Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Saturday, May 31, 2008
  Illegal? Immoral? What the immigration debate has wrought
I am currently researching a developing story about an 80-odd year woman who grew up, married, raised her children here in the Berkshires. It's a troubling tale about just how idiotic our immigration policy and the resulting bureaucracy has become in this age of jingoistic "who is really an American" scapegoating.

In the 1920s a Canadian family emigrated to Berkshire county. With them they had a 3 month old girl. Some time after their arrival, the girl's father died but the family did all the right things and held it together. Her mother, according to all the living descendants became U.S. citizen within a few years.

The young girl grew up and married a local returning WWII veteran and raised her family within miles of the home she grew up in. Eventually she and her husband retired to Florida where he passed away a few years ago.

Fast forward to 2008.

The young girl is now into her 80s and not doing so well. She is moving back to New England to live near her son. There is a nice assisted living complex nearby in Adams where she knows many of the residents and the government helps subsidize the cost. One of the requirements is that you have to show your actual Social Security card to prove your citizenship.

This is where things get tricky.

This woman had a card and can recite her Social Security number by heart. she receives Social Security checks for herself and as a surviving spouse. But sometime back she lost the actual three inch piece of paper. This would seem to be an easy fix - she should just go to the nearest office and have them issue her a new one.

But it is not that simple.

Social Security now wants a copy of her naturalization papers to prove she really, truly deserves that duplicate card, those checks and ultimately, that new assisted living apartment. The problem is that she does not have these papers. She was a child and became a citizen simply by being the minor child of a naturalized immigrant. So the race is on to find the long archived papers of her parents who likely filed them in the 1930s. So far, no luck.

In the mean time, this woman's family has called all of her federal elected representatives only to be told that there is not much they can do. John Olver's office supposedly looked into this and decided that this woman must probably be a Canadian citizen because they can find no record of her naturalization. But the fact remains that her family members insist that their mother's mother became a citizen shortly after moving from Canada.

So here she is, stuck without a home of her own, being told that she is not an American and that she has possibly been collecting benefits and voting illegally for years. Welcome back to Berkshire County!

All this because she lost a little piece of green paper. (Seriously. If she had not lost the original card, none of the subsequent events would have occurred.) Well, more accurately, this happened because she lost the card and we have become a nation full of paranoid anti-immigration xenophobes.

I would love to have someone like Lou Dobbs explain to this little old lady why our system has become so incredibly asinine that she is being put in jeopardy during her final years. Please Mr. Dobbs, tell her how you are protecting us.

Over the next couple of weeks the family will do a little more research on their grandmother's immigration status. I can only imagine how many tens of thousands of people are in this same immigration purgatory who don't have family members to fight for them. I can't exactly say I am proud of my government at this moment. Actually I am somewhat dismayed and pissed.

I will be writing more once I have have been given permission to put names and dates on the record. Hopefully I will have good news.

UPDATE: Lou Dobbs would probably like America to have a similar plan to Switzerland's.
  Another Greg Blogging in North Adams
It would be difficult to confuse me with Greg Scheckler, but I've recently started bird watching, so we do have something in common.
  Perfectly Pownal
POWNAL, Vt. -- A pair of yellow lace panties were cited Thursday as the cause of a partial breakdown of the town's $27 million sewer system.

According to wastewater system Chief Operator Darcy Pruden, on Mother's Day, May 11, the underwear item became caught in a pump station motor, burning it out and shorting out electrical components. The pump services Alta Gardens and Green Mountain Mobile Home parks.
There's a metaphor in there somewhere.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
  Michelle Malkin Designates Rachel Ray a Terrorist for Wearing Paisley
Michelle Malkin is an idiot with big microphone:
[Dunkin Donuts,] the Canton-based company has abruptly canceled an ad in which [Rachel Ray] the domestic diva wears a scarf that looks like a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men. Some observers, including ultra-conservative Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, were so incensed by the ad that there was even talk of a Dunkin' Donuts boycott. "The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad," Malkin yowls in her syndicated column.
But not all keffiyehs are, well, keffiyehs. And those of us who have actually seen them know that they do not have circular designs on white backgrounds, nor are they simply wrapped around the neck. They are either worn on the head or loosely wrapped with the ends draped over the chest and back to display the pattern. Click here for a decent selection of keffiyeh photos.
But the right-wing drumbeat on the blogosphere continued and by yesterday, Dunkin' Donuts decided it'd be easier just to yank the ad. Said the suits in a statement: "In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design.
PAISLEY!!! How stupid can this get? Pretty damn stupid. But rather than graciously admit an error and back off of her slanderous accusation, Malkin (or her hubby who ghostwrites half her crap) writes:
"It's refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists."
Jeez, my chef pants look more like a keffiyeh than Ray's scarf, but nevermind the facts. I just hope I'm never behind Ms. Ray at airport security. $10 bucks says Malkin's faulty terrorist-radar has gotten Rachel stuck on the airlines' watch list.
Monday, May 26, 2008
  Affirmative Action GOP Style
The hypocrisy behind thinly veiled attempts to use tax money to coddle ideological fantasies by the party that claims to oppose government and taxation is amusing to say the least.

However, unlike Mr. Fish, I'd be happy to teach the course and hire an assistant for the $200K salary. My email address is to the right.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
  Cops and Robbers
Kudos to the NAPD for their quick apprehension of the perp from Friday's failed bank robbery at Hoosac Bank. Such crimes always carry the risk of going horribly wrong with people being injured or killed. Thank goodness that the swift response from police ended the situation before it ever had the potential to get out of hand.

Ultimately this type of action is what we pay them for. Sure, they issue tickets and tell people to turn down their radios, but it is the rare instance that they have to draw their guns and put themselves in harm's way that we remember why they are there.

All that said, I have been troubled by the public comments linked on both The Transcript's and iBerkshires stories. I don't understand the vitriol. Are there really that many folks who have had such negative experiences with the local police that they feel the need to smear them in the comments of a story about their heroic actions? Disturbing.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
  Is This Screen Shot Worth a Free Beer?
FYP's and Taylor's Fine Dining owner was being researched by the US Senate's Sargeant at Arms:

I wonder if they know that Senator Kerry never made it to the meet and greet at Taylor's last Saturday?

I'll print this out and see if Sean thinks it is worth a pint.

Saturday, May 17, 2008
  Senator Kennedy
No sooner had I posted the Kerry link when I clicked on the news that our other Senator, Ted Kennedy has been hospitalized with stroke-like symptoms.

Hopefully this is less serious than it sounds.
  Senatory Kerry
He is evidently in town for the next couple of hours to press the flesh with Berkshire Democrats. He's at Taylor's Fine Dining 'til 3pm.
Friday, May 16, 2008
  Cleaner Plates
It is a post like this that make me believe that Ali Benjamin might just be the best blogger in the area.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
  For the Flamingo Guy

Yeah, yeah,.. the Sopranos were so 2007, but Mad TV is still funny.
  A New North County Food Blog
I don't think I know who Fran is but she's over at Plate to Plate and she knows how to forage in the local underbrush and then cook up a storm. Granted the blog only has two viable posts but they sure look good.

Hmmmm. Wild ramps. I've seen some growing just off of Reservoir Road. Maybe I'll go for a short hike this weekend.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
  It was 20 years ago today....
About 20 years back, I was repeatedly told that my age demographic, Generation X, was going to be the scourge of American civilization. This guy is selling books saying its the millennials that will cause the fall of the American Empire.

On the other hand, we have Bob Herbert claiming in today's column that the millennials are a force to be reckoned with.

Heck, I remember being a kid and listening to the "adults" gripe about the "me generation." Guess who's griping now?
Friday, May 09, 2008
  Define "Amateur"
If I put up an anti-McCain site, it probably could be considered amateur, but...
In fact, [the internet based Obama slurs] tend to be the work of committed political amateurs.

One practitioner in Virginia, who hates Obama like a dog hates cats, led a reporter through his efforts. Because the man is a retired clandestine CIA officer, identifying him could endanger officers or operations that remain classified, so McClatchy will not reveal his name.

In late 2006, convinced that an Obama presidency would be disastrous for America, he decided to start an anti-Obama operation. He combed the public record on Obama. He used a couple of allies and informants — half-jokingly dubbing his group "The Crusaders" — to learn about Obama's background, especially his Africa connection and how he came to be the editor of the Harvard Law Review.

He assembled a dossier on Obama, including allegations that Obama attended a madrassa, or Islamic religious school, in his youth in Indonesia.

Then the retired spook tried to get Israeli intelligence officials interested in his Obama dossier. They weren't, to his chagrin. He also shopped it to some foreign reporters. Again, no luck.

He wound up posting some of it on a blog — and where it went from there in the vast world of cyberspace is anybody's guess.

But a few months after the man began his work, the allegation that Obama was educated in a madrassa appeared in an anonymous article in Insight Magazine, an online publication of the Unification Church, in January 2007. It also claimed that Clinton operatives had dug up the information. The article was cited by several conservative commentators, including on Fox News, before it was debunked.
I don't think amateur means what McClatchy thinks it does.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
  Not a Good Idea
While I agree with the sentiment that wealthy colleges sometimes act more like hedge-fund managers than institutions of higher learning, taxing their endowments is bad policy:
Legislators have asked state finance officials to study a plan that would impose a 2.5 percent annual assessment on colleges with endowments over $1 billion, an amount now exceeded by nine Massachusetts institutions. The proposal, which higher education specialists believe is the first of its kind across the country, drew surprising support at a debate on the State House budget last week and is attracting attention in higher education circles nationally.
I *would* support a bill forcing these colleges to waive tuition for all students who qualify for financial aid. Or, maybe, if a tax is inevitable, having the revenues go to a trust fund to pay for scholarships state wide. But tossing it into the general budget would simply be a money grab and piss off a lot of philanthropists.

Here's the money (pun intended) quote of the article:
"The Williams indoor golf nets are paid by all of us through federal tax policy," said Sloane, a Williams College graduate. "These institutions have brought this upon themselves."
That's gonna' leave a mark. Somehow I doubt Mr. Sloane is coming back for reunion week.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
  It's Easy to Forget When You Don't Want to Remember
War is hell. These are VERY graphic, never-before published photos of the Hiroshima atomic aftermath .

It is not my intent to whip up a debate. This link is just a reminder. As a nation and society that tends to get its imagery from sanitized news outlets, we must never forget that even in the name of good, the consequences of war can be horrific.

Wisdom dictates that we have respect and reverence towards our capabilities.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
  A Strange Place for one of Life's Crueler Lessons
So here we are at the Hot Dog Ranch, me and two 8 year old boys. Things were getting a little exciting as the Kentucky Derby was put on all but one of the overhead TVs. The sound had been turned up so that the call of the race was the only thing anyone heard in the place.

I had just told the two boys that Aunt Kate had proclaimed Big Brown one of the best horses she had ever seen and that we should cheer him on. When Big Brown pulled even around the fourth corner I found myself being the guy who pounds the table encouraging an athlete a thousand miles away as though I were trackside. When Big Brown ran away from the field to win, all three of us at the table were hooting and hollering. For 15 or maybe 20 seconds it was a lot of fun.

And then the TV camera swung quickly back to a horse lying on its side.

I knew it was bad but tried to explain to the kids that it might be something minor.

"Maybe the horse fainted." proclaimed one of the boys.

"Maybe...." I said.

The bald headed man who had been standing behind the NBC correspondent on the last trackside report had put his walkie-talkie down and now was facing the camera. His eyes were red. He was introduced as the head veterinarian at the Derby. His manner was professional and he spoke in a very matter of fact terms, but when he said she had broken both ankles and was "euthanized immediately" you saw the angst on his face and you seemed to hear an audible gasp from those immediately around him.

Most of the restaurant patrons, including my two young guests, missed this bit of news. The TV hosts kept trying to figure out what they should say, how they should act and just how they should balance the simultaneous stories of a victory circle while another horse was being put out of her misery.

Eventually one of the boys asked, "What's euthanized?"

I told him as gently as I could.

"You mean they killed her?"

"Yeah. She's dead." I bluntly confirmed, acting brave even though I felt my own eyes stinging over an animal I had only seen for a few second on television.

"Does that happen a lot in horse racing?"

"No, but more often than you might think." It struck me that I was opening a can of worms.

We paid. We left.

About five minutes later, one of the boys piped up. "Sometimes it is more polite to kill an animal when it is in pain."

"Polite isn't the word I would use, but you've got the right idea about what happened."

I left it at that.
  Derby Day
A family member in the horse business says she has never seen horse perform quite like Big Brown did in the Florida Derby. If I was a betting man, which I am not, I know where my money would go to day. I'll definitely be watching, though.
  North Adams Pizza Company
Chris Tremblay from the comments:
june 1, 2008 will be the last day of the north adams pizza wife and i have decided to close down and focus on our next money pit...our beautiful baby boy....thanks to all who gave us a it or not....hopefully the space can be taken over by someone who will see the potential in north adams....a nice hibachi/sushi place?? was fun but as they do you make a small fortune in the restaurant industry?...start with a big one.....
Sad, but lots of interesting rumors about what's going to happen there next.....
Friday, May 02, 2008
  One of Three
Home Depot announced today that they are closing their Brattleboro, VT store. I am not sure if this is a good sign for the pending Lowe's here in North Adams because of a little less competition, or if it is a bad omen about the over-saturation of home improvement centers in the region.

Never the less, as far as I can tell, our Lowe's will be the only "Lowe's" inside a rough-drawn triangle cornered by Albany, NY, Springfield, MA and Rutland, VT. This might give Lowe's a little market leverage. By comparison, Home Depot has 3 stores (soon to be 2) in that same triangle.

All I know for now is that I'm gonna head out to Brattleboro for the liquidation sale.
A blog of random thoughts and reactions emanating from the bank of a mountain stream in the farthest reaches of the bluest of blue states.

May 2006 / June 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / January 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / October 2011 /

greg at gregoryroach dot com

"Livability, not just affordability." - Dick Alcombright

My ongoing campaign for North Adams City Council

iBerkshires' Online Event Calendar

Because a Chart is Worth 1000 Words

Congressional Budget Office data

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