Tuesday, March 28, 2006

News of the World, Opinion of the Blog

This week is one of those weeks where I really wish I could stop reading newspapers and editorial sites. The illegal immigration argument is getting really loopy. Yes, as Catholics, I know we're supposed to welcome to the strangers in our midst, but you know what? It doesn't seem like the strangers want to be welcomed. When you've got five hundred thousand people in Los Angeles waving Mexican flags as some sign of their desire to see US immigration policy stymied, it makes you wonder if the protesters really want the United States to be able to enforce its own laws. This really ticks me off, kids. If you want to come here to work, fine. Maybe we do need a guest-worker program of some kind. If you want to work here for twenty or more years and not become citizens, then what's the point of being here? I've been hearing things on the radio about mass protests being the preferred form of political participation in Latin America. Here in the US, citizens actually get to vote, thus giving you an actual say in how things are run from city issues to national offices. It's not a true democracy, but then I don't want something that can be easily run on the whims of one group or another.

So, maybe we do need to militarize the US-Mexican border, rotating regular, reserve and National Guard units to patrol the line and ensure no one crosses it except at specific ports of entry. This is how it was done with Ellis Island. I remember Democrats having warm-and-fuzzy feelings about Ellis Island, so why not make sure immigrants get herded towards new ports of entry where they can get registered for guest worker permits or start a citizenship process? The illegals who are already here that are willing to come forward and use the McCain-Kennedy solution (payment of fines and back taxes, and getting sent to the end of the immigration processing line, mandatory English education) are going to be few and far between, so what do we do with the recalcitrant illegals? How do we get them brought into the light where they can declare their intentions?

This is where the Catholic Church needs to realize that showing mercy to illegal immigrants does not include hiding them from The Man. Good Christians are to follow the civil law (see Matthew 22: 15-21, Romans 13 in its entirety, 1 Peter 2: 13-17 if you need examples) unless it directly contradicts God's laws. You can run around grumbling about how corrupt and evil the government is, but if people come into our nation without announcing their intent, that is doing something wrong as well. And if we help them maintain that secrecy of intent, does that not also compund the wrong originally done? Two wrongs do not make a right, and three wrongs certainly don't make a right. It just compounds the injustice done.

If illegals want to get legal, then they should come forward and have the various church agencies help get them the aid that is needed as opposed to pretending that we're the right-thinking Dutch who are hiding European Jews from the Nazis. I was listening to the local programming block of the local Catholic radio network this morning, and it was basically a scare-fest of how the evil racist Republicans were going to hunt down poor defenseless illegal immigrants and put them in death camps. To all the Chicago-area Catholics out there who think this is what the Bush administration and all the Republican congressmen want, please take your lips off of your crack pipe. There were claims thrown about how we need to respect the illegal immigrant's human dignity. How about respecting the dignity of the people who live here legally, whether by dint of birth or the citizenship process? Do we not rate because we already live here?

Also, if all of these illegals come in and decide that they don't want to become citizens, then what are the real benefits of US citizenship? Paying taxes under penalty of jail time instead of deportation? Voting? Military service? The first one is no real benefit. The second one seems useful but if no one is following or enforcing laws made in our name, then what is the point? The third one is what binds our nation together through good times and bad. Military service takes everyone who can handle its demands and throws them together to work for the common benefit. if we're not defending US citizens, then what are we defending?

I want an immigration policy that has the interests of US citizens placed as priority the interests of those who wish to become US citizens as next priority, then on to permanent residents and guest workers in terms of whose issues should be resolved. I want an immigration policy that does not buckle under threats of racism when it is enforced. For that matter, I want an immigration policy to actually be enforced. I also want an immigration policy that reflects our need to defend our borders. I also want English to be the official language of the federal government. You don't have to require English to be the only language for states or for business transactions, but assimilation into US culture by way of English-language primacy is a must.

For some of you sports-minded folks out there, I'll use a baseball analogy here to demonstrate: When the Chicago White Sox (an American League team) play at Wrigley Field (home to the Chicago Cubs, a National League team), they don't use the designated hitter rule (where someone else bats for the pitcher for the entire game). Their pitchers have to bat for themselves. The point is that the White Sox don't get to dictate policy to their hosts. The Cubs dictate how an important aspect of the game is played. So too with immigration policy. Those of us who are actual citizens should be able to set the rules. Now, can the Cubs say that they get to have first at-bat, can have five outfielders instead of three, start ahead by ten runs, and only have a two-inning game, stacking it as much in their favor as possible? No. There are certain rules that are established beforehand to maintain fairness or ensure a just outcome. The umpires are there ensure the rules are followed, not to ignore the rules as they see fit. If you're suspected of cheating, the umpire takes a look at the situation and removes you from the game if necessary. In this case, the umpires are acting as our law enforcement and judicial system should. If you don't play by the rules, then you're removed from the game and booed and jeered out of the stadium.

It's difficult to determine if a guest worker program will be effective or if the penalties paid will really be anything more than a symbolic gesture. There will be other illegal immigrants who ignore the process altogether. Those immigrants should be found and deported to the other side of a militarized border. We need to be fair to our citizens, then to those applying for citizenship, then to those who admit to only wanting to work here temporarily, and then to those who think our system is just something to be laughed at. To the last group, they should understand that it's because Americans try to do what is merciful that our nation has become such a good place. We try to do the right thing and expect the same of our government. If our nation was run like many lesser governments in this world, we'd just take you out to a landfill and make you disappear by way of a chipper-shredder. So please, don't mistake our mercy for weakness. Eventually our patience is tried enough and our kindness is removed. So, come to our country, but play by our rules. Make yourself and your intentions known when you get to our border or port of entry. You will save yourself a lot of trouble, and find that you'll be given the benefit of the doubt more often than not. Give us citizens a good reason to trust you. We'd rather have that good reason than always have to pretend like you don't exist.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spring Training and Primary Elections

Well, it's March, which means two things for Illinois. Primary elections and hearing spring training baseball games on the radio. Sadly I can't find a station around the Chicago area that will play Cardinals games, and that's a shame. However, spring training and primary elections are very similar. How is this possible, you might ask. I think I can explain it pretty easily.

Primary elections set up a party-by-party slate of candidates to compete with other political parties. Spring training sets up a roster of players to compete against other teams. During spring training, veterans and rookies who have been contacted by the same team have to also compete against each other for the limited number of slots available for starting players. If you're good enough, you'll get a starting spot. If not, back to the minors with you. Likewise, if you don't win the primaries, you can really only hope to get in at a secondary level, like hoping for a job if your party's winner gets into office.

Once the rosters are pared down and the party slates are confirmed, the game begins in earnest. The political parties do their best to rally their loyal voters into convincing others to vote the same way. The baseball teams do their best to keep their fans happy by winning baseball games, thus bringing in more money and thus better chances to land the most skilled players. Political parties and baseball teams want to be viable enough to win come November. It's kind of amusing to see that the World Series and the general election happening simultaneously. Each one has its group of loudmothed supporters and has to impress the vast majority of people who are relatively undecided but want to know the outcome either way. To the candidates, this brings in votes. To the baseball teams, this brings in money to pay the guys who are best at driving in runs, pitching high-speed sliders and keeping the ball from leaving the park. Both groups are looking to the future with the big game on their minds. Who's going to win the big game? At the moment, all the parties and all the teams have equal records, and it's up to them to play to win.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A little news, a little opinion

Hi, everyone!

Well, baseball season is here and it starts on a sad and shocking note. No, I'm not talking about the World Baseball Classic (which should get a following before it really can be called a classic if you ask me), I'm talking about the recent death of former Minnesota Twins player Kirby Puckett. Here's a guy who proves to all of the short, fat kids who love baseball that they can make the majors if they work hard enough, who's got two World Series rings, and had talent to spare. He turned himself from a role model into an object lesson when he started beating his wife. It's a pity. Another pity is the further degeneration of Barry Bonds' career with two sportswriters presenting a litany of steroid abuses by the San Francisco Giants player. If the allegations presented by the two San Francisco Chronicle writers are correct, then Barry needs to be banned from baseball and his records stricken from the books. I think it ought to just be made easy and have the magic number for home runs reset to Roger Maris' 61. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are all too likely to have abused steroids, and while sports might be a business to make money, it is not just a race to see how many chemical cocktails you can pump into your body for that extra home run. Baseball is a good game, and professional baseball should require people to act as the professionals they say they are.

The new Busch Stadium opens in a little more than a month. I hope it's worth the money that the people of Missouri put up for it. In other Cardinals news, I see that Rick Ankiel switched from pitching to outfield. I hope this is a positive change for him, since after his self-destructive pitching against New York in 2000 he needs to show that he can still be of use to St. Louis. Best of luck to him.

Let's see, hmm, I could do a politics post, but I want to get one more sports-related thing out of the way. Who's going to the NCAA tournament? Southern Illinois, that's who! Go Salukis!

Okay, now politics. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously this week that colleges who take federal funds have to allow access to military recruiters. I hope somewhere along the way one of the justices explained that with federal funds comes a set of federal obligations. Some people might even think that this is threatening discourse on campus. If you want to go to a college where you can tell recruiters to go away, you still have the option of private colleges. I hope one of the justices added something in their notes along the lines of "What, you expected there not to be strings attached to this money? You guys never worked for your allowances as kids, did you?" in their decisions.

The ports issue is still hot as far as I'm concerned. Maybe we ought to just say to heck with it, increase military spending and militarize port security through the Navy and Coast Guard. It'll give the people who want to defend the country but oppose the Iraq war a place to serve honorably. Mind you, I'm still not impressed with Americans who think the US needs another military defeat to "teach us a lesson." I may think it's getting closer to the time when we need to remove more troops from Iraq, but I want them to leave with some kind of material victory there. An Iraq that can hold its own internally is a good start. Apparently a Washington Post poll says that 80% of Americans think that the situation in Iraq is going to devolve into a civil war. I'm more worried about what the Iraqis think, since it's their country. I admit that it looks bad at the moment. Then again, it looked bad during our operations in the city of Ramallah, too. I just have to remind myself that things do change quckly in modern wars and to trust in the officers and adminsitration a bit more than I do at the time. What I can do for the time being, though, is pray. If you want this to be over and done with, pray for an American victory through the establishment of a self-sufficent and peaceful Iraq. The two go hand in hand.

My last bit of Politics: There's a bit of controversy nearby to the Song of the Suburbs home office (okay, my computer desk) in the town of Crystal Lake. It seems that a sporting event calling itself the Gay Games has been trying to get permission to hold rowing events on Crystal Lake itself. My take on this is pretty simple: let's all act like rational adults here on both sides of the argument. Let the event go as planned so those who want it gone and forgotten can do so and so those who want to compete can compete. Raising a big stink over it at the village council meetings is a sure way to keep the issue fresh in people's minds. It's a sporting event. Go and have fun. Pray if you think it'll help. But let the games go on.

Lent is in full swing. Have you Catholics out there been good and kept to your Lenten restrictions? If you haven't been to Confession, an Act of Contrition is always a good holdover. Make sure to go to Confession, though. It's the right thing to do.

I've got a couple more ideas rattling around in my head about a few religious things, but I'm going to hold those for another post. Take care everyone.

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