Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Super Day

Today was not just a good day for me, but a super one. First off, I completed the last formal academic obligation I had before heading off to Mexico. So, it was great to get that off my shoulders.

Second, although I couldn't make it to Baton Rouge to testify before the State Senate Judiciary committee on the immigration bills being considered there because of my academic obligation, I learned that one of the anti-illegal immigration bills (HB 887 on medical malpractice lawsuit rights) was defeated in the Senate committee. I also learned that HB 25, HB 1357, and HB 1358, which have been very much focal points for me, were voluntarily deferred by the bills' author, Rep. Brett Geymann, following initial tough questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee that indicated he didn't have the support to get them through Committee. Rep. Geymann, in voluntarily deferring these bills, reserves the right to bring them up at a later date for a continuation of the Senate Committee hearing. But, the current legislative session ends on June 23, and so the likelihood of resuscitating deferred legislation at this point is very slim. Usually, when bills get deferred at this point, whether voluntarily or unvoluntarily, it suggests that they are pretty much defunct for this legislative session. But we shall see. It is certainly a positive sign for opponents of the bill. And I can confirm that the Senate Committee chamber was filled with plenty of people registering opposition to the bills. This must have made an impression on the Committee. And if the bills do manage to come up again sometime next week, I will have nothing preventing me from being able to go to Baton Rouge myself to testify against them.

And, third: YES, WE CAN! YES, WE DID! Barack Obama defeated the Clinton machine and has secured enough delegates to be the Democratic Party's official nominee for the November Presidential elections.

It has, indeed, been a super day!

UPDATE: Wednesday, June 4, 11:00AM: Lucas Diaz, who went to Baton Rouge yesterday to testify against the immigration bills, gives a riveting first-hand report on the events of the day. Here's the most illustrating, revealing, and shocking part of it:

Our next order of business was to make it to Judiciary A, where HB 887 had not yet been heard. Thirty of us found open seating where we could and patiently waited for 887 to be heard. When it was called, Representative LaBruzzo stepped up. He, too, was shown the thirty-plus red opposition cards to his bill. He had one in favor, one single lone green card. The Chairman, Senator Quinn, followed the same script, it seemed, as had the Chairman in the previous committee room. She asked hard questions about the bill, specifically the constitutionality of the bill. Rep. LaBruzzo stated (again, I remind you that this is public record and anyone can look it up at the Louisiana Legislature) that he wasn’t a lawyer but that his Senate staff lawyers had not advised him that his bill was unconstitutional. Senator Quinn then responded by reading the section of the constitution that applies to his bill, the section in which it clearly states that “no person” will be denied due process. She then asked Rep. LaBruzzo if he considered “illegal immigrants” as persons, to which Rep. LaBruzzo responded that when it came to his bill he did not. WAIT. WHAT??!!??

So, there we had it: straight from a legislator’s mouth. According to Representative LaBruzzo, of District 81 (Metairie, folks), “illegal aliens” are not to be considered persons–DESPITE the fact that the United States Constitution clearly states “person” and not citizen, or non-citizen, or legal resident, or whatever–it states PERSON. Last I checked immigrants were human beings, regardless of their legal immigration status, and last I checked human beings were considered persons. Unfortunately, our Metairie Representative does not appear to agree, so it begs the question: what does Representative LaBruzzo believe “illegal aliens” are? This would be funny if it wasn’t so scary. We are talking about people’s lives, about laws that one legislator seriously believes should be State law, and that a majority of House members voted up to the Senate. This would be funny if it wasn’t so scary.

But that’s not the end of it. A heated argument began between Senator Quinn and Rep. LaBruzzo regarding federal and state constitution (by the way, the State’s constitution reads in similar fashion as the federal constitution when it comes to due process). The voice of the Nursing Home Association chimed in its support, then the arguing continued until eventually Senator Quinn decided to chide the representative. She accused him of political pandering and expressed her extreme distaste for such activities in her committee and warned him to refrain from repeating the same offense in the future. After that the arguments between the two took on an even more intense flavor until Senator Quinn halted and motioned for a withdrawal. At the same time, Rep LaBruzzo voluntarily withdrew, keeping all of us and the rest of the Senators on the committee from asking further questions or testifying in opposition. However, Senator Kostelka had one comment to add. He chided the Chairman for attacking a representative in public and then publicly and clearly stated that while he was opposed to the proposed bill prior to the committee discussion, he now would vote for it because of the poor treatment Rep. LaBruzzo received. WHAT??!!?? Did we hear that correctly? Yes, we did. Senator Kostelka, a former judge, replied that constitutionality issues were less important than the “de-facing” of a fellow legislator. How interesting. So even when there is experience and expertise at the table, there is no guarantee of impartiality, objectivity, and concern for the common good. But I thought we elected officials to be concerned about the public well-being and not the individual well-being of a fellow elected official? I guess I was wrong in believing differently.
Well, let me add just one comment: Of course, LaBruzzo doesn't consider undocumented migrants to be persons. Anyone who uses the term "alien" to describe someone is consciously choosing a term that purposefully seeks to "dehumanize" that person. So if he doesn't think undocumented immigrants are humans, why wouldn't he interpret the constitution in the way that he does? [As an aside, I wonder what LaBruzzo thinks of a fetus's "personhood"?]

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