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Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.

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28 July 2010

Portions Of SB1070 Blocked

by: Foiled Goil

Judge Susan Bolton has blocked key portions of Arizona's SB1070 immigration law.

Details on the ruling are available at Crooks and Liars, and TPM.

31 May 2009

Like I Wrote About Three Years Ago:

by: Peter of Lone Tree

"The wall along the Mexican border is to keep us IN as much as it is to keep others out."

"New rules requiring passports or new high-tech documents to cross the United States' northern and southern borders are taking effect Monday, as some rue the tightening of security and others hail it as long overdue.

"The rules are being implemented nearly eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks and long after the 9/11 Commission recommended the changes. They were delayed by complaints from state officials who worried the restrictions would hinder the flow of people and commerce and affect border towns dependent on international crossings."

The rest of the article is from the AP ("Always Progressive?" or "Arrogantly Presumptuous?") article entitled New ID rules begin June 1 for Mexico, Canada trips. The rest of the story however, may be investigated by first viewing a YouTube documentary entitled THE COMING AMERICAN HOLOCAUST wherein the narrator makes the claim that there are presently 180 "detention centers" or "prisons" or "concentration camps" or "communication management units" in the United States. Why so many names? Well, you see, I'm not as good as an Administration Attorney at misleading word play but I kinda hold my own when it comes to figuring out when somebody's trying to bullshit me; and those are just some of the terms I've heard used to describe these "facilities."

A little more study on this ominous business can be derived from "searching" the term "REX 84."

Maybe I'll have more on this subject later after I have a look at the Prison Planet website.
16 May 2009

The Resurrection of the Hitler Youth

by: Peter of Lone Tree

NY Times:
Explorer Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More
Refer to "Holy Joe" of course for the real details.
"IMPERIAL, Calif. — Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.

"The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.

"It is all quite a step up from the square knot.

"The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters."

29 March 2009

The Other Side Of The Argument

by: Debra

I received this email from someone I didn't think I was ever going to hear from again and who I thought was fairly liberal so they must have sent me this knowing that I would have to comment. My thoughts are the ones in parentheses.
This is TOO good! (Not really, it's a pretty sad state of affairs.)

5 million of our older Americans have not signed up yet for their Medicare Part D, drug plan------they are old and confused. (Once again, not really. The plans are the ones confused and in the long run do nothing to help the elderly afford the medicines that they need but can't afford because the rent is due and food prices have gone up tremendously.) We are NOT going to grant them an extension.  (Yup, because that's how we roll, only the IRS has extensions.)

However, 25 million illegal aliens (according to Native Indians that number is closer to 300 million) are in our country and we are going to allow (who died and crowned us king?) them to stay (just like our ancestors), protest (the First Amendment applies to everyone or are we going to have to show our papers every time we speak?), procreate (can we say hypocritical? For a biblical nation some people certainly do like to cherry pick what parts they want to use and when), receive support monies (mainly from nonprofits, churches and other people who think that trying to help someone change their life for the better is important and until recently that place was America. Besides, have you ever tried to jump through all the hoops to get those monies? It isn't for the faint of heart and the documentation required is pretty extensive), attend schools (isn't educating the young a good thing? They wouldn't need government money to support them in adulthood because they would have jobs and could pay taxes), avoid paying income taxes (no they don't, taxes are taken out of their paychecks just like yours and mine, they just can't file for refunds at the end of the year because they might get caught. Which means that they pay more taxes than some who were born here), have our teachers take 300 hours of ESL (English as a Second Language) training at our expense, etc. (The world country is becoming more diverse by the minute. Many professions have to take continuing education classes. Why not teachers? Or are only English speaking people and their children allowed to emigrate here?)

WE MUST REALLY DISLIKE OUR OLD PEOPLE...... OR WE MUST REALLY LOVE TACOS!!! (Now we get to the heart of the problem. Yes, we do disrespect our old people, ever since the sixties being old has been synonymous with useless. And we do love our tacos, burritos, falafels, french fries, chow mein, fried rice, goulash, lasagna, etc. Or do you mean that only Hispanics are illegal aliens?)

If it ticks you off, pass it on!! (Oh it did that but not the way I'm sure you it was meant.) Don't forget to pay your taxes......(unless you're rich or a corporation) 12 million illegal aliens are depending on you. (I'm confused. Which is it, 25 or 12 million? Or is that the only objection are to those of Hispanic descent?)
Well, that was fun.


27 May 2008

I Sometimes Hate to Be Right

by: Minstrel Boy

Back in November I wrote a post about The National Pretend Crisis about immigration, and the negative impacts the Homeland Security Department has been having on the economy and culture of the border down here.

One of the things I predicted was:

The laws that have made crossing the border more difficult have not even begun to stem this human tide. They have enriched the coyotes (pronounced COY-oh-tay) who smuggle them. Fees for being guided across have gone up over 300% in the last two years. The first effect of further clamping down border access will be to make these vile and vicious criminals far richer. They will also be certain to spend some of this new found wealth on bribing Customs and Border Patrol Agents. That's what the drug smugglers did, that's what the rum runners did during prohibition.

I did not feel proud, or the least bit vindicated to read this in today's New York Times.

An excerpt from the article:

When the Homeland Security Department was created in 2003, the internal affairs unit was dissolved and its functions spread among other agencies. Since the unit was reborn last year, it has grown from five investigators to a projected 200 by the end of the year.

So, they first transfered an entire department into a newly created cabinet department (the largest expansion in the size and scope of government in the history of the United States) and one of the first things they did was to dissolve the internal affairs division. In a very Stalinesque way that makes sense. If you're worried about the adverse publicity that is brought on by cases of corruption the simple fix is to not bring any cases of corruption into the light. Just like Uncle Joe said all those years ago, "Problem person? One bullet, one grave, no problem."

Sadly, it not only the brand new officers that have been sloppily recruited and rushed into service that are falling prey to the enticements of the smugglers. It is officers with 15, 16, even 25 years of service.

The increases in border security have brought about many changes. Just not any of the ones that were intended.

Heck of a job Chertoff! You Skeletor Looking Motherfucker.

el rancho harpo
25 September 2007

Why Not Pass a Law Banning Customers

by: Konagod

Last week, the town of Riverside, NJ rescinded an ordinance that penalized anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant.

And surprise! It was because businesses suffered after the ordinance was passed.
Within months, hundreds, if not thousands, of recent immigrants from Brazil and other Latin American countries had fled. The noise, crowding and traffic that had accompanied their arrival over the past decade abated.

The law had worked. Perhaps, some said, too well.

With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.


“I don’t think people knew there would be such an economic burden,” said Mayor George Conard, who voted for the original ordinance. “A lot of people did not look three years out.”

I think if you can't look 3 years out as well as expecting the obvious outcome from passing an ordinance such as this, perhaps you don't deserve to be mayor.

16 March 2007

Shut Up Tomato Gravy

by: Missouri Mule

Now, I"m fairly certain that all of us who've grown up in this country have, for as long as we can remember, heard the old saying, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." But as we all know, if their mamas can cook, you gotta give them more than biscuits and gravy and well, you know, to keep'em happy and at home where they belong. I read with interest the story of a foreign born housekeeper who was summarily discharged from her position when a concealed camera revealed that she was boiling her previously worn underwear in the master's soup pot. ( I can see how she may have gotten this idea: I mean, have you ever gone with a guy who didn't, at some point in the relationship, put your panties on his head? Why, oh why, do they do this? It should be on Unsolved Mysteries.) But back to our little cook.....ahhh, it didn't work out at all like she planned, and now she's out of a job with a pretty large black mark on the ole' resume.

I'd say you'd probably be better off getting fired for stealing the guy's car than for boiling your underwear in his soup. I'm just not seeing any way to spin this into something positive. For future reference, if you are giving serious consideration to an on-the-job activity equal to or greater than boiling your underwear in your boss's soup to make him love you, stop and ask yourself the Three P's. Is is possible? For example: Is there a man on the planet anywhere who would be rendered hot for you as a result of eating underwear soup? Is it prudent? I mean, really, is this guy even worth the risk of screwing up a whole pot of perfectly good soup and landing you in the unemployment and/or deportation line, plus dying all your underwear tomato red, which doesn't even look good on you anyway, and you can't afford to buy more because you ain't got a job?!? Is it proven? Do you know anybody who's had good results from this?

If you'll stop and go through this simple drill, I think you could make him a pot of stew without underwear, and you could serve it to him......also without underwear. I'm thinking he'll go for it. But if you are still absolutely committed to cooking your underwear in something, I'd suggest using a pair of panties as a coffee filter. You'll save money on filters, of course, you'll ruin one pair, and your risk of getting caught is drastically reduced, because there's not a married man alive who ever empties the filter basket on the coffee maker.

Long Suffering is insisting that I give you this recipe, and he, in true suffering style, is relentless, and so fine, here it is. Long Suffering's Shut up Tomato Gravy:

Cook Sausage patties in a black iron skillet till done, obviously. Then remove the sausage and put it on some paper towels to blot up some of the grease. Drain the grease out of the skillet, leaving only enough to coat the bottom, add a handful of flour to the grease and cook it, stirring all the time, till it turns brown; then add about a cup of milk to the browned flour and stir it until the lumps are gone and it's thick. Then add a small can of R-Tel tomatoes., drained, stir until it's the consistency you want, crumble up the sausage and add it to all that------then spoon it over biscuits that you already made and turn around and slap the person next to you on account of it's so good, you just have to slap somebody.
26 October 2006

Fence Bill Signed by Bush

by: Konagod

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photo is a representation only; actual fence will likely be less attractive and offer equal security.

In what is likely to be another financial boondoggle with little benefit, the Shrublet signed a bill today authorizing 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican border. Although the cost to construct the fence is unknown, we do know the $1.2 billion "down-payment" was included in a homeland security bill signed earlier this month by Bush. The bill signed today doesn't actually authorize any money for the project.

This may represent the last of the feeble attempts by our stupid and incompetent leader to demonstrate the strength and resolve of the Republican party in the face of global terrorism -- or in the face of brown-skinned people sneaking across the border illegally.
"A fence will slow people down by a minute or two, but if you don't have the agents to stop them it does no good. We're not talking about some impenetrable barrier," T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing Border Patrol agents, said Wednesday.

It's official. The President of the United States is, quite simply, an ass.
22 October 2006

Swedish Muslim Chided as "Islamophobe" for Opposing Veil

by: Konagod

Some interesting political news from Sweden via the TimesOnline:
The latest media darling of Scandinavian politics is not only black, beautiful and Muslim; she is also firmly against the wearing of the veil.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Nyamko Sabuni, 37, has caused a storm as Sweden’s new integration and equality minister by arguing that all girls should be checked for evidence of female circumcision; arranged marriages should be criminalised; religious schools should receive no state funding; and immigrants should learn Swedish and find a job.

Supporters of the centre-right government that came to power last month believe that her bold rejection of cultural diversity may make her a force for change across Europe. Her critics are calling her a hardliner and even an Islamophobe.

“I am neither,” she said in an interview. “My aim is to integrate immigrants. One is to ensure they grow up just as any other child in Sweden would.”

Sabuni also clearly has an interest in becoming Sweden's prime minister and may have that opportunity should the current government fall.
Anders Jonsson, a political commentator on the liberal newspaper Expressen, says there is no doubt Sabuni is one to watch. “She is a tough cookie and incredibly ambitious,” he said. “But I think it’s good that a black woman is raising these issues and she has proved that she is prepared to take tough decisions in order to get things done.”

02 October 2006

Muslim Integration into Western Cultures

by: Konagod

One of my goals as a blogger is to occasionally step away from my comfort zone and tackle an issue with unclear answers. It's a strenuous and soul-searching excercise which often leaves me only slightly less-confused than when I began. Such is the case with immigration -- particularly immigrants who are Muslim. Clearly, many Muslims -- especially women -- have come to the U.S. and other western nations to escape religious persecution. Others come here steadfastly clingling to their religious beliefs from which others seek to escape.

I have been grappling with this issue for a long time -- at least since the murder of Theo Van Gogh in Holland over his film critical of the treatment of women under Islam. Just how much responsibility do immigrants have to acclimate themselves into a vastly different culture from whence they came -- especially if that culture is accustomed to being free to speak out about religious injustices?

If I were to move to Spain or Mexico (depending on the outcome of the 2008 elections) I would certainly make an effort to become a viable part of the culture I was living in, including speaking the language of those with whom I live. However, I would not become a Catholic or adopt the official state religion of whatever country I decided to inhabit. I would continue to maintain my own belief system even if it ran contrary to the official government position. And that's where things can -- and have -- gotten rather sticky.

Let's discuss the influx of immigrants who are Muslim and what responsibility they bear for assimilation, if any. I am certainly not advocating that we restrict Muslim immigrants; we are (the last time I checked) a nation where people are free to practice their religions beliefs (with a few exceptions) and I welcome anyone to our shores who seeks a better life for themselves and their families.

I read a short blurb in the New York Times recently about Muslim taxi drivers serving the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and refusing to provide service to those who were carrying liquor. Here's a link to the story in the Minneapolis StarTribune.

About three-quarters of the 900 taxi drivers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are Somalis, many of them Muslim. And about three times each day, would-be customers are refused taxi service when a driver sees they're carrying alcohol.

"It's become a significant customer-service issue," said Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, on Thursday.
The airports commission has devised a plan to utilize color-coded lights on the taxis which refuse service to those carrying alcohol. This is rather admirable given most Americans' knee-jerk reaction to immigrants with different ways and beliefs. Even I was initially angry until I analyzed the information.

There was a time in my early adulthood when my views on alcohol were not so different from Muslim beliefs. The color-coded lights may very well solve the issue. The immigrants will not risk losing a much-needed source of income (although they may lose a few fares) nor will they be required to sacrifice an important religious belief.
Alcohol is a serious concern for devout Muslims, said Hassan Mohamud, an imam and vice president of the society. The Qur'an, Islam's holy book, strictly forbids buying, selling, drinking or carrying alcohol.

The observant drivers object only to transporting openly displayed alcohol, said Ali Culed, a Somali Muslim who's been driving an airport cab for eight years. They won't search passengers or quiz them about what's in their bags.
Fair enough. While I may not agree with someone else's religious beliefs I respect their right to believe what they wish and to practice their religion peacefully. It's not as if the taxi drivers are threatening to chop off my hand which holds the shot glass. What does continue to disturb me is the propensity for violent flare-ups by people (of any religion) who think their beliefs trump the law, as with the murder of Theo Van Gogh in Holland. We also witnessed the violent uproar over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark, and most recently, the Pope's inflammatory comments about Islam as well as the cancellation of the Mozart opera Idomeneo by the Deutsche Opera in Berlin due to "incalculable" security risks. (Read what Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald has to say.)

What is important to remember, and I sincerely hope this is factual, is that people prone to violent outbursts are minority extremists rather than a majority. We don't (or shouldn't) judge all Christians based on the behavior of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church clan. I frequently see Muslims around Austin. I don't freak out by a woman in a hijab or a burqa. I don't fear for my life and honestly, I don't care what people wear (unless it's that Greg Norman golf attire crap coupled with an overuse of shitty cologne which can send me into a projectile vomiting frenzy).

Much of the problem is due to stereotypes and reactions by extremely vocal (usually right-wing) groups who feel threatened by an influx of people adhering to what they perceive to be a strange religion.

Many Europeans nations are undergoing what I'd consider to be an immigration cultural crisis related to Muslims who number at least 4% in many nations. Germany has 3+ million Muslims representing about 4% of the total population, and clearly problems are brewing which urgently need to be addressed. France has also been busy dealing (ineffectively) with its huge Muslim population which numbers between 8% and 10%.
...the growth of the [Muslim] community has challenged the French ideal of strict separation of religion and public life. There has been criticism that Muslims face high unemployment and often live in poor suburbs. A ban on religious symbols in public schools provoked a major national row as it was widely regarded as being a ban on the Islamic headscarf. Late 2005 saw widespread and prolonged rioting among mainly immigrant communities across France.
The BBC has an excellent summary of Muslims in Europe by country from which the above excerpt and the following map were taken:

Muslim Populations in European Countries

There is widespread disagreement over the number of Muslims living in the United States and the census bureau does not track religious affiliation. The number is likely to be between 3 million and 9 million. In either case, the percentage of Muslims is somewhat less than in many western European nations.

There are far fewer Muslims in Canada. According to Wikipedia, as of 2001, there were 580,000 Muslims in Canada, about 1.8 percent of Canada's population. That number has probably doubled in the last 5 years. Many Muslim immigrants to North America have chosen Canada rather than the U.S. due to a spike in anti-Muslim attitudes post 9/11.

The last couple of years have seen a great deal of controversy in Canada after the province of Ontario decided to allow the use of Shariah to settle disputes among the Muslim population. More here.
The province of Ontario decided recently that it would allow the use of Shariah (Islamic law) to settle family disputes among Canadian Muslims. The decision – which in September came after a year long raging controversy – has done little to absolve the social conflict in the Canadian Muslim community. It has also further widened the rift between those who follow Shariah and those who oppose it.

[Some] say that by not making Shariah legal, Ontario has helped helpless Muslim women from being abused by their partners in the name of religion.

One of the major concerns of people critical of Shariah law is that it is subject to interpretation and evolution. There is virtually no formal certification process to designate someone as being qualified to interpret Islamic law.

As it stands today, almost anyone can make rulings as long as they have the appearance of piety and a group of followers.
The Progressive Muslim Union of North America is one group opposed to the use of religious laws tailored for specific groups.

Update: Thanks to Chet Scoville for this link: Ontario subsequently passed a law to prohibit shariah.

I can't imagine very many immigrants coming to the U.S., Canada, or any other secular nation, and having no idea what they are getting themselves into. We supposedly have a free and open society. Western morals are definitely more relaxed than in many parts of the world and virtually all immigrants are aware of this. The fact that Muslim immigrants still seek a new life on our shores indicates a willingness to, at the very least, co-exist with those who have starkly different belief systems.

Will the U.S. and Canada successfully avoid the cultural crises we're seeing unfold in Europe? We should observe the situation there closely. But knowing how Americans have handled our own internal cultural battles over the past decade, I have my doubts that we're capable of handling a much bigger genuine crisis.

As with any other group, it is impossible to categorize all Muslims into one simple box. As we can see in Canada, there are Muslims in favor of Shariah and some adamantly opposed to it. As with any other complex issue, our first responsibility is to educate ourselves with regard to the religion of Islam and get to know those who are here. Otherwise, an intelligent solution to the issues confronting us will never be achieved.

Whatever allure America presents for immigrants around the world, including Muslims, is hopefully the same allure that makes those of us lucky enough to have been born here proud to have it, and proud to share it with newcomers. How we'll deal with issues of religious differences remains to be seen.

Any comments are appreciated. I'm not lecturing and I do not have all the facts or all the answers. I bring this up to explore.

crossposted at konagod
22 September 2006

Borders are a pain in the butt

by: Konagod

Take a look at these three rivers.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Aren't they all beautiful? I've always loved rivers. I've also always been impressed by the fact that you can cross some rivers and be in another state (political boundary). Or another country (political boundary). However, it is illegal to cross one of the rivers pictured (I won't tell you whether it's A, B, or C) . You must cross at an approved facility and have your paperwork in order. The white man says so.

Sometimes, I confess, I despise boundaries.

You know those brown skinned people who keep trying to cross our border and we call them illegal immigrants?

Well. Let me set the record straight. We white people are the immigrants. And we black people, for the most part, are the (involuntary) immigrants.

That little river down there we call a "border?" That little stream was never a "border" until whitey arrived. Prior to us, that was just another river, not unlike the Little Missouri.

Suddenly the white man made it a border with his artificial boundaries and now everyone sneaking across it, as well as the "line" across the deserts of California, Arizona, and New Mexico) has been declared an "illegal immigrant."

I am the descendant of illegal immigrants.



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