El Centro de la Raza founder and long-time Executive Director, and icon of the Seattle civil rights movement, Roberto Maestas passed away this morning.
From an e-mail from Minority Executive Directors Coalition ED Dorry Elias-Garcia:
…if you would like to send a card to the family, you may send them in care of Roberto’s family to: El Centro de la Raza, 2524 – 16th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98144. Also, El Centro is hosting their 3rd Annual Event this SATURDAY, September 25th and one of the ways in which you can help to support his tremendous life’s work is to support the agency he founded! Details can be found at www.elcentrodelaraza.org.
Maestas was controversial in some circles, but the kind of guy people will name buildings and parks after. After Margo Adair’s passing three weeks ago, it’s been a tough month for the Seattle progressive community.
She may be a batshit-crazy lunatic. She may be a gun-fetishizing workplace massacre waiting to happen. She may be shunned by her own caucus. She may out-Tea Party the Tea Party. But at least State Senator Pam Roach is not, so far as anyone knows, a convicted child molester.
Somehow, in the 31st District of Eastern King and Pierce Counties, two Democrats split the vote for the right to challenge The Notorious Roach (isn’t that the name of a rapper?) And a Republican primary challenger named Matt Richardson slipped through and finished second, earning him the right to challenge Roach in November. And it turns out Richardson, um, has a long and sordid history of fancying little girls.
As Goldy notes at HA, the local district Democrats sure come off as spectacularly incompetent when Roach is the “responsible” choice in the race. More to the point, wonder why so many people get turned off to politics when these two are the only choice to represent in the state senate the 140,000 or so people living in the 31st district?
And while there have certainly been Democratic pols who turn out to be perverts, it’s simply remarkable how many of these fine, upstanding, moralizing, family values-type Republicans–the kind who are scandalized by teh gay and teh Mexican and by women controlling their own bodies–turn out to have an uncontrollable thing for the young and powerless.
And we then wonder why they’re so attracted to positions of power, and why they seem so intent, once they get there, on, you know, screwing us.
Some world leaders mature as they head into the sunset: Jimmy Carter often makes more sense in his eighties than he did as president nearly four decades ago. Others spare the world their midnight thoughts, not always voluntarily. Ronald Reagan succumbed to Alzheimer’s; Ariel Sharon is still animate, albeit effectively dead to the world. Alas, [...]
For the first time ever, a group of activists has been acquitted of charges stemming from a protest of remote-controlled warfare, on the grounds that US use of drone attacks is a war crime and a violation of international law.
The fourteen defendants in Las Vegas were found not guilty by a jury of charges they trespassed onto Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base on April 9, 2009. Creech is where video-game jockeys launch attachs from remote-controlled drones in villages in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere; the activists freely admitted to entering the base but claimed they did so to prevent a greater crime. And the jury agreed.
Naturally, there’s been virtually no media coverage of the trial outside Las Vegas – just as there is almost never coverage of similar protests and legal proceedings across the country. But this is believed to be the first time that the legality of drone warfare has been considered by a jury in a US court of law.
And since the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons has long been settled (hint: it’s not), the verdict also provides some hope for the activists now facing federal charges for trespassing at Kitsap County’s Bangor nuclear sub base last year. Arraignment on those charges is now scheduled for Tacoma’s federal courthouse on this coming Friday, Sep. 24 (see our Activist Calendar for updates.)
With our new web site, the ETS! activist calendar will now feature continuously updated listings of events of interest in the coming 15 days. To get your event listed, e-mail us as firstname.lastname@example.org. For an excellent and much, much longer compilation of upcoming and ongoing progressive events in Seattle, check out Jean Buskin’s Peace Calendar: [...]
From the Guardian UK:
The whole article is worth reading, as a sickening reminder of why US efforts to win “hearts and minds” in Afghanistan are doomed–not because US soldiers are any worse than any other soldiers anywhere, but precisely because they’re not. This is what war does to people. Random rapes and murders of civilians, singly or in large numbers, are an inevitable part of the violence and dehumanization of modern warfare. And they tend to make the target population less than convinced that you’re there because you’re just oozing concern about their “freedom” and “democracy.” It’s hard to be free when you’re a fingerless corpse.
Not that most people in the US would know about that. No, it’s apparently also hard to be free–as in a free press–if you reflexively muzzle yourself when stories like this break, lest they reflect poorly on our valiant soldiers and the glorious country they serve. News flash: our shit stinks just like everyone else’s. And since we’re such a big country, in terms of our population, economy, and (especially) resource consumption, there sure seems to be more of it.
The invaluable Rachel Maddow documents (h/t BooMan) that no less than five Republicans now nominated by their party to run for the US Senate oppose reproductive rights for women even in the case of rape or incest. The five: Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ken Buck of Colorado, Joe Miller of Alaska, Sharron Angle of Nevada, and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware.
(So much for libertarianism and not wanting to intrude into peoples’ private affairs.)
As I noted Tuesday night, after O’Donnell and several other crazies won their primaries, these people are seriously dangerous. Simply the fact that such extreme views are now being wielded by mainstream candidates makes the views an “acceptable” alternative in the eyes of media and culture. It’s the slippery slope we’ve been sliding down for 30 years, steadily redefining “normal” in ever more reactionary ways.
And it’s not just abortion on which Republicans have gone off the deep end. Take the single most pressing issue of our time: climate change:
Sure, it’s a danger if these folks get elected, especially to the Senate, with its six-year terms and endless capacity for obstructionism and gridlock. Moreover, among the rape and incest lobby, Paul and Miller are leading in their respective races right now, and Angle is within the polling margin of error.
But the worst damage comes whether they’re elected or not, unless these folks are isolated and marginalized as the extreme voices they are. Otherwise, we could find ourselves in a couple of years pining for sensible moderates like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, while the really crazy folks want to round everyone into camps. Sound paranoid? Did you really think, ten years ago, that someone as extreme as Palin could be nominated for Vice President of the United States, lose badly, and come back as a leading presidential candidate for the next cycle, more popular with her base than ever?
The point is, don’t snigger and take these folks lightly. The damage they do can be minimized, but only if we don’t ignore them and pretend people will come to their senses. History is replete of examples of that sense-coming not happening before a lot of folks’ lives are destroyed. Those societies were no more backward and ignorant than the USA of 2010. It’s one of the ways people react universally under the pressure of bad economic times and a broken political system: fear, hate, and scapegoating. And it’s a much more serious danger than Obama not being progressive enough.
In a development that should surprise absolutely nobody, Slog is reporting that the city is recommending a for-profit Chihuly outlet mall “museum” for the open space where the Fun Forest now stands at Seattle Center.
This was the city’s plan all along, negotiated for a year and a half behind closed doors. After public outcry forced an actual public process to be attached to the space a few months ago, several other competing proposals emerged, including a high-end playground (amenities for kids are sorely lacking downtown, even more so once the Fun Forest goes away) and a new studio and performance space for KEXP radio. Much as I would have loved KEXP to move there (since we trundle into KEXP to do our own show each Saturday morning), most neutral observers seemed to think the fix was in from the get-go. And…sure enough.
It’s hard to believe that the “best use” of this rare public space is an outlet mall “museum” and gift shop – surrounded by an eight-foot wall – charging admission and selling kitschy art that’s readily available elsewhere (including a better museum in Tacoma, 30 miles away). But this is all about money, and always has been – a sad commentary on how the city, and most public agencies, view public resources mostly for their value as an income stream in these cash-strapped times. Sure, only a tiny percentage of the public (the folks with good jobs and disposable income and no taste) will find the outlet mall museum of any interest. But the rest of us simply don’t matter. Money talks, and bullshit can go find your kid a playground some other damn place.
Too bad the city couldn’t have been honest about the process from the beginning, so the other applicants needn’t have wasted their time adding their lipstick to this pig.
UPDATE 5:35 PM
KEXP responds to the panel decision:
Of course they’ve been looking at other options. They’d have been fools not to. They can suss out a stacked process as well as anyone.
Once again tonight, certifiable lunatics have virtually swept the Republican primaries. They’re up for general election to the House and Senate in November in dozens of states. In several–Utah, Kentucky, Alaska, South Carolina, and (depending on which poll you believe) Nevada, they’re leading in races to serve in the Senate, where one person can cause gridlock for the whole institution. And most likely will, because these folks don’t believe in governing or government, and they don’t believe either that the crises of ordinary people matter or that people who do think they matter should be allowed to respond constructively. And that’s the least of what these people believe.
I’m getting really tired of progressive activists, in Seattle and nationally, ragging on the Obama administration. Have they been bad on a lot of things? Absolutely. But to spend our time and energy targetting them when you’ve got open fascists–and I generally don’t like hyperbole, but I use that word carefully and exactly–positioning themselves to take over the country is, to put it mildly, the wrong priority.
Ten years ago, the rallying cry of the insurgent Nader for President campaign was that there was no fundamental difference between the Democrats and Republicans. And they were right; people forget how abominably conservative Al Gore’s record was. But that sameness is no longer true–not because corporate centrists like Obama have gotten any better, but because the current crop of crazy on the right, from Bachmann to Joe Miller to Sharron Angle to Rand Paul, makes George W. Bush look moderate (not to mention intelligent and statesmanlike).
There are a lot of threats to our country and the world: climate change, resource depletion, wars, economic calamity. The Democrats have not done a very good job with any of them. But on every single one of these fronts–not to mention basic fundamental liberties for anyone who’s not a straight white male evangelical Christian–things are going to get exponentially worse under the most likely current alternative.
Unfortunately, a lot of this is being made possible because the Democrats in power have, by and large, been pathetic–smug, spineless, opportunistic sellouts who are only too willing to compromise whatever residual values they might have. And most people know it. But it’s worse than that, because the Democratic establishment can’t wrap their head around the idea that the new breed of Tea Party nihilist isn’t like them. These folks are not interested in governing. Or compromise. They want to blow things up (figuratively and literally). You’ve got Democratic operatives tonight actually happy that so many crazies won in a half-dozen different states, because in the short term it makes it slightly more likely that a few more Democrats will hold onto their seats come November. Those Democrats will keep offering compromise and reason, and getting nowhere. Because the opposition is emotional, and could not care less about, you know, facts.
We’re way past appeals to reason. The Democrats in power, almost without exception, think the threat is that they might lose their jobs–not that the country will go to hell, and take much of the world with it. And they think the threat is a competing ideology whose myriad internal contradictions will dissolve under the light of logic and reason. They’re walking into a knife fight planning to hand out leaflets.
What can we do locally? We can do our little bit to help the legislative process by keeping Dino Rossi out of the Senate, and sending Dave Reichert to the unemployment line with him. Patty Murray and Suzan DelBene have flaws, but they are, by and large, rational actors. More importantly, though, progressives need to start thinking in terms of our own, grass roots alternative institutions, and our own plans for challenging The Stupid. We need to start taking care of each other, and watching each others’ backs. We need to organize our own damn selves. There’s almost no imaginable scenario in which tough times aren’t ahead. Just how bad and crazy things get depends a lot on whether we as radicals push back in a serious way, or keep wringing our hands and spending our time carping about Obama, as though pressuring him from the left is going to have the least little impact on the firestorm enveloping the right.
A lot of people might have different ideas of what that pushback might look like. I can imagine, for example, something along the line of the anti-fascist, anti-racist organizing that’s taken place occasionally in the US but widely in Europe, where people birddog the Tea Partiers, confronting (in a made-for-TV manner) their ugly racism and xenophobia and know-nothing ignorance every step of the way–not with leaflets and reasoned argument, but with rage that such ignorance is a threat to our safety, our futures, and (in the case of climate change) our childrens’ very existence. Which it is. Ridicule is often effective, too. I’m sure there are lots of good ideas; the point is to identify the most serious problem, and it’s not Obama and the Democrats.
Whether Democrats and mainstream media understand or acknowledge this threat or not, we should. Right. Now.