Orson Aguilar

President Obama advocated many of the right things in his State of the Union address.

There is a seldom-discussed racial element in the debate over shutting down the government and defunding the Affordable Care Act.

It's heartening that Congress and President Obama are addressing comprehensive immigration reform, something that's long overdue. But everyone involved needs to make sure that any legislation really moves us toward a better, fairer system.

Politicians must avoid the temptation to sign off on a bad deal just to be able to say they did something about immigration.

So what makes a good deal? Four principles are essential:

In the debate over the so-called fiscal cliff, many in the media have missed something critical that both parties must understand: People of color, whose votes are increasingly crucial, believe in the positive role of government. They don't want domestic social programs cut.

According to the Census Bureau, people of color will be America's new majority by the year 2043. African-Americans, Asians and Latinos already outnumber whites in several states and play a growing role in presidential swing states. Neither party can ignore them.

These Occupy protests really have come to embody the 99 percent for whom they speak. This group is us. It looks like America, while the wealthy and powerful 1 percent doesn’t.

While national politicians argue about cuts to Social Security and Medicare down the road, cash-strapped state governments are cutting vital services for elderly Americans today. Those suffering most are often those with the least.

On July 21, the most important new consumer protection agency in decades opens its doors. Amazingly, some in Congress want to strangle it before it even gets started.

One hundred and fifty years ago, on April 12, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired. A century and a half later, the issue of race still haunts us.

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This time we’ve got some advantages.


We need to improve the condition of workers this Thanksgiving weekend. Here's what you can do.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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