Happy, Happy Birthday Baby

Y’all, let me tell you, there’s nothing like standing in a conference room, overlooking a man sitting at a desk, watching as a woman, who appears to be confused and fretting, brings him a basket.

In the basket is a baby, some binkies, some hot sauce, some tortillas, and a sad, sad letter describing how the baby’s mother has had to return to Guatemala and the baby is too weak and small to make the trip.

The man looks at the basket. Briefly, it flashes across his face, the idea that it might be a a real baby that he, anti-immigration advocate that he is, has been saddled with by virtue of his outspokenness. But wait!

It’s too small and too ugly and too light and not crying. Thank god, it’s not a real baby. But, that doesn’t answer the question, who, who indeed would leave such an odd package with the aforementioned man?

He looks at the letter. He looks in the basket. He looks under the basket. No clues.

I am laughing as hard as I can, waiting to see if he’ll look my way or if he’ll run out into the parking lot to see who’s driving away.

But no, instead, he looks back under the basket.

Up here, Kleinheider, up here!

Damn it, if I’m going to have a nemesis, I have to have a nemesis quick enough to instantly suspect it’s me when weird things happen to him.

Still, the look of distress on his face was an awesome birthday present.

Edited To Add: Check the picture Brittney took.

48 thoughts on “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby

  1. Pingback: Volunteer Voters » Mi Bebe Preciosa Afro-Caribena

  2. Classic debate strategy: When you don’t have logic and statistics on your side, fall back on emotional and anecdotal arguments.

    You forgot to include the bill for free medical care and social services.

    Oh yeah, and a doctor’s note that the kid has polio, or leprosy, or TB, and may need a few shots before you let ’em into public schools.

  3. Logic and statistics? Would you settle for some empirical data in historical context? Leprosy is a normally non-contagious and wholly treatable disease that affects a miniscule number of people worldwide. It’s far less of a public health risk than clap and I don’t see anyone locking up our fine young lads in the military overseas who are treated for gonorrhea at 6 times the national average. According to the people who research such things, TB is making a comeback in the US, but it’ not because of immigration. It’s because of prison overcrowding and long-term incarceration in substandard housing. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Tough on Crime. And all kids need a few shots before you let them into public schools.

    The recurrent hitching of disease to immigration is an old one (going back in US history to Irish and Africans coming to Virginia in the 1620s, Germans coming into the port of Philadelphia in the 1720s, and on and on). I’m not saying that this isn’t a popular claim,
    but you should understand that it is also a very old claim that has always been based more on fear than on fact. If you’re interested
    in the history of this, you might start with Markel and Stern, “The Foreignness of Germs: The Persistent Association of
    Immigrants and Disease in American Society,” *The Milbank Quarterly* 80 (4), 757 788.) To see how this exact language
    was used early last century to thwart “non-Caucasian” immigration, you could always read Emily Abel’s
    “Only the Best Class of Immigration”: Public Health Policy towards Mexicans and Filipinos in Los Angeles,
    1910-1940,” American Journal of Public Health (2004). (It’s available free. Just Google the title and download it.)
    She also wrote “From Exclusion to Expulsion: Mexicans and Tuberculosis Control Control in Los Angeles, 1914-
    1940,” Bull. of Hist. Med. (2003). You could also pick up a copy of Natalia Molina’s work on public health
    hysteria and Mexican immigration in the early 20th century, titled *Fit to be Citizens?*, or Nayan Shah’s book on
    racist practices and the public health profession in California (*Contagious Divides*).

    Waving around the flag of Yellow or Brown Peril does a lot of racist work by overtly arguing that immigrant bodies are diseased, defective, and hence inferior but there ain’t a lot to that. Bodies are bodies; well-fed, well-rested bodies that live in lower stress areas with better preventative care and nutrition tend to thrive and those that don’t, don’t — so let’s stop blaming poor people with poor access to food who are on the run and lacking access to health care for getting sick, m’kay, when those are the conditions we’ve helped to create and apparently intend to sustain. Germs don’t give a shit about borders. The kind of pandemics one really needs to be concerned will be very little deterred by the sort of anti-immigration measures that histrionic Minuteman types are proposing. You, being of a scientific bent, already know that. I’m kind of surprised that you’re falling back on emotional and anecdotal arguments.

  4. No, germs don’t care about borders, which is why we should.
    It’s not about blame, except to blame other countries’ governments. But that doesn’t mean I want to invite their failures into my neighborhood.
    The fact remains that illegals are not tested for diseases which have been eradicated or greatly reduced in this country, and which are much more prevalent in many of the countries they are coming from.

    Many of these disease are very contagious.
    Chagas disease infects 50 million people annually in Latin America.
    Leprosy was so rare in America that there were only 900 cases in 40 years. Suddenly, in 3 years, America has 7000 cases, largely started by illegal immigrants from India, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Mexico.
    There was a breakout of Dengue Fever in Webb County, TX, bordering Mexico.
    Breakouts of TB in public schools in Washington DC, Virginia, and Queens NY were traced to the children of illegal immigrants.

    It’s the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons,[http://www.jpands.org/vol10no1/cosman.pdf], who published the study that showed that there is a danger beyond your race-hustling.

  5. A.) People in the U.S. still get TB and would even if there were no illegal immigrants here.
    B.) Don’t be throwing Lou Dobbs’s leprocy numbers around unless you’re aware that he’s been laughed off the planet by everybody.
    C.) Oh my god! People who live along the border with Mexico interact with Mexicans! Shocking. Build that wall higher! Shoot, can’t we plant some landmines or something? Maybe a ditch lined with alligators and great white sharks? Who will do something about the fact that our whole southern border touches Mexico?!

  6. You’re reaching, Exador. I’ve got news for you, using emotional arguments instead of “logic” is a favorite tool of the Nativists. First of all, it was a point made using humor, which is B’s modus operandi. The facts are that there are indeed many american born children whose parents cannot get their paperwork in order. What happens to them? Or, if you prefer, what happens to those brought here at a young age? What crime have they committed?

    You want logic? No sweat. How logical is it to wall off our Southern border in this day and age? Hows it working out for Israel? You want an oil producing country on our Southern border ripe for exploitation by those with an anti American agenda? Why won’t the Nativists admit that we play a large role in destroying mexico’s economy? What do you think happens to small farmers (roughly 70% of Mexico’s population) when we flood their markets with our cheap, subzidised corn?

    If you are worried about disease, Ex, you might want to focus on your local air and water quality, and where your food comes from. Funny, I don’t remember you being a global warming alarmist. Is that overwhelming scientific data too emotional for you?

  7. Yeah, that didn’t feel like B’s writing.

    As for sealing off the border, no solution is perfect of course. That’s a strawman argument.
    India and Pakistan have pretty darn big border, yet the Indians are doing an excellent job sealing it off. It can be done.

    Global Warming?

  8. Are we talking about people (immigrants) or a condition of being (illegals)? If the latter, then I’d have to ask you which laws you broke on the way to work this morning? Did you speed? Tailgate? Double-park? Law is law and if American law must be applied to all who walk within its borders. I’m betting you are an illegal — after all, by your reasoning, if you’ve ever done anything illegal (and you know you have…probably even felonious), it’s apparently a stain so deep that it cannot be expunged by any subsequent behavior. Good upstanding citizens like you should accept a proliferation of nanny-state regulation designed to keep you in line. I can’t believe you still think you’re a free-market libertarian…you’re sounding more like a regulation-happy liberal every day.

    The point: It’s just dumb to keep referring to some people as illegal because they broke laws you wish they hadn’t and ignore that you have a history of breaking laws of a similar legal gravity but blow it off because the laws you broke/break were stupid and overly restrictive.

    On to your public health concerns:

    You’re quoting raw numbers leprosy cases without reference to the total population numbers. Try incidence per thousand. If those numbers still strike you as large, localize the data and ask which states have the biggest increase. Now go look at their public health system and how it has changed in the past thirty years. You will see that the diseases you name began to rise prior to the most recent bump of immigration. That suggests to public health analysts that the public health system itself has been eviscerated to the point that it can’t handle a tenth of the traffic it is getting. That evisceration occurred not because of immigration (it’s a national trend, affecting even such immigration non-starters as Maine) but because of a general presumption that the poor are on their own and that American corporations need not provide any kind of healthcare for their workers. Many many more American citizens funneled into the system at a time when those systems were under attack. So they collapsed. And then immigrants got blamed for that collapse, though the slashing of public health funding goes back to Reagan’s era and has been continued throughout both Democratic and Republican administrations. It has gotten worse recently. Whatever supplemental funding used to exist at the federal level has been withdrawn because of this idiotic war. Still, I contend that the leprosy thing (Lou Dobbs as a hysterical xenophobe to one side) is not a big public health crisis. It’s largely non-contagious, curable…not sure why you’re fixating on this.

    Chagas disease is largely asymptomatic for the first twenty years or so. You get it from living in a mud-walled hut where bugs have laid their eggs. If you’re not living in a mud-walled hut or sharing needles with someone who does, you’re probably ok. Blood supplies are routinely screened and there’s a very low incidence of transmission through transfusion. On the other hand, if immigrants didn’t have to sell blood to get cash (you know, like many poor people) or if there was no market for privately sold blood because American citizens were willing to roll up their sleeves for free at the Red Cross because it was their civic duty to do so…you’d have to find another reason to go on about immigration.

    Dengue fever is mosquito-borne, not borne on the persons of immigrants. The last I heard, the immigration wall will not keep out mosquitos. Dengue fever had been eradicated in Central and South America and largely suppressed in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s through the Pan-American Health Organization, WHO, and other global public health agencies. When Fortress America stopped contributing to these programs during the Reagan era, the programs lost their efficacy and Dengue Fever returned by the late 1980s and 1990s.

    TB is opportunistic whenever people are living in overcrowded, stressful conditions and living without access to basic nutrition and preventative medical care. Remember, TB is preventable and there are vaccines for it. This was a disease that was largely under control and diminishing in the 1970s. The neglect of public health in the 1980s and 1990s allowed a resurgence in US cities (and especially prisons) that occurred independently of immigration; the trend line rises in the 1980s, well before there was a surge of immigration to the US. More than 90% of the TB patients in the US are American citizens, according to the CDC. While 82% of the people with TB are black or Hispanic, this speaks more to TB’s incidence in populations blighted by urban poverty, where African-Americans and Hispanics are overrepresented due to structural racism.

  9. Oh my FSM, you’re right, Bridgett. It’s all Reagan’s and Bush’s fault!
    Oh, yeah, and those evil corporations! Let’s see…any other liberals’ bogeymen we can blame?

    I have to work, but thanks for the laugh.

  10. Wow. It just occurred to me:

    My children’s birthmom had TB. Zaphod was placed with us because we did our homework and discovered that TB is not transmitted in utero. The big scary word “TB” scared off a few parents before us (thank God). Of course, they were both, technically, “immigrants”. (5 and 8 month old immigrants, but I digress)

    Just weird, to have dressed and sent to school this morning, someone to whom this conversation, technically, applies.

    That being said, bridgett – putting my conservative hat back on – I’d be interested in facts that back “overrepresented due to structural racism”. That seems like somewhat of a logical shortcut. I’m not denying it’s a factor, but would you be willing to insert the world SOLELY into that sentence? Such a blanket statement absolves a lot of people from any responsibility. I’m not picking a fight, I’m just wondering if you believe that every poor person of color is that way solely because it was imposed on him. If so, that’s cool, I’m just curious.

  11. Naw, I’d never put “solely” in anything. That’s one of the implications in my argument with Ex. He’s trying to be monocausal and I just can’t see it that way. I see a lot of different things going on. Public health was systematically defunded both in the US and abroad for a variety of reasons in the 1980s (and that this continued throughout Clinton’s era…don’t know why he believes I’m singling out Bush and Reagan when I explicitly said that both Democratic and Republican administrations have done this) and that this has had pernicious effects. Disease vectors often have nothing to do with feet crossing the border, especially in the diseases that anti-immigration groups like to trot out as “evidence” that illegal immigration is going to kill us all. Most of the diseases he cites are highly treatable and have at certain points been nearly eradicated; it does not seem unfair to point out that the US historically has played a heroic role in the global extermination of certain diseases and its retreat from that moral high ground has come at a domestic price that now must be reckoned with. We do a lousy job of treating preventable disease in our own urban populations and there are a lot of poor citizens of color who will not ever receive low-cost health care because some yahoos believe that somewhere, some immigrant child might also get a 50-cent vaccine. No “solely” to it.

    However, when one man starts a footrace at the starting line and the other man has to crawl out of a hole without a ladder when the gun goes off….sure, it’s possible for that second man to complete the race, but it’s a whole lot more difficult. Blaming the guy in the hole for not winning or for just making it to the starting line (as one does when one fails to acknowledge the reality of the hole) seems kind of sadistic, doesn’t it?

  12. Y’all, can I just say something…and my apologies ahead of time for being brutally honest about my feelings…

    But is there not one time we can’t just laugh and be happy about this genius prank that B got to play on her birthday–that obviously made her day–without going into a political rant and argument?

    Again, I’m sorry. Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in, but geez…another time, another place?

    I love you all…and out of that love, I just had to say this…

  13. Of course Ginger.

    I get lured in every time (back! evil temptresses!). They have my buttons, and aren’t afraid to push them. ;)

    Back to silliness. :)

  14. Seems to me that this kind of “argument” might be exactly what B finds both silly and fun (and important), might be exactly what she wanted for her birthday. The prank was politically minded, right?

    Ginger, you don’t have to read every comment if you want silliness today rather than discussion. Why do people here at B’s blog have to give you want? How is telling other people that they, while willfully participating in a discussion, are irritating you an act of love FOR THEM? And, if it is out of love, then why the need to repeatedly apologize for your presence? Are you worried about high blood pressure problems or something?

  15. Professor, I think Ms. Ginger was trying to let the prank have it’s day in the sun, so to speak. Yes, B does enjoy this back and forth though, but I think Ginger’s heart was in the right place.

  16. Thanks, Mack. That is exactly the spirit in which it was intended.

    Professor, I am one of the “people here at B’s blog.” I have a right to express my irritation and my pleasure just as much as you or anybody here. You make it sound like this is some club that I am an outsider of. I do not appreciate that at all. I think Aunt B is one of the coolest people I have ever met and I think the world of her, and I certainly do not think she views her blog that way. She welcomes us all and welcomes all of our opinions–even mine, even yours–even if it isn’t popular. I am very surprised and disappointed at your response to me. And am I worried about high blood pressure?? What the hell does that even mean?

  17. I understood perfectly what Ginger was saying; things were going great until Exador peed in the pool. On the other hand, B’s “prank” was political in nature, of course the conversation would drift there. Can you tell I’m a middle child?

    But, to your last post, Ginger, I have two things to say. First, I understand totally why you would be upset about Professor’s comment, but even though I would not have spoken so tersely, I did write out a long reply about how conversations here go where they will; to try to control them is like trying to catch the wind. (Just yesterday, nm called me on changing the subject – my own way of “controlling” conversations) But, I thought better of it, posting the comment, that is, and decided instead to give you a respectful bow.

    Secondly, whenever you have a gathering of people, cliques are going to break out. As you know, I’m hyper-sensitive to them and recognised the one here about the time I had my last hissy fit. It’s not B’s (or anyone’s) fault, it’s just natural human behavior. Of course there is a clique here, although everyone in the clique would deny it (the hallmark of any good clique).

    But you know what? There’s really no need to get worked up about it. It’s not anybody’s fault, it’s just the way people are. My advice: let irritating stuff roll of you; it makes hanging out here much more fun.

  18. Godard once said that every camera shot in a movie is a moral choice. I dunno, sometimes the girls (and boys) just wanna have fun. Attaching weight to every single post is kind of like worrying about the moral significance of which lens we are using.

    Slarti’s right..commentary on these things is winding and fairly uncontrollable. While it would be nice to just enjoy the joke every now and then, on this blog, everybody is bring some freight.

    I could live without the condescending tone of a person I really like (the Professor), but that’s probably because it was aimed at another person I really like.

    It just seems so much more fun when we can take the personal shots out of it, and then let the discussion head where it will.

    Most importantly..great prank by the amazing B. I thought it was funny.

  19. I truly wasn’t irritated when I wrote the first comment. It was merely stating out loud that’s what I wished. However, I do not have to sit back and tolerate such a hateful response without speaking up for myself. Mack had it right…no harm was meant.

  20. I re-read my comment and the tone was not representative of my intentions – really it was quite a poorly written comment. I am very sorry that I posted it without reviewing it, without being more careful and thoughtful. I am very sorry that the result was so hurtful to you, Ginger, and tangentially to others. (I exist in a profession that is very known for going for the jugular and even more so when comments are prefaced with even a hint of self-deprecation – it’s like a sign of weakness that we must exploit. Even though I don’t often like it in my profession, I succumb to it too often, and I appreciate being fairly called out on it.) One of my buttons is asking people to all just get along, lighten up, and not worry about things. I over-determined your comment and responded quite badly.

    I know you, Ginger, are a person here too and wasn’t trying to suggest otherwise; however, I do want to say that I do think it is odd and unfair to ask lots of people in one particular thread to change the subject rather than to just exit that particular thread or even that section of a thread. That was what I wanted to say. And, I still don’t understand how feeling of sadness or irritation or worry about people getting away from silliness is motivated by love for others, but I did such a terrible job explaining that before that I don’t expect you to return to it. I just wanted to try to make myself clear in less mean and irrational ways.

    Ginger, I didn’t read you as trying to harm anyone, nor was I trying to harm you. I was trying to point out that some people might not be worked up, that some people might not draw the same distinction between serious and silly, or that some people don’t want to be just silly.

    Unlike Slarti, I didn’t read Exador as “peeing in the pool” but I think that’s because one of the things I enjoy about reading people’s comments here is exactly watching the disagreements arise and seeing how they are handled. I don’t tend to view agreement and consensus as necessarily healthy – it’s often just conformity and a way of forming in- and out-groups. I think dissent is essential to good thinking. Hence it follows that, although I thought Exador’s specific reasons for dissenting were not compelling and smacked of racist tones in immigration discussions, that someone started talking about the politics not only didn’t surprise me, but made me happy and made the thread more fun for me, not less fun.

    Again, really sorry.

  21. Professor, thank you so, so much. I truly appreciate this. Ya know, I love writing but as we all know one of the pitfalls of e-mails, IMs, comments, etc., with its limitations, is the potential for communication breakdown. Those who know me well (like Mack) know that I am one of those idealists who floats around and wishes we could all join hands and just love on each other. (Especially when I’m drunk-I love everybody when I’m drunk.) When I used the word “love” it was just my way of trying to communicate my lightheartedness about saying what I said (and to imply that I like everyone and wasn’t trying to be a horse’s ass). I wasn’t worked up or anything like that…I was smiling as I wrote it and in my head saying, “aww, guys…it’s funny…” Unfortunately, those who don’t know that’s the way I am would think I was trying to be a horse’s ass and trying to control the thread. If I’ve learned anything from my time of blogging in this community it is that nobody’s gonna control anything on B’s blog except B (as it should be). So apologies all around for overlooking the fact that if I stick my neck out and write something like I did, it might not come out in writing as it exists in my head.

    Thank you again, Prof…I don’t think I could respect anybody more than I do you at this moment.

    Because of this, you do realize that if I get drunk on Saturday night, I’m gonna have to serenade you, right? (Run for the hills!)

  22. I think if you are thin-skinned, stay off the internet. I do not like what Exador said, let’s be clear on that. I think his assertion that I used a straw man argument was laughable at best. However, I’ve come to understand that people exist, in their own perfect way, and dammit they aren’t always going to agree with me. I think they should, of course, but I’ve decided to live and not place too much importance on the fact that others might disagree with me. B thinks highly of Ex, so I think I should too. I trust her judgement, except when it comes to buying cars. :p

    Slarti just cracks me up though.

  23. Listen, I feel like I should be explicitly clear about this. You don’t have to like Exador. You don’t have to agree with Exador. In fact, hate on him and argue with him all you want; I think he enjoys that. But he did me a good turn at a time in my life when I really, really needed it, and because of that, wherever I am, he’s always welcome. Anything you say against Exador personally, I will take as a personal insult to me. Call that “forming cliques” or whatever. I don’t care.

    I’m well-aware of how he is and, since he’s still lounging around here like an old dog that likes to nip at the postman, you can safely assume that something about having him here charms me and that his behavior, though often challenging and ridiculous, is not a problem to me. So don’t folks be worried about “protecting” me or this place from someone who’s always welcome here.

  24. I think if you are thin-skinned, stay off the internet.

    Indeed, Mack…again, I cannot make it clear enough that my original comment was a lighthearted “come on guys”…but I do not consider responding to a personal shot to be “thin skinned.” That is me saying, “I do not like how you just treated me.” That is having boundaries and communicating what I will and will not tolerate…even in the comments of a blog.

    B thinks highly of Ex, so I think I should too.

    This is an interesting statement to me. My first impulse is to say, “Think for yourself, Mack. Don’t like someone just because B or I or anyone else does.” However, I understand that you mean “Any friend of B’s is a friend of mine.”

    But see how all of this written communication is up for interpretation through our own lenses?

    The bottom line is that The Professor and I are 100% cool…and I hope this experience has resulting in she & I having a deeper respect for each other than ever. (I know that is definitely the case for me.)

  25. Oh, B – I end up saying “what I MEANT to say” to you far more than I do my wife! ;) Big fun. Here we go again:

    I LIKE Exador. I even liked the comment. However, what I said (with a little flourish) was that the conversation was going a certain way, then turned in a different direction after Exador’s comment. Ginger asked, I answered. No malice intended.

    That’s it.

    In a way, I like that I’m always having these “explaination” conversations with you. I feel like a newlywed again. :)

  26. Good Grief. I go to do some work, and I’m everything from a pool-pee’er to a racist.
    BTW, you’re a smart bunch. If you’re going to assign labels, at least recognize the difference between racism, bigotry, prejudice, xenophobia, and ethnocentrism. None of them apply to me, with the possible exception of some ethnocentrism, but really who isn’t a little ethnocentric? Oh yeah, and technically prejudicial, but it’s not based on race.

    You may also notice that I don’t do ad hominum attacks, (except to call people liberals, but if you think that’s a perjorative, you might need to rethink your politics.)

    If aunt B wanted me to not comment here, then I wouldn’t. I don’t think she wants this blog to be a monolithic circle-jerk, where everyone tells each other how right they are.

    I think the prank, while funny, had political overtones, and blogging about it invited comment.

    I agree with Mack and Bridgett on pretty much nothing, but I respect that those are there opinions, and they typically back them up with fact. I will present the basis for mine. Maybe we could learn something from each other. Like Mack said, if you’re think-skinned, stay off the internet.

    If I can save one liberal, it’ll all be worth it. ;)

    Back to work

  27. Yup, it was invited comment, Exador. Until this, I was under the impression that *all* comments were invited. I’m truly not believing what a big deal was made out of my comment. Talk about thin skinned…

  28. Gosh. You miss all the cool fights when you’re driving around town on your birthday.

    Hey, I love Exador, too, even though he had to come to my blog and tell me I was getting soft-headed the other day. ;-p

  29. To quote Thomas Jefferson:

    “say nothing of my religion. It is known to my God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life; if that has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.”

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