Poetry in Ellenville
A special shout out to Empowering Ellenville for sponsoring a poetry reading this past week and for the poets, young and old, who shared their work. It was inspiring to feel the shared energy, the listening, respect and attention that each paid to the other... There will be another open mic for poetry at Empowering Ellenville on April 14 at 7 p.m. The Center is at 159 Canal Street in downtown Ellenville. Everyone is invited to come, sign up and read... There are several excellent restaurants within 200 feet of our Center and I encourage you to give Ellenville another look!
A Local Deportation Case Arises...
Just yesterday I finished writing an article about several ways in which the Trump agenda is directly having adverse effects on my work as a modern academic. But before that one even hits the press, an emergent situation — on a totally different front — has emerged in our small upstate town. Welcome to the USA in 2017...
I'm now feeling obligated to let the world know so as to potentially help with this egregious situation. Be ready to be absolutely outraged.
Joel Guerrero is a resident of my small town of New Paltz. He immigrated here legally from the Dominican Republic. His family moved here when he was a teenager. They came here for the same reason that my ancestors came here about 100 years ago. To have a better life. To pursue the American Dream. This is the United States of America and, to my mind, this is the entire point of the constitution of our great nation.
Joel works in the field of construction and is married to long-standing resident of New Paltz, Jessica Guerrero. She grew up in New Paltz. She graduated from the same high school that my daughter goes to right now. She took classes at SUNY New Paltz, where I teach. She and I have 10 common Facebook friends. This is New Paltz — this is small-town America. And this is a town full of people living the American Dream. Without knowing Jessica well, I will say this in case it is not obvious: I stand for her and her family and their right to pursue the American Dream.
Jessica is now pregnant with Joel's baby. They are excited to build a family here in New Paltz. And just hearing their story makes me excited for them.
So you can imagine how up in arms people in my little town are to hear that Joel is now behind bars in a federal immigration detention facility in New Jersey. He was arrested after a routine semi-annual meeting with ICE officials last week. It was a surprise arrest.
He was not given the option to have an attorney represent him. He is currently behind bars — with the rationale being that he (a) missed one meeting with immigration officials seven years ago and (b) he had some misdemeanor arrest regarding marijuana possession when he was in his 20s.
Joel Guerrero is married to a native of the USA — she is pregnant with their child. He immigrated here legally 10 years ago with his family, in an effort to pursue the American dream. And he is behind bars as I type right now.
I have one question for the new administration of our nation regarding this situation, and it is this: are you out of your mind?
We all know full well that we are a country comprised almost exclusively of immigrants and relatively recent descendants of immigrants. We all know full well that the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of the openness that our nation has to people from all corners of the world. We all know that the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States ends in "... liberty and justice for ALL."
When my wife and I moved to New Paltz in 2000, our plan was to build roots and work toward the American Dream in this wonderful little upstate town. No doubt that the Guerreros have the same plan in mind.
This is still the United States of America, and I am here to tell you that if you are outraged at this insanity (and I hope you are), you have options. Please write to your representatives in Washington, DC. Write to New York State officials. Write to your local newspapers. Use your first amendment rights to the fullest. And express your concern. This is the United States of America, and we have freedom of speech and freedom of the press. As we all work through this difficult time in our history, do not ever for one second forget the guarantees of the First Amendment.
Let the world know that you are a patriot — that you stand for the values of the United States of America. And that you will not tolerate this act of Anti-Americanism for one second.
I stand with the Guerrero family, and with thousands of families around the nation who are dealing with similar instances during this dark time in US history. Let's follow Senator Elizabeth Warren's lead. We, the defenders of the values of the United States, must persist.
If ever there was a time to become politically active and rise up, that time is now. Here is to the uprising.
It's my fault — It's your fault — We've done it together. We've done it by ignoring the fact that true democracy means being involved at all times, but most particularly during elections. I know that many working people simply do not have the time that retired or rich people (who only have to spend a bit of time following the market) have. But we all must find time to engage in what's going on in our country. That means that we have to do more to inform those that leave the house at 6 a.m. and return to eat, watch a movie and then go to sleep. I do not blame them, since I would not have a working stove, roof, gutters, etc. without them. I'm simply saying that those of us that have time to go out to a restaurant or movie theatre have the responsibility to focus on our dissipating democracy.
Right now, the whole world is watching us. We now know that the man we've voted in to lead our country simply doesn't know the rules. It's hard to believe that there is nothing in the Constitution that demands certain proof of knowledge of our country's rules and regulations, including the right to a free press, but here we are. I tend to watch a lot of MSNBC and get the rest online.
Fortunately, I live in an area that has a population that knows that we can't just sit back and watch democracy vanish. So we have meetings. All you have to do is to buy the paper you are reading here, and keep up with the meetings, which seemed to catch on right after the Women's March. I want to make it clear that this is not a women's movement, it's not a white, black or Muslim movement. It's a movement for the United States of America, which has an urgent need for We, the People to come together to maintain a state of government that has and I hope will still be a standard bearer for OUR world.
We need to turn out for all elections including local elections, which will be coming out soon. Remember, we are supposed to be a government "of the people, for the people, and by the people".
The Nature Of First Amendment Rights
A recently published letter expressed disappointment regarding the content of letters concerning Donald Trump. I agree with its author that comparing Trump to Hitler is not useful; I disagree that these writers are "a furious bunch". In fact I've been impressed by how reasonable and well-reasoned most letters are.
I would suggest that the correspondent turn his attention to the Insulter-in-Chief if he wants to correct anyone's language. Talk about passion and fury! Is it not offensive that Trump called President Obama "a bad or sick guy;" Vice President Biden, "not very bright;" "John Kasich "pathetic;" Frank Luntz, "a low class slob;" Charles Krauthammer and Meryl Streep, "highly overrated." The list goes on.
I would also suggest a major difference between the passionate language used by local writers and that of the president: his is motivated by self-aggrandizement; theirs is motivated by a deep concern regarding what is happening to our country.
A Call To Treat Climate Realistically
Climate change is real and it's primarily caused by fossil fuel emissions of carbon and methane put into the atmosphere by human activity. There's no longer any rational doubt about this. It's affirmed by 97-98 percent of the world's credible climate scientists and organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and by every college, university and study group with acknowledged academic standing in every country. Here in the United States NASA under the leadership of James Hansen recognized and began to study it in the 1970's. The US Military and CIA have said for decades that it's a major threat to the security of the United Sates in that it will cause tremendous environmental destruction and a consequent disruption of world order which it will be their responsibility to deal with. We already see this in the part that the worst droughts in history played in precipitating the civil war in Syria and are right now directly causing the mass immigrations out of Africa into Europe of people fleeing land that is no longer habitable. Places like northern Germany, Holland, the United Kingdom and NY City are currently planning and building sea walls which will cost billions of dollars.
Money speaks as loudly as words: no major insurance company in the US will give affordable coverage to seaside property anywhere. Lumber companies are studying the effects of warming on temperate locations where they grow trees.
These facts are now denied only by small but very vocal Conservative groups like our Republican Party that are financed by money from large fossil fuel energy companies. Science tells us that climate change has the potential to destroy life as we know it on this planet. It's going much faster than previously projected and is about to hit " tipping points" in which the very warming itself causes more warming that will spiral into a chain reaction that cannot be reversed no matter what we do. Representative Faso, what do you think about climate change and what are you doing about it?
How Headlines Utilize Implication...
I majored in journalism. I am of the old school. I am old, or I would not hark from Montela, a town in what was called The Peaceful Valley that was flooded to create the Rondout Reservoir.
I understand that old school journalism no longer exists — that is, journalism in which who, what, when, where was delivered in the first paragraph of a news story, and where no mention in that news story would give the slightest clue as to the opinion of the writer, the editor or the publisher. Yes, that old-fashioned journalism is gone.
Still, one must try to preserve what seems to me a good idea, to be respectful of readers and deserving of their respect.
A Columbia Journalism site says that a headline must be correct in fact and implication and for news heads: play it straight, summarize the news.
There is no mention of Trump or Trump Years anywhere in your recent article. The continuation is headed Faso. That is factual. This is a story about Faso and, mostly, the ACA. Activism Builds may have been correct, For The Trump Years is a projection of your assessment of the implications of the news. You justify and imply the necessity of activism by including the phrase Trump Years. That is "calling for."
Your headline shows that you have (what we in the valley used to call) "an axe to grind."
A Statement From Governor Cuomo
Health care is a human right, not a luxury. After seven years of progress under the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Congress has proposed an inadequate, ill-conceived and unacceptable plan that places the coverage of more than 1 million New Yorkers in jeopardy and, once fully phased in, would shift more than $2.4 billion in costs onto taxpayers and hospitals each year.
Healthcare experts across the Country have rejected the Republican plan outright citing the devastating impact on patients and provides. The AARP says it will weaken Medicare and hike premiums for everyone over fifty. Millions of seniors could lose home care and nursing home coverage. Hospital leaders say staffing and services will be cut.
Furthermore, this plan is a direct assault on New York values — defunding Planned Parenthood, restricting access to abortion and reproductive health services, and eliminating $400 million in means tested credits that lowered insurance costs for low-income New Yorkers, while slashing taxes on the wealthy.
In the end, people who will still have insurance will fall into two groups under this plan: older Americans and lower-income people who will pay more for coverage or lose it altogether, and higher-income people who will pay less.
As bad as this bill is, it may get worse. Far-right opponents of the bill in Congress are demanding changes. As disturbing and devastating as the proposed cuts would be, the final result could be downright bone chilling.
Affordable healthcare is not a partisan issue. New York's entire delegation — Democrats and Republicans — need to stand up and they need to fight, stand against this regressive plan, and protect the people they are sworn to represent. There is no going back.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo