The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘immigration’ Category

CAN WE AFFORD NOT TO BUILD A WALL?

Much of the focus on President Trump’s southern wall with our Mexican border has focused on several issues.  The first, of course, is will it really be built – or was this just some campaign hype?  The second is, how will we get Mexico to pay for it?  The third and most recent entrant into this discussion is, how much will it really cost?  As to the third of those questions, the most recent estimate I’ve seen is $21 Billion.  That’s a whole lot of moolah.  Or is it?

If we reflect back to the presidential campaign, Donald Trump put forward two reasons for building the southern wall.  By far the most controversial was his intent to control the never ending flow of people from coming into the country in contravention of the nation’s immigration laws.  Why that should be controversial is a bit beyond me – but those on the left seem to have an issue with it.  The second reason for building the wall was to stem the flow of illegal narcotics which also flood into the country through that same porous border.  There has been very little protest to building the wall to accomplish this.  And it is to that issue that I would like to focus in this post.

As a libertarian, I have absolutely no objection to anyone using a substance – even though that substance whether it be liquor or heroin be detrimental to their well-being.  That’s based on the theory that the individual, not the government, should dictate personal behavior.  But there is, of course, a caveat to that high-minded ideal.  While I might exhort you to behave as you please, the limit to your behavior occurs when it impacts me negatively.  That is why libertarians endorse laws which provide penalties for the commission of any of a variety of crimes which affect society as a whole.

It would be foolish to believe that simply building a wall will completely eliminate the flow of drugs into the country.  As we learned with Prohibition, when there is a demand for a product it will find its way into the marketplace.  But that is not to say that building a wall and stiff penalties for convicted drug traffickers might do much to curb the supply and thus the usage.  If you doubt the efficacy of harsh penalties for drug vendors check out Singapore which has virtually no drug addiction problem.  It executes drug pushers who are convicted.

The number of drug deaths in the United States now exceeds those Americans who die in automobile accidents.  Consider all the steps that we have taken to minimize traffic fatalities.  If you’re old enough, you might remember the introduction of automatic turn signals.  Then there were seat belts and then lap belts and then air bags.  This list is hardly extensive in discussing the number of safety features which are required of auto manufacturers on today’s new vehicles.  It’s a far cry from the first cars that rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line.  So if we see the efficacy of installing safety features on cars, reducing the toll of deaths, why would we not apply the same reasoning to the illegal drug question?

What does the drug epidemic really cost the country – or more correctly, you and me the average citizen?  Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question.  But I imagine that if we could quantify it, the result would be mind-blowing.

How many purse snatchings, burglaries or armed robberies are committed annually so that the junkie can get the money for a fix?  The number of drug deaths I mentioned earlier relates strictly to those who die of overdose or drug related health issues.  It does not include the number of fatalities between rival drug gangs – which are plentiful.  And as to those who become ill from drug abuse, who pays for the cost of their medical treatment?  And who pays for the salaries of the police, the judiciary, the prison guards who arrest, try and maintain them in our penal institutions?  Who pays for the higher price of products in our stores because some of the merchandise has been stolen?  Of course, the answer to all of these questions is that you and I pay (involuntarily) for all of these – and many more.

Speaking personally, if I had my choice whether I would rather spend tax money in remediation or have that money spent in a positive way – say to help children achieve higher educational standards, I would opt for the latter.  I think most people would agree with that sentiment.  But while I can’t quantify specifically how much we spend on all drug related matters, I can give you some insight into one example of how the taxpayers paid additional, unnecessary costs because of drug usage.

When I ran my temporary employment agency, I received a call one day from an individual who held a management position with the University of Illinois Circle campus.  He was with the university’s School of Public Health.  In the call, he explained that the school had received a grant from the Federal government to conduct a five year study.  The goal of the study was to determine how much. if any benefit would inure among members of the drug using community if they were supplied with free bottles of alcohol and an unlimited supply of clean, disposable syringes so that they could get their heroin fixes.

In order to implement this program, the school had identified twenty people who were former drug users themselves whom the school felt would be accepted by ongoing users – their “client” base.  Of this group, fourteen were Hispanics and six were black.  There were twelve in this group who were male and eight female.  As you might expect, there were few who had high school diplomas – only two.

The problem for UIC to get this program up and running was that in order for the school to hire these individuals directly, they needed to pass the civil service exam as UIC  is a state school.  And, quite wisely, my contact had zero confidence that any of them would be able to do so.  Cleverly, he realized that under the grant he was allowed to hire a private independent contractor who could employ these people and thus circumvent the requirements of state law.  So his call was to find a firm that would add these people to their payroll and find out how much they would charge for this service.

After some negotiation, I came up with a markup number that would cover my cost of having to pay FICA and Medicare Tax as well as unemployment insurance – and some extra to cover our cost of payroll processing and a small profit.  We agreed on the number and by subverting the normal civil service process, it cost the school about fifteen percent more to add these “employees” to their project than they otherwise would have spent.  This relationship began in 1992.  By the way, you might find it interesting that the university offered all these employees a salary of $14 per hour – a far higher salary than a starting employee at a fast food restaurant would have earned then – or today.  When it’s not your money, I guess a person can afford to be quite generous with it.

But the sad fact is that all the waste that gets swept up into newer and higher debt ceilings; all the costs to society not only in terms of lives that are lost, property that is damaged and the general decline of morality and decency; all of these costs, and there are so many more, seem to me to make building the wall not an option but a necessity.

 

 

 

ISLAM AND IMMIGRATION

Long before there was an organization known as ISIS, I read about the way that people who are adjudicated criminals in the majority of Muslim countries are handled within the Sharia code of justice.  Application of this law to offenders of whatever description seems to our Western minds to be harsh.  And it certainly is swift.

Caught for stealing … have your hand cut off.

Caught in adultery … get stoned to death.

Caught questioning the religious authority … get 1000 lashes – if you survive for the full term of the punishment.

Caught in a same sex relationship … get thrown from a building, stoned to death or beheaded.  (I’m not sure if the soon-to-be-deceased gets to pick which way to make his exit).

I remember thinking to myself, you know, I don’t think I would even consider jaywalking in Riyadh – or most of the rest of the Muslim world.  By the way, jaywalking is also a punishable offence – and it is punished through the imposition of fines.  Presumably that is an effort to make the streets safer both for drivers and pedestrians.  And please, no snarky comments about “women drivers” since Saudi Arabia does not allow women the privilege of being able to obtain a driver’s license.

Beginning this year, King Abdullah has allowed women the right both to vote and to run for minor public office.  But if one of the requirements to be able to vote is proving identity by presenting a driver’s license, well the ladies of Saudi Arabia may be back in the same second class status that they’ve had bestowed on them for over a millennium.

Singapore has an even higher rate of executions than Saudi Arabia – most of which were effected through hanging – and the majority of those for what the authorities define as drug trafficking.  (The typical person who patronizes his neighborhood Colorado pot shop would be able to buy a sufficient quantity of marijuana to qualify them as traffickers under Singapore’s definition).  But there are also lesser offenses which we would consider trivial – such as failure to flush a toilet (who would do that) and chewing gum subjects the chewer to a fine of five hundred dollars.  Sorry about that Mr. Wrigley.

I realize that laws, by whomever and wherever they are made, are designed to be punitive. That is, to my mind a fundamental flaw – offering only the meting out of punishment rather than a reward for good behavior.  As an example that I’ve proposed in the past, rather than simply fining the driver who breaks the law by giving him a ticket, how about providing an incentive to the good driver who does not weigh on the local police’s time and never gets a ticket by reducing the cost of annually registering his vehicle.  That might, I can’t say with certainty as it’s never been tried and is unlikely ever to be tried, encourage and incentivize each of us who drives to follow the rules.  Over many years of running my own business, I always found that the carrot rather than the stick approach did more to motivate my employees.

But returning to Saudi Arabia and the punishments which that government feels merits the death penalty is one with which we are becoming all too familiar.  And that crime is called “terrorism.”  Although Bo(Peep)Bama has officially referred to ISIS (ISIL by the administration’s terminology) as a terrorist organization, he and his mouthpieces still refuse to label it for what it is – Islamic terrorism.  But if we play along with BoBama’s definition, anyone who engages in terroristic activity which is the “use of force to achieve political or social ends” is therefore a terrorist.  Whether they are an avowed ISIS member or not.  And clearly it would be in the interest of all the residents of the United States to be certain that before a person gains entry into the country we make sure that person has come here with no ill intention.

The oath of allegiance which is required to be sworn to by naturalized citizens is as follows (my bolding):

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Liberal pundits like Geraldo Rivera and Juan Williams have tried to make the argument that illegals in the United States actually commit crime at a lower rate than American citizens.  That argument is, of course, poppycock since by the very act of being here illegally in the first place, each and every one of them has already broken the law.  That is, by my math, a rate of one hundred percent who are lawbreakers.

Certainly there are extreme cases where people are fearful of threats to their lives in their countries of origin – and we ought to treat those exceptional cases with both expediency and compassion and waive our rules.  Strangely, I have not heard of calls from either side of the aisle offering the Yazidis of Iraq who were driven from their home’s by ISIS a sanctuary in the United States.

It would be hard for anyone to argue that of the estimated twelve million illegal aliens in the United States the majority of  these were people who would qualify for a compassionate exception to our present immigration policy.  That doesn’t mean that they are bad people.  Perhaps they didn’t understand the process – or perhaps the process, mired as it is in bureaucratic red tape – was just too onerous for them to feel the need to wait.  And without a doubt, many of these people and their children would be excellent additions to the populace and citizenry of the United States.  Personally, I would support a long term path to citizenship for these people.  After all, by one means or another, most of us are the children of people who either immigrated here of their own free will – or were imported in the slave trade.

But it is equally clear, the shooting death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco last week by an illegal who had been five times deported is not an isolated incident.  There is an element of our illegal population that is criminal and has a background in illicit behavior not only in their home countries but here as well.  And there are a significant number of these criminals who have been deported multiple times and have found a way to return.  In my view, by placing economic duress on our economy, diverting our law enforcement people to devote resources to dealing with them and in many cases incarcerating them, they are engaging in economic terrorism as well as violent crime.

Do we have the right to protect the nation, by any means possible, from those who would attack us in acts of terror?  No.  We have that as a responsibility.  So here’s a rather draconian but potentially effective way of dealing with this issue.

If we apprehend a person who enters the country illegally and deport that person, we should give him or her a warning that if that person returns to the country, other than through legal means, that person will, if apprehended a second time, be summarily executed as a foreign combatant and terrorist.  No trials.  No appeals.  No exceptions.

One of my former employees came from Polish immigrant stock.  She was a no nonsense kind of person who worked hard and expected to be paid for her efforts – and she was.  And when she opened her own office for me she had no compunction about dismissing an employee who did not perform to the standards which we and she had set and to which they had agreed before being hired.  As she put it, “When you play – you pay.”

Maybe it’s time we applied that same standard to illegal immigration.

SANCTUARY AND THE RUST BELT

In his attempt to find something as a “legacy,” President Obama is, through his minion Secretary of State Kerry, attempting to forge a deal of some sort with Iran.  Sadly, the president has not come to the realization that this deal, good or ill, will not be his legacy.  He has already established that.

The obvious and lasting legacy of this administration will be its consistent refusal to enforce the laws of the land – or, more exactly – to enforce those laws which it chooses and from which it sees a sense of political advantage and to ignore those which do not fit its agenda or which might benefit its opponents and all the rest of “We The People.”  The legacy of Obama will be that a nation whose foundation was built on equality under the law will have moved to a state of lawlessness on its way to nihilism and possible anarchy.

The unfortunate, tragic and avoidable death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco at the hands of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez is a direct result of the Obama administration’s refusal to enforce the laws regarding illegal aliens which are on the books.  But they are not alone in responsibility, the Sheriff of San Francisco, the members of that city’s Board of Supervisors and its mayor also share some part of the blame.  But if there were one specific cause for this tragedy to which we may point as being the culprit, it is San Francisco’s self-adoption of its “sanctuary city” policy – and the Federal government’s tacitly condoning it.  Translated, that means that San Francisco has chosen to ignore Federal law and do what it wants.

By now everyone knows that the alleged (and now admitted) murderer had entered the country illegally and been deported five times; that he was guilty of seven felony convictions; and had chosen to reside in San Francisco largely because he knew that he would find a safe harbor there and not be turned over to ICE authorities for yet another deportation.  So, in addition to the loss of a perfectly innocent young woman who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, we will now go through the expense of a trial and most likely spend good taxpayer money incarcerating a man for life who shouldn’t have been here in the first place.

You might have thought that with the brouhaha that Donald Trump made with his statement about illegal aliens that we would have heard something from BoPeepObama.  But the highest level of commentary came from California’s two senators, Feinstein and Boxer.  The two of them, who have been in the Senate since shortly after the great flood, took time to put down their hairspray and rinse just long enough to issue two separate but equally insipid statements in which they expressed an appropriate amount of tut-tutting and said that we really should do something about this whole thing with (using the PC term) undocumented aliens.  If there is a silently imposed invisible glass ceiling which keeps women from the same opportunities that men enjoy, these two and their colleague representing San Francisco in the House, Nancy Pelosi might well be the reason.  This troika might well be named the “Three Ditzketeers.”

Washington state and Colorado’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana are another example of how local government has decided to thumb their noses at Washington and do what they will.  They have received a non-response from Washington just as have the two hundred “sanctuary cities” that have self-declared themselves as such.

So as long as we are cool with local governments adopting policies which are in variance to what the Federal government mandates, this provides an opportunity to extend the logic of local self-determination to a higher level.  And this concept may go far to help revivify some of our rust belt cities which have fallen into a state of near collapse – places such as Detroit and Baltimore.  Those and similar declining municipalities should declare themselves a Federal Income Tax-free sanctuary zone – exempting their residents from the necessity of paying any Federal income taxes in the future.

There is very little reason for a person to want to move to a Detroit or a Baltimore.  Hundreds of properties in both are either abandoned or extremely run down.  The crime rate is so high that living there is a bit like taking a vacation in ISIS controlled Iraq but with no exit visa.   Unless there is some substantial incentive, soon they and similar cities will turn into a vast wasteland.  So the city governments should turn over those properties to pioneers who would like to take a shot (no pun intended) at rehabbing them.  Returning them to the tax rolls would provide the local governments some much needed revenue – if they could entice enough adventurous people to take part in this experiment.

Would the Feds go along with this income tax exemption?  After all, they’ve overlooked states that violate Federal narcotics laws – and municipalities that ignore Federal immigration laws.  But then when it comes to money, that may be where the buck stops.  After all, the reality is that collecting money from the American people is the lifeblood which continues to finance pompous politicians and bloated bureaucracies.  And in the end, maintaining their own privileged lifestyles may prove to be of sufficient importance that they would actually take action and put their feet down.  Money is probably more important than the citizens of this country to them.  Just ask the family of the late Kate Steinle.

ONE NO TRUMP

As much as I’ve always enjoyed games of almost any variety, including card games, for some reason I never had any exposure to bridge when I was young.  That was rectified my first year at the University of Chicago when I encountered another freshman, Alvin Rosenblatt, a young Canadian student with a passion for bridge.

Now if you’ve never met anyone who is fanatic about bridge, you’ve truly escaped one of life’s great horrors.  Little did I know how deeply committed people become to the game until I allowed Alvin to convince me to teach me how to play.  I actually had less interest in the game than befriending Alvin whose manner was so abrasive and generally offensive that he might have caused Bernadette of Lourdes to begin swearing.  I felt sorry for him – and since I was generally pretty good at card games, I thought this would be a natural addition to my repertoire.

Well, it didn’t take a lot of time to round up two other students who played bridge and wanted to escape reading any more of the subtleties of John Locke or were tired of doing calculus so it wasn’t long before I played my first game with Alvin as my partner.  I could tell from almost the first moment of play that I had better do my best or my beloved partner would let me know that I had screwed up.  I think that outburst occurred in the fourth or fifth hand.

Now in bridge, partners play a “system.”  Perhaps the one that most beginners start with was developed by Charles Goren, the man who may have done more to popularize bridge than any other.  It’s probably the easiest for the novice to memorize.  But that basic system was far too simple for Alvin.  He played the Kaplan-Sheinwold system – which to me sounded more like a medical syndrome that had devastating implications for the gall bladder than it was a bidding system.  But I was a tyro – so what did I know.

Bridge comes in two very distinct varieties.  The first, the game that I began playing and which is usually played socially is contract bridge.  There is a fair element of luck in this game since being dealt extremely strong or weak hands greatly affects the game, far more than the skill of the player holding those hands.  The second version is duplicate bridge.  This is truly a game of skill because each pair of partners plays all the same hands as all the other pairs and depending on how well or poorly they play their hands is measured by a points system, ranking them accurately against all the other players.  My harrowing introduction to bridge, and my next several sessions, were of the contract variety.

I was already beginning to think that my compassion for Alvin and my attempt to befriend this young man were misguided.  Alvin never failed to let me know when I had erred but ignored offering any compliments when I had done something quasi-brilliant.  Of course, that second situation only occurred rarely.  I began thinking to myself, “Who needs this abuse?  I could just go to class and have one of the tenured professors insult me.”  But I confess that the game began interesting me so I suffered the slings and arrows with which Alvin’s quiver was overwhelmingly filled.

Things went along more or less in the same way through eight or ten sessions in our dorm’s rec room when Alvin pronounced that, “While I was still an incompetent ‘bumble butt’  I had advanced sufficiently that it was time for me to graduate to the far more sophisticated and challenging game of duplicate bridge.”  There was a duplicate bridge club that had a weekly session at the university’s International House and he expected me to attend with him the following Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. promptly.  I acquiesced to his request and actually looked forward to the challenge, expecting to be competing against twenty other players or thereabouts.

When we arrived at the building we easily found the signs directing us to the appropriate room – which, as it turned out, was the largest meeting room in the building.  And it was filled to the gills with nearly two hundred bridge players.  Suddenly, remembering Alvin’s previous outbursts in our little social game, it occurred to me that I was likely to be embarrassed before several hundred people.  And that is exactly what happened – about one half hour into our play.  Which caused me to stand up from the table, direct an extremely crude expletive statement at Alvin and walk home.  And that was the last time I played bridge.

Well, speaking of bridge and bridge terminology, this past week, Donald Trump, a man whose ego makes Barack Obama’s look like one belonging to a mendicant friar, announced that he is entering the Republican race for President of the United States.  The speech proclaiming his bid reminded me both of Alvin and a papal encyclical – but without humility.  But I was particularly struck by his intent to bring Mexico to its knees and force them to pay for the construction of a wall which will keep unwanted foreigners from invading our country.  That would have to be one heck of a wall.

There are approximately 540 million people who live in Mexico, Central America and South America.  Granted, not all of them want to move here.  But still, that’s a lot of humanity, not to mention those who are participants in ISIS and might take the trip across the Rio Grande via Mexico.  And I thought, how likely is this wall to succeed in keeping them folks back where they belong.  I thought about this in the context of the Clinton Correctional facility in Dannemora, NY, a maximum security prison, from which two escapees made a getaway a little over two weeks ago and are still on the loose.

Now Dannemora typically houses between 2800 to 3000 prisoners.  Yet, with a little bit of help from their friends, two of these truly evil felons are roaming around free, at least for the moment.  So if we can’t keep people whom we’ve already captured under lock and key, what is the likelihood that we will effectively keep a swarming mass of humanity out?

As to the answer to that question, I bid, “One No Trump.”

VETERINARIANS AND IMMIGRATION

Every so often I get sucked into the manufactured hoopla of the day – and yesterday was one of those days.  It was Derby Day for the 141st time.  I used to enjoy the races until I saw one at Belmont in New York in which one of the horses broke his leg during the course of the race and was destroyed.  That soured me on the Sport of Kings.  But from time to time I have watched a leg of the Triple Crown and with nothing more important to do, I tuned in yesterday.

I had attended one of these events in person – the 100th running.  I had some friends who lived in the Cherokee Park area of Louisville who had kindly invited a friend and me to spend the weekend with them in their home.  It was a festive day indeed, with the ladies wearing outrageously bright, large hats and the mint juleps being poured with abandon.

Unfortunately, perhaps it’s a Yankee thing, but bourbon and I don’t agree.  I think it might be the high sugar content of the liquor – but even a small quantity makes me extremely ill.  But when you’re at Derby Day it’s an unwritten rule that you are expected to go with the flow.  So I accepted the julep after making an appropriate protestation and sipped at it very slowly.  And in the course of many hours at Churchill Downs sipped many more.  The result, of course, was predictable.  To borrow a phrase from Sir Winston, “I was drunk; I was horribly drunk; I was disgustingly drunk.”

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was able to hold on to the bourbon in my stomach throughout the Derby and the other races after which we returned to my friends’ home.  I teetered to the lavatory in my room and knew that I had to relieve myself of all those mint juleps.  Unfortunately, I was so blotto that I couldn’t distinguish between the toilet (which had water in it) and the aquarium which also had water in it and a fair number of salt water fish.  So I inadvertently lifted up the cover to the tank, thinking it was the toilet lid, and out came spilling many mint juleps.  The result was that I felt a bit better but the alcohol was toxic to the fish – all of whom I killed in this process.

That was the last time that I received an invitation to attend the Derby.  Actually, that was also the last time I heard from these friends.  Alas.

Back in the days when Dad and I would attend the races, I remember that there were some outstanding jockeys.  The names Eddie Arcaro and Willie Shoemaker come to mind.  And as I watched the hour long pre-Derby show, I was struck at how things had changed.  Back in the fifties and sixties, the vast majority of the jockeys were Anglos (although that is a term that wasn’t in common use at the time).  At this year’s Derby, I would guess that at least three quarters of them riding in the big race were Hispanic.

And this, of course, started me thinking.  Is the real reason for Obama’s non-policy on immigration and a refusal to tighten the southern border merely a ploy to get more future jockeys into the country?  Is he merely distracting the public’s eye with his golf games when he really is a horse racing aficionado?  While I don’t have a definitive answer to that question it is something to think about.

We are now all familiar with the term “vetting” as it applies to politics.  Simply stated, it means that the prospective candidate’s background has been thoroughly reviewed (though I’ve never been clear by whom) and that there aren’t any nasty little bits of past history which would disqualify her or him from the office for which they are either running or to which they might be appointed.  The term actually comes from horse racing.  Veterinarians were supposed to examine horses to make sure that they had not been given any illegal substances which would enhance their performance.

This first thought naturally led me to a second thought.  Thanks to our veterinarians and technology, we now have the ability to “chip” our dogs and cats so that if they get lost, there is a record of the person to whom they belong so that they can be returned.  It’s a simple and virtually painless process.  So that thought led me to a third thought.

How hard would it be not only to have an identification chip but to have a GPS chip implanted in our pets.  Rather than wait for someone to turn Hondo or Tinkerbell in, we would be able to determine where they were and go right out and bring them home.  And if it works for our pets, why not do the same for those who immigrate to the country illegally?

Statistically, we know that eighty per cent of those who come into the country through our southern border do not show up at their scheduled immigration hearing and just blend invisibly into the population at large.  We could fix that problem with the use of a chip such as the one I have described.  Don’t show up at your hearing and you get picked up and sent back to whence you came.  “Hasta la vista, Baby.”

We have always and should continue to welcome people to the United States who want to make a better way of life for themselves and their families.  And we should actively develop an immigration policy which favors people with special skills that would benefit the country and its people.  But seriously, how many jockeys do we really need?

ON HILLARY CLINTON AND IMMIGRATION

It is an unstated but obvious goal of the left in the United States that under the guise of “humanitarianism” we should open our borders to any and all of the world’s “oppressed” so that they may come and enjoy the government benefits so richly awarded thanks to the efforts of the ever-diminishing working class who earn the money and pay the taxes to provide them.  This is all done in the name of equity, social justice and (less obviously) the ultimate goal of getting a sufficient number of voters to the polls so that the policy can be even further expanded and America may join the ranks of third world socialist countries in which everyone can enjoy an incredibly low level of income equality.

There seems to be some confusion among certain Democrat politicians regarding their family origins and backgrounds.  We all remember Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D – MA) decision to claim a Cherokee background because of her remembrance of her Aunt Bea’s looking at a family portrait, telling the young Elizabeth that their venerated ancestor, captured forever in oil on canvass, “had high cheekbones – just like yours.”  Well, that seems good enough for government work.

Now cometh Hillary Clinton on her van tour to Iowa claiming that all her grandparents had immigrated to the United States, when in fact three of them were born here.  Not that it should matter – other than Hillary’s version makes for a more compelling story.  And heaven only knows, Ms. Clinton needs something to talk about to help the average undecided independent voter see beyond the makeup base and blush to want to cast their ballot for her.  There is certainly little that is positive in her background to cause that to happen – and a lot of baggage that, at the very least, has a certain air of privilege and impropriety.

But returning to the subject of immigration and why our porous borders should be converted into open floodgates, the left makes the argument that the Europeans who came to this country were usurpers, stealing the land from the aboriginal residents who were already here.  Coterminous with this argument is the beginning of their objection to guns since the displacement of Native Americans was accomplished through the use of the blunderbuss which proved to be a far more efficient killing device than either the arrow or the tomahawk.

The most current theory on the inception of the human race is that from an original “earth mother” somewhere in Africa, all humanity sprung.  It’s the sort of scientific community’s version of the Adam and Eve story – but with God eliminated as an unnecessary addition to the cast of characters.  Well, let’s run with that theory.

So our original progenitor had a child or children and presumably they had children and before long there were a whole lot of children and adults running around this one spot on the African continent.  We can certainly imagine that after a not so long time on the evolutionary scale of things, it got a little crowded in this African oasis.  And as new generations and more children came along, some of them decided to move to newer, less populated areas.  They might only have relocated a few miles away – or perhaps they went further.  Much further.  In fact, some of them moved to Asia and Europe and the Americas and Australia.

If the the scientific theory is right, there is no other explanation for how so much of the earth’s land masses got populated.  So while the various Native American tribes were here before the European settlers, they were in every respect immigrants and usurpers just as much as those who followed and largely displaced them.  It might be argued that anyone other than the descendants of the original “earth mother” who still live in the same spot whence all of humanity originated are in fact immigrants and usurpers – all of us.

While I hear the left spout off all the time about how unfair minorities are treated in the United States I have yet to hear any talk of any movement for all of us to hop on a plane and go back to Africa so that we cleanse ourselves of the sins of our fathers and forefathers who had the nerve to come here looking for a better life.  Of course, were we to do that, we would obviously put some stress on the local economy and populace – but we can deal with that issue when the planes start to unload their passengers.

Until that happens, which may be awhile, we can not only admit but agree that we are all immigrants – and be proud of it.  It is not so much what we did to get here but what we do while we are here that is important.  Personally, I would prefer the company of a law abiding immigrant to that of a fourth generation American who is a serial murderer.  And just as we weed out people who have a legal right to live here through our judicial system, it is incumbent on those in government to weed out those who wish to come here before they are permitted entry.

Any of us who is charitable might invite a hungry stranger into our homes to share a meal.  But most of us would recoil if that stranger showed up unexpectedly at our doorstep and demanded that we share our bounty with him or her.  And it is for that reason that in the interest of the common good, we ought to have a strong and strongly enforced policy on immigration, welcoming those who have the desire and the potential to add quality to the fabric of American society and rejecting those who will detract from it.

While I have no interest in providing constructive advice to Hillary Clinton on how she should conduct her campaign, it should seem obvious to a woman of her extensive background that most of us who will make a decision on the person who will receive our vote in the next presidential election would like to feel that we are treated as smart enough to know when someone running for office is telling a whopper.  So if Ms. Clinton wants to do the best thing she can to promote herself, it might be to try a little honesty.  Not only would it be refreshing – it would certainly be unexpected.

THE WELCOME MAT

The Las Vegas Valley Water District has a motto, designed to remind us that each of us has the responsibility to conserve water.  “It’s A Desert Out There.”  The casual visitor to Las Vegas, had he been here last week, might have shaken his head incredulously at that slogan as we had a three day substantial rainfall.  It reminded me of being back in Chicago.

The rain continued for long periods of time throughout the day, would pause for perhaps ten minutes and then resume.  Because of the precipitation and the ominous and gloomy clouds which brought it, I decided to skip Gracie’s normal evening sojourn to the Dog Park and walk her through the neighborhood instead.  At least we could scurry home quickly should the downpour resume.

While Gracie is one quarter Golden Retriever, apparently the gene that accompanies fondness for water is missing from her DNA.  True, she does love to hit the fountain of the lawn sprinklers for a refreshing drink, but the stuff that falls from the skies doesn’t, in her estimation, have the same appeal.  Perhaps that is because the lawn sprinklers are a regular and predictable phenomenon – and rain is such a sporadic event.

In any case, we were meandering around the block and I happened to notice that, without exception, every home had a door mat at the front door.  And interestingly, most of those doormats had the word “Welcome” on them.  Gracie and I are the exception.  Our doormat says, “Please Wipe Your Paws.”  But for some reason, looking at these doormats caused me to think about both the issue of immigration and the allegations of police oppression which have become so rampant in some sectors of the media.

The United States accepts over a million people a year who want to immigrate to the country – more people than the rest of the countries of the world combined.  The process of gaining legal status here is onerous and rather Byzantine – but apparently enough people worldwide are willing to endure both the wait and the process to ensure that a continuous stream of newcomers arrives on American shores every year.

These people have a somewhat different view of life in America than some of us who are here legally by reason of birth.  I mean, who in his right mind would want to go to the trouble and expense of moving to a country where there was a high probability that when he got there he would be “oppressed” by those in law enforcement?  Basic logic would suggest that would be a place to avoid rather than one to which a person would seek admittance.

Now just because a person has a good heart and is welcoming to friends and guests, it does not follow that his kindliness would extend to everyone who presented himself at his door.  Most of us would probably call 911 if we saw a hooded man, brandishing a gun, rather than welcoming that person in for tea.  And while most of us who are here as a result of immigration reflect on our own and our forebears’ experience in coming to America and want to extend that same courtesy to others who are similarly motivated, that does not imply that we want to do so in an indiscriminate manner and open the door to anyone who presents himself.

If we look at the historical waves of immigration that occurred in America, we need to put in perspective that while we gratefully welcomed low wage people in the first and early part of the country’s second century, that in large measure reflected that the country and its infrastructure were under construction and needed those workers to build railroads and dig ditches for sewers.  Their arrival did not displace workers who were already here.  But the infrastructure, notwithstanding its deteriorating condition, and the railroads have been built.  No such need exists today.

Our manufacturing sector has greatly diminished and Wall St. no longer waits with baited breath to hear the U. S. Steel quarterly report as it did in the 1950’s.  Rather, the financial markets are moved by whether or not Google or Apple made their number for the most recent three month period.  Of the thirty stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average , only nine are purely involved in manufacturing and of those, two manufacture drugs.  The other twenty-one companies are primarily involved in providing services.

The problem with a stagnant, albeit slightly improving economy, is that those Americans who are at the bottom of the economic barrel face increased competition from illegal aliens (or if you prefer “undocumented people”) and nowhere is this more evident than within the inner city communities predominantly occupied by blacks.  That, at least in part, explains why the rate of unemployment among blacks consistently runs twice the “official” rate of unemployment – and among young black men runs twice that, nearing twenty-five percent.

If we truly want to face the issue of why there is unrest and despondency among certain groups of our population, racism is a convenient but dishonest explanation.  Let’s face it – the automobile dealer who is selling Ferraris doesn’t really care about the race of the person who buys his vehicle – and cares even less how that person obtained the cash to close the deal.  It isn’t a matter of race – rather it’s a matter of economics.  And the economic outlook for those in our inner cities is very bleak.

Riots and lootings solve nothing but in fact create additional problems for the business owners who are directly affected and potentially can lead to the arrest and incarceration of those who participate.  In truth, some of those who participate are simply out for ill-gotten gain – and any excuse will do to set them and their malicious intentions in motion.  Others probably have a sense of their own helplessness but see no path to extricate themselves from it.  And then there are some ideologues who believe that America is the most racist, despicable country in the world.

To those in the third category, remember that once there was a Berlin Wall – designed to keep the citizens of East Berlin from making their way to freedom.  America has no such barrier in place to prevent any willing person from leaving.  And there are countries which apparently are willing to give anyone, irrespective of background, an opportunity to start over.

The recent committal of five more Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay suggests that country might provide a more nurturing venue for them to spend the remainder of their lives.  And given the generous way in which our federal government spends taxpayer dollars, there’s probably a program in place to help facilitate their change of address.  Take advantage of the opportunity – please.

Via con Dios.

WHO YA GONNA CALL?

It was the last post that Anahlia Cowherd posted on Facebook – a plea for help – help for deliverance from a predator who lived in her house – her grandfather.  Apparently, the sexual abuse she had received from her 79 year old relative, Honorario Yango came to her mother’s attention who then confronted her father with the allegations.  He in turn killed her, his granddaughter and attempted to kill his 10 year old grandson who thankfully escaped.  Yango then turned the gun on himself, saving the taxpayers from another costly trial – and the prison system from having to make space for yet another depraved pervert.  That last sentence might sound cold – because it is.  After reading story after story about the kooks who dominate the news with their predation either on relatives or strangers, it’s getting harder to maintain a rosy outlook on humanity.

Those stories sometimes revolve around sexual abuse but others are more generic, exhibiting sheer animal gratification and the thrill of killing.  Stories such as those regarding ISIS and the events last week in Canada, New York, earlier this week in Sacramento and the innocent woman in Moore, OK who was beheaded by a former co-worker in her office fit that second category.  There are far, far more of these stories than should be appearing in any civilized society.  If I were a betting person, and I am, I suspect that the curtain is far from falling on reports of this kind.

In my years as a self-employed business person I realized that I had certain skills on which I could dependably rely and that there were some areas of running the business in which others had more ability than I did.  Rather than spend my time performing duties in which I only had average ability, I chose another route to make sure that those aspects of the business were handled in the most professional manner.  That answer was to hire someone with the expertise to manage those activities.  Whether it’s a private business or the business of government that same principle applies.

Fortunately for the business person, their enterprise is fairly simple.  It is either to manufacture a product or offer a service and do that while earning a profit so that they can continue either to manufacture a product or offer a service.  The Founding Fathers had a similarly simplistic view of the function of the Federal government granting it very few responsibilities.  But one of those was to protect the country from intruders and to keep the country’s borders secure.  That wisdom seems to have been lost on those in Washington who have taken a path where they want to control everything – resulting in their not controlling much of anything very effectively.

Recently I came across a website which I spent some time exploring.  It is a website devoted to the topic of how to stop bullying.  Without regard to partisanship, I hope that we all might agree that the actions which caused Anahlia Cowherd’s death at her grandfather’s hand is bullying carried to an extreme.  It is a problem that affects people tragically, but fortunately that number is fairly small.  And if your view is like mine, the person who engages in bullying activities has mental problems which would best be treated medically rather than governmentally.  The rather well done website, by the way can be found at the following link:  www.stopbullying.gov.  Yes, that’s right, our Federal government used some of our tax dollars to create and maintain this site.  The fact that it is easy to navigate suggests that they did not use the same contractors who were hired to put up the Obamacare website.

I would be exceptionally happy if all bullying suddenly ceased – as a result of this website or otherwise.  But we all know that is not going to happen because that same activity has been around for my lifetime and I suspect was around for centuries before I arrived on planet Earth.  So while this website leaves us with an impression that our Federal government cares about the issue, it really does nothing to fix the problem – most likely because realistically, no fix is possible.

Meanwhile, in California, there are two law enforcement officers who are dead at the hands of one man, Luis Monroy-Bracamontes a Mexican national who has been deported four times, rejected twice at the border before he entered the country and two more times after he made it into the U.S and on his second “visit” remained here for five years.  This is the practical result of the Federal government’s failure to address one of its few Constitutional responsibilities – securing the country from intruders.  What is disheartening is that the present administration actively chooses to worry about issues like bullying and passively chooses to ignore the question of securing our borders and making the country a safer place for all our citizens.

It would be foolish to suggest that all those who are in the country illegally have either criminal inclinations or intent.  But the fact that we obviously don’t enforce our laws certainly would be an inducement to those who do have criminal inclination and intent to come here, knowing that we do not give their presence or activities a very high priority.  If we suddenly stopped prosecuting people who committed bank robbery, it should surprise no one if there were a spike in the number of bank robberies that were committed.

One of the premier planks in the liberal agenda is restricting access to firearms of people who are either mentally unstable or who have criminal backgrounds, all this as a stopgap provision until they can try to figure a way to sell the idea of banning all individual ownership of munitions for any reason or purpose.  I don’t know whether Anahlia’s grandfather had a weapon which was purchased legally and registered.  I do doubt that Luis Monroy-Bracamontes’ weapon was owned licitly.  And despite the fact that the two law enforcement officers were armed, he was able to ambush and kill them.

With the Federal government’s inability or inadequacy to prioritize the safety of American citizens, we are currently dealing only with isolated incidences of violence.  What if, and hopefully this doesn’t occur, the worldwide jihadist terror movement decided to launch widespread attacks throughout the country – or attack vulnerable infrastructure such as the electric grid.  Based on the responses from the Obama administration to date, is there a rational person among us who feels confident that any Federal response to such an incident would either be effective or timely?  And having developed a sufficient permanent underclass in all of our major cities, who does not believe that members of that group would take full advantage of this situation as an opportunity to loot stores and abscond with private property?

Perhaps the greatest lobbyist for American’s right to bear arms and for the NRA is the administration and its supporters themselves.  Should such an event occur, notifying your friends on Facebook or even dialing 911 may well prove either impossible or fruitless.  And it is for that reason, so many Americans feel that if they place a call to anyone to protect them in that emergency, that call will be to Smith and Wesson.

WHITE PRIVILEGE

Now that the “War on Women” campaign has gotten somewhat haggard, the Democrats have found a new slogan and are actively campaigning on it.  That latest diatribe is “White Privilege.”  Presumably this is the reason that minorities (translation black Americans) are at the bottom of the socio-economic pile.  It seems only prudent that we should examine the issue and try to separate fact from fiction.

In one respect I have to say that I agree with the premise that it’s easier to make a go of it in America if you’re white.  It’s also easier to make it in Hollywood if you fit the stereotype that we have developed that describes a person as handsome or beautiful.  But the fact that you’re either white or beautiful or both hardly insures a successful and meaningful life.  Take a look at all the Hollywood celebrities, replete with success and adulation who have met untimely, early death, often because their success allowed them to develop habits which overwhelmed their ability to cope with their fame.

At the heart of the “White Privilege” scenario is the assumption that America only affords real opportunity to whites – and more specifically male whites.  They are the ones who are purportedly in control of the socio-economic structure and their ultimate goal is to maintain their power position on the totem pole of life, subjugating all who are not members of their exclusive club to a life of servitude, or at best, mediocrity if not downright poverty.  Well, it’s a theory.

The continuation of that theory is that the world would be a much better place were it not for those white men who have, through their philosophy caused events in history to transpire, which not only negatively have impacted people of color in the United States but worldwide.  Were it not for this self-aggrandizing view and execution of life, the world would be a wonderful Utopia.  Surely anyone with even the smallest modicum of historical perspective would reject this idea out of hand.

The current movement to sanitize the American conscience, promulgated as part of the ideology of the left by eradicating the NFL team name “Redskins” is an excellent example of how the manifesto of “White Privilege” exerts itself in a practical way.  To those enrolled in the movement, the Italian or German, Irish or Bohemian immigrant who came to this country at the turn of the 20th century and never set foot west of the Hudson River is still bound up in the collective “wrongdoings” of those who ventured west and encountered Cochise and Sitting Bull.  This narrative also conveniently overlooks the fact that in pre-Columbian America there were numerous conflicts between warring Native American tribes to which the white man simply wasn’t a party.  And many of those conflicts continued after the paleface got here and in which he played no part.

It is not altogether surprising that those who view history as beginning with the second Bush administration in 2000 have missed most of what has transpired since man began recording his activities on cave walls and papyrus.  And being able to sandwich thousands of years of man’s history into less than two decades serves the purpose well for those who are slow readers and for whom the outstanding literature may appear a bit overwhelming.  The interludes into “ancient history” since the founding of America is only something into which they delve in order to try to make their case.

But the real complaint of “White Privilege” has very little to do with the indigenous people who lived here before Europeans set foot on North America.  The actual focus is on black people and the circumstances under which they came here and in which they lived and now live.  The reason for that is quite simple.  They, unlike the descendants of the Cherokee, the Apache and the Zuni’s represent a very significant bloc of voters.  Sadly, black Americans do not have casinos to supplement their incomes.  And with an unemployment rate twice the national average, many are reliant on government for their subsistence.  That, of course, is a theory but one that I believe is plausible.

But let’s play a game of “What If.”  I used to amuse myself with this when I was a child and I still play that game today from time to time.  So, what if the indigenous tribes in Africa did not war against each other and enslave those whom they conquered; and what if Europeans didn’t buy those who were already enslaved and continue their condition, bringing them to the New World or predatorily subjugate additional black Africans to satisfy their manpower needs?  Since the theory of “White Privilege” also includes a component known as racism, America would have been an almost exclusively white society and would have had no reason to invite or encourage the immigration of blacks.  That a “civilized,” first world society would uniformly hold such a racist view is not surprising and we find an excellent example of a modern, industrialized society with just such an attitude towards exclusivity.  It’s name is Japan.

Given our scenario, those who came to the Caribbean, South and North America would have remained in Africa as would their descendants.  If we had an “inner city ghetto” it would be composed of people whose skin color was white.  So given the racism we’ve postulated, would those who grew up in Africa have had a better life than those whom the left purportedly advocates for in this country?  The answer is, probably not.

The quality of life for most blacks in Africa is something that our most despondent black American would immediately reject out of hand.  There is absolutely no measure whether in terms of life expectancy, economics or having access to conveniences which we take for granted by which the typical African black can compete with his American black counterpart.  The recent outbreak of Ebola in several African nations and their mortality rate is an excellent example of how much anyone in this country, irrespective of color, is advantaged over those blacks on most of the African continent.

While the left goes on about “White Privilege” it ignores one very important point in its railing against racism.  That is that, unlike their counterparts in Africa, American blacks have a modern infrastructure, access to education and health care and happen to live in a country where it is less important “what you look like” than it is “what you do with your life.”  It may be that some of us have a tougher row to hoe than others.  But nothing is impossible and people have overcome great challenges throughout mankind’s history.

Perhaps it’s time for those black Americans to get off the “rhetoric bandwagon,” take stock and then take steps to improve their situation.  No one ever said it was going to be easy.  But that statement applies to people of all colors.

FOLLOW THE LIEDER

 

Despite his brief thirty-one years, Franz Schubert was one of the most prolific composers of the classical age.  Among other compositions, he had more than six hundred secular songs (lieder) to his credit.  “Die Forelle” is one of the most charming and best known of these.

I’m fairly certain that when Schubert composed this song he was thinking little more than of an encounter between the fish and fisherman – which ended badly for the trout.  But as I listened to this lovely song I thought to myself that there is a clear analogy between the story Schubert told and our world today.

Perhaps you’ve heard President Obama’s recent statement that, “This is the world’s most tranquil period in human history.”  I know that he recently went to Colorado to fund raise.  Perhaps he stopped at one of the recently opened marijuana shops and picked up a stash of weed.

Domestically we have an influx  of illegals entering the country.  Sadly, some of them are trying to escape horrible conditions in their home countries and we all, if we are compassionate, have concern for them – whether they are children or adults.  But before we offer our largesse to these visitors, ought we not have at least as much concern for our own citizens – particularly our black citizens – who live in our inner cities and are subject to as much violence as any of these newcomers?  Two thirds of American voters believe that is the case.

In addition to NSA spying on everyone in the world with a phone or an email account we now find out that the CIA which is supposed to operate only internationally has been prying into the private affairs of U. S. senators.  More is being revealed daily that the “phony scandal” at the IRS seems to be a calculated plan to destroy the administration’s opposition politically.  Whether the sole perpetrator of the conspiracy was Lois Lerner or whether others were both willing and involved participants remains to be learned.

We as a nation have now given Obamacare it’s worst approval rating since it began to be implemented.  This FUBAR law has yet to see its most important implications but those will be coming soon as insurers review their pool of customers (as best they can as there are many who think they are insured but are regularly being denied coverage since healthcare.gov’s back end still isn’t function correctly despite the system’s $800 million cost) and consumers who don’t like the law now are in for a big surprise as they receive their premium notices for 2015 and the employer mandate kicks in finally.

Internationally – well, where do we even start?  There is a mini war going on in Ukraine.  Two weeks after the downing of MH 17 there are still the bodies of eighty victims rotting in the fields.  An Ebola epidemic is breaking out in west Africa – with possible worldwide consequences should it be exported.  Hamas has already broken this weekend’s 72 hour cease fire with Israel – hours after it was adopted.  ISIS claims to have taken over and is now in control of Benghazi, Libya.  This list is far from complete.  If this is tranquility then it is hard for me to imagine what turmoil must look like.

With this litany of issues that are fomenting, what do we see our government doing?  The quick answer is that like our clever fisherman who stirred up the waters to muddy the hapless trout’s perspective, the administration is trying to focus the public’s attention on things like a purported impeachment effort (this is pure hype) and the injustice that heaps opprobrium on any caring citizen because of the Washington Redskins team name.  To quote one of my favorite political pundits of all time, Charlie Brown, “Good grief.”

The president and his administration have added an entirely new meaning to the expression, “Muddying up the waters.”  It’s only a shame that those who voted for a second four year Obama administration and now regret that decision hadn’t the perspicacity to see what so many of us realized in 2008 and got hooked when the waters were still clear.

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