Monday, February 27, 2017

Brownsville Metro Service Restored to Sunrise Mall After Four Years

A "Bus Stop" post with a paper sign affixed announced resumption of Brownsville Metro's service to Sunrise Mall effective 2/27/17.

Service directly into the mall parking area had been discontinued in November 2012 when a disagreement arose between mall management and Brownsville Metro over pavement repair.

As Brownsville Metro Director Norma Zamora explained at the time:  “There was no way that the Brownsville (Metro) or the city could take responsibility for repairing the entire parking lot and all the damages that were being expected to be fixed,” Zamora said, adding that more than city buses drive through the mall parking lot. “They’ve got the delivery trucks and all sorts of school buses that go through there.”

Brownsville Metro Back in Business at Sunrise Mall
Today, employees of Brownsville Metro removed the paper notice of renewed service and appeared to survey the area for a replacement service booth.

Shortly, a Brownsville Metro bus appeared to discharge and accept passengers.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Italian Architect Designs Tree Buildings in China to Offset Pollution

From the editor:  We learned in grade school that vegetation, trees, shrubs, greenery, "take in carbon dioxide" and release oxygen, roughly the opposite of what happens with humans and other mammals.

In China, Italian architect Stefano Boeri has been designing buildings that incorporate as many as 2,500 shrubs and 1,000 trees to offset China's terrible air pollution.  Posted below are a few examples:

Mountain Hotel in Guizhou, China

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Brownsville Observer One Year Ago~Mike Hernandez III, VIDA, United Way

Mike Hernandez III, The Inexact Science of Giving Away Money, United Way, VIDA

Bill and Melinda Gates
Giving away money can be a full-time job. Ask Bill and Melinda Gates, ramrods of the Bill Gates Foundation, a charity dispersing millions of dollars globally with a formula they themselves only understand.  Perhaps you recall that in 2013, the foundation gave a modest $4,000 donation toUnited Way of Southern Cameron County.  

With all the legitimate needs in the county, then local chairperson ofUnited Way, Tracy Wickett, used the money for advertising at Tony Martinez' self-glorifying, sort of annual "State of the City" event, where Brownsville's fattest citizens dine at $50 a head or a gazillion per table.  

The fast-talking Wickett explained the head-scratching decision as reported in our blog article three years ago:  "We could have done our own event, but that might have been difficult with $4,000. By piggybacking on the mayor's event, we got more exposure than we could have generated on our own. We were very happy seeing our "All-In" program on the front page of the Brownsville Herald the next day and, of course, the mayor promoting us on stage."

Micheal Albert Hernandez III
Recently, Micheal Albert Hernandez III, formerly of Brownsville, but now residing in Colleyville, Texas near his luxury auto dealership, has received some criticism for his proposed charitable donations to bring Brownsville out of poverty by 2033.  We published the promises and platitudes from his group's OP 10.33 Facebook page in our January 5, 2016 article as well as listing Mike's promised monies for local needs including $2 million for United Brownsville, $1 million for BISD and Guadelupe Middle School.

Our article hinted that BISD's glaring need was not money, but competence.  Their current $550 million annual budget is sufficient to educate Brownsville's young with any kind of reasonable skill set.    As for United Brownsville, does Mike even realize this self-anointed, unelected bunch want to get their paws on development riches at the Port of Brownsville and the FM 550 industrial corridor? The much praised Guadelupe Middle School, likely Mayor Martinez favorite charity, seems to be a worthy recipient.

After our initial article on OP 10.33, we received this email:


If you want the truth behind OP, come to the sourceI am Director of Communications for OP1033. Lets talk.

Roger Lee

After agreeing to "talk," I was simply redirected to the group's Facebook page that I had essentially already quoted in its entirety in my article. So much for communication.

Speaking of charities and testimonials, a young man spoke at last week's Valley Interfaith Candidate Accountability Session, mentioning how VIDA was helping him progress educationally toward a job that would eventually pay him $40,000 a year, but also how lucky he was to live in the "city limits of Brownsville."

The phrasing in the testimonial made sense later in the program when Father Kevin Collins, co-chair of the VIF event, called our attention to the fact that the young man lived within the "city limits of Brownsville," while highlighting one of the group's "yes or no?" demands of local politicians; "Commit to $350,000 annually to extend the VIDA program beyond Brownsville to the rest of Cameron County."

I've no doubt of the honesty or sincerity of the young man testifying on behalf of VIDA, but can't help but notice the engineering of the testimonial, the coaching to coordinate it with further funding opportunities for the group.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rafael Collado Analyzes Sexual History, Sexual Proclivities of Trump Supporter, Troller, Milo Yiannopoulos

Rafael Collado
A bit of perspective, in case you deem it worthy of being published:

Hmmm... Rethinking the Yiannopoulos thing after I have seen both of the videos, I must say reaffirm something I said earlier in another thread. I have no intention of defending Milo Yiannopoulos, but pedophilia and sexual abuse are very morally complex issues, and most people don't understand it, or do not want to. First of all, pedophile is not synonymous with child molester. It's hard to know how many, because it's probably the worst thing ever to admit, but there is a big number of pedophiles who do not abuse children, and they live very conflicted, miserable lives. A lot of them commit suicide, or are severely depressed. Sadly, all indications point out to pedophilia being basically a sexual orientation, and it must be an absolute hell to be a moral person and live with that. So, not all pedophiles abuse children, not all child molesters are pedophiles (they're just sociopaths), and almost 100% of the pedophiles who do abuse children have been victims of abuse themselves. 

Milo Yiannopoulos
This is what Yiannopoulos revealed about himself without knowing it, and I think this gives you a better understanding of the man as a whole. What I see here is a guy who was molested (at 13 and 16, he says), but hasn't really assimilated what happened to him as abuse. By being so open about his views on the issue, without intending to, he revealed that he does not understand that he was a victim of child molestation. I just can't imagine him talking about it so openly if he understood the implications of what happened to him. What I'm seeing is a guy who wrongly internalized his own abuse, and is now being massively confronted with the fact that it is NOT normal, and it is NOT ok. 

Do you understand that we are very publicly watching a man reevaluating his experience, and possibly figuring out for the first time that he was raped, and he is a victim? This debacle has turned into a completely different thing now, and nobody has realized it. 

He insisted on the interview that he was very sexually mature and that it was him doing the chasing, which is probably a coping mechanism, but if he was indeed sexualized at 13, it reveals a big possibility that he might have been abused even earlier in life. 

I am not defending him, and he's clearly wrong about what he said. What I'm saying is that he didn't really know he was wrong, and his mind has been contorted in the gymnastics it needs to do to avoid the fact that he was a victim of pedophiles. My point is that it is far more complex than, "he says sex with teenagers is ok!!" 

We are watching a man who already doesn't like himself much, considering that, as an openly gay man, he still thinks homosexuality is a sin. And this man's own personal narrative that he built for himself is crumbling in front of the whole world. 

It's fucked up. I mean, it's sad, it's confusing, its full understanding is kind of out of the reach of most people. Nobody wins here. I get no satisfaction from watching this, and I can't even allow myself to have compassion for him. 

That's how I see it, at least. I've been well-aware of who he is, and normally I wouldn't waste a second of my life thinking about him, but now I see a deeper thing unraveling here. I thought I'd share..

Rafael Collado

"What Is LNG?" Presentation at Brownsville Public Library, March 1 @6:00PM

This is a presentation about the environmental, social, and potential health impacts of LNG to the communities of the Rio Grande Valley. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trump Aides Cover Up for Idiocies of Our African Style Dictator

The Donald, Playing the Role of a Jack-Legged,
Low Intellect, Ruthless African-Style Dictator
(Photo from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah)
Although might not trace Donald Trump's DNA to the African continent, his first month in the oval office resembles any number of ruthless African dictators who've preyed upon their people, trampling democratic and human rights, arrogantly self-decorating, claiming huge victories for themselves, and, in Trump's case, granting himself labels like "least anti-semitic, least racist,  most presidential" and calling his chaotic regime a "fine-tuned machine."

Unfortunately, for the 45th president, we live in a world where spontaneous, off-the-cuff remarks and tweets are republished, hasty executive orders monitored by the courts for constitutionality and inaccuracies and plain old lies seriously refuted by the news media.

Swedish Diplomat Carl Bildt on Trump:
"What's He Smoking?"
No need to repeat Trump's false claims and braggadocio here about the U.S. murder rate, Sweden, seizing Iraq's oil, N.A.T.O., etc.  Suffice to say, adults within the Trump administration have had to right the ship several times in the first month to keep it from capsizing.


As many know, my days now are occupied with homeschooling grandson Jack.  

The curriculum for the six year old includes the paperback "What is the Alamo?," my attempt to include Texas history, but also "Who Were Lewis and Clark?," Spectrum Science, Grade 3, Grammar, Grade 2, etc.  We're 65% through the grammar workbook in just over a month.

Today's science lesson was "What Makes A Good Scientist?"  The lesson emphasized curiosity, creativity, communication and persistence.

The final question was:  "In your opinion, what is another quality that good scientists need?  Why would they need that quality?"

Jack answered, using a word not in any dictionary:  "Focusation.  If you don't, you will waste time."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Psychological Implications of Dining at the Golden Corral

Typically, a corral is a place to pen or enclose livestock.  Gold is associated with wealth, grandeur, prosperity.  Thus, a Golden Corral is a restaurant where the shareholders are betting on the typical customer consuming less than $7.99 of product, factoring in overhead, real estate, the wholesale cost of food and advertising, while penned up grandly in a corral.

$7.99 reflects the rate paid by a senior(over 55) customer designated as an "Early Bird," coming through the entrance doors between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM weekdays.  While 4:00 PM is not really that "early" for lunch, Golden Corral Franchising Systems, Inc., headquartered in Raleigh, NC, hopes the customer will eat like a bird.

As a middle-aged lady was pacing herself to beat me to the door yesterday, at Brownsville's Golden Corral, I faced the moral dilemma of admitting defeat or leaving Nena to fend for herself over the curb and beating the bitch to the door. Chivalrously, I stayed with Nena, letting the lady get firsts.  Hopefully, there would still be food left on the buffet line.

Buffets used to be called all-you-can-eat places.  I laughed as a kid, when my maternal grandpa, an immigrant from East Flander, Belgium, Adolph Joseph DeMan, filled up at the salad bar in our first experience at an all-you-can-eat place in Portland, Oregon.  But, then, the cost was only $1.00 in those days.

Lance Trenary, CEO of Golden Corral
Nena and I picked a colored plate and dinnerware. I know these plates, blue, green, orange and red. They feel like "Melmac," the plates our parents bought when we were kids.  They were made of hard plastic and wouldn't break for anything. Someone made a fortune on Melmac, hula hoops, frisbees, Davy Crocket coonskin caps and styrofoam.

Once inside the restaurant, I surveyed the competition.  An 80 year old man in a black guayabera shirt walked by with TWO plates of baked chicken.  I don't care if one plate is for his 300 lb wife.  That type of chicken is 30 cents a pound wholesale.


A lady has a full plate of watermelon and papaya squares.  Amateur!

While Nena fools around with her salad bar pickings I'm nervous like a cat.  The fried catfish bin has been empty and I've walked by it twice.  I get another Melmac plate, reaching for the lowest stack, blue, my lucky plate.

Four guys are waiting in front of me for catfish, one with two plates.  A cook with a white chef hat comes out raising two fingers.  Yes, 2 minutes!

The line gets longer behind me, but I'm not worried about them.  Will the four guys ahead of me, one with two gawdamn Melmac plates, leave anything for me?

OMG!  These are gentlemen!  No one takes all the fish, even the one with two plates only has four pieces on each plate.  I put five pieces of fried catfish on my small Melmac plate, thinking mostly of my stroke-victim wife.  I stop at the salad bar and throw on a few lime slices.  Heaven!

Friday, February 17, 2017


From the editor:  As a backsliding agnostic, I don't pray to anyone.  If I did want to talk to a supreme being, it would be a personal conversation, not televised, videotaped or rehearsed.

Long-winded public prayers, similar to Pastor Burke's semi-monthly offerings at the City Commission meetings, or Reverend Manning's public blessing of Boeing's latest 787-10 aircraft at yesterday's Donald Trump campaign rally in South Carolina, turn me off.

An expert on prayer, the historical Jesus of Nazareth, made this observation two thousand years ago as recorded in St. Matthew Chapter 6, Verse 5: 

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Reverend Eric Manning, Pastor of
Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Reverend Manning:  Let us pray:  Father, we come into your presence on this (day) for praise and thanksgiving.

Thank you for your bountiful blessings which you have graciously bestowed upon us on this day.  We thank you, Father, for the employees that are employed here by Boeing of South Carolina.

We thank you for the engineering and the design center, able to design the 787-10.  We thank you for the operation and the final assembly teams who were able to assemble this wonderful aircraft. We thank you, Father, as well for the leadership within Boeing of South Carolina for Joan Robinson Berry and her team, who created such a wonderful environment of teamwork that allowed for the members of this wonderful team to come together and successfully complete the 787-10 ahead of schedule.

We thank you, Father, as well for the families and the sacrifices that they have made and their support that they gave each and every team member who served on this project.  We praise you on this day, God, because we acknowledge that none of this would have ever been possible without your presence.

So, we humbly ask that your presence will continue to keep this Boeing family, not only this day, as they celebrate this major accomplishment, but, also in the days and months and years to come. 

We thank you for all your bountiful blessings and we love you.

In the name of the Lamb of God, we pray, Amen.

God bless you. {Applause}

Sunday, February 12, 2017

This Intermittent Blog and Radical Localized Trumpism

As ludicrous as it seems for an old retiree to reference time management, my schedule has been reorganized with the homeschooling of the oldest of two grandsons.

The day's intended start time is 6 AM, but Nena's more intense anxiety gets her up at 5 AM to turn on the coffee pot, CNN and a few lights. Typically, by 5:30 AM, I've poured two cups of coffee and we're exchanging thoughts on the morning's news.

With the loss of  Nena's ability to read, we've been reading together for a few minutes each morning. We finished Bruce Springsteen's autobiography Born to Run last month and have been focused on Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, Volumes 1 and 2, written in 1793-4. We will share some observations soon from the latter work.

Like many first-time homeschool instructors, I fretted initially about covering enough curriculum. When Jack's dad removed him from BISD, he'd finished the first semester of first grade. Confident that he could handle something more challenging, I ordered second grade grammar, math, spelling, fourth grade geography and science and sixth grade reading workbooks.  We've covered from 25% to 42% of the year's curriculum in three weeks, so we can relax things a bit.

Blogging takes a back seat to this more critical, rewarding endeavor, but we still seem to spit out a few offerings on the weekend.

Radical Localized Trumpism

Portrayal of Trump,  Putin Attachment on SNL
Daily, I'm tempted to write a Trump story. My focal point could be an ill-advised tweet, a lack of understanding displayed of how government works, a slight to a foreign leader, a poorly-thought-out executive order or all of the above.  The opportunities are there, but yesterday's Trump faux pas quickly gets overshadowed by today's gaffe.

Of more interest and mystery are the men and women of Cameron County, those ladies who walk into church or meetingplace with Bible or Book of Mormon in hand, men who lead boy scouts or advocate for veterans.  These are not pussy-grabbers, racists or egomaniacs, but mostly boys and girls of immigrants, whose lives seem incongruous with the man they unhesitatingly support.

How were these locals radicalized?  Did they feel neglected, overlooked?  Were they seduced by the constant blare of right-wing radio or hypnotized by the Tea Party?  

A local BISD teacher, unsure of where I stood, told me last night:  "At least Trump is not a politician.  We've had enough of those.  I just wish he would keep his mouth shut!"

I told him I viewed Trump as the best politician of recent times, but much less capable of actually running the country.  

"He recognized and tapped into a mood in this country better than anyone else," I explained.

I'm not talking about Nazis, white supremacists, the KKK or the alt.right.  They preferred Trump, to be sure, but they don't represent the majority of Trumpites, certainly not the local ones.

It's not difficult to understand why a West Virginian, a former coal miner, would have supported Trump.  After all, Hillary Clinton stupidly made it plain she approved of closing the coal mines, while Trump promised to see to it that more coal was mined than ever if he was elected.

32.1% of Cameron County voters selected Donald J. Trump for President.  


Friday, February 10, 2017

Sossi May Lose $60,000 Part-Time GBIC Gig

City Attorney Mark Sossi
(Caricature by Nena)
When I told Nena I would be using her caricature of Mark Sossi for today's story, she said:  "Who's Sossi?"  

Many of us, without the debilitation of three strokes and a seizure episode and the associated memory loss, wish we could forget the extraordinarily unethical city attorney, Mark Sossi.

Sossi, who came to Brownsville with a well-deserved bad reputation, after stealing $167, 363 from a previous employer, pocketing $20,711.63 earmarked for employee unemployment benefits, then, once in Brownsville, encountered two malpractice lawsuits, huge liens from the I.R.S., and alleged involvement in a scam to defraud Brownsville businessmen, the so-called "Bannergate."

All the while the City Attorney was under contract with the City of Brownsville for legal services at the rate of $10,000 per month or $120,000 per year and with a city board dispersing tax dollars for economic development, the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, at the rate of $5,000 per month or $60,000 per year.

Recently, the City Commission, with their heads totally in the sand over Sossi's lack of ethics, rewarded him by making him a full-fledged city employee with benefits.

A motion was made by Rick Longoria, seconded by Cesar de Leon and unanimously approved by the City Commission to make Mark Sossi a city employee with full benefits.  This foolish action, not in the city's best interests, may have been prompted by Sossi's recent fathering of a child with a woman he recently met in a strip club.  The benevolent city commissioners may have had the interests of the child in mind, not so much protecting the city from the dangers of incompetent, unethical legal advice.

Sossi's good fortune in finally being made a full-fledged city employee despite his many ethical transgressions may be tempered by his likely loss of the contract to be GBIC's legal eagle.

Agenda item #8 for the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation's meeting schedule for 2/16/17 is all about replacing Sossi in his $5,000 per month, $60,000 per year gig with the GBIC. The agenda item reads: 

8. Discussion and action to grant the Interim Executive Director authority to solicit Requests for Proposal and curriculum vitae for legal services to the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation.

As a GBIC board member stated:  

"Well, I think he might be instructing us to make changes that are not proper.  He green lights things that shouldn't be done, and even worse- they are his suggestions.  He thinks he's a board member himself."

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Why Trump's Proposed Border Wall Is A Dumb Idea!

With Americans spending over $100,000,000,000 annually on illegal drugs, the drug cartels of Mexico will find a way to get past any wall, hermetic seal, force field or yellow police tape to share in that profit.  Human smugglers and to a lesser extent, humans, wanting a better life, will also find a way, whether oceanic, through the sky or underneath any physical wall or barrier.

Since the 90's U.S. authorities have discovered at least 181 tunnels under the border or border wall, some with electricity, even track rails.  In 2010 a sophisticated tunnel was discovering between a house in Tijuana, Mexico and two warehouses in San Diego, California.

The proposed Trump border wall, planned for the 1,989 mile U.S./Mexico border, across desert, mountains and native american sovereign nations, is a 50's style solution for a 2017 problem. Litigation alone, from the Tohono O’Odham Nation, whose reservation measures 2.8 million acres in southern Arizona and northern Mexico, could take years.  

Funding the wall, said to cost $12 to $15 billion, will also be problematic.
Some of the Recent 181 Tunnels Under Current Border Wall

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Donald, Why Isn't Saudi Arabia Included in the Muslim Ban?

From the editor:  15 of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia.  Including 9/11 over 78% of foreign-born terrorists have come from Saudi Arabia and are responsible for 2,369 deaths in the U.S.  None of those deaths came from individuals coming to the U.S. from ANY of the countries included in the Trump ban; Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Why has Trump been so soft on Saudi Arabia, a country that, BY LAW, demands that all its citizens be Muslims? Could it be because of his extensive business interests there?
Donald Trump, Hussain Sajwani, Ivanka Trump

Rafael Collado's Response to Tad Hasse

Rafael Collado

Hello, Mr. Hasse.
I don't think we have been officially
introduced. My name is Rafael Collado, professional musician. It just felt a bit abrupt to see you addressing me and responding to my views without so much of an introduction. Too drastic. 

I'm glad to tell you that I'm generally impervious to ad hominem from people who know nothing about me. I mean, it was definitely rude, but I'm honestly more offended by your complete obliteration of the English language, and also that you didn't have the courtesy of structuring your thoughts in an organized manner. It was a bit labor-intensive to decipher what you tried to say. 

You utilized your first 68 words to stitch together an incredibly tedious attack on my character before you offered your point, which is hardly a point. I'm going to go ahead and admit I have no idea what you tried to say, but I'm assuming you're objecting to what you quoted above it. If that's the case, let me put forward some useful information. This is the number of Republicans who openly opposed Donald Trump:

 - 2 former Presidents, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush - 9 current Governors - 10 current Senators - 32 current U.S. Representatives - 7 current State Legislators - 25 former National Security officials - 16 former Defense Department officials - 22 former federal cabinet-level officials 

There's a lot more, but these are the most relevant. Notable mention: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who openly expressed concern, short of flat-out opposition, and only reluctantly jumped on board when there was literally no other option. So, as I said, he ascended little by little, supported almost exclusively by a popular movement that the world witnessed grow from a couple of skinheads into a massive and legitimately grassroots conglomerate of people. The point I was trying to make is that Trump's rise didn't need the support of the Republican Party, and that Sanders' movement was basically the Leftist equivalent of this, making him the ideal candidate to contend Trump, yet the Democratic Party chose a counterintuitive route. 

Moving on, I admire the way you managed to reframe blatant lies as silly accidents by calling them "whoppers." I call them lies. Most people also identified them as lies, some of them serious. But I took particular notice of a point I've heard a couple of times before: "The man who is now President (get used to it) did not express contempt for minorities. He expressed anger at illegal aliens." That's what you said, Mr. Hasse. Now here is what Trump said in his announcement speech: 

"They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." 

He's presumably speaking about undocumented immigrants, or as you kindly call them, "illegal aliens." It's kind of weird to say that when he says they're rapists he's talking exclusively about "illegal aliens." So, you mean that the moment they get naturalized they are magically not rapists anymore? Are only Mexicans with visas not rapists? What you're saying sort of implies that your immigration status determines if you're a rapist/criminal/drug-dealer or not. But the real problem is that if we run with it and accept that he is only talking about illegals, that statement is still non-factual, which is why I originally said, and I quote: "Multiple studies have shown that the crime rate of immigrants is lower than that of non-immigrant citizens in most communities. Also, patterns reflected in incarceration rates show that immigrants, including Mexican immigrants, are less likely to commit crimes and be incarcerated than the native-born."

Next. There is absolutely no evidence that the DP paid people to disrupt Trump's rallies. Zero proof, and if you bring some, it will be fake news. But first, what saying that does is disqualify the angst of the black community, as if it didn't exist. It does. And second, you're just not perspicacious enough to realize that even if that were true, it still does not justify Trump encouraging his supporters to assault them, and them doing it! 

"Black people?," you say, and then name drop two blacks who like Trump. I'm sure those guys love him, but that's anecdotal, and it means next to nothing. Here's a better representation of reality: Donald Trump got only 8% of the black vote, or in other words, 92% of blacks did not vote for him. 

Then you take issue with me calling the Muslim ban disruptive and unconstitutional (funny you didn't refute that it's also cruel). "Disruptive to who [sic]?" Well, I must have imagined a multitude of people stranded in airports everywhere because they weren't being allowed to enter their country of residence. The young woman who originally organized today's rally felt compelled to do so through her heartbreak over the new law impeding the migration of her Iranian grandparents to the US to watch her grow up. I would call that disruptive. Also cruel, but you didn't object to that. I also called it unconstitutional, which you called a "straight up, bald faced [sic]" lie. Let me introduce you to a little text I like to call, "The First Amendment to the United States Constitution." I like to call it that because, well, that's what it's called. In it, there is a section relevant to our discussion: "The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech..." I would call Trump's executive order unconstitutional. If you are about to say that he banned countries, not religions, then I'd like to show you a glimpse of the inner mechanics of the law, courtesy of Trump's advisor, Rudolph Giuliani. From Politico: "Interviewed on Fox News on January 28, Giuliani explained how the administration’s immigration policy morphed from one that was obviously unconstitutional to one that is more subtly so. Host Jeanine Pirro asked, “Does the ban have anything to do with religion?” In response, Giuliani said, “When [Trump] first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’” “It,” in this case, of course, is a ban on Muslims." So, I would qualify my claims of unconstitutionality as veridic. 

Next you object, in an extremely confusing and poorly redacted paragraph, to my assertion that Saudi Arabia is by far the biggest financier of extremist groups, and yet, curiously, it is not included in the band. I forgot to mention that Donald Trump has current business interests there, but I find it more relevant that no action has been taken there even before this. You imply in an abortion of a sentence, that they bankroll Hilary Clinton. I would like to see proof of that. In the same paragraph you imply Obama is a Muslim, of which there exists no proof or even skightbindication. In fact, Obama killed more Muslims abroad than George W. Bush did, which leads me to a crucial point: 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11, which happened under Bush, came from Saudi Arabia, yet he took no action against them, deciding instead to destabilize Iraq. Another fun fact: "A CATO Institute survey found that Saudi Arabians formed the vast majority (78%) of foreign-born terrorists, responsible for 2,369 deaths in the US, whereas the countries covered by Trump’s orders provided non at all." 

Woof, this is tedious, but we're almost done here. When I mentioned what I believe is a crisis regarding the police use of excessive force, a subject fecund enough for a book, you said it was a continuation of Obama's war on police. I would like to know what this war consisted of, and I'd like to mention that police deaths on duty hit record lows during his administration. I'm not saying there is a correlation, but it is a fact. 

As far as your opinion on nationalism, which is entirely subjective, you obviously have a right to feel whatever level of attachment to your country, or any country. I'd like to cite good old Eugene V. Debs: "I have no country to fight for, my country is earth; I'm a citizen of the world." 

Lastly, you offer this, regarding my thoughts on direct action: "what more than whining is to be accomplished by your rally? It is more of Divider in Chief’s playbook that America rejected." 

No, Tad. No. I love the United States of America with all of my heart. This does not inherently mean that I align with whatever its government decides to do. I love THE PEOPLE of the USA, for their historical ability to time and time again band together and reclaim the street as a democratic space, and demand what is theirs, such as civil rights, the women's suffrage, child labor laws, minimum wage, etc. The American people's insistence on collectively daring to dissent with the government, which is the biggest form of patriotism, their impetus to speak truth to power, to get together and some times overcome the odds in favor of one another, or to go down trying. 

This should put a definitive end to a discussion between you and me. I will not respond to anything else from you. I hope you appreciate the fact that I chose not to respond in the cantankerous tone that you used to address me. I'm a musician, so I'm partial, like most of us, to The Beatles and Lennon, who were always champions of the American people's ability to resist. But this time I will leave you with something more serious, in the words of Professor Howard Zinn, whose writings have restructured my personal philosophy, and changed my life.

“If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, and occasionally to win. I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past’s fugitive moments of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare.” — Howard Zinn 

Thanks for reading. 

Rafael Collado.

Sent from Messenger

Friday, February 3, 2017

Rafael Collado Gets Equal Time Explaining Anti-Trump Protest

From the editor:  Rafael Collado inboxed this article to my Facebook page with the following note:

"Hi, Mr. Barton. 

I wrote the piece to which Hasse responded. I present it to you in case you want to publish it."

Rafael Collado
Why we protest. 

We should have seen it coming. I did, but I understand people's skepticism when I say so. The truth is that it seemed so unlikely because his behavior was so out of the ordinary, so outrageous, that most people simply assumed it wasn't going to happen. 

But it did. 

I knew it was possible beforehand because a quick analysis of the sentiments of the electorate revealed a deep distrust and discontent with the status quo, for various reasons, varying by ethnicity, class, and level of education. That, to me, explained his, at the time, increasing viability. He wasn't in line with the party, which tried to stop him, which means that his rise was solely based on popular, grassroots support. The opposing party had the diametric antithesis of that in the movement that propelled Bernie Sanders, but chose to throw all of their support on Clinton's campaign, which is characteristically status quo, and had no grassroots support. I thought, as it happened, that it was a big mistake. The second mistake was Clinton's over reliance on her base, openly alienating and generalizing a sector of the working class. I still thought a Clinton win was more plausible, but not guaranteed by any means. And then it happened. The earth rumbled with the jaws of humanity hitting the floor. Donald Trump, of The Apprentice, of the countless lawsuits for fraudulent business behavior, of the accusations of racial discrimination in his properties, of the open letter calling for the execution of a group of African American teens who were later acquitted after DNA tests proved them innocent. His signature hairstyle took a backseat to the constant and blatant falsehoods, his clear contempt for minorities, the goading of his supporters into violently assailing black people at his rallies, even those who were there to support him, and of course, the theme of his coming out party: his insulting, inhumane, and factless characterization of Mexican immigrants and Mexican culture. Of Muslim immigrants and their cultures. 

He took office, and put together a nightmarish cabinet comprised of notorious white supremacists, profoundly ignorant religious fanatics, and compassionless Capitalists. The richest and least educated cabinet in history. While all the ingredients of a class war, a race war, and a possible international war were there, some, including me, hoped for a minute that it was only campaign talk and once in office he would come to his senses. Sadly, he meant every single word he said (except for his promise to kick business interests out of government), and in just 10 days he has put the world upside down. Going through with his insane promise of trying to force Mexico to pay for an extremely expensive border wall, which has been reasoned more on unfounded prejudices than on facts, an issue which has predictably put Mexican-American relations in crisis, culminating so far in Trump threatening the sovereignty of Mexico with military action. 

Also, and vastly more disruptive, cruel, and unconstitutional, he has restricted entrance to the country from people of 7 specific countries, including Syria, which is going through a holocaust where precious, beautiful children have seen and suffered unimaginable horrors. This ban is extended to people who already have green cards or permanent residentship status, who have lived and worked legally in the States for years.

The reasoning behind this ban, which has immediately turned into a crises of multiple natures, is allegedly protecting the US from Islamic terrorism. This creates quite a bit of cognitive dissonance for me, knowing that the biggest bankroller of terrorist groups is Saudi Arabia, which is NOT included on the list, and curiously, has not faced any type of intervention by previous administrations. There are private business relationships that are not to be disrupted between the two countries, even if it means overlooking the massive quantity of extremism it produces. 

So I stand here today in support of the Muslim families I have been lucky enough to know. These people are some of the most educated, generous, and sophisticated people I know, more so than the average American. They don't have a single violent bone in their bodies. I protest the discrimination against them and their beautiful culture, in respect for their historical contributions to philosophy, arts, and science. I am here to show, to whomever is here to witness, that they are not alone, and that I will protect their dignity and their rights as long as I am able. Here are some facts: A study published in 2015 found that people in America are seven times as likely to be killed by a Right-Wing extremist than a Muslim attacker. Despite this, in an abhorrent show of white supremacy, the Trump administration wants a federal counter-terrorism program to stop focusing on violent white supremacists and any other extremist groups not comprised of Muslims. Another disturbing fact: the American police murders an average of 1,200 American citizens a year. If Trump had the safety of its citizens as a priority, he would be focusing on these more immediate threats. The fact that he is not, reveals that these executive orders are purely based on xenophobia, nationalism, and racism. 

I am also here to stand for and defend Mexican culture, so, so rich and colorful, and generous, and multifaceted. I am here to point out that a project that will most likely cost billions of dollars to tax payers is based on prejudice and not facts. And I mean objetive, material facts; not "alternative" facts. El Paso and Las Cruces, bordering with a notoriously violent Mexican city, Ciudad Juarez, actually have some of the very lowest crime rates in the US. Multiple studies have shown that the crime rate of immigrants is lower than that of non-immigrant citizens in most communities. More surprisingly, more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than are arriving, and net migration from Mexico has fallen to zero. Aso, patterns reflected in incarceration rates show that immigrants, including Mexican immigrants, are less likely to commit crimes and be incarcerated than the native-born. They pay billions in taxes, and do not have access to benefits. American taxpayers are about to get billions of dollars stolen from them to fund a completely unnecessary project, based on no objective facts. It's not a scholarly decision, it's just racism. 

Lastly, I am here to make a case for the underrated and forgotten tradition of direct action, such as strikes, boycotts, and protests. Democracy is not limited to electoral politics. In fact the biggest social advancements have been achieved by acts of civil disobedience, not through the ballot box. Taking to the streets is also democracy, even more so than voting is. 

This is why I'm here. 

This is why I protest. 

"I hope some day you'll join us, and the world will be as one." 

Rafael Collado

Update On Our Venture Into Homeschooling

Grandpa's Private Homeschool
Class of One
"He just seems so happy now!" said musician, photographer, known locally by the nom de plume Diego Lee Rot, or as grandson Jack calls him, "Dad."

It's actually been two weeks since "Diego" took Nena and I up on our longstanding offer to homeschool our grandson, and, honestly, we were caught flat-footed, with no time to actually prepare or order curriculum.

I ordered second grade textbooks for the first grader from Amazon, but I've since added fourth grade science and social studies and a sixth grade reader.  

YouTube supplements everything as we all know.

Socialization?  We look for opportunities and are considering some things.

Yes, some semantics have changed.  Declarative sentences are now "telling" sentences. Imperative sentences are "command" sentences.  Interrogative sentences are simply "question" sentences and exclamatory sentences are referred to as "exclamation" sentences.

Something called a "fact family" is a group of interchangeable numbers in addition and subtraction.

"Word math" involves adding and subtracting letters and picture names to make words.  Neither Jack nor his grandpa could figure out the answer to problem 1 on page 17, so I still gave Jack 100% for the page.

Riding a Razor scooter and swinging currently constitutes physical education, but we will add swimming soon.

Making pizza crust, planting and nurturing vegetable seeds, painting, martial arts instruction, all critical skills, will be included at some point.

Yes, the blog suffers, is not as relevant or topical, but, who cares?  


Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo