Fiat Lux

It's Latin for 'Let there be Light'

Immigration Reform?

I’ve been following the immigration reform bill as it slowly winds it way through the legislation process. It’s starting to look like the bill’s final form is settling into place, but since there have been no formal votes nor a bill sent to the President, it’s a little early to start an in-depth dissection.

That said, I’m pretty much with Ezra on this one.

The worth of the new bill hinges on whether you think an effective amnesty for the country’s 12 million undocumented immigrants is worth a 400,000 to 600,000 person guest worker program. That’s the trade-off: A bad guest-worker program set against a broader path-to-citizenship program. My sense is that the system we’ve got right now is so bad, that even a regulated guest worker program is better than what we’re living with. And bringing the 12 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in this country into the light would be a huge boon. So my snap reaction is that the guest worker program is problematic, but this might nevertheless be a deal worth making.

I really don’t like guest worker programs: they’ve been problematic in other countries, and given the proclivities of many US employers, I don’t see that we’d be able to avoid similar problems.

I’m also a bit dubious about the whole “go back to where you came from to apply” part of the process for moving current illegals onto “the path to citizenship”. Why should someone have to make a multi-thousand mile round-trip just to file some papers? That seems wildly counterproductive and even a bit punitive.

And I know that some of my friends currently on the path towards citizenship are disappointed that they may not be able to bring their parents to America as easily, if at all.

At any rate, I’m reserving the right to change my mind on this issue if the final bill changes significantly and/or when more details emerge.

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Al Gore’s “The Assault on Reason”

Time has an excerpt. It’s worth a read, and will likely make you wonder yet again why this man is not our President.

Here’s a favorite graf or two to whet your whistle:

Many Americans now feel that our government is unresponsive and that no one in power listens to or cares what they think. They feel disconnected from democracy. They feel that one vote makes no difference, and that they, as individuals, have no practical means of participating in America’s self-government. Unfortunately, they are not entirely wrong. Voters are often viewed mainly as targets for easy manipulation by those seeking their “consent” to exercise power. By using focus groups and elaborate polling techniques, those who design these messages are able to derive the only information they’re interested in receiving from citizens—feedback useful in fine-tuning their efforts at manipulation. Over time, the lack of authenticity becomes obvious and takes its toll in the form of cynicism and alienation. And the more Americans disconnect from the democratic process, the less legitimate it becomes.


So the remedy for what ails our democracy is not simply better education (as important as that is) or civic education (as important as that can be), but the re-establishment of a genuine democratic discourse in which individuals can participate in a meaningful way—a conversation of democracy in which meritorious ideas and opinions from individuals do, in fact, evoke a meaningful response.

In short, the Internet. Well, so far it’s not getting taken all that seriously by the ‘real world’ of politics except as a means of raising money (and yes, that is the cynicism Gore referred to talking), but perhaps that will change with time.

PS: Welcome, Buzzfeed visitors!

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Now It Gets Interesting

Looks like someone is finally going to offer iTunes some real competition. Amazon has a press release out announcing that it:

will launch a digital music store later this year offering millions of songs in the DRM-free MP3 format from more than 12,000 record labels. EMI Music’s digital catalog is the latest addition to the store. Every song and album in the digital music store will be available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software. Amazon’s DRM-free MP3s will free customers to play their music on virtually any of their personal devices — including PCs, Macs(TM), iPods(TM), Zunes(TM), Zens(TM) — and to burn songs to CDs for personal use.

“Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO.

I’ve been happily buying music from iTunes because they have most of the music I want, at what I consider a fair price, with DRM that’s at least manageable. If I can get all that without any DRM, well, that would be even more awesome.

I’m not surprised Amazon is doing this. They’re one of the few companies big enough to stand up to the recoding industry and push back against their ridiculous demands. And if Amazon can get a decent selection of music available, then this will be a major shot across the bow of Apple.


So Long, And Thanks For Nothing

A long time ago, when Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority were first making news, I went to the local variety store around the corner and had them make me a t-shirt that said ‘Immoral Minority’. I thought it was funny as hell, but my mother asked me to not wear it. Being a good daughter, I didn’t, but I still thought it was funny.

And now, long years later, Falwell has finally passed on. His star was eclipsed in later years by other players on the right-wing stage, but the virulent damage his brand of Christianity has done to the fabric of American society will take a long time to wash away.

I know it’s not “nice” but I can’t find it in me to be the tiniest bit sorry that he’s gone.

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Happy Empowered Mother’s Day!

I don’t usually read The Onion, so I managed to miss this when if first came out, but it’s funny as hell. It’s also at least a tiny bit appropriate for that lovely Hallmark Holiday known as Mother’s Day:

According to a study released Monday, women—once empowered primarily via the assertion of reproductive rights or workplace equality with men—are now empowered by virtually everything the typical woman does.

“From what she eats for breakfast to the way she cleans her home, today’s woman lives in a state of near-constant empowerment,” said Barbara Klein, professor of women’s studies at Oberlin College and director of the study. “As recently as 15 years ago, a woman could only feel empowered by advancing in a male-dominated work world, asserting her own sexual wants and needs, or pushing for a stronger voice in politics. Today, a woman can empower herself through actions as seemingly inconsequential as driving her children to soccer practice or watching the Oxygen network.”

Now, time to go call Mom.

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Friday Cat Blogging

Tommy & Bear snoozing together.

Brotherly Love

It’s been a busy week.

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