Thursday, June 28, 2007

One For America

I have never been so happy to be wrong about a prediction. There is still hope for the U.S.A.

Ted Kennedy bellows "what's their alternative?" about the opponents of the bill. We've given several of them to you, Teddy:

1. Build the fence
2. Enforce the border
3. Follow United States laws

If that sounds like too much work, maybe you've been a senator for too long.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lessons in Losing Ourselves

Mi español no esta perfecto, pero aqui lo vaya:

Qué lastima.

Lo más de los senators y el presidente ventas los Estados Unidos a los Mexicanos. Nosotros no tenemos uno país ya.

Para inglés, prensa UNO. Y buena suerte con ese.

Uno momento, por favor, para el traducción:

Nosotros ha sido arruinado.


What a shame.

Most of the senators and the president are selling the United States to the Mexicans. We don’t have one country anymore.

For English, press ONE. And good luck with that.

One moment, please, for the translation:

We’ve been screwed.


As I mentioned at the start of this post--en español, naturalmente--my Spanish isn't perfect. But I understand a dirty deal in any language. Congress, for its own political purposes, is determined to jam this wretched immigration bill down our throats. Our lofty elected officials really don't give a tinker's damn about what any of "the People" have to say about it.

No matter how many phone calls, faxes, e-mails, interviews, and protests there are from "the American people," you can bet your last peso that the bill will be law. Our wishes are irrelevant to the senators. Our current "representative democracy" more closely resembles socialism.

In Spanish, socialism is "socialismo." Just add an "O" at the end of the word--as in "OVER."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Old-Time Immigration

"This bill provides an historic opportunity to uphold America’s tradition of welcoming and assimilating immigrants and honoring our heritage as a nation built on the rule of law."

He's got to be kidding.

As most of modern Americans do, I come from a family of immigrants. My ancestors were legal immigrants. Isn't it interesting how the defining "illegal" tag has been dropped from the currently raging "immigration" debate?

In the early part of of the 20th century, most immigrants traversed an ocean to come to America. There was no sneaking across unguarded land at 2:00 A.M. with a flashlight. The authorities were lined up at the docks in New York and Boston, awaiting the immigrant ships' arrivals with their ledger books, their ink pens and, most significantly, their list of rules.

Immigrants had to be approved in advance. As they disembarked, they needed to present proof of sponsorship into the country. That meant that someone already in the U.S.A. legally, working a job and living at an address of record, had stepped up to vouch that this new immigrant also had a job and a home waiting for them. Without a sponsor, a woeful fate awaited the newcomer to America.

My paternal grandmother, who was sponsored into the U.S. by her sister, arrived at age sixteen. She said that one of the other passengers on the ship, a young lady about her age, was in front of her on the receiving line. Unfortunately, the girl's sponsor was not there to meet her. She was taken aside and placed, weeping, into a wooden holding pen.

"It was like a cage," my grandmother used to declare in indignant tones. (Can you imagine the uproar over that today?) Did her sponsor ever show up?, I asked. My grandmother never knew, because her sister was waiting to greet and sponsor her in. My grandmother was duly signed in and officially welcomed as a legal U.S. resident.

Even in the mid-20th century, the immigration system remained essentially the same. My husband's father was sponsored into the U.S. by a friend who had immigrated a few years before. A job at a utility company and a residence at the sponsor's home awaited my in-laws.

These arrangements were all upfront and on the official record. There were no "shadows" to live in or be "brought out of" in that era. You immigrated legally, in the open light of day, or you stayed put where you were until you could do so.

Both of my grandmothers became U.S. citizens when they married, by virtue of my two grandfathers' U.S. military service. That, I think, is an excellent tradition we should continue today. If an immigrant steps forward to serve our country in the military, the least we should do is to legalize his or her spouse.

But what are the lessons in this old family story? Yes, America is a "nation of immigrants," and we should be proud to continue that heritage. But hold on--where is the "rule of law" in today's border situation? Where are the sponsors? Where are the records of jobs and addresses? Where are the government officials signing each and every immigrant into the books as legal residents?

Where are the holding pens? Granted, a wooden cage is a bit harsh. I always felt bad about that girl, and I know my grandmother did, too. Why else would she be exclaiming over it 60 years later? But we don't need a wooden cage to do a fair job of ascertaining that the immigrants who come to our country today are legal and upright.

What we need is a completed fence, border agents who are empowered to do their jobs, and the cooperation of government to enforce our laws. Only that will, to quote the president, "build an immigration system worthy of our great nation.” With this current illegal immigration bill, as it stands today, I repeat: He's got to be kidding.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cyber House Rules

I’ve been avoiding the illegal immigration topic quite deliberately, because I’m afraid that if I start spouting I will lose my tenuous grasp on sanity.

Speaking of fragile sanity puts me in mind of an old movie, “Whatever Happened to John McCain?” Oh, no, wait—it was “Baby Jane.” The demented Bette Davis made more sense in that crazy flick than No-Brain McCain is making these days.

And no, feeble-minded Senators Trent Lott and Lindsey Graham, "talk radio" is not the problem. Screwed up senators are the problem. Why should the American citizenry allow you to sell us out with a travesty of a bill that would give OBL’s bloodthirsty buddies free access to our country? You’re furious that new media—which includes bloggers and talk radio—is making you accountable to the voters by instantly and widely disseminating the crap you’re trying to pull.

Game over. We’re millions of mouse clicks away from the good ol’ days, and you’d best deal with the fact that there’s no going back. The Senate can’t pull the curtains and jam a bill through in the dead of night, leaving the American public to learn the aftermath in the morning paper. There’s Ann Coulter (her June 13 piece, "No Drug Smuggler Left Behind," is GOLD), Michelle Malkin, National Review Online, Laura Ingraham, and Hugh Hewitt (who has actually read and understands every word and implication of the bill—no wonder Lott and Graham won’t go on his show) all splaying open your idiocy-in-progress for everyone to see and hear. It’s not a flattering portrayal, to put it mildly, so the ticked off senators are lashing out at the conservative base voters.

It’s a thoroughly stupid tactic, insulting the people who voted for you. Furthermore, it won’t work. The American voters don’t buy it. We don’t believe you, and we don’t trust you. If you made even one concession towards proving to us that you are serious about border security, we might give you a second chance to convince us about the bill. But that would take work, and it would also take some humility. Today’s Senate seems to be allergic to both.

So sputter and moan all you like, senators, but don’t try to tell us we’re bigots because we want our national borders to be secured. If we expect our country's laws to be enforced, don’t accuse us of being racists. We know we’re not, and we know you’re wrong. And lazy.

Instead of throwing tantrums attacking law abiding American citizens, try something novel. Try doing your jobs. Or is the position of U.S. senator now just one more of those “jobs Americans won’t do”?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Forever Father

Several years ago, I wrote a letter to a woman who was devastated by the death of her father.

Having lost my own father in 1987, and being at the stage of life where many friends have suffered the same loss, I think it's safe to assume that human emotions after a beloved father's death are universally shared. As my own children are facing their second Father's Day without their Dad, I thought it would be fitting to reprint the letter for them.

If you're fortunate enough to have your father here with you, I wish you a joyful celebration of Father's Day tomorrow.


Dear Kristine and Matt,

The death of a dear parent is such an overwhelming loss on so many levels that it seems almost unbearable. Somehow we find ourselves going through the motions of daily life, but we move as though underwater, in a dark well of loneliness that shows no exit. We feel completely lost, badly injured, irreparably damaged. In many ways, we are all of those things. Life’s wheel has moved forward, and things can never be the same.

Yet your father will always be your father, and you will always think of yourselves as his daughter and his son. His physical presence is no longer here, but the emotional and spiritual bonds of your love for each other will endure. Not a day goes by that I do not think of my own father, sometimes fleetingly, often in more depth, but always with joy and pride that he was my father. When I grapple with a challenging decision, I ask myself what Dad would do or what he might advise me to do. Unfailingly, when applying this method, I arrive at a good solution. My father is still very much a part of my everyday life. I believe that time will lead you to the same comforting discovery. You will learn that the parent-child relationship transcends death and lives on.

This is not to minimize the loss you have suffered, which is staggering. It is true that no one on earth ever loves us as a good father does. We never feel quite so safe again after his death. When he leaves this earth, our first champion, our best protector, is gone from us. The loss of your father is bottomless; there is no end to the missing of him.

But the love and good memories you shared, he leaves behind to sustain you. Just as he provided all the necessities of life for you as a child, your father’s love will continue to nourish you for the rest of your days. This is one of life’s precious gifts over which death is, quite simply, powerless.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Flag Day, 2007

To survive in peace and harmony, united and strong, we must have one people, one nation, one flag.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Terrific Idea

Now this is an idea whose time has definitely come. I've added Troops Need You to my sidebar links and accepted the challenge for my $10 donation.

Remember that they are our troops, fighting for us. The troops need you. Please contribute what you can to help them succeed.

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fenced In

'Good fences make good neighbours'
~ Robert Frost, Mending Wall

Nike's famous advertising campaign instructed us to "Just do it."

With the proposed immigration legislation quite rightly gone down in flames, American citizens are telling Congress, in no uncertain terms, "Just build it." They mean the fence between Mexico and the U.S.A., which has been promised but has not been forthcoming.

I doubt the government ever had the slightest intention of building the fence--until now, maybe.

One caller to a radio talk show stated that, in this showdown between politicians and the public, "America won." I like his description of the outcome. The clueless congressional egomaniacs went home for the Memorial Day break (why do they always get seven or eight more days off than regular working voters?), and they all got an earful from their constituents.

Angry voters mean your cushy congressional job is gone next election. And nothing has made voters angrier than this terribly conceived legislation. People were vocal. Many people I know who have never called or written a politician before, did so to express their fury over this bill. While I have written to legislators in the past, I have never done so as prolifically as I did this time. I e-mailed four senators and wrote letters to another two before hearing the good news that the bill had failed.

Congress couldn't avoid receiving the message that Americans don't want to hear about Z visas until current laws are enforced and the promised fence is built.

America won. Senators and congressmen would be well advised to pay attention. Don't sit too long on the fence; get busy working on a decent immigration bill that respects United States citizens first.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Poison Pen

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
~ St. Thomas Aquinas

Christopher Hitchens has a new book out, "god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." The title tells you a lot about the man. He's opinionated in the extreme and given to sweeping generalizations that he wouldn't like to be told are emotional rather than logical.

But, they are.

"EVERYTHING!" Hmmm. Does that mean my vanilla ice cream cake has been poisoned by religion? How about my new watermelon lip gloss? What about the new plants I put around the patio? And the month-long research project I just completed at work? My weekly phone calls to my mother? Has reciting my morning Rosary destroyed them all?

Yet Hitchens has the brass to calls believers "ridiculous."

Hitchens debated Dr. Mark Roberts on the radio this afternoon. Hugh Hewitt billed it as "The Great God Debate." It was interesting, but unavoidably circular. There's no talking with antagonists like Hitchens, especially if you start making intelligent points in the opposite direction--which Roberts did. At that point, towards the end of a very full three hours, Hitchens became downright nasty. Roberts, to his eternal credit, remained gracious and respectful. Chalk a plus sign in the believers' column.

Although I've read enough of his work to know that he is a very talented writer, Christopher Hitchens is an angry, humorless man. Even his own brother takes serious issue with him on this subject. I won't buy his book--and not because I'm afraid of his self-proclaimed rationality. The self-impressed Hitchens would be incredulous, but he'll just have to take it on faith (ha ha) that I've heard more nuanced arguments against God than his oversimplified rantings. No, I won't buy the book because he is rude and arrogant. Neither quality deserves to be rewarded.

On the other hand, I am looking forward to reading Dr. Robert's new book, Can We Trust The Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Today's theological debate reminded me of a quotation from Albert Einstein:

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

There's that word "everything" again, applied much more appropriately in this case. Even the genius Einstein could allow the possibility of God.

Sorry, Hitch, but you're not an effective advertisement for the joys of atheism. It's almost as though you've been poisoned.

UPDATE: Debate transcript and audio linked here.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tell Me That It's Evolution

We all want to change the world
~ The Beatles

It's been 40 years since the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album was released, changing music history. It was the first rock album intended to be listened to straight through, like a story unfolding. We may take it for granted today, but in 1967 the concept was visionary.

Although one of my brothers could write a doctoral dissertation on virtually any aspect of the Beatles, I was never a huge fan of the group. But, there is no denying the Beatle's impact on music and pop culture in the 20th century. In fact, according to the Washington Post's title link "one music critic called the album "a decisive moment in the history of Western civilization."

I don't know if I'd go quite that far, but it was, in the jargon of the '60s, "a happening."

It's not so much that I didn't like the Beatles' music. A more accurate description of my reaction to Beatles songs would be "weary." Their monster hits saturated the airwaves in the 1960s and '70s. Those were the days of AM/FM radio; there weren't the media alternatives available today. No matter where you turned in 1968, "Hey Jude" blared--from jukeboxes, in the car, on the beach, over loudspeakers. Ugh! While many of the old classic rock tunes I initially disliked have "grown on" me over the years, "Hey Jude" is one of which I still can't tolerate a single note.

Many of their less ubiquitous songs I liked very much, then and now. In fact, I have my personal Beatles Top Ten, listed below:

  1. In My Life

  2. I've Just Seen a Face

  3. No Reply

  4. I Should Have Known Better

  5. From Me to You

  6. Twist and Shout

  7. We Can Work It Out

  8. Any Time At All

  9. Dear Prudence

  10. Here Comes the Sun
Within a few years of "Sgt. Pepper's" debut, other structured albums such as The Who's rock opera "Tommy," and Pink Floyd's concept album "The Dark Side of the Moon" were hot on the charts. Music continued to evolve down this complex path of concept and rock opera albums throughout the '70s, with hits by such artists as Jethro Tull and David Bowie and new bands such as Genesis and Rush. Groups like Styx and Journey carried theme rock music into the 1980s, and current artists such as Green Day continue the form in the new millennium. Over the last 40 years, modern music and its presentation have undergone a complete "Revolution."

To mark this auspicious anniversary, let's give The Beatles their due. To quote from Sgt. Pepper:

It would seem that, in many ways, Sgt. Pepper did indeed teach the band to play.

Don't you know it's gonna be all right