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Category: Opinion


In last week’s issue, our story on the Pioneer Boys & Girls Club of America mentioned, Herbert Brookall, who is actually Herbert Crookall, a junior police detective back in the 60’s. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Thoughts & Views: Do we cross this ‘red line’?

Every day the civilian casualties mount in war-torn Syria, with an estimated 1,000 deaths blamed on chemical weapons, allegedly used by the Assad regime, or so we’re told by President Obama.

The President wants to send “a shot across the bow” to show the U.S. means business when we say we’re horrified that a government would gas its own citizens to stay in power.

And Sen. Robert Menendez (D-Union City) has got the President’s back, saying that while it’s nice to try and saddle up Congress for the ride, he shouldn’t wait too long for a consensus before firing those missiles.

Maybe don’t even wait for the U.N. inspectors to document the deadly deed before striking, the congressman suggested.

Congressional Republicans and many Democrats – recalling how lawmakers were misled by previous administrations into deadly forays into Iraq and Vietnam – are demanding that the President show convincing proof that the Assad government plotted to use sarin gas against insurgents.

In Russia, Putin – who has been an ally of Assad – says nothing while the British Parliament rejects the Prime Minister’s call to arms.

Meanwhile, the numbers of the dead in Syria continue to rise, with an estimated 100,000 people having been killed in the two years that the country’s civil war has raged.

That ugly fact, alone, should rouse the international community into action to stop the bloodshed and destruction of cities. But this isn’t the first time that empty words have greeted wanton acts of violence and the slaughter of innocents around the globe. Remember Rawanda, the former Yugoslavia, the government-sanctioned indiscriminate sexual attacks on women in Somalia (even Doctors Without Borders have abandoned that country out of fear of lawlessness), the drug cartels’ killings in Mexico and elsewhere, the gassing of millions of Jews, political dissidents and gypsies in Nazi Germany, all the way back to the Crusades.

Geopolitical experts predict that any blow struck by the U.S. against Syria could ignite a powder keg in the region, with Iran poised to invade Israel as a retaliatory move and Syria’s neighbors warring on ethnic lines.

Many Americans, fed up with hopeless and costly military interventions and what they perceive as too many senseless deaths of U.S. military personnel, say that we should give up the notion of being the world’s policeman, that we shouldn’t be sticking our nose into other nations’ business.

Of course, with technology making the world smaller all the time, it will hardly be a surprise to Syria’s government if the U.S. decides to send that “warning shot” from one of our carriers in the region. With all the posturing going on by both sides, the whole controversy has taken on the trappings of a promotion for a WBC championship bout.

In the end, though, neither side will be a “winner” from more killing; we can talk all we want about implanting the ideals of democracy in Syria, Egypt, Iraq or Afghanistan but the roots of ethnic divisiveness seem so deep in that part of the world that American military intervention alone – even assuming the best of intentions – may simply be misguided and lead to even more tragic consequences.

If we really want “stability” in the Middle East, is it going to be accomplished through the threat of U.S. military force and the workings of the CIA?

Or should we continue to hope for – in the spirit of Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations concept – and work toward global cooperation among nations to achieve world peace?

Take your pick.

– Ron Leir

Thoughts & Views: Woke up, it was a Chelsea Manning



By now, you have heard that Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, pictured here as his alter-ego, and as he is now, to “live his life as a woman.” Named Chelsea.

I have no problem with that. He can live his life as a chimpanzeee named Chelsea for all I care. I do, however, have a problem with my tax dollars paying for his hormone treatments.

According to a written statement sent to the “Today” show and signed “Chelsea E. Manning,” the convicted WikiLeaker says: “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. . . . I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”

If Manning has felt this way since childhood, one wonders why he/she didn’t pursue his/her transgender goal earlier. And on his/her own dime.

But no, he leaks classified documents, is convicted and sentenced to 35 years in Leavenworth, and then announces that he is seeking gender reassignment.

While prisoners are entitled to (taxpayer-funded) medical care, a spokesman for the Fort Leavenworth military prison said it “does not offer sex reassignment or hormone therapy for the inmates housed at the facility,” The Washington Post reported. He had better doublecheck; for all we know, sex reassignment might be an Obamacare entitlement.

In any case, Manning’s lawyer told “Today” he intends to do “everything in my power to make sure” his client’s wishes are accommodated.

The Post also reported that in 2010, while serving as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad, Manning sent an e-mail to a superior officer describing his “struggles with a gender-identity disorder.”

He wrote: “I thought enlisting in the military would get rid of it. . . . “ For an intelligence officer, Manning comes across as pretty dumb.

One wonders, though: If he does get the government (us) to pay for gender reassignment, would it (we) also have to then foot the bill for makeup, wigs and clothing?

For those of you who think I am being crass and insensitive – yes, I am. I am not, however, mocking those with gender issues. They can’t help it.

However, they should not expect anyone other than themselves to pay for whatever therapy or surgery they want.

Indeed, now that I am approaching my dotage, I am thinking of living the rest of my life as a man.

Not because I am attracted to women. I am not. Let’s get that straight (no pun intended). But because even in so-called liberated society, men have the advantage.

Men can:

• Date someone 20 years younger and not be labeled a “cougar.”

• Faced with hair loss, shave their heads and still look sexy.

• Faced with a double chin, grow a beard. • Own only two pairs of shoes: sneakers and sandals.

• Wear white knee socks with the sandals.

• Wear long, baggy shorts with the sandals and socks. •

Go unembarrassedly to the beach no matter how chubby they are.

• Live on take-out without being judged, because no one expects them to cook.

• Pay someone else to clean the house and not be called lazy.

Chelsea, dear, have you REALLY thought this through?

– Karen Zautyk

P.S. On another matter, my story last week on the 1943 Congoleum-Nairn explosion gave two different times that the blast occurred. The correct time was 5:50 p.m., not 5:05. The latter was a typo.


Fate spared one worker at Congoleum-Nairn blast

To the Editor:

I am one of the “older folks” who remembers the explosion at the Congoleum-Nairn. I was 10 years old at the time. Both of my parents were employed at the plant. My father worked there for many years and my mother joined him when the Nairn began war work. Yes, they did make more than camouflage netting. My mother learned how to run a lathe and made the nose cones for bazookas! (Ammunition was filled in elsewhere.) My parents worked opposite shifts day/ evening so one of them could be home with me. However, on the day of the explosion I was at the shore for a week as the guest of my aunt and uncle. When the news reached us I realized that one or the other of my parents would have been at work. Our family did not have a phone nor did the bungalow at the shore. It was a great relief when I received a letter a few days later from my mother stating that my dad – for the first time ever – was assigned to the midnight shift that week.

My father was a volunteer member of the Nairn’s emergency squad. I learned that he immediately donned his hard hat and headed down hill from our house on Highland Ave. He was one of those workers looking through the rubble and debris for bodies.

I’m still a Kearny resident and often pass the remaining Nairn buildings. When I do, I thank God my Dad was on the midnight shift for one week of the 39 years he was employed.

Joan Miller McCann


Thoughts & Views: A perspective on ‘stop-and-frisk’

A federal court has concluded that the New York Police Department’s stopand- frisk policy violates the constitutional rights of minorities – predominantly blacks and Latinos – who, each time they were accosted by police – were victimized by a “demeaning and humiliating experience.”

The Bloomberg administration has challenged that finding, reasoning that the policy has been an essential part of the NYPD toolbox in significantly reducing crime by taking guns off the streets and trimming the number of murders over the past decade.

An appeal of the ruling has yet to be heard.

It may be instructive to recall (with help from Wikipedia) that the stop-and-frisk policy was sanctioned by the nation’s highest tribunal in a landmark case known as Terry v. Ohio which stemmed from an incident that happened on Oct. 31, 1963, in downtown Cleveland when city Det. Martin McFadden observed two men – John Terry and Richard Chilton – repeatedly pacing back and forth along the same path, pausing to look into a store window.

Terry and Chilton then met a third man and the three talked briefly before the third man left. All three then met in front of another store a few blocks away. At that point, the detective, suspecting the men were “casing a job,” identified himself to the pair, spun Terry around, patted him down and felt a bulge in his coat pocket. After ordering all three inside the store, McFadden took off Terry’s coat and pulled out a gun from the pocket. He also removed a gun from Chilton’s coat pocket.

Terry and Chilton were charged with carrying concealed weapons but the suspects’ defense moved to suppress the use of the seized weapons as evidence on the grounds that the search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment and the suspects’ right to privacy. But the court rejected that argument, reasoning that McFadden had cause to believe that Terry and Chilton were acting suspiciously and that McFadden had the right to search them for his own protection on the belief that they might be armed.

On June 10, 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court, then led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, affirmed a prior ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that police may stop someone if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that that person has committed or is about to commit a crime, and may search that person’s outer clothing for weapons if they have reasonable suspicion that the person “may be armed and presently dangerous.”

But, as a Wikipedia entry on the case notes, this search must be based, not on an officer’s “hunch,” but on “specific and articulable facts.”

Associate Justice William O. Douglas, an extreme liberal, was the lone dissenter, saying: “To give the police greater power than a magistrate [to authorize such a search] is to take a long step down the totalitarian path. Perhaps such a step is desirable to cope with modern forms of lawlessness. But if it is taken, it should be the deliberate choice of the people through a constitutional amendment.”

The court’s majority recognized that permitting an officer to conduct a search “… while the citizen stands helpless, perhaps facing a wall with his hands raised … is a serious intrusion upon the sanctity of the person, which may inflict great indignity and arouse strong resentment, and it is not to be taken lightly.”

Asked his thoughts on the subject, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie – who recommended that his questioner look up the Terry case for background – said the policy has value. “It’s been proven in New York that it has cut down on crime,” he said.

“We’ve got damn good street crime cops in Kearny,” Dowie said. “In a place like Kearny, you get to know the criminality, their specialties. It’s good to keep the pressure up on them, let them know they’re being watched.”

And, Dowie said, if an officer has a “reasonable suspicion” (there’s that legal phrase again) that something’s wrong, then they have “probable cause” to act. The trigger for that action could be a “bulge in a coat, a suspected “hand-to-hand drug transaction,” or knowledge about an individual’s “past history.”

But the key for the officer involved is acting within the scope of the law, Dowie said. “Anytime you’re making an arrest,” and particularly if a stop-and-frisk is involved, “the officer should be thinking, “Is this defensible in court?’

’’As for the possibility of cops “targeting” certain ethnic elements of the population, Dowie observed that, “A lot of the technology we’ve been afforded takes the element of alleged harassment out of [the equation]. If your license plate reader goes off at 3 a.m., you’re not going to know if the driver is white, black, whatever.”

If U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin in New York has her way, officers in certain designated precincts in representative boroughs may be going on patrol with small cameras affixed to them as a way of documenting any stop-and- frisks.

We will await, with interest, results of the city’s appeal.

– Ron Leir

Thoughts & Views: In praise of lousy prose

If you love good writing, you probably also love bad writing–providing it’s deliberately bad. It takes a good writer to deliberately create bad writing. Which is why fans of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest wait impatiently every year for the prizes to be awarded.

The contest, named for 19th century British novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton — who coined “it was a dark and stormy night” — has been around since 1982. Sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University, the competition challenges entrants to compose “the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.”

Here are some of my favorities among the recently announced 2013 winners. As usual, I find the runners-up funnier than the top choices, so my picks are not necessarily the judges’.

In the Adventure category:

“As the sun dropped below the horizon, the safari guide confirmed the approaching cape buffaloes were herbivores, which calmed everyone in the group, except for Herb, of course.” — Ron D. Smith, Louisville, Ky. 

Crime writing:

“It was such a beautiful night; the bright moonlight illuminated the sky, the thick clouds floated leisurely by just above the silhouette of the tall, majestic trees, and I was viewing it all from the front row seat of the bullet hole in my car trunk.” — Tonya Lavel, Barbados, W.I.

“Observing how the corpse’s blood streaked the melting vanilla ice cream, Frank wanted to snap his pen in half and add drops of blue ink to the mix, completing the color trio of the American flag — or the French flag, given that the body had just fallen from the top of the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower onto a creme glacee cart.” — Alanna Smith, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.


“There once was a nasty, evil troll who lived beneath a bridge and took pleasure in collecting gold from the unsuspecting users of the infrastructure; however, no one used the bridge because an evil troll lived under it so the troll didn’t do much of anything.” — Rachel Flanigan, Honolulu

“This was going to be a science fiction novel until I realized that you actually have to know some real science for it to work well, so I changed it to a fantasy novel instead, because that way I can just make up the rules as I go, unhampered by the laws of physics or chemistry, as if you knew what they were anyway.” — Thor F. Carden, Madison Tenn.

Historical Fiction:

“It was a long shot by any measure, good bowman though he was, and he didn’t want to risk it with his kid, but a lot was on the line, and that big, red apple was square on his dear boy’s head, and he had to shoot it off . . . then everything went still, and William Tell heard the sound of music, quiet, then gently rising, like an overture.” — John Holmes, St. Petersburg, Fla.

“General Lee arranged for the dreaded surrender yet capitalized on his opponents’ weaknesses to the very end, striking a tiny parting blow for the Army of Northern Virginia (chuckling to himself) as he remembered from Academy days how many Union commanders had struggled with spelling even common words, and so ran his finger along the map and settled on Appomattox.” — Randal Pilz, Milton, Fla.

Purple Prose:

“There is a special pinkness to the sky as the sun rises on a crisp January morning, kissing the clouds, warming the fields, and waking the livestock, who move quietly to their feet and begin to mill about their pens, like patrons in a crowded theater lobby who, instead of waiting to see the show, are waiting to be made into steaks or bacon.” — Ward Willats, Felton, Calif.


“Our tale begins with the encounter of two gentlemen; I’m going to describe the second gentleman first.” — Mark Donnelly, County Wicklow, Ireland

“Tony was unsure if the voice had said ‘Sven’ or ‘Ten’, but no one had ever called him Sven, and the ceiling lights were shining directly into his eyes, and recognizing the familiar sad, yet concerned, look on the referee’s face, he was gonna go with ‘Ten’.”– Warren Blair, Ashburn, Va.

Vile Puns:

“What the Highway Department’s chief IT guy for the new computerized roadway hated most was listening to the ‘smart’ components complain about being mixed with asphalt instead of silicon and made into speed bumps instead of graceful vases, like the one today from chip J176: ‘I coulda had glass; I coulda been a container; I coulda been some bottle, instead of a bump, which is what I am’.” — Brian Brandt, Lansdale, Pa.

“The veterinarian had suggested the tasty yellow fruit as a way to cure the undiagnosed lack of appetite that was ebbing away the very life of his fluffy little friend and Mark was fraught with anguish as he kept wondering, ‘Will a chick eat a banana?’” — Nancy Hoffman, Peaks Island, Maine

For more, much more, visit www.bulwer-lytton.com “where ‘www’ means ‘wretched writers welcome’.”

– Karen Zautyk

Thoughts & Views: This brand of ‘Tea’ too bitter for my taste

In the 1962 film, “The Manchurian Candidate,” a fictional right-wing U.S. senator named John Iselin takes every opportunity to sound the alarm about Communists in the Defense Department to promote himself in the public eye.

Today, members of the Tea Party – the Republican right wing – are sounding an alarm about reckless spending that’s scaring the crap out of moderate Republicans, because they figure the electorate’s going to turn them out if they don’t trod on Uncle Sam’s wasteful ways.

Back at the original Boston Tea Party, historians say, some scalawags tossed British tea into Boston Harbor because it was taxed by Parliament and not by the Colonies. Seems even then, taxes got a bad name.

But today’s Tea-totallers want to abstain from spending and from government intervention, period.

Whether that’s Obamacare, increasing the minimum wage, providing college tuition grants, or giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, gun control measures … it doesn’t matter – they’re against it.

They’ve done their best to deadlock Congress into immobility and budget sequestration. Well, if there are to be cuts across the board, then by all means, let there be cuts made to congressional salaries and health benefits.

(President Obama has reportedly committed to providing health insurance coverage for members of Congress and their aides so they don’t have to trudge to the insurance exchange like the rest of us, so never mind about that part of it.)

Generally speaking, the Tea Partyers figure the less government in our lives, the better we are for it.

Well, I say they’re misreading their Tea leaves.

I know of two friends, originally from the New York/ New Jersey metro area who are college educated, hard workers, in their 50s and 60s, who’ve been drummed out of the marketplace.

One, who lost a job in publishing as a result of the industry downsizing, has spent five years in temp jobs in California and Oregon before landing a health care-related job in North Carolina; the other had a state job in Alaska before relocating to Nevada and Oregon in search of employment opportunities for the past two years.

In the process, they’ve collected unemployment, gone through their savings, borrowed, burned up computer terminals sending out hundreds of job applications, only to be told they’re overqualified or there are no openings.

Since the advent of the national recession in 2008, there have been countless other Americans cast out with no real safety net to catch them. And, no doubt, the Tea Partyers will say don’t expect the government to bail you out.

But what has corporate America done to help? Since the big banks are still keeping a tight lid on their assets, the private sector has generally been handcuffed in efforts to grow and expand.

Enlightened governments of Canada, Scandinavia, Europe have stepped up to try to improve the quality of life for their citizens, particularly with medical care, education, worker rights and public transportation.

We’re capable of doing that, too. We need only to readjust our national priorities.

It’s time to throw the Tea Partyers overboard.

– Ron Leir

Thoughts & Views: Now don’t get all squirrelly



Mulling possible topics for this week’s column, I first thought of Anthony Weiner. But the man is such an egotism-warped, morally/ethically/ truthiness-challenged fool, writing about him would be too depressing.

Instead, I am writing about the Black Death.

Also known as the bubonic plague.

The Black Death, carried by fleas that were infesting the rats that were infesting merchant ships, is thought to have originated in Asia in the 14th century. According to Wikipedia, by the mid-century it had spread to Europe, first via the Silk Road and then into multiple ports on the aforementioned ships.

The peak plague years were 1348-1350. An estimated 75 million to 200 million people died. By other estimates, the plague killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s total population.

I have often wondered why the disease just disappeared.

Well, guess what? It didn’t. It’s still around.

Right now, it’s apparently up in the hills above Los Angeles, where four campgrounds in the Angeles National Forest were closed last week after a plague-infected squirrel was found dead in a trap. (I have warned you, my readers, before: Camping–indeed any outdoor activity in spooky, woody places–is not wise. There are bears out there. And serial killers. And now, plagueinfected squirrels.)

I had to learn about the squirrel from Craig Ferguson since the local news channels, at least the ones I watched, did not see fit to report it, being more concerned with interminable weather reports.

At first, I was frightened. But then I learned something extraordinary: The Black Death is now readily curable. Thanks to antibiotics. Provided the victim is treated within 24 hours of the appearance of symptoms.

I find that amazing. I mean, I am aware of all our wonder drugs (by which I mean ones that actually work and don’t end up causing more problems than they cure), but to think that something that killed millions is now easily treated with some pills does astonish my small brain.

Info on plague symptoms and everything else you might want to know is available from the Centers for Disease Control’s Frequently Asked Questions About Plague website. I am not making that up. Check out www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/

And if you have a strong stomach and want to know what bubonic plague looks like, you can check Google images and see why it was also called the Black Death.

As for plague in the modern era: “Plague was first introduced into the United States in 1900, by rat-infested steamships that had sailed from affected areas, mostly from Asia,” the CDC says. “The last urban plague epidemic in the United States occurred in Los Angeles [!] from 1924 through 1925. Plague then spread from urban rats to rural rodent species, and became entrenched in many areas of the western United States.”

According to the CDC, five to 15 cases of plague in humans are recorded annually in the western states. Specific areas detailed on the FAQ website.

Reuters reported that the Los Angeles County Department of Health last week assured the public that “there have been only four cases of human plague in Los Angeles County residents since 1984, none of which were fatal.”

As for the Angeles National Forest, squirrel burrows are reportedly being dusted for fleas.

There. Now haven’t I brightened your day? Are you not reassured?

Now, why is it that the Spanish Flu, which in 1918-1920 killed 50 million to 100 million people worldwide, has never reappeared? Or has it? Or will it?

Just asking.

– Karen Zautyk


Protect us from the Passaic

To the Editor:

On July 23 on the news, Gov. Chris Christie clearly stated, “There will be other storms. Hopefully, not as severe as Sandy.” He was addressing those down the Shore. What, if anything, have you seen done from the Newark Basin up river to Harrison, Kearny, North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Rutherford? The state can build sound walls up and down every road in New Jersey but they can’t build a retaining wall along the Passaic River.

The sound on the highways wasn’t going to destroy peoples’ lives or cause the loss of belongings, family pictures, everything they worked for all their lives.

Federal, state and county government had no problem selling us down the river by allowing every form of contamination seep into our lives and for unknown reasons they refuse to save us from the river.

The Jersey Shore was a onetime issue and every agency ran to its rescue and continues to – we in this area have been hit four times primarily due to the lack of due diligence. With a wedged 30-foot boat, blocked channels, and much, much more, the erosion has gone unchecked.

Marie Cush


Thank you from Lyndhurst Health Department

The Lyndhurst Health Department would like to thank the following groups and businesses who helped make its first annual Senior Health Fair a great success: AAA, Al Ferrara of BCHS, Audiology and Hearing Aid Solutions, Clara Maass Medical Center, Dave Mihlon of Park Financial Group, Gentle Dental, Haley Chiropractic, JFVS, Kessler Rehabilitation Center, King’s Court, Rite Aid of Rutherford, Senior Helpers, Specialty Medical Services, Walgreens of North Arlington, Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst, and YMCA Area Meadowlands. The Health Department would also like to thank the Lyndhurst Pastry Shop and Shop Rite of Lyndhurst for the generous donations of cookies and fruit platters.

Sarah Anderson

Public Health Nurse/ Health Coordinator

Thoughts & Views: Still plenty of afflictions to cure, here & abroad

The time is out of joint – O cursed spite,

That ever I was born to set it right!

–“Hamlet”: Act 1, scene 5

You don’t need to be tipped off by any ghost to know that the world has gone mad these days with a global glut of insanity sufficient to send any sober-minded soul into the abyss.

Far be it from me to say that I’ve got the answers for the world’s ills but, at the very least, I can bring a reminder of some of the crises to your attention and perhaps a general outcry from the masses will help bring pressure on our public servants to right those wrongs.

Turmoil in Syria continues to call for intervention by the international community. With nearly 2 million of the country’s residents displaced by the civil war, and with many forced into crowded refugee camps, surely that should be enough to push the United Nations Security Council into action, to force the combatants to the negotiating table and crack down on the flow of weapons into the country.

Now, the Obama administration, with perhaps the best of intentions, says it supports arming the anti-al Assad insurgents – up to a point – but is that commitment a precursor to troops on the ground? Obama says it isn’t but who knows?

Meanwhile, the lives of Syrian citizens – people just trying to make a living, attend university, etc. – are being mightily disrupted and cities, along with ancient historic treasures, are being destroyed.

Something’s got to give.

So, too, with the peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, being aided and abetted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

If the negotiators for the Palestinians can be persuaded to acknowledge the existence and validity of the State of Israel and if those who speak for Israel can agree to compromise a bit on the borders issue, we could begin to see movement toward a two-state solution.

No easy thing, indeed, after so much enmity in the region and blood spilled. But reasonable adults can find a way to agree for the sake of peace.

In Russia, meanwhile, the recent conviction and sentencing of dissident Aleksei Navalny – who was found innocent by a court of allegations that he stole from a timber company – reminds us how the Putin regime treats those who dare speak out against officially-sanctioned corruption.

It should also remind us that our country’s democratic process – skewed though it is in favor of the banks and big corporations – still affords its citizens with an opportunity for due process and the right to be heard without facing the likely prospect of time behind bars.

And despite the operations of secret FISA courts in the U.S., the New Jersey Supreme Court has offered some solace to privacy advocates with its majority ruling that law enforcement agencies must first secure a warrant before asking Verizon to track a suspect through his or her cell phone transmissions.

Meanwhile, where is the Congress headed with plans for immigration reform?

On the one hand, one version of the bill being considered proposes to loosen current visa restrictions for foreign students, for those highly-skilled and for agricultural workers, for example, and would create a 13-year path to citizenship for those living here since prior to 2012. Advocates say these measures will boost our economy by allowing the government to collect substantial new tax revenues from the influx of prospective new citizens.

On the other hand, the bill would double the length of the security wall across our southern border and double the number of security agents, allegedly ensuring a 90% “capture” rate of those looking to enter the U.S. illegally.

Conservatives are against the provisions of the bill that would extend citizenship opportunities to those currently here without the proper documents, saying that is unfair to those who were born overseas and went through proper channels to establish themselves here legally.

But America has always been a beacon to those living in developing countries or in lands where poverty is the daily norm. Should we now be thinking of closing our doors to those aspiring to make a better life for themselves and their families?

Compared to the rest of the world, we are still a young country and still puzzling over how to interact with our neighbors in an ever-shrinking globe. And we are still a democratic republic with many of the republic’s virtues – though not perfect – still intact.

Let us endeavor to live up to those ideals, as best we can, in an imperfect world.

–Ron Leir