Monday, October 31, 2005

Alito Schmucko

marjorie says...

(hey check it out: i'm still around!)

I think Senator Leahy's comments today pretty much sum up the Alito nomination:

Last week, the president succumbed to the partisan pressure from the extreme right wing by withdrawing the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. In doing that, the President allowed his choice to be vetoed by an extreme faction within his party, before hearings or a vote,” said Leahy. “This experience exposed the right-wing litmus test that they insist be used, rather than selecting judges and justices who will be fair and impartial in applying the law. They, in fact, demand judges who will guarantee the results that they want.

With turmoil engulfing the White House, with no way out of the disastrous and deadly occupation of Iraq, with a worsening federal debt, and with obscenely high profits that continue to pile up for the administration's big oil friends, catering to an extreme wing of one political party risks removing checks and balances for the majority of Americans,” continued Leahy. “It is unfortunate that the president felt he was in such a weak position that he had to bend to a narrow but vocal faction of his political base. The Supreme Court is the ultimate check and balance in our system that protects the fundamental rights of all Americans.

It's pretty amusing in a sick way to see these rightwing zealots go on and on and on about "judicial restraint," "not legislating from the bench," "strict constitutionalism," when in fact, they are *only* satsified by someone who *will* legislate from the bench. They are complete hypocrites.

Make no mistake: all of those catch-phrases are code for an ultra-conservative who will impose a conception of the world on the rest of us that is derived from fundamentalist christianity.

Let's be clear: Rolling back Roe v Wade would be legislating from the bench...because a woman's right to privacy is overwhelmingly accepted as law in our society.

And on the point that Leahy and other Democrats confirmed Alito 15 years ago: Yeah, and its a good thing we all have the potential to learn from our mistakes. We have 15 years of legal cases that show what a rightwing zealot he is.

Any Democrat that votes to confirm Alito deserves to lose his seat, pure and simple. In the coming weeks we'll all see who is who in the Democratic Party. Let's hope it isn't a bloodbath.

Iraq Timebomb: 2,000 American deaths and counting

Mikaela says:
New York Times has beautiful page of American soldiers killed in Iraq -- pictures and personal details that help to remind us of the human cost of this war.

In this sea of lies and deceptions, this truth stands very stark, very undeniable: We're sending soldiers to their deaths. We're not improving the situation for Iraqis. Things are not getting better. People continue to die.

The stated mission for invasion was a lie. The next stated mission has not come to pass: democracy in Iraq is still a sham, still in shambles. And the latest stated mission -- peace in the Middle East -- was dealt another blow with the recent bombing in India.

We're outsourcing terror faster than we can deploy troops (which this week hit the highest level in Iraq at any point during the invasion or occupation).

The following cartoon was created by Mike Luckovich for the Atlanta Constitution Journal 10/26/05, printed enlarged so that you can read each of the 2,000 names of the American soldiers killed. You can print a full-size version with legible names here.

What can be done? Anyone got a bright idea? Cause I'm in the dark, and all I can see is tragedy and cowardice. Who will lead us into the light and toward peace? What will it take to change the tide?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Bush Regrets Letting Scooter Go

Mikaela says:
Today Bush gave an unscheduled "press conference" to announce his acceptance of Scooter Libby's resignation.

Here's my very loose and wildly inaccurate but meant-to-be-funny transcription (If you're a stickler for truth or a buff for history, see the real thing here) of Bush, speaking from the White House south lawn:

Scooter’s worked tirelessly to deceive the American People and now we’ve asked him to sacrifice much to the service of this country’s fascist leaders. Wait, that's me! No, that's okay, I am. I take that as a compliment about my strength and tenacity.

He served the Vice President and me through extralegal times in this Nation’s history.

Special Council Fitzgerald’s investigation and ongoing legal proceedings are serious, kinda. Okay super-serious. And we’re scared shitless now the process moves into a new phase.

In our system, each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process in a fair trial.

  • Well, unless you’re in GitMo. Hehehe.
  • Or an enemy of the President. Hehehe.
  • And until I can get the last of my minions seated on the Court, at which time we’ll do away with the time waste that is “due process” and just send people straight to detention centers as enemy combatants.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I’m here to talk about Scooter Libby – one of my loyalists, and no one would ever dare to imply that he’s not one of my loyalists and therefore a friend of the State.

  • Well, except those pinko commie liberals who value things like “freedom” and “civil rights” in this country,
  • but you know and I know they’re a dying breed. Or will be soon. Hehehe.

While we are all saddened by today’s news,

  • (and if you’re not, we will round you up like the political dissidents and unpatriotic criminals that you are and send you to GitMo, as I said before)


  • (and by we I mean, the few staffers that I can still convince to stay on the job because really, they’ve already proven themselves loyal to the worst of abusers of government corruption and secrecy, so where are they gonna go? Who else would possibly hire them, right? Am I right or am I right? GodDAMN I like being right. Gotta savor the moments when they come. But I digress…)
we remain wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country.
  • (Mainly the challenges, though, cause let's face it, there are more of those!)

I have a job to do and so do the people in this White House.

  • (At least until the next phase of Fitzgerald’s investigation.)

We got a job to pull on the American people, and that’s what I’ll work hard to do.

I look forward to working with Congress to keep this economy moving forward for my richest friends.

Pretty soon I’ll be naming somebody to the Supreme Court.

  • What’s that? No, that wasn’t a slip up. I’ve decided to dispense with the nomination process and just name someone directly to the bench.
  • Who’s gonna stop me? The Democrats? Don’t make me laugh. Even with this fiasco handed to them on a silver platter, they can’t even pull themselves together long enough to point a gilded finger at me. Fuck them. I want the Court I want, and I want it now.
  • Can't even rely on my own damn right wing to support me? I'll do it alone. Everyone knows I LOVE to be a cowboy. And if there are cameras rolling, then I'm even playing one an tv. Hehehe.

Anyway, enough of this. I’ve got a great vacation planned this weekend at Camp David. Rove’s coming up, too. We’re gonna play strip poker and then watch re-runs of Libby limping to his car from the White House and beat off. Oh, god. Good times. I can’t wait. No time for questions! Tootles.

Putting Humpty-Dumpty Together Again

Mikaela says:
While the President's advisor, Karl Rove, has been momentarily spared from indictment, he's still on the firing squad wall.

It is VERY unclear what will happen with the Grand Jury investigation now, but if the worst happens, and nothing else comes of this, it's going to take a whole helluva lot of the King's Horses and all ALL of the King's men to put this Humpty-Dumpty together again.

Today's quote from the Washington Post will not help him. You'd think today would be a day for humility and gratitude for having been spared and humbled in the scene of the sacrifice of his compatriot, Scooter Libby, to be the fall guy. But no, here's what good ole Karl said to reporters on the way to work this morning:

"I am going to have a great Friday and a fantastic weekend and hope you do too."

What a pompous ass. He may not be a perjurer. He may not have been proven to have done anything illegal -- yet (he's certainly implicated up to his big thick neck!) -- but DAMN. What an asshole.

The First of All the Emperor's Men Falls

Mikaela intones:
Lewis "Scooter" Libby has resigned after being indicted for obstruction of justice and perjury in the Grand Jury investigation about the illegal uncovering of a CIA agent.

From NY Times transcript of Fitzgerald's Press Conference:

"The grand jury's indictment charges that Mr. Libby committed five crimes. The indictment charges one count of obstruction of justice of the federal grand jury, two counts of perjury and two counts of false statements."

Patrick Fitzgerald is the newest American hero.

At the very least, he's a new one of mine. His plain-spoken and straightforward exposition of the initial results of his 2-year investigation enters him into the Pantheon of public figures who take on power and win for the little guy. Here's to justice.

Here's to a dark day in American history. Let's hope he's the first domino of the Emperor's Yes Men to take the fall, start the dominos of facts coming to light, and knocking down all the liars and players in the path that leads straight to the heart of the White House. What's at the center of this labrynth? We can only speculate. And fear.

Formerly Mired and Newly Tire-Tracked Miers Mapped

Mikaela says:
Washington Post has an EXCELLENT article on the Miers Supreme Court nomination debacle.
Chief points to consider (edited for length):

In the beginning:

Day after day, colleagues from the Bush administration grilled her ... in practice sessions meant to mimic Senate hearings. Her uncertain, underwhelming responses left her confirmation managers so disturbed they decided not to open up the sessions to the friendly outside lawyers they usually invite to participate in prepping key nominees.

When Bush floated the idea of her nomination to conservatives:

"All of us who were supporting the White House on this expressed that this isn't a cakewalk," said another lawyer advising the Bush team on the Miers nomination. Others flatly protested and warned against naming her. Miers had not been prominent on anyone's short list but Bush's.
When Rove was still focused on his job:

Recognizing that conservatives might not find Miers exciting, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove tried to lock up a few important figures who would back her, mainly James C. Dobson, head of the evangelical Focus on the Family. As Dobson later recalled it, Rove assured him "that Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian [and] that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life." That was enough for Dobson, and Dobson's blessing was enough for Rove.
But Rove was distracted with his own legal troubles:

In the past, the White House had been able to tamp down conservative unrest over Bush policies on federal spending, Medicare and immigration. But Rove, the president's chief enforcer and ambassador to the right, was recalled to appear before the grand jury investigating the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name, and insiders differ over how involved he really was able to be.
The growing discomfort by conservatives coupled with the lack of leadership (embroiled in legal implications of national security breaches and obstruction of the Grand Jury investigation) from the White House led to more and more people jumping ship on Miers' nomination:

Usually, he said, "the White House rolls out the big guns and everyone pretty much falls in line." But a call from Rove left William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, unpersuaded this time.
Pop goes the weasel.

But here's my question: If the vetting & nomination process uncovered her basic ineptitude and lack of knowledge, clarity, or nuance surrounding the Constitution, doesn't that cast shadows of doubt on whether she's even qualified to be White House attorney, much less a Supreme Court Justice? Especially with the White House so deep in legal trouble?

I think as long as they're searching for a new Chief of Staff for the Vice President, they should fish around for a new White House attorney, too.

HINT: Find someone with some experience with the laws surrounding Secret Intelligence. Oh, while you're at it, find someone who knows a little something about the legalities of Presidential Conspiracy. Just a thought.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Housing Reform: One Vote - One Disqualification

Mikaela says:
I was just talking to my students today about the history of Housing Reform in America, from the disastrous Housing Act of 1949 that kicked off the inner-city neighborhood decimating period of Urban Renewal to the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 that provided Community Development Block Grants and eventually Urban Development Action Grants to fund much-needed intiatives for housing and economic development in our poorest neighborhoods.

We talked about how conservative administrations undercut these programs and left neighborhoods to once again fend for themselves in the unfair playing field of capitalism that stacks the cards against them.

We talked about how once you decide as a society

    1. What housing conditions every person is entitled to as a basic human condition,
    2. What the role of government should be in providing that for each citizen, and
    3. What the right level of public investment should be to procure decent housing for each person,
then you have to figure out what the right method for dispersing public investment should be, whether:
    1. Direct investment in infrastructure or public housing,
    2. Indirect investment in businesses and/or capital markets,
    3. Direct subsidies to put money/food into the hands of those who need it,
    4. Indirect subsidies to/from local governments so that they can decide how to distribute it, or
    5. Indirect subsides to non-profit and community organizations who can provide to residents.
What I didn't tell them was the most recent setback, reported today by Bitch Ph.D.:

The House of Representatives is/was supposed to vote today on H.R. 1461, the Housing Finance Reform Act. It supports creation of affordable housing. Good, right? Well, there's a little provision that's been tacked on by the Republican Study Committee to disqualify non-profits from applying for money if they've engaged in any voter participation activities in the previous year--including non-partisan registering of voters. In other words, this provision ties funding low-income housing to suppressing low-income voting. According to today's House minutes, it looks like a final vote on the bill has been postponed; do contact your Representative to ask them to pass the bill without the RSC provision attached.

Maybe it's just as well. I'm trying to get them to consider Planning as a viable career, not just a gynormous waste of time, energy, and talent in the interest of an impossible cause -- helping communities help themselves by empowering them to understand their own agency and considerable assets while simultaneously leveling the playing field whenever possible so that it's not all so incredibly fucking unfair.

Once again, the conservatives are way ahead of us. The fight goes on.

Dems Outmaneuvered Yet Again?

I hope everyone's following the gathering storm over the implication of Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the outting of CIA operative Valerie Plame in retribution for her husband's outspoken contradiction of the Administration's lies leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

I won't go into it, but if you want more details, the New York Times and Washington Post have been covering the unfolding conspiracy (there! I said it!) quite well.

Now that it appears Rove and/or Libby will be indicted by the Grand Jury, newspapers are falling all over themselves to report how the Republicans, and more specifically, the White House, will "spin" this political disaster. What's the strategy? Who says what? Who agrees, and who has different ideas? (See LA Times, Washington Post, New York Times)

What bothers me is that in exactly NONE of these stories -- not in the New York Times, not in the Washington Post, and not in the LA Times -- does the reporter interview any Democrats. Why isn't the coverage balanced? And if the argument is that the stories themselves don't have to be balanced, then I would argue that at least the newspaper COVERAGE should be, so where are the separate stories asking Democrats about THEIR strategies to exploit this little political windfall to good gain for the country (although I'd settle for what they'll do to strengthen Democrats' standings in upcoming elections)?

Are they not covering it because -- and here's the big fear -- the Dems have NO IDEA what to do with this scandal? Are they going to roll over yet again and pass on this historic moment when they have leverage to insist on accountability from this secretive and manipulative administration because, well, why kick a guy when he's down? COME ON.

Democrats should understand that this is not just a partisan attack moment. This is a significant instance of the abuse of secret intelligence that put CIA operations at risk that protect the safety of this country.

Not only that, but this scandal is a precedent of the administration's top advisors conspiring together to MISLEAD the public about its reasons for invading another country, killing people -- women and children included -- privatizing its resources, and forcing an ill-fitting democracy made in our image and propped up by our military presence, which justifies our continued occupation for as long as we deem necessary.

We talk about Democrats needing to learn how to frame issues to speak of their values and prove to Americans what they stand for. Take this moment to prove that we don't give a rats ass about Rove and Libby as politicians; what we care about is their role in lying to the American people, the Grand Jury, and to the very bosses they supposedly are accountable to (if in fact Bush and Cheney didn't know of their activities, which I grant is highly unlikely)!

The LA Times reports that a recent poll shows most Americans are not following the scandal and don't even know Rove's name.

This is a damning indictment of Democrats -- who should be out there in front of the White House whitewashers to educate the public about the danger to accountability, security, and democracy that the country's top advisors put our country in for their own political purposes. If nothing else, we need to be talking about the safeguards to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again, no matter who's in the White House or which party rules the land.

Democrats: Start Talking! Get it together! We need you now more than ever!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rural character wins... for now

Maggie says:
Last night's County Commission meeting was an important moment for community planning and represented a big victory for rural character and neighborhood rights. By a 5-0 unanimous vote, the Commission denied John Black's proposal to build a large corporate commercial development (Home Depot, Applebees, etc.) on a parcel of agricultural land in the South Valley at Rio Bravo and Coors.

This site is already infamous, as local planning types know, from the fight over the construction of a Super Wal-Mart at the same intersection. The differences are this: whereas the new Wal-Mart, which opened its doors just months ago, sits on an island of city-owned land, the Black site is on County land. This decision really becomes a fascinating point of contrast between City and County governments. What it points out is what the anti-unification/grassroots planners have been saying all along: the County handles development and growth issues much, much better than the City does. And to the pro-unification/liberal planner types who kept telling us to prove it despite the loads of anecdotal evidence already supporting our position, I say: the County Commission did that quite nicely last night, thank you.

The biggest differences between the Wal-Mart and Black cases involve time and process. Residents had barely any time at all to organize against the Wal-Mart two years ago; the process (in classic Wal-Mart fashion) was secretive, rushed, and seemingly approved before the process even began. One of the main reasons information was so hard to come by is that because the Wal-Mart site was City land and it was surrounded by County neighborhoods, proper neighborhood notification never took place. By comparison, the County has been pushing John Black for nearly two years to work with the community to fashion a site plan the neighbors could support. The Black process has been public, extended, and open. Not, keep in mind, because John Black chose to do it that way. His process was open to the community because the County forced him to open it up. And when he still wouldn't listen to the community and did his site plan the way he wanted to anyway, it was denied. Properly so.

These cases also show the extent to which the County Commission is making decisions based on local plans and the extent to which plans don't seem to really matter to the City. When it came down to it, whether or not Commissioners liked John Black or were swayed by the possibility of a big County tax boost, the fact remained that his development did not meet the requirements of the Southwest Area Plan. Enough said. Case closed. As it should be.

Just for fun, let's imagine what might have happened if the Black development was on yet another piece of annexed-for-tax-purposes City land:

  • When County planners and officials complained to the City that they were sticking the County with all the unintended costs of dense commercial development - like roads, infrastructure, public safety, and more - the City would play the tax game, denying the legitimacy of County protests by saying that the County was just jealous they wouldn't be getting the tax boost.
  • Plans? What do you mean? We usually ignore those, anyway.
  • When County residents - the ones who actually live near this site and have to live with its consequences - started organizing, City officials would just scoff at them, talking about how "reactionary" and "anti-growth" this County's rural residents are, ignoring their smart pleas to move the development to a more appropriate location that the Southwest Area Plan would support.
  • And then, of course, the City would also add that the residents just wanted the site moved to County land so the County could get the tax benefits. Since, of course, rural residents are so concerned about county tax rolls and just fake their concern for maintaining their rural quality of life.
Ahhh, planning. So messy, so political, so wrong so much of the time. Yet when it's right, it feels great. This is one of those times. And however short this window of victory is - because South Valley residents know better than anyone that this fight to maintain their rural character isn't ending any time soon - today feels like victory. For a day anyway, I hope the would-be neighbors of an unwanted Home Depot woke up peacefully, went out to feed their horses and chickens quietly, and enjoyed this fine fall morning. God knows they deserve it.

For more on this decision, see the New West Network's When Neighborhood Organizing Works. I just discovered Emily Esterson's blog and like it a lot.

World Players

Mikaela says:
One of my favorite things these days is looking at the SiteMeter World Map to see who all is peeking at m-pyre.

I got a chuckle today on noting that a recent visitor from Kuwait lists the IP address as "Kuwait Ministry of Communations."

Hmmmm. Intentional? And we went to war against Iraq in its name?

ABQ Candlelight Vigils for Peace

Mikaela says:
We've reached a sad marker in our unjust, illegal war in Iraq, with 2,000 Americans killed and uncounted thousands of Iraqis. There will be vigils taking place here in Albuquerque and throughout the country. This is not about only recognizing the American cost of the war in people killed but taking this marker as one important opportunity to stand together in protest and solidarity with those around the world who hope for an end to war.

I have to say that I've never felt the palpable power of community as much as when protesting the start of the invasion in March 2003. There is agency in protest, in immersing yourself in the solidarity of those taking to the streets to fight for peace and an end to aggression. The media may not cover it and politicians may not care, but simply the act of taking a moment out of your everyday life to stand in community with those agonizing over the loss of life and growing injustice that we're outsourcing to the rest of the world is worth it. For itself. As an end in itself.

Passing cars, passing lives, passing people also see that there are others who feel as they do and have strength and courage -- even in such a small act of protest. It may give others the incentive to take steps in the same direction. And for those who disagree, it is a visible reminder that not all of us support this war. Not all of us are hoodwinked. Not all of us will remain silent.

I'm hoping there will be additional vigils not included on this list (please comment with more information if you hear of them), but these are events organized through members:

26 Oct 06:30 PM 2000 Too Many - 2 miles away
Central and Carlisle (Southeast and Northeast corners)
61 registered participant(s) (200 maximum)
Hosted by Laura Johnston
Description My brother is deployed to Iraq on Nov 1st... I will do everything I can to keep him from being part of this terrible list ..... Please join me, bring signs from MoveON

26 Oct 06:30 PM NE Heights Vigil - 8 miles away
NE Heights--Snow Park
25 registered participant(s) (120 maximum)
Hosted by Louise Miller
Description Mostly silent candlelight vigil to honor those who have been impacted by the Iraq War--~2000 US military deaths, thousands wounded, thousands of Iraqi deaths.... My intent is that this be a solemn, respectful, welcoming experience. We have permission from the City to use the space on the grass. Thanks in advance for your courage and participation.

26 Oct 06:30 PM 2000 Too Many - 10 miles away
Demonstration at Montgomery and San Mateo
14 registered participant(s) (300 maximum)
Hosted by Stuart Riley
Description This will be a demonstration of respect. The theme of the signs displayed should be, "Bring Our Troops Home" and "How Many More". You can download signs from the MoveOn web site. If you come early, like 5 pm, you can show signs to the go home traffic. The message is, "Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home Now".

26 Oct 06:30 PM Candlelight vigil - 11 miles away
in front of soccer park, adjacent to post office
15 registered participant(s) (200 maximum)
Hosted by Kim Mellor
Description I will confirm if permission is necessary from the village and will post asap if not. On the shoulder, no pavement but some distance from the traffic; candles will be provided

You can check throughout the day for vigils in your area here.

If nothing else, I hope we can all take a moment of silence to commemorate all the loss and to clear our minds to create the space for courage to take the next steps toward peace.

Plan B -- Plan Ahead!

Mikaela says:
There are amazing articles at the Duke City Fix and Bitch Ph.D. today about pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for Plan B, the emergency contraceptive.

Just remember that this drug is to PREVENT conception. It does NOT abort fetuses; it PREVENTS fetuses (and therefore, abortions for unwanted pregnancies).

Apparently Albuquerque has a significant percentage of pharmacists who refuse to dispense Plan B. GuestBlogger uncovers where and why and offers information about how to stock up so you don't get screwed after ... well ... getting screwed.

Bitch Ph.D. offers commentary on the hypocrisy of religious leaders in Arizona who say on the one hand they support Plan B in rape cases while supporting pharmacists who won't dispense it.

This is such an important issue for women's reproductive rights, as Plan B has the potential to reduce the pain and trauma of abortion and the lifetime consequences of unwanted children.

Let's also remember that attempts to force women to carry unwanted children does not just show a hatred and fundamental disrespect of women but also full intention of perpetuating a system of perpetual poverty for low-income and minority communities.

(For more on this, see the Rights' argument about minority women needing to "keep their legs closed" and Chapter 4 in Freakonomics, which links the lowered crime rate in America with access to abortion after Roe v. Wade.)

Wal-Mart nefariousness exposed on Health Care for Workers

Mikaela says:
What's the real story? You decide.

On October 24, the New York Times wrote this story:

Wal-Mart Expands Health Care for Workers

And today, October 26, the New York Times writes this story:
Wal-Mart Memo Suggests Ways to Cut Employee Benefits Costs

There is no acknowledgement by the paper that the two stories are contradictory. That seems ... unethical and irresponsible and ... outrageous for a paper with the Times' reputation. What's behind it? And does the author of the mouthpiece article from the 24th feel properly ashamed? We can only hope so.

Still, the paper should issue a retraction or at least point out that previous reporting should be re-analyzed in the light of this significant unveiling of the deeper maneuvering of Wal-Mart executives. They are playing with PR fire, and the Times got burnt. If nothing else, the Times should be mad enought to point out just how duplicitous Wal-Mart was in this case.

Why would we ever belive a press release from Wal-Mart again? I would hope that the Times would never print an article without intensive vetting of each of Wal-Mart's claims in the future.

Just look at how awful this discrepancy is.

From the first article:
Wal-Mart, which has long been criticized for the benefits it offers to its workers, is introducing a cheaper health insurance plan, with monthly premiums as low as $11, that the company hopes will greatly increase the number of its employees who can afford coverage.
Health insurance specialists generally praised the new plan, saying its lower premiums were likely to attract more employees and thereby reduce the ranks of the uninsured.
From the second article:
An internal memo sent to Wal-Mart's board of directors proposes numerous ways to hold down spending on health care and other benefits while seeking to minimize damage to the retailer's reputation. Among the recommendations are hiring more part-time workers and discouraging unhealthy people from working at Wal-Mart.
The memo acknowledged that Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, had to walk a fine line in restraining benefit costs because critics had attacked it for being stingy on wages and health coverage. Ms. Chambers acknowledged that 46 percent of the children of Wal-Mart's 1.33 million United States employees were uninsured or on Medicaid.
The theme throughout the memo was how to slow the increase in benefit costs without giving more ammunition to critics who contend that Wal-Mart's wages and benefits are dragging down those of other American workers.

Acknowledging that Wal-Mart has image problems, Ms. Chambers wrote: "Wal-Mart's critics can easily exploit some aspects of our benefits offering to make their case; in other words, our critics are correct in some of their observations. Specifically, our coverage is expensive for low-income families, and Wal-Mart has a significant percentage of associates and their children on public assistance."

The memo noted that Wal-Mart workers "are getting sicker than the national population, particularly in obesity-related diseases," including diabetes and coronary artery disease. ... "The least healthy, least productive associates are more satisfied with their benefits than other segments and are interested in longer careers with Wal-Mart."

"It will be far easier to attract and retain a healthier work force than it will be to change behavior in an existing one," the memo said. "These moves would also dissuade unhealthy people from coming to work at Wal-Mart."

UPDATE: See today's LA Times for article laying out the above, but be forewarned that I do not agree with its characterization of the discrepancy of Wal-Mart's message as simply reflective of its "mission" to bring low-cost goods to America. Let's be clear this is about PROFIT, plain and simple, at the expense of their workers, suppliers, and distributors.

Monday, October 24, 2005

anti-war Merle Haggard...yes, that's right.

marjorie says...

One of my favorite radical online publications is highlighting one of my favorite country music artists: Merle Haggard is the topic of an article in Counterpunch.

May I die and go to heaven now?

The article in question is written by none other than the editorial director of, and it lauds Merle for speaking his mind about the war in Iraq:

"That's the News," his 2003 song commenting on Iraq, pretty much chastised the government and the media for swallowing the administration's spin that the war was over and won. Now he moves on to the matter of the U.S. being in Iraq, period. "Rebuild America First" is pretty honest and blunt. In part, he sings:

"Yea, men in position but backing away
Freedom is stuck in reverse
Let's get out of Iraq and get back on the track
And let's rebuild America first."

"Haggard also comments on the current political and social scene in the song, "Where's All the Freedom?" He describes a country almost paralyzed by uncertainty, a nation where the Ten Commandments can't be displayed, where the grandparent of a soldier in Iraq can't afford to buy gasoline to drive to the grocery store, where individual rights are uncertain anymore.

"He concludes: "Are we a nation under God anymore/How long do we cower down/Is this really still our ground/Our country is like a prisoner of war/Where's all the freedom that we're fightin' for."

Things to remember about country music: it is full of mockery, it can be incredibly tongue-in-cheek, and at its best it’s a great celebration of working people in this country. Sure, much of it plays to the reactionaries of the world. But, if going home each year for our annual small town festival reminds me of anything, it’s that there's a lot of agreement out there among people--even among those who have different cultures and different politics. The challenge is to move past polarizing positions, to suspend judgment and really listen. One thing I heard loud and clear over the past weekend spent in small town Texas is a strong dissatisfaction with Bush and Co. among my libertarian relatives, and the willingness to be critical among my republican relatives. It just warmed my heart, folks.

Bush to Onion: Hey! You Stop That!

Mikaela says:
The New York Times reports that White House lawyers wrote a cease-and-desist letter to the Onion about its use of the Presidential Seal to accompany spoof articles.

They cited that you can't use the seal for commercial purposes (but the Onion is free, so doesn't really apply), and spoofs are only spoofs when people can TELL they're spoofs. It appears the most recent Onion spoof article about the President "Bush to Appoint Someone to Lead the Country" was too close to reality to qualify.

Isn't that ... funny?

100,000 Rings

Maggie says:
See, all it takes is for me to get out of my house and into Winning's, and news just comes to me. (Not to worry, folks, I'll meet the deadline...)

Just got handed this flyer, of interest to many of you locals, I think:

100,000 Rings
International bell ringing ceremonies to grieve and protest the deaths of Iraqis in the US/UK war and occupation

Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Justice Not Vengeance, Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, and Stop the War Machine call for bell ringing ceremonies October 24th - 28th.

During the era of sanctions on Iraq, the US and British governments sought to obscure the "price" being paid by the Iraqi people for US and British foreign policy. Today, Geoge W. Bush and Tony Blair seek to hide the mounting toll of death in Iraq as a result of the war and occupation. In doing so, they seek to limit our compassion. They seek to stifle our opposition and resistance. They wish to manage our compassion for our fellow citizens fighting in Iraq and the depth of our grief for the families of those who have died. They wish to silence us.

George W. Bush and Tony Blair ask for patience. They claim the "staying the course" and "completing the mission" are the best ways to "honor" the coalition forces who have died or been injured in this war.

We disagree.

We reject the fantasies that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are constructing, claiming to increase security through military adventurism. We are appalled by their disregard for the welfare of American and British citizens sent to fight in Iraq. We are appalled by the silence surroudning the suffering and death of the Iraqi people, caught on a battlefield without borders in the crossfire of a war they didn't start or invite.

In the last year, three major published reports have estimated deaths caused in Iraq by war and occupation. All three studies (the Lancet study published in October 2004, the UN Development Program report published in May 2005, and the Iraq Body Count study published in July 2005) found that tens of thousands of people had died in Iraq as a result of the US/UK invasion and occupation of Iraq.

All three studies have been perofrmed with care and professionalism. Each study demonstrates the gravity of the crisis into which the Iraqi people have been plunged. Even so, we believe that all three studies under-estimate the death toll in Iraq.

We mourn these lives lost, and wish to do so publicly.

Smell of heaven, brain-charge I need

Maggie says:
Winning's is roasting coffee beans right now. This place is electric. Tables packed, convresation lively, people I like around me, and coffee roasting. Two more hours to turn in Draft 2, and suddenly I can do this. I can!

In other news, I checked my mail today and had about ten news magazines waiting for me. Yeah, I've been off in Neverland for a while now. Soon I'll be brimming with news analysis and opinionated talk. Soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Not ready to blog, but I can list!

Maggie says:
Too many words left to write to (finally!) get my master's... too few words for a real m-pyre post. I can, however, brain-fart in bulleted lists. Hopefully I'll be back smarter than ever in a few weeks. As it stands now, I can barely even read the Journal in the morning, and we all know how little stamina and thinking that takes... (ooh! look how snippy she is under stress!)

Through the haze of writing about "reflective community-government intermediaries," I'm realizing that this world of staring blankly at my laptop is full of small discoveries and tiny moments. My current lists include:

Current events

  • Even though I used to occasionally roll my eyes at Charlie Rose, I've come to the conclusion that he is actually the man. Late nights of writing without cable TV distractions can provide that kind of change in heart.
  • This Tom Delay stuff is delicious. I can't wait for that mug shot smile to come back and haunt him.
  • Go White Sox! The strangeness of cheering for Crazy Carl Everett is somehow balanced by the sinister delight of seeing Roger Clemens choke - yet again - when it finally counts.
  • I'm following Harriet Miers like everyone else, yet I can't help but feel uneasy gender stuff at the way she's been treated. I don't see the need for the press to constantly reference high heels and lipstick, nor do I think it's a sign of true gender equality that Miers is being trashed by women. The minute we start telling ourselves we're now gender-blind we lose more than this battle, we lose the war.
  • Flying Star now serves hummus! This is major. FS is just blocks from my house, so it's the closest place to get online late and hopefully stumble upon an inspiring change in scenery. But if I'm not hungry enough for the tempeh burger (or not in the mood to spend $10), I used to be out of luck there. Yet now - now! - I can order the Hummus Nosh, which gives me a bowl of hummus with warm pitas, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The perfect snack. And not $10!
  • I own a car this week. Through a strange combination of borrowed/shared/unneeded cars, I've somehow never owned a car all to myself before. This week, I do. Weird.
  • Once again I'm feeling surrounded by great company here in Albuquerque. I run into amazing people doing amazing things all the time. For everyone out there making a difference in your own way - putting something new into the world, using your voice however you do it best - I feel lucky to be part of your spirit. Creative folks - and you all know who you are - are as fundamental to a great place as air. Thank god you're around, and you'd better not leave us too soon. Albuquerque needs you now more than ever.
  • To my little Community and Regional Planning class (I've had one confirmation that, ahem... my blogging habit has been discovered), you guys are great. Nothing has more recently confirmed my sometimes overly optimistic faith in humanity more than teaching CRP 265. Watch out, Albuquerque - you have some kick-ass future planners ready to make you more human. I can't wait to watch them all in action. And man, they make me laugh and laugh and laugh. What an awesome group.

Friends and Family
  • Dad: Florida.... blah. How about if I send you all my recent Nation magazines to keep you company? Not the same as Mom, but it's something...
  • The sign of a damn good friend is when she comes to your door in the midst of your writing panic bearing cheesecake. And not just any cheesecake, but Flying Star Almond Caramel Cheesecake. One slice with a cup of fresh-brewed coffee will get anyone - even me - off their ass and into writing mode. Two hours with Mikaela and her gifts of cheesecake and conversation Friday night, and I was a new woman. Remember how I was just saying that Mikaela's my cup of coffee and comfort food all at once? This is what I'm talking about.
  • Sometimes I have distinct "living through your friends" moments, and this is one of them. For instance, I hear a girlfriend describe a certain glorious moment with a certain good guy, and I feel glorious, too. And then another girlfriend tells me of a crappy moment with a crappy guy, and I feel crappy. And also like I want to tear apart men who hurt my friends. Recently someone remarked that my friends and I "have each other's backs." Well, yeah. So stupid guys who want to do stupid things, watch out. I will come after you. And nice guys who make my friends happy, I will hug you.
  • For more reasons than I can count, I have a mentor/friend/hero/boss/thesis chair who deserves all the recognition for being amazing that she can get. You know her. She's the coolest elected official ever, not to mention the best lunch date I've had in ages. Thanks, T.

Yam stalking is ON

Maggie says:
As you all know by now, the world-famous Gilmer, TX Yamboree is taking place this weekend. And as a supportive friend of our own yam Marjorie, I'm staking out the Yam Cam right now for a peek at our girl in action.

Word on the street is that Marjorie will be waving to the Yam Cam at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time. That's right, folks -- in just ten minutes!

Get yourself some Yam action while it's hot!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Liberal vs. Progressive: What's in a Name?

Mikaela says:
Our sexy populist in a recent post expounded upon the difference between liberals and progessives, a conversation that Marjorie and I had a few months ago. You know! It comes up.

Mr. Sirota outlines excellent points about the very real differences with good illustrative examples, but in my mind he's missing the real kicker. The lynchpin. The one that makes all the difference.

As Mr. Christian Socialist declares in his (hilarious) comment to the post, "A liberal is a capitalist who believes that somehow or another, capitalism can be twisted to act in the public interest." A progressive thinks the system itself must change. But that's as far as Sirota goes.

What he's missing is this:

Progressives perceive/acknowledge/fight the structural inequality of the current capitalist system and seek to change it BECAUSE MERE ECONOMIC REFORMS ADVOCATED BY LIBERALS WILL NEVER ADDRESS THE FUNDAMENTAL INEQUALITIES.
Phew. Felt really good to get that off my chest.

Carry on. Talk amongst yourselves.

Check the post out for yourself. The comments are highly educational in terms of the spectrum of debate on this key issue.

Fighting for America

Mikaela says:
It's time to pick it up, America. Time to turn up the heat. Things are getting hot in Washington, but we cannot be satisfied with the removal of a few Bush fall-guys (as deceptively satisfying as that may seem). It's systematic, people. Systematic. Keep that in mind when you feel good that the Bush empire is in shambles. The truth is that Bush has put key players in place that will be difficult to remove for years to come. I know it's a good sign that his Miers Supreme Court nomination does NOT look like a cakewalk.

But let's keep in mind how comprehensive his efforts have been in re-shaping everything from the global economy to the balance of global powers to the welfare state to the public education system to the exploitive relationship of corporation to the public and the business to the worker.

Today's story in the New York Times about a speech by former aide to Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson, that sets out what we all suspected and whisper about in broad daylight -- what Wilkerson calls a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to undermine foreign policy and pursue a neo-con agenda that has made the country more, not less, vulnerable to future crises.

Some quote highlights:

  • "I would say that we have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita - and I could go on back," he said. "We haven't done very well on anything like that in a long time."
  • Mr. Wilkerson suggested that the dysfunction within the administration (secrecy, arrogance and internal feuding) was so grave that "if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence."
  • The former aide referred to Mr. Bush as someone who "is not versed in international relations, and not too much interested in them, either."

Today's Democracy Now interview with former UN weapons inspector Scott Ridder is a much-needed reminder of just how bold-faced their lies really are -- all of those politicos in both Democratic and Republican parties who have hijacked our country and delivered it into the pockets of corporations.

Today's e-mail from Barbara Boxer demonstrates just how hard it is for well-meaning politicians to make any headway against the climate of lies and continued brazen attempts to capitalize on a bad situation to justify even worse choices (read: invading Iran and Syria, eviscerating tort law under the guise of "safety" of gun ownership as seen in the aftermath of Katrina, and pushing through more tax cuts for the wealthy in the name of "doing something" to help).

  • She asks UN Ambassador John Bolton about his efforts to "eliminate the UN's Millennium Goals that would reduce poverty, improve education, reduce mortality rates, protect the environment, and reverse the spread of AIDS." Yeah, sounds AWFUL, doesn't it? Those are some goals that we just can't get behind, world. I mean, what good will they do US? But he doesn't answer the question. Just says, well, but the UN put those goals back into the final document! (Which if nothing else is an admission of his own ineffectiveness -- thank god and let's hope it continues!)
  • She presents Condo-sleazy Rice (who Scott Ridder tellingly slips up and calls the country's Cheap global Diplomat) with a petition signed by over 100,000 Americans asking for a clear outline of our strategy in Iraq and timeline for withdrawal, and Rice does the ole classic bait-and-switch and changes -- yet again -- the outlines of our mission there. Turns out we went to Iraq as part of the mission to remake the Middle East. Huh. Funny. I've thought that before, but I never heard the Bush administration come out and say that. Would Congress have voted to go to war with Iraq over such a mission? Would the American people have supported it?
But this is not just about Iraq -- although, yes, that is a dire reality that must be addressed IMMEDIATELY in order to save lives that are lost everyday to a conflict manufactured to save face for American politicians. But the lead-up to war in Iraq is just a classic illustration of the climate of deception and willing victim hoodwinking that's allowed Bush to attack all levels of American life, negatively impacting the quality of life for all but the wealthiest and most powerful.

It's everywhere; everyone in Washington is winking and nodding, still, getting ready to send the sacrificial lambs Rove and Libby down the river; the information is out there to be had; more and more government officials are "leaking" and defecting and telling their stories; and there STILL is no momentum toward stopping the madness.

The fucking emperor has been outted. He's dancing around naked; the little boy has already pointed and laughed. We've all gotten red-faced, caught in our own complicity of cowardice, yet no one's telling him to put clothes on, as though there's just no easy way out of this situation because we all told him it was okay to do what he was doing all along.

We'd all have to admit that we were wrong; we were hoodwinked; we allowed it to happen; we winked, too. Well, I'm waiting, America. How many more have to die -- in Iraq, in Florida, in Mississippi, in Louisiana -- silently in city after city due to poverty that only gets worse as capitalism accelerates the profit-imperative -- slowly year after year with cancers caused by all the chemicals we refuse to tell corporations they can no longer produce?

So how about it, America? Ready to try something new? Something drastic like, I don't know, having a conversation about our values? How about reversing some of the trends to fuck the little guy and pat the rapist on the back with tax cuts and no health care requirements?

It will take a long time, strong leadership, and our continued patience and support -- and most of all -- clarity about our values -- absolute clarity and solidarity in our shared values, because we do have them. Let's remind those in power (not to mention continue our efforts to BE those in power) that we value equality -- economic, social, educational, and political -- above comfort, freedom above entertainment, justice above security (which has really only been stolen from us because of a concerted campaign of fear and an emboldening BY OUR political, economic, and military action of the very people they tell us to fear!).

Say it with me, now: equality, freedom, justice for all. For ours is the power. To take now and forever.

It's time for the emperor and all his corporate attendants to go home -- paid-for democrat & republican "leaders" in tow. We've got it from here, fellas.

Sorry, world. We'll strive to do better ourselves. Now, how can we help?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Of Yams and Yam-ness

Mikaela says:
Well, Marjorie's off yamming it up in Texas at the annual Yamboree in her hometown. SUCH a Yam Queen!

I'm hoping she'll do some on-the-spot reporting. I'm REALLY hoping she delves into the race issue, describing for us the picture of parallel universes of black and white coexisting and converging around this small-town square. She's got a doozy of a story about a "race riot" that took place one year, but even the every-year descriptions of how black and white people live together -- not segregated but not integrated, either, are fascinating and important because it's not often talked about. It's typical life in small towns in the South, yes, but how much different is the picture from our big cities, really?

Well, I say that and then post this little gem: There's a yam-cam. Yes! It's true! Your own little window into this Yam World! Wanna see for yourself? Click here and enjoy.

Now let's wait for the inside scoop from our m-pyre observer... Marjorie? How's it lookin?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Preponderance of Bad News for Bush: i.e. Banner News Day for US

Mikaela says:
A quick look at today's headlines signal bad things for Bush (good things, perhaps, for the rest of us):

  • Rumors are flying that Cheney might quit over the CIA leak, taking Rove and Scooter with him.
  • Supreme Court Nominee Miers anti-abortion stance has been outted -- and conservatives STILL don't like her
  • Yet another hurricane of record force bears down on Florida while a recent report from Purdue University cites greenhouse gases as the cause of recent extreme weather
  • CIA director Goss continues to lose directors and experts at the head of the agency to the point where the Senate is calling him in for a behind closed doors to explain why the CIA is losing leadership and staff during a war and as things heat up all over the globe, including a discussion of what he plans to do to stem the leak.
  • Recent testing shows little improvement in public education despite No Child Left Behind. This coupled with recent calls for the need of an educated populace in order to maintain our economy strike me as serendipitous and may at least stimulate a conversation about whether we, as a nation, continue to support public education (and why we MUST).
White House of cards. Earth's moving. Wind's picking up.

May someone better be ready to pick up the pieces and help repair what has been torn asunder. Nominations?

Rebuilding Rich and White: Race and Class in New Orleans - cont'd

Mikaela says:
Today's Washington Post story -- The Economics of Return -- provides a vivid picture of how class and race are reshaping New Orleans in the wake of Katrina.

[I]n New Orleans, where affluent whites live high and working-class blacks live low, the privileges of neighborhood quickly asserted themselves. For many, race and class predicted patterns of escape, dictating whether flight would be a nervous drive out of town or a caged week of torment and humiliation.

These days, as planners and politicians look ahead, many realize that the future of this city, which before the storm was more than two-thirds black and nearly one-third poor, swings on two simple questions:

Are residents coming home? If so, which ones?

It now appears that long-standing neighborhood differences in income and opportunity -- along with resentment over the ghastly exodus -- are shaping the stalled repopulation of this mostly empty city.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

And just like that, m-pyre left as abruptly as it appeared

Mikaela says:
Just joshin'.

No, really. The 3 ms are busily hurtling toward graduation. Two ms will make it by December, and one will squeegie (sp?) in by January (I hope). m-pyre posts may be a bit sporadic from here til then, but we hope you'll check in with us now and again, maybe even to leave some encouragement or perhaps remind us that there's an outside world -- we'll need to remember why we're going through the torture of a masters degree when we could just sink into middle class daily doldrums and live lives of quiet obscurity. That's a legitimate choice, right? Isn't it? Right? Even with Bush & Co. doing everything they can to make that an impossible option?

Okay, okay. We'll graduate, dammit.

With something to say, a helluva lot to prove, and some energy and passion to make it happen!

Or else.

(See me in January for what "else" could constitute...)

Point to ponder in our absence: What's the sound of one m humming?

If a post falls on deaf ears, will anyone comment? Hmmm?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Celebrate m-pyre's birthday with us!

Believe it or not, m-pyre is turning one year old this weekend! Yay us!!! This is cause for celebration. Not to mention drinking. So meet us at our favorite hang-out to toast m-pyre with us!

m-pyre Happy Hour
Pearl's Dive*
Monday, October 17

See you there!

Oh, and if there's a good reason you can't celebrate with us on Monday - like continental divides, giving birth, or house arrest - feel free to compliment us and wish us a happy birthday anyway. We're always hungry for comments and compliments, after all...

*If it's not too cold, we'll be on the back patio.

Privatizing Public Universities

Mikaela says:
The New York Times today runs an article laying out the danger of privatization of America’s state universities. Where taxpayers have traditionally supported higher education, corporations are now taking the lead.

Why should this matter?

  1. Public universities helped create the middle class in America and supported the technological advances that have helped the economy, sure, but more importantly have led to finding cures for disease and improving the quality of life for millions of people. Politically, an educated middle class helps keep democracy strong. Could this be one reason why the establishment doesn’t seem to care about the decline in our universities?
  2. Having corporations support public education means for-profit ventures now define what’s worth learning. As the former president of University of Wisconsin puts it, “America is rapidly privatizing its public colleges and universities, whose mission used to be to serve the public good. But if private donors and corporations are providing much of a university's budget, then they will set the agenda, perhaps in ways the public likes and perhaps not. Public control is slipping away.”
  3. Professors are pressured to do research and downplay their teaching roles and responsibilities. Because of the changing economic imperative to find outside financial support, University Presidents have to spend their time schmoozing with rich donors instead of focusing on education goals – recruiting and retaining good teachers and students and providing the best atmosphere for learning and innovation.

A recent Homecoming Reunion at the General Honors Program at UNM brought home to me this quickly shaping reality.

The University Honors Program (its official name – UHP) since its birth in the early 1980s has been an independent department within the university, with tenure-track faculty with the explicit mission to be interdisciplinary and focused on teaching. Modeled on small liberal arts colleges, the classes are all seminars, limited to 15 students, and graded on an A, pass, or fail scale. On a personal note, the Honors Program is the only reason I had a good education as an undergraduate. I took all the classes I possibly could. The teachers were actually TEACHERS. Classes were discussions of the most important kinds – intelligent, motivated, curious people sitting around hashing out what’s important and what’s just modern circus performance.

UNM’s new president just “found” a bunch of money from corporate donors to fund a renovation of the UHP’s home, expanding the number of classrooms and offices for faculty. In exchange, he is pressuring the UHP to change its grading system to match the University’s, to hire “research” faculty, and to deny tenure to faculty that “only” focuses on teaching.

The sole source of my education and ongoing intellectual pursuits and curiosities is about to get pulled under this wave of privatization pressure.

I fear for the middle class and for higher education. Most of us can’t afford to pay even in-state tuition, and scholarships are drying up, too. Public education at the high-school level and below is being systematically dismantled and undermined by this administration. Even funding toward medical research and technology are now dominated by corporations – these capitalist abstractions with no accountability to anyone that do not see any value to “public good” if there’s no profit motive.

(Check out Charlie Rose’s interview with former Intel President Andrew Grove – who rocks, by the way – on his views about medical research and the danger we’re in. Now that he’s been diagnosed with Prostate cancer, suddenly he’s concerned with public health. Still, he’s got some amazing ideas and a powerful argument.)

So mass epidemics like avian flu, AIDS, and the continued preponderance of new cancers will crop up more and more frequently, and we will rely solely on one corporation’s monopoly – or a few corporations’ oligopoly – to save us? How can that possibly be a good idea, even to rich people who think they’re insulated?

Is an educated populace really so dangerous as to risk our position as “first world” nation for people who care about that? Am I missing something?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

thanks gals, & Happy Birthday!

marjorie says...

I want to thank Mikaela and Maggie for letting me be part of this m-pyre world during the past year. What can I add to what’s been said? How about simply this: M&M inspire the dickens out of me with their creativity, their enthusiasm for whatever they happen to be stirring up, their critical analysis, and their belief in a positive future. Thanks to you both for your kind words, and for being my friends. Yes, that’s right! Here, and in the real world too! I love you both. Aw shucks.

It’s been a lot of fun diving into the muckraking blogging universe, particularly the burgeoning Albuquerque/New Mexico community. I think I can speak for all three of us when I thank all of you who read m-pyre, not to mention all of you who write your own blogs and comment on ours, for the discourse…and the occasional bit of diatribe. To name just a few who’ve been particularly great: Erik at Alterdestiny, Chantal and the gang over at Duke City Fix, Karlos at SWOPblogger, lb at Native Land Blog, and Arvin at Carnival of Horrors. We hope you will all continue reading m-pyre in the coming year, and that you’ll share your thoughts with us along the way.

Friday, October 14, 2005

deconstructing m-pyre

distinguishing ms:
We three ms
of left orient are

  • thinkers (unanimous)
  • radicals (on a sliding scale)
  • irreverent iconoclasts (relatively)

moments of doubt
ms rally strength from different sources
  • marjorie looks first to Marx, then Chomsky, then Emma
  • maggie looks to political leaders – national, local, dead guys
  • mikaela looks to the poets – any with good answers (questions) and better grammar

the end of the world
each m faces east resolutely
  • marjorie will post pictures of apocalyptic fire
  • maggie will cook our last meal
  • mikaela will brood to see what she could have done to prevent it

a qualitative method
and political-blog strategy
  • marjorie cuts left
  • maggie shores us up from the side
  • mikaela rails from the bottom

the place m-pyre makes
even when ms return to where they came from
  • marjorie dances with Texas
  • maggie beachcombs North Carolina
  • mikaela spews ash from long-dead Albuquerque volcanos

all of them
ms to the last
gentle and firm
  • independent
  • strong
  • women

pointing the right direction
to anyone brave enough to ask

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Honoring Maggie: an m-pyre birthday tribute

Mikaela gushes:
Maggie is m-pyre’s link to the real world. Ever grounded, ever diligent, Maggie sees the world through her own prescription real-but-rose-colored glasses. Where the world sees a glass half-empty, Maggie sees room for change. Her wise optimism and unfailing courage shore up m-pyre’s tendency toward morose despondence. She writes devastating critiques and useful directions for improvement in minutes – posts that would take the rest of us a good solid week to write, if at all. Her constant energy and unflagging efforts to right the wrongs that she sees clearly without blinking or whining or tiring at the thought of their bigness or complexity make her an asset to whatever community she fights for, from m-pyre to school to the entire South Valley. Impeccable, conscientious, and fierce in her standards for herself and those around her, Maggie is a task master, make no mistake, but her work is all but unassailable. She’s the fire that drives her collaborations. And did I mention fun? This girl can move from searing political commentary to jeans/ass assessments without missing a beat. She’s the all-round, all-terrain, all-wheel-drive vehicle that takes you anywhere you wanna go. You always wanna go with Maggie; she makes every place she goes the place to be.

Maggie is such a natural writer, with clear insight, incredible analysis, and warm humor. Just sample her range: from warm and fuzzy to eviscerating to patient doggeded persistence. She's local, she's national, she's movies and music, and more.

  • October 2004: Maggie makes even me care about the Red Sox
  • November 2004: Maggie shows full-spectrum, from loving her some community thanksgiving to telling us exactly what we lost – or didn’t lose – in the national election
  • January 2005: What Maggie sees is simply amazing. Why Dean is the right choice for the DNC. Maggie cuts through the hypocrisy of EPA “strong woman” who failed
  • February 2005: Maggie takes on Wal-Mart
  • May 2005: Maggie fights for women. Maggie to New York Times editor: “Wanna know what a woman thinks? Ask one.” On misogyny and women’s health. Special May bonus: Maggie to Marty: "shove it."
  • June 2005: In fine ranting form, Maggie asks about Republican Kansas State Senator Kay O'Connor, “Will Someone Destroy This Woman, Please?”
  • July 2005: On Independence Day, Maggie so wants to love America unreservedly!
  • August 2005: Maggie sees future Iraqi vets in alleged recent murderer Jason Kearns in ABQ. With cutting local election analysis, Maggie takes Eric Griego to task.

Honoring Marjorie: An m-pyre Birthday Tribute

Maggie says:
Marjorie is the most committed woman I know. She’s like a lion that makes the rest of us look small and wimpy by comparison. Her passion for justice spans advocating for youth in Albuquerque to advocating for poor countries on a global scale. She is ferociously serious – except when she’s not, which is the fun of being her friend. Marjorie will switch from railing against the WTO and capitalism in one breath to talking about Texas and quilt collecting in the next, and that is exactly why I adore her. There is nothing quite like seeing her huge blue eyes flame up in anger about politics and then start twinkling when someone mentions skiing. Ah, Marjorie. Sage. Prophet. Lovely, wonderful person who makes me laugh and laugh. Marjorie can almost always make me feel frivolous by comparison, not because she means to, but because she’s just that good at what she does, which is thinking critically, taking on the world in her head, and confronting issues big and small right here in town via local protests. As merely one of Marjorie's extensive fan club, I salute this Texas gal with all my heart!

Here’s Marjorie doing her thing for the last twelve months:

FYI: Haloscan shows no comments for all old posts, but click anyway, they’re still there!