Danny Carroll, the new SCC and the Coup

From Tom Nichols Facebook Page

From Tom Nichols Facebook Page

After Saturday’s State Convention the new RPI State Central Committee had its first meeting. Having caucused beforehand with almost all of the newly elected (or re-elected) members of the SCC, we had decided to call for a special meeting to elect a new chair and co-chair on June 28th. After our meeting, a couple of us were going to approach Danny and Gopal and inform them privately of our plans. We wanted to give them the option of writing their own narrative about their exit. They could resign quietly and say they were moving on to seek other opportunities, or they could force a vote of the SCC on June 28th to remove them. It was always our intent to give them the choice.

During Saturday’s meeting, Danny was proactive and directly addressed the rumors that he would be removed as chair. He said that he is ‘not a quitter’ and that he ‘would not resign’. At that point, I made the decision unilaterally, to inform him that we would be calling a meeting to elect his successor on June 28th.

Since that time, I have had a handful of people ask me why I am calling to replace the chair and co-chair. (One of my colleagues on the SCC even had someone suggest on Facebook that the flooding in his hometown God’s wrath due to his upcoming vote against Danny.) I have had a couple of thoughtful phone calls and email exchanges on the topic. On Facebook, I promised to post my thoughts (as I do on most issues of importance facing the SCC) on this blog.

This is not about Danny’s faith; this is not about Danny being a conservative. I too am a Christian, born again, a sinner saved by grace. I too am a conservative, I am the one who put a Life section in our platform (pro-life planks used to be in Health and Human Services). In other circumstances, Danny and I could and should have been friends (we are even both bicyclists).  I do believe that Danny is an honorable Christian man, but I also believe that he is not the right man to lead RPI at this time and here are my reasons why.

One email I received said this is a power play on behalf of the new SCC. The power play actually began with AJ’s resignation as chairman. He resigned in order to prevent his removal by the incoming SCC. In the interim, Danny was advised not to seek to be elected by the lame duck SCC. Danny’s election was a parting shot from AJ at the new SCC.

The power play continued when Danny’s (and National Committeewoman Tamara Scott’s) employer, The Family Leader, passed out materials at District Convention stating that 14 of the people who would ultimately be elected to the SCC; were RINOS, would ignore the grassroots, had no backbone, and would simply be cheerleaders for the establishment. They also seemed to imply that we were not Christians. They didn’t choose to just support their candidates they also chose to attack anyone else that they perceived as being supported by the governor. (Interestingly, having support from the establishment was not enough to make the Family Leader single out Bill Gustoff or Gabe Haugland.) The Family Leader’s actions only further poisoned the relationship between Danny and at least 14 of the 16 SCC members.

CORRECTION: It has been pointed out to me that the materials passed out at the 3rd District Convention were NOT from the Family Leader.

I believe that leaders in the Republican Party must ultimately support the party’s nominees. (In the primary 2010 gubernatorial primary, I very publicly supported another candidate myself.) But, the primary is the ultimate act of the grassroots. Danny has said (and I believe him to be a man of his word) that he will support the governor. Unfortunately, as long as Danny is chairman, I am certain that a Jack Hatch ad will feature the Chairman of the Iowa GOP on the steps of the capitol saying he will not support Branstad even if he were to become the nominee.

Finally, this Central Committee (like every other) was elected by the grassroots and has a mandate. A mandate to run the party effectively, promote Republican values and elect Republican candidates. (Which candidates? The ones chosen by the grassroots in the primaries.) I do not believe that Danny Carroll is the right man to chair the Republican Party of Iowa and help us fulfill our mandate at this time.

The 2014 State Platform and the Gas Tax — WTF?

The proposed GOP State Platform calls for an increase in the gas tax

The proposed GOP State Platform calls for an increase in the gas tax

Two posts in a row on the platform, that must be some kind of record. Over the years, I have been as involved as anyone in crafting the platform of the Republican Party of Iowa. At my very first caucus, I was elected to my county platform committee and went on to serve on both district and state platform committees as well. In 2008, I was honored to represent Iowa on the national platform committee. I have chaired numerous county, district and state platform committees and over the years I have spent countless nights into the wee hours of the morning in committee meetings agonizing over the platform.

This year I decided to focus my energies on rules, with the possibility that our senate nominee will be chosen at convention, it is absolutely essential that our rules be in order (pun intended)! I was elected chairman of both the district and state rules committees. Even so, my heart is still with the platform. I feel bad because I turn my back (on the platform) for one caucus to convention cycle and my district platform no longer supports traditional marriage while the state platform calls for a tax increase.

Why such a fuss over the platform? What is the platform anyway? As a platform insider I would like to share my thoughts on what the platform is and what it means.

Some in our party view the platform as an inviolable sacred document that defines the bedrock principles for which are party stands. Those who hold this view believe that the platform is the ultimate expression of the will of the grassroots and Republican (or so-called Republican) officeholders had better follow it to the letter or face the consequences.

Others suggest that the platform is assembled by the most extreme elements of the party. They say the platform is written only by those who are willing to stay until the very end of our conventions and sit through hours of debate or those willing to serve on platform committees sometimes meeting for more that 12 hours at a stretch. The platform then does not represent the party at large, rather it represents the fringe and can be safely ignored by GOP office-holders. In fact the platform may not do any good at all, the only time you hear of it is the day after it is approved when Jan Mickelson, Kathie Obradovitch or Craig Robinson find something to criticize in it.

The truth as usual is somewhere in between. If I did not believe the platform was important, I would not pour my heart and soul into it year after year. On the other hand I know that some people think I am part of that fringe group of party extremest mentioned above.

Of course since I was re-elected to the SCC this year — most of the Liberty Folk and the Family Leader believe that I am a ‘RINO, elitist, statist, establishment, un-principled lapdog of the governor and congressman King. Don’t worry, I am not losing any sleep over it :)

I think I can sum up what I think about the platform by recounting an incident that happened in 2000. I was chair of the 1st District Platform Committee and our district convention was in Cedar Rapids. The proposed platform contained the following plank:

We support a ban on party funds, including soft money, at all levels for candidates who support abortion.

No question the plank was controversial. An amendment was filed to remove the plank and when it came to a vote, it was too close to count. Rather than try, as chair I asked for a standing division even before a delegate could. When the sergeants-at-arms did their count, I had them count all of the conventions officers on the podium who were delegates as well, clearly every vote was going to make a difference. When the votes were tallied the amendment to remove the plank had received a majority by a single vote (something like 275-274)! I announced the vote like this:

On the amendment to remove the plank, the vote count is 275 in favor 274 opposed — the chair casts a no vote creating a tie. Therefore, failing to achieve a majority, the amendment fails — the plank remains in the platform!

It was definitely the closest I have seen to a riot at one of our conventions. I think the parliamentarian and I had to explain at least four times from the podium that the chair can indeed (if he is a delegate) vote to make or break a tie.

Afterwards a house candidate sought me out, he was very angry and asked me to explain myself. He said that he was pro-choice and this plank made him feel not welcome in the party. I told him this:

I support this plank being in our platform. The platform is a statement of principles. And I do want to make it clear to you and candidates like you that your position on this issue is out of sync with the mainstream of the party. I do intend to make you uncomfortable advocating for pro-choice policies. Now if I were on the State Central Committee, it would be a different story. I believe that the SCC should support all Republican candidates on the ballot in November.

So, what do I believe about the platform? I believe it is a statement of principles for the party. Yes, I understand that is is put together primarily by die-hards like me. Must every candidate follow to the letter everything declared in it? No. In fact as we see, the platform sometimes does a 180 from year to year. But the platform does represent the point of view of a portion of the party (how large a portion is up for debate), these people are committed to ideology and when a candidate motivates them they are a force to be reckoned with.

So, while I like the idea of a shorter more concise platform, but I do not think we must have a platform our candidates can run on. I think we must have candidates who can run on our platform.

As to the gas tax, apparently the State Platform Committee added this plank unilaterally. Craig Robinson reports that the plank supporting an increase was added, even though all four district platforms explicitly opposed a gas tax. Ultimately, it will be up to the State Convention to remedy this. My guess is that I will be up to my ears in rules all day but I am certain that others will take up the fight.

Finally, for those who are wondering about the title of this article, I am an Android programmer. In android the most serious error message is a WTF error it stands for What a Terrible Failure :)

The 1st District Platform and Homosexual Unions

1 st District State Central Committee (L-R Chung, Krebsbach, Schulte, Cushman)

Outgoing 1st District State Central Committee
(L-R Chung, Krebsbach, Schulte, Cushman)

Perhaps overshadowing the SCC elections, the biggest news out of the 1st District Convention Saturday was the platform. I have to tell you that the platform has always been near and dear to my heart. For over twenty years I have served on and chaired numerous County, District and State platform Committees. I even had the opportunity to represent Iowa at the 2008 Republican National Platform Committee in Minneapolis. Over those years, I have spent many a night up until 3 or 4am working with the committee to hash out a statement of principles for the Republican Party. I believe that it was 1998 while serving as the secretary of the State Platform Committee, Chuck Hurley was chair — that in compiling and organizing the planks from the 5 districts I unilaterally created a section in the platform called Right to Life. Until that time, pro-life planks were in the Health and Human Services section of the platform. I wanted to make sure that when future platform committees met, they would not ask the question ‘Are we pro-life’. I wanted future committees to ask ‘How can we best articulate our pro-life position?’

So the news out of the 1st District Convention in Cedar Rapids is that there is no plank supporting or defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Instead there is a plank saying that the government should stay out of marriage.

I do not have the precise wording of the actual plank but I will update this post as soon as I get it.

[[Update: I now have the wording of the plank]]

We support the removal of institution of marriage from government control.

Kevin Hall at The Iowa Republican wrote:

So, who pushed this amendment? Well, its biggest supporter would seem to be Big Liberty acolyte and current SCC member Tony Krebsbach. He was one of the many SCC members who failed to get reelected Saturday …

While Kevin’s statement is factual — the truth is a bit more complicated. As a result of this perception, many have accused Tony of being a supporter of Homosexual Unions (I don’t even like the term Gay Marriage) . While I (if I am to believe social media) am an old white male moderate statist un-principled establishment lapdog of Congressman King and Governor Branstad who just wants to see young people marginalized in the party — Tony is (also from social media) an independent liberty-minded principled constitutionalist Christian who speaks for the grassroots. The point is that Tony and I are from different camps within the party. But we both share a deep Christian faith and along with it a reverence for God’s Word as expressed in the Bible and a belief that God defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

I chaired the 1st District Rules Committee, so I was not present during the Platform Committee meetings. At the convention, I served as Parliamentarian during the platform debate so I did not have an opportunity to speak from the floor on this issue. Before writing this post, I reached out to Tony and he graciously shared the back story with me.

This year, an attempt was made in several counties to shorten and simplify the platform. To make it a statement of principles with perhaps a few legislative priorities attached. Personally, I am less concerned about the format of the platform than I am about its content.

In the platform committee multiple attempts to add a pro-marriage plank failed. Tony only proposed the government-out-of-marriage plank because he did not want the platform to be silent on the issue. In the committee, Tony wanted a pro-marriage plank included. So in the committee (and on the convention floor) he wanted a pro-marriage plank to appear in the platform as it has for several years. As a compromise, he proposed the current plank taking the more libertarian position.

One of the truly curious aspects of this story is that the government-out-of-marriage plank did not make it into the printed version of the proposed platform that was distributed to delegates. When the platform committee met over the lunch hour, they realized the omission and purposed to add the missing plank. During the platform debate the platform committee chair, Tim Busch, announced that a plank had been omitted and since it was approved by the committee it would simply be added to the document. The convention went then defeated the first of three pro-marriage planks that were submitted as amendments to the platform.

As parliamentarian, I told Tim that the best way to resolve the missing plank issue would be to allow the body to debate it and vote on it like any other amendment. This would be fair because the body did not have the opportunity to see the plank in advance and file amendments to modify or delete it. This is where Tony spoke from the floor in favor of this plank. Tony also signed all three of the proposed pro-marriage planks that were submitted that day.

During voting on one of the pro-marriage planks Judd Saul of Black Hawk County started yelling trying to get delegates to vote in favor of the plank, but to no avail.  [[Judd I agree with you, but as parliamentarian my job was to advise the chairman and the body on the rules —I am the one who suggested to the chairman that you should be called to order.]]

This issue is one that has my head spinning. Liberty folk around the state are pointing their fingers at the 1st District and saying ‘see the establishment has no principles’ because they adopted the Libertarian (live and let live and keep the government out of it) position. Likewise they criticize the  establishment for ignoring young people yet this is one of the biggest issues that keeps young people out of the Republican Party. In fact, the body allowed a junior delegate to speak on the issue and he told us so.

I am rambling again. Tony Krebsbach and I differ on a number of issues. I ran against him Saturday as I did in 2014 for SCC but he’s a stand up guy and it is both unfair and inaccurate to suggest that he is a supporter of homosexual unions.

I understand that traditional marriage is probably a losing issue today. 2010 when the Family Leader led a successful effort to not retain three of the justices who approved Varnum was ages ago. A similar effort to remove Justice Wiggins in 2012 failed.  Even so, I am confident that the State Platform will have such a plank — if not I will be one of those fighting to get one included.

HawkeyeGOP (David Chung) for 1st District State Central Committee

David Chung for State Central Committee

David Chung for 1st District State Central Committee

To my Republican friends in the First Congressional District, two years ago at our district convention in Grinnell, you elected me to represent you on the RPI State Central Committee. In those elections, there was a slate of candidates that won almost all the seats on the SCC. I was one of the few independent candidates to be elected from any district state across the state.

These two years have been frustrating, the majority faction of the SCC swept all of the elected and appointed committee positions. They replaced every RPI staffer with people from their own faction. Those of us on the outside found ourselves marginalized and ignored. I often learned about what the SCC or party chairman was doing by reading it in the press. I have really struggled with the decision to seek re-election to the SCC. In the end, I have decided to run for re-election.

There is much work to be done. It looks like we will have a largely new State Central Committee, and I think that I can play a role in its success.

If you elect me to represent the First District, I promise:

  1. I will continue to be an independent voice on the SCC. I am not beholden to any candidate, special interest or faction.
  2. I will remain neutral and not publicly endorse any candidate in a contested primary.
  3. I will not use my position for financial gain.
  4.  I will work with you and the 1st District Executive Committee to keep you informed and seek your input on the crucial issues facing the Republican Party of Iowa.
  5. I will vigorously support every Republican candidate that you choose through the primary process.

I hope to see you on April 26th in Cedar Rapids at the District Convention. If you have questions or comments please feel free to contact me at 319.431.5282 or dchung@dchung.com.

 

The RPI Leadership Elections — Don’t Believe the Press Release

The Republican Party of Iowa

The Republican Party of Iowa

As I predicted, at this weekend’s SCC meting, Danny Carroll and Gopal Krishna were the only candidates for RPI Chair and Co-Chair. The meeting went smoothly with no conflict and only a few groan-worthy moments. (Kevin Hall at the IowaRepublican.com has more on that.)

Shortly after the election RPI put out a press release that said:

DES MOINES, Iowa- Today the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee unanimously elected Danny Carroll of Grinnell as Party Chairman.  …

“I was honored to receive the unanimous support of the State Central Committee during the election for a new Chairman,” said Carroll. …

Don’t believe everything you read. When the meeting started, Spiker took nominations from the floor for chairman. National Committeewoman Tamara Scott nominated Danny Carroll. Loras Schulte moved to close nominations. Then AJ said, “All those in favor of electing Danny Carroll please say Aye.” He then asked for Nay votes and the election was over.

I thought we were voting to close nominations. I had expected that this vote would be done by secret ballot as called for in the bylaws. According to the Bylaws of the Republican Party of Iowa:

… the election of Central Committee officers, the election of members of the Republican National Committee or other business where voting is conducted by use of secret ballots …

After the vote, I chose not to make a fuss … it was a done deal .. Danny Carrol is the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa. When we followed the same procedure for Gopal’s election as co-chair, I was prepared. AJ asked for Aye votes, and when he asked for Nays, I said, “Nay and Nay by proxy for Cody Hoefert.” (Cody gave me his unlimited proxy since he is in Mexico.)

I had the pleasure of voting against Gopal twice :)

Danny was indeed elected with no dissenting votes but it was far from unanimous.

New Leadership for RPI

The Republican Party of Iowa

The Republican Party of Iowa

Outgoing RPI chairman AJ Spiker’s  resignation takes effect upon the election of his successor at this Saturday’s State Central Committee meeting in Des Moines. The meeting will be held at RPI headquarters and is open to the public. The meeting starts with committee meetings at 10:00 am with the main event — the SCC meeting — beginning at 11:00 am.

While some of my colleagues on the SCC are calling for the election to be put off until after the state convention (and for Danny Carroll to act as chair but remain co-chair) it is clear to me that the same faction that elected Carroll co-chair has sufficient votes to hold an election for chair and co-chair this Saturday.

So far the only two announced candidates are: Danny Carroll for RPI Chair and Gopal Krishna for RPI Co-Chair. My prediction is that Carroll and Krishna will be the next leadership team at RPI. Even though they will likely both run unopposed — I will not cast a ballot for either one.

Outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker speaks – ex cathedra

Chairman Spiker addressing the faithful

Outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker addressing the faithful

Some readers may find this hard to believe but, outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker and I have something in common. AJ is Catholic and knowing the man (I mean this as a compliment) most likely devout — I was raised Catholic. So, both of us know what it means to speak ex-cathedra.

Ex Cathedra literally means from the chair. In Catholicism, when a pope speaks ex cathedra, he is speaking from the chair, as the successor to Saint Peter, with the authority of the Magisterum, and in keeping with Apostolic succession. It is only when speaking thus, on matters of faith or morals that the pope is infallible. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable.

This Sunday, outgoing RPI Chairman (I love the sound of that!!) AJ Spiker, had an op ed in the Des Moines Register calling for the legalization of medical marijuana. I should probably point out that though I grew up in the 60′s and 70′s — I have never smoked a joint. (I did smoke some dried banana leaves once at the urging of one of my cousins but it’s not the same.) Notice, I did not say that I did not inhale. Growing up around a bunch of hippies I have inhaled more than my share of second hand pot.

On the merits, regular readers of this blog may be surprised to learn that I am not a strong opponent of medical marijuana. I am not a proponent either, I really have not given the issue much thought. I suspect, that in my life I have taken prescription drugs with potential side effects much worse than those of weed. So, while I would not be as strident as outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker, our opinions are not diametrically opposed.

The issue I have with outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker, is that he thinks he is the Supreme Pontiff of the Republican Party of Iowa — not its chairman. One week before his resignation takes effect, Spiker has taken it upon himself to write an op ed piece in the largest circulation newspaper in the state extolling the virtues of medical marijuana. In addition, he has used the party’s social media persona to plug the opinion piece.

I have said before that one of the things outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker has done well is focus more on issues. RPI has been very vocal on life, a gas tax, and the Second Amendment. All of these issues are prominent in our platform and the party has articulated the grassroots position as stated in the platform. The problem is that in this case (and others) he has taken a position not supported by the platform, a position contrary to that held by a majority of Iowa Republicans. It seems that Spiker believes that he is possessed of that Divine infallibility … and therefore such definitions of the RPI Chairman are of themselves … irreformable.

When outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker and his faction took control of the party, they elected a chair and co-chair, they selected a finance chairman and replaced all of the RPI staff with people from their camp. He has been and continues to be absolutely tone deaf to any voices from outside his inner circle. No wonder he thinks himself infallible.

Outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker … [[forgive me dear readers ... I just had to say it one more time :)]]

On Delegates, Conventions and the Rules

delegatesThere is a storm brewing within the Republican Party of Iowa and over the selection of delegates to our District and State Conventions. This is nothing new, there was controversy in 2012 over District Delegates in Scott County (and others) and over National Delegates at our State Convention. In this particular case the center of the controversy is Polk County. Polk County has an unusual way of electing delegates to the District and State Convention.

As I understand it, in Polk County there is a  slate of At-Large Delegates (county party officers, elected officials, etc.) the remainder of the delegates are elected by (or from) their precincts. The controversial part is that the proposed slate of at large delegates included around 100 names. RPI Chairman AJ Spiker wrote ex-cathedra on this saying:

Conventions belong to the delegates. I am looking into allegations that campaigns may have instructed county parties to adopt specific rules that are designed to determine the election of district and state convention delegates. None of our candidates or duly elected delegates should have to fear disenfranchisement.
A.J. Spiker
Chairman, Republican Party of Iowa

With the possibility that the 3rd District Convention could nominate a US House candidate and that the State Convention could nominate a US Senate candidate (not to mention the fact that the State Convention will nominate a Lieutenant Governor candidate) the stakes could not be higher. The allegation is that campaigns are trying to game the system by encouraging counties to adopt rules and/or slates that are favorable to their candidate.

I see that Spiker is looking into these allegations. As a member of the Republican State Central Committee, I wonder what he is planning to do if he becomes convinced that these allegations are true. If there is substance to the allegations, I believe that these actions are both and unethical and improper — but, I do not believe they are illegal or violate any state law or RPI rules. By that I mean a campaign trying to influence a county party is not a violation of rule or law.

On the other hand, I think that the root of the problem is the way Polk (and other counties) elect delegates in the first place.

The Iowa Code (§43.97.3) defines one of the duties of the County Convention as to:

Elect delegates to the next ensuing regular state convention and to all district conventions of that year

Of course many will say, this is still an election, we just have a nominating committee.

According to Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised (11th Edition §46 pp.434-435) the report of the nomination committee is not something that is approved or amended. It is simply to place certain names into nomination. The section further states:

After the nominating committee has presented its report and before voting for the different offices takes place the chair must call for further nominations from the floor.

A nominating committee is certainly permissible but all it can do is nominate. Any nomination from the committee carries no more or less weight than a nomination from the floor.

I really do not mean to pick on Polk County here. They are not the only county whose practices fall outside of the rules. In fact these same comments apply to the way we have chosen at-large National Convention delegates in Iowa. I find it ironic that many of those who are claiming outrage over the situation in Polk County were supportive of or even complicit in the same kind of behavior that elected a national delegate slate at the 2012 State Convention.

There is plenty of blame to go around here. The Liberty Folk were only following a long tradition that my guys had established of using the nominating committee to let a small group of insiders control who got to attend the National Convention. I have written extensively on this topic before and I am not proud to say that I have been part of the cabal that selected delegates in the past. Shenanigans like this allow a small group of people to have inordinate influence over our party.

I am currently serving on a committee with SCC members Joel Kurtinitis, Kris Thiessen, and Mark Doland. The committee is chaired by National Comitteewoman Tamara Scott. We are charged with consideration of bylaw and constitutional changes to be submitted to the next SCC meeting and the state convention regarding the Caucus-to-Convention process.

I intend to propose an amendment clarifying how elections are to be run at every level in the Republican Party of Iowa. I would love to hear your input on this topic.

America

I am not really an NFL fan (I prefer the college game.) But I do watch the Superbowl and I enjoy watching the ads. I thought the best ad this year was Radio Shack — ‘The 80s called and they want their store back’. It was the best because it is true. Radio Shack is an outdated version of an outdated concept and will likely soon go the way of Montgomery Wards and Blockbuster Video.

The most controversial ad this year was not from GoDaddy instead it was from an advertising giant that has created some of the iconic ads (think Polar Bears) of Superbowls past. The ad was Coca-Cola’s ‘America’.

[By way of disclaimer, I am a Pepsi guy, I only drink Coke when I am in the Atlanta airport]

In this ad a number of young girls sing America the Beautiful, each singing a portion in a different language, over a video that jumps between iconic outdoor scenes and images representing a number of ethnic groups in the United States.

One of my favorite radio personalities, Jan Mickelson of WHO referred to the ad as

A beautifully done dose of toxic sludge. This is the intentional opposite of E pluribus unum, Latin for “Out of many, one” Coke is NOT it.

A number of my conservative friends and colleagues expressed outrage at the ad on their Facebook walls and Twitter feeds.

Unfortunately, I think that many of my conservative friends have let their anti illegal immigration zeal be mis-interpreted (or actually become) anti-immigrant. Before anyone accuses me of pulling a Chad Brown I am very much an immigration hawk. Had his campaign made it to the caucus, I would have voted for Tom Tancredo. I continue to oppose any form of amnesty for illegal aliens especially a path to citizenship. I believe that English must be the official language of the United States and the State of Iowa. However, I really like the ad. It is beautifully done as Jan Mickelson said, but I disagree that it is a dose of toxic sludge.

In fairness, I should probably point out that I am a child of immigrants. My mother is from Guam, a US territory. She is a US Citizen by birth but was not a US Citizen at birth. When she was born, before World War II, Guam was a Naval Protectorate of the United States and natives of Guam were without country. Unless they were naturalized, they did not hold United States (or any other citizenship.) The Guam Organic Act of 1950 made Guam a US territory. It also conferred US citizenship upon those born on the island after April 11, 1899. (BTW, that means my mother cannot run for president since she is not a natural-born citizen of the United States.

My father was not a US citizen. He was a permanent resident alien, here legally. He came to this country legally from Jamaica to attend the University of Wisconsin and retired after over forty years as a professor at UNI. I am not sure why he never bothered to become a US citizen. As an aside, I was born just over a year before Jamaica became independent. At the time of my birth my father was a British subject. He later became a Jamaican citizen and held a Jamaican passport. I guess that means if I run for president I might have a Ted Cruz problem. I wonder if I could claim dual citizenship (subjectship?) in the US and Great Britian? Having an EU passport would speed my time through the immigration lines when I work in Europe :) Or, perhaps I can claim Jamaican citizenship. Unfortunately it is too late for me to try out for the Jamaican Bobsled Team for Sochi :(  It could’ve been me and Usain Bolt!

Both John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan referred to America as a city on a hill. Even in these difficult economic times, America, the land of freedom and opportunity, continues to attract immigrants from all over the world. As a nation, we need to embrace those who come here through the front door, those who obey our laws and want to become a part of America. One of the ways that America is special is the way we treat immigrants. Anyone can become an American. People like WHO’s Simon Conway, who come here legally and are naturalized, are Americans. By contrast, a foreigner can become a French citizen, but they will never be French.

[Aside: I know there will be some reading this who will immediately say, that it is arrogant to refer to ourselves as Americans — America is a continent, not a country. But America is a nickname for the United States of America, like calling a beloved grandmother 'Nana'.]

So why am I not offended about hearing America the beautiful sung in different languages? Because we are out of many one (E pluribus unum). We ask immigrants to this country to adopt our language and culture but that does not mean that they completely give up theirs. Most of our great American cities have little Italy’s and Chinatowns. Last year I visited the three largest Polish cities in the world, Warsaw, Chicago and New York. Here in the upper Midwest you see the influence in food, culture and architecture of Czech, German and Scandinavian immigrants. I spend a lot of time on the West Coast with large Asian immigrant communities. Initially these communities have retained much of their native heritage including their language. Many of the old-timers, understandably, never became truly fluent in English. Subsequent generations typically assimilate very well. English is eventually their first language and over time many lose their ancestral languages all together.

I thought it was interesting to see the videos of the individual girls who did the singing on the video. All of them spoke perfect unaccented English (as perfect as any teen or tween girl’s English can be). What I saw was a group of American teenagers with beautiful voices who just happened to be a generation or so removed from their immigrant heritage singing respectfully of their homeland in the languages of their ancestors.

As an American, a conservative and a patriot, I am an immigration hawk, I believe that English must be our national language, I believe in American Exceptionalism, and I still believe that immigrants should be welcomed into our city on a hill.

A Brown Man reflects on White Santa

Brown Santa

The Author as ‘Brown Santa’

Last week Megyn Kelly of Fox News stepped into a controversy of her own making buy declaring that both Santa (Claus) and Jesus (Christ) were white. Kelly was referring to a column in Slate by Aisha Harris suggesting that Santa should be represented by a Penguin.

Kelly said:

For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white …

For the record, Kelly is white (and blond) and the author of this blog has occasionally referred to himself as:

One part yellow, two parts brown and on part black — which makes me at least as black as Barack

Our culture has become hypersensitive about race. One of the side-effects is that for white people (including white Hispanics) race has become the third rail of public discourse. Yet minorities are free to say whatever they want about race with almost no repercussions. So, while my cracker friend Steve can’t blog about this topic, for fear of being called racist — I can.

As I have mentioned in other posts, I grew up with out any really strong racial identity. My neighborhood was as integrated as any in Cedar Falls. Most of my neighbors were educated professionals like my parents, primarily engineers and college professors. I hate to admit it but I always thought of myself as being just like all my friends — white. It was interesting when in middle school my father took a sabbatical and we lived for three years on the island of Guam. My mother is from Guam and I am half Chammoro (2 parts brown). On Guam I was no longer a minority, I was now in the majority. Interestingly almost all of my friends were haoles (a sometimes derogative term for white people)  probably because of shared experiences.

As for Santa Claus, it is understandable that people want to adopt the mythology of their culture to fit their own ethnic identity. Santa Claus has a convoluted past. The Santa that we recognize in the United States seems to be an admixture of the Greek St Nicholas, and the German/Norse Wodin/Odin. Since Greece is a Mediterranean country St Nicholas would logically be Greek with Greek/Mediterranean features — probably dark skin and brown hair. So, Santa Claus looks like me — he’s probably my size as well!

However, as a brown-skinned person who has lived in a tropical climate I have trouble believing that any of my brown homies would voluntarily leave a Mediterranean climate and move to the North Pole. So even though I have more trouble identifying with the big guy I am absolutely sure that Santa must be white!