Published in the Rains County Leader on December 1, 2022:
On November 10 the Leader published a feature article titled “Dirk Schutter, loyal citizen or unlawful presence.” The gist of the story was that Schutter, after having been a lawful resident of the U.S. since 1949 and a naturalized citizen since 1960, had been denied the renewal of his driver’s license. The numbering system on the Certificates of Naturalization had been changed, and his records could not be located in the computer, even though he had a certified copy of his Certificate with him. At the writing of that column, which was submitted on November 5, he was waiting or a response from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and/or Pat Fallon, U.S. Representative from Texas.
On November 7 he received an email from Fallon’s office indicating that he had an appointment with a Mr. Pierson at the Dallas office of the Immigration Service on November 10. There was no address or contact number for Mr. Pierson, so the Schutter’s set out at 4:00 am that morning, hoping to find the office with the help of GPS. However, they ended up at the Irving office. They were told there was no Mr. Pierson and that there was no record of an appointment at that office. However, Schutter was determined to find some answers, so he talked his way past the officer at the door to an agent who was sitting behind a window with a slot at the bottom similar to those at movie theaters.
At first the agent insisted he could not talk with someone who had no appointment, but Schutter’s insistence was more persistent, and the agent finally did a computer search. He was able to find an “A” number which is the number on the original immigration document. This opened the door to Schutter’s computer records and proved that he was who he claimed to be. The agent gave the number to him and told him that DPS should be able to use it to find him in the computer, verify his status, and issue a renewal driver’s license.
Published in the Rains County Leader on February 7, 2017:
It’s almost impossible to avoid politics in this day and time – especially on Facebook. Last week I saw a picture of cows standing behind a barbed-wire fence with a red arrow pointing to the fence post. The caption read “A non-political post. You’re welcome!” I thought it was cute, and it seemed innocuous enough, so I shared it. Several people “liked” it, and a few people shared it – but two of my friends actually made political comments about it.
I’m as political as anyone, but I have yet to see a political exchange in which one participant has influenced another participant to change his or her mind – at least about politics. I was, however, involved in an email exchange that changed someone’s opinion about me. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 6, 2016:
Perhaps it’s because of my limits as a writer, or perhaps it’s the ripe old age I have reached, but I seem to begin a lot of my recent articles with some version of the phrase “When I was growing up…” Regardless of the reason, I’m using that phrase again today.
When I was growing up, we were taught not only to be gracious winners but also to be good losers. In today’s society, instead of teaching our children how to win or lose with equal grace, we have shielded them completely from the experience of losing. In the name of building self-esteem, we allow our children and grandchildren to beat us in Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, and we enroll them in sports leagues where everyone receives a trophy or where they don’t even keep score. We pass students from one grade to the next, even when they cannot do the work, and I understand that there are some schools where there are no grades at all. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on November 15, 2016:
Two weeks ago when I went to visit my sixth-grade friend Julie (not her real name), the cafeteria stage at the Junior High School had been turned into a mock polling place. Several tables were set up, and each table held two open laptops. I didn’t get a look at the screens, but I’m sure they displayed some sort of mock ballot showing the presidential candidates. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on November 1, 2016:
I am not generally a political person, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the madness when it dominates every news program and talk show, the majority of print media articles, most Facebook posts, and a lot of conversations with friends. While I’m not usually a trend follower, it seems like I should at least acknowledge the subject that has dominated the consciousness of our country and a lot of the civilized world for the last year. So, here are a few thoughts – and remember, I’m not very political. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 1, 2016:
When I was growing up, I was taught that it isn’t polite to tell people how much you make, how much you paid for something, or who you voted for. Those rules have long since gone the way of a lot of the other customs and traditions of the pre-Sixties world. The one about sharing your candidate preferences is particularly outdated now. In fact, in the past weeks and months, the subject has dominated most polite, and lots of impolite, conversations. One of my favorite people to discuss politics with is my son, Christian Piatt. (more…)
No, this isn’t a political rant against “The War on Christianity.” Instead, in honor of Election Day, it’s a brief story about my five-year-old son and a voting booth. It was taken from a previous post titled My Son, the Holy Heretic.
Christian was always an independent thinker. In 1976 I took him with me to vote. I thought it would be good for him to be exposed to the process even if he didn’t understand what was going on. It wasn’t the first time, and definitely not the last, that I underestimated him. (more…)