Sunday, June 30, 2013

Immigration Reform : Will the Republicans Find their Brain ?

My wife is an immigrant.  She and her parents fled  Cuba in 1985 under an agreement Ronald Reagan signed with Castro to release political dissidents.  Her parents were against the communist regime and they were legally allowed to come here to the US.   In true Hollywood fashion they were on the last plane out of Cuba before Castro changed his mind regarding the entire treaty, and halted any further flights out.  Janet and her family were fleeing political oppression.

Right now, we have 11 million "illegal" immigrants living in the US.  Many of them have been here for a long time and a huge majority are from Mexico.  More often than not they sneaked across our border with Mexico.  Most of them do jobs that Americans don't really want to do.  They were fleeing poverty.

Now there is a debate in Washington to reform what we do with these people that are here illegally.  The US Senate passed an immigration reform bill that  gives these illegals a path to citizenship.  As usual this has become a partisan (what a surprise !) issue where the Republicans have one idea and the Democrats have another.  To their credit, the Senate passed the bill with a decent number of Republicans siding with the reform bill, following the lead of the Republican darling, Marco Rubio- a Cuban-American many believe will be the next Republican nominee for President.

The Democrats are saying that we should help these people who are here because they've been here so long and it would be inhuman to not give them alternatives.  To which I ask "So, it's inhuman to live in Mexico?".  I don't think Mexico is Cuba.  Although it is not a rich nation, Mexico is still essentially a democracy where leaders are chosen by the people.  I hardly think it's inhuman to send these people back to their own country.    I can see where a person who is "Americanized" and has lived here all their lives would have a very difficult time of it,  but I don't think "inhuman" would be an effective adjective.  I'd buy "cruel".  But, the law is the law., which is the position that the Republicans have taken.  They are saying they are here illegally so we need to form a process of removing them to their country and keep any more from coming in.  Although they've learned not to take the Hispanic voter lightly, I think they still essentially want them gone... or at the very least, controlled.  They see them as a threat to their  power because these people tend to vote Democrat and they are an enabling part of the "victim" mentality that they say (albeit, quietly)  has infected our country.

The problem is that the process of executing the law would mean rounding up people all over the country and driving them back across the border.... 11 Million !  Not only would it be logistically impossible, but the vision of people being herded onto buses to be "transported" is eerily similar to the Jews of Europe being loaded onto trains for transport to concentration camps.  Is it the same?  Of course not, but the visual image would never be tolerated in the United States.   The fact of the matter is, the horse is already out of the barn.  We have to come up with another way.  What the Republicans really want is impossible.

So,  neither side is going to ever get exactly what it wants.  Isn't that how it should be?   What bothers me is the Senate has done their job and come up with a viable solution (although wrapped in the red tape that any bill today offers), at least it is action to correct a problem.  That is something that has been missing in Washington for some time now.  There are no good solutions to problems, only the talking points of the right and the left as they jockey for political advantage on the talk shows.  With this bill, there are concrete avenues to address all concerns.  Now I fear we will watch as Congress modifies any action to the point where solutions are debated into oblivion.  I hope I'm wrong, but I anticipate the house of representatives turning into another political "freak show" featuring the Tea party and it's unbending attitude towards any solution.  If it's not written exactly the way they want it, then it's a "no go".   We need the Republicans to offer effective arguments against the left wing.  Anything other than the shrill tantrums we see from the Tea Party.   I'm so tired  of never hearing of an effective solution from the right.  They need to start compromising with the situation and stop wishing they could run the entire show.  They must accept their weaker hand in the today's political environment or their stubborn positions will make them even weaker.  Once again, they'll be seen as the party of "no", and they just might wind up being the party of "no power".

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Letter to the Editor: Saving Florida's Springs

Right now, in the state of Florida our natural springs are starting to spawn blobs of algae because of pollution running into the Florida Aquifer (an underground river of fresh water).  Our state government is doing nearly nothing to stop the pollution and it causes me great embarrassment as a Floridian.  Much of the opposition to protecting our natural resources comes from the "Tea Party" wing on the Republican party which runs our idiotic state government.  The Republicans have really lost their way.  The environment use to be one subject that both parties could agree on, but the Democrats have taken the high road on this one and once again the Republicans are coming off as "pro" big business, and "anti" pretty much everything else.  Anti-environment, anti-small business, anti-science, anti-progress,  anti-immigrant, anti-gay, and anti-fair elections.  They have absolutely  no new ideas to help anything and all they seem to consider is what they can do to make the Democrats' life miserable.  

Here in Florida there is a spring fed river called the Wekiva River.  This river is slowly dying and the scientists and environmentalists agree that it's just a matter of time.  So, what is our Republican led congress doing about it?  Nothing.  Hence, a editorial from the Orlando Sentinel which I fully agree.  Below is the letter I sent and that was published in today's Orlando Sentinel opinion page.  

Leaders see Wekiva dying, do nothing
Thanks for the Sentinel editorial on Wednesday focused on the appalling lack of urgency demonstrated by the St. Johns River Water Management District officials, as well as our leadership at the state level, regarding the slow death of the Wekiva River ("State officials fiddling while the Wekiva dies").
I found it ironic as I drove down Interstate 4 recently and noticed the slogan for Seminole County: Florida's Natural Choice. Maybe it would be more accurate to add "for blobs of algae."
Our leaders throw open the floodgates with corporate welfare to all manner of big business, but they cut out bike trails and environmental protection because they say we can't afford it.
Interestingly, these things we can't afford are the issues that most benefit small business and the individual citizens of the state — both present and future.
I hope all of these leaders are preparing answers for their kids and grandchildren when they're asked one day what they did to help Florida's ailing freshwater springs back in 2013.
An honest response will be, "I saw it coming. I had the power. I did nothing."
Charles E. Marshall Clermont

All citizens should  write their  Congressman and demand they start doing something to protect our springs and other fragile natural beauties throughout the country and even the world.  They are robbing our children and grandchildren of something very special and perhaps essential to the future of our planet.    

In my humble opinion.