Nov 27, 2013

A Liberal Citizen to President Obama: Push for Immigration Reform Now!

President Obama latest staged speech on immigration was interrupted by an attendee who yelled, "our families are separated," referring to the record deportations under the current president. Obama gave a b.s. answer that he has to follow the law, and that he still needs the immigrant communities behind him to change the status quo. He's obviously playing a political card in order to keep up the support these people have overwhelmingly given him and the Democrats.  But, it's his timid and ineffectual approach that hasn't changed the status quo.

Mr. president, he law is broken, the whole immigration legal framework is broken, plus any law that is applied without discretion is probably an unjust law. You have applied other laws with prudence and restraint, like when you decided that the feds wouldn't harass the citizens of states who have legalized marijuana--against federal law.

If there's no criminal conviction, the deportation of parents of US citizens (children born here to undocumented immigrants) is unconscionable, as the deportation of many others who have roots and are productive in their communities. It's a shame that we--most of the blame goes to the irascible Republicans in the House--haven't passed the DREAM act and legalize those children who were brought in the US without a visa but this is the only country they know. On this, the president issued an executive order to stop the deportation of these children or those who were brought into the country as children. So, why did he do that?...  [The Immigration Policy Center is definitely worth a look as it has a comprehensive, issue-by-issue, approach to immigration in the US]

So, Mr. President show some leadership and get comprehensive immigration reform passed. Stop repeating the same mistakes. In 2008, you ran on a universal/public option for health care. Once elected by a landslide you wasted over a year by delegating to Congress. Seriously? Not only you lost the momentum and wasted your political capital, but in the end we got a flawed system. Yes, it's better than the current one, but it could (yes, we could!) have been much better by extending Medicare to all. 

It's mind boggling that his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, was so clumsy implemented. He knew the opposition has been shredding the ACA from the moment it was proposed; there was no luxury for having this kind of problems today. He made it so  much harder for many Dems and progressives to support this flawed program. This doesn't help building momentum against the regressive Republicans, who had been battered from causing the government shutdown this Fall.

Last year, Mr. Obama won reelection handily. He had made immigration reform an important policy goal in his second term. What did he do then? He, again, delegated to Congress. Oh, yes, he threatened them that if they didn't do it, he would! Sure. Immigration reform, flawed and all, was passed in the Senate but died in the Republican House. 

At least there's good news for those who prefer to lead from the rear. A majority of Americans now not only favor immigration reform but also a path to citizenship for the undocumented. 

Nov 10, 2013

Goodbye to a Great Autumnal Season 2013. We Were Fortunate to See Nature in Its All Splendor in the Northeast this Year.

All seasons are so beautiful, even if the weather goes into extreme mode at times. The northeast is a nice place to live, because of the distinct seasons. The big cities have their advantages of culture, entertainment, people, experiences. NYC and it's suburbs offer a great combination of city life and a quick access to the great outdoors. 

I've gone almost everywhere within a radius of 200 miles of NYC. OK, I'm sure I haven't seen it all, and that's great! There's seems to be an inexhaustible number  of nooks and crannies still to be explored; plus the changing nature of the ones already experienced. 

The Hudson river north of Bear Mt bridge.
Covered bridge in CT

Clean air, public parks, safety, leisure, individual choice & responsibility are all hallmarks of a good society.

Most likely my last ride for the season, 1 week ago. It's gotten too cold for me now.

Castle by Garison, NY
This was a good Fall season for us in the northeast. The weather was very good, lots of moderate temperatures and crisp nights. The leaf colors and their duration scored high, maybe an 8 out of 10. Not every year we're so fortunate to have a great leaf peeping experience. The last 2 years, at the end of October we had very bad storms. Last year, Sandy caused so much damage. I lost power for 5 days. 

Maybe in the next few days I'll upload some pictures from the NYC Village Halloween parade, which came back strong after it was cancelled last year. 

Spectacular autumnal colors in Rockland Co., NY
Have a great winter!

Why Did Typhoon Hayian Kill So Many People? Did They Deserve to Die?

Philosopher of the Enlightenment, I. Kant
After a big natural disaster that hits home, it's hard for most people--especially the ones directly affected--to ask critical questions, but while feeling sympathy for our fellow humans in the Philippines, some questions are indeed in order. It's time, as I. Kant noticed upon the dawn of the Enlightenment, that we shed our immaturity. Faith is wishful thinking, in the faithful's favor; it's believing in something so fantastical without evidence and reason. I wouldn't mind except that this kind of attitude has been an obstacle to progress for humanity.

It's this kind of mentality--or, most appropriately, a virus of the mind--that makes reasonable, educated, and well-adjusted people have a huge blind spot. And, when someone tries to shed some light into this dark spot, there are objections of all sorts.

We're told that God is benevolent, all-knowing, and all-powerful. But, it wouldn't take more than a few pages of reading from "His book" to realize that his ideas are exactly of those primitive folk--uneducated, highly superstitious, homophobic,patriarchal,  genocidal, ethnocentric, fearful, and scientifically illiterate. We're told that God is good & just no matter what he does or allows to happen. We have free choice to be moral or immoral and we don't really know how God assess us at any given moment. 

 Free will?
The free will notion is essential in Xtian doctrine. Even though God knows in advance, somehow it's necessary for people to demonstrate whether they're good or bad. But, why is this necessary? Should babies be charged with the same responsibility?

So, all right then, it was God's will that 15,000 people died in the typhoon Haiyan, undoubtedly many were little children. Their parents, undoubtedly, were religious. If they happened to be non-Xtians, they were already condemned to spend an eternity in hell. How about their children? 

Natural disasters aren't man-made. Diseases aren't either. The creator of the universe has to be credited with all, the good and the bad, including the harmful bacteria, bad diseases like cancer, and the water-borne worm that eats the eyeball from inside out and blinds thousands in Africa. Some of these poor people never been taught about the Bible--the word of the one true God--so they suffer and will go to hell due to no fault of their own.

I hear the objections to this. Oh, God is merciful and loving, and wouldn't condemn anyone simply because they're not Xtian. Really? Think again! It absolutely matters whether you worship another God, have certain types of sex, fast on certain days, and generally sins are very religion-specific! No way around it. Muslims would agree with this concept. Eat pork, charge interest, question the prophet Mohammed and you're condemned for eternity!

Image from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, US.

Every year, 9 million children under the age of 5 die in the world. That's 27,000 a day, 17 every minute. They die from diseases, accidents, or natural disasters. Yet, God watches unwilling, or unable to intervene. I fail to see the moral lesson here. If anyone among us behaved likewise, we'd think this person would be impotent or evil for not caring enough to save the children.

When children are drowned by the thousands, as in this case, we see people praying to the same God that didn't do anything. Survivors thank the deity for saving them, forgetting the others who, I guess, deserved to die in a horrible, agonizing death! This is the dark blind spot that need to be illuminated. We have to break the chains of the mind and it's about time skeptics, humanists, and rationalists speak up and challenge the prevailing immaturity of the Dark Ages.

This is the kind of mentality that allows religious people to tell us that God punished New Yorkers and New Orelaneans for being atheists, homosexuals, feminists, hedonists, ACLU supporters, and whatever! The same "reverend" crowd that has an opinion on morality matters, and worse, on scientific matters. Have you noticed that one side of the debating points on abortion, stem cell research, evolution, general science, etc, are made by people whose views are ..informed by their religion!

I say, enough of that already.