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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.

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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.

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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!.

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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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A few days ago, Alicia Menendez created a bit of controversy over comments she made about Marco Rubio. For your viewing pleasure:

I called her out on Twitter for her comments, succinctly telling her that she sucks in the process. I had to eat my words as she unexpectedly responded to my tweet and was actually civil and wanted to explain her point to me in a fair manner. She posted a response on her blog and this is my response to it.

Her basic explanation falls down to two points: first, because Marco Rubio doesn’t embrace Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the DREAM Act, or a repeal of SB1070, he’s not considered a national figure for Latinos. Second, that a Latino’s views on immigration policy is a litmus test among the Hispanic electorate.

Her comments highlight a very growing divide among Cubans and other Latinos. (Note: For some reason, Puerto Ricans don’t seem to get nearly as much attention, even though we have an even greater advantage in mobility and migration than Cubans do. That could be a topic of discussion another time.) Because Cubans have been lucky enough to escape a Communist Dictatorship, they’ve been given special treatment when it comes to asylum policy in the United States. This in turn seems to create a resentment among Mexicans, Central Americans, and South Americans who must deal with the monstrous entity that  is our immigration law. Therefore, any Cuban who does not tow the line of “amnesty” or a soft stance on immigration enforcement is a hypocritical and selfish jerk who will never be a true voice for Latinos at the national level. I’m sure Ms. Menendez may take issue with my characterization of her point but that is essentially what she is saying:

I personally find it unsettling that someone who has benefited so greatly from immigration could back a broken system that denies others the same access and opportunity.

For one thing, asylum and immigration are similar but two different sources of law. Immigration law regulates the natural movement of people from one nation to another. A person seeking asylum is requesting protection by the host country from the nation or group he/she is fleeing. Very narrow criteria are used as a basis to determine if a person qualifies for asylum. But very often geo-politics get into the picture. Thus the U.S., being the anti-Communist country as it is, automatically accepts Cuban refugees without them needing to go through the labyrinthine processes of U.S. immigration law.

Marco Rubio’s family benefited from asylum policy, not immigration policy. So I would say it is unfair to characterize Rubio’s (and other Cubans & Puerto Ricans) stance on immigration as some sort of betrayal or hypocrisy. Mexico’s violence may be increasing at the exponential level, but mere increased violence does not grant one asylum or refugee status.

The other implication that Ms. Menendez makes is Marco Rubio’s obligation as a Latino to support a certain view on immigration, or else be marginalized as a Republican who happens to be Latino.  What Ms. Menendez advocates is identity politics, pure and simple. Rubio is Latino, therefore he most conform to certain views. Even though “Latino” encompasses a broad BROAD range of races, cultures, and ethnicities, they all must claim some sort of solidarity with each other on most issues, ESPECIALLY immigration. Hence, Cubans and Puerto Ricans must be on the same side as other Latinos, despite the vast difference in experiences among these groups. It makes no sense to me and implies a racial connotation on Ms. Menendez’s part. She may not have MEANT for it to be racial, and I don’t believe her to be a race-baiter, but her criticism of Rubio’s immigration policy views belies it. How does she explain 4th or 5th generation Mestizos or Mexicans who have lived in Texas since the Texas Revolution? I get the feeling that they probably have the same views on immigration policy as other conservatives.

The fact that immigration enforcement disproportionately affects Latinos does not mean that myself or Rubio must conform to a policy that rewards bad behavior. Ms. Menendez claims she supports a fence and border enforcement, but I almost never hear that publicly. I never hear Rep. Gutierrez talk about securing the border or increasing enforcement on the morning talk shows; his talking points consist of nothing but amnesty and “fixing a broken system” without talking specifically about what parts of the system that needs fixing. (Note: The same is true for the other side as well. Simply securing the border and increasing enforcement isn’t enough to sufficiently solve the issue)

The second point intertwines with the first; there is an assumption that immigration is at the top of Latino’s minds around the country, and Latino views on immigration policy are generally similar. Perhaps it is with those Latinos in the Southwest of the United States, but I wager Puerto Ricans and Cubans (who are a sizable chunk of the Latino community) have other concerns (perhaps the economy? I know it, might be a stretch). Counter with the fact that Latino views on what to do with illegal immigration are fairly divided. While there is broad agreement against SB1070, it seems that a majority of Latinos do not want amnesty for illegal immigrants, and they feel that illegal immigration is a significant problem that needs addressing.

To wrap things up, I suppose my main point to this is it is farcical to assert that Marco Rubio’s views on immigration prevents him from being able to speak for Latino’s at a national level. It smacks of identity politics in which an ethnic minority must submit to a certain view held by his ‘group’ rather than try to make an argument to convince others of his viewpoint. Latino views on illegal immigration are not so homogeneous as Ms. Menendez believes they are. Cuban-Americans are not under an obligation to believe exactly the same as other Latinos. The Latino electorate encompasses a broad range of political beliefs, and immigration policy is no exception to that. Ms. Menendez should acknowledge and embrace that fact, and not advocate the assertion that a single divergent policy position negates a politician’s status as a national figure for his community.

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Struggling…

So I’m trying to revive this dead blog as much as I can. I’ve been far more active on Twitter but never seem to have the time to post a few paragraphs on here when major news breaks.

Specifically THE ELECTION. I’m trying to set this blog up and really trying to find a niche instead of focusing on a broad range of conservative issues. For the most part, I think I’m likely going to narrow this to the Dallas Cowboys (who won’t be getting much face time this season…ugh.), and specifically on politics in Puerto Rico and with the new string of Hispanic GOP politicians who were elected last night.

On a side note: if anyone has ideas on the aesthetics of my blog, I’d appreciate it!

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Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel calls himself “foot soldier” for equality and civil rights – NYPOST.com.

This guy is just getting worse and worse and worse. It’s disgusting that Rangel would start spouting civil rights slogans, and racial animus to try and save his own hide.

I’d be more outraged but by now I’m used to this sort of rhetoric coming from the Congressional Black Caucus and its a sad thing to see. Its talk like this that only further divides the country along racial lines and prevents real progress in terms of racial understanding and unity.

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