Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lou Barletta, Once Again

Back in 2006 when this-here blog was still new, I told you about Lou Barletta, then-mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania who hated Hispanic illegal immigrants so much, he proposed requiring everybody in Hazleton buy a license from City Hall before they'd be allowed to rent a place to live. This, he thought, would defend American freedom from the rampaging Mexican hordes.

Now Barletta is a Congressman but still opposed not merely to illegal immigration, but Latino immigration altogether. Here's why:

“Anyone who believes that they’re going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken,” Barletta said. “The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on.”

My own grandparents were low-skilled and probably didn't have a high school diploma, when they first arrived here from eastern Europe. Nativist Americans back then worried about immigrants ruining America--immigrants like my grandparents and Lou Barletta's Italian-immigrant ancestors.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What So Proudly We Hailed

I'm humming a few bars of that obnoxious Proud to be an American song as I read the news, but I'm having difficulty figuring out exactly which recent stories are supposed to fill me with patriotic pride. Maybe you readers can help me out?

If you're old enough to legally drink alcohol, you're old enough to remember when "opposition to government use of torture" was considered a fundamental American value. Now it's a form of treason deserving of a prison sentence.

Boarding a plane while being half-Jewish and half-Arab is all it takes to be handcuffed, arrested, stripped naked and subject to a cavity search. The people responsible for this have doubtless convinced themselves they did something noble and heroic; the occasional sexual assault at the hands of government agents is, presumably, the price of living in a free country.

A five-year-old girl was suspended from school for making a "terroristic threat" ... to shoot one of her friends with a Hello Kitty bubble gun. Her mother is trying to find another school for the girl but cannot, since her daughter now has a record of "threatening" other people. With soap bubbles.

The Department of Homeland Security (the same psychopaths who made TSA molestation mandatory for any American wishing to ride mass transit) is also filling urban areas with microphones capable of listening in on conversations (without a warrant, naturally).

America's national anthem ends with a question: "Does that star-spangled banner yet wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave?" The answer is obviously no.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

No Worries!

Everybody needs to stop whining about the Virginia Republicans' blatant attempt to fiddle with congressional districts and electoral votes. Remember: if it's a legitimate gerrymandering, the body politic has ways of shutting the whole thing down.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Obama Shmobama

Since I support full equality for gay and straight people, and also consider anthropogenic climate change a serious problem which must be addressed, I'm supposed to feel this warm-n-fuzzy patriotic whatever, after seeing headlines like "President Obama mentions climate change and other progressive goals in inaugural," except "progressive" as Obama interprets it somehow means "complete disregard for individual rights." No mention of my chief concerns, the freedom to travel and otherwise go about my daily business unmolested--and nowadays, I mean that literally.

Of course, it doesn't help that so many of my fellow Obama critics are -- I'll say this politely as I can -- a tad biased in their dislike. My beef with Obama stems from his being a right-wing hypocrite who completely abandoned the circa-2008 civil liberty promises he made before becoming president. That's entirely different from hating him for being an illegal immigrant Muslim Commie with secret conspiracy involvements in the Sandy Hook shooting, Aurora shooting, Fukushima earthquake and/or sundry additional disasters since his first inauguration. Pretty soon someone will post the first countdown ticking off the number of days until Obama's presidency ends in 2017, and I'd like to believe the next guy will be better but when I believed that during the Bush administration it proved quite disillusioning.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

TSA: What’s Left To Say?

My sincere apologies to you all; I haven’t updated this blog for a long while, plus one of my last posts mentioned my coming down with a fever over New Year’s and, long story short, I heard from a person or two wondering if I hadn’t died of some exotic flu strain.

Nope. The problem is more mundane and, arguably, more insidious: I just couldn’t think of anything to say. At least not anything I haven’t said already, and it’s not good for professional writers to get reputations for repetitiveness. Consider this shiny new news story from January 17, 2013: TSA’s so-called VIPR teams are slithering out of airports and into Amtrak stations.

And here’s something I wrote for the Guardian nine months earlier, on April 18, 2012, in protest of TSA raids on bus passengers:
No specific threats or reasons were cited for the raids, as the government no longer even pretends to need any. Vipers bite you just because they can. TSA spokesman Jim Fotenos confirmed this a few days before the Houston raids, when VIPR teams and local police did the same thing to travelers catching trains out of the Amtrak station in Alton, Illinois. Fotenos confirmed that "It was not in response to a specific threat," and bragged that VIPR teams conduct "thousands" of these operations each year.
Stroll with me further down Memory Lane and the view gets even more depressing. Here’s me on March 2011, optimistic and naïve enough to talk non-sarcastically about an anti-TSA “backlash,” and mention how VIPR teams had been banned from Amtrak after some particularly egregious mistreatment of train passengers in Savannah. So much for that.

Last November, TSA garnered outraged national headlines for a day or two after exposing a teenage girl’s breasts to her classmates during a typical groping. Untypically, the breasts in question belonged to a congressman’s close relative, so the congressman in question sputtered about it for a day or two, and then nothing happened.

And as I go through the TSA outrage stories in various archives, my professional columns and my personal blog posts here, the names and places and details differ but the pattern always remains the same: some monstrous misbehavior catches the nation’s attention, there is outraged sputtering for a day or two, then nothing happens.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happyish New Year

No blogging for me today, as I'm still fighting off the nasty cold (or mild flu) I came down with a few days ago.

Here is conclusive evidence that the old "Marriage makes you exponentially less cooler" canard is absolutely true: I spent my first New Year's Eve as a respectable married woman engaged in what medical professionals euphemistically call "productive coughing," productivity which makes me yearn for the slacker days of my youth. At midnight I took a dose of NyQuil followed by one single shot of high-octane schnapps, which knocked me out for ten hours since I'm also a lightweight these days, and today I'm kicking off 2013 by producing more gobs of productivity from various facial orifices. 

[self-pity] Happy New Year, everybody! I hope, for your sake, it is happier (or at least healthier) than mine. [/self-pity]
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