Sunday, October 31, 2004


I have filled out my ballot, but have yet to cast it. I can mail it, but I'd have to risk the unlikely possibility that it wouldn't get to its destination by 8 pm on Tuesday. I have the option of simply delivering it to a polling place, which I will do.

Ralph Nader wasn't on my ballot, though I understand I could have written him in. I probably would have voted for him because I'm in a safe state, he has a chance to get millions of votes, and his running mate is Camejo. But I'm not convinced that the Green Party safe states strategy is completely wrong. I think it depends on the circumstances, and too many folks jumped on that bandwagon too quickly. Now, with two days before we vote, and not much time left for strategy, it may be the right choice in some states to vote for Kerry as an anti-Bush vote. What is sad is that the Greens didn't decide to challenge the two-party system early on, endorse Nader, and ignore the lesser-evil argument. This is the most important election of my lifetime so far, which is exactly why there was never a more important time to challenge the Republicrats. There wasn't such a challenge - at least not one that was adequate - so it is hard to endorse any of the 3rd party campaigns as a mere protest vote in swing states.

Why Kerry? Because it is likely that he will appoint some Supreme Court justices and because I don't think the movement will die with him as president. There is potential that the movement (meaning the growing movement against war and globalization and for human rights) will continue to grow. The lesser-evil argument has taken hold, which I hate, but at least it's explicit and widespread. In other words, groves of people will vote for Kerry, not because they like him or his policies, but because they really hate Bush and his. Those same people will not stay home on an International Day of Action because they don't want to make Kerry look bad; those same people will not be opposed to protesting a visit from Kerry if the war in Iraq continues, or the occupation of Palestine continues its course. If the movement continues to grow with Kerry in the White House, it is the best possible scenario. A presumably liberal leader confronted with agitation from the left. I don't think a Kerry administration would be able to ignore protests of millions the way the Bush administration did leading up to the war.

In my opinion, all of the arguments in the previous paragraph would be trumped if there was a viable and strong 3rd party candidate. But there isn't. However, if you're in a safe state, I think progressives should vote their conscience. I voted for Peltier on the Peace and Freedom Party line. Here is his statement:

Statement by Leonard Peltier

I am a Native American who has suffered nearly 28 years in prison, even though government attorneys and courts acknowledge that the government withheld evidence, fabricated evidence, and coerced witnesses to fraudulently convict me. But the courts say they have no power to correct the wrongs of our government. If the Courts do not, who does? I will ensure that all peoples receive justice. Environmental protection is paramount for our survival. The earth is our sacred Mother who nourishes us. Our government is destroying the earth by allowing its usurpation for greedy purposes. I will protect the environment. All minorities must be allowed to maintain their languages and traditions with dignity. I personally suffered the indignity of being deprived of speaking my native tongue and following Lakota traditions. This country has engaged in genocidal policies to exterminate virtually every minority, especially those who express dissent and seek equal justice. Now is the time to end the continuing injustices of this government and ensure liberty and equal health care to all. Luther Standing Bear, a Sioux Chief, stated: "Out of the Indian approach to life became a great freedom -- an intense and absorbing love for nature; a respect for life; enriching in a supreme power; and principals of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guard to mundane relations." That statement exemplifies the basic truths of life. I will represent all people, not the entrepreneurs who care only how much money can be stuffed into their pockets

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Peculiarity of Birmingham, Alabama

Originally uploaded by lito.

Here you see a photo taken at the area in Birmingham, Alabama called 5-Points. It's a crazy statue/fountain with a goat reading to a bunch of animals. I assume it's reading a bible, since this is the heart of the bible belt.

I was in Birmingham for the National Lawyers Guild convention the past few days. It's actually an interesting city, and I'm embarassed that this is one of the best photos I have of the area since the city has a tragic and inspiring history as a flashpoint of the American Civil Rights Movement. I was lucky enough to go to the Civil Rights museum and the park adjacent said museum. There were much more powerful works of art there, but I didn't have a camera with me at the time.

The Guild convention blew me away, as it did last year in Minneapolis. I was able to speak on one panel. My speech had the following message: we should be movement lawyers, and at my age with my experience I believe a good movement lawyer needs anger and inspiration; the commitment to understanding and partnering with clients and affected communities; and finally the recognition that some of the most important work we must do is not in an office or courtroom, but in the streets.

By the way, Rehnquist has thyroid cancer, so I'm reexamining whether swing state voters should choose Kerry.

Friday, October 15, 2004


Originally uploaded by lito.

So here I am at my new office cleaning up. There are files in the office from the 80's that are completely dusty and unecessary. We've been slowly getting rid of all this junk, and organizing the stuff we need to keep. Our office is on the second floor of a Victorian in the Mission District of San Francisco. I found out this week that we have mice.

I've also sold my car for less than its worth. I sold it to these nice guys who buy cars and resell them to used dealerships. I was glad to get it off my hands, I've already received two parking tickets because I wasn't able to move my car on the street sweeping day. Plus gas is expensive, and insurance is expensive, it was time to get rid of the car. It was a 1995 Saturn SL2 that served me well. It got me to Boston and back in 2001, drove me to and from major Texas cities, visits to Corpus Christi, and a recent trip to West Texas. Most recently it got me and my dog to California. Mostly I'll miss the bumper, where I advertised my political beliefs through sarcastic, self-designed stickers, like the classic "Jesus Loves U.S. Cluster Bombs."

One question for the week: Since when is Bill O'Reilly a celebrity and not a right-wing nut? The man should be shunned, but apparently he is promoting his new book - The O'Reilly Factor for Kids - on The View this morning. I don't watch that god-for-saken show, but they were talking about O'Reilly on the news this morning because a former producer is accusing him of sexual harassment. I hope he's going down.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Two subtle things about the Bay Area that I've noticed, and everytime I notice them I tell myself I should put that in my blog for some reason. As if anyone will actually be interested. The most I can hope for is a hmmm from a well-intentioned friend.

1. We have water trucks here that look exactly like the Sparkletts trucks from Austin, but they say "Alhambra" instead.

2. At every Chinese restaraunt I've been to, including those where you can get a lunch special for under $5, as soon as you sit down you are presented with a pitcher of hot green tea and a small cup. It's really a nice touch, especially on a cold, damp San Francisco evening.


Sunday, October 10, 2004


There is an amazing voting process about to take place in San Francisco - ranked voting. For local candidates - they are supervisors here (kind of like city council people, but in SF the county and city are kind of the same thing). It is essentially instant run off voting. For each slot you get 3 choices, ranked 1 through 3. If someone gets more than 50% of 1st choice votes, they win, if no one does, they eliminate the lowest vote-getters. Then if your 1st choice was eliminated, they count your 2nd choice, if not they count your 1st choice again in round two of counting. If someone gets 50% at that point, they win, if not, the process is repeated again.

Anyway, it is amazing that they have started this here - it will be the first time we use it. It has the potential to spread and to create an opening for 3rd and 4th party candidates.

There are lots of store fronts that have 2 signs in their windows for candidates running in the same district. Sometimes they put one above the other. At first I thought there were a lot of places that just let anyone post signs in their window. But then I realized it was a byproduct of our ranked voting system. They are essentially saying who they think our 1st and 2nd choices ought to be. In some districts there are alliances built, as candidates say vote me 1st and this other guy 2nd, or vice versa, but don't vote for X.

So imagine if this were our system in presidential elections. People really could vote their conscience.

Anyway, I hope it catches on, but I understand a lot of the major party big shots don't like it.

So, I think I'm going to try to sell my car in the next 48 hours. Does anyone in the Bay Area want it?