Below is a series of e-mails I sent to friends and family on political subjects. I couldn’t keep this just to myself and them.
We can’t go down the road Bush has pointed us toward. If we play dirty, we cease to be “America”—not the country, but the idea. I’m just realizing in reading Ben Franklin’s biography that America’s strength is not post-WWII, as I had previously thought. France saw America during the Revolution as a growing superpower, not just because of its population, but because of its moral position. America is an idea in the minds of the world that General Powell sees correctly as being endangered by our slide from the high ground.
“We are fighting for the dignity and happiness of human nature. Glorious it is for the Americans to be called by Providence to this post of honor” – Benjamin Franklin. Is the current administration really “magnifying” this call?
People say that we have to do what needs to be done to stay safe from “evil-doers” and terrrrists (phonetic spelling). Let me give a hypothetical: you are captured by Al-Qaeda and set down in front of a video camera. A man comes up behind you and tells you to spit on the American flag or he’ll kill you. Will you do it?
Ideally, every American should say no. But that is exactly what the Bush administration is doing, only to a more concrete extent. They aren’t simply desecrating a symbol of America, but they are undermining the constitutional foundation of America by secretly and overtly peeling back our liberties, making power grabs, unilaterally rewriting laws with “signing statements,” and generally undermining our moral authority in the eyes of the world. We should be absolutely outraged at what is happening. We’re America, dammit! (not a swear) America is bigger than any one of us, and bigger than all 300 million of us. The other 5.8 billion people in the rest of the world want to be us, while we sit around letting elected officials (supposedly working FOR us) slowly strip away what makes us US!
We’re still a city on a hill, but we’re no longer shining. We’ve been stained and dulled by our administration’s egocentrism, deceit, and willingness to sell the birthright of our country for a mess of pottage.
I don’t agree with Lou Dobbs much, but I do agree that there is very little difference between the two parties in general and that the political power in the country is indeed concentrated in the hands of the wealthiest. They are those who have access and influence (read $$) to the bureaucrats and policy-makers.
But if we don’t care enough to write to our representatives, can we blame anyone but ourselves? If the only input they get is from corporate America, then corporate America becomes their constituency. Write a short list of what’s important to you and send it to your Senators and Representative. They all have very easy e-mail interfaces on their websites that you can cut and paste a letter into.
(In response to a blog entry by Orson Scott Card): I agree with one thing he said: the U.S. should not pull out of Iraq and should not set a “timetable.” However, setting “benchmarks” would inform the public about the progress hoped for and achieved going forward, rather than subjecting us to W’s “just trust me” arrogance. Moreover, while the Powell doctrine of an overwhelming force and the pleas of generals on the ground call for more troops to start winning the war, the principal influential proponent of drawdowns has been, unfortunately, Secretary of War Rumsfeld; I guess he wants to make it look easy.
My biggest problems with what Bro. Card says are:
1) He describes the convolutedness of relationships in the Middle East and among global Muslims, then goes on to describe how everything would fill into place like a line of dominoes once W decides to take Iran. He can’t have it both ways; there can’t be all the complexity and complication he describes followed by the orderly “nary a shot fired” overthrow/subjugation of the ayatollahs he describes. There are so many loose cannons and unpredictable outcomes, that an Iran War could very easily end up being as bad as—or worse than—the Iraq War. Much of the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq is simply because the locals want them out; why would we expect anything different in Iran?
2) When did International law fly out the window? According to hundreds of years of tradition, a nation has no “right” to invade another sovereign nation. Pre-emptive strikes are “illegal.” Why do we refuse to talk, even one on one, with other nations? In my mind, the surest way to work through a disagreement or conflict is to sit down and talk through it. I understand the need for a show of solidarity and the cooperation of neighboring states. Maybe I’m naïve, but I think bilateral talks with Iran, North Korea, etc. in which the U.S. made its demands and priorities VERY clear would serve a lot better than imposing U.S. martial law on the Persian Gulf and feeding the perception that the whole issue is oil (which it may be).
3) The War on Terror (who will surrender when it’s “over”? – It’s like hitting mercury with a hammer) is NOT the most important issue for consideration in this election for the continued success of America—it is the wellbeing of the American people and the next generation, and the perpetuation of the ideals that have made America great. Terrorist attacks may (and probably will) continue to occur. Three thousand people may die in terrorist attacks every five years for the next twenty, but this will not do the damage that the social cancers running amok in the country will do. There are more people below the poverty line every year and fewer have access to welfare. One in three births (35%!) in the country is to an unwed mother. Wages for high school drop-outs are being outpaced by inflation. Technology is replacing human contact. We’re suspending the writ of habeus corpus. Our educational achievement slips every year in comparison to other countries. We’re saddling our children with a national deficit that will surely make our own tax burden seem feather-light. The “ownership society” that W’s administration so strongly advocates and enforces is surreptitiously eroding the foundations of the middle class. Neither party answers all these problems very well, but at least the Democrats acknowledge them. The Republicans have two election issues repeated over and over: (i) the War on Terror and (ii) tax cuts. The War on Terror is being badly prosecuted (although the Democrats won’t do better), and tax cuts will only put our children further into debt. In other words, the Republicans are so out of touch that even their campaign slogans—the easiest part of politics—are disastrous.
I don’t see any reason not to cast a straight Democratic party vote next week. I’ve listened to Ashdown and Burridge, and I prefer both of them to Hatch and Cannon. And don’t get me started on the Republican-controlled state Congress—they’re just plain idiots.
Look past the donkey; there is a new movement of Western Democrats (fiscally and morally conservative, socially and culturally liberal) that is growing. The model for this is, in my mind, King Benjamin. We have to take care of our own families, cities, and underprivileged; the widows and orphans; those whose hands hang down. We need to clean up our own yard first, then, rather than complaining that the neighbor’s yard is messy, help him clean his.
11/6/06 (Sorry about the ALLCAPS; it was to distinguish who was commenting in a plain text e-mail)
WE SHOULD NOT SURRENDER TO TERRORISM. BUT INORDINATE TIME, MONEY, AND OTHER RESOURCES ARE BEING SPENT ON SOMETHING THAT IS REALLY NOT THAT BIG A THREAT TO YOUR AVERAGE AMERICAN. DON’T BRING UP THE WAR ON DRUGS; IF YOU COMPARE THE WAR ON TERROR TO THE WAR ON DRUGS (THAT CAN BE OBTAINED BY ANY HIGH-SCHOOLER IN THE COUNTRY WITHIN 15 MINUTES IF WANTED) YOU’RE DIGGING A WHOLE FOR YOUR ARGUMENT.
YOU CAN’T LEGISLATE INTELLIGENCE OR MORALITY, BUT YOU CAN LEGISLATE EDUCATION, AID PROGRAMS, ETC. TO HELP PEOPLE MAKE BETTER CHOICES. IT’S MONEY SPENT BETTER THAN KEEPING THE BOGEY-MAN OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM.
THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON. THEY HAVE TERRORIZED PEOPLE INTO VOTING FOR AND SUPPORTING BUSH AND HIS CRONIES, WHICH WILL WEAKEN THE COUNTRY FROM THE INSIDE OUT, CAUSING THE EVENTUAL COLLAPSE IN A MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE AND PERMANENT WAY THAN FLYING PLANES INTO BUILDINGS COULD.
Has any research been done into the history of the “singing the Star-Spangled Banner in Spanish” issue before sending out this e-mail? It was an attempt, not to desecrate the song, but to make what America represents more accessible to more people; heaven forbid! No one wants to change the words to Spanish, or mandate that it be co-equal with the original version, or have school-children learn the Spanish version. They just want to share in America.
As one who has stood in an immigration office of a foreign country not knowing a word of what was being said around me, I sympathize with these people. It’s not like they refuse to learn the language! I work with people from all over the world. Some come to the U.S. and speak very good English within months, others struggle with it for years; some never come close to mastering it. And yet, they’re still good, productive people. In fact the two people I know who have struggled most with learning foreign languages are two of the most intelligent people I know. One is Chinese who has a MACC, is a vice-president at his U.S. firm, and is heavily relied on in his company for financial information. The other is from Arizona and couldn’t speak Spanish after living in Colombia for two years and later marrying a Spanish-speaking woman. He has a MBA and has worked with Fortune 500 companies in regional management positions (before he was 30).
Moreover, it’s a one-generation issue. The second generation is normally fluently bilingual, and the third often doesn’t know the language at all.
If intelligent, hard-working people are willing to leave their homes, brave the unknown, work horrible jobs, and endure the racism embodied by the email sent to make a better life for their children, I welcome them. Because the rest of us are getting too lazy, fat, dumb (in both its senses), and complacent to keep the country running.
My comments were not targeted at any particular race. They were targeted at the American, of whatever origin he be, who sits back enjoying his luck at having been born into a country where we consume four times our fair share while ignoring the situation of others and in fact getting angry at them when they try to get what we have. Their sweat is the oil that keeps our economy running smoothly. The GDP they add to the country FAR outweighs their drain on the education and medical systems. Do we have to pay more for education and healthcare because of them? Probably. Do we get everything we buy cheaper because of them? Absolutely! I believe immigration (even the illegal kind) is a net gain for the country. What if in January the new Democratic Congress 🙂 makes all illegal immigrants all of a sudden legal (besides the heart attacks that would befall Hannity and Limbaugh)? Then is the problem that you stated over? If the ONLY problem is the legality, then problem solved! Right?
I have a feeling that current opponents to immigration would STILL have a problem with it because it IS a racial issue.
It’s OK for us to say from the inside “let them come through the legal process.” It’s quite another to be facing a 7-20 year wait on a worker visa when you’re children are facing the same hard life you have had, and they’re watching “The O.C.” (or even “Malcolm in the Middle”) wondering why you can’t provide for them like that. There are only 5,000 unskilled worker visas issued per year!
You want the best for your kids; why would we deny anyone else the opportunity for the same? It would be elitist, selfish, and basically evil.
I’m guessing the MAJARUSHI is Rush Limbaugh. He’s one of the fear-mongers who keep the eyes of the people of this country off the real debates and issues. Have you seen those jousting games at county fairs where you put on a helmet, stand on a small pedestal, and try to knock an opponent off his pedestal with a padded bar? America is kind of like that, only we don’t realize that the pedestal we are standing on is weakening while we’re swinging away at the bad guys. We need to buckle down and strengthen America before we start trying to topple other regimes.
We need to save America from America, or in twenty years, the America we will have saved from the terrorists will not be worth having been saved.
Have you seen the parallels between the Gadianton Robbers and the external threats that face the U.S.? Have you seen the parallels between the letter Giddianhi wrote to Lachoneus and the messages that come from Al Qaeda et al? Have you seen what Gidgiddoni said when the Nephites said they should go out and attack the robbers (3 Nephi 3-4)? This is all very interesting to me; I’m not saying it’s a type or anything, but it’s VERY interesting in the light of what is going on. Long story short, The Nephites had to repent, sacrifice, prepare for a siege (they had a seven years’ supply of sustenance), and strengthen themselves and their fortifications. But what’s important is that their focus was on their own needs, faults, vulnerabilities, etc. I think the U.S. is currently in a similar situation. It’s easy to point at the bad guys and say they’re bad and we should get rid of them, but that won’t necessarily put us on the Lord’s side. It’s harder to say we need to buckle down, try to influence our fellow man for the better and wait patiently for the Lord to deliver us.
I agree; the immigration process needs to be generously liberalized. ICE should set up a pull system that solicits input from businesses establishing how many workers the businesses will need for the coming year. That way, the companies participating feel accountability in bringing people in. Any kind of a system would help in tracking and making sure that guest workers return home, companies are not exploiting workers, etc. Also, if the illegal subculture is made insignificant, criminal aliens would face a bigger challenge in the barrio because “legals” would not be afraid to work with law enforcement.
I don’t think necessarily that “if you allow anything illegal to happen over and over again, [we’ll] become a lawless society.” There are lots of illegal things that go on every day including things like extramarital sexual relations that don’t necessarily break down the rule of law. The rule of law breaks down when the law-making and -enforcing bodies of a government lose their legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry. Although we don’t like the Congress or the Police in certain situations, you don’t see a wholesale refusal to stop when a cop pulls up behind you and flashes his lights.
I think the first priority is deciding what to do with the 12 million here and the second is setting up a system for processing and tracking immigration. Securing the borders is the third priority in my mind.
I tried listening to Hannity last week, I really did! But he and Rush are demagogues. Their jobs are to preach to the choir. They are not fair, balanced, or even-handed. They are groupthink mediators—they don’t ADD anything valuable to the national conversation at all.
I’m not talking so much about the national anthem itself as I am about the closed-mindedness and knee-jerk fearfulness that leads to a reaction like the original e-mail. I agree with what you say. Unfortunately for Spanish-speakers, their access to Spanish in the U.S. is too abundant. They can watch Spanish-language T.V., buy everything in Spanish, go to businesses that hablan español, etc. But I don’t think many of them eschew learning English. They know it’s the path to better, less back-breaking, higher-paying, better-benefits jobs. It’s just not as easy as those who have never experienced learning a foreign language seem to think it is.
I think a big problem is that people are really bugged at not being able to understand what someone else is saying in a public setting. Everyone assumes they’re talking about me or my wife or how they hate America, etc. I think this fear of the unknown is a significant factor in people’s desire for a mono-lingual society.
I wasn’t aware that there was legislation in process to require the singing of “Nuestro Himno” at ball games, school assemblies, etc. Who is sponsoring the bill? Regarding who pays the cost for the translation of forms into Spanish, illegal immigrants do with their sweat that adds billions of Dollars to the economy each year. They MORE than pay for their forms. I don’t doubt that the Thais, Chinese, Koreans, Lithuanians, Russians, etc, contribute enough to the economy that they deserve translation as well. I’m sure a smart economist or cultural anthropologist could come up with a solid formula to figure out who, based on the number of immigrants and how many hours they work, should get translation.
You compare other countries to the United States saying you don’t find forms, national hymns, etc in English; it’s not a fair comparison. There are not millions of people clamoring to get into Thailand, China, Korea, Lithuania, Russia, etc. There are many, but I would bet (no empirical evidence) that there is a net migration loss in most of these countries, and that the loss is to the U.S.!
So are the ILLEGAL immigrants non-working, or are they taking good-paying jobs from American drop-outs? I forget. I see very hard-working immigrants every day, doing jobs you and I would never consider. I once got a résumé from a Mexican man who was an attorney back home and came to the U.S. to end up washing dishes and spraying out busses in the middle of the night. Why do they do it? It’s for the next generation, and I have to respect that.
Regarding the disaster of bilingual countries, just look at the walking failures of Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Switzerland (the highest standard of living in the world), Luxembourg (the highest per capita income in the world), Canada, Taiwan, South Africa, etc. I know Gov. Lamm cites some of them as potential disasters, but I disagree; most have made it through extremely tough times. The toughest time the U.S. has had was a rift of economic approaches: slavery vs. paid labor. That seemingly benign argument almost ended the existence of the U.S. No country will avoid rifts, some extremely emotional and even violent; and language may be a divisive factor in some arguments. But Gov. Lamm’s assertion that it would contribute to the downfall of a nation is pretty far-fetched in my opinion, especially with the rapid expansion of English. I think that in the next 50-100 years, everyone will speak English or Chinese, maybe not as a first language but in order to get along in the world. I think Gov. Lamm’s whole assertion will be moot in the linguistic future of this world.
So Gov. Lamm’s solution, as extrapolated from reversing his sarcasm, is to create a monolingual, intolerant, monocultural state that guarantees equality in education (and dropout rates); eschews aid to anyone in need who belongs to a minority; creates words for discussing problems but no opportunity to make actual changes because race, ethnicity, etc., cannot be made a factor in any policy-making; and discourages diversity. Nice place to live.
BTW, I’m pretty sure Chomsky threw up when he saw he was quoted at the end of this particular speech. He is ultra-egalitarian and, I believe, would not agree with Gov. Lamm’s approach.
I’ll be American (but I won’t deny anyone else that great opportunity), I’ll buy American (if the quality’s there; and thanks to immigrant labor, it will be a lot cheaper), and I’ll speak English (and patiently accept the fact that not everyone else who wants to share in the American dream speaks English perfectly).
11/9/06 (Again, sorry about the ALLCAPS; it was to distinguish who was commenting in a plain text e-mail)
WE ASK FOR THEIR HUNGRY, THEIR POOR, THEIR HUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE. IT’S PART OF WHAT AMERICA REPRESENTS. AMERICA HAS NEVER REPRESENTED (ALTHOUGH IT HAS OFTEN BEEN) AN ISOLATIONIST, THIS-LAND-IS-MY-LAND-SO-STAY-THE-HELL-OFF, YOU-CAN’T-HAVE-WHAT-I-HAVE-BECAUSE-MY-ANCESTORS-CAME-HERE-FIRST, COUNTRY. AMERICANS CONSUME FOUR TIMES OUR FAIR SHARE OF THE WORLD’S PRODUCTION. YOU’RE DONATING TO FOOD BANKS, BUT YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE YOUR DONATION’S NOT GOING TO SOMEONE WHO ENTERED ILLEGALLY, EVEN IF SHE’S HUNGRY?
BY THEIR WORK THEY 1) GENERATE JOBS FOR OTHERS AND 2) MAKE EVERYTHING WE BUY CHEAPER. FOR EXAMPLE, IF AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT WORKS IN A RESTAURANT, HIS EMPLOYER PAYS HIM LESS, WHICH MEANS HE CAN CHARGE LESS, AND ATTRACT MORE CUSTOMERS. THIS, MULTIPLIED BY MILLIONS, MEANS MORE RESTAURANTS TO ACCOMMODATE THE INCREASED NUMBER OF CUSTOMERS WHO SEE EATING OUT AS A MORE VALUABLE PROSPECT. THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME A NET GAIN TO THE COUNTRY AS A WHOLE. I don’t advocate paying illegal immigrants less than others, but this is the reality.
I ADVOCATE KNOWING ADDITIONAL LANGUAGES ALSO. THAT’S WHY I THINK IT’S GREAT THAT MY KIDS MAY GET TO RUN AROUND WITH SOME IMMIGRANTS AND PICK UP SOME SPANISH, THAI, RUSSIAN, ETC.
I COMPLETELY AGREE THAT THEY SHOULD ENTER LEGALLY, BUT THE SYSTEM NEEDS TO ALLOW IT. RIGHT NOW, THERE ARE ONLY 5,000 UNSKILLED WORKER VISAS PER YEAR (HOW MANY DOES THE AMERICAN ECONOMY NEED; A MILLION, EASY?) AND APPLICANTS WAIT 7-20 YEARS FOR ACCEPTANCE. UNTIL THE SYSTEM IS FIXED, I CAN’T RESENT THEM WANTING WHAT I HAVE; HECK, I WOULD IF I WERE THEY. I’M GRATEFUL THAT I’M AN AMERICAN, AND I DON’T THINK THAT OTHERS SHOULD BE DENIED THE BLESSINGS I ENJOY JUST BECAUSE OF WHERE THEY WERE BORN. I LIKE LIVING IN AMERICA, BUT I CAN’T BE PART OF THE “HOORAY FOR ME, TO HELL WITH YOU” AND “I DIDN’T PULL MYSELF UP BY MY BOOTSTRAPS, BUT I EXPECT YOU TO” CROWD.
Regarding your citation “Over 70% of the United States annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from immigration,” please read the following (from the U.S. Census Bureau) “Hispanics accounted for almost half (1.3 million, or 49 percent) of the national population growth of 2.8 million between July 1, 2004, and July 1, 2005. Of the increase of 1.3 million, 800,000 was because of natural increase (births minus deaths) and 500,000 was because of immigration” (http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/006808.html)
“Among the foreign-born population, 53 percent were born in Latin America, 25 percent in Asia, 14 percent in Europe and the remaining 8 percent in other regions of the world, such as Africa and Oceania” (http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/foreignborn_population/002341.html).
Therefore, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 38.5% of 49%–or 18.8%–of the national population growth is due to Latin American immigration. Which means that immigration from everywhere accounts for 35.5% of population growth–1/2 of what you cited. As Mark Twain said, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” You really shouldn’t cite evidently preposterous and obviously questionable information like this without checking it first.