Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Drill, baby drill"

President Obama with Brazilian President Lula Silva, maybe Obama should have asked him how Brazil achieved energy independence as far back as 30 years ago.
Today President Obama announced there will be drilling for oil and natural gas in environmentally sensitive areas of our nation, offshore and in Alaska.
I am a great admirer of the President and trust him. But I don’t trust all of his advisors nor do I think that our President is infallible. I am at this point questioning the wisdom of this initiative to “drill, baby drill” that the Republicans so adamantly have been prescribing. (Surely they will now oppose it)
Perhaps this is just a case similar to that of a drug addict. I lived across the street from one who would hound his mother from the sidewalk: “ma, open the door, ma, I need the money, c’mon give me some money” and he would not give up, embarrassing the poor woman until she gave him the money to get his fix. He would search the whole house for the $10.00 she put in the collection plate every Sunday when she went to church. The guy was out of control and it was his addiction.
I am just wondering if this is not a similar case. We need the fix; we are addicted to oil and can’t see our way to free ourselves from it. The drilling might solve a very insignificant percentage of our needs and ruin our environment. But the President assures us that we need this now to create more jobs and to sustain us until we develop and implement new technologies. I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
Frankly, I was expecting a more comprehensive and far reaching energy independence program. Something along the lines that it would be a three stages endeavor: first, the government would install either solar panels or wind energy equipment to run their buildings, second, a massive government program to have every home in America install solar panels or wind electricity producing equipment and third for the businesses and industries.
Please don’t tell me this is wishful thinking and it is impossible to do because we don’t have the technology. Brazil did it 30 years ago and it was successful, in a third world, relatively poor nation, it was done. Now look at them, they are laughing at the oil producing nations and on top of it all they have now found oil reserves reportedly bigger than those of Saudi Arabia.
Are we just postponing our weaning from our addiction to burning hydrocarbons? Are we not risking the softening and eventual anemic attempt at developing other cleaner, more reliable sources of energy? Is drilling just going to postpone the inevitable? I let you come up with an answer because I don’t have one but I get very suspicious when I see advertising on television trying to convince Americans that the oil companies are doing the right thing by investing and developing other sources of energy.

The American Dream…

The American Dream…
Is just that, a dream
Sometimes you have a dream and then the dream turns into a nightmare. Too often I have had that dream and then I have awakened and that dream or nightmare is but an indelible memory.
In South Philadelphia, patrons can order one of owner Joe Vento's cheese steaks any way they like it, provided they order it in English. KYW's Brandy Bell reports.
Fifty years ago almost to the day I arrived in this country with my mother as a fourteen year old awkward kid not knowing the language and totally mesmerized by a culture I did not understand. My father was already in exile in Miami and had been a dishwasher at various restaurants and hotels in Miami Beach. Somebody sold him a bill of goods; and somebody sold me the American dream. I was told that if I work hard and put myself into constructive enterprises I would succeed and prosper in America.
My father was given the opportunity to have his own little business from a second cousin who had lived in the states for over thirty years. He arrived at the beginning of WWII and opened a small cafeteria on Flagler Street in downtown Miami.  His name was Chago and he had what was then the uncontested only Cuban restaurant in Miami. “Los Panchos” was located on Flagler Street, on the north side of the street between N.W. 3rd and 4th where it languished and then prospered for almost 20 years.
Chago was getting up there in years and in his early seventies was no longer able to work with the same enthusiasm or vigor. He had my father come in and help him. That was a step up for my dad who had been a dishwasher, now he was cooking and managing the restaurant. But Chago had a stroke and told my father to carry on; he could have the restaurant for nearly nothing. Just to pay him for the equipment the best way he could. The building was not his property and the only thing worth anything in there was the location and the clientele which was very loyal.
My  father bought new chairs and tables, pots and pans and a new cash register. He painted the place and put these red and white checkerboard cafĂ© curtains.  The place soon became the center of the Cuban exile community. There was no other place where you could get Cuban coffee or a medianoche  sandwich. The exile community started to swell in numbers as Castro became more intolerant of the middle class and they would make our restaurant the meeting place, the center and the heart of the exile community.
For a while there we thought that we were going to “make it” We had profits for a change. We also had fucking inspectors and code enforcement assholes visiting almost on a weekly basis. There were permits and taxes. They were squeezing the shit out of the meager business. And there was then the coup de grace: We received a letter in the mail from the Department of Transportation that we had 30 days to vacate the premises because Interstate 95 was going to begin construction in a month and the building was to be torn down. There was no compensation, no other alternative than to just pick up and go. We closed within a week and were on our way to California to try our luck there.
I was kind of glad to leave Miami. After all, when I first arrived they gave me this test at the School Board in order to place me (I had already finished the 8th grade in Cuba) but they determined that because I could not pass a simple seventh grade level that I must have been retarded. I was placed in a special class with these retards that had their mouths open and saliva oozing out. I could not understand the reason of my misfortune.
When we arrived in California, my parents enrolled me in a bilingual program and I did learn enough English that I started to get straight A’s when school started in September. Then my records arrived to my high school from Miami. There was a parent teacher meeting. They could not understand why a retarded kid was making straight A’s in their school. They realized that the schools in Miami were way more backwards then than in California, and that there were no accommodations for students who spoke anything other than Southern Cracker English,
But in California I was feeling the sting of xenophobia and discrimination. Mexicans were the lowest in the pecking order. I was considered one and therefore a subhuman.
I was diligent and started to work hard to rid myself of the accent. I figured that if I spoke like everyone else that I would not be discriminated and I could actually have a chance at the American dream. I would read the newspaper for hours, aloud, into a tape recorder. I would play it back, correcting and repeating, hours and hours of this until I was satisfied that I could speak flawlessly.
Curiously, I was losing the accent and I had also gained an excellent command of the language. I knew the grammatical rules, I could actually spell and that was more than could be said for my native English speaker peers. But this raised all kinds of jealous feelings from them because a little beaner like me could not succeed at their expense. When graduation time came around, I got an A in the English final and by all accounts I was poised to be the Valedictorian of my class. I was even working on the speech I was to deliver at our graduation. Then the final grades came and I was knocked down into fourth place because my English teacher gave me a B grade for the class. His reasoning: “I have never given an A to any student with an accent”.
Even if I had a remarkable SAT score and graduated fourth in my class, I applied to 19 different colleges and universities in California. I did not even receive one single reply, not even a letter of rejection. At the time California only had 3% of Latinos among the college population even if Latinos consisted of more than 28% of the population.
In the years since my arrival in this country I had a lot of hurtful things happen to me. While in high school, I was dating this girl I was so crazy for. She came to tell me that her mother had forbidden her from seeing me again because she did not want her daughter to go out with a “wetback”. I don’t know about you, I have two daughters and I would much rather either one of them dated the Valedictorian of his class than the redneck captain of the football team. The later would drag her behind the bleachers and would get her pregnant.
Then I had to work to save money for college. My parents could not help me out because they were working for minimum wage. I got a job in one of the branches of Columbia Studios and worked there for a while doing audience studies. It was located on Sunset Blvd. and I would take the bus to work and to go home. While I was waiting for the bus on the bus bench right across from work, a squad car comes screeching to a halt in front of me and two butch cops get out, pushed me to the ground and one of them puts his foot on my neck forcing me to eat the dirt. The cop says: “what are you doing in this side of town at this hour? Don’t you know that your kind can’t be here after dark?” I could barely speak and I told him I worked across the street and was waiting for the bus to return to East LA to my ghetto. That was not good enough. The other cop said: “well, I saw you spit on the ground” That was my infraction? Certainly not. I was a beaner, a wetback, an undesirable that was not welcomed in that society at that particular time of day and that particular time in history.
I put myself through college; often working at either part time jobs or full time jobs no other person wanted or was willing to do. I waited on tables, I cleaned floors, I even worked at a hospital cleaning the bed pans. I picked up dead bodies for a funeral home. I did everything but I got through college. You would think that after all that hard work I would be able to reap some of the benefits. Not….I still kept meeting those glass ceilings, those impenetrable barriers that existed and to some degree still exist in this country. You say that has disappeared? Not really…Just ask Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
You see, even those who call themselves progressive and liberals have no objections or problems with certain minorities, as long as we clean the floors and wait on their tables. But when we become somebody, when we are actually competing for the same jobs, the income and the prestige, they show their true colors and betray their philosophy. I found this to be true with Democrats and Republicans alike although I must admit that the more brazen xenophobes are found in the lofty lap of the Republican Party.
While in college, I not only cleaned floors and waited on tables. Because I was an excellent typist (85wpm. At that time) and my spelling was impeccable (there was no spell check then) I was typing term papers for some of the students. Then enter this privileged rich kid. He drove a nice sports car, lived in a swanky apartment and dedicated his life entirely in the pursuit of women and beer. He asked me to type a paper for him but it was so bad that I told him so. He said: “why don’t you write it for me, I will pay you .50 cent per word” (I normally employ 50 cent words in my regular speech anyhow) And that started a whole series of term paper writing that brought me a handsome income. My term papers were getting A’s and they were well written. This guy that got me started reminds me so much of George W. he was from a wealthy Texas family and he had no concept of academic excellence nor did he have intellectual curiosity.
One would think that if I wrote all these term papers and they were for different classes Philosophy, History, Political Science and others and still was able to get a good grade for them, then I would leave college well equipped to face the challenges of the real world. But the real world out there is not dependent on how well you know the language, how good your spelling is or even how imaginative or creative your writing can be. It is based on who you know and where you were born.
I was born 90 miles too far south to satisfy these xenophobes. I never understood why being on one or the other side of a river or body of water made any particular group of people inferior to the other. By the same token I have to this day failed to understand why it is that what you do in bed should define you. What is it that makes these mother fuckers think they are better than gay people because they stick their peckers into a dirty vagina?.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I finally got around to watching the movie “Capitalism, a love story” that is Michael Moore’s latest film among many…Moore is a social crusader, but he also is an entertainer, whose films critiquing the Bush administration (Fahrenheit 911) and the nation’s gun culture (Bowling for Columbine) have earned him decent money.
Moore drives an armored bank truck up to the front doors of American International Group and Goldman Sachs Group offices looking to collect the taxpayers’ money that the firms received from the $700 billion government bail out. He then proceeds to wrap the offices of AIG, Goldman, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase and the New York Stock Exchange in yellow crime scene tape and attempts to make a citizens’ arrest of various CEOs. Moore is perhaps at his best when he doesn’t say anything at all, as when a former Lehman Brothers executive tries to explain what a derivative is and Moore just looks understandably baffled.
At times, the movie is raw and emotional, regardless of Moore’s politics. There is a story of a family that loses their house in foreclosure and then is paid $1,000 by their lender to clean out their belongings. It’s a job usually left to a private contractor but the family needed the money. Or the story of how Wal-Mart Stores profited from a life insurance policy it took out on a young woman who died unexpectedly leaving behind her young family. The family of course got nothing, not even to pay for the funeral.
The movie is supposed to expose the suffering caused by the Wall Street profit machine, which had been facilitated by systematic and pervasive deregulation during the Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations. The final insult was the financial rescue of 2008, which Moore says was a ploy to enrich the likes of Goldman Sachs, led by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and with the help of the Congressional Democrats, who stoked fear there would be mass chaos if taxpayers didn’t shell out billions of dollars for the banks.
There is absolutely nothing I didn’t know that Moore exposes in this movie. It is a harsh, only one sided view of a very complex problem that we are facing in our country. There are other mitigating circumstances and equally valid reasons for the economic meltdown like the irresponsible home buyers who took out mortgages they could not possibly afford.
What I got out of watching this film is that Moore’s message is something hopeful, that the American people will somehow find it within themselves to gain strength and fight with their votes and their ability to muster up grass root organizations to assert their superiority over the rich and the corporations. But I say: good luck; the rich and the corporations are not going to let go of their teat and will continue to suck that cow until it is dried up and falls over dead from dehydration.
The way our society has been functioning is to take away from the poor and the middle class, the rich will continue to take action to protect themselves from the rift-raft trying to deprive them of their ill gotten riches. In some cases they will be cruel and ruthless. We now have a new Supreme Court decision that gives the corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. We also have the involvement of religious organizations not only providing funds for this or the other political causes or candidates, violating the long held concept of the separation of Church and State.
The movie leaves you with some hope that perhaps with the election of President Obama things might be changing. But one year into his Presidency we see that the realities are very different. President Obama has fought one of the most energetic and vilest fights ever seen in American politics just to pass one piece of legislation that ended up being watered down and imperfect. In his desire to be inclusive and bi-partisan, he gave in to the many demands from the opposition and got nothing in return, on the contrary, all he got was more obstructionism and opposition and the promise of more obstruction to come from Republicans.
I really don’t see how we can have even effective government if the premise that the opposition has is that “the best government is that which governs the least” and “government is the problem” a long held Reagan idieology like “trickle down economics” which is flawed and erroneous. I really don’t see how Obama and the Democrats will be able to fight again and again for much needed legislation. We are tired and we are sick of gridlock. We are disgusted with the Republicans and with the Tea Baggers. Some of us on the liberal progressive side unfortunately have a very bleak outlook for our nation.


For the past 4 weeks I have been receiving a robot call from American Express about the same time each day. They have a recording saying that this is not a solicitation but it is important that I get in touch with them; then they give you a phone number which you don’t even have time to write down THEY DON’T REPEAT IT and the call ends.
I finally was able to write down the number, I called very angrily and told them that if they wanted to talk to me so bad they should have put on a real person to begin with. Then they asked me to verify my Social Security number, which I am not comfortable doing on the phone but when I realized that it was indeed American Express I had called I gave them the last four digits and then they said I was not the person they were looking for; no apologies, no explanations.
Now I ask you, what kind of perverted, asinine way of doing business is this? They made an enemy out of me and will never use American Express for anything ever, I used to have an American Express card thirty or forty years ago and I cancelled it because I thought it was a real rip off.
Now I have nothing but animosity and ill will towards them. Was it worth it American Express, I ask you? This kind of unethical bill collecting tactic is appalling and you should stop it. Put on a real person and you could have avoided all the inconvenience and annoyance you caused me. SCREW YOU AMERICAN EXPRESS.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What the Constitution says

What the Constitution says and it does not say

I sometimes get exasperated when I see these totally ignorant people carrying signs (often misspelled) implying that we liberal progressives don’t follow the Constitution. They are also claiming that President Obama  is doing things that are UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
Imagine, President Obama who once taught Constitutional  law, being accused of doing things that are unconstitutional.
The issue is that most of these people have not even read the Constitution. If hard pressed, they will cite passages from the Declaration of Independence. Even Congress members have been known to make this fatal mistake.

My question is simply this: Where in the Constitution is it that our country should have an Air Force? Where does it say that slaves should be free and should have all the rights everyone else has? Where in the Constitution does it even suggest that a Corporation is an individual? Where is it written that homosexuals are an abomination and should therefore be discriminated and persecuted EVEN PUT TO DEATH?
I would like to know where those carrying those signs, did they get their PHD in Constitutional Law?. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Freedom of speech and the press in Venezuela?

Anti-Chavez TV channel owner arrested in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The owner of a Venezuelan TV channel that takes a hard line against President Hugo Chavez has been arrested for remarks authorities deemed offensive, sending a powerful signal to government opponents that they should watch their words.

Opposition leaders and human rights groups condemned Thursday's arrest of Guillermo Zuloaga, the owner of Globovision, who was detained on a warrant by military intelligence agents and released hours later after appearing in court. Critics called the case a major setback for freedom of speech, saying it shows the government is growing increasingly intolerant and authoritarian as its popular support has slipped.

How long has it been since the former Cuban Minister of the Interior arrived in Venezuela? Do you think that there is any connection? Nah, that is just what the anti-Chavez reactionary right wingers are saying.

Maybe we could do the same here in America and arrest Beck, Limbaugh and the FOX NEWS owner…do you think it might work? Or are we to continue our tradition of freedom of the press and speech?

Friday, March 26, 2010

DON’T ASK DON’T TELL? Don’t tell me…you are a homophobe


We heard recently from this asshole that the reason that a massacre took place in Bosnia (from retired Gen. John Sheehan's at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday)

Sheehan claimed that Dutch military leaders had called the presence of gay soldiers in the army "part of the problem" that allowed Serb forces to overrun the Srebrenica enclave in Bosnia in July 1995 and kill some 8,000 Muslim men.

Nor can we ever forget for whom we fight this battle because each and every day service members pack up their uniforms for the final time due to nothing more than being who they are. It does not matter if you are a Jen Kophstein or Mike Almay or Victor Fehrenbach, honorable and courageous service is quickly tossed aside when the investigative services begin their work. That is why when it comes to this fight, all of us are fighting like hell to secure votes every day.

Patience is a virtue, we are told. Sometimes, in the course of a struggle, the need is always to know when and how to strike. Lt. Dan Choi and James E. Pietrangelo’s decision to handcuff themselves to the gate of the White House was, according to many, the wrong thing to do. Indeed, there are signs that it has undermined the resolve of some Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell supporters and strengthened the hands of men like retired General John Sheehan who, that same day, uttered a slanderous, inaccurate, and outright false accusation which caused a minor diplomatic incident with the Netherlands. On a day when the story should have been the lengths at which homophobes such as General Sheehan will go to in order to prevent gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, the story became about how two men in uniform chose to, in the eyes of LGBT critics, disrespect their service.

I think the main reason why there is a misconception among the military is because they operate in an atmosphere of a machista culture. You are a warrior, a fierce and ruthless son of a bitch and you have to be devoid of compassion. They have bought into the stereotype of the weak, flamboyant and effeminate homosexual, incapable of defending himself let alone his country.

But we all know that this is an erroneous generalization since most gays are neither flamboyant nor devoid of compassion. Most of us fall somewhere in between but the fact that we can defend our country and love our country just as much as any heterosexual can has not dawned on these people. Or are we to believe that only if you stick your dick into a dirty cunt you can join the military and serve your country?

It’s not going to make the military soft or anything. I mean, they’re soldiers. We’re talking, yea, they’re gay, but we’re not talking Ru Paul, Elton John gay, we’re talking “Brokeback Mountain” gay.

- Wanda Sykes regarding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Our brave soldiers are capable of compassion too.

A word of advice to retired Gen. Sheehan: Don’t underestimate what an angry, flamboyant drag queen can do with high heels and a purse.

Rupaul is quite capable of defending him/herself and us too because he/she has more balls than you do general.