Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Are we free now? Can I put up my guns?

Of course not. As Tavis Smiley mentioned, "are we better off? Is this a great moment [the election of BO] for black america? Undoubtedly.

Are we free? No. We have a long way to go."

So i won't put away my guns, literal and otherwise. I'm old enough to have gone through enough socialist disappointment and liberal well-meaningness to know that the game is not played by the ones in the front-- it is played by those behind them and those, moreover, with MONEY OR MEDIA.

anyone wanna join me raising 10 million or so so that maybe the voice of the poor, unemployed, gay, lesbian, disabled, not-rich are heard? I dont' anticipate change until we change our heads and thoughts. To that effort, I suppose I will still stay in education, where I was once asked "God, why do we have to study this stuff and not our own writing?" The author, fellow travelers, was Sandra Cisneros.

Viva ignorancia!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The hiatus from hell and the post from hell

Nope.Nary a post in over a month, and I will tell you why, besides the obvious life is really busy line: I'm saddened, even depressed, at the state of the union and the state of my state. I came within a hair of leaving, and decided the job I have is worth more than leaving for a bit of uncertainty when I really need health insurance.

No hope for me-- but I'm not without expectation of more grandstanding BS everywhere on everything. No expectation of grand change. My belief in the corporate economy always finding a way to pull us out of economic doldrums is still strong because hey, they want to keep making money. Exxon for president. My search for a place in Iceland, Canada, or elsewhere really is picking up. My embarrassment of public discourse (what passes for it) is still quite powerful. I cannot watch or read news unless it's in an international paper now. Physically, I hurt and feel ill watching a mad scramble to keep the amorphous US on top of some amorphous world which is going to leave us behind as embarrassing relics of economic colonization, as the Brits got left behind earlier.

I suppose it is buttressing my understanding of how gain means more pain, not less. There is never enough for many Americans-- never, ever. There has to be one more car, CD, even the last word in debates of well-intentioned people who want to be right, to be secure, to not see how painfully intentions hurt when the ones you want to help can see in reality how very much MORE you seem to have. A fear of choices, of multiplicities, of being wrong, of having to DECIDE for ourselves and then react in interesting ways if threatened-- these fears are palpable and more dangerous all the time.

I fear something insidious in its own way, besides the gradual numbing of the critical mind-- I fear that the fear will make its way into the hearts of people who struggle to find a way through the middle of the mess, skirting every car wreck and human disaster, and that it will embitter them. Too many tears are shed in private, in anger, over the general numbing and fear shown by so many who we KNOW we could help if... if...

And the truth is, we don't really know how to do it, how to fix it, how to get right again. We might not even remember right. In the binary world we built, you would think it would be easy, but our binaries push against infinites and collapse and frighten the bejeezus out of us. We just know there has to be an US and a THEM, and they ain't WE and we certainly would NEVER be THEM! Onward Christian/Muslin/Israeli/Palestinian/Black/White/Brown/Straight/Gay soldiers, marching as to self-annihilation with only the ones with enough to hide out or move or have more soldiers left standing.

This is my world, this hell, and a life that I guess I never saw coming in a country I used to love so much it hurt, and I don't just mean during the Olympics.

Oh yeah. Enjoy those.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Attempt to ban "unamerican, anti western civilization" activities

PLEASE get this out there! An addendum to a homeland security bill could spell death to student groups organized by race (even if they're not exclusionary of members), and potentially for religious, LGBTQIA orga, etc in Arizona. We can carry guns in schools but not have an organization? I HATE THIS PLACE!!!!! AAAAQGGGHHHH!!!!!

Cliqa below to go to the site. I ordered some UFW buttons....


Help fight Ariz. bill to ban ethnic student groups like MEChA, Black Business Students Assoc.
Multiculturalism is a basic American concept. We value the beliefs, traditions, customs, arts, history and folklore of the diverse cultures reflected throughout our nation. All this is being put at risk in Arizona, where last week the Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to a routine homeland security bill, SB 1108 that would prohibit students at the state’s public universities and community colleges from organizing groups based on race (ie: groups such as MEChA, the Black Business Students Association, Native Americans United, etc.)

Please take action today. This bill could reach the Arizona House floor as early as this week.

According to newspaper reports, Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Scottsdale), a supporter of the measure called these campus organizations, "'self-defeating' and 'self-destructive' for students."

Self-defeating? Multiculturalism doesn’t limit students. It gives them pride in who they are and enhances their being fuller people by fostering the concept of America being the land of opportunity. As Cesar Chavez said, "Preservation of ones' culture doesn’t mean contempt for others'."

These student groups are like any other school club or fraternity. They bring students together so they can achieve academic success. They offer a place to meet, make friends and support one another. Their goal is to help students succeed. For example, the members of the University of Arizona's MEChA chapter visit high schools to encourage students to attend college. They hold events and fundraisers to spread the message that education is the key to success.

The bill goes one step further. It also would ban public schools or colleges from including race-based classes or school sponsored activities. Officially the language says it would ban any activity "deemed contradictory to the values of American democracy or Western civilization." However, the language is so broad, who knows what could be prohibited? Certainly Chicano studies, African-American studies & other ethnic studies programs would be put at risk.

Studies show that students who learn about their race and culture have a lower-drop out rate. In truth, if this bill passes it could cause a huge set back in our educational system.

Please take immediate action. If you live in Arizona, e-mail your representatives immediately as well as the Speaker of the House. If you live outside Arizona, please e-mail the Arizona Speaker of the House today and let him know the eyes of the nation are on Arizona.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Texas love for death row!

I follow the death row stuff in Texas with a bit of distance, but the finality of this inmate's quote got me thinking again about the DP and how it works versus what people THINK it does (deter crime):
"Nobody cares," he said bitterly. "It doesn't matter. Death is the best chance to get out of this place."

Watts said he'd be expecting an execution date, which would be a "real low blow."

"I don't put my trust in no judge," he said. "They make mistakes, just like we do. ... I don't believe the state of Texas has the right to murder anyone."

The other interesting one, albeit from a person weary of it all, is:
"They're all crooks," he said. "If you show me one honest one, I'll show you 10 that ain't. it's all a buddy system. And when you get hung up in it, there's not much you can do. They're hoping I'll keep my mouth shut and die, but since I'm about dead anyway, I won't shut up."

And herein is the story about something I think we all get hung up in:

Supreme Court ruling puts Texas inmates closer to execution

By MICHAEL GRACZYK Associated Press Writer
© 2008 The Associated Press

LIVINGSTON, Texas — The question for some condemned Texas inmates lately has not been if they would face execution, but how.

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that lethal injection is not unconstitutionally cruel answered the question of how, and it also brought execution dates considerably closer for prisoners in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.

"It's going to be real crazy," Kevin Watts, sentenced to die for the slayings of three people during a robbery at a San Antonio restaurant five years ago, said from a small visiting cage at the prison unit where the state's 360 condemned men are housed.

Watts, 26, is among dozens of inmates whose appeals have been exhausted since Sept. 25. That's when the high court decided to take up a challenge from Kentucky prisoners who contended the lethal injection procedure used in that state, similar to the one employed in Texas and other states, violated constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

The justices, in a 7-2 vote announced Wednesday, upheld the process, clearing the way for capital punishment to resume. In Texas, where 405 inmates have been put to death since 1982, that number could begin rising as early as a month from now.

Prisoners who had execution dates but whose punishments were stopped for additional reviews are eligible to die within 30 days. For inmates who will get their first dates, execution could be held in 90 days.

The Texas Attorney General's Office, which handles capital case appeals once they get into the federal courts, called the hiatus in executions since last fall "delayed justice for crime victims and their families." The office will "take the legal action necessary to bring closure to these victims," spokesman Jerry Strickland said.

"The way the courts are ruling, I lost all hope," said David Lewis, who was convicted of killing a Lufkin woman during a burglary 21 years ago.

Like Watts, Lewis in January had his case rejected by the Supreme Court, clearing the way for his likely death.

"Look at history," he said. "They'd just find something else. We all know it."

"I'm not concerned if they put a bullet between the eyes," added 70-year-old Jack Smith, the state's oldest condemned prisoner. "Dead is dead, no matter how you go about it."

Smith, on death row for some 31 years for a fatal shooting during a Houston robbery, said lethal injection would always provoke controversy and was merely the progression from other methods.

"You had the electric chair, hanging at the gallows, now this," he said. "They're always going to try to find another method."

Smith lost his appeal before the justices in February.

"I'll contest them any day of the week," said Smith, who maintains his innocence of the slaying where authorities said $90 was taken in the robbery. "The courts, the D.A., they can squash your case and sit on it hoping I'll die of old age."

That may not happen.

Harris County Assistant District Attorney Roe Wilson, who handles capital case appeals for the state's most active death penalty county, said Thursday that Smith is likely to among several Harris County inmates to get an execution date imminently.

One problem may be the volume of cases and coordinating them with the attorney general's office, she said.

"We're just going to have to get the dates and stagger them," she said.

Besides Smith, others are likely to include Derrick Sonnier, who was scheduled to die in February for the 1992 rape-slaying of an Humble woman. Sonnier won a reprieve because of the Kentucky case. Another is Jose Medellin, condemned for the rape-slayings of two Houston teenagers 15 years ago.

Medellin and Cesar Fierro were among seven Mexican-born inmates on Texas death row who last month lost their bids for appeal before the Supreme Court in a case where the justices said President Bush overstepped his authority trying to reopen their cases.

"If I die, this could be the best thing to happen to me," said Fierro, 51, convicted of the 1979 robbery-slaying of an El Paso taxi driver. He's been on death row more than 28 years but says he's innocent.

"Nobody cares," he said bitterly. "It doesn't matter. Death is the best chance to get out of this place."

Watts said he'd be expecting an execution date, which would be a "real low blow."

"I don't put my trust in no judge," he said. "They make mistakes, just like we do. ... I don't believe the state of Texas has the right to murder anyone."

Smith was equally critical of the justice system.

"They're all crooks," he said. "If you show me one honest one, I'll show you 10 that ain't. it's all a buddy system. And when you get hung up in it, there's not much you can do. They're hoping I'll keep my mouth shut and die, but since I'm about dead anyway, I won't shut up."

Smith, whose fellow inmates call him "Old Man," also said the ruling wasn't all bad news.

"I've been blessed in a way," he said, "I could have been out on the streets and been run over.

"I'm old. I'm ready."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dire straits in Tibet.. again

Tibetan monks

I post this not merely as a Buddhist with emotional ties (yes, the kind that keep us in samsara) to the land of snows and Buddhists struggling in Tibet, Burma, and elsewhere, but as a person quite concerned with the dangerous policy of allowing people who we owe scads of money to and who we are practically owned by (oil, cheap wal-mart items, you name it) to dictate bad rules. Please, please, please, let us be blessed with leaders who will not simply fall into pockets of our trade partners who oppress their own people! Chinese workers and people deserve the opportunity to enjoy life as we expect to do, and they too fall victim to policies they do not dictate. News and info is highly censored, so please, if you have a moment, spread the word about this.

For more history of this conflict, please go to:Tibet Govt in Exile or Int'l Campaign for Tibet or Int'l Tibet Support

Tibetan Government-in-Exile Says 19 More Shot Dead in New Protests
By VOA News
18 March 2008

Tibet's India-based government-in-exile says at least 99 people have been killed in unrest over the past week, including 19 Tibetans who were shot dead by security forces Tuesday in new protests in China's western Gansu province.

Witnesses in the Gansu county of Machu say police blocked off the streets after Buddhist monks and other Tibetans held a rally there. Witnesses tell VOA Tibetan service that they could confirm that at least 12 people were killed.

Chinese authorities have so far only confirmed the deaths of 13 people they described as "innocent civilians" who died in Friday's riots in the Tibetan capital Lhasa.

The reports Tuesday of new violence came as China again blamed Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for the unrest. The Dalai Lama pledged Tuesday to step down as the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile if the situation gets out of control.

The Dalai Lama said his commitment to non-violence would require him to step down.

Earlier Tuesday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao blamed the Dalai Lama and his followers for orchestrating violent protests in Tibet. Mr. Wen said rioters caused heavy loss of life and that the government acted with extreme restraint in putting down the protests.

From Lhasa, protests against Chinese rule have spread to other communities inside Tibet and other parts of China. Late Monday night, Tibetan students at the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing staged a candle-light vigil.

Details of recent events in Tibet are difficult to verify because Chinese authorities have not permitted foreign journalists to report from the region.

Chinese media Tuesday published more accounts of alleged violence carried out by Tibetan rioters Friday against Han Chinese and Chinese Muslims. Official media also carried reports criticizing Western press coverage of the events, and defended China's response to what the media called criminal activities.

China has controlled Tibet since 1951. The Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled from Tibet to India in 1959, during a failed revolt against Chinese rule. China denounces the Dalai Lama as a crusader for independence, but he says he has campaigned for nothing more than true autonomy for his homeland.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

Take the body quiz

i was much more involved in Women's History month when I lived places people gave a damn about things like that... but oh well. Here's to another year of free-for-alls on women who speak their pieces, violence against women, economic oppression, and overall heavy pressure for the gender, and may it all end for all soon!! Adelante, mis amigas!!

Here, y'all might enjoy this quiz. Hug your female friends!
Take the Body Image QuizTake me! Now!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Priorities...Mujeres de Juarez

Spitzer n sex.. VP possibilities... poor Bill Gates is no longer the richest boy alive... Lute Olson is coming back to Arizona...Spanish elections, water contamination, and all those things a person might blog about, but I have my priorities for this week, and I know it's "old news", but let's not forget it and let's blogosphere-it this day after Intl women's day:

from:Amigos de Mujeres site

Discriminatory treatment of the women of Justicia Para Nuestras Hijas in the Congress of the state of Chihuahua

In the second session of Congress on March 3, 2008, the mothers of the disappeared and victims of femicide, members of the organization Justicia Para Nuestras Hijas , with the aim of supporting the proposal that Deputy Victor Quintana was introducing for the creation of a Special Commission to Investigate the Femicides.

The action planned by the mothers was to present themselves at the official area to support this initiative but the security guards for the Congress tried to block their passage.

The intention was that the deputies (congress men and women) would see the real existence not only of the mothers of the victims but also of the problem of the lack of justice of the cases that they were representing with photos of the assassinated and disappeared women.

Recess was called for the session with the pretext that the mothers were creating “disorder”. This was totally false because those of us that were there saw that none of the women that intended to enter the congress ever spoke one word or behaved in a disorderly fashion.

The President of the Congress suspended the session. This was unequal treatment for women and the problems that they face. For example, the meeting before was concerning the case of the accounts of the city of Chihuahua . There was a large contingent of support for Mr. Blanco, with true disorder. In this case, the meeting was not suspended but the participants were granted their full rights under the Article 30, section 13 of the Organic Law of Legislative Power.

Over 400 known murders. Nary a public clue in sight. And the women keep going missing and being murdered.

Take a moment to check out some sites and help reinvigorate the work needed to be done on this issue in Juarez! Please?

Nuestras Hijas site is a good place to start, with good links.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Status queueing

Sharing words from xicanopwr...

"As we strive for reform, make no mistake — we will be confronted with an uphill battle against those determined to keep the status quo. It is important to watch for the dangerous distraction that will pop up between now and March 4. But we must never forget how we got into this situation. And we must never forget the change we need in society will come only through our direct efforts to move the country in a more progressive direction."

Having just watched "Walkout", I'm in a feisty mood, not made better by having to teach Ana Castillo's Massacre of the Dreamers among other books to a web class. what all three of these texts have in common is the exposure of the status quo and the horrifying need by those in power to maintain it. Castillo writes:

Hispanic is nothing more than a concession made by the US legislature when they saw they couldn't get rid of us. If we won't go away, why not at least Europeanize us, make us presentable guests at the dinner table, take away our feathers and rattles and civilize us once and for all... This erroneous but nationally accepted label invented by a white supremacist bureaucracy...is a resignation to allow, after more that 200 years of denial, some cultural representation of the conquistadors....Until now, in other words, only Anglo-Saxons were legitimate informants of American culture." (Castillo 28)

Hermano at xicanopwr writes "we will be confronted with an uphill battle against those determined to keep the status quo. It is important to watch for the dangerous distraction that will pop up between now and March 4."

And the sellout "Hispanic" cop in Walkout says "Nothing's gonna change. The schools aren't gonna change", to which the Chicanita says "No. But we've changed."

And, in my anger and disgust with Arizona's race and culture issues, and the US' race and culture issues, and our fear-ridden, blindly nationalistic society which is headed to a fearful place because our leaders cannot seem to be able to say "oh SHIT, we're are so fucked up now, and it will hurt to make it right and my GOD, who made all these people feel so entitled to everything so blindly?", in this anger I say "All right. Okay. Maybe we can't change every failing school kick out every racist leader, fix the INS and stabilized wages all at once-- but we can change US and our attitudes and expectations." We can grow and learn, from the Chicanitas, from the workers, from the brothers, from our history and from a sense that we are responsible for assuring our own and our future's survival and thriving.

Let's change. Then let's REALLY change the status quo.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to spot a conservative...:)

With huge thanks and tip of the virtual hat to Panhandle Truth Squad, Texas

How to spot a Conservative

Thursday, February 21, 2008
Quick visual identification of a Conservative...

Thanks for posting details about the upcoming Drinking Liberally meeting Spacedark. I'm looking forward to an evening of no stress relaxation out of the lion's den. I don't know about you guys but I enjoy spending time with a bunch of long haired unwashed hippie types. The very thought of communal discourse with like minded individuals got me to thinking about something though. Maybe Democrats are easy to identify. Our slouching, comfortably clothed bookishness does seem to stand out in a world full of belly overhanging splay kneed spitters. Just to let the Ivory Dome crowd in on a little secret though. They're pretty easy to identify at a glance as well.

American Conservatives are chronically unhappy about immigration, the notion that radical Islam represents the whole and not a miniscule fraction of the Muslim faith, the perception that taxes are just eating them alive, the fact that Al Gore scooped them on Global Warming, the general need to do violence to some other nation, sect, or race they dislike, etc... You name it, they hate it. This anger at everything other than upper class white America, combined with pent up sexual energy because they feel guilty whenever they even think about sex, translates into a scowling facial distortion some call Asterisk (first made famous by Kurt Vonnegut) Stress Syndrome or ASS. So the first ID mark of a Neocom...look for the scowl.

Side note: Neocon ASS may not be used as a synonym for the Democratic Party Symbol, the proud American Donkey.

But on to the second quick visual trait of a Republican.

If a Neocon isn't displaying his ASS(holiness) he has only one other mode of self expression. This state I like to call Condescending Orotund Noxiousness or CON. Notice the three letters match the first three letters in the word conservative. This state is marked by a pursed lip preachiness if they're talking, but can also manifest itself in the raised eyebrow, down the nose sighting facial distortion sometimes called the Church Lady stare.

ASS and CON, when filtered through public discourse, result in humorless myopic style of rhetoric used by all Republicans and embodied by their probable presidential candidate, John McCain.

BTW ASSCONS like to believe they are actually humble souls who have suffered greatly in service of the land they love. This false meekness might occasional manifest itself, generally on Sunday mornings only, in an grim humorless Hangdog Expression (HE)

So to sum up...

If HE looks like an ASS he must be a CON.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why you should never tell people your fears or favorites

--because they either will use them against you or decide that you really CAN argue taste.

What am I learning about the [historical] education of Americans? That, if at all possible, it is far worse than when I went to school. That little is being taught that might really matter in the future or in the here and now. That I should not VALUE education as much as I do sometimes... because it feels like Arizona just likes to bust balloons of optimism and it's painful to see your ideals go pop. It happened in Chicagoland too, but not to the extent it seems to here.

I have spent a good deal of time trying to explain why no one except the Mexicana/os and the bigots in the US know there was/is any "race" problem with a raza face. Why did I decide to teach college only to have to "explain" the very basic information of Chicana/o history and American history? I mean, as in "What do you mean, Mexicans were lynched?!"

And oh hell, let's forget about simple things like teaching Jane Austen or Twain or poe or something... *grumble*

I don't want your guilt. I want your present-day action and an honest assessment of who we are as a people in the US, or if not then the PEOPLES of the US. Smart and not so smart. And please don't ask me to explain Mexico and Mexicans to the non-Mexicans, and don't take my inability to be omniscient as proof positive that you were right in your nativist or ignorant assumptions.

No, this isn't aimed at any person in particular. But the more time I spend in this state (bless your heart, Tucson and Flag!), the more I realize I'm almost tapped out of activist energy. I hope they invent a pill soon so I can take it, but damn, what the fight takes out of you sometimes. But, as one of my students in Chicago once said, "I don't get it. What fight?"

Friday, February 01, 2008

The "Immigrant Ranger"- protest and activist songs

An interesting development in immigration debates... Check it out. Sorry if this has already been posted.

Immigrant Songs Offer New Twist on Old Sounds
By Taki Telonidis

Weekend Edition Sunday, September 16, 2007 - The phrase "protest song" often brings to mind a collage of faces from the past: Maybe it's Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and the civil-rights music of the 1960s, or perhaps Woody Guthrie and his songs from the Dust Bowl days. These balladeers defined their times, and their music was a reflection of the politics, economics and social upheavals of the day.

The debate over immigration rages everywhere, from the halls of Congress to Main Street to the lettuce fields in California. Naturally, it has spawned a new generation of folk songs that speak directly to those with the most at stake in the debate: immigrants themselves. And listeners needn't speak Spanish to get the message.

"Esta Tierra Es Tuya" is the title track from a new album by Sones de Mexico. Band member Juan Dies says that "This Land Is Your Land" kept playing over and over in his head during the demonstrations for immigrant rights of the past few years, so he did some research.

"Woody Guthrie wrote this song in 1940, at a time when migrant workers from the Great Plains were being displaced by drought and the Dust Bowl," Dies says. "They were traveling and looking for opportunities, for a chance to work and feed their families."

Many Mexican migrant workers of today can relate, so Dies decided to translate Guthrie's classic into Spanish, while adding a few lyrics of his own: "In the world there are people who are poor / In the world there are people who are rich / And then there are the others, the travelers / who are seeking an opportunity."

"A song sometimes helps you address something that possibly has no solution," Dies says. "Maybe someone has died, or there's a situation that has no escape. And a song becomes a way to possibly feel that you're not so alone, that other people feel like you do."

An Immigrant's Ballad

Dies has felt this power of music during his travels through the American West this summer. He has been wearing his other professional hat, that of a folklorist, surveying grassroots Mexican musicians in Idaho and Oregon for the Western Folklife Center. In the process, he found that immigration serves as a recurring theme in their ballads.

A corrido is a tragic ballad. Gerardo Sagrero and his band have written a new song called "Corrido de Mi Padre," and it's dedicated to Sagrero's father, who died 20 years ago, while he and his brother were trying to cross the border into the U.S.

"They crossed by the Rio Grande in Texas, and when my father was crossing, he was stepping on some stones and carrying two bags in his hands," Sagrero says. "He slipped, and he fell into the current and was swept away.

"When I was about 16 years old, I liked corridos very much, and I was listening to other stories about people who had problems, who'd died. And that's when I felt I wanted to write a song for my father. What this corrido does for me is it brings back his memory. It makes us remember him."

The new corridos are being embraced by — and in some cases, written by — a new generation of immigrants. Fourteen students and their families at Woodburn High School in Oregon take Dies' corrido-writing workshop. Students can compose songs about anything they want, and immigration emerges as a common theme.

True Tales of Sorrow

Corridos must be true, and they follow a specific structure that includes a headline, the introduction of characters and a moral. Student Tony Ramos wrote his corrido about his uncle, who died crossing the border.

Ramos was a toddler when his parents crossed the border. Now, he wants to become a teacher, so he can educate the next generations who come to America. Ramos pays close attention to the debate over illegal immigration.

"I would get angry at some of the things politicians say: 'Build a wall and keep them out.' But at the same time, I grew up here, and this country has given us a lot," Ramos says. "And it makes it hard to choose what side to be on."

Immigrant farmworkers themselves have written ballads that address the issue. Jose Garcia of Payette, Idaho, wrote one called "Embajadores," which expresses the hope that President Bush will take action to legalize undocumented workers.

Other immigrant farm workers are not as optimistic. Benigno Pedraza sings, "The doors of opportunity are closing in America, so I'm going back to Mexico."

Still others write songs to accompany their political activism. The Immigrant Ranger, as he calls himself, clenches his fist and closes his eyes as he begins a song. He wears a cowboy hat with more than 100 signatures from the people he met four years ago during the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride to Washington.

The Immigrant Ranger has written songs about stowaway Mexicans who suffocate to death in boxcars, and about the hardships of day laborers who freeze on street corners while they wait for work.

Guthrie once said, "If the fight gets hot, the songs get hotter. If the going gets tough, the songs get tougher." Immigrant Ranger vows to keep singing until things change, and he's working with students to translate his songs into English. He wants all Americans to hear his stories.

"I think that if Woody Guthrie were alive today and he heard what we were doing, he'd be very happy," Dies says.

Listen to Latinos Unidos HERE

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The race gets tighter...

Seems like Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards are dropping out of the 2008 race, after Fred Thompson and Dennis Kucinich (my man) did recently. I am betting that Bill Richardson will drop out soon as well. Of course, given how easy it is to get on the ballot in AZ, hell, maybe I'll run! I'd vote for me. I probably have more experience than Barack Obama...Name your poison: the Arizona Super Tuesday Ballot

Monday, January 07, 2008

The GOP Totem: AHHH!! Illegals!!!

I find it interesting, once again, that an international paper, in this case the Australian paper The Age, comments in a refreshingly straightforward style about US politics. I'm not claiming pure-heart journalism here, but take a look at this article from The Age, with parentheticals from your gormless blogger:

Illegal Hispanics make a great target for desperate Republicans

Tim Colebatch
January 8, 2008

The face of America has changed, and the right doesn't like it.

AN ODD thing about the US election campaign is that on one issue, the Republican race is like a contest between candidates to outdo each other in pledging to wreck the US economy.
Gee.. economy wrecking doesn't seem to be a purely partisan issue, but let's see what else goes on here...

The issue is immigration. The contest is not, as it would be here, who can attract most immigrants. It is over who would be most ruthless in deporting the 12 million immigrants who have entered the US illegally to get work.

It's the new totem issue for the Republican right, one that resonates among white Americans who feel, correctly, that their country is being quietly invaded by its southern neighbours, changing its racial mix, even changing its language. But it alarms Wall Street, which knows that if the illegal workers were deported, the economy would collapse.

The assessment of a silent invasion is I suppose metaphorically overblown but basically, there are a lot of people coming to facilitate a better life, and around SW Arizona, it's not just the white Americans who notice. Trenchantly, the economic importance of all the immigrant worker financial issues is staggering to the US economy. Even though funds from US-based family members is about third or so in the Mexican economy in terms of money brought in, the amount of money "saved" by Americans and American companies is staggering when immigrant labor is used, and indeed, there is a tidy sum of never-to-be-claimed social security benefits paid by immigrants who will never claim them.

I have spent the past month in the US, where I lived for much of the 1980s. The big change that hits a time traveller is the shift in the racial balance. Even in the '80s, the quiet invasion was sweeping through areas from Miami to Texas to Los Angeles, and percolating into northern cities. But now, it is something else.

Travel through Texas or California, and almost everyone you see working in menial jobs is Latino — in official parlance, Hispanic. You edge down crowded streets in the middle of Los Angeles where all the shop signs and conversations around you are in Spanish.

His assessment is accurate. I've traveled all over the country, and what menial labor is not "in official parlance, Hispanic" is poor young people of color, then young people, poor or not. It's not like the backbone of our country, menial labor which keeps all industries going, is exactly something an average white American, apparently, wants to do.

Even Chicago, far north, has more than a million Hispanic workers. Villagers from Mexico and Guatemala are working on farms in Idaho and Nebraska, in factories and transport networks in New York and the rust belt, and in everything in the rapidly growing south-west. Millions are illegal migrants, on whom the US economy depends.

One statistic sums it up.
The US Census Bureau estimates that between its 2000 census and mid-2006, the population grew by almost 18 million. More than 9 million of them, just over half, were of Latino origin.
The other half divided evenly between blacks, Asians and traditional whites.

In 1970, there were 10 million Latinos in a country of more than 200 million people. Within two years, there will be 50 million in a country of 300 million. By 2050, on official projections, there will be more than 100 million in a country of 400 million. It is becoming a very different America.

Most, of course, are there legally: they were born there, or arrived through legal channels. But millions simply walked in from Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande (which in reality is about as grande as Merri Creek), finding friends and relatives, then getting jobs where only rudimentary or no English is required.

I appreciate the writer not merrily joining in the fun of branding every brown face illegal.

George Bush understands this new America. He speaks Spanish, after a fashion, and has successfully courted Hispanic voters, and proposed reforms to legalise the status of illegal migrants. But the Republican rank and file are not comfortable with seeing their country change so rapidly, and most of its candidates are pandering to their fears.

The candidate who lit the fuse of deportation, congressman Tom Tancredo, has now quit the race, but only after the rest joined him in making it a crusade on which they could show the Republican faithful how tough they are.

See last year's blog of mine on this spineless immigrant-basher.

Mitt Romney, a one-time liberal Republican who now presents as a hard-right tough guy, wants to fence the border, deport all illegals, and require non-citizens to carry biometric identification cards. Mike Huckabee, a pragmatist when governor of Arkansas, now proposes hiring 23,000 more border patrol guards, and deporting illegals, then requiring them to apply formally.

Rudy Giuliani has a foot in both camps, adopting some of this, while proposing a path for illegals to regularise their status. Only John McCain, the Republican who panders least to the mob,
argues that while the border should be secured, it is unrealistic to try to deport 12 million people on whom the US depends to do the jobs that other Americans don't want.

What of the Democrats? They are all pragmatists. They all emphasise the path to legalisation, along with moves to tighten the border. And why not? Opinion polls show the Hispanic vote has shifted sharply to Democrats since the Republican crusade began.

But a New York Times survey of candidates' views shows immigration is just one of many issues on which there is a gulf between the two sides. On climate change, for example, every Democrat wants an emissions trading system and heavy investment in alternative energy research, with the goal of cutting US carbon emissions by at least 80% — yes, 80% — by 2050. On the Republican side, only McCain and Huckabee propose any real action.

All the Democrats want to close Guantanamo prison; Romney wants to double its size, and Giuliani says the criticisms are "grossly exaggerated". All the Democrats want to repeal the huge temporary tax cuts Bush delivered to the richest 1% of Americans; all the Republicans want to make them permanent. All the Democrats except Hillary Clinton want a speedy withdrawal from Iraq; all the Republicans except libertarian Ron Paul say the US must remain.

No doubt these differences will narrow once the candidates emerge and start focusing on the voters in the middle rather than those on their own side.

But with the tide now running against the Republicans, it is striking that, McCain aside, they are talking to their own, whereas Clinton and Barack Obama are both talking to America's vast middle ground.

Tim Colebatch was Washington correspondent for The Age from 1986 to 1989. He is now economics editor.

In the end, I think The Age has gotten much of the situation correct. It is so difficult in a normal year to not get caught up in shouting matches in AZ over immigration--election years, I already know from experience, are much worse. When I lived in Iowa, where there just ain't that many non-white people, it was only an issue in election years, when it managed to stir up the most reactionary of the normally sane and businesslike Iowans. In Illinois, people seemed politically to be very pragmatic about it-- look, we have a need, they have a need, who's going to be hurt? a 17-year-old burger flipper at McD's?

However, here in God's Condemned land, the hysteria fomented by nationalist jerks with bullhorns and a need to see themselves on TV makes it almost impossible to have a rational discussion of immigration issues. Indeed, I have had relatively decent discussions, and far be it from me to deny that the issue isn't at times very complex. But, it seems to me that if we cannot find a way to speak pragmatically and realistically about the changing face of the US--native brown and immigrant brown-- we condemn ourselves to life in an insular series of white-reservations states and multiethnic, multicultural world communities. Denial of the progressive change of the country, whether it would have been by Irish illegal immigrants of Mexican immigrants, is the surest way to a backward march.