Since my son and I jet-setted to Mazatlán a week or two ago, I totally speak Spanish now—at least when the Spanish is in the form of subtitles, as it was in Mazatlán, under English-language television programming like TNT's The Closer. Watch this:
Lo siento. Gracias. Muchas gracias. No somos criminales. Justicia for everyone!
Friday I'd gone down to the bucolic amphitheater in Harry Griffen Park in San Diego County's La Mesa, to see off our friend and colleague Buddy Seigal, also known as the Beat Farmers' Buddy Blue. An hour and 10 minutes before the memorial was to start, dozens had already gathered, and within minutes there were hundreds. Next to me, my editor sniffled like a girl; on my other side, Billy Zoom was there to bear witness. A little behind us and to our right on the grassy slope stood Lee Rocker and his wife. And on the amphitheater floor were Buddy's widow, Annie, powering through superbly, and their 4-year-old daughter, Lulu, in jeans and pink sneakers. It was a beautiful day, one of those that warms your toes and your frigid soul.
And then I got on the 5, and when I got home to Anaheim almost five hours later, I decided I would never get out of my bed again. Isn't it funny? When bad things happen to other people, we expect them to bear their burdens with grace and silent stoicism. Had a hurricane while the Bush administrationleft you to die on an overpass? Well, whatever you do, don't play the blame game! Has your house burned down? There's no reason to bitch when you got out alive! Is your deeply beloved husband not still alive? It's very sad, but we all must pass.
But when I'm stuck in traffic? Nothing worse has ever happened to anybody else in the history of bad, bad things. My God, my God, why have you forskaen me? I had a bed-in the entire weekend, breaking only for brunch and a bit of thrift-store shopping, with my television, as usual, my only friend. Catwoman, it turns out, wasn't nearly as bad as I'd been led to believe, while even I couldn't buy the Democrat pornof Jimmy Smits' liberalSantosactually winning on West Wing.
But come Monday morning, I was finally refreshed. Got genocide? That's a pity, but look! Igot a weekend of TV and sleep!
And so Monday morningish I cruised down to the Reagan Federal Building to have a little love-in with our Latin compadres. I was hoping a cop would shove me and I would break an ankle and get to moan about it just forever and ever, amen, but everything was orderly as hundreds of people, almost all Latino with a couple of old white ladies and some middle-aged white Teamsters thrown in, marched and waved flags—yes, American flags—and spoke Spanish, which, frankly, I didn't understand as it wasn't subtitled in the slightest. They held signs reading "Yes to Family Unity" and "Dignity for All Immigrants," and the only talk of the reconquista came from a tiny black lady with a Justice for Janitors sign who said she grew up in the South in the '60s and declared crankily, "This was Mexico to start with! We stole all of it!" before shouting in her little mad voice, "Impeach Bush!"
It's been so bizarre watching the out-of-the-blue hoo-hah as the House Republicans swoop down on OC's homegrown, nutsy, nasty, anti-immigrant rhetoric. It's not like they have anything else they could be talking about: the president's numbers are—how you say?—in the shitter, seeing as how Iraq's roiling with civil war; they managed to lose an entire American city; our economy's being propped up by China, Saudi Arabia and folks spending their low-interest second mortgages like lobbyists at a DeLay fund-raiser while we're in the midst of a housing bubble just aching to pop; it turned out to be the White House that had leaked CIA-operative-on-nuclear-proliferation Valerie Plame's non-official cover after promising, OJ-like, to find and fire the real leaker; the entire GOP leadership seems headed to the slammer (and disgraced Tom DeLay's "reformer" replacement, John Boehner, once saw fit to hand out his buddies' checks from tobacco lobbyists on the House floor); and—oh yeah—we're probably not going to nuke Iran.
So what's the entire nation nattering on and on about?
Damn, the Republicans are good.
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As my buddy Jim pointed out at the beginning of this issue, we get a lot of letters around these parts that rightfully should be sent to the Register's whacked-out editorial page, but the gist is that people want to know what part of "illegal" we don't understand, followed by screeds about how scared they are when men cluster in front of Home Depot and ask them if perhaps they would like some help with their Sunday home-improvement projects. As to the first part, I clearly don't understand any part of "illegal," since Sister Mary Claire and the other nuns teaching us at La Reina junior high and high school flat-out insisted, like the communists they were, on referring to illegal aliens as "undocumented," in between repeat showings of Romero, the story of the commie archbishop in El Salvador who was assassinated, according to the UN, by the CIA's buddy Roberto D'Aubuisson. Do I digress? Sorry about that.
As to the second part: wow, you're a pussy. The only person I've ever been scared of is the woman who got this whole nasty ball rolling: California Coalition for Immigration Reform honcho Barbara Coe, who also proudly belongs to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group only slightly more on the QT about its white-power aims than Goebbels. If you like discussions on the inferiority and/or savageness of the black race, you'll love the CCC website, www.ccc.net! Go ahead and take a look-see; I'll wait. See? Scary!
Last week, in the very heated final days of the campaign for the special election to replace new Congressman John Campbell in the 35th Senate District, Dana Point Councilwoman Diane Harkey's people sent out a mailer against her opponent Tom Harman that was so unmitigatedly bigoted that even the far-right peeps I spoke to admitted it "walked up to the line." That would be like a Green admitting that maybe Green meetings focus a little too long on making sure there's "consensus" for an agenda hours before they ever get to item one. Seriously, Green meetings are a nightmare.
But the mailer in question, which showed the march in LA from two weeks ago—the largest march in Los Angeles history, and one without a single citation—was so nasty I actually felt sick to my stomach, and I'm not a wilting lily. It showed the crowds of brown people—they keep coming!—under a huge caption stating the marchers had one thing to say to Harman: "Thank you." It was a reference to a vote Harman cast in the Assembly allowing illegal alien kids to get in-state tuition at public universities if they had grown up here, and it was identical to John Campbell's vote on the bill. Of course, that didn't stop the GOP from sending their boy Campbell to the House.
But Harman's different: his 16 percent environmental rating from the California League of Conservation Voters makes him a liberal, and they wouldn't be having none of that. The mailer also made hay of all the "illegal" kids who walked out of school in OC last week to protest—except that those kids were citizens, who were marching in concern for their families . . . and just maybe against the kind of assholes who assume any Latino kid they see is "illegal."
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Listen, should our border be better protected? Fuck, yeah! But the Republican Congress and White House still can't seem to have more than one state cop—part-time—patrolling a 100-mile section of the Oregon coast. They keep stripping Democratic proposals for things like inspections of ports and nuclear facilities right out of their budgets, while they manage to find $2.6 billion for subsidies to Exxon-Mobil even after back-to-back quarters where it hoarded its highest profits ever. Are people working for cheap undercutting our own blue-collar workers? (Whatever you do, don't blame outsourcing and India.) A livable minimum wage would solve that right quick. Are they overrunning our emergency rooms? Sure. No use pointing fingers at the excess profits of the HMOs and the constant closing of the hospitals we have left when there are Mexicans nearby to take the fall.
We have 100,000 millionaires in Orange County, and CEO compensation rose another 16 percent in 2005 while they've got us snarling for their scraps. You really think it's the new arrivals living eight to a room who are taking more than their fair share?