Odds and ends no. 15

It’s time once again for another compilation of items that aren’t necessarily worth a full post but sparked my interest nonetheless, a post I call ‘odds and ends.’

First of all, this is from a group I’ve supported before, the pro-troop group Move America Forward. I’ll allow spokesperson Kristen Schremp to pick things up from here:

Move America Forward, the nation’s largest pro-troop grassroots organization, is conducting a nationwide tour to support sending care packages to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

“With Americans focused on the economic problems facing our country, we have to ensure that our troops in harm’s way are not forgotten during the Christmas and Hanukkah holiday season,” said Melanie Morgan, Chairman of Move America Forward.

Traveling on the tour will be Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee, – whose son Marc Alan Lee was the first Navy S.E.A.L. killed in Iraq.  Lee said, “I remember his feelings of pride for serving our country, but also the loneliness troops endure during the holiday season.  Instead of celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah with their families, many military men and women will be spending the holidays this year protecting our freedom in far off lands.”

To show the nation’s gratitude and support, Move America Forward’s Debbie Lee and singer/songwriter Diana Nagy (who will perform her hit song “Where Freedom Flies” at each stop) will be on the road encouraging people to send care packages from December 13 – December 19.

In their case, the tour itinerary runs through the southern part of the country, but readers can still donate regardless of where they live by going here.

The next little item is a method to rate bills before Congress from a fairly new group to me called the Sunlight Foundation, a group whose goal is to make Congress more accessible. Blogger Ellen Miller explains:

OpenCongress has just launched Battle Royale, their new feature that collects all the data about Congress generated by users of “My OpenCongress” since January 2008.  David Moore, OpenCongress’ director, describes it as a “Billboard Chart” for legislation or a “Digg” for Congress. Battle Royale lets you see what bills people are loving or hating. It will gauge their user community’s views on legislation by stacking up all the bills, issues, and members of Congress. “This new tool is a key part of our work to harness the social wisdom created on OpenCongress and make it accessible and useful across the Web,” David wrote in an email. One purpose of Battle Royale is to give a bird’s eye view for researching the public’s opinion of Congress. Check it out and you’ll find a list of the top ten most supported and most opposed bills of the past 30 days on OpenCongress.

Perhaps the only thing I don’t care for about Battle Royale is having to log in to express your views; it’s probably holding participation back to some extent. We’ll have to see where the concept goes in the 111th Congress that begins come January.

At this time of the year, there’s a whole lotta listing going on. Yesterday, even with 20 days left in 2008 to come up with a real doozy like the auto bailout, The Business & Media Institute (which is an arm of the Media Research Center, for those of you keeping track of the myriad organizations lobbying inside the Beltway) came up with the Media’s Top 10 Worst Economic Myths of 2008. What surprised me was the amount of depth and linkage placed in most of the categories (all but one had three or more outside links to either their own blog posts or “mainstream” media outlets.) I may have flip-flopped #1 and #2 for starters since the #2 myth affected the election more, but on the whole I can’t quibble a lot with their picks.

Now I’ll shift from the biggest issue of the recent election to one which was predicted to be a much bigger issue a year or so back, and one that could have sank John McCain’s bid had the debate occurred a little later: immigration. This item is a couple weeks old, but the information the Center for Immigration Studies put out is still valid unless and until the laws regarding this change:

Each year, tens of thousands of United States citizens and Legal (LPR), at both home and abroad, meet and marry foreign nationals. Spouses of American citizens have priority over most other immigration categories, making marriage the quickest way to receive a green card. As the new Obama administration prepares to take office, the long dormant debate over levels of legal immigration is sure to resurface, but that debate is unlikely to include discussion of fraud amongst the most common path to American residency. The prevalence of such fraud contributes to illegal immigration, poses potential national security vulnerability, and clogs the system for legitimate applicants.

The Center for Immigration Studies, a non-profit research organization, has released a new Backgrounder detailing the ways the marriage-based green card categories are exploited and offers recommendations to protect the system from fraud. “Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name: Inside the Green Card Marriage Phenomenon,” was written by David Seminara, a former Consular Officer with the U.S. State Department who has adjudicated thousands of marriage-based green card applications in several countries. (Emphasis in original.)

Being a single man, I’ve actually had experience with women finding my Yahoo profile and sending me instant messages wanting to get to America. But as Seminara (whose work I’ve discussed before on this website) notes, while there are thousands of cases where love was found across oceans or continents, in too many cases the marriages are a scam designed to bring someone to America for whatever reason.

On another side of immigration, a group who I regularly get e-mail from but generally don’t use sent me this piece regarding a pair of Border Patrol agents who are a cause celebre amongst immigration hawks and pro-law enforcement citizens, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Antonio Compean:

Gun Owners Foundation (GOF) already has filed not one, but two friend of the court briefs (here and here) for Ignacio Ramos and Jose Antonio Compean. In those briefs, GOF has pointed out to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that the 10-year conviction of the two agents is for a crime which doesn’t exist.


The two agents were convicted of the “Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Crime of Violence” — something which is not an offense, rather it is a sentencing enhancement after the government has established illegal gun possession, use or carrying.

Of course, if the Feds had gone for that kind of charge, they would have run into the problem that the agents were required to possess, use and carry guns on them while on duty. That is why the US Attorney, Johnny Sutton, went for, and succeeded, in making up an offense that would not force him to explain away that the agents are required to be armed.

One of the reasons the Border Patrol requires agents to be armed is so they can use their guns against armed drug smugglers such as Osvaldo Aldrete.

Even if the Supreme Court reverses this injustice done to Ramos and Compean, they could expect to sit in jail for upwards of another two years — for a crime that was impossible for them to commit.

GOF was a friend of the court in a similar case before the Supreme Court. Our position was upheld nine-to-nothing. It involved a drug dealer who took a gun in payment for a bag of dope. The Feds gave him many extra years because he supposedly had “used” a gun in a crime. The Supreme Court agreed that such a view was ridiculous and clearly not the intent of the law. The Fifth Circuit has simply overlooked these fatal flaws in the government’s case.

George Bush is thinking about his legacy. We have a chance to convince him that his legacy is on the verge of staining his reputation with the miscarriage of justice perpetrated by the federal prosecutor, Johnny Sutton. Keep in mind that Sutton lied to the trial court and to the appeals court about Aldrete’s connections with the drug trade. He also concealed from the jury that he was paying Aldrete for his testimony against the agents.

Hopefully, President Bush does not want to be known as one who stood by while innocent men — and the wives and children — suffered because of a blatant injustice.

All gun owners should be alarmed at what the government has done to these two agents. If they will do this to police officers, we cannot assume they will treat the rest of the population any better.

While I do happen to think, along with the GOA, that this pair should be pardoned for a so-called crime committed in the course of doing their assigned tasks, the question I have is open to other bloggers who may be on the mailing list of the entity called Special Guests, or to the company itself.

In looking at their site and their “about us” section, it appears the focus of their operation is placing clients on radio and television as “special guests” – hence the name. Fair enough. SG’s clients pay a fee to get their word out, such as a book to promote. In the case of this e-mail, the client is GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt, who is promoting a new book he’s written.

As readers have probably figured out, one thing I enjoy doing is a short-form interview (Ten Questions.) What I wonder is whether Special Guests is pondering doing the same in the blogosphere, or if I’m just the lucky one who gets their e-mails? Obviously they wouldn’t need to charge a client as much to secure an interview with a website like mine (which is small, but seeks to grow in readership and stature) as they would for a larger, more read website.

There’s times where I get e-mails from people who want to get their word out soliciting interviews with bloggers – this is how I got the last two I’ve done, I just responded to their offer nicely. The good thing for me is that these provide a basis for securing more and better interviews, because I’d like to make Ten Questions at least a monthly feature. You need to start someplace!

It’s a question I thought I’d ask and a good way to wrap up this method I use to clean out my “blog ideas” mailbox.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

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