Thursday, January 31, 2008

Vacant Apartments Across Arizona

The percentage of apartment vacancies is going up.
No one knows for sure how many immigrants are leaving Arizona because of the sanctions law. But apartment complexes with affordable rents in areas with large numbers of immigrants are being hit hardest by the departures.

The departures are coming at a bad time for landlords. The slow economy is making it hard for some apartment dwellers to cover their rent. And others are renting houses instead of apartments as those rents have fallen because of the housing-market collapse.

"It's a pretty soft (apartment) market to begin with," said Terry Feinberg, president of the Arizona Multihousing Association.

The state's apartment-vacancy rate hit 10.1 percent during the third quarter of 2007, up from 7.7 percent during the third quarter the year before, he said.

Data for the fourth quarter won't be out until next week, but Jodi Bart, co-owner of MEB Management Services, expects Arizona's apartment-vacancy rate to hit 15 percent for the first time in years. Her company manages 60 apartment complexes in Arizona, totaling about 15,000 units.

As I've said before, be careful what you wish for...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Site: "We Can Stop The Hate"

NCLR has launched a new web portal that will document the spread of hate speech within the immigration debate's rhetoric: We Can Stop The Hate

Adopt-A-Highway Spot Moved for Vigilantes

The California Department of Transportation recently awarded a stretch of I-5 near the U.S./Mexico border to the San Diego Minutemen for their Adopt-A-Highway program. Controversial from the beginning, considering the track record of that particular group of vigilantes, Caltrans has reversed its decision and moved their cleanup location.

The California Department of Transportation said Monday that the group can't sponsor a two-mile stretch of Interstate 5 near a Border Patrol checkpoint, saying it poses "a significant safety risk."

"The risk is in the potential for disruption to the operation of the state highway as well as public safety concerns for the traveling public and volunteers in the program," Caltrans district director Pedro Orso-Delgado said but did not elaborate.

Although the Minutemen will get another stretch on State Route 52 in San Diego—far from the Border Patrol checkpoint—even that might prove temporary. Caltrans said it was reconsidering whether the group was eligible for any piece of highway.

"We have received information during the past couple weeks that warrants a closer look at the San Diego Minutemen relative to the eligibility criteria for this program," Orso-Delgado said. "The department will pursue this review in an expeditious fashion."


Hmmm, I wonder if the vandalism at Ranchos Penasquitos had anything to do with it? Or how about the research done by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center on the San Diego Minutemen's various ties to white supremacist groups?

Caltrans should've done their homework. Let's see if they end up issuing a mea culpa and revoking the permission altogether. It will be a small win in the fight to send these extremist haters back to the shadows where they belong.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Border Rules In Effect on Thursday

Here are the new regulations that are set to go into effect for U.S. and Canadian citizens wishing to re-enter the U.S. via land ports of entry. (Mexicans can go Cheney themselves).

Effective January 31, 2008, U.S. and Canadian citizens ages 19 and older should no longer expect that they will be able to prove identity and citizenship by relying on an oral declaration alone. Instead, travelers will be asked to present documents from one of the options below when entering the United States at land or sea ports of entry. Travelers who do not present one of the documents listed below may be delayed as U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers attempt to verify their identity and citizenship.

U.S. and Canadian Citizens – Single Document Option

One of the following documents should be presented to prove both identity and citizenship.

Acceptable Documents as of January 31:

  • U.S. or Canadian Passport
  • U.S. Passport Card (Available spring 2008)*
  • Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)*
  • State or Provincial Issued Enhanced Driver’s License (when available – this secure driver’s license will denote identity and citizenship.)*
  • Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available)*
  • U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document
  • Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card
  • Form I-872 American Indian Card
  • Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Card

* Frequent Land Border Crossers — to expedite processing into the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection recommends using one of the above asterisked documents.

U.S. and Canadian Citizens – Two Document Option

All U.S. and Canadian citizens who do not have one of the documents from the list above must present BOTH an identification and citizenship document from each of the columns below.

Identification Documents*

  • Driver’s license or identification card issued by a federal, state, provincial, county, territory, or municipal authority
  • U.S. or Canadian military identification card

* All identification documents must have a photo, name and date of birth.

Citizenship Documents

  • U.S. or Canadian birth certificate issued by a federal, state, provincial, county, territory or municipal authority
  • U.S. Consular report of birth abroad
  • U.S. Certificate of Naturalization
  • U.S. Certificate of Citizenship
  • U.S. Citizen Identification Card
  • Canadian Citizenship Card
  • Canadian certificate of citizenship without photo

U.S. and Canadian Citizens – Procedures for Children

Effective January 31, 2008, U.S. and Canadian citizen children ages 18 and under will be expected to present a birth certificate issued by a federal, state, provincial, county or municipal authority.


The 'out of service' sign I encountered last fall in Nogales becomes more ironic, everyday.

Grijalva Changes Endorsement to Obama

The realignment of super-delegates continues to move in Senator Obama's direction.
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama will tap U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva to help persuade Latino voters to support the Illinois Democrat's presidential campaign.

Grijalva will campaign around the Southwest for Obama, courting union members and environmentalists heading into Super Tuesday on Feb. 5. His title in the campaign will be announced Tuesday, Grijalva said. Twenty-two states will pick their favorite Democrats then.

Grijalva had previously endorsed John Edwards for the Democratic nomination. Also on the Obama front, he'll be in that big city north of the Gila River on Wednesday.
Please join Barack Obama at a 'Stand for Change' Rally in Phoenix where he'll talk about his vision for bringing America together and bringing about the kind of change we can believe in.

'Stand for Change' Rally with Barack Obama and special guests Gov. Janet Napolitano and Caroline Kennedy

Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum
at the Arizona State Fair Grounds
1826 W. McDowell Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85007

Wednesday, January 30
Doors open: 3:30 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is strongly recommended:

For security reasons, do not bring bags. Please limit personal items. No signs or banners are permitted.
Still no love for Baja Arizona? Tsk! tsk!

sombrero tip to cpmaz

Friday, January 25, 2008

Guns in the Classroom

First it was guns in our bars, now it's guns in our schools. Add another folder to the National Embarrassment file for Arizona.
PHOENIX — Two Mesa lawmakers are drawing up legislation to give teachers — and some students — a chance to carry firearms on campus.

The proposals by Sen. Karen Johnson and Rep. Russell Pearce would allow anyone who has obtained a state permit to carry a concealed firearm to bring it onto public-school campuses, something now a crime under state law. It also would overrule similar policies at community colleges and state universities.

The prohibition would send a message to would-be criminals not to target schools because they might not be the only ones armed, Johnson said. People age 21 or older can apply for concealed-weapons permits in Arizona.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Abyss

"Anyone who fights with monsters should make sure that he does not in the process become a monster himself. And when you look for a long time into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Can't do it today. I just can't. The news is often heart wrenching, but the apathy and sometimes outright approval of the atrocities has reached my personal limit of unbearable.

Everyday I remind myself that every single person on this earth has had a unique experience of life. Different locales, different relationships with family, friends and passers-by. Different languages, customs, and preferences for breakfast. Perhaps their fingers trained upon a certain button on the remote control that automatically directs them to the most outright and outlandish of propaganda cradles. Or is it the amount of fiber and saturated fat in the diet? Hmmmm.

In real life, I'm often pensive (which is mirrored here on the web), but it comes with a huge dose of humor and sarcasm as I play pundit to the going ons around me. Wallflower by trade, prankster by nature - I can be both predictable and shocking at the same time. Ah, the joys of a Myers Brigg flunkie (I scored in the middle of all four categories the last time I took it). Not that my spirit is content or able to be defined by a studious sorter of personalities based on a bunch of culturally incompetent questions.

What does one do at the end of the proverbial rope? Let go and let the Flying Spaghetti Monster God? There was a time in my life where that would have absolutely been the answer. It's not that I've lost the faith, it's that I've watched in horror as messages of hope and faith and peace and love become substituted by reality teevee, recycled episodes of Pants Off! Dance Off!, and pulpits of doom and gloom.

Do we see what we wish to see? Do the words we read, the speeches we witness, the smirks we view, the votes we cast, the bickering we thrive upon mean anything? I suppose the answer is yes, but it has been a very long time since any movement has been registered in the direction of sanity - using my personal Richter scale, of course. Yours may be functioning quite admirably, but it seems like my gauge has been broken or replaced by a more appropriate device.

No. The planet has certainly been tilting in a swiftly way that is beyond my comprehension. Madeleine L'Engle may have sussed out a nugget of truth in her reality, but I have yet to feel so lucky.

Whiner! Pessimist! Fool!

But it gives rise to the inner-phoenix. It is the defibrillator to my apathetic heart. The muse that needs both salt and sugar to remind itself that it is indeed alive. Perhaps I am cursed to walk this world like a sponge - absorbing the angst and elation that comes with life's secrets.

There's a key somewhere, but until I stumble upon it, a post like this will appear every once in a while to keep my ego in check and the floating light bulb illuminated that signals a reminder that there is still breath in my lungs, blood in my veins, and love in my life that can ultimately slay the abyss with light.

Can someone flick that switch?

Mil gracias

Pima County Early Ballot Request Deadline

If you live in Pima County and haven't requested an early ballot for the February 5th Primary Election, tomorrow - January 25th - is the deadline. You can do the request two ways:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Latino Man's Body and Humanity Exploited

This is vile.
A passerby reported the body of the man, who appears to be of Hispanic descent, in a remote area of northeast Rutherford County near the Wilson County line. He had no identification on his person.

He was well groomed, clean and the condition of his hands led detectives to believe he was employed at an indoor job.

No one has reported a matching subject missing and his fingerprints do not show up in any database. It is possible he is not in this country legally.

Number One: They show a photograph of the dead gentleman's face like he's a specimen, not a human being.

Number Two: They assume that he's not here legally

Number Three: You can almost hear the shock that he would be "well groomed, clean"

Racist, inhumane idiots. Their contact information can be found here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Raped Without Consequences in Texas

The local paper in Taylor, Texas gives us the latest account of human rights abuses occurring at the T. Don Hutto Immigrant Concentration Camp. This case, however, is being swept under the rug because ICE agents were exempt from prosecution of sexual assault of prisoners at the time.

The female detainee was examined by an emergency nurse at a Williamson County hospital, who reported to the Williamson County Sheriff's Office that the woman sustained trauma to her vaginal area.

The female detainee and her son were taken to a hotel before being transported to an “alternative facility,” according to ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda. The victim was later deported.

Officially, ICE continued investigating the case under a possible charge of official oppression.

Crime avoided both state and federal jurisdiction

On Monday, May 21, the Williamson County District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the case, according to the ICE report.

The spotlight remains fixed on that inhumane facility over at the T. Don Hutto Blog

Comment Moderation Back Online

I hate to do it, because that means I have to do more babysitting around here; but I refuse to let hate speech infiltrate this humble blog:
Too bad they didn't burn those spics effing house down!!Oh, wait, but then they would be homeless. Oh, that's when they go back to the house they left in Mexico. You rat-people make my skin crawl! Let's start giving out el grande sized D-con packets with the food-stamp benefits!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Make this a day ON, not off

And this is the need my friends of the hour. This is the need all over the nation. In every community there is a dire need for leaders (Yes) who will lead the people, who stand today amid the wilderness toward the promise land of freedom and justice. God grant that ministers, and lay leaders, and civic leaders, and businessmen, and professional people all over the nation will rise up and use the talent and the finances that God has given them, and lead the people on toward the Promised Land of freedom with rational, calm, nonviolent means. This is the great challenge of the hour. (Yes)

And if we will do this my friends we will be able to speed up the coming of this new order, (Yes) which is destined to come. (Yes) This new world in which men will be able to live together as brothers. (Yes) This new world in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of all human personality. This new world in which men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. (Yes) Yes, this new world in which men will no longer take necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. (Yes, sir) This new world in which men will learn the old principle of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They will hear once more the voice of Jesus crying out through the generations saying, "Love everybody." (Yes) This is that world.

--A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations, Address at Freedom Rally, Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Tucson's MLK Day Festivities

On Monday, Tucson will have its annual commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Begins at 8:00am - University of Arizona Mall

March to Reid Park starts at 8:30am with festivities and food at the park through 4:00pm

March Route: UA Mall east to Campbell, south to Broadway, east to Country Club, south to Reid Park.

For information on service opportunities across the country, please visit the Day of Service website.

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. Visit

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shattering the Black vs. Brown Paradigm

Here's another aspect of the whole mythical Black vs. Brown game the media loves to exploit.

Alisa starts:
To this day, the vast majority of people in the African diaspora live south of the U.S. border, in Latin American countries from Brazil to Colombia to Cuba and, yes, even Mexico. The song "La Bamba," in fact, was brought to the Veracruz region of Mexico by Africans enslaved to the Spanish. The song likely has roots in the Bembe (Bantu) culture from what is now the Congo. This is only a stone's throw, geographically, from the Kenya of Obama's father's birth.

How quickly we forget in this country. How brutally we refuse to learn.

The New York Times not only ignores completely the African history of Latin America by positioning "blacks" against "Latinos" as if none of us were both. To do so is enormously irresponsible because it dissolves from public consciousness the fact that African slavery was a crime committed all across this hemisphere, by colonial Europeans who spoke English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. The story also erroneously portrays Latinos as a race unto themselves - an error egregious enough to be stated in our own census bureau's definition of Hispanic as a person "of any race". Including "black".
And Liza expands:

Let's be frank : every single country in the Americas had slavery. Slavery is encoded into the DNA of anybody born in this hemisphere, whether their families where part of the slave economy or not.

That there are many latinos who don't want to recognize their African ancestry? I give you that. Racism --and it's opposite, self-hatred-- is part of the fabric of the cultures of this hemisphere, not just the United States of America.

The difference though is that, racism in latino culture is not manifested as a hatred of blacks for being blacks. Many migrant workers who come to this country have heard of the trials and tribulations of the African American community. The issues of "tension" that Nagourney crapped about, have to do with the economic facts that led to the 1900 riots in Puerto Ricos : Of an American government with imperialist tendencies using every dirty capitalist trick in the book to maintain the lower end of the labor spectrum weakened in order to ensure a never ending pool of labor at 'slave-like' wages.

I highly recommend taking the time to read both posts fully - they are beautifully woven with storytelling and passion. I really love the internet because it gives us a chance to learn, to love and to hopefully grow in our understanding of a very diverse world.

Border Wall Lawsuits Spread to Arizona

Not content with digging up sacred burial grounds, slicing yards in half, or destroying natural habitats, the U.S. government has decided that it will forcefully remove the ancestral lands of people who live along la frontera. The lawsuits began in Tejas:
WASHINGTON – A federal judge has ordered a small border city in Texas to temporarily turn over its land to the federal government so it can begin to build a border fence.

U.S. District Judge Alia Moses Ludlum ordered the city of Eagle Pass, on the border about 100 miles southwest of San Antonio, to "surrender" 233 acres of city-owned land. The Justice Department sued the city for access to the land.

The Homeland Security Department is trying to build 370 miles of border fence by the end of the year. A law signed by President Bush and supported by both of Texas' U.S. senators mandated a total of 700 miles of fence along the border. The government had warned the city, which opposes the fence, it would sue under eminent domain laws to secure access to the property, declaring it is "taking" the property for 180 days.

Now landowners in Arizona are going to feel the hard hand of the law all in the name of Homeland Security:
The spate of suits in Arizona were filed Tuesday, naming individual landowners in Santa Cruz County. None could immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security to do what is necessary, including condemning land, to build border barriers and to install other security measures, Justice Department spokesman Andrew Ames said Wednesday.

Homeland Security has tried to negotiate with landowners it could reach, but some have objected. Others may be absentee landowners who could not be found.

This is an outrage, but as long as it gives warm fuzzies to people who live far away from this area, the theft will continue. Just a reminder that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton voted for the construction of the Great Wall of America™. At the time, Representatives Kolbe and Grijalva voted against. I hope the Senators will sleep uncomfortably knowing that families will be evicted from their homes due to their votes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A "Prank" in Dallas

Oh, those mischievous kids! Don't you just wanna pinch their cheeks when they spray paint "DIE" on your car?

FORT WORTH – A Hispanic family in Benbrook has temporarily abandoned its home after it was vandalized and racist slurs were spray-painted on the family car.

Sofía Bara said the someone tried to break into the home a week ago through her 10-year-old granddaughter's bedroom and that the vandals painted the words "White Power" and a racial epithet on the family's Isuzu Stylus. The vandals also destroyed a trampoline in the back yard.

NOT. THE. TRAMPOLINE. Those Barbarians Pranksters!
Gwen Gray, one of the family's neighbors on Bucking Bronc Drive, said she thinks the vandalism is a prank and hopes the family stays in the neighborhood, which she called multiethnic and nonviolent.
Nonviolent. Clearly.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Media Relishes in Minority Tension

What does it mean for a Presidential candidate to court the Latino vote? I bet if you ask that question to 100 Latinos, you'll get more answers than the number of ingredients in mole poblano*; yet, the corporate media is convinced of its ability to answer that question and often decides to add in its own shade of drama to campaigns.
LAS VEGAS — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has eaten beef tacos in East Los Angeles and sat on the living room couch of a working-class family in a largely Hispanic neighborhood here for 30 televised minutes. At a rally of the culinary workers’ union in the shadows of the Strip here one night, Senator Barack Obama pumped his fist and chanted with the crowd, “¡Sí, se puede; sí, se puede; sí, se puede!” or, “Yes, we can!”

First guacamole, now tacos - will Hillary start courting the Paleta Caucus next? Just wondering, since it seems like anytime the candidates are mentioned "courting the Latino vote", food is involved somewhere in the article.. How's that for caricatures?

Anywho, the New York Times continues with the convenient topic of racial tension between the African American and Latino communities.
Mr. Obama confronts a history of often uneasy and competitive relations between blacks and Hispanics, particularly as they have jockeyed for influence in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.


In 2004, Hispanics accounted for 16 percent of the vote in the California primary; 11 percent in New York, 17 percent in Arizona and 9 percent in Florida. Should he win the presidential nomination, his success at overcoming the history between the two groups will be critical as the Democrats approach an election in which they are looking to lock up the Hispanic vote for decades to come.
This whole mindset needs to be removed like an ingrown toenail. The Latino vote is never, ever going to be something that is unifiable like the African American vote. We are from too many different places of origin with different relationships towards the social structures around us. As I've written many times before - the politics of a Xicano are not the same as a marielito which are not the same as a puertoriqqueño which are not the same as a guatemalteco which are not the same get the picture.

This is a Latino blog because of who I am and the raíces I've chosen to embrace in my writing and lifestyle - but that doesn't make the topics I cover part of a Latino Agenda. I happen to write a lot about immigration issues, often being characterized as an 'immigration rights blog' from outside sources; which makes it easy to assume that I think that immigration is a Latino issue - it is not. My proximity to the border and the disparate relationship between the U.S. and Latin American economics certainly makes it a prominent piece of the conversation; but it is a disservice to the complexity of the issue to pigeonhole it.

I'd say the same goes for issues of poverty, job growth and the disgusting state of our school systems (often in minority neighborhoods). Thinking in such small terms will inevitably sideline communities that deserve to have their nuanced view of issues incorporated into the campaigns.

Tuesday's debate in Las Vegas is to focus on issues that concern minorities, and is co-sponsored by African-American and Latino groups. That left one minority group feeling ignored.

"They forgot about almost 150,000 Asian people in this town," said Mike Vaswani, president of the Las Vegas Asian American Group, an umbrella group for Asian associations. "The Asian community is also a significant minority community."


Race relations in the U.S. are going to be part of this election, whether we like it or not, especially with candidate surrogates showing the world new levels of idiocy and offensiveness; but I think Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama has it right:
"We're not going to win on identity politics," Davis said. "Barack Obama is not going to win on identity politics. Hillary Clinton is not going to win on identity politics. The Republican Party is sitting there salivating at the prospects of a battle between white females and blacks."

The candidate that can speak to checkbook and justice/equality memes will ultimately win over voters in many different demographics. The sniping at the scraps that the media loves to highlight is really an abdication of responsibility for a system that pretends its over race while secretly relishing in any drama the latest hit piece may cause. It is a sign that we all have much work to do.

*it's a lot, trust me

Water Politics in the News

Looks like the U.S./Mexico border will have yet another use that will exclusively benefit this side of the line.
Arizona will invest nearly $30 million in a new reservoir at the end of the Colorado River, money that will buy the state more water and added insurance against future shortages.

The reservoir will be built about 20 miles west of Yuma, on the California side of the river, and will capture water that flows unused into Mexico. The structure was included in the seven-state drought plan adopted last month.

Nevada originally agreed to pay the full $172 million cost of the reservoir in return for access to more water but approached Arizona and California late last year about buying shares of the project.

Conservation gets a mention from Governor Napolitano yesterday in the State of the State Address
Population growth, combined with climate change and its resulting drought, will make water an ever-present factor in Arizona's future. Through our laws, ordinances and building codes, we must continue to emphasize conservation, as well as preservation of riparian habitat, as we develop new water infrastructure for our state.

text of full speech
No word from the Governor on how the happy talk extends to the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Range; but at least responsible use of water is being reinforced. The signs are ominous for the future of the Rio Colorado

As of 2007, the Upper Basin is well ahead of its 10-year requirement, according to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. So, barring a historic dry-up of the river, a call probably won’t happen for at least 10 years.

That gives new projects more than a decade to start using water.

The long lag is like a broken speedometer that tells you the speed of your car five minutes ago. By the time you realize you’re going too fast, you might have blown through a speed trap.

“If we overdevelop the river, which seems to be the human condition — it’s happened on the Arkansas and other rivers — then we will have to pay the piper later,” Balcomb said.

Population growth is projected to grow exponentially

Southwest Colorado is home to about 90,000 people, with more arriving every week. And the regional population will grow almost 90 percent by 2035, according to the Office of the State Demographer.

A 2005 study called the Statewide Water Supply Initiative predicted that Southwest Colorado could meet most of its future demands, but unless it builds new water projects, some shortfalls are expected in every county except Dolores and San Juan.

La Plata County's municipal demand is expected to grow nearly 70 percent by 2030, with an 800 acre-foot shortfall.

In the face of this growth, the region is trying to protect its history of farming and ranching.


Monday, January 14, 2008

A Luxury Some Of Us Don't Have

Here are some choice quotes from Sen. Hillary Clinton during yesterday's episode of Meet the Press:
So I think it's important to set the record straight. Clearly, we know from media reports that the Obama campaign is deliberately distorting this. And, you know, I think we should just take a step out here for a minute. This is the most exciting election we've had in such a long time because you have an African American, an extraordinary man, a person of tremendous talents and abilities, running to become our president. You have a woman running to break the highest and hardest glass ceiling. I don't think either of us want to inject race or gender in this campaign. We are running as individuals, we are making our cases to the American people, and it's imperative that we get the record and the facts straight because people are entitled to have that information. But I have no intention of either, you know, doing something that would move this race in a wrong way, or, frankly, sit standing by when I think tactics are being employed that are not in the best interests of our country.


You know, this is, you know, an unfortunate story line that the Obama campaign has pushed very successfully. They've been putting out talking points, they've been making this, they've been telling people in a very selective way what the facts are. And I'm glad to have the opportunity to set the facts straight.


SEN. CLINTON: Well, you know, I don't think that either of us should use gender. I don't think this campaign is about gender, and I sure hope it's not about race. It needs to be about the individuals. Each of us is running for the highest position, the most difficult job in the world. And, you know, I am, I think, very clearly someone who's gone through a tremendous amount of criticism, you know. That's fine. I'm more than willing to shoulder that. I think voters and viewers can draw their own conclusions when they watch whatever it is that we are doing.

And I believe that, you know, for me, this is about who is ready on day one. And much of what I've gone through in my entire life is, I believe, preparation for being able to go into that Oval Office. Clearly, I bring the experiences of women. As a daughter, as a mother, as a wife, as a sister. That is who I am. Those experiences are part of me. And it is part of our American journey that we have moved through so much of what used to hold people back because of gender, because of race. Are we there yet? Is the journey over? I don't think so, and I don't think any fair person would say that.

linkage (emphasis mine)
Did you get the point she was trying very hard to convey? It's the Obama campaign's fault that race has been made an issue, not Clintonian surrogates or the words out of her own mouth. Gender and race shouldn't have any part of the election's narrative, except when it's used in the next breath. Or something.

Cynical politics gives me indigestion; and there's loads of it right now being fired between the Obama and Clinton campaigns. It's to be expected, really, but here's something that surprises me: neither of them seemed to have planned for the fallout beforehand.

Some of us do not have the luxury of turning off our racism radar. We are reminded of it constantly. Caricatures of minority figures are so ingrained in the fabric of the U.S. that it creates an ongoing cycle of perpetuation which casts the roles of dissenters as uppity or overly sensitive. There's also fear. 'the field negro' wrote something the other day that stuck with me
Bill and Hilary Clinton can use code words with the best of them, and they know what buttons to push to bring out the racial bogeyman lurking behind every corner in A-merry-ca. And in case you were wondering, there is no gender bogeyman. Yes women have been discriminated against in this country, and they have suffered mightily at the hands of the all powerful white male. But don't for a minute think there is a fear of women out there. There isn't. But ask me if there is a fear of black men and you know what I will tell you.

Us brown guys get a similar shakedown by society. The same visible tension as we walk by, perhaps a clutching of a purse or suitcase, an assumption that we have a drug problem if we end up in the hospital for chest pains. Here in the southwest, we get the added delight of questions about our citizenship and surprise when we speak such good English (and unaccented! gasp).

Not to discount the offensiveness of sexism, by the way - my inner machismo could always use a check; but I think it's important to differentiate the foundation of the discrimination that results in both forms of bigotry - especially with what is unfolding to be a predictable plot line:
  1. Dog whistles are sent out regarding race
  2. Bristling starts to occur in response
  3. Scoffing and "I would never" moments follow
  4. Token defenders are summoned to give cover
  5. Caricature of angry minority is achieved for the target
This is the extended track, by the way. It's reserved for people that are supposedly enlightened and "get it". The short track is for the ignorant and truly bigoted - only item #5 is necessary.

I've been thinking a lot about what's been unfolding lately in the primary campaign. There were days when I had a full post ready to fly, only to be discarded because I'm still a bit gun shy about talking online about bigotry by supposed allies (especially when some of the players are the same) - but really, enough is enough.

The saddest piece to me? It's probably going to be successful. Barack Obama will get tagged as having a "black agenda", whatever the hell that means and/or be labeled as angry and uppity. It's the trap that's been laid for him if he beats back directly and forcefully at the Clintons. It's as if both camps know it, making me want to pull a Scarface.

[Tired Disclaimer: I have not chosen a candidate to support for the Feb. 5th primary, but you can bet a bowl of guacamole that it won't be Hillary]

Friday, January 11, 2008

Janet to Endorse and Campaign for Barack

This should make things interesting here in Baja Arizona.
Gov. Janet Napolitano will announce her presidential endorsement for Barack Obama shortly after noon today, a source close to the governor has told The Arizona Republic.

Janet has been playing the triangulation game for a while with the state legislature, especially with respect to immigration issues, so she's not exactly in the rock star category among the region of the state that put her in the governorship. To Obama's credit, though, his campaign has been operating a field office in Tucson since November. It's located at 4500 E. Speedway, Suites 26 & 27. They also had a presence at the Fourth Avenue Street Fair in December. Perhaps they can stage a duel around Tucson Mall when the Ron Paul hordes gather each weekend.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Governor Richardson's Call to the West

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico ended his bid for the Democratic nomination for President today. Arguably the one with the most executive and diplomatic experience out of any of the remaining candidates, he has decided to stay out of the endorsement game...for now. To be honest, I'm surprised he bowed out before Nevada's caucus but apparently didn't have money to run any advertising to make a decent stand.

On CNN earlier today, he issued a call to the West to show up at the primaries and caucuses in force, which opens up a good opportunity to talk about the way power is unequally balanced in the U.S., though rarely talked about, between the different parts of the country. I recall over the summer when I was doing that whole Latino Blogger study thing, the interviewer was surprised when I told her that I thought the country was East Coast biased.

I began with the history books and the way they affect the discussions of politics in this country. Taking english-only legislation as an example, I explained to her how the very idea is offensive to someone like me who has ancestors in U.S. territory that spoke a different language and were beaten, literally, by teachers and employers for having the audacity to speak it. The outcome: future generations that lose it unless they have the motivation to learn it academically.

In the modern era, the U.S. actually has a language besides English that is considered official - Puerto Rico.
Language: Spanish and English are the official languages, but Spanish is without a doubt the dominant language. English is spoken for about 1/4 of the population-with limited capabilities. English is required in all federal matters. English is spoken in all major tourist areas (%80 Spanish, %20 other).
Of course, as a conquered people, puertorriqueños get the substandard citizenship afforded to groups that lack the political clout to demand change. Another example would be the residents of the District of Columbia; though, to their credit they have mobilized wonderfully and gained allies that will (hopefully) bring about some forward movement for their rights with the next Administration.

Speaking of the next Administration, I think the reason that the populism meme has become so central to the discussion is because under the Bushistas, more people were shut out of an already inaccessible form of governance. Policy-wise and also rhetorically. It's refreshing to hear that it may come to an end, at least to my ears, but I also hope that it doesn't come at the expense of accountability for the litany of egregious actions that have occurred over the past seven'ish years. That's a fine balance to walk, which is probably why I remain decidedly undecided as February 5th approaches.

While Hillary is not going to get my vote, I was sort of...relieved? applicable word escapes me...that a different candidate than the Iowa winner was victorious in New Hampshire. Ideally, I would've liked to see Edwards do a stronger showing, but at least now we have a race instead of a corporate-owned media coronation. Each remaining contender will have to work for the votes - and I think the country wins every time that happens.

The candidates will have to answer to the needs of communities that are worried about nuclear waste storage, new mining operations, having their ancestral lands forcefully taken, etc etc etc that are different than they've faced so far. They will have to learn to speak to regions that are multi-cultural in the sense that they don't draw their roots elsewhere than pilgrims and pioneers. In Arizona, I hope they'll actually pay attention to rural areas like the Copper Belt that is still heavily union. The vote totals may not be worth their time, but it would go a long way to walking the walk of 'speaking with Everyone'. Environmentally speaking, there's a sense of respect for the Earth that has a more spiritual connection, at least in my family, than the headspace that talks exclusively about emission rates and what type of light bulb to buy.

But. We have to show up and engage. Voting levels are atrocious, especially among Latino voters, and I know a lot of it has to do with not being listened to - but I'm one of those "if you don't vote, don't complain" types. Governor Richardson is right to call on the West to show up and engage so our concerns are at least put on a stove burner instead of stuffed in the back of a pantry. I plan on working with friends and family members in the next few weeks to do so. It's too late to register to vote for the February 5th primary, but the general election looms in November. If you're an eligible voter reading this, and you're from Arizona but unregistered, please click this link and do it online.

What other issues, locally speaking, do you wish the candidates would address?

A Moment's Silence in Solildarity

She is one of the kindest, passionate-hearted people I've encountered on the web, and I join her in a warm embrace of friendship and love - hoping that it will provide some comfort in this difficult time. I wish there was more I could do, and if you see this mariachi mama, please know that if you need anything, I'm here.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Midweek Open Thread

Here's another teaser pic from my trip to New York.
This was on the flight over, and you know how I love sunsets.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Drum Major Institute Jumps the Shark

They have some kookie guy posting over there today.

With Taser, You'll Never Skip a Beat

What's the model name? DJ Lightning Bolt? The Crooning Shocker?
SCOTTSDALE — Taser International's newest weapons for the public will come in leopard print and fit in a holster that's embedded with an MP3 player, the stun gun maker said Monday.

Taser spokesman Peter Holran said the company wanted to make it easy for people to integrate its C2 "personal protector" stun guns into their lives.

Only in America™

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Having the Ears of an Other

Second Grade.

It was my first day of school in a far away place from all my family and friends. The landscape was different - grass grew without watering, the people spoke with a funny accent to my ears, and my bed consisted of a gray futon that was dragged to the middle of our one bedroom apartment each night so I could sleep.

Being so young, I wasn't fully aware of what my parents were experiencing at the time. My dad had landed a job in Norman, Oklahoma for the second time since I'd been born and my mom was sort of along for the ride. One that I recall she didn't quite enjoy, if the phone calls and crying home were any indication. Falling into a typical patriarchal home, however, my dad's employment was the law of the land and the thing that kept food on the table.

Returning to the classroom, a setting I was always comfortable in because it stimulated my mind and imagination, that first day is one that I will never forget. Approaching my seventh birthday, I had yet to understand the dynamics of race in the U.S., let alone culture; but I got a quick lesson that wasn't in the teacher's planning book that day.

Always the go-getter, I recall volunteering to read aloud for the class from some random story in the textbook. My hand flew into the air that day because the main character was a woman named Yolanda. My tia is named Yolanda!!! As I started to read the narrative, I was surprised when the teacher interrupted me.

"Her name is Yo-land-ah, not Yo-lahn-dah"

I remember arguing a bit with her but the real memory comes from the feeling I had when I was forced to read the rest of the passage saying my aunt's name wrong - each time pausing for half a heartbeat, my astonished ears reacting violently to the foreign pronunciation. It's a moment that I will never forget, because if I were to search deep in the recesses of my mind, that would be the moment when I realized that I was an Other.

What I was reacting to that day is assimilation. It wasn't done out of a head space, but rather from a portion of the heart that we refer in spanish to as el alma. That deep fiber of being within each of us that gives us our individuality but also connects us with messages and other human beings who have a way of plucking our chords like a guitar, making sweet music.

I've had this memory on my mind lately, because I've been listening to Barack Obama speak his truth on the stump the past few days. (For the record, I haven't chosen a candidate to support in the primary). Reading his book Dreams from My Father a few years ago he spoke of a moment when he was in grade school when he was horrified that his teacher mentioned his father's Kenyan background. The ridicule from his classmates was one that affected him deeply, not just of that but also his very name. Reacting to it, he constructed a false reality where his dad was actually a prince of his tribe, etc etc. This all came crashing down on him when the teacher invited his dad to speak to the class when he was stateside.

Barack Obama's story is one that I can identify with on a deep level despite the obvious differences in our upbringing and accomplishments. It's the sort of thing that, I believe, is transcendent of politics - though in a Presidential race, those aspects certainly need to be considered and scrutinized as well. The very possibility that the U.S. has the real chance at electing an Other in 2008, after eight years of tyrannical leadership by a member of one of America™'s aristocratic families, has me feeling hopeful. I can't suppress it, and have chosen not to, in the face of a divergence of voices I've read in the aftermath of Iowa regarding the authenticity of Obama's message.

One thing that's happening with the Senator from Illinois is that he is engaging a whole slew of voters that have never participated before in the political process. I've seen this crowd get labeled as superficial, ignorant and to use Hillary Clinton's line from last night's debate - in need of a "reality check". The problem is, the reality that she seemingly describes is one that has been inspiring to many people in only one sense - inspiring apathy.

This government is set up in such a way that negatively affects whole swaths of people through injustice, institutional racism and classism, or outright ignoring until it's politically expedient or needed to reach a fundraising goal. I take Obama at his word that he would fight for equality and a government that listens to everyone, because he has worked the trenches of society through his community organizing all the while living his life, carrying the continued baggage that goes with being racially pigeonholed based on skin color.

Whatever happens in the next several months, only the final vote tallies will tell (plus the Diebold hackers, but that's for a different post). I'm just excited to see new voters engaging the system and candidates who are willing to fight for those who have remained voiceless for a long time - in some cases forever. The time to analyze and debate is certainly upon us, and this country will be better off in the long run if we allow the civic engagement to happen unyieldingly and support its expansion.