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Pete Stark’s Minuteman mockery makes waves

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 at 4:18 pm in Immigration, Pete Stark, U.S. House.

Rep. Pete Stark’s sharp tone with critics once again has earned him national attention, as a video clip of Stark’s caustic repartee with a Minuteman anti-illegal-immigration activist earns major media coverage.

The video, shot by Steve Kemp of the Golden Gate Minutemen at Stark’s town-hall meeting last Saturday in Fremont, shows the Congressman needling a critic who asked about border security:

“This guy has been at every one of my town meetings and immediately gone to the Web sites, so he’s a regular. I do recognize him,” Stark said this afternoon. “I didn’t mind needling him a bit.”

But Kemp was interviewed today on Fox News’s “Your World;” CBS News and CNN have picked it up; and the Minuteman PAC is using it as a rallying cry.

“It’s an absolute outrage that a United States Congressman cares so little for his constituents and so little about the security and sovereignty of the United States that he had the gumption to ridicule and belittle his own constituents. But that’s exactly what happened!” Minutemen PAC development director Brett Anthony wrote in an e-mail blast today. “Americans are fed up with being shunned, lied to, tricked, and jeered at simply for fighting to uphold the freedom and liberty for which forefathers paid the ultimate price to guarantee.”

The phones are ringing off the hook on Capitol Hill. “We’re getting hundreds of calls, none of them from the district I might add, from all over the country saying, ‘What do you have against the Minutemen?’ or whatever,” Stark said.

So… what does he have against them?

“They see themselves as an independent militia, which may have been alright in George Washington’s time but today the government operates under rules and laws that control everybody,” he said, noting there are 20,000 border patrol agents – twice the number of a decade ago – deployed along 2,000 miles of border. “It seems to me just that number alone ought to convince them that the fed government is doing a pretty good job controlling the influx of people coming in from Mexico.”

Stark said the whole debate is “a xenophobic issue, it doesn’t differ much in Florida where they’re fearful of people from Haiti or Cuba, or New York where there’s a huge Puerto Rican population – and they’re citizens!” What it comes down to, he said, is fear of “people who speak with an accent.”

“I’m sad that that’s where our district is, but they’re not alone – it’s one of the premiere political issues of today,” he said.

As for his sarcasm, he said… well, he’s not really going into the ladder business. “That’s been a bad joke for a thousand years.”

“As I tried to explain in a more serious way, people who come across, particularly the Arizona border, they pay an awful fee to these coyotes to get them there and then they’re just dumped there on the border and they’ve got a couple hundred miles of the worst desert in our country to get across on foot,” Stark said. “They’re coming here to try to earn money to send home to their families and its hard to disrespect that, that’s an instinct that people with families have.”

This is the one thing on which he agreed with former President George W. Bush, he said – that the United States needs a comprehensive immigration reform bill including a path illegal immigrants can follow to attain legal, permanent residency. “I think we’re the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t have at least a system for allowing that to happen, and I think that causes us a lot of problems.”

UPDATE @ 4:14 P.M. WEDNESDAY 7/7: Steve Kemp just posted this to the comments, and I thought it should be appended to the post itself:

I posted this video to enlighten people who continually vote people like Stark in without a second thought of the consequences. I was born in Oakland & have watched as city after city passed laws that leave a sane person’s mouth hanging in disbelief.

With SF, Oakland, Richmond & SJ declaring themselves “sanctuary cities” for illegal aliens, our cities are looking more like third world countries than the USA!

Is it the American dream to break laws to enter a country, work under the table as the norm or steal identities to get a job, pack 2 or 3 families into a single family dwelling, drive without a license or insurance, & ignore the language spoken in America?

CA & its cities have broken under the stress of supporting illegal aliens. This is because liberal politicians such as Stark, Boxer, Pelosi, Newsom, Lee, De La Fuente & countless others have trashed our ‘American Dream’ in favor of illegal aliens.

We need leaders who place America & Americans FIRST. Anything else is treason.

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  • Jim Freeman

    So, Lisa, if you are going to follow up with Stark on this and let him say whatever he wants to say about the minutemen, why not talk to Steve Kemp as well? This piece seems a bit unbalanced to me.

  • Jim Freeman

    I have read emails from Stark constituents since this video came out, saying that they did call his office.

    How about talking to some CD-13 constituents, and find out if it is true that “none” of the calls are “from the district”

    BTW – When Stark stated the “government is doing a pretty good job controlling the influx” did you ask him about the border patrol’s own numbers that they catch one in three at best, and maybe fewer than one in five? Did you ask him about illegal drugs? Did you ask him about the lists recording the OTM’s?

  • Jim Freeman

    Sorry – not Lisa — Josh.

  • Josh Richman

    Jim: I doubt this’ll satsify you, but for the record…

    Stark’s beef was with the Minutemen in general, not just Kemp, so I posted Kemp’s video, quoted the Minuteman PAC official’s e-mail and linked to a Fox News interview with Kemp. I don’t think that’s one-sided.

    I’d be very happy to hear from CD-13 constituents on this – please post comments here! – but I’ll not be cold-calling random people today.

    As for the status of border security, I think the one-in-three number you’re citing comes from the Border Patrol agents’ union – a group that naturally would be among the leading advocates for beefing up the workforce. Here’s what U.S. Customs and Border Protection Assistant Commissioner Allen Gina told Congress last month:

    CBP has a workforce of over 58,000 employees and is the largest uniformed federal law enforcement agency in the country. During the first six months of FY 2010, CBP seized nearly half a million pounds of drugs and encountered more than 113,000 inadmissible aliens at our ports of entry. We also seized over 1.3 million pounds of drugs, made 245,000 apprehensions, and seized more than $8 million in currency between our ports of entry. Compared to previous years, CBP has seen the overall apprehensions of illegal aliens decrease from our highest point of over one million apprehensions in FY 2000. These numbers demonstrate the effectiveness of our layered approach to security, comprised of a balance of tactical infrastructure, technology, and personnel at our borders.

    Some Mexican cities along the border continue to experience high levels of drug-related violence. Despite isolated instances of violence, we have not seen violence on the U.S. side of the border on the same scale as the violence that our Mexican counterparts are battling every day. Today, Ciudad Juarez is considered the most dangerous city in the Western Hemisphere while, El Paso, right across the border, is considered one of the safest cities in the United States. Still, violence on the U.S. side of the border remains a threat. Our personnel – among the most highly trained and best equipped in the United States – are poised to meet it.

  • AJ

    Be proud CD-13…this is who represents you or not. Starks represents his political career & his ideology!

  • Anneke

    As far as I’m concerned, the problem is Stark’s disrespectful and sarcastic attitude. If I talked to my clients like that, my boss would fire my a**. Stark seems to be more concerned about the people who come here illegally than he does about the people who put him in office and pay his salary.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    Oh Canada!

  • Elwood

    Pete Stark is a senile old fool who should be in an institution.

    But Josh loves him because he has a “D” after his name.

  • GOP KICKS ASS

    Wake-up Democrats and vote that old fool out of office. He is an embarrassment to California voters and proves that you only vote D because of the D. California ia a joke and he is a perfect example of California’s foolish voters.

  • Mike F.

    I don’t live in that District, but this is not the first time he couldn’t handle himself as a professional at a Townhall. BTW – the video shows other immigrants, so that doesn’t seem to jive with his comment on people being afraid of those with accents. I’ve never heard the Minutemen shooting anyone, so why say it and infurate them? If my congressman acted this way, I’d be on the phone right away and a follow-up letter from my family, friends and neighbors.

  • For Liberty

    Californians, give up on the “D” and the “R” this fall when casting your vote for governor and vote for Chelene Nightingale. She is the ONLY candidate that will take action on our border. See the link below for the following clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ3TP6WpbSw

    For more information see the site below:

    http://www.nightingaleforgovernor.com

  • John W

    Re: #8 Elwood — “Pete Stark is a senile old fool who should be in an institution.”

    Okay, that one’s too much of a softball. He IS in an institution. He’s in Congress, right?

  • Rob M

    1. A LOT of CD-13 constituents have called – including me. We get a rude, supercilious aide who doesn’t want to hear our concerns. The whole office is full of mini-me Stark wannabes.

    2. Josh, you left a lot of Stark’s claims without a response or challenge from Kemp or the Minutemen, that’s why it feels unbalanced.

    3. This has NOTHING to do with race, ethnicity, or national origin – look at the townhall attendees. Not very “white” at all. This has everything to do with the rule of law.

  • http://www.fremontteaparty.com John Guerrero

    I have been attending Pete Stark Townhall meetings for years. I know when Steve Kemp started attending w/, he was the only one w/ a camera attached to him. I was also there at this particular Town Hall, as were others from the Fremont Tea Party Patriots. protrayed in Steve’s Video.

    This is typical Pete and his “base” loves it. His “base” will not, and does not see anything wrong w/ Pete’s attitude. When Pete “bad mouthed” Pres Bush with comments about Bush sending kids to war to get their “heads blown off”, the Dems made Pete make a Public Apology. But at the next Town Hall, his “base” applauded it…that is why Pete continues to do what he does. BTW, his “base” votes….and does it regularly. About half of the other Dems or DTS’s don’t like Pete..but they gave up voting decades ago. Little do they know, they can defeat Pete…if they VOTE and combine it w/ the Rep Candidate. Unfortunately this time, the Rep Candidate is just as bad…(but that is another story). The Fremont Tea Party backed Conservative Luis Garcia in the Primaries…who unfortunately lost…not for lack of Campaigning (unlike Forest Baker…who did very little.)

    Also, unfortunately, a third Party Candidate is also trying to get on the Ballot…that will only split the Conservative Vote..and Pete will win AGAIN…END OF STORY.

    This video will NOT sway Pete’s backers away from Pete, but will only inspire them to re-elect him. His opponents will find it revolting..let’s see if it is enough for them to do something about it in 2012..

    John Guerrero
    Leader, Fremont Tea Party Patriots

  • B C R

    I am from District 13, and I attended the meeting with of which you speak.

    I found myself feeling sorry for the feeble, old man presenting himself as Pete Stark. He seemed confused when he was asked to address any issue that didn’t involve tax and spend solutions. However, his comments on the security of the US border were dismissive, disrespectful, uninformed and stupid.

    Alas, this “representative” of California District 13 lives, with his family, near Washington, D.C. I am not represented….

  • http://www.shahab2010.com Adnan Shahab

    “…but today the government operates under rules and laws that control everybody.” The problem is that the government is not doing their duty to properly secure our borders.

    I live in CD13, and I find Pete Stark’s comments to be disrespectful and out of touch. As the son of two LEGAL immigrants, I understand the value that an immigrant population can bring to the United States. But the key is that Pete Stark is making excuses for ILLEGAL immigrants who skirt the law and jump to the head of the line, ahead of all of the other people who are going through the proper channels to become U.S. citizens. That is unforgivable.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Pa-6q-VEk4

    “We’re getting hundreds of calls, none of them from the district I might add…” FYI, as a resident in CD13, I have called Pete Stark’s office to voice my dissatisfaction with his comments.

  • Clarence De Barrows

    Pete Stark’s rhetoric and demeanor reflect a dismissive condescending attitude toward those who take the time to meet with him and discuss issues important to them. No amount of rationalizing by the likes of Josh or anyone else will change that fact. Rather than respond in a sensible manner Stark resorts to snide comments which betray his disdain for anyone who dares express an opinion which conflicts with his personal agenda. If the man weren’t so dangerous in the position he’s in he would be relegated to the status of innocuous clown and disregarded completely.

  • http://www.goldengateminutemen.org Steve Kemp

    I posted this video to enlighten people who continually vote people like Stark in without a second thought of the consequences. I was born in Oakland & have watched as city after city passed laws that leave a sane person’s mouth hanging in disbelief.

    With SF, Oakland, Richmond & SJ declaring themselves “sanctuary cities” for illegal aliens, our cities are looking more like third world countries than the USA!

    Is it the American dream to break laws to enter a country, work under the table as the norm or steal identities to get a job, pack 2 or 3 families into a single family dwelling, drive without a license or insurance, & ignore the language spoken in America?

    CA & its cities have broken under the stress of supporting illegal aliens. This is because liberal politicians such as Stark, Boxer, Pelosi, Newsom, Lee, De La Fuente & countless others have trashed our ‘American Dream’ in favor of illegal aliens.

    We need leaders who place America & Americans FIRST. Anything else is treason.

  • ex-Dem

    Old Pete is still sucking at the teat of our bloated government, and he’ll do anything to advance this administration’s cause (in his ignorant, abrasive, foolish style). He acts as if he would open his own home to any of the illegals who sneak into our country. Ha! He probably has a security fence around it.