Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Holidays in Corpus Christi

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I realize now that I took for granted the South Texas birds: pelicans, sandpipers, cranes, gulls.

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The city has its own unique maturity.

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Something I used to dismiss.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Danger and Safety All About Crime - More Police the Only Answer

There has been a lot of news recently regarding CQ Press' Report on City Crime Rankings. They rank the most dangerous cities and safest cities and the corporate media loves these lists so they repeat the assertions and headlines proclaim things like Oakland ranked 4th most dangerous U.S. city, Richmond ranked 9th.

CQ Press notes that these rankings are controversial. But according to their site, the criticisms seem to mainly be about the many factors contributing to crime, the fact that crime may be isolated to certain neighborhoods within a city, and the economic impact the report has on tourism. In other words, various city politicians and chambers of commerce don't want people with money to think of their city as dangerous.

The biggest criticism I have is that it focuses on crime, and specifically "violent crime, murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, property crime, burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft." These are hardly the greatest factors in determining whether a city is dangerous or safe. I would add environmental factors such as smog, proximity to dangerous facilities such as nuclear power plants and refineries, access to affordable health care and critical services, traffic and traffic accidents, workplace safety, and injuries and deaths caused by law enforcement (which are often not prosecuted as crimes).

I would also argue that the crime factors they take into account are more often a problem of poverty and inequality in a community. This is particularly important when some cities take these rankings as a cue to hire more police officers even when they are considered one of the safest cities. With millions in prison is this still the best we can do? The corporate media and cities would do better to pay closer attention to the studies and reports from the Justice Policy Institute than these simplistic rankings that get so much attention and lead to such bad policies.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Quent Reese

My hits on this site have jumped in recent days and it seems that many people are trying to find out more about Quent. Most who knew him probably already know that he took his life a week and a half ago after battling depression for some time. But some folks might not know that he asked that generous donations in his memory be made to Sandra Reed, who has fought and sacrificed tirelessly for years to stop the execution of her son Rodney Reed.

Please make checks payable to:
Sandra Reed
And send to:
Professor Dana Cloud
The University of Texas at Austin
Department Communication Studies,
College of Communication
1 University Station A1105
Austin, TX 78712

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Quent

We've been through so much together. You are my best friend. You were my first love. Sappy but true.

I spent a lot of time with you during some of the most formative years of my life and you had an enormous effect on who I am now. You shaped my politics and ideals in ways that will always guide my decisions. If I hadn't known you I might not have become a leftist. If I hadn't been moved toward progressive and radical politics, I might never have been drawn to the Texas Civil Rights Project. If I hadn't interned there, I might have never gone to law school. And of course in law school, with my politics and your influence, I joined the National Lawyers Guild. And here I am in San Francisco, working for the National Lawyers Guild. You are a part of my life. Like a brother, or maybe more like a sister since we share so much.

You were my first long term relationship, and my last until I met Johnny. For four years we were together (off and on). Remember Boston, Mexico, West Texas, New Mexico? Remember Gary Graham? Remember asthma and the early morning trip to the emergency room? Remember the lunch you would make me with carrots and cottage cheese? Remember the hours spent at Little City with our laptops? Remember walking across the UT campus holding hands and kissing outside of my microbiology class? Remember the first time you really got drunk and started telling people on the street about the next protest? Remember the time in Houston with your dad and Jake the dog? How about riding mountain bikes in Ruidoso or jogging around town lake? The hundreds of nights we slept in the same bed and held each other?

My hand is below the water still grasping yours but I can feel you slipping away now.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Keep your head above water!


Colby and Quent Swim 1, originally uploaded by lito.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Presidential Candidate Quiz

According to this quiz my positions on various issues are most closely aligned with Dennis Kucinich. In fact, we don't disagree on anything according to the quiz (though I didn't like any of the answers on the immigration question). What is odd is that my second place was Chris Dodd, 3rd was Mike Gravel, 4th was Bill Richardson. None of these guys have a chance if I understand the news reports correctly. John Edwards came in 5th, Clinton and Obama tied for 6th. The highest ranking Republican for me was Giuliani. Some guy named Duncan Hunter was last on my list.

Dennis Kucinich
Score: 61
Agree
Iraq
Immigration
Taxes
Stem-Cell Research
Health Care
Abortion
Social Security
Line-Item Veto
Energy
Marriage
Death Penalty
Disagree

-- Take the Quiz! --

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pelosi Prays for Our Troops in Iraq to Win

Wonderful. And what exactly does it mean to win Nancy?

A better answer - if you are actually a believer in prayer: I pray for our troops and the people of Iraq to all have better lives and more hope for their futures. I know the Bush administration and officials at the Pentagon, as well as their apologists in the media, and most in Congress (including Democrats) are working hard to kill and maim Iraqis and could care less about the working class soldiers in our military, but I pray to God to do what he (she?) can to counter this evil.

I would ask Pelosi: "Do you pray for our soldiers to win and ask God to guide their bullets right through the heads of Iraqi insurgents so that they may die instantly and feel little pain? Do you pray to Jesus that our troops win and that he ensure that civilian casualties and dead or injured children are minimized?"

God bless American cluster bombs. May they shred human flesh good. Thank you Jesus.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"Why I Love America" by Alberto Gonzales
9th Grade Government Class


Actually, this piece is a "commentary" on CNN.com, but it in fact reads like a cheesy middle school - maybe high school - paper on how anyone in America can grow up poor and climb to a position of real power, inflicting death, terror, and torture, or something like that.

Here's a classic line: "My hopes, and those of many others with stories similar to mine, are reflected in those words of the founders of this nation more than two centuries ago: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'"

Wasn't that the line from Lisa Simpson's report for that Reader's Digest competition back in the 2nd or 3rd season of that show. If I'm not mistaken she greatly improved it later by scrapping the sappy naivete and rewriting it as "Cesspool on the Potomac."

Here is the point of Gonzales' American Dream piece: He is "the son of a Mexican cotton picker and a construction worker who never finished grade school, and [he] served as the Attorney General of the United States." This proves that the American Dream is still alive as long as we continue to embrace the values of "sacrifice, hard work, personal initiative, dedication to family, and perseverance in the face of adversity" or to rephrase "family, hard work, and sacrifice." Oh and Hispanics share these values (except the one's he had executed of course, they were mentally retarded).

Bravo Alberto. You've done good. God Bless. Now sit back down and let's hear from one of your classmates.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Morrissey: Not Your 15-year-old cousin's alterna-rock sex symbol

But a sex symbol of sorts at the age of 48! Twice, during his show at The Fillmore in San Francisco on September 27, he stripped off his shirt; throwing it out to the audience the second time. The venue was very cozy - at one point I was within 8 feet of the man, and I wasn't trying too hard; quite a change from the last time (and first time) I saw him at the Summit in Houston around 1992 or so; I was about 8 miles from the stage back then, and quite awkward and insecure - a closet homosexual living in Texas and all.

None but Boz Boorer looked familiar in Morrissey's band; Boorer having been with Morrissey since about the time he shed his last Smith or sometime around Your Arsenal, but early in his solo career. His entire band was dressed the same and had about the same haircut - brunette and short on the sides - bow ties and vests - they could be servers at Martuni's on Market Street.

Some of the songs he played: "How Soon Is Now," "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side," "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself," "First of the Gang to Die," "Last of the Famous International Playboys," "Sister I'm A Poet," "To Me You Are a Work of Art," "Life is a Pigsty," "I Like You," "Billy Bud," "Let Me Kiss You."

One of my favorites was "Irish Blood English Heart," where he switched the lyrics "I've been dreaming of the time when the English are sick to death of Labour and Tories ..." to "I've been dreaming of the time when Americans are sick to death of Republicans ..." But he didn't add "Democrats." Damn. Oh well, they can't all be perfect. Songs that is, not people. People can definitely all not be perfect.

O.K. that last bit was a comment of Morrissey's from the show.

My only observation regarding the crowd - who knew so many of Morrissey's fans were straight?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

M.I.A. at the Treasure Island Music Festival

Love the new album, particularly "Paper Planes." That's what she was singing in this photo from the Music Festival on San Francisco's Treasure Island. I think she was doing this during one of the gunshot parts ...



All I wanna do is (BANG BANG BANG BANG!)
And (KKKAAAA CHING!)
And take your money

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Take That Elton John, Candle In The Wind Crap!

Take That Da Vinci Code, Book I've Never Read!

Morrissey's Work Predicted the Death of Diana (Princess Di)!

video

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzales Resigns, But Does It Matter

When now former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was merely nominated as Attorney General awaiting confirmation, I was strongly opposed to his appointment because he was an advocate of torture, state murder, and clearly loyal to Bush far in excess of anyone resembling a trustworthy public figure. To add to that, his road to head of the justice department was more than merely about the appointment of a conservative Bush hack, it was about a move to the right for the corporate media, the political establishment in Washington, and in a way that affected me personally, some of the largest Latino organizations in the country.

The media was initially reporting that his confirmation would be an easy one for Bush, and few reporters or pundits explored the problems with his record. It seemed, early on, that most Democrats would not put up a fight. And, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) as well as the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) strongly supported his nomination.

Ultimately progressives managed to get enough attention on the matter that his confirmation took longer than expected and succeeded with fewer votes for confirmation in the Senate than any other Attorney General in history. But it succeeded without a filibuster and was an unbelievable step backwards following John Ashcroft.

Now years later, Gonzales is "embattled" according to the corporate media, and resigning. Democrats have forced him to testify, it seems like numerous times now, and grilled him on domestic spying and U.S. Attorney firings. Some right-wingers don't like him because, among other silly reasons, one of his U.S. Attorneys in Texas prosecuted some trigger-happy border patrol agents and won a conviction from a jury of Texans who actually heard all the facts. I would argue that some people found it easier to go after Gonzales because he is Latino - an awful guy, but a safer target than some of the rich white guys who are sometimes far worse. Dick Cheney remains; Michael "tough on immigrants" Chertoff remains and may even take Gonzales' place; Bush remains and continues his surge despite his dismal poll numbers; the domestic spying continues, but now with Congressional approval.

Is this a victory? It depends in part on how the media, activists and even some politicians respond.

My fear is that D.C. Democrats (you know the pro-war, pro-death penalty, pro-spying, liberals), with a handful of exceptions, will simply say "our job is done and it is time to move on ... to electing Hillary and bombing Iran." Bush will appoint someone just as bad or worse to replace Gonzales and the spying, torture, and executions will continue. Progressives will say, "we have to make sure a Democrat wins the White House at all costs." And Gonzales will join a prominent Texas law firm, publish some books, and maybe still have a shot at a federal judicial appointment next time a Republican takes office.

My hope is that activists will focus on the issues that are important - put their energy toward ending the war in Iraq and any other imperialist wars that Clinton, Obama or Edwards may be considering; continue demands for an immigrant amnesty, an end to torture, and an end to domestic spying. For starters. The amount of energy to put toward opposing Bush's new nominee will depend on how these issues are furthered by that opposition.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The American Dream, a.k.a. Nightmare, a.k.a. Narcoleptic Episode

On my way out to Yosemite I remember getting beyond the hills of the Bay Area into the hot, flat, boring Central Valley around Tracy, California (before reaching the Sierra Nevadas). There were dusty, crowded freeways, mini-malls, drive-thru Starbucks, and dense, virtually tree-less, housing developments in the middle of completely tree-less fields of dirt and weeds. I wondered who would want to live out here - even if they could get one of these homes - relatively large homes for relatively reasonable prices compared with the rest of the Bay Area.

Yes, even out in Northern California, developers, sprawl and home-ownership fetishism tear up the countryside with their appalling, free-market waste dumps. But now the housing market is in a slump and there is trouble in the suburban wastelands as foreclosures multiply.

It is really funny reading the story in the San Jose Mercury News that has an overall negative tone but quotes developers who, always thinking of their own bottom-line, put a rosy spin on the situation:

"Just four years into the development, about 6,000 residents live in roughly 2,000 homes. Of those, about 60 are in foreclosure, according to Sean O'Toole, founder of ForeclosureRadar. Yet the major home builders at Mountain House [a development near Tracy] - Pulte, Lennar, Centex and now Shea Homes - say the community is one of their best-performing markets. Given the Central Valley market, where sales are off by more than one-third compared with a year ago, according to the Ryness Report, that's not saying much."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yosemite

Managed to get out to Yosemite this week for 3 days - it was my first time to visit the Park. Johnny and I spent time in Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy, Glacier Point, and Mariposa Grove. We didn't make it to Tuolumne Meadows and we weren't camping or doing any strenuous, day-long hikes. The whole area was jam packed with tourists - it seemed at times like most were from other countries. It was also probably one of the hottest times of year to go to the Park. Click here to see all my photos of the trip.

The first day we headed straight for the valley and tried to familiarize ourselves with the area. There wasn't much time so we grabbed a trail map and headed for Vernal Fall. It was sometimes a steep climb but worth the effort. We found a rock under the fall and relaxed for an hour before heading back down.



That evening we rushed to Glacier Point to get a fantastic view of the valley at dusk.



On day 2 we went to Hetch Hetchy - the reservoir that provides drinking water for San Francisco. It has its own valley that is nearly as beautiful as Yosemite Valley. But it was even hotter and dryer. Plus the trail we took was mostly along the banks of the reservoir and exposed to the sun, making the walk back pretty miserable. We were trying to find Tueeulala and Wapama Falls. As far as we could tell, Tueeulala was completely dry and Wapama was only a trickle of water. Kind of disappointing but not a total bust.



Parched and worn out, we headed for the Merced River in Yosemite Valley - to an area where we had seen people swimming the day before. We relaxed on a rock and took a brief swim that was cut short by a snake attack. No one was hurt, but when I saw the thing swimming about a foot away from Johnny I shouted a warning and scurried out of the water onto a rock. Johnny froze. The snake shrugged - if that is possible - and swam away.



We dried off and consumed wine, cheese and bread under El Capitan. Took a little walk to see Bridalveil Fall and headed back to the hotel.



On the last day we drove to Wawona - which struck me as sort of the country club of Yosemite, including a 9 hole golf course. We checked out a restaurant, but the food seemed pricey and there was a tour bus of foreigners ahead of us. So instead we ate hot dogs and drank Guinness at the golf shop. Then we went on to nearby Mariposa Grove to see some giant sequoias before heading back to SF.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Democrats Cave to Bush Pressure on Spying

From the New York Times: "Under pressure from President Bush, the House gave final approval Saturday to changes in a terrorism surveillance program, despite serious objections from many Democrats about the scope of the executive branch’s new eavesdropping power."

Pressure from President Bush eh? Yes. He does have an approval rating of 29% or so. My guess is the "serious objections" from many Democrats are really just a way to quiet their base. Some two party system we have.

Friday, August 03, 2007

STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



please
Democrat Feinstein Supports Judicial Nominee Who Rules For Racists Against Gays

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of Bush's latest nominee to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this week calling Leslie Southwick "a good person."

From People for the American Way: In 1998, Southwick joined a ruling in an employment case that upheld the reinstatement, without any punishment whatsoever, of a white state employee who was fired for calling an African American co-worker a “good ole nigger.” The court’s decision effectively ratified a hearing officer’s opinion that the slur was only “somewhat derogatory” and “was in effect calling the individual a ‘teacher’s pet.’” The Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision.

In 2001, Southwick joined a ruling that upheld a chancellor’s decision to take an eight-year-old girl away from her mother and award custody to the father, who had never married the mother, largely because the mother was living with another woman in a “lesbian home.” Southwick went even further by joining a gratuitously anti-gay concurrence which extolled Mississippi’s right under “the principles of Federalism” to treat “homosexual persons” as second-class citizens. The concurrence suggested that sexual orientation is a choice and stated that an adult is not “relieved of the consequences of his or her choice” – e.g. losing custody of one’s child.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Feinstein Delights Right-Wing Nuts by Calling for Release of Trigger-Happy Border Patrol Agents

There are now over 2 million people in American prisons, many more in other detention facilities, on parole or probation. There is no doubt that thousands are completely innocent, and certainly a million or more have received unfair treatment in a criminal justice system that punishes the poor and people of color well out of proportion to our population. Texas is about to execute a man that officials admit did not kill anyone. Yet our Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein, has chosen to use her powers to call on the release of two border patrol agents who fired upon an unarmed person who was fleeing from them. She truly is a brave and principled woman. Oh wait, I meant despicable and evil.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Gay Hot Movies

Somehow - it was in my office so I assume it has something to do with the FBI or at least the Justice Department - I came across a prepaid or promotional card that entitles me to 30 Free Minutes at GayHotMovies.com. The purple card advertises: "ONLINE ADULT MOVIES ... OVER 7,500 TITLES ... NO MEMBERSHIPS ... NO MONTHLY FEES."

Doug, a satisfied customer, is quoted: "[GayHotMovies.com] deliver[s] a quality product that has revolutionized my expenditures. I don't buy DVD's and don't go to rental stores anymore. I just watch the movies I like when and where I want to! (sic)" Revolutionized your expenditures Doug? Can "revolution" and "expenditure" really be used in the same sentence by anyone besides the most intellectually isolated, obsessive-compulsive consumer? Granted GayHotMovies.com may have altered how you spend your money on gay hot movies, but utilizing the word "revolution" coupled with your excitement, as indicated by the exclamation point, seems excessive and out of place. One wonders if you were reaching climax as you wrote your letter or made your statement to the good folks at GayHotMovies.com.

But perhaps Doug is not a real person at all, or if he is, perhaps he is employed by GayHotMovies.com. I wouldn't doubt it since whoever wrote the copy for this plastic card clearly had an agenda as evidenced by the "Frequently Asked Questions" printed on the back. Though including this information on the card, as opposed to simply on the website or not at all, initially seems like an attempt to be helpful. A closer look raises doubts. Question number 2: "Why is GayHotMovies.com So Popular?" Perhaps they meant the most frequently asked questions at the GayHotMovies.com brainstorming session on "How to Get Gay Men Excited About Our Site," because I can't imagine any other situation in which anyone would even utter such a question (except maybe reading or acting). At any rate the answer they were kind enough to provide was "We are popular because we are The Best Choice!" There's that exclamation point again.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Morrissey on Madonna: "I wouldn't be surprised if she made that African boy into a coat and wore him"

He said this because of his support for animal rights and Madonna's fur wearing habit. I am a life-long fan (I had the lyrics to all his songs tattooed on neighborhood kittens), and I am no defender of Madonna, but my problem with this statement and some of what I hear from the animal rights folks is the equating of human beings with animals. I support animal rights because they are living creatures, many clearly feel pain, and they are completely without guilt. But when the life of an animal comes up against the life of a human (all other things being equal), the human life is far more important. And even the senseless slaughter of animals for coats is cruel but not an important enough issue when human beings are starving in the street and being cut into pieces by cluster bombs. Then there is the consumption of meat - I do it, and I sometimes feel guilty. But mostly because I think it's bad for you. Meat is murder? A great album, but certainly not a true statement.

I'm not sure Morrissey meant to equate the lives of the animals killed for Madonna's coat with her adopted son's life - he probably just meant that someone that would have that much disregard for suffering generally is probably just as heartless when it comes to human life. I'm not sure if that's true, but I do think Madonna is pretty pitiful.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Monday, July 02, 2007

Millions of Palestinians Being Squeezed by Walls and Settlements

When some Americans and Israelis ask why Hamas and other Palestinians are so militant and even violent when Israel has been so generous, they should look at what Abbas and Fatah are left with in the West Bank.



According to the Financial Times: "A network of roads designed to ease the movement of Jewish settlers limits access between Palestinian enclaves. A secondary network being built would allow Palestinian limited movement via tunnels, bridges and trenches."

This is nuts. Two nations cannot coexist like this.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

EVIL TERRORISTS CAPTURED BY BRAVE AMERICANS (many U.S. soldiers killed)

Ever notice how every time there is news about, say, more than 5 American soldiers being killed in Iraq in, say, 24 to 48 hour periods of time, "the military" (as this msnbc story quotes without being more specific and as if anything from the Pentagon or commanders in the field should be believed) immediately follows this bad news with claims that they captured or killed al-Qaida militants? Their propoganda office must be working overtime.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Borders as Big Scary Business: USA and Mexico, Israel and Palestine

Naomi Klein presents frightening and well-researched information about Israel's economic success as a leader and innovator of "disaster capitalism" in this article published on common dreams: Gaza: Not Just a Prison, a Laboratory.

Klein writes about Thomas Friedman's ridiculous theories and the way Israel has prospered in recent years selling Homeland Security technology to the West. She then talks about how many of the Israeli innovators will be showing off their gadgets at the Paris Air Show this month, and in doing so she demonstrates a connection between the militarized border of an illegally expanding Israel with Palestine (image right) and the border of the USA with Mexico (image left):

"Another star of the Paris Air Show will be Israeli defense giant Elbit, which plans to showcase its Hermes 450 and 900 unmanned air vehicles. As recently as May, according to press reports, Israel used the drones on bombing missions in Gaza. Once tested in the territories, they are exported abroad: the Hermes has already been used at the Arizona-Mexico border; Cogito1002 terminals are being auditioned at an unnamed US airport; and Elbit, one of the companies behind Israel’s 'security barrier,' has partnered with Boeing to construct the Department of Homeland Security’s $2.5 billion 'virtual' border fence around the United States."

Fear and racism is big, scary business.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Pentagon Supports the Senate Immigration Bill, So Why Should We?

"A senior defense official expressed hope today that a provision in the stalled immigration bill that would have allowed some undocumented aliens to join the military won’t fall off the radar screen," according to this article from American Forces Press Service.

"Certain non-citizens have been eligible to enlist in the military since the Revolutionary War. Today, about 35,000 non-citizens serve in the military, and about 8,000 permanent resident aliens enlist every year, said Marine Maj. Stuart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman."

For all those progressives who are confused about where they stand on the immigration bill because they keep hearing that the most reactionary Republicans and independents are strongly opposed to the bill, this should be another red flag: the Pentagon wants the bill to pass. Add that to the other red flags: Bush wants the bill to pass - a president who has never supported any major proposal that was good for the average American; a handful of elite, pro-big-business Democrats want the bill to pass; organizations like LULAC and the NLG want the bill to fail; the AFL-CIO opposes the bill; etc. etc.

Of course the reactionary, xenophobic, anti-immigrant crowd opposes the bill. They won't be happy with anything that doesn't round up millions of immigrants and deport them to the other side of a 10 foot thick wall with snipers posted every 15 feet. They lost their Sensenbrenner bill last year, but they aren't going to keep quiet. Still they are a minority (admittedly a vocal and powerful minority with right-wing radio, cable news pundits and a few Republicans in Congress on their side). But the rest of us, particularly pro-immigrant activists, shouldn't feel like our starting point has to be a compromise with these bigots.

As a matter of principle, progressives should oppose this bill and clearly state their reasons to counter the radical right. A strong principled stand for amnesty that doesn't obsess over the details of Senate amendments or the latest Fox/CNN/MSNBC talking points can only pull the debate in our direction and further undermine the nativist movement.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Immigration Bill Fallout

Was the Senate compromise bill on immigration really a struggle between the reactionary anti-immigration "hardliners" and the more moderate, bipartisan, "pragmatic" center? That is how Joshua Holland seems to paint the picture at alternet.org. Indeed judging from the angry mobs attacking Latino bystanders in Hazleton Pennsylvania, perhaps he has a point. But David Bacon has, I think, a better analysis on truthout.org called Who Killed the Immigration Bill, and Who Wants It to Come Back?:

"Meanwhile, legalization proposals in the same tradeoff bills were presented as the payoff for immigrant communities. Yet, many of the legalization schemes threatened to disqualify immigrants guilty of document fraud. ICE now says this includes anyone who's given a false SS number to get a job, something almost all undocumented workers have done. Other proposals would have imposed employment requirements, imposed high fines difficult for most working families to pay, and required people to take an undetermined amount of time off work to return to their home countries to apply for readmittance, with no guarantee they could pass a host of bureaucratic checks. Most proposals would have had people wait at least a decade before they could get a green card for permanent legal residence (not citizenship). Legalization programs wouldn't even take effect until the US gained 'operational control' of the border, leaving the door open for years of increased enforcement with no change at all in the status of the undocumented ...

The beltway lobbying strategy started by asking what employers and a Republican administration would be willing to accept. Groups like the [National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON)], however, proposed building a popular movement to change the political terrain in Washington, like the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Responding to lobbyists who called the Senate bill the only chance to reform immigration law for years, NDLON said 'We know the struggle for justice and immigration reform requires a long view of history, and we will not be pressured into accepting an insufficient compromise simply for sake of political expediency. We owe it to this and future generations to pass a bill that we can all be proud of.'"

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Bill is Buried

Maybe not, but the Senate compromise bill on immigration is at least on its death bed. Either way I think this is a positive development, though not necessarily something to celebrate. We will have to wait and see what happens next - to some extent in Washington, but to a greater extent on the street. We have to continue to fight for real amnesty and change the terms of the debate, the way millions marching on May 1st did in 2006.

One news story described the bill's failure as a "failure of leadership": "Public opinion suggests an electorate open to, but by no means wildly enthusiastic about, comprehensive change that provides the 12 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, but only if there is an effective border security plan in place," wrote the Washington Post's Dan Balz. "Republicans are clearly divided, but perhaps not as the heated rhetoric of the campaign trail suggests. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that, on the question of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, the public narrowly approves: 52 percent to 44 percent. Democrats back such a plan 57 percent to 38 percent and independents 51 to 45 percent. Republicans are opposed, 53 to 43 percent -- significant but not overwhelming."

My problem with this story is that it identifies the dividing issue on this bill as the "path to citizenship" - some people support it while others do not. It looks at the polls and implies that Republicans have the big hurdle of convincing their people (a majority of whom are opposed to providing a path to citizenship). However, that presumes that the bill offered a realistic path, or even the one that most people polled envisioned. It did not. The people pushing this presumption were the most reactionary on the right (as opposed to say big business), who declared without shame that this bill was "amnesty" and longed for the defeated Sensenbrenner legislation of 2006. Most of their counterparts on the left saw the bill for what it was - a bill created to help big business, that then moved into the realm of Washington politics, opening itself up to the racism and bigotry of the right-wing Republicans in Congress and their friends at Fox and CNN (while Democrats sat on their hands, joined the right-wingers, or tried to keep pro-immigrant activists quiet).

This just proves how easily swayed both Republicans, Democrats, and the corporate media are by the right-wing, and how hard it is to move them from an equally large (if not larger) left-wing. This story didn't mention the CBS/NYTimes poll last month that found (according to the NYTimes), "A plurality of 48 percent in the poll favored imposing some controls on immigration. But large minorities on either side disagreed, with a quarter of respondents saying the United States should open its borders to all immigrants and a quarter saying that the borders should be completely closed. These polarized positions may help explain the bitterness of the immigration debate across the nation." True, but who knew a quarter of Americans want the borders open to all immigrants. Who in Congress represents that 1 in 4? What political pundit has expressed that view?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bury the Bill

P6020068.JPGThe immigration "compromise" bill that is. This was the message delivered directly to the multi-million dollar mansion of Senator Dianne Feinstein this foggy, cold Saturday morning in San Francisco. To the surprise of the immigrant rights activists who showed up, Feinstein herself came out to meet them. Originally her husband came out saying Dianne was still sleeping. But the assembled activists wanted to send their message directly to the Senator, and eventually (to her credit) she did come out.

But her message was unyielding. She insisted the activists on her doorstep must not understand the bill or have the wrong facts. This bill does provide a path to citizenship and the raids will stop as soon as the bill is law, she insisted. She reminded us that she represented all of California, not just San Francisco, and that most of her letters and calls about the bill have been from the "right wing."

Fine Senator - this Saturday you are hearing from the left wing then. We don't always send letters; sometimes we just show up at your door. And we aren't as ignorant as the right-wingers.

We know that the "path" to citizenship is more like a steep trail, full of land mines, brick walls, and other obstacles and hazards. Assuming all the conditions are met - including further militarization and fortification of the border - and you have a completely clean record and several thousand dollars; and assuming you can return to your home country and wait for months if not years; you may be granted citizenship. Meanwhile more detention center will be built (your welcome again Halliburton), more fence, censors, cameras, etc. will be added to our border, and more border patrol agents will be hired. Meanwhile a guest worker program will bring in just enough workers to satisfy corporate America - but those folks can't really stay. We just need them to come, work, help build this country and our economy, and then we want them to leave.

And there is NO guarantee that the raids will stop. The vast majority of immigrants without documentation will not utilize the new process because they won't be able to afford it and will probably be unwilling to do it (it is ridiculous after all). So Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers can still go after these folks, and since the new bill increases employer sanctions - they will still have plenty of workplaces to raid.

Senator Feinstein said it was hard for her to believe that anyone could describe living in San Francisco as living in a "police state." Certainly not in her Pac Heights paradise, but the immigration raids have gone on all over the Bay Area. As she returned to her mansion, you could see some of her hired help inside. It would be so much easier to keep her place clean if she could just get that Z Visa thing passed.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Alberto Gonzales = Huge Disaster

At least that's what I told the Washington Post: "My sense is there is more cynicism about both these organizations, particularly among activists," [Villarreal] said. "My sense is that it's been a huge disaster having him there, for many reasons."

The article was about how many "Hispanic" groups are reconsidering their support for Alberto Gonzales - particularly LULAC and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) who supported him vigorously throughout his nomination process. These organizations now say their support was a mistake or that he simply hasn't done the job they had hoped he would. However, these groups still refuse to admit that he was a disaster well before he was ever attorney general or even nominated.

Back in 2004 I wrote: "[Gonzales'] legal leadership has either directly or indirectly led to the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib, the illegal detentions at Guantanamo Bay, and the worst abuses of the Patriot Act. He authored a memo that could have come out of a decades old fascist regime, arguing that the President may authorize torture under certain circumstances, up to and including the death of the victim. His older opinions for then Governor George W. Bush allowed for executions of a number of inmates in Texas who had not received due process, where there was evidence of innocence, and, in at least one case, where the inmate was mentally retarded. The victims of these policies have disproportionately been people of color, and people with few resources."

Give a guy like that more power and it shouldn't be a surprise that he'd use that power as maliciously and irresponsibly as Gonzales has.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Quarter of Americans Want to Open the Borders to All Immigrants

According to a New York Times/CBS News Poll. The poll was mostly disappointing from an immigrant rights standpoints with the press using the result to promote the horrible compromise Senate bill on immigration.

Most disappointing to me was this: "Seventy percent of those polled said recent illegal immigrants tend to weaken the United States economy by using public services without paying corresponding taxes." Of course this is not supported by evidence, but the right-wingers have made that lie stick somehow.

Most encouraging was this: "a quarter of respondents saying the United States should open its borders to all immigrants." That's a sizable base to work with for all those trying to organize the immigrant rights movement and fight off the Minutemen. What's most incredible about this statistic is that I doubt a single representative in Washington would agree.

Monday, May 21, 2007

More on the Alleged "Islamic Terrorists" Planning an Attack on Fort Dix

See my original post here.

Nicole Colson adds: "The media's reports on the arrests immediately deemed the six as 'Muslim fanatics' and 'Jersey jihadists.' But some of the men were known to be not particularly religious. In fact, according to the New York Times, investigators have quietly admitted that 'there is little indication that they were devout--or even practicing--Muslims.'"

She also talks about how one of the defendants actually called police at one point to report possible terrorist activity by one of the Feds' paid informants.

Then there is this about a study conducted by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: "In all, the study found that in nearly 6,500 cases treated as 'terrorism' investigations by the Justice Department since September 11, only about one in five defendants have been convicted. And the average sentence for those convicted in 'international terrorism' cases was just 20 to 28 days, and many received no jail time at all, the study found. The reason: Many of these cases involve lesser charges like immigration violations or fraud."

Again, this is all particularly alarming since the government (and the corporate media) seems to be treating the more obviously terroristic activity of the Alabama Free Militia quite differently. The militia members actually had a stockpile of weapons and explosives and informants weren't necessary to encourage their plot to massacre Mexicans.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Israeli Thugs Destroy Palestinian Orchard for Illegal Settlement Sewer Pipe

Read the story here.

See photos here.

Watch the video.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Supporters of Israeli Apartheid and Occupation Lay It On Thick

Couldn't they come up with one more piece of propoganda to squeeze on this billboard?

This is an ad in response to ads that have been installed in Washington DC for the June 10-11 mobilization to protest 40 years of Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Apparently there are two different counter-ad campaigns.

This particular ad is racist and horribly misleading.

1. Where did they get this photograph? How does it compare to the kids in the U.S. who dress up like Rambo for Halloween? O.K. I'm getting old, but I know there is some similar, more modern, American hero that likes to slaughter "bad guys" with automatic weapons that American and possibly Israeli children emulate. I mean, who taught our soldiers to torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib? Who taught Israeli soldiers how to humiliate women and children at checkpoints?

2. Does this child really know what he wants to be when he grows up? In fact because of the Israeli occupation and policies in the Middle East, the hopes and dreams of Palestinian children are very limited. This is the same kind of racist nonsense that claims African American children want to grow up to become drug dealers - and it's all because of their flawed culture (or worse).

3. There is little proof that six-year-olds in Palestine are raised to dream of suicide, etc. What seems to make more sense is that decades of humiliation, apartheid and war might drive people to acts of desperation. Perhaps if Palestinians had the billions of dollars in aid from the U.S. that Israel does they would fight the occupation in more civilized ways - with cluster bombs.

4. They DO NOT target Israel because it shares America's values - unless you count the militaristic, racist and imperialist values of our politicians and their peers at the Pentagon. All of the Americans I know who have visited Palestine have been treated with greater respect and hospitality than they are used to. Palestinians target Israel because they long for freedom, not because they hate it.

5. Israel struggles, but only to win its own war OF terror. It kicked people off their land and continues to wage war against the Palestinians and its other neighbors. It humiliates and murders Palestinians and acts like a victim when anyone dares to fight back. Americans will be safer when we stop supporting the Israeli regime and when we recognize that Palestinians deserve compensation for Israeli war crimes, and the same dignity and freedom that Israelis enjoy.

6. "Israel the frontline of the free world." Nice. How much did that slogan cost? I can see the Fox News graphic already.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lou Dobbs Spreading Unfounded Fear Of Immigrants

AlterNet is reporting on Dobbs' false claims about leprosy. They go into detail about how wrong the numbers are - his lie of 7,000 in the last 3 years versus the verifiable 7,000 in the last 30 years. But they don't go into how he takes this one greatly distorted fact and uses it to vilify immigrants and frighten the public. From the May 7 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight (transcript from Alternet): "It's remarkable that this -- whatever, confusion or confoundment over 7,000 cases. They actually keep a registry of cases of leprosy. And the fact that it rose was because of -- one assumes because we don't know for sure -- but two basic influences: unscreened illegal immigrants coming into this country primarily from South Asia, and the -- secondly, far better reporting."

We don't know for sure, but go ahead and report it Lou.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Terrorists Versus Militia Members: Two Planned Machine-Gun Attacks Foiled in Two Weeks

Here are some media accounts of the 6 men charged with plotting to attack Fort Dix and "kill as many soldiers as possible" ...

FBI Agent Jody P. Weis: "Today we dodged a bullet ... What we witnessed here was a brand new form of terrorism."

Federal Prosecutors: "Islamic militants"

Associated Press: "White House spokesman Tony Snow said there is 'no direct evidence' that the men arrested in the Fort Dix plot have ties to international terrorism."

Washington Post: "Six foreign-born men inspired by Islamic radicalism were in the final stages of preparations to attack a military post in New Jersey when federal agents made a series of arrests last night and disrupted their plot, federal officials said today."


Compare to information on a different set of six men arrested less than two weeks earlier ...

Associated Press: "Five members of a self-styled militia were denied bail Tuesday after a federal agent testified they planned a machine gun attack on Mexicans, but a judge approved bail for a sixth man."

Birmingham News: "Simultaneous raids carried out in four Alabama counties Thursday turned up truckloads of explosives and weapons, including 130 grenades, an improvised rocket launcher and 2,500 rounds of ammunition belonging to the small, but mightily armed, Alabama Free Militia."

ATF Agent: "We classify these groups as violent and anti-government ... Any time you have a self-appointed colonel or a self-appointed major and they've got weapons and explosives, it is a recipe for tragedy."

Federal Prosecutors: "They just have a beef with the government, and they stockpile munitions."


Some questions:

Why all the discussion of terrorism in relation to the alleged Fort Dix plot, but not the other? In fact it was hard to find the word "terrorist" or "terrorism" used in any articles about the Alabama militia.

Why was there no talk about religion in the stories about the Alabama militia plot? Perhaps they never discussed Christianity during their militia meetings or in any Fed-monitored conversations, but we just don't know. I'm willing to bet some or all of those arrested from the Alabama militia were Christians.
Ruben Navarette Lectures Immigrants About The Gift of Living and Working in the United States, Calls Those Who Call for Amnesty "Jerks"

His article can be found here: The Arrogance of the Legalization Movement

So I sent him an email ... From your column on arrogance:

One man in Los Angeles told television reporters that he demanded a "general amnesty without conditions just like in 1986.'' And forget that business about requiring people to leave the country and reapply to enter legally. No way was he going to do that, he said.

What a jerk. Here he is getting a gift and he wants it wrapped with a bow. Heaven forbid, he'd have to lift a finger.


Since when is the freedom to live where one chooses, or to work where one chooses, or to simply find work when there is no other choice a gift? You admit that immigrants are contributing to our nation yet at the same time you claim their simple act of living here without jumping through all the (often arbitrary) hoops a bunch of politicians in Washington create for them is a gift. You are the jerk and the arrogant one for utilizing your privileged status and great power as a columnist and commentator to call hard-working human beings, who have relatively little power, names for simply living and working.

--
Carlos Villarreal

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

How "Law and Order" Covers for Bigotry in the Immigration Debate

Central to the debate on immigration has been the appeal to law and order. But behind all the propaganda about respect for the law the core of the anti-immigration movement is about bigotry. Not surprisingly, the laws they appeal to are, in word and practice, unjust and barbaric.

We have heard that we should make a distinction between immigrants on the one hand and illegal aliens on the other. This is a way for the anti-immigration lobby to claim they are not racist or even xenophobic. They simply believe in obeying the law. But forget about the law for a moment. There is no reason why the millions of people who have moved here from Latin America in the last twenty years should be deported or criminalized. No one is being harmed by their presence, and there is strong evidence that we are all benefiting from this influx. So why is it so important to enforce these laws? After all, people violate genuinely serious laws all the time--citizens even. Driving while intoxicated, insider trading, corporate fraud, violating clean air laws are all much bigger problems. So why focus on immigration unless out of ignorance or hate? The truth is, just as with the the bigots of the past who disguised their hatred with the rhetoric of "law and order" when the law was apartheid in South Africa or "black codes" in the American South, the core of the anti-immigration movement today is about hate.

We can see this clearly with the conduct of the raids that have swept up thousands of people across the country in recent months ...

READ MORE

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dry Drunk Emperor
by TV on the Radio

baby boy
dieing under hot desert sun,
watch your colours run.

did you believe the lie they told you,
that christ would lead the way
and in a matter of days
hand us victory?

did you buy the bull they sold you,
that the bullets and the bombs
and all the strong arms
would bring home security?

all eyes upon
dry drunk emperor
gold cross cross jock skull and bones
mocking smile,
he's been
standing naked for a while!
get him gone, get him gone, get him gone!!
and bring all the thieves to trial.

end their promise
end their dream
watch it turn to steam
rising to the nose of some cross legged god
gog of magog
end times sort of thing.
oh unmentionable disgrace
shield the childrens faces
as all the monied apes
display unimaginably poor taste
in a scramble for mastery.

atta' boy get em with your gun
till mr. mega ton
tells us when we've won
or
what we're gonna leave undone.

all eyes upon
dry drunk emperor
gold cross jock skull and bones
mocking smile,
he's been
naked for a while.
get him gone, get him gone, get him gone!!!
and bring all his thieves to trial.

what if all the fathers and the sons
went marching with their guns
drawn on washington.
that would seal the deal,
show if it was real,
this supposed freedom.

what if all the bleeding hearts
took it on themselves
to make a brand new start.
organs pumpin on their sleeves,
paint murals on the white house
feed the leaders L.S.D
grab your fife and drum,
grab yor gold baton
and let's meet on the lawn,
shut down this hypocrisy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

IMMIGRATION CRISIS! The public isn't buying it.

"A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken last weekend found that 78% of respondents feel people now in the country illegally should be given a chance at citizenship.

Meanwhile we have these crazy people who are suing police departments because they want to force law enforcement to report certain people to federal officials if they are suspicious about their immigration status. Police contend (with a lot of pressure from community groups) that by focusing on immigration status they create mistrust among immigrants and people might be less willing to report crimes, such as say spousal abuse, hate crimes, etc. The crazy people are really just xenophobic bigots and nutty nationalists. No seriously, these people are nuts. The attorney bringing this case in San Jose has two plaintiffs, one is Carol Joya who, according to this website testified before the House Immigration Subcommittee in June 1999 about how her son (the website notes her son is "a black kid") was attacked in high school by a gang of immigrants and was forced to go into hiding outside of the area for several months (somehow this is relevant to immigration policy; if it is true at all; if it is she likely has an axe to grind). His other client is Roberta Allen pictured here ...

Friday, April 20, 2007

War is for the Rich

Yes the world is very complicated and there are many factors to consider when analyzing America's foreign policy, but some very general statements are just plain true: war is for the rich (and America's foreign policy is generally beneficial to the very rich and corporate interests - most of the rest of us just pay for it (sometimes with our lives)).

Case in point, while the U.S. is trying to squeeze Iran economically (allegedly because of its nuclear ambitions, but really because of Israeli and American desires for domination in the region) they continue to allow the import of caviar and carpets from Iran; at least until the party celebrating the completion of the extension to the Kennebunkport estate of course.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Californians Overwhelmingly Support Legalization

From the SF Chronicle:

"California voters increasingly oppose a federal plan for 700 more miles of border fence -- with just 37 percent favoring it this year, down from 47 percent last April, the Field Poll found. And just 53 percent of those polled voiced support the current policy of federal agents rounding up, detaining and deporting illegal immigrants.

Support among California voters for legalizing undocumented immigrants rose to 83 percent from 75 percent last April, while 67 percent of respondents backed a guest worker plan, up from 60 percent a year ago."

This is good news, though somewhat mixed. It says that "just" 53% support the ICE raids. I actually think this is pretty high when the details of the raids are actually considered and fully understood.

The best news, perhaps, is that Californians don't see immigration (legal or illegal) as an urgent problem or "crisis" despite all the sky falling rhetoric of the immigrant bashers: "Californians' sense that illegal immigration is an urgent problem has declined slightly compared to a similar survey last July, and residents of the Bay Area were the least concerned, the poll found."

Friday, April 06, 2007

Josh Wolf is Free

So this is kind of old news, but there is a good summary in the Bay Guardian this week. Here was my take on it:

I'm really glad Josh is out of prison and I hope he's enjoying his freedom! I wanted to share some thoughts I wrote out in response to a question from a friend and solicit more input from others. My friend asked whether this was the best possible outcome. I replied ...

It's hard to say. In some ways it is a victory, but there has been a split in Josh's supporters for awhile about whether he should publish his entire video online. For some this was the ideal solution because it single-handedly put information out to the public without directly giving it to the U.S. Attorneys, and there isn't anything on it that implicated anyone anyway. On the other hand, the point isn't whether there is anything important on the tape, the point is that if a journalist chooses to edit out certain portions of a tape for public dissemination, the Feds shouldn't have the power to compel that journalist to produce those materials, whether directly or indirectly.

Also, even if it doesn't appear that there is anything on the video that implicates anyone, that doesn't mean that the Feds won't use it to further their agenda of silencing dissent. For example, there may be someone on the video they are building a completely separate case against, involving an entirely different event or alleged conspiracy. Who knows. They used video of Osama Bin Laden to prosecute Lynne Stewart; they will do whatever they can to prosecute and go after political opponents.

The main victory here is that it wasn't easy for the U.S. Attorneys to get what they wanted (or at least some of what they wanted), and it certainly cost them a lot of time and money to get something that may or may not be helpful to them. Also Josh's case has raised a lot of issues for people that were not understood or discussed before his case, and may result in positive political change. Also, he's kind of a hero and perhaps his willingness to put his life on hold for so long and go to prison will inspire others to do the same in the future if, I mean when, the Justice Department goes after others.

Those are my thoughts right now. I think it is a partial victory, but I certainly don't fault Josh for anything. He did a lot more than most people, even most activists, would be willing to do. Our job now is to push for a federal shield law and continue to talk about what a waste of time and tax dollars this whole debacle has been.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Windowsill

by Arcade Fire
from Neon Bible

Don't wanna hear the noises on TV
Don't want the salesmen coming after me
Don't wanna live in my father's house no more
Don't want it faster, I don't want it free
Don't wanna show you what they done to me
Don't wanna live in my father's house no more
Don't wanna choose black or blue
Don't wanna see what they done to you
Don't wanna live in my father's house no more

Cause the tide is high
And it's rising still
And I don't wanna see it at my windowsill

Don't wanna give 'em my name and address
Don't wanna see what happens next
Don't wanna live in my father's house no more
Don't wanna live with my father's debt
You can't forgive what you can't forget
Don't wanna live in my father's house no more
Don't wanna fight in a holy war
Don't want the salesmen knocking at my door
I don't wanna live in America no more

Cause the tide is high
And it's rising still
And I don't wanna see it at my windowsill

MTV, what have you done to me?
Save my soul, set me free!
Set me free! What have you done to me?
I can't breathe! I can't see!
World War III, when are you coming for me?
Been kicking up sparks, we set the flames free
The windows are locked now so what'll it be?
A house on fire or a rising sea?

Why is the night so still?
Why did I take the pill?
Because I don't wanna see it at my windowsill

Don't wanna see it at my windowsill
Don't wanna see it at my windowsill
Don't wanna see it at my windowsill

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The War on Immigrants Putting Children in Prison

Check out this video about the facility in Hutto, Texas.



This is where the anti-immigrant movement is taking us. They are blaming people with relatively little power for just about every problem you can imagine, from job loss to crime to America's health care crisis. Meanwhile corporate America usually gets a free pass to bust unions, rob pensions, and charge hundreds of dollars for medicine while making record profits. Oh and then there are the billions of dollars going to that unecessary war in Iraq that could be used for health care and education, not to mention the tax cuts for the very wealthy that Bush wants to make permanent. Oh but immigrants are the problem. Right.

I've concluded that if you speak of immigration as a crisis in this country you must either be ignorant or evil.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Palestine International Bike Race

According to this Free Palestine blog: "The Race is the longest international sport event to protest against human rights violations, Israeli checkpoints, and restrictions on freedom of movement." But judging from this photo from joeskillet, the race itself had its own issues with Israeli checkpoints ...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Gonzales Should Go (actually he never should have been confirmed)

With all the buzz right now about Alberto Gonzales and the U.S. Attorney scandal, we should remember that he was selected by Bush after his infamous torture memo and his public support for the Patriot Act. While some Democrats made some noise about his nomination, as a whole the Senate Democrats did not filibuster. He was also strongly supported by mainstream Latino organizations - LULAC and NCLR - who attempted to excite their community about the prospect of a Latino at such a high level of U.S. government (see this post about the behind the scenes debate between the NLG and LULAC). In the end, Gonzales has served as a poor role model for our community and to the extent people connect him to the Latino population in the U.S., he's tainted all of us.

Oh yeah, but some of us could have predicted that ...

Published on Sunday, November 28, 2004 CommonDreams.org
The Gonzales Debate: Identity Politics Meets the Right Wing
by Carlos Villarreal

Right-wing identity politics has been an effective tool used by some Republicans to move this country to the right, and as a method, it is about to accomplish a tremendous victory in the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General and the support for Gonzales by mainstream Latino organizations. Sadly, the confirmation of the first Latino to hold such a high office will not be a triumph, but a major defeat for people of color in this country and throughout the world.

go to full common dreams post ...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Imagine ...

... this guy is an Iraqi patrolling the streets of New York or Omaha or Denver.



Would you join the insurgency?

(He's actually Pfc. John Boyles patrolling in Baghdad today according to CNN.)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Josh Wolf Letter

Here's the original article: Josh Wolf - blogger - has no press pass

Here's the text of the letter published in the Chronicle:

'Josh Wolf, journalist'

Editor -- As a gay man who lives and works in the Mission, I am offended that Debra J. Saunders would use Officer Peter Shield's sexual orientation as a way to excuse the plight of incarcerated journalist Josh Wolf ("Josh Wolf -- blogger -- has no press pass," Feb. 27).

The comparison in the last sentence to a hate crime is way off the mark.

The activists never put anyone in danger. The only truly dangerous action taken was by Shields and his partner.

Wolf is a journalist, who this year received the Journalist of the Year award from the Society of Professional Journalists. If he had captured a hate crime on video, there may be good reason for Wolf to hand over his tape. But that is simply not the case here, and the fact that Shields is gay has nothing to do with Wolf or the shameful and wasteful actions of the U.S. attorneys.


Here's the full text of the letter I sent:

As a gay man who lives and works in the Mission, I am offended that Saunders would use Officer Peter Shield's sexual orientation as a way to excuse the plight of incarcerated journalist Josh Wolf. The comparison in the last sentence to a hate crime is way off the mark, particularly since the injury to Shields was more likely an act of self defense or defense of another.

Although I don't necessarily agree with the tactics of every single person at the protest in question, the activists never put anyone in danger. The only truly dangerous action taken was by Shields and his partner who drove recklessly into a crowd of people and jumped out of their car chasing activists. Shields ran swinging his baton. Were any of the activists he was attacking gay? It clearly wouldn't matter to Saunders who wrote this piece not as a defender of gay rights, but as a defender of police.

Josh Wolf is a journalist, who this year received the Journalist of the Year award from the Society of Professional Journalists. If he had captured a hate crime on video – and the feds were actually interested in investigating such a crime, which is unlikely – there may be good reason for Wolf to hand over his tape; a court that utilized a balancing test weighing the rights of a free press against other interests might agree. But that is simply not the case here, and the fact that Shields is gay has nothing to do with Wolf or the shameful and wasteful actions of the U.S. Attorneys.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

No This Is Not News



CNN.com keeps putting this crap on their homepage. How is this important or newsworthy? O.K. if a lot of people are interested in it fine (I'm not by the way - I was still thinking that somehow radio shock jock Howard Stern was involved until yesterday). But people can turn to Entertainment Tonight or US Weekly or scroll down the CNN page to find entertainment/gossip stories.

If it isn't Anna Nicole then it's Britney. NOT NEWS! At least not when America is in the midst of a war, swiftly losing allies and helicopters. Not while our delusional political leaders are considering Iran the next military target. Global warming etc.

Is this stuff boring or depressing? Maybe. But it demands more attention from the corporate media because it actually affects our lives. Britney's shaved head might be interesting (not to me, but I do find many non-newsworthy things interesting), but it doesn't really affect anyone's life, except maybe hers, her children's, her ex, and her hair-stylist. Same with Anna Nicole. It's a family matter not a matter for national headlines.

Of course this gets into a much longer subject of how the corporate media makes news seem like passive info-tainment. Just a bunch of stuff happening that interests people - little difference between news and reality television - just comedy/drama/and horror that was never scripted. Meanwhile we can watch it like any other television show, but we're mostly powerless to do anything about it. It definitely makes the fluff news more appealing. Why watch a horror movie that might actually hurt you when you can watch a comedy or a drama that entertains and has nothing to do with you?

Friday, February 09, 2007