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This has been one of the most highly charged and controversial election years in recent memory.

However, all is calm in State Assembly District 56, which includes Imperial County and much of the Eastern Coachella Valley. That’s the realm of Democratic State Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, who is facing no formal opposition for a second two-year term.

In 2015, Garcia reportedly made history by becoming the most successful freshman California assemblymember ever: The Democrat authored or co-authored 14 bills and two resolutions that were signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Independent recently chatted with Garcia about his first term, as well as his plans for his second.

What would you identify as the highlights of your legislative accomplishments to date?

There were a couple of different things. There were some environmental bills. Assembly Bill 1059 was introduced by our office, but it was an idea that came from a local organization. That’s an important bill for a place like Imperial County, which suffers from some of the highest asthma rates among children because of poor air quality. It became effective this year, and it is going to put air-monitoring systems along the California-Mexico border to begin quantifying and collecting the necessary data to make the case that there are emissions along the border that are in excess of safe levels. Because of border-crossing wait times due to a lack of infrastructure, those living in this region are subjected to this poor quality of air. Although this bill doesn’t address those problems directly, it positions this region to go after greenhouse-gas-reduction funds through the Air Resources Board of California.

In the East (Coachella) Valley, a bill that stands out to me is adopting the new regulations for the purpose of installing new water-filtration systems in the rural parts of the district that do not have centralized water and sewer infrastructure. These filtration systems protect people from consuming contaminated water. In this case, it’s water with high levels of arsenic.

Jumping back to Imperial County, we passed AB 1095, the Salton Sea projects. The bill required the Natural Resources Agency to report to the Legislature by March of this year a list of shovel-ready projects that are now going to be part of the execution of the $80.5 million in funds that we successfully included in this year’s state budget.

How do you feel about whether real tangible progress is being made to improve the fate of the Salton Sea, and remedy, or at least mitigate, the dangers its dissipation would pose?

I feel good, because through our legislation, we outlined what the shovel-ready projects are, and I feel good because now there’s some money available to be able to execute those projects. Also, I feel very optimistic about the state’s commitment moving forward, because $80.5 million has been allocated. But, look: For the first time, the state of California has committed a significant amount of money to a problem in our region, in this case the Salton Sea, so there’s a lot of optimism. But there’s still work to be done, and for some of us, it’s not happening fast enough. So now our message is beginning to change, from, “We don’t know what’s going to happen,” to, “Here’s what’s going to happen over the course of the next five to six years.”

What issues and challenges concern you the most during the remainder of this term, and looking ahead into your second term?

This year, we’ve got some tough bills that ask for money. I can tell you that our parks bond, asking for $3.2 billion, is probably going to be a heavy lift for the governor to sign. He’s not a big fan of going out and borrowing money, even if the return on the investment is good. But I’m confident that the bill will get through the legislative process.

For us in the 56th Assembly District, the bill has about $45 million that will go directly to programs, projects and services in our area. One example is that there is a direct allocation of an additional $25 million to the Salton Sea restoration efforts that would be very welcome. There’s another $5-$6 million that is going into the restoration of the New River. … That’s in the final stages of executing a strategic plan to develop the infrastructure to clean up the water and ultimately to develop a parkway in the city of Calexico, which would be beneficial to the entire Imperial County. Also, there’s $10 million for the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy to address their land acquisitions for the purpose of habitat conservation in the Coachella Valley. We’re going to keep our push going over the next couple of weeks as it makes its way through the Senate. It’s a two-thirds bill, and it required me to get a few votes from Republicans to get out of the Assembly and move to the Senate. We’ve got the backing of six Republican assembly members, which is unheard of. So we have a reputation in Sacramento thus far of collaboration and (taking) a bipartisan approach, and I think that, too, has helped us.”

What are your thoughts about the famous proposed Donald Trump wall between Mexico and the United States?

Mexico is a very important economic partner to the state of California and to our nation. Mexico is also an extremely important partner in the case of our national security. Our relationship with Mexico can determine the safety and well-being of this country. For those concerned with terrorists from other parts of the world entering the United States, I would think that our foreign policy with our neighbors to the south and our neighbors to the north would be one of cooperation, collaboration and good communication, to ensure that we all have each other’s backs. So I think it’s really ridiculous to try to continue the rhetoric of alienating our neighbors to the south. Our foreign policy needs to be a constructive and productive one with our neighbors to the south—and building a wall does not get us to that point.

Published in Politics

On this week's completely non-plagiarized weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World looks at the Donald Trump news cycle; Jen Sorenson is relieved at what she sees regarding the new Ghostbusters; The K Chronicles has an encounter with a friendly kitty; and Red Meat talks politics.

Published in Comics

As the GOP geared up for its national convention in Cleveland, Republican delegates decided what would be included in the official party platform—and amid wildly inaccurate and unproven claims, cannabis reform was rejected.

Some of the anti-cannabis arguments were some real gems, including claims that mass murderers are all pot-smokers, and that there are links between marijuana and current heroin- and opioids-addiction epidemics. Seriously.

In fairness to the GOP, some delegates fought to get medical marijuana endorsed by the Republicans. “It’s not like we’re talking about Cheech and Chong here, folks. We’re talking about allowing people with debilitating conditions to ease their suffering,” Maryland delegate Ben Marchi said, according to HuffingtonPost.com. Alas, arguments like those given by Marchi weren’t enough to extricate the collective GOP delegate heads from their sandy hiding places: The measure was defeated on the second vote.

Then there’s Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee. In keeping with the GOP’s complete disregard for the will and welfare of the people, Pence was tapped to join Donald Trump on what will hopefully be a disastrous presidential ticket for the GOP.

The nut, in a nutshell:

• Indiana is the home of some of the harshest marijuana laws in the United States. Possession of even a small amount of cannabis is still punishable by 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine under the Pence administration.

• A proponent of the disastrous and failed War on Drugs, Pence still clings to the repeatedly disproven theory that cannabis is a gateway drug. He referred to it as such in a 2012 gubernatorial debate, and went on to say: “I would not support the decriminalization of marijuana. I’ve seen too many people become involved with marijuana and get sidetracked. We need to get more serious about confronting the scourge of drugs.”

• In 2013, Indiana House Bill 1006 would have revised Indiana’s criminal code—including a reduction in punishment for marijuana charges. However, Pence refused to sign the bill until the clause was dropped, and cannabis was reclassified up to a Class B misdemeanor. This was in direct opposition to the will of Indiana voters: Just a few months before HB 1006’s passage, a Howey/DePauw poll asked the state’s voters: “Currently it is a misdemeanor crime in Indiana to possess a small amount of marijuana. The legislature may consider making it an infraction rather than a crime to possess a small amount of marijuana. Do you favor or oppose making possession of a small amount of marijuana an infraction rather than a crime?” Poll respondents favored decriminalization by a margin of 54 percent to 37 percent.

So much for democracy.

Trump himself has been all over the place on this issue, saying in 1990 that recreational use should be legalized, and that the tax revenue should be used for drug education. Since his run for president kicked off, he’s moved a bit to the right, saying in October of last year to the Washington Post: “Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen—right? Don’t we agree? ... And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.” This seems like a pretty reasonable position to most Americans, including many Republicans.

What influence Pence will have on The Donald’s platform remains to be seen—but you can bet it won’t be favorable to the plant. If the GOP slate is elected, the results could be disastrous for the legalization movement.


On the Bright Side

Colorado is set to reach $1 billion in cannabis sales in 2016. This is not only great news for the cannabis industry; it’s great news for the state’s coffers. In addition to the 2.9 percent sales tax in the state, Colorado collects an additional 10 percent sales tax on cannabis and a 15 percent excise tax that is designated for school construction.

The population of Colorado is a little more than 5.4 million, and the state is doing a billion a year in cannabis sales. Try to imagine what those figures will be in California when recreational use becomes legal. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 15.09 percent of Colorado residents use cannabis. That’s around 814,860 tokers. Compare that to the 12.88 percent of California’s 39,144,818 residents who light up—a total of 5,041,852 Golden State smokers. There are 1,623 dispensaries registered with the California Board of Equalization. In 2014, California medical-marijuana dispensaries reported $570 million in taxable income. That meant $49.5 million in taxes paid to the state, and recreational use is still to come.

Any way you pose it, California has a huge financial boon coming with legalization.


A Dose of Irony From Coalinga

The Claremont Custody Center in the Central California city of Coalinga had a capacity of more than 500 state inmates until it was shuttered by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2011, and has been sitting unused since.

Now Ocean Grown Extracts has struck a deal with the city to purchase the former prison for $4.1 million. (Timely, since the city is $3.8 million in debt.) The plan is to convert the former prison into a marijuana-extracts production center.

“It’s like the Grateful Dead said: ‘What a long, strange trip it’s been,’” Coalinga Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Keough said to The Fresno Bee after he and council members approved the plan in a 4-1 vote. “We listened to the citizens and created a package that was reflective of our population.”

The re-purposed building will be a natural fit for a business that requires strict security and 24-hour surveillance. The new facility is expected to bring 100 new jobs to the town.

Published in Cannabis in the CV

Before Mike Pence was bestowed the responsibility of being governor of Indiana in 2013, he served six terms in Congress, from 2001-2013.

As the head of the state of Indiana, his political viewpoints have been blindly thrown onto the state within the past few years. (Most notable was his championing of a controversial “religious objections” bill in 2015 that would have allowed discrimination against LGBT individuals.) However, his congressional record contains even more information about his views—and now that Pence is Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick, it’s a good time to take a look at exactly who Mike Pence is, and how he’s voted.

As a Republican member of Congress, Pence strongly opposed the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and worked to decrease tax hikes. He worked to strongly limit reproductive rights, advocated for conservatism in traditional marriage, voted no on government bailouts and stimulus packages, and voted no for additional federal funding for education, among many other things.

During his time in Congress, Pence worked hard to push a far-right agenda and was known to frequently bring his religious agenda into his political positions.

Regarding marriage, at the 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference, Pence said: “The future of conservatism demands that we stand for the traditional definition of marriage. Marriage was ordained by God and instituted in law. It is the glue of the American family and the safest harbor to raise children. Conservatives must defend traditional marriage by passing the Federal Marriage Amendment.”

Pence voted yes on a constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage illegal, no on a prohibition of job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and no on enforcing laws against anti-gay hate crimes. The Human Rights Campaign has given him a 0 percent rating due to his anti-gay-rights stances.

Time and again, Pence voted against measures to increase government funding for those living in poverty and on welfare. He voted against providing additional funding for Section 8 Vouchers, increasing the minimum wage, expanding Medicare, expanding State Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility and funding, and $84 million in grants for colleges where the majority of the student population lives below the poverty line.

Environmentally, Pence’s congressional track record leans far to the right as well. He strongly opposed replacing coal and oil with alternatives, and opposes Environmental Protection Agency regulations of greenhouse gases. Pence voted no on tax incentives for renewable energy, yes on the authorization of the construction of new oil refineries, and yes on the drilling of the outer continental shelf.

On the issue of immigration, Pence worked in Congress to end birthright citizenship, championing a proposal that aimed to deny children automatic citizenship if they were born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant parents. He also supported an effort to build a fence on the Mexican border. He voted yes on reporting aliens who receive hospital treatment.

Pence is a big advocate for Second Amendment rights and has been given the grade of an A+ by the NRA.

Meanwhile, Mike Pence has a 7 percent rating from the American Civil Liberties Union and a 22 percent rating by the NAACP.

How well do Trump and Pence go together? This statement from Pence says it all: “More than anything else, let me be clear: We need to be willing to fight for freedom, and free markets, and traditional moral values. That’s what the American people want to see this movement and this party return to.”

No one can sum up Mike Pence other than himself: “I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”

This piece originally appeared in NUVO, the alternative newsweekly in Indianapolis.

Published in Politics

On this week's utterly baffled weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson shakes her head at all of the recent shootings; The K Chronicles looks at how the sausage is made in America; This Modern World bemoans the end of humanity; and Red Meat gets ready for Halloween eggings.

Published in Comics

You feel it in your gut—that uncomfortable feeling of being stereotyped. A prejudicial belief that people with a particular characteristic—race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, etc.—are all the same means we don’t have to recognize others as individuals. It’s the ultimate guilt by association.

I was about 12 when it first happened to me. I used to pick up the evening newspaper for my dad every day at the guard shack at the old MGM Studios in Culver City. The guard and I had gotten friendly and exchanged pleasantries each day. One day, when my Culver City High School was slated to play a football game that evening against our arch rivals, Beverly Hills, the guard asked me if I was going to the game.

“I can’t go this time, but I hope our team wins,” I said.

“Well,” he said, “one can only hope you beat the kikes.”

I’m Jewish, but I had never before heard that term, nor had I experienced overt anti-Semitism. I lived in an area where many of my friends were Jewish, but just as many were not. I didn’t know how to respond to the guard—but I could feel in my gut that what he’d said was offensive, and that it somehow included me.

The word “kike” apparently comes from the time in U.S. history when there were lots of Jewish immigrants coming through Ellis Island. Many of them couldn’t complete the entry forms using the common English alphabet, and they didn’t want to sign with an “X,” because it seemed to represent a cross, so they signed with an “O.” The Yiddish word for “circle” is kikel, so the immigration inspectors came to call anyone who signed with an “O” a “kike.” However it began, use of that term to derogatively refer to Jews exists to this day.

Being blonde, and therefore not fitting the stereotype of what Jewish women are supposed to look like, I have often heard negative stereotypes about Jews casually thrown into conversation—things that clearly wouldn’t have been said in front of me if the speakers had known my identity, as if that should make a difference.

We’ve all had that experience, when a friend or family member drops some negative stereotypical term into conversation—“beaner,” “rag head,” “jungle bunny,” “Uncle Tom,” “chink”—usually without even knowing where the term originated. We can feel it in our gut.

All of this came to mind during the flap caused when the Trump campaign re-tweeted a post that had originated on an anti-Semitic website, depicting Hilary Clinton with a six-pointed Star of David against a background of money. It was subsequently explained and justified as “merely a star, like a sheriff’s badge.” There was no recognition by Trump nor his campaign that using an image representing an anti-Semitic image of Jews and money was, at the very least, worthy of recognition and apology.

If you don’t understand the history of how this image came to be associated as a negative stereotype of Jews, it’s easy to accept Trump’s explanation that “it was just a star.” In the Middle Ages, when the Church dominated European societies, people interpreted the Bible as prohibiting Christians from loaning money. Jews, however, were allowed to loan money, with interest. Many Jews at that time were prohibited from owning property or engaging in most means of making a living, so some of them became money-lenders. The stereotype was typified by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice in his character, Shylock, a term now associated with loan-sharking. As banking took off in Europe, Jews were able to finance everything from wars to exploration. However, when the time to repay arrived, some governments passed laws that non-Jews did not have to repay, or, as in England under King Edward I in 1290, the entire national population of Jews was expelled (and incidentally not allowed back as a community for more than 300 years).

This negative stereotype associating Jews with money has, obviously, survived. For anyone not to recognize the negative connotation of such a stereotype is just ignorant. For anyone implicated by such images, it’s hurtful. You feel it in your gut.

Concerns about Black Lives Matter and attacks on police officers have highlighted yet other stereotypes: police power as synonymous with the abuse of authority, and race as synonymous with criminality. We are born into a national culture that has, from its inception, valued some lives more than others, yet we react as if this isn’t a truth that needs to be addressed.

If asked to identify the ethnicity of one who is extremely good at math, you’re likely to say Asian. If asked about athletic prowess on the basketball court, you’re likely to say African American. If I mention a national identity associated with drunkenness, you might immediately respond “Irish.”

Organized crime translates to Italian. Blondes are dumb. Muslims are potential terrorists. Native Americans drink and gamble. Black men are well-endowed and barely evolved from animals—hence depictions of our president as a monkey. Hispanics are illegals.

Asians are secretive, easily depicted as devious or spies. Germans, despite more than 70 years since their involvement in World War II and the Holocaust, are as militaristic. Latinos are lazy—think of the pictorial image of the sombrero siesta, or depictions of Latinos as unwilling to learn English and assimilate, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Gays do not generally mince around with limp wrists, but when that stereotype is portrayed, they feel the negative characterization in their gut.

When leaders or public figures use discriminatory stereotypes to characterize political opponents or members of the general public, they are either indicating their ignorance of the historically negative implications—or they know and just don’t care.

Either way, we can feel it in our gut.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

Dear Mexican: I have a few questions. Why is it so wrong for Americans to expect people from other countries to follow our laws when entering this country? What reason do you have that should make Mexicans entering this country illegally OK?

Secondly, why aren’t you as concerned about the way immigrants from, let’s say, El Salvador are treated as they are making their way to America through Mexico? I was married to someone who made this trip, and I got to hear about the atrocities committed by the Mexican people against foreign immigrants just passing through. Rape, murder and incarceration are commonplace. But you complain because Americans simply want immigrants to follow our laws? There is nothing worse than hypocrisy. This country spends BILLIONS of dollars every year on people who come here illegally! Our tax dollars!

There’s a reason there is a process in place for people to enter this country. The reason is simple: If it’s not done properly, it will cause problems for people here in America! Why is this so difficult for you to understand? Donald Trump is winning for a reason: He is speaking out on what the American people are feeling inside! America isn’t in a position to be the godfather for every failing country in the world anymore! We need to focus on the condition of this country for a while and get things back to where they need to be.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the recent cover image of the OC Weekly (The Mexican’s home paper; pictured below) of a donkey fucking Donald Trump. I think it’s totally uncouth and tasteless. It shows exactly why your magazine is given out for free. How about drawing a picture of Vicente Fox violating the entire Mexican population? If the Mexican government wasn’t worthless and corrupt, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion! Then the Mexican people would stay in Mexico! But the truth of the matter is that Mexico, for the most part, sucks as a country! Instead of demeaning our political system, why don’t you go fix Mexico? That’s what I think is so hilarious about seeing Mexicans in America sporting the Mexican flag, and yelling about how proud they are to be Mexican—yet they don’t have any problem coming to America and reaping the benefits of this society that is supposedly so terrible. It’s insanity.

Anyway, I would like to say thank you for putting your paper out, for one reason only. It works great in the bottom of my cat’s litter box, and it’s free! I highly doubt my comment will be addressed or put into your trash mag, but I’m giving you permission to if you see fit.

Newt Me!

Dear Gabacho: You want to talk hypocrisies? Regarding everything you trashed Mexicans for supposedly doing, you could say the same about your (presumably) Salvadoran ex-wife and your immigrant ancestors—the border-hopping, the not staying in her country to improve it, the trashing of other immigrants. But as usual, gabachos excuse everyone except Mexicans for everything.

And forget hypocrisies: How about stupidities? Everyone knows papers like OC Weekly and the Coachella Valley Independent print version are best used as compost, because they’ll fuel your garden with truth. But, hey: Trumpbros like you seem to hate the truth, so keep wallowing in your cat’s shit.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

On this week's exploratory weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson tries to avoid the xeno virus; The K Chronicles goes hunting for fossils; This Modern World watches as Doctor Who fights the Brexit; and Red Meat misplaces a diary.

Published in Comics

When it comes to conservation, energy and many other issues, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been a lot of hat and not much cattle. But his son, Donald Trump Jr., recently offered some insights into what his father’s natural-resources policies might look like.

While speaking at June a media summit organized by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in Fort Collins, Colo., Trump Jr., an avid hunter and angler, defended keeping federal lands managed by the government and open to the public. He also reiterated his father’s strong support for U.S. energy development, proposed corporate sponsorships in national parks, questioned humans’ role in climate change, and criticized Hillary Clinton for “pandering” to hunters with “phoniness.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, spoke for Clinton’s campaign at the summit a day later, providing plenty of contrast between the presidential candidates.

Trump Jr. has served as an adviser to his father on natural-resources issues and has even joked with family that, should his father win, he’d like to be secretary of the interior, overseeing national parks and millions of acres of federal public lands. In Fort Collins, he said he’s not “the policy guy,” but repeated his frequent pledge to be a “loud voice” for preserving public lands access for sportsmen.

Trump Jr. also mocked some gun-control measures, such as ammunition limits, boasting, “I have a thousand rounds of ammunition in my vehicle almost at all times because it’s called two bricks of .22 … You know, I’ll blow … through that with my kids on a weekend.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate, partly distinguished himself among other GOP candidates during primary season—not that that was a problem for the New York real-estate developer—by balking at the transfer of federal public lands to states or counties. While Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others expressed support for public-land transfers, kowtowing to some Western conservatives, Trump rejected the idea. Speaking to Field & Stream in January, Trump said: “I don’t like the idea, because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land.”

Trump Jr. reaffirmed that stance—but also supported more input for states as long as those efforts don’t jeopardize public access.

Trump, however, did attack the Bureau of Land Management and its “draconian rule,” writing in an op-ed in the Reno Gazette-Journal, also in January: “The BLM controls over 85 percent of the land in Nevada. In the rural areas, those who for decades have had access to public lands for ranching, mining, logging and energy development are forced to deal with arbitrary and capricious rules that are influenced by special interests that profit from the D.C. rule-making and who fill the campaign coffers of Washington politicians.”

Rep. Thompson called Trump’s somewhat muddled stance of federal land management a “dangerous position to take,” saying Clinton unequivocally opposes public-land transfers. As far as Clinton’s sporting cred, Thompson said the Democratic candidate doesn’t pretend to be a hook-and-bullet enthusiast, but “she gets it” when it comes to access issues.

During a campaign loud with proclamations yet nearly vacant of substantive policies, the most in-depth view into Trump’s resource agenda came during his May speech at a North Dakota petroleum conference. Trump pledged to “save the coal industry,” approve the Keystone XL gas pipeline, roll back federal controls limiting energy development on some public lands, and withdraw the U.S. from the Paris global climate agreement. A Republican National Committee spokesman recently said more details on Trump’s energy and environmental policies should be coming soon. His son reiterated the campaign’s “very pro-U.S. energy” position, although he did say agencies should have some role in regulating energy development on public lands, referring to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed fracking rule that was recently rejected by a federal judge.

On climate change, Trump Jr. said U.S. and global policies shouldn’t penalize industries, and while acknowledging the strong scientific consensus on climate change and its causes, he added that humans’ and industries’ roles in global warming have “yet to be shown to me.”

Trump Jr. also offered mild support for the Endangered Species Act, saying it had achieved some successes, but argued the law has served as a “Trojan horse” to entirely prohibit development in some cases. He also suggested national-parks management and budgets could benefit from increased corporate partnerships. Trump’s son declared his own affinity for the backcountry and described national parks as being “a little bit too ‘tourist-ized’ for myself,” but he said, “I think there are ways you can do (corporate sponsorship) in a way that is beneficial” without installing flashing logos on natural features or commercializing the parks.

Clinton has shared several detailed policies on the environment and energy so far, including a white paper on land management and conservation that lays out support for a national park management fund and increased renewable energy development on public lands. Those proposals signal Clinton will “double down” on protecting public lands and preserving access, Thompson said.

Thompson also lauded Clinton for taking “a risky public position” on energy development—referring to her previous statement that she will put lots of coal mines “out of business”—and said “she hasn’t backed away from it. She understands there are better ways to generate the energy resources that we need.”

This piece originally appeared in High Country News.

Published in Environment

Dear Mexican: Tell me one thing Mexico is good for.

MAGA Man

Dear Gabacho: Paying more taxes than Donald Trump. Read on …

Dear Mexican: The other weekend, I met a Mexican girl at bar. Hoping to score some points, I pretended that I, too, was Mexican. Between my nondescript ethnicity (Eastern European and Vietnamese … chabacho, perhaps?), my command of Spanish, and some carefully timed quotes from Blood In, Blood Out, I managed to pull it off … con mucho éxito.

It got me thinking: Do Mexicans ever pretend to be other ethnicities? Do light-skinned jaliscienses ever go undercover as gabachos? Do Mexicans sometimes set aside their orgullo to go the Lou Diamond Phillips route? I’m dying to know.

Carlos Chan

Dear Chinito: All the time! When Mexicans hang out with Middle Eastern folks, we like to boast that we have an uncle who looks just like Saddam Hussein; when we’re with Jews, we say that our grandmother observed weird rituals, like lighting candles on Friday and never preparing pork. The lighter-skinned among us continually claim that we had a Frenchman in our family tree who decided to stay in Mexico after the Hapsburg occupation; Xicanxs with full beards will attend Native American powwows and boast they’re a direct descendant of the last honest tlatoani of Tenochtitlán.

That’s the thing about Mexicans: We’re everything … except Salvadoran.

Dear Mexican: I teach a volunteer class to kids in the ’hood, most of them Latinos (many of them Mexican). I like the kids a lot—but how can I justify teaching kids who may be illegals over kids who are legal? Shouldn’t I cater to kids whose parents have been paying taxes for years? Shouldn’t we “take care of our own” first?

Gabacho’s Moral Dilemna

Dear Gabacho: Since you’re volunteering your time, you have every right to be a pendejo in your private life. But refry the following frijoles: Primeramente, the Supreme Court’s 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe found it unconstitutional to deny public education to undocumented kiddies, so if you’re doing this via a school, you’d better keep your bigoted views to yourself, lest you get a lawsuit.

Also, don’t forget that “illegals” pay un chingo of taxes; a report released this year by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found undocumented immigrants pay about $12 billion in state and local taxes despite their lack of legal status. “Undocumented immigrants’ nationwide average effective tax rate is an estimated 8 percent,” the report said. “To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay an average nationwide effective tax rate of just 5.4 percent.” That’s probably more than Donald Trump!

Finally, study after study shows that those illegal kids are more driven and smarter than “legal” kids. Besides, these are children we’re talking about; hating on kids trying to get ahead in life is all we need to know about our modern, paranoid 21st-century ’Murica.

With morals like yours, the U.S. deserves our future Chinese overlords sooner rather than later.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican