REFLECTION…of a Shameful Policy

CNN reported today that a federal court ordered the government for an immediate cessation of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, to which Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded, “A court should not compel the Executive to implement an immediate cessation…particularly at a time when the military is engaged in combat operations and other demanding military activities around the globe.”

There is a reason we have checks and balances in our system of government, so one branch does not trample on the rights of those in need of protection. What is it about “all men are created equal” that is so fundamentally hard to understand? I guarantee you a soldier pinned down by enemy fire is not going to care if the soldier rushing to his or her help, perhaps even willing to take a bullet for them, is gay or straight. I have a feeling “no soldier left behind” means the same to a gay and lesbian soldier as it does to a heterosexual one.  If one of the principal goals of the Pentagon is to see every fighting man and woman return home alive and well, shouldn’t they send the very people who despite the harassment and discrimination they endured while in uniform still stayed to fight?  Haven’t they proven their love for this country by hiding who they really are just to be given the chance to serve?  Isn’t self sacrifice an essential part of an all volunteer military?

I’ve never served in the military but I would think that at a time of need the last thing going through the mind of a soldier in trouble is if the person running to his or her rescue is gay or lesbian.  I know their spouses, parents, siblings and children don’t care who rescues them; so long as they come home.

You can find the article at:

REFLECTION…on Galvanizing the Latino Vote.

Seth Hoy’s article, “Will the GOP’s Failure to Move the DREAM Act Galvanize the Latino Vote”, brings up an interesting point that would have been completely plausible in a different time, perhaps in an alternate universe.  But today, based on how Democrats are behaving, it seems hardly a fact but rather one person’s hope that this becomes a community’s call to action.  In his article, Hoy wrote, “In a procedural vote yesterday, Senate Republicans (and two Democrats) voted not to proceed (56-43) to the Defense Authorization bill in a party line vote, preventing the consideration of, among others, the DREAM Act amendment. Hemming and hawing their way through floor speeches, Senate Republicans expressed sympathy for the plight of potential DREAM Act students and offered to “debate the merits of the DREAM Act” in a standalone bill, just not on the Defense authorization bill. This latest vote, coupled with some in the GOP’s recent anti-immigrant rhetoric on birthright citizenship and Arizona’s immigration enforcement laws, has the potential to not only alienate America’s fastest growing voting bloc, but drive them to the polls in November.”

I’m sorry, but I just I don’t buy it. Democrats are just as guilty, perhaps more so, as Republicans. Yes Republicans have galvanized their base to come out and vote on anti-immigrant legislations across the country; but it was quite irresponsible, almost criminal, for Democrats, who held the majority, not to do something about it. They could have prevented a lot of the damage already caused. Certainly they could have eased up the number of arrests and deportations of innocent families than had occurred under George W. But it seems to me that under Democratic leadership, more harm is done than good. This latest attempt to pass the DREAM Act was one Senator’s attempt to win the Latino vote in a very close election to win his state and for the president to save face. Again, this just shows how Latinos are responsible for bearing all the brunt of a political wrestling match for control. We are, as usual, paying such a high price with nothing in return. We’re smarter than that and we should make both Democrats and Republicans aware of that.

As for me and the community I serve, the devil I know is not the devil I will continue to support, cuestenos los que nos cueste. If collectively voting for a 3rd candidate or no one at all means no reform for the next two years — something congresswoman Loretta Sanchez said anyways in an interview that if Dems don’t win this November, regardless of a major win in 2012, there will still be no reform for 10 to 20 years — then so be it. At least the candidates running in 2012 will know we’re tired of constantly supporting the lowest common denominator.

Let me be clear, it was devastating to learn that the DREAM Act did not pass.  All I kept thinking about was the many AB540 students I met and helped house at my apartment when they needed to stay late to study for midterms or finals and there were no buses available so late at night to take them home because they could not afford to live nearby.  I kept thinking about how hard they studied and worked to pass the DREAM Act so that their younger sisters and brothers could have an easier journey.  I kept thinking about my friends who through hard work, commitment and sacrifice earned their degrees but can’t get jobs because of their status.  It’s sad and heartbreaking.  But it’s sadder to think we are allowing ourselves to be played and manipulated in this manner, more so now than ever before.

We will have the DREAM Act one day, hopefully without sacrificing our sisters and brothers as cannon fodder to the industrial military machine, only to see them forced to remain longer than the mandated 2 years under stop-loss.  Yes we’ll have immigration reform.  But the way things are going, I don’t think it will happen under this president.  We should instead prepare ourselves for 2012 and let the chips fall where they may.  In the meantime, let’s make 2010 the year we spoke loud and clear to both parties that we will not be held hostage or as Congresswoman Sanchez made us painfully aware, threatened by exercising our vote the way we choose to.

You can find his article at:

The Devil We Know is No Longer the Devil We’ll Keep!

In what many consider this to be a very close midterm election, California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez may have inadvertently sealed the fate of many Democrats running for office.  Not since Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” helped Republicans control both houses of Congress have Democrats held a true majority in both houses today.  But with the numbers being so close, the White House, and certainly the Democratic Party leadership, have been careful not to alienate any of their allies.  Polls may show one politician leading over another, but when the issue is as important, as divisive, and as unstable to an incumbent’s re-election chances, the last thing you want is a known leader openly threatening an entire bloc of voters.  Ms. Sanchez may not have really considered her words carefully, but you know that many watching have finally heard the last straw.  At least, let’s hope they have.

In her interview with Jorge Ramos’ show, “Al Punto” this past Sunday, Jorge Ramos asked Ms. Sanchez if Democrats are as much to blame as President Obama for failing to push through immigration reform when he promised he would.  Being completely mindful of an earlier exchange where Ramos reminded her that they [Democrats] had a chance but did nothing about immigration reform — referring obviously to holding a majority in both Houses of Congress — Ms. Sanchez then launched what I am certain will be the very last thing anyone in her party wanted her to divulge:

“I am going to lay it in front of the Latino community. If we do not win in November, there will be no vote for a reform for another 10 or 20 years.  If we win, we will have a vote in November or December.  I do not know if we’ll pass the law but we will take a vote. But if we do not win, we are going to have to wait another 10 to 20 years because what is happening in this country is very anti-immigration.”

Is it possible that Ms. Sanchez finally revealed the Democratic strategy for winning re-election? For many of us who like to pay attention to these things, this is nothing new.  We can read the writing on the wall and know when we’re being yanked around.  This is precisely why a group of community leaders in Los Angeles created the Southern California Immigration Coalition within days of President Obama’s victory in November 2008.  Their goal was simple: to hold the President accountable for his promise and ensure that whatever immigration reform package that comes out of Washington, D.C. is humane and just.  While the organization was criticized by other more established immigration-rights organizations, the folks at SCIC did not shy away from protesting against a popular president, even standing up to members of their own community whose attempts to silence them fell on deaf ears.

Many of us knew from the moment the president delayed pushing for immigration reform within his first 100 days, first 6 months, or first year over external factors that immigration reform was not going to be likely; and we were right. Even before taking office, certainly before the financial crisis really hit home, his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, was already saying he didn’t see this happening until after the midterm elections — proving yet again that more often than not the Chief of Staff, or as was the case with President George W. Bush, the Vice President, is the de-facto President of the United States.  The president rarely knows what is going on or how to govern, which is why he must surround himself with people smarter than him to set the wheels in motion.  After the economic crisis came health care, then banking reform, Haiti, and a slew of other excuses to even initiate genuine dialogue.  Even his attempts to address our concerns over the status of immigration reform were nothing more than photo ops with carefully selected and loyal-to-the-party ‘Latino community leaders’ at the White House.

So what was Ms. Sanchez really saying then?  And why aren’t we surprised?  For the past 25 years, since President Reagan’s general amnesty, Congress has been promising a more comprehensive reform package that would streamline the process, but nothing has come of that.  Over time, politicians on both sides of the aisle have used the need for reform for political gain and manipulation.  When Republicans don’t want Democrats focused on passing or trying to defeat a specific law, they come up with some anti-immigrant legislation to distract them.  In 2005, House Resolution 4437, “The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005”, commonly referred to as the Sensenbrenner Bill,  created an uproar with the community that put Democrats on the defensive, at least in front of the media but not in front of their respective floors.  Worse yet, when the timing isn’t quite right for a national anti-immigrant law, Republicans turn to the states to create the same confusion Democrats keep falling for time and again.  Two years into President Clinton’s term, Republicans began their strategy of immigrant bashing in California when Proposition 187 was announced.  While Democrats scratched their heads, more and more states began to consider similar legislations.  Yet rather than act to derail the Republican control agenda, they let things happen without even putting up a fight.  Unfortunately for Democrats, the passage of Arizona’s AB1070 and other legislations across the country aimed at denying housing and other services to undocumented immigrants resulted in an uproar by the community and the world.

As expected, just shortly before AB1070 was to be implemented, President Obama became the saving grace, sending his army of lawyers to Arizona to sue that state in federal court, promising to fight tooth and nail to defend the Supremacy Clause.  Many in the Latino community praised him for doing this.  Yet underneath this act of heroism hides another side of the Democratic party, one that Congresswoman Sanchez mistakenly made public on Sunday.  While most Latinos were taking a big sigh of relief when the Democrats came to the rescue, the President approved $600M of money we don’t have to pay for agents the southern border States will not be getting for another year and a half.  In the meantime, however, to appease those Democratic voters sympathetic to the Arizona law, he sent in a few thousand members of the US military to provide security until those men and women have undergone their training.  This is a typical Sun Tzu tactic; distract thine enemy.  But why would the Democrats feel the need to treat undocumented immigrants and the Latino voters with such disrespect?

When Congresswoman Sanchez opened that can of worms, she in essence threatened those eligible Latino voters and those of us questioning and criticizing the Democrats that if we don’t get in line, if we don’t maintain our allegiance, if we don’t do our solemn duty to support them and oppose the others, and the Democrats lose, they will not do anything about immigration reform for quite some time.  But 10 years? Twenty years?  If in 2014 the president should win re-election and Democrats should win both houses — assuming they lose one of them or both in 2012 because we did not vote for them —  is she suggesting that even then they won’t move to pass some form of reform? If that is the case, would that be their vendetta against us?  I don’t like to be scolded anymore than the next person, so when an elected official figuratively pointing her finger at me and says that if they lose we won’t get our ultimate prize for another 10 to 20 years, even if they were to win just 2 years down the row, I can’t help but wonder how else they seem to be screwing us.  Somewhere out there are smarter people than me who know the answer to this question; but for my part, I can say that the devil we know will no longer be the devil we intend to keep.  So Congresswoman Sanchez, you and the Democratic Party can keep your common-sense analysis of the voting process and while you’re at it, be sure to draft up some last minute friendly bill that congratulates the Democrats for the good work you think you’re doing and have done for our community, because up until this moment you’ve been nothing but a constant disappointment.  And come November, you and the president will see just how much we’re really going to be looking forward to electing “new change” in 2014.

REFLECTION…of a community in mourning.

I was thinking about the presentation made by LAPD’s Chief of Police at the community meeting yesterday and I began to wonder: if the LAPD officer had given the victim 2 choices, 1: take two direct hits to the head and die or 2: let us assault you a la Rodney King, and those were his only two choices, I have a feeling he would have preferred to be beaten like a dog so long as he would have had a living chance of seeing his wife and 3 kids back in Guatemala again. LAPD is considered by many as the best civil law enforcement agency in the country, surely the best armed and best trained for any scenario.  But if relations between it and any community of color are to improve, they are going to have to find a 3rd choice, and a 4th, and a 5th to offer those they are trying to apprehend.  We all know there are a lot of good officers out there.  But until LAPD adopts new strategies, the people’s motto against the agency will continue to be: “LAPD change your ways, Racists, Sexists, Anti-Gay!”

REFLECTION…of free speech gone amok.

I remember in 2005 when some Muslims set fires to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran; and desecrated the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, French, German, British and American flags over the publication of 12 editorial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.  It is estimated that 150 people lost their lives over this exercise of free speech.  I can’t begin to image what will happen when one Mark Twain looking preacher and 20 of his followers in Florida burn not 1 but 100 Holy Qur’ans.  I really hope cool heads prevail here.  The last thing we need is the kind of violence that many news outlets on the far right will use to justify their propaganda against Muslims in this country and the world.

This is one instance where I wish Gainesville, Florida PD would racially profile Terry Jones and pull him over for going even a mile over the speed limit on his way to church Saturday.  It would certainly save lives.

REFLECTION…of a very bad idea.

I am honestly tired of the Meg Whitman ads constantly reminding me that she took a company from 30 people to 15K. Yes, what an accomplishment. So what! What else have you done, Ms. Whitman, besides not vote or take part in social discourse for the past 28 years. How does that even begin to qualify you for running California? My future and that of my family and community are too precious to let you treat it like you ran your company: to the ground, which is why you were pressured to retire after the company lost 1/2 its value in the last 2 years alone. You say you want to run California like a business: high school push-out rates is not a business; health care shouldn’t either; neither is immigration, homophobia, religious intolerance and civil rights violations. These are just some of the issues you’ve never dealt with or voted on in 28 years, which is why you’re treating human issues as financial transactions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Jerry Brown either, but at least I’m comforted knowing that Pete Wilson, Meg Whitman’s campaign manager, will not be the de facto governor under him. As we all know, in the absence of experience, your subordinates do the running. Don’t believe me, ask Cheney. Ask Rahm Emanuel. Ask Nancy Reagan.

Boy Killed Along the Border of Dreams!

A few nights ago, a young man was shot by an Immigration Customs Enforcement agent near Ciudad Juarez.  When after struggling to place an undocumented immigrant crossing the border into the US under arrest, the ICE agent felt the need to discharge his weapon in the general vicinity where rocks were being thrown at him, killing a 14-year-old boy.  Today, Amnesty international has decided to join the call for a full and impartial investigation into the incident.  Let us not forget that the last time an ICE (or INS) agent shot and killed another person, the “exhaustive” investigation dragged on for so many months that at the end of the process, the government cleared the agent of wrong doing, claiming he was under attack by a drug cartel group operating in that area for months.  Despite an eye witness in that case, as is the case with this latest shooting, would we be justified in dismissing the government’s claim that the truth will be found one way or the other?

A friend of mine immediately reminded me of the law enforcement agent killed in Arizona over a year ago.  It is noteworthy that it was his death that became the impetus for the passing of AB 1070 — the controversial measure that if it is not reversed by the courts, would allow law enforcement officers to question anyone of their legal status if they are suspected of being undocumented.  In the case of 14-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca, who was shot in the head while on Mexican soil, the government contends that the officer was justified and that his actions are under review.  Whether there will be another ‘exhaustive’ investigation is still unclear.  With all the media attention this case is getting — and by attention I’m talking about a few remarks here and there by the networks, with most of the coverage being done by Spanish media — the government is under some pressure to at the very least send an investigative team.  But as we all know, this is just another attempt to save face.  They have to.  Not long ago, the US demanded that Israel investigate the killing of 9 peace activists participating in a flotilla of aid to the Palestinian people in Gaza.  It would be hypocritical if it did not investigate its own acts of terror, especially if the government’s idea of proportional response involves a magnum .44.

Will there be justice? Should we even pose the question?

Hello world! Bienvenidos!

It has been a while since I last blogged.  I don’t miss it.  Still, I find it necessary to resume posting my personal opinions on the matter even if only to vent some of the anger, frustration, and sense of confusion I’m feeling about any one of the many issues affecting my life and that of my community.

I look forward to reading some of your personal commentaries on a specific topic and hope that we abstain from the kind of language and insults that would prevent readers from wanting to read your personal views or anyone elses for that matter.

…when you’re right, you’re right…

The BBC reported today that in the small town of Den Bosch in the Netherlands, the local priest at Sint-Jan church decided not to give communion to anyone in anticipation of a protest by gay-rights activists who were planning to stage a walk-out over the Roman Catholic Church’s policy of denying communion to practicing gay men and women.  The protest was the result of a priest in a nearby town refusing communion to an openly gay man earlier in the month.  In his defense, the man denied the Holy wafer argued that if he were not allowed to receive holy communion, then it would make sense to deny everyone else since they too were sinners.  For those of us who are Catholic, that makes sense, especially since most of us forget or choose to not confess our sins before pacing down the aisle to take part in the body of Christ.

There is no question that the Church has changed its practices over the past 1,600 years.  We’ve even had pope’s take on lovers while in office.  Surely there is room in the Church’s heart to allow God’s gay children to take part in the holy sacrament. It would be easy to justify this by listing the many contradictions in scripture and practice but why is that even needed.  I mean, doesn’t the fact that our gay brothers and sisters believe and support the Church enough of a reason to let them be part of the family?  In a country that made history by becoming the first nation on Earth to accept gay marriage, this violation of a person’s right to express love towards God only taints any effort for equality in the Netherlands.  It’s true that the Church is losing members. And from the looks of things, the new Pontiff doesn’t seem to care at all about practicing what his clergy seem to be preaching — tolerance, forgiveness and acceptance.  Should this and other trends continue, the Catholic Church may find itself some day without parishioners or priests, leaving behind empty temples to be filled by congregants willing to start a new tradition of teaching what Christ Himself taught — loving one another as He would have loved them, gay or straight.  Come to think of it, wouldn’t this be the greater outcome.

…it’s a funny thing…

I have been watching the Olympic Games in Vancouver and I must admit, I wish I had planned it better and had cable to see more events than those broadcast on NBC during prime time.  I am fascinated by curling, but did not see a single game.  I was even curious to see a sport called “skeleton” but again, that was not possible.  At a time when technology and the internet are connecting the world ever so closer, I am surprised that NBC broadcast the games in a time delay.  I understand that NBC has to make it’s money by airing programing all day, but would it have killed them to postpone daytime soaps, talk shows or whatever else it broadcasts by showing some events live? Are they not confident in their commentators ability to deliver play by play reporting?

A friend of mine commented to me about the lack of people of color at the Winter Olympics.  We all know this is a geographic sport.  Until recently, I can’t remember the last time 6 inches of snow fell in Africa, South America or Mexico.  This is why the Jamaican bobsled team was such a wonderful story.  I am usually critical when there isn’t enough representation by minorities in certain professions.  But when it comes to sports, I can’t complain.  People of color excel more so than their white brethren during the Summer Olympic games.  Let them  race down mountains at neck-breaking speeds, dance on shoes balanced on blades, do acrobatics in the air on a half-pipe of snow or drive down a concrete trail on a plastic go-cart if they want.  I suspect that even if those sports were done on grass and in the Summer, chances are we would never attempt to do that.  So let them have their 2 weeks in Winter, we’ll enjoy our own in Summer.

Having said that, I will comment on one important aspect of the Olympics — the commercials.  During the Beijing Olympics, Morgan Freeman provided the voice to a beautiful series of commercials for Timex — the official time keeper for those Olympics.  This Winter, Proctor & Gamble stole the show with their ‘Thank You Mom’ commercials.  I am a sucker for great movies, so long as they have a great story to tell.  But these commercials, each filled with vignettes of mothers sacrificing their time and energy to take their kids to learn a sport from their infancy until their appearance at the Olympics are both entertaining and moving.  Some have criticized them for not showing fathers supporting the athletes but I’m okay with that.  In a world where women are rarely credited with making this world go round, I’m glad someone thought about honoring them and their sacrifices.  Yes, most P&G’s products are gender biased but there are some that only men use.

I hope that when the Summer games come around in 2012, P&G continues with this tradition and produces commercials with mothers in Third World countries.  It is from those countries that most of the athletes in those games originate.  And it is in those countries that most women are repressed, oppressed and ostercized.  If mothers from the North find it hard to support a child’s dream of reaching Olympic glory, imagine how much harder it is for a mother from the South?  We are 10 years into a new millennium and there is still much work to be done when it comes to women’s rights.  If it’s true that over 1 billion people watch these sporting events, lets do what we can to empower those unable to speak up or do much feel a little gratitude for their sacrifice too.

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