Where Are The States Rights Supporters When It Comes To Sanctuary States?

Conservatives like to whine about “states rights” when it comes to abortion, drugs, and butt sex, but are curiously silent about “states rights” when it comes to California’s sanctuary laws. While the term “sanctuary state” can vary in meaning, it essentially refers to a state that refuses to assist the federal government and its armed agents in the enforcement of federal immigration law.

While this sounds radical, it’s actually not; it is in fact a well-settled constitutional principle that the federal government may not force state law enforcement agencies to do its bidding. In Printz v. United States, the federal government sought to enforce the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which required state law enforcement agencies to perform background checks of prospective handgun purchasers. Local sheriffs from Montana and Arizona challenged the law on the grounds it was unconstitutional to force, or “commandeer” state officers to execute federal law.

The Supreme Court ruled the Brady Act’s attempted commandeering of local law enforcement violated the 10th Amendment. The opinion, authored by none other than conservative darling Antonin Scalia, reasoned as follows:

Enactments of the early Congresses seem to contain no evidence of an assumption that the Federal Government may command the States’ executive power in the absence of a particularized constitutional authorization… The Government misplaces its reliance on portions of The Federalist suggesting that federal responsibilities could be imposed on state officers. None of these statements necessarily implies-what is the critical point here-that Congress could impose these responsibilities without the States’ consent. 

He continues on to explain the concept of dual sovereignty and the impact of a policy that would require state agencies to enforce federal law:

The Framers rejected the concept of a central government that would act upon and through the States, and instead designed a system in which the State and Federal Governments would exercise concurrent authority over the people. The Federal Government’s power would be augmented immeasurably and impermissibly if it were able to impress into its service-and at no cost to itself-the police officers of the 50 States.

So apparently states rights is a big fucking deal to conservatives in selective circumstances (because they hate women and gay people), yet it’s nothing but crickets when it comes to immigration. Suddenly, the 10th amendment, constitutionalism, and small government are a distant memory. So very shocking.

Not that we should cut the liberals any degree of slack. I’ve never heard any mainstream liberal politician come out in support of completely open borders. Their calls for reform and compassion are still framed in the context of an unduly restrictive and violative immigration scheme, and thus are unrealistic and disingenuous. Essentially, they fully support ICE tearing families apart as well, just perhaps at a somewhat lower rate than conservatives (my, aren’t you the humanitarian then?!).

Dirty Hippie

I had visions of being a carefree glam-hippie mom, clad in boho skirts, big sun glasses, with a happy, naked baby in tow, whisking about braless in the warm glow of the California sun.

It has not quite worked out that way.

I wake up every morning harried and confused, wishing I had 4 hands instead of 2, a kangaroo pouch – or alternatively, and more realistically, some kind of mom utility belt to avoid three trips up and down the stairs to transport this mish mash of stuff – bottles, glasses, phone, baby, receiving blankets, ice packs, and pump accessories.

I have not worn any boho skirts in a couple of weeks, though I own many, because it has been an extremely hot October, and my body is doing something weird post-pregnancy, possibly because of breastfeeding. I used to be cold constantly; I was the person who turned her space heater on in the middle of July once the air conditioning started running in the office. People would start sweating when they entered my office; my boss regularly referred to my work space as a sauna.

Now, I am constantly hot: I sweat in my sleep the first two weeks after Little V was born. I first noticed it in the hospital, and it rather took me by surprise, especially since there is always a nice flow of air conditioning in the hospital. Literally, this night sweating thing has never happened to me unless it was over 90 degrees or I was seriously ill. However, even after that horribleness has ceased, I continue to run hot. Last weekend, I actually sweat a little bit walking around in 80 degree weather. I’m Asian. I don’t usually sweat noticeably unless it’s 90 degrees or I’m exercising, and this new phenomenon irritates me to no end. I pray it is not permanent.

I don’t tow her anywhere for long as of yet, because she is a fatty little baby, gaining a bit more than the normal 1 ounce a day, and while I have decent arm and upper body strength, I get uncomfortable after holding her for just five minutes. I also have not mastered use of the ring sling, so that baby-wearing thing isn’t working out for me yet. As soon as the doctor clears me, I’ve got to get back on those pushups and ab roller exercises.

As for going braless, I’ve got that part down, but not quite in the way I imagined. I got sick of fussing around with clasps, pads, and straps. I also read that milk stains can be hard to get out, and I don’t want to ruin any of my nice clothes. I have thus resorted to wearing shitty ass tank tops I bought from Walmart for $4, without a bra. If I drip milk, so be it, as long as it’s not getting on furniture or the floor.  If I end up with some amount of milk on me after the 8-10 feeding sessions a day anyway, so what’s the point? No one is going to shower or rinse 8-10 times a day.

I’ve also got the naked baby part down, even though people think it’s weird. As I write this, I’m about to take her to Daddy’s soccer game wearing only a diaper. It will get cold, but she has a really nice hot pink fleece blanket. In this stage of our lives, neither of us like clothes, and I am convinced clothing on babies in warm weather is more for other people than it is for the baby.

To my credit, I have not entirely abandoned my boundaries, and begrudgingly put on a bra when going out to meet with people, or attend doctor’s appointments. I also have not degenerated to the point where I neglect showers, although that would be quite in line with the hippie theme. Do I get a gold star for this?

Home of the “Brave”

I recently learned on Facebook about an app or website called Nextdoor.com through a friend. Nextdoor.com describes its purpose thus:

Nextdoor is the best way to stay in the know about what’s going on in your neighborhood—whether it’s finding a last-minute babysitter, learning about an upcoming block party, or hearing about a rash of car break-ins. There are so many ways our neighbors can help us. We just need an easier way to connect with them.

Seems pretty cool. I don’t think we are in particular need of this as we are in a very small gated community of only 11 units, so news can easily travel quickly without the help of an app or social media, but even so, I dig the concept. However, my friend described an actual “warning” or notice one neighbor issued through Nextdoor.com:

What in the actual fuck. It’s annoying enough to see and hear all the “See Something Say Something” propaganda posters and announcements at every mass transit station. When they make those overhead announcements at the coaster station, I usually roll my eyes, but if I’m already in a bad mood I loudly respond “Oh, go fuck yourself,” and other passengers waiting for the train look at me and wonder if I’m one of the local homeless beach bums. The paranoid propaganda is vomit-inducing in and of itself but to actually see people embrace this nonsense and add a serious dose of racism on top is just too much.

When you parse out all the bullshit in the above paragraph (“I’m not saying he tried to break in because I have virtually no evidence but yeah I’m going to go ahead and explain why I think he did”), all that has occurred is a Hispanic man in a company uniform has distributed flyers for landscaping services. How is this anything that remotely requires a warning to other neighbors? To add to the absurdity, another neighbor actually seems to share the paranoia, by responding that they too (gasp!) were offered landscaping services. “We have cameras” – really? The fuck is wrong with people?

Like, what exactly was the thought process here? And when other random white solicitors come to the door, are they met with the same reaction? (Highly doubtful). Is there some common Hispanic scheme of which I am unaware, where they go out in broad daylight making fake flyers so they can break into houses and commit rampant crime while wearing logoed clothing? Because otherwise, when you see someone in a company shirt passing out fliers, chances are, by an overwhelming margin, they are doing just that. 

People are becoming so fucking afraid of everything that it is truly fucking pathetic to behold. Despite minuscule and completely negligible risks, Americans are afraid of traveling abroad, terrorism, letting their children out of their sight for even two seconds, Mexican gardeners, and probably their own shadows. Meanwhile, they fully support their military murdering, bombing, and destroying other countries to no end in the name of the home of the “brave.” Americans are fucking wetting themselves because an unidentified landscaper knocked on their door, but expect the rest of the world to suck it up when the American military destroys their hospitals, bombs residences to oblivion, and murders children. DOES THIS MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE?

???

As I near the end of pregnancy, I feel the old doubts of having children surfacing. I’ve spent the last several months treating this entire experience like an important project, with plans, research, classes, books, etc., so I thought I’d resolved such anxieties, but I suppose that is not the case after all. One would think the last 7 months of preparation would have served as a gradual transition, but it seems the impending due date only highlights the severity and certainty of this decision.

I used to be utterly freaked out by the idea of giving birth; that’s still somewhat the case but infinitely overshadowed by the fear that I won’t enjoy being a mother. I’ve had to make many lifestyle changes and compromises since December 23, 2016 but of course none of it can compare to what lies ahead. It seems like having to rebuild an entire life from scratch (mine).

I think my husband and I have built a special life together. I don’t mean “special” in the sense that we’re particularly unique, interesting, or superior compared to others, but 12 years together necessarily results in something irreplaceable and I could easily live another 12 years like this, or the rest of my life.

We met on a rainy night in February painted by the haze of alcohol. The friend who introduced us accidentally set something on fire at a party, after which we quickly made our departure, and I was so drunk I spelled my own name wrong when I entered it into my husband’s cell phone. We didn’t start dating until a year and a half later, because only Fools Rush In.

When I first moved in with him, the living arrangements could best be described as a small fraternity house nestled in the heart of suburbia, inhabited by gamblers and students who drank too much, joined by unruly dogs, and then our equally recalcitrant cat.

During my first year of law school, my husband quit his engineering job and became a professional poker player, so the summer after my first year, we leased our room in the house, and left the country for two and a half months. We rented an apartment in the suburbs of Barcelona, and he funded our trip with poker while I promised to undertake some domestic tasks while he worked. The “tasks” were an adventure in and of themselves, as I enjoyed every moment of Barcelona, including regularly walking 25 minutes to the grocery store (we did not have a car), where I could buy unfamiliar foods and practice Spanish. We fell in love with the city, but moved on to Prague, Milan, Rome, Tuscany, and Yellowstone National Park the rest of the summer.

For the duration of law school, I packed all my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I could have 4-day weekends every weekend, and there were many trips to Vegas with free hotels, compliments of my husband’s card-counting days. When I unexpectedly was notified I was the recipient of a $32,000 merit scholarship I hadn’t applied for, we took tequila shots all night at a bar in Cardiff-by-the-Sea that now longer exists, and I jumped into the ocean with all my clothes on.

Eventually, we moved into a two-bedroom apartment by ourselves, in a neighborhood characterized by beach bums, dirty hippies, quirky stores, and drug use. Our complex was built in the 1970’s, and rumor has it the communal hot tub was built of an epic size because the complex used to be a swinger’s colony. The neighborhood has since gentrified and I miss some of its formerly bummy, disheveled, and unpretentious elements.

After I took the bar exam, we celebrated with an Asia trip to Taiwan and Thailand. We scootered through the canyons of Taroko Gorge and indulged in decadence on Thai beaches. In the first couple of years after I started working, we traveled to Kauai and hiked Mt. Whitney with his family, and I started paying down substantial amounts of law school debt.

We got married in 2013, 2 weeks after our 8-year anniversary in a ceremony officiated by a dear friend. We wrote our own vows and exchanged them in the glow of the southern Californian sun, and at the reception, through a series of small mishaps, many guests got unbelievably drunk. Two weeks later, we honeymooned in Bali, Macau, and Taiwan.

In 2014, we went to Colombia, where we ate ceviche on Cartagena beaches, hiked a beautiful national park, and walked the romantic alleys of Santa Marta at dusk. I took a picture outside the former residence of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and constantly had a Colombian beer in hand to counter the Caribbean heat. We spent one night in some of the worst accommodations I have ever experienced, and when I was awoken at 4 a.m. to roosters, cats, and dogs brawling in the streets amid human yells, 90 degree heat/90 percent humidity with a broken fan, and a broken bed, there was nothing to do but laugh at the outrageousness of the situation.

In 2016, we picked Vietnam over Greece and had a dream vacation at beach side resorts, daily all-you-can-eat buffets of Vietnamese breakfasts, luxurious city hotels, lush jungle retreats, and scooter rides in Saigon, Hue, Hanoi, and the Vietnamese countrysides. We took the longest cable car ride to the highest peak in Indochina and enjoyed the view as lone passengers in a car designed for 30 people with a 360-degree view of the valleys, rice terraces, and mountains of Sapa.

We drink, cook, hike, exercise, and laugh together. We’ve taken painting classes, dance classes, and played on a soccer team. We own a house and a condo together, refurbish old furniture sometimes, save for early retirement, and spoil our cats. We are very different in some ways and have been at each other’s throats yet are fundamentally so well-suited for each other that if I weren’t an atheist I’d chalk this up to fate.

Our years together have not been extraordinary in and of themselves (plenty of people hike, drink, and travel), but for me, the last 12 years has been characterized by little pieces of magic here and there, and everywhere.

When I was little, I was prone to impractical daydreaming. I would daydream of being a rock star or sprouting wings and flying, for instance. On the other hand I rarely contemplated much in detail about the specifics of my future life. My eleven-year-old self didn’t care to think about what kind of career, husband, house, kids she’d have, or vacations she’d take, beyond assuming that there would eventually be a job, a dude, and an abode in the mix on an abstract level, because that’s what adults do.

So what I mean by “special” is, it’s special to me, and if my eleven-year-old self was given a glimpse into this future, she’d be pretty damn smug and content, implausible fantasies of growing wings and flying across oceans aside.

Having a kid is supposed to be the “next” step, a higher level or deeper stage, but sometimes it feels more like we’re tearing parts of a great creation down and rebuilding it to be something completely different and unfamiliar.

So, what will the next 12 years be like? Stay tuned…

 

Meeting On a Street Corner

Someone told her there were a thousand trillion neutrinos zipping through her body at this very moment, so inspired

She fluttered down the sidewalk until she was face to face with him and

He pulled her into a kiss on the street corner to mark his territory

Puppetted her with small dances while the warm waves in her veins bubbled to slow vibrations of the skin until

She thought she could fly

In the morning when she has to leave she becomes paralyzed with wrath and decay and remembers the hard plague

Again she is a small ghost in the Californian sunshine, wandering unnoticed, forced to walk to the sound of angry music over and over

Rural Town

She’s at the cafe again, sipping coffee, watching her friend sweep the floor while the sun streams through the windows but when she is not looking the trees whisper ill-fated tales of childhood to each other and the familiar wind and snow rage on an empty field steeped in her blood. Every corner of this place is loneliness and desertion, the scent of which clings like a hungry leech waiting patiently for the spirit to suffocate. You can flee to California but this town crawls in your veins, bursts in your bones.

The Beach

June 27, 2004 sober for 7 days I was lucid and smug

The sand told tales of tan lines, gold and shade taking turns on bodies resting on graininess

In the city with the highest concentration of fake beautiful people second only to Hollywood

Smooth young skins vie for afternoon bronze with books in hand, then dance in the garrulous waves

This is the glory and the glow

Their mothers, ghostly creators, are broken with leather and haunted by crows, purposeless, but

Can find solace in plastic salvation on every corner in this neighborhood

She tells me we are more than halfway dead and I believe her

I cannot help but think our friend who will be a man and a doctor, has more time

A lifeguard angrily shouts to us that no dogs are allowed

Helicopter Parenting, Entitlement Culture, and the Police State

A few weeks ago, these signs started showing up everywhere in my neighborhood:

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This is in addition to the cones, flags, and other portable signs that appear frequently cautioning drivers of children about, whether there are actually children about or not. For the record, many a time, I have driven by signs and flags demanding “SLOW!” speeds when there was no child in sight. Roads are no longer recognized as primarily serving the purpose of automobile passage; they are now considered by modern, entitled suburbanites to be playgrounds catering to the whims of their children and their particular leisure needs, to supplement the many existing parks, playgrounds, and natural reserves nearby.

One can imagine the idiocy (and eyesore) if everyone took this approach with signs, but for different classes of people who needed special protection – “Drive Like Your Grandparents Live Here” – “Drive Like Your Blind Brother Lives Here” – “Drive Like Your Cats Live Here” – “Drive Like Your Father Who Suffers From Dementia Lives Here” – or ultimately, better yet, don’t drive at all, because that of course would be the surest way to prevent pedestrians from being injured.

The unsightly red plastic signs lining the blocks of the neighborhood were not enough. Within a couple of weeks, these started showing up:

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Undoubtedly, next, police officers will be stationed at every block to harass motorists who dare go over 10 miles an hour, in the event that some parent might fail to monitor their child, who might then run unexpectedly in the road, might get hit, and might get hurt. When suburbanites reach the level of insanity such that they believe motorists should bend over backwards for errant, unsupervised children, and essentially be forced to drive around speed counters, ugly signs, and cones, as if navigating obstacle courses were a natural matter of daily driving, there is something seriously wrong.

There is in fact no speeding problem in this neighborhood. To my knowledge, there has not been a single instance of a child being injured, much less killed, by a speeding vehicle. Yet, neighbors glare as drivers “speed” by at a mere 15 or 20 miles an hour, even when children are nowhere close to crossing the road, and are playing safely in their yards.

For the record, there is no problem with children playing in the streets. The problem is the idea that children have no obligation to watch for cars as cars do for children, and the attitude that children should be free to roam in whatever dangerous situations they wish, while motorists who should rightly have access to streets are viewed as unilaterally responsible for their safety. This kind of approach may be a grave annoyance to drivers, but it can be deadly for children.

There was a time when parents believed the safety of their children was almost exclusively their responsibility, and that of their children (depending on their age). Now, for whatever reason, people feel they have the right to foist the responsibility for the safety of their children on complete strangers, whom they expect to be inconvenienced, or shamed, for doing nothing more than making use of roads to drive to their homes.

These attitudes are not only irritating for those inconvenienced; it seems self-evident that such coddling would not be conducive to raising independent, self-sufficient, or responsible children. Even worse, people of this philosophy refuse to limit their ill-conceived child-rearing coddling to their own lives, and insist that everyone participate, or meet strong-armed enforcement.

Thus, it is not surprising that the United States is increasingly a police state, in which peoples’ lives are ever the more regulated and controlled, all in the name of “safety.” Parents are not infrequently subject to violent punishment for deviation from stringent laws prescribing “security” and “order.” If you want to be a nanny-state sanctioned helicopter parent whose children will be forever be dependent and incompetent, you are free to do so and will find that society encourages your methods. However, if you would like your children to exercise some independence or self-reliance, or alternatively, you for other reasons fall short of the stringent dictates of the state’s child-rearing policies, you should surely fear for your fate.

Recently, Debra Harrell of North Augusta, South Carolina was jailed after she left her nine-year-old daughter at a park for several hours. Ms. Harrell is an employee of McDonald’s. For most of the summer, her daughter played on a laptop at McDonald’s while her mother worked (making use of free wi-fi offered by the fast food chain). When the laptop was unfortunately stolen from their home, her daughter asked to play at the park while her mother worked instead. Ms. Harrell provided her daughter with a cell phone, and allowed her to play at a park. On the third day of this short-lived arrangement, adults who had seen her daughter alone at the park called the police. Ms. Harrell was arrested (more here).

Not so long ago, another father from Pennsylvania, Govindaraj Narayanasamy, similarly faced legal consequences when he was charged with child endangerment for leaving his 6 and 9-year-old children at a local park while he went to Walmart and LA Fitness. He returned between 90-120 minutes later, but a woman had noticed the children by themselves and called the police (more here).

Of course, not all parents who are punished by the state are glowing examples of responsible parenthood. In June of this year, Eileen DiNino, a Pennsylvania mother of seven, died in jail while serving a two-day sentence for her children’s truancy from school. She had incurred substantial fines for her children’s absences from school, and served the sentence as a result. Her children may have had a wayward mother before, but now they have no mother at all (more here). Such stories are not uncommon. Another mother in California, Lorraine Cuevas, was sentenced to 180 days in jail for similar violations in 2012.

In another instance in 2012, a mother from Arkansas was charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a minor, after she made her child walk 4.5 miles to school as punishment.

In another egregious incident in 2012, William Reddie of northern Michigan found himself in trouble with the police and Child Protective Services over an allegation that the scent of marijuana was detected at his home. Police alerted CPS, and Mr. Reddie became agitated when CPS attempted to take his son (more here). This escalated into police shooting and killing Mr. Reddie. It should be apparent to sensible people that a father who smokes marijuana is better than a dead father, and a mother who tolerates truancies is better than a dead mother; but sensible people can be few and far between these days.

No matter how minor of the offense of the parent, the general public seems comfortable with police intervention, jail, and violence as the “solution.” Ironically, when police abusebeat, taser, throw flashbang grenades at babies, and/or kill children, they are viewed as heroes, and in those circumstances, the blame still falls on parents who were not in compliance with state regulations and various nonsensical draconian measures.

Everywhere in the U.S., people are embracing the idea that children have no obligation to learn how to navigate dangers, and that the responsibility for their safety falls not solely on their parents, but on total strangers, and that anyone not in compliance with nanny-state parenting styles should have to answer to the police, through violent mechanisms of arrest and/or criminal charges.

This seems particularly absurd in the United States, where violent crime has been on the decline for five years; total crime has been on the decline since 1990, and violence experienced by children has also declined.