Monday, July 25, 2005

News Peels from The Onion

Marine Corps Shortens Slogan To 'The Few'
WASHINGTON, DC—In light of recruiting shortfalls, a near standstill in re-enlistment, and rock-bottom troop morale, U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee announced Monday that the Marines will alter their unofficial slogan, abbreviating it to the more accurate "The Few." Hagee said, "We are still the Marines, the premier combat arm of the U.S. military." The Marines will also change their motto to Semper Fidelis, Sic Non Sapienti, or "Always Faithful, But This Is Just Ridiculous."

News in Brief: "Bush Awaits Orders From Rove On Handling Of Rove Scandal"

From Center for American Progress: Now you see him...

Now you don't. Isn't the media great??

Re-Organized Labor

Mikaela says:
News of a shakeup in the AFL-CIO, largest of U.S. unions, has me wondering whether we should be rooting for a complete makeover, not just of trade unions, but also of the Democratic party, which the unions used to help define. These days, the relationship is not so clear, with unions in general in decline and the Democratic party sharing a bed with Republicans in the corporate suite.

At this point, maybe any change is good, and our best hope could be a new way to look at both bedrock institutions. Maybe the time for upset and progress is finally here, and after the initial birth pangs and tearing, they will emerge as leadership institutions once again. Lord knows we need it.

Despite the fear of the unknown, I have to embrace the energy that is rising toward a reform that we can only hope signals a new surge of strength in organized labor. And if labor is strong, can a strong Democratic Party* be far behind? Here's hoping.

* See also some great recent posts by m-pyre's favorite blogger, Arvin Hill, explaining why we can't rely on current Democratic leaders to get it on their own. If new union leadership emerges, we have to corral it to set the direction for the Party immediately, since we're bankrupt as it is.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Raging Grannies indeed

Maggie says:
M-pyre's beloved Raging Grannies have extra significance today.

According to CNN, "'Raging Grannies' want to enlist, go to Iraq." Now I don't think these Raging Grannies are the same ones as our mascots, but how cool are these women?!?!

"A group of anti-war senior citizens calling themselves the 'Tucson Ranging Grannies' say they want to enlist in the U.S. Army and go to Iraq so that their children and grandchildren can come home." Five of the women are facing trespassing charges for trying to enlist at a local recruitment office. Raging Granny Betty Schroeder, 74, complained that "...they wouldn't even speak to us... they just called the police."

I'd like the Raging Grannies to know that their message is being heard loud and clear. Especially by us hopeful Raging Grannies. Rock on, ladies!

Syncretic Love

"Jardin Perfumado/Perfumed Garden," Mary Antonia Wood , 2004.
(As seen at Inspirados, the most recent show at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Museum -- not to be missed.)

Someone else’s heart
rests on his stony belly.

In a perpetual sit-up
he has the rock-hard abs of a movie star

or maybe he’s the hermaphrodite
birth-crunching the orchid

that falls into modern hands.
He births twins, actually:

one orchid
one orchid-blooming heart.

The proud Mayan abuelos
lean into the border.

Their love has breasted
the Aztec generation.

From this flowering of culture
we have distilled

the closed-eye passion
and Puritanism of modern love

Clark gabling her neck
her hair falling back in one heavy curl

while on the other side of the world, through time,
green Egyptian men crunch pyramids

and joy passes between continents
like perfume propogates itself

in elevators.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Virgin politics in Uganda

Maggie says:
This is absolutely outrageous. New legislation in Uganda would provide girls with full scholarships for college on one condition: that they're virgins. In order to have their tuition paid for by the Ugandan government, prospective girls would submit to a gynecological exam to "prove" their virginity and therefore advance their education.

The sponsor of this $#%&*, Sulaiman Madada, says that this approach is forward-thinking and progressive for two reasons: 1) boys aren't included in the program, meaning this is a pro-female educational initiative, and 2) the government is creatively tackling the massive problem of HIV infection among Ugandans.

To respond to both points:
1) To promote female education, promote it. Don't tie it to virginity and pretend that the reason boys aren't in this program is because you really want more girls in college. Nope - the real focus here is keeping Ugandan girls "chaste" for Ugandan boys, who are clearly not expected to abstain from much of anything. And what happens to the smart, ambitious girls who are not virgins after high school? Why are they any less worthy of college than someone else?
2) To tackle the problem of HIV and AIDS, tackle it. We all know that safe sex is a better way to do that abstinence-only programming, but if that were the approach then girls would be "allowed" to have sex, right? Uganda can't have girls having smart sex with condoms, so instead they're tying their "have sex and die" approach with a big college tuition ribbon around it and pretending it's about education.

I see this initiative as further proof that globally we are seeing wrong-headed approaches to policies that affect both men and women, yet are geared toward females for reasons that have very much to do with stereotypes of chastity and very little to do with the real world.

So how about it, Ugandan girls: Remain a virgin and go to college for free! (Just don't be expected to be treated on par with men, or for that matter, whole human beings.)

Roberts for Injustice

Mikaela says:
Another stealth job by the White House has put forward Judge Roberts as nominee for Supreme Court Justice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.

The White House said it was looking at women candidates. It says it was looking at minority candidates. It said its pool of nominees "reflected" America.

It said the nominee would be chosen quickly. It said the nomination would be postponed to give as little time for grilling as possible. It said next week. It said today.

And then last night, it said this white man from Harvard, whose background is defending corporations and opposing Roe v. Wade, with so little experience (2 years in the federal courts=low profile and short paper trail) that it will be difficult to judge him based on his record.

It said the timing of this announcement had nothing to do with the heating up of the Karl Rove scandal and the desperate desire to knock it off the front page.

The sides are already polarized. Leftist organizations have raised about 5 million dollars from the filibuster crisis to fight a contentious Supreme Court nomination. Right-wing organizations have between $10-20 million. We have to fight this one with the strength of numbers and voices, because money just won't cut it. This one counts; this one matters.

Let's all do what we can. It's the patriotic thing to do. This is about justice, morality, and protecting the last of the progress the people have made to create a government in their own image. Of the people, by the people, for the people. Remember? Let's make sure our government does. has a petition ready and waiting. Here's my sample letter:

TO: (My senators)
FROM: (My Name and Email)
SUBJECT: Oppose John Roberts
Dear Senator,

Being smart does not exempt a Supreme Court Justice from being honorable and standing up for the freedoms the people have fought so hard for in this country, including the right of ordinary people and workers to stand up to corporate interests for profit and the right of every woman to choose whether to use her body to bring life into the world.

Judge Roberts may be smart, qualified, and dignified, but he does NOT represent the pragmatic, moderate, and deliberative model of Supreme Court Justice that Sandra Day O'Connor embodied and whose balance is sorely lacking on the remaining Court.

He is NOT the right choice for the Court that plays such a crucial check and balance as one arm of a three-part government envisioned by the creators of the freest and fairest of nations.

The American people deserve a Justice who will help to ensure that the people have recourse in the nation's highest court to be heard fairly on issues where corporations and government officials paid off by them do not have the public's interest at heart.

That's why I'm writing you to ask that you oppose Judge John Roberts' nomination. We can't afford to have a right-wing ideologue on our nation's highest court.

My name, My Address

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lest we forget

Maggie says:
According to BBC News, nearly 25,000 Iraqi civilians have died violently in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. According to the report cited, our country is responsible for more than a third of those deaths.

Think about that. Twenty - Five - THOUSAND Iraqi civilians dead because we invaded their country. I'm so ashamed.

Things Heat Up for Karl Rove (who fans the flames trying to keep it cool)

Caption from Austin American-Statesman:
Bush adviser Karl Rove, at a ceremony for the Indian prime minister Monday, was a source for a Time magazine story about a CIA operative.

Mikaela says:
Today's White House Briefing by Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post does a brilliant job parsing out the Bush Administration response to this snowballing story:

Look Over There!

The stonewall's not working so well. Neither is the legalistic parsing. The furor over who leaked a CIA operative's name shows no sign of abating.

Two options present themselves to the White House: Go public with all the facts -- or try to change the subject.

Signs are pointing toward the latter.

Today's news includes:
· A new poll showing that the public is increasingly skeptical that the White House is cooperating with the federal investigation into who leaked Valerie Plame's identity, and wants Karl Rove fired if it turns out to be him.

· A shifting stance by President Bush over what he considers a firing offense -- one that clashes with his vow to bring back high ethical standards to the White House.

· A new report that the classified State Department memo that may have played a role in the leak made clear that information identifying Plame was sensitive and shouldn't be shared.

· Word that President Bush is expediting his announcement of a Supreme Court nominee to deflect attention from the leak story.

It's worthwhile to read the transcript from yesterday's press briefing with the ever elusive Scott McLellan. The best exchange comes from a question by Helen Thomas after repeated efforts on Scottie's part to say that the administration doesn't have all the facts:

Q: "What is his [Bush's] problem? Two years, and he can't call Rove in and find out what the hell is going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of dollars, two years, it tied up how many lawyers? All he's got to do is call him in."

MR. McCLELLAN: You just heard from the President. He said he doesn't know all the facts. I don't know all the facts.

Q Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: We want to know what the facts are. Because --

Q Why doesn't he ask him?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll tell you why, because there's an investigation that is continuing at this point, and the appropriate people to handle these issues are the ones who are overseeing that investigation. There is a special prosecutor that has been appointed. And it's important that we let all the facts come out. And then at that point, we'll be glad to talk about it, but we shouldn't be getting into --

Q You talked about it to reporters.

MR. McCLELLAN: We shouldn't be getting into prejudging the outcome.

And then, shockingly, Scott calls on someone else. You go, girl!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Mikaela says:
Three letters: F.B.I
and now add two more: me (of them)

Today's NY Times breaks the story on results of a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of files the FBI has collected on civil rights and anti-war organizations.

Large Volume of F.B.I. Files Alarms U.S. Activist Groups
WASHINGTON, July 17 - The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration.
F.B.I. and Justice Department officials declined to say what was in the A.C.L.U. and Greenpeace files, citing the pending lawsuit. But they stressed that as a matter of both policy and practice, they have not sought to monitor the political activities of any activist groups and that any intelligence-gathering activities related to political protests are intended to prevent disruptive and criminal activity at demonstrations, not to quell free speech. They said there might be an innocuous explanation for the large volume of files on the A.C.L.U. and Greenpeace, like preserving requests from or complaints about the groups in agency files.

But officials at the two groups said they were troubled by the disclosure.

"I'm still somewhat shocked by the size of the file on us," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the A.C.L.U. "Why would the F.B.I. collect almost 1,200 pages on a civil rights organization engaged in lawful activity? What justification could there be, other than political surveillance of lawful First Amendment activities?"

Protest groups charge that F.B.I. counterterrorism officials have used their expanded powers since the Sept. 11 attacks to blur the line between legitimate civil disobedience and violent or terrorist activity in what they liken to F.B.I. political surveillance of the 1960's.
At Greenpeace, which has protested both the Bush administration's environmental record and its policies in Iraq, John Passacantando, executive director of the group's United States operation, said he too was troubled by what he had learned.

"If the F.B.I. has taken the time to gather 2,400 pages of information on an organization that has a perfect record of peaceful activity for 34 years, it suggests they're just attempting to stifle the voices of their critics," Mr. Passacantando said.

This is why expanded powers under Negroponte for homeland spying is a scary proposition, not to mention the increasing pressure to marry church and state. Can you imagine the FBI going after atheists next? Guess they need to start adding columns onto their national database.

Atheists in this Time of Faith

Mikaela says:
The L.A. Times ran a good article today about how atheists are organizing themselves to counteract the surge of religiosity in Washington. Specifically, the article does a good job of explaining the prejudice that is getting more and more acceptable and pronounced against those who do not conform to the most conventional religous sects. Those of us who are neither atheists nor born-again believers sometimes find it hard to imagine why it matters so much and how it can affect any part of life other than one's personal faith.

This article points out in good detail exactly how it matters. The time is on the horizon when faith may play a role in your ability to get hired, raise children, or live in certain communities -- and it's already affecting who gets elected.

My own experience with religion has been a roller-coaster ride. I was baptized in the Episcopalian church. I remember vividly the sense of reverance I felt in our beautiful downtown Cathedral with its orderly and high-cermony services (although the next-most vivid memory is of the wintergreen Breathsavers Mom used to keep us quiet). When my parents got divorced, they were both too embarrassed to go back. I started going to the Presbyterian church with my more daily faithful friend and her family. This period was filled with songs about Jesus, and I remember singing to God at night and sometimes crying because I loved him so much. I thought he was so beautiful.

As a teen, I was told by a family friend that I did not believe in God because I did not accept an anthropomorphized version of deity. I believed in energy (I still do) that has order in connection. He told me I was an atheist, and to my family's horror, that's what I told the cameraman at Channel 4 when they interviewed me as one of the speakers at my high school graduation. A girl from another school was suing to get the opening prayer taken out of the commencement ceremony. She felt it was oppressive to her and a violation of the separation of church and state. Declaring my atheism to all of Albuquerque didn't even take a second thought. But my family was deeply shocked and disappointed. They still bring it up to shame me.

Today, I've taken to going to the Universal Unitarian church. It's the ultimate liberal's church, valuing multiculturalism, personal faith, reason, pragmatism, and community. I no longer say I'm an atheist, although I still would to help support someone's valid efforts to protect the essential wall between church and state that protects religious freedom. I feel so far from operating in the confines of this debate that it barely registers in my daily life.

But I think we all must continue to be aware of just how much we stand to lose if present trends continue. This is not about who is right and who is damned; this is about freedom from religious persecution and freedom to decide one's own version of faith. We must not shrink from imagining -- and working to resist -- what happens as these freedoms get stripped away.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

A Winnings Girl

Maggie says:
Can I just take a moment to celebrate my love for Winnings Coffee?

When it comes to places with great coffee, yummy food, and a side serving of Internet, we coffee-loving wireless addicts have a couple of good choices in town. But sometimes I feel the need to proclaim my allegiance in the always-heated battle of local coffee spots. And because I'm pretty nerdy and not flashy and never in the mood to spend $10 on a sandwich, Flying Star and especially the new Satellite on Central can be just a little... much for me.

So I'm a Winnings girl, through and through. I love the lack of flash, the damn good coffee, the not-trying-too-hard staff, the relaxed atmosphere, the fact that I always see people I like here. Yep, I see people I know at Flying Star all the time, but here I see people I like. Flying Star might be a good option for late-night grub, but I can't ever really just be me there. I always feel like people are looking around wanting to be seen or something. But not here at Winnings. We can do our own thing wearing pajamas if we like, and that's okay. We're safe here, safe to be seen unshowered and wearing dirty clothes and working on our own thing and hugging friends when they walk through the door. It's a little home away from home.

Apparently I'm not the only one: at the table next to me, a little boy and his mom are eating breakfast. He just asked her: "Mom, why is this your favorite place? We come here every time, no where else." And she responded to him, "Well, why would we go anywhere else, honey?" True story.

This all goes back to one of my favorite Ms, who three years ago in a breaking point during a particularly stressful project at school, looked at me and said, "I think we need to go to Winnings." I was brand new in town and had never been here before. That Mikaela is always right, you know. I hate that sometimes. :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

2% of our country infuriates me

Maggie says:
Just looked at the results of this CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that shows a majority of Americans think it's a good idea for the next Supreme Court justice to be a woman. (13% said it was "essential" that the next pick be a woman and 65% said it was "a good idea but not essential.") Of course, 13% sounds too low to me, but get this:

2% of respondents - assuming this poll is sound, that pretty much embodies 2% of the country - say it's "a bad idea" for a woman to be picked for the Supreme Court. A bad idea? That 2% makes me sick to my stomach.

In other gender news, check out this Ms. Musings review of "The New Wife," the latest book to make professional women feel guilty for not staying home. Apparently, author Susan Shapiro Barash (who is a gender studies professor!) was recently interviewed on the Today show and when asked what the 21st century wife represented, answered "She's probably the smartest of all because she's willing to scrutinize the recent past and to take the best from each decade."

The Ms. response? "Frankly, I have no idea what we're supposed to take from any decade past the 1950s."

Justice for Ebbers? For the rest of us?

Mikaela says:
Former CEO of WorldCom Bernard Ebbers was just sentenced to 25 years in prison for overseeing the largest corporate accounting fraud in U.S. history.

My very first reaction to this news was happy incredulousness. They really nailed him? No way! Right on. Justice! Corporate accountability... how rare!

Having worked at one of these loosey-goosey telecom companies in Seattle that went through a little bankruptcy (compared to WorldCom's titanic bankruptcy), my perception is that this kind of fraudulent accounting is everywhere. At all levels, from the tiniest of companies to the biggest and all the auditors inbetween. The banks know. The investigators know.

For this man to lose the rest of his life (he's 63 now, and even with good behavior, he's behind bars until he's 85) for doing what everyone winks and nudges about ... I don't know. If it were a different kind of case, we'd be talking about being cautious not to engender martyrs that can mobilize a radical uprising. But corporate guys? Do they care that this guy is taking the rap for what they all do? I doubt it. Think this will ripple through corporate America? Maybe. Maybe they'll be more careful to hide their practices.

But surprise, surprise. It isn't about one guy or one company or one economic sector. It's ... ready for it? ... the system. Ah, the system.

Now what are we going to do about it? Besides sending one arrogant white guy to jail?

Caring about labor

Maggie says:
Still slammed with work today, but during lunch I saw this tidbit that's worth a link.

My hometown best friend and I were discussing Wal-Mart when I was at home several weeks ago, and she brought up the point that in the Southeast, folks tend to be very disconnected from unions given how weak the South's labor history has been. Therefore, talking points about labor don't really come naturally to progressives at home. North Carolina isn't exactly Detroit, after all.

Today, David Sirota (full disclosure: 2/3 of M3 has a major crush on him) writes about this and more in Why You Should Care About the Labor Movement.

Big Business, the Republican Party and the corporate media all want you to believe that America's labor movement is only important to the 13 percent of workers who are actually in unions. It is a ploy to try to make you not care when they bash unions and limit union rights. The problem is, it is a lie - unions matter to everybody, whether you are in a union or not. Here's why.
So Heather, this one's for you. On a sidenote, it just started raining and storming here in ABQ. I love New Mexico moments right before the storm. The air smells incredible right now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Massacre in Haiti -- by the U.N.?!?!?!?

Maggie says:
Forgive the blogging absence - work calls. But quickly, I heard this on Democracy Now! yesterday and was floored. Their broadcast and interviews with local villagers were absolutely heartbreaking. What in the hell is the U.N. doing killing Haitian civilians? How much does the massacre have to do with the highly politicized nature of the community who was attacked, all of them Aristide supporters? Kind of makes it hard to call for a U.S. pullout of Iraq in favor of U.N. peacekeepers when they're murdering civilians in another country. And how appalling that no one but Democracy Now! is covering this!

Eyewitnesses Describe Massacre by UN Troops in Haitian Slum

In Haiti, UN troops launched a pre-dawn raid on Cite Soleil, one of the most economically-depressed neighborhoods of Port au Prince. Local residents say it might have been the deadliest attack carried out by UN troops since they were stationed in the country last year.

On Saturday hundreds of Haitians gathered for the funeral of Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme -- a popular community leader who lives in Cite Soleil, one of the most economically-depressed neighborhoods of Port au Prince. Wilme was killed last Wednesday when UN troops attacked the neighborhood in a pre-dawn raid.

Although the raid has received little attention, local residents say it might have been the deadliest attack carried out by UN troops since they were stationed in the country last year.

According to residents, the UN troops entered the area at about three in the morning and opened fire. Eyewitnesses reported the UN troops used helicopters, tanks, machine guns and tear gas in the operation. The UN has admitted that its troops killed at least five people. UN military spokesman Colonel Elouafi Boulbars told Agence France Presse, "The bandits tried to fight our men. They suffered serious losses and we found five bodies in what was left of a house." Local residents put the figure at no less than 20. Some estimates are even higher. Witnesses said innocent civilians were among the victims. The United Nations has defended the operation by describing it as a necessary move to wipe out violent gang activity. Both the United Nations and the interim Haitian government have described the slain Dread Wilme as one of the country's top gang leaders. Cite Soleil is comprised largely of supporters of the Lavalas Party and ousted Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide who was overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup 18 months ago. To local residents Dread Wilme was a community leader and the attacks were seen as politically motivated.

You should really, really, really follow this link to the article and then scroll down to read the transcript of the interviews from this show. You will not believe the details and horror they describe.

Hiding from m-pyre

Want to know where our minds are these days? Wondering where the hard-hitting political analysis has gone? Do you just plain miss the power and passion of M3?

Don't worry: We're still on-line; we're just hiding from m-pyre at the moment. When all seems bleak, write about the small-time stuff!

Get m-pyrical with us; you probably need it. Sometimes we all do.

Monday, July 11, 2005

New Leaked Memo Raises More Questions on US "Planning" in Iraq

Mikaela says:
Given what we now know (thanks to other leaked memos) about the Bush Administration rushing to war in Iraq to oust Saddam with no thought of post-war planning, and given the continuing deaths being reported, today's news about American and British plans for withdrawal meet with some skepticism on my part about the intentions of our fair leaders.

Leaked Memo: US & UK Plan Major Withdrawal From Iraq
A British newspaper has obtained a secret plan written by the British Defense Secretary that appears to outline plans for the allied forces to withdraw the majority of its troops from Iraq by early next year. The memo states, "Emerging US plans assume fourteen out of eighteen provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006, allowing a reduction in [Allied troops] from 176,000 down to 66,000." The Washington Post reports the British memo is apparently the first time such a significant reduction has been outlined under a specific timetable. After the memo was leaked, British Defense Secretary John Reid tried to downplay its significance. He said, "No decisions on the future force posture of UK forces have been taken."

While this may sound like good news on the surface for those of us who have been arguing for the withdrawal of troops from BEFORE the war, other news of the day seems to scream for more caution and careful planning and preparation:

Four Dozen Die In Suicide Attacks in Iraq
At least 48 people died on Sunday in a series of suicide attacks. The deadliest incident occurred when a man strapped with explosives blew himself up at a military recruiting center killing 19 and injuring more than 40 people. Earlier today nine Iraqi soldiers were killed in a raid on a checkpoint in central Iraq.

Nine Iraqis Suffocate in Police Custody
The Iraqi government has begun investigating the deaths of nine Iraqi bricklayers who died in police custody. The bricklayers died from suffocation after being detained in a police van for 14 hours.

Ex-PM Allawi: Iraq Is Almost In A "Civil War"
Iraq's former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is warning that Iraq is on the verge of a civil war. In a recent interview with the Sunday Times of London he said "The problem is that the Americans have no vision and no clear policy on how to go about in Iraq. The policy should be of building national unity in Iraq. Without this we will most certainly slip into a civil war." He went on to say "We are practically in stage one of a civil war as we speak."

So we've bombed their infrastructure, evaporated jobs, killed their work-age men, and incited the radical Islamists to violence. Mission accomplished, and now we're out of there?

Those who argue that U.S. troops should NOT be withdrawn usually point to the need to train Iraqi soldiers to take over the "security" that U.S. troops supposedly provide, all evidence to the contrary. Personally, I think this approach is ludicrous. Why train Iraqis to become like their oppressors that are universally resented?

What I do argue for is having a plan AFTER our troops pull out for how to continue to offer education, infrastructure, and job training once the violence recedes in our absence. Something tells me our planning-deficient government is not burning the midnight oil to figure out how to provide these ongoing responsibilities. Isn't it the least we can do?

I'm not saying we go in there and force it down their throats, but when the Iraqi government has time to get itself on its feet and do some internal assessments, they should come to us with a plan for U.S. involvement -- with strictly defined operating boundaries that protect Iraqi sovereignty but still allow for the U.S. to assist on Iraqi terms in the rebuilding of what it destroyed for no reason other than Bush's personal vendetta against Saddam, who after all was not a nice man, but that's hardly the point. We don't just get to go around removing leaders unilaterally (coalition of the willing my ass), and we CERTAINLY don't get to do it and then pull out with no responsibility for the aftermath.

Let me be clear, I'm talking community building here, not military-building, nation-building, or false-security providing.

Surely America can do better than it's done in the past. Surely we can demand it.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Re-hashing Kelo and eminent domain

For those of you who don't read Duke City Fix (and why don't you, we ask?), M3 has been embroiled in a feisty debate over there about the recent Supreme Court decision regarding eminent domain. Check it out at Eminent Domain: A Counter Post. Enjoy!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Supporting Our Troops

Mikaela says:
This poem by war veteran Simon Ortiz reminds us of the living casualties of our government's wars. We liberals know how to support our troops, to witness and understand the humanness of their pain and madness on return. We will continue to remember them in every vote against war and every vote to support VA services, and we will honor and champion the voices of those brave enough to write about the reality of what they continue to face for the rest of their days.

Cherry Pie

We had barbecue beef on buns,
cole slaw with crushed pineapple,
coffee, and cherry pie.
Here in the VAH, at least,
America feeds well the men
it has driven mad.

“My favorite used to be cherry pie.”

“Lemon is good too.”

“When I was a kid at Indian School,
I worked cleaning yards on weekends.
Walking back to campus at evening,
I’d stop at this cafĂ© on Fourth
and order banana cream pie.
Two slices of pie, boy, that was good.”

Deanda hasn’t been yelling lately.
They’ve been feeding him more
and better mind silencers lately.

Kelly offers his cole slaw.
Nobody wants it, shake their heads.
He offers his bread, we shake our heads.
“He’s a dedicated nut,” another nut says.

“The only pie I don’t like
is mince meat, too rich.”

“I wish I was rich.”

“I almost married a rich girl once.
She was from Alabama.”

There’s always something that you almost
did that you should have done.

A cherry pie slips to the floor
off a man’s saucer.
He stands there and everything is gone
from his face except sorrow and loss
and it’s hard to lose those.

Tribute to Grantwriters...

Mikaela shares:
This beautiful poem was written by the Acoma poet Simon Ortiz, who should be better known.


for Mrs. Aguilar, James, and my son
at a civilrights fundraising function
in 1969

You and your crooked leg, James.
You and your hunger, Mrs. Aguilar.
They are getting bored with your misfortunes.

My son is too young to talk
about what his bones need or how much his
belly might be hurting,
but I am thinking they will be bored
with him too.

“How much gas do you need for a tractor?
For three tractors?” they ask.
“How much would it cost our foundation?”

I wait for them to ask,
“How many dreams have you spent lately?
How many hopes?”

We are not hungry for promises of money
nor for anyone to write us
carefully written proposals.
We are hungry for the good earth,
the deserts and mountains growing corn.
We are hungry for the conviction
that you are our brothers and sisters
who are willing to share our love
and compassionate fingers in your hands.

The grass of this expensive lawn
and the drinks make me feel
a stranger and my acute hunger.
My son smiles while someone says,
“I am not politic; I am talking with you.”

Mrs. Aguilar with your orange dress
and plastic flowers, I am asking blessings
for you with prayers for corn and potatoes,
the growing things for your land,
and my son is hoping with is smile
not to be hungry tomorrow.

James, you 1950’s pachuco,
you are aching in my throat.
You are the many Indians, the anarchist
rising out of the wine slop, angry,
the ones killing false promises,
fighting cops—we are also seeking
blessings for you, for us, for our children
in this war.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Spinning London from Washington

Maggie says:
The news from London today is obviously terrible. But I am alone in feeling like there's no time to mourn the loss of life because within minutes after the tragedy Bush&Co are offering up reasons for absolute outrage? That they're so busy strategizing how to spin the London bombings and take advantage of them through terrorist fears that I become too angry to feel as sad as I should? On the heels of turning 9/11 into one tawdry photo op and macho declaration after another, today we have Bush and the media who love him reminding us that however low Bush's poll numbers are, we're always just one terrorist act away from another Bush love-fest.

Outrageous moment #1: Acting as if the G-8 Summit is a bastion of good-heartedness. We all know that global poverty has been discussed at this summit only because of grassroots global pressure to address it. Pretending otherwise is just plain hypocritical, as is pretending that the Summit is actually going to create positive change. But Bush isn't one to pale at the sign of hypocrisy - he digs right in. Here's his response this morning: "On the one hand, we got people here who are working to alleviate poverty and to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS and that are working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand, you've got people killing innocent people. And the contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill, those who've got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks." Sorry, but I'd say you guys are about the only ones convinced that you care deeply about human rights and human liberty. Maybe the rest of the world cares deeply about these things, but leaders at the G-8 Summit most certainly do not. And don't even get me started on what you're "working on," because I take issue with that bunch of lies, too.

Outrageous moment #2: Pretending the Iraq War is about terror and is worth fighting. This from the BBC today (of course it's not the American press), interviewing Condaleeza Rice:

BEALE: Do you think that Britain and America in Iraq are perhaps fighting the wrong war? They went to war to remove physical weapons of mass destruction but partly Saddam Hussein as well, but that hasn’t stopped the terrorist attacks in Western cities like Madrid, in London today. It seems to have fueled those attacks.

RICE: Oh, I don’t think that anything is being fueled here except the fact that the terrorists are finally being confronted. Again, they were — they’ve been doing this now for a couple of decades and for a while the world, going all the way back to Beirut and going back to the attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 or the attacks on American Embassies in 1998, this has been going on for a while.

Okay, forgive me for saying this for the billionth time, but either the officials in this administration are absolutely brainless or they just assume that we are. Acting as if the many terrorist attacks since 9/11 are not related to our wrongful invasion of Iraq and the "global war on terror" is ridiculous. No matter what, we will never hear this administration admit that this war has caused many more problems than it's solved. I don't know how an attack could be clearer - a sign saying "This is because of Iraq?" And even more troublesome is how many more tragedies will have to happen before Bush&Co stop spinning and start rethinking their approach.

Outrageous moment #3: Mainstream media sucking as usual. It really does only take the mention of terrorism for our mainstream media to begin fawning all over the Homeland Security Director, touting our ridiculous color-coded terror alert system, and making analogies about how strong and justified a leader W is. I am just sick to death of this. We have Katie Couric pestering John McCain with worries about Amtrak security for her weekend getaways (never mind that Republicans have so slashed Amtrak's budget it won't be around much longer anyway). We have blaring headlines screaming "Terror Threat Elevated!" We have the media scaring people into believing that they're next and all they can do is to pray to the Bush administration for protection. In another time and place, we might expect this morning to be the staw on the camel's back, the signal the mainstream media needed to finally stop swallowing everything they're told and to start doing some analytical thinking of their own and affecting real change. But no. In this day and age, they simply revert to what they already know how to do. And for the brainless media, that's hyping up the fear factor and bowing down to a macho man who pretends he has all the answers.

Thanks, Marston

Maggie says:
The Duke City Fix's Marston Moore complimented m-pyre today in his post on "Poli-Blogs."

The M-Pyre team - Majorie, Maggie, and Mikaela – produce intelligent and cogent posts day in and day out. The breadth of their interests and the passion of their commitment keeps the blog reader coming back for more.
Well Marston, we can only return the compliment. Marston has more than proved himself covering local politics for the Fix, and proves to make the upcoming mayoral election a hotbed of gossip and intrigue.

This also illustrates why m-pyrical is a good idea. I mean, we couldn't exactly keep up our Poli-Blog credibility writing about bad first dates and celebrity gossip, could we? Didn't think so.

Thanks, Marston. You're making local politics more interesting by the day.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hitting m-pyre

I'd just like to call attention to recent m-pyre traffic. This graph represents visits on particular dates from last month and our first few days of July.

What I find really funny is that one of the lowest points on the graph is the day the blog article with that horrible picture came out. It was so bad it actually had a deterrent effect!

That's the power of journalism, people. Fear it, or it will own you. Nya ha ha.

Question for Legal Eagles: Police Surveillance

Mikaela says:
I was driving around yesterday and was suddenly struck -- again -- by the vast number of cameras recording our movements at every intersection.

Does anyone know what permission the FBI has to request the tapes from local police agencies? I'm making the common-sense assumption that the Patriot Act made it legal and easy, if it wasn't previously.

I would love to be wrong. Does anyone know?

Otherwise, I'm thinking, the surveillance society is already here. I guess we can still sneak relatively undetected into the mesa or foothills, but if we stick to the roads, we're visible everywhere. Does anyone else get freaked out by that? I would feel better if there were still some semblance of a legal firewall between local police traffic cameras and the FBI or whatever super-secret national police force we have/will have under our National Security Czar.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Halliburton has a laugh

From the funny folks at Center for American Progress.

Life's many mysteries

Maggie says:
So as I'm passing the time until Demetria begins, I'm contemplating the latest mysteries life has presented me with. Here are three:

  • Why on earth would the Albuquerque Journal actually choose to print the all-time worst photo ever taken of Marjorie, Mikaela and I in their newspaper rather than one of the decent ones we were shown? If you missed the article on local blogs, here it is (skip to page 2). It's no accident that I have not linked to the horrendous photo - I'm still trying to laugh it off. Just laughlaughlaugh at how terribleterribleterrible it is.
  • After a recent M3/Louie viewing of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (really, this movie must be watched once every ten years), I'm wondering if I should be embarrassed that my new favorite character is Mr. Hand. The question: is my new attachment to Mr. Hand rather than the cool, young characters a sign that I'm getting older, getting dorkier, or just developing a strange affection for sarcastic and self-important history teachers?
  • How in the world did Altoids create something as magically, wonderfully irresistible as Ginger Altoids? These things are so damn good. I CANNOT stop eating them.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Fourth

Maggie says:
Ahhh, the Fourth of July. I used to love this holiday. I remember one year my brother and I made a cake that looked like a flag, which we promptly dropped as we took it out of the oven and had to mold back together with stars and stripes of icing. I remember dying deviled eggs blue and red (which really turn out more like gray and pink, but it's the thought that counts). I remember packing up blankets for a big picnic by the lake near our town where the North Carolina Symphony plays every year before the fireworks. I remember having a great time, coming back covered in mosquito bites but feeling happy and full of celebration.

Our family, although pretty political and well-read and respectful of history, were more of the "summer theme" Fourth of July fans as opposed to the die-hard patriot types. As in, the Fourth represented a family day, a summer celebration, an occasion to eat, a chance to cheer on fireworks, an excuse to get decked out in red and blue. After all, they are great colors. (Hmmm... I'm noticing distinct parallels to Christmas here.)

This makes me think about the Fourth today, in 2005, as I sit here distinctly not wearing red and blue, not making plans to see fireworks, and definitely not dying deviled eggs. This feeling of not really wanting to applaud my country is a sinking one and it makes me feel terrible. If I had kids, would I be dressing them in cute red and blue outfits, packing up a picnic basket and voting on our favorite colors and shapes of fireworks all night? I think not - these days call more for lessons on the importance of dissent. Sigh.

I want to be able to applaud and cheer tonight, to smile at old guys dressed up like Uncle Sam and kids running around with sparklers. But there's too much to be unhappy about. And I can't really cheer for the idea of our country or the founding of ideals when I know how untrue both of those things are, and particularly how subverted they are today. Especially how subverted they are today.

So maybe my problem is that I feel too knowledgable to take part in patriotic festivities tonight. And the other problem is that all of us progressives have been made to feel that if we're not in line with the Bush mantra, we're hurting our country. We hate our country. We're anti-patriots and harmful to America. We couldn't possibly represent our country or hang up a flag. Never mind that we're Americans, too.

I wonder how many other "Summer Theme" families like mine was are simply opting out this year. Maybe their insides just won't allow them to fully enjoy the fireworks because they feel that doing so means they support the very wrong direction in which our country has been taken. But then again, maybe the kids would pitch a fit if their parents proposed skipping fireworks, so there they are on blankets beside the other Fourth families, the ones who believe that Bush is America, that our country is superior to every other one on earth, and that with that superiority comes the right to destroy anyone and anything as we see fit. And as those families cheer wildly for the sheer American-ness of this loud and explosive holiday, the progressive families gulp down their discontent and hope they don't have to sing the anthem with a smile.

To me, today sums up the progressive dilemma. Is it possible anymore to successfully proclaim patriotism without feeling like that means you proclaim Republicanism, too? How can we progressives ever feel good about the flag again, good about red, white, and blue, good about this holiday, without apprehension? And how long will it take before we're welcome into the patriotic fold again - not called out as traitors or evildoers, but as Americans who want to feel good (or at least okay) about their country?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Quizzes for everyone

Maggie says:
In an effort to overcome my work-related writer's block as I try to shut out the happy visions of the family beach vacation I wish I never left, I found these two online quizzes. After taking them, I don't think my writer's block is fixed, but at least I am more self-aware now than before (although still wishing New Mexico had an ocean). Here's to wasting some of your time, too:

Political Compass quiz
This quiz is really interesting. A little long but not as mundane as many others I've seen. Interested in how you rank on the economic and social scale with various world leaders and notorious dictators? Then this is the quiz for you.

My political compass is a -7.00 for Economic Left/Right and a -7.64 for Social Libertarian/Authoritarian. (They show a nifty graph with my dot basically in the far left bottom corner.) My closest world leader appears to be the Dalai Lama. Not bad!

IPIP-NEO Comprehensive Personality Quiz
Feel like really not getting your work or thesis done? Then take this quiz. Pretty exhaustive, a true time-waster!

My results:
- Introvert/Extrovert: The quiz says I'm a 71% Extrovert, which seems pretty high to me given my love for reading, shopping, and hanging out alone. But I'm not one of those "can't talk to people" introverts, so I guess that's why this is so high. Here's the rest: Friendliness 96, Gregariousness 41, Assertiveness 75, Activity Level 63, Excitement-Seeking 22, Cheerfulness 80.
- Agreeableness: Yikes, 97%! Am I really that agreeable? The quiz says I would make a bad scientist or soldier, so maybe it's right on after all. Within Agreeable is Trust 98, Morality 83, Altruism 89, Cooperation 89, Modesty 50, and Sympathy 88.
- Conscientiousness: This one is interesting and all over the place. I scored a 48 on Conscientiousness overall, which they say is average. But the others are kind of funny. Self-Efficacy (confidence in your ability to get things done) is 97, but the rest are very random: Orderliness 16 (okay, it took me almost a week to unpack), Dutifulness 31, Achievement-Striving 81, Self-Discipline 65, Cautiousness 26.
- Neuroticism: This category has the potential to be the most revealing, but apparently I'm a boring un-neurotic person. Overall neuroticism is 12%, "which indicates that you are exceptionally calm, composed, and unflappable." (Again, this sounds like an overstatement.) Breakdown is Anxiety 14, Anger 27, Depression 12, Self-Consciousness 21, Immoderation (concerning urges and indulgences) 52, and Vulnerability 9.
- Openness to Experience: Overall 74%, "enjoying novelty, variety, and change." Imagination 43, Artistic Interests 61, Emotionality 57, Adventurousness 71, Intellect 67 (apparently I am only batting average when it comes to smarts), Liberalism 86.

So there's gotta be someone in need of diversion as much as me. Let's see those results!

Friday, July 01, 2005

CAFTA turncoats

Maggie says:
As you've probably heard, the Central American Free Trade Agreement was passed this week by a 54-45 vote. Wondering which Democrats (and one Independent) voted with the Republicans to screw over family farmers in the US and Central America and squash community autonomy in favor of American corporate control? Here they are, the infamous eleven:

  • Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Carper (D-DE)
  • Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Jeffords (I-VT)
  • Lincoln (D-AR)
  • Murray (D-WA)
  • Nelson (D-FL)
  • Nelson (D-NE)
  • Pryor (D-AR)
  • Wyden (D-OR)
Consider this: while these eleven (including NM's Bingaman) voted for this disastrous bill, twelve Republicans voted against it, meaning this bill could've died on the Senate floor had the Democrats not sold out. These votes are just inexcusable. This is when Democrats should be taking a stand for working-class interests in the face of Republicans' obvious hand-holding with corporate America, not helping Republicans (and their corporate agenda) out.

Next up, CAFTA moves to the House. Let's hope the Democrats there remember how to take a stand for what's right.