I am also astonished to read of the accomplishment that is the
Do you know Samuel Johnson? One of my favorite famous quotes of his (and he has many) is about mental focus:
“Since the last 19th century, when, beginning with electrons, we got down to manipulating the most fundamental particles of the universe, human life has changed very fast. One measure of how fast is that, barely a century ago – until Marconi’s wireless and
This afternoon I suddenly saw the meaning of my American destiny -- one of those moments when many unrelated pieces of one's life and thought fall into place in a great unity towards which one has been growing.
My destiny is indeed to be an American -- not just an American of the United States. We are only on the fringe of the true America. I can never be satisfied with this only partial reality that is almost nothing at all, that is so little that it is like a few words written in chalk on a blackboard, easily rubbed out.
I have never so keenly felt the impermanence of what is now regarded as American because it is North American and the elements of stability and permanence which are in South America. Deeper roots, Indian roots. The Spanish, Portuguese, Negro roots also. The shallow English roots are not deep enough. The tree will fall.
To be an American of the Andes -- containing in myself also Kentucky and New York. But New York is not, and never will be, really America. America is much bigger and deeper and more complex than that -- America is still an undiscovered continent.
Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Edited by Lawrence S. Cunningham (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996): 168.
This important news comes today.
Subject: Groundhog Day and the
State of the Union Address
This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fall on the same day.
It is an ironic juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication.
The other involves a
This is very funny, but the state of the union address was today, and groundhog's day is February 2nd. The source appears to be Al Franken, and the joke pops up in the years of Bush, for those who aren't overly particular about actual dates.
I understand the subject of illegal immigrants and driver's licenses is complex. In my opinion, Barack Obama might have had better timing with his announcement.
This comes from my brother who disagrees with me and sees it as a bold and necessary step:
September 22, 2007
Drivers Licenses For Illegal Immigrants
Gov. Spitzer announced yesterday that illegal immigrants will be able to get valid New York State drivers licenses if they provide a valid and verifiable foreign passport. Spitzer hopes that the change, which reverses a four-year-old Pataki-era decision, will legitimize the 500,000-1 million undocumented immigrants who are driving in
. In a repudiation of the federal government's stance, the governor said "We will not become part of what is propagated on the federal level that if we don't admit they are here then we can somehow not provide services. That is bad policy." New York
David Swarts, the New York Motor Vehicles Commissioner, thinks that the initiative will save New Yorkers $120 million in reduced insurance premiums, since unlicensed drivers are unable to sign up for insurance and unlicensed drivers are more than five times as likely to get into an accident as licensed drivers, according to AAA. The NY Times notes that this move goes against the national trend, since more states do not offer licenses to illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants applying for licenses in NY will have to meet a residency requirement.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "I understand the fear of 9/11 and I agree security is essential, but our nation is an immigrant nation ... and to deny law-abiding immigrant New Yorkers licenses ... is to give into that fear." Not all lawmakers agree with the plan. One Congressman from
However, there is some more homeland security debate about Spitzer's plan. Back in 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID law, which requires states to ask for a Social Security number for a license. From the Post:
States that fail to meet the standards will lose their certification by the Department of Homeland Security, meaning that driver's licenses in those states will no longer be valid for air travel, entry to federal facilities and for tax purposes.
Travelers will now have to carry a second form of ID, like a passport, which was met with criticism yesterday.
State Homeland Security Director Michael Balboni, though, said that there were problems with the REAL ID law and the Department of Homeland Security's handling of the program, which is still in flux. He added that Social Security cards and birth certificates lack "biometric information" and NY would be part of a pilot program where license photos would be checked against others in a national database to make sure there were duplicates. Plus, if illegal immigrants had licenses, there would be a public records of true identities.
The New York Immigrant Coalition said, "Immigrant communities throughout the nation can take heart that today’s victory may begin to turn the tide toward sensible and humane reforms at the federal level." Illegal immigrants were happy, noting how they would be able to drive their children to school and drive to work.
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I feel so strongly that I want the Democrats to win, that I suppose I have been hoping there would be some tip-toeing, but that is not what this election is about.
I also recognize how fervently some of my women friends want a woman president as an example for their daughters. It seems that many feel these endorsements today by the Kennedy family have now given the election to Barack Obama. I'm not necessarily sure about that at this point, but no matter what, I think Hillary has shown us that a woman can be president. It may not necessarily be this time around, but the dam is broken, and without a doubt this election is about great change. The Democrats have strong candidates, and we have a choice, and a woman and a black are showing courage and strength. I am thrilled about that.
We haven't had an election in years where people were so invested in their candidate. Young people are voting and are enthused. Paul Krugman says the Democrats have to win by huge amounts to counteract the dirty tricks the Republicans used in 2000 and 2004, and will use again in 2008. It is time for a land slide. May this be so!!
This evening I tucked in with Shirin Ebadi's book, Iran Awakening. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. This book is an inspiring account of her life and what she has done. Thankfully she is still young, so there is even more she will do to further increase liberty and freedom for the people of Iran, especially the women and children.
What is most astonishing is that U.S. Treasury regulations prohibited her and any Iranian intellectual from publishing in the U.S. Supposedly her book, her memoir was "information materials" from an embargoed country. She challenged it in a lawsuit and the Treasury backed down in 2004 and revised the regulation, so now we have the opportunity to read her book, a book which is not flattering to the U.S., and, therefore, even more important to read. We need to keep close tabs on our government. It's our money they use to abuse.
Years ago, I attended a poetry reading of Cuban poets. We were informed that the words had been smuggled into the country. A woman, not the author, read the poems to us. They were astonishingly beautiful and were legal in all other countries, just not ours. We were told it was illegal for us to be listening to these words. I found that information unfathomable. Isn't this a country of freedom, of freedom of the press, and freedom of and for all words and thoughts?
We need to read the words of the poets of Cuba, the writers of Iran. Suppression often leads to better writing. The power of the word is seen and valued. We need access to all that is written if we are to choose and create the future of our own country. We need to energize on full linguistic fuel.