The 30 members of the all-Democrat Congressional Hispanic Caucus denied Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s membership, since to the Caucus you’re not “Hispanic” enough unless you are a liberal:

CHC Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) said the group’s decision wasn’t just based on the Dream Act but also Curbelo’s support for Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare and the GOP tax bill.

“Many of those votes in this climate gave members who voted no, and maybe other members, pause about whether or not this was a good time for changing membership,” Lujan Grisham told reporters after the meeting.

I’m sure the Dems are not pleased that Curbelo won in Hillaryland, too.

But I digress.

Never mind that there’s a new member of Congress; if you’re not a Dem, you’re not welcome,

In a statement after the decision, group spokesman Carlos Paz tried to dispel the notion that the CHC should admit Curbelo simply because he is Hispanic.

“This vote reflects the position of many of our members that Rep. Curbelo and his record are not consistent with those values,” Paz said.

I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, I believe there’s no such thing as Hispanic. On the other hand, policy making comes through alliances.

Either way, it’s useful that the Caucus again shows itself as a group of partisan hacks.

Several Florida Republicans walked out years ago over differences on Cuba policy and formed their own group, the Congressional Hispanic Conference.

The Congressional Black Caucus accepted Republican Mia Love as a member.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus ought to make it official and rename itself as the Democrat Hispanic Caucus.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

A sitting U. S. Senator is on trial for corruption and is involved in a sex scandal, but you wouldn’t know it.

Robert Menendez, (D-NJ) is on trial for 12 counts of bribery and corruption; his co-defendant, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, is on for 11 counts. The jury is deadlocked but will resume deliberations today.

CNN touched on four of the charges:

Official Act #1: Visas for Friends
Official Act #2: The Dominican Port Security Contract
Official Act #3: US Scanning Equipment Donation to the Dominican Republic
Official Act #4: Attempt to resolve Melgen’s $8.9 million billing dispute

The trial is new, but I was posting on How Bob Menendez sponsored a bill that would have benefited his biggest political donor four years ago. Four and a half years ago I was already saying that The real scandal in the Menendez story… is the relationship between Miami ophthalmologist Solomon Melgen and Menendez.

Back then the media was not interested in corruption charges involving Democrats goings-on, least of all in the Dominican Republic. Things changed when Menendez became ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

The Obama administration was displeased by Menendez’s positions on the Iran deal, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and by

Menendez’s support of dissidents from countries other than Cuba: He vigorously supports the State of Israel against Iran-sponsored Hamas in Gaza, which also figures in his support of international sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program – sanctions that Ecuador and Venezuela attempt to help Iran avoid.

Most of this was ignored. I know from experience (having blogged on LatAm for 13 years) that news involving overseas transactions generally elicit eyes glazing over.

Hawever, sex sells, so the headlines mentioned that he liked the ‘newest and youngest’ prostitutes. The missing hos turned up, and apparently were not underage in Dominican Republic law.

The legal issue was, and is, as Glenn Reynolds pointed out then, a

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Billion With a ‘B’: Did Menendez Provide Special Favors to HookerGate Donor? “Follow the money – if Melgen had a billion-dollar contract at stake, his ‘friendship’ with Senator Menendez was obviously more than a mere social acquaintance, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it was illegal for Menendez to pressure the administration to help Melgen enforce his Dominican port security contract. But how and why does a Florida opthalmologist become an international port-security mogul?”

The fact remains that the media would rather not cover the trial, and guess who’s to blame,

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

The State Sponsor of Terror List needs more teeth. In its current form, the list only leverages three elements of national power (diplomatic, informational, and economic). It is time to discuss changing this reality by adding the fourth and final element of national power.

On November 2nd  the State Department failed to meet a congressional deadline. Their task is to determine whether the United States should relist North Korea on the State Sponsor of Terror List. President Trump will announce a decision at the end of his current Pacific diplomatic visits.

It may come as a surprise to most Americans that North Korea is not currently on this list. They were removed by the Bush administration in 2008 in a forlorn hope that the North Korean dictatorship then under Kim Jong-il would honor new denuclearization options in exchange for their removal from the list. As anyone with common sense and a rudimentary understanding of that region’s history should know, that did not work. Also unchanged is the Kim dynasty’s sponsorship of international terrorist movements who actively target the west, especially the United States and its interests.

This discussion, however, provides an opportunity to reconsider the usefulness of the State Sponsor of Terror List in its current form. There are three countries identified on the current list: Iran, Sudan and Syria. They have all been on this list for many years, and they have not changed their behavior in any tangible fashion. In fact, one could argue that all of them, and most certainly Iran, have accelerated their support for terrorist organizations.

Why? Listing a nation as a state sponsor of terror results in automatic diplomatic and economic sanctions, and such actions have next to no impact on leaders of nations who simply don’t care. Certainly, adding North Korea to this list will do almost nothing to them we are not already doing. Can we impose further diplomatic or economic sanctions than those already imposed due to their withdrawal from the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and their pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems for their nuclear warheads? The obvious answer is, “No.”

The United States must alter its current policy to include the military element of national power. We must include the stated right to immediately, and without warning, retaliate against any state sponsor of terror in any fashion the US deems appropriate, up to and including the use of our own nuclear arsenal. Such an attack will be triggered as a response to a terrorist attack against our nation, its people, or our allies so long as the terrorist organization is shown to receive any support (arms, money, training, safe harbor, etc.) from a state sponsor on the list. This will provide a level of deterrence that currently does not exist.

Some may argue such a change would be extreme. I, however, would argue it is in our survival interest to do this quickly. Technology has progressed to where even third world dictators like Kim Jon-un are able to acquire weapons that can kill tens of millions, destroy hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure, contaminate our food sources, attack our economic infrastructure, shut down national electric grids, etc. Our enemies are all pursuing some or all of these technologies. It is very possible, and arguably probable, that at some point one of these nations will consider providing such a weapon to a terrorist organization they believe they can control. We need to insure they think long and hard before doing so.

This is a narrowly defined policy change. It would only apply to those nations who we place on the list. The State Sponsor of Terror List will then have a level of importance it currently does not, both for nations added and for those who are removed.

We need to stop giving the state sponsors of terror a pass while they conduct war by proxy against the US and its allies. Change our policy, and place North Korea on this list.

I normally focus on Latin American news, but two stories have prominently popped up in my news feed during the last couple of days: the Roy Moore sex accusations, and the Trump-didn’t-take questions-in-China tale.

The Roy Moore story (or as Scott Johnson calls it, The Moore miasma) is astonishing, not the least because of the timing. Moore had been suspended twice from the state’s Supreme Court: the first in 2001 for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, the second in 2016 for directing probate judges to continue to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. It defies belief that the accusers would not have felt they could come out and expose events that took place nearly four decades ago only until a couple of weeks before this upcoming election.

I do not know if Moore is guilty. I do not know if or how the allegations could be proven or disproven. But no matter the facts, I expect this story to remain prominently in the top headlines for a while, especially if Moore wins.

The media will pick and choose.

As it did, for instance, with the Trump-didn’t-take questions-in-China story: Pres. Trump did not take questions from the media after a press conference. Streiff describes the media outrage,

CNN, naturally, ran a story in which they claimed that Trump broke from decades of tradition by participating in a news conference with a Chinese president in which there were no questions.

A few hours later, this, from a CNN article:

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect neither Trump nor President Barack Obama took questions alongside his Chinese counterpart during their first visit to the country. A previous version misstated that Obama had.

By then,

Streiff, again,

So you can have your journalistic hit job and claim the moral high ground by tweeting and publishing a correction no one will read.

And then it’ll happen again.

JD sums it up:

What concerns me is the intellectual dishonesty and blatant manipulation these news outlets embrace.

That is what I keep in mind every time I read any news at all.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Drug cartels have a full panoply of false gods.

The best-known in the wide-ranging and impressive array is Our Lady of the Assassins, made famous by a popular novel that was later made into a movie. She’s also known as Santa Muerte, a grim reaper figure which even turned up in Breaking Bad,

The most recent is The Infant Huachicolero, essentially a baby Jesus with a jerry can, an image promoted by gangs in Puebla, Mexico. Huachicoleros illegally tap oil pipelines, stealing fuel for cheap resale – a business which, according to the BBC, has become Mexico’s second-biggest organized crime after drug trafficking.

A Google search for religious imagery and drug cartels yields almost 250,000 results, among them Know Your Narco Saints: The Religious Iconography of the Drug Trade

Some of these figures are true “Narco-Saints,” forthright patrons of illegal acts. Others are simply saints that narcos pray to, holy figures asked to intercede in unholy doings. Even Jesus and Mary are not considered beyond the pale.

It’s hardly surprising that cartels would be willing to exploit this tradition of the Catholic Church for their purposes. For instance, San Ramon Nonato (Saint Raymond Nonnatus), patron saint

of the the secrecy of the confessional, of priests keeping their mouths shut. In narco culture, that secrecy is extended to more secular arenas. Namely, police interview rooms and witnesses boxes at the courthouse. “If you get arrested you’re gonna pray to this saint hoping that your witness or whoever is gonna testify against you will be silent and keep the secret of your dirty deed,” says Garza. Petitioners sometimes offer padlocks at San Ramon’s altar, or place tape across his mouth.

How better to broadcast the message “keep your mouth shut”?

Juliette points out for the need to fill the space of your soul, and she quotes Mark Steyn’s essay, The Triumph of Amoral Will, (emphasis added)

A republic requires virtue, and the decline of virtue is accompanied necessarily by the decline of the concept of evil, and its substitution by exculpatory analysis of the “motives” of evil. A more useful conversation would be on what it takes to remove the most basic societal inhibition – including the instinctive revulsion that would prevent most of us from taking the lives of strangers, including in this case eighteen-month-old babies.

Like at the cartels,

That inhibition is weaker in the dar al-Islam, because of Islam’s institutional contempt for “the other” (unbelievers) but also because of the rewards promised in the afterlife. Thus, violence is sanctioned by paradise. That is the precise inversion of our society, and yet the weakening of inhibition seems to be proceeding here, too.

“One should not underestimate the effectiveness of cultural pressures,” Steyn states. Whether in dar-al-Islam or narcostates or anywhere, when the culture eliminates virtue, a republic cannot sustain itself.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Eagle River, Wisconsin

By John Ruberry

“‘Many are the strange chances of the world,’ said Mithrandir, ‘and help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter.'”
Mithrandir (Gandalf), in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Simarillion.

This week greets the first anniversary of Donald J. Trump’s historic election to the presidency.

Historic? Yes. Trump is first first non-politician–or former general–ever elected to the nation’s highest office. The Manhattan billionaire was one of 17 candidates for the Republican nomination and it’s very safe to say that among the GOP establishment, Trump was the least popular member of this group.

But among the unpolished masses–the folks that Hillary Clinton dubbed “Deplorables” a year later–Trump was their champion. House Speaker Paul Ryan said after Trump’s upset win over Clinton, said that the president-elect, “Heard a voice that no one else heard.”

Clinton, on the other hand, was clearly the choice of the Democratic Party insiders, and that point was driven home last week by Donna Brazile, the interim DNC chair when Trump scored his upset win.

Trump was branded a racist when he said that Mexico was sending “rapists” and “criminals” over the border and he vowed to build a wall at the Mexican border. Was he wrong to say that? Yes. But Trump revealed a glaring hypocrisy among the Republican Party. The GOP’s idea of “getting tough” on illegal immigration was to talk tough about illegal immigration. And suddenly, the emerging Trump base learned, here was a candidate who will do something about illegal aliens–who yes, not only take away American jobs, such as in food service, but also drive down wages.

Barack Obama waxed eloquently–he’s good at that–about the plight of the laid-off workers at a Maytag refrigerator plant in Galesburg, Illinois–the manufacturer shifted that work to a factory in Mexico, both in his memorable keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and in Audacity of Hope. Trump vowed–and vows–to stop the exodus of blue collar jobs to south of the border. After eight years of President Obama in charge, whose response to these job losses was to offer retraining to workers for scarce jobs in “green industries,” Trump’s message resonated. While Clinton doubled-down on green failure.

Last week Rush Limbaugh praised Trump’s making an issue during the campaign of China cheating on trade deals and its currency manipulation “China is ripping us off on trade,” Trump screamed. At the time El Rusho saw it as too esoteric of a topic for presidential campaign. But the “weak” understood while the “wise” faltered.

And the Deplorables of Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan–many of whom voted twice for Barack Obama–went with Trump last year.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Subject line: “Tomorrow is a big deal but President Trump doesn’t want you to know about it.” Well, that’s one way to stand out in my email inbox. The sender is my state’s senior U.S. Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, and the message is from her Senate account, not a campaign address.

“…November 1st, through December 15th, you have the opportunity to sign up for a new health insurance plan or change your existing plan through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Despite the many attempts by President Trump and Republican leadership to repeal Obamacare, it remains the law of the land. As you consider your healthcare options, it’s important to note that there have been many changes to available plans. Instead of just signing up for the same plan for 2018, I encourage you to shop around …”

Stop. Just stop. But no, there’s more:

“The Trump administration has been trying to keep Granite Staters in the dark about this important signup period by slashing open enrollment advertising by 90 percent, cutting the open enrollment period in half and defunding support staff that assist with signing up. So, friends, it’s up to each of us to get the word out to family members and friends that the enrollment period is about to get underway.” 

Consider yourself informed. You’re welcome.

As I have expressed at possibly tiresome length since last year’s campaign, I hold no brief for President Trump. Of all the things for me to hold against him, though, trying to keep me in the dark about the administrative details of Obamacare isn’t one of them.

There are things about Obamacare that bother me a lot more than open enrollment advertising being “slashed” by 90 percent – its effect on conscience rights, for one thing; its cost, for another.

I won’t be signing up for insurance on the “Affordable” Care Act’s exchange today, or tomorrow, or anytime before December 15. It isn’t affordable. Instead, I’ll be checking with my healthshare plan, Solidarity HealthShare, to see if there’s going to be any adjustment in my monthly fee, which I can afford.

I’m supposed to be upset about how Trump’s handling Obamacare?

My state’s senior Senator is right about this much: Obamacare is still the law of the land. It will remain so, I fear, until federal legislators like her are forced to go on their home states’ insurance exchanges to find health care coverage. I can visualize my senator getting a breezy campaign-style email assuring her “you have the opportunity to sign up!”

She might even be as enthusiastic as I am.

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. She blogs at and Leaven for the Loaf. 

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By John Ruberry

Last Monday I had a errand to run for work–which brought me to Milwaukee’s suburbs. And for the first time in five years I drove on Interstate 94 north of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line–on what is known as the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor.

A lot has changed since 2012. As I left a toll road south of the border and entered a true freeway–okay, to be fair, the toll road has been there for decades–I noticed a lot.

Businesses–with huge facilities–that weren’t there five years ago leap out at you. Most obvious is the massive Uline warehouse in Pleasant Prairie. The headquarters office of the industrial supplier moved a few miles north from Waukegan, Illinois into Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County in 2010. Its “Chicago warehouse” followed four years later.

In the 1980s Wisconsin’s tourism slogan was “Escape to Wisconsin.” Illinois businesses are now heeding the call.

Yes, the Chicago area has a couple of Amazon fulfilment centers, but farther north on my drive I saw a massive one in Kenosha–it opened in 2015. The Milwaukee Business Journal calls it “the largest in the recent Kenosha County industrial boom.” There is a “Hiring Now” sign out front.

Sears Holdings, an Illinois loser

South of Kenosha County is Lake County in ILL-inois. There is no Lake County industrial boom. There is no Illinois industrial boom.

Why is that? Sure, tax incentives from Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker have helped greatly. Illinois, when inept Democrat Pat Quinn was governor, offered tax breaks to Sears Holdings, which operates the Sears and Kmart brands, and Mitsubishi Motors, to encourage them to stay. This was a few months after a huge income tax hike was enacted. What about attracting new business? By all accounts Sears and Kmart are on life-support and Mitsubishi closed its Bloomington plant in 2015.

Corporate taxes might be slightly higher in Wisconsin–no place is perfect. But Illinois has the nation’s highest median property tax rate. And Illinois’ expensive workers compensation laws frighten business owners.

In 2015 Wisconsin became a right-to-work state. All the states that border Illinois except for Missouri are right-to-work states and Show Me State voters will be asked next year if they want to join the trend. Nearby Michigan has been right-to-work since 2012. Job creators don’t like unions and based on recent workplace votes, neither do workers.

Illinois has its 800-pound odious gorilla in its basement, a woefully underfunded public-worker pension system. Wisconsin’s state pensions are by most accounts fully funded. Businesses don’t like uncertainty and Illinois’ pension bomb, despite a massive personal and corporate tax hike put in place this summer, has not been defused. Not even close. Ka-boom is coming.

Blogger in Pleasant Prairie

This summer Wisconsin and the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor snagged its biggest prize, the Foxconn factory. The Taiwanese manufacturer will hire anywhere from 3,000 to 13,000 employees for its facility in Mount Pleasant in Racine County. Yes, Illinois had also bid on the Foxconn plant.

Indiana is also enjoying great success poaching Illinois firms for the similar reasons.

And when the jobs leave the people leave. And Illinois is one of only three states with negative population growth.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

There’s a math education professor at the University of Illinois who thinks “math perpetuates white privilege,”

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” Gutierrez argued.

Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

If she thinks algebra and geometry are tough, she’s never struggled through calculus.

Sure enough: according to her faculty profile she does not have a degree in math and is not a math teacher. Instead, she has a Ph.D. in “Curriculum and Instruction,”

and focuses on equity issues in mathematics education, paying particular attention to how race, class, and language affect teaching and learning


Gutierrez believes that

Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.

Or Chinese or Indian, like several I know.

But I digress.

As a marketing and economics major in college, I had to take several semesters of statistics and calculus. Not being particularly gifted in those disciplines, I had to knuckle down: Stay focused in class, work through all the problems in the textbooks, do all the homework, and study for every test.

I could blame someone else for my frustration when I didn’t get “A” grades  and call it a “microagression” (not that the word existed then). The fact is that math is hard. It took hard work.

I have known men with exceptional faster-than-a-calculator math skills (no, I’ve not yet met women with that skill). The rest of us, regardless of race, ethnic origin or sex, have to apply ourselves. That’s why sciences are disciplines

training to act in accordance with rules; drill:

It is by no means “unearned privilege.” Maybe she ought to try it.

Jaime Escalante was very successful teaching math to “unteachable” students. The students had to do the work. His work was not only to teach, but to motivate. Escalante respected his students enough to demand that they live up to their potential.

Escalante didn’t believe in politically correct excuses.

Rather than take Escalante’s approach, Gutierrez wants math teachers to develop a sense of “political conocimiento,” mixing Spanglish while shifting away from “math developed by white people.” Never mind that quadratic equations were developed by the Egyptians, and that the Chinese were doing calculus by the 11th century B.C. Identity politics reigns supreme.

“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.

The simple answer is that you can’t BS your way out of math. In a technology-based world, math skills command a premium.

I mourn for the students affected by Gutierrez’s mindset.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

A 17-year old with no visible means of financial support got an abortion this morning.

Not news, you say? Look again.

“Jane Doe” is an immigrant, an unaccompanied 17-year-old, living in the U.S. without benefit of documentation. When Jane Doe learned she was pregnant, she sought an abortion in Texas, where she is living. Disputes broke out, state and federal courts weighed in, and somewhere along the way Jane Doe was assigned a guardian to protect her interests.

The guardian enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, which jubilantly reported today that the abortion has been committed. “Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe,” went the ACLU tweet, one among many celebrating the death of a child’s child. #JusticeforJane, says the hashtag.

I suspect Jane Doe’s anonymity will dissolve when she turns 18, if not earlier, as she becomes a poster child for abortion advocates. Killing her child was worth a legal battle, to some people – more so than trying to regularize her residency status, apparently.

That’s a hellish way to become a celebrity. Whatever her immigration status, she deserves better than that.

Our country deserves better than to be thought of as an abortion haven, too.

I assume that as an immigrant without documentation, whose home is a U.S. detention center, she didn’t have money. Who paid to have her child killed? Was it you and me?

Human dignity lost today – the mother’s, the dead child’s, the abortionist’s, the abortion apologists’.

There’s surely a great deal about this 17-year-old that I don’t know. Why did she leave her homeland? Was she sent by her family, or did she decide on her own to cross the border? Was she pregnant when she got here? Did she become pregnant due to assault, and if so, is there as intense an effort to apprehend the perpetrator as there was to abort her child?

Whatever the answers, great things may yet lie ahead for her; better days, better choices.

Today isn’t a good day for her, no matter what her enablers are saying. Her child is dead, and abortion apologists are dancing on the remains. God have mercy on us all.

Alexandra DeSanctis said it better than I. “This is perhaps the most despicable thing about this entire ordeal — that justice in our modern world demands the blood of an innocent child. We have reached the point in the abortion debate where it is not only socially acceptable to crusade for the intentional killing of one specific unborn child, but where we are expected to applaud when that execution is carried out. How utterly shameful.”

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. She blogs at and Leaven for the Loaf, and she welcomes reader support.

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