This past weekend was supposed to include a trip to Laredo, and possibly continuing on to Nuevo Laredo, for some churchmates and me. The plan was to leave Thursday morning, stay in Laredo, deliver supplies, via Catholic Charities, to a refugee center in Nuevo, provide any other needed assistance, and return Monday (today). They needed mostly clothing, toiletries, and snacks: e.g., spray deodorant rather than sticks or roll-on because the refugees would be sharing it.
About a week before scheduled takeoff, we received word from the office at First UU Church's Thoreau Campus (in Richmond TX) that the folks at Catholic Charities would not be able to host us or put us to work. So the mission was officially scrubbed a few days later.
However, the supplies were still needed. At least one of the folks who signed up for a spot on the bus loaded the supplies in her truck and went on her own. I was not able to provide much of the load, but I did drive downtown during lunch hour to hand over to Melissa Sanchez a few bags of sanitary supplies that a friend had procured.
We're back in H-Town after our big roadtrip to Seattle, Chicago, and various points between. During the two weeks' travel, I took a break from blogging, as there was no time for it with all the driving and hotel check-ins and visiting friends and other activities. For me, you might say that it was a vacation from unemployment. As for Kayleen, she started her new job Monday, the day after we returned. Selected photos from out excursion will appear in a later post.
This Is What a Crowd of Pissed-Off (Mostly) Democrats Looks Like!
Yesterday I got back to activism, showing up at the weekly protest in front of Sen. John Cornyn's office, with a larger-than-usual crowd gathered to yell "CLOSE THE CAMPS!" and other slogans. I don't like chanting, but it warmed my heart to be present there. I didn't even mind all the Democratic Party t-shirts that showed how deluded the wearers are. MoveOn, for example, had a fairly large contingent in attendance. My UU brethren numbered about a dozen. I was immensely gratified that venerable Houston activist Gloria Rubac and some friends showed up to represent F.I.R.E. (Fighting for Immigrant Rights Everywhere). We got some media coverage from the Chronicle and several TV stations (e.g., KPRC).
Despite Cornyn's recent flippant tweet about having to withdraw his money from Bank of America in response to its no longer doing business with private prison companies, the senior senator from Texas has apparently introduced legislation to stop the family separation policy. Republicrat Rep. Henry Cuellar has put the same bill before the US House. Did the protests have anything to do with that? I'd like to think so, even if not; the bill was announced two months ago. If adopted, watered down or not, the bill would still bring a return to the unacceptable "keep families together behind bars" policy of the Obama administration.
This Facebook rant was inspired by this piece posted in The Intercept last night after Trump's Wall Speech.
Last night's televised Oval Orifice address (which, I'll admit, I haven't watched) and the general response to it make me think of Dr. George Lakoff and Caitlin Johnstone. Both these writers have important, Big-Picture things to say about this and related issues—and how the Democrats lost 2016. (Hint: It wasn't Susan Sarandon's fault.)
Liberals and progressives have been trying to argue against the border wall using facts, statistics, and reasoning. That's a great approach if you're trying to convince other liberals and progressives. If you're trying to convince conservatives, or win elections against them, or talk to people who don't claim any ideology (Obama/Trump voters), facts and reasoning are mostly ineffective. Too many conservatives and non-ideologues care less about documentable facts than about whether you're telling a good story.
Yes, policy should be evidence-based. Not so long ago, in my lifetime, even Republicans believed that. But if you trot out facts and stats in your electoral campaign, you risk losing your audience.
From an editorial in today's Chronicle, where Pulitzer winner Lisa Falkenberg is now the editorial page editor [paywall]:
“I think it’s unacceptable that a member of Congress is not being admitted to see what’s happening to children whose families are applying for asylum,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, on the Facebook Live video of the incident.
The story of immigrant/refugee families forcibly separated at the border and put in cages right here in the Good Ol' USA is heart-wrenching for anyone capable of empathy. It's opening whole new horizons of cruelty. Even the UN Human Rights Commission is shocked.
Here's the kicker though: The worse this Republican administration and Congress get, the worse the Democrats can comfortably become.
Merkley is one of the relatively good guys in the Senate. His progressive voting record is not perfect, but from what I've seen it's reasonably consistent. On the House side, I'm lately developing an appreciation for Connecticut's Chris Murphy, as well as Hawai'i rep Tulsi Gabbard. Apart from her weirdness on US-India relations, I find myself agreeing with about 95% of Gabbard's positions.
Finding a few fresh apples in the basket of Democratic Congresscritters is refreshing. It doesn't mean that the whole party, at the national level, is worth my time, money, or votes.
Barack Obama's apologists in the media are saying, "Sure, Obama deported millions back to countries overrun by drug gangs, & he locked whole families in private prisons, but at least he allowed them to stay behind bars together." Democratic legislators keep voting for War & Wall Street, and they can still say, "At least we're not THOSE guys!" as they take turns being the "progressive" face of their party.
This is not a matter of expecting ideological purity from politicians, as some Democrat-leaning friends of mine would insist. This is a matter of Democrats' complicity in some truly evil shit.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.