Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

Post-mortem of a speech to Congress…

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

In some dilating time machine or Mr. Trump’s parallel universe, ages have passed since he gave that speech to Congress. In real life, it was only a week ago—can you believe it? Everything he said is meaningless now, so dissecting that rambling rhetoric of a delusional man is anti-climactic. But let’s do it anyway because the president left the Twitter-sphere long enough to sound presidential and hide his narcissistic psychosis.

It’s curious that the media, after the president declared them to be the “enemy of the American people,” fell all over themselves to state that his “state of the union” (read: state of Trump’s parellel universe, that one that circulates among the dark energy and matter of his mind) set a new tone. Il Duce was even called presidential because he sounded presidential. But not for me—he’s not my president! He never will be my president, and isn’t the president of a majority of the American people.

What I heard was empty rhetoric reminiscent of Goebbels’s 1930’s propaganda in Germany—in other words, fascistic spin and appeal to populism playing on the fears of good Americans. His handlers, Bannon, Conway, and Miller, who take turns at the puppet strings—yes, he’s a marionette, even stringing himself along—carefully planned this atrocious display. If it was some crazy attempt to reach across the aisle, Dems won’t buy the snake oil from this charlatan, and didn’t—the thumbs-down from the Dem women in white were refreshing and evidence for their general mood—Trump the misogynist is women’s rights worst enemy. Narcissus the Wonderful shows no concern about women’s issues—we know he sees them only as objects—and on abortion, he’s as much a right-wing bigot as they come.

Let’s consider a few points. On trade, Trump might have sounded a wee bit like Sanders. There’s a huuuuge difference, though. Both men were born in Brooklyn, but the two are light years apart—Trump might actually live in one of those other multiverses where his marionette strings are tangled with those of general string theory. In particular, where Bernie was an earnest and honest champion for the working class, Il Duce doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about their plight—it’s all just show. He follows the time-tested fascist strategy of pretending to do so, of course—that’s how Franco, Hitler, and Mussolini came to power in the 1930s! U.S. workers should be wary about buying anything from this snake-oil salesman. Pay attention to his false promises at your own risk!


Apocalypse redux…

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Redux = brought back, revived. We’re talking about the apocalypse again. Apocalypse is the event. While a dystopian society can cause it or be its aftermath, post-apocalyptic is reserved for the aftermath. There is a resurgence in these themes now. Everyone knows the reason: what’s happening in the U.S. right now as well as across the world has frightening parallels with 1930’s Germany, Italy, and Spain as well as with the darkest days of the Cold War. There’s nothing religious about this apocalypse.

Most dystopian, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic tales in the past were associated with the two world wars or the Communist threat. Brave New World was dystopian; Ape and Essence was post-apocalyptic. Even The Time Machine was post-apocalyptic. 1984 and Animal Farm were dystopian. Later sci-fi novels like Not This August were post-apocalyptic. Many classics can be found in these subgenres. Many soon-to-be classics like Wool are too. They all are warnings about what could happen. It’s common that interest in books and movies in these subgenres reflect troubled times in the world.

The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the world. As that hand on the Doomsday Clock inches toward midnight, these sci-fi subgenres become more popular. Some readers ignore them, burying their heads in the sand by reading schmaltzy romances and fluffy adventures that avoid most serious themes of any type. Which group is right? Beats me. I just tell stories. If one of them comes out apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, so be it. Almost all my stories have serious themes, though, but not all of them are in the aforementioned subgenres.


When will the world become colorblind?

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

I’m a child of the sixties, and I shared MLK’s dream. I believe he saw racism and tribalism as a more generic and endemic problem in human society, though. At least I interpreted him that way, and I still worry about America and the world not being colorblind. That concept is more generic too. Race and ethnicity go far beyond the color of our skins. Differences in religious beliefs and sexual orientation creep in too. After all, colorblindness is seeing the world in a neutral, non-judgmental fashion, considering every human being as a unique person who we judge on their merits, not by their race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender, and sexual orientation. If this were ever to happen, hatred and bigotry would be thing of the past.

Sometimes discrimination and prejudice are hidden. When I was in Colombia, I saw them hiding among white members of the political, powerful elites in the center of the country; darker skinned “immigrants” from the poor, coastal regions (both Atalantic and Pacific), called by the neutral term Costeños but rarely treated in a neutral fashion, were often victims. I’m sure Colombians thought they were a colorblind society, but, as a child of the sixties observing their country, I recognized their problem if only because America’s is so much worse. Even before the sixties, my father often spoke about the lack of a more generic form of colorblindness I speak of—Armenians talking about their holocaust during World War One; Japanese grocers referring to their internment during World War Two; Jewish deli owners talking about friends and relatives murdered in the Nazi’s death camps, the worst holocaust in world history.

The huge waves of immigration in the 19th century created a ghetto mentality in America that can be seen as an extension of Reconstruction after the Civil War leading to bigotry and hatred unleashed against blacks that still remains. Tribalism is part of our evolutionary heritage—in pre-history tribes protected their members from other tribes. In modern history, they still do. A ghetto foments racial identity through tribalism. Blacks might say that they’re beyond that. I’m not sure. Everything from TV sitcoms like Blackish (why is tribalism funny?) to Kwanza (do we need an all-black religious observance?) to all-black frat and sorority houses to all-black churches—all this screams tribalism to me, a scientific observation with nothing pejorative intended. The same phenomenon occurs for Hispanic and Asian culture. If there’s a Puerto Rican Day parade in NYC, why not a Black History parade or Southeast Asian parade? If Univision and black TV channels exist, why not Jewish channels? If a campus has a Black Culture Center, why not an Irish Culture Center? These manifestations of ghetto mentality show the absurdity of tribalism in America. Pride in and celebrating one’s cultural heritage, or lamenting it, should never stand in the way of constructing a colorblind America and world.

I have no problem celebrating America’s diversity. I certainly do so in my books; they represent my public face to the world now. But I’m serious about my belief that we will not solve the problems of this nation and the world until they are colorblind in the more general sense. Progress has to be made from the top down as well as from the bottom up. Discrimination and bigotry of any kind cannot and should not be institutionalized by governments or corporations. And persons in their individual family and work lives should eschew any ghetto attitudes that can lead to discrimination and bigotry. We’ve all seen photos from the International Space Station. It’s one world, folks, we’re all in this together, and we’re all human beings desiring the same thing—food, fresh water, good-paying jobs, decent housing, education for our kids, and other basic human rights.


BREXIT, isolationism, and tribalism…

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

BREXIT passed and Trump extolled it; SCOTUS’s 4-4 decision (i.e. no decision) left a lower court’s rollback of Obama’s exec orders about immigration in place; radical Islam’s homophobia in Orlando is echoed by America’s religious leaders; and Islamophobia and xenophobia are part of America’s 2016 electoral debate—all this is evidence of old bigotry and new isolationism in America and the world. BREXIT supporters, who maybe had a dream of being the next Switzerland (not going to happen!), or were yearning for Trump’s wall, or wanted to return to the days of the mighty British Empire (many of the world’s modern problems stem from policies of that Empire)—one woman said that Churchill must be smiling in heaven—are swept up by these riptides of right-wing bigotry and isolationism, a tide so powerful that a member of Parliament was gunned down in London. Trump supporters are going down that same yellow brick road, lemmings heading toward the cliffs of political insanity.

The economy is global, stupid people! Globalization is here to stay. Either you get on board that express train, or you’ll be left behind. Others, including the multinational corporations, will wave the finger at you as they that train continue into the future. You can’t really isolate yourselves. Corporations know this, so isolationists are just playing into their hands. Where political unions and governments fail, corporations will step in. The Swiss success story is only about their government in the sense that Switzerland has always catered to corporate interests, including the banking industry. Britain and the U.S. can only duplicate that success story by giving their corporate interests, including the banking industry, more power and the same privileged treatment. Voters should think more than twice about what they wish for. Those maws of industrial greed and Chinese-style capitalism don’t care where the next meal comes from. And those same frustrated voters, mostly poor and middle class, will continue to suffer, the middle class will continue to disappear, and the human condition will continue to deteriorate.


The poor and middle class take it on the nose…

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

No matter the results of the general election, the following is true: the 99% are the losers once again. Bernie Sanders offered the best chance for us I’ve seen in my lifetime, but the anti-democratic Democratic Party establishment has won. Bagpipe dirges should be sounding for the poor and middle class.

In many ways, they are victims of their own ignorance. The Clinton dynasty, the official representative of the establishment this time around, has sold itself as champions for opportunity but hasn’t delivered. Indeed, if historical evidence can be extrapolated to future promise, they NEVER will. Blacks who swallowed their load of cow manure and denigrate Mr. Obama by calling Billy Boy, the first black president; Hispanics who don’t realize the Clintons have another agenda, and it really doesn’t help them; and women lost in the “first woman president” craziness—these groups deserve their fate.

Younger voters might be more resilient to this slap in the face by the Dem establishment. Traditional no-shows at election time, they’ll have good reason to continue that practice—the anti-democratic Democratic Party remains controlled by the 1% just like the GOP. The oligarchy won yet again in America and can crawl into bed with the one controlling Russia.  We’ll also soon join Europe in its turn to the right because of terrorism and their immigration problem (building a wall is NOT the soluiton!), and there’s a good chance that the right-wing nut with anger management issues will soon control the nuclear codes because insanity seems to be the norm this election season.

Not that the Clintons show much more restraint than Trump.  When it came to restraint, Hillary voted for invading Iraq. When it came to inaction, we have husband Bill showing too much restraint by refusing to go after bin Laden et al after the FIRST WTC attack, and Hillary letting people die in Benghazi. After sixteen years of the Clinton dynasty, and twenty-four+ years of Clintonesque ineptitude in foreign policy, that email fiasco, while grating (any worker-bee public servant dealing with classified material would be in jail for what she did—her main defense being that Powell did it too!), seems insignificant relative to their laissez-faire attitude about American deaths overseas. Trump doesn’t have any solutions, but he’s right: Hillary should learn to say “radical Muslims”!


Seeing things in black and white…

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

[Mary Jo Melendez wishes all her Mexican friends–and anyone into the south-of-the-border spirit(s) (love them margaritas)–a MUY FELIZ CINCO DE MAYO!]

Many people complain about the political polarization in America.  I think the polarization goes far beyond politics.  People now see things in black and white.  “Either you’re for A or you’re against it,” or “Either you’re for A or B,” have become the SOP of U.S. societal discourse.  No one wants to bother with nuances.  A is either all good or bad.  A and B are exclusive choices, and you can’t consider parts of A and B as positive.  That’s a bit abstract, so let’s consider examples.

All corporations are bad (or good).  This often takes the form of “socialism is good; capitalism is bad,” or vice versa.  I find it amusing that simpletons on both sides of this issue chant these slogans at rallies and political conventions.  Communism is a debunked ideology that never worked, of course, as years of five-year plans and state control in the Soviet Union showed.  The Iron Curtain didn’t fall because of Reagan or the goodness of capitalism either—it fell because the government systems were gray and theirs was black.  Good capitalism drives creative innovation and produces products that can improve people’s lives.  It needs regulation and control, though, because it can easily turn fascist, as in Nazi Germany and Communist China.

And yes, the abuses should be punished.  The idea that a bank is too big to fail and that people responsible for our financial collapse in the first decade of this century shouldn’t be prosecuted is unconscionable.  That applies to the Clintons as well, who helped the GOP dismantle all the controls put in place after the Depression, including Glass-Steagall, which kept those banks from becoming too big to fail!  I add Apple, Facebook, Google, and other tech companies to this list of miscreants who put profits over citizens’ safety, of course.

Government control is bad (or good).  Government working in partnership and regulating corporations can act in favor of common people.  Through taxation, it can level the playing field—diminish the income gap and provide benefits for everyone.  Germany has even shown that it can regulate and control healthcare without even providing it—a healthy partnership between government and health insurance corporations that works for the German people.  Neither socialist nor capitalist, it’s a gray choice, not a black and white one.  Obamacare could have worked that way, but too much was given away to insurance and drug companies that continue to scam the American public—that control thing again.  A single payer system is required, but that doesn’t mean that the healthcare providers have to work for the government.


Irish Stew #51…

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016


Panama Papers.  I love it!  “Never trust a politician,” my father used to say.  The leads from that little law firm in Panama will end the careers of politicians around the world.  Iceland’s PM has already resigned.  Syria’s Assad and Saudi Arabia’s king are on the list, as well as the UK’s PM, Putin confidants, Chinese leaders, other personalities, plus 1000+ American companies.  Of course, the danger is that someone like Putin’s oligarchy or the Chinese fascist-communists won’t go down without dropping bombs on everyone.

Of course, what’s missing in the news analysis of this is who’s going after the law firm for doing this.  I suspect the Panamanian government is so corrupt it won’t do anything…just a hunch.  It’s a bit like NYPD narcos going undercover to arrest heroin users and not the dealers.  Who’s more culpable?  World leaders who pay for the services of the Panamanian law firm or that law firm?  The answer is easy—both are culpable.  Until someone goes after those who organized this criminal activity, though, it will keep happening.

What rankles here is that we have allowed these shenanigans to be legal, for the most part, just as President Obama says.  Tax evasion might as well be part of both party’s planks, certainly for the GOP with its coddling of the one-percenters.  Bernie Sanders, are you listening?  Here’s another item to put into your stump speeches.  Maybe we can’t make it stop in the rest of the world, but we can certainly pass legislation to make it stop in U.S. corporations and leaders.

More on the Saudis.  In a letter on the op-ed page of the NY Times (4/6), a group fighting for the Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act took askance to the Times’s article basically championing U.S support of this corrupt theocracy.  This group echoes what I’ve written in these pages: the Saudis are accomplices of al Qaeda and ISIS in the sense that their brand of Sunni Islam, which they support in their theological schools, supports jihad against infidels.  I quote from the group’s letter: “We struggle to understand how financing the murder of 3000 people [9/11] equates to ‘closely being allied with the United States’ [quote from Times article].”

I was in the Boston area during 9/11 when members of the Saudi royal family fled the U.S., knowing full well that they were aiders and abettors in the worst terrorist attack on American soil—most of those 9/11 terrorists were Saudis who graduated from those schools.  Shame on the Times for disrespecting those murdered in 9/11.  Shame on the U.S. for supporting this corrupt regime!  Let’s get that afore-mentioned act passed.  And let’s release those 28 pages about the duplicitous and murdering Saudis that the U.S. government declared top secret in the 9/11 report (those pages are the last chapter).  Presidential candidates, are you listening?


Bernie and the Daily News.  When asked how he’s going to break up big banks and prosecute those responsible for causing the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression, the Daily News implied he has no clue.  Wrong!  He said it clearly.  His administration can do something, but he needs stronger laws passed.  Let me remind everyone that there were laws that protected against bank shenanigans of this type.  Bill Clinton, collaborating with the GOP, got them all eliminated.  Glass-Steagal and other Depression-era legislation was stripped away ON HIS WATCH!  That’s damning indictment against the Clinton dynasty.  Of course, that most elite rag of the scandal rags that papers the bird cage floors of NYC apartment dwellers couldn’t analyze things that far.


Contrary opinions…

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

[I have many of them.  Some people are afraid of having them.  Political correctness often trumps logic and reason (will “trump” become a politically incorrect word?).  I always follow Vonnegut’s curmudgeonly style in my op-ed posts—I say what I think.  You might not like it.  You have a few options: call me out in a comment—no foul language please—or go somewhere else, and/or write your own blog!]

Where’s the big picture?  Einstein supposedly said that only two things are possibly infinite, the Universe and human stupidity, and he wasn’t certain about the Universe.  His statement isn’t as generally applicable as Sturgeon’s Law, though.  The modern formulation of Theodore’s statistical observation for the here-and-now (the future might be worse) is that 90% of everything is crap.  Seems to apply well to human beings and subgroups of the same species (the NRA’s percentage is even higher).  Small minds focus on one or two issues.  Pro-life v. pro-choice, guns (or not guns), black lives matter, Wall Street is bad (or good), immigrants are bad (or good), privacy trumps public safety (or vice versa), Putin is a danger, GMOs are bad (or vice versa)—pick any issue and you will find millions focused on that one issue.  What about the big picture?  I’ll consider all that were just named.  They fit in my big picture.  Do you have one?

Reproductive rights.  I can’t see why it isn’t a general principle that people can’t decide what to do with their bodies.  Certainly no man should be able to tell a woman what to do with hers.  Yet old SOBs get off on controlling women’s reproductive decisions.  The scriptures say the woman should be the faithful servant to the man, don’t you know?  The scriptures say life is a sacred gift from God, don’t you know?  Never mind that the scriptures were written by old men in the days when women were just considered property like cows and sheep.  Never mind that those same old men would wage war on other old men and then victoriously kill off all their enemies’ women and children or enslave them like warring tribes of chimps.  Anyone who uses scriptures or God to back up their argument is highly suspect.

Venezuela’s Donald Trump…

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Do you want some proof that ideology doesn’t matter?  (I’m referring to a previous post about ideologies and their nefarious hold on some people’s lives.)  Just consider Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan dictator who inherited Chavez’ mantle and calls himself el Presidente.  Sure, he won an election.  But, if you believe he won it fair and square, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.  The man’s not quite the thug that Chavez was, and he’s more stupid.  In his defense, he’s ruling at a bad time—the country’s in an economic mess because the only thing they produce is light crude—Texas tea, black gold, whatever you call it.  When the price of the barrel hit rock bottom, the economy tanked.

Maduro’s ideology is socialist Marxist—that’s being nice and not calling him a Communist.  He believes in that debunked ideology, especially the part about dictatorship of the proletariat.  In that respect, he’s Chavez’ disciple.  Like Chavez, he’s a tyrant, and now, a despot in trouble.  As is usually the case for despots in trouble or even in general, they maintain their power by denying every vestige of democracy they can.  Elections are rigged; favorites are rewarded and enemies disappeared; and the despot is always in search of good scapegoats as diversions from the real problems.

Maduro uses those techniques, not as ably as Chavez, but the example is followed.  His major scapegoats come from the U.S.  Those yanquis are the evil ones in the world.  Obama is the Devil and his administration the Devil’s minions.  It used to be he blamed the CIA for unsolved murders.  Now he’s gone closer to home—he blames Colombians.  They’re now the culprits, those guilty of killing three Venezuelan soldiers.  They’re also guilty of bringing down the Venezuelan economy.  So, he had to take action.  He’s deporting Colombians.  Sound familiar?


Irish Stew #44 (special bonus post this week)…

Monday, September 21st, 2015

[Note from Steve: This is a catch-up list of news items I’ve been wanting to comment on.  Better late than never, I suppose.  Cherry pick those of interest.  Comments are always welcome.]

Item. The Syrian migration.  Syrian refugees are flooding Europe by the tens of thousands.  Initial compassion has become tempered with the realization of the magnitude of the problem.  Germany, leading the way in accepting the refugees, has now reinstated border controls, stranding many along the long line from Syria through Turkey, Hungary, and Austria.  Croatia, once criticizing Hungary, has now closed its borders.  And they keep coming.

The refugees—many families or shards of families—were willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money, risk their lives crossing the sea in flimsy boats, and trek hundreds of miles in hopes for a safer future away from the Syrian Civil War and the brutality of ISIS and Assad.  Austria and Germany don’t have the funds nor the space for all of them.  Poorer countries, like Hungary, wash their hands of the problem and put the refugees in concentration camps reminiscent of World War Two’s.

France shows its lack of compassion, still obsessed with their mishandling of immigration issues.  England, still feeling safely protected by that English Channel, makes compassionate mewings but does little.  The problem is showing the weakness of the EU system with its lack of central authority and extreme states’ rights bottleneck that makes ours seem tame in comparison.