Tuesday, August 1, 2006

RI-Sen: Interview w/ Fighting Dem. Carl Sheeler

I had an opportunity to put a few questions via e-mail to Fighting Dem Carl Sheeler who's running a grassroots campaign for the RI Senate seat that will hopefully be vacated by Lincoln Chaffe (R) this November. As Chaffe faces a primary challenge from the right, his numbers have been steadily declining in this overwhelmingly Democratic state. Its quite possible that the real election will be taking place not in November, but rather on September 12th in the primary between Democratic front-runner and party favorite Sheldon Whitehouse and grassroots progressive Carl Sheeler.

Dark horse Sheeler, a Gulf War vet, has run as an alternative to the more mainstream Whitehouse. Sheeler has called for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, the impeachment of the President, repeal of the tax breaks to the rich along with a host of other progressive positions. Sheeler has been steadily gaining support and could give Whitehouse a run for his money. Sheeler answered questions about immigration, Iraq and impeachment.

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Q. You say on our website: "The only part of the existing Senate measure that makes sense is the up to $20,000 fine and three years in prison for employing an undocumented immigrant. Call it liberal, but the provisions for citizenship are inconsistent with what America can and should be." Your opponents in the race both Mr. Whitehouse and Chaffe have come out in support of the Senate immigration bill, in fact Sen. Chaffe is a co-sponsor. How do your views on this issue differ from theirs, and what provisions would you like to see added or subtracted from the bill?

A. I guess they think support is brief sound bites. I did not see them at the planning sessions, marching or attending the May 1 rallies. I did not hear them speaking on behalf of progressive reform on the Spanish speaking stations. I know they don't have two kids who are half Latino as I do. They're politicians first and would shift their reply accordingly. I invite you to speak to their leaders like Juan Garcia and ask which candidate has spent time in their communities and put a campaign office in the middle of them?

You've read this watered down bill. What would the mechanics be to deport the undocumented who resided in the US for less than two years?

The costs associated with hiring the personnel, identifying, if you could, these folks and their kids, locating, if you could, pursuing, arresting, charging, processing, incarcerating and deporting several million people would be in the astronomical billions of tax dollars every year and certainly greater than the alleged net losses claimed our economy suffers from the disadvantaged that traditionally takes one generation to achieve a reasonable middle class status.

It's bait and switch to discriminate against a predominantly Latino population and divide even Democrats. How often do we fall for this political hand grenade that has conveniently been tossed in an election year the way red, yellow terrorist warnings were in 2004? It's a straw man when we ought to be examining stronger border security that the president and this Congress failed to achieve since it is documented that 60% of undocumented arrived from 2001 to present.

The problem is economic and if our trade policies weren't solely geared around making US companies insanely richer, we could create a middle class in most of Latin America and the Caribbean the way China is doing and have these countries' citizens stay in their home lands and buy American goods, but that takes time and shareholders and lobbyists want their profist now. Is democracy running this republic's government or are our big corporations?

Chafee and Sheldon have not displayed the fortitude to publicly express their seeking a pathway to citizenship for those who already here, which does not mean front of the line privileges but does ensure dignity and accountability to anyone on our soil, no different than if the Cubans arrive here. That is the uniqueness to being proud to be called American. I won't turn my back on our own or those disadvantaged. I seem to recall at the base of the Statue of Liberty saying something about this philosophy. We're all immigrants

Q. What are you views on how the 12 mil undocumented already here should be dealt with?

A. I think I've been pretty clear that with modifications of the existing Kennedy-McCain bill to provide worker status with a pathway to citizenship to tax paying, law-abiding, English speaking residents and ensuring better border security without walls is the best and most pragmatic solution.

Q. What are your views on the issuing of more visas and green cards for unskilled workers? Should we allow for more low skilled labor to enter the country legally or restrict immigration to those with more substantial educations and job skills?

A. There is no proof that back breaking work, if paid a higher wage would be performed by our less skilled and less educated citizens. There is significant proof that our population is aging and there will be more positions to be filled than there are folks in the country to fill them.

My experience suggests new immigrants are often harder working because they believe (and should) that doing so will assure them a place within our middle class. There will always be a need for balance, but hard work and sacrifice ought to be rewarded. We can always use honest and hardworking folks; whether it be to serve in our military, assist our aged or work in the hospitality and food services industries and more.

Q. Along those same lines - What are your views on the lobbying by large US Tech industries for further issuance of more H1b visas? As a follow up, what are your general views on how visa and green card quotas are handled at the present time, and how would you change the process?

A. I address this issue a lot in my finance, business and entrepreneurship courses and with my five kids. The money is in intellectual capital - what's between our ears which is what the tech fields are about. It's really quite straightforward... if you do not make access to his country efficient enough for well trained folks with Science and Math bacxkgrounds that we inadequately produce here in our country, then other countries will scoop them up and, in turn, we offshore these skills to India and China. That means no employee tax revenues for our counry and no state and property tax revenue from these folks.

Obviously, 9/11 caused us to slam our doors and we've now opened them up only a fraction of what we had before. We need the technological and human efficiencies that allow for better tracking of highly educated
people who want to make a contribution to our society both intellectually and economically. This needs to be revisited and revised.

We have the knowledge base and "can do" with plenty of brighter folks than I to figure out how many of these folks end up in Canada, Europe and Latin America instead of here and what we need to do to shorten the
time from application to arrival. The country with the most brains wins. Look at all the advances after we allowed in many of the Germans and Soviets in the 30's, 40's and 50's?

Q. On drivers licenses for the undocumented. Do you support issuing driver's licenses to the undocumented in order that they can obtain insurance and drive legally?

A. Yes. They're going to drive whether licensed or insured or not, so it protects them and others by providing this access. It also would reduce our insurance premiums.

Q. Recently a group of Republican Congressmen attempted to remove the bi-lingual provisions of the Voting Rights Act that assured that those with limited English proficiency would still be able to exercise their right to vote. What are your views on bilingual provisions that are mandated by law? Additionally, what is your position on "English Only" and "English as National Language" legislation?

A. I think it's stupid to discriminate against a population which is expected to comprise upwards of 25% of US citizens in the next few decades.

I encourage educated, English only speaking US citizens to go to a foreign country. Do we become stupid because we don't speak the language? Can we form ideas by speaking with folks who are bilingual?

The truth of the matter is the GOP recognizes that many Latinos who these proposals are directed towards traditionally will vote Democrat. God knows, given this discriminatory nonsense, they certainly will now.

If my Spanish speaking friend says "proud to be an American" in his own language, do I care? No. Legislation that looks to make transition more difficult would not be supported by me. It is a fact that the children of most foreign born residents here are fully capable of speaking our language, which has been the case in prior generations of immigrants. It just happens to be that Spanish speaking are most proximate to a country that happens to border on Central America. Is this any surprise?

Q. You also speak about a building a “Coalition of the Americas” that would create more safety for us in our Western Hemisphere and help address the economic and humanitarian reasons why most undocumented immigrants come to the United States. Can you elaborate on the concept of this Coalition?

A. It's very much along the lines of the European Union. Let's give our Latin American governments and their people the dignity they seek by participating in the means to promoting strong economies and human rights. Have you been to Argentina for example? I see more European goods there than American. Why? Is there something Germany, France, Japan and China know that we don't? They've been there for decades.

Wouldn't building bridges and alliances provide for more security than the cowboy bravado of "we took this country and we are the USA and our pride is from our power to crush you". It shows a lack of maturity that Rome, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Japan and now the US will learn the hard way that power is not in control, it's in influence.

The opposite maxim would be true as we see more Latin countries shifting far left, because their government's perceive our citizens elected this right wing cowboy twice (whether we did or not is moot) and presume we support his saber rattling and might is right mentality that galvanizes oil rich countries like Venezuela to find and influence alliances against our interests with countries like China. We're not the only game in town (on the globe) and I'd expect my president to think strategically and defensively, too.


Q. You call for the immediate withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq and their replacement with coalition troops. Many leading Democrats oppose that kind of plan and prefer a more gradual withdrawal plan, perhaps redeploying US forces into neighboring countries just in case things were to deteriorate any further in Iraq. What are you thoughts on those more conservative proposals? Do you not think that our immediate withdrawal would lead to increased secular violence, possible civil war and increased destabilization in the region? How do you suggest going about replacing US troops with coalition ones?

A. The prosecution of Iraq without a clear exit strategy is like planning a crime without a get away. It was criminal to send our troops there to begin with and even more criminal to send them under-armored and undermanned. It was beyond stupid to have disbanded the Sunni militia who are now the primary local insurgents and would have had the military training to have brought stability under the watchful eye of American presence.

Their livelihood, dignity and power stripped and laid bare to the Shia's and Kurds for the abuses they performed under Sadam almost assured the civil war violence and humanity buzz saw we're witnessing today. Americans and innocent civilians are getting killed in the crossfire.

The mission was accomplished when Iraqi's overwhelmingly voted on their constitution in December. Since that time the U.S. forces in Iraq have lost more than 1,000 more lives, and many, many thousands of more permanently physically injured and mentally scarred with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Every day... and I stress every day, we keep our troops in Iraq does nothing to bring stability there or to the Middle East region and nobody is authentically countering that argument.

The military was not designed to be a nation rebuilder and there's plenty of recent history like the breakdown of the former Czechoslovakia into republics when self determination, ethnic, sectarian or theocracy are how a people defines itself.

Their infrastructure was destroyed after Desert Storm and when UN/US sanctions prohibited rebuilding, so the argument that the US, even after Sadam, is suddenly interested in these folks is hollow at best. Sure, provide them the fiscal and physical means to rebuild until they get their oil on line.

Physical protection from an invasion is an hour away from the Battle Carrier Group Enterprise in the Persian Group with dedicated missiles, jet fighters, AWACs, satellite and even nuclear capabilities plus 40,000 troops already in Kuwait and more in Turkey and Diego Garcia.

Those delaying withdrawal have blood on their political hands for not having the courage to anticipate the continued loss of life and worrying about personal political capital by simply unable to state "we are done here; our military performed honorably; our leadership made mistakes and correcting them includes transitioning into an Euro-Arab coalition." Six days, six months or six years only means more unnecessary deaths and our nation's healing begins when we return these troops to their families.

As a former Marine Combat and Staff Officer, the logistics of transition amounts to the simple order to make it so. There would be a significantly larger level of global support knowing the US was not planning to stay and expand its perceived empire.

The President and Congress have access to the minds and diplomacy to make the withdrawal happen. These are the folks who would handle the details.


Q. You have also called for going forward with Presidential impeachment hearings. The leadership of the Democratic Party has made it clear that they do not support this position. Both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have vehemently denied that they have any plans to pursue that course of action if they were to regain control of Congress. In fact Leader Pelosi has gone so far as to say she would work to prevent Rep. Conyers from going forward with anything in that vein if he were to become Judiciary Chairman. How do you plan on pursuing your impeachment agenda when the leadership seems adamant to oppose it?

A. It's politics, pure and simple. Do you really believe that Democrats would not pursue investigation of crimes of profiteering, human rights violations and other counts if they controlled Congress? If they did not would this be a party you'd be proud to be associated with given our Constitution has been blatantly ignored by this President? The establishment Democrats are worried about it "galvanizing the GOP conservative base. That's wimp talk. How about galvanizing the progressive base and go on the offensive to protect Our Constitution's meaning the founders had anticipated if there is tyranny in our government for Christ sake?

Displaying the courage of conviction to this country is about accountability, leadership, justice and fairness. It means something you're willing to defend and represent. No, impeachment is not a sure thing - but pursuing it is the right thing to do. Congressman John Conyers (D - MI) has 30 years under his belt and as the US House's Judicial Committee minority leader is not about to throw it away on hollow partisan assertions and ramblings without substance.

Paul Wellstone would never had let this sit. Think of it... hearings before the elections would have made neocons within the GOP scramble like roaches under the brilliant glare of truth. They'd be getting as good as they gave and would preserve their own two-year and six-year term political interests. They're human. They're frail. Guilt is guilt.

For more information on Carl Sheeler's candidacy see: Carl Sheeler for US Senate

1 comment:

Carl Sheeler For Senate said...

Thanks for taking the time. If yoy wink at a pretty woman in the dark, does it matter?