Thursday, June 28, 2007

"I'll Have the Taco Bell, but Without the Hispanics, Please... That's an American Job..."


Illegal immigration...

It seems all anyone can talk about these days, and everyone has a decidedly strong opinion about it, both the native-born, the legal immigrants, and the illegals themselves, of course. A dear friend of mine recently sent around an email which, to nutshell it, said "email your senators to stop amnesty for the illegals--if you disagree with this position, just delete this email."

Of course, most people who know me know that the way to get me to share an opinion is to tell me not to share an opinion...

Not to worry, my friend and I disagree on much, and like everything else in our lives, we will agree to disagree and remain good friends...

I don't know if most Americans can agree to disagree, though...

Recently, while perusing some of the hot sites where the left- and right-wing bash it out, a commenter had this to say in regards to the illegal immigration debate:

In other news, 86% of foxes claimed that tightening security at the hen house was "anti-fox" and "troubling," and called on Farmer Bob to consider the dietary needs of the fox community.
Cute, I'll admit it. But what is it communicating? That we, as the all-American Farmer Bob's, feel that something precious is being taken from us by the foxes, or illegal immigrants, as the case may be. We feel that we are being taken advantage of, stolen from, robbed of something quintessentially reserved for us, the Americans. We, who have had the luxury of being born here, and even those whom we have conferred "legal" status upon, are being victimized by the illegal immigrants who haven't had the insane luck-of-the-draw, whether by nature's whim or our government's...

And we want to protect it.

Of course, we must begin by asking, "What is being robbed? What is being taken away from the legal residents?" What is it that we, as Americans, must protect against the illegals? A great deal of the arguments put forth sound something like this email I received--so we will deal with this email point-by-point until we get to the root of what is causing this tremendous strain on the current American psyche.

Many Americans are outraged by the idea of rewarding criminals by allowing them to keep what they took. While hundreds of thousands of people around the world patiently await permission to come to this country, or go home when their visas expire, illegals decided the rules didn't apply to them. Allowing them to become permanent residents violates our sense of fair play almost as much as it violates our laws. We're assured that they will be at the "back of the line" for citizenship... but that line is supposed to form on the other side of the border.
Okay, so we're starting off with a sense of "fairness," a sense of "This is how it works, and it is inherently fair, but you broke through the line, breaking the rules." Which, of course, means we need to take a look at the current policy for getting into our country and becoming a citizen: Is it really fair? Current law in a nutshell is thus:

Many legal permanent residents (green card holders) are currently living in the United States, separated from their spouses and children. They are waiting for their I-130 petitions (immigration application for spouse and minor children) to be approved. Statutory numerical limitations on available visas, coupled with immigration backlogs and bureaucratic delays, causes waiting times of 5 years or more. During this long wait, the foreign resident spouse and young children are not allowed to enter the United States, even for a brief visit. The permanent residents, on the other hand, must reside predominantly in the United States and thus the web of US immigration laws ruthlessly separates married couples from each other and from young children. (Source.)
So we must ask ourselves--is it inherently fair to make married couples separate for years on end simply to get into the country legally? I think most of us would agree that this system is broken, and needs to be fixed. Does this mean it should be okay to enter illegally? Perhaps not, but if it were you, would you want to live apart from your spouse and children for upwards of five years all the while wondering if it would even come through? To get that close to living the so-called American dream only to find out--five years later--that the system has lost your paperwork, denied your form, or simply already met their quote for Argentine's or Romanian's? I don't think so. Of course, the current bill (which the Senate has refused to pass again) would go along way toward fixing these issues in the waiting lines for legal access, but no one seems to want to talk about that little tidbit. But we're moving on to the next portion of the email.

We're unhappy about rewarding criminal behavior.
I suppose that's a fair assumption. I mean, who wants to reward a criminal? But what is this reward? Well, ultimately, that nice catchy phrase "a path to citizenship" comes to mind, but it's not an immediate citizenship that's being offered, and no one should mistake that it is in any way an "amnesty" of any kind. The illegal immigrants would have to:

Illegal Workers Already Here Must Come Forward And Pay A Fine. In order to obtain a Z visa granting temporary legal status, workers in the country before January 1, 2007, must come forward, pay a $1,000 fine, pass criminal background checks, remain employed, and maintain a clean record.

Z Visa Workers Must Pay An Additional Fine, Learn English, And Meet Other Requirements To Apply For A Green Card, And Cannot Receive One Until Years In The Future. Z visa workers must apply at the back of the line and wait until the current backlog is cleared, pay an additional $4,000 fine, complete accelerated English and civics requirements, maintain employment, leave the U.S. to file their application, and compete in the merit system based on the skills and attributes they will bring to the United States.

Satisfying The Requirements In The Bill Will Take Most Green Card Applicants More Than A Decade.

The bill declares that English is the national language of the United States and calls on the United States Government to preserve and enhance it. (As a side note of my own, you would think conservatives would be all about this bill for this provision alone!) It also enacts accelerated English requirements for many immigrants. In addition, the DHS Office of Citizenship will be expanded to include coordinating assimilation efforts in its mission, and the Secretary of Education will make an English instruction program available for free over the Internet.
So how many of you have almost $6,000 sitting around and about 10 years of patience? But we'll call it amnesty, yeah, why not? I know if it were me, I'd still have no chance of becoming legal! How many of us live paycheck-to-paycheck, just trying to make ends meet? Now think of someone here illegally--how in the hell are they supposed to have saved up all that money? Most of them are paid less than minimum wage, seasonally out west, and have an even harder time making ends meet due to their illegal status. They cannot use most social services for fear of being "outed" as illegal, hide in the shadows and hope that this country--the supposed country of opportunity that is as we speak decrying them as evil un-American money-grubbers--will provide their children with a better life than the country they left behind, which had no employment opportunities, towns and cities run by drug lords with permission of the corrupt government, no food or decent water, and no hope of education, work, or a better life... But, yes, expecting them to pay the fines which will enforce the border, expecting them to go home and wait in line behind everyone else already in line, and giving them a chance to grab the dream so many of us have by default--that's amnesty, right, yeah...

But even if we did say, "You know what? That's a small price to pay, it still falls under amnesty." So what? As Ted Kennedy is fond of saying, what are the alternatives? If you seriously believe rounding them all up and shipping them out is a good idea, you're certainly dumber than the tons of crops a lot of illegals pick for us to eat at dinner every day. Not only that, but granting them citizenship will mean they get health benefits, a decent wage for their labor, and contribute even more to our economy, our livelihoods, our culture--which, dare I remind everyone, is nothing more than an amalgamation of several fused together in what was once referred to as "the melting pot" of the world... God forbid we add some salsa to the mix, eh?

Regardless of how you feel, let's continue with the email--as always, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below...

We're told that these illegals should be honored because they wanted to become Americans so badly that many of them risked death to come here. (We'll just ignore the fact that money was probably the real motivation for most of them.)
I think it is noble that one should so badly want to work for a living and provide for their families that they would risk death to achieve a glimmer of that hope! And so what if "money" is the motivation? When was the last time you fed your family with pretty-colored rocks? The money isn't the goal--the providing for yourself and family is, and money is the vehicle that makes that happen. And where's the money? Yes, in America. What do we expect people to do when we brag about how awesome it is here, yet make people wait upwards of five years APART from their families with a system that's not only broken, but underfunded and under-enforced? If it meant feeding my family, having health care for my family, a JOB, I'd sneak across the border myself!

But, back to the email:

But becoming American must include showing some regard for American sovereignty, and American laws. Those who deliberately crossed our borders illegally or overstayed their visas did not show that respect.
I think this snippet of an article from TIME magazine speaks about this "argument" best:

Google "this is a nation of laws," and you'll find a thousand online Cassandras warning that our failure to prosecute illegals is an invitation to anarchy. They are right about the U.S. being a nation of laws. But our legal system is not a house of cards, one flick away from collapse. U.S. jurisprudence has in fact always been a series of hedged bets, weighing the potential harm of a violation against the costs of enforcement. That's why people get arrested for assault but not for jaywalking. It's time to think seriously about exactly where the act of illegal immigration lies in the spectrum of criminality. Consider the complicity of U.S. employers ranging from multinational corporations to suburbanites looking for gardeners. Factor in the mixed signals that lax law enforcement sent to would-be immigrants throughout the '80s and '90s, and the crime should rank as a misdemeanor, not a felony. Even if we step up border enforcement in the future — as we should — it is true that for a long time, crossing the Rio Grande was akin more to jaywalking than breaking and entering.

Sure, there is a very real national-security threat in having a porous border. But a large — if unquantifiable — percentage of the people crossing that line illegally are not newcomers but rather people who have already established lives in the U.S. and would qualify for amnesty. If they were legalized and free to circulate, we could concentrate on the serious criminals and terrorists crossing the border, not a worker going back to his family.

In Beardstown, amnesty would also help authorities tackle crime. Right now, they spend a lot of their energy sorting out who is who in the community because illegals present local police with a bewildering maze of identities. The illegals of Beardstown work under one name and go to church under another. Parents give their kindergartners fake names to use in school. "We are absolutely unable to identify our own people," says Walters. It sounds counter intuitive, but with immigration, forgiving a crime may be the best way to restore law and order. (Source.)
So... have you jay-walked lately? Went over the speed limit? Rolled through a stop sign? You have NO RESPECT for American law and must be DEPORTED! (See how silly that sounds?) Perhaps comparing illegal immigration to jay-walking is a bit of a stretch, but it isn't much of one--most Americans have more stretch in their boxers than the argument itself. Many people break our "sovereign" laws every day--some pay a price, some get a warning, others--well, the courts just say, "You made a mistake, move on," and some don't get caught at all... Has our country fallen yet? No? Hmm... Much like gay marriage hasn't ruined straight marriages around the globe, let alone in Massachusetts, granting citizenship to the millions of illegals here won't ruin the country, the American dream, or your pretty lawns...

Back to the email:

Many ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS falsify records and documents on a daily basis, supply false Social Security numbers to employers, and lie to obtain drivers' licenses, credit cards and other documents.
All of which means what? That they are paying into social security, medicare, medicaid, and a host of other social programs. And most of them will never even get a chance to use any of the services they've paid into--because of their illegal status. You may be thinking, "Serves them right," but to me, that's more un-American than someone wanting to come in to work and provide for their family when unable to do so back home... Yes, they get false ID's so they can continue to work. Part of those fines we mentioned earlier will go toward improving the ID system, the border, and the underground identity-theft rings which in part enslave and promote more illegal alien activity...

You also might be interested in a little law passed back in '96 called "IIRAIRA"; it restricts the receipt of most public benefits by all undocumented immigrants as well as many classes of LEGAL immigrants. It's my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, that local services are usually paid for out of property tax, sales tax, and income tax. It's my understanding that these types of taxes get paid for by consumers of housing, clothing, food, services, etc. (i.e. people who spend money in the local economy). Kind of hard to avoid those taxes when you have to live, eat, and work at the ol' job site, eh? So I think that working immigrants contribute their fair share for those services as well.

It really all comes down to what's being debated all over the place--"we don't like those strange, short, dark, hairy people who have a million kids, put their last names on their windshields, drive Cutlass Sierras with ugly chrome wheels, playing loud silly music at all hours of the day. They are offensive to our perceived way of life and our perceived notion of what America should be."

Read the fine print ladies and gents, the contract with America didn't say that only Anglo-Saxon, Protestants were welcome, nor did it say that only the native born could get a job at Burger King. It said you are free to make a living. That's what the people who are already here want to do, so let 'em do it already.


Moreover, those hundreds of thousands who marched protesting law enforcement waving Mexican flags and holding signs saying "This is our continent not yours" didn't appear to want to become Americans, did they? Why should we reward them for that?
And me waving an Irish flag and a button saying "Kiss Me--I'm Irish" certainly doesn't make me seem more American, does it? So they're proud of their heritage and are rightfully asserting that they were here first--so what? Are you that fearful that California is about to revert to Mexico? Get a reality check, people. California is ours. Sure, I wouldn't call it the best PR move on the part of the protesters, and yes--the whole "we were here first" argument is a moot point... Are you really arguing that they cannot become citizens because of waving a flag that represents their heritage? Maybe I'm not reading enough into it, but maybe you all are reading too much...


We don't like the idea of creating a huge permanent underclass of low-level workers, either.
Finally! Something I can agree with! The guest-worker program will create a second-class status of employees, one that isn't fair, isn't right, and isn't in the best interests of anyone. That's why we made laws to protect workers--to prevent abuse by corporations and companies that worship the almighty dollar more than human life... And I was so happy to read about this tidbit with which I agreed that I almost missed the reasoning after it:

Once granted legal status, all those people doing "jobs Americans won't do" won't want to do them either -- not at the low wages they're currently paid. They'll want better jobs, with better pay. Prices for agricultural products and construction will rise as employers are forced to pay minimum wage, but that's not the worst effect of a mass legalisation. Competition for available jobs in other areas will rise sharply. Competition for many blue-collar jobs will force wages to dip towards minimum wage level, creating a sharper division between blue-collar and white-collar workers, or lower class and middle class. Unemployment and entitlements will rise, and taxes will follow.
So... wait... Now we shouldn't make them legal because they'll get treated respectably? That they'll also be able to have a voice, and speak against an abusive system which mistreats them? Excuse me?? And who was just bitching about the "monetary" motivation of the illegal immigrants? So our taxes may go up--I don't see how that logic works when we've just added all these new tax-payers to the system. And this competition for the blue-collar jobs won't last--you've just said yourself that the new legal workers will demand better pay, better working conditions, better benefits... So how is this bad for blue-collar workers everywhere? The fact is, companies will have to pony up--and yes, some will end up going out of business. Fair markets have a way of shutting down those who can't compete... And if businesses can no longer abuse employees because they can't claim legal status, companies will have to pay more or suffer a shortage of willing legal workers... For once, it would be nice to get one of these forwards that didn't have the blatant hypocrisy and double-talk...


Class warfare and envy politics fueled by racial divisions -- the staples of Democratic campaigns -- will escalate, granting the Democrats a huge vote windfall for many years to come.
Does anyone see a politicizing tone entering here? No why, why, why does something tell me a right-winger started this moronic email? Hmm.... Let me see... First, the illegals are nasty workers who take advantage of our system by not playing fair... Then they steal your job, until they become legal, and then they still take your jobs, demand fair treatment, and depress your wages because now they are paid more due to their legal status... And now, it allows the evil Democrats a "windfall" victory... The logic is truly mind-boggling...


The fact that so many Republicans (including the President himself) are willing to sign the death warrant of their own party is amazing.
Many people are unhappy about this bill because of the way members of Congress and the President tried to shove it through the Senate quickly, without time for the bill to be amended before debate.
And now we stoop to outright lies... How long has this been languishing, over-ammended, and over-discussed? Too long, which has allowed people to try to take the teeth out of the bill, try to add "punishment" to the bill for the illegals, try to stall actually doing something all to protect the poor Americans just trying to eat their Taco Bell in peace... Please...


The Bill was introduced on Thursday 17 May, and a vote to open debate on the final version was scheduled for Monday 21 June.
Oh my god, a whole month!! Perish the thought!! This just speaks of the ignorance so many people have about how this country works...

Email: Blah, blah, blah, skippin the lies... Ah, back to something approaching a modest argument:

Thanks to Liberal "multiculturalism," many of those people will never integrate into American society. It's like a home invasion on a massive scale, while the government's response is to tell us we just have to live with our new housemates.
Yes, blame the liberals... Don't get me wrong--this whole "multiculturalism" thing has it's failings, but mostly through poor follow-through, not in the general idea in and of itself... But are we really trying to say that trying to appreciate diversity is a reason to deport or reject citizenship for people who, and here's the clincher, come to America and find a way to become citizens? Is "multiculturalism" really to blame for people wanting to come here to work and provide for their families? If you can't see how much of a lame-duck this argument is, you need more help than I could give you.

And, here's another clue: Most of the immigrants, legal or not, assimilate just fine. Like all of the other of millions of immigrants that have come here to live in freedom and prosperity, the first generation has the most difficult time. The children are usually bilingual, and by the time the grandchildren and great grandchildren come along, they can't understand their grandparents' native language--but they can tell you who's on the Top 40, the next movie that's coming out that they're dying to see, and are thinking about all things most dinstinctly American--what they want to be when they grow up, and how best to achieve that dream. Immigrants aren't stupid--they know the way to succeed in America is to learn the language. The issue here isn't whether or not they'll assimilate--it's how long we're willing to wait. The influx is massive right now--many of the immigrants we see are first and second-generation, and therefore scare us with their foreign talk, their foreign diets, their foreign customs, their foreign whatever. And we all know how much people hate change; so the Americans say they should assimilate faster in our on-demand economy, and the immigrants find comfort in their traditions and customs from home as they wade through this new land of new and wonderful opportunities not available at home... They will assimilate, just not as fast as Apple can come out with a new I-dohicky...


And the border fence that was mandated in the Secure Fence Act of 2006 is still not built, which means that in another decade or so, we'll have to go through all of this again.
Part of the bill necessitates that the border be secure before the Z visa program takes effect, as well as the fact that all the fines we'll be making them pay as retribution go toward finding new technologies and hiring more border security to keep the border secure. I think it should also be mentioned at this point that there will always be a number of "illegals" in the country--where there's a will, there's a way, you know. And the day we stop having immigrants wanting to be here--there'll be more to worry about than our precious border...


Before we decide what to do about the estimated 12-20 million illegal immigrants in this country, we have got to ensure that it's the last time we have to deal with the problem.
Keep dreaming...


Back in 1986, we were told that we would have real border security, in exchange for a one-time amnesty. Well, the politicians got their one-time amnesty. Now, we want our security.
Funny... 1986, 1986... Who was president then? Oh, that's rght, the I-can-do-know-wrong, he's-our-god Reagan... One wonders why you never hear about this little "issue" when all the Republican nominees are raising their hands, saying how we need to get back to our "Reagan" values and teach ID in our schools...

"Securing the border," as quasi-safe-sounding as that may seem, won't stop a terrorist from blowing up what he wants to blow up. Does that mean we shouldn't try? Not necessarily, but beefing up security only does so much, only goes so far. Building a wall will not only NOT secure the country, but make you feel more vulnerable when you realize that walls can be knocked down. Then what's next? The computer chips implanted in your brain so nanny government can make you feel "secure" by knowing where everyone is, all the time? You want security? Build yourself a bomb shelter. You want freedom? Deal with the others who want the same thing. You can't have your cake and eat it, too.

What we need to keep in mind is that 99% of the human beings that are coing across our borders want nothing more than an opportuinty to work, provide for the families, and make a better life for themselves. They don't come across the border thinking, "I'll get them all to speak Spanish! You'll see, Paco!" You all act like getting a job is some kind of free lunch program--it's a job and a better life they seek, the same things that Americans seem to want to hoard and prevent others from having. Why do Americans feel that the "American lifestyle" is their exclusive province, and that not everyone should have the opportunity to work and prosper? Why do certain Americans feel that they own so-called "American" jobs? Isn't this the same sense of entitlement that everyone blames these immigrants of having?

Somewhere along the way, we stopped saying "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore; Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" and started saying, "Wait! I mean, there won't be enough freedom to go around! Send us only your educated, your rocket scientists, and nobody who looks Middle Eastern!" The land of the free is becoming the "land of the elite," and not because of our high ideals...

It's a pretty simple choice really. Work moving bricks around a construction site in Tijuana and get paid $2 a day or do the same work in San Diego for $8 an hour. You tell me which life you want to pick for yourself. 8 bucks a day and social activism on the side to improve the nation? 60 bucks a day and the American apolitical lifestyle with cable TV at night? Tough call, truly...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Misc Posting...

Online Dating

If blogs had ratings, this is how mine stacks up...


But then I also found out from a friend that NC-17 means no one under 17, even if they are accompanied by an adult... Talk about your nanny government... I thought fundies were suppose to be against that sort of thing?
Also, I've been tagged by Journey Woman, so here goes:

8 Things About Myself...

Rules: Each person posts these rules before their list, then they list 8 things about themselves. At the end of the post, that person tags and links to 8 other people; then visits those people’s sites and comments, letting them know that they have been tagged, and to come read the post, so they know what they have to do.

  1. My legs are sore from building a rock wall for the past few weekends in my yard.
  2. I hate going to the gym and being surrounded by all those naked people in the showers--why has a gym yet to invent PRIVATE showers?
  3. I say my favorite color is blue, but when decorating I tend to lean toward red hues.
  4. I do not like having ice cubes in my drink, I don't care how freakin' hot it is.
  5. I love laying in bed and staring out in the yard at night, watching the lightning bugs make the trees twinkle late into the evening.
  6. There's is nothing better on this earth than my mom's Jewish Apple Cake (and we're not Jewish!)
  7. My car needs new brakes and tires.
  8. We're going on our first ever vacation (READ: Somewhere tropical...) next spring. I actually need a Passport--I'm very excited!!

Since I'm assuming there are no tag-backs, I now tag Kelly, Sylvia, Dar, Matt, and the four wonderful authors of God V. Darwon.

Have fun, guys!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A "Culture of Life"?

I have a brown spot in my lawn. It's about eight feet by three feet, and every year I stare at it and think, "I should do something about that." But then the car breaks down, weeds spring up around the rose bushes, Hawthorne takes my thoughtful silences to steal away and visit his girlfriend three doors down... you know, something always comes up.

So we're sitting there on the deck, staring at the brown spot. As I see it, I have three option. I can:
  1. Option One: Dig out the dirt, put in new topsoil, and plant grass seed;
  2. Option Two: Turn over the dirt, buy some grass seed, and water it faithfully, or
  3. Option Three: I can ignore it for another year.
All are valid options. While Option One has the most potential, it also costs the most: new dirt, new grass seed, and the time spent removing the old dirt. Option Two is cheaper, but knowing the history of that area of the yard, isn't the most prudent course. It may yield some results, some patchy bits of green islands in the lake of dirt. And Option Three is simply asking for more dandelions to create their own islands, ultimately leaving the yard an eye sore and, in all fairness to the dandelions which attempt to grow there every year, still a deathtrap to life.

I could also try to do all three--do Option One in the most visible portions, Option Two for the areas which are barely visible by the garage, and leave the back which almost no one sees to the dandelions' death wishes (i.e., Option Three...). Of course, I'll end up with a mishmash of results, and I think everyone would agree that this isn't the most prudent course unless all three have the same odds of succeeding, and we're just trying to see which would be most economically feasible. But we know they don't. We've been there, done that, especially with the "ignore it and see what happens" approach...
President Bush, in all his religious pomposity, has decided on Option Three when it comes to trying to find cures for the world's most deadly human afflictions: Use the stem cell lines that already exist, that are frail, tainted, and mostly useless. He then threw in a bit of Option Two: Look for stem cells elsewhere (which we've been doing for almost twenty years now) which he falsely claims will be just as effective in yielding cures, all in the name of protecting Option One, which is some sort of "moral line" which should not be crossed. And while one could interpret ripping the seeds from grass to take and use to promote grass in other portions of the yard (or world, if you will) could be seen as some sort of "moral taboo" which will harm the original grassy area from which the seeds have been taken from, for the benefit of the areas which aren't doing well, I think we all realize how silly the argument is, especially when one considers that the grass from which the seeds have been taken are slated for termination and destruction.

Apparently, taking the unused frozen embryos that many an infertile couple have stored away and no longer desire (which are to be destroyed) and using those stem cells to hopefully aid, cure, and treat people who are alive and very much desired by their fellow families and friends is somehow a "destruction" of life...

As, you know, it wouldn't be protecting life if unwanted potential life was used to help other lives...

Yes, Option Two and Three may have some results. But scientists the world over have been there, done that, found out some things, and will continue to look into those areas. But Option One has been proven by far to have the best potential, and Options Two and Three have only verified that fact. And to create a false argument of "protecting life" by not allowing eggs that will be destroyed from maybe providing hope and life to others isn't about protecting life at all; it's about protecting a failing ideology...

Some people find Option One hard on principle alone: If we allow unwanted frozen embryos to be destroyed, what's next? Wanted embryos? The state creating potential life just to destroy it? The "slippery slope" argument is a favorite tool of conservatives in the hopes of preventing progress and bringing back the 1950s, when women were women, blacks were unequal, gays stayed in the closet, and teen pregnancies were handled in a back alley or by a ten-month visit to an aunt in a far away place. It's amazing sky god hasn't destroyed America yet, what with all the very anti-fundamental, supposedly anti-Christian progress we've made since 1950. (One also wonders why sky god hasn't sent a hurricane to Massachusetts yet to flood the heathen state of "false" marriage...)

But the slippery slope is also a fallacy based on faulty premises: that mankind hates life, when in fact the opposite is true: Man so desires to live prosperous lives, healthy lives, that unwanted life with no chance of being wanted (i.e., the eggs that are to be destroyed) are wanted to preserve life when the potential life they were to be used for no longer exists. Keeping eggs from being utilized that are to be destroyed anyway isn't promoting a culture of life any more than keeping a moldy piece of bread in the fridge for the potential nutrition the bread could have provided back in the day when the bread was first baked.

But I suppose we'll keep watching the dandelions try and die before we remove the barren dirt, bring in the top soil, and plant fresh grass. Anything else would be a promotion of "the culture of death," wouldn't it?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Need a Meaning? Stroke an Ego...

Time magazine recently did an article on the obesity "crisis" in America. Yes, the growing waistline of the average American is something that needs to be talked about, looked into, and ultimately curbed if Americans themselves wish to live longer, healthier lives. I'm all for educating people about good food versus bad food versus whatever when it comes to living a long, healthy life.

But that's not truly what this post is about: It's about the fact that when I received this week's issue of Time, the "Inbox," or the "letters to the editor" section, it stated that 13 percent of the mail Time received in response to this article went along these lines:

"If the emptiness of the heart is not filled with the right substance, it will fixate on poorer substitutes. When God is missing, our appetites can be infinite and create troubled relationships with substances meant to fulfill biological, not spiritual, needs. In other words, we will all have addictions.
--Otilia E. Husu, Peoria, Arizona
That's right--a staggering 13 percent of Time letters to the editor about the obesity article blamed not having "Jesus" as the reason for the growing obesity in America...

And, you rightfully ask, this correlates how?

How indeed: it seems that some people are under the delusion that everyone is searching for a "meaning" in life, a reason for existing, a purpose for getting up in the morning, and, further, that Americans are looking to cheeseburgers and french fries as a substitute for god... (as if the casseroles in the fellowship hall have nothing to do with it; God removes the fat from food in church, after all...). In fact, many a religious person will "appeal" and "implore" to that supposed void as a proof of the need for sky god and company. Not only will a simple Internet search for "meaning in life" produce an obnoxious amount of "Jesus loves" sights in an attempt to "win your soul," all of them repeat the mistake of assuming that, just because they've filled whatever perceived "void" they thought they had, this same snake oil will work for you as well! (Of course, this is very counter-intuitive to the fact that America is becoming increasingly secular--proof that religion doesn't provide all the answers, or no one would ever leave...)

Maybe it's just me. Although I love to read and increase my knowledge of the world around me, I don't have a "hole" I feel that is unfilled, or even the need to search for an overarching "purpose" or "meaning" to the fact that I exist; I simply happy to be alive! This could mean one of two things. Either:
  1. I've reached the peak of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, or
  2. one doesn't need a deity to be content with the life one has.

Recently, someone named "billy" left a link to take part in a quiz, the "good person test," in which the test tells you how rotten you are, what a failure you are as a human being according to the 2000+ year old Hebrew text called the "bible," and ultimately leaves you no choice but to click on a link that says, "You're right, I guess I would deserve hell." (Of course, the other option is just to stop taking the silly quiz, which I opted for; of course, this falls under the fundie category of "you can't handle the truth," I'm sure...) All of this to say at the end, you need Jesus...

Because, according to billy, I assume, you can't be a good person without him... Of course, we then have to ask, what makes a good person? If you subscribe to the conventional wisdom of the Christian ideology, your ultimate purpose and meaning of life, and a way to become a "good person," is to worship sky god.

Let that sink in: your sole purpose and apparently the entire reason we've been "created" is to praise and satisfy the ego of the supposedly great being that couldn't even keep a snake (a walking, talking snake) from ruining the veritable "paradise" the garden of Eden was supposed to be...

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a little non-plussed.

And even better, this perfect little get-away-from-hell vacation package lasts...


Yep, forever. An eternity of saying "I love you" and "thanks for making me" to a supposedly all-powerful being...

Think that's a let-down? Wait, there's more!

If you decide to not take the "Ultimate Meaning of Life" package, supposedly your only other option is a permanent tan... in a "hell" that this "supreme being" created... to punish you for not liking your purportedly "god-given" purpose in life... that isn't meant for you as long as you acknowledge the supreme beings "I'm better than you and you need to admit it" mentality...

Which leaves us where? Oh, yes, the meaning of life according to the gospel of fundie Christians...

(for those who need one...)

(appropriately called "sheep"...) to love this blood-thirsty god, recognize that he murdered his own son in order to save us from a hell he created, and, as a reward for this sacrifice, enjoy his vengeful company for all of eternity.
Forgive me for not leaping for joy. Bad knees, you know.

This is supposed to be the meaning of life? The purpose that will somehow keep us from overeating? Something tells me the southern Baptists didn't get that memo either...

Of course, being saved from hell is really just a side-benefit, so they say. The false option of "one or the other" is more false logic than actual choice, leaving one to wonder if this really is the great meaning, the wondrous purpose, the end-all be-all of our existence... Why the need to threaten with hell? Wouldn't it be so frickin' fantastic there would be no need for eternally punishing those that find rewards outside of the binary world sky god's followers say we all reside in?

Of course, with a sky god like that, why bother with a Satan figure at all? Of course, we'd have to ask them, the creators of this alternate reality of the insane... He's just a nice plot twist to make the whole "meaning" seem more sincere, I suppose...

Regardless, praying to Jesus isn't going to cure your coronary heart disease, your high cholesterol, or your size 48 and growing waistline... Only you can do that. But if it takes a little extra-special fanciful story to give you a reason to lose that extra poundage, then I say have at it: It only prolongs the amount of time between you and eternal ego-stroking...

Which, ultimately, seems more counter-intuitive than the original premise itself...

I would say "How do you like them apples," but then I'd be accused of tempting you with the forbidden fruit...

Hey, maybe god does want you to be fat! Hmm....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Celebrating 40 Years of Marriage Freedom... For Some...

Forty years ago on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court refused the illogic of the white supremacists, the right wing, and the just-plain racists and stated:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
It seems so foreign a concept to me that people weren't allowed to marry outside their race! Of course, I grew up on the outskirts of the outskirts of Philadelphia, and was exposed to many differing types of couples growing up. Not at school, mind you. Limerick Chapel Christian Academy was certainly not known for its racially diverse student population, and when I reached Jr High and High school in the public school system, there still wasn't much of what you would call "diversity."

But as a paperboy, then as a cashier, and then as a stock boy at the local Redner's Supermarket, I met anyone and everyone that lived in neighborhood, and it never crossed my mind that somehow the "races" should be divided along color lines, whether to take a dump or to shop in a store. I didn't even realize that when my grandfather and great-grandfather referred to the "coons" that they were speaking of black persons--being the naive child that I was, surrounded by woods and fields, I thought they were actually talking about racoons. I actually applaud my mother for not allowing such obvious racial overtones to make a blip on our radar... The fact that she could outgrow such blatantly racist past speaks volumes to her worth in character.

Of course, even though my mother and father were never "flower children," they grew up hearing and learning about the civil rights movement, had to be very aware of the injustice inherent in the system perpetuated by the judge who originally forbade Richard and Mildred Loving from being married and residing in Virginia! What was the judges' logic, you ask, in forbidding two people who loved one another from wanting to share a life?

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
Let's see... This sounds familiar... People using the bible to justify inequality in the United States... Of course, the old testament (oft quoted for preventing same-sex marriage) never stated that slavery was a bad thing, and therefore was oft cited to justify segregation, injustice, and slavery:

When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner's property. (Exod. 21:20-21, KJV)

Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly. (Leviticus 25:44-46, NIV)
There are more, but you get the point: god didn't mind those "created in his image" being treated like knick-knacks and oxen... Even the New Testament never says a word about not owning slaves, but merely gives some "words of wisdom" as to how to treat them:

A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master (Matt. 10:24)

Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. (Matt. 24:45-46)

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. (Eph. 6:5-6)

Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior. (Titus 2:9-10)

Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. (1Pet. 2:18-29)
With a god who holds such high regard for those created in his image, one wonders why the concept of the devil even survived! But as culture and times have changed, most of today's Christians wouldn't dream of saying the bible condones such a condition for man--in fact, many have gone on to reinterpret their holy scripts to try to say god abhors the institution (again, having to overlook the obvious contradictions...) in an attempt to keep god relevant to the masses of the culture of the day. It must also be pointed out, though, that many people, Christian and non- alike, fought against the oppressive conservatives of the day to secure equal treatment in marriage for people of all colors, and many more fight today against the obvious cultural perspectives that have changed since the bible was written those 2000+ years ago, and I applaud every one fo them.

Sadly, though, many have not learned their lesson, and continue to use their "inspired" book to prevent equal rights and opportunities for other minorities. I dare say, some of them perhaps still would condone slavery if it weren't such a growing unpopular stance to take (hello, bible belt!!).

Unfortunately, this type of simplistic thinking is still alive and well today in various parts of the nation, which is just a sad testament to how far we have yet to go before people just see people as people.

Need I mention that the whole concept of races is really quite illogical. The term itself, races, implies a special separation that simply doesn't exist! And while various groups of humans sub-evolved and adapted to their climates, the DNA itself that we all share is 100% the same--superficial distinctions like the amount of melanin in one's skin, the shape of one's eyes, or the texture of one's hair are simply like the various colors a Great Dane comes in. Nothing more.

Much like I scratch my head now and wonder what was supposedly so terrible that people of differing races couldn't marry, people in the future will scratch their heads and wonder why gays and lesbians couldn't marry...

It's a long road, and we still have a ways to go--we may in fact never get there (especially if fundie wing-nuts of various religions have their way and bring about a self-fulfilled tribulation...), but I continue to have faith in most of mankind: in the love, compassion, sympathy and empathy inherent in our wiring... I ask you , America, forty years after one grave injustice that affected all races was rectified, what will it take to continue the fight against injustice and inequality? Will it take your son/daughter coming out? Your sibling or parent?

Or simply an open heart?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Writing Has Been At a Premium Lately...

And I do apologize...

Strange things--okay, maybe just different things--are afoot at the Circle J. Trying to make certain things happen, hoping other things will just find their way under a carpet...

Found out, of course--surprise, surprise--I'm needed to come in this weekend to learn something "new and exciting." My paraphrase. This type of colorful speech doesn't just fount out of everyone at... The "We Make Green Things" company. I wanted to shout: "I don't need to come in this weekend--THINGS ARE HAPPENING!"

When it comes to work, and work-related happenings, I like to stay pretty general... Although I live in the great US of A, freedom of speech DOES get checked at the door, mostly in the interest of continuing to collect little green pieces of paper I can trade for goods and services, but also in the interest of keeping a peaceful work environment.

But I am trying to make things happen... I'd be surprised if less than half of the... Green-thing makers weren't looking to Make Things Happen.

It's like... it's like... when you were a child, you went from a tricycle, to a bike with training wheels, to a free-standing bike... Some of us moved on to dirt bikes, Suzuki's, and some--the real people who like to Make Things Happen--got Harley's. (I hope you understand this is purely metaphorical...) And while the training wheels have been nice, I'm tired of the person who keeps telling me I can't do it without the training wheels...

Mostly that's my inner self: You know, the part of you that hates change, loves caution, and takes comfort in the fact that there's always cheese in the frig. Some of it is the training wheels environment: the constant condensation, the "we will assume you are stupid even though you've been here for almost 6 years" attitude, the over-arching redundancy that certain persons are building into the work flow while irreducibly ignoring other issues that prevent proper work flow... It's almost as if we know the damn will burst, but we'd like to paint over the cracks so it still looks pretty...

Trying to Make Things Happen is hard. No one will do it for you. Of course, the fact that I'm more nervous about telling the Green-Things company that I'm leaving than in waiting to hear from the Purple-Things Company! Between the heartburn, sleepless nights, gray hair cropping up as I stress myself into an early grave for arbitrary deadlines made up by people living and working in the high rises of NYC over 100 miles away is bad enough without adding onto the fact that--well, to be honest, the Green-Things Company has a strange and erratic track record for employees that give notice. Some of not gone down quite so well while for others it's seemed like the end of a long vacation (again, metaphorical...), complete with dinner-of-choice and letters of recommendation for all...

I love the idea behind the Purple-Things company. I love the fact that I won't have to be within four off-white walls about 30 to 50 percent of the time! And while I have a lot of head knowledge, I'm a bit short on the practical experience Purple Company needs, so it may come down to a whim and a hope...

Either way, I will be Making Things Happen. My life can't handle 24/7 stress, the sleepless nights of "Did I get that sent off?" "Did I remember to?" and the keeping track of over 100 different peoples' personal preferences for all the minute details that go into the making of a Green Thing...

So I apologize for the delays and gaps, the start-and-stop of my Internet universe... But once Things Have Happened, and I have settled some of the more... Needful parts of my life, you can expect more regular type to appear here at Life & Otherwise...

Until then, I hope you'll bear with me in this time of Making Things Happen...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

You Only Have Rights If You've Suffered...

Did you know it's okay to discriminate as long as those discriminated against haven't suffered enough? Seriously, this is the position the "Family Research Council" is taking in regards to the "civil unions" and same-sex marriage debate that is sweeping the country. From an email they think they are sending to a right-wing moron"

Homosexuals have experienced disapproval, but they have not endured centuries of violence, abuse, segregation, and slavery.
One wonders if they want us to apologize for having closets to hide in...

Yes, it's a bunch of crap, but let's face it: Reasoning has never been a strong suit of conservative Christians, has it? But then they take it one step further: They claim that since coming out of the closet is a choice (as if lying were suddenly a viable alternative to homosexuality itself...) and having black skin is not a choice, it's also an argument toward allowing unequal rights to exist:

Unlike ethnicity, homosexual behavior is a choice. A person can choose to either participate in homosexual behavior or not to participate. An African-American cannot choose to participate in having black skin; they are born with it.
And thus, the myth of "choosing" continues (although not one straight person has yet to tell me when they chose to be straight). The ultimate irony comes in the form of their religion: It is also a choice to be Christian, Muslim, Hindu... But because they have chosen "correctly" (in the only twisted reality they have created...), everyone must suddenly live by their standards of "right" and "wrong."

They try to clarify said position next:

Lynch's suggestion that homosexuals who want to marry are oppressed or victims of discrimination is simply outrageous. No person is being denied the right to marry. They are simply asked to meet the core requirement (since civilization began) that both genders be present.
Notice something interesting here: Never mind that one of those genders (HINT: Women...) were discriminated against in marriage. Let's conveniently forget that the "institution" of marriage changes with every generation in our free society in how it's viewed, used, and practiced. Women had no say in who they would marry, how old they would be when they were sold to the highest bidder, how many rugrats they would have to produce for their owner--and, based on the argument presented here, that marriage shouldn't change with society, women should have no say in their husbands, family planning, ownership of property... But, of course, that wouldn't bother a patriarch-centric religious belief, would it? How silly!

But, knowing the shoddy footing they stand on with their "arguments," they try one last rally cry: Same-sex marriage statistics. They cite that, since same-sex marriage was made legal in Massachusetts, numbers of same-sex couples tying the know have slowed down--i.e., not as many are marrying as when it first became legal. Now, I know I have to spell this out for some of our "slower" readers, so here we go: The reasons why this is not only a silly argument, but a stupid argument.
  1. 1. When something is new, more people rush out to get it. Of course the numbers are declining! The people who were together for years and wanted it badly all rushed to the courts at the same time to GET married! Now the people who are just starting to get serious in their commitments are turning to it.
  2. 2. Most states won't recognize the marriage. Add in the fact that most out-of-state couples can't get married as their home state won't recognize said marriage, you have reason #2 for why marriage between same-sex couples is declining--most couples can't get married.
  3. 3. Just because not many use it doesn't mean it shouldn't exist. If we followed this rule, there wouldn't be a law for people in wheelchairs. The number of walking people far outweigh the number of people in wheelchairs, so why should we make society change for them? See how stupid that logic is? Look at the Loving V. Virginia case: African Americans only make up about 12% of the U.S. population, but now they can freely marry anyone of any color they wish. Should we now deny them that since they are such a "small percentage" of the population? I don't think so either...
  4. 4. The statistics they cite are also only half-baked:

    Only three years after same-sex "marriage" became legal in the Bay State, the number of same-sex "marriages" has dramatically declined. The state Department of Public Health notes that 6,121 same-sex couples married in the seven months following the court ruling. In 2006, 1,427 couples married. As of April 26 of this year, only 87 homosexual couples have wed.
Not only is this year not over, add up those numbers: That's 7,635 couples who now have all the same rights and protections as straight couples in Massachusetts. 15,270 sons, daughters, siblings, friends, mothers, and fathers now don't have to worry about their loved ones when they pass on; when they become disabled; when they come down with a sickness. 15,270 American citizens now can care for their loved ones on a state-wide level in one (1) state. And we want to prevent those people from living free lived based on some other people who choose to obey the (ambivalent) teachings of a book written over 2,000 years ago? Really?

The clincher of the email is even weaker:

This makes it clear that homosexuals don't want to marry; they want the official governmental and social affirmation of homosexual relationships that comes with being able to marry.
See that? 15,270 people didn't want to get married. Perish the thought! Of course, if the only reason these people wanted to get married was "official social and government sanction," why are the "number" of marriages declining? (Aside, of course, from the logical reasons I presented...) I mean, it's not about making a commitment to the one you love, right? Who came up with that silly idea?

Let me make myself very very clear here: I could give two flying fucks what "society" thinks about myself and my husband. I DO give a flying fuck that I DON'T have the same access as other people in love to continue to make sure my loved ones are cared for in the event of something horrible happening to myself. Do I pay taxes? Didn't I serve my country? Do I not work for a living for the things Rich and I have? But my social security benefits won't go to Rich because he has a fucking penis?! Society can drive off a cliff in the name of family values (which we all know are bunk...) for all I care. As long as I know that Rich can keep the house, pay the bills, and continue to live a happy, FREE life when I'm gone, and not have to worry about someone coming in and saying our love wasn't as "important" or "clean" as the love held between two people who have differing types of natural plumbing... THAT'S what I give a fuck about. Not what others think, but that the ones I love will be provided for.

And, seriously, this is a threat to society?

I'm wondering why they don't make like the Amish and just remove themselves from the society which they claim is so "wrong" and "morally corrupt." I mean, who the hell is stopping them? I don't mind if they stay, don't get me wrong: as long as they learn that
  1. Not everyone lives in the past
  2. Not everyone speaks to imaginary deities
  3. Not everyone shares their throw-back value system of the stone age (which they think never existed...)
  4. Not everyone must live by their "moral code" (which, in doing so, is a very immoral position...)
There now, fundies--is that so hard to do? I don't try to tell you whom you should marry; how you should worship (or not worship); who you should sleep with; if you can or can't serve in the military; if you can or can't care for the ones you love whether well or ill...

Why can't you, dear fundie, live and let live? Why is that so hard?