Category Archives: politico

About Al

I’ve started a few blog posts (and diary entries on DailyKos) trying to get a handle on my thoughts and feelings about this nomination and then deleted them.  Thinking about Alberto Gonzales makes me clench my teeth together until my jaw aches.

Everything in my heart wants to feel good, proud even, about the elevation of Gonzales.  His story is the American dream — right down to the huge family and the burning desire to make good.  He’s Mexican American (I would say Chicano, but doubt he’d agree), the child of farmworkers, the only one in his family to attend college.  And he looks like my father; they could be brothers.  No one who looks like him (or me) has ever been nominated for so high an office before by any president from either party.

Gonzales also wrote that the Geneva Convention is “quaint,” that torture can be justified.  He’s got to go down. Though, of course given the composition of the Senate, he probably won’t go down. But he’ll most likely be raked over the coals. With justification.  

But I won’t enjoy watching.  Democrats who oppose him  are going to look ugly — a group of white or mostly white men pilloring a latino man.  Damn Gonzales.  Damn Bush.  

But most of all, damn the democratic party.  It makes me angry that my own party hasn’t seen fit to reward Mexican American loyalty and achievment.  Maybe this would be easier for me to take if Gonzales wasn’t the first.  

Red fish, blue fish

A friend of mine who lives in a southern state wrote a frustrated blog entry Red State Blue State Schmoo State. This entry is my reply which was too long winded for her comment section.

red-state-blue-stateHere’s my favorite election map. It’s from it’s from Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman at the University of Michigan. The map is a cartogram using a color scale that ranges from red for 70% Republican or more, to blue for 70% Democrat or more. Also, it looks like a fish (hence the title of the blog entry), well, it does to me anyway.

I understand why you’re frustrated. This as a terrible time to live in the US and, imo, a hard time to be American. But as someone who’s from California (blue, though red under Reagan) and has lived in both Louisiana (was blue then but barely) and Ohio (lived in a very red part), I think your anger is really being mis-directed. And wonder is screaming in caps at democrats who live in the “blue” states really more constructive?

What you’re seeing as an intellectual elite bashing “red states” I see as people who live in urban areas and in “liberal” parts of the US realizing (maybe later than we should have) that there’s a huge value divide right now in the US. Because I lived in Lima 10 years ago, I knew it already, but even I was shocked by this election — maybe I had gotten lulled by Clinton. What we’re seeing now is the religious right reaping their reward for 20 years of organization. I’ve got to say that religious fundimentalism came as a huge shock to me when I moved to Lima — both the political power of it and the (what to me seemed) extreme nature of some of the beliefs (ie not allowing kids to read Dr. Suess because the books promote humanism, women’s shelters being opposed because they were “destroying” families, white people accepting as fact and explaining to me that there’s “blacks” and then there’s “ni**ers”). I used to write letters home saying “you won’t believe this, but…”

And friends and family didn’t believe me. Well, except for my sister who fell in love there and lives there still.

I had a hard time finding anything in common with a lot of the people I lived around. There was no single value we seemed to share — even ones we seemed to agree on came from such different bases that if we talked for too long about those we’d still end up arguing (I must have seemed like I was from Mars). And I had it easy because the university where my ex-husband taught had faculty that operated as a sort of democratic party cell for Allen County.

But most people who live in very blue cities inside blue states (like CA and NY) have never lived in Allen County Ohio. They assume that even Republicans are mostly the same as them (except on taxes) because that’s how most Republicans are that live around them. The re-election of GWB over the corpse of gay marriage seems obscene and incomprehensible. The only reason most people can come up with is that people in states / counties that went 50% or more for Bush are either being willfully unaware, are so prejudiced against anyone from the urban northeast or west coast that they’d rather see Bush re-elected than vote for them, are terribly mean-spirited and xenophobic or that they are stupid enough to have fallen for the crap that Rove and his ilk have been shoveling. Add to that all the transplants from the rural midwest and south to NY and CA who are very quick to say “they’re just backwards and biggoted back home” (if they’d liked it there, they wouldn’t have moved here, right?). And, of course, sites like SorryEverybody.Com have a lot of photos from people in Repubican states calling the majority of voters in their states “stupid” or worse.

It’s made people here recoil over the past 4 years, both in horror and fear, from something they don’t understand and have no experience to use to help understand it.

Because I’ve lived in Lima, I don’t think that. Because I know people in the midwest and south, I know there’s a lot of democrats there. But think of the news we’re seeing. We don’t see democrats struggling in Utah or Alabama to GOTV. We see lots of Bush/Cheney people arguing against abortion and gay marriage. It doesn’t make them look like any place you’d want to spend a lot of time.

I know it must be frustrating for you in different ways. But try, for a moment to imagine what it would be like to live in an area that went 85% for Kerry and be trying to make sense of this election. I could go days without seeing a single Bush-Cheney sign or bumpers sticker in Los Angeles. Kerry ones were everywhere because so many people had ordered them (at a pretty high price too, helping pay to make them cheaper in “swing” states). I suspect the reverse is true in much of Utah. Being angry and calling other democrats liberal or elitist makes hearing the rest of what you have to say hard, especially given the number of people from “blue” states who gave up weeks or months of work or vacation time in their own states to GOTV and help Kerry in states that ended up going red.

You are right that name calling and accusations in each direction don’t help. But the divide is real. I know that even in the reddest county (like Allen, OH) there’s people who worked really really hard for Kerry. For my part I really do support democrats living in what have become “safe” Republican states. I’m just not sure what you (collective here) think I should be doing that I’m not.

I guess another problem is I couldn’t live there — when I did I felt afraid, belittled and smothered. And so, much as I love them, it’s hard to identify with progressives (even my own sister) who can and do. My impulse is to just try and get all of you out of there.

That probably sounded condesending to someone like yourself who grew-up and has family there. But I don’t mean it to be. Like you, I guess I’m just frustrated. Why not at least give me until all the votes are counted in this election to get over it and start planning for midterm 2006?

lo siento

totally-sorryRemember when I say I was going to try and lay off politics? I promise I will, but this site is way too cool not to write about. Basically it gives all of us who are really sorry Shurb got re-elected a place to give apologies to the world. It also gives the world a place to accept them. Here’s the photo I submitted.

Clicking through the photos in this site made me feel really good. A lot of them are funny, plus it’s great not to feel so alone in our sadness. Misery loves company, right?

And on a more upbeat note, Ashcroft resigned today.

Guns, god and gays

On the usenet group I read someone commented that the DNC needs to get it together if they want to ever win an election. Specifically on the issues of “guns, god and gays” the Democratic party is apparently out of touch.

I shudder at the thought he’s right. I prefer to think that Bush won because most Americans are afraid and for whatever reason he made them feel less so. That they’re voting for him out of bigotry against gays and lesbians is a terrible thought.

gregory-deanHave I mentioned my nephew before? His name is “Gregory Dean,” after his grandfathers and he’s very cute. This is an old picture — he’s gotten even cuter and has more hair. I mention him because he’s the son of my sister and her wife. That’s right, wife.

They got married a while ago now — back when Clinton was President and the world was younger. I say married because I stood up for my sister, signed a marriage certificate. A Methodist minister married them in a ceremony with my family and my sister’s wife’s standing side-by-side under a big tent. My own marriage ended in divorce; my parents still stands strong after 38 years.

The bigotted wing of the republican party would have you believe that my sister’s marriage (but not my divorce) is a threat to heterosexual marriage — insulting even to use the term “marriage” to talk about their union. Odd, my parents who were married by both the Catholic church and the state of California seem fine. No bolts of lightening on the wedding day. They’ve always been happy my sister found someone to spend her life with. And they adore my nephew. He’s their grandson, even though my sister can’t legally be called his mother.

I believe in God. I believe he wants my sister to be happy and for her and her wife to raise this child to be a healthy, strong and ethical man. And a Democrat who’ll vote to make sure his moms have the same rights as his aunt.

Guns, gods and gays. Right.

Who would Jesus shoot?


jesuslandSomeone said last night that we should have let the South go when we had the chance. Others have suggested an exodus to Canada. Now, I like Canada and think there’s a lot to admire about its quiet government that allows even poor people to go to doctors. However, I’m a Californian bred and born. I love the weather and the lifestyle here. Futhermore, I need access to good Mexican food or I’ll die. I was wondering how to make this work. After all, California has the 8th largest economy in the world. Add to it the economies of Oregon, Washington (they have hydro-electric power too), plus the northeastern US and we’d really have a lot to offer Canada. They’d get Hawaii too, with all its sunshine and tropical fruit. How could they resist? Canada already has national healthcare and allows gay marriage. We’d need to step-up on those issues, easy enough for many of us, hard for a few cultural conservatives in each state. But we could offer a 5 year amnesty where “cultural conservatives” (read: bigots) were allowed to relocate south or east to “Jesusland.” Jesusland would be a place where Americans who find the idea of Thomas Jefferson’s seperation of church and state a quaint myth could wrap themselves in faith-based democracy. Prayer and corporal punishment could be returned to schools (assuming it had ever been allowed to leave). Abortion would be illegal as would, of course, birth control. There’s a lot of open space in Jesusland. Christian conservatives would be free to be fruitful and multiply. The rest of us who live in the “reality based” community could keep our worship (or the lack thereof) private as a matter for ourselves and our God. Churches would be allowed to speak on political matters only if they were willing to lose their tax-exempt status. I’d watch my own religion, Catholicism, personally. I doubt this would be allowed to happen though. You see, “Jesusland” needs California and New York too much. We get back less than .70 in federal services for every dollar we pay in taxes. They can’t less us go. We’re needed for their pork. Still, one day after the re-election of George Bush, I need this much of a fantasy to hold onto.

I voted

Don’t you love getting the sticker? It’s been 5 hours and I’m still wearing mine.

Today was the first time I voted in Santa Monica. Most of my other elections (except for my spell in Ohio), I’ve voted at the Hollywoodland realty office in Beachwood Canyon and then crossed the street to have breakfast at the Villiage Cafe.

Today though I walked down the block to California street and then the five blocks to Lincoln Middle School. On my way, I passed a young couple (maybe 19 and 21) who looked lost. They saw my sample ballot and asked me if I knew where they needed to go to vote. So we walked together. They wanted to know what would happen when they got there — they were amazingly anxious about what id they needed to bring and how they’d prove they lived where they did. I tried to reassure them, pointing out that they had sample ballots, but they still seemed very tense. We reached the doors and the man doing the greeting / directing asked me if I needed help. I said no and pointed to the young couple and said, but this is the first time they’ve been. He shepherded them in and I waved goodbye.

I realized that thanks to my parents there was never anything about voting that seemed intimidating. I knew what to expect and simply looked forward to a chance to vote. By the time I was 18, I’d had a strong opinion on presidential candidates for at least two elections before.

For the first time ever I got exit polled today by the AP. That was very cool, especially when I realized the AP reporter was a former USC student. I couldn’t remember whether he liked me. I hope so.

Go Kerry, Go!

More addictive than even Snood

No, it’s not a new game (though I do get hooked on those pretty easily). It’s this interactive electoral map on the LA Times Website. I find myself there at least twice a day (more most — lots more) trying out new senarios for John Kerry to beat Bush. I celebrate when a state is declared blue or drifts from red back to white. My teeth clench when I see blue become white (what’s up Hawaii?) or a white is given back to red. I make it all right, put Kerry over the 270 top and hear the happy strains of “Hail to the Chief.”

Sometimes after a half hour of work on the map, I have plans for Kerry, if only I could reach him in time. Don’t forget Minnisota and Wisconson, I want to yell. You can’t lose states that went for Dukakis! Oddly, I don’t actually have the ear of the President, so I call or email friends and family and explain what I know needs to be done. They agree, of course.

republican-hqI don’t agree with Bush on a single issue and that makes it very hard for me to understand his appeal. One problem is I don’t know any smart people who are supporting Bush. In fact, the ones I know voting for him aren’t really voting for him. They’ve voting against Kerry for whatever reason. But where I live, no one loves Bush. I’ve never met or even seen a Cheney Cheerleader. This is Santa Monica where even the Repubican Headquarters has a Kerry / Edwards sign in front of it. (To be fair, they did take the sign down.) It’s meant as a slur, but I like the idea that we live in “The People’s Republic of Santa Monica.”

Downsides? Our rent is high. And Santa Monica is too small to solve California’s homeless problem on their own.

But when the wind blows east from the ocean, I can smell the sea.


coffinsI tried to write a “not-so-politcal” post yesterday, but I kicked the plug out of the computer and deleted it before I’d saved. And so now I’m back on politics. Does it bother anyone else that of the 1100 plus soldiers who’ve died, Bush hasn’t attended one funeral? I know at least some of the families have invited him. Does he think that by going and paying his respects to one or more of the soldiers who’ve died in his war that we’ll all suddenly realize what the human cost is? Personally, I think he’s afraid of calling attention to death. That our troops are killing and dying over in Iraq, leaving behind grieving families who fear they’ll never be whole again. It’s why it was illegal for there to be pictures of flag-drapped coffins coming on or off planes home — so much so that some have workers been fired for taking pictures. We’re told that this rule is out of respect for the families, but the families have said they feel comforted by the knowledge that the bodies are being watched over. They like seeing that they’re being treated with respect. But rows of flag covered coffins are a real bummer. Bush doesn’t want us to think about them. The freeway blogger pointed this out on an overpass here in LA with an exhibit. (Love his site and work.) Maybe it’s for the best though. As Calvin Trillin wrote, commenting on Bush’s notable absences: At least there’s no Bush eulogy On why they had to die. It’s better that they’re laid to rest Without another lie.

Tracking Bush’s memory hole

As soon as Winston had dealt with each of the messages, he clipped his speakwritten corrections to the appropriate copy of The Times and pushed them into the pneumatic tube. Then, with a movement which was as nearly as possible unconsicious, he crumpled up the original message and any notes that he himself had made, and dropped them into the memory hole to be devoured by the flames.

— George Orwell, 1984

I was reading DailyKos this afternoon and was struck by one posting specifically commenting on the Bush administration’s “scrubbing” of the White House website of any embarrassing audio and video clips. Talk about trying to sweep sand out of the ocean.

This site by blogger Brad Friedman tracks these various revisions.

I’m not a huge fan of George Orwell, but it’s hard not to see 2004 and the last four years as a move toward a 1984 world. A state of eternal war against a vague and ever changing enemy. The purpose of this war isn’t victory but fighting. The fighting justifies autocratic rule by an infallible leader whose errors are erased and therefore never existed. Dissenters can be called “enemies” of the state.

A Ministry of Truth whose job it is to erase and re-write history, making new reality and truth. Thought Police regulate every internal resistance.

Though this just struck me today, clearly students at Columbia have been thinking the same thing for a while now. Warning: the site is depressing.

If Bush is re-elected, are we voting for war or peace? Or for a man who doesn’t know the difference, who stated “I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.”

War is Peace.

Freedom is Slavery.

Ignorance is Strength…

…because we’ve always been at war with Oceania.

See Mom? We’re Not Nazis!

One of the newsgroups I read (soc.sexuality.spanking if you really need to know) had an off-topic discussion going on about whether or not Bush was like Hitler or whether it was trivializing the Holocaust to say so….

Is this really where we’ve come to? That we have to argue about whether or not our President is as bad as Hitler? And if we can’t prove he is, well, then see? It’s all okay then?

I mean, say what you like about Hitler, but at least he was self-made.

I find it bizarre beyond belief that we need to see Bush as being “like Hitler” in order to agree that he’s bad.

What he and Ashcroft have done is prey on the fears of Americans in the manner of fascists — making even sane people believe that if they sacrifice their freedoms and privacy they’ll somehow be safe. They’ve called dissent unpatriotic, forgetting somehow that we’re a nation founded on dissent.

No, I don’t think we’re about to round up Muslims in mass and lead them off to detainment camps. We’re not Nazis.

But we’re going the WRONG WAY. We’re giving in to terrorism ourselves by giving up freedoms.

I read on a site today someone defending Bush by saying that in a nation of 300 million people, the 1102 US soldiers who’ve been killed in action and the 8000+ who’ve been seriously wounded are insignificant. I’ve heard people say the freedom of the men being held at Guantanamo doesn’t matter — that it’s only a few hundred anyway.

This is deeply un American in my opinion. The rights of the individual matter. That’s the very basis our country is founded on. Whether it’s the 3000 killed on 9/11 or the lives of our soldiers overseas or their families at home — they all matter. Each of them. The lives of the people of Iraq matter. The rights of the men being held in Cuba matter. That’s why we need such good causes to send our troops into harms way. Because their lives all matter. And unless we can see the value in defending the rights of individuals to life and freedom, we erode our own to the same.

That’s backwards and wrong.