Thursday, January 31, 2013

TO CELEBRATE HER LIFE…NOT TO MOURN HER PASSING – ELOINA VALIENTE VIUDA DE RODRIGUEZ, SEPTEMBER 28, 1915 – JANUARY 31ST 2013

When she was learning to walk men were learning to fly, when she was learning to talk, men stopped talking to each other altogether and started World War I.
With great trepidation and foreboding I write this about my mom. Yes, she’s gone and I will miss her and her smile which was rare due to her cantankerous nature; but just because it wasn’t frequent it was just what made it so special, I will miss having become the parent and her the child.

La Gran Dama Eloi, which inspired me to write a book and then make it into a blog; telling her story, compiling her account of events and her experiences during her very long life. Mom made it to see her 97th birthday and somehow I had the feeling it was her last as she blew the 9 and 7 candles on the cake my partner’s mother baked for her. 

My mom (right) and her sister Nina (left)
My mom traveled often to her birthplace in Cuba; sometimes even more than twice a year and even before it was legal to do so prior to the U.S. Government allowing Cuban-Americans permission to visit relatives.

 She had a brother 17 years younger whom she raised and who she regaled the status of son. There was also the only other surviving Valiente sibling: my aunt Nina, ten years younger and in poor health. My mom was so attached to these two that she managed to get my aunt out of Cuba and have her go to the Dominican Republic where she cared for her until just a couple of years ago when she became very sick and returned to Cuba for free medical care.

After my aunt’s passing I brought her to live with me and my partner’s extended family and all seven of us lived harmoniously with a sprinkle of drama provided by mom who was by all accounts the epitome of the Cuban drama queen.

During one of my mom’s earlier visit to Cuba, at the time the Cuban government was more than happy to have the exiles visit and bring American dollars…but there was a catch: they had to take a “tour” where they were shown the supposedly great accomplishments of the Revolution. My mom arrived in Cuba just about the time the funeral procession for her sister was departing for the cemetery, the eldest of the Valiente family died and mom did not get to see her as she was only able to witness the closed casket as it was lowered into the family vault.

Our hometown – Bejucal – town center
But mom’s grief made her forget everything and in the process skipped the “tour” offered by the Cuban government which was supposed to be “voluntary” but as she was departing on her return to America she was questioned about not taking the “tour” and she told the first Cuban Immigration official that she almost missed her sister’s funeral; then one very arrogant Cuban Immigration official said to her: “Señora, I see here that you didn’t take advantage of the generosity of our great revolution in the offering of a free tour to show you traitor exiles how we have progressed and made such great accomplishments” 

The street where we lived,
taken from the front porch
My mom responded to him with a litany of profanities and insults to which the poor man was so humiliated that the only reaction he could muster was to slap her in the face and threaten her to not allowing her to get on the plane until she took the tour. Somehow, there was a supervisor who may have overheard the man’s arrogance and allowed my mom to board the plane and when she did, the flight that was being delayed because of her incident…all the passengers applauded when they saw her come in the door.

I think that is the one incident that defined my mom best: a fighter, a progressive liberal, who voted not for Democrats but against any and all Republicans, one who loved her adopted country – America with the great passion and patriotism as she did her native land. She was a combative and antagonistic person who was unflappable and not easily silenced; after all, she had to be that and more to be able to have been married to my father for more than 55 years.

My mom, just like most Cuban women employed the guilt technique on family and friends and if the Jewish moms are said to use this to the hilt; I think my mom would give them a run for their money. Once such incident I found amusing was when she gave me two shirts for my birthday. I of course had to say I liked them and thanked her and then wore one for the first time. She saw me, looked at the shirt and said: “I see you’re wearing the shirt I gave you as a gift for your birthday…what’s the matter, you didn’t like the other one?”

My mom’s cigar table may have 
looked like this after a day’s labor
My mom started working making cigars in our hometown tobacco factory when she was 11 and never stopped working even after she retired at age 89 and did so only because she went to take care of her sister in Santo Domingo; to her work was not a burden but a pleasure and one of the few people I have known who actually looked forward to the next day in order to go to work…even when the work she did was strenuous or demeaning…she did it all, from making cigars to supervising the Cuban Lottery’s weekly drawings, from domestic servant to factory work. She also returned to trade school in her fifties and learned to sew and that provided her with a skill to secure a loftier better paying job as a seamstress which is what she did until she retired.

She is survived by me, the only son and two grand-daughters: Diurys Olivia Murphy and Darlyn Odette Rodriguez-Hayes both of Seattle, Washington.
I want to thank each and everyone who has been so gracious and kind by offering me support and get well wishes. 

Cuentos de la Tía Eloi - http://cuentostiaeloi.blogspot.com/

My mom as a 20 year old, her nickname 
was “El Merenguito” (the cream puff)

Por Raúl Rodríguez Valiente Copyright 2008, 1-94170031 Estos cuentos cubren un periodo de aproximadamente 100 años, visto tras los grises ojos de Eloina Valiente, nonagenaria dama que nos relata y obsequia con una ojeada a la Cuba de ayer al igual que las observaciones de Eloi de sucesos y temas contemporáneos. Es una tajada de la cultura, del pueblo, la historia de Cuba y en especial el pueblito de Bejucal.












Wednesday, January 30, 2013

DO YOU REMEMBER THIS LADY?


Sure you do – it’s Sarah - former Fox employee
 
She’s a failed half term governor of our largest state, failed Vice-Presidential candidate, failed writer, failed agitator, failed mother and failed broadcast journalist. Poor woman, have some sympathy for her because she doesn’t have a job and really has no skills. Maybe she should take some remedial English elocution class to get rid of her annoying whining voice – fingers on a blackboard modulation and some kind of trade school diploma or become a garbage collector or something. 



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

IMMIGRATION REFORM PROSPECTS ARE AT BEST IFFY

 
I will tell you why: Republicans don’t like a whole bunch of new voters not voting for them.
If you hear Republicans talk about this newly found path to Immigration Reform you don’t hear them saying that it is about caring for workers or families or because they have this great degree of empathy for the Latinos…on the contrary, the numbers of racist, anti-Hispanic base of the Republican Party is deeply entrenched into a ditch of discriminating and determining that these “different than them” are inferior somehow.

The Republicans have seen the writing on the wall…at least those of the more moderate persuasion, not the Tea Bagger racists, that the demographics have changed and unless they do something to make Latinos think they are not racists and are actually trying to include them into the fold of the Republican Party (which they will not) they will continue to lose elections for the next few generations.

Then there is the factor that there are hundreds of thousands of small businesses out there who employ these undocumented aliens and they have profited tremendously from the situation which they wish to maintain. I mean, why would the owner of a landscape company who pays their gardeners wages that are way below the average and demand twice the amount of work, why would they want to make that undocumented employee have legal status?

Then there is the Labor Union factor; in the past decades we have seen the power and influence of Labor Unions diminish and they know that a lot of these if not the majority of these newly legalized undocumented will be joining the unions…after all they do just the kind of work that has traditionally been the fertile grounds for union membership.

 

The Republicans keep putting their collective feet into their radical mouths, they have opposed the “Dream Act” and have made it clear that they disenfranchise Latino voters; they are responsible for bringing us one of the most absurd and unconstitutional laws in the country: that odious “SHOW ME YOUR PAPERS” Arizona law.

I can only speak for myself but I am sure that I hold pretty much the same ideas that the majority of Hispanics have: As long as we pick their fruit, wait on their tables, clean their homes, make their hotel beds and clean their office floors; the Republicans have no beef with us and that is precisely where they want us to stay. 

UPDATE ON MY MOM’S HOPEFUL RECOVERY



La Gran Dama Eloi is one tough customer

Yesterday, even though her heart beat was extremely high and they can’t stabilize it…she was in good spirits and coherent. I tell you, the woman even looked radiant. I don’t know how she manages but for a 97 year old she has less wrinkles than I do.

She survived the operation which kills most people twenty years younger.

The physical therapist got her out of bed yesterday morning and was able to make her stand and take a few steps albeit with a bit of pain which she will not show. She is such a trooper.

Thank you everyone for your concern and your get well wishes.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Brazil Nightclub Fire Kills At Least 232 People

Different place and picture, same type of fire with deadly results in Rhode Island in 2003
500 people trapped and only one exit, do we see the need for building codes and regulations, fire and safety?

Inspectors believe the blaze began when a band's small pyrotechnics show ignited foam sound insulating material on the ceiling, releasing a putrid haze that caused scores of university students to choke to death. Most victims died from smoke inhalation rather than burns in what appeared to be the world's deadliest nightclub fire in more than a decade.

I know what you might say: “But that happened in a third world country, we have plenty of regulations to prevent that from happening here”

You are dreaming, I say, as recently as 2003 - The Station nightclub fire was the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in American history, killing 100 people. The fire began at 11:07 PM EST, on Thursday, February 20, 2003, at The Station, a glam metal and rock and roll themed nightclub located at 211 Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick, Rhode Island. The fire was caused by pyrotechnics

That much we can ascertain, and yet, Republicans want to eliminate altogether any and all regulations. If they don’t wipe these laws off the books they would be rendered useless anyhow by the lack of funds due to austerity and deliberately depriving all remaining government agencies of any funds.

And this happened in Brazil where there are the beginnings of establishing a civilized society and some laws, regulations and building codes that would have prevented this kind of tragedy.

My condolences to relatives and friends and all of the people of Brazil and in particular fellow blogger and friend Mauro Paim who lives in Porto Alegre.


DEBT CEILING, WHAT THE TEA BAGGERS WANT

THE IDEOLOGY BEHIND CONSERVATISM AND TEA BAGGERS

It is always surprising to me to analyze the way these people’s brains (or the lack of them) work. You hear their chanting, read their protest signs and time and time again you ask yourself: WTF?


No more taxes, smaller government, no government interference with business and commerce, eliminate or privatize Social Security and Public Education, eliminate all regulations for Wall Street and the Oil Companies, repeal Health Care, State’s rights, Christian Nation.


One by one I think and analyze what it would look like, what it would mean. No more taxes: Who is going to be paying less taxes? Is it going to be the poor and the middle class or the rich and the corporations? The way it is right now I think the rich and the corporations have a pretty sweet deal. And then if there are no taxes, how are we to eliminate our deficit, our national debt?


Smaller government: What is it that makes our government BIG? Is it the size of it or is it commensurate with such a large, prosperous country? When they say less government, do they mean NO GOVERNMENT like in Somalia? If there is a smaller government, would we still maintain a big military? Would the United States still would attempt to maintain a leading role in the politics of the world? Why is the United Nations such a contentious issue for these people?


Are we to be isolationists? If we are then we would have to divorce ourselves from international commerce and the global economy. That is something that comes through clearly.We could easily see an invasion of South Korea by the North Koreans, we would have to stand idle as Israel is pushed into the sea, we would have to allow the Taliban to re-take Afghanistan and so on...why with no military and no way to pay for it a lot more awful things could happen.

No government interference, less regulations: What that says to me is a return to the erratic and perilous behavior that caused the Great Depression and the economic crisis we are just beginning to overcome…have we not learned anything from this?


Then again it was the lack of regulations and the pervasive corruption that existed in the Oil Exploration and drilling that caused the largest catastrophe in our nation’s history…are we to allow the oil companies to do their own policing and take the necessary precautions?


Eliminate or privatize Social Security: I can only think what would happen to older Americans who have no other income. That monthly check is what separates them from living and dying. I can also think of what would happen to myself…I would then become a burden to my daughters and their children…going back to the times when grandparents and older folks had no options other than going to live with their offspring and rely on their generosity, their hospitality and their financial investment in an elderly parent. But many people don’t have that option…would they then have to live like the homeless out of a cardboard box under a bridge? Does that sound like a civilized society to you?


The elimination of public education: This to me spells oligarchy, exclusive education, the falling behind of the masses, only those who are privileged would be educated…and the rest would not even be functional, they would be illiterate boobs just barely living, without dreams and aspirations.


Then you would also have the country as a whole falling behind in the world as we can’t meet the challenges of technology because our citizens are just not educated, they don’t have the skills.


Repeal Healthcare: In other words, it is perfectly acceptable to these people that we would spend 17% of our GNP on health care for our citizens, with a totally irrelevant middle man as the insurance companies are, who perform no useful role nor do they contribute anything to the common good but take, skim and downright blackmail Americans who will continue to pay up the ass for care that is second rate as compared to the rest of the industrialized world.


Why are these Republicans so intent in maintaining the status quo? Are any of these Tea Baggers really those who own the insurance companies or their CEOs who live in the lap of luxury in their Hamptons homes?


I guess that what bothers me the most is the racist overtones. The signs these people carry clearly reflect resentment for a black President. It is almost bordering on treason on their part. They do not accept him and they are longing for the good old days when WASPHs (WHITE ANGLO-SAXON PROTESTANT HETEROSEXUALS) were the privileged, the ones who had all the power and wealth. When they say: “We are the Tea Party and we are taking our government back” or when they go into town hall meetings and cry: “they are taking away my America” what they really mean is that our country is more diverse now and those WASPHs are feeling the effect of being in the minority for the first time. 


And yet, with their demands for less, smaller government and less interference, it is not just acceptable but imperative that the government goes into our bedrooms and become the moral police. I suppose that the country can go to hell and the economy into a downward spin because there are no regulations but as long as there is prayer in the schools, illegal abortion and persecution of GLBT everything is going to be ok…after all, they will eventually make it a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as that between a man and a woman and that homosexuality is an ABOMINATION and declare this country a Christian Nation officially…a theocracy if you will.


But I have news for those Tea Baggers, this is not THEIR AMERICA, this is EVERYBODY’S AMERICA”.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

NOT BANNING ASSAULT RIFLES, MASS KILLING ARMS - ARE THOSE THE INDIVIDUAL’S RIGHTS?

A country without laws and regulations – wouldn’t that be grand?
The NRA is rabidly mouthing off how they object to any and all regulations on guns…from background checks to high capacity magazines.

The NRA is once more using the 2nd amendment as a shield, hiding what should seem obvious to everyone: that they are solely looking after the protection of arms manufacturers' and merchants' greed.

What’s next for the Republican Party? Why don’t they go all the way and propose eliminating speed limits, particularly around school zones; or taking down all traffic lights and erasing highway median lines. Why don’t we also eliminate all those pesky food inspections or building regulations and zoning laws?
Clearly water and sewer, electric companies, garbage and snow removal should be in private hands, as well as jails and schools and it is unthinkable that the Founding Fathers specifically wanted the military and the post office to be government business.
That horrible communist conspiracy of installing seat belts in cars in order to bankrupt the auto makers, the motorcycle helmet laws are just an infringement on the right of the biker's need for freedom or adding chemicals to our drinking water like flouride is also a communist plot. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if smokers could light up anywhere, anytime? They too have a right to the pursuit of happiness and should be able to puff away at gas stations, in restaurants, hospitals, schools, nurseries…you get the picture.
 

Perhaps we could also live in a country where there are no banking regulations, no penalties for committing fraud, hell, why don’t we decriminalize murder because we as individuals have those rights and we detest that LIBERAL-SOCIALIST SHIT?

A civilized society has to have laws that are enforced, regulations that discourage dishonesty, general common sense laws that prevent chaos and protect the health and lives of its citizens. Speed limits, traffic lights, weapons restrictions…it all makes perfect sense and those societies that don’t have them cease to be civilized.

To some of us, the mind set and the kind of America these people want seems more like Somalia and it is pure unadulterated anarchy. You think so too? Or is that what you want for America?
 

NEITHER FAITH NOR PATRIOTISM CAN BE FORCED UPON PEOPLE

When you have government making laws forcing people to either accept faith or patriotism it makes it a tyranny.
ARIZONA: Republicans Introduce Bill Demanding "So Help Me God" Loyalty Oath For High School Graduation



The above Arizona Republican representatives have introduced a bill requiring that public high school seniors swear loyalty to the Constitution and to God in order to graduate. The wording of the oath is familiar:


I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose or evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; so help me God.

Hemant Mehta writes at Friendly Atheist:


It’s bad enough the Republicans are demanding loyalty of the kind normally reserved for members of Congress and beyond — but there’s also no way I would say those last four words, and the current text of the legislation does not allow for any alternatives. In other words, if this bill were to become a law, atheists would either not be allowed to graduate… or they would be forced to lie so they could graduate. Neither option is acceptable.

Arizona Business Journal notes:


Jehovah’s witnesses, some Muslims and pacifist Quakers have in the past challenged loyalty oaths imposed by the federal government and other agencies, saying they conflict with their beliefs and religious professions. Similarly, some Arizona students could challenge the proposed high school oath as a violation of their religious liberties and freedom of expression.


The lead sponsor of the bill has also introduced a companion bill demanding that all public school students in grades 1-12 recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily, including the "under God" portion. Students can be excused from that requirement with parental permission. There is no exemption provided for the loyalty oath to be demanded for graduation from high school. (Tipped by JMG reader Homer)


When I have so often pointed out that the Christianist’s agenda is to turn America into a theocracy I am not blowing hot air out of my anus…there is plenty of evidence that religion will be forced upon the rest of the population, in particular a radical-fundamentalist, Evangelical type.


We might as well be living in Iran if this is the case. To me religious fanaticism is abhorrent weather it is Christian, Jewish or Muslim…there is no fucking difference.

By the same token, forced patriotism is nothing more than a fascist practice. Faith and patriotism ought to be voluntary and spontaneous, not forced to say the least - not to mention that it is blatantly unconstitutional.



Saturday, January 26, 2013

GRAPHS AND CHARTS - I LOVE GRAPHS

THEY REVEAL A LOT MORE THAN THE TRUTH

Republicans are not going to be happy until they see all of us living under the bridge
I like to refer to graphs and charts because they are a very effective way to show people visually how wrong the policies of the past…and particularly how askew the views held by Republicans on the economy are…and even some Democrats who seem to have bought into the Teahadist-Republican ideology.


A good example of this is how the idea that raising taxes for the rich will slow down the economy:



Raising taxes on the rich will not slow the economy. In fact, every indication is that it tax cuts on the rich hurt the economy. So the real question is, why aren't these "deficit commissions" proposing that we fix a deficit problem that was caused by tax cuts for the rich by raising taxes on the rich back to where they were before the problem? It is clearly time to stop the "riverboat gamble" and restore pre-Reagan top tax rates


Another good one is:

The chart shows the share of the richest 10 percent of the American population in total income – an indicator that closely tracks many other measures of economic inequality – over the past 90 years, as estimated by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez.




“Washington is inundated with deficit commissions. The country has piled up a huge debt because we cut taxes for the wealthy and borrowed to make up the difference. But everyone says we can't fix the problem by raising taxes on the rich in a recession because taxes "take money out of the economy." Is there a factual basis for this idea, or is it just one more corporate/conservative-generated piece of "conventional wisdom" bamboozlement?”


My contention is simply this: The tax cuts were put in place by Bush and they supposedly have been working in favor of the argument that those tax cuts have stimulated the economy…then how come after eight years it all went to hell? Why is not stimulating the economy now? They are still in place…The truth is that the rich will hoard the money; it doesn’t TRICKLE DOWN”