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How to prove you're you

   An editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion section is looking for

- A better immigration plan
    In order to prove that the person ahead of you in line at the job interview is an illegal immigrant, we are going to have to devise a system that proves that you are not.
   That, as much as any bleeding-heart concern for illegals or sweatshop search for cheap workers, has Social_security_card been the barrier to effective reform of an immigration system that really needs it. And New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer is offering a bold step in the right direction by making a fraud-resistant ID system a key part of his plan.
   Schumer, a Democrat, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican, have put forward a thoughtful and comprehensive immigration reform plan that deserves the attention of their colleagues, the president and the nation.
   In addition to tougher border enforcement, more green cards for educated workers and a stringent path to citizenship for illegals already here, the plan includes what its backers call a “high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card.”
   We’ve been fooling around with an alternative, called E-Verify, that is supposed to allow employers to check a central database to see if the Social Security number offered by a new hire matches the government’s records. But it has been shown to be so full of errors, often rejecting people who are clearly native-born citizens, as to be unworkable.

- Time - Ready for Your Biometric Social Security Card?
- The Christian Science Monitor - Immigration reform rests on a national worker ID 
- The Dallas Morning News - Wait-and-see is not an immigration policy
- Ruben Navarrette - Graham needs to finish his work on immigration reform
- The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel - Broken, unjust and in dire need of reform
- The Palm Beach Post - Immigration kumbaya: There's a bipartisan opening, really
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Immigration reformers want 'next'
- George F. Will - A birthright? Maybe not
- Froma Harrop - This time, a real immigration fix

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

A riot is an ugly thing

   The lead editorial from today's Buffalo News Opinion page:
- Anger taken too far
    One argument against the newly signed health care reform law was that it is an example of the Washington elites ignoring the will of the people.
   But if "the people" are now engaging in acts of vandalism and threats of personal violence directed at Brokenglass members of Congress, then their will ought not only to be ignored, but condemned and, in some cases, prosecuted.
- Tactics signal a return to ugly Republicanism - Douglas Turner/The Buffalo News
   So now the Republican theme is “repeal,” meaning trash the massive, confusing health insurance reform law just passed by paper-thin majorities in Congress.
   There is no chance whatever the GOP can win repeal before 2013. The repeal theme will be sounded anyway to raise money, keep right-wing skinheads smashing windows and help entertainers like Rush Limbaugh rake it in.
- How to keep hate alive - Clarence Page/The Chicago Tribune/The Buffalo News
   Racism doesn’t always come dressed in white sheets. Besides racial hate, there’s also the racism of irrational anger, fears, suspicions and resentments. Radio star Rush Limbaugh offers ample examples

- House of Anger - Timothy Egan/The New York Times
   Unfairly or not, the defining images of opposition to health care reform may end up being those rage-filled partisans with spittle on their lips. Whether the outbursts came from inside Congress — the “baby killer” shout of Rep. Randy Neugebauer, and his colleagues who cheered on hecklers — or outside, where protesters hurled vile names against elected representatives, they are powerful and lasting scenes of a democracy gasping for dignity.
   Now, ask yourself a question: can you imagine Ronald Reagan anywhere in those pictures? Or anywhere in those politics? Reagan was all about sunny optimism, and at times bipartisan bonhomie. In him, the American people saw their better half.
The Rage Is Not About Health Care  - Frank Rich/The New York Times
   How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht. The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window. So far.
- Government-hating tea-partiers love their government checks - Cynthia Tucker/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
   This is a great country, isn’t it? It’s a nation where libertarian, government-hating, militiamen can collect government checks that allow them the time to denounce the government! So it is with Michael Vanderboegh, an Alabama militiamen whose blog has urged health care reform critics to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic elected officials.
- Before threats become deeds - The Corpus Christi Caller Times
   Once again, the militia movement is emerging from the woodwork, as it did in the 1990s. The country at large ignored these adherents’ paranoid ravings as they skulked about the woods muttering about the Posse Comitatus Act, the New World Order and an imminent U.N. invasion.
   Then 15 years ago this April 19, one of the more unhinged of their number detonated a truck bomb outside an Oklahoma City federal building. He killed 168 people. We shouldn’t think it can’t happen — because we know it can
   For example:
- 9 militia members charged in police-killing plot - AP/The Buffalo News
   Nine suspects tied to a Midwest Christian militia that was preparing for the Antichrist were charged with conspiring to kill police officers, then attack a funeral using homemade bombs in the hopes of killing more law enforcement personnel, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Quick, before something happens and this isn't funny any more:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Teachers should share the burden. Villagers should discuss the issues.

  The discussions in the Editorials slot of today's Buffalo News Opinion pages call for some conciliation:

- Painful lessons
    Sam Hoyt is right. [And at right.] Teachers need to be part of the solution to the state's budget problem, not merely a part of it.
   The Buffalo Democrat and two downstate Assembly colleagues
[one and two] have written a letter to the Sam2 head of New York State United Teachers to ask the union to agree to a statewide freeze in teachers' pay, saving more than $1 billion and, thus, helping to prevent what could be massive teacher layoffs. The teachers unions regularly pitch themselves as friends of education and of students; this is a chance to emphasize it.
   Of course, there's nothing new under the sun:
- The Star-Ledger: Freeze N.J. teacher pay: Jobs they save may be their own
- The San Jose Mercury NewsAs public education goes, so goes California
- The Mobile Press-Register: Baldwin County voters step up for their schools
- The Muskegon Chronicle: Don't touch school funding
- The Rochester [Minn.] Post-BulletinSchools might be forced to create online academies

   Meanwhile, back at The News
- Debates are needed
    The phrase “change is difficult” is grossly understated when it comes to the emotions running through many Erie County villages these days. Residents are struggling with dissolution resolutions triggered by concern over duplicative services and too many levels of government.
   At the end of the day, these debates are where they need to be — at the town and village level, where such hard decisions must be made. These choices cannot be imposed. They must be accepted, by a majority of those most affected.

   Insert obscure pop culture reference here:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


Now, the hard part

   The passage and signing of the national health care reform bill was, indeed, historic.

   And all the stuff that will have to follow it will be, too.Billsigned

- The debate shifts - Buffalo News Editorial
   The new law provides winners and losers and, more than that, unanswered questions about how the law will be implemented and what it will mean for the national economy, already one-sixth consumed by health care. That's because federal regulators and state lawmakers must now decide how health plans will compete, write rules governing their profit and decide which medical benefits must be provided.
- Politics and policy - another Buffalo News Editorial
   Crushed in the process of producing this bill was President Obama’s promise of bipartisan legislation and public debate. ... Obama is now a “polarizing” president who will find difficulty in getting Republicans to join him in the future.

- Cleveland Plain DealerMarket forces ultimately will have to bend the cost curve and change the delivery of health care. If they don't, then this bill will simply make a bad system bigger -- and that won't meet anyone's definition of reform.
- George F. WillHealth care will not be seriously revisited for at least a generation, so the system’s costliest defect — untaxed employer-provided insurance, which entangles a high-inflation commodity, health care, with the wage system — remains.
- Corpus Christi Caller-Times: The health reform bill is very much a work in progress. Obama said the Tolesmiracle goals of health care reform were near-universal coverage and the containment of costs. But cost controls are the weakest part of the bill.
- Gail Collins: This could go on for some time. Meanwhile, feel free to remind Rush Limbaugh that he promised to move to Costa Rica if health care reform gets implemented. Once you’re done, you can go back and remind him that Costa Rica has national health care.
- Jay Ambrose: This complicated, bureaucratically befuddling act does not begin to address some of the biggest of those problems, almost surely worsens others and much of what it might fix – usually with the probability of massive unintended consequences – could have been done more prudently, effectively and cheaply by other means.
- David Leonhardt: For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.
- Clive Crook: It is right to provide guaranteed health insurance, but wrong to claim this great prize could be had, in effect, for nothing. Broadly based tax increases and fundamental reform to health care delivery will be needed to balance the books. Denying this was a mistake. What was worse--an insult to one's intelligence, really--was to argue as Obama has in the past few days that this reform was, first and foremost, a cost-reducing initiative, and a way to drive down premiums.
- The Chicago Tribune: This legislation has cleaved America, and whatever happens next, the Democrats own it.

Mental health break:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Taxing sugar. Opening Main. Accepting help.

   In 1835, members of the British Parliament looked around, determined that the people were dirty, and repealed the tax on soap.
   In 2010, members of the New York Legislature should look around, determine that the people are fat, and impose a tax on sugary beverages.
   So, sort of, says the lead editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion section:
- Tax has health benefits - Buffalo News Editorial
    State legislators should think long and hard about eliminating the governor's proposed penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugary beverages, because if they do -- a likely scenario -- they will eliminate a hefty chunk  Adamnewdeal of revenue that will have to be offset elsewhere in the budget.
   New taxes are not a good idea in a high-tax state like New York. But a use tax on a commodity that's not a necessity is not a blanket penalty, and this one carries health benefits to boot.
   The proposed tax on sugary beverages has drawn support as a step toward reducing consumption and, eventually, combating obesity, especially among the young. That would pay dividends in the long run by curtailing needed health care, curbing diabetes and saving lives.
   Health Commissioner Richard Daines has been among those promoting this proposal, and talking to members of the State Legislature in particular about the health benefits and the need to identify another $1 billion in budget cuts if this idea is defeated. During these fiscally difficult times, that warning should gain some traction -- but lawmakers also are worried about a new tax when voters already are angry about state government and an inept and inert governing body.

- Don’t lose sight of Main Street - Buffalo News Editorial
   Sometimes, you just have to bide your time. Talk of reopening Main Street to traffic has gone on so long, it’s hardly surprising that it’s going to go on a while longer before something gets done. Under the circumstances, that’s OK— as long as it does get done, and sooner rather than later.

- Opposition flows from a fear of accepting care -  Matthew Bowker/For The Buffalo News
   Our staunch defense of independence, then, is both honorable and fearful: honorable because in it we take full responsibility for ourselves, fearful because we are afraid of the vulnerability that dependence implies. The exaggerated concern that the health care bill will transform America into a socialist state expresses people’s fear of a society of care where no one really cares, where our last defense against painful vulnerability (our independence) is eroded.

Take us out, Boss:

- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Broadening broadband. Cutting classes.

   If this blog is taking a l o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o n g time to load on your computer, then this editorial is for you:

- Broadband expansion needed
   Federal Communications Commission officials accomplished a good deal in releasing a 376-page National Broadband Plan designed to connect America but, as in anything, the devil’s in the details.National-broadband-plan-medium   
  The document’s stated goal is to increase the portion of Americans with high speed Internet connections to 90 percent, from the current 65 percent, over the next decade and to significantly increase the connection speeds of homes with such service.
   The initiative was mandated by last year’s stimulus legislation and required by lawmakers, but what will be interesting to see is whether Congress has the wherewithal to implement any number of provisions outlined in this far-reaching package.

- School cuts coming
    If it was a comedy, the scene would show a piano falling from the sky onto a school. Such is the prospect New York's schools are facing as the state wrestles with a catastrophic budget deficit, and it is anything but funny.
   The arithmetic is unforgiving. New York is suffocating under the weight of a
$9.1 billion budget shortfall. Residents already pay the nation's highest tax bill and state leaders have indebted them to the hilt. Albany is going to have to make cuts and, with health and education making up more than half of state spending, schools are going to take a hit. Local officials, to their credit, already are making plans. [Examples here, here, here, here and here.]
   But, then, thing are tough all over:
- KC board approves plan to close 26 schools - Kansas City Star [Editorial]
- 2 schools to close in FWCS cutbacks - Fort Wayne, Ind., Journal Gazette [Editorial]
- Green Dot to close Justice Charter High School - Los Angeles Times
- State aid reductions force N.J. school boards to cut staffs, including teachers - The Star-Ledger [Editorial]
- DPS parents feeling betrayed - The Detroit News [Free Press Editorial]

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Drinking problems (or, pass the wine and tax the sodas?)

Every year, as the state budget deadline nears, we get inundated with op-eds and requests for meetings from groups who fear their particular ox will be gored by spending cuts.  Let me summarize the inevitable message: We agree the state should curb spending, but take it out of somebody else's hide.

And then, of course, there are the cause advocates who wish one particular ox or another would get gored, because the need for revenues and/or cuts is an opportunity to get an agenda advanced.

It's enough to drive one to drink.

Or not, as the case may be -- because this year, two of the hottest issues involve drinking. Take the issue of allowing wine sales in groceries -- a real corker. Or the thought of taxing sodas (pop, in these parts) and other sugary drinks -- that one has some real fizz, too.

We've published some op-eds from both sides on these issues lately, and had some pretty emotional (on their side, not ours) meetings with advocates and opponents. And there have been a lot of letters to the editor as well.

But the central force in both cases (OK, I'll lay off the puns now) isn't soda or wine at all. Neither initiative would stand a chance, under lobbying pressure, if the state didn't have to search the couch cushions for money (with which to offset the complaints of even more powerful special-interest forces in health care and education). Not that a billion here and a couple million in revenue there is chump change, mind you.

Years of yielding to temptations to spend now has lawmakers in a place where they may have to offend some special interests anyway. No longer can they just kick the can down the road.

OK, so I lied about the puns.

-  Mike Vogel, Editorial Page Editor

Sunshine Week & the Obama administration

Today's editorial features a topic near and dear to our hearts, the start of Sunshine Week --, -- an annual campaign started by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Although this presidential administration has gone a lot further than the previous one by allowing more sun to shine, President Obama still has not lived up to our or the public's expectations.

As the editorial states, Attorney General Eric Holder raised expectations by issuing an order that all records held by the federal government be made available to the public upon request, except in certain situations that are narrowly defined and where national security or personal privacy concerns prevail.

Current actions on health care legislation, whose details were handled behind closed doors, run contrary to the president's proclaimed openness.  Troubling still are cloaked negotiations that continue to be held by three men in a room in Albany, and that's to say nothing of our own local elected officials who feel far from obligated to share debate and data with their own constituency.

Blinding sunshine that scrubs everything clean remains elusive, and that's unfortunate for a free society.

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

Multiracial society?

Anyone who happened to see the article in Wednesday's USA Today by Haya El Nasser, "Multiracial no longer boxed in by the Census," may have noticed a correlation between some of the findings cited in the article and the PBS series, "Faces of America," with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Indeed, there has been a renewed recognition that many of us come from a huge melting pot.  The U.S. Census Bureau, which begins its count this month, will once again give Americans the opportunity to check off more than one race choice -- something first launched in the 2000 Census.

Henry louis gates jr.

Citing the bureau, the article states that Multiracial Americans are "one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the country." Our own president, Barack Obama, considered the nation's first black president but with mixed parentage, is evidence of that fact.

The multiracial designation has not been without critics and there are those who fear the dissolution of information federal agencies depend upon when monitoring compliance with anti-discrimination laws and mandates.

Yet, despite the small percentage of the population identifying as being more than one race, statistics show us that mixed-race marriage and a flatter, more accessible world will eventually mean a blurring of racial lines. In fact, by 2050, as the article cites Census projections, there will be no racial or ethnic majority.

But much of this could be seen in the lineage of many Americans, some obvious and others not so much.

Gates-the-Harvard-scholar, himself a product of a mixed heritage, recently explored the backgrounds of famous individuals such as poet Elizabeth Alexander, chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, novelist Louise Erdrich, journalist Malcolm Gladwell, actress Eva Longoria, musician Yo-Yo Ma, director Mike Nichols, Her Majesty Queen Noor, television host/heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, actress Meryl Streep, and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.  Those who discovered their lineage included a variety of race and culture generally showed great pleasure and others, such as Streep and Colbert, were obviously disappointed at the lack of mixture.

The Harvard scholar, with great resources available, has been able to dig into his own and others' roots.  The fact that these are famous individuals, some even ultra-famous, makes the piece even more intriguing.  And it also makes the viewer want to explore her or his own roots, accessible via Internet or by visiting family history centers

The wider range of U.S. Census choices and growing number of individuals seeking to unlock the mysteries of their own pasts shows how much the world is changing in terms of how we all view each other. Perhaps we're still not completely color-blind but at least growing less color sensitive.

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

We have reservations...

We've wrapped today's editorial page blog in with a related business story. See other blog in Strictly Business . . .
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