Monday, May 29, 2006

the Dixie Chicks on Memorial Day

Today my daughter and I went to Best Buy to get a CD, the newest one by the Dixie Chicks.

I am a moderate fan of country music, but I have fallen away from it for a while because of the Red States stance on our current administration. "It's a my country right or wrong" attitude I can't put up with and will not support. Especially when my country is led by George W. Bush who is not a golden example of what America is or should be.

However I will support courage, honesty and intregity, which is why I got the latest CD by the Dixie Chicks. In March 2003 the Dixie Chicks made a public comment in London at a concert that they were ashamed that George W. Bush came from their home state of Texas. For that remark they have been threatened, boycotted and supremely unpopular with Red States country music stations across the country.

When they were asked to explain their comment they did, and said that they believed that in thieir right to free speech. Red states fanatics said that they were traitors when they used free speech to make comments against a sitting president, the chicks explained that free speech meant that you are allowed to make a comment, even if others don't agree with you.

Lots of country folk called them disloyal to the very troops who were fighting for their rights, but the Chicks said that many others before this generation fought to give them that right and to NOT use it was disloyal to them.

Well, their comment was nearly professional suicide.

But they are back, unbowed and courageous, and even making a song about their belief called "Not Ready to Make Nice."

I applaud their courage and support them in the only way I know how, by supporting their music. I wish more would do the same. I wish more would understand that it takes a heck of a lot of courage to point out in public, when you are a person in the public eye, that something is not right, even if others disagree, or are blinded by propeganda.

Leonard Pitts Jr, syndicated columnist published in the Miami Herald, agrees with me. I hope more people read his column and realize that the Dixie Chicks are not cowards, or traitors, but patriots who are willing to sacrifice their livelihood for their principles. If the rest of the world would follow suit we would all be in a much better place.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Order and Anarchy

The library where I work owns a book titled Anarachy and Order : the interplay of politics and law in international relations by James C. Hsiung.

It is shelved on the 3rd floor on shelving right in front of the elevator.

Every day someone takes the book out of it's assigned slot, JX1391 .H78 1997, and gently lays it along side the books, putting it on its side so the call number can't be read.

Every day that I see it, I take the book and replace it in it's proper slot, upright along with the other books.

Order and Anarchy. Seems about right.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

negative saving

Suzie Ormand, that PBS guru of finance, has gone on tv to tell us all that the United States is in big trouble because we, as a nation, are NOT saving.

Not saving. Egad. How could that have happened one wonders.

Well I am not the infamous one. I know.

Idiots can figure it out.


The current administration has made a mess of the finances of the country and just takes money, spending it freely on what they want, leaving taxpayers to make up the difference. Not in taxes, but in lost services that they must now pay for.

Jobs go overseas, but this administration says there are plenty of jobs and the economy is good.

Spend, they say. Use your credit cards and keep the economy moving.


Spend what?

A full gas tank in my 2003 Suzuki used to cost less than $20 and last a week. Now it costs about $40 and lasts longer because I don't drive as much.

Been grocery shopping lately? That peanut butter investment would really be paying off about now.

Store brand pasta, whch used to be 2 for $1 is now 2 for $1.29 Maybe I'm bad at math but it seems to me that's a 29% increase. Blame it on the cost of transporting the food to market.

Milk at a drive through convience store near here used to be a bargain at $1.99 a gallon on sale once a week. Now there are no sales and the gallon costs over $5. Blame that on the cost of electricity and refrigeration as well as transportation.

Supermarket brand loss leader white bread is still 99 cents, but the better brands are up about 30 cents per loaf. Meats are high. Even I put back some things after looking at the price per pound for steak. Hamburger is no bargain and chicken is not a cheap meal anymore. (Unless you get a sale at some store that's buy one get one free just to get you in the door.) Fresh vegetables are not only more expensive but also there seems to be less of them available. Perhaps the cost of transportation makes it not profitable to send them very far from where they are picked.

So, if you want to drive your car to work and eat the same kinds of food your are used to eating then you pay more. How much more? Maybe $100 a week more. And if that $100 is what you used to put into some kind of savings because it was extra money then you can no longer save it if you have to spend it. And maybe you even spend more than that and have to dip into your savings to pay for things.

Negative savings.

Only a moron wouldn't be able to understand that.
Unfortunately that's who is in the White House.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

It may be a Hallmark card day now but the intention was honerable. A woman wanted to honor her beloved mother so she petitioned to have a day set aside to honor all mothers.

The carnation is the official mothers day flower, it was the favorite flower of the mother in whose memory the day was invisioned.

So perhaps we should skip the Hallmark moment and just do what we can to honor the mother we have, or grandmother, or mother-in-law, or aunt or sister.

To those for whom the greeting applies.

Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It was easier in the old days

Challanged by the assertion that today's migrants should obey the law and come to the US the way "my grandparent came" legally. I started researching how the law might have changed in the last 100 years. I was trying to find out exactly when restriction on coming to America included the use of visa and passports, because as late as the early 1900's all it seems you had to have was a way to get here and aletter from someone saying you had a job promised. And you didn't have to have a dime in your pocket or anyone actually verifying that you HAD a job or were gainfully employed.

Yep the law has changed a lot. All of this information and more can be found by simply doing a Google search for Wikipedia (the free on line encyclopedia). Some of this information listed below is exactly quoted from that source, other parts are abstracted for/due to space and time limitations.

In 1790 the first Naturalization Act was passed. It limited immigration to free while men of good moral character who could obtain citizenship in a mere 2 years, after swearing to defend the Constitution.

In 1795 it was amended to include provisions that the person declare his intention he had to wait 2 years before doing soto become a citizen of the United States,apply for the citizenship and give up any rights to a title or rights of nobility in any foreign land. The time nesessary as a resident in the United States was increased to 5 years. This version also included the right of children under the age of 21 to become citizens when their father did. Women, like servants were just assumed into the system because "everyone knows" women and people from Asian countries didn't have the intelligence to reason and vote, so they didn't really matter. There was also a provision that you could not be insane or have a mental defect, be an imbecile.

In 1798, again limiting the law to "free white" persons the delcaration time was increased to 5 years and the residency requirement to 14 years before one could become a citizen.

In 1882, in response to the Burlinggame Treaty the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed prohibiting the entry of any person of Chinese Origin, no matter what his country, from immigrating to the United States for a period of 10 years. This stopped Chinese people , who came in response to the California Gold Rush in 1849 , from continuing to arrive in the United States. It has since been repealed, but remains a part of the US Code and is the only law that specifically prohibits immigration of any one ethnic or racial group.

The Geary Act was a United States law passed in 1892 written by California Congressman Thomas J. Geary. It extended the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 by 10 years and adding new requirements.The law required all Chinese residents of the United States to carry a resident permit, a sort of internal passport. Failure to carry the permit at all times was punishable by deportation or a year at hard labor. In addition, Chinese were not allowed to bear witness in court, and could not receive bail in habeas corpus proceedings.

The Geary Act was challenged in the courts and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1893. So much for due process, huh? The act was renewed until 1943 when it was repealed by the passage of the Magnuson Act allowing a quota of 105 Chinese to enter the country legally, per year.

Another bit of direct info from Wikipedia:
In the United States, the Emergency Quota Act of May 19, 1921 limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 3% of the number of persons from that country living in the United States in 1910, according to Census figures. This totaled about 357,802 immigrants. Of that number just over half was allocated for northern and western Europeans, and the remainder for eastern and southern Europeans, a 75% reduction from prior years. Professionals were allowed in despite their origins. The act was passed in a time of swelling isolationism following World War I.

This part of the explaination I thought was most informative, due to the nature of the current immigration situation regarding illegal Mexicans. Again, it's lifted from the Wikipedia word for word.

The United States Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the National Origins Quota Act, Johnson-Reed Act, or the Immigration Quota Act of 1924, established a system of national quotas which limited the number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people who were already living in the United States in 1890, according to the census of 1890. (total quota: 164,667) 86% of the quotas were allocated to northern and western European countries. It superseded the 1921 Emergency Quota Act. The law was aimed at reducing the influx of Southern and Eastern Europeans who had begun to enter the country in large numbers beginning in the 1890s, and prohibited immigration from Asia. It set no limits on immigration from the western hemisphere which was exempt due to the dependence of the southern states on inexpensive Mexican labor.

It passed with strong congressional support (only 6 dissenting votes in the Senate). Some of its strongest supporters were influenced by Madison Grant and his 1916 book, The Passing of the Great Race. Grant was a eugenicist and advocate of the racial hygiene theory. His data, which is now considered by the vast majority of scientists to be flawed, purported to show the superiority of the founding Northern European races.

My observation is that this one little law is also very racist. It doesn't exclude Mexicans, and it doesn't limit them. Looks like we realized - even then - that we needed them. If you go to the Wikipedia and read more about this Johnson Reed Act you'll notice it was also pretty anti-semetic. What ever happened to that right to practice your own religion I wonder?

I'll continue searching for those magic laws that make it harder to just show up with a promise of a job. But I am tired and want to get to bed early tonight.

immigration laws

In response to the "why can't these migrants come here legally like my grandparents?" I am researching some reasons why.

I'll find out the law on immigration as it existed from the late 1890's and early 1900's when the influx of most "migrants" got her and compare it to the system now in place.

Maybe that alone will show "why" people chose to cross the border and come here via leagl means.

It may take me a while to do the real legal research but I am determined to do it. Not to prove others wrong, but for my own curiousity.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


More than one person has told me that undocumented migrants should be called "illegal aliens" because that is what they are.

Well, that may be partly right. I guess it depends on how you actually define alien.

<strong>Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines an alien as:
Belonging or relating to another person or place : stranger. Another part of that defination is: different in nature or character. It goes on: of a foreign character origin: belonging to something else. And finally: repugnant in nature.

So which part of that defination is it? How about the archaic defination? One excluded from certain privileges: one alienated or estranged.
I wonder if the term migrant bothers people because it is less punative? Less exclusive? Less deoragatory? Maybe migrant doesn't cover all the bases? Maybe saying migrant doesn't convey what "everyone knows" about those aliens

Saying alien makes me think of the Sigorne Weaver movie of the same name. It calls to mind something dangerous, repulsive and evil.

Migrant is a term that makes me think of men and women who follow the crops as they grow. Migrants work hard to make a dollar, and they work hard to feed their families. Migrants do menial job and don't intrude into the American lifestyle.
Migrants are non threatening.

Maybe calling migrants aliens makes it easier to think of them as non human? Maybe it makes it easier to fear them? Maybe it makes it easier to blame them? Maybe it makes it easier to hate them?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Critical Thinking: observation and comment

I finally figured out what makes critical thinking such a big part of research, and of understanding. Reasoning.

I have had some conversations via e-mail recently over the migrant news stories. One woman told me that if I dont' like things why do I complain all of the time. You have to understand that I was not complaining about anything. I was explaining the differences in migrants who come to America legally and those who have no papers.

She made the comment that "they" come over here and take everything they can get and "she" pays for it. Meaning, in the real world, that she assumed that all migrants legal or otherwise, came to the United States and immediately set out to get what they could for free while "real Americans" like herself who paid taxes and never used the system were paying for "those people." I explained that legal migrants could get some services, and what kind of services they can receive. I have first hand knowledge of the lives of undocumented migrants from my work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the migrant workers who pick winter vegetables here in Florida. Those illegals are the persons who have no resources or recourse to any help with any problems because any time they would appeal to our government agencies they could be deported if found out.

I was explaining and making comments on what services were available. She missed every point, and misread every explaination because she can't reason that there could be anything other than what she reads in tabloids and watches on CNN and Fox news sound bites. Migrants use the system. Easy to read headlines, no explainations needed. Multi sentence paragraphs, with coherent conclusions seem to be beyond her understanding. It would mean she would have to weigh what was said and then make a decision on her best information.

There is only black or white for her. Only Yes or no, Wrong or right. One absolute truth and one lie. The trouble is the basis of what's right is from her own limited personal experience, of which on this subject she has none. So her experience is assumptions and things that "everyone knows" but she has facts to back up.

She thinks she is educated middle class America, and the problem is she probably is very close to it. If that's what America really is, then no wonder George W. Bush was elected. He can relate in sound bites, not substance.

Monday, May 01, 2006

All Migrants are bad!!

That's what they'd have you believe. Sound to me like the truism "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."

Or can I explain it another way?

Are you eating fresh fruit, drinking orange juice, having lettuce in your salad? Thank a migrant.

Do you have tile roofing material? A tile surround in the kitchen, or patio deck, masonary pots? Probably have to thank a migrant too.

Any ditches dug in your area by hand? Any trees planted? Any law care being done? Laundry services provided? Clean offices? Probably a migrant.

If migrants are so bad why are they working here and contributing to your well being?

If being American is good why are our prisons and jails full of people who don't work,contribute nothing but drain the society of money?

Let's make all the migrants leave. Right, and when will you send your kids out to pick tomatoes or grapes or cabbages? How much time will you spend digging ditches for irrigation or sewer lines? How many offices will you clean?

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