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He won’t stop trying. O’Rourke wants to organize a national conference in El Paso on U.S. drug policy. “We are ground zero in the drug warthis is it:’ O’Rourke says. “We are disproportionately affected by any U.S. policy that deals with Mexico, whether it’s immigration or, in this case, drug policy. We should be the ones framing this and informing the policymakers at the national levelnot Lou Dobbs or people in D.C. or other parts of the country. Because the reality is that Mexico scares them, the border scares them, and military interdiction seems to make perfect sense to them.” Long after the latest news invasion pulls out of El Paso, folks along the border will still be dealing with a broken immigration system and the misguided policies spawned by political opportunism HIGHTOWER Pothole Advertising Just when you think the corporate branding of public spaces can’t get any more crass, along comes KFC Corp., the fried chicken chain. Drive through the streets of just about any American city, and you’ll find schools, museums, parks, stadiums, and all sorts of other public facilities plastered with corporate names, ads, and logos. That’s bad enough, but now KFC is putting its ads on the streets themselves. In a gimmick cooked up with city officials in Louisville, Kentucky, the chicken chain is paying to fill in some of the potholes. In return, the corporation gets to stencil a gaudy ad on each pothole, declaring it “Re-freshed by KFC.” Believe it or not, KFC actually insists that it is filling the streets with ads out of a sense of civic duty. It is more selfpuffery than public service. While noting that more than 350 million potholes riddle America’s streets, KFC donated a mere $3,000 to Louisville. Meanwhile, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which frequently rattles KFC’s cage over its mistreatment of the birds that produce the corporation’s profits, made its own offer. The devilish pranksters put up $6,000double KFC’s paymentto fill twice as many potholes, in exchange for a PETA ad atop each one. Apparently, not all citizens are equal in Louisville. The mayor, who had praised KFC for creating “innovative public/private partnerships like this pothole refresh program,” turned chicken when PETA presented its own pothole partnership. “No,” he clucked. Pay attention, folksyour town could be the next one plastered by KFC. The company says it is looking for four other “lucky cities” to accept its pothole ads. For more information on Jim Hightower’s workand to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdownvisit www.jimhightower.corn. “Who are you idiots, and why are you on national television talking about the border?” and media myths. “Anderson Cooper is a nice guy,” says Sito Negron of Newspaper Tree, “but I realized in speaking with him that he doesn’t know a whole lot about the border. It’s not a critique of him, but he doesn’t spend a lot of time here:’ Who does spend a lot of time here, besides the local media? “Nobody does,” Negron says. There are a few exceptions, he says, counting them off quickly: Sam Quinones does some border work for The Los Angeles Times. The Dallas Morning News has Alfredo Corchado, a former El Pasoan, reporting from Mexico City. John Burnett reports from the border for National Public Radio. The rest of the media parachutes in when a story like the violence in Juarez heats up. Local reporters and officials occasionally have a chance to give a national audience a window into what’s actually happening. But the story they have to tell is complicated and nuanced. It can’t compete, in the American imagination, with daily tirades from the likes of CNN’s Dobbs and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Dobbs has been especially avid and persistent in calling for armed troops on the border. In a recent newscast, he had this advice for President Barack Obama: “Bring home the troops from Okinawa, Afghanistan, Iraq … and bring them here to secure our border and stop the flow of illegal immigrants, drugs and terrorists:’ Martin Bartlett, an El Paso TV reporter, recently was invited to talk on CNN about violence in Juarez. Bartlett has been reporting from Juarez for more than a year. During his interview, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips stood in front of a giant projection of the Mexican flag with the words “Mexican Violence” and the image of an AK-47 splashed across it. Phillips informed Bartlett that the military troop buildup had been successful in Juarez. Didn’t it make sense to have a troop buildup on the U.S. side as well? “Actually, folks here are unwilling to see U.S. troops along the border,” Bartlett told her. “They are disinterested in the full militarization of the border.” Bartlett didn’t have time during his three minutes to explain the history of militarization on the border, or elaborate on why residents don’t want National Guard troops in their towns. He did say that law-enforcement officials had seen some “spillover” on the U.S. side, which he described as an increase in petty crime linked to drug activity. He didn’t explain what he meant by “petty crime:’ But it was enough for CNN to run with the headline, “Mexican drug war spills over. 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 17, 2009