Monday, April 26, 2010

here we go again

Just when we were getting back on speaking terms with our friends and family members after the divisive health care fight, we are now heading into another battle. Illegal immigration.

Can I just sign up for a root canal without Novocain instead?

I can already hear the cries of racist, bigot and anti-immigrant being hurled at me. The last one is my favorite, anti-immigrant. Sure, on my father's side, I can trace my family back to 1731 in Maryland, and that is pretty cool, but even he emigrated from Ireland. On my mom's side, my great grandfather received his US citizenship in 1932. So as the great grandson of Issauro Vieira Silveira, I am a product of immigration and proud of it. But none of that matters.

If I had just received my citizenship yesterday, I would be labeled a racist and bigot if I dare oppose open borders. That is the way the progressive movement works today, prey upon people's fear of being called racist. It makes your opponent go on defense. That play from the left's playbook has worked for quite a while, but I wonder what will happen this year?

I will admit, the left has a huge home court advantage with the media. Just like the tea party folks this year, those who oppose open borders will be smeared as violent, right-wing extremists, ready to blow up buildings if they only had the smarts to mix the chemicals. I can almost write the script for you now. The nightly news will pick out the most extreme "spokesman" from the crowd and make him the poster-child of the movement.

The networks will do prime-time programs detailing the plight of illegal immigrants here in the US. They will focus on the sad cases of people who just want escape the poverty and corruption in Mexico. They will ask, what do we do with the millions of illegal immigrants here, although they will not use the term illegal immigrant, they prefer plain old immigrants or if pushed, undocumented workers.

To me, this is a simple question, one that must be asked and answered. Do we believe we have a border between our sovereign nations, and do we believe there is a legal process in which to become a citizen? Yes or no.

Even Ellis Island had a process, with interviews, exams, and they turned many away.

As the government of Mexico slowly sinks into a power struggle with the anarchy of the drug cartels, the violence and chaos is spilling over the border into places like Arizona.

I hear a lot of talk about comprehensive immigration reform. If you haven’t figured this out already, and most people have, comprehensive means amnesty and citizenship for the millions of illegal aliens already here in the US. That is what it meant when President Bush introduced it years ago, that is what it means today. Whichever party can deliver amnesty and social spending programs to these millions will have a very loyal voting block for generations to come. This is about votes and political power as much as anything else.

How about this for a comprehensive immigration solution; a nice big fence first. I am willing to discuss some sort of way to deal with millions here, but only when we have secured the border. Don’t we have tens of billions in unspent federal stimulus money? I can hardly think of a better way to spend it. If we are not going to credit it back to offset the trillion dollar deficits, let's put a few hundred thousand workers back to work building walls and fence.

The Democrats are always telling us how much they love the work programs of FDR’s New Deal, let them prove it. We already borrowed the money; let’s put it to good use for a change. Wow, who knew big government was so useful?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Fame, power and the human condition

As I sit down to write this, Eldrick Woods has just finishing playing golf at the immaculate and meticulously manicured, Augusta National golf club. Watching the highlights of The Masters golf tournament, one might get the impression that Tiger Woods is back, and has put his public relations nightmare behind him. Not so fast.

To be sure, there are hundreds and thousands of Tiger's fans who are following him on the course, cheering just as loud as they ever did. Unless there is another monumental lapse in Tiger's behavior, fifteen years from now, after a few more major championships, people will say that Woods was the best golfer the world has ever seen. However, his public image, an image just as meticulously crafted and maintained as Augusta's greens, will forever carry a tarnish that can never be polished off.

I remember seeing Tiger when he was about 13 or 15 years old on TV, and I was amazed at his talent. He seemed like a great young man who possessed everything needed to be a sports super star. In the first years of his professional career, Woods was a machine. Win a few golf tournaments, practice, make a few television commercials, win another tournament, repeat. He kept his private life private, as he constructed a professional image that drew corporate sponsorship dollars like no one since Michael Jordan had.

Today, I guess everyone is asking the same question; why? Why would Tiger Woods jeopardize everything he has?

The frailties of human nature, especially the human male, are not a mystery to most of us. As men, we know that no matter how good our lives are, no matter how much we love our families, we are surrounded by temptation. The temptation of more, better, perfect, pleasure, they are all out there, and we are bombarded with their message in every type of media we encounter. So why do some men submit to these temptations, while others are tempted, but turn away? In my case, that answer is easy; my wife knows how to shoot.

Given the choice, I'd take a 5-iron to the noggin over a .38 caliber slug any day.

No one can know for sure what caused Tiger Woods' moral implosion. Nevertheless, I would bet that he didn't start down this dark road of infidelity knowing he would end up here. We never do.

The one thing about success, especially at a super star level, is you start believing too much in your own abilities. The mental discipline, the focus, the decision-making abilities you used to succeed in your profession seem like they allow you to do whatever you choose. So why not choose a little fun?

Why not go back to the hotel with this beautiful woman? You have the discipline; you can have this one sinful treat, just this one time. You can have this one little weekend together; you have the strength to stop any time, right? You can have this one relationship outside your marriage, and maybe one other, you deserve it. I can have these two separate lifestyles, one for the corporate sponsors, my public image, and this one where I can do whatever I want with whomever I choose. I can stop at any time, I can.

To quote scripture; Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (For some reason, the King James version seems to hit he between the eyes)

Many a politician, celebrity, athlete, pastor and postman have fallen from grace, telling themselves they can stop any time. When we convince ourselves we are strong enough to go down this road, just a little way and then turn back, we are heading for a fall. The distance we fall, and the damage we cause, is only a matter of when we are caught. Thank your lucky stars if you do catch yourself taking that off ramp and veer back onto the straight and narrow in time. You are fortunate indeed.

So, Tiger Woods is back playing golf. This may be the one place where he feels in control right now. I once was a big Tiger fan. The things he can do on a golf course are amazing. That concentration, that focus, and his natural talent are all things to admire in a professional golfer. As a person, I cannot quite bring myself to root for him. I don't know if I ever will.

I am all for forgiveness and second chances, but when you screw up this badly, when you have been living 180 degrees away from you carefully managed public image, you need more than just a press conference to make things right. Either your marriage and your children are the most important things in the world, or they're not. If you never played another round of golf, you would still have more money that ten people could spend in a lifetime.

I'm sure you are sorry that you were caught, but it seems like you have turned that famous focus and discipline into rebuilding your public image, not rebuilding yourself as a person. This could be a golden opportunity to become a great person, not just a great golfer. I know the latter pays better than the former, but I guess we all have our priorities.

If Tiger goes on to break Jack Nicklaus’ record for major championships, I will tip my hat and say, he is the best golfer to have played the game. He could be so much more.