An American Iron Curtain

We are creating an American Iron Curtain

US Mexico border fence with barbed wire

When I was a boy growing up in the sixties and seventies, the only places we got our news was radio, TV & the newspaper. Being young, I wasn’t much on reading because I was having a difficult time learning the language. English is not the easiest language in the world to learn. Some of the rules still don’t make much sense, so, as a kid, I mainly just stuck with TV, and even then I wasn’t much interested in the news. Grown-up TV was scary.

The John F. Kennedy assassination, then the Bobby Kennedy assasination, Martin Luther King & Malcolm X murdered too, the Vietnam war, Watergate, the civil rights riots, the Black Painters.

And that was just in this country.

The news coming out of Russia was even scarier. People who disagreed with the government disappeared, the KGB was out to get everyone, The Gulag or forced labor and torture camps sounded like hell on earth,  their highly censored media, and severely restricted travel and career paths. Our freedoms were as countless as the stars at night and you could thank heaven for growing up in this wonderful country.

For a long time (all throughout the Cold War) it seemed as if our whole national identity revolved around how superior we were to the Soviet Union, the number 2 world power at the time. We compared ourselves to Russia in almost everything: who had the most gold medals in the olympics, the first man in space, the first satellite in orbit, the first man on the moon, the most nuclear weapons. . . and of course, we compared our cultures; we had freedom– they didn’t.

In America, you could go anywhere you wish, freely, and without restriction.  In the USSR,  you needed travel papers before leaving your state, or entering another. In the USSR if you were born into a farmer’s family, you would grow up to be a farmer too. In America you could grow up to be whatever you wanted to be.

In America our society thrived on diversity. We imported some of the best minds from around the globe and became a super power because of it. In the USSR their lack of diversity, and their rigid control of everything, kept growth, innovation, and prosperity to a minimum.

berlinwall

In the USSR there were very scary structures like the Berlin wall, that symbolized their leader’s fear of freedom and transparency.

This wall served two physical purposes:

  1. To keep their own people in,
  2. To keep meddling westerners and their ideas out.

The wall had social, emotional, psychological and philosophical effects on those living on both sides of the border too. Families were separated, many people were unable to return to their jobs or their homes, and the desire to leave grew more intense for those who found themselves trapped within.

In the USA we can come and go as we see fit. The world is our playground.

iron-curtain-europeIn the sixties and seventies we were told, in school and in the news, that people trying to get in or out through the Berlin wall were shot and killed by guards in towers. They had bright search lights to find people trying to get in or out in the dark of night. The images we were shown were cold and loveless and this wall, as well as all the other walls set up to segregate the west from the USSR, were given a cold and loveless name, “The Iron Curtain.” Just the sound of it coming out of the TV was enough to create nightmares in your dark and silent room at night. This was definitely something we would never do to our people.  This wall was evil, and so were the controlling ideologies behind it.

It was something that should be stopped.

Growing up in the USA may have given me a slightly biased point of view regarding much of what we were told and shown, but many of the facts were quite visible; such as the Berlin Wall itself, its guard towers, search lights, and armed guards, barbed wire, dogs, minefields. A lot of thought, time, energy and money went into the creating and maintaining of this security system.

Today I find the news equally as disturbing as when I was a child. Millions of Americans are living nightmares that we are creating for ourselves. We are building a fence between our country and Mexico for many of the same reasons the Russians did in East Germany and all along the Soviet Union’s borders with NATO countries. Today we are deploying more than just armed border agents, some dogs and a big fence. We also have ground sensors, spotlights, double walls separated by many yards of open space, barbed wire, and even drones. There is talk of sending the National Guard to the border. The techniques of the past with the weapons of today.

We are spending more per year on border security than in any other single government agency. We aim to keep people out of our more prosperous nation and protect ourselves from the percieved negative influences of Mexico and beyond.

us-iron-curtain

We, too, are dividing families and communities that once moved freely back and forth from Mexico to the US and back again. Many migrant workers who used to come north during harvest season and go back home to Mexico when the harvesting is done, are now forced to either stay here in the US for fear of not being able to return to work when the picking seasons start up again, or stay in Mexico and search for new places to live and new means of sustaining the family.

Going back to the early sixties and seventies and the Berlin wall, even with all of the money and effort and labor that went into that fortification, it was far from 100% effective. It is said there were around 2,000 people who escaped through the wall. There were always people looking for ways to get something in, or smuggle something out. It is estimated that around 200 people were killed trying to escape.

So far, aside from the anonymous postings of hateful cowards, few people have publicly said they were in favor of shooting people trying to immigrate to the United States like they did in Germany and in various other countries in the Soviet bloc. “Joe the Plumber”  is a notable exception, and some so-called Patriots on the Mexico-American border. Herman Cain spoke of electrifying the border fence, but he quickly back-pedaled when called on it.

Someone should tell Joe, Herman, and all those “Patriot” nuts at the border that the Berlin wall has come down. It was viewed as a testament to the failure of Communism as well as the relentless attraction of Democracy, a sign that all men seek freedom and self-determination as a meaningful and important part of human nature that cannot be separated from us by any man made object.

President Ronald Reagan gave a speech shortly before the wall was taken down. He criticized the wall and pushed for its destruction. In that speech was a simple philosophy behind such idea:

“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.”

6/12/87 President Ronald Reagan

That would also mean it would be analogous to say prohibiting human liberty would be anathema to world peace, too.

Are the anti-immigration reform people opposed to World Peace, because a good part of their platform doesn’t seem to support that idea very much.

The old Soviet Union is far from the only country that tried and failed to overly control it’s citizens. There are many other examples of a failed fortified stance against immigration/emigration.

Every day there are news reports of security breaches in the Israel-Gaza wall, the Egypt-Gaza wall, and once in a while someone infiltrates or escapes from North Korea.

No wall ever built has been 100% effective at keeping people in or out.

berlin-wall-soldier

The great wall of China, arguably the largest, longest living, and most expensive border security barrier ever built, failed to keep many invaders out. It is a living testament for the entire world that erecting barriers to keep people out of one area or another does not work, and it stands as proof positive that you can spend all the money you want and take centuries to build something, but you still won’t prevent the entry of people who are determined to get in. Not even the walls and moats surrounding relatively tiny pieces of real estate, such as castles and forts kept people out who were highly motivated to get in. We have tried for aeons to fence things off and keep people out or keep them in. Prisons have escapees. Alcatraz was hugely successful, having a strong current and  hundreds of yards of bay surrounding their fences and guard towers, yet a few people escaped from there too.

Even if we were to figure out how to build an Alcatraz like system all along the 2000 miles of border between the US and Mexico, and even if we had the money to build it, that is not the only access point that is vulnerable to people wanting in or out of our country. We have airports, shipping ports, thousands of miles of coastlands, as well as our border to the north with Canada, and our Hawaiian Islands as well as the thousands of Islands in and around our country. It would take generations of Americans working full-time and many trillions of tax dollars to fortify all of our access points. It would take untold billions of dollars to install security systems capable of monitoring every person’s movement, and billions to install devices on each citizen or visitor within our country to ensure they have a right to be here.

Which brings up a very important question: What would a 100% secure America look like? Prison? East Germany? The Gaza strip? Israel? Would you want your children to grow up in a place like this? Would you want to live in even a colorful, sunshiny prison? Where would we vacation, on a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by high fences with concertina wire and armed guards in towers with spotlights at night?

If the old USSR isn’t a good enough reminder for us that isolation is a nation killer, we will surely follow in their footsteps, walling off our nation and isolating ourselves from much of the outside world, stifling innovation, killing our economy and relegating us to the land “formerly known as the USA.” We will have to watch as a new super power emerges to lead us into the 21st or 22nd century.

Is this the legacy we want to leave behind?

us-medico-border-barbed-wire

Do we want to be known as the generation that lead to the end of our status as the leader of the free world?

If you would like to prevent this from happening, please enter your email address and become a part of the movement that seeks to end this un-American ideal. Join me and the thousands of other people working to ensure we leave a healthy, vibrant country to our children and grandchildren. They will thank us for it.

 

Rick Perry– Immigration Zero

Texas Governor Rick Perry is sending the National Guard to help stop refugee children from reaching our borders.

So, let me get this straight, he’s using an army of 1000 National Guard troops to stop little children who are escaping drugs, gangs, exploitation and death, and sending them back to the horror they are escaping. And he’d like to rewrite a law that allows them to come here–a law approved and passed by a Republican president.

So this makes him a good person? How? What on earth could be going through is mind?

Would he like to stand there and slap every little kid in the face for even thinking about coming here and escaping death too?

How far can the Republican party sink?

And the Democrats. . .

Where are the screaming and energized politicians voicing their strong opposition, ridiculing them for such poor judgement? Silent too eh? With leaders like these, America is in a world of shit. What more can be said?

At least Nancy Pelocy has the cajones to stand up against this ugly threat.

Sen. Jeff Sessions- immigration zero

Sen. Jeff Sessions is this week’s immigration zero.

Senator Sessions is a Republican from Alabama, and he has organized a movement in opposition to the GOP leadership’s (short-lived) immigration efforts. This guy is working overtime to combat immigration reform. Clearly an immigration zero. We need less people like this in office and more people willing to take a stand and help fix our country’s problems. Immigration reform has been an issue for decades and too many politicians, like Sen. Jeff Sessions, have stood in the way of progress, keeping our nation in chaos and controversy.

 

The Republican gift that keeps on giving

Republicans refusing to discuss immigration reform is the gift that keeps on giving. The Wall street journal, a conservative publication itself, ripped the Republicans for promising an immigration compromise, and then promptly denying its even possible.

I don’t know what the fuss is all about. I’ve been saying the Republicans feign interest in immigration reform when they need to, but then retreat to ultra-conservative party lines when the rubber actually meets the road.

In standard Orwellian fashion, the Republicans have shot themselves in the foot again, this time not even waiting until the end of the term to announce that immigration reform will not happen this year. That shows America they planned to sit on this issue, no matter how much it divides the country, until they think they can get it done the way they want it to get done. The old Republican refusal to negotiate stands as true today as it ever has.

Gridlock in Congress? The Republicans may well try to blame the Democrats, but I don’t thing they’re fooling anyone. How can anyone buy the “we refuse to negotiate and it’s the Democrats fault” excuse? Do the Republicans really think we’re that stupid?

I try to be impartial about politics in general. I don’t really care one way or another about Democrats or Republicans–Neither of them can seem to get anything done. What I do care about is what is being said, who is saying it, and how does that affect my family, and millions of other Americans like me, when it comes to keeping us all together. If the Democrats, or Peace and Freedom party, or the Green party, or anyone else, were pulling all this refusal to fix this system crap, I’d be angry at them. It just so happens that the majority of the stalemate in Washington, at least when it comes to the immigration fiasco, has Republican fingerprints all over it.

 

Republican congressman Bob Goodlatte- Immigration Zero

Republican congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia has drawn a line in the sand

by repeatedly stating he will not vote for any immigration reform that leads to a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country.

He told a town hall meeting in the Shenandoah Valley in August, 2013, that,

“the House must chart its own course on immigration even if it never results in a bill President Barack Obama can sign.”

To further clarify his point, he said that,

“he’ll do everything he can to ensure the House never takes up the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill, which includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.”

If you read the full article you will see he also places the blame for not passing immigration reform squarely on the Democrats by stating,

“The folks who want to have a path to citizenship have held everything else hostage.”

So, by his rationale, anyone who insists on something being in the future immigration reform bill is holding the legislature hostage, doesn’t that also apply to the Republicans for having the exact opposite position? After all, if you state you “will not vote for any immigration reform that leads to a path toward citizenship, and are going to make sure the House never takes up the Senate bill,” aren’t you, by the same standard, doing the exact same thing? And by refusing to put the Senate bill to a vote, isn’t that just like shooting the only horse in the race? It is, after all, the Democrats, along with a few Republicans, who have been working tirelessly to propose an immigration bill that the Republicans could get behind. All the Republicans have done is refuse to bring it to a vote.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn- Immigration Zero

Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Republican from Tennessee has shown his support for the Conservative Republican platform. He values the enforcement of dysfunctional laws over compassionate reform.

During a town hall meeting the congressman was asked by an 11 year old girl if we should allow her father to be able to stay in the US. His answer was not very compassionate, but he garnered cheers from some in the audience, and he was pretty happy with that. Keeping families together is apparently not a big priority for the Republican party, which is contradictory to it’s stated “Christian family values” platform. Someone needs to tell this guy what the value of an American family should be, and then ask him, “what would Jesus do? He obviously is just along for the ride on the Republican “Tea Party”  train, which puts punishment before reform. See the interaction HERE.

Steve King Advocate for no change

Steve KingSteve King has promised to vote no on any immigration bill that comes to the House of Representatives. He says he is also bringing a bunch of other Republicans with him.

Didn’t he learn anything from Mitt Romney’s defeat?

He says he has organized a small but growing number of conservatives who are committed to voting against any House immigration bill—no matter what it says—because they fear that the Senate will inevitably find a way to add “amnesty” to the equation.

King doesn’t tell us how many members he’s got on board. Some insiders say it’s somewhere between 20 and 70 members. Even at the low end of that range, it’s enough to prevent any Republican-led immigration bill from passing.

It is thinking like this that has perpetuated a dysfunctional immigration system for over fifty years.

This is one politician we don’t need next term.

John Boehner- Leader of Dysfunction

john boehnerAs Speaker of the House no one has more responsibility for the performance of this institution, and it has been noted that this has been the most impotent government in our history.

He has lead us to the brink of the “fiscal cliff” last year, and into a Government shut down this year because of his party’s desire to defund the Affordable Care act. We didn’t ask them to do that, they came up with that all on their own. Somebody needs to tell them we didn’t elect them to be dictators. This congress has not only been ineffectual, but downright harmful.

As far as immigration goes, for months he has said he will not bring the bill that passed through the Senate to the floor of the House of Representatives, stalling something that has been long in the making and heavily watered down by his own party. His refusal to participate in something that our country desperately needs is shameful.

Should he be allowed to do this all over again next term?

US Immigration Reform PLAN A Conclusion

Before we finish there needs to be something addressed here that is not in the US Immigration Reform PLAN A ideology.

Some of the conservatives in the audience will notice there is no mention of border security in this bill. There are two very sound reasons for this:

1)   The border is more secure now than at any time in our history. More resources, money and manpower have been shifted to the border than during any other time in our history. As a result of our extensive efforts to stop people at the border, we are apprehending a record low level of  people not seen since 1971.  People crying about securing the border before working on any new immigration bill are really just stalling. No border in the history of the world has ever been 100% secure, and our border with Mexico has never been more secure than it is right now.

2)   When you focus on compliance and making it easy and financially accessible and ultimately highly beneficial for everyone to participate, the need for prevention will be greatly reduced. As compliance passes 80% the need for our current border forces will also be reduced, and the remaining force’s day to day activities will shift to rounding up drug runners and criminals, as all those who have nothing to hide will rather do things the easy, inexpensive, legal way. Catching fewer people should be easier than trying to stem the tide of a million immigrants a year, so our border security should even increase, while we reduce our expenses and shift our resources where they will be needed most.

If we begin here, we can begin to create a program that is good for the both the US, and the immigrant, is weighted more towards benefiting us, can be easily (relatively speaking) setup and maintained, won’t cost us anything, and quite possibly help us monetize and protect a resource of income, spending, and taxes, as well as protect and nourish a great part of our communities and culture.  With the emerging markets producing vastly more competition around the world, we could use all the help we can get. Immigrants of all kinds are needed to keep us leading the world in engineering, innovation, economy, and quality of life.

     Lastly,

The only thing I loathe more than censorship is hateful comments that contribute nothing to the conversation. The only comments that will be removed are the hateful, non-helpful ones, (trolls) and people who love to post the same comment over and over and over and over and over. . .

Please remember, any jerk can complain, and most usually do, but only those who genuinely care about helping, will offer suggestions as to how to make something better.

We need to hurry. Congress could surprise us and come up with something sooner than later. If that happens, the compromises that inevitably will find their way into the bill will likely cripple it, and hinder any future progress we might otherwise enjoy.

So tell me, do you have confidence in our government to put forth a well thought out, truly beneficial and successful bill that will propel our country forward for years to come?

Join the conversation now, before we have to suffer through what congress manages to cobble together, for the next thirty years.

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Step #4 of the GOP grieving process: depression

The Republicans have officially entered the depression stage of the grieving process and are feeling the dark loneliness that often accopmanies depression. According to a recent pole, 25% of Republicans don’t even like their own party. This admission, coupled with the rumblings of possible change to a more “modern” political ideology, as well as a few early admissions of outdated views by the party from some of it’s more liberal members, and it is clear that a cloud of despair hangs grimly over GOP members, when thinking about their future.

 

Recently, the GOP tried to tell us they are fundamentally conservative, but they should also consider other viewpoints in order to stay intact. This is exactly the kind of backpedalling that is signaling a huge identity crisis within the party. Older party leaders who still view this country with an eye towards the past vs the younger party members who look to the future. This could be the perfect time to realign the GOP platform’s ideology with the rest of America. I know it’s sometimes difficult to admit when you’re wrong, but if you really listen to an argument, if it makes more sense than your own, it could be time to consider changing your position on the subject, not just agree to disagree.

 

One example of the GOP being wrong is on it’s attitude towards Gays and their actively advocating second-class status for a group of Americans because they don’t agree with their lifestyle. It’s okay not to want to be gay, but it’s not okay to treat people with less respect and offer them less in regards to human rights, than currently offered to the heterosexual citizens they do agree with.

 

Bringing this same view to immigration, as the GOP continue to postpone progress towards new legislation that will give our de facto citizens real legitimacy and therefore access to basic human rights, they will keep these workers and neighbors under protected, under represented and over exposed to abuse. If  these same GOP members were to view this type of behavior in another nation, they would call it discrimination. If they didn’t like that nation, they may even call it oppression. They might even call for it’s immediate end, and possibly call for sanctions to be imposed until it did.

 

Our country has been evolving into a much more democratic society for over two hundred years now. Our progress on human rights has been a slow, gradual process, and the Republicans, by no means, have been the only ones at fault. We have enjoyed fits and spurts of human rights progress, coupled with major setbacks, such as: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and it’s subsequent Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act of 1943; the Braceros program in 1949, and it’s subsequent “operation wetback in 1954.” We have been working towards achieving the high standards of human rights we set before ourselves, and push for our earthly neighbors to achieve, for a long time now. Surely we understand the difficulty in surmounting the many obstacles that have kept us from reaching our own lofty ideals thus far.

Standing in the middle of the road and shouting down progress will not give much life to anyone’s political future.  This is what happens when you do the majority of the talking and relatively little listening. This is sometimes called: drinking too much of your own Kool-Aid. Every once in a while, even the most successful politicians need to sit at someone else’s table and see what they are drinking.

 

As my mother used to tell me, “Try it, you just may like it.”

 

And if, for some reason, you do find that the opposing views make more sense than your own, changing sides does not have to mean failure. It could just mean that you are now on the side of the winning. It’s hard to be depressed when you’re winning.