Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is it still the 20th Century? If so, then immigration reform has a chance politically

On the one hand, it’s nice to see political people of the Republican Party persuasion being present at an event meant to encourage support for serious immigration reform.

There was a time before these portraits ...
That was the case in Chicago on Tuesday, where a group calling itself the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition held a forum at the refined Chicago Club to tout the reasons why Congress needs to get off its collective duff and do something to address the issue.

ACTUALLY, IT’S JUST the House of Representatives that needs to do so. The Senate already has backed a bill meant to address the quirks and complications of current immigration policy. President Barack Obama has said he’ll sign it into law.

It is the leadership of the House Republicans who are preventing a bill from even being called. They don’t want it for ideological concerns – it goes against their principles that say these non-citizens are a criminal element who need to be removed at all costs!

Republicans who try to say otherwise wind up getting denounced within their own political party. That is the 21st Century partisan reality.

Which is why I have to look to the “other” hand of the Tuesday event. The “big” names in support of this issue were former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and former governors James R. Thompson and Jim Edgar.

THAT’S A LOT of “former” at the top of the issue. Admittedly, the Politico newspaper in Washington reported Tuesday that Reps. Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger also are in support, and made a video meant to be shown to the people who attended the forum.

But all the muscle at the top are people who are no longer in government. Which means they’re incapable of doing anything, except trying to talk to the current political generation.

... when these three men ...
Which, in Illinois, tends to regard these individuals as being not quite so relevant.

Will their words wind up being regarded as the equivalent of some doddering old men who will also tell us how you could once buy a quality automobile for $2,000?

I’M NOT SURE this particular forum did anything to sway the opinions of anyone.

The co-founder of Crate and Barrel and the CEO of Caterpillar, Inc., were both also on hand for the event. Although their concerns for a more sensible immigration policy will wind up coming across as wanting more cheap labor.

... could have got something done
The ideologues of the GOP may well even disregard their thoughts – even though that grand old party always likes to think it’s still the electoral entity that takes the interests of business into account when making its political stands.

There was a time when having Edgar and Thompson, along the mighty “Mr. Speaker” of the House, would have been a power play that could have ensured the immigration reform battle had finally reached its time.

YET IN TODAY’S political climate, it may well be just evidence that the issue is going to get dragged out like so many others that come before a Congress that has a segment that believes doing nothing (on anything) is, in and of itself, a noble political stance.

Obstructionism prevails. And as for the gang at the Chicago Club – was anybody listening Tuesday afternoon?


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Is beisbol experiencing a cultural divide?

An Easter Sunday showoff? Or just a pelotero?
I’ve touched on this before, particularly whenever I have written about Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig and the resentment he seems to draw from certain baseball people.

But is there a cultural divide that’s becoming all the more apparent as the number of ballplayers in the U.S. major leagues from Latin American nations becomes greater?

THE WAHOOSAM.COM WEBSITE came up with an interesting commentary worth reading, although I’m sure the ideologues amongst us will gear themselves to tear it down because they’d rather not have to address the issue at all.

For all I know, they may well feel the way commentator Andy Rooney did all those years ago when he said modern-day baseball, to him, was a bunch of guys named Rodriguez.

Anyway, you should read the latest commentary for yourself. And I promise that fresh commentary will return to this site on Wednesday.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Telling immigration opposition the last thing they want to hear, Obama is

I thought it was a joke when certain people tried to make an issue of the fact that pop singer Justin Bieber is Canadian, and therefore ought to be deported from this country following his recent arrests for incidents that basically amount to him acting like a goof in public.

Not so super, to some eyes
How some people have nothing better to worry about with their lives than this type of nonsense amazes me?

SO I WAS pleased to learn how President Barack Obama chose to respond in kind to the people who used the “We the People” program to give a serious response about federal immigration policy, rather than try to dignify the nonsense of people who were demanding an official presidential response to the question of whether Bieber ought to have his visa revoked and he be banned from the United States.

Officially, he refused to comment on Bieber, saying that it ultimately is in the jurisdiction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to decide if the criminal charges he faces ultimately constitute offenses that make him an undesirable element who should not be allowed in our country.

But, he also issued a general plug for immigration reform, while thanking people for taking time to think about whether current policy is flawed. So says the president:

We’re glad you care about immigration issues. Because our current system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers, and 11 million people are living in the shadows. That status quo isn’t good for our economy or our country. We need common-sense immigration reform to make sure everyone plays by the same set of rules. Not only is it the right thing to do morally, it’s the right thing for our country.”

SOMEHOW, I SUSPECT that’s the last thing the people who were pushing this particular petition wanted to read or hear.

They want more deportations, to the point where they want to use a pre-teen pop sensation (who else really listens to him?) to make their nonsense point.

Being told that the current system is “broken,” or that it is the employers who cause the problems by which immigration can harm our society? That’s a little too straightforward for the ideologues.

Who, if you think about it, are the ones who we ought to wish could be deported. Because most of the rhetoric they spew is not only nonsense, some of it comes across as downright un-American.

THEY PROBABLY WOULD be happier in some sort of nationalistic nation that likes to strong-arm everyone who isn’t just like themselves.

Except that I suspect those kinds of countries would find these people such pests that, if we did try to pawn them off on someone else, they’d be returned to us forthwith as "undesirables!"


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cultural at heart? Or are some people overly-sensitive?

Attention to detail. Photograph from Facebook
To tell you the truth, the idea of people celebrating Good Friday by partaking in recreations of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ doesn’t even phase me any longer.

When I see these celebrations that literally have one person playing Jesus strapped up to the cross, about the only question I have is whether he was just bound with rope? Or did he allow himself to have nails driven through his hands.

THE REAL HARD-CORE celebrations take it to the extreme. “Jesus” could literally die again on that cross, if people aren’t careful. That’s devotion!

But what should we think of a school in Brazil that went so far as to have its children re-enact the crucifixion, with someone using his Facebook account to post pictures?

The Daily Mail newspaper in England reports that some people are opposed to the idea of an execution being brought to life. Others seem to think it’s too adult an image for children to be exposed to.

Then, there are those who want to rant about Catholics.

BUT LIKE I already wrote, I’m used to the image. It cropped up in Spanish-speaking enclaves Friday across the country. It also is something that is way too common this time of year in Spanish-speaking countries.

I still recall a story out of Mexico a few years ago about a tavern argument that turned into a bloody brawl. The man who had played Jesus in past years was quarrelling with the man who played Judas.

When others in the tavern figured that out, they ganged up on Judas and beat him senseless. When the police arrived, Judas got arrested – even though it seemed Jesus provoked the quarrel.

What is a few kids re-enacting such a scene, by comparison?


Friday, April 18, 2014

Yasiel Puig: Only as smart as his batting average?

The Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is an intriguing character because it seems there are those in baseball who are determined to look down upon him, regardless of what he does.

I don’t doubt that if he couldn’t hit any more, he’d be out of the world of professional baseball in the United States – and there would be those trying to figure out a way to send him back to his native Cuba.

IT IS THAT old baseball adage, “You’re only as smart as your batting average.” Implying that certain people can be jerks and get away with it, so long as their on-field activity overcomes it.

Others have to toe the line, so to speak, because they’re not good enough players to be eccentric – which is a polite way to describe Puig’s outspoken and wild nature that seems to bother certain people.

Dan LeBatard, a columnist with the Miami Herald, recently wrote a commentary pointing out that Puig is merely 23 and is making a significant adjustment from a country that is so foreign to many of us – even though it is about as close to Miami as Chicago is to Milwaukee.

Then, there is Los Angeles magazine, which published a profile about Puig’s journey from Cuba which included being smuggled from the Caribbean island to Mexico, then figuring out the way to the United States.

WHICH IN HIS case involved dealing with less-than-savory people who at one point – when they weren’t getting the fee they demanded, threatened to cut off body parts, so as to make him worthless for professional baseball.

One of the points that caught my attention was that even when he was playing baseball in Cuba, he got a reputation as somebody who was a bit too wild – somebody who liked his “beer and girls” just a bit too much to please the types who want to think professional athletes are some sort of role models for our society.

Instead of just people who happen to have a bit more physical talent than the average human being.

Perhaps this is just the kind of guy Puig is destined to be – the colorful story of coming to this country (not really heard since Orlando Hernandez was smuggled off Cuba on Christmas 1997 after being banned from playing in the Cuban leagues because his half-brother, Livan, defected).

HERNANDEZ, OF COURSE, wound up pitching several years with the New York Yankees and helping both them and the Chicago White Sox to World Series titles. Even hermano Livan was a part of one of those Florida Marlins teams that managed to win a World Series.

Does this mean the Dodgers are going to have to make their first World Series appearance since 1988 (the year Kirk Gibson did his arm pump after hitting a game-winning home run) with Puig on the team for the trash talk to cease?

Probably. Because despite being Rookie of the Year for 2013, Puig’s current line of baseball intelligence (as of Thursday morning) is a .250 batting average, with one home run (off San Diego Padres pitcher Ian Kennedy) and five runs batted in in 12 games played.

We’ll have to see how he does during the Dodgers’ remaining 147 ball games before making further judgment. Unless you’re only at the ballgame to eat the $20 nachos. All you’ll care about is indigestion!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Who will count as Latino in coming decades?

It will be interesting to see how people perceive things a few decades from now, when all the best guesstimates of our experts today say the Latino segment of our society will be significant across the nation.

Those are the figures that say about 30 percent of the nation will be Latino by 2050. It’s probably true. The population growth is staggering.

THE REAL KEY is to comprehending just how “Latino” will be perceived by that time.

The website published an interesting commentary recently about the difference between “Hispanic” and “white.”

Personally, I’m inclined to think there will be enough intermarriage by then that the reality will be so many people with at least a trace of ethnic origins tying them to a Latin American country.

Being Latino will probably become just another part of the ethnic mish-mash that already is our nation. So many people will be able to claim to be “Latino” that I wonder how many will actually claim it as a distinct identity?

PERHAPS THAT IS the reason some people get so worked up these days whenever immigration comes up. They won’t be able to tell whom to hate, if they don’t do something know to prevent this trend from continuing.

And if they’re not careful, they’ll wind up being the crazy uncle who says stupid things all the time because one of my ethnic brethren will have wound up marrying his sister.

Then again, I don’t know of a Latino family that doesn’t have a tio loco somewhere in the family tree. So perhaps it is just an inevitable match!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New York’s free condoms for sale in Dominican Republic?

It seems one of the most popular brands of condoms being sold in the Dominican Republic were actually meant to be given away for free in New York City.

The New York Daily News reported how condoms carrying the “NYC” brand are turning up for sale in stores for 50 cents each. Which is less than the $1 or more that other condom brands sell for.

BUT CONSIDERING THAT the NYC brand is specifically made by Ansell for free distribution by the city’s health department – and specifically is branded as “Not for Resale” – the whole thing becomes tragic.

Someone has figured out a way to make themselves money off of the city-funded effort meant to bolster the public health of the community.

New York officials say the matter is under investigation, although it is suspected that some of the bars, nail shops and barbershops that were given the condoms for free distribution were instead selling them to entities that were turning them over to a Dominican company – that was then providing them for sale to stores across the Caribbean island nation.