Tag Archives: immigration

Brexit and the Wall

Today the British Parliament will vote on the Brexit plan put forth by Prime Minister May. I don’t know how the vote will turn out.  The fact that they are even bothering with that nonsense shows how easy it is to manipulate voters using racism and BS.

Similar to Trump’s “Wall” idea,  Brexit is just that, an “idea”.

A word.

A concept.

A vague feeling in the gut.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
(MacBeth, Act 5, Scene 5)
The wall and Brexit are tales told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

There never was a plan for Brexit. Just a Putin-backed, Trump supported PR campaign to spread the illusion.The illusion that Britain is being overrun by immigrants from the Middle East. Overrun because of its connections with the EU. The darkies are coming, the darkies are coming !

So, 52% of the British people (mainly in the rural areas) voted to leave the EU. Without any actual debate as to what that divorce would look like. No one knew what the vote actually meant. The Putin-backed campaign to rip the UK from the European Union was based on the simplest propaganda techniques. Say it over and over and over. Keep it vague. Play on fear. Fear of the “other”. The oldest trick in the book. And it stays in the book because it works. A good trick. Play on fear. It works.

So, now the UK is faced with an economic and political catastrophe of its own making. Putin set out the worm of xenophobia. The fearful bit. Took it in . Hook, line and sinker. As they reel in the big one they discover it is not a trout. It is not a pike. It is not a perch or blue gill. It’s an old musty, Russian shoe.

Trump’s wall is the same. First, recall that the “wall” was a mainstay of the Trump-Putin campaign. Go for the fear. Go for the hate. But in the case of the wall, the American people REJECTED the idea. They saw through the BS. Perhaps they understood the geography of the Mexican border. Perhaps they just saw through all the Trump BS.

But, because of our rural-oriented Electoral College, Trump was elected anyway. Even though the majority of the American people had the sense to reject his ideas. So, we have the idea of a “wall”.

No plans. No public hearings. No specifics. One day it is concrete, the next day it is steel slats. One day it costs $ 5.7 billion, but that is only for the start. Eventually it may cost over $30 billion. For what? No one can tell us what it will look like. How it will cross the Rio Grande River in the places where the Rio Grande winds into and out of Mexico. How it will be built across one of the highest mountain ranges in the American. How deep it will have to be built to anchor it in the deserts. How much land will have to be taken from ranchers and farmers, and, of course, from Native Americans.

In other words, it is an “idea” without a specific plan.

But that matters not. Like Brexit, the “wall” is a symbol more than anything else.

A symbol of isolationism. Fear. Hatred of the “other”. A symbol of “Trumpism”.  A solution to a problem that does not exist.

Brexit and the Wall. Two tales told by idiots. Full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.

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Filed under Foreign policy, government, Immigration, Politics, Trump, United States

Let’s Hear It For the Wall

What is wrong with a wall? A fence? A barrier? Nothing.

As Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have voted for in the past. All of them have voted for partial fences or barriers as part of an overall strategy to control illegal immigration. They cannot deny it. And so did the Republicans. They also voted for comprehensive border control. The Democratic House just passed a bill  that the GOP Senate passed last month. Mr Trump will not sign it. Keeping the government open and border security in place. So, why the controversy over a 2,000 mile wall all the way across the US -Mexico border?

I have a number of barriers on my property. To keep animals in. To keep animals out.

I have a chain link fence across part of my backyard to keep my dogs from running off. They can see through the fence and get chuffed when the squirrels run up the trees. And go absolutely bananas when a few deer lope through the woods. They want to run. They want chase. The fence keeps them in. It works. It performs as expected.

My wife has a field where, in the summer, she keeps her horse. We have an electrified fence around the field. It is just a few wires attached to a low voltage box. When you touch it it creates a small jolt. Enough to teach a horse not to break through. Of course, it doesn’t stop the deer from leaping over it. Or a cat or dog or fox from sneaking under it. It is designed to keep horses in and works quite well. It performs as expected.

Every other year we raise chickens. As meat birds. We have a chicken wire fence around the chicken area. So they can wander around and get some “free range” exercise in their short time on Earth. Initially I put up a fence that had wire squares, too small for chickens to get through. One year we had an extremely small chicken that would run THROUGH the fence and back in again. So, I had to adjust the fence and add chicken wire all around. Problem solved. The chicken fence works well. It performs as expected.

I built that chicken coop for our chickens. Because at night the raccoons come out. And fat juicy chickens are high on the raccoon and fox menu. One of my farmer neighbors lost about a dozen chickens to a weasel one year. Others have lost chickens to foxes. I have never lost a chicken. My coop, which keeps the furry foodstuffs in safely at night is impregnable. The Fort Knox of chicken coops. It performs the expected.

There is about an acre of my property where I don’t have a wall or fence. The part that is a lowland. A swamp. A wetland. It extends from the road to the woods. Even if my dogs escaped they could not run away through it.  The deer avoid it. I cannot walk through it without getting sucked into a squishy marsh. So, it remains an untouched little part of the ecosystem. Putting a fence or a wall around this would be a massive waste of money. I don’t have money to throw away on walls that don’t work. The wetland performs as expected.

Back to the border wall.

Nine members of the US House of Representatives represent districts that border  Mexico. Every one of them opposes a long wall. Not because they want “open borders” but because a long wall , in and of itself, is not the appropriate solution to the problem. All want walls where they work. Near towns and cites. In fact, there are already walls, (voted for by the Dems and GOP) , because they are appropriate. But not across the entire border.

These nine members, who know more than anyone else the problems of illegal immigration, do not want to waste money. They want drones. They want more border security personnel. They want rapid response teams. They want border control that works.

So, do we need a “Wall” across the entire border? Is it even possible to build? What would it cost? More important. Is it the best, smartest way to spend our tax dollars? And why do we shut down the the government over a dispute over a wall?

We need to open up the government. Then we need hearings. Yes, hearings. We have NEVER had any public hearings on the best way to control the border. Let us see the actual wall, where it will go and what it will cost. If a wall or steel barrier is the best way to secure the border, then let us have a public discussion. With experts to testify as to the cost and feasibility.

Perhaps the GOP can make a solid case that the best way to spend tax dollars effectively to control the border is a wall. At this point there is NO SPECIFIC plan for what a wall would look like or cost. Perhaps the Democrats can make the case that the best way is a combination of a wall, where appropriate, and more modern techniques where those work better. At this point they have NO PLAN for border security.

So, let’s have hearings and see what is really going on. If this is so important to Mr Trump should he not welcome the chance to show how and why the 2,000 mile wall will work and what it will cost? With facts? With data? With evidence? With a cost analysis? Shouldn’t those who want other types of border security be allowed to make their case?

So. Open the government. Congressional hearings on border security. Let’s “hear it” for the wall.

From Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;.....

.....Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense....

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/mending-wall

 

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Filed under immigrants, Immigration, Politics, Trump, United States

No Left Turn

At  President Trump’s long speech/ press conference regarding the negotiations over a border wall he made a number of points worth considering.

For example, he pointed out that he may no longer want a concrete wall, despite his recent claims that he wanted a concrete wall. Then he said he wanted a concrete wall. Then he said he wanted a steel wall if that is what the Dems want. Or maybe steel slats you can see through. A negligee wall. A flimsy, provocative steel wall.

He demonstrated his expert knowledge of building materials by explaining that steel is stronger than concrete. That is something we had not considered before. It may be a good idea for the rest of the nation to start using steel instead of concrete. For bridges, railroad tracks, even automobiles and trucks. It would last longer and be stronger. Score one for Mr. Trump.

Another thing he mentioned was that today many Mexicans just drive to the fence or wall and keep driving. Then , they turn left and BINGO!. They are in the USA! Yes, he did. He said that they “turn left” at the end of the wall and just drive into the US! This is outrageous! So, how can we stop them?

My idea. Put a guard at the end of the fence !!! Also, put up a “No Left Turn” sign, maybe even with a traffic light. That would be pretty cheap. Or one of those European socialist traffic circles. The poor fools would never figure out how to get out of one of those. Of course, you would need a big , beautiful sign  in English and in Spanish and (because we have THOUSANDS of Muslim terrorists entering every year) also in Arabic.  Now, when the illegals drive to the end of the fence and try to turn left. GOTCHA ! NAILED ! Sorry, amigo, no entry today.

Mr Trump also pointed out that the Democrats want OPEN BORDERS! Yikes ! They do not want a wall or a fence or even any border security. Yikes! He also pointed out that Chuck and Nancy and the guy from Kenya had, in the past, voted FOR fencing. To the tune of billions of dollars! Now, they don’t want to buy a wall just because Trump wants it. It is ALL ABOUT DONALD. He explained quite eloquently that they want open borders so in the past they have voted for border security…Let me try that again. The Dems want open borders so they have supported billions of dollars for border security.  Just shows how sneaky they are .

Now, the Dems want to open the government until September and appropriate money for Homeland Security and Border Control until February. So they can continue to negotiate on border security issues. But Donald will have none of it. It is too important. It is a national emergency ! Which is why he does not want a bill to fund border security. Because border security is an emergency…So, because it is an emergency he does not want it funded…So…I am lost…

Finally Mr Trump made it clear that while he will not budge on a “big, beautiful, concrete wall” it is ok to call it something else. Maybe a “steel slat”. Or a “fence”. Or, if you want, a “wall”.  But it must be a wall, because modern technology, like sensors and drones,  does not work. As he said, he knows more about technology than anyone. So, there!

And it is also clear that Mexico is paying for the wall, as he promised they would. But, even though Mexico is paying for the wall he still demands that US taxpayers… uh… pay… uh… for the wall. Mexico claims they are NOT paying for the wall. Why would we need US tax dollars to pay for a wall that Mexico is paying for? But Mexico is wrong. Mexico IS paying for the wall. Which is why we need US tax dollars to pay for the wall that Mexico is paying for. Simple. Get it?

So, it all makes sense. Shut down the government to protect the American people. Refuse to fund Homeland Security to keep America Secure. Steel is stronger than concrete. Spend billions of US tax dollars on a wall that Mexico is paying for. Lock Her Up.

And when you come to the end of the wall, turn left. I do.

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Filed under immigrants, Immigration, Politics, Republicans, Society, Trump, United States

Open Border Outrage

News item: In an outrageous decision the Trump administration has opened the border between Mexico and the US to a flood of illegal immigrants.

US soldiers, sent to the border to halt the onslaught of illegal 4 year olds, has instead been ripping out miles and miles of barbed wire fencing! Troops sent down to protect law abiding Americans have instead been used to tear down the only defense we have against Guatemalan and Honduran terrorists!

“…U.S. Army soldiers have removed barbed wire along the US-Mexico border in areas where the Trump administration has said more border security measures are needed after local community leaders raised concerns.

About 2 miles of military-grade wire was removed from city land in Laredo, Texas, according to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials…”

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/trump-argues-wall-border-security-measure-gets-pulled-200004316.html

While president Obama and Secretary Clinton actually voted for increased border security when they were in Congress, this administration is now ripping down the very wall of barbed wire we need to protect us!! Outrageous!! And what reason do they give?

“…As the situation along the border continues to evolve, we will continue to assess our operational needs, including removal of the c-wire,” a CBP official said in a statement to ABC News….”

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/trump-argues-wall-border-security-measure-gets-pulled-200004316.html

What kind of double talk is that? These same folks that are demanding a wall (at the very reasonable cost of only $25,000,000 per mile), are destroying a perfectly good barbed wire barrier and leaving our borders unsecured. UNSECURED !!! And what about the cost?

Now, you can get barbed wire for about $8,000 per mile. And the US military will install it for FREE!. Does it not make more sense to keep the razor wire and save about $24,992,000 per mile? I mean, 40 miles of barbed wire saves the hardworking taxpayers a BILLION bucks! And consider, if you were a 7 year old fleeing for your life and  trying to cross the border wouldn’t you prefer climbing a ladder over a wall  (which might be fun) to crawling through razor wire and cutting your little hands and feet to a bloody pulp?

https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/fencing/install-a-barbed-wire-fence/

I long for the days when President Obama, called the “Deporter-in-Chief” by illegal Mexicans, was back running the show. Under Obama the illegal immigration rates reached an all time low. He stopped them at the border and sent them back. Illegal immigration  surged again under Trump but are now back to even lower levels than under Obama. So, the barbed wire is working!

So, why is Trump opening the borders to more illegals? Why are our troops sent out to destroy the very barriers that protect us from the women and children of Central America?

Let’s hope that the Democrats in the Congress can restore some sanity and demand that we protect our borders instead of ripping out our protection.

To paraphrase the late, great actor Ronald Reagan: “Mr Trump, do not tear down that wall !”

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Filed under border control, Clinton, Democrat, GOP, immigrants, Immigration, Politics, Trump, United States

General Admission Seating

Depending on which story you want to believe, there are somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 men, women and kids from Central America moving northward to seek asylum in the USA. Rather than get into the facts of how this administration has fomented this “crisis”, just look at some numbers.

The US has a population of about 325,000,000. That is 325 million people.

For the sake of argument I will accept the higher number. 7,000 versus 325,000,000.

Pretty scary!

Now, about half or more of these 7,000 are women and children. And, under US law everyone has a right to apply for asylum. That does not mean they will get it, but they can apply. So, we have 7,000 folks fleeing violence and death. Did I mention we have a nation of 325,000,000?

Let us suppose that every single asylum seeker get admitted. That would have the effect of adding 14 people to the city of Detroit, Michigan. About 12 new people to Raleigh, North Carolina. 3 more folks in San Bernadino, California.  Maybe 4 people to Topeka, Kansas.

Another example may better illustrate. We are crazy about football in the US. So what if we offered every member of the caravan a free football ticket. General admission seating, of course.

So, we offer these 7,000 folks tickets to a football game. How would that look?

For example, in the Rose Bowl, these folks would take up 2 of the 28 sections. Well, not exactly. Less than 2 sections, but close enough. In most other stadiums they would take up maybe 3 sections.

Unless you are talking high school, of course. For example, at the Texas Alamo High school stadium these men, women and children would take up just about 33%! Imagine, a high school football game where every third person is an immigrant seeking asylum. One game, one stadium, that’s the entire caravan.

This is why the US sent the most highly trained military in the world to the border? (Admittedly it was the WRONG border. They were sent to Texas; the caravan is heading to California…but I digress). To stop a “caravan” composed mainly of women and children that would not even fill up half of a Texas high school football stadium? SCARY!!!

Next time you see the massive numbers of scary asylum seekers as shown by the news, just imagine how much space they actually take up at a college football game. But don’t buy the asylum seekers expensive  box seats.

Just give them general admission tickets.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under economics, immigrants, Immigration, logic, Politics, United States, violence

Tom Reed’s (NY-23) Lies and Children

I called my Congressman, (NY-23rd) Tom Reed’s office last week and complained vociferously about his cowardly statement about the young children being separated from their mothers at the US border. The statement from his website, June 19, 2018:

“We care about these children being separated from their parents. These kids are unfortunate bystanders to a long-standing epidemic of weak border security and outdated laws. Congress must act in this week’s immigration reform bill to change the law so that children are not ripped from their parents’ arms, but provided a fair and compassionate solution to this heart-wrenching issue.”

(Bold face is mine.)

https://reed.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=1461

I suggested to Reed’s assistant that this statement was weak and inaccurate (well, ok, I think I called Reed a “pussy”). At any rate, Mr Reed sent me a response by email (I assume it was a form letter sent out to his constituents and not a personal response). In this latest mailing he says, in part:

“…On June 27, 2018 I voted in support of the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 that would end this practice of separation, and would allow children to be held with their parents in family facilities. Congress must pass legislation to solve this crisis at our southern border. Current law and court settlements require that children not be held in the same detention centers that adults are held in while they await court proceedings. This means that, under current law, the children of parents who are waiting on legal proceedings cannot be held with their parents. We must work together to fix our immigration system and close the loopholes that allow tragedies like this to take place….”

(Bold face mine).

So. Let’s dissect this.

According to Reed the separation of children and their parents at the border is required by law. He cites no law. He cites no section of any law. He cites nothing. He simply echoes the lies tweeted by Donald Trump. Which is no surprise, since Reed was an early supporter and campaign organizer for Trump in NY.

Why does he not cite any specific law? And a fact check tells us why. According to independent fact checker website Snopes:

“…There is no federal law that stipulates that children and parents be separated at the border, no matter how families entered the United States. An increase in child detainees separated from parents stemmed directly from a change in enforcement policy repeatedly announced by Sessions in April and May 2018, under which adults (with or without children) are criminally prosecuted for attempting to enter the United States:…

“…However, neither the 1997 Flores settlement nor a 2008 human trafficking law cited in that release in any way stipulated that the government separate children from their parents:…

“…A cluster of rumors about the controversial separation of families at the border held that the policy came before the Trump administration, either stemming from a 1997 “law” or purported policies of previous administrations. Those claims were false. No federal law required or suggested the family separation policy announced by Attorney General Sessions in several sets of remarks during April and May 2018....”

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/was-law-separate-families-passed-1997/

So, while Tom Reed and President Trump claim that the ripping of children from their parents is a problem of the law, that is simply not the case. It is an executive decision made by the President. He chose to implement this nasty policy. And Tom Reed chooses to give him cover.

Tom acts as though this horrible situation is just, uh, well, the law. Which it isn’t. President Clinton did not do this. Bush did not do this. Obama did not do this. Why not? Because it is not the law. It is a very repulsive executive decision.

Final point. Just this week President Trump relented and ended the policy . Or at least he said so. Did Trump violate the law ?

Well, Tom, if this was a law mandated by Congress how can Trump unilaterally just change it?  A question I intend to ask next week when I call again.

Reed is one of those Trump politicians who talks the very moderate talk on TV. He is pushing his “brand” as one of the “Problem Solvers”. Then he votes against families, the poor, workers, SNAP and health care.

Now, he double talks about who created the mess of the toddlers from the border who, in his words , “…are …ripped from their parents’ hands…”

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Filed under border control, Congress, immigrants, Immigration, Politics, POTUS, president, Republicans, Trump, United States

The Final Solution To Illegal Kids

 

I sent this email today to The Department of Homeland Security. It finally solves the problem of broken families seeking asylum! (Yes. I sent it)

To: Honorable Kirstjen Nielson

Re: Tracking of Lost children

FR: Joe Urban

Some liberals are complaining because the children of immigrants have been taken from their parents. One of the things they complain about is that once separated it may be difficult or impossible to reunite parents and children.

I have a practical, intelligent solution to this problem.

As the process works now: Once the child is taken from a parent the child is put in a tent city or housed in some other facility for children. The parent then has to prove he is a legitimate asylum seeker. This can take some time. In the long process the parent may be sent back to where they came from. But the child may be lost somewhere in the system.

As it should work: How do we unite the child with the parents? Easy.

Every time an immigrant and their kids come to the US seeking asylum we process them in this manner.

The parents and all the children are given identical identity numbers. These unique numbers will be based on where they come from.

For example, if they come from Honduras they would be given an ID number that begins with an H. From Guatemala give them one that begins with a G. Etc.

So: H3476YTT9X would be a family fleeing from Honduras. All members would have the same number.

But how could we be sure that someone might not lie about their number? Problem solved.

These numbers would be tattooed in some color ink that would show up good on brown skin. I suggest a tattoo on the arm or neck so it is easy to see. So, all members of a family, once they apply for asylum, would be given the same permanent  tattoo ID number.

Also, this would make it easy to figure out where the kids are from once you take them from their mothers. Especially the really little ones who might not know where they live. Now, you could put all the “G”s in one tent, the “H”s in another tent, etc. This would make them happy to be with their own kind.

Finally, once the parents are released. Sent back to where they came from or in some rare cases given asylum, it would be easy to find their kids. You could just have a website that had all the family ID numbers. When a parent is released or deported that number is listed for all to see.

These could be checked every day by the guys who are holding onto the kids. If a number matches. BINGO. Send the kid back to the parents.

This would also eliminate a lot of bureaucracy and unnecessary paperwork. You would not have to keep written files since the numbers are permanent. And if they tried to enter again illegally you can nail them at the border! Also, if the police inside the US suspect someone is an illegal they could take their number and check it with you !

I hope you will carefully consider this suggestion since it will make identifying these people much easier and take the guesswork out of sending kids back home to their parents.

 

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Filed under border control, government, immigrants, Immigration, Politics, POTUS, Society, Trump, United States, US

Trump dictionary…I is for

I. I . Best word in the English language. I am the best president ever. I don’t say that, but other people say that about I. I have done more than FDR, Lincoln and Reagan all in one year, that’s what they say about I. I don’t say that. Nobel Prize for I. I don’t say that. Other people say that about I. I. I .I.

Illegal. Mexican rapists. Salvadoran rapists. M16 gang members. Some are very young. Like 3 months old. Almost babies. Sad. They start raping at such a young age. Very sad. Not all. Just most. Some say Melanie is illegal. FALSE. She was a model. She did not come across the mountains from Mexico. She used to be a real knock out. Like Ivanka.

Immigration. Awful stuff. Terrible. Who are these people coming into my country. I was never an immigrant. No one in my family was ever an immigrant. I would send them all back. Back to Africa.

Immoral. Never heard that word. Fake word.

Investigation. Fake investigation. Spygate. Wait. Spygate is real. Mueller is fake. No indictments. No collusion.  All investigations are fake. Never should happen. Let’s investigate Hillary ! Lock her up.

Iran. Terrible country. Worst country on earth. No more nuclear deals with Iran. Many muslims in Iran.

Ireland. Fantastic country. They just banned all abortions. Fantastic job. Beautiful people. Many Irish in Ireland. Blarney Stone. Great stone. Very famous stone.

Israel. Fantastic country. Moved the embassy to Jerusalem. People said it couldn’t be done. I did it. Record time. Fantastic. Many Jews in Israel. Some people say Israel started as a Jewish nation. I don’t know. Time will tell.

Ivanka. WOW. What a beauty. If she wasn’t my daughter. Believe me. She is hot, hot , hot. Lucky Jared. Also very brilliant. She is amazing. See how she dresses? Very classy dresser. The best. WOW. That’s what people say.

(Feel free to add your own)

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Filed under Iran, Israel, Politics, POTUS, Trump, United States

Incidents of Travel Abroad

Now that we have returned from our 3 weeks in Andalusia (Spain) and a couple days in Dublin (Ireland) I can reflect on some of the experinces and lessons learned.

  1. Andalusia is everything I thought it would be and more. This area of Europe was controlled by Muslims until 1492. For hundreds of years , under Muslim control, memebers of all three religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) lived in relative harmony. Non-Muslims had to pay a special tax, but that was it. They could worship how they wanted. Then, some fundamentalist Muslim leaders started persecuting the Jews and Christians and things went downhill. Eventually the Christians (Ferdinand and Isabella) took over and things went off a cliff. The Spanish Inquisition was instituted and Jews and Muslims were tortured and murdered. End of Al-Andalus.                           https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Andalus

2. The customs official in Dublin. Friendly. Wished us a happy holiday. The customs official in Malaga, Spain. Friendly. When he saw that I had been born in Chicago and my wife in Detroit he decided to have a chat. He had been to the US and we talked about our travels and his travels in his broken English and our broken Spanish. We chatted for about 5 minutes before he stamped our passports and welcomed us to Spain. The customs official in the USA. Unfriendly. Unsmiling.

3. Pants. I bought 2 pair of travel pants which made travel so much easier. Three pockets within the pockets that zipped close. Wallet in front right. Passport in left front. All zippered in. Another zippered pocket in the back and another small pocket for a flip phone. No worries about getting anything lifted . ( I had my passport and money lifted by a very proficient lady on the Rome subway a few years ago).  These pants took the worry out of walking around. Nothing hanging around my neck.

https://shop.bluffworks.com/pages/travel-pants

4. Transportation in Spain. Reliable, clean convenient train service between cities. Fast. Reserved seats. Trains on time. Same with the buses. Clean, comfy.  At least the long distance ones that we took. When I think of train and bus stations in the US I think of the “other side of the tracks”. In Spain they are central and packed with people. The bigger ones have restaurants. It is possible to have decent public transport. Spain proves that.

http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html

5. Taxis. Dublin, Cordoba, Malaga and Grenada were fine. But in Seville the taxi drivers, noticing that we were tourists, always managed to fine the “scenic route” to our destination. Padding 1 or 2 euros to the bill. The fastest distance between 2 points is the one that gave the taxi driver a little more loot!

6. Food. Eat the local food. Ham is big in Andalusia. And “tapas”, those small servings of bread and ham or sausage or cheese that come with your beer. My favorite: Bull’s tail stew. Unlike Mexico, where I get sick for a day or 2 whenever I try to eat, in Andalusia neither of us had any problems. Food was great and fairly priced.

http://awanderingcasiedilla.com/2017/02/03/awc-guide-best-tapas-granada/

7. The reason I went to Andalusia. The Alhambra  in Grenada. The Mezquita in Cordoba. The Alcazar in Seville.  (google them) The ocean in Cadiz. The architecture from the Islamic period was not only monumental, but was decorated without using any human figures. So, intricate geometric patterns  were carved into walls, celings, doorways and tiles. The skill of the craftsmen is awesome.

https://www.alhambradegranada.org/en/info/nasridpalaces/alhambranasridpalaces.asp

https://mezquita-catedraldecordoba.es/en/

http://www.alcazarsevilla.org/english-version/

8.  Final note. Leaving Dublin heading for the USA. Unbeknownst to us, all travelers to the USA have to go through a double security system. First, the Irish system which is very thorough and relatively pleasant. Empty your pockets, walk through the body scanner, pick up your stuff. OK. But then, there is another sign with a big USA flag on it.

So, walk downstairs and go through a special US security system. Which is the same as the Irish system. Except for one difference. They don’t do a body scan. Now, understand this. We had to go through the Irish system to get into the departure section, then we had to go through a second system just for the USA.  After going through the US system we then got in line to go to the computer terminals. At these terminals you put in your passport. Then you either get on your tiptoes (if you are short) or crouch down (if you are tall) and have your picture taken. This picture then comes out of the machine on a long strip of paper. It gets better.

You now take this picture that you just took and walk 30 feet to the waiting US security station. Remember, you just walked 30 feet to this new station with the picture you just took. The security person looks at the picture  and looks at you. Remember you just took this picture in full view of the security personnel just 30 feet away. He then verifies that the picture you just took of yourself is actually you. To my undying relief the picture I just took of myself WAS, in fact, me! So, I was allowed to continue.

I am not sure what the purpose is of putting people going to the US through this senseless process. You have already been checked by airport security. You passport has been checked. And the silliest part, showing security the picture you just took of yourself. I am guessing in most cases the photo you just took  is usually going to be you. Unless you metamorphasize in the 30 feet between stations. If a would-be terrorist takes a picture of himself will he no longer resemble that photo 10 seconds later? (By the way, you still have to through US security when you land in the US) .

My conclusion: Theater. Adding some processes to play to a fantasy  that this somehow makes travel to the US safer, when in fact it just makes it annoying. Or perhaps the manufacturer of the computer/photo systems made sizable campaign contributions ?

Travel is great fun. Except for the airlines. And security. Can’t wait until they perfect the transporter beams. Beam me to Spain, Scotty!

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Who Was That Old Lady, Anyway?

When I was little we had an old lady living with us. We called her “Busia” (boo-shah). She had been born in Poland and came to the USA in 1913 by boat, two small kids in tow. In steerage. She was meeting her husband, who was already in the USA working in the mines.

When I knew her she was already pretty old. She didn’t speak English because she had had a stroke. It also left her right arm partially paralyzed so the time I accidentally slammed the car door on her she didn’t feel a thing. Small favors.

Her husband, who I never met, was long dead. Her only son went to war against the Nazis. He was shot down and killed over Germany. She had a flag. The US government had sent her a flag.

She cheated at cards. And when you tried to call her on it she could not (or pretended she could not) understand what you were saying. Hopeless. But she made the best potato pancakes I ever have had. Been trying to duplicate them for 50 years. Haven’t succeeded.

Who was this old lady? For a long time I thought she was a close family member with a “bone fide” relationship. For a long time I treated as though she was a member of the family.

The other day I found out I was wrong. The USA’s new, improved “travel ban ” from a number of countries has gone into effect. No longer can anyone emigrate to the USA. The only exceptions are people from these countries who are close family members. Who have a “bona fide” relationship to a citizen or legal immigrant. I think that is not such a bad idea.

So, who is included as a “close family member”? Parents, spouses, siblings, fiances and children.

And who is specifically EXCLUDED from the category of “close family member”? Who cannot claim a close family relationship. Who is, for purposes of sponsoring immigration, a “stranger”.

This may surprise some of you whose children have had children. Among those not in the category of “close family member” are  “grandparents”. Grandma and grandpa are not “close family members” Fiances are. But not Gramps.

Which brings me back to Busia. Busia was my mother’s mother. Who lived with us off and on for many years. She was my grandmother. Who , at the time, I THOUGHT was a fairly close relative of mine. Not so. My mother’s mother was something else. What was she?

Who was that old lady, anyway?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-ruling-idUSKBN19S08N

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Filed under Foreign policy, heritage, immigrants, Immigration, Iran, Islam, logic, Politics, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, United States

The Smuggler

It was dark and chilly near midnight on the Texas-Mexico border. I had a tip that a smuggler was going to cross that night and I wanted to meet up with him. Do an interview.

(In order to maintain confidentiality all the names in this report have been changed. My name is Joe Urban but I call myself Luke. The smugglers name was Jorge Maria Hernandez Moctezuma Gonzalez. I will call him Jose).

Jose was driving a small truck. As it pulled up to the border  a customs agent stopped him and they talked. Jose shook the agent’s hand . The agent looked into his hand, slipped it into his pocket and waved Jose through. A bribe. A time-honored border tradition.

I followed Jose and his truck through the night on the long drive north. Sometime near dawn he pulled off into a small town and stopped at Eat Em and Weep Cafe. I went in and found him sitting at a corner table. Well. The only table. I introduced myself.

Luke: Hello Jose, I am Luke. The guy doing the undercover story.

Jose: I thought I was supposed to meet some gringo named Joe. And my name is not Jose,  it is Jorge Maria Hernandez Moctezuma Gonzalez. What do you want to know?

Luke: Why do you smuggle?

Jose: Because I like to help people. People have needs and I try to make their lives a little better.  It is my way of giving a little back to the world. And it pays good.

Jose rocked back in his chair and stared at the spiders crawling across the ceiling. He had a faraway look in his eye. The awe-inspiring, starry-eyed look  of a philosopher. Or a sleep deprived trucker. He continued.

Jose: You see. I bring to you North Americanos a little joy. A product that makes your miserable lives a little happier. What is wrong with that? Don’t you have the right to be happy like us Mexicanos?

Jose continues: You may think that you can get the same thing from Colorado. You think the best stuff comes from Colorado? Maybe. But no. Colorado cannot supply the entire nation. The law of supply and demand. Capitalismo!

Jose continues: You are thinking about your own internal supply. But my stuff is pure. Better. No extra junk thrown in . The best in the world. Why take  chance on some local supplier when you can have the best? Why take a chance when you know that my stuff has never killed anyone. Guaranteed pure. Uncut.

Jose continues: And you deserve the best. So I will continue to make the dangerous journey to El Norte. I will slip past the border guards..what?..oh, you saw me give him a bribe. Well,  I will continue the dangerous journey and bribing the border guards. It is worth it to see the smiles on the gringos faces when the delivery arrives.

Luke: Are you worried that President Trump will build a wall and and finally put an end to your smuggling once and for all?

Jose: No worry. My uncle Antonio Juarez Moctezuma Gonzalez owns 4 bulldozers. He plans to start a new business smashing into the wall each night at different places. He has already incorporated as “The Holes in the Wall Gang”.  We are ready.

So there you have it. A law breaking smuggler who justifies his actions by claiming to be a “public servant”. Another smuggler defying US laws. A disgrace to all. But the story has a happy ending for law-abiding citizens.

I followed Jose for hundreds of miles north as he drove through Illinois, Indiana and into Michigan. Finally the roar caused by his lack of a muffler, the black cloud of oily smoke  and sparks generated by a right taillight dragging on the ground caught the trained eye of a Michigan State trooper. He was pulled over. Caught. Nabbed.

When the back door of his truck was lifted , there was the contraband in plain site. BUSTED. Cases and cases of the illegal product. It would never reach the lips of addicted Michiganders.

“Crystal” bottled water from Mexico. Cases of it. In sealed plastic bottles. Direct from the bottling plant. Stenciled across the back of each case: Destination: Flint, Michigan. The jig was up. The uncut, super clean water was found before it could be delivered .

The troopers threw  the cases on to the ground and smashed the contraband into bits, Elliot Ness-style. They slashed the bottles and watched as the liquid gushed out onto the pavement. The pure, clean, fresh water flowed onto the highway. The good stuff. Just before he got in his cruiser and drove away I noticed one of the Michigan State troopers slip a couple bottles into his jacket. I couldn’t blame him. I figured he must have had kids.

 

 

 

 

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A Modern Christmas Story

The line of ragged refugees trying to gain entry into the US winds around the corner. Men in robes and tattered clothes. Women wearing veils and hijabs. Little , wide -eyed children peering out from behind their mothers’ flowing dresses.

The Border Control agent barks .”Next”

A young bearded man, with wife and baby crouching behind, slowly approaches.

“Name”?

“Yusef”

The agent is filling in a form.

“Where are you coming from?”

“The Middle East. We have had to leave our home.”

Agent:” Why did you leave?”

Yusef: “They are killing us. The new government has taken our property and demands that we give up our homes and possessions. We fled from the violence. If we go back they will kill us. Don’t send us back”

Agent: “Do you have any documents?”

Yusef:”No. We had to flee quickly. We left everything behind except what we carry.”

Agent, writing : “How did you pay for the airline tickets?”

Yusef: “We had a little gold, but that is now gone.”

Agent:”How do you intend to support yourself? Do you have any skills?”

Yusef: “I  worked in construction. I can build  things. I work with tools.”

Agent: “I see you wife is wearing a hijab. Are you Muslims?”

Yusef: ” Oh, no. She is just wearing the traditional veil. It means nothing.”

Agent: “Are you Christians? Do you  follow Christ?”

Yusef, looking  confused: ” No. We are simply refugees fleeing for our lives. Please help us.”

Agent, writing down something and looking concerned. “What is in those two boxes?”

Yusef: “Just some perfume and some medicines. It is all we have.”

The agent calls over some security who take the boxes and disappear into another room. “Sorry, those boxes will have to be destroyed. They had some odd looking substances in them.”

The agent looks at the young refugee family , down at his forms, and back up again. “You have no papers. You have no means of support. You CLAIM not to be Muslims, but you sure LOOK  like Muslims to me. You brought in some strange packages. And you claim your life is in danger but offer no  proof. ” He then takes out a big red stamp and loudly stamps the documents, hands them back to the young man and points him to the exit door.

“We will be putting you and your wife and child on the next plane back to the Middle East. Good luck. And Merry Christmas.”

The young man looks down at the document. The big red letters of the stamp are bold: ENTRY DENIED.

They cover the names of the applicants.

Yusef the Carpenter, wife Mary and baby Jesus.

 

 

 

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Desperately Seeking Muslims

Donald Trump continues to be a real treasure trove of ignorance.  I know, I know. What am I talking about ? So much to choose from.

Well, I am referring to his latest..wait, what time is it…his latest comments about banning Muslims.  All Muslims. That will make America safe. Again. Or great again. Or whatever. You know.

So, the next obvious step in the Trump Plan is the HOW to do it? The Donald is always a little close-to-the-vest when it comes to details. (Remember Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War. Ooops) His latest escapade into the unknown is no exception.

So, let’s get practical. How do we identify a “Muslim”. Especially a “Muslim terrorist” which is, after all, the reason for the ban. To keep “Muslim terrorists” out of the US. Now that, in itself, is not a bad idea. After all, we have plenty of “Christian terrorists” already. Who needs the competition? The fewer terrorists the better , I always say.

The problem is simple: What does a “Muslim” look like? In order to ban them, we need to see them first. Seek them out. So, what do we look for?

Well, we know that he could look like a Pakistani or a Turk or a Nigerian or a Russian or an Egyptian or a Chinese (23,000,000 Chinese Muslims) or a Saudi or an Englishmen or an Uzbeki or an Indonesian or an American or a Brazilian…well, you get the idea. Muslims are from every ethnic group and live in every nation on earth. Every one! Nope. I lied. There is one nation that has no Muslim citizens. Vatican City. So, Pope Francis can glide through customs without a body cavity search.

So, I guess just looking won’t work too well. So, let’s ask!

Everyone who enters the US should be asked a simple question: Are you now or do you ever intend to be a Muslim terrorist. If they answer “Yes”. GOT EM. Another victory for The Donald. Unless, of course, a Muslim “terrorist” is smart enough to figure out that he should answer :”No, sir, I am not. And by the way. god bless America !”

So, Donald. We need a few more details. Keeping terrorists out of the US is a unique and fascinating idea. Something no one ever thought of before. But now we need to see the details.

How do you identify a Muslim? How do you identify a”Muslim terrorist”?

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_world

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_by_country

 

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Filed under Islam, Politics, Republicans, Terror

President Trump

Hello. I’m Donald Trump.

Here’s the deal. Vote for me. Lots of complicated problems. Lots of simple solutions. I will make America strong again. Put us on the right track. Get us back to what made us great in the old days. You want specifics? Here are specifics.

Illegal  immigration. Build a wall. Big wall. Keep out the Mexicans. Now I like the Mexican people. Some are rapists, sure. But that’s in the blood. Can’t blame em. I know some good Mexicans , too. My housekeeper Manuela. Good person. Never steals. Love Mexicans. Build a wall.

Whose gonna pay? The Mexicans will  pay. We’ll build a wall using American labor and make Mexico pay. That is what I’ll do. Simple. Build it. Make em pay.

Putin. Tough guy. I’m tougher. Russia is a wonderful country. Love the Russian people. A lot of my friends are Russian billionaires. They wear fur coats. Real fur. Not the pretend stuff. Real minks and foxes. I love foxes but to be honest they make one helluva coat. But you gotta get a lot of em. Two or three foxes, all you get is a stole.

So I say to Putin. Valerie, here’s the deal. You don’t fly your planes over the US. You don’t bomb our cities or BANG. It’s over. World War 3 . I don’t like war but you have to be tough. Can’t back down. Putin respects that. Russian problem solved.

The Jewish thing with the Arabs . What a mess. Jews want the land. Palestinians want the land. And it’s crappy land. No casinos. How do you solve it. You need a tough negotiator. I’m the man. I bring in the Arabs. I bring in the Jews. I sit em down at table. One of those long oak tables with the carvings on the legs. I’ll have it custom made by my Mexican carpenter. Great guy. I say “We’re gonna do this deal”. That’s  it. We’re gonna do it.

Now, I like the Jews. Tough negotiators. Good business sense. My uncle was a Jew. Wore that cap thingy. Me. Not a religious man but I tolerate Jews, Christians, Muslims, you name it. No prejudice. But you gotta be tough with the Jews. Give and take. I know how to do that. Crisis solved. Bingo. Treaty signed. It’s over. Next problem.

Gay marriage. Who cares.  Let the gays be gays. Love the gays. My hairdresser is gay. I think. I don’t know.  Never asked him. None of my business. That Kim Davis broad says she won’t marry gays. I say. You got a job.  You were hired to do a job. Kim Davis. You’re fired.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Obama. Great guy. White mother. Black father. But he is not tough enough. Let’s people walk over him. Shoulda fired that broad a long time ago. I meant woman. No disrespect. I love women. My wife is a woman. Always respect the ladies. That’s who I am. But if my wife doesn’t do her job. Bingo.  She’s still fired.

Health care. Everybody gets it. End of story. If you can afford it you pay. Hey.  I can afford it. I pay. If you can’t afford it you get it for free. This is America. Nobody should get sick. Like cancer. You want to cure cancer. Let’s do it. I say to my Secretary of Health or whatever. Let’s get on this cancer thing. Today. No more stalling around. Find the cause. Find the solution. Bang. Problem solved. That’s how I operate. Results. You want to get rid of cancer. Let’s do it.

Running mate? Sarah Palin. Beautiful person. Former governor. Great experience. Intelligent gal. Knows how to handle a rifle. Great family. I’m a family values person. I had a lot of families and I still value every one of them. Paid child support. Paid alimony. That’s life. Sarah Palin. What a role model for young girls. Beauty and brains all rolled into one package. From Alaska. Cold there. They ride those snowmobiles and wear orange parkas.  I prefer fur, but that’s life. Each to his own..

Benghazi. A lot of nonsense. People died. Terror attack. If I’m president you won’t see any terror attacks. Terrorists know I won’t tolerate it. Can’t happen. I don’t blame Hillary. She did her best. Love Hillary. Great lady. Would have made a great Secretary of State or something but not tough enough to be president. Came to my wedding. She had to. I donated to her foundation. Bingo. That’s how to get things done. You wash my back, I wash yours.

I go to the terrorist and tell em. What do you need. OK. A new mosque. Some new camels. Couscous. Whatever it is, you got it. Just no more terror attacks. That’s it. Message sent. Message received. You attack. No more camels. No more couscous. You decide. You got to know how to deal with these people.

Congress. Dysfunctional. Shut down the government. Can’t pass a law. When I am president Congress will work. No more vacations. I want a law. They pass it. They don’t pass it. They’re gone. Done. I lock the doors. I say “You’re Fired”. I hire a new Congress. Maybe some Mexicans (the good ones) and a few Jews. We get the job done.

So that’s it. There’s more but you get the idea. I’m tough. I get it done. It is simple.

I will make America great again. You gotta problem. We solve the problem. Problem solved. Vote for me.

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