Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Drought of Compassion

Disgusting. Utterly fucking reprehensible.
Someone vandalized two water stations set up by a humanitarian group that is trying to prevent deaths among illegal immigrants crossing the desert, a group volunteer said.

Two 55-gallon water tanks east of Naco were poked full of holes during the holiday weekend and thrown over a border fence into Mexico, said Humane Borders volunteer Marilyn Jones. The tanks’ spigots were stolen, as was the station’s 30-foot flagpole, which is topped with a blue flag to alert migrants to the location.

A flagpole at the second station was bent and the spigots were stolen from its two water tanks.

This has happened before, but it never ceases to make my blood boil hotter than the mercury in my patio thermometer. Rather than criminalize this type of murder, because that's what it is, the GOP-led state legislature is too busy working on ways to get their immigrant criminalization policies into the law books.
The bill would criminalize the presence of illegal immigrants in Arizona and provide $160 million to help authorities lessen the state's immigration woes.

It also would set fines for businesses that continue to employ illegal immigrants after receiving warnings, require local police agencies to train officers in enforcing immigration law and deny education benefits to immigrants.

Some Republican legislators have suggested they would try to put a similar measure on the ballot in November for voters to decide if the Democratic governor vetoed the bill.

Meanwhile, a statewide poll's results were released that is characterized as a "mixed bag". This particular section caught my attention.
Most notably, 92 percent of residents of Cochise, Santa Cruz, Pima and Yuma counties were in favor of laws to make it easier for workers to cross the border, compared with 73 percent statewide.

One potential reason for that, de Berge said, is that Southern Arizonans are more likely to be dealing with immigrants — legal and otherwise — on a regular basis, particularly in the labor market. "Familiarity in this case breeds sympathy," he said.
We obviously have to do a better job at advocating our support because I would bet the ranch that the assholes who poked the holes in the water tanks will receive more support than widespread condemnation.

Prove me wrong, America. Lives are at stake here.

Cheesecake Popsicle Open Thread

These should cool off my throat, which is on fire still

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Barbed-Wire and Backpacks On My Mind

Last month I wrote a diary outlining an ultimatum issued by the Minutemen to George regarding the construction of a wall along the southern U.S. border. They basically said that if national guard troops were not deployed by May 25th, that they would start building themselves.

Well, over the past weekend, that's exactly what they did.
At least 200 volunteers gathered Saturday morning on the Ladds' ranch as they marked Memorial Day weekend and the kickoff of their fence-building effort. Most of the morning was dedicated to speeches from politicians and Minuteman leaders and celebrating large donations the Minuteman group has been receiving.

Among the Minuteman volunteers who made their way to this remote ranch Saturday was Quetzal Doty of Sun Lakes, a retired U.S. diplomatic consular officer. Doty said he's convinced the Minutemen and most Americans aren't anti-immigrant.

"They're just anti-illegal," said Doty, who came with his wife, Sandy. "The Minutemen walk the extra mile to avoid being anti-immigrant and that's what we like about the organization and what got us interested."

"Walk the extra mile" - the irony behind that remark stirs something inside of me. It's the nagging impulse that keeps me up at night, the same prodding that sent me an hour south on Sunday night to go see for myself what I heard only as rumor earlier in the week.

Downtown Nogales, Sonora is closing down, building-by-building.

I don't have any links for proof, but can tell you that my own eyes that I saw a completely different city than the one I visited a couple of years ago. Calle Obregon, the main drag closest to the line is usually bustling with people shopping, cantina-hopping or just walking around to take in the world around them.

It was virtually empty.

I decided to sit down on a bench in one of the placitas for abit to quiet myself and contemplate what is happening between our countries. After about a half hour, I could hear a bunch of voices from behind the corner of the building that was nearby. It was an odd sound, as it served to shatter the darkness and silence of the city square.

One-by-one they came into sight. A line of men walking in procession, each carrying a backpack. They were getting ready to cross the desert.

I imagined what was in those backpacks. Surely water. Will it be enough? Surely food. Will it spoil in the triple-digit heat? Surely paperwork that identifies each person. Will it someday be met by the coroner's glove?

All of these questions swirl in my head as I watch with horror at politician posturing in Washington. The ones getting media attention are the likes of Rep. Steve King (R-IA) who attended the Minutemen groundbreaking ceremony and recently initiated the "English-only" chingaderas on Capitol Hill.

When are you gonna wake up, America, to the humanity that binds us all? When are you going to stop being divided for profit and personal gain? Where is the epiphany that barbed wire is no substitute to friendship?

I guess I'll have to keep waiting for answers and hope that those backpacks are filled with enough provisions to save the life of its owner.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Thoughts on Memorial Day

There is a picture that I found last January while moving that is one of the most cherished items in my possession. If a fire were to break out in my humble abode, it, along with my encased American flag would be on the short list of items to take with me as I run out the door.

The photograph was taken when I was in junior high and includes your truly standing in between my two grandfathers. They're both deceased now, but their memories and legacy flow strongly in my blood. The backdrop is the cemetery in my hometown and was snapped immediately following a service on Memorial Day at the veterans' plaza.

A smirk grows on my face when I see my adolescent-self dressed in my class A Boy Scout uniform, weilding the alto saxophone that I used to provide an echo during the playing of Taps at the commemoration. I can still remember the dampened eyes of the people gathered when those piercing notes carried in the air.

You see, I never realized how much military training I received in Scouts, or at least I had forgotten it, until a couple of weeks ago when I DJed an ROTC Military Ball for high school students. As I watched the color guards process in with the colors as well as perform rituals to hand over leadership to a new class of officers, I was struck by the familiarity of the movement, the language they used and just the all-around environment.

The past few years have been hard for Americans (to provide an understatement). I'm not sure if my international friends can know fully the dissonance that many of us are experiencing; especially as it relates to our military. Story upon story of atrocity has been met by disbelief from those of us who grew up either serving in the armed forces, or as children/grandchildren of veterans. There is a strict code of camaraderie that I think goes unspoken for the most part, it is what binds a unit together; it is that unbroken bond that will send them back into a warzone to make sure their straggling friend is not left behind or stops their hand from mistaking innocent bystanders for "the enemy".

The code also involves a sense of honor, echoed by the mantra of the Boy Scout Law: A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

While I understand those types of virtues are hard to swallow when they're being recieved at the end of a weapon in a warzone, its the inner-formation of a soldier/scout that I wish to highlight with this post. I never got a chance to talk to either of my tatas about the details of their military service and I deeply wish I would've gotten that opportunity. For now I will have to settle for the huge lump in my throat as I type these words; recalling the caring, loving men they were until they left this world.

This Memorial Day is going to be difficult for the American people, at least I feel it should be. The armed forces are being guided by bi-partisan leadership that has lost all semblance of personal responsibility and how it relates to the usage of force. I believe, and I find that I'm joined by a growing number of veterans, that the unspoken code of honor has been breached. It is resulting in widespread bloodshed and anguish in our world. I fear that the global system is going to get much uglier as it corrects itself and puts American imperialism and neo-con led "democratization" in its place.

It must happen though, balance must be restored, the code upheld. As I/we await that day, I will simply use this Memorial holiday to watch the silent glow of the candle I lit near my Eagle Scout flag and the picture of my abuelitos to remember all of the lives who have been lost in the name of war. Lives that transcend all borders, ethnicities, genders, religions, etc. Lives that are tied together by our humanity. By remembering, I strengthen the resolve within myself to work towards making sure that I, and the people I surround myself with, will work towards Peace and bridge-building.

On this day, I honor those who honored themselves by remembering that the human spirit's power is best wielded when we live our lives in such a way that everyone who comes in contact with us feels an obligation to be a better person themselves.

Rest in peace, abuelitos

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Get Comfy! Time for the Sunday Stroll

First up - news! Boran2 is turning one! Mañana! (We'll not ask why he is not then Boran1, by the way). And it's not exactly him, but his blog! So, go wish him a happy blogday, and then read about how the Bush admin's EPA is working to put us all in greater danger.

Duke upends the right wing immigration talking-points bag and dumps everything out so that we can take a good look at it, and see what they are actually saying, and how they are manipulating the language and debate. Also, the main highlights of the immigration bill that recently passed the house. As usual, excellent work taking difficult, not easily understood topics and opening them up.

Olivia has an amazing iris! It looks like it is either sticking its tongue out at you, or it comes with its own caterpillar. Gorgeous, either way! Also, the sky seen from the backdoor, and from the frontdoor... same time, same day, two very different skies! And lots more besides, many beautiful flowers. Astute observers will note that I've said nothing... nothing at all about Olivia's bug porn! (no link, you'll have to find it on your own.) I am so proud of myself.

[UPDATE!] Sallycat is writing about Big Adventure, Big Ifs, Big Water and swimming the rapids. Somehow she ties it all in to self confidence and being careful what you ask for. And it works! go read!

Forget creeping bugs and pod people... James hears tell of creeping deserts! Just remember, the cactus is your friend. Also, one of the great (and greatly ignored) dilemmas in seeking Israeli/Palestinian peace.

XicanoPwr points out how dropping out of college and becoming "chief bag-carrier, dog-sitter, call-screener, hand-cleanser, paper-sorter, speech-reader, lectern-duster, schedule-keeper and Altoid-provider" can be a great career and education move... as long as you remember that some dogs are more equal than others, that is.

[UPDATE AGAIN!] katiebird has a Welcome Wagon! And picture of some pretty, determined looking lady lifting weights. Go say hi! There's lots more there too, of course, including being committed daily, rewards (what in the world is a "Clausthaler"?) and other stuff (but no vibrating beds).

I didn't know who Sophie Scholl was, but I looked her up after reading dove's piece on choices, taking stands, promises and self awareness and, but not really (although the method would probably work) stopping smoking. Also - on a quiet day you can hear the echoes.

Awwww. Whining dogs, super-coordinated multitasked eating, remote controlled cars and old friends that just want to be loved. Go read Familyman. Sniff.

[UPDATE THE LAST! (maybe)]

In Canada, catnip tells us, the public employees union (aka CUPE) votes in a majorly significant way. And a union in Britain considers doing the same thing. "Fierce debate" probably doesn't half cover it. Also, a store makes a decision - right or wrong, this debate is far from over, even if swept under the rug for a bit. Lots more at catnip's site! She finds the news and then finds the angles.. then tells us about them!
[UPDATE SORTA IN THE MIDDLE, BUT NOT!] catnip, fresh from toasting herbettes, has tossed a frame of mind into the mix! A great short story, with an interesting twist and food for thought.

Compassion, clarity, absolutism, and the choices made are all present in Ductape's article on atrocity and apologists. If you've not read the conversation in the BooTrib version, do yourself a favor and do so. Amazing insight and thoughts expressed... the entire thing certainly an example of the very best of the blogosphere.

All done!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Conundrums Before Dawn - Saturday Thinking Out Loud

Silent. Empty. Still.

I love the hour just before dawn. I stand at the window, in the dark, looking out on an empty street, absent the distractions of work or children or spouses - still and silent moments of contemplation, when time seems for a short while to have little meaning; when my inner thoughts and being are almost in a state of abeyance. It is then that sometimes I feel that almost breathless sense of expectancy, when it seems as if surely there is more on the way besides just a new day. That something momentous will be occurring at any moment, if I just happen to be looking in the right direction at the right instant.

Now and again I will imagine that other people who are wakeful in these early hours share these unformed expectations, our thoughts seeking out the profound depths within ourselves before bouncing out to reverberate deep within the consciousness of others. As if, if we could just postpone the dawn for a few more minutes, just long enough to enter into the right frame of mind, twist ourselves into exactly the right pose, meditate ourselves into that one precise state of being, do something, anything... an entirely new world might be handed to us. If only.

But… the first glints of the sun become visible on the horizon. The birds begin their early morning songs and greetings, drawing our attention outward to the present. Children begin to awake, their small-person selves requiring love and attention. Doors slam, signaling the beginning of daily commutes to placate the gods of responsibility and duty and mortgages. And the moment is lost.

For now, anyway. Maybe next time, you think, I can capture that ephemeral promise and hold on tight.

I believe that it is in that brief hiatus, when our world is still and silent - empty of all but ourselves - when we are cocooned in the safety of darkness and inwardly hollow and receptive, that the seeds of our life's dreams are planted. Not a hurried, frantic cacophony of thoughts and images, as sometimes is the effect of "What can I do in my life?" brainstorming sessions, as if to be the biggest, best, first on the market, get the biggest share of the pie and worry about the rest later were the only worthy goals.

No, these dawn thoughts tend to drift along winding paths down which we normally would merely ... dream... we could go. Lush, verdant, drowsy wanderings in a world that could be. Rambling explorations of often-unacknowledged hopes and aspirations, beguiling chimeras that vanish if looked at too suddenly.

The closer we get to sunrise, however... to the full exposure of day, our first-light visions hasten away, seeking cover, so as not to leave us vulnerable. Our fancies that before lead us to the banks of a stream that looked so smooth and shallow and narrow in our half dreaming state, enticing us to take the little steps necessary to cross it, now seem to have abandoned us on the shores of a mighty river that broadens and becomes choppier and deeper the higher the sun rises in the sky; the great River OhBut.

Oh, but I have no talent. Oh, but I have no time. Oh, but no one believes I can do it. Oh, but... the river is too wide, and I have more sense than to try to cross it.

Who says common sense always has to have the last word?

It just may be that the secret of capturing the promise of the dawn is to believe in the nonsensical. The unrealistic, even the fantastic. To drag our early morning dreams out of the shadows, into the realm of possibilities. Only there will they find power and substance and durability.

They are always there, you know, congregating in the corners of our daily lives, nudging here or there, seeking the best opportunity to drop into our minds and say, "Remember me? I'm the you you want to be." You know, those little "What I really want to do is ... oh, but..." thoughts. In the top offices of the highest buildings, at kitchen tables, in classrooms, at daycare centers, in a carwash, serving up hamburgers through a drive thru window, driving a tractor... thoughts of what could, should, might be are pushed away daily.

I am too busy, too important, too insignificant, too frazzled, too afraid, too poor, too rich, too complacent, too tough, too weak, too smart, too dumb, too settled, too flighty... and the river is too wide.

One has to wonder what could be accomplished if we just took the time to build a bridge?

Do I have the answers? No. Not your answers, not my answers, either. I do know the questions are there, though, and that seems like a good first step.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Open Thread - Bad Blogger Style

No Bud. No cheesecake. :(

Just room to yap the night away - or day, if you are in a different hemisphere. From me, that is... which is not to say that anyone is in the wrong hemisphere or anything, just in one that I am not in. Yet.

Immigration bill passed without Majority support

I am having an insane week, but not chaotic enough to report briefly on this
The U.S. Senate on Thursday easily passed an immigration overhaul that would give millions of illegal immigrants a chance to become American citizens, as supporters braced for a bruising battle with the House of Representatives.

The Senate voted 62-36 for the bipartisan bill that couples border security and enforcement with a guest worker program that would put most of the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants on a path to U.S. citizenship.

There is going to be a HUGE fight in the negotiations with the House leadership. When they passed HR4437 back in December, I'm sure Sensenbrenner could not have ever imagined that the Senate would do the unthinkable: pass sweeping immigration legislation without the support of a majority of Republicans.

Check out the Nays from the roll call:

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bond (R-MO)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Nelson (D-NE)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Sununu (R-NH)
Talent (R-MO)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)

There are a whole lotta Rs behind those names.


Here's some kettle corn as we watch them completely implode over the next few months just in time for congressional elections.

Of course, Duke1676 has much, much more analysis over at Migra Matters.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Egg of the Phoenix

Whether or not the ancient Chinese actually had such a curse, we are indeed living in interesting times. Thankfully, “interesting” is not all bad.

In quiet moments I look around at all the things that should, by rights, send me into the depths of despair… and instead, in defiance of all logic, feel a tremendous hope. I realize that the temptation to ask if I have completely lost my mind must be almost overwhelming, but bear with me, and I will attempt to explain… well… why I haven’t.

Never has the fight for justice - social, environmental, economical - been so important - not because victory is so far away, but because it is so close. Not quite close enough to touch yet, but if you look quickly you can sometimes catch a glimpse of it struggling over the horizon – clumsy, rather unwieldy and prone to falls like a baby just learning to walk, but determined to eventually master the process.

When you view the ominous events and actions of the past few years in the “darkest before dawn” frame of mind, they take on new meaning – those who are feeling their power slipping away are hastening to enshrine their views in law, and to muddle the minds of the citizenry, in the hope that by so doing they will be able to stem the tide of history. It won’t work.

So many “democracies” too appear to be deciding that a democracy, a republic, one person one vote, representative of the will of the people, is not such a good idea after all. People start to insist that that should actually mean something, you see, and that will never do.

Thus the increasing dependencies on theocratic nationalism, militarism, eliminationist rhetoric, corporatism and the insistent cultivation of a dumb and compliant populace, which are all highly unpleasant, exceedingly dangerous… and the manifestations of last ditch desperation.

You will be forgiven if you are not yet convinced of my attachment to reality but follow along a little longer and my reasoning will become clear.

Each and every day we bask in the legacies of the social movements and activists that have come before us. Great and brave men and women, many trembling in fright and horror at the thought of what they were doing, and the likely repercussions of the stands they were taking, but who did it anyway. Imagine standing up, time after time, fully knowing that you are going to be knocked down, maybe never to get up again. But also believing that every time you do get up, your foot is placed just a tiny bit further than it was… maybe even an entire inch… and that the next person who stands up starts from where you left off.

The world is a very different place today because of actions taken and lives committed to change in the yesterdays. And it can and will be a different place in the tomorrows because of actions taken and lives committed to making changes today. Despite what seem to be very dark times, we are starting from a much better position in this era than we have ever been in before. Things that used to be common practices are now considered wrong – most beyond debate.

That the struggle to make sure these gains are fully realized (and not rolled back) is constant does not detract from the fact that equal rights for all is the accepted “civilized” standard. Some may have an imperfect understanding of what “all” means, not to mention “rights”, but we’re working on that. That non-whites, women, gays and lesbians are equal citizens anywhere, that the slavery of another human being is not tolerated, that reproductive justice is a vital part of the lives of women, that people who do a days work deserve a days pay – to the people on the front lines even just sixty years ago, and especially to those who labored in the shadows, these things must have seemed like a very far off and almost impossible dream. Still, they dreamed. And here we stand today.

We did that.

I’ve never quite understood people who buy into the entire “wimpy, soft Liberals and Leftists” trope. What are they talking about? Courage doesn’t lie in the one driving the tank bristling with firepower and the ability to easily crush underfoot, but in the one standing in front of it, armed only with a couple of shopping bags. Courage doesn’t lie in the forces who have the might of law and history behind them, demanding to be obeyed, but in the small woman who refuses to give up her seat.

Speaking truth to power, when it’s likely to get you tossed into jail or ostracized, refusing to run with the pack - choosing instead to stand with the few against injustice, planting yourself in the path of a vicious foe, not for your own protection but for that of those weaker who are standing behind you… now that is courage. That is progressivism, liberalism, leftism, kumbaya idealists, moralism - whatever you want to call it.

It awes me sometimes to realize that there are few places on this earth where you can take a step and not tread in the footsteps of giants. We don’t know all their names, what occurred in their lives, who they loved, when or how they died or anything else about them. But that they, before any of the large social movements ever began, stood up (or sat down) and said “No more.” cannot be in doubt. It took all the “little” people (giant though their small actions may be) to change the course of history or society. We did that. One by one, and together.

Gather that thought – draw it closely around you like a soft, comforting heirloom blanket, woven by an untold variety of fingers… blunt edged and worked roughened, crisscrossed with scars and lines, soft as a baby’s bottom, every color and size imaginable, each contributing a strand, gossamer fine and tough as tungsten… a weave to which each of us who work for justice and peace add our own unique patterns as we move through life, to be later passed on to those who come after us.

Never should we lose sight of all the work still to be done to bring about a just world, but we must not allow that to obscure our view of the triumphs already gained. The forces for justice, equality, dignity and humanity cannot and will not be denied… we are unbeatable, awe inspiring and effective. What do “the powers that be” fear most? Us, and what we can accomplish together, when we stand up for one another, and for the dignity and rights of every person.

There may be no time to rest on laurels, as we have a long ways to go yet, but there is always time to think of how far we really have come, and to remember… we did that. We are the unstoppable dynamism that has changed history, sometimes inch by inch, since the beginning of time and we are the ones that can and will do it again - and no one can take that away from us.

originally published Jan '06, in Human Beams: Our Society
(with minor edits)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006

Two Histories Meeting with a Bang

In one corner, there's this type of widespread narrative. (Obnoxious Headline of the Day Award: Latinos altering culture, Some Arizonans say)
"I feel they are threatening our American way of life," said the retired court reporter from Sun City West. "They come in here illegally and expect us to adapt to them. And they have no right to do that. The American way is being attacked."

At barbecues and picnics, in senior centers and college campuses, many Arizonans seem to be struggling with what they believe to be a changing cultural identity. The way they see it, Hispanics and immigrants are threatening the country's culture by imposing their language and symbols of identity.
The linked article comes from the Arizona Republic, which primarily serves the Phoenix metro area but has a statewide circulation that surpasses all the others. You would think that our media would be alittle bit more sympathetic to its area's roots. Unfortunately, that is not the case and we must find the unique history of la frontera being told elsewhere....the WaPo of all places.
Hector Flores knows almost everyone within blocks of the little cinderblock house his family still owns there. Yet he could not imagine moving back to Mexico -- and leaving his medical benefits in the United States -- even though he knows almost no one in the trailer park where he lives in Sunland Park. Maria Bernal lost her best friend in the United States -- "my only friend" -- to AIDS two years ago, and making friends in Texas has been hard. So her social life, too, is in her old barrio in Mexico.

"Over here, I'm not really an American," she said one recent afternoon while waiting in El Paso for a bus to take her across the border. "Over there, I'm not really a Mexican."

She said she is "something in between."

Me too, Maria. It is a reality that is shared by many of us who have learned to walk and chew gum at the same time. We're not just walking or just chewing gum, we are doing both at the same time creating a different action altogether. Whenever I hear a spitting tirade from the likes of Lou Dobbs that "they must learn English" I want to get on my phone and retort back, "what makes you think they don't want to?"

I've never met an immigrant who was stubborn and refused to want to learn the dominant language of the U.S. He/she is a myth cooked up by those who would rather not have the scourge of the immigrant's diversity blighting the American countryside in the first place. The effect of all this rabid insistence on language monopoly are the creation of more Zack Rubios who are afraid to connect with their cultural roots. Even further than that are the Man Eegees who have lost the language tie-in to their ancestry altogether and are forced to learn it from a book or drive-in-your-car CDs.

I thought humanity was supposed to progress? This whole thing is teaching me that as convergent and opposing histories meet with a bang, the phoenix left in the ashes at the end of the explosion will be cursed/charged with making the same journey as its forebears.

Where are we at in the cycle and what lies ahead?

Walking Through the Valley of Dry Bones

I amar prestar aen... (The world is changed)
han mathon ne nen...(I feel it in the water)
han mathon ne chae...(I feel it in the Earth)
a han noston ned 'wilith. (I smell it in the air)
Much that once was is lost. For none now live who remember it.

For the past few weeks there has been a conversation swirling across blog borders that has left me speechless, discombobulated and oddly comforted...all at the same time. A contemplation of the inner workings of humanity and how the unspoken truths of our societal dance governs the way history has been unfolding lately.

It began, for me, with a stroll down Yon bonny road where the journey led to an encounter with Alex. Oh Alex, how you have haunted me so. Like a shadow that always trails my steps when the warmth of the sun can be felt upon my face, lurking, biding your time when the night darkness falls and your power can be spread.

The puzzle of these musings can only be unlocked by stepping so far back that headlines and movie trailers are mere glimmers in the eyes of paradigm.

We are playing the role of ruah. The dry bones in the vast field that spreads before Ezekiel are revealing their secrets.
I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone.

I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them.

Then he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.
As I watch the old systems die away in the world, especially within my own country, I can't help but recall the words I scribbled yesterday as the sun rose on a sleepless night:
So you see, there is much to ponder in the hours when the sky changes from the blackness of night to the pale light of day. The soul resists rest when it is forced to endure the earthquakes of the soul by realizing that the visage standing before it in the mirror is broken and in need of repair, flawed and socially responsible for the ills of other human life. Hope springs eternal only in knowing that these questions and struggles exist in the travesses of my life understanding. I can only imagine what a different world I would see and experience if those in power would do the same.

That makes a great starting point for a prayer...
Care to join us on the stroll?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

are you ready to ramble!?

Okay, so maybe being a world wrestling announcer (or is it monster trucks?) isn't quite my calling, but still... it's that time again! The neighborhood awaits, sooooo.... let's ramble! First, we have a special occasion!

Recipes, being committed daily, scary food, and exercising on a blog! What more could you ask for? katiebird has it all... and guess what else? If I am reading this right, June 1 is the first day of katie taking Eat4Today to the people! 3D people! (gasp). And you know what that means... she needs support! she needs encouragement! she needs a full blog! (to show the 3D people). Mea so culpa, here... I read and benefit, but don't participate enough. So, we have between now and June 1 (and after!) to build on the already existing vibrancy and ability to personalize (whether it's about food, personal goals for life and work, or whatever) and show those 3D folks what we blogateers can do when we put our minds to it!

If you don't know how the site works, ask katie what to do... she's bossy, she'll tell you ;). Okay, well she's not really, but she'll tell you anyway! Off you go (but come back!)

I bet you've never before contemplated earbuds and the meaning of life, have you? And also FamilyMan's shoes and planning gives new meaning to the term "leaving a small footprint". I never read this blog without laughing.

XP has done some major investigating and dot connecting! There is much more to this wall than meets the eye, although what does meet it is bad enough. Exposing the lies and the underlying issues as soon as they come over the horizon is good strategy!

[UPDATE!] The honored honorary ancestor has updated his blog! There is much, much to think about, with broad brushes and fine, and to discuss - perfect brain and outlook expanding fare here.

which reminds me, sometimes people have trouble with blog comment software, so if that happens, it's perfectly okay to talk here about something posted elsewhere, if necessary or desired (Manny doesn't mind!)

Boran2 wonders which came first? No, no... nothing to do with chickens! Infortainment or the need for it? Just one of the things to think about when seeking out fuel for the body, the car and the brain!

[UPDATE SOME MORE!] catnip has advice for reporters: "Memo to reporters: get disposable cellphones and/or plan to meet your sources in underground garages from now on." It seems the top cop in the US has declared war on free speech. This, sadly, is not unexpected these days.

Duke shows how the Senate Republicans have exposed themselves (no no, not that way, thank god) - no... it really IS all about race, as this English only stuff demonstrates. Also, I wondered too... what were they thinking??

Now... about olivia. I'm sorry but there just is no other word for it... petal pr0n! I had NO idea that nature was so um... descriptive! But of course it makes sense. Don't stop there though... she has lots of new flowers taken from interesting angles and they all have personalities, which is what I find most intriqueing. Really!

[UPDATE THE LAST!] James finds a political candidate that is actually taking on the whole "free speech zones" thing, which have almost come to seem the norm nowadays. Also, the march of the wingnuts (and their poison) seems to be everywhere!

Dignity's Apostle... is the title of Intrepid Liberal's interview with Robert W. Fuller. Wide ranging, informative and thought provoking... this is something we'll want to discuss, as it fits in with some of our other current cross blog discussions.

Speaking of cross blog discussions, dove has written of diaspora... and connections fleeting and lasting, and how they all inform our lives and how we think and live. And more. Also, walking by moonlight which, like so much of her writing, seems to be saying many different things all at once.

["Woohoo!" UPDATE!] Where in the world is kansas? Eagle-eyed poco spotted her! In the New York Times Book Review! And they love her! (How could they not? They are obviously people of good taste and great discernment) Here's an excerpt:

Marilyn Stasio writes, "Making deft use of parallel time frames, Pickard writes with insight and compassion about an unresolved crime that continues to haunt a farming community....Pickard draws out the truth with tantalizing suspense, while using the mystery to illuminate the ways a community would rather live in guilt and believe in miracles than give up its dark secrets."

All done!

PS. I have not forgotten deano! He is away for a week or so. I also have not forgotten supersoling! We might have to have our second petition next week. We'll see!

If I have forgotten anyone else, let me know.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

An Elephant Pause - Thinking out loud thread

The bones have been there for a long time, likely 2 years or more, cleansed now in the contributive way nature does these things. Bleached by the sun, they lay harmless and mute, meriting no more than a glance - if that - from the creatures she once shared this space with, as they pass by intent on the living and having no more use for this carcass of the dead. Or so it seems.

They are still a ways distant, moving slowly and ponderously due to their weight, and the lack of anywhere else to be at this time except where they are. The old bones could be quite easily avoided, by choosing a route less than a hundred yards to the right or the left - not much, in a migration that has already covered hundreds or thousands of miles - except it seems for this stately procession the bones are not a detour, but a destination.

The matriarchs arrive first, their enormous feet stepping gently as they arrange themselves around the bones, maneuvering their mammoth forms in a way that should be clumsy, but is not. The head matriarch makes the first move - the tip of her trunk gracefully moving back and forth before settling in to softly caress the shape of the head, follow the line of a tusk, pat a ribcage. The others perform their own rituals of touching, scenting, before one by one they move aside, their places taken by the aunts, uncles, pushing forward the little ones who were born following the past closing of the circle and so are meeting whoever inhabited the old bones, for the first time.

Finally, the last ones finish their touching and then turn away, moving into the end of the already moving line of forms. They will again range hundreds, maybe thousands of miles, seeking food and sustenance - and perhaps again pausing from time to time to... what? Mourn for those who were unable to make it? Seeking strength or wisdom from an ancestor? Remember times past? Or maybe just to smell old bones. I don't know.

I've been fascinated by the idea of the elephant pause since I first heard of it. I have no idea what they are doing, or why, so until they can tell me, I put my own interpretation on it, and, while I love the story, for me it's never just about elephants. It's about pausing, in whatever way suits one best, perhaps to consider where one has been, and what lies ahead (although that can't be known). Sometimes it's about thoughts that bring joy, little incidents that produce an involuntary smile at the memory of them.

Maybe it's about who walks with you, or who you instead walk with. Destinations, detours, circles - what is worth meeting in the middle and who gets to decide what you do there? Is the destination the same, or is what may be your main pathway just someone's detour?

Or maybe it is just about old bones.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Photo-Op del Día

First our country shook from a busted bubble of security. Atop the powdered and fragmented remains of innocent human beings he grabbed a bullhorn

with the fire of revenge burning in his soul, the bombs fell in a land far away from the culprits and the pilot-hero declared victory.

Even though his incompetence spurned more death, it wasn't until an American city drowned that it finally started to sink in for the masses that the faux-cowboy was more concerned with his image than true leadership.

Now, with over two years left of enduring idiocy, the journey leads him to the latest setting of death--la frontera.

When's it gonna end, America? How much more are you willing to take? We've been warning you of this team's ineptitude from the very beginning, if it'll help you save some face, then the "I told you so moments" will never come. Just help us end this nightmare.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Erecting a Wall of Shame

The Senate has agreed to build The Great Wall of America.

On the border fence, the Senate by an 83-16 vote backed fences on 370 miles of the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border, focusing on areas where there is a high volume of illegal crossings. About 70 miles already exist, although some of the fence is in disrepair, and the Department of Homeland Security already has plans to build the rest.

The fence amendment by Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions would also require vehicle barriers to be placed along 500 miles of the southwest border.

Senators Sessions and Durbin had an exchange today that made me stop and re-realize the difference of worldview that exists between myself and many of my fellow Americans.

Construction of the barrier would send "a signal that open-border days are over. ... Good fences make good neighbors, fences don't make bad neighbors," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (news, bio, voting record), R-Ala. He said border areas where barriers already exist have experienced economic improvement and reduced crime.

"What we have here has become a symbol for the right wing in American politics," countered Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. He said if the proposal passed, "our relationship with Mexico would come down to a barrier between our two countries."


For someone like Senator Sessions, his stability is hinged on the notion that anyone that differs from him in any way has a clear line of boundary. It is a worldview that denounces diversity as the watering down of his identity rather than an enrichment. He tolerates the existence of Others (barely) but you better make damn sure the neighborhood knows that there are two separate yards.

I would argue that Senator Sessions' viewpoint is in the mainstream, especially nowadays in the political climate engineered by Karl Rove and other Bush government officials. Feelings of distrust and hostility abound in plentitude. There is a sizeable crowd of Americans that still have a healthy dose of adrenaline flowing in their veins from the 9/11 attacks and will do anything it takes to "protect the homeland". They are kept in a state of outrage and alertness by groups such as Let Freedom Ring, Inc. who ran television ads last year that used the imagery of the World Trade Center attacks to incite fear and xenophobia, calling for the building of the wall that was approved today by the U.S. Senate.

The problem with the National Security argument is this: if it was really about terrorism and security then why the focus on the southern border? had this to say regarding the message of the commercials:
The ad “Easy Cover” says that “illegal immigration from Mexico provides easy cover for terrorists” while showing video of a hijacked plane slamming into the second World Trade Center tower on September 11, 2001. The narrator says “we need to secure the border.” Viewers are directed to a website promoting the building of a 2000-mile security barrier similar to those built by Israel: 50 yards wide and including a ditch, coils of barbed wire, two tall wire fences, and sensors to warn of any incursion, at an estimated cost of between $4 billion and $8 billion.

But, according to the 9/11 Commission, none of the 9/11 hijackers entered the United States by crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, and all of them had visas issued by the US State Department. According to a staff report from the commission, some of the 19 hijackers entered the US several times, always through US airports. The report said, on pages 7 and 8, that the first hijacker flew in through Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 15, 2000." All others entered through 8 airports on the East Coast, including 11 entries through New York area airports and 12 through Florida airports." One would-be hijacker, Mohamed al Kahtani, tried to fly in through Orlando but was turned away when he aroused suspicions of an alert Immigration official and later became hostile and gave evasive answers when interrogated.

In summary, the best evidence available, as well as the evidence cited by the sponsors of the ad, makes a better case for building a fence at the Canadian border than it does at the Mexican border – that is, if Let Freedom Ring's object is truly to stop illegal immigration from Muslim countries rather than from Mexico and Central America.
So there's the skinny, it really is about keeping certain groups out of the United States. The media moguls who control the national dialogue perpetuate this message of racism and xenophobia. It's obvious who the targets are when you have Anderson Cooper, Larry King and Lou Dobbs of CNN broadcasting from the Mexican border.; Fox News....well, their tactics of division are legendary; and from MSNBC, I was appalled to hear Chris Matthews make these remarks on Monday night after primetime speechifying by Bush.

Keith, I think a lot of Americans are aware of this issue. They find the boring, for the reason that they don‘t think there‘ll ever really be a real tightening of the screws on this border. They‘ve heard it since they were born. They‘re going to turn to the other channel tonight. A lot of them, you talked bout this—those who are intensely interested are obviously Hispanic people, people who have come to the country illegally, as well as their relatives who came here centuries before. They care about it, because it is in fact an ethnic issue to a lot of Americans.

On the other side you have people who live in the southwest or in communities which are changing culturally from Anglo to Hispanic rather quickly, who don‘t like this cultural shock who are going to be watching tonight. But we‘ll see. I don‘t think this is as exciting as say, the war in Iraq or gas prices or security or the NSA story or even the CIA story. I think people are very concerned right now about this country‘s security. I‘m not sure they‘re on the top of their game when it comes to interest in ethnicity, and I think that‘s what this issue is about.

Changing culturally from Anglo to Hispanic?!?

It's that type of ignorance of the history of the American Southwest that galls me to no end. I would think it would be obvious to the American public that places like El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciúncula (Los Angeles), San Diego, San Ysidro, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Escondido, San Francisco, Temecula, El Centro, Las Vegas, Yuma, Casa Grande, Mesa, Tucson, San Manuel, San Luis, Sierra Vista, Nogales, Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Socorro, Santa Rosa, Tucumcari, Española, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, San Antonio, Amarillo, Odessa, Seminole, Presidio and El Paso were not cities sprouted from the roots of the New England pilgrims.

The news that the Senate has decided to "get tough" on border enforcement will cause a lot of cheering and back-slapping in many American homes tonight, most of them too far from la frontera to realize the impact the Great Wall will actually have in the areas where it will be built. This latest move by the American government is a defiling of our history as a nation of immigrants as well as a further deepening of the divide between our country and the rest of the world. The only difference is, this time the walls will be real.

Crossposted at BooMan Tribune

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Open Thread

Here's some coffee and headlines

  • Pima County ballot measures all appear headed to passage (I voted yes for all four)
  • Az State Legislature passes sweeping (and horrible) immigration plan
  • Ajo Highway was closed due to Border Patrol shootout, details unknown
  • Medicare-D(isaster) affects Arizona as deadline passes for sign-up
StrongBad Emails are still hilarious after all these years

Making JD Laugh Through Tears

Here was J.D. Hayworth's statement prior to yesterday's speechifying by George.
"I encourage the President to temporarily send National Guard troops to the border until the Border Patrol has the resources it needs to gain operational control. If we can call out the National Guard to deal with a hurricane, then it surely makes sense to call out the Guard to deal with a situation that has far greater national security implications.

"But this cannot be a sham deployment like the one Arizona Governor Napolitano ordered. Instead of patrolling, Arizona National Guard troops are currently just checking trunks, changing oil, and fixing computers. We need Guard troops to physically patrol the border.

"As for Mexican President Vicente Fox's concern that the border will become militarized, don't make me laugh. There are areas all along the border that already resemble a war zone. The border has already been militarized by the drug smugglers, human smugglers, and Mexico's own military. Anyone living along the border will tell you that Fox's concerns are not only absurd but insulting as well."
Anyone J.D.? Well I'm "anyone" and I wasn't insulted, in fact I was so intrigued by this notion of "militarization" that I looked it up (what a concept, eh?).
militarization - Noun
act of assembling and putting into readiness for war or other emergency: "mobilization of the troops"
I'd like to order a double-wammy helping of JD's ire from Shrubzilla's performance last night, please. First, regarding the "sham deployment" characterization.

[BUSH:] So I'm announcing several immediate steps to strengthen border enforcement during this period of transition.

One way to help during this transition is to use the National Guard.

So in coordination with governors, up to 6,000 Guard members will be deployed to our southern border.

BUSH: The Border Patrol will remain in the lead. The Guard will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads, and providing training.

Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities; that duty will be done by the Border Patrol.

(emphasis mine)

The Border Patrol now operates under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). I wonder what the DHS Secretary thinks about the "sham"?
"I think it would be a horribly over-expensive and very difficult way to manage this problem," Chertoff said. "Unless you would be prepared to leave those people in the National Guard day and night for month after month after month, you would eventually have to come to grips with the challenge in a more comprehensive way."

linkage - TPMmuckraker
Oops. So much for a consistent message...

Now back to J.D.'s statement. He obviously doesn't care much for Governor Napolitano. Thanks to the Arizona Republic, here's some salt for his wounds.
In a matter of minutes, President Bush transformed Arizona's statewide debate over immigration Monday.

He announced a federally funded plan to deploy National Guard troops to the state's southern border, a move Gov. Janet Napolitano had been pushing for since January. The Democratic governor for months had urged the federal government to pay the tab.


During his address, Bush sounded more like Napolitano than like conservative Arizona lawmakers who have pushed more hard-line policies. Like Napolitano, Bush said the National Guard would play a supporting role and assist the Border Patrol by handling such tasks as, "operating surveillance systems, installing fences and vehicle barriers and building patrol roads."
No wonder the sound of Republican heads popping can be heard across the land, this election-year issue just might get passed in the same way it advanced from the Senate Judiciary Committee: a majority vote that doesn't include a majority of the majority.

The weaker the Republicans become politically, the better chance we have of ending this long nightmare beginning in November. The words Congressman Harry Mitchell sure have a nice ring to them, don't you think?

[UPDATE] The Arizona Republic has Harry Mitchell's response to last night's speech. Linkage is here. (hat tip to Geo)
“The bill passed by the House late last year may make for good sound bites, but it is not a realistic approach to comprehensive immigration reform. This is a serious problem and needs a serious solution. If the House ends up killing urgently needed, realistic, comprehensive immigration reform, I don’t think voters in Arizona will appreciate it.

“Furthermore, I applaud the president for tonight urging the nation and the Congress to debate this issue with the tone and respect it deserves. My opponent tried to use this issue to divide our nation, not unite it. His remarks about Arizona’s governor showed a lack of respect for our state, and a failure to grasp how important this issue is to all Arizonans.”

Monday, May 15, 2006

Military Misuse

I'll write more later, but given the news that George will address the nation tonight in primetime to rattle his sabre and appease the howling masses regarding his commitment to "fight our enemies", I thought it would be prudent to reveal just who these dangerous feinds really are:

Oooooh, scary.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Eegeehood tour - It's that time again!

What time is that, you ask? As if you did not know! It's time to tip-toe - what? No, this time - no really! It's okay - I don't have the wrong song again this time. It really is time to tiptoe through the tulips! Olivia's got a whole page full of them! Pink ones and orange (red?) ones, demure ones and explosive ones... fields of tulips to tiptoe through! And an orchid too, mind you. Go look!

Over at James's place, Ductape (who has not updated his own site - ahem!) and Duke have spread out the tablecloth and piled it high with goodies and debate again! They refuse to stop eating or arguing about immigration! Plus, spies and dominatrixes! How can you resist?

Speaking of politics (and we were), Duke shows just why the "put the troops on the border!" soon to be proposed Bush admin plan is such a crock. And is just a political ploy. Such a surprise! Also, a senate bill that I missed hearing about entirely, that may bear fruit.

[UPDATE!] We have two new hoodians! Well, that have blogs. Let's see what they have been up to! (Do you think they know we peek? Wave!)

Boran2 is over at Survivor Left Blogistan and has an interesting post about organic foods, penned in cows and big business! You can imagine what happens when those three get together... There is more there as well, but no paintings?

And Intrepid Liberal Journal hangs their hat at... well... Intrepid Liberal Journal! Lots of chewy stuff there, commetary and analysis. Grab some munchies from the Duke and Ductape table and settle in for a read. But come back! The tour continues!

[UPDATE AGAIN!] It's party time at XP's! (and maybe everywhere else too, if the Rove thing is true!)

catnip is over there cutting holes in the toes of Bush's sock puppets, and also ... it's Mother's Day! Happy Mother's day to all the moms out there. And grandmas and foster moms and mr. moms.

In dove's story of Noe's wife, the ending would be quite different. And the time seemed right to post her self censorship piece on the site.

I'm convinced, slackdom is just too much work! Between long haired dogs with gastro-intestinal problems, and wayward weedwackers (a sort of "stop, drop and run" story, this is) one might think a nice concrete jungle is just the ticket. Oh...and don't you just love kids? Best of luck Tuesday, too, FamilyMan!

[UPDATE THE END! (maybe)]

Katie asks.... "Have you been putting off a task?" ... (um... do you think she's talking to me?) But she has a solution! Just4today ;). Also, being committed (no, no... not that way) and finding resources to support that, and scary food stuff!

It's stormy weather at deano's place! And... things that make you go "Hmmm".

[OUTSIDE Eegeeland UPDATE!] So sorry, but this is just hilarious. If you think you've been in odd, unexpected situations before, just imagine if you had this guy's dilemma. What would you do?

All done! (I think - I'm not at my brightest today, so let me know if I forgot anyone!).

Open Thread!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Shadows and Clouds

I'm in a major funk.

I thought it was just writers' block, but over the past several days I've noticed the all-too-familiar grey veil of depression descend on my mood. It's something I have dealt with for several years, doing the textbook shuffle of "I can get through this. I don't need help. It'll pass. Blah blah" until finally reaching the point where if I didn't get some help from counselors and/or meds I could go several days of not getting out of bed. My college transcripts can attest to the battles of the past.

While I love to sleep, I think we can all agree that that type of lifestyle is not healthy nor productive to breaking the cycle of helplessness. Recently I've been feeling barraged with bad news and strife from all directions. At the family level my parents and I are sparring over my future career plans (a very long and complicated story). At the workplace there has been a tremendous amount of staff turnover without the accompanying hiring of people to handle the workload. And then there's the state/national/global level, which provides endless fodder for the down-in-the-dumps mood I find myself in today.

Before the sirens and alarms start going off, know that I have already scheduled an appointment to meet with my counselor and hopefully get some meds that will help me re-balance whatever skewing is going on in my brain. I couldn't take it anymore on Tuesday when I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin.

So why am I writing about it? I guess I needed to verbalize/literalize the conversation I've been engaging in via an endless loop in my head. I learned when I was very young that if I cowered and took the passive route to obstacles, that my virtual walls would do nothing to erase the core problems/threats I was facing. There's an inherent truth for me that hope can be sparked when I finally reach my breaking point and turn around and fight back.

I guess that's why I blog, aside from the mini-manifesto. There's so much outrage being done in my name, and while there are days like the ones I've been experiencing this week when I want to tell the world, "¡Vete al carajo!", there really are sane people left on this earth who share my disgust with the injustice, rampant poverty, and spread of war. By writing and spurring activism for myself and others, I can take some type of responsibility for turning the tide.

Enough rambling, just wanted to get this out there so I could move my mind to more productive subjects; like mourning the theft of Shamus.

[UPDATE] Thanks for your comments, everyone. I really appreciate them all. Just gonna follow the Eat4Today motto coined by katiebird and take it one day at a time. Paz.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Head Asplosion News Roundup

My 2-year old cell phone contract is up at the end of the month, I was considering a switch to Cingular. Not anymore.
Cingular Wireless LLC pulled a ringtone from its Web site Tuesday after learning that it carried a message the company called "blatantly offensive."


"Por favor, put the oranges down and step away from the cell phone. I repeat-o, put the oranges down and step away from the telephone-o. I'm deporting you back home-o," the voice continued.

Aside from the fact that the ringtone is racist and ignorant to the beauty of the spanish language, it is also a testament to the hoardes of Americans who would rather think about complicated issues in superficial terms. The U.S. is a bumper-sticker society that expends more brain power figuring who they're going to vote for the next American Idol than their elected officials.

We reward athletes and actors with multi-million dollar salaries yet can't muster the political will to compensate educators and social workers with deserving livelihood. Screwed-up priorities rule the day. See what I mean?

With Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie holed up in Namibia for the birth of their child, one of the most pressing questions in Hollywood has been: How much money will the photograph of Baby Brangelina fetch?

One million dollars? Two million? More than that?

The growing consensus is the first photo of the offspring of the two hot Hollywood stars will command a seven-digit sum to the lucky shutterbug who gets it. Photos that confirmed Jennifer Aniston and her new beau, actor Vince Vaughn, were an item sold for upwards of $250,000; and US Weekly reportedly paid half-a-million dollars for exclusive photos of Pitt and Jolie on an African beach.

That's petty cash compared to what photos of Baby Brangelina might bring.

Petty cash. Nice. While I contemplate the idiocy of the fact that that particular gem came straight from the CNN website, you can run off and scream in the streets after reading this:

Could there be a third President Bush? The current chief said Wednesday that younger brother Jeb would make a great one, too, and has asked him about making a run. The first President Bush likes the idea as well.
As I wrote in a comment in the cheesecake thread: "Not no, but F*#@ NO!!!"

Ole Faithful Cheesecake Open Thread

What a day...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Vigilance on the Edge of a Knife

You know, I really should be happy at the moment. I just finished reading about George's latest poll numbers from Gallup/USAToday. He's tanking, even with the rabid locksteppers that have given him political cover to carry on his destructive policies over the past five years.
President Bush's approval rating has slumped to 31% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the lowest of his presidency and a warning sign for Republicans in the November elections.

The survey of 1,013 adults, taken Friday through Sunday, shows Bush's standing down by 3 percentage points in a single week. His disapproval rating also reached a record: 65%. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.


Bush's fall is being fueled by erosion among support from conservatives and Republicans. In the poll, 52% of conservatives and 68% of Republicans approved of the job he is doing. Both are record lows among those groups.

Moderates gave him an approval rating of 28%, liberals of 7%.

Talk about scraping the muck from the bottom of the barrel. This should be exactly what I need to brighten my day. Right? RIGHT? Well, I can't bring myself to care what his poll numbers are anymore, given the fact that his handlers and enablers in the halls of power are part of that 31% minority that are destroying the social fabric of my country. I feel more of a steely resolve to keep fighting, ensuring that this trend is one that ends rapidly:

Americans on the lower rungs of the economic ladder have always been exposed to sudden ruin. But in recent years, with the soaring costs of housing and medical care and a decline in low-end wages and benefits, tens of millions are living on even shakier ground than before, according to studies of what some scholars call the "near poor."

"There's strong evidence that over the past five years, record numbers of lower-income Americans find themselves in a more precarious economic position than at any time in recent memory," said Mark R. Rank, a sociologist at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of "One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All."

In a rare study of vulnerability to poverty, Mr. Rank and his colleagues found that the risk of a plummet of at least a year below the official poverty line rose sharply in the 1990's, compared with the two previous decades. By all signs, he said, such insecurity has continued to worsen.


Growing up in a rural community of less than 5,000 residents, I've always understood the harsh impact of economic policies on areas that are often forgotten and sometimes outright ignored by the politocracy. The vast majority of people in those areas commute upwards of 150 miles per day to get to their jobs so when gas prices skyrocket without a complimenting boost of pay, the pinch will squeeze the life out of their happiness. That hardship is echoed in any of the impovershed neighborhoods that can be found in any urban area.

There was a time when the Democratic Party fought hard for the working class. The New Deal Era brought about unprecedented aid to the poor and middle class who were trying to make their way out of the shadowy fog of war and economic stagnation. Labor unions were given center stage to fight for their workers to ensure just wages and acceptable working environments. The Party also supported the expansion of rights to Americans and those striving to gain full equality that citizenship bestows upon its people here.

As the congressional election season starts to heat up, the battle for the soul of the Democratic direction will be fought. Here is a glimpse of the path their platform is heading.
House Democrats have formulated a plan of action for their first week in control. Their leaders said a Democratic House would quickly vote to raise the minimum wage for the first time since 1997. It would roll back a provision in the Republicans' Medicare prescription drug benefit that prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from negotiating prices for drugs offered under the program.

It would vote to fully implement the recommendations of the bipartisan panel convened to shore up homeland security after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Democratic leaders said.

And it would reinstate lapsed rules that say any tax cuts or spending increases have to be offset by spending cuts or tax increases to prevent the federal deficit from growing.


Economic relief to the people, a commitment to health care reform, implementation of bipartisan recommendations to strengthen our security infrastructure, and fiscal responsibility? Sounds like a good start to me. What do you think?

The Revolution to End American Agoraphobia

An abnormal fear of open or public places.
Last week, I mused about the possibility of a modern-day civil rights movement that would forever shape the course of American society. I think it's inevitable for a couple of reasons.

First, there are a lot of people in this space of land who are immigrants, both documented and undocumented. The Center for Immigration Studies gives the shakedown on the numbers:
The foreign-born population of the United States is currently 33.1 million, equal to 11.5 percent of the U.S. population. Of this total, the Census Bureau estimates 8-9 million are illegal immigrants. Other estimates indicate a considerably higher number of illegal immigrants.
With each person, comes influence. Whether through language, food or just the general way they go about living their life, each immigrant makes an impact on those around them. There are several ways to deal with this type of exposure to diversity. One can either bemoan the fact that the American Way™™ is being altered or "defiled", which is by far the mainstream opinion in the streets of this country; or a choice can be made to embrace the richness that is unearthered through a sharing of our stories, our customs.

While the sheer numbers of immigrants alone are unprecented, the next reason I feel there will be a seismic shift not seen since the era of desegregation is that we're talking about a passionate bunch of human beings. It was evident to anyone who attended the various marches or rallies to see the families walking in solidarity; many mothers pushing strollers with babies who were most likely American citizens. There was no fear, although there were/are plenty of reasons to be afraid, rather an infectious Hope permeated the crowds.

I am not alone when I see a parallel to this battle to those of the past. Prominent Latina author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez has this to say:
If you were a Native American living east of the Mississippi river in the 1830s and you decided that the U.S. government had no right to forcibly remove you from the land where you and your ancestors had lived for 10,000 years or more, you were "illegal".

If you were a Native American in the western United States and you disagreed with U.S. Army directives to kill you and all people like you (as a matter of policy) you were "illegal". And then you were dead.

And now we find the nation in a media frenzy about "illegal" immigrants, with those who are most opposed to the notion focusing almost entirely on people who cross at the Mexican border on foot. (For the record, as many as half of "illegal" immigrant in the U.S. come by other means.)

Many of these people say things like, "We are a nation of immigrants, sure, but we are also a nation of laws. These illegals are breaking the law."


The United States is a nation of laws?


But we are also a nation with a long, horrifying history of unjust laws, laws more often than not rooted in racism and sexism. The very constitution of our nation was written with the assumption that many laws would need to be changed as time marched on. No coincidence that the very people trying to scare up a frenzy regarding "illegals" are the same people dismantling the constitution before our very eyes.

Sometimes, as history shows us, it is the law that is immoral and the "illegals" who are on the side of justice.

linkage - go read the whole thing
That, I think, is the real battle being fought in the conscience of the American psyche. To contemplate the fact that our entire immigration system has been saturated with stupidity and lack of pragmatism overshadows the pie fights being engaged between the enforcement and amnesty camps.

Those of us who have been watching this whole thing unfold over the past year knew it was coming. It was far too predictable for the Republican Noise Machine to find a new target of their ire to divide voters and whip up their base for turnout in the congressional elections this coming November. The one thing the Sensenbrenners and Roves in the halls of power didn't contemplate, I think, is the fact that they were opening themselves up to a full airing of their incompetence regarding Homeland Security and the miscalculation that the immigrant community and their supporters would not cower in fear when their families had a real chance of being divided by broken laws.

The people are fighting back; and everytime in United States history this type of Revolution has occurred, there has been a tidal wive of progress on the road to equality for all under the law. It is that liberal spirit that guides the masses with or without their consent that leads me to the final conviction that we are embarking on a new era of civil rights. It will force each of us to step outside of our boxes of familiarity, overcoming the fear of the unfamiliar, and embrace a new wave of humanity. You gotta love it. I know I do.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Rumblings in the Eegeehood!

Wow, what a crop of things there are this week... me, I think every week gets better and better! But enough about me (cough), let's take the tour!

catnip rounds up the news (and discovers George Will is still a wanker), and lots of other things! Also, she writes about the UN panel on torture the US faced recently, and some of the ramifications. But that's not all! She's found what's got to be a tapir relative for Ductape cuz, she says, he loves odd looking animals. And these definitely fit the bill! (they are very cute tho).

katie is trying to get us to eat our fruits and veggies! They are not scary, you know, and a 'portion' is not very big! There, of course, is much more there besides... discussions on childhood diabetes and obesity, migranes, chocolate tricks and marshmallows and their relation to SAT scores! I bet you never knew.

XicanoPwr pulls our leg a little bit (Sinko de Mayo, heh) and then gives us the real scoop on the origins of Cinco de Mayo and its importance. I love history lessons like this, that give the basics of the event, but also relates it to current events and people, and why they should know about it.

[UPDATE IN THE MIDDLE!] XicanoPwr says this was listed in Google News! Woohoo, congrats!

Our Manny mentioned a while back studying the history of his ancestors and also of leaders, past and present, that have had great influence on events... it's definitely interesting to read about the discoveries made when researching the distant and not so distant past. And fig-leafed dogs, too!

I wrote a piece long ago about some of the effects of being unmoored from your history... it's way old, but as I've been urging others to unearth things, I figured I would too! Nobody can say I ask others to do things that I won't do myself. Unless it involves bugs.

[UPDATE!] Speaking of bugs, Olivia doesn't have any! She does have Doritos though, so that sort of makes up for it. And a whole host of flowers, from lush to delicate, just waiting for someone to come and oohhh and ahhhh over them. So, off you go!

But then come back! Cuz Ductape has updated again! Not only a most excellent rant, but there was liveblogging of the recent marches that is hilarious, informative and makes you think!

Whoa! Deano's place... an explosion of color! He has a new banner that just sort of makes the artwork beneath pop right out at you. Way cool. And, of course, the art is too!

[UPDATE AGAIN!] dove introduces us to "Alex", although I'm pretty sure we all already know her, or someone like her. She wonders if it's too harsh? I don't think so! Also, we're having a conversation in the post right below that about... well... we're not sure. But it's fun anyway! Join in, and maybe you can figure it out.

Where in the world is kansas?! Finally a question I know the answer to. Well, I may not know where she is right this minute, but on Wednesday, the 10th, she's going to be in Phoenix! Or Scottsdale! Which may or may not be Phoenix too, I have no idea cuz I'm not a Phoenixian. (and then Denver the next day). Anyway though, if you are in the area of the Poisoned Pen, stop by. Say hi and get a signed copy of her book! Bring cheesecake, cuz with all this gallivanting around, I'm not sure she's had time to eat real Eegee food!

You've gotta watch James, because apparently sometime this week (Monday, maybe?) he's planning an open feet thread! Only partial foot nudity though, there will be birkenstocks covering the strategic spots. We'll be watching! Until then, though, he has an analysis of the Bush team losing their wheels, as well as a reminder that Green is the new Red!

[MORE UPDATE!] FamilyMan has a perfect way to avoid mowing the lawn, and it doesn't even require working at slackdom! Just wait. He also has a lovely essay on the meaning of friends, friendship and being online. Perfect for Sunday slackdom reading!

Duke highlights the racist underbelly of much of the anti-immigration talk and action. Not even six degrees of separation there. Also, as XicanoPwr reminds us, "Migra Matters was recently selected as one of the top ten resources on immigration on the web site Top 10 Sources - a directory of sites that bring you the freshest, most relevant content on the Web." Well done and congrats to all the posters there!

Right here, there is an immigration debate in the comments of this post! Very interesting, and informative... lots of points and options brought out. Also, Manny talks about seismic shifts in America... in the past, and now. There is a natural progression to these events... lots to chew on in that post, that has raised some new thoughts for me. Hmmm.

All done! (I think.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday Bud Blogging

Feliz Cinco de Mayo

Your celebration will have to do without the basset hound pr0n