Saturday, May 26, 2007

the highway scribe is....

Here in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, until June 3.

Friday, May 25, 2007

At Kiko's House

Apropos of the review below on Deepa's immigration horror story, Kiko's House has done a piece on one of the missing soldiers captured in the ambush a week ago. He, too, was one of the brown and southern hordes Americans are so bent on ridding the nation of.

Shaun Mullen has done yeoman's work in his painful detailing of the "ambush" episode, going beyond anything we've seen, and demonstrating once more the importance of good blogging to our national debate.

Kiko's House.

Book Report: "Targeted" by Deepa Fernandes

Being an immigrant sucks.

"Targeted: Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration"by Deepa Fernandes makes that painfully clear.

If you think what’s happening at Guantánamo is bad, read this tome to find out how Mexicans, Guatemalans, Haitians and any other southerly, brown people are treated when apprehended by the beefed-up forces of order not only along the border, but down at the corner.

Fernandes, producer of WBAI New York’s morning show “Wake-Up Call,” has pieced together a rather staggering compilation of evidence asserting that immigrants have been targeted for a kind of “cleansing” from the national topography.

“Immigrants have been criminalized,” she writes, “and there is a rush to incarcerate and deport them.”

Worse, more insidiously, billions of dollars are being made in the immigration-industrial complex so deftly detailed by the author. Fernandes does a wicked job of piecing together how the Department of Homeland Security, boosted the Republican tropism for “privatization,” was essentially concocted and directed with the connivance of the same corporate forces that would end up benefitting from the enormous, post-9/11 budgets appropriated for "fighting terrorism."

She makes plenty clear, for those not astute enough to notice, that after 9/11 “terrorism” somehow became interchangeable with “immigration,” especially if the influx came from south of the border.

“Immigrants are currently the fastest growing segment of the prison population in the U.S. today,” Fernandes points out.

And if you don’t fit one of the increasingly narrow definitions of a person with the right to be here, you cease to be a person.

“Most people,” Fernandes writes, “probably do not think too much about differences between citizens and noncitizens, yet day by day, the gulf between these two groups grows. it is a divide that has been quietly and systematically engineered. Two systems of justice, two systems of social services, two economies.

It’s the two systems of justice that are most unnerving to read about. These people have no rights at all. Being guilty of nothing lands an immigrant in a newfangled holding complex paid for with your tax dollars and there is nothing to compel release or resolution of a case, even where the person really has no business being in there.

No habeas corpus, no nothing.

All the U.S.-born children, family connections, tax dollars paid-in, and social goods delivered will not save a detainee given the laws that effectively remove any need for a judge; so little discretion is left to them in deportation cases.

If they’ve committed a crime, and by crime that can be smoking a joint on the front stairs with some other revelers, they can forget about it. They’re gone.

And if that means going back to Haiti and jail for a little torture and disease contraction... so be it.

Seeking asylum from persecution? Take a seat in hell for a while...or longer. Fernandes' treatment of the subject essentially suggests that this country no longer represents a refuge for thus threatened with persecution or death at the hands of their home government.

“Targeted” is most powerful when Fernandes, a reporter who has logged thousands of miles between the continents and global hotspots, goes one-on-one, humanizing her subjects.

And this is necessary because, from the start, they don’t belong here and know it. Some have committed crimes and invited the natural reaction that they “go back where they came from.”

But a good writer and reporter knows that, were things quite so black and white, we wouldn’t need good writers and reporters.

There are numerous and worthwhile stories of tragedy-by-law in “Targeted,” as an example, it is worth highlighting the plight of a Palestinian who worked at WBAI with the author.

He got pulled into the maws of the immigration black hole, fought unholy battles to gain release, suffered long periods of imprisonment, and finally died of heart attack upon a release that was as much deserved as his detention was not.

The tale of Haitian who grew up in the United States, served in Iraq, and then came home to get imprisoned for a minor crime committed years before, takes the cake for chutzpah and should scare anybody where the matter of their own possible detention is concerned, citizen or not.

It is unconscionable that such things like this go in the United States of America today.

And while the suits shuffle the floors of Congress trying to figure out who can out-tough whom on immigration or come up with the cheapest and least inconvenient source of labor for corporate America, it’s important to remember that these are human beings and this is a democracy.

Amidst all the unkindness surrounding the immigration debate at present, Fernandes reminds us:

“While it is true that many immigrants come to the U.S. for economic reasons, they also come here for the promises of democracy and freedom that are sold to the world as American ideals. For many immigrants these are not abstract principles or commodities to be bought, sold or imposed. Democracy and freedom are absolutely worth fighting for.”

With everything immigrants contribute to our lives, that reminder may be their greatest gift of all.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Considering John Edwards

The excitement generated by the “First Woman - First Black” president mano-a-mano between senators Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) tends to obscure the fact John Edwards may very well be the Democratic Party’s nominee for the top job by Summer 2008.

It is to this nation’s, the mass media’s, and even the Republican Party’s credit the facts of their gender in one case, and race in the other, have not served to immediately discredit the efforts of Clinton and Obama.

That said, it remains highly unlikely a woman or black man can be elected president. Just look at the protection already afforded Obama thanks to the anonymous and violent vituperation directed at him.

Running for president is a tough game so that race and gender are not the only problems confronting the aforementioned campaigns. A recent comparision of events in Ohio by "The Economist" had Obama generating a lot of excitment, but showing signs of inexperience with organization. Clinton on the other hand, had a well-scripted and not very compelling affair stuffed with Dem bigwigs.

When you think about winning presidencies, you think about the Republican Party and you didn’t see any black people or women in their debate last week before the fair and balanced machinery of Fox News.

You saw a big ‘ol country club gathering of gray-haired white guys trying to out-tough one another.

Which is what brings us back to Edwards (almost).

The great wild card hanging over the Democratic Party nominating process remains Al Gore. The former vice president just launched a new book this week and if you hit one of yer basic mega-chain stores like Barnes and Noble on Tuesday, you found that book, reduced price sticker and all, staring straight at you upon entering.

the scribe knows this because he found the purchase of “The Assault on Reason,” too easy to resist and got a copy.

Edwards also released a book on poverty this week that sounds good and important, but Gore would have to be given the nod in terms of whose tome made the bigger splash.

For now, however, Gore’s not running, which means the scribe probably should have bought Edward’s work instead.

Last night, the scribe and his brother sifted through the ashes of the war funding debacle and what it meant for the Democrats.

And that was a morose discussion.

But we did what Democrats do, MovedOn, and finally concluded that that our support currently lies with the only white guy within spitting distance of things presidential on the Donkey side and that’s, again, John Edwards.

Yes, Edwards remains the undisputed king of the southern trial lawyers, and we don’t mean that in a positive way.

His accent and demeanor bear all the marks of a zillion guys throughout the courthouses of Dixie shucking along, getting their money from wherever, talking out the side of their mouths and winking at the judge.

It’s no wonder Edwards spends $600 on a haircut as a way of separating himself from the pack of scoundrels Republicans revel in associating him with.

He’s trying to make his legal brethren all look like the poor man’s John Edwards.

Later, as it turned out, Edwards popped up on Tavis Smiley’s PBS chatfest. He had just given a very worthwhile and much-needed speech criticizing Geo. w. Bsh’s use of the “WAR ON TERROR” lexicon as a cudgel in every corner of the American political universe.

One can only hope some people were listening; although a cursory review of the morning papers was not promising.

And while Edwards still has a way to go before leaving a true residue on the overtaxed minds of the American people, credit is due for his long slog across these United States in the wake of the 2004 election defeat, and for the way he has insisted upon his own relevance and bookmarked a place in the presidential sweepstakes.

As the scribe’s brother noted, Edwards' presentation goes beyond the biographical emphasis of Obama’s campaign, and the cautious professional-pol arc projected by Sen. Clinton's. He’s been thinking about most current issue and has a policy suggestion for most of them.

That’s important once you get in there and the customary shit rain begins to besiege your administration.

The former senator’s answers to Smiley's questions were all on the money and beautifully expressed.

He said the Democrats in Congress had flubbed the war funding debate and missed an opportunity to end the war through that body’s power of the purse.

highwayscribery proposed this approach a few weeks ago when the thing was still raging.

(“The president is endangering the troops by keeping them in the field now that the American people have decided to end the war.”)

But as the introduction to Gore’s book observes, the political conversation in this country flows one way: from the big boys down to us small fries, but not the other way.

When Smiley observed the fact “poverty is off the table” as an issue in American politics, Edwards said, “That’s because there has been no leadership on the question,” which is true and he promised there would be upon his election.

Oh hope!

Edwards pointed out that New Orleans is a “national embarrassment” and reminded viewers that he’d launched his campaign from that beleaguered and once beautiful city’s Lower Ninth Ward to make an important point.

highwayscribery thinks that is the kind of discussion truly needed in America; that we cannot not allow Rudy Giuliani and his politics of defeat to turn the upcoming electoral contest into a battle about who can be tougher on terrorism.

There are other things, other threats to our way of life, that Americans will more likely face in their day-to-day battle with the smaller world than a bomb on Main Street.

John Edwards gets that.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Three More

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Stockton Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Victor M. Fontanilla of Stockton , CA :

"Maria and I, along with all Californians, are saddened by the loss of Private First Class Fontanilla. Victor joins a proud legacy of heroes who fought valiantly for their country and gave their lives to preserve liberty. We are forever indebted to him and send our condolences to his family and friends."

Fontanilla, 23, died May 17 as a result of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Iskandariya , Iraq . He was assigned to the 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson , Alaska .

In honor of Pfc. Fontanilla, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Alpaugh Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Staff Sgt. Christopher Moore, of Alpaugh , CA :

"There is no higher calling than to fight for one's country in the battle for freedom. Maria and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of Staff Sergeant Moore. Christopher's great courage and profound allegiance to a higher calling warrant the highest appreciation and admiration of all Californians."

Moore , 28, died May 19 as a result of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad , Iraq . He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood , Texas .

In honor of Staff Sgt. Moore, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Torrance Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr. of Torrance , CA .

"California has lost a great American hero. Maria and I have the greatest admiration for the men and women of our armed forces as they put their lives on the line to defend democracy and freedom. Private First Class Anzack, who died in the defense of freedom, deserves our undying gratitude, our respect and our thoughts and prayers. We will remain forever indebted to Joseph for his extraordinary dedication and the sacrifice he made for our country."

Anzack, 20, was initially reported as duty status whereabouts unknown on May 12 when his patrol received small arms fire and explosives and his body was found in Al Taqa, Iraq on May 23. He was assigned to D Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum , New York .

In honor of Pfc. Anzack, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

War and Oil

It was not a good day for the Democratic majority nor the party generally speaking.

Beguiled by the veto paradigm set forth by the White House early in the war-funding debate, the leadership in the Senate has decided to give the president his money, with no withdrawal deadline attached.

We argued long ago that Democrats could not win the funding debate without making it clear their purpose was to END THE WAR. Otherwise, we said, they would have not only been open to charges of abandoning the troops in the field, but guilty of them as well.

By not funding the war, the Democrats should have made clear the president's veto was superfluous because the WAR WAS OVER, but they never got on top of the argument and now have disappointed activists, soldiers and the American people in their ability to play politics on a moral issue to which there is no proper and contrary response.

Nuff said.

Meanwhile, is circulating a petition calling on Congress to draft legislation making price-gouging at the gas pumps a federal crime.

Anarcho-syndical in nature, highwayscribery is not too big on the proliferation of further federal crimes; there are enough already to generate the largest prison population in the world, but sometimes we support MoveOn just because.

They claim to have received an uncommonly large and quick response to their request and so we're heeding their request to do the "liberal blog" thing and ask you to sign the thing.

Click here. and keep heart.

Here's remembering you Sargent Packer:

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Clovis Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Steven M. Packer of Clovis , CA :

"Today, California mourns the tragic loss of Sergeant Packer. Steven's courageous devotion in serving our country is a reminder that our lives and liberties are well-protected by the men and women of our nation's armed forces. Maria and I wish to express our sincere condolences to his family and friends and we will pray for their comfort during this difficult time."

Sgt. Packer, 23, died May 17 as a result of wounds suffered when his dismounted patrol encountered an improvised explosive device in Rushdi Mullah, Iraq . He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum , N.Y.

In honor of Sgt. Packer, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The New Intellectualism

Monday morning warm-up piece from the scribe as he works into a rhythm.

The “New York Times Magazine” ran a story on Al Gore. We read it online and are not sure it wasn’t actually the cover piece. The fancy and important woodcut of Gore that came with it screams cover.

Or maybe not.

The Gore Zeitgeist having taken solid hold in the culture, the former veep is now able to garner what his prior incarnation as prize-pony-prep-boy-gone-gov never could - a flattering article in the mainstream media.

The piece by James Traub - who has one of those famous media-guy names - is entitled “Al Gore has big plans,” and does not appear under a “politics” subhead, rather “Architecture.”

It has a nice dissection of Gore’s post-election state of mind and the process by which “An Inconvenient Truth,” became what it became.

The piece says what it has become safe to say, nice things such as, “Al Gore has attained what yo can only call prophetic status; and he has done so by acting as he could not, or would not as a candidate - saying precisely what he believes and saying it with clarity, passion, intellectual mastery and even, sometimes wit.”

Super status really, a new narrative gnashing the flaws of the old Gore with the transforming adjustments of the new one and this is what an Oscar will do for you.

It’s tough to stare down the Gold Statue, the influence of which far outstrips that possessed by those that choose who gets it.

It is a gilding by glamour that can make a whole cultural apparatus turn on a dime, hailing what was once a stuffed shirt as “Goracle.”

Gore gets whacked by the establishment, gets art, and new respect from the establishment.

It’s too rich. The article’s bet Gore’s not running for president is rooted in the fact that Al is simply too cool.

“Given his druthers, he’d really rather talk about complexity,” Traub writes.

Welcome to the new intellectualism.

The article fleshes out the former veep’s latest rounds; now that they are retroactively newsworthy. There is a tendency to check back on the life of Gore after six years in the hinterlands to find out he assumed a natural mantle as laureled leader of the enviro-bohemian cadres.

But the article suggests that, like the rest of us, Gore had to sink pretty low before he began his stratospheric rise and that a “slide show” was not the first thing he had on his mind.

the scribe read a biography by John Keane of former Yugoslavian President Vaclav Havel. The young scribe adored Havel and his jump from the literary avant garde to the height of power during the Velvet Revolution.

With Havel having been tortured and jailed for years by the fleeing powers, the scribe just assumed he ascended the steps of power borne upward by the blessings of a thankful multitude.

Keane dissects the fight Havel had to launch, makes clear he was not selfless and that he had to desire power to obtain it.

And this article has plenty of that, with Gore again flailing with bureaucratic dunderheads in the environmental movement before going it alone and making the fortuitous friend in Hollywood.

It’s crazy, but even a former vice-president can pursue that wacky, distored, but self-evident American dream.

Either they’ve made your movie or they haven’t.

Al Gore is appearing with Harry Shearer, Presented by Writers Bloc, at the Wilshire Theater, across the street, but the highway scribe could not get tickets.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Private Farrar and Specialist Klasno

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Redlands Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. William A. Farrar Jr., of Redlands , CA :

"In selfless service to our nation, Private First Class Farrar courageously undertook his sense of duty and responsibility. Maria and I join Californians in mourning William's loss. We send our deepest sympathies to his loved ones during this painful time and pray for their solace."

Farrar, 20, died May 11 as a result of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Al Iskandariyah, Iraq . Farrar was assigned to the 127th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, Darmstadt , Germany .

In honor of Pfc. Farrar, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Riverside Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Rhys W. Klasno of Riverside , CA :

"The news of Specialist Klasno's death weighs heavy on the hearts of all Californians. Specialist Klasno served with dedication and valor, making the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Maria and I send our heartfelt condolences to Rhys' family, friends and fellow soldiers as they mourn the loss of a brave individual."

Klasno, 20, died May 13 as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Haditha , Iraq . He was assigned to the California National Guard's 1114th Transportation Company, Bakersfield , CA .

In honor of Spc. Klasno, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

"The Liquid Life" (installment twenty-six)


One Tuesday afternoon, after reading so many of her poems, I fell barely asleep and swam in beautiful half-dreams of Elendele.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and when I answered it was her. She was crying and I was groggy and confused briefly about where the dreaming ceased and reality became what it claimed. As I had learned through the church burning, in her world, the two frequently commingled.

Intoxicating little bitch. She’d streaked a mess on her face. Tears mixed in with street dirt unable to resist clutching her along the way home.

“This city is choking on its own garbage, Dominique,” she moaned her preliminary motion.

After time the sobs slowed. It was then I learned that her big break in film had been a bust, a tease.

It had all gone smoothly until the sex scene, which they had saved shooting for last. The leading man was a macho named Johnny Joya and the things he called her for days had added up in her registry of the mind. By the end of the shoot she’d had enough and refused to do the scene with “that pig.”

The director, a Syrian named Joe, who shot films on flimsy $3 million budgets and empty promises of pink cocaine, said then that he had chosen her for her ass and not her acting. If she wouldn’t display, he wouldn’t pay the $3,000 promised for the privileged view.

“I can’t help it!” she pleaded me. “Every man I meet falls in love with my ass.” She was devastated over this fact.

“So I joined the ranks of all the artists of history,” went her rendition, of how she walked the plank to a back room of the apartment secured for the shoot, biting her bullet and vowing never to work a non-union film again. In the room were the cameraman, assistant camera, boom, director, sound, gaffer, and still other crew members gathered anxiously before Elendele, whose lean silhouette had inflamed them all one evening when, drunk on Tio Pepe, she’d danced flamenco atop the caterer’s table.

She had to take her bra off while Joya kept his boxers on beneath the sheets. “It just wasn’t just,” she was righteous to me, three times over.

Johnny Joya relished pulling her panties tight between her and the director ordered Elendele to offer her bottom more fully to the camera, proclaiming again and again that, “You’re not an actress until you’ve graduated to your panties and bra.”

I considered her bucketful of bitters before me. She will never graduate if those are the rules, I thought, and so she is going nowhere in this game. I felt sorry for Elendele and her Catholic limitations for the first time ever. What would she do? I grew desperate at the world for breaking her; desperate at the suddenness of its soul-crunching machinations.

I stroked at her hair and rubbed salt from the tears into her skin. “Look at this sad pretty baby…So sad,” I said truly, “so sad.”

But she did not hear me and her water eyes did not see mine. They looked inward for answers from the vast half-dream world there – an alluring place she frequented, and for which maps have yet to be drawn.

Friday, May 18, 2007

One Gone and Gonzo Going

It took a crowbar, but Paul Wolfowitz is gone.

And in spite of his recent smirky confidence and solid belief in the divine right bestowed by God upon Geo. w. Bsh, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is up next.

The Wolfowitz drama got big play given the fact it involved the World Bank, which nobody cares about.

Make no mistake, l’affaire Wolfowitz was not about the World Bank anymore than l’affaire Gonzales has to do with the American legal community and the thug who sits atop it.

This is about an end to “The Bush Way,” and journalists who lacked the backbone or executive support for taking on this bunch, say, four years ago, are now beating the drums of departure a full 20 months before the second term that never truly started is over.

Steven Weisman of the “New York Times,” profiles Wolfowitz during tandem tenures at the Department of Defense and World Bank as a guy who adopted, “a single-minded position on certain matters, refusing to entertain alternative views, marginalizing dissenters.”

That’s what highwayscribery means by The Bush Way (in case you hadn’t caught on yet).

It seems that Wolfowitz, who wanted to “redeem” himself (Wiesman’s words) following the policy faux paus known as the Iraq war, had “bitter complaints about the bureaucracy, saying it was the worst he’d ever seen, worse than the Pentagon.”

To translate for those still unschooled in the Bushian lexicon: the bureaucracy are the people that work there and resist administration policy goals through established and certified processes.

Manish Bapna, executive director off the Bank Information Center, is quoted by Weisman as saying, “His style was seen as an ad hoc subjective approach to punishing enemies and rewarding friends.”

Sound familiar?

When some guy there resisted suggestions the World Bank establish a “greater presence” in Iraq, the administration’s pet project, Wolfowitz had him transferred to Kazakhstan.

Before “Borat” was released.

Another friend observed that, Wolfowitz didn’t want to redeem his screw-ups on the Iraq war so much as, “[H]e was looking for something to do as a great man in foreign policy, which is how he has always seen himself.”

Baby-boomer in power.

Be careful how you act in life, your friends might find themselves talking about, “he,” “he,” and “himself,” which is not the word-portrait a good public servant wants attached to “him.”

Unless, of course, upon your arrival at a big job you should mimic Wolfowitz who, “wanted to write a book about Iraq and accept fees for speeches,” which set off his first fight with ethics officers who had a problem with his “policy for profit” motive.

What’s up with these foreign bureaucracies? Don’t they know government service is something you (ka-ching!) cash-in on once bounced for doing a bad job?

Wolfowitz also had a clash with the general counsel at World Bank who he "refused to deal with." That’s the lawyer who represents the institution in all things legal and what Bushie cares about that?

Said the general counsel of Wolfowitz, “He presumes that anyone who opposes him is incompetent or corrupt.”

And so on. He brought in two neoCon aides to do his heavy lifting (and dropping), bypassing the people already in place to do those jobs; very much the way he helped establish an “Iraq Study Group” inside the Pentagon to replace the Group that Studies Iraq already in place (inside the Pentagon).

He suspended financing to Uzbekistan because they wouldn’t let the administration use its air space on the way to kill people with fighter jets.

This is the usual vindictive stuff practiced by the guy at the top, because no matter what you have at the top, you’ll find it mirrored at all levels of government and in the society around you.

So don’t look up.

Meanwhile, the smug attorney general who, last week, “deflected” congressional inquiries, seemingly bolstered by numerous press reports he had “weathered the storm,” awoke to new clouds on the horizon.

It was quite a shock the Democrats had another card up their sleeve, and usually is for an administration that has no purpose for Congress and has studied it even less than it has the military history of Iraq.

The Democrats, with the help of certain Republicans, are now going to go for a “no confidence” vote and should have no problem not finding the confidence.

Laurie Kellman’s Associated Press article has the White House dismissing the move out-of-hand as “symbolic,” which is true, yet fails to wrest importance from the fact we don’t get “no confidence” votes in the U.S. Congress very often.

And then, of course, there’s the tiny matter of the vote coming from the same people who confirmed you in the first place.

What got the ball rolling again was testimony by a Department of Justice official who said Gonzales and former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card went to the hospital bed of former Attorney General John Ashcroft so he would sign-off on their illegal domestic spy program.

Very civil.

Ashcroft, who looks like a paragon of enlightenment alongside his successor, said it was illegal and wouldn’t sign, so they went ahead and did it anyway. When you’re running the government’s legal department, legalities and niceties are interchangeable.

Anyway, Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota had this to say: “I would hope that the attorney general understands that the department is suffering right now, and he does the right thing, and that is, allows the president to provide new leadership.”

Get out your crowbar senator. These guys don’t go easily...

...but they are going.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just Checking In

Halcyon Days for highwayscribery with triple the number of people stopping by in the past week or two. Alas, the scribe is closing in on vacation and trying to do everything he would otherwise do during that timespan, before it happens. So that, coupled with general fatigue, means there will be less posting until after the Mexican adventure.

Just when people started getting interested (which isn't nearly as important as the Mexican adventure).

Yesterday, May 14, the scribe and Omar Torrez taped a full 40 minutes with Karyn Foley from Friends of the Calabasas Library and her television crew at the, well, Calabasas Library. We did six pieces, four from "Vedette" and two flamenco variations from Omar. The set was much different from that used last year during the New York tour, with three new pieces.

We will be doing another event with Ghetto Gourmet at a Spanish Villa in the Hollywood Hills June 16. If you click around on their Web site you might figure out how to get in.

Anyway, the scribe is off to San Diego on assignment and will possibly used the quiet of his hotel room to generate a little...highwayscribery.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

highwayscribery is going to rerun this post originally published in January on “The Other Women’s Movement,” by a Rutgers University professor named Dorothy Sue Cobble.

Mother's Day from an anarcho-syndicalist perspective, if you will.

The text relates specifically to organized labor and focusing on it through a patented highwayscribery "book report" maintains continuity with the previous post’s theme - the Teamsters organizing victory at the L.A. Times.

The reason for reading this academic thesis was a little primary research for a screenplay dramatizing the 1964 Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union drive to organize bunnies at the Detroit Playboy Club.

The force behind this effort was a left-over from 1930s union activism, one Myra Wolfgang, “the battling belle of Detroit.” A rebel woman who had helped organize the Woolworths lunch counters during the Great Depression.

Years later, she was something of a national figure to the extent women were paid attention to at all and held a position as a national vice president of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union.

She was old school. Betty Friedan called her an “Aunt Tom,” for what she considered Wolfgang's subservience to union bosses. Wolfgang responded that Friedan was the Chamber of Commerce’s Aunt Tom.

Anyway, Wolfgang sent her 17-year old daughter into the Playboy Club as a union “salt”- an insider - and began the successful drive.

She said Hugh Hefner’s “Playboy Philosophy” perpetuated the notion that women should be, “Obscene and Not Heard.”

That’s the scribe’s title. Go ahead and try to steal it, he can use the publicity.

Anyway, Cobble knows a lot about Myra Wolfgang, waitress unions, and the Playboy campaign in particular so the scribe went out and ordered her book from Princeton University Press.

It was the wrong book. The one (hopefully) with all the Playboy stuff is in “Dishing It Out: Waitresses and Their Unions in the 20th Century.”

But this book was interesting and will serve to deepen the scribe's indoctrination prior to scribbling that story.

“The Other Women’s Movement,” is what Cobble believes to have been a forgotten generation largely excluded from the story of feminism as currently redacted.

That story, and the scribe admits to not having known this, involved a “first wave” of feminists in the suffragettes’ era (early 1900s) and a “second wave” of the 1960s spawned and led by the Betty Friedans and Gloria Steinems of the world.

Cobble’s thesis is that in between these two waves was a crucial period peopled with a special breed of “labor feminists” who took root and then cover in their unions during what was the heyday of organized syndicates in the United States. They took the form of activists in large feminine “auxiliaries” to the unions, and later as members and leaders themselves.

The labor feminists tackled, early, the questions women are still dealing with today; the need to make employers understand that “time” itself is the most valuable commodity to a woman with family; and that less work, rather than more money, is preferable to them.

This book reviews the debate between working class women in unions and those in a more conservative outfit called the National Women’s Party, which first (and the scribe did not know this either) floated the idea of that Equal Rights Amendment feminists pushed until the mid-‘80s.

Later, all feminists were behind ERA, but in the beginning, the factory girls and servers felt it was a Republican ruse for allowing employers to circumvent the real issues of industrial democracy, wages, and job security they fought for in statehouses and at the collective bargaining table.

Cobble successfully renders the exciting rebel-girl beginnings of, Wolfgang, Anne Draper, Ruth Young, Esther Peterson, Gladys Dickason, and a long cast of worthwhile characters you’ve never heard of, and follows the threads of each’s long career dedicated to the same issues that fired their youths.

Labor feminists were split amongst themselves and others in the women's movement over whether special labor laws protecting women in particular (capping hours, preventing dismissal for pregnancy) actually kept women apart, or separate, and thus more vulnerable to being judged as “less” than men.

Others wanted no special protections, just the same rights everybody else had. These latter eventually won out, but only with the slow passing of the labor feminists and their influence on women in America

So that is what was interesting about the thesis; the airing out of bread and butter issues afoot in the land or at least among the womanry. It shows the cracks and coalescence and the interests that separated women by class and race when it came to defining exactly the kind of “progress” women should aspire to.

It reminds us that these debates are going on today and provides a primer on the roots of those debates.

More than anything, and as was to be expected, the labor feminists were concerned with the workplace and Cobble argues that such should be the focus today, work having the feature role it does in most our lives.

The sixties wave of feminism offered some correctives to the labor feminist doctrine, Cobble says, but also accepted, rather quietly, some if its most important analyses of work, class and their relation to women’s position in society, beyond gender itself.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment twenty-five)


It never became known as anything other than “The Company” and its moment was fleeting, but bright like anything burning itself out is.
Cassius first engaged a group of French filmmakers and poets who were starting a club. The owner, Andi, really couldn’t see what it was that Cassius could offer him for the $1,500 price. He declined the deal.

“Don’t. Don’t do that!” Cassius smiled him, charm-shot him. “My power, my people with me, we will get you what you need now. If you just follow me,” he told the club-runner who remained unmoved.

So what Cassius did was pay for all his garter girls to get in and he set them down at the bar, in the Frenchmen’s club, Sandbox. Elendele love the name so much she went too, although she knew about and disliked the contracts and the dress code Cassius was holding the girls to.

They all sat coolly reordering waters on ice over and over, using up all the barstools, blocking business, refusing all requests to dance or partake of an invited drink. In the surrounding streets Cassius stalked like a wounded coyote, confronting people heading for Sandbox, telling them he’d just been there and that it was dead inside.

By 12:45, Cassius had $2,500 of the Frenchmen’s money in his pocket, which included a refund for what he’d paid to get the girls in. Then he directed his harem to harangue the dance floor.

The hit it, a pack of future Gypsies in aluminum foil faces and candy apple breasts, twenty-five twenty-year olds shaking their new woman bodies faster than their minds around the 4 a.m. dance floor, as time-lost near-children flashed freak fashion and teeth fashion and new ways to take people home.

The next day the filmmakers agreed to an under-the-table deal. They conceded to use The Company, make use of its assets (such as they were), for three months. They also assented to a small acting role for Elendele in a low-budget affair they were involved in. It was a short piece, artistic and rhetorical, in which she was miscast as a young peasant girl, and never went too far, not even in video, but I still covet my copy

Saturn agreed to help Cassius run The Company after an all-night negotiating session behind closed doors to determine the proper compensation for her. Details of her package were never revealed by Saturn or Cassius.

She’d given up on acting because the Writers’ strike was still going. “I don’t want to be a part of an industry with a union this dumb,” she read from a tersely worded statement to an empty salon, before locking herself in her room to avoid the inevitable attack from the shop steward in her life.

Elendele, for her part, had lent a helping hand and was now turning to other things. She felt she was bigger than anything The Company could offer and she was right. Some interesting projects were within her reach.

A few months into the thing Cassius and Saturn and The Company girls were all getting used to the good money game when the French refused to sign for another semester. The truth was their moment on the slipline of style, their club on the Miracle Mile had been eclipsed. But worse for Cassius, some of the girls were falling in love with the scotch boys of certain strength and character drawn to the club and lyrical conversation. He hadn’t considered this. The clientele were beginning to complain that replacement girls had bad party etiquette, mostly because he hadn’t had the time to train them.

Many had fallen for the gone gals without ever knowing it and would shadow him with phone calls at midnight and other kinds of madness, over and over, asking him things such as, “What ever happened to that girl Anise with breath like black licorice?”

So Cassius tried to power Elendele back into the concern. Elendele shouted Cassius to do more for her career and then we would see. She was the queen of his company, she pointed him, raising her skirt up her thigh. But he was programmed to damage her on this one and he showed her the contract she’d signed, when he’d gotten her drunk, on the backside of a cocktail napkin.

It said, “I grant all control over my career direction to the personal manager, and anything else he decides he wants to do with me.”

“Cassius, you can’t do this,” I plugged him after a quick survey of the offending rag.

“Pretty girls shouldn’t take pretty little pills,” came his face-forward challenge.

So Elendele went to Gina Night’s father. He owed her from the hand she gave him with the El Salvador dissidents during the stage employees’ rebellion. He’d been in town, but Whitey McEntee told me, wasn’t the same since he had to move Gina away. His house of cards had basically tumbled without her and Whitey said he was getting about as much disrespect as he used to get respect. Still, he was able ruffle Cassius up and unhook Elendele without much effort.

Elendele came back from seeing Gina’s dad with an envelope, addressed to me and Saturn and herself, as it if were the old days of the salon.

The manila sheet inside the envelope paper-blossomed into a giant poster from Teatro Alla Scala in Milan. “Eugenio Oneghin” was the name of the opera it announced and next to the almost important character Tatiana, was the name in bigger block print: Gina Notte.

It was a shock, but a short one. Her solutions were always for the long-term and her patience always confounded and left us feeling inadequate, because to be that deliberate was inconsistent with the liquid life.

After Elendele got the terms on her contract rewritten the bad blood between she and Cassius became badder. It confused their already confused friendship. Cassius was embarrassed around us all because we knew he’d been bullied and that his power wasn’t so much stronger than a union thug’s big stick.

One day soon after that, while we were sitting around debating the benefits of the city’s new and progressive family leave policy, we heard over the radio that the Writers’ strike was over. They went back to work for less money than they were offered at the beginning, but they had done years’ worth of damage and Elendele was pleased with the results. “That’ll teach them” she decreed.

Gina Night’s career breakthrough and the resumption of studio production set Elendele onto Cassius like fire over a dry Texas plain. She wanted work.

Soon after, Cassius surprised everybody when he landed a role in a movie he promised would break her big. She bit again on his incessant bait; then played with it in her mouth like a fox lunching on prairie dog. She kissed Cassius on the mouth after his announcement in the salon, where Cortez felt slighted because he was showing us his newest series of the Pope, and another of the mass murderer of the month. Elendele and Cassius went to the back room and closed off a space for themselves until morning.

Nightgirl. Maid Marian of the garbageways and long tunnels of the subconscious mind; go back to where you came from. Go back to nowhere.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Giuliani And The Politics of Defeat

Democrats, pushed by peace and freedom currents that seeped into the party during 1960s, are often criticized by (r)epublicans for promoting the politics of “defeat and surrender.”

highwayscribery would suggest it’s all a matter of how you look at it.

The other day, Rudy Giuliani gave a tough-guy speech to GOP faithful in Alabama.

He said something to the effect that, “We can never go back to the 1990s,” back to a time when we were secure in the notion that at every moment some Muslim extremist was bent upon killing us.

So who’s defeatist?

Don’t tell the highway scribe that he will be removing his shoes before boarding planes the rest of his life. Don’t tell him going to an Angels baseball game will forever require a strip-search prior to entry. Don’t say we can never go back.

Fix the problem. Give Palestine a state, remove your bases in that troubled region, cut fuel consumption, reduce dependency, find a way to blunt the hatred against us; a hatred rooted in policies, not in the fact our antagonists “hate freedom.”

Don’t say you won’t negotiate with terrorists. That’s a macho posture that places the burden on regular citizens of the United States and other countries, while you move about in a bubble of taxpayer-financed security.

If your people are targeted for death, you must do what you can to change those circumstances, not hunker down in a war against a form of strategic violence that dates back centuries.

The Red scare was a convenient menace for the right wing and its friends in the arms industry over many years. But at least there was a pledge to defeat communism.

Giuliani, a man who was despised by the city he governed prior to the attacks of 9/11, has found a very convenient foil in Muslim extremism, a career-saving blessing on the backs of the thousands who died that fateful day.

Without the fundamentalist hordes, he has nothing. Oddly, Giuliani does not represent a walking reminder of government failure to protect the victims, rather is regarded as a man who responded boldly in the wake of colossal blunder.

He is saying terrorism can never be ended, that we must live forever in fear, bend to the natural impulses of conservatives for curbing our civil rights in the “the fight” against a nebulous concept, and squander our national wealth in foreign adventurism that only inflames the hatreds against us.

There have always been terrorists and we cannot cover the entirety of our existence with safeguards against them, for that is to let them win.

To desire peace and pull troops from a poorly conceived conflict is not defeatist. To say we must assume a permanent war-footing, to suggest that “we can never go back,” is the ultimate strain of pessimism for it promises nothing but darkness, and discounts any potential for a true and loving human family.

Meanwhile, and apropos of everything, (p)resident Bush’s planned address at a Catholic college is stirring dissent, according to James Gerstenzang, a reporter of what’s left to the “Los Angeles Times.”

The school in question, Pennsylvania’s St. Vincent College, has a president who once directed Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, one H. James Towey.

Towey said he’s been getting a lot of e-mails, letters, and phone calls since w.’s planned address was announced. “The hatred that comes out is just staggering -- that he is not Christian -- and they’ll unload on him in an unChristian way.”

Well, w. himself is not very Christian in that he is violent in a way Christ never was.

The hate Bush engenders has always been a strange phenomena, dismissed both by his supporters and big media alike as some strange virus that affects the less reasonable among us, but which has no attachment to the man and the arrogant way he has governed.

“Bush-hating” is an excess to be dismissed out of hand, excluded from the national debate, an aberration for sociologists to weigh in years to come, but for the president and media Popes alike to ignore at present.

As the group of hate grows larger, the number of seriously considered opposing voices shrinks. And that’s quite a trick even for an administration as devious as the present one.

But there is no mystery, no inexplicable bacteria floating in the national ambience that strikes persons unaware.

People the world over hate the (p)resident for who he has been, for the way he took power, for his blithe ignorance of others’ opinions, for his inability to admit a mistake, for the apparent belief he is accountable to no one but himself, and for ever-fresh tragedies like those listed directly below.

Three More

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Manteca Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II of Manteca, CA:

"Corporal Palmer served our country with tremendous strength and profound bravery. Charles will be remembered for his steadfast determination to protect the freedoms we hold most sacred. Maria and I offer our prayers for Charles' family, friends and loved ones as they mourn their loss."

Palmer, 36, died May 5 as a result of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 8th Communication Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II MEF, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

In honor of Cpl. Palmer, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Sun Valley Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Felix G. Gonzalez-Iraheta of Sun Valley, CA:

"Our nation's brave soldiers courageously devote themselves to defending our way of life. Felix will be remembered for his selfless patriotism in the face of ultimate danger. Maria and I extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fellow soldiers."

Gonzalez-Iraheta, 25, died May 3 in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

In honor of Sgt. Gonzalez-Iraheta, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Long Beach Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Astor A. Sunsin-Pineda of Long Beach, CA:

"Specialist Sunsin-Pineda served our country with pride and dedication. Astor's heroic determination to fight for the oppressed is an inspiration to all Californians. Maria and I offer our prayers for Astor's family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time."

Sunsin-Pineda, 20, died May 2 in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of injuries sustained when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, KS.

In honor of Spc. Sunsin-Pineda, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Book Report: "Valley of Betrayal" by Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer, a writer with a slew of novels about World War II to her credit, stumbled upon the Spanish Civil War in researching an earlier book. She’d read about an American pilot who had crashed in Nazi-occupied Belgium and applied survival skills picked up as a volunteer in the Iberian conflict.

Like many of us, she became smitten with both the conflict and with the country itself and dedicated her efforts to crafting A Valley of Betrayal (Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War, Book 1)which would appear to be the first in a series.

the highway scribe came across Goyer during one of his frequent forays onto the Web site of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) where students, Hispanophiles, sectarian communists, tried and true veterans of the International Brigades, and eminent scholars like Paul Preston and Fraser Otanelli trade-off information, requests, and arguments on a “list” overseen by New York University.

Or something like that; it’s a little hard to figure out.

Goyer joined the list chatter last year, asking for a little help and got some rough handling due to the fact her publisher, Moody, is a “Christian” editorial house.

A confirmed, confessed and convinced non-believer, the scribe was inclined to smirk as well, but opted for a more gracious approach since he’s found in his long career that writers are mostly self-involved and incapable of kindness toward others of their craft.

Goyer responded to the scribe’s suggestions, whatever they were, by purchasing his book “Vedette,” which, you know, represented the total for sales in 2006.

Soon thereafter, too soon it seemed, she announced on the ALBA list that she’d finished the work. the scribe contacted her and she sent a free copy.

The Christians are winning in highwayscribery’s book.

Despite the short turnover time, Goyer has done an admirable job in tackling a muddled, now distant, and controversial subject. Her capacity for research and historical reconstruction is rather remarkable as she renders lively and detailed portrayals of revolutionary Barcelona, Madrid under siege, the horrors of the front, and the tragedy of Guernica.

That’s a full plate and it is achieved with a simple, straightforward style that doesn’t try too hard, but successfully pulled the scribe into her dramatization.

“Valley’s” primary character is Sophie Grace, a young woman hurrying to Spain on the trail of a photographic journalist named Michael with whom she is in love and hopes to marry. Michael’s betrayal of her affections is mirrored in the larger conflict around Sophie and deepens her confusion as she looks for a rock to lean on in a country where the very earth moves beneath her feet and few people are who or what they claim to be.

The supporting characters include Deion, an African-American volunteer to the International Brigades; Father Manuel, a Basque priest from Guernica trying to reconcile his support for the “godless” Republic with the savagery of Franco’s Catholic crusade; Philip, an American track runner pulled into the conflict by the anti-Fascist impulses of his teammate Atticus; and Ritter, a Nazi pilot with the Condor Legion.

Leading Sophie on her path to self-realization as a painter of propaganda posters for the Republican cause and amateur nurse on the front, Goyer pulls each thread taught to the culmination at Guernica where distinct literary fates await.

Goyer is especially good at spreading layers of increasing narrative desperation in the Republican ranks which seemingly choke the reader as much as those on the ill-fated Loyalist side.

There is an inherent problem with writing literature about the Spanish Civil War in that the conflict was exceedingly complex and hardly anybody knows anything about it anymore. So there is an unavoidable didactic touch, very light, spread throughout early parts of the book that will serve neophytes, but grate on more seasoned buffs.

As to the “Christianity” contained within the tale, it is hard to see where it amounts to anything more than what you find in most literature, faith playing the role it does in so many lives. And Goyer comes alive when she treats the ethical and moral questions confronting both she and her characters. She does it with intelligence and a knowing hand without coming off preachy/creepy.

The unbeliever may cringe somewhat at Sophie’s final realization that her blown-off-course fate in Spain was part of “God’s plan,” but the scribe confesses to hearing that from some of the dearest people in his life, all of whom accept him in spite of the iconoclasm and brazen atheism.

Which is to say this story fits into the story of the world, and certainly into that of Spain circa the 1930s.

Monday, May 07, 2007

More Protection and Service

the highway scribe's post, "To Protect and Serve," was picked up by "L.A. Observed" last week and the blog enjoyed an uncommonly healthy stream of visitors.

Meanwhile, the debate has raged on in Los Angeles.

One of the primary arguments is that "these people" [the demonstrators] have no right to be here in the first place, ergo, the police cannot be accused of wrongdoing.

By way of example, read the comment under that post for a bit of Latino on Latino xenophobia.

The immigration issue is not a big one here at highwayscribery and we explained, in that post, how our main concern was with police abuse, which we think is never acceptable, even if the protestors are from Mars.

But that's just our own unique anarcho-syndical perspective.

We received, over the weekend, this video.

It is done by an intelligent and articulate citizen journalist and his cameraman. Not too close to the action, it documents some of the outrage, fear, frustration, and viewpoints of those who came to demonstrate and wound up being shot at.

It provides a top-notch rendering of the disorder created by the police force, because a handful of crazy youths "provoked" them.

If you can make it all the way through, you'll get to a precious moment when the journalist espies one cop pointing directly at he and his cameraman while the cop next to him is taking dead aim at the pair with one of those "non-lethal" rubber bullet guns they use on people who aren't doing anything wrong.

Unprovoked targeting the media.

That's what we can't stand.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

"The Liquid Life (installment twenty-four)


On the set of the commercial Cassius seemed distant from the biggest starlet in his stable and that was strange because it should have been a moment of sundrench for the team.

He showed up late and turned his cheek to her when she tried to kiss him, stealing her smile from her. She was later angry with herself for letting him do it.

Elendele tells me during the wait, her old buddy I hate being, that it’s because she’s been seen with another guy from over on the east side – further evidence of her affinity for Latin men. A half-Mexican with a scar from war games during a shift with the Marines in a camp north of San Diego. It makes him look sexy and so he got himself some pictures taken for $450, saved from pay in the service, which he kept cause he had no girl to send it to. He pushes himself as an actor, does catering, attends $800 classes for six-week terms, meets Elendele one day at an audition.

The bedroom, now just an ornament stuck to his memory, Cassius started using his link to Elendele for meeting other budding starlets in the stardust ballrooms of the city.

“Come with me,” he’d tempt them. “Help me out with my power and we’ll use it to both our benefit. I’m not talking about just doing work here. I’m not talking about your typical job. I’m talking about changing the worlds of fashion, music, literature, and film around with the force of our coming togetherness. Let me butter your bread.
You got what I need and there’s no pressure, even if there’s no time like the present. Cross my heart.”

With his heart-rock Cassius would approach the girl of the evening. The one everyone wanted to talk to, but couldn’t find the nerve. He excited them, made up stories about his exploits as a member of the Chicago White Sox farm team, about his near death on the Arkansas River.

He kept contact up, touching wrists and asking, “are your nervous,” when there was no reason to think they were. Then he’d leave to the bathroom and get back 35 minutes later. From there he’d slow things in, telling about the plan for his company, how he thought they could help, just like a responsible businessman. The girls would be breathing heavy from his changes in temperature and they would be relieved when he cooled off.

And they would listen and then sign-on.

It took him four months to round up the thirty he needed. He called thirty the “impact threshold for critical mass” or the amount of girls he would need to sign a signature on the town’s party life. He went for the girls who were young and who were poor because they needed him and because they jaded set delights with the honest impulse of true primitives. He taught them things about people. Stole books from the salon and gave them as gifts, without knowing what they said, influenced them in ways for which he could never be held responsible, but should have been.

When he was finished they were just downy sacks of easy pleasures with the added benefit that they were basically paid for, and knew when to shut up. He was making them sign a contract to join his company which bound them to dress according to his narrowly prescribed code and which gave him sole control over their public images for three years running.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Two More

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of 1st Lt. Travis L. Manion of Doylestown, PA:

"Our nation is forever grateful for the brave soldiers who risk their lives to defend our freedoms. First Lieutenant Manion fulfilled the noble calling of serving his country with pride and honor. Maria and I extend our sincere condolences to Travis' family and loved ones as they mourn his passing."

Manion, 26, died April 29 as a result of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of 1st Lt. Manion, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Ione Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Jay-D H. Ornsby-Adkins of Ione, CA:

"This brave soldier lost his life in the virtuous pursuit of preserving the freedoms our nation holds sacred. Private First Class Jay-D H. Ornsby-Adkins will be remembered for his selfless sacrifice for his fellow Americans. Maria and I offer our prayers for his family, friends and fellow soldiers."

Ornsby-Adkins, 21, died April 28 in Salman Pak, Iraq, as a result of injuries sustained when his vehicle was struck with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, GA.

In honor of Pfc. Ornsby-Adkins, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"To Protect and Serve"

Here in Los Angeles we had an unfortunate event involving our mostly unfortunate police department, which has a burnished reputation for violence and bullying.

On May Day, at MacArthur Park, the mustachioed ones unleashed one of their only too familiar “sweeps” through a crowd legally assembled to protest or request or demonstrate whatever it is they want related to immigration.

The reason for the demonstration is not the focus of this post, but the unnecessary termination of same through police brutality.

L.A. Observed has done a nice job of gathering various sources of reporting on, and community response to, the event.

By way of relevant background, long ago in 1990, the highway scribe was covering the Service Employees International Union Local 399 and its “Janitors for Justice” campaign. The targets of the organizing drive were the gleaming towers of Century City.

A march was assembled by the union, other labor organizations, and notably, members of the local clergy. The cops, for reasons only they and city fathers know, decided the peaceful procession would not enter Century City, and all hell broke loose.

Another mindless “sweep” with truncheon waving meatheads ensued. It didn’t matter who you were; young, old, pregnant, pastor, journalist or janitor. You were in their way and you had been told to move, constitutional rights to assembly be damned.

One pregnant women lost her child. A 70-year old female Salvadoran poet had her arm broken, and even Conway Collis, a member of the State Board of Equalization at the time, got stomped on. Rotten publicity ensued, Century City management caved the next day, and the union got its contract.

Seventeen years later, the buildings are still standing and the fortunes generated within continue apace.

The taxpayers had to shell out $23 million in a court settlement over the abuses rendered by its idiotic occupying army whose counterintuitive motto is, “To Protect and Serve.”


Jill Leovy of the “L.A. Times” overplays her hand in trying to render a “balanced” account of this civic travesty.

She makes much of the fact some young men had been throwing bottles at the police.

the highway scribe asserts that it simply doesn’t matter. You are armored and armed and you will be fine as a police force with overwhelming superiority in numbers and strength before the antagonisms of some malcontents.

You are the adults. You don’t launch a sweep that, in its indiscriminate selection, indicts everyone.

Leovy also has problems with “citizen journalists” on hand, making much of their clash with “paid” and “established news organizations.”

Too bad.

If, over the years, the voices of those least fortunate and most under represented among us had found a sympathetic ear in the “established news organizations,” there would be trust and the antagonisms detailed in Leovy’s piece would not have come to pass.

Instead you have Dave Clark, “a well-known broadcast journalist with KCAL 9 and CBS 2,” telling another less-official guy, with plenty of reason to be mad at the Chief of Police, “We’re trying to work here!”

Excuse the rest of us who aren’t TV stars, Dave.

the scribe understands that the inclusion of these citizen malcontents and muckrakers is messy, disorganized, and not as polished as when things are dominated by your typical media show horses, but neither is genuine democracy.

the highway scribe has worked 24 years with different professional reporting organizations, is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Society of Environmental Journalists, and a one-time shop steward of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Local 50.

And still the scribe needs a blog.

That is because he knows, unequivocally, that there are vast quantities of daily happenings in our world that are considered “inappropriate” for coverage largely because they run counter to the sensibilities and interests of people who operate and own media outlets.

These citizen journalist characters are not an accident, but a natural product of the way news stories have been told for a long time, and they are not going away.

Nonetheless, the treatment of media workers at this police riot was unconscionable; but don’t take the highway scribe’s word for it. Watch some of the countless videos around, starting with those on the aforementioned “L.A. Observed” site.

They are caught red-handed smirking and smashing their way through a lot of innocent people.

There are unfortunate details to the account; people behaving in ugly ways, but the LAPD started it. The breakdown in order does not begin with the plastic bottles Leovy so assiduously reports, but with an out-of-control squadron of mercenaries taking obvious relish in the task of beating people.

Leovy writes, “When the police had driven the last of the press and protestors to the northwest corner of the park, an order came specifically directed at the press: ‘Members of the media,’ were told they were there illegally by an officer on foot.”

Buffalo chips.

There is no place one can be “illegally” in a free country. That applies to everybody and most definitely to a member of the Fourth Estate who is empowered by the First Amendment to do just what they were doing in Downtown L.A. on Monday:

Observing and report on the abuse of power by those entrusted with the sacred charge of protecting us.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy May Day

"I watched their faces, their clothes, their way of walking. No, it was not yet these who would be ready to create the revolution."

Andre Breton, from the novel, Nadia.

Saving Himself

Four years ago today, (p)resident Bush made a big show of landing on an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego, resplendent in a pilot’s suit to declare...

“My fellow Americans, major combat operations have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.”

It is a fair guess there are less buildings standing in Iraq than when this silly speech was made and so much for the reconstruction.

After some self-congratulatory business about “liberty” and “peace,” and other concepts nobody associates with his policies, the (p)resident continued, “Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision, and speed, and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before.”

All of which turned out to be a bunch of hooey from a guy who has little sense of history. The enemy clearly expected an overwhelming display of force and quietly melted away to resurface as myriad guerilla forces with lots of time on their hands.

They can kill 10 guys a week until the end of time because it’s their country and they have no plans to leave.

Here’s a simple AP report on the 104 American soldiers killed in April, “one of the deadliest months of the war so far for U.S. forces.”

Lucky the major combat operations have ended, or this thing would be a real bloodbath.

Meanwhile, the nation is being asked to believe the (p)resident’s escalation of the war, in the face of a contrary and majority viewpoint that it should end, is somehow “working.”

Instead it seems the more Americans he puts over there, the easier it is to find and kill them.

Around the time Bush’s big “Mission Accomplished” bash was going down, the highway scribe was reading Gore Vidal’s “Julian” about a Roman Caesar who raced his army through the heart of Mesopotamia to a “victory” not unlike the one produced by Fox News according to the administration’s script.

Julian wound up hunkering down while his guys got picked off, one by one, two by two, and then by the hundreds.

There’s nothing like picking up a history book every now again, but the Boy Wonder could not have been expected to understand how old and universal realities apply to him.

He’s never heard the word, “no,” although the Democratic Congress is straining to open his ears to it.

Here’s something else he said at the time: “With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against innocent civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war. Yet it is a great advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.”

Well, a few hundred thousand dead Iraqis later should remind the (p)resident that he is not the only guy making decisions in a war; that there is an opposing army or, in this case, armies, with goals different than those of Captain Liberty.

Then there was this whopper: “The war on terror is not over, yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of the final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide...”

Unless he is talking about the tide at the surfing hotspot, “Staircases” Beach, in Malibu, it is mostly rising, at least according to this AP piece with the comforting headline, “Report says terror attacks up sharply.”

Here’s a tidbit from the article by Matthew Lee:

“In its annual global survey of terrorism, the [State] department said 14,338 attacks took place in 2006, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan...”

Which is mainly where the (p)resident has been squandering the country’s future and resources.

Check out this “Cost of War” ticker, a regular feature at highwayscribery.

Finally, the man who would make anew the troubled and oppressed regions of the world through violently imposed democracy, vetoed a measure giving him another $120 billion of our shared national treasure with a deadline, rather far away in time, for ending the war.

That bill was an expression of the American peoples’ rejection of his pet project. w. said he’s open to “listening to the opinions of others,” but is apparently willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes to reverse his doomed legacy as dolt and butcher.

Bush desperately links his tribulations to those of Abraham Lincoln, because he’s sticking to his “principles.”

But Lincoln’s principle was trying to save the union; w. wants only to save himself.