Thursday, December 29, 2005

Everyday Is Like Sunday

Asian buffets are quite popular in Texas. So my first evening in Corpus Christi I found myself at a typical restaurant in the middle of a parking lot along the freeway. The parking lot was for a huge megaplex, next to a huge super-Wal-Mart, next to more stores etc. As soon as I walked into the Asian buffet I saw a large man sitting with his family. They all looked thoroughly bored as they watched their dad/husband gorge himself. He had piled high two plates – one with peel and eat shrimp, the other with crawfish. Peel and eat shrimp and crawfish at an Asian buffet? – ya, there was also pizza so figure that out. In addition to these two piles of food, he had a plate of various, greasy sesame chicken, egg rolls, and more. Others came in with similar dispositions – it’s time to eat a lot and skip the veggies. That particular guy was there when we arrived and remained, still eating, when we left. His family’s only hope was a very early heart attack.

I would estimate that 80% of the residents of Corpus Christi are overweight and maybe half are obese. It isn’t hard to live an unhealthy lifestyle in Corpus Christi. You pretty much have to drive anywhere you go, there are plenty of drive-thrus and chain restaurants with volume as their main selling point.



Parts of the city are really beautiful. I went running down the bayfront on Christmas Day. It was crystal clear, about 75 degrees. I could see north Padre Island and all around the bay clearly – including the condos, refineries, and the Naval base.

Brokeback Mountain

I also spent some time in Austin – the only part of Texas to vote against the gay marriage ban last fall. I watched Brokeback Mountain and tried my best to hate the thing. When I first heard about the movie I thought it would be a big blow to all the flaming queers who don't fit the rugged, cowboy stereotype. What's next a movie about gay frat brothers? Maybe gay football players? And when do we get to see a story about the millions of homos who aren't hyper-masculine and may even have an ambiguous gender.

Then I thought, what good, successful romance movie portrays the typical couple, whether straight or gay. And I was overwhelmed by what a touching story it was. I became really invested in the characters. Plus there was more cuteness than I expected, what with all the sheep and Jake Gyllenhaal. I highly recommend it and give it 7 stars out of 8.

I don't hate Christmas

For the record, and in regard to my last post, I do not hate Christmas. But I certainly don't think there is a war on Christmas. The U.S. is the most Christian country on the earth, what difference does it make if the elderly, underpaid greeter at Wal-Mart says "Merry Christmas?" For the record, in Corpus Christi the Sirloin Stockade marquee read "Merry ChrisTmas" and the "T" was actually a Christian cross. Also, when my Southwest flight arrived in Houston the flight attendant welcomed us to the city and said "God Bless America."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transit Strike

Going on strike was incredibly powerful. Only when employees and workers hold the kind of power the transit strikers held will the bosses and politicians kick and scream the way they have been.

One of my favorite lyrics from The Coup:
You never seen a police break up a strike by hittin' the boss with his baton pipe.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Keep An Eye Out For Dictators

From Bush's radio address today:
In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.

This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies.

Yesterday, the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have.

And the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country.
My interpretation:
Trust me. I'm the president and we don't need judges or courts to make sure I'm not violating the 4th Amendment. I decide these things! As Supreme Ruler, I mean President, I took an oath. Isn't that enough for you people? Look, my fingers aren't even crossed.

Now that the anti-war activists, I mean terrorists, know about this program, they may stop using the phone and other communication devices, and that sucks cause we can't find out what they're doing in our country. I mean, they may start using messenger pigeons and stuff now, and we can't intercept those as easily.

I don't know why you people are so angry that I told these guys they could spy on whichever American they decide might have some tie to Al Qaeda, without any checks by any other branch of government. I'm more upset that someone told on us. Why aren't you people outraged about that?!

Now I will use my presidential powers in the war on terror to halt the rebuttal by the Democrats.
[bang bang]

Thursday, December 15, 2005

No Emergency

Wait! There is no emergency!

Which is more likely: there is a real emergency in which illegal immigrants are crossing the Mexican border and causing a great deal of economic hardship to Americans as well as taxing our public services (to the extent these still exist) and adding to the crime problem OR the people supporting this bill in Congress to build a long fence (a step away from the Israel-Palestine apartheid wall and/or the Berlin Wall of the Cold War era) along the border with Mexico are racist, xenophobic opportunists seeking to find scapegoats and draw attention away from the billions we are wasting on an unecessary war in Iraq and the harm caused by billions in tax breaks for corporations and the super-wealthy?

That was a hell of a long sentence, but I stand by the content and choose the latter!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Another Execution

Stan "Tookie" Williams was murdered by the State of California last night. A needle was inserted into his perfectly healthy body as his mind, no doubt, raced with thoughts of his past and his loved ones. Then as our wealthy, white governor sat comfortably in his mansion (perhaps smoking a cigar which he loves to do, or maybe he was already sleeping with his wife, a.k.a. Skeletor) Williams, a poor person of color, was injected with poison until his heart stopped.

Outside San Quentin it was a bit of a circus. I saw (practically ran into) Sean Penn, Boots Riley, and Mike Farrell (from M.A.S.H.). I also heard Angela Davis was there, but I didn't see her.

There were thousands of people protesting, many swore revenge against Arnold around 12:15 as all hope appeared lost.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Save Tookie

The latest argument I've heard is that, beyond the crime for which he was convicted, Stan Tookie Williams is responsible for an incredible amount of death and gang violence as founder of the Crips gang. So I suppose this means he's getting what's coming to him.

But this exposes a real contradiction about capital punishment. If we reserve this ultimate punishment for the worst crimes, and "worst crimes" is really about actions that inflict the most human suffering, why are our American death rows full of poor people, a disproportionate number of people of color, and people who were all relatively powerless?

Most Americans are more at-risk for death and suffering from unsafe workplaces, pollution caused by industry, or health problems caused by smoking, toxic chemicals, and fattening foods. So, why aren't the powerful, mostly white, very wealthy CEO's of corporations that cause all this human suffering on death row?

How many Americans have been killed in unnecessary wars (Vietnam, Iraq, etc.) in the last 50 years, and how many have been killed by gang violence?

Is there a single police officer on any death row anywhere in this country convicted for killing an unarmed person while on duty?

The death penalty is not about keeping us safe. It is about continuing to lynch people of color in a time when it is unacceptable to hang us from a tree. It is about keeping the masses of poor, working people in their place. It is about making rich, white Americans feel safe, whether or not it actually makes them safer. And, it is about satisfying the appetites of sick politicians and district attorneys.

Besides the problems with Tookie's trial and the fact he has changed and now speaks out against gang violence, he should not be executed because it would only bolster our backward, racist system of capital punishment. If you are in Northern California, please try to get to San Quentin Monday night.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Eva Longoria


I went to elementary school with her, and only recently realized she was kind of famous. We were both gifted and talented, but it's obvious which of us has had the most success.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

This Stupid War

Everyone thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.


Colin Powell, February 2001:
[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq.
British Member of Parliament George Galloway to the United States Senate:
I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.
So according to the right wing, Bush wants to win while the anti-war contingent wants to cut and run. What exactly does Bush want to win? The war against Iraq? The war against the insurgents? The war on terror? We can't win because there is nothing to win. The longer we stay the more we lose. The longer we stay the more the people of Iraq lose. Remember, the anti-war contingent either never believed the claim of weapons of mass destruction or preferred to let UN inspectors try to find them. For us, going to war in the first place was a huge loss. Leaving Iraq now isn't about winning or losing, it's about ending a war that should have never started.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Til Gabriel Blows His Horn

Why do I care about the Texas Longhorn (American) football team? I'm not sure, but part of the reason is that I think Vince Young is incredibly talented. It's too bad that there has to be so much gross culture associated with college football. It is so sexist with the heavily made up, scantily clad, always smiling cheerleaders contrasted with the frat boys and various cowboy-hat wearing, cannon-firing militia groups oozing with misdirected and often foolish machismo. Then there's the over-paid Coach Brown and over-funded athletics in general.

Still, the game is fun to watch - full of suspense and athletic eye candy. And I do feel connected to my alma mater (I am still paying someone who bought my debt from someone else who paid for my education there). So I was glad to see us beat the backwards, George Bush library scum-bucket Aggies. And it's pretty exciting that we have a shot at a national championship this year. Any Longhorns in SF wanna watch the game?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

oops

Texas may have executed an innocent man. It's no surprise to me. I have no doubts that Texas has executed several innocent people. The criminal justice system in Texas is a joke - judges don't care about getting it right, prosecutors just care about reelection, or they may simply be evil. As for the truly guilty, it is one thing to be powerless and kill someone, quite another to have a life of privilege and be a powerful elected official and kill. Some of the greatest crimes in Texas were committed by Richards, Bush and Perry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Exhausted

I can barely keep my head up. Why? Is it that I'm lamenting the state of politics in the world? The gradual warming of the globe that will kill off the human race in my lifetime? The exploitation of millions? My allergies?

No. I spent 3 hours this early evening trying to figure out why my Norton Firewall won't let my Microsoft Outlook download or send emails. I still don't know. I didn't change a single setting. It took me long enough to figure out it was my firewall. When I turn it off I can do email. When it is on, I cannot. Now I have messed with the settings with no luck. I restart my computer. Restart it again. The internet works. I can check my email using the webmail option. The server is fine!

It makes me so tired. Help me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Creating Terrorists

I'm sure some on the right (and even in the middle) will claim this is another blame America first rant, but in my mind this is proof that our war on Iraq, war on terror, and all the torture and barbarism associated with it is creating terrorists not fighting them. The headline reads U.S. may have once detained Jordan bomber. I've already seen some saying this was a missed opportunity. Maybe some will claim this is the reason we should give our "soldiers" in the war on terror (that includes a lot of civilians) more free reign to do what they will with detainees. This proves, they might argue, that we shouldn't be listening to the whiny, Geneva Convention, anti-war, human rights weirdos. We let one slip through the cracks after all.

I see this differently. The most obvious reaction for me is that this is an example of how American policies in Iraq are doing a great deal of damage to the region; that we are pushing people from resentment to suicidal anger; and that the only thing we are accomplishing is greater destabilization, greater violence, and greater suffering. There is mounting evidence that the soldiers and officials who are in charge of handling terror suspects and enemy combatants are committing acts designed to inflict pain, humiliation and sometimes even death. It is no surprise that someone who spent time as a victim of this madness would committ an equally horrific act.

U.S. out now! Why? Because we're the bad guys now.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bill O'Reilly: You're Either With Us Or ...

Bill O'Reilly was so angry that San Francisco voters decided this week that military recruiters ought not be allowed in our public schools. Here's what he said on his radio show:
And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.
This is a fantastic example of how ideologically driven the right-wing "war on terror" is. The neocons and right-wing nuts, like O'Reilly, don't care about keeping Americans safe or supporting democracy (if not in San Francisco, certainly not in Baghdad). The "war on terror" is about American power and supremacy over the world. Not only will the right-wing turn against foreign nations who refuse to accept our military, political, and economic supremacy, the right-wing will also easily turn against Americans. If they have to lock themselves up in the Pentagon or the Fox Broadcasting headquarters and wage war on the rest of the country as well as the rest of the world, they will.

It's kind of like that scene in Spies Like Us when the U.S. General discovers that the missile fired was not intercepted by the laser. He and others will remain safe in an underground bunker as this missile will undoubtedly spark a nuclear war, but he is prepared to accept this consequence and live in the bunker for years "to preserve the American way of life." Down with San Francisco and any other liberal/progressive American cities. Let them all burn if it will preserve Bill O'Reilly's view of the American way of life.

The crazy thing is that after O'Reilly's statements, I think Coit tower is more at risk from right-wing, homegrown terrorists than Al Qaeda.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Washington Makes It Hard To Take A Stand

Here is what the San Francisco Chronicle says about Proposition I:
Military recruiting ban. NO. We share the authors' disdain for the military's discriminatory "don't ask, don't tell" policy -- as well as their disagreement with the war in Iraq. This policy statement is nonbinding, but if its call for restrictions on military recruiting in public schools were carried out, it could cost city schools $40 million in federal funds, a sacrifice that no one who cares about education would advocate. In our view, if you're going to make a "policy statement" on principle -- you must be willing to accept the consequences of the stand ... or it's not really a statement of principle at all.
So should people vote against the proposition because it could cost city schools millions or because it doesn't have the guts to risk the money? This doesn't make any sense. In fact the statement of principle that we are trying to put forward is that military recruiters should not be in our public schools, but as an obvious extension of that we believe that no schools should lose money for taking such a stand. Backers of Prop I didn't create the policy that could strip funding from public schools, so why should our statement of principle have to accept those consequences.

While a local ballot measure doesn't have the power to change federal law, it can be a powerful statement against federal laws and policies. If the Chronicle Editors aren't opposed to using a ballot measure to simply take a stand, and they're opposed to the war, the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and the Solomon Amendment, then it is baffling that they have chosen to endorse a No vote on Prop I.

Monday, October 31, 2005

NLG in PDX: Radical?

I just returned from the National Lawyers Guild Convention in Portland, Oregon. It was, for me, the most inspiring convention I've been to for the NLG (I've only been to two others - last year in Birmingham and the year before in Minneapolis). Lynne Stewart - a harmless grandmother who the Feds are trying to lock up for decades - spoke from a position of strength despite her very vulnerable situation. There were more people of color present than I've seen previously - both in the audiences and on the panels. The Gender Outlaws and Queer Rebels panel was something I don't believe the Convention has ever seen. A lot of young, bright, people took on positions of power (or are likely to when all the votes are tallied). And I could go on.

Still there were divisions. For me the primary divisions were between those with a more radical outlook versus those who had what they saw as a more practical, reform-minded, (and again in their minds) more effective outlook. For this latter group there tended to be more years of experience, but also lifestyles that were more dependent on the status quo. For this latter group there was also a sense of shame and a desire to be part of mainstream American politics (or at least the political games that are the focus of the corporate media and sadly have a hold on power at the present moment in history). "People don't take us seriously." "Nobody cares about the NLG." "I want to actually win a political battle." These are the types of statements I heard from these folks.

Who does take us seriously? Maybe politicians in Washington, or Sacramento, or Austin don't care about the NLG, but 30 years ago these folks didn't care about the Federalists. They stuck to their crazy, right-wing principles anyway and kept at it. Now the most powerful man in the world (theoretically) consults them on every judicial appointment. Plus, and more importantly, the people who do take us seriously and do care about the NLG are not powerful people, but they should be important to us: The activists we defend; The immigrants we work with; The victims of police abuse for whom we demand justice. For the younger folks, and those with more radical outlooks, it was these people we sought to impress. For us, we were more concerned with expanding on this work - why aren't we helping more of the powerless and earning their respect?

Winning a political battle, after all, isn't always about getting a bill passed or getting a particular person on a Circuit Court. Indeed sometimes passing a bill that appears to provide positive, short-term benefits, is actually a step backwards if in the course of getting that bill passed principles were sacrificed. This is the view of the radicals in the organization, like myself. Stick to our principles of internationalism, genuine equality, and anti-racism, and work hard to convince the doubters, work in coalition, and build our ranks from below. Judging from this year's convention, I believe this is the spirit that will ultimately carry the day for the NLG and in the long run make us a stronger organization, and one that actually has an effect on positive political change.

With that said, I can't report much from Portland about the city. I barely saw any of it, but from what I did see, it seemed very clean and well planned. Plus Mount Hood looked really beautiful from the train. Next year's convention will be in Austin, so to all my pals in TX - get ready for the NLG.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Biggest Worries Aren't

>Terrorists Crossing the Mexican Border
>The Plight of Cancun Tourists
>Lesbian Basketball Players Corrupting Young Sports Fans
>What to wear for Halloween
>Drug Smugglers
>Hell

Now I'm off to Portland.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

For Immediate Release: Monday, October 24

SFSU STUDENTS PROTEST MILITARY RECRUITERS ON CAMPUS
Cindy Sheehan flies to White House to protest 2000th US Fatality in Iraq

The expected 2000th US fatality in Iraq will be marked by hundreds of protests around the country, including Cindy Sheehan going directly to the White House to demand a meeting with President Bush. In San Francisco, the major protest will take place at San Francisco State University (SFSU) as students and community members protest both the presence of Marine recruiters on campus and the death of the 2000th US soldier.

Students and protesters will rally at San Francisco State University (SFSU) 10:30 AM this Wednesday to oppose any military recruiters who dare to come onto campus. Matt Gonzalez of the Green Party, Aimee Allison, a conscientious objector in the first Gulf War and currently on the steering committee of the College Not Combat-Yes on Prop I campaign, Sharon Adams of the National Lawyers Guild, and others will be speaking against the presence of military recruiters at the campus job fair and against the brutal war in Iraq which has killed over 100,000 Iraqi Civilians and now 2,000 US soldiers. Cindy Sheehan of Gold Star Families for Peace, grieving mother of a fallen US soldier who camped out outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, lends her support to SFSU students as she travels to Washington DC.

As the military finds it harder to convince recruits to fight, the antiwar and counter-recruitment movement is stepping up its fight to demand “College Not Combat, Money for Education Not Occupation.”

This comes during an intense legal struggle between students and the university. National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Attorneys have filed suit against SFSU on behalf of two student groups, Students Against War (SAW) and the International Socialist Organization (ISO). The suit arises from a protest against military recruiters on March 9th of this year that took place on the SFSU campus. The NLG accuses SFSU administrators of violating their own policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation by allowing recruiters on campus, and of violating the due process rights of the student organizations by punishing them at the end of an unfair disciplinary process. Disciplinary action is still pending for three individual students, and the university’s actions have significantly hindered students’ rights to organize on October 26.

The crackdown on students is matched with leniency toward recruiters who shamelessly defy the anti-discrimination policies of universities such as SFSU. “The people and the City of San Francisco have consistently supported gay rights and opposed discrimination,” stated Matt Gonzalez of the Green Party, “The University should publicly condemn the military's discriminatory policy and back the students in their efforts to keep recruiters off campus.”

“Our university officials are systematically trying to keep us from protesting the military coming onto our campus,” stated Michael Hoffman of Students Against War, one of the students facing disciplinary action for last semester’s protests. “We are not going to let them strip us of our right to free speech and our right to demand that not one more student die for this immoral war!”

On November 8th, the city of San Francisco will vote on Proposition I to get military recruiters out of San Francisco schools. The passage of this resolution is sure to bolster future actions at SFSU and beyond.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Peliculas y Mas

I wasn't feeling too hot this weekend, so I watched a few movies. First, Crash was fantastic. I cried when the little girl ran to her dad to protect him from getting shot. Then Prozac Nation was o.k. I liked the acting, but thought it ended feeling like an ad for the pharmaceutical companies. Still, Christina Ricci is hot (or so says Colby). Gunner Palace was boring. I thought there was going to be some soldiers bad-mouthing Donald Rumsfeld and maybe we might see some major combat, but the first 45 minutes was just some boring soldiers hanging out in a bombed-out palace. Maybe the good stuff came later, but I stopped watching it. Then there is THX-1138 - the first movie by George Lucas. It was really cool. I especially liked the futuristic, nonsensical digital displays. But by far the best thing I watched on DVD this weekend was the 3rd season of Dave Chappell. Oh my god, he did not just say that! The gay Ku Klux Klan dude was the best.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Police Deserve Psychiatry, Criminals Deserve Prison and Torture

Check out this Washington Post article, titled NEW ORLEANS POLICE STRUGGLE WITH UPHEAVAL. The premise is that the New Orleans police are working long hours and under a lot of stress and this is why you see actions like the beating of an elderly black man without provocation.

If only the Post and other journalists had this same concern for the people accused of violating criminal statutes, or victims of police abuse who have broken no law. Why would a poor black man drink too much and act a little beligerently? Who cares - throw him in jail!
Abolish the New Orleans Police Department

In the spirit of starting from scratch in New Orleans, it seems the perfect opportunity to get rid of a racist, oppressive, and violent institution. The video of these police beating a senior citizen is disgusting. The nagging question that I have, though I wonder whether the "rotten apple" proponents have contemplated this, is how often does this sort of thing happen when there aren't Associated Press cameras around?

In the aftermath of Katrina, it was clear that racism was alive and well in America, and not surpisingly in the South. The police were not competent enough to help people after the storm, many apparently decided to go on their own crime sprees. The only thing they are good for is oppressing people and protecting property. So get rid of the whole thing.

What will replace it? Something better.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

U.S. Navy Terrorizes Peaceful San Francisco

Since Thursday or so the Blue Angels have been flying over my city, often really low and really loud. On Friday I actually saw the windows shake by my desk. It is fleet week I believe, so I assume that means a bunch of Navy ships are docked here in some nostalgic practice that harkens back to the carefree years following World War II. I wonder how those year's were for Japan.

At any rate, I used to go to air shows as a kid and was thoroughly bored. I actually sustained my worst injury at an airshow in Corpus Christi, so guess how that happened. I can only see two reasons for enjoying the acrobatics, noise, and dizzying fly-overs of the Angels or other such airplanes. One is the amazement some feel when watching airplanes because of their abilities as flying machines. Flying machines are cool and people who believe this like watching them - kind of like that kid in Empire of the Sun. The second reason is patriotic machismo, or perhaps imperialistic team spirit. When you see those planes flying so fast, and they are so loud you feel kind of scared but assured because you know they are on your side. You get a taste of what those bad guys must feel when they climb out of their caves with their machine guns and see what they're up against. It makes you want to pound your chest and shout "U S A . . . U S A!"

In my case, I'm not usually interested in flying machines, except the really big ones. And being an internationalist who is appalled at America's militarism and its foreign policy, I don't like the Blue Angels and wish they would leave. I hope to gods that my tax dollars aren't paying for those jets.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A Typical Weekend in San Francisco

The protest on Saturday was incredibly large. The organizers estimated 50,000 and I wouldn't be surprised if that was correct. It was definitely the largest march I've ever been in. The march on March 19th was the 2nd largest, the Millions for Mumia march in Philly in the late 90's was the 3rd largest, then I think either the rally against the execution of Shaka Sankofa in Huntsville or one of the marches before the war in Iraq in Austin tie for 4th. It's too bad we didn't surprise the cops and all march to Nancy Pelosi's office (or Dianne Feinstein's) and take the place over.

Then on Sunday I went to my first Folsom Street Fair. It was a huge, crowded, sweaty, drunken, fetish party. It was a lot of fun. The only problem I had was with the occasional military or police fetish guys - but I guess if they're submissive and being whipped it's o.k.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Right After I Post This I Am Going To March Against War

The Orange County Register wrote about today's upcoming protest in a hopeful yet prescriptive manner. They were hopeful that the marches and demonstrations would be large, but also didn't want them to be full of "fringe" leftists. They should embrace the growing number of Americans who oppose the war and are not "knee-jerk" radicals. They go on to mention Cindy Sheehan and the military families that have been involved in anti-war protests as a distinct difference from the military-hating anti-Vietnam protests. Then they write ...
But Ms. Sheehan's statements have sometimes gone beyond understandable anger about the war to embrace a range of radical causes. We think that is a mistake. Ordinary Americans who love their country and don't see it as the source of most of the evil in the world but are upset about the Iraq war need to see a reflection of themselves, of a broader Middle America, in this weekend's events. Otherwise they are likely to dismiss the protests as the work of people who will leap at any opportunity to "blame America first."
Although they critique the protests of the Vietnam era, they ignore how effective those protests were at radicalizing thousands of "ordinary Americans" and ultimately ending a war that began with little if any American opposition. That should be the goal of today's protests. Not to try and make this idealized "ordinary American" comfortable, but to challenge her or him and make the connections that must be made. More and more people are realizing that as the most powerful nation in the world, the U.S. is to blame for much of the world's problems, especially when you consider what we could be doing to improve things with all of our wealth and power. What the protests should do is make clear that the "ordinary Americans" are not to blame, but only the tiny percentage who own both the Democrats and Republicans, and who fatten their wallets on warfare and plundering.

Then there is this from Tom Matzzie, the Washington Director of MoveOn.org who disagrees with the "Troops Out Now" message of this weekend's protests: "As political organizers, we think the best way to bring our folks home from Iraq is to create a political dynamic where Republicans are defecting from their leadership and Democrats are making Iraq a political liability for the Republicans." Again, that certainly is not what worked during the Vietnam era. It seems to me that all MoveOn.org wants to do is set itself up to take credit for some future exit plan that comes out of Congress or the White House. It will be growing protests in the streets, frustration with foreign policy, and demands like "troops out now" that will create the pressure from below to get any changes out of our elected officials. But the MoveOn folks will claim that there subtle political strategy and capitol hill connections made the difference. Nonsense! They're just a bunch of tools.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Faith In Galloway


I felt the power of the holy spirit this Wednesday evening in San Francisco. Or rather, I heard an incredible speech by British MP George Galloway at Mission High School that had the packed house rising to its feet a number of times. Although I still have concerns about the man's views on abortion (I've read that he's anti-abortion, but not found a lot more information than that, and with as many critics as he has, who knows what the real story is), it was hard to shrug off the power of his anti-war, anti-occupation message.

Among other things, he compared Barbara Bush's comments in the Astrodome to Marie Antoinette's purported comment "let them eat cake," leading up to the French Revolution. He slammed the occupation of Palestine, but called the whistleblower, and Jewish Israeli, Mordechai Vanunu "brave." He quoted Lenin saying something like, "there are decades when nothing happens, but there are weeks when decades happen," then went on to say that those weeks are coming.

He also has a really cool accent - maybe Irish - with a deep voice. He even rolled his "r"s sometimes.

Anyway, it was pretty inspiring. I wonder when this country will see as outspoken, honest, and brave a politician.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hugo Chavez - You Gotta Love Him

From today's speech at the UN: "Today we know there were never weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but despite that, and going over the head of the United Nations, Iraq was bombed and occupied. So the United Nations must be pulled out of the United States."

Yes! Why should the United Nations be in a country that has absolute contempt for international law, except when it serves its own imperial purpose? The War in Iraq and the unwavering support for Israel should be sufficient, but the appointment of that freakazoid Bolton as our ambassador should seal the deal.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Winter in San Francisco

O.K., so I suppose it is still summer, but it feels like winter here. The thermometer in my backyard said 57 degrees this afternoon. It was overcast and chilly. I kinda like it right now, but it's pretty crazy. I wore a long sleeve shirt, a jacket and a knitted hat today!

One thing that's cool is that Colby's out here now. Check this kid out ...



Plus I'm sleeping o.k. this week. Here I am wandering around late at night ...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"This place is going to look like Little Somalia"

A quote by Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, who was preparing a security mission in New Orleans. Do we need any more evidence that race is a factor? Do we need more evidence that the poor in America might as well live in a "3rd World" nation? Does the world need more proof that America only knows how to solve problems with brute force, whether it be by police on the street, or soldiers in Iraq?

Read the Army Times article: Troops Begin Combat Operations in New Orleans.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Empire Struck by Hurricane

To quote my friend David, who was anticipating someone else's writing, "this natural disaster was man-made, and ... the tragedy is really the fault of the government, the capitalists and the wealthy." Our government simply doesn't do things for the poor and the needy, except tax them and make them work with little protection. We are spending billions in Iraq for the wealthy, and a flooded New Orleans simply doesn't light a fire under our political leaders and their corporate masters the way a war for natural resources does. Someone was quoted as saying the situation was like a 3rd World Country. We are the richest, most powerful nation on earth, or in history. Yet our country is full of the working poor, the uninsured, and failing public infrastructure. We can send thousands of troops, ships, missiles, guns, high-tech equipment, helicopters and jets to the other side of the world to fight an unecessary war, but the first food trickles into a major American city devestated by a hurricane several days after the storm.

Loot, loot, loot away! Before the food arrived, Bush did announce a zero tolerance policy on looting. Just as our troops protected the oil wells before anything else after the fall of Baghdad, the first thought of the politicians is to protect property and wealth in this country as well. These people are in the middle of a disaster without power, with the threat of disease looming and with no help from the federal government. They deserve every can of beans, pair of pants, and DVD player they can get.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Assassinate Pat Robertson

His followers have caused too much harm to women and gays. His promotion of murderous foreign policy has helped give Bush the cover to kill tens of thousands. We could organize for years to eventually kick him off the air and make him irrelevant, but we would sacrifice so much in the interim. It is cheaper to just take him out with a sniper. It is, I believe, what Jesus would want.

Read this related story.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Dude, Let's Go Kill People!



This is an actual ad from the Army National Guard. The t-shirt and DVD are really tempting. I imagine killing brown people in other countries is probably a lot like a rocking beach party, so that's cool too.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Zinn

"The power of government, whatever weapons it possesses, whatever money it has at its disposal, is fragile. When it loses its legitimacy in the eyes of its people, its days are numbered. We need to engage in whatever actions appeal to us. There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming ­together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress."

Check out his essay in its entirety: Occupied Zones.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

God Bless Sheehan

If Mr. Bush really is a Christian (if he isn't, and it's all an act, I have no doubt that he is sent here by Satan), he must be contemplating his chances of going to hell. Cindy Sheehan - a very articulate mother who lost her son in the Iraq war - has been protesting and camping out near Bush's ranch, and has said she won't leave until he meets with her. The reason is that Bush has said that anyone who has died in Iraq, has died for a noble cause. Sheehan simply wants to ask him what that noble cause is.

Mr. Bush is a liar, who has used his power to have thousands murdered in Iraq, Afghanistan, Huntsville Texas, and elsewhere. I don't really believe in heaven and hell, but assuming for the moment that they may actually exist, Cindy Sheehan clearly has a better chance of going to heaven, and I just can't see her sharing eternity with an evil man like Bush.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

San Francisco vs. Austin

Gay, male, nudity in alleys.



Fog.



Garbage.



Graffiti.



That's all great, but in Austin I got to ride a boat on Lake Travis.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Justifying Terrorism

There's been a lot of debate in London about whether the terrorist attacks there are connected to British foreign policy and specifically the war in Iraq. When people on the left recite this connection they are often told they are justifying the terrorism. This is just what happened when British MP George Galloway said, "If it is a question of quantum, there is far more blood on the hands of George Bush and Tony Blair than there is on the hands of the murderers who killed those people in London."

When he was asked about justification, he had a weird answer: "If I say a car has four wheels and the Ford Motor Company say it has four wheels, that doesn't make me part of the Ford Motor Company." I guess his point is that he believes invading Iraq is wrong, and so do the terrorists, but that doesn't mean he supports or is in solidarity with the terrorists.

I think that's an important point. Our invasion of Iraq is wrong. In fact it is terrorism, and we ought to end it. But why acknowledge that the terrorists may be motivated by a similar animosity toward the policies of the U.S. and Britain? Is he saying that because Blair and Bush have done far worse, it justifies what the terrorists have done? Are they simply fighting back?

I don't know, but I wouldn't dismiss the notion that they are in a defensive position up against the most powerful forces on the planet. I don't agree with their tactics, but if they are just fighting back, doesn't the blame for the attacks lie primarily with Bush and Blair? After all, if you unleash terror on the world, why would you expect anything better in return?

I think Galloway is making a good point, but I would have said it like this: "Bush and Blair started a war of terrorism in the Middle East, and they now must answer to their people who are suffering because their terror war has come home."

Saturday, July 30, 2005

East West

Check out this poem by my friend kEvin on enfusemagazine.com.

Also check out the lyrics to this Arcade Fire song, Cars And Telephones, that I've been listening to over and over again.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Fun Facts

51% of Americans believe the Bush administration deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

30% of U.S. troops have developed stress-related mental health problems 3-4 months after coming home from the Iraq war.

85% of the British public believe there is a connection between the UK's foreign policy and the July 7th terrorist bombings in London.

Monday, July 25, 2005

U.S. Military Caught Lying (Again)

"Enemies of humanity" quote raises Iraq PR questions. News release quotes from unidentified Iraqis are virtually the same.

Read the CNN story.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

No Random Bag Checks At Subways

It's a shame that many commuters in New York are reluctantly accepting the random bag checks that have started at the subway stations. So far BART is saying it won't start such a program, but I don't think it would take much for them to follow suit. If the terrorists really hate freedom, (which is a stupid notion, as crazy as they are I'd bet $2000 they do not hate freedom) they certainly are accomplishing their goal.

The reason why Americans are at risk of being killed or injured by terrorists is because of the sick policies of our leaders. The reason we have to endure bag checks, and an ever-increasing police state, is because of the terror our military has unleashed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world. The proper reaction to the bombings in London is to oppose such intrusions into our privacy and demand we pull our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately.

If we pull out we are giving in to the terrorists.
Yes, but that presumes we support the policies even without the risk to Americans. It's a bad policy - imperialism that is - and we should pull out regardless. The suffering of innocent people in London is just more reason to make our demands louder.

It's unclear that random bag checks would actually catch terrorists or deter them. My guess is it would not. At any rate, I don't think it is worth giving up our liberties for the mess George Bush has made (the Democrats' hands are dirty as well).

I don't fear terrorists when I ride the BART. Americans, even those who regularly ride subways, trains, buses and ferries, are probably more at risk of death or injury because of defective products, unsafe workplaces, a lack of health insurance, dirty air, bad food, police misconduct, and heat waves than a terrorist attack. When are the cops going to start doing something about all that?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Legal Observers at Protests Remain Essential Check on Police Power

Cinnamon Stillwell’s knee jerk column, “When Anarchists Attack,” criticizes the "legions of liberal lawyers and community volunteers from the ACLU and the NLG” who she believes to be "conveniently on hand" during demonstrations. While there can be legitimate differences of opinion about the politics of a certain group and their actions at a particular demonstration, there can be no doubt about the purpose and usefulness of having legal observers present at demonstrations or about the importance of competent legal representation for those arrested.

Ms. Stillwell reports the facts that the police have provided while dismissing facts offered by Indybay.org and others. National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Legal observers are at these protests, in part, because the facts given by police are not always the most impartial account of what may have transpired. The role of the legal observer is not to police the protesters – observers were outnumbered by at least 20 to 1 by officers paid to do that job. The role of the legal observer is to ensure police accountability and to provide impartial information so that innocent people are not later convicted of crimes.

In the face of the demonizing remarks made about legal observers by Stillwell, it is important to note that a Legal Observer and a street medic were the first and only people to respond to the injured officer for the critical first few minutes. They provided emergency first aid and tried to get help from other officers. Unfortunately when other officers responded both people were subjected to physical assault.

The past reminds us that the San Francisco Police Department has come a long way from its near fatal attack of United Farm Worker leader Dolores Huerta at a 1989 demonstration. The reforms that have taken place over the years in the department have been largely inspired by those legions of community activists from the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU who worked with the police in developing new policies and who have trained countless individuals to act as legal observers at demonstrations.

In this case, the NLG is concerned that the officer’s actions on the night of the anarchist protest were a wild departure from reasonable or prudent crowd control measures and may have substantially contributed to a situation in which injuries were more likely to occur. This included driving dangerously into a crowd of 50 protesters and running into the crowd, swinging batons without protective gear or backup present. With this information in mind, one cannot dismiss the notion that the officer was injured in an act of self-defense, defense of another, or accidentally.

The NLG did not endorse the protest in question, but an endorsement is not necessarily a prerequisite for us to provide legal support. When the NLG agreed to observe at this particular protest, we did not anticipate that an officer would be injured, and we certainly would never hope for such an act. If the facts that Stillwell presented are true, and the injury to Officer Shields was caused by a senseless “beating,” we would condemn it as a dangerous act of stupidity. But that remains unclear. The NLG will continue to work with activists, whether anarchists or liberal Democrats, to ensure that the right to protest remains robust in the Bay Area and that police act professionally and fairly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Home

When my friend Thomas moved to New Orleans a few years back, he stuck a Texas flag sticker on the back of his car that said "HOME." If I still had a car, I'd do the same. Don't get me wrong, I love San Francisco, but I miss Austin. With only 10 months in California, it still feels like where I belong. I managed to sneak away for about 5 days and here's what I did:

Ate Thai Passion

Watched Mister Sinus Theatre mock Red Dawn at Alamo Draft House

Barton Springs

Lovejoys (and some new place called Sidebar)

Drove a Boat on Lake Travis

Consumed a Homemade Meal Prepared by My Ex-Boyfriend's Mom

Elysium (aka Sleaze-ium)

Gueros (pronounced Gwearoes in gringo-Austin-speak)

Barton Springs

Little City

Sesame Tofu at Hoa Hoa (formerly Hao Hao)

Hole In The Wall $1 Shiner

Barton Springs

Noodleism

Plus I got to see some of my long-time pals. I missed the hot, humid weather, though everyone there was already sick of it. Maybe I'll move back in a year or two or three and wreak some real havoc.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Trouble Loves Me

An officer was hurt in an anarchist protest in the Mission District of San Francisco Friday night. The National Lawyers Guild was doing legal support for the protest, but we never expected something like this to happen. Now how do we respond, especially since we are concerned about the wrong people being targeted?

Here's my attempt.

Friday, July 08, 2005

My Qi Is All Messed Up

So today I'm going to my second acupuncture session. It's difficult for me to do because I don't buy it. I'm unconvinced. The end of my tongue is red so that means there is a problem with my heart? The dark circles under my eyes indicates a problem with my kidneys? I need needles stuck in my to get my Qi (pronounced chee) flowing correctly?

My dad was an electrical engineer, my mom was a registered nurse, and I have a bachelor of science degree in microbiology. I trust, understand and rely on "Western" medicine. But I'm trying to keep my mind open. People have told me it worked for them, so I'm thinking it might help me out in some magical way, or at least in some way that science doesn't quite understand yet.

I was told that I might feel numbness or tingling, and this is called the "Qi effect." But I really didn't feel anything during my first session. It was relaxing because I was resting on a table in a dark room with a mini waterfall and soft classical music playing. But I didn't feel that the needles did anything. I've been told that it takes multiple sessions, so I'm going again, and maybe once or twice more before I decide if it's worth it. But if a leap of faith is involved, maybe it won't work on me, even if it works on other people.

I've been told that I should trust alternative medicine because "Western medicine" is guided by capitalistic principles. There is truth to this. I'm wary of what the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are doing to health care. But alternative medicine, especially in a place like San Francisco, is in no way isolated from capitalism. Furthermore, "Western medicine" is also guided by scientific principles that make sense to me. You test something, and if it works then you're onto something. My understanding is that studies on acupuncture have shown it may help some types of pain, but not much else.

So why do it? Because even if it doesn't work for most people, it seems to work for some, and there aren't side effects as far as I know. So I'll keep at it - maybe I'll feel something today.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Fear

After this morning's terror attacks, Bush said something like "the war on terror goes on." You could almost sense the rejuvinated purpose in his voice. The reason? For all of the acting tough in Washington, the neocon agenda relies heavily on fear not toughness. It is for this reason that their agenda overlaps with the agenda of the terrorists. They all want us civilians to be scared, but with different end purposes in mind. Today Bush got a new attack, and a gift of sorts. Maybe he can use this to stir up enough fear in the minds of some Americans and get his policies and Supreme Court nominees in place.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

New Template

What do people think? I'm not sure I want the photo and profile up.

Monday, July 04, 2005

San Francisco Fog

Under better circumstances, I'd be updating this weblog more frequently, but I happen to be in a pretty foggy period right now, and I'm still waiting for it to clear.

Perhaps it would help if I could fix my weblog. Does anyone know what's wrong with it?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Freedom

Sure, there are corporate sponsors and the Sheriff actually included a prison bus in his part of the parade, but gay pride is still at its heart about freedom. People being who they are and having a great time. Doing things and acting in ways that would likely be unacceptable in most public places, but so what if people are offended, no one gets hurt.

Unfortunately, I didn't do much for gay pride, although it is by far the biggest party
San Francisco throws. I was petitioning at Rainbow Grocery (cooperative grocery in SF) the other day and the sign on the door said "We will be closed Sunday for Gay Pride, but we will be open July 4th."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Being A Tourist

My mother is in San Francisco, and I've been touring the city from the perspective of a tourist. I even went on a bus tour of the city. It has actually been helpful. I have a much better feel for the city than I've ever had. Previously I was most familiar with the Mission and was aware of adjacent neighborhoods (Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, Castro, Soma). I also was familiar with the Sunnyside neighborhood because I lived their for 7 months, but no one else really knows where that is.

We checked out the Golden Gate Bridge, we rode a cable car, walked in Chinatown, went to Alcatraz, Union Square, Mission Dolores, the piers, etc. The best part by far, however, was Golden Gate Park. It is huge, and we saw maybe 10% of it. My mom loved the botanical gardens and the Japanese Tea Garden. I hope to spend more time there - maybe when I get a bike. Find more of my photos here.

By the way, I'll be in Austin from July 15th through the 20th, so look for me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What I Said Yesterday at the Extradite Posada Rally at the Federal Courthouse in San Francisco

Last week four men were arrested in Lodi California for alleged ties to terrorism. Thousands are being held at Guantanamo Bay and all around the world because of alleged ties to terrorism. On the other hand, Luis Posada is a known terrorist, responsible for the deaths of dozens of innocent people. He is not facing criminal charges, and he is certainly not being tortured like many of the suspects at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Posada has access to legal help and, for all we know, he is still on the CIA payroll.

I mention the nearby Lodi arrests because it highlights the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration and the justice department under Attorney General Gonzales; and it allows me to bring up a point about the believability of government officials engaged in a bogus war on terror.

I do not believe that the men in Lodi were or are a threat. I’ll admit that the possibility exists that there was some sort of terrorist cell there, plotting some sort of terrorist act against this country. It is possible, but I have so much doubt that it is true because I simply don’t trust the FBI and the rest of the so-called anti-terror apparatus the Bush administration has significantly empowered since 9/11.

Why? I mentioned these, mostly Muslim and Middle Eastern men being held without trial. Some of them have been released. They weren’t terrorists after all. There was nothing to charge them with. Yet they were held against their will. What about the people still being held? We don’t know. How many innocent people have been tortured in U.S. detention camps? How many have been tortured to death? Even when the government does get a terrorist conviction, it may be against someone like NLG lawyer Lynne Stewart – a grandmother and litigator who was targeted for simply vigorously defending her client.

Then there is the military combat piece of the war on terror that has killed tens of thousands of innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Finally we are learning more about the lies that got us into Iraq in the first place. Killing thousands of innocent people in Iraq when our leaders knew there was no threat to our country is terrorism on a massive scale. Historically, there is the School of the Americas, the Shah of Iran, the support for Pinochet, and I could go on and on. My point is that in the War on Terrorism, our government has no credibility. The fact that Luis Posada is being coddled and shielded is just another reason why I trust the accused men in Lodi California more than the men (and women) in the White House.

I want to remind people that the National Lawyers Guild has a hotline for people who have been contacted by the FBI or other government officials in the course of an investigation like the one in Lodi California; It is 415-285-1041. Thank you.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

"The Whole World Is Anti-United Snakes" -Boots Riley

I went to see The Coup at 1015 Folsom this past Friday. As when they performed in Austin, it was incredible. Though it was pretty much the same show - right down to Ghetto Manifesto performed to the music from Outkast's So Fresh, So Clean. I thought they might have some new stuff. As when they performed in Austin, I went up to Boots Riley afterward to say "hello." I asked him about new music, and he says there will be a single out later this summer and an album out probably in September.

I'll wait patiently.

Speaking of patience, perhaps the FBI should be more patient when it comes to busting up Muslim communities. Or maybe they just don't care - it's all a show anyway right? I'm referring to the recent arrests in Lodi California that had all the mainstream media falling over themselves to report on the possible terror cell in a small farming community; reporting on the "details" of the case against the men. Of course the details were just bits of information that may or may not be true that some FBI agent was using against the men, specifically one 22-year-old man who supposedly trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Pakistan.

So the whole case appears to hinge on this camp existing, and there is considerable evidence that no such camp could exist. Since the FBI is often wrong about their accusations - a lot of accused terrorists have been acquitted or simpy charged with lesser immigration violations - I think there is plenty of reason to doubt their claims and not buy into the resulting hysteria. My guess is the men they arrested are far less dangerous than someone like Luis Posada, who our government appears to be sheltering from criminal charges.

By the way, there will be protests around the country on Monday against asylum for the terrorist Posada and in support of extradition to Venezuela. Find out more HERE.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Can We Cripple Imperial Warfare and Start a Revolution?

First why we shouldn't support the Democrats if we really want change: The Left Must Learn From 2004 - Interview with Kevin Zeese from Antiwar.com.

Second, remember the trite saying "What if they threw a war and no one came?" There may be something to that: May Recruiting Goals, Already Lowered, Off by 25% - Story from ArmyTimes.com.

Finally, is a revolution underway in Bolivia? We should be paying attention to this: Bolivian Congress Meets As Fighting Erupts In Sucre.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Snap Shots

Yes, I've moved for the second time in about a month. Why? A number of reasons follow: (1) I discovered that I'm very sensitive to street noise from cars, motorcycles and such. My room overlooked a relatively busy road - and a short segment of road at that - so people were always accelerating to the next stop sign. Acceleration is usually pretty noisy. Plus my windows provided about as much of a sound barrier as tissue paper (single ply!). As a result I wore ear plugs most nights and still had trouble sleeping. (2) The area I was at, was too dog friendly. Unfortunately my dog is not that friendly, and it was getting hard to take him for walks as 100's of dogs ran towards him every time we walked out the door - owners not far behind saying, "go say 'hi' to the doggie!" Too much stimulation for a poorly socialized dog. (3) I found a place that was hundreds of dollars cheaper, still in the Mission, closer to work, more space inside and out, and with cool roommates.

There are at least two other reasons that I choose not to mention here.

A couple of nights before my move I was freaked out by a fire across the street. San Francisco is full of these 3 and 4 story homes, each floor is a separate apartment (or flat), and one house has little or no space between it and its neighbors. So it is scary to think about all these people occupying such compact space and then having a fire spark up in the middle of it all. Fire engines came and hose was pulled out. I heard a lot of windows breaking - either because firemen were breaking them to get in or let smoke out, or because the heat was breaking them.

Oh, while moving I opened a box that I had left unopened since my first intra-city move back at the beginning of May. It contained a little notebook I hadn't looked at in awhile. Here are some notes I found that I wrote as I planned my move from Texas:

Preparing to Move
-Rent for Sept. 1st
-Bill Ogilvie + Ryan - Give Notice to Each
-Moving Company
-Car-sell?
-Utilities
-Phone
-Insurance
-Gold's Gym
-Bank-Wells Fargo?
-Wells Fargo Loan-UN:**************** PW:****
-Sell ACL ticket
-Buy Franz Ferdinand ticket @ the concourse SF 9/22/04

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Now That The Very People Accused of Abuse Have Cleared Their Own Name, We Can All Rest Easy

A very noble and responsible act - this is surely how the corporate press will treat this story. The Pentagon has publicly detailed the mishandling of the Quran at Guantanamo Bay.

Of course it would be bad enough if the investigation that led to this report was done by anyone in the Pentagon, as opposed to an independent 3rd party. But the Pentagon didn't even attempt to have a seperate investigative unit take this on, it was conducted by Brig. General Jay Hood - "the commander of the detention center in Cuba."

How will Americans and the media respond? It should seem both ridiculous and suspicious to anyone with a basic sense of due process - one that I think exists even in this country. We don't let accused criminals act as their own judge and jury.

But then again, accused criminals are usually poor people of color. This is the Pentagon. Americans - at least the ones with the most influence in Washington (or Austin or Sacramento) - trust the Pentagon a lot more than petty criminals. I think. But I hope I'm wrong. Or at least I hope the rest of us can start to have more of an impact.

An accurate reading of this report should be: If this is what the accused criminals running Guantanamo are willing to reveal, what they are covering up must be much worse. Remember, it isn't just Quran abuse that is suspected at Guantanamo. It is also torture. We know that at Abu Ghraib people merely accused of something (terrorism?) have been tortured to death.

So why would anyone, particularly a responsible media, trust a single finding, a single word of this latest Pentagon admission?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Has Dick Cheney Ever Been To Guantanamo Bay?

He apparently is offended by the Amnesty International Report that singles the U.S. out as one of the greatest human rights violators in the world, and points specifically to the problems at Guantanamo Bay, which it called a modern-day gulag. Here's a quote from the CNN story . . .
"I think the fact of the matter is, the United States has done more to advance the cause of freedom, has liberated more people from tyranny over the course of the 20th century and up to the present day than any other nation in the history of the world," he said.
I very much doubt this is true. It was a mixed bag in World War II. Sure we helped defeat the Nazis (some would say reluctantly at first), but we also unecessarily murdered thousands and unleashed a new evil on the world when we dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. Since then we've propped up all sorts of evil regimes, from the Shah of Iran to Pinochet in Chile. We certainly weren't doing anything to liberate people in Korea or Vietnam. As for Afghanistan and Iraq, which Cheney specifically mentioned, I find it odd that a majority of the people in both countries would want their liberators out of their land and would either support or refuse to oppose an anti-American insurgency.

Cheney is just an old, white, rich tyrant who would have died of a heart attack decades ago if he had the same health plan as the average American. Reading about the Larry King (speaking of old, white and rich) interview, reminded me of the cool bumper sticker I made awhile back . . .

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Weak Spot in America's War Machine

Millions of people throughout the world marched against the possibility of war with Iraq in early 2003, including hundreds of thousands of Americans. The notion of going to war wasn't particularly popular with even those Americans who would never think of attending a political protest. But against all logic, evidence and popular opinion, Bush went to war anyway. His regime has murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and has sent over 1600 Americans to their death.

At first, after the war began, many Americans fell into line. (Refusing to whole-heartedly support a war once it has started is considered traitorous by many Americans - the equivalent of not supporting the troops and nearly the equivalent of supporting enemy troops.) But Americans are now learning the same lesson generations learned 30 years ago, and a majority now opposes the war once again, or at least believes we should pull our troops out. Yet the Bush regime refuses to compromise, blasting all critics of their murderous adventure, and refusing to talk about an exit strategy. Were this a more democratic country, we might have an opposition party that represented the majority of Americans who want us to leave Iraq. Instead, the Democrats are . . . fundraising? "compromising" with the Republicans by allowing right-wing judges throgh the Senate? trying to rid their Party of the word "choice" as Howard Dean recently said? holding out false hope for progressives who still cling to the Democrats?

Beyond the two Parties, the anti-war movement continues. It is not strong, but it is still alive. Counter-recruitment is breathing new life into the movement.

Military recruitment is a huge weak spot for the American war machine because it is where the right-wing foreign policy fantasies meet reality. The notion that U.S. soldiers are fighting for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, or even against terrorism is increasingly difficult to sell, particularly to those who must put their bodies on the line for those rotten, spoiled hawks in Washington. The barage of lies about American foreign policy is getting harder to cover up, and even the corporate media is having trouble changing the subject fast enough (e.g., everyone heard about Newsweeks huge mistake, but many of us later learned that the underlying facts may have been completely accurate).

On this note we are seeing a lot of counter-recruitment efforts across the country. These range from offering alternatives to military service for young people, to protesting military recruiters and forcing them off of college campuses, to calling on school boards to end ROTC programs in high schools. I was able to speak this Saturday at a College Not Combat rally in the Mission. They were kicking off a campaign to have the Board of Supervisors (the equivalent of the city council for San Francisco) pass a resolution that would call on the removal of recruiters from schools. It isn't clear what effect this would actually have on the recruiters, but it would certainly send a powerful message.

The military has been missing its recruitment goals for the past several months, and in combination with the increasing number of deserters, and the number of soldiers killed and injured, we may see this war end just as the Vietnam war ended - in a loss not for Americans, but for U.S. imperialism.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

May 2005 - The Hardest Month Since July 2001

Illness - the latest is bronchitis. Living in a new place - not much sleep. Now I'm moving again after only one month. Work has been as busy as ever. On top of all that, Washington's right-ward march continues with few apologies - the media is tagging along. The whole deal reminds me of the Montgomery Burns autobiography: Will There Ever Be A Rainbow. Will there?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Fox News Makes Me Cough

I was watching the O'Reilly Factor - only because I was flipping through the channels and I didn't see his enormous head on the screen; he had a woman of color filling in for him. I don't know her name, but she was debating with a criminal defense attorney an announcement by a theme park that they were going to keep sex offenders out of their park. The defense attorney was arguing that it was a bad blanket rule - particularly depending on the actual offense and how many years ago it happened. As the debate became heated, the defense attorney asked, "Why don't we just have people wear big scarlet letters on their clothes?" And the female O'Reilly said, "Why don't we? We don't have enough of that sort of thing." This made me laugh out loud, which made me cough (because I'm getting over a cold).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

George Galloway, My New Hero, Shows Democrats What A Real Opposition Looks Like

Galloway, a British member of Parliament, testified before a Senate panel to answer charges that he had profited from the "oil for food" program. When he was asked if he met with Saddam Husein he said he had met with Saddam "exactly as many times as Donald Rumsfeld has met with him ... The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and give him maps." His simple, honest statements stunned Senators and put them on the defensive. Here's more from the CNN story ...

Galloway, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, called the Senate panel's investigation the "mother of all smokescreens" used to divert attention from the "pack of lies" that led to the 2003 invasion.

"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001," he told Coleman.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives -- 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies, 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever, on a pack of lies."

He added: "Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported."


Americans would be so lucky to have more of this kind of debate in Washington. Unfortunately, except for the occasional bold statement by Senator Byrd, we are left with an impotent, unprincipled Democratic Party. It should be noted that the Labour Party is slipping as well. Galloway was expelled from Labour for telling soldiers they shouldn't fight in Iraq. Good for him.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Unruly Dogs

The Mission and The Castro - I sort of live in both places - both have a high-pressure dog culture. For most people to afford a home or rent in these areas, they can't really have kids - dogs are a lot cheaper - and it is difficult for gay couples to have kids anyway (straight couples sometimes have to work to avoid having kids - or so I hear). Anyway, this has been a challenge for me because Sebastian is maladjusted - he's a spaz and he will sometimes attack other dogs. I have an appointment with a dog trainer, but I've considered canceling it, debating whether it is worth the cost.

This morning, I took Sebastian out and was reminded why I need some professional help. A block from the house we came across a woman in a wheelchair with a small dog in her lap. Sebastian didn't notice the dog at first, but when he did he started to pull and stand on his legs (something he can do when he is on a leash by merely pulling away), then he started yapping (he has this type of bark in these circumstances that is like a high-pitched, metered scream). The woman in the wheelchair had the usual response as I tried to hold Sebastian back, "It's o.k. he's a nice dog," referring to the dog on her lap. Oh good, I thought, then he won't get upset when my dog bites his little face.

Then I kept walking and half a block later we came across an older woman, walking another tiny dog. Sebastian had the same reaction, but this woman wanted to talk to me about something. I was distracted by my dog, so I didn't respond the way I wanted to.

Obesity

The first thing this woman said was, "I'm surprised she didn't fall and crush your dog." She was referring to the woman up the street in the wheelchair, who happened to be obese. Everyone in the area noticed our interactions because of all the noise Sebastian was making, and this second woman had been watching as well. "I don't trust fat people. I used to live by this bakery," she continued. I can't quote her much more, because again I was distracted, but basically she wanted to tell me how much she hated overweight people.

My coworker has criticized people, jokes, and movies as "sizeist" from time to time. I've caught myself a few times on this issue as well, but it is difficult sometimes because I do think that obesity is a particular problem in America because of our culture and because of official politics. There is a culture of driving everywhere in many parts of the country - even to the drive-thru Starbucks. In part, I think, this culture is related to official politics that is guided by private industry as opposed to the public good. We build roads because it is better for the auto industry and the petro-chemical industry as opposed to funding public transportation and encouraging walking and bike-riding. Free market competition leads to big-box stores with huge parking lots, because they mean more profits for bigger, more powerful corporations. So sometimes, I cricize all of this indirectly by describing suburban, white, Republicans driving SUV's as "fat." Maybe this isn't productive, but I'm not sure.

My coworker, for instance, says she heard the movie Super Size Me was sizeist. But I think to the extent it was critical of obesity, it was making a broader point about how accepting this free market, corporate rule is making us all unhealthy. Isn't obesity inherently unhealthy? I don't know. But, either way, this woman on the street was not making a political point; she was just a crazy bigot.

Palindromes

Speaking of movies, obesity and isms, I saw the movie Palindromes last night. I thought it was great - which is what I think about all of Solondz's movies - but it also had an obese actress, as well as several actors with disabilities. Was it making fun of them? The audience certainly laughed at the mere appearance of a large, African-American woman, and a lot of humor seemed to come from the diverse group living with Mama Sunshine - a little person (I think she had no arms), a blind albino (is "albino" an offensive word?) woman, a young man with down syndrome, and others. In the context of the entire film, I don't think these images were meant as low-brow humor, but I'm still contemplating.

What I definitely liked about the film: The situations in his films are often unbelievable, but you become invested because they are rooted in reality. So, in this case, I think, he did a good job of using typical, drab, American backgrounds as settings for his over-the-top situations and dialogue. The girl's botched abortion took place in a mini-mall that could have been in the suburbs of any bland American city (e.g., Houston, Tulsa, or Phoenix). The discussion between the twisted truck driver and his underage companion took place in a diner with no distinguishing features - it looked like the kind of place that might be attached to a hotel in a large town near an anonymous interstate highway. But they were discussing what their story might be if cops asked them who they were - in fact they were on their way to murder a doctor that performed abortions. The clincher was that the dialogue was humorous - pulling together all of those elements is one of the reasons I like Solondz's films so much.

Mundane

Speaking of depressing diners, I ate at one in San Francisco recently. When you don't know a city very well, sometimes you end up eating at places because you don't know where else to go. The place had lighted images of food and sodas above a posted menu on the wall, but the images had faded and yellowed, and the lights were dim so it just made the whole scene kind of creepy. There were two other people in a place that could have accomodated 100, and the music was light rock from the 70's and 80's (e.g., Air Supply) completing the mood. But I was hungry so I had to deal with it. Here's what I ate . . .

Monday, May 09, 2005

An Urgent Problem

It's immigration, apparently. Our Governor, an immigrant himself, says that the Bigots on the Border (otherwise known as the minutemen) are only doing a job the federal government won't do.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle story.

Here is Schwarzenegger's quote: "No one, Democrats and Republicans alike, really wants to go in there and really tackle the problem and then come up with a comprehensive solution to what we do with the undocumented immigrants that are in this country," he said. "It's not a lack of money. When we can afford the war in Iraq, we can afford to control our own borders."

What do we do with those undocumented immigrants? I have some possible solutions . . .

1. Talk to them and make some new friends.

2. Ensure they get a living wage, along with everyone else. Punish employers who ignore this rule.

3. Pull our troops out of Iraq, and use the billions of savings to improve public schools for undocumented immigrants and everyone else.

4. Open the borders to make it easier for them to visit family members who happen to live down south.

5. Ensure that they have the same liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights as citizens.

6. Elect one of them as governor to replace Mr. Schwarzenegger.

As usual, with this new debate on immigration, there are few reasons given for why there is such a crisis, and what exactly the problem is. To me, this makes it crystal clear that it is all about scapegoating and racism.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Sebastian Learning to Live in the Mission



It isn't all burritos and hugs you know.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Change Can Be Good
Do I Really Live in San Francisco?


All of a sudden what I was doing at work one week ago is completely different from what I should be doing now.

All of a sudden I live in a room overlooking a relatively busy road, and I need to buy some ear plugs.

All of a sudden I'm taking a muzzle on my dog walks and occasionally strapping it onto my dog's face.

Less suddenly, but within the last few months I am: drinking soy milk twice daily or more; frequently riding trains; eating tortilla chips almost daily; only eating freedom fries maybe once a month, and french fries maybe only once every two months; saying "no sour cream" on average three times a week; taking lots of pictures and uploading them to the world wide web; speaking in front of friendly people in a jacket and tie; drinking beer daily; talking to people I don't know; and posting to a weblog called shoplifters unite!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sixty Percent of Mexicans Would Commit Civil Disobedience to Support Left-Leaning Mayor of Mexico City

That's according to polls that show majorities of Mexicans who believe his indictment was politically motivated and not part of a legitimate legal action. Mexico may be a "fragile democracy" as the Christian Science Monitor noted, but the Mexican people seem to have a deeper understanding of democracy than Americans if they are willing to commit civil disobedience. More proof of this: 1.2 Million Mexicans marched in Mexico City to support Mayor Obrador yesterday.

Friday, April 22, 2005

THE MISUNDERSTOOD YOUNG CONSERVATIVES

Here is the text of an email I received after publishing this column last weekend ...
Mr. Villarreal,

I am writing to you in response to your April 17 article titled "Washington Is Bolstering An Anti-immigrant Movement, Will The First Latino A.g. Take A Stand?"

Mr. Villarreal, you accused YCT-UT of holding a “capture an illegal immigrant days” this is simply not true. I would like to point you to a press release put out by YCT on March 3, 2005. The full PR may be obtained here.

It is clear what was coined in your article is pure fiction. While I was not there for the alleged event (I attend Texas Tech University in
Lubbock) you wrote that, "hundreds of protesters confronted the Young Conservatives." These protesters were 'protesting' a Texas Independence day event/table. Protesting an event such as TID is clearly a lack of respect for the people who sacrificed their lives for freedom. While I respect anyones right to assemble and protest, it is despicable that you seem to applaud the acts of these "hundreds" of protesters.

Below is a statement made by our then current State Chairman, David Rushing on the situation concerning the alleged “capture an illegal immigrant days” at YCT-UT.

"Articles in newspapers across the state on Thursday covered
protests against the Young Conservatives of Texas’s UT chapter.
While YCT-UT was merely running a table designed to celebrate Texas
Independence Day, the protesters had gotten wind that the chapter
was going to hold a “Capture an Illegal Immigrant” event similar to
one held in January at YCT’s University of North Texas chapter.
Regardless of what internal debate may have occurred among UT
chapter members, no illegal immigration event was held at UT, yet
their Texas Independence Day celebration was crashed by protesters
wishing to silence YCT’s political expression."

In the future please research your articles more carefully.

Regards,

Kevin Wood
kwwood@swbell.net
Chairman YCT-TTU
YCT Vice Chairman of Communications

http://www.yct.org
So, as far as I can tell, they fully endorse the racist and childish capture an immigrant game, but they just decided against doing it at UT Austin on that particular day. Well pardon me Mr. Bigot.

And Texas Independence was no fight for freedom, it had more to do with rich white men kicking Mexicans out of land they had lived on forever. Some of the political motivation for the fight for independence was the desire to own slaves, which was outlawed by the Mexican government, but was making white men just east of Texas very wealthy. I guess the Young Conservatives are still fighting those old battles.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

OOPS, WE ACCIDENTALLY TORTURED PEOPLE UNTIL THEY DIED
OH AND WE DON'T REALLY KNOW IF THEY EVER DID ANYTHING WRONG


From the Washington Post ...
Soldiers' 'Wish Lists' Of Detainee Tactics Cited

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page A16

Army intelligence officials in Iraq developed and circulated "wish lists" of harsh interrogation techniques they hoped to use on detainees in August 2003, including tactics such as low-voltage electrocution, blows with phone books and using dogs and snakes -- suggestions that some soldiers believed spawned abuse and illegal interrogations.

The discussions, which took place in e-mail messages between interrogators and Army officials in Baghdad, were used in part to develop the interrogation rules of engagement approved by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, then commander of U.S. troops in Iraq. Two specific cases of abuse in Iraq occurred soon after.

Army investigative documents released yesterday, as well as court records and files, suggest that the tactics were used on two detainees: One died during an interrogation in November 2003 while stuffed into a sleeping bag, and another was badly beaten by inexperienced interrogators using a police baton in September 2003. The documents indicate confusion over what tactics were legal in Iraq, a belief that most detainees were not covered by Geneva Conventions protections and alleged abuse by interrogators who had tacit approval to "turn it up a notch."
Confusion over what tactics are legal? How about a basic sense of human rights and respect for fairness and justice? Does the military teach any of that? Certainly not. The Army has nothing to do with human rights. They teach soldiers to kill and help them get over their own fears of being killed, not in the name of human rights but in the name of U.S. economic and political hegemony.

Our criminal courts in the U.S. don't let murderers off the hook because they were confused about the law. I suppose when the victims are foreigners, people of color, and accused of doing something bad by the military, confusion is understandable and murder is excusable. Tonight I will pray to the new pope that the U.S. military never accuses me of anything.

Coming soon . . . fallout from my column.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

IMMIGRATION

I thought this article was a little too short for its content, but I originally wrote it as an Op-Ed for a newspaper. If I had the time I would further explore the connection between the anti-immigrant legislation related to 9-11 and laws that seem more focused on our southern border.

The main points are that there is some scary shit going on in this country, it appears to be spreading, and the mere fact that there are some people of color in positions of power doesn't seem to be helping.

So I actually believe the border should be open, and if you don't, my question to you is this: Will the border between Mexico and the U.S. exist in its present form forever? One scary answer to this question: No, it will become more "secure" with fences and maybe in some locations an Israeli-style apartheid wall.

By the way, anyone keeping an eye on the protests in Mexico around the popular mayor of Mexico City who is described as center-left. The Mexican Congress has allowed for his prosecution for what appears to be a minor issue, and this decision came down just after he announced he wanted to run for president. Now it appears he may be in jail when the elections for president begin. On Univision last night they were showing some of the protests, but I need to find out more. I'll start by reading this article.

If Mexican democracy delivered left-wing leadership in the next few years, I wonder what Washington's reaction would be like? What would the Minutemen do?