Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Republicans Have Failed Our Trust

30.09.2006 (9:06 pm) – Filed under: Politics ::

One always has to take the NY Times with a grain of salt, but the latest reports that Republican leaders in the House of Representatives knew about an improper relationship between Rep. Mark Foley and an underage male page has the stench of truth about it.

Now that they’ve been found out, Majority Leader John Boehner and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois now say that his resignation is not enough and that it “must now be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system.”

Where was the outrage before?  None of the facts have changed.  But Foley’s seat is gone now, isn’t it, Dennis?

Naturally these are some of the same people who ramrodded the house version of the terror/detainee detention/torture bill through earlier in the week.

Is it any wonder that we don’t trust these guys with our Constitutional rights? 

Hastert and Boehner evidently preferred to keep a pedophiliac in the HoR rather than risk losing their precious majority.  What integrity.  What inspired trustworthiness.

“But you can trust us to look through your phone records, your Internet searches, and listen to your conversations.  You can trust us to only detain and tortute terrorists, not opposition politicians and writers,”  Republicans say.

What crap.  What I want to know is this:  Exactly how much of a stretch is it for the author of a blog like this one to suddenly be classified as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy”?

That depends on who’s doing the stretching.  I can’t believe what’s about to happen – the very thought of voting for a goddamn Democrat makes my balls clutch up – but there’s no use denying what has to be done.  I wasn’t brought up that way, even if Dennis Hastert was.

Illegal Immigration, III

30.09.2006 (7:45 pm) – Filed under: Immigration,Politics ::

Illegal immigration is fueled by the illegals’ desire to find work that pays a decent – this being a relative term, you understand – wage to provide a better life for themselves and their families and American business’ desire to cut costs.  In industries like farming, dairy, etc., illegals’ lower wages can mean the difference between making it and not, given that the competition is doing it, too.  Bothe of these drivers are rational logical responses to the people on both sides of the equation.  So what’s the problem?

Despite what Latino and other ethnic activists would have us believe, illegal immigration is not a victimless crime.  It has real economic and personal costs that most of us don’t really understand.  We only know that our lawn gets cut and the price is right, but as I said, illegal immigration is a crime, according to current law, and it isn’t victimless.

Witness the recent murder of Houston police officer Rodney Johnson at the hands of an illegal immigrant.  Juan Quintero had already been kicked out of the U.S. once but came back, this time with fatal results.  “I got scared,” said a sullen Quintero, who has been charged with capital murder.

Scared?  A foreign national with legal papers certainly wouldn’t have been scared enough to shoot a cop 4 times, I don’t think.  That his immigration status played a part in his actions is undeniable.

Johnson’s murder has put Houston’s “hands off” policy toward illegals in the news.  It always seems to take a tragedy to get politicians to do the right thing; perhaps this will motivate Houston and Harris county to enforce the law.

Not surprisingly, Houston mayor Bill White defends the city’s actions:

White, who disputes the “sanctuary” label, said critics were “disrespecting officers” by claiming that they aren’t doing their jobs. He blames lax border security, and he said officers do cooperate with federal immigration enforcement authorities when they arrest criminals in the country illegally.

By passing the buck, White evidently thinks he can make people forget numerous reports to the contrary over the past few years.  Houston has been a Mecca for illegal immigration in the last decade.  Although some disagree, it’s a known fact, in Moore Dynasty parlance, that Houston police have been told to look the other way.  Not so much in the future, I suspect.

As sickening as it is, the Quintero case is an anomaly.  Nevertheless, he’s the bad apple that’s going to spoil the whole barrel of fun for other illegals by opening some eyes around the country.  It’s happening already as the U.S. Senate today approved a 700 mile fence along the border with Mexico.

Illegals’ political clout that I discussed earlier did not help them win this vote.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not real and that it won’t be used again in the future.  When a similar measure was under debate in California, state senator Gil Cedillo said: “Immigrants are not terrorists; we are workers, and this is why we have the right to live here with dignity and respect.”

Cedillo’s statement is quite telling.  Note the repeated us of the word “we”.  Cedillo is identifying himself with illegals based on ethnicity rather than differentiating himself according to legal status.  Which then takes priority with him?  It’s certainly understandable that a person who shares an ancestory with people have these feelings.  But consider that Cedillo is a state senator.  This is political clout; perhaps not fully realized, but real nonetheless.

As interesting as this line of thinking is, even more important is his use of the phrase “we have the right to live here”.  Do illegals “have the right” to live here?  Not according to the laws of this country.  That is, I think, the key to American’s annoyance at the illegals.  Their presence in our lives is very useful, but it is also illegal.  At the end of the day, all people want is to have the law enforced.  If it’s not going to be enforced, then it should be done away with.  So should the laws be changed?  Perhaps, but at what cost?

Immigrants are an expensive proposition from two important perspectives – health care and education – and the burden they place on these systems must be considered in the debate.  In other words, the true costs (and benefits) must be understood before a proper decision can be made.

Kay Bailey Hutchison is Still Around?

29.09.2006 (7:57 pm) – Filed under: Politics,Texas ::

In fact, she is running for another term as Texas’ senior senator.

Kay Bailey’s running again?  I had no idea her seat was even up for grabs this year.  Seems like I heard her promise that the term that’s ending now would be her last.

I like Kay for one simple reason:  I’ve never known her to do anything wrong while in Washington.  In point of fact, I’ve never known her to do anything at all!  Not that I object; I wish more folks inside the beltway would do the same.

Is there a “Baby Boycott”?

29.09.2006 (2:29 pm) – Filed under: Society ::

David Broussard responds to Stephanie Mencimer’s article.

My 2 cents:

David, your comments are quite inciteful. Americans’ definition of “need” is wildly distorted; very few of us actually need anything. We want any number of things, as you point out.One thing you didn’t mention in your discussion is the increased acceptance of the childless career woman. Last century’s “old maid” is this generation’s poster woman for gender equality.

On one hand this is not necessarily a bad thing. There are women who make damn lousy mothers but could run a business or a classroom far better than I could. If that’s the case, that’s exactly what they should do.

On the other hand, there’s no mystery why working women have fewer children: there aren’t enough hours in the day to do both. Career women simply don’t have the time or energy to properly care for the children they do have, let alone have more.

There’s no need to look under the bed for a conservative agenda – the facts of life explain matters fully.

I recommend this article by Caitlyn Flanagan for further reading.

Illegal Immigration, II

29.09.2006 (11:46 am) – Filed under: Immigration,Politics ::

Yesterday I started a discussion about illegal immigration that left off with the assertion that illegal immigrants do in fact wield a fair bit of poltical clout in the southwest U.S.

From my perspective this influence is not legitimate – the business of electing public servants should be exclusively reserved for citizens, in my opinion.

But illegals do not vote – how do they impact the process?

Call one leg of their undue influence the “homo-ethnic proxy” effect, for lack of a better term.  U.S. residents of ethnic descent often identify with illegals and shield them with their votes, local governmental policies, and activist organizations.  Effectively their position is that illegals have the same name or skin color or geographic background as they do; therefore, the illegals *deserve* the advantages of de facto citizenship that they haven’t yet earned and, in many cases, have no intention of ever earning.

That Hispanics give preference to illegals demonstrates an unfortunate cultural and ethnic bias on their part, a bias that’s strong enough that they consciously devalue the laws of their country and their own citizenship in it.

On a case-by-case basis, this is understandable.  Why shouldn’t Uncle Fred be allowed to stay in the U.S.?  He’s a swell guy, works hard, doesn’t beat his wife, etc.  But there’s a bigger picture to consider and one that I’m not sure gets the attention of ethnic groups.

Or does it?  Immigrant activists have every intention of changing the racial, cultural, and ethnic makeup of this country.  When they weigh into the debate, the good intentions of individuals often get subordinated to the louder, more radical voices.

The second leg that illegal immigrants’ political influence stands on is that of good old American politics.  In the southwest, Mexican-Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.  Presumedly this is because Dems run the party that gives away goodies to lower-income people.  Who’s going to say no to that?  Not too many on the getting side of the equation.

As foolish as their policies often are, the Dems are not stupid people.  They know who is voting for them and they cater to their audience.  The result is that the Dems in immigrant-influenced states support, tacitly and otherwise, illegal immigration through their party’s platform and the actions of their elected officials.  It’s almost impossible to imagine how poorly the Dems would fare at the polls in Texas without the MA vote, but “irrelevant” is the word that immediately comes to mind.

In the southwestern U.S., the immigration issue is exclusively related to illegals who come up from Latin America.  On a national level, there are obviously other nationalities involved.  But these groups are less relevant to the discussion than Hispanics because of the numbers involved.  In a very real sense, Hispanics are the illegal immigration problem in this country.

Does that mean that Hispanics are bad people?  No.  They are just as decent, hard-working, intelligent, and capable as any white boy.  Their relative goodness or badness isn’t, or shouldn’t, be the issue.  Instead there are fundamental, objective principles that should be acted upon.

These are:

  1. Law.  Illegal immigration is “illegal” for a reason.  It’s against public policy and the law should be enforced.
  2. Economics.  The argument that “illegals do the work no one else wants” is false.  No one wants to do the work because the wages are too low due to an increase in the supply of labor.
  3. Cultural integrity.  Illegal immigration creates pools of people who are not interested in, able to, or allowed to integrate into mainstream society.  Legal immigration, on the other hand, fosters integration.

The list is much longer, but I don’t want to spoil tomorrow’s ranting today!  🙂

In the end, what you or I or the illegals *feel* about illegal immigration is irrelevant.  Only what is just and right for the America people matters.  Our government should act accordingly.  If it won’t, we should choose a new one.

Polimom – It’ll be OK (in Bush’s version of 1984)…

29.09.2006 (8:46 am) – Filed under: Politics,Society ::

Polimom, one of my favorite new feeds, say’s it’ll all be OK under the Bush terrorist detainee soon-to-be-law.  Wunderbar!

Illegal Immigration

28.09.2006 (10:42 am) – Filed under: Immigration,Politics ::

Our country’s illegal immigration policies, or lack thereof, are little more than a bad joke.  Our borders are sieves and our ability to track non-permanent foreign nationals is minimal.  Is this what Americans want?

What you believe – or perhaps it is more aptly stated as “what you feel” – about this issue depends largely on who and what you think you are.  Skin color, class, income, place of birth, and even your name play a role in how you view the issue.  But should it?

I’m a white middle-class male who was born in the U.S – that I’m against illegal immigration goes without saying, doesn’t it?  I am, in fact, against it.  But is that all there is for me to say?  Hardly.

For me, discretion may be the better part of valor on this issue.  In truth I’ve avoided it for a long time because I married into a Hispanic family.  Anything I say is bound to offend some or all of my in-laws.  But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.  This conclusion was validated by my mother-in-law a couple of weeks back when she happened to bring the issue up with me.  Happily, her views were lucid, rational, and essentially gave me permission to write this piece.

To begin with, the incredibly popular and incredibly stupid notion that must be addressed is this:  white people, because they constitute the bulk of the oppressing class, have no right to comment on or demand resolution of issues and problems related to race and ethnicity.

First of all, despite our relatively lower birth rates, we honkies make up around 2/3 of this country’s population.  Does this mean that we should check our beliefs at the door and deny ourselves a voice in the debate because of our skin color?

No.  It’s fuzzy, feel-good thinking that leads to that conclusion.  Our obligation is the same as that of minority citizens:  to propose and support logical, far-sighted plan(s) that will yield the best possible long-term outcomes for U.S. citizens.

Note the deliberate re-use of the word “citizen” in the preceding paragraph.  Non-citizens should not have a voice in this or any other debate that takes place on the political stage.

Why?  Because non-citizens are, at the moment at least, best categorized as being “other” than us, by which I mean all Americans.  Foreign nationals have foreign ties and loyalties and have not fully cast their lot in with America; therefore, their rights are inherently fewer than ours in the political arena.  Does that seem right?  I think it does.

Unfortunately, illegal immigrants do, in fact, have a substantial voice in the illegal immigration debate.

How this possible given that they cannot vote is the topic of another post.

For now, consider:  Is this the way you want things to be?  We have an election coming up in 5 weeks – act accordingly.

The Nature of the Islamic Enemy

25.09.2006 (10:20 pm) – Filed under: Iraq,Islam ::

Who are our troops fighting in Iraq?  Men who are little more than rabid dogs, judging from their recent “activities”.

As I’ve said before and as David B. stated in a comment last week, the issue isn’t whether how this scum should be dealt with – there is only one way – it’s the fact that the common Iraqi isn’t sure who he hates more, us or them.  Until that changes, our progress in Iraq will be limited.

The one thing in our favor is that the killers’ disgusting acts reveal their nature – to those that care to think.  One would assume that would tend to weigh the scales of Iraqi judgment in our favor.  But they could just as equally blame the U.S. for the whole mess.

The Houston Chronicle ran a letter from an Iraqi citizen in its Sunday Outlook section (sadly this doesn’t seem to be available for reference on-line) that was quite revealing.  In essence, his view was that he wasn’t going to get between the U.S. and the terrorists – this was America’s battle, not his.  To the extent that his view predominates, we’re fighting uphill.

Ideas: Disagree and Die

23.09.2006 (8:25 am) – Filed under: Immigration,Iraq,Islam,Politics,Society ::

What is it about people and their ideas that makes rejection so impossible to accept? We can’t touch an idea, hold it in our hands, or kiss it goodnight. What is so important that they are worth killing for?

It seems to me that there’s a fundamental failure in people’s thought processes that stems from not understanding how to think. For instance, if I were a Chinese person indoctrinated in the ways of Maoist Communism and I round a corner to be confronted with the sight of some foreign kids putting up a life-size placard of Mao wearing nothing but a yellow polka dot bikini and a painted-on curly-Q mustache, should I immediately:

  • A) Pull out my pistol and kill them where they stand
  • B) Laugh out loud and take a picture
  • C) Shake my head in disgust and walk away
  • D) Declare war on the punks’ nation, vow to burn to to the ground, and begin to organize murderous cells to infiltrate their country and create chaos

Actually, this is a trick question. The answer is “None of the above”. I shouldn’t do anything “immediately”. Instead I should reflect on the significance of what I’m seeing by:

  • Measuring the depth of my personal “injury”. How did this hurt me directly?
  • Estimate its direct effect on my way of life. How will this hurt my family, God, country, employer, etc.?
  • Consider the indirect effect of repressing the offensive action. Would life be improved, in the long run, by disallowing this act? What about the next thing that bothers me? And the next?

Most of the time we don’t make it past the first of these, let alone all the way to considering the bigger picture. And there are people who would find a poster of Mao in a G-string so enraging that they’d gun down a little old lady for pasting it on the side of a building or publishing it in a newspaper. While there may be valid aesthetic reasons for wanting to repress pictures of The Chairman’s corpulent girth, none are sufficient to require a violent response. A reasonable analysis of this situation should indicate that either B or C above could be valid given that my personal injury is slight or non-existent, that the poster is unlikely to result in the overthrow of the Communists in Beijing, and, most importantly, that repressing free expression in this case is one step down a slippery slope toward Papa Joe Stalin and his purges.

The fact that we don’t do this sort of analysis as often as we should implies a problem with our education. In other words, if people were taught how to think, as opposed what to think, it seems as though we would all make better decisions, achieve better outcomes, and live in a better world.

That said, even if we follow a logical, measured approach to decision-making, we can still get into trouble if we apply an incorrect value system during our analysis, no matter how faultless our logic. In fact it’s during the formation of our value systems that we’re most vulnerable to external influences. Because our values are largely impressed on us by outsiders during the first years of life, our individual definitions of right and wrong take on elements of our educators’, for better or worse.

Consider the case of a young girl raised soley by Anna Nicole Smith. Because environment has such a strong influence on young people, it’s quite likely that this girl would grow to adulthood believing that it’s OK to sleep with old rich men for money and to parade around on TV, fat and naked, cursing and smoking as she waddles into a hottub full of tatooed freaks waiting to get it on with her.

Applying this thankfully imaginary girl’s value system to a given scenario is going to yield a different result than that of most people. That’s a good thing, but illustrative of the point. As we’ve seen in recent years, there are far worse value systems in the world than ANS’, hard as it is to believe at times.

Yet, my value system is simply a thought pattern like any other. It can be examined, questioned, and changed if its found to be in error. It can be, if I know how to think for myself. Sadly, generating this ability is not the strong suit in American education, let alone that of the Middle East. But it should be a primary outcome of the educational process.

Let’s assume that a person – say, for argument’s sake, a backwards southerner active in the KKK – is able to turn the looking glass of analysis on his value system. How can Billy Bob establish the validity of those values? Against what should they be measured? And who should do the measuring?

Billy, our imaginary redneck, hates black people, and he has ever since his daddy gave him the “porch monkey” talk twenty years before. But he’s summoned the moral fiber to question that belief. One way he could evaluate that principle is against current public opinion. If 60% of Americans believe interracial marriage is OK, is that sufficient evidence of his error? What about 90%?

Another way would be to fall back on the law. Legal acts are generally sanctioned by Billy Bob’s peers, so the law can act as a guideline of sorts. But laws are transitory and subject to governmental whimsy and general porkbarrel politics. They can’t always be relied on to create justice and Billy, like almost all of us, knows that.

The precursor of law is the rules the country is based on. In America, that’s the Constitution, its amendments, and, behind these principles, the Bible. Where things can get ticklish in using these tools is that Billy has to understand what he’s reading to make use of them. To do this he will often rely on other folks from town to help him understand what is meant by the words on the page. The problem here is obvious: whoever helps Billy read the Good Book is inevitably going to put his/her emphasis and interpretation on the words. This can be good or bad but reduces Billy’s individual judgment in either case.

A real teacher shows us how to think and tells us as little as possible about what to think. Only by following this principle can Billy come to understand what he reads for himself and , eventually, after sufficient understanding is gained, remove his teachers’ bias from what he’s been told.

Just for fun, let’s apply this principle to events in the Middle East. Governments there are often dominated by religious figures who are looked up to as leaders, prophets, and teachers. But unlike real teachers, their objective is often to tell their disciples exactly what to think. Dissent is ill-advised as their divine spirituality is complimented by the all-to-earthly steel of the sword; disagreement often leads Hassan, Billy’s Middle Eastern analogue, to the grave.

So how can Hassan, an Iranian boy, come to understand his own understanding of the world and actively change his perspective on things he comes to realize are incorrect? For many men and women like him, this change may not be as hard as we think. Humans are questioners, it’s what we do. As more and more information makes its way into Hassan’s hands, he’ll automatically question the things he’s doing and the things the leaders of his country are doing. He will come to want to be able to ask these questions out loud and to hear what his friends’ questions are. He’ll come to want to provide his own answers, too.

Suppose, however, that Hassan’s tough, thoughtful self-analysis leads him to the conclusion that the American occupation of Iraq must be repeled at all cost to himself? That his firends, cousins, and neighbors must be organized in rebellion and take to the streets, guns in hand, to hurl the invaders from Islamic soil? Is there anything inherently wrong with this belief? Perhaps.

Hassan’s values are only less valid than mine to the extent that they involve the death and destruction of those he disagrees with. If he is offended by America’s presence in Iraq, rallies his forces, and ousts the pro-American government via the Constitutional process, then his actions are valid. If he leaves Iraq to live in Iran and lives a peaceful life there, that is valid as well. From an ethical perspective, if Hassan is willing to live peacefully with his neighbors, his dislike of them is acceptable; if not, he should move into a situation in which he can find people of like mind and live in relative harmony with them.

In this, nation-states and their borders, immigration rules, and political leadership are often a hindrance. Using Hassan and his Islamic faith as an example, his people should have a place to go where they can live among those like themselves and, should they desire it, minimize or even cut themselves off from western influence. His right to ignore us cannot be denied, can it? This is obvious, yet here again nation-states create a barrier between what is and what should be.

This is because nations have a perverse sort of institutional pride that keeps them, like our local fools who parade around with the KKK, from examining situations objectively and acting in the interests of the people involved. We can see that in Iraq/Turkey in regards to the Kurds. Why should these people not have a united region or nation to call their own? They should, and would, but for the hubris of the governments involved.

It comes down to pride, in the end. The pride of Turkey won’t allow it to give up the territory the Kurds live in – their borders mean too much to them. Think of the Basques in Spain and our own Civil War as well. Is it necessary to force outside government on unwilling people? Isn’t the purpose of government to gather like-minded people in a common defense? But governments, once created, take on a life of their own. They forget the purpose for their formation, the source of their power, and imagine that their ideas are the only valid ones.

Similarly, America’s battle with Islam isn’t about religion, it’s about thoughts and which ones should be allowed to exist. Theirs is a narrow view, ours more expansive. Man’s curious, questioning nature will inevitably prefer our point of view and, in time, most will come to adopt it. But those who don’t should still have a place of their own that’s outside of our influence.

Cool Pic of Japanese Satellite

23.09.2006 (6:54 am) – Filed under: Science ::

Science rocks!  Picture and article about the new satellite designed to investigate solar flares.

But why is it a Japanese venture?  Why aren’t we doing that?