Monday, March 20, 2006

Email from my cousin Beth

Beth writes as follows (I asked her for permission to republish this, and she said go for it.)

"Hi there-

I AM REALLY REALLY MAD. (And this is really long.) From
time to time, I have to get this stuff off my chest;
otherwise I will implode. This is my political and
social rant.

Let me summarize before most of you stop reading. I
want to live in the country I believe in. I believe in
the country that is tolerant of religious differences.
I believe in the country which is accepting of
different races. I belive in the country which has
compassion for its fellow man. I believe in the
country that actually enjoyed and celebrated its civil
rights. The civil rights are a really big deal because
it is so much easier to lose them than it is to get
them back.

I will translate the 4th Amendment from legalese to
English: We have the RIGHT to be safe from the
government. The cannot enter our homes or listen to
our conversations without someone who has sworn under
oath that they have probable cause to believe that a
crime has been committed. Bottom line: THE GOVERNMENT
YOUR PHONE. What the government has done is to tap.
They have not obtained a warrant. They have not had
someone swear under oath that someone committed a
crime and they have a good reason. What the government
did was TAP. No warrant. No ProbableCause.

My country does NOT spy on its own citizens. My
country follows its own laws. My Senate does NOT
create a committee to monitor the ILLEGAL SPYING OF
THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. My country investigates the
illegal activities and does something about it. Yes,
the president has power, but no more power than what
the legislative and judicial branches give it. The
point is NOT TO SEIZE A BUNCH OF POWER!!!! The point
is to govern the country in a lawful manner.

And what happened to compassion? The janitors in
Houston have organized themselves into a union. In the
South, Union is a dirty word, and a lot of people are
really mad about the union. Right now, janitors make
minimum wage, work 4 hours/day, and most have to work
3 jobs to make ends meet. Most work for 5.36/hour. If
you do the math, if they work 3 jobs for 12 hours/day,
5 days a week, they make about 16,700/year. What is a
single mom or dad to do? They can barely put food on
the table and they can't really raise their own
children because they aren't home long enough to teach
them how to work and live and be good people. The
American dream encourages people to work 3 jobs
because they are convinced their children will become
part of that dream. If we want to maintain a
workforce, we will have to do something to maintain
that dream.

My country abolished slavery with the 13th amendment.
It solidified this decision with the 14th amendment
which declared due process of law for all. The Racial
differences: It is OK to be White in this country. It
is more OK to be Black than it used to be, because
people who look like they are of Middle Eastern
descent have taken the place at the bottom of the
totem pole. This is not my country.

My country was founded on equality for all. The 14th
Amendment ensured due process rights for everyone who
is on this country's soil. It is less ok to be
Hispanic, because a Vigilante group exists in Texas to
enforce immigration law. This group makes citizen's
arrests on people who "look illegal." There are
obvious problems with their logic. First, a
significant portion of the people who live in Texas
are of Hispanic descent. They are going to be
harrassing a lot of people who are US citizens by
birth, US citizens by choice, Temporary Resident
Aliens, and Permanent Resident Aliens (I understand
there are also subclasses of those with temporary
status but the details escape me). I work in the
municipal and justice courts in and around Houston,
and a disproportionate percentage of the defendants in
those courts are people of some sort of color. It
gets worse in the smaller municipalities; racism is
alive and well in 2006. This is not my country.

My country was founded upon equality for all. Post 911
we held thousands of Americans of Arab descent in
custody without rights for months. We held thousands
of Arab people with green cards (legal immigration
status) for months without rights. This is not my

My country was founded upon principles of religious
freedom and tolerance. In 2006, if you want to donate
$$ to your local Islamic charity, you can't. The State
Department refuses to publish the list of Islamic
charities on the terrorist watch list, so you don't
know if you are going to be the subject of an inquiry
for trying to help out your local mosque. This is
not my country.

My country recognizes that Jews are the reason the
Christian religion exists and that Jews and Christians
are the reason the Islamic religion exists. My country
recognizes that the New Age people may be kind of
weird, but hey, if they have a religion, that's just
fine. It even recognizes the right NOT to have a
religion--if you want to go to hell, that's your

And my state, the state I have chosen to call home for
almost a decade has given its collective thumbs up to
Tom Delay in the Republican primary (who has been
indicted for FELONIES and the subject of numerous
House ethics investigations). These are the same
people who voted to impeach Clinton for cheating on
his wife and lying about it. I am sure it is much more
complicated than that, but the message I see is this:
It is NOT ok to betray your wife and lie about it. It
IS ok to betray the public trust and violate your oath
of office. (I know as a defense attorney that he has
only been indicted, and if I were his attorney I would
be screaming about the political motivation behind the
charge, but he has been the subject of multiple
inquiries before. On a personal note: He is slimy and
I don't trust him.) I don't trust my elected officials
not to lie to me, I just want them to lie a little
less about the big things. This is not my country.

Love You All!

Beth "


There you go: my cousin, the patriot.


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