Category Archives: Remembrance

That’s the Ticket!

It’s a very good thing that our friend Kathleen is only in charge of a household and a blog and not the economy or the war effort in Afghanistan (or even foreign policy as I pointed out earlier).

On the economy, she has a post up about the deficit.  Her source is a blog post at the  American Enterprise Institute which has a pretty graph that was cooked up supposedly using OMB numbers, but there is no link to any specific OMB report(s).  The graph makes George W. Bush look pretty bad, given that it also includes the Clinton surplus.  But it makes projections for the Obama administration look horrible.  But that’s the point, right?  There’s no indication whether Obama’s ban on accounting gimmicks (piker, indeed) is calculated into the Bush numbers or whether the sunset of the Bush tax-cuts-during-two-wars are part of the graphic.

But unskeptical Kathleen runs with it:

Maybe THIS is why we protest now and not under Pres. Bush?

She’s still fooled by gimmicks.

In the long run, spin can only go so far. People can look out their doors and see what is happening to our economy.

Really?  In the Woodlands?  In my neck of the woods, we are holding our own.

The Labor Department will release the September unemployment report on Friday. It’s probably no coincidence that Pres. Obama is out of the country that day, deciding on a whim to go help out Michelle get those 2016 Olympic games for Chicago.

She just had to get in a dig about the Olympics.  I’m surprised that she didn’t go as far as Bill Kristol and telegraph possible travel to Afghanistan to the Taliban.

And today she realized that she’s just done with the Afghanistan war and has become a peacenik.  Oh, not really.  She’s just throwing a temper tantrum and wants to take her ball home.  She was never really into the NATO led military action in Afghanistan anyway.  She got her charge from the mostly US led actions in Iraq (which is telling). Again she sees President Obama as reactionary.  On top of that she doesn’t understand the chain of command and that bypassing General Petraeus (one of her heroes!) is not the way this sort of thing works:

When the news got out that Pres. Obama had only talked to the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan ONCE in the last 70 days, they quickly put together a conference call. This is a President that has no interest in war. Who doesn’t believe in ANY war.

He has no business leading one.

I see.  That last comment is followed by another surprising comment — given that Kathleen supported the surge in Iraq and would presumably remember how long it took in 2007 to get more troops into Iraq.  But no:

43 U.S. troops have died since Gen. McChrystal called for reinforcements.

How many U.S. troops died while the surge was is process?  How many Iraqis died in 2007?  Her memory is so short she should be tested for Alzheimer’s.  The last insult?

we need to bring our boys and girls home

I watch The News Hour every day and This Week every Sunday.  I see the military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan each time they pay tribute to them.  I stop what I am doing and pay attention — pay tribute.  They are not boys and girls.  Kathleen is not old enough to patronizingly call them “boys and girls.”  Perhaps she feels free to write that sort of thing because no one in her family, including herself, have ever served in the military.  To her it is just a game, or a petty way to make a political point.


On this day

I didn’t do anything overt to commemorate it; I just did my job.

Eight years ago, it was different.  I did my job that day as well, but it was far different from today.  Back then, our department had a lot of students from the Middle East.  (Since then, it has been rare for a Moroccan, Saudi or Pakistani student to get into the the country on a visa, much less our program.)  Some of our students knew what was happening, but most of them didn’t tune into the news in the morning and didn’t have access to computers in class.  Us teachers would run up to our offices during the breaks and check on the news.  It was horrifying.  I sent emails to see if a friend who worked in the WTC area had been heard from.

Later, I heard rumors — started by a women I later learned does nothing but lie — that all of our Arab students had walked out of classes in protest.  It wasn’t true.

I spent the next two weeks trying to keep going at work, despite the worry and the questions, and crying as I watched the reports on tv in the evening.

Over the next few years, work was difficult.  Our student population dropped and we had to do some creative things.  It was a difficult and stressful time, but at least I had a job and my friend in NYC was safe.

I remember how Cheney wanted to have a parade on this day a couple of years ago.  Thankfully that was scrapped.  We don’t need this day to turn into a holiday or a day of showing military regalia.  There have always been blogs that have threatened that people will forget, unless we remain afraid and ignorant.  There will always be some who want to politicize this day, despite the families of the victims trying for years — and finally succeeding this year, in turning it into a day of service and remembrance.  (And yes, Michael Berry, President Obama didn’t come up with this idea, but he did finally formalize it — just as the families have been asking for — for years.)

And then there is Glenn Beck.  Fresh off of getting not one but two scalps from the Obama administration, he’s off to the Mall to gather 2 MILLION people to shake their fists at the nation and demand that we all get together and I don’t know, let him be president or supreme dictator or something.  His loyal followers are following 9 things and 12 other things and supposedly they surround me.  I haven’t seen them yet, but I am a private person, so perhaps they are still looking for me.  It also reminds me of another book by Mike Gallagher titled, Surrounded by Idiots.  Perhaps these hosts need a thesaurus?

I don’t have cable, so watching the wall-to-wall Fox News coverage of tomorrow’s get together in D.C. is not an option for me.  Sigh.  I will check in and see if any bloggers claim that the Capitol Police have estimated their crowd size (they actually don’t do that anymore . . .)

Here’s a straight forward and cathartic response to Beck.

Joe Biden on Ted Kennedy

“Teddy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America,” Vice President Joe Biden said today. The former and longtime member of the Senate from Delaware and Kennedy colleague called the late senator’s wife this morning.

“For 36 years, I had the privilege of going to work every day… and being a witness to history,” Biden said in an emotional personal statement in Washington. “In that process, every day I was with him, and this is going to sound strange, but he restored my sense of idealism and my faith in the possibilities of what this country can do…. It was infectious… He made everybody he worked with bigger, both his adversaries and his allies…

“He was kind of like an anchor,” said Biden, speaking at length about the personal comfort that Kennedy had lent him during his own personal tragedies, the loss of his wife and child in a car accident early in his Senate career. “It was never about him, it was always about you.

“We will never see the likes of him again,” Biden said.

Quote from here.

When I heard him on the radio just a bit ago, it made me cry.

Rest in peace, Teddy.  You will be missed — already are.

Counting on People Not Remembering

Too bad Michael Berry hasn’t been on the air the past few days or I probably would have a nice little blurb from him about the SCOTUS nominee.  As it stands, all of the hopelessly unelectable Republicans have been playing ‘can you top that’ in their own special ways.

It’s always interesting when people who have a history of saying questionable things attack another for saying one single thing. 

Since I posted yesterday, I see that Tancredo has decided that La Raza is just like the KKK.  Given that I lived in a city with a KKK  ‘office’ in a city that long ignored their Hispanic community when I was growing up, he’s hoping I don’t remember.

He’s hoping that I don’t remember the concerts and music festivals I attended and enjoyed that included La Raza.  He’s hoping that I don’t remember the hateful people I went to high school with who had ni**er shooting permits from the KKK and thought it was funny.  He’s hoping I don’t remember when I was dating a guy whose parents were from Mexico and my mom decided that if we married, none of my future kids would know English.  He’s hoping I for get when my parents claimed that my brother’s girl friend wasn’t really “Spanish” because her mom was white, and so she got mor scholarships than my poor white brother to UT.

Yeah, Tancredo.  La Raza is just like the KKK.

Liddy decided to go the female route and bring in menstration.  This argument is so tired, so wrong and so feeble, it could only come from a dinosaur like him.  That his voice is stronger in the conservative community than others only speaks to their continuing disdain of women.  Seriously look at the unelectable voices out there — dominated by men.  Sure, they have their tokens, but seriously, where is the strong female voice?  Palin?  She’s just trying to pay the bills.  The white men in power probably ruined her career.  What happened to Liddy Dole?  Perry has been trashing Kay B. Hutchisen for a while in his dream to be President of Texas.

Wingnuts made a big deal starting on 9/12/01 that pwoplw would forget 9/11/01.  No one did.  That’s how Bush got reelected in 2004, though looking at what happened after 11/04 would work against the reasoning.

I haven’t forgotten my childhood.  I haven’t forgotten all the times wingnuts were racists.   I haven’t forgotten 9/11.  I haven’t forgotten that Newt ahut down the government over a temper tantrum and I haven’t forgotten that all of the scremers will never put themselves in a position to be elected.

As an end note — it must have massaged Bill Bennett’s ego to have been suggested as a VP last year.

Chilean Ghosts : The Other 9/11

by Roberto

Until that dreadful morning in 2001, September 11th was significant as the
date of another, equally terrible event.  The military coup led by General
Augusto Pinochet, which overthrew the government of Salvador Allende,
began on September 11th, 1973, and plunged Chile into the darkest period
of its history.  As with the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, I will
always remember exactly where I was, and the sickening feeling of
disbelief which I experienced.

I had just begun my first semester at UT Austin, and was in a classroom a
few minutes before 8 a.m., waiting for our Intro to Geography class to
begin.  A student seated a little in front of me was glancing thru The
Daily Texan, the UT student newspaper.  Over her shoulder I read the
headline: Chilean Coup D’Etat – President Allende Dead.

This was of course long before the Internet and I, along with some others,
had to wait until the evening news before I could learn more than what was
skimpily provided in that day’s newspapers.  Even then, standing in a
packed room at the Catholic Student Center, there was little enough in the
way of concrete information and that erratic trickle would go into total
blackout shortly after.  It has taken years for the reality of those first
days, weeks, and months of the Pinochet dictatorship to come to light, and
even longer for the grim facts to sink in.

I first heard the name Salvador Allende in 1963.  My dad was the American
Consul General in the northern Chilean city of Antofagasta (‘large town’
might be more apt, but it seemed a city to me  at six years old big is
big).  Antofagasta is on the Pacific coast, edged in by the great and
ancient Atacama desert.  The posting was then considered what the State
Department calls a ‘hardship post’, not through any danger of disease, or
marauding bandits, or primitive living conditions, but, as my dad was fond
of saying, because ‘the place is as isolated as the dark side of the

The diplomatic community was patchily represented in Antofagasta, unlike
in Santiago the capital, where every nation and its dog had an embassy, or
even Valparaiso, a deep-water port which was vital from a trading point of
view.  By contrast, Antofagasta was a frontier town, and although it was
the largest population center relative to the extremely important copper
mines in the northern swath of the desert, and was also the headquarters
of the Army’s Division del Norte, then, coincidentally, commanded by one
Augusto Pinochet, our lovely town had not a lot to recommend itself on the
world-theater.  Besides my dad, there was a British legation, along with
the consular representatives of Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, and Belgium.
Yugoslavia was also represented in the person of an ‘honorary consul’, who
ran a woman’s dress store and occasionally dropped by our house for a game
of chess.  Incidentally, the term ‘honorary consul’ is universally
considered a more high-falutin’ way of saying that the honoree is someone
who has gone native.  In other words, Yugoslavia’s official representative
had married a Chilean woman, had settled down with a home and a business
and had no earthly intention of returning to Europe.

On the particular day when I first learned about Salvador Allende, my dad
was driving me and my two older sisters out to a site in the Atacama
desert where an astronomical satellite station had been established a few
years earlier.  It was a tiny site, manned by three young Americans from
NASA and occasional colleagues from the Chilean Meteorological Institute,
with visitors from Japan and Australia, among others.
There is a stunning number of stars visible in the skies of the Southern
Hemisphere, far more than are visible in the Northern half, and in the
dead of a cloudless night, out in the flat lunar landscape of the Atacama,
the sky would have been an ocean of brilliance.
My dad was taking the NASA guys a number of care packages, mainly American
snack foods, cigarettes, beer, and, according to my oldest sister, who’d
peeked, several copies of Playboy magazine.  I can’t imagine that Playboy
would have been for sale in any of the local bookstores, nor in the many
kiosks which sold cigarettes, candy, and calendars of the Catholic holy
days.  Had the magazines been sent from Santiago by top-secret diplomatic
pouch?  It’s funny to think so.

My family lived in a house directly behind the Consulate building, two
blocks from the ocean, and so the drive clear across town seemed fairly
long, but exciting since it was something we’d never done before.  Maybe
my dad was trying to keep us from getting bored but as we climbed into the
car he devised a game for us to play as we drove along.  He assigned each
of us the name of one of the three Chilean presidential candidates who
were campaigning in the upcoming election.  My oldest sister called dibs
on Eduardo Frei, leader of the Christian Democrats and considered a
centrist-moderate on the US-model; I was assigned Miguel Lopanzo, a
conservative candidate whose name was regularly and affectionately
mispronounced as ‘Lapanza’, ‘panza’ being slang for stomach or gut,
which fit the man, who was something of a barrel; my other sister got the name
of the candidate for both the Socialist Party and the Worker’s Union
Alliance, Salvador Allende.

As instructed by my dad, we were each to keep count of every poster,
banner, and campaign sign which we saw on our trip across town.  Much to
my oldest sister’s delight, Frei took an early lead as we drove through
the downtown district, but Lopanzo began to catch up in the suburbs.  My
other sister was disappointed but as we drove towards the outskirts of
Antofagasta, through the working class district and on into the poor
neighborhoods, crowded with tiny structures of corrugated tin and
cardboard and tires, the posters for both Frei and Lopanzo disappeared
completely and there was nothing to be seen but the name of Salvador
Allende.  Across a number of facades and power lines one could also see
wordless and imageless red sheets, which, had we asked, could have been
added to my sister’s tally as signs of support.

As we went on into the desert my dad and my sisters had a general
discussion about politics, most of which was far over my crewcut head.  I
do remember my dad telling us that all over the world, poor people didn’t
get much help from their governments, and that was why they relied on the
Church and also why they often looked to the Socialists and even the
Communists for hope.

I knew my parents had voted for John Kennedy and they had taken us to see
him speak at an open-air auditorium in Caracas, Venezuela, during the
goodwill tour of Latin America shortly after he was elected.  Beyond that,
I was a truly empty vessel, with a child’s unwavering allegiance to Texas
(where my dad was from and where my aunts and uncles and grandmother lived),
to Poland (where my mom had been born), to England (because I was in the 2nd
grade at the Antofagasta British School and we sang ‘God Save The Queen’
each morning before class), and to Chile (because that’s where we lived and
where our cats and stuff stayed).

On a deeper level my dad’s personal politics were very much out of the
classic Kennedy mold.  Quite liberal on the social issues of the day:
civil rights for Blacks in the American South; strong labor unions,
hopefully corruption-free; a deep and mocking distrust of Big Business.
He could be especially sarcastic about the advertising industry (and not
just the American version) and would comment rhetorically about radio or
TV commercials: ‘What exactly are they trying to sell me?  Happiness and
good looks or a washing machine?  Eternal youth or Coca-Cola?”  But his
true love and interest was in the world of international affairs.  and
there he was a prime example of the Cold Warrior wing of the Democratic
Party.  He believed that it was the moral duty of the United States to
fight Communism throughout the unaligned Third World.  In later years he
and I would have long and unresolved arguments about the monstrous nature
of many of the regimes the US supported, simply because they toed the line
of ‘better dead than Red’.  By the same token, he was extremely conscious
of the American tendency to cross the line from patriotism into fascism,
and was moved by the wistfulness of some of his older colleagues who had
lived through the Red Scare years of the early 50s, shortly before he
himself joined the Foreign Service.  These older officers had witnessed
the hounding out of many brilliant fellow civil servants from the State
Department, including some of the most astute scholars of both the Soviet
Union and China.  This anti-intellectual streak which had always been a
boasted-upon hallmark of the Republican Party was something which
profoundly disgusted him.  He was as familiar with the writings of Marx
and Lenin and Fanon and Guevara as some atheists are with the Bible.  How
else does one learn to know one’s enemy?

Allende lost the election of 1964 to Eduardo Frei but won in 1970.  His
was not the first socialist government to be democratically elected in
Latin America (if one counts the Mexican government under Lazaro Cardenas
in the late 1930s), nor was Allende’s regime the first to be overthrown
with US-supported brutality.  That dubious distinction goes to Dr. Jacobo
Arbenz, president of Guatemala until his ouster in 1954, in an action that
had less to do with Guatemala than with the CIA’s desire to test various
theories of media deception, crowd control, and infrastructure sabotage.
In a perversely similar pattern, disciples of free-market fanatic Milton
Friedman, the so-called ‘Chicago Boys’, would descend on Chile at the
invitation of General Pinochet and the military dictatorship, in order to
use the prostrate and cowed population of Chile as their own little
laboratory, testing out the more radical aspects of a capitalist ‘shock’
economy, without the annoying distraction of having to listen to the
unhappy voices of the many who fell to the margins or through the cracks
into poverty.

Until that September day in 1973, Chileans had proudly held up their
history as a civilized alternative to what happened in neighboring
countries.  A military coup was something that one expected from
Argentina, or Peru, or Bolivia.  But in Chile?  It was unthinkable.

And so, on each September 11th, from now until the day I die, I will
remember two tragedies.  The one that was televised for all the astonished
world to see and the one that happened at the other end of our shared
hemisphere, when one country which I love betrayed another, smaller and
humbler country, which I also love.


There were two parades here in Houston today, one in the morning downtown and on this afternoon on Allen Parkway.  The two sponsoring groups had disputed which one should get the parade permit in the past, but solved it between themselves.  Nevertheless, one of the wingnut radio station here has as their ‘Question of the Day’:  Do you think Dr. King would approve of the annual fight between the two groups that hold MLK day parades in Houston?  Stupid loaded question.  This is the same station that has two hours of Joe Pags yammering on in ignorance, saying, as a man in his 40’s, that he doesn’t remember what the problem with establishing the holiday was.  And it sounds like the stupid will continue when Michael Berry gets his turn at 5:00.

Of course, I braced myself for the stupid first thing this morning by reading Letter from Birmingham Jail.  (There is a link to the pdf file on that Wiki page.)

Also, Sean Hannity bragged on his show today that he is basically the permanent MC of the MLK Day dinner of CORE(Congress of Racial Equality).  I’ve heard Hannity berate Barack Obama because the pastor of his church has a publication which gave an award to Luis Farrakhan.  Well, it looks like Hannity’s friends at COREsupported Idi Amin and gave him a lifetime membership.  But no one will ever get to ask Hannity about that.


Since I started this blog toward the end of September a year ago, I haven’t written a post about September 11, 2001, and since I know tomorrow will be a busy day, I thought I write about the anniversary tonight instead.

I go to sleep with the radio on and leave it on while I get ready for work.  Back then, I usually listened to the news station, 740 AM.  I never watched (nor do I now) any of the morning shows on tv.  I was almost out the door when I heard the first report and ran to turn the tv on.  I’ll never forget what I saw — the live footage of the second plane crashing into the World Trade center.  Despite the number of sites that I have visited since which exploit those images, that initial memory is what remains for me.

It was our first day of classes and I had to go to work.  When I got there, everyone was upset, but we knew as teachers that we had to stay calm.  I teach international students, and since it was the first fall term, we had many students who had just recently arrived in the U.S., including a good number from Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria.  One thing in particular helped — many of them didn’t know what had happened (not being connected to the news as yet) and so the teachers were able to inform them in a way that would reduce their anxiety.

We checked the news online between classes and as the day when on, I started worrying about a friend of mine who worked at the World Trade Center.  It wasn’t until much later in the day that I found out third or fourth-hand that he had been late to work.  And he was safe.

For the following week or more, I taught my classes each day and then came home and cried as I watched the news reports each night.  There was a nasty rumor spread by a nasty woman that all of our Muslim students boycotted our classes.  To this day, the woman doesn’t understand why I shun her every time she comes around. 

Our students were perfect.  Many came to talk and say that they stood with us.  My email inbox was flooded with worried mail from former students.  Later, I got pictures from many of them of the tributes in front of their respective country’s embassies. 

As for me, tomorrow I think I will stay quiet and remember on my own.  It’s as I have always done.  I’ll never forget.