Saturday, February 17, 2007  

A National Shame Remembered

Whereas, The successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national defense material, national defense premises and national defense utilities as defined in Section 4, Act of April 20, 1918, 40 Stat. 533 as amended by the Act of November 30, 1940, 54 Stat. 1220. and the Act of August 21, 1941. 55 Stat. 655 (U.S.C., Title 50, Sec. 104):

Ironically, this day of remembrance falls on President's Day, February 19. On February 19th, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Excutive Order 9066, thus designating tens of thousabds of immigrants and their native born children as "enemy aliens."
Bowing to and fostering national fear, racism and exclusionary politics, Executive Order 9066 caused the arrest and detention of Japanese immigrants, Japanese-Americans, Italian immigrants, Italian-Americans, German immigrants and German-Americans, mostly on the West Coast.
The Japanese and Japanese-Americans bore the brunt of this order-they were "relocated" en masse to detention centers closer to the interior-places that were converted horse stables, abandoned buildings, etc. Their properties were often pillaged by their neighbors, their houses occupied, their businesses destroyed. Many Japanese-Americans never formally graduated high school since they were "relocated" before the end of the school year. Many of the young men were drafted into the army so they could "prove" what good citizens they were of a country which had killed habeus corpus and denied them their Constituional civil rights. These men formed the "Nisei Regiment," the most highly decorated of the war.
My family, too, were the subject of Executive Order 9066. Luckily for them, as Italians, they were not relocated, but their neighbors were not so lucky. That whole family, including their US-born American citizen children were sent to the camps. Before leaving, the father asked my grandfather, a fellow "enemy alien" to keep his family's things in my family's barn. This my grandfather did, and when the family came back, four years later, they gave my grandfather a kitchen table around which my family ate, every day of my life. These simple acts of decency and of gratitude are inscribed in that table and in the food handed around it.
This I remember.
There are those who would be apologists for this action- who claim that Executive Order 9066 was necessary for the safety of the nation. That it was to be expected. I don't believe this for one minute.
Like Martin Luther King, Jr. I believe that for this nation to be a decent respectable nation, it must live out the conscience of its creed and its constitution.
It is in times like these that the defense of our civil liberties is most incumbent upon us. They are not to be taken lightly (and therefore become optional), nor are they to be conferred upon minorities at the pleasure of the mainstream. For our civil liberties to have meaning, they must be vigorously applied without prejudice to all in times of crisis, lest they become meaningless in times of fair weather, when it is easiest to pay them lip service.
And so I, the grandchild of "enemy aliens," ask you, my fellow Americans to spend a few minutes remembering what fear, racism and a lack of conscience made possible 60 years ago.
In this time of crisis, as this administration herds us to the brink of another war, we must not allow them to con us into betraying what is the hallmark of this country: our collective civil liberties.

Robin over at Under the Holly Tree has an excellent list of activities you can go to.

Thursday, February 15, 2007  
Here's a letter I sent to the San Diego Union Tribune in response to one Mr. Carmody who was rather unhappy that the San Diego police had been called out to help assure the protests last year were safe and peaceful.
Dear Editor,

Apparently Thomas Carmody would prefer protesters to go to Washington, DC to protest the war and leave San Diego out of it, so as not to tax the local police force.
I, too, would like to recognize the local police for their ability to calmly patrol the protests and enable their fellow citizens to engage in their First Amendment privileges.
I would also like to remind Mr. Carmody that this war is a force that gives the San Diego region meaning. San Diego plays a very important role in making this war possible, and benefits greatly from the defense money for which this region sells its soul and its youth.
Here are but a few examples:
The San Diego region is home to the Marines, the Navy SEALS and the Airforce, all of which pour money into the local economy and whose presence in the civilian population makes this region a sitting duck for attacks.
Some of the most horrific war crimes of this conflict have been committed by Camp Pendelton Marines. Several Navy Seals have also been implicated in abuse.
San Diego-based Titan Corporation sent hundreds of interpreters to Iraq, thus facilitating the war and the occupation. Several of these interpreters also helped facilitate the abuses of Abu Ghraib.
San Diego-based SAIC scooped up numerous non-bid and bid contracts for Iraq, including the production of American propaganda and the planting of false stories in the Iraqi media.
Our congressional representatives have worked hard to funnel DOD money to local contractors, thus further greasing the war machine and their own careers.
Military recruiters recruit heavily in the barrio and other disadvantaged neighborhoods, thus ensuring frontline fodder. Over 15% of the official casualties come from California.
According to National, the war in Iraq is costing San Diego alone, $1,700,000 and San Diego County is contributing $3,900,000,000. You and I have already paid $1,275 each. That is alot in a region whose police are underpaid and overworked. It is a staggering amount when you consider the fact that California schools rank near the bottom of the schools in the nation, and San Diego schools are near the bottom of that, Little wonder then, the recruiters look for and find new recruits who have few opportunities before them.
Yes, war is a many-splendored thing, made possible, in large part by a region that feeds and feeds on the war machine: San Diego.
Which is precisely why the protests are here. Washington may command, but the San Diego region answers the call to the tune of thousands of dollars, war crimes and war dead.
And that, Mr, Carmody, is the price we all pay.

and what I would like to say here is this: regions such as San Diego have become defense money whores. As long as a region's economy becomes inextricably tied to the Military machine and profits from war, as long as the military housed in regions such as San Diego continue to agree to ship out by merely appearing for deployment, as long as we continue to say "support our troops!" without questioning why these people were not better educated so as to have more options, so as to be able to question the logic, the shellgame and the out and out lies that have brought about their presence, as long as regions like San Diego continue to be apologists for a rogue administration, as long as we permit the sham courts that allow plea bargains on war crimes, then the US will be able to continue to occupy Iraq and roll through Iran and whatever other nation is in its sights. As long as regions like San Diego enable this administration and its vassals, we, the American people, will be perpetually at war with someone, perpetually draining our national coffers and sacrificing our youth to conflict because we no longer have the money to educate or give them health care.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007  

You know, about that dead rose...

Sometimes Valentine's Day can be so gooey sweet, so, so, know what I mean.

And now, there's a book for that! A funny, charming, oh my god, did I just read that (yes, you did) book. May I present:

a sort of festivus for the rest of us kind of book. Or, if you are enjoying Valentine's Day (with friends, family, significant other, the dog), which I think you should, you will enjoy this book anyway because we have all been there at some time or another:

Fun stuff you might find:

(pg 326) Now you're gone, I'll eat oranges and grow my hair long- even though you said it doesn't suit me. I'll deliberately forget to wash the bath after me and I won;t call your mother on her birthday. Now that you're gone, I shall get a cat- you always disliked cats, that should have warned me about you from the start.

and this from pg 159:

Dear John:
I regret to inform you that you have been eliminated from the search for the position of Mr. Perfect. Please do not be discouraged in your efforts. The competition has been extremely strong and we have had to sift through many fine candidates.
There were however some specific reasons that came up during your trial run. Perhaps you might be interested in this feedback, which may be of use to you as you continue with your efforts.
1. Making love is not similar to going to the dentist in the sense that the sooner it's over, the better.
2. Occasionally women, even married ones,enjoy being taken out for dinner.
3. Leaving your dirty socks and underwear on the bedroom floor is not an attractive quality.
4. Likewise withe emission of bodily gasses-most unpleasant, especially if done under the bedcovers.
5. When you rent a vide on Friday night, it's polite to occasionally let your partner make the decision.
6. Next time you caress and cuddle and kiss that dog of yours, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, "what's wrong with this picture?" On the other had, you and your pooch might make a lovely couple.
Good luck with your efforts in the future. Please pass on our condolences in advance to all your future partners. Last but not least, don't call us, wait for us to call you, which we probably won't.

Never yours,

Now why couldn't Anne Boleyn have thought of that?

Hell Hath No Fury by Anna Holmes


Happy V Day!

The Washington Post has a very cool proposal (one that doesn't include Iran- well, it might, but only if your last name starts with a C and ends in a y):
Write an original short story inspired by the photograph above in 1,500 words or less.

Sound fun? Find out more here.


Cool new show!

Before Harmony: Moroccan Womens Song Project (photo by Amanda Koster)

Amanda Koster has an amazing new show opening in Seattle this weekend (lucky you guys!)
Before Harmony: Moroccan Womens Song Project:
Before Harmony: Moroccan Women’s Song Project, a collaboration with Spirit of Fès and photographer Amanda Koster, preserves traditions of Moroccan women vocal artists. The photographs were made while Spirit of Fès produced audio recordings for a CD of the musicians. The images illustrate the musicians performing and also portraits, prerparing to sing. Through exhibition (see page: exhibition plan), the project creates a forum for dialogue and exploration. Have a look at the project's website
Info on the reception:

Neighborhood Cafe (Ballard) Sunday, February 18, 7-10pm. 1418 NW 70th St Seattle, WA 98117 206-784-9404
If you like what you see, check out the website. Amanda is trying to transfer some of the pictures to photosilk- an expensive process. Let her know if you can toss a little flous her way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007  


to an amazing new blog on torture-Torture Survivors and Support Coalition one that invites survivors of torture to write and dialog.

Its first entry is from Sister Dianna Ortiz, herself a torture survivor.

As you remember, I first spoke of Sister Dianna during the Bloggers Month Against Torture as one of my entries on torture and Latin America.
Hers is a sad witnessing. She was working in Guatemala with the Mayan peoples in 1989, when she was seized by forces working for the Guatemalan government, tortured and raped by people trained by the US government, and working under the watchful eye of the CIA.

This is what Reagan, George H.W. Bush and the CIA have done in the name of the American people- in your name.

These are the words that they have taught Sister Dianna Ortiz to speak.
It is an insidious vocabulary that shames us all.

read the rest and listen to Sister Dianna here
(courtesy of James over at Left End of the Dial)


Loving Fun Lit

AUSTRIA WAS GOING TO BE FULL OF INTRIGUE for years to come, and the great royal houses would misuse their influence, and the common man would slowly rise in importance. It was going to take years. After class, she opened her book for him to see the great grounds of the palace of the Hohenzollerens, and she ran her finger over the acreage and said, "I know this kind of thing just makes you want to mow it and play soccer, but, Luke, please remember that the world needs some statuary."

Valentines Day lit from the Washington Post.

What kind of story would you write for a picture?


We interrupt

our coverage of the weather and of Anna Nicole Smith to bring you the war drums bulletin:

We now return you to your regularly scheduled obsessions.


Travelin' tales

The Grammys are tonight. Here is a pict I just love from Slate's Grammy essay (picts from Magnum)


Slim pickins

Growers and labor contractors will tell you that the area can't afford to lose more workers. Some say that the current farm labor shortage — of as much as 50% — made the effects of last month's freeze worse than it otherwise would have been. The recent crackdown on the border is being felt in this corner of the Central Valley.

"If we had more workers, we could have picked up to 75% of the crop," said Lindsay-born labor contractor Alice Gutierrez. Growers had a week's notice that the freeze, which caused an estimated $418 million in damage in Tulare County alone, was imminent.

Lindsay Mayor Ed Murray says the worst-case scenario is that the town could lose up to 30% of its labor force. "Regardless of whether they're legal or illegal, it's imperative that we have workers here for next year's harvest," he said. Murray hopes that the federal government will find a way to not only aid his town's residents in the short term but to legalize the undocumented.

Given the divisiveness of the national debate, it is remarkable how many people here recognize the need for the workers who have come to this country illegally. Perhaps not surprisingly, business people, who already are feeling the pain of the freeze, are most likely to make the case.
(read the rest)

I have about had it up to here with the illegal immigrant debate and the non-California born"nativists" yammering about how illegals are this and illegals are that.

And I have also about had it with the "guest worker" hot air coming out of DC with nary a solution in sight.

I come from an agricultral region of Northern California and I am born in that state. And, like a lot of people from that region my age, I have worked in the agricultural sector briefly. (In my case, it was a tomato cannery.

A lot of the nativist talk down in SoCal seems to be coming from people who are not from California. The Minutemen are an especially obnoxious lot, with a lot of time on their hands. They appear to be either retired or unemployed.

Well, I have a question for those folks: now that some of the orchard produce is getting ready to come in and a number of the other crops need weeding, would you like me to tell the folks up in NorCal that I know with orchards and farms that you are coming? You're legal and seem to have nothing better to do. I know I'm not going- I've already seen what it's like and I'm not going to do it again. Since you're not washing dishes or cleaning houses or anything else that many illegals do down here, why don't you do your part and climb those trees and weed those rows?

Then, maybe you'll have a better understanding about the relationship between California and Mexico, and shut up.


Inside the Watada trial...

or at least as close as you can get:
We have been keeping LONG hours, up EARLY in the morning to get here to get our passes. Security is much tighter today and yesterday the press was told they were not allowed to fraternize with any of the activists or talk to us. They were even told not to go eat at the same place we were eating and to avoid all contact. I really have to wonder why this was told to them because as I read the new’s accounts of what occurred yesterday many key statements in the testimony were excluded in the press accounts. For instance, when asked by Eric Seitz why he insisted on issuing deployment orders to Ehren when he deemed him unfit as an officer for his statements and attempted resignation since January of last year, Lt. Col William James could not give an answer, in fact he ignored the question altogether. James also testified that he counseled Ehren not to make a “young man’s mistake”, based on emotion. Seitz asked him if he took Ehren’s request to resign or be reassigned seriously James said “Up until that time Watada had been an exempliary officer” and that he felt that Ehrens’ requests and statements were purely based on emotion. So in other words (my take) if you question, if you do all you can to follow military rules and do not agree with those higher than you, you are simply being “emotional” and are dismissed.

Robin over at Under The Holly Tree has several very interesting posts about the court-martial of Lt. Watatda, including testimony not mentioned in press accounts. She also has some very nice photos of those standing vigil for Watada. Plus, it's a very well-written blog. You should check it out!

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