May 01, 2006
Paying the Price
The Cost of Gas: Gas prices are up as a reflection of continuing, worsening instability in the Middle East and our foreign relations with oil-producing countries. People hiss "Conspiracy!" and demand relief. But the price of gas indicates that our free market economy works. So if you're a hard-core believer in capitalism, why all the bitching and moaning at the pump? Isn't that what this country is about, for some of us to get as rich as we can and to hell with everyone else?
Mission Accomplished: As for claims of conspiracy, how about an illegitimate war based on the tragedy of 9/11, a war foisted on the American people in order to settle a personal score? We have Saddam, but bin Laden and his followers are still on the loose. Iran and North Korea, known problem states, pursue their goals of nuclear power.
Iraq is in the midst of a civil war - pretending that it isn't doesn't make it so. Iraq has become an excellent training ground for Al Qaeda and other terrorists - because of us. Our invasion, our occupation, our setting loose the religious fundamentalist impulses that were kept under check during the Hussein regime, have made that possible. The United States is not into nation-building, but we believe in liberating people so that they can build their own nation. Whether that's peacefully or through civil war is for them to work out amongst themselves.
Illegal Immigration: On the radio this morning I listened as a DJ complained about his neighborhood La Fonda being closed today to express its support of immigrants who work in this country, legally or not. He warned listeners that some of our favorite eateries could be closed. He felt he was "paying the price" - that is, his neighborhood restaurant being closed - so that illegal immigrants and their supporters could go protest and make their voices known.
We all pay a price. Illegal immigrants depress the price of labor by being willing to work for less money. But their willingness to be paid under the table is what makes many products and services affordable for us.
Illegal immigrants may be illegal, but that doesn't mean they're subhuman. The accident of our birth in this country doesn't give us the right to look down on them, to be sequestered in our comfortable lives and make cheap jokes about rounding people up and shipping them off or shooting them. 'Cause that's soooo funny, right? To mock people who have to escape where they're from in order to make a better life for themselves and their families?
In my family, I am a first-generation American. My parents are immigrants. They came here, legally, for their higher educations. They could have lived decently in Thailand, but they wanted to come to the U.S. for its opportunities and they wanted their children to have good lives here. Their life has not been easy. They have been productive people. They have pursued business opportunities, with some success and some failure. In recent years they have each become a U.S. citizen.
There is no question that people should come to this country legally and take the necessary steps to pursue work and citizenship. But it costs time and money to do that - and if you are poor and jobless and your family can't sponsor you, are you simply supposed to accept that you and your family are doomed to a life of poverty and squalor? You do what you have to in order to survive.
Survival isn't some stupid reality-show concept - it's a condition of life for many, many people in this world.
Immigration reform does not mean just throwing up a fence and paying for a militia to patrol our borders. A guest-worker program is the best viable solution for dealing with the problem. Reform the system that people have to go through so that they don't sneak into this country and work undercover. There should be a penalty for people who come here illegally, but that doesn't mean something draconian. If people are in the system, they can contribute taxes, their children can go to school, they can get medical assistance instead of hoping the illness will just go away. Yes, we have to deal with this issue, as we must deal with many others, but simply because we are better off and comfortably situated - not necessarily rich - our comparatively lofty situation does not give us the right to be smug, clueless, hateful, heartless people.
"Unfiltered by Rational Argument"
After reading the text of Stephen Colbert's appearance at the White House Correspondence Dinner, I'm quite amused. But Lloyd Grove notes that the insider response to Colbert was rather chilly:
As for the after-dinner entertainment, the conventional wisdom was that Bush killed with his self-mocking routine — "The President was fantastic," gushed staunch Dem Patricia Duff — while the hired talent, Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert, bombed badly. "It was an insider crowd, as insider a crowd as you'll ever have, and he didn't do the insider jokes," said BET founder Bob Johnson.
No Heiress Left Behind
The title of this joint report from Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy pulls no punches: Spending Millions to Save Billions: The Campaign of the Super Wealthy to Kill the Estate Tax.
May 04, 2006
Wax 'n Facts Fostering Kittens
Read here about the kittens that were found in a bricked-up crevice between Wax 'n Facts and The Vortex in Little Five Points. It appears that someone may have abandoned them by dumping the kittens - determined to be about 4 weeks old - into the crevice! Apparently there's enough interest in finding homes for the cats but if anyone wants to chip in money for their vet care, a PayPal link has been set up.
May 10, 2006
Thank you momma for making me gold pants
Leslie has a myspace page, where you can hear other songs, including "Zombie Killer" with the jaunty chorus: Shoot them in the brains/ If you want to live / Shoot them in the brains / Even the little kids...
May 16, 2006
Something Isn't Quite Right
We came home and found Sheba walking in the grass, then saw that the back door to our apartment was wide open. Someone had jimmied the lock.
Sheba came when I called, dear sweet cat. I picked her up and brought her into the house. I called for Ginger but she didn't answer. Eventually I found her huddled behind the futon in our office.
Tabitha is somewhere in the back yard again. Hopefully when she's hungry enough she'll come around and we can catch her. Our neighbors know to look out for her.
The dvd player is gone. But the Tivo was intact, as were our computers, and basically everything else. The person(s) pulled out drawers and tossed their contents onto the floor. Nothing of any real value was taken, possibly because the apartment is in such disarray that it's hard to look for stuff that's easy to steal, easy to fence.
We called 911 and then our landlord. An officer came and we showed him around. He was frustrated because there weren't any good surfaces that could be fingerprinted. We pointed out the smashed window in the other half of the duplex - our landlord's apartment when he's in town. Doesn't look like anything was stolen from over there.
So we have case numbers. There will be repairs. Tabitha will come home, if she knows what's good for her. I think I'm still a little too surprised to be rattled, but I guess for a sucky experience it could have been much worse.
May 24, 2006
Standing Up to The Lemmings
I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell
and I don't have time
to go 'round and 'round and 'round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should
- Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready to Make Nice"
It seems easy for many people to get over their own poor behavior. But call them on it, and you're accused of dredging up the past and rubbing their faces in it. They go on the attack, instead of admitting they were wrong and offering an apology for their past words and deeds. Who needs people like that, whether in their personal lives, or as fans? If you have any respect for yourself, you cut them loose and leave them to fend for themselves. People who are willing to drape themselves in the flag ought to be willing to come home in flag-draped coffins. But that supposes people realize that words and actions have consequences. Perhaps that's giving most people too much credit.
Addendum: You can hear the Dixie Chicks song on their myspace page.
Tabitha continues to elude us. We catch glimpses of her, but she runs away whenever we try to get close. Last night, she was lounging on the front porch railing. I got out of the car and sauntered towards her, but she knew what was up.
I wonder if it would be possible to catch her with one of those traps the humane society uses to catch feral cats. Would she be gullible enough to walk into one if I put in an open can of cat food? Or would one of the other strays walk into it?
It's only been a week now. Trying not to worry. Mainly I'm just aggravated that she foils us again and again. For a fat aging cat with one tooth, she is pretty spry.
May 25, 2006
So last week we had the break-in. This week - today, in fact - we have the bomb threat. It's probably nothing, but Mr. Arkadin has had to leave the building while they send in the robot to deal with whatever it is.
I wonder if they make a robot that could catch my wandering cat.