Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Ideological Box

In the Robert B. Parker novel "The Widening Gyre", Spenser is tasked with protecting a congressman running for a Senate seat. In a discussion with a seasoned political reporter named Cosgrove. Spenser asks Cosgrove about the congressman he's working for.

"He really is a born again, fundamentalist Christian. And that limits him. His options are so proscribed by his convictions he can't legislate very well. He's not a big thinker either. He's impatient with complicated issues, because he doesn't understand them. Often he doesn't even know they're complicated."

The Widening Gyre was written in 1983.

Sound familiar? 32 years later. Sure the hell does to me.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Borders Two

In the 30’s Germany’s Jewish population was less than 1% of the total population of the country and Jews were blamed for all of Germany’s problems that lead to Hitler’s “Final Solution”.  In reality, Germany’s problems, economic and otherwise were directly linked to the settlement of WWI and the punishment the Allies thought Germany deserved. Hitler used Germany’s problems caused by the war to rise to power and we all know how that ended.

Now in the US, immigrants, legal and illegal, are being blamed and hammered daily for our problems, economic and otherwise. A popular and powerful Iowa radio talk show host proposed that all illegals after given a warning of 60 days to leave would become “property of the state” and would be put to work. The audience loved it. Apparently chattel slavery is popular in Iowa.

Yesterday a Republican presidential candidate said it might be a good idea to deploy armed drones along the border of the US and Mexico. Dr. Ben Carson thinks there is a military solution to the illegal immigration problem. Border state wedding parties beware. The constitution be damned.

We have almost 2,000 miles of border with Mexico, 1200 of it is in Texas. At the moment, in Texas there is 110 miles of fence, eventually about 670 miles will be fenced. No, there will never be a continuous fence along our Southern border, no matter what Trump and other Republicans say.

The most effective border fence ever built was the fence between East and West Germany during the cold war. It consisted of multiple fences of barbed wire, mine fields, towers with machine guns, thousands of guards with dogs patrolling 24/7. You know why it was so effective? The standing order was shoot to kill. Are we ready for that? Some of us apparently are.

There is a lot of talk about “birth right citizenship” contained in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Birth right citizenship has been settled law in the US for almost 150 years, it was written to insure the rights of recently freed slaves and their children. When it was debated, a senator brought up Chinese citizenship, the answer was “Yes.” Chinese born in the US were citizens. End of story. There is no way, the 14th Amendment is going to be changed. It requires ¾ of the states voting to change it. Politicians in a state like Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada or California would be cutting their political throats to back it. Backing the change would destroy not only the politicians, but their party as well. The issue can be demagogued, but it’s not going to happen.
Here’s why:

If it was possible to change the 14th Amendment and eliminate birthright citizenship, how would the change be implemented? Would current families be grandfathered into the system or would all families be purged. For example if Grandpa Lopez slipped across the border 50 years ago, got a job, got married, bought a house, he and Grandma Lopez had 4 kids who are by law citizens, those kids got married had kids would the entire family be illegal? Or would it only apply to Jose Gonzalez and his wife and two kids, (US citizens) who’ve only been here for 5-10-20 years? How far back would the law reach? There are families here who were illegal 4 generations ago, maybe longer.

The logistics of deportation would be a nightmare, if you put 50 illegals on a bus at the border and sent them back across the border, and you sent a bus every 10 minutes, 24/7 it would take more than 7 years to deport everyone. The next time you hear a politician yelling about a fence. Shut off the TV and vote for somebody who has a clue. And keep in mind Hispanics aren't the only illegals.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Question for our Politicians

The Iran agreement...

Here’s the question for every wavering Democrat and every Republican: “If you choose to reject the deal and go against the rest of the world, how much will you raise taxes and how many kids from your district are you willing to sacrifice to go to war with Iran at the behest of AIPAC, the Likud party, Netanyahu and Neo con wet dreams?”

Here are the military estimates of the costs of a war with Iran...

Likely US troop deaths: 15,000, Likely US troops lightly injured: 270,000, Likely US troops more seriously wounded: 90,000

Direct cost of war: $5.1 trillion, Cost of caring for wounded troops over lifetime: $9 trillion to $18 trillion

Likely Iranian deaths: 300,000 to 1 million,Likely Iranian injured: 900,0000 to 3 million, Iranian displaced: 12 million (out of 75 million)

Opportunity cost to US: $23 trillion

This works out to about 35 dead kids per congressional district

So how ’bout it, you fuckers? How much are you willing to raise taxes to pay for this?

What High School senior class of kids are you willing to look in the eye and say “Sorry, but three dozen of you need to die.”

And if you think Israel is going to do anything on their own , you're out of you're mind.

Thanks to the Balloon Juice blog and Juan Cole...

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Borders

I think I was about 4 years old the first time I crossed the border to Canada. Looking out the window after we crossed the border, everything looked the same to me. Then again I was 4 years old. What did I know? Actually it still looks pretty much the same, except there are Chinese-Canadian restaurants and Tim Horton's everywhere.

I went to Mexico the first time when I was 18, why? Beer was twenty five cents a can, mixed drinks were 45 cents and nobody checked your ID. For short money you could have sex with a girl about your age.  The juke boxes played rock and roll and it was teenage heaven or at least what an 18 year old imagined heaven was like. The border crossing was a mere formality, “How long you planning to stay?” Country of birth?” Coming back to the states, “How long were you there?” “Did you buy anything of value?” “Have a nice day.”

20 years later going to Canada was like it always had been, same with Mexico. Crossing at San Ysidro, you parked, walked through a turnstile and there you were In Tijuana. Going through the turnstiles were 1000’s of Mexicans going home after a day’s work in the US. Some were carrying grocery bags from Von’s or Ralph’s supermarkets or shopping bags from American stores. The next morning the Mexicans walked back through the border, caught a bus to their jobs in the US and went back to their families in Mexico that night. It had been like that everywhere on the border for as long as there had been a border.

Then the “War on Drugs” kicked in big time. The Mexican border was tightened down. The walk through traffic was slowed down, the lines of cars going in both directions lengthened, more Border Patrol Agents and a lot tougher questions. Since it was much more difficult to cross the border, Mexicans simply stayed on the US side and continued to go to work.

Some Americans think Mexicans taught Americans about drugs, lured Americans into smoking Killer Weed and introduced them to all kinds of drugs and of course something had to be done about that. Didn’t it? The rules changed, Mexicans could no longer easily come to the US, get a work permit, work the tomato or lettuce or strawberry harvest, collect a few bucks and go home, they were trapped in the US, so they stayed. Now there are generations of them living here, their children barely speak Spanish anymore.

Some believe the solution is to throw them all out of the country and build a bigger fence. I doubt that will work, first of all rounding them all up would be very expensive and we don’t like to pay to fix bridges anymore so if we can’t pay for a bridge how are we going to pay for the deportation of millions and millions of people and no, the Mexican government isn’t going to pay for it.

Part of the fallout of this is it’s become a pain in the ass to cross the Canadian border and because the US has become dickish to Canadians crossing to the US, the Canadians have begun to pay us back by being dicks too. I used to drive across Ontario on QEW to Michigan, border crossing in and out took maybe 10 minutes, depending on traffic, it’s much longer now.

In other parts of the country the illegal immigrants are Chinese, in Boston, the illegals are Irish. There’s an old joke in Massachusetts that goes, “Walk into an Irish Pub and yell “Immigration” and the entire staff runs out the back door, including the beautiful red head who was leading you to your table.” Funny, right? I heard that from an immigration agent one night in an Irish Pub in Brighton, MA.

I have no idea what we are going to do about this, but I know a bigger fence isn’t the answer.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Reflections on the SCOTUS decision on Gay marriage

The Cakes and I have worked with Gays and Lesbians our entire careers. I’ve worked with a Trans-gender individual as well.

Reflecting about our gay friends and associates last night while we had our evening cocktail on the porch, I thought about my Mother’s girlhood friend, who spent her entire life in the closet. A childhood friend’s older brother, a successful Doctor, married with children came out late in life. A friend and associate in radio, married to a great woman, he fathered a little girl and remained closeted until he was stricken with AIDS and died. The Gay kid I went to high school with who hung himself the day after graduation.

Then on the brighter side there’s my friend’s successful younger brother, whose partner is called “Auntie Mark” by the kids in the family. Believe me there’s a lot of good stories about good people and acceptance by families. The best thing is my children and their children don’t even “get’ why people would be upset or bothered by GLBT people.

When Cakes was an instructor in the US Airways training department, her mentor was a gay man, he later died of AIDS. Every time she speaks of him she gets tears in her eyes, he was that good of a person and a wonderful influence in her life. One of Cakes best friends in high school was a lesbian, she didn’t really know it at the time, but later she did.

I worked with one of the first women in radio sales in the country, successful, strong and started selling long before women held those jobs. Now over half of the account executives in radio are women. She was a Lesbian.

I worked with a guy who was the leading ground gainer in Massachusetts 4A high school football, he came out at 17 and his Catholic High School teammates gave him their support. I asked him what his school administrators and coaches thought, he said, “I didn’t care, I was tired of pretending to be straight, besides what were they going to do, kick me off the team? I could have gone to any school in the conference and become their worst nightmare.” A number of colleges dropped their interest in him after he came out. He is now married to a retired Navy Blue Angel pilot.

We are so happy for our friends, Bily (he says he got the other L kicked out of him) and Matt, Steve and Anthony. They are great guys, smart, interesting, funny and a delight to be around.

Years and years ago I was having an after work beer with a Gay guy I worked with and out of the blue he said, “You know what’s great about being a young gay guy?” I said, “I have no idea.” He laughed and said, “Nobody says No!”

One last thought, I hope that Gay Salem, ND farmer who tried to hug me so desperately one night in a bar and received an elbow in the ribs for his trouble, found somebody to hug and to hold him in return.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Redemption and Just Rewards

Growing up listening to old school Lutheran ministers berate their congregations of farmers about their sins for an hour each Sunday morning and then at the end of the sweaty, red faced and angry sermon shout, “God is Love!” I’ve often thought about the dichotomy of an angry and vengeful Old Testament God and Jesus his forgiving son. Maybe that’s been the plan along…

Consider this, we’re at a point that many Christians believe God will forgive anything as long as you confess and pledge to give up your bad behavior, ask for forgiveness and promise to do better in the future. The transgressor is immediately forgiven by his fellow believers and life moves on. Senator David Vitter of Louisiana is a perfect example of this, caught via phone records and credit card receipts using prostitutes in Washington DC, not only did Vitter get the normal services he had some special needs, he liked to be diapered and treated like a baby by the working girls. Caught red handed, he confessed, promised, asked for forgiveness from his wife and the electorate. Since then Vitter has been reelected twice and will probably be the next governor of Louisiana. Is this a true story of redemption. The story of a man who simply made some bad choices? An old friend of mine used to say, “Maybe, maybe not.” Maybe Senator Vitter just figured out a way to duck the bullet.

The list of fallen Christians is long and now we come to Josh Duggar, serial molester of underage girls, including 4 of his sisters. Confronted with his police record he finally confessed yesterday, resigned from his job at the Family Research Council and asked for forgiveness from his wife and children and his family and from his Savior. Of course Josh will be forgiven, might be hard for his sisters, but his Mom has already forgiven him and the Duggar patriarch, Jim Bob has as well. As a good Christian family, the Duggars will, with God’s help, get through this. Maybe, maybe not.

The scenario I like to imagine goes like this, these good Christians show up in heaven, expecting their reward and instead of being received in the loving arms of Jesus they are ushered into the chamber of the angry, vengeful, Old Testament God, who after ripping them from asshole to elbow, introduces them to his cohort Satan who escorts them off to their true and just reward. They join their fellow hypocritical Christians, fallen Catholic priests, Orthodox Jews who have participated in similar abuse and since the Old Testament God is the God of Abraham, the good Christians join Muslim Jihadists in their eternal toil in the fires of hell. No harps and halos, no streets of gold and no virgins.