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.