Immigration: Our Prejudices

In the past few months I’ve heard a few friends and family complain about immigration. There is this overwhelming prejudice in America (and elsewhere) that immigration is a bad thing. I’ve never bought into that.

But instead of me ranting again, I just want to point out a book I read about (and will be reading soon). It’s Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them. The book has had some excellent reviews. It’s a tome – nearly 400 pages.

Today one friend was going on about how immigration costs the US $800 billion a year. I have no idea where he got that number, and suspect he doesn’t know either. It’s baloney. But don’t take my word for it. Read the book. Philippe Legrain explains and probably does it way better than I could.

One other thing – I always challenge people on the fact that our parents or grandparents immigrated. A very common response: “When my parents came it was legal.” That is not an argument for why it should be illegal now. Also, your parents probably didn’t read the US statutes before coming. Today’s immigrants aren’t reading them either.

Buhrmaster for Congress

Well, the primary’s over. I’m really pleased with Steven Vasquez and his effort. He took Ron Paul’s 7% in this area and turned it into 31%.

But that’s over. It’s time to congratulate the winner, Jim Buhrmaster. He won the primary fair and square. He and his team fought hard, but were always cordial.

On the policy side, Buhrmaster is saying all the right things. The biggest thing I like about him is he talks about how government should spend less, and how Congress wastes money. This the biggest flaw of the GOP – it’s not the taxes. It’s the spending stupid. Jim Buhrmaster gets it. Now we’ve got to put him in Washington where he can do something about it.

Then we’ve got to hold him to it. This is the stop wasting money blog. If you talk about how we’ve got to stop wasting money, I’ll give you credit for that. But you better honor that when you get in.

Go Jim! It’s a whole new ballgame and the odds are so much better than in the past. Buhrmaster has one of the third party lines and his Democrat opponent only has the Working Families line which is few votes. On the issues as a whole, his opponent is pretty far left. Once the mainstream voters figure that out, I think we may well have our first Republican congressman in a long time – Jim Buhrmaster.

Steven Vasquez: The Ron Paul Revolution Grows

Kudos to Steven Vasquez and the Vasquez Volunteers for running a great race. On the one hand I’m disappointed that he didn’t win. But on the other hand, his vote totals were impressive.

Vasquez was outspent in the primary by more than 10-1. He ran on the Ron Paul agenda. Paul got about 7% of the vote in the 21st district in the presidential primary. Vasquez got 30% in today’s primary. He quadrupled the size of the Ron Paul Revolution in the Capital Region. Now we’ll see if we can keep it growing.

Predictions for NY-21

Update: My prediction for the Democratic side looks pretty accurate. Brooks actually won Albany and Rensselaer counties, but Tonko crushed in Schoharie County — 632 out of 925 votes, around 70%. Brooks was next with 124 votes, or 1/5 of what Tonko had. Tonko got 3342 votes in Schenectady out of 5625 total, or 60%. Brooks was 2nd with 969, or less than 20%. Montgomery and Fulton do not appear to have live numbers. I’ll bet Tonko did even better in Montgomery. And Tonko ran a strong second in Albany and Rensselaer. Geography won it for Tonko.

I’m going to go out on a limb and make some predictions.

First, I’m hopelessly biased so I predict Steven Vasquez will win Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Second, and with little or no bias, I predict Paul Tonko wins the Democratic primary. Tonko has a geographic advantage. There are four Albany Democrats in the race. Phil Steck and Tracey Brooks have the backing of some party types and unions. Darius Shahinfar has pulled together a pretty strong campaign without much of the union/party backing. Joe Sullivan is a wild card. So these four Albany Democrats will split the Albany vote with Tonko, who is also known here.

But in the western part of the district, Tonko will romp. He is so well known and well liked in Schenectady and Montgomery counties, which he represented in the Assembly. He is also known and not hated in Fulton and Schoharie counties. Even I like the guy, even though he’s a flaming liberal Democrat who spends our money with abandon. By contrast, the four Albany Dems are barely known in the western parts. A few TV commercials and lawn signs don’t compare to Tonko’s 20+ years of doing the polka at community events.

So I’m guessing Albany County splits so that no one gets more than 30% of the vote. Tonko might get 20%, maybe better. But in the four western counties, Tonko will easily clear 50% of the vote, and maybe he’ll get 70% or more.

And I’m looking down the road a bit, but I predict Sandy Treadwell will beat Kirsten Gillibrand in the 20th district general election. The 20th is 2-1 Republican. Unlike John Sweeney, Treadwell hasn’t had any DWI arrests, hasn’t been caught at a frat party, and has no wife-beating accusations against him. He’s running a good campaign too. Gillibrand is desperate for money, but even if she gets it, it won’t matter. The gerrymandering is too heavy against her. Treadwell will win and hold the seat for 20 years or more. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Just reality in politics.

Gazette Media Bias and the Times Union too

Update: Congratulations to the Troy Record for giving all sides equal time: Troy Record on 21st Congressional District.

The media bias in the Albany area continues with the 21st district race. First, the Times Union endorsed Jim Buhrmaster in the GOP primary. They slammed Vasquez in the process for not living in the district:

Moreover, Mr. Vasquez neither lives in the district nor plans to. Though that does not legally disqualify him from running, it suggests his heart is not truly in the place he seeks to represent.

I don’t know where they got that he doesn’t plan to live in the district, nor do I understand why it matters. Vasquez lives in Saratoga County, three miles from the border of the district. He graduated from RPI, which is in the district, and started up a company here. Most members of Congress live in Washington anyway.

Contrast this with the 2000 US Senate race, when the TU endorsed Hillary Clinton (October 29, 2000). While it is true that she bought a house in Westchester County, there has never been a bigger carpetbagger than Hillary, and the TU endorsed her. And they backed Kirsten Gillibrand even though she was a carpetbagger too.

But we turn now to today’s Gazette, from reporter Mike Lamendola. First there’s the overt bias for the Democrats that they share with the TU – the Democrats come first.

The most transparent bias is in the portion about the “GOP Side.” The quote is below, with comments. Compare the amount of information about Buhrmaster with the amount about Vasquez.

On the Republican side, Buhrmaster is waging a strong campaign against Vasquez. He has raised $167,000 and has the endorsements of every county Republican committee in the 21st District, and he has the Conservative Party ballot line. Vasquez has few endorsements and has raised little money.

Ahem. Vasquez is the only one with an endorsement from a presidential candidate (Ron Paul) and from a major PAC (The Republican Liberty Caucus). Then there’s the local blog endorsement from Upstream. Find a local blogger endorsing Buhrmaster – good luck with that. And what about Burhmaster’s spending? I sent a press release to the reporter and the paper detailing how he wasted nearly all of that money on consultants. No mention of that detail.

Buhrmaster spokesman Josh Hills said the campaign is taking the primary seriously, however. “We are confident we will win, but we are not taking any chances,” he said.

That’s quote #1 from the B campaign. Keep count now.

The Buhrmaster campaign is sending out a third and possibly a fourth mailer before Tuesday.

Um … what mailers? Just taking Hills at his word? These mailers weren’t disclosed in the FEC filing, were they? Oh, but that’s the other press release the Gazette ignored. The truth is that Buhrmaster has done almost no mailings and no voter outreach. His lawn signs just started appearing a few days ago. And for the Gazette, that’s another unquoted statement.

“We think it is important to show that the Republican base is strong and behind Jim,” Hills said. A strong turnout also sends a message to Democrats, Hills added. “We have an eye toward the future,” he said.

That’s quote #2 from Hills; and an unquoted statement for #2 of those. And another quote for #3.

Buhrmaster hopes to step up fundraising efforts after the primary for the general election. “After the primary, you will see an exchange of ideas and you will see some very sharp difference no matter who their candidate is,” Hills said.

That’d be quote #4 and unquoted statement #3. Hmm. Where’s the quotes and statements from the Vasquez campaign?

Republicans believe they have a chance in the district because of the large number of voters who do not belong to any party, Hills said. “There are 100,000 blanks. It is a whole different situation when it is an open seat,” he said.

Okay, so we have 5 quotes and 3 unquoted statements from Hills, the Buhrmaster campaign manager. And zero (ZERO) quotes or statements from the Vasquez campaign.

We sent three press releases this week directly to this reporter, Mike Lamendola. He ignored them. My cell phone number is on the press releases. No call.

That, my friends (ok, and my enemies too – and those in the middle) is a measurable bias. The subtitle shouldn’t have been “GOP Side” but instead “Buhrmaster Side”.

Sarah Palin Speech – Some Thoughts

I watched the Sarah Palin speech the other night. Normally I would avoid something like that, but she seemed such an unusual choice that I wanted to hear what she’d say and how she’d say it.

She clearly spoke well. Of course she had a teleprompter, but she really hammered home some of the lines. My favorite was probably the joke about the difference between hockey moms and pit bulls. The answer, for those who missed it, is lipstick. It’s time for the Dan Quayle comparisons to end.

From a political standpoint, the most interesting part of her speech was the reference to “special needs” children. It is now obvious that one of the reasons she was chosen is her likely appeal to a large and focused group of voters – parents and other family of children with special needs. This doesn’t apply to all such individuals, but there is a substantial segment of that population that is, with good reason, extremely motivated by a narrow set of issues surrounding special education, and other aspects of how government deals with kids with these problems. Since her new baby boy has Downs Syndrome, and her sister also has a kid with special needs.

I was talking about this yesterday with a Democrat friend (yes I have Democrat friends … and yes I have friends) who saw the same thing. We were musing over how many votes this might get McCain – We were both guessing in the 100,000 to 500,000 range.

It’s far from clear that McCain will really do anything for special needs children, or that Congress will go along with him if he tries. If they do something, most likely it’ll be window dressing that wastes lots of money and does little for the kids. But nevertheless, it looks like a savvy (okay, cynical) appeal to a key voting bloc. It’s already working – according to a press release by the National Alliance on Mental Illness on Sarah Palin.

What bothered me most was one of her attacks on Obama – that he supposedly wants to make sure that we read the terrorists their rights. This is just another variation of politicians pretending to be tough on crime – a shill for wasting huge money on the military, police, prisons, courts, protecting abusive cops and for harsh treatment of innocent defendants and “guilty” defendants who suffer from mental health problems. And let’s not forget people who benefit from medical marijuana and those who suffer from serious drug addictions and get caught up in the war on drugs.

In the end, her speech did a good job of moving her past the momentary celebrity thing – the Sarah Palin nude and Sarah Palin hot photos fascination. She did good in front of a teleprompter. Now we’ll see how she does taking questions off the cuff, or in a debate with Joe Biden. On that one, I’m thankful for her. If McCain had chosen Lieberman the VP debate would have been the biggest snoozefest in history.

Steven Vasquez for Congress

The primary is approaching, just 6 days away. If you want someone in Congress who will work to stop wasting our money, Steven Vasquez is the clear choice. Steven has embraced the stop wasting money message. He worked hard on the Ron Paul campaign and has continued with a great group of volunteers.

Vasquez has proven he can do more with less.

Alexa puts Buhrmaster’s website with a rank of over 11 million. That’s maybe 100 visitors a month. Maybe less.

The main Vasquez website is in the 2 millions. That’s far more traffic. Maybe 2500 visitors a month.

And Vasquez’ first website, before the upgrade, still ranks in the 5 million range, around 1000 visitors a month.

So, spending almost no money (I’m not sure if he spent any on the web), Vasquez’ websites are seen by 3500 people a month. Vasquez does more with less and wins on the web. Now it’s time to win the primary!
[Update: Sadly, it didn't work out that way. :-) ]