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From March 16 on Pedro R. Pierluisi’s website. For those who don’t know, Pedro is the Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico in Congress:

Historic White House Task Force Report is Released

White House supports consulting the people of Puerto Rico on their political status choice, declares that the current status is territorial, and characterizes “enhanced Commonwealth” proposal as impossible

Washington, DC- The Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, called the White House Task Force Report an historic document, one that says that resolution of Puerto Rico’s status issue should be an urgent priority, discusses the economic situation on the Island in detailed fashion, and offers recommendations in important areas like health and education.

“The Task Force Report contains the most complete analysis that we have received from the White House regarding our political status problem. I thank the members of the Task Force for the effort, integrity and care they have shown in addressing a subject of such importance to the people of Puerto Rico. Now, we must take action consistent with the guidance and recommendations set forth in the Report,” said Pierluisi.

The voluminous Report supports the government of Puerto Rico conducting a plebiscite process under local law on the question of the Island’s future political status. The Report expresses a preference that the plebiscite be conducted in two stages, with voters first deciding if they want to remain part of the United States or to seek independence and then, depending on their answer to that threshold question, choosing between either the current status and statehood or independence and free association.

The Report observes that the government of Puerto Rico has discussed the possibility of holding a plebiscite this summer that would seek to ascertain the will of the people of Puerto Rico regarding their political status. The Task Force recommends that the President and Congress support any fair, transparent, and swift effort that is consistent with and reflects the will of the people of Puerto Rico. If the process produces a clear result, the Task Force recommends that Congress act on it quickly with the President’s support. If efforts on the Island do not yield a clear result, the Task Force recommends that Congress, with the President’s support, enact federal legislation.

“We welcome this recommendation because it demonstrates—yet again—the Task Force’s commitment to resolve the status issue. It also confirms what I have repeatedly said: that, for now, the ball is in Puerto Rico’s court,” said the Resident Commissioner.

In addition, the Report buries, once and for all, the three myths long promoted by the leadership of the Island’s Popular Democratic Party (PDP). First, it expressly states that Puerto Rico is currently a territory subject to Congress’s plenary power under the Territory Clause of the Constitution. Second, according to the Report, under any of the various “Commonwealth” proposals that have been put forward by the PDP, Puerto Rico would remain subject to congressional authority under the Territory Clause. Finally, the Report explicitly concludes that the fundamental basis of the PDP’s “enhanced Commonwealth” proposal—namely, the establishment of a covenant whose terms could not be later changed by Congress without Puerto Rico’s consent—is impossible. The Report says that the Obama Administration has taken a fresh look at such mutual consent provisions, and has concluded that such provisions would not be enforceable because a future Congress could choose to alter that relationship unilaterally.

“It is clear that the Obama Administration has dealt a fatal blow to the notion of ‘enhanced Commonwealth.’ The Report explicitly says that Puerto Rico is now subject to Congress’s power under the Territory Clause; that, under the PDP’s various proposals to “enhance” or “develop” the Commonwealth, Puerto Rico would remain subject to Congress’s Territory Clause powers; and that the fundamental core of the PDP’s proposal—the mutual consent provision—is impossible,” said Pierluisi.

The Task Force Report also expresses a clear preference for a plebiscite process over a constitutional convention process to determine the views of the people of Puerto Rico on the status question.

In addition, the Report states that, if Puerto Rico were to become a state, Island residents should control their own cultural and linguistic identity. The Report further notes that, under statehood, English should have the same important role in Puerto Rico that it does today.

The White House Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status was established by President Clinton in 2000, with a mandate to focus on the political status issue. President Bush maintained the Task Force in effect and retained its sole focus on status. In October 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing the Task Force maintain its focus on status, while also making recommendation on policies to promote job creation, education, health, clean energy and economic development on the Island.

This report is virtually a verbatim re-write from Bush’s 2005 report. The island is a territory under Congress’s control and that the island cannot unilaterally change its relationship between itself and the United States. But these plebiscites are usually a crock as multitudes of politicians on the island try to dilute the vote by added multiple variations of the status of “Commonwealth.” I just hope that Fortuno is able to run the plebiscite without having politicians try to dilute the vote with having multiple variations of the term “Commonwealth” stuffed into the ballot.

Last week I had to deal with a serious challenge that tested my level of maturity, my optimism, and my stoicism as a man and a human being. I can’t say I passed this challenge with flying colors. In fact I think I’d give myself a C for the effort. But I’ve pulled through, learned lessons, and ready to move forward.

As some may know, while I have a license to practice law in New York and New Jersey, I’ve been searching for permanent employment with someone, ANYONE, ever since I finished taking the bar exams. For the last 3 months, I have been working with getting a year-long fellowship with a non-profit organization and/or its affiliates. I had gone through several interviews and a few weeks ago I was able to access an exclusive job portal with several open positions. I applied to about 4 of them, and was told I would attend a reception in D.C. last Thursday and interview for one or all of the positions on Friday.

Well, that didn’t happen. I got a call from the organization the day before I was to leave saying that none of the employers I applied to wanted to interview me. And the one position I wanted the most was snapped up just the week before. It was pretty devastating. I had gone through a lot with this organization, conducting a number of interviews, passing through them and moving further and further down the trail to what I hoped to finally become employment. My ambition is to be in D.C. and those open positions would put me exactly where I want to be. That made the cancellation all the more painful.

I was in a rut days after and most of this weekend. I felt like I was back to square one in my job search. I was so sure that I had a job in the bag in the coming weeks, even though technically I was never guaranteed an interview. I put far too much emotion into it and was guilty of counting my chickens before they hatched.

This weekend revealed a lot about myself, but also a lot about who my friends are. When I revealed what happened on Twitter and Facebook, there was an outpouring of support from friends and family. Some gave words of encouragement, others began working to find new leads for me, others gave me an ear for me to blow off the steam of frustration and anxiousness I felt.

Although there are many folks who lent their support to me, I want to particularly thank my parents for putting up with me this weekend, my grandmother who refuses to doubt me, and @TXSusanB, @DinaFraioli, and @MsKittyAlvarez. Those three tweeps have all been my biggest help not only through this endeavor but throughout my job hunt, providing support when I needed it, and tough love when I REALLY needed it. I needed a kick in the ass to get myself out of the rut this weekend and they were more than happy to provide it and I can’t thank them enough.

However, on Saturday I was still feeling down, and feeling sorry for myself. I was taking it out on my parents unfairly and they were having family over for a dinner party. Attending was my uncle Raymond and my father’s cousin Angelo, who was visiting from Florida. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I felt like all it would do was remind me of my current station. Sure enough the first thing my uncle asked me was about the D.C. trip! I did my best to put up a nice face.

During dinner, Angelo talked to me about where I am and where I’d be going. I told him what happened and he told me his life experiences. “It’s never going to be easy,” he said. Setbacks like this are going to happen a lot, and in this economy its only going to be more numerous. It’s all about “working the room, talking to people, and taking that shit job, even though you deserve better.” He said “when you get knocked down 4 times, you get up 8. You can’t let this one eat at you because more will be coming. I believe in you, Sam. I’m 72 years old, but I hope to see you again in 20 years because I know you will be successful then. And when you do become successful, you’re taking me out to McDonald’s for a burger.” Of course I knew all of this, I’ve heard it all. I guess I needed someone to say it to my face who wasn’t a parent. It finally got me over the hump and I can’t thank him enough for it.

The moral of this long-winded, aloof, and slightly self-serving story is that I can’t let setbacks like these tear me up for days on end because there will be more of them around the corner. I gotta get up, brush the dirt off my suit and be ready for the next one cause it’ll be coming, and know that even though those doors have closed, others will open. Also, I am blessed to have the amount of support that I have in my family and friends, and it is unfair for me to take my frustrations and pains out on them. They deserve my thanks, not my scowls.

Sorry I’ve been out for sometime. A lot of my focus has been in searching for employment and so I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties.

However, I have also been working on a major piece that pretty much sums up what my blog is about. I will explain 1) why Puerto Rico ought to be and deserves to be the 51st State in the Union. And 2) I will explain how Puerto Rican statehood would be BENEFICIAL to the GOP in future elections, contrary to conventional wisdom. A shocker, I know. But I’ve been working to make my argument as convincing as I can to even the most hard-lined of skeptics.

The opposite of a ‘Tiger Mother’: leaving your children behind – Parenting on Shine.

I’m sorry but I find this story messed up on so many levels. Have we really gotten to the point where mother’s can just ‘change their mind’ and not be a mother to their children anymore?:

Ten years ago, when her sons were 5 and 3, Rizzuto received a fellowship to spend six months in Japan, researching a book about the survivors of Hiroshima. Four months in, when her children came to visit, she had an epiphany: She didn’t want to be a full-time mother anymore. When she returned to New York, she ended her 20-year marriage and chose not to be her kids’ custodial parent.

These women try very very hard to justify their open abandonment of their kids, with some claiming they were actually doing their kids a favor by upping and leaving:

After a lengthy custody battle and two years of joint custody, she realized that her ex-husband (a pilot with an erratic schedule) wasn’t going to change, and her situation wasn’t going to change, unless she decided to change things for herself. “I realized that by being so nurturing, I was in some ways keeping my children from growing to their potential,” she says. “We talked about it for months and we prepared together, not really knowing what being 3,000 miles apart might look like or feel like.‬”

I also like how the article tries to defend these actions on the grounds that men leaving their kids is “accepted” but a different standard is somehow made for women.

But it shines a light on a glaring double standard: When a man chooses not to be a full-time parent, it’s acceptable—or, at least, accepted. But when a woman decides to do so, it’s abandonment.

Um, what? As if deadbeat dads are treated in high regard in our society, mere virtuous individuals trying to “find themselves” by upping and leaving their kids! What a bunch of unfounded, forced nonsense.

Below is the full text of my first major writing dealing with the statehood issue with Puerto Rico. It was written as a response to Glenn Beck and many Republican commentators who had (and may still have) gross misunderstandings about the bill in question and about the territory of Puerto Rico itself. It was largely addressed to my fellow classmates in law school and to those who knew me, thus I write with a few assumptions known to the reader. It is also fairly crude and clearly unpolished as I was studying for finals when I typed up my rant. I can’t believe I haven’t reposted this on my new blog, but here you go!

 

I must begin by stressing that as a Puerto Rican who has lived his entire life in the United States, I cannot be so presumptuous as having the ability to speak for all or even most Puerto Ricans living on the island. As many of you may have known, I have visited the island on countless occasions, but the foregoing is largely based on my own personal research. Recently, the island has once again attained a small spotlight in the national media, though it is hard to take away from the current oil spill in the gulf and Arizona’s new immigration enforcement bill, both of which have dominated the 24 hour cable networks.

HR2499, known as the “Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010” has recently been passed in the House and has been sent to the Senate for a hearing and vote. It was passed mostly along party lines, with some 40 members of both parties voting against their majorities. I feel that there has been a vast range of misinformation, both upon the premise behind the bill and on the state of affairs on the island, both politically and ideologically. I’m taking this time to try to clear things up on both ends.

First, a brief history lesson: Since 1952, Puerto Rico has been a Commonwealth of the United States. The term “commonwealth” in the context of Puerto Rico is not considered the same as that in the “Commonwealth of Virginia.” This island has been a sort of limbo between an independent nation and a state of the United States. There have been several plebiscites on the island to gain a popular determination on what the residents of the island want. In the most recent one in 1998, the residents voted “none of the above” with just over 50% of the vote, with “statehood” at a close second with 46%. That was with “commonwealth”, “free association”, and “independence” also on the ballot. Clearly, my people at the time had no idea what they wanted :-/. Currently, there are three major registered parties on the island, each representing the top three statuses debated: the New Progressive Party (PNP) which is currently in power and represents pro-statehood; the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) represents pro-commonwealth; and the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) which, surprise! wants independence from the United States entirely.

For a time, there was a meek and often debated understanding that Puerto Rico and the United States were equal players on the role of governance on the island. But in 2005, that understanding shattered when then-President Bush released the report by the “President’s Task Force on the Status of Puerto Rico”. Long story short, the conclusion of the report stated that Congress alone was the sole player in any overarching issues of the island. Basically, the United States could technically do whatever it wanted, including selling the island to another foreign power. I was vacationing on the island when the report released, and then-Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila (PPD) and other pro-commonwealth leaders trashed the report, arguing that they’ve been lied to for more than 50 years. Pro-statehood and pro-independence groups agreed with the assessment. The position was reviewed and re-affirmed again in 2007. As a result, there has been a strengthening movement to once and for all decide the status of the island, and this bill seems to be a culmination of that movement.

Here’s where my patience begins to lose grip: it seems to me that in all the hysteria surrounding HR2499, both political parties and certain political pundits are guilty of: 1) stereotyping Puerto Ricans in terms of where they stand ideologically and how they would vote if the island became a state; 2) complete ignorance on the relationship of the island to the United States in terms of taxes, benefits, and voting rights; and 3) having no clue on political ideologies of the island’s parties.

I’ll address point 3 first. Prior to Luis Fortuno’s victory, the PPD has been mostly dominant on the island. And for the most part, the PPD has been synonymous with the US Democratic Party. While they have mostly been in favor of the “status quo,” they’ve recently changed to become more in favor of autonomy and having a far larger say in their own affairs than what is currently granted to them. In my own personal view, they seem to want to have their cake and eat it to; they want virtually all the sovereign rights of an independent nation, yet demand the same voting rights and military protection at the federal level as they would as a state in the Union. After a slew of indictments against then-Governor Vila for corruption, Fortuno won by a huge margin in 2008, along with the PNP gaining supermajorities in the Legislative Assembly and in a number of mayoral elections.

Here’s what people don’t seem to know or care: Fortuno is a REPUBLICAN. That’s right. He is both President of the PNP and a member of the US Republican Party. The thing with PNP is that it tries to disassociate itself with either the Republican or Democratic parties. That’s why you see that while Fortuno is Republican, the Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico (the single non-voting member in Congress) is a Democrat, despite both being members of the PNP. Hence the reason you see that the stance of the PNP ideologically is split on fiscal issues (some being fiscal conservatives and other favoring Keynesian policies).

Therefore, do not judge a party by its freaking name. Just because the PNP has “Progressive” in it does not mean that the party follows the same left-wing ideology of the “Progressives” of 1900’s America. If that label is to apply to one party on the island, it would be the pro-Independence PIP. These are are hard leftists which border on the Hugo Chavez-style of socialist ideology, though they are trying to lessen themselves into a Social Democracy stance.

On the 1st point, I find myself frustrated and annoyed with both parties as a result of their stances and votes on the recent bill. Republicans who voted against it seem to assume that if Puerto Rico were to become a state, Democrats would gain an automatic 8 seats in Congress (7 House, 2 Senate) and take away potential Republican seats away from states with lower populations (Puerto Rico currently has 4 million people, which would make it the 27th most populated State in the US if it were one). Democrats assume this as well based on the voting tendencies of Puerto Ricans living in the United States.

On the island, Puerto Ricans are stridently socially conservative. And Fortuno is running the island in a Chris Christie-style shake up of the government on the island, proposing budget cuts on the bureaucracy and being more business friendly. The guy has been so popular that he’s being mentioned as a possible dark horse candidate for President in 2012! It seems obvious for me to say it but the politics of the island are far different from those in the Tri-State Area where a huge chunk of Puerto Ricans reside in the US. I won’t say that the island would go completely red, but the notion that this will be another Democratic stronghold is without merit.

The second point I’ve touched already in a previous facebook post, but I’ll reiterate it again: Puerto Rico is NOT getting a sweet deal with its relationship to the US. Yeah, Puerto Ricans don’t pay federal income taxes and they get the benefits of citizenship and military protection. But that’s kinda where it ends. Puerto Ricans pay all other federal taxes including SS and Medicare, yet receive less in benefits from those programs. We are not allowed to go into trade agreements without the consent of Congress, shackling trade within the Caribbean. Oh, and we also cannot vote in Presidential elections (although we potentially affect party primaries ala 2008), have zero representation in Congress, and as stated before, Congress has complete control over the island in terms of self-government on a national stage.

As far as the bill itself, there’s been a lot of misinformation by conservative pundits which also annoy me. First, the bill allows for all Puerto Ricans born on the island to vote, even those currently residing on the island. I don’t see any issue here other than logistics; a birth certificate will prove that for US residents, but how will that come about? Will the ballots be mailed? How do they know where to go? Second, that the Second vote only grants two options: “Statehood” or “Independence.” Since statehood wins by huge margins over independence in previous plebiscites, people think that this bill is just an automatic doorway to statehood, despite whatever results being unbinding on Congress. This was changed by an amendment which inserted a “commonwealth” status quo option to the second vote. So now people on the island have the three main choices given to them as they have had in the past. Where is the harm?

End rant. Now, back to studying for finals like I should be doing instead of writing this little opinion piece.

All thanks to @jimmiebjr for the guide! Lord knows I need it as a CPAC rookie. Oh, by the way, I’m going to CPAC which begins this Thursday from Feburary 10-12.

While I know I’m going to have a blast at this event, I’m making sure I soak up as much networking as I can while there. Lord knows I need it. I’m still an unemployed attorney and desperate for new leads.

I doubt I’ll have time but if I do, I hope to maybe live-update some of the speeches I’ll be attending, including Representatives Tim Scott, Paul Ryan, Raul Labrador, and (GASP! Be still, my heart) Governor Luis Fortuno!

 

 

The Rookie’s Rough Guide to CPAC: Revised and Expanded And Revised!.

I’ve always tried to do these events with the rules in my head, but now I’ll just post them for all to see and enjoy. Only a portion of the rules were my idea, as I obtained lots of suggestions from folks on the twitter, so I thank all who contributed! The reason I say this as “First Annual” is because I plan to do more of these drinking games in the future, including the 2012 debates!

*All drinks equal a sip of beer, because with this many rules, taking shots of beer or hard liquor would put us all away before the halfway mark.

*Disclaimer: don’t be stupid, be of legal age to drink and don’t drink and drive. I’m not responsible if you decide to be an idiot. For non-drinkers, there’s always the Bingo Game!

  • Anytime Obama mentions bipartisanship/unity/coming together/civility, take 1
  • If Obama mentions the Tuscon shooting and uses it to advance a political agenda, take 2
  • If it looks like Speaker Boehner is about to cry, take 1 and make an “awww” noise
  • If Speaker Boehner begins to openly weep, take 3 and announce, “you’re my boy, B!”
  • If Obama defends ObamaCare, take 1
  • If Obama actually uses the term “ObamaCare,” chug
  • If Obama mentions the Congressional repeal of ObamaCare, take 2 and toast it with your friends
  • Anytime Obama announces new spending/”investments”, take 1 and #facepalm
  • If someone makes an outburst during the speech, take 4
  • Anytime Obama uses the phrase “Let me be clear…” take 2
  • Anytime Biden nods in agreement, take 1
  • Anytime Obama mentions the “friends on the other side of the aisle” take 1
  • If shirts are handed out prior to the SOTU, take 3 and remove an article of clothing
  • If Obama says “and there are those who would say…” take 1
  • If Obama says “make no mistake…” take 1
  • If Obama mentions “new tone” or “new era” take 2 and slap the person next to you
  • Any mention of immigration reform, take 3 out of Mexican beer or a shot of tequila, then announce your racism to the world for perpetuating stereotypes
  • If the camera points to two members of Congress from different parties sitting together and holding hands, CHUG

 

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