Sunday, December 30, 2007

Texan of the Year?

The Dallas Morning News, a BELO publication, has decided to select the Illegal Immigrant as the Texan of the Year. Now maybe I am just naive, but it seems that someone who is here illegally isn't really a part of the fabric of the society. I am tired of the naivete that fuels this politically correct rhetoric and I think we should all DEMAND that the candidates address this issue. If you think this doesn't impact you, let me clue you into a few facts.
-Illegal immigrants use public health facilities, often giving bogus names for services. This means that if they use false ID, the people with the real identity end up having to deal with the mess. In a 20/20 episode last year, people who crossed the border were bombarded with offers for fraudulent documentation before they had even left sight of the border.
-The average live birth costs $7K. Dallas' Parkland Hospital has the highest live birth rate in the country with upwards of 70% being to women who are undocumented. How many of those bills do you think get paid? And if the users don't pay, who do you think gets stuck with the bill? (Hint: Taxpayers)
-City and county taxes pay for infrastructure, education and services based on the total number of residents in existing housing. When you have older properties managed by absentee landlords, you end up with multiple families living in single family homes. So the rate for supporting things like police, streets, water and schools are divvied up where they actually pay less per person than the other residents. Add to that the fact that having multiple families in single family homes drives down home values making taxes rise just to cover current expenditures. Now add to that the fact that these are often in older communities where retirees count on their home as their main asset. Can you imagine the double heartbreak of seeing sinking values and rising taxes?
-Security is perhaps the most serious issue. In state public schools every teacher, every volunteer is required to have a criminal background check. Yet school districts seek to save money by contracting services for food, tranportation and maintenance. The service companies allegedly do checks, but who is monitoring this? And even if they do checks, I have heard many of the hired staff at my school discussing how they avoid being caught by ICE. This isn't secure or safe.

In short, this is an issue that the candidates want to go away. Tancredo is out, but I still have hopes for Thompson, who seems to be the only guy interested in holding people to some standards. Mark my words, there are going to be activists pushing for illegals to vote simply because they are here.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Primary Season: Strange Days Indeed

Part of the primary process is the winnowing of many candidates down to a few. This is becoming a truly odd primary for several reasons. First of all, Iowa and New Hampshire, for all their small town charm, no longer represent the vast middle American political spectrum. Back in the day when we were largely a rural economy with manufacturing centers, the combination of having largely rural Iowa and New Hampshire primaries calling the shots made sense. In a period when most of us live in or around large cities, the views of these small and most homogenous states don't reflect the concerns that hound most of us. What does an Iowa farmer know about the influx of illegal immigration on the economy of border states? What does a New Hampshire resident understand about the increasing need for improved infrastructure throughout regions that would swallow their small state in size? We are a federation of states, each supposedly with our own needs but with fair representation, allegedly, in Congress. So why then do we continue to put such blind faith in the caucus process in states that have so very little to do with the larger problems of urban centers that are remote to them? A better case could be made for having California or Florida as the first primary because at least there the mix of voters would better represent the nation as a whole. Instead what will happen is that candidates will gather and attempt to appease the voters in these two small states. In doing so, they will address things like education, healthcare and social justice-all areas in which these two states express a great deal of interest. Very little will be said regarding the war, taxation, spending or the other bugaboos that haunt states later in the primary season. After these first primaries, it is expected that candidate will drop out. I have my own ideas about that. As I see it, Obama wins Iowa and Clinton wins New Hampshire. The Republicans are a toss-up, with Giuliani being the compormise candidate. I am kind of curious if someone like Thompson might make it a floor fight OR possibly break from the party and run as an independent. Wouldn't it be interesting to see Thompson/Leiberman ticket? Now that would tick off both major parties, but at the same time could throw the election to Congress. I don't think that's a hot potato they want to handle because the ensuing political fallout will make Gore's hissy fit look like a hiccup. Strange days indeed.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Democrat Legislation Proposed

Sorry-I couldn't pass up the opportunity. This clears up so many questions about a great deal that is going on in our society. I got it from an email, I don't know the original source, sorry.

New Democratic Legislation Proposed

"The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA)

WASHINGTON, DC - Congress is considering sweeping legislation which will provide new benefits for many Americans. The Americans with No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

"Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society," said California Senator Barbara Boxer. "We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing."

In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed to the success of the U.S. Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack any job skills, making this agency the single largest U.S. employer of Persons of Inability.

Private-sector industries with good records of nondiscrimination against the inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry(68%), and home improvement"warehouse" stores (65%). At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has agreat record of hiring Persons of Inability (63%).

Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million "middle man" positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given,to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability into middle-management positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the AWNA Act contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Non-abled-banning, for example,discriminatory interview questions such as "Do you have any skills or experience which relate to this job?"

"As a Non-abled person , I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them," said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan, due to her lack of any discernible job skills. "This new law should really help people like me." With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Senator Ted Kennedy: "As a Senator With No Abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her adequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Explained

While we celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukah, Eid, Solstice and other winter holidays, I think it would be good to remember that religious tolerance-the freedom to worship publicly as one chose without persecution-is a fairly revolutionary concept and one of the cornerstones of our Constitution. Our nation, by and large, was founded by and for people who sought exactly this type of freedom.

While on the surface, "Twelve Days of Christmas" appears to be a child's counting rhyme, its meaning is far more serious. Starting with Henry VIII's separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church in Rome, Catholics faced increasing scrutiny and persecution in England. Many were arrested, tried, and some even executed under laws that forbade Catholics from writing, teaching or practicing their faith. "Priest Holes" can still be found in older estates where ancestor hid clerics and the faithful from arrest. Children and adults could be taken and it was a dark time for many. The hardest problem was teaching children their religious lessons without endangering the adults or children involved. Codes were employed set in rhymes and set to a popular tunes of the day-so popular that the seemingly nonsensical lyrics were heard in pubs, the palace and in public without any knowledge of the real meanings!

Here are some of the "codes" as explained-
-Twelve is the number of days between Christmas and Epiphany.
At that time every Christian child was taught that pure love only came from God-so this "true love" was the ultimate Gift.
-A mother partridge lures enemies away from her next at her own peril-sacrificing her own life as did Christ for us.
-Two turtle doves stood for the Old and New Testaments.
-Three French hens were something that would be found in a rich or royal household-a meal fit for a king and represented the Three Gifts of the Magi-gold, frankincense and myrrh.
-Four calling birds represented the Four authors of the Gospels that "call out" the story of Christ. So Matthew, Mark, Luke and John became the "calling birds" of the song.
-Five gold rings tell of the first five books of the Bible-known as the Pentateuch or Torah-also known as the Law of Moses.
-Six geese a-laying might sound funny, but eggs were the symbols of new life and creation, six being the number of "days" in creation and so the laying of the geese was representative of God moving his hand in creation from the void.
-Seven swans a swimming speak directly of the seven spiritual gifts or gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in St. Paul's writings. Prophesy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership and mercy were qualities that Catholic children were taught would move easily through their lives if they walked with God.
-Eight maids a milking represented the common man and the number was significant in that it stood for the Beatitudes.
-Nine ladies dancing were the graceful embodiments of the gifts of the Spirit-love, joy,peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
-Ten lords a leaping were the Ten Commandments. Lords were supposed to be just and honorable-servants of the law.
-Eleven pipers piping were representative of the eleven faithful apostles-remember, Judas betrayed Christ.
-Twelve drummers drumming was a reminder of the "Apostles' Creed" which contained a dozen different elements that were meant to be part of a Catholic's daily walk with God.

PS. I guess I should explain a few of the linked illustrations. Some are serious, some are funny. The Nine Ladies is a rock formation that evidently has a large number of supporters, but I had never heard of it before I googled it for the photo. And the one for Four Calling Birds, was just funny, admit it.

Have a Merry Christmas and leave a prayer on your pillow for those who are hurting, lonely or in pain. And if you use the "free giftwrap" at bookstores, donate something. I went to Borders at two and the ladies for the Lewisville Animal Rescue had been there for awhile wrapping and hardly anyone donated. C'mon, it's Christmas. Or as my mom always says "it's jewels on your crown in heaven...."

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Remember What It's All About

I just wanted to take a minute to remind people that life is so very fragile. That fact is being brought home to some kids in our area on a daily basis. It's a lesson that is hard to learn because teenagers think they are invincible. Believe me, they are not. Watch the news and see how many YOUNG kids are dying far too early. We aren't supposed to outlive our own children. That's not the way life is meant to work. Yet it seems that today life is cheap on so many levels. It has to end.

With that in mind-it's time for adults to step in and BE ADULTS.
Stop using your kids to fight with your exes, stop putting kids in the middle and stop the relentless self-indulgence and put your kids first. I am tired of hearing stories of mommy's new BMW paired with the stories of how sick kids aren't permitted to get sick because adults make the decision to buy gadgets rather than health insurance. (And yes, this is a true story....and sadly there are many more....) Stop being so self-centered, your kids are suffering.

For all of our arguing and dissension, the words we write or speak to someone today, may be the last words we speak to them at all. Try listening rather than planning the next words that come out of your mouth. Give up the witty repartee and the sarcastic riposte for meaningful conversation. Say things with conviction and follow through with your promises. And pay attention to other people. As my mother told me "you are not the bellybutton of the universe." With that in mind, be kinder, be gentler. Be cognizant that during this time of year, there are people who suffer in silence. A kind word, a giving gesture, a phone call for no reason, could make a difference. While we should consider these things every day, I think our lives have become so frantic with connectivity and gadgets, we sometimes forget what is truly important. Take a moment, reach out and make your little corner of the world just a little bit sweeter.


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Oh Christmas Tree!

It's been my job, and my pleasure, to decorate the Christmas tree since I was six or seven. There's something comforting about selecting an ornament, recalling its history and putting it in a place of honor. There have been years that it was painful, such as the year after my Dad's death, and years when it was joyous, such as my childrens' first Christmases. When I was small, during the holiday season, I would lie under the Christmas tree looking up through the branches at the lights and dreaming of the things all children hold dear. I remember the smells of fresh pine and bayberry candles, fudge-the real deal beaten with a wooden spoon, cooling on a plate and beating fondant unto a white mass of gooey sweetness. There have been years of sadness as well, but it's the sadness that carves out space for more joy.

We've made concessions over the years. We used to go to East Texas and cut down trees with the kids, but they have moved away to school and none of us really have time to spare for an entire weekend trip, although I wish we did. We also have a fake tree because frankly, the scenes I have seen of tree fires have scared me to death! One concession I haven't made is on ornaments. Ours is not a designer tree, which chichi matching ornaments and just so garland and white lights. Sorry. Ours is a hodge podge of handmade and collected ornaments-most of which that I can't bear to give away. There are the collected ornaments that my kids have gotten every year. We have alot of cars and puppies and angels on our tree. There are also handmade ornaments from when our kids were small. I just can't give away or toss out the lovingly made wooden clothespin reindeer or the trees trimmed with glitter. And then there's the star. The first Christmas we were married, there just wasn't money for a tree. So we found one on Christmas Eve that a company threw out at the end of the day. We bought cheap ornaments at Pier One and I illustrated a star for the top. We still use the star. It's ragged and torn, but like every other ornament it holds our memories, good, bad and all the areas in between.

So how do you decorate your tree? It's really a very individual task. I use tiny ribbons to tie on the ornaments because I hate those nasty wire hooks. Here are some more questions-
-Star or Angel on top of the tree?
-White lights or multicolored?
-Constantly glowing lights or blinking?
-Different color ornaments or the same?
-Garland or icicles?
-Lights going around the tree or up and down?

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