Harry Reid: Republicans Agree Senate is Where to End Iraq

Mr. Reid, I know you are tired of getting these letters, but I offer you a ray of hope tonight. I offer you validation from the Republicans in their Presidential debate this evening. When you are looking for justification for bringing a plan to end the mistakes of the Iraq War to the Senate floor, look no further than presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.

Now, truth be known, my guy in this fight is Ron Paul. And he, as I am sure you know, is against the war. Always has been. Well, tonight he got into a tangle with Huckabee as to if it is time to end this war. Huckabee, though a decent man, was using the old “you break it, you bought it” stance. Paul, as you know, is strict on the Constitution and wants out.

Let’s see how this played out:

Ron Paul:

“Going into Iraq and Afghanistan and threatening Iran is the worst thing we can do for our national security. I am less safe, the American people are less safe for this. It’s the policy that is wrong. The people who say there will be a bloodbath are the ones who said it will be a cakewalk or it will be a slam dunk, and that it will be paid for by oil. viagra generico 25 mg pagamento online a Venezia Why believe them?

Huckabee response:

“Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion the historians can have, but we’re there. http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=how-do-you-get-accutane We bought it because we broke it. We’ve got a responsibility to the honor of this country and to the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and ever served in our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor that they deserve.”

Paul response:

“The American people didn’t go in. A few people advising this administration, prezzo levitra 20 mg in farmacia a small number of people called the neoconservatives hijacked our foreign policy. They’re responsible, not the American people.”

Huckabee response:

“We can’t be divided. We have to be one nation, under God. That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country: the United States of America, not the divided states of America.”

Paul response:

“No, when we make a mistake – when we make a mistake, enter site it is the obligation of the people, through their representatives, to correct the mistake, not to continue the mistake.”

Huckabee:

http://thefoolishobsession.com/wp-json/oembed/1.0/embed?url=http://thefoolishobsession.com/berry-lips-trending-topic/ find cheap generic viagra from online drugstore “And that’s what we do on the floor of the Senate.”

Okay, Harry, when the Republicans start their usual talking points, point to this exchange in their own presidential debate. Paul ceded the point, because Constitutional, Huckabee is correct.

Point out one of their own said we fix the mistake of Iraq on the floor of the Senate. As Paul pointed out, the people fulfilled their obligation and have placed you and other Democrats into a majority in both houses to fix the mistake that is Iraq.

Now fix the mistake, even the Republicans agree.

Watch:

Let it load and watch at 4:59 to 5:45, that is where the exchange is.

Midnight Cowboying – My Front-Porch Theory of America

Having the great fortune of growing up in place that was free and independent of the nothing we called the creeping American culture in Texas, I can tell you stories about people in my area that would make Faulkner blush and Roy Rogers laugh and do rope tricks. But the key to any good yarn is a community to base one upon, and I’m sorry I would rather look at Dick Cheney Glamour Shots where he wears a fluffy, all be it fun, red boa than listen to any more tales of suburban disturbance.  People are under the spell of suppression through opulence, whereas the quality of life is up to such a level the populace is in fear of change in fear of losing their mall food courts which daily have banquets the Romans would have called decadent. But the sacrifice was a common bond with their neighbors; just because a city has a name, it is not a town until there are a people.

The alpha point for this culture was rather simple and, at the time, viewed as a keen idea. In the swell years of America, the post-war family explosion ignited a need for place for these fine Americans to call home. They would also have to be fast produced to accommodate both the baby boom, and a longer living older generation.

At this time it would be convenient time to discuss basic home building. Up until this era, all homes had a dominating front to the street, with a front porch as the primary portal into the home (See Figure 1). They also had nice front lawns with actually used lawn furniture and always with a Norman Rockwell shady tree. The front porch was a focal point of social interaction that can still be seen on stoop fronts of Brooklyn.


Now when the suburbs started to spread across the land like some kind of biblical plague, they did something very interesting to the house. This also coincided with mass personal auto use. Instead of a brilliantly planned set of plans to build an automated train-based transport system, we decided to ride around alone with only the radio to talk to. And the houses needed a place for the autos, so the front porch was scrapped in favor a garage, but when the people complained about the lack of porches, they gave them a back patio.

This was also an interesting time for mass communications. Without a front porch to act as the center of family activity, the epicenter was then placed on the television. Isolated in their backyards, the basic social fabric began to fray, and two major fabrics were broken and went under media control. No longer were their local farm teams, and neighborhood pick games went the way of watching the local big city team on television. Since women were no longer on the porch passing tales, the local grapevine was supplanted by Soap Operas. If you look at the rise in popularity of network daytime dramas and the rise of major sports franchises in correlation to the removal of front porches one can see a direct relation.

Once you take these to vital strings out of the blanket of a town, it is only obvious that America would evolve into the detached isolated world it has become. Once media took these two over and TV had become must see, other aspects of our culture feel like dominos. Forget love thy neighbor; we don’t even know thy neighbor any more. But wait, there’s more!

Recently, Phase 2 has started to follow in the prototype’s footsteps. Now the structure is complete. Due to land value and space maxination, the houses have been elongated from the garage to form a basic railroad style, with no porch at all (See Figure 3). In the last fifty years we have managed to rotate the basic American home 90 degrees, and destroy our culture in the process.

That would only level the dreaded Phase 3. Instead of simple fences, 20-foot security walls block the view of all your neighbors and a 30 foot electrified fence obscures the front to the street (See Figure 4). You are finally secured. TV has evolved into a virtual reality SIMS type environment where the only social reaction occurs on Internet 2. Since you telecommute and food is delivered by Wal-Mart online, there is no reason to ever leave. Your whole life is now bought out of a virtual catalog. So ends the land of the brave, or does it?

So check this out, and remember how simple we all are. I was searching online about solar planes for a home power source, and found a freaking kids toy to where you can build such a thing. It even has an add-on for an electric car? Are you trying to tell me kids can do it, but adults can’t? A child can build a self-efficient home, while we still pay the electric company to do it for us. Gotta hand it to media control and home rotation.

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NYT: Dems to Cave for ANY “Compromise”

Crossposted from Daily Kos. let me go for some substance this time

Well, this didn’t take long. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from the story to make you angry:

The willingness to consider alternatives represents a shift by Democrats and is a recognition of changing political and practical realities they face in grappling with Iraq and its future.

Democrats had been counting on more Republicans to make a clean break from the president after the summer recess, but the White House has managed, at least temporarily, to hold on to much of its support.

Got that, the Republicans aren’t caving in magical September, and the Democrats are SHOCKED. So what are we getting in place of a date certain?

Republicans and Democrats are also discussing ways to tweak a bipartisan plan by Senators Ken Salazar, Democrat of Colorado, and Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee [. . .]

more

That plan, which would enact the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, is drawing new backing in the House from Republicans looking for an alternative to the status quo.

“I think there is a general feeling that people would like to pull something together that would have bipartisan support,” Mr. Salazar said.

Do we need to warn the Democrats against false compromise again?

Let me say what I think will happen with this plan, if the Democrats try to go forward with it. 1) It will get something close to 60 votes in the Senate, and perhaps a few more in the House, but not nearly enough to override a veto; 2) George Bush will veto it; 3) there will be another blank check.

The power of the purse is all that Democrats really have, and they need not to be afraid to use it. False compromise like this will simply empower Bush.

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My thoughts on the Republican Debate

Please don’t promote.

Wow.

Republican Presidential Candidate Debate on Faux.

It’s every incestuous red-neck brother sister cousin uncle aunt mother father grandfather grandmother mutual pleasuring you’ve ever considered in the most depraved, obscene, pornography obsessed level of your soul.

They’re annoucing their handoffs in the hall like it’s the Miss America pageant.

Ron Popeil has more creditibility than these blow dried made up empty suits.  All of them.  Like watching a roomful of sixes and threes get it on in a lesbian love fest.

At least Ron has something to sell.  This is slop for pigs, fattening them up for the real bloody slaughter ready to sacrifice their sons and daughters like Isaac to a vengeful God of Rapture and Armageddon to grace the plates of the plutocracy.

These Kleptocrat Klowns bully the bedwetting bozos of their base with the spectre of the scary brown people who want to steal their women and their Budweiser and their guns.

Not necessarily in that order.

Speaking of the New Order these fairy tail fascists don’t give a rat’s ass about your privacy because they like it all naked and sweaty.  These grabass harrasers want to get right in your face with their hot air and pointy fingers.

I can’t possibly keep up with the volume of filth and lies and filthy lies that have spewed forth in vomitous abandon in the last 90 minutes, but what struck me about it the most is that it was funny.

Funny to see these guys at Faux try and pretend that anyone really believes them and that they matter.

This was a joke, beyond Stephen Colbert parody, a fiasco.

Popcorn up for repeats if you can.

The Texans Next Door

I was bummed several years back when some stupid, racist, loud, Republican Texans moved in next door.  (There goes the neighborhood!!)  They put up a 15-foot flagpole right in the middle of my view up the valley – an otherwise “pristine” view.  Do I hate my country?  Am I patriotic?  Me, I think nations and empires are ephemera – they pass in the blink of an eye compared to the mountains that snag rain out of the clouds and send it down to water the landscape.  How we all live has, should have, to do with things much deeper than lining up behind a flag.

I asked them to move the flagpole.  Offered to pay for it.  The reply?  A nasty letter from a lawyer.  And they hoisted Old Glory up, and left it there for two solid weeks – day and night, through storms including a hailstorm.  They were gonna show me!  Violate the basic rules of respect for the flag to spite me!

Lovely, life here in the bucolic countryside.

                     

A coupla years later, in 2003, we had a medium-sized forest fire nearby which flared up on the 4th of July.  Named the Encebado fire, it was started by lightning and burned about 5,400 acres.

5400 acres is about nine sections, a square three miles on a side.  Not a monster of a fire, but when you can see the wall of 100-foot flames from your house, it seems plenty big.  People say that fires are a normal part of nature.  True enough, say I, but so is adrenalin in response to same.

                     

It burned close enough to town that police were going door-to-door, advising people how to prepare for evacuation, and checking if any would need help.  The evacuation was never ordered, but it came damn close.  The fire got onto the south side of the Rio Pueblo watershed; had it gotten across that cañon, it would most likely have run up the other side and maybe even all the way up to the Pueblo’s sacred Blue Lake.  The annual Powwow was cancelled that year, and the powwow grounds were used for fire crews that rushed in from around the West.

With all that going on, the town council, the county commission and the pueblo’s governor all issued emergency orders banning fireworks displays.  And really, if you can stand in your yard and watch 100′ high flames felling a forest a mere three miles away, do you really need the adrenalin rush that goes with setting off roman candles?

                     

If you’re the Texans next door, the answer to that question – incredibly – is “Yes!”

follow 1996
I get spooked by big fires – probably a universal human response.  1996 was another drought/big fire year.  I was out in the mountains one day in early May, and suddenly an overwhelming sense of foreboding flooded over me.  The next day, a Friday, I went in to buy renter’s insurance.  And two days after that, Sunday, the fire broke loose:  over 7,000 acres before it was done.  The exact location where I’d had my premonition was scorched earth.

A bunch of people were burned out of their homes in that one, losing everything.  It was a fast-moving crown fire, hot enough to MELT a cast iron wood stove.  A guy I know, who didn’t evacuate (there was only an hour or so warning), rode out the fire laying in the cold water of the acequia (irrigation ditch) while the thing burned over him.  Luckily, he suffered only minor burns & injuries.  The insurance lady decided I had great powers of prescience, and we’ve been friendly ever since.  Once the fire started, sales of new policies were suspended, so she had to turn a lot of people away.

go site Back to 2003
That 4th of July, I went over and said something to the Texans about shooting the damn fireworks off.  Begged ’em to stop.  They’d keep till another day when the fire danger was past. 

Not that it did any good – they kept right on with the ’em.  This was their big annual barbecue, and these Texans take that seriously.  They’ve built a smokehouse, and import mesquite to cure their meat.  They weren’t going to change their party plans for nuthin’!  And all they had to do was turn around and face the other way, and they could have watched a friggin’ conflagration.  Plenty enough thrills for anyone with a lick of sense. 

                     

I often tell myself:  see They can’t help it.  They’re Texans.  They don’t know any better.  (Nothing personal pinche tejano, honest!)

These jerkoffs with their friggin’ flag, and their big party the day George Bush gave his acceptance speech at the 2004 Republican Convention, and their repeatedly describing a village ne’er-do-well (named Pablito, fer chrissakes) a “nigger”, have some kind of inexplicable superiority attitude, an annoying arrogance, probably because they have their big old flagpole and shitloads of money.  And they keep their very own Mexicans (from Mexico) in a trailer on their property, to work for them.  Spraying toxic stuff with some regularity, to boot!  Probably an excellent example of jobs Americans wouldn’t want to do…

And there was a small epiphany that 4th of July.  Being “patriotic”, and being a just plain old “good citizen” are not at all the same thing.  Me, I skip the flag waving and saber rattling and associated drumbeats.  I’m more in the “good citizen” camp.  I recycle, and keep energy consumption down through a variety of “alternative” energy sources – some as low-tech as a clothesline, grow native and food plants, and so on.  To my thinking, no amount red-white-and-blue bunting, no amount of “God Bless America” blasting out of a gigantic truckborne speaker is enough of a fig leaf to make up for not being a good citizen.

And so, those annoying Texans next door taught me a useful lesson.  Even if they don’t know any better themselves.

Bush Derangement Syndrome

I was going to do a Matt Yglesias imitation and consider the argument (implicit I think) presented by Megan McCardle about whether  Paul Krugman is too well, anti-Bush. For us of course this is a silly argument. But Krugman is a New York Times columnist. Should he start his discussions of Bush policies from a more measured point and then argue why Bush is wrong?

It reminded me of Brad DeLong’s longrunning series of “serious” people who became “shrill.” And of course Krugman was the original “Shrill One.” Which THEN reminded me of a post I wrote at Daily Kos where I explained my own evolution on viewing the Bush Administration. I’ll reprint it on the flip.

Here it is:

What with Jim Brady and Ann Althouse and other theoretically not stupid folks wondering what hit them in the Left Blogosphere it got me to thinking — do these people think we just out of the blue got angry and strident about the Bush Administration and Republicans? Have they ever thought about what has happened to our country since November 2000?

Let me start by establishing my centrist and bipartisan credentials – I’ve written it before but it is important to my story, so I repeat it here – I think George H.W. Bush, Bush 41, on the Iraq invasion of Kuwait and Desert Storm, performed as well as any President has in my lifetme. In fact, I do not believe ANY President in our history could have performed as well.

You see, I wholeheartedly supported Desert Storm. I thought it was an absolutely essential action, necessary for the well being and national security of the United States. Yes, like Howard Dean, on Desert Storm, I was more hawkish than Sam Nunn, who opposed Desert Storm.

Apart from the decision, Bush 41’s execution of the war was brilliant – diplomatically, he built a coalition of 34 nations that included 17,000 Syrian troops, 40,000 Egyptian troops, 118,000 Saudi troops, 40,000 UAE troops, 25,000 Omani troops not to mention over a 100,000 troops from our NATO allies; (and in addition, Bush committed over a half million U.S. troops to the operation. When you go to war, you do not half ass it.); economically, he got the Japanese, Saudis and Kuwaitis to foot the bill; militarily, the ground war ended in 4 days with minimal Coalition casualties.

Bush 41 got UN approval. Bush 41 made sure that war was the last resort, as the famous meeting between James Baker and Tariq Aziz a week prior to the commencement of hostilities made manifest to the world.

And finally, Bush knew when to stop. His decision to NOT march to Baghdad was roundly criticized by a whole bunch of folks for ten years. Not by me. Ever. As today events demonstrate, Bush 41’s BEST decision was stopping Desert Storm.

And I said this LONG before the nightmare that George W. Bush might be President was even a possibility.

Is it only blogs that have reacted strongly to this Administration? Consider Paul Krugman. If you only went by Andrew Sullivan, Bill O’Reilly and the Wingnuts, you would think that Paul Krugman arrived on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times after serving a long stint at the Comintern (which reminds me, for those of you who don’t know, I am virulently anti-Communist, anti-Castro, dislike and distrust Chavez, and believed the Soviet Union was an Evil Empire.) But Paul Krugman has always been a highly distinguished economist, at or near the top of his field.

Do these folks wonder what happened to Krugman to make him “The Shrill One”?

Do they wonder at all? Can the last five years of lies, failures, incompetence, illegalities, warmongering, McCarthyism, and just plain stupidity not register at all to these folks?

Do they wonder why we distrust the Media? After watching its performance during the Clinton Administration and now watching it during the worst, most mendacious Administration since Nixon?

When is “shrillness” and “stridency” ever justified to them? What should our reactions be in their minds?

You know, it would have been unfathomable to me ten years ago that the Media and the DC Elite would have been told that the President was deliberately violating the law IN ORDER TO SPY ON AMERICANS and the sum of their reaction would have been “how does it play politically?”

But that is exactly what I expected from today’s Media. And the Adam Nagourneys, Sheryl Gay Stolbergs, the Dana Milbanks and the Jim Vandenheis did not disappoint.

This is what they are – incompetent, clueless, souless, amoral – and unreliable. That they wonder why we rage is not surprising.

Indeed, that they wonder is just another indictment of them.

If Watergate would have happened today, it would have been a a story for about a week, and then forgotten. And those screaming about it would have been called “shrill” and “strident.” But if a blowjob were involved, Sally Quinn would not rest until the President were held to account.

What does this all mean? To me it means this – the reasonable serious position to take with George Bush and any position, initiative, statement, etc. from Bush or his minions is to distrust it, to think it is nefarious, incompetent, stupid or worse. It can be proven otherwise but all doubts are decided against him and his fools.

Bush inspires try for new world record in Sydney

( – promoted by melvin)

Hat tip Sydney Indymedia

Nothing else reaches the frat boy. Maybe he will understand this.

Organizers in Sydney hope to set a new world record on Friday, mooning the president of the United States with 2000 sideways smiles simultaneously from Hyde Park, an area of Sydney not off limits for normal use during the APEC meeting.

Details at bumsnotbombs.org




by photobucket

blast it all. Imageshack:


Thanks LoE. I’ve seen about enough different versions of this image now.

Four at Four

The News at 4 o’clock. Four stories, only four, that are interesting or important. The headlines:

  1. B-52 mistakenly flies across America with nukes aboard

  2. New Zealand’s prime minister heads into APEC nuke showdown

  3. New fears for Congo gorillas as rebels seize Virunga reserve

  4. USGS Looking for Fossil Fuels in the Arctic

The stories are below the fold.

  1. The Military Times reports that a B-52 bomber was loaded with six nuclear warheads and mistakenly flown across the U.S.

    A B-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in an Air Force-wide investigation, according to three officers who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.

    The B-52 was loaded with Advanced Cruise Missiles, part of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 of the ACMs. But the nuclear warheads should have been removed at Minot before being transported to Barksdale, the officers said. http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=acquistare-viagra-online-%C3%A8-sicuro The missiles were mounted onto the pylons of the bomber’s wings.

    Advanced Cruise Missiles carry a W80-1 warhead with a yield of 5 to 150 kilotons and are specifically designed for delivery by B-52 strategic bombers.

    Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Ed Thomas said the transfer was safely conducted and the weapons were in Air Force custody and control at all times.

    However, the mistake was not discovered until the B-52 landed at Barskdale, which left the warheads unaccounted for during the approximately 3 1/2 hour flight between the two bases, the officers said.

  2. According to New Zealand’s The Dominion Post, Prime Minister Helen Clark is opposing APEC advocacy of nuclear power as a climate change silver bullet.

    Prime Minister Helen Clark will fly into controversy when she arrives in Sydney for the Apec summit after US President George Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard pushed nuclear energy as a solution to climate change.

    Speaking at a joint press conference today, the Australian and US leaders highlighted climate change as a key focus of this week’s Apec leaders summit, which brings together 21 world leaders.

    But their declaration on nuclear power as a form of clean energy to reduce climate change emissions will be difficult for New Zealand to swallow, with its stated opposition to nuclear power.

    Speaking ahead of this week’s summit, Miss Clark said on Monday she expected the final communique from the leaders’ summit to respect the positions of countries like New Zealand on nuclear energy…

    She said NZ had always been on a different track to the US and Australia on nuclear issues.

  3. More bad news for Congo’s last few gorillas. The Independent notes that Congolese rebels have seized the Virunga reserve.

    Rebel forces loyal to a renegade general in the Democratic Republic of Congo have seized control of large swaths of conservation reserve, placing the rare mountain gorillas that live there in grave danger.

    Conservationists fear for the safety of the 380 gorillas living in the forests of the Virunga National Park, in the North Kivu province. There are only 700 of the gorillas worldwide.

    North Kivu has been the scene of violent clashes between the Congolese army and forces loyal to General Laurent Nkunda. The army claims to have killed 28 rebel soldiers in recent weeks, while the general described the situation as “a state of war” over the weekend.

    Conservationists reported that General Nkunda’s forces surrounded ranger stations in the park on Monday, seizing rifles and equipment and forcing the evacuation of park workers and their families. The UN refugee agency estimates that 170,000 people have fled the fighting in North Kivu in the past year.

  4. The Bush administration seems more concerned about finding out if there is oil in the arctic than the ice is melting. According to Spiegel Online, the USGS is looking for fossil fuels in the Arctic.

    The Russian flag planted on the floor of the Arctic Ocean (more…) in early August may have gotten all the headlines. But while countries surrounding the Arctic get geared up for what promises to be a drawn-out diplomatic tiff over who owns what beneath the polar ice cap, the US Geological Survey is busy trying to figure out whether that territory is even worth owning.

    For the next several months — until the presentation of its final report in the summer of 2008 — the USGS will be conducting an assessment of just how much oil and gas might be hiding under the ice. By analyzing rock types and formations and by looking at geologic history, the team hopes to provide accurate guesses as to where deposits are to be found and whether they contain natural gas, crude oil — or nothing…

    When and whether those “resources” will ever be proven, however, remains unclear. The estimate took rock formations into account and looked at eastern Greenland’s similarity to the geological make-up of oil- and gas-rich areas of Norway. find discount cialis professional from online drugstore Furthermore, as the report points out, even if the fossil riches were proven, there is at present no profitable way to extract reserves buried under a thick armor of floating ice.

    Who cares if the North Pole may be ice free by 2030. The faster the ice melts, the quicker we can get at the oil, right?

So, what else is happening?

Blog Roll Call

Please give your suggestions for additions to the Blog Roll. 

Does anyone have any objections to the sites I have already listed?  (I have to include all the places buhdy cross-posts… not sure what they all are, but MLW is one of them)

Should we create more subsections, e.g. Politics, News, Take Action, Congress, Humor, etc.  (or put some of these in their own blox)?

Also, if you are a contributing editor here and I haven’t listed your alternate blog(s), I apologize. Please let me know the name and URL and I will add it.

My friend from Santa Rosalia, Baja

This is a slightly edited version of a story I did last year in July about a friend of mine. Juan didn’t go back to Baja after all past Christmas. He told me it would be too difficult to return here and he has few people left in Santa Rosalia now. He’d like to go back before he dies, though. That’s what he told me.

I haven’t seen Juan for almost four months – the longest it’s been since I met him years ago. When the weather gets cold here in Seattle, perhaps he will knock on my door.

Juan, I have more work for you, and a pot of coffee to brew.

There is a town by the name of Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez, in Baja California.  When you hear a Santa Rosalia native say the name, the word “Rosalia” has the most lyrical and lovely sound, and you imagine the town as a woman, dark hair captured at the nape of a long and elegant neck, red rose behind the ear, smoky eyes. A sultry rolling “R”, a slightly flat “O”, and softer “S” – “Rosalia”.

Sunset at Santa Rosalia A story below the fold…

It is a salt water town with a most unique history.  In the United States we often ignore our own past and the building of this country by immigrants who were unwelcome but instrumental in erecting the industrial foundation of our economy in the 1800’s – the Irish, the Chinese, the Scandinavians; add just about any other nationality to the mix and you’d have the right of it.  Santa Rosalia echoes a similar melting pot past to our own United States history.

The town of Santa Rosalia was the site of a gold and copper rush in the 1860’s, a time when the occupation of Mexico by France and the governance of Emperor Maximilien was on the decline, but French business interests still sought wealth in an untamed country far across the sea from Mother France. 

Copper was discovered, and then gold, and soon the mines began.  Terrible, dirty mines constructed by a French company and operated with virtual slave labor.  Yaqui Indian prisoners by the thousands were forced to work in the Santa Rosalia mines in the late 1880’s to the early 1900’s.  The Yaquis are an indigenous population, and were severely persecuted by the Mexican dictator, Porforio Diaz, for over thirty years.  After resisting conquerors from the Aztecs to the Conquistadores, Yaquis were inevitably the target of a mass ethnic cleansing campaign by the Mexican government, decades after our own United States fought the last military-centered “Indian wars”.

In addition, Chinese and Japanese laborers were brought over to work in the mines and on railway lines that would support the mining industry.  With a promise that there would be land to grow rice on, thousands came to Baja. It only took a few years for this importation to fail, as the new workers discovered Baja was no place to grow their staple food.  But a few residual Chinese and Japanese settled around the Sea of Cortez. Santa Rosalia was a company town in the worst sense and in one two year period between 1901 and 1903, over 1400 miners died from blood and lung diseases due to the pollution emitted from the copper smelter and the dust in the mines where there was no aeration.

Santa Barbara de Santa Rosalia

Santa Rosalia has a steel church (purportedly) designed by Gustave Eiffel.  From photographs, it appears a rather simple structure, as perhaps it would, since its mere existence is due to pre-fabrication. The church of Santa Barbara, Patron Saint of Miners, was transported across the ocean from Europe and then reassembled in Santa Rosalia. I use “purported”, as there is some debate on whether Eiffel was the architect or if the church of Santa Barbara de Santa Rosalia was actually designed by Bibiano Duclos, a Brazilian trained in France.  Either way, the church is one of several architectural phenomena in this town on the Sea of Cortez.  In Santa Rosalia, wooden houses with expansive porches and second floor balconies face onto the streets, much like the structures in New Orleans French Quarter.  When the French came into Santa Rosalia in the 19th century, they remade the village with a European flavor and redesigned dirt roads into grid-like streets and avenues.

The Sea of Cortez, where Santa Rosalia is located, is a place I’ve always longed to see, thanks to John Steinbeck.  Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez is a tale I read many years ago in the few months I scraped by on miminum wage near Cannery Row in Monterey in the early, early eighties. The Log from the Sea of Cortez evokes something, I don’t know what, maybe a memory of what you think you should know, or a place you’ve always longed for and never seen. A mind can make false memories like that. Creatures exist there on the islands that are found nowhere else in the world.  It is a kind of Galapagos, lost now that so much of the ecology of just a few decades ago has been pillaged or destroyed by the commerce of both sport fishing and man’s idle wastefulness.

There are still wonders there.  There is a crab, called the “Sally Lightfoot Crab” and where else could you find a creature with such a name? Steinbeck wrote the following in his Log:

the Sally Lightfoot crab “They seem to be able to run in all four directions; but more than this, perhaps because of their rapid reaction time they appear to read the mind of their hunter. Man reacts peculiarly but consistently in his relationship with Sally Lightfoot. His tendency eventually is to scream curses, to hurl himself at them, and to come up foaming with rage bruises all over his chest.”

A bit of a Darwin meets Gilligan read; lighter Steinbeck for the most part, humorous, adventurous and finally, sad, and all at the same time.

These are words, too, that I’d use to describe my friend Juan.  I’ve known Juan for about ten years now.  Initially, Juan worked as a kind of a handyman and also did yard work for my now ex-husband. He worked for us for the brief time my husband and I shared life together, and Juan continues to work for us both separately now. Over the years, he’s done painting, clean-up, yard work, debris removal, and performed the moving and organizing of the detritus of my life. 

We have a curious interaction.  My life has certainly changed in the last four-five years and I am no longer “flush”, now that the technology boom and the Clinton years are part of my past. But there is still work to be done. Juan has no phone and no consistent address.  He gives a call about every two weeks, usually from Casa Latina in downtown Seattle or El Centro de la Raza on Beacon Hill, to see if I need this or that job done.

When one is a single woman, it’s hard to admit that there are times when a stronger pair of hands or a stronger back is necessary, and in my case, it’s doubly difficult, given that I used to lift weights and grew up thinking I could do anything.  As the years have moved on, so has my pride, and pernicious anemia defeats my energy. Juan’s strong back has become something that I count on to assist me with moving furniture or making runs to the local dump.  I don’t think Juan understands how much I value his assistance during these chores, but it is truly a gift to me that there is someone in my life who is willing to help out without questioning why I need something moved somewhere or if something has to be done that day at that time, when I want it done. So what if he is paid for it? Payment doesn’t always guarantee willingness. Juan always shows up ready and willing to work.

He is from Santa Rosalia, on the Sea of Cortez, on the Baja Peninsula.  Juan’s own ethnic origins are as unique as the foundations of Santa Rosalia.  Juan is a quarter Chinese, a quarter Indian, along with half Spanish-Mexican ancestry. He has a mahogany complexion, high cheekbones and straight, thick black hair, all echoes of his Indian and Chinese ancestry. Juan and I were born in the same year, but he’s traveled so many more places and lived so many more lives, by his own account, than I ever could.

His stories are part of his charm. Juan has casually dropped “big fish” tales of when he used to help charter fishermen on the Sea of Cortez as they fought marlin and swordfish, talked of his time playing futbol for a semi-professional team in Mexico City, related the story of a bar fight in Guatemala where he stood next to a man who was stabbed in the back at a bar and how he wound up with the murderer’s knife in his hand and that is why he left Guatemala.  Episodes in Nicaragua fighting with rebels. Leaving Ecuador with another man’s girlfriend.  Witness to a shooting in Juarez. Shortstop on a farm team in Costa Rica.

I’ve seen Juan walk into my yard on a Saturday morning, with a black eye from the night before, teeth knocked out, the casualty of too much earned money in his pocket the previous day.  A bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label was used as a weapon rather than as the container of whiskey it was meant to be. Whiskey and spicy food are his medicines of choice on days when his sinuses are congested and in Seattle in the winter, that can be so many days.  Seattle is the runny nose capital of the world for those from warmer climates.

During the years of my previous marriage, my husband and I had a small old pan abode cabin out on Tiger Mountain and there was a very plain and ugly, but clean, 1960’s ranch-style house on the property. In the summer, Juan would come out there and live during the week and do land-clearing for my husband.  There were nights that I could smell the best stews and grilled food emanating from that house.  There was a kind of Mexican seafood cioppini, with red and green peppers, chilies and tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, shrimp, scallops, chili powder, cumin and oregano. My nose could separate each lovely aroma wafting out of that house and into the country air of Tiger Mountain.  Growing up on the sea coast of Baja gave Juan the skills of a master chef.  Other nights after payday, he’d often buy a steak or two and grill them up, and I suspect, if there were two steaks, he’d eat both of them… Juan is around 6 feet tall and if he weighs 150 lbs, I’d be surprised; but, boy, can he eat.

Juan’s power to weight ratio is amazing.  He’s often mentioned working in the copper mines from the time he was 14, and I know his father worked all his life in the mines, and died from lung cancer just a couple of years ago.  Most histories on the web of the copper mines from the El Boleo company  indicate that the mine closed down for good in 1985, so it’s possible that Juan worked there, even as a teenager.  There’s little other economy in that area of Baja, unless you work the tourist industry or fish.  I suspect that the closing of the mine and the subsequent downturn in employment is what sent Juan out of Santa Rosalia.  I once saw Juan lift a slab of concrete four inches thick and four feet by four feet wide using only the leverage of a crowbar and his back. To me, an astounding feat, given that he has the build of a lanky marathon runner. It makes sense that such strength has come from swinging a pick-axe inside a dark hole in a mountain.

Mining building, now a museum in Santa Rosalia

He’s told me about Mexico City, where his ex-wife lives and where there are so many people and so much corruption.  He’s talked about parts of Colombia which he said he’s hitch-hiked to and I never know completely what to believe, as each time he tells a story, there’s a wonderful embellishment that grows the story beyond its original recitation. That can be the beauty of storytelling, right?

He has two sons who are in their twenties now.  One is somewhere in East L.A. and living with Juan’s uncle. The other apparently works in computers in Mexico City.  These two are sons that Juan has not seen since a couple of years before he came to the States in 1990.  He never saw his sons grow up and he’s never known them as adults. Juan has a wandering spirit and I can imagine that life tied to one spot and the physical weight of responsibility from a family was simply too much for him.  He stays in touch somehow, though.  I know that a good portion of the money he earns, he sends to one of his sisters and her children, now living in his parent’s house in Santa Rosalia.  Juan’s mother died around four years ago, and he has only a brother and a sister left out of six siblings. 

In the summer months, Juan sleeps outside in the “jungle”, and when that gets too crowded or dangerous or overly policed, he moves to Interlaken Park on North Capitol Hill. It’s a crazy and transient life, but I know he’s tried several times to share apartments or houses with other workers, but inevitably, the tensions run too high among so many single, Latino men, and fights break out over women or liquor or money, and things get too hot and Juan moves back to the outdoors, where he doesn’t have to compromise on his peace and quiet. This is what he tells me. The only belongings he maintains are an old battery operated TV, a sleeping bag, a change of clothes (which are always clean), a few toiletries, and some Spanish language dime novels.  When living in the “jungle” or the park, he carefully buries these few belongings in a plastic tarp, well hidden from prying eyes and park police.  Long, long ago he lost his identity cards, but somehow he makes due.

I trust Juan with my home and around my kids and have never had reason to doubt that trust, even when my trust in others has failed for lesser reasons.  He can never remember the kids’ names and they are all “chica” or “girl” or “honey”.  In all the years I’ve known him, my door has been unlocked to Juan, and he knows that if he needs money he can call me for work.  I’ve been down to my last ten dollars and I’ve given him half.  When I’ve had no money, I share the contents of my cupboards and freezer with him. 

My Spanish is extremely limited (to about twenty words) and his English is poor. It can be comical sometimes, because I’ll ask him to do something a certain way, and he’ll nod his head with authority. I’ll think he understands and then I return a couple of hours later and find that the tree I wanted lightly trimmed has been cut to within 6 inches of the ground. My English, even for native English speakers, is often too fast and I forget this sometimes when I speak with him. He speaks to me rapidly in Spanish sometimes and forgets that I don’t speak it well enough to understand at all.  Most of the time, however, our common communication and results are more successful.

Juan is going back to Baja in December, for the first time since he left some twenty years ago.  I’ve asked him what he thinks to find there.  He tells me maybe work, maybe nothing.  He’s lonely for the blueness of the sea and he thinks of Santa Rosalia, at least the Santa Rosalia he remembers.  He wants to see his sister, to see where his mother and father are now buried. He wants to go home for awhile.  I think I’ll never see him again. He insists he will return in six months, but I’m not so sure.  I don’t think he knows how hard now it is to get into the States. I tell him, “Well, you’ll always have my phone number, Juan, so call.”

I have not found many people in my life who always work hard, have honest eyes, but can always tell a good story.

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, 
They have to take you in.”
Robert Frost

 

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly news roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, trans, and otherwise “other” community.  I haven’t yet decided on the final form for this kind of roundup, so suggestions are much appreciated:

  • September will be a busy month for pro-LGBT legislation.  The Senate is considering a Hate Crimes Prevention act (also known as “The Matthew Shepard Act“), which would allow the Justice Department to aid local law enforcement in crimes motivated by bigotry.  The text of this one seems a little too ambiguous to be comfortable: the Justice Department would be able to claim jurisdiction over local law enforcement if it feels the locals are “unwilling” to prosecute hate crimes.  Nonetheless, it has an impressive list of supporters.

See below for more…

  • The other big legislation coming up for discussion in a national Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would place sexual orientation under the same protected status as race and gender (but not, significantly, trans-gender).  Hearings today in the House’s Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions will feature an interesting roster of witnesses, including Senator Barney Frank and Congresswoman Tammy Baldin.

    Speaking of ENDA, The Boston Globe profiles one of the men who will testify today, 47 year old police officer Michael Carney:

    At a graduation party, he saw a fellow officer come out of the men’s room with a bloody nose. A police supervisor had beaten him up when he learned the officer had brought a male friend to the party, Carney recalled.

    Religious groups are fighting hard against the Act, which they feel does not adequately protect them from having to hire against their beliefs.

  • Iowa Governor Chet Culver is showing just how equivocating the gay marriage debate can make people.  The Des Moines Register take a snapshot of that equivocation, as Culver “personally believes” that marriage should be restricted to one man and one woman, claims a constitutional amendment is unnecessary, support a law banning gay marriage, but will wait to see if the courts determine the legality of that law.
  • Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride took place this past weekend, although low turnout has some attendees concerned.  Nevertheless, Atlanta’s is the largest Pride of its kind, and in no danger of folding:

    The parade, organizers said, also helps put a face on African-American gays, lesbians and those of transgender and transsexual orientation.

    “People are here, and they are proud of who they are,” said Zandra Conway, an In the Life Atlanta board member whose group organized the parade. “It gives us a chance to show people what’s happening with us.”

    Punctuated with songs from the civil rights movement, the march culminated with a rally at the Capitol steps.

  • How’s this for “the times are changin'”: ABC news reports that a high school student smacked down John McCain for his wobbly stance on civil rights, calling him anything but a leader.  Definitely the most entertaining news today!
  • In this week’s “embarrassing gaffe” news, comedian Jerry Lewis shocks audiences during a telethon when he decides that this is funny:

    “Oh, your family has come to see you. You remember Bart, your oldest son . . . Jessie, the illiterate faggo– No.”

    Apparently Lewis tried to pull back at the last moment, and failed.

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From the blogs:

  • Terrance at The Republic of T is putting together a Hate Crimes Project profiling victims of anti-gay and anti-trans violence.  Check out the latest installment, which discusses two murders in the same neighborhood, separated by a decade:

    most of all, more than ten years later, here we are still talking about whether stuff like what happened to Garzon and Rivera should even be considered hate crimes.

  • Matt at Interstate Q discusses proposed LGBT center at North Carolina State which has turned into an year-long display of anti-gay rhetoric.  Predictably, most of the opposition is couched in softer discrimination, like religious freedom and financial concerns.
  • Andy at Towelroad celebrates the one couple that managed to marry before the Iowa judge issued a stay on the reversal of the marriage ban: cheers and congratulations to Tim McQuillan and Sean Fritz, both students at Iowa State University.

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And I’d be amiss not to end with a fun video clip.  For the flagship installment of this series, what better than this scene from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, everyone’s favorite punk rock transsexual musical?

Discuss…

Scheduling note

Admins and editors who haven’t signed in to docudharmaadmin, please do. And check it, every day. Ek has put up a weekly schedule, so you can see which slots are taken, and which are open. Once we go live, it will be important that everyone keep track of where they can fit their front page posts, so we aren’t stepping on each other, and aren’t leaving any dead slots.

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