Immigration reform is needed, but it would be foolhardy to suggest that the DREAM act satisfies the requirement. It would seem that we have entered a new era of protectionism. Perhaps we should revive the quota system while we are at it. Though exact numbers will not be regulated, immigrants allowed to attain formal citizenship will be sharply curtailed. Each subsequent revision of the original bill adds hurdles to what will be a lengthy, tedious process of measured steps to follow. The act makes it plain that the process towards citizenship will unnecessarily protracted. The only immigrants allowed the formal right to be called Americans will be high achievers. Granted, good old fashioned Americans can be lazy, unproductive, and not of high moral character, but not illegal and deportable aliens, as the wording of the bill itself reads.
Dec 09 2010
Sep 09 2010
There’s been a lot of talk about voting here at Docudharma. This essay was inspired, lol, by reading curmudgeon’s comments trying to persuade posters here to vote Democratic.
The sad thing, or perhaps it is normal given human nature, is that nowadays the only real reason one can give to vote for a Dem is that the Repubs will otherwise win. In other words, a negative example.
As I was a debater in both high school and college, I could probably manufacture some more persuasive arguments on why we should vote Democratic in November.
I’ll probably be doing so, voting Dem, that is. As I’ve said before, I am no political genius. Sigh.
Jul 21 2010
I’m coming home today, and I get on a bus downtown heading my way. In Vancouver a large percentage of the population is Asian.
I get on the bus, and besides me and the driver virtually everyone of the 30 or so people on the bus are Asian.
In the first double seat behind the driver, under the little window sticker that says these are priority seats for elderly and handicapped persons there is a little tiny sparrow of a Chinese lady probably about 85 years old or so sitting in the aisle seat with her grocery bags, so I sit down across the aisle from her.
The bus continues on and at the next stop a fat ugly lard assed white woman about 50 or so gets on the bus who looks, with the miserable scowl on her face, for all the world like a female version of Archie Bunker but not anywhere near as good looking.
She waddles over to the little Chinese lady across from me and motions for her to move over. There is silence on the bus. Chinese lady looks at her and turns sideways in the seat to let Archie in to the window seat.
Archie starts shouting “I’m not sitting in there – shove over or move! Move!“
Jun 18 2010
Effective activism’s a long-haul process, not “save the Earth in 30 days, ask me how.” But there are some principles that seem to reoccur for people addressing every kind of challenge from the Gulf Oil spill to inadequate funding for urban schools to how to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq. They give us clues on how to reach out to engage our fellow citizens and help us get past our own barriers, not to mention burnout and disappointment. When I was updating my Soul of a Citizen book on citizen activism, an activist rabbi who was teaching the book at a Florida university suggested I gather together a Ten Commandments for effective citizen engagement. Calling them Commandments seemed presumptuous, but I did draw together ten suggestions that can make engagement more fruitful. Some I’ve already explored in various Soul of a Citizen excerpts. I’ll flesh out others in coming weeks. But pulling them together in one place seemed useful.
Jun 05 2010
When people hesitate to take a stand on issues from the Gulf oil spill to the horror show off the coast of Gaza, it’s often because they’re unsure of the outcomes of their actions. The issues themselves can be complex and overwhelming. I’ve talked in an earlier Soul of a Citizen excerpt about the trap I call the perfect standard, where we feel we need to know every conceivable answer before we start to take a stand. But we also hold back because all our actions seem fruitless or compromised and because we’re uncertain just how they’ll will play out. Yet acting despite this ambiguity is often the most effective way to make change.
Heartfelt social involvement inevitably leads us into uncertain spiritual and emotional terrain. Theologian George Johnson amplifies this point in Beyond Guilt and Powerlessness. “Most of us,” he says, “are more comfortable with answers than with questions. When faced with a problem we generally approach it with the assumption that information, insights, and proper action will bring satisfactory solutions. We want to fix things right now.”
But as Johnson explains, “the reality of a broken world” often leads to ambiguity rather than certainty. “What we thought, believed, assumed, or followed is suddenly brought into question …. Receiving more information unsettles us rather than making things clear and easy …. It should not surprise us that our journey into the lives of those who cry for help will be discomforting.”
As a result, those of us who work for social justice often have no choice but to pursue our fundamental goals by approaches that are sometimes unclear, ad hoc, and seemingly contradictory. I remember one Vietnam-era demonstration in San Francisco that focused on the role of major oil companies in promoting the war. My friends and I drove the 35 miles to get there. As we stopped to fill up at a gas station, we felt more than a little absurd, but there was no other reasonable way to get there. I experience a similar disjunction when flying across the country to give climate change talks that I hope will move people to act, while contributing to the very greenhouse gases I’m aiming to reduce.
We’re used to dealing with contradictory situations in our personal lives. We love family and friends despite their flaws and missteps, sometimes major ones, while trying to help steer them do what’s right. A lonely few wait indefinitely for partners who match their romantic ideal in every possible way, but most of us take the leap of falling in love with people who, like ourselves, fall well short of faultlessness; then we do our best to love them for who they are. Anyone who has children knows that they are the very embodiment of unpredictability. We can influence, but surely not control them. To all those who are dear to us we can only respond, moment by moment, as lovingly and mindfully as possible, improvising as we go. We embrace these necessarily uncertain human bonds, because the alternative is a life of isolation.
Effective public involvement demands a similar tolerance for our own doubts and mixed feelings, and for the inevitably partial nature of almost all of our victories. Think of our relationship to political leaders we have supported. We work for their campaigns knowing that it may take at least as much effort to convince them to act with courage and vision once in office as it did to help them get elected to begin with. The Gulf oil disaster is an example. The Minerals Management Service, the Federal agency that bent the rules to allow the drilling to begin with, was riddled with Bush/Cheney appointees who’d spent their entire careers taking lavish gifts from the oil industry while granting them every favor they’d wanted. If McCain and Palin were in charge, we’d have “drill baby drill” until the shores of the Potomac were soaked with oil.
But many of us are also profoundly frustrated that Obama hasn’t been tougher in responding to this immensely challenging crisis. We want him to put the government in charge of the efforts to plug the leak. We want him and Congress to remove the oil-drilling liability cap so the costs of the disaster will be borne by BP, Halliburton and Transocean, instead of the taxpayers and the ordinary citizens whose lives and livelihoods are being destroyed. We want him to lead on shifting our economy away from coal and oil. We need to speak out on all of these issues and more, and find ways of pressuring Obama to lead, as when he recently advocated rolling back “billions of dollars in tax breaks” for oil companies and using the money for clean energy research and development. Yet the magnitude of the crises we face and the ambivalencies of his responses make it easy to write off the very possibilities of our doing this. By dismissing them because we want all our victories to be pure, we end up dismissing our own power.
When we do act, others may view us as heroic knights riding in to save the day, but we’re more like knights on rickety tricycles, clutching our hesitations along the way. Gandhi called his efforts “experiments in truth,” because successful approaches could be discovered only through trial and error. As I’ve explored, Gandhi himself was once so literally tongue-tied he could not get a single sentence out while advocating for his clients in court, and consequently lost all his cases. So we grow into our involvements and strengths, taking action despite all our uncertainties.
We might therefore characterize the citizens who make the most difference in this difficult time as people of imperfect character, acting on the basis of imperfect knowledge, for causes that may be imperfect as well and in circumstances they’d rarely have chosen. I think that’s a profile any of us could match. If the change we need occurs, it’s those who act for justice despite their doubts, limitations, and uncertainties who will ultimately bring it about.
Adapted from the wholly updated new edition of “Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times” by Paul Rogat Loeb (St Martin’s Press, $16.99 paperback). With over 100,000 copies in print, “Soul” has become a classic guide to involvement in social change. Howard Zinn calls it “wonderful…rich with specific experience.” Alice Walker says, “The voices Loeb finds demonstrate that courage can be another name for love.” Bill McKibben calls it “a powerful inspiration to citizens acting for environmental sanity.”
Loeb also wrote “The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear,” the History Channel and American Book Association’s #3 political book of 2004.
For more information, to hear Loeb’s live interviews and talks, or to receive Loeb’s articles directly, see www.paulloeb.org. You can also join Paul’s monthly email list and follow Paul on Facebook at Facebook.com/PaulLoebBooks
From “Soul of a Citizen” by Paul Rogat Loeb. Copyright © 2010 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin. Permission granted to reprint or post so long as this copyright line is included.
May 28 2010
Recently I have detailed the relationship that Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky and State Senator Russel Pearce of Arizona have with their Neo Nazi, white supremacist supporters.
That is why it was no surprise to me to learn today that Rand Paul told a Russian journalist that he opposes birth citizenship as protected under the 14th Amendment, or, as Russel Pearce calls it “anchor babies”.
We’re the only country I know of that allows people to come in illegally have a baby and then that baby becomes a citizen. And I think that should stop also.
Yeah, that’s called the Section 1 of the 14th Amendment
More below the fold.
Jul 22 2009
Those crazy “Birthers” are getting an awful lot of ink and air time lately, offering good comedy fodder for late night television while occasionally making regular people turn away in revulsion. Like the “Teabaggers” weren’t hilarious enough to use the name of a sexual weirdness as their moniker, or to publicize their racist rants and ridiculous charges against the President, after being the very same wackos who accused those who questioned any illegal act of the last administration of being traitors.
CNN commentator Roland S. Martin has a piece up today (July 22) entitled, Obama birth issue is nutty that proceeds to make good fun of the wingnuts. But since one of George W. Bush’s first serious actions as President after 9-11 was to arrange the biggest government overhaul since the New Deal – by inventing the so-called “Department of Homeland Security” – there are Americans out in the hinterland who are suddenly quite confused about their legal status. I’m one of them, and so is recent Republican Presidential candidate John McCain. Who, like me, actually wasn’t born in the United States of America.
McCain, like me, was a Navy brat. He was born in the Panama Canal Zone, I was born in the Philippines. There used to be a clear law on the books that held the children of American citizens born in a foreign country are indeed ‘natural born’ American citizens, even if they automatically get dual citizenship for the country in which they were born. I had that until I was 18, though after that I would have had to formalize, and I was never very fond of Ferdinand and Imelda “Shoe-Lady” Marcos. So I let it slide. Still, if nobody questioned McCain’s citizenship qualification for POTUS, the fervor with which wingnuttia rants about Obama seems even crazier. I mean, even if Hawaii hadn’t been a state when he was born, did not all Hawaiians receive automatic citizenship when it WAS made a state? It was a territory, after all. Like Puerto Rico. Which apparently some wingnuts in Congress think is a foreign country too, thus Judge Sonia Sotomayor can’t be a citizen either. Weird.
Dec 21 2008
The music is easy music but the underlying motivation for having posted it is one of great unease.
JeffLieber opined on DD that it is our own fault we have no influence on government.
THEY are avoiding us because they simply do not think that we — the FAR LEFT — can be reasoned with.
THEY believe, and somewhat rightly so, that we are much more interested in clinging to our self-righteous fury then in being able to manage our disappointments and seeking compromise so they show up when its time for the cash or the grass-roots jolt of energy and then disappear when it comes time to legislate.
THEY believe we are the extremists, no more “reality based” than those at Little Green Footfungus because every slight seems to wipe away YEARS of good governance on issues we care about.
I will counter below, as OPOL did brilliantly in his own counter-essay. I’ll let his delineation of the crimes stand. He said it perfectly, and spoke for me on that account.
We have to deal with these guys…and not by making nice with them. These people are dangerous. Our laws are meant to protect us from people like this, and we need to see that they do. This is no time to look the other way.
Do I want truth and reconciliation? No sir! I want trials and convictions. We can talk about reconciliation after we’ve settled a few accountability issues. How about someone taking responsibility for a change?
The video will tell you I’m not ready to make nice either.
Sep 10 2008
My beat around here is Global Warming and Energy. And, the choice come November could not be starker in these arenas (that is, at least in fact not media framing). The contrast could not be starker … across a wide range of issues.
Among these, John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin has added a searing issue to the table:
Do we want a separtist with easy access to the centers of power in the nation?
What would it mean to have a Vice President (likely President) sleeping with a separtist?
This question is essentially absent from the pages of traditional media.
Imagine if Michelle Obama were a registered member of the Black Panthers until 2002? Imagine the drumbeat of outrage that all Americans would hear. About Todd “My Guy” Palin’s separtist credentials? Crickets chirping in the night …
Sep 06 2007
I was bummed several years back when some stupid, racist, loud, Republican Texans moved in next door. (There goes the neighborhood!!) They put up a 15-foot flagpole right in the middle of my view up the valley – an otherwise “pristine” view. Do I hate my country? Am I patriotic? Me, I think nations and empires are ephemera – they pass in the blink of an eye compared to the mountains that snag rain out of the clouds and send it down to water the landscape. How we all live has, should have, to do with things much deeper than lining up behind a flag.
I asked them to move the flagpole. Offered to pay for it. The reply? A nasty letter from a lawyer. And they hoisted Old Glory up, and left it there for two solid weeks – day and night, through storms including a hailstorm. They were gonna show me! Violate the basic rules of respect for the flag to spite me!
Lovely, life here in the bucolic countryside.
A coupla years later, in 2003, we had a medium-sized forest fire nearby which flared up on the 4th of July. Named the Encebado fire, it was started by lightning and burned about 5,400 acres.