Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Country, 'Tis of Thee

From: "John Tequila”
To: “Tracy”
Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 15:50:07 -0700

I thought this was kinda cool when I read it..
Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an
AMERICAN in 1907.

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
--Theodore Roosevelt 1907
Tracy wrote:

I agree with John

Slangwhanger-in-Chief wrote:


Thing is, if my ancestors (Y**** 1717, McC** 1860) had needed to act illegally to emigrate here, they would have done so. Because of when they got here, they just didn't need to. It is simply an accident of history that when they showed up on the docks, legal immigration consisted of somebody with a pen or rubber stamp saying, "Yep, you're here all right. That makes you legal."

It is only since the California anti-Asian panic of 1875-1900 (to which Roosevelt Minor was referring) and the reaction of 1910 against Eastern Europeans, Jews, Italians and altogether not-quite-white immigrants, that the US began imposing quotas on people. Since the quotas are always adjusted for domestic political reasons wholly unrelated to the human demand or to the economy, they are morally irrelevant and only dismally enforceable. In fact, they helped kill a huge proportion of the 6 million Jews murdered by Hitler.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand are the white countries most legally open to immigrants because they need population for economic growth. Vast though we are, I fail to see how we are any different. As we always have, we need everybody who wants to come here, for whatever reason, from whatever country, in whatever linguistic condition, with whatever skill level. If the world's largest economy cannot make use of such volunteers, then there is something wrong with that economy, not with the volunteers.

Of course it takes them a while to get used to being here. Maybe a couple of generations. Last autumn I thought about retiring to Bratislava, Slovakia. Beautiful city. Inexpensive. Vibrant. Civilized. I would have to bring my own money but, for an American, that is not as difficult as for a Slovakian. My desire to be there would have been sufficient legality, but even after I learned the language I would not have belonged. So what. All they needed was my money. And all we need from the immigrants is their work, their decency, their strength, their hope, and their desire to contribute to the future of the United States by having their children here.

You know even a monolingual Spanish-speaking first-generation illegal Mexican with no education, no money and no healthcare in the barrio of East LA is making a greater contribution to the US economy as a whole than are any or all the white millionaires in Hollywood. Because you know that poor bastard wetback is working, and you know that what they do in Hollywood, however profitable, no more meets the definition of work than does selling drugs nowadays or charging tolls for merchants to cross the Rhine by your castle in 1250 AD.

Now, if we would like to abolish the California agriculture sector, the mountain states sheep and mining sectors, the midwestern truck garden sector, the Florida orange sector, the Texas ranching, vegetable and cotton sectors, the northeastern corridor restaurant, taxi and hotel sectors and the nationwide construction sector of the economy, then all we have to do is start throwing every employer in jail who hires an illegal.

But immigrant-aimed prevention is despicable, daft and doomed. As Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano says, "Show me a fifty-foot wall and I will show you a fifty-one-foot ladder."


Monday, May 29, 2006

My Soldiers, My Veterans
--Walt Whitman

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.

Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
Immense and silent moon.

I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they are flooding,
As with voices and with tears.

I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.

For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.)

And nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd,
('Tis some mother's large transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)

O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.

The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Let Us Now Praise Obscure Men

The secret about addiction recovery that began to be revealed 71 years ago on June 10, 1935 in Akron OH (when Bill W. gave Dr. Bob his last drink to steady his hand during an operation) is twofold. Recovery comes through one addict talking to another, and both of them need to work at achieving what the old-style members of Alcoholics Anonymous called "ego deflation at depth."

The Twelve Steps are the means of the latter changes and form the basis of the former conversations.

The psychiatric model of addiction treatment is about as successful as the cold turkey, or Mao's "We will shoot you" methods; namely, hardly at all. The Twelve Step model has been shown to have the greatest success rate, but it is still in the range of 10%. Ten percent of the people who come in the door recover for more than five years.

Since roughly 10% of the population is addicted to alcohol or pharmaceuticals, out of 300 million Americans 30 million are addicts (higher if you count tobacco.) Twelve Step (AA and Narcotics Anonymous) membership is under 3 million. Probably something like 5% of addicts recover at best, lumping undocumented individual effort and psychiatry in with the Twelve Step programs for the moment.

But something has to be done. The enormous majority of people addicted to alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals die of their addiction, and die earlier than their cohorts. The human cost to children, spouses, families, friends and co-workers is vast, and the economic cost is hardly trivial either.

Thus even the relatively ineffective treatment models of psychiatry and clinics must be pursued until the human mind evolves a better course. The American Medical Association adopted the disease model of alcoholism in the early 1950s; AAs say the disease is mental, physical, and spiritual. In either case, addiction is an income-level-neutral killer and a public health menace greater than automobile accidents, AIDS and cancer combined.

The Twelve Steps are voluntary and based on self-diagnosis. "If you think you have a problem, you have a problem." Many psychiatric conditions, such as bi-polar and depression, substantially overlap the addicted population and render treatment more difficult, the Twelve Steps less accessible. Such diseases hinder or even prevent achievement of the level of emotional honesty required for successful Twelve Step work.

The charge of religiosity is often leveled at Twelve Step programs but results from a simple confusion. Religion is to spirituality as marriage is to sex: an attempt to institutionalize that which we all know to be wonderful. The Twelve Steps require an acknowledgment of a spiritual dimension to mankind's actions but specify neither the nature of any godhead nor the practice of any belief.

Far from discouraging personal responsibility as is often charged of the psychiatric model, the Twelve Step model cannot work without an early, and frequently repeated, influx of self-awareness as to consequences of one’s actions. And it is probable that the charge against psychiatry of enabling victimization is the result of exaggerated attention to one phase of psychiatric treatment without regard to those which precede and follow it.

Quasi-punitive, “Just butch it out,” attitudes toward addiction recovery are, however well-meaning, wholly counterproductive with individual addicts. Moreover, this approach inherently dooms any course of public policy that is based upon them.. In fact, it smacks more of religiosity (of Puritan Jonathan Edwards’ 1741 Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God type) than do the Twelve Steps.

In correspondence with Bill W. in the late 1930s, Karl Jung wrote tof his experience of chronic alcoholics in his Vienna practice. They were completely incurable, wrote Jung, until they had undergone a spiritual transformation. Then they had not only hope, but a means of going forward without daily doses of the substance that was killing them.

The Twelve Step rooms appear, empirically, to be more successful in inducing the amount and type of spiritual change necessary for altered behavior patterns than do the churches. To be fair, the churches are not really in the business of acting as agents of change, their original message having become dulled by time and dispersed by human slovenliness. Perhaps the same will be true of AA by the year 3935.

But in the mean time it does no good to blame either society for permitting, or the individual addict for adopting, the use of mind-altering chemicals (regardless of delivery sytem.) Lily Tomlin’s joke is also true in reverse: “Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.” Since there is little commitment whatsoever by business or government to the notion of improving reality, we have to work on people instead.

Psychiatry, treatment centers, clinics, Twelve Steps: no expedient is too shabby, nor is the cost of it too high, to be pursued in order to help individuals and society deal with the scourge of addiction. Use the shotgun method. Fire both barrels.

Just don’t stand around saying, “You missed,” as if that were a helpful rather than an inevitable observation.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jack Abramoff meets Robert Burns

This Robert Burns lament for the demise of Scots sovereignty must date from around the Act of Union of 1707, though the Slangwhanger-in-Chief's grasp of Burns' dates is limp at best. In view of the national disgrace brought upon us by the Republican culture of corruption, it has grimly been rewritten to reflect current conditions in the United States of America. Also here is a possibly-unsuccessful attempt to make available the haunting audio version of the original poem performed by ur-folk-rockers Steeleye Span (with Maddy Prior's voice floating atop the mix "like clouds over fields of May" to quote Patrick Kavanagh.)

By Robert Burns (as amended)

Fareweel to a' our freedom’s fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory!
Fareweel ev'n to the free man’s name.
Sae famed in human story!
Now cash rins over Congress’ land,
An' stocks rin thro’ the rich hand,
To mark where money's province stands --
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

What force or guile could not subdue
Thro' many warlike ages
Is wrought now by a coward few
For hireling traitor's wages.
The foreign foe we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station;
But lobby gold has been our bane --
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

O, would, ere I had seen the day
That Treason thus could sell us,
My auld grey head had lien in clay
Wi' Debs and loyal LaFollette!
But pith and power, till my last hour
I'll mak this declaration --
'We're bought and sold for lobby gold'--
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Aviator in the Dust

The Poetess-Priestess of Puget Sound sends the following reminder that we must never underestimate the public relations campaign powers of that genetic slime-pile known as the Bush Family.

His ratings abysmal, his reputation shattered, his staff under investigation, his political allies under indictment, his party in retreat, and still suffering from untreated alcoholism, anger management issues and attention deficit disorder, Preznit Bush Minor flounders from terminal ineptitude to theatrical emptiness with equal ease.

In an attempt to restore his popularity by appearing to thwart the worldwide spread of bird flu, the Preznit has now asked the Chiefs of Staff to develop plans to bomb the Canary Islands.

Turkey is next.

Florida After Polystyrene Flu Incursion

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ancient Days, Modern Times

The Ol' Perfesser, materially aided by one of his former students, sends the following observation, possibly in honor of the Feast of St. Isidore, Patron Saint of Farmers, but even if not, at least in coincidence with it:
A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. They do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.
-Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
The Ol' Perfesser did not need to draw any painful parallels to current events. Neither, alas, does the Slangwhanger-in-Chief.
And THAT Takes Care of the Manicheans!

The Austin polymath Lisa Jones reports as follows, adding, "Actually the subject I wanted to use was "Party like it's 1549", but couldn't remember the exact range of the Council of Trent. Damn that Medieval Studies degree!" (Ms. Jones does herself a disservice, as the dates of Trent are 1546-1573.)

The Pope's Astronomer is one hoopy frood.
Creationism dismissed as 'a kind of paganism' by Vatican's astronomer

BELIEVING that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday.

Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy, said a "destructive myth" had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies.

He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a "kind of paganism" because it harked back to the days of "nature gods" who were responsible for natural events.

Brother Consolmagno argued that the Christian God was a supernatural one, a belief that had led the clergy in the past to become involved in science to seek natural reasons for phenomena such as thunder and lightning, which had been previously attributed to vengeful gods. "Knowledge is dangerous, but so is ignorance. That's why science and religion need to talk to each other," he said.

"Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism - it's turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do."

Brother Consolmagno, who was due to give a speech at the Glasgow Science Centre last night, entitled "Why the Pope has an Astronomer", said the idea of papal infallibility had been a "PR disaster". What it actually meant was that, on matters of faith, followers should accept "somebody has got to be the boss, the final authority".

"It's not like he has a magic power, that God whispers the truth in his ear," he said.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Rightists Skewer Rightists as "Liberals"

Some may remember that in the world of Orwell's 1984 a statement could be designated, with no notion of silliness, as "double-plus un-good."

Apparently American conservatives have become so linguistically atrophied that they have only one word for bad: "liberal." Guess that's what happens to you when you keep rerunning Richard Nixon's playbook from 1948.

Or to shift metaphors to a more oil-based vocabulary, to the surprise of the speeding driver, eventually the rubber meets the sky. Then you have consequent loss of traction, a few moments of vastly more excitement than the driver ever wants to see, and a high probability of needing immediate medical, if not mortuarial, attention.

Now they are saying the trouble with Bush is he's a liberal, the trouble with those generals attacking Rumsfeld is they're liberals, and it was the liberals who lost the war in Iraq.

Here's an excellent examination of the phenomenon.

No, you can't make this stuff up.
Poem of Hope
Bush and Tony,
cool and clever,
there for ever.

So they thought,

got the push.
So will Tony.
So will Bush.

--Michael Swan, Cambridge, England