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Happy (2008) Halloween!

October 31st, 2008 § 5 comments § permalink

PERHAPS LUIS BUNUEL’S MASTERPIECE, Los Olvidados (The Forgotten Ones) isn’t the typical stuff of Halloween, but for today I’m going back to it for this snippet above as it sets the tone perfectly. Ghosts, blood, surrealism…. Ah, how I do love the surrealists. Somehow, their visions always calm me. Blame it on this crazy culture that tries to hide behind a sane face, too hard, and without success.

On that angle, poverty and hunger (themes that the celebrated Mexican filmmaker based this film on) are very real horrors for many people, even today, even right now this moment. But hey. We’ll come back to that tomorrow. Because I don’t want to take away any of our glee as we stuff our faces with candy galore, by all means! After all, a revolution without candycorn and facepaint is a revolution not worth having! BOO! Happy Halloween!

Wearing Red in Solidarity

October 30th, 2008 § 14 comments § permalink

REMEMBER WHAT TODAY IS and if you are not or cannot wear red, then maybe take a moment to think upon or talk with another person about why some of us are. Document the silence, but more importantly, let us end it.

Be well today, be safe, be loving.

Me and Luna Wearing Red

Cynthia McKinney Answers The Sanctuary Survey

October 29th, 2008 § 8 comments § permalink

A Presidential Candidate Who Gets It On Immigration – Cynthia McKinney Responds to Sanctuary Survey originally posted by The Sanctuary Editors at The Sanctuary

WITH A WEEK UNTIL ELECTION DAY, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney today released a comprehensive and thoughtful response to The Sanctuary’s questionnaire on immigration and issues of concern to the Latino community.

Showing the vitality and importance of voices from outside the mainstream two-party political paradigm, Congresswoman McKinney puts forth not only a strong understanding of the complexities of these issues, but also a vision of real-world solutions. Her refreshing willingness to confront the broader social and economic realities which undergird international migration further demonstrates that practical solutions will not come from political compromises and “bipartisan” gamesmanship, but rather from rigorously-grounded assessment and analysis.

Simply put, McKinney gets it right.

While Senator Obama was gracious enough to take the time to respond to our survey, his answers still left something to be desired. In important ways, the language of the vision he presented is based upon many of the same failed systems and policies that have mired the debate from the start.

Senator McCain on the other hand has refused to respond to our survey or even answer our phone calls. Instead, he has crafted his message according to his intended audience of the moment, telling Latinos and others concerned about immigration that they should trust his past record of seeking reform, while repudiating that record when speaking to his conservative base.

Given these choices, it’s clear that McKinney presents the only meaningful and truly comprehensive approach to this issue. Let’s hope that in the future, voices like hers get the attention they deserve and a chance to break through the political din.

 

CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE

 

Name: Cynthia McKinney

Party Affiliation: Green Party

1. Could you please articulate what you think are the most pressing issues for the U.S. immigrant community, at home AND abroad, and how you would hope to address those issues as President?

One of the most pressing issues for immigrants is the effect of corporate globalization. The so-called "free trade" agreements, NAFTA, CAFTA, Fast Track, the Caribbean FTA, the U.S.-Peru FTA etc., have undermined labor and environmental rights and caused the loss of living-wage jobs both here and abroad. Massive agricultural imports into developing countries have displaced an estimated two million farmers, as subsidized grains from the United States take over their local and regional markets. With few new jobs in manufacturing or other sectors, many of these former farmers now work in fields and low-wage jobs across the U.S.

As a legislator I authored the No Tax Breaks for Runaway Plants bill in Congress; the TRUTH Act, requiring disclosure of the whereabouts of subsidiaries of U.S. corporations operating overseas; and the Corporate Responsibility Act, to force U.S. corporations operating overseas to abide by U.S. environmental and labor standards. As president, I would continue the fight against corporate globalization and require corporations to be held publicly accountable and socially responsible. Global warming is another pressing issue. As islands disappear and indigenous. ways of life are threatened, entire populations are displaced. Food production and water supplies are at risk. The United States can no longer justify denial by blaming weather fluctuations or claiming the science is unclear. We need air, land, water, climate, production and consumption policies that reflect the real limits within which we all must live.

It is impossible to discuss the issue of so-called "illegal immigration" without addressing the reasons millions of people are forced to flee their countries to come to the United States No human being is an "illegal alien." What is illegal is the way U.S. economic policies treat workers in this country and throughout the world. I support immigration policies that promote fairness, nondiscrimination, and family re-unification, not preferential quotas based on race, class and ideology.

2. Do you support comprehensive immigration reform?

Yes. Immigration reform should be based on human rights, compassion, and fairness.

3. What policy conditions would comprehensive immigration reform have to meet in order for you to support it? Please be specific.

I would tear down the U.S.-Mexican border wall, to stop funneling immigrants through hostile terrain, where thousands have perished in the past decade. U.S. immigration policy should not include a random death sentence. I would reduce the militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border. Borders should be areas of interdependence that people are free to travel across for work, shopping or recreation.

I would promote the creation of a multinational labor union that establishes consistent policies in each country to ensure a living wage, health benefits and safe working conditions.

I would renegotiate international trade agreements such as CAFTA and NAFTA and the WTO, as well as the policies of the IMF, World Bank and other international banking institutions.

I would cover immigrant workers by state and federal wage, tax and labor laws as well as worker's compensation, disability and unemployment insurance benefits.

I would provide immigrants with the ability to obtain permanent residency status within a reasonable amount of time and a path to citizenship, even if they are undocumented.

I would support immigration policies that promote fairness, non-discrimination and family reunification. I would provide medical care, education, housing and other services to immigrants and their families.

I would permit immigrants to apply for driver's licenses without verification of legal documentation.

4. Do you support the establishment of an expanded guest worker program?

No. The guest worker program creates a category of second-tier residents who cannot get citizenship and who have less rights than citizens, leaving them unable to organize and vulnerable to exploitation by unfair labor practices.

5. Do you support the expansion and construction of a virtual border along the U.S./Mexico border?

I voted "no" on the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (H.R.6061). I reject the border fence as a wasteful militarized approach to the question of immigration. Without a reasonable immigration policy, any fence, whether virtual or made of discarded military landing pads, or whatever, is a road to nowhere. On the Mexican side of the metal border fence, in Nogales, Sonora, is the handwritten statement, in Spanish, "A wall is a bridge when you tip it over." This is the statement of simple reality. Unreasonable barriers will always be challenged. But it is also the statement of the obvious solution. When an unreasonable barrier is converted to a reasonable use, that reasonable use becomes a bridge.

6. Do you support the switch from family based immigration standards to the merit based system put forth in the last round of Senate CIR?

This question assumes that high "merit" immigrants do not value their families and want them to be with them. Allowing families to be families is a worthy goal of an immigration policy.

7. Do you support the "touchback" requirements of previous comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation that would require undocumented immigrants to return to their countries of origin in order to normalize their status?

No. It is nearly impossible, especially for unskilled immigrants of color, to obtain legal residency in the U.S… Even for family reunification with relatives who are U.S. citizens, it can take 5-11 years to obtain documentation for legal residence in the U.S…

8. Would you support the addition of funding for stricter enforcement of general labor standards such as wage and hour or safety regulations as part of CIR legislation?

Yes.

9. Would you support an increase in the cap of low-skilled employment-based green cards issued each year from its current level of 500?

Yes.

10. Would you favor raising the 65,000 cap on high-skilled H-1B temporary work visas, in light of the fact that in the last two years, H-1B visas were quickly filled in a matter of days?

Yes.

11a. If so, would you also favor limiting the number of H-1B professionals a company can hire?

This would be a reasonable provision, because it assures that the workplace remains diverse. A diverse workplace is more productive because creativity is encouraged by the cross-pollination of ideas, information and cultures. Diversity is always worth protecting.

11b. If so, would you also favor limiting the number of H-1B professionals employment brokers are allowed to recruit?

Yes.

11c. If so, would you favor including meaningful prevailing wage requirements keyed to the Service Contract Act and Davis-Bacon Act?

Yes.

12. Do you have a position on providing materials concerning health care and public benefits programs in languages other than English?

An English-only mandate not only hampers effective communication but, according to the written opinion of the Arizona Supreme Court, it also "chills First Amendment rights." Where the populations involved are sufficiently large not to create an unreasonable burden, or where the interest to be protected is so critical that justice requires a redefinition of reasonable burdens, materials should be provided in both English and other languages, as appropriate. This is why we have interpreters in courts and hospitals. However, we should not assume that a person's primary spoken language is the same as their primary literacy language, as this is often not the case, depending on where and when they were schooled. We should also recognize that a refusal to publish in languages other than English will often result in an unfair and disparate burden on women. Women are often the culture-bearers of an immigrant people, treasuring the family's past and passing the legacy on. Women are also the less likely to be employed out of the home in a married couple and thus slower to make cultural and language compromises. So to deny women immigrants access to critical information in their original language is to create gender disparities, dependence, and sometimes endangerment.

13. Do you support lifetime eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for disabled and/or elderly refugees and asylum-seekers who would be eligible for SSI except for a lack of U.S. citizenship?

Yes.

14. What are your feelings on immigrant detention?

Immigrants in detention should be afforded the same rights to due process and adequate care as U.S. citizens.

15. Do you support family detention centers?

Families should not be separated.

16. Do you support private companies profiting of immigrant detention?

No. The privatization of vital government responsibilities, including any justifiable imprisonment, should not be contaminated by the profit motive and therefore should not be privatized.

17. Do you support the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act, the bill that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop procedures to ensure adequate medical care for all detainees held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

Yes, see (14.) above.

18. Do you support the United American Families Act, the bill that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow permanent partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, including same-sex partners, to obtain legal residency?

Yes.

19. Do you support the community service requirement of previous DREAM Act legislation that would grant provisional (conditional) legal residency to immigrant graduates who perform 910 hours of volunteer community service?

Yes. However I do not support it for military service.

20. Would you support an immediate moratorium on community and work site raids by ICE?

Yes.

21. Do you approve of ICE's use of excessive force to conduct immigration raids as seen recently in Postiville, Iowa?

No.

22. Do you support the Families First Immigration Enforcement Act, the bill that would provide for safe and humane policies and procedures pertaining to the arrest, detention, and processing of aliens in immigration enforcement operations?

Yes.

23. Would you support the incorporation of requirements that would tie both future economic aid and trade agreements to substantive benchmarks in sender nations that would alleviate some of the economic and humanitarian conditions that foster continued migration?

Yes. And to benchmarks that our nation would have to achieve to alleviate some of the economic and humanitarian conditions that foster a fear of immigration.

24. Would you renegotiate the NAFTA last phase that just went into effect that lifts restrictions on more U.S. agricultural products, particularly poultry, imported into Mexico?

A trade agreement that was based on a real understanding of what a "good economy" ought to mean would look at whether a crop, or a nursing home, or a widget factory, is better located in one location or another, taking into account conditions such as available renewable water supply, and not on where labor is more easily exploited.

25. Do you support canceling or renegotiating NAFTA?

Yes, see (1.) above.

26. Do you support providing subsidies for corn-based ethanol?

No. This subsidy seems to be based mostly on the fact that Iowa has early caucuses for presidential races, and that huge corporate agribusinesses want subsidies, and the oil lobbyists have figured out how to benefit. It does not take into consideration the availability of food staples to hungry people and drives the costs beyond their ability to afford.

27. Do you support the farm bill, more specifically the agricultural subsidies it contains?

Subsidies should be limited to actual persons, not corporations, and should be capped at a point that provides for real needs, or that encourages sustainable and humane practices.

28. Do you support a restructuring of trade-distorting U.S. farm subsidies?

Yes.

29. Do you support a significant shift in subsidies to help farmers adopt conservation and renewable energy practices on farms?

Yes.

30. Do you support Plan Colombia?

No.

31. Do you support Plan Mexico, which has been considered to be a duplicate of Plan Colombia?

No.

32. Do you support canceling or renegotiating Plan Mexico?

Cancel.

33. What would you do to address the racist and nativist rhetoric that is becoming mainstreamed and that is tied to a rising crime wave fueled by the same sentiment?

You cannot silence lies, but you can displace them with truth, if you give truth an adequate platform from which to speak. For example, immigrants stimulate local economies, create jobs, and pay far more in taxes than they receive in government benefits.

34. What are you going to do to take a more global approach to the issue of migration?

Migration is a natural, global phenomenon. Rather than fear it, we need to understand it and adapt to it in ways that are win-win. We need to recognize that when a wall is set on its side, a bridge is created.

35. What would you do to provide opportunities in the countries that migrants are fleeing from?

I would renegotiate NAFTA, CAFTA, Fast Track, the Caribbean FTA, the U.S.-Peru FTA and other trade agreements that have undermined labor and environmental rights and caused the loss of living-wage jobs.

36. How do you address the overwhelming amount of money the U.S. federal government spends on defense and military expenditures, at home and abroad, and would you see to it that less money is spent on militarization and more money is spent on social programs?

I would immediately bring our troops home and reinvest the money here – on health care, education, housing, and promoting a "green" economy.

37. What leadership have you taken on immigration issues, including but not limited to the issues addressed in this questionnaire?

In 2006 I voted NO on building the Mexican border fence.

38. On what immigration issues will you take leadership?

I will take action on the policies in #3.

Now that, my friends, is change I can believe in. All that’s left is pushing our new President to see the light of day as Cynthia McKinney clearly does.

Obama’s Responses to The Sanctuary Survey
McCain’s Response to The Sanctuary Survey (Interestingly, this is by far and away the most read post on UMX)

People in the Middle (for Obama)

October 29th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Vote for Hope. It’s Funky, like you.

October 29th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink


Obama ’08 – Vote For Hope from MC Yogi on Vimeo.

What Lurks Under the Folksy

October 28th, 2008 § 8 comments § permalink

Art by XOLAGRAFIK.comAN INTERESTING AND INSIGHTFUL ESSAY on how Sarah Palin, while grinning and winking and droppin’ gs galore, is tossing meat to the beasts of violence and fear that shuffle in the shadows cast by the “War On Terror” and George W. Bush and John McCain. The post deals heavily with language, which is one of my great interests and loves as most UMX readers know. And I think the writer does a fine job of making his case. It’s a scary case, and one that makes you wish you had a giant “Gong Show” hook to yank the dangerous, reckless, amoral politician off her pulpit before she can whisper any more urgent and hateful messages into the dark. And I don’t mean to focus exclusively on Palin…but I don’t think I’m alone in realizing that this person is ten times the force McCain is, launched onto her own path and trajectory, and taking things to a whole new (and terrifying) level.

The crux of the issue is simple:

1. Sarah Palin has unequivocally associated Barack Obama with the idea of terrorism and specifically with “terrorists”.

2. Republican President George Bush has defined in our National Security Strategy, and the Republican Party’s platform affirms, that we may identify and strike at terrorists before they have committed any defined acts of aggression against American citizens.

3. George Bush has made clear, by stating before a joint session of Congress that “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

4. Palin has used deliberate choice of language to avoid these connections being highlighted by the media, while increasing the likelihood that the target audience for her message will be incited by her statements.

Through these arguments, it becomes clear that Sarah Palin’s assertions are designed not to prove that Obama is unqualified for the office of the Presidency of the United States. Rather, she appears to be attempting to convince a substantial portion of her supporters that Obama supports terrorism against the United States and thus should be, at the very least, incarcerated as an enemy combatant (which we are doing to American citizens already) or at worst, assassinated for supporting terror. She has done this knowing full well that she can retain plausible deniability thanks to the ambiguity of her statements as they’ll be interpreted by the media, by her detractors, and by her more reasonable supporters.

What Sarah Palin Is Saying

Go on and read the whole post. You need to, in order to soak up the entire idea properly. It’s not a pleasant ride, but I feel an important one.

Choosing the Lesser of Two Evils…

October 28th, 2008 § 5 comments § permalink

…IS A GOOD THING TO DO! Noam Chomsky reminds us. Don’t let the tired phrase fool you into thinking it is not.

Yes—Chomsky goes on to say—both major parties are subdivisions of The Business Party, it is true. And yes, The Change and Hope rhetoric will simmer down to typical centrist Democratic rule. The Dems are not the Party of Populist opinion, after all, and our government still shows its strong roots, having grown out of a time when the framers were out to protect the (white male) landowners from the rabble. Chomsky reminds us that every time the People have claimed rights—womens suffrage, civil rights, etc—it has been because the people resisted that model. And yet, he reminds us that one party is, over time, better for the working people. And the other major party, over time, will better the lives of the richest among us at the others’ expense. So to those in swing states, he offers a few words in making what he claims is a choice that makes a difference, as well as the notion of voting a third party at this time. Finally, he opines that claiming “both parties are the same” is not only false, but essentially nothing more than showing contempt for a large part of the populace.

But check it for yourself. As always, it’s great stuff.

Ready to Strike!

October 27th, 2008 § 6 comments § permalink

HERE’S A THREE-IN-ONE FOR YA just because I love you.

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I know none of us like to think this way, but we are well aware of how much the Right does not want to let go of the grip on power they thought they had, and thought they would have forever. From Delay to Rove to Bush; from the last two stolen elections to the recent vote purge the DOJ is trying to pull, the thieving Republicans have shown us that Democracy means nada to them nor does “Truth” or “Justice” and it only follows that our vote means less to them than even a single Instant Message from an underage intern. This is not hyperbole, and you don’t need me to convince you of that.

Blogmigo Roberto Lovato (who writes in a few places you know, and whom I work with at The Sanctuary) offers us a smart and concise guide on how to prepare for the terrible possibility. And mind you: from house fires to assaults upon yourself to the possibility of martial law to stolen elections, I personally feel it is very important to be mentally prepared if not actually trained for undesirable outcomes. Your own unpreparednes or untrained state is the greatest weapon any enemy can use against you. Here’s just a small piece, and please do read and absorb the whole thing. And then vote!

History teaches us that nothing strikes fear into the hearts – and pocketbooks – of the powerful like people stopping business as usual. In the event of a stolen election, local and national work stoppages, school walkouts, protests, and other actions communicate to the government, to corporate interests, to Bertha and to the world that we will fight the decimation of democracy. If they haven’t already, labor unions, political organizers, bloggers and individuals should coordinate a global effort so that business stops, not just in the U.S., but also around the world. Even without a strong labor movement, the immigrant rights mobilization of 2006 – the largest simultaneous marches in U.S. history – proved that you can make a powerful statement simply by not showing up to work and marching instead.

What to do Before and (If Necessary) After the Election is Stolen

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I just couldn’t bear John McCain’s rotting mug on every page of my blog anymore. I really tried to let it go, because honestly I need every cent right now I get. And I did make money from people clicking through those ads. And I don’t think the ads create an endorsement by themselves. But in this last week, they felt like it to me. It’s too close, and I don’t want to be part of the poison the McPalin beast is spitting and pissing all over the nation. Nor look associated. Plus it’s getting a bit tiring explaining to commenters, who are lately telling me over and over “HEY CHECK YOUR ADS!!!! YOU HAVE MCCAIN ON YOUR SITE!” As if I’m not looking at my site every day for one reason or another! But I get the point, especially this close to such a crucial election. So broke or not, I spent a few unpaid hours today making ads that won’t pay me, but at least they are pushing in a direction I agree with. And that feels pretty good. So the day after the election, I will replace the GoogleAd scripts. If they would have given me the option to block McCain ads, I would have left their ads up, but a Pro-McCain message was dominating my blog, and I can’t have that.

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Thanks to amigo Jerry Vigil who—if you’ve been around since El Grito days you know—is a friend and fellow artist. Gracias again, I should say! Because not only did he craft the first ever action figure of The Unapologetic Mexican (see sidebar to the right) but also dropped some props in his latest interview with the Denver post! You rock, vato.

Death, be not proud. Be preposterous.

Taste sugar-sweet. Wear garish colors, adorned with sequins, glitter, marigolds and tacky accessories. String jaunty cut-paper papel picados overhead.

It’s also OK to occasionally sport a little satire in a handmade tribute commemorating Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which falls this year on Saturday.

“One of my favorites is ‘Earache, My Eye,’ from the Cheech & Chong routine, when Cheech Marin dressed as Alice Bowie,” said Colorado artist Jerry Vigil, who is particularly celebrated for the saucy skeleton creations he calls muertolitos (“little dead ones”).

Some of his muertolitos, more commonly known as calaveras, are featured in “Day of the Dead Crafts,” a project-oriented book he co-wrote with Kerry Arquette and Andrea Zocchi. Cross-dressing ballerina Alice Bowie is not in the book, but another favorite, inspired by the blogger Unapologetic Mexican, stands proudly on Page 31. Vigil calls this plaid-clad muertolito, with its cheesy grin and admonishing finger, “the UMX Action figure.”

A deadhead’s craft

All right amigos, I’m outta here. Got to move around a bit. Hope you had a great Monday! We’re almost there!

Si Somos Americanos – If We Are (All) Americans

October 27th, 2008 § 3 comments § permalink


sombrero tip to el duderino abiding en bolivia for this clip and image below

Evo Morales rallies supportersAS YOU MAY KNOW, Bolivia’s Evo Morales is ushering in change, much like some others speak of today. Change that among other things, shifts the flow of resources so long aimed at the wealthy, aiming to make life fairer for those toiling in their shadows and for their benefit.

After months of street battles and political meetings, a new draft of the Bolivian constitution was ratified by Congress on October 21. A national referendum on whether or not to make the document official is scheduled for January 25, 2009.

“Now we have made history,” President Evo Morales told supporters in La Paz. “This process of change cannot be turned back…neoliberalism will never return to Bolivia.” […]

Given Morales’ support across the country, this new constitution is expected to pass in the January 2009 referendum. “The public support expressed for [Morales] Monday, coming on top of the 67 percent vote of confidence he was given in the Aug. 10 recall referendum, make it clear that he is the most popular president in the last 26 years of democracy in Bolivia,” Franz Chavez reported in IPS News.

The draft constitution includes, among other things, changes to allow the redistribution of land and gas wealth to benefit the majority of the country, and give increased rights to indigenous people.

Bolivia Rejects Neoliberalism

Also (and I’m sure it’s in no way related) in the news is that the USA has cut off trade with Bolivia after Evo Morales booted out the US ambassador, accused of supporting Morales’ opposition as well as kicking out DEA agents from the Coca growing region of Chapare. The corrupt Bush/Condaleeza faction claims DrugWarBlahBlah, while Evo Morales compares the punitive sanctions to the harm being wreaked on Cuba and yet tells his people not to fear. And clearly they are not.

Change, simón. It’s happening all over.

A Loathsome Day On Parade

October 25th, 2008 § 24 comments § permalink

SPEAKING OF THROES AND SPITTING AND HISSING, this short montage of McCain Palin disciples reacting to Obama supporters is just amazing.

sombrero tip to digby

Watching, my heart raced faster and faster and when it was over I…I let the sadness wash through me as it had to for a few moments. The bold ignorance and hate and bigotry is…terrifying. And sad. And loathesome. And real. This is really a part of our nation. And it’s been in the air and the water and the books and the tvs and movies and my own days in various forms for all my life. This energy takes people’s lives every day in some part of this land. And it is the same energy that inspired me to begin El Grito, after all. It was just pointed at Mexicans, not Muslims, “Socialists,” “Communists, ” or what most of that is code for these days: African Americans.

How do we leave behind this type of view? How do we cut it loose? It has been a part of the USA from the start. Do we advance past it, heal past it just by living and talking about these things? Time passing? Natural change?

We are doing it now, aren’t we? Step by step.

Fear, yes. Loathing, yes. Revulsion, yes and sadness, too. But I am also very excited because I feel we actually move closer to purging—no…simply engaging, or recognizing—some of the ghosts here in even these instances as of late, these spiritually sulphurous expulsions of violent energy and racism. At least on a large, collective level. Part of that shift in dialogue and awareness is vastly facilitated by the Internet, of course. And we move closer not by electing a black man per se, but rather by meeting these conflicts together and suddenly being forced to discuss them (which of course only rise because of Obama’s candidacy). When I first wrote that piece about The Haunted Land, I don’t know, even, if Obama had begun to run. In this short, short span of time, we have confronted ideas in the public dialogue that seem to have hurled us huge distances forward. (And a large part of that has been Senator Obama, too.) Perhaps only in relation to the progress I felt I had seen in my own sentient lifetime (again, very short!), but yet…I feel more hope than I did when I wrote that Haunted Land entry. Not because of a logo on a blue press pass stuck to my corkboard (I have the Hillary creds up there too!) but because I didn’t imagine I’d see these moments play out in front of me. As scary as they are. They are surreal to me. Because all I can really associate them with—in the very political frame this hate exists in here—is what I’ve seen on film of the civil rights struggle.

Of course it is good not to let a YouTube world seem to be all the world. What is isolated into a frame becomes vast. An uplifting thought is that this is definitely the minority in our country! That’s how I see it. Not blacks, browns, gays, others. The real minority here are these hateful, ignorant fools. Sadly, Bush and his evil cohorts tapped into the darker parts of the human psyche and really scrambled some brains and pulses. But as scary as it can feel when this crowd projects their own fears upon us, we can at least take comfort in the idea that they are not the model of the future. They are remnants of the past.

Yet this, combined with the ongoing assault on mi gente…it is scary. It makes me angry. It’s a dangerous time. But it gives me hope, too. Turbulence is a signature of change. Always I stand ready with my chocolate amigo@s. Now, more than ever, I want to lend what I can to them. And, siempre, mi gente.

And you!

Final Throes of the Big Boss Monster

October 25th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

The Final Boss in Super Metroid Prime

ITS FUNNY to see the GOP double down on Bush. Not so much “funny-haha” but “funny-wtf.” Or perhaps “Funny-freaky.” Scary! I mean, talk about “out of touch.” Is that a regular Republican trait? Because each Republican president lately gets tagged with the phrase, and rightfully so! Or…maybe both parties (because realistically, we only have two) get tagged with the phrase regularly because they are rich people who have often forgotten, for the most part, what it is like to live hand to mouth, as so many Americans do (or never have done so). I’m sure there’s a few reasons.

But honestly, it does impress me. The blindness. Some of these fools reallllly think that what the country as a whole (or a majority, rather) wants is George W. Bush? But a version that takes him even further? When we are all fried and frazzled over the last 8 years and can hardly imagine Bush being pushed further? Forget McCain. We know that poor man is not much longer for this world. We know who wears the pantyhose in that little coupling. With all of McCain’s rage and bluster, Palin comes across as much tougher, still. Her energy is raw, hungry, bright. His is ill, knotted, spurled.

And she is not “Bush in a skirt.” She is Bush on steroids. The Great Divider, Redux. Fundie Messiah Notions? √ Anti-Science? √ Eager to grab excess power? √ Incurious and uneducated on current events? √

She thinks we live in Last Times and that Alaska is a refuge area when the shit goes down (and clearly is ready to execute secession when signs present), she is so ignorant of science and public good and the dangers of abusing power that she publicly, from her campaign pulpit, promotes ignorance by promising to cut funds for science because it is paying for the study of “fruitflies in Paris” without realizing that there are hugely important scientific and physiological reasons why and what this research has yielded for human beings, including those who suffer from Autism (her own nephew). She, before even being elected, is pushing her authority past the prescribed and allowed boundaries, and all the while she masks her incompetence and agenda with a folksy, regalurfolk façade (no link needed). We could go on, too about politicizing the government (Troopergate) and being brought into an arena of power for which you are woefully unprepared and dangerously unqualified.

And this, even in the face of Bush’s tanked approval numbers. Even with so many signs that people, on the whole, want to move in a new direction.

And yet…it is like the Boss Monster on the final level of a video game. (and I don’t mean just this month. I mean over a longer arc. I think we can all feel the stirrings of history, here.) Just before you break through to hear that victory music and watch the animation play out that you only see once you beat the game; just before you lean back smiling and bubbling up inside with a rush of endorphins (yes, video games can be that good), the Boss Monster gets hella crazy. Heads sprout, heads split open, brains peer out, roars and shrieks fill the air, wings uncurl and spin like helicopter blades, a foul mist envelops you…all kinds of danger and theatrics drop down on the scene. And the Boss Monster is not just the McCain Campaign, clearly. It’s the GOP methodology. It’s too much of our USA policy and for too long. It’s exceptionalist swagger and racist campaigning. It’s Othering and Division. It’s Trickle Down Greedonomica. I dare to hope it is all this. And more.

So, here, now. The Final flailing before falling. A moment fraught with ugliness and violence and yet with wild hope and excitement that the stinking, vile, carcass of indecency and evil intent will lay in pieces on the ground.

Friday Música Double Feature – Pura Locura Version

October 24th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

SAVE THIS PAGE for las horas esta noche cuando la energía is ramping up and you are gettin loose you betcha cuz here is some Republikan-shattering love-infested color-bestreaked and papaya-shaking música para ti!

First up, La China’s En el Aszensor, (stylized spelling of “In the Elevator”) where la mujer sings mi coche in a tone that makes me feel like i oughtta be blushing. (my car) Very hot.

Also very hot is this punkadeliciouso neonpop-hued number by Spam called Más:


sombrero tip to la mala for this numba!

Enjoy!

Barack Obama For Jeff Merkley

October 24th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

AS I DO LIVE IN THE BEAVER STATE, where Jeff Merkley is campaigning, I figured I should post this endorsement by the hottest new blue brand in the land.

Friday Música Double Feature – 100% Feliz Edition!

October 24th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

ECHOING A RECENT musical post built on the NezDualityEngine™ we again give you two sides of the coin from which to choose, or perhaps of both become imbued. OH SNAP, as I said 100% Feliz Fuel in this badboy’s tank. (Now I just have to work the word “gainsay” into my rap and I’ll sound educated!)

First up, Maligno por Colombian band Aterciopelados.

Beautiful filmmaking in that one, to illustrate the tortured sentiment so well. And now, from the same group, your sparkling dose of feliz with Mi Vida Brilla.

Happy Friday amig@s!

Pelosi Suggests Permanent U.S. Slave Class

October 23rd, 2008 § 7 comments § permalink

BURIED in the final paragraphs of this article, the Democratic Speaker of the House offers the LA Times a shocking idea: That millions of immigrants now in the USA—who are currently a deeply-enmeshed part of our commerce and communities—might be relegated to a permanent status of neither citizenship or deportee. What is left after you strike those two possibilities? As Duke said, an indentured class.

The estimated 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally “are part of the U.S. economy. We cannot send them all home, and we cannot send them all to jail, so we have to address it,” Pelosi said.

Any solution would have to be bipartisan, she said, so it may require sacrificing some of Democrats’ past priorities, such as giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

“Maybe there never is a path to citizenship if you came here illegally,” Pelosi said. “I would hope that there could be, but maybe there isn’t.”

Pelosi says Congress unlikely to approve tax rebate before President Bush leaves office

Updated Link, as LA Times one has been yanked offline.

DREAMactivist points out right away that many New Americans (migrants/immigrants) were in fact brought here. So what does Pelosi’s quote mean in that context? If the immigrant in question didn’t “Come here illegally,” but is a child who was brought here illegally? Does Nancy Pelosi believe that the child should then be relegated to detention? An indentured status? Permanent US Guest Worker in the Land of the Free?

Surely, Nancy Pelosi is in a position to realize that undocumented migrants are not undocumented out of choice–we CANNOT become legal no matter how much we want to. Hello? What part of legal immigration don’t you understand? Those of us brought here by our parents illegally CANNOT become legal without legislation such as the DREAM Act or Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Additionally, requiring us to go home means a 10-year ban and separation from our families–what sort of family unification plan is that?

Nancy Pelosi Sells Out to the Immigration Reform Foes

And of those who are not brought here by parents, but who make these horrific and risky journeys to become Americans, Jeff Yang (and Karen Narasaki) has some words worth considering:

“We’re now in an era [where politicians imply] gradations of American-ness,” says Karen Narasaki, executive director of the Asian American Justice Center. “People in small towns are more American than those who live in cities. People in the middle of the country are more American than people who live on the coasts. People who live in New York, L.A., San Francisco, well, they’re not really ‘American’ at all, which is fascinating, because those are the cities that epitomize America to the entire rest of the world.”

On this gradated scale, immigrants are the least American of all, despite the fact that they of all people have made the conscious choice to embrace America, rather than being American by accident of birth.

“As [former congressman and Secretary of Transportation] Norm Mineta is fond of saying, ‘Immigrants leave the country of their birth to come to the country of their heart,'” says Narasaki. “It puzzles me why people would think that naturalized citizens are somehow ‘less American’ than people born here.”

American by choice

Maybe I’m being a tiny bit extreme in my titling of this post. And yet, I’m not sure how else to handle this ongoing antipathy that Democrats have toward addressing immigration in realistic, humane, timely, and American way. Remember, the whole idea of the USA is built on people leaving bad situations to find opportunity, to find their dream in a land of liberty and freedom. When I try to square that feel-good babble with the way migrants are being ignored and exploited today, I get the same feeling as when my high school so many years ago tried to force me to stand with everyone and mindlessly chant Amerikan pablum to a flag. (And yes I refused and yes at 15 in 1984 I was not part of some popular movement it was just me and no I don’t Hate America™, but I do detest outright hypocrisy and manipulation and groupthink).

I’d love to believe in the USA’s ideals. In fact, I do believe in many of them because as penned, they are damn good ideals. But we ain’t living them in far too many instances. So if Democrats are going to back away from this before they even make it in the White House, what the hell can we expect from them once in power? Oh, how that Nancy Pelosi loves to swipe things off the table…

Still think that electoral politics is going to solve the immigration issue? Or that being a Democrat means a magic answer to save Latinos once we, as a sleeping giant that everyone keeps talking about, vote? Gracias to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is keeping it real by stepping away from offering a path to citizenship to immigrants.

Nancy Pelosi Proves that Dems Aren’t Immigrant Friendly Either

I hope they don’t think that they can ignore the hardships of millions of people and their families and friends and still have a faithful constituency. This is not the days of old, my friends. Things are changing in this nation, this nation is made of change. Don’t miss the boat, Dems. Don’t assume that you have a free ride in this two-party system.

I for one am not going to sit back and quietly give the Democratic Party a pass on immigrant rights. Nancy Pelosi–and the party more broadly–needs to understand that we will make noise about this. If they believe they can sell immigrant communities down the river AGAIN next year, we will show them otherwise.

If they thought we’ve been tough on the GOP, they haven’t seen anything yet. The thing is, we didn’t expect the Bush administration to listen to us. They have ignored us for the last 8 years; we grew accustomed to it.

PELOSI BACKTRACKS ON COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM

DREAMactivist points out a good reason why we suddenly may be hearing this retraction now (and in various places, so don’t let me hear about a “misquote” or “misstatement.”)

Because Democrats are receiving cash infusions from the Prison Industrial Complex.

In the late 1990s, the Corrections Corp of America (CCA) overbuilt many detention facilities following the “if you build it, they will come” rule. According to Anton Hie, an analyst in the Nashville office of Jefferies and Co. who covered industry leader Corrections Corporation of America and its closest competitor, the GEO Group, “There was a lot of promise of new inmates that never came … It kind of all came crashing in.” States stopped contracting after high-profile escapes, riots and other scandals and subsequently, stocks came crashing down.

In 2000, the CCA had reported a net loss of $253.5 million but that is history with a 470% boom in immigrant detention over the past 15 years. CCA finally banged a lucrative deal that year–the former INS came to their rescue to house 1000 detainees at the CCA-owned San Diego Mesa Facility, and hence, saved the private detention industry from collapse, giving rise what Roberto Lovato and other prominent scholars call the migrant-prison complex. With 32,000 immigrants behind bars, some indefinitely await hearings, some commit suicide, some are dehumanized and abused, and others sedated with psychotropic drugs upon deportation, the numbers are only growing for ICE, CCA and sadly, the numbers behind bars. Today, the ICE, U.S. Marshals and Bureau of Prisons account for 40% of CCA’s revenue (13% from ICE at $1.5 billion)–which controls a little under half the private prison beds in America. Last year, the CCA reported a net profit of $133 million.

exposing the real ‘business’ of immigrant detention – cca

So it’s very simple and very sick and very sad. The USA’s philosophies of profit and punishment have morphed out of control and created a perfect chasm where millions of human beings can be shoved and slid and trapped into being both captive and battery in this machine…and only certain “fringe elements” of our culture will make a big deal out of it.

The thing is…the Democratic leaders abdicating their duties to the People and the ideals of the land make a mistake in their math. This is no fringe element. We are millions strong and we grow every day. I work with many impassioned and educated and active and intelligent people who lend their extensive abilities and efforts to this fight every day. And as saddened and cynical as I have become about humans in my life, I still nurture my belief in the human heart and sense of Right. I still believe eventually the number of us who see this situation as a crime against our purported and stated ideals will grow yet larger and much more visible. I still feel that in most cases of wrong being done, all it takes is thinking, feeling people getting the real facts of a situation.

Factor this into your talk about Change, Democratic politicians. Or ware the consequence.

—–
update: UndergroundUndergrads have the right idea, capping off their post with this:

Lastly, if you want to let Speaker Pelosi that a path to citizenship is vital to immigration reform, give her a call. Her number is (415) 556-4862.

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