Monthly Archives: March 2015

A LITTLE PHILOSOPHY ALWAYS HELPS

There is much to learn from the great philosophers of old—Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Voltaire, Balzac and Descartes—and if you listen carefully, there is also much to learn from our modern-day philosophers.  The words of popular music in this last century are a treasure trove of insightful lessons for life.

Check these out:

  1. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy – The Eagles
  2. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, nothing don’t mean nothin’ honey if it ain’t free – Janis Joplin and Kris Kristofferson
  3. I’d rather be a hammer than a nail – Simon and Garfunkel
  4. If we weren’t all crazy we would go insane – Jimmy Buffett
  5. What the world needs now is love sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of – Dionne Warwick
  6. You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run – Kenny Rogers
  7. If I can see it, then I can do it; if I believe it, there’s nothing to it – R. Kelly
  8. And he’s bad, bad Leroy Brown, the badest man in the whole damn town – Jim Croce
  9. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there, you’ve got a friend – James Taylor
  10. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they’re here to stay, oh, I believe in yesterday – The Beatles
  11. Your prison is walking through this world all alone – The Eagles
  12. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice – Rush
  13. Optimism is my best defense – Rod Stewart
  14. Thinking is the best way to travel – Moody Blues
  15. We are all just prisoners of our own device – The Eagles
  16. Thunder only happens when it’s raining, players only love you when they’re playing – Fleetwood Mac
  17. Does anyone really know what time it is, does anyone really care – Chicago
  18. As long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive, I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give, and I’ll survive…I will survive – Gloria Gaynor
  19. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape; you don’t spit into the wind; you don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger; and you don’t mess around with Jim – Jim Croce

I hope that will carry you through the week.

(Thanks to my music and philosophy consultant, Judy Hart, for her contributions.)

ArtSchwartzSig

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COMMENTS ON CURRENT EVENTS

The following are off-the-cuff comments, in no particular order, on what’s going on in our world.  Some are important; some not.

Keystone

As expected, President Obama vetoed the Keystone Pipeline Project after waiting two years or so in order to get past his re-election.  At this point, it doesn’t matter much.  We weren’t going to benefit from the oil; we would just have more good paying jobs.

Netanyahu Loses on Points

First, his speech to Congress was great theater about not trusting Iran, but he offered no alternative to negotiating a deal to delay their nuclear ambitions.

His only point was questioning the ability of Obama and Kerry as negotiators.  There is evidence to support that position.  They tend to give up too much.

Second, Bibi, as we insiders call him, did nothing with his speech to help him win re-election as Israel’s Prime Minister.  The election is still being decided.  Negotiations have started to see who can cobble together a coalition cabinet and be Prime Minister.  His next move maybe is to join our Tea Party or, as we should start calling them, “the uncompromisers.”

Iran Nuclear Negotiations

We don’t know all the details, but the bottom line is any kind of deal which delays Iran from getting a nuke is positive.  No deal accomplishes nothing.

Republicans in Charge

In the two months since the Republicans took charge of the House and the Senate, they have shown no evidence they can overcome the dysfunction between the Tea Party conservatives and the moderates.  Their attempt to defund the immigration overreach of Obama in the DHS budget was a fiasco.

With all the hooha about Obamacare, we still have seen no consensus alternative to repeal it or fix it.  Lord knows it needs fixin’.

Now 47 Republican senators have written a letter to the Mullahs of Iran telling them any deal will have to get the approval of Congress.

No. 1:  That is not true.  The president can sign it as an executive order, not a treaty.

No. 2:  It may be one of the all-time stupid things Republicans have ever done.

Birth Tourism is Exploding

We’ve had an increasing number of pregnant women from south of the border coming here so their children can be born here and therefore become U.S. citizens.

Now apparently we have thousands of Chinese paying $40,000 to $60,000 in orchestrated trips to do the same thing.

It’s way past time to put a stop to this accidental, dumb provision in our constitution.  It makes no sense.  While we’re at it, we should also ban dual citizenships.

How Obama Fails to Communicate

Everyone acknowledges he is a great speaker but even many of his ardent supporters agree he has not communicated his vision, his ideas and his plans clearly to the American people.  He lacks the charisma of a Bill Clinton or a Ronald Reagan but his greatest sin has been his reluctance to get on the tube in prime time and address the nation.

Ronald Reagan made 18 prime time television addresses. You can count Obama’s on one hand and our times are far more turbulent.

Kardashians Hit the Jackpot

Mama Kardashian signed a deal with “E” TV for her five daughters to be paid $100 million over the next four years.  That’s a while pile of money for a bunch of zero talent people.  No, I’m sorry, they have demonstrated an extraordinary talent for creating publicity about their indulgent and trashy life.

The Clintons Excel at Unforced Errors

The political dance team of Bill and Hill always seem to push their ethical conduct right up to the line.  Having a private email account as Secretary of State probably won’t cause too much grief for Hill, but accepting donations from foreign governments for the family foundation was a clear conflict of interest.

Oh well, just another notch in their routine, which includes stonewalling the media about their questions on both issues.  Her press conference on March 10th didn’t resolve much except her arrogance.

Presidential Primary

Scott Walker is the Republican flavor of the month, followed by Rand Paul, who wins straw votes in Iowa and at CPAC, but that’s probably the peak of his campaign.

Walker may last a little longer; but in 2008 and ’12, the early flavors didn’t gain enough traction to go much further.

Supremes Debate Obamacare Again

The Supreme Court held hearings during the first week of March on a new case challenging Obamacare.  Following the hearings, they met and voted.  A decision we won’t know about until June.

I believe they will uphold it, mainly because of their previous decision.  They may have one more shot when they debate the constitutionality of Obamacare originating in the Senate not the House.

The Legacy of Obama

Most historians are academics and liberal in their views.  They seem to think Obama ranks about 16 to 20 in the second tier of presidential accomplishments and effectiveness.  If there any conservative historians, I’m sure the ratings will be a lot lower.

OU Frat Rats Go Bonkers

Even back in my day SAE were the “wasp kings” of campus.  Guess it hasn’t changed much.  The racial rant of the two boys got what they deserved from the OU prexy and shutting down the frat house was a good move.

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UNDERSTANDING LEGAL IMMIGRATION – PART II

Here is the final part of our survey on the various facets of LEGAL immigration.

  1. Refugees and Asylees

Protection of Refugees, Asylees and other Vulnerable Populations

There are several categories of legal admission available to people who are fleeing persecution or are unable to return to their homeland due to life-threatening or extraordinary conditions.

Refugees are admitted to the United States based upon an inability to return to their home countries because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to their race, membership in a social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin.  Refugees apply for admission from outside of the United States, generally from a “transition country” that is outside their home country.  The admission of refugees turns on numerous factors such as the degree of risk they face, membership in a group that is of special concern to the United States (designated yearly by the president and Congress), and whether or not they have family members in the U.S.

Each year the president, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions.  The total limit is broken down for each region of the world as well.  After September 11, 2011, the number of refugees admitted into the United States fell drastically, but annual admissions have steadily increased as more sophisticated means of conducting security checks have been put into place.

For fiscal year (FY) 2013, the president set the worldwide refugee ceiling at 70,000, and the regional allocation was as follows:

  • Africa: 12,000
  • East Asia: 17,000
  • Europe and Central Asia: 2,000
  • Latin America/Caribbean: 5,000
  • Near East/South Asia: 31,000
  • Unallocated Reserve: 3,000

TOTAL:  70,000

Asylum – People already in the United States who were persecuted or fear persecution upon their return may apply for asylum within the United States or at a port of entry at the time they seek admission.  They must petition within one year of arriving in the U.S. There is no limit on the number of individuals who may be granted asylum in a given year nor are there specific categories for determining who may seek asylum.

Refugees are eligible to become Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) one year after admission to the United States and asylees are eligible to become LPRs one year after receiving asylum.

  1. The Diversity Visa Program

The Diversity Visa lottery was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 as a dedicated channel for immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.  Each year, 55,000 visas are allocated randomly to nationals from countries that have sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years.  Of the 55,000, up to 5,000 are made available for use under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), a program which grants permanent resident status to certain nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and countries of the former Soviet bloc.  This results in a reduction of the actual annual limit to 50,000.

Although originally intended to favor immigration from Ireland (during the first three years of the program, at least 40 percent of the visas were exclusively allocated to Irish immigrants), the Diversity Visa program has become one of the only avenues for individuals from certain regions in the world to secure a green card.

To be eligible for a diversity visa, an immigrant must have a high-school education (or its equivalent) or have, within the past five years, a minimum of two years working in a profession requiring at least two years of training or experience.  A computer-generated random lottery drawing chooses selectees for diversity visas.  The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the last five years.

People from eligible countries in different continents may register for the lottery.  However, because these visas are distributed on a regional basis, the program especially benefits Africans and Eastern Europeans.  According to the last visa bulletin in FY 2014, the majority of diversity visas will go to aspiring immigrants from African countries.

  1. Other Forms of Humanitarian Relief

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is granted to people who are in the United States but cannot return to their home country because of “natural disaster,” “extraordinary temporary conditions,” or “ongoing armed conflict.”  TPS is granted to a country for six, 12 or 18 months and can be extended beyond that if unsafe conditions in the country persist.

Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) provides protection from deportation for individuals whose home countries are unstable, therefore making return dangerous.  Unlike TPS, which is authorized by statute, DED is at the discretion of the executive branch.

Certain individuals may be allowed to enter the U.S. through parole, even though he or she may not meet the definition of a refugee and may not be eligible to immigrate through other channels.  Parolees may be admitted temporarily for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

  1. U.S. Citizenship

In order to qualify for U.S. citizenship through naturalization, an individual must have had LPR status (a green card) for at least five years (or three years if he or she obtained the green card through a U.S.-citizen spouse or through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  There are other exceptions for members of the U.S. military who serve in a time of war or declared hostilities.  Applicants for U.S. citizenship must be at least 18 years old, demonstrate continuous residency, demonstrate “good moral character,” pass English and U.S. history.

*     *     *

Some facts related to immigration in the U.S., according to Pew Research.  THERE ARE:

2.54 million Muslims

700,000 Russians (all Jewish)

6.5 million Jews

Twenty years ago there were 1.1 billion Muslims in the world.  Twenty years from now that number will double and represent 25% of all people on earth.

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ARIZONA ADOPTS HIGH SCHOOL CIVICS TEST

Beginning in the next school year, students in Arizona high schools must pass the equivalent of the U.S. citizenship test to achieve their diploma under a new law the Republican-controlled state legislature approved.  The first such law in the nation was supported and signed into law on January by Governor Doug Ducey.

To pass, high school students must correctly answer at least 60% of the 100 questions from the civics portion of the exam that new immigrants take.  The test includes questions about basic U.S. history matters such as the Revolutionary War, the founding fathers, powers and rights as defined by the Constitution, and American political figures.

Here are 11 sample questions provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which requires immigrants to pass a 100-question test to obtain their citizenship.

You must score 60% or higher to get citizenship; but since you already have it, you’ll need 90% to pass; however, you don’t have to tell us whether you passed or not.

  1. Under our constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power of the states?
    1. Create an army
    2. Provide schooling and education
    3. Coin or print money
    4. Make treaties
  2. Name one American Indian tribe in the United States
    1. Slavs
    2. Zawi Chemi
    3. Cherokee
    4. Celts
  3. Who was president during the Great Depression and World War II?
    1. Herbert Hoover
    2. Calvin Coolidge
    3. Harry Truman
    4. Franklin Roosevelt
  4. What is freedom of religion?
    1. You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion
    2. No one can practice a religion
    3. You can’t choose the time you practice your religion
    4. You must choose a religion
  5. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?
    1. 9
    2. 10
    3. 11
    4. 12
  6. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?
    1. Freedom of worship and freedom to make treaties with other countries
    2. Freedom of speech and freedom to run for president
    3. Freedom to petition the government and freedom to disobey traffic laws
    4. Freedom of speech and freedom or worship
  7. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.
    1. George Washington
    2. James Madison
    3. John Adams
    4. Thomas Jefferson
  8. What did Susan B. Anthony do?
    1. The first woman elected to the House of Representatives
    2. Founded the American Red Cross
    3. Made the first flag of the United States
    4. Fought for women’s rights
  9. How old do citizens have to be to vote for president?
    1. 16
    2. 18
    3. 35
    4. 21
  10. What do we call the first amendments to the Constitution?
    1. The inalienable rights
    2. The Declaration of Independence
    3. The Articles of Confederation
    4. The Bill of Rights
  11. Under our constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?
    1. To provide police departments
    2. To issue driver’s licenses
    3. To make treaties
    4. To provide schooling

You probably got 100%, so I’m sure you can get a high school diploma in Arizona.

Just in case you have any doubt, here are the answers to this quiz:

  1. 2.  Provide schooling and education
  2. 3.  Cherokee
  3. 4.  Franklin Roosevelt
  4. 1.  You can practice any religion or not practice a religion
  5. 1.  9
  6. 4.  Freedom of speech and freedom of worship
  7. 2.  James Madison
  8. 4.  Fought for women’s rights
  9. 2.  18
  10. 4.  The Bill of Rights
  11. 3.  To make treaties

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