Archive for November, 2005 Page 2 of 2

The Bush Administration speaks from both sides of its mouth on torture

From Reuters AlertNet: Bush vows “we do not torture” terror suspects:

“We do not torture and therefore we’re working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it more possible to do our job,” Bush said.

And by working with Congress, they Bush Administration apparently means sending in Cheney to fight efforts by Congress to outlaw federal agencies from using torture. Because yeah, whatever, they don’t torture. But they just want to be able to. You know. Just in case.

At least Condoleezza Rice is making a whit of sense, for once.

In recent months, Cheney has been the force against adding safeguards to the Defense Department’s rules on treatment of military prisoners, putting him at odds with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England. On a trip to Canada last month, Rice interrupted a packed itinerary to hold a secure video-teleconference with Cheney on detainee policy to make sure no decisions were made without her input.

… Rice has emerged as an advocate for changing the rules to “get out of the detainee mess,” said one senior U.S. official familiar with discussions. Her top advisers, along with their Pentagon counterparts, are working on a package of proposals designed to address all controversial detainee issues at once, instead of dealing with them on a piecemeal basis.

One might wish that Rice wanted to change the rules in order to uphold human rights and some notion of true justice, rather than to “get out of the detainee mess.” But we’ll take what little we can get, I suppose.

Ballot measures, Working Families, and NJ insanity

Any other New Yorkers a bit lost when it comes to the ballot measures in this upcoming vote? Here’s a little help from two sources: the Gotham Gazette and the Daily Gotham.

Also, mole333 from the Daily Gotham reminded me to help spread this from the Working Families party:

The Working Families Party: 5 reasons to vote for Freddy Ferrer

The WFP believes elections are about issues, not personalities. Elections are a moment for society to pause and, by the simple act of pulling a lever, say, this is what we stand for.

That moment comes once every four years in New York City. And for us, the choice is clear. On the issues that matter most to working families, Fernando Ferrer reflects our values — equality, decency, opportunity, solidarity, freedom.

Here are five examples – five reasons to vote for Fernando Ferrer:

1. Expanding the Law Requiring Companies that do business with the city to pay a Living Wage. Ferrer supports it. Bloomberg opposes it.

2. Requiring Big Box Retailers in NYC to provide Health Care to their employees. Ferrer supports it. Bloomberg opposes it (and vetoed the City Council’s bill).

3. Building a Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel, Congressman Jerry Nadler’s extremely smart idea that will reduce traffic, pollution, and asthma. Ferrer supports it. Bloomberg opposes it (and flip-flopped).

4. Postponing the city tax cut for millionaires scheduled to phase in at the end of 2005. Ferrer supports postponing the phase-out.

5. Returning the power of rent control and rent stabilization to the City so more working families can afford to live in New York. Ferrer supports it. Bloomberg opposes it.

On the issues, the WFP endorses Fernando Ferrer and we urge you to vote for him on Tuesday.

Thank you,

Jim Duncan, Bertha Lewis, and Bob Master, Co-Chairs
Dan Cantor, Executive Director

BTW, for those non-New Yorkers or others bored by my city politics blogging – don’t worry, the elections will be over soon!

Also, turning to my home state of New Jersey – WTF is with the governor’s race these days?!? I truly hope that if I ever decide to run for public office, some ex-girlfriend or ex-partner of mine doesn’t decide to go on TV and say that I failed her and I’ll probably fail my constituency, too. Outrageous!

Shut up already, Mike.

If I hear one more commercial for Mike Bloomberg tonight on 96.3 FM (the classical station), I’m going to throw my stereo out the window. OK, not really – I like my stereo far too much to do such a thing. But I’m so sick of the Bloomberg ads, mostly because they outnumber Ferrer’s ads, oh, maybe 1,000,000,000 to 1. Which is probably because Bloomberg’s dollars outnumbered Ferrer’s dollars by around the same rate.

I know that there are nations where there’s campaign finance laws that reduce this kind of ridiculous and completely unfair edge that personal wealth (and the wealth of one’s political base) gives to some American politicians (Canada, perhaps? Perhaps. I’m too lazy/otherwise busy to do the research right now.) Oh, if we only had such sane, fair campaign finance laws in this country. (Not that much of anything is very fair about US elections these days.)

In related news, I greatly appreciated this post in today’s Wonkster about the way the New York press has basically declared Ferrer’s campaign dead in the water and Bloomberg the premature winner. As Jonathan points out, polls can be wrong, and the one that really matters is the one that will occur on Tuesday. I only hope that the grim outlook given by the media won’t discourage potential Ferrer voters from casting their votes on Tuesday for lack of any hope. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

ACTION ALERT: Help FIERCE fight for queer and trans youth’s right to be in the West Village

The quick of it, if you don’t have time to read the back story: New Yorkers who care about queer and trans youth of color should show up on Monday at 6:30pm at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, 3 Clarkson Street, 3rd Floor (7th Ave) for an important action by FIERCE against a plan to barricade Christopher St after the 1am curfew. (Also, while I’m speaking to New Yorkers – y’all need to VOTE on Tuesday! Vote Ferrer!)

Now, the back story: Christopher Street and the nearby Pier in Manhattan have been a gathering point and something of a safe haven for queer and trans folk for time immemorial. The area has served especially as one of the few safe public places for queer and trans youth, many of whom are youth of color and many of whom are homeless or low-income.

Some of the people who can afford to live in the West Village – mostly rich, white folks – have decided that they’d rather not have these queer and trans youth in “their” neighborhood.
These people have been quite active in trying to drive queer and trans youth out of the West Village, Christopher St. and the Piers. They’ve organized in their community board, lobbied for earlier curfews for the area, blocked efforts to create a queer and trans youth drop-in center in the neighborhood, requested and received increased and biased policing of the area, and have generally done all they can to drive the youth out. They’re supported in this by the NYPD, who frequently harass queer and trans youth (no sir, absolutely no profiling going on there. Uh-huh.)

Since 2000, FIERCE!, an organization for queer and trans youth of color, has been one of the few voices raised against these forces – as stated on their website, against the “displacement and criminalization of queer and trans youth of color and homeless youth at the pier and in the Village.” They work hard to make the voices of queer and trans youth of color heard by the powers that be, and they’ve consistently challenged the racist, homophobic, transphobic and classist policies that the rich residents and business owners of the West Village have tried to push through. I’ve had the privilege of working with them on a few actions, and they’re pretty amazing.

Right now, FIERCE is gearing up to face yet another challenge from the residents of the West Village. Now, those “concerned citizens” have managed to come up with some pretty fucked up “solutions” to the “problem” of queer and trans youth of color over the years. At one point, residents requested that Park Enforcement Patrol officers, who are not police officers, be armed in order to deal with the “special population” of the Piers, the queer and trans folks that one woman at a community board meeting dubbed “leftovers.” But what they’re trying to push through now is exceptionally disgusting.

Currently, there’s a 1 am curfew in place on the piers; at that time, the Park Enforcement Patrol clears folks out. The logical route for one being forced to leave the piers is Christopher Street, which is a busy commercial street lined with shops, bars, and restaurants that are open until all hours. However, the residents are apparently put off by the queer youth who walk down Christopher and other nearby residential streets as they leave. FIERCE and other groups have advocated for a later curfew of 4 am, which would allow pier-goers to leave in a more gradual, interspersed manner, thereby reducing noice and crowding.

But that’s not good enough for the residents. Their solution?

They want to install metal barricades at the entrances to Christopher Street and other residential streets, blocking access to those leaving the piers and corraling them along the West Side Highway, either north to 14th St or south to Houston St. Advocates of this plan claim that no discrimination or profiling will be applied when directing people away from the barricades. However, as a friend and FIERCE organizer said to me a few nights ago, it’s highly doubtful that the wealthy white person walking their dog in the park who claims to live just a block away will be turned away. As FIERCE stated in a recent action alert, “only ‘some’ people will be allowed down Christopher Street – and they have no answers, other than discrimination, to tell the difference between us and the people who pay for property in the West Village.”

This Monday, there’s going to be a meeting of the Community Board 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee in the West Village where the plan will be discussed. FIERCE is planning to show up in force to protest this unacceptable move by the West Village residents.

FIERCE needs the help of its allies to demonstrate disapproval of this plan! If you’re a New Yorker who thinks that this plan is total b.s., show up at 6:30pm at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, 3 Clarkson Street, 3rd Floor (7th Ave). Hear FIERCE’s plan and help save seats inside so that as many FIERCE members and allies as possible can pack the meeting and make their voices heard. And if you’re a queer or trans youth, contact FIERCE at 646.336.6789 x108 to find out how you can join up and fight back, too.

For more info on this fiasco, check out this article from the Villager: Gate may be closed to gays in park’s crowd-control plan. A choice bit from this article that demonstrates the attitudes of these folks against queer youth:

Asked what the gay youth would do once they leave the park at 14th and Houston Streets, [David Poster, president of the Christopher Street Patrol], noting there are many subway lines on 14th Street, said: “Let them go home. Let them go where they want. The idea that they have to be on Christopher Street is a fallacy. Maybe they’ll find something much more positive than being with prostitutes down there. Maybe it’ll help them.”

Yes, I’m sure that this guy is really concerned about or knows a damn thing about helping queer and trans youth. Clearly, making it more difficult and less safe for them to be in one of the few safe spaces they have in this city is a great way to help them. Yeah. Right.

The riots of Paris: a much abused community fights back

The riots in Paris, sparked by the deaths of two African teens and fueled by longstanding racism, xenophobia, and tensions, rage on. It is frightening to watch it happen through the lens of the media, and angering to know that little is likely to be done to address the real oppression, the real discrimination, the real problems at the root of the conflicts. Instead, I worry, the French government and people may respond with further xenophobia, racism, and police crackdowns on African youth and immigrant communities in general.

Black Looks, the blog of an African fem living in Spain, gives us rare, thorough, and nuanced account of the riots. She points out the problems of the portrayals in the blogosphere and the mainstream media of the riots and the communities involved. I highly recommend reading what she’s written, because it’s definitely given me a better understanding of what’s been going on, one that certainly cannot be found in the US mainstream media – when it decides to cover this at all. Two friends heard about the rioting only yesterday, and these are not people who try to avoid news coverage of this sort of thing.

Owukori of Black Looks also describes how the riots are being portrayed as being driven by Islamic fundamentalists, as is further discussed in this Reuters article. Because, obviously, every time a community that includes Muslims lashes out against injustice, it’s not because of the long oppression that they’ve endured, it’s because they’re crazy radical Islamists! Ugh. Is it so far fetched that a community so maligned might be driven to the edge, especially its youths? And even if some “Islamic fundamentalists” are involved, is it possible for people to reflect that Muslims might have very good reason to react with anger towards the French government and other Western governments? Instead, we’re left with governments, media and societies that immediately lump all Muslims together as “radicals” and “terrorists” driven by religious rage, not by rage against a system that works hard to marginalize, stigmatize, and discriminate against them.

Almost as an aside, I found this bit from the Reuters article to be striking:

Ahmed Hamidi, a white-bearded Moroccan electrician long resident in France, had no patience with politicians in Paris, which lies hardly an hour away but seems like another planet.

“All the politicians care about are laws for homosexuals and all those immoral things,” he fumed. “They are against headscarves, against beards and against the mosques.

First thought/gut reaction: ugh. Second thought: I can’t imagine that attitudes towards queer folks in certain communities are made any better when governments do right by them, but then don’t do right by those communities. Until all are free…

Ferrer, Bloomberg, and the “Puerto Rican Card”

From the New York Times this morning: The Mayor Tries to Trump His Opponent’s Puerto Rican Card

Reaching into a core constituency of his opponent, Fernando Ferrer, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg attended an East Harlem rally of cheering Latino supporters yesterday and said that he had received the endorsement of Jorge Santini-Padilla, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Now, being a Puerto Rican New Yorker who is most definitely voting for Fernando Ferrer, this article really got on my nerves.

Let’s start with the title: “The Mayor Tries to Trump His Opponent’s Puerto Rican Card.” First off, can I just express my continued annoyance at the Card Phenomenon? In other words, the consistent use of phrases like “race card” and “Puerto Rican card” when discussing the attempts of politicians, be they white or people of color, to win the votes of people of color. When are we going to hear the mainstream media talking about the White Card that so many white candidates hold in their hands and play so easily? Oh, but wait, I forgot – white folks don’t have race. Race is what we talk about when we’re talking about people of color. Silly me.

Aside from the general annoyance of the phrase – how exactly does a white man trump a Puerto Rican man’s Puerto Rican Card? Has the support of some deluded Latino supporters and a few opportunistic Puerto Rican politicians suddenly transformed Bloomberg into a Boricua? Sorry, no.

And, let’s talk about these Puerto Rican politicians who have nothing better to do than to support a white man over a Puerto Rican man in the NYC mayoral elections. The NY Times article cites the mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini-Padilla, and three nameless members of the P.R. House of Representatives as having endorsed Bloomberg.

Well, a bit of research on Santini-Padilla confirmed my immediate hunch – the man is a member of the Partido Nuevo Progesista (New Progressive Party) of Puerto Rico – the party that promotes and campaigns for full U.S. statehood for Puerto Rico. So to me, it’s no surprise that a man who is willing to sell out his people and his national identity by making our nation of Puerto Rico even more a possession of the United States, a man who is the mayor of one of the richer cities in a country with a poverty rate of 48.2%, would also be willing to shill for a white Republican mayor over a Puerto Rican Democrat who actually gives a damn about NYC’s Puerto Rican and poor people. Disappointing, yes, but not surprising in the least. Santini-Padilla may be Puerto Rican, but this Boricua could give a damn about what he thinks is best for the Puerto Rican people of NYC.

(As an aside, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, the governor of Puerto Rico who has endorsed Ferrer, is a member of the Partido Popular Democrático (Popular Democratic Party), which is not so good as to endorse independence, but at doesn’t want things to go beyond the current commonwealth status.)

Something different.

Welcome to AngryBrownButch. Clearly, it’s brand spanking new. Over the next few days I’m going to be working on design, layout, content, all that good stuff. For now, we’re going bare bones.

If you’re looking at this, either your one of my friends or you’ve amazingly stumbled upon this newborn site. Either way, let me introduce you to AngryBrownButch.

I’m Jack, and I’m an angry brown butch. I like to rant about the sick state of affairs in this world today. Being not only an angry brown butch, but also a techie and lapsed blogger, I’ve decided to take it back to the blog. I’ve done this not least of all because the so-called liberal or progressive blogosphere seems to be overpopulated with mainstream, usually white, usually male voices. The kind of folks who, for instance, freak the fuck out when a person of color (that’s me, surblimity) presents a definition of racism that personally implicates them in the enduring system of racism in our society. I’d like to add my voice to those of other bloggers of color (to be linked to and blogrolled soon), queer bloggers, genderqueer bloggers, and women bloggers. (For more on the lack of attention paid to bloggers of color, check out this article from the Amsterdam News, as posted by Afro-Netizen.)

So, yeah – I’m going to return to getting this place looking good, but soon, there should be some actual content up here. I hope you’ll check back.