Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Respect, dignity, and maybe just a bit of compassion

When I moved from Idaho to Utah, I didn’t think Utah politics would drive me crazy for the simple reason that there are so many right-wing nutjobs in Idaho that I didn’t think Utah could possibly be worse. Well I was wrong. Apparently it gets worse the further south you go, as Arizona has now become a full-on police state where you can now be guilty of trespassing for breathing in a public place.

In the immortal words of Jack White:

White Americans, what?
Nothing better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out
you're an immigrant too.

The toilets and floors in my office building get cleaned every night by a couple of people who don’t speak much English. They’re thoughtful, hard-working, and polite. I don’t know if they’re documented, and I don’t care. I don’t want that job. I don’t know any natural-born citizen who does. They aren’t committing any crimes, they’re just working hard to provide for their families. Why do people get so worked up about that?

And while Arizona takes the cake for draconian discrimination against “immigrants” (who look more like the native people of this continent than those making the stupid laws—wonder why?), Utah is itself far from saintly and Good Samaritanish in this regard either. First of all, Representative Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem), has indicated he wants to draft his own law modeled after Arizona’s.

Sandstrom claims "I don't want anyone to be under the impression that this is targeting a specific group of people. That's an aspect I want to make sure has nothing to do with this bill." Well then what, precisely, is your intent? Racism obfuscated by rhetoric is still racism. Makes me want to move into his district just so I can vote against him. Or even run against him, which I’d never considered until just now—not that a pinko-commie liberal heretic earn-your-turns tree-hugging bike racer type could ever get elected in Orem, but I’d still be tempted to run just on principle, I’m so pissed off.

Rebecca Chavez-Houcke (D-Salt Lake City), apparently one of the few voices of reason in the legislature responded: "Despite the fact that most constitutional experts believe SB1070 is very constitutionally problematic, for some reason Utahns have to jump on the bandwagon, posthaste." Is anyone really all that surprised at the bandwagon jumping?

Even without an Arizona-style bill that would turn local police into the intermountain west’s own KGB, Utah nevertheless has turned getting a driver’s license into an exercise in proving one’s legal residency. That combined with requiring the written test only to be taken in English has proven a huge burden to immigrants, including those residing and working here legally. No wonder we’re all supposed to pack up and walk to Missouri for the second coming—Jesus doesn’t have papers, so even if he came to Utah first, he’d get harassed like all the other immigrants and would have to leave on foot, having been denied a driver’s license.

While we’re on the subject of treating our fellow man with class and dignity, how about Vinokourov getting booed as he crossed the line at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday? Tomika can snort all the coke he wants, and the Belgian fans turn a blind eye because “it’s not performance-enhancing.” Yet Vino can pass 30+ doping controls since returning from his suspension, and he gets booed for winning a race.

I’m not saying Vino is clean. I don’t know one way or another. But he can’t be any more dirty than Contador, Boonen, Armstrong, or the Schleck brothers. So how about respecting the great performances until we have reason not to? Vino is a great racer, and he’s as fun to watch as anyone who’s ever pedaled a bicycle. So respect that. It’s not like people are booing Dwyane Wade even though his shoulders are unnaturally large. Doping is an issue in all professional sports—it’s just that cycling actually takes real steps to try to control it. The big three leagues in the United States are too distracted counting their ticket sales, merchandising, and TV contract money to worry about who’s on HGH.

Finally, it’s not all rants today, though this last bit of news is not likely of interest to anyone but me. I got the following message in my inbox yesterday:

Dear [SkiBikeJunkie],
The following request to change your USCF category has been approved and processed by USA Cycling:
xxxxxxxx - 2010-04-26 13:21
Member: [SkiBikeJunkie]
License: Road Racer
Request to change category from Cat 4 to Cat 3

Coincidentally, I had 13 qualifying starts in five months of racing last year when I upgraded from Cat. 5 to Cat. 4. Since then, I’ve had 13 qualifying starts in five months of racing before upgrading from Cat. 4 to Cat. 3. Don’t think this is a trend, though—this is the last upgrade I am ever requesting. I’ve seen what the 1/2 guys can do, and I’ll have my hands plenty full getting spit out the back of the threes.


  1. The craziest part of all the Az shit is the fact that in northern Az, in the wastelands, sits several groups of people who were here first.

    Pathetic, rhetorical shit. All about votes, not policy.

    The law will be struck down, likely by Az's high court.

  2. Wow Bob, you much be worked up about this. No bashing Mark about road racing enough to get his upgrade. See you Saturday, maybe.

  3. Well now that he has his 3 upgrade, i expect to see him in the dirt.

  4. I definitely do not like the Arizona law and I hope it gets struck down. However, on the positive side it does serve to spark some debate and interest in immigration law reform, which is sorely needed. I am all for immigration, but it has to be controlled in some manner and there must be a path to citizenship for those already here. Anyone who thinks you can round 'em up and send them back to enter legally is insane.

    I disliked almost everything about George W., but I did appreciate his effort (kind of a weak effort once he saw it wasn't going anywhere, but an effort nonetheless) on immigration reform and I thought his proposed plan made some sense. Of course neither party showed any real interest or support for the proposal because our elected officials are generally more concerned about staying in office than doing anything truly useful.

    What I do know is that the current system doesn't work and is causing untold hardship and misery to those just seeking a better life.

    Oh yeah, congrats on the upgrade and welcome to the 3s.

  5. Congrats on the upgrade! Do I have to call you Sir Cat 3 Junkie now?

    How about this quote from Sandstrom: "I can tell you this, the people in the state of Utah will be behind this bill."

    I'm in Sandstrom's district and this is one constituent who is not behind his bill. He seemed like a good candidate, but now I see he's just like ever other wack-job Utah politician who's high moral principles get the better of them. I will be sending a letter to my Mr. Sanstrom about this bill he's drafting.

    As JZ mentioned, the silver lining of cookoo bills like this is the attention it keeps on emigration, so it (hopefully) can be fixed instead of ignored as has been done for decades.

    The sensible solution is to fast-track all illegal immigrants to citizenship as long as they aren't criminals. Then streamline the immigration process and increase the quotas to encourage legal immigration. And THEN, crack down on illegal immigration. Going after immigrants without fixing the system is moronic and wrong.

  6. Bob: I hear you. The only difference between the native people in Northern AZ and the targets of this law is an arbitrary border drawn on a map by immigrants.

    Oh, and count me in for Draper. And *probably* Deer Valley. And Sundance if I can get over how much I don't like that course. I'd be all over 5 mile if I didn't have plans this weekend and if the weather didn't look crap. We'll see from there...

    JZ & Kris: Agreed that if this leads to real reform, it will be a net positive. But it's a stupid way to go about it. Kris, make sure and post the letter on your blog. And send it to the local papers. Too bad Sandstrom can't be booed Vino style. What an asshat.

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  8. They do not call it the Righteouslature for nothing. When I was in High School they tried to ban HBO. Republicans are mean and stupid. Not a good combination.

    How about cutting the budget for the liquor stores? That was not political. The schenewz is estimating that will cost the state 1.6 million in lost revenue. Makes sense to me.

  9. Welcome to Cat 3! It's just as tough as Cat 4, only without the few slow guys who would boost your ego!

    Oh BTW, when you report to your first Cat3 race, you will need to bring proof of citizenship. We American racers got tired of all these illegal immigrants showing up and taking our spots on the podium...

    Seriously though- anyone else renewed their license lately? 3 hours in line, but I guess at least I don't have to worry about Mexicans driving legally... wait a minute...

  10. Congrats on the upgrade, and I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail.

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