Sunday, April 30, 2006

More on Fantasy Island

I rode out there yesterday and wanted to ruminate a bit on the situation and the actuality of this wonderful trail system.

From my house you ride a couple miles south and then turn east, where the urban bike trails take you, in a most civilized fashion, in a zig-zagging course along the local airbase's northern fence. Along the way you pass what is known as the boneyard, which is where thousands and thousands of old planes are stored. You'll see f-14's, f-111's, b-1 bombers, f-4 phantoms, and many other types of planes sitting mothballed in the desert. The last 3 miles of the approach to the bike trails of Fantasy Island is dirt, and sets you down right at the trailhead. It's an excellent warm-up ride, and although the trails at Fantasy Island are not that technical, the first part of the course is full of steep little washes that're more enjoyable when you're all warmed up.

All Fantasy Island's optional loops branch out to the right as you follow the inner, 6-mile Lone Cactus loop. Yesterday I wanted to ride the "Bunny Trail," which is on the land that will most likely be developed as part of the compromise for not blading and grading the whole 3 square mile plot. The Bunny Trail is kind of flat and twisty, through land grazed by cattle that looks like something from an old west movie. It's a good place to gear up and haul ass and find out why you put those good tires on your bike. The rest of the loops are rockier, and when the weather is dry rocks accumulate at the bottoms of the some the steep wash-crossings and make a nice challenge as you try to maintian momentum in order to get up the other side. The steepest hills are the end of the ride, so I recommend stashing a beer in your hydration pack and taking a breather at the picnic table at the trailhead.

Always a wonderful ride no matter which loops you take and especially if you ride them all.

Fantasy Island is described nicely in this piece in Dirt Rag by local rider and trails-access advocate Mark Flint.

I went out there with a camera on a ride once but the poor thing never worked after that, so I was a little skeptical about bringing my digital on the ride with me yesterday, much as I'd like to post a few pics of the desert and the trails. Most of the images you find in a Google search are kind of rider/jock oriented- yuck.

The debate over national ID

In this Cnet article Dean McCullagh presents a well rounded look at the threat to civil liberties represented by what is being called The Real ID Act. The article is full of links providing background on the subject, but focuses on the issue by describing New Hampshire's efforet to outlaw National ID. What National ID would boil down to would be a card that everyone would probably be required to carry which has all your personal data on it, and which card can be read via radio at any time. In other words, privacy and the concept of personal information would be pretty much out the window. I have to agree with the article's thesis that most people won't tolerate something like this and the outcry against it will be huge.

My own point here is that we all need to make it clear to our government that we won't tolerate the trashing the of the Bill of Rights.

Yes, I did find the article via a post in the excellent Boing Boing.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bush goes to Stanford

"for every pig there will be a Saturday"

So they hate Bush at Stanford. He can't really go anywhere these days without people turning out in droves to protest. The Stanford Daily gives a lot of detail in this article- a lot of detail.
“I think there’s going to be a new wave of student activism around the country,” [Steve Westly, CA demo guv. candidate] said. “I’m glad to see some of that’s happening at Stanford. I found the protest peaceful and well-organized.”
“I thought Stanford was really a bubble, but seeing all the people that are out here has shown me that people really are concerned,” [Alejandra Aponte] said. “I’m Latina; I’m from Guatemala. Right now President Bush is doing some very interesting things in Latin America. We have a phrase ‘For every pig, there will be a Saturday.’ Basically, his game is over.”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fantasy Island in Tucson

Unidentified dork out at the Tucson Mountains, opposite side of Tucson from Fantasy Island

One of my favorite mountain bike trails is Fantasy Island, about 10 miles from my house, located to the east of Davis Monthan AFB's "bone yard." Fantasy Island is full of cactuses and steep washes and rocks and lizards and old jack rabbits with gray muzzles. There's about 18 miles of trail there. The land was going to be developed, naturally, which around here means they scrape the desert bare- our Sonoran desert, a unique ecosystem, and one of the things us desert rats truly love- and put up ticky tacky houses. Local bikers and other community members fought back, joining up, writing letters, going to meetings, working with the city government and trying to work with the State Land Dept. The latest news, according to this AZ Daily Star article, which looks very encouraging, is that the state legislature has passed a resolution calling for Fantasy Island's preservation. The article quotes a Republican from Tucson, a Tom Paton, as saying it's important for the government to listen to and respresent the people. Way to go Mr. Paton. Right you are. The protest against ruining this huge strech of desert, which I put at about 3 square miles, was apparently quite large.

Republicans mountain bike too, and true Republicans are all for the preservation of nature. In this case a Republican argument can be made that having the Fantasy Island area preserved increases property value all around.

The State's resolution is non-binding, however, and the southern part of the mountain biking area (encompassing the Bunny Trail and the Snake Dance Loop) is supposedly going to be developed anyway, but the City of Tucson is behind the preservation measure, and has been working with Tucsonans on the issue for quite some time. The real snake is the State Land Dept, which has been somewhat secretive. They are the ones to watch out for- to many of us the State Trust Land situation is a slimey one, with a PR face and millions of dollars going somewhere but not where they'd like you to believe.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

More about protesting against Republican policy in Tucson

Update, 4/20/06: the fuckin idiot who burned the Mexican Flag was arrested, according to the Star. They just mentioned it in passing and did not say why. Apparently 20 or so people attended a meeting and spoke out against the local police using pepper spray and etc, and that was the subject of the article.

It seems to particularly rile the state's backwards right wing legislators that youth have become interested in speaking out against Republican immigration policy. State Representative Jonathan Patton of Tucson is up in arms over local school district's use of buses to take kids back to school from protests. Patton is also busily working up the hocus-pocus machine against U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva- one of the few Democrats not afraid to speak out against Bush and Company- for giving a speech to students at Tucson High School about the current immigration legislation and Grijalva's role in it. The speech was after Monday's protests. So a congressman with an Hispanic surname giving a speech to students in his district is enough to get the congressman on our good local Republican Jonathan Patton's shitlist! Wow. I can't think of a better illustration of stupidity and racism and attacking freedom of speech than this. I can't think of a better illustration of current trends in "Nuevo Republicanism" - stamp out debate and opposition, create a fuss like there's something wrong with it, divert attention away from the issue at hand, etc. etc.

The story in the Star I refer to above is here.

The Arizona Daily Wildcat, the University's daily, ran a couple stories about the Monday round of protesting- one about the local side of things and the other about state angle. 100,000 to 200,000 people turned out in Phoenix, by the way, depending on who ya talk to.

One of the stories included an excellent picture of what is apparently a pair of fools or professional troublemakers burning a Mexican flag in the middle of the protest. Just trying to get people pissed off and make everyone else look like fools, give the protest a dangerous, violent, unruly subtext.

According to one of the Wildcat stories the current Republican bill, HR 4437, would "require church and humanitarian aid organizations to check the citizenship of parishioners before they provide any assistance." So if you're a U.S. citizen, or anybody at all, and you go to a church and ask for help, you have to prove your citizenship. There you have current Republican philosophy in a nutshell- no ethics, no presumtion of privacy, no attempt to mind their own business.

But the Republicans in government, as many "real" Republicans will tell you, are actually supposed to represent us the people!! Not xenophobes, people who think everyone has to join their church "or else," or other whackos, but those of us who are a part of civil society, who acknowledge that we all want the same things in life from the government, etc. The protests over immigration seem to say a lot of people's voices are not being properly represented in the current round of Republican domination. One student put it succintly:
"I think that there needs to be a counter voice to the conservative right that has been pretty outspoken," said Brett Lovick, a Latin American studies graduate student. "I think that (conservatives) are a minority, but I think that they have had a much louder voice."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Arizona Republican congress-people don't like protests

Republican morons in Phoenix are struggling to mis-characterize the subtance of recent protests, saying the protests are made up of "illegals" and comparing the people who exercised their right to peaceable assemble and redress grievances to, you guessed, terrorists.

Here is the story, GOP lawmakers assail assault on 'rule of law'.

The Star does breifly mention a Democrat's response to the Republican whining, a warm and fuzzy story of an 84 year WWII vet who attended the marches- this is an accurate representation of local Hispanic folk, i.e. a U.S. citizen who's been in the military, etc. Of course the Star does not go into detail about further Democratic congresspeople's arguments against the Republican stance. It's amazing how they boil it all down to a spunky 84 year old man, going up against wealthy Republican congressmen in Phoenix, who promptly respond that "it has nothing to do with race."

More on election fraud and Republicans

Here is a story that show business as usual among Republicans of today. This is how they win elections:

White House link shown in scheme to limit voting

Hiring a telemarketing company to jam the calls at a Democratic get-out-the-vote effort, with the intention of preventing Democrats from voting. Apparently there have been 3 convictions in this case, and the Republican Party shelled out millions to defend its accused employees. The case made the national wire service since one of those convicted was proven to have been in constant communication with the White House during the scam.

Imagine this on a nationwide scale- this why we have a moron backed by corporate criminals sitting in the White right now.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

More about current Tucson protests against Republican policy

The local paper- the one I read anyway, the Arizona Daily Star, (sometimes called the "Daily Red Star" by those who are convinced this paper, which has its share of right-wing propaganda daily, is actually left-leaning, part of some kind of liberal conspiracy, etc.) seems to focus the local protest issue on schools, parents and teachers. Here is another story, Parents hope for business as usual at school : Teachers to join immigration protest, acknowledging the scale of the protests coming this Monday that came out in Today's Sunday 4/9/06 edition. Apparently the reporter interviewed some parents with Hispanic surnames, and asked about the protests, kind of signalling the idea, "hey is this some kind of crisis or what?" and illicit some emotion-charged responses.

The paper seems to be proposing it as an outrage that 450 teachers out of 3700 have asked for the day off. But in fact many many are out protesting right now, that includes students, families, and professionals. Republican policy is massively unpopular and people are beginning to show it, turning out in numbers too large to control.

I say the larger issue is the seriousness of the issue at hand- Republican immigration policy- and the fact that people are turning out in droves across the country to protest, making it hard to portray the protesters as small amount of crazed left wing liberals. Most of the protesters are Hispanic people- mostly not illegal immigrants, mind you- lots of the "Mexican" folks around here in Southern Arizona have had families here for 300 years. Hispanic folks as a whole include many who are quite conservative, strong on military service and Christianity, but not necessarily strong on neocon/ Bush administration versions of conservatism.

Today's Star also included a story, GOP governor hopefuls take hard border line, about Republican gubanatorial candidates, and a meeting serveral of them had at a local highschool. The meeting was attended by all of 100 people. Woo. The candidates said some truly asinine things, for example that teachers who took the day off this coming Monday- the day of yet another round of nationwide protests against Republican immigration policy- should be fired.

The real outrage is that the Star does not have any discussion of the subject of the protests, the scale, the protest issue in other cities across the country, etc.

[Update 4/11/06--The Star must've read my blog (ya right). They did carry a story 4/10- "Marchers in streets; more are due today : In San Diego, other cities protesters seek new laws that benefit immigrants" admitting the nationwide scale of the protesting and discussing briefly the subject of the protests. Of course they channel the whole thing down to unnamed "organizers," just like they when in discussing opposition to BushCo they use the phrase "critics say..." It'd be more accurate to say who by who the protest was organized i.e. just how many U.S. citizens are organizing, and how many of us have had it with the current Republican fashion of screwing people over and lying cheating and stealing and etc, and that we, along with Mexicans here working, participated on a massive scale to oppose Republican immigration policy. The Star doesn't really mention the issues per se but has to admit the scale of this thing.]

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The extent of protests in Tucson

I don't know if this is receiving national coverage. See this article in the Star.

It seems to be going on a couple times a week. The local highschool students are really being heard, leaving class, getting out to protest Republican immigration policy. The teachers are even walking out to join the marches. There is really a very large number of people getting out to make their voice heard here in Tucson.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DeLay quits

The first of the really big neocon assholes to fall. Who'll be next? People responsible for so much lying and cheating are always on the run.

I keep saying these people are fucking crooks and will eventually end up in jail. And to think that they are ostensibly public servants. Delay was all about serving the Republicans, not the people and look where it got him.

ABC News story here, interesting piece in the Nation via Yahoo News here.

The Nation piece goes over some of DeLay's antics and history and clearly demonstrates what an evil, cheating man DeLay is. Worth quoting is some of the material surrounding DeLay's role in the election-fraud issue:
But DeLay's crudest dismantling of democracy will be little mentioned today, just as it was barely noted at the time that he brought the hammer down.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 2000, when the eyes of the nation were fixed on the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami, where a Dade County canvassing board was reviewing 10,750 uncounted ballots in Florida's disputed presidential contest between Democrat
Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, a riot orchestrated by DeLay's top aides and allies and carried out by Republican operatives flown in from Washington stopped the count. In so doing, DeLay's Izod-clad minions assured that the Bush campaign's Florida co-chair, Katharine Harris, would, in her capacity as secretary of state, be able to certify a 537-vote "win" for the Republican when the recount deadline arrived. It was that certification that allowed Florida Governor
Jeb Bush to sign a Certificate of Ascertainment designating 25 Florida electors pledged to his brother. The paperwork was immediately transferred to the National Archives, where it would eventually be cited by the
U.S. Supreme Court in its decision to award the Florida electoral votes, and with them the presidency, to George W. Bush.

DeLay's role in the recount, though little reported and even now little understood outside the inner circles of the Republican and Democratic parties, was definitional.

Furious that the Florida Supreme Court had on November 21, 2000, ordered a real recount is disputed ballots in the race that would decide the presidency, the House Republican leader had issued a statement that declared: "I hope this misguided ruling will be vigorously challenged."

DeLay was not making an idle threat. He was delivering marching orders to the troops in his war on democracy.

On the following day, a crowd of Republican aides and lobbyists flown in from Washington swarmed into the Goverment Center, chased Democratic observers out of the building and began banging on the doors of the area in which the recount of the key county's ballots had begun. Leading the "rioters" in chants of "Stop the Count" was Tom Pyle, a policy analyst in DeLay's office. This "vigorous challenge" to the count proved successful. The three-judge panel of canvassers -- who after going through only a handful of the disputed ballots had already identified more than 150 additional votes for Gore -- was shaken. After a team of sheriff's deputies restored order, the judges asked for a police escort to return them to the recounting room. There, they voted unanimously to stop the count. The additional votes for Gore that had already been discovered were discarded. Vote totals from Florida's most populous county reverted to pre-recount figures.

David Leahy, the supervisor of elections for the country, admitted that the riot "weighed heavy on our minds" as the decision to stop the recount was made. U.S. Representative Carrie Meeks, D-Miami, was blunter. "The canvassing board bowed under pressure," she said.

That pressure was applied by Tom DeLay, who would say after the U.S. Supreme Court locked in the results for Bush: "This is something I've been working on for 22 years. I mean, we got it."

For once, DeLay was being modest. While Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris and
Antonin Scalia all played their parts, it was Tom DeLay who brought down the hammer that stopped the recount process at its most critical point.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Information War

Bullshit the enemy to death. More terrifying visions of the future summed up nicely by Scottish paper the Sunday Herald. Article is here, entitled "America's war on the web."

Has me thinking somebody somewhere has decided the internet is a big threat to a system of organized lies. Information is a big threat to any lie. Get ready to start printing fliers and stuff like that when they stop your blog from being seen, and when they stop your favorite journalism sites from being seen by you, I guess.

The Sunday Herald article does a nice job of citing evidence and tying it in with Bush Administration's neo-con aims and principles:
This revolution in information warfare is merely an extension of the politics of the “neoconservative” Bush White House. Even before getting into power, key players in Team Bush were planning total military and political domination of the globe. In September 2000, the now notorious document Rebuilding America’s Defences – written by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a think-tank staffed by some of the Bush presidency’s leading lights – said that America needed a “blueprint for maintaining US global pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power-rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests”.

The PNAC was founded by Dick Cheney, the vice-president; Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary; Bush’s younger brother, Jeb; Paul Wolfowitz, once Rumsfeld’s deputy and now head of the World Bank; and Lewis Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, now indicted for perjury in America.
This point just cannot be stated enough these days.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

John Dean on censure

The Arizona Daily Star didn't even mention that hearings are going on right now in the Senate Judiciary Committee on whether to censure President Bush over the domestic spying scandal. The Star's headline just says "Dean tells Senate panel Bush should be censured" (Howard Dean, the popular scapegoat of the right wing cause, or John Dean, the Republican?) then the story just says Dean "told the Senate Judiciary Committee..." i.e. no specific mention of subject of the Judiciary Committee meeting. The story then refers to the censure issue prominently as "Feingold's measure," just isolating the whole issue as some pipedream of a disgruntled democrat, rather than focusing on the substance of the event. The standard "dems want to score political points" crap, which tends to show whenever Democrats make a substantive argument against BushCo, is also inserted.

I'm guessing a few specific things were edited out of the AP copy, as is the practice in Arizona, to soften the impact and avoid the seriousness of the issue. Plainly stating at the beginning of the article that the Sentate is still actively looking at a censure of Bush over domestic spying might undermine Bush's support among the 30% of people in U.S. who still believe he's worth a damn.

I will give the Star credit for admitting that John Dean said impeachment might be appropriate in Bush's case, but once again the Star seems kind of slick.

My theory is that the Star, and a lot of other papers, want to keep readership at the maximum by drawing both conservative and liberal readers. The Star throws out a few key points, for example a major Nixon-era figure talking about censure and impeachment of Bush, so the liberals can feel something is being done about Bush, and the "conservatives" can still whine about the "liberal media bias." At the same time, the Star leaves a lot out of the story, for example the fact that the Senate is presently considering cesure of Bush, to avoid publishing evidence of just how poorly the Bush administration is doing, just how much trouble these people are getting themselves into.

Dean, who worked for Nixon, obviously a Republican and a conservative, made remarks that echo the feelings of many of us "left wing fringe radicals" (this term, in popular debate these days really just means "anyone who opposes Bush and states publically that something should be done to take our country back from BushCo").

Dean's remarks, which I found published here in Rolling Stone, resonate truly with me, and demonstrate that opposition to Bush and Bush policy and corporate cronies like Cheney, is actually not limited to a couple outspoken Democrats, but is in reality widespread and bipartisan. Dean's remarks also echo a growing feeling among the populace that the Bush administration is power-mad, corrupt, and is doing a lot of harm to the values it claims to support.

Excerpts from Rolling Stone:
No presidency that I can find in history has adopted a policy of expanding presidential powers merely for the sake of expanding presidential powers.... It has been the announced policy of the Bush/Cheney presidency, however, from its outset, to expand presidential power for its own sake, and it continually searched for avenues to do just that, while constantly testing to see how far it can push the limits. I must add that never before have I felt the slightest reason to fear our government. Nor do I frighten easily. But I do fear the Bush/Cheney government (and the precedents they are creating) because this administration is caught up in the rectitude of its own self-righteousness, and for all practical purposes this presidency has remained largely unchecked by its constitutional coequals....

Congress is now confronted with executive branch attorneys who take the most aggressive reading possible in all situations that favor executive power.... If this committee does not believe this Administration is hell bent on expanding its powers ... you have been looking the other way for some five years of this presidency.... That is why censure might be the only way for the Senate to avoid acquiescing in what is clearly a blatant violation of the 1978 FISA stature, not to mention the Fourth Amendment.

I implore the Senate to undertake not a partisan action, but a strong institutional action. I recall a morning -- March 21, 1973 -- that I tried to warn a president of the consequences of staying his course. I failed to convince President Nixon that morning, and the rest, as they say, is history. I certainly do not claim to be prescient. Then or now. But actions have consequences, and to ignore them is merely denial. Today, it is very obvious that history is repeating itself.... I hope that the collective wisdom of this committee will prevail, and you will not place the president above the law by inaction.... Hopefully the Senate will not sit by while even more serious abuses unfold before it.
Text of Dean's entire statment, is published at