OK, I'm on a roll. In my second Practical Pauline post today, I want to alert you (again) to Target's fantastic prescription medication program.
Here's the deal.
Step 1: If you are taking a prescription medication, look it up online to get the name of the generic equivalent.
Step 2: Find the Target nearest you. Go to its pharmacy website. Download the PDF file of its covered generic medications.
If you locate your generic there, you're in luck!
Step 3: Contact your doctor and ask her or him to prescribe the generic equivalent in either the 1-month or 3-month supply, and request that s/he call in the prescription to Target. (Have the Target pharmacy phone number ready). Target offer a 1-month supply for $4, or a 3-month supply for a fantastic $10. What's not to love?
Even if your doctor wants to see you before changing your prescriptions, it's so worth it.
We just saved something like $2,000 a year. No kidding.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
OK, I'm on a roll. In my second Practical Pauline post today, I want to alert you (again) to Target's fantastic prescription medication program.
Governor Janet has a new "gas tips" department on her website that includes lots of useful stuff. Thanks, Gov!
I recommend a visit.
I especially like the cheapest gas in your zipcode link and the trip fuel costs calculator. You enter the year, make, and model of your car, and your destination, and the calculator will give you the round-trip and one-way cost of your gas, to the penny, based on the average cost of gas in the Southwest
($3.82 thanks Bush)
Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.
The Republican-dominated Oklahoma legislature is defining the frontier of xenophobic immigration laws, anti-Muslim bigotry, gay bashing and encouragement of gun-toting students – with Democratic legislators often too timid to resist.And that's just for starters!
Rep. Randy Terrill, Republican chairman of the Revenue and Taxation Committee, has emerged as a hero of the “protect our borders” crowd by authoring a law – known as HB1804 – that makes it a felony even to give an illegal immigrant a ride.
Terrill is the poster boy for tyrannical excess. If he were in Iraq, his name would be Saddam Hussein, for the only thing between Terrill and public executions of gays, Muslims, and the very undocumented workers who've kept OK in the black for decades is a piece of paper. Republicans' increasingly violent projections, masked as righteous indignation, point to deep recesses of psychopathology that nothing, least of all reason, can penetrate.
Democrats had better find the spine to repudiate the GOP's 8-year frolic in sadism--legalized torture, GLBT witch hunts, midnight roundups, sanctioned harrassment, detention and brutalization, unprovoked invasion, wrack and ruin, and a million dead Iraqis--or OK will be our Brave New World.
That's not OK. There's nothing to be gained from silence and acquiescence except more terror, more death, more torture, more hate, more sadistic public policy. By which I mean that if you, yourself, are not working daily to return us to our defining principles (see Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights), then you are complicit. It's that simple. There are no good silent, intimidated Americans.
If you know any Democrats in the OK legislature, get on the phone and ram some backbone where the sun don't shine.
And then mind your own state house.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Here's to America's First Combat Paratroopers, the heroic 509th and all the selfless, brave, and honorable gentlemen who gave their lives and limbs and life-long inner peace to help defeat the Third Reich in North Africa and Italy. Here's all my love for my dad who lost an eye in North Africa. There was never a better man. Dad, I remember and I always will. I love you and I'm so proud of you.
There’s lots of chatter about partisanship lately. Both Matthew Yglesias and Liberal Desert think it’s a good thing.
Yglesias’ argument for partisanship hinges on his notion that “[s]trong clashes between coherent parties aren’t a sign that the country is flying apart—they mean we’re getting along better than we think.”
Could have fooled me. If being partisan had anything to do with coherent parties, maybe it would be a synonym for being principled. Unfortunately, partisanship doesn’t mean voting according to principle. In fact, it has a distinctly negative meaning, for good reason.
To Yglesias: It’s not clear to me that Republicans especially have anything even approaching party coherence—if that has anything to do with the traditional positions of Democrats and Republicans on government, spending, taxation, state’s rights, foreign affairs, regulation, business, welfare, civil rights, privacy, and the Constitution.
In fact, I can sum up what I see as raging Republican incoherence just by noting a couple of ideological contradictions among its three factions: traditional old-time small-government moderates, radical social reactionaries, and Darwinian corporatists. The latter two, for different reasons, are making hash of traditional Republican stands on foreign intervention, privacy, and spending, for instance. Item: Globalization, passionately supported by Republicans, is virulent foreign intervention. A foreign policy driven by the Rapture is foreign intervention. Domestic spying and consumer marketing built on mammoth databases of the minutest details of our lives are leading the Freepers, who went ballistic over Janet Reno, to very odd places. And state’s rights, a traditional Republican bedrock, are fine, apparently, except when they’re not fine, as in socially progressive stands that then trigger rash constitutional amendment frenzies. Sort of like democracy at home and abroad, which is also fine except when the people make the “wrong” choices.
Like Yglesias, Liberal Desert’s argument for partisanship turns on the assumption that it’s better than the alternative: “The next time a candidate denounces partisanship, consider the last time we had a bipartisan, across-the-board consensus, where politicians put party aside and did what they thought best for the entire country: We invaded Iraq.”
Well, yes, but we were deluded and lied to. To my way of thinking, being stampeded by lies and fear is not a good example of sound consensus decision making. I could be wrong about that, but I like to think a fairer example of bipartisanship is more along the lines of the recent Congressional approval of major increases in benefits for war veterans. There is a clear question of core party values here unobscured by lying about Saddam's WMD. To wit: Is it part of the government’s responsibility to repay war vets for their sacrifices through health care, education and housing subsidies, and the like, or is that just another bleeding heart, tax-and-spend liberal policy?
No partisan Republican would ever vote for increasing veterans’ benefits because it is a case of misuse of government. Just ask McCain and Bush.
Is partisanship a good thing? I guess it depends what you mean by “partisanship.” It certainly doesn’t mean hewing to a coherent political philosophy. That’s principled consistency, not partisanship.
Partisanship means mindlessly toeing the party line, acting in lockstep regardless of the merits. It is a knee-jerk, biased, and ultimately lightweight approach to the heavy responsibilities of governing, and it’s not a good thing, ever.
For instance, voting for (or against) the “patriot" acts without reading them first is partisan--an utterly irresponsible abdication. So, too, the Terri Schiavo vote. Both bills violated fundamental Republican principles, yet both were supported by Republicans almost to a person. That’s partisanship. Its consequences are extravagantly dangerous to our way of life.
A footnote: There’s a reason many of us can’t define partisanship. For amost eight years, the White House has intentionally confounded partisanship with voting on principle. Democrats’ opposition to Bush judicial nominees, Bush environmental policies, and Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are always described in Republican talking points as “partisanship.”
But that’s not accurate. No Democrat would support a nominee like Janice Rodgers Brown, or a plan to lower air quality standards, or placing America’s tax burden only on its wage earners. No Democrat would go along with these monuments to Republican ideology, on principle.
Friday, May 23, 2008
A Tuesday fundraiser headlined by President Bush for U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign is being moved out of the Phoenix Convention Center.Eeeeeeuw. In his home state, even.
Sources familiar with the situation said the Bush-McCain event was not selling enough tickets to fill the Convention Center space, and that there were concerns about more anti-war protesters showing up outside the venue than attending the fundraiser inside.
Another source said there were concerns about the media covering the event.
Think the Phoenicians know something 'bout they homeboy?
It's cool to dismiss fears about encroaching fascism as "tinfoil-hat" stuff. It's maybe too cool.
There's been a little hooha over on Feathered Bastard about whether the Homeland Security Department's published "Endgame" plan amounts to anything. Stephen Lemons writes:
Despite the occasional references to the humane treatment of detainees, and a meek, brief discussion of alternatives to incarceration, the plan seems perfectly suited to the paranoid mental playgrounds of left-wing tinfoil-hat types. But the document itself is all too real. And even if the conspiracy theories it has spawned are straight from planet woo, this post-9/11 detention and removal strategy still has a creepy, Orwellian feel to it.I have two problems with the "planet woo" dismissal. One, no evaluation, no assessment, no measure of anything takes place in a vacuum. What's as important as the thing itself is its context. And two, what if the woo theorists are wrong?
What the tin-hat lampooners miss is the context. It's not just about a published plan to round up "aliens" entitled "Endgame." It's about the context in which this document was written and will be implemented. Who wrote it? What is the political ideology of the Administration charged with implementing it? Have any other of its actions warranted constitutional or human rights concern? Are current arrests, deportations, and detentions happening under this plan being conducted acceptably, with due process and respect for constitutional rights and guarantees? Are there racist, national supremacist, corporatist and other troubling taints in this plan? What does the selection of particular words like "Endgame" suggest?
This Administration has earned enormous concern about its pronounced fascist tendencies, and I'm hardly the first to note them. Given its disdain for the balance of powers, its fondness for torture, its demonizing of political opponents as "traitors," its channeling of vast federal resources to benefit large corporate crony interests, its confounding of fundamentalist ideology with the State, its partisan and policy attacks on liberals, progressives, women, GLBT people, and people of color, its private, Christianist mercenary army, and its penchant for privatized prisons with zero accountability, no rational person would regard the "Endgame" document as anything but alarming.
Not to mention this, from the Massachusetts ACLU:". . . Endgame uses tactics similar to the ethnic cleansing we saw in the Balkans during the 1990s -- lightning raids, mass arrests, packed detention centers, and mass deportations. . . ."
Or this from ICE spokesman Vinnie Picard about "Endgame":
"I would characterize it by saying that we’re focusing our priorities not so much on dates but on other kinds of goals. . . Like reducing the percentage of foreign-born criminals in the state jails here in Arizona.Well, I've sure noticed that, haven't you? So tell me, if that's been the focus, how come Governor Janet had to redirect Arpaio's enforcers to that very purpose? If that was the priority, how come Arpaio was going after mere undocumented workers in their beds?
No small discrepancy, that. It indicates either that Picard is badly misinformed, or that ICE and Arpaio are wildcatting, or that the stated priority really isn't the priority after all. Deeds speak louder than words.
So much more could be said, about individuals who've simply disappeared in detention, or been molested or beaten; about a baby snatched out of a parent's arms in a public mall; about Mexicans deported to Guatemala and vice versa, without money or passport or papers; about unexplained deaths in detention centers; about the use of taxpayer funds to build detention centers for the exclusive profit of private, well connected individuals; about the nasty revolving door between the boards of the privatized prison industry and public officials.
And so much more could be said about the language in that document. "Endgame"? Echoes of "Final Solution" are hard to miss. That doesn't make the plan inevitably analogous to gas chambers, but it sure suggests that the powers who wrote and approved it wanted us to be mindful that history does repeat itself. I, for one, don't like attempts to intimidate me, particularly from representatives sworn to uphold our Constitution and Bill of Rights. So I take it fairly seriously when they do try to intimidate me. I regard that as a real and significant warning that those in power are veering sharply off track.
Two, what if the tinfoil-hat lampooners are wrong and those of us who smell danger turn out to be right? It'll be too late then to say, "I told you so." As that's the case, I tend to look at ridiculing the cautious among us as both unwise and unhelpful. Remember Pastor Martin Niemoeller?
A massive network of privatized prisons and a frenzy of official terrorizing and abuse directed at the nation's Latinos--not undocumented workers exclusively, at all-- is a situation that every one of us is required to look at in light of the Constitution and history. We have a duty to be skeptical and to be outraged when we see these abuses of power, and a duty to stop them.
As to what they portend for the rest of us, it wouldn't be the first time that this nation has rounded up potential political enemies, would it? It wouldn't be the first time that a prominent, civilized western government has been murderously deranged, either.
Somewhere in our founding documents it says that Americans have the right and the duty to remove any government that acts unjustly.
As I was browsing the Internet looking for that citation, I stumbled across the obscure story of a Breton priest named Lamennais (1782-1854)whom the Catholic hierarchy chose to condemn not once but twice.
Lamennais expressed eloquently the concepts our own founding documents express. These, therefore, are the only principles that should govern any genuine patriot in this country now. Take a look. I'm hoping that seeing them expressed in a different form will give them new meaning, and maybe inspire us to remember where we come from.
On freedom of conscience:
"Those who persecute in the name of Jesus, who probe people’s consciences with the sword, who torture the body in order to convert the soul, who make tears flow rather than wipe them do not have the spirit of Jesus."
On liberty: "Liberty should be equal for all, or it is assured for no one."
On the rights of the governed:
"When people speak to you of those who have great power and say: ‘Behold your master!’ Don’t believe it. If those in authority are just, then they are your servants; if they are not, they are tyrants. Everyone is born equal: no one coming into this world carries with him the right to command."
This gives new meaning to "all the news that's fit to print."
Truthout reports that on May 1, the day of international labor solidarity, 25,000 American longshoremen struck across California ports to protest continuing US involvement in Iraq.
Across 29 California ports, as many as 25,000 longshoremen - members of the firebrand International Longshore & Warehouse Union - refused to show up for work in protest of the U.S. military presence in Iraq. Activity at the ports was significantly diminished on May 1 - the international day of labor solidarity. Labor historians interviewed by The Washington Independent were hard-pressed to remember the last anti-war labor strike of this magnitude.Well, our national media picked right up on that, didn't they? Is it official yet? Do we have government-controlled media in the USA?
The ILWU tied the war to the turbulence in the global economy to explain their action. "Big foreign corporations that control global shipping aren't loyal or accountable to any country," said Bob McEllrath, president of the union, in a prepared statement. "For them it's all about making money. But longshore workers are different. We're loyal to America, and we won't stand by while our country, our troops, and our economy are destroyed by a war that's bankrupting us to the tune of 3trillion dollars. It's time to stand up, and we're doing our part today."
From the Washington Post this morning:
As expected, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has decided to hold off on its investigation of indicted Rep. Rick Renzi (R) out of deference to the Justice Department's own probe of the Arizonan.Yeah, and don't hold your breath for the Justice Department investigation. It's an election year, and even if it weren't, as we know, this Justice Department doesn't do Republicans.
Renzi was indicted in February on 35 counts of money laundering, extortion and other offenses related to a federal land-swap scheme and his alleged embezzlement of money from his own company to fund his first House campaign. The ethics panel announced a week later that it was forming an investigative subcommittee to probe Renzi's actions.
But the committee is traditionally hesitant to interfere with federal investigations, and the investigative subcommittee "has voted to refrain at this time from attempting to interview or depose witnesses linked to the criminal proceedings" against Renzi after receiving "a communication" from Justice asking it to do so. The subcommittee will remain in existence and could start the probe up again in the future, but Renzi is not running for reelection and will be out of the ethics panel's jurisdiction by the end of the year.[Emphasis added throughout.]
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Two bits of news today that might be of interest to our AZ state legislature.
One: A just-released April 2008 economic analysis shows a LOSS of $1.757 TRILLION in spending, a LOSS of $651.511 billion in output, and a LOSS of 8.1 million jobs nationwide if current hard-line Rightwing expulsion policies are pursued.
This is not news in Arizona, reeling from severe losses in both the construction and the agriculture sectors due to hard-line anti-immigrant policies championed by GOP leaders like Rep. Russell Pearce and his allies.
The study is titled "An Analysis of the Economic Impact of Undocumented Workers on Business Activity in the US with Estimate Effects by State and Industry." A PDF file can be downloaded from Americans for Immigration Reform.
Two, AP reports that AZ GOP Rep. John Kavanagh's bill to prevent day laborers from seeking jobs at public streets, sidewalks, and even certain private property made it through our state legislature:
Initial OK given to Senate bill on day laborersWhat Kavanagh says and the truth seem to have nothing in common. His bill is an attack on documented and undocumented Latino day laborers--specifically those at the Macehualli Center and others that might develop like it. It also targets citizens and green-card holders from waiting in areas near home repair stores and garden centers looking for day jobs, and would affect immigrants, citizens, resident aliens, Latinos, Anglos, African Americans, and everybody else who does free-lance day labor.
May. 20, 2008 01:29 PM
A bill to prohibit day laborers from seeking work on public streets and sidewalks and private property under some circumstances is nearing the finish line at the Legislature but faces an uncertain fate after that.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh. The Fountain Hills Republican says it applies both to day laborers and those who hire them.
The state Senate on Monday gave preliminary approval to the House-passed bill.
Kavanagh says the bill is intended to lessen the traffic disruptions caused by day laborers and, as a secondary benefit, help lessen the state's problems with illegal immigration.
I call it the "Keep Arizonans Unemployed Act, Part II," and can't tell you how much I look forward to Parts III and IV.
Obviously, Arizona's Republican lawmakers have decided to declare all-out war on the state's economy. Maybe it's retaliation for that Clinton vote in 2000?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Something we should probably read, soon. A New Documentary Draws Stark Parallels Between Chile Under Pinochet and the Post-9/11 "War on Terror"
By Sophia A. McClennen, AlterNet. Posted May 17, 2008
A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman is an indictment of torture and a powerful study of individual and collective memory.
From Media Matters today:
On the May 21 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh asserted that "one of the objectives of the feminazis over the last 20, 25 years has been to dominate the public education system so as to remove the competitive nature of boys. You know, there's a crisis of young man-boy education in the schools. And they did this on purpose, to eliminate male competition in the work force. This is part of feminazi grand plan."OK, see, wouldn't we have had to do more than merely advocate for equal education opportunities for girls and women to "remove the competitive nature of boys"?
Like, maybe, capture them all and drain their testosterone one little gonad at a time? Or round up all the daddies and mommies and take the competition gene right out of their DNA?
Rush again broadcasts his weakness as a person and as a man. He's telling us that just the search for female equality so threatens him that he feels justified in surrendering his honor and integrity. In public, yet.
He's fine with lying right out loud, with demonizing people who disagree with him, and with distorting the public record. He's fine with misleading people who are less informed and weaker than he is. That makes him sociopathic and generally unfit for the company of decent people.
Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Bush, Lott, Tancredo, Bill Donohue, Hagee, Robertson, McCain--guys like that may as well brand giant "Is" in their foreheads, for Insecure. For, what they say is really very telling. Over and over they light up in neon the core flaw in men of the Bush Davidian Right. To feel secure, capable, and competent, they have to stand on top of somebody else. If it's not Iraq, women, or Latinos, well, there're always Black people. To wit:
Limbaugh then said, "They forgot affirmative action for black guys. And because of that, every bit of their plan has gone up in smoke now, because they -- if -- they had to come out in favor of affirmative action for black guys, and that's -- see, this is one of the things that really irritates the women. And there are women all over this country fit to be tied -- trust me on this. ... [L]iberals eventually are going to be devoured by their own policies. And it has happened here. Because [Sen.] Barack Obama is an affirmative action candidate." He concluded, "So, it's just -- they just forgot that one thing: affirmative action for black guys. And if they had remembered to oppose that, then they wouldn't face the situation they face today."Mmmmmm, cute and coherent, too!
If these guys don't get clear of that gaping inferiority complex very soon, or we don't clear them out of the halls of power, they'll take us all down.
Monday, May 19, 2008
A comment a close friend of Pico's just posted on Daily Kos:
Unless we believe that terrorizing people is a good strategy for (a) misdemeanor offenders and (b) enhancing the world's political support for the USA, then we'd be well advised to drop this war on immigrants.
It's not the people we need to smack down. It's the deliberate use of immigration policy to provide greedy employers like Agriprocessor with a steady stream of undocumented workers who can be intimidated, cheated, and abused and who have NO recourse. For you anti-immigrants out there: If that's not the reason why our INS/ICE policies haven't changed in 50 years, pray do tell me what is. Follow the money.
Today it's the Guatemalans in meat packing companies. Before, it was Lithuanians, Poles, Vietnamese, and Mexicans. This is an age-old ladder that the industry has depended on since Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, about exploited people in Chicago's meat packing houses. That was like 1909. The most desperate and vulnerable take the worst, nastiest, and most dangerous jobs. Then they progress up the ladder to citizenship and are assimilated. See Leys' article in yesterday's Des Moines Register for more about that history.
Nativists offer us two choices: Either grow your own meat and produce, or ignore undocumented immigrants. That's because if you drive them away, either your chicken price will go through the roof or your chicken factory will move to Mexico, and won't that be great for Postville!
The rest of us offer a better solution: A new New Deal, no more exploited workers from anywhere, including home-grown, and an end to so-called "free trade" and globalization.
Either we all hang together for global worker rights and decent pay, benefits, and conditions, or we'll all hang together. It's not rocket science.
Mean loves stupid and stupid loves mean. It's axiomatic. When we stoop to this, we demean ourselves, our flag, our country, and our global honor.
This isn't what my WWII Paratrooper Captain dad lost his eye for. He'd be sickened by what we've let ourselves buy in the co-opted names of "patriotism" and "Christian," because only cowards resort to torture and terror.
If you, too, think that attacking poor people who work hard at the nation's dirtiest job is not the right way to deal with the decades-old corrupt immigration/employer dance of immigrant exploitation, please take a moment to visit this site.
Standing FIRM, part of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, provides information here for how you can provide desperately needed help to the 400 people whose lives were reversed this week in Postville, IA.
Pico thanks you.
California utility asks FERC to step into power line dispute with ArizonaGee, I'm really not sure I want CA and Con Ed dictating where my state puts power lines, and based on this Administration's handling of Federal energy issues (think Enron and old ladies), I'm darn I don't want the Fed handling it.
After Arizona regulators denied Southern California Edison's request to build a 230-mile power transmission line between Phoenix and Palm Springs, the utility company asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin the process to override Arizona's denial, and if FERC complies, it would be the first such decision under new legislation that established "national interest" energy corridors. Los Angeles Times; May 19
Although Con Ed says I shouldn't, I do feel threatened. If I'm wrong, will someone who knows a lot about this issue please inform me? TIA.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Today on NOVA, I heard the usual outrage. Asked if an American would work a 12-hour day in a [dangerous, highly exploitative, blood-slick, bone-chilling, puke-inducing] meat packing plant for $6.25 an hour, the caller yelled, irate: “No! Americans won’t work for that! ‘Illegals’ are holding down the wages at these places!”
Whoever he was, he doesn’t know whether to wind his watch or run.
He could be any Anglo camped outside the Macehualli worker’s center at 25th St. and Bell Road. We may even have seen him pounding his flagpole, screaming curses through his bullhorn at the (obviously legal) immigrants waiting inside the chain link fence for somebody like us to give them a day job. He might have been Rick Galeener himself, that wrinkled, publicly urinating racist old rattlesnake who, probably, was the guy videotaping my license plate and my face as I got out to make arrangements with Sal Reza, beloved de facto leader of pro-migrant Phoenicians.
I wanted to say to him, “So Rick. You’re saying you “Christian patriots” do want to pay $15 a pound for raw, uncut chicken, right?”
Guys like Galeener can’t have it both ways. No undocumented, exploited immigrants, no $1.99/lb roasters. No $4.95 Church’s fried, either.
This is the bottom line that American racist-nativists happy to have cheap chicken as long as they don’t have to see who makes it aren’t willing to talk about. The self-limited choice, the sublimely short-sighted and settle-for-nothing choice they offer is this: Grow your own or tolerate “illegals.” Which will it be?
For those of us with considerably higher self esteem and a much more wholesome vision for tomorrow, there’s a way better way. We don’t advocate exploiting anybody. Read on.
American haven’t really thought through what it means to us to kick out undocumented workers, although here in Phoenix, watching the tax base erode and the For Sale signs sprout like stink weeds, we’re beginning to get a glimmer. We’re gradually catching on that no real “Christian patriot” capitalist worth his salt would run large numbers of hard-working good consumers out of town just pretty much for the hell of it.
I’m saying that Nativist America needs to rub one of its two brain cells against the other in hopes of igniting a spark of recognition.
Immigrant workers sustain this country’s economy. Its lowest-wage earners, they are the floor on which the rest of us stand. If they aren’t able to report for work, either we must or the businesses and the economy that depends on them will fall. Alternatively, the fact is, if the floor rises, so will everybody on it. That’s what Roosevelt understood, and so must we. Fast.This is a window on the life of one meat packer in Sholom Rubashkin’s Agriprocessors, Inc., the meat processing plant in Postville, IA much in the news. This is about a 21-year -old Guatemalan woman named Emilsa Monzon Gutierrez, why she came here, how she got here, and what she does at Agriprocesors, Inc. It is provided by Tony Leys at the Des Moines Register:
Guatemala is still recovering from a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. Average income there is only 12 percent of income in the United States, and 43 percent of the average income in neighboring Mexico. Income inequality is starker in Guatemala, with the richest 10 percent of people controlling 43 percent of the wealth, compared with 37 percent in Mexico and 30 percent in the United States.
That is why so many poor Guatemalans risk robbery, arrest and heat exhaustion to make the trek to the United States.
Emilsa Monzon Gutierrez, a Guatemalan immigrant who worked at the Postville plant, made the journey last winter.
Monzon is the daughter of a farmhand in rural Guatemala. She is a soft-spoken woman who wears braces and looks younger than her 21 years. She sat at a picnic table outside the Postville church on Friday and described her homeland and her life.
She said her hometown is a place of tiny wooden houses with metal roofs and dirt floors. Food costs are rising, she said, and jobs are scarce. Violence, which is tied to the drug trade, keeps getting worse.
Monzon's family borrowed money so she could try to make it to the United States. She took a bus for nearly a thousand miles from her hometown in southern Guatemala to the U.S. border. Most of the trip was through Mexico, where she saw people with nicer clothes and better houses than most Guatemalans she knew. The roads were in much better condition, she said, and more people had cars.
Despite being better off than Guatemala, Mexico is a poor place with few opportunities. So after reaching northern Mexico, Monzon walked across a desert border area with four other people and made it into the United States. Then she took buses for more than 1,300 miles to Postville, where she joined her brother. The total journey took 27 days.
12-hour shift, 30-minute break
Monzon said she had no trouble landing a job at Agriprocessors, where she worked from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., with a half hour break for lunch. She spent her nights in a cold, refrigerated room, always rushing to cut feathers off chickens and slap labels on them. She said the work was more grueling than she expected, but it was the only job available.
Yo, that fried chicken there. Want some fries with that?
According to Leys, Agriprocessor workers like Monzon make $6.25 to $7.50 an hour at jobs many of them borrowed thousands of dollars just to reach. When they are deported, they will lose their homes and farms in Guatemala that served as collateral, and the money they sent back home to stave off starvation for their families will be no more. What then?
The notion that these same workers will just turn around come back to Agriprocessors is a fantasy. They can’t afford to in any sense, and as word spreads across Central America about our terrorizing chicken-shit raids on the least of the least, nobody else will come, either. It may be desperate at home, but at least it’s not desperate and grotesque.
When they’re run out of Postville and Agriprocessor is forced to hire the locals, the price of chicken will hit the stars.
What Tancredo and Dobbs and Galeener and the rest don’t want to get into is that this and every other capitalist country has made a devil’s bargain to exploit anybody who’s vulnerable and has no leverage, in exchange for a decent, affordable standard of living for everyone else. Slaves, immigrants, refugees, poor people, women (what is it now? $.79 on the $1.00?) and old people, but especially poor immigrants: It’s a deal pretty much bred in the bone of capitalism itself, because capitalism is about profits, not about people.
So long as the people and the profits can peacefully co-exist—as they did during the country’s New Deal glory days—guys like Galeener can pretend that they're on the winning end. But when, as now, profit lust has slimed the country, gas is $4 a gallon and food prices are getting scary high, they can either question their priorities or blame the “illegals.”
Their choice is foolish. It’s like voting for a Republican if you're not Dick. It’s circling the wagons and firing.
No, Virginia. It’s not the “illegals” who are holding meat-processing and re-bar workers’ wages down. It’s Ronald Reagan and the rest of the GOP, then and since, who collaborated both to block sane immigration policies and to impose “free trade” and globalization on the rest of us. With the help of the Clintons and a whole bunch of craven, complicit, sell-out congressional Democrats.
Here's a clue. “Free trade” and NAFTA and its spawn amount to a wholesale declaration of war on American labor, domestic and imported. It started when the Idol of the Right broke the Air Traffic Controllers strike in 1980 and shot labor unions in the chest.
That wound has festered and grown these 28 years. Now the economy created by Roosevelt’s high-wage/pro-union policies—you know, the one that gave your parents cheap university degrees, two cars, fine houses for 6% fixed 30-year mortgages, and employer-paid health insurance and pensions, weekends, and overtime pay--has gone, gone away.
Because tell me: What, if not unions and government enforced workplace regulation, stands between exploitative bosses like heavy GOP contributor Sholom Rubashkin and Monzon and, well, Linda Green, Bobby Ray Lee, and Tyrone Washington? It isn’t corporate ethics and it isn't Bush's "free trade."Galeener either doesn’t know this or he doesn’t see what it has to do with him. He also doesn’t know that “free trade” means no unions and no workers’ comp or minimum wage enforcement and no benefits and all the investment safeguards of Enron, just as it means no regulation of predatory mortgage lenders and a flood of people like Monzon across our borders, fleeing from the wreckage of carnivorous multinationals.
He doesn’t even get that the same low-wage/no regulation conditions that drove Monzon to the United States are being replicated here by George Bush’s low-wage, anti-union, pro-corporate, anti-middle-class, tax-only-wage-earners policies.
But he’s about to get a clue.
So, either he can recognize that his half of the boat rises with Monzon’s and stand with her for higher wages, good benefits, a path to citizenship, and decent working conditions, or he and she and all the rest of us can all fall together. That’s the deal, locally and globally.
The choice is not between continuing to exploit immigrants and other vulnerable people or being wrung out and hung out. It’s not between an unacceptable status quo + an unacceptable (exploitative) guest worker program.
It’s between global workplace fairness and decency, and profits redirected into research, innovation, clean production, and real value, or global decline for 99% of us and immeasurably obscene profits for the rest.
Yes, propers for Monzon will mean higher food prices for you and me, but with a global New Deal and priorities re-centered on people and the planet that sustains us, we can afford it. If you don’t believe me, quit drinking the Kool Aid.
It’s just a question of will.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Read this review and then buy this book and read it. I mean, if you care about the USA. Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism Sheldon S. Wolin should know.
Looks like it.
While dinking around here trying to tweak the site, I just accidentally lost a post titled "Clueless in the Desert," about editorialist Doug MacEachern's belated discovery that RepubliCons are in trouble in November. Someone well known to Pico posted a comment about MacEachern's Rip Van Winkel observation, and I had repeated it here.
While digging on my hard drive and on the Republic's site to find that clipped copy, I discovered that the Republic appears to have removed that comment. (It follows, in full). Curious. Last night there were 9 or 10 comments plainly visible online. This morning here are only two. Censored? I'm thinkin'. I guess the truth hurt too much?
Naw. I guess they didn't want their readers reminded.
Gee, it's too bad I had forgotten last night about AZ Republican political consultant Nathan Sproul's excellent little adventures destroying Democrats' voter registration forms before the 2004 election. I'd have made sure to mention that, too. See Blog for Arizona's summary of Mark Crispin Miller's testimony about Sproul and his Ghouls before the House Committee on the Judiciary, May 14, 2008.
Yesterday's lost "Clueless in the Desert" post in full:
Columnist Doug MacEachern, editorial writer for the ZZZZ, er, AZ Republic and stalwart Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rove-Rice-Feith-Libby guy, suddenly today woke up and smelled the coffee. Not before editorialists and columnists in every leading paper and news mag had done the same, mind you. No trail blazer he. [He writes:]
"Republicans are facing hostile electorate this fall." May. 16, 2008 12:00 AM
"Republicans have every right to be panicked about their congressional prospects this fall. Absolutely all the indicators are against them, including the shocking special-election results in the South, a former GOP stronghold. The public rejection of the Republican brand may be even worse. It's not just that the public gave them their shot in 1994, which they blew. Voters may not even want Republicans who truly are committed to conservative principles. Doug MacEachern, editorial writer."
To which one someone well known to Pico responded as follows (permission to quote was granted):
Oh my! Can't think why! Well, it's not about genuine conservative principles. Those went away with Ike. It's about trashing our economy, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights. Imperial presidency. Politicized Justice Department. Eviscerated Legislative branch. Prostituted Pentagon. Polluted Judicial branch. Kow-towing to freaky fringe Christianists. Pillaging the US Treasury for crony donors and blocking investigation thereof. Illegal domestic spying. Celebrating torture. Abandoning the US working class. Destroying the US middle class. Pimping the stock market (Enron) and the mortgage/lending industry to Bear Stearns et al. Alienating the whole world. Seeding the Middle East with brand new jihadists.
My Republican Paratrooper Captain father, who lost an eye in Africa in WWII, would die of shame and rage. Only cowards torture. Only cowards bully. Only cowards give their own freedoms up to kneel in fear. Only little people lie, cheat, and steal. Only treason sums this adequately. Mad? Ya think?
Any Republican "truly committed to conservative principles" would have stood with us and demanded impeachment a long time ago. None did. What can we conclude from that? The Ike Republican died when he did. From Nixon on, it's been just a bunch of kiss-up, money-worshipping SOBs for whom absolutely no human rights violation, no screw job, and no sellout of America is too much to crow about.
Yeah. The only way the GOP can pull it out in November is to manufacture touch-screen voting machines that can be fixed by last minute repair guys at the precinct stations, require picture IDs (like undocumented workers are going to go to the polls? Are you CRAZY?), and cleanse Democrats and young voters from the voting rolls.
McALLEN, May 14 - If a hurricane hits the Rio Grande Valley this season, residents evacuated via school buses will be prescreened for citizenship by Customs and Border Patrol.Officials are so proud of this policy that news photographers were banned from shooting a drill:
Hurricane season starts June 1. In the event of a hurricane in the region, emergency officials predict more than 130,000 evacuees will leave the Valley by school bus. They will be checked for identification and citizenship before they can board.
Anyone who is not a citizen or is not a legal resident will be held in specially designed areas in the Valley that are “made to withstand hurricanes,” said Dan Doty, a Border Patrol spokesperson for the Valley sector.
Those specially designed areas include the Border Patrol facilities in Edinburg and Harlingen, Doty said.
Border Patrol agents could be seen checking the identification and citizenship of the mock evacuees, many of whom were senior citizens from the Las Palmas Community Center. After Guardian reporter started taking pictures of this part of the exercise, he was asked to stop and leave the area.Some random thoughts occur.
Now that everybody knows that ICE will detain anybody (brown and black) who lacks proof of citizenship or required immigration papers, we also know that (brown and black) men, women, children, and babies lured across the border by corrupt agribusinesses (etc.) will try to ride out the storms in their brand-new hurricane-proof residences. Or maybe down at the Piggly Wiggly.
We saw what happened when residents in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast tried. (CNN is casing Edinburg for potential good angles even as we speak.)
We know humans and CEOs delay evacuation as long as possible, in denial and to preserve as much capital of the $$$ kind as possible. So we know that these school buses won't be loading three days ahead of squall lines. They'll wait til the last second.
We know from our local hyenas here in Arizona that wingnuts aren't actually satisfied with drivers' licenses or Mexican consul documents. They prefer verified, validated proof of citizenship and immigration status, whatever that may mean. Then. To that particular ICE agent. There. If they've decided.
And since it's not easy for people with low incomes to get passports and birth certificates and notary stamps and whatnot, we know a lot of folks who live in the Rio Grande Valley legally will also be denied access to evacuation.
Mini-Tutorial for the Middle+ Classes: People on way low incomes don't have any money to spend on family photos. They also don't have Internet access so they aren't always right up to speed on regulatory changes, and most crash, exhausted, before they can read the paper they don't subscribe to or turn on the TV they can't afford.Now get this:
Many don't even have cars and if they do, gas costs what, an hour's wages a gallon? What's a round-trip to the nearest approved vendor of verified ID going to cost? Passports aren't available in just every little bug-tussle town, you know. And only God knows where to get verified, validated ID.
Immigrant agriculture workers -- or OK, 99.5% of them -- just weren't born in Middleclassville where conventional wisdom is breathed in with the baby powder for generations, and where people just come up knowing how to get official stuff taken care of. It's not like that for poor people. It's especially not like that for the people doing the hard work at the Del Monte subcontractor's Pik and Pak Paradise.
The bureaucracy is even confusing and intimidating for Tom Tancredo and Russell Pearce, so we know it's not a matter of native wit.
Officials are shooting for a tentative 30-minute window from arrival at an emergency holding post, through processing, and to final evacuation by bus. Each bus would carry about 50 to 60 people, according to Health Department officials.Yeah. Right.
“The initial questions are to determine whether the people can handle a five to 12 hour bus ride or vehicle ride of some type, and if they can handle that then the military will evacuate them on school buses to make sure they follow through with that,” said Hidalgo County Health Director Eddie Olivarez.
“If a person is not able to handle a five to 12 hour vehicle ride, then the military personnel will asses them medically, and then will assign ambulance or specially designed buses.” [Emphasis added throughout]
I don't have the second sight, but I'm not stupid.
Just stop a sec and think how this will pan out. Thirty minutes from arrival to departure? That doesn't happen at your local high school on a sunny day.
I'm seeing logjams and screaming families in all colors, rain slashing on paperwork and wind snatching green cards, and folks in wheelchairs and folks not quite up to speed in English, and everybody one semi-second from all-out panic. And that's not even counting the angry and frustrated Border guards.
And now remember the cluster-duck that was mandatory evacuation from Houston and Galveston, where everybody sat on the INTERSTATE until their cars overheated or ran out of gas. But:
Highway 281 is the designated hurricane evacuation route and the Border Patrol checkpoint for the highway is at Falfurrias, in Brooks County.Just how many school buses and "vehicles" does it take to haul 130,000 people? At 60 per, I get 2,166. These aren't interstates and there's a border patrol checkpoint up the road?
A 5 to 12-hour ride? On whose Bat Mobile?
Surely this is a leak intended to drive (brown and black) people out of the Rio Grande Valley from sheer revulsion well ahead of any hurricanes. Surely it isn't serious public policy.
Surely we haven't sunk to this level of depravity. For this is a racist, class war recipe for extermination-by-nature. And where oh where have we seen that before.
Just think of all the real estate that will be ready for GOP developers! There's a link beside the story on the Rio Grande Guardian touting the growth in McAllen, TX. If you don't think this could happen, read The Shock Doctrine.
If you've dropped by Wild Chihuahuas before, you probably notice some design and layout changes.
Over the next few weeks, we're going to be tweaking to add value and make better use of your time here.
If you have specific requests for features and content you'd like to see, please let us know. Your comments are always welcome, and we aim to please.
And again: If you link to us, please let us know so that we can be sure to return the favor. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope our growing pains don't inconvenience you, and thanks for your patience.
Thanks so much for visiting.
Labels: site changes
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Truthout reports today on two predictable but still appalling immigration developments in Mississippi. In one case, "more than 100 workers in Pascagoula, Mississippi walked off the job at a Mississippi shipyard last week to protest conditions similar to slavery," involving bait-and-switch offers from a Northrop-Grumman subsidiary in Bombay. The Indians were promised residency, green cards, and jobs in return for payments of up to $20K. What they got is disgusting.
But in its infinite wisdom, Mississippi will be charging immigrant workers with felony offences for working in the US illegally, but giving exploitative employers a free pass, apparently.
If you note the terms of this law, you will see that everything in it is designed to increase the number of persons in detention and to maximize their days in prison. Mark my words: This will turn out to be just one more RepubliCon scheme designed to provide fodder to privatized prisons on the per diem Federal compensation dole. Betcha good money.
You heard it here first: Prison privatization, including immigrant detention centers, is just the newest version of human trafficking.
Speaking as an average American and as one of the 4,000 people who lined up to marry at the San Francisco City Hall in February, 2004, I am thrilled with today's announcement overturning CA's ban on gay marriage.
The ruling said, in part:
"the constitutionally based right to marry properly must be understood to encompass the core set of basic *substantive* legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage that are so integral to an individual’s liberty and personal autonomy that they may not be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature or by the electorate through the statutory initiative process."
And there you go.
Marriage must be understood as:
the core set of substantive rights and attributes that are so integral to an individual's liberty and personal autonomy that they may not be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature or the electorate.
That is what we've been saying since Stonewall.
For all but the worst sort of people, this succinct statement should be sufficient to show the irrelevance of surface distinctions to the question of human rights.
PS: For anybody squawking about activist judges, the CA people changed their minds a few times. The CA legislature TWICE supported gay marriage and once voted to ban it. Swartzenegger vetoed the will of the people on supporting gay marriage. The matter went to the state supreme court for its opinion. See, the reason we have courts is to prevent the majority from tyrannizing a minority. Tyrannizing is different from out-voting. Tyrannizing is out-voting from bias in order to discriminate.
This from the Tucson Citizen, "Immigration Reform: When There's No One to Harvest the Crops":
In Yuma, Muthart manages the 60-year-old, 8,000-acre Pasquinelli Produce Co. in a part of the state that produces up to 90 percent of the lettuce, broccoli, celery, cauliflower and other vegetables eaten by Americans during some winter months.Duh.
Because there is not a guest worker program allowing people from Mexico to come into the United States for the harvest, then return home, workers must cross the border - legally - daily if they want to work.
So Pasquinelli has stopped planting on land it owns more than an hour's travel from the border because workers don't have time to travel that far. Muthart said he is 20 percent to 25 percent short of the workers he needs for full produce production.
He has twice been to Washington, D.C., to argue for immigration reform or at least a guest worker program, but to no avail.
He and other farmers in the area now are deciding how much land they'll have to leave vacant next winter. "It's on everybody's mind," he said.
Robbs and Muthart both stressed one point: The farmworkers from Mexico don't want to live in the United States. They want a legal and easy way to go back and forth.
"These people like living in Mexico and to go home every night," Muthart said.
"They have their families down in Mexico," Robbs said. "They like it down there."
What part of this escapes the RepubliCons in our state and national legislatures?
Mexicans who work further north in AZ perhaps can't go home every night, but they still want to go home as often as they can. The able and dignified man who does landscaping so well in our neighborhood goes home every weekend to continue building his house in Mexico. Where he plans to retire. NB: Well out of reach of our healthcare (as if) and Social Security systems. He doesn't want to live in the USA.
A lot of Mexicans, Guatemalans, and other Central Americans feel that way. They'd like to work here and pay into our tax base and Social Security system, but then, provided they can survive there, of course, they wish return to live in the land where they were born.
Family values, I guess. Or patriotism.
Quoted in full from an email alert just issued by the Center for Constitutional Rights:
Please read this alert for background on the plan and immediately go here and click on the yellow "Add Comments" balloon to file public comments with the government to oppose the plan. The government is only accepting comments until this Monday, May 19, so take action today!
At the end of 2005, a little-noticed provision was slipped into the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill that provided the federal government with the power to collect and permanently keep DNA samples from anyone arrested for any crime whether or not they are convicted, any non-U.S. citizen merely detained by federal authorities for any reason, and everyone in federal prison. Now the government is trying to put the DNA Fingerprint Act into practice.
Federal agencies would be required to take DNA samples from:
• Individuals arrested for the most minor of crimes, such as peaceful protestors who are demonstrating on federal property.Go here for more information on the law.
• Countless numbers of visitors from other countries who are pulled aside in airports by the Transportation Security Administration.
• Lawful immigrants seeking admission to this country, whether at the land border or in passport control at the airport.
This is a dangerous invasion of privacy. Our DNA is not a fingerprint - it contains vast amounts of sensitive medical information about us. And Congress held no hearings on this dangerous legislation, even though it:
• threatens the privacy of millions of Americans; [make that ALL Americans and ALL foreign visitors]
• would disproportionately affect people of color; [and GLBT people]
• and turns the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" on its head.
The Justice Department recently issued proposed regulations on the implementation of the law and is seeking public comments. Go here and voice your opposition to the federal government collecting and permanently storing our DNA. (See the end of this email for suggested talking points.) CCR will also be submitting extensive comments and notifying the press of this important story so the government can't slip their plan by without the public knowing.
Here are some reasons to oppose this plan, which you can use in your comments:
• Innocent people do not belong in a criminal DNA database. The underlying statute that permits this is wrong and goes against basic principles of our justice system.
• The regulations interpret the statute as broadly as possible, giving the FBI and other federal agencies the authority to take DNA in far too wide a range of cases.
• DNA is not a fingerprint - it contains vast amounts of sensitive medical information about us. The Justice Department's decision not to require destruction of the biological samples once the DNA profile is uploaded to its database exacerbates the potential for our genetic privacy to be violated and opens the door to the potential of familial searching.
• The regulations will add a disproportionate number of people of color to the database, potentially making those communities an increased target for law enforcement and further aggravating the already existing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
• The regulations estimate that potentially more than one million new samples will be added to the database a year, yet the FBI's laboratory is currently receiving for processing only 75,000 offender samples each year. The requirement to collect, profile and upload such a massive number of DNA samples will flood the system and create huge backlogs, which may ultimately hinder criminal investigations, rather than help them.
• The regulations contemplate federal agencies contracting with third parties to collect and store DNA samples. Outsourcing the handling of this most sensitive information to multiple collection and storage sites will almost certainly lead to abuse, the creation of "shadow databases," and error, potentially undermining public trust in DNA as an effective investigational tool.
CCR Executive Director
So, in 7-plus years of Republican rule, we have:
(1) Embraced tortureFascism--we might as well call it what it is--doesn't thrive among secure, productive, and principled people.
(2) Instituted unaccountable, illegal domestic spying
(3) Built a massive chain of for-profit prison camps unaccountable to anybody
(4) Created a hidden overseas network of detention centers and torture pits
(5) Installed legions of totally unaccountable immigration and airport "security" personnel who can and do detain any US citizen and any foreigner at will, without due process, indefinitely, and in secret
(6) Authorized worksite, home, and neighborhood raids to seize and detain brown-skinned human beings who may, repeat may have been lured by US businesses and desperation to commit a misdemeanor offense
(7) Instructed the un-elected Secretary of Homeland Security to waive any law he disagrees with in pursuit of any goal he deems related to "homeland security"
(8) With deliberation--deliberately-- blocked Federal, state, and international resources from aiding rescue and recovery operations in the post-Katrina South in order to privatize its real estate and publc services
(9) Equated principled dissent with "treason"
(10) Permitted widespread, direct partisan denial of the right to vote
(11) Taken steps to consolidate media ownership and control
(12) Franchised an official propaganda network to operate in taxpayer-owned commonwealth airwaves
Fascism only grows where people choose to kneel to fear.
Fascism counts on us to shut down our reasoning powers voluntarily. It can't see where it's going unless we choose to be blind to what it's doing. It can't breathe unless we let ourselves be told whom to hate and fear, and why. Lies are its blood supply, but we have to agree to drink them. It simply can't exist when we insist on facts.
Fascism cannot thrive unless we waive our own core values, and unless we nurture it systematically, methodically, one step at a time.
Where fascism does thrive, most of the people agree to be lazy, unprincipled cowards.
Following disclosures that we inject deportees with mind-altering drugs, sweep up immigrants in Gestapo-style midnight raids, and unaccountably throw poor brown people willy-nilly into bottomless pits called "for-profit detention centers," editors at the New York Times today reveal another charming piece of Republican genius for us to ponder.
Apparently we're banning people who marry foreigners from getting earned tax rebate checks:
Hard-liners were so intent on keeping the cash out of the hands of undocumented workers that they restricted the rebate to people with Social Security numbers. An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, issued by the Internal Revenue Service to people who pay taxes but do not qualify for Social Security numbers, will not do. If a married couple files jointly, and one spouse is not eligible for the rebate, neither gets the money.Does it get any dumber? Do we need clearer proof that mean loves stupid and stupid loves mean?
This hurts all manner of people who are working and paying taxes: American soldiers stationed abroad who happen to have married foreigners; high-tech immigrants in Silicon Valley and other places whose spouses are not authorized to work or have not yet had their paperwork processed. These are people who are perfectly legal, economically vital and politically inconvenient .[Emphases added.]
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I'm posting this media release in full because it speaks for me, too.
President Bush Must Act to Stop Destruction of Families and
Communities Through Raids and Deportations
Statement by the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
DENVER, CO – In response to Monday’s raid by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Postville, Iowa, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) released the following statement:
“We stand with the families of Postville, Iowa torn apart by Monday’s massive immigration raid. Nearly 400 hard working immigrants, already exploited in deplorable working conditions, now find their lives turned upside down by a quasi-military operation in our own heartland. The images and horrific accounts in Iowa mirror the ICE raid in Greeley, Colorado eighteen months ago that orphaned children and separated hundreds of families. Once again, at a time when the nation’s economy is already fragile, especially in smaller communities, it is outrageous and inhumane that this Administration would use American tax dollars to turn community cattle auction grounds into an immigration detention camp.
“We urge President Bush and the Presidential candidates to take a stand for humane and rational immigration policy and to put an immediate stop to these reckless raids that have done nothing to fix our broken immigration system. Dividing families, sewing fear in communities and herding hundreds of people in chains onto cattle
grounds are an insult to our nation’s values.
“We stand for a set of values that respects the civil liberties of all Americans, values workers and worker protections, and brings Americans – immigrant and non-immigrant alike – together to address the issues that we all face. Postville was founded by German and Norwegian immigrants, and then in 1987 economically revived by Hasidic Jews that built the largest Kosher meat packing plant in the town. Now many Guatemalan, Mexican, Ukrainian, and Russian immigrants work at the plant, attend schools, and fill Postville’s churches. Instead of integrating immigrants into the life of our nation, our government is disintegrating and destroying whole
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) is a statewide membership-based coalition of immigrant, faith, labor, youth, and ally organizations founded in 2002 to build a unified statewide voice to defend and advance justice for all immigrants and refugees in Colorado and the U.S.
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Contact: Julien Ross 720-290-1125
>>>>>AZ RESIDENTS: PLEASE CALL NAPOLITANO'S OFFICE NOW TO THANK HER FOR THIS MAJOR STEP TOWARD HUMANE AZ IMMIGRATION POLICY: 602-542-4331. WE MUST SPEAK OUT IN SUPPORT OF REASONABLE, COURAGEOUS STANDS! PLEASE ALSO CALL YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT THE GOVERNOR!<<<<<
In a deft strike at the Maricopa County Sheriff's highly controversial anti-immigrant round-up/deportation neighborhood sweeps, AZ Governor Janet Napolitano (D) has issued an executive order directing the state's Department of Public Safety (DPS) to give priority to targeting the tens of thousands of felons in the state:
The executive order directs the DPS to immediately deploy a squad to address the backlog of nearly 60,000 open felony warrants statewide, with priority on gang-related felonies and fugitives who are undocumented immigrants.The action takes place in a statewide budget crunch partly brought on, ironically, by misguided rightwing Republican-driven anti-immigration policies such as the recent "employer sanctions" law. These measures are triggering an exodus from Arizona of Hispanics (immigrant and other) fearful and angry at being targeted. When they leave, they take millions from the consumer/tax streams that fund state operations.
The open felony warrants Napolitano seeks to address appear largely to have been tabled by the Sheriff in order to to target Hispanic immigrants who have entered the country without authorization. For the rest of this story, please see my post at Citizen Orange.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
A new immigration study by the Center-Right Manhattan Institute has findings with mixed implications for low-skill, undocumented Mexican immigrants. While finding that today's immigrants assimilate faster than those of earlier times, it also reported this:
The overall assimilation index also masks big differences between immigrants from certain countries. Mexicans, for example have an index of 13, while Vietnamese were at 41. And although immigrants who arrived as children tend to be nearly identical to their U.S.-born counterparts, apart from their lower rates of citizenship, those who come from Mexico are less assimilated and have higher incidences of teenage pregnancy and incarceration.Almost certainly the Right in Arizona and nationally will interpret this as reason to pursue round-ups and deportations, while the Left will interpret it as reason to allow residents to pursue legal standing. I vote for the latter.
A major reason for these disparities in assimilation levels may be the high percentage of Mexican immigrants who are in the country illegally, Vigdor said. When only cultural factors are considered, Mexicans score almost as high as Vietnamese and higher than immigrants from countries such as India and China, which tend to have a high rate of immigration to the United States.
"If you're in the country illegally, a lot of the avenues of assimilation are cut off to you," he said. "There are lot of jobs you can't get, and you can't become a citizen."
The reasons? One, as I noted earlier, the New York Times reports today that the nation is already experiencing markedly negative economic repercussions from the Republicans' slash-and-burn approach to Latinos crossing the border illegally. That's true in spades for Arizona.
Two, the obvious implication is that the USA needs low-skilled Mexicans, and not just to perform construction, agriculture, entertainment-industry, and other jobs that native-born workers will not do--or do not do successfully.* We also need their tax, Social Security, and consumer contributions, and because they are a younger cohort than the American average, we need them to help fund our imperiled retirements. Our own self-interest says to change course.
Three, the massive detention industry that is growing fat from profiteering on Hispanic immigrants (not necessarily only undocumented ones) poses a direct threat to our constitutional way of life. But there's something already hideously embarassing and disgusting about our country's having the highest incarceration rate in the world. In fact, it beggars pretty much every cliche we bleat about our way of life.
To add the fact that it's a rapidly-growing for-profit industry that is coming under fire for predictable profit-driven and other abuses to its inmate population is revolting. More important, it is profoundly alarming for those of us who actually believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Why? Politicization of our churches leaves us wondering what part of the sermon is partisan agenda and what part is, well, faith-based. Similarly, privatization of prisons for profit leaves us wondering who's in charge. The very structure undermines the notion that incarceration is a function of our Justice system. It leaves us wondering exactly what percent of the inmate population, and exactly what percent of "discipline" options such as time added, have to do instead with somebody's bottom line.
We already know that humans debased by profit uber alles are not pretty creatures. Do we need more really grotesque demonstrations of just how bad that can get? Because if we do, private, for-profit prison ventures underwritten by pillaged tax dollars and unaccountable even to immigration lawyers and members of Congress, much less public watchdogs like ACLU, are just the ticket.
I don't really think we need to transform ICE and our law enforcement, judicial, and prison systems into a whole new pipeline for a whole new form of human trafficking. Plus this: Combined with our penchant for imprisoning everything that moves and the powerful Far Right's capacity to define a difference of opinion as treason (therefore imprisonable if not whackable), the prison privatization thing may well be our own demise. It's a nasty and slippery slope.
Four, corruption corrupts. We're seeing this played out now in the Iraq war, in secret US torture pits, in private detention facilities, in the person and office of the Maricopa County sheriff, in the operation of the US mortgage/credit and energy industries, and even in our elections. Reversals in economic and labor regulatory policy and abandonment of fundamental constitutional principles to forward ideological and profiteering goals just aren't working for anybody. Well, except a handful of well-connected owners and investors like BushMcCainCheneyGoodhair. The rest of us are either co-opted, or reeling with disgust and fury, or paralyzed by a parade of abuses we once thought could never happen here.
The point is that immigration is giving us a whole new way to interpret "doing unto others." We have a decision to make, now. We can either continue as we are, proving ad nauseum that being poisoned by fear and driven crazy with vengefulness and greed isn't working, or we can use common sense.
We can aim for a high-wage worker-respecting econony worldwide instead of the global opposite, and we can treat our immigrant populations for what they are: like us, they're the hearts and minds of the country's future, politically, psychically, and economically. Abuse them and lose them.
What would a smart country do?
*From the employer's viewpoint, according to recent testimony before a House Commerce Committee hearing on immigration and the native workforce.
Some people think I'm too hard on Republicans. I can't imagine why. I point out the predictable consequences of Republican economic and social policy for Arizona. That seems fair enough. If I show a little irritation now and then, maybe it's because I've had enough.
Republican social and economic policies result in laws that are having disastrous consequences for us all--locally, nationally, and internationally. The fact that these disasters were predictable makes these policies stupid--unarguably. That's the very definition of "stupid."
The fact that they are also (predictably) causing or will cause severe pain for all of us at physical, economic, emotional, spiritual, mental, and psychic levels makes them mean, vile, and brutish.
That they target some of us for special destruction and pillaging makes them bigoted as well.
Surely most Arizonans are taking notes for November about the consequences of Republican social and economic policy at every level.
Two examples of many from what's going on here at home.
I just noted that the 31 GOP and 2 Democratic hyenas roiling beneath the Copper dome to wreck the lives of self-supporting, tax-paying, and hard-working gays and lesbians just means that the rest of you will have to pick up the tab for our lawsuits and lost health insurance. Etc.
Trust me. This will happen if you continue to follow the scent of the hyena nearest you and vote to ban "all the benefits incident to marriage" in the reprised gay-bashing proposition en route to us in November.
Many besides me, however, have noted the horrific results of Arpaio's midnight sweeps and AZ laws aimed at Hispanic immigrants--like the brilliant employer sanctions law.
The thing is, these measures are making life a very hell for all Hispanics in our state. However, the exodus of documented and undocumented Hispanics sick of living in fear, sick of harassment, and no longer willing to face a prolonged economic tsunami isn't "just" hurting Hispanics. That would be sufficient reason to vote out every Republican in AZ government. But it's also causing serious labor shortfalls and losses in three of the state's largest economic sectors: agribusiness, construction, and entertainment.
True, national Republican social and economic policies, like Iraq and the oil crisis, and RepubliCons' refusal to oversee and regulate their Enron-style mortgage lending and credit businesses (this is called "free trade") have big roles in all these disasters.
But as Arizona Hispanics--documented and undocumented--walk away from decling home values and vengeful legislators--and why not?--we are seeing serious additions to to an already alarming foreclosure rate. This means big headaches for, like, Del Webb, Pulte, and Diamond Ventures, and it means vanishing jobs in construction, building supply, and in every trade related to keeping you inside four walls.
And then there are the empty rentals, the closing mom-and-pop mercados, zapaterias, and llanterias, and that whole train of lost jobs. Not to mention lost revenues for our gas stations, supermarkets, K-Marts, and all the rest. AND the consequent trashed tax base and trashed school budgets that come when good jobs, hard workers, and decent taxpayers go away.
Well, hey. The New York Times today is confirming all that, AND bearing the great glad tidings that this train of catastrophes is a national thing. The demographic that was doing so well before Bush, that was contributing so much to the US economy is being trashed. That would be US Hispanics.
Read it and weep.
The economic downturn unfolding across the United States is imposing a particularly punishing toll on Hispanics, a group that was among the primary beneficiaries of the expansion in recent years. What had been a story of broad and steady advances has given way to growing joblessness, diminishing paychecks and lost homes.
The boom in American housing generated millions of new jobs for those willing to engage in physically demanding tasks, from factory work churning out floorboards, carpeting and upholstery, to landscaping, roofing and janitorial services. Latinos occupied widening swaths of these trades and filled large numbers of relatively high-paying construction jobs.
As a great influx of Latino immigrants spread beyond the initial entryways of the Southwest into smaller cities and towns across the South and the Midwest, many found employment doing much of the unpleasant work shunned by those with better prospects.
But now significant portions of this work are disappearing. What were once the fastest-growing areas of the nation, including states with expanding Hispanic populations like Florida, California, Georgia and Nevada, are often bearing the brunt of the pain.
I could point out that there is a reason why the "Golden Rule" is what it is. It isn't just about playing nice. It's about Karma. When we treat each other like garbage, there are consequences. "What goes around comes around."
If the last eight years haven't proved that rule, I shudder to think what it will take for us to get the message.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Today, like a pack of hyenas, 33 members of the AZ state legislature snarled and swirled long enough to bring us, still yet again one more time, another ballot proposition to make Arizona's gays and lesbians full-fledged second-class citizens.
The fiction is that the measure--defeated once already by Arizonans--would merely ban gay "marriage." In truth, we expect that again it will ban any legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples, including the humble domestic partnership agreement. Thus it will bar us not just from all the benefits of marriage derived from nano-second Vegas drive-through sanctifications, but also from benefits yet to be foreseen or defined in the courts of law.
However, what it likely won't do this time is ban unmarried heterosexual couples who cohabitate. That would snare too many AZ seniors who know that they have smaller retirement incomes if they re-marry than if they remain single and just bunk together. A reprise of that language would again make them mad enough to vote at least in their own self-interest if not to preserve fundamental American rights for us. And they provided the margin of defeat for the last anti-gay proposition.
Will the new measure be unconstitutional? Not if a Republican court can help it. But hey, will I even live long enough to find out?
One hopes that this time, Arizonans of sound mind and spirit will notice that they are being manipulated. Again. By the exact same RepubliCons whose anti-immigrant hatred is manipulating them to plunge the state deeply into the red and into expensive, wasteful, and exhausting court battles like the one about employer sanctions.
One hopes that this time, reasonable Arizonans will resent being buzzed up to take part in another bad-tempered, expensive, wasteful, and ultimately self-sabotaging measure, especially in this year of growing budget woes.
When "the benefits of marriage" are defined to include all the civilities that married heterosexuals take for granted, we gay men and lesbian women who are currently self-supporting in every respect but who depend on official recognition of our domestic partnership agreements for things like health insurance, will find ourselves suddenly dependent on you to pay those bills. Sound like a plan?
And how many lawsuits will this proposition spawn on our dwindling tax base? Hard to say, but you can count on picking up your share of the tab when a lot of justifiably offended tax-paying, yard-raking, neighbor-helping, laundry-washing good Queer citizens hit the wall being erected between us and the Bill of Rights.
And those are just some examples. When all "the benefits of marriage" are denied to us by outlawing any form of legal recognition of our long-term relationships, we will be permanently ghettoized economically, legally, psychically, and socially by our own fellow Americans.
The insult has been delivered. The injury already, at the psychic level, is grotesque, as any one of us can tell you. This is especially the case when not even our own mainstream "progressive" churches have the integrity to counter the Far Right.
This is profoundly damaging stuff, and there's been far too little discussion of that and of the selling out of the great liberal Protestant tradition by wishy-washy clergy and lay leaders afraid to offend a big donor in the pew. I don't know when they went away, but the days of meaningful moral and ethical leadership by the mainstream Protestant church seem to be bygone. It's an incalculable loss to us all.
I'm hoping this isn't the direction that Arizonans want to go in. I'm hoping that "do unto others" still has a tiny ring of relevance here, although I must say that our collective, hypocritical, self-righteous vindictiveness toward undocumented immigrants certainly makes me doubt it. Sorry if I sound pissed off. I am.
This from Equality Arizona:
Thirty-three (33) Members of the Arizona House of Representatives voted YES on SCR 1042, a resolution that would place another so-called "marriage" amendment on the ballot in November.
With their YES votes, 33 Members said they want more litigation that threatens to take away domestic benefits from unmarried couples.
Thirty-three Members want to force Arizona voters to vote again on an issue that has already been decided --- by the Legislature, by the Courts, and by the Voters.
The 33 Members who caved to the pressure of anti-equality and anti-domestic partner forces and voted to perpetuate the politics of division are:
Nancy K. Barto
Judy M. Burges
John B. Nelson
Warde V. Nichols
Russell K. Pearce
Andrew M. Tobin
Steven B. Yarbrough
Jack A. Brown
From this four-part, must-read Washinton Post series by Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein:
A closer look at 83 deaths. This report is similar to a recent brief covered by Wild Chihuahuas in the New York Times. We call attention to the mention of two unexplained deaths at Arizon's Eloy detention center.>And:
Osman's death is a single tragedy in a larger story of life, death and often shabby medical care within an unseen network of special prisons for foreign detainees across the country. Some 33,000 people are crammed into these overcrowded compounds on a given day, waiting to be deported or for a judge to let them stay here.More
The medical neglect they endure is part of the hidden human cost of increasingly strict policies in the post-Sept. 11 United States and a lack of preparation for the impact of those policies. The detainees have less access to lawyers than convicted murderers in maximum-security prisons and some have fewer comforts than al-Qaeda terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But they are not terrorists. Most are working-class men and women or indigent laborers who made mistakes that seem to pose no threat to national security: a Salvadoran who bought drugs in his 20th year of poverty in Los Angeles; a U.S. legal U.S. resident from Mexico who took $50 for driving two undocumented day laborers into a border city. Or they are waiting for political asylum from danger in their own countries: a Somali without a valid visa trying to prove she would be killed had she remained in her village; a journalist who fled Congo out of fear for his life, worked as a limousine driver and fathered six American children, but never was able to get the asylum he sought.
The most vulnerable detainees, the physically sick and the mentally ill, are sometimes denied the proper treatment to which they are entitled by law and regulation. They are locked in a world of slow care, poor care and no care, with panic and coverups among employees watching it happen, according to a Post investigation.
The investigation found a hidden world of flawed medical judgments, faulty administrative practices, neglectful guards, ill-trained technicians, sloppy record-keeping, lost medical files and dangerous staff shortages. It is also a world increasingly run by high-priced private contractors. There is evidence that infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and chicken pox, are spreading inside the centers.
Federal officials who oversee immigration detention said last week that they are "committed to ensuring the safety and well-being" of everyone in their custody.
Hey, for some reason I don't understand, my laptop has been kicking me out of my blogging software mid-title or sometimes even before I've even written a single word of a post.
This means you get an alert with a link to a nothing.
I apologize to you for the inconvenience, and will try to find out what's causing the interruptions as I type. This needs to stop.
In the meantime, thanks so much for your patience. I value every single one of my readers--especially those who support me by subbing. The last thing I want to do is annoy you!
From Campaign for America's Future, this moving piece by Sara Robinson, which begins:
Progressives have always loved holidays, which may be why we've created so many of them. There are Saturdays, of course, brought to us with no small help from the early 20th century unions. And May Day. And Labor Day.
And Mother's Day, which started out as the first and perhaps greatest progressive holiday of all.
You may have noticed that all the holidays I've just mentioned are in deep trouble. May Day hasn't been big in the US since the last loud, proud Commie folded up his red flag in the late 1930s. Saturday, as you can testify yourself if you're reading this from work on the day it was published, is also gravely endangered. Not only do more and more of us work on Saturdays; if you're on salary, you're doing it for no pay at all. Labor Day is a boon to the travel industry, since for a lot of us, those three days are the only summer vacation our bosses will let us have. And it's likely that most Americans, if pressed, would cynically tell you that Mother's Day was the nefarious handiwork of a secret cabal -- a shady backroom marketing deal concocted by executives from Hallmark, FTD, DeBeers, and Russell Stover.
Conservatives don't like holidays unless they can use them to sell stuff. They have special reason to really not like this one.
It seems that Mother's Day was originally an anti-war statement:
Mother's Day got its start as the fusion of two holidays created by two women, both activists protesting the carnage of the Civil War. The first was a young homemaker from West Virginia named Ann Jarvis, whose established the first Mother's Work Day in 1858 to improve sanitation among her Appalachian neighbors. When the war came up to their doorsteps, Jarvis's homegrown peace group tended the wounded on both sides; after the war, they worked to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors in the state.More
The other was Boston socialite, suffragette, and poet Julia Ward Howe -- an incandescently bright woman who spoke five languages and ran the New England Institute for the Blind with her husband, Dr. Samuel Howe. Howe is still best remembered as the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic -- the abolitionist anthem that captures much of the righteous fury of the Union cause. For 40 years after the war, she was one of the most popular public speakers in the country, getting the full-on rock star treatment wherever she went.
I doubt that even Karl Rove can mount an attack on Mother's Day, though I'm sure he would now, if he could. But I won't be surprised to hear him and his little familiars like O'Rilly start a campaign against author Sara Robinson.
It's not the person they don't like. It's the truth she tells. Same song, umpteenth verse. Wouldn't you think the Faux Noise listeners would begin to catch on by now?
Mike Bryan over at Blog for Arizona has an ongoing discussion in his Recent Comments section about a Daily Fitz cartoon pillorying the AZ GOP for its paranoia about public education. Here's my two cents about that.
Seems to me from developments over the last 30 years that the Right here and nationally is coming from two visions of society to justify dismantling public schools. Since both ultimately serve its anti-Jeffersonian-Democracy ideology, the advocates of each are happy to use the advocates of the other to advance their own game plan. No one Republican need buy into both ideals to get both accomplished.
Both visions have given birth to ideology-driven agendas that are all to ready to capitalize on (pun intended) problems in public education caused by decades of underfunding, corruption, institutionalized racism (as in local school districts), disengaged parents, badly-behaved kids, and a host of other "inputs." Up the rhetoric and go for a broken national, affordable public education platform. Literally.
One is economic: The privatization agenda. This is one means to wipe out every vestige of the ideal that government ought to help ensure the basics necessary for everyone’s boat to rise. Affordable, good public education is certainly fundamental for that, as is a commonwealth, people-centered approach to the environment--as contrasted with the prevailing view.
Privatization defunds our government by seizing tax-payer paid-for assets (infrastructure, parklands, schools, etc.) by any means possible (hurricanes, private-public investment instruments, condemnation, revising definitions in law, etc.) and then turning them over to favored entities (ultimately, few hundred families) to operate for private profit while funding them by more taxpayer dollars. I say "a few favored entities" because of the pattern emerging in other privatization initiatives, like rebuilding Iraq and seizing its oil, the border fence, the TransTexas Corridor, post-Katrina initiatives in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast, and mercenary armies. Let’s call privatization the secular, plutocratic fundamentalist agenda.
The other is religious: The theocracy agenda. This means funneling our kids into home schooling (a "privatized" curriculum using privatized teaching aids developed privately) and voucher schools (private and privatized).
Anyone familiar with political developments over the last 30 years knows about the takeover of school boards, Rightwing wars over issues like prayer in public schools and the contents of textbooks, and the rise of private, fundamentalist colleges(Liberty and the newer Patrick Henry U, for instance).
They may not be as familiar with the overlap of key GOP players in these spheres and in the ranks of White House, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branch internships and employment. They also may not be as aware of privatized, canned curricula in private religious schools and in the home schooling business, or of the myriad problems that razing our great public education heritage to create our very own mudrashas raises for the country’s future. Let’s call this the theocratic fundamentalist agenda.
Both the secular and the theocrat fundamentalists benefit from collaborating to dismantle public education. By this means they create an ideologically molded cadre of kids tailor-made to follow a ideologically determined marching orders, whether religious, partisan, or corporatist.
By replacing the hated core Jeffersonian ideals with narrow theocratic, elitist, and totalitarian alternatives, they create a dumber-down generation that is trained rather than educated. Trashing the old "liberal arts" model means trashing the tools that empower thinkers and problem-solvers. Replacing it with a task-oriented curriculum means creating generations of malleable worker bees ideally suited to be told what to do and when to do it, at work, at home, and at the polls.
The dumbed-down “news” media (compare Cronkite with Wolf Blitzer, or even worse, Edward R. Murrow with Sean Hannity) are just team players in the larger ball game.
If you think I’ve donned my tin hat, poke around as I have for 25+ years in the organizations and issues the Far Right has created and funded, the key players, and the outcomes. Not least has been its breathtaking progress in converting the GOP from the party of Eisenhower to the party of Dobson, Robertson, Bush, McCain, Norquist, Kyle, Renzi, and Rove. What used to be an honorable alternative view of the great American experiment has become an instrument of mass indoctrination; rank, elitist profiteering; institutionalized ignorance; and unabashed xenophobia.
That’s where I think Fitz was headed.