensive reform but then added that undocumented workers -- after going through the legalization -- would then have to get in line.

Get in line with who?

For how long --- 12 years?

Would they have to pay the fine plus the costs just to get in line?

What happens to their American citizen children here?

What are the rights of these children in all of this?

Sadly, the one question that needed to be asked was not. Would a President Obama in the first hours of his first day of his first term as president make a phone call or sign an order to stop 287g deportation programs in 57 U.S. communities and two states(N. Carolina and Tennessee) across the country and halt ICE raids of workplaces?

Comprehensive immigration reform will take many months and perhaps another year to pass and enact. Relief from 287g and ICE raids are needed now to stop the inhumanity against heads of households and pregnant mothers such as Juana Villegas (DeLaPaz) in Nashville.

The only certainty in this presidential race is that it will be a referendum on Obama's fitness to be president. It is his race to lose. And if he creates more questions with his answers, he will lose it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A clear and present danger to the most vulnerable among us; be aware and get involved now, please

The fight to protect the most vulnerable of Tennessee continues, as the Tennessee Health Care Campaign begins new strategies to raise funds and awareness to battle TennCare cuts now and in the new legislative session.

The latest threat is to our neighbors who are homebound because of age and/or medical condition. Like me, you probably thought they were protected by the nation's safety net.

We're wrong. But it's not too late. If you care about the most vulnerable in your community, please take note of the following alert:

Are you about to lose your Private Duty Nursing?

Have you gotten a letter or call from AmeriGroup or AmeriChoice or another TennCare managed care company about cutting your nursing services?

Are you worried about being FORCED into a nursing home?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, then COME to our training meeting to understand what your rights are and how to appeal. If you do NOT appeal, you may lose part or all of your nursing services and you may end up in a nursing home.

Spread the Word: Pass this email on to your email list. Statewide training for Patients, Family Members, Advocates, Social Workers, Home Health Agencies.

Date: Friday, August 1 (This is the correct date)

Time: 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon

Place: SEIU, Local 205, 521 Gal latin Road, Nashville, TN

Room: Ground Floor

What will you learn at this meeting?

Patient appeal rights under Grier(court ruling)
Patient rights
Right to have a lawyer to represent you
Managed care organization's obligations in the law
Appeal Process
Writing your appeal
Asking for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge
Educate your doctor
Always ask for a Face to Face interview - WHY
Are you ready to go public, contact the media?
If you want to attend, I must hear from you. Email Tony Garr at or call me on my cell phone 615-430-8319.

You care deeply about your patients or your family members. This is the time to show up. THIS IS REAL.

It is real. I know Tony Garr and his wonderful wife and sister. They are people of credibility and strong moral fiber.

It now is our responsibility to act in whatever way possible. Spread the word and the warning for the least among us.

Tennessee's 'Fractured Fairy Tale': The story of Good Ol' Uncle Breddy and King Philip the Great

It is no surprise that I consider Gov. Phil Bredesen a hypocrite -- which is the worst thing you can be in the political arena.

I've learned the hard way in interviewing him and writing about his big economic deals as a Nashville columnist. But what he said last week in a very nicely packaged report by Cara Kumari of WSMV Channel 4 makes even "Congressman" Marsha Blackburn seem like a candidate for JFK Library Profiles in Courage Award.

The school sales tax holiday coming up this weekend, Aug. 1-3, is a creation of Bredesen, not so coincidentially before he was running for re-election. In the years 2005 and 2006(the election year), he was going around the stage encouraging parents to take advantage of this three-day holiday to help their kiddies be prepared to learn.

He didn't seem like a politician at all. He resembled a close friend, or even a relative, perhaps an uncle. Yes, an uncle.

So at the same time as he was peddling the sweets of his sales tax holiday, Ol' Uncle Breddy was telling moms and dads not to worry about the state income tax monster. It would be slain during his next four years, he promised in his loud, assuring voice.

And so it was across the Kingdom of the Kind Mega-Millionaire.

The sales tax roof goes 'poof'
Then, however, a fiscal storm blew in. And the refuge of the state sales tax no longer provided protection from the elements.

So what did ol' Uncle Breddy do in 2007 and 2008? Well, he turned into King Philip the Great. And he cut and he cut and he cut programs for the most vulnerable. He refused to use the Golden Goose Rainy Day Fund to help balance the budget, telling people that the rain really wasn't coming down that hard and the wind was a simple breeze.

Yet this year, Ol' Uncle Breddy/King Philip the Great really started to panic as the storm grew worse. He declared in an official, royal proclamation that 2,300 state workers must lose their heads, er, I mean their jobs.

Most of the Republicans in his kingdom cheered lustily: "All hail, King Philip, all hail. He is now one of us!"

Why, boys and girls? Well, they didn't care about the state worker serfs at all. They really were too poor to care about and many of them were not the unofficial state skin color of favor. Wink. Wink.

But some of the people in Uncle Breddy's political party of "Ye Olde Tired Democrats" questioned him publicly about taking off the heads of state workers during an economic recession. Uncle Breddy momentarily returned and relented. He gave in to his lords and ladies of court, and said he'd offer buyouts.

In a recession? Thanks a lot.

The King gets really angry
Last week, the king or Uncle Breddy was not too happy. It seems that only 1,400 workers decided to leave their jobs and their households at risk during an economic recession. Damn, these selfish serfs! Only thinking of themselves.

Now the King found himself in a terrible spot. But his royalness did not consult any oracle, since his opinion is the only one he really respected. Instead, he spoke to WSMV Channel 4 and said that the sales tax holiday -- that his aler-ego Uncle Breddy offered to moms and dads for their kids -- no longer was a good idea. Actually, it was going to cost the jobs and heads of almost 1,000 serfs.

Bad moms!

Bad dads!

Selfish brats!

Governor: Tax Holiday Jeopardizes More Jobs
Money Could Be Used To Pay State Workers

Reported By Cara Kumari
POSTED: 4:00 pm CDT July 24, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The upcoming Tennessee tax holiday is designed to save consumers money, but it could cost some state workers their jobs, according to Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Video: Tax Holiday Not Helping State Budget Woes

When asked about the upcoming sales tax holiday, the governor said there's nothing he can do about the situation because it's the law. He said if he could take back the holiday, he would in order to help the state's finances.

Bredesen said money that consumers are saving during the holiday is costing state employees their jobs.

Now look at this 2006 news story featuring Good Ol' Uncle Breddy:

Knoxville News-SentinelBack-to-School Sales Tax Holiday Starts Friday

Submitted by Les Jones on Sun, 2006/07/30 - 9:59pm.

Tax holiday on clothes, school supplies, computers:

The designated three-day weekend, which starts at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 6, allows consumers to purchase selected clothing, school supplies and computers without paying Tennessee's state and local sales tax on the items.

Gov. Phil Bredesen proposed the holiday in Tennessee, which is among 13 other states and the District of Columbia that hold sales-tax holidays. It was approved by the Legislature in 2005 and will recur each year.

"Creating this sales-tax holiday was one of my goals from the beginning of my administration," Bredesen said in a statement. "The sales-tax holiday positively impacts education, our number-one priority. The Aug. 4-6 sales-tax holiday will provide tax savings for Tennessee's working families as they prepare for the school year."

The sales-tax exemption applies to clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school supplies with a price of $100 or less per item and computers with a price of $1,500 or less per item.

Holy Jekyll and Hyde, Batman!
It's kind of scary, isn't it, that this kind of person is governor of Tennessee?

To be a serf in the Kingdom of Philip the Great is not a great thing. As one of the great prophets of the kingdom told this lowly scribe, many of the state workers are in his Nashville congregation. The Rev. Enoch Fuzz said they are supporting their households on $30,000-$40,000 a year. That's not a lot of money if you have kids, who Ol' Uncle Breddy used to love so dearly.

Meanwhile, the king opened the public pursue strings to welcome a stranger to Tennessee. By name, the original builder of Hitler's people's vehicle promised to bring jobs here. The king has a $100 million economic development goodies fund to reward people and corporations that already have a lot.

And he allowed Queen Andrea de Conte the First to use $11 million in public money to build an underground theme park below the royal castle for guests and very important people like herself. Her response to critics: "Let them eat cake."

But for the serfs, he has relatively nothing. Their worth is in question.

So there you have it, the Tennessee Jekyll and Hyde story of good Ol' Uncle Breddy and King Philip the Great of Tennessee.

The moral of the story -- run away, run away(as the Monty Pythonians cried upon encountering the flesh-eating rabbit) when Ol' Uncle Breddy comes to your hamlet, lest he return two years later as mean King Philip the Great and demand "off with your heads".

Who is reporter G. Chambers Williams III and why can't he and The Tennessean give us definite numbers on corporate welfare for the VW plant?

Never late than sorry, The Tennessean and reporter C. Chambers William III made their first attempt at informing state taxpayers about how they are having to pay in corporate welfare for auto jobs at the VW plant in Chattanooga.

Chambers used the qualifiers of "some estimates" and "not known" about the size and value of the giveaways for VW. If he could not get access via local and state governments to report all these numbers, then that sure would have been a better column for Editor and Vice President Mark Silverman in today's Issues section. He and his newspaper are supposedly champions of open records. Here's an area, Mr. Silverman, that you should tackle in print.

But it would be hard for him to do that. He and a lot of the Tennessee news media leaders serve as cheerleaders for economic development -- or what passes for it in the political arena -- at the cost of taxpayers.

Mr. Chambers really isn't at fault in his reporting, except for the first FOUR paragraphs of his story that read like an editorial instead of an objective examination. Has The Tennessean heard of attribution? Perhaps not.

I attended a writing session Silverman led -- before he came to The Tennessean and I contracted leukemia -- in which he and then Tennessean Editor Frank Sutherland agreed that some long-time reporters do not require attribution.

Yes, they claimed that. The reporters at The Tennessean cited as worthy of not using attribution in news or sports stories were reporters Kirk Loggins and Jeff Legwold. Along with many other long-time pros at The Tennesseans, these two journalists have long been gone.

The biggest loss of the departures was investigative reporter Sheila Wissner, who had the saavy to report BEFOREHAND on all the goodies Dell Computer was promised from then Mayor Bredesen to come to Nashville.

She discovered that the promised corporate welfare over 40 years would cost taxpayers more than they would receive. The VW deal is over 30 years, so that span makes its economic payback for all the goodies given even more in doubt.

Yet The Tennessean editorially endorsed the Dell deal before it went to a vote of the Metro Council, and an MTSU professor intervened and produced WRONG numbers to dispute Wissner's fine reporting.

We all know what happened. The deal was approved. Bredesen and others crowed about how Nashville was going to become a high-tech corridor.

But it gets worse. Then billionaire Michael Dell decided after initial Nashville operations to move the high-paying manufacturing jobs out of Music City and over to Lebanon. He left lower-paying, box-filling jobs in Nashville. And the city was left paying big taxpayer gifts to Dell for every job he still had here, manufacturing or box-filling. The Purcell administration then tried to come in and clean up this mess.

Yet if Chambers reporting is credible, the state -- under Bredesen -- is now following previously failed policy in offering another significant and annual taxpayer gift for each job -- this time to VW.

How can Bredesen get away with this?

Are there safeguards in the VW deal to prevent that corporation from pulling a Michael Dell?

Will Tennessean reporters be required to use attribution in their stories, instead of making the same anecdotal claims as were used with Dell in Nashville?

Would The Tennessean consider making an big offer to Shelia Wissner to come back and do reporting on this matter of interest to taxpayers?

I hope The Tennessean would take the above comments constructively, because there is a way out of reporting that leaves more questions that it answers and column writing that is not pertinent to the moment.

Everyone of us, including me as a subscriber, needs a better Tennessean that is more comprehensive in its reporting. While veterans who have been bought out of their careers and/or who have left for new opportunities are hard to replace, there is progress that can be made with less experienced reporters.

Certainly, a more thorough use of Lexis-Nexus in adequately researching past economic development deals locally and statewide would provide fodder for more questions and better analysis -- particularly in the play story on the front page of the Sunday newspaper and still in the historial shadow of the Dell deal.

Overcoming all these obstacles, however, requires effective leadership from the top. Mr. Chambers tried to do a good job on his story. That point is quite evident. Perhaps an editor rewrote his first four paragraphs. It happens. I know. But Mr. Chambers also needs the direction of editors who have been here a long time and seen all the political tricks played by Bredesen and others.

Without that kind of leadership in the ranks and at the top, newspapers not only here but across the country expose themselves to extinction ... which not only would be bad for this nation but for all the many dedicated rank and file employees at The Tennessean and elsewhere.

They and their families deserve better. Taxpayers, too.

Grandson of German immigrants: Blame for immigrant's beating death is with ranting rabble

A friend of mine and Nashville attorney -- the grandson of German immigrants -- sent me the following comment to the AP story about the beating death of a Mexican undocumented worker walking the sister of his fiance back home for her protection.

Three white teens in Shenandoah, PA., were charged Friday with homicide.

"This is what happens when we act like it is okay to openly look down on someone because they belong to another group. Our children take us at our word. They tend to be a lot more zealous and literal about the “ideals” we espouse, but make no mistake about it – they are merely acting out our own ideals.

"When we make it clear, implicitly or explicitly, that it is okay to deride someone or to treat them as a lesser humans merely because they are from somewhere else or they are part of some other group, then the kids take it the next logical step and perform acts of violence on them.

"I blame the 'our country is being invaded by illegal immigrants' folks for this violence. These are the same people who are so quick to blame rappers for causing gang violence or blame heavy metal bands for a teen suicide. If those people are responsible for those tragedies, then the English-First(referendum petition in Nashville) proponents and their hot air talk radio champions are responsible for this one."

This grandson of German immigrants are ride. Hate begets hate. There is no question about it. And that is the inheritance we are leaving to our children in this nation.

May God forgive us and turn this nation away from hate before it is too late.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Two cases but different circumstancs involving death and two undocumented workers

In response to the AP story in the previous post, FOX News on Neal Cavuto's show this morning featured the story of a man in San Francisco killed by an undocumented worker.

And the response of the uneducated on the show was to blame San Francisco for being a sanctuary city, one of 16 in the nation. Such a local ordinance protects undocumented workers and their families from the heinous 287g deportation program.

For the sake of enlightenment, sanctuary city status does NOT protect undocumented workers with a felony criminal record. The accused in this murder case had such a record, but the federal government, again, failed to deport the man even though it knew of his criminal record.

And again, first demand that the Bush administration do its job in enforcing federal immigration law, instead of focusing criticsm on cities like San Francisco.

While these are two cases of deaths involving undocumented workers, the circumstances are much different. People need to take time to think before blurting out an excuse for a federal government not doing its job.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A warning to Mayor Dean and Congressman Cooper: beware the seeds you are sowing in your silence over 287g and Juana Villegas

Here is some good news for all the ardent supporters of the heinous 287g deportation program in Nashville.

And for those public officials like Mayor Karl Dean and Congressman Jim Cooper who continue to maintain their silence over the torture of Mrs. Juana Villegas and the abuse of her newborn son by Music City authorities, this outrage is the kind of conduct your cowardice encourages.

This nation and state continues to turn nasty toward Hispanics -- immigrants illegal or legal. And Hispanic citizens get stained with the same brush of disregard and intolerance.

Be warned about the seeds you are sowing with your acquiescing silence in your community and your children. More and more of the nation is watching.

3 Pa. teens charged in fatal attack on immigrant

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 07/25/2008 01:31:25 PM EDT

PORT CARBON, Pa. — Three white teens were charged Friday in what officials said was an epithet-filled fatal beating of a Mexican immigrant in a small northeastern Pennsylvania coal town.

Brandon J. Piekarsky, 16, and Colin J. Walsh, 17, were charged as adults with homicide and ethnic intimidation in the death of Luis Ramirez. Derrick M. Donchak, 18, was charged with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation.

Additional charges are expected in the case that has roiled Shenandoah, the small, economically depressed town where the attack occurred and police have reported friction between whites and a growing Hispanic population.

"As a result of this crime, a young man has lost his life, many other lives have been devastated, and the borough of Shenandoah has been filled with tensions between many ethnic groups," Schuylkill County District Attorney James Goodman said.

Ramirez, 25, who was in the country illegally, was beaten July 12 during a confrontation with a group of youths in a park. Authorities said the suspects used ethnic slurs during the fight, but declined to say whether Ramirez's ethnicity was the motive.

The suspects, all Shenandoah residents, played football at Shenandoah Valley High School; Donchak, now enrolled at Bloomsburg University, was the quarterback last season. He declined comment after the arraignment, but lawyers for Piekarsky and Walsh said there was no evidence to support the homicide charges.

According to a police affidavit, the defendants and three 17-year-olds were drinking alcohol in a wooded area of Shenandoah, then went to a block party sponsored by the borough's Polish American Fire Co. After leaving the party around 11 p.m., the group walked toward a park, where they encountered Ramirez and a teenage girl.

The youths goaded Ramirez and the girl, saying, "You should get out of this neighborhood" and "Get your Mexican boyfriend out of here," documents said. After Ramirez and the girl began walking away, someone yelled an ethnic slur at him, court documents said. He responded, "What's your problem?"

A fight ensued, during which police said Walsh punched Ramirez in the face. The victim fell and hit his head on the street, leaving him unconscious, after which Piekarsky kicked him in the head, police said.

The suspects fled the scene; Ramirez underwent surgery but died about 30 hours later.

Crystal Dillman, the victim's 24-year-old fiancee, who is white and grew up in Shenandoah, said Friday that Ramirez was walking her sister to a friend's house that night.

"He was just trying to be a good person, making sure she got (there) safe," said Dillman, adding she was relieved the charges include ethnic intimidation.

She says Ramirez was often called derogatory names, including "dirty Mexican," and told to return to his homeland. Similar insults have been hurled at their children, ages 2 and 11 months, she said.

"I plan on moving out of this town as fast as I can. Not because I'm scared. I just don't want to see my children have to deal with what their father dealt with," Dillman said.

Following the arraignment, lawyers for Piekarsky and Walsh said their clients are not guilty and that they would try to have the case removed to juvenile court.

Roger Laguna, Walsh's lawyer, said the police affidavit "pretty much describes chaos, and what you have then after the fact is somebody trying to sort through that and attribute certain acts to certain individuals."

Goodman said a fourth teen will be charged as a juvenile with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation and that charges also will be filed against a man who provided alcohol to the defendants hours before the attack.

Piekarsky and Walsh were detained without bail. Donchak was held in lieu of $75,000 bond.

Preliminary hearings for all three suspects were scheduled for Aug. 4.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The amazing heroics and new momentum behind Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church

The congregation at St. Edward Catholic Church placed more of its faith in action behind the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Nashville by agreeing yesterday to be responsible for a $400,000 loan to pay the $1.5 million debt for OLG's creation.

In addition, the Frist Foundation stepped forward yesterday to give $100,000 to buy computers and establish offices and classrooms for Catholic Charities and St. Mary's Villa CDC at Our Lady's.

Catholic Charities, chaired by attorney Gregg Ramos and daily led by executive director William Sinclair, will shift its services to Nashville immigrants to Our Lady's. St. Mary's will offer pre-K daycare to children of working mothers. That's a marvelous service to the Midstate economy let alone Hispanic working families.

"We originally asked for consideration of funding from Frist for our computer needs on the campus," Sinclair said in a prepared statement. "Pete Byrd became interested in the array of services we will be offering and visited the campus.

"He 'encouraged' our team to expand the request to include: all computers for Charities, the CDC and a bank of 10 stations and a server for the network; all telephone systems and sets for both Charities and SMV; all office equipment for Charities and a generous amount for the SMVCDC to purchase classroom equipment.

"Pete Bryd also told us that they know we need the funds now to be able to move forward and they are sending the entire $100k next week."

The Frist family continues to give to a better Nashville. Their generosity and judgment in providing Mr. Byrd the flexibility to help in a broader and visionary way is most appreciated.

A busy history thanks to a strong shepherd
Our Lady's opened Dec. 12, 2007, on Nolensville Road, in the former home of Radnor Baptist Church. Now it is one of the largest Catholic churches in Tennessee, with 5,000 people attending weekend masses.

Despite the large numbers, it has been one man and his faith that has made Our Lady's possible. Father Joe Pat Breen signed the loan documents with the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, making him officially responsible for two Catholic parishes.

That's a lot to take on for a 73-year-old Nashville native with heart problems. That's a lot for one man to take on, being responsible for answering appeals by the late Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict the XVI to look after Nashville Hispanics and immigrants nationwide.

Father Breen has taken the pastoral, diocesan and political lead in shepherding the enormous Hispanic Catholic population in Nashville. He should be retired or considering retirement. Yet the unofficial "Bishop of Flat Rock" continues by deed to earn his title and gain more admirers.

Beyond raising more than $500,000 in the community and contributing $5,000 of his own money, Father Breen has encouraged his flock to take ownership of the fate of their Hispanic brothers and sisters -- and fellow immigrants.

St. Edward's congregation has contributed more than $330,000 over two years toward making Our Lady's in Nashville a reality. Even now amid a recession, it continues to contribute about $3,000 each Sunday. The working poor congregation of Our Lady's has given more than $80,000 toward retiring the debt.

Two large and affluent Catholic congregations have stepped forward to contribute $125,000. St. Philip's in Franklin and then pastor Rev. Kirk contributed an astonishing $100,000. The Williamson County church also has its own Hispanic ministry. Holy Family Catholic Church and Father Ed Alberts gave a most generous $25,000 amid its own building campaign.

Those who have participated personally and congregationally in giving to the miracle of Our Lady's should now consider themselves officially invited to be part of the upcoming 500th anniversary of Our Lady's only appearance in the Western Hemisphere. Set aside Dec. 12, 2031, for the greatest celebration Nashville has ever seen.

Paying rent and sweat equity while giving service
Besides providing critical community services, Catholic Charities and St. Mary's will be paying more than $30,000 annually in rent to Our Lady's for their offices. So that will help the congregation make the large monthly payment on the diocese's loan.

In regards to the Frist Foundation donation tied to these organizations, Sinclair added: "My compliments to Eileen Beehan, Shirley Lopihandia and Terry Horgan of Catholic Charities and Mike Miller of St. Mary Villa CDC for putting together a great proposal in a very short period of time."

Despite the greatly reduced price for the buildings and property that now make up Our Lady's, about $300,000 in spending has been needed to refuribish the 72,000 square feet in the buildings. Various lots of land also have had to be cleared. Lawn maintenance equipment had to be purchased. Carpeting, painting, air conditioners and new windows are just some of the needed projects.

If not for the sweat equity of parishoners, that cost would be multiplied several times over in labor hours and artisan skills. Altars and chairs have been carved in wood and stone and donated. Votive candles stands have been wielded and painted. Murals have been done by children and professional artists. The list goes on and on.

It ultimately is the goal of Our Lady's advocates to retire the $400,000 loan as soon as possible. That way, the church can be on its own financially and expand its mission to address needs and opportunities. So monetary donations are still needed for this miracle. If you are reading this post, please send me an e-mail and I'll tell how to give, or call Father Breen at (615) 833-5520. Any gift of any size is welcome.

On Tuesday, Father Breen, OLG pastor Father Fernando Garcia and OLG administrator John Martinez hosted an official from a Dallas organization considering a grant to Our Lady's and its broad mission.

So the whirlwind of giving and heroics around this new church continues, despite the heinous 287 deportation program and the support of the mayor, congressman and sheriff behind it.

Read here for more exciting updates, as the people of light battle the descending darkness in Nashville.

The summer of 2008 has been filled with too much death and pain in the Nashville area

It was not for a lack of praying that Anita Anderson passed away this morning.

The death of this Williamson County educator, mother and beloved wife has hit many people hard, particularly those of us who have included her and her husband, Rogers, in our daily prayers.

Besides the heat and drought, the summer of 2008 has been one too filled with death and pain. The death yesterday of the Rev. J. Howard Olds -- retired pastor of Brentwood United Methodist Church -- was difficult for those of us who have admired his long, courageous fight with cancer. We shared hematologists, Dr. John Greer at Vanderbilt, a man of integrity, skill and passionate politics. And my wife and I kept him in our daily prayers like Anita Anderson.

Nashville, too, has lost some of the finest people in hall of fame educator Mary Craighead and businessman philanthropist Monroe Carell, Jr. Both made it their life missions to rescue the most vulnerable among us. Who will fill this void? Who will say, "here I am Lord ... ?

Earlier this month, Sumner County lost former County Executive R.J. "Hank" Thompson. It was my honor to meet and speak with him four years ago at my speech to county Republicans. He died of lung cancer, which does not receive the kind of research dollars necessary to effectively battle this killer. You don't have to be a smoker to get lung cancer. And when you get it, the descent to death often is quick.

Don't lose heart. God does answer prayers, just not according to our weak wisdom. Still, His way is hard. I can tell you that the people who care for those of us with cancer are the more heroic, even though they'd refuse the distinction. My wife was still awake when I would slip in and out of awareness two years ago in a Vanderbilt Medical Center bed. These family members stay aware during all the terror. Then, they must think about the unthinkable if we die -- carrying on.

Rogers Anderson, mayor of Williamson County, definitely married up when he joined his life to Anita's earlier this decade. I got to have dinner with them at a local political function years ago before cancer became a part of our lives. Their eyes twinkled when talking of the other.

Rogers is one of the nicest and most competent public officials I've met. Yet like me, he has a rascally side and likes to tease those he likes and loves. Anita held her own and gave more back. She and Rogers were the perfect match. They had everything except the length of years.

Rev. Olds left a wife of 43 years. She, too, would probably not admit to her heroics. But like Rogers, Sandy Olds shares a kinship of deep love and difficult hurt. They should remain in our prayers.

Despite medical advances and lifetimes of longer length in this country, cancer remains a cruel master on this earth. It is good that more people go into remission, at least temporarily. We learn to live in the moment as the rest of the world passes by on its too-busy schedule. I know that if and when I come out of remission, my passing will be quick. And that's all right.

It is only then that cancer is defeated, by the most powerful and compassionate force of a forgiving and loving God.

Yes, faith abides, because earth is not supposed to be heaven. And life is unfair, as the late President John F. Kennedy once reminded reporters at one of his celebrated press conferences. Still, our selfishness clings to the delight of the presence of these wonderful people too soon departed.

O, Lord, console your people at such departures. Heal the wounds of these long battles against cancer and other diseases. And when our time comes, turn our eyes skyward, in anticipation of blessed reunions in thy light and thy wonderful presence. Amen

ATTENTION NISSAN EMPLOYEES: You're not in California anymore; welcome to the Old South

For all the 1,200 Nissan employees who have moved here and been overwhelmed by the cheap cost of housing and the lower tax burden, remember that there are no bargains in life.

You get what you pay for, or what people in the Old South and here in Tennessee don't want to pay for. And we're cheap here when it comes to investing in enlightenment and tolerance. You'll discover the heavy price being paid by your soul and conscience -- and those of your children -- to live here.

If you're Hispanic, you'll discover that you're living in a hostile environment to the Spanish language, surnames and the color of your skin. Don't leave your home without your driver's license or your seatbelt not on. You're target No. 1 of law enforcement authorities.

Old times, they indeed are not forgotten. But many of us cannot look away, nor move away, because we know the vulnerable people who would be left without advocacy. The only way to really change what is wrong is from within. So some of us hope your presence will bring more soldiers to the fight we're losing.

Don't let Nashvillians fool you about how progressive of a city they have. It's not, period. The public school board just voted to resgregate schools, according to white versus black. A Hispanic mother, Juana Villegas, was tortured by local law enforcement authorities and her child was separated from her soon after birth over the Fouth of July weekend.

Her terrible crime? A civil offense. She was in this country without needed documentation. And she was arrested for a traffic offense of operating a vehicle without a driver's license. Tennessee doesn't allow undocumented workers to get licenses.

Just think what would have been done to her if she had done something violent. Yes, your state has not resolved the matter of undocumented workers either. But at least there is some recognition that Hispanics were in America before there was an America on the West Coast. As Delores Huerta likes to say, "we didn't cross the border; the border crossed us."

Es verdad!

There are things you'll see and experience here that will be shocking from your more diverse and tolerant lifestyle in California. The South has severely regressed in the humane treatment of people, this time against Hispanics. More than 1,500 people LEGALLY in this country have been detained and questioned for hours in Nashville even though the 287g deportation program here was sold as only going after undocumented immigrants who were criminally dangerous to society.

Yes, politicians lie, even in California. But there is a heavy dose of ignorance with each dishonesty here. And it's willful ignorance. The FBI raided the state Legislature here several years ago for lawmakers making money unlawfully under an federal sting.

Thankfully, you'll find pockets of exception. For instance but not exclusively, Vanderbilt University and Medical Center are an oasis of public service, enlightenment and compassion. Some churhces here make a big difference outside their own four walls. They peform a lot of heroics. But the silence of too many congregations to social outrages is deeply disturbing and telling.

WWJD? He'd walk away from Nashville.

But of course, you're lucky to still have a job in this recessed economy. I'm sure few of you were invited to the lavish state-by-state receptions for your decision-making executives. Your company's North American headquarters is located in Williamson County, just south of Nashville. People here are nice, as are many people in Nashville. Family life is big.

But their leaders also are talking about bringing 287g to Williamson County. Every sheriff candidate is trying to sound tougher than the rest on illegal immigration.

Encourage people down here you meet to not embrace 287g as in Nashville, and the cost to the soul and conscience.

So be careful, neighbors. Watch your back and your values and embrace those here you find valuable. Protect your children. Nurture their minds with an overriding sense of humanity to all.

Be warned. You've moved to the Old South, where old times are not forgotten. They're simply relived.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The letter of the law and the Judaeo-Christian tradition/ethic ... which is supreme in the torture case of Juana Villegas and newborn son?

From reading all the comments about the growing and needed coverage of the torture of Juana Villegas and the abuse of newborn son in Nashville, sides have been distinctly drawn across the county.

Why punitive treatment of the undocumented is necessary
One side argues that because Mrs. Villegas was illegally in the country without needed documentation, any torture or abuse she received was justified. She had broken the law. NewsChannel 5 called her "a criminal".

These advocates of punitive treatment, however, are not as vocal about the abuse of her newborn son, an American citizen.

Yes, Mrs. Villegas faced previous deportation proceedings. She and her family have been in this country since 1993 -- establishing a home, work history and the raising of four American citizens. NewsChannel 5 can overeagerly call someone "a criminal" if he or she is arrested for operating a vehicle without a license and careless driving.

Yet, along with being illegally in this country, those traffic offenses are generally considered minor by the public. And being illegally in this nation is a civil offense, not a criminal one. Perhaps the previous deportation proceedings add a damning aspect to her personal history. But she would have had a driver's license if the state of Tennessee allowed it. That privilege was removed from undocumented workers several years ago.

Still, advocates of punitive treatment contend that undocumented human beings in America don't deserve any right to any humane treatment. As lawbreakers, all that Mrs. Villegas deserves is immediate deportation. That is what the law demands. Without laws, the late Edmund Burke said, there can be no liberty.

Roots of the law point to compassion
Yet from where has the law in the United States taken its direction and attached its roots? Undeniably, it is the Judaeo-Christian ethic -- from the 10 Commandments to the WWJD to Matthew 25.

In the Pledge of Allegiance, our oath is to the republic and the claim of being under God. Ironically, many of the critics of undocumented workers and their families also wear their faith on their sleeves and tout family values and claim to be supposedly "pro-life."

Is human life worthy of being protected just that of citizens? Should Mrs. Villegas simply aborted her child in the womb so she could have avoided torture at the hands of Nashville legal authorities?

Laws have been challenged and changed. Consider Jim Crow in Nashville and throughout the South. Just recently, the African-American woman who earlier challenged Virginia state law against interracial marriages died, and she was celebrated as a hero.

There are no national holidays dedicated to Bull Connor, the infamous, segregationist. public safety commissioner of Birmingham, AL. He definitely protected the letter of the local and state law during the Civil Rights movement. Some people now call Pima County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio "the new Bull Connor", this time for brutalizing Hispanic people under the letter of the law -- federal, state and local or whatever passes for "proper procedure".

Edmund Burke also said that for evil to triumph, good -- or those who consider themselves good -- must do nothing. And that's what Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and local Congressman Jim Cooper are doing, nothing.

The greatest American, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stated the same truth. History -- in reviewing the Civil Rights fight -- would first judge the inaction of the children of light, not the misdeeds of the children of darkness, King told us.

He was right, as history shows us from inhumanity to inhumanity -- the Holocaust, Rwanda, the Spanish Inquisition, slavery in America, Manifest Destiny ... the list goes on and on. Institutions that should have responded instead became the persecutors or supporters of the inhumanity by their silence.

Letter of the law contention is a myth
As for the letter of the law in local courtrooms around the country, it is definitely not followed. Prominent people here who are professional athletes, state legislators and country music stars have avoided the letter of the law for driving under the influence of alcohol and putting other drivers in danger.

Leonard Little, former University of Tennessee football star turned St. Louis Ram, avoided imprisonment for killing a woman while driving under the influece.

The ability of these notables -- to use their vast financial holdings to hire high-powered attorneys -- has provided them the contacts in the legal system to negotiate compromises and hire experts to convince juries that even what they're seeing on police videotape is not true.

Attorneys also have relationships with prosecutors as legal colleagues to get charges reduced or even dropped.

The public accepts this departure from the letter of the law because a strong case is made that the accused has established a positive presence in the community and should be granted leniency. The problem for Hispanics who are undocumented workers is that they don't have the needed amount of cash to hire powerful attorneys. And whether one wants to believe it or not, the color of their skin and the accent in their voice (or inabiity to speak English) dooms them in the legal system.

I won a civics award in 8th grade for my ability to learn all the amendments to the U.S. Constitution. My understanding of these rights also was considered. The lesson I learned from that idyllic setting is nothing like the ugly reality in Nashville and other communities across this nation. People who look like me do not receive the same protections and consideration -- citizens of not, legally here or not.

Why rights must apply to everyone -- including non-Americans
We provide rights to visitors here and even people illegally here because we want the same rights afforded Americans in other countries under their laws.

Yet here in Nashville, more than 1,500 people over the past 14 months have been detained and questioned for hours by the sheriff's department. And they were LEGALLY in this country.

Yet no mainstream media outlet has touched that outrageous story. Why? If more than 1,500 Americans would be detained and questioned by Chinese officials this month at the Summer Olympics, CNN and every other news outlet would be providing extensive coverage. And all the letter of the law advocates for the punitive treatment of undocumented workers and their families would be the loudest voices crying foul and demanding an immediate U.S. invasion of the Asian superpower.

Of course, this crowd would say that matter would be entirely different. The Chinese are Communists and notorious persecutors of the defenseless and innocent. And any charges that have been pressed against the Americans are probably trumped up. What law could these Americans break to endanger the welfare of the Chinese?

That argument is interesting and sadly parochial, considering the number of innocents including children that this nation has killed, abused and tortured under the cause of bringing so-called civilization and God to supposed "savages". And Tennesseans celebrate historical figures like Davy Crockett and Sam Houston who took arms into Mexican territory and supported subversive elements to overthrow the government. Under today's defintions, that would make Crockett and Houston ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS and TERRORISTS.

Go figure.

America's historical bigotry
So what makes the presence of Hispanics here so bad that even torture is justified? This nation's historical bigotry and insistence that European blood and heritage is the only pure trait of Americanism are the root cause of today's xenophobia.

In a nation that claims to be under God and so blessed by the Almighty, the Judaeo-Christian tradition and ethic should remain supreme. Bad laws must be challenged, and we consider the Americans who take on this burden to be worthy of holidays and celebration.

Our pledge also does not include any acclamation of lower taxes. Critics of the undocumented cite the drain on government revenues. Yet in Tennessee, the undocumented spend a larger percentage of their income on sales taxes, which represent the greatest funding for state and local government services.

A University of Arizona study released earlier this decade found that undocumented workers and families in that state contributed almost $1 billion more to the support of government services than they used. And Arizona has a much larger population of undocumented workers than Tennessee, and these human beings also fill essential jobs.

They also pay into the federal Social Security fund. The Feds say that these contributions will keep the fund solvent two years longer than expected.

Immigrants bring no more crime
As for crime and a dangerous presence in Tennessee, a traffic accident two years ago that killed a Mt. Juliet couple -- and a murder of two Nashvillians -- stirred enough fear for the sheriff here to seek federal approval of bringing the heinous 287g deportation program to Music City. That's it. How many more crimes have been committed by U.S. citizens here? Yes, it is their country in which to commit crime.

Yet the undocumented worker whose drunk driving took the lives of a Mt. Juliet couple had 12 previous drunk driving offenses. The Feds' data system flagged him for deportation early in his drunk driving history, but Washington then did nothing. So instead of making Washington do its job, three Tennessee congressmen supported putting federal immigration responsibilities in local hands. So why are these congressmen needed in Washington if they're only going to bring the burden of federal responsibilities to their districts?

Research of crime figures from 1990 to 2004 in the city of Chicago showed immigrant crime rates to be much lower than those of American citizens. The research was released in a study authored by Robert Sampson, chairman of the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. The impressive study is a must read for legal authorities open to enlightenment.

Any terrorism threat presented by immigrants coming across this nation's southern border also is without evidence. In face-to-face interviews I had with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then-U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, both authorities stated without reservation that undocumented, Hispanic workers and their families were not terrorism threats. Sufficient security was already in place on the border to claim that truth.

Even more, if Republicans quit blocking comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, this nation would have a temporary work program that would require non-Americans to to first register with the federal government to be here. That way, these human beings would not have to risk their lives crossing the desert into this country or being crowded into the back of lethally hot truck trailers. This nation also could follow these human beings more closely in this country and bring them out of the shadows.

Why not bring more federal responsibilities home?
If it is indeed best for local governments to take over federal responsibilities such as with immigration law enforcement, then why not bring the responsibilities of the Social Security Administration(SSA) closer to home?

Its long delay in awarding disability benefits to the financially and medically suffering and dying remains one of this nation's most under-reported outrages. The average wait is two to three years to get benefits after initial denials. I contracted leukemia and almost died two years ago. Yet my first two applications for benefits were denied.

When candidates say that every family in this nation is one serious medical illness away from financial disaster, they are speaking the truth. My wife and I know. It doesn't matter if you live in more affluent Williamson County or more socially challenged Davidson County(Nashville).

Universal health care in this nation is a moral must.

People die waiting on SSA benefits. Some lose their jobs or their employers feel forced to stop providing health care coverage because of rising costs. More people die waiting on SSA benefits than are killed by undocumented workers. Yet no person in authority does anything about SSA's failings, and most of the nation's news media is oblivious.

Following the Judaeo-Christian tradition/ethic
Deep down and by historical standards, we all know why the deporting of undocumented workers is such a priority. It is an easy way for politicians to get votes for re-election. It is an easy way for right wing radio talk show hosts to get listeners. And it is a way to feed America's racist underpinnings that still go unchallenged, no matter how many black men are nominated for the presidency.

As Christ continuously preached, go to the heart of the law. Take it from stone tablets and bring it to life in your actions. His law -- as derived from his Jewish upbringing and faith -- stressed compassion and welcome to the strangers among us.

That point is indisputable. And for a city such as Nashville that has more than 1,000places of worship, the 287g deportation program is the most gross of hypocrises. If these congregations are not going to stand up and act up to force an end to 287g, then their places of worship should be turned into bowling alleys. At least that way, the social worth of these places would be more visible and meaningful.

Yes, definitely yes, by the heart of the law that's rooted in the Judaeo-Christian tradition and ethic, Juana Villegas and her newborn son were wrongly tortured and abused by Nashville authorities.

It's that basic and tragic, no matter the amount of rationalization and ranting by the ignorant and intolerant.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another New Orleans-like tragedy accompanies Hurricane Dolly's approach to south Texas

The following post by my "big sister" Marisa Treviño shows why the growiing Hispanic blogosphere and media is so critical to providing needed news coverage that's not available from the supposed mainstream outlets.

The U.S. Border Patrol announced earlier this year that its humanitarian evacuations(by bus) in the case of hurricanes would screen for the legal presence of the victims in this nation. Victims identified as undocumented would be evacuated but then deported once they reach a safe place. Either way, these hard-working, church-going people lose their jobs, homes and dreams -- hurricane or not.

How that's for conservative, Bush administration family values?

Advocates responded that this policy would result in the most poor and vulnerable in the paths of hurricanes avoiding evacuation. Thus, flooding from hurricanes under this policy would kill many people, primarily Hispanics. In New Orleans, under the watch of the Bush administration, it was African-Americans.

Does someone see a trend here? I really hate to write about such a political possibility, but this trend is unavoidable to point out.

With ICE workplace raids and 287g deportation programs in cities like Nashville, it is not unreasonable to believe that the Bush administration's intent is to get undocumented workers out of this country -- one way or the other. Flood deaths from hurricanes would most certainly be less costly to the federal budget. And another New Orleans-like tragedy didn't really move the Bush administration initially several years ago.

Here is the needed warning from

Hurricane off S. Texas coast leaves some wondering if Border Patrol will make good on threat to screen for undocumented

By Marisa Treviño

Dolly is getting her act together and while that's usually a good thing for most of those with this name, it isn't for this Dolly — Hurricane Dolly, that is.

Proposed trajectory of Dolly through Texas' Rio Grande Valley.
(Source: National Hurricane Center)

The point of impact is calculated to be around Brownsville,Texas. There are reports that people are flocking to the Home Depot stores in the area and stocking up on supplies and materials to board their homes.

The city of Brownsville is giving out sandbags to every resident who brings a proof of residency and a shovel and a multi-agency coordination center is being set up in McAllen to smooth communications between different jurisdictions. The governor of Texas has also activated the National Guard to be on standby in case they're needed.

With all this activity, there is still "an elephant in the room" that no one has openly addressed yet — if evacuation becomes necessary, will the border patrol follow through on their threat of separating the undocumented from the general population?

Continue reading "Hurricane potential off S. Texas coast leaves some wondering if Border Patrol will make good on threat to screen for undocumented" »

Thanks, Marisa, for the warning. Pray that the Bush administration finally realizes that one New Orleans-like tragedy is enough.

Poor Phil Valentine and his dependence on ignorance in immigration debate

Poor Phil Valentine of The Tennessean wrote Sunday of his blind-leading-the-blind dependence on former Nashville talk radio host Darrell Ankarlo for information on U.S./Mexico border difficulties.

According to the columnist, Ankarlo has written books. I didn't even know he could color between the lines. Then Phil jumped atop his high horse and wrote about how all the Mexicans need to change their own government before they come here.

Hell, Phil, Americans can't even change their government in Washington. How do you expect the very poor of Mexico to change their corrupt officials? Perhaps you could go south of the border to show them and lead them with your fiery rhetoric.

Actually, you don't want Mexicans to change their government. That's just another excuse so you don't have a bunch of brown people diluting the rich European blood across this nation. Sorry, Phil, but the American Indians were here first.

Your ancestors -- as illegal immigrants -- came to this land and brought disease and firearms. Whether the civilization they also brought represents progress remains to be seen. All those whiners former Sen. Phil Gramm cited sure don't represent a happy America.

Then there's Tennessee history. There would not be as many Mexicans in Nashville and the state if Tennesseans of lore would have just stayed home and not invaded another country's territory with firearms.

Celebrated figures Davy Crockett and Sam Houston were ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, and simple seekers of fortune at someone else's expense.

These illegal aliens helped preserve slavery on Mexican territory that forcibly became the state of Texas. The government there had eliminated slavery in the early 1800s. But ol' Davy and Sam made sure that inhumanity survived another three decades. Doesn't it make you proud?

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who likes to introduce resolutions in Congress encouraging more knowledge of American history, sure doesn't bring up those facts about this nation's heritage. He prefers the lie, the myth, the non-cruel version of Manifest Destiny -- brought about by another Tennessean, President James K. Polk.

Lamar also prefers supporting the 287g deportation program in Davidson County. The illegals now are somehow different from Tennessee's hisorical illegals.

The Mexican-American War, which then Congressman Abraham Lincoln prominently opposed, forcibly removed Mexican territory in 1848 that became New Mexico, Arizona and California. The Golden State is one the world's biggest economies by itself. Los Angeles isn't named after the Spanish identification for angels by coincidence.

Think of all the Mexicans who wouldn't have been on U.S. soil if Polk had been even the least bit humane and moral. Put those facts in your next Senate resolution, Lamar.

And don't believe the myth that this nation paid for that territory. The $15 million given Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was for reparations -- to pay for the damage and killings by U.S. forces in Mexico.

So if it were not for all these Tennesseans of lore and all the VOLUNTEERS who reported for Polk's phony war, there wouldn't be many Mexicans here to deport and fret over in pushing a ridiculous referendum on English First -- and running 287g over the human rights of pregnant women and their newborns.

Tennessean columnist Phil Valentine wouldn't have anything to write, except more babble of fear and hypocrisy. To be constructive in my criticism, Tennessean officials should seek some accurate balance to Valentine's erroneous rant.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Read how police officer who arrested Juana would conduct himself as Metro Nashville school board member; is Nashville screwed up or what?

As the NashvillePost reported earlier today, the Berry Hill police officer who arrested Juana Villegas (DeLaPaz) and started the torture of this woman three days from delivery of her fourth child is a candidate for a seat on the Metro Nashville school board.

Yes, Sgt. Tim Coleman is running for the District 3 school board seat, which will place him in authority over children in Metro Nashville public schools. Coleman's police chief keeps telling the local news media that this officer followed proper procedure.

But what if the proper procedure stinks, particularly when it comes to arresting women three days from delivering a child for operating a vehicle without a driver's license and supposed careless driving?

Juana and her attorney contend that she had enough identification not to be arrested by state law -- not procedure -- for traffic offenses. She had a Matricula card photo ID and car registration, they say.

The explanation of following "proper procedure" is akin the the excuse of "following orders" at the Nuremberg trials. We always claim "never again" when it comes to inhumanity, yet then we allow it to creep back into our society.

No, Juana's arrest and torture is in no way comparable to the Holocaust and loss of six million innocents. But her arrest and the abuse of her newborn -- by separating mother and son early after his birth -- are indicative of the kind of inhumanity that ultimately leads to worse.

Some Hispanic advocates fear that the anti-immigrant crowd will now rally around Coleman and put him on the school board. Remember, he just needs to win his district, not the whole of Nashville. Tennessean columnist and radio talk show host Phil Valentine probably will become one of Coleman's big backers.

Consider these answers Coleman gave to The Tennessean's survey of school board candidates, published on July 9. His comments would almost be comical if not for Juana's torture and the abuse of her newborn son. I'm only running excerpts to keep readers from falling asleep.


Tim Coleman

Age: 39

Hometown: Nashville

Education: Some college

Employment: Investigator with Berry Hill Police Department

Political experience: None

Top issue: Increasing graduation rates

Question: Why are you running?

Answer: I feel I have a lot to offer to the community. I have been interested in the Metro School Board for many years. ... I want to have input and guide the school system.

Q. Why are you qualified?

A. I feel my qualifications to be a member of the Metropolitan Nashville School Board are wide ranging. My work experiences have taught me to be focused, open minded and direct. I believe that I have the necessary people skills to perform the responsibilities for the common good of the children, community and school system.

Q. What's the biggest issue the Metro school district faces in the next four years and how, if elected, would you address it?

A. This question is challenging. Nashville has been evolving rapidly in cultural diversity. This has placed an emphasis on being able to keep focused and be in a position to meet the demands and strains of this ever-changing landscape. We have got to right the ship and getting the graduation rates up dramatically.

Q. What should the board of education look for in a new school director?

A. I would like to see three things ... to consider when looking for a new director, they are accountability, credibility and common sense. ...

And there you have it. The sad thing about Coleman and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall is that they give a bad name to all local law enforcement, including the Metro Nashville Police Department. But its chief and its officers have acted reasonably and honorably under the burden of the inhumane 287g program.

Now the stain of this inhumanity may well spread to the public school board which is supposed to look out for the welfare of all children, including Hispanic ones. Its record is not good of late. It just voted to desert most African-American children with its decision to resegregate public schools here under the cause of neighborhood rezoning. And the incumbent who Coleman is running against chaired the task force that proposed the rezoned segregation to the board.

So is Nashville screwed up or what? Omigosh, I sound like that guy on WKRN Channel 2!

That's why it is best for the rest of Tennessee and America to avoid Nashville and Davidson County. If you are people of conscience, spend your money elsewhere until Mayor Karl Dean and Congressman Jim Cooper finally address the torture of Juana and her newborn son. They should call for an immediate end to the 287 deportation program and stop Nashville's rapid slide into the abyss of inhumanity and intolerance.

Juana's story of torture reaches the influential Daily Kos website; read what the rest of America has to say about Nashville and Davidson County

The story of the torture of Juana Villegas(DeLaPaz) and her newborn son has reached the Daily Kos website, one of the most influential marketplaces of thought and passion in this nation.

And what the nation has to say about Nashville and Davidson County law enforcement authorities is negative -- with the use of the labels "facism" and "anti-immigrant Mayberry."

Go to to read these comments.

With these comments, it is my hope that the nation will be moved to boycott Davidson County and Nashville as a place to visit. Please, America, spend your money elsewhere. This way, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Congressman Jim Cooper will finally be forced to speak out to force an end to the inhumane 287g deportation program. These men are both Democrats, or what shamefully passes for a Democrat in the South.

Tell these officials what you think of their silence about Juana's torture and their locale's support of 287g. Tell them you're boycotting Nashville and its products. Please keep the communication civil and copy me on your e-mails -- -- so I can publish them and build support:

* Send an e-mail to Congressman Cooper at and click "Contact."

* Send an e-mail to Mayor Dean at

The 287g program has now spread like a virus to 57 communities across this nation. And the state of North Carolina will soon be the first to apply the program statewide. That's Liddy Dole for you and the sheriffs in her state. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which approves petitions from localities to enforce federal immigration law, is hopeless when it comes to understanding any case against the inhumanity of 287g.

So attention must be focused on local officials who bring this program to their communities to win the votes of the anti-immigrant crowd and the followers of fear. And tourism and convention boycotts of these Southern communities is the only way to politically hurt these politicians and force them to affect change. Money still talks the loudest here, particularly if tourists are not paying the high sales tax rate that is continually raised to compensate for the lack of a state income tax in Tennessee.

Here's another reason to stay away from Nashville: the school board just voted to resegregate local public schools. Separate has never been equal, no matter the rationale. But Metro Nashville business and elected officials have chosen to return to the year 1896 and the Plessy vs. Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Thank you Daily Kos for bringing this matter to the attention of your influential readership. And special thanks are deserved by for making the post and smartly assessing the damning situation here, in the South and out West.

We can fight and defeat this bigotry -- against Hispanics, African-Americans and all people of conscience -- beginning here in Nashville.

The plot thickens in the torture case of Juana Villegas thanks to the NashvillePost; national embarrassment to Nashville grows

Kudos to the Nashville Post and reporter Amy Griffith for the following scoop:

Nashville Post
School board candidate arresting officer in controversial 287(g) case
Chief: Officer followed procedure
Email | Print By Amy Griffith

07-21-2008 11:48 AM —
A local school board candidate was the arresting officer in an 287(g)-related incident reported by The New York Times over the weekend.

Tim Coleman, who is running against incumbent Mark North in Madison’s District 3 race, is an officer for the Berry Hill Police Department. According to information provided by the department, Coleman on July 3 arrested Juana Villegas – an illegal immigrant who had been deported from the United States in 1996 – after pulling her over for careless driving.

“He followed proper procedure,” Berry Hill Police Chief Robert Bennett said this morning.

Villegas, who was nine months pregnant, was unable to produce a driver’s license at the time of the arrest. After being arrested by Coleman, she went on to deliver her baby in jail. The situation was the subject of a New York Times story printed on Sunday.

The 287(g) program is a portion of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act that was implemented here in March 2007 and is aimed at giving local governments the power to deport illegal immigrants.

Tennessee GOP comment on immigrants is woefully ignorant, intolerant ... and fun

Pete Kotz, new newsroom boss of the Nashville Scene, wrote a great blog post on English First’s Jon Crisp and the most ridiculous political comment of the year in the state of Tennessee.

On the ridiculous scale, Crisp's comment even exceeded Nashville Mayor Karl Dean's statement in Sunday's New York Times about the torture of Juana Villegas (DeLaPaz).

I met Crisp when he was chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party. He didn't rant and rave and sounded quite reasonable about his politics. So Kotz's post really startled me. Then I read Crisp's comment:

“Sadly in general, today’s immigrants are not the same as those of our past and seem to want to reap America’s bounty while not committing to our culture. Will we become a patchwork quilt of third world nations that have set up shop in Nashville?"


How incredibly stupid!

How historically inaccurate!

Last week, I was speaking to the grandson of German immigrants. The Nashville attorney spoke of Chicago and then cities in the Northeast. There, Italians, Poles and Germans -- for example, not criticism -- created their own little communities of stores, churches, newspapers and other institutions. The native tongue was only spoken. Several generations were able to stay isolated in those neighborhoods and in their native tongue while living in the United States.

In Utica, NY, in the 1990s, I actually came across people living there who still only spoke Italian. So Crisp's comment about the immigrants of the past being more committing to this nation's culture (there is NOT an American culture) is an incredibly nasty plop of horse manure. I wish I could be more eloquent like Mr. Kotz, but that's my failing.

The sons and daughters of today's Hispanic immigrants are picking up English immediately and translating for their folks to various authorities. TV has been one instrument of learning. Survival amid a hostile environment is another. But by the next generation, many of these Hispanic households will only speak ENGLISH -- on their own, not forced by a silly referendum.

That truth happened in my extended family. My cousins and I were raised in English-speaking households of the 1960s and 1970s. Our grandparents were the first to come to this nation from Mexico, recruited by the Santa Fe Railroad to fix and lay track.

Now, to our detriment, we've had to go back to college and community programs to learn Spanish. Thankfully, I am picking it up quickly now, which allows me to work among immigrants in the Nashville Hispanic community in their language to help protect them from the torture of law enforcement authorities and the 287g deportation program. Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church is my continued focus.

I've yet to have one English-Firster or anti-immigrant inflamer take me up on my invitation to come with me to the Hispanic community and speak to the people there about their lives and reasons for being here. It also is beneficial to see America through the eyes of others.

Yet, these others are also picking up English in various church and community programs. And compared to Spanish, English is the most difficult lanugage in the world. It has taken words from so many other languages, while Spanish is derived from Latin and a few other romantic tongues. It is beautiful and logical. My uncle, shot down behind enemy lines in WWII, was able to communicate with French allies because of the common roots of Spanish and French. It saved his life.

English is an amalgamation of words thrown together. It is very difficult to learn. And it's why many Hispanic immigrants feel threatened to use it in public, because making mistakes is embarrassing. I feel the same way about my Spanish.

Verbal skills are one thing, which can come quickly, as Hispanic children have shown. Reading and writing take from three to five years for PROFICIENCY. Grammatical perfection takes even longer -- something that I still am pursuing at my age.

No one is arguing against English being the language of empowerment here. But to deny a place for other languages is just plain dumb. It cheats our children out of preparing for a more diverse 21st Century. Worse, it makes Nashville an isolated berg instead of a member of the world. And the world is where the big money is made to power capitalism.

Businesses know that, but they're too afraid to speak out lest a radio talk show host announce a boycott of their establishment and smash a French car in front of their grounds.

Poor Phil Valentine of The Tennessean wrote yesterday of his blind-leading-the-blind dependence on former Nashville talk radio host Darrell Ankarlo for information on border difficulties. According to The Tennessean columnist, Ankarlo has written books. I didn't even know he could color between the lines. Then Phil jumped atop his high horse and wrote about how all the Mexicans need to change their own government before they come here.

Hell, Phil, Americans can't even change their government in Washington. How do you expect the very poor of Mexico to change their corrupt officials?

Actually, you don't. It's just another excuse so you don't have a bunch of brown people diluting the rich European blood across this nation. Sorry, Phil, but the American Indians were here first. Your ancestors -- as illegal immigrants -- came to this land and brought disease and firearms. Whether the civilization they also brought represents progress remains to be seen. All those whiners former Sen. Phil Gramm cited sure don't represent a happy America.

Closer to home, there would not be as many Mexicans in Nashville and Tennessee if Tennesseans of lore would have just stayed home and not invaded another country's territory with firearms. Davy Crockett and Sam Houston were ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. They helped preserve slavery on Mexican territory that forcibly became the state of Texas. The government there had eliminated slavery in the early 1800s.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who likes to introduce resolutions in Congress encouraging more knowledge of American history, sure doesn't bring up those facts about this nation's heritage. He prefers the lie, the myth, the non-cruel version of Manifest Destiny -- brought about by another Tennessean, President James K. Polk.

The Mexican-American War, which then Congressman Abraham Lincoln prominently opposed, forcibly removed Mexican territory in 1848 that became New Mexico, Arizona and California. The Golden State is one the world's biggest economies by itself. Los Angeles isn't named after the Spanish identification for angels by coincidence. Think of all the Mexicans who wouldn't have been on U.S. soil if Polk had been even the least bit humane and moral.

And don't believe the myth that this nation paid for that territory. The $15 million given Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was for reparations -- to pay for the damage and killings by U.S. forces in Mexico.

So if it were not for all these Tennesseans of lore and all the VOLUNTEERS who reported for Polk's war, there wouldn't be many Mexicans here to deport and fret over in pushing a ridiculous referendum on the English language. And Jon Crisp would not have to make himself look incredibly stupid and historically inaccurate in his comments.

But I could tell Pete Kotz of the Scene had a lot of fun in writing that post. You just don't get that kind of REALLY stupid political comment every day to write on. Savor the moment, then stop the political trend toward turning gross ignorance into public policy.